How Record Heat Wreaked Havoc on Four Continents – By Somini Sengupta- Tiffany May and Zia ur-Rehman – NYT

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By Somini Sengupta, Tiffany May and Zia ur-Rehman
July 30, 2018

Expect more. That’s the verdict of climate scientists to the record-high temperatures this spring and summer in vastly different climate zones.
The continental United States had its hottest month of May and the third-hottest month of June. Japan was walloped by record triple-digit temperatures, killing at least 86 people in what its meteorological agency bluntly called a “disaster.” And weather stations logged record-high temperatures on the edge of the Sahara and above the Arctic Circle.

Is it because of climate change? Scientists with the World Weather Attribution project concluded in a study released Friday that the likelihood of the heat wave currently baking Northern Europe is “more than two times higher today than if human activities had not altered climate.”

While attribution studies are not yet available for other record-heat episodes this year, scientists say there’s little doubt that the ratcheting up of global greenhouse gases makes heat waves more frequent and more intense.

via How Record Heat Wreaked Havoc on Four Continents – The New York Times

Political Bubbles and Hidden Diversity: Highlights From a Very Detailed Map of the 2016 Election – The New York Times

“An interactive map published by The New York Times allows you to explore the 2016 presidential election at the highest level of detail available: by voting precinct.This map, although nearly two years old, continues to define American politics. The vast majority of people who voted for Donald J. Trump say they approve of his job performance today, while the vast majority of Hillary Clinton voters say they disapprove.

On the neighborhood level, many of us really do live in an electoral bubble, this map shows: More than one in five voters lived in a precinct where 80 percent of the two-party vote went to Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton. But the map also reveals surprising diversity.”

To Take the Senate- Democratic Group Will Spend Big in Red States – By Alexander Burns – NYT

By Alexander Burns
July 26, 2018

131 comments
“A heavily funded Democratic group will spend tens of millions of dollars to mobilize voters in the Republican-leaning states where control of the Senate is likely to be decided this November, stepping in to fill a void left by years of decay in Democratic infrastructure at the state and local level.

Senate Majority PAC, the principal “super PAC” supporting Democratic efforts to capture the chamber, intends to steer at least $20 million into the voter-mobilization campaign ahead of the midterm elections, officials with the group confirmed. The program, which follows a similar — successful — Democratic effort in Alabama last year, underscores the degree to which outside groups that can take massive donations have supplanted the traditional role of political parties.

The initiative by Senate Majority PAC — which will run through an affiliated nonprofit group, Majority Forward — will span more than a dozen states where Senate seats are at stake. But it is to focus on four states above all: Missouri and Indiana, where endangered Democrats are seeking re-election, and Arizona and Tennessee, where strong Democratic challengers are running for open seats currently held by Republicans.

Those four races are among the country’s most competitive. And for Democrats to take control of the Senate, they would likely have to win at least three of them, or perhaps all four, depending on the outcome of races in other states.”

Worried About the I.R.S. Scam? Here’s How to Handle Phone Fraud – By Christine Hauser – NYT

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By Christine Hauser
July 26, 2018

Lee Meyer, a retired New York City schoolteacher, recently began getting strange telephone calls on weekday afternoons. A woman claiming to be a Treasury Department official left a message and a phone number, Mr. Meyer said, telling him he needed to settle a “tax-fraud charge” or else he would be hauled in front of a “magistrate judge.”

His reaction? “I laughed,” he said. “I wasn’t born yesterday.”

Mr. Meyer, 83, did not return the calls, having learned long ago what law enforcement and consumer protection officials say many Americans need to remember: The Internal Revenue Service does not call people and threaten legal action or harass them over debts.

The Justice Department recently highlighted that message when it announced it had broken up a vast I.R.S. impersonation operation in which conspirators in the United States coordinated with call centers in India from 2012 to 2016, causing “hundreds of millions of dollars” in losses to more than 15,000 victims.

via Worried About the I.R.S. Scam? Here’s How to Handle Phone Fraud – The New York Times

Mueller Examining Trump’s Tweets in Wide-Ranging Obstruction Inquiry – by Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman – NYT

by Michael S. Schmidt and Maggie Haberman
July 26, 2018
16 comments
“WASHINGTON — For years, President Trump has used Twitter as his go-to public relations weapon, mounting a barrage of attacks on celebrities and then political rivals even after advisers warned he could be creating legal problems for himself.Those concerns now turn out to be well founded. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is scrutinizing tweets and negative statements from the president about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to three people briefed on the matter.

Several of the remarks came as Mr. Trump was also privately pressuring the men — both key witnesses in the inquiry — about the investigation, and Mr. Mueller is examining whether the actions add up to attempts to obstruct the investigation by both intimidating witnesses and pressuring senior law enforcement officials to tamp down the inquiry.

Mr. Mueller wants to question the president about the tweets. His interest in them is the latest addition to a range of presidential actions he is investigating as a possible obstruction case: private interactions with Mr. Comey, Mr. Sessions and other senior administration officials about the Russia inquiry; misleading White House statements; public attacks; and possible pardon offers to potential witnesses.”

Opinion | Trump Has No Idea What His Tariffs Have Unleashed for Farmers – By Robert Leonard – NYT

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By Robert Leonard
Mr. Leonard is the news director for the radio stations KNIA and KRLS.

July 26, 2018


A farm near Amana, Iowa.CreditScott Olson/Getty Images
“KNOXVILLE, Iowa — Today President Trump is visiting Dubuque, Iowa, where every year at harvest time, millions of tons of grain come via rail and truck to be loaded onto barges on the Mississippi River and shipped to Mexico, China and much of the rest of the world. Harvest puts coin into the hands of farmers, and they and their communities — indeed all of America — profit. Not this year.

The president is here to trumpet a $12 billion plan to aid American farmers. Why do they need aid? For Iowans, it’s because 33 percent of our economy is tied, directly or indirectly, to agriculture, and Mr. Trump recklessly opened trade wars that will hit “Trump country” — rural America — hardest and that have already brought an avalanche of losses. Indeed, the impact of his tariffs will probably be felt by family farms and the area for generations.

So perhaps visiting Dubuque is the least he could do.

The cost of being shut out of overseas markets for soybeans, beef, pork, chicken and more will be in the billions. Once those markets are gone, they will be difficult to recover. Commodity prices continue to drop, and good weather suggests an excellent crop is in the making, which will drive prices further down.

Brazil is ready to step in with increased soybean production, and China has already shifted its purchasing power there.

via Opinion | Trump Has No Idea What His Tariffs Have Unleashed for Farmers – The New York Times

A Conservative Answer to Climate Change – By George P. Shultz and James A. Baker III -WSJ

A Conservative Answer to Climate ChangeEnacting a carbon tax would free up private firms to find the most efficient ways to cut emissions.1742 COMMENTS
By George P. Shultz and James A. Baker III
Updated Feb. 7, 2017 7:07 p.m. ET
“Thirty years ago, as the atmosphere’s protective ozone layer was dwindling at alarming rates, we were serving proudly under President Ronald Reagan. We remember his leading role in negotiating the Montreal Protocol, which continues to protect and restore the delicate ozone layer. Today the world faces a similar challenge: the threat of climate change.

Just as in the 1980s, there is mounting evidence of problems with the atmosphere that are growing too compelling to ignore. And, once again, there is uncertainty about what lies ahead. The extent to which climate change is due to man-made causes can be questioned. But the risks associated with future warming are so severe that they should be hedged.The responsible and conservative response should be to take out an insurance policy. Doing so need not rely on heavy-handed, growth-inhibiting government regulations. Instead, a climate solution should be based on a sound economic analysis that embodies the conservative principles of free markets and limited government.We suggest a solution that rests on four pillars. First, creating a gradually increasing carbon tax. Second, returning the tax proceeds to the American people in the form of dividends. Third, establishing border carbon adjustments that protect American competitiveness and encourage other countries to follow suit. And fourth, rolling back government regulations once such a system is in place.”

Source: A Conservative Answer to Climate Change – WSJ

Opinion | Why Your Phone Service Is So Expensive – by David Leonhardt – NYT

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Many Americans pay close to $100 a month for smartphone service. And this pricetag isn’t some natural reflection of the service’s value. In many other countries, smartphone plans cost much less.

The economists Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago and Mara Faccio of Purdue estimate that Americans pay $50 billion per year more than they would if they instead were paying European prices — for the same quality service. That translates into about an additional $30 per month for every American household.

Zingales discusses this research in a Times op-ed and argues — correctly, I believe — that it highlights the problem with antitrust policy in the United States. We have allowed companies to grow too large, to the point that many of them have outsize power. They can raise prices, as they are doing in the cellphone market, as well as hold down wages and unduly influence government policy.

via Opinion | Why Your Phone Service Is So Expensive – The New York Times

Opinion | The New Know-Nothings – By Jennifer Finney Boylan – NYT

By Jennifer Finney Boylan

Ms. Boylan is a contributing opinion writer.
July 25, 2018
“My fellow Americans: It is my honor today to announce the formation of a new political party, which I am calling “the Republican Party.”You can be forgiven for thinking, Wait, don’t we already have one of those? But please. Under Donald Trump, the Republican Party, at least as we once understood it, has become a fantastical entity, a creature not wholly unlike the Abominable Snowman, or the Chupacabra, or the mythical Squonk of central Pennsylvania, the imaginary creature that spends its days deep in the forest, weeping in despair at its own hideousness.

“There is no Republican Party,” said John Boehner, a former Republican speaker of the House, back in April. “There’s a Trump Party. The Republican Party is kind of taking a nap somewhere.” ”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval

Opinion | America First or Trump First? – by Thomas Friedman – NYT

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The second I finished watching President Trump fawning over Vladimir Putin in Helsinki — refusing to defend the conclusions of his own intelligence services about Russia’s interference in our 2016 elections — I knew I was seeing something I’d never seen before. It took a few days to figure it out, but now it’s obvious: I was seeing a U.S. president put Russia first, not America first.

On each key question — how much Russian agents were involved in trying to tip our elections, how that issue should be further investigated, and Putin’s behavior on the world stage generally (like his government’s involvement in the downing of the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine, the murder of Russian journalists and the poisoning of a former Russian spy in the U.K.) — Trump embraced Putin’s explanations and excuses over the judgments of his own spy agencies, Justice Department, European allies and bedrock American values.

via Opinion | America First or Trump First? – The New York Times