A Battle Between a Great City and a Great Lake – The New York Times

“In the search for ­­­­­a big-city refuge from climate change, Chicago looks like an excellent option. At least, it does on a map.

It stands a half-continent away from the threat of surging ocean levels. Its northern locale has protected it, to some extent, from southern heat waves. And droughts that threaten crops, forests and water supplies in so many places? Chicago hugs the shore of one of the grandest expanses of freshwater in the world.

Water is, in fact, why Chicago exists. The nation’s third-largest city grew from a remarkable geographical quirk, a small, swampy dip in a continental divide that separates two vast watersheds: the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin­­. In the 19th century, Chicagoans dug a canal linking those two watersheds, transforming their muddy town into a metropolis of commerce by making the riches of the American Midwest accessible to the world.”

“. . . But even as a metropolis rose from the mud, the flat landscape never went away. Storm and wastewater drainage in the young city was next to impossible, leaving streets smothered in a septic goo. In wet seasons, the quagmire was so deep it prompted signs along downtown streets issuing an ominous warning: “No bottom.”

“It was woe to the unlucky teamster who chanced to disregard the warning,” the Chicago Tribune wrote in 1859, “for generally his horse had to be dragged out by the neck.”

Chicago couldn’t fix this problem the way other cities did, by laying sloped sewers. The land was so low, it was impossible to place sewers below the streets and still have enough tilt to carry wastewater into the Chicago River.

Chicago History Museum

So, Chicago’s leaders got creative. Instead of putting sewers under the streets, they put sewers on top of the streets, then built new roads atop the old ones. They effectively hoisted the city out of the swamp.

Buildings in downtown were raised by as much as eight feet, an enterprise that required placing immense beams and jackscrews beneath their foundations. Then, a conductor would direct hundreds of laborers in the precisely choreographed turns of the screws to lift the structures out of the muck.

“The superintendent takes his stand,” the Chicago Tribune wrote at the time, and with a “shrill whistle” directs the crew to begin. “He continues his whistle long enough for every man to turn each screw one complete round of the thread. Thus the building is raised at every point precisely at the same moment.”

It was a feat of engineering as audacious as it was ultimately ineffective at solving Chicago’s predicament. ‘  . . .

Dan Kaufman | Scott Walker’s Wisconsin Paved the Way for Donald Trump’s America – The New York Times

Mr. Kaufman is a writer and musician who grew up in Wisconsin and writes frequently about labor, politics and the environment in his home state.

“Ten years ago, after overcoming a monthslong protest movement and legal battle, a law called Act 10 took effect in Wisconsin. The nondescript name cloaked the most significant attack on labor rights since President Ronald Reagan broke the air traffic controllers union in 1981.

Ostensibly meant to address a shortfall in the state’s budget, Act 10 steeply cut the state’s contribution to workers’ pensions and health care premiums, but its defining feature was to effectively eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees. Most important, it sparked a nationwide attack on labor that fueled the rise of right-wing populism and helped elect Donald Trump.”

Farhad Manjoo | Can California Start Taking Droughts Seriously, Please? – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

Drought may be the sneakiest of natural disasters. Although human history teems with people engulfed by abrupt aridity — the Akkadians of four millenniums ago, the Maya in the ninth and 10th centuries A.D., the Great Plains farmers of the 1930s — even today drought is a poorly appreciated phenomenon. Unlike mighty storms or thundering eruptions, droughts slink into our lives invisibly, unannounced. It can be hard to know you’re in a drought until it’s too late to do much about it; then, when the rains come back, it can be just as difficult to believe the water will ever run out again, so why worry about the next dry spell? Donald Wilhite, a pioneering scholar of drought, calls it the Rodney Dangerfield of natural disasters. Drought has felled entire civilizations, but still it gets no respect.

The American West is once again facing drought, one of the worst on recordAcross a vast region encompassing nine states and home to nearly 60 million people, the earth is being wrung dry. About 98 percent of this region is currently weathering some level of drought, and more than half the land area is under extreme or exceptional drought, the most severe categories.

How Climate Change Has Battered the West Before Summer Even Begins – The New York Times

Brad PlumerJack HealyWinston Choi-Schagrin and 

“A heat dome is baking Arizona and Nevada, where temperatures have soared past 115 degrees this week and doctors are warning that people can get third-degree burns from the sizzling asphalt.

At Lake Mead, which supplies water for 25 million people in three southwestern states and Mexico, water levels have plunged to their lowest point since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. In California, farmers are abandoning their thirstiest crops to save others, and communities are debating whether to ration tap water.

In Texas, electricity grids are under strain as residents crank their air-conditioners, with utilities begging customers to turn off appliances to help avert blackouts. In Arizona, Montana and Utah, wildfires are blazing.

And it’s not even summer yet.

“We’re still a long way out from the peak of the wildfire season and the peak of the dry season,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Things are likely to get worse before they get better.” “

“. . . Lake Mead, which was created when the Hoover Dam was finished in 1935, is at 36 percent capacity, as flows from the Colorado River have declined more quickly than expected. The federal government is expected to declare a shortage this summer, which would trigger a cut of about one-fifth of water deliveries to Arizona, and a much smaller reduction for Nevada, beginning next year.

Experts have long predicted this.”

Opinion | Why Life Without Parole Isn’t Making Us Any Safer – The New York Times

Mark Boyer, Asaf Kastner and 

“Robert Richardson robbed a bank of about $5,000 in 1997 and was sentenced to 60 years in prison without the possibility of probation or parole. He was 30 years old when he was locked away in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, making his penalty a virtual life sentence.

Mr. Richardson doesn’t deny that he did wrong. He concurs with the adage “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”

But in the video guest essay above, he contends that life sentences without parole are counterproductive — for the prisoner and society alike — and should be prohibited. He is joined in the video by his wife, Sibil Fox Richardson, whose decades-long effort to secure his release was documented in the film “Time,” and by one of their sons, Freedom.

Mr. Richardson focuses his lobby on Louisiana, one of the states with the most prisoners serving life sentences without parole. Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana has sought to shed the state’s reputation as the nation’s incarceration capital, signing into law a package of criminal justice reform bills intended, in part, to reduce the size of the prison population.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT comment:
Excellent video work NYT. I agree with this ex con and his cause. Some of the Europeans are way ahead of us in this embarringly bad area of US justice. “21 years The longest sentence allowed in a Norwegian prison is 21 years, although the new penal code allows for a 30-year maximum sentence for crimes related to genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes. Incarceration in Norway – Wikipediaen.wikipedia.org › wiki › Incarceration_in_Norway”

Opinion | How Joe Manchin Could Make the Senate Great Again – The New York Times

Mr. Shapiro, a Senate staffer from 1975 to 1987 and a former counsel for Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, has written extensively about the U.S. Senate, including in two books.

“The United States urgently needs a functioning Senate, which operates, in the words of the former vice president and senator Walter Mondale, as “the nation’s mediator.” Unfortunately, what we have instead is a body that, among other things, cannot pass a bill to create an independent commission to examine the Jan. 6 insurrection or to defend national voting rights.

Senators must confront what has proved to be a debilitating obstacle: the legislative filibuster — more precisely, the minimum 60-vote supermajority requirement for most legislation.

This problem has fallen to Senate Democrats, who hold a narrow majority, and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia will be a decisive vote for any reform of the arcane rule. Mr. Manchin has defended the need for the filibuster, often citing the legacy of his predecessor Robert C. Byrd.

Mr. Byrd was the keeper of the Senate flame: The longest-serving senator and its foremost parliamentarian and historian, he never stopped believing that the Senate was “the premier spark of brilliance that emerged from the collective intellect of the Constitution’s framers.” ” . . .

‘Self-confident yet selfless’: Yale’s David Swensen dies at 67 | YaleNews

“. . . . No fewer than 15 former members of Swensen’s team have gone on to lead investment offices at other institutions, including, at various times, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, the Rockefeller Foundation, Wesleyan University, and Bowdoin College. Some two-thirds of them are women. Smith College recently announced that it had hired Swensen protégé Lisa Howie ’00 B.S., ’08 M.B.A. as its first chief investment officer.

Astonishingly, of the 15 top-ranked endowments based on performance over the past 10 years, six are managed by Yale Investments Office alumni,” said Takahashi, who served as senior director in the Yale Investments Office for 33 years. (He is now the founder and executive director of the Carbon Containment Lab at Yale School of the Environment.)

Teaching was important to Swensen, both in the classroom and in the Investments Office. On Monday, he and Takahashi taught the last spring semester session of their celebrated seminar course, “Investment Analysis.” Swensen, an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, led discussion of a new case study.

After co-teaching the course for more than two decades, Takahashi said, the pair could “finish each other’s sentences.”

In 2014, when the university presented Swensen with an honorary degree, Polak added two extra words to the formal tribute: “and teacher.”

He was so happy about that,” Polak said. “For years to come he’d remind me that we added those two words.”

Former Vassar College President Catharine B. “Cappy” Hill ’85 Ph.D., the senior trustee of the Yale Board of Trustees, called Swensen “a consummate teacher and university citizen.”

All those who have passed through the investment office, engaged with him through the investment committee of the university, or taken one of his courses have benefited from his enthusiasm for educating and mentoring others. His obvious love for and commitment to Yale contributed to the university in many ways, and will be remembered and valued by all those who had the good fortune to know him.”

Through two books Swensen wrote — “Pioneering Portfolio Management: An Unconventional Approach to Institutional Investment” and “Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment” — he also helped the broader investment community learn his way of thinking.

Source: ‘Self-confident yet selfless’: Yale’s David Swensen dies at 67 | YaleNews

Nicholas Kristof | Lessons for America From a Weird Portland – The New York Times


Opinion Columnist

Credit…Imagespace/Alamy Live News


“PORTLAND, Ore. — As an Oregonian, I’ve always been proud of this picture-postcard metropolis, so I’ve been pained to see it portrayed as a war zone or dying city, and doubly pained when a local businessman recently recounted to me his effort to recruit an executive from out of state.

The executive came for a visit — and, when she saw today’s Portland, with its homeless camps and boarded-up shops downtown, declined the job.

I think that executive erred: Whatever the scars from big protests that began last summer against racial injustice, this city has strong fundamentals and is resilient. But the travails here are real and offer lessons for the rest of the country about the uses and abuses of progressivism.

Last summer President Donald Trump inflamed the crisis in Portland by sending in unneeded federal troops to deal with mostly peaceful protests. That aggravated the upheaval, provoked months of rioting and empowered fringe groups, and perhaps it also obscured the need to stand resolutely against violence by local troublemakers on both left and right. There was too much deference to people sowing chaos under the banner of social justice, perhaps for fear of seeming unprogressive, and after the feds left, the city never tried hard enough to pivot to re-establish order.

Just this week, there was new rioting in Portland after a white police officer in Minnesota shot and killed a Black man, Daunte Wright. Portlanders have reason to protest peacefully — the police arrest African-Americans in the city at four times the rate of whites, one study found — but violence doesn’t serve any cause other than the election of Republicans.

The local slogan is “Keep Portland Weird,” but businesses boarded up to protect against rioters suggest not weirdness but melancholy. A beautiful elk statue that had presided in a park for 120 years had to be removed after its base was vandalized by protesters. Activists have defied the law and taken over a building known as the Red House, frightening neighbors.

Underscoring the concern for law and order, this year Portland is on track to reach 100 homicides, far exceeding the record of 70 set in 1987.  . . . “

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT |NYT Comment:

Thank you Nicholas Kristof. Empty headed young progressive radicals are attempting to dismantle town government right here in Hamden CT. These idealistic idiots on the left are doing damage in many parts of the country. Their behaviour is so insidious, it is hard to describe or counter. Your op-ed is a great description of the damage done by well meaning liberals, who are essentally intellectually lazy.

Wall Street Is Donating to Tali Farhadian Weinstein. Is That a Problem? – The New York Times

Even had she not raised more money than her rivals, Tali Farhadian Weinstein would be a formidable candidate in the nine-way race to become the Manhattan district attorney, perhaps the most high-profile local prosecutor’s office in the country.

She was a Rhodes scholar, has an elite legal résumé and is the only candidate who has worked for both the Justice Department and a city prosecutor’s office. And while most of the candidates are campaigning as reformers intent on reducing incarceration, Ms. Farhadian Weinstein, 45, has staked out a slightly more conservative position, expressing concerns about guns and gangs.

But what most sets Ms. Farhadian Weinstein apart from the field is her fund-raising. As of January, she had raised $2.2 million, far more than her competitors, hundreds of thousands of it from Wall Street, where her husband is a major hedge fund manager.

Her opponents, legal ethicists and good government advocates have raised questions about that support, pointing out that the Manhattan district attorney, by virtue of geography, has jurisdiction over a large number of financial crimes.” . . .

David Lindsay Jr.

David Lindsay Jr.Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:l

Is there an established mechanism where this talented female lawyer could recuse herself, if a case involves one of her major donors? I just watched the Oliver Stone movie, Wall Street, with Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen, and it was an eye opener. Gordon Gecko teaches Bud Fox, that only good trade is more or less guaranteed by insider information. But I digress slightly. Ms. Weinstein has much more on her long resume, than just finacial support from a few rich friends who are hedge-fund investors.

David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion” and blogs at InconvenientNews.net

Wisconsin Governor Declares State of Emergency Over Wildfire Conditions – The New York Times

“Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin on Monday signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency in response to elevated wildfire conditions, underscoring statewide efforts to control fires that have already burned nearly 1,500 acres this year.

The executive order allows state agencies to assist in wildfire prevention, response and recovery efforts.

It also allows support from the Wisconsin National Guard, according the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“With nearly the entire state experiencing high or very high fire risk, protecting Wisconsinites from the destructive dangers of wildfires is a top priority,” Mr. Evers said in a news release.

In the past week, there have been 149 wildfires across Wisconsin, according to a map on the department’s website, and there have been at least 340 fires since the start of the year.

Over the weekend, the majority of Wisconsin was under a very high risk for fire danger, including counties along the Illinois state border and counties along Lake Michigan. Wildfire conditions across the state will persist as long as there is a mix of dry vegetation, unseasonably warm temperatures, low humidity and increasing winds, the department said.

Burning permits for debris piles, barrels and grass were suspended last week, and fire officials advised residents to avoid all outdoor burning, including campfires, and to properly extinguish cigarettes.

While wildfires can occur at anytime of the year, the department said, the majority of fires happen between March and May, making spring the most critical fire season in Wisconsin.”