Heat, Smoke and Covid Are Battering the Workers Who Feed America – By Somini Sengupta – The New York Times

By 

Photographs by 

“STOCKTON, Calif — Work began in the dark. At 4 a.m., Briseida Flores could make out a fire burning in the distance. Floodlights illuminated the fields. And shoulder to shoulder with dozens of others, Ms. Flores pushed into the rows of corn. Swiftly, they plucked. One after the other. First under the lights, then by the first rays of daylight.

By 10:30 a.m., it was unbearably hot. Hundreds of wildfires were burning to the north, and so much smoke was settling into the San Joaquin Valley that the local air pollution agency issued a health alert. Ms. Flores, 19, who had joined her mother in the fields after her father lost his job in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, found it hard to breathe in between the tightly planted rows. Her jeans were soaked with sweat.

“It felt like a hundred degrees in there,” Ms. Flores said. “We said we don’t want to go in anymore.”

She went home, exhausted, and slept for an hour.

All this to harvest dried, ocher-colored ears of corn meant to decorate the autumn table.

Like the gossamer layer of ash and dust that is settling on the trees in Central California, climate change is adding on to the hazards already faced by some of the country’s poorest, most neglected laborers. So far this year, more than 7,000 fires have scorched 1.4 million acres, and there is no reprieve in sight, officials warned.”

“. . . .  The valley is abnormally dry in parts, and in drought in others. Dust swirls up from the fields like a genie. Many creek beds are parched. The rivers have been twisted and bent every which way to bring water from the north for the fields. Since mid-August, for over two weeks, daily high temperatures have ranged from 97 degrees Fahrenheit to 108″

Opinion | Help Me Find Trump’s ‘Anarchists’ in Portland – By Nicholas Kristof – The New York Times

By 

Opinion Columnist

“PORTLAND, Ore. — I’ve been on the front lines of the protests here, searching for the “radical-left anarchists” who President Trump says are on Portland streets each evening.

I thought I’d found one: a man who for weeks leapt into the fray and has been shot four times with impact munitions yet keeps coming back. I figured he must be a crazed anarchist.

But no, he turned out to be Dr. Bryan Wolf, a radiologist who wears his white doctor’s jacket and carries a sign with a red cross and the words “humanitarian aid.” He pleads with federal forces not to shoot or gas protesters.

“Put your gun barrels down!” he cries out. “Why are you loading your grenade launchers? We’re just standing ——” “

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Kristof wrote: “I’m against all violent attacks on officers, and I worry that Trump’s provocations are succeeding in seeding violence — as we’ve already seen in Seattle, Oakland and elsewhere. Every time angry progressives burn a building down, they win votes for Trump.’ I agree with this.
The protestors lose when this happens, and Trump wins. The mayor should announce a curfew, and enforce it, so after a few hours of evening protest, all the law abiding citizens leave the scene peacefully, It is time to stop giving Trump the civil war he needs for re-election.

Coronavirus Testing Falls Woefully Short as Trump Seeks to Reopen U.S. – The New York Times

“As President Trump pushes to reopen the economy, most of the country is not conducting nearly enough testing to track the path and penetration of the coronavirus in a way that would allow Americans to safely return to work, public health officials and political leaders say.

Although capacity has improved in recent weeks, supply shortages remain crippling, and many regions are still restricting tests to people who meet specific criteria. Antibody tests, which reveal whether someone has ever been infected with the coronavirus, are just starting to be rolled out, and most have not been vetted by the Food and Drug Administration.

Concerns intensified on Wednesday as Senate Democrats released a $30 billion plan for building up what they called “fast, free testing in every community,” saying they would push to include it in the next pandemic relief package. Business leaders, who participated in the first conference call of Mr. Trump’s advisory council on restarting the economy, warned that it would not rebound until people felt safe to re-emerge, which would require more screening.

And Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York reiterated his call for federal assistance to ramp up testing, both for the virus and for antibodies.

“The more testing, the more open the economy. But there’s not enough national capacity to do this,” Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, said at his daily briefing in Albany. “We can’t do it yet. That is the unvarnished truth.”

As the governor spoke, a PowerPoint slide behind him said, “WE NEED FEDERAL SUPPORT.” “

California’s Coronavirus Shutdowns Set the Tone. What’s Its Next Step? – The New York Times

“Mr. Garcetti, the Los Angeles mayor, has been guided by history, spending his nights and weekends studying how California cities responded to the 1918 flu pandemic. One of his key takeaways is that acting too soon to reopen could be disastrous, citing a second wave of infections in 1918 that proved more deadly than the first.

In 1918, “L.A. acted quickly and kept with it,” he said. In contrast, San Francisco, he said, “had also done really well but then came out of it too quick, and had a second spike in the short term, which killed a lot of people.”

Epidemiologists say transmission dynamics will differ by state, city and neighborhood.”

Opinion | Trump to New York: Drop Dead –  -By Jennifer Senior The New York Times

By 

Opinion columnist

“So it’s essentially come to this: President Trump is treating each of our 50 states as individual contestants on “The Apprentice” — pitting them against one another for scarce resources, daring them to duke it out — rather than mobilizing a unified national response to a pandemic.

If that’s the case, this is the episode where New York loses. The coronavirus is whipping through the state, especially New York City, at a terrifying rate. We need personnel, ventilators and personal protective equipment, stat.

But Trump’s response has been the same as President Gerald Ford’s in 1975, when our city, faltering on the brink of insolvency, begged Washington for help and was brutally rebuffed, a moment forever enshrined in The Daily News’s headline “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.””

Opinion | Southern Democrats Saved Joe Biden – By Mara Gay – The New York Times

By 

Ms. Gay is a member of the editorial board.

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

“At the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, things look much as they did a half-century ago.

The site is now home to the National Civil Rights Museum, a remarkable collection that includes a replica of a firebombed bus ridden by the Freedom Riders as they traveled through the South protesting segregation in 1961.

Inside the museum the other day, a woman sat down beside me and wiped away tears. “I’m sorry,” she said. “What gets me is, after all this time, look what’s happening right now.”

Credit…Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Southern Democrats — particularly black Democrats — are hoping to keep the history that surrounds them in the past.

Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina explained this in visceral terms when he announced his support for Joe Biden late last month, an endorsement that began with Mr. Clyburn, 79, talking about the first time he was arrested protesting for civil rights decades ago. “When I sat in jail that day, I wondered whether we were doing the right thing, but I was never fearful for the future,” he said. “As I stand before you today I am fearful of the future of this country. I’m fearful for my daughters and their futures, and their children, and their children’s futures.”

Mr. Clyburn said he was sure Mr. Biden was the right choice. “I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us,” he said. Three days later, Mr. Biden won a convincing victory in the South Carolina primary, launching him into his Super Tuesday triumph and the front-runner status he enjoys today.”

Why Did Biden Suddenly Sweep Virginia? Credit Trump, These Voters Say – The New York Times

“. . .  Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia attributed Democratic turnout in the state to deep disgust with the Trump presidency among Democrats and moderate Republicans.

“We have to give tremendous credit to Donald Trump,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “He has been the single biggest driver to the Democratic Party of Virginia. There are a lot of like-minded Republicans who said, ‘I can’t vote for Trump but you got to give me somebody who we can vote for.’ Biden was always at the top of that list.” “

Opinion: What has happened to Hamden? – By Ann M. Altman – New Haven Register

“In 1974, heavily pregnant, I moved to Whitneyville from New Haven. Hamden seemed a natural place for Yale faculty to raise a family, with excellent schools and public services and, in the 1980s and 1990s, it didn’t disappoint.

The elementary school, middle school and high school provided a wonderful education to both my children. My son, having completed the high school curriculum, was able to take courses at Yale University during his senior year, with the bill picked up by the Board of Education. My daughter benefited from the extraordinary theater program, helping to teach classes for special education students and winning ensemble prizes at the state drama competition. As she said on one such occasion, “When I saw that all the judges were crying, I knew we’d won.”

Now, decades later, what has happened to Hamden? It is still outstanding, first in its class in Connecticut but, unfortunately, not because of its schools and public services but because it has the highest per capita debt of all the 169 towns in the state.

According to the municipal finance indicators published recently by the state’s Office of Policy and Management, every man, woman and child in Hamden is in debt to the tune of $18,368.

To give you an idea what that means, consider that the per capita debt in Bridgeport is $13,776 and in Hartford it is $11,700. Even New Haven, the second on the list, only has a per capita debt of $15,595.

How do the financial markets view Hamden’s remarkable record of first- (or worst-) in-state? Moody’s has lowered Hamden’s bond rating to Baa3, one grade above “junk,” adjudging the town among the bottom three in Connecticut.

To meet the town’s financial obligations, taxes on homeowners have been raised exorbitantly, with the mil rate now approaching 50. In addition, homeowners have to pay separately for treatment of their wastewater, a service that was included in taxes paid in the 1980s and 90s.

Source: Opinion: What has happened to Hamden? – New Haven Register

Michael Bloomberg has been a fervent supporter of Israel, to a point – Mondoweiss

“The latest surprise in a presidential race full of surprises is the news that Michael Bloomberg is considering a third-party run if it appears that non-establishment candidates Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or Bernie Sanders might actually capture his respective party’s nomination. Bloomberg could become America’s first Jewish president, Haaretz says; and the news has got people wondering, what is Michael Bloomberg’s record on Israel?

The 73-year-old former mayor has been extremely supportive of Israel with what seems like a generational Jewish attachment. He has funded buildings in his parents’ names there and he  flew to Israel a year and a half ago to declare that it was within its rights to bomb Gaza to smithereens (a judgement against international law). He has adopted neoconservative positions on foreign policy and aided Islamophobic efforts in New York city. Yet in a couple of instances, Bloomberg has disappointed the Israel lobby.

Here are highlights of his record on Israel and related questions:

Bloomberg was an early and vocal supporter of the Iraq War, though apparently he cooled off on it later.”

Source: Michael Bloomberg has been a fervent supporter of Israel, to a point – Mondoweiss

Editorial: CT right to reconsider future power needs – New Haven Register

“It hasn’t emerged as a major issue in the pending state legislative session, but a speech this month from Katie Dykes, the state’s commissioner of energy and environmental protection, could be a precursor to a major change on how the state procures its power supply.

As in many states, Connecticut talks a good game when it comes to climate change, and has enacted policies that aim to limit emissions while preparing resilience plans for coastal communities that are likely to be the hardest hit by rising global temperatures. But the state also continues to follow old policies that exacerbate the problem, whether by encouraging suburban sprawl by focusing transit plans on highways or by continuing to build power plants that rely on fossil fuels.

This is a pressing issue. A recently opened power plant in Oxford can generate up to 800 megawatts of electricity, but it relies on burning natural gas. Another gas plant underway in Bridgeport will be smaller but also work against the state’s long-term goals of limiting greenhouse gas emissions. And an approved but as-yet-unbuilt natural gas plant in Killingly has drawn protests from around the state, with opponents saying the project is outdated and unnecessary.

Dykes appears to agree, which is striking given that DEEP, under previous leadership, approved the plant.

Natural gas has been held up by many officials as a necessary improvement from dirtier coal and oil, but while the emissions from newer plants are not as severe as the older facilities they are replacing, the overall impact of natural gas is far from benign. From the hydraulic fracturing that frees it from under the ground to inevitable leakage along the way, natural gas may on balance be just as harmful in the long term as coal and oil. Any real move forward on limiting emissions must reckon with the harms of natural gas power plants.

Dykes said a big part of the problem lies with ISO New England, which oversees the regional power grid and holds auctions for new power generation. The facilities still need to be approved by local and state governments.

Source: Editorial: CT right to reconsider future power needs – New Haven Register