Category: WTF

Will monster wildfire seasons become the new normal?


Harley looks just like our Sheila

In the end, Ira and Carolyn Hodge drove out with some photos, their clothes, their horse and their dog, Harley.

Their home took seven years for them to build and contained everything they owned – vehicles, mementos from their parents, memories. All of it was reduced to fine ash when the fire swept down the high sides of the densely forested gorge that bottoms out at Canyon Creek in Grant County, Oregon, six hours’ drive east of Portland.

“It was a monster,” Ira says. “A beast.”

He and Carolyn were helping a neighbour hose down their house when it became clear the fire was moving with astonishing speed towards them. “We had five minutes to get out,” Ira recalls. They tossed the few things they had gathered in their car, rounded up their frightened horse and fled over a wooden bridge that burned behind them.

Ira has since talked to experts who came up to survey the damage. They said that the flames may have reached 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit – hot enough to melt copper and aluminium. They sifted through the rubble and there was almost nothing left.

Harley recovered just one possession: a charred bone he had buried somewhere in the yard.

When you drive south out of John Day, up into the canyon towards the Malheur national forest, the flattened homes and the blackened Douglas firs and ponderosas tell this summer’s story.

Wildfires are capricious, and some houses are untouched. But those that the fire found were razed, and the forest it burned will take decades to recover.

Thirty-six homes were destroyed in Grant County on 14 August. That night, the Canyon Creek Complex fire became the most destructive in Oregon for 80 years. The national media glanced and moved on, but the fire is still burning on just over 105,000 acres. That’s about 10 times the size of Manhattan.

In Oregon as a whole, there are 11 large fires burning on 435,799 acres. In Washington there are 14 burning on 900,000 acres. This season – which is still in full swing – has seen 1,422,880 acres burned in the two states, or 2,223 square miles, an area just a little smaller than the state of Delaware.

More than 11,000 firefighters are still in the field. Firefighting resources in the American west are completely committed, and both states have called out their national guardsmen to help contain the blazes. Firefighters have come from as far away as Australia and New Zealand to pitch in, and three firefighters died while in duty.

RTFA. These fires have become an annual national emergency. People are to blame, habits and carelessness are to blame, short-term weather is often to blame and, yes, climate change plays a significant role.

That may be hard to understand for someone who has never had their home or community threatened by a wildfire; but, it is true.

I do not count climate change deniers as relevant. It’s hard to count them as useful citizens of Earth.

Canadians can’t stop laughing over Scott Walker’s border wall proposal

PeaceGarden
Click to enlargeObviously, we need a wall here…

Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford says Canada has no plans to invade the United States – and that Americans can rest assured the threat from the north is receding.

There is no need, the ailing mayor and most cackling Canadians seem to agree, for the 5,000-mile wall along the Canadian border that presidential candidate Scott Walker suggested this week is “a legitimate issue” on the campaign trail to the White House…

“I don’t have a problem with the States,” the outspoken former mayor declared in a brief interview with the Guardian on Monday evening, as he limped toward Toronto’s Rogers Centre to watch the city’s surging Blue Jays baseball team play the Cleveland Indians, a rival visiting from the far side of unfortified Lake Erie.

Most Canadians, the former magistrate known for smoking crack added, are similarly well-disposed toward their southern neighbours – and understand full well that such an endeavour would be nearly impossible anyway…

“It’s ludicrous and hilarious,” a Blue Jays fan named Neil from Toronto said of Walker’s fleeting flirtation with a norther border wall. “But that’s the Republicans.”

Bonnie, from nearby Milton, could not stop laughing at the mention of Walker’s name. “He’s a nutcase,” she exclaimed. “They can’t afford healthcare, but they can afford walls.”…

Defending the US-Canadian border would – hypothetically, of course – require a wall 8,891 kilometres long, with 2,475 kilometres devoted to protecting Alaskan wilderness and even more wall running down the middle of the Great Lakes.

Citing preliminary estimates made by the US Department of Homeland Security for the cost of a southern wall with Mexico, the Toronto Star estimated the cost of a Walker-style wall at “north of $18 billion (US)”…

Cheerfully channeling Sarah Palin, Mike Bradley boasted that he can see America from his window in the Canadian border town of Sarnia, where he is mayor. But to him and others who have watched the increasing militarisation of the formerly undefended border over the past decade, Walker’s comments were no joke.

“This is just ongoing,” Bradley said, citing examples of unexpected hostility on the northern border since 9/11 including plans to launch observation balloons, proposals to charge fees for crossing the border, and live-fire exercises by US coast guard patrol vessels armed with machine guns.

The difference between ignorant and stupid requires that “stupid” work at defending their beliefs. So, what Canadians call the world’s longest undefended border is just one more opportunity for nutball militarists to resolve a paranoid delusion with guns.

Asylum seekers enter Norway in the Arctic – from Russia – by bicycle

Norway Arctic border crossing
Click to enlargeStorskog Boris Gleb border crossingCornelius Poppe/AFP/File

As Europe grapples with record-breaking numbers of migrants, a trickle of asylum seekers from Syria and the Mediterranean region have found an unlikely route: Through Russia to a remote Arctic border post in Norway, partly on bicycles.

Police Chief Inspector Goeran Stenseth said…that 151 people have crossed the border this year near the northeastern Norwegian town of Kirkenes, 2,500 kilometers northeast of Oslo.

He said that most of the migrants are from Syria, with some from Turkey and Ukraine, and that they mainly cross in motor vehicles although some have resorted to arriving on bicycles because the Storskog border post is not open to pedestrians, in line with a Norwegian-Russian border agreement.

“There have been about 100 during the past two months, at least 50 in July and looks like August will be much the same,” he told The Associated Press. “But the conditions will be bad soon. It’s getting colder by the day … Soon no one will be able to bike, that’s for sure.”

Woo-hoo! Probably be snowing there, next week. I’ve done a few not-so-legal border crossings in my life; but, none this far North.

Meanwhile, the Mother of Invention still rules.

Bear thinks he can fit through a cat door

image

An Idaho man snapped pictures of a bear attempting to get into his home through a cat door but only managing to fit its head through the opening.

Doug Harder of Sandpoint said bears have become a frequent nuisance at his condo this year and he first snapped photos of the animals when a mother and two cubs climbed onto his second floor deck to eat birdseed in late May.

He said bear sightings continued in the area and a yearling broke into his condo while he was on vacation last week by opening the sliding glass door, which he had left cracked open with a piece of wood blocking the doorjamb.

Harder said the intruder did very little damage to his property, but the animal defecated on the carpet and raided the domicile for food including flour, brownie mix, Toblerone and Pepsi.

The homeowner said he went to investigate a racket at his door Thursday and was shocked to see a bear attempting to squeeze through his cat door. He said the animal was far too large to fit more than its head through the door.

It came to the cat door Thursday night, trying again and again to get through, which is when I took the photo,” Harder said…It came back yesterday trying to get through the cat door again.”

Time to get some bear spray. It won’t harm the bear; but, it will likely get the idea.

Terrorist paranoia — International version at Dublin Airport

A toddler’s toy gun — which is big and blue from the new Minions film — was confiscated by security officers at Dublin International Airport Saturday…

Daire Fitzpatrick said her young son, Leo, was passing through security when security officers seized the Minions Fart Blaster toy.

“Sometime, common sense and compassion can be employed,” Fitzpatrick wrote on Facebook. “Even though the security officer admitted that his child has the same toy and he was fully aware of its function and the reality of its threat level…

“The usual standards are not only woefully below par when it comes to important things, but now apparently when it comes to obviously harmless toys that light up a little boy’s life they are frustratingly laughable,” she continued on Facebook.

Idjits running airports. This is what the Western world has come to.

Supreme Court asked to rule on secret plan to cut cell service?

The Supreme Court was asked in a petition to force the government to disclose the US clandestine plan to disable cell service during emergencies.

The case concerns Standard Operating Procedure 303. A federal appeals court in May said the government did not have to release its full contents because the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows the authorities to withhold records if they would “endanger” public safety.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center told the high court’s justices Tuesday that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision created a new “catchall provision that can be used in any case involving records related to domestic and national security programs.”

The privacy group had demanded the documents from the Department of Homeland Security in 2011 following the shuttering of cell service in the San Francisco Bay Area subway system to quell a protest. The Department of Homeland Security refused to divulge the documents associated with SOP 303, which the appeals court described as a “unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.”

Under the direction of the so-called National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, SOP 303 allows for the shuttering of wireless networks “within a localized area, such as a tunnel or bridge, and within an entire metropolitan area.”

So, what are the specifics of this regulation? Demonstrations for peace and justice or riots and anarchy in the streets? And who ultimately gets to make the determination to invoke SOP 303? Some New York City precinct commander or a bureaucrat in DHS, faceless or otherwise?

Purple playground = threat of jail time

A Missouri family said their homeowners association is threatening them with jail time after they refused to take down their purple playground equipment.

Marla Stout of Lee’s Summit said her family put up a playset for their young daughters about two years ago and she painted the equipment purple to comply with requirements of the Raintree Lake Neighborhood Homeowner’s Association.

“There’s nothing in the rules about color,” Stout told WDAF-TV. “What it says is it has to be harmonious with the community and with nature and there is nothing that dictates the color of the swing set.”

Stout said she considered the purple color to be “harmonious” because it matches the color of the trees in the fall, but the homeowner’s association disagreed.

Stout said she received a notice from the HOA last year saying they were being fined for not having the playground equipment and its color pre-approved, but they successfully appealed and had the fine thrown out

However, the HOA sent further letters demanding the purple playground’s removal.

“The letters said that if we didn’t remove the swing set from the subdivision in a couple of weeks, we go to jail…”…Another letter pledged the HOA’s lawsuit would cost the family “greater than any principle you are trying to prove.”

She said the HOA ignored a petition signed by more than a dozen neighbors saying they were not bothered by the equipment.

Mrs. Stout said her family has hired an attorney and will continue to fight.

Keep on rocking in the Free World.

#Karmadillo

A Texas man was wounded after he fired a gun at an armadillo in his yard and the bullet ricocheted back to hit him in his face…

Cass County Sheriff Larry Rowe said the man, who was not identified, went outside his home in Marietta, Texas, at around 3 a.m. local time Thursday morning. He spotted the armadillo on his property and opened fire.

“His wife was in the house. He went outside and took his .38 revolver and shot three times at the armadillo,” Rowe said.

The animal’s hard shell deflected at least one of three bullets, which then struck the man’s jaw, he said.

The man was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where his jaw was wired shut, according to Rowe.

The status of the animal is unknown…”We didn’t find the armadillo,” the sheriff said.

Har.

HT to Ricky Gervais for the headline. :)