Megadrought in the American Southwest


Mario Tama/Getty

When the NASA climatologist James Hansen testified before Congress in June 1988 about a warming planet, the temperature in Washington DC hit a record 100F. It was a summer of unprecedented heatwaves, and 40 states were grappling with drought.

His warning was seen as a historic wake-up call – but instead of heeding the existential smoke alarm, the US removed the batteries and kept on cooking.

Nearly four decades later, the consequences of a sweltering Earth are hitting home in the US south-west and mountain west – comprising states from California to Colorado. Over the past two decades, extreme heat and dwindling moisture levels have converged to create a “megadrought” deemed the driest period in 1,200 years…

The west is now in uncharted territory, as once singular conditions become the norm. Its mightiest reservoirs – Lake Mead and Lake Powell – are at record low levels and steadily shriveling. Prolonged, triple-digit heatwaves are making cities like Phoenix, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada, almost unlivable during summers. And wildfires now spark year-round as parched forests and grasslands are more primed than ever to burn…

“We were given an excellent warning by climate scientists,” says Bill McKibben, the journalist turned climate activist. “And, yet, instead of mustering the will to do something about it, our political and economic systems rallied to do nothing.”

This is the beginning of a series by THE GUARDIAN. Dunno if the hacks in DC and Congress will be any more responsive (or unresponsive) than they have been to date. It is another opportunity to stick a fist in their collective faces and make rude noises along with suggestions for action. Again.

NY governor declares polio disaster emergency 

New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a state disaster emergency amid evidence of circulating poliovirus, a move that will increase the availability of resources including expanding the network of polio vaccine administrators, state health officials said.

Sequence analysis of wastewater surveillance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found poliovirus samples in Nassau County, bringing the total to 5 counties — Rockland County, Orange County, Sullivan County, New York City, and now, Nassau County.

“Bolstering the immunization drive, the E.O. (executive order) immediately expands the network of polio vaccine administrators with the addition of EMS workers, midwives, and pharmacists and authorizes physicians and certified nurse practitioners to issue non-patient specific standing orders for polio vaccines,” the release from DHS said.

One quote says it best: All samples are “samples of concern,” — essentially, types of poliovirus that can cause paralysis in humans. I grew up when summertime was polio epidemic time many places in the GOUSA.

I never want to go back to that!

A Citadel in New Mexico to fightback against anti-abortion crusaders


Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham moved Wednesday to buttress access to abortions in New Mexico, signing an executive order that pledges $10 million to build a state-funded clinic providing abortion and other services in Doña Ana County.

The governor’s executive order also directs the state Department of Health to marshal state resources to expand access to reproductive health – including abortion – in rural parts of the state and study whether medication that ends pregnancies can be provided in public health clinics.

“This is a state that will stand against any attempts to remove or eviscerate women’s constitutional rights,” Lujan Grisham said during a remote briefing with reporters, legislators and members of the state’s Commission on the Status of Women.

The move comes as New Mexico has seen an influx of patients from Texas and other states seeking abortion services…

Lujan Grisham already issued a previous executive order aimed at shielding health care professionals targeted by lawsuits from losing their licenses or being disciplined for providing abortion services.

The June order also asserts the state will not comply with abortion-related arrest warrants or extradition requests from other states.

Our Governor Michelle is one tough woman. And as far as I can see, a majority of folks in the state agree with her.

NBCUniversal to Invest $500 Million in a Production Studio in Albuquerque

NBCUniversal is setting up shop in New Mexico, announcing plans on Friday to build a new TV and film studio in Albuquerque and pledging to spend $500 million in production over the next 10 years.

NBCU is entering into a 10-year venture with Garcia Realty and Development to redevelop an empty free-span warehouse in the New Mexico area into a state-of-the-art studio with two sound stages, offices and a mill. Over the next 10 years, NBCUniversal will produce television and film projects at the Albuquerque facility, with the aim of reaching $500 million in direct production spending…

The deal comes just months after Gov. Grisham signed into law one of the most aggressive incentive packages for the film and television production industry in the United States, which doubled the annual payout for productions that come to New Mexico. This also comes as other states like Georgia and Louisiana are coming under fire for new abortion laws that have led to calls for Hollywood studios to boycott those states.

Lots of solid movie production talent with decades of experience here in New Mexico. Sounds like a win all the way round.

Modern humans, not well educated


This is what they’re worried about…

A viral video speculating that Joe Biden is either dead, multiple people, a deepfake, or some combination of all of those has been viewed more than a million times on Twitter.

The original post is from the Twitter account for the band Five Times August, led by Dallas-area musician Bradley James Skistimas. The account has 91,000 followers. He posted two pictures of Biden from two different occasions, giving two separate addresses—one about gas prices, and another from remarks given at a conference—next to each other. “Two videos posted within a couple of hours of each other. I mean… you tell me what’s going on here… 🧐,” the post said.

@FiveTimesAugust followed this up later with a video composite of the two videos that these images were taken from, that cuts back and forth between those appearances one sentence at a time…The video has been used as “evidence” of all sorts of things by various people: that Biden is now being played by various actors (“2 more new Joe Bidens have dropped, to go along with the previous 4?” one tweet says); that he is a deepfake (“my eye can detect the uncanny valley instantly. This is 100% deepfake technology. They pasted Biden’s face on an actor. I’d bet my career on it,” a right-wing political cartoonist tweeted); and that there is simply something off (you figure it out, the tweets suggest).

RTFA…we have a video and an accompanying conspiracy theory…part of the panoply of “modern” communications that excites a certain number of folks. And I find predictable, repetitive, unproductive of anything usefully changing society…eventually boring.