Sunday Reading – 09/20/2020


The following links are just news items and opinions that pass my desk throughout the week. I don’t necessarily support or advocate any of the items, they are just interesting reads.

Wildfire Hype, and Hope – It’s impossible to say whether a particular hurricane or single fire season was caused by climate change. Establishing the connection between climate and such widely variable events requires a solid baseline of data accumulated over many decades. The current West Coast fire season really is unprecedented—at least in terms of the recent past—but California’s 2019 season was relatively light, with only about 280,000 acres burned. Should that below-average fire season be cited as evidence that fears of climate change are exaggerated? Of course not. Outliers in either direction should be added to the data set, not seized on as “the new normal.” But overheated rhetoric—or, for that matter, blanket rejections of climate data—make judicious assessments of climate risks impossible. As writer Gregg Easterbrook recently noted on Twitter, today’s partisan environment “demands all issues be reduced to doomsday or denial.”

This is a nuanced point that demands clarity. I believe that climate change is a significant risk. And I think it’s worth hedging against that risk, even if some aspects of the science aren’t certain, and some worst-case scenarios might be overblown. I support using the best available technologies to reduce carbon emissions in ways that don’t hamstring the economy…But the biggest question facing West Coast policymakers right now is not figuring out exactly how carbon emissions influence wildfires. The real question is, what tools are available today to bring down wildfire risks? Even if we assume climate models are accurate—and we also assume global carbon emissions can be cut fast enough to reach the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s current target—it would still take decades for today’s gradual temperature increases to halt. In the meantime, a range of factors—aside from climate—are making wildfires more deadly and more expensive.

…Forestry experts began warning about the dangers of over-aggressive fire suppression in the mid twentieth century. In a forest that burns regularly, fires tend to lick through the underbrush, mostly consuming fallen deadwood and litter. Healthy trees survive such routine burns, and forest ecosystems emerge from them healthier. But if every fire is snuffed out at birth, combustible materials build up. When fires move through these fuel-rich environments they become hotter and more destructive, reaching up into the living crowns of the trees and scorching the life out of forest soils.

The solution to this dilemma is carefully controlled “prescribed burns.” I can remember seeing such controlled burns in Yosemite National Park in the early 1980s. They would smolder for days consuming pine needles and deadwood. But, while prescribed burns are widely used today in the southeastern U.S., they were never deployed on a sufficient scale in the West. One obstacle was Clinton administration policies that aimed to restore Western forests to “pre-settlement” conditions. The goal was to limit logging and to restrict road use on federal lands in order to keep forests as pristine as possible. “To accept this idea you have to believe pre-settlement forests were ‘naturally functioning ecosystems’ untouched by human hands,” noted forest researcher Bob Zybach in 1994. “The fact is, people have been altering the character of this region’s forests for at least 11,000 years.”

…For Ingalsbee and other foresters, this year’s epic fire season is the fuel-driven catastrophe they have long feared. Some foresters argue that increased fuels, not higher temperatures alone, are the primary reason we’re seeing bigger fires today. But warming temperatures exacerbate that risk, making it all the more urgent to attack the problem. “We need to get good fire on the ground and whittle down some of that fuel load,” Ingalsbee said. It will be a big job. In recent years, California has burned only 13,000 acres a year. One recent study concluded the state would need to burn some 20 million acres overall in order to bring its forest back into stable condition.

…Fire has been a routine event in West Coast terrain since prehistoric times. Today’s megafires are the alarming but predictable result of decades of poor forest management and WUI development. Climate change makes these problems worse, but it didn’t cause them. And reducing carbon emissions, while a good long-term goal, won’t reduce these risks any time soon. Implementing effective fire policies in the West will require real political will on the statewide level. Communities and even individual homeowners can also take steps to improve their fire resilience. But when Governor Newsom and other leaders imply that only a global solution to carbon emissions can reduce fires, they undermine these efforts. A less histrionic approach would pursue affordable reductions in CO2 emissions, while also applying the best current tools to reduce the impact of inevitable wildfires. Read More > at City Journal

Newsom war on climate change vs. reality – There’s a stark reality about Newsom’s new pledge about battling climate change.

First and foremost, however successful California may be at reducing greenhouse gases, it will have virtually no impact on global emissions. This year’s wildfires will more than cancel out whatever progress the state might be making.

Moreover, to “step up our game” would impose new burdens on an economy that’s in deep and perhaps prolonged recession. Californians already shoulder electric utility rates, fuel prices, rents, home prices, state and local taxes and other living costs that are among the nation’s highest.

The state is falling well short of its ambitious goals for replacing cars and trucks with electric vehicles, so how would the state accelerate even more? With more subsidies from a state budget that’s already leaking red ink?

His latest pronouncements notwithstanding, Newsom seems to understand that there is a practical limit to California’s conversion into a carbon-free nirvana. The state was utterly dependent on natural gas electric generation to avoid extensive blackouts during summer heat waves and with Newsom’s tacit support, state regulators temporarily extended the life of several Southern California power plants that had been ticketed for closure.

The state’s most fundamental duty is to protect its 40 million residents from calamities such as deadly wildfires, and we’ve not been very diligent about that.

While climate change contributed to the ferocity of the wildfires, there were plenty of warnings about the dangers of allowing housing developments in fire-prone regions and the buildup of combustible fuel in forests — warnings that were largely ignored. Read More > at CalMatters

COVID-19 prevention may lead to record low flu rates, CDC says – The final statistics are in for America’s last flu season, and the news is good: Record low rates of influenza were reported as cases plummeted during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.

Why? Researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe the social distancing measures put into place across the country last spring kept more than the new coronavirus at bay.

The 2019-2020 flu season ended weeks earlier than usual this year, with flu infections declining sharply within two weeks of the COVID-19 emergency declaration on March 1, the new study found.

Influenza activity in the United States plunged, from about 30% of samples testing positive for flu in early February down to only 2% the week of March 22, the researchers reported. Read More > at UPI

“Calling bullshit” in philanthropy – “The world is awash with bullshit, and we’re drowning in it,” Carl T. Bergstrom and Jevin D. West declare at the beginning of their helpful new book Calling Bullshit: The Art of Skepticism in a Data-Driven World.

“Politicians are unconstrained by facts,” Bergstrom and West continue. “Science is conducted by press release. Silicon Valley startups elevate bullshit to high art. Colleges and universities reward bullshit over analytic thought. The majority of administrative activity seems to be little more than a sophisticated exercise in the combinatorial reassembly of bullshit.” That’s some disarming honesty there. Refreshing, really

Plenty to go around. Maybe you can think of more examples, maybe even in philanthropy. While Calling Bullshit doesn’t include any material specifically about philanthropy, participants anywhere along the spectrum of the grantseeking and -making enterprise can and should learn (or relearn) from it.

There is some bullshit in philanthropy, after all, no? Just hypothetically, among other things, contemplate much of that which is included in grant requests; in what foundation staffs present to executives and boards of directors; and in what executives and directors tell their colleagues at other foundations, their contacts in the other upper echelons of elite society, and those policymakers in government and influencers in the media. Conceivably all winking, too, by the way.

Speaking from experience, there’s a reason foundation work tends to breed cynicism. There might be benefit to some skepticism, however, according to Bergstrom and West. In fact, we need to relearn the art of skepticism to better spot bullshit, they believe, especially because it has evolved. Read More > at Philanthropy Daily 

Grocery stores are pushing California to be tougher on crime. Here’s why – Albertsons and Kroger — the grocers with the biggest financial contributions to Prop. 20 — and the California Grocers Association said in statements they supported the measure because shoplifting and organized retail crime have been on the rise, amounting to significant losses, and threatening the safety of employees and customers. They say that previous reforms went too far in removing teeth from laws meant to address this type of crime.

“People are stealing, and there are no consequences,” said Richard Temple, a spokesman for the Yes on Prop. 20 campaign.

Experts said theft is a big problem for retailers, especially for grocery stores, which have high foot traffic. A 2020 survey by the National Retail Federation found that theft — which the industry calls “shrink” — was at an all-time high, costing the industry $61.7 billion in fiscal year 2019, or 1.62% of retailers’ profits. A whole niche industry around battling retail theft, through cameras, locked display cases and undercover security guards has sprung up.

The landscape of shoplifting and petty theft jurisprudence in California has shifted dramatically in recent years, largely due to Proposition 47, which voters approved in 2014. That measure raised the bar for grand theft and downgraded the classification of most shoplifting crimes to a misdemeanor. Whereas before, property theft of above $450 could be charged as a felony, now that limit is $950. Proposition 57, approved two years later, hastened the release of some nonviolent offenders from prisons. Read More > in the Los Angeles Times

Homeless ‘Tiny’ Apartments Balloon to $425,000 Per Unit in Sacramento – Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg has been pushing for permanent housing for the city’s homeless. While that may sound reasonable and even decent, the latest project to provide tiny apartments in a renovated old downtown hotel will cost more than $445,000 per unit for about 250 square feet of living space.

Still in its old state, the Capitol Park Hotel is currently home to some homeless, but it wasn’t always this way. The Capitol Park Hotel was used for decades as housing for low-income disabled adults, as California Globe reported in 2019. The city kicked them out in June of last year, and announced the hotel would be renovated at a cost of $23 million. Steinberg even said at the time the hotel would have 180 beds for homeless by August 2019.

At the original 2019 estimate of $23 million to renovate the Capitol Park Hotel into a homeless apartment shelter, the unit cost was already $128,000-per-bed. This has ballooned up to $445,000 per bed – more than three times the original estimate in just one year.

The renovation project has devolved into a web of bureaucratic restrictions, with local, state and federal government involved.

One of the first problems is the notion of “permanent housing” for the homeless.

Rev. Andy Bales, head of L.A.’s Union Rescue Mission,  has a great deal of experience in helping the homeless. He has advised the City of Los Angeles many times — how they could provide clean and comfortable temporary barracks-style shelter, with plumbing and kitchens, security, etc. — for $10,000 a bed. Bales and many of the state’s real homeless advocates say temporary shelter is actually the best answer for the category of homeless who will accept shelter and services, and who only need a respite before getting back to taking care of themselves.

The Sacramento Bee asks “why does sheltering the homeless cost so much?”

Redevelopment of the hotel is now budgeted at $59.6 million, (up from $23 million last year) and is expected to be completed in the summer of 2022 (not August 2019).

“If it stays on budget, the project will come to $1,100 per square foot — more than double the square-foot price to build a luxury home in El Dorado Hills or Granite Bay, or to buy a high-end midtown apartment,” the Bee reported. Read More > at California Globe

As Economic Recovery Slows, Fed Sees Many Risks And Pledges Full Support – The Federal Reserve left interest rates near zero as expected Wednesday and pledged to keep supporting an economic recovery that appears to be losing steam.

Most members of the Fed’s rate-setting committee said they expect interest rates to remain near zero through at least 2023 as the economy slowly digs its way out of the coronavirus recession.

Although the economy has already recovered somewhat from the sharp contraction this spring, there are signs that the rebound is slowing. Job gains have declined in each of last two months. Both retail sales and industrial production had smaller gains in August than a month earlier.

Federal relief programs — including small-business loans and supplemental unemployment benefits — that helped support the recovery earlier this year have largely expired. And Congress has so far been unable to agree on additional relief. Read More > at NPR

A New System for Cooling Down Computers Could Revolutionize the Pace of Innovation – In 1965, Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel, forecast that computing would increase in power and decrease in price exponentially. For decades what later became known as Moore’s Law proved true, as microchip processing power roughly doubled and costs dropped every couple of years. But as power increased exponentially, so did the heat produced by packing billions of transistors atop a chip the size of a fingernail.

As electricity meets resistance passing through those processors it creates heat. More processors mean higher temperatures, threatening the continued growth of computer power because as they get hotter, chips decrease in efficiency and eventually fail. There’s also an environmental cost. Those chips, and the cooling they require, devour power with an insatiable hunger. Data centers use roughly one percent of the world’s electricity. In the United States alone, they consume electricity and water for cooling roughly equivalent to that used by the entire city of Philadelphia in a year.

…Previous attempts to cool microchips have relied on metal sinks, often combined with fans, that absorb heat and act like an exhaust system. Some data centers rely on fluid flowing through servers to draw away heat. But those systems are designed and fabricated separately and then combined with the chips. Matioli and his team have designed and fabricated chips and their fluid cooling systems together. In the new design, the cooling elements are integrated throughout by creating microchannels for fluid within semiconductors that spirit away the heat, save energy, and mitigate the environmental problems created by data centers.

Their work also could have important applications in an electrified future, helping eliminate the heat problem and reducing the size of power converters on cars, solar panels and other electronics. “The proposed technology should enable further miniaturization of electronics, potentially extending Moore’s Law and greatly reducing the energy consumption in cooling of electronics,” they write. Read More > at Smithsonian Magazine

The unremarkable truth about America’s Covid response – …Yet, the US experience with COVID-19 has not been a complete outlier. The number of per capita deaths in the US is lower than in the UK and on a par with Sweden’s – hardly a success story in the current pandemic but arguably a country at more-than-decent levels of economic development and governance. The US case fatality ratio (a somewhat tricky metric when the true number of cases is unknown) is close to global average, just below Germany’s. Death rates recorded in Belgium, Spain, the UK and Italy are worse than in the US.

Treating the US as a singularly catastrophic case ignores the fact that daily numbers of new cases of COVID-19 in the EU now exceed those in America, where both daily deaths and new cases have been on the decline since the beginning of August. In several European countries, most dramatically in Spain, the situation is quickly spiralling out of control, arguably driven by the reopening of the EU’s internal borders and summer holidays. Even countries that effectively avoided the first wave by quickly hunkering down and embracing the use of facemasks, such as Slovakia and the Czech Republic, are now seeing record numbers of new cases.

As illustrated by the wide backlash against the UK government’s “rule of six,” it is unclear whether European governments are able to reintroduce draconian measures from the Spring for a second time if current trends hold. Setting aside what the ‘right’ policy mix is, the worsening situation in Europe belies the notion of the US as a singular failure or an example of breath-taking irresponsibility.

Furthermore, the pandemic appears to be having a worse economic impact on Europe than on the United States. The International Monetary Fund predicts an 8 percent contraction in the US, compared to 10.2 percent across the Euro area and the UK – and almost 13 percent in France, Italy, and Spain.

…The knowledge that other countries too are struggling is no excuse for policy failures on this side of the Atlantic. It is, however, useful in providing perspective at a time when all incentives in the public sphere seem stacked in favour of hyperbole and hysteria. Read More > at The Critic

Climate neutrality within reach for California dairy sector – from Feedstuffs – Researchers from the University of California-Davis (UC-Davis) are rethinking methane and showing that climate neutrality is within reach for the California dairy sector.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is 25-28 times stronger than carbon dioxide  — the primary greenhouse gas driving climate change in California — but how it influences actual warming is much different, according to a white paper released by UC-Davis professors Dr. Frank Mitloehner and Dr. Ermias Kebreab, along with Michael Boccadoro, executive director of Dairy Cares. The paper, “Methane, Cows & Climate Change: California’s Dairy’s Pathway to Climate Neutrality,” examines recent literature from leading climate scientists and its implications for the California dairy sector.

Methane is a climate pollutant that exists in the atmosphere for 12 years before it is broken down. This means, when a constant rate of methane is emitted for more than 12 years, one molecule, in effect, replaces a previously emitted molecule that has since been removed. In other words, methane isn’t accumulating in the atmosphere. Currently, the main accounting method used for measuring the climate impacts of greenhouse gases does not describe how individual gases such as methane warm — or cool — the climate over time. That oversight leads to a misinterpretation of methane’s role in warming the climate, while also ignoring possible solutions that could offset greenhouse gases from other sectors such as transportation.

“We have been looking at methane incorrectly when it comes to reducing warming,” said Mitloehner, a professor and air quality specialist for Cooperative Extension in the UC-Davis department of animal science and head of the Clarity & Leadership for Environmental Awareness & Research (CLEAR) Center. “While more potent than the most prevalent greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, methane is a short-lived climate pollutant, staying in our atmosphere for about 12 years before it’s broken down and removed. On the other hand, carbon dioxide remains in our atmosphere for centuries, with new emissions accumulating on top of those previously emitted, making it the main driver of climate change.” Read More > from the CDFA

The NFL Is Back. So Is the National Anthem Controversy. And Now There Are Two Anthems. – American society is grappling with complex, nuanced issues connected to race and political power. If we have to filter that debate through the binary of choosing to stand or sit for a national anthem, we’ll never get much resolved.

…That the NFL would respond to this year’s protests by adding another song to the pre-game Americana ritual shows just how little the team owners and league executives understand the current moment.

Of course, the league finds itself in an unenviable position. The NFL wants nothing more than to deliver entertainment to as many Americans as possible so it can sell its product to advertisers and TV networks for top dollar. And the NFL has been very, very good at doing that for most of its history. Choosing sides in a political controversy necessarily means alienating some viewers. And losing viewers translates directly into losing revenue.

This is not a problem exclusive to the NFL, but football’s place as America’s most popular televised sport means the league’s response to everything from COVID to police brutality will always be under the spotlight.

The consequences are already visible. Every year, the pollsters at Gallup survey Americans about their sentiments towards various industries. This year, Americans’ favorable view of the sports industry fell by 15 percentage points—only the pharmaceutical industry and, naturally, the federal government scored lower. It’s unfair to conclude that the drop-off is entirely, or even mostly, tied to the ongoing politicization of professional sports. Read More > at Reason

As Stores Reopen, Are Customers Turning Away From Online Shopping? – Online sales during the pandemic that hit the United States in March rose from around $53 billion to nearly $85 billion by May. Since then, U.S. online sales have dipped by about 25% to an August total of $63 billion.

Online sales in August rose by 42% year over year, but that total was lower than expected. Labor Day weekend sales rose by 12% year over year to $2.6 billion, but that total was lower than expected as well. The relatively lower total reverses a trend for the past several years in which holiday sales nearly always grow faster than the overall trend to rising online sales.

The data is included in the August 2020 Digital Economy Index (DEI) from Adobe Analytics. The index measures transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers on the web and seven of the top 10 U.S. airlines. It analyzes 1 trillion consumer visits to retail websites and tracks more than 100 million different products.

Labor Day sales growth indicates that higher online shopping levels “appear to be decreasing the potency of specific shopping holidays and events,” according to Adobe Analytics. Read More > at 24/7 Wall St

Why gender reveals have spiraled out of control – Over Labor Day weekend, two expectant parents didn’t get the viral hit they had hoped for.

During a gender reveal party in Southern California, a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” was supposed to simply reveal a color – pink for a girl, blue for a boy – before a crowd of onlookers.

Instead, it sparked a wildfire that has scorched more than 10,000 acres of land.

As a sociologist who studies how social media is used to navigate gender, identity and life transitions, I’ve watched gender reveal parties become their own mini-industry over the past decade.

Gendering children prior to birth is a unique phenomenon of the 20th century.

It wasn’t until the proliferation of social media platforms that parties centered on the revelation of a baby’s sex became commonplace.

In 2008, blogger Jenna Karvunidis cut into a cake at a party with her family. Inside the cake was pink frosting, revealing to everyone in the room that she would be having a girl. Her blog post about the party went viralThe modern gender reveal was born.

On social media, the more unique, absurd, gripping or funny the image, the more likely it is to go viral. Everyday people who figure out how to tap the right algorithmic veins can become microcelebrities, while babies can capture the limelight as “micro-microcelebrities” before they’re even born. Some parents give their future children custom hashtags. Others give them their own social media accounts.

Ultimately, these increasingly outlandish gender reveals align perfectly with the values of an always-on digital consumer culture that is always scrolling for the next best thing. Read More > at The Conversation

Suicide rate keeps rising among young Americans – A nearly 60% jump in suicides by young Americans since 2007 has experts alarmed and somewhat puzzled.

Suicides among children and young people aged 10 to 24 rose 57% from 2007 to 2018, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The increase in youth suicide has been pervasive across the U.S. No area is immune,” said report author Sally Curtin of the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. “Hopefully, these data will inform prevention efforts.”

The surge was broad: 42 states had statistically significant increases between 2007-2009 and 2016-2018. Eight had statistically insignificant increases. Thirty-two states had hikes of 30% to 60%.

In actual numbers, the suicide rate among 10- to 24-year-olds jumped from about 7 per 100,000 in 2007 to nearly 11 per 100,000 in 2018, according to the National Vital Statistics Report published Sept. 11. Read More > at UPI

Ride Through a German Village on ‘The Flying Train’ in Incredibly Clear Footage from 1902 – Shot in 1902, “The Flying Train” takes viewers on an uncommonly crisp journey aboard a suspended railcar. Throughout the two-minute video, riders see Wuppertal residents walking across pedestrian bridges and down dirt roadways more than a century ago. The city is known still today for its schwebebahn, which is a style of hanging railway that’s unique to Germany.

MoMA recently pulled the black-and-white footage from its vault and said that curators originally believed it was shot with 70-millimeter film rather than 68. “Formats like Biograph’s 68mm and Fox’s 70mm Grandeur are of particular interest to researchers visiting the Film Study Center because the large image area affords stunning visual clarity and quality, especially compared to the more standard 35mm or 16mm stock,” a statement notes. Read More > at Colossal

A COVID-19 Vaccine May Be Only 50% Effective. Is That Good Enough? – The Food and Drug Administration has said that once a vaccine is shown to be safe and at least 50% effective, it could be approved for use in the U.S.

“When we talk ‘vaccine effectiveness,’ what we’re talking about is, ‘How effective was the vaccine at preventing actual disease?’ ” explains scientist L.J. Tan, chief strategist of the nonprofit Immunization Action Coalition.

In other words, Tan says, “If you vaccinate 100 people, 50 people will not get disease.”

This may not sound like an impressive rate of infection prevention, but there are other potential benefits to individuals and the community from getting vaccinated.

“It’s possible that the [COVID-19] vaccine will reduce the severity of disease” in the other 50% who do get sick, says physician Bill Miller of The Ohio State University College of Public Health. “It may mean that people are less likely to be hospitalized, require ICU care or die.”

And here’s the next reality check: The extent to which any vaccine that emerges will help halt the COVID-19 pandemic depends on how many people get the immunization.

In order to put this pandemic in the rearview mirror, a large percentage of the population needs to either be vaccinated or gain immunity via an infection with the virus Read More > at NPR

150 million dead trees could fuel unprecedented firestorms in the Sierra Nevada – Two years ago scientists warned that a massive tree die-off in the Sierra Nevada could set the stage for forest conflagrations akin to World War II fire bombings.

The Creek fire, which forced the dramatic helicopter evacuations of more than 200 campers over Labor Day weekend in California, may be a hint of far worse to come in future years.

It is burning in the Sierra National Forest, an epicenter of the bark beetle attacks that killed nearly 150 million drought-stressed trees during the last decade.

The U.S. Forest Service estimates that dead stands in the Creek fire contain 2,000 tons of fuel per acre.

…For those who have studied the potential fire effects of the vast beetle kill, the Creek fire is a harbinger.

“I don’t want to be alarmist. But I think the conditions are there,” said Scott Stephens, a UC Berkeley professor of fire science and lead author of a 2018 paper that raised the specter of future mass forest fires as intense as the Dresden, Germany, and Tokyo firebombings.

“As those [trees] continue to fall, the physics of it are unchanged. If you have dead and downed logs … the fires described in warfare are possible.” Read More > in the Los Angeles Times

Shopping in SF’s Tenderloin is wide open — for illegal drugs, that is – The recent jaw-dropping news that 441 people died of drug overdoses in San Francisco last year offered a detailed account of the health issues surrounding the deadly epidemic, but the Department of Public Health Department report made little mention of the elephant in the room.

“That we allow open drug dealing on the street corners of the Tenderloin,” Tenderloin Housing Clinic Executive Director Randy Shaw said. “We are all concerned about drug overdoses, but we are not doing anything about San Francisco being a place where people can indulge in drug use.”

More than half of the deaths involved fentanyl, a drug that can be 100 times more potent than morphine.

In San Francisco, dealing fentanyl, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin has become an open-air business, largely supplied and run by organized gangs that have turned the Tenderloin into a superstore for drugs.

Some of the drug crews working the corners, like the Honduran gang busted by federal agents last year, commute into the city from Oakland on BART or in car pools.

In a Sept. 1 posting on Twitter, the Tenderloin Police Station reported its officers were approaching 1,000 arrests for drug dealing since August 2019. In one recent bust, police seized $2,000 and more than 70 grams of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl. Of the six people arrested, two were fugitives in other drug cases.

District Attorney Chesa Boudin, who was elected on a platform of restorative justice over imprisonment, said, “drug sales cases remain one of our largest categories of felony cases and also the highest rate of felony rebookings of any crime. But we need better, more effective approaches to stop the cycle at the outset and to save lives.”

Police who work the street often cite the lack of serious jail time and the release of offenders with multiple cases pending as a key reason the open dealing flourishes. Read More > in the San Francisco Chronicle

Feel Like You Can’t Move After Your Last Tough Workout? Blame DOMS – If you’ve ever finished a tough run, patted yourself on the back for still being able to stand upright, and then woken up two days later feeling like someone took a hammer to each and every muscle, congrats: You’ve experienced DOMS.

DOMS stands for delayed onset muscle soreness. It typically starts at least 12 to 24 hours after a workout, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, and “it peaks about one to three days after exercising and then starts to subside,” adds

Natasha Trentacosta, M.D., a sports medicine specialist and orthopedic surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles.

You can tell DOMS from acute muscle soreness—what you feel during or immediately after a workout—because it intensifies post-workout. With DOMS, “two days after is always worse than the day after,” says Zach Carter, C.S.C.S., an exercise physiologist in rehabilitation and sports therapy at Cleveland Clinic. The pain can range from slight soreness to severe, debilitating pain, and you might feel tender or sore to the touch for up to five days after your workout. Read More > from Runners World

All the amazing rocket launches that happened this summer – Summer 2020 has been one of the busiest ever for rocket launches, with multiple teams across the globe working overtime to make their missions happen.

And with many of these missions being historic in their own ways, it’s clearly been a remarkable period for space travel, one made all the more astonishing as this flurry of flights took place in the midst of a global pandemic.

To celebrate this unprecedented spell of lively launchpad activity, we’ve compiled a collection of the most notable launches that occurred over the last three months. Enjoy!

SpaceX launches first astronaut mission with Crew Dragon capsule

SpaceX enjoyed a number of triumphs with its Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission on May 30. With NASA’s Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken behind the controls, it was the first astronaut launch in the company’s 18-year history, and saw the first use of a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft. But that’s not all — it also involved the first crewed launch from U.S. soil since the final space shuttle liftoff in 2011, and the first U.S. splashdown of returning crew since 1975. Read More > at Digitaltrends

Environmental exemptions yes, but reform no – The California Legislature has a handy website that allows users to find and track the thousands of bills that are introduced during its two-year sessions.

If one enters “California Environmental Quality Act” into the website’s search function, 171 bills pop up for the session that ended a fortnight ago, implying the Legislature’s penchant for tinkering with California’s landmark environmental legislation that then-Gov. Ronald Reagan signed 50 years ago.

As applied after enactment, CEQA evolved into a polarizing facet of governance — revered by environmental groups as a tool to block or alter developments they dislike, denounced as a wasteful impediment by public and private developers, and misused by unions and anti-housing organizations for reasons having nothing to do with the environment.

…Brown, in an interview with UCLA’s Blueprint magazine, lamented that “it’s easier to build in Texas” but that changing CEQA would be politically impossible because “The unions won’t let you because they use it as a hammer to get project labor agreements.”

However, instead of spending political capital for a comprehensive overhaul of CEQA to prevent its misuse, Brown continued the practice — or malpractice — of granting full or partial CEQA exemptions for individual projects whose developers had political pull, most obviously for sports arenas such as a basketball palace near the Capitol.

…Truth is, legislators rather like the current de facto system of individualized exemptions from CEQA’s often-ponderous, time-consuming requirements. They can posture as quasi-partners in popular projects such as sports arenas, and as advocates for politically correct infrastructure such as mass transit or water systems. They can draw campaign cash from exemption-seeking developers.

Moreover, they can sidestep the harder work of reforming CEQA, which would mean confronting the law’s influential users, such as environmental groups, labor unions and the NIMBys who oppose housing development. Read More > at CalMatters

About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit, Transplan, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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