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Cities are shutting down bikeshares during curfews, stranding their own residents

Over the past several days, hundreds of thousands of Americans have hit the streets to protest the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who was asphyxiated by a police officer on May 25 in Minneapolis. The protests started in the city where Floyd was killed and spread rapidly to all 50 U.S. states and at least three U.S territories.

In response, mayors and governors have instituted rare nighttime curfews in an effort to deter clashes between police and protestors — which videos show are often instigated by police — and waves of looting and property damage. But the curfews aren’t keeping protesters off the streets: People in major cities have been out long past nightfall protesting the national crisis of police brutality. And essential workers are largely exempt from the curfews, leading to confusion among people who work night shifts.

No matter the reason they’re out during curfew, people trying to get home are finding that their options are limited. Some cities, like Los Angeles and Chicago, have shut down public transportation systems in response to the protests, stranding people who are out after curfew. In some areas, like parts of Manhattan, even driving has been prohibited. And bikeshare programs, which have been a key source of safe transportation for essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic, have been directed to hit the pause button by city officials during the curfews.

That means protesters and other people just trying to get around in the middle of an ongoing pandemic are being forced to get places by foot. In New York City, the city’s privately-owned bikeshare program, CitiBike, was directed by the mayor to shut down during the curfew on Monday and Tuesday. “We disagree with this decision,” the company said in a tweet thread.

On Wednesday, CitiBike will be required to end service at 6 p.m. — two hours before the curfew begins.

Similar programs in D.C., Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis, and L.A. shut down during curfews too. Some of those programs, like Houston’s BCycle and Minneapolis’ Nice Ride, are owned by nonprofits. Others, like Chicago’s Divvy and D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare, are housed within each city’s Department of Transportation. Philadelphia’s city-run bikeshare program, Indego, bucked the trend by staying open during curfew.

Alan Mitchell, former chief of staff at Motivate, the company that owned and operated CitiBike before Lyft bought the program in 2018, thinks shutting down bikeshare programs amid protests is a bad idea. “I think it prevents essential workers from getting to their jobs, I think it makes people less safe, and I think it’s a disgrace for the mayor to have ordered that,” he told Grist, referring specifically to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

As it is, bikeshare programs, which have been touted as a greener, healthier, and better way for city-dwellers to get around, have an equity problem. A huge majority of bikeshare users are white and wealthy, in large part because bikeshare docks tend to get built in majority-white neighborhoods while leaving majority-nonwhite neighborhoods behind. In D.C., a city that is 50 percent black, only 4 percent of bikeshare members were African American in 2016. Just 2 percent of Chicago’s bikeshare program users were black, according to 2017 data.

And when people of color do use bikeshare programs, or just cycle in general, they’re more likely to face police harassment for it. A study on sidewalk biking bans in NYC between 2008 and 2011 found that bans were disproportionately enforced on Black and Latino bikers. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 86 percent of police citations for biking violations were issued to African Americansin the years between 2010 and 2013.

On Wednesday, World Bicycle Day, Bublr Bikes, Milwaukee’s nonprofit bikeshare program, which stayed open during its city’s curfew, said it will commit to building a more just bikeshare program.

One way city officials and bikeshare programs could start doing just that? Make bikeshares available around the clock, whether or not there’s a curfew.

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Cities are shutting down bikeshares during curfews, stranding their own residents

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These air pollution standards kept people out of the hospital. Trump just rolled them back.

The Trump administration isn’t letting the COVID-19 pandemic get in the way of its deregulatory agenda. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it would not tighten air quality standards for fine particle pollution, despite warnings from scientists, including former agency staffers, that the current rules were not strict enough and could result in tens of thousands of premature deaths. The agency then finalized a decision on the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, determining that it is not “appropriate and necessary” to regulate mercury and other pollutants from power plants despite the fact that utilities have already spent millions of dollars to comply with the standards.

The announcements arrived the same week as a new study that links these two regulations to tangible public health improvements. When these rules, in addition to other air quality regulations, were strengthened under the Obama administration, Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E), a utility in Kentucky, was forced to retire three coal plants and spent almost a billion dollars upgrading another plant to comply with the rules.

The study, published in the journal Nature Energy last week, analyzed public health data in Louisville to see how rates of asthma-related hospitalizations, ER visits, and symptom flare-ups changed in relation to improvements in air quality. Using zip code–level data from the city’s Department of Public Health and Wellness, the researchers found that after one of LG&E’s power plants in Louisville was retired in 2015, and pollution controls were installed on three other coal plants in the area, there were approximately three fewer asthma-related hospitalizations and ER visits per zip code per quarter over the following year across the county’s 35 zip codes. That adds up to nearly 400 avoided doctor visits.

The researchers also analyzed data from a program that tracked inhaler use among 207 residents with the help of digital inhalers, and found that after new pollution controls were added to one of the coal plants in 2016, average inhaler use went down by 17 percent. Among participants who had the highest inhaler usage before the controls were added, average use went down by 32 percent.

In Louisville, as in the rest of the country, the health impacts of air pollution aren’t distributed equally. The study shows a clear concentration of asthma-related hospitalizations and ER visits in the West End of Louisville, a predominantly African American neighborhood, even after the controls were installed. The coal plants are only one part of the picture there — the neighborhood is also home to a cluster of chemical and manufacturing plants dubbed “Rubbertown.”

The city implemented a toxic air reduction program in the early 2000s that was largely successful in reducing emissions from the Rubbertown plants, but the West End still suffers disproportionately from the impact of ongoing pollution. According to a health report published by the city in 2017, inpatient admissions for asthma in west Louisville are more than 10 times that of more affluent neighborhoods to the northeast. Higher cancer death rates and lower life expectancy are also clustered in the western half of the city.

The COVID-19 pandemic thrust the reality of these health disparities into the headlines recently, when a preliminary study showed that people who lived near major sources of pollution are more likely to die of the virus, and new data revealed that it is killing black Americans at higher rates than any other demographic. “Communities of color, they’ve always been the sacrifice zones,” said Mustafa Ali, the vice president of environmental justice, climate, and community revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation, in a recent Twitter video. “They’ve been the places where we’ve pushed things that nobody else wants.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading public health expert on President Trump’s coronavirus task force, acknowledged the structural inequality underlying the numbers during a White House press briefing earlier this month. “When all this is over — it will end, we will get over the coronavirus — but there will still be health disparities which we really do need to address in the African-American community,” he said. The research from Louisville shows that upholding — and strengthening — our air quality standards is one place to start.

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These air pollution standards kept people out of the hospital. Trump just rolled them back.

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Secrets of the Savanna – Mark Owens & Delia Owens


Secrets of the Savanna

Twenty-three Years in the African Wilderness Unraveling the Mysteries ofElephants and People

Mark Owens & Delia Owens

Genre: Nature

Price: $9.99

Publish Date: July 17, 2007

Publisher: HMH Books

Seller: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

  "Vividly written…Their story is thrilling—the kind of tale that wild-animal lovers won't easily forget."— People In this riveting real-life adventure, Mark and Delia Owens tell the dramatic story of their last years in Africa, fighting to save elephants, villagers, and — in the end — themselves. The award-winning zoologists and pioneering conservationists describe their work in the remote and ruggedly beautiful Luangwa Valley, in northeastern Zambia. There they studied the mysteries of the elephant population’s recovery after poaching, discovering remarkable similarities between humans and elephants. A young elephant named Gift provided the clue to help them crack the animals’ secret of survival. A stirring portrait of life in Africa, Secrets of the Savanna is a remarkable record of the Owenses's unique passions.

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Secrets of the Savanna – Mark Owens & Delia Owens

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Air: The Restless Shaper of the World – William Bryant Logan


Air: The Restless Shaper of the World

William Bryant Logan

Genre: Nature

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: August 20, 2012

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Seller: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

In a sublime exploration of the most unpredictable element of the earth, William Bryant Logan opens our eyes to the astonishing physics, chemistry, biology, history, art, and even music of the air. Air sustains the living. Every creature breathes to live, exchanging and changing the atmosphere. Water and dust spin and rise, make clouds and fall again, fertilizing the dirt. Twenty thousand fungal spores and half a million bacteria travel in a square foot of summer air. The chemical sense of aphids, the ultraviolet sight of swifts, a newborn’s awareness of its mother’s breast—all take place in the medium of air. Ignorance of the air is costly. The artist Eva Hesse died of inhaling her fiberglass medium. Thousands were sickened after 9/11 by supposedly “safe” air. The African Sahel suffers drought in part because we fill the air with industrial dusts. With the passionate narrative style and wide-ranging erudition that have made William Bryant Logan’s work a touchstone for nature lovers and environmentalists, Air is—like the contents of a bag of seaborne dust that Darwin collected aboard the Beagle—a treasure trove of discovery.

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Air: The Restless Shaper of the World – William Bryant Logan

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The House Natural Resource Committee’s climate change hearing turned into a heated conversation about race

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On Wednesday, while the rest of the nation was busy scrolling through Pelosi State of the Union golf clap memes, two major panels — the House Natural Resources Committee and a separate subcommittee on energy and commerce — met to discuss the impact of global warming on the nation as a whole.

This marks the first time the Natural Resources Committee has held a hearing on climate change in a decade, and newly empowered House Democrats have even more hearings on climate planned throughout the month.

The hearing started off on a contentious foot, with speakers calling into question everything from climate science, to poverty, to whether the timing of the hearings was somehow disrespectful to Black History Month.

“I know you have made February as climate change month, I appreciate the fact that that you picked the shortest month of the year to to do that,” said Republican Rob Bishop, former chair of the Natural Resources Committee, to the current chair Raul Grijalva. “It also happens to be of course Black History Month, which I wish we could deal with other things.”

Bishop, who is white, went on argue that it would be more within the committee’s purview to focus on the preservation of sites historically relevant to the African-American community — such as historically black colleges or Central High School, where teens later known as the “Little Rock Nine” forced Arkansas to enforce federal desegregation laws — than for the panel to pontificate on climate change.

Throughout the hearing, speakers both emphasized and clashed over climate and energy as a racial and social justice issues.

Reverend Lennox Yearwood, president of the Hip Hop Caucus, a nonprofit organization that produces a podcast combining hip hop music and climate action, called climate change “a civil and human rights issue,” and the “lunch counter moment for the 21st century.”

Elizabeth Yeampierre, representing the Brooklyn community-based organization UPROSE and the nationwide Climate Justice Alliance said that, “Our communities are the first and most impacted by the storms, fires, floods and droughts, and are disproportionately burdened by the pollution, poverty and systemic violence associated with the multinational corporations driving these ecological crises.” While she called for a transition away from fossil fuels, she acknowledged that it would not be “smooth” and that efforts would need to be made so no communities are left behind.

Not everyone agreed on how to uplift low-income families and neighborhoods of color. Derrick Hollie, president of Reaching for America, a group that advocates for affordable energy for communities of color, argued that African-American communities need cheaper sources of energy, as black residents tend to spend a larger proportion of their budgets on heating and cooling costs, partially due to lower-quality housing construction and insulation.

“The African-American community, we don’t have the luxury to pay more for green technologies, we need access to affordable energy to help heat our homes, power our stoves, and get back and forth to work,” said Hollie, who is black.

Instead of focusing on a transition to renewable energy, Hollie argued for greater investment in natural gas, which he said was more affordable. “For many Americans, this allows them not to have to choose between keeping the lights on and feeding their families,” he said.

Reverend Yearwood and Representative Joe Neguse of Colorado — both of whom are black — pushed back on Hollie, pointing to research into how black communities have disproportionately borne the health burdens of natural gas and other fossil fuels.

“For me as a minister, having buried a young girl because of asthma, that mother no longer cares about how much that utility bill would have cost.” said Yearwood. “We can definitely fight poverty and pollution at the same time.”

Several other speakers highlighted the ways in which Americans are already coping with the effects of climate change on health and safety.

“North Carolinians know about [climate change] the hard way. We have weathered two so-called 500 year floods within two years,” Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina told the committee. “For survivors of these storms, the true costs are incalculable.”

Governor Cooper (a Democrat) and Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts (a Republican) then teamed up to defend climate science and denounce efforts to open the Atlantic to offshore drilling.

Republicans invited controversial climatologist Judith Curry, whose work has been used by climate skeptics as an argument against taking action, to speak to the committee. She has voiced doubts over how much of an impact human activity has on the climate, and questions whether climate models projecting the effects of a warming world are reliable. (As a group, climate scientists overwhelmingly agree that climate change is a real threat and a result of human activity)

Curry was joined on the panel by her former colleague Kim Cobb, a climate scientist and professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Curry retired in 2017). Unlike Curry, Cobb gave vehement testimony during the hearing’s second panel on the disastrous consequences of climate change, including prolonged droughts, wildfires, and storms.

Although the economic costs of those events “can be measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars,” Cobb said,“their real toll, the vast human suffering left in their wake, is immeasurable.”

The Natural Resources Committee will meet again Thursday afternoon for more livestreamed debate on climate change and ocean health.


The House Natural Resource Committee’s climate change hearing turned into a heated conversation about race

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Eclipse – J. P. McEvoy



The science and history of nature’s most spectacular phenomenon

J. P. McEvoy

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: April 20, 2017

Publisher: William Collins


J P McEvoy looks at remarkable phenomenon of a solar eclipse through a thrilling narrative that charts the historical, cultural and scientific relevance of solar eclipses through the ages and explores the significance of this rare event. In the year when Britain will be touched by a solar eclipse for the first time since 1927, J P McEvoy looks at this remarkable phenomenon through a thrilling narrative that charts the historical, cultural and scientific relevance of solar eclipses through the ages and explores the significance of this rare event. Eclipse shows how the English Astronomer Norman Lockyer named the element Helium from the spectra of the eclipsed Sun, and how in Cambridge Arthur Eddinton predicted the proof of Einstein’s General Relativity from the bending of sunlight during the famous African eclipse of 1919. During late morning on 11 August, 1999 the shadow of the last total eclipse of the Millennium will cut across the Cornwall Peninsula and skirt the coast of Devon before moving on to the continent, ending its journey at sunset in the Bay of Bengal, India. Britain’s next eclipse will be in September, 2090. Throughout history, mankind has exhibited a changing response to the eclipse of the sun. The ancient Mexicans believed the Sun and the Moon were quarrelling whilst the Tahitians thought the two celestial objects were making love. Today, astronomers can calculate the exact path the moon’s shadow will track during the solar eclipse. As millions encamp for the brief spectacle with mylar glasses, pin-hole cameras, binoculars and telescopes, space agency satellites and mountain-top observatories study the corona, flares and the magnetosphere of the Sun as the 125 mile-wide black patch zooms along the ground at 2000 mph. About the author J P McEvoy was born in the USA. He has published over 50 papers on his specialist subject, superconductivity. He has been involved in improving public understanding of science for many years. He wrote the TV series Eureka, describing great moments in science from Archimedes to the present. In addition to journalism and radio broadcasting, he has written two guides in the ‘Begginers’ series for Icon Books.


Eclipse – J. P. McEvoy

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Big Oil touts offshore drilling jobs to communities most harmed by oil

Earlier this month, the American Petroleum Institute, the biggest U.S. trade organization for oil and gas, launched a bipartisan effort to reach out to diverse communities across the Southeastern U.S. The group touts offshore drilling jobs for African American and Latino workers.

“We want to build support in minority communities because the message that increasing the supply of affordable energy and good paying jobs will resonate,” API’s Erik Milito told Reuters.

While the oil and gas lobby is billing offshore drilling as an economic boon, environmental justice leaders caution that it’s pedaling dangerous work to the very communities that Big Oil has hurt the most.

“We used to call that economic extortion — in order to have a job you needed to be in a dirty job,” says Jose Bravo, the executive director of the Just Transition Alliance. Bravo, who organizes for clean jobs in California, says he’s seen decades of false promises by the fossil fuel industry.

Refineries located near neighborhoods of color often promise to hire locally, he says, but then bring on employees from out of town. And oil jobs can be risky.

“There’s a lot of potential damage both to the planet and to health,” Bravo says, citing the Deepwater Horizon explosion off the coast of Louisiana that killed 11 people in 2010. He also points out that the damage eventually makes its way back to land: “Historically, when we bring that oil onshore, we’re bringing it into communities of color.”

Last year, the NAACP published a report that found that over a million African Americans live within a half-mile of oil and natural gas production, processing, or transmission and storage facilities, leading to elevated risks of cancer and asthma attacks from toxic air emissions.

To be sure, many local business organizations have joined API’s effort, including the Florida Black Chamber of Commerce, the South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce, along with Hispanic chambers of commerce from Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia, among others.

Another touchy subject has been the oil lobby’s outreach to Hurricane Maria survivors. Julio Fuentes, president of Florida’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a partner in API’s initiative, defended the push to hire locals in an email to Grist. “Florida has welcomed many of our friends from Puerto Rico, and it is important to provide secure, high-paying jobs for our residents and evacuees,” he said. “Offshore exploration is one way we can do so.”

Michelle Suarez with Organize Florida, a grassroots nonprofit group that has been assisting hurricane survivors, sees how Big Oil can make an appealing offer to an evacuee who has just lost so much. “We’re in this crisis. And so I imagine that it’s going to be tempting for families that are impacted to get some of those jobs,” Suarez says.

Suarez doesn’t think working in Big Oil, with its links to climate change and more frequent and severe superstorms, is the answer to helping evacuees recover. “We’re talking about the industry that has been one of the causes of these disasters, indirectly through their work,” says Suarez.

Both Suarez and Bravo say that their communities don’t need to choose between jobs and a healthy community and environment.

“We need to switch from that narrative because we do need to take care of the earth. This is our home. We have to make it work so that we have jobs that are not extracting and destroying the environment,” Suarez says.

Bravo believes the U.S. can can still be a global leader in spurring careers in renewable energy.

“We are all for jobs but we’re for jobs that don’t pollute, we’re for jobs that are clean, we’re for jobs that are sustainable,” Bravo says.

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Big Oil touts offshore drilling jobs to communities most harmed by oil

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Media fails on climate and extreme weather coverage, except for this guy

Everyone knows that the country got gobsmacked by hurricanes last year. But if you rely on mainstream media for news, you might not know that climate change had anything to do with those storms or other extreme weather events — unless you’ve recently paid close attention to Al Roker.

Climate scientists tell us that as the climate warms, hurricanes will get more intense. Yet the major broadcast TV news programs mentioned climate change only two times last year during their coverage of the record-breaking hurricanes (yes, two times). The climate-hurricane link came up once on CBS, once on NBC, and not at all in the course of ABC’s coverage of the storms, Media Matters found. All in all, major U.S. TV news programs, radio news programs, and newspapers mentioned climate change in just 4 percent of their stories about these devastating hurricanes, according to research by Public Citizen.

So it’s probably no surprise that many major media outlets also neglected to weave climate change into their reporting on last year’s heat waves and wildfires.

Will coverage be any better this year?

Al Roker has given us reason to feel slightly optimistic. Last week, Roker, the jovial weather forecaster on NBC’s Today show, demonstrated one good way to put an extreme weather event into proper context. While discussing the devastating flooding that recently hit Ellicott City, Maryland, he explained that heavy downpours have become more common in recent decades thanks to climate change, using a map and data from the research group Climate Central to support his point:

As we roll into summer — the start of the season for hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, and heat waves — that’s just the kind of connect-the-dots reporting Americans need.

The New York Times helped set the scene with a map-heavy feature highlighting places in the United States that have been hit repeatedly by extreme weather. “Climate change is making some kinds of disasters more frequent,” the piece explained, and “scientists also contend that climate change is expected to lead to stronger, wetter hurricanes.”

It’s one thing to report on how climate change worsens weather disasters in general, as the Times did in that piece, but much more rare for media to make the connection when they cover a specific storm or wildfire. Roker did it, yet many other journalists remain too squeamish. They shouldn’t be; science has their back.

In addition to what we know about the general link between climate change and extreme weather, there’s a growing body of peer-reviewed research, called attribution science, that measures the extent to which climate change has made individual weather events more intense or destructive.

Consider the research that’s been done on Hurricane Harvey, which dumped more than 60 inches of rain on the Houston area last August. Just four months after the storm, two groups of scientists published attribution studies: One study estimated that climate change made Harvey’s rainfall 15 percent heavier than it would have been otherwise, while another offered a best estimate of 38 percent.

Broadcast TV news programs failed to report on this research when it came out, but they should have. And the next time a major hurricane looms, media outlets should make note of these and other studies that attribute hurricane intensity to climate change. Scientists can’t make these types of attribution analyses in real time (at least not yet), but their research on past storms can help put future storms in context.

Of course, in order to incorporate climate change into hurricane reporting, journalists have to report on hurricanes in the first place. They failed miserably at this basic task when it came to Hurricane Maria and its devastation of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Maria got markedly less media coverage than hurricanes Harvey and Irma, according to analyses by FiveThirtyEight and researchers from the MIT Media Lab. The weekend after Maria made landfall in September, the five major Sunday morning political talk shows spent less than a minute altogether on the storm. And just last week, when a major new study estimated that Maria led to approximately 5,000 deaths in Puerto Rico, as opposed the government’s official death count of 64, cable news gave 16 times more coverage to Roseanne Barr’s racist tweet and her canceled TV show than to the study.

Hurricane Maria overwhelmingly harmed people of color — Puerto Rico’s population is 99 percent Latino, and the U.S. Virgin Islands’ population is 98 percent Black or African-American — so it’s hard not see race as a factor in the undercoverage of the storm.

The lack of reporting on Maria sets a scary precedent, as climate disasters are expected to hurt minority and low-income communities more than whiter, wealthier ones. Unless mainstream media step up their game, the people hurt the most by climate change will be covered the least.

Ultimately, we need the media to help all people understand that climate change is not some distant phenomenon that might affect their grandkids or people in faraway parts of the world. Only 45 percent of Americans believe climate change will pose a serious threat to them during their lifetimes, according to a recent Gallup poll. That means the majority of Americans still don’t get it.

When journalists report on the science that connects climate change to harsher storms and more extreme weather events, they help people understand climate change at a more visceral level. It’s happening here, now, today, to all of us. That’s the story that needs to be told.

Lisa Hymas is director of the climate and energy program at Media Matters for America. She was previously a senior editor at Grist.

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Media fails on climate and extreme weather coverage, except for this guy

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Hurricane Irma is a monster storm. Here’s where it might be headed.

As the remnants of what was once Hurricane Harvey move mercifully away from Texas, forecasters are already eyeing another monster storm.

Hurricane Irma formed early Wednesday in the warm waters off the coast of West Africa — and took just 30 hours to strengthen to a Category 3. That’s the fastest intensification rate in almost two decades. By Friday afternoon, the storm had also grown noticeably larger in size with a well-defined eye, a classic sign of a strong hurricane.

Though Irma poses no immediate threat to land, the outlook is ominous: In the Atlantic, Irma is expected to pass through some abnormally warm waters — the primary fuel source for storm systems. The official National Hurricane Center forecast says it will remain at major hurricane status for at least the next five days, and, in a worst-case scenario, Irma could eventually grow into one of the strongest hurricanes ever seen in the Atlantic.

That assessment is leaving forecasters and coastal residents understandably jittery. A hurricane this far out at sea normally wouldn’t draw this much attention, but Harvey’s floodwaters are still receding, leaving behind historic damage in Texas and Louisiana. This is not a normal situation.

Irma is “starting to give me that uncomfortable feeling in my gut,” wrote meteorologist Brendan Moses on Twitter. Another meteorologist, Michael Ventrice, said some of the initial modeling of Irma output “the highest windspeed forecasts I’ve ever seen in my 10 yrs of Atlantic hurricane forecasting.” Even the National Hurricane Center forecaster tasked with constructing the storm’s official forecast was surprised by how “uncommonly strong” Irma already is.

Hurricane Irma is what meteorologists call a “Cape Verde hurricane,” named after the African island nation just west of Senegal — an infamous late-summer breeding ground for powerful long-track storms. Some of the most notorious hurricanes ever to make U.S. landfall were born near where Irma generated.

Only about 15 percent of Cape Verde hurricanes directly strike the United States, so there’s no guarantee that Irma will. Since any potential landfall is still almost two weeks away and could take place anywhere from Texas to Maine, there’s not much for people to do right now except monitor the storm’s progress — and speculate.

On Friday, the National Weather Service warned of “fake forecasts” that are circulating widely on social media. But even established forecasting outlets have begun to share (rather cautiously) long-range graphics that show Irma threatening the U.S.

Meteorologists won’t have even a ballpark estimate of where Irma might make landfall or how strong it will be until early next week at the soonest. It will probably take a few more days to refine those forecasts enough to confidently call for preparedness actions.

But as of Friday, the most likely scenarios for Irma aren’t looking good.

Florida and the Caribbean: Historically, Florida is the state most likely to be hit by a hurricane in September. Recent runs of the European model, the weather model with the greatest historical accuracy, showed a swath of the southeast coast from the Florida Keys to southern Virginia as the most likely area where Irma would make landfall. On the way, it could pass close to the islands of the northeast Caribbean.
Northeast: A few recent model runs show Irma curving northward off the East Coast, potentially affecting the mid-Atlantic or New England. The large-scale North American weather pattern over the next 10 days may become especially chaotic due to a dwindling typhoon in the Pacific (the atmosphere is one giant connected system, after all), so it’s possible an unpredictable dip in the jet stream could steer Irma inland.
Gulf of Mexico: Should a high-pressure area over the western Atlantic remain in place, Irma could scoot underneath it, passing through the northern edge of the Caribbean and into the Gulf of Mexico. With the Gulf coast already devastated by Harvey, it’s a potentially tragic scenario that can’t yet be ruled out.
Out to sea: Most hurricanes that form where Irma did don’t make landfall in the United States at all. They safely curve out to sea. If we’re lucky, Irma might do the same.

It’s peak hurricane season, so it’s no surprise to see another strong storm spinning across the Atlantic. But with Irma’s path still to be determined, the best place to focus our attention now is on helping soothe the disaster that’s already happened in Texas and Louisiana.

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Hurricane Irma is a monster storm. Here’s where it might be headed.

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Revisiting the Rodney King Verdict 25 Years Later

Mother Jones

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On April 29, 1992, Los Angeles was engulfed in flames after a jury acquitted four LAPD officers who had been charged in the beating of Rodney King, an African-American motorist. Videos and images of King’s brutalization were widely circulated, provoking an immediate call for justice. When that call went unheeded, the ensuing unrest ignited a wave of violence, death, and financial loss in America’s second-largest city. Fifty-four people were killed in the riots, nearly 12,000 were arrested, and the city incurred more than $1 billion in damages. (The following year, two of the officers were convicted in federal court of violating King’s civil rights; the other two were acquitted once again.)

The parallels between modern-day police brutality and the 1991 King beating serve as a grim reminder of how little has changed today, despite efforts to reform law enforcement. Here are four documentaries and television specials that offer a window into the enduring legacy of the King verdict:

  1. LA Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later
    Despite being a retrospective, A&E’s special does not allow readers to retreat from the present-day, unfurling images of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin at the start of the two-hour film. LA Burning spins through first-person recollections from a week of dark, incendiary nights in Los Angeles. The grievances and discontent of rioters are visible onscreen, and notable interviewees include George Holliday, the photographer whose video of King’s beating went viral in the pre-Internet age. The special is available to stream on A&E’s website.
  2. LA 92
    At a midnight speech in Sacramento, California Gov. Pete Wilson (R) declares a state of emergency in LA: “This is a matter that needs to be settled in the courts and not in the streets,” he tells residents. Using archival footage, LA 92 is National Geographic Channel’s reconstructed glimpse into the turbulence roiling the city during the riots. We shuttle from images of the California National Guard on standby duty to moments of quiet calm at the First AME Church, where African-American city council member Rita Walters tells crowds, “Tonight we must tell our children one more time: Stay cool, be calm…that for African-American children and adults, freedom is not yet a reality in the United States.” The film premieres on Sunday, April 30, on National Geographic.
  3. The Lost Tapes: LA Riots
    As conflagrations spread across Los Angeles, first responders, dispatchers, and law enforcement agents scrambled to ensure the city did not fully descend into flames. Their voices are among those highlighted in this program from the Smithsonian Channel, which stitches together raw footage and homemade videos capturing the riots at the height of their intensity—some of it rarely-seen footage. “I can smell the fires,” one resident phones into a local radio station. “I’m really angry, and I’m really very scared. I just spent the last 10 years of my life in college. But it doesn’t really matter because even with a briefcase in my hand and suit on my back, I’m still just another nigger to the cops out there.” The episode is available online.
  4. Burn Motherf*cker, Burn!
    Showtime’s 99-minute documentary evaluates the events preceding the King beating, outlining the LAPD’s long history of systematic racism. The Sacha Jenkins film revisits the 1965 Watts riots, which were sparked by the arrest of African-American driver Marquette Frye. The six-day rebellion that followed in this largely African-American LA neighborhood killed 34 people and led to approximately 4,000 arrests. It was the costliest urban riot of its period, and it served as a precursor to the 1992 riots. The documentary also examines California’s Simi Valley, the predominantly white community to which the King trial was moved after fears of media saturation led to a venue change. No black citizens served on the Simi Valley jury that acquitted the officers. The full film is available on Showtime’s website.


Revisiting the Rodney King Verdict 25 Years Later

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