Friday, September 11, 2020

-A reformed raver in the House of Lords

As western states suffer through the worst wildfire season in recorded history, we as Americans have two choices: Reckon with the climate emergency that’s already upon us, or blame Antifa. (Go with your gut, don't overthink it.)

  • At least 15 people have died in the dozens of unprecedented wildfires raging along the west coast. The fires have burned through more than three-million acres in California, and destroyed entire communities in Oregon and Washington. With two large fires in Oregon threatening to merge, 500,000 people statewide—more than ten percent of the state’s population—have been ordered to evacuate. And in the middle of an uncontained respiratory epidemic, millions of people are breathing in toxic, smoke-filled air. Not ideal, on the whole!
  • The president, who today found time to congratulate a bank on forcing its employees back into the office, has had nothing to say about the inferno consuming a large swath of the country.  It’s no mystery why—this particular swath holds no electoral value to him, so to hell with it. We refer once again back to the time Trump tried to withhold federal aid to California during the devastating 2018 wildfires because voters in the state hadn’t supported him. (Never mind that many of the rural residents being forced from their homes did in fact vote for Trump; they’re irrelevant to his re-election, and thus irrelevant to him.)
  • Not only is Trump deeply uninterested in disasters affecting blue states, his nonstop fear-mongering has made the situation more dangerous. False rumors that left-wing activists have started fires in Oregon have proliferated on social media, fueled by a post from the anonymous account at the heart of the QAnon conspiracy theory. Oregon authorities, who have been inundated with calls about the rumors, have had to beg people to stop spreading misinformation that’s putting extra strain on first responders and encouraging some credulous conservatives to defy evacuation orders. 

That’s part of a larger pattern: As wildfires get worse and the climate emergency becomes harder to dismiss out of hand, conspiracies have become the new frontier of denial.

  • Bonkers wildfire conspiracy theories have cropped up around the world over the past year, with some Australian communities and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro blaming environmentalists and leftists for their respective blazes. Some of the Antifa rumors around the Oregon fires, like this Twitter thread from a Turning Point USA representative, explicitly deny that the fires were the result of climate change. 
  • In reality, the mechanism is incredibly straightforward. As greenhouse-gas emissions raise temperatures (see: California’s recent triple-digit heat waves), forests and vegetation dry out, creating prime conditions for fast-moving fires. Six of the largest wildfires in California’s history have occurred this year. and if we re-elect the guy with a passion for environmental deregulation, the impacts will keep accelerating. As one climate scientist told Buzzfeed, “This is very much a way station on the path to a new future. We have not reached the peak. In fact, no one knows where the peak is.”

It’s a little heavy-handed as a metaphor, but here in the waning months of Donald Trump’s first (and, please god, final) term in office, the country is on fire and for millions of people, the sky is no longer blue. There is exactly one way this gets better

Friends, we have eight (8) weekends left between now and the election. Adopt a state, sign up for those volunteer shifts and phone banks, and make sure you don’t wake up on November 4th wishing you had done more. If you adopt a battleground state at, the Vote Save America team will send you everything you can do to help between now and Election Day. It's the homestretch. The final hour. Don't fuck this up 

There are many ways to mark the anniversary of 9/11: You might think back on where you were, read oral histories of the day, or, if you’re the Trump administration, admit to defunding a health program for 9/11 first responders. A Thursday New York Daily News report revealed that the Treasury Department has secretly withheld nearly $4 million from a program for FDNY firefighters and medics suffering from 9/11-related illness. Treasury spokeswoman Rebecca Miller acknowledged today that the administration siphoned off money from the program to cover some of the city’s Medicare debt. Miller blamed “this really unfortunate situation” on “administrative hurdles,” but couldn’t explain why the program’s overseer, who had been asking the Treasury about the redirected funds for years, never received an answer.

ICE flew immigrant detainees to Virginia this summer in order to more quickly transfer tactical border teams to inflame protests, and as a result, fueled a major coronavirus outbreak. According to a DHS official, the primary reason the detainees were transferred was to circumvent rules that bar ICE employees from traveling on charter flights unless detainees are also aboard. Dozens of the people moved tested positive for the coronavirus after their arrival at an immigration jail in Virginia; the outbreak infected more than 300 inmates at the facility, one of whom died. A useful story to tell your grandchildren one day when you’re trying to explain the Trump administration’s cruelty towards immigrants, failure to contain a deadly virus, and descent into fascism in the span of one TikTok, or whatever the kids are watching on their Elon Musk brain implants by then.

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Nobody make any sudden moves, but absentee voting has begun in North Carolina, and it’s...going...well? 

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) has signed a bill that will make it easier for formerly incarcerated volunteer firefighters to have their records expunged, the first step towards them becoming professional firefighters. 

The Sunrise Movement has unveiled a slate of 18 congressional endorsements in a bid to unseat GOP climate-change deniers. 

Predictably, Democrats have been dominating absentee ballot requests, and promisingly, Democrats who didn’t vote in 2016 have been requesting ballots at a much higher rate than their GOP counterparts. (If you feel the creeping warmth of complacency, slap yourself in the face and click here.)

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