A Century of Fire Suppression Is Why California Is in Flames

https://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/12/a-century-of-fire-suppression-is-why-california-is-in-flames/

A Century of Fire Suppression Is Why California Is in Flames

“The wake-up call has already happened.”

December 12, 2017

The acrid smell of charred wood still permeates the air as Sasha Berleman, a fire ecologist, and I walk along a dirt path up through the middle of a canyon in the Bouverie nature preserve in Sonoma Valley. On the left side, the earth is black as tar, and scorch marks as tall as a person scar the trunks of the mature oak trees scattered throughout the field. But on the right side, the ground is tan and brown, and you have to look hard at the still-green oaks to see any evidence of the fire that raged through here just a few weeks before. It’s no mystery to Berleman why the fire behaved so differently on the two sides of the trail at Audubon Canyon Ranch’s Bouverie Preserve. When flames hit the field on the left of the path, they met a dense wall of thigh-high grass that hadn’t been mowed, grazed or burned for 20 years. The flames must have been 5 or 6 feet tall. On the right side, however, Berleman had set a prescribed burn just this spring. So when the October wildfire hit, patches of fire blazed, but with so little fuel, the flames remained only inches high.

For more than a century, people have been snuffing out fire across the West. As a result, forests, grasslands and shrub lands like those in the Bouverie reserve are overgrown. That means that, when fire escapes suppression, it’s more destructive. It kills more trees, torches more homes and sends far more carbon into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change.

The devastating fires that hit Bouverie and a large swath of Northern California’s wine country in October killed 42 people and destroyed nearly 7,000 buildings. In California’s Sierra Nevada in recent years, megafires have burned at much greater severity than those forests ever saw in the past, killing trees across large landscapes and unleashing enormous quantities of carbon. The remedy, Berleman and many other scientists say, is to reintroduce fire to the landscape by allowing more natural fires to burn and setting controlled burns when weather conditions minimize the risk of a catastrophic blaze.

“We have 100 years of fire suppression that has led to this huge accumulation of fuel loads, just dead and downed debris from trees and plant material in our forests, and in our woodlands,” says Berleman. “As a result of that, our forests and woodlands are not healthy, and we’re getting more catastrophic fire behavior than we would otherwise.”

Addressing the problem will require a revolution in land management and in people’s relationship with fire — and there are signs both may be beginning.

As a child in Southern California, Berleman was deeply afraid of wildfire. But at community college, she learned that Native Americans used fire for thousands of years to manage forests and grasslands and protect their villages. Tribes regularly burned California’s oak woodlands, for instance, to remove underbrush and fight pests. It helped them spot prey more easily, keep weevils out of the acorns they gathered for food, and safeguard their homes from wildfire. In 2009, Berleman transferred to the University of California, Berkeley to study fire ecology. There, she worked on her first prescribed burn. “I instantly fell in love with the ability to use fire in a positive way to accomplish objectives,” she says. She trained as a firefighter so she could put fire to use as a land-management tool.

Two years ago, while she was finishing her doctoral dissertation, she began working part-time at Bouverie. Last fall, she presented her boss with suggestions for using fire to restore overgrown landscapes, both at Bouverie and across the North Bay Area region. He approved, and Berleman, 28, started as a full-time fire ecologist in January, set her first burn in May and began organizing a taskforce to conduct burns and train local crews.

She knew how fire-prone the region is. Still, the big blazes in October caught her by surprise. “I thought I had more time to get work done,” she says.

High winds played a big role in spreading the California wine country’s deadly fires. But Berleman and other fire ecologists believe overgrown grasslands, forests and woodlands contributed as well. “I’m more certain than ever that there’s a lot we can do between now and the next time this happens to make it so that the negative consequences to people are nowhere near as dramatic.”

When fire hits overgrown wildlands, it burns hotter and is much more likely to kill stands of trees and threaten property and people’s lives.

But it also unleashes the carbon held by trees, other plants and soil. Forests store enormous amounts of carbon—more than double the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—and continuously soak up more, blunting the impact of all the greenhouse gases released by burning fossil fuels in power plants and cars. In recent decades, the size of fires, their intensity and the length of the fire season have all grown dramatically. The more destructive a fire, the more carbon it releases. In fact, largely because of fires, California’s forests emitted more carbon than they soaked up between 2001 and 2010, according to a 2015 analysis by National Park Service and UC Berkeley scientists. “After 100-plus years of fire suppression in forests, we’re seeing a lot more tree-killing wildfire,” says Matthew Hurteau, University of New Mexico fire ecologist and associate professor. “That has substantial implications for the carbon put back into the atmosphere.”

Further complicating the picture is climate change—the major factor behind the longer fire seasons and bigger fires. This creates a feedback loop, where megafires exacerbate climate change, which then encourages even bigger wildfires. One study found that from 1984 to 2015, climate change doubled the area burned by wildfires across the West, compared to what would have burned without climate change. As the globe keeps warming, scientists expect forests to continue getting warmer, drier and more flammable. Unless people reduce greenhouse gas emissions, climate change will significantly increase the frequency of wildfires. One study projected that if fossil fuels remain the dominant source of global energy and greenhouse gas emissions keep rising, by 2085 the acreage burned by fire in California will increase one-third to three-fourths. Elsewhere in the West, the size and frequency of fire is expected to increase even more dramatically. Until recently, intense fires were rare in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. But one study predicted that with climate change, fire likely would become so common and widespread there that by the middle of this century, the region’s forests as we know them will vanish, replaced by other types of vegetation that may store far less carbon.

In California’s Sierra Nevada, the combustible combination of climate change and overgrown forests already is transforming landscapes and unleashing massive amounts of carbon.

A four-hour drive east of wine country, gray trunks of dead incense cedar and white fir cover the steep slopes of the Eldorado National Forest. Deep into a canyon and up to a ridge in the distance, the trees are so close together that their branches touch. UC Berkeley fire ecologist Brandon Collins brought me here to show me the consequence of decades of fire suppression combined with climate change. This forest would usually burn nine times over the course of 100 years, but no fire had blazed here since at least 1908. “Without fire, you’re going to have these dense stands no matter what,” Collins says.

In 2014, the King Fire hit this unnaturally overgrown forest, leaping into the canopy and racing across a vast landscape. Limited patches of high-intensity fire would be natural in these forests. But in 47 percent of the 97,717 acres burned in the King Fire, the blaze was so hot that it killed nearly all of the trees. This included 14 areas where rare California spotted owls were known to nest. Before people started suppressing fires, this kind of all-consuming blaze did not happen in this type of forest, according to tree-ring studies. “We have seen no evidence you could ever have gotten a mortality patch this big,” Collins says.

The amount of carbon sent to the atmosphere from such an enormous fire is staggering. “It’s ugly,” says Collins. “It’s not only a huge initial loss just from the direct emissions, but it’s slow emission over time as these trees break and then fall to the ground and the decomposition process really gets underway. We’re looking at 30 years or 40 years of pure emissions coming from this area with very little on the uptake side,” Collins says.

Just the initial blaze released 5.2 million metric tons, roughly as much greenhouse gas emissions as 1.1 million passenger cars emit in a year, according to an estimate by Forest Service ecologist Leland Tarnay. It’s too soon to analyze the fire’s total carbon footprint.

It could take a long time for this landscape to start packing on carbon again. Though some trees’ cones require fire to reseed, these particular types of conifers won’t grow back because the fire burned their seeds. The silver lining is the native oaks, which are fire resilient and can resprout from roots or stumps, even after a trunk is killed by fire. Already, their seedlings are emerging from the sea of dead trunks.

Nearby, some strips of trees are still green. Their trunks are also more broadly spaced. In these areas, the Forest Service had set prescribed burns or thinned the forests by logging some trees. Forest Service surveys show the King Fire burned much less intensely in these areas. Flames were lower, staying on the forest floor rather than surging into the canopy of the trees. Firefighters used these areas to slow and stop the fire. More trees survived.

Just a few minutes’ drive from where the King Fire raged, Collins shows me where he and other scientists have been studying how people can help restore forests to more natural conditions. Thanks to firefighters’ efforts, UC Berkeley’s Blodgett Research Forest narrowly escaped the King Fire. Blodgett was clear-cut in the early 1900s, before the university took it over. After 100 years, it’s grown into a lush forest of incense cedar, ponderosa pine, white fir and oak trees.

The first patch of forest Collins shows me is the control forest, from which fire has long been banned. The understory is so thick with small trees and shrubs that it’s difficult to walk; we have to step over tangles of dead trees and branches. If a fire were to strike this area, it would easily climb from the ground to the lower branches and up into the canopy. “And then it can really spread,” Collins adds.

In the next patch of forest we visit, loggers cut down and sold some of the medium-sized trees in 2002. Then they shredded the small trees and underbrush using a big machine called a masticator, and spread the remnants on the forest floor. Now, the trees are widely spaced; sunlight shines through the canopy. The High Sierras are visible in the distance. If a fire were to come through here, Collins says, it likely would stay on the ground, and wouldn’t harm the trees or emit much carbon.

In another plot, crews set prescribed burns in 2002 and 2009. Scorch marks blacken the thick bark of some trees, but they’re still healthy. The forest is open, but more variable than the thinned forest. In one patch of tall ponderosa pines, the fire blazed hotter than in the rest of the forest. Several big trees were killed, leaving the kind of snags that woodpeckers love. This plot would also be likely to do well in a fire, Collins says.

A fourth plot shows some of the pitfalls of combining thinning and burning. Crews cut down some trees, shredded the noncommercial wood and scattered it on the forest floor. Shortly afterwards, they burned the forest. The fire burned so hot from all the wood on the ground that the remaining trees were injured. They haven’t grown or soaked up much carbon since.

Overall, the experiments at Blodgett suggest that prescribed burns and thinning can have long-term carbon benefits. But in the short term, carbon emissions will increase. Neither the burned nor the thinned plot has caught up with the carbon stored in the forest that was left alone. But with less competition, the trees are growing faster in the thinned and burned plots, and Collins predicts that eventually they will store more carbon than the denser stand.

Scientists have seen a similar pattern in another experimental forest in the Sierra Nevada—Teakettle, an old-growth forest with giant sugar pines. As in Blodgett, the forests initially stored less carbon after being burned or thinned. But the forests at Teakettle recovered their carbon stocks more quickly than Blodgett did, in about seven years. “If you restore forests, you do knock down the total amount of carbon, but you prevent very large tree-killing fires. Over time, the carbon stored in the forest is much more stable because you’ve taken steps to prevent big hot fires from occurring,” says Hurteau.

The old-growth trees in Teakettle soaked up carbon faster than Blodgett’s younger trees. But in both types of forests, carbon should accumulate faster in fewer big trees. And the thinned and fire-opened stands make big trees healthier by reducing competition for water and nutrients. That improves their odds in both fire and drought. Big trees are generally more fire resistant, meaning they’re more likely to survive a fire and continue to soak up carbon afterward. “If we want to maintain this ecosystem service of removing carbon from the atmosphere that trees provide, we need to make investments in doing what we can to protect the big trees, because they’re doing a disproportionate amount of the work,” says Hurteau.

A single tree that is 6 feet in diameter, like one of the big sugar pines in Teakettle, holds as much carbon as 60 small trees, 8 to 10 inches in diameter, says Malcolm North, a leading Forest Service fire ecologist and Hurteau’s colleague and former teacher. That’s a much more reliable way to store carbon. “The carbon in the big trees is a secure investment like gold,” North said, whereas the carbon stored in overgrown forests is more like “junk bonds.”

Despite the science, however, forest managers continue to snuff out most fires. For the decade ending 2008, the most recent data collected, only 0.4 percent of ignitions were allowed to burn as managed wildfires, North, Collins and other fire ecologists wrote in 2015 in the journal Science. “Changing climate and decades of fuel accumulation make efforts to suppress every fire dangerous, expensive, and ill-advised,” they wrote.

North was reprimanded for the article and forbidden to talk with the media for a year. But he’s speaking out again, because the dire consequences of overgrown forests are becoming so clear.

North says thinning is not a solution for much of the Sierra Nevada. Only 28 percent of the landscape can be mechanically thinned, he calculated; the rest is too steep or remote. “You cannot think your way out of the problem,” he says. “You’ve got to use fire.”

Official Forest Service policy has acknowledged this. The 2014 interagency National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy calls for expanding the use of prescribed burns and letting more wildfires burn. “It’s just not being followed; that’s the real problem,” North says. “Everyone knows what we’ve got to do. But it’s not being done.”

Sasha Berlemen encountered that stubborn resistance to letting fires burn this summer, when she was on a Forest Service hotshot crew. She fought fires in Plumas, Six Rivers, Modoc and Klamath national forests. Fire managers were aggressive, often sending her crew to the fire’s edge to try to prevent it from spreading. That contradicted what she learned in her fire ecology classes about letting wildfires burn larger areas. “There’s this disconnect that I didn’t know about until summer — between what everyone is saying in academia and what’s actually happening on the ground,” she says.

Some forest managers have begun to accept more fire, however, as have national parks. The 2013 Rim Fire, the biggest fire in Sierra Nevada history, burned at lower intensity in parts of Yosemite and Sequoia national parks than it did in national forests, killing fewer trees and producing less air pollution. The parks had previously allowed wildfires to burn when weather conditions, such as light winds, minimized risks.

The Forest Service has been more reluctant to let natural fires burn, in part because of checkerboard land ownership and because houses have been built in many forests on private property inholdings. “Ecological benefits don’t have a huge voice,” Collin says. “No one will sue for not letting fire burn. If you let a fire burn and something bad happens, someone will sue you.”

Air-quality regulations play a role, too. Both North and Collins tried for weeks to schedule burns this fall. Air quality concerns and a lack of available personnel — the wine country fires were still raging — delayed their burns. Both finally were able to burn at the end of October. “The Forest Service is cursed with lands with houses in middle of them, wildland-urban interface where people don’t want to breathe smoke,” North says. “Almost everything works against trying to work with fire. The only way it’s going to change is to get public support.”

Craig Thomas, conservation director of Sierra Forest Legacy, has been calling for more natural and prescribed fire in the Sierra for two decades. He believes that after the Rim, Rough and King fires, the public and policymakers better understand the threat of unnaturally overgrown forests. “They jarred California society in a big way,” Thomas says. “This disaster is a human creation; climate change is making it even tougher.”

In 2015, the Sierra Forest Legacy, the Forest Service, CAL FIRE, the state fire agency, and other agencies and groups signed an agreement to use more fire in wildlands management and increase training for fire managers and crews. Since then, the Forest Service has increased the total acreage where it has allowed natural fires to burn from an annual average of about 10,000 acres to 247,000 in 2016 and 130,000 this year. “That was a big jump,” says Rob Griffith, assistant director of the Forest Service Pacific Southwest region’s fire and aviation program.

Prescribed burns are up, too, from 20,000 acres on average before the agreement to about double that in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Some 96,000 acres of prescribed burns are scheduled for the next fiscal year, Griffith adds.

California’s commitment to tackling climate change is giving extra oomph to efforts to bring back fire. For instance, funding for the research at Teakettle and Blodgett comes from revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program. The state auctions allowances, which big polluters buy to receive the right to pollute. California doesn’t want the progress it’s making from switching to electric vehicles and renewable energy to be nullified by giant pulses of carbon released by wildfires.

Still, Berleman thinks it will take a revolution to get people to overcome their primal fear of fire. She knows how hard it is. She grew up in Temecula, an inland city between Los Angeles and San Diego, in a valley surrounded by chaparral-covered hills that burned nearly every year. When she was 4, she stood in her yard and caught ash in her hand and watched ash cover her lawn like snow. “I was afraid of fire,” she says. “I remember having night terrors that I’d have to try to save my family from wildfire.”

But her view has changed since then, and she hopes others can change their minds, too. She thinks the October fires will be a catalyst for policymakers and the public to accept that fire is the best protection against megafires and all the carbon they emit. They already have emboldened her to move quickly than she had planned to introduce fire to parts of the North Bay Area that escaped the October fires.

“Now that this has happened, we’ve decided the wake-up call has already happened,” she says. “We need to scale up if we’re going to get though this; it’s going to take all hands and all lands.”

She now plans to apply fire in five counties instead of just two. And instead of burning just grasslands, which produce far less smoke, she’ll burn forests and woodlands as well. If people push back, she knows what she’ll say: “By being afraid, we’re making our problem worse. There’s another option. That fear can actually inform a positive movement; you can take a fear of fire and decide, ‘OK, we don’t want megafires; we’re afraid of them.’ Let’s take action instead. Fire could be our favorite tool on our landscape, and we could have more beautiful and healthy landscapes. And people wouldn’t have to live in as much fear.”

October 31, 2019. Tags: , , , , . Environmentalism. 1 comment.

President Obama Criticizes Woke Culture At Colleges

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMwvL6rhpuo

October 30, 2019. Tags: , , , , , . Barack Obama, Social justice warriors. Leave a comment.

White liberals ‘patronize’ minorities while talking – but conservatives don’t, study says

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article222424675.html

White liberals ‘patronize’ minorities while talking – but conservatives don’t, study says

November 30, 2018

White liberals tend to present themselves as less competent when speaking to minorities — while conservatives do not, according to a new study from Yale University scheduled to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

“Most Whites, particularly socio-political liberals, now endorse racial equality. Archival and experimental research reveals a subtle but reliable ironic consequence: White liberals self-present less competence to minorities than to other Whites — that is, they patronize minorities stereotyped as lower status and less competent,” says the study, written by Yale professor Cydney Dupree.

Dupree analyzed the speech patterns of liberal and conservative presidential campaign speeches to pinpoint how often they used words that signified “warmth” and “competence.”

Words that emphasized warmth were things like “supportive” or “compassionate,” while words that emphasized competence were things like “assertive” or “competitive.” Dupree found that Democratic candidates used fewer “competence” words when speaking to primarily minority audiences, and they have been doing so for many years.

“It was really surprising to see that for nearly three decades, Democratic presidential candidates have been engaging in this predicted behavior,” she said in a news release.

There was not a similar pattern with Republicans, though it was harder to find examples of Republicans giving speeches to primarily minority audiences, Dupree said in the release.

But then the researchers took another step. They recruited people to participate in a study where they were told to email a partner using a list of words. Sometimes the email would be about some theoretical task, or it could just be a friendly introduction.

The catch? The person they were emailing either had a stereotypical “white” name like “Emily’ or a stereotypically “black” name like “Lakisha.”

The researchers found that liberals were less likely to use words that signified competence and more likely to use words signifying warmth when speaking with people they thought were black. There was no such connection for conservatives.

So why does this happen?

Dupree says it might be a sign that white liberals “may unwittingly draw on negative stereotypes, dumbing themselves down in a likely well-meaning, “folksy” but ultimately patronizing, attempt to connect” with minorities, according to the study.

“It was kind of an unpleasant surprise to see this subtle but persistent effect,” Dupree said in a news release. “Even if it’s ultimately well-intentioned, it could be seen as patronizing.”

She calls this a “competence downshift” and said people could either be doing it to try to “get along” because they want to seem likeable or, more insidiously, because of stereotypes.

“It’s somewhat counterintuitive,” said Dupree, according to The Washington Post. “The idea that people who are most well-intentioned toward racial minorities, the people actually showing up and wanting to forge these connections, they’re the ones who seem to be drawing on stereotypes to do so.”

Dupree told The Washington Post there were still a lot of questions up in the air: How do people change their speech when talking to other minorities, like Asian-Americans? Do the people pick up on the shift? Is the change in speech pattern actually effective in bringing people closer together?

“My hope is that this work will help include well-intentioned people who see themselves as allies but who may be unwittingly contributing to group divides. There is a broader need to include them in the conversation,” she wrote in the news release.

October 28, 2019. Tags: , , . Dumbing down, Racism. Leave a comment.

Where is the father of Andrella Jackson’s five children?

One of the more recent news stories to get national attention is about how a police officer in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, stopped a woman whose young children were not in car seats, and instead of giving her a ticket, he went to Wal-Mart and bought car sets for her children.

The woman’s name is Andrella Jackson, and according to this article from CNN, she is a single mother of five children.

CNN quoted her as saying the following:

“With bills coming up and winter coming up, I have to get coats and boots and shoes for my kids.”

Of course it’s expensive to raise five children.

What I want to know is, where is the father of Andrella Jackson’s five children?

October 23, 2019. Tags: , , , , , . Parenting. 1 comment.

2 white UConn students arrested after video showed them shouting racial slurs

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/2-white-uconn-students-arrested-after-video-showed-them-shouting-n1069891?cid=referral_taboolafeed

2 white UConn students arrested after video showed them shouting racial slurs

Students on campus demanded action after video of the incident surfaced, saying it is indicative of broader issues of racism at the school.

October 22, 2019

Two white students at the University of Connecticut were arrested Monday after video that showed them shouting racial slurs prompted campus protests, university police told NBC News.

Jarred Mitchell Karal, 21, and Ryan Gilman Mucaj, 21, face charges of ridicule on account of race, color, or creed. They were released with a court date set for Oct. 30 at Rockville Superior Court in Vernon, Connecticut.

Karal and Mucaj’s charges could result in a $50 fine or up to 30 days in jail.

NBC sent emails to the two men Tuesday morning requesting comment but did not immediately hear back.

Campus police learned of the incident from social media footage showing Karal and Mucaj shouting epithets in an apartment complex parking lot, a university spokesperson told NBC News. The men were playing a game that involved yelling vulgar words, university police said, and then started shouting epithets. Karal and Mucaj were walking with a third man, whom police said did not shout epithets and was not charged.

The Oct. 11 incident sparked an outcry on campus, particularly from some black students who said it was indicative of broader issues of racism at the university.

“To just experience that on a daily basis and then having something that gets out to the public that everybody can see and understand, it’s really impactful for the rest of us,” freshman Mason Holland told NBC Connecticut.

The university last week organized a meeting at the apartment complex where the slurs were heard to discuss the incident.

On campus Monday, students marched to demand further action from the university, and they met at a gathering hosted by the campus NAACP chapter to discuss the climate for students of color on campus.

In a letter published in the student paper Monday, the NAACP also demanded that the university take action after the parking lot incident and another that allegedly occurred at a fraternity.

“If the university does not adequately address and handle these occurrences of racism appropriately, it will create a culture in which racism is tolerated and normalized,” the organization wrote, adding a list of demands aimed at making the campus safer and more welcoming to black students.

In a statement, University President Thomas C. Katsouleas said it was important to hold Karal and Mucaj accountable for their actions.

“It is supportive of our core values to pursue accountability, through due process, for an egregious assault on our community that has caused considerable harm,” he said. “I’m grateful for the university’s collective effort in responding to this incident, especially the hard work of the UConn Police Department, which has been investigating the case since it was reported.”

October 23, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , . Police state, Political correctness, Racism, Social justice warriors. 2 comments.

Law abiding political candidate Marie Newman returns illegal campaign contribution that criminal Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had illegally given to her

Marie Newman is a law abiding political candidate who is running for office in Illinois.

The largest campaign contribution that anyone is allowed to legally give to her campaign is $2,000.

However, this report from the Federal Election Commission shows that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez donated $5,000 to Newman’s campaign.

Here’s a screenshot which proves that Ocasio-Cortez broke federal campaign finance law. Source: https://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/forms/C00639591/1357189/sb/21

Fortunately, Newman is a law abiding citizen, and returned the excess $3,000.

On the other hand, Ocasio-Cortez is a criminal who violated federal campaign finance law.

Democrats are always going on and on and on about how much we need to reform the current campaign finance laws. Well, here’s a chance for those very same Democrats to publicly speak out in favor of prosecuting one of their own for breaking the campaign finance laws which are already on the books.

October 18, 2019. Tags: , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Leave a comment.

Video: Antifa mob chokes and beats pro-Trump man in Minneapolis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpfrGE_UIfs

October 18, 2019. Tags: , , , , . Antifa. Leave a comment.

Environmental hypocrite Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez flies to Denmark to tell everyone else to reduce their use of fossil fuels

https://nypost.com/2019/10/08/aoc-takes-first-international-trip-as-lawmaker/

AOC takes first international trip as lawmaker

October 8, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is taking the Green New Deal global.

The New York Democrat posted an Instagram story Tuesday afternoon showing herself walking through the airport as she headed for her first trip abroad as a freshman lawmaker.

She’s off to Copenhagen, Denmark, for the C40 World Mayors Summit.

“After a very busy week in district, I’m headed to Copenhagen for a global C40 conference where mayors and a lot of other public servants are going to be convening to discuss what we’ll be – what actions we need to take for the climate crisis,” she told her followers.

Mayors from Los Angeles, Boston and Philadelphia, among others, will all be in attendance. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will not attend, The Post confirmed.

October 16, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , . Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

ABC News’ ‘slaughter in Syria’ footage is really from a Kentucky gun range

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuO6yJrRAYw

October 16, 2019. Tags: , , , . Media bias. Leave a comment.

Maria Ana Carrola Flores, the UC San Diego student who got hit by a car at 1:30 a.m. during an anti-Trump protest, actually sued her college because it “failed to warn students of the danger of walking onto the freeway”

You may remember this video, which I have posted before. It shows an anti-Trump protest near UC San Diego that took place at 1:30 a.m. a few days after Trump was elected President. One of the protestors, a UC San Diego student named Maria Ana Carrola Flores, gets hit by a car:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GtM-debHD8

Maria Ana Carrola Flores chose to stand in the middle of a busy highway at 1:30 a.m.

And after she got hit by a car, she actually sued the driver who hit her.

She also sued the city and county of San Diego, UC San Diego, and the UC Board of Regents.

The Washington Free Beacon explained the reason for her lawsuit with the following: (the bolding is mine)

Flores’s attorney, Jerold Sullivan, argued that while his client accepted her responsibility for the accident, others shared blame as well. Sullivan claimed that according to Flores, campus officials had encouraged the protest, did not control it, and failed to warn students of the danger of walking onto the freeway.

So she sued her college because it didn’t teach her that it was dangerous to stand in the middle of a busy highway at 1:30 a.m.

That’s insane.

Fortunately, a judge dismissed her lawsuit.

And besides, since she did insist on filing a lawsuit because someone didn’t teach her that standing in the middle of a busy highway at 1:30 a.m. was dangerous, then she should have filed the lawsuit against her parents, not her college.

October 11, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Donald Trump, Dumb lawsuits, Idiots blocking traffic. 1 comment.

Greta Thunberg is an environmental hypocrite

Greta Thunberg wants the whole world to think that she cares about the environment because she traveled across the Atlantic ocean by boat instead of by airplane.

However, in the real world, multiple yacht crew members flew on an airplane from Europe to New York in order to bring the yacht back to Europe.

Furthermore, the yacht itself was made from propane and petroleum – the very same things that Thunberg was protesting against.

Of course, this whole environmental movement is far more about virtue signaling than it is about actually protecting the environment, which is why pretty much every single environmental celebrity and environmental politician is, in reality, an environmental hypocrite.

This video, which I wrote the dialogue for, is called “Hitler gets mad at Al Gore’s global warming hypocrisy.” The video’s description includes links to sources to verify each and every claim:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfr37Xn9IL8

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I never trust anyone who doesn’t live by the rules that they expect everyone else to live by.

October 9, 2019. Tags: , , , , , . Environmentalism. Leave a comment.

The only way that rich people could pay Bernie Sanders’s proposed annual 8% wealth tax would be by selling enough stock to get the money to pay the tax. This would drive down stock prices, and would hurt every single middle class person who has a pension, a 401K, or an IRA.

Billionaires don’t just have billions of dollars in cash just sitting around, waiting to pay Bernie Sanders’s proposed annual 8% wealth tax.

For example, the richest person in the world is Jeff Bezos, the guy who created amazon. 99.9% of his wealth is in the form of stock in the company that he himself created. In the beginning, that company was worth zero. The only reason that it has value today is because he created that value. The stock in any company is worth only as much as what people are willing to pay for it.

If Sanders forced Bezos to pay an 8% annual wealth tax, Bezos would have to sell enough of his amazon stock to get the money to pay the tax.

That would drive the price of the stock down.

And that would hurt every single middle class person who has a pension, a 401K, or an IRA.

And it gets even worse than that.

Sanders tried to justify his annual 8% wealth tax by saying

“Billionaires should not exist.”

But if billionaires don’t exist, then the companies that those billionaires created would not exist either.

And the goods and services that are provided by those companies would not exist either.

Which is why Sanders also said that people in the U.S. have too many choices when it comes to deodorant and shoes, and that it’s a “good thing” when people have to wait in line to buy food.

Sanders said that Americans have too many choices when it comes to deodorant and shoes. These are his exact words:

“You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country.”

Well, as it turns out, the policies of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro have caused a shortage of both deodorant and shoes in Venezuela.

Sanders also said that it was a “good thing” when people have to wait in line for food.

These are Sanders’s exact words:

“It’s funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is, cause people are lining up for food. That’s a good thing! In other countries people don’t line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.”

You can see and hear Sanders saying those words in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJBjjP8WSbc

Well, as it turns out, the policies of Chavez and Maduro have caused shortages of food in Venezuela.

For example, in May 2017, the Washington Post reported:

In a recent survey of 6,500 Venezuelan families by the country’s leading universities, three-quarters of adults said they lost weight in 2016 — an average of 19 pounds… a level of hunger almost unheard-of outside war zones or areas ravaged by hurricane, drought or plague.

Then in February 2018, Reuters reported:

Venezuelans reported losing on average 11 kilograms (24 lbs) in body weight last year… according to a new university study…

That’s 43 pounds in two years.

Here’s a photograph from 2014 of people in Venezuela waiting in line for food: (posted here under fair use from http://www.businessinsider.com/long-food-lines-are-in-venezuela-2014-2 )

You can read all about how Venezuela ended up like this at this link.

All of this happened in Venezuela because Chavez and Maduro decided to wage war against the rich.

What is exactly what Sanders is trying to do.

In fact, I have never, ever heard Sanders criticize any of the specific economic policies of Chavez or Maduro.

Sanders hasn’t criticized Chavez or Maduro for setting price controls on food.

Sanders hasn’t criticized Chavez or Maduro for nationalizing farmland.

Sanders hasn’t criticized Chavez or Maduro for nationalizing the electric, steel, cement, and construction industries.

On the contrary, every single economic policy that Sanders has ever expressed support for adopting in the U.S. is completely in line with the economic policies that were enacted by Chavez and Maduro in Venezuela.

You cannot help the poor and the middle class by hurting the rich people who provide the goods and services, as well as the jobs, that the poor and the middle class need.

Bernie Sanders’s hatred for the rich exceeds any concern for the poor and the middle class that he claims to have.

Sanders would rather hurt the middle class and the poor, as long as it also meant that he got to hurt the rich.

A falling tide lowers all ships.

Sanders has repeatedly criticized the existence of “millionaires and billionaires.” (Although he stopped doing so after the New York Times reported that he was one of them.)

Sanders defended his own millionaire status by saying the following:

“I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”

I agree with Sanders.

But here’s the difference between what I believe and what Sanders believes: I believe that it’s a good thing when any person becomes a millionaire or billionaire by providing their customers with the goods and services that their customers choose to buy. By comparison, the only person whose millionaire or billionaire status Sanders has ever defended is his own.

And I never trust anyone who doesn’t hold themselves to the same standards that they expect everyone else to follow.

October 9, 2019. Tags: , , , . Bernie Sanders, Economics. 1 comment.

Rebecca Watson: Facebook Deletes Science Fact Check at Ted Cruz’s Request

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8gwinZO8J0I

October 7, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , . Abortion, Health care, Media bias, Science. Leave a comment.

Candace Owens gives speech at White House, explaining how Democrats hurt black people

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LObY49p3MDQ

October 6, 2019. Tags: , , . Donald Trump. Leave a comment.

Antifa Harass Elderly Couple Crossing The Street

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mtIwff6E_U

October 6, 2019. Tags: , . Antifa. Leave a comment.

Why a “Billionaire” Wealth Tax Would Hurt the Working Poor and the Middle Class

https://fee.org/articles/why-a-billionaire-wealth-tax-would-hurt-the-working-poor-and-the-middle-class/

Why a “Billionaire” Wealth Tax Would Hurt the Working Poor and the Middle Class

Although the wealth tax was drafted with the poor in mind, its passing could cause them more harm than benefit.

By Mark Hornshaw

October 4, 2019

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders wants to tax billionaires out of existence, or at least make them an endangered species. His proposed wealth tax of up to 8 percent per year would mean “the wealth of billionaires would be cut in half over 15 years,” he says.

The progressive tax would start at 1 percent on retained wealth over $32 million, rising to 2 percent over $50 million, and so on, reaching to the top rate of 8 percent on wealth over $10 billion. Whatever is left would be taxed again the following year, and every year until it was gone.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that you don’t have an ethical problem with taxing people a second time on wealth that has already been taxed. And let’s set aside the issue of whether billionaires would simply leave their wealth on the table for Sanders to take, rather than fleeing to places with less ambitious governments. Let’s posit for the sake of argument that the tax achieves its aims.

The question then becomes, would it be beneficial for the working poor who Sanders is appealing to? Would it leave them better off or worse?

Net Worth Isn’t What You Think It Is

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has a net worth of $109 billion, according to Bloomberg. If you think you can get a decent abode for $1 million, then it seems like he could buy 109,000 plush houses. Does anybody need that much wealth? Wouldn’t it be better off going to people who need it more? How does leaving that corporate wealth in private hands help the average person? This is the simplistic way that Sanders wants you to think about the situation. But this is not a true reflection of the situation at all.

In pre-capitalist feudal times, wealth was acquired by conquest and subjugation. The Duke in the castle was there because his group was militarily the strongest, having defeated the previous band of marauders, who defeated everybody else in the area. A Duke’s castle might be sacked by the army of another Duke, but the common person’s lot in life would be the same, albeit with a new master.

In this system, nearly all production was for the benefit of the wealthy “strongman.” The tailor-made fine clothes for the Duke. The blacksmith shod the Duke’s horses, the woodworker made the Duke’s furniture, and so on. For everybody else, virtually nothing was produced at all apart from meager subsistence. It was not possible to “become” wealthy in such a society—there was no peaceful process by which it could occur.

Sanders and many others would like you to view the world in that paradigm. But that is not how a market economy works.

Sure, the rich still appreciate their custom furniture and fine clothes—and you can make a modest living as a craftsman or tailor. But you don’t become a billionaire yourself from those activities. You become a billionaire in a market economy by producing products for millions, or even billions of people.

The people who started Amazon, Google, Walmart, Apple, Microsoft, and Disney got rich through their unparalleled level of service to the masses. They were “voted rich” through the voluntary choices of millions of people.

Amazon is one of the most amazing engines of poverty reduction and enhancement of living standards the world has ever seen. They literally make the working poor less poor, by offering them goods and services they like at prices they can afford. (Not to mention the opportunities Amazon creates by empowering and encouraging entrepreneurs to start new side businesses at very low start-up cost.)

The Problem with a Wealth Tax

I’m sure Bezos has some nice houses (as does Sanders) and other luxury items that would make our minds boggle. But not $109 billion worth. Most of the wealth of people like Bezos consists of shares in the companies they started, which were initially worth zero. It is other people’s recent valuations of those shares on the stock exchange that we are quoting. The figures come from multiplying the last traded parcel of shares by the total number of shares owned – not from any realistic offer to purchase the whole company.

Somebody like Bezos does not normally keep a spare $8 billion under the mattress, just in case Uncle Sam asks for it. In order to raise that money, he would have to sell down some of the stock of his company, and probably much more than $8 billion worth at the current valuation. But who would buy them?

When you credibly threaten to confiscate wealth, valuations can plummet. Not to mention the fact that all other billionaires (at least American ones) would be in the same predicament, being forced sellers of large portions of their own stocks.

Perhaps during the initial rounds of the tax, there may be some small investors, small enough to be flying below Sanders’s radar for the time being. But if these shareholders thought they could do a better job running those companies, they could just buy those shares on the open market right now. By not doing so in an un-coerced market, they are indicating that they feel less competent than the current owners.

So over time, it would be unlikely that any new Amazons or Apples would be started, and existing firms would be placed in ever less capable hands, with ever lower valuations as the wealth tax works its way down the line from billionaires to millionaires.

Sanders would either have to tax a vastly diminished pie or ask foreign investors to buy up US firms or, more likely, just confiscate shares directly and nationalize the companies. After a very short time, these companies would end up being majority-owned by the state – a veritable “trillionaire.”

Who’s Best Suited to Run a Business?

But perhaps you agree with Sanders that billionaires should not even exist, so it is still worth it anyway, regardless of how much tax is raised. The key question is, would the state do a better job running those companies than the entrepreneurs who started them or the investors who may have voluntarily bought them?

This is an important question, since these companies were started to provide goods and services to the masses, so it is the poor and middle class who will suffer if they do not operate efficiently. But now, instead of being run by competent, productive, future-oriented billionaires, these companies would be managed by an incompetent, non-productive, ultra-short-term-oriented trillionaire institution.

A billionaire businessperson could, if they wanted to, spend their fortune building statues of themselves. But that would only be a drain on the wealth they had acquired through previous rounds of serving customers. They would quickly find that it does not generate new income, and would promptly stop, choosing instead to invest in ways that expand the business by serving even more people. There is an effective feedback loop to weed out unproductive choices and reward productive ones.

But the state, for its entire existence, has had the privilege of being able to just confiscate any resources it wants and order them to be used in any way its rulers direct. It can choose to build statues, pyramids, or whatever it wants, whether or not it serves real consumer needs. Neither does it have to worry about competition from new entrants doing a better job; it can just ban them. Since nobody gets to choose whether to commit the resources or buy the finished goods, there is no way of knowing whether those resources were spent wisely or poorly.

This does not mean people in government don’t make any good decisions. They will stumble upon some good ones over time. But the people involved do not bear any direct consequences for their bad decisions, and neither are they directly rewarded for their good decisions. They have less effective mechanisms for weeding out the bad decisions and doubling down on the good ones. There is more incentive for managers and employees to make their own job more comfortable and less demanding, and there is less consequence for leaving customers twisting in the wind.

In short, a wealth tax means state-owned enterprises, and a state-owned enterprise can get away with being unresponsive, self-absorbed and lazy.

If you dislike productive billionaires, you ought to be 1,000 times more suspect of confiscatory trillionaires.

October 6, 2019. Tags: , , , , , . Bernie Sanders, Communism, Economics. Leave a comment.

R.I.P. Ginger Baker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Gze0PxDKgQ

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iF-pMingp6A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUxYzfLZkpc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=794WnKLQ2Yc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DES2KOq5SoE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYYeM_t6b5c

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCc00pX_pFA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbx2Os3wPTg

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/06/arts/music/ginger-baker-dead.html

Ginger Baker, Superstar Rock Drummer With Cream, Is Dead at 80

October 6, 2019

Ginger Baker, who helped redefine the role of the drums in rock and became a superstar in the process, died on Sunday in a hospital in southeastern England. He was 80.

His family confirmed his death in a post on his official Twitter account.

Mr. Baker drew worldwide attention for his approach to the drums, as sophisticated as it was forceful, when he teamed with the guitarist Eric Clapton and the bassist Jack Bruce in the hugely successful British band Cream in 1966.

Keith Moon of the Who was more uninhibited; John Bonham of Led Zeppelin — a band formed in 1968, the year Cream broke up — was slicker. But Mr. Baker brought a new level of artistry to his instrument, and he was the first rock drummer to be prominently featured as a soloist and to become a star in his own right. Mr. Clapton praised him as “a fully formed musician” whose “musical capabilities are the full spectrum.”

Both as a member of the ensemble and as a soloist, Mr. Baker captivated audiences and earned the respect of his fellow percussionists with playing that was, as Neil Peart, the drummer with the band Rush, once said, “extrovert, primal and inventive.” Mr. Baker, Mr. Peart added, “set the bar for what rock drumming could be.”

But Mr. Baker, who got his start in jazz combos and cited the likes of Max Roach and Elvin Jones as influences, bristled when the word “rock” was applied to his playing. “I’m a jazz drummer,” he told the British newspaper The Telegraph in 2013. “You have to swing. There are hardly any rock drummers I know who can do that.”

Mr. Baker’s appearance behind the drum kit — flaming red hair, flailing arms, eyes bulging with enthusiasm or shut tight in concentration — made an indelible impression. So, unfortunately, did his well-publicized drug problems and his volatile personality.

Mr. Baker, who by his own count quit heroin 29 times, was candid about his drug and alcohol abuse in his autobiography, “Hellraiser,” published in Britain in 2009.

He recalled driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco while on tour with the band Blind Faith in 1969 and being more amused than surprised when he heard a report on the radio that he had died from a heroin overdose.

Of a later tour, he wrote, “In 1983-84, I formed the Ginger Baker Trio with guitarist John Simms and bassist Ian Macdonald and we did a tour that included Malta, Spain and Germany; but I can’t remember anything about it due to the fact that I was drinking so heavily.”

He was also, by all accounts, not a very likable man. Journalists who interviewed him tended to find him uncooperative at best, confrontational at worst. The hostility between Mr. Baker and Mr. Bruce, which sometimes led to onstage altercations, was the stuff of rock legend. The 2012 documentary “Beware of Mr. Baker” — the title is taken from a sign outside the house in South Africa where he was living at the time — begins with footage of Mr. Baker physically attacking the film’s director, Jay Bulger.

“If they’ve got a problem with me, come and see me and punch me on the nose,”Mr. Baker says in that film. “I ain’t going to sue you; I’m going to hit you back.”

But if he was difficult to deal with, his talent was impossible to ignore. As A. O. Scott of The New York Times noted in his review of “Beware of Mr. Baker,” Mr. Baker’s music was ultimately “the only reason anyone should take an interest in him.”

Peter Edward Baker — he became known as Ginger during childhood because of his red hair — was born on Aug. 19, 1939, in the Lewisham area of southeast London, to Frederick and Ruby (Bayldon) Baker. His father, a bricklayer, was killed in action during World War II.

Drawn to the drums at an early age, Mr. Baker talked his way into a job with a traditional-jazz combo when he was 16 despite his lack of professional experience. Before long, he was well established on the London jazz scene. He also had a heroin habit that would dog him for decades.

In 1962 Mr. Baker joined Blues Incorporated, one of the earliest British rhythm-and-blues bands, beginning his contentious but musically rewarding association with Mr. Bruce. When the organist and saxophonist Graham Bond left that band in 1964 to form his own group, the Graham Bond Organisation, Mr. Baker and Mr. Bruce went with him.

Two years later they teamed with Mr. Clapton, whose work with the Yardbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers had made him one of Britain’s most celebrated guitarists, to form Cream.

Performing a repertoire that mixed original compositions with radical reinterpretations of old blues songs, Cream was an instant sensation. Within two years, the band went from nightclubs to stadiums and released four albums, whose total sales were estimated at 35 million. But in 1968, at the height of its success, Cream disbanded.

One reason for the breakup was the continuing animosity between Mr. Baker and Mr. Bruce. Another, Mr. Baker later said, was the extreme volume at which Mr. Clapton and Mr. Bruce played.

“For the first 18 months it was great,” he said in 2013. “But things got too bloody big and too bloody loud. They kept piling these huge Marshall speakers one on top of another. That’s why my hearing’s wrecked.”

Mr. Baker’s next band was, on paper, even bigger than Cream: Blind Faith, in which he and Mr. Clapton joined forces with the singer, keyboardist and guitarist Steve Winwood, known for his work with the Spencer Davis Group and Traffic. (The less famous Ric Grech was the bassist.) Hopes were high, but Blind Faith imploded after one album and one tour, the victim of excessive hype and conflicting egos.

Following the similarly brief life of his next band, Ginger Baker’s Air Force, a jazz-rock outfit with a saxophone section, Mr. Baker led a peripatetic life and stayed largely out of the spotlight.

He spent much of the 1970s in Lagos, Nigeria, where he built a recording studio and became immersed in African music, performing and recording with the singer, songwriter and political activist Fela Kuti. He also developed a love for polo that over the years would prove almost as costly as his drug habit: He drove himself into debt more than once buying and importing polo ponies.

In the ensuing decades he was in and out of various bands, ranging from the hard-rock group Masters of Reality to a jazz trio in which his high-profile sidemen were the guitarist Bill Frisell and the bassist Charlie Haden. He was also in and out of financial trouble and moved frequently, living in England, Italy, Los Angeles and South Africa, where he settled in 1999 and stayed until returning to England in 2012.

Mr. Baker and the other members of Cream were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. The band reunited for concerts in London and New York in 2005 and received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2006.

Whatever hope there might have been for another reunion ended when Jack Bruce died in 2014.

Mr. Baker was married four times. He is survived by his wife, Kudzai Baker, a nurse from Zimbabwe with whom he lived in Kent, England, and three children: Nettie Baker, who has written several books about her relationship with him; Leda Baker, a business analyst; and Kofi Baker, a drummer. All were born in the 1960s during Mr. Baker’s first marriage, to the artist Liz Finch.

In 2013, although he had serious health problems, Mr. Baker toured and recorded with a quartet whimsically named the Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion. Interviewed that year on the BBC television program “Newsnight,” he claimed to have “lost everything six or seven times in my life” and suggested that the motivation for his return to music was more financial than artistic.

“I thought I’d retired,” he said. “Managed to sort of outlive my pension, as it were, so I had to go back to work.”

Asked in that same interview how he would like to be remembered, he paused for a moment and then gave a one-word answer:

“Drummer.”

October 6, 2019. Tags: , , . Music. Leave a comment.

Netherlands Liberal MP Tjeerd de Groot calls for livestock production to be reduced by half

Last year, I published this blog post, which is called, “Here’s how most Venezuelans lost an average of 43 pounds in two years.”

Here’s a photograph from 2014 of people in Venezuela waiting in line for food: (posted here under fair use from http://www.businessinsider.com/long-food-lines-are-in-venezuela-2014-2 )

It looks like the Netherlands might be trying to achieve a similar effect.

The BBC just reported:

Liberal MP Tjeerd de Groot called for livestock production to be halved, meaning six million fewer pigs and 50 million fewer chickens

Meanwhile, I’d like to once again remind everyone that Bernie Sanders actually said that it was a “good thing” when people have to wait in line for food.

These are Sanders’s exact words:

“It’s funny, sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is, cause people are lining up for food. That’s a good thing! In other countries people don’t line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.”

You can see and hear Sanders saying those words in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJBjjP8WSbc

Depending on how things go next year, Bernie Sanders may be the next U.S. President.

October 2, 2019. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Bernie Sanders, Environmentalism. Leave a comment.