Beating The Heat Is Out Of Reach
August 10, 2021
The Good News
- Average pay for grocery store and restaurant workers is now over $15 an hour (WaPo)
- Julie Bowen of ‘Modern Family’ helped rescue a hiker who fainted in a Utah national park (CNN)
“Home is a notion that only nations of the homeless fully appreciate and only the uprooted comprehend.” — Wallace Stegner
When people make a big mistake in life, it shouldn’t be a surprise when it comes back to haunt them. Committing a felony and going to prison means having a criminal record that will place big stumbling blocks on the road to the future. Unintended mistakes can cause grief — late credit card or car payments become blemishes on credit reports that can result in higher interest rates and the inability to qualify for a loan. Even completely innocent victims suffer mightily should their identities be stolen.
Regardless of whether a person ultimately pays a debt, or is exonerated from duty or a false allegation, the fact that the accusation was made can completely disrupt the ability to get on with life. For low-wage or unemployed renters, the struggle is especially difficult. Attorneys who handle eviction cases say they’re a stubborn blot on any renter’s history and nearly impossible to scrub away, even if the tenant made good on the obligation, or it was only a scare tactic by an aggressive landlord.
Housing advocates point out that landlords have used eviction actions as a cudgel in a variety of ways, even if they didn’t ultimately intend to remove the tenant. But now the pandemic has given the problem new urgency. Some landlords filed eviction actions during the federal moratorium as a means of prodding tenants to apply for rental assistance or other government financial relief. However, just filing an eviction case can stigmatize a rental applicant as a risk — something tenant advocates say is like making them wear a Scarlet E. The Biden administration announced a new moratorium for much of the country through October 3, but an estimated 11 million renters are still behind on their payments and could face eventual eviction.
Nearly nine out of ten landlords use tenant screening companies that generate automated background checks. The reports can contain multiple errors; nevertheless, an eviction showing up on a renter’s record, correct or not, likely means denial of the application. Some states and cities have stepped up to make it easier for tenants with evictions to seal their records. A new Illinois law automatically seals most eviction cases filed since the start of the pandemic, and tenants who prevailed in older court cases are permitted to wipe them from court records.
Similar laws have been passed in Nevada, Washington D.C., and New Jersey. North Carolina is considering such legislation, but most states aren’t. And at least one state, Nebraska, has rejected a proposal to ease sealing eviction cases. Landlord groups and tenant screening companies are critical of some of the new eviction privacy laws because they complicate the ability of property owners to properly review potential tenants. One official with the Consumer Data Industry Association says the new laws make it difficult to “distinguish nonpayment evictions from criminal activity and other lease violation evictions.” (NYT)
Lockdowns In Manila
- The more aggressive Delta variant of COVID-19 has led to record case numbers in countries across Southeast Asia. Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam have reported record cases in recent weeks. The variant was detected in the Philippines in mid-July and has spread to 13 of 17 regions.
- On Friday, the national capital region of Manila, with a population of almost 14 million, was placed under strict lockdown until August 20 in an attempt to slow the spread. Only authorized people, including those buying food, traveling for medical reasons, or frontline workers are allowed to go outside.
- The day before the lockdown went into effect, thousands rushed to vaccination centers and waited for hours hoping to get a shot. Rumors had spread that unvaccinated people wouldn’t be allowed to claim government aid or go outside. On Sunday, the Philippines reported a sharp rise in daily deaths of 287 and confirmed 9,671 new infections. The country has reported over 29,100 deaths since the start of the pandemic. (Guardian)
Beating The Heat Is Out Of Reach
- The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a shocker of a report Monday summarizing the latest authoritative scientific information about global warming. 234 scientists contributed to the 3,000-plus-page report, which says in no uncertain terms that almost all of the warming that has occurred since pre-industrial times was caused by the release of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide and methane. And almost all of that is the result of humans burning fossil fuels — coal, oil, wood, and natural gas.
- Global temperatures have already risen by 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) since the 19th century, the highest in over 100,000 years. Further warming is already “locked in,” meaning even if emissions are drastically cut, some changes will be “irreversible” for centuries.
- Ice melt and sea-level rise are already accelerating, and wild weather events like heatwaves and storms are expected to worsen and become more frequent. Earth is warming so fast that by the 2030s, temperatures will probably exceed the Paris climate accord’s ideal goal of no more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and 1.5 degrees Celsius by the year 2100. The report called it a “code red for humanity.” (IPCC, AP News)
Additional World News
- Australia expands COVID lockdown over concern virus has spread from Sydney (Reuters)
- Greece wildfires: Evia island residents forced to evacuate (BBC)
- Mali conflict: at least 51 people killed in attack by suspected jihadists (Guardian)
- Suspect in Fire at French Cathedral Is Arrested in Killing of a Priest (NYT, $)
- Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: ‘Belarusians weren’t ready for this level of cruelty’ (Guardian)
- S.Korea apologises as Moderna halves August COVID-19 vaccine shipments (Reuters)
Setting Sail Safely
- U.S. District Judge Kathleen Williams in Miami has granted Norwegian Cruise Line’s motion for a temporary injunction against a Florida state law that fines businesses $5,000 per violation for asking customers to prove that they’ve been inoculated against coronavirus. Williams said Norwegian would likely succeed in a court trial with its argument that the state’s so-called vaccine passport ban, championed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, risks public health and infringes on the cruise line’s First Amendment rights.
- Norwegian is now free to require that passengers show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination before boarding any of its ships in Florida. The cruise line said it implements a 100% vaccination level rule for guests and crew members in each port it sails out of around the world. A spokesperson said the company is relying on “robust science-backed health and safety protocols” in which vaccines are the “cornerstone” to provide what Norwegian believes is the safest experience for travelers. Confirmed coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Florida are at an all-time high, but DeSantis continues fighting against additional health measures like mask-wearing. (NPR)
Cuomo Aide Resigns
- Embattled New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, resigned late Sunday, less than a week after the release of a report from the state attorney general that found Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women. Although DeRosa said in a statement it had been “the greatest honor” of her life to have served the people of New York for the last decade, she also admitted the last two years had been “emotionally and mentally trying.”
- DeRosa came under scrutiny in February for her role in the administration’s underreporting of Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes last year. The attorney general’s report detailed DeRosa’s role in seeking to discredit one of Cuomo’s accusers, Lindsey Boylan, by leaking personnel records and taking part in an effort to write and release a letter questioning Boylan’s character. President Biden and top congressional Democrats have urged Cuomo to resign rather than face impeachment. The governor denies the allegations and continues to remain in office despite shrinking political support. (CNN)
Additional USA News
- Covid-19 variants that evade protection could emerge in the US if more people don’t get vaccinated, Fauci says (CNN)
- Durbin cites Trump’s direct, personal involvement with DOJ (Politico)
- 91-year-old Lassen Park fire lookout destroyed in Dixie Fire (SF Gate)
- America is relying on other countries for data on the Delta variant (Axios)
- FDA approval of the Covid-19 vaccine could mean more people will get vaccinated for an unexpected reason (CNN)
- Austin, Texas, activates emergency alert system in response to COVID surge (CBS)
You Herd It Here First
Everyone loves a vacation, but eventually, it’s time to go home. And so, after an extended adventure traveling across southwest China, raiding farms and bodegas for food, traipsing through crowded urban neighborhoods, taking their time crossing busy thoroughfares, and pausing for nap times in nearby woods, a herd of wandering elephants may finally be heading back home to the Xishuangbanna National Nature Reserve in southwest Yunnan, at the border with Myanmar and Laos.
The 14 Asian elephants of various sizes and ages first came to the attention of outsiders in March 2020, when they left the reserve for unknown reasons and roamed more than 300 miles north. A calf was born in November, and two elephants split off from the rest in April 2021.
As news of their migration spread across China and went viral on social media, the massive animals — which on average stand 11 feet tall and weigh 11,000 lbs — captured the imagination and hearts of millions. Many more were fascinated than complained about the destruction left in the elephants’ wake.
One man hired to deliver corn and pineapples to the wanderers said what he saw was amazing. “I saw them picking apart the corn with their trunks,” he told NBC News over WeChat. “They are just so much more lively than those I saw in the zoo. It almost felt as if they had a holy aura around them.”
But wildlife experts bring us back to reality when they warn that this rare journey could be the result of the inevitable and damaging consequences of global warming, deforestation, and human encroachment, all responsible for the elephants’ disappearing natural habitat. (NBC News)
- Thunberg calls out climate impact of fashion brands in Vogue interview (BBC)
- The ‘fearsome dragon’ that terrorized Australia’s skies (CNET)
- Watch Out, Beyond Burgers—the Fungi Renaissance Is Here (Wired)
- Real estate tycoon Robert Durst, accused of killing his close friend, takes the stand (CNN)
- Tiny ‘Olympic bat’ killed by cat at end of record breaking journey (Independent)
- 1st Carnivorous Plant Identified In 20 Years Grows Near Vancouver (NPR)
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