Can You Stand The Rain (And Fires, And Floods, And Winds)?
August 31, 2021
The Good News
- A bust of Marsha P. Johnson went up near the Stonewall Inn as a tribute to the transgender activist (CNN)
- Federal judge in Arizona throws out one of Trump’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which affects wetlands (WaPo, $)
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” — Albert Einstein
Not In The Nu-clear
Laser focus attention has been on Afghanistan of late. Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, has other disturbing news. According to a report released Friday, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un appears to have restarted North Korea’s banned nuclear program.
The 5-megawatt (MW) nuclear reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex is widely thought to have produced weapons-grade plutonium for atomic weapons. Signs of operation had not been spotted since late 2018. The IAEA report says, “[North Korea’s] nuclear activities continue to be a cause for serious concern. Since early July 2021, there have been indications, including the discharge of cooling water, consistent with the operation. The new indications of the operation … are deeply troubling.”
North Korea calls the Yongbyon nuclear complex “the heart” of its nuclear program. The facility, some 60 miles north of Pyongyang, has been the focus of international concerns for decades. The reactor is the only known source of plutonium for North Korea’s weapons program, but it’s not known exactly how much weapons-grade plutonium or highly enriched uranium has been produced and stored at the complex. The IAEA has had no access since its inspectors were expelled in 2009, after which the country continued its nuclear weapons program and resumed nuclear testing until its last test in 2017. What is known is that Kim already has a significant stockpile of nuclear weapons, suggesting this new activity is a move to expand the current arsenal.
Former President Trump famously met with the North Korean dictator at a 2019 summit in Vietnam. At that time, Kim offered to dismantle Yongbyon in exchange for relief from a range of international sanctions over nuclear weapons and a ballistic missile program. Trump said he rejected the deal because Yongbyon was only one part of the North’s nuclear program, and not enough of a concession to warrant loosening so many sanctions. Earlier this year, President Biden’s administration reached out to Kim’s government to offer talks, but Pyongyang said it has no interest in negotiating without a change in U.S. policy.
A Biden administration official said of the IAEA announcement: “This report underscores the urgent need for dialogue and diplomacy so we can achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” But it’s clear Pyongyang is looking for more to dismantle its nuclear program than Washington is currently offering. “The weapons are what gives North Korea leverage. If you have 30 instead of 20 then this gives them more bargaining chips when eventually negotiations take place again,” said one North Korea analyst. “And if they don’t, then the weapons suit North Korean security for the better. It’s a reflection of the stalemate in negotiations over the last six months.” (Al Jazeera)
- General Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, appeared via satellite from the Pentagon on Monday. “I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third country nationals, and vulnerable Afghans.” The final departure was hours ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. McKenzie said since August 14, 1,064 U.S. citizens and 2,017 at-risk Afghans or Special Immigrant Visa applicants had been evacuated.
- In all, more than 6,000 U.S. civilians — “the vast majority of those who wanted to leave at this time” — had gotten out. “There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure,” McKenzie said. “We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out.” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters that as of Monday more than 122,000 people in total had been airlifted out since July. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for launching five rockets at the airport during Monday’s departure, which U.S. anti-missile defenses intercepted.
- Secretary of State Antony Blinken said now that the U.S. had suspended its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, it would conduct its operations out of Qatar. Blinken said Washington will press ahead with its “relentless” efforts to help people leave the country, even after its troops have pulled out. And now that the U.S. military is gone, the FAA said Kabul airport would be without air traffic control services, and U.S. civil aircraft are barred from operating at any altitude over the country unless given prior authorization by the FAA. (CNN, Reuters)
Is The Grass Greener?
- Scientists at the Arctic Station research facility in Greenland set out to collect samples last month at what they thought was the northernmost island off Greenland’s coast. What they found was a new island even farther north; it had been revealed by shifting pack ice. The researchers initially thought they’d arrived at Oodaaq, an island discovered by a Danish survey team in 1978, but later realized it was a different place about one-half mile northwest.
- The tiny island measures roughly .02 miles across, with a peak of about .002 miles. It’s made of seabed mud and moraine — soil and rock left behind by moving glaciers. Scientists said the island’s appearance now was not a direct consequence of global warming, which has been shrinking Greenland’s ice sheet. A battle is looming among Arctic nations, the U.S., Russia, Canada, Denmark, and Norway for control of the fishing rights and shipping routes exposed by melting ice in the North Pole, some 430 miles north of Greenland, and of the surrounding seabed.
- Any hope of extending territorial claims in the Arctic depends on whether the discovery is in fact an island or a bank. A real island must remain above sea level at high tide, as opposed to a mud bank that may disappear. A geodynamics professor, part of the 1978 expedition, said this discovery met all the criteria to be an island. The research team recommended it be named “Qeqertaq Avannarleq,” meaning “the northernmost island” in Greenlandic. (CNN)
Additional World News
- Rockets fired at Kabul airport as U.S. Afghan withdrawal enters final stages (CBS)
- EU to recommend reinstating Covid-related travel restrictions on US, reports say (CNN)
- Two Pakistani soldiers killed by militant fire from Afghanistan (The Hill)
- As Taliban Take Over Afghanistan, India Fears An Increasingly Hostile Region (NPR)
- Qatar emerges as key player in Afghanistan after US pullout (AP)
- Palestinians Finally Have Vaccines. But Will People Take Them? (NYT, $)
- Colombia’s Troubles Put a President’s Legacy on the Line (NYT, $)
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Can You Stand The Rain (And Fires, And Floods, And Winds)?
- California’s Caldor Fire started August 14 in a forest just south of the town of Grizzly Flats, some 52 miles east of Sacramento. To date, the fire has burned almost 200,000 acres and is only 15% contained. It’s now expanded almost 40 miles northeast to the city of South Lake Tahoe.
- All 53,000 people in El Dorado County are under mandatory evacuation, as the relentless Caldor Fire rapidly approaches, obliterating the sky with dense smoke. California can’t get a break from extremely dry conditions — a third of the state is in an exceptional drought.
- Across the country, it’s a different story. Hurricane Ida came ashore on Sunday, pummeling Louisiana, then Alabama and Mississippi with heavy rains and flooding. A week before, Tropical Storm Henri had drenched the northeast. The National Weather Service is tracking at least 3 new disturbances in the Atlantic, including Tropical Storm Kate that formed Monday. Climate change means altered and exaggerated weather patterns, to our collective detriment. (CapRadio, CNN, AP, NOLA)
Making A Call
- The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol Building requested that several telecommunications companies preserve the phone records of a group of GOP members of Congress, as well as those of former President Trump and members of the Trump family, who played some role in the “Stop the Steal” rally that served as the prelude to the deadly riot.
- The list is evolving and could be expanded as the investigation moves forward. As of now, it includes Republican Representatives Lauren Boebert (CO), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Jim Jordan (OH), Andy Biggs (AZ), Paul Gosar (AZ), Mo Brooks (AL), Madison Cawthorn (NC), Matt Gaetz (FL), Louie Gohmert (TX), Jody Hice (GA), and Scott Perry (PA).
- This latest request is part of a larger preservation request to 35 social media and telecommunication companies including Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Sprint. The committee also made separate preservation requests to search engine and social media companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, Signal, Slack, YouTube, Twitch, and Twitter. (CNN)
Additional USA News
- Republicans hit Biden over Afghanistan, with eye on midterms (The Hill)
- Education Department investigating 5 states for potential civil rights violations for prohibiting school mask mandates (CNN)
- US judge revokes mother’s right to visit son over her refusal to get Covid vaccine (Guardian)
- Man convicted of murdering Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts sentenced to life in prison (NBC)
- Dems won’t blink in debt showdown as painful September looms (Politico)
- 100,000 more people could die by December, Fauci says. But it is still possible to turn it around (CNN)
- College student who toted ‘members only’ sign in Capitol pleads guilty (CNN)
Take It Personally
Where were you when you took your first Myers-Briggs personality test? You know, to find out if you were extroverted or introverted, thinking or feeling, sensing or intuitive, judging or perceiving.
Katherine Cook Briggs didn’t know anything about Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theories of personality in 1917. She just wondered why her future son-in-law showed marked differences between his personality and that of other family members. She started on a project of reading biographies, and subsequently developed a typology wherein she proposed four temperaments: meditative (or thoughtful), spontaneous, executive, and social.
When Jung’s book, Psychological Types, was published in English in 1923, Briggs realized his theories were similar to her own, but much more in depth. Briggs extensively studied Jung’s work. Soon, her daughter, now married, joined her mother’s typological research. They extended their interest in human behavior into efforts to turn the theory of psychological types to practical use. Building on her mother’s initial research and interpretations of Jung’s work, Isabel began designing a prototype of the indicator in the early 1940s. Thus, the foundation was laid for what’s become the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
The different permutations create 16 types of personality, each with innate strengths and “blind spots.” The theory is that by understanding which one we are, we might apply ourselves more effectively in our personal and professional lives.
Some have dismissed the MBTI as mere “astrology for businessmen.” But the business of “typing” people generates the Myers-Briggs Company a reported $20 million annually from public and private institutions, militaries, universities, charities, and sports teams, not to mention 88 of the Fortune 100 companies. About 50 million people have taken the MBTI since the 1960s; 2 million continue to do so every year.
While many swear by it, there’s also a great deal of criticism of the MBTI out there, and people would probably be well-advised not to get too caught up in what four letters present after taking the test. Imagine how you would feel if, as a man, your type is an ISTJ or ISFP. Or as a woman, your type is an ESTP? Because according to one self-described expert, these are the types usually belonging to serial killers. (Guardian, Quora)
- The $150 Million Machine Keeping Moore’s Law Alive (Wired)
- Isolated By Pandemic, Violinist Jennifer Koh Nurtured A New Community Online (NPR)
- Synthetic Biology Enables Microbes To Build Muscle Fibers That Are Tougher Than Kevlar (SciTechDaily)
- Mars’ scenic sands star in Chinese rover’s sweeping red planet panorama (CNET)
- SpaceX sees launch risk from low oxygen supply amid pandemic (LAT)
- ‘Candyman’: Nia DaCosta Becomes First Black Female Filmmaker To Open Pic To No. 1 At Domestic B.O. (Deadline)
- Zoom dysmorphia is following us into the real world (Wired)
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