Out Of Theft Field
August 31, 2022
Last week, we asked our Daily Pnut readers how they feel about “quiet quitting.” You can check out the results here.
“Maybe this world is another planet’s hell.” – Aldous Huxley
Everything Is Going According To Planet
“Every single number has to be taken with a big grain of salt. There are a lot of big assumptions, but taken together these analyses all show this bill is a big deal and I agree with that,” said Harvard University economist James Stock. He’s talking about President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and specifically the $369 billion portion dedicated to tackling the climate crisis. Independent analyses concluded that despite the concessions to the fossil fuel industry to appease Joe Manchin (D-WVa), by 2030, America should slash its planet-heating emissions by some 40% compared with 2005 levels. The latest analysis shows that “for every ton of emissions generated by IRA oil and gas provisions, at least 28 tons of emissions are avoided by the other provisions.” That will prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths from air pollution and create up to 1.3 million jobs by 2030.
Experts are calling this legislation a game changer that will help propel the U.S. toward the forefront of the clean energy economy and enable it to compete with China on the manufacturing and installation of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and emerging zero carbon technology. The White House predicts the legislation will save the country as much as $1.9 trillion in climate-related costs by 2050, through reduced deaths and property damage caused by extreme heat, floods, drought, and wildfires.
Robbie Orvis is a senior director of analysis at Energy Innovation, the research firm that did the latest analysis. Orvis calls the legislation a “complete jumpstart for renewables” that will “really unleash investment” and make it “very cheap to create clean electricity.” The tax credits alone should help double the capacity of wind and solar by 2030, enabling clean energy electricity to provide between 72% to 85% of total U.S. supply. A separate research group forecasts that $270 billion will be funneled into the sector, leading to hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Naturally, as Stock points out, there are a lot of big assumptions, and “if we go into traditional American project gridlock, that will be a problem.” Bottom line: “We need to make sure these projects are built.” If we do that, Stock believes “we will see decarbonization this decade, which is very exciting.” (Guardian, Energy Innovation)
Pooling The Rug Out From Under Them
- As in other developed countries with a taxing structure tied to a home’s value, tax authorities in France believe a swimming pool likely boosts value. In 2020, there were more than 3.2 million private swimming pools in France, but as more employees worked from home, there was a surge in pool installations.
- Under French law, people who have a pool are supposed to declare it. However, many pools go unreported, so authorities tried an experiment using artificial intelligence (AI). Google and a French consulting firm collaborated to develop software that was used to find thousands of undeclared private swimming pools, adding an additional $10 million in revenue.
- Authorities say the software could eventually be used to find undeclared home extensions, like verandas, patios, or gazebos. “But we have to be sure that the software can find buildings with a large footprint and not the dog kennel or the children’s playhouse,” one official explained. (BBC)
Deadly Floods Stemmed From Climate Change
- Pakistan has suffered weeks of historic rains that left a third of the country inundated. Flash floods have killed over 1,136 people since June, including 386 children, swept away buildings, crops, and bridges, knocked out power supplies, displaced almost a half million people, and caused an estimated $10 billion in damage.
- Experts and local officials have drawn a direct line to human-made climate change, saying it illustrates how countries with the lowest contributions to the global crisis are becoming increasingly vulnerable to its effects, and in dire need of immediate aid. On Tuesday, the United Nations issued a flash appeal for emergency funds, urging the world to give the South Asian nation its attention and help. (NBC)
Additional World News
- Solomon Islands to ban navy ships from ports until new process in place (Reuters)
- Angola’s ruling party extends 47-year streak with election win (CNN)
- Strong earthquake shakes western Indonesia, causes panic (Al Jazeera)
- Authorities begin evacuation of fire-stricken ferry in Baltic Sea (Reuters)
- Russia to launch major military drills with China and others (Al Jazeera)
- Fukushima town in Japan lifts evacuation order 11 years after nuclear disaster (CNN)
- Meloni, former far-right activist, heads for Italian PM’s office (Reuters)
Welcome To The Heat Dome
- A mega heat wave caused by a stubborn area of high pressure sitting over the West Coast and the Southwest region — what meteorologists call a “heat dome” – means dangerously high temperatures will be around through Labor Day. More than 55 million people are currently under heat alerts from Southern California through the San Joaquin Valley and into portions of the Northwest, including 20 of the most populated cities up and down the West Coast.
- “Temperatures could exceed 110F in parts of the Southwest, where an excessive heat warning is currently in effect,” the Weather Prediction Center wrote. Experts warn the kind of heat that will be felt from San Diego to Los Angeles and even to Phoenix will be difficult to endure, even for locals.
- Temperatures of 110-115F are forecast in the deserts and San Fernando Valley, with 90-100F heat along the coast. On Sunday, downtown L.A. could hit 100F, with Death Valley potentially hitting 125F. People are cautioned that they will be at very high risk for heat illness. (CNN)
Out Of Theft Field
- Late last week, officials in the city of Lexington learned that $4 million in federal funding intended for housing assistance in Kentucky was stolen after someone redirected that money to a private bank account. The intended recipient of the funds, the nonprofit Community Action Council, reported not having received the money, which led to the discovery of the theft.
- The FBI says it’s the latest example of a popular fraud scheme known as business email compromise (BEC), which costs Americans much more than any other type of cyber crime. BEC scammers have defrauded everyone from elderly Americans living off pensions to young professionals who are house hunting.
- BEC attacks have historically impersonated employees at a targeted organization. But cybercriminals are increasingly posing as third parties to intercept funds, as they apparently did in the Lexington case. (CNN)
Additional USA News
- Biden’s goal to end hunger by 2030 and his new food conference, explained (NPR)
- Jill Biden tests negative for Covid-19 and will return to Washington on Tuesday (CNN)
- Nebraska death row inmate who killed talkative cellmate dies (ABC)
- Tony Ornato: US Secret Service assistant director leaves agency after aide’s explosive Jan. 6 testimony about him (CNN)
- Lawyers awarded $70M+ fees in deadly Florida condo collapse (ABC)
- US assesses Russia now in possession of Iranian drones, sources say (CNN)
- Mississippi’s Capital Loses Water as a Troubled System Faces a Fresh Crisis (NYT, $)
Boulevard Of Broken Creams
- Whip-its are small cartridges of N2O – nitrous oxide (laughing gas) – used as a recreational inhalant drug. Two devices are most commonly used to inhale N2O: a cracker that allows the gas to fill a balloon, or an empty whipped cream dispenser used to inhale the gas directly or to fill a balloon to avoid direct contact with the freezing cold gas. Whip-its are often used by festival goers and teens looking for a 30-second high – and apparently a lot of 8th graders in New York. Democratic state Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., who represents a wide swath of Central Queens, first learned that whip-its were being done in his district in 2019 after receiving several calls from concerned residents. That April, he sponsored legislation to make the purchase of whip-its by minors in New York illegal.
- The obscure law banning sales of cartridges used in cans of whipped cream to anyone under 21 took effect quietly in November 2021. So it was a pretty big surprise this month when a photo of a sign on an Albany convenience store’s refrigerator door began circulating online. The sign read “effective 8/12/22 we will be IDing for whipped cream! Must be 21 years old!” Gray-haired adults may find it quite funny when getting carded for buying whipped cream at the supermarket, but the president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores isn’t laughing. “Requiring age verification when purchasing whipped cream is another classic compliance burden placed on convenience stores in New York State,” he said in a statement. “We hear constantly how important small businesses are to New York politicians but quite frankly laws like this prove otherwise.”
- Addabbo may have meant well by trying to decrease the use of whip-its among youth with his legislation. But what’s he going to do about all the other ways kids can get them? Like in person at bodegas and head shops in all five boroughs, or online through third-party delivery services like Postmates, Grubhub, and Uber Eats. Amazon sells a pack of 24 for $20 that can be delivered in a few hours. And for first-timers, there’s even a site titled “Tips for Learning How to Use Cream Chargers to Get High” that takes them through the process step by step. (Patch, NBC News, Great Whips)
- Turkish pop star jailed over joke released to house arrest (ABC)
- Guy Stumbles Upon Remains of Massive Dinosaur in His Backyard (CNET)
- Tomatoes Spill Onto Interstate, Causing Crashes, Quips and Confusion (NYT, $)
- Tea drinkers enjoy possible health benefits, study suggests (AP)
- Prominent Evangelical Pastor Tearfully Steps Aside After ‘Unwise’ Relationship (NYT, $)
- Production on show starring Natalie Portman and Lupita Nyong’o halted after threats of violence, police say (CBS)
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