The Truth About Baltimore, More Earthquakes, When, Exactly, Humans Started to Rule the Planet

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The Truth About Baltimore

The real victim in Baltimore is not Freddie Gray, a repeat loser who eventually died as he had lived, being arrested by the police. The real victims are not the thugs smashing and looting stores. It isn’t the young black men disproportionately stopped by the racist majority black police force in Baltimore under a racist black police commissioner for doing nothing wrong except the usual drug and weapons charges.

It’s not even the “majority of law-abiding Baltimore families” referenced by politicians.

85% of Baltimore voters came out for Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who gave the muggers and looters “space to destroy”, and then apologized for calling them thugs, defending them instead as “misguided young people” who “need support”.

Rawlings-Blake was a former City Council speaker who got a promotion when Sheila Dixon, the first black female mayor of Baltimore, was convicted of stealing gift cards intended for the poor. During her time in the City Council, Dixon had become notorious for waving her shoe at white colleagues and shouting, “You’ve been running things for the last 20 years. Now the shoe is on the other foot!”

It was indeed. At least some of the stolen gift cards were used to buy clothes. And the shoe is still on the other foot. Just ask the criminals who smashed and grabbed while the police did nothing.

Dixon had won 87% of the vote. And she wants to get back into politics. After the riots, she popped up to complain that white people were going about with business as usual while black anger grew.

“We have some major inequities in the city,” she said. “We have to put more focus in those areas.”

There are probably no inequities in Baltimore that can’t be solved by giving Dixon some more gift cards intended for the poor.

What is the difference between Sheila Dixon stealing gift cards to buy an Xbox and thugs smashing up stores to grab saxophones, candy and liquor? Baltimore’s former mayor had climbed high enough to be able to steal without breaking the glass.

While Dixon and Rawlings-Blake didn’t do much for the inner city youth whose plight we never stop hearing about, they did dismantle the tougher policing put in place by Martin O’Malley. Now Baltimore has become one of the few cities whose murder rate keeps rising.

Today it has the fifth highest murder rate in the country. And since Dixon and Rawlings-Blake, the city also has 20,000 fewer people. Baltimore has been bleeding population almost as badly as Detroit. The city has gone from having 900,000 residents in the 70s to the low 600,000s today.

Dixon and Rawlings-Blake made Baltimore a haven for criminals. They switched out crimefighting for community policing. Now we have to listen to sanctimonious speeches about how we need to make Baltimore even more criminal friendly as if the city were a police state, instead of a thug playground whose mayor calls muggers and looters “misguided young people” and gives them space to destroy.

Baltimore does not have a policing crisis. It has a crisis of criminals. And those criminals aren’t just the ones who smash stores. They also run the city.

Read it all HERE.

Human Activity Is Causing Significantly More Earthquakes

Small and even moderate-scale earthquakes are on the rise in North America, and not at a modest pace. The US Geological Survey (USGS) and other government agencies are scrambling to evaluate this sudden new reality, and with good reason: a few small earthquakes might not be much to worry about, but a future full of more frequent seismic activity could have disastrous effects.

Between 1973 and 2008, the USGS reported that the central and eastern United States experience an average of 21 earthquakes each year of magnitude three or greater (M3+). From 2009 to 2013, the M3+ average for the same area was 99 per year—and in 2014 alone, there have been over 650.

The past several years of USGS research have proven that this increase is not a natural anomaly; rather, the increase is largely attributed to “induced” earthquakes, or ground tremors caused by human activity.

And although activity of this magnitude is usually too small to be detected without specialized equipment, “the more earthquakes you have, the more likely you are to have bigger earthquakes,” USGS seismologist Justin Rubinstein told Motherboard. “No matter the method you use to assess the hazard, the hazard in many of these areas where we’re seeing induced earthquakes has dramatically increased.”

Human activities that add or remove a large amount of pressure to the geography of an area can cause that area to shift—sometimes resulting in surface tremors, or induced earthquakes. These activities include the construction of artificial lakes and the drilling of boreholes for geothermal energy, and the subterranean injection of wastewater by oil and gas industry plants.

The largest induced earthquake on record in America was an M5.6 earthquake that hit Prague, Oklahoma in 2011. This was the largest earthquake of any kind in Oklahoma’s history, and it was likely triggered by a cascade of smaller earthquakes arising from wastewater injection. The Prague quake, and a number of others like it, have dispelled the idea that small induced earthquakes can’t cause damage to human life and infrastructure.

The biggest issue is the model that played out in Prague, where it’s believed that small induced earthquakes released a larger, pre-existing seismic tension. This induced-natural earthquake mechanism has also been theorized to be behind a massive M8.0 earthquake in China’s Sichuan province in 2008, which killed almost 70,000 peopleand created a major humanitarian crisis.

More to read HERE.


Scientists Are Arguing About When, Exactly, Humans Started to Rule the Planet

A new study argues it happened all the way back when we invented farming.

Signs of human impact on the planet are everywhere. Sea levels are rising as ice at both poles melts; plastic waste clogs the ocean; urban sprawl paves over landscapes while industrial agricultural empties aquifers. Between climate change, urban development, and straight-up, old-school pollution, the Earth we inhabit now would be scarcely recognizable to our earliest ancestors 150,000 year ago.

In fact, these changes are so pronounced, and their connection to human activity so obvious, that many scientists now believe we’ve already ventured well past a remarkable tipping point—Homo sapiens, they argue, have now surpassed nature as the dominant force shaping the Earth’s landscapes, atmosphere, and other living things. Units of deep geologic time often are defined by their dominant species: 400 million years ago fish owned the Devonian Period; 265 million years ago dinosaurs ruled the Mesozoic Era. Today, humans dominate the Anthropocene.

If defining what the Anthropocene represents is straight-forward, assigning it a commencement date has proved a monumental challenge. The term was first proposed by Russian geologist Aleksei Pavlov in 1922, and since then it has occupied off-and-on the attentions of the niche group of scientists whose job it is to decide how to slice our planet’s 4.5 billion-year history into manageable chunks. But in 2009, as climate change increasingly gained traction as a matter of public interest, the idea of actually making a formal designation started to appear in talks and papers. Today, if the scientific literature is any indication, the debate is fully ignited.

In fact, “it has been open season on the Anthropocene,” said Jan Zalasiewicz, a University of Leicester paleogeologist who is a leading voice in the debate. Within the last month a heap of new papers have come out with competing views on whether the Anthropocene is worthy of a formal designation, and if so, when exactly it began. The latest was published in Science today.

In some cases, geologic time periods are demarcated by a mass extinction or catastrophic natural disaster (the meteor that likely killed off the dinosaurs being the classic example). In other cases it can be the emergence of an important new group of species. But either way, Zalasiewicz explained, it has to be something that is readily identifiable in the global fossil record. That’s what makes the Anthropocene so difficult to nail down. We’re leaving behind plenty of fossils: Not just our bones, but those of animals and plants we’ve relocated across the globe, not to mention the chemicals and gases we leave in the atmosphere and soil, and all of our tools, buildings, and other physical objects.

But it’s hard to say, without the benefit of thousands or millions of years of hindsight, which one key signal in the geologic record marks the point when humans went from just another species to the predominant force on the planet.

In January, Zalasiewicz proposed a specific date: July 16, 1945, when the first nuclear bomb was detonated in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Zalasiewicz readily acknowledges that humans began to have an impact on the planet well before then. But that blast and the thousands that followed it, he argues, left behind a residue of radioactive elements that serve as the “least worst” indicator in the geologic record of global-scale human interference.

Read all of this HERE.


“Many people, myself among them, feel better at the mere sight of a book.” – Jane Smiley


Isis on the run? The US portrayal is very far from the truth

The map issued by the Pentagon to prove that Isis had lost territory shows how false optimism dominates the actions of the outside powers towards the Middle East

A graphic illustration of Western wishful thinking about the decline of Islamic State (IS) is a well-publicised map issued by the Pentagon to prove that the self-declared caliphate has lost 25 per cent of its territory since its big advances last year.

Unfortunately for the Pentagon, sharp-eyed American journalists soon noticed something strange about its map identifying areas of IS strength. While it shows towns and villages where IS fighters have lost control around Baghdad, it simply omits western Syria where they have been advancing in and around Damascus.

The Pentagon displayed some embarrassment about its dodgy map, but it largely succeeded in its purpose of convincing people that IS is in retreat. Many news outlets across the world republished the map as evidence of the success of air strikes by the United States and its allies in support of the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria. The capture of Tikrit after a month-long siege is cited as a further sign that a re-energised Iraqi state is winning and one day in the not too distant future will be able to recapture Mosul in the north and Anbar province in the west.

How much of this comforting news is true? Recall that the loss or retention of territory is not a good measure of a force such as IS using quasi-guerrilla tactics. Good news from the point of view of Baghdad is that its forces finally retook the small city of Tikrit, though its recapture was primarily the work of 20,000 Shia militia and not the Iraqi army, which only had some 3,000 soldiers involved in the battle. It was not a fight to the finish and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said IS only committed a few hundred fighters to holding the city.

More found HERE.

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