- President Donald Trump visited California on Monday to meet with Governor Gavin Newsom and other state leaders dealing with the raging wildfires.
- Many scientists believe climate change has significantly exacerbated the severity of the fires. However, Trump said that “it will get cooler” and that he doesn’t “think science knows, actually” about climate change.
- His comment was met with backlash from those upset he could deny climate change as millions of Americans are currently living through its effects.
- Climate change has also now become a focal point of the election. Biden condemned Trump’s denial and claimed that another four years of him in office would make the situation even worse.
Trump Visits California
As the state of California deals with raging wildfires, many scientists believe that climate change has exacerbated their severity. While visiting the state on Monday, President Donald Trump said that he doesn’t “think science knows, actually” and insisted that the weather will just get cooler.
Trump met with California Governor Gavin Newsom and other leaders in the state to discuss the fires, which have decimated millions of acres of land on the west coast. The fires are worst in California, Oregon, and Washington, where 35 people have died, hundreds of thousands have had to evacuate, and thousands of structures have been destroyed. Air quality is also unhealthy or hazardous in most areas of those states.
Trump has frequently blamed California’s fires on leaders in the state and forest mismanagement. While state officials do agree that forest mismanagement does play a role, they also believe that climate change has significantly impacted the scale of the fires, as temperatures in the state are climbing and the fires are getting bigger. Trump has pushed this argument aside.
While Newsom began some of his remarks by saying “there’s no question” that forest management has not been handled well, specifically noting that 57% of the state’s forest land is actually federally owned, he also asked the president to understand that he and others believe climate change should also be a top priority.
Meeting With Gov. Newsom
“We come from a perspective, humbly, where we submit the science is in and observed evidence is self evident that climate change is real, and that is exacerbating,” Newsom said. “And so i think there’s an area of at least commonality on vegetation and forest management but please respect, and I know you do, the difference of opinion out here as it relates to this fundamental issue, on the issue of climate change.”
Newsom’s delicate approach to the matter was different from that of California’s secretary for natural resources, Wade Crowfoot, who really pushed for the need to look at climate science.
“If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed together protecting Californians,” Crowfoot said.
“It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch,” Trump pushed back.
“I wish science agreed with you,” Crowfoot responded.
“Well, I don’t think science knows, actually,” Trump said in a moment that went viral online, igniting backlash from those who see climate change as one of the planet’s biggest threats.
Crowfoot himself later tweeted a graph showing the increasing temperatures in his state, telling the president it “won’t get cooler.” Celebrities also responded to the clip, saying his comments were dangerous.
Climate Change’s Impact
Scientists and experts believe that these fires should serve as a massive wake up call when it comes to climate change. Since the fires and smoke have started smothering the west coast, more and more articles have come out explaining the growing and present threat of climate change. Many climate scientists believe that now more than ever, we are able to see its clear effects just by looking out the window.
Scientists have long warned that the world would see hotter temperatures, bigger wildfires, poorer air quality. Now that five of California’s biggest wildfires in recorded history happened within the last three years, many think we have reached that point.
“What we’ve been seeing in California are some of the clearest events where we can say this is climate change — that climate change has clearly made this worse,” Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at the Breakthrough Institute told the Los Angeles Times. “People who have lived in California for 30, 40 years are saying this is unprecedented, it has never been this hot, it has never been this smoky in all the years I’ve lived here.”
Many scientists also believe that some of the damage done by climate change has already become irreversible. They are trying to warn officials that action needs to be taken immediately to mitigate that damage, and to prevent more harmful side effects from becoming permanent.
“We have no more time to twiddle our collective thumbs. The bad news is that the long delay in tackling climate change means that some severe impacts, like the fires we’re seeing now, are no longer avoidable and we must begin the process of adapting to them,” Peter Gleick, a hydroclimatologist, wrote for The Guardian.
“We must, at the same time, accelerate the complete elimination of fossil-fuel combustion to slow the rate of future climate changes and prevent even worse, potentially catastrophic impacts from occurring.”
Biden and 2020 Race
Trump’s remarks, combined with the fact that many Americans are now living in climate change’s effects, have made the issue a main focus in the 2020 presidential election. Trump’s opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, has insisted that climate change is real and something that must be met with swift action.
“Donald Trump’s climate denial may not have caused these fires and record floods and record hurricanes, but if he gets a second term, these hellish events will continue to become more common, more devastating, and more deadly,” Biden said while speaking on Monday. He later referred to Trump as a “climate arsonist.”
Over 170 climate leaders have signed an open letter encouraging Americans to vote for Biden because climate change is such a pressing issue. As more Americans become concerned about the environment, many think it could become a deciding issue in November.
See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Sacramento Bee) (KTLA)
Conservatives are Mad at “Woke” Xbox for Minor Climate-Related Updates
The fury comes after Xbox announced it was slightly altering existing consoles to better utilize and save energy.
Same War, New Battlefield
Mere days after M&M canceled their “spokescandies” due to backlash from the right, led largely by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, conservatives have found a new front for their ongoing culture war: Xbox.
Carlson spent months complaining that small character redesigns were “woke” because they made the animated anthropomorphized M&M’s — in his own words — “less sexy.” His campaign finally proved successful on Monday when the company announced it would be doing away with the spokescandies and replacing them with actress Maya Rudolph.
Conservatives, now facing a sudden dearth of non-issues to complain about, quickly found a new issue to rage against. Xbox announced in a blog post earlier this month that it is making minor updates to lower its environmental impact as part of an effort to reach Microsoft’s goal of being carbon-negative by 2030.
Now, instead of having an Xbox wake up to update games, apps, and software during random times of the night, it will do that at a time of night when a user’s local energy grid is generating the most power it can from renewable sources.
Xbox also said it would automatically update some older consoles to a power-saving mode that aims to reduce electricity consumption when it is turned off — a feature that is already the default on newer consoles.
According to The Verge, the only difference for users is that an Xbox in power-saving mode takes around 15 seconds to boot up instead of doing so immediately as the console does in “sleep” mode. The change is a small price to pay for what the outlet described as “significant” energy savings.
Xbox Under Fire
To many leading conservative voices, the minimal shifts were just another example of “woke” culture.
While discussing M&M’s spokescandies Tuesday morning, “Fox and Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt brought up Xbox’s new changes with Fox radio host Jimmy Failla.
“So Xbox has also announced that they’re going woke too, you know, because of climate change,” Earhardt said.
“I mean, it’s crazy what they’re doing, but we understand what this is. It’s not that it’s actually going to offset emissions, okay — the level of reduction is infinitesimal,” Failla claimed, without evidence. “But they’re trying to recruit your kids into climate politics at an earlier age; make them climate conscious now.”
“Yeah, I didn’t think of that — you’re right, they’re going after the children,” Earhardt agreed, despite the fact that internal data from Microsoft shows just around 10% of Xbox owners are under the age of 18.
Other prominent conservatives also did their part to bait Americans into anger on social media, including America’s Foundation, which posted a tweet stating that “the woke brigade is after video games.”
The post linked an article from the right-wing website TheBlaze, which asserted that “Xbox will force gamers to power down to fight climate change.” That, however, is false — Xbox has said users can switch back and change the settings any time they want
Still, top lawmakers continued to share the article and spread its false claims, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.).
“First gas stoves, then your coffee, now they’re gunning for your Xbox,” he wrote in the post, which was flagged by Twitter and given an “added context” warning.
The same warning, however, was not placed in a very similar post by Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Tx.), who also shared the article.
“They want to take your guns. They want to take your gas stoves. And now they want to take your Xbox. What’s next?” he wrote.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Daily Beast) (VICE)
Washington State Launches Investigation Into Abuse at Private Special Ed. Schools
Allegations include staff kicking a fourth-grader and dragging a child with autism around by his leg.
Washington State’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has launched an investigation into a system of private schools for kids with disabilities after ProPublica and the Seattle Times reported on allegations of abuse.
The series of articles focused on Northwest School of Innovative Learning (NWSOIL). NWSOIL is a set of private schools that serve 500 Washington public school students with serious disabilities. ProPublica and the Seattle Times found years of complaints from parents and school districts against NWSOIL alleging abuse, overuse of isolation rooms, and unqualified aides teaching instead of certified professionals.
One district claimed NWSOIL staff kicked a fourth-grader. Another alleged that a child with autism was dragged around by his thigh.
Many former NWSOIL employees also claim that they were pressured by their parent company to to enroll more students and skimp on basic resources, like staffing.
In a seven-page letter, OSPI reminded NWSOIL of its authority to revoke or suspend a school’s approval, meaning that it could shut NWSOIL down.
“Given the serious nature of the allegations made in the articles, OSPI is examining what, if any, actions need to be taken with respect to Northwest SOIL’s approval to contract with Washington school districts,” Tania May, assistant superintendent for special education at OSPI, wrote in the letter.
OSPI has demanded any records of mistreatment, maltreatment, abuse, or neglect as well as documents pertaining to restraint or isolation of students and calls to the police. They are also seeking information about the student-to-teacher ratio and staff qualifications.
In the letter, OSPI claims that all of this was previously unknown to them as well as to police, Child Protective Services, and local school districts. They are asking NWSOIL for an explanation as to why the allegations were not reported.
NWSOIL defended itself in a public statement.
“Use of restraints and seclusion are always used as a last response when a student is at imminent risk of hurting themselves or others,“ it said. “We strongly deny any allegation that we understaff and/or pressure staff to increase admissions in order to maximize profits.”
Washington state representatives are considering a reform bill that will give them more oversight on the publicly funded system of private special education schools.
In this legislation, OSPI and at least one district that sends students to this program would be required to visit before approving the contract. It would also standardize district agreements with programs like NWSOIL, including financial safeguards to make sure funds are being used appropriately.
See the full series: (ProPublica) (The Seattle Times)
Mass Shootings in Half Moon Bay, Oakland Rock California
Just since Saturday, at least 19 people have been killed and 17 have been injured in mass shootings in California.
California Sees Third Attack in Under a Week
Two California localities experienced separate mass shootings Monday, just days after an attacker killed 11 and injured nine others in a suburb of Los Angeles.
The first of the most recent shootings took place in Half Moon Bay, a small coastal town about 30 miles outside of San Francisco, where a gunman killed seven and critically injured an eighth at two different locations.
According to authorities, police were dispatched to the first location around 2:20 pm and found four people shot to death and a fifth victim also suffering gunshot wounds. Shortly after, three more people were found dead at another site nearby.
About two hours later, police discovered the suspect in his car in the parking lot of a San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office substation with a semiautomatic handgun in the vehicle that officials later confirmed he had purchased legally.
Sheriff Christina Corpus said the man was taken into custody “without incident” and is “fully cooperating.” He has been identified as a 66-year-old Half Moon Bay resident of Asian descent.
Currently, the gunman’s motive is unknown, but the Sheriff told reporters Monday that both of the locations he targeted were nurseries, and it has since been reported that they were mushroom farms.
“All evidence we have points to this being an instance of workplace violence. The Mountain Mushroom Farm, the first location, is where the subject was employed,” Corpus said in a press conference Tuesday, though she added that, so far, the “only known connection between the victims and the suspect is that they may have been coworkers.”
As of writing, it remains unclear why he targeted the second location. A mushroom farm called Concord Farms has told reporters that it was the site of the second shooting — which a law enforcement official confirmed to The Washington Post.
In a statement to the media, a spokesperson said the farm had “no past knowledge” of the alleged gunman or his possible motives. Little has been released about the victims, though Corpus said Tuesday they were all adults and a “mixture of Asian and Hispanic descent,” some of whom were migrants.
Authorities had previously stated that, because people both live and work on the farms, children were among those who witnessed the shooting. However, on Tuesday, one official walked that back and said while children were indeed in the vicinity, police do not have information about specific witnesses.
Just hours after the violence in Half Moon Bay, seven people were injured, and one other was killed during a shooting at a gas station in Oakland. Very little has been reported about the incident, but police have said that the shooting was “between several individuals.”
Renewed Calls for Gun Control
Californians continue to reel from the rapid succession of mass shootings in a state known for its strict gun control laws.
According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a nonprofit that advocates against gun violence, the state ranks No. 1 in the country for gun law strength. An analysis led by the organization found that California has the sixth-lowest rate of gun ownership and the eighth-lowest gun death rate.
Many of California’s top lawmakers have argued that the state’s relatively low gun violence statistics emphasize the need for more federal regulations.
“The Second Amendment’s becoming a suicide pact,” Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) told CBS News in an interview.
“We’ll continue to find whatever loopholes we can and continue to lead the national conversation on gun safety reform. And the data bares out. It works. It saves lives,” he continued. “California’s 37% lower than the death rate of the rest of the nation, and yet, with all that evidence, no one on the other side seems to give a damn. I can’t get anything done in Congress.”
Following the Monterey Park shooting, U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Ca.), alongside other Democratic colleagues, introduced two gun control bills in the upper chamber. The first would ban assault weapons, while the second aims to raise the minimum age to purchase assault weapons from 18 to 21.
President Joe Biden quickly threw his support behind the measures, urging Congress to pass them.
“The majority of the American people agree with this commonsense action,” he said in a statement Monday. “There can be no greater responsibility than to do all we can to ensure the safety of our children, our communities and our nation.”
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