climate crisis, Texas storms, heating Arctic, polar vortex
The author writes, “Associating climate change, normally connected with roasting heat, with an unusual winter storm that has crippled swaths of Texas and brought freezing temperatures across the southern US can seem counterintuitive. But scientists say there is evidence that the rapid heating of the Arctic can help push frigid air from the north pole much further south, possibly to the US-Mexico border. ... Judah Cohen, the director of seasonal forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research, said, ‘This can’t be hand-waved away as if it’s entirely natural. This is happening not in spite of climate change; it’s in part due to climate change.’” Photo credit: Jonathan Cutrer / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Extremists and QAnon Supporters Are Organizing on Message Boards to Take Over GOP ; United Airlines Orders Vertical-Takeoff Electric Airplanes ; and More Picks 2/17

Extremists and QAnon Supporters Are Organizing on Message Boards to Take Over the Republican Party (Reader Steve)

From Media Matters: “Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s recent interview with a local Republican Party committee member on how Trump supporters might be able to take control of the party at the grassroots level is now being enthusiastically promoted on far-right platforms — including to followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, which has been linked to domestic terrorism and the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. On February 6, Bannon hosted Dan Schultz, an attorney and a local GOP committee member from Arizona, on his podcast to discuss conservatives taking over the Republican Party by becoming the local precinct committee officers throughout the country as many of these positions are vacant from lack of public awareness. From there, according to Schultz, they could gain influence over local elected officials and even determine the course of national presidential nominations.”

Restaurants Can Pay High Price for Ignoring Employees’ Values (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Like restaurants everywhere, Sonoma’s celebrated the Girl & the Fig restaurant has struggled due to the coronavirus pandemic over the past year, navigating temporary closures and reopenings as regulations changed. Wine Country wildfires last year added to the uncertainty for the usually thriving business. But when it decided to shut its doors this week, neither health hazards nor climate change was to blame. Instead, a dispute over a server’s desire to support the Black Lives Matter movement by wearing a BLM face mask has gone viral and led to charges of racism. The former server said she felt pressured to quit over her support of a civil rights issue. The restaurant’s owner said it was about maintaining a uniform look for an upscale vibe. Now, both are receiving death threats, and some have threatened to burn the restaurant down.”

Populist Leaders in Central and Eastern Europe Have a New Target in Their Fight Against Liberalism: Art Museum Directors (Dan)

From Artnet: “On a cold morning in late December last year, Zdenka Badovinac walked out of the office she had occupied for 27 years for the final time. The departure of Badovinac, who had been curator and director of the Museum of Modern Art in Ljubljana since 1993, left colleagues in the European cultural sector shocked, but not surprised. During her tenure, Badovinac had helped bring the Slovenian art scene to prominence within international art circles. Media outlets and other cultural bodies quickly interpreted the Slovenian ministry of culture’s decision not to renew her contract as politically motivated. Since coming to power in March 2020, Slovenia’s ruling right-wing SDS party, led by populist prime minister Janez Janša, has been accused of eroding media and artistic freedoms, while swapping out cultural leaders at an alarming rate.”

United Airlines Orders 200 Vertical-Takeoff Electric Airplanes (Dana)

The author writes, “The success of uncrewed electric drones in the last couple of decades has caused some people to wonder if similar construction techniques to those used in drones could be employed to create small electric aircraft to carry people. Not only are electric motors more reliable than conventional engines, but they’re also light enough that you can put several of them on a single aircraft, offering an extra margin of safety. The ability to use several motors — together with sophisticated software — means greater design flexibility, opening the door to new types of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft that straddle the line between conventional airplane and helicopter.”

In This Alaskan Town, Every Resident Lives in the Same Building (Dana)

The author writes, “Whittier is a seasonal town, accessible by boat in the summer or on land year-round via a single two-and-a-half-mile tunnel under Maynard Mountain. That tunnel works on a rotational basis, running one direction only, switching every half hour, and closing for the night at about 11 p.m. If you aren’t in line for the final trip through the tunnel, you’re stuck on one side until it opens again in the morning. When all the tourists leave Whittier, only about 218 residents are left — and almost all of them live in one building, Begich Towers. They don’t just live there in the bitter winter, though. Most have condos for the entire year, but spend much of the summertime out running businesses and helping tourists.”


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