climate crisis, global warming, Midwest, winter temperature records, early wildfire season
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Unseasonal Wildfires Beset Midwest: ‘The Strangest Winter I’ve Ever Seen’ (Maria)

The author writes, “The US midwest typically spends the start of spring emerging from snow. But this year, after a warm winter left landscapes parched, the region instead was primed to burn. Hundreds of blazes ignited in recent months in states more accustomed to dealing with just dozens for this time of year, as extreme fire behavior defied seasonal norms. Experts say the unusually early and active fire season was a symptom of El Niño, a climate pattern characterized by warmer surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. … But the climate crisis turned up the dial and helped create conditions in the Midwest where winter temperature records were not only broken — they were smashed. ‘This was the strangest winter I have ever seen,’ [said] Stephen Marien, a predictive services fire meteorologist who works for the National Parks Service.”

Tennessee Senate Approves Measure Allowing K-12 Teachers to Carry Concealed Guns (Sean)

From The Hill: “The law has faced immediate pushback from advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers. The Tennessee chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action both condemned the legislation in statements. ‘We should be listening to Tennessee law enforcement, teachers, superintendents and more who have spoke out against arming teachers,’ Linda McFadyen-Ketchum, a volunteer with the Tennessee chapter of Moms Demand Action, said in a statement. ‘And, most importantly, we should be listening to Tennesseans, who are worried that their children won’t come home from school every day.’”

Their Employer Didn’t Pay Them, Then WA Failed to Get Their Money Back (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “More than 1,800 Washington workers across all industries are also waiting for wages. Since 2018, L&I has failed to collect $5.4 million from employers that the agency itself says is owed to workers, a Seattle Times analysis of the agency’s collections data found. In most cases where L&I finds workers are owed money, business owners settle and pay up before entering the collections process. But for cases the agency escalates to its collections unit, its success rate has plummeted so sharply that in December, it reported to the Legislature that last year it collected nothing — zero dollars — for workers.”

A MAGA Troll’s Memes Were Blatant Disinformation. But Were They a Crime? (Laryn)

From The Intercept: “‘Avoid the line. Vote from home,’ read the meme’s text, which was superimposed over a photo of a Black woman holding a pro-Clinton sign. ‘Text “Hillary” to 59925.’ Mackey tweeted a similar meme a few hours later with Spanish text and a photo of a Hispanic woman, then he retweeted a third vote-by-text meme with a photo of Clinton herself. There is no vote-by-text mechanism in the United States. These memes were brazen disinformation, hatched on 4chan boards and workshopped in private Twitter groups in which Mackey was a participant.”

Elon Musk’s X Pushed a Fake Headline About Iran Attacking Israel. X’s AI Chatbot Grok Made It Up (Sean)

The author writes, “Based on our observations, it appears that the topic started trending because of a sudden uptick of blue checkmark accounts (users who pay a monthly subscription to X for Premium features including the verification badge) spamming the same copy-and-paste misinformation about Iran attacking Israel. The curated posts provided by X were full of these verified accounts spreading this fake news alongside an unverified video depicting explosions.”

Former Webster Teacher Reunites With 100 Past Students to Watch Eclipse (Dana)

From Democrat & Chronicle: “It was a pinnacle moment for the former Webster science teacher, who’d spent over a decade sharing his passion for all things celestial with 14- and 15-year olds, and telling them to meet him in 2024 for the total solar eclipse bound for Rochester. Moriarty, now 68, never thought a bunch of them would actually show up at his Brighton home for the occasion.”


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