US What Matters: Two lifelines for America
A Black reporter's road trip to the inauguration — and a search for America's 'soul'
The Times' Tyrone Beason journeyed from Charleston to Charlottesville to the inauguration in D.C. — on his way, reflecting on racism in a divided country.Time and time again, I was forced to face the war raging in my own.
Two different Americas are waiting on lifelines.
For part of the country, it's a literal shot in the arm -- the vaccine. For the other it's a metaphorical shot -- thethat will help keep them going while we're stuck in the Covid economy.
Tuesday'swas moment to move on from the impeachment trial that wrapped up over the weekend.
On vaccines: CNNabout what their health departments would like to see from the Biden administration. Read the full report here. One challenge is having the state system talk to the federal system. "Our vaccination program has been extremely successful, but it doesn't show up that way on the CDC Covid Tracker," Dr. Lee Norman of the Kansas health department told CNN.
It’s Prague on the Potomac, as we wearily wait for a shot at the vaccine
This vaccine rollout makes America less than great. Again. Robbins, like many Marylanders, hunted online day and by-the-blue-glow-of-a-computer night for a vaccine appointment for her husband, Richard, who is almost 65 and eligible to get the vaccine. Suddenly one morning at 7 — bam! — she found one and, tappity-tap fast, signed him up. But only him. At 62, she’s too young to qualify for the injection herself.
Another key line from CNN's report: Multiple states also informed CNN that they had learned about changes to federal programs secondhand through the media or with very little advance notice, leaving them scrambling to adapt.
On stimulus:: The full House may pass the legislation as soon as next week, but it could face hurdles in the Senate, where Democrats can't afford to lose a single member of their party thanks to the 50-50 split in the chamber. Already, two Democrats -- Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia -- have voiced opposition to one element of the plan, raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The Texas blackout will affect everyone
Millions of Texans are without electricity.
House advances $1,400 payments, unemployment boost as part of Covid relief plan
House Democrats hope to pass their $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan this month and have it signed into law before mid-March.The Ways and Means Committee advanced a critical portion of the legislation on Thursday night. It would send $1,400 direct payments to most Americans, extend key unemployment programs through late August and give families up to $3,600 a year per child.
Nature threw humans a global pandemic that has kept kids in the richest nation on earth from attending school. Now it's delivered a polar vortex that shut off power in Texas, the power center of the United States, which is the energy creation center of the world.
Power has a lot to do with power. And climate change.
It's no coincidence that the current richest person on the planet -- Elon Musk -- started an electric car company. And we should note here that Musk recently announced he'd be relocating to Texas. (Lower taxes! Less regulation!)
The direct reason for the power outages in Texas is that a warm weather state was hit by a snowstorm and it wasn't prepared. But power -- and the complicated way we all get it -- is both a periodically interesting issue (Enron, California blackouts, utility lines causing wildfires) and also an increasingly important one as we face climate change and try to pivot the country to emit fewer greenhouse gases.
Why patriotism and nationalism don’t mix for Christians
"Jesus 2020" and "Jesus Saves" were just a few of the slogans on display at the Capitol Hill riots. The liberal media has been quick to pounce on these and other Christian symbols seen on Jan. 6 to decry the rising threat of "Christian nationalism." Christian nationalists, we are told, want to force their Christian views on anyone and everyone, no matter the consequences and even if it takes political violence to do it. © Provided by Washington Examiner The term Christian nationalism is really just a scare label meant to demonize conservative Christian patriots.
But I will admit to knowing very little about how the electricity gets from wherever it starts to the light switch in my house.
I read and then rereadon the situation Texas is facing now. I've put excerpts below in italics. My Cliff's Notes are in bold.
Top producer of gas and wind goes dark. Texas is the No. 1 US state in both crude oil and natural gas, according to the US Energy Information Administration. The state accounted for a staggering 41% of America's oil production in 2019 and a quarter of its marketed natural gas output.
Wind power is also booming in Texas, which produced about 28% of all the US wind-powered electricity in 2019, the EIA said.
What happens when a warm-weather energy producer freezes? That means its infrastructure is ill-prepared for the cold spell currently wreaking havoc. And the consequences are being felt by millions.
Wind power fail: Critics of renewable energy have pointed out that wind turbines have frozen or needed to be shut down due to the extreme weather.
And that is significant because almost a quarter (23%) of the power in Texas last year was generated by wind power, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
The women who fought against ISIS — an experiment in women's equality
On the "Intelligence Matters" podcast this week, host Michael Morell talks with Gayle Tzemach Lemmon about her new book, "The Daughters of Kobani."Highlights
Even though other places with colder weather (like Iowa and Denmark) rely on wind for even larger shares of power, experts said the turbines in Texas were not winterized for the unexpected freeze. Cold weather protection like antifreeze and heating elements within the turbine blades and components are not commonly used in Texas.
Gas and coal power fail: Natural gas and coal-fired power plants need water to stay online. Yet those water facilities froze in the cold temperatures and others lost access to the electricity they require to operate.
"The ability of some companies that generate the power has been frozen. This includes the natural gas & coal generators," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wrote on Twitter.
And that's an even bigger deal to Texas than frozen wind turbines because combined cycle natural gas (40%) and coal (18%) generated more than half of the state's power in 2020, according to ERCOT.
Nuclear power fail: Nuclear also depends on water to operate and at least one unit in South Texas shut down, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Texas gets about 11% of its power from nuclear.
"Even if Texas did not have wind power, you would still have power prices going to the moon," said Matthew Hoza, manager of energy analysis at BTU Analytics.
The problem, according to Hoza, is that a lot of companies in Texas did not invest in cold protection for power plants and natural gas facilities.
America Needs a Robert A. Taft
What we can learn from an unjustly forgotten Ohio senator.With the acquittal in his second impeachment trial, Trump will likely try to reclaim the role of Middle America’s champion. But in the face of a woke revolution and a possible Green New Deal, its denizens deserve something better. Oh, that we could resurrect the great and forgotten senator from Ohio, Robert A. Taft.
Climate change is an issue and will continue to be an issue. There will be more storms. It's clear that a wide range of energy sources — from fossil fuels to renewables — were not prepared for the unusual weather in Texas.
"Regions need to rethink the extreme conditions to which they're planning for and to make sure their systems are designed to be resilient to those," said Jesse Jenkins, an assistant professor at Princeton University who studies energy systems and policy.
Deregulation deserves some scrutiny. The energy crisis in Texas raises also questions about the nature of the state's deregulated and decentralized electric grid. Unlike other states, Texas has made a conscious decision to isolate its grid from the rest of the country.
That means that when things are running smoothly, Texas can't export excess power to neighboring states. And in the current crisis, it can't import power either.
Affecting more than Texas: This situation could have wide-reaching implications as the US power industry attempts to slash carbon emissions in response to the climate crisis.
Prices skyrocket: That nightmarish supply-demand situation has sent electricity prices in energy-rich Texas to skyrocket more than 10,000% compared with before the unprecedented temperatures hit. Texas has been hit with life-threatening blackouts. More than 4 million people in the state were without power early Tuesday.
No one energy source is to blame: Although some are attempting to pin the blame on one fuel source or another, the reality is that the Arctic temperatures are hobbling fossil fuels and renewable energy alike. "The extreme cold is causing the entire system to freeze up," said Jason Bordoff, a former energy official in the Obama administration and director of Columbia University's Center on Global Energy Policy. "All sources of energy are underperforming in the extreme cold because they're not designed to handle these unusual conditions."
Is Biden pursuing a 'third way' trade policy?
Even at this early stage, one can see that there are more than a few similarities between the Trump and Biden trade agendas. The biggest difference will be in style - the tenor and tone in trade relations - and the absence of asinine pronouncements such as "trade wars are good and easy to win." The Biden preference for multilateralism, heavy consideration of labor and environment in trade relations, and a refrain from wielding tariffs as an ax bode well for U.S. trade relations over the next four years.
Nationwide gas prices could shoot up 15 cents a gallon this week. Motiva's sprawling Port Arthur oil refinery, the largest in the United States, shut down Monday, citing "unprecedented freezing temperatures." About 2.5 million barrels per day of refining capacity was shut between Houston and Louisiana, according to Rystad Energy.
Countless drillers went offline as temperatures in the Permian Basin, the nation's fracking capital, plunged below zero. The supply shortfall helped send US oil prices above $60 a barrel for the first time since January 2020.
Donald Trump attacks Mitch McConnell, who voted to acquit him. Granted, the Senate Republican leader did give a speech criticizing the former President., Trump said: "Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again. He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership."
Trump sued for interrupting Congress. In his personal capacity, Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, has sued the former President for his January 6 behavior. From CNN's report: The lawsuit cites a scarcely used federal statute passed after the Civil War that was intended to combat violence from the Ku Klux Klan; it allows civil actions to be brought against people who use "force, intimidation, or threat" to prevent anyone from upholding the duties of their office.
Unarmed insurrection? Sen. Ron Johnson, one of Trump's more vocal defenders, argued that while rioters overran US Capitol police, maybe the insurrection wasn't "armed.""This didn't seem like an armed insurrection to me. When you hear the word 'armed,' don't you think of firearms? Here's the questions I would have liked to ask: How many firearms were confiscated? How many shots were fired?" OK.
A shunning. Another lawmaker, Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican who voted to impeach Trump, has been shunned by members of his family,, which obtained a letter the family members sent the congressman. "You have embarrassed the Kinzinger family name!" Kinzinger told the Times they had been brainwashed by conservative churches. "I hold nothing against them," he said, "but I have zero desire or feel the need to reach out and repair that. That is 100% on them to reach out and repair, and quite honestly, I don't care if they do or not."
One less Trump lawyer. From: Donald Trump's long-time personal attorney Rudy Giuliani "is not currently representing President Trump in any legal matters," according to Jason Miller.
Mark Ruffalo Demands BLM Protest Charges Be Dropped, Prosecutors Fired .
The "Avengers" star has joined those urging the county attorney to throw out charges over last summer's Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Phoenix.Several people who face charges over the Phoenix protests against police violence, in the wake of the death of George Floyd, have said they should be dismissed and the prosecutors should be fired.