Houston And North Korea

Houston Imposes A Nighttime Curfew, And Why That’s Not Entirely A Bad Sign

First, some good news, from early this morning:

And early this morning, the storm made its second landfall, in Louisiana. Houston has now smashed all rainfall records for any major city in the U.S., with nearly 40″ as of yesterday, and still counting. That makes it the most extreme rain event in U.S. history. The New York Times says 30 people are dead as a result of the storm, including a 60-year old police Sergeant who drowned in a patrol car.

And overnight, residents were subject to their first midnight-5 A.M. curfew. The Police Chief says that’s to give his officers the “tools to assess the intentions of those that are out there”.

But it’s also not  entirely a negative sign: it means the storm has subsided enough that people are finally finding themselves able to get out and about more. In fact, The National Weather Service put out warnings in an effort to dissuade gawkers from “doing a little sightseeing” in flooded areas.

And finally, the sun peeked through, as floodwaters started subsiding in some areas, not in others.

Again, we point you to The Houston Chronicle, The Guardian, and CNN for full coverage.

If The Biggest Controversy Of The Day Was Melania’s Inappropriate Choice Of Shoes, Trump Probably Did OK, Although An Expression Of Empathy Would’ve Been Nice

A lot of media outlets were on him for keeping “the focus on himself.” But all that many people wanted from the President were reassurances that financial and logistical support from the federal government would be forthcoming, and Trump gave them that. During his visits to Corpus Christi, and later Austin, Trump stayed focused on the matter-at-hand, and did not deviate into other Texas-centric “favorites” of his like “Mexican criminals” and “The Wall”.

Trump did seem more focused on his legacy: “We want to be looked at in five years and 10 years from now, as this is the way to do it”, than on individuals suffering in the storm, whom he didn’t mention (at least not in anything we saw or read).

The Melania brouhaha had to do with the fact that she wore towering stiletto heels as she left the White House with the President to visit to hurricane ravaged area. This is one time we agree with Fox News.

Trump today moves on to Missouri for an invite-only speech, expected to be devoted to two things: talking up tax cuts, and talking down Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill, who’s considered one of the more vulnerable incumbents in 2018, as that state turns increasingly red. The Kansas City Star profiles some local residents, both pro and anti-Trump, but seems to have had a lot harder time finding anti-Trump people.

When Do We Start Talking About Climate Change?

Unusually warm water in the Gulf of Mexico certainly contributed to the severity of the storm. But will politicians (and in particular, our President) finally warm to the idea that it’s not just a “normal, cyclical” (i.e. non man-made) weather occurrence? Sadly, the signs so far point to “no”. The Guardian reporting Conservative think-tanks are already mobilizing to “ridicule” those who would suggest a connection. Myron Ebell, who led Trump’s EPA transition team, contends we are actually in a period of “low hurricane activity.”

Michael Mann, the Penn State Professor who’s become the lightning rod for the ire of many a climate change denier begs to disagree: in a piece he’s authored for EcoWatch he points to sea surface temperatures, deeper layers of warmer water, and sea level rise all as factors contributing to the storm’s severity, all of which are related to climate change. But he doesn’t have to convince us. Wired has a really good story too. Still, this is something a lot of mainstream media has shied away from at this point, perhaps because they don’t want to be accused of politicizing the situation.

Houston Is Home To More Undocumented Immigrants Than Anywhere But New York And L.A. Are They Protected?

The Pew Research Center says nearly 600,000 undocumented immigrants live in Houston, 3rd in the country behind only New York and Los Angeles; just ahead of Dallas. And with Trump’s crackdown and widespread deportations, many are concerned about seeking public shelter or turning up at food banks.

The city of Houston went out of its way to Tweet reassurance:

And that’s a great gesture. Problem is, we know darn well they have no control over what ICE decides to do. And as the New York Times reports, while federal officials issued a statement saying enforcement actions would not be conducted at evacuation sites, shelters, or food backs, they also say “laws will not be suspended”.

Texas Lawmakers Who Opposed Funding For Hurricane Sandy Probably Won’t Face Any Consequences, But Are (Appropriately) Getting Raked Over The Coals

As we mentioned earlier this week, all Republican U.S. lawmakers from Texas, save for one, including both Senators, voted against the relief package for Hurricane Sandy. (It passed anyway). But this week, as Congresspeople from New York and New Jersey indicated they would be more neighborly and support emergency funding for Texas, Senator Ted Cruz has been protesting that he was actually for Sandy aid, even though he voted against it. He argues the only reason for his “no” vote was that 2/3rds of the Sandy bill had “nothing to do with Sandy”. The Washington Post says that’s just not accurate, and doesn’t even match what Cruz said back in 2013 when he said his opposition was because 2/3rds of the total was not emergency spending. That is closer to the truth: only about 30% was being spent by the end of 2014, some of it not until this year. That doesn’t mean, however, it wasn’t necessary, or could’ve been successfully passed as a secondary measure later on.

North Korea

As we suggested yesterday, North Korea’s launch of a missile across Japan was what it’s now calling a “meaningful prelude” to a launch in the direction of Guam. Such a launch might lead to an attempt to intercept and shoot the missile down, which comes with it’s own set of risks, and escalates tensions no matter what happens.

At the U.N. very little more than lip-service following the latest launch: an emergency Security Council meeting, followed by a “strongly-worded condemnation.” Japan is pushing for oil to be added to the North Korea embargo. So far, China’s not on board with that.

We are wondering about the photo below, released by the North Korean government, but undated. North Korea seems increasingly in tune with President Trump’s statements and sensitivities. And not just about North Korea. Trump has made it clear as recently as last week that one of his greatest pet-peeves (real or imagined) is when people “laugh at us”. So our question: Coincidence?

Korean Central News Agency