What are the Implications for Climate of Recent North Magnetic Pole Activity?

8381258 6579515 image a 49 1547163901058Scientists warn Earth’s magnetic North Pole has begun moving ‘erratically’ at speeds so fast they are having to issue an emergency update to maps used by electronic navigation systems. 

This is the precursor to a magnetic reversal. 

Let’s hope that the sun is at a sunspot minimum during the time of the reversal — since the earth’s magnetic field is what protects us from all those bad cosmic rays. 

Earth’s magnetic fields are shifting – and scientists are unsure why.

Researchers say the magnetic North Pole is  ‘skittering’ away from Canada, towards Siberia.

The problem has got so bad, researchers around the world are scrambling to update a global model of the fields.

Called the World Magnetic Model, it underlies all modern navigation, from the systems that steer ships at sea to Google Maps on smartphones. 


Gallup: Record Numbers of Americans Want to Leave the U.S.

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  • 40% of women younger than 30 would like to leave the U.S.
  • 22% who disapprove of Trump would like to move vs. 7% who approve
  • Canada is top desired destination for would-be migrant Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C. — While Donald Trump has spent much of his presidency focused on the number of people who want to get into the U.S., since he took office, record numbers of Americans have wanted to get out.

Though relatively average by global standards, the 16% of Americans overall who said in 2017 and again in 2018 that they would like to permanently move to another country — if they could — is higher than the average levels during either the George W. Bush (11%) or Barack Obama administration (10%).


Gallup: Americans Continue to Embrace Political Independence

Line graph. In seven of the past eight years, at least 40% of U.S. adults have identified politically as independents.

Looks like I’m in the majority. 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Significantly more U.S. adults continued to identify as political independents (42%) in 2018 than as either Democrats (30%) or Republicans (26%). At least four in 10 Americans have been political independents in seven of the past eight years, including a record-high 43% in 2014.

The trend is based on aggregated data from all Gallup polls conducted in each year. The 2018 aggregate includes 13 separate surveys, encompassing interviews with more than 13,000 U.S. adults. Gallup asks Americans in every poll it conducts whether they identify politically as a Democrat, a Republican or an independent.


Gallup: Majority of Democrats Identify as Liberal for First Time

The political climate allows them to finally admit it.Line graph. The percentage of liberal Democrats has doubled since 1994 while moderates and conservatives both down.

The percentage of Democrats identifying as liberal averaged 51% in 2018, up from 50% in 2017, marking the first time a majority of Democrats have adopted this term, following gradual increases since the 1990s.

In 1994, nearly half of Democrats described their views as moderate while equal percentages, at 25%, identified themselves as liberal and conservative. That fundamental pattern held until about 2002, during the first half of President George W. Bush’s first term in office. From 2002 through 2014 — spanning the Iraq War under Bush and the Barack Obama presidency — the liberal share increased approximately one percentage point a year, while the percentages moderate and conservative fell. Since 2014, the percentage of Democrats identifying as liberal has increased at an even faster rate of two points per year on average.


Gallup: U.S. Still Leans Conservative, but Liberals Keep Recent Gains

Line graph. Since 1992, the percentage in the U.S. identifying as liberal has grown, while moderates are down.


  • Conservatives continue to outnumber liberals, 35% to 26%
  • Nine-point difference ties last year for slimmest in Gallup trends
  • For first time, majority of Democrats identify as liberal

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans’ assessment of their political ideology was unchanged in 2018 compared with the year prior when 35% on average described themselves as conservative, 35% as moderate and 26% as liberal. Although conservatives continue to outnumber liberals, the gap in conservatives’ favor has narrowed from 19 percentage points in Gallup’s 1992 baseline measurement to nine points each of the past two years.

Since 1992, the percentage of Americans identifying as liberal has risen from 17% then to 26% today. This has been mostly offset by a shrinking percentage of moderates, from 43% to 35%. Meanwhile, from 1993 to 2016 the percentage conservative was consistently between 36% and 40%, before dipping to 35% in 2017 and holding at that level in 2018.

These ideology figures are based on combined data from Gallup’s monthly GPSS and other standalone surveys conducted each year. The 2018 aggregate includes 13 surveys totaling more than 13,000 national adults.


Gallup: U.S. Catholics’ Faith in Clergy Is Shaken

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  • 31% of Catholics rate the clergy’s honesty highly, down from 49% in 2017
  • 44% of Catholics confident in organized religion; an 8-point drop
  • 52% of Catholics say religion is a “very important” part of their lives

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Amid turmoil in the Roman Catholic Church in the ongoing fallout from priest sex abuse scandals, a record-low 31% of U.S. Catholics rate the honesty and ethical standards of the clergy as “very high” or “high.” This marks an 18-percentage-point drop between 2017 and 2018, when more sexual abuse allegations against priests surfaced and questions arose about the Vatican’s response.


Ginsburg can stay on the Supreme Court and vote, no matter how sick or disabled she becomes

Unless she is impeached for being incapacitated. 

I had asked previously about whether she is allowed to vote without being able to attend the court proceedings. The answer is yet. 

Though she was not present for oral arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts said Ginsburg would participate in the cases by reading briefs and argument transcripts.


In addition to reviewing relevant case material from home, Ginsburg has also voted in matters before the court. There is no written rule prohibiting justices who are missing from the bench from casting their votes.

Before her cancer surgery last month, for example, Ginsburg voted remotely to deny a request from the Trump administration to enforce its new asylum policy, according to reports.


100 years ago in Spokane: Spanish Flu Outbreak

I’ve always been intrigued by the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918. Of those who contracted the flu, 20% died. 50-100 million died worldwide — about 5% of the entire world’s population, over the course of a year.

This happened during WWI, and the massive troop movements likely led to the spread and hastening of the pandemic.

There are some excellent resources available about the Spanish Flu. Probably the best I’ve read is John M. Barry’s The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History.

There have also been some great articles in the Spokesman Review’s “100 Years Ago Today” series that discusses the effect of the Spanish Flu on the Palouse.

Barry believes that the virus actually originated in Kansas.

Price Changes: Jan 1998 – Dec 2018

NewImageOf interest: notice that the most regulated part of the economy is the one with skyrocketing prices. What if, what if government got its hands out of the cookie jar?

Based on today’s BLS report for CPI price data through December, I’ve updated the chart above with price changes through 2018. During the most recent 21-year period from January 1998 to December 2018, the CPI for All Items increased by exactly 56.0% and the chart displays the relative price increases over that time period for 14 selected consumer goods and services, and for average hourly earnings (wages). Seven of those goods and services have increased more than average inflation, led by hospital services (+211%), college tuition (+183.8%), and college textbooks (+183.6%). Average wages have also increased more than average inflation since January 1998, by 80.2%, indicating an increase in real wages over the last several decades.

The other seven price series have declined since January 1998, led by TVs (-97%), toys (-74%), software (-68%) and cell phone service (-53%). The CPI series for new cars, household furnishings (furniture, appliances, window coverings, lamps, dishes, etc.) and clothing have remained relatively flat for the last 21 years while average prices have increased by 56% and wages increased 80.2%. Various observations that have been made about the huge divergence in price patterns over the last several decades include:

a. The greater (lower) the degree of government involvement in the provision of a good or service the greater (lower) the price increases (decreases) over time, e.g., hospital and medical costs, college tuition, childcare with both large degrees of government funding/regulation and large price increases vs. software, electronics, toys, cars and clothing with both relatively less government funding/regulation and falling prices. As somebody on Twitter commented:

Blue lines = prices subject to free market forces. Red lines = prices subject to regulatory capture by government. Food and drink is debatable either way. Conclusion: remind me why socialism is so great again.

b. Prices for manufactured goods (cars, clothing, appliances, furniture, electronic goods, toys) have experienced large price declines over time relative to overall inflation, wages, and prices for services (education, medical care, and childcare).

c. The greater the degree of international competition for tradeable goods, the greater the decline in prices over time, e.g., toys, clothing, TVs, appliances, furniture, footwear, etc.

Chart of the day…. or century?

Female Lawyer Gets Tulane University to Stop Discriminating Against Men

From the PJMedia article “Female Lawyer Gets Tulane University to Stop Discriminating Against Men” by Toni Airaksinen:

Tulane University has agreed to stop financially discriminating against male students in an unprecedented response to a Title IX complaint made against the school. As PJ Media initially reported, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) launched an investigation into Tulane University in August amid concerns that six of the school’s scholarships violated Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits sex discrimination.

The complaint was filed by Margaret C. Valois, a Virginia Title IX attorney and mother of two sons. Though she typically provides legal counsel to students accused of sexual misconduct, she said she was inspired to file the complaint to fight educational inequity. “Tulane’s implementation of Title IX provides greater educational opportunities for female students than for male students. When opportunities and benefits are offered to one group because of their sex… it is patently unfair,” said Valois at the time.

Four months later, Valois got unprecedented news. On December 14, Tulane University quietly entered into a resolution agreement with the OCR, which dictates that Tulane is now undertaking steps to ensure that financial assistance is fairly distributed.

“By September 6, 2019, the University will ensure that it is not treating male students differently on the basis of sex by providing different amounts of financial assistance, limiting eligibility for financial assistance… or otherwise discriminating with respect to financial assistance,” details the resolution agreement.

To help ensure this, Tulane also agreed to arrange training for all financial aid officers and other administrators to ensure “nondiscrimination in financial assistance” and nearly all other aspects of campus life. Tulane University will have until September 2019 to ensure compliance. From now on, OCR officials will monitor Tulane until the terms are met, and may send officers to campus to interview students, staff and administrators to assess progress.

While Valois is sympathetic to Title IX’s original goal of ensuring equity for women, Valois also argues that in many ways, men are not only underrepresented on college campuses, but also discriminated against in Title IX trials that violate due process.

Trump White House urging allies to prepare for possible RBG departure

Trump’s one lasting legacy could be his setting the direction of the Supreme Court for decades to come. 

And with the Senate in his pocket…

The White House is reaching out to political allies and conservative activistgroups to prepare for an ailing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s possible death or departure from the Supreme Court — an event that would trigger the second bitter confirmation battle of President Donald Trump’s tenure.

The outreach began after Ginsburg, 85, on Monday missed oral arguments at the court for the first time in her 25 years on the bench. The justice, who was nominated to the court by President Bill Clinton in 1993, announced in late December that she underwent a surgical procedure to remove two cancerous growths from her lungs.


The Latest: French protesters demand more help from govt

Protesters want deeper changes to France’s economy and politics.

They want more socialism at lower cost. 

They clearly have no mathematical skills. 

Thousands of yellow vest protesters have marched through Paris and other French cities for a ninth straight weekend to denounce President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies.

Sporadic violence broke out during protests Saturday in Paris, Bourges, Bordeaux, Rouen, Marseille and Toulouse. The Interior Ministry said more than 100 people had been arrested.

Protesters walked peacefully through central Paris from the Finance Ministry in the east of the French capital to the Arc de Triomphe in the west. But scuffles between police and activists then broke out at the end of the march. Police used tear gas and water cannon to push back some protesters throwing rocks and other objects at them.

French armored vehicles blocked protesters from going onto nearby Champs-Elysees Avenue.

The movement for greater economic equality appears to be resurging, despite Macron’s promises of billions of euros in tax relief.

Avalanche, accidents add snow-related deaths in Europe

Global warming is a funny thing, doing the exact opposite of the predictions. 

BELGRADE, Serbia – Heavy snowfall this week in the Balkans has closed down schools, left some remote villages cut off and disrupted traffic and power supplies in the region, while authorities in Bulgaria said two snowboarders died in an avalanche Friday.

The Bulgarian Red Cross said in a statement the snowboarders’ bodies were found at noon local time in the Pirin Mountains. The statement alleged the two triggered the avalanche that killed them after ignoring warnings and weather alerts.

At least 20 weather-related deaths have been reported in Europe in the past week. In Germany, the driver of a snow plow died Friday after his vehicle toppled into an icy river. Albania’s Energy Ministry said a power company employee suffered a fatal heart attack while repairing damaged supply lines.

About 2,000 soldiers and other emergency workers in Albania were assigned to help people trapped by snow and to clear roads to restore access to rural areas.

Via the AP. 

To Prepare For The Worst, Democrats Purchase Funeral Plot For Ginsburg On Ancient Indian Burial Ground

Democrats have reportedly used the burial ground with supernatural resurrection power numerous times, most notably during voter registration drives.

“It’s the least we can do for ol’ Ginsburg,” Senator Kamala Harris told reporters as she and a group of Democrats trudged through an old pet cemetery and climbed over a sharp, treacherous deadfall to pick out a plot for the ailing justice. “We know this barrier wasn’t meant to be crossed, and that the locals don’t want us to go beyond the deadfall, but we think it’ll all work out.”

“We have to try the Indian burial ground to see what’s in it,” Pelosi chimed in as she skipped across the deadfall and past a creature called a “Wendigo,” which let them pass as he’s a strong Democratic supporter.


White House pushing for H1B visas

Trump is looking for educated and skilled immigrants. 

More than 100,000 workers are brought to the on the visas each year, and are allowed to stay for up to six years.

The latest plan offers a pathway to citizenship for those in Silicon Valley, who are working for major tech companies.

However, there are concerns about the effects it could have on American workers.

Every year, more than 85,000 Americans potentially lose their jobs to foreign labor through H1B visas.

So who exactly is concerned about this? Those who support illegal immigration? 

White House pushing for H1B visas

Pres. Trump lists border statistics, asks Democrats to come back to the table

Pres. Trump lists border statistics, asks Democrats to come back to the table