With Sweeping Criminal Justice Reform Bill, Canada Seeks an Off-Ramp from the War on Drugs [FEATURE]

5 hours 29 minutes ago

On February 16, Canada's governing Liberal Party finally moved to enact long-promised reforms in its criminal justice by introducing a sweeping new bill that would make arrests for drug possession only one option for police, end all mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, end some other mandatory minimums, and open the way for conditional (probationary) sentences for a variety of offenses. But is it enough?

[image:1 align:right caption:true]The government's move comes as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces mounting pressure for reform on two fronts. First, Canada is facing an unprecedented drug overdose crisis, with the province of British Columbia especially hard-hit. Last year, the provincial Coroners Service reported, B.C. saw a whopping 1,716 drug overdose deaths, up a startling 74 percent over 2019. The province has always been on the cutting edge of drug reform in Canada, and spurred by the crisis, B.C. formally asked the federal government in early February for an exemption to the country's drug laws to allow it to decriminalize the possession of personal use amounts of drugs. That request is still being considered by Ottawa.

But the pressure for drug decriminalization isn't just coming from British Columbia, it's coming from inside the criminal justice system. In July 2020, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police called for drug decriminalization, recommending that "current enforcement-based approach for possession be replaced with a health-care approach that diverts people from the criminal justice system." The following month, the federal prosecution service issued a directive permitting prosecution of drug cases only in the most serious cases.

And public opinion supports decriminalization. An Angus Reid poll released after the government announced the new bill found that seven out of 10 Canadians felt the country's opioid crisis had worsened in 2020, and 59 percent supported the decriminalization of all illegal drugs.

Second, just as last summer's massive protests in the United States channeled and amplified long-standing demands for racial and social justice here, so they echoed north of the border. Canada has its own not-so-noble history of racism and discrimination, and the number of Black and Indigenous people swept up in the country's criminal justice system demonstrates that the legacy of the past continues to this day.

Indigenous people make up 5 percent of the Canadian population but accounted for 25 percent of all federal prisoners in 2019. Similarly, Black Canadians accounted for about 3 percent of the population but more than 7 percent of prisoners that year. As the Justice Ministry noted in a 2018 report, after Conservatives passed tough anti-crime measures early this century, Black and Indigenous were disproportionately targeted for mandatory minimum sentencing in the decade ending in 2017. And as the Office of the Correctional Investigator reported, non-white inmates are more likely to sent to maximum security prisons, have forced used against them, and be denied parole.

As the government rolled out the bill,  C-22, "An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act," Justice Minister David Lametti made clear that not just public health but also racial justice was on its mind.

Trudeau had asked him to “address systemic inequities in the criminal justice system,” he told a press conference. "We are turning the page on a failed Conservative criminal justice policy," he added. "It was an approach that did not make our communities safer. It did not deter criminals. It did not make the justice system more effective or more fair. Its singular accomplishment has been to incarcerate too many Indigenous people, too many Black people and too many marginalized Canadians."

The bill envisions reforms in policing, prosecuting, and sentencing drug offenders and sets out statements of principle for dealing with drug offenses, including "problematic drug use should be addressed primarily as a health and social issue," state actors should recognize human rights and harm reduction imperatives, and criminal sanctions are stigmatizing and not consistent with public health practice.

Under these principles, when encountering people using or possessing drugs, police would be granted the discretion to "consider whether it would be preferable...to take no further action, or warn the individual, or, with the consent of the individual, to refer the individual to a program or to an agency or other service provider in the community that may assist the individual."

Similarly, the bill mandates the prosecutors open drug possession cases only when a warning, referral, or alternate measures is "not appropriate, and a prosecution in appropriate in the circumstances." And it gives judges much broader discretion to order probationary sentences instead of confinement.

C-22 looks as if it were designed to cut off inputs to the Canadian prison system at every level of the system. Liberal MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, who has represented Toronto's Beaches-East York riding (district) since 2015 and is a longtime proponent of full drug decriminalization, says that is exactly what it is supposed to do.

He filed private member's bills this session for decriminalization (C-235) and for an evidence-based diversion model (C-236) to reduce drug arrests and prosecutions. It is that latter bill that the government has now largely adopted as C-22.

"I favor drug decriminalization because the war on drugs is an absolute failure that harms the people we want to help," he told the Chronicle. "Our opioid crisis has taken more than 16,000 lives since 2016, and there is systemic racism in the criminal justice system, including around drug charges."

" My goal was to call for full decriminalization, with a second bill to show the government if they weren't inclined to favor decriminalization, here's an alternative that would get us closer to the goal and would be more politically feasible. This bill seriously restricts the discretion of police and prosecutors to proceed, according to a set of principles that will ensure a stronger focus on human rights and harm reduction," he said. "It doesn't go as far as I want it to go, but it is unquestionably a step forward. It will be virtually impossible for the state to move forward with drug possession charges and prosecutions."

Donald MacPherson, executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition and author of Vancouver's groundbreaking Four Pillars drug strategy in the 1990s, has a more jaundiced view of both the Liberals and C-22.

"The things that are in this bill are all things the Liberals promised when they were elected in 2015, and if they had done this then it would have been seen as a good move, getting rid of egregious stuff the Harper government had implemented," he told the Chronicle. "But now, the discussion has moved so far that even police chiefs are calling for decriminalization. It's too little, too late."

Even the limited support he gave the bill was filled with caveats.

"Overall, though, it is a good thing, it is incremental progress, getting rid of the mandatory minimums is probably the most powerful aspect in terms of criminal law," McPherson conceded. "But the bill was supposed to deal with the disproportionate impact of drug law enforcement on people of color and it won't do it. There will be more probationary sentences and more alternatives to imprisonment, but arrests and prosecutions will be 'at the discretion of' and Black and Indigenous people will now be caught up in kinder, gentler diversion programs."

Still, passage of C-22 would be a step in the right direction, MacPherson said.

"It is preparing the ground for the next step, full decriminalization, which I think is now inevitable. The harms of criminalization in Canada are now so evident to everyone that the question now is not whether to but how to," he said. "We saw this with cannabis—at a certain point, the change in the discourse was palpable. We're now at that point with drug decriminalization."

Long-time Vancouver drug user activist Ann Livingston, co-founder of the pioneering Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) and currently executive project coordinator for the B.C.-Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors, had an even more jaundiced view, scoffing at more police discretion and expanded probationary sentences.

"I'm glad to see the mandatory minimums gone, but the Liberals want more police, and we say don’t do us any more favors," she told the Chronicle. "And the police have always had discretion to not make drug arrests; they just never exercise it. And probation—many of the people in jail are there for probation violations, even administrative ones, like missing appointments."

For Livingston, the cutting edge is now no longer criminal justice reforms or even decriminalization but creating a safe supply of currently illegal drugs. Limited opioid maintenance programs, including heroin, are available in the city, but they aren’t enough, she said.

"Here in British Columbia, we had 900 COVID deaths last year and 1,700 overdose deaths. What we need is a safe drug supply," she argued. "We have to have clear demands and what we are demanding is a pure, safe supply of heroin, cocaine, and crystal meth. This is a crisis; this is the time to do this drug law stuff right. And to get serious. The feds tell us they place no barriers on heroin prescribing, but then they fight about who is going to pay for it."

If Justin Trudeau and the Liberals think passing C-22 is going to quiet the clamor for more fundamental change in Canadian drug policies, they should probably think again.

psmith

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

13 hours 12 minutes ago

A sticky-fingered Michigan detective finally faces justice, a Minnesota narcotics officer gets nailed for driving doped up, and more. Let's get to it:

[image:1 align:left]In Hazel Park, Michigan, a former Hazel Park police detective was arrested last Wednesday for allegedly embezzling more than $68,000 in seized drug money. Sean Boucher, 45, is accused of filching the funds between 2013 and 2017. He was suspended from the department in 2017 and resigned shortly thereafter. He is now finally being charged with conducting a criminal enterprise, embezzlement between $50,000 and $100,000, and five counts of embezzlement of more than $50 as a public official, 

In Pelham, Georgia, a state prison guard was arrested last Thursday after coworkers detected a strong odor of marijuana as she attempted to enter the facility. Officer Officer Kimbrya Almond then consented to a search, which revealed marijuana, rolling papers, pajamas, and a package of gummi bears with an odor of alcohol. She was then arrested by the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office.

In Lyons, New York, a Wayne County Jail guard was arrested last Thursday for allegedly peddling drugs to prisoners. Guard Seth Welch, 26, went down after an internal investigation at the jail, and now faces charges of first-degree promoting prison contraband and second-degree receiving reward for official misconduct, as well as misdemeanor counts of second-degree promoting prison contraband, official misconduct, and fourth-degree criminal sale of marijuana.

In Farmington, Missouri, a former Desloges police officer was arrested last Thursday on multiple drug charges. George Bradley "Brad" Judge Jr., 49, had been the subject of in investigation by a state drug task force and the FBI and resigned from the force after his home was raided in October. During the raid, police found more than 30 grams of methamphetamine, as well as heroin, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, morphine, alprazolam, diazepam, clonazepam, lorazepam, tramadol, chlordiazepoxide, and zolpidem. Some pills were in prescription bottles with other people's names on them. A total of 14 counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of second-degree trafficking drugs were included in the charging documents.

In Fergus Falls, Minnesota, an Ottertail County police narcotics investigator was arrested Monday after he got caught driving his squad car while under the influence of fentanyl. Sheriff's Deputy Kelly Blackman, 43, was on the job when he engaged in a pursuit with a fugitive, who eventually crashed into another car, killing an elderly couple. Blackman refused to submit a voluntary blood sample, but one was eventually taken, and it came back positive for fentanyl He now faces one count of fourth-degree DWI and one count of public officer misconduct. And some cases he was involved in are now being looked at anew after an investigation showed he did not log some seized drug paraphernalia into evidence.

psmith

Coca-Cola Under Fire After Discrimination Training Video Asks Employees To 'Try To Be Less White'

13 hours 56 minutes ago

Coca Cola has come under huge criticism for their racial discrimination training programme after an employee found it deeply disturbing and shared it with the public. The video was encouraging individuals who work for the company to try to 'be less white'.

The ideological training seminar was posted on LinkedIn and contained tips on how to be less racist. These included:

Be less oppressive, be less arrogant, be less defensive, be more humble, and 'be less white'. It also asks individuals to 'break with white solidarity'.

🚨🚨🚨 BREAKING: Coca-Cola is forcing employees to complete online training telling them to "try to be less white."

These images are from an internal whistleblower: pic.twitter.com/gRi4N20esZ

— Karlyn supports banning critical race theory in NH (@DrKarlynB) February 19, 2021

The slides have now been removed, but one of the slides captured in a screenshot said:

"In the US and other Western nations, white people are socialised to feel that they are inherently superior because they are white."

The 11-minute video titled 'Confronting Racism with Robin DiAngelo' did however make clear that it believes that white people are complicit in racism unless they accept their guilt of being white and become a dedicated anti-racist.

Many believe that such statements are far from likely to improve racial harmony and more likely to result in a deep defensiveness and feelings of victimhood.

Coca-Cola responded to a request from the UK newspaper The Sun and gave a statement on the training, saying:

"The video and images attributed to a Coca-Cola training program are not part of the company's learning curriculum. Our Better Together global training is part of a learning plan to help build an inclusive workplace. It is comprised of a number of short vignettes, each a few minutes long. The training includes access to the LinkedIn Learning platform on a variety of topics, including on diversity, equity and inclusion. The video in question was accessible on the LinkedIn Learning platform but was not part of the company's curriculum. We will continue to listen to our employees and refine our learning programs as appropriate."

Such training programs are becoming more common in the United States following a summer of protests and activism following the death of George Floyd, which once again brought worldwide attention to the treatment of black people at the hands of law enforcement in the United States.

[h/t: I heart Intelligence]

Pen S

Medical Marijuana Update

14 hours 4 minutes ago

A New Jersey appeals court clears the way for dealing with pending medical marijuana license applications, and there's lots of action in the states this week.

[image:1 align:right]New Jersey

New Jersey Medical Marijuana Licensing to Resume After Appellate Court Ruling. The state's appellate court ruled last Thursday to uphold the denial of seven medical marijuana licenses, clearing the way for the state to begin dealing with nearly 150 license applications that have piled up while the case was being contested.

North Dakota

North Dakota House Approves Medical Marijuana Edibles. The House has approved a measure, House Bill 1391, that would allow medical marijuana patients to use edibles. The bill would limit edibles to 10 milligrams of THC and allow patients to possess edibles with up to 500 milligrams.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma House Approves Expanding Non-Resident Medical Marijuana Patient Licenses. The House voted last Thursday to approve House Bill 2022, which would extend the length of medical marijuana licenses granted to out-of-state residents. The bill would lengthen the licenses' period of validity from 30 days to two years. The bill also would open up licenses to resident of all 50 states, not just those with existing medical marijuana. The bill must still be approved by the Senate.

South Dakota

South Dakota House Votes to Deny Telehealth for Medical Marijuana. The House voted 38-30 last Wednesday to defeat House Bill 1147, which would have allowed medical marijuana patients to use telehealth to consult with practitioners in order to obtain recommendations. One Republican opponent called the idea "premature," while another called it "not ready for prime time." South Dakota okayed medical marijuana with 69% of the vote in November.

South Dakota Medical Marijuana Supporters Float Compromise to Forestall GOP Effort to Delay Implementation. Supporters of the state's voter-approved medical marijuana law are seeking to scale back Republican efforts to delay the implementation of the medical marijuana program. Lawmakers are considering House Bill 1100, which would form an interim committee to essentially rewrite the voter-approved law.  The proposal moves back the deadline for implementing much of the measure to next January during the 2022 legislative session.

Virginia 

Virginia General Assembly Approves Sales of Buds for Medical Marijuana Patients. A bill that would allow medical marijuana patients to buy flowers, House Bill 221, has passed the General Assembly. Currently, only highly processed oils, tinctures and edibles are allowed to be sold. The bill now goes to Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

psmith

NJ AG Orders End to Most Marijuana Arrests and Prosecutions, Mexico Coca Plantation Discovered, More... (2/24/21)

14 hours 15 minutes ago

A North Dakota marijuana legalization bill passes the House, Nebraska medical marijuana advocates demand action from the legislature, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Minnesota Marijuana Legalization Bill Wins Second House Committee Vote. The House Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee voted to approve a marijuana legalization bill, House File 600, on a 7-5 vote. That's the second committee to approve the bill in the past week. It now heads for a third vote in the House Workforce and Business Development Finance and Policy Committee.

New Jersey Attorney General Orders End to Marijuana Possession, Small-Time Distribution Arrests. In the wake of Governor Phil Murphy's (D) signing into law three bills that set up a legal marijuana marketplace, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal on Monday ordered police to immediately stop arresting people for possessing less than six ounces of weed or distributing up to an ounce. He also ordered prosecutors to immediately dismiss charges for any pending marijuana offense that is no longer illegal under state law. Although Grewal had issued guidance urging an end to marijuana arrests and prosecutions after voters approved a legalization referendum in November, police still made 6,000 pot arrests since then. Now, no more.

North Dakota House Approves Marijuana Legalization Bill. The House voted Tuesday to approve a marijuana legalization bill, HB 1420. Some lawmakers said they voted to approve the bill because they feared if they didn't, voters would do it themselves through the initiative process. The bill now heads to the Senate. It would allow adults to buy up to 20 grams every two weeks, with purchases tracked. There is no provision to allow home cultivation.

Medical Marijuana

Nebraska Medical Marijuana Advocates Rally to Urge Support for Bill. Nebraska Families for Medical Cannabis held a rally at the statehouse Tuesday to urge legislators to pass a medical marijuana bill, LB 474. It is sponsored by Senator Anna Wishart (D-Lincoln), who was one of the leaders of last year's initiative that qualified for the ballot only to be disqualified by the state Supreme Court.

South Carolina Poll Has Overwhelming Support for Medical Marijuana. As legislators ponder whether to approve a medical marijuana bill this year, a new poll finds overwhelming support for it. The survey released by the advocacy groups SC Compassionate Care Alliance and Compassionate SC had support at 72%, with just 15% opposed.

International

Mexican Soldiers Discover 10-Acre Coca Crop in Guerrero. The Mexican military announced Monday it had discovered and destroyed a 10-acre coca crop growing in the southwestern state Guerrero. They also found a cocaine manufacturing lab nearby. It's the first time a coca crop has been found in the state, which is known for marijuana and opium poppy cultivation, but it's not the first time coca has been discovered being grown in Mexico. The army uncovered a coca field in the southern state of Chiapas in 2014.

psmith

Conspiracy Theorists Are Claiming The Snow In Texas Is 'Fake' And That It Was The Work Of Bill Gates

14 hours 35 minutes ago

Last month Texas was hit with the coldest temperatures for a generation, leaving millions without power and running water and completely blocking roads and the wider transport network. The weather is also thought to have left as many as 30 people dead.

However, despite this, conspiracy theorists have now claimed that the recent cold-snap in Texas was fake and all part of a wide government conspiracy. The ridiculous claims were made online and were met with curiosity, bewilderment and ridicule.

While it is highly unusual for snow to fall in the state famed for its hot temperatures, it is not unheard of. Despite this, the conspiracy theorists claim that the snow was fake and that they have proof to back it up.

One reason that has led them to beliving this is that people have noticed that when the snow is picked up and put to a flame, it doesn't melt as expected. Instead, it appears to burn.

One video put online by a Texan trying to melt the snow includes her commentary in which she claims the snow is 'fake' and sent by Microsoft founder and CEO Bill Gates. She says in the video:

"Thanks Bill gates for trying to f*****g trick us that this is real snow. You'll see its not melting and its going to burn. Snow don't burn. Snot f*****g melts. If I put it in the microwave it's going to melt."

I am obsessed with idiots in Texas thinking the snow is fake and a government plot pic.twitter.com/7F0hsLB3hB

— B.W. Carlin (@BaileyCarlin) February 22, 2021

The viral video soon had thousands of Texans, and others around the world trying to melt snow and see if their snow was indeed also 'fake'.

Another conspiracy theorist, Scott L. Biddle, said that the snow had been deliberately put there by President Joe Biden in order to carry out an attack on Texas. He wrote on Facebook:

"Joe Biden's 'Dark Winter' statement was not a random thought, it was a foreshadow of what was to come. Texas is the only state to have its own, entirely independent electric grid separate from the rest of the United States. This is warfare, an attack on Texas by altering the jet stream, seeding the clouds, and ultimately causing the storm that blacked out over 4 million people. Sound crazy? Too hard to believe? Believe it."

WTVR News meteorologist Mike Stone explained that the snow didn't melt due to a process known as sublimation, in which high temperatures move a solid object directly from a solid into a gas, as oppose to first entering a liquid stage. The black tinge is a result of the burnt lighter fluid gathering on the surface of the snow.

Scott L. Biddle's book about conspiracy theories has now been removed from Amazon. However, one must question whether it is really necessary to clamp down on conspiracy theories that are so outlandish and implausible, and that would only be believed by the most gullible individuals.

[h/t: I heart Intelligence]

Pen S

Pregnant Afghan Woman Sets Herself On Fire In Greek Migrant Camp After Her Move To Germany Was Halted

15 hours 12 minutes ago

A 26-year-old pregnant woman from Afghanistan, living in a migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, has set herself on fire after her move to Germany was halted at the last moment.

The woman, who has not been named, suffered burns to her face and was attended to by both medics and the fire service. She is now facing arson charges and will soon appear before a court.

She had been temporarily taken to the Hospital of Mytilene but has since been discharged. It is believed that she also received a full psychological evaluation while in hospital.

The woman, who has refugee status, was apparently blocked from moving immediately to Germany because she was eight-months pregnant. However, this right to move to the country has not thus far been halted indefinitely.

In September 2020, the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos burned to the ground, leaving as many as 13,000 people without shelter. The Greek Migration Minister, Notis Mitarachi, said that the fires had been started by migrants because they were quarantined due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the camp. After the fire, many were moved into temporary tents and have now been relocated to other refugee camps or moved abroad.

Conditions in the migrant camps on the island of Lesbos have been described as grim by many observers.

Glatz-Brubakk, a child psychologist with doctors without borders, told an investigation:

"It is living in this constant nightmare of insecurity and uncertainty that is causing children to break down. They don't think it's going to get better. 'I haven't slept for too long, I've been worrying every minute of every day for the last year or two' — when you get to that point of exhaustion, falling asleep and never waking up again is more tempting than being alive."

He added:

"They've lost hope that they will ever be treated with dignity, that they will ever have their human rights, that they will be able to have a normal life. Living in a mud hole as they are now takes away all your feeling of being human, really."

Greece currently has 50,000 refugees living in the country but in 2015 alone, as many as 1 million passed through the country on route to the rest of Europe. The influx of refugees was mostly due to the fallout of the Syrian Civil War. There have also been other peaks in refugees entering Greece since 2015, in part due to the opening of the Turkish side of the border at the behest of Turkish leader Recep Erdogan.

[h/t: Greek City Times]

Pen S

What We Want: A Just Transition to Clean Energy

20 hours 28 minutes ago

Every person and every community has a right to breathe clean air, live free from the threat of toxic pollution, access healthy food, and be part of the prosperous clean energy economy of tomorrow.

You agree, right?

We thought you might.

The path to that better future is in sight, too – but in this instance, the journey is as important as the destination.

That’s why, when we say we want a “just transition” to clean energy, it’s vital to know exactly what we’re talking about.

Luckily, the pitch is simple: We want a fair shift to an economy that is ecologically sustainable, equitable, and just. It’s the getting there that’s going to take some work – and we need you with us, every step of the way.

A just transition isn’t just about energy itself. It’s about equity. It’s about power. It’s about community. It is about building a bigger, broader climate movement.

And in this moment, with the COVID-19 pandemic pulling the curtain even further back on systemically racist policies and disparate medical treatment, it’s about creating a new, better way forward for all of us.

With a new president and a new Congress, we have the chance to think big and act boldly. To confront the climate crisis threatening all of our futures. To get workers and families devastated by the pandemic back on their feet. To finally face the racial injustice destroying dreams and lives across the country.

But it’s not going to happen on its own. A just transition to a better, more sustainable tomorrow for all is going to take all of us.

Community Led

For decades, the climate movement has, to some extent, prescribed action from above, advocating for what’s right for communities that many activists themselves were not a part of.

The intentions were nothing but good, of course – but at the same time, not enough climate activists were asking themselves what qualified them to dictate the best interests of persons and communities with whom they shared little life experience.

That’s why, for our transition to a renewable energy economy to be truly just, we must advance solutions that meaningfully involve and value the voices, lived experience, and positions of frontline and fenceline communities.

Who better than the impacted persons and communities themselves to determine the right path for action that will affect them directly?

Clean Electricity is Key

The transition to a just, inclusive, and climate-sustainable economy will create millions of well-paying and safe jobs while improving public health outcomes for all – starting with those most immediately in need of them.

It’s no secret that low-income households and Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities are more likely than more-affluent and whiter communities to live in proximity to polluting industries like oil refineries, coal-fired power plants, and pipeline infrastructure, leading to greater exposure to pollution from burning fossil fuels and chemicals leaching into the water table.

So what do we do about it?

We push for 100 percent clean, renewable electricity by 2035 for the whole country.

And how do we do that?

We advocate loudly for a national Clean Energy Standard (CES), as well as expanded energy storage tax credits, which are essential to building a reliable, efficient, and sustainable electrical grid powered by renewables.

A national CES would require utilities to gradually increase the share of renewable and carbon pollution-free electricity in their energy mix, ideally until they reach 100 percent clean electricity – and if we have any shot at keeping temperature rise to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, as targeted in the Paris Agreement, we need to get there by 2035.

Beyond the electricity sector itself, transitioning to 100 percent clean electricity is essential to decarbonization across our entire economy, according to Vox:

Clean electricity is the backbone of the energy transition — the critical piece that all the other sectors will slot into. Not only will getting to 100 percent clean electricity directly cut more than a quarter of US carbon pollution, it will also enable large parts of our transportation, building, and industrial sectors to run on clean power. Powering as much of these sectors as we can with carbon-free electricity would allow us to cut US emissions 70 to 80 percent. It would, in short, solve a huge chunk of our climate challenge.

(Emphasis ours.)

Good Jobs – and Lots of Them

Here’s the best part: With a just transition, everybody wins.

A just transition to clean energy economy will make communities everywhere healthier and less polluted. And very importantly, it will bring new opportunities to both cities and rural areas.

At a time when millions are unemployed or underemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a just transition could help create millions of great jobs in numerous industries, both new and old.

For this to happen, however, major changes at the federal level will be required.

To be clear, this is a war we’re already winning – presently, “1 in 3 Americans lives in a city or state that has committed to, or achieved, 100% clean electricity,” according to researchers at UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation.

But this progress has also been piecemeal and entirely undertaken at either the state or local levels. We know that to change everything, we need everyone – and that means broad, bold action at the national level to create the change we need.

To effectively address climate change and create all of those jobs in the process will require an act of Congress. 

President Biden has been working to use the executive powers of his office to do what he can to move the needle on climate, and his words and actions are already creating real change. But we all know who has the “power of the purse.”

And there’s no getting around it: The changes we’re talking about here are an investment. In infrastructure. In communities. In new technologies. In efficiency measures. And so much more.

But the investment we’re talking here – in a safe, healthy, sustainable, and just future – is also one that could pay impressive dividends for Americans of every social class, color, gender, and creed. It has the potential to lift us all up together.

While it’s impossible to know exactly how many jobs would be created through the passage of a major climate plan by Congress – particularly in this moment of national health emergency – the plan President Biden has put forth suggests as many as 10 million jobs could be created.

These jobs would touch every sector of the economy. The clean, green economy of tomorrow isn’t just about solar panels and wind turbines (though, as a reminder, the first and third fastest-growing jobs in the US right now are in these fields). 

It’s about electric vehicles, and the electrical engineers, chemists, metal workers, and mechanics needed to build and repair them. It’s about HVAC systems, and all of those needed to update the old and install the new. It’s about insulation and efficiency. Improved public transportation. New ways of farming. And so much more.

Indeed, the Brookings Institution reports that a clean energy economy will primarily involve 320 unique occupations in three major industrial sectors: clean energy production, energy efficiency, and environmental management.

The bottom line is that jobs are a key feature in the shift toward a cleaner, more-equitable economy and a greener future – and we’ve never had a more opportune moment to make them a reality than this one. Right now.

What You Can Do

This is our climate moment. Our chance to end the climate crisis and build a healthy and just nation for all. We can’t afford to waste it.

It starts with the Biden Administration and Congress seizing the opportunity in front of them and rising to the challenge.

Together, we can build pressure on federal officials to take bold climate action and make sure all of our voices are heard in demanding a cleaner, greener, more-just future.

Are you ready to join the fight for a better tomorrow?

Learn more about the intersection of climate solutions, racial justice, and the possibility of this moment by attending one of our virtual Climate Reality Leadership Corps training events this year.

Our first will focus on climate action in the US, offering attendees the chance to learn more about how to stop fossil fuel expansion, accelerate just climate solutions, and drive federal climate action in the US.

This training is designed for US residents with content specific to US climate activism and sessions timed around US working hours. Register today.

We are excited to offer both a virtual Global Training, designed for climate activists around the world, and a virtual Latin America Training later in 2021. To be the first to know when registration for these trainings opens, click here.

climate changeclimate crisisclimate realityjust transitioneconomyClean Energyrenewablespublic healthjusticejobsBlacklow-income communitiesThe Climate Reality ProjectLead: The transition to a just, inclusive, and climate-sustainable economy will create millions of well-paying and safe jobs while improving public health outcomes for all.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/what-we-want-just-transition-clean-energy?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: What We Want: A Just Transition to Clean EnergyTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/37unkQ4
ipacha

Biden AG Nominee Addresses Marijuana, Mandatory Minimums; El Chapo's Wife Busted at Dulles, More... (2/23/21)

1 day 13 hours ago

Republcan legislators continue to try to wreak havoc with voter-approved marijuana initiatives, Judge Merrick Garland speaks out on marijuana and sentencing policy at his confirmation hearing, and more.

[image:1 align:left caption:true]Marijuana Policy

Biden Attorney General Nominee Sets Gentler Line on Marijuana, Cites Discriminatory Enforcement. Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden's pick as attorney general, said Monday that prosecuting people complying with state marijuana laws is not "a useful use of limited resources" and that there is "a question of prioritization about resources and discretion" around the issue. The comment as he responded to a question from Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) during Garland's confirmation hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also said during the hearing that the enforcement of marijuana prohibition is a "perfect example" of how the criminal justice system is racially biased and imposes disproportionate impacts on communities of color.

Montana GOP Bill Would Delay Voter-Approved Marijuana Legalization. Saying the voters' decision to legalize marijuana with a quick timeline "doesn't make any sense," State Representative Bill Mercer (R) has filed a bill that would push back the October 1 deadline until sometime in 2023. The bill is set to be heard this week in the House Business and Labor Committee.

Medical Marijuana

South Dakota Medical Marijuana Supporters Float Compromise to Forestall GOP Effort to Delay Implementation. Supporters of the state's voter-approved medical marijuana law are seeking to scale back Republican efforts to delay the implementation of the medical marijuana program. Lawmakers are considering House Bill 1100, which would form an interim committee to essentially rewrite the voter-approved law.  The proposal moves back the deadline for implementing much of the measure to next January during the 2022 legislative session.

Heroin and Prescription Opioids

Illinois Bill Would Give Protection to Overdose Victims. Representative Janet Yang Rohr (D-Napierville) has filed House Bill 3445, which would mandate that people seeking assistance for a drug overdose would not be criminally charged or prosecuted if they make a good faith effort to seek drug treatment.  It also includes language protecting parolees who overdose from having their status revoked in case of an overdose. The bill would expand a Good Samaritan law passed in 2012 to include the person who is actually overdosing.

Law Enforcement

El Chapo's Wife Busted on Drug Trafficking Charges at DC Airport. Emma Coronel Aispuro, the wife of imprisoned Mexican drug trafficking kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was arrested Monday night after flying into Dulles International Airport. She faces federal charges of conspiring to help distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana in the US. She is accused of helping El Chapo continue to run his enterprise while behind bars. She is a joint US and Mexican citizen.

Sentencing

Biden Attorney General Nominee Endorses Ending Mandatory Minimums. Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden's nominee for attorney general, said Monday that he agrees with a Biden administration policy of ending the use of mandatory minimum sentences. His comments came in response to a question from Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and can be heard at the 28-minute mark of the linked video.

psmith

Bruce Willis And His Wife Emma Heming Are So Much In Love That They Decided To Renew Their Vows On Their 10th Anniversary

1 day 14 hours ago

Die Hard star and movie legend Bruce Willis has renewed vows with his wife of ten-years Emma Heming.

The 65-year-old and the 41-year-old renewed their vows alongside their 2 daughters and Bruce's other children, which they say made the occasion so much more special.

The news was broken by US Weekly magazine.

Bruce and Emma recounted their love-story to the magazine. It started with Bruce saying that they were good friends before they got together and while they were both with other people. Bruce was previously married to actress Demi Moore with whom he has three other children, the oldest being 32. He said:

"We went on one date, on the Friday before Emma was getting ready to move back to New York, and then we fell mad crazy in love. When you think about where are you going to find that big love of your life, you seldom think it's someone you already know. You think it's someone you're yet to meet."

A post shared by Emma Heming Willis (@emmahemingwillis)

Emma said of the ceremony:

"It was so much fun having our two young daughters there. It was really for them, to be able to be flower girls, for them to be a part of something that feels kind of monumental. Ten years felt like a big deal and something fun to celebrate. It wasn't months of planning. There was no wedding planner. It was just me. We got the family together, and we had a great time."

She added that it was fantastic to have all of Bruce's children there, she said:

"Oh my gosh, when the older ones are around, the little ones want nothing to do with me or Bruce. The older ones, they're awesome, and they love being around their young sisters. The young ones just adore them. We're moving back west, actually, so that we can be closer to them. The girls are very happy about that."

Emma also explained her strong bond with Demi Moore:

"She welcomed me into her family like I welcomed her into ours. Again, I have so much respect for her. I have so much respect for how Bruce and Demi worked through their divorce to be able to put their children first. I learned so much from that and grew so much from watching that. It was important for her to be there. She was at our first wedding. I loved having her there again. I wouldn't do it without her."

A post shared by Emma Heming Willis (@emmahemingwillis) A post shared by Emma Heming Willis (@emmahemingwillis)

[h/t: Higher Perspecive]

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Starting the Conversation – Five Tips on How to Talk to Climate Deniers in Your Family

1 day 14 hours ago

From extreme weather events to record-breaking heat, the evidence of how our climate is changing is right in front of us, but some people still won’t see these signs for what they are.

As hard as it can be to hear denial when it comes from someone close to you, your relationship means you can play a key role in opening their mind in ways that scientists, media voices, or others can’t. You may not be able to change their mind in the moment – and in fact, really trying to change their mind will probably make them just shut down and harden their beliefs. But you can start the process of internal questioning that may lead your loved one to revisit – and maybe even ultimately abandon – their convictions themselves.

So, here are some tips on how to break the ice and talk to the climate deniers in your family.

1. Introduce the topic casually – and ask lots of questions

Instead of starting off strong, mention climate change in a casual conversation about an entirely different topic or by talking about current events, like extreme weather or an upcoming election. This makes it easier to transition into a conversation about a serious topic and gauge your family member’s interest in the topic.

Did your family member mention climate change in a conversation? Use this as an opportunity to get an understanding of what their concerns are and where they’re coming from.

Denial in many cases doesn’t start with what people believe about the science per se, but what they believe about themselves and who they are. Beginning by asking questions and truly listening to the answers tells your family member that you respect them as an individual, even if you disagree with their position.

Asking questions can help keep them open to the possibility of change, instead of making them feel lectured to or judged (and we all know how well we respond to that feeling). Asking questions can also invite them to ask themselves how they came to believe what they do and why they still do, opening the door to the possibility of changing their own mind themselves.

If you’re looking for more resources on responding to common misconceptions or climate denial arguments, we recommend some videos on Professor Katharine Hayhoe’s YouTube channel!

2. Find points of connection and similarity

Just the words “climate change” can create arguments with some climate deniers – but for many, their beliefs come from a place of concern or misinformation.

By asking questions and learning what their concerns are, it can help you find points of middle ground where you may agree. For example, wanting a better planet for your kids, safe drinking water, and concerns about extreme weather, like wildfires and hurricanes, in your area.

Finding this common ground gives you the chance to connect on a human level and can help your family member see the conversation as a discussion between two people on the same team, instead of an argument between opposing sides.

Then, in the conversation, validate their point of view when possible and focus on your shared experience and perspectives, connecting climate to what they know and care about. Seeing you do makes it much more likely they’ll listen to you with an open mind and your message can be heard.

This is a two-sided conversation and dialogue, after all, so using this connection allows for an opportunity to instill a sense of urgency about these connection points, hopefully inspiring your family member to learn more and take action.

3.Come prepared with evidence – but know when to back off

Making solid counterarguments against climate denial and misinformation starts with being informed. For many family members and loved ones, they may be living in an information or filter bubble online or off, where they only see and hear opinions and information that reflects their existing beliefs.

Getting someone to move past the talking points they’ve heard time and time again can be tough. The psychologist Adam Grant has a suggestion, though. Ask one simple question:

“What evidence would change your mind?”

If the answer is “nothing,” well there’s nothing you can say or do.

But if they come back with specifics, that’s when coming prepared with evidence and fact-checked news articles puts you in a good position to refute misinformation respectfully. It’s important to frame this information correctly, while not repeating their incorrect claims at the same time – by repeating their claims, it continues to reinforce their beliefs.

Say your loved one gets resistant – it’s bound to happen for many of us – it’s okay to back off. Know when things are getting tense and shift the conversation to something else can allow tensions to cool down. It can also help you avoid triggering what psychologists call “the backfire effect,” the phenomenon where people hearing evidence that disproves their closely held beliefs feel personally threatened – and only cling on tighter than ever.

4.Make it personal and share your story

First and foremost, it’s important to remember you’re talking to a family member, not a stranger or a coworker, and you have an existing bond with this person. Call on that family connection and make it personal. One of the best ways to do this is by sharing your climate story, why do you care about the climate crisis, how does it impact you, what are your concerns?

Many of us shared values with our family members as well as heritage. We all want the best for our loved ones, and simply agreeing on that is a start towards a larger climate conversation.

5.Continue the conversation

Don’t look at this as a one-time conversation and an argument you have to win then and there. In fact, this could be a long process of educating and challenging your family member’s existing misconceptions about the climate crisis. There’s a time and place for every conversation, so make sure not to push too hard (while also continuing to make progress!)

If all else fails, remind them that you care about them and that their concerns are valid – after all, the only way we will fight the climate crisis is by joining together.

Want to learn more about how to fight the climate crisis, starting with a conversation?

It’s clear we don’t have a moment to waste when it comes to taking climate action. But we have a unique opportunity this year to make a real change – starting with the White House and Congress.

This April, we’re hosting the Climate Reality Leadership Corps Virtual US Training, hosted by our founder and chairman, former Vice President Al Gore. We’ll be joined by renowned climate scientists, community leaders, justice advocates, and more – where you’ll gain the tools, skills, confidence to fight for climate action in the US and beyond.

Learn more and register today!

Climate DenialfamilydenierscienceconversationmisconceptionsThe Climate Reality Project6 Graphs to Better Understand the Climate CrisisTen Clear Indicators Our Climate is ChangingFive Ways to Take Climate Action While Stuck at HomeLead: We’ve all been there – sitting at the dinner table or on a family phone call, when a family member mentions that climate change “is all a hoax” or disputes the science. It’s a difficult conversation to have, even overwhelming at times – it is the future of the planet, after all.facebook link: https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/starting-conversation-five-tips-how-talk-climate-deniers-your-family?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=generalEmail Subject: Starting the Conversation – Five Tips on How to Talk to Climate Deniers in Your FamilyTwitter URL: https://bit.ly/2ZFV20K
ipacha

Trophy Hunter Who Poses With Heart Of Giraffe Says She Was Helping The Species

1 day 14 hours ago

People have been left shocked and outraged after pictures appeared online of a wildlife trophy hunter who killed a giraffe after being gifted the $ 2,000 'hunting experience' by her husband as a Valentine's day present.

South African Merelize Van Der Merwe, shared a picture online of her standing with the dead giraffe's body and then posing with the giraffe's heart which had been cut from the body. The giraffe was believed to be a full-grown adult about 17-years old. Giraffes can live to over 26 years in the wild.

Van Der Merwe said on her Facebook post:

"Ever wondered how big a giraffe's heart is? I'm absolutely over the moon with my BIG valentines present!!! … I'd waited years for my own perfect bull – the older a bull gets the darker he gets. I love the skin and the fact it's such an iconic animal for Africa… My wonderful husband Gerhardt knew this was my dream. I was like a child for two weeks, counting the days. Afterwards I was flooded with emotions."

When will this depravity end?!.https://t.co/EILN5xSA7K

— Keep The Ban (@Keeptheban_) February 21, 2021

"She was like a little girl" & couldn't wait to kill this giraffe. The heart was her "valentines present". Merelize van der Merwe née Nell looks for notoriety. An inferiority complex &/or narcissist? 🤦🏻‍♀️
🙏🏼RT#BanTrophyHunting@zbleumoon @AgainstHunting @JamesMelville @Nenagh9 pic.twitter.com/WsJrj9UuVN

— Xpose Trophy Hunting (@XposeTrophyHunt) February 15, 2021

Van Der Merwe then defended her actions to the UK Mirror newspaper, saying:

"If hunting is banned, animals will become worthless and will disappear. Hunting has helped bring back a lot of species from the brink of extinction. The only people protecting these animals are trophy hunters."

She also claimed that the meat was provided to local villagers and that by killing the animal it will make way for younger healthier animals to take its place. She now says that she plans to use the skin of the animal to make a rug and that trophy hunting provided jobs for poor Africans. She went on to accuse animal-rights groups of 'acting like the mafia'.

Animal-rights organisation, Born Free, said in response to the killing of the giraffe:

"Trophy hunting is a cruel throwback to a colonial past, and the targeting of particular animals (usually those with the most impressive traits such as the biggest tusks or the darkest manes) disrupts animal societies and has knock-on effects for populations and ecosystems that we are only just beginning to understand."

There are approximately 68,000 giraffes still left in the wild. Their total number has declined by 40% in the last 30 years, mostly as a result of habitat destruction and hunting.

[h/t: I heart Intelligence]

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Tesla Has Made More Profit From Bitcoin This Year Than It Did From Car Sales In 2020

1 day 15 hours ago

Photo: PA Images

It has been revealed that car company Tesla has made more profit from its 2021 investments in cryptocurrency Bitcoin than it has from all of its car sales in 2020 combined.

The company, owned by the world's richest man, Elon Musk, purchased $1.5 billion of the cryptocurrency in February this year, which resulted in the cryptocurrency gaining in price. This means that if Tesla has held on to all the Bitcoin it purchased, it will have made more than $930 million in profit. Last year car sales brought in Tesla just around $72 million in profit.

The current rate for 1 Bitcoin is $56,000, an all-time high.

Tesla's overall stock price has also risen, meaning that it is now valued higher than financial giants Mastercard and Visa combined.

Musk tweeted:

"Having some Bitcoin, which is simply a less dumb form of liquidity than cash, is adventurous enough for an S&P500 company."

Dan Ives, an equity analyst at Wedbush Securities, said of the huge profits:

"Based on our calculations, we estimate that Tesla so far has made roughly $1 billion of profit over the last month from its Bitcoin investment given the skyrocketing price of Bitcoin, which now tops a trillion of market value. Tesla is on a trajectory to make more from its Bitcoin investments than profits from selling its EV cars in all of 2020."

He added:

"While the Bitcoin investment is a side show for Tesla, it's clearly been a good initial investment and a trend we expect could have a ripple impact for other public companies over the next 12 to 18 months."

Simon Peters, a cryptocurrency analyst at eToro, told The Independent newspaper, that:

"Despite being criticised only this week as a bubble waiting to burst and an economic sideshow, it has yet again proved its detractors wrong… today's milestone demonstrates Bitcoin's growing power as it looks to disrupt the traditional financial landscape."

Tesla is not the only major business that is delving into the world of cryptocurrency and Bitcoin. The Bank of America has revealed that it is opening up a cryptocurrency unit helping individuals invest wisely in the new technological and financial phenomenon, and US bank Morgan Stanley has stated it too will be looking to make large investments into Bitcoin. How long the Bitcoin price will rise in the long-term remains to be seen, but the fact that major financial institutions and senior business-people are backing the cryptocurrency bodes well for it. Some analysts have even predicted the price could rise as high as $100,000 or $200,000 per Bitcoin.

Join the following websites and apps to get free #BTC and ways for passive income.


#UnbankYourself #Cryptocurrencies #PassiveIncome

[h/t: UNILAD]

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Video Shows Dog Blinded By Diabetes Seeing His Owner Again Following Surgery

1 day 18 hours ago

It is not widely known that diabetes in both dogs and cats is a growing issue. What is often not realised though, is that diabetes can have a devastating impact on animals' eyesight, just like it can when unmanaged in humans.

Thankfully, in some cases, this eyesight loss, often attributed to cataracts, can be resolved with surgery. This was the case for Irish Terrier, Duffy, whose owners feared he had lost his eyesight forever.

Duffy was just 8-years-old when his owners realised that something wasn't right. Frequent urination was the first sign, but a shock really emerged when Duffy suddenly went blind.

Duffy's owner, Benjamin May, wrote on Reddit:

"Within about 3-5 months he went from a totally normal 8 year old dog to a dog who was completely blind… It broke my heart seeing this dog I grew up with, who I see as a very good friend…running into things, not being able to recognize me…just struggling."

At this point, Duffy's diabetes was still undiagnosed. After the vet discovered the problem, the first thing they did was get him on medication for the diabetes. They then went to work in restoring his eyesight. The operation to remove the cataracts was a complete success and Duffy could once again see his owners and the world around him.

The moment Duffy could see again and was reunited with Benjamin was caught on camera and then posted on YouTube. The video has now been viewed more than 16 million times and shows Duffy in a fit of delight.

Duffy will now take medication for the rest of his life to manage his condition and Benjamin hopes that it will mean other dog owners will look out for the signs and symptoms of diabetes in dogs, such as excessive water drinking and urination, weight loss and lack of appetite, and misty eyes.

Benjamin told the Huffington post:

"Obviously he's still diabetic so he still needs to receive an insulin injection twice a day but the surgery to repair his eyes was a total success and he hasn't developed any problems or complications with his eyesight."

Animal Eye Care state on their website just why it is so important to catch diabetes early, they state:

"Diabetic dogs can live healthy lives. Unfortunately, a common complication of diabetes in dogs is cataracts (cloudy lenses). In fact, 75% of dogs develop cataracts and blindness in both eyes within 9 months of being diagnosed with diabetes. The cataracts develop very quickly—sometimes overnight! If untreated, the cataracts cause intraocular inflammation called Lens-Induced Uveitis (LIU) that harms the eyes by causing glaucoma (increased intraocular pressure). If the LIU is uncontrolled and glaucoma develops, cataract surgery might not be possible."

[h/t: Animal Channel]

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Shocking Pictures Show How Badly Texas Was Affected By The Record Breaking Cold Weather

2 days 9 hours ago

These images show just how crazy the recent wintry weather in Texas has been and just how much it has impacted people's lives. Images include roads completely blocked from snow and ice, freezing water emerging from broken pipes, frozen water in toilets, ice emerging from faucets, and frozen lakes. Not to mention one individual, who soon regretted licking a frozen metal pole.

The cold spell which brought cold-temperatures not seen in the state for generations, is already being linked to the deaths of 21 people, including most recently an 11-year-old boy who was found dead in his bed after their heating was cut off.

There has also been vast disruption to electricity and water supplies, due to the fact that much of the Texas infrastructure is not built to handle such low temperatures. It is believed that as many as 14 million people are without running water and the authorities have advised people to boil the water before consuming it in order to kill off any biological contaminants. Electricity is also still cut off for millions of homes.

Some scientists have blamed climate change as being a potential significant factor in the freezing temperatures. Paul Beckwith, a climate system scientist in Ottawa, is one of those pointing the finger at the movement south of the polar jet-stream. Traditionally the polar jet-stream is held in place by the contrast in temperatures between the Arctic and more southernly latitudes, as the Arctic has heated up due to global warming this contrast has lessened, meaning that the cold weather can drift southwards, unleashing freezing temperatures on previously mild climes.

Beckwith says:

"What we're seeing this year is an extreme example of what happens when the jet stream trough goes really deep southward. I think it's a rock-solid case, but it might take a bit of time for the science to catch up and find all the details."

This was Houston, Texas on February 15, 2021. Unreal. pic.twitter.com/QOSDIMikVI

— Daniel Gotera (@DTGoteraKHOU) February 17, 2021

Don’t walk on the highway. It is too dangerous. Drivers could lose control and hit you. #ATXtraffic #txdotwx pic.twitter.com/3XDSWCd0XM

— TxDOT Austin (@TxDOTAustin) February 16, 2021

Note to self: Don’t park under water lines during historic winter storms in Texas. 🥶

This is in the parking garage of Mosaic Dallas in downtown Dallas. pic.twitter.com/1eQn2L3QkB

— Travis Herzog (@TravisABC13) February 18, 2021

This is how cold it is at my Apartment.

As a Texan, yes, I'm certainly not built for this. I don't even care. pic.twitter.com/FMt8imglJp

— 𝐓𝐇𝐎𝐌𝐀𝐒 𝐁𝐋𝐀𝐂𝐊 ☩ (@ThomasBlackGG) February 16, 2021

It’s so cold in Texas homes that fish tanks are frozen. pic.twitter.com/IRuDjpG5Af

— Cleavon MD (@Cleavon_MD) February 18, 2021

please appreciate this photo of my dad standing on top of our frozen pool in dallas, measuring the thickness of the ice with a tape measure 😂 #DallasWeather #dfw pic.twitter.com/DanZ9fpRjc

— diana✨ (@xdianarose) February 17, 2021

Stay safe y'all
Frozen faucet at my rental 😧😬❄️ #drip #frozenpipes #houwx #houstonfreeze #houstonpoweroutage #houstonweather pic.twitter.com/mIygHVrfu5

— mb (@michaelbrom) February 17, 2021

Y’all ever seen frozen toilet water pic.twitter.com/WypZBjnMMK

— Ms. Young Professional (@MsYoungProfess) February 16, 2021

Can confirm my hot tub is frozen. pic.twitter.com/wOvqQW8XJC

— A. Money (@amalaz95) February 15, 2021

Winter Apocalypse Vibes pic.twitter.com/gFNdbOP9WK

— 𝐓𝐇𝐎𝐌𝐀𝐒 𝐁𝐋𝐀𝐂𝐊 ☩ (@ThomasBlackGG) February 16, 2021

Seems the slopes are open in West Dallas... #dallasaf pic.twitter.com/HS8h256L9E

— Central Track (@Central_Track) February 18, 2021

From our inbox: “No power, no heat. This is inside an apartment hallway in Dallas Texas.” pic.twitter.com/l7dUTYu4cy

— SixBrownChicks (@SixBrownChicks) February 17, 2021

Just a little frozen. #TexasWinterStorm2021 #TexasWeather #texasblizzard2021 pic.twitter.com/YeYpHafBsA

— ☀️ (@diabloquerico) February 16, 2021

My plants in Bell County, Texas 😭

Our sidewalk and driveway are glare ice. Hope everyone is staying h o m e#TexasWeather pic.twitter.com/N7hQAAauqn

— Camille Crutcher (@camillemaaae) February 11, 2021

Texas, right now... #TexasBlackout #TexasFreeze #TexasWinterStorm2021
Rick Perry pic.twitter.com/rPOCcrwiUv

— Triquiñuela (@Triquiuela5) February 18, 2021

Water stored in the bathtub froze solid last night. That's how it's going in Dallas. pic.twitter.com/cJdUMDT6pN

— Brandon Friedman (@BFriedmanDC) February 16, 2021

My Mom’s place in Texas right now...#TexasWeather #texaswinterstorm pic.twitter.com/fbhzp9Xfen

— Kevin S. Gillespie (@KevinSGillespie) February 15, 2021

No one
Texas right now. #TexasFreeze #TexasWeather #Snowmageddon2021 pic.twitter.com/5t588Is5PS

— #bitcoin$53,674 (@peter52303863) February 15, 2021

Here is the fun from this morning 🐾 ❄️ Not too cold for Trip 🐾🐾😂☕️☕️❄️🙌🙌🌲 #winterstorm2021 #texaswinterstorm #TexasWeather #texassnow #TexasBlackout #texas #sanantoniosnow2021 #sanantoniotx #sanantonio #StayHome pic.twitter.com/KEBV2EwuPP

— Laura Dougan (@LauraDougan210) February 15, 2021

[h/t: I heart Intelligence]

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Family Of 11-Year-Old Boy Who Died In Frozen Trailer In Texas Launches $100 Million Lawsuit Against Energy Provider

2 days 10 hours ago

An 11-year-old boy has lost his life in Texas after he froze in his home during the extremely cold weather that hit the state last week.

Cristian Pavon Pineda was found dead in his bed next to his brother, who survived. It is thought that electricity and heating had been cut-off due to the weather. The family has now launched a $100 million lawsuit against the energy provider ERCOT for failing to give appropriate guidance to customers.

The death of the boy is among 30 others in the state who have lost their lives over the last week. During the weather outage, as many as 14 million people were left without running water and as many as 4.5 million customers of ERCOT were left without power and heating. Many others were left with astronomical domestic electricity bills, some as high as $17,000, after the energy providers cranked up their prices.

On a GoFundMe page set up by the boy's family, stating:

"Due to low temperatures seen in the Conroe area, this family went without electricity for two days. The early morning of February 16 dropped to 12 degrees. Cristian was found lifeless. We are trying to raise funds to be able to transfer the body to Honduras. His wish was to see his grandparents again and that is what the mother wants to fulfill, please help with whatever you can in order to hopefully be able to achieve this, God bless you."

The fundraiser has raised almost $90,000.

In another tragedy, a grandmother and three children died in a house fire after they started a fire to stay warm when their power was cut-off. Their deaths are being blamed by their family on the electricity companies being unprepared. Vanessa Kon, the childrens' aunt, told reporters:

"We don't know what happened. We don't know why the lights went out like that. The city should have been prepared for it. Why was the power off? If the power wasn't off, this wouldn't have happened. This is a tremendous loss to my brother, their father, to all of us, and we are trying to live and deal with this unbearable pain."

Joe Biden has declared a state of emergency in Texas but says that he will not travel immediately to the state. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said in a statement:

"He's also very mindful of the fact that it's not a light footprint for a president to travel to a disaster area. He does not want to take away resources or attention. And we're going to do that at an appropriate time in coordination with people on the ground​. C​ould be as soon as this week."

[h/t: I heart Intelligence]

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