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Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Many scholarships, grants and other financial assistance given to low-income college students are usually offered on the premise that those students are already receiving federal aid to help pay tuition. But a growing number of colleges are finding more low-income students are being flagged by the Department of Education during the bureaucratic process of verifying income eligibility for federal aid, and that those students are not completing the application process as a result. College administrators are concerned that much-needed aid is being left on the table by frustrated and discouraged students who've given up on the cumbersome process of applying for financial aid. Financial aid experts call this retreat "verification melt," and many college administrators fear their neediest students may ruin their chances of earning college degrees and improving their long-term economic prospects. read more


Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Dallas Morning News published this story about Beto O'Rourke's speech at a Dallas Church: Senate hopeful Beto O'Rourke on Friday questioned why a black Dallas resident was shot by a police officer while in his apartment. Oddly, yesterday, Texas Senator Ted Cruz also decided to publicize O'Rourke's speech. Read the comments on Cruz's Twitter feed. Many appear confused by what Cruz meant by posting the video with the first comment speculating that Cruz has decided to vote for O'Rourke. read more


Wednesday, September 05, 2018

An unnamed senior Trump official has said members of the administration are working to frustrate parts of the president's agenda to protect the country from his "worst inclinations". In a New York Times editorial, the author said President Trump's "amorality" and "impulsiveness" had led to ill-informed and reckless decisions. Mr Trump labelled the anonymous writer "gutless" and the newspaper as "phony". His press secretary said the mystery writer was a "coward" who should quit. The opinion piece comes a day after excerpts of Bob Woodward's book on the Trump White House suggested that his top officials have been engaged in an "administrative coup d'etat" to protect the nation from the president, including removing key documents from his desk before he has a chance to sign them. read more


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Popular oat cereals, oatmeal, granola and snack bars come with a hefty dose of the weed-killing poison in Monsanto's Roundup, according to independent laboratory tests commissioned by [Environmetal Working Group] EWG. These new findings come days after a California jury awarded $289 million to a school groundskeeper who claimed Roundup gave him lymphoma. EWG's tests found glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, in all but two of 45 samples of products made with conventionally grown oats. More than two thirds of the samples had glyphosate levels above what EWG scientists consider protective of children's health with an adequate margin of safety. read more


Comments

Now up to 25 dead. We can have bad fire seasons in MT, but we can rely on winter to snuff out the fires.

Nulli, you have some good points. People continue to expand development into forested lands, increasing the risk of death and property loss due to wildfire. I am not familiar with best management practices for land owners living in forested areas in CA, but I have heard their activity is limited due to CA law (e.g., thinning, removing lower branches, brush removal etc.). Is this correct?

We also have 100+ years of fire suppression, removal of old growth forest which were more resilient to wildfire, and limited logging operations (largely thanks to the misguided efforts of "environmentalists"). So, yeah, environmental policies are part of the problem. I should note concerning Trump's comments blaming CA, and as Gal noted in the other fire thread, the vast majority of forested land in CA are managed by the US forest service.

But disregarding climate change as a primary driver of increased wildfire activity has little scientific base as far as I know. The research has shown that observed decreases in both the total summer precipitation amounts and the number of rain days is the primary driver of area burned by wildfire (Holden et al., 2018, PNAS). We also see increases in vapor pressure deficit from spring to fall over much of the western US, including California (Ficklin and Novick, 2017, JGR.). Vapor pressure deficit can be thought of as the atmosphere's ability to dry the land surface but also works to disrupt the physical processes which drive precipitation.

Also interesting (but unfortunate and hinted at by Snoofy in #5) is the expected transition of forested land to savannah or grassland moving into the future due to wildfire and climate change. While mature conifers can somewhat tolerate reduced precipitation and increased vapor pressure deficit, seedlings are much more sensitive. So, when stands experience large disturbance like wildfire, mature trees burn and are replaced by seedlings which can't survive the current climate. So they are replaced by vegetation more suited to dryer conditions (i.e., grasses, shrubs and likely invasive species) (Simeone et al., 2018).

Sorry for linking to scientific papers where only the abstract is available (I wish scientific publications were more accessible to the public, but I digress). This research is relatively new and has not been modified via media for public dissemination. But you get the point.

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