Brazil’s Amazon rainforest is burning at a record rate, research center says

CNN reports: Fires are raging at a record rate in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, and scientists warn that it could strike a devastating blow to the fight against climate change. The fires are burning at the highest rate since the country’s space research center, the National Institute for Space Research (known by the abbreviation INPE), began tracking them in 2013, the center said Tuesday. There have been 72,843 fires in Brazil

How improving tools make it easier to discern climate change’s impact on specific weather events

MIT Technology Review reports: A week after heat waves toppled records across Europe late last month, scientists were ready to declare that climate change almost certainly drove the deadly hot stretch. On August 2, while the same heat wave was turning Greenland’s ice sheets into slush, World Weather Attribution reported that decades of greenhouse-gas emissions had raised the odds of such extreme weather by a factor of as much as

Migrant families would face indefinite detention under new Trump rule

The New York Times reports: The Trump administration unveiled a regulation on Wednesday that would allow it to detain indefinitely migrant families who cross the border illegally, replacing a decades-old court agreement that limited how long the government could hold migrant children in custody and mandated the level of care they must receive. The White House has for more than a year pressed the Department of Homeland Security to find

In Denmark, bewilderment and anger over Trump’s canceled state visit

The New York Times reports: The astonishment in Denmark over President Trump’s apparent desire to buy Greenland turned to bewilderment and anger on Wednesday after the American leader abruptly scrapped a state visit because the Danes have no desire to sell. The cancellation was a rare snub of Denmark’s head of state, Queen Margrethe II, who had extended the invitation to the president and would have hosted him and the

Trump quotes conspiracy theorist claiming Israelis ‘love him like he is the second coming of God’

The Washington Post reports: President Trump went on Twitter on Wednesday to quote a conservative radio host and known conspiracy theorist who praised him as “the greatest President for Jews” and claimed that Israelis “love him like he is the second coming of God.” In his tweets, Trump thanked Wayne Allyn Root for “the very nice words.” Root has promoted numerous conspiracy theories, including that former president Barack Obama was

On the campaign trail with Elizabeth Warren

Julia Ioffe writes: There is a story Warren has been telling lately, one that explains how she learned the words that have come to define her career—first as a law professor, and more recently as a politician: mortgage, foreclosure, bankruptcy. Long before she encountered them as cold legal terms, those words had a more powerful meaning as the ones whispered late at night by her parents in Oklahoma. This was

Hand gestures point towards the origins of language

There are few one-offs in life on Earth – rarely can a single species boast a trait or ability that no other possesses. But human language is one such oddity. Our ability to use subtle combinations of sounds produced by our vocal cords to create words and sentences, which when combined with grammatical rules, convey complex ideas.  There were attempts in the 1950s to teach chimpanzees to ‘speak’ some words,

Music: Lars Danielsson — ‘Liberetto’


Climate change advancing faster than scientists previously thought

Naomi Oreskes, Michael Oppenheimer, and Dale Jamieson write: Recently, the U.K. Met Office announced a revision to the Hadley Center historical analysis of sea surface temperatures (SST), suggesting that the oceans have warmed about 0.1 degree Celsius more than previously thought. The need for revision arises from the long-recognized problem that in the past sea surface temperatures were measured using a variety of error-prone methods such as using open buckets,

Tiananmen in Hong Kong

Orville Schell writes: At first, when demonstrators began spilling into city streets, citizens were surprised by their audacity and struck by their idealism, openness, and élan as they confronted the might of the Chinese Communist Party. The demonstrators’ demands were limited and answerable, their behavior civil, and their marches orderly. Yet as their numbers grew, they allowed themselves to entertain a heady sense of possibility—a hope that this time they

Facebook and Twitter deployed by China to spread disinformation in Hong Kong

The New York Times reports: China has adopted Russia’s playbook for spreading disinformation on Facebook and Twitter, deploying those tactics in its increasingly heated information war over the protests that have convulsed Hong Kong. In recent weeks, Facebook and Twitter accounts that originated in China acted in a coordinated fashion to amplify messages and images that portrayed Hong Kong’s protesters as violent and extreme, the two social media companies said

How the auto industry is challenging Trump’s effort to weaken pollution regulations

The New York Times reports: The White House, blindsided by a pact between California and four automakers to oppose President Trump’s auto emissions rollbacks, has mounted an effort to prevent any more companies from joining California. Toyota, Fiat Chrysler and General Motors were all summoned by a senior Trump adviser to a White House meeting last month where he pressed them to stand by the president’s own initiative, according to

Israel’s ban on Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib lays bare its oppressive reality

Hagai El-Ad writes: If Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) had been allowed by Israel to visit her family in the Palestinian village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa, she might have been able to see with her own eyes the nearby highway that Israel built on confiscated Palestinian land — a highway that makes commutes easier for Israelis but is almost completely off-limits to Palestinians. If Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) had been allowed

Using an anti-Semitic trope, Trump accuses American Jews of ‘disloyalty’ by voting for Democrats

The Guardian reports: Donald Trump used an apparently antisemitic trope when accusing Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats as showing “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty”. The remarks came as part of a barrage of disparaging comments that threaten to re-ignite an ongoing feud with Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib. They seemed to refer to a perception that Jewish Americans have a dual

Another Trump supporter arrested for threatening to commit mass murder

Miami New Times reports: Washington state resident Eric Lin was not shy about his love for Adolf Hitler. According to a criminal complaint filed Friday, Lin enjoyed referencing the Third Reich in writing: He apparently sent a litany of Hitler-referencing death threats to a Hispanic woman in Miami and got himself arrested last week after he planned to wire a man $10,000 to beat her up, hatched a plot to

Music: Lars Danielsson — ‘Sonata in Spain’