Author Archives: richardbrenneman

David Horsey: Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition — or President Trump

An homage to Monty Python from the editorial cartoonist of the Los Angeles Times:


And for those unfamiliar with the reference, here’s an excerpt from the 22 September 1970 episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, one of the greatest shows ever to come from Old Blighty:

Chart of the day II: EU asylum seekers increase


From Eurostat, which reports:

During the second quarter of 2016 (from April to June 2016), 305,700 first-time asylum seekers applied for international protection in the Member States of the European Union (EU), up by 6% compared with the first quarter of 2016 (when 287,100 first-time applicants were registered).

With nearly 90,500 first-time applicants between April and June 2016, Syrians remained the main citizenship of people seeking international protection in the EU Member States, ahead of Afghans (50,300 first time applicants) and Iraqis (34,300).

These quarterly data on asylum in the EU come from a report issued by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union.

They represent the three main citizenships of first-time asylum applicants in the EU Member States over the second quarter 2016, accounting for almost 60% of all first time applicants.

Six in ten applied for asylum in Germany

During the second quarter 2016, the highest number of first-time applicants was registered in Germany (with almost 187,000 first time applicants, or 61% of total first time applicants in the EU Member States), followed by Italy (27,000, or 9%), France (17,800, or 6%), Hungary (14,900, or 5%) and Greece (12,000, or 4%).

Among those Member States with high numbers of asylum seekers, numbers of first time applicants in the second quarter 2016 more than doubled compared with the previous quarter in Greece (+132 %) as well as in Hungary (+118%), and rose notably in Poland (+65%) and Spain (+37%). In contrast, decreases were recorded in particular in the Nordic Member States — Denmark (-59%), Finland (-53%) and Sweden (-42%) — as well as in the Netherlands (-47%), Belgium (-44%) and Austria (-22%).

Headline of the day: Tossing a bone to Trump

Pun intended.

From the London Daily Mail, the estranged hubby of Hillary’s closet pal is at it again:

America’s toughest prosecutor demands Anthony Weiner’s cellphone records after reveals his sexting relationship with girl, 15

  • Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has subpoenaed the disgraced congressman’s cellphone records
  • The  high school girl, whose name is being withheld by because she is a minor, revealed the online relationship began last January
  • The girl says she told him she was 15 and a sophomore in high school; messages confirm he knew she was underage 
  • In one message Weiner tells the girl ‘I would bust that tight p***y’ 
  • She claims Weiner asked her to undress and encouraged her to touch herself and say his name over video chat 
  • Weiner did not deny exchanging ‘flirtatious’ messages with the teen.  He declined to comment on the specifics

DroughtWatch: Another week, still no change

The latest graphic report on California’s seemingly endless dry spell from the United States Drought Monitor:


Chart of the day: Voting against, not for


From the Pew Research Center, which reports:

Asked in an open-ended format, 33% of Trump supporters and about as many Clinton supporters (32%) frame their vote at least partially in opposition to the other candidate, often using harsh language.

Among Clinton supporters, only her experience, at 32%, is mentioned as frequently as opposition to Trump. For Trump supporters, opposition to Clinton is among the most frequently cited factors for supporting their candidate, with nearly as many citing his status as a political outsider (27%) or his policy stances (26%).

This “opposition as support” takes place in the context of an election campaign that is far more likely to be viewed in negative than positive terms: Majorities of Americans describe themselves as “frustrated” and “disgusted” with the campaign, while few declare themselves “interested”, “optimistic” or “excited.” And these negative takes have only become more widespread over the course of the summer.

Jack Ohman: Get down!

What’s more threatening that a gun to a cop these days?


From the editorial cartoonist of the Sacramento Bee:


Soil takes in far less CO2 than previously thought

More grim climate change news, this time from the University of California, Irvine:

By adding highly accurate radiocarbon dating of soil to standard Earth system models, environmental scientists from the University of California, Irvine and other institutions have learned a dirty little secret: The ground will absorb far less atmospheric carbon dioxide this century than previously thought.

Researchers used carbon-14 data from 157 sample sites around the world to determine that current soil carbon is about 3,100 years old – rather than the 450 years stipulated by many Earth system models.

“This work indicates that soils have a weaker capacity to soak up carbon than we have been assuming over the past few decades,” said UCI Chancellor’s Professor of Earth system science James Randerson, senior author of a new study on the subject to be published Friday in the journal Science [$30 to read]. “It means we have to be even more proactive in finding ways to cut emissions of fossil fuels to limit the magnitude and impacts of climate warming.”

Through photosynthesis, plants absorb CO2 from the air. When trees and vegetation die and decay, they become part of the soil, effectively locking carbon on or beneath the Earth’s surface – keeping it out of the atmosphere, where it contributes to global warming. In their study, the researchers showed that since this process unfolds over millennia versus decades or centuries, we should expect less of this land carbon sequestration in the 21st century than suggested by current Earth system models.

“A substantial amount of the greenhouse gas that we thought was being taken up and stored in the soil is actually going to stay in the atmosphere,” said study co-author Steven Allison, UCI associate professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and Earth system science.

In recent years, scientists have used highly complex, computer-based Earth system models – compilations of code integrating data on the planet’s oceans, land surfaces, ice masses, atmosphere and biological systems – to draw conclusions about potential future changes in regional and global temperatures, drought, sea levels and other phenomena.

The models don’t explicitly provide the age of carbon in soils, but lead author Yujie He, a UCI postdoctoral scholar when the study was conducted, said that she and her colleagues figured out a way to improve them through simplification and the addition of dating methods well-established in the scientific community.

“Radiocarbon is an excellent tool for understanding soil dynamics,” He said. “Our study demonstrated that by working to reduce the complexity of Earth system models and combining observational data, we could get them to reveal surprising findings.”

The authors said that adding more carbon to that which has been in the ground for thousands of years is problematic given the pace at which the Earth seems capable of integrating it.

“If we waited 300, 400, 1,000 years, then that carbon – we think – would go into the soil. But that’s not going to help us in dealing with climate change, which is happening now,” Allison said. “You have to do a lot of risk assessment to say, well, what’s the actual cost of just waiting for that sequestration, and what policies should we implement to avoid that possible cost? That’s outside the realm of our actual work here, but what we can say is that the problems of carbon emission and climate change are worse than what we expected previously.”

Also contributing to the study were Susan Trumbore of the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Margaret Torn and Lydia Vaughn of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Jennifer Harden of Stanford University and the U.S. Geological Survey.