California is on fire, again, and this time, we can’t blame Pacific Gas and Electric

Walbridge Fire (Fire 13-4)

FireShot Capture 268 - County of Sonoma Fire Incident Map - sonomacounty.maps.arcgis.com
Fig. 1. Screenshot of Sonoma County Fire Incident Map, taken by author on August 20, 2020, at 6:18 am EDT (3:18 am PDT).

The Walbridge Fire, formerly known as Fire 13-4, has visibly spread and a fire that had been reported along the coast between Jenner and Fort Ross now appears where it hadn’t before (figure 1). Evacuation warning areas now reach Occidental, which is a lovely little town in a lovely forested valley, and Forestville. I don’t yet have the full 72 hours of satellite photos that normally go into these gifs (figure 2) because the link had changed and I didn’t discover it until I went to check for this fire.
wus
Fig. 2. Western U.S. satellite imagery animation, as of 6:03 am EDT (3:03 am PDT).
You can see a wind flow around a high pressure area that was formerly a little farther west that looks like it should have been driving the fire in an opposite direction. The approaching cold front in the Pacific Northwest should also have drawn winds from south to north. This is belied both by the expansion of the fire itself and by the ash fall my mother reported. Also, to the extent the front had any impact at all, it will reverse as it passes.

The good news is that I haven’t received any further notifications for this fire since 4:23 pm EDT (1:23 pm PDT) yesterday, suggesting that the expansion of evacuation zones has stopped.

The bad news is that these fires are not being blamed on Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) but rather lightning, which is why there are so many of them, from 11,000 lightning strikes, around the state.[1]

In the short term, the sheer number of fires means firefighting resources are stretched thin, notably in part because prison labor is not available to help because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[2] In the longer term, it shows that California’s fire woes cannot solely be blamed on PG&E, which has been culpable in many fires, forced into bankruptcy as a result, and even criminally convicted in one fire,[3] although investigators cleared it in the 2017 Tubbs Fire which also afflicted Sonoma County.[4] California has suffered more drought than not my entire adult life, presumably due to the climate crisis; a single-minded focus on PG&E as culprit glosses over that the vegetation is tinder dry. The state needs rain, it isn’t getting it, and it can no longer be expected to get it.

Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow, and Sophia Bollag, “Can California handle this many wildfires at once? Crews and equipment already ‘depleted,’” Sacramento Bee, August 19, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article245083025.html


  1. [1]Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow, and Sophia Bollag, “Can California handle this many wildfires at once? Crews and equipment already ‘depleted,’” Sacramento Bee, August 19, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article245083025.html
  2. [2]Dale Kasler, Ryan Sabalow, and Sophia Bollag, “Can California handle this many wildfires at once? Crews and equipment already ‘depleted,’” Sacramento Bee, August 19, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article245083025.html
  3. [3]Howard Blume, “PG&E reaches $13.5-billion settlement with victims of devastating California wildfires,” Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-06/pge-settlement-fire-northern-california; Katherine Blunt, “PG&E to Plead Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Deadly California Wildfire,” Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-to-plead-guilty-to-involuntary-manslaughter-charges-in-deadly-california-wildfire-11584962649; Katherine Blunt, “PG&E’s Settlement With California Fire Victims Is Fraying,” Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-es-settlement-with-california-fire-victims-is-fraying-11586189889; Katherine Blunt and Russell Gold, “PG&E Knew for Years Its Lines Could Spark Wildfires, and Didn’t Fix Them,” Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-knew-for-years-its-lines-could-spark-wildfires-and-didnt-fix-them-11562768885; Katherine Blunt and Alejandro Lazo, “California Governor Threatens State Takeover of PG&E,” Wall Street Journal, November 1, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-governor-threatens-state-takeover-of-pg-e-11572641749; Peg Brickley, “PG&E Loses Challenge to Law Holding It Liable for Fire Damage,” Wall Street Journal, November 27, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-loses-challenge-to-law-holding-it-liable-for-fire-damage-11574910091; Russell Gold and Katherine Blunt, “PG&E Had Systemic Problems With Power Line Maintenance, California Probe Finds,” Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-had-systemic-problems-with-power-line-maintenance-california-probe-finds-11575338873; Richard Gonzales, “Federal Judge Imposes New Probation Terms On PG&E To Reduce Wildfire Risk,” National Public Radio, April 2, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/04/02/709248544/federal-judge-imposes-new-probation-terms-on-pg-e-to-reduce-wildfire-risk; Dale Kasler, “PG&E says its equipment may have caused a fourth California fire in the past week,” Sacramento Bee, October 30, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236841498.html; Dale Kasler, “PG&E makes deal to pay California wildfire victims. What it means for utility’s future,” Sacramento Bee, December 6, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article238138009.html; Dale Kasler, “PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter charges for Camp Fire, deadliest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, June 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article243571597.html; Dale Kasler, “California investigators blame PG&E for massive 2019 Kincade Fire in wine country,” Sacramento Bee, July 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article244283752.html; KPIX, “Federal Judge Calls PG&E ‘Recalcitrant Criminal,’ Delays New Probation Ruling,” May 28, 2020, https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2020/05/28/regulators-approve-pge-bankruptcy-plan-despite-safety-fears/; J.D. Morris, “PG&E bankruptcy judge won’t approve attempt to halt fire victim votes,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 7, 2020, https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/PG-E-bankruptcy-judge-won-t-approve-attempt-to-15185776.php; Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “Report Detailing PG&E’s Failures Raises New Hurdles for Utility,” New York Times, December 3, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/business/energy-environment/pge-camp-fire-report.html; Randi Rossman and Will Schmitt, “Broken PG&E tower discovered near origin of Kincade fire on The Geysers geothermal power property,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, October 25, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10216601-181/kincade-fire-starts-inside-the; Joe Ryan and Mark Chediak, “PG&E stock craters after ruling Tubbs fire suit can proceed,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, August 19, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/business/9924652-181/pge-stock-craters-after-ruling; Joseph Serna and Taryn Luna, “PG&E power lines caused California’s deadliest fire, investigators conclude,” Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-paradise-camp-fire-cal-fire-20190515-story.html; Kanishka Singh, “PG&E failed to inspect transmission lines that caused deadly 2018 wilfdfire [sic]: state probe,” Reuters, December 3, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-wildfire-pg-e-us-idUSKBN1Y70N8; Reis Thebault, Kim Bellware, and Andrew Freedman, “High-voltage power line broke near origin of massive California fire that forced thousands of evacuations,” Washington Post, October 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/24/fast-moving-wildfire-ignites-northern-california-wine-country-prompting-evacuations/
  4. [4]Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “PG&E Is Cleared in Deadly Tubbs Fire of 2017,” New York Times, January 24, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/24/business/energy-environment/pge-tubbs-fire.html

New York Attorney General arranges a massive fundraising boost for the National Rifle Association

National Rifle Association

I predict a huge fundraising bonanza for the National Rifle Association. Because, yes, that’s exactly how this works.

As for the lawsuit[1] itself? We’ll see. There’s a gaming aspect to court proceedings that reduces to a contest to see who can get what rules applied that leads me not to trust that even well-founded cases (which it sounds like this is[2]) will prevail. And we haven’t seen the NRA’s defense yet.

Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger, “New York attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA in suit accusing gun rights group of wide-ranging fraud and self-dealing,” Washington Post, August 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/nra-lapierre-ny-attorney-general/2020/08/06/8e389794-d794-11ea-930e-d88518c57dcc_story.html


Ridesharing

Preetika Rana, “Uber Ridership Fails to Recover as Pandemic Drives Another Big Loss,” Wall Street Journal, August 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-ridership-fails-to-recover-as-pandemic-drives-another-big-loss-11596744389


  1. [1]Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger, “New York attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA in suit accusing gun rights group of wide-ranging fraud and self-dealing,” Washington Post, August 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/nra-lapierre-ny-attorney-general/2020/08/06/8e389794-d794-11ea-930e-d88518c57dcc_story.html
  2. [2]Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger, “New York attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA in suit accusing gun rights group of wide-ranging fraud and self-dealing,” Washington Post, August 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/nra-lapierre-ny-attorney-general/2020/08/06/8e389794-d794-11ea-930e-d88518c57dcc_story.html

Pacific Gas and Electric responsible for yet another fire as another bad fire year looms

Pacific Gas and Electric

I was still in California for the Camp Fire that leveled most of Paradise, in the Sierra Foothills, and emitted so much smoke that you could barely see a block down the street even 100-150 miles away, where I was in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

I had moved away in time for the Kincade Fire, but my mother is still there. And I remember being very concerned by the possibility that like a fire a few years earlier, this fire might jump Highway 101 and start burning woodland that I don’t think has burned in decades and that extends to not really all that very far away at all from my mother’s house.

Evacuations were mandatory in much of Sonoma County and my mother was among those who had to leave. It was pretty much known at the time that Pacific Gas and Electric was responsible and my mother’s fury with the company is intense. She’s not alone[1] and the company is now a twice-convicted felon, for a San Bruno gas explosion[2] and for the Camp Fire.[3] It is also emerging from a bankruptcy largely provoked by its civil liabilities.[4] Now investigators have confirmed that the company was responsible for the Kincade Fire.[5]

And from what I can see from afar, it looks to me like yet another bad fire year in California.

Dale Kasler, “California investigators blame PG&E for massive 2019 Kincade Fire in wine country,” Sacramento Bee, July 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article244283752.html


  1. [1]Kevin Fixler, “From fierce winds to flames: How the Kincade fire made Sonoma County history,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, November 1, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/multimedia/10249729-181/how-the-kincade-fire-spread; Nathan Heller, “San Francisco’s Fire Season,” New Yorker, October 30, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/california-chronicles/san-franciscos-fire-season; Dale Kasler, “Can wildfire risk worsen? Northern California eyes more winds, another PG&E outage,” Sacramento Bee, October 28, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236718203.html; Dale Kasler and Hannah Wiley, “50,000 face evacuations in Sonoma County as Kincade Fire peril intensifies,” Sacramento Bee, October 26, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236685153.html; Randi Rossman and Will Schmitt, “Broken PG&E tower discovered near origin of Kincade fire on The Geysers geothermal power property,” Santa Rosa Press Democrat, October 25, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10216601-181/kincade-fire-starts-inside-the; Randi Rossmann and Will Schmitt, “Latest: Crews fighting to protect Windsor from approaching Kincade fire,” Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, October 27, 2019, https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/10227533-181/latest-winds-picking-up-in; Ryan Sabalow et al., “Kincade Fire forces evacuations and burns 84 square miles, as containment drops to 5%,” Sacramento Bee, October 27, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article236719068.html; Reis Thebault, Kim Bellware, and Andrew Freedman, “High-voltage power line broke near origin of massive California fire that forced thousands of evacuations,” Washington Post, October 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/10/24/fast-moving-wildfire-ignites-northern-california-wine-country-prompting-evacuations/
  2. [2]Jarod Cassidy, “PG&E Guilty of 6 Felony Charges in San Bruno Pipeline Explosion,” Thomas J. Henry, October 5, 2017, https://thomasjhenrylaw.com/blog/premises-liability/pge-guilty-6-felony-charges-san-bruno-pipeline-explosion/; Lyanne Melendez and Katie Marzullo, “Federal jury finds PG&E guilty of obstructing investigators,” KGO, August 10, 2016, https://abc7news.com/news/federal-jury-finds-pg-e-guilty-of-obstructing-investigators/1463352/
  3. [3]Katherine Blunt, “PG&E to Plead Guilty to Involuntary Manslaughter Charges in Deadly California Wildfire,” Wall Street Journal, March 23, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-to-plead-guilty-to-involuntary-manslaughter-charges-in-deadly-california-wildfire-11584962649; Katherine Blunt and Russell Gold, “PG&E Knew for Years Its Lines Could Spark Wildfires, and Didn’t Fix Them,” Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-knew-for-years-its-lines-could-spark-wildfires-and-didnt-fix-them-11562768885; Russell Gold and Katherine Blunt, “PG&E Had Systemic Problems With Power Line Maintenance, California Probe Finds,” Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-e-had-systemic-problems-with-power-line-maintenance-california-probe-finds-11575338873; Richard Gonzales, “Federal Judge Imposes New Probation Terms On PG&E To Reduce Wildfire Risk,” National Public Radio, April 2, 2019, https://www.npr.org/2019/04/02/709248544/federal-judge-imposes-new-probation-terms-on-pg-e-to-reduce-wildfire-risk; Dale Kasler, “PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter charges for Camp Fire, deadliest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, June 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article243571597.html; Joseph Serna and Taryn Luna, “PG&E power lines caused California’s deadliest fire, investigators conclude,” Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-paradise-camp-fire-cal-fire-20190515-story.html; Kanishka Singh, “PG&E failed to inspect transmission lines that caused deadly 2018 wilfdfire [sic]: state probe,” Reuters, December 3, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-california-wildfire-pg-e-us-idUSKBN1Y70N8
  4. [4]Howard Blume, “PG&E reaches $13.5-billion settlement with victims of devastating California wildfires,” Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2019, https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-12-06/pge-settlement-fire-northern-california; Katherine Blunt, “PG&E’s Settlement With California Fire Victims Is Fraying,” Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-es-settlement-with-california-fire-victims-is-fraying-11586189889; Dale Kasler, “PG&E makes deal to pay California wildfire victims. What it means for utility’s future,” Sacramento Bee, December 6, 2019, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article238138009.html; J.D. Morris, “PG&E bankruptcy judge won’t approve attempt to halt fire victim votes,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 7, 2020, https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/PG-E-bankruptcy-judge-won-t-approve-attempt-to-15185776.php; Ivan Penn and Peter Eavis, “Report Detailing PG&E’s Failures Raises New Hurdles for Utility,” New York Times, December 3, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/03/business/energy-environment/pge-camp-fire-report.html
  5. [5]Dale Kasler, “California investigators blame PG&E for massive 2019 Kincade Fire in wine country,” Sacramento Bee, July 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article244283752.html

But Elon Musk has a family to support!

There were updates last night.


Elon Musk

Instead, Elon Musk gets to manufacture automobiles, dig tunnels, and launch astronauts to the International Space Station. Seriously, how insane is this?[1]

I’m glad to see someone somewhat agrees with me, even if their objection is primarily to how money Elon Musk would be paid.[2]

I’m waiting for Musk-worshippers to wail about how he has a family to support, though.

Rupert Neate, “Tesla shareholders urged to oust Elon Musk over $55bn pay deal,” Guardian, June 30, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jun/30/tesla-shareholders-urged-to-oust-elon-musk-over-55bn-pay-deal


Palestine

I was beginning to think Binyamin Netanyahu’s promised de jure annexation announcement might come in the dead of night. But it appears there’s been a delay.[3]

Yousef Munayyer, “Liberal Zionism paved the Israeli right’s path to annexation,” +972, June 23, 2020, https://www.972mag.com/liberal-zionism-israel-annexation/

Salem Barahmeh, “Palestinians are fighting to dismantle apartheid, not just annexation,” +972, June 29, 2020, https://www.972mag.com/jericho-annexation-jordan-valley-apartheid/

Associated Press, “Netanyahu ally confirms delays in West Bank annexation plan,” Al-Ahram, July 1, 2020, http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/373408.aspx


Pandemic

In the ‘this should be brain-dead fucking obvious’ department:

I guess it isn’t.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “On kente cloth and appropriation,” Irregular Bullshit, June 9, 2020, https://disunitedstates.com/2020/06/09/on-kente-cloth-and-appropriation/
  2. [2]Rupert Neate, “Tesla shareholders urged to oust Elon Musk over $55bn pay deal,” Guardian, June 30, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jun/30/tesla-shareholders-urged-to-oust-elon-musk-over-55bn-pay-deal
  3. [3]Associated Press, “Netanyahu ally confirms delays in West Bank annexation plan,” Al-Ahram, July 1, 2020, http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/373408.aspx

An unfathomable breadth and depth of corruption, led by a black hole

United Kingdom

I would assume that something similar to what George Monbiot has described of the United Kingdom’s atrocities and cover-ups[1] is true of the United States. We know only the more shameless ones like Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, unauthorized migrants on the southern border, slavery, the American Indians, southeast Asia, and racist police. And it is certainly not like only Britain’s hands are dirty in Yemen.

I remember in my undergraduate career, whenever I had the temerity to imagine I had a handle of the breadth and depth of corruption in our system of social organization, I had only to kick over another rock to find it even more vastly deeper and broader. That’s worth remembering as we have a black hole presidency—the U.S. will not suddenly be “pure” when the delusional raging narcissist-in-chief, the racist authoritarian populist rapist, leaves office, whether or not replaced by the racist neoliberal rapist.

George Monbiot, “Lying In State,” June 21, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/06/21/lying-in-state/


Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “Endorsing a giant meteor strike in 2020.”

Rashawn Ray and Rebecca Shankman, “How COVID-19 is changing the gun debate,” Brookings, June 17, 2020, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2020/06/17/how-covid-19-is-changing-the-gun-debate/


Pacific Gas and Electric

Kanishka Singh, “PG&E says bankruptcy court approves its Chapter 11 reorganization plan,” Reuters, June 20, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pg-e-us-bankruptcy/pge-says-bankruptcy-court-approves-its-chapter-11-reorganization-plan-idUSKBN23R0SL


  1. [1]George Monbiot, “Lying In State,” June 21, 2020, https://www.monbiot.com/2020/06/21/lying-in-state/

Eviction can’t be the answer, but I guess it is

Recession

I previously noted that “[t]he self-righteousness and sense of entitlement is strong in these folks [landlords]”[1] and indeed they are evicting and harassing tenants by means both legal and illegal.[2]

Even if they can’t be evicted right now, if the courts are closed, the landlords are sending threatening emails, text messages, asking for rent, threatening to lock tenants out.[3]

They’re ruthless in the very ways I have heard so many times over the years that they are.

Nationwide, the coronavirus housing catastrophe is just beginning to pick up momentum. The true eviction cliff could come in August, after the federal $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits ends. Those benefits are helping tens of millions of households keep up with the rent. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already pledged not to renew these benefits.[4]

Eviction can’t be the answer, but I guess it is, even as housing really already wasn’t affordable for low income folks anywhere in the country,[5] making the burden of catching upon missed rent payments likely insurmountable.

Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction


Pacific Gas and Electric

After each name was read, the chief executive of PG&E Corp. solemnly answered: “Guilty, your honor.”

PG&E admitted its guilt Tuesday in Butte County Superior Court in connection with the Camp Fire, the second time in three years the state’s largest utility has been convicted of a felony.[6]

Pacific Gas and Electric pled guilty to “a count of felony involuntary manslaughter for each of the 84 victims and a single count of unlawfully starting a fire, for a total of 85 counts.”[7] The corporation is a repeat felony offender, but it seems very unlikely anyone is going to prison and it seems highly likely the company will be allowed to continue operating.

I had thought the consequences of a felony conviction were supposed to be rather more serious.

Dale Kasler, “PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter charges for Camp Fire, deadliest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, June 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article243571597.html


Housekeeping

So as I have begun to look seriously at housing options (because I think I may need to move next year), I’m seeing a situation around Pittsburgh and, for that matter, pretty much all around the country, in which there are four options:

  1. Affordable housing in desperately poor and likely dangerous neighborhoods. These are likely slums. I’m already unhappy with my present landlord on maintenance issues and these are neighborhoods I don’t even want to drive through at night (they’re fine during the day), let alone sleep in.
  2. Affordable housing in not so poor but white supremacist neighborhoods. This is pretty much the situation I’m in now. It’s quiet and I can sleep at night. Usually, the maintenance is pretty good (just not on a couple issues lately). But I hate seeing the guns. I hate seeing the Confederate flags. I hate seeing all the camouflage paint schemes. I hate seeing the “Blue Lives Matter” flags and signs expressing support for local police.
  3. Unaffordable housing in wealthier, better educated, and often gentrified neighborhoods. Here I find people with whom I can have intelligent conversations. But I can’t afford the rent.
  4. Unaffordable housing in fabulously wealthy neighborhoods, sometimes with fabulous views. Obviously not an option.

The other thing I’m increasingly sensing is that in Pittsburgh, renting generally marks one as poor: Houses can be bought for $300,000, so if you rent, you are either renting a very expensive apartment or you are poor. This bothers me because I am well aware that being poor marks one as a target for the police and I in fact go to great lengths to limit the appearance of being poor (the Uber and Lyft stickers on my car do not help).

I haven’t actually had any trouble with the police here but let’s just say it’s a sensitive point for me.


  1. [1]David Benfell, “When nothing happened next,” Not Housebroken, March 29, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/03/29/when-nothing-happened-next/
  2. [2]Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction
  3. [3]Rachel Garland, quoted in Associated Press, “Tenants Behind on Rent in Pandemic Face Harassment, Eviction,” U.S. News and World Report, June 14, 2020, https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/virginia/articles/2020-06-13/tenants-behind-on-rent-in-pandemic-face-harassment-eviction
  4. [4]Kriston Capps, “What Happens When the Eviction Bans End?” CityLab, May 29, 2020, https://www.citylab.com/equity/2020/05/pay-rent-eviction-ban-coronavirus-housing-crisis-landlord/612277/
  5. [5]National Low Income Housing Coalition, “Out Of Reach 2019,” 2020, https://reports.nlihc.org/oor
  6. [6]Dale Kasler, “PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter charges for Camp Fire, deadliest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, June 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article243571597.html
  7. [7]Dale Kasler, “PG&E pleads guilty to manslaughter charges for Camp Fire, deadliest in California history,” Sacramento Bee, June 16, 2020, https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article243571597.html

So many reasons for unrest

Pandemic

As a Guardian article notes, Donald Trump promised to revitalize the coal industry. Whatever efforts he made to that end, they were insufficient anyway. But the pandemic adds to workers’ woes in this region. Some will surely blame the lockdown, even as they lose the health insurance that would help to address COVID-19 related medical costs, that had already helped manage the medical costs they already bear.[1] Neither neoliberals nor environmentalists are addressing this and their failure to do so only reinforces my doubts that either neoliberals (the mainstream of the Democratic Party) or environmentalists really want be rid of Donald Trump.

Ian Lovett, Erin Ailworth, and Joe Barrett, “Minnesota Bolsters Law Enforcement as Protests Roil U.S. After George Floyd’s Death,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/george-floyd-protests-minneapolis-11590844180

David G. Savage, “Supreme Court rejects challenge to California limits on church crowds during pandemic,” Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2020, https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-05-29/supreme-court-california-church-crowds-pandemic

Michael Sainato, “The collapse of coal: pandemic accelerates Appalachia job losses,” Guardian, May 29, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/29/coal-miners-coronavirus-job-losses


Pacific Gas and Electric

If the California Public Utilities Commission wants to satisfy folks that regulatory capture is not involved in its decision to approve PG&E’s bankruptcy plan, it needs to explain exactly how it is that the judge’s ideas would hamper its flexibility in regulation.[2] That isn’t even the least bit clear.

KPIX, “Federal Judge Calls PG&E ‘Recalcitrant Criminal,’ Delays New Probation Ruling,” May 28, 2020, https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2020/05/28/regulators-approve-pge-bankruptcy-plan-despite-safety-fears/


George Floyd

A Wall Street Journal news alert (figure 1) caught my eye:
FireShot Capture 166 - WSJ News Alert_ U.S. Army Units Prepare for Possible Deployment to Mi_ - mail.google.com
Fig. 1. Screenshot of a misleading Wall Street Journal news alert.

In fact, the National Guard is being mobilized.[3] And yes, the difference matters.

My last blog post remains relevant.

Ian Lovett, Erin Ailworth, and Joe Barrett, “Minnesota Bolsters Law Enforcement as Protests Roil U.S. After George Floyd’s Death,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/george-floyd-protests-minneapolis-11590844180

Jon Queally, “Cornel West Says ‘Neo-Fascist Gangster’ Trump and Neoliberal Democrats Expose America as ‘Failed Social Experiment,’” Common Dreams, May 30, 2020, https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/05/30/cornel-west-says-neo-fascist-gangster-trump-and-neoliberal-democrats-expose-america


  1. [1]Michael Sainato, “The collapse of coal: pandemic accelerates Appalachia job losses,” Guardian, May 29, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/29/coal-miners-coronavirus-job-losses
  2. [2]KPIX, “Federal Judge Calls PG&E ‘Recalcitrant Criminal,’ Delays New Probation Ruling,” May 28, 2020, https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2020/05/28/regulators-approve-pge-bankruptcy-plan-despite-safety-fears/
  3. [3]Ian Lovett, Erin Ailworth, and Joe Barrett, “Minnesota Bolsters Law Enforcement as Protests Roil U.S. After George Floyd’s Death,” Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/george-floyd-protests-minneapolis-11590844180

Elon Musk needs to get (back) on his ‘meds’

Elon Musk

About the only sense to be made here is that Elon Musk appears anxious to restore capitalist power relations.[1] I am quite well aware that most psychologists are not fans of a medicinal approach, otherwise known as psychiatry. But when I see unhinged rants such as reported here,[2] all I can think is that this man needs to get (back) on his “meds.”

Kari Paul, “Elon Musk rails against ‘fascist’ shelter-in-place orders in Tesla earnings call,” Guardian, April 29, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/29/tesla-quarterly-earnings-coronavirus-shares


Pandemic

There is a new blog post entitled, “Donald Trump needs a scapegoat and the U.S. has gone to war over less.”

Joby Warrick et al., “Chinese lab conducted extensive research on deadly bat viruses, but there is no evidence of accidental release,” Washington Post, April 30 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/chinese-lab-conducted-extensive-research-on-deadly-bat-viruses-but-there-is-no-evidence-of-accidental-release/2020/04/30/3e5d12a0-8b0d-11ea-9dfd-990f9dcc71fc_story.html


  1. [1]Kari Paul, “Elon Musk rails against ‘fascist’ shelter-in-place orders in Tesla earnings call,” Guardian, April 29, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/29/tesla-quarterly-earnings-coronavirus-shares
  2. [2]Kari Paul, “Elon Musk rails against ‘fascist’ shelter-in-place orders in Tesla earnings call,” Guardian, April 29, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/apr/29/tesla-quarterly-earnings-coronavirus-shares

Bernie Sanders effectively endorses Donald Trump’s reelection

Bernie Sanders

No matter how you dress this up, Joe Biden will almost certainly be massacred in November. Which seems to be just fine with the neoliberals who fought not so much to defeat Donald Trump but to maintain their hold on the Democratic Party so as to defend neoliberalism.[1] Bernie Sanders’ withdrawal[2] ensures that Trump will be re-elected and that neoliberals will maintain their stranglehold. The latter will likely quietly consider this a win-win.

Sean Sullivan and Chelsea Janes, “Bernie Sanders to end his presidential campaign,” Washington Post, April 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bernie-sanders-to-end-his-presidential-campaign/2020/03/18/cf7a1824-4d18-11ea-9b5c-eac5b16dafaa_story.html


Pandemic

Reis Thebault, Andrew Ba Tran, and Vanessa Williams, “The coronavirus is infecting and killing black Americans at an alarmingly high rate,” Washington Post, April 7, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/04/07/coronavirus-is-infecting-killing-black-americans-an-alarmingly-high-rate-post-analysis-shows/


Pacific Gas and Electric

J.D. Morris, “PG&E bankruptcy judge won’t approve attempt to halt fire victim votes,” San Francisco Chronicle, April 7, 2020, https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/PG-E-bankruptcy-judge-won-t-approve-attempt-to-15185776.php


  1. [1]David Benfell, “How the neoliberal (usually known as Democratic) party may well lose in 2020,” Not Housebroken, December 7, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/12/07/how-the-neoliberal-usually-known-as-democratic-party-may-well-lose-in-2020/
  2. [2]Sean Sullivan and Chelsea Janes, “Bernie Sanders to end his presidential campaign,” Washington Post, April 8, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bernie-sanders-to-end-his-presidential-campaign/2020/03/18/cf7a1824-4d18-11ea-9b5c-eac5b16dafaa_story.html

Fire victims’ lawyers want a better deal from Pacific Gas and Electric

Pacific Gas and Electric

It seems that with the recent stock market crash, the value of Pacific Gas and Electric stock being offered fire victims may be less than expected, but the company pointed out “that its share price on Monday was higher than it had been, on average, during the two months prior to reaching a settlement with victims in December.” The lawyers for those victims want to renegotiate. Which means the bankruptcy deal is now in doubt. And it appears those victims have some leverage.[1] I’m certainly no fan of PG&E, but this sounds bogus to me.

Katherine Blunt, “PG&E’s Settlement With California Fire Victims Is Fraying,” Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-es-settlement-with-california-fire-victims-is-fraying-11586189889


Pandemic

When I posted the following tweet addressed to Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto and Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf, I realized two things:

  1. I have no defense against a charge of selective observation.
  2. A very large proportion of my passengers are Black and accordingly, I am frequently in areas predominantly populated by Blacks.

So my perception could be distorted and I chose to avoid singling out any particular group:

But it turns out that Blacks might well be suffering and dying from COVID-19 at disproportionate rates, in part due to poorer health care and worse health. Oh yes, and the data is at least being collected.[2]

And I guess I can’t be surprised[3] that Pennsylvania’s social distancing grade dropped from a B to a C-.[4] Not even one little bit.

Teghan Simonton, “Pennsylvania is getting worse at social distancing, data shows,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 6, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/pennsylvania-is-getting-worse-at-social-distancing-data-shows/

Vanessa Williams, “U.S. government is urged to release race, ethnicity data on covid-19 cases,” Washington Post, April 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/government-urged-to-release-race-ethnicity-data-on-covid-19-cases/2020/04/06/7891aba0-7827-11ea-b6ff-597f170df8f8_story.html


  1. [1]Katherine Blunt, “PG&E’s Settlement With California Fire Victims Is Fraying,” Wall Street Journal, April 6, 2020, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pg-es-settlement-with-california-fire-victims-is-fraying-11586189889
  2. [2]Vanessa Williams, “U.S. government is urged to release race, ethnicity data on covid-19 cases,” Washington Post, April 6, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/government-urged-to-release-race-ethnicity-data-on-covid-19-cases/2020/04/06/7891aba0-7827-11ea-b6ff-597f170df8f8_story.html
  3. [3]David Benfell, “As we cower in our apartments,” Not Housebroken, April 6, 2020, https://disunitedstates.org/2020/04/06/as-we-cower-in-our-apartments/
  4. [4]Teghan Simonton, “Pennsylvania is getting worse at social distancing, data shows,” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 6, 2020, https://triblive.com/local/regional/pennsylvania-is-getting-worse-at-social-distancing-data-shows/