Besides lava and ash, Hawaii volcano is pumping out ‘vog’
By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER
HONOLULU (AP) — Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island has had it all over the past three weeks: molten rock shooting toward the sky, lava oozing from the ground and ash clouds rising miles into the air.
You can also add “vog” to the mix.
Scientists say higher sulfur dioxide emissions recorded at the volcano’s vents in recent days are creating the potential for heavier than usual vog, or volcanic smog. So far, trade winds have been mostly blowing the gray haze offshore.
WHAT IS VOG?
Volcanic smog, or air pollution, is created by vapor, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide gas released from Kilauea. It reacts in the atmosphere with oxygen, sunlight, moisture and other gases and particles. In a matter of hours or days, it converts to fine particles that scatter sunlight, creating a haze that can be seen downwind of Kilauea, according to The Interagency Vog Dashboard, which is made up of Hawaii, U.S. and international agencies.
The U.S. Geological Survey said sulfur dioxide emissions from the volcano have more than doubled since the current eruption began.
Kilauea was belching 15,000 tons (13,607 metric tons) of the gas each day, up from 6,000 tons (5,443 metric tons) daily prior to the May 3 eruption. People living miles from the eruption are paying attention to the amount of noxious fumes pouring out of the volcano because it creates potential for more vog.
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH IMPACTS?
“Everyone is having symptoms now on some level,” said Dr. Josh Green, a state senator and emergency room physician who has been volunteering in communities where lava fissures have opened in neighborhoods.
Symptoms for generally healthy people can include burning eyes, headaches and sore throats. But those with asthma or other respiratory problems can end up hospitalized.
Those who are healthy, physically active and don’t smoke can usually tolerate basic symptoms, Green said, adding hospitals are seeing more patients with difficulty breathing.
Green’s mom, Natasha Green, who lives on the Kona side of the island, said the vog was particularly bad on Tuesday. “It makes it very hard to breathe,” she said, adding that her other symptoms include coughing and watery and stinging eyes.
She’s had to use an inhaler, which she doesn’t need when there isn’t vog. She’s a former smoker, “so that’s probably part of the problem,” she said.
WHO IS AFFECTED?
Vog can affect areas far from the volcano, including the western side of the Big Island and even other islands.
But lately, trade winds have been blowing most of the vog offshore. The National Weather Service said it expected trade winds to slow this weekend, creating hazardous air quality.
With trade winds, communities where lava fissures have opened and those downwind are the most affected.
Kilauea is erupting on Hawaii’s largest island, so there are plenty of areas that aren’t suffering from the effects of vog.
“My phone’s been ringing off the hook,” said Steven Businger, chairman of the University of Hawaii’s atmospheric sciences department. “A little old lady out of Minnesota wants to know if she should cancel her vacation — that kind of thing.”
He told her not to cancel because the vog was blowing away from her planned destination, the Big Island resort town of Waikoloa.
Businger also runs the Vog Measurement and Prediction Project. The website provides current vog conditions for various sites around the Big Island.
IS THE VOG WORSE NOW?
With an increase in emissions, there’s more vog, said Lisa Young, environmental health specialist for the state health department’s Clean Air Branch.
Bruce Corker, a Kona coffee farmer, has noticed. When he looks down from his farm at Kailua Bay, it’s hard to make out the water because it’s the same gray color as the sky.
“For me, it’s just visual,” he said. “I don’t feel any effects on my lungs. I don’t smell anything.”
Corker, who grew up in Southern California, compares vog to “Los Angeles-like smog.”
Retired photojournalist Chris Stewart says there’s one good thing about vog: It intensifies the colors of a sunset.
But it depends on how thick the haze is. “Some days it’s thin enough you can see the sun passing through,” he said. “But other days we just go inside because we can’t see it at all.”
Stewart said he’s grateful to be living on the Big island’s west side — away from the volcano.
“I almost feel guilty enjoying our sunsets,” he said.
Associated Press journalists Audrey McAvoy and Sophia Yan contributed to this report.
What kind of country would tear apart and lock up families fleeing violence in their homelands? Ours
By The Times Editorial Board
Opinion May 08, 2018
When a desperate family fleeing violence in their homeland arrives at the border, what kind of heartless and inhumane nation would separate the parents from the children, prosecute the parents for crossing into the country illegally and send the kids off to a youth detention center?
Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions revealed Monday that the departments of Justice and Homeland Security have agreed to take a zero-tolerance approach to people who cross into the U.S. along the southwestern border outside an official point of entry. Homeland Security, which oversees the Border Patrol, will refer every adult entrant to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution, while children (even mere infants or toddlers) will be held separately without charge — but left to their own devices to seek asylum or otherwise avoid deportation.
In a prepared speech to state law enforcement officials, Sessions said, “If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple…. If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you as required by law. If you don’t like that, then don’t smuggle children over our border.”
Leave it to Sessions to describe parents seeking to migrate with their families as child smugglers.
It is technically a crime to enter the United States outside official points of entry. But under international treaties that the United States has signed, people fleeing their home countries can legally enter a country and ask for asylum anywhere. That’s why so many of the people “apprehended” by the Border Patrol have actually sought out the agents and turned themselves in. Prosecuting those migrants would violate international law.
Leave it to Sessions to describe parents seeking to migrate with their families as child smugglers.
Granted, most of those crossing the border illegally are not families seeking refuge. But lawlessness, intimidation and over-the-top violence in parts of Central America are changing the composition of border-crossers, decreasing the share of solo men searching for work in favor of families searching for safety.
In his speech, Sessions claimed that the U.S. was seeing a “massive influx of illegal aliens along our southwest border,” adding: “We are not going to let this country be invaded. We will not be stampeded.” In fact, the number of people detained at the border is still far, far below the level prior to the last recession, and remains near last year’s unusually low rate. It has risen in recent months in keeping with seasonal patterns.
The new policy is not just cruel and in violation of our treaty obligations toward asylum seekers, it’s unworkable. The number of court cases would increase roughly 500% without a commensurate increase in judges, prosecutors or lock-ups.
The Obama administration had a far more affordable and humane solution, which was to have asylum seekers monitored by case managers but not detained. The Trump administration abandoned that approach and is now trying to deter families from entering the country by promising to break them up. That’s just an excuse for making their situation more desperate than it already is, and we shouldn’t stand for it.
Christian activist: ‘God will curse the children and grandchildren of those who opposed Trump’
By Sky Palma
Posted on April 4, 2017
In an appearance on the Jim Bakker Show, “conservative activists” Don and Mary Colbert relayed a dire warning for anyone who opposed Donald Trump in the years and months before the 2016 election.
According to Mary Colbert, people who opposed Trump are destined to be cursed by God — and that includes their children and grandchildren.
“It’s not that Donald Trump is all that perfect of a guy,” Colbert said.
“We all know he’s not. And we know that he’s not necessarily perfect in every way that we would like. That’s not how God works. He works through the ones he chooses. We don’t choose them.”
“All we have to do is recognize them and when you recognize a chosen one and you have the discernment to know that they’ve been chosen and know that that’s the will of God, then your life will be blessed.”
“And if you come against the chosen one of God, you are bringing upon you and your children and your children’s children curses like you have never seen. It puts a holy fear in me.”
Christian podcaster: ‘God is using Trump to put Obama and Hillary in jail for treason’
Former English teacher makes edits to Trump letter and sends it back to the White House
Christian author: Trump is under attack from ‘multidimensional Luciferian advanced beings’
Woman harasses black family for BBQing, then sobs and plays the victim when cops show up
Christian podcast host: Royal wedding was a plot to promote ‘blending of the races’
Jim Bakker urges followers to buy his condos because ‘NASA says they’ll be safe in the End Times’
Chelsea Handler: ‘Sarah Sanders doesn’t deserve pity — she lies to us every day’
Christian author says he received ‘spiritual confirmation’ that Trump has been ‘transformed into a man of God’
Identity of Spanish-hating NYC white guy revealed — he’s a Trump donor
Idiot with a handgun and American flag crashes Texas school shooting scene: ‘Make American great again’
Tomi Lahren slammed immigrants on Fox News, so a genealogist looked up her family history
Christian radio host Bryan Fischer: ‘Christianity is the only religion with First Amendment rights’
Doctor admits Trump wrote that 2015 letter praising his ‘physical strength and stamina’
Christian radio host: ‘Nothing about Trump indicates a lack of good morals’
Fox’s Neil Cavuto to Trump: ‘How can you drain the swamp if you keep muddying the waters?’
Young Christian preacher: ‘Atheists drink coke all day and are addicted to video games’
After condemning Bill Clinton for Monica Lewinsky, Franklin Graham says Trump’s sex scandals are ‘nobody’s business’
‘Christian only’ town gets smacked with the reality of housing discrimination laws
White guy freaks out when kitchen employees speak Spanish, threatens to call ICE
Christian evangelist Josh Feuerstein: ‘The Second Amendment originated in the bible’
Ann Coulter thinks Israel-style sniper killings on the Mexican border are a good idea
Michael Cohen once threatened The Onion for making fun of Trump: ‘Your actions do not go without consequence’
Rick Santorum dismisses outrage over 1,500 missing migrant children: ‘It’s all hyperbole’
Betsy DeVos green-lights schools to call ICE on undocumented children
Veterans Group Blasts Trump’s Memorial Day Remark As ‘Most Inappropriate’ Ever
VoteVets calls it “appalling” to offer happy greetings and self-promotion on a day meant to honor the fallen.
By Mary Papenfuss
A veterans group has slammed Donald Trump’s self-congratulatory tweet Monday as the “most inappropriate” Memorial Day comment ever made by an American president.
Trump boasted about unemployment rates and the economy in his tweet and said that dead veterans would be “very happy and proud” about what he considers his accomplishments. (Both the jobs numbers and the economy began markedly improving during the Obama administration.)
VoteVets, which says it represents some 500,000 veterans and their families, bashed as “appalling” the president’s self-promotion as well as his decision to wish families of fallen veterans a “happy” day. The progressive group was also furious at the Republican Party’s effort to essentially fundraise off Memorial Day by offering a 25 percent discount on official Trump campaign merchandise ― “Use Code: Remember.”
Many individual veterans and family members of those who sacrificed their lives in service piled on the president on Twitter as well. Actor Mark Hamill scoffed at Trump envisioning his approval rating among the dead.
The president has been nicknamed “Cadet Bone Spurs” by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Iraq War veteran, because he obtained five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, including one for “bone spurs.”
Military Report: UFOs May Have Attempted Rendezvous With Giant Undersea Object
Offering No Evidence, Trump Says Mueller’s Investigators ‘Will Be Meddling’ In Midterms
“Justice Gorsuch just predictably destroyed labor rights American workers.” SCOTUS decision, ‘carte blanche’ for corporate abuse. People are being detained for not speaking English.
I hereby demand that “so called” presidents are barred from hereby demanding things that they have no right to demand from government officials. And I further hereby demand that we create laws to stop presidents who think they are kings from ever being allowed to complete their terms of office.
US: 4% of the world’s population; 42% of the world’s guns; 31% of mass shootings; 216 school shootings since Columbine.
Harley-Davidson took its tax cut, closed a factory, and rewarded shareholders
In September 2017, House Speaker Paul Ryan traveled to a Harley-Davidson plant in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, to tout the Republican tax bill, which President Trump would sign later that year. “Tax reform can put American manufacturers and American companies like Harley-Davidson on a much better footing to compete in the global economy and keep jobs here in America,” Ryan told workers and company leaders.
Four months later and 500 miles away in Kansas City, Missouri, 800 workers at a Harley-Davidson factory were told they would lose their jobs when the plant closed its doors and shifted operations to a facility in York, Pennsylvania — a net loss of 350 jobs. Workers and union representatives say they didn’t see it coming.
Just days later, the company announced a dividend increase and a stock buyback plan to repurchase 15 million of its shares, valued at about $696 million.
It’s a pattern that’s played out over and over since the tax cuts passed — companies profit, shareholders reap the benefits, and workers get left out. Corporate stock buybacks hit a record $178 billion in the first three months of 2018; average hourly earnings for American workers are up 67 cents over the past year. Harley-Davidson is an American symbol, and President Trump has trotted it out as an example of business success. But as it’s getting its tax cut, it’s outsourcing jobs and paying shareholders.
The tax cuts aren’t saving jobs at Harley-Davidson
It wasn’t just Ryan who made promises to Harley-Davidson. Trump in February 2017 met with Harley-Davidson executives and union representatives at the White House. He thanked the company for building in America and predicted its operations would grow.
“I think you’re going to even expand — I know your business is now doing very well, and there’s a lot of spirit right now in the country that you weren’t having so much in the last number of months that you have right now,” Trump said. He added that impending changes to “taxing policies,” health care, tariffs, and trade would only make things better.
The tax cut, at least, came through. The Republican tax bill, which slashes the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, is giving Harley sizable tax savings this year. The company estimates its effective tax rate — the amount it pays — will be 23.5 percent to 25 percent this year, about 10 percentage points lower than it would have been without the tax bill.
That’s a significant savings: The company makes about $800 million to $1 billion in pretax profit, according to Seth Woolf, an analyst at North Coast Research.
Just over a month after Trump signed the tax cuts into law, the Kansas City closure was announced. Workers found out when they arrived at the plant that morning: They were kept in the hallway, informed that the factory would be shut, and sent home for the rest of the day without pay. The union had no advance warning, said Greg Tate, a staff representative for the United Steelworkers District 11, which represents about 30 percent of the Harley-Davidson plant’s workers. (Harley-Davidson and the two unions that represent most of its production employees last year terminated their 22-year partnership agreement.)
“We really never had any belief that they were going to shut the Kansas City facility down,” Tate said. The announcement was “the first anyone found out about it.”
The company will cut 800 jobs at the Kansas City plant when it closes by the fall of 2019 and says it expects to add 450 full-time, casual, and contractor positions in its York facility — a net loss of 350 jobs.
The median household income in York is much lower than in Kansas City, and Tate said that hiring a casual workforce there — temporary workers brought in to boost production during peak season — will be easier and cheaper for Harley.
“This is a decision we did not take lightly,” Harley said in a statement. “The Kansas City plant has been assembling Harley-Davidson motorcycles since 1997, and our employees will leave a great legacy of quality, price, and manufacturing leadership. We are grateful to them and the Kansas City community for their many years of support and their service to our dealers and our riders.”
Harley-Davidson is also expanding overseas
Meanwhile, Harley-Davidson is opening up a plant in Thailand, where it plans to start production later this year. (The company also owns and operates facilities in India and Brazil, and it is closing a facility in Australia.) The company says the Thailand plant isn’t meant to outsource jobs but to boost its international business and avoid tax and tariff burdens. Trump’s proposed steel tariffs could pose a threat to Harley and add an estimated $30 million to its costs, and the European Union has threatened to impose a tariff on the company’s motorcycles in retaliation.
Union leaders, however, have suggested that the Thailand plant opening and the Kansas City plant closing are tied together.
“Part of my job is being moved to York, but the other part is going to Bangkok,” Richard Pence, a machinist at the Kansas City plant, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this month when in Washington as part of a meeting between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and members of the Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, which represents about 70 percent of the Harley-Davidson workers being laid off.
The Kansas City plant closing will cost Harley up to $200 million through 2019, according to Bloomberg’s estimates, and should result in annual savings of $65 million to $75 million after 2020.
Tate, from the steelworkers union, suggested the tax savings Harley reaped from the GOP bill might have actually freed up the cash for it to go ahead with the US restructuring plan now. “They have the capital now to move Kansas City, to shut it down,” he said. “All of that money really came from the tax cut plan, so it kind of had the opposite effect of what it was supposed to do.”
Woolf, the analyst, said he wasn’t sure that was the case. “I think what this reflects is that they’re finally coming to grips with the fact that the US market is contracting,” he said. Harley-Davidson has been struggling in recent years — sales have declined as its core demographic, baby boomers, ages and as millennials shy away from big bikes. The decline has been particularly acute in the US: Harley-Davidson’s motorcycle sales declined 8.5 percent in the United States in 2017 and 3.9 percent abroad.
The tax cuts let Harley reward shareholders
Meanwhile, since the tax cut, the company is managing to reward shareholders. Just days after revealing the decision to shutter the Kansas City plant, the company announced a dividend increase and a stock buyback plan to repurchase 15 million of its shares, valued at about $696 million.
On a call discussing the company’s first-quarter results in April, chief financial officer John Olin indicated that shareholder primacy will continue. “Beyond what we invest in the business, we will return and continue to return all excess cash to our shareholders,” he said. The company this year shut the media out of its annual shareholders meeting.
Harley-Davidson is one of a string of companies to announce major share buybacks since the tax bill was passed in December. Apple in early May said it would buy back $100 billion of its shares. The tech conglomerate Cisco in February said it would put an additional $25 billion toward a stock buyback. Troubled mega-bank Wells Fargo in January announced about $22 billion in buybacks. Pepsi announced a $15 billion buyback, Amgen and AbbVie $10 billion, and Google’s parent company Alphabet $8.6 billion.
Harley-Davidson isn’t the only company to shutter a US plant since the tax cuts were passed in December. The same day Kansas City workers found out their plant was closing, about 900 workers at an Electrolux plant in St. Cloud, Minnesota, found out the facility they were working in would be shutting down too. The Swedish home appliance company will consolidate its freezer production in South Carolina, where Joe Baratta, a representative for International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local 623, told me starting wages are lower.
He described a recent trip to Home Depot. “I see products that we were building here last year that say ‘Made in China’ with the Frigidaire name on it, they’re already in stores,” he said. “It’s a tough pill to swallow to go into every store in town looking at a product and saying, ‘There’s 150 jobs we lost. There’s another 200 jobs we lost.’”
Since Harley-Davidson announced its Kansas City plant closure in January, Trump — who made a big deal of saving jobs at a Carrier plant in Indiana in 2016 — hasn’t had anything to say about it, even when asked. IAM President Robert Martinez Jr. sent a letter to the White House asking him to save the Kansas City facility in March.
“For decades, hard-working Machinists Union members have devoted their lives to making high-quality, American-made products for Harley,” he wrote, later adding, “America’s working men and women deserve better than being thrown out onto the street. Our nation deserves better.”
An IAM spokesperson said Martinez met with White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on April 11 about the Harley closure, and he promised to follow up with the company’s CEO. The union had not received an official response from the president.
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