Midday open thread: 10% of Calif. buildings have high wildfire risk; 80 journalists killed in 2018
Today’s comic by Jen Sorensen is Mr. and Mrs. Perkins go gift shopping:
Nearly 23,000 delegates descended on the coal-tinged city with a deadline for hashing out the Paris Agreement “rulebook”, which is the operating manual needed for when the global deal enters into force in 2020.
This was mostly agreed, starting a new international climate regime under which all countries will have to report their emissions – and progress in cutting them—every two years from 2024.
• U.S. becomes one of the deadliest nations for journalists in 2018: Reporters Without Borders reported Tuesday that 80 journalists were killed around the world this year. Six of them were killed in the United States where journalists have also been assaulted thanks, at least in part, to the ferocious verbal hostility Donald Trump has expressed toward the press. Worldwide, 348 journalists are being held in prison, and 60 are hostages. In an RWB release earlier this year, the U.S. sank two more notches to 45th in the organization’s ranking of press freedom by nation. Four of the U.S. journalists were killed in the Capital Gazette shooting in Maryland, and two were killed covering Hurricane Alberto in North Carolina. The worst record was in Afghanistan, where 15 journalists were killed, followed by Syria (11), Mexico, (nine), Yemen (eight), the United States (six) and India (five).
Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the parking benefits that churches, synagogues, hospitals, colleges and other nonprofits offer their employees are now taxable. That’s causing headaches for nonprofit administrators trying to figure out complicated new rules that can require them to calculate everything from snow removal costs to what percent of spaces are used by employees. It will likely all end up with pastors losing their reserved spots and competing with the congregation for parking before services.
Mike Flynn made a last-minute pardon play to Trump and it cost him dearly. Heck, Trump might not even be president when Flynn’s next sentencin’ hearin’ comes round.
— Tea Pain (@TeaPainUSA) December 18, 2018
• Utah will in a few days have the toughest DUI standard in the nation: A blood alcohol level of 0.05. All other states remain at 0.08. “Despite decades of public campaigns and other efforts to discourage driving after drinking, survey and observational data show many people continue to do so,” Utah’s Department of Public Safety said in a statement.
• “Farout” dwarf planet is three-and-a-half times further from the Sun than Pluto: Scientists announced Monday that this is the most distant object ever discovered in the solar system. It is quite tiny, just 300 miles in diameter compared with Pluto’s 1477 miles:
More observations of this tiny world should help us pin down an important detail: its orbit. The strange orbits of similar distant objects have led astronomers to hypothesise that they might be pushed around by a huge planet on the outer edges of our solar system. This as-yet unseen object has been dubbed Planet X.
If Farout’s orbit is similarly warped, it might help us narrow down our search for the elusive planet. In fact, the astronomers found Farout while searching the sky for Planet X.
• More than a million buildings are at risk of wildfires in California: A Los Angeles Times investigation has found that hundreds of California communities have a high risk of being burned the way Paradise and Malibu were this year. More than 1.1 million structures, about 10 percent of the buildings in the state roughly stand in the highest-risk fire zones appearing on Department of Forestry and Fire Protection maps. This year, wildfires in California burned nearly 20,000 homes and killed more than 100 people.
On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Politico sets a small fire with yet another AOC story. Russia targeted Mueller. Excitement builds for Flynn’s sentencing, before it exploded. The Saudis are paying for the Yemen war like Mexico is paying for the wall. How was Flynn radicalized? With “stovepiping.”