Aug. 14

Boston Herald on the FBI’s leadership:

The news that the FBI fired Peter Strzok broke yesterday, and with that we can begin to see big-picture truth take shape about the bureau’s role in the Hillary Clinton investigation as well as the Russia investigation.

It does not look good for the leadership at the FBI. 2016 did not bring out the best in them.

Director James Comey was fired, as was Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and now Strzok, an FBI senior counterintelligence agent, has been terminated after being demoted earlier. He was a lead investigator on the probe into Clinton’s email server in 2016 before moving on to Mueller’s team.

Add to that Lisa Page, who was also on the Mueller team, and who was demoted before resigning earlier this year, and Bruce Ohr, who was stripped of his title as associate deputy attorney general.

Page had been texting anti-Trump messages back and forth with Strzok, and Ohr had been in contact with the authors of the Steele dossier shortly after the election.

FBI chief lawyer James Baker also stepped down amid allegations that he’d been involved in leaking classified information about the Steele dossier.

FBI agents need to keep their politics and biases out of their day-to-day behavior and certainly away from their workflow. The infractions that have continually come to light since the election of Donald Trump have served to degrade the public’s trust in the nation’s leading law enforcement agency and may have seriously impeded the duly elected president of the United States in performing his duties as described in the Constitution.

We can begin rebuilding the credibility of the FBI as soon as those who’ve acted deleteriously have been removed.



Aug. 14

The Orange County (California) Register on climate change:

Even — or especially — among those who agree human-caused global warming is happening, the footnote has been the understanding that no individual weather event or catastrophe is caused by the overall temperature rise.

Until this summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

It’s not just hot here in California, where it’s always hot in July, August and September. It’s not just Death Valley, where German tourists always flock to feel the heat they (formerly) couldn’t at home.

It was hovering around 90 degrees Fahrenheit at the Arctic Circle in Norway and Sweden last week. In July, the hottest temperature ever recorded in Scotland was hit — 92 degrees in a village near Glasgow. It was 106 in Japan, also that nation’s highest ever.

And while it’s often in the triple digits in the air here, the Pacific Ocean had never in 102 years of daily water-temperature readings seen the Pacific Ocean hit 78 degrees at the pier in La Jolla where the Scripps Institute is — until this summer. Rising ocean temperatures are another feature of global warming, and will radically alter our formerly famous Mediterranean climate insofar as night-time air temperatures go. Unlike most of the rest of the country, when California has a 95-degree summer day, it’s never been unusual for the outdoors temp to cool to the mid-50s by late evening. Felt anything like the upper 50s lately? Up and down California, last month saw the highest minimum temperature statewide of any month since 1895, rising to 64.9, from the redwood forest to the Coachella Valley, Ron Lin and Javier Panzar report in the Los Angeles Times.

And so, yes, to answer many Californians’ understandable question, climate change is contributing to the unprecedented wildfire seasons we are seeing this year and last. Global warming is without a doubt a culprit in the suddenly year-round fire danger we face throughout our state. The higher temperatures mean dried-out trees, forest undergrowth and grasslands. Those plants burn more easily when a spark of any kind ignites them — mostly, of course, also man-made sparks, but now with drier kindling to deal with. And the snowmelt and river levels are lower, too, because of climate change.

The San Francisco Chronicle cites a report in which researchers at Columbia University and the University of Idaho showed that human-caused warming had dried out our forests so much that fire seasons throughout the West have expanded by an average of nine days every year since 2000.

So — now that the demonstrably real effects of climate change are affecting our California lives every day, what to do about it? It’s only human to lament the lost opportunities, the fact that responsible scientists warned us two decades ago that this would come to pass if we didn’t halt the rise in greenhouse-gas production. But humans have faced existential threats before, in the last century — from world wars, from nuclear weapons. Now is the time to not give into despair but to lobby our leaders, and governments around the world, telling them to stop sticking their heads in the (hot) sand, believe the science and begin a technical approach to reversing the real problem humans have brought to our planet.