Saturday Reading

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Drought is taking its toll on the water system that quenches the thirst of Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, to such a degree that it is visible to orbiting satellites.

Sao Paulo is facing water rationing as the worst drought to hit the region in decades reduces reservoirs to muddy waters surrounded by cracked earth.

The Cantareira Reservoir System provides about half of the overall water to the city’s 20 million residents. But a series of months with below average rainfall have seen water levels plummet. NASA Landsat 8 images published by the NASA Earth Observatory show the precipitous decline of the Jaguari Reservoir, one of a handful that make up the system, from mid-August last year to early August this year.

Since the images were acquired, the water levels have only dropped further. As of Thursday, Sabesp, Sao Paulo’s water utility, reported that the Cantareira system was operating at only 3 percent of its capacity. That’s essentially considered “dead water,” which Sabesp has only been able to tap after building an extra 2 miles of pipeline to the reservoir’s center.

@ CLIMATE CENTRAL

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PHRYdae PHUNeeZ

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No Smoking!

No Smoking!

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Thoughtless Thursday

Satan's Troops

Satan’s Troops

The Pentagon admitted on Wednesday that one of the airdrops of weapons intended for Kurds in the besieged Syrian town of Kobani almost certainly ended up in the hands of the Islamic State (Isis) fighters.

The Pentagon blamed the wind for possibly blowing the supplies off course and argued that one cache was not enough to make a significant difference to Isis.

Video footage released by Isis shows what appears to be one of its fighters in desert scrubland with a stack of boxes attached to a parachute. The boxes are opened to show an array of weapons, some rusty, some new. A canister is broken out to reveal a hand grenade. Other equipment appeared to be parts for rocket-propelled grenades.

@ THE GUARDIAN

Un-Fucking-Believable (UFB)

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Amish Wednesday

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Amish farmers avoided the draft during WWII, even choosing to face jail time over going to war because they didn’t believe in combat, and now they are taking up a different fight altogether – peacefully – by studying plant immunology in order to grow healthy organic produce without pesticides, herbicides, and other harmful chemicals that biotech companies are lavishing on crops like cheap perfume on an uncouth lady.

Samuel Zook, an Amish farmer recently explained to a reporter:

“If you really stop and think about it, though, when we go out spraying our crops with pesticides, that’s really what we’re doing. It’s chemical warfare, bottom line.”

Zook should know what its like to try to grow without pesticides and still get rid of pests that would ravish his crops. He owns a 66-acre farm that was once riddled with fungus and other plant-killing insects that he could scarcely eradicate. The 39-year old farmer talked at length about trying to run a homestead that had been in his family for five generations, and how miserably he was failing. He became disillusioned with the Big Ag methods promoted as ‘agriculture’ when they are nothing more than war on the natural world. His frustration led him to the writings of an 18-year old Amish farmer from Ohio, named John Kempf.

This young upstart is the founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture, a consulting firm the farmer established in 2006 to promote science-intensive organic agriculture. That’s right – it wasn’t just going to be an inconclusive guessing game about what to grow and how to grow it – his achievements would make any pro-GMO agriculturalist or biotech scientists eat their genetically modified words.

@ NOC

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Tuesday Testes

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she isn’t running for president. At this rate, however, she may have to.

The Massachusetts Democrat has become the brightest ideological and rhetorical light in a party whose prospects are dimmed by—to use a word Jimmy Carter never uttered—malaise. Her weekend swing through Colorado, Minnesota and Iowa to rally the faithful displayed something no other potential contender for the 2016 presidential nomination, including Hillary Clinton, seems able to present: a message.

“We can go through the list over and over, but at the end of every line is this: Republicans believe this country should work for those who are rich, those who are powerful, those who can hire armies of lobbyists and lawyers,” she said Friday in Englewood, Colo. “I will tell you we can whimper about it, we can whine about it or we can fight back. I’m here with [Sen.] Mark Udall so we can fight back.”

Warren was making her second visit to the state in two months because Udall’s re-election race against Republican Cory Gardner is what Dan Rather used to call “tight as a tick.” If Democrats are to keep their majority in the Senate, the party’s base must break with form and turn out in large numbers for a midterm election. Voters won’t do this unless somebody gives them a reason.

@ TRUTHDIG

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Monday Disease Bombing

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U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered the creation of a 30-member expeditionary medical support team to be able to provide emergency help in the event of an Ebola crisis in the United States, a Pentagon spokesman said on Sunday.

The team of five doctors, 20 nurses and five trainers could respond on short notice to help civilian medical professionals, a statement from Rear Admiral John Kirby said.

Three cases of Ebola have been diagnosed in the United States, prompting widespread concern about the potential spread of the virus. A Liberian man fell ill while on a trip to Dallas, Texas, and died on Oct. 8. Two nurses who treated him contracted the disease.

Kirby called the team “an added, prudent measure to ensure our nation is ready to respond quickly, effectively and safely in the event of additional Ebola cases.” He said it would consist of critical care nurses, doctors trained in infectious diseases and trainers in infectious disease protocols.

@ REUTERS

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Sunny Sunday

HUGE SUNSPOT: If you have a solar telescope, point it at the sun. A huge sunspot is turning toward Earth. Philippe Tosi of Nîmes, France, took this picture of AR2192 on Oct. 18th:

An inset picture of Earth shows the scale of the sunspot. All by tself, the primary dark core could swallow a planet twice as wide as our own.

Big sunspots pose a threat for strong flares, and this behemoth is no exception. Last week, while it was still on the farside of the sun, AR2192 unleashed several potent blasts including this massive CME. Now it is crackling with C-class flares that could herald something stronger: NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of M-class flares and a 5% chance of X-flares in the next 24 hours.

@ SPACEWEATHER.com

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