Home / Politics / Midday open thread: Hurricane costs soar; NRA adds new 'Fx' grade for candidates; F-35s grounded

Midday open thread: Hurricane costs soar; NRA adds new 'Fx' grade for candidates; F-35s grounded

Today’s comic by Ruben Bolling is More Richard Scarry’s 21st century Busy Town jobs:

Cartoon by Ruben Bolling

Hurricane costs soar as more people live on coasts: The coastal counties affected by Hurricane Florence doubled their population density between 1980 and 2018, a far greater change than inland counties in the area. That is a key factor making hurricanes more expensive these days. Of the 40 hurricanes that struck the U.S. between 1980 and 2017, causing an inflation-adjusted $862 billion in damage, just three of them—Harvey, Maria, and Irma—caused 31 percent of that total, $268 billion. “Coastal population and exposure growth is certainly the predominant driver of increased damage costs associated with hurricanes,” Steve Bowen, director and meteorologist at consulting firm Aon’s Risk Solutions division, told The Wall Street Journal.

National Rifle Association introduces new letter grade rating, “Fx”: This one is for candidates endorsed by Everytown For Gun Safety, the nation’s largest gun-control organization. Everytown announced Monday that it would spend $ 2 million in Florida to support the candidates it has endorsed. The Fx rating is longtime NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer’s idea. For decades, the NRA has assigned letter grades to incumbents and challengers based on how closely aligned they are with the organization’s extremist agenda. In Florida, a state known for its ultra-relaxed gun laws, the Fx grade has been given to Senator Bill Nelson, Congressman Ted Deutch and Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for governor. All three have supported the gun-control activism of teenage survivors of the February 14, 2018, school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were murdered.

Government report: Most sophisticated weapons in U.S. arsenal “easily hacked” with “basic tools.”


After crash, Pentagon temporarily grounds F-35 fighter-jets to inspect potential defective engine tubes. Inspections are expected to be completed within 48 hours. They were ordered after the first crash of an F-35 since the aircraft went operational in 2006. The pilot safely ejected, and a previously unrecognized fault in the plane’s engine tubes was found to be the culprit of the crash. Some F-35s have already been checked out, found to have good tubes, and been returned to service. The 320 fifth-generation fighters now operating out of 15 bases around the planet, cost $406.5 billion and have had a number of problems, including faults with ejection seats, helmet-displays, and software.

Minnesota judge dismisses charges against five climate activists who shut down pipelines: They’re called the Valve Turners. In October 2016, in Washington, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota, they shut off oil pipelines. As a consequence, pipeline owner Enbridge was forced to temporarily shut down two lines in Minnesota. Three activists were charged with felonies, but the judge has let them off, saying that Enbridge hadn’t proved they caused any damage. The activists sent an open letter to President Obama before they shut down the pipelines, saying they were trying to prevent the “collapse of civilization.” “The only option available to us is to engage in climate direct action, which is why we are acting today to shut down the five pipelines used to transport tar sands oil from Alberta, CA into the U.S.” 

Manhattan District Attorney drops one of six charges against Harvey Weinstein. Evidence emerged that the claims of one of three women who have accused Weinstein of sexual assault in the case were doubtful. Weinstein, who roams free on $1 million bail, has denied the allegations of 80 women that he engaged in non-consensual sex with them. In the Manhattan case, he still faces charges related to allegations that he raped a woman in his hotel room in 2013 and forced a sex act on another woman in 2006.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show: Greg Dworkin rounds up the morning’s headlines and the latest polling. Trump rallies, again, during the storm. The Dow dives. The world’s eyes are on the Sauds. Armando critiques SCOTUS “fixes.” But the Dem brand from now on might have to be crisis.

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