Where Did The Blind & Black Musician Trope Come From? ~ PBS


~~~ WATCH ~~

There’s a long history of blind Black musicians in the US dating back to the 19th century, from Blind Tom to Ray Charles. Join recording artist Lachi and Professor Danielle Bainbridge to discuss the history on why blindness seems like a common thread among Black musicians. And how modern musicians have changed the narrative on disability in performance.

The Atacama desert in Chile holds much of the electric-car future … The Wall Street Journal



By Ryan Dube Photographs by Tamara Merino for The Wall Street Journal 

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SALAR DE ATACAMA, Chile—Hailed as the Saudi Arabia of lithium, this California-sized chunk of terrain accounts for some 55% of the world’s known deposits of the metal, a key component in electric-vehicle batteries.

As the Chinese EV giant BYD Co. recently learned, tapping into that resource can be a challenge. Earlier this year, after BYD won a government contract to mine lithium, indigenous residents took to the streets, demanding the tender be canceled over concerns about the impact on local water supplies. In June, the Chilean Supreme Court threw out the award, saying the government failed to consult with indigenous people first. 

“They want to produce more and more lithium, but we’re the ones who pay the price,” said Lady Sandón, president of one of two Atacameño indigenous hamlets that filed a lawsuit against the auction. A BYD spokeswoman declined to comment.

Similar setbacks are occurring around the so-called Lithium Triangle, which overlaps parts of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. Production has suffered at the hands of leftist governments angling for greater control over the mineral and a bigger share of profits, as well as from environmental concerns and greater activism by local Andean communities who fear being left out while outsiders get rich.Production of lithium carbonate equivalentSource: U.S. Geological SurveyAustraliaChileChinaArgentina2016’20050,000100,000150,000200,000250,000300,000350,000tons

At a time of exploding demand that has sent lithium prices up 750% since the start of 2021, industry analysts worry that South America could become a major bottleneck for growth in electric vehicles.

“All the major car makers are completely on board with electric vehicles now,” said Brian Jaskula, a lithium expert at the U.S. Geological Survey. “But the lithium may just not be enough.”

In Bolivia, the government nationalized its lithium industry years ago and has yet to produce meaningful amounts of the metal. Mexico, a smaller player, also recently nationalized lithium. In Argentina, output is only starting to take off.

Here in Chile, where lithium is already tightly controlled, President Gabriel Boric’s new leftist government plans to create a state lithium company after criticizing past privatizations of raw commodities as a mistake. A new constitution, if approved in a September referendum, would strengthen environmental rules and indigenous rights over mining.

“This is a strategic resource for the energy transition,” said Chile Mines Minister Marcela Hernando. Ms. Hernando recently told Chile’s congress that while the government didn’t have the know-how to mine lithium on its own, it would insist on majority control of any joint venture with private firms. 

Evaporation ponds at an Albemarle Corp. lithium mine in Chile.

A brine reservoir, a step in the lithium-extraction process. 

A few years ago, Chile was the world’s largest lithium producer, turning out slightly more than Australia. While Chile has expanded output at its existing operations by 80% since 2016 to about 140,000 tons annually, it hasn’t opened a new mine in about 30 years. It now produces about half as much as Australia, which has quadrupled its output in the past five years, according to the USGS.

Unlike oil, which is produced all over the globe, lithium is less common. South America, Australia and China are the key locations. Outside South America, it’s extracted from hard-rock. In the region, lithium is found in salty, underground water that is evaporated by the sun after being pumped into large man-made ponds. South America’s lithium is less expensive to produce, but miners say the drawback is it takes far longer to build a mine—about eight years.

Chilean officials and environmentalists worry about the impact on water supplies. Willy Kracht, Chile’s undersecretary of mining, said recently that up to 2,800 cubic meters of water are needed to produce one ton of lithium in Chile, versus 70 cubic meters for a ton of copper.

Environmentalists believe that mining has caused some nearby lagoons to dry up, harming the population of wild flamingos that rely on them to feed on shrimp and build nests. “The damage is irreversible,” said Cristina Dorador, a biologist who was a member of a special assembly that wrote the draft for Chile’s new constitution.


Extremes on Mont Blanc Prompt Mayor to Seek ‘Funeral Deposit’ for Climbers ~ Gear Junkie

August 4, 2022 | By Sam Anderson

Support us! GearJunkie may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn more.


Amid chaotic weather and resulting surface conditions on high peaks all over Europe, one French Mayor takes a stand for his constituent taxpayers.

Accessing “the roof of Europe” has never been so prohibitive during any previous summer climbing season. Now, the mayor of Saint-Gervais, France, proposes to place the onus of rescue and funeral costs on climbers willing to take the risk.

In an Aug. 3 statement, Mayor Jean-Marc Peillex announced plans to levy a €15,000 ($15,341) deposit to climb Mont Blanc (15,771 feet) via the popular Goûter route.

Peillex said €10,000 ($10,227) would cover the cost of rescue or body recovery; the remaining €5,000 ($5,113) would cover climbers who paid the ultimate price. His town rests at the foot of the mountain and serves as its de facto access point for climbers.

It is “impermissible that the French taxpayer be the one to cover such costs,” the mayor asserted Wednesday. “[Summit hopefuls] want to climb with death in their backpack, so they anticipate the costs of relief and burial.”

Heightened Objective Hazards on Mont Blanc

Barbed as Peillex’s terminology may be, the actions of local climbing guides back up his assertion that climbing on Mont Blanc this summer is dangerous to the point of recklessness. The prolific Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix strongly advised staying off the Goûter route 2 weeks ago and ceased its activity there until further notice.

Rockfalls, shifting crevasses, and landslides have become common on the mountain as temperatures continue to soar all over Europe. Echoing the Guides de Chamonix’s protocols, Peillex made his statement on July 15.

“Mountaineers are recommended to postpone their ascent, that is to say, to listen to the mountain, not to want to be stronger than nature,” he urged. “We have significant rockfalls. [T]here is less precipitation, less snowfall, and that is why a crevasse opened on the Bosses ridge this year, which makes the ascent even more complicated.”

mont blanc gouter route

Despite his and the guides’ pleas, the mayor said several dozen “pseudo-alpinists” have sought to climb Mont Blanc this summer. Mountain rescue teams, he said, have counted at least 50 people who have defied their recommendations. He cited one example of several Romanian tourists attempting the summit in “shorts and sneakers.”

Closures Could Escalate

The deposit proposition of €15,000 ($15,341) constitutes one more step toward the Goûter route’s effective closure. Peillex previously stated that his office would shut down the Goûter refuge, a critical waypoint for climbers, if they deemed conditions dangerous enough.

He said, “If it becomes really very dangerous, we will close the Goûter refuge, that is to say, that there will no longer be this possibility for mountaineers to stop there and sleep there.”

For now, the mountain hut and the route to the Mont Blanc summit are technically open.


The iconic Matterhorn: closed to climbing; (photo/Jakl Lubos via Shutterstock)


August 3, 2022 | By Angela Benavides

The sweltering, dry conditions in the European Alps have turned glacier areas and classic routes into deadly traps.

While it’s virtually impossible to ban climbers from pursuing a summit,authorities and guides have had to make some tough recent decisions in the European Alps.

Headlines worldwide describe “closed mountains” this week as temperatures in the country soar, even at altitude. Officials have closed refuges, canceled guided trips, and strongly recommended that climbers don’t go on their own.

Classics Out of Reach

“Conditions are changing fast and not in a good way,” the High Mountain Office of Chamonix reported on July 20. Back then, most guiding companies refused to take clients up Mont Blanc. Meanwhile, because of open crevasses and constant rockfall, climbers turned around on dozens of other famous ascents, from the Aiguille Verte to the Grandes Jorasses.

Even the bergschrund at the base of the Aiguille du Midi opens wider daily. Although local conditions change almost daily, high temperatures have given no respite to an already-scorched Europe.

Last week, guides working on the Matterhorn (Cervino) between Switzerland and Italy and the Jungfrau at the Swiss Oberland decided to stop guiding these classic peaks as well, Barrabes.com reported.

european alps climbing

Guided trips canceled include those to the following:

  • Refuge Gouter on the normal route to Mont Blanc from France
  • The Dente del Gigante (Dent du Géant or Giant’s Tooth)
  • The Matterhorn, either via the Hornli or Lion’s Ridges (the normal routes from Switzerland and Italy)
  • The Castor to Pollux traverse


Battery-powered vehicles are considered essential to the fight against climate change, but most models are aimed at the affluent

Ford has stopped taking orders for Lightning electric pickups, with a theoretical starting price of about $40,000, because it can’t make them fast enough.
Ford has stopped taking orders for Lightning electric pickups, with a theoretical starting price of about $40,000, because it can’t make them fast enough.Credit…Sylvia Jarrus for The New York Times

By Jack Ewing

Aug. 8, 2022

Policymakers in Washington are promoting electric vehicles as a solution to climate change. But an uncomfortable truth remains: Battery-powered cars are much too expensive for a vast majority of Americans.

Congress has begun trying to address that problem. The climate and energy package passed on Sunday by the Senate, the Inflation Reduction Act, would give buyers of used electric cars a tax credit.

But automakers have complained that the credit would apply to only a narrow slice of vehicles, at least initially, largely because of domestic sourcing requirements. And experts say broader steps are needed to make electric cars more affordable and to get enough of them on the road to put a serious dent in greenhouse gas emissions.

~~~ READ IN NYT ~~~

Why Is Ron Johnson Still Competitive Despite, You Know, Everything? NYT

But the bigger, more existential question for Wisconsin voters remains: Do they want to spend another six years being repped by a conspiracy-peddling, vaccine-trashing, climate change-mocking, election-doubting, Social-Security-and-Medicare-threatening MAGA mad dog?

Michelle Cottle of NYT, opinion of Ron Johnson running against Democrat lieutenant governor, Mandela Barnes in the Wisconsin Senatorial race.


I Am Simon Armitage ~ The New Yorker


I am Simon Armitage. I am
         Aiming Maestro,
                   Airiest Gammon. I am

Armani Egotism,
         Ammonia Tigers,
                   Grim Anatomies.

I am German Otis,
         I am Inmost Rage,
                   I am Moist Anger.

Granite Mimosa I am,
         Reaming Maoist,
                   Marmite Saigon,

Mismanage Riot,
         Origami Stamen,
                   Omega Martinis,

I am More Giants,
         I am Groin Meats,
                   I am Me Roasting. I am

Soaring Tammie,
         Steaming Moira,
                   Emigration Sam.

I am a Snog Timer.
         I am Sir Megaton.
                   Against Memoir I am.

Simon Armitage, the Poet Laureate of the U.K., served as the Oxford Professor of Poetry from 2015 to 2019. His latest collection is “New Cemetery.”