Pakistan's Floods Are An Under-Covered Climate Disaster - The Wednesday AM Quickie 8/31/22

Shifting from Iraq to Pakistan for the main story today, as the U.S. political news is mostly run-of-the mill stuff. I'm off after today, Corey will be with you tomorrow! – Jack

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Pakistan's Floods Are An Under-Covered Climate Disaster

One of the climate crisis's biggest disasters is playing out in Pakistan right now, but you largely wouldn't know it from the front pages of most American publications.

To be sure, the widespread flooding in Pakistan has gotten coverage – none of the big publications are negligent. But the scope and scale of the destruction isn't being placed in its proper context, which is as an event of mass displacement unlike any other in the world right now. Vox, thanks to Jonathan Guyer's steady reporting, has one of the best breakdowns of what's going on – we'll pull from his piece for the numbers:

The catastrophic flooding has affected 33 million people, about 15 percent of the population, according to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority. More than 1,130 people have been killed since June’s monsoon season began, and at least 75 died in the past day. There has been $10 billion of damage and an estimated 1 million homes wrecked.
The country’s south has been most affected, notably the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan. Though some degree of flooding is common in Pakistan during monsoon season, the intensity of the rainfall this month was 780 percent above average, according to Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman.

“More than 100 bridges and some 3,000 km of roads have been damaged or destroyed, nearly 800,000 farm animals have perished, and two million acres of crops and orchards have been hit,” the United Nations’ World Food Program noted. The scale of flooding has impeded access for emergency groups seeking to get aid to the neediest.

Good lord. The number that doesn't quite make it into those paragraphs is the total number of people who "need immediate support" according to the UN, which is 6.4 million. It's easy, I think, to forget about the density and scale of the populations in the Indian subcontinent – Pakistan is a country of over 220 million people; neighboring India has 1.38 billion. Both of these countries are going to be hit hardest by man-made climate change in the coming years, and the flooding we're seeing is just a taste of that.

This should be front pages everywhere, with a hard scientific look at what is driving it: namely, extreme heat increasing the chances of more rainfall in the rainy months. The scale of the disaster is also exacerbated by the forces of capitalism and inequality, as Pakistan's government still passes dangers of mismanaged or underfunded infrastructure onto poorer communities, leaving them vulnerable to the flash floods and other extreme weather.

The sentence above that sticks with me from Guyer's piece: "Though some degree of flooding is common in Pakistan during monsoon season, the intensity of the rainfall this month was 780 percent above average, according to Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman." Seven hundred and eighty percent. 780! That's absurd. That's not normal. But it will be soon, I guess.

Mikhail Gorbachev Dies at 91

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, whose drastic policies eventually brought about the collapse of the state and, in some respects, the rise of the kleptocrat autocracy that modern day Russia now is, died on Tuesday at the age of 91. Gorbachev sought to resurrect a Soviet state that was already failing under the combined weight of years of economic and proxy war with the United States, as well as its own internal corruption and struggles. This line from the Post's obituary is somewhat fitting, I think, though Gorbachev's legacy is far more complicated than I can summarize here:

By the time he became Soviet leader, he had fully absorbed the abysmal reality but had little understanding of how to fix it. He hoped that unleashing forces of openness and political pluralism would heal the other maladies.
They could not.

Bad Bosses Bring Bad News For the Washington Post

I've been thinking a lot about this story today: the Times reports (yes, I know how incestuous all this is) on internal turmoil within the Post. The long and short of it is that the Post isn't hitting the numbers it wants, money wise, and the big CEOs at the top are getting nervy and talking about layoffs. You know, reacting to temporary downturns the way all normal bosses do – by trying frantically to make life more miserable for their workers. So far, Post CEO Fred Ryan's solutions involve monitoring how often employees are in Zoom meetings, forcing a return to office, and, oh yeah, trying to buy another news outfit like the Associated Press. He's also talking about eliminating 100 newsroom positions. Great industry!


  • Trump Hires Former Florida Solicitor General as Lawyer Does the name Christopher M. Kise ring any bells? No? Really scraping the barrel here for the FBI documents case. via NYT.
  • Jill Biden Cleared of COVID She'd been back in isolation after a rebound case, apparently. via NYT.
  • Crypto Bro's Dark Money PAC Calls it Quits Sam Bankman-Fried's sketchy political operation spent $24 million on Democratic primaries with a pandemic-prevention focus. Definitely no ulterior motives there. via Insider.
  • Special Master Request is Trump's New Stalling Plan The FBI has already seen the docs, so this is all just to gum up the works. via NYT.
  • Solar Company Says It Will Spend a Whopping $1.2 Billion to Expand That'll go toward the construction of a new solar panel facility in the U.S. via NYT.



Number of petition signatures that Arizona's Supreme Court decided to toss out, ensuring that an election-reform bill that would have guaranteed same-day voter registration and other useful things doesn't make it to the November ballot.


8/31: Sam and Emma host freelance journalist Chris Pomorski to discuss his recent piece in The New Republic "When Innocence Isn't Enough." Then they are joined by Amjad Iraqi, editor at 972 Magazine, to discuss the recent violence in the Gaza Strip.


Kimberley Guilfoyle Doesn't Think Democrats Will Hold On To Lead Into The Midterms

It is my personal mission that every person who reads this newsletter remembers that Guilfoyle is Gavin Newsom's ex-wife.

Mike Lindell Is Upset That Nobody From The Media Has Reached Out To Him

My pillow. My pillow. My pillow? My pillow.


“It’s sickening to see the new attacks on the F.B.I. I’m opposed to defunding the police. I’m also opposed to defunding the F.B.I. ... Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress: Don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you won’t condemn what happened on the 6th. For God’s sake, whose side are you on?”

– Joe Biden, in a speech to Pennsylvania voters, ensuring them that he supports cops.

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