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Spain enforces stricter entry rules – FCDO warns some tests ‘not accepted’ at the border

SPAIN has ramped up its entry requirement for unvaccinated Britons requiring them to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test on arrival. According to a new Foreign Office warning, some tests are now no longer accepted. What are the new rules?

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Hyrule Warriors: Age Of Calamity Version 1.2.1 Patch Notes – Some Minor Fixes

Age Of Calamity

Last week, Nintendo and Koei Tecmo released the first wave of DLC content for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. It bumped the game up to version 1.2.0.

Now, it’s rolled out a minor follow-up patch, which includes a minor fix and also a slight adjustment to make it slightly easier to view and purchase the expansion pass content on the game’s main menu.

Here are the full patch notes, courtesy of Nintendo’s UK website:

Ver. 1.2.1 (Released 29 June 2021)

  • Fixed the issue where “Raise Weapon-Level Limit” in Hylian Blacksmith Guild sometimes become unavailable.
  • Changed so that a jump from “DLC” on the title screen to this software’s “expansion pass” purchase page (Nintendo eShop) is possible.

And for anyone who missed it, here are the patch notes for last week’s update:

Ver. 1.2.0 (Released 18 June 2021)

  • Made adjustments in preparation for DLC Wave 1.
  • Added an auto-tracking camera function.
  • Addressed several issues to improve the gameplay experience.

Have you tried out the wave one content for Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity yet? What are your thoughts so far? Leave a comment down below.

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This post originally appeared on Nintendo Life | Latest News

Some Virgin Media customers offered new way to get better broadband speeds

Thousands of Virgin Media customers could soon be treated to the ultimate Gigabit broadband. This blisteringly quick technology is around 18 times faster than the UK average and allows those using it to download a full HD movie in just 40 seconds. With more of us than ever now using the web to work from home and watch endless boxsets, having faster speeds is becoming vital.

Despite recent announcements that the UK’s broadband is set for record investment, large swathes of the country are still struggling with their downloads but Virgin is hoping a new incentive can help. The telecoms firm says it is now allowing some consumers to make use of the Government’s Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

If you weren’t aware, these Vouchers are worth up to £1,500 for homes and £3,500 for businesses and help to cover the costs of installing gigabit-capable broadband.

If a whole street joins forces and applies for the money it can mean homes get better speeds more quickly than if they waited for the standard fibre rollout to arrive in their area.

As an initial trial, Virgin Media says it is inviting residents in West Sussex to register their interest so that Gigabit Broadband Vouchers can be used, alongside private investment from the company, to help connect them to some of the nation’s fastest broadband speeds of up to 1.1Gbps.

READ MORE: Google Maps warning: Why iPhone users might want to delete this app for good

The average broadband speed in the area is 43.8Mbps but many premises experience much slower connections. At that rate it would take around 13 minutes to download a blockbuster movie or almost there hours for a PS5 title to arrive on the console. 

Speaking about the news Rob Evans, Managing Director, Fixed Network Expansion at Virgin Media O2, said: “We’re spearheading the UK’s broadband charge with the nation’s largest gigabit network that is expanding to new areas each day.

“Our mission is to upgrade the UK and this voucher scheme, combined with our continued private investment, will help to bring the benefits of next-generation digital infrastructure to harder-to-reach areas. We urge residents in West Sussex to get involved and register their interest so that Virgin Media O2 can bring gigabit connectivity to West Sussex communities as quickly as possible.”

And Digital Infrastructure Minister, Matt Warman, added: “Our broadband voucher scheme is energising broadband firms to deliver ultra high-speed connections to the most hard-to-reach parts and I’m delighted to hear Virgin Media O2 has joined us and launched its first scheme in West Sussex.”

Virgin Media, who recently joined forces with O2, is making big promises about the future of its broadband.

The new joint company says it will bring gigabit connectivity to its entire network – covering more than 15 million homes and businesses – by the end of 2021, helping to deliver nearly two-thirds of the Government’s 2025 broadband target four years early.

The company has also committed to investing at least £10bn over the next 5 years in the UK. 

This news from Virgin comes as BT’s Openreach has also announced big investment in its infrastructure with the company saying it is bringing ultra-reliable FTTP broadband to 551 more towns and cities with 43,000 premises getting the upgrade every single week.

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently, see more details here

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Tech Feed

Some locals believe firing Coronado basketball coach doesn’t go far enough

The fallout continues over an incident that many are calling racist, at a Coronado championship game that ended with people throwing tortillas at Orange Glen High.

CORONADO, Calif. — There is still a lot of heated reaction regarding the firing of the Coronado High School basketball coach. Some are surprised at the firing while others say that action does not go far enough.

David Roberts was at the CIF championship game Saturday, where his former Coronado High School basketball team faced off in overtime against Orange Glen High School of Escondido, who lost by 3 points. 

Roberts said that all game long, tensions were high and tortillas brought by a fan were then thrown by other fans and team members at the mostly Hispanic Orange Glen team. 

Those were actions that the Coronado team captain Wayne McKinney apologized for.

“The throwing of the tortillas after the game and the scuffle was unsportsmanlike and inexcusable, and on behalf of the team we apologize for the action,” McKinney said.

Also at the Coronado Unified School District meeting, the board voted unanimously to fire the Boy’s Basketball Head Coach JD Laaperi.

“We are excited about the first step, which was to fire the coach because the coach is the gravity of all the incidents that happened on Juneteenth,” said Yusef Miller of the San Diego Racial justice coalition.

News 8 reached out to Coach Laaperi for a response, but he did not respond. 

“He got fired, and there’s nothing I can do about it. If people want to bring him back that’s up to them, but you know in this day in age when it comes to racial stuff, it’s very reactive,” said David Roberts, a former Coronado High School Basketball team Center, who said he won the Sportsmanship Award last year when his team also played in the CIF Championship.

While some Coronado students argue the tortillas thrown had no racial intent, others differ and say firing the coach is not enough, the students need to be held accountable and some wish for their CIF winning title to be stripped.

“This is bigger than just bad sportsmanship. That’s racist, and they need to be held accountable, so that all these other schools that think it’s funny to make fun of the team’s race, now you know what is coming and you can get in trouble,” said Maya Figure, an Orange Glen Alumni of the Class of 2019.

Activist Shane Harris calls this a teachable moment.

“That’s a good first start, I think Coronado needs to invest in a restorative justice round table, and I have already been in talks with the San Diego County Office of Education, and they have agreed to provide the space for that dialogue to happen between both teams,” Harris said.

Miller said there needs to be a policy and curriculum change.

The Escondido Union High School District will hold a special board meeting Thursday at 5:45 p.m. to bring forth a resolution denouncing racism.

WATCH RELATED: Community outraged after Coronado High students throw tortillas at Orange Glen athletes after basket (June 2021)

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This post originally appeared on CBS8 – Sports

Camping and caravan: UK's 'least crowded' destinations with some holidays from £60 a night

However, Mr Bassett has pointed out that camping in certain locations can still be affordable if Britons do their research.

“Camptoo still has availability in June, July and August and with prices starting from £60 per night,” said Mr Bassett.

While holiday cottages or glamping might be the “in” activity for the summer, he also points to alternative options which could reduce costs and allow more freedom.

“Why not try renting a campervan or motorhome for your staycation?” Mr Bassett continued.

“The benefits are that you can enjoy our incredible, diverse country at your own pace whilst remaining within your household bubble.

“Most motorhomes and caravans are also self-contained, which is ideal for self-catering and lessens the need for shared facilities.”

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This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Travel Feed

Bill de Blasio Has Some Regrets

This might be bad for the people of New York City, but de Blasio seems to think it’s good for him, for the sureness of his legacy, for the influence of his voice and, maybe most of all, for his peace of mind.

“Look at last night for God’s sakes. Jesus! That was like bad high school debate. It was just so petty,” he says of the final mayoral debate that aired the night before. “It was like, is this really healthy? Is this really as good as it gets?”

De Blasio traces the perimeter of Prospect Park Lake, the cars from Parkside Avenue visible through the trees, moving from one dirt path to the next, heading north past the boathouse. The next person de Blasio passes, a 30-something guy, spots the mayor from afar and averts his gaze, craning his head to the left as he walks. Another woman passes and does a double take, placing the mayor before walking ahead without comment. Only one person stops de Blasio on his walk that day, a young musician who asks de Blasio about arts and culture in the city.

“I mean, the folks who are corrupt, and the folks who really are not in it to help people, go get ’em. But there’s a lot of decent people. And don’t try and like find things that aren’t there,” de Blasio says, turning the conversation back to himself. “So if my sin is, I go for walks, I’m like, really? Think about that! The thing that makes people upset is [me] going for walks.”

There is, of course, more than the walks: de Blasio spent much of the pandemic in his own petty battles with Cuomo. He frustrated parents with a confusing and shifting plan to reopen public schools. After the killing of George Floyd last summer, former City Hall employees staged a series of major protests outside his office and he is now facing a worrying spike in crime in his final months. One public opinion survey in May showed his approval rating above 50 percent, a rare moment above water still touted by his staff. Recent polls show him well below that figure.

In January, de Blasio and aides had what they now refer to as a “reset” meeting. The mayor, worried about losing his “bully pulpit” during this summer’s mayoral race, said he wanted to re-run the “Tale of Two Cities” campaign that swept him into office in 2013 with a message about rampant inequality after 20 years under Michael Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani, helping de Blasio build broad support from the Black community. His fear that one of the candidates would run as a viciously anti-de Blasio candidate, as he did with Bloomberg, never played out as sharply as he suspected, nor did, in his view, a candidate emerge with a clear and leading vision. “I think this has been an entirely amorphous election. If they embrace what I did, great. If they don’t, fine,” he says. “The question is: Did the things we started”—his signature issues of universal pre-K and paid sick leave, for example—“did they prove to continue to work and be meaningful, and I think they will. I think they’re going to have a long life, these ideas. And I’m at peace with it.”

To some degree, de Blasio has come to accept New York’s special relationship with its mayors, who function in public life as irrepressible and vivid personalities—figures to like, to dislike, to puzzle over and mock. It seems significant, as a matter of the city’s sensibility, that the next mayor might, for instance, be the city’s first smoker in decades (Kathryn Garcia) or a man who, as a means of self-critique, writes journal entries in the third person (Eric Adams). “This strange animal that is being mayor of New York, it is unlike anything else. I’ve worked with mayors around the country,” he says. “They come up to me and are like, ‘I can’t believe what’s going on, or that that’s happening to you.’ I mean, it’s almost like a sympathy line at every meeting to say: ‘What is going on?’”

Often during his time as mayor, that constant razor’s edge between love and hate, enthralling and impossible, seemed to annoy rather than enamor its mayor. Today it seems to delight him. There is a story he tells about a city council meeting to debate a proposed bike lane on 11th Street in Park Slope. De Blasio supported it, and one of the “old timers,” who didn’t, stood up in the meeting. “He points at me accusatory and says, ‘You don’t know what it’s like on 9th Street!’ I’m like, ‘Dude, I live two blocks from you, I really feel like I do know what it’s like on 9th Street!’”

“It was like I was from an entirely different nationality. I mean, he just thundered, ‘You! You! You interloper!’ It was fabulous!” he says.

A former City Hall staffer recently described Bill de Blasio’s mayoralty as an encapsulation of the human condition, which is less grand than it sounds. “The pendulum was always swinging,” the person said. “There were days when he was confident and days when he was riddled with self-doubt. There were days he felt he really embodied what New York City needed in a mayor. And there were days when he lost that.”

In 2013, during the first campaign, when de Blasio was at the bottom of the polls and free from the burden of expectations—“We were lovable losers,” he says—Bill Clinton called him one day after seeing a front-page photo of the candidate and his family dancing at a parade: “‘I saw the photo in the New York Times.’” De Blasio drops into a Clinton impression. “‘And you guys look like you’re having so much fun out there. That’s what people want from a candidate.’”

“He’s one of the great masters. You think I would have written it down,” the mayor says. “I think I heard it, but I didn’t take it in.”

“We are coming into the home stretch,” he says. “I’m giving you a warning. We will end at the stump.” It’s an hour and 15 minutes into the walk and de Blasio has covered 2.53 miles.

The official story of the stump, according to the New York City Parks Department’s forestry director, is that a large pin oak got sick and had to be felled at the height of the pandemic. The Parks Department suspected oak wilt disease, bacterial leaf scorch and symptoms of a disease called Hypoxylon canker. They tried to save the tree, but couldn’t, and it came down last August.

It was on one of his walks that de Blasio discovered what happened to the tree where he and McCray had their wedding.

“There was a tree,” he says. “It’s part of a tree now. I went one day in the middle of Covid and everything was horrible and I’m walking by my tree for solace and my tree’s not there anymore!” he says. “Recalling the great line from Chrissie Hynde and The Pretenders: ‘I went back to Ohio and my city was gone.’”

Author: Ruby Cramer
This post originally appeared on Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories

Cryptocurrency payments coming to some Texas H-E-B stores

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Dogecoin, the meme-originated favorite of Elon Musk, will soon be options for payment at some H-E-B grocery stores in Texas.

The Houston Chronicle reports currency provider Coin Cloud will soon begin placing kiosks in several stores where customers will both be able to make purchases using the digital currency, but will also be able to purchase more coins.

An H-E-B representative told Houston Chronicle the pilot program will start in 29 Houston-area stores. The machines will also be Coin Cloud’s 2,00th machine.

Worldwide, more and more businesses are starting to embrace cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which is the most popular. Currently, 1 Bitcoin equals about $ 36,120.20 in U.S. dollars. Second most popular is Ethereum: 1 Ether currently equals $ 2,225.98 U.S. dollars.

Despite their surging popularity, many investors and experts still lack faith in them as long-term investments, citing volatility and uncertainty around value retention.

Author: Russell Falcon
This post originally appeared on KXAN Austin

Virtual Block Party on Roblox: Make Some Noise at the In the Heights

Summer’s almost here—and what better way to kick things off than with a metaverse-wide block party? From June 4 through June 20, Roblox is inviting Xbox players from around the world to come together for an epic virtual celebration inspired by the much-anticipated film “In the Heights.”

Roblox - In the Heights

Brought to life by “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and visionary director Jon M. Chu, “In the Heights” tells the story of how a vibrant neighborhood pulls together to keep their dreams alive. The musical features incredible performances that blend Latin, hip hop, and rap influences to deliver a universal message of hope, family, and togetherness. It’s the perfect backdrop to an uplifting and unifying event that celebrates the power of identity, culture, and community like never before.

Roblox - In the Heights

Taking cues from the film’s larger-than-life setting, we’ve recreated a block from the bustling New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights on Roblox for this exclusive experience. Fans can cut loose, share good vibes with friends, and choose from a variety of fun activities that celebrate the importance of community, all the while visiting various locales and meeting up with characters from the film. The experience also includes cool extras, like free limited-edition emotes you can use to dance alongside your fellow Robloxians. Plus, don’t miss an exclusive Q&A with the cast, featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anthony Ramos, Jimmy Smits, Dascha Polanco, Melissa Barrera, and more!

Roblox - In the Heights

The experience will be open for two weeks, so bring your best selves and come join the fun before it’s gone! Together, we can make Roblox something really special, just like Washington Heights.

Xbox Live

Xbox Live

ROBLOX

ROBLOX

☆☆☆☆☆ 1979
★★★★★
Roblox is the ultimate virtual universe that lets you create, share experiences with friends, and be anything you can imagine. Join millions of people and discover an infinite variety of immersive experiences created by a global community! Already have an account? Log in with your existing Roblox account and explore the infinite metaverse of Roblox. MILLIONS OF EXPERIENCES In the mood for an epic adventure? Want to compete against rivals worldwide? Or do you just want to hang out and chat with your friends online? A growing library of experiences created by the community means there’s always something new and exciting for you every day. EXPLORE TOGETHER ANYTIME, ANYWHERE Take the fun on the go. Roblox features full cross-platform support, meaning you can join your friends and millions of other people on their computers, mobile devices, Xbox One, or VR headsets. BE ANYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE Be creative and show off your unique style! Customize your avatar with tons of hats, shirts, faces, gear, and more. With an ever-expanding catalog of items, there’s no limit to the looks you can create. CHAT WITH FRIENDS Hang out with friends around the world using chat features, private messages, and groups! CREATE YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES: https://www.roblox.com/develop SUPPORT: https://en.help.roblox.com/hc/en-us CONTACT: https://corp.roblox.com/contact/ PRIVACY POLICY: https://www.roblox.com/info/privacy PARENT’S GUIDE: https://corp.roblox.com/parents/ PLEASE NOTE: A network connection is required to join. Roblox works best over Wi-Fi. PLEASE NOTE: Xbox Live Gold and an internet connection of 192 Kbps or higher required to play. THE ROBLOX RATING APPLIES ONLY TO THE ROBLOX APP, NOT TO ANY USER GENERATED CONTENT INCLUDED WITHIN THE APP, WHICH IS UNRATED.

Author: Matt Dupree, Writer, Roblox
This post originally appeared on Xbox Wire

Texas’s 82-foot-tall storm-gate plan may have some gaping holes

Eric Bender is a science writer based in Boston who primarily covers biomedical research. This story originally featured on Undark.

When Hurricane Ike made landfall in 2008, Bill Merrell took shelter on the second floor of a historic brick building in downtown Galveston, Texas, along with his wife, their daughter, their grandson, and two Chihuahuas. Sustained winds of 110 mph lashed the building. Seawater flooded the ground floor to a depth of over 8 feet. Once, in the night, Merrell caught glimpses of a near-full moon and realized they had entered the hurricane’s eye.

Years earlier, Merrell, a physical oceanographer at Texas A&M University at Galveston, had toured the gigantic Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier, a nearly 6-mile-long bulwark that prevents North Sea storms from flooding the southern Dutch coast. As Ike roared outside, Merrell kept thinking about the barrier. “The next morning, I started sketching what I thought would look reasonable here,” he says, “and it turned out to be pretty close to what the Dutch would have done.”

These sketches were the beginning of the Ike Dike, a proposal for a coastal barrier intended to protect Galveston Bay. The core idea: combining huge gates across the main inlet into the Bay from the Gulf of Mexico, known as Bolivar Roads, with many miles of high seawalls.

Just across from Galveston, at least 15 people died that night on the Bolivar Peninsula, and the storm destroyed some 3,600 homes there. Bodies were still missing the next year when Merrell began to promote the Ike Dike, but, he said, the idea “was really ridiculed pretty universally.” Politicians disliked its costs, environmentalists worried about its impacts, and no one was convinced that it would work.

Merrell persisted. Returning to the Netherlands, he visited experts at Delft University and enlisted their support. Over the next few years, Dutch and U.S. academic researchers carried out dozens of studies on Galveston Bay options, while Merrell and his allies gathered support from local communities, business leaders, and politicians.

In 2014, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers partnered with the state to study Ike Dike-like alternatives for Galveston Bay. After many iterations, bills to establish a governing structure for the $ 26.2 billion barrier proposal, which the Corps developed alongside the Texas General Land Office, recently passed both the Texas House and Senate. In September, the Corps will deliver their recommendations to the U.S. Congress, which will need to approve funding for the project.

Texas’s 82-foot-tall storm-gate plan may have some gaping holes
The prospective aerial view of the Bolivar Roads Gate System (left) and the swing gates (right), which would be designed to be 82 feet high. The system would close the channel as a storm approaches, but it’d be expensive and challenging to operate and maintain. Illustration: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / Texas General Land Office

No one can guess the barrier proposal’s exact fate, given its enormous price tag. And as sea levels rise and storms intensify with global climate change, Houston is far from the only US coastal metropolitan region at serious risk. Multibillion-dollar coastal megaprojects already are underway or under consideration from San Francisco to Miami to New York City.

President Joe Biden’s new $ 2 trillion national infrastructure initiative specifically calls for projects on the country’s embattled coasts. The initiative for Houston, the fifth-largest U.S. metro area and the vulnerable heart of the petrochemical industry, spotlights the tough decisions for coastal megaprojects, which must balance societal needs, engineering capabilities, environmental protections, and costs.

Meanwhile, the seas keep rising. “It’s a significant tension between the need to address these issues and do it quickly,” says Carly Foster, a resilience expert at the global design consultancy Arcadis, “and also do it right.”


Galveston Bay is a low, sandy subtropical estuary, bordered to the north and west by Houston’s sprawl. About twice the size of New York City, the bay is only 6 feet deep on average, with a deep channel dredged for tankers and other huge vessels traveling to and from the Port of Houston.

Given the sheer size and complexity of the Galveston Bay region, “balancing the environment and people and economics is just really tough,” says Antonia Sebastian, an assistant professor of applied hydrology and water resources at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Planners must weigh the costs and benefits, to minimize risks to an acceptable level. “And what that acceptable level is can be widely debated,” she said.

Moreover, the risks are growing. Last year, five hurricanes hit the US Gulf Coast, one with sustained winds up to 150 mph. There’s scientific consensus that climate change will cause greater numbers of these monster Atlantic hurricanes, said Ming Li, a physical oceanographer at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

As the sea rises, the land is also sinking: In the last century, the Texas coast sank about 2 feet into the sea, partly due to excessive groundwater pumping. Computer models now suggest that climate change will further lift sea levels somewhere between 1 and 6 feet over the next 50 years. Meanwhile, the Texas coastal population is projected to climb from 7 to 9 million people by 2050.

“We are absolutely going to have hurricanes hitting the Texas coast,” says Kelly Burks-Copes, an Army Corps of Engineers ecologist and project manager for the study that generated the barrier proposal. “There’s a significant barrier island system that naturally affords a defense to potential surge coming in from the Gulf, but it’s become populated over time and eroded over time. And so we are particularly vulnerable to what we call killer surges.”

Protecting Galveston Bay is no simple task. The bay is sheltered from the open ocean by two low, sandy strips of land—Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula—separated by the narrow passage of Bolivar Roads. When a sufficiently big storm approaches, water begins to rush through that gap and over the island and peninsula, surging into the bay.

82-foot-high white gates raised during a storm surge in a drawing
The vertical lift gates at Bolivar Road would stay open (right) in normal weather to let the tides flow. Illustration: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Texas General Land Office

Building on Merrell’s concept, the centerpiece of the latest Corps proposal is a massive set of gates across the Bolivar Roads. As a storm approaches, the two main navigation gates will float and swing out of dry docks to close the channel. Each will be 82 feet high—with 22 feet above water when closed and 650 feet wide—almost twice the length of a football field. These giants will be combined with two smaller swing gates, plus a set of vertical lift gates that stay open in normal weather to let the tides flow.

The Corps also plans to raise two parallel lines of dunes, which would run 43 miles along the Bolivar Peninsula and the unprotected western side of Galveston Island, fronted by 250 feet of beach. Constructing them, the Corps estimates, will require 40 million cubic yards of sand. Additionally, since a storm on the scale of Ike would wash away the dunes and surge into the Bay, the project calls for other gates and walls around the Bay, including a ring barrier encircling the city of Galveston.

“What we are proposing is multiple lines of defense,” says Burks-Copes.

Proponents also are thinking big about environmental repair, restoring 6,600 acres of ecosystems such as wetlands, bird rookery islands, and oyster reefs, some located elsewhere along the Texas shore. “We did both coastal storm risk management and ecosystem restoration and we selected sites that actually afford a natural defense system,” choosing those “that would still provide critical ecosystem habitat,” Burks-Copes says.

The coastal barrier has earned enthusiastic support from numerous local politicians and members of Congress. “We need it yesterday,” says Houston mayor Sylvester Turner in August 2020, after Hurricane Laura struck the nearby Louisiana coast, narrowly missing the Galveston Bay.

But Merrell and other experts also raise concerns about how well the Corps plan would protect the region from the worst blows. Some environmental advocates are skeptical the environmental impacts are worth the benefits. And many observers suggest that localized projects, such as raising homes and building smaller seawalls, may offer better and quicker payoffs.

Questions about payoffs begin with those immense swing gates across the Bolivar Roads inlet.

Experience with similar giant moving barriers in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe shows that the structures can work reliably, although each design is unique, says Bas Jonkman, a professor of hydraulic engineering at Delft University who led much of the research for the Ike Dike and its successor plans.

Jonkman compares the enormous moving parts to a jumbo jet that has to fly just once every 10 years. The barrier must be expertly operated and perfectly maintained, which turned out to be more challenging and expensive than expected after the construction of a similar barrier protecting Rotterdam, the busiest port in Europe.

Some experts are also concerned about the sand dunes slated to cover Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island. Merrell’s Ike Dike proposal and a previous Corps plan originally envisioned 17-foot or higher levees that would have hampered access to the Gulf beaches. Under pressure from disgruntled locals—the Corps received some 13,000 public comments about the levees, Burks-Copes said, most of them negative—they replaced the levees with dunes. But the taller dunes would be only 14 feet high, much lower than the 22-foot-high gates at Bolivar Roads. Storms no larger than Ike would wipe their sand away, Merrell and other experts have warned.

“Your whole system’s only as strong as your weakest link,” says Merrell, who continues to collaborate with academic experts to analyze coastal measures. Speaking of the Corps land barrier plan, he said “They’ve made it so weak, it’s pretty much worthless.” Far better, he said, would be a 17-foot dune fortified with clay, rock, or concrete and topped with sand.

Barriers also can’t stop the wind. When Hurricane Laura ripped into the Louisiana coast in August 2020, the houses completely exploded.

Merrell also questions the Corps’ decision to leave open San Luis Pass, the inlet to the Bay on the southwest side of Galveston Island, instead of installing a gate there. “That’s insane,” Merrell says. “That’s like leaving the back door open to your house during a hurricane.” The Corps responds that, even in a worst-case-scenario storm, water flowing through the Pass would only raise the surge in the Bay by about a foot.

Merrell and his colleagues estimate the additional cost to fortify the sand dunes and close the San Luis Pass at $ 10.7 billion. They argue that their measures would offer better benefits per buck than the Corps plan, which is estimated to pay back about double for each dollar invested.

No surge barrier will slow the extreme rainfalls that can unleash devastating floods, like those of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, which killed more than 70 people in greater Houston. In fact, seawalls can trap these floods of freshwater, requiring enormous pumps to release them.

Barriers also can’t stop the wind. When Hurricane Laura ripped into the Louisiana coast in August 2020, wind losses ravaged the area, says Tracy Kijewski-Correa, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Notre Dame University. Some pictures show wind damage that looks as bad as storm surge damage, she said. The houses completely exploded.

Local environmental advocates are also concerned about the impact of the project on the wetlands and fisheries of Galveston Bay.

The Corps plan slates about $ 2.6 billion, a tenth of the total bill, for ecosystem restoration, such as restoring salt marshes that can absorb the impact of surging seawater. “That’s a great benefit of this project,” says Michelle Hummel, assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Texas at Arlington.

“Everybody in the environmental and conservation community is supportive of the ecosystem restoration,” says Bob Stokes, president of the Galveston Bay Foundation, a local conservation nonprofit. “We’ve also been told that that’s not going to be the first money that’s spent—that’s going to be at the end of the project.”

Stokes also is wary of the Bolivar Roads vertical lift gates. In normal weather, the gates will cut the tidal flow across the inlet by less than 10 percent, according to Corps estimates, but Stokes worries about the results of altered water movement. “The biggest concern in my mind is the fisheries impact, in the sense that pretty much all of our fish, crabs, and shrimp spend some portion of their life cycle in the Bay system and some portion in the Gulf of Mexico,” he says. Since the gates will reduce flooding, he also worries about water quality impacts. (Burks-Copes says Corps models suggest impacts will be minimal.)

In Stokes’ view, the environmental assessments performed to date are inadequate. The Corps essentially plans to analyze the environmental impacts as they get to them, Stokes says. “Our bottom line is that if we’re going to build this thing, we absolutely have to know those impacts ahead of time.”


Perhaps the biggest question on the coastal megaproject is about the $ 26.2 billion cost, 35 percent of which must come from the state or other local sources. So will all the operating costs, estimated at more than $ 100 million a year. The timeline is protracted, too: The Corps estimates that, even with a quick legislative greenlight, the project would not be completed until around 2042.

There’s no lack of smaller-scale alternatives, most of them based on measures that are far cheaper and quicker, such as flood-proofing businesses and raising homes. Even when such options can’t offer much protection against mega-storms, they can guard against smaller events and the regular nuisance flooding that’s becoming more of an issue with sea-level rise.

These localized programs often can lower risks significantly and don’t take decades to complete, said Paul Kirshen, professor of climate adaptation at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, who led a study that rejected an outer harbor barrier for Boston in favor of onshore measures. Local improvements also can protect key infrastructure such as power stations and hospitals.

They also may be more immediately affordable than giant initiatives. The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the US needs to spend $ 2.59 trillion—more than a third of the entire federal budget for 2020—to bring infrastructure up to standard. Meanwhile, other cities are seeking federal dollars for billion-dollar-plus coastal proposal, and Biden’s infrastructure plan, which initially called for $ 50 billion for such projects, remains stalled in the Senate.

Dunes around the houses on Galveston Island in a drawing
After disgruntled locals pushed back against the idea of 17-foot levees around the Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island, the Corps replaced the levees with dunes. Illustration: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Texas General Land Office

Still, many experts are skeptical that patchwork solutions are up to the task of protecting coastal cities from rising seas and amplified storms.

Given all the uncertainties about climate change in the decades ahead, “we’re going into uncharted waters,” Kirshen says. “All of our solutions have to be questioned.”

And there are large and growing swaths of coast where the sea simply can’t be warded off for many years. “Are there points at which we can strategically retreat?” Sebastian asks. “And if we do strategic retreat, how do we do that in an equitable way with consideration of everybody’s ties to place? Those are really the hardest questions to ask. But I do think, in the context of talking about spending billions and billions of dollars on the coastal spine, those questions should be asked.”

“We have to think big,” Li says. “If you just have a Band-Aid solution, it’s not going to work.”

Merrell can’t guess exactly what will end up being built, or when, in Texas. But he does expect action there—and elsewhere around the US. We’re slowly shifting from recovery as our strategy to prevention, he says. “You don’t switch policies quickly and easily. We ought to expect this to be hard and a bit chaotic.”

Author: Purbita Saha
This post originally appeared on Science – Popular Science

How Some Americans Are Breaking Out of Political Bubbles

Last October, students in Sarah Candler’s seventh-grade English class in rural Tennessee were discussing the presidential election, echoing each other’s pro-Trump sentiments. One student dared the others: “Who’s a Democrat, anyway?”

A lone girl raised her hand. “I saw looks aghast from the other kids,” recalls Candler. Then Candler, too, raised her hand.

The closed-minded dialog troubled Candler. She began searching online for resources beyond her go-to mainstream news sources, such as The New York Times, to help her understand others’ politics. She found AllSides, a site founded by former Netscape director John Gable that displays headlines on the same stories from left-, center-, and right-leaning outlets.

Candler is among a small but growing number of Americans who are trying to break out of information silos. They are searching for sites like AllSides; the Flip Side, which summarizes conservative and liberal news on one policy issue each day; and Ground News, which shows how various stories are covered by left, center, and right-leaning outlets. For video, TheirTube displays simulated YouTube feeds for conservatives, liberals, conspiracy theorists, and climate deniers.

“We’re in a country where people are either polarized or apathetic,” says Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at NYU who founded Heterodox Academy, a nonprofit that seeks to encourage viewpoint diversity, particularly on college campuses. Adds Gable, the AllSides founder, “We have to get people outside of their information bubbles, but also their relationship bubbles.”

The majority of US adults say one-sided information on social media is a major problem, though many might mean only information that counters their own beliefs.

Visitors to sites like AllSides seek out views at odds with their own; they enjoy discussing political differences more than the fleeting satisfaction of tribal disputes on Facebook. Some are troubled by how their friend circles and social media followers mirror their own beliefs. A few, such as Candler, are looking to understand friends or acquaintances with differing political stances.

Alan Staney, an out-of-work graphics designer in Tallahassee, Florida, voted twice for Obama, and then twice for Trump. “Being politically heterodox just seems to make me enemies,” he says. “I’ve always felt politically homeless.” That feeling can extend to his family, where he navigates tensions between his liberal wife, a Biden supporter, and her conservative parents.

He’s visited the Flip Side and Ground News. “The more I looked into things like the Flip Side, the more I could understand her parents’ arguments,” he says. When he jokes about politics, half the room turns against him, depending on which side he’s teasing. They’ve resisted his advice to check out sites like the Flip Side.

Saira Blair was 18 when she was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates as a Republican, which at the time made her the youngest person in the US ever elected to state office. After leaving office in 2018, she tried to read six newspapers and magazines every morning to get a full range of perspectives. But finding the time was a struggle—now that her job didn’t focus on current events—and the subscription fees added up. She grew frustrated with the biases in what she read.

“I started going down my own path,” she says, searching out the Flip Side and AllSides. She “fell in love” with Divided We Fall, another site that aims to bridge political divides. These resources helped her piece together what felt like the true stories behind important events.

Today, Blair thinks her positions are more nuanced. Recently she appreciated an article on Divided We Fall about the benefits of transgender women playing sports with cis gender women, before learning about West Virginia’s legislation to ban their participation. If she were still in office, “I would do things differently, having read that article,” she says. Overall, she’d have “a more balanced, educated platform. These sites didn’t exist when I first ran, and I really wish they had.”

She also regularly checks Blindspotter, a tool offered by Ground News that classifies a user’s Twitter actions as skewing left or right, based on the person’s tweets, retweets and other interactions with liberal or conservative news sources. Blair aspires to gymnast-like balance: 50 percent interactions with sources from the left, and 50 percent from the right.

“What’s needed is a way to curate and find the best thinking from left and right,” says Haidt, who created an online library for this purpose with videos, books, and essays. To better understand perspectives on the left, for example, the library offers sources such as Edmund Fawcett’s essay “Reclaiming Liberalism.” Choose the library door on the right, and you’ll find thought pieces like Yuval Levin’s “A Conservative Governing Vision.” Haidt also reads the Flip Side and AllSides daily.

Author: Matt Fuchs
This post originally appeared on Business Latest