C.I.A. Informant Extracted From Russia Had Sent Secrets to U.S. for Decades [NYT back in ’19…pointing out that this effectively blinded the US in regard to what russia might have been up to with regard to the ’18 midterms & the then-upcoming ’20 presidential election]
…I was tempted to go with this as a header image
…because I may have been down something of a rabbit hole when it comes to a certain mandarin mandarin vis-à-vis the whole legal jeopardy thing
Much of the coverage of the Barr Memo — written over a weekend after a 7-hour review of the Mueller Report to justify a public statement to Congress exonerating the former President — continues to magnify the corruption of Barr’s act, rather than expose it.
The memo makes numerous factual errors (errors that can be easily documented thanks to a public record liberated by Jason Leopold). One Judge — Amy Berman Jackson — issued a ruling saying that the memo doesn’t do what it claimed it did (deliberate about whether Trump could be charged). She even included a timeline to show her work. Three more Circuit Judges agreed with ABJ’s opinion that DOJ misrepresented what they claimed they had done — by saying they were making a prosecutorial decision rather than a public messaging decision — in an attempt to keep the memo under wraps.
You’d think that after four judges had called out DOJ for shenanigans with this memo, anyone remotely interested in performing the function of journalism would explain why those judges found the project so suspect, and the import of that to the actual claims made in the memo. CREW spent years doing the hard work of liberating the memo to make it easy for journalists!
Instead, numerous outlets simply parroted the language of the memo that four judges had ruled to be a messaging project, thereby treating the memo as a valid exercise of legal analysis and not a performance of corruption.
…that starts to seem like a thing with no end after a while
The Center for Media and Democracy has published the agenda for a recent [Council for National Policy] meeting, held February 22 to 24 at the Ritz-Carlton in Laguna Niguel, California. In addition, Documented, an investigative watchdog and journalism project based in Washington, D.C., has obtained the membership roster and most recent 990 tax filings required of nonprofit organizations. Together, the materials shed new light on the CNP’s role in disrupting the democratic process. CNP archives illustrate the extensive planning its members undertook to discredit the 2020 election results, undermine local election officials, and incite the protest on January 6, 2021. The House select committee on January 6 has subpoenaed CNP election expert Cleta Mitchell, and the panel is also examining 29 texts exchanged between then–White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Supreme Court spouse Ginni Thomas (a board member of the CNP’s lobbying arm) in support of Donald Trump’s attempts to overturn the election. The Conservative Partnership Institute, which has attracted ample attention for its role in election subversion, is closely tied to the CNP, though few reporters have made the connection. The CPI’s chairman, president and CEO, senior legal partner, and senior director of policy are all prominent members of the CNP (see below), and the CPI has served as a public face for CNP tactics developed behind closed doors.
[…you know what…click through…you may feel one way or another about the new republic but it’s like the NYT annotations…that’s not gonna fit in this kind of post in a bunch of ways]
…mind you…it’s also easy…if less familiar these days…to get carried away when things sound like they have potential
Using nuclear fusion energy to power the world has long been two things: the ideal form of alternative energy and a development that’s decades from becoming reality.
For years, the science has proved difficult to master. But over the past year, nuclear fusion has inched closer to reality.
Scientists are mere years from getting more energy out of fusion reactions than the energy required to create them, they said. Venture capitalists are pumping billions into companies, racing to get a fusion power plant up and running by the early 2030s. The Biden administration, through the Inflation Reduction Act and the Department of Energy, is creating tax credits and grant programs to help companies figure out how to deploy this kind of energy.
…but…you know…there’s always kind of a gap between scientists getting to stuff & stuff getting to the rest of us
Yet challenges remain, according to nuclear scientists. The U.S. energy grid would need a significant redesign for fusion power plants to become common. The price of providing fusion power is still too high to be feasible.
…all the same…when it comes to steps in the right direction it’s nice to hear that we (in the broadest sense) might be making some potentially meaningful ones
Commonwealth Fusion Systems, a company spun out of MIT, raised $1.8 billion in December. That came nearly three months after it tested a magnet for its tokamak machine that will allow it to achieve “net energy,” meaning the machine will be able to make more fusion energy than it takes to sustain reactions.
With the cash, the company is building a facility in Devens, Mass., to build and house a full-scale model of the machine, called SPARC, which is slated to be fully operational by 2025. If that model can achieve net energy, the company plans to build a fusion power plant by the early 2030s, which could plug into the energy grid and begin providing power to homes.
…which sounds pretty great…although it’s clearly a long way from a foregone conclusion
Moreover, to create an electricity grid through which fusion technology provides large amounts of power, many things need to happen. Universities need to churn out scientists more capable of working on fusion technology. Fusion power companies need to build devices that create more energy than they consume. Scientific and manufacturing materials must be constructed in difficult ways if power plants want to scale.
…I mean…here’s to the good folks of MIT for keeping their eyes on a prize that’s literally out of sight to the rest of us
The new battery architecture, which uses aluminum and sulfur as its two electrode materials, with a molten salt electrolyte in between, is described today in the journal Nature, in a paper by MIT Professor Donald Sadoway, along with 15 others at MIT and in China, Canada, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
…I mean…that we hadn’t seen some of these possibilities seems like it might not reflect so well on how we go about things
In addition to being expensive, lithium-ion batteries contain a flammable electrolyte, making them less than ideal for transportation. So, Sadoway started studying the periodic table, looking for cheap, Earth-abundant metals that might be able to substitute for lithium. The commercially dominant metal, iron, doesn’t have the right electrochemical properties for an efficient battery, he says. But the second-most-abundant metal in the marketplace — and actually the most abundant metal on Earth — is aluminum. “So, I said, well, let’s just make that a bookend. It’s gonna be aluminum,” he says.
Then came deciding what to pair the aluminum with for the other electrode, and what kind of electrolyte to put in between to carry ions back and forth during charging and discharging. The cheapest of all the non-metals is sulfur, so that became the second electrode material. As for the electrolyte, “we were not going to use the volatile, flammable organic liquids” that have sometimes led to dangerous fires in cars and other applications of lithium-ion batteries, Sadoway says. They tried some polymers but ended up looking at a variety of molten salts that have relatively low melting points — close to the boiling point of water, as opposed to nearly 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit for many salts. “Once you get down to near body temperature, it becomes practical” to make batteries that don’t require special insulation and anticorrosion measures, he says.
The three ingredients they ended up with are cheap and readily available — aluminum, no different from the foil at the supermarket; sulfur, which is often a waste product from processes such as petroleum refining; and widely available salts. “The ingredients are cheap, and the thing is safe — it cannot burn,” Sadoway says.
…sure…when you put it like that…why exactly did we go with the ones made of stuff that combusts & is on the toxic end of the spectrum? …although that’s probably besides the point since this aren’t the kind of batteries you could carry around by the sounds of it
What’s more, the battery requires no external heat source to maintain its operating temperature. The heat is naturally produced electrochemically by the charging and discharging of the battery. “As you charge, you generate heat, and that keeps the salt from freezing. And then, when you discharge, it also generates heat,” Sadoway says. In a typical installation used for load-leveling at a solar generation facility, for example, “you’d store electricity when the sun is shining, and then you’d draw electricity after dark, and you’d do this every day. And that charge-idle-discharge-idle is enough to generate enough heat to keep the thing at temperature.”
This new battery formulation, he says, would be ideal for installations of about the size needed to power a single home or small to medium business, producing on the order of a few tens of kilowatt-hours of storage capacity.
For larger installations, up to utility scale of tens to hundreds of megawatt hours, other technologies might be more effective, including the liquid metal batteries Sadoway and his students developed several years ago and which formed the basis for a spinoff company called Ambri, which hopes to deliver its first products within the next year. For that invention, Sadoway was recently awarded this year’s European Inventor Award.
A new concept for low-cost batteries [MIT]
…I mean…obviously there’s still a lot of this kind of thing still trying to tie humanity’s shoelaces together
To secure the vote of Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), party leaders committed to auction off more drilling leases and relax permitting requirements for new projects. Experts say the measures may prolong the environmental damage many Americans now face — especially in areas where petroleum products are produced for export. Now, people in Port Arthur and other industrial communities say they must fight to maintain what power they have left: the ability to comment on — and push back against — polluting infrastructure.
Positioned in the far eastern corner of Texas, close to the Gulf of Mexico and just 13 miles from where the state’s oil was first discovered, Port Arthur has been a hot spot for refining and manufacturing petroleum products for more than a century.
And for just as long, says activist John Beard Jr., the city has been a “sacrifice zone” — one of many low-income communities of color that have borne the cost of the country’s economic growth.
Studies show that cancer risk among Texans rises the closer they get to a refinery. Other research has found that air pollution from oil and gas facilities is associated with chronic kidney disease. The mortality rate from lung cancer in Port Arthur is 29 percent higher than the state average, according to the Texas cancer registry, and 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the proportion of Port Arthur metro area residents reporting chronic kidney disease was 21 percent higher than the Texas average.
“The companies themselves are part of the fabric of those communities,” said Erik Milito, president of the National Ocean Industries Association, which advocates for offshore oil, gas and wind energy businesses. “It’s an economic base that … provides funding for schools and hospitals and infrastructure.”
…wonder what that looks like exactly in a state whose infrastructure comprehensively shat the bed several times over under the steady hand of a party who would prefer the weather would stop proving them to be fuckwits who presumably can’t see on account of being buried head first up the ass of the oil companies whose pockets they have both hands in?
…or…to put that another way
Activists are more worried, however, about what comes next.
In exchange for Manchin’s vote on the new law, Senate Democratic leaders promised to support his proposal to streamline the federal permitting process under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Magna Carta of environmental law. Congress is expected to take up that legislation as soon as it returns from August recess.
A draft version of Manchin’s proposal obtained by The Post suggests that this permitting “side deal” would cut the time period for public comment on projects from three months to two, tighten deadlines for agency environmental reviews, and set a five-month statute of limitations on lawsuits against potentially problematic permits.
“We are already the area of least resistance,” Kelley said, adding that without strong legal protections for public input, “you don’t have the money, you don’t have the power. Basically, you don’t have a voice.”
Environmental groups are rallying against the permitting changes, which Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) aim to pass before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Appalachian activists, concerned about a West Virginia pipeline that would be approved as part of the deal, have planned a demonstration in D.C. next month calling on Democrats to vote against the proposal.
But activists fear that the changes will be attached to must-pass legislation, such as a continuing resolution to fund the government — making it difficult for progressives to oppose.
…I mean…he/it is what it/he is
Manchin, a conservative Democrat who receives more campaign financing from the fossil fuel industry – including pipeline companies – than any other lawmaker in Congress, had agreed to back his party’s historic climate legislation before the crucial midterm elections. But only after he negotiated a side-deal to fast-track the MVP.
The deal is a sweet one for the pipeline’s supporters. Democratic leaders agreed to advance separate legislation in September that would “require the relevant agencies to take all necessary actions to permit the construction and operation of the MVP and give the DC circuit jurisdiction over any further litigation”.
This could help the pipeline company circumvent judges who have suspended construction and overturned permits over environmental concerns, and have future legal cases heard in an appeals court in Washington, which is considered more favourable to developers.
It’s part of a broader set of concessions negotiated by Manchin to diminish environmental protections and expedite permits and construction of pipelines and other energy infrastructure, limiting legal challenges by concerned communities and environmental groups.
It also mandates new oil and gas drilling deals in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico – places that environmentalists have also fought in court to preserve. Any public lands given over to solar and wind developments must be accompanied by millions of acres handed to oil and gas – tying the US to planet-heating energy projects for decades.
The Mountain Valley pipeline would stretch 303 miles across steep forested Appalachian mountains, farmland and a thousand or so streams, rivers and wetlands, transporting liquified shale gas from north-western West Virginia to southern Virginia.
It will cut through karst terrain – complex geological structures created by the breakdown of soluble rocks like limestone and dolomite – characterised by springs, creeks, caves and sinkholes. This Swiss-cheese like underground landscape has blessed the area with abundant water sources, but the porous, unstable nature of the land makes it vulnerable to contamination, according to the US Geological Survey. Recent heavy rains led to mudslides and slippage across the region, and pipeline opponents argue that putting anything volatile in the ground is too risky.
…& there’s plenty of other…wait-it’s-worse? stuff out there to get lost in
Twitter executives deceived federal regulators and the company’s own board of directors about “extreme, egregious deficiencies” in its defenses against hackers, as well as its meager efforts to fight spam, according to an explosive whistleblower complaint from its former security chief.
The complaint from former head of security Peiter Zatko, a widely admired hacker known as “Mudge,” depicts Twitter as a chaotic and rudderless company beset by infighting, unable to properly protect its 238 million daily users including government agencies, heads of state and other influential public figures.
Among the most serious accusations in the complaint, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, is that Twitter violated the terms of an 11-year-old settlement with the Federal Trade Commission by falsely claiming that it had a solid security plan. Zatko’s complaint alleges he had warned colleagues that half the company’s servers were running out-of-date and vulnerable software and that executives withheld dire facts about the number of breaches and lack of protection for user data, instead presenting directors with rosy charts measuring unimportant changes.
In addition, the whistleblower document alleges the company prioritized user growth over reducing spam, though unwanted content made the user experience worse. Executives stood to win individual bonuses of as much as $10 million tied to increases in daily users, the complaint asserts, and nothing explicitly for cutting spam.
Chief executive Parag Agrawal was “lying” when he tweeted in May that the company was “strongly incentivized to detect and remove as much spam as we possibly can,” the complaint alleges.
In an interview with The Post, Zatko described his decision to go public as an extension of his previous work exposing flaws in specific pieces of software and broader systemic failings in cybersecurity.
…but…I don’t know if I can get this across…in amongst this kind of bullshit
An official for an anti-abortion advocacy organization in Texas was arrested earlier this month for allegedly soliciting a child for sex, according to a criminal complaint obtained by NBC News.
…the level of sheer fucking incompetence demonstrated in the legal defense of a certain well-known twice-impeached florida retiree is genuinely something to behold
…I get how it makes me sound a little crazed…but it’s almost like it’s so performatively bad that it isn’t even really a bona fide attempt to make a case for any sort of legal defense but an out & out hail-mary style delaying action right down to the part where the lawyers who don’t want to admit to being lawyers in any legally-binding sense on account of all the lying in the documents seem apparently to be too inept to successfully submit digitally
…as is often the case you might be better served to listen to ms wheeler than myself
…but…seriously…if these are the cards he’s playing against stakes of this magnitude
…so…uh…yeah…sorry…like I said…rabbit holes everywhere I looked this morning…I’m going to go sniff out some tunes & some coffee…not necessarily in that order?
…maybe it’s just me…but…I can’t help but notice that there are an awful lot of ladies out there who seem like they’ve reached a point of up-with-this-I-shall-not-put…&…well…orange-you-glad-he-lost isn’t exactly what you’d call a slick talker…so…color me interested in seeing where this might all wind up?