…ok…so I could be talking about myself…in the aftermath of the most-indicted & unpresidented president’s tenure it did kind of feel like there was sort of less news in that not every day came with a fresh onslaught of reasons to wonder if today was the day that the wheels came off
Climate change will fundamentally reshape life on Earth in the coming decades, even if humans can tame planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions, according to a landmark draft report from the UN’s climate science advisers obtained by AFP.
Species extinction, more widespread disease, unliveable heat, ecosystem collapse, cities menaced by rising seas – these and other devastating climate impacts are accelerating and bound to become painfully obvious before a child born today turns 30.
The choices societies make now will determine whether our species thrives or simply survives as the 21st century unfolds, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says in a draft report seen exclusively by AFP.
But dangerous thresholds are closer than once thought, and dire consequences stemming from decades of unbridled carbon pollution are unavoidable in the short term.Climate crisis: dangerous thresholds to hit sooner than feared, UN report says [Guardian]
Donald Trump wanted Covid-19 to “take out” his former national security adviser John Bolton, a new book is set to reveal, as a heated summer of further colourful revelations about the controversial former president spills out from competing tomes.https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/jun/23/donald-trump-john-bolton-covid-19-nightmare-scenario
The nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington published a report Tuesday detailing how 881 Secret Service employees had tested positive between March 1, 2020 and March 9, 2021. The data, which came from a Freedom of Information Act request to the Secret Service, found that 477 members of the special agent division had been infected. Described by the Department of Homeland Security as “the elite agents you see protecting the President and Vice President,” special agents are also responsible for a number of safety assignments overseas and in the United States, such as protecting the president and vice president’s families, presidential candidates and visiting foreign leaders.
While the data does not give a breakdown of coronavirus infections between the two administrations during this period, the watchdog placed much of the blame on former president Donald Trump and former vice president Mike Pence for holding “large-scale rallies against public health guidelines.”
The group also slammed the Trump family’s regular travel during the pandemic and Trump’s photo op last year outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center “in a car with secret service agents while being treated for COVID, further putting agents in danger.”
“It’s impossible to overstate the risk the Trump administration put on Secret Service agents,” CREW wrote.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/06/23/secret-service-covid-trump/
…but in truth there’s still more going on out there in the world than realistically we can keep pace with
Boebert had to raise her game. And on Wednesday, she gave it her best shot. She assembled 10 colleagues in the House TV studio to announce her new resolution to censure Biden — a reprimand that a chamber of Congress has delivered only once in U.S. history, to Andrew Jackson — over Biden’s border policy. “The Biden regime has punched our Border Patrol agents in the face!” she shouted, after calling Vice President Harris “Cackling Kamala.”
Not bad. But Boebert was immediately overshadowed by her colleagues, who put on a clinic in crazy talk.Lauren Boebert, lost in a cacophony of crazy [WaPo]
…even if, like me, you read entirely too much of what we endearingly insist on calling the news even when there’s comparatively little new about it
Lawmakers were set to take a tentative framework to the White House on Thursday. Administration officials signaled the president was prepared to support it, pending final details.Biden and Senators Close In on Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal [NYT]
The legislators are jumping through these hoops in the first place because for the past three decades, the Republican Party has organized its agenda around an absolutist principle: no new taxes, ever. But despite the senators’ insistence, these arrangements do not actually avoid extractive charges on residents. They just launder the new fees through private investors.
Rather than the government financing the rebuilding of roads and bridges that get you across town, you pay a private company operating in contract with the government — while policymakers pretend that they have avoided imposing new costs.Republicans Want You (Not the Rich) to Pay for Infrastructure
By rooting through files stored on Google Cloud, a researcher says he recovered 13 early coronavirus sequences that had disappeared from a database last year.Scientist Finds Early Virus Sequences That Had Been Mysteriously Deleted [NYT]
A committee led by Michigan Republicans on Wednesday published an extraordinary debunking of voter fraud claims in the state, delivering a comprehensive rebuke to a litany of accusations about improprieties in the 2020 election and its aftermath.
The 55-page report, produced by a Michigan State Senate committee of three Republicans and one Democrat, is a systematic rebuttal to an array of false claims about the election from supporters of former President Donald J. Trump. The authors focus overwhelmingly on Michigan, but they also expose lies perpetuated about the vote-counting process in Georgia.
The report is unsparing in its criticism of those who have promoted false theories about the election. It debunks claims from Trump allies including Mike Lindell, the chief executive of MyPillow; Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former president’s lawyer; and Mr. Trump himself.Michigan Republicans Debunk Voter Fraud Claims in Unsparing Report [NYT]
…so it’s somewhat of a foregone conclusion that this isn’t going to wind up including all the things I might have been tempted to try & cram into it
A linguist for a U.S. Special Operations task force in Iraq was sentenced Wednesday to 23 years in prison in a rare terrorism espionage case, after she admitted she turned over names of informants and other classified data to a Lebanese man with ties to the militant group Hezbollah.https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/legal-issues/pentagon-linguist-sentenced-espionage/2021/06/23/story.html
A presumption of innocence is never afforded to poor people accused of petty theft. Yet billionaires benefit from it every day when it comes to taxesWe’re told billionaire tax avoidance is ‘perfectly legal’. But is it? [Guardian]
Policymakers and the media are paying too much attention to how quickly the US economy will emerge from the pandemic-induced recession, and not nearly enough to the nation’s deeper structural problem – the huge imbalance of wealth that could enfeeble the economy for years.
Seventy per cent of the US economy depends on consumer spending. But wealthy people, who now own more of the economy than at any time since the 1920s, spend only a small percentage of their incomes. Lower-income people, who were in trouble even before the pandemic, spend whatever they have – which has become very little.
In a very practical sense, then, the US economy depends on the spending of most Americans who don’t have much to spend. That spells trouble ahead.
History is repeating itself. Typical US wages have hardly increased for decades, adjusted for inflation. Most economic gains have gone to the top, just as Eccles’ “giant suction pump” drew an increasing portion of the nation’s wealth into a few hands before the Great Depression.
The result has been consumer spending financed by borrowing, creating chronic fragility. After the housing and financial bubbles burst in 2008, we avoided another Great Depression only because the government pumped enough money into the system to maintain demand, and the Fed kept interest rates near zero.
The heart of the imbalance is America’s wealthy and the corporations they own have huge bargaining power – both market power in the form of monopolies, and political power in the form of lobbyists and campaign contributions.
By contrast, most workers have little or no bargaining power – neither inside their firms because of the near-disappearance of labor unions, nor in politics because political parties have devolved from giant membership organizations to fundraising machines.The American economy is perilously fragile. Concentration of wealth is to blame [Guardian]
Until the structural imbalance is remedied, the American economy will remain perilously fragile. It will also be vulnerable to the next demagogue wielding anger and resentment as substitutes for real reform.
The splashy news out of the Supreme Court is the case of the cursing cheerleader, who won her First Amendment challenge against a Pennsylvania high school that suspended her from the junior varsity squad for posting a vulgar message on Snapchat. The bigger, more ominous news on Wednesday came in two cases that are a lot less sexy, as the court’s conservative majority continued its passion project: limiting the reach of government regulation and enhancing presidential authority over regulatory agencies.https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/06/23/supreme-court-majority-passion-project/
…it’s maybe worth noting that the news doesn’t always make things clearer
Responding to a spike in homicides across the country, President Biden on Wednesday laid out an anti-crime strategy from the White House that cracks down on gun stores that don’t follow federal rules, steps up programs for recently released convicts and provides more support for police departments across the country.Biden’s plan to tackle rising homicides: tighten gun regulations, bolster police [WaPo]
In the national conversation about policing over the past year, public attention has focused on those who die at the hands of officers. Americans know the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice and others killed by cops. Few know that tens of thousands of people like Paulino end up in emergency rooms after run-ins with police.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that since 2015, more than 400,000 people have been treated in emergency rooms because of a violent interaction with police or security guards. But there’s almost no nationwide data on the nature or circumstances of their injuries. Many of the country’s roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies don’t tally or make public the number of people who need medical care after officers break their arms, bruise their faces, or shock them with Tasers.
Researchers point out that only a tiny portion of arrests involve force. But when police do use force, more than half of the incidents ended with a suspect or civilian getting hurt, according to a 2020 analysis. It’s unclear how serious the harm is. “We need better data on injury severity,” said Matthew Hickman, a professor at Seattle University and one of the study’s authors.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/violent-encounters-with-police-send-thousands-of-people-to-the-er-every-year
In an era of viral videos of police violence and rising numbers of fatal police shootings, the momentum for police de-escalation of force is growing among police leaders nationwide. On Wednesday, New York City’s police department, the largest in the United States, announced it will train all 35,000 of its officers in de-escalation, using the Police Executive Research Forum’s Integrating Communications, Assessment and Tactics approach to reduce violent encounters and injuries to both officers and citizens.
The ICAT theory rejects the long-held police tactic of meeting force with greater force, though it doesn’t apply in situations where someone has a gun. But The Washington Post’s database of fatal police shootings shows that since 2015, about 40 percent of people killed didn’t have a gun. Chuck Wexler, the longtime head of PERF and vocal proponent of de-escalation, said 40 percent is where police can make a significant reduction in the number of people killed each year.
For officers long trained in the “use-of-force continuum,” the fear is often expressed that not using force will get them wounded or killed. “Actually, the opposite is true,” said New York Assistant Police Chief Kenneth Corey, the head of training for the department. “That’s what all the studies have proven. If we can reduce incidents in which we have to use force, it keeps everyone safer, not just the citizens but the officer. We’re not taking any tools out of the toolbox. We’re adding tools to it.”
Corey referred to a study released last fall by University of Cincinnati criminologist Robin S. Engel, funded by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the Center for Police Research and Policy. The study examined the Louisville Metro Police Department before and after it received PERF’s ICAT training in de-escalation and found 28 percent fewer use-of-force incidents by officers, 26 percent fewer injuries to citizens and 36 percent fewer injuries to officers.https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/06/23/new-york-police-deescalate/ [WaPo]
The ICAT approach counsels officers to move cautiously upon arrival, communicating more with dispatchers to obtain additional information about the subject, rather than immediately taking charge of a scene where someone isn’t wielding a gun. The goal is to start a conversation, to calm the subject rather than confront them, while maintaining a safe distance from them and waiting for more resources rather than promptly seeking an arrest. PERF has also added new modules on reducing “suicide by cop” with similar tactics, and intervening in situations where other officers may be using force inappropriately.
…the thing is
Military leaders excoriated Rep. Matt Gaetz during a House hearing on Wednesday after the Florida Republican raised questions about critical race theory being taught to the nation’s soldiers.
“We do not teach critical race theory, we don’t embrace critical theory and I think that is a spurious conversation,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told Gaetz during a House Armed Services Committee hearing. “And so we are focused on extremism behaviors and not ideology, not peoples thoughts not people’s political orientations.”https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/military-leaders-push-back-questions-rep-gaetz-about-critical-race-theory
…shit’s complicated…which is why it pays to try to understand stuff
Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pushed back on Wednesday against suggestions from a Republican congressman that the military was becoming too “woke,” calling such accusations “offensive” and alluding directly to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in which some veterans and active-duty members participated.General Milley pushes back on G.O.P. accusations of a ‘woke’ military.
…but if you follow that tweet to the dubious wasteland that is twitter there’s a surprising number of responses that seem to either not have watched the clip…or perhaps more tellingly either don’t understand what critical race theory is or assume that the people reading their responses will themselves either not watch the clip or not know what the theory is…because they claim the clip doesn’t feature a defense of critical race theory…which is odd given that whilst extolling the virtues of being widely read in things which explain positions you don’t necessarily hold the general mentions that one of those things is something “started at harvard law school years ago that proposed[…]that there were laws in the United States[…]that led to a power differential with african americans that were ‘three quarters of a human being’ when this country was formed[…]then we had a civil war & an emancipation proclamation to change that and we brought it up to the civil rights act in 1964″…which sounds to me a lot like a description of the basic origin of what the term critical race theory was coined for…& in conjunction with claiming there’s some utility (not least in the context of things like the armed storming of the seat of government by a mob bent on overturning the result of an election) in “having some situational understanding about the country which we are here to defend”…that sounds an awful lot like a defense of the idea that theory bears learning about…but that’s just me…& let’s face it…I’m almost certainly dangerously socialist at heart
…I’ll try to go find some tunes to sit at the bottom of this…but speaking of the bit at the bottom…the machine translation which provides the subtitles to that little speech by the general is unintentionally hilarious