…us sinners [DOT 6/11/22]

for whom the bell polls...

…I don’t know about you folks…but I don’t know a whole lot of people for whom a trip to church is part of the sunday routine…but someone recently pointed out to me that might be a minority position in global terms…that the majority of people in the majority of places are “people of faith”…&…I might find that a tad ironic…because if I’m honest I’m finding that current events are testing my faith in human nature…much less a benevolent deity

Election officials in some of the most closely watched jurisdictions across the country say they are bracing for a new wave of conspiracy-theory-fueled threats — even as they remain confident in their ability to do their jobs under heightened scrutiny.
The officials also warned that the prospect of delayed results in their states because of ballot counting rules and the closeness of contests, among other possible factors, could invite a fresh round of conspiracy theories or suggestions of wrongdoing that lead to a new round of harassment. Still, they expressed no doubts about their ability to conduct safe and accurate counts.
Misleading or outright false conspiracy theories about voting machines, the secure drop boxes used to collect mail ballots and the election officials themselves spread like wildfire online, routinely amplified by the former president and his close allies nationally and at the state level. The claims have persisted even though there has been no evidence of widespread electoral malfeasance, and scores of officials across the country left their jobs amid the barrage of accusations and personal attacks. Election officials say they are still contending with the fallout.
NBC News interviewed election workers in six of the seven closest swing states by presidential margin in 2020, from which nearly 60% of complaints to the Justice Department’s Threats to Election Workers Task Force that met the criteria for further investigation have originated during the year it has been up and running.

Across those battlegrounds, the officials said they were on high alert over warning signs they believe signal potentially disruptive forces in the 2022 election. They include intimidating tactics targeting themselves and voters, a growing pile of lawsuits challenging certain voting rules, candidates who refuse to say they’ll accept the results of their elections, and the specter of delays in tallying or recounting tight races, giving more time and air for conspiracy theories to catch fire and allowing the cycle to intensify.
Federal law enforcement has sounded the alarm. Last week, a joint assessment authored by the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center and U.S. Capitol Police said domestic extremists “pose a heightened threat to the 2022 midterm elections” and may find elections workers and officials as “attractive” targets. As of June, federal investigators had already reviewed more than 1,000 incidents referred to the federal task force in charge of threats to election workers in the year it has been operational.

…although…I guess it’s not hard to see how maybe things could have people on their knees & praying

Ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections, Republicans in many parts of the country have worked to limit access to the ballot box for many individuals. But in Louisiana, they’ve succeeded in erasing an entire congressional district, one that not surprisingly could have gone to the Democrats. This egregious disenfranchisement — which hinges on an odious redefining of Black identity to narrow the pool of Black voters — has flown too far under the radar even as control of the U.S. House hangs in the balance.
However, these legislators are still governed by a provision of the Voting Rights Act that requires minority opportunity districts (congressional districts in which at least half of the voting age population is a minority group). In practice, opportunity districts ensure that Black and other minority voters — who may not otherwise constitute a majority in any one district even as they make up a significant part of the state population — have a voice in Congress.

To overcome this remaining hurdle, Louisiana Republicans are trying to minimize the number of Black voters who count as, well, Black.
So the NAACP and others took the Louisiana Legislature to court. The court ruled in their favor in June, at which point the state was ordered to draw up the new district in time for the general election on Nov. 8. Instead of complying, Louisiana’s Republican Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin launched a Supreme Court challenge based on legal reasoning that evokes the era of Jim Crow and blood purity tests. The conservatives on the high court accepted the case and put a hold on implementing a second majority-minority district while it considers the case later this term, effectively robbing Black Louisianans of their full representation in the House.
They claim that those who identify as multiracial — say, Black and Latino or Black and Asian — were wrongly used to bolster the calculations for Black minority opportunity zones. Currently, Americans are free to report themselves as one or multiple races in the census conducted every 10 years; the census itself doesn’t determine which race a multiracial individual identifies as. The Voting Rights Act, meanwhile, requires remedies in cases where minority residents vote as a cohesive group, rather than simply being a large multiracial population.

“This is Jim Crow-era stuff — a state with a Black population of over 30% has a single Black member of Congress. That’s crazy,” said Sophia Nelson, an attorney admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court. “Southern states with large Black populations want to control where the Black voters are represented and how. It keeps power in white hands, not in Black ones.”

…what can I say…I’m just not comfortable with the objects of devotion some people are inclined to take on faith

The misinformation came from all levels of Republican politics. A U.S. senator circulated the view that “none of us will ever know” what really happened at the Pelosis’ San Francisco home. A senior Republican congressman referred to the attacker as a “nudist hippie male prostitute,” baselessly asserting that the suspect had a personal relationship with Mr. Pelosi. Former President Donald J. Trump questioned whether the attack might have been staged.

The world’s richest man helped amplify the stories. But none of it was true.
The flood of falsehoods showed how ingrained misinformation has become inside the G.O.P., where the reflexive response of the rank and file — and even a few prominent figures — to anything that might cast a negative light on the right is to deflect with more fictional claims, creating a vicious cycle that muddies facts, shifts blame and minimizes violence.

[…] In a pattern that has become commonplace, a parade of Republicans — helped along by right-wing media personalities including the Fox New host Tucker Carlson, and prominent people including the newly installed Twitter owner Elon Musk, the world’s wealthiest man — had already abetted the viral spread of lies about the attack, distorting the account of what happened before facts could get in the way. Finding life on far-right websites and the so-called dark web, conspiracy theories and falsehoods leaped from the fringes to the mainstream.

While many Republican leaders denounced the violence and some, including former Vice President Mike Pence, expressed sympathy for the Pelosis, none of them publicly condemned the falsehoods their colleagues were elevating or did anything to push back on the false narrative. That left others to fill the void.

“Just produce the police body cam, — why is that so hard?” Mr. Carlson demanded on his show on Wednesday night. Addressing those criticizing the conspiracy theorizing, he added: “We’re not the crazy people; you’re the liars. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions, period.”

…what about my questions, though…like “what the fuck is wrong with your tuckered ass, carlson?”

Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation expert, said no amount of evidence — be it police body camera footage or anything else — could get in the way of such falsehoods in the eyes of those who do not want to believe facts.

“It doesn’t matter when there are documents or sworn testimony claiming something is, in fact, not the case,” Ms. Jankowicz said. “There will be an elaborate reframing effort. If the footage was released, people would claim it was fabricated. There’s no bottom.”
According to federal charging documents, Mr. DePape was enthralled by the conspiracy theories that have portrayed Ms. Pelosi as an enemy of the country. His online activities show him ranting about the 2020 election being stolen, seeming to deny the gassing of Jews at Auschwitz and claiming that schoolteachers were grooming children to be transgender.

His attorney has said he planned to argue that Mr. DePape was so influenced by disinformation that it should be considered a mitigating circumstance.

…I’m not suggesting that the US has any sort of a monopoly on this kind of crazy

A 66-year-old man threw at least two gasoline bombs at the walls of a migrant center on Oct. 30 near the port town of Dover, a point of arrival for many who attempt the perilous journey to Britain across the English Channel in small boats. The assailant was later found dead. Authorities identified him as Andrew Leak.

British counterterrorism police said they found evidence indicating the man who arrived alone in a car and hurled “a number of crude incendiary devices” outside was “motivated by a terrorist ideology.” While the agency said the probe continues, it added there were no signs he had accomplices.

Saturday’s statement said investigators spoke to witnesses and recovered items including digital devices. “Examining these items suggests there was an extreme right wing motivation behind the attack,” it said, without elaborating further on the evidence.

Two people suffered minor injuries and around 700 migrants had to be relocated to Manston in southeast England, where another migrant center came under fresh scrutiny this week.

…for context…manston already had a lot more people crammed in it than it should have before that 700 were added…& depending on who you ask…that isn’t as accidental as all that…which is an unpleasantly familiar chorus

The Change the Terms coalition, which includes the civil rights group Color of Change and the good-government group Common Cause, is releasing on Thursday a scathing 19-page analysis of the major tech companies’ election-related policies and whether they are living up to their pledges to fight disinformation ahead of the vote.

…for the record…that’s not next thursday…although it’s still arguably a case of too little too late

The report argues that the tech companies’ plans to fight disinformation and connect users with credible information arrived too late and were not aggressive enough to address proliferating false claims about widespread voter fraud or specific attacks against election officials.
The coalition’s report, which was written primarily by researchers and activists at the media advocacy group Free Press, offers a dim assessment about the way tech companies have wielded their power to shape public discourse during a high-stakes campaign season when Americans will decide who will represent them in the House of Representatives, a third of the Senate and numerous state offices. Millions of voters already have cast their ballots.
The coalition’s report also urges the platforms to bolster their policies to protect election workers from violence and harassment. Election workers and their families have been experiencing death threats as well as sexual and racist attacks spawned by their refusal to back Trump’s claims of a rigged election or because they have been caught up in false claims that they were part of an election-rigging scheme.

…it’s hard to know which is the cart & which the horse when it comes to the deluded leading the delusional

‘I didn’t do it to make more money. I did it to try to help humanity.” Elon Musk in his own words on buying Twitter. He follows in the footsteps of fellow multibillionaire Mark Zuckerberg, who in 2017 published a “manifesto” for Facebook, setting out how he wanted it to help save humanity from itself.

…it’s not entirely a lie…the first part, anyway…between the second tranche of tesla shares he flogged & the third there was a 3-for-1 stock split…& the price fluctuations were fairly extreme…but according to the calculations someone did…& which I for one can’t fault…turning that slice of his holdings into $20-odd billion wiped about $100billion off the value of his holding…& potentially…were the share price of tesla to take a sufficient dive…there’s a run of dominoes in various deals he has that leverage his shares which could trigger another run of dominoes that would see him cede control of his golden goose…& maybe twitter along with it…but that’s an altogether different rabbit hole…if perhaps less fictional than some

Delusions of grandeur in wildly rich men aren’t unusual, so it’s tempting to scoff, then move on. But they are right to claim that their ownership of huge social media platforms confers significant power – in their heads, to do good, but, for the rest of us, to create harms spanning mental health to child safety to health misinformation. Zuckerberg’s manifesto didn’t stop Facebook helping stoke violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar or in the Tigray conflict in Ethiopia.
Musk’s vision of Twitter is as a “digital town square”: a democratising force that takes power away from the editors who filter stories and opinions through their own worldviews and hands it back to the people. What this underplays, however, is how much of the content we see is pushed to us by algorithms whose success is measured purely by user-engagement.
The most engaging material is that which triggers emotional reactions; on Twitter, this means stuff that prompts outrage and anger or strong feelings of belonging. This is why so much of its content is about signalling virtue to like-minded followers and picking bad-faith fights, rather than information exchange or open-minded discourse. This is how to go viral; it’s what the algorithms push, and hence encourage.
To assume that there have ever been benign gatekeepers of politics and culture would be to romanticise. Newspaper editors have always been swayed by what sells copies and what we want to read has never been perfectly aligned with what might be considered in the public interest to print. What publishers and record labels choose to platform has always been driven not just by commercial interests but their own tastes and prejudices. There are some who might argue that TikTok’s FYP algorithm simply reflects back to us what we collectively want better than any human could.

But these algorithms are the platforms’ most jealously guarded commercial secrets. No one really knows how they work and the rise of TikTok – and signs that Meta, Facebook’s parent company, is increasingly looking to emulate the way TikTok operates – suggests that the primacy of the algorithm is only going to grow. To what extent do the algorithms feed us what we really want or what we are manipulated to want? And what consequences might this have for political communication and our cultural preferences? Like them or not, they will probably be near impossible to unpick.

…I dunno…the devil may be in the details

“Paid for by Citizens for Sanity” is all that the advert reveals in small type at the end of the 30-second video. It took the sleuthing of the non-profit group Open Secrets to expose the producers as former members of Donald Trump’s inner circle, including the far-right senior White House adviser Stephen Miller.
The total investment in 2022 is projected by the nonpartisan ad tracking firm AdImpact to be $9.7bn, pushing America close to a stunning new norm: the $10bn election.

Of that, AdImpact estimates that 30% of the political advertising spend, about $2.9bn, is going into digital advertising or to ads placed through connected TV (CTV) – smart TVs that support video content streaming through apps such as Roku or Apple TV.

Such vast sums suggest that the age of the online political ad is firmly upon us. It has been propelled by the “cord-cutting” generation which has dispensed with conventional television in favour of streaming and on-demand formats.
The rise of online political advertising began tentatively with Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign in 2008 and has grown exponentially every cycle since. Despite its billion-dollar size, the world of online political ads remains almost entirely unregulated.
Adav Noti, legal director of the non-profit Campaign Legal Center, spent 10 years as a lawyer at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) which is responsible for enforcing campaign finance laws. He expressed dismay at the agency’s inability to keep up with a dramatically changing media landscape.

“We are more than a decade into an era of campaigns increasingly being conducted through digital, and the only government agency charged with regulating that activity has done nothing about it. Literally not a single piece of regulation.”

Noti said that one of the effects of the FEC failing to engage with the explosion in online political advertising has been that social media giants and other big digital platforms have been left to their own devices. “Facebook, Google, TikTok and the rest have become the de facto regulators, and they set their own rules.”
Attempts by Congress to legislate for more accountability have all succumbed on the rock of Republican intransigence in the US Senate. The Honest Ads Act, a bipartisan bill backed by the Brennan Center that would make digital ads subject to the same disclosure rules as broadcast TV and radio, was included in the Freedom to Vote Act that failed to overcome a Republican filibuster in January.

…but it’s possible the bulk evil is in the broad strokes?

The mass layoffs at Twitter that diminished several teams, including staff on the company’s safety and misinformation teams, could spell disaster during the US midterm elections next week, experts have warned.

The company has laid off around 50% of its workforce, according to news reports; a figure that Musk and others have not disputed, amounting to an estimated 3,700 people.

The internal chaos unfolding at Twitter, in addition to a sudden lack of staff and resources dedicated to counteracting misinformation, has created ideal conditions for election misinformation to thrive, said Paul Barrett, an expert in disinformation and fake news at New York University.

“Twitter is in the midst of a category 5 hurricane, and that is not a good environment for fostering vigilance when dealing with inevitable attempts to spread falsehoods and hateful content on a very influential platform,” he said.

…I mean…never mind a bird’s eye view…my understanding is that a category 5 hurricane is the sort of thing you can see from space

In addition to a portion of its trust and safety team, Twitter appears to have axed the entire curation team, responsible for creating guides to authoritative information often surfaced alongside topics with high risk of misinformation. A London-based team member tweeted on Friday that the group at Twitter “is no more”. Another former team member echoed the claims on Friday, stating that the changes “will make Twitter noisier, more dangerous and less interesting”.

Twitter also appears to have eliminated its ethics, transparency, and accountability team, which is in charge of opening up the platform’s algorithm for external review and studying the amplification of misinformation and other content.
In addition to misinformation concerns on Twitter, cuts to infrastructure have raised alarm that the platform itself may not survive the influx of traffic expected during the elections. The issue was called into focus earlier this year when a whistleblower accused the company of “egregious” failings in security and safety.

An internal source at the company told Reuters that the infrastructure cuts were “delusional”, adding that when user traffic surges, the service can fail “in spectacular ways”.
“What we have seen so far has been a canary in the coal mine for what might come in the days immediately before and – crucially – in the days after the election,” Barrett said. “This is an all-hands-on-deck situation, and unfortunately many of those hands are out the door.”

…oh…& in case you were wondering…twitter might be musk’s own little fiefdom now…but…that doesn’t entirely make him a law unto himself…however much he may be acting like it does

A lawsuit was filed against Twitter on Thursday alleging the social media company now headed by Elon Musk violated federal and state law that requires 60 days’ notice of mass layoffs, according to a court document.

…implausible as it might sound…it seems like his argument is more or less “oh, we haven’t laid them off – we just want them to stop doing their jobs”

But Twitter told employees it will continue to provide pay and benefits, even though they are no longer working. An email from Twitter sent to laid off employees in New York and seen by NBC News said Friday was their last “working day” at the company but that they would be paid through their separation date in February. Another Twitter employee who received a severance email and asked to withold their name also said they were told they would be paid until early February with full benefits.

Three other staff members have been locked out of their Twitter accounts as of Thursday with no formal notice of a layoff, which they interpret to mean they will lose their jobs, according to the lawsuit.
The suit seeks a court to declare that Twitter is violating the WARN Act and to prevent it from doing so. It also seeks to prevent Twitter from trying to obtain releases from workers without informing them of their rights and the lawsuit, according to the document.
A Twitter employee told NBC News that Thursday’s email was the first communication staff members had received from the company since the acquisition Oct. 27.

“It’s total chaos, house melting down, everyone looking towards this email,” the employee said.

…so…I guess you could say I’m feeling skeptical about things that seem easier said than done

President Joe Biden vowed to “free Iran” on Thursday, before saying demonstrators there appeared on track to “free themselves” as anti-government unrest sweeps the country.
“Don’t worry, we’re gonna free Iran,” Biden told supporters in an aside during a campaign speech in California late Thursday, after audience members appeared to call on him to address the ongoing protests. “They’re gonna free themselves pretty soon,” he added.

He was speaking at a campaign rally for Democratic Rep. Mike Levin at the MiraCosta College near San Diego. He did not expand on the comment or mention any specific actions the United States might take.
“Change in Iran should only come from within Iran. But that does not absolve the world of the obligation to stand with the Iranian people as they protest for women, for life and for freedom,” the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said echoing the slogan that has been the hallmark of more than six weeks of protests.

…whether or not taking to the streets is really the part that shifts the needle in matters of the whip hand


…there are certainly things you’d think were worth…well…getting up in arms about

My Thursday column is about the assault on Medicare and Social Security that is almost certain to follow if Republicans prevail on Tuesday. If the G.O.P. wins control of Congress, we can expect it to hold the economy hostage, most obviously by weaponizing the debt ceiling, in an attempt to force big cuts in Medicare and Social Security.
This time around, the demands are likely to be even bigger. A report from the Republican Study Committee, which probably gives a good idea of where the G.O.P. will go, calls for upping the retirement age and the age of Medicare eligibility to 70.

The report justifies such a rise by pointing to the long-term increase in the number of years Americans can expect to live after age 65, which it calls a “miracle.”

What the report doesn’t note are two probably related caveats for this miracle. First, the increase in seniors’ life expectancy has actually been much smaller here than in other wealthy nations. Second, progress has been very uneven within America, with much bigger gains for groups with high socioeconomic status — precisely the people who need Medicare and Social Security the least — than for the less fortunate.
What explains older Americans’ tendency to die younger than their counterparts abroad? It’s not, for the most part, their inability to pay for health care in their later years. For now, at least, all Americans 65 or older are covered by Medicare, a universal, single-payer system, although it doesn’t cover everything, and many seniors still have trouble paying for medical necessities.

So what’s the problem? Inadequate health care earlier in life surely takes a toll, but more broadly, our high mortality probably reflects our society’s extreme inequality — not just in income but also in status, perceived economic opportunity and more. Americans on the losing side of high inequality have trouble affording health care and adequate nutrition; they are also, all too often, demoralized by their position, leading to deaths of despair and unhealthy lifestyles that take a toll over time.
Yet progress in raising life expectancy has been extremely unequal among income groups. Here are widely cited estimates from Dana P. Goldman and Peter R. Orszag of likely life expectancy at 65 for American men born in 1928, 1960 and 1990, broken out by wage quartile — that is, which quarter of the wage distribution they were in while working. (The numbers for women are similar.)
It’s not necessarily income per se that is driving these disparities. To some extent, it could reflect other factors that are correlated with income, especially education. Anne Case and Angus Deaton, who famously pointed out the rise of deaths of despair, have shown that mortality for adults — surely including adults over 65 — has been rising for Americans without a college degree but not for those with one.

And there’s also a strong regional element. Woolf and Schoomaker show that overall life expectancy, probably reflected among seniors, too, has diverged between lagging heartland states and coastal states, part of a trend of rising regional disparities as the knowledge economy has favored large metropolitan areas with highly educated work forces.
How does all this bear on Republican proposals to raise the retirement and Medicare eligibility ages? Because seniors’ life expectancy varies so much by class, an increase in the age of eligibility for major programs will take a much bigger bite out of retirement for Americans with low socioeconomic status, and correspondingly fewer years to collect benefits, than it will on those higher on the ladder.
One way to think about all of this, which is only a slight caricature, is that Republicans are telling janitors in Oklahoma that they can’t get benefits in their 60s — even though their life expectancy hasn’t gone up by much — because lawyers in New York are living longer.

It’s quite a position to take, and it would surely provoke a huge backlash — if voters knew about it, which most of them seem not to.

…conversely…some things are much harder to ignore

In times of economic instability, gas prices are the most visible and easily understandable gauge of how the nation is faring: Outsize placards on every street corner and at every rest stop are a constant reminder for many citizens that times are tough, neon signs that shine projections of pocketbook pain down to the thousandth of a decimal. You don’t need to know much about macroeconomics or public policy to know that you’re being squeezed.
The roots of this dependence go back to before the 1970s oil shocks, to the postwar years when America’s economy boomed, thanks to cheap and plentiful gas. The country was building a massive system of interstate highways made possible by the 1956 Interstate Highway Act; developers erected single-family suburban homes that required a car trip just to pick up a pint of milk; the government failed to invest in mass transit. Gas stations competed with giveaways and free windshield washings. The drive-in movie theater and the drive-through restaurant had become icons of American culture. Cars grew and grew in size until they became living rooms on wheels. With their tail fins, luxurious interiors and powerful engines, cars were the embodiment of American freedom.
By the time Mr. Reagan left office in 1989, there were over 30 million more cars on the road than there had been at the start of the energy crisis in 1973. And in spite of calls for energy independence, America got more and more of its oil from the Persian Gulf. It was not a surprise, then, that President George H.W. Bush, himself an oilman, launched a military operation in 1991, Operation Desert Storm, in response to Saddam Hussein’s attack on Kuwait. “We cannot allow any tyrant to practice economic blackmail,” he said.
In the 1970s, Democrats thought the oil hikes that followed war and revolution in the Middle East required an equally drastic political response: price controls, rationing and corporate profit caps. Today, with OPEC price hawks taking advantage of another war, polls suggest that Mr. Biden would see enormous political and electoral dividends by imposing temporary price and profit controls on the industry. Some economists, like the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, agree.

…points for trying, I guess…but…friends like these…yadda yadda

While speaking at an event Friday in Carlsbad, Calif., to highlight the Democratic Party’s achievements heading into the midterms, Biden celebrated the passage of the Chips and Science Act by championing new energy technologies and suggested coal plants should be a thing of the past.

“No one is building new coal plants, because they can’t rely on it, even if they have all the coal guaranteed for the rest of their existence of the plant. So it’s going to become a wind generation,” Biden said.

Later, he added: “We’re going to be shutting these plants down all across America and having wind and solar.”

That prompted a rebuke from Manchin, who on Saturday called the comments “outrageous and divorced from reality.”

…when it comes to who might be divorcing who from reality it’s a cliché to say manchin reads like he plays for the other team…whose initials may as well stand for god-damned obvious projection

“Being cavalier about the loss of coal jobs for men and women in West Virginia and across the country who literally put their lives on the line to help build and power this country is offensive and disgusting,” the senator said.

…that kind of cheap political point-scoring in light of the broader context…sure seems to qualify for the title of “offensive and disgusting”

Supercharged extreme weather events are striking every corner of the globe, and every year seems scarier than the last. The climate is breaking down much faster than even the worst case scenario predictions – way too fast and erratically for even the richest countries to adequately adapt and prepare.

It’s a perverse reality that the countries and communities that have contributed least to the greenhouse gases heating the planet are suffering the most – and are least equipped to cope with the death and destruction. After a catastrophic year that left 37 million people facing hunger and starvation in the drought-stricken greater Horn of Africa and a third of Pakistan under water due to unprecedented rainfall, expect to hear lots about loss and damage at Cop27.
Island nations and other climate vulnerable countries started raising loss and damage more than 30 years ago, but it’s become an increasingly prominent and contentious issue at the UN climate talks in the past decade or so as the speed, magnitude and cost of global heating has become apparent. At the 2021 summit, Cop26 in Glasgow, a coalition of mostly developing nations representing six out of every seven people in the world called for the countries most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions to commit to pledging money for loss and damage.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, given the UK’s role as Cop26 president, their call for new financial support under article 9 of the Paris agreement (in addition to funds for adaptation and mitigation) was rejected amid opposition from the US, EU, Australia and others. Almost all references were removed in the final agreement, the Glasgow Climate Pact, and instead the Glasgow dialogue was established, ostensibly to agree on a clear path and process for loss and damage finance.
In a boost to developing nations, loss and damage was spotlighted in this year’s IPCC report despite opposition by the US, whose main goal is to provide climate finance in the form of loans not grants. Still, western economies are reeling from the pandemic and Russia’s war in Ukraine, and the US climate envoy, John Kerry, made America’s position clear when he said that focusing on loss and damage “could delay our ability to do the most important thing of all, which is [to] achieve mitigation sufficient to reduce the level of adaptation”.

…that’ll be the mitigation where we set a lot of targets & maintain a roughly 100% rate of failure to come close to meeting them

We have all prepared our “party lines” – the specific forms of words and outcomes that we seek by the end of Cop27. We have planned our first big coordination meetings, where the big groups like the G77 (all the developing countries, including, ironically enough, some Arab states which are richer than the “rich” countries) meet together to thrash out negotiating strategies and decide who is following which specific negotiating tracks.
We are taking bets about whether any high-level delegates given speaking slots will dare mention the plight of Egyptian political prisoner Alaa Abd el-Fattah, who has said he will stay on hunger strike throughout Cop27. That will certainly give us something to think about as we queue at the canteens.

The fact that Cop27 is being held in a non-democratic country highlights another of the awkward realities of the climate negotiations, namely that many of the developing nations – including those who bleat on about how much they are suffering from climate-induced “loss and damage” – are in fact hideously authoritarian states whose citizens step out of line at their peril. Somehow the moral issues of climate justice feel a little different when you look at it that way.

But none of us will talk about any of this. Cops are a big game of let’s pretend: let’s pretend Egypt is a free country, let’s pretend that we can still meet the 1.5C target for temperature rise, and let’s pretend that this Cop will be different from all the others.

I don’t mean to be cynical: if the Cops didn’t exist we would have to invent them. They do serve a purpose, but just not as big a purpose as you might think.

…could we maybe get some better news


Rich countries must sign a “historic pact” with the poor on the climate, or “we will be doomed”, the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, has warned, as a deepening gulf between the developed and developing world has put climate talks on the brink.
Cop27 is taking place amid the worst geopolitical tensions for years, over the Ukraine war, a spiralling global cost of living crisis, and deepening economic gloom.

But the gulf must be bridged if humanity is to have a hope of avoiding the worst ravages of climate breakdown, Guterres said.

“There is no way we can avoid a catastrophic situation, if the two [the developed and developing world] are not able to establish a historic pact,” he told the Guardian in an interview on the eve of the summit. “Because at the present level, we will be doomed.”
“Present policies [on the climate] will be absolutely catastrophic,” he said. “And the truth is that we will not be able to change this situation if a pact is not put in place between developed countries and the emerging economies.”
Lack of trust, in the climate negotiations, means a lack of money. Rich countries were meant to provide at least $100bn a year by 2020 to help poor countries cut their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis.

But the target has repeatedly been missed, and will be missed again this year, while poor countries are already suffering climate disaster, including record floods in Pakistan and record drought in Africa.
“The question of loss and damage has been postponed, and postponed, and postponed,” said Guterres. “We need to make sure that there is an assumption of responsibilities and that there is effective support to the countries suffering the most dramatic levels of loss and damage.”

Rich countries had managed to raise $16tn to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, he pointed out. But for poor countries, there had not even been debt relief to help them with the compounded impacts of Covid, cost of living rises, climate and the strong dollar, which has made their repayments more expensive.



  1. …ok…so…I might be feeling a little guilty that this post is “like, kind of a downer, dude”…so…for what it’s worth I’d recommend clicking on that billy bragg video at the end there…even if you can’t abide that whole “this machine kills fascists” approach to keeping the faith…since as it happens before he starts singing he makes a pretty nifty plea to “fight cynicism”…&…well…the struggle is real, folks…because it is fucking difficult to avoid in the face of this kind of thing

    …”payment verified”, motherfucker, what?

    (…from the replies on that thread if you have the appetite)

    …sure adds up to a surfeit of cynicism from where I’m sitting, anyway…though…it’s not impossible to see the funny side

    …well…for some people, any road

  2. you know…….its kinda wierd that voting in the states may just decide the war in ukraine

    if the republicans win and then decide to pull or block additional aid from here on ukraine is fucked

    europe doesnt have the capacity to deliver the amount of aid needed but we are well past the point of being able to do take backsies…..

    • …yeah…I failed to find a spot for it but this stuff

       The Biden administration is privately encouraging Ukraine’s leaders to signal an openness to negotiate with Russia and drop their public refusal to engage in peace talks unless President Vladimir Putin is removed from power, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

      The paper quoted unnamed people familiar with the discussions as saying that the request by American officials was not aimed at pushing Ukraine to the negotiating table, but a calculated attempt to ensure Kyiv maintains the support of other nations facing constituencies wary of fueling a war for many years to come.

      …if things go badly next week…I’d argue that everything after “maintains the support” could wind up superfluous

      …& I can not tell you how fucking weird that is for me to contemplate…sure the world keeps turning…but to get to the point where voting for the party of joe mccarthy equates more or less directly to voting against opposing the imperial ambitions of the russian state…& indeed to giving it what it wants at nigh on every turn

      …that shit is damn near incomprehensible in terms of a world turned upside down…I guess I’d argue it makes as much sense as putting this kind of thing behind a paywall instead of trying to get it across to as many people as humanly possible


      …mind you, in this day &age it probably needs to be pithier, anyway

  3. well….tbh…..europe is kinda falling apart

    kinda thinking if ukraine falls…europe will to…tho…more in a break apart way

    the far right is a fingers breadth away from taking over damn near every where in europe

    and failing badly enough in ukraine whilst taking in all the refugees might just send us over the edge

    (over here the gubment is adding fuel to the fire by giving refugees priority for homes over the regular waiting list citizens….which is causing some resentment…..you know….interesting times)

    • …I hear you…& it’s not just europe, even…israel hung kind of a hard right the other day…& then you have your assorted autocrats all over the joint…it’s’s not exactly a pretty picture

      …I don’t like the stakes any more than I like the possibility that the dice we’re figuratively rolling seem like they’re loaded…& not in a good way?

    • Yeah I read a Reuters article last week about who ponied up the difference and like aside from 13 billion from the banks it was things like 1.89 billion from a Saudi prince and a fuckton of money from various firms. Also a bunch of them were heavily invested in Tesla and Spacex,which feels like a shell game to hide capital to me.

    • They already got Faux, Newsmax and thr WSJ plus the dimwits at NYT. Who are known quantities and heavily mocked and treated as unreliable info sources.

      However it seems they want untainted RW newz sources that Twitter can allegedly offer but they already fucked that up.

      Twitter might be Emo’s Waterloo.


      • …could just be one of those “have a hammer, see a nail” type things…but I can’t help feeling like the closest parallel I can draw to what he’s doing with twitter is what thiel did at a couple of removes to gawker & what came after it

        …it’s a lot faster & all the numbers are bigger & the ramifications for what it does to the bits of the online ecosystem that are considered to be part of the public media landscape are more significant…but the underlying herb-acity of it…coupled with the overweening hubris seemingly driving it…seems like a good match?

  4. Read this. Particularly if you’re feeling down.


    The Blue Wave is Happening Right Now


    Democrats lead 50-39 in early vote.

    What does that mean?  Doesn’t this just mean that we always vote early? Well, we can compare it to 2018 and 2020 to find out.  A Blue wave would look like a higher proportion of Democrats versus Republicans at this point relative to those years.  Even matching those numbers would be good because we did pretty darn well in 2018 and 2020.

    So, we have outvoted them 50-39.  What does that mean?

    It is 10 pts better than 2018 and  3 pts better than 2020.

    We have a 4.2 million vote lead at this point.

    Maybe the pollsters are wrong and people haven’t forgotten about overturning Roe and threatening our democracy.  Maybe the Democratic energy we saw in 5 House specials and in Kansas is showing up in the election.


    The red wave narrative is being pushed by R leaning pollsters flooding the zone with R leaning polls.  They learned how groups like 538 work — by averaging polls — and they are gaming the system.  Even the  two Nates admitted that the polls they are using are partisan polls pushed by Republicans.  These are not “internal polls” run by campaigns.  These are specially run groups with an R agenda flooding the market with their numbers.

    Look, no one knows what will happen on election day.  There will some kind of red wave that day — they do vote more on election day than we do.  But will it be enough to dwarf the Blue Wave we are seeing right now and the numbers we can bring out on election day?

    • …I don’t want to jinx it…but it would do wonders for my blood pressure alone if that were borne out in the places they’ve tried hardest to stack the deck

      …I think it might have been something I first came across via that mueller she wrote thing but the requirement to “vote – in numbers too big to manipulate” is at least theoretically possible…& I’d prefer to think it was likely…it’s just the last few years has me kind of in a “hope for the best; plan for the worst” holding pattern?

  5. So, Friday night we had a windstorm with 50+ MPH winds hitting my house.  We lost power at 10pm on Friday and just got it back sometime this morning.  Our little city looks like a war zone with broken branches & downed fences everywhere.  My wife & I went to a party in Seattle last night & decided to get a hotel room so we could actually have a hot shower before & not deal with this.  I’m now thinking I probably should have got the battery backup on my solar, this sucked!  Now I need to figure out what has gone bad in my fridge!  Uggggh.

    • German techno music, WWII references, anime, and Doge memes—one more ingredient and whoever’s behind this could create a psychological force so powerful—well, I don’t want to think about it.

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