…well, I dunno [DOT 1/7/21]

do we know that...

…well…damn…here I was hoping I’d finally get around to finding space in one of these for some stuff I keep meaning to…like the quantum computing things that are either really cool or utterly terrifying depending on how you look at that…or

Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for customer security and trust, told members of the House Judiciary Committee that federal law enforcement in recent years has been presenting the company with between 2,400 to 3,500 secrecy orders a year, or about seven to 10 a day.

“Most shocking is just how routine secrecy orders have become when law enforcement targets an American’s email, text messages or other sensitive data stored in the cloud,” said Burt, describing the widespread clandestine surveillance as a major shift from historical norms.
Burt said that while the revelation that federal prosecutors had sought data about journalists and political figures was shocking to many Americans, the scope of surveillance is much broader. He criticized prosecutors for reflexively seeking secrecy through boilerplate requests that “enable law enforcement to just simply assert a conclusion that a secrecy order is necessary.”
Just this week, he said, prosecutors sought a blanket gag order affecting the government of a major U.S. city for a Microsoft data request targeting a single employee there.

“Without reform, abuses will continue to occur and they will occur in the dark,” Burt said.


…well…the point is I don’t think I’m going to get there because it sure seems like a lot happened in the last few days or so

Donald Rumsfeld, former US defense secretary, dies aged 88 [Guardian]

One of Donald Trump’s key aides is expected to be charged on Thursday with failing to properly report company perks, including rent-free apartments and cars, in the latest stage of an escalating battle between New York prosecutors and the former president.


The former president’s family business and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, are expected to appear in court on Thursday.

Trump Organization and Top Executive Are Indicted in Tax Investigation [NYT]

South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R) will deploy up to 50 National Guard troops to the southern U.S. border, her office said Tuesday, with a highly unusual caveat — the mission will be funded by a “private donation” from an out-of-state GOP megadonor billionaire.
Privately funding a military mission is an affront to civilian oversight of the armed forces, said military and oversight experts, describing the move — a Republican governor sending troops to a Republican-led state, paid for by a Republican donor — as likely unprecedented and unethical.
Ian Fury, a spokesperson for Noem, said the undisclosed amount was paid to the state of South Dakota by Willis and Reba Johnson’s Foundation, a Tennessee-based nonprofit that donates to various groups, including churches and the National Rifle Association, according to 2018 tax filings. Willis Johnson has donated to GOP campaigns for decades, including at least $550,000 to Trump in 2019 and 2020, filings show.


“I’ve never heard of anything quite like this before,” said Dan Grazier, a military fellow at the Straus Military Reform Project, which is run by the Center for Defense Information, a non-profit, non-partisan organization in DC that analyzes military matters.

He said the deployment set a troubling precedent and risked politicizing the military.
“The military is supposed to be used to further our national security interests and ensure the safety of all citizens, not just the whims of a few private individuals with the means to pay for its services,” said Grazier.


The legal questions in South Dakota center on how the money would be transferred from Mr. Johnson through the state government to the National Guard. The State Legislature’s session has finished for the year, and no appropriations were set to consider a private donation to fund the state’s National Guard.

“I don’t have a clue if it’s legal,” said Roger Tellinghuisen, a Republican who served as South Dakota attorney general. “It’s a question in my own mind.”
“It’s basically money laundering, and it’s turning the state National Guard into a mercenary force,” said Rachel VanLandingham, a former Air Force lawyer who is a professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. “She’s using troops there that are a resource and have been paid for by taxpayers that are being used for a political show by a high-powered donor because the governor thought it was a good idea.”
“In terms of a governor accepting private money, there’s no historic precedent because the Guard is funded by U.S. and state tax dollars,” said Joshua Kastenberg, a military historian who served as an Air Force judge and is now a law professor at the University of New Mexico.

Legality aside, Ms. Noem’s decision to accept private funding for military operations worried both South Dakota Democrats and military ethicists. State Senator Reynold Nesiba, one of three Democrats in the 35-member chamber, said Wednesday that deploying troops at a donor’s whim “sets a dangerous precedent.”

“We cannot be setting up our Guardsmen to be mercenaries,” Mr. Nesiba said. “These are not troops for hire by anyone who calls the governor. They are not hers to dispatch for partisan political purposes.”

Noem’s Use of Private Money to Deploy Guard Troops Raises Questions [NYT]

In February 2017, weeks after President Donald Trump selected him to be agriculture secretary, Perdue’s company bought a small grain plant in South Carolina from one of the biggest agricultural corporations in America.

Had anyone noticed, it would have prompted questions ahead of his confirmation, a period when most nominees lie low and avoid potential controversy. The former governor of Georgia did not disclose the deal — there was no legal requirement to do so.

An examination of public records by The Washington Post has found that the agricultural company, Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM), sold the land at a small fraction of its estimated value just as it stood to benefit from a friendly secretary of agriculture.

The land was worth millions. A Big Ag corporation sold it to Sonny Perdue’s company for $250,000. [WaPo]

Relatively few people are talking about it right now, but Thursday (and perhaps the days to come) could be one of the most pivotal moments in recent Supreme Court history.

Yes, that pertains to the key decisions that are set to be handed down on Thursday, the final day of the court’s current term. The long-awaited cases include key rulings on the Arizona GOP’s election laws and the role of so-called “dark money” in politics.

But history suggests it’s also quite possibly the time when we get some clarity about the future makeup of the court — and particularly the all-important question about whether Justice Stephen G. Breyer will retire.


The House passed a comprehensive package of reforms Tuesday to protect inspectors general from being fired or otherwise prevented from doing their jobs, a measure inspired by President Donald Trump’s pattern of ousting the agency watchdogs who challenged him.

The 221-to-182 vote fell almost completely along party lines, heralding a long and difficult road ahead for congressional Democrats as they attempt a variety of initiatives to prevent future presidents from silencing their critics and punishing their enemies with as much impunity as Trump did.

Democrats win meager GOP support for post-Trump effort to shield inspectors general [WaPo]

…& I’m having trouble wrapping my head around a bunch of it?

Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction on Wednesday after finding an agreement with a previous prosecutor prevented him from being charged in the case.


The state Supreme Court said a previous prosecutor’s decision not to charge Cosby, 83, opened the door for him to speak freely in a civil lawsuit against him — and that testimony was key in the comic’s conviction in criminal court.

“When an unconditional charging decision is made publicly and with the intent to induce action and reliance by the defendant, and when the defendant does so to his detriment (and in some instances upon the advice of counsel), denying the defendant the benefit of that decision is an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it results in a criminal prosecution that was foregone for more than a decade,” according to the high court opinion.


“THIS is why women do not come forward,” tweeted the longtime advice columnist E Jean Carroll, who herself is one of several women to have credibly accused Donald Trump of sexual assault. (Carroll has since sued Trump for defamation.)
Justice David Wecht wrote that Cosby had relied on the former prosecutor’s decision not to charge him when he gave potentially incriminating testimony in Constand’s prior civil suit. Laws on bad actors differ by state, but the reversal could make prosecutors wary of calling other accusers in similar cases.

Cosby’s trial, held after more than 50 women came forward with stories of being drugged and assaulted by the comedian, was the first significant celebrity conviction of the #MeToo era. It was widely seen as symbolic of how powerful men could finally be held to account.
The organization Women in Film released a statement that read, in part: “Today’s news is a setback in the fight for justice for sexual assault survivors. When the system disregards dozens of accusers in a situation like this — because of a technical loophole, not because of the proof that led to sentencing — it creates the perception that it’s “not worth it” for victims to come forward.”

“I GUESS 70 WOMEN WERENT ENOUGH – fuck u bill,” tweeted Rosie O’Donnell.

‘I am furious’: shock and anger after Bill Cosby’s conviction overturned [Guardian]

Bill Cosby was always a special defendant, and the state Supreme Court ruling was, therefore, a special case. When celebrities or the megarich are involved, the traditional policies get thrown out the window — not just at the Montgomery County Courthouse but in every courthouse in America.
This is not normal. District attorneys don’t usually make decisions about whether to charge a defendant — or decline to do so — in an effort to affect the outcome of a civil case. Instead, prosecutors will seek restitution, an order in a criminal case for the defendant to pay a victim to make them whole. But that’s part of the criminal case.
The court concluded that not to enforce Castor’s assurances would “violate long-cherished principles of fundamental fairness.” The court then barred any future prosecution of Cosby on these particular charges.

What the court did not do here is hold that every time a prosecutor declines to prosecute, the defendant in question is forever immune. Quite the opposite: It held that in this situation, these unique assurances induced Cosby to give up his rights.
That’s exactly why district attorneys almost never issue a signed press release declining to prosecute a suspect: They don’t want to jeopardize their ability to bring a case in the future.


…now some of this stuff is maybe misleading

There’s been a wave of media coverage this summer about an increase in homicides across the United States, with attention often focused on the same political question: will Americans still want to defund or even reform the police if “violent crime” is on the rise?
And yet, even after an estimated 25% single-year increase in homicides, Americans overall are much less likely to be killed today than they were in the 1990s, and the homicide rate across big cities is still close to half what it was a quarter century ago.
The homicide increase appears to be primarily driven by rising gun violence, with the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive reporting nearly 4,000 additional gun killings nationwide in 2020 compared with the year before.

But what’s happening with homicides is not part of some broader “crime wave.” In fact, many crimes, from larcenies to robberies to rape, dropped during the pandemic, and continued to fall during the first few months of 2021. “Crime” is not surging. Even the broader category of “violent crime” only increased about 3% last year, according to the preliminary FBI data from a large subset of cities. It’s homicide in particular that has increased, even as other crimes fell.


…& sometimes maybe that’s the point

In March, when the City Council of Fort Wayne, Ind., voted 7 to 2 to approve $16 million in tax breaks for a corporation to open a distribution center in the city, it was something of a shot in the dark: Four of the Council members — including two who voted in favor of the deal — didn’t know which corporation they were considering.

How was it possible that public officials lacked such crucial information? Alarmingly, as a condition of its negotiations with the city, the company had required city officials who knew its identity (including the mayor) to sign nondisclosure agreements that kept them from sharing its identity before a deal was reached.

The company turned out to be Amazon.

As absurd as it may seem, it is not uncommon today for large corporations negotiating economic development deals to have public officials sign nondisclosure agreements, or NDAs. This practice needs to be stopped. By keeping salient information hidden, these NDAs impede government accountability and public involvement in economic policymaking. State and city officials should ban them.

How Amazon, Google and Other Companies Exploit NDAs [NYT]

The US district judge James Boasberg ruled Monday that the lawsuits were “legally insufficient” and didn’t provide enough evidence to prove that Facebook was a monopoly. The ruling dismisses the complaint but not the case, meaning the FTC could refile another complaint.

“These allegations – which do not even provide an estimated actual figure or range for Facebook’s market share at any point over the past 10 years – ultimately fall short of plausibly establishing that Facebook holds market power,” he said.

Lawsuits seeking breakup of Facebook dismissed in setback for US regulators [Guardian]

fall short of plausibly establishing that Facebook holds market power“…say what now?

You may have heard about how the government’s effort to break up Facebook was dealt a death blow by a federal judge on Monday. Per The New York Times, the case was “thrown out,” in a “stunning setback.” As The Washington Post put it, the ruling “handed Facebook a major victory.” One Wall Street Journal reporter summed up the mood by noting on Twitter, “Hard to overstate the blow Facebook landed here.”

But according to several antitrust experts I’ve spoken with, overstatement is precisely the way to describe these news reports. Yes, Monday was a good day for Facebook, whose market cap briefly cracked $1 trillion on the strength of the news. The company had been facing parallel cases filed in December: one by the Federal Trade Commission, the other by a coalition of 46 states, plus Guam and the District of Columbia. On Monday, Judge James E. Boasberg dismissed the states’ case in its entirety, primarily because he found they had waited too long to bring it. That’s a big deal. But, for weird legal reasons that we won’t get into, the timing problem doesn’t apply to the federal government. And so the heart of the FTC’s legal effort—which seeks to force Facebook to sell off Instagram and WhatsApp—is still very much alive. It wasn’t thrown out, it was just sent back to the kitchen. Boasberg has given the FTC, under newly appointed chair Lina Khan, 30 days to beef up the parts of its complaint that he found lacking in evidence. Assuming it chooses to refile the case, there’s good reason to think the agency will be able to meet the challenge.


…guess sometimes it depends who you ask

The National Security Agency denied spying on Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday after he accused the agency of monitoring his electronic communications in an attempt to take his show off the air.

NSA denies spying on Fox News host Tucker Carlson [NBC]

As everyone knows, leftists hate America’s military. Recently, a prominent left-wing media figure attacked Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declaring, “He’s not just a pig, he’s stupid.”

Oh, wait. That was no leftist, that was Fox News’s Tucker Carlson. What set Carlson off was testimony in which Milley told a congressional hearing that he considered it important “for those of us in uniform to be open-minded and widely read.”

The problem is obvious. Closed-mindedness and ignorance have become core conservative values, and those who reject these values are the enemy, no matter what they may have done to serve the country.

What Underlies the G.O.P. Commitment to Ignorance? [NYT]

Rep. Gosar denies knowledge of fundraiser with group that promotes white-nationalist ideas despite invitation for the event [WaPo]

…it’s not like nothing lately makes sense

Trump administration staffers sought refuge on the second floor of the White House as the former president never climbed stairs, a new book claims.
Wolff writes in the forthcoming Landslide: The Final Days of the Trump Presidency that it “meant a degree of exclusion but also protection” as “Trump would never climb the stairs (and, by the end of his term, he never had)”.

Trump staffers sought refuge on second floor of White House as former president never climbed stairs [Independent]

…or…more seriously

Pelosi’s move to form a select 13-member committee comes one month after Senate Republicans blocked an effort to create an independent, bipartisan commission.

The panel will investigate the facts and causes of the assault that left five dead and nearly 140 officers attacked as they faced rioters armed with ax handles, bats, metal batons, wooden poles, hockey sticks and other weapons, authorities said. The riot led to the impeachment of President Donald Trump on a charge of “incitement of insurrection.”


That the committee will engage in a version of the “white rage” debate becomes clear if you read the particulars of the new bill creating it. The committee will have 12 members and one chair with subpoena power, all appointed by the speaker, five members in consultation with the House minority leader.

But what’s also telling is the committee’s mission. The bill charges it with investigating the “facts, circumstances, and causes” relating to the “domestic terrorist attack” on the Capitol.
Tellingly, after defining Jan. 6 as “domestic terrorism” and “domestic violent extremism,” the bill also quotes the FBI director testifying that the biggest driver of such extremism is “racially-motivated,” with “white supremacist ideology” representing a subset of that.

In other words, the commission is charged with treating the insurrection as an outgrowth of a longer-running series of threats to democracy posed by various movements and ideologies. And it identifies racially motivated and white supremacist violence as a key component of that threat.

Pelosi’s new Jan. 6 select committee is about to collide with ‘white rage’ [WaPo]

…seems like someone might could have a theory about that sort of thing

From viral videos to Fox News: how rightwing media fueled the critical race theory panic [Guardian]

…&…not to totally ruin anyone’s day or anything…but it’s not clear that cooler heads are exactly going to be the norm

‘Hard to comprehend’: Experts react to record 121 degrees in Canada [WaPo]

More than 60 dead from heat wave in Pacific Northwest as region confronts new future [NBC]

A few years ago, the author and academic Douglas Rushkoff got invited to a swanky private resort to talk to a bunch of obscenely rich hedge fund guys about the future of technology. He thought they were going to ask him how technology was going to improve the world, but they were far more interested in discussing the “Event”, their cutesy term for the collapse of civilisation. “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the Event?” one CEO, who had just finished building an underground bunker system, reportedly asked. The rest of the conversation, detailed by Rushkoff in a Guardian feature, continued in that vein.

That Rushkoff piece was published in 2018, but I’ve found myself thinking about it a lot over the past few days. Why? Because the Event is starting to feel imminent. If that sounds alarmist, just take a look at the weather. Severe storms have caused extensive flooding in Detroit. Canada just set its highest temperature on record: a village in British Columbia reached 46.1C (115F) on Sunday. The US’s Pacific north-west also broke heat records over the weekend, with Portland, Oregon, reaching 44.4C (112F). Seattle, which isn’t exactly known for its sunshine, just had triple-digit temperatures for three days straight, breaking another record. The US National Weather Service in Washington has called the current heatwave “historic, dangerous, prolonged and unprecedented”.

I’m not sure that there is any word that has been more egregiously overused recently than “unprecedented”. Every day seems to bring “unprecedented” floods, heat or wildfires. Surely it’s time to stop pretending “precedent” means anything any more – as the Oregon Climate Office tweeted in response to the Portland heatwave: “The past is no longer a reliable guide for the future.” Extreme weather is no longer exceptional; it has become the norm. The climate crisis is not around the corner, it is here. And things are only going to get worse.

A heatwave in Seattle? Extreme weather is no longer ‘unprecedented’ – it has become the norm [Guardian]

Access to clean air and outdoor activities seems like a basic right. But in cities across the country, lower-income communities and communities of color more often live in neighborhoods with a higher share of concrete surfaces such as roads, buildings and parking lots, and a very limited number of trees and parks.

Neighborhoods with a majority of people in poverty have 25 percent less tree canopy on average than those with a minority of people in poverty, according to American Forests’ Tree Equity Score tool that analyzes income, employment, age, ethnicity, health and surface temperature with tree canopy data in 486 metro areas.

In the most extreme cases, wealthy areas have 65 percent more tree canopy than communities where nine out of 10 people live below the poverty line.
Communities with too few trees are feeling the consequences this week, as a heat wave sweeps through much of the Pacific Northwest. The average temperature can vary to up to 10 degrees between places with trees and those without. And where there is more heat, there is more death: Heat kills more people in the United States than any other kind of extreme weather. We can expect up to a tenfold increase in heat-related deaths in the eastern United States by the latter half of the 2050s and at least a 70 percent increase in the largest cities nationwide by 2050.


On Sunday, the small mountain town of Lytton, British Columbia, became one of the hottest places in the world. Then, on Monday, Lytton got even hotter – 47.9C (118F) – hotter than it’s ever been in Las Vegas, 1,300 miles to the south. And by Tuesday, 49.6C (121F).

Lytton is at 50 deg N latitude – about the same as London. This part of the world should never get this hot. Seattle’s new all-time record of 108F, also set Monday, is hotter than it’s ever been in Miami. In Portland, the new record of 116F would beat the warmest day ever recorded in Houston by nearly 10 degrees.
The imagery we should remember from this heat wave isn’t swimming pools and fountains, it’s friends and neighbors sharing air conditioning amid a pandemic in a city that’s 40 degrees warmer than normal. It’s young people braving heat stroke to demand climate action from a president who promised it to them. It’s the anxiety of not knowing when or where the next heat wave will be, but knowing that it’s coming. It’s about surviving a society where decades of racial segregation means that redlined neighborhoods are 15 degrees hotter than others.

These are the kinds of events that should open our eyes and recognize that climate change is not a science issue, it’s a human rights issue.
This is a public health emergency.

How did a small town in Canada become one of the hottest places on Earth? [Guardian]

A day after a village in British Columbia saw Canada’s highest recorded temperature, the residents of Lytton have been ordered to evacuate due to a wildfire.

Canadian village ordered to evacuate due to wildfires a day after temperatures topped 121 degrees [CNN]

With global warming making heat waves and other extreme weather events both more likely and more severe, this week’s sizzling temperatures may herald a climate reality that scientists thought was still decades in the future.

How climate change ‘loads the dice’ for heat waves [NBC]

Lobbyists for ExxonMobil have described the oil giant’s backing for a carbon tax as a public relations ploy intended to stall more serious measures to combat the climate crisis.
One of the lobbyists also admitted that Exxon “aggressively” fought against climate science and funded shadow groups to deny global heating.

Keith McCoy, a senior director in Exxon’s Washington government affairs team, was recorded on video in May saying that the company backs a carbon tax “as an easy talking point” and an “advocacy tool” because “there is not an appetite for a carbon tax” and that Republican legislators who oppose taxes in principle will never let it happen.

“Nobody is going to propose a tax on all Americans, and the cynical side of me says, yeah, we kind of know that – but it gives us a talking point that we can say, well, what is ExxonMobil for? Well, we’re for a carbon tax,” he said.
In a meeting over Zoom, McCoy admitted that Exxon funded “shadow groups” that worked to misrepresent and deny climate science in order to sow doubt and stall regulation.

“Did we aggressively fight against some of the science? Yes,” he said. “Did we join some of these shadow groups to work against some of the early efforts? Yes that’s true. But there’s nothing illegal about that. We were looking out for our investments, we were looking out for shareholders.”

But McCory denied that Exxon covered up evidence from its own scientists about global heating caused by burning fossil fuels even though the company’s role in misrepresenting the dangers is well documented.


After a century of wielding extraordinary economic and political power, America’s petroleum giants face a reckoning for driving the greatest existential threat of our lifetimes.
Coastal cities struggling to keep rising sea levels at bay, midwestern states watching “mega-rains” destroy crops and homes, and fishing communities losing catches to warming waters, are now demanding the oil conglomerates pay damages and take urgent action to reduce further harm from burning fossil fuels.

But, even more strikingly, the nearly two dozen lawsuits are underpinned by accusations that the industry severely aggravated the environmental crisis with a decades-long campaign of lies and deceit to suppress warnings from their own scientists about the impact of fossil fuels on the climate and dupe the American public.

The environmentalist Bill McKibben once characterized the fossil fuel industry’s behavior as “the most consequential cover-up in US history”. And now for the first time in decades, the lawsuits chart a path toward public accountability that climate activists say has the potential to rival big tobacco’s downfall after it concealed the real dangers of smoking.

Big oil and gas kept a dirty secret for decades. Now they may pay the price [Guardian]

…that’s kind of a long piece…but worth a read…although to be honest I’m pretty sure we’re all paying that price so it didn’t exactly fill me with the proverbial joys of spring?

In most places, extreme heatwaves outside the usual range for a region will cause problems, from disrupting the economy to widespread mortality, particularly among the young and old. Yet in places in the Middle East and Asia something truly terrifying is emerging: the creation of unliveable heat.

While humans can survive temperatures of well over 50C when humidity is low, when both temperatures and humidity are high, neither sweating nor soaking ourselves can cool us. What matters is the “wet-bulb” temperature – given by a thermometer covered in a wet cloth – which shows the temperature at which evaporative cooling from sweat or water occurs. Humans cannot survive prolonged exposure to a wet-bulb temperature beyond 35C because there is no way to cool our bodies. Not even in the shade, and not even with unlimited water.
Plans should account for the fact that heatwaves intensify structural inequalities. Poorer neighbourhoods typically have fewer green spaces and so heat up more, while outdoor workers, often poorly paid, are especially vulnerable. The rich also buy up cooling equipment at high prices once a heatwave is underway and have many more options to flee, underscoring the importance of public health planning.
Of paramount importance is energy supplies being resilient to heatwaves, as people will be relying on electricity for cooling from air-conditioning units, fans and freezers, which are all life-savers in a heatwave. Similarly, internet communications and data centres need to be future-proofed, as these are essential services that can struggle in the heat.

Beyond this, new regulations are needed to allow buildings to keep cool and for transport systems, from roads to trains, to be able to operate under much higher temperature extremes.

Canada is a warning: more and more of the world will soon be too hot for humans [Guardian]

In the punishing heat wave that has struck the Pacific Northwest, about 17,000 electricity customers were without power in Washington state on Monday evening. Nearly 20,000 more were in blackouts in Idaho, Oregon, California and Nevada. Those aren’t devastating numbers, but they are a reminder that the electric grid in America is frayed and always operating close to the edge.
The nation’s already strained power grid is either at a turning point or poised to dash all those clean-power visions as it crumbles under the new stresses being placed on it.
The American grid features stressed and often barely adequate equipment on the local level, and a region-by-region governing structure that in pursuit of market savings has become so complex that it obscures the full picture. But perhaps the central issue is chronic congestion on the transmission lines that bring power from where it’s made to where it’s wanted.
At least until long-distance transmission lines are enhanced, utilities facing a greater load will have to find ways to manage increased demand. This can be done through an incentive: cheaper electricity at off-peak hours, already a reality for many. Or, as everything in the home gets connected to the Internet, utilities can reach right in and govern electricity use themselves, as happened in Texas this month.


The climate crisis is a crime that should be prosecuted [Guardian]

Legal experts from across the globe have drawn up a “historic” definition of ecocide, intended to be adopted by the international criminal court to prosecute the most egregious offences against the environment.

The draft law, unveiled on Tuesday, defines ecocide as “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts”.
If adopted by the ICC’s members, it would become just the fifth offence the court prosecutes – alongside war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and the crime of aggression – and the first new international crime since the 1940s when Nazi leaders were prosecuted at the Nuremberg trials.




  1. Bad day all around. The transmission grid is something I actually know about. The FERC acknowledges the need for transmission infrastructure and incentives to build infrastructure and at the same time flirts with removing transmission infrastructure incentives. Some of the cases have been going on for years. At least the lawyers are making money.

  2. The military is supposed to be used to further our national security interests and ensure the safety of all citizens, not just the whims of a few private individuals with the means to pay for its services,” said Grazier.

    Uh, where has Grazier been.
    -Iraqinam War 2003-whenever
    -Various US interventions in Central/South America including El Salvador, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guatemala and Nicaragua,
    -1898 Spanish American War
    Outside of WW1/2 and Cold War, the US military’s been mostly used at the whims of very rich/connected people.
    Pay?  Pay?  Good one.

    • …I think it was an appendix in this chomsky one:


      …but I know I remember a book that listed at the back an unbroken series of conflicts that made it a literal truth that the US had been at war somewhere in the world at all times since WWII

      …generally speaking that’s not how we tend to look at that…& you can debate terms like “police action”…but there’s a reason a bunch of people have used the term hegemony in relation to the US for a fair chunk of time at this point

      • I may be having a false memory but I distinctly remember a news program, doubtless it was Walter Cronkite on CBS, saying sometime in the mid- late-70s that on that day America was involved in no armed conflicts. This actually made national news. And here I thought, “We have always been at war with Eastasia.” 

        • …not having the book to hand I may have got something wrong…but I suspect that’s where the definition part comes in?

          • Oh, I realize that, but on that day in 1977 or whenever it was, no doubt American-instigated or -assisted stuff was going on, but theoretically America was, in some way, at peace. It didn’t last long. 

  3. At this point, I dread the coming Climate Hellscape.
    It’s fucking depressing and worrisome.  Yet there are reactionary dipshits (read right wing and centrist) who still deny it is happening.
    I pissed off a former friend (not for those reasons but still) who sent me a whole pile of wingnut talking points and I said, “Who says you’re a scientist?”
    “I’m a political scientist” he sniffed.
    “I’m a fucking engineer, but I don’t call myself a scientist.  What the fuck do you know about climatology?  You never even took a science course at uni.  And politics is about humans which makes it more art than science.”
    It went downhill from there.  On the bright side, I never got one of his bullshit emails again.

  4. Good quote: “Closed-mindedness and ignorance have become core conservative values“.

    • I’m shocked because I thought they already were.

      • It’s ‘willful’ closed mindedness and ignorance, it is a very deliberate attempt to maintain the status quo despite the facts.

        • …let’s see now…I think I have the attributions right?

          “the only thing more expensive than education is ignorance” – benjamin franklin


          “true ignorance is not the absence of knowledge but the refusal to acquire it” – karl popper


          “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true” – soren kierkegaard

          • Oh Ben Franklin, every time his name is mentioned I remember the first time I read Max Weber, mind blown.

        • I’ve gotten increasingly interested (and disturbed) by the way institutionalists insist on maintaining a status quo when dealing with insiders who violate it.
          The way the military dealt with Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the neocons was a classic case. Rumsfeld, Cheney and their ilk were longtime members of the establishment, loaded with credentials. But their pursuit of the Iraq War was wildly at odds with the way the institution was set up. All of the methodical planning and processes were short circuited and ignored.
          But (almost all) institutionalists went along, despite plenty of tools that they have used in the past to fight back against outsiders attempting to reform the institution.
          You see it constantly as soon as you start to look for it. Republicans who loathed Trump, and saw him as leading the party to disaster, refused to engage in the kind of aisle-crossing that used to happen all the time, and failed to extract concessions they could have easily gained if they had used their leverage.
          Liberal Democrats in Congress refuse to use their leverage to push party leaders to be more aggressive in ways that could be easily achieved in terms of hearings and rules changes.
          News outlets willingly watch ratings and ad revenue flatline as they stick to the most status quo-friendly reporting that avoids the kind of news making — and journalistically valid — stories that drive ratings. They decide to deliver mush instead of pushing the truth in the kind of clear and dynamic ways that engage audiences.
          Bad faith actors in the mode of Rumsfeld — mostly conservatives but sometimes liberals — break rules and harm institutions, but because they have insider status, institutionalists decide that the number one rule is protecting the insider even above the institution itself. And it’s making things worse and worse.

          • It’s called tribalism. Protect the tribe above all else at all costs. 

            • The bizarre thing for me is the way the tribalism gets broken but members still feel the need to pretend it’s whole.
              A classic case is the mobster Whitey Bulger, who was one of the inspirations for Frank Costello in The Departed. Bulger benefited enormously from the South Boston mob’s institutional defense of never being a rat.
              But Bulger was a huge rat. He informed on all kinds of South Boston criminals to the FBI, and it was an open secret in the South Boston mob. Bulger weakened his own institution, but his underlings and even rivals never seriously went after him for it.
              Likewise, Rummy trashed DOD protocols and institutional standards, and did the thing that was supposed to cause the top brass to close ranks — he hammered the careers of career military who defended the institution against him and other neocons. Still, they just went along.
              The tribalism only runs one way, and it’s weird that someone like Rummy gets away with it but someone largely friendly and favorable like Hillary Clinton does not.

              • …not disagreeing with what you say…but it’s weird for me to hear that a character in the departed is based on a US gangster when that whole movie was basically a re-skin of Infernal Affairs

              • I think you got most of it, but it is also about hierarchy.
                Rummy’s the boss and the military (who have it drummed into their heads that the civilians are supposed to in charge) clicks their heels and say “yessir!” even if the civilian is a fucking moron or raging jackass.  Plus the “go along to get along type” usually gets promoted to higher leadership as honest folks or fireeaters usually are ignored.
                Hillary is viewed as an outsider (female) so is treated as one.

                • Sure, it raises the question of what the institutional values really are, and who can ever count as a member of the institution.
                  You have to think about what happened to General Shinseki after he answered honestly a question about the number of troops needed in Iraq, and who the institution ended up backing. Why did not only the military close ranks around the civilians attacking their own, but the press also chose to regurgitate the neocon spin for years despite being the target of methodical efforts by the neocons to undermine the press?
                  Sadly, I think to a large extent as you describe it ultimately comes down to conditioning and selection no different than what you see with working dogs.
                  And the answer for liberals, unfortunately, is going to be figuring out how to be better dog trainers, or maybe thinking about how to subvert that training. We can’t give up on reason, but reason alone won’t do it.

    • Happy Canada Day, and wear your sunscreen!

    • I wish to celebrate you’d reopen the border but maybe it’s smart to keep as many Americans out as possible, for as long as possible?


      An American of Anglo-Canadian descent


    • …I could be wrong about this but I think I read that she apparently hadn’t previously been made aware that she could request the whole conservatorship be revoked completely…& that this ruling does nothing to impede her taking up that route…so I guess I’m hoping she’ll get there in the end?

      • A big problem for her is she has a court-appointed attorney who seems to be doing nothing on her behalf while billing her something like $5-6 million.
        The judge says her attorney has never raised the issues she’s complaining about, but the attorney the court itself appointed has every incentive to never raise any issues.

  5. Keith has some thoughts on that Tucker story…

  6. And it’s always worth noting — today being a particularly perfect example — that “crime” is itself an extremely fraught term.

    A poor kid recruited to be a drug dealer is a criminal; Donald Rumsfeld, whose actions led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of lives upended or destroyed, is not. Save one low-level scapegoat, none of the people who crashed the economy in 2006-07 are criminals. Kristi Noem’s personal Blackwater will doubtless never become criminal. None of the oil or gas executives who funded people to lie about climate change for decades are criminals. The system works!

Leave a Reply