…where the rain gets in [DOT 30/8/22]

& ceilings are unreliable...

…not to put too fine a point on it…something like a third of pakistan is under water…& somewhere in the coverage I heard a lady claim that “god sends the rain but governments cause floods”…which might be an oversimplification…but…there’s something to it

The climate crisis is the prime suspect for the devastating scale of flooding in Pakistan, which has killed more than 1,000 people and affected 30 million. But the catastrophe, still unfolding, is most likely the result of a lethal combination of factors including the vulnerability of poor citizens, steep mountainous slopes in some regions, the unexpected destruction of embankments and dams, and some natural climate variation.
The obvious cause is the record-breaking rainfall. “Pakistan has never seen an unbroken cycle of monsoon [rains] like this,” said Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s climate change minister. “Eight weeks of non-stop torrents have left huge swathes of the country underwater. This is a deluge from all sides.” She said the “monster monsoon was wreaking non-stop havoc throughout the country”.
And according to a 2021 study global heating is making the south Asian monsoon more intense and more erratic, with each 1C rise in global temperature leading to 5% more rain.

Pakistan has suffered regular flooding since 2010, as well as heatwaves and wildfires. “Climate change is really affecting us,” said [Dr Fahad] Saeed [a climate scientist with the Climate Analytics group, who is based in Islamabad]. “It has become a norm now that every year we kind of face extreme events.”
The current floods would have been expected less than once a century, according to Dr Liz Stephens, an associate professor of climate risks and resilience at the University of Reading, UK, who is part of a global flood forecasting system. “We can see it is very extreme flooding and, in many places, it will be worse than 2010, when the floods killed 1,700 people.”
Stephens said: “We’re talking about potentially unprecedented volumes of water – it would have been inconceivable that some parts of these catchments would have been affected. People don’t prepare for risks that they are not familiar with.”
The population of Pakistan is especially at risk from extreme weather driven by the climate emergency, ranked eighth most at risk in the world by the Global Climate Risk Index. “Pakistan is very vulnerable to extremes and the whiplash from unprecedented heat from March to May this year followed by a strong monsoon makes the impact on society and the economy even more severe,” said [meteorologist Scott] Duncan. The extreme heatwave suffered earlier in 2022 was made 30 times more likely by global heating and another heatwave in 2015 was also exacerbated by global heating.

…& if we don’t know how bad it’s going to be…we do know extreme weather is definitely coming

Human-driven climate change has set in motion massive ice losses in Greenland that couldn’t be halted even if the world stopped emitting greenhouse gases today, according to a study published Monday.

The findings in the journal Nature Climate Change project that it is now inevitable that 3.3 percent of the Greenland ice sheet will melt — equal to 110 trillion tons of ice, the researchers said. That will trigger nearly a foot of global sea-level rise.

…short(ish) version…their methodology is somewhat broad strokes…which allows for hinting it might produce a more dire sounding result than might prove to be the case…which is not a bad trick if they’ve pulled it off since the unmistakable trend thus far has been for reality to outstrip the most pessimistic models we’ve come up with regarding climate change…but might be a comforting thought…since otherwise they basically say that according to physics it would seem inevitable that a significant chunk of greenland’s ice sheet is already bought & paid for in terms of inevitably melting?

The paper’s lead author, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland scientist Jason Box, collaborated with scientists based at institutions in Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States to assess the extent of ice loss already locked in by human activity.

Just last year, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — which generally forecasts lower figures for total ice loss from Greenland by the end of the century — projected around half a foot of sea-level rise from Greenland by the year 2100 at the high end. That scenario assumed humans would emit a large amount of greenhouse gases for another 80 years.

The current study, in contrast, does not factor in any additional greenhouse gas emissions or specify when the melting would take place, making the comparison with the U.N. report imperfect.

The finding that 3.3 percent of Greenland is, in effect, already lost represents “a minimum, a lower bound,” Box said. It could be much worse than that, the study suggests, especially if the world continues to burn fossil fuels and if 2012, which set a record for Greenland ice loss, becomes more like the norm.

…but…while we can’t stop things being bad…once again it appears to support the case that if we were to do the unthinkable…& actually do the shit we’ve been talking about for longer than many voters have been alive…could be we could cap it at bad & avoid worse…or indeed dire as the case may be

But that aspect of the study offers hope: Even if more sea-level rise is locked in than previously believed, cutting emissions fast to limit warming close to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) would prevent things from getting much worse.

…it’s one of the problems with scale…it’s hard to really get across how massive some things are

Melt rates have been increasing in the past two decades, and Greenland is the largest single ice-based contributor to the rate of global sea-level rise, surpassing contributions from both the larger Antarctic ice sheet and from mountain glaciers around the world. Greenland lies in the Arctic, which is warming much faster than the rest of the world.
In the past, scientists have tried to determine what Greenland’s ongoing melting means for the global sea level through complex computer simulations. They model the ice itself, the ocean around it, and the future climate based on different trajectories of emissions.

In general, the models have produced modest figures. For instance, according to the latest IPCC assessment, the most “likely” loss from Greenland by 2100 under a very high emissions scenario equates to about 5 inches of sea-level rise. This represents the disappearance of about 1.8 percent of Greenland’s total mass.
Box, for his part, argues that the models upon which the IPCC report is based are “like a facsimile of reality,” without enough detail to reflect how Greenland is really changing. Those computer models have sparked considerable controversy recently, with one research group charging they do not adequately track Greenland’s current, high levels of ice loss.
The new research contends that in the current climate, the average location of the snow line must move inward and upward, leaving a smaller area in which ice would be able to accumulate. That would yield a smaller ice sheet.

“What they’re saying is that the climate we already have is in the process of burning away the edges of the ice,” said Ted Scambos, an ice sheet expert at the University of Colorado at Boulder who did not work on the paper.

Scambos, however, said it could take much longer than 80 years for 3.3 percent of the ice sheet to melt: the study says “most” of the change can happen by 2100.
Future ice losses will be greater than that amount if global warming continues to advance — which it will. If the massive melt year of 2012 became the norm, for instance, that would be likely to yield about 2½ feet of committed sea-level rise, the study says.
Greenland ice sheet set to raise sea levels by nearly a foot, study finds [WaPo]

…so…I can see how maybe if you were a scientist you might feel some kind of a way about that

“Civil disobedience by scientists has the potential to cut through the myriad complexities and confusion surrounding the climate crisis,” the researchers wrote in an article, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change on Monday.

“When those with expertise and knowledge are willing to convey their concerns in a more uncompromising manner … this affords them particular effectiveness as a communicative act. This is the insight of Greta Thunberg when she calls on us to ‘act as you would in a crisis’.”

The article was jointly written by five climate scientists: Stuart Capstick, Aaron Thierry, Emily Cox, Steve Westlake and Julia K. Steinberger. A sixth byline was taken by Oscar Berglund, a political scientist at the University of Bristol who studies civil disobedience and social movements.

A note appended to the article disclosed that all the authors “have participated in, and offered support to, groups carrying out civil disobedience to press for climate action”.

…&…I have to admit…that is a tricky line to tread…I know more than a few people who are a lot more sympathetic to the cause espoused by that extinction rebellion lot than they are to the activities it indulges in…how can I put this…if you’re a student with a side-line in busking & spending a couple of days plying your trade among a crowd of like-minded folks blocking traffic across one of london’s bridges to try to make a point about how you have a point that deserves attention…even if you’re right about that part…the ways in which that might make you feel good about yourself are very probably not going to, as it were, “make friends & influence people” who might very well agree with that principle but also live in a world where taking several days away from work to indulge their principles is the sort of thing that would precipitate a much more immediate kind of crisis…just sayin’

Berglund said: “What we say in the article is that getting involved in this kind of thing can actually add weight to the message that this is a crisis; that these are decent people who know more than anybody else about how deep in the shit we are, and are taking this kind of action – non-violent direct action, civil disobedience.
The article conceded that by taking political action, scientists will invite the criticism that they have abandoned their impartiality. However, it added that readers must ask themselves whether science’s “traditional modes of research and communication” are provoking a response from decision-makers that meets the enormity of the crisis.

It said: “The widespread notion that sober presentation of evidence by an ‘honest broker’ to those with power will accomplish the best interests of populations is itself not a neutral perspective on the world; it is instead conveniently unthreatening to the status quo and often rather naive.

…but then…I guess you could say we’re back to that problem with scale…I mean…we like to think more electric cars is something we should be on board, right?

The Metals Company, based in Vancouver, has secured exclusive access to tons of seabed rocks packed with cobalt, copper and nickel — enough, it says, to power 280 million electric vehicles, equivalent to the entire fleet of cars in the United States.
“No mining has ever been done on a scale like this on the planet,” said James A.R. McFarlane, former head of environmental monitoring at the International Seabed Authority, an agency affiliated with the United Nations that will regulate mining by the Metals Company and the many other businesses and countries expected to follow.

An examination by The New York Times of how the Metals Company is prepared to exploit this new frontier in the green energy revolution — the firm calculates it will clear $31 billion in earnings over the 25-year life of the project — tells the story of a single-minded, 15-year-long courtship of the small Jamaica-based seabed agency that holds the keys to the world’s underwater treasures.

Interviews and hundreds of pages of emails, letters and other internal documents show that the firm’s executives received key information from the Seabed Authority beginning in 2007, giving a major edge to their mining ambitions. The agency provided data identifying some of the most valuable seabed tracts, and then set aside the prized sites for the company’s future use, according to the materials.

The sharing of that information has angered employees at the agency, who said some of the data was meant for developing countries trying to compete with richer countries, something the agency is mandated under international law to assist. “You are violating the legal concept behind the Seabed Authority,” Sandor Mulsow, who held top positions at the agency before leaving in 2019, said in an interview. “It’s scandalous.”
The Seabed Authority was established under the auspices of the United Nations well before climate change set off a surge in demand for the metals. Though it has never gotten off the ground, a unit of the agency was charged with leveling the playing field for developing countries, in part by reserving metal-rich tracts of the ocean floor and helping to mine them.

With jurisdiction over half the planet, the agency’s 50 employees work out of offices here in Jamaica’s capital on a small annual appropriation of $10 million.
At a meeting of the agency’s governing body last year, a Metals Company contractor was among a group of businesspeople who roamed freely among the international delegates as they debated agenda items, including the firm’s request for the authority to sign off on a plan to test mining equipment. One of the top rule-making bodies at the Seabed Authority, its legal and technical commission, is secretive, meeting behind closed doors, and some of its own members also work for mining contractors, The Times found.
As it seeks approval to begin operations, the firm has teamed up with Allseas, an offshore oil industry contractor, Glencore, a mining giant, and Maersk, one of the world’s largest shipping companies. The metals are found in potato-size rocks known as polymetallic nodules, and the firm would suck them up from the ocean floor with a giant underwater vacuum cleaner and transport them to shore.
The plans to begin mining by the Metals Company and other contractors have generated fierce opposition from some environmental groups, which along with government leaders like President Emmanuel Macron of France have called for a moratorium on mining until scientists can study the remote seabed and better understand the consequences of an industrial-scale operation.

“We have no clue what is going to happen,” said Stefan Bräger, a former Seabed Authority marine biologist who now serves as an adviser to the German government. “It’s like driving on the wrong side of the road at night and turning off your headlights.”
The authority has allocated roughly 200,000 square miles of seabed — larger than the size of California — to developing nations to do exploratory work in the reserved areas, with nearly half of that space now under the control of the Metals Company.

…it’s a long piece & well worth a read if you want to see just how badly it seems like they’ve managed to warp how this stuff is supposed to have worked in order to jump past the people & places that were nominally supposed to benefit from these resources & ensure that instead the lion’s share of the profits from what look to be the most profitable regions go instead to…well…the usual suspects, you might say

Even with the prized information in hand, the Metals Company has faced concerns among some agency officials that it is dominating a resource not intended for wealthy countries or international mining companies with nominal partners.

The Metals Company has rights to three of the seven exploratory contracts issued by the Seabed Authority in areas reserved for developing nations.

The rules require that the sponsoring nations, in this case Nauru and Tonga, exercise “effective control” over the mining projects so they are not partners in name only. The Metals Company has met this requirement, in part, by setting up nonprofit foundations to oversee operations, but they are controlled by the company, which has just one permanent employee on each island, according to securities filings. Operations are instead run from Australia, Canada and the United States.

The Metals Company secured access to a third reserved area in 2015, sponsored by the central Pacific island of Kiribati.
Nii Allotey Odunton, a mining engineer from Ghana who served as the Seabed Authority’s secretary general from 2009 to 2016, said that developing nations were left with no choice but to work closely with private contractors, particularly because the unit within the agency meant to facilitate mining was never created.
Klaas Willaert, an international maritime lawyer who has served as a Belgian delegate to the Seabed Authority, denounced the arrangements.

“They are relying on a legal loophole here,” Mr. Willaert said. “They have chosen tiny islands to gain access to the reserved areas. It is exactly the opposite of what the law of the sea intended.”

…which…well…might be an overstatement…depending on how you look at it…after all at the height of its colonial era top positions in the british system were open to anyone who could pass an exam…it just happened that unless you happened to live in britain you’d need to both afford & survive a long & expensive & statistically-speaking potentially lethal voyage there & back before that fact made any difference to the extent to which you could have a say in how the interests of the land of your birth might be handled…& it’s not exactly a stretch to say that worked very much in the way it was intended?

Chris G. Brown spent several years helping draft mining regulations as an employee and consultant at the agency. He now works as a consultant to Nauru, the Metals Company partner.

Charles Morgan, an environmental scientist, was retained by the authority to study data collected by early explorers of the proposed mining areas. Later, he was hired by a firm whose assets are now controlled by the Metals Company to secure a piece of that data for business purposes.

Nathan Eastwood, a mining industry lawyer at London-based Clifford Chance, took a sabbatical from his law firm last year to help the Seabed Authority draft mining regulations even as he continued to solicit future seabed-mining clients for his firm, the I.S.A. documents and other records show. He did not respond to requests for comment.
Scientists say that more is known about the surface of the moon than about the floor of the ocean, with much of it still unmapped, and estimate that perhaps 90 percent of the species at the bottom of the Pacific remain unclassified.
The company ha[s] teamed up with Allseas, the offshore oil contractor, to equip a former drill ship with a device resembling a bulldozer that vacuums up nodules. The machine has been tested in the North Sea, but the Metals Company wants a separate trial in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone so it can demonstrate what, it predicts, will be limited consequences for aquatic life as it collects about 3,600 tons of nodules. Ultimately, once commercial mining starts, it intends to extract 1.3 million tons of these rocks a year at its first site.

The Metals Company has pushed ahead with its plans even as the company has shown signs of financial challenges, with its stock price falling from a high of $15.39 last year to a low of 81 cents on Friday.
“It’s just not possible to do this without essentially destroying one of the largest wilderness areas left,” said Dr. Smith, citing the potential impact of 17 different mining projects in the area, including the three contracts held by the Metals Company. Dr. [Craig] Smith [an oceanographer and former mining industry contractor now at the University of Hawaii at Manoa [who] spent nearly five years at sea and in Antarctica studying marine life, and [whose] research has singled out the Clarion-Clipperton Zone as something worth preserving] was hired to evaluate the environmental effects of seabed mining by the South Korean government and Lockheed Martin, the American contractor, which are considering projects of their own.

“These are some of the most pristine, biodiverse habitats on a planet where we already have a biodiversity crisis because of destruction on land,” he said.
Secret Data, Tiny Islands and a Quest for Treasure on the Ocean Floor [NYT]

…speaking of land…the stuff which, as the old adage has it, they ain’t making any more of

Cleveland has now become a poster child for the need for more transparency in the U.S. real estate industry. A raft of new anti-money laundering laws and regulations is aimed at the industry, which has attracted more than $2 billion in illicit funds over a recent five-year period, according to one report. Chipping away at the culture of anonymous ownership is a good thing, and is long overdue. But the new rules won’t address the elephant in the room: Many cities and small towns, especially in the American Midwest, badly need investment, and sometimes shadowy foreign money is the only kind that comes calling.
The ordeal has sparked soul-searching in Cleveland and beyond about what went wrong and how to fix it. Scott Greytak, director of advocacy for Transparency International U.S. and a Cleveland native, told me that one of the biggest problems is that many American professionals aren’t required to do due diligence into their foreign clients. “Ihor Kolomoisky could not have raided Cleveland without the help of American enablers,” he said. “The middlemen who incorporate companies and who close on properties should have to ask basic questions about their clients before taking their money.”

He has been pushing for the ENABLERS Act, which the House passed in July. It would empower the Treasury Department to require so-called “gatekeepers” to the U.S. financial system — including certain lawyers, accountants and registered agents — to look into their clients and report suspicious activity, just as banks are required to do. It’s not clear whether the Senate will pass it, but the principle behind it is an important one: Americans who make a business model out of money laundering shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.

Another big problem that the saga of Optima reveals is the secrecy of the U.S. real estate industry itself, which encourages the use of limited liability companies, shell companies and land trusts that often end up protecting the privacy and the holdings of the wealthy. Jay Westbrook, a retired city councilman in Cleveland, told me that Ukrainian oligarchs aren’t the only ones who hide their identities. Mr. Westbrook, who now works with land banks to clean up abandoned and neglected properties, said it is not uncommon for out-of-town investors to buy property under the names of various L.L.C.s and then walk away from their responsibilities at the first sign of trouble, leaving unpaid taxes and messes behind. In many jurisdictions that have not been deemed at “high risk” for money laundering, cash buyers can essentially purchase property anonymously, without anyone involved in the transaction recording and verifying their true identities.
Congress took a small but important step in this direction when it passed the Corporate Transparency Act in the waning days of the Trump administration, overriding a presidential veto. The new law directs the financial crimes bureau of the Treasury Department, known as FinCEN, to collect information from companies about their true ownership and keep it in a massive, confidential database that can be used by law enforcement for money laundering investigations. Eventually, this law could touch millions of businesses, forcing them to file an additional form. As long as the filing process isn’t onerous, the benefits of greater transparency should outweigh the hassle.

But this database won’t be available to the public, and it’s unclear exactly how accessible it will be for people in cities like Cleveland who may want to use it to figure out if a potential investor is a deadbeat or a kleptocrat. It’s also far from clear that FinCEN has the capacity to build and manage the massive database it has been ordered to create. A Government Accountability Office report found that the agency can take years to make use of other ownership information that it collects and inform law enforcement agencies about the information’s existence. Unless this data is used effectively, there’s no point in collecting it.

To be clear, these steps to combat money laundering are important. The United States has been ranked the most secretive financial jurisdiction in the world. A 2016 report by the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental group that combats money laundering, gave the United States some embarrassingly low rankings, although some improvements have been made since then. To have strong credibility on the world stage in the fight against international corruption, the United States must continue these efforts. This is especially crucial now that the Biden administration has called corruption a core national security interest.
American Real Estate Was a Money Launderer’s Dream. That’s Changing. [NYT]

…now…in all seriousness…when you’ve successfully produced generations of voters who have enough gaps in what one might hope were some pretty basic bits of knowledge about how the world works to have happily gone along with lethally stupid bouts of political expediency…& that’s pretty much beyond question at this juncture

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, thousands of children died or were paralyzed due to polio; there were 20,000 cases of polio-induced paralysis in 1952 alone. Polio’s eradication from the US in 1979 thanks to vaccines is one of the greatest achievements of modern medicine. In the 21st century, there had been just three known instances of polio in the US – all thought to be imported – affecting a total of 10 people, with only one involving community spread.

Alerted to the man’s diagnosis, public health experts from the CDC, the New York health department and Rockland county sprang into action. Through wastewater testing, they discovered that the poliovirus had been circulating in Rockland county since May. They also found it in wastewater from neighboring Orange county and New York City. By mid-August, it became clear that not only was this the second case of polio from community transmission since 1979, it was probably a “silent outbreak” that had infected hundreds.

How did this happen?

Polio’s return to the US resulted from the confluence of a complicated set of scientific and societal factors that allowed a mutated version of the virus to start circulating in a susceptible community. This is the story of a life-saving vaccine with an unfortunate loophole that produced that version of the virus, and a calculated anti-vaccine campaign that created a vulnerable population.
A mutated virus, anti-vaxxers and a vulnerable population: how polio returned to the US [Guardian]

…sound familiar?

More than two-fifths of Americans believe civil war is at least somewhat likely in the next 10 years, according to a new survey – a figure that increases to more than half among self-identified “strong Republicans”.

Amid heated rhetoric from supporters of Donald Trump, the findings, in research by YouGov and the Economist, follow similar results in other polls.
Most experts believe a full-scale armed conflict, like the American civil war of 1861-65, remains unlikely.

But many fear an increase of jagged political division and explicitly political violence, particularly as Republican politicians who support Trump’s lie about electoral fraud run for Congress, governor’s mansions and key state elections posts.
In the poll by YouGov and the Economist, 65% of all respondents said political violence had increased since the start of 2021. Slightly fewer, 62%, thought political violence would increase in the next few years.

…leaving aside the shy & retiring nature of the players involved (emphasis on retiring)

Tony Ornato, who was an assistant director at the Secret Service, said his departure was planned more than a year ago, before explosive congressional testimony this summer about former President Donald Trump’s actions on Jan. 6.

…you may remember tony from such hits as “oh, those texts…yeah…no…those got wiped out in a totally not-suspicious-at-all freak effect of a software update which inexplicably seems to have involved backups as well as the things being updated”…& of course the whole “did he really lunge for the wheel in his desperation to get on down to the crowd of his supporters in the middle of forcing their way into the capitol building like a caricature of a wannabe despot?”

Ornato led Trump’s protective detail and made the unusual move to a political position as the White House deputy chief of staff for operations in 2019 before he returned to the Secret Service to help oversee its office of training.
His departure from the Secret Services comes amid other high-level changes at the agency. James Murray announced his retirement as director last month, before the congressional uproar over missing Secret Service text messages from Jan. 6 became public. President Joe Biden last week appointed Kim Cheatle as Murray’s successor.

…so…does god send the rain…hard for an agnostic to make that call, if I’m honest…but is it mortal hands that steer the flood…that might be easier to answer…for a given value of easy?

This week, the Lever, ProPublica and the New York Times discovered the largest known political advocacy donation in American history. We exposed a reclusive billionaire’s secret transfer of $1.6bn to a political group controlled by the Republican operative Leonard Leo, who spearheaded the construction of a conservative supreme court supermajority to end abortion, block government regulations, stymie the fight against climate change and limit voting rights.

This anonymous donation – which flowed to a tax-exempt trust that was never disclosed in any public record or database – was probably completely legal.

Whether you support or abhor Leo’s crusade, we should be able to agree on one larger non-partisan principle: such enormous sums of money should not be able to influence elections, lawmakers, judicial nominations and public policy in secret. And we should not have to rely on a rare leak to learn basic campaign finance facts that should be freely available to anyone.

Unfortunately, thanks to our outdated laws, those facts are now hidden behind anonymity, shell companies and shadowy political groups. America is long overdue for an overhaul of its political disclosure laws – and news organizations in particular should be leading the charge for reform.
Heading into the 2022 election, the situation is getting worse. The two parties’ major Senate and House Super Pacs are all being funded by anonymous dark money groups that are not required to disclose their donors.

These problems aren’t unique to the campaign arena. Front groups are also shaping public policy, leaving reporters unable to tell voters who exactly is funding what. In the last few years, an anonymously funded group used post-election ads to successfully pressure lawmakers to water down landmark healthcare legislation designed to eliminate so-called “surprise” medical bills.

Similarly, Leo’s anonymously funded network spent tens of millions to boost the nomination campaigns of three conservative supreme court justices, after leading a campaign supporting Republicans’ refusal to hold a vote on Barack Obama’s 2016 high court nominee, Merrick Garland.
The Disclose Act, sponsored by the Democratic senator Sheldon Whitehouse, would force dark money groups to disclose any of their donors who give more than $10,000, require shell companies spending money on elections to disclose their owners, and mandate that election ads list their sponsors’ major contributors. These requirements would extend not only to election-related activity, but also to campaigns to influence governmental decisions – including judicial nominations.

A separate Whitehouse bill would additionally require donor disclosure from shadowy groups lobbying the supreme court through amicus briefs designed to tilt judicial rulings without letting the public know which billionaire or CEO’s thumb is on the scale. And other pending legislation would finally allow the Securities and Exchange Commission to require major corporations to more fully disclose their political spending.

Journalists should proudly advocate for laws like these, which allow us to tell the public what its government is doing. Our industry has done that before in defending open records laws, and we must do it now in advocating for new campaign finance disclosure rules.
This battle to update campaign finance disclosure laws and bring sunlight to the darkest of dark money already faces powerful opponents. In recent years, the US Chamber of Commerce and Koch Industries – which represent some of America’s biggest dark money spenders – have been lobbying against the Disclose Act, preventing it from advancing for more than a decade.

The Koch network recently convinced the supreme court’s conservative bloc to strike down a California law requiring non-profit dark money groups to at least disclose their major donors to state tax regulators, after spending to back some of those justices’ confirmations to the court.

Most recently, conservative groups and Republican state attorneys general have been trying to block a proposal to force companies to disclose greenhouse gas emissions by arguing that it is unlawful “compelled speech” – a preview of the argument they might use against new campaign finance transparency legislation.

Just as alarming, segments of the journalism industry itself have opposed transparency efforts. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) — which represents the major media outlets making huge profits off of dark money ads — tried to block a rule at the Federal Election Commission a decade ago to require TV and radio stations to disclose ad buys from political groups, arguing it would cost them advertising revenue.

The NAB has recently successfully opposed the Federal Communications Commission’s requirements that broadcasters disclose when foreign governments sponsor material. NAB is right now lobbying on the Disclose Act.

But this week’s revelations about history’s largest dark-money donation should be an alarm telling us that the status quo must change – and indeed it can change, even within the confines of the supreme court’s own precedents.

…the unseen hand, ladies & gentlemen…ain’t it a sight to behold?

[…I’ll get around to finding some tunes…or at any rate I intend to?]

…ok…so…I did get around to finding some tunes…but I also found something else…seems the tweet that kicked it off has disappeared (the originating account appears to have been suspended) but basically some asshole disingenously requested a thorough accounting of the criminal activity of a certain grift-prone ex-incumbent…& this good lady has been giving it the ol’ college try over on twitter

…she’s over 100 tweets in at this point…& appears not to be done

…anyway…where was I?

…not for nothing…but when I used to think about how “somewhere in florida there are still votes being counted” was the part that kind of dated this one…I guess I never really thought about the possibility of that being in danger of becoming an outdated concept in that part of the world…though you’ve hardly got to look beyond the sugar industry to get a sense for how the money vs nature thing goes in that particular low-lying coastal region…so I’d admit this one’s been on my mind some, too?



  1. I just finished the book “American Kleptocracy” which is about how the U.S. became the biggest money laundering spot in the world. Cleveland was a major part of it. And despite the post-9/11 tracking of “dirty” money, Bush and the gang carved out enormous short-term exceptions for real estate and banks … which have not been closed as of 2022. Obama put forth some new rules and laws which helped on some loopholes, but Mango, well, you can guess where HE stood on that as he funneled ungodly amounts of dirty cash into his campaign from the usual suspects in Russia (and beyond).

    Funny enough, Biden’s Delaware is a major player in all of this because it had the laxest incorporation rules for decades (which is why every company up until recently was always incorporated there — a few other states have come at that crown for different industries, particularly South Dakota for credit cards because it allows them to charge usurious interest rates) but even he has taken steps to close more of those loopholes. But not all. The “Panama Papers” were interesting reading, but the U.S. is still the biggest money launderer and hidey-hole in the world. Not great!

    • …yeah…it’s a whole thing…& not for nothing but that #1 spot in the rankings isn’t something you get to attain without beating out some steep competition…london alone makes the UK punch considerably above its weight in similar territory…it’s a funny thing how the really big money seems to rely on staying in the shadiest places it can burrow itself away…almost as though it might have an allergic reaction to behaving that way in plain sight

      …& privacy itself is big business…& increasingly available in meaningful ways only to those with significant means

      …yeah…funny how that works…in a you-gotta-laugh-or-you’ll-cry sort of a way

      …so…while I’m making pronouncements well beyond my pay-grade…I’d like to nominate that “not great” as grounds to award you honorary-british status for your services to irony?

      • I also like the term “not ideal” when things are going extremely sideways. A few years ago my son had a massive, horrifying diaper blowout. My wife and I spotted/smelled it at the same time — she shouted “YUCK!” but I said, very calmly “Oh, that’s not ideal.”

        • …thanks to a particular friend who has to write academic stuff two of the ones I’m fond of are “sub-optimal” & “a non-trivial problem”

          …but I’m pretty much with you there…except in my case it tends to come out as “less than ideal”…I’m sure folks will be shocked that I somehow managed to use more words to say the same thing

        • …I’ve heard it argued that a gift for understatement is an essential component of the birthright of the british…which might be taking it a bit far…but without at least a decent grasp of the concept a lot of british humor would be pretty opaque

          …it might even be a greater obstacle the further north you go…in my experience the scottish are the real past masters of understatement?

    • Wilmington, Delaware, is a physically very unattractive place, I’ve been to it and through it many times, but it might as well be Liechtenstein or the Cayman Islands. Offices representing vast corporations that consist of one PO Box and maybe an on-site human or two. Joe Biden famously used to be known as the Senator from MBNA because that vast Delaware-chartered credit card company (since bought by Bank of America) and he had a very fruitful symbiotic existence for many years.

      To my mind, though, this is not nearly as comment-worthy as Joe Lieberman, the “Democrat,” who held up the Affordable Care Act and single-handedly excised the public option because he was the Senator from Cigna and Aetna, both based in Hartford. Remember, he was Al Gore’s pick for VP. And today, of course, we have Joe Manchin, the “Democratic” Senator representing his own coal interests.

      And these are just the Democrats. I’m not sure what the point of Ted Cruz is or Marco Rubio or even Mitch McConnell, maybe just to diffuse corporate corrupting and sleaze as widely as possible with no specific company or industry in mind.

    • …I’d certainly be up for trying to keep reading along…but I did note that after #105 (I think it was) the “see you tomorrow” one that followed was similarly labelled two-hundred & something…I don’t know a whole lot about how threading works on twitter, let alone the stitch-them-together things work but if she further extends that run will that link update?

      …or do I need to be on the lookout for a new tweet from today to keep tagging along until she catches up with the present?

      …either way, that looks a lot easier than the hoop-jumping twitter required when I made my way through it earlier…so thank you kindly for that

      • She jumped the numbering up to 206. I’m not sure why. The troll she was responding to, Tudor, had his account suspended. She offers a farewell to his memory but hasn’t continued beyond that. In theory, new tweets will be threaded. I tried the button that said force a refresh but nothing changed. I’m sure the person who set the link will do something about it.

        • …I wasn’t sure if the leap into the 200s was supposed to be a statement of intent or if there was some thing about how twitter works that meant that last tweet could act as a way for her to come back & append more to the end of it

          …I do know that as a non-twitter-account-haver even if I clicked on her handle to load the default page I couldn’t scroll past the pinned & retweeted stuff at the top to find her most recent tweet without being told I’d need to log in for the privilege though, so I’m pretty much relying on the kindness of strangers one way or another at this point?

          • The jump may be to interrupt the threading so she can resume at the proper point without going off topic. I don’t know Twitter well enough to say. This is a Meg question, honestly. I do think jumping 100 tweets ahead may be optimistic from the standpoint of listing Trump’s crimes, though.

            • …looks like that link does update…there hasn’t been an awful lot of actual progress today…which is fair enough when she clearly has places to be & people to see & such

              …but it did cover the part where the jump from 105 to 206 was just a straight up mistake she belatedly noticed before dropping the extra hundred…so the numbers are a little off for a hot minute?

    • Mrs. Butcher’s ex-husband used to work in radio and one day walked into his office to find Al sitting in his chair with his feet up on the desk, talking on the phone.  The ex looks at Al to say “WTF” and Al interrupts him to say, “do you mind?  I’m on the phone.”

  2. i interupt this newscast with new voltage

    that is all

    (i actually did read the whole thing….just have nothing useful to add….i mean…sides from new voltage…which is always useful)

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