Thursday, June 22, 2017

Energy Sec. Perry Says CO2 Levels Not Primarily To Blame For Climate Change

Cristina Cabrera · Monday, June 19, 2017, 2:53 pm

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Monday that the primary contributing factors to climate change are the “ocean waters and this environment that we live in” — not rising CO2 levels.

“Do you believe CO2 is the primary control knob for the temperature of the Earth and for climate?” asked CNBC’s Joe Kernen.

“No, most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in,” replied the secretary. He then began to complain about the backlash against “being a skeptic.”

“This idea that science is just absolutely settled and if you don’t believe it’s settled then somehow you’re another Neanderthal, that is so inappropriate from my perspective,” Perry said.

Being a “skeptic,” according to Perry, is “quite alright.”

At the ended of the interview, Kernan gave Perry a verbal pat on the back. “Alright, Mr. Secretary, that’s a pretty good answer. You did well there.”


China's billionaires are disappearing into police custody and/or early graves

Cory Doctorow · Monday, June 19, 2017, 11:29 am

Dozens of the richest executives in China have disappeared under mysterious circumstances and are assumed to be in police detention as the country pursues an aggressive anti-corruption agenda

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Supreme Court Rules Law On Offensive Trademarks Is Unconstitutional

Sam Hananel · Monday, June 19, 2017, 10:53 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday struck down part of a law that bans offensive trademarks in a ruling that is expected to help the Washington Redskins in their legal fight over the team name.

The justices ruled that the 71-year-old trademark law barring disparaging terms infringes free speech rights.

The ruling is a victory for the Asian-American rock band called the Slants, but the case was closely watched for the impact it would have on the separate dispute involving the Washington football team.

Slants founder Simon Tam tried to trademark the band name in 2011, but the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denied the request on the ground that it disparages Asians. A federal appeals court in Washington later said the law barring offensive trademarks is unconstitutional.

The Redskins made similar arguments after the trademark office ruled in 2014 that the name offends American Indians and canceled the team’s trademark. A federal appeals court in Richmond put the team’s case on hold while waiting for the Supreme Court to rule in the Slants case.

In his opinion for the court, Justice Samuel Alito rejected arguments that trademarks are government speech, not private speech. Alito also said trademarks are not immune from First Amendment protection as part of a government program or subsidy.

Tam insisted he was not trying to be offensive, but wanted to transform a derisive term into a statement of pride. The Redskins also contend their name honors American Indians, but the team has faced decades of legal challenges from Indian groups that say the name is racist.

Despite intense public pressure to change the name, Redskins owner Dan Snyder has refused, saying it “represents honor, respect and pride.”

In the Slants case, government officials argued that the law did not infringe on free speech rights because the band was still free to use the name even without trademark protection. The same is true for the Redskins, but the team did not want to lose the legal protections that go along with a registered trademark. The protections include blocking the sale of counterfeit merchandise and working to pursue a brand development strategy.

A federal appeals court had sided with the Slants in 2015, saying First Amendment protects “even hurtful speech that harms members of oft-stigmatized communities.”


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Adviser: Trump hates the job, but 'doesn't want to go down in history' for resigning (hunter) · Sunday, June 18, 2017, 5:33 pm

Buried in an alarming-all-by-itself Politico article pondering how far down the line of succession we'd have to get, in the Justice Department, before we found someone who would not either have to recuse themselves from the Russia-Trump investigation or who an enraged Trump wouldn't also summarily fire—oh, and by the way Trump might simply change the executive order setting the Justice Department's line of succession, thus speeding up the process of, say, eventually just giving that job to Jared Kushner as well:

“At the rate we're going, [more firings are] clearly possible, because you could go through a number of people in one go depending on the things that are asked of them,” said Jane Chong, a national security and law associate at the Hoover Institution. “If Rosenstein had refused to write the memo [laying out the case for Comey’s firing], you can imagine him being fired, and you can imagine Brand doing the same thing. It’s not difficult to see a scenario like that” playing out down the line, Chong said.
... is this little nugget of a quote.

Trump, too, is cognizant of the comparison to Nixon, according to one adviser. The president, who friends said does not enjoy living in Washington and is strained by the demanding hours of the job, is motivated to carry on because he “doesn’t want to go down in history as a guy who tried and failed,” said the adviser. “He doesn’t want to be the second president in history to resign.”
We’ve heard for a while that Trump doesn't like the job and is feeling "strained" by it even after spending nearly every last sodding Friday-to-Sunday at Mar-a-Lago or, now that the season's closed, hitting up one of his other golf courses—spending more time and taxpayer money on his own leisure than any president in recent history. He’s furious at the way he’s been treated in the press, and by opponents, and has been yelling at televisions and at his own staff for not making him magically successful and popular.

But he's tired and cranky to the extent that, according to an “adviser,” the thought of resigning has already been on his mind? Do tell.

We're only five months in, you know. That's it. The man is "strained" by the job and the town and the lack of gold-painted ceilings after only five sodding months in and, according to one of his own advisers, is hanging on after these first twentyish weeks not because he gives a flying damn about any of it but because he's afraid quitting would make him look like a failure.

Holy moly is he, the rest of his White House, and just by-the-by every last one of the rest of us in big trouble. Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence is trying to skirt the Russia-Trump-Flynn-Comey-takeyourpick investigation while measuring the Oval Office drapes himself, likely under the assumption that he’ll be getting to redecorate sooner rather than later.


33 things Republicans (and only Republicans) have done to blaze new trails of corruption (david Akadjian) · Sunday, June 18, 2017, 4:32 pm

The last stand of many people I know seems to be “B-b-b-b-but Democrats ...” This idea that “both sides do it” is eventually used to justify and support some new proposed corrupt Republican proposal.

Except one side—and one side only—is the tip of the spear.

Here are 33 things Republicans have done to blaze new ground in corruption and irresponsibility.

1. Won an election with the help of Russia. Seventeen intelligence agencies have confirmed that the Russian government directed the recent compromises of e-mails and disclosed these to sites like and Wikileaks. These efforts were targeted to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.

2. Put the oil and gas industry in charge of the EPA. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt worked with oil industry and electric utilities to combat environmental regulations.

3. Sold the Department of Education to an Amway heiress who not only wants to privatize public schools but also owns a student debt collection agency. If you don’t know what Amway is, Amway is a pyramid scheme.

4. Demanded loyalty oaths from intelligence officials.

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Commander in chief Trump goes AWOL (jon Perr) · Sunday, June 18, 2017, 10:31 am

“The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” With that phrase, Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution of the United States ensures civilian control over—and accountability for—the American military. While the power to declare war rests with Congress, responsibility for America’s global vision, its foreign policy and national security objectives, the military strategies to achieve them, the operational plans they entail and, most solemn of all, putting the lives of servicemen and women in harm’s way, rest with the president alone.

But what if the occupant of the White House fails to fulfill his constitutionally-mandated role as commander in chief? How would U.S. allies and enemies alike react to the strategic confusion and policy-making void left by the president’s abdication of his or her most important job? What should the American people believe—what should their 1.5 million soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines do—when the Pentagon’s mission is a mystery?

Sadly, these questions are not hypothetical. As his decision this week to delegate Afghanistan strategy and force levels to the secretary of defense once again showed, commander in chief Donald Trump is absent without leave.

As the New York Times and the Washington Post reported this week, President Trump announced this week that when it comes to America’s 16-year-old war in Afghanistan, the buck stops at the Pentagon.

President Trump’s decision to delegate authority to the Pentagon to set troop levels in Afghanistan has raised concerns that a few thousand additional troops expected to deploy soon could be just the beginning of a new surge in the country after 15 years of war.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis assured lawmakers Wednesday that a large increase in deployed forced will not happen, but some experts and former battlefield commanders warned the White House and Congress should be careful not to give the Pentagon a blank check.

Those experts are right to be worried


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