SalvadorDali Girl at a window 1925
“Quiet” numbers. But not in Western Europe. Governments are talking about new lockdowns. People will not obey.
Western Europe second wave.
The next three days will be very difficult for us. The court will hear medical evidence of Julian's physical and mental condition and his likelihood of survival if he is extradited to face 175 years in a US prison.
Please treat Julian with dignity and humanity. #MentalHealth
— Stella Moris (@StellaMoris1) September 22, 2020
Excellent by Jonathan Cook. There are quite a few people at the Guardian who should be on trial instead of Assange..
• The US Is Using The Guardian To Justify Jailing Assange For Life (Cook)
[..] The corporate media had two possible responses to the promised Wikileaks revolution. One was to get behind it. But that was not straightforward. As we have noted, Wikileaks’ goal of transparency was fundamentally at odds both with the corporate media’s need for access to members of the power elite and with its embedded role, representing one side in the “competition” between rival power centres. The corporate media’s other possible response was to get behind the political elite’s efforts to destroy Wikileaks. Once Wikileaks and Assange were disabled, there could be a return to media business as usual.
Outlets would once again chase tidbits of information from the corridors of power, getting “exclusives” from the power centres they were allied with. Put in simple terms, Fox News would continue to get self-serving exclusives against the Democratic party, and MSNBC would get self-serving exclusives against Trump and the Republican Party. That way, everyone would get a slice of editorial action and advertising revenue – and nothing significant would change. The power elite in its two flavours, Democrat and Republican, would continue to run the show unchallenged, switching chairs occasionally as elections required.
[..] The Guardian may be largely ignoring the hearings, but the Old Bailey is far from ignoring the Guardian. The paper’s name has been cited over and over again in court by lawyers for the US. They have regularly quoted from a 2011 book on Assange by two Guardian reporters, David Leigh and Luke Harding, to bolster the Trump administration’s increasingly frantic arguments for extraditing Assange. When Leigh worked with Assange, back in 2010, he was the Guardian’s investigations editor and, it should be noted, the brother-in-law of the then-editor, Alan Rusbridger. Harding, meanwhile, is a long-time reporter whose main talent appears to be churning out Guardian books at high speed that closely track the main concerns of the UK and US security services.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should note that I had underwhelming experiences dealing with both of them during my years working at the Guardian. Normally a newspaper would not hesitate to put on its front page reports of the most momentous trial of recent times, and especially one on which the future of journalism depends. That imperative would be all the stronger were its own reporters’ testimony likely to be critical in determining the outcome of the trial. For the Guardian, detailed and prominent reporting of, and commentary on, the Assange extradition hearings should be a double priority.
So how to explain the Guardian’s silence? The book by Leigh and Harding, WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, made a lot of money for the Guardian and its authors by hurriedly cashing in on the early notoriety around Assange and Wikileaks. But the problem today is that the Guardian has precisely no interest in drawing attention to the book outside the confines of a repressive courtroom. Indeed, were the book to be subjected to any serious scrutiny, it might now look like an embarrassing, journalistic fraud. The two authors used the book not only to vent their personal animosity towards Assange – in part because he refused to let them write his official biography – but also to divulge a complex password with which he had entrusted Leigh to an online cache of encrypted documents.
That egregious mistake by the Guardian opened the door for every security service in the world to break into the file, as well as other files by cracking Assange’s sophisticated formula for devising passwords. Much of the furore about Assange’s supposed failure to protect names in the leaked documents Assange published stems from Leigh’s much-obscured role in sabotaging Wikileaks’ work. Assange was forced into a damage limitation operation because of Leigh’s incompetence, forcing him to hurriedly publish files so that anyone worried they had been named in the documents could know before hostile security services identified them.
The Guardian has sought for nearly a decade to obscure David Leigh's deeply irresponsible antics in publishing that critically important Wikileaks password.
It's another reason why the Guardian has barely covered the Assange hearings. It goes way beyond 'conflict of interest'
— Jonathan Cook (@Jonathan_K_Cook) September 22, 2020
All is fair in war.
• Prosecutor Claims Assange May Be Faking His Depression (RT)
A prosecutor representing the US at Julian Assange’s extradition hearings has argued that the WikiLeaks founder could be feigning depression after a psychiatrist said he might commit sucide if he is sent to the US to be tried. James Lewis, the lawyer representing Washington at Assange’s hearings in London, sought to poke holes in the testimony of renowned professor of neuropsychiatry, Michael Kopelman, who said on Tuesday that the WikiLeaks founder is suffering from “severe depression” after being confined to the maximum security Belmarsh Prison for over 16 months. Kopelman, who has visited Assange more than 20 times in prison, opined that if the court rules in favor of extradition to the US, it might drive Assange to take his own life.
He pointed out that the Australian’s years-long isolation at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London and the history of depression running in his family make the scenario even more plausible. It’s the imminence of extradition and/or an actual extradition that will trigger the [suicide] attempt, in my opinion Lewis argued that the symptoms of depression Kopelman saw in Assange are no more than pretense, suggesting that Assange has learned how to imitate the condition by reading the British Medical Journal in his cell and might have lied about having hallucinations, reported Shadowproof’s Kevin Gosztola, who attended the hearing. Lewis also blasted the expert for not identifying Assange’s partner, Stella Morris, by name in his first report, which Kopelman said was omitted for the sake of her privacy. Lewis then argued that the fact that Assange had a wife and two small children was “a protective factor against suicide” – a notion which Kopelman rejected, saying that suicide is not a sole prerogative of single people.
“President Trump should end the US government’s war on Assange…and on all whistleblowers and their publishers.”
• The War on Assange is a War on Truth (Ron Paul)
It is dangerous to reveal the truth about the illegal and immoral things our government does with our money and in our name, and the war on journalists who dare reveal such truths is very much a bipartisan affair. Just ask Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was relentlessly pursued first by the Obama Administration and now by the Trump Administration for the “crime” of reporting on the crimes perpetrated by the United States government. Assange is now literally fighting for his life, as he tries to avoid being extradited to the United States where he faces 175 years in prison for violating the “Espionage Act.” While it makes no sense to be prosecuted as a traitor to a country of which you are not a citizen, the idea that journalists who do their job and expose criminality in high places are treated like traitors is deeply dangerous in a free society.
To get around the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press, Assange’s tormentors simply claim that he is not a journalist. Then-CIA director Mike Pompeo declared that Wikileaks was a “hostile intelligence service” aided by Russia. Ironically, that’s pretty much what the Democrats say about Assange. Earlier this month, a US Federal appeals court judge ruled that the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records was illegal. That bulk collection program, born out of the anti-American PATRIOT Act, was first revealed to us by whistleblower Edward Snowden just over seven years ago. That is why whistleblowers and those who publish their information are so important. Were it not for Snowden and Assange, we would never know about this government criminality.
And if we never know about government malfeasance it can never be found to be criminal in the first place. That is convenient for governments, but it is also a recipe for tyranny. While we might expect the US media to aggressively come to the aid of a fellow journalist being persecuted by the government for doing his job, the opposite is happening. As journalist Glen Greenwald wrote last week, the US mainstream media is completely ignoring the Assange extradition trial. Why would they do such a thing? Partisan politics. Journalists – with a few important exceptions like Greenwald himself – are no longer interested in digging and reporting the truth. These days they believe they have a “higher calling.”
[..] We cannot have a self-governing society as was intended for our Republic if the government, with the complicity of the mainstream media, decides that there are things we are not allowed to know about it. President Trump should end the US government’s war on Assange…and on all whistleblowers and their publishers.
I’m sure we all feel a lot more comfortable once CNN starts showing a human-interest interest in Edward Snowden, right?
CNN badly misreported this.
A) This is not a settlement; I didn't agree to it.
B) The judgement from this censorship case is not enforceable while I am in exile, but I've never had that much money anyway.
Better headline: "US could gain up to $5m by pardoning Edward Snowden." https://t.co/8jp6IZnOKC
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 22, 2020
• Edward Snowden To Give Up More Than $5 Million From Book And Speeches (CNN)
Edward Snowden, the former CIA contractor who leaked intelligence secrets in 2013, has agreed to forfeit more than $5 million he earned from his book and speaking fees to the US government, according to court records. Snowden published his book “Permanent Record” last year without government approval, in violation of contracts he signed with the CIA and the National Security Agency. A federal judge had sided with the Justice Department in its lawsuit to claw back Snowden’s proceeds, and was considering how much he would need to pay. The agreement Snowden’s legal team reached may not be the end of the dispute of his book proceeds, however. The judge has not yet approved the forfeiture plan.
And Snowden, in the agreement, said he still wants the ability to appeal the judge’s earlier decision against him. He tweeted his reaction to CNN’s reporting on Tuesday. “A) This is not a settlement; I didn’t agree to it. B) The judgement from this censorship case is not enforceable while I am in exile, but I’ve never had that much money anyway,” he wrote on Twitter, highlighting how he may still contest his case in court or be able to block handing over his proceeds. “Better headline: ‘US could gain up to $5m by pardoning Edward Snowden,'” he added. Snowden’s pardon suggestion on Twitter downplayed the current reality of his situation — if the court proceedings stand, Snowden would still be liable for the $5 million his lawyers said he’s gained and agreed to give up, and potentially more.
[..] The case represents one of the few ways the US government has found to hold former employees accountable for unauthorized leaks. John Bolton, the former national security adviser who published a damaging book about President Donald Trump earlier this year, faces a similar attempt by the Justice Department to claw back proceeds for publishing. That case is still ongoing, with a hearing set for this week. Bolton disputes the government’s accusations. Snowden, who lives in Russia, had earned $4.2 million from his book sales, royalties and related rights as of this month. He gave 56 paid speeches that included disclosures that breached his government secrecy agreement, according to the court filing from his lawyers in the US and the Justice Department. In all, Snowden made about $1.03 million from the speeches, with an average speaking fee of $18,000. The money will be put in a trust, according to the plan to which Snowden and the Trump administration agreed.
Meanwhile, where the real criminals hang out…
• US Suspects Deutsche Bank Laundered $1.3 Trillion In 20 Years (RT)
Germany’s largest lender, Deutsche Bank, is reportedly suspected by the US of facilitating more than half of the $2 trillion of suspicious transactions that were flagged by the US government between 1999 and 2017. According to broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), some $1.3 trillion of $2 trillion in leaked transactions that occurred between 1999 and 2017 and were flagged as suspicious passed through Deutsche Bank. DW cited documents obtained by BuzzFeed News and shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The documents revealed that five major banks (Bank of New York Mellon, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JPMorgan and Standard Chartered) processed trillions of dollars of transactions identified as suspicious.
The activity reports that banks and other financial institutions filed with the US Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, showed that the megabanks continued to profit from powerful and dangerous players even after US authorities fined the financial institutions for earlier failures to stem flows of dirty money. Deutsche Bank said in a statement that the incidents in the leaked documents “have already been investigated and led to regulatory resolutions in which the bank’s cooperation and remediation was publicly recognized. Where necessary and appropriate, consequence management was applied.” Deutsche added that it has “devoted significant resources to strengthening our controls” and is “very focused on meeting our responsibilities and obligations.”
I confess, I like to f*ck with your mind. Two articles with 180º different views of Barrett, who may well not even be nominated. Gotta stay ahead of the game, right?
I still don’t get why people keep talking up RBG’s “dying wish”, if she ever had one. She would have been the first to acknowledge it was never her call. Don’t you dishonor her by suggesting it was?
• Amy Coney Barrett Would Be The Ultimate Insult To RBG (NBC)
When Ruth Bader Ginsburg entered Harvard Law School in 1956, she was one of just nine women in a class of about 500 men. She transferred to Columbia and graduated at the top of her class, but many judges wouldn’t hire a woman as a clerk. When she began to teach law, there were fewer than two dozen female law professors. Sixteen years after Ginsburg started at Harvard Law, Barrett was born. The same year, 1972, Notre Dame Law School — which would become Barrett’s alma mater — began admitting female students, thanks to people like Ginsburg who pushed through doors long closed. Barrett wasn’t even 1 year old in 1973, when the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade and legalized abortion nationwide; just a few years before that, the court had decided Griswold v. Connecticut, which established a right to sexual and intimate privacy and legalized contraception.
With those two decisions, women had unprecedented power to control their reproductive lives, which in turn gave them greater control over their educations, their finances and their futures. In Roe and Griswold’s wake, women flooded into college, law school and the workplace. Barrett was one of them. But instead of doing what Ginsburg did — pushing doors open, reaching out to help others through — Barrett tried to slam them shut. She went on to be a conservative lawyer, professor and judge, and if she is appointed to the Supreme Court, she will likely be key in undermining much of what has allowed American women to make the progress they have: abortion rights, contraception access and prohibitions on many forms of gender discrimination.
This certainly puts Barrett at odds with most of America’s most venerated female lawyers and jurists and with female lawyers more generally. Feminism creates something like a virtuous cycle: As women gain greater opportunity, they become more invested in preserving and expanding what they’ve gained. But making the initial gains, and moving them forward, has always been difficult. Constraints on women’s rights in the United States have historically been couched in the language of benevolence and protection, of women being too moral and too delicate to play in the same arena as men. Gender discrimination was justified as chivalrous, as an effort to protect women and treat them as ladies. This, Ginsburg noted, “helps to keep women not on a pedestal, but in a cage.”
They tried to destroy Thomas in 1991, they tried to destroy Kavanaugh in 2018. They’ll try to destroy the next nominee.
Listen to every word of this powerful response from Thomas & watch out for shot of Biden squirming.
— Rita Panahi (@RitaPanahi) September 21, 2020
“Picture a female jurist who has consistently defied social expectations imposed on women and whose legal thinking is closely bound up with her faith.”
• Amy Coney Barrett Is Hands-Down Best Pick To Replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg (NYP)
Picture a female jurist who has consistently defied social expectations imposed on women and whose legal thinking is closely bound up with her faith. No, I’m not talking about Amy Coney Barrett, reported to top President Trump’s list of candidates to fill the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat. I’m talking about Ginsburg herself. Ginsburg believed fervently that conventional expectations shouldn’t hinder women as they seek their full, fair share of public life. Nor was she shy about how her Jewish faith shaped her judicial mind. In an essay for the American Jewish Committee published in 1993, she wrote: “Laws as protectors of the oppressed, the poor, the loner, is evident in the work of my Jewish predecessors .. The biblical command ‘Justice, justice shalt thou pursue’ is a strand that ties them together.”
By those criteria, Barrett would make a most worthy successor to RBG. In nominating the 48-year-old Louisianan, the president would present the nation with an inspiring vision of what it means to be an American woman in 2020 — one that could by turns surprise and captivate the suburban women Trump is keen to court while also delivering for the GOP base. “Amy represents an opportunity to showcase a generationally brilliant, special intellect — who also is a mom,” says O. Carter Snead, Barrett’s longtime faculty colleague at the Notre Dame law school, where Barrett also received her law degree. Her rare combination of hyper-intelligence and humility is a matter of bipartisan consensus. “The smartest person in the room and also the most humble” was how Snead and two other sources intimately familiar with Barrett described her, echoing each other almost verbatim.
Harvard Law School prof Noah Feldman -a liberal who testified before Congress in favor of impeaching the president- hailed her as “a truly brilliant lawyer” in a 2018 column. Feldman should know. He and Barrett were members of the same class of Supreme Court clerks in 1998. “She was one of the two best lawyers” of the 40 clerks “and arguably the single best.” Feldman concluded: “She was legally prepared enough to go on the court 20 years ago.” When Trump nominated Barrett to the Seventh Circuit, every single one of those 40 fellow clerks endorsed her as a “first-rate” thinker including such vehemently anti-Trump figures as Neal Katyal, solicitor general under Team Obama. The entire Notre Dame law faculty likewise endorsed her, “and that includes people who identify as liberal,” as Snead was quick to note.
“774,000 Floridians who have already served their time in jail or prison are not eligible to vote..”
That is nuts. But isn’t this too close for comfort to buying votes? It would be funny if they all vote Trump.
• Michael Bloomberg Pays Fines For 32,000 Florida Felons So They Can Vote (NYP)
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has helped pay the outstanding fines and fees of 32,000 convicted felons in Florida so they could regain their right to vote ahead of the November election, according to a report. The billionaire and former presidential candidate raised over $16 million for, and donated $5 million to, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, according to Axios. Bloomberg’s push would benefit ex-cons as part of a 2018 state constitutional amendment allowing felons who have served their time to regain their right to vote. Before they can regain that right, however, they need to pay any fines, fees or restitution.
In a statement to the news outlet, a representative for Bloomberg said, “The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy and no American should be denied that right. Working together with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, we are determined to end disenfranchisement and the discrimination that has always driven it.” On Monday, the FRRC shared a New York Times op-ed titled, “This Is How Bloomberg Can Help Biden Win Florida.” The piece praised his decision to spend $100 million in the Sunshine State to boost Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as he fights a neck-and-neck race against President Trump.
“An even more politically effective, and charitable, use of those dollars might be to help pay off the debts of Floridians who have financial obligations related to a felony conviction — as LeBron James and the group behind More Than a Vote did this summer. “Because of an 11th Circuit appeals court ruling on Sept. 11, an estimated 774,000 Floridians who have already served their time in jail or prison are not eligible to vote in the 2020 election until they pay the fines and fees associated with their sentences,” read the op-ed, authored by computer scientist Dr. Robert Montoye.
Hey, it fits their MO!
NYT, Guardian, rest of MSM in 2020 know only one side of the population reads and watches them, and that they don’t read the other side. That frees them up to paint a very one-sided picture.
• New York Times Wrongly Cuts Election Year Nominations By Almost Half (Turley)
The New York Times ran a story declaring that there were only “there have been 16 Supreme Court vacancies that occurred before Election Day.” [..] I decided to do another rough count and, if anything, it would seem that the 29 nomination figure is arguably too low and that there appears almost twice the number cited by the New York Times. [..]
There has been considerable push back on the “precedent” for an election-year nomination. NBC Meet the Press Host Chuck Todd exclaimed “What precedent?!” when John Barrasso (R-WY) even used the word precedent in his interview. In reality, such nominations have occurred regularly in history. Indeed, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg herself said in 2016 that the Senate had to do its “job” and vote on such nominations because “there’s nothing in the Constitution that says the president stops being president in his last year.” (While Todd correctly considered it newsworthy to note that Ginsburg wanted to leave her seat for the next president to fill, he did not consider it relevant to also note that Ginsburg previously insisted that the Senate was supposed to fill such seats in an election year).
Justice Sonia Sotomayor also stated that it was wrong to leave the Court with only eight justices. That debate will continue to rage, but we should be able to reach a consensus on the historical record, even in this time of rage. Here is my effort (taken at my own peril). I may be missing something obvious but I count 30 nominations in the year before a presidential election. The current vacancy could produce 31. There are a couple that could be excluded by a day or so (Johnson, Rutledge, Jay, and Crittenden). There is a recess appointment (Brennan). There were also a couple on the last day of the election period (King and Walworth). Moreover, a couple nominees were nominated and then renominated.
Some are repeaters. For example, President John Tyler nominated Reuben Walworth three times in 1844, but Tyler was unpopular with the Democrats and the Whigs in Congress (leading to a series of stalled efforts on nominations and legislation). Spencer and King were also repeaters but represented separate nominations. However, even with such eliminations, it comes to roughly 30 not 16 from what I can see.
There is nothing in Joe Rogan’s $100 million contract to protect his freedom? If so, what lawyer negotiated that?
• Spotify Employees Demand Editorial Oversight Over Joe Rogan Podcasts (DMN)
A group of Spotify staffers are now reportedly pushing to introduce direct editing oversight over The Joe Rogan Experience — before the episodes go live. That includes content flags, trigger warnings, references to fact-checked information, or simply refusing to publish an episode at all. The demands follow a string of controversial comments by Joe Rogan, who was lured to Spotify in a massive, $100 million deal. Rogan’s appeal to millions of listeners is his unfiltered and irreverent approach, though that style isn’t sitting well with an activist group of Spotify staffers who say he needs to be reined in.
Earlier this month, Digital Music News first reported that multiple podcast episodes were missing following a migration to Spotify’s platform. That included controversial interviews with the likes of Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Gavin McInnes. Also missing are episodes featuring right-wing figures like Owen Benjamin, Stefan Molyneux, and Charles C. Johnson. But despite the glaring omissions, Spotify staffers are now stepping up their demands to control more of Rogan’s content. Vice first reported that Spotify employees have conducted more than ten meetings to discuss possible changes. Those discussions included proposals for the outright removal of additional podcast episodes.
Of particular focus in an earlier conversation featuring author Abigail Shrier, who wrote Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. Shrier’s opinions on the matter drew howls of protest from certain Spotify staffers, who demanded its removal — though the episode is still available on the Spotify platform. Now, Digital Music News has learned that the protesting employee group is stepping up its demands to control Rogan’s work.
Part of the rationale is that Spotify already exerts control over content like playlists, even those created by outside curators. So why not extend that oversight to podcasts as well?
I’ll take some.
• Putin Offers UN Staff Free Dose Of Russia’s Sputnik V Vaccine (RT)
Speaking at the UN General Assembly, Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for a top-level conference on joint global development of a Covid-19 vaccine. He also offered UN staff a dose of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for free. The UN General Assembly, held in a coronavirus-appropriate virtual format, kicked off on Tuesday. Putin delivered a speech during its morning session, largely focusing on the ongoing pandemic. “We’ve all faced a fundamentally new challenge – the coronavirus pandemic. The disease directly affected millions of people, [and] claimed the most precious thing – hundreds of thousands of human lives. Quarantines, the closure of borders, creation of numerous problems for citizens of almost all countries – all these things are the reality today,” Putin said.
All world leaders interested in cooperation on the development of a Covid-19 vaccine should meet and discuss fending off the deadly disease and making the jab freely accessible to everyone, he said, calling it the top priority for the whole of humankind. Russia was the first in the world to register a vaccine – Sputnik V, which has proven to be “reliable, safe and effective” – and is ready to provide all the assistance needed, Putin stressed. “We are absolutely open and committed to partnership. In this regard, we are coming with an initiative to hold a high-level online conference in the nearest future with states interested in cooperation in the development of vaccines against coronavirus.”
Noting that the disease has already affected UN staff, Putin then offered the organization help in battling the virus. He said that Moscow is ready to provide free Sputnik V shots to any UN staffers willing to be vaccinated, adding that Russia has already received some requests from their UN colleagues. The Sputnik V vaccine is currently undergoing large-scale final trials. Tens of thousands of Russians and foreigners have volunteered to take part in the pilot immunization program.
Cut out all sanctions.
• Putin: Global Economy Won’t Recover From Pandemic ‘For A Long Time’ (RT)
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin told the 75th session of the UN General Assembly that global trade needs to be released from illegitimate sanctions. He also decried a “lack of humanity” in international affairs in the Covid era. Addressing the assembly on Tuesday, Putin added that it will take a long time to resuscitate the global economy from the damage wrought by coronavirus. In his opinion, it will be necessary to make radical choices. The Russian president added that the UN Security Council should “take into fuller account the interests of all countries.” “I would like to once again draw attention to the Russian proposal on the introduction of so-called ‘green corridors,’ [which would be] free from trade wars and sanctions, primarily for essential goods, food, medicines, and personal protective equipment, which are in demand specifically to combat the pandemic,” he said.
“In general, releasing and freeing world trade from barriers, bans, restrictions, [and] illegitimate sanctions could help to restore global growth and reduce unemployment.” Putin also urged the UN itself to adapt to the present global situation. “[It] should reflect in its development the dynamics of the 21st century, and consistently adapt to the realities of the modern world, which is indeed becoming more complex, multipolar, multidimensional,” he explained. Sounding a downbeat note on the global economy, the Russian leader noted that “experts have yet to fully assess the scale of the socio-
Direct result of our criminal actions in their home counntries.
• How Rescuing Drowning Migrants Became A Crime (G.)
In the summer of 2017, two years on from the peak of Europe’s refugee crisis, smugglers in Libya were still sending hundreds of people a day to sea in unsafe rubber boats, and the Iuventa’s crew wanted to be where the action was. In a patch of sea just off the coast of north Africa, about a dozen NGO ships were searching for boats in distress – a direct challenge, as many of them saw it, to European governments that had scaled back state-run rescue efforts. Yet the Iuventa had been following instructions that drew it further away from the rescue zone and closer to Italian territorial waters. According to the ship’s records, the Italian coastguard first told the crew to rendezvous with an Italian navy ship to collect two men found adrift at sea, and deliver them to another. The second ship never turned up.
Then they were told to look for a blue and white fishing boat with 50 people on board, apparently foundering in the sea close to Lampedusa. As night fell on 1 August, after a day spent searching the waves in vain, a message came through: call off your search and proceed into port. It was the third time in a few months that the ship had been ordered into the harbour at Lampedusa. In just over a year, the Iuventa – crewed by a group of young, motivated people “who could not stand to see the situation in the Mediterranean any longer”, as one put it to me – rescued more than 14,000 people. Most of these rescues were coordinated by the Italian coastguard, but the relationship was increasingly strained.
The Iuventa’s revolving crew of volunteers were outspoken critics of Europe’s border policies, and the small, agile ship took more risks than some of the larger NGO vessels, sailing as close as possible to Libyan waters in order to be able to rescue people from unsafe boats sooner. As one Italian media outlet put it, the ship was “like a sort of Berliner squat out in the middle of the sea – very well organised, radical and antagonistic”. As the Iuventa entered the harbour of Lampedusa, the crew expected to be questioned briefly by police, as they had been on previous occasions, then allowed to get back to work. They were wrong. Within a few hours, their ship would be seized, marking the beginning of a long and still unresolved criminal investigation that leaves 10 humanitarian volunteers facing up to 20 years in prison.
You are what you wear. Literally: the article doesn’t mention it, but those microfibers pile up inside our bodies too.
• Washed Clothing’s Synthetic Mountain of ‘Fluff’ (BBC)
When you add it up, the total amount of synthetic microfibres going into the wider environment as we wash our clothes is an astonishing number. US scientists estimate it to be 5.6 million tonnes since we first started wearing those polyester and nylon garments in a big way in the 1950s. Just over half this mass – 2.9 million tonnes – has likely ended up in our rivers and seas. That’s the equivalent of seven billion fleece jackets, the researchers say. But while we fret about water pollution, and rightly so, increasingly this synthetic “fluff” issue is one that affects the land. The University of California, Santa Barbara, team which did the calculations found that emission to the terrestrial environment has now overtaken that to water bodies – some 176,500 tonnes a year versus 167,000 tonnes.
The reason? Wastewater treatment works have become very good at catching the fibres lost from washing machines. What’s happening is those captured fibres, along with biosolid sludge, are then being applied to cropland or simply buried in landfills. “I hear people say that the synthetic microfibre problem from apparel washing will take care of itself as wastewater treatment works become more widespread around the world and more efficient. But really what we’re doing is just moving the problem from one environmental compartment to another,” Roland Geyer, from UCSB’s Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, told BBC News. The industrial ecologist, working with a range of other experts, has previously totted up the total amount of virgin plastics ever produced (8.3 billion tonnes); and the annual flow of plastics into the oceans (roughly eight million tonnes a year).
These types of calculations are fiendishly complicated, involve models and necessarily resort to quite a few assumptions to plug real-world data gaps. They can’t be absolute in their descriptions of the issues, but at the very least they provide some ball-park figures on which to base serious conversations around mitigation. [..] When the UCSB team ran its flow analysis on all these variables, the number that emerged for the total mass of synthetic microfibres emitted from apparel washing between 1950 and 2016 was 5.6 million tonnes. Half of this amount, however, was released in just the last decade. This is in part a consequence of course of our ballooning collections of clothes. In 1990, say the researchers, the global average stock of garments per capita was 8kg. By 2016 it was 26kg per head.
Mysteries can make one sad too.
• 380 Whales Dead In Worst Mass Stranding In Australia’s History (G.)
Rescuers fighting to save a pod of 270 whales stranded in Tasmania’s west have discovered a further 200 whales about 10km away in the same harbour, which all appear to be dead. The stranding is likely one of the largest on record globally and the worst in Australia’s history. The sighting was made by helicopter over Macquarie Harbour on Wednesday morning and brings the total number of dead long-finned pilot whales in the stranding to about 290. The number of dead could rise further today as data from infrared helicopter surveillance is analysed, said Nic Deka, the coordinator of the rescue from Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service regional manager.
Dr Kris Carlyon, a marine conservation program wildlife biologist, said on Wednesday that the addition of 200 whales made this current stranding the largest in Tasmania’s history. Records show some 294 whales, also long-finned pilots, stranded at Stanley on Tasmania’s north-west in 1935.
Babylon Bee Brilliance.
• NBA Players Wear Special Lace Collars To Honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg (BBee)
NBA players are honoring the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg this week by wearing pretty lace collars just like Notorious RBG used to wear. In a touching show of respect for the late Justice Ginsburg, and in solidarity with her progressive cause, Lebron James and the LA Lakers took to the court yesterday wearing a stunning variety of delicate white collars inspired by RBG’s wardrobe. According to several commentators on ESPN, the virtual teleconference crowd fell silent in reverent awe as the players all knelt down and chanted “RBG! RBG! RBG!” “Yeah, RBG was an amazing person,” said LeBron James after the game. “I have her biography right here and I totally read it right before the game. She was a judge. That’s cool, I respect that. Judges judge things and not everyone can do that. She believed in Black Lives Matter and being on the right side of history and stuff.”
Power forward Anthony Davis also expressed his happiness with the collars. “It’s good to honor her today with these lacey things. Commissioner Adam Silver and President Xi Jinping told us to wear them so we did. I just took this little doily thing from under a table lamp at my mom’s house and cut a hole in the middle. Easy.” NBA players are vowing to wear the collars until Trump is removed from office, or until angry rioters burn their basketball arenas down, whichever comes first.
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