Sleep & Money | We’re Yelling Timber | Climate Change & Personal Health

APRIL 26, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE


New York Times best selling author and lawyer, Scott Turow is back to discuss his reaction following the release of the Mueller report in this exclusive Daily Pnut guest post.

Because I knew lawyers who’d worked for William Barr during his first incarnation as Attorney General, I was hopeful that he would be a good faith leader of an independent Justice Department. Consider my hopes now crushed. Mr. Barr’s Summary of Mr. Mueller’s Report was dishonest and overtly political, designed to armor Mr. Trump against the impeachment proceedings that Mr. Mueller was plainly calling for. In the Summary, and in various whisperings to the press, Barr claimed to be anguished because Mueller had not done his job of making a prosecutive decision about whether Mr. Trump could be charged with Obstruction of Justice. Barr claimed to be leaping into the void and decided that the evidence didn’t support an obstruction charge. The truth, we now know, was the opposite. Mueller stated that if the evidence didn’t support an obstruction indictment, he would have said so, but he couldn’t make that statement. Translation from a language Barr speaks: there is enough evidence to indict Mr. Trump. Mueller didn’t bother to go there because Department of Justice policy prohibited him from making the obstruction decision. Instead, Mueller said, that was something Congress could consider. Barr got his job with a lengthy memo arguing that because the President is head of the executive branch, he can’t obstruct justice, which is an executive branch function under the Constitution. But the problem with Barr’s argument is that the less amenable the president is to normal criminal sanctions, the stronger the argument becomes for impeachment. The framers did not intend us to be stuck with a situation where the president can freely undermine an investigation by lying to the public and asking witnesses to repeat the fairy tales he has made up. Mueller clearly said that in a normal situation Mr. Trump’s conduct would be criminal. In the present circumstances, it is impeachable.

You can follow Scott Turow on Twitter: @ScottTurow. You can read Scott’s previous Daily Pnut guest post where he dissected the Michael Cohen trial here.



“Who are we but the stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, and believe?” – Scott Turow



We’re Going Down, We’re Yelling Timber: Millions of hectares of deforestation occurred in 2018 – the main culprits: beef, chocolate, and palm oil. Despite 2018’s losses being lower than years prior, last year’s losses were the next highest since 2002 (when records started). Losses were extraordinarily high in Brazil, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Indonesia where clearcutting via loggers and cattle ranchers dominated the lands and drove into lands untouched. Ghana and Ivory Coast recorded the biggest percentage rises in rainforest destruction, driven by gold mining and cocoa farming.

The world’s forests have been described as being in an “emergency room” where band-aid responses just aren’t cutting it anymore. A hectare lost is a hectare lost forever, and each hectare lost is one step closer to devastating, irreversible climate change. There are quite a few government and corporate efforts to combat climate change, but they’ve proven to not be enough. Forests store huge amounts of carbon and are filled to the brim with wildlife, meaning that if we wish to avoid a sixth mass extinction and stop runaway climate change, then their protection is critical.

To put things in perspective, two Connecticuts-full (enough trees to cover all of Belgium) was lost last year. Studies have found that once cut down, most rainforests never return to their original state, meaning that any and all changes are all but irreversible. Global deforestation is being driven primarily by agriculture, mining, infrastructure development and fires that have intensified. There must be more global mobilization and awareness of the issues presented by deforestation – as it is the final natural barrier between the world we know today and the fiery climate change and possible mass extinction to come.



Woman Begins, The Far Right, & The Far Right Rises: The early hours of July 7, 2016 saw five drunken young revelers attending a festival in Pamplona, Spain, coax a tired and tipsy young woman into the lobby of a darkened apartment building, where they repeatedly raped her. One of the men bragged about the rape on WhatsApp, and several hours later all five were arrested. What had happened in Pamplona became known as the “wolf pack” case, and over the next two years as the trial approached, and more and more details leaked out, the story remained in the headlines. In April 2018, the verdict was finally handed down; the court acquitted all five men of rape, finding them guilty of the lesser crime of “sexual abuse.” Immediately after the verdict, hundreds of thousands of women flooded plazas in dozens of Spanish cities to protest against the ruling and call for Spain’s sexual assault laws to be rewritten. But the trial wasn’t just a transformative moment for feminists – it also became a rallying point for the far right. As more and more women took to the streets, a reactionary counter-movement of aggrieved men was forming online. The far-right Vox party began pitching itself to supporters who felt threatened by the increasing prominence of what they called “radical feminism.” Last December, Vox became the first far-right party to win multiple seats in Spain’s parliament since the death of Franco. (Guardian) Additional read: “The ‘wolf pack’ case showed the world how Spanish law is mired in misogyny.” (Guardian)

Paraguay’s Super-Women Clean Up Corruption: The tiny South American country of Paraguay is no more immune from corruption than its much larger neighbors. But its particularly weak institutions and flawed justice system left it even farther behind countries that were at least trying to take on corrupt officials and companies. So after yet another powerful Paraguayan lawmaker escaped punishment for his misdeeds, a group of mostly female organizers, led by a woman criminal lawyer, launched an unconventional plan to bring some measure of accountability to the powerful. Their first target was a senator who survived impeachment even after admitting to using public funds to pay the salaries of three employees at his country estate. The group gathered outside the senator’s home to demand his resignation. They banged on pots and pans, threw raw eggs and draped toilet paper everywhere while yelling “Clean yourselves up!” Amazingly, the humiliated lawmaker resigned. Later two more allegedly corrupt senators resigned. Still later prosecutors filed criminal charges against five more officials, and opened investigations into several others. (NYT)



One Pollution, Under Smog: Thanks to anti-pollution laws like 1970’s Clean Air Act, and the use of less coal and more natural gas, air pollution in the US had been falling for decades. The Trump administration shrugs off any notion of climate change, and has been busily rolling back Obama-era environmental progress, including on air and climate pollution regulations for power plants and cars. Now, according to the American Lung Association’s latest report on air quality, progress is backsliding, and 43 million Americans live in places where they are breathing unsafe air. A vice-president for the association said: “We’re seeing in this year’s report the impacts of climate change on air quality in really stunning terms.” Western wildfires have caused havoc in California, which has six of the top 10 cities in the US with the most particle pollution on a year round basis. Particle pollution comes from wildfires as well as burning fossil fuels. Los Angeles continued to rank worst for smog, which occurs when sunlight reacts with gases from cars and power plants. Both smog and particle pollution are linked with breathing problems, lung and heart complications and early deaths. (Guardian)




The Grass Is Always Greener An Hour Away: According to research published this month in the Journal of Health Economics, living on the wrong side of a time zone’s boundary can have negative consequences on a person’s health and wallet. Here’s why. Time zones affect local sunset times. When traveling east to west, sunrise and sunset times get later. For example, Panama City, Fla. is located on the far eastern end of the Central time zone, while Pecos, Tex. is on the far western side. Last week the sun set in Panama City at 7:12 pm CT, but set at 8:25 pm CT in Pecos. The fading of natural light causes the body to release melatonin, a hormone that induces drowsiness. As a result, people on the eastern side of a time zone, where the sun sets earlier, tend to go to bed earlier than those on the western side. People who go to bed later still have to get up for work and school, so they can’t make up lost sleep time in the morning.

The research shows that individuals on the late sunset side of a time zone boundary are “more likely to be sleep deprived, more likely to sleep less than 6 hours, and less likely to sleep at least 8 hours.” Across all US time zones, people on the late side of sunset were 11 percent more likely, on average, to be overweight and 21 percent more likely to be obese. Diabetes was more prevalent, and the risk of heart attack increased by 19 percent. Breast cancer rates were slightly elevated, too. Additionally, sleeping less is known to adversely affect productivity. Researchers found that “wages tend to be 3 percent lower on the late sunset side of the time zone border, suggesting negative effects on economic productivity.” (WaPo) Additional read: You’re not getting enough sleep—and it’s killing you. (Ars Technica)

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