Taking Plastic Measures
March 4, 2022
The Good News
- Australian Scientists Plan to Resurrect the Extinct Tasmanian Tiger (CNET)
- Fuzzy pups trained to be guides for the blind (AP)
“Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” – Douglas Adams
Making Their Case
The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol subpoenaed thousands of pages of documents from former Trump attorney John Eastman. Among the trove of documents the committee seeks is a memo Eastman wrote in early January 2020 detailing how Trump could use Vice President Pence and Congress to invalidate the election results. Eastman sued committee chairman Bennie Thompson, claiming the documents and thousands of emails were shielded by attorney-client privilege. In response, the committee’s attorneys filed a 61-page legal brief Wednesday, laying out for the first time their theory of a potential criminal case against former President Trump.
The public filing disclosed limited new evidence. Instead, the committee added information from its more than 550 interviews with state officials, Justice Department officials, and top aides to Trump, among others. For example, Jason Miller, Trump’s senior campaign adviser, said in a deposition that Trump had been told soon after Election Day by a campaign data expert “in pretty blunt terms” that he was going to lose, suggesting Trump was well aware that his months of assertions about a stolen election were false. The committee’s attorneys asked the judge to privately review this additional information they say supports the crime-fraud exception to the claim of attorney-client privilege. If the court agrees that the information Eastman has was part of furthering or concealing a crime, the attorney-client privilege won’t protect it.
The filing also said the committee is prepared to go forward with public hearings in April that will address “in detail” how Trump, Eastman, and others violated federal laws in their efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Chairman Bennie Thompson said public hearings will allow the Committee to show the extent of its investigations thus far into how the former president came to interfere with the joint session of Congress through rhetoric he knew to be false or unlawful, and how that rhetoric incentivized a pro-Trump mob to invade the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress’ certification of the election of Joe Biden. The much-anticipated hearings would be a major and historical political event not seen since the Watergate hearings in the 1970s. (january6th.house.gov, Business Insider, NYT ($), History)
Nuclear And Present Danger
- A fire broke out in a training building Friday morning outside Europe’s largest nuclear power plant during intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces. The Zaporizhzhia power plant is about 550 miles southeast of Kyiv. Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: “Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP….Fire has already broke out.”
- Kuleba added that if the plant, which holds six of the country’s 15 reactors, explodes, it will be far worse than the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said there was no indication of elevated radiation levels at the plant, but early reports of the incident sent financial markets in Asia spiraling, with stocks tumbling and oil prices surging further. (NBC)
Taking Plastic Measures
- Plastic pollution is a monumental environmental crisis extending from ocean trenches to mountain tops. U.N. member states held talks for more than a week in Nairobi, Kenya, to agree on the outline of a pact to rein in earth’s ever-increasing plastic waste disaster.
- On Wednesday, the U.N. adopted a resolution to create a legally binding plastic pollution treaty, which is due to be finalized by 2024. The landmark agreement to create the world’s first-ever global plastic pollution treaty is being described as the most significant environmental deal since the 2015 Paris climate accord. Although there is overwhelming public support for a U.N. treaty on plastic pollution, it will have ripple effects on businesses and economies around the globe.
- Any treaty that puts restrictions on plastic production, use, or design would impact oil and chemicals companies that make raw plastic, as well as giant retailers that sell thousands of products in single-use packaging. It would also have a significant impact on the economies of major plastic-producing countries, including the U.S., India, China, and Japan. (CNN)
Additional World News
- Justice Department launches special unit to enforce Russia sanctions (NBC)
- Nord Stream 2 Gas Pipeline Lays Off All Employees (WSJ, $)
- Ex-Nissan executive found guilty of helping Carlos Ghosn commit financial crimes (Guardian)
- Another report alleges corruption by ex-South African leader (AP)
- UN: Droughts, less water in Europe as warming wrecks crops (AP)
- House passes resolution backing Ukraine; Three Republicans vote ‘no’ (The Hill)
Ex-Officer Brett Hankison Found Not Guilty
- Former Louisville, Kentucky police officer Brett Hankison was charged with three counts of wanton endangerment for his role in the March 2020 shooting death of Breonna Taylor, a certified emergency medical technician. Hankison and two other officers were serving a “no-knock” warrant as they searched for Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, who they allege was dealing drugs.
- He wasn’t there, but her current boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, thought someone was breaking into the apartment and fired one shot at the officers, striking one in the leg. All three officers then opened fire, killing 26-year-old Taylor. None of Hankison’s shots struck her; his charges stemmed from the errant bullets that penetrated a wall and entered a neighboring apartment occupied by a child, a man, and a pregnant woman.
- Taylor’s death sparked outrage nationwide and protests calling for the officers to be held accountable. On Thursday, after three hours of deliberation, a Louisville jury found Hankison not guilty on all the reckless endangerment counts. No one has been charged with Taylor’s death. (ABC)
The Laws Of Life
- In 2018, Kentucky’s only abortion clinic and two doctors sued various state officials to challenge the state law that effectively banned the most common method of abortion in the second trimester of pregnancy. The Democratic attorney general at the time stepped aside and the state’s Republican health secretary defended the law in court.
- Then, the Democratic AG was elected governor and a Republican was elected AG. After the newly-appointed Democratic health secretary declined to defend the law, the AG tried to step in, but an appeals court denied the request. On Thursday, the Supreme Court granted Kentucky’s AG’s request to be allowed to step in and defend the state law.
- The ruling is strictly procedural; the high court didn’t address the law’s constitutionality. But recent decisions by SCOTUS’ current conservative supermajority have most right-to-choose advocates believing the court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case guaranteeing a woman’s right to an abortion. (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- Officer in Breonna Taylor Raid Says He Mistook Police Gunfire for a Suspect’s (NYT, $)
- More Black Americans are now dying from drug overdoses than whites (NPR)
- Powerful Ex-Illinois House Speaker Is Indicted on Federal Charges (NYT, $)
- Senate passes major cybersecurity legislation to force reporting of cyberattacks and ransomware (CNN)
- “This is ridiculous:” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis asks students to take face masks off at press conference (CBS)
- Lindsey Graham says Trump calling Putin genius was ‘a mistake’ (CNN)
- In Symbolic Vote, Senate Rejects Vaccine Mandate for Health Workers (NYT, $)
The Tax Of The Matter
- The seriousness of the war Russia is waging against Ukraine is not lost on any sentient human being. The people have vowed to defend their country no matter what, and Ukraine’s National Agency for the Protection against Corruption (NAPC) is giving them a little bit extra for their efforts. According to the Ukraine arm of the Interfax news service, NAPC is assuring citizens that any Russian military equipment they seize won’t need to be declared for tax purposes.
- “Have you captured a Russian tank or armored personnel carrier and are worried about how to declare it?,” the agency reportedly said in a statement. It went on to explain that there was “no need to declare the captured Russian tanks and other equipment, because the cost of this … does not exceed 100 living wages (UAH248,100) ($8,298).”
- Further, NACP said that “combat trophies” would not be required to be declared for income tax purposes in part because they were acquired “in connection with the full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation” against the “independent and sovereign Ukrainian state.” It also noted that: “Thanks to the courage and victory of the defenders of the Ukrainian state, enemy military equipment usually comes to you already destroyed and disabled, which makes it impossible to evaluate it in accordance with the law.” And finally: “Keep calm and continue to defend the motherland!” (Guardian)
- World Taekwondo strips Russia’s Vladimir Putin of his honorary black belt (NPR)
- US delays ICBM test-launch in bid to de-escalate Russia nuclear tensions (Reuters)
- NASCAR owner Richard Childress to help Ukraine by donating ammunition (USA Today)
- How Rivian sparked a surprising new divide in Georgia’s gov race (AJC)
- Space junk on a 5,800-mph collision course with moon on Friday (LAT, $)
- Astronomers: “Vampire” star stripped the atmosphere from its binary partner (Ars Technica)
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