A Look at America’s Most Corrupt Police

“The book, by the reporters Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg, pieces together the story of the 2017 Gun Trace Task Force (GTTF) scandal, in which a federal investigation has so far led to the conviction of a dozen Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officers on charges of robbery, extortion, racketeering, filing false reports, and lying to federal grand juries.

At the center of the story is Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, the head of the GTTF. Jenkins was a hard-charging cop with a fat misconduct file and a talent for turning up illegal guns and drugs. His crew was filled with other bad apples, including one whose habit of excessive force and petty thievery was so well-known that he’s been name-dropped in local rap songs. In addition to committing massive overtime fraud, members of the GTTF padded their incomes by skimming seized cash and targeting drug dealers for robberies. As the book recounts in scenes recreated through court records, wiretap recordings, and interviews, the task force fabricated evidence, lied on search warrant affidavits, entered houses without warrants, and used GPS trackers to conduct illegal surveillance.”

“Woods and Soderberg show the bureaucratic and political incentives that allowed dirty cops to flourish within the Baltimore Police Department. Those incentives exist in many other cities, and it would be a mistake to take it on trust that departments elsewhere are immune to the temptations that let the Gun Trace Task Force fester.”

Swing-state Pennsylvanians are divided on fracking. Here’s why.

“the fracking industry is struggling. An oversupply of gas has left producers in debt and jobs have declined. Fracking has also caused health and environmental damage in several states across the country, and is likely a major source of emissions of methane, an exceptionally potent greenhouse gas.”

The US just brokered another peace deal for Israel, this time with Sudan

“At its core, then, the deal looks like a trade where the US and Israel give Sudan financial support in exchange for diplomatic normalization.”

“a joint US-Israeli delegation traveled to Sudan for talks with the government. Two days later, Trump removed the Arab-led North African nation from America’s state sponsors of terrorism list. It’s a move he promised to make once the country paid $335 million to American victims of terror for the country’s harboring of Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.

The UAE also played a role in the negotiations, as Sudan asked the country — and the US — for billions in economic aid as part of signing this deal. That makes sense, as the country is desperately in need of cash. Whether the US and UAE start funneling money into Sudan remains to be seen.

A political earthquake in Sudan also made the announcement possible. A protest movement kicked Sudan’s Islamist leaders out of power last year, ushering in a new military-led government that wants to end its global pariah status. Making amends with the US and saying it is no longer hostile to Israel is one way to do just that.”

“more broadly, regional politics in the greater Middle East have changed dramatically in recent years.

Whereas the Israeli-Palestinian conflict once served as a major axis around which Middle East and Arab-government politics rotated, with many countries aligned with the Palestinians against Israel, that’s now changed. What animates the foreign policies of many Middle Eastern countries these days is the Arab-Israel standoff with Iran — which some have dubbed a “cold war.”

With less need to bash Israel and back Palestine, Sudan had more freedom to strike the deal.”

Trump blocks Biden’s incoming staff in unprecedented ways

“For the first time in more than half a century, an outgoing administration is stonewalling an incoming one at every level — with no intention of relenting.”

“There are no briefings being given about coronavirus, troop drawdowns in Afghanistan and Iraq, or aggression by China and Iran. No background checks being done for job applicants. No security clearances being conducted for potential Biden staffers.
The silence could continue into December, when states must certify their results to Congress, according to several Republicans familiar with the expected plans. Until then, they said, Trump and his team will continue to assert the election was fraudulently stolen from them, using unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud to file lawsuits and recounts challenging the results.

It’s a situation without parallel since at least 1963, when a federal law implemented modern presidential transition procedures, mandating the sharing of office space and the spending of money for the process.

The posture threatens to leave Biden’s team unprepared in January when it takes over a millions-strong federal workforce, according to officials who worked for Republican and Democratic presidents and lawmakers of both parties. And, they added, it sends a message to the world that the United States, generally a model across the globe, is vulnerable and unable to administer a seamless transition of power.”

New Pentagon chief racing to make changes before Trump’s exit

“While the role of special operations forces has grown in size and scope since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the importance of the Pentagon civilian overseeing them has diminished, experts say.

This meant that military commanders, especially the head of Special Operations Command, end up making critical decisions that should be made by civilian leaders, argued retired Army Col. Mark Mitchell, who served as acting head of SO/LIC in the Trump administration, in a May op-ed.

“The net result is an inverted relationship that runs counter to the concept of civilian oversight,” Mitchell wrote.

Many in the special operations community, including Mitchell, have long argued that the civilian position should be elevated to the undersecretary level. Miller himself advocated for this change during his Wednesday remarks.

“I personally think SO/LIC deserves to be an undersecretary of defense, but unfortunately that’s beyond my authority and purview at that time,” said Miller, who briefly served as the deputy in charge of special operations and combating terrorism this year. “I know future generations will take that on.”

The change announced Wednesday reflects the fact that special operations have greatly increased in significance to America’s national security since 9/11, said retired Col. Stu Bradin, president and CEO of the Global SOF Foundation. As the Pentagon shifts its focus from counterterrorism to competition with Russia and China, special forces will have an even more important role to play, he said.

“The shift in focus to great power competition does not mean that SOF will be or should be relegated to the back burner. On the contrary, our enemies are not looking to fight us on the conventional battlefield,” Bradin said. “We must recognize the importance of irregular warfare in this next set of threats. And, in our opinion, the civilian oversight of special operations should be increased and elevated accordingly.”

Transition delay leads to awkward gap between Biden and Harris in intel access

“Biden..will not be allowed access to classified information or any members of the intelligence community until the General Services Administration officially “ascertains” him as the president-elect — a formality that has traditionally taken place within 24 hours of election day but is being held up by Trump as he continues to challenge the election results.

Biden was given classified briefings as a candidate but those stopped once he became president-elect, and his status as a former vice president and former senator does not afford him access now.”

Trump’s Crazy and Confoundingly Successful Conspiracy Theory

“Trump is not making a narrow, surgical, legally feasible case to enhance his chances to still be living in the White House come January 21. (That’s … improbable.) He’s not doing this, either, to win the argument. (It’s almost mathematically impossible.) He’s doing it, say political strategists, longtime Trump watchers and experts on authoritarian tactics, to sow doubt, save face and strengthen even in defeat his lifeblood of a bond with his political base.

And it’s … working. Seven in 10 Republicans, according to a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll earlier this week, believe the election was stolen from their candidate.

It is overall for Trump both a culmination and a continuation: a grand finale of sorts of the past five-plus years, in which he’s relied so much on so much unreality—and also a runway, a kind of topspin toward what’s to come once he leaves Washington, D.C., and presumably decamps to Mar-a-Lago to initiate a post-presidency that is all but assured to be unlike any other. The stakes are sky-high, and the collateral damage to America’s democracy could be lasting and profound, but Trump is doing what Trump has always done. He’s spinning a myth to serve his own interest. He’s doing what he believes he needs to do to put at least himself in the best possible position for the future after yet another failure.”

Geothermal energy is poised for a big breakout

“The main problem facing renewable energy is that the biggest sources, wind and solar, are variable. Whereas fossil fuel power plants that run on coal and gas are “dispatchable” — they can be turned on and off on demand — wind and solar come and go with, well, the wind and sun.

Building an electricity system around wind and solar thus means filling in the gaps, finding sources, technologies, and practices that can jump in when wind and solar fall short (say, at night). And the electricity system needs to be extremely secure and robust, because decarbonizing means electrifying everything, moving transportation and heat over to electricity, which will substantially raise total electricity demand.

The big disputes in the clean energy world thus tend to be about how far wind, solar, and batteries can get on their own — 50 percent of total power demand? 80 percent? 100?) and what sources should be used to supplement them. (See this much-cited 2018 paper in the journal Joule on the need for “firm, low-carbon resources.”)

The answer currently favored by renewable energy advocates is more energy storage, but at least for now, storage remains far too expensive and limited to do the full job. The other top possibilities for “firming” electricity supply — nuclear power or fossil power with carbon capture and sequestration — have their own issues and passionate constituencies for and against.

Geothermal power, if it can be made to reliably and economically work in hotter, drier, and deeper rock, is a perfect complement to wind and solar. It is renewable and inexhaustible. It can run as baseload power around the clock, including at night, or “load follow” to complement renewables’ fluctuations. It is available almost everywhere in the world, a reliable source of domestic energy and jobs that, because it is largely underground, is resilient to most weather (and human) disasters. It can operate without pollution or greenhouse gases. The same source that makes the electricity can also be used to fuel district heating systems that decarbonize the building sector.

It checks all the boxes.”

“Tapping into it, though, turns out to be pretty tricky.”

Trump exploited a broken press. Here’s how to fix it.

“Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was confronted by a CBS reporter as he stepped off a plane. “What is your response to the New York Post story about your son, sir?”

To his credit, Biden dismissed the question, but that’s not really the point. The story the reporter was referencing, which was peddled to the Post by Rudy Giuliani, is absolute bullshit. The staff journalist who wrote the story even reportedly refused to put his name on the byline out of concerns that it was bogus and unreliable.”

“the goal of people like Giuliani was to get the press to cover a story not in order to convince people that it’s true, but to amplify a false narrative and divert attention — and maybe drive the public to exhaustion. It’s a strategy that Steve Bannon colorfully dubbed “flooding the zone with shit.””

US intelligence officials say Iran and Russia obtained voter registration information to interfere in election

“Iran and Russia are using voter registration data to interfere in the US elections, top national security officials announced during a surprise press conference Wednesday night.

Iran is behind the spoof emails to some voters, and is spreading disinformation online about sending fraudulent ballots from overseas, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Wednesday. Russia has also gotten access to voter registration data, just as it did in 2016, he said.

Both Ratcliffe and FBI Director Christopher Wray said no votes have been compromised. “Today, that [election] infrastructure remains resilient,” Wray said Wednesday. “You should be confident that your vote counts.”

National security officials didn’t really offer many other details in their abrupt announcement. The spoof emails appear to be those sent to some voters in Alaska and Florida, which claimed to be sent from the Proud Boys, a far-right organization. The emails reportedly targeted Democratic voters, claiming they had access to voting infrastructure and threatening them if they did not vote for Trump.

The Washington Post reported before the press conference that the US government had concluded Iran was behind the emails.”