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FORTUNE Magazine Questions GOP Fast and Furious Narrative
I was going to flip a coin to decide whether or not to write about the Supreme Court RATS – an acronym a progressive blogger from Daily Kos invented for the veritable barbershop quartet Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia have become since the four of them are almost always singing in harmony – until I read this account of Fast and Furious by FORTUNE magazine writer Katherine Eban, who reviewed over 2000 documents and interviewed 39 people involved in the botched ATF operation.
Ordinarily, I would see this as another one of those tit-for-tat efforts that was meant to take the sting out of the assertions of Justice Department malfeasance. Since the House Oversight Committee and Congressional Republicans have all but convicted Holder and the Obama Administration of wrongdoing, even though they, by their own admission, have not seen all of the evidence, many on the left have been trying desperately to bring some sense of proportion to the charges being leveled against the attorney general and the president.
Quite simply, there's a fundamental misconception at the heart of the Fast and Furious scandal. Nobody disputes that suspected straw purchasers under surveillance by the ATF repeatedly bought guns that eventually fell into criminal hands. Issa and others charge that the ATF intentionally allowed guns to walk as an operational tactic. But five law-enforcement agents directly involved in Fast and Furious tell Fortune that the ATF had no such tactic. They insist they never purposefully allowed guns to be illegally trafficked. Just the opposite: They say they seized weapons whenever they could but were hamstrung by prosecutors and weak laws, which stymied them at every turn.
Indeed, a six-month Fortune investigation reveals that the public case alleging that Voth and his colleagues walked guns is replete with distortions, errors, partial truths, and even some outright lies. Fortune reviewed more than 2,000 pages of confidential ATF documents and interviewed 39 people, including seven law-enforcement agents with direct knowledge of the case. Several, including Voth, are speaking out for the first time.
But House Oversight Committee chairman Darrel Issa’s reluctant admission on national television last Sunday that there was no evidence that the White House had any involvement in Fast and Furious operation was the kind of eye-opener confirming my suspicions that this was a classic case of Republican overreach. This makes the vote to find Holder in contempt of Congress the more interesting of today’s two main political events, mostly because no one knows where this is going to lead. By contrast, the possible outcomes of the Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Healthcare Act have been game planned by both political parties and an army of insurance industry lobbyists practically from the law’s inception.
The reason why the rest of us have to suffer through this has practically nothing to do with the death of ATF Agent Brian Terry. You would think, given the number of times Republicans have invoked his name in the last few months that Agent Terry would warrant a legislative effort to memorialize his death in the way that the Brady Bill came to be after Reagan press secretary James Brady was shot in the head. Or at the very least, you might expect the House GOP to pass some new laws that would give harsh sentences to those who are caught trafficking guns. But you can bet that any practical, mundane, common sense types of actions that might help our law enforcement do their jobs better will not be proposed during the remainder of this term of Congress.
The Republican Party knows the same thing comic book publishers know – that you can’t have a superhero without supervillians. And Eric Holder has become the latest in a long line of high profile Democrats who have been chosen by Republicans to be the evil genius of the year they are dedicated to eradicating.
Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?
Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.