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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.

The truth about the Fast and Furious scandal

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.

Is the universe a graveyard? This theory suggests humanity may be alone.

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?

According to the Great Filter theory, Earth might be one of the only planets with intelligent life. And that's a good thing (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team [STScI/AURA]).
Surprising Science

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.

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Study details the negative environmental impact of online shopping

Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.

A truck pulls out of a large Walmart regional distribution center on June 6, 2019 in Washington, Utah.

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
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  • A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
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  • Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
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Childhood sleeping problems may signal mental disorders later in life

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.

A girl and her mother take an afternoon nap in bed.

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  • We spend 40 percent of our childhoods asleep, a time for cognitive growth and development.
  • A recent study found an association between irregular sleep patterns in childhood and either psychotic experiences or borderline personality disorder during teenage years.
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