California Plans to Fight Climate Change With Forestry – Bloomberg Businessweek

“Forests give us shade, quiet and one of the harder challenges in the fight against climate change. Even as we humans count on forests to soak up a good share of the carbon dioxide we produce, we are threatening their ability to do so. The climate change we are hastening could one day leave us with forests that emit more carbon than they absorb.

 Thankfully, there is a way out of this trap — but it involves striking a subtle balance. Helping forests flourish as valuable “carbon sinks” long into the future may require reducing their capacity to sequester carbon now. California is leading the way, as it does on so many climate efforts, in figuring out the details.
 The state’s proposed Forest Carbon Plan aims to double efforts to thin out young trees and clear brush in parts of the forest, including by controlled burning. This temporarily lowers carbon-carrying capacity. But the remaining trees draw a greater share of the available moisture, so they grow and thrive, restoring the forest’s capacity to pull carbon from the air. Healthy trees are also better able to fend off bark beetles. The landscape is rendered less combustible. Even in the event of a fire, fewer trees are consumed.
 The need for such planning is increasingly urgent. Already, since 2010, drought and beetles have killed more than 100 million trees in California, most of them in 2016 alone, and wildfires have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres.”

Source: California Plans to Fight Climate Change With Forestry – Bloomberg

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The Best Way to Spur Growth? Help the Poor- Not the Rich – by Peter Coy – Bloomberg Businessweek

“Trickle-down economics” is a term liberals use when they want to disparage tax cuts for the rich. So on Nov. 9, when Fox News anchor Maria Bartiromo asked Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin at an Economic Club of New York luncheon, “Do you still believe in trickle-down economics?” the prudent answer was obvious: “Of course not, Maria. That’s not what the Republican tax plan is about at all.”

Instead, Mnuchin said, “Uh, uh, I do.”

To be sure, Mnuchin is gaffe-prone. He was last spotted on Nov. 15 happily gripping a big sheet of uncut dollar bills while his wife, actress Louise Linton, struck a Cruella de Vil pose beside him. As the journalist Michael Kinsley once said, a gaffe is when a politician tells the truth. And the truth is that Republicans have gone all in on the notion that if they pour tax cuts onto the very rich, the benefits will flow down to the mere rich, and from them to the middle class, and finally to the poor. Like a Champagne tower at a swanky wedding reception.

There’s a reason trickle-down is suddenly trickling from everyone’s lips. The Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center calculates that the Senate’s version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would give the biggest benefits to people just below the top 1 percent of incomes in 2019 and 2025, measuring benefits as the percentage change in each group’s after-tax income. By 2027, as some of the law’s provisions expire and others remain, the top 0.1 percent would be the biggest beneficiaries, the center says. (To be fair, this preliminary calculation doesn’t take into account potential economic growth effects from the tax changes.)”

Source: The Best Way to Spur Growth? Help the Poor, Not the Rich – Bloomberg

David Lindsay:

I love Paul Krugman, because he can make complicated economics understandable. Peter Coy has that ability, and here he does a fine job of deciphering one of the right wing’s great canards.

Opinion | The N.F.L. Kneels to Trump – The New York Times

“The owners of the National Football League have concluded, with President Trump, that true patriotism is not about bravely standing up for democratic principle but about standing up, period.

Rather than show a little backbone themselves and support the right of athletes to protest peacefully, the league capitulated to a president who relishes demonizing black athletes. The owners voted Wednesday to fine teams whose players do not stand for the national anthem while they are on the field.

Let us hope that in keeping with the league’s pinched view of patriotism, the players choose to honor the letter but not the spirit of this insulting ban. It might be amusing, for example, to see the owners tied in knots by players who choose to abide by the injunction to “stand and show respect” — while holding black-gloved fists in the air. Or who choose to stand — while holding signs protesting policy brutality. We look forward to many more meetings of fatootsed gazillionaires conducting many more votes on petty rules to ban creative new forms of player protest.”

David Lindsay Jr.

Great editorial, and comments afterwards!
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Issassi wrote:”Colin Kaepernick is someone I really look up to; I don’t have his kind of courage. As for the NFL owners, they have shown their lack of spine today, and their abject failure to support free speech in America. Last, I applaud the Jets and their co-owner Chris Johnson, who is firmly on the right side of history.” What is this about. I found: “Johnson first endeared himself to his players in September, after Trump made protests against racial injustice the talk of the NFL. Prior to New York’s Sept. 24 game against the Dolphins, Johnson met individually with every Jet and asked if he could stand alongside them during the national anthem. Their blessing given, he’s been doing it ever since. On Tuesday, Johnson said linking arms with his players has been “the honor of my life.”’ I hope Chris Johnson offers Colin Kaepernick a job playing football. David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

How to Pack and Prepare Your Smartphone for Traveling This Summer – By Brian X. Chen – NYT

By Brian X. Chen

 

“Many travelers are familiar with this scenario: You are finally going on that well-earned vacation. You decide to take your smartphone on the journey. But you run into a host of tech snags after you arrive at your destination.

You might quickly burn through your cellular data limit, for instance. Or maybe you can’t log in to some apps that send you text messages to confirm your identity. Your maps may not load. And your battery runs out of juice just when you need the smartphone most.

These headaches may spoil what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation. They may even make you wish you had left your phone at home. But your smartphone is your most vital travel tool: You rely on it for navigating unfamiliar places, finding places to eat and things to do, and taking photos.

Fret not, traveler. To help you plan a smooth summer vacation, here’s an overview of the tech you should pack to use a smartphone abroad, and more important, what you need to do with your phone before you depart. (Much of this advice can also be applied to domestic travel as well. If you want to be thorough, click here for a checklist you can print out.)”

David Lindsay:  The comments are as or more valuable than the article, as is so often the case.

Opinion | The Democrats’ Midterm Dilemma – by Ross Douthat – NYT

“One of the few people to really see Donald Trump coming was the University of Chicago economist Luigi Zingales, who warned way back in 2011 that American politics was going the way of his native Italy, that we could easily produce our own version of Silvio Berlusconi, and that Trump was an obvious candidate to bottle the celebrity-populist-outsider cocktail.

So Zingales’s advice to Democrats after their 2016 defeat carried more weight than the average act of punditry. On the evidence of Berlusconi’s many victories and rare defeats, he argued, the best way to beat Trump was to do exactly what many liberals understandably didn’t want to do — to essentially normalize him, to treat him “as an ordinary opponent” rather than an existential threat, to focus on issues rather than character debates, to deny him both the public carnival and the tone of outraged hysteria in which his brand of politics tends to thrive.”

I haven’t forgiven Ross yet for his creepy column supporting right to life laws in Ireland, that have caused great pain and suffering to the poor and middle classes of Ireland. See Maureen Dowd’s report that same Sunday.

But his basic warning here is sound and important. “So Zingales’s advice to Democrats after their 2016 defeat carried more weight than the average act of punditry. On the evidence of Berlusconi’s many victories and rare defeats, he argued, the best way to beat Trump was to do exactly what many liberals understandably didn’t want to do — to essentially normalize him, to treat him “as an ordinary opponent” rather than an existential threat, to focus on issues rather than character debates, to deny him both the public carnival and the tone of outraged hysteria in which his brand of politics tends to thrive.” “

A Sweeping Plan to Fix the Subways Comes With a $19 Billion Price Tag – The New York Times

By Emma G. Fitzsimmons
May 22, 2018
124 “A sweeping proposal to overhaul New York City’s subway and improve the broader transit system is expected to cost more than $19 billion, according to two people who were briefed on Tuesday, and goes far beyond the emergency repair plan that was unveiled last summer after the subway fell into crisis.The proposal by the subway’s new leader, Andy Byford, will be announced on Wednesday in a highly anticipated presentation before the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board.

Mr. Byford has warned that the subway needs major upgrades to reverse its precipitous slide and the work will require short-term pain for millions of subway riders. His plan will focus on speeding up the rollout of a new signal system to replace the subway’s current antiquated equipment, according to the two people who were briefed on the plan on Tuesday and did not want to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.”

Stacey Abrams Makes History With Georgia Win | The Last Word | MSNBC – YouTube

Making history, or making a mistake? I don’t know this candidate yet, and thought the other woman might be more moderate, and therefore more likely to succeed in Georgia.
In this victory speech, she is well spoken, articulate and confident.

Congress Approves First Big Dodd-Frank Rollback – The New York Times

By Alan Rappeport and Emily Flitter May 22, 2018
“WASHINGTON — A decade after the global financial crisis tipped the United States into a recession, Congress agreed on Tuesday to free thousands of small and medium-sized banks from strict rules that had been enacted as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law to prevent another meltdown.In a rare demonstration of bipartisanship, the House voted 258-159 to approve a regulatory rollback that passed the Senate this year, handing a significant victory to President Trump, who has promised to “do a big number on Dodd-Frank.”

The bill stops far short of unwinding the toughened regulatory regime put in place to prevent the nation’s biggest banks from engaging in risky behavior, but it represents a substantial watering down of Obama-era rules governing a large swath of the banking system. The legislation will leave fewer than 10 big banks in the United States subject to stricter federal oversight, freeing thousands of banks with less than $250 billion in assets from a post-crisis crackdown that they have long complained is too onerous.”

Opinion | Neal Katyal: Can’t Indict a President? That Could Hurt Trump – The New York Times

“Everything having to do with President Trump and Russia, whether it is Mr. Trump’s demand for an investigation into the investigation by the special counsel Robert Mueller, or whether Mr. Trump will testify, requires an answer to one essential background question: Can Mr. Mueller seek to indict the president?

Last week, the president’s new lawyer, Rudolph Giuliani, claimed Mr. Mueller had concluded the answer was no. And Mr. Giuliani went even further, asserting the president has so much constitutional immunity that he could not even be subpoenaed to testify about what he knows and did. Such statements are dangerously incomplete and tremendously misleading. And the ultimate loser here is not just the American people, but also perhaps Mr. Trump himself.

Begin with the basics. An indictment — a formal accusation that someone has committed a crime — can be brought only by a prosecutor working either in the federal or state system. Mr. Mueller is one such prosecutor. But even if Mr. Mueller has the goods on Mr. Trump, two barriers remain before he may indict him. First, some constitutional scholars believe a sitting president cannot be indicted. And second, two Department of Justice opinions, dating back to the Nixon and Clinton administrations, side with this view. From that vantage point, it looks as if Mr. Giuliani’s report about what Mr. Mueller said appears plausible.

But there are deep problems here. For one thing, the scholars who believe that a sitting president cannot be indicted always couple that belief with the insistence that the remedy for a president who commits a crime is to impeach him first (so he is no longer “sitting” and could then be indicted). Otherwise, a president would be above the law; he could, say, shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and face no legal process whatsoever. For that reason, the “can’t indict a sitting president” view is necessarily dependent on Congress having all of the information necessary to conduct thorough impeachment proceedings.”

DL: You should read the whole thing, but the main part is what follows, the 2nd half of the essay:

“The mishmash of bad constitutional arguments being floated by Mr. Trump has to cause Mr. Mueller concern. And that is why Mr. Giuliani’s story that Mr. Mueller’s team told him that Mr. Trump cannot be indicted seems at best incomplete. It is true that the special counsel regulations (which I drafted in 1999 for the Justice Department) generally require the special counsel to obey Justice Department policy. And it is also true that Justice Department policy is that a sitting president cannot be indicted. But the regulations contemplate that a special counsel could, in appropriate circumstances, depart from Justice Department policy.

The regulations had to be written that way. Those of us who created them could not foresee all the possible permutations of law and facts that would unfold in the years to come. If congressional leadership, for example, was in criminal cahoots with the president, no one would want the special counsel to be powerless to indict or to report information to the full Congress for impeachment.

Accordingly, the regulations permitted the special counsel to seek a departure from Justice Department policy, by going to the acting attorney general (in this case, Rod Rosenstein) and requesting it. The idea was that if responsibility for decision-making was vested in Justice Department leadership, decisions to protect the rule of law were more likely to be made. And as a safeguard against wrongdoing by Justice Department leadership, the regulations require transparency in the process: If the acting attorney general refuses a special counsel request, he must notify the majority and minority parties in Congress.

In this way, the regulations put a thumb on the scale in favor of having Mr. Mueller seek an indictment if he finds evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Mr. Trump. Unlike the Independent Counsel Act, a predecessor to the special counsel regulations that required the prosecutor to write a detailed final report to Congress, the regulations require only a substantive report when the acting attorney general overrules the special counsel. The acting attorney general is free to write one otherwise, but the only way Mr. Mueller can ensure such a report is written is to make a request that is overruled.

All of this explains why Mr. Giuliani’s story that Mr. Mueller has concluded he cannot indict a sitting president seems implausible and incomplete. It is far more likely that Mr. Mueller has concluded that Justice Department policy currently forbids such a step, but that he has a path forward toward seeking indictment if he believes it warranted. And Mr. Trump, whose Justice Department has, with his blessing, repeatedly overruled longstanding Justice Department positions at an unheard-of rate, is in no position to complain if Mr. Rosenstein overrules these two old opinions. Of course, if Mr. Rosenstein refuses to overrule them, he would still be creating a record that Congress may use as it considers impeachment.

Thus the various pieces of the constitutional and regulatory scheme work together: If indictment is off the table, then impeachment must be on it; and (perhaps in a future setting) if impeachment is off the table because of nefarious congressional activity, then indictment must be on it. That is the genius of our system, and the only way to ensure we remain a government of laws which no one is above.”

Neal K. Katyal (@neal_katyal), an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, is a law professor at Georgetown and a partner at Hogan Lovells.

Dovey Johnson Roundtree- Barrier-Breaking Lawyer- Dies at 104 – By Margalit Fox – NYT

By Margalit Fox,   May 21, 2018

“The jurors were looking at her when they filed into court. That, Dovey Johnson Roundtree knew, could have immense significance for her client, a feebleminded day laborer accused of one of the most sensational murders of the mid-20th century.

Little had augured well for that client, Raymond Crump Jr., during his eight-day trial in United States District Court in Washington: Mr. Crump, who had been found near the crime scene, was black and poor. The victim was white, glamorous and supremely well connected. The country, in the summer of 1965, seethed with racial tension amid the surging civil rights movement.

Federal prosecutors had amassed a welter of circumstantial evidence — including 27 witnesses and more than 50 exhibits — to argue that on Oct. 12, 1964, Mr. Crump had carried out the execution-style shooting of Mary Pinchot Meyer, a Washington socialite said to have been a former lover of President John F. Kennedy.

By contrast, Ms. Roundtree, who died on Monday at 104, had chosen to present just three witnesses and a single exhibit to the jury, which comprised men and women, blacks and whites. Her closing argument was only 20 minutes long.”

David Lindsay:

Amazing story, about possibly one of  the most extraordinary Americans I’ve never heard of.  Margalit Fox has written a fine report, which includes:

““As a woman, and as a woman of color in an age when black lawyers had to leave the courthouse to use the bathrooms, she dared to practice before the bar of justice and was unflinching,” Katie McCabe, the co-author of Ms. Roundtree’s memoir, “Justice Older Than the Law,” said in an interview for this obituary in 2016. “She was a one-woman Legal Aid Society before people used that term.”

So there is a biography already, I hope there will be a movie.