Monday, October 8, 2018

Last Call For Paying The Piper

Alaska Republicans are furious with Lisa Murkowski's failure to vote yes on confirming Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and now she will be made to pay the price.

Alaska Republican party leaders plan to consider whether to reprimand U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski for opposing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

The party has asked Murkowski to provide any information she might want its state central committee to consider.

Party Chairman Tuckerman Babcock says the committee could decide to issue a statement. Or he says it could withdraw support of Murkowski, encourage party officials to look for a replacement and ask that she not seek re-election as a Republican.

He says the party took that more extreme step previously with state legislators who caucused with Democrats.

He says all this follows outrage from Alaska Republicans.

Murkowski told reporters that if she worried about political repercussions she wouldn’t be able to do the job Alaskans expect her to do.

Meanwhile, on the Dem side, West Virginia's Joe Manchin is in his own mess of his own making as both parties are taking their shots.

Danielle Walker cried on Joe Manchin's shoulder after she shared her story of sexual assault in the senator's office. She thought he listened. The 42-year-old Morgantown woman said she was both devastated and furious when Manchin became the only Democrat in the U.S. Senate to support President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

"I feel raped all over again," Walker told The Associated Press.

A day after Manchin broke with his party on what may be the most consequential vote of the Trump era, the vulnerable Democrat is facing a political firestorm back home. While Republicans — including one of the president's sons — are on the attack, the most passionate criticism is coming from Manchin's very own Democratic base, a small but significant portion of the electorate he needs to turn out in force to win re-election next month. A Manchin loss would put his party's hopes of regaining control of the Senate virtually out of reach.

Walker, a first-time Democratic candidate for the state legislature, said she may not vote at all in the state's high-stakes Senate election. Julia Hamilton, a 30-year-old educator who serves on the executive committee of the Monongalia County Democratic Party, vowed to sit out the Senate race as well.

"At some point you have to draw a line," Hamilton said. "I have heard from many, many people — especially women. They won't be voting for Manchin either."

Here's the difference: at the end of all this, Lisa Murkowski will still be in the Senate.  It's increasingly clear that Joe Manchin and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, who bravely voted no on Kavanaugh, will most likely not be.

Now tell me, who comes out ahead in January if the lesson is Red State Dems are screwed no matter what they vote for in the Senate?

Hint: it won't be the Dems. 

Deportation Nation, Con't

The first major case that will include Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice may very well be Nielsen v. Preap, a class-action suit against Homeland Security to determine if the Trump regime can simply deny bond hearings to those who ICE have detained for deportation because of crimes they committed years, and sometimes decades ago.

Nielsen is a class action brought by a group of immigrants in the Ninth Circuit who have been or are being detained under 8 U.S.C. § 1226, a provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. That section authorizes federal authorities to detain any alien who may be subject to “removal”—the technical term for deportation. That term covers a lot of immigrants—border-crossers arrested after entering the U.S. illegally, tourists or students who have overstayed their visas, and lawful permanent residents who have committed certain crimes.

The statute creates two classes of “removable” aliens—first, ordinary detainees who haven’t committed crimes but are facing removal on other grounds and, second, “criminal aliens” facing removal because of criminal convictions.

Once ordinary aliens are detained for removal, they face three different legal tests: First will be a “bond hearing,” at which they can try to convince an immigration judge that they can be safely released, and will show up for their deportation hearing. They can put on evidence of their community, and family members can attend to give their support. If they get bond, they can go back to their lives until their next hearing. Next, whether they get bond or not, they receive a “removal hearing” at which they can try to show that they are not “removable” after all. If they win there, they are free to go. But even if they fail in that effort, they can still to try to show that they are eligible for what is called “cancellation of removal”—for example, because they have been lawfully present in the U.S. for years and have family ties here, or because deportation would subject them to danger in their country of origin. If the immigrant can prove that claim, immigration authorities have the discretion to allow him or her to remain and “adjust” to legal status.

But go back to the beginning—the bond hearing. Some “criminal aliens” have been convicted of certain specified statutory crimes (such as drug or firearms offenses, sex offenses, terrorism or espionage, or crimes of “moral turpitude”). For this “criminal alien” group, the statute says that “when the alien is released” from imprisonment, the government “shall take [him or her] into custody.” These immigrants get no bond hearing; they must be held in detention until their cases are resolved. They can still challenge removal; they can still ask for cancellation; but they must remain behind bars for the months or even years those proceedings can take.

This is the issue in Nielsen v. Preap: It is not whether authorities can detain these aliens—they can. But does the statute really deny bond hearings to all of them—longtime residents of the U.S. who were convicted of minor offenses 5, 10, 15 or more years ago? What if a person has long ago been released and has returned to a community, established a family and put down roots, and lived a blameless life since that brush with the law? In other words, what if the immigrant would otherwise be a prime candidate for bond?

These aliens can be detained and deported. There is no question that ICE agents can show up at their homes, arrest them, and hold them for removal proceedings. But does the “when” language mean they don’t get a bond hearing? If a non-citizen has left prison and established a new life, did Congress in writing the statute really mean to deny that person the chance to show an immigration court that he or she will show up for a removal hearing, the way other “noncriminal” aliens can?

And that’s where the meaning of the word “when” comes in.

This is a class action case on behalf of immigrants, many of whom served or are serving sentences, or even probation, for minor offenses. One of the lead plaintiffs, Mony Preap, was born to Cambodian parents in a refugee camp; he has lived lawfully in the U.S. since 1981. In 2006, he was convicted on two misdemeanor counts of possessing marijuana—an offense that would have subjected him to mandatory detention. However, immigration authorities did not arrest him then. Instead, he returned to his community and was convicted of battery—which does not trigger the mandatory detention statute. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at that point took him to a detention center, and he was denied a bond hearing. He was eventually able to show an immigration judge that he was eligible for “cancellation,” and so he has been released.

Another plaintiff, Eduardo Vega Padilla, arrived as a toddler and has been a lawful resident for 52 years; his six grandchildren are all U.S. citizens. He was convicted of controlled-substance offenses in 1997 and 1999 and placed on probation; while he was serving that sentence, he was convicted of possessing an unloaded pistol, then released in 2002. In 2013, ice agents arrested him at his home. Because of the drug offense, ice denied him a bond hearing until a district court ordered them to provide one—at which point he won release.

Representing all immigrants arrested under similar circumstances, the plaintiffs argue that, if ICE wants to detain an immigrant without hope of bail, it must detain him or her at the moment of release; any other reading of the “when” in the statute, they say, allows authorities to wait years, and then detain immigrants long after they have successfully returned to their lives. Congress cannot have intended that.
That reading is something like “when” in this sentence: “When you have completed the quiz, turn in your paper and pencil and exit quietly.” The government’s reading might seem more like this chestnut: “You’ll understand when you’re older.”

Effectively, the Trump regime wants the power of indefinite detainment for deportable aliens, even the ones who have been in the country for decades, living peaceful lives.  It's a necessary step to mass roundups of undocumented immigrants that are surely coming just as soon as SCOTUS gives the green light.

Brett Kavanaugh will get to hear such a case next week where he would most certainly be the fifth vote to allow ICE such broad powers.

No rest for the wicked, it seems.

Gaia, You Look Like Death Warmed Over

Catastrophic events from climate change are not a "by 2100" thing that only Generation Z's future grandkids will have to deal with, it's so bad now that it's a "by 2040" thing that my generation will have to deal with.

The world stands on the brink of failure when it comes to holding global warming to moderate levels, and nations will need to take “unprecedented” actions to cut their carbon emissions over the next decade, according to a landmark report by the top scientific body studying climate change.

With global emissions showing few signs of slowing and the United States — the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide — rolling back a suite of Obama-era climate measures, the prospects for meeting the most ambitious goals of the 2015 Paris agreement look increasingly slim. To avoid racing past warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over preindustrial levels would require a “rapid and far-reaching” transformation of human civilization at a magnitude that has never happened before, the group found.

“There is no documented historic precedent” for the sweeping change to energy, transportation and other systems required to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wrote in a report requested as part of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

At the same time, however, the report is being received with hope in some quarters because it affirms that 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible — if emissions stopped today, for instance, the planet would not reach that temperature. It is also likely to galvanize even stronger climate action by focusing on 1.5 degrees Celsius, rather than 2 degrees, as a target that the world cannot afford to miss.

“Frankly, we’ve delivered a message to the governments,” said Jim Skea, a co-chair of the IPCC panel and professor at Imperial College London, at a press event following the document’s release. “It’s now their responsibility … to decide whether they can act on it.” He added, “What we’ve done is said what the world needs to do.”

The transformation described in the document is breathtaking, and the speed of change required raises inevitable questions about its feasibility.

I expect the Trump regime will dismiss the report as "fundamentally flawed" before the end of the day, after all they fully admit that temperatures are going to rise a whopping 4 degrees Celsius by 2100, causing mass catastrophe, and there's no way to stop it, so why bother?

The IPCC report tells us that we're going to see some of those effects within 20 years, not 80.

Specifically, the document finds that instabilities in Antarctica and Greenland, which could usher in sea-level rise measured in feet rather than inches, “could be triggered around 1.5°C to 2°C of global warming.” Moreover, the total loss of tropical coral reefs is at stake because 70 to 90 are expected to vanish at 1.5 degrees Celsius, the report finds. At 2 degrees, that number grows to more than 99 percent.

The report found that holding warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius could save an Alaska-size area of the Arctic from permafrost thaw, muting a feedback loop that could lead to still more global emissions. The occurrence of entirely ice-free summers in the Arctic Ocean goes from one per century to one per decade between 1.5 and 2 degrees, it found — one of many ways in which the mere half a degree has large real-world consequences.

Risks of extreme heat and weather events just rise and rise as temperatures do, meaning these would be worse worldwide the more it warms.

To avoid that, in barely more than 10 years, the world’s percentage of electricity from renewables such as solar and wind power would have to jump from the current 24 percent to something more like 50 or 60 percent. Coal and gas plants that remain in operation would need to be equipped with technologies, collectively called carbon capture and storage (CCS), that prevent them from emitting carbon dioxide into the air and instead funnel it to be buried underground. By 2050, most coal plants would shut down.

Cars and other forms of transportation, meanwhile, would need to be shifting strongly toward being electrified, powered by these same renewable energy sources. At present, transportation is far behind the power sector in the shift to low-carbon fuel sources. Right now, according to the International Energy Agency, only 4 percent of road transportation is powered by renewable fuels, and the agency has projected only a 1 percent increase by 2022.

Meanwhile the Trump regime is currently in the process of scrapping all of these Obama-era programs, and is actually looking to greatly increase coal plant usage and emissions.  Odds are we're going to reach the 1.5C mark before 2040.

By then, it will be far too late.  We'll go down as global villains in the history books for centuries.

And we will deserve it.


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