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'The name of the game is delay': Legal expert accuses Judge Cannon of 'calling every ball in Trump’s favor'
Responding to news that Judge Aileen Cannon has once again interceded on behalf of Donald Trump by slowing down the work being done by special master Raymond Dearie, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance accused the judge of assisting the former president with his legal delay game.
On Thursday, NBC reported that the Trump-appointed Cannon ruled the former president doesn't have to submit a sworn statement wherein he would be compelled to identify what documents he claims the FBI planted at his Mar-a-Lago resort almost two months ago as they sought stolen government documents.
Since the search ordered by the Department of Justice, Trump has alternately claimed he declassified all of the documents while also telling his supporters that he is being framed.
With special master Dearie giving Trump's attorneys a deadline to provide documentation to back up Trump's claim, Cannon, who chose Dearie on the recommendation of Trump's legal team, jumped into the fray and with a ruling that will drag out the proceedings.
According to NBC, "The decision by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon effectively overrules a directive from the special master she named to review evidence the FBI seized in the search Aug. 8. The special master, Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie of New York, last week ordered Trump’s team to submit a “declaration or affidavit” about whether anything on the FBI's list of items removed from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach had not been “seized from the Premises,” meaning items that were put there by someone else."
Taking to Twitter, Vance linked to the report and added, "If Judge Cannon was going to continue calling every ball in Trump’s favor, I’m not at all sure why she felt the need to appoint a special master to review the documents the government seized from Mar-a-Lago."
She then continued, "No real surprises here. The name of the game is delay. Judge Cannon countermanded Judge Dearie’s streamlined schedule & helped Trump advance his usual delay game in litigation. That means it could be late December before DOJ can use documents it recovered from Mar-a-Lago."
She then shamed the judge by writing, "Judge Dearie told Trump’s lawyers, '[m]y view is, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.' But apparently that doesn’t hold for Judge Cannon."
Mercury is a toxic heavy metal. When leached into the natural environment, it accumulates and builds up through food chains, ultimately threatening human health and ecosystems.
In the last century, human activities have increased atmospheric mercury concentrations by 300-500% above natural levels.
However, in some parts of the world, humans have been modifying the mercury cycle for thousands of years. This anthropogenic (human-caused) mercury use has led to mercury entering places globally it wouldn’t otherwise be found, such as in lakes or soils in remote locations.
One region with an especially long (but poorly documented) history of mercury use is Mexico and Central America. Early Mesoamerican societies such as the Olmec had been mining and using mercury in southern Mexico as early as 2000 BCE.
This map of Mexico and Central America shows sites where liquid mercury has been found, known geological sources, and Maya sites with elevated soil mercury.
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs.2022.986119/full, Author provided
In our research, published in Frontiers in Environmental Science, we review the ways the Maya used mercury, the mystery of how they sourced it, and the environmental legacy of past mercury use.
Our present mercury problem has a deep legacy. Understanding its origins will also help us understand the trajectory of humanity’s fascination with, use of – and abuse of – this mercurial element.
Cultural and creative importance
Archaeologists have been finding mercury at archaeological sites in Mexico and Central America for more than a century.
The most common form reported is cinnabar (mercury sulfide, or HgS), a bright red mineral used extensively by the ancient Maya for decoration, craft, and ritual purposes such as burials and in tombs.
The Maya used cinnabar in burials, identifiable by its distinct red colour. Maya Gallery, National Museum of Anthropology/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY
It has been far less common to find liquid (elemental) mercury. There are only seven occurrences of liquid mercury at Mesoamerican sites that we are aware of.
But it’s feasible there may have been many more – and that it’s simply invisible in today’s archaeological record. Liquid mercury from 1,000 or more years ago could have evaporated or oozed away into the environment through time.
Exceeding toxic levels
Most Maya settlements were great distances from known mercury sources located in Mexico and Honduras, and perhaps Guatemala and Belize. This means the production, trade, and use of mercury would have been highly valuable and logistically challenging – especially for managing toxic liquid mercury!
Over the past two decades, scientists working on Maya archaeological projects have tested artefacts, soils, and sediments for their chemical properties, including for mercury, to better understand past human activities.
They test soils and former Maya areas excavated from far below today’s ground surface, which tell us about mercury levels during the Maya’s time.
Rob Griffin sampling sediments for mercury near the bottom of the Corriental reservoir in Tikal, Guatemala. (Nick Dunning)
Combined data from these tests show most Maya sites have some amount of mercury enrichment in buried soils. Specifically, seven out of ten sites were found to have mercury levels that equal or exceed modern benchmarks for environmental toxicity.
Locations with elevated mercury are typically areas the Maya occupied, including domestic patios, dating to the Late Classic (600-900 CE). Mercury also made its way into some drinking water sources including central reservoirs at Tikal.
While the appealing red cinnabar ore is the likely culprit of mercury pollution, the equally appealing and shimmering liquid mercury is another possible source of persistent pollution in some locations, such as Lamanai in modern-day Belize.
Mercury, also known as quicksilver, occurs naturally and is the only metallic element that stays liquid at room temperature. (MarcelClemens/Shutterstock)
At more complex sites, elevated mercury levels may be the result of both modern and ancient inputs. For example, it’s not clear if the mercury detected at the island Maya settlement of Marco Gonzalez (also in Belize) is from ancient or modern times.
Our work reveals a rich history of mercury use by the Maya and challenges the idea that pre-industrial societies didn’t have noteworthy impacts on their environments.
But there is much we still don’t know. Where and how did the Maya obtain mercury? Who mined it, traded it, and transported it by foot over hundreds of kilometers across present-day Central America?
Then there’s the question of whether the Maya were affected by mercury exposure. The next step will be for geochemists and archaeologists to track down the source of mercury at key sites and, if possible, scrutinize archaeological and human remains for signs of past mercury exposure.
We also need to find out what forms mercury takes in the environment today, so we can better understand where it came from, and provide guidance on what precautions (if any) need to be taken when working with legacy mercury.
Finding clues on early mercury use is crucial to understanding the interaction between legacy mercury and current mercury contamination in the environment today.
Duncan Cook, Associate professor, Australian Catholic University; Nicholas Dunning, Professor, University of Cincinnati ; Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Centennial Professor of Geography and the Environment, The University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts; Simon Turner, Senior Research Fellow in Geography, UCL, and Timothy Beach, Professor, The University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts
The state and nation’s voters are, as usual, deluged by a tidal wave of campaign promises from candidates as the November elections draw near.
And as usual, we are being promised far more than these candidates can or will deliver should they attain the offices they seek. But after the absolute debacle of the Trump/MAGA/insurrection administration — and evidence of failing campaigns by those who followed, supported, or emulated those extreme positions — it appears voters have wised up to the fact that their promises are as phony as the inflated assets valuations that now have their grifter-in-chief sinking in a quicksand of legal woes.
It’s telling that a desperate GOP is withdrawing tens of millions of dollars from political races in which the far-right candidates parroted MAGA’s extreme agenda that seeks to divide Americans based on any number of issues. Wrong skin color or race? Love someone of the same sex? Came from a “s–hole” country? Want to control your own body and decide when or if you want to have children? Won’t give the Q-Anon one finger salute at MAGA rallies? Think the climate crisis is real?
The reasons go on and on but the bottom line remains the same — if you’re not with us, you’re against us. But lo and behold, it would appear there are far more voters who are not marching in goose-step with the MAGA crowd, and who believe in tolerance, acceptance and common humanity. And that’s causing Congressional Republicans to distance themselves from those positions.
But at this late stage of the game, even those candidates who are trying to scurry away from their far-right primary positions are facing the ugly reality that they’re likely to lose. Why? For the simple reason that the vast majority of American voters and businesses prefer stability and predictability to insurrection, lawlessness and disregard for future generations.
Montanans, sad to say, are having their own experience with broken promises from the GOP politicians. Nothing speaks to their arrogance and ignorance more than the on-going debacle that now sees the Secretary of State spending $1.3 million dollars and rising to defend unconstitutional laws passed by the last Republican-dominated legislature. We were told those laws were necessary to ensure “voting integrity.” But disenfranchising voters, eliminating same-day registration, and making it harder to vote not only does the exact opposite, it’s unconstitutional to boot — which is why they’re now being halted in court.
One may wonder why these chest-pounding right-wingers would find the necessity for such anti-voter laws given their sweep of statewide offices in the last election. But as the MAGAs crash and burn across the nation, perhaps they’re worried the voters here might also have had enough of their incompetence and deception in governance.
The list is long and runs the gamut from not even responding to requests for information as required by Montana’s constitution to basically telling the public to take a hike on wolves, bison, environmental protection, and a host of state “services” as agencies roil in disarray.
It should come as no surprise that if you put “anti-government” candidates in office, they’re going to run government so poorly that citizens are dissatisfied. Not that they offer any viable alternative except anarchy…and that’s really not cutting it in these days of global, national, and local challenges to our society and planetary life-support systems.
November will tell the tale — but at this point it looks like a tale of woe for the GOP/MAGA platform.
George Ochenski is a longtime Helena resident, an environmental activist and Montana’s longest running columnist.
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