And that could mean trouble. We know that at the end of the last major ice age, rapid fluctuations in the circulation led to extreme climate shifts on a global scale. Natalie Renier/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Author provided The ocean currents that help warm the Atlantic coasts of Europe and North America have significantly slowed since the 1800s and are at their weakest in 1,600 years, according to new research my colleagues and I have...
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Kevin McCarthy's 'win-at-all-costs style could backfire' as he tries to appease both Trump and his caucus: report
According to a report from Time's Lissandra Villa, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy could be looking at reclaiming the House leadership after the 2022 midterm elections -- or it could all come tumbling down as he tries to appease both Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers who want to put the ex-president in the past.
Traditionally the party not controlling the White House picks up House seats in the midterms and 2022 looks no different except for the fact that Trump from his Mar-a-Lago resort is attempting to play kingmaker and take out some Republican House members who displeased him which could complicate matters for McCarthy.
As Villa wrote, "To regain the majority next year, McCarthy has to hold together a splintered party reckoning with its future in the post-Trump era. One faction of the GOP wants to move past a divisive former President who espoused racist views and misinformation. But most of the party has embraced Trump and all that comes with him," adding that McCarthy has promised a "big tent" for all comers.
However, as the report states, "conversations with more than a dozen current and former House members, GOP strategists, Republican staffers and other party observers offer a portrait of a politician with a win-at-all-costs approach," with Villa reporting, "But in the long run, McCarthy's win-at-all-costs style could backfire—for the party and for the nation."
This has McCarthy critics "frustrated" because they believe he wants to keep Trump as an integral part of the party, which they do not believe is the path back to reclaiming power.
According to McCarthy's mentor, former California Rep. Bill Thomas (R), "My hope is … that the Kevin who spoke during the impeachment, notwithstanding the fact that he didn't vote for it, will be the Kevin leading the Republicans on the floor of the House, and not the [Kevin who had] been supporting, nurturing the lies of the President."
Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford (R) echoed those sentiments, explaining, "I think that there's tremendous brand erosion over the long term when you suck up to somebody that doesn't represent the ideals that allegedly your party stands for."
McCarthy's dilemma is how to straddle his Trump leanings with members -- such as Reps Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Liz Cheney (R-WY) -- who want a post-Trump party.
"For all McCarthy's attempts to maintain one, a big tent can be unwieldy. Over the past four months alone, McCarthy has had to face the challenge of disciplining [Rep. Marjorie Taylor] Greene, which he didn't; of defending a leadership challenge to Cheney, which he first approached tepidly, and then by not answering the question when he was recently asked whether Trump should cut out the attacks against her; and of responding to the scandal around Rep. Matt Gaetz, a fellow Trump supporter that the New York Times reported is being investigated over whether he engaged in sex trafficking," the report states. "Out west, some old allies are growing tired of McCarthy's strategy of walking the line."
According to Rob Stutzman, a California-based GOP strategist, McCarthy's task is likely doomed to failure.
"People in Sacramento who have seen him adopt such support for the former President, defending the politics of the former President, adopting some of the issues of the former President— it's a bit disorienting compared to his time here in the state House," he explained. "I think you can attribute all that to [McCarthy's] pragmatism—or at least what he sees as pragmatism—in trying to hold together what may be a Republican coalition that cannot be held together."
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Judges are being shown 'grisly' videos of MAGA mob dragging Capitol cops that have yet to be seen by public
One of the most serious cases of violence against Capitol Police officers during the January 6th MAGA riots has flown mostly under the radar -- and it reportedly involves "grisly" footage that has never been seen by the public or the media.
CNN reports that body camera videos from officers who were beaten and dragged by Trump supporters during the riots at the United States Capitol building are being used by prosecutors to argue that at least five accused rioters should not be released ahead of their trials.
"In several court hearings in recent weeks, prosecutors have rolled out as at least four video clips, with most taken from the police officers' body camera footage, to convince judges... of the severity of the danger," reports CNN. "As each of the defendants have been processed, some of the videos have been shown multiple times, to different judges, or to highlight the actions of each defendant."
Federal judge Emmet Sullivan, one of the judges who viewed the footage in court this week, remarked during a hearing that "every time I look at these videos, it just chokes me up."
The footage in the videos depicts two unidentified officers trying to help a Trump supporter at the Capitol who had fallen to the ground and was being trampled by other rioters.
The footage shows that one officer "lay on his stomach, surrounded, as... rioters beat him with an upside-down American flag on a flagpole and other objects," writes CNN.
A second officer, meanwhile, was dragged into the crowd "where rioters took his helmet, cell phone and gas mask and began beating him."
Ex-cop Derek Chauvin was convicted this week of murdering George Floyd, marking the first time a white police officer has been convicted in the death of a Black person in the history of Minnesota, and the second time a police officer had been convicted of killing a civilian in the state. While the verdict was a victory, it will do very little to curb police brutality or systemic racism in policing without serious reforms in policing training and legal accountability. Even in this trial, Chauvin was presented as an outlier cop who violated procedure, rather than as an officer with many excessive-force complaints in his history, who had been protected by the system for years.
One of the biggest impediments to police accountability for killing civilians is the legal doctrine known as qualified immunity. Qualified immunity shields police officers from civil lawsuits brought by the public to protect government officials who make "reasonable" mistakes. This means that people who have had their civil rights violated by police officers cannot sue and they must rely on disciplinary action by the police department or the prosecutor bringing charges to hold officers accountable.
While civil lawsuits can only provide financial accountability, they could be an important tool in changing the culture around policing. Individual police officers might think twice about their actions if they thought their own money was on the line. Additionally lawsuits bring press attention that would likely be unwanted by police departments. Civilians must have their own mechanism for holding police officers accountable and cannot be forced to rely on systems set up to protect police.
While civil lawsuits can only provide financial accountability, they could be an important tool in changing the culture around policing. Individual police officers might think twice about their actions if they thought their own money was on the line.
The right for civilians to bring lawsuits against public officials who violate constitutional rights dates to the passage of the Civil Rights Act, aka the Enforcement Act, of 1871. Initially passed to fight the Ku Klux Klan, the law empowered the president to suspend habeas corpus, a writ to challenge why someone is being imprisoned, to combat the KKK. In 1961, in Monroe v. Pape, the Supreme Court held that Section 1, now amended and codified as 42 USC § 1983, known as Section 1983, could be used to sue state officers who violated a person's constitutional rights.
In that case, 13 Chicago cops broke into the Monroe home without a warrant, ransacked it and made Monroe and his wife stand naked in the living room before taking Monroe to the police station to interrogate him for 10 hours about a murder. Monroe brought suit against each officer as well as the city under the 1871 Civil Rights Act. While dismissed by the District Court and the Court of Appeals, because the officers were performing government functions, the Supreme Court disagreed with respect to the officers but dismissed the case against the city. The court held that the purpose of the 1871 Civil Rights Act was "to give a remedy to parties deprived of constitutional rights, privileges, and immunities by an official's abuse of his position."
While Monroe remains important precedent, a 1967 case weakened it with respect to police officers by creating the legal doctrine of "qualified immunity." Pierson v. Ray was a case coming out of desegregation efforts in the South. It involved the arrest of 15 Episcopal priests, 12 white and three Black, who tried going to a coffee shop in Jackson, Mississippi, while participating in the Mississippi Freedom Rides in 1961.
The priests were arrested for "breach of peace" after refusing to leave the coffee shop after being ordered to. They were each sentenced to four months in jail and a $200 fine. Represented by the Congress of Racial Equality, they sued for damages against the local judge and police under Section 1983, claiming false arrest and imprisonment.
While the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals found the Mississippi "breach of peace" law allowing the police to arrest the priests unconstitutional, it did not hold them liable, because they could not be expected to know which laws were constitutional or not. Additionally the appeals court ruled the judge was immune from prosecution.
While the Supreme Court ruled a new trial was warranted, it held that while police officers did not have "unqualified immunity," they may be excused "from liability for acting under a statute they reasonably believed to be valid but that was later held unconstitutional, on its face or as applied"—in other words, "qualified immunity."
While this was meant to be a small exception carved out for officers who acted in "good faith," the doctrine was greatly expanded in 1982 with Harlow v. Fitzgerald. After Harlow, police officers were generally shielded from civil liability, even if acting in bad faith, unless plaintiffs could show the officer violated a "clearly established" right that a "reasonable person" would know. The burden of proof therefore was moved to the shoulders of the plaintiff and "reasonableness" became an issue. Additionally plaintiffs were required to show a legal precedent involving the "specific context" and "particular conduct" at issue. Otherwise, the officers were shielded from liability. Bottom line? This is rarely achieved. The result? Cops act like they can do no wrong.
Ending qualified immunity is a necessary step in empowering civilians and holding police officers accountable for their violence. The United States House of Representatives has passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would end qualified immunity. The act would also ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants in federal drug cases, create a nationwide database of police misconduct, prohibit racial and religious profiling, and redirect funds to community-based policing programs.
While the bill would be an important step in police reform, Republicans in the United States Senate are blocking it with a competing bill that is not as strong. Qualified immunity was created in an attempt to protect police officers during segregation and continuing its use only serves to perpetuate systemic racism and violent policing.
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