Saturday snippets: Prosecutor objects to calling torture 'torture'; Trump delights Marchers for Life

Massive smoke plume rises above the 2018 Woolsey Fire in Malibu, California. Trump-appointed minions at the Interior Department sought to compare carbon emissions from fires like this to fossil fuel emissions in order to push their agenda of promoting more logging.

Saturday snippets is a regular feature of Daily Kos.

• Trump regime used California wildfires to push more logging: Emails show that political appointees in the Interior Department sought to estimate carbon emissions from the state’s wildfires in 2018 so they could compare them with emissions from California’s electricity sector to help make a class for cutting down more trees. By playing up the emissions caused by the fire and downplaying emissions from fossil fuels, they tried to build a climate case for more logging, even as Trump’s political appointments throughout the government pushed the extraction and burning of more fossil fuels. 

• Scientists believe coronavirus now afflicting at least 1,400 people started in bats. 

• Government prosecutor objects to use of “torture” in pre-trial hearing on Guantánamo-held 9/11 suspects: The objection was made during testimony of James Mitchell, one of the two CIA-contracted psychologists who developed “enhanced interrogation techniques,” the sanitized description of methods deployed to obtain information about terrorism from captured prisoners, 40 of whom are still at the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility on land leased at gunpoint from Cuba. Five are set to go on trial in January 2021. Mitchell, who personally engaged in waterboarding detainees, became upset at the prosecutor’s choice of “torture” to describe what he said was approved by the Justice Department and other high U.S. officials. The colonel who is the judge on the military commission trying the case said he is not bound in his decisions by opinions from the Justice Department. He could let the case proceed, dismiss it, exclude certain evidence, or stop the prosecution from seeking the death penalty. He could also choose to exclude the use of “torture” to describe what the CIA did or let prosecutors get away with keeping that truth out of the proceedings.



• Marchers for Life delighted by Trump’s unprecedented speech to them: On Friday at their annual march attacking reproductive rights on the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, Donald Trump pledged to do everything he can to undermine women’s right to control their own bodies and their own sexuality. “From the first day in office, I’ve taken a historic action to support America’s families and to protect the unborn. ... I reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy, and we issued a landmark pro-life rule to govern the use of Title X taxpayer funding,” he said of his threat last August warning family-planning clinics they must stop referring patients to abortion clinics or lose their federal funding.

• Doctors discover average human body temperature is falling, and they don’t know why: Practically everyone learned when they were still learning their times tables that the average human body temperature is 98.6° Fahrenheit. That was established in the 1850s, when a doctor collected temperature data on 25,000 people in Leipzig, Germany. A study three years ago of 35,000 Britons that the average was 97.88°F. Bad data in the first study? Or has average body temperatures been falling over time? In fact, in a fresh study published in journal eLife, researchers analyzed three different databases of temperatures—a cohort of Civil War veterans, readings taken in the 1970s, and date taken from 2007 and 2017. They found that men born in the early 19th century had body temperatures averaged 1.06°F higher than men today, while women from that era averaged, 0.57°F warmer than women of the 21st century. On average, the study found, human body temperature has been dropping by 0.05°F each decade. Among the possible but unproved reasons: better health meaning less inflammation and heating and cooling technology. One key fact is that body temperature varies not just between individuals but within individuals. Age brings body temperature down. Women’s body temperatures vary with their menstrual cycle.

• Iran is using cryptocurrencies to try and circumvent U.S. sanctions:

In narrow terms, the economic sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran in the last two years have been effective, shrinking the Iranian economy by 10 to 20 percent. But they have also accelerated Iran’s use of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, which are increasingly used by the Iranian government and public to evade legal barriers. This has led to an attempted crackdown on bitcoin by international regulators—but the cryptocurrency industry is proving more nimble than the enforcers of sanctions.

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