Someone Else’s Blank Slate

The Long Now has a good post on their blog summarizing the fate of Paul Romer’s Charter City initiative in Honduras.  In short, it’s gone down in flames.  Especially with the ideas and capital coming from N. America, this really shouldn’t surprise anyone.  There’s a good core idea in Romer’s Charter City pitch, but it has to be more like an organic autonomous region and less like a maquiladora or a colonial outpost.

E.ON lobbied for stiff sentences against Kingsnorth activists

German energy giant E.ON apparently lobbied cabinet ministers for stiff sentences against Kingsnorth activists, according to papers released under a FOIA style request made by Greenpeace.  The company suggested that without “dissuasive” sentences, they might be less willing to invest in generation facilities in the UK in the future.  Light sentences for non-violent direct action, and no more coal investment?  Sounds like a win-win to me.

HSBC is too big to jail

HSBC spent years laundering money for terrorist groups and drug cartels, with the complicity of top executives, and they will not be prosecuted, because they’re too important to the global economy, or some such bollocks.  Instead the bank will be fined the equivalent of one month’s worth of profits.  The plutocrats are above the law.  This story doesn’t end well.  For any of us.

On the Legality of Assassination by Flying Robot

A long but interesting (as well as horrifying) court decision pertaining to our government’s secret legal justifications for its extrajudicial assassinations by flying robot, the world over.  The judge is clearly infuriated by the situation.  Many thanks to the ACLU and my senator Mark Udall for fighting to get this stuff out in the open.

The FOIA requests here in issue implicate serious issues about the limits on the power of the Executive Branch under the Constitution and laws of the US, and about whether we are indeed a nation of laws, not of men.  The Administration has engaged in public discussion of the legality of targeted killing, even of citizens, but in cryptic and imprecise ways, generally without citing to any statute or court decision that justifies its conclusions…

However, this Court is constrained by law, and under the law, I can only conclude that the Government has not violated FOIA by refusing to turn over the documents sought in the FOIA requests, and so cannot be compelled by this court of law to explain in detail the reasons why its actions do not violate the Constitution and laws of the US.  The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me; but after careful and extensive consideration, I find myself stuck in a paradoxical situation in which I cannot solve a problem because of contradictory constraints and rules … I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the Executive Branch of our Government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret.

Anti-drone street artist arrested in NYC for satirizing NYPD

A street artist in NYC has been arrested on 56 counts of forgery in connection with his campaign this fall, putting up posters around the city that satirized NYPD’s potential use of drones for surveillance.  Forensics teams and a counter-terrorism unit were deployed to apprehend him, at lord knows what expense to taxpayers… which would seem to justify his point about police overreach and the surveillance state.

The Zero Carbon Compendium 2010

The UK has one of the world’s most aggressive building energy efficiency targets: all new homes to be zero carbon by 2016, and all new buildings to be zero carbon by 2019.  They’ve got a ways to go toward realizing this goal, but they’re doing what they can to learn from other countries in the meantime.  The Zero Carbon Compendium 2010 is a compilation of zero carbon building strategies and progress being made by nations all over the world.  A good look at what was already possible a couple of years ago… and it’s a lot more than we’re talking about doing here today.