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According to a three-year study published in Scientific Reports Friday, the patch known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is about 1.6 million square kilometers in size — up to 16 times bigger than previous estimates.
According to NOAA’s Marine Debris Program:
“The debris is continuously mixed by wind and wave action and widely dispersed both over huge surface areas and throughout the top portion of the water column. It is possible to sail through the “garbage patch” area and see very little or no debris on the water’s surface. It is also difficult to estimate the size of these “patches,” because the borders and content constantly change with ocean currents and winds. Regardless of the exact size, mass, and location of the “garbage patch,” manmade debris does not belong in our oceans and waterways and must be addressed.”
Ghost nets, or discarded fishing nets, make up almost half the 80,000 metric tons of garbage floating at sea, and the researchers believe that around 20% of the total volume of trash is debris from the Japanese tsunami in 2011.
The study utilized two aircraft surveys and 30 vessels to cross the debris field, and the team was made up with international scientists, university’s and the Ocean Cleanup Project.
Along with nets to survey and collect trash, researchers also used two six-meter-wide devices to help measure medium to large-sized objects. An aircraft was also equipped with advanced sensors to be able to collect 3D scans of the ocean garbage. They ended up collecting a total of 1.2 million plastic samples and scanned more than 300 square kilometers of ocean surface.
The bulk of the pile is made up of larger objects while only 8% of the mass is microplastics, or pieces smaller than 5 millimeters in size.
“We were surprised by the amount of large plastic objects we encountered,” Chief Scientist Julia Reisser said in a statement.
“We used to think most of the debris consists of small fragments, but this new analysis shines a new light on the scope of the debris.
In the Fall of 2017, groups of environmentalists called on the United Nations to declare the Great Pacific Garbage Patch a country, called “The Trash Isles,” complete with its own passport and currency, called debris.
They reached out to nearly 200,000 people to become citizens, including celebrities Their first citizen to take the offer was former US vice president and environmentalist Al Gore.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was first discovered in 1997 by oceanographer Charles Moore when he sailed home to Southern California after finishing the Transpacific Yacht Race, from California to Hawaii.
“I was confronted, as far as the eye could see, with the sight of plastic,” wrote Moore about his discovery in Natural History.
“In the week it took to cross the subtropical high, no matter what time of day I looked, plastic debris was floating everywhere: bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, fragments.”
On Friday the 4-star Army General , Barry McCaffrey, slammed Donald Trump claiming him as a “serious threat to U.S. national security” for his failure to protect the nation from “active Russian attacks.”
The General also accused President Donald Trump in a tweet Friday of being “under the sway” of Russian president Vladimir Putin” for some “unknown reason.”
O’DONNELL: I know you didn’t choose those words lightly.MCCAFFREY: No, not at all. You know, I’ve been fairly critical of the President for a variety of reasons, but what really, I think, the turning point in my mind was his reluctance to personally stand with the Brits over what has been a documented series of essentially Russian intelligence murders in London, and the latest one being really a signature attempt at assassination of the former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter using a chemical agent that was clearly only available to former Soviet operatives.
McCaffrey is also the military analyst for NBC News and also the president of his own consulting firm, BR McCaffrey Associates, was director of Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Clinton from 1996 to 2001. His military background includes three Purple Heart medals for injuries sustained during his service in Vietnam, two Silver Stars for valor, and two Distinguished Service Crosses.
Featured photo from NBC
On Friday night the United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired now Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, which comes just a day before he could retire.
Though McCabe stepped down as Deputy Director in late January, he remained on the federal payroll, planning to retire on Sunday. The firing places his federal pension in jeopardy.
Sessions said the firing was justified because an internal review apparently found that McCabe had leaked information to the press and mislead investigators. McCabe denied the claims, saying he was fired because he is a key witness to the Russia investigation.
In a statement, McCabe said:
“This attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement and intelligence professionals more generally. It is part of the administration’s ongoing war on the FBI and the efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of the special counsel’s work.”
This was the first statement that McCabe had spoken candidly of his anger at the Trump White House. In it, he portrayed a remarkable picture of an administration that tried to politicize its principal law enforcement arm, the FBI, and discredit several of the bureau’s longtime leaders, all in an effort to escape scrutiny of Trump by the special counsel.
McCabe noted in his statement that he had knowledge that could be useful to Mueller’s investigation into events involving the president.
Unlike Trump’s removal of Comey last year, which produced a widespread resentment inside the FBI, McCabe’s termination was recommended by the agency that he has served for 21 years.
This Sunday is McCabe’s 50th birthday, which would have made him eligible for certain substantial retirement benefits. Now thanks to the current administrations moves, those benefits are up in the air.
Featured photo via CBC News
On Wednesday we found out that under former President Barack Obama, the Department of Justice directed the FBI to drop more than 500,000 names of fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This came from the current FBI deputy director David Bowdich, who testified on Wednesday.
During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about law enforcement’s faulty response to Parkland, Florida shooter Nikolas Cruz, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Bowdich about the removal.
“That was a decision that was made under the previous administration,” Bowdich testified. “It was the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel that reviewed the law and believed that it needed to be interpreted so that if someone was a fugitive in a state, there had to be indications that they had crossed state lines. Otherwise they were not known to be a fugitive under the law and the way it was interpreted.”
Fugitives from justice are barred from buying a firearm under federal law. But the exact definition of a fugitive from justice has been a strung out debate between the Department of Justice and the ATF.
According to a report that was done by The Washington Post, the FBI considered anyone who has an outstanding arrest warrant to be a fugitive. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives defines a fugitive as someone who has an outstanding arrest warrant and has crossed state lines.
At the end of former President Barack Obama’s final term, the argument between the agencies came to a end. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel ended up siding with the ATF’s interpretation of what a fugitive is.
Under President Donald Trump, the DOJ defined a fugitive as a person who went to another state to dodge criminal prosecution or evade giving testimony in criminal court, and implemented the Office of Legal Counsel’s decision. This decision meant that around half a million fugitives were removed from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Current President Donald Trumps Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recently announced that the Justice Department will “aggressively” be pursing anyone who is caught lying on their background check when purchasing a firearm.
Click here for the full clip of David Bowdichs testimony
Featured photo via Washington Post
This past week we saw now former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson been fired without any warning. This news was followed by an announcement from President Trump that Mike Pompeo would become the new Secretary of State.
President Donald Trump also announced his decision this week to nominate Gina Haspel, an intelligence official that civil libertarians argue “should be in jail” for her role in the former Bush administration’s torture regime, as the next CIA chief has came off as a torture apologists among America’s political elite.
Her nomination has been met with fierce backlash from politicians and advocacy groups who say her involvement in the brutal torture programs should disqualify her. Haspel joined the CIA in 1985 and ran a CIA “black site” prison in Thailand in 2002 that used “interrogation techniques” like waterboarding.
On Tuesday was Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wy.), who is Dick Cheneys’ daughter, tweeted in defense of the CIA’s torture program at Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who argued the Senate should closely scrutinize Haspel’s role in overseeing the torture of detainees at U.S. black sites overseas.
In openly praising the Bush torture regime and the “brave men and women” who carried it out, Cheney differentiated her position from that of many Washington establishment figures who have defended Haspel’s role in overseeing the Bush torture program this week, on the grounds that she was merely “following orders.”
Wells Dixon from the Center on Constitutional Rights said in a statement that “Gina Haspel disgraced herself by participating in the CIA torture program and the destruction of criminal evidence. We do not believe she should be director of the CIA. Rather, she should be in jail.”
On Thursday Jon Schwartz wrote an op-ed for The Intercept that argues the defense of Haspel offered by Hayden, former Obama officials, and some lawmakers is precisely the defense Nazis used during the Nuremberg trials following the Second World War.
While Nuremberg judges rejected the “Nuremberg defense” as illegitimate, “many members of the Washington, D.C. elite are now stating that it, in fact, is a legitimate defense for American officials who violate international law to claim they were just following orders,” Schwartz writes.
Trevor Timm who is the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, tweeted out a summary of the principal narratives of torture apologists, all of which serve to undermine all attempts to hold those who oversee violations of international law accountable for their actions.
Establishment politicians on the right and left have already begun to defend Gina Haspel’s past while Civil Liberties groups are ramping up efforts to stop her from being confirmed for the position.
So far only two Republicans have voices out against the nominees. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he would oppose her nomination, as did Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was tortured while imprisoned during the Vietnam War, said she needed to “explain the nature” of her involvement in the program.
On Thursday Sen. Dianne Feinstein called on the CIA to declassify documents that detail the role that Gina Haspel played in the George W. Bush administration’s interrogation and detention program.
Feinstein sent a letter to Haspel and outgoing CIA Director Mike Pompeo saying that a full accounting of Haspel’s record in the Bush-era interrogation program is needed to evaluate her record.
Her letter said:
“As we move forward with the nomination process for Ms. Haspel, my fellow senators and I must have the complete picture of Ms. Haspel’s involvement in the program in order to fully and fairly review her record and qualifications, I also believe the American people deserve to know the actual role the person nominated to be the director of the CIA played in what I I’m director, faces a difficult confirmation battle over those actions, with Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky already opposed her nomination and Democrats planning to make that a key issue when she testifies on Capitol Hill.
During her 30-year CIA career, Haspel supervised the interrogation of terrorism suspects in Thailand, and she later was involved with the decision to destroy tapes of CIA interrogations.
Haspel, who is currently deputy CIA director, faces a difficult confirmation battle over those actions, with Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky already opposed her nomination and Democrats planning to make that a key issue when she testifies on Capitol Hill.
So far it isn’t clear what records the Senate will receive as part of Haspel’s confirmation process.
On Wednesday Morgan Roof, who is the 18-year-old sister of Dylann Roof, was arrested for having weapons on her at school. This happened the same day of the nationwide walkouts against gun violence.
A school resource officer at A.C. Flora High School in Columbia, South Carolina, allegedly discovered marijuana, pepper spray and a knife in Morgan Roof’s possession.
Morgan Roof is being charged with simple possession of marijuana and two counts of carrying weapons while on school grounds. Roof was also granted a $5,000 bond and ordered not to attend school while out, WIS reported.
NBC reported that Morgan Roof made a post on Snapchat that couldn’t be verified, that they say stated “your [sic] walking out for the allowed time of 17min, they are letting you do this, nothing is gonna change what tf you think it’s gonna do? I hope it’s a trap and y’all get shot we know it’s fixing to be nothing but black people walkin out anyway.”
In her social media post, Ms Roof seemed opposed to her classmates joining the thousands of students across the US walking out of class in memory of the 17 people killed at a Florida school last month.
Her racially charged post said in part, “I hope it’s a trap and y’all get shot”
Two other students were also arrested on Wednesday for carrying weapons on the grounds of Ms Roof’s school, AC Flora High School, local media reported.
Authorities found an unloaded handgun which students reportedly saw one of the 16-year-olds throw into a bush.
The incidents at the school are being treated separately, according to the school’s principal, who shared a letter on the school’s Twitter page.
Currently her brother Dylann Roof is waiting for execution at the Terre Haute Federal Prison in Indiana after he was sentenced to death last year in January. The self-proclaimed white supremacist killed nine black worshippers at a Charleston church in 2015.