Links, Notes, Bookmarks & Briefs For December 12, 2015

An open thread and (almost) daily notes to myself; feel free to eavesdrop, join in or drop a relevant link in the comments. Updated several times throughout the day.


Paris Climate Talks LiveThe Guardian.
COP21 Live CoverageBBC.
– George Monbiot – Grand promises of Paris climate deal undermined by squalid retrenchmentsThe Guardian. Monbiot’s verdict?

By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.

Inside the narrow frame within which the talks have taken place, the draft agreement at the UN climate talks in Paris is a great success. The relief and self-congratulation with which the final text was greeted, acknowledges the failure at Copenhagen six years ago, where the negotiations ran wildly over time before collapsing. The Paris agreement is still awaiting formal adoption, but its aspirational limit of 1.5C of global warming, after the rejection of this demand for so many years, can be seen within this frame as a resounding victory. In this respect and others, the final text is stronger than most people anticipated.

Outside the frame it looks like something else. I doubt any of the negotiators believe that there will be no more than 1.5C of global warming as a result of these talks. As the preamble to the agreement acknowledges, even 2C, in view of the weak promises governments brought to Paris, is wildly ambitious. Though negotiated by some nations in good faith, the real outcomes are likely to commit us to levels of climate breakdown that will be dangerous to all and lethal to some. Our governments talk of not burdening future generations with debt. But they have just agreed to burden our successors with a far more dangerous legacy: the carbon dioxide produced by the continued burning of fossil fuels, and the long-running impacts this will exert on the global climate.

Who speaks for the EU at Paris climate summit?EU Observer. In case you were wondering, it’s Carole Dieschbourg, Luxembourg’s 38-year-old minister for environment. Her country currently holds the six-month rotating EU Council presidency.

Refugee Crisis

Syrian Refugees Greeted by Justin Trudeau in CanadaNY Times.

After a Long Haul, Refugees Settle Into New Lives Far from HomeOpen Society. A brief Q&A with American photographer Amanda Rivkin who’s been photographing refugees as they transit from Syria to Europe.

San Bernardino Shootings

San Bernardino Attackers’ Friend Spoke of ‘Sleeper Cells’ Before RampageNY Times.


Islamic State oil trade ‘worth more than $500m’BBC. That’s according to US Treasury official Adam Szubin who says its primary customer is the government of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad.

2016 US Elections

Ted Cruz using firm that harvested data on millions of unwitting Facebook usersGuardian.
Trump’s Muslim Ban Proposal Unlikely To Hurt Him Among RepublicansHuffington Post. – “Americans oppose Trump’s Muslim ban, but Republicans are more split. Fear of terrorism is at its highest rate since the weeks following the 9/11 attacks. And PBS Newshour highlights the challenges of polling.”

Military Industry

President Obama Must Cancel $1.29b Arms Deal with Saudi ArabiaAmnesty International USA Press Release.
Defense Contractors Laud Themselves for Steering Candidates Toward MilitarismThe Intercept.

A group formed this year by executives and lobbyists for the defense contracting industry is taking credit for “driving the national debate on foreign policy during the 2016 presidential election,” and in particular for getting Republican presidential candidates to call for escalating military action in Syria.

Press & Digital Freedom

Egypt: Continued detention of photojournalist Shawkan for more than 800 days is an affront to press freedomAmnesty International.

Julian Assange may face Swedish interrogation within daysGuardian.


Today’s Pic du Jour, the site’s 708th (!) straight, was snapped today here in Ljubljana, about as fitting as an image could be for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge, “Oops”. I managed to even find an extra ‘O’ to emphasis the point.


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