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The Weather Channel’s new climate change video is … really intense

“The Arctic — the fastest warming area on Earth,” Weather Channel meteorologist Jen Carfagno narrates in a new video as the camera speeds you under an iceberg arch, through the spray from a breaching whale, and past ice-capped peaks so realistic you can almost feel the Arctic chill. “Changes here are drastic, undeniable, and all too real.”

It’s the latest in a Weather Channel video series that uses immersive mixed reality technology to help you visualize extreme weather up close. The first video went viral last September, when meteorologist Erika Navarro was virtually transported from the studio to a flooded neighborhood street in North Carolina to demonstrate storm-surge projections for Hurricane Florence in person.

“For 30 years, weather presentation has been very consistent,” Michael Potts, the vice president of design at the Weather Channel, told New York Magazine’s Intelligencer. “Usually it’s a person in front of a map. We wanted to engage the audience more and find a way to go deeper into the science of weather.”

And, in this latest video, they do. Instead of regurgitating statistics or presenting another doomsday scenario, the video portrays global warming in a gripping yet realistic way, transporting you from a rooftop above flooded city streets to a rocky coast in front of a collapsing iceberg. Carfagno takes you from 1851 to 2100, visiting Charleston, South Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; and Greenland’s famous Jakobshavn Glacier — all in the span of under two minutes. How’s that for high-speed time travel?

Using an immersive graphics technique popular in video games to produce the clip, the Weather Channel hopes to turn climate change into a vivid experience for viewers.

“By engaging our senses of sight and sounds — and our tendency to focus on things that move — they earn our full attention, and are experienced more like real lived experience than like book learning,” Edward Maibach, director of George Mason’s Center for Climate Change Communication, told the Verge.


The Weather Channel’s new climate change video is … really intense

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Life Everlasting – Bernd Heinrich


Life Everlasting

The Animal Way of Death

Bernd Heinrich

Genre: Nature

Price: $10.99

Publish Date: June 19, 2012

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC

An enlightening look at animal behavior and the cycle of life and death, from “one of the finest naturalists of our time” (Edward O. Wilson).   When a good friend with a severe illness wrote, asking if he might have his “green burial” at Bernd Heinrich’s hunting camp in Maine, it inspired the acclaimed biologist to investigate a subject that had long fascinated him. How exactly does the animal world deal with the flip side of the life cycle? And what are the lessons, ecological to spiritual, imparted by a close look at how the animal world renews itself?   Heinrich focuses his wholly original gaze on the fascinating doings of creatures most of us would otherwise turn away from—field mouse burials conducted by carrion beetles; the communication strategies of ravens, “the premier northern undertakers”; and the “inadvertent teamwork” among wolves and large cats, foxes and weasels, bald eagles and nuthatches in cold-weather dispersal of prey. Heinrich reveals, too, how and where humans still play our ancient and important role as scavengers, thereby turning not dust to dust, but life to life.   “If it has not been clear to readers by now, this book confirms that Bernd Heinrich is one of the finest naturalists of our time. Life Everlasting shines with the authenticity and originality that are unique to a life devoted to natural history in the field.” —Edward O. Wilson, author of The Meaning of Human Existence and The Social Conquest of Earth  

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Life Everlasting – Bernd Heinrich

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It’s Raining Shoes in the Jeff Sessions Affair Today

Mother Jones

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OK, I’m back from lunch. Have any more shoes dropped in the Jeff Sess—

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he will recuse himself from any investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign, which would include any Russian interference in the electoral process….The announcement comes a day after The Washington Post revealed that Sessions twice met with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and did not disclose that fact to Congress during his confirmation hearing.

Okey doke. I guess we all saw that coming. Anything el—

Michael T. Flynn, then Donald J. Trump’s incoming national security adviser, had a previously undisclosed meeting with the Russian ambassador in December to “establish a line of communication” between the new administration and the Russian government, the White House said on Thursday. Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior adviser, also participated in the meeting at Trump Tower with Mr. Flynn and Sergey I. Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.

Huh. Well, Kushner is supposedly going to be dealing with foreign policy issues, so I suppose that makes sense. It’s all above board and—

Look, can I finish a question, please? Obviously we don’t know what Sessions and Kislyak talked about, but is there any evidence at all linking their meeting to Russian hacking? Even something circumstantial?

Well, I’m sure there’s an innocent explanation for all this. Probably lots of senators chat with Kislyak now and again just to size up Russia’s intentions, don’t you think? Especially those with direct concerns about Russia, like Sessions’ fellow members of the Armed Services Committee.

Come on. All this happened while I was at lunch?


I can hardly wait for dinner.

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It’s Raining Shoes in the Jeff Sessions Affair Today

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Evidence of Bizarre Trump-Russia Ties Continues to Ooze Out

Mother Jones

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So what’s new on the Trump-Russia front? First up, the Independent tells us that the former MI6 agent behind the now-famous dossier alleging close ties between Russia and the Trump team was dismayed that his findings didn’t generate more action during the presidential campaign:

Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

….By late July and early August MI6 was also receiving information about Mr Trump. By September, information to the FBI began to grow in volume: Mr Steele compiled a set of his memos into one document and passed it to his contacts at the FBI. But there seemed to be little progress in a proper inquiry into Mr Trump. The Bureau, instead, seemed to be devoting their resources in the pursuit of Hillary Clinton’s email transgressions.

The New York office, in particular, appeared to be on a crusade against Ms Clinton. Some of its agents had a long working relationship with Rudy Giuliani, by then a member of the Trump campaign, since his days as public prosecutor and then Mayor of the city.

In related news, BuzzFeed says Israel is extremely interested in the possibility of Trump-Russia ties:

“You can trust me that many intelligence agencies are trying to evaluate the extent to which Trump might have ties, or a weakness of some type, to Russia,” one of the intelligence officers said….The officer said part of Israel’s interest in the dossier — and in other intelligence on Trump’s ties to Russia — stems from concern that secrets Israel shares with the Unites States might be fed to Russia.

Earlier this week, Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported that Israeli intelligence officials were questioning whether to continue sharing intelligence with the incoming Trump administration. The report said that during a recent meeting with US intelligence officials, Israel was told that the Russians had “leverages of pressure” to use against Trump. BuzzFeed News could not independently confirm that a meeting had taken place.

Other reports suggest that British intelligence is thinking along the same lines as Israel. And the Daily Beast reports that a group dedicated to hacking the NSA and releasing its prize malware has suddenly gone out of business a few days before Trump’s inauguration:

The Shadow Brokers emerged in August with the announcement that they’d stolen the hacking tools used by a sophisticated computer-intrusion operation known as the Equation Group, and were putting them up for sale to the highest bidder. It was a remarkable claim, because the Equation Group is generally understood to be part of the NSA’s elite Tailored Access Operations program.

….It soon emerged that the Shadow Brokers really had the goods….Virtually nobody, though, believed the Shadow Brokers’ claim that they were mere hackers trying to sell the exploits for a quick fortune.

The more persuasive theory, supported by no less than Edward Snowden, is that the Shadow Brokers are one of the same Russian government hacking groups now accused of targeting the U.S. election….Under this theory, the Shadow Brokers were part of a tit-for-tat in the intelligence world. The group emerged just as the U.S. began confronting Russia over its election hacking, and then seemed to release its secrets in time with the public thrusts and parries between the two countries….Now, with a new, friendlier administration coming in, Vladimir Putin may be pressing the reset button.

The more I read about this stuff, the harder I find it to believe. It just seems wildly ridiculous, the kind of thing that would barely pass muster on a TV potboiler, let alone in real life. The truth is that I’d probably dismiss it entirely if it weren’t for the vast amount of very public and very strange evidence that Team Trump and Team Putin are very close.

I don’t know. This is all completely outlandish, and I can hardly bring myself to credit it. And yet, there’s an awful lot of evidence that points in the direction of it being true—or at least partly true, anyway. Strange days.

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Evidence of Bizarre Trump-Russia Ties Continues to Ooze Out

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Top Republican Spokesman Thinks Pussy Grabbing Might Not Be Assault

Mother Jones

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Sean Spicer, a top Republican National Committee official, on Sunday night refused to acknowledge that the conduct Donald Trump claimed to have engaged in during a 2005 Access Hollywood taping constitutes sexual assault. In that video, which has roiled the GOP since its release Friday afternoon by the Washington Post, Trump discussed forcibly kissing women and grabbing their genitals. “Grab them by the pussy,” Trump said. “You can do anything.” In the days since, the press has referred to what Trump described as sexual assault. Trump’s shocking comments caused women around the country to come forward with their own stories of being assaulted in this way on social media and in the press—describing it repeatedly as a violent form of sexual assault that still haunts them.

But Spicer, the RNC’s communications director, refused to acknowledge that grabbing someone’s genitals is sexual assault when asked about this by The Weekly Standard after Sunday’s debate. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’m not a lawyer.”

The answer sounds a lot like Republican Sen. Marco Rubio when he once dodged a question about how old the planet is by saying, “I’m not a scientist, man.” Except Spicer is talking about sexual assault—and trying to minimize the definition and experiences of the people subjected to it. Perhaps Politico reporter Edward-Isaac Dovere said it best:

Spicer isn’t the only Trump supporter trying to claim that what Trump described is not sexual assault. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) also denied that groping someone’s genitals is sexual assault. Here is Sessions’ exchange with The Weekly Standard:

SESSIONS: This was very improper language, and he’s acknowledged that.

TWS: But beyond the language, would you characterize the behavior described in that video as sexual assault if that behavior actually took place?

SESSIONS: I don’t characterize that as sexual assault. I think that’s a stretch. I don’t know what he meant—

TWS: So if you grab a woman by the genitals, that’s not sexual assault?

SESSIONS: I don’t know. It’s not clear that he—how that would occur.

Unlike Spicer, Sessions is a lawyer—one who’s nomination to a federal judgeship three decades ago capsized after critics accused him of racism.

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Top Republican Spokesman Thinks Pussy Grabbing Might Not Be Assault

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Trump’s Campaign CEO Ran a Secretive Sci-Fi Project in the Arizona Desert

Mother Jones

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Long before Stephen Bannon was CEO of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, he held a much different job—as the acting director of Biosphere 2, a $200 million scientific research facility in the mountains outside Tucson, Arizona.

The original Biosphere project, completed in 1991 by a company called Space Biosphere Ventures and funded by a Texas billionaire named Edward Bass, was an attempt to turn science fiction into reality. Eight individuals were to live and work entirely within a series of domed and self-contained buildings, where they would grow their own food, recycle their own waste, and demonstrate that humans might be able to survive in space. But when that two-year experiment ended in disarray—it was overrun by ants and cockroaches—the company turned to a group of outsiders for help in turning it around. At the head of that effort was Bannon.

At the time he was hired by Bass to run Space Biospheres Ventures, Bannon was managing his own investment banking firm, Bannon & Co. Some Biosphere-ites were concerned about Bannon, who had previously investigated cost overruns at the site. Two former Biosphere 2 crew members flew back to Arizona to protest the hire and broke into the compound to warn current crew members that Bannon and the new management would jeopardize their safety.

Under his management, the focus of Biosphere 2 shifted from survival—the Survivor-like challenge of enduring two years inside a literal bubble—to planetary research. Specifically, as Bannon explained in a 1995 interview with C-SPAN, Biosphere 2 would be a place that focused on studying societal challenges like air pollution and climate change.

Breitbart News, the media company which Bannon ran for four years before taking a leave of absence to join Trump’s campaign, has adopted an antagonistic approach toward the topic of climate change, mocking climate science as “tosh” and “eco-propaganda” and claiming that the Earth is actually cooling. But Bannon sang a much different tune when he was interviewed by C-Span at Biosphere 2 in 1995.

“A lot of the scientists who are studying global change and studying the effects of greenhouse gases, many of them feel that the Earth’s atmosphere in 100 years is what Biosphere 2’s atmosphere is today,” Bannon explained. “We have extraordinarily high CO2, we have very high nitrous oxide, we have high methane. And we have lower oxygen content. So the power of this place is allowing those scientists who are really involved in the study of global change, and which, in the outside world or Biosphere 1, really have to work with just computer simulation, this actually allows them to study and monitor the impact of enhanced CO2 and other greenhouse gases on humans, plants, and animals.”

Bannon left Biosphere 2 after two years, and the project was taken over by Columbia University. (It is currently part of the University of Arizona.) But his departure was marred, as the Tucson Citizen reported at the time, by a civil lawsuit filed against Space Biosphere Ventures by the former crew members who had broken in.

During a 1996 trial, Bannon testified that he had called one of the plaintiffs a “self-centered, deluded young woman” and a “bimbo.” He also testified that when the woman submitted a five-page complaint outlining safety problems at the site, he promised to shove the complaint “down her fucking throat.” At the end of the trial, the jury found for the plaintiffs and ordered Space Biosphere Ventures to pay them $600,000—but also ordered the plaintiffs to pay the company $40,089 for the damage they had caused.

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Trump’s Campaign CEO Ran a Secretive Sci-Fi Project in the Arizona Desert

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Prosecutors Drop All Remaining Charges Against Officers in Freddie Gray Case

Mother Jones

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Maryland prosecutors announced Wednesday morning that they are dropping all charges against three officers still awaiting trial for their involvement in the death of Freddie Gray, bringing to an unsuccessful close a legal saga that has become a focal point for the Black Lives Matter movement. The decision comes after a judge acquitted three other officers of all charges and the trial of a fourth officer ended in a mistrial. Gray died after suffering a spinal cord injury during a ride in the back of a police van last April.

Prosecutors announced the decision in a pre-trial hearing for Baltimore police officer Garrett Miller, who would have been the fourth of six officers to stand trial on charges related to Gray’s death. The case that ended in a mistrial in December, against officer William Porter, was due for another hearing, and charges were also pending against Sergeant Alicia White. Charges against all three are being dropped.

Judge Barry Williams acquitted officers Edward Nero, Caesar Goodson, and Brian Rice in May, June, and July, respectively. Several officers have sued Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby for defamation, claiming she damaged their reputations by prosecuting officers in the case on what they say is little evidence.

Legal experts had speculated that the prosecution would be a tough one for Mosby, and her decision to bring charges against all six officers involved in Gray’s arrest and transport last April was seen as a bold move. She received criticism for what some observers called an apparent bias against the officers. “I hear your calls for ‘no justice, no peace,'” she told Black Lives Matter protesters at a press conference announcing charges against the six officers last May. At the Republican National Convention last week, audience members cheered as Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke criticized the “malicious prosecution of activist State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.”

Throughout the earlier trials, prosecutors argued that officers had acted negligently and ignored their training by failing to buckle Gray’s seatbelt after placing him in the back of a police van, handcuffed and shackled at the legs—a situation that ultimately resulted in his death. In explaining his rulings, Judge Williams repeatedly said prosecutors had failed to present sufficient evidence that officers intentionally sought to harm Gray. The decision to drop charges would appear to be a concession by prosecutors that their evidence would likely not have produced convictions had these three remaining cases gone to trial.

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Prosecutors Drop All Remaining Charges Against Officers in Freddie Gray Case

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The NSA spied on top-secret climate negotiations between world leaders

The NSA spied on top-secret climate negotiations between world leaders

By on 24 Feb 2016commentsShare

Climate negotiations between the world’s powerhouses usually take place behind closed doors — unless, that is, the U.S. government is secretly listening in.

A batch of documents released by WikiLeaks on Tuesday reveal that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) spied on communications regarding international climate change agreements, including negotiations in 2008 between United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom the NSA had reportedly been spying on for decades. The NSA listened in on a private meeting between the two leaders ahead of a 2009 conference in Copenhagen, and gleaned information about their hopes that the European Union play a major role in climate change mitigation, adding Merkel thought the “tough issue” would involve carbon trading.

An excerpt from one of the NSA memos reads:

Ban Ki-moon, in an exchange on 10 December with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, pointed out that the world would be watching the EU with “keen interest” for reassurances that it will maintain its leadership role in combating climate change … Ban also maintained that since the new U.S. administration will have a very engaging and proactive attitude on the issue, the time is right for the EU and the whole world to create conditions necessary for reaching a meaningful deal at the 2009 UN Climate Talks … Merkel believed that the climate-change issue should be discussed at the heads-of-state level, otherwise it would not work.

In a statement, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange accused “a country intent on protecting its largest oil companies” of bugging Ki-moon’s efforts to save the planet.

It’s not the first time we’ve discovered that the NSA has attempted to spy on other countries’ efforts to combat climate change. In 2014, world governments were furious to learn from a batch of documents released by the whistleblower Edward Snowden that the NSA had monitored communications between leaders of Brazil, South Africa, India, China, and several other countries. The NSA funneled information about other countries’ positions on climate change issues to U.S. negotiators for the 2009 climate conference in Copenhagen — a gathering widely considered to be a failure.

The newest climate memos, part of a larger group of WikiLeaks documents spanning 2007 to 2011, give rare insight into leaders’ hopes for the Copenhagen summit.

It’s not clear exactly what kind of advantage the U.S. managed to gain by intercepting communications between Ki-moon and Merkel, but it likely didn’t make the outcome of the Copenhagen conference any better. Just as we finally learn the full extent of the political maneuvering behind Copenhagen, the world has mostly moved on: In December, the world reached a new climate accord in Paris — one that, hopefully, will lead to real and lasting change.



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The NSA spied on top-secret climate negotiations between world leaders

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The View From the Top

Mother Jones

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The down-trodden and marginalized have long been fodder for documentary photo projects. A new photo exhibit curated by Myles Little explores the other side of economic inequality. The photos in 1%: Privilege in a Time of Global Inequality provide a rarified though nuanced glimpse into a world inhabited by a few. The collection of photos, cut from an initial round of 2,000 images, does not just present ostentatiousness but includes subtler signifiers of wealth along with a few quiet glances at poverty.

The collection is currently appearing in galleries in China, Dubai, Nigeria, and other international locations and will be coming to Chicago next spring. A book is being funded on Kickstarter campaign. I spoke with Little, the associate photo editor at Time, about how the exhibit came about and what he hoped it would accomplish.

A man floats in the 57th floor swimming pool of the Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Hotel Paolo Woods & Gabriele Galimberti/INSTITUTE

Mother Jones: You’ve been working on putting this exhibit together for two years. How did it come about?

Myles Lyttle: I was on vacation in Oaxaca, Mexico, and I introduced myself to a gallerist there named Daniel Brena. We went out for lunch and talked about things that interested us. Out of that conversation came this idea to focus on wealth photographically. Since then, the image choices, organizational framework, and logistics of the show have been my own. But that’s the original seed of the project.

Cheshire, Ohio, 2009 Daniel Shea

MJ: How did you decide on the specific photographers you chose for the exhibit?

ML: It took a lot of work and tons of online research. It really was going down the rabbit hole. I wound up with 2,000 images, a huge variety of aesthetics, moods, and topics within the world of wealth. I wanted the form of the show to mirror its content as far as its spirit. I wanted the show to feel posh, well-crafted, quiet. So I decided to only use medium format photography, which tends to feel a little more considered, a little less spontaneous—maybe a little more stately. I just set these very strict rules whereby I had to cut a lot of strong work.

You could say it’s my response to the famous Edward Steichen exhibit at the MoMA called The Family of Man. It’s this huge, sprawling, very inclusive, democratic, curated show of photos from all over the world that argues, “We’re all in this together,” no matter where you’re from, no matter who you are—rich, poor, old, young. I had tremendous respect for that show and the ambitiousness of it. But I do feel that its thesis is not so accurate, at least these days. I feel that the social fabric is tearing. A quick look at statistics proves this. Do you know the six members of the Walton family who inherited the Wal-Mart fortune? They own more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of America. Given that, it’s very hard to argue that we’re all in one boat together. I think the privileged these days speak a different language, live in different part of the world, play by different rules, have different opportunities and live in a different legal universe than the rest of us.

A 25-year-old British man undergoes surgery to reduce the size of his nose Zed Nelson

MJ: What kind of response you hope to generate, especially given that most people who go to photo galleries and exhibits tend to be at least upper middle class or people of wealth?

ML: All I hope to do is start a conversation about fairness, about our priorities in society, what we value, the values that we celebrate. Are we celebrating a segment of the population that we largely don’t understand and have very little chance of joining in our lifetime? Or do we celebrate something else, a segment of the population that works hard and contributes but finds themselves barely holding on or slowly slipping backwards?

Untitled #5, from “Hedge” Nina Berman/NOOR

MJ: Joseph Stieglitz wrote the forward to the book you’re publishing via Kickstarter. How’d you get him on board?

ML: I found his email and I said, “Hi, I’m Myles.” From everything I’ve heard, Dr. Stieglitz is a very warm and gracious person. I haven’t met him in person. He agreed almost immediately. He’s a Nobel Prize-winning inequality expert with a book called The Great Divide. The other essay in the project is written by Geoff Dyer, the British essayist and photography expert. He’s just a marvelous writer.

Paradise Now Nr. 18. 2008 Peter Bialobrzeski

Shanghai Falling (Fuxing Lu Demolition), 2002 Greg Girard

Gated homes in Henderson, Nevada Michael Light, from Lake Las Vegas/Black Mountain, Radius Books

Scrapper, Packard Motor Car Company plant, Detroit, 2009 Andrew Moore, courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery

Legless star cleaner on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 2005 Juliana Sohn

A street preacher in New York City appeals to Wall Street to repent, 2011 Christopher Anderson/Magnum Photos

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The View From the Top

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Meet the F-Bomb-Spewing Ex-Cop Behind the NRA’s Move to Topple California’s Gun Laws

Mother Jones

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“The NRA asked me to keep my mouth shut, but I’ve never run from a fuckin’ interview in my life,” Edward Peruta barks into the phone. The 66-year-old Vietnam vet, ex-cop, public-access TV host, worm farmer, legal investigator, crime scene videographer, and serial litigant has never been one to hold his tongue, and he’s not about to start now that he’s at the center of a high-profile case that could upend California’s gun laws and wind up before the Supreme Court. “I am who I am,” he says. “People know there’s usually a hurricane comin’ if they step on my rights.”

Peruta is the lead plaintiff in Peruta v. County of San Diego, a federal lawsuit that seeks to overturn California’s system of issuing concealed-weapon permits. Currently, the state’s police chiefs and sheriffs may require applicants to show “good cause” for carrying a concealed gun in public. Such discretion is applied arbitrarily and violates the Second Amendment, according to Peruta and his legal team, which is backed by the National Rifle Association.

That argument swayed two judges on the 9th Circuit Court, who ruled in Peruta’s favor in February. For a moment, it seemed that California would join the 37 “shall issue” states that issue concealed-carry permits to anyone who meets basic requirements such as a background check. Then California Attorney General Kamala Harris successfully petitioned the court to reconsider the ruling en banc. Next Tuesday, an 11-judge panel in San Francisco will hear oral arguments in the case.

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Meet the F-Bomb-Spewing Ex-Cop Behind the NRA’s Move to Topple California’s Gun Laws

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