My guest today is Mark Karlin, editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout. Welcome to OpEdNews, Mark.
JB: You've been covering a number of very interesting news stories. I'd like to focus on a few of them. First, please tell us about the group of young people who has sued the federal government. What's that all about?
MK: It's quite logical and appropriate. After all, it is adults - and generally older ones - who are perpetuating the destructive practices that are causing an acceleration of global warming. However, it is young people who will inherit the toxic and deadly earth-altering conditions created by the pernicious, greed-driven resistance to reducing climate change.
MK: So, the lawsuit by 21 young people described in my commentary, "Youth Sue US Government for Imperiling Their Future Through Inaction on Climate," is entirely understandable. It charges that the federal government has knowingly allowed practices to continue - particularly the minimally regulated use of fossil fuel - that threaten the lives, in the future, of these youth.
The lawsuit is also a shrewd public relations strategy. It refocuses the global warming argument to the devastating impact it will have on our children and grandchildren. That appeals to voters in a different way than just thinking about themselves. The lawsuit forces them to foresee the future of their families - and that is a bleak picture considering the lack of interest the US government has shown in seriously addressing the peril that lies ahead.
JB: What can you tell us about the young people filing this suit? Are they all from the same community, friends and neighbors? How did this come together?
MK: The young people are working with two organizations: Our Children's Trust and Earth Guardians. Obviously, attorneys who are of counsel to the organizations are legally representing the interests of the young people who are suing to ensure livable futures for themselves.
Interestingly, former NASA director James Hansen - a high-profile advocate for taking aggressive action immediately to reduce global warming - supports the lawsuit, and his granddaughter is one of the plaintiffs.
JB: That is interesting! What can this be other than a nuisance lawsuit? Is anyone actually expecting any kind of a legal victory?
MK: As editor of BuzzFlash at Truthout, I can't speak for the intentions of the lawsuit. However, despite the claims of conservative jurists, law is dynamic in the United States. What may appear as an overreaching legal claim today may be tomorrow's precedent in the courts.
Even if at first some lawsuits may appear unwinnable, the legal actions and publicity surrounding them assist in changing how such cases are perceived. After all, it's hard on the merits to deny that young people have a right to take legal action that might save their lives.
JB: True. It'll be interesting on many levels to see how this goes. Let's move on to another topic you've written about: the recent California decision to ban secret grand juries in some cases. What can you tell us about that?
MK: It has a very specific application as signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
The law forbids secret grand juries in California when a government prosecutor is presenting evidence concerning a police officer who killed a person while on duty. This is in reaction to the perception - and, it appears, the general reality - that government prosecutors tend to, although not always, slant cases in favor of police officers who shoot people. This appeared to have happened in how St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert P. McCulloch - it is alleged by many - presented a mish-mosh of contradictory witness statements and random forensic papers to the grand jury investigating the shooting of Michael Brown by former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson.