Home Blog Page 248

Report: Yulia Navalnaya, Alexei Navalny′s wife, in Germany | News | DW


    Yulia Navalnaya, the the wife of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, reportedly flew to Germany on Wednesday, the Interfax news agency reports, citing a “well-informed source.” 

    Navalnaya took a flight from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport to Frankfurt, according to the Russian news outlet.

    The development was later reported by Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine. Though initial reports seemed to hint at the possibility that she had fled Russia, according to Spiegel Yulia Navalnaya was in Germany for a private visit.

    In January, Kremlin critic Navalny was arrested upon his return to Moscow after he spent months in Germany recovering from a poisoning attack that he believes was ordered by the Russian government. The Kremlin has denied any wrongdoing.

    DW’s Natalia Smolentceva tweeted from Frankfurt Airport: “Waiting for Yulia Navalnaya. A passenger from the plane confirmed she was on it.”

    Prison sentence sparks protests

    A Russian court subsequently sentenced Navalny to 3 1/2 years in prison on charges of violating the probation terms of a 2014 embezzlement sentence.

    A clampdown on mass protests following Navalny’s jailing in Jaunary led to the detention of 11,000 people and the prosecution of several of his key aides, such as his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, who is currently under house arrest.

    Navalnaya was among the people detained but was later released.

    Earlier on Wednesday, Russia issued an arrest warrant for Leonid Volkov, another close aide of Navalny’s.

    jsi/dj (Interfax, Reuters)



    Russian Protesters Released From Custody Vow to Fight On


      The time in prison has done little to quench Ruslan Krasnikov’s thirst for change at the helm of Russian government — and to fight for it through street protests. 

      “The protests will continue. People have suffered injustice,” he said Wednesday outside a detention center where he had just spent 10 days in Russia’s second-largest city Saint Petersburg.

      “The discontent with the authorities will only keep growing,” the still pimple-faced 22-year-old added.

      Krasnikov was one of nearly 11,500 Russians detained across the country over a two-week span from late January through early February during protests in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny and against President Vladimir Putin.

      Many were handed fines and short-term prison sentences. Some 50 others deemed to have fought back against law enforcement officials face charges that could see them spend lengthy stints behind bars.

      Citing the mass police crackdown as a reason to regroup, Navalny’s right-hand man Leonid Volkov has called for protests to be put on pause before resuming in spring and summer.

      ‘More angry than before’

      But some young Russians are itching to carry on more than ever.

      “We are more angry with the authorities than before,” said Kirill Smirnov, 28, who spent several days at a detention center in Luga, a town 140 kilometers (87 miles) south of Saint Petersburg.  

      “We are not criminals or extremists, we do not want to throw Molotov cocktails. We are just peaceful citizens who want to live in a just state,” he added.

      Smirnov, who works in IT, said he was angered in particular by how police responded to the protesters.

      He had joined a rally in Saint Petersburg the night Navalny was sentenced to nearly three years in a penal colony for violating the terms of a 2014 suspended sentence for fraud. 

      A judge ruled that Navalny had not checked in with Russia’s prison service while recovering in Germany from a poisoning attack the Kremlin critic blames on Putin.

      Many of those detained by riot police officers that night, Smirnov said, didn’t resist. But those that did — even slightly — faced rough treatment.

      “I saw how the policeman simply dragged a girl who was resisting face down in the snow,” Smirnov said.

      The rough treatment continued for protesters in police custody at stations, where they were held for hours before trial, they said.

      Some reported sleeping on chairs; others on the floor. Several reported they weren’t given food or water. 

      ‘This unity around us’

      But for the dozen protesters that spoke with AFP after their release from detention centers — where they reported better conditions than at the police stations — the experience only cemented in their minds that they wanted to return to the streets. 

      Some pointed to volunteers who tracked down people who had been taken to detention centers outside Saint Petersburg, like the one in Luga, to deliver food and organize legal support, as a sign that people are prepared to fight on. 

      Volunteers also showed up in cars on Wednesday in case released protesters needed a ride home in temperatures that were hovering at -20 degrees Celsius (-4 degrees Fahrenheit).

      For her part, Yelizaveta Burma, a 23-year-old store clerk who was released from the Saint Petersburg detention center Wednesday, said those rallying around her had lifted her spirits.

      “This support from the volunteers, this unity around us is something very cool and strong, something that gives us a lot of happiness and hope,” she said.

      Opinion: The Holocaust and Poland′s good reputation | Opinion | DW


        I recently worked on a report about the murder of an entire Polish family. Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma (who was pregnant) and their six children were executed as punishment for hiding Jews in their home and attempting to rescue them from the Holocaust during World War II. 

        The man suspected of betraying them, a member of the police force put in place by German authorities during the Nazi occupation of Poland, was later murdered by Polish underground resistance fighters.

        His stepdaughter reacted with outrage to academic papers that named him as the person who had denounced the family. In a letter written to a historian, she said that he had been a good person and had “accidentally spilled the beans” about the Ulmas. She did not take the issue to court, however.

        But the 81-year-old niece of a village mayor in eastern Poland during the German occupation did go to court over a similar matter. She brought a case againt two renowned historians who, in a book, quoted a Holocaust survivor as accusing her uncle of betraying the whereabouts of 20 Jews hiding in a forest near the village. She said that her uncle had been acquitted and accused the historians of defaming his memory by not mentioning this.

        A nation of heroes

        But this was basically not at all about the good reputation of one village mayor but about that of Poland as a whole. The Polish League Against Defamation supported the lawsuit. This right-wing nationalist foundation and other far-right groups, as well as Poland’s government, have been fighting vehemently for years against all attempts to identify cases where Poles were complicit in the Nazis’ crimes and the Holocaust. For such cases do not fit in with the ruling Law and Justice Party’s approach to history and its bid to portray Poland solely as a nation of heroes.

        Of course, it is not surprising that Poles do not want to be mentioned in the same breath as Nazi criminals. Without Germany’s invasion of Poland, without the daily terror exercised by the occupiers, there would not have been any denouncing of Jews or pogroms carried out by Poles during this period.

        Nonetheless, it would be wrong to ignore that such things took place and, worse, to downplay these crimes. It is good that the Warsaw judges did not recognize “identity and national pride” as fundamental rights. That would have meant that any Polish citizen could sue anyone who said anything critical about the Polish nation or the Polish state.

        The most ‘Righteous Among the Nations’

        All those in German-occupied Poland who helped Jewish people to escape deportation and extermination risked their lives. Many did so nonetheless, and 7,112 Poles are honored at Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations, making Poles the largest national group by far. And those 7,112 are doubtless not the only one who deserve to be remembered for their services to humanity. 

        But alongside research of heroic deeds such as those of the Ulma family, it must also be possible to fully document cases where Jews were persecuted and who was involved.

        Tuesdays’ ruling, which required the two historians to apologize to the mayor’s niece, is not yet legally binding. The defendants can appeal and will continue to use historic sources to defend their case. So there is still hope for the freedom of research in Poland.

        This article was adapted from German.

         



        While Many GOP Senators Have Been Moved by Impeachment Trial, Rick Scott Calls it a “Complete Waste of Time”


          Yesterday’s impeachment trial of Donald Trump opened with a stirring speech by Congressman Jamie Raskin. And the hearings have only become more emotional since.

          While watching footage of the January 6th insurrection today, Republican Senator James Lankford became visibly upset. A number of GOP lawmakers have commented on how effective the Democratic case has been.

          After watching today’s hearing, South Dakota’s John Thune said, “I think they were very effective. They had a strong, strong presentation put together in a way that I think makes it pretty compelling.”

          Yesterday, another Republican, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana changed his mind on the constitutionality of the case. He told reporters, “House managers were focused, they were organized,” and “made a compelling argument. President Trump’s team were disorganized. They did everything they could but to talk about the question at hand and when they talked about it, they kind of glided over, almost as if they were embarrassed of their arguments.”

          Scott, though, did not feel the same way as his Republican colleagues. “Look,” he said. “I’ve been clear that that I wish the president had said something faster when they broke into it, but, you know, I’ve watched what he said. He’s never said when somebody should break in — [he] actually said that people should do this peacefully. This is a complete waste of time,” he continued. “It’s not doing anything to help American families, it’s not helping people get jobs, it’s not helping get the vaccine out … it’s vindictive.”

          Lawyer Daniel Uhlfelder was quick to point out some of Scott’s history in court rooms. He tweeted, “Rick Scott invoked the 5th amendment against self-incrimination 75 times in his civil depositions.”



          U.S.-China Relations: What Will President Biden Say to Xi Jinping?


            Chinese President Xi Jinping makes statements to the press following his meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the Maximos Mansion in Athens, Greece, November 11, 2019. (Aris Messinis/Pool via Reuters)

            Bloomberg is reporting that Joe Biden’s first call with Xi Jinping, the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, could take place as soon as this evening. That conversation would follow Antony Blinken’s call with Yang Jiechi, the Chinese party-state’s highest-ranking foreign-affairs official, on Friday.

            If Blinken’s conversation with Yang is any indication, the Biden-Xi call can be expected to be frosty; the State Department said that the secretary of state “stressed the United States will continue to stand up for human rights and democratic values, including in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong,” in addition to emphasizing Chinese accountability for its actions with regard to regional stability, Taiwan, and international order.

            Still, Blinken and Biden both have stated a desire to work with Beijing on certain issues where they say that the U.S. and China share common interests, such as climate change. It’s unlikely that Biden will use his first call with the CCP chief to propose such cooperation. Instead, he’s likely to convey a message as adversarial as Blinken’s.

            Whether it’s wise to hold such a call at all is another question. As Blinken and Biden have both acknowledged, the Chinese regime is perpetrating crimes against humanity and genocide against the Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in Xinjiang. And there are other leaders with whom the president should speak before Xi — although he held a call with Benjamin Netanyahu during the transition, Biden, as far as we’re aware, has yet to speak with the Israeli prime minister from the White House.

            What will Biden say to Xi? What does one tell an international criminal carrying out mass atrocities?



            Are any Republican senators listening to the case against Donald Trump? Live coverage #4


              The House impeachment managers kicked off day one of Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial with a searing video of the Capitol attack, reminding senators of the stakes of the trial—and of the danger they had faced—at the beginning of an argument about the constitutionality of impeaching someone after he’s left office. Day two begins the actual arguments for convicting Trump, and it’s expected to bring more video evidence of what Trump incited and how he incited it.

              The arguments will be presented by the nine House impeachment managers, led by Rep. Jamie Raskin. They have 16 hours to make the case over two days before Trump’s alternately incompetent and scary defense has the same amount of time. You can watch on most television news channels or their websites, and Daily Kos will have live coverage.


              Thursday, Feb 11, 2021 · 12:43:42 AM +00:00

              ·
              Barbara Morrill

              The trial is officially adjourned until tomorrow at 12 ET. We’ll be back with live coverage at that time.

              Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021 · 11:34:41 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

              And we’re back, with Rep. David Cicilline walking through Trump’s actions on Jan. 6.

              Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021 · 11:43:10 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

              It will be interesting to see if McCarthy will make any comment on this conversation.

              Conversation between Kevin McCarthy and the White House.
              Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021 · 11:47:49 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

              Rep. Cicilline spending quite a bit of time on the Tuberville call. Because it is seriously jarring.

              Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021 · 11:52:52 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

              Rep. Plaskett’s earlier presentation may have been the most shocking when it came to events on Jan. 6, but Cicilline’s has been almost equally painful just by pointing out Trump’s inaction.

              Rep. Joaquin Castro picking up the story now.

              Wednesday, Feb 10, 2021 · 11:58:03 PM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

              Rep. Castro pointing out the timing of Trump’s tweet about Pence, just as the crowd is chanting “Hang Mike Pence,” and then seeing that crowd reacting to the tweet in real time, has to be one of the most impactful moments of the presentation. 

              Thursday, Feb 11, 2021 · 12:04:49 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

              The focus on Pence has been so important. Those Republican senators are being forced to acknowledge that Trump sent the mob after him, that they intended to kill him. They’re being put in the position of having to betray Pence to stick with Trump.

              Thursday, Feb 11, 2021 · 12:16:32 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

              Rep. Castro’s use of multiple Republicans pleading with Trump during the insurrection to call it off makes that connection pretty darned clear. Every single person–Republican—making those calls knew that Trump incited this and was the only one who could stop it.

              Thursday, Feb 11, 2021 · 12:17:10 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

              Underscoring Trump’s refusal to call on the National Guard, is another powerful point.

              List of those involved in calling National Guard on Jan 6
              Thursday, Feb 11, 2021 · 12:20:37 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

              Rep. Castro: “Senators, Donald Trump left everyone in this Capitol for dead.”

              Thursday, Feb 11, 2021 · 12:32:16 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

              Rep. Castro finishes up the day.

              Sen. Mike Lee rises to say that statements attributed to him were inaccurate. Considering that the only statement attributed to Lee was simply that he wasn’t Tuberville, it’s hard to see what the heck he’s objecting to.

              Thursday, Feb 11, 2021 · 12:38:25 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

              It’s unclear right now what the procedure is for dealing with Sen. Mike Lee’s objection. The parliamentarian has said that Lee’s motion to have his words stricken is out of order. He’s appealed that ruling, so they should be voting on whether he can ask for his words to be stricken. This is a diversionary tactic, Lee trying to seize attention, disrupt things, change the tenor of the day.

              Thursday, Feb 11, 2021 · 12:38:52 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

              What we’re having now is a roll call while everyone tries to figure out just what the hell Mike Lee is on about. Too bad he’s not as upset about someone starting an insurrection as he is about being misquoted in saying “I’m not Tommy.”

              Thursday, Feb 11, 2021 · 12:41:52 AM +00:00 · Mark Sumner

              And, whatever that was, we’re done for the night.

              Thursday, Feb 11, 2021 · 12:42:04 AM +00:00 · Joan McCarter

              So Lee has withdrawn his request, they might have to come back to it tomorrow, but they are now adjourned.

              Trump Impeachment Trial: Ted Cruz Writes It Is Constitutional to Impeach and Convict a Former President


                Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) questions nominee for United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield during her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, January 27, 2021. (Greg Nash/Pool via Reuters)

                On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted on the constitutional question of whether an impeachment trial may be held for Donald Trump now that he is out of office. Six Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in answering that question in the affirmative. Texas senator Ted Cruz was one of the 44 Republicans who voted that former president Donald Trump is not “subject to a court of impeachment for acts committed while president,” but in an article on Fox News, Cruz argues that, in fact, the Constitution does give Congress the authority to impeach and convict a former president.

                Cruz writes: 

                The constitutional question of whether a former president can be impeached or tried after he has left office is a close legal question. On balance, I believe that the better constitutional argument is that a former president can be impeached and tried—that is, that the Senate has jurisdiction to hold a trial.

                However, nothing in the text of the Constitution requires the Senate to choose to exercise jurisdiction. In these particular circumstances, I believe the Senate should decline to exercise jurisdiction—and so I voted to dismiss this impeachment on jurisdictional grounds.

                Cruz seems to have a very esoteric interpretation of the question before the Senate yesterday:

                Importantly, there are two types of jurisdiction: mandatory and discretionary. With mandatory jurisdiction, the tribunal must hear the case; with discretionary jurisdiction, the tribunal can decide whether to exercise its legal authority to hear the case.  For example, the vast majority of the Supreme Court’s caseload arises on discretionary jurisdiction—it has the authority to hear most cases, but it doesn’t have to do so.

                And nothing in the Constitution makes the Senate’s impeachment jurisdiction mandatory. “Sole power” means “sole power”—the Senate can decide whether to hear the case. 

                The present impeachment is an exercise of partisan retribution, not a legitimate exercise of constitutional authority. 

                In other words, Cruz seems to have skipped to the conclusion of the impeachment trial. “On the merits, President Trump’s conduct does not come close to meeting the legal standard for incitement — the only charge brought against him,” Cruz writes. Having reached that conclusion before the impeachment trial began, Cruz works backward to argue that the trial is unconstitutional.

                I’m unaware of any other Senate Republican who shares Cruz’s view of Tuesday’s vote on the constitutionality of the trial.

                It’s not money problems that bring together far-right fascists. It’s the fascism


                  None of those red hats say ‘Please Reform American Foreclosure Laws’

                  On Wednesday, The Washington Post had a rundown of the (ahem) economic troubles prevalent among those arrested for attempting a violent insurrection inside the U.S. Capitol, and it’s been getting (ahem) quite a bit of pushback on the internets because there are a great, great many people inside the United States of Pandemic right now who are in considerably more dire economic distress than any of these violent delusional processed cheese slices and have never even contemplated attempting to kidnap members of the presidential line of secession in order to overturn an election that some faux-rich narcissistic con artist thought he could overturn if he stacked up enough bodies and pushed them through the right doors.

                  The short version of the Post‘s reporting: “Nearly 60 percent” of those charged so far in the wake of the January 6 insurrection “showed signs of prior money troubles,” from bad debts to evictions to unpaid taxes. That includes the Texas realtor now infamous for taking a private plane to an attempted coup, who is “still paying off a $37,000 lien for unpaid federal taxes” and had previous tax problems a decade earlier.

                  From there, we get some discussion as to whether these money troubles contributed to the radicalization of this confederacy of assholes, and the reminder that “business owners and white-collar workers” made up a goodly chunk of the seditionists, and that this too matches up with previous research on past far-right extremist groups. What’s not evident is whether 60% of any group of random Americans could be shown to have money troubles in the last decade, given that we had just come out from a massive recession and are currently in another one.

                  It makes perfect sense that those participating in semi-organized militias would be middle or upper class seditionists, because you have to have a fair wad of disposable income in order to buy a roomful of weapons, ammo, and associated militia funtime cosplay gear. It makes a lot of sense that the people most devoted to Donald Freaking Trump would be people who also played fast and loose with tax laws, or people who were more prone than not to skipping out on their debts.

                  If you want proof of either of those, you needn’t go farther than your average pro-Trump boat parade. These aren’t necessarily people who are economically suffering. They might be people more familiar than most with trying to get away with financial malfeasance.

                  What is self-evident is that the Trumpian right, like all far-right movements, is a reactionary movement made up of people who feel the world has wronged them in some not necessarily coherent way and who are extremely susceptible to suggestions that it is the fault of ethnic minorities, religious minorities, or both. If they have a tax lien on their properties (even while most of those around them don’t have any property to put under lien in the first place), it must be because migrants have it Too Good These Days. If they lose their jobs due to a pandemic, they are not willing to entertain the notion that it was mere genetic happenstance that let such a thing loose—it must have been an intentional plot by The Communists.

                  Many, if not the vast majority, of Americans have faced financial problems in their lifetimes. Few turn into flag-waving, government-attacking fascists.

                  So this may be barking up the wrong tree, as far as attempting to find a connection between fascist Trump supporters and the alleged economic anxieties, rather than white supremacy-based authoritarianism, that drove them to such a point. A far more solid predictor of violence remains the obvious one: Already having a past history of violence. Those who resort to violence to solve their own personal problems are already predisposed to look to violence to solve the larger problems too; both the “Proud Boys” and dozens upon dozens of far-right militias demonstrate what happens when the violence-eager find each other, get gallons upon gallons of booze into their bloodstreams, and start looking to act out on their inner fantasies.

                  If there is anything that truly binds those assembled by Trump to act as the bodies in his attempted overthrow of government, however, it is a seemingly unending gullibility, a willingness to follow pleasing delusions over less pleasing realities, and above all a reversion to something between childlike denial and genuine stupor when called to account.

                  x

                  These are grown adults, with jobs and checking accounts and phone bills to pay. You wouldn’t know that from their court pleadings, which have tended to portray each of them as young gullible wisps who floated into the U.S. Capitol, under the smoke of tear gas and over the bodies of police and protesters alike, because a breeze just happened to blow them that direction.

                  Yeah, these do seem to be the sort of people who would find themselves in trouble more often than most, financial or otherwise. I mean, look at them.



                  National Anthem & Political Protests: Fans Can Find Other Things to Watch


                    General view of Capital One Arena during the national anthem before a game between the Washington Wizards and the Atlanta Hawks, January 29, 2021. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)

                    I’m not quite on the same page with Rich on Mark Cuban’s effort to halt the anthem protests by halting the anthem’s playing. I wrote about this over the summer, in connection with the NBA-inspired boycotts:

                    The Left ruins everything.

                    I know, I know; you want to blame conservatives, too. Well, yes, we do want norms respected and preserved. I would like everyone to stand in unison for the national anthem: a couple of minutes that invite our attention to being one national community, to forebears who sacrificed for the preservation of our free society, to the duty of preserving it for our children.

                    That is what I’d like . . . but I do not insist on it.

                    We’re about pluralism, not my way or the highway. “The Star Spangled Banner,” which was not even the national anthem until 1931, was not routinely played before sporting events until World War II. I have no sympathy for the racialist indictment against the anthem or the American flag, but I respect your right to believe that indictment and take offense at patriotic displays. We are talking here about coming together to enjoy a ballgame, not to air our political disputes. I wish patriotic displays were not controversial, but fine: If playing the anthem sullies the experience for a sizable number of fans, let’s not do it. There are plenty of other forums for arguing politics and wondering whether a nation can remain a nation if its symbols repel a critical mass of its people.

                    I haven’t changed my mind in the ensuing months. I wish we had enough national unity that the playing of the anthem were not controversial. I wish the Left had not made such inroads that it is considered credible to equate displays of patriotism with racism. That may be a fringe sensibility, though I fear it is more than that. The sensibility punches above its weight, in any event, because people who are prominent in popular culture and the media espouse or sympathize with it. In point of the fact, part of what makes the country great is that we guarantee the right to believe and act on such slanderous ideas, as long as it is done peaceably and lawfully.

                    In this last awful year, when sports were needed more than ever as a distraction, I’ve watched less pro- and college-sports coverage than ever. The protests and the incessant woke messaging are the main reason. I’m too in love with sports to tune them out completely, but I have a much lower aggravation threshold than I used to. If what you love becomes a constant irritant, you learn to love it less.

                    Anyway, I’d rather the teams refrained from playing the anthem than that it be expected that I simply accept the displays of contempt for my country as if I endorsed them. The leagues are fully within their rights to permit this behavior, but the rest of us are within our rights to find other things to watch.

                    Texas & Planned Parenthood: District Judge Blocks Effort to Defund Abortion Provider


                    An pro-life marcher during the 46th annual March for Life at the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., January 18, 2019. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

                    Last week, just as Texas was set to officially defund Planned Parenthood, a district judge in Travis County sided with a complaint from the abortion group and blocked the move. After a brief hearing, district judge Maya Guerra Gamble granted Planned Parenthood a 14-day temporary restraining order against Texas’s effort to remove the group from the state Medicaid program.

                    According to Planned Parenthood’s complaint, the state failed to follow the correct legal process for removing the group’s funding. The group asserts that the state’s termination letter did not give reasonable notice or a chance for a hearing, though Texas officials did inform Planned Parenthood in writing on January 4 that its status as a Medicaid provider would be revoked in 30 days.

                    What’s more, Texas has been attempting to remove Planned Parenthood from the state Medicaid program for about five years, a move that the group challenged every step of the way.

                    Last November, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Texas, deciding that Medicaid patients may not challenge a state’s determination about whether any given provider is qualified to serve the Medicaid program.

                    Following that decision, Texas was set to move forward this month with the defunding effort, which began in 2015 after undercover video footage showed that Planned Parenthood affiliates — including Texas’s Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast — had been illegally profiting from the sale of fetal body parts of aborted babies.

                    In response to Planned Parenthood’s latest legal challenge, Texas officials have pointed out that its initial notice terminating the group’s Medicaid status, sent in January 2016, complied with all applicable laws. There will be a hearing next week before the same district judge who blocked the defunding, set to decide whether she will issue an injunction to maintain Planned Parenthood’s status as a Medicaid provider.

                    Rachel Maddow Unloads On The 44 Republicans Who Voted To Kill The Senate Impeachment Trial


                      During her program on Tuesday night, Rachel Maddow unloaded on the 44 Republican senators who voted against moving forward with Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.

                      The MSNBC host called the latest GOP argument against impeachment nonsensical, particularly because it’s the exact opposite of what they were saying just a few weeks ago.

                      “Today, 44 out of 50 Republican senators voted that this Senate impeachment trial right now shouldn’t be happening at all, voting essentially that this trial could have only happened while Trump was still president, even though they themselves were the ones who blocked that from happening when they were in charge,” Maddow said.

                      Video:

                      Maddow said:

                      Well, today, 44 out of 50 Republican senators voted that this Senate impeachment trial right now shouldn’t be happening at all, voting essentially that this trial could have only happened while Trump was still president, even though they themselves were the ones who blocked that from happening when they were in charge. They were the ones who insisted that there would be no trial while Trump was in office. They now say because he wasn’t tried while he was in office, he should not be tried at all. They will not allow him to be tried while he’s president, and they will not allow him to be tried after he’s president, and that’s how they roll. And that’s what we know.

                      First it was too soon, now it’s too late

                      If Republicans wanted to come off as credible in their argument against Donald Trump’s impeachment and conviction, they could have at least remained consistent.

                      Instead, they bent themselves into a pretzel over the past month, first saying that Trump’s impeachment was too soon, and then voting on Tuesday to declare the trial unconstitutional, arguing that it’s too late.

                      While the GOP argument against Trump’s impeachment trial has been all over the place, one thing has been consistently clear: Republicans are too cowardly to put their country before Donald Trump.

                      Follow Sean Colarossi on Facebook and Twitter



                      Trump Impeachment — Rep. Jamie Raskin Opens Trial with January 6 Capitol Riot Video


                        House impeachment managers led by Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Md.) arrive outside the Senate Chamber as the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump begins on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., February 9, 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

                        The first moments of a trial are often the most important. It is when the lawyer prosecuting the case has the jury’s complete attention. It is the moment when that lawyer has the best opportunity the prosecution will ever have to make an impression that conveys what the case is about.

                        A year ago, in President Trump’s first impeachment trial over the Ukraine kerfuffle, the beginning of the trial was consumed with dry, abstruse legal argument. Much of America tuned out.

                        Today’s second impeachment trial was also slated to begin with dry, abstruse legal argument on a constitutional issue of the Senate’s jurisdiction to conduct the trial. After a few seconds of throat clearing on that topic, though, Representative Jamie Raskin (D., Md.), the chief House impeachment manager, cut to a very powerful video, illustrating hair-raising images of rioters storming the Capitol after marching on it at Trump’s urging.

                        The images starkly showed that the violence went on for hours. Interspersed with portions of Trump’s incendiary speech, we were shown security forces being brutally assaulted; the constitutionally required joint session of Congress being disrupted and halted; endangered lawmakers taking cover as the vice president was whisked to safety; the frantic seconds before a Trump supporter was shot and killed in the melee; rioters demanding that congressional proceedings halt and flooding through the hall seeking out lawmakers and ransacking offices. The video also elucidated that, hours after his speech exhorting the crowd to pressure weak Republicans and Vice President Pence to refuse to count the states’ electoral votes, while mayhem was still going on at the Capitol, President Trump finally released a video calling for peace. But even as he asked supporters to go home, he continued to fan the flames by insisting that the election had been stolen. As the video showed, the rioters expressly purported to have stormed the Capitol to stop the election from being stolen.

                        The video had utterly nothing to do with the stated purpose for which Congressman Raskin had been recognized — namely, to address the Senate regarding a disputed point of constitutional law. And you know what? It was an extremely effective way to begin.

                        It won’t change the outcome. Former President Trump is going to be acquitted. But Democrats are not actually going through this exercise with real hope of having Trump convicted and disqualified. They are doing it for the political purpose of portraying Republicans who stand up at the end of the trial and vote “not guilty” as, in effect, endorsing what we saw on the video. That is why they came out of the starting gate with it.

                        The House managers would like to call witnesses, present lots more video evidence, and present their case like a real prosecution. To the contrary, the Democratic administration and congressional leadership have apparently decided to streamline the trial to just a few days. Either way, starting with the video was good trial strategy and good political strategy.

                        Fossil fuels kill 8.7 million people a year; climate crisis an eco-justice issue


                          Michael Mann.

                          MICHAEL MANN WANTS COURT TO CONFIRM THE TRUTH OF HIS CLIMATE SCIENCE

                          More than eight years ago, noted Penn State climate scientist Michael Mann threatened to sue two right-wing bloggers and their publishers for defamation. Both the anti-regulation think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and the National Review magazine defended attacks on Mann’s scientific conclusions and compared him to Jerry Sandusky, the Penn State assistant football coach convicted of child sexual abuse. Both CEI and the magazine dared Mann to take them to court so that, in the words of National Review editor Rich Lowry, they could hire a “dedicated reporter to comb through” the material and expose Mann’s “methods and maneuverings to the world.” The lawsuit was initiated. And now, fed up with the delay, on Jan. 22 Mann filed a motion for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to rule that the two organizations have failed to provide evidence disproving his scientific findings. Mann’s attorneys, on the other hand, have produced more than 1 million documents in the defamation suit. This includes all the background material for his 1998-1999 papers showing temperature rise in what has come to be called the “Hockey Stick” graph. The defamation case could fail in court based on claims that what they published, even if false, is protected free speech. But whether that happens or not, Mann wants the validity of the science confirmed by the court. “For years, the defendants have been boasting that they wanted to get us into court so they could question us under oath. For years they have been boasting that the documents they would subpoena from us would prove that the hockey stick research was improperly manipulated,” Mann told Marianne Lavelle at Inside Climate News through his attorneys. “They came up with nothing. And they came up with nothing because their statements were absolutely baseless, to the extent that even their own witnesses had to acknowledge that there was no fraud, no deception, no corruption, no misconduct.”

                          ACT TO EXTEND RENEWABLES AND ENERGY STORAGE TAX CREDITS REINTRODUCED IN CONGRESS

                          Rep. Mike Thompson of California reintroduced the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act on Friday. The act would extend solar and wind energy tax credits for five years, expand incentives for electric vehicles and energy efficiency, and add new credits for energy storage that would last until 2028. Environment America’s Renewable Energy Advocate Ben Sonnega said in a statement: “Clean energy tax credits are an important tool for helping America transition to 100 percent renewable energy. Think of them like a power drill in the process of building a comprehensive renewable energy future. They’re reliable, their application is wide-reaching and they’re absolutely necessary if we are going to change the way we approach energy consumption.”

                          FOSSIL FUELS KILL NEARLY 9 MILLION PEOPLE A YEAR

                          According to a new study by researchers at Harvard and three British universities, 8.7 million people died because of burning fossil fuels in 2018. That’s double the World Health Organization’s 2017 estimate of deaths caused by air pollution. And it is one of every five people who died worldwide. “There’s a perception in the United States that we have this under control, but that’s a mistake,” Joel Schwartz, a Harvard professor and one of the study’s authors, told the Boston Globe. The annual U.S. death toll from fossil fuel-caused air pollution? 350,000. Eloise Marais, a geographer at University College London and a study co-author, told The Guardian, “We were initially very hesitant when we obtained the results because they are astounding, but we are discovering more and more about the impact of this pollution. It’s pervasive.”

                          MOST AMERICANS SEE THE CLIMATE CRISIS AS AN ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ISSUE

                          While the majority (84%) of Americans agree that climate change harms some people more than others, identifying impacted groups who bear the burden indicates that some have not yet made the connection. Most Americans (75%) accurately recognize that young people and future generations experience disproportionate harm and 67% understand that low income, rural, and labor communities do as well. A look at political affiliation shows differences in understanding or recognition of climate change harms. 66% of Republicans said they do not believe climate change disproportionately harms any of these groups, roughly 30 percentage points more than Democrats (35%) and Independents (36%). 

                          ScreenShot2021-02-09at12.05.42PM.png

                          STUDY: Anthropogenic climate change is worsening ALLERGIES

                          The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Monday, shows that pollen seasons start 20 days earlier, are 10 days longer, and spread 21% more pollen than they did in 1990. The research is summed up by the authors in their abstract:

                          Airborne pollen has major respiratory health impacts and anthropogenic climate change may increase pollen concentrations and extend pollen seasons. While greenhouse and field studies indicate that pollen concentrations are correlated with temperature, a formal detection and attribution of the role of anthropogenic climate change in continental pollen seasons is urgently needed. Here, we use long-term pollen data from 60 North American stations from 1990 to 2018, spanning 821 site-years of data, and Earth system model simulations to quantify the role of human-caused climate change in continental patterns in pollen concentrations. We find widespread advances and lengthening of pollen seasons (+20 d) and increases in pollen concentrations (+21%) across North America, which are strongly coupled to observed warming. […] Our results reveal that anthropogenic climate change has already exacerbated pollen seasons in the past three decades with attendant deleterious effects on respiratory health.

                          STUDY: TO MEET PARIS climate GOALS, EMISSION CUTS WILL HAVE TO be 80% more ambitious

                          Four years ago, a study found that even if every nation the signed the Paris Agreement in 2015, the Earth only has a 5% chance of staying below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100. A new study reiterates that pledged emissions reductions give us only that 5% chance. But if reductions were around 80% more ambitious—averaging a 1.8% rather than a 1% annual drop—it would be enough to meet the climate agreement’s stated goal, according to the analysis published Tuesday in the open-access journal Communications Earth & Environment. “A number of people have been saying, particularly in the past few years, that the emissions targets need to be more ambitious,” said lead author Adrian Raftery, a University of Washington professor of statistics. “We went beyond that to ask in a more precise way: How much more ambitious do they need to be?” Niklas Höhne, a German climatologist and founding partner of NewClimate Institute, told Brady Dennis in a Washington Post interview, “Time is running out. The longer we wait, the more difficult it will be to turn emissions downward.”


                          DeJoy is plotting additional, imminent moves to destroy the Postal Service. He has to be stopped


                            DeJoy has still got to go.

                            The U.S. Postal Service, still reeling from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s sabotage to help the Trump campaign; the spread of COVID-19; and the huge increase in mail because of the pandemic, was able to deliver just 71% of first class mail on time by the end of last year, as opposed to 92% in January 2020. On-time delivery of non-first class mail dropped to 38% last month, from 79% the year before. But DeJoy isn’t done yet and is about to unveil his vision for the agency, which includes even deeper service cuts, more expensive postage and services, and lower delivery commitments. That means he is still intent on destroying the institution on behalf of the corporate delivery entities in which he has investments—the very ones he’s been entering the USPS into service agreements with. Yes, he needs to be ousted and soon, before he can do any more damage.

                            That and other things are on the agenda in Congress and, hopefully, the White House. Democratic lawmakers are urging President Biden to fill all the vacancies on the Postal Service Board of Governors and have them oust DeJoy. That would be the fastest and most efficient way to Trump-proof the agency, since the existing board members are all cronies of Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. Biden appears to have that on his agenda, the White House said in a statement to NBC’s Geoff Bennett, with the president preparing to “nominat[e] officials who reflect his commitment to the workers of the US Postal Service—who deliver on the post office’s vital universal service obligation.” His timeline, however, wasn’t mentioned. The White house points out that only the board of governors can boot DeJoy, but goes on to say that there are “currently three vacancies on the nine member board, with a fourth who is serving a hold-over year. […] As these are Senate confirmed positions, we will work closely with the Senate to move these nominations forward.”

                            There are two Democrats on the board now. One of them is Ron Bloom, whose term expired in December but who can serve for another year. Lee Moak is the other Democrat, though he was appointed by Trump and denied that DeJoy was acting politically in his sabotage efforts. With three more appointments including the chairman—a seat held by a member of the president’s party—Moak can be pressured into supporting Biden and boot DeJoy. There’s an argument that DeJoy could be impeached, but this would be a much more efficient and sure way of ousting him, which needs to happen sooner rather than later.

                            Congress can, of course, bring other changes. They’ve already introduced legislation to help restore the USPS’s finances by rescinding the law that requires the agency to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of retiree benefits. The agency is billions in debt because of that obligation, a debt which has given DeJoy and the Republican board more leverage for their “reforms.” That’s got support even from a conservative think tank. “Even if you had postal reform that only dealt with [pre-funding], it would take a really divisive issue off the table,” Kevin Kosar, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, told The Washington Post. “It’s an elegant solution that appeals to the left and the right because no stakeholder has to suffer.”

                            Another solution that Democrats have been pushing for years is to expand the services the USPS offers to include postal banking. Last fall, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, and Vermont’s Independent Bernie Sanders reintroduced the Postal Banking Act. It’s not yet been reintroduced in this Congress, but likely will be. Postal banking would do two huge things: help the Postal Service with much-needed revenue, and help the more than 7 million unbanked Americans with options for checking and savings accounts, bill payments, small loans, and low-fee ATMs. It would save consumers from having to resort to payday lenders and check-cashing businesses. Back in 2014, the USPS inspector general estimated it could generate as much as $9 billion in revenue every year for the agency. If that was implemented, and the benefits pre-funding requirement was rescinded, the USPS would be on sound financial footing and could be restored to the institution that the nation has revered for centuries.



                            China — Tom Friedman’s Warped Love Affair with Communist China


                              Chinese President Xi Jinping claps his hands at the opening session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China May 22, 2020. (Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

                              In 2009, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote these words:

                              One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.

                              Now, certainly, a rejection of basic human rights and dignity isn’t ideal, but has Tom told you about the solar panels?

                              Like many left-wingers fixated on the “climate crisis,” Friedman suffers from an acute case of authoritarian envy. Friedman’s focus of adoration is Xi Jinping and the People’s Republic of China, the world’s largest one-party state tyranny. On Chris Cuomo’s CNN show this week, the Pulitzer Prize–winner “was thinking, like, what are they doing in China today?”

                              Friedman imagines that 1.3 billion Chinese are contemplating serious environmental matters rather than wasting their time with a “knucklehead” like CNN fixation Marjorie Taylor Greene:

                              “They were probably thinking about some bad stuff with the Uyghurs and all of that, oh, for sure, but I guarantee you they weren’t wasting their time on this nonsense.”

                              I doubt the Chinese are “thinking about” the Uyghurs, since there’s no critical press allowed in China. But yes, Americans should be thankful that they don’t have to think about the sadistic state-sanctioned torture of women with electric batons, or the gang rape of 20-year-olds in front of hundreds of detainees, or genocide — at least, not in America.

                              Friedman once famously fantasized about America being “China for a day” so that “we could actually, you know, authorize the right solutions.” This isn’t just the rationalization used by every tyrant in history, but it’s also puerile. China isn’t interested in Friedman’s “right solutions.” Instead, it is building 250 new coal-powered plants right now — enough to power all of Germany.

                              Still, if, in your hierarchy of values, green public transportation sits above basic liberties, you end up saying things such as:

                              You know, Chris, do you know that it takes four hours and 18 minutes to take the bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai? And it takes 21 hours to take the train from New York to Chicago. And they’re both about the same distance.

                              Yeah, well, it takes fewer than three hours to take a plane from New York to Chicago, and we don’t even have to open concentration camps in order to pay for it.

                              David Harsanyi is a senior writer for National Review and the author of First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun




                              Bruce Springsteen: The Real Problem with the Super Bowl Ad


                                Bruce Springsteen arrives for the world premiere of Western Stars at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Canada, September 12, 2019. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

                                There was a fair amount of buzz last night and this morning about Bruce Springsteen’s Jeep commercial during the Super Bowl, which traveled to a deep-red small town in Kansas to call for unity:

                                Some of the response was the usual complaint from Bruce’s usual critics: He’s a millionaire rock star from New Jersey posing as a heartland guy, etc. But that’s not really the problem with the ad. Bruce did, after all, grow up in a working-class household in a working class town, however long ago that was now. And performers have their own identity they develop in their art. Despite living most of his life in Jersey and the rest in a brief interlude in California, Bruce has put a lot of his artistic energy over the years into the American heartland, starting with his long drives out West that led him to write “Badlands” and “The Promised Land” in the late 1970s, and culminating in the Western Stars album released in 2019. The Jeep ad continued the visual imagery of Western Stars, even using the same filmmaker who did the Western Stars film.

                                The real problem is this: Bruce is, by now, well-known as a Democratic partisan. He hit the campaign trail for John Kerry, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden. He performed for Biden’s inauguration. For a celebrity so identified with one party to go to the other side’s turf after his side has won the election and call for unity is not really an effective tactic. People see it for what it is: We won, now get together behind us. I don’t doubt that Bruce is disturbed by where the descent into mad tribalism has taken us in the past twelve months — who isn’t? — but you can spend your credibility on partisanship, or you can spend it on unity. Either is an honorable choice. But nobody can do both.

                                House Dem Calls Trump’s Impeachment Trial An Open-And-Shut Case


                                  Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) called Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial – set to start on Tuesday – an open-and-shut case against the ex-president.

                                  During an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Rep. Jackson Lee laid out Trump’s long line of actions that demonstrated his lack of respect for democracy and the rule of law, particularly when it came to accepting the results of the 2020 election.

                                  “He predicted that he might not allow a peaceful transfer of power,” the Democratic lawmaker said. “He never admitted that he adhered to the law and order of this nation, and he was right.”

                                  “He clearly became an insurrectionist president,” she added.

                                  Video:

                                  Rep. Jackson Lee said:

                                  I have seen now four impeachment proceedings, including one of a judge. And it was evident as the election proceeded in 2016 that this campaign and this president and this person, Donald J. Trump, had an irreverence … for democracy, for order, for aw and order, for respect, for dignity and he carried that through the campaign right into the United States presidency. That was evidenced by his reckless engagement with Russia, his inviting the Russian ambassador, if you will, to the White House, by leaking classified information, by getting into fights with people of different racial backgrounds, by insulting African American women, Congressional Black Caucus members, as well as other members of Congress. He was just irreverent and he clearly was someone that was not Lincoln-esque, he was not a respecter of democracy and it continued as evidenced by his actions with Ukraine and his blatant discussion with the president of Ukraine of what you can do for me. That led, of course, to his prediction. He predicted that he might not allow a peaceful transfer of power. He was asked several times during the campaign and he was glib but he is never precise, he never admitted that he adhered to the law and order of this nation, and he was right. And he proceeded for months after November to talk about, the election was stolen. He clearly became an insurrectionist president.

                                  Trump is clearly guilty of inciting the Jan. 6 attack

                                  Given how broken the modern Republican Party is, getting enough Senate votes to convict Donald Trump will likely be an uphill climb for the impeachment managers.

                                  But that doesn’t mean the case against Trump isn’t strong. In fact, Trump’s guilt is clear, even if the GOP refuses to acknowledge it with their votes.

                                  For months, Trump constructed a dangerous lie about the election being stolen from him, all because he was and is emotionally incapable of accepting defeat. This lie stirred up his supporters for weeks, until they finally showed up in D.C. and fought back, as the ex-president instructed.

                                  Had Donald Trump simply acknowledged – like an adult – that he lost the election and conceded gracefully to Joe Biden, the events of Jan. 6 would have never happened, and those who died in the attack would still be alive.

                                  Follow Sean Colarossi on Facebook and Twitter



                                  Rachel Maddow Busts Mitch McConnell For Trying To Have It Both Ways On Trump’s Impeachment


                                    Rachel Maddow tore into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Monday night for trying to have it both ways on impeachment by initially arguing that it was too soon to start a trial but now saying it’s too late.

                                    “McConnell refused to recall the Senate so they could start the Senate trial while Trump was still president,” the MSNBC host said. “Once Trump was gone, McConnell voted with all those other Republicans to say this trial really should have started while he was still president, and now it’s too late.”

                                    Though McConnell initially wanted to give off the impression that he was happy with Trump’s impeachment and open to conviction, he is really no different from his Republican colleagues who want to throw out the trial altogether.

                                    Video:

                                    Maddow said:

                                    McConnell refused to recall the Senate so they could start the Senate trial while Trump was still president. They didn’t start to trial until after Trump was gone. And once Trump was gone, McConnell voted with all those other Republican to say, this trial really should have started while he was still president and now it’s too late. It’s like if your gym teacher made you keep running laps even after the bell went off and then sent you to the principal’s office because you were late to the next class. ‘You were the one who was making me run laps!’ ‘Go to the principal’s office, what did I tell you?’ The Democrats would have happily acceded to Trump being put on trial while he was still president. It was Mitch McConnell who stopped them doing that, and now it is Mitch McConnell saying, ‘Well, it’s too late now.’ He can’t be tried while he’s president, nor can he be tried after he’s president. But Senator McConnell wants everybody to know just how much he wants Donald Trump to be held accountable for what he did.

                                    McConnell is trying to have it both ways

                                    For four years, Mitch McConnell humored Donald Trump and refused to hold him accountable as he abused his office and trampled all over the U.S. Constitution.

                                    All McConnell cared about was ramming through judicial appointments and passing tax cuts for the wealthy.

                                    During Trump’s first Senate impeachment trial, McConnell didn’t even allow witnesses. He and nearly every GOP senator voted to acquit the corrupt and dangerous president.

                                    Had McConnell and his Republican colleagues done their job during Trump’s first impeachment trial, the country wouldn’t have had to live through the tragic events of Jan. 6.

                                    Mitch McConnell is trying to have it both ways on impeachment, but he’ll never be able to escape his role in allowing Donald Trump to bring American democracy to its knees.

                                    Follow Sean Colarossi on Facebook and Twitter



                                    How Much More Should We Pay for Costco’s Chickens?


                                      An aerial view of a Costco in Upper Merion Township, Penn., May 21, 2020 (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

                                      New York Times columnist Nick Kristof wrote one of his periodic columns decrying industrial methods of animal husbandry. This time, he focused on chickens and the raising methods that permit Costco to sell a whole rotisserie chicken for only $4.99. From, “The Ugly Secrets Behind the Costco Chicken:”

                                      Rotisserie chickens selling for just $4.99 each are a Costco hallmark, both delicious and cheap. They are so popular they have their own Facebook page, and the company sells almost 100 million of them a year. But an animal rights group called Mercy for Animals recently sent an investigator under cover to work on a farm in Nebraska that produces millions of these chickens for Costco, and customers might lose their appetite if they saw inside a chicken barn.

                                      “It’s dimly lit, with chicken poop all over,” said the worker, who also secretly shot video there. “It’s like a hot humid cloud of ammonia and poop mixed together.”

                                      I have seen so many lies issued by animal-rights activists about real and supposed abuses, including doctored videos, that I take anything they say with a chunk of salt. But there is no question that with 330 million Americans to feed, industrial methods of raising chickens are not Old McDonald’s Farm.

                                      Kristof does not make an argument based in “animal rights.” That’s good. Animal rights is an ideology that attributes equal moral value between animals and human beings based on the capacity to suffer. As Ingrid Newkirk, PETA’s alpha wolf, once infamously put it, “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” Animal-rights activists believe that humans should not be allowed legally to own any animal.

                                      Animal welfare is a wholly different concept. Animal-welfare advocacy flows directly from human exceptionalism. In this view, we certainly are morally entitled to benefit from the instrumental use of animals; i.e., eat meat, conduct essential medical experiments, ride horses, own pets, etc. But because we are human, we have the duty to treat animals humanely, a concept that will vary from animal to animal and hopefully will improve over time as we gain more knowledge about methods to minimize animal suffering.

                                      In his piece, Kristof focuses on the treatment of the birds. That’s important. But so is the human benefit received from industrial animal agriculture. Because of industrial chicken breeding, a family of 4 can be fed nutritiously for five bucks. That’s a big deal that should not be minimized in the discussion.

                                      So, how much would a Costco chicken cost if industrial methods were outlawed? I don’t know, and Kristof apparently didn’t care enough to do the research required to find out. Indeed, he doesn’t seem much c0ncerned with the question at all.

                                      But we need to think about it. If eliminating industrial methods would not lead to a shortage of chickens for consumption and only raised the price to, say $5.25, most people would probably say go for it. If an incremental improvement led to that price, few would object. I know I wouldn’t.

                                      But what if severe shortages resulted and the price doubled to $9.99? I could afford that, but millions of our fellow Americans could not.

                                      Ditto eggs. I always buy eggs that are labeled as coming from cage-free hens. That costs about $4.99–$5.99 a dozen. But there are also unlabeled eggs in my local store at $1.19 a dozen, which I assume come from hens kept in crates.

                                      It would be easy for me to support a law requiring that all egg-laying hens be kept out of crates. But I can afford the increased price. There are a lot of people who could not.

                                      Follow this pattern over the scope and breadth of bringing meat and dairy products into our homes, and the impact of too-onerous animal-welfare laws on the diets of people of limited means becomes clear.

                                      My point definitely isn’t that we should be indifferent to the treatment of food animals (although I have been accused mendaciously of having that view). To the contrary, I think that animal welfare is an important moral concern.

                                      But there are two sides to that question, both of which must be addressed if we are to find the right balance between requiring improved methods and our ability to feed the multitudes. It seems to me that those who advocate outlawing industrial methods have the burden of not only decrying the treatment of animals, but also of demonstrating that the impact on people would not be unduly severe. Kristof failed that test in his most recent column.

                                      Guess who may have made up to $640 million from ‘outside income’ while in the White House?


                                        CREW points out Ivanka’s ownership stake in Trump’s Washington, D.C.. hotel, the one that overcharged and housed every pay-to-play player over the past four years. But here the finances begin to get very muddy. Ivanka and Jared’s financial disclosures combine for somewhere between $23,791,645 and $120,676,949 in outside income for the 2020-2021 year. They include the amazing move by Ivanka to cut the value of her previous years’ stake in the D.C. hotel from “between $5 and $25 million as reported in her previous disclosures to $100,001 to $250,000.” This coincided with the final year in office and … an emerging pandemic. Stroke of luck, I guess?

                                        Remember when they helped U.S. relations in India? You don’t? That’s because they didn’t.

                                        Jared on the other hand, kept his ethically bankrupt interests in Cadre, the real estate technology company that benefited the most from his and Ivanka’s stay at the White House.  This was the company that had Jared seemingly in the hole for around $1 billion when his daddy-in-law Donald took office. This is the same company debt that Kushner conveniently left off his financial disclosure forms. (Side note: Kushner got some of the original seed money he owed from right-wing boogie man George Soros.*) Subsequently, Ivanka began getting trademark deals from Russia and China, and Cadre got lots of secret funding from foreign investors. Then, Ivanka won the Chinese trademark lottery—34 Ivanka trademarks!—coinciding with her father publicly vowing to save China telecom giant ZTE.

                                        Meanwhile, Jared reportedly created a shell company that was used to pay out Trump family members to the tune of more than half a billion dollars from the Trump campaign war chest. To top it off, whatever money deals Jared and Ivanka have been making behind the scenes with foreign bagmen, none of it has translated into anything resembling benefits for America or Americans. In fact, we are in a global pandemic where the logistics of vaccines and vaccine rollouts have been in large part delayed and spotty due to the greed and incompetence of Jared Kushner and his cronies. How much Jared and Ivanka made off of Trump’s campaign war chest or by self-dealing Trump’s inaugural committee funds is still under numerous investigations.

                                        These two rich kids have a long history of being exactly as superficial and elitist and mediocre as one could imagine. Whether it was forcing American taxpayers to foot a $3,000-per-month bill because they refused to allow their Secret Service detail to use of even one of their reported six bathrooms, or just blatantly lying about their crapulence as people, Trump and Kushner have shown that we have generations of born rich corruption still ahead of us.

                                        Big businesses have shown that they will support the most incompetent people like the Trumps and Kushners in any way they feel gives them a better chance at making more money. The need for our country’s justice system to fully investigate and prosecute even the wealthiest and most powerful among us has never been more apparent. Maybe that’s why reports of Donald trying to figure out ways to preemptively pardon his money-makers were so very believable.

                                        * Teehee.

                                        The title of the page