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In This Edition

Norman Solomon considers, "Hidden In Plain Sight: The 'Unimpeachable' Offenses."

Ralph Nader explains how, "Democrats Disarm Themselves Before Trump's Senate Impeachment Trial."

Margaret Kimberley returns with, "Forced Labor In The U.S.."

Jim Hightower wonders, "Can Biden, A Lifelong Insider, Learn To Dance With Outsiders?"

William Rivers Pitt says, "Democratic Party Leaders Are Rushing Through Impeachment In Lieu Of A Real Trial."

John Nichols concludes, "Liz Cheney Is Right On Impeachment, And Wrong On Everything Else."

James Donahue recalls, "The Dark History Of Valentine's Day."

James Risen returns with, "The Biden Administration's Continued Push For Julian Assange's Extradition Is Bad News For Journalism."

David Suzuki finds, "Local Acts Can Build Global Impacts."

Charles P. Pierce reports, "The Reckonings Are Necessary Even If They Don't Happen In Primetime."

Juan Cole returns with, "In Game-Changer, ICC Will Take Up Israeli War Crimes And Apartheid In Palestine."

Robert Reich explores, "The Monstrous Predicament Trump Left Behind."

Adam Keller returns with, "The Ruling By The International Criminal Court Is A Game-Changer."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department Andy Borowitz reports, "Trump Excitedly Accepts Democrats' Offer To Star In New TV Show," but first Uncle Ernie sez, "The Climate Disaster Continues To Unfold."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Daryl Cagle, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Brian McFadden, Tom Tomorrow, Tasos Katopodis, Erin Schaff-Pool, David Suzuki Foundation, Harvey Meston, Victoria Jones, Michael Reaves, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, Black Agenda Report, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

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The Climate Disaster Continues To Unfold
By Ernest Stewart

"Cleaning up the air can actually warm the planet because that (soot and sulfate) pollution results in cooling which climate scientists have long known." ~~~ Andrew Gettelman

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me
Help ~~~ The Beatles

I see where a new study published this month in "Geophysical Research Letters" shows that lockdowns and reduced factory output caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic led to a global warming phenomena around the planet. The study shows that pollution typically cools the planet and the lack of pollution due to the decreased human activity actually lead to global warming during the observed period in 2020.

"There was a big decline in emissions from the most polluting industries, and that had immediate, short-term effects on temperatures," said Andrew Gettelman, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and lead author of the new study. "Pollution cools the planet, so it makes sense that pollution reductions would warm the planet."

According to the published report, when emissions of aerosols dropped in the spring of 2020, more of the Sun's warmth reached the planet, especially in heavily industrialized nations like the United States and Russia that normally pump high amounts of aerosols into the atmosphere. An aerosol is a suspension of fine solid particles or liquid droplets in the air; they can be natural or anthropogenic. Examples of natural aerosols are fog, mist, and dust while examples of anthropogenic aerosols include particulate air pollutants and smoke.

Aerosols at the surface are known to create health problems. Chronic smog in Beijing, especially during the winter months, is famous for its poor air quality. However, the lack of aerosols documented by this study correlated with a rise in temperatures. According to the published report, temperatures over parts of Earth's land surface last spring were about 0.1-0.3 degrees Celsius (or 0.2-0.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than would have been expected with prevailing weather conditions.The study found that the effect was most pronounced in regions normally associated with substantial emissions of aerosols, with the warming reaching about 0.37 degrees Celsius (0.7 degrees Fahrenheit) over much of the United States and Russia. We're getting to the point that we're dammed if we do, and we're dammed if we don't!

Meanwhile a way up north...

As the global warming continues at an alarming rate, experts warn if dramatic steps to mitigate global warming are not taken, the effects in Canada's Prairie region will be devastating to the country's agriculture sector.

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the country is warming, on average, about double the global rate.

Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently found 2020 was earth's second-hottest year on record, with the average land and ocean surface temperature across the globe at 0.98 of a degree C above the 20th-century average.

However, the agency found the northern hemisphere saw its hottest year on record, at 1.28 degrees C above the average.

"(In Canada) we are looking at about 6.4C degrees of warming this century, which isn't much less than one degree per decade, which is just a terrifying rate of warming," Darrin Qualman, the director of climate crisis policy and action at the National Farmer's Union said.

Qualman said there is "massive change coming to Canada's Prairies, which will be incredibly destructive."

"It's not going too far to say that if we made that happen, parts of the Prairies wouldn't be farmable anymore," he said.

According to the Canadian federal government, in 2018 Canada's agriculture and agri-food system generated $143 billion, accounting for 7.4 per cent of the country's GDP.

The sector employed 2.3 million people in 2018. The majority of the 64.2 million hectares of farmland in Canada is concentrated in the Prairies and in southern Ontario.

The effects of climate change are already being felt on the ground in the Prairies, Qualman said, adding that the NFU has already heard from farmers complaining of "challenging weather."

"People are sharing pictures of flattened crops and buildings, et cetera, that have been damaged. and we're still at the beginning of this," he said. A study released earlier this year by Natural Resources Canada (NRC) titled Canada in a Changing Climate: Regional Perspectives Report, found the Prairies and Western Canada have had "the strongest warming to date across Southern Canada, especially in winter."



12-13-1929 ~ 02-05-2021
Thanks for the film!

04-26-1940 ~ 02-06-2021
Thanks for the film!

12-13-1920 ~ 02-06-2021
Burn Baby Burn!

04-08-1953 ~ 02-07-2021
Burn Baby Burn!

03-06-1944 ~ 02-08-2021
Thanks for the music!

06-12-1941 ~ 02-19-2021
Thanks for the music!

11-01-1942 ~ 02-10-2021
Thanks for the read!


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Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2021 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

Hidden In Plain Sight: The 'Unimpeachable' Offenses
By Norman Solomon

Impeachment dramas on Capitol Hill have routinely skipped over a question that we should be willing to ask even if Congress won't: "What about a president's unimpeachable offenses?"

The question is the flip side of one that Republican Gerald Ford candidly addressed when he was the House minority leader 50 years ago: "What, then, is an impeachable offense? The only honest answer is that an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history."

By narrowly defining which offenses are impeachable, political elites are implicitly telling us which offenses aren't.

So, when the House approved two articles of impeachment on Donald Trump in December 2019 and one impeachment article last month, the actions were much too late and much too little.

On Feb. 6, 2017, less than three weeks into Trump's term, I wrote in The Hill newspaper: "From the outset of his presidency, Trump has been violating the U.S. Constitution in a way that we have not seen before and should not tolerate. It's time for members of Congress to get the impeachment process underway." I pointed out that "the president continues to violate two 'emoluments' clauses in the Constitution. One prohibits any gifts or benefits from foreign governments, and the other prohibits the same from the U.S. government or any U.S. state."

But, at the outset, treating President Trump as unimpeachable -- despite those flagrant violations of the Constitution -- greased the wheels for the runaway madness of his presidency in the years that followed. As Trump's destructive joyride went on, reasons to impeach him proliferated. Researchers easily drew up dozens of articles of impeachment. But in the eyes of political elites, as with previous presidents, Trump's offenses were seen as unimpeachable.

Two decades earlier, President Bill Clinton became the second impeached president in U.S. history. The frenzy was akin to vilifying Al Capone for tax evasion. "We all seem to have lost our sense of proportion," historian Howard Zinn wrote five weeks before Clinton's impeachment. "Why are the political leaders of the United States and the major media talking of impeaching Bill Clinton for lies about sex, surely not the most important sins of his administration?"

Writing in November 1998, Zinn added: "If Clinton is to be impeached, why do it for frivolous reasons? I can think of at least 10 reasons to impeach him, for acts far more serious than his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky or his lies to Kenneth Starr. I am speaking of matters of life and death for large numbers of people."

Zinn cited such matters as missile attacks on Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan; Clinton's refusal to accept a Canadian proposal to ban land mines; continuation of "embargoes on Cuba and Iraq, causing widespread misery in Cuba for lack of food and medicine, and hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq according to U.N. statistics"; and squandering vast funds on the U.S. military while people were suffering and dying at home and abroad due to lack of health care, nutrition and housing.

There was no second impeachment of Clinton after he used a "diplomatic" scam called the Rambouillet accords to justify launching intensive U.S.-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999, without congressional authorization. Clinton persisted with a continuous air war for more than two months -- making history by blatantly violating the War Powers Resolution.

Trump -- like Barack Obama and George W. Bush before him -- was able to order missile strikes and deploy troops in numerous war-torn countries without congressional constraints. And there was no reason to be concerned that Congress might impeach him for war crimes. The reasons for such impunity are rooted in the history of "unimpeachable" offenses.

Continue reading "Hidden in Plain Sight: The "Unimpeachable" Offenses."

(c) 2021 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death"and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Democrats Disarm Themselves Before Trump's Senate Impeachment Trial
By Ralph Nader

Donald Trump, has with luck, eluded the consequences of being a failed gambling czar with no respect for the law. But his luck has reached a new level with Congressional Democrats refraining from holding him accountable for breaking the law and violating the Constitution as regularly as the rising and setting of the sun for four years. (See: December 18, 2019, Congressional Record, H-12197).

Now the Democrats are moving forward into an impeachment trial, using only a fraction of the voluminous incriminating evidence against a president who incited insurrection against Congress and the Constitution. Trump directly incited an armed mob, bent on mayhem, against both Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate who were gathered to count state-certified electoral votes under the Twelfth Amendment and the Electoral Count Act. The Joint Session of Congress heard the vile mob chant the chilling phrase "Hang Mike Pence," the Vice President who had fallen from Trump's favor by refusing to compromise his constitutional duty to count rather than to second-guess the state-certified votes.

The Democrats know if the Senate neglects to convict Trump (requiring a two-thirds majority) and prohibit him from running for the White House ever again (requiring only a simple majority) they will be unleashing a vengeful monster, loaded with cash for a 2024 presidential run. Republicans should fear that prospect to avoid the risk of internecine warfare.

So, wouldn't you think with the election over the impeachment managers would go full throttle before the national television audience and conduct a trial for historical accountability, the rule of law, and protection of posterity?

Instead, Democrats are signaling failure by prejudging how Republicans will vote before seeing what should be gripping trial evidence and the rising outrage of the American people. Trump's polls are steadily falling already.

Prejudgment leads to another Democratic mistake - settling for a short trial. Even Senators Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) have said they want a truncated impeachment trial so the Senate can focus on the Covid-19 driven stimulus bill. This legislation is already moving quickly. Besides, the Senate can drop its routine of working three days a week and start working five days a week or more just as do most Americans.

There are other self-inflicted constraints. Democrats should have subpoenaed Trump and Pence immediately after the House impeached Trump on January 13, 2021. Trump has spurned an invitation to testify voluntarily under oath by lead House manager Jamie Raskin (D-MD). House and Senate Democrats should know the hazards of declining to issue a trial subpoena to Mr. Trump because special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation was compromised by his failure to do so. Why follow a losing playbook?

The courts have no jurisdiction over impeachment questions the Supreme Court said in Nixon v. United States, 506 U.S.224 (1993). The Senate runs its impeachment trial as it chooses, including holding Mr. Trump's lawyers in contempt if they attempt to disrupt the proceedings or continue to argue issues they have lost, like the absence of jurisdiction over a former president. As a no-show in a civil, not criminal proceeding, Mr. Trump's defiance of a subpoena would justify an adverse inference of guilt by the Senate.

There is also no sign the Democrats are seeking other witnesses such as Garrett Miller who has said he and others were operating at the direction and approval of President Trump. The liar-in-chief had just told his supporters at the notorious rally on the Mall, "We're going to walk down, and I'll be there with you," before Trump the betrayer retreated to the White House to witness on television the violence, he provoked and incited.

Families of victims deserve to be heard. And members of the Senate and the public should hear of the detailed thuggery by Trump in Georgia and at the Justice Department. The prosecution must go deep, starting with the testimony of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and then acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.

The Democrats are not subpoenaing Mike Pence to testify about Mr. Trump's bullying him to reject state-certified electoral votes in violation of the Twelfth Amendment and the Electoral Count Act in key states that would deny Joe Biden's electoral vote majority. Pence's refusal angered Trump who then resorted to an insurrection against the Capitol to accomplish by force and violence what he was unable to accomplish by bullying.

Given their penchant for a short trial, the Democrats seem unlikely to highlight Trump's pattern and practice throughout his presidency of flouting the Constitution and duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, including protections for all Americans. Trump's former National Security Adviser, John Bolton, has declared that obstruction of justice was "a way of life" at the White House.

The House impeachment managers are under the direction of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. As in the first impeachment of Trump, she believes the American people have a short attention span and proceeds to prejudge the vote by Republicans in the Senate. Is this a self-fulfilling prophecy - assuring failure by holding back the full hand the Democrats possess - an Ace of Spades - under the Constitution?

Do the Democrats want to convict or just impeach a president who brazenly asserted "Then I have article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as president." He produced four years as proof of such lawbreaking. Will Trump overcome the Democrats on this last clear chance for our Constitution to prevail and for the assault on Congress, its legislators, staff, and other employees to be answered with justice?

Do you know how weak and spineless the National Democrats are? They almost blew the Presidential election to the worst, most delusional, lawbreaking, incompetent president in U.S. history. Less than 100,000 votes in four swing states saved the country from a second despotic Trump term. The Democrats also lost House and Senate seats to the most crazed, cruel, anti-people, corporate-indentured, militaristic, and monetized Republican Party in history.

If the Democrats do not go full throttle in this trial - this last clear chance to exercise the Constitution against Tyrant Trump - they will be remembered as profiles of infamy. If the Party of Jefferson and FDR fails to meet this fundamental challenge, history will show them as betraying the people's trust, abdicating their constitutional duties, and setting an awful precedent ready for use by any future president to annihilate the Constitution.

(c) 2021 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Forced Labor In The U.S.
By Margaret Kimberley

Forced labor of Uyghurs in China is questionable, but there is absolute proof that incarcerated people in this country are forced to work for little or no pay.

By any measure, the United States has the worst human rights record among the nations called democratic or developed or advanced or "free world" or any of the other labels that rich capitalist countries use to describe themselves. The U.S. has the worst health care system in that group, the worst benefits for workers, and the worst income inequality. It also has the dubious distinction of being the world's biggest jailer, with some 2.3 million people behind bars. This country which treats its people so terribly is also the one most likely to project its evil doing on to others.

There is a method to the madness. When the United States claimed that Saddam Hussein or Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, or that Muammar Gaddafi gave his troops Viagra to commit rapes, there was public acceptance of interventions, invasions, and sanctions. People in this country like to think of themselves as virtuous, even as they approve of violations of human rights at home and abroad.

The latest target of hybrid warfare propaganda is the People's Republic of China. The Uyghur people in the Xinjiang region are now being used in a futile and dangerous attempt to contain this country whose economic power and independent foreign policy stance challenges the United States and its allies.

The corporate media, politicians, NGOs, and supposed experts of dubious backgrounds relentlessly report that 1 million Uyghurs are imprisoned and that the state forces them to work. Yet there is no mention of the U.S. and its allies using Uyghur proxies in their campaign against Syria or of the jihadist terrorist attacks in China which followed. The government has established what they call technical training schools to end this activity, but that is all that can be established. There is no proof of anything that can be called a concentration camp or of forced labor, yet these stories are repeated endlessly.

In addition, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) was removed from the United States terrorist group list in 2020, not coincidentally at the same moment that hostility towards China was ramped up by the Trump administration. Biden is hardly different, repeating hostile tropes about China, continuing Trump policy but with slightly better vocabulary.

While the stories of forced labor in China are questionable, there is absolute proof that incarcerated people in this country are forced to work for little pay, ranging on average from .86 to $3.45 per day, and in five states they are paid nothing at all. They are even charged for being in prison. Their family members also suffer and must pay for video conversations which in some jurisdictions have replaced in-person visits. They are charged for those as well and these communications are not private, even when the incarcerated speak to their attorneys. The human rights violations in this country that are well known and documented are seldom discussed. While members of Congress in the U.S. and parliamentarians around the world discuss boycotting Chinese cotton because of unproven allegations of Uyghur forced labor, they say nothing about the well documented instances of forced labor right here that are permitted under the 13th amendment to the constitution. The hypocrisy would be stunning if it were not carried out so consistently. Joe Biden is just the latest president to claim that human rights abuses are rampant in other countries while ignoring gross violations taking place in his own. He already tried to fool the public when he announced a policy that the Department of Justice will no longer contract with privately run prisons. But he said nothing about the Department of Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over private immigrant detention centers. In any case, most privately run prisons are under the jurisdiction of states, and not the federal government. While other countries are lectured, Americans get another bait and switch.

Neither Biden, members of congress, or the media who act like scribes should be allowed to use words like "genocide" without being challenged. The charges against China take on a life of their own, and anyone curious about sources of information is silenced or accused of being a genocide denier. The term implies that genocide is proven when it hasn't been, and that anyone who questions the allegations is the liar.

These stories are amplified by NGOs funded by the U.S., allies like Australia, and weapons manufacturers who create "experts" who are then given undeserved credibility. Meanwhile incarcerated people here have no legal protections and no right to refuse the use of their labor. They may do dangerous work such as fighting California wildfires for a maximum of $5.12 per day, but are prohibited from doing the same work upon their release. It is prudent to be skeptical whenever the United States government, its ally partners in crime, and their friends in corporate media make claims of human rights violations around the world. There is always an ulterior motive which gives the green light to aggression. Forced labor is just one example of American hypocrisy meant to promote war propaganda. One must always ask how the alleged crime compares to how this country treats its own people.

(c) 2021 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.

Can Biden, A Lifelong Insider, Learn To Dance With Outsiders?
By Jim Hightower

The Democratic Party establishment is now issuing a go-slow warning to the new president they backed.

They instruct that, while Biden should undo the most repressive and regressive edicts of the Trump abnormality, he should NOT attempt the kind of big-idea, Rooseveltian structural changes that progressives advocate. They claim that it was Biden's moderate, incremental campaign for a return to pre-Trumpian normalcy that got him elected.

If ignorance is bliss, these champions of the corporate-run status quo must be ecstatic. I was out there in the thick of last year's election, and it definitely was not establishmentarians who saved our nation from Trump II. While party insiders insisted that Biden be the Democratic candidate, they didn't have the voter credibility or outreach to elect him. Big donors and powerful lawmakers don't go door to door, send millions of personal text messages, or volunteer to organize mass rallies.

Rather than working with insurgent grassroots activists, the old guard that controls the party apparatus largely got in the way of success, arrogantly refusing to back progressive nominees and deflating the morale of volunteer activists. And while Biden's muted campaign of "I'm not Trump" was calming to moderates, it stamped out any spark of enthusiasm that most voters might have had if he'd been a more robust champion of people's needs. The ones who carried Biden into the Oval Office, despite his 50-year career of political meekness, were the grassroots organizers and volunteers from unions, people of color activists, women's networks, youth groups, and so many other rebels against the corporate order that the Democratic powers now demand we preserve.

Biden's presidential legacy - and the Democratic future - are dependent on his breaking with Washington insiders and aligning with insurgent progressive activists who would reconnect the party to its anti-establishment roots and make it an FDRish Party of the People again.

(c) 2021 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speak after a press conference on Capitol Hill on December 20, 2020, in Washington, D.C.

Democratic Party Leaders Are Rushing Through Impeachment In Lieu Of A Real Trial
By William Rivers Pitt

Here we go again, in more ways than one. Prepare to have your time wasted again, but this time, it appears to be the Democrats who are prepared to hit the chicken switch.

The first impeachment of Donald Trump was an empty, rushed and preordained affair. House Democrats had just captured the majority, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew a large swath of her caucus would erupt into discordant rebellion if the strident calls to impeach a rogue, renegade president were not heeded... and so they were, full in the knowledge that the effort was doomed in the Republican-controlled Senate. The trial after the impeachment came off like a junior high school theater club doing a read-through of Our Town, and it ended with Trump's acquittal to the absolute surprise of nobody.

Flash forward 13 months to the afternoon of January 6, when the U.S. Capitol building looked as if it was under assault by a swarming army of red ants. Hours before, Trump had whipped his people into a frenzy and aimed them deliberately at the seat of Congress, where his final defeat at the hands of President Joe Biden was being certified.

The mob came closer to toppling a branch of the federal government than anyone knew that day, but as the details seeped out along with the video imagery, it became clear that many in that raid had come for blood. Stunned members of Congress told harrowing tales of near misses and close calls, everyone knew this had been Trump's people doing his specific bidding, and the roar for a second impeachment became a thunder upon the land.

Trump was impeached again in about as much time as it takes to boil an egg, legislatively speaking, and 10 House Republicans joined the majority. Among them was Liz Cheney, the House Republican conference chair and a senior leader of the party. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy did not vote to impeach but said that Trump was "responsible" for the perilous events of January 6. These two defections from the code of absolute loyalty have left Trump seething down in Florida ever since.

The basis for the charges in the first impeachment trial were profound in scope and import, but by any reasonable metric, the charges this second time are more serious by orders of magnitude. "Incitement to Insurrection" is what they would have charged Confederate President Jefferson Davis with, had they ever brought him to trial: A sitting president incited a mob to violent action in the hope of overturning a fairly held election so he could remain in power. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer who was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher by a Trump supporter.

A little more than a month has passed since that chaotic, lethal day. In that time, it appears the old ways of doing things on the Democratic side of the aisle have reasserted themselves. Instead of a trial showing all the available damning evidence of what took place that day and who is responsible, Democratic congressional leadership - with the blessing of President Biden - appears poised to allow another impeachment rush job just to get it over with, because the Republicans are unhappy. From Politico:

Democrats who've struggled for years to hold DONALD TRUMP accountable are at a crossroads again: Do they go all out to convict Trump by calling a parade of witnesses to testify to his misdeeds? Or do they concede it's a lost cause, finish the trial ASAP - and get on with President JOE BIDEN'S agenda? Several of the House impeachment managers wanted firsthand testimony to help prove their case that Trump incited the Jan. 6 riot, our sources tell us. But Senate Majority Leader CHUCK SCHUMER, Speaker NANCY PELOSI and Biden administration officials have been eager for the process to move quickly, we're told.

It's been a source of frustration for some Democrats privately. Trump, these people have noticed, is already on the rebound politically, at least among Republicans. The GOP base has rallied to his defense, and many Republican lawmakers who witnessed the terror of the Capitol invasion are back in Trump's corner. Schumer and other Senate Democrats argue, however, that they don't necessarily need witnesses since Trump's crimes were in plain sight and documented in videos and tweets. Privately, senior Democrats also note that 45 Senate Republicans have already decided they think the trial is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer president, so why bother dragging this out?

It has reached the point where you can set your watch to these Democratic waffles slithering off the griddle just when things get hot. "Why bother dragging this out?" That such a question is even being contemplated speaks volumes about how and why this nation has gotten so far down in the ditch. You fight the fight because the fight is worth fighting. You act out of hope in more than just the outcome, because the effort yields its own rewards. You shout down hypocrisy for the sake of the truth, period. If 45 GOP senators have incorrectly decided to hang their hat on a flawed constitutional defense, bring witnesses like influential Republican lawyer Charles J. Cooper to shoot down the argument. Better yet: Let Trump shoot it down himself.

"I am here to tell you, dude does not agree that he is a former president, and he is not allowing anyone to describe him that way," explained MSNBC's Rachel Maddow last week. "If that's the trap door they're going to use to try to get him out of a Senate impeachment conviction, he's going to fight it. He insists he cannot be called a former president. He must be called the 45th president. He's still using the presidential seal. There's no sign that he concedes that there's now a 46th president, and so he's an ex. I mean, how many ticks are we away from him claiming that he is still in office, that he still has the powers of the presidency? That he's rightfully still president?"

That alone would be worth the price of admission. Make those 45 Republicans who cannot imagine a world without Trump calling the shots sit through days of video and personal testimony describing a world with Trump calling the shots. Rub their noses in it like bad puppies, rub the nation's nose in it, and if they still won't act in the best interests of the nation, carve their names in stone and wait for 2022.

But no. The Ents running the Democratic Party - Schumer, Pelosi and Biden - have opted once again for the bended knee in the flabby name of expediency. The impeachment trial will be a sham, and when it is done, all those congresspeople will head home through the war zone barricades that now drape the nation's capital. You'd think they might notice all that and act on it; you'd think they'd remember that they were in the building and targets for violence a month ago, but that is not how we do things. I can't remember the last time it was.

(c) 2021 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wy.)

Liz Cheney Is Right On Impeachment, And Wrong On Everything Else
Don't make a hero of this neoconservative, warmongering, hate-amplifying apologist for Marjorie Taylor Greene.
By John Nichols

House Republicans have decided to keep Liz Cheney on as the third-highest-ranking leader in their caucus of deplorables. No surprise there. Cheney is a corporation-coddling and warmongering neoconservative, a hate-amplifying liar whose only sin in the eyes of her colleagues is that she got one thing wrong.

That "one thing" was her vote to impeach Donald Trump, which the Wyoming Republican coupled with a statement declaring that "the President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame" of the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

House Democrats delighted in the clarity of Cheney's denunciation of the Republican strongman, especially her accurate assertion that "none of this would have happened without the President. The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution." What could be more appetizing than a top Republican calling out her party's disgraced former president? And it just got better. Trump was reportedly so furious that he was calling Capitol Hill allies and urging them to ditch Cheney as chair of the House Republican Conference. Florida Republican Representative Matt Gaetz labeled the daughter of former vice president Dick Cheney "a beltway bureaucrat turned fake cowgirl."

Trump and Gaetz failed last week in their attempt to oust Cheney, as the GOP caucus backed her 145 to 60 on the same day that they gave a standing ovation to Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the QAnon-channeling conspiracy theorist who has put a sharper edge on the racism and xenophobia that Trump uses to rally his base. House minority leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said this willingness to back both Cheney and Greene proved that the party is "a big tent."

Not that big.

It doesn't take much canvas to contain the ideological spectrum that runs from Cheney's right-wing claptrap to Greene's hate speech.

As Trump's Senate trial begins this week, Democrats will undoubtedly recycle Cheney's indictments of the seditionist in chief as the guilty man that he is. But they ought not make the congresswoman from Wyoming out to be some kind of hero. Nor should they imagine that she is now-or ever might be-a principled alternative to the extremists who have made the Republican Party a fever swamp of hate, fearmongering, and conspiracy theories.

It wasn't Marjorie Taylor Greene who called Democrats "the party of anti-Semitism, the party of infanticide, the party of socialism." That was Liz Cheney, who spouted that line during a March 2019 appearance on Meet the Press. In that same appearance, she claimed that the Democrats have "passed legislation that's violated the First Amendment, the Second Amendment."

It wasn't Marjorie Taylor Greene who announced that socialists had "a chokehold on the Democratic platform, on Joe Biden's policies going forward." It was Liz Cheney in an assessment of the Democratic National Convention that she posted on her congressional website.

It wasn't Marjorie Taylor Greene who alleged that, because he worked with global leaders to organize the UN's 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for nonproliferation, former secretary of state John Kerry's was "the architect" of a scheme that "gave the Iranians a pathway towards a nuclear weapon." That was Liz Cheney in an August 2020 Fox News appearance, in which she claimed that Kerry "traveled around the world acting as the head of the Chamber of Commerce for the mullahs in Iran."

It wasn't Marjorie Taylor Greene who claimed that Vice President Kamala Harris "sounds like Karl Marx." It was Liz Cheney, who just two days before the 2020 presidential election denounced the Democrat for explaining that equitable treatment is about "giving people the resources and the support they need" so that everyone can compete on an equal footing.

It wasn't Marjorie Taylor Greene who suggested that Harris supported infanticide. It was Liz Cheney, who announced on national television after Biden had selected the California senator as his running mate that Harris supported "abortion up until the ninth month and beyond." And it was Cheney who then proceeded to dismiss Harris's qualifications-as a former elected prosecutor, state attorney general, and US senator-by claiming that "Joe Biden clearly decided that he was going to make a choice based on somebody's gender, based on their race and based on his need to placate the very-far socialist left of his party."

It wasn't Marjorie Taylor Greene who deliberately mischaracterized statements by the first two Muslim women to serve in the US House of Representatives so frequently that James Zogby, the founder of the Arab-American Institute, characterized the attacks as evincing an "obsession." It was Liz Cheney, whose targeting of Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) went to such extremes that Zogby wrote that Cheney's vitriol "smacks either of a deep-seated anti-Arab/Muslim bigotry or crass politics designed to prey on the bigotry of your 'base.' In either case it's disgraceful. Your party's been playing this game for a decade. Shame."

To be clear, Marjorie Taylor Greene is a dangerously extreme member of Congress who was appropriately sanctioned Thursday by a bipartisan majority of the chamber that voted to remove the Georgian from the House Education and Budget committees. As Representative Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said, "This was an important step for the country. It makes a clear statement that you can't say 9-11 didn't take place. You can't say you believe in QAnon theories. You can't threaten violence against elected officials and still hope to serve in the United States Congress. There should be a very, very high bar for removing people from committees, but this wasn't a hard call."

What's notable is that when the vote on stripping Greene of her committee assignments came, Cheney voted in solidarity with Greene.

Whatever credit Liz Cheney is given for standing up to Trump does not begin to erase the fact that her most consistent stance is on the side of the cruelty, the lies, and the extremism that infects today's Republican Party. That's the real reason House Republicans voted to retain Cheney as a leader of their caucus.

(c) 2021 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

The Dark History Of Valentine's Day
By James Donahue

Valentine's Day is another one of those ancient holidays dating so far back in the past that no one knows for sure just how it had its start. Today it is a special day of reaching out to our loved ones with flowers, cards and perhaps gifts of candy wrapped in heart-shaped boxes. It is a day to express love . . . something the world needs more of.

The documented history of this special day, however, isn't quite as bright and full of good will as we might have thought.

The Roman Catholic Church established February 14 as a date to honor Valentinus, a declared saint who was beheaded on this date in 160 A D, for refusing to deny Christ before the Roman Emperor Antoninus Augustus Pius. Before he died, Valentinus was said to have performed two miracles. He restored the sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer.

Pope Gelasius I established February 14 as the Feast of St. Valentine in the year 496, thus marking that date for all Christendom. The concept of "Valentine's Day," however, wasn't propelled to its contemporary appearance until English author Geoffrey Chaucer described it as an old tradition in his work Parliament of Foules. Also Shakespeare helped romanticize the day in his writings.

Historians believe Gelasius mixed the Christian holiday with a more ancient Roman celebration called the Feast of Lupercalia. This is something the Catholic Church was fond of doing as a way of drawing the natives of various parts of the world into its web.

During Lupercalia, which occurred from February 13 to 15, the men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then used the animal hides to whip women. During this wild drunken orgy, the men were said to run naked in the street while young women deliberately lined up waiting for the men to hit them. The women shared a belief that the act made them fertile.

Lupercalia also included a matchmaking lottery. The men drew the names of the young girls from a jar and the couples pared off for sexual orgy that lasted the duration of the festival. It was a time of fertility; a much different expression of "love" than exists today.

Another ancient mid-winter celebration was Galatin's Day, held in February by the Normans. The word Galatin meant "lover of women" and was obviously another form of fertility celebration. Some believe this holiday also got mixed in the pudding that evolved into contemporary Valentine's Day.

The St. Valentine's Day massacre in Chicago, in 1929, marred the holiday with the most notorious gangster killing of the Prohibition era. Seven members of the Bugsy Moran gang were gunned down by members of Al Capone's gang, dressed in police uniforms, in a Chicago garage.

Thus this holiday has had some bloody roots.

When the tradition made its way into America, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo. invented the mass production of valentine cards. And that set the stage for the vast commercialization of yet another American holiday.

It doesn't take flowers, cards or boxes of candy to express our personal love for our spouses or friends. Acts of love and kindness should be happening every day. It is amazing what this can do to a neighborhood on a dreary February day, however.

But then, the flowers are always appreciated.

(c) 2021 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, after the WikiLeaks founder was arrested
by officers from the Metropolitan Police and taken into custody following the Ecuadorian government's withdrawal of asylum.

The Biden Administration's Continued Push For Julian Assange's Extradition Is Bad News For Journalism
A successful prosecution of the WikiLeaks founder could empower the government to go after journalists for publishing classified information.
By James Risen

During the course of his career as the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange has managed to anger both of America's major political parties.

When WikiLeaks first began publishing leaked documents from the U.S. military and the State Department during the Obama administration, both Republican and Democratic politicians denounced Assange. Obama's Justice Department investigated him and very nearly indicted him under the Espionage Act. The Obama administration backed away from charging him only because they realized that doing so could lead to the prosecution of more conventional journalists and news organizations, including those, like the New York Times, that collaborated with Assange to publish stories based on the documents given to WikiLeaks.

During his 2016 campaign, Donald Trump regularly lauded WikiLeaks for publishing leaked documents from the Democratic Party, including from Hillary Clinton's campaign. The documents had been turned over to WikiLeaks by a front for Russian intelligence, which had successfully hacked the Democrats. That led to intense Democratic anger against Assange and WikiLeaks - anger that has not abated.

But after Trump took office, his administration turned on Assange. The Trump Justice Department followed through with the indictment originally considered by the Obama administration. Trump refused to pardon Assange in his final days in office, despite an intense lobbying campaign by Assange's allies and press freedom advocates. Assange was left in a British prison.

Now a third president must decide what to do with Assange, and the early signs do not look good for the WikiLeaks founder.

The Biden Justice Department is expected to continue to try to extradite Assange from Britain so that he can face the charges brought by the Trump administration. In January, a British judge denied an extradition request from the United States, arguing that Assange's mental condition is so bad that he might kill himself in the American prison system. The judge set Friday as the deadline for an appeal of her extradition ruling by the U.S. Justice Department. The Justice Department has now said that it plans to file an appeal.

Earlier this week, a group of press freedom organizations, including the Press Freedom Defense Fund, of which I am the director, sent a letter to the Justice Department asking that the case against Assange be dropped. (The Press Freedom Defense Fund is a program of First Look Media, which also publishes The Intercept.) But the Biden Justice Department's decision to continue the Trump administration's efforts to extradite Assange indicates that bipartisan fury at the WikiLeaks founder blinds leaders of both parties to what his prosecution could do to press freedom.

The fact that Assange is so widely despised by the American political leadership - and that so many U.S. officials from both parties would be happy to see him in an American prison - may lead to very bad law that could pose a serious threat to American journalism. If the Assange prosecution is successful, it will set a dangerous legal standard. It will open the door for the government to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, even if doing so is in the public interest.

The case against Assange has nothing to do with his role in the 2016 hack of the Democratic Party. The indictment is about the leak of secret military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks more than a decade ago and focuses on Assange's relationship with Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who was the source of the documents. The Trump Justice Department charged that Assange aided Manning in efforts to gain access to a U.S. military database; the charges against Assange were later broadened, and he was indicted under the Espionage Act.

The Assange case could allow prosecutors to build criminal cases against journalists who obtain government secrets based on their interactions with their sources. Prosecutors can look at the electronic footprints of reporters and their sources, and try to determine whether they can charge journalists under anti-hacking laws if they encourage their sources to give them secret information. Investigative reporters throughout the country could face criminal liability simply for meeting with sources and encouraging them to provide information.

That would make it nearly impossible for reporters to aggressively cover the Pentagon, the CIA, or the National Security Agency - and ultimately imperil the American republic.

(c) 2021 James Risen is an American journalist for The Intercept. He previously worked for The New York Times and before that for Los Angeles Times.

Greta Thunberg, whose 2018 solitary school strike for climate outside the Swedish parliament
blossomed into a massive youth movement that drew more than four million people to
2,500 events in 163 countries on all seven continents just one year later.

Local Acts Can Build Global Impacts
By David Suzuki

There's truth to the saying, "Think globally, act locally." To resolve a planetary crisis like climate disruption, we need change from the top, but without localized support, that's difficult to achieve.

And grassroots action can grow into something much bigger. Think of Greta Thunberg, whose 2018 solitary school strike for climate outside the Swedish parliament blossomed into a massive youth movement that drew more than four million people to 2,500 events in 163 countries on all seven continents just one year later.

Local action is beneficial even if it doesn't become a worldwide movement. It can help communities respond to specific issues, such as adapting to regional effects of climate change. It can help protect threatened plants and animals and their habitats. It can inspire municipal or provincial governments to implement important policies, pushing governments higher up to act.

But those who want to get involved to better their communities often find it difficult to gain knowledge, tools and support for their endeavours. The U.S. Sunrise Movement, Climate Action U.K. and SuperLocal in France offer training and other resources to strengthen environmental and climate action, and bring diverse groups together to build a more powerful force.

The David Suzuki Foundation is doing the same in Canada with the Future Ground Network/Reseau Demain le Quebec. It provides education, tools and networking opportunities to help groups throughout Canada strengthen their impact, on initiatives ranging from urban agriculture projects and climate campaigns to advancing sustainable transportation solutions. It's all about support, connection and inspiration.

As Holly Reid of Cycle Don Valley Midtown said, "We can benefit from the knowledge and insights of other organizers in the network. The tools and supports that the Future Ground Network provides - webinars, Action Network and access to Superteam volunteers - will make us more effective at getting the job done."

Foundation staff know how effective local action can be. Its Butterflyway Project has inspired people to plant thousands of pollinator-friendly native wildflowers in schoolyards, gardens, balconies and boulevards throughout Canada.

It started as a project to support monarch butterflies making their astonishing migration from Canada to Mexico and back. Monarchs need milkweed to lay eggs and feed, but urban and agricultural development has been wiping out the plants. Over the past four years, 1,008 volunteers have planted more than 54,000 native wildflowers in over 1,000 pollinator patches in 100 communities to feed and shelter birds, bees and butterflies.

Making connections in your community - even if virtual or physically distanced - is healthy and much needed in these times. Working with others for the betterment of your neighbourhood, town, city, province, country or world contributes to well-being and happiness.

And, as we've seen from people like Greta Thunberg, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and many others, small acts can lead to big changes.

Research from Harvard University shows what can be achieved when these acts bloom into larger, non-violent movements. Political scientist Erica Chenoweth looked at hundreds of campaigns from 1900 to 2006 and found that non-violent campaigns are twice as likely to achieve their goals as violent ones and that, if at least 3.5 per cent of a population participates in a protest or movement, serious political change is likely.

In their book Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, Chenoweth and International Center of Nonviolent Conflict researcher Maria Stephan write that, of the 323 violent and non-violent campaigns they studied, non-violent ones led to significant change 53 per cent of the time compared to 26 per cent for violent ones. That's partly because non-violent action attracts more participants.

All campaigns that involved at least 3.5 per cent of a population succeeded!

The climate and biodiversity crises and other environmental emergencies call for rapid change. This global pandemic has shown such change is possible with political will and public support. Empowering people to get involved in their communities provides a path to positive local change and builds networks to help resolve major national and global crises.

Change isn't always easy, but it's often necessary. Resolving the climate crisis brings many other benefits beyond ensuring improved health and survival rates for humanity - from high-quality jobs to greater equity.

Initiatives like the Future Ground Network can bring people together to build a better society and help heal the world.

(c) 2021 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

The Reckonings Are Necessary Even If They Don't Happen In Primetime
Jim Clyburn is holding the meatpacking industry to account for its failures during the pandemic.
By Charles P. Pierce

There's quite a bit going on in Congress these days. You may have noticed this. We're impeaching a vulgar talking yam again. The president is warming up to the notion that having the most votes means that the nuisances from the other party can sit the fck down while he and his administration get about the business of pulling the republic out of the ditch. However, over in the House, in the clumsily monickered "Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis," chairman James Clyburn has waded into one of major tragedies of the pandemic-namely, the incredible criminal recklessness of the meat-processing industries. From the subcommittee's release:

Chairman Clyburn also sent letters to three meatpacking companies, which have had a combined total of at least 41 major outbreaks in meatpacking facilities in 20 states, including multiple outbreaks in the same facilities: JBS USA, the world's largest meatpacker, has had at least 3,000 employees contract the coronavirus. 18 of these employees died.

Tyson Foods has seen more than 12,000 workers contract the coronavirus and 38 die from it. Managers at one Tyson plant allegedly ordered workers to stay on the job and then placed bets on how many would contract the virus.

Smithfield Foods, whose parent company reported $925 million in profit in the first half of 2020, has had over 3,500 workers contract the coronavirus and 8 employees die.

Chairman Clyburn wrote to these companies: "Public reports indicate that meatpacking companies ... have refused to take basic precautions to protect their workers, many of whom earn extremely low wages and lack adequate paid leave, and have shown a callous disregard for workers' health. These actions appear to have resulted in thousands of meatpacking workers getting infected with the virus and hundreds dying. Outbreaks at meatpacking plants have also spread to surrounding communities, killing many more Americans."

The good folk at ProPublica have done a lot of the reporting that Clyburn cites. Clyburn also intends to put the people who ran the Occupational Health and Safety Administration on behalf of Camp Runamuck on the griddle as well.
The subcommittee's inquiry will also scrutinize the federal government's shortcomings in protecting meatpacking workers."Public reports indicate that under the Trump Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) failed to adequately carry out its responsibility for enforcing worker safety laws at meatpacking plants across the country, resulting in preventable infections and deaths," according to the subcommittee's letter to OSHA.

The subcommittee also said that the agency had issued only a "few meager fines" and "failed to show urgency in addressing safety hazards at the meatpacking facilities it inspected." The letter noted that OSHA had received complaints about JBS and Smithfield plants months before the agency conducted inspections.

Not all of the reckonings are going to be in primetime, but every one of them is necessary.

(c) 2021 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"Unbelievable. There are some Dems who want to lower the income eligibility for direct payments from $75,000 to $50,000 for individuals, and $150,000 to $100,000 for couples. In other words, working class people who got checks from Trump would not get them from Biden. Brilliant!"
~~~ Bernie Sanders

The Israeli prime minister will attempt to obstruct the workings of the court. But this is
a great day for the international rule of law, and all believers in human rights should rejoice.

In Game-Changer, ICC Will Take Up Israeli War Crimes And Apartheid In Palestine
Palestinian victims of Israeli war crimes from various generations will gain the right to seek justice after decades of occupation.
By Juan Cole

On Friday, the International Criminal Court found that it had jurisdiction to consider war crimes and crimes against humanity and the crime of apartheid in the Palestinian territories.

Israeli politician Abba Eban once quipped that Palestinians never lost the opportunity to lose an opportunity. But Palestinians have carefully, methodically created this opportunity to be heard in an international tribunal. It is the ruling Israeli right wing about which one can now quip about missing opportunities.

Israel has egregiously violated the 1949 Geneva Convention on the treatment of people in occupied territories by flooding its own citizens into the Palestinian territories, by stealing Palestinian land from its owners and building squatter settlements on it, and by using disproportional force against Palestinian demonstrators at the Gaza border.

The court will also look into war crimes by Hamas, which was elected in 2006 and retains control of the Gaza Strip.

It has been impossible for anyone to stop Israel's repeated and serious crimes against the Palestinians because the United States backs them to the hilt and is deeply implicated itself in keeping Palestinians stateless. (The "two-state solution" long since became geographically impossible, and invoking it and an alleged "peace process," as the Biden administration does, is just a way of keeping the Palestinians from enjoying any human rights).

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu cynically called the ruling "anti-Semitic," in the ultimate debasement of a term that has otherwise been central to human rights struggles.

Filistin al-Yawm (Palestine Today) quotes Rami Abdu, head of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, as saying that the International Criminal Court announcement that it has jurisdiction over the Palestinian territories represents a victory, won by many sacrifices, for justice, freedom, and ethical values in the world. It is, he said, the fruit of a Palestinian struggle that has lasted decades to win recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.

As a result, he said, Palestinian victims of Israeli war crimes from various generations will gain the right to seek justice after decades of occupation and to see the perpetrators tried in the Hague. He cautioned, however, that "the decision does not mean the end of the road, and the task will not be easy. The hope is that the Biden administration will adopt a different course from its predecessor, and will refrain from putting any pressure on the court."

In spring of 2020, then-President Donald Trump declared a national emergency as a pretext for being able to target justices and staff of the International Criminal Court with sanctions because they were looking into alleged crimes by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan. These outrageous and ineffectual sanctions have been lifted by the Biden administration.

The International Criminal Court was established by the Rome Statute circulated to U.N. member states in the late 1990s and finalized in 2002. The United States and Israel refused to sign or to recognize the court's jurisdiction. Some 123 countries have, however, ratified the treaty and so incorporated it into their national law.

The court can take up cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, and apartheid committed by officials in the signatory states. It can apply sanctions to individuals in those governments after trying them. It does not sanction states but individuals. So far its cases have been entirely from Africa.

But the court's hands are usually tied with regard to non-signatory governments. It cannot move against their officials unless the United Nations Security Council forwards a case to them. Thus, when the murderous regime of Muammar Gaddafi attacked civilians in winter-spring of 2011 during the Arab Spring youth revolt, the Security Council referred the case to the ICC. Its justices considered evidence against Muammar Gaddafi and his son Saif Gaddafi, as well as interior minister Abdullah Sanusi. Arrest warrants were issued by the court for these individuals on June 27, 2011.

The state of Palestine led by Mahmoud Abbas had little hope of the U.N. Security Council asking the ICC to look into Israeli war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza, since the United States almost always uses its veto to protect Israeli officials from sanctions for their illegal occupation policies in the Palestinian territories that they grabbed beginning in 1967.

The Palestinian David very carefully and with foresight therefore moved to join the International Criminal Court. The first obstacle they faced is that court members have to be members of the United Nations. Since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the eclipse of Labor in favor of the far, far-right Likud and its offshoots, Israel's policy against the Palestinian people has been predicated on preventing Palestinians from ever having a state. They are to be kept stateless and deprived of the basic human rights that come with citizenship in a state.

So, Palestine sought the same status at the U.N. as is enjoyed by the Vatican, of permanent observer state. The General Assembly can grant this status, and did so for Palestine in 2012. Permanent observer states cannot vote, but they are not voiceless and can attend sessions. Palestine's prerogatives were expanded in 2019 when the Group of 77 at the U.N. elected it their chairman that year.

In 2015, the state of Palestine (as the U.N. calls it) acceded to the International Criminal Court and recognized its jurisdiction in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.

This is like three dimensional chess on the part of the Palestinians. Because they now have what is called in the law "standing." They are a permanent observer state at the U.N. and they are signatories to the Rome Statute.

Now just one step was left, which was to take to the ICC those Israeli officials operating in the Palestinian Territories in such a way as to violate the Rome Statute. Palestine did not hurry to do so, hoping that the government of Binyamin Netanyahu would see the legal peril and become more reasonable. But Netanyahu kept stealing their land and urging Trump to cut their funding (which he did), and by 2019 the Palestinians concluded that they had nothing left to lose by filing a claim.

The ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, declared a delay while she sought reassurances that the court had jurisdiction over Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

A little over a year later, she has been assured that it does, given the recognition of the Palestine Authority as the government of those region in the Oslo Accords.

As Mr. Abdu said, this step is more the beginning of something rather than its end. Netanyahu will attempt to obstruct the workings of the court. But this is a great day for the international rule of law, and all believers in human rights should rejoice.

Bonus Video: From 5 months ago: "Palestine takes Israel's war crimes to ICC" | News Bulletin | Indus News

(c) 2021 Juan R.I. Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

Here's my reunion with Wall Street titan Asher Edelman, 33 years after we duked it out on the PBS Newshour.

The Monstrous Predicament Trump Left Behind
By Robert Reich

This week's Senate trial is unlikely to convict Donald Trump of inciting sedition against the United States. At least 17 Republican senators are needed for conviction, but only five have signaled they'll go along.

Why won't Republican senators convict him? After all, it's an open and shut case. As summarized in the brief submitted by House impeachment managers, Trump spent months before the election telling his followers that the only way he could lose was through "a dangerous, wide-ranging conspiracy against them that threatened America itself." Immediately after the election, he lied that he had won by a "landslide," and later urged his followers to stop the counting of electoral ballots by making plans to "fight like hell" and "fight to the death" against this "act of war" perpetrated by "Radical Left Democrats" and the "weak and ineffective RINO section of the Republican Party."

If this isn't an impeachable offense, it's hard to imagine what is. But Republican senators won't convict him because they're answerable to Republican voters, and Republican voters continue to believe Trump's big lie.

A shocking three out of four Republican voters don't think Joe Biden won legitimately. About 45 percent even support the storming of the Capitol.

The crux of the problem is Americans now occupy two separate worlds - a fact-based pro-democracy world and a Trump-based authoritarian one.

Trump spent the last four years seducing voters into his world, turning the GOP from a political party into a grotesque projection of his pathological narcissism.

Regardless of whether he is convicted, America must now deal with the monstrous predicament he left behind: One of the nation's two major political parties has abandoned reality and democracy.

What to do? Four things.

First, prevent Trump from running for president in 2024. The mere possibility energizes his followers.

An impeachment conviction is not the only way to prevent him. Under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, anyone who has taken an oath to protect the Constitution is barred from holding public office if they "have engaged in insurrection" against the United States. As constitutional expert and former Yale Law professor Bruce Ackerman has noted, a majority vote that Trump engaged in insurrection against the United States is sufficient to trigger this clause.

Second, give Republicans and independents every incentive to abandon the Trump cult.

White working-class voters without college degrees who now comprise a large portion of it need good jobs and better futures. Many are understandably angry after being left behind in vast enclaves of unemployment and despair. They should not have to depend on Trump's fact-free fanaticism in order to feel visible and respected.

A jobs program on the scale necessary to bring many of them around will be expensive but worth the cost, especially when democracy hangs in the balance.

Big business, which used to have a home in the GOP, will need a third party. Democrats should not try to court them; the Democratic Party should aim to represent the interests of the bottom 90 percent.

Third, disempower the giant media empires that amplified Trump's lies for four years - Facebook, Twitter, and Rupert Murdoch's Fox News and its imitators. The goal is not to "cancel" the political right but to refocus public deliberation on facts, truth, and logic. Democracy cannot thrive where big lies are systematically and repeatedly exploited for commercial gain.

The solution is antitrust enforcement and stricter regulation of social media, accompanied by countervailing financial pressure. Consumers should boycott products advertised on these lie factories and advertisers should shun them. Large tech platforms should lose legal immunity for violence-inciting content. Broadcasters such as Fox News and Newsmax should be liable for knowingly spreading lies (they are now being sued by producers of voting machinery and software which they accused of having been rigged for Biden).

Fourth, safeguard the democratic form of government. This requires barring corporations and the very wealthy from buying off politicians, ending so-called "dark money" political groups that don't disclose their donors, defending the right to vote, and ensuring more citizens are heard, not fewer.

Let's be clear about the real challenge ahead. The major goal is not to convict Trump of inciting insurrection. It is to move a vast swath of America back into a fact-based pro-democracy society and away from the Trump-based authoritarian one.

Regardless of whether he is convicted, the end of his presidency has given the nation a reprieve. Unless America uses it to end Trumpism's hold over tens of millions of Americans, that reprieve may be temporary.

Thankfully, Joe Biden appears to understand this.

(c) 2021 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

The International Court Of Justice

The Ruling By The International Criminal Court Is A Game-Changer
From now on, Israeli Army soldiers and officers had better think twice about obeying orders to destroy Palestinian homes.
by Adam Keller

The judges of the International Criminal Court in The Hague ruled unequivocally that the court has full authority to hear and decide on Palestinian complaints of violations of International Law by the State of Israel and its army. Thereby, the rules of the game have fundamentally changed.

To date, the only judicial authority authorized to hear cases relating to acts by the Israeli Army in the Occupied Territories had been the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. In spite of prolonged wild incitement waged by Israeli right-wing circles against the Supreme Court and its judges, in practice the Supreme Court was and remains extremely forgiving towards the occupation army, rejecting the vast majority of appeals lodged by Palestinians.

When it comes to the judges of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, it's a completely different matter. The Hague Court is bound by the provisions of International Law, specifically by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 which sets out in detail what an occupying state is allowed - and what it is forbidden - to do in a territory under the military rule of its army. Many of the acts that the IDF routinely undertakes in the territories under its rule may turn out to be serious violations of International Law.

For example: Just a few days ago, on the morning of Monday, February 1, a large military force arrived in the tiny village of Hamsa al-Fouka in the northern Jordan Valley. The soldiers destroyed dozens of residential buildings and sheep pens, leaving 85 Palestinian residents - 45 of them children - homeless and exposed in the open air. The soldiers also demanded that the residents completely leave Hamsa al-Fouka and move to another location that the army would determine for them, threatening that if they did not leave voluntarily, they would be forcibly transferred by the army.

This act of destruction and devastation carried out by the army - and it is certainly not the first of its kind - has gone virtually unnoticed by the Israeli public and political system. Knesset Members who habitually engage in loud and vociferous debates failed to take up this issue. But make no mistake: outside the borders of the State of Israel, there are those who constantly monitor and closely record such acts.

At the International Court, indictments can certainly be filed against IDF officers and settlers as well as against officials and ministers in the Government of Israel. Among other things, acts of wanton destruction - carried out especially against small and highly vulnerable Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley and the South Hebron Hills - can certainly lead to the filing of indictments against everybody involved.

From now on, IDF officers should think twice about obeying an order to participate in such acts of destruction, and risk serious consequences. Officers who nevertheless decide to continue participating in these acts of destruction had better make an effort to keep their identities secret, constantly wear masks regardless of the Covid-19 situation, and in general start acting like law-breakers evading law enforcement - because that is exactly what their legal status is about to become.

Decision-makers in the State of Israel have been well aware in recent weeks that the decision of the judges in The Hague was imminent, and that President Trump - who tried to intimidate the International Court by series of blatant threats - is no longer in the White House. It is surprising that in such a situation the decision-makers continued to order soldiers and officers to go on destroying Palestinian homes, when knowing that those who carry out such orders may have to pay a heavy price.

Defense Minister Gantz should look up from his clashes with the Prime Minister and his party's precarious electoral situation, and think about the consequences of the Hague judges' decision - the consequences for himself personally, both regarding his former position as Army Chief of Staff and his present one as Defense Minister, and the changing judicial situation of the soldiers and officers for whom he is responsible as being in charge of Israel's military system.

(c) 2021 Adam Keller, is the Gush Shalom Spokesperson +972-(0)54-2340749

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Daryl Cagle ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Donald Trump smiling through a car window

Trump Excitedly Accepts Democrats' Offer To Star In New TV Show
By Andy Borowitz

PALM BEACH (The Borowitz Report)-Calling it "the best news I've had in months," Donald J. Trump has excitedly accepted congressional Democrats' offer to star in a new, nationally broadcast television show.

Trump boasted to reporters about his new TV opportunity, which was presented to him, on Thursday, by Representative Jamie Raskin.

"It's going to be similar to 'The Apprentice,' because I'll be sitting behind a table, but it will also be a little different," Trump explained. "Instead of me asking a lot of questions, people will be asking me the questions. That should spice things up."

The former President said that the "most amazing" aspect of his new show would be the number of networks broadcasting it.

"'The Apprentice' was just on NBC," he said. "This is going to be on every network at the same time. Even those losers at CNN have committed to putting it on."

Trump predicted that his incredible comeback vehicle would silence the doubters who have said that he was all washed up.

"According to Raskin, no other President has ever had a show like this," he said. "I've still got it."

(c) 2021 Andy Borowitz

The Animal Rescue Site

Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 07 (c) 02/12/2021

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