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WaPo: Trump and Netanyahu have made Mideast peace an even more distant prospect

THE MIDEAST peace plan that President Trump unveiled at the White HouseTuesday amounts, as a practical matter, to another one-sided gift to the right-wing Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Trump promised U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and all of the settlements Israel has constructed in the West Bank — a radical shift in a half-century-old American policy.

Mr. Netanyahu, who gleefully pledged to immediately “apply Israeli law to all areas the plan recognizes,” reciprocated by calling Mr. Trump “the greatest friend Israel has ever had in the White House.” Mr. Trump can be expected to flog that endorsement as he seeks reelection this year. Mr. Netanyahu, in turn, will present himself to Israeli voters in a March election as the leader who extracted once-unimaginable concessions from Washington. Both leaders can hope to distract from ongoing scandals: Mr. Trump from his impeachment trial and Mr. Netanyahu from his indictment Tuesdayon corruption charges.

U.S. sanctions for the annexation of settlements will meanwhile deliver a devastating blow to the prospects for a two-state resolution between Israelis and Palestinians. Those who actually favor that, as we do, will have to hope that the remainder of the plan is soon forgotten. Otherwise, it may provide a new set of benchmarks that will make peace impossible and from which future Israeli and U.S. governments will find it hard to retreat.

The terms Mr. Trump set for Palestinian statehood are virtually identical to those promoted by Mr. Netanyahu, which is no doubt why the latter was so quick to endorse them. The Palestinian “state” would lack many conventional aspects of sovereignty, including control over its borders, airspace, territorial waters and international relations. Israel would retain “overriding security responsibility,” including the right to send its own forces into Palestinian territory. Tens of thousands of Israelis would go on living in settlements inside the new Arab state and would be governed by Israel. And Israel would have full sovereignty over Jerusalem, except for a few areas already outside the city’s security barrier.

Susan Collins becomes the Joe Wilson of the Impeachment Trial.

Like Joe Wilson, who screamed (incorrectly) "You lie!" at President Obama when Obama said the ACA would not cover undocumented immigrants, Susan Collins broke decorum and Impeachment Trial rules by shouting from the floor "Not true" several times as Adam Schiff relayed a story he had heard that Trump threatened Senators that if they voted against the President their "head" would end up "on a pike."

Of course, she has no way of knowing if Trump did indeed issue such a warning, so has no basis to yell "not true." And of course there is nothing untrue about Schiff relaying a report he had heard. She broke decorum to yell a lie, like Joe Wilson.

And that's after she passed a note to Roberts to complain that Nadler used the word, "liar," and got Roberts to issue an admonishment about maintaining decorum.

Collins can hardly call call herself a moderate if she has stepped into Joe Wilson's shoes.

John Roberts comes face to face with the mess he made

Roberts’s captivity is entirely fitting: He is forced to witness, with his own eyes, the mess he and his colleagues on the Supreme Court have made of the U.S. political system. As representatives of all three branches of government attend this unhappy family reunion, the living consequences of the Roberts Court’s decisions, and their corrosive effect on democracy, are plain to see.
Ten years to the day before Trump’s impeachment trial began, the Supreme Court released its Citizens United decision, plunging the country into the era of super PACs and unlimited, unregulated, secret campaign money from billionaires and foreign interests. Citizens United, and the resulting rise of the super PAC, led directly to this impeachment. The two Rudy Giuliani associates engaged in key abuses — the ouster of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, the attempts to force Ukraine’s president to announce investigations into Trump’s political opponents — gained access to Trump by funneling money from a Ukrainian oligarch to the president’s super PAC.

The Roberts Court’s decisions led to this moment in indirect ways, as well. The court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County gutted the Voting Rights Act and spurred a new wave of voter suppression. The decision in 2014′s McCutcheon further surrenderedcampaign finance to the wealthiest. The 2018 Janus decision hobbled the ability of labor unions to counter wealthy donors, while the 2019 Rucho ruling blessed partisan gerrymandering, expanding anti-democratic tendencies.
It’s a symbiotic relationship. On the day the impeachment trial opened, the Roberts Court rejected a plea by Democrats to expedite its consideration of the latest legal attempt by Republicans to kill Obamacare. The court sided with Republicans who opposed an immediate Supreme Court review because the GOP feared the ruling could hurt it if the decision came before the 2020 election.


That was an anti-abortion loon who interrupted Jeffries from the gallery.

From NBC News:

Jeffries was briefly interrupted by a protester yelling loudly. 

The protester was escorted out of the chamber within seconds, and Jeffries resumed his remarks, but the protester continued to scream loudly just outside the chamber, on the third floor near the press gallery.

He could be heard yelling, "Schumer is the devil," "Dismiss the trial of impeachment," and he repeatedly mentioned abortion, as he was arrested and led away by Capitol Police. 


I fucking hate anti-abortion nutbags. They want to be the loudest voice in the room and drown everyone else out, whether by volume or violence.

Women put in 12.5 billions of hours ($10.8 trillion) of unpaid, undervalued care work.

The report, called “Time to Care,” puts a spotlight on those who care for the young, the sick and the elderly, the vast majority of whom are women and girls working long hours for little or no pay. Globally, women provide 12.5 billion hours a day of care work without pay, which the Oxfam report calculates adds at least $10.8 trillion of value to the economy every year. This work is undervalued socially and economically, but, the report says, “It also lays the foundations in society that make possible enormous economic wealth accrued by others and helps to generate enormous economic wealth.” 

Gowland gave the example of a woman in rural Zimbabwe who has to walk four hours a day to fetch water for her family. “The consequences of that are really obvious,” she said. “Girls are pulled out of school to do this unpaid care work, women can’t access fair, decent jobs and wages, and the biggest thing is the fact that they just don’t have time to contribute to societies, to any kind of political discourse or engagement with how their societies are run.”

This care crisis is not just affecting developing countries. The U.S. child care system, for example, is costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars a year in lost wages and lost opportunities, according to a report published Wednesday by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Child care providers in America are overwhelmed and underpaid, with a median wage of $12 an hour, according to the report’s findings. Meanwhile, parents, most often women, are being forced to give up work or turn down better-paying jobs because of the expense of child care.  


2019 capped off the world's hottest decade in recorded history

Source: Washington Post

The past decade was the hottest ever recorded on the planet, driven by an acceleration of temperature increases in the past five years, according to new data released Wednesday by the U.S. government.

The findings, released jointly by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), detail a troubling trajectory: 2019 was the second-hottest year on record, trailing only 2016. The past five years each rank among the five hottest since record-keeping began. And 19 of the hottest 20 years have occurred during the past two decades.

The warming trend also bears the unmistakable fingerprint of humans, who continue to emit tens of billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, scientists say.

In fact, Berkeley Earth researchers said, no place on Earth experienced a record cold annual average during 2019. But 36 countries — from Belize to Botswana, from Slovakia to South Africa — experienced their hottest year since instrumental records began. Those same researchers estimated that more warming lies ahead, and that a 95 percent chance exists that 2020 will become one of the five hottest years.


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2020/01/15/2010s-hottest-decade-world/?arc404=true

US tried to kill Iranian commander in Yemen same night as Soleimani strike: Officials

Source: ABC News

An unsuccessful strike on another high-ranking Iranian military commander took place in Yemen on the same night a U.S. drone strike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, two sources told ABC News.

The Jan. 2 nighttime strike targeted Abdul Reza Shahla'i, a key Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander, at his compound in Yemen, where he led Iran's military support for the Houthi rebel group backed by Iran, according to a counterterrorism official and a U.S. official.

The strike on the compound was carried out by a drone, the counterterrorism official told ABC News, adding that by the next morning the U.S. learned the strike was unsuccessful.

A former counterterrorism official told ABC News Shahla'i was in charge of Iran's operations inside Yemen, particularly the flow of missiles and drones to Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who have used those weapons to attack Saudi Arabia.

Read more: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/us-kill-iranian-commander-yemen-night-soleimani-strike/story?id=68200887&cid=clicksource_4380645_null_hero_hed

Looks like now we're Saudi Arabia's mercenaries. Jared must need cash.

Collins Sides With McConnell On Impeachment Trial

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said she is “open” to calling witnesses in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. However, she added that it is too early to determine which witnesses should appear and that the Senate ought to decide after opening arguments and initial questioning of both sides.

“I am open to witnesses. I think it’s premature to decide who should be called until we see the evidence that is presented and get the answers to the questions that we senators can submit through the chief justice to both sides,” Collins told Maine Public Radio on Monday.

Collins’ stance on the parameters of the impeachment trial aligns her with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has all but promised a swift acquittal of Trump. McConnell has argued for following the framework of the 1999 impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton, which punted a decision on witness testimony until after the initial arguments and senatorial questioning.

“We haven’t ruled out witnesses,” McConnell said last week in a “Fox & Friends” interview. “We’ve said let’s handle this case just like we did with President Clinton. Fair is fair.”


Winners and losers from the December Democratic debate


Joe Biden: I’ve had him as a loser in just about every debate thus far. He’s been halting, often confused and hasn’t shown himself to be the kind of debater Democrats will want going toe-to-toe with President Trump. Thursday night was better. It wasn’t flawless, but he kept things on the rails, had flashes of good humor, and was deft with tough moments he could see approaching, including about his age.

He dealt particularly well with the toughest question he got, which was about a recent Washington Post report on how leaders, including those in the Obama administration, misled the country about the status of the war in Afghanistan. He said he argued against nation-building there and emphasized disagreements with the Pentagon about things like the troops surge. And he’s got documents to back that up. He had previously struggled when asked to own particular elements of the Obama legacy, but not Thursday.

Biden also described how he connects with voters, including by talking like a child who stutters — something he struggled with when he was younger. President Trump’s former press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, appeared to not pick up on what Biden was actually doing and ridiculed him on Twitter, which could be a lasting moment from this debate. Sanders later apologized and deleted that tweet.

Perhaps most importantly for him, as the candidate who leads almost all of the national polls — and has in recent weeks reasserted that lead — the other candidates mostly gave him a pass. Even when the topic was conducting high-dollar fundraisers, most of the heat was trained on South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and when Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) seemed to want to press the issue on Biden, he was bypassed. Suddenly, we saw the Joe Biden who dealt with Paul D. Ryan in the 2012 vice presidential debate. Will he stick around, though?


WaPo: Impeachment exposes the widening gap between Republicans and the truth

THE HOUSE Judiciary Committee’s debate about articles of impeachment Wednesday and Thursday underlined the yawning gap between Democrats and Republicans over President Trump’s behavior — and also between Republicans and the truth.

Democrats arguing for the president’s impeachment repeatedly cited evidence that Mr. Trump conditioned military aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting with its president on an announcement by Ukraine that it would investigate former vice president Joe Biden and a conspiracy theory about the 2016 U.S. election. Most Republicans responded with the diversions they have offered since the impeachment process began: spurious complaints about the process, coupled with claims that Democrats were interested only in reversing the results of the 2016 election.

Remarkably, not one GOP member of the Judiciary Committee was ready to acknowledge that there was anything wrong with Mr. Trump’s demand that a foreign government pursue false charges against one of his most likely Democratic opponents in the 2020 election. They could have followed the example of the several Republican legislators who have said Mr. Trump’s actions were improper but not impeachable. Instead, they offered a display of blind fealty, portraying Mr. Trump as a victim of Democratic persecution while ignoring or misrepresenting the evidence against him.Some served up gross distortions and falsehoods. Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), among Mr. Trump’s most ardent supporters, repeated what they described as four key points, all of which are starkly at odds with sworn testimony and documents. They said there was no quid pro quo mentioned in a July 25 phone call between Mr. Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky; but the documented contacts between U.S. and Ukrainian officials before the call make clear that when Mr. Zelensky promised to conduct the investigations Mr. Trump wanted, and Mr. Trump answered by offering him a White House visit, they were confirming a precooked deal.

The Republicans said the Ukrainians never felt pressured by Mr. Trump, relying on a polite comment Mr. Zelensky made while sitting next to Mr. Trump and disregarding the testimony of U.S. diplomats in Kyiv, who described the Ukrainian president and his aides as “desperate.” Republicans said the Ukrainians did not know that Mr. Trump had withheld military aid, even though a Pentagon official testified the Ukrainians first asked about the hold the same day the two presidents spoke. Finally, Mr. Jordan and Mr. Gaetz pointed to the fact that Ukrainians received military aid without announcing the investigations. But Mr. Trump released the aid two days after the announcement of a congressional investigation of his extortion attempt — and Mr. Zelensky still has not been invited to the White House.

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