News Articles | January 30, 2022

Afghanistan, Assange, Climate Change, Cuba, economy, fascism, GOP, Oil, Politics, renewable energy, Russia, Ukraine, Uncategorized, unions, vaccine, voting, Wall Street, War, Yemen

When Republicans blocked the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act on January 19, 2022, they removed the last safety net preventing the U.S.’s plummet toward authoritarianism. As a result, we are at this moment in a state of free-fall, the culmination of a state-level legislative and enforcement landscape that directly mirrors Jim Crow — or as fascism scholar Jason Stanley recently put it, “America is now in fascism’s legal phase.” Although we do have ways of fighting back, the situation is dire.

We often hear that the U.S.’s founding documents, courts and institutions make it immune to despotism, but this claim is simply false and erases our country’s troubling history with white supremacy — one the GOP is poised to reinvigorate. During Reconstruction, for example, Louisiana experienced dozens of coups and massacres at both the local and state levels. These escalated after white supremacists refused to concede defeat in the state election of 1872, opting instead to set up a shadow government under losing candidate John McEnery. READ MORE

The G7 meeting focused attention on many challenges facing the world, but it did not address the most dangerous threat of them all, which is the transformation of the Republican Party in the US into a fascist movement.

When Donald Trump was in the White House there was much debate about whether or not he could be called a fascist in the full sense of the word, and not merely as a political insult. His presidency showed many of the characteristics of a fascist dictatorship, except the crucial one of automatic re-election.

But Trump or Trump-like leaders may not have to face this democratic impediment in future. It was only this year that the final building blocks have been put in place by Republicans as they replicate the structure of fascist movements in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. READ MORE

Eighty years after the first Americans went to war against Nazi-backed fascists, a small group of historians trying to preserve the volunteers’ memory has found their services unexpectedly in demand.

“Why are people puzzled over the meaning of that word, fascism?” asked Peter Carroll, a historian of the Spanish civil war at Stanford University. “Do I think Donald Trump is Adolf Hitler? No. But there are patterns of contempt for opposition by political leaders that are as unacceptable and intolerable as National Socialism.”

For decades, Carroll has worked with a nonprofit, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (Alba), which hosted reunions for the volunteers. As the survivors aged, the nonprofit turned to awarding human rights work, and more recently started a workshop for high school teachers on how to teach history in an age when politics feels inescapable.

Tracy Blake, an Ohio high school teacher who has taken part in the workshop, said students have grown fascinated, and sometimes frightened, by the news. “They see the connections anytime we’re talking about oppression,” he said. “They ask questions about whether or not we could go down this or that road.” READ MORE

As 2022 has begun its 365-day stay in the American house, it’s time to focus on the most important threat in the coming year: the fascist assault on democracy.

The historically literate no longer holster the f-word to describe the 21 million Americans who would reinstall Donald Trump via violence. Trump’s sock puppets may prattle about a “ragtag band of misfits” that stormed the Capitol last Jan. 6. But “misfits” don’t boast a cheering section that could populate Massachusetts three times over. And only those of stunted vocabulary use “ragtag” (“untidy, disorganized, or incongruously varied in character”) to describe the insurrection’s tidy, organized arm: Trump’s behind-the-scenes machinations to steal the election procedurally.

Fascists justify bloodshed over ballots on grounds that their Dear Leader was robbed in 2020. That belief was adjudicated as lunatic in 60 court cases, sometimes by Trump judges, and by multiple, even Trump-friendly, election probes. But “to the true believer, the lack of solid evidence simply confirms how well hidden the rigging was.” READ MORE

Wherever fascism has risen in the world, it has historically followed the same playbook. Hyper-nationalist demagogues seize on societal discord by inflaming divisions between themselves and marginalized populations, instigating a moral panic, and attempting to seize power by promising to bring a nation in shambles back to glory. Anyone who dissents is silenced, whether by exile, incarceration, or by force. And that use of force can either come from the government itself, or it can be outsourced to vigilantes who act with the tacit blessing of the state. Today’s Republican Party is acting alarmingly similar: Not just in its words and actions, but in its encouragement of vigilante violence to achieve political goals. READ MORE

One year after pro-Trump protesters ransacked the United States Capitol on January 6, the legacy of the deadliest attack on Congress since the War of 1812 is not the jail sentences of the few dozen protesters convicted for participating in the failed coup attempt. Rather, Americans should be thoroughly alarmed by the Republican Party’s continued amplification of the Big Lie that fueled the insurrection, and the failure of our institutions to meet the urgency of the moment. READ MORE

After he announced in December he would not be supporting President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better Act, Sen. Joe Manchin’s political action committee received the maximum allowable contribution from billionaire Republican donor Ken Langone.

The Hill reported late Friday that the wealthy investor, who supported former President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, gave $5,000 to Manchin’s Country Roads PAC less than two weeks after the right-wing Democratic senator from West Virginia said he would not join his party in supporting the president’s agenda.

Langone’s wife also contributed $5,000 to the PAC, while other political donations the megadonor made around the same time went to the Koch family-backed Americans for Prosperity Action and the Senate Leadership Fund, a GOP super PAC. READ MORE

Due to a voter suppression law that was passed by Republicans in Georgia last year, the rate of voters in the state who didn’t vote after having mail-in ballot applications rejected increased 45-fold, according to a new analysis by Mother Jones.

During Georgia’s municipal elections in 2021, mail-in ballot applications were rejected at a rate that was four times higher than during the 2020 election. Officials rejected a record rate of 4 percent of absentee ballot.

Mother Jones analyzed how many voters didn’t go on to cast a ballot in person due to their mail-in applications being denied, a rate that also increased dramatically last year. Of the 1,038 people who had their applications rejected in 2021, only about a quarter ultimately cast a ballot in person. READ MORE

Workers at a massive General Motors plant in central Mexico will vote in a landmark election this week to decide which union will represent the plant’s 6,500 workers. A victory by the independent union there would be a big step toward breaking the stranglehold of the employer-friendly unions that have long dominated Mexico’s labor scene.

Employees at the factory in Silao, Guanajuato, voted last August to invalidate the contract bargained by a corrupt local of the Confederation of Mexican Labor (CTM), ending the CTM’s right to represent the workers there.

Four unions are now competing to represent them. Two have ties to the CTM; activists suspect a third union, about which little is known, was created to sow confusion. The fourth, SINTTIA (the National Auto Workers Union), is an independent union that grew out of the campaign to remove the previous corrupt union, and the campaign to reinstate a group of workers who were fired after refusing overtime in solidarity with striking U.S. GM workers in 2019. READ MORE

As the Federal Reserve signals it will raise interest rates in March, we talk to Christopher Leonard, author of the new book The Lords of Easy Money, about how the Federal Reserve broke the American economy. He details the issues with quantitative easing, a radical intervention instituted by the federal government in 2010 to encourage banks and investors to lend more risky debt to combat the recession. “The Fed’s policies over the last decades have stoked the world of Wall Street,” says Leonard. “It has pumped trillions of dollars into the banking system and thereby inflated these markets for stocks, for bonds. And that drives income inequality.” READ MORE

"Russia doesn't want war. Ukraine doesn't want war. The American people don't want war," said CodePink. "The Biden administration needs to get with the program and STOP endangering us all."

Anti-war advocates accused the Biden administration of continued warmongering late Friday into Saturday after President Joe Biden confirmed he plans to send U.S. troops to Eastern Europe.

"I'll be moving troops to Eastern Europe in the NATO countries in the near term," Biden told reporters at Joint Base Andrews late Friday. "Not too many."

Earlier this week, the president announced that 8,500 troops were standing ready for a potential deployment to confront what the White House says is an imminent attack by Russian forces in Ukraine—despite pleas by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to stop creating "panic."

In a phone call Thursday night, Zelensky reportedly questioned the Biden administration's belief—promoted by the corporate media—that a Russian invasion is "imminent." READ MORE

The survey's findings echo the pleas of progressive lawmakers, who assert "there is no military solution" to the crisis involving the world's two foremost nuclear powers.

A majority of Americans want the Biden administration to work with Russia toward a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis in order to avert a potentially catastrophic war, according to the results of a new poll published Friday.

According to the Data for Progress survey of 1,214 likely U.S. voters, 58% of overall respondents "somewhat" or "strongly" support the Biden administration "striking a deal with Russia to avoid war over Ukraine."

Among Democrats, support for such a move was 71%, while 51% of Independents and 46% of Republicans agreed with the prospective policy.

The poll's findings echo pleas from U.S. progressives, who urge President Joe Biden to pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis, in which the world's two foremost nuclear powers are involved.  READ MORE

"If it depends on Russia, then there will be no war," said the Russian foreign minister. "We don't want wars."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov asserted Friday that his government has no desire to take military action in Ukraine, contrary to what peace advocates and Ukrainian officials have denounced as the United States' overly heated rhetoric in recent weeks.

"If it depends on Russia, then there will be no war," Lavrov said on a Russian radio program. "We don't want wars. But we also won't allow our interests to be rudely trampled, to be ignored."

Lavrov's remarks came as Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke with French President Emanuel Macron in hopes of avoiding through diplomacy what French officials have said would be a "self-fulfilling" military conflict in Ukraine. READ MORE

Back in December, Russia sent the U.S. and NATO two draft treaty documents spelling out its demands for security guarantees related to NATO’s posture in Eastern Europe. These demands came in a climate of tension fueled by both a Russian military buildup bordering Ukraine, and U.S. and NATO hysteria over what they deemed an imminent Russian military incursion into Ukraine.

The written replies that arrived on Jan. 22 failed — as expected — to address any of Russia’s concerns, including the red line of continued NATO expansion. Rather, the U.S. and NATO listed alternative pathways to diplomatic engagement, including arms control and limits on military exercises, and they now couch the ongoing crisis as a choice between accepting the diplomatic offramp they dictated, or war. READ MORE

The telephone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday was said to have not “gone well,” according to a senior Ukrainian official.

The official said Zelensky urged Biden to “calm down the messaging” on the situation in Ukraine and that Ukrainian intelligence did not see a Russian threat the same way the U.S. did, according to a report on CNN.  It is  “dangerous but ambiguous,” the official quoted Zelensky as telling Biden, and that “it is not certain that an attack will take place.”

At a news conference on Friday, Zelensky said: “They keep supporting this theme, this topic.And they make it as acute and burning as possible. In my opinion, this is a mistake.” He added: “If you look only at the satellites you will see the increase in troops and you can’t assess whether this is just a threat of attack or just a simple rotation.”  READ MORE

"Continued servicing of these jets could make the United States complicit in these likely war crimes," tweeted Rep. Tom Malinowski.

A group of 12 House Democrats is urging President Joe Biden to suspend a contract that keeps Saudi warplanes maintained and able to cause "untold suffering" on the people of Yemen.

The letter to Biden, led by Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), comes amid an escalation in the Saudi-led coalition's bombing of Yemen and on the same day United Nations officials warned that the civilian death toll from the bombing campaign could break records this month.

"In the last few days," the lawmakers wrote, "the Saudi-led coalition has further intensified its strikes on civilian targets, including a migrant detention center and telecommunications facilities, killing over 70 and injuring over 100 noncombatants."

The warplanes conducting the strikes, they continued, "are sustained and kept flying under a contract approved by the United States government." READ MORE

Following deadly strikes by the Saudi-led coalition, Oxfam is calling on the U.N. Security Council to condemn attacks on Yemenis and to "inject new urgency" into peace talks.

As United Nations officials projected Tuesday that the civilian death toll from the Saudi-led coalition's strikes on Yemen will break records this month, Oxfam shared the group's difficulties providing aid in the war-torn country and urged action from the U.N. Security Council.

"People are really struggling. Last night we had more airstrikes. Everyone is frightened," Abdulwasea Mohammed, Oxfam's Yemen advocacy, campaigns, and media manager, said from Sanaa, Yemen's capital.

"Children are traumatized—we tell them don't worry, it's all fine, but they wake up to the sound of massive explosions just like we do," he continued. "Each night we go to bed and just pray we wake up in the morning." READ MORE

Most reporting in the current conflict leaves out the crucial role the U.S. has played in escalating tensions in the region.

As tensions began to rise over Ukraine, US media produced a stream of articles attempting to explain the situation with headlines like “Ukraine Explained” (New York Times12/8/21) and “What You Need to Know About Tensions Between Ukraine and Russia” (Washington Post, 11/26/21). Sidebars would have notes that tried to provide context for the current headlines. But to truly understand this crisis, you would need to know much more than what these articles offered.

These “explainer” pieces are emblematic of Ukraine coverage in the rest of corporate media, which almost universally gave a pro-Western view of US/Russia relations and the history behind them. Media echoed the point of view of those who believe the US should have an active role in Ukrainian politics and enforce its perspective through military threats. READ MORE

When wages are stagnating at the same time that big business is accumulating a staggering amount of wealth, it is an indictment of our democracy.

The one-year anniversary of the attack on the Capitol has come and gone, and a lot has been said about the need to fight back against existential threats to our democracy. Not enough is being said, however, about what’s being fought for and won in workplaces across the country.

Make no mistake, that fight is about democracy too.

It’s no accident that workers across the country are choosing this moment to demand better. The global pandemic dramatically shifted people’s priorities—and who has leverage in a tight labor market. Tens of thousands of Americans across industries have demanded wage increases, more humane schedules, and an end to dangerous work. And they’re winning, because employers facing labor shortages are finding it harder to force people to accept poor working conditions and pay.

Understanding how we got here is critical to building upon this progress. READ MORE

With candor you don't hear in official circles, top arms contractors say recent violence and tension works in their shareholders' favor.

According to chief executives of the top taxpayer-funded weapons firms, their balance sheets will benefit from the U.S. engaging in great power competition with Russia and China, the recent escalations in the Yemen war, and the potential for a Russian invasion of Ukraine. But at least one CEO didn’t want to give the impression that weapons firms are simply merchants of death, claiming that her firm, the third largest weapons producer in the world, “actually promote[s] human rights proliferation.”

Those comments were all made on quarterly earnings calls this week, at which executives for publicly traded companies speak to investors and analysts who follow their industries and answer questions about their financial outlook.

The occasion brings out a degree of candor about companies’ fundamentals and their business interests that aren’t always disclosed in marketing materials and carefully worded press releases. READ MORE

One legal advocate called the Ninth Circuit's opinion "a great decision and a major victory for internet users in California and nationwide."

Progressives rejoiced Friday after a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld California's net neutrality law, rejecting an industry-funded challenge that sought to prevent the state from implementing protections enacted in the wake of the Trump administration's gutting of federal open internet rules.

Digital rights group Fight for the Future, which played a key role in mobilizing grassroots support for California's net neutrality law—widely considered the nation's strongest—noted in a statement that "telecom giants like AT&T and Comcast spent millions of dollars lobbying against S.B. 822. They even funded astroturf groups that spammed senior citizens with robocalls. And surely they spent big money on the attorneys who just lost this case for them."

"The California net neutrality law is now clearly enforceable, and bars telecom companies from blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization, abusing their gatekeeper power in interconnection, or engaging in 'zero rating' scams," the group added. "The court's decision also clearly paves the way for other states to impose their own net neutrality protections." READ MORE

It's time for lawmakers from both parties to show—with their actions not empty promises—whether or not they are the side of this country's working people.

The following is based on an email sent to supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Wednesday, January 26, 2022:

Here is the political dilemma that we face.

This year we have brought forth, through the Build Back Better Act, an agenda that in an unprecedented way addresses the long-neglected needs of the working families of our country who are struggling through the worst public health crisis in 100 years. And this is an agenda which is enormously popular.

Yes. The American people want to lower the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs, significantly improve home health care, expand Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision needs, lower the rate of childhood poverty, provide affordable child care and build the affordable housing we desperately need.

Yes. The American people want us to save the planet for future generations and create hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs by transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energy. READ MORE

"With the state continuing to undermine their health, safety, and futures," said the plaintiffs' lead counsel, "we will evaluate our next steps and will continue to fight for climate justice."

Young Alaskans—and their attorneys—vowed to keep fighting Friday after the Alaska Supreme Court's split decision denying their right to bring a constitutional case challenging the state's fossil fuels policy.

"By refusing to even hear our case, the court is bending to the political will of politicians rather than working towards justice for our generation and future generations," declared 24-year-old Griffin Plush, one of the 16 plaintiffs, who include Alaska Natives.

"The risk to our communities from worsening climate change is real, and ignoring the reality on the ground will not avoid that risk, only moving away from burning fossil fuels will," he said. "Despite today's decision, we will keep fighting for Alaska's climate future. This is not over." READ MORE

"The Biden administration must end new leasing and phase out existing drilling," said one advocate. "Anything less would be a gross failure of climate leadership."

A federal judge late Thursday blocked the Biden administration's massive oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico, a significant win for environmentalists as they work to prevent the Interior Department from handing public lands and waters over to the fossil fuel industry.

In his 68-page decision (pdf), Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. wrote that the Biden administration violated federal law by not adequately accounting for the emissions impact of the sale, which would have been the biggest offshore oil and gas lease sell-off in the country's history. READ MORE

"This lifesaving package," said the head of Progressive International's delegation to Cuba, exemplifies public health and science being "placed above private profit and petty nationalism."

At a Tuesday press conference convened by Progressive International, individuals from Cuba's medical community explained their plan to deliver 200 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to low-income nations in the Global South—along with technology to enable domestic production and expert support to improve distribution.

"Today's announcements by Cuban scientists should mark a historic turning point in the history of the Covid-19 pandemic," David Adler, general coordinator of the Progressive International (PI) and head of its delegation to Cuba, said in a statement. "This lifesaving package sets the standard for vaccine internationalism."

Despite the added challenges imposed by a six-decade-long U.S. embargo—including syringe shortages and blocked solidarity donations—Cuba's public biotech sector has developed two highly effective Covid-19 vaccines and its universal healthcare system has fully inoculated over 86% of its population. READ MORE

The Supreme Court justice appeared to be "pointedly talking about threats facing the country," said one observer.

Officially announcing his retirement Thursday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer quoted former President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address as the outgoing jurist suggested the country was embroiled in something like the "great civil war" of the nation's past.

"This is a complicated country," said the justice, adding that the U.S. was conceived as "an experiment" as he held up a copy of the U.S. Constitution.

"We are now engaged in a great civil war to determine whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure," Breyer added, quoting the words of Lincoln.

The justice announced his retirement just over a year after former President Donald Trump incited a deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol which was aimed at overturning the results of the 2020 election—an incident that Trump's allies continue to downplay as the former president leads in 2024 presidential candidate polls. READ MORE

The common accusation hurled at proponents of covid-19 vaccines, like me, is that we are carrying dirty water for Big Pharma. The overwhelming evidence that vaccines are safe, does not matter. The fact that they are effective at keeping people out of the hospital, doesn’t matter. The scientific certainty that vaccines reduce transmission (especially among the boostedeven against omicron), doesn’t matter. These truths, the conspiracists boldly tell us, are simply cooked up by Big Pharma’s goons and spoon-fed to the gullible masses by mainstream media and their corporate overlords.

Anti-vaxxers have a laundry list of reasons why they will never accept the hard data, let alone give it an unbiased look. Hospitals and public health departments are all in on the big hoax too, you see, paid off by all those covert pharmaceutical agents. Bill Gates and Dr. Fauci are getting rich off the devious scheme, and we are all suckers for buying the tricksters’ plandemic lies. The real goods, the disbelievers confess, are being censored and they alone hold the keys to the truth behind what’s really going on. After all, Big Pharma has a huge incentive to spread their filthy lies. You remember the opioid-pushing Sacklers, don’t ya? READ MORE

Former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his prosecutors are reportedly finalizing the details of a plea deal that would practically water down, shelve, or drop altogether all three major corruption cases that have led to his high-profile trial in May 2020. If such news actualizes, Israel would officially sink to a new low in terms of political nepotism and corruption.

News of the possible deal has, once more, placed the controversial Israeli politician back at the center stage of media coverage. Many questions are being asked about the details of the agreement, the timing and the long-term impact on Netanyahu’s political future. READ MORE

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists unveiled the resetting of the Doomsday Clock on January 20th 2022, electing to keep the clock’s setting at 100 seconds to midnight, same as 2021, which is not at all encouraging since that’s as bad as the setting has ever been.

The past few resets of the incomparable clock have essentially been SOS signals to world leadership to get its act together or suffer horrendous consequences, specifically regarding: (1) nuclear and biological weaponry, (2) climate change/global warming, and (3) disruptive technologies exacerbated by an over-the-top, in their words: “Corrupted information ecosphere that undermines rational decision making.”

The world-famous clock was initially set at the dawn of the Cold War at 7 minutes to midnight in 1947. Subsequently, its best (most promising) level was 17 minutes to midnight in 1991, following the fall of the Soviet Union, widely considered the end of the Cold War. READ MORE

You were wrong if you spent this past year fretting about the government, led by Biden, harming the prospects of our wealthy comrades—the “job creators.” If an increase in their wealth is used to determine success, 2021 may have been a less successful year than 2020 but, despite the pandemic, our wealthy friends were doing alright.

According to the Federal Reserve Board, the bankers’ bank, as of the end of the third quarter of 2021, the wealth of the wealthiest 1% had grown since the fourth quarter of 2020 by $4.98 trillion from $38.96 trillion to $43.94 trillion for a 12.78% gain in the first nine months of 2021, outstripping the inflation rate for the whole year of around 7%. This increase in their wealth of $4.98 trillion would cover more than twice the amount of the watered-down Build Back Better legislation. READ MORE

Despite the pro-climate rhetoric of the insurance industry—and warnings by the world’s climate scientists calling for an end to fossil fuel exploration—leading global insurers are backing the Brazilian government’s massive offshore oil expansion, according to a new report titled, “Fueling Climate Change: The Insurers Behind Brazil’s Offshore Oil Expansion.” Released on January 20 by Insure Our Future, a coalition of environmental and consumer protection groups, the report—based on internal documents that have never been disclosed—reveals how major international insurance firms are assisting the expansion of environmentally destructive deep-sea oil and gas operations in fragile ecosystems off the coast of Brazil.

“Given how secretive insurers are about their project involvement and the lack of disclosure requirements, this information is rarely available for major fossil fuel projects,” states the report, which calls out “Chubb, MAPFRE and Tokio Marine, three insurers from the U.S., Spain, and Japan, respectively.”  READ MORE

If you’re a Texan with a disability, and you need someone to help you fill out your ballot in a polling place (it’s gotten more complicated for you to get a mail-in ballot), your assistant must fill out a document indicating his or her relationship to you, and that person will be restricted as to the kind of assistance he or she can provide.

If you’re a Black or Latino Texan, you probably know by now that the Texas legislature has eliminated the state’s one Black majority congressional district and has reduced the number of Latino-majority districts from eight to seven. These changes have taken place even though the state has added two congressional seats because of a four-million person population increase from 2010 to 2020, with new minority residents comprising 95 percent of that growth. READ MORE

It has been a cold cold winter for Afghanistan and I’m afraid it’s only getting colder. As the temperature drops below freezing and the snow continues to fall, this tiny war-torn nation that has already seen so many different shades of hell faces yet another humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. With their post-occupation economy in shambles, millions of desperate Afghans are facing the terrifying possibility of starving to death if they don’t freeze first. According to the World Health Organization, over one million Afghan children may die this winter as a result of malnutrition if drastic steps aren’t taken to avert this famine and according to the World Food Program, 23 million people, which accounts for more than half the Afghan population, are facing extreme levels of hunger. Afghans are increasingly finding themselves choosing between food and fuel- freezing or starvation. Many have even been reduced to selling their own daughters into early marriage just to stay alive. READ MORE

The High Court of England and Wales on Monday in essence allowed Julian Assange, the imprisoned WikiLeaks publisher, the right to appeal at the U.K. Supreme Court last month’s High Court judgement permitting Assange’s extradition to the United States. 

The High Court technically refused to allow an appeal to the Supreme Court, but left it up to that court to determine for itself whether it will grant permission to consider one legal issue.

“We certify a single point of law … in what circumstances can an appellate court receive assurances from a requesting state which were not before the court of first instance in extradition proceedings,” the High Court said in an appearance that lasted less than a minute.  That refers to whether the United States was legally permitted to provide assurances to the High Court after it had failed to do so during the district court’s hearing of Assange’s extradition case in September 2020. READ MORE

The Media Doesn’t Want You to Know This

Trucker convoys in Canada, massive protests through the streets of Europe, and large rallies in Washington D.C. — The widespread anti-vaccine protests erupting across the entire world make up the largest protest movement in human history, dwarfing ‘Black Lives Matter’ & the so-called ‘Womans March’ by tens of millions.

There are 50,000 truckers and 1.4M Canadians heading to parliament in Ottawa, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Trudeau. The trucker convoy is so large, there has yet to be a single set of footage capable of capturing it in its entirety. Below is the closest thing we could find.

We published a similar article just over one month ago, detailing the widespread nature of the protests, spanning every continent and hitting every major city. Today, the protests have grown considerably, as lockdowns and vaccine requirements continue.

The police officers of the world are all that is standing in-between the people and government mandates that have destroyed the world economy, shuttering small businesses, and leaving untold millions out of work. READ MORE

New US “lethal aid” for Ukraine, courtesy of US taxpayers and their weapons industry beneficiaries. (U.S. Embassy in Ukraine)

The US-Russia standoff over Ukraine has sparked bellicose threats and fears of Europe’s biggest ground war in decades. There are ample reasons to question the prospects of a Russian invasion, and US allies including FranceGermany's now-ousted navy chief, and even Kiev itself appear to share the skepticism.

Another potential scenario is that Russia draws on the Cuban Missile Crisis and positions offensive weapons within the borders of Latin American allies. Whatever the outcome, the crisis has underscored the perils of a second Cold War between the world's top nuclear powers.

If the path forward is unpredictable, what got us here is easy to trace. The row over Ukraine is the outgrowth of an aggressive US posture toward Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago, driven by hegemonic policymakers and war profiteers in Washington. Understanding that background is key to resolving the current impasse, if the Biden administration can bring itself to alter a dangerous course. READ MORE

The Cretaceous-Paleocene boundary (~66 million years-ago) asteroid impact, described in 1980 by Alvarez et al., caused enough dust and debris to cloud large parts of planet and result in the mass extinction of some 80% of all species of animals.

When Turco et al. (1983) and Carl Sagan (1983) warned the world about the climatic effects of a nuclear war, they pointed out that the amount of carbon stored in a large city was sufficient to release enough aerosols (smoke, soot and dust) to block sunlight over large regions, leading to a widespread failure of crops and thereby extensive starvation.

Current nuclear arsenals by the United States and Russia could inject 150 Teragram (Tg) (10⁹ kilogram) of soot from fires ignited by nuclear explosions into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere (Coupe et al., 2019), lasting for a period of 10 years or longer, followed by a period of intense radioactive radiation over large areas. Even a “limited” nuclear war, such as between India and Pakistan, would release enough aerosols to affect large regions, killing millions or billions through starvation. As stated by Robock et al., 2007): “The casualties from the direct effects of blast, radioactivity, and fires resulting from the massive use of nuclear weapons by the superpowers would be so catastrophic … the ensuing nuclear winter would produce famine for billions of people far from the target zones”. READ MORE

As tensions simmer on the Ukraine-Russia border, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline has become an emblem of the energy and climate issues underlying the conflict—even though it has yet to deliver a molecule of natural gas.

Last week, the U.S. State Department vowed that Gazprom’s $11 billion conduit beneath the Baltic Sea to Germany would never open if Russia invades Ukraine. Much of eastern Europe, the environmental movement and even the U.S. oil industry opposed Nord Stream 2 as a tie designed to solidify Russia’s energy hold on Europe, but Russian President Vladimir Putin took advantage of leeway offered by President Donald Trump to push construction through.

Trump’s tacit acquiescence on Nord Stream 2 (often while voicing protest) was one of his only moves counter to the interests of Texas oil and gas producers, who coveted the Europe gas market themselves. But it was right in line with two other Trump impulses: to reject climate policy and to yield to Putin. READ MORE

Renewable energy development hit a record US$755 billion last year, but still fell far short of what will be needed to bring the world’s greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050, according to analysis released yesterday by BloombergNEF.

The 27% increase in investment between 2020 and 2021 showed “how strong investor appetite is for the technologies that are key to preventing the worst effects of global warming,” Bloomberg News reported yesterday. “However, spending must ramp up significantly to reach net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century. BNEF estimates that $2.1 trillion of investment is needed in the energy transition from 2022 to 2025, nearly three times last year’s level.”

The report showed $366 billion in investment going to renewable energy projects, with electrified transport receiving $273 billion, up 77% from the previous year. BNEF’s calculations of low-carbon investments include renewable electricity, electrified heat, energy storage, and nuclear, the news agency writes. READ MORE

The Joe Rogan/Spotify controversy is still going on and has only gotten more vitriolic and intense. Claims that Spotify must walk away from its $200 million contract with the world’s most popular podcaster for promoting vaccine misinformation have sparked a lot of debates about freedom of speech, online censorship, what exactly those terms mean, and whether they can be correctly applied to the practice of Silicon Valley deplatforming.

When confronted with accusations of quashing free speech and promoting censorship, those who support online deplatforming in this or that situation will often respond with lines like “It’s not censorship, it’s just a private company enforcing its terms of service,” or “Nobody is obligated to give you a platform,” or “Freedom of speech isn’t freedom of reach,” or by posting the famous XKCD comic which says “If you’re yelled at, boycotted, have your show cancelled, or get banned from an internet community, your free speech rights aren’t being violated. It’s just that the people listening think you’re an asshole, and they’re showing you the door.” READ MORE or LISTEN

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