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Member since: Sun Mar 20, 2011, 12:05 PM
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USMCA: "He didn't get much, he got to rename it," Kirkegaard said.

“USMCA is 95 percent the existing NAFTA agreement,” said Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “There are provisions in there that cover things like e-commerce and digital services, but with regard to the manufacturing sector, for instance, there’s very little change.”

To the extent that Trump can claim credit for an economic lift provided by the USMCA, economists said that was more a function of the White House keeping most of the existing agreement in place after initially threatening to pull out of NAFTA entirely without a replacement in place.

“I would think of this more in terms of what would’ve happened if this agreement didn’t go back into place. That would’ve been disastrous for the economy,” said Dan North, chief economist at Euler Hermes North America.

Exiting NAFTA without replacing it would have forced the three nations to revert to WTO rules around trade, which would have upended supply chains and disrupted production throughout the continent.


Kinda like the arsonist wanting credit for putting out the fire he started.

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.”

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