January 13, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 5:11 PM


Posted by orrinj at 4:25 PM


Kamala Harris Previewed Joe Biden's Next Moves on Immigration--and Advocates Paid Close Attention (Fernanda Echavarri, 1/13/21, Mother Jones)

In an interview with Univision on Tuesday night, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris teased a few details of the Biden administration's immigration plans, which, with Democrats now in control of Congress, will be proposed "as our first order of business." 

Harris told anchor Ilia Calderón that the plan will include "creating a pathway for people to earn citizenship," though she didn't specify how. She said that part of their approach will be to shorten the amount of time it takes to obtain green cards and citizenship. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:22 PM


Mitch McConnell Says He's Open to Convicting Trump in a Senate Impeachment Trial (Greg Walters, January 13, 2021, Vice News)

According to several media outlets, McConnell sent a note to his GOP colleagues that said "while the press has been full of speculation, I have not made a final decision on how I will vote and I intend to listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate."

McConnell's words carry enormous weight in the Senate. Although the wily GOP leader was explicitly non-committal, the prospect of McConnell rallying Republican Senators against Trump opens up the possibility that the president could eventually be barred from holding office ever again. If Trump is convicted in a Senate impeachment trial, Senators could tack on a measure that bars him for life.  [...]

This time, if McConnell decides to go after Trump, all bets are off. Several GOP sources told CNN that if McConnell supports conviction, then Trump would almost certainly get the 67 votes necessary to convict him. 

Other Republicans have already declared themselves outraged at Trump, and sound like they're ready to vote to convict. 

Posted by orrinj at 10:28 AM


GOP Rep. Upton: 'I will vote to impeach' (Melissa Nann Burke, 1/13, 21, The Detroit News)

Upton, who is Michigan's most senior Republican in Congress, said lawmakers must hold Trump accountable and send a message that the nation will not tolerate "any effort by any president to impede the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next."

"Today the president characterized his inflammatory rhetoric at last Wednesday's rally as 'totally appropriate,' and he expressed no regrets for last week's violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol," Upton said in a statement. 

"This sends exactly the wrong signal to those of us who support the very core of our democratic principles and took a solemn oath to the Constitution," Upton continued. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:42 AM


Professor enumerates problems in Islamic world but promises bright future (Javad Heirannia, January 11, 2021, Tehran Times)

 Q: So then, what is the crisis with Muslims and in Muslim countries? 

A: Muslims have been indoctrinated to memorize the Qur'an and follow all the outward rituals of Islam. While these are good things to do, they are not a substitute for living the kind of life that is at the core of Islam, such as standing up for justice and causes that are just, living a modest life and helping those in need, alleviating poverty, supporting good governance and fighting against corruption, and commanding the good and forbidding evil. Practicing these values not just towards other Muslims but it must be done towards all humanity because as Islam preaches we are all one. Muslims have not studied and debated what their religion preaches for their everyday lives. In many countries, Muslims have been spoon-fed an Islam that is difficult to reconcile with the Qur'an (see IslamicityIndices.org). 

As a result, when you look at many Muslim countries today, what do you see? A few living in grotesque luxury while the vast majority live in poverty, under suppression, and with little hope for a better future. In many of these countries, prosperity comes from depleting oil and natural gas assets, which in Islam belong to all current and future generations, yet some rulers behave as if it it's theirs and use it for their own for a lifestyle that is condemned in Islam while others are suffering in need.  

"The weakness of Muslims and Muslim countries is manifested in their fragmentation."There is pervasive injustice. Rampant corruption and poverty. Ineffective governance. Limited opportunities and freedom. And still today in the 21st century, some Muslim rulers obey the commands of their colonial masters and don't support the welfare of their people. They collaborate with their foreign benefactors at the expense of their own people.

The weakness of Muslims and Muslim countries is manifested in their fragmentation. Muslim countries do not support Muslims across the world because rulers are beholden to foreign powers for support to stay in power. Muslims are openly incarcerated and mistreated in India, Myanmar, and China and discriminated against in Israel and across North America and Europe, yet many Muslim rulers look the other way. Less than a handful of Muslim countries push back on China, India, and Israel. Muslim leaders have the power to demand justice but they are afraid because they are insecure in their rule and are not united across national borders; the talk of Muslim brotherhood is just talk and nothing more. Israel assassinates Iranian scientists, the United States assassinates an Iranian general and an Iraqi militia leader and Trump pardons four murders of Iraqi men, women, and children, and Muslims around the world and in particular Muslim rulers say little or nothing. Most egregiously, in the face of these unfolding events and the continued subjugation of Palestinians, some Arab rulers in the Persian Gulf even embrace Israel openly and others do the same behind the scenes. Sadly, what they don't realize is that their colonial masters know one lesson well--divide and conquer. Having divided Muslims, these colonialists will more easily discard any ruler when they have no more use for him. Beware of thine masters!

Let me also say a few words that apply largely to the crisis in the Middle East (West Asia). The whole region is divided over Israel, nuclear arms, and sectarian rivalries. Some Arab countries have forgotten the plight of the Palestinians under Israeli subjugation and decided to embrace Israel while demanding nothing for Palestinian rights and statehood. Trump has twisted arms and intervened where he does not belong, such as recognizing Moroccan territorial claims if they recognize Israel. This kind of pressure further emboldens Israel's oppression of Palestinians as they feel Arabs talk but will do nothing to oppose the subjugation of their fellow Arabs.  But Israeli policies will in time backfire on Israel. Ordinary Arabs will not take this lying down. 

With the implicit support of the United States, Israel is hell-bent on regime change in Iran. Israel has an arsenal of over 230 nuclear warheads that threaten the region and dictates that no other country in the region can acquire such weapons and all the while is unwilling to embrace the only sensible solution--a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East (West Asia)--supported by Iran and Arabs. 

"Muslim countries do not support Muslims across the world because rulers are beholden to foreign powers for support to stay in power."Some Arab rulers, insecure in their illegitimate rule, stoke the fires of sectarianism--Sunni versus Shia--in order to further divide Muslims and to perpetuate an 'us against them' syndrome in order to shore up their regime. 

All the while if one criticizes Israel's cruel policies that are akin to apartheid one is called anti-Semitic in the West. It is truly sad that Jews who suffered so under Nazi Germany are indifferent to the suffering of Palestinians. More bombs and U.S. support will not be a long-run substitute for a just peace for everyone in the region, including for Israel.

Muslims must oppose oppression and injustice wherever and against whomever it occurs, as must Christians, Jews, and all other persons of faith. If some Muslims oppress Christians, Jews or any human being, all Muslims must stand up in opposition. The same is the moral duty of Christians and Jews and every human being. Humanity is one and evil must be opposed wherever it occurs. 

For so long as the Sunni dictatorships in the Middle East share Israel's desire to oppress Muslims they aren't going to insist on Palestinian self-determination.  
Posted by orrinj at 7:32 AM


'What the hell happened?' Congressman introduces COUP Act to investigate pro-Trump mob's Capitol attack (Common Dreams, 1/13/21)

Rep. Jamaal Bowman on Tuesday introduced a bill that seeks to establish a commission to investigate last week's violent assault on the U.S. Capitol by an insurrectionary pro-Trump mob.

On Sunday night, Bowman, a freshman Democrat from New York, posed a series of questions on social media: "What the hell happened on January 6th? Why were terrorists able to get into the Capitol? Why were they able to walk out free? Why wasn't Congress more prepared for this attack?"

"We need answers," Bowman said, adding that he would soon be introducing a bill to "demand a 9/11-style commission to investigate." [...]

The introduction of Bowman's bill coincides with the emergence of several troubling details surrounding last week's attack on the Capitol. As the Tuesday afternoon edition of the Capitol Hill newsletter Punchbowl News reported: "It's clear that the people paid to protect the legislative branch and its workers failed. The U.S. Capitol Police either ignored or were unprepared for the intensity of the attack. And law enforcement agencies are not providing the public with any information."

The Washington Post, which obtained and reviewed an internal document, reported Tuesday that "a day before rioters stormed Congress, an FBI office in Virginia issued an explicit internal warning that extremists were preparing to travel to Washington to commit violence and 'war,'" a revelation that "contradicts a senior official's declaration the bureau had no intelligence indicating anyone at last week's pro-Trump protest planned to do harm."

Posted by orrinj at 7:28 AM


'Top Republicans want Trump done forever': CNN political analyst (Brad Reed, 1/13/21. Raw Story)

Among other things, [CNN political analyst Margaret Talev]  said GOP lawmakers may have been shaken after receiving some closed-door briefings from law enforcement officials detailing just how much worse the Trump-incited attack on the Capitol building could have been.

She also said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is "seeing how much better his life is" with Trump permanently booted off Twitter, which gives him the space to make political decisions without fear of immediate backlash from the White House and Trump supporters.

"If this happens, it could put President Trump off the grid for 2024, allow him to reset control of the party, and allow him to deal with Joe Biden without President Trump being a voice that guides and essentially controls the Republican Party," she explained.

Posted by orrinj at 7:24 AM


Biden to nominate Samantha Power to lead foreign aid agency (Andrea Mitchell, 1/13/20, NBC)

[P]ower will have a great deal of rebuilding to do. Under President Donald Trump, the agency's budget has been slashed and career development experts have been replaced by political appointees with little experience in the field.

In the administration's proposed budget last year, foreign aid and USAID funds were cut by 22 percent. Trump officials defended the cuts, saying they were looking to other countries to step up to global needs.

Trump's budget also cut other State Department accounts for refugees, global health in the midst of a pandemic and other humanitarian programs, even though foreign aid totals less than 1 percent of the federal budget. Republicans and Democrats in Congress ended up rejecting the proposal, but development experts said the signal sent to the poorest countries had already left its mark.

The administration has also been widely criticized for filling key slots at USAID with political appointees. The Friday after the 2020 election, the White House abruptly fired Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick, who had been confirmed by the Senate, telling her she had until the end of the day to clear out of her office.

Officials offered no explanation of the firing to reporters, but had she not left, she would have automatically taken over from the Trump administration's acting administrator of the agency, John Barsa, a political appointee, whose tenure as acting administrator was set to expire at midnight the same day under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

More recently, The Washington Post reported that USAID employees were left out when the federal government dispensed the first round of coronavirus vaccinations to the State Department last month. Although vaccine doses went to 1,100 State Department employees, none went to USAID until last week.

Posted by orrinj at 7:22 AM


Why did the efficacy of China's top vaccine drop from 78% to 50%? (GRADY MCGREGOR, January 13, 2021, Fortune)

Nearly one week ago, Brazilian officials sounded triumphant in announcing that the vaccine from Chinese drugmaker Sinovac was 78% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections.

"Today is the day of hope, the day of life," João Doria, governor of Brazil's São Paulo state, said at a press conference on Jan. 7.

But at a press conference on Tuesday, officials delivered a more sobering follow-up: Sinovac's vaccine was, in fact, only 50.4% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections. The officials said that the lowered figure accounted for "very light" cases of COVID-19 among participants in the country's phase III trial of the vaccine that had been omitted in the earlier analysis.

Silly PRC: China only exists to manufacture stuff we innovate.