February 13, 2021

Posted by orrinj at 10:52 AM


Senate votes to hear witnesses in 55-45 vote -- with 5 GOP senators siding with Democrats (Matthew Chapman, February 13, 2021, Raw Story)

In a fast-moving vote, GOP Senators Murkowski, Romney, Collins, Sasse and Graham voted with a bloc of Democratic Party senators to enable House Impeachment Managers to call witnesses at the second Senate Impeachment trial of former President Donald John Trump

PRESS RELEASES: Herrera Beutler Again Confirms Conversation with McCarthy Regarding January 6 U.S. Capitol Attack (Washington, February 12, 2021)

Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) today released the following statement confirming again a conversation with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy regarding the January 6 U.S. Capitol attack:

"In my January 12 statement in support of the article of impeachment, I referenced a conversation House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy relayed to me that he'd had with President Trump while the January 6 attack was ongoing. Here are the details:

"When McCarthy finally reached the president on January 6 and asked him to publicly and forcefully call off the riot, the president initially repeated the falsehood that it was antifa that had breached the Capitol. McCarthy refuted that and told the president that these were Trump supporters. That's when, according to McCarthy, the president said: 'Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.'

"Since I publicly announced my decision to vote for impeachment, I have shared these details in countless conversations with constituents and colleagues, and multiple times through the media and other public forums.

"I told it to the Daily News of Longview on January 17. I've shared it with local county Republican executive board members, as well as other constituents who ask me to explain my vote. I shared it with thousands of residents on my telephone town hall on February 8.

"To the patriots who were standing next to the former president as these conversations were happening, or even to the former vice president: if you have something to add here, now would be the time."

Posted by orrinj at 8:02 AM



We're obviously in favour of such Smithian solutions, even as we'd note that it's really Arthur C Pigou under discussion.  Stick the one crowbar into the price system and we're done. As to what the price should be:

The Stern-Stiglitz High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices three years ago opted for a range of $40 to $80, rising to $50 to $100 by 2030. That is the global gold standard. But facts on the ground have already run ahead. 

"We think $50 will do the job," said Kingsmill Bond from Carbon Tracker. "Large numbers are a pipedream that makes it less likely to happen. All you need is a realistic signal and markets will come forward with technologies nobody has even thought of."

Quite so. Bill Nordhaus got the Nobel for suggesting one variant of this, Nick Stern his peerage for another. The revenue neutral carbon tax is the solution to the problem as described.

The thing to really note though is how cheap this is. UK emissions are around the 500 million tonnes a year level. $50 a tonne means $25 billion, or between friends, let us call that £20 billion. Or about 3 or 4% of our current total tax take.

Note that we do not need to charge that much more in tax - revenue neutral is the point here. Instead we just need to shift what we tax.

Posted by orrinj at 7:53 AM


'We've always talked about the big one': Riot squad cops open up about disastrous response to Capitol insurrection (Pro Publica, February 13, 2021)

Over the last several weeks, ProPublica has interviewed 19 current and former U.S. Capitol Police officers about the assault on the Capitol. Following on the dramatic video of officers defending the building that House lawmakers showed during the first day of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, the interviews provide the most detailed account to date of a most extraordinary battle.

The enemies on Jan. 6 were Americans: thousands of people from across the country who had descended on the Capitol, intent on stopping Congress from certifying an election they believed was stolen from Trump. They had been urged to attend by Trump himself, with extremist right-wing and militia leaders calling for violence.

Many of the officers were speaking to reporters for the first time about the day's events, almost all anonymously for fear of retribution. That they spoke at all is an indication of the depth of their frustration over the botched response. ProPublica also obtained confidential intelligence bulletins and previously unreported planning documents.

Combined, the information makes clear how failures of leadership, communication and tactics put the lives of hundreds of officers at risk and allowed rioters to come dangerously close to realizing their threats against members of Congress.

In response to questions for this story, the Capitol Police sent a one-sentence email: "There is a multi-jurisdictional investigation underway and in order to protect that process, we are unfortunately unable to provide any comment at this time."

The interviews also revealed officers' concerns about disparities in the way the force prepared for Black Lives Matter demonstrations versus the pro-Trump protests on Jan. 6. Officers said the Capitol Police force usually plans intensively for protests, even if they are deemed unlikely to grow violent. Officers said they spent weeks working 12- or 16-hour days, poised to fight off a riot, after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police -- even though intelligence suggested there was not much danger from protesters.

"We had intel that nothing was going to happen -- literally nothing," said one former official with direct knowledge of planning for the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. "The response was, 'We don't trust the intel.'"

Posted by orrinj at 7:45 AM


Trump's COVID response was deadly -- but decades of dreadful, racist policy set up the catastrophe (IGOR DERYSH, FEBRUARY 13, 2021, Salon)

Months into Trump's presidency, dozens of medical experts formed a commission to study the health impacts of his policies for The Lancet, a highly-respected British medical journal.  The Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era found that roughly 40% of coronavirus deaths in the United States could have been prevented if the average death rate matched that of other wealthy nations.

"We became concerned that even within a few weeks of him coming into office he had started to implement policies which we thought would be deadly," Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a health policy expert at the CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College and co-chair of the commission, said in an interview with Salon. "And now that we're in 2021, we have actual data and, in fact, his policy has been very deadly."

Instead of galvanizing the public to fight the pandemic, the report said, Trump "publicly dismissed its threat (despite privately acknowledging it), discouraged action as infection spread, and eschewed international cooperation."

"His refusal to develop a national strategy worsened shortages of personal protective equipment and diagnostic tests," the researchers added. "President Trump politicized mask-wearing and school re-openings and convened indoor events attended by thousands, where masks were discouraged and physical distancing was impossible."

But the commission went further, finding that life expectancy in the U.S. has diverged from other major industrial nations since the 1980s, despite continuous economic growth. As a result, the country sees more unnecessary deaths each year than all the 2020 coronavirus deaths combined.

"In 2018, 461,000 Americans died who would still be alive if our life expectancy were as long as in other wealthy nations," Woolhandler said. "So COVID killed about 400,000 people in 2020, which was horrible. But every single year, the United States was losing that many people relative to other developed nations, because our policymakers had failed to create the conditions for health."

There's little doubt that the coronavirus pandemic and Trump's mismanagement has significantly worsened that trend, particularly in communities of color. The pandemic has increased the life expectancy gap between Black and white people by more than 50%, the report said. The average Latino life expectancy in the U.S. has fallen by 3.5 years since the start of the pandemic.

"Overall, in the USA, Black and Latinx people have incurred more total years of potential life lost than white people because of COVID-19, although the white population is three to four times larger," the researchers wrote.

Posted by orrinj at 7:39 AM


UAE ambassador to Washington 'yelled' at US representative opposing Yemen war (New Arab, 13 February, 2021)

Ro Khanna was a leading sponsor of the war powers resolution aimed at ending Washington's support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE's war efforts in war-torn Yemen.Tags:Yousef al Otaiba, UAE, US, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, yell, yelling, diplomacy, human rights, Yemen war,

UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba shouted at Democrat representative Ro Khanna during a meeting, expressing his anger towards Khanna's push to end US military backing for the destructive war in Yemen.
Khanna was a leading sponsor of the war powers resolution aimed at ending Washington's support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE's war efforts in war-torn Yemen.

"I've never had an ambassador of another country come to my office and literally yell at me, but that's what I had with the ambassador to UAE," the California representative said in an interview with The Intercept's podcast Deconstructed, referring to Otaiba.

"I was just taken away," Khanna said. "It led me to think that there's a real arrogance, a real sense of entitlement, a sense that he thought himself so powerful that he could act that way. And I've never really seen that before."

Posted by orrinj at 7:35 AM


Kahanism is now Israel's mainstream (Asa Winstanley, February 13, 2021, Middle East Monitor)

Rabbi Meir Kahane is considered something of a prophet by the Israeli right-wing.

He openly advocated expelling all Palestinians from historic Palestine between the river and the sea - what he called "the Land of Israel".

"The Jews and Arabs of the Land of Israel ultimately cannot coexist," he wrote in his 1981 manifesto, They Must Go. "There is only one path for us to take: the immediate transfer of Arabs from Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel."

Although liberal Israeli elites still view Kahane as a fanatic extremist, the reality is that Kahanism has today gone mainstream in Israel.

The latest sign of that came last week, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brokered a merger agreement between two far-right parties in next month's general election, to form the "Religious Zionism" list.

Former Transport Minister Bezalel Smotrich united with fanatical Kahanist settler and lawyer Itamar Ben-Gvir of the "Jewish Power" party. In return, Netanyahu offered Smotrich a vote-sharing agreement and chairs on the judicial appointments committee. Netanyahu wanted to avoid the right-wing vote being split too much, which would have damaged his chances of forming a ruling coalition.

Posted by orrinj at 7:28 AM


Senator Graham's Call with State Official Part of Election Probe, Report Says (Reuters, February 13, 2021)

 A prosecutor from the southern U.S. state of Georgia plans to examine a phone call between U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Georgia's secretary of state as part of a criminal investigation into whether former President Donald Trump or his allies broke state law in trying to influence the results of the election, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis will look into the call Graham made to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger 10 days after the Nov. 3 election, the Post reported, citing an unnamed person familiar with the probe.