The hottest number in conservation is rooted more in politics than science

The goal to protect 30 percent of the Earth is more arbitrary than you might think.By Benji Jones  Apr 12, 2021, 7:30am EDT

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Right now, in the conservation movement, a lot of people are fixated on a single number: 30.

The US and more than 50 other countries have pledged to conserve 30 percent of their land and water by 2030 as a means to help thwart the biodiversity crisis.

Biodiversity tends to increase with the area of land or water conserved, yet just 16 percent of global land is in protected areas today (in the US, it’s closer to 12 percent), according to the World Database on Protected Areas. Intact ecosystems also play a major role in mitigating climate change.

As conservationists have recognized the importance of protecting rich ecosystems before they’re bulldozed, drained, deforested, or abandoned, “30 by 30” has become a rallying call for the movement’s most influential organizations, political leaders, and advocates.

“This effort goes to the heart of our mission to protect the wonder of our world,” Jill Tiefenthaler, CEO of the National Geographic Society, a group backing the target, said in a 2020 interview.

So, what makes 30 percent the magic number? Is it some kind of biological threshold, above which nature will flourish and we will avert total ecological collapse?

Not exactly.

As it turns out, “there’s no scientific basis for 30 percent,” Eric Dinerstein, the lead author of a widely referenced academic paper, “A Global Deal for Nature,” which calls for putting 30 percent of land in protected areas, told Vox. “It’s arbitrary.” (Disclosure: I briefly worked with Dinerstein several years ago when I was a research analyst at the World Resources Institute.)

Given the urgency of the situation, there’s an acute tension around how ambitious to be in conservation goal-setting. Often, targets laid out by scientists are at odds with what governments will find palatable. And for any goal to be successful, for that matter, many argue the world needs a new paradigm for conservation altogether — one that doesn’t exclude Indigenous people.

Why targets for protecting land and oceans are essential

As the human population has expanded, we’ve destroyed all kinds of habitats to construct housing, extract commodities like timber or gold, and grow food. That’s left us with rapidly shrinking patches of intact ecosystems that can — and do — support biodiversity, but with a fading effect.

To avert catastrophe, we’ll need to roll back that pattern and dedicate more land to support healthy, functioning ecosystems. And long ago, the conservation movement realized that to get there, countries would need to push each other to both make and keep commitments.

There are existing targets for the coverage of protected areas, set under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). CBD is an intergovernmental agreement, much like the Paris Agreement, but for biodiversity. In 2010, it set a number of conservation targets — including those that called for the protection of 17 percent of global land and 10 percent of oceans by 2020.

The reality, however, is that those smaller percentages simply aren’t enough, said Brian O’Donnell, director of the Campaign for Nature, a group spearheading the global 30 by 30 push. (The group is funded by the Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss and works in partnership with the National Geographic Society.)

The Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Hawaiian Islands region, seen from Air Force One. Protections for this deepwater habitat were expanded by President Obama in 2016.

30 by 30 is by no means the first effort to protect a large chunk of Earth for the sake of biodiversity. In his 2016 book Half-Earthrenowned ecologist Edward O. Wilson argued that “only by committing half of the planet’s surface to nature can we hope to save the immensity of life-forms that compose it.” (The concept of protecting 50 percent of the planet emerged decades earlier.)

But 30 by 30 is the first effort of its kind to gain such broad support.

While the target has been kicked around for years, it reached a milestone in January when a coalition of more than 50 countries led by Costa Rica, France, and the UK, called the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, announced a commitment to 30 by 30.

“We know there is no pathway to tackling climate change that does not involve a massive increase in our efforts to protect and restore nature,” said Zac Goldsmith, the UK’s minister for Pacific and the environment, when the commitment was announced.

The US is notably not part of that pact. But in his first full week in office, President Joe Biden signed a sweeping climate-related executive action that gave the Department of the Interior 90 days to come up with a plan to conserve 30 percent of American land and water. The department is set to deliver the report to the White House later this month.

“There is growing scientific consensus that we must conserve more land and water, with 30 percent representing the minimum that experts think must be conserved in order to avoid the worst impacts of nature loss to our economies and well-being,” Tyler Cherry, a spokesperson for the agency, told Vox. “President Biden has set an ambitious but achievable goal that will lift up a wide range of locally supported conservation and restoration actions, with the support of a broad range of stakeholders.”

So, 30 has no shortage of followers. Which brings us back to the debate over whether or not it’s the right number.

Why some conservationists think the 30 percent target should be higher

If this were the 1950s, 30 percent as a target would be fine, said Dinerstein, who’s now the director of the Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions program at Resolve, a Washington, DC, nonprofit. Back then, there was more time to avert an extinction crisis, and there were plenty of intact ecosystems left outside of protected areas, he said.

Now, he says, “we don’t have that luxury.” What we really need, Dinerstein believes — echoing E.O. Wilson — is to protect half of the planet.

But 50 percent is a big number to stomach, especially when only 16 percent of land worldwide currently has that status (that number is much smaller for oceans). Instead, the authors of the “Global Deal for Nature” paper called for putting 30 percent in protected areas and another 20 in what they called “climate stabilization areas” — less strictly protected areas that would help draw down emissions.

“The inside story is that we thought that 50 percent by 2030 would just be unpalatable,” Dinerstein said of the target.

By contrast, 30 percent, and the catchy “30 by 30” phrase, could attract the backing of lawmakers, even if it’s not some kind of precise threshold. Indeed, such a universal threshold doesn’t exist.

“There’s no threshold where suddenly you’re going to get a magic response,” said Corey Bradshaw, a professor of ecology at Flinders University. “You’ve got to play the politics with respect to assigning particular values to targets or thresholds. At the end of the day, it has nothing to do with biology.”

O’Donnell, however, argues that a floor of 30 percent is justified by science. What the research seems to show is that 30 percent is not a hard threshold — no one number applies across all regions. But reaching it would, indeed, benefit biodiversity, given that less than half of that is protected today. Scientists tend to agree that anything much below 30 percent is not sufficient as well. (Bradshaw also points out that a focus on percent coverage alone obscures other important aspects of conservation planning, like connectivity among areas, which can have huge impacts.)

This debate is especially relevant now. The CBD’s 196 members are preparing to convene in October, at which point they’ll consider upping the target for protected areas to 30 percent. (Absent from that member list? You guessed it — the US.)

In a statement, Johan Hedlund, an information officer at CBD, told Vox that while the “location of protected areas and their effective and equitable management is more important than simple [percentage] of land or sea area,” the 30 percent target is in line with the convention’s vision for 2050. Yet, he added, the target is still under negotiation.

Indigenous activists are more concerned with avoiding “fortress conservation” than numbers

The simple catchphrase “30 by 30” belies the many challenges to establishing acres and acres of new protected areas (PAs).

For one, effective networks of PAs require careful planning. It’s important that they represent different ecosystems and provide pathways for animals to disperse, said Bradshaw. While the US protects 22 percent of its oceans, for example, most of the PAs are in one region — around Hawaii — leaving other important ecosystems at risk.

Protected areas are also not loved by all. In fact, many Indigenous communities initially opposed 30 by 30 because they worried it would put their land rights at risk, said Andy White, a coordinator at Rights and Resources Initiative, a nonprofit that advocates for land rights.

“Fundamentally, the problem is not so much the number as it is the approach,” White said.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland tours Bears Ears National Monument near Blanding, Utah, on April 8. Referencing her trip on Twitter, she wrote, “The earth holds so much power. We must all work together to honor it.”

The conservation movement has a long history of practicing “fortress conservation,” whereby sections of nature are blocked off at the expense of Indigenous people who use the land.

“Throughout conservation’s checkered history, we have seen exclusionary conservation as a gateway to human rights abuses and militarized forms of violence,” as José Francisco Cali Tzay, who is Maya Kaqchikel from Guatemala and the UN special rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous peoples, said last year.

Rights and Resources Initiative published a landmark study in 2020 showing that more than 1.6 billion Indigenous people, local communities, and Afro-descendants live in important areas for biodiversity conservation. Research has also shown that, in many cases, lands managed by Indigenous people hold as much biodiversity as protected areas.

“The right way to get to 30 percent is recognizing the rights of Indigenous people to their lands,” White said.

Considering Indigenous lands as part of global conservation efforts would easily breach the 30 percent target, White added. And the mainstream conservation movement appears ready to get behind this approach.

“We need more financial investments into securing land tenure rights,” O’Donnell said. “[Indigenous peoples’] rights and their approaches need to be at the forefront of 30 by 30.”

Putin signs law allowing him to remain president through 2036

BY JOSEPH CHOI – 04/05/21 12:26 PM EDT

Putin signs law allowing him to remain president through 2036

© Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a law that will allow him to run for two more terms once his current one ends in 2024.

As reported by The Guardian, the law could potentially allow Putin, 68, to remain in office until 2036. He has been the de facto political leader of Russia since 2000.

The Guardian notes that should Putin stay in power until 2036, he would be the longest running leader of Russia since the Russian Empire, surpassing the tenure of dictator Joseph Stalin, who remained in power over the Soviet Union for 29 years. 

Putin would be 84 years old when he left office should he decide to run for the two additional terms he is now allowed.

Putin is currently on his fourth term as president of Russia, being elected to office in 2000, 2004, 2012 and 2018, with a stint as Russian prime minister between 2008 and 2012 due to term limits at the time.

The law limits Russian citizens to two terms as president in their lifetime, though the legislation essentially serves as “reset” and does not apply to Putin’s four previous terms.

The Guardian reports that signing this legislation may not be an indication of the Russian leader’s desire to stay in power and may instead be a move to avoid a lame-duck presidency and a power struggle in his last term in office.

The new law also provides Putin and former President Dmitry Medvedev with lifetime immunity from prosecution.

Noam Chomsky: Biden’s Foreign Policy Is Largely Indistinguishable From Trump’s

Joseph Robinette Biden waves to the press from the steps of Air Force One
President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on March 26, 2021.

BYC.J. PolychroniouTruthoutPUBLISHEDMarch 29, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

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READING LISTWAR & PEACENoam Chomsky: Biden’s Foreign Policy Is Largely Indistinguishable From Trump’sECONOMY & LABORAs Union Drive Heated Up, Jeff Bezos Orchestrated Twitter War on Bernie SandersPOLITICS & ELECTIONSSchumer Digs Up Obscure Budget Rule That Could Allow Dems to Bypass FilibusterEDUCATION & YOUTHColleges Are Using COVID as a Pretext to Make Draconian Cuts to the HumanitiesPOLITICS & ELECTIONSThreat of Authoritarianism Is No Longer on the Horizon: It’s Arrived in the GOPWAR & PEACEIn Alarmist Turn, NATO Is Increasingly Positioning Itself in Opposition to China

President Joe Biden’s domestic policies, especially on the economic front, are quite encouraging, offering plenty of hope for a better future. The same, however, cannot be said about the administration’s foreign policy agenda, as Noam Chomsky’s penetrating insights and astute analysis reveal in this exclusive interview for Truthout. Chomsky is a world-famous public intellectual, Institute Professor Emeritus at MIT and Laureate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Arizona.

C.J. Polychroniou: Noam, two months after being in the White House, Biden’s foreign policy agenda is beginning to take shape. What are the signs so far of how the Biden administration intends to address the challenges to U.S. hegemony posed by its primary geopolitical rivals, namely Russia and China?

Noam Chomsky: The challenge to U.S. hegemony posed by Russia and particularly China has been a major theme of foreign policy discourse for some time, with persistent agreement on the severity of the threat.

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The matter is plainly complex. It’s a good rule of thumb to cast a skeptical eye when there is general agreement on some complex issue. This is no exception.

What we generally find, I think, is that Russia and China sometimes deter U.S. actions to enforce its global hegemony in regions on their periphery that are of particular concern to them. One can ask whether they are justified in seeking to limit overwhelming U.S. power in this way, but that is a long distance from the way the challenge is commonly understood: as an effort to displace the U.S. global role in sustaining a liberal rule-based international order by new centers of hegemonic power.

Do Russia and China actually challenge U.S. hegemony in the ways commonly understood?

Russia is not a major actor in the world scene, apart from the military force that is a (very dangerous) residue of its earlier status as a second superpower. It does not begin to compare with the U.S. in outreach and influence.

China has undergone spectacular economic growth, but it is still far from approaching U.S. power in just about any dimension. It remains a relatively poor country, ranked 85th in the UN Human Development Index, between Brazil and Ecuador. The U.S., while not ranked near the top because of its poor social welfare record, is far above China. In military strength and global outreach (bases, forces in active combat), there is no comparison. U.S.-based multinationals have about half of world wealth and are first (sometimes second) in just about every category. China is far behind. China also faces serious internal problems (ecological, demographic, political). The U.S., in contrast, has internal and security advantages unmatched anywhere.

Take sanctions, a major instrument of world power for one country on Earth: the U.S. They are, furthermore, third-party sanctions. Disobey them, and you’re out of luck. You can be tossed out of the world financial system, or worse. It’s pretty much the same wherever we look.

If we look at history, we find regular echoes of Sen. Arthur Vandenberg’s 1947 advice to the president that he should “scare hell out of the American people” if he wanted to whip them up to a frenzy of fear over the Russian threat to take over the world. It would be necessary to be “clearer than truth,” as explained by Dean Acheson, one of the creators of the postwar order. He was referring to NSC-68 of 1950, a founding document of the Cold War, declassified decades later. Its rhetoric continues to resound in one or another form, again today about China.

NSC-68 called for a huge military build-up and imposition of discipline on our dangerously free society so that we can defend ourselves from the “slave state” with its “implacable purpose… to eliminate the challenge of freedom” everywhere, establishing “total power over all men [and] absolute authority over the rest of the world.” And so on, in an impressive flow.

China does confront U.S. power — in the South China Sea, not the Atlantic or Pacific. There is an economic challenge as well. In some areas, China is a world leader, notably renewable energy, where it is far ahead of other countries in both scale and quality. It is also the world’s manufacturing base, though profits go mostly elsewhere, to managers like Taiwan’s Foxconn or investors in Apple, which is increasingly reliant on intellectual property rights — the exorbitant patent rights that are a core part of the highly protectionist “free trade” agreements.

China’s global influence is surely expanding in investment, commerce, takeover of facilities (such as management of Israel’s major port). That influence is likely to expand if it moves forward with provision of vaccines virtually at cost in comparison with the West’s hoarding of vaccines and its impeding of distribution of a “People’s Vaccine” so as to protect corporate patents and profits. China is also advancing substantially in high technology, much to the consternation of the U.S., which is seeking to impede its development.

It is rather odd to regard all of this as a challenge to U.S. hegemony.

U.S. policy might help create a more serious challenge by confrontational and hostile acts that drive Russia and China closer together in reaction. That has, in fact, been happening, under Trump and in Biden’s first days — though Biden did respond to Russia’s call for renewing the New START Treaty on limiting nuclear weapons at the last minute, salvaging the one major element of the arms control regime that had escaped Trump’s wrecking ball.U.S. policy might help create a more serious challenge by confrontational and hostile acts that drive Russia and China closer together in reaction.

Clearly what is needed is diplomacy and negotiations on contested matters, and real cooperation on such crucial issues as global warming, arms control, future pandemics — all very severe crises that know no borders. Whether Biden’s hawkish foreign policy team will have the wisdom to move in these directions is, for now, at best unclear — at worst, frightening. Absent significant popular pressures, prospects do not look good.

Another issue that calls for popular attention and activism is the policy of protecting hegemony by seeking to harm potential rivals, very publicly in the case of China, but elsewhere too, sometimes in ways that are sometimes hard to believe.

A remarkable example is buried in the Annual Report for 2020 of the Department of Health and Human Services, proudly presented by Secretary Alex Azar. Under the subheading “Combatting malign influences in the Americas,” the report discusses the efforts of the Department’s Office of Global Affairs (OGA)

to mitigate efforts by states, including Cuba, Venezuela and Russia, who are working to increase their influence in the region to the detriment of U.S. safety and security. OGA coordinated with other U.S. government agencies to strengthen diplomatic ties and offer technical and humanitarian assistance to dissuade countries in the region from accepting aid from these ill-intentioned states. Examples include using OGA’s Health Attaché office to persuade Brazil to reject the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, and offering CDC technical assistance in lieu of Panama accepting an offer of Cuban doctors. [Emphasis mine].

In the midst of a raging pandemic, according to this report, we must block malignant initiatives to help miserable victims.

Under President Jair Bolsonaro’s grotesque mismanagement, Brazil has become the global horror story of failure to deal with the pandemic, despite its outstanding health institutes and fine past record in vaccination and treatment. It is suffering from a severe shortage of vaccines, so the U.S. takes pride in its efforts to prevent it from using the Russian vaccine, which Western authorities recognize to be comparable to the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines used here.

Even more astonishing, as the author of this article in the EU-based Brasil Wire comments, is “that the US dissuaded Panama from accepting Cuban doctors, who have been on the global front line against the pandemic, working in over 40 countries.” We must protect Panama from the “malign influence” of the one country in the world to exhibit the kind of internationalism that is needed to save the world from disaster, a crime that must be stopped by the global hegemon.

Washington’s hysterical dedication to crush Cuba from almost the first days of its independence in 1959 is one of the most extraordinary phenomena of modern history, but still, the level of petty sadism is a constant surprise

With regards to Iran, also there do not seem to be signs of hope as the Biden administration has named Richard Nephew, an architect of sadistic sanctions against Iran under Barack Obama, as its deputy Iran envoy. Right or wrong?

Biden adopted Trump’s Iran program with virtually no change, even in rhetoric. It is worthwhile to recall the facts.

Trump withdrew U.S. participation in the JCPOA (the nuclear agreement), in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2331, which obligates all states to abide by the JCPOA, and in violation to the wishes of all other signers. In an impressive display of hegemonic power, when the UN Security Council members insisted on abiding by 2331 and not extending UN sanctions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told them to get lost: You are renewing the sanctions. Trump imposed extremely harsh new sanctions to which others are obliged to conform, with the goal of causing maximum pain to Iranians so that perhaps the government might relent and accept his demand that the JCPOA be replaced by a new agreement that imposes much harsher restrictions on Iran. The pandemic offered new opportunities to torture Iranians by depriving them of desperately needed relief.

Furthermore, it is Iran’s responsibility to take the first steps towards negotiations to capitulate to the demands, by terminating actions it took in reaction to Trump’s criminality.Biden adopted Trump’s Iran program with virtually no change, even in rhetoric.

As we’ve discussed before, there is merit in Trump’s demand that the JCPOA can be improved. A far better solution is to establish a nuclear weapons-free zone (or WMD-free zone) in the Middle East. There is only one barrier: the U.S. will not permit it, and vetoes the proposal when it arises in international forums, most recently seen by President Obama. The reason is well-understood: It’s necessary to protect Israel’s major nuclear arsenal from inspection. The U.S. does not even formally acknowledge its existence. To do so would prejudice the vast flood of U.S. aid to Israel, arguably in violation of U.S. law, a door that neither political party wants to open. It’s another topic that will not even be discussed unless popular pressure makes suppression impossible.

In U.S. discourse, Trump is criticized because his policy of torturing Iranians didn’t succeed in bringing the government to capitulate. The stance is reminiscent of Obama’s highly praised moves towards limited relations with Cuba, because, as he explained, we need new tactics after our efforts to bring democracy to Cuba had failed — namely, a vicious terrorist war that led almost to extinction in the 1962 missile crisis and sanctions of unparalleled cruelty that are unanimously condemned by the UN General Assembly (Israel excepted). Similarly, our wars in Indochina, the worst crimes since World War II, are criticized as a “failure,” as is the invasion of Iraq, a textbook example of the “supreme international crime” for which Nazi war criminals were hanged.

These are among the prerogatives of a true hegemon, immune to the cackles of foreigners and confident in the support of those whom an acerbic critic once called “the herd of independent minds,” the bulk of the educated classes and the political class.

Biden took over the entire Trump program, without any change. And to twist the knife further, he appointed Richard Nephew as deputy Iran envoy. Nephew has explained his views in his book Art of Sanctions, where he outlines the proper “strategy to carefully, methodically, and efficiently increase pain on areas that are vulnerabilities while avoiding those that are not.” Just the right choice for the policy of torturing Iranians because the government that most of them despise will not bend to Washington’s demands.

U.S. government policy towards Cuba and Iran provides very valuable insight into how the world works under the domination of imperial power.

Cuba since independence in 1959 has been the target of unremitting U.S. violence and torture, reaching truly sadistic levels — with scarcely a word of protest in elite sectors. The U.S., fortunately, is an unusually free country, so we have access to declassified records explaining the ferocity of the efforts to punish Cubans. Fidel Castro’s crime, the State Department explained in the early years, is its “successful defiance” of U.S. policy since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, which declared Washington’s right to control the hemisphere. Plainly harsh measures are required to stifle such efforts, as any Mafia Don would understand — and the analogy of world order to the Mafia has considerable merit.U.S. government policy towards Cuba and Iran provides very valuable insight into how the world works under the domination of imperial power.

Much the same is true of Iran since 1979, when a popular uprising overthrew the tyrant installed by the U.S. in a military coup that rid the country of its parliamentary regime. Israel had enjoyed very close relations with Iran during the years of the Shah’s tyranny and extreme human rights violations, and like the U.S., was appalled by his overthrow. Israel’s de facto Ambassador to Iran, Uri Lubrani, expressed his “strong” belief that the uprising could be suppressed, and the Shah restored “by a very relatively small force, determined, ruthless, cruel. I mean the men who would lead that force will have to be emotionally geared to the possibility that they would have to kill ten thousand people.”

U.S. authorities pretty much agreed. President Carter sent NATO Gen. Robert E. Huyser to Iran to try to convince the Iranian military to undertake the task — a surmise confirmed by recently released internal documents. They refused, considering it hopeless. Shortly after, Saddam Hussein invaded Iran — an attack that killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians, with full support from the Reagan administration, even when Saddam resorted to chemical weapons, first against Iranians, then against Iraqi Kurds in the Halabja atrocities. Reagan protected his friend Hussein by attributing the crimes to Iran and blocking congressional censure. He then turned to direct military support for Hussein with naval forces in the Gulf. One vessel, the USS Vincennes, shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in a clearly marked commercial airspace, killing 290 people, returning to a royal welcome at its home base where the commander and flight officer who had directed the destruction of the airliner were rewarded with Medals of Honor.

Recognizing that it could not fight the U.S., Iran effectively capitulated. Washington then to turned harsh sanctions against Iran, while rewarding Hussein in ways that sharply increased threats to Iran, which was then just emerging from a devastating war. President Bush I invited Iraqi nuclear engineers to the U.S. for advanced training in nuclear weapons production, no small matter for Iran. He pushed through agricultural aid that Hussein badly needed after having destroyed rich agricultural areas with his chemical weapons attack against Iraqi Kurds. He sent a high-level mission to Iraq headed by the Republican Senate leader Bob Dole, later presidential candidate, to deliver his respects to Hussein, to assure him that critical comment about him would be curbed on Voice of America, and to advise Hussein that he should ignore critical comment in the press, which the U.S. government can’t prevent.

This was April 1990. A few months later, Hussein disobeyed (or misunderstood) orders and invaded Kuwait. Then everything changed.

Almost everything. Punishment of Iraq for its “successful defiance” continued, with harsh sanctions, and new initiatives by President Bill Clinton, who issued executive orders and signed congressional legislation sanctioning investment in Iran’s oil sector, the basis of its economy. Europe objected, but had no way to avoid U.S. extraterritorial sanctions.

U.S. firms suffered too. Princeton University Middle East specialist Seyed Hossein Mousavian, former spokesman for Iran nuclear negotiators, reports that Iran had offered a billion-dollar contract to the U.S. energy firm Conoco. Clinton’s intervention, blocking the deal, closed off an opportunity for reconciliation, one of many cases that Mousavian reviews.

Clinton’s action was part of a general pattern, an unusual one. Ordinarily, particularly on energy-related issues, policy conforms to Adam Smith’s comments on 18th-century England, where the “masters of mankind” who own the private economy are the “principal architects” of government policy, and act to ensure that their own interests are foremost, however “grievous” the effect on others, including the people of England. Exceptions are rare, and instructive.

Two striking exceptions are Cuba and Iran. Major business interests (pharmaceuticals, energy, agribusiness, aircraft, and others) have been eager to break into Cuban and Iranian markets and to establish relations with domestic enterprises. State power bars any such moves, overruling parochial interests of the “masters of mankind” in favor of the transcendent goal of punishing successful defiance.

There’s a good deal to say about these exceptions to the rule, but it would take us too far afield.

The release of the Jamal Khashoggi murder report disappointed almost everyone, save Saudi Arabia. Why is the Biden administration taking such a soft approach towards Saudi Arabia, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in particular, which prompted New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof to write that, “Biden … let the murderer walk”?

Not hard to guess. Who wants to offend the close ally and regional power that the State Department described during World War II as “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history … probably the richest economic prize in the world in the field of foreign investment.” The world has changed in many ways since, but the basic reasoning remains.

Biden had promised that, if elected, he would scale back Trump’s nuclear weapons spending, and that the U.S. would not rely on nuclear weapons for defense. Are we likely to see a dramatic shift in U.S. nuclear strategy under the Biden administration whereby the use of these weapons will be far less likely?

For reasons of cost alone, it is a goal that should be high on the agenda of anyone who wants to see the kinds of domestic programs the country badly needs. But the reasons go far beyond. Current nuclear strategy calls for preparation for war — meaning terminal nuclear war — with China and Russia.

We should also remember an observation of Daniel Ellsberg’s: Nuclear weapons are constantly used, much in the way a gun is used by a robber who aims his gun at a storekeeper and says, “Your money or your life.” The principle in fact is enshrined in policy, in the important 1995 document “Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence” issued by Clinton’s Strategic Command (STRATCOM). The study concludes that nuclear weapons are indispensable because of their incomparable destructive power, but even if not used, “nuclear weapons always cast a shadow over any crisis or conflict,” enabling us to gain our ends through intimidation; Ellsberg’s point. The study goes on to authorize “preemptive” use of nuclear weapons and provides advice for planners, who should not “portray ourselves as too fully rational and cool-headed.” Rather, the “national persona we project” should be “that the US may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked and that “some elements may appear to be potentially ‘out of control.’”

Richard Nixon’s “madman theory,” but this time not from reports by associates but from the designers of nuclear strategy.

Two months ago, the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons went into effect. The nuclear powers refused to sign, and still violate their legal responsibility under the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to undertake “effective measures” to eliminate nuclear weapons. That stance is not carved in stone, and popular activism could induce significant moves in that direction, a necessity for survival.

Regrettably, that level of civilization still seems beyond the range of the most powerful states, which are careening in the opposite direction, upgrading and enhancing the means to terminate organized human life on Earth.

Even junior partners are joining in the race to destruction. Just a few days ago, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson “announced a 40 per cent increase in UK’s stockpile of nuclear warheads. His review… recognised ‘the evolving security environment’, identifying Russia as Britain’s `most acute threat’.”

Lots of work to do.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Climate talks will test Biden’s pledge to make global heating a priority

Summit is designed to revive a US-convened forum of the world’s major economies that previous administrations had allowed to lapse

Joe Biden vowed to make the fight against global heating a top priority.
Joe Biden vowed to make the fight against global heating a top priority. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Edward Helmore and agenciesSat 27 Mar 2021 17.22 EDT


Joe Biden is doubling down on his reset of his predecessor’s environmental policies by inviting the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, and Xi Jinping of China to the first big climate talks of his administration next month aimed at increasing cooperation to fight global heating.

The Leaders Summit on Climate talks, scheduled to be held virtually on 22 and 23 April, are an opportunity for the US to shape, hasten and deepen global efforts to cut climate-wrecking fossil fuel pollution, administration officials told the Associated Press.

According to the White House, 40 invitations went out on Friday to leaders that encompass a range of nations, some already affected badly by climate crisis, others on a spectrum from relatively reformist to ultra-polluters.

“In his invitation, the president urged leaders to use the summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries also will contribute to stronger climate ambition,” the White House said.Dizzying pace of Biden’s climate action sounds death knell for era of denialismRead more

Biden’s effort is an arena in which the US can display clear differentiation with the previous Donald Trump administration, which had rejected the 2015 UN Paris climate accords in favor of an America First energy policy that, among other contentious initiatives, rejected improving energy-efficiency standards and promoted domestic fracking to reduce foreign-energy dependence.

The talks are also designed to revive a US-convened forum of the world’s major economies on climate that previous administrations, Republican and Democrat, had allowed to lapse. They will also mark the first time a US leader has attended a major international climate discussions in more than four years.

The summit is also a fulfillment of a campaign pledge and executive order by Biden designed to launch in tandem with an anticipated multi-trillion dollar infrastructure spending package designed both to stimulate the post-Covid US economy and sharply cut emissions of greenhouse gasses from legacy fuel sources.

As a candidate in the 2020 election, Biden pledged $2tn in investment to help transform the US into a zero-emission economy by 2050 while building clean-energy and technology jobs.

Officials said they hope that by demonstrating US commitment to emissions cuts at home, the US could encourage similar moves abroad, including encouraging governments to reform transportation and power-generating sectors as well as broader consumer economies to meet more ambitious environmental targets

But the talks will test Biden’s pledge to make climate crisis a priority among competing political, economic, policy, pandemic and post-pandemic issues, according to AP.

Led by US climate envoy John Kerry, US officials have reportedly been emphasizing US climate intentions during early one-on-one talks with foreign leaders. Biden reportedly discussed the talks with British prime minister Boris Johnson on Friday, with both leaders agreeing on the need to keep emissions-cutting targets ambitious.

A summary of the conversation provided by the White House said the pair discussed “the importance of developing ambitious climate goals, noting the opportunities provided by the Leaders Summit on Climate and the UK’s G7 presidency”.

But officials also told the AP the US is still deliberating on how far the administration will go in setting more ambitious US emissions targets. The talks, they said, will be livestreamed to encourage other international leaders to use it as a platform to showcase their own countries’ climate-crisis commitments.

However, despite the emphasis on global cooperation, early administration efforts to reshape US relations with China got off to a problematic start last week during high-level talks in Anchorage, Alaska that began with an exchange of insults.

Against that backdrop, the climate talks – coming seven months ahead of November’s UN global climate sessions in Glasgow – will offer a deliberate test of whether, after four years of isolationist and aggressive diplomatic non-compliance, the US still has power to shape global decision-making.

Biden’s invitation list includes leaders of the world’s biggest economies and European blocs. But it is not yet clear how Russia and China, both on the list of invitees, will respond or if they are willing to cooperate with any US-led climate initiative.

While China lags the US in overall economic might, it is the world’s top emitter of climate-damaging pollution, with the US second, India third and Russia at four.

“China is by far the world’s largest emitter. Russia needs to do more to reduce its emissions,” said Nigel Purvis, who worked on climate diplomacy in past Democratic and Republican administrations. “Not including these countries because they aren’t doing enough would be like launching an anti-smoking campaign but not directing it at smokers.”

Brazil’s rightwing president, Jair Bolsonaro, is also likely to be in the diplomatic crosshairs for thwarting preservation efforts of the Amazon rainforest, a vital global carbon sink.

Among those invited are leaders of countries under the most immediate – and devastating – ecological threat. They include Bangladesh and the Marshall islands, both threatened by rising sea levels.

The invitation list is notable for other reasons, too: King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is invited. But heir apparent Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, subject to a diplomatic freeze out over what US intelligence agencies conclude was his approval of an operation to “capture or kill” US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, is left out.

Greta Thunberg says Biden isn’t doing ‘nearly enough’ on climate change

The Biden administration must “treat the climate crisis like a crisis,” the Swedish activist says

Nathan PlaceNYC13 hours ago

<img src="; alt="<p>Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg says President Biden hasn’t done “nearly enough” on climate change.

Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg says President Biden hasn’t done “nearly enough” on climate change.(Getty Images)

Teenage climate activistGreta Thunberg slammed President Joe Biden’s handling of the climate crisis on Sunday, saying he hasn’t done “nearly enough.”

On The Mehdi Hasan Show on MSNBC, she was asked how she’d grade the new US president’s efforts on climate change so far. She refused to assign a grade, but made it clear it would not be an A+.

“You should rather look at the science and whether his policies are in line with the Paris Agreement and to stay below 1.5 or even 2 degrees Celsius,” Ms Thunberg told Hasan. “And then you can clearly see that, no, it’s not nearly enough in line with the science.”

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Since taking office, President Biden has rejoined the Paris Agreement on climate change, appointed John Kerry as a special climate change envoy, and undone many of former president Trump’s rollbacks of environmental policies. But Ms Thunberg said far more still needs to be done.

When asked what the Biden administration should do that it hasn’t done already, the Swedish teenager said the biggest change she’d like to see is in the level of urgency around the issue.

“Just treat the climate crisis like a crisis,” she said. “They have said themselves that this is an existential threat, and they’d better treat it accordingly, which they are not. They are just treating the climate crisis as [if] it were a political topic among other topics.”

Ms Thunberg, 18, has been a climate activist since 2018, when she began skipping school to protest outside the Swedish parliament against what she saw as inaction on climate change. Hundreds of thousands of students around the world soon joined her movement, alternately called “School Strike for Climate” or “Fridays for Future.” climate imageWEEKLY EXCLUSIVE EMAIL

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In 2019, she travelled aboard a zero-emissions yacht to speak at a United Nations climate meeting in New York, where she delivered a scathing speech.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” she told world leaders. “We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money, and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

Two years and a pandemic later, Thunberg spoke with more sympathy for the world’s political leadership as she answered questions on MSNBC.

“I understand it’s difficult, and to be honest I would not want to be in a politician’s position right now. I can’t imagine how hard it must be,” she told Hasan.

But she was still clear that those politicians are not doing enough.

“How can you expect support and pressure from voters,” she asked, “if you are not treating the crisis like a crisis?”

Militia attack groups want to ‘blow up Capitol’ during Biden speech, police chief warns

Acting chief of US Capitol police says threats are circulating targeting the president’s first formal speech to Congress

FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo rioters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. Congress is set to hear from former security officials about what went wrong at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. That’s when when a violent mob laid siege to the Capitol and interrupted the counting of electoral votes. Three of the four testifying Tuesday resigned under pressure immediately after the attack, including the former head of the Capitol Police. Much is still unknown about the attack, and lawmakers are demanding answers. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
Militia attack groups want to ‘blow up Capitol’, police chief warns – video

Ed Pilkington in New York@edpilkingtonFri 26 Feb 2021 09.41 EST


Militia groups involved in the 6 January insurrection want to stage another attack around Joe Biden’s upcoming address to Congress, aiming to “blow up” the complex and kill lawmakers, the acting chief of the US Capitol police has warned.

In alarming testimony to a House subcommittee, Yogananda Pittman said that threats were circulating that directly targeted the president’s first formal speech to a joint session of Congress. A date for the event has not yet been announced.

“We know that members of the militia groups that were present on January 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible,” Pittman said.Trump’s useful thugs: how the Republican party offered a home to the Proud BoysRead more

The police chief’s warning was made in the context of her trying to justify to Congress why exceptional security measures put in place in the wake of the 6 January assault needed to remain until alternatives could be devised. A large area around the Capitol is still surrounded by a 7ft non-scalable fence, and thousands of national guard members continue to be deployed.AdvertisementMore than 25m drink from the worst US watersystems, with Latinos most exposedSKIP AD

“Based on that information, we think that it’s prudent that Capitol police maintain its enhanced and robust security posture until we address those vulnerabilities going forward,” she said.

Her words are also likely to be taken seriously as a clear indication of the ongoing threat posed by the armed militia members who took part in the storming of the Capitol in which five people died and almost 140 police officers were injured. Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter and military veteran, was shot and killed by a Capitol police officer.

Several of the most prominent armed militia and extremist groups in the US were at the forefront of the Capitol riot. The assault followed an incendiary rally by Donald Trump to promote his “big lie” that the November election was stolen from him by Biden.

A number of militia members have been arrested and charged as part of the giant federal investigation into the events of 6 January. In an indictment handed down last week against six alleged members of the Oath Keepers militia, the justice department charged that the group had planned for several months to prevent Congress from certifying the electoral college results of the presidential election.

Several members of the far-right Proud Boys have also been charged with criminal conspiracy.

This week’s congressional hearings are the start of what is expected to be a slew of official investigations into the drastic security failures that gave rise to the breach of the Capitol complex. In her testimony Pittman confirmed that some 800 rioters had entered the building and that the total number who were present amounted to as many as 10,000.

Pittman has stepped up to lead the Capitol police force after the chief at the time of the storming, Steven Sund, resigned days after the catastrophe. In his evidence to Congress earlier this week, Sund said: “These criminals came prepared for war.”

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies are tracking closely far-right online chatter for early warnings on any possible repeat attacks in Washington or other cities. In addition to Biden’s upcoming congressional address, law enforcement will also be on alert on the days leading up to 4 March – the date set by the extreme conspiracy theory QAnon for Trump to return to Washington to start a second term as president.

Followers of the crank movement have been growing increasingly agitated by the fantasy around a Trump comeback on 4 March, the date on which US presidents were originally inaugurated.

Senate Republicans Vote to Acquit Trump in His Second Impeachment Trial

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks through the Senate subway on his way to the fourth day of the Senates second impeachment trial of former President Trump at the U.S. Capitol on February 12, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks through the Senate subway on his way to the fourth day of the Senates second impeachment trial of former President Trump at the U.S. Capitol on February 12, 2021, in Washington, D.C.

BYSophia TesfayeSalonPUBLISHEDFebruary 14, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare

Republicans in the Senate voted to acquit Donald Trump in the former president’s second impeachment trial. Although a bipartisan majority of senators found Trump guilty of inciting an insurrection on Jan. 6 with his monthslong campaign of lies about election fraud, most Republicans blocked his conviction.

Thus, in 57-43 Senate vote, Trump was found not guilty — again — falling 10 votes short of the 67 votes needed to convict.

Seven Republican senators did join with all 50 Democrats to find Trump guilty, including Richard Burr of North Carolina, who just barely won reelection in the election Trump claimed was fraudulent; Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who surprised observers when he switched his earlier vote to declare the trial constitutional; Susan Collins of Maine; Lisa Murkowski of Alaska; Mitt Romney of Utah; Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who is retiring after this term.

Other retiring Republican senators — Rob Portman of Ohio and Richard Shelby of Alabama — voted to acquit even without the looming threat of soon facing Trump voters.

“I want to first thank my team of dedicated lawyers and others for their tireless work upholding justice and defending truth,” Trump said in a statement released after the verdict. “My deepest thanks as well to all of the United States Senators and Members of Congress who stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country.”

The Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voted to acquit Trump and then immediately took to the Senate floor to blast Trump’s actions, calling the former president “morally responsible” for the mob attack on Congress.

Responding to McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., blasted his decision to have held the trial over until after Trump left office. “It is so pathetic that Senator McConnell kept the Senate shut down so that the Senate could not receive the Article of Impeachment and has used that as his excuse for not voting to convict Donald Trump.”

“Whatever it was, it was a very disingenuous speech,” she continued of McConnell, “and I say this regretfully.”

“But we will be going forward to make sure that this never happens again.”

Other Senate Republicans spent the four days of the trial working with Trump’s defense team to undermine the process, deflect blame to Democrats who attacked on Jan. 6 and downplay the historic attack on Capitol Hill.

After presenting a convincing case full of harrowing footage of the Capitol riot, House managers surprised the Senate trial when they moved for a vote to call witnesses, which passed with 55 votes. Democrats then frantically backed away from their position after Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., reportedly warned House managers that calling witnesses could cost them Democratic votes to convict in the Senate.

“People want to get home for Valentine’s Day,” Coons reportedly said.We’re furious.

Here is the smoking gun evidence to back impeachment of Donald Trump


Although the House impeachment managers have focused on events leading up to the Capitol breach last month it is the real time response of former President Trump to the rioters that yields smoking gun evidence of his intent to incite this historic insurrection. Trump failed promptly to call off his followers or summon timely assistance to beleaguered Capitol Police, despite pleas from fellow Republicans caught in the mayhem. And his own final words that day connect his inflammatory claims about a “stolen election” to the storming of the Capitol by his followers.

As he watched the insurrection unfold on television, with some delight according to eyewitnesses, Trump did not demand that the rioters immediately leave the Capitol. He failed to heed the pleas of Republicans in Congress, who fearing for their lives, desperately tried calling him with no response.

“We are imploring the president to help, to stand up, to help defend the United States Capitol and the United States Congress, which was under attack,” said Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio), no coward, but a former professional football player. “We are begging, essentially, and he was nowhere to be found.”

We know that Trump did call newly elected Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville (Ala.) because he mistakenly reached him on the phone of Republican Sen. Mike Lee (Utah). He called Tuberville not to ask about his safety or to offer help, but to plot strategy for objecting to the electoral vote count.

When rioters breached the Capitol in full view of cameras, Trump did not appear on television to denounce the riot and call upon his followers to cease and desist. Instead, he stoked the incitement with a tweet that attacked his vice president and doubled down on grievances about a stolen election, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution, giving states a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones.”

Trump later tweeted a minimally calming message, but in the passive voice: “Stay peaceful!” He issued a similar passive voice tweet over half an hour later. He still had not appeared in person on any medium. Finally, Trump released a video that told his supporters “you have to go home now.” But he prefaced that request with another incitement: “I know your pain. I know you are hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it.” He ended by praising the rioters, “We love you. You are very special.”

The most incriminating “smoking gun” tweet came just after 6 p.m. that day and was later deleted by social media. Trump wrote, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

In his own words Trump admitted that violent protest was a likely consequence of grievances over a supposedly stolen election that thwarted the will of patriotic Americans. But it was Trump himself who ginned up these grievances with a two-month drumbeat of lies about the election that culminated in the fiery rhetoric of his Jan. 6 rally. Simply put, no incitement about the election, no insurrection, by Trump’s own admission. In his tweet, Trump further assured rioters with love that they had acted as patriots, not insurrectionists. Their storming of the Capitol, he implied, should be forever remembered and cherished, not reviled.

The rioters themselves understood that they were Trump’s people, summoned by him. Video shot during the riot shows that they shouted at police their claim of legitimacy, “We were invited by the president of the United States.” Trump loyalist Jenna Ryan said after the Capitol was breached, “We were going in solidarity with President Trump. So this was our way of going and stopping the steal.”

Trump has yet to acknowledge Biden’s win or to retract his claims of a landslide win snatched away by massive fraud.

Allan Lichtman is an election forecaster and a distinguished professor of history at American University.

Trump Has Made Threats to Launch a New Political Party — the “Patriot Party”

The back of Donald Trump's head
Outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump steps into his limo after landing at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, on January 20, 2021.

BYWilliam Rivers PittTruthoutPUBLISHEDJanuary 25, 2021SHAREShare via FacebookShare via TwitterShare via Email

A white lower-case t on a black background

One of these days, and I pray that day comes soon, I will arrive at a writing assignment with no compelling reason to type the letters t-r-u-m-p in that particular sequence. Ignoring him completely will someday be balm and reward, not to mention responsible journalism. The fact that he appears to be positioning himself to potentially destroy the Republican Party, however, means I have to write that name a few more times before I’m free.

After losing the 2020 election dozens of times at the ballot box and subsequently in courtrooms across the land, Donald Trump incited a frenzied mob of supporters to sack the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., in order to stop the final certification of his defeat. For the next several hours, the whole world watched as MAGA-hatted raiders broke windows, climbed walls, trashed congressional offices and took selfies with Capitol Police officers, one of whom was murdered by a Trump-supporting rioter wielding a fire extinguisher.

Though the business of the legislative branch was able to continue hours later after the rioters and their Confederate flags were cleared out, it became clear over subsequent days that this wasn’t just some goofy thrill for the participants; a number of them wanted to hang Mike Pence, Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and erected a gallows on the Capitol grounds to do just that.

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Not many days later, that Congress impeached Trump for the second time in 13 months, and 10 GOP House members voted with the majority. The articles of impeachment are slated to arrive in the Senate today, where newly established Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will begin the trial on the 9th of next month.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (now that I can type all damn day long) is furiously trying to assert control he no longer enjoys over the process in order to gum up the impeachment works. The situation for McConnell is exceedingly perilous.

As the impeachment trial date looms, a number in his caucus want to throw caution to the wind and vote to convict, thus drumming Trump out of presidential politics for all time. For Republican senators looking to run for the White House in 2024, taking Trump off the board is the only realistic way they believe they can secure the nomination. Profiles in courage, baby.Furious at the serial betrayals of once-loyal Republicans and aghast at the possibility of being convicted in a Senate trial, the former president has floated the idea of starting his own political party and launching a vengeance tour on all Republicans who dare oppose him.

The other faction of the caucus remains steadfastly devoted to Trump (and equally devoted to/terrified of/greedy for his base). These members are demanding congressional Republicans continue to cleave to him like remoras on the underbelly of a shark. McConnell’s response to these warring factions, so far, is to make the laughable argument that impeaching a president who has left office is unconstitutional (no, it isn’t). Many of his colleagues are taking up this argument, flawed and wrong as it is, in order to try and conjure away a trial that may crack the party in half.

That, right there, is where the fun Trump bit kicks in. Furious at the serial betrayals of formerly loyal Republicans and aghast at the possibility of being convicted in a Senate trial, the former president has floated the idea of starting his own political party and launching a vengeance tour on all Republicans who dare oppose him. He would call it the Patriot Party, a title formerly used by Ross Perot when he ran for president. (Before him, the name was used by a group of poor and working-class white people who organized alongside the Black Panthers and Young Lords, and was part of the Rainbow Coalition.)

Journalist Maggie Haberman of The New York Times tweeted yesterday that Trump appears to have been dissuaded from pursuing the Patriot Party course for now. “Trump has been talked out of that and is making clear to people he isn’t pursuing it,” she reported.

Haberman is a superior journalist and I am certain her reporting is solid … for the moment. If Senate Republicans look as if they might vote to convict, however, all bets are off. Trump has tens of millions of dollars he fleeced from his followers during the “legal challenges” phase of his failed re-election bid. How many times has Trump suddenly turned on a dime and pursued an eminently self-destructive course of action? Answer: Pretty much all of the times.

Because it is Trump, there is an angle to this Patriot Party thing. This time, it is the impeachment. Trump is flapping the Patriot Party at Senate Republicans as a warning: Vote to acquit, or I will split the right and come for you. “The President has made clear his goal is to win back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022,” former Trump senior strategist Jason Miller tweeted. “There’s nothing that’s actively being planned regarding an effort outside of that, but it’s completely up to Republican Senators if this is something that becomes more serious.”

The menace in that last sentence is palpable, and with large and influential sectors of Trump’s base in active meltdown after the promised revolution failed to materialize on Inauguration Day, the entire Republican Party is experiencing a moment of deep and unsettled dismay. If Trump follows through on his threat and splits the right, Republicans will be hard pressed to win midterm and presidential elections in anything but the reddest of states. It would be, for all practical purposes, the end of the Republican Party’s existence as a political body with influence and power.

The Patriot Party may be coming to a ballot near you in 2022. Jason Miller was right: Much depends on the choices made by Senate Republicans next month. If they capitulate, they are stuck with Trump forever. If they vote to convict, he could shatter the GOP with a third-party uprising. Because Trump is Trump, he may decide to launch this new party even if Senate Republicans carry him to acquittal again, just because he loves to see his own face on TV.

Armed protests being planned at all 50 state capitols, FBI bulletin says / States Brace for Armed Protests in Wake of U.S. Capitol Attack

An internal FBI note obta

States Brace for Armed Protests in Wake of U.S. Capitol Attack

Simon Romero, Kathleen Gray and Danielle Ivory  29 mins ago

States Brace for Armed Protests in Wake of U.S. Capitol Attack (

‘You are violating my rights!’ Florida woman jailed — again — for refusing to…4 Things You Should Never Do Now, Warns Dr. FauciStates Brace for Armed Protests in Wake of U.S. Capitol Attack

Bracing for the potential of violent protests in the days leading up to the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, state officials are calling up National Guard troops, erecting imposing fencing and shutting down Capitol grounds in response to the F.B.I.’s warning that armed protesters could target the capital cities across the country.a group of people standing in front of a building: California Highway Patrol officers walk outside the California State Capitol Friday in Sacramento ahead of potential weekend protests.© Max Whittaker for The New York Times California Highway Patrol officers walk outside the California State Capitol Friday in Sacramento ahead of potential weekend protests.

A survey by The New York Times of all 50 states found at least 10 — California, Oregon, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Washington, Kentucky, Maine, Illinois and Florida — that are activating National Guard troops in their capital cities. Texas, Virginia and Kentucky are among states planning to close their Capitol grounds at different points in the coming days.

Some states where legislatures are preparing to convene, such as New Mexico, have placed protective fencing around their Capitols. Michigan and Indiana took the extraordinary step of canceling their legislative activities next week because of the possibility of violence.

The moves by state officials point to the growing fear over continuing violence around the country in the aftermath of the mob attack last week on the U.S. Capitol in which assailants supporting President Trump’s efforts to overturn the presidential election forced their way inside the building.

“If you’re planning to come here or up to Washington with ill intent in your heart, you need to turn around right now and go home,” Ralph Northam, the governor of Virginia, said at a news conference Thursday. “You are not welcome here, and you’re not welcome in our nation’s capital. And if you come here and act out, Virginia will be ready.”

Virginia officials took the unusual step of closing the grounds of the Capitol Square on Monday in Richmond, where an event called Lobby Day is held each year to allow people to meet with elected representatives. An estimated 22,000 attended the event last year, many of them gun-rights activists. This year, in addition to closing Capitol Square, authorities canceled permits for the planned Lobby Day gatherings.a sign in front of a building: Capitol Square and the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond were secured with fencing and boards Friday in anticipation of possible protests in the coming days.© Brian Palmer for The New York Times Capitol Square and the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond were secured with fencing and boards Friday in anticipation of possible protests in the coming days.

An example of how volatile the situation has become emerged on Friday in Florida, where the F.B.I. arrested a former U.S. Army Airborne infantryman, Daniel Alan Baker, 33, of Tallahassee, the state capital. Mr. Baker “specifically called for others to join him in encircling any protestors and confining them to the Capitol complex using firearms,” the F.B.I. said in an arrest report.

John Dailey, the mayor of Tallahassee, called on Friday for Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida to activate the National Guard in preparation for the protests this weekend. Not long after, Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, announced that he was activating the Guard “in response to reports of potential civil unrest.”

Concerns are particularly high in Michigan, where Gov. Gretchen Whitmer activated the Michigan National Guard to help with security around the state Capitol in Lansing. The move followed the flooding of Michigan’s Capitol last year by armed extremists protesting the state’s coronavirus restrictions.

Fourteen people were charged in Michigan on terrorism, conspiracy and weapons charges. At least six of them, officials said, had hatched a detailed plan to kidnap Ms. Whitmer, a Democrat who became a focal point of anti-government views and anger over coronavirus control measures.

In Lansing, a six-foot high fence has been erected around the state Capitol and windows of state office buildings boarded up to guard against potentially violent protests that are expected on Sunday and Wednesday.

The state Legislature, which just had its first session of the year and had been scheduled to meet several times next week, canceled those sessions after hearing about “credible threats” received by Michigan State Police.

The increased law enforcement presence will continue through at least mid-February, said the Michigan State Police director, Col. Joe Gasper. He declined to reveal how many more police and National Guard members would be in place to guard against violence.

Still, not every state sees the need for increased security. In North Dakota, for instance, Kim Koppelman, a Republican who is the speaker of the state’s House of Representatives, said, “Suffice it to say that security is in place and adequate to meet any challenges anticipated.”

“No major changes have been implemented in response to riots, property damage, and attacks around the nation last year, nor in response to violence at the U.S. Capitol last week,” Mr. Koppelman said.

But other states are taking different steps. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Thursday authorized the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops and surrounded the state Capitol grounds in Sacramento with a six-foot, covered chain-link fence to “prepare for and respond to credible threats.”

In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has activated 250 members of the National Guard in response to the warnings issued by the F.B.I. about the potential armed protests, in addition to the 300 Illinois troops already activated in support of the inauguration in Washington.

Illinois officials said their aim was for soldiers to help local authorities in enforcing street closures and designated perimeters.

“Our soldiers and airmen come from every community across Illinois, and each has sworn to protect their communities, their state and their nation,” said Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois and commander of the Illinois National Guard.

Shawn Hubler, Mitch Smith, John Yoon, Michael Hardy, Alex Lemonides, Jordan Allen and Alyssa Burr contributed reporting.

ined by ABC News shows warnings of “a huge uprising.”

ByAaron Katersky andCelia DarroughJanuary 11, 2021, 11:06 AM• 6 min read

US Capitol riots: Tracking the insurrection


US Capitol riots: Tracking the insurrection

On Jan. 6, rioters coming from a pro-Trump rally broke into the U.S. Capitol, resulting in death…Read More

Starting this week and running through at least Inauguration Day, armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols and at the U.S. Capitol, according to an internal FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News.

“The FBI received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, DC on 16 January,” the bulletin read. “They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment, a huge uprising will occur.”

PHOTO: Supporters of President Donald Trump participate in a "Stop the Steal" protest outside of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6, 2021.
Stephanie Keith/Reuters, FILEStephanie Keith/Reuters, FILESupporters of President Donald Trump participate in a “Stop the Steal” protest outside of the C…Read More

Federal law enforcement officials have advised police agencies to increase their security posture at statehouses around the country following the riot at the U.S. Capitol, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Following the violent pro-Trump breach of the U.S. Capitol last Wednesday, Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives pushed forward Monday with an effort to get Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would declare Trump incapable of performing his presidential duties and would install Pence as acting president until Biden is inaugurated Jan. 20.MORE: Trump-Biden transition live updates: House Democrats introduce article of impeachment

The effort was ultimately blocked by Republican Rep. Alex Mooney of West Virginia, and House Democrats then introduced an article of impeachment against Trump for “incitement of insurrection.”

The measure, which has more than 200 Democratic co-sponsors, states Trump has “demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law.”

PHOTO: Supporters gather during a rally supporting President Trump at the Minnesota Capitol, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in St. Paul, Minn.
Leila Navidi/Star Tribune via APLeila Navidi/Star Tribune via APSupporters gather during a rally supporting President Trump at the Minnesota Capitol, Saturd…Read More

According to the FBI, approximately 29 individuals and/or social media accounts of individuals who unlawfully entered the Capitol had been identified as of Sunday.MORE: Capitol riots create concerns over inauguration security: ANALYSIS

The FBI has received nearly 45,000 digital media tips that are now being reviewed.

At least five people died during the siege on the Capitol, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick. The FBI bulletin said Sicknick “died from injuries sustained during the U.S. Capitol breach.”MORE: 2 Seattle police officers being investigated for involvement in Capitol attack

ABC News’ Mariam Khan contributed to this report.