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Bridget Bishop being hanged for witchcraft in the 1600s.

Shame Shame Shame: On the Hovering Glory Of A Forced-Birth God Almighty

Kudos to Arizona's wingnut Supreme Court, who in their deranged upholding of an 1864 abortion ban so extreme even GOPers are fleeing it have dragged us back to a time when doctors used leeches, snake oil, opiates and a nice long asylum stay to treat women with "hysteria." If the law's upheld, "People will die." Still, a stalwart group of zealots took to the Senate floor to kneel, pray, babble in tongues and implore, "Let it be so, Father God." Be warned: "This is today's Republican Party."

The court's ruling came in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Hazelrigg, in which Dr. Eric Hazelrigg, who owns a chain of anti-abortion clinics and declares himself "guardian ad litem for all Arizona unborn infants," appealed a 2022 decision upholding the state's current, already-extreme 15-week abortion ban. Instead, the good doctor urged the court to reinstate a long-dormant law passed 160 years ago - as the Civil War still raged, before Arizona was a state, decades before the vast majority of those affected by it could vote - which allows abortions only if the mother’s life is in danger, provides no exceptions for rape, incest, non-viable fetuses or other ugly facts of life, and suggests abortion providers be prosecuted.

It also passed when male doctors with no clinical experience relied on the ancient concept of balancing the Four Humors: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. Women - frail, submissive, emotional - were deemed especially prone to illness, most often hysteria, or "womb disease," because their uterus, "the great central pivotal organ of her existence," moved and caused mood swings. Aggravating factors: too-tight corsets, sexual urges, reading, challenging the status quo. Treatments: bloodletting, magnetizers, snake oil, smelling salts, leeches on the abdomen to reduce blood in the womb, clitoral stimulation via pelvic massage to create orgasm and release excess fluid, "patent medicine" or opiates - most addicts were women - and the asylum, a "convenient, socially acceptable excuse (for) potentially scandalous behavior."

Laws then on the books addressed the possible pernicious results of said scandalous behavior: "If any woman shall endeavor, privately, either by herself or the procurement of others, to conceal the death of any issue of her body, which, if born alive, would be a bastard, so that it may not come to light, whether it shall have been murdered or not, every such mother being convicted thereof shall suffer imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding one year." Other laws made it illegal to entice Black people to leave the state to be sold into slavery. But in the name of mercy another law creates the category of "excusable homicide" if, say, "a man is at work with an axe, and the head flies off and kills a bystander,” or a parent is "moderately correcting his child, or a master his servant."

Cue today's Arizona, or "Fetuzona, where all zygotes matter," the hateful likes of Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs can get elected, and GOP governors can pack a helpfully expanded Supreme Court - thanks then-Gov. Doug "Fucking Douchey, Anus Maximus" - with seven, male, far-right ideologues who can pass a "devastating, cruel" anti-choice law "wildly out of step with where Arizonan voters are at." Democratic, female state officials have made it very clear they will not go gentle into the night. "Let me be clear," said Gov. Katie Hobbs of an extreme ban that "hurts women." "Let me be completely clear," said A.G. Kris Mayes of an "unconscionable" ruling and "stain our state" she's already vowed not to enforce, with help from a proactive Hobbs who already gave Mayes' office sole enforcement authority.

Last week, reproductive rights organizers announced they'd collected over 500,000 signatures, far over the requisite 383,923, for a November referendum on a constitutional amendment enshrining the right to abortion, and activists and lawmakers vow, with abortion on the ballot, extremists will "feel the power of pissed-off women voters." Sadly, doctors and those they care for are caught in the middle. Lamenting she'll be "phoning lawyers for guidance on what i can do" rather than "making clinical decisions based on what my patients are telling me," one doctor decried "legal jargon (with no) ability to capture the nuance of taking care of a patient." "It completely wreaks havoc on our ability to do our job," she said. "And patients are going to be the ones who suffer."

Of course the "Republi-nazi terrorist attack" in Arizona, while more extreme than some, reflects a nationwide GOP war on women; today, more than one in three women of reproductive age live in a state with an abortion ban. Still, a glaring dissonance persists: Since the 2022 Dobbs ruling on Roe, voters in Kansas, Kentucky and other states have voted for expanding not restricting access to abortion, and similar proposals are on ballots in multiple states. Meanwhile, right-wingers on the wrong side of history remain stubbornly clueless about the grim possible consequences - fury, sorrow, sepsis, bleeding out in parking lots - facing millions of women. Citing Arizona's "earthquake of epic proportions," one GOP strategist admitted, "Anytime Republicans are talking about abortion, they’re losing."

Cue hapless rich white dude in a bad Beatles wig Mark Simone, who went on a Fox panel of more rich white dudes to discuss lady parts and say it's all good. A radio host who online trashes "Biden's kids who've all been involved in horrible drug scandals," lauds a brilliant Trump "who builds 100-story skyscrapers in his sleep," and claims Bernie Sanders "never held a job until age 53 and lived off welfare and four different women," he shrugged that any sloppy, pregnant ho has it easy with a simple, solo bus ride: "If you had to travel to another state for an abortion, buying a bus ticket to (go) get it is not the worst thing in the world." Says the guy who def doesn't know how grief, terror, vaginal bleeding, abdominal pain, financial panic, ectopic pregnancy or worrying about who's watching the kids feels.

Nationally, he's got much oblivious company, with even anti-choice GOPers so freaked out by Arizona's illustration of "what happens when abortion policy is left up to the (often rabid) states" they're running away from it. That night, Fox talking heads literally ignored the ruling, though they found time to accuse NPR of being liberal and Kamala of doing "abortion hit jobs." While a coalition of right-wing sages has reportedly published a 920-page, Comstock Act -based plan for a Trump Mandate for Leadership to target abortion pills, Trump continues to just say whatever he thinks will keep him out of jail - which rightly hasn't stopped anyone from laying Arizona at his tacky door, from Elizabeth Warren - "Remember, this is brought to you by Trump" - to Biden: "This is Trump's fault."

Arizona's GOP pols are flip-flopping so fast they forget what they just said. Kari Lake, who once proclaimed she was "incredibly thrilled we (have) a great law that's already on the books" - from 1864 - now says the law is "out of step with Arizonans,” which never stopped her before. Rep. David Schweikert, a Roe opponent and six-time sponsor of a radical Life at Conception Act up for re-election, now says abortion should "not be legislated from the bench." Rep. Juan Ciscomani, who fought to ban health insurance that covers abortion, called the ruling a "disaster" and wants the 15-week ban back please. As stupid as these people are, they've evidently grasped that "Let The Men Decide" - the sign of a protester rigged in top hat and mutton chaps - may not be the greatest campaign slogan.

Not state Sen. and Jan 6-er Anthony Kern, though. The day before the ruling, Kern led a small prayer group onto the Senate floor - the Senate seal, actually - where they kneeled, cried out in tongues and summoned "the hovering glory of God almighty" to, yes, let the men decide. "Lord, we ask thee to release the presence of the Lord in the Senate chamber," Kern bellowed, as acolytes who regrettably missed out on 1692 Salem wailed, "Let it be so, let it be so, let it be so." Kern was an apt guru. Now under investigation as a fake elector for Trump in 2020, he turned his back on Gov Hobbs during her State of the State speech and just successfully pushed through a Senate bill permitting the Ten Commandments to be recited aloud in public schools: "This is the guy the writers of our Constitution warned us about."

After the head of Secular Arizonapointed out Kern's garish play-acting on government property - "So this happened today" - the reaction was swift. Most people agreed, "If you believe, fine, but believe on your own time, not mine." Also on "archaic beliefs in imaginary bearded sky daddies": "Yup. Freedom of religion. Support sky pilots, that's your option. But keep it out (of) public facilities." They raged - "The Taliban has infiltrated state government" - mourned - "God cringes" - snarked - "The state of Arizona is showing the long-term effects of living in an Easy Bake Oven," "Oh those zany GOP politicians - next he's bringing snakes and a goat to sacrifice" - mused, in the 21st century, "You actually have to put effort into being as willfully ignorant." Many imagined the furor if, say, Muslim prayers were recited.

The "speaking in tongues" shtick also sparked debate. Given they're Repubs, maybe it's just gibberish, or one of the migrant languages Trump says "no one has ever heard of." In the Bible, it was noted, the apostles spoke in tongues when the Holy Spirit filled them, and each person heard them in their native tongue; if it's not understood by all, it's just showmanship. Or theocracy. "They weren't speaking in tongues - they were articulating Republican policy," one argued. And, "This is how Republicans make decisions for your family and future." Our fave: "My wife spoke to me in tongues and I couldn't understand her, so with her preacher's advice she divorced me. We were 'unyoked.' After a few years, I met and married a wonderful woman. Best thing that ever happened to me!"

After the response, Kern sneered, "Looks like our prayer team stirred up some God-haters." In the venerable traditiion of learning nothing, ever, his House colleagues also acted like douchebags - or kids sneaking out before their mom can make them clean their room - by twice blocking Dem efforts to repeal the 160-year-old baby mama law and then up and quitting, voting to adjourn until "cooler heads prevail." "Democrats were screaming at us and engaging (in) insurrectionist behavior," one whined, and besides, "removing healthy babies from healthy mothers is not health care." Jesus. They never seem to realize maybe they have to go so far back in time to strip women's rights because it's been that long since we wanted to live like that. As GOPers left, Dems chanted, "Shame! Shame! Shame!" If only they had some.

"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." - George Orwell.

Traffic is seen at the Otay Mesa border crossing

'Victory for Cleaner Air' as Federal Court Upholds California Vehicle Emissions Standards

Three judges serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Tuesday affirmed the Biden administration's 2022 decision to preserve California's strict emissions standards—dealing a blow to a coalition of right-wing state attorneys general and fossil fuel industry groups that had challenged the rules.

The panel—made up of judges who were appointed by Democratic Presidents Joe Biden and Barack Obama—ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was right to reinstate its waiver, dating back to the 1970s, which allows California to impose stricter emissions standards than the federal government.

The waiver, which has helped the massive state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds of thousands of tons annually, was introduced to help the state address smog stemming from congested freeways and roads in Los Angeles.

The Trump administration revoked the exception in 2018, and Biden reinstated it in 2022, a move that one Sierra Club leader said was "vital to California" and would have a "positive ripple effect on states across the country, driving forward climate progress and delivering cleaner air for millions of Americans."

On Tuesday, Sierra Club senior attorney Joshua Berman said the D.C. Circuit panel's ruling in Ohio v. EPA was "a victory for cleaner air and cleaner cars not just in California, but across the nation."

"The D.C. Circuit has reaffirmed California's critical role in protecting its residents from harmful vehicle emissions, thereby benefiting the many states that rely on adoption of California's standards to achieve and maintain the Clean Air Act's air quality mandate," said Berman.

California's strict emissions standards have been adopted by 17 states and Washington, D.C. since they were first introduced. The Biden administration recently approved new emissions standards for cars as well as buses and trucks that campaigners and experts said were progress but didn't go far enough.

Alice Henderson, director and lead counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund, said the upheld standards "will save lives, protect people from the climate crisis and unhealthy air pollution, save drivers money, and help create good new jobs."

Scott Hochberg, transportation attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity's Climate Law Institute, which intervened in Ohio v. EPA in support of California's waiver, called on the state to now "go full speed ahead with strong car standards."

"This year California should continue to show national leadership on clean vehicles by adopting ambitious new standards for gas-powered cars, pickups, and SUVs," said Hochberg. "Importantly, this ruling ensures that the 17 other states that follow California can keep driving towards a future with cleaner air and cleaner vehicles."

garland and monaco

Corporate Prosecutions Up Under Biden, Says Watchdog, But Not Nearly Enough

While welcoming a "modest uptick" in corporate prosecutions by the U.S. Department of Justice last year, the watchdog Public Citizen on Monday called for the "bold ramp-up Biden DOJ leadership promised early in the administration."

Federal prosecutions of corporations over the past 25 years peaked in 2000, at 304, according to the organization's analysis of various datasets. After the turn of the century, figures trended down, with a low of 90 in 2021, the year that President Joe Biden was sworn in. Since then, the numbers have started to climb again—hitting 99 in 2022 and 113 in 2023.

However, the impact isn't felt equally across the corporate world. Last year, "about 76% of the corporations DOJ prosecuted had only 50 employees or less, while only about 12% had 1,000 employees or more," the report states. "This is the continuation of a long-standing trend—about 70% of the 4,946 corporations the federal government prosecuted between 1992 and 2021 were small businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Only about 6% employed 1,000 or more."

"Prosecutions remain far too few, and the ongoing overuse of leniency deals for big corporations that break the law continues to undermine deterrence."

Still, "the increase in corporate prosecutions is a welcome shift from the previous decline, and the new policy of rewarding corporate crime whistleblowers could go further toward restoring enforcement," said Rick Claypool, a Public Citizen research director who authored the report, in a statement Monday.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco announced the "DOJ-run whistleblower rewards program," through which an individual who helps the department discover "significant corporate or financial misconduct" could receive some of the forfeiture, in a speech to the American Bar Association's 39th National Institute on White Collar Crime earlier this month.

Although Claypool applauded the progress, he also emphasized that "prosecutions remain far too few, and the ongoing overuse of leniency deals for big corporations that break the law continues to undermine deterrence."

The report explains that "prosecutors use DOJ leniency agreements—deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) and nonprosecution agreements (NPAs)—to avoid filing criminal charges against corporate defendants. Originally developed to offer nonviolent first-time individual offenders a second chance, such agreements now help the most powerful businesses in the world dodge the legal consequences of their criminal misconduct."

Previous Public Citizen research shows that "about 15% of the agreements historically involve repeat offenders, casting doubt on their deterrent effect," the report notes. "Most corporate repeat offenders that receive leniency agreements from the Department of Justice are large multinationals. Of the 14 corporations that received leniency deals in 2023, the majority (10, or 71%) had at least 5,000 employees or more."

Of those who took deals last year, the watchdog highlighted "generic pharmaceutical companies Teva and Glenmark, multinational tobacco corporation British American Tobacco, the Illinois subsidiary of telecommunications corporation AT&T, and the Swiss multinational technology firm ABB."

While calling out the DOJ for creating "the appearance that some businesses are 'too big to jail'" with its leniency agreements, Public Citizen also lauded Monaco's recent remarks about "delivering consequences for corporate recidivists."

"A history of misconduct matters," she said during the early March address. "After all, penalties exist, in part, to deter future misconduct. They're not the cost of doing business. So when a company breaks the law again—and it's clear the message wasn't received—we need to ratchet up the sanctions."

As the report details:

The first example Monaco provides of the Justice Department holding corporate repeat offenders accountable is Ericsson. Ericsson breached its 2019 leniency agreement with the DOJ to resolve allegations of criminal violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Kuwait. Following the breach—failing to meet cooperation and disclosure requirements—the DOJ subsequently prosecuted the corporation for its misconduct.

Other major corporations that have been prosecuted after breaching leniency agreements include the multinational agrichemical corporation Monsanto and the financial corporation formerly known as Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest Group, which reportedly rebranded in part to dissociate itself from its past misconduct.

"The DOJ's fresh willingness to hold corporate offenders accountable for leniency agreement breaches is among the strongest and most necessary corporate accountability reforms implemented by the Biden administration," the report says. "It's also one that is currently facing its greatest test: Boeing."

Boeing entered into DPA in 2021, after a pair of deadly 737 MAX 8 jet crashes in 2018 and 2019. In January, a door plug flew off a 737 MAX 9 during a flight, resulting in an emergency landing and fresh scrutiny—including a DOJ criminal investigation.

In a February letter to DOJ leaders including Monaco and Attorney General Merrick Garland, Weissman wrote that "if the DOJ finds that Boeing again violated the law, Boeing should be prosecuted both for its original and its subsequent misconduct."

As Common Dreamsreported earlier Monday, Boeing announced that its commercial airplanes division leader will leave immediately, the chairman of the board will resign after the annual meeting in May, and the CEO will step down at the end of this year.

"Of course CEO Dave Calhoun should be dismissed," responded Weissman. "But for real and lasting change to occur, Boeing must now be held criminally accountable both for the recent safety failures and the... crashes that took 346 lives."

Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, Ohio

Norfolk Southern Agrees to Pay $600 Million—A Fraction of Its 2023 Profits—for East Palestine Disaster

A decision from a class-action lawsuit has determined Norfolk Southern will now have to pay $600 million—a mere fraction of the company’s 2023 profits—for the toxic derailment of its train in East Palestine, Ohio last year.

The decision deals with everyone within a 20-mile radius of the derailment. The train spilled more than a million pounds of hazardous chemicals in East Palestine.

"Individuals and businesses will be able to use compensation from the settlement in any manner they see fit to address potential adverse impacts from the derailment," the company said in a statement. "This could include healthcare needs and medical monitoring, property restoration and diminution, and compensation for any net business loss."

"We believe this is a fair, reasonable and adequate result for the community on a number of levels, not the least of which is the speed of the resolution, and the overall amount of the awards residents can expect, which will be significant for those most impacted by the derailment," said Seth Katz of Burg Simpson Eldredge Hersh & Jardine, M. Elizabeth Graham of Grant & Eisenhofer, Jayne Conroy of Simmons Hanly Conroy and T. Michael Morgan of Morgan & Morgan, the attorneys for the plaintiffs, in a combined statement.

The Biden administration recently announced that at least two people will now have to be on board the trains of the country's largest freight operators, following the East Palestine disaster, which drew national attention to Norfolk Southern’s history of dangerous practices and lobbying against more stringent federal safety rules.

Last year, even after adjusting for a $1.1 billion hit associated with the East Palestine wreck, the company reported nearly $3 billion in income from its railway operations.

Rep. Cori Bush speaks to reporters

After Missouri Executes Brian Dorsey, Cori Bush Says Abolish Death Penalty

Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Cori Bush renewed her demand for an end to the death penalty nationwide after her home state of Missouri executed 52-year-old Brian Dorsey on Tuesday evening.

"There is no place in a humane society for state violence. Gov. Mike Parson could have saved Brian Dorsey's life by granting clemency, but he chose to uphold his legacy as the 'Deadly Governor' by denying Mr. Dorsey mercy," Bush said in a statement.

Bush and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) had written to Parson last week urging the Republican to spare Dorsey's life.

Others who recently tried to prevent Dorsey's execution included family members, five of the jurors who sentenced him to death, over 70 current and former correctional officers, and former Missouri Supreme Court Judge Michael Wolff, who previously upheld his sentence.

The right-wing U.S. Supreme Court also declined to intervene. Dorsey was injected with a single dose of pentobarbital at the state prison in Bonne Terre and pronounced dead at 6:11 pm local time, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.

"Dorsey took a few deep breaths as the drug was injected, then several shallow, quick breaths," The Associated Pressreported Tuesday. "At one point he raised his head from the pillow and blinked hard. After several seconds, all movement stopped."

Based on advice from private counsel hired by the Missouri State Public Defender to defend him, Dorsey pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for killing his cousin, Sarah Bonnie, and her husband, Benjamin Bonnie, at their home on December 23, 2006.

"Had counsel investigated and completed an expert evaluation of their client, they would have learned that Mr. Dorsey was not guilty of first-degree murder, as he was neurologically incapable of deliberation," a lawyer for Dorsey wrote in a recent legal filing.

Bush—who is among dozens of congressional Democrats who have advocated against capital punishment—expressed alarm that Dorsey was killed "despite serious concerns about his state of mind when he committed the offense and the legal representation he was provided."

His case, she said, "demonstrates the systemic rot of our criminal legal system, which not only fails to prevent violence but actually enables violence itself."

"We are so much more than our worst mistakes, and not a single one of us deserves to die because of them," the congresswoman added. "We must refuse to allow another life to be taken by our government. We must abolish the death penalty."

USAID Administrator Samantha Power

USAID Chief Admits Famine Is Underway in Gaza as US Keeps Arming Israel

The head of the U.S. Agency for International Development admitted during congressional testimony on Wednesday that famine is already underway in the Gaza Strip, publicly confirming an assessment that her agency's officials outlined in a cable to the White House last week.

USAID Administrator Samantha Power, a well-known liberal interventionist and the author of a famous book on American leaders' failure to act in the face of genocide, answered in the affirmative after U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) asked whether "famine is already occurring" in Gaza, which is under a suffocating Israeli siege and relentless bombing campaign.

"Yes," said Power. "In northern Gaza, the rate of malnutrition prior to October 7th was almost zero, and it is now one in three—one in three kids."

During her opening statement at Wednesday's House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Power said that "nearly the entire population" of Gaza is "living under the threat of famine."

"USAID teams have been working day and night to address the catastrophic humanitarian crisis," said Power, who earlier this year was confronted by current and former USAID officials over the Biden administration's support for Israel's assault on the Palestinian territory, which the United Nations' highest court has deemed a plausible genocide.

The hearing was interrupted by peace activists with CodePink, who pointed to the number of children Israeli forces have killed in Gaza and condemned the USAID chief for "not using her power and influence to end" the assault.

"Will Samantha Power continue to be a bystander and be complicit in genocide? Or will she, in her own words, be an upstander to stop the genocide?" asked Jennifer Koonings, one of the activists who took part in the protest.

Power's remarks to the House panel came after HuffPost's Akbar Shahid Ahmed reported that USAID officials drafted a cable describing the spread of malnutrition in Gaza as "unprecedented in modern history" and warning that deaths from starvation will likely "accelerate in the weeks ahead"—echoing the conclusions of U.N. experts and human rights organizations.

The cable, Ahmed wrote, "shows the Biden administration is aware of the risk that the death toll there will rise dramatically as it continues to support Israel's operation and resist calls for a permanent end to the war."

Last week, hours after Israeli forces killed seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in a series of targeted airstrikes, The New York Timesreported that the Biden administration is pressing Congress to approve a proposed sale of $18 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Israel despite U.S. laws barring aid deliveries to nations committing war crimes and obstructing the delivery of American humanitarian assistance.

In late March, the Biden administration quietly approved weapons packages that included more than 1,800 2,000-pound bombs, which the Israeli military has repeatedly dropped on densely populated areas of Gaza.

"The idea that we have supplied and are continuing to supply 2,000-pound bombs which could wipe out an entire block and other military aid is unacceptable," U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told journalist Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired earlier this week.

"There is an imminent risk of famine for the majority, if not all, the 2.2 million population of Gaza. This is not a point in debate."

Fears of mass starvation in the Gaza Strip have mounted in recent days as Israel continues to restrict the flow of necessary aid to Gaza, sparking accusations that the Netanyahu government is using hunger as a weapon of war—a grave violation of international law.

"There is an imminent risk of famine for the majority, if not all, the 2.2 million population of Gaza," David Satterfield, the U.S. special envoy for Gaza humanitarian efforts, said Wednesday during a virtual event hosted by the American Jewish Committee.

"This is not a point in debate," he added. "It is an established fact, which the United States, its experts, the international community, its experts assess and believe is real."

A report released earlier this week by the International Crisis Group found that the Israeli government has been directing limited Gaza aid to "big families who agree to embrace its agenda, while targeting those who refuse."

"It has not coordinated military with humanitarian action, endangering aid workers and recipients, and frequently halting convoys," reads the damning report. "It has attacked civilian police, citing links to Hamas, and compelled their retreat, which leaves supplies vulnerable to plunder, whether by profiteers or the desperately hungry. It has tried to work around the international aid system and its protocols for famine prevention and response, doling out assistance on an ad hoc basis in hopes of building a network to administer Gaza on its behalf after the war."