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Members of the GOP clown posse listen as Trump rants to reporters at his New York hush money trial.

Ungaggable: Costumed Clowns and Lickspittle Surrogates 'R Us

This week saw a seedy, craven parade of MAGA stooges trooping into court to pay fealty to their two-bit mob-boss on trial for cooking the books to hide hush money payments to a porn star so he could get elected to a job he was stupefyingly unfit for, and still is. Then "God's most pathetic Republicans" - from Mike Handmaid’s Tale to the Beetlejuice Lady - brazenly violated his gag order for him to declare the rule of law "a sham." Nope, nothing to see here.

The GOP, of course, is already a toxic mix of idiocy, rancor and racism we always think can't go any lower until they inevitably do. This week, Florida's Ron DeFascist signed a bill deleting the term "climate change" from state laws in the witless name of owning "radical green zealots"; the action forbids any consideration of potential climate effects of greenhouse gas emissions from energy policy in the rapidly sinking state, weakens regulation of fossil fuel pipelines, and thank God "keeps windmills off our beaches." And in law-and-order Texas, his feral colleague Greg Abbott just pardoned racist groomer Daniel Perry after serving just one year of a 25-year sentence for murdering BLM protester and Air Force veteran Garrett Foster in 2020. Abbott, who notably refused to recommend a posthumous pardon for George Floyd for a 2004 drug arrest - years before he was choked to death by police - touted Texas' "‘Stand Your Ground’ laws of self-defense that cannot be nullified by a jury or a progressive District Attorney,'" confirming, one critic said, "There are two classes of people in this state, where some lives matter and some lives do not."

But Republicans sank still lower this week with the servile pilgrimage of multiple MAGA sycophants to the crime-and-bird-shit-stained altar of their ugly shell of a tinpot dictator, now charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up cheating on his wife when she was home with their infant son and then persistently lying about it. As further illustration of how deeply into ethical loathsomeness the GOP has sunk, these are the same goons who, after he admitted to his pussy-grabbing exploits on the "Access Hollywood" tape, at least had the good grace to scurry to distance themselves while making fake horrified noises. Now, at the mercy of an unshackled, sputtering bully vowing revenge on any turncoats - and their own unfathomable slavish devotion to him - such moral niceties seem quaint. And so they flocked there, cartoon villains in their goofy, unctuous, matching red ties and navy suits - they got the memo! - to kneel before their preposterous monarch. After weeks alone in court - not even grim Melania - he was jubilant. "I do have a lot of surrogates," he beamed when asked, "and they are speaking very beautifully."

Thus summoning the queasy spectacle of the "family-values" party rushing to defend a serial sexual predator banging a porn star, the appearance of the feckless likes of J.D. Vance, Byron Donalds, Doug Burgum, Vivek Ramaswamy and Tommy 'Dumb As A Rock' Tuberville - the Republicans aren't sending their best, or are they? - was widely mocked as a "demeaning," "ridiculous," "embarrassing," “both thuggish and pathetic," "utterly humiliating" act of obeisance by MAGA plus-ones eager to drop their day jobs to win tawdry Brownie points. Serving as ignorant "Mouths of Sauron," they stayed in court for 45 minutes, came out to a press conference and violated Trump's gag order for him: The trial is a sham, a scam, a witch hunt, a Biden show trial (albeit put in motion by juries of regular Americans) and the judge and his family are crooks. Burgum: "The American people have already acquitted (Trump)." Donalds: "There's nothing wrong here, there's nothing that's been done poorly by (Trump), the only thing being done wrong is by this judge." Tuberville, saying the quiet part out loud (see dumb): "We're here to overcome this gag order."

Still, it got weirder. According to Trump's gag order, everything his lackeys did was likely illegal. It forbids him, not just to say what they said, but to direct "others to make public statements" about attorneys, court staff, their family members, the proceedings. Which presumably includes, as several journalists reported, Trump sitting in court editing speeches for his lap-dogs to repeat to the press. The most "gob-smacking" part: The arrival of "shiny-eyed Christian nationalist" and second-in-line to the presidency Mike Johnson with an "all-out assault (on) the federal and state legal systems foundational to the U.S. government." Johnson called the court "corrupt," attacked Judge Merchan's daughter - "Among the atrocities is (her) making millions of dollars fundraising for Democrats" (who's Ginni Thomas?) - said "these are politically motivated trials" and declared Trump "innocent." Jamie Raskin: "I don’t find anything unusual about a fundamentalist theocrat who thinks the Bible is the supreme law of the land attending the legal proceedings of an adjudicated sexual assailant and world-class fraudster for (covering up) payments to conceal (an) adulterous affair. Do you?"

Because the GOP is shameless and irony is dead, the next day Johnson - the Congressional architect of the effort to overturn the 2020 election who's already said it's his "duty" to do it again if needed, a position deemed on "the far-right fringes of American legal thought" - turned up at a House "Back the Blue” event to proclaim, "We've got to make crimes criminal again" and promote a California sheriff, Oath Keeper and Jan. 6 fan-boy who decries "the sick and twisted progressive social experiment." Because Trump, the House also voted to delay their “urgent” hearing to hold A.G. Merrick Garland in contempt for the imaginary crime of refusing to hand over information they already have - specifically, the audio of Biden’s interview with special counsel Robert Hur, though they have the transcript. Ranking Dem Jerry Nadler blasted the "political theater" of Gym Jordan et al who've spent $20 million to investigate conspiracy theories that have "delivered Exactly Nothing" while delaying House business to attend the trial of a madman who just praised "the late, great Hannibal Lecter" and "defend (him) against frankly indefensible acts."

Despite Laura Ingraham's pan of the courtroom - "The air is musty, the floors are old, the benches are hard oak" - a "new band of jesters" arrived Thursday to attend/hold court briefly and attack everyone. This time it was far-right cranks Lauren Boebert, who missed court for her miscreant son facing 22 charges including a felony and multiple misdemeanor property thefts but found time to come trash Judge Merchan's daughter - "millions and millions of dollars" - and Matt Gaetz, who once sought a pardon from Trump while under now-renewed investigation for sex-trafficking a teen girl and said the D.A. made up "the Mr. Potato Head of crimes” against Trump. If irony hadn't died, we'd say Gaetz looked just like Mr. Potato Head - sorry, Potato - when he echoed the Proud Boys ina selfie with other toadies that read, "Standing back and standing by, Mr. President," earning a sublime "Bootlicker" troll: "Not all heroes wear capes." The final cringe: Boebert, her cohort gone, shrieking into the mike, "What is the crime?!" as people yell "Beetlejuice!" at her. "They may have gagged (Trump)," she wrote later. "They didn't gag me. They cant gag me. i have no gag reflex. I am ungaggable."

Later, once the bootlickers returned to D.C., the House held their let's-do-something-to-Merrick-Garland hearing. It did not go well. It went so unwell it may have proved, per one sage, "This country has been stuck in Junior High since 2015." It may have also proved, for the first time, Klan Mom MTG correct when she recently whined, "(Americans) are looking at Republicans in Washington and laughing at us. They think we are a complete joke." Alas, in more (dead) irony, she confirmed it when she and Jasmine Crockett, who's way above her pay grade, got into it after Marge lobbed a "fake eyelashes" barb at her so low Jamie Raskin retorted, "That’s beneath even you, Ms. Greene." So it went. Jeers, yelps, havoc. AOC deemed MTG's puerile rants "absolutely unacceptable" with, "Oh, girl. Baby girl." Crockett asked to clarify the rules if, say, she dissed someone's "bleach blonde, bad-built, butch body." Comer, befuddled: "Uhh, what now?" Raskin face-palmed. After a brief recess, Boebert took the floor: "I just want to apologize to the American people. When things get (so) heated, unfortunately it’s an embarrassment on our body as a whole." Wait. Boebert as the adult in the room? When pigs fly. Nothing to see here.

Electricity transmission lines are shown at sunset.

Green Groups Call US Electric Transmission Rules 'Major Leap Forward'

Green groups on Monday praised U.S. regulators for finalizing rules that supporters say "will help accelerate the transition to a clean and equitable electric system by working to build more transmission capacity."

The two Democrats on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved new transmission planning requirements. They and the sole GOP commissioner also advanced an order empowering FERC to greenlight permits for projects rejected or ignored by states.

"The new rules require utilities and regional grid operators to adopt 20-year plans that consider trends in technology and fuel costs, changes to resource mix and demand, more opportunities for state and utility collaboration, and extreme weather events, among other variables calculated by the 'best available data,'" the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) explained. The assessments must be revised every five years.

Sam Gomberg, the manager of transmission policy and a senior energy analyst at UCS, called the rules "a critical step to ensuring our electric grid has the capacity and durability necessary to keep up with our clean energy ambition, meet climate goals, and guarantee affordable and equitable energy access for all."

"I am pleased that FERC will require transmission planners to account for seven broadly recognized benefits of expanding transmission when determining whether to make investments," he said. "This, combined with FERC's inclusion of state-approved plans for utilities' changes in generation, moves the country to more just and reasonable planning standards."

Gomberg was far from alone in cheering the policy changes. Christine Powell, deputy managing attorney at Earthjustice and former commission adviser, said that "we applaud FERC for meeting the moment" and "look forward to engaging with FERC to center equity and environmental justice in transmission planning."

Cullen Howe, senior advocate with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Sustainable FERC Project, stressed that "we urgently need every grid operator to determine where and what transmission lines to build. This rule brings everyone to the starting line for scaling up the clean energy transition."

"With climate-fueled disasters posing ever-greater challenges to the grid, this rule will help shape a power grid that optimizes the capabilities of clean energy while prioritizing reliability and affordability," Howe said. "In addition, FERC's backstop siting rule will help ensure that no one state can veto transmission lines that are in the general interest of the nation."

Quentin Scott, federal director for Chesapeake Climate Action Network, declared that "this announcement is a major leap forward to ease the bottlenecks that have slowed the clean energy revolution. These new federal rules will unleash the nearly 2000 gigawatts of clean energy in the transmission queue, putting us back on the pathway for 100% clean energy by 2035."

"When I talk with clean energy developers, their biggest challenge is certainty. The certainty of where they can build their projects, the certainty of how much their project will cost, and the certainty of their ability to connect to the grid. These latest FERC rules will provide that certainty," Scott added. He also urged Congress to "provide the financial incentives to expand transmission capacity."

"This rule will help shape a power grid that optimizes the capabilities of clean energy while prioritizing reliability and affordability."

Congress has already taken some action, as Sierra Club executive director Ben Jealous highlighted, pointing to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) signed by President Joe Biden in 2022. He said as that law "continues to usher in the clean energy future through deployment of solar, wind, and battery storage, this transmission standard will allow utilities to deliver Americans clean, affordable electricity, even in the face of rising demand and extreme weather caused by climate change."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and other top Democrats joined advocacy organizations in lauding the rules, enacted as global temperatures continue to soar, underscoring the need to transition away from planet-heating fossil fuels.

"The clean energy incentives included in the Inflation Reduction Act have been a huge success but much of that success would be lost without the ability to bring power from places that generate renewable energy to communities all across the country," said Schumer. "A new historic advancement in our transmission policies is desperately needed, and the rules released by FERC today will go a long way to solving that problem."

"Last year, I pushed FERC to deliver a historic advancement in transmission policies that will lower costs and improve reliability by getting clean energy from where it is produced to where people live," he continued. "This is exactly what we need to see the clean energy revolution we catalyzed with the Inflation Reduction Act come to fruition. FERC's actions will help to fundamentally improve our power grid in the wake of the IRA."

The Senate leader and green groups welcomed the rules, but "the commission's sole Republican member, former Virginia regulator Mark Christie, was not so effusive," notedHeatmap's Matthew Zeitlin. "He issued a harsh dissent to his colleagues' decision, likely previewing a judicial challenge from Republican-governed states."

"While the commission's chair, former District of Columbia Public Service Commissioner Willie Phillips, and its other member, NRDC alum Allison Clements, both Democrats, largely spoke about the rule in terms of reliability and reforming the planning process," Zeitlin reported, "Christie made it seem like a climate change policy in disguise that would function as a 'transfer of wealth' to wind, solar, and transmission developers."

credit cards

Trump-Appointed Judge Halts Biden Rule Capping Credit Card Fees

A Trump-appointed judge on Friday delivered a win for big banks when he granted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce a temporary injunction halting a Biden administration rule that would cap credit card fees at $8.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule, which would have gone into effect May 14, could save U.S. consumers more than $10 billion each year. The decision to pause its implementation, issued by U.S. District of the Northern District of Texas Judge Mark Pittman, will cost ordinary Americans around $27 million each day it is in effect.

"In their latest in a stack of lawsuits designed to pad record corporate profits at the expense of everyone else, the U.S. Chamber got its way for now—ensuring families get price-gouged a little longer with credit card late fees as high as $41," Liz Zelnick, the director of the Economic Security and Corporate Power Program at Accountable.US, said in a statement.

"It's time the U.S. Chamber stops clogging the courts with baseless lawsuits designed to enrich corporate CEOs on the backs of working families—and it's time the judiciary stops legitimizing venue shopping from big industry."

The CFPB issued the rule on March 5 as part of the Biden administration's commitment to crack down on "junk fees." However, the Chamber of Commerce and other banking trade associations—including the American Bankers Association and the Consumer Bankers Association—quickly sued to block it. The executives of Bank of America, Capital One, Citibank, and JPMorgan Chase sit on the boards of the groups behind the suit, according toThe Washington Post.

"Banks make billions in profits charging excessive late fees," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote on social media Saturday in response to the ruling. "Now a single Trump-appointed judge sided with bank lobbyists to block the Biden administration's new rule capping these junk fees."

Accountable.US also criticized the fact that the suit was before Pittman at all, arguing that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce filed the suit in Texas federal court so that it would end up under the jurisdiction of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has 19 Republican-appointed justices out of a total of 26. The chamber has filed nearly two-thirds of its lawsuits since 2017 with courts covered by the 5th Circuit.

"The U.S. Chamber and the big banks they represent have corrupted our judicial system by venue shopping in courtrooms of least resistance, going out of their way to avoid having their lawsuit heard by a fair and neutral federal judge," Zelnick said. "It's time the U.S. Chamber stops clogging the courts with baseless lawsuits designed to enrich corporate CEOs on the backs of working families—and it's time the judiciary stops legitimizing venue shopping from big industry."

The 5th Circuit's treatment of the case has also come under fire, as Trump-appointed Judge Don Willett has not recused himself despite the fact that he owns tens of thousands of dollars in Citigroup shares. While Willett has argued that Citigroup is not a party to the case, it belongs to trade groups that are, and any ruling on credit card fees would significantly impact the bank. Collectively, all the judges on the 5th Circuit have invested as much as $745,000 in credit card or credit issuing companies, according to the most recent publicly available information.

Donald Sherman, Gabe Lezra, and Linnaea Honl-Stuenkel of Citizens for Ethics in Washington wrote: "Judge Willett's refusal to recuse, and the lack of transparency about the rationale, reinforces the need for more judicial ethics reform to ensure that everyday Americans and government agencies have a level playing field when they go into court against corporate interests."


'Jail Time Should Seriously Be Considered,' Pocan Says of Big Oil Price Fixing

As Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan appeared before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on Wednesday, Congressman Mark Pocan highlighted recent FTC action against fossil fuel industry price fixing and urged criminal consequences.

"I just did a little napkin math," Pocan (D-Wis.) said. If collusion led to a $0.40-0.60 increase in the price for a gallon of gas for a vehicle, "for the average person filling their tank, that's $8 or $10 a week," he explained. "That's $500 a year of added cost."

If half of the residents in Pocan's congressional district have a car, "that's $175 million a year," he said. If that figure is applied across all 435 districts, it translates to billions of dollars "that we're being gouged because of someone like this who's trying to price collude," he continued, referring to Scott Sheffield, the founder and longtime CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources.

The FTC earlier this month barred Sheffield from serving on the board of directors of or as an adviser to ExxonMobil, which just acquired Pioneer, due to his alleged collusion with the representatives of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and OPEC+.

While welcoming the FTC's move, Pocan noted that "if you commit theft, the average sentence... in the United States is 23 months" and the multibillion-dollar profit that fossil fuel giants make from price gouging "is more than grand larceny theft."

"What else can we do to these oil companies that are ripping us off?" the congressman asked Khan, an appointee of President Joe Biden with "a pro-working families record."

The FTC chair responded that "price fixing and output reduction in a coordinated way can be criminal violations of the antitrust laws. As enforcers we can't specifically speak to what we're referring and what we're not, but as a general matter, it's been a priority of mine to make sure we are referring more criminal candidates to the Justice Department, because we need to make sure companies and executives aren't just treating fines as a cost of doing business and that they take seriously the rule of law."

Referencing a television show that takes place in federal prison, Pocan told her that "I would recommend 'Orange Is the New Black,' if we need to, to make a point. It would be helpful because we're feeling it at the pumps and clearly this kind of behavior, we know, isn't isolated."

Sharing a video of his remarks on social media, Pocan declared: "Unacceptable! A slap on the wrist isn't enough. I think jail time should seriously be considered."

As the American Economic Liberties Project (AELP) pointed out, Pocan wasn't the only lawmaker to reference the recent price fixing revelations during the Wednesday hearing; he was joined by Reps. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.).

"Finally it's being noticed!" said AELP's Matt Stoller, who has written about the alleged collusion. "Dem House members get it!"

Stoller wasn't alone in welcoming the discussion in Congress—after days of limited attention on the issue among national figures.

"This illegal oil corporation price fixing conspiracy cost Americans as much as $2,100. Per year," saidMore Perfect Union, sharing a video of Pocan and citingThe American Prospect.

The Ohio AFL-CIO stressed: "Greedflation is not inflation. Pass it on."

Noting that Sheffield is getting a $68 million "golden parachute on his way out," former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich argued Wednesday: "That money (and more) should be refunded to the American people. Not sent to his bank account."

Groundwork Collaborative executive director Lindsay Owens similarly said last week that "the Department of Justice should criminally prosecute Scott Sheffield and Congress should tax back the industry's windfall profits and issue every American a refund."

Marijuana for sale is seen during festival in Bogota, Colombia

To End 'Failed Approach,' Biden DOJ Formally Moves to Reclassify Marijuana

As Democratic lawmakers push for the federal decriminalization of marijuana, U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday announced the Department of Justice was formalizing a proposal to remove the substance from Schedule I—the legal classification which for decades has placed marijuana in the same category as heroin.

The Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) proposal to reschedule marijuana under Schedule III—which would place it alongside substances like testosterone and steroids—was submitted as a Notice of Formal Rulemaking in the Federal Register, commencing a 60-day public comment period.

After the comment period and any public hearings that are requested by interested parties, the DEA is expected to issue a final order on reclassifying marijuana.

In a video message posted to social media, Biden called the step his administration has taken "monumental" and said marijuana's current classification suggests it is more dangerous than "fentanyl and methamphetamine—the two drugs driving America's overdose epidemic."

"That just doesn't add up," said the president. "Today's announcement builds on the work we've done to pardon a record number of federal offenses for simple possession of marijuana, and it adds to the action we've taken to lift barriers to housing, employment, small business loans, and so much more for tens of thousands of Americans."

"Far too many lives have been upended because of a failed approach to marijuana and I'm committed to righting those wrongs," added Biden.

With marijuana classified under Schedule III, the federal government would for the first time officially acknowledge the medical benefits of the substance, which is approved for medical use in 43 U.S. states and territories as well as the District of Columbia.

Federal scientists will be able to research the medical benefits of the drug for the first time since 1971, when the Controlled Substances Act placed marijuana under Schedule I.

The new classification could also eliminate tax burdens for legal cannabis businesses.

Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said Biden's decision "validates the experiences of tens of millions of Americans, as well as tens of thousands of physicians, who have long recognized that cannabis possesses legitimate medical utility."

"As a first step forward, this policy change dramatically shifts the political debate surrounding cannabis," Armentano added. "Specifically, it delegitimizes many of the tropes historically exploited by opponents of marijuana policy reform. Claims that cannabis poses unique harms to health, or that it's not useful for treating chronic pain and other ailments, have now been rejected by the very federal agencies that formerly perpetuated them. Going forward, these specious allegations should be absent from any serious conversations surrounding cannabis and how to best regulate its use."

Biden's announcement came a week after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was joined by 17 other Democratic senators in reintroducing S. 4226, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), which would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and allow states to regulate the substance.

Schumer applauded the White House for "recognizing that draconian cannabis laws need to change to catch up to science and the majority of Americans," but said marijuana must now be decriminalized at the federal level.

"The proposed change fails to harmonize federal marijuana policy with the cannabis laws of most U.S. states," said Armentano, "particularly the 24 states that have legalized its use and sale to adults."

'Enough Is Enough': South Africa Urges ICJ to Halt Israeli Assault on Rafah

'Enough Is Enough': South Africa Urges ICJ to Halt Israeli Assault on Rafah

South African officials on Thursday made their case before the International Court of Justice to stop Israel's brutal invasion of Rafah, warning once again that Israeli officials have displayed clear "genocidal intent" and "genocidal conduct" in their military campaign in Gaza.

The case for the ICJ to stop the attack on Rafah was made by a number of lawyers, legal experts, and ambassadors, with the South African representatives outlining the bare facts of Israel's military campaign, blocking of humanitarian aid, and statements of intent, just as they did when the court heard South Africa's original claim that Israel is committing genocide.

That case, argued in January, resulted in a preliminary ruling in which the court said South Africa had made a "plausible" case and ordered Israel to prevent genocidal acts by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

On Thursday, South Africa urged the ICJ to see that Israel has not followed that order.

"It is difficult to imagine that the situation could get worse" than it was in January, international law professor John Dugard told the court. "But unfortunately, it has... Israel has now commenced its long-threatened assault on Rafah. It has ordered the evacuation of Palestinians in Rafah to the barren sand dunes of Al-Mawasi. It has closed critical border crossings to humanitarian aid, medical supplies, goods, and fuel, upon which the population depends."

"Israel's actions are in violation of fundamental international humanitarian law, but in addition, they provide evidence of the crime of genocide," Dugard continued. "This attack is the final blow that is intended to destroy the Palestinian group in Gaza."

Watch the livestream of the ICJ hearing below:

The South Africans made their case as the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said Thursday that an estimated 600,000 people have now been forcibly displaced from Rafah by Israel.

Despite tepid warnings from the U.S.—the biggest international funder of the IDF—for Israel to avoid attacking "population centers," the IDF this week has moved into dense residential neighborhoods in central Rafah.

The U.S. has also called for Israel to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, but the IDF's seizure of the Rafah crossing between the enclave and Egypt last week led the World Food Program (WFP) on Thursday to warn that food and fuel rations "will run out in a matter of days." Dozens of Palestinians have been starved to death so far by Israel's blocking of relief shipments.

"The threat of famine in Gaza never loomed larger," said the WFP as South Africa made its case in The Hague.

Three months after giving a 22-minute speech detailing the numerous statements of genocidal intent made by top Israeli officials since the Gaza assault began in October, South African lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi during Thursday's hearing, used the more recent words of Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who publicly described the aim of the Rafah invasion as "total annihilation."

In his presentation before the court, Ngcukaitobi invoked Smotrich's language by arguing that the Rafah incursion "is the last stage of 'total annihilation' of Palestinian life."

"For Palestinians to be able to continue to exist as a protected group under the Genocide Convention, they need a place from which to rebuild," he continued. "Rafah is that place, the last stand... Without Rafah, the possibility to rebuild will be lost forever."

In her speech, Irish lawyer Blinne Ni Ghralaigh outlined other developments in Gaza since the ICJ issued its preliminary ruling that illustrate the need for the court's "invaluable intervention."

Ni Ghralaigh detailed the destruction of hospitals like Al-Shifa, where mass graves have been found with the remains of women, children, and medical workers, and warned that "the same fate now awaits Rafah's remaining hospitals, doctors, and medics."

She also pointed to evidence that the IDF is treating evacuated areas as "extermination zones," where soldiers are ordered to kill any remaining people, and its use of an error-prone AI system to target Palestinians.

The South African legal team said the court must order Israel "to immediately take all effective measures to ensure the access of persons able to investigate ongoing atrocities," and called on the ICJ to "at least modify its provisional measures" from March, when it demanded that Israel allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.

"The court has the power to modify or make an explicit order for Israel to cease its military operations in Rafah, Gaza, and to withdraw from the Gaza Strip," said Ni Ghralaigh, pointing out that the provisional measure from March could only take full effect if a cease-fire agreement was reached.

"No such resolution is in place. The court must itself, therefore, create the circumstances necessary for its provisional measures to take full effect. It must order Israel to cease its military operations system finally," she said. "Enough is enough."

Israel is expected to address the ICJ at a second day of hearings on Friday.