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Bobblehead Trump in a box from China at his Las Vegas rally.
Further

Bobbleheads 'R Us: Not A Rapist, Thief, Grifter, Liar, Bully and Complete Ignoramus

In discomfiting news for those still inhabiting Planet Earth, we are now through the looking-glass into a place where reality is so weird fantasy seems more plausible and it's tough to distinguish one from t'other. In Las Vegas, the "felonious stupidity magnet" blathered gibberish - sharks, boats, MIT, "Hispanicans" - more unhinged than a fake GOP leader's "soliloquy of sycophancy" who lists all "Your Majesty's" transgressions to insist he doesn't believe any of them and he'd "let my wife have your children."

Exhibiting what Eugene Robinson delicately terms "a mind that is, evidently, unwell," Trump offered up "a grim smorgasbord" of lies, threats, dark fantasies and other "verbal incontinence" to a MAGA crowd in swing-state Nevada baking in 110-degreet heat likely too dumb to notice him crowing, "I don't want anybody going on me...I don't care about you. I just want your vote." Empathy thy name is: He also whined nobody worries about him though he's up there "sweating like a dog." Nice. After Klan Mom shrieked, "The man I worship was also a convicted felon, and he was murdered on a Roman cross," Trump took on the vital issues of the day, mostly sharks and sinking boats, in a deluge of "insane stupid shit" like any other guy you'd cross the street to avoid. Jack Smith is "a dumb son of a bitch," when he's elected "we're gonna do a lot of things - we're gonna look very strongly at J6 hostages," migrants are "totally destroying our black population, destroying our Hispanicans (and) you say to yourself, 'Who are these people destroying our country?'...We’re not going to have men playing in women's sports. We’re not doing it."

He also disputed his well-documented claim veterans are "suckers and losers" - "Someone would have to be psycho or a very stupid person...Who would say that anyway?" - before launching into a compulsive, familiar, deeply baffling spiel from his "Divinity of the Sacred Juniper, which is 100% based in reality," about sharks. There's been "a lot of sharks" lately, he declared, and they "bit off the young lady's leg and these guys were trying to justify it because of the fact that they were they were not hungry, but they misunderstood what, who she was," and he had a good if "monumentally fucking stupid" question "nobody ever asked (which) must be because of MIT, my relationship to MIT, very smart," about "what would happen if the boat sank from its weight, and the battery is underwater "and there's a shark 10 yards away...Do I stay on the boat and get electrocuted, or do I jump over by the shark?" It turns out he'd "take electrocution every single time" for 34 felony counts, Alex - and damn we'd definitely be here for it - because, "Really, he's just a raving lunatic at this point."

Still, his faithful peeps would follow his delirious lead. Having passed through the looking glass - the "DRINK ME" bottle, "EAT ME" cake, Jabberwocky poetry and chessmen come to life - they've entered a murky dystopia where logic is suspended and dark lies are truths: the election was "stolen," the government is "corrupt," villainous migrants are "invading" the country, Democrats or others outside the toxic MAGA bubble are "fascists," everything - courts, votes, media, the very government a grifting felon seeks to run again even more incompetently and vindictively than he did before - is "rigged," with their weak, sick, tinpot madman the only hope to "save" America. Cue the hilarious parody that arguably belongs in the Twitter Hall of Fame. The craziest thing about watching the supposed GOP chair in Grand Rapids, MI. who just ingested too much helium, with a witless Trump nodding along, effusively chronicle the countless crimes, lies, sins, scandals and legal or moral offenses his hero committed - of which, he avows each time, "I just don't believe it for one sec" - is how long it takes to realize it's not real.

"Thank you, Mr. President Trump, Your Majesty," he gushes before citing all the "truths" he believes: the election was stolen, you didn't commit tax fraud, you didn't embezzle or scam millions or cheat on your wife with a porn star or pay her hush money or assault a woman in a dressing room or sexually harass over 25 women or create false slates of electors to steal the election or steal classified documents or extort Ukraine for help from Russia or let a pandemic spiral out of control or orchestrate a violent coup to install yourself as an unelected dictator or spew conspiracies about windmills or take millions from foreign governments. "I believe President Trump when he says he's not a rapist, he's not a thief, he's not a grifter, a liar, a philanderer, a narcissist, a glutton, a bully, and a complete ignoramus," he asserts. Also, "I don't believe he cheats at golf." He thanks Trump "for being a good Christian leader dedicated to truth and justice for all," and don't forget he'll happily "let my wife have your children" to, you know, make America great again. John Kelly: "God help us."

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climate protestors holding banners
News

Dozens Arrested as Activists Target Citigroup for Bankrolling Climate Breakdown

To kick off a season of climate activism, Summer of Heat campaigners on Monday morning blockaded the entrances to Citigroup's headquarters in New York City to protest the bank's role in perpetuating climate breakdown.

The campaigners locked arms and held banners at the doors to the Citigroup offices, blocking hundreds of employees from entering, according to social media posts by Climate Defenders, one of the organizations behind the Summer of Heat. They are targeting Citigroup, owner of Citibank, because the conglomerate financed more fossil fuel expansion than any bank in the world in the eight years after the 2015 Paris agreement was signed. Monday is the first day of a series of nonviolent direct actions the organizations have planned under the Summer of Heat banner.

"The atmosphere is electric as hundreds gather to shut down Citibank's Global HQ," Climate Defenders announced on social media. "We are here to demand a future free from fossil fuels."

"Big banks like Citi must stop financing fossil fuels and funding climate chaos!" Stop the Money Pipeline, one of the other convening organizations, wrote on social media.

Police have begun arresting some of the activists, video and social media posts from Climate Defenders and other organizations show. Renata Pumarol, deputy director of Climate Defenders, told Common Dreams that dozens had already been arrested by 10:50 am ET on Monday, but didn't yet have an exact figure.

The arrests were expected and didn't dampen morale among the protesters.

"Arrests are happening now!" Stop the Money Pipeline announced on social media. "Our message is clear: If you keep funding the fossil fuel companies that are disrupting our climate and lives, we will disrupt your ability to do business."

"Citibank is the largest investor in expanding fossil fuels," a protestor wearing a lab coat with a Scientist Rebellion badge said as he was being arrested by police. "It is a crime. It is a crime against the planet."

In support of the action, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) on Monday published an open letter to Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser calling for the bank to stop funding new fossil fuel projects.

"The financial industry must recognize the physical harms and economic risks it is exacerbating by enabling fossil fuel expansion, and rapidly adopt new policies that align with a safer climate future," the letter states.

UCS plans to hand deliver the message on Wednesday at a "Scientists Speakout" Summer of Heat event outside the Citigroup headquarters, its statement said. That's just one of many upcoming events that organizers have planned.

"All summer long, we're going to be shutting down and blockading the headquarters of Citigroup and other banks financing new coal, oil, and gas projects," Alec Connon, co-director of Stop the Money Pipeline, told Common Dreams. "We're calling on New Yorkers and people from all over the country and work to join us. The time to hold Wall Street accountable for its role in the climate crisis is now."

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren
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Dems Call for Immediate Rate Cuts as Fed Policy Worsens US Housing Crisis

Democrats in Congress urged the U.S. Federal Reserve on Monday to begin cutting interest rates immediately, warning that the central bank's restrictive monetary policy is worsening the nation's housing crisis and threatening to derail a strong streak of job growth.

In a letter to Fed Chair Jerome Powell ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee's (FOMC) two-day policy meeting that begins Tuesday, a trio of Democratic senators led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote that the central bank's 11 rate hikes since March 2022 are "having the opposite of [their] intended effect" by "driving up housing and auto insurance costs, which are currently the main drivers of the overall inflation rate."

"The country is already facing a severe housing shortage, and the Fed's refusal to bring down interest rates is exacerbating this shortage and driving higher inflation rate," the senators wrote. "Lower mortgage rates would encourage more people to sell their homes, which would in turn increase housing supply, decrease prices, ease the costs of renting, and ultimately increase homeownership."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) echoed their colleagues in a separate letter to Powell on Monday, writing that elevated interest rates "exacerbate" the nation's housing supply crisis by "increasing the costs to develop new housing while discouraging existing homeowners from upgrading to larger homes—shrinking the supply of starter homes available to the next generation of homebuyers."

"Keeping rates higher for longer will do nothing to solve the housing crisis," added Whitehouse and Boyle, respectively the chair of the Senate Budget Committee and the ranking member of the House Budget Committee.

The two lawmakers also expressed concern that "excessively tight monetary policy may jeopardize the strong job market that the U.S. has enjoyed over the last several years."

"The U.S. economy has achieved an apparent soft landing with inflation falling sharply and continued steady job growth," Whitehouse and Boyle wrote. "Lowering rates now will ensure that we do not cause unnecessary and harmful economic damage."

Powell, first appointed to his post by former President Donald Trump and renominated by President Joe Biden in 2021, has explicitly said the Fed is targeting the U.S. labor market—specifically workers' wages—as part of its effort to bring inflation back down to its arbitrary 2% target.

While wage growth has slowed substantially, May marked the 40th consecutive month of U.S. job growth and the labor market has remained strong in the face of Fed rate hikes, which progressives have criticized as the wrong tool to rein in price increases fueled largely by pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and rampant corporate profiteering.

Economists expect the Fed to begin cutting rates this year, but the minutes of last month's FOMC meeting suggested that Fed officials support keeping interest rates elevated for a longer period than expected.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post last week, Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi and Parrott Ryan Advisors co-owner Jim Parrott argued that approach could be disastrous.

"The economy has weathered the Fed's higher-for-longer strategy admirably well, but there is a mounting threat that the ongoing pressure will expose fault lines in the financial system," Zandi and Parrott wrote. "As last year's banking crisis showed, the relentless strain of high rates can cause parts of the financial system to buckle in ways that are difficult to predict and control."

"The job market also appears increasingly fragile, as businesses have pulled back on hiring, cut employees' hours and are using fewer temp workers. They have been loath to lay off workers, but that could quickly give way under the increasingly heavy weight of high interest rates," they added. "There is no reason to take these risks for the sake of hitting a flawed inflation target. Better for the Fed to recognize its hard-fought win against inflation and begin, finally, to cut interest rates."

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Donald Trump and Mike Johnson
News

GOP 'Salivating' to Ram Through Another Corporate Tax Giveaway If Trump Wins

The crowning legislative achievement of Donald Trump's first term in the White House was the passage of an unpopular tax bill that gave big corporations a massive windfall, disproportionately rewarded wealthy individuals despite being pitched as a boon for workers, and contributed trillions to the national debt.

With Trump running for another four years in power this November, Republicans are gearing up for a repeat.

The Washington Postreported Monday that "Republicans in Congress are preparing to not just extend former President Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts if they win control of Washington in November's elections, but also lower rates even more for corporations."

"Now GOP lawmakers and some of Trump's economic advisers are considering more corporate tax breaks—whichcould expand the national debt by roughly $1 trillion over the next decade, according to researchers at Stanford University and MIT," the Post added.

The report on Republicans' plans comes a month after the Congressional Budget Office estimated that extending provisions of the 2017 tax cut law that are set to expire next year would add $4.6 trillion to the U.S. deficit.

"GOP is salivating at more handout tax cuts to their corporate bosses and billionaires that will balloon the debt," Rep. Chris Deluzio (D-Pa.) wrote on social media Monday. "Fiscal irresponsibility by the guys bought and paid for by huge corporations."

During his 2020 campaign against Trump, President Joe Biden pledged to "get rid of the bulk of" the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), but he and his party have thus far failed to do so.

Slashing corporate taxes even further than the 2017 law—which cut the business rate from 35% to 21%—would reward many of the same corporations that have pushed up prices for consumers in recent years in a shameless attempt to pad their bottom lines. A recent analysis by the Groundwork Collaborative found that between April and September of last year, corporate profits drove more than half of U.S. inflation.

"Big corporations raised prices higher and faster than inflation, squeezing working families to rake in record profits," Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) wrote on social media in response to the Post's reporting. "So what's the GOP's plan? Even more corporate tax cuts and another $1 trillion to the debt. You can't make this stuff up."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) similarly criticized the GOP's plan to reward the corporations that have pushed costs onto consumers to boost their profit margins.

"The same corporations that have been price-gouging the American consumer at the grocery store, at the gas pump, and everywhere else are now spending their money loading up these Republican political action committees with the plan that the Republicans will deliver even more tax cuts," Warren told the Post on Monday. "It's obscene."

"Wealthy shareholders and executives got windfalls, workers got nothing."

Many of the country's largest, most profitable corporations already pay a tax rate that's significantly lower than the current statutory rate of 21%—if they pay any federal taxes at all.

A recent analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that the nearly 300 companies in the Fortune 500 and S&P 500 that were consistently profitable between 2013 and 2021 saw their average effective tax rate fall from 22% to 12.8% under the Trump tax law, even as their bottom lines grew.

"The number of these corporations paying tax rates of less than 10% increased from 56 to 95 after the Trump tax law went into effect," ITEP observed.

Chuck Marr, vice president of federal tax policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, wrote in response to the Post story that "the 2017 tax law's centerpiece cut in the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% was a complete policy failure."

"Wealthy shareholders and executives got windfalls, workers got nothing," Marr wrote, pointing to research showing that "workers below the 90th percentile of their firm's income scale—a group whose incomes were below roughly $114,000 in 2016—saw 'no change in earnings' from the rate cut" while executives saw a major boost.

Trump, who was convicted last month on 34 felony charges stemming from the falsification of business records, has not been shy about his intention to protect the wealthy and large corporations from paying their fair share in taxes.

Speaking to his rich donors at the home of billionaire hedge fund investor John Paulson in April, the former president emphasized that he would make "extending the Trump tax cuts" a top priority should he defeat Biden in November.

Andrew Bates, the Biden White House's senior deputy press secretary, noted in a memo released Monday that while Trump and his Republican allies "go to bat for the multinational corporations engaged in price gouging, they plan to slash Medicare and Social Security."

"Today's Washington Post story makes it impossible to ignore the enormous contrast between President Biden's agenda to rebuild the middle class and MAGAnomics," Bates wrote. "Republican officials who back MAGAnomics stand up for price gouging, tax giveaways for the rich, and across-the-board tariffs that would all raise prices, and they'd sell the middle class out with a skyrocketing deficit and cuts to Medicare and Social Security."

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Samuel Alito
News

Caught on Tape, Alito Exposed as 'Crusader for Christian Nationalism'

Judicial reform advocates on Monday demanded that the U.S. Senate take decisive action to hold Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito accountable for his clear display of bias and conflicts of interest, after a documentary filmmaker released audio clips she had recorded of the justice discussing ideological battles in the U.S. he said "can't be compromised."

Shared exclusively with Rolling Stone, tapes recorded by filmmaker Lauren Windsor at the Supreme Court Historical Society's annual dinner on June 3 include comments from Alito about the need to return the country to "a place of godliness" and suggesting that he sympathizes with right-wing activists who believe they can't "negotiate with the left."

Windsor attended the annual dinner, which is frequented by right-wing activists who are able to interact with the justices at the event, using her real name and as a dues-paying member of the society, which costs $150 per year to join. The liberal filmmaker asked questions of Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts "as though she were a religious conservative," Rolling Stone reported.

Alito replied, "I agree with you," when Windsor said people who are conservative Christians need "to return our country to a place of godliness." He said Windsor was "probably right" when she said, "I don't know that we can negotiate with the left in the way that needs to happen for the polarization to end. I think that it's a matter of, like, winning."

"One side or the other is going to win," agreed the justice. "I mean, there can be a way of working—a way of living together peacefully, but it's difficult, you know, because there are differences on fundamental things that really can't be compromised. It's not like you can split the difference."

In her response, Sarah Lipton-Lubet, president for the Take Back the Court Action Fund, referred to the display of an upside-down American flag at Alito's house in early 2021—which the justice said was an action taken solely by his wife.

"Justice Alito can hardly blame his wife this time," said Lipton-Lubet. "In case it wasn't glaringly obvious to anyone paying attention, Alito is now on tape declaring himself a political crusader for Christian nationalism."

Progressives including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have demanded in recent weeks that the Senate Judiciary Committee open a formal investigation into the display of the upside-down flag and another flag that read, "Appeal to Heaven"—both symbols that have been embraced by the "Stop the Steal" movement that's baselessly claimed President Joe Biden's 2020 election victory was "stolen" from former President Donald Trump.

Advocates have said the Alito family's embrace of the symbols is grounds for Alito's recusal from cases involving the 2020 election and Trump, and Judiciary Committee leaders last month called on Roberts to back the demand—but Alito wrote to the Senate and the House on May 29, saying he would not recuse.

Alito has also been rebuked by progressives following reporting by ProPublica last year that showed he and fellow right-wing Justice Clarence Thomas both accepted luxury travel and other gifts from conservative groups and operatives who had business before the court.

Now that Alito has been heard aligning himself with right-wing zealots who aim to "return" the U.S. to "godliness," Lipton-Lubet said, Democratic leaders must take further action against the justice.

"If the sheer brazenness of his comments doesn't spur Democratic senators to do something besides jot off a sternly worded letter, it's hard to imagine what will," she said.

As the story broke on Monday, more than 60 civil society groups joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights wrote to the Judiciary Committee, reiterating the need for an urgent investigation into Alito's various ties to right-wing groups and interests.

"Given Justice Alito's dismissive and combative response and his refusal to recuse, as well as Justice Thomas' ongoing ethics failures, further action is needed to protect our democracy, prevent future violations of this nature, and restore public confidence in the judiciary," the groups wrote. "These abuses of power, left unchecked, have already become more frequent and more severe, further corroding the public's faith in our judicial system and weakening our democracy."

The Leadership Conference said the new reporting "further demonstrates the need for action."

"These patterns of behavior raise serious questions about the impartiality and integrity of our nation’s most powerful court and the justices who make decisions impacting our civil and human rights," the group said.

At Rolling Stone, Tessa Stuart and Tim Dickinson wrote that "the justice's unguarded comments highlight the degree to which Alito makes little effort to present himself as a neutral umpire calling judicial balls and strikes, but rather as a partisan member of a hard-right judicial faction that's empowered to make life-altering decisions for every American."

The recent revelations about Alito come as the court is expected to soon rule on whether Trump has immunity from criminal prosecution regarding his federal election interference case; a case regarding whether defendants who face charges related to the January 6, 2021 attempted insurrection can be charged with obstruction; and a case regarding the potential restriction on use of mifepristone, a medication used for abortions.

Windsor told Rolling Stone that the court's secret proceedings in cases that affect the rights of Americans drove her to go undercover at the annual dinner last week.

"Because the Supreme Court is shrouded in secrecy," she said, "and they're refusing to submit to any accountability in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious ethics breaches, I think that it's justified to take these types of measures."

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man pushing bicycle in the distance, amid rubble
News

'Horrific': Israel's War on Gaza Also Destroying the Climate, Study Finds

In addition to its death toll, Israel's war in Gaza comes at great cost to the climate, mainly because of the emissions that will be required to reconstruct tens of thousands of buildings there, a study published Thursday shows.

The study looked at the first four months of the war, during which time the authors estimated that some 156,000 to 200,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged in the Gaza Strip. The resulting climate costs were greater than the annual emissions of each of the world's 135 lowest-emitting countries, the study, a preprint that was posted to SSRN and is currently under peer review, shows.

"While the world's attention is rightly focused on the humanitarian catastrophe, the climate consequences of this conflict are also catastrophic," Ben Neimark, a co-author and lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, toldThe Guardian.

Though the vast majority of the estimated climate cost comes from the future rebuild, the study authors also looked at the immediate climate emissions from wartime activities, most of which came from flights by Israeli fighter jets and U.S. cargo planes that supplied weapons, fuel, and other supplies. There were 244 round-trip cargo flights from the U.S. to Israel during the four-month study period.

Experts not affiliated with the study, which was an update on earlier work, responded by expressing outrage at the multiple layers of Western complicity in the Gaza onslaught.

"Quite apart from the unspeakable destruction in Gaza and across Palestine, this report lays bare the hypocrisy of Western nations who moralize about the perils of climate breakdown and the responsibility of every nation to protect the planet—all the while funding, aiding, and enabling the Israeli regime's catastrophic war and its implications for those affected by ongoing and future climate change," Zena Agha, a Palestinian-Iraqi policy analyst at Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, a think tank, told the paper.

Patrick Bigger, a study co-author and research director at the Climate and Community Project, has separately called for a cease-fire and an end to apartheid in Palestine, arguing that the "climate crisis in Palestine cannot be detached from the Israeli occupation."

The people of Gaza, who prior to the war used solar panels to an exceptional degree, are themselves particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, authorities there say.

The biggest threat to Palestinians before the war was the climate crisis, Hadeel Ikhmais, head of the climate change office at the Palestinian Environmental Quality Authority, told The Guardian, referring to rising sea levels, extreme heat, and increased occurrences of flooding and drought.

"As long as this war continues, the implications will be exacerbated with horrific consequences on emissions, climate change, and hindering climate action in Gaza," he said.

The environmental impacts of the war go well beyond the contribution to climate change coming from new emissions. "Gaza's water, soil, and air have been devastated," Al Jazeerareported earlier in the war.

In its assault on Gaza, the Israeli military had by March destroyed more than 2,000 agricultural sites, including 40% of all used farmland, according to research by Forensic Architecture, a London-based research group, which called the destruction a "deliberate act of ecocide." Humanitarian groups have suggested that the destruction is deliberate and that starvation is being used as a "weapon of war," as Human Rights Watch has repeatedly argued.

The new study, full of "conservative" estimates, likely underestimates the climate impact of the war, as many factors could not be precisely accounted for, especially given military secrecy regarding emissions. Globally, military emissions account for roughly 5.5% of total emissions, according to a recent report, but are not required to be reported to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

However, new findings released by a U.N. agency on Monday indicate that the new study may have slightly overestimated the number of destroyed buildings in Gaza. About 137,000 buildings had been damaged, destroyed, or possibly destroyed by May 3, the United Nations Satellite Center concluded—which, though a bit less than the new estimate, is still more than half of the buildings in Gaza, by the agency's estimate.

Regardless of the exact figures, legal experts have accused Israel of "domicide"—"the mass destruction of dwellings to make the territory uninhabitable," as defined by an editor at The Guardian.

The continuing war, coupled with climate-related extreme weather events, could jeopardize Palestinian rights still further, experts said.

"One of the serious consequences of the war in Gaza has been the massive violation of the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment… which represent a serious risk to life and the enjoyment of all other rights," Astrid Puentes, the U.N.'s special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, told The Guardian. "The region is already experiencing serious climate impacts that could get even worse."

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the comparison between the climate costs in Gaza and the annual emissions of the world's 135 lowest-emitting nations. That error has been corrected. The article has also been updated to clarify SSRN’s role as a repository of preprints.
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