The White House justified its killing of Iranian General Qassem Suleimani by claiming he’d been preparing “imminent” attacks against American diplomats in the region. But officials in the Trump administration couldn’t define what comprised these threats—Mike Pompeo’s vague assurances on Fox News suggests Suleimani did not presently threaten American lives. Mother Jones covers reports from critics suggesting President Trump ordered the killing to appease U.S. Republican senators in the midst of his impeachment battle.

Fair Observer analyzes U.S. military presence in the Middle East. After the Trump administration killed Iran’s Quds Force commander, General Qassem Suleimani, Iraq’s council of representatives called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces, and Iran retaliated with a deathless bombing of two U.S. bases. By minimizing continued response, Iran could achieve its major goal of seeing U.S. military departure from Iraq. But the Trump administration has continued expanding its presence in the Middle East, most recently to deter Iranian military response. And Trump’s withdrawal of troops from Syria last year was criticized and reversed to maintain military presence and protect Syrian oilfields. U.S. departure from the Middle East may be utopian.

The New York Times and Washington Post have offered limited pushback against President Trump’s killing of Iranian general Qassem Suleimani; FAIR responds to the three dozen articles following the assassination. While the Times suggested few people would resent his death, millions attended his funeral, and two-thirds of Iranians rated him very favorably in a 2018 poll. The “hundreds of American” deaths both papers attributed to Suleimani were caused during the Iraq war by improvised explosive devices supposedly manufactured in Iran. But the Pentagon gave no evidence and dubious reasoning concerning the origin of the IEDs. Both papers nitpicked protocol around the decision to kill and made quickly disproven predictions. One such prediction was that Suleimani had come to Iraq to plot against the United States—but he’d come for regional peace talks, for which Trump had approved his presence.

Australia’s bushfires have scorched millions of acres of land, wrecked hundreds of homes, and killed over a billion animals and 27 people. In response, tens of thousands of people across Australia rallied last Friday to protest their government’s inaction on the climate crisis. Escalating with the fires’ intensity, pressure on Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his coalition government too has increased under the slogan “Sack ScoMo.” Common Dreams shares protesters’ perspectives.

“They,” the singular gender-neutral pronoun, is the American Dialect Society’s word of the decade and Myriam-Webster’s word of the year, Columbia Journalism Review reports. The singular, nonbinary “they” has been used colloquially for hundreds of years, and Miriam-Webster solidified its increased usage by adding the meaning to its dictionary in September. ADS named “(my) pronouns” its word of the year, demonstrating the widened acceptance of gender identity discourse, as frequently seen on college campuses and social media. Other top ADS selections include, somewhat hilariously, scornful dismissal: “ok boomer,” “cancel,” and “Karen.” named “existential” its word of the year for its prominence in discussions of climate crisis, gun violence, and democratic institutions. Oxford Dictionaries selected “climate emergency.”

A New York federal appeals court recently ruled to continue a temporary block on the Trump administration’s change to the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds immigration policy. The public charge policy currently states that prospective permanent residents must prove they won’t become burdens to the United States, and Trump’s U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services wants to expand the definition of public charge to assess whether individuals could someday become burdens. Colorlines reports Immigrants who have been approved for any public benefit would be subject to this new rule; that amounts to about 382,000 of 544,000 green card applicants.

The Center for Public Integrity requested that the Trump administration disclose key communications between the White House and Pentagon concerning the president’s summertime interruption of military aid to Ukraine. The Justice Department denied this request, promising to defend its censorship in court proceedings that are part of Public Integrity’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Trump administration. The censored passages are from emails the administration previously released to Public Integrity. Central to Trump’s impeachment trial is the president’s alleged delay of military aid pending Ukraine’s investigation of political rival Joe Biden.

The Trump administration didn’t invent policies that redistribute wealth to the top, but it has expanded them to workers’ detriment, as Dissent covers. Income inequality has continued to widen; since 1980, income of the bottom 50% has grown only 25%, whereas that of the top .01% has spiked almost six-fold. The Trump administration has dismantled social assistance and insurance for the needy, including targeting the Affordable Care Act. The 2017 tax cut saw $205 billion of about $325 billion benefiting the richest 20% and under $40 billion the poorest 60% of taxpayers. However, Democrats haven’t offered viable alternatives outside of campaign season, and state and local policy choices drive much inequality. The U.S. needs robust labor standards, public goods, social policies, and civil rights protections to combat inequality.

Alan MacLeod with the tweet of the week:

President Trump’s proposed changes to implementation rules for the National Environmental Policy Act would limit environmental reviews of pipelines and other major infrastructure projects—this advances his agenda for fossil fuel development. The NEPA changes would limit federal agencies to considering climate impacts that are immediate, local, and direct, without regard for cumulative environmental concerns, reports InsideClimate News. Trump’s narrative of bureaucracy slowing most projects is at odds with data; 95% of actions subject to NEPA are exempt from detailed environmental review, and those remaining pose enough of an environmental threat to warrant scrutiny. Trump’s proposed NEPA changes follow the annual National Preparedness Report, which, for the first time in eight years, fails to mention climate change.


1. Trump shares disturbing Iran tweets, and claims impeachment articles should be ‘dismissed outright’ (The Independent)

2. Mitch McConnell Is Trying His Best to Kill Any Interest in the Trial Ahead (The Atlantic)

3. Oscar Nominations Snub Jennifer Lopez, Female Directors And ‘The Farewell’ (HuffPost)

4. Iran air disaster: A family lost (BBC)

5. Ocean temperatures hit record high as rate of heating accelerates (The Guardian)