Category Archives: Governance

Charts of the day: Support for DAPL steadily falls


Two charts from a new report from the Pew Research Center reveal that public support for the Dakota Access Pipeline has fallen steadily and where the divisions lie.

First, a look at how support has fallen over time:

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And, second, a closer look at where the dividing lines are drawn, with supporters drawn heavily from the ranks of old, white, Republican men:

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More form the report:

Americans are divided over whether to build the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines – issues that returned to the forefront after President Donald Trump signed executive orders to move forward on their construction.

The Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines have become touchstones in the debate over energy and the environment. While parts of the larger Keystone pipeline have already been completed, the Dakota Access pipeline is in earlier stages of development.

About four-in-ten (42%) favor building the Keystone XL pipeline, while 48% are opposed, according to a national Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 7-12, 2017, among 1,503 U.S. adults. The pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada’s oil sands region through the Midwest to refineries on the Gulf Coast, had been blocked by the Obama administration over environmental concerns.

Support for Keystone XL has fallen since 2014, largely because of a sharp decline among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents. The share of the overall public favoring the pipeline has fallen 17 percentage points since 2014 (from 59% to 42%). Just 17% of Democrats favor building the pipeline, less than half the share that did so three years ago (44%).

Emails confirm new EPA chief a tool of the Kochs


Why are we not surprised?

From the New York Times:

During his tenure as attorney general of Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt, now the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, closely coordinated with major oil and gas producers, electric utilities and political groups with ties to the libertarian billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch to roll back environmental regulations, according to over 6,000 pages of emails made public on Wednesday.

The publication of the correspondence comes just days after Mr. Pruitt was sworn in to run the E.P.A., which is charged with reining in pollution and regulating public health.

“Thank you to your respective bosses and all they are doing to push back against President Obama’s EPA and its axis with liberal environmental groups to increase energy costs for Oklahomans and American families across the states,” said one email sent to Mr. Pruitt and an Oklahoma congressman in August 2013 by Matt Ball, an executive at Americans for Prosperity. That nonprofit group is funded in part by the Kochs, the Kansas business executives who spent much of the last decade combating federal regulations, particularly in the energy sector. “You both work for true champions of freedom and liberty!” the note said.

Mr. Pruitt has been among the most contentious of President Trump’s cabinet nominees. Environmental groups, Democrats in Congress and even current E.P.A. employees have protested his ties to energy companies, his efforts to block and weaken major environmental rules, and his skepticism of the central mission of the federal agency he now leads.

A tools of the plutocracy

The documents, though redacted, make clear that Pruitt serves not the interests of the citizens he has sworn to serve but the billionaire patrons who have greased the skids for his political career.

More from the Center for Media and Democracy, the organization which battled for and won release of the documents, which are posted at the link:

As a result of an Open Records Act request and lawsuit filed by the Center for Media and Democracy, on Tuesday night the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office released a batch of more than 7,500 pages of emails and other records it withheld prior to Scott Pruitt’s nomination as EPA Administrator last Friday.

The AG’s office has withheld an undetermined number of additional documents as exempted or privileged and submitted them to the Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons for review. A number of other documents were redacted, and CMD will be asking for the court to review those as well. On February 27, the AG’s office has been ordered to deliver records related to five outstanding requests by CMD.

“Despite repeated attempts by Pruitt and the Oklahoma AG’s office to stonewall CMD and the public, we’ve won a major breakthrough in obtaining access to public records that shine a light on Pruitt’s emails with polluters and their proxies,” said Nick Surgey, research director at the Center for Media and Democracy. “The newly released emails reveal a close and friendly relationship between Scott Pruitt’s office and the fossil fuel industry, with frequent meetings, calls, dinners and other events. And our work doesn’t stop here – we will keep fighting until all of the public records involving Pruitt’s dealings with energy corporations are released – both those for which his office is now asserting some sort of privilege against public disclosure and the documents relevant to our eight other Open Records Act requests.”

“There is no valid legal justification for the emails we received last night not being released prior to Pruitt’s confirmation vote other than to evade public scrutiny,” said Arn Pearson, general counsel for CMD. “There are hundreds of emails between the AG’s office, Devon Energy, and other polluters that Senators should have been permitted to review prior to their vote to assess Pruitt’s ties to the fossil fuel industry.”

Among the documents released late yesterday, CMD has found:

Continue reading

Spicer erupts in Holocaust Day TrumpUmbrage™


President Pussygrabber grabbed a lot of attention when he omitted any mention of Hitler’s genocide in his statement issued to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Now we’ve criticized Israel for using Hitler’s mass murder of Jews as a Get Out of Jail Free card whenever justly criticized for lang grabs and bloody “incursions” across borders.

We’ve also faulted media and pundits for ignoring the genocides of Roma and Sinti peoples, homosexuals, and others, and for failing to consider other genocides, including those of Native Americans and Armenians.

But no Holocaust Remembrance Day remarks should fail to mention that awful event that sparked the creation of the day.

Omission of the mention of Hitler’s genocide did draw praise from one quarter, earnng high marks from the Daily Stormer, the neo-Nazi webasite that now bills itself  “The World’s Most Goal-Oriented Republican Website.”

The paper’s name is the translation of Der Stürmer, the pornographic racist rag run by whip-toting bloodthirsty Hitler henchman Julius Streicher.

This is the first time in history the President of the United States has made no mention of Jews, anti-Semitism, or the science fiction Zionist folklore about ovens and gas chambers so prominent in (((Hollywood))) narratives.

[We’ll leave it to you to doing a search for the quote; we simply don’t feel like driving traffic their way.]

Otherwise,  Agent Orange has been buried in criticism and he doesn’t like it.

From the Independent:

The White House Press Secretary has attacked the Anne Frank Center for its negative statement about President Donald Trump’s disavowal of anti-Semitism.

Asked about the Center’s statement, Sean Spicer told reporters that the President “has been very forceful with the denunciation” of people who are racist or sexist.

“The President has made clear since the day he was elected and frankly through the campaign that he seeks to unite the country. He has brought a diverse range of people into this administration,” he said.

“It’s ironic that no matter how many times he talks about this, it’s never good enough.”

He added: “I wish that they [the Anne Frank Centre] had praised the President for his leadership in this area. And I think hopefully as time continues to go by, they will recognise his commitment to civil rights, to voting rights, to equality for all Americans.”

Trump a racist?

An anti-Semite?

A racist?

How ridiculous!

After all, he’s the guy who admits he “probably” said this:

“Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.”

And sexist?

How can any man be sexist when he says things like this?

I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. . .Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

You go, Sean Spicer.

Please.

Just go.

And what did the Anne Frank Center have to say that got Spicer’s knickers so twisted?

From the statement released today by Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect:

“The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration. His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration.”

The GOP’s war on the environment begins


While Republicans are preparing to gut the Endangered Species Act, Donald Trump isn’t waiting to fire the opening salvos in the GOP war on the environment.

From the Washington Post:

President Trump is preparing executive orders aimed at curtailing Obama-era policies on climate and water pollution, according to individuals briefed on the measures.

While both directives will take time to implement, they will send an unmistakable signal that the new administration is determined to promote fossil-fuel production and economic activity even when those activities collide with some environmental safeguards. Individuals familiar with the proposals asked for anonymity to describe them in advance of their announcement, which could come as soon as this week.

One executive order — which the Trump administration will couch as reducing U.S. dependence on other countries for energy — will instruct the Environmental Protection Agency to begin rewriting the 2015 regulation that limits greenhouse-gas emissions from existing electric utilities. It also instructs the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to lift a moratorium on federal coal leasing.

A second order will instruct the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to revamp a 2015 rule, known as the Waters of the United States rule, that applies to 60 percent of the water bodies in the country. That regulation was issued under the 1972 Clean Water Act, which gives the federal government authority over not only major water bodies but also the wetlands, rivers and streams that feed into them. It affects development as well as some farming operations on the grounds that these activities could pollute the smaller or intermittent bodies of water that flow into major ones.

Trump has joined many industry groups in criticizing these rules as examples of the federal government exceeding its authority and curbing economic growth. While any move to undo these policies will spark new legal battles and entail work within the agencies that could take as long as a year and a half to finalize, the orders could affect investment decisions within the utility, mining, agriculture and real estate sectors, as well as activities on the ground.

Austerity bites: Greeks sink deeper into poverty


Poverty rate changes in the European Union, 2008-2015. From Reuters.

Poverty rate changes in the European Union, 2008-2015. From Reuters.

When the greed and unprosecuted crimes of Wall Street banksters and their allies in London brought the world to the brink of financial ruin nine years ago, it was the world’s poorer nation who paid — and are continuing to pay — the highest price.

Greece isn’t the only nation in the eurozone to see a poverty increase since the start of the Great Recession, but it’s the only one to see a near-tripling of the number of its citizens in poverty, a direction result of the austerity regime implemented by the austerity regime forced on Europe’s nations with the highest debt levels.

As part of that austerity, the Troika of the Euroippean Central Bank, the European Commission, and the Washington-based International Monetary Fund have mandated massive layoffs of public workers, pay and pension cuts, and the higher costs associated with the privatization and sell off of public transit and power systems.

The Troika has been holding off on its latest bailout loan, demanding yet more austerity measures. But when it comes, most of the money will go right back to lenders on Wall Street, London, and Germany.

More from Reuters:

[R]egardless of who is to blame for the collapse in living standards, poverty figures from the EU statistics agency are startling.

Greece isn’t the poorest member of the EU; poverty rates are higher in Bulgaria and Romania. But Greece isn’t far behind in third place, with Eurostat data showing 22.2 percent of the population were “severely materially deprived” in 2015.

And whereas the figures have dropped sharply in the post-communist Balkan states — by almost a third in Romania’s case — the Greek rate has almost doubled since 2008, the year the global crisis erupted. Overall, the EU level fell from 8.5 percent to 8.1 percent over the period.

>snip<

International organizations, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, have urged the government to prioritize tackling poverty and inequality.

Unemployment has slipped from a peak of 28 percent of the workforce to 23 percent but the rate remains the highest in the EU. Since the crisis began, the economy has shrunk by a quarter and thousands of businesses have closed for good.

>snip<

Better living standards seem as far away as ever. Over 75 percent of households suffered a significant income reduction last year, a survey by business confederation GSEVEE and Marc pollsters found. A third had at least one unemployed member and 40 percent said they had to cut back on food spending.

And with the latest round of austerity now in negotiation, things can only get worse.

Remember that, just as in the U.S., the employment numbers don’t reflect totals paid in salaries and benefits.

With rising costs for healthcare, transportation, and other necessities, coupled with pay cuts, living standards have been drastically reduced even for those who are working.

But, hey, a banskster’s gotta make a living, right?

Are Monarch butterflies headed for extinction?


Monarch butterflies have always been a personal favorite, those remarkable orange-winged critters whose presence always brightens a day.

As we wrote last year:

When we first arrived in California in 1967, one of the first mysteries we encountered was attached to a Monarch butterfly, one of those magnificently garbed creatures we had first found so fascinating as a child years earlier.

The mystery was a small paper wheel imprinted with a serial number and a phone number we were to call if we chanced upon the little critter.

Aha! A story! we thought — and we were right.

The phone number connected us to a Canadian university, where entomologists were studying the migrational patterns of creature that managed to navigate its way from the plains of our neighbor to the north to a forest in the heartland of our neighbor to the south — a remarkably odyssey worthy of a Greek bard.

But now, we learn, those delightful creatures may soon vanish from the earth.

From The Ecologist:

It’s been another disastrous year for North America’s Monarch butterflies, with the insect’s population down 27% in a single year. The sudden decline is blamed on severe winter storms in Mexico, and the impacts of GMO crops, herbicides and insecticides on US farms.

The annual overwintering count of monarch butterflies confirms. . .that this year’s population is down by 27% from last year’s count, and down by more than 80% from the mid-1990s. This dramatic decline indicates that America’s most well-known butterfly is at ongoing risk of extinction.

This year’s drastic decline is attributed in part to extreme winter storms that killed millions of monarchs last March in Mexico’s mountain forests where 99% of the world’s monarchs migrate for the winter.

“The monarch butterfly is still in really big trouble and still needs really big help if we are going to save this beloved orange and black wonder for future generations”, said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.

A recent study by the US Geological Survey concluded that there is a substantial probability that monarch butterflies east of the Rockies could decline to such low levels that they face extinction. Researchers estimate the probability that the monarch migration could collapse within the next 20 years is between 11% and 57%.

And if you think the Endangered SPecies Act will help save this or any onther critter, think again.

There’s now a major move afoot by Congressional Republicans to either gut the law or abolish it altogether.

Headline of the day: Another White House departure


From the London Daily Mail [and guess which reason was the one that got him the chop]:

You’re fired! Trump sacks another senior security official, after he criticized the President on Mexico and made ‘awkward’ comments about Ivanka’s good looks

  • Trump security appointee Craig Deare fired on Friday, escorted out of D.C. office
  • Deare headed the National Security Council’s Western Hemisphere division
  • Sources say Deare made critical remarks at a private talk on Thursday
  • Slammed Trump administration over rocky start to relations with Mexico 
  • Said advisors Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner running roughshod in WH 
  • Also made ‘awkward’ remarks about Ivanka Trump’s attractive looks
  • Second NSC official to leave in a week, after Michael Flynn resignation Monday