MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Police Are Evicting Standing Rock Protesters. Watch the Heartbreaking Live Footage. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>At around 3 p.m. today, North Dakota State Police, with the help of the National Guard and Wisconsin state police, began evicting protesters from the main #NoDAPL protest camp near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. After weeks of blizzards, flood warnings, exhaustion, and uncertainty caused by president Trump's executive order reversing the Army Corp of Engineer's previous decision to halt the pipeline project, many activists have left the camps. As of today, only about 100 activists remain.</p> <p>While an ABC news crew is embedded with the police, the main source of information about events on the ground is independent media and protesters themselves, who have been intermittently livestreaming the day's events, which have included arrests, fires, and meetings with representatives of North Dakota governor Doug Burgum. Below are eight live feeds showing the action as it unfolds on the ground.</p> <p>Johnny Dangers:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="354" scrolling="no" src=";show_text=0&amp;width=560" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Unicorn Riot:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="354" id="ls_embed_1487808942" scrolling="no" src=";height=360&amp;enableInfoAndActivity=true&amp;defaultDrawer=&amp;autoPlay=true&amp;mute=false" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Waniya Locke:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="354" scrolling="no" src=";show_text=0&amp;width=400" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Indigenous Rising Media:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="354" scrolling="no" src=";show_text=0&amp;width=560" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Ernesto Burbank:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="354" scrolling="no" src=";show_text=0&amp;width=400" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Digital Smoke Signals:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="354" scrolling="no" src=";show_text=0&amp;width=560" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" width="630"></iframe></p> <p>Buzzfeed:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="true" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="354" scrolling="no" src=";show_text=0&amp;width=560" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" width="630"></iframe></p></body></html> Environment Thu, 23 Feb 2017 01:19:12 +0000 Wes Enzinna 326291 at Is Steve Jobs Responsible For the Decline of Shoplifting in Denmark? <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Here's a loyal reader who knows how to punch my buttons:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">That sound you hear is <a href="">@kdrum</a> 's head exploding<a href="">https</a><a href="">://</a></p> &mdash; Shawn Sukumar (@shawnsukumar) <a href="">February 22, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Fine. <a href="" target="_blank">What fresh hell do we have today?</a></p> <blockquote> <p>&ldquo;In Denmark, we are observing a trend toward a much more law-abiding youth,&rdquo; said Rannva Moller Thomsen, an analyst with the Danish Crime Prevention Council. A recent long-term study funded by the council found that <strong>the share of 14-to-15-year olds who confessed to shoplifting at least one time dropped from 46 percent in 1989 to 17 percent in 2016.</strong></p> <p>....There are numerous possible explanations....But the most surprising explanation may be the simplest one: the Internet. &ldquo;When young people spend time together in public spaces or meet privately and unwatched, the likelihood of them committing crimes increases,&rdquo; said Moller Thomsen. <strong>&ldquo;Many young people spend significantly more time online today than they did a few years ago. Overall, they are less social &mdash; but also less criminal.&rdquo;</strong></p> <p>....In Britain, where youth crime levels have also sharply fallen, <strong>government and privately owned initiatives have been praised for creating organized activities that keep kids away from both the streets and from their computers and smartphones.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>Right. In Denmark juvenile crime is declining because teens are all hunched over their smartphones instead of hanging around corner shops. In Britain, juvenile crime is down because of innovative programs that pull kids <em>away</em> from their smartphones. So let's take a look at crime in Denmark. I will give myself a maximum of five minutes to research this.</p> <p>I'm back. That took longer than I expected. I'm sure there's better data out there, but here's what I found after six minutes of googling. The numbers are from Table 8 in <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Nordic Criminal Statistics 1950&ndash;2010:</em><sup>1</sup></a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_crime_denmark_1989_2016_1.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>I've overlaid the shoplifting statistics, and as you can see they pretty much follow the overall crime stats for Denmark. There's a divergence between 2006-10, when overall crime increased, but the rest of the time both crime and juvenile shoplifting move pretty much in sync. I doubt very much that smartphones are responsible for the decline in murder and rape and fraud and so forth, so I doubt it's responsible for the decline in juvenile shoplifting either.<sup>2</sup></p> <p>Besides, give me a break. Shoplifting declined by nearly half between 1989-2005, when smartphone penetration was about zero. This whole theory is ridiculous. I really wish everyone would knock it off with the outr&eacute; just-so stories every time they run across some kind of crime statistic. Seriously, folks, what are the odds that smartphones have put the kibosh on shoplifting?</p> <p><sup>1</sup>Just because I love you all so much, I went ahead and filled in the 2011-16 crime figures from <a href="" target="_blank">Danmarks Statistik.</a></p> <p><sup>2</sup>I think everybody knows what I <em>do</em> think is responsible, so I won't mention it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 22 Feb 2017 23:50:03 +0000 Kevin Drum 326271 at Thousands of Scott Pruitt's Emails Just Hit the Internet. Here Are the Wildest, Scariest Bits. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p style=""><em>This story was originally published by t</em><a href="" target="_blank"><em>he</em> Guardian</a><em> and is reproduced here as part of the </em><a href="" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a><em> collaboration.</em></p> <p>The close relationship between Scott Pruitt, the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and fossil fuel interests including the billionaire Koch brothers has been highlighted in more than 7,500 emails and other records released by the Oklahoma attorney general's office on Wednesday.</p> <p>The documents show that Pruitt, while Oklahoma attorney general, acted in close concert with oil and gas companies to challenge environmental regulations, even putting his letterhead to a complaint filed by one firm, Devon Energy. This practice was first revealed in 2014, but it now appears that it occurred more than once.</p> <p>The emails also show that American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, an oil and gas lobby group, provided Pruitt's office with template language to oppose ozone limits and the renewable fuel standard program in 2013. AFPM encouraged Oklahoma to challenge the rules, noting: "This argument is more credible coming from a state." Later that year, Pruitt did file opposition to both of these regulations.</p> <p>The letters also show the cozy relationship between Pruitt and the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec), the <a class="u-underline" data-link-="" href="" target="_blank">influential US lobbying network of Republican politicians and big businesses</a>, and other lobby groups <a class="u-underline" data-link-="" href="" target="_blank">sponsored by the Koch brothers</a>, the billionaire energy investors who have spent decades fighting against environmental regulation.</p> <p>Alec has consistently challenged the science on climate change and fought against tougher environmental regulation. Companies including <a class="u-underline" data-link-="" href="" target="_blank">Google, </a><a class="u-underline" data-link-="" href="" target="_blank">Ford</a> and <a class="u-underline" data-link-="" href="" target="_blank">Enterprise Rent-a-Car</a> have quit Alec in protest of its climate change activities.</p> <p>The emails contain correspondence between Pruitt's executive assistant and Amy Anderson, Alec director and Oklahoma membership contact, about Pruitt's appearance at a May 2013 Alec board meeting in Oklahoma City.</p> <p>That meeting attracted more protesters than attendees, with 600 firefighters, teachers, environmentalists and church leaders carrying signs reading "ALEC is Not OK" and chanting: "Backroom deals are Alec's game / Sweetheart deals for corporate gain."</p> <p>Pruitt addressed a workshop entitled "Embracing American Energy Opportunities: From Wellheads to Pipelines".</p> <p>The emails state that Pruitt spoke "on state primacy in oil and gas regulation and the EPA's sue &amp; settle modus operandi". The lunch meeting was sponsored by Koch Industries, a major Alec sponsor.</p> <p>Pruitt was congratulated for his work on pushing back against the EPA by another Koch-backed pressure group.</p> <p>"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 Pruitt and an Oklahoma congressman in August 2013 by Matt Ball, an executive at Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit group also funded in part by the Kochs. "You both work for true champions of freedom and liberty!" the note said.</p> <p>Last week, an Oklahoma judge ordered that emails from a January 2015 open records request be released by Tuesday. A further batch of emails is due to be turned over next week. The Center for Media and Democracy, which has made nine separate open records requests for Pruitt's emails, said it will attempt to obtain all of the sought-after communications without exceptions.</p> <p>Pruitt was confirmed as EPA administrator on Friday. Democrats had sought to delay the Senate vote until the emails were released but were unsuccessful.</p> <p>"The emails show a very cozy relationship between Pruitt's office and particularly Devon Energy, as well as other coal, oil and gas companies," said Nick Surgey, research director at the Center for Media and Democracy.</p> <p>"Pruitt is the world's top environmental regulator now and these emails raise serious conflict of interest concerns. He has very close ties to fossil fuel firms and has shown himself to be generally opposed to the rules the EPA has to protect the environment."</p> <p>Pruitt's appointment as EPA chief has been vigorously opposed by environmental groups, Democrats and even some EPA staff as antithetical to the agency's mission. More than 700 former EPA employees wrote to senators to urge them to vote against Pruitt, while some current staff in Chicago took part in protests against him. This effort did little to budge the mathematics of the Senate, with only one Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, voting against Pruitt.</p> <p>Following the confirmation, the EPA put out a press release listing those that "cheer" Pruitt's appointment. They include Republican representatives and lobbyists for mining, farming and grazing, who were quoted in the EPA's <a class="u-underline" data-link-="" href="" target="_blank">own release</a> calling the agency "rogue" and "one of the most vilified agencies in the &lsquo;swamp' of overreaching government".</p> <p>The former Oklahoma attorney general, a Republican, has described himself as a "leading advocate against the EPA's activist agenda" and sued the regulator 14 times over pollution regulations relating to mercury, smog, methane and sulfur dioxide. Fossil fuel companies or lobbyists, a frequent source of Pruitt's past donations, joined with him in 13 of these cases against the EPA.</p> <p>A staunch opponent of what he sees as federal overreach, Pruitt <a class="u-underline" data-link-="" href="" target="_blank">said</a> following his appointment that "citizens don't trust the EPA is honest" with its scientific work, particularly around climate change. Pruitt has said he accepts the planet is warming but has questioned the degree of human influence over this, despite the volumes of scientific literature on the impact of greenhouse gases.</p> <p>In his first speech at EPA headquarters in Washington on Tuesday, Pruitt praised career employees and promised to "listen, learn and lead". He said regulators such as the EPA "ought to make things regular. Regulators exist to give certainty to those that they regulate."</p> <p>He added: "I believe that we as a nation can be both pro-energy and -jobs, and pro-environment. We don't have to choose between the two."</p> <p>John O'Grady, an EPA environmental scientist and head of a union that represents 9,000 agency staff, said that Pruitt came across "very professionally and conciliatory, he didn't come out heavy handed".</p> <p>But O'Grady said that many staff are nervously waiting for the administration's agenda to unfold, with Donald Trump expected to sign executive orders that aim to do away with the EPA's effort to reduce greenhouse gases and regulate America's expanse of waterways.</p> <p>"Mr Pruitt isn't a proponent of addressing climate change or of a strong EPA, so it won't surprise me when they start to whittle away at what we do as an agency," O'Grady told the <em>Guardian</em>. "I'm wondering when the hammer is going to fall."</p></body></html> Environment Climate Desk Wed, 22 Feb 2017 19:55:12 +0000 Oliver Milman and Dominic Rushe 326231 at Here's a Primer On How to Keep Donald Trump Under Control <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Over at <em>Politico</em>, Tara Palmeri has an entertaining story about how Trump's aides desperately try to keep him from <a href="" target="_blank">exploding on Twitter too often:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The key to keeping Trump&rsquo;s Twitter habit under control, according to six former campaign officials, is to <strong>ensure that his personal media consumption includes a steady stream of praise.</strong> And when no such praise was to be found, staff would turn to friendly outlets to drum some up &mdash; and make sure it made its way to Trump&rsquo;s desk....A former senior campaign official said Nunberg and his successor, former communications director Jason Miller, were particularly skilled at using alternative media like <strong><em>Breitbart</em>, <em>Washington Examiner</em>, Fox News, Infowars and the <em>Daily Caller</em></strong> to show Trump positive coverage.</p> <p>....They would also go to media amplifiers like Fox News hosts and conservative columnists to encourage them to tweet out the story so that they could print out and show a two-page list of tweets that show that they were steering the message. <strong>While Trump still couldn't contain his Twitter-rage with Machado,</strong> and ended up tweeting about a mystery sex-tape of the Hillary Clinton surrogate, <strong>aides say they dialed back even more posts.</strong></p> <p>"He saw there was activity so he didn't feel like he had to respond," the former campaign official said. <strong>"He sends out these tweets when he feels like people aren't responding enough for him."</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>For the record, here are Trump's post-debate tweets about Alicia Machado:</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Using Alicia M in the debate as a paragon of virtue just shows that Crooked Hillary suffers from BAD JUDGEMENT! Hillary was set up by a con.</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">September 30, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Wow, Crooked Hillary was duped and used by my worst Miss U. Hillary floated her as an "angel" without checking her past, which is terrible!</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">September 30, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">September 30, 2016</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>And yet, Trump's aides say they "dialed back" even more posts. The mind reels. I wonder they prevented us from seeing? What did Trump <em>really</em> have in mind down in the lizard-brain regions of his medial hypothalamus that relentlessly goad him into an uncontrollable rage whenever someone doesn't love him enough?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 22 Feb 2017 19:52:14 +0000 Kevin Drum 326256 at We Are One Step Closer to Finding Aliens <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Earthlings are one step closer to confirming that they're not the only living things in the universe. An international group of scientists announced Wednesday that they've been observing seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a dwarf star named Trappist-1. The discovery, <a href=";contentCollection=BreakingNews&amp;contentID=64947516&amp;pgtype=Homepage" target="_blank">according to the </a><em><a href=";contentCollection=BreakingNews&amp;contentID=64947516&amp;pgtype=Homepage" target="_blank">New York Times</a></em>,<em> </em>is the "first realistic opportunity to search for biological signs of alien life outside of the solar system."</p> <p>The star is about 235 trillion miles from Earth, or about 40 light years. The planets happen to be oriented in such a way to allow them to be "studied in great detail," the <em>Times </em>notes.</p> <p>"This is the first time so many planets of this kind are found around the same star," Michael Gillon, an astronomer at the University of Liege in Belgium and the leader of the team of scientists, said Wednesday. Another astronomer from the group, Amy H.M.J. Triaud, from the University of Cambridge in England, said the findings mark a "crucial step toward finding if there is life out there."</p> <p>By studying the atmospheres of the planets, scientists will be able to look for signs of biological life. Sara Seagar, an astronomer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is not a part of the team that made the discovery, told the <em>Times </em>that these planets make the "search for life in the galaxy imminent," adding that for "the first time ever, we don't have to speculate. We just have to wait and then make very careful observations and see what is in the atmospheres of the Trappist planets."</p> <p>Of course, <a href="" target="_blank">there are those</a> who believe that life from other planets not only exists but has visited Earth at some point in the past. Many governments around the world, including <a href="" target="_blank">the US government</a>, have studied the issue for decades. As recently as January 5, the Chilean Navy released video shot from a Navy helicopter in 2014 showing a flying object that military and civilian experts could not identify, as <a href="" target="_blank">reported by journalist Leslie Kean</a>.</p> <p>Perhaps one of the planets would be a candidate for a "planet b," a concept explored by the Climate Desk's James West in 2015:</p> <iframe width="630" height="354" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></body></html> Politics Wed, 22 Feb 2017 19:13:33 +0000 AJ Vicens 326241 at Another Democrat Hands Over the Reins to Republicans <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>I forgot about this until Rachel Maddow <a href="" target="_blank">mentioned it on her show last night:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>A Democrat on the Federal Election Commission is quitting her term early</strong> because of the gridlock that has gripped the panel, offering President Trump an unexpected chance to shape political spending rules.</p> <p>The commissioner, Ann M. Ravel, said during an interview that she would send Mr. Trump her letter of resignation this week. <strong>She pointed to a series of deadlocked votes</strong> between the panel&rsquo;s three Democrats and three Republicans that she said left her little hope the group would ever be able to rein in campaign finance abuses.</p> <p><strong>&ldquo;The ability of the commission to perform its role has deteriorated significantly,&rdquo;</strong> said Ms. Ravel, who has sparred bitterly with the Republican election commissioners during her three years on the panel. She added, &ldquo;I think I can be more effective on the outside.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p>Ravel is not the first Democrat to resign a post early after Trump's election win. SEC Chair Mary Jo White is another high-profile Democrat who's resigned, and there have been several others as well.</p> <p>Why? With Republicans in control of everything, isn't this precisely the time when Democrats should want to retain as much power as they can muster for as long as they can? Ravel's resignation will break the FEC's frequent deadlocks, but it will break them by almost certainly giving Republicans total control over election policy. This is precisely the thing that Ravel has been fighting against the past three years.</p> <p>I don't get it. What am I missing here?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 22 Feb 2017 18:07:18 +0000 Kevin Drum 326236 at Transgender High School Students Lose Their Bathroom Privileges <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Last year, the Obama administration issued a directive telling public schools to allow transgender students to use whichever bathroom matches their gender identity. This week, that turned into a fight between Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over an order that would <a href="" target="_blank">repeal the Obama directive:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off on the order</strong> and told President Trump that she was uncomfortable with it....Mr. Sessions, who strongly opposes expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, fought Ms. DeVos on the issue and pressed her to relent.</p> <p>....Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general, these Republicans said, telling Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her objections. <strong>And Ms. DeVos, faced with the choice of resigning or defying the president, has agreed to go along.</strong> The Justice Department declined to comment on Wednesday.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is going to happen a lot. Even on issues where Trump might be personally flexible, he's now surrounded by hardcore ideologues who will push him as far to the right as public opinion will allow. We basically live under a Pence administration with Trump acting as head carnival barker and showman.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 22 Feb 2017 17:46:35 +0000 Kevin Drum 326226 at America Is Getting Friendlier to Immigrants, but Republicans Aren't <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Over at Bloomberg, Noah Smith argues against getting <a href="" target="_blank">too worked up over immigration:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>Illegal immigration to the U.S. ended a decade ago and, according to the Pew Research Center, has been zero or negative since its peak in 2007....Why? One reason might be economic....<strong>The economy has improved</strong>, and the <strong>fertility rate has fallen a lot</strong>, meaning that young Mexicans are needed back in Mexico to take over family businesses and take care of aging parents....A third reason is <strong>increased border enforcement.</strong> For years, many Americans demanded that the border with Mexico be secured in order to stem illegal immigration. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama did exactly that. Obama, especially, stepped up the pace of deportation.</p> </blockquote> <p>OK. But how do Americans <em>feel</em> about immigration?</p> <blockquote> <p>Here too, surveys show that there isn&rsquo;t really a problem. The percent of Americans telling Gallup that immigration should be decreased went up after 9/11, spiked again during the Great Recession, but has since fallen to about a third. <strong>As of 2016, a clear majority say that immigration should either be kept at its present level (38 percent) or increased (21 percent)</strong>&nbsp;&mdash; hardly a mandate for immigration restriction.</p> </blockquote> <p>Quite so. <a href="" target="_blank">Here is Gallup's chart of public opinion:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gallup_immigration_2001_2016.jpg" style="border: 1px solid #cfcfcf; margin: 15px 0px 15px 25px;"></p> <p>But that tells only half the story. Here are all the recent Gallup polls I could find that break out Republican responses about immigration:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_gallup_immigration_republicans_2009_2017_1.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 25px;"></p> <p>Smith argues that "there is no big anti-immigrant wave in the U.S....Instead, the current anti-immigrant fervor among Trump&rsquo;s hardcore supporters might simply be a brief spasm of anger by a strident minority." But that doesn't seem to be the case. For at least the past decade, a strong majority of Republicans has favored decreasing immigration&mdash;and if the question were limited to <em>illegal</em> immigration, the numbers would certainly be higher.</p> <p>This is no brief spasm. The country as a whole may be getting friendlier to immigration, but Republicans decidedly aren't. If Democrats ever want to pass some kind of comprehensive immigration reform, they're going to have to figure out some way to get Republican votes for it, but that's not going to happen as long as the entire GOP&mdash;not just diehard Trump fans&mdash;is dead set against it.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 22 Feb 2017 17:20:40 +0000 Kevin Drum 326221 at "We Will Never Stop": An EPA Employee Blasts the Trump Administration <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>As we embark on month two of Donald Trump's presidency, it's hard to imagine a group of federal employees facing more uncertainty than the staff of the Environmental Protection Agency. Industry ally and new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt can be viewed only as an agent of profound change, and he's already faced <a href="" target="_blank">intense opposition</a> from Senate Democrats and <a href="" target="_blank">from the staff he inherits</a>.</p> <p>In recent days, both <em><a href="" target="_blank">Bloomberg</a></em> and the <em><a href=";tid=ss_tw&amp;utm_term=.e5a834c20a2f" target="_blank">Washington Post</a></em> have reported that the first moves Trump and Pruitt will make in their overhaul of US environmental policy will be to roll back parts of Barack Obama's climate legacy and the "Waters of the US" rule&mdash;a thorn in the side of farmers and ranchers. This comes as no surprise&mdash;both of these policies were identified at the top of the administration's "America First Energy Plan" agenda <a href="" target="_blank">the moment the White House website switched over on inauguration day</a>.</p> <p>After his hostile nomination process, Pruitt made an appeal to civility Tuesday&nbsp;in his <a href="" target="_blank">first address to EPA staff</a>. "We as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment," he said. "We don't have to choose between the two." That message may ring a bit hollow to the agency's staff, however&mdash;coming from a person who has dedicated his career to dismantling environmental safeguards. We appear to be entering an era in which environmental protection will officially be seen as an impediment to the will of industry. For EPA staffers who have devoted their lives and careers to preserving the planet, this is a heartbreaking development.</p> <p>Shortly after the inauguration, a career EPA employee contacted me through a secure chat program and began to express profound concern over the threat now posed to their life's work. What follows is a heartfelt essay that this official&mdash;who requested anonymity out of fear of retribution by the administration&mdash;wrote shortly after Pruitt's confirmation last week:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>I am a proud employee of the EPA. My colleagues and I are passionate about protecting the health of the American people&mdash;and the natural environment we share&mdash;from harmful pollution, chemicals, and pesticides. Many of us fear that the American people believe politicians when they say our agency is full of "lazy bureaucrats." The reality is we all got into this work because we believe that it is our duty to protect people and the planet we live on for future generations. EPA is a public health agency, and we come to work every day focused on how we can better serve the American people and enable everyone, regardless of income, race, or any other factor, to enjoy equal protection and access to a healthy environment so everyone can prosper and enjoy the opportunities this country has to offer.</em></p> <p><em>We are not against industry or economic prosperity; we want to work toward a society that cherishes people, the planet, and the economy&mdash;all at the same time.</em></p> <p><em>When the EPA was established in 1970, by a Republican administration, the idea of a healthy environment was not a partisan issue. But since then, we have moved into an era where politicians and corporations started working to convince the American public that protecting their water, land, and air from harmful pollution was not in the people's best interests and that our economy can't be prosperous if our environment and public health is protected at the same time; this is a lie. What is true is that polluters don't want to be held accountable for their actions. But when will our leaders see that people matter as well? The attitude that powerful polluters should be able to operate unchecked, no matter how many people are hurt, is the same all over the world.</em></p> <p><em>What type of nation are we when we allow our leaders to sign into law a rule that makes it EASIER for mining companies to pollute local waterways? These same politicians will try to convince their voters that making it easier to pollute local streams is somehow good for them. Communities in West Virginia, Indiana, and Alabama with sky-high rates of cancer due to industry pollution shouldn't be presented with the false choice of accepting even more poison in their local environment or having a job. No one should be told that they have to put up with cancer-causing poison in their water, air, and land. It's shameful, and it's wrong.</em></p> <p><em>We at EPA believe that everyone should be able to breathe clean air, drink clean water, have healthy food, AND ALSO have a growing economy. Those that want to weaken EPA will say, "Well, the states can do it themselves." EPA has always worked closely with states and respects jurisdictional power, but rivers and air don't stop at state borders, and every American&mdash;no matter where they live&mdash;deserves to have a basic standard of protection.</em></p> <p><em>You have to ask yourself: Who benefits when the EPA is weakened? Who benefits when our staff is laid off, cast aside, and when the agency is prevented from pursuing its mission of protecting public health and the environment? Who benefits when the agency can't consistently enforce environmental laws that are meant to protect the public? The beneficiaries are not the people. Environmental protection is not a partisan issue. Science is not partisan. We all share this earth and its resources on which we all depend to survive. The amount of money you have should not determine if you get to live a healthy life, free from pollution. The politicization of this issue is manipulation by those who are already powerful. We, EPA professionals, have dedicated our lives to this work because we care about people more than we care about money or even being recognized for what we do.</em></p> <p><em>2015 was&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">the deadliest year on record</a>&nbsp;for people working to defend and protect the environment. Let that sink in. One hundred and eighty-five human beings were killed around the world (more than three for every week of 2015) because they dedicated their lives to protecting human health from pollution and preserving the beautiful planet we all cherish. The same year, the Environmental Protection Agency welcomed Berta C&aacute;ceres, along with the other winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, to honor them for being global leaders in defense of human rights and environmental protection. Less than one year later, Ms. Caceres would be murdered in her home in Honduras because she was brave enough to challenge mining and dam-building corporations. She defended human rights and the environment, and her life was taken because of it.</em></p> <p><em>Here in the US, those of us who work to protect the environment and human health from corporate pollution are lucky enough that we do not live under the specter of murder. We are, however, acutely aware that the forces behind these heinous crimes against environmental activists abroad are the same forces that are working against us in the US today. And make no mistake: These forces are poised to grow even stronger.</em></p> <p><em>If it is discovered in the next few weeks that the EPA Administrator does in fact have even closer ties to polluting corporate interests than we feared, what will the public do? Will the capture of EPA by corporate interests be swept up in all the other horrifying news of the day or week? Or will the public finally decide that it is not acceptable to allow EPA, the only agency with a mission dedicated to protecting the environment, to be systematically dismantled, allowing those at the top to further concentrate wealth and power among themselves? Despite the long odds we face, we will never stop working to protect every person's right to have a healthy place to live, work, and play. And if the new administrator casts me out of the job I love, I will not stop working toward the principles that have always animated my life. This is who I am, and that will never change. I stand in solidarity with brothers and sisters that work to protect human rights, human health, and the environment here in the US and all over the world. The struggle continues.</em></p> </blockquote></body></html> Environment Climate Change Climate Desk Donald Trump Science Wed, 22 Feb 2017 16:00:31 +0000 Eric Holthaus 326166 at GOP Town Halls Are Getting Flooded with Angry Constituents <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Republican leaders returned to their home districts this week for the first congressional recess of the year and were faced with a barrage of questions from large crowds of angry constituents packed into school gymnasiums and other public meeting spaces. Many lambasted their elected officials over GOP plans to repeal Obamacare, President Donald Trump's ties to Russia, his cabinet picks, and more.</p> <p>On Tuesday alone, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), in Fairview, Rep. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), in Maquoketa , Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), in Iowa Falls, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in Louisville, were all met by loud jeers and calls to confront Trump over his most controversial policies, including his plan to build a border wall and block refugee resettlement.</p> <p>At one point, one woman, demanding answers about the president's energy proposals, told McConnell that if he properly addressed her concerns, she would "sit down and shut up just like Elizabeth Warren"&mdash;a reference to his controversial suppression of the Massachusetts senator's reading of a Coretta Scott King letter last month.</p> <p>"I hope you feel better," McConnell replied.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Mitch McConnell got flamed by one pissed off constituent <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Aaron Vallely (@Vallmeister) <a href="">February 22, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Crowd asks Rep. Steve Womack (R-AR) to investigate Trump/Russia.<br><br> Wait for it... <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) <a href="">February 22, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">&nbsp;</p> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Here outside <a href="">@MarshaBlackburn</a> town hall in Fairview where there is a protest to be followed by an alt-town hall. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Ariana Maia Sawyer (@a_maia_sawyer) <a href="">February 21, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The crowd jeers and chants after Joni Ernst ends her forum after only 45 minutes, few questions <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Iowa Starting Line (@IAStartingLine) <a href="">February 21, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>The citizen protests began earlier this month when videos from <a href="" target="_blank">Rep. Jason Chaffetz's (R-Utah) rocky town hall</a> near Salt Lake City went viral after demonstrators repeatedly chanted "Do your job!" at the House Oversight Committee chair. Such images and others have inspired many Republicans to either substitute face-to-face meetings with conference calls or cancel town halls altogether. Or, as in the case of Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), to relocate a planned meeting <a href="" target="_blank">60 miles</a> from where most of his constituents live. The move, which he blamed on crowd size, drew criticism from critics who charged Brat with attempting to evade protesters.</p> <p>On Monday, Trump dismissed the hostile crowds as paid protests organized by Democrats.</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!</p> &mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="">February 21, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center></body></html> Politics Donald Trump Wed, 22 Feb 2017 16:00:05 +0000 Inae Oh 326206 at