Nel's New Day

January 25, 2020

DDT: Week 157 – Outside the Impeachment Bubble

Historic anniversaries this week:

January 21: Inauguration of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) in 2016.

January 22: Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade permitting women to have abortions up the third month and in danger of being overturned.

January 23: Supreme Court decision in Citizens United that gave candidates $2.9 billion of dark money from Super PACs to influence elections with unlimited funds

This week DDT also announced he plans to cut Medicare and Social Security if he is re-elected because of his “great economy”:

“We have tremendous growth, we’re going to have tremendous growth. Next year, it will be towards the end of the year, the growth is going to be incredible….”

On the same day, the Dow dropped over 150 points. Economic growth is far below DDT’s projections for his tax cuts benefiting the wealthy and big business—not yet 3 percent–and the deficit spiked to $1 trillion. For next year, the Chicago Federal Reserve projects 1.9 percent economic growth, but DDT hopes to cut taxes again for more personal benefit. 

White House officials prompted DDT to cover up his statement that alienates his older voters, and DDT came out with the falsehood that Democrats will “destroy your Social Security” and that he will “save it!” Democrats created the program and spent almost a century protecting it. DDT already proposed tens of billions of dollars in Social Security cuts, and Republicans believe that “saving” Social Security can be done by “cutting” Social Security.

In his speech at the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland), DDT called climate scientists “foolish fortune tellers,” “alarmists,” who want “absolute power to dominate, transform and control every aspect of our lives.” After basing his two campaigns for president on fear, he said, “Fear and doubt is not a good thought process.” Then he repeated his lie that the U.S., which has seen worsening air quality, has “the cleanest air in the world.” DDT spoke an hour after 17-year-old Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, at a conference concerned with climate change. He dodged an onstage question-and-answer session after the speech.

The conference focus was on climate change.

Although red states in the South won’t acknowledge the existence of climate change, they will receive billions of dollars for “natural” disasters made far worse by the human-caused changes in climate. These states need a reason to get the money so they use terms such as “changing coastal conditions” and the “destabilizing effects and unpredictability” of being hit by multiple storms in a short time. A $16 billion fund will be distributed to prepare for future natural disasters in states most affected by disasters from 2015 to 2017—GOP-oriented states along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Of the eight states fitting the criterion, only California didn’t vote for DDT. Half the money was assigned to Puerto Rico, but DDT withheld the funding because of “corruption.”

In support for DDT’s climate denial, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that activist Greta Thunberg should go to college to learn about economics after she called for investors to take their money out of fossil fuel stocks. Mnuchin, known as the “foreclosure king,” made his money from unethical mortgage practices. Climate economist Gernot Wagner, who has gone to “college”—Harvard and Stanford—presented a letter from Larry Fink, chief executive of Blackrock, the world’s largest asset management firm. Fink announced his company’s divestment of companies centered on fossil fuels and contribute to climate change. Wagner said that this decision came from the “scenario of having fossil fuels go the way of tobacco that makes fossil fuel execs the most nervous.” Divestment is economics, not politics.  

In his continued assault on the environment and people’s health, DDT has overturned or begun overturning 95 environmental regulations and is especially fixated on building pipelines. The oldest environmental law, created during Richard Nixon’s first year in the presidency as a response to the Santa Barbara Oil Spill, has been called the Magna Carta of environmental law. NEPA helps guarantee that the government considers development affects on climate and the affected local community by covering infrastructure such as highways and fossil fuel exploration. DDT’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) proposes horrific changes to NEPA after working for 2 years with those it considers is stakeholders, industry groups like electrical utilities, the American Petroleum Institute, and the American Gas Association. New rules eliminate considering climate change in environmental impact reports, allow companies to conduct their own reviews, and limit public input. The rule changes, like all others, has a time for public comment, and like all other DDT rule changes, all public comments will be ignored if they disagree with DDT’s plans to help big business.

In another environmental change, DDT plans to pollute 60 percent of waterways in the United States by removing protections for streams, wetlands, and groundwater. Winners are real estate developers (including golf courses), fossil fuel producers, and farmers; losers are the rest of the people in the nation. His changes affect not only smaller bodies of water but also the Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi River, and the Puget Sound. Not only is protection set up by President Obama in 2015 rescinded but also protections from the 1972 Clean Water Act are also eliminated. The chemical discharged into all these bodies of water will then move into larger and larger bodies of water. Wetlands can no longer perform their jobs of filtering surface water, protecting against floods, and providing wildlife habitat.

Even DDT-appointed scientists disagree. The EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board determined that DDT’s rule ignores science with “no scientific justification” for the devastating impact on the health of all water systems—and people.

DDT’s earlier deregulations have been on everything from chemicals in drinking and shower water to sprays on food and into the air. One Indiana town already experienced an outbreak of childhood cancers from chemicals. His rule changes also block the production of food. In 2018, the EPA allowed “emergency” approvals to spray the insecticide sulfoxaflor, highly toxic to bees, on over 16 million acres of crops that attract bees, vital to pollinating one-third of the food supply as well as other plants that animals need. The last decade has shown a drastic loss in the bee population.

Also at Davos, DDT tried to cover up his statement that “no Americans were harmed” when Iran retaliated to DDT’s assassination of Iranian leader Qassem Soleimani by firing over a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi air bases where U.S. forces were housed. To avoid combat, DDT said that he wouldn’t counter-attack Iran because “we suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.” Yet 11 U.S. service members were sent to hospitals for treatment for concussions because of the strike, and more troops were transported out of Iraq for medical treatment and evaluations in Germany. The Pentagon said that more military members may need to be transported from Iraq in the next few days. Caught in his lies, DDT said that he “heard they had headaches and a couple of other things … not very serious.” To DDT, brain damage is far less severe than missing limbs. Thus far, 34 U.S. service members have been diagnosed with concussions and traumatic brain injuries after the airstrikes; 17 are back on active duty, according to the Pentagon.

In a speech to his donors at Mar-a-Lago, DDT admitted Soleimani presented no “imminent” threat to the U.S. and killed him because he said “bad things” about the U.S. DDT had planned to kill Soleimani months earlier because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former national security adviser John Bolton wanted a push-back against Iran. Once the murder was a fait accompli, White House, State Department, and Pentagon officials struggled to justify what DDT had ordered while other officials and the president daily changed the rationale to hide DDT’s sole concern about the killing’s impact on his election. Based on all the available intelligence, DDT’s “presentation” to private citizens, one he has not made to lawmakers, deserted his “rationale” for killing Soleimani of “imminent” threats on four U.S. embassies to just his being a “bad person.  

Officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence are so afraid of DDT that they asked Senate and House Intelligence committees to stop public hearings on the annual Worldwide Threat Assessment. DDT has prevented these hearings since he moved into the Oval Office.

DDT also threatened Iraq that it could lose access to its central bank account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York if U.S. troops were expelled from U.S.-occupied Iraq. That account is used for oil revenue and payment for government salaries and contracts. He also threatened to end waivers allowing Iraq to purchase Iranian gas for generators supplying much of Iraq’s power.

At Davos, DDT said that “we have to protect Thomas Edison—we have to protect all of these people that came up with originally the light bulb, and the wheel.” The message was that these inventors are still alive and that someone from the U.S. invented the wheel.

December 14, 2019

DDT: Week 151 – More Bullying Buffoonery

Last week, the media focused on the impeachment inquiry and the release of a DOJ report about the creation of the FBI investigation into the connection between Russia and the 2016 presidential campaign of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Both DDT and his fixer AG Bill Barr contradicted, without evidence, the conclusion of the report from DOJ’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz that the FBI investigation did not show bias in starting the probe. Attorneys from the conservative Checks & Balances blasted Barr’s rejection of his own IG’s report, and another conservative attorney, referring to DDT as Barr’s “client,” said:

“The attorney general has returned to his playbook of distortion and obfuscation in a transparent effort to undermine the IG’s meticulous, fact-based conclusions.”

Barr blamed President Obama and the FBI, with no evidence, for trying to destroy U.S. democracy by spying on DDT’s associates. Ignoring the “lock her up” chants about Hillary Clinton, Barr said that people who want to send political rivals “to jail” are “poisoning the system.” He also ignored the anti-Hillary Clinton bias among FBI agents who sent anti-Clinton text messages and wanted to investigate DDT’s conspiracy theories about the Clinton Foundation. In 2018, Horowitz reported that former FBI Director James Comey reopened the probe into Clinton’s emails ten days before the election because he thought FBI agents might leak information. Anti-Clinton agents were not punished. Horowitz’s investigation of FBI leaks to DDT’s private lawyer Rudy Giuliani is ongoing.

Regarding his misrepresentations of the facts, Barr blamed the “irresponsible” media’s fault for “fanning” what he called “a bogus narrative.” He sees his job to ensure “that [the law enforcement and intelligence apparatus] doesn’t play an improper role in our political life.” In his crusade outside his job’s purview, Barr focuses on public perception and press reporting instead of legality. Barr is running a media campaign about the FBI that “if you go ahead and investigate foreign interference in our election, William Barr may come after you,” according to former DOJ spokesman Matthew Miller on Joy Reid’s MSNBC AM Joy

When Horowitz testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) falsely claimed that the FBI had stopped Russia’s attacks against Hillary Clinton before the 2016 election just by telling the campaign about Russia’s actions. Horowitz testified that neither Barr nor John Durham, the U.S. AG for Connecticut who Barr assigned to run a parallel investigation with Horowitz, “changed our findings” about no bias on the part of the FBI despite the 17 errors or omissions. The FBI did not put spies in DDT’s campaign, according to Horowitz’s testimony. When the IG declared that Russians interfered in the 2016 campaign, even Graham agreed.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) asked that Barr be investigated for his following the bidding of the president. Horowitz said that he takes the issue seriously, but he’s legally prevented from looking at the misconduct of DOJ lawyers, including the attorney general. “The law has to change, senator,” Horowitz said.”

DDT also attacked his own appointee, FBI Director Christopher Wray, for saying that DDT’s criticism betrayed his “own bias.” Lying about the IG report, DDT claimed that it “totally exonerates” him of allegations of collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice. He called the FBI “scum” and threatened to “get involved” with the DOJ, a constitutional danger for the independent agency. During this week’s Pennsylvania rally, DDT also told his security to be rougher on a protester and slurring more than usual through his rants, according to a Vox reporter.  

In March, the Supreme Court will hear DDT’s appeal about hiding his tax returns and other financial affairs from the House and a New York prosecutor. The ruling is due by June. No lower court has ruled that DDT has the right to hide these documents from investigations.

The Supreme Court may be kept busy hearing all DDT’s appeals. A federal judge has ruled against DDT’s request to delay a lawsuit against AG Bill Barr and Commerce Wilbur Ross who defied congressional subpoenas in their handling of the failed citizenship question for the 2020 census.

Two other federal judges, one in El Paso and the other in Northern California, stopped DDT’s paying for his wall with $3.6 billion in military funds. The decision is based on a GOP-generated law blocking President Obama. The president cannot “eliminate or reduce funding for any program, project, or activity as proposed in the President’s budget request” unless approved by Congress. Later, GOP congressional members added “increase” to “eliminate or reduce.”

At the urging of House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-MS), the Pentagon is looking into a $400 million contract for a segment of the southern border wall with a DDT-pushed company that doesn’t meet necessary standards. DDT had picked the company after seeing the owner, a GOP donor, on Fox network.

Glenn Fine, the Pentagon’s inspector general, opened a review three months ago to examine whether U.S. military deployment to the southern border is legal after 30 congressional members requested an investigation. The deployment may violate a law preventing active duty military troops from law enforcement duties inside the U.S. Since DDT started sending service members to the border in 2018, the number has sometimes exceeded 5,000.

DDT has again announced that he and China have a “phase one” trade deal. China called it a “win-win,” but no text has been released. DDT lowered tariffs—mostly on toys, cellphones and laptops—and China said it will buy the farm-products that they had already intended. The deal will also enhance intellectual property protections at China’s own pace and permit U.S. banks and credit card companies full access to China which China had wanted. No “phase two” was addressed. DDT will claim a win, but China isn’t altering its economy as DDT promised, won’t send jobs back to the U.S., and hasn’t committed to scale back subsidies that give China an advantage over the U.S.

The general announcement caused the markets to rapidly increase; the details given out on the next day ended up with an almost flat gain. Winners are farmers, bankers, and Apple. China won because President Xi Jinping stood his ground and DDT caved in. This week reflected the fifth time this year that DDT delayed or canceled tariffs, encouraging China to further drag out negotiations for more wins. DDT has a long way to go to match President Obama on agricultural exports to China. 

Last week, DDT announced tariffs on steel and aluminum from Brazil and Argentina; this week the administration announced that it hadn’t decided about these tariffs yet. Just another one of those orders that didn’t exist.

Customs and Border Protection officials not only refuse to vaccinate migrants in U.S facilities but also arrested doctors who tried to provide free vaccinations.

Amazon is accusing the Pentagon of obeying DDT’s orders by selecting Microsoft for a $10-billion cloud computing contract that has been called a crucial national security priority. Oracle and IBM are also challenging the contract. Amazon pointed out several reasons that Microsoft’s program is inferior to theirs. Defense Secretary Mark Esper waited two months to recuse himself from the procurement process because his son works for an initial bidder.  DDT’s ongoing feud with Amazon’s owner, Jeff Bezos, began with reporting by the Washington Post, also owned by Bezos. 

DDT supporters should be grateful that federal agencies ignored his some of his demands. Peter Bergen, in his new book Trump and his Generals: The Cost of Chaos, wrote that DDT wanted to move the 9.8 million people in Seoul because it was too close to the North Korean border. He insisted, “They have to move!” And he wasn’t joking. That was when he told his national security team that threats from Kim Jong-Un would be “met with fire and fury.” Months later, he demanded “an evacuation of American civilians from South Korea.” Warned that this action would signal war, DDT ordered, “Go do it!” The Pentagon ignored his orders to move Seoul and evacuate all Americans from South Korea, DDT forgot about it, and the United States hasn’t gone to war with North Korea—yet.

In the midst of 123 furious tweets in one day during the impeachment inquiry hearings, DDT found time to demand that 16-year-old Greta Thunberg “work on her Anger Management problem” after she was awarded Time’s “Person of the Year”:

“So ridiculous. Greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!”

Thunberg used DDT’s words for her Twitter bio. Time wrote that it chose Thunberg because she created “a global attitudinal shift” and “offered a moral clarion call.”

Even more vile, DDT’s fundraising campaign photoshopped DDT’s head on Thunberg’s body money with the caption, “When it comes to keeping his promises, there’s only one Person Of The Year.”

New jobs increased 266,000 in November with manufacturing comprising 54,000 of them, but 48,000 of those came at the end of GM’s strikes. Despite some wage increases in blue states raising minimum wages, rising costs of living in 2019 outpaced workers’ economic growth. Forty-four percent of U.S. workers earn low wages.

March 17, 2019

Climate: Youth Take Over Adult Responsibilities

Last October, a UN report on climate warned of catastrophic consequences in ten years just before the Paradise (CA) fire that killed 85 people and destroyed over 15,000 buildings. The United States is the biggest contributor to climate change, and 71 percent of people in the U.S. believe that they have experienced climate change. Yet almost half the members of Congress—over half in the Senate—are climate change deniers, with a focus on destroying the Green New Deal by claiming it is socialism.

Only five percent of people in the U.S. think that climate change can be reversed, but young people don’t follow that belief. One teenager started protesting outside the Swedish parliament last summer, and last Friday her movement to fight climate change went global when hundreds of thousands of students in 123 countries and 1,700 locations participated in the International Youth Climate Strike by leaving schools to demand action. Greta Thunberg [below center], the 16-year-old Swedish activist who inspired the strikes, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Other young people worked with her through social media to organize the rallies and then marched.

The group’s mission:

We, the youth of America, are striking because decades of inaction has left us with just 11 years to change the trajectory of the worst effects of climate change, according to the Oct 2018 UN IPCC Report. We are striking because our world leaders have yet to acknowledge, prioritize, or properly address our climate crisis. We are striking because marginalized communities across our nation—especially communities of color, disabled communities, and low-income communities—are already disproportionately impacted by climate change. We are striking because if the social order is disrupted by our refusal to attend school, then the system is forced to face the climate crisis and enact change. With our futures at stake, we call for radical legislative action to combat climate change and its countless detrimental effects on the American people. We are striking for the Green New Deal, for a fair and just transition to a 100% renewable economy, and for ending the creation of additional fossil fuel infrastructure. Additionally, we believe the climate crisis should be declared a national emergency because we are running out of time.

Their demands include renewable energy, no additional fossil fuel infrastructure, a national emergency on climate change, compulsory education on climate change, clean water, emission standards and benchmarks, and all government decisions based on scientific research.

In the United States, the Youth Climate Strike group, founded and directed by three young women from Colorado, New York, and Minnesota, helped organize strikes in over 100 cities across the country.

When 12-year-old Haven Coleman missed a math tutoring session while she was on the phone planning the U.S. Youth Climate Strike, her teacher said, “You better get your priorities together.” Most of the time, Coleman schedules her protests early in the mornings or during lunch. In conjunction with 40 other countries, over 300 people in the U.S. have agreed to lead strikes in their cities on March with events confirmed in 28 states to urge politicians to stem the effects of the “climate crisis.” When she was asked about the reason for her activism, she said, “We can stop the worst effects, so why shouldn’t I try and save all you adults?” She also said, “I’m not going to leave my future in the hands of people who aren’t doing anything.”

Coleman inspired Isra Hirsi, 16, [right] to get involved. The daughter of Rep. Ilhan Omar (R-MN), involved in climate activism with the youth-led coaltion of organizations Minnesota Can’t Wait, said, “It is my future, it is the younger ones’ future, and it’s less the older ones’ future.” Over 18 months ago, Hirsi started to learn about environmental racism and injustices in places such as Flint (MI) where people still suffer from lead-contaminated water caused by faulty political decisions and not yet corrected. Her friend Maddy Fernands, the group’s national press director, expressed optimism about their actions:

“It’s the young kids, the kindergartners, the high schoolers, the scientists, [who] are saying you’re doing something that’s wrong. [And by doing that,] people will start to react. It’ll become politically unpopular to not support that sort of coalition of people.”

The third co-founder of the U.S. youth strike, 13-year-old Alexandria Villaseñor, [left] started her weekly climate strike in front of the UN Headquarters last December despite the polar vortex weather. Like Thunberg, she was alone. With her asthma, Villaseñor couldn’t go outside on a visit to family in Northern California without feeling “really sick” because of the Camp Fire. When she returned home to New York, she started her research and discovered a story about Thunberg’s speech at the 2018 United Nations COP24 climate conference in Poland and her call to action. Last Friday, she was joined by other young people when she returned to her weekly sojourn.

An excerpt from the article that she and Thunberg wrote for Common Dreams:

“Scientists have also shown us that burning fossil fuels is “the world’s most significant threat to children’s health”. Nine out of every 10 children around the world are breathing dangerous air. Our lives are being compromised before we are born. Toxic particles from exhaust fumes pass through the lungs of pregnant women and accumulate in the placenta. The risk of premature birth, low birth weight and cognitive dysfunction this causes is a public health catastrophe. Pollution from diesel vehicles is stunting the growth of our lungs, leaving us damaged for life. Toxic air from burning fossil fuels is choking not only our lungs but our hopes and dreams.

“And the worst effects of climate change are disproportionately felt by our most vulnerable communities. This is not just about cutting down emissions, but about equity – the system we have right now is failing us, working only for the rich few. The luxury so few of us enjoy in the global north is based on the suffering of people in the global south….

“When our house is burning we cannot just leave it to the children to pour water on the flames – we need the grownups to take responsibility for sparking the blaze in the first place. So for once, we’re asking grownups to follow our lead: we can’t wait any longer.

“This movement had to happen. And now, you adults have a choice.”

At the age of nine, Thunberg developed a passion for climate action and gave up flying on airplanes three years ago because of their carbon emissions. An introvert with Aspergers, Thunberg overcame her crippling depression and fear of speaking before groups to communicate her message. When UK Prime Minister accused the walkouts of wasting lesson time, Thunberg tweeted:

“That may well be the case. But then again, political leaders have wasted 30 yrs of inaction. And that is slightly worse.”

Other young people have demanded action on climate change by suing the U.S. government for violating its obligation to current and future generations in its failure to preserve a clean atmosphere. Our Children’s Trust lawsuit has 21 plaintiffs, one of them as young as eight when the suit was first filed in 2015. The case has been on the edge of being dismissed several times, but presently it’s on fast-track scheduling by the 9th Circuit Court after the Supreme Court dismissed the federal government’s request for a stay.

Another youth environment group, 350.org, came from a group of seven university students abs environmental activist Bill McKibben in 2008. He said that today’s youth will be forced to live almost their entire life with the consequences of adults’ lack of action on climate change.

After young people confronted Sen. Diane Feinstein for not supporting the Green New Deal, many Republicans, including Meghan McCain on The View, accused Democrats of using “children” as political “props.” Last Friday’s youth strike to protest inaction on climate change may discourage this ploy to silence young people. The “children” who met with Feinstein are members of the climate group Youth vs. Apocalypse, a young people-led organization under the umbrella of the Bay Area’s chapter of 350.org. The leader, Isha Clarke, was invited to speak at a rally organized by the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led climate activist organization, and joined activists to meet with Feinstein in her office. [visual]

The latest terrifying report about climate change came out of the UN Environment Program last week. Without rapid deep pollution cuts, Arctic winter temperatures will rise up to 9 degrees F within 30 years and another 7 degrees in the next 30 years. Release of the trapped carbon results in this dangerous feedback loop. The disaster will mean far more extreme weather in the United States that experienced recently as well as rapid sea level rise from melting Greenland ice sheets.

The Christian bible orders Christian to care for the planet. Conservative evangelicals might want to consider that when they support climate deniers who care only about lining their own pockets.

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