You are browsing the archive for 2018 July 03.

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'How Is He Still There?!' MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace Gets Worked Up About Trump's Most Corrupt Appointee Still Having a Job

July 3, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

There seems to be no end to the scandals arising from this administration.

Scandals keep emerging around Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt — the latest reports say he used his aides' credit cards to pay for hotel rooms and never paid them back — but nevertheless, he has kept his job under President Donald Trump.

It's hard to imagine the latest reports will do him much damage since he has already faced a deluge of controversy and allegations of serious wrongdoing while maintaining the president's support.

“How is he still there?!” demanded MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, clearly baffled by the situation, on her show “Deadline: White House.”

“Yeah, I don't really know, honestly,” responded conservative commentator Bill Kristol. “It's not as if they can't get someone else in there who has, you know, conservative views on how the EPA should go about regulating, and so forth. There are plenty of people who have Pruitt's views who wouldn't have all that baggage.”

“They could pick someone at a rally!” Wallace replied. “Anyone in the front row who would agree with that and not have this much baggage.”

Kristol agreed but said that given the GOP-controlled Congress has little interest in investigating his misdeeds, Pruitt can stay in his job as long as he likes.

“Democrats have done just a miserable job, even though they're in the minority, of causing trouble, trying to insist on hearings, causing a ruckus when there aren't hearings, and so forth. You hear almost nothing from anyone, right?” he said. “Trump is helped a lot by the incompetence of the Democrats.”

Watch the clip below:

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Trump Lashes Out in Error-Filled Tweet About the Media Criticizing His Poor Grammar and Spelling

July 3, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

It's not just the erroneous capitalization that's the problem.

President Donald Trump decided to lash out on Twitter at the media once again on Tuesday — this time for critiquing his poor spelling and grammar as displayed in his tweets.

And as usual, the tweet was filled with errors:

The first error is that Trump claims to have written books. This is almost certainly false. It's not clear he's written any of the books with his name on them. His most famous book, The Art of the Deal, was written with ghostwriter David Schwartz, and other ghostwriters were hired for his other books.

This is a standard enough practice for celebrity books, so there's not necessarily anything underhanded about it. But when defending your own writing, you shouldn't claim to have written books you didn't actually write.

Trump also makes clear grammar and usage errors. “Best selling” in his tweet should be “best-selling.” While some hyphens are debatable or optional, this one is not.

He also incorrectly uses the phrase “pour over.” In fact, the correct phrase in this context is “pore over,” which means “to study carefully.” In Trump's defense, this is a very common mistake.

His claim about using capitalization for emphasis is less defensible. It's not clear what Trump actually means by “emphasis” here since emphasis can change the meaning of a text. (For example: “I didn't expect to find you here” has a different meaning compared to “I didn't expect to find you here.”)

But when Trump capitalizes “Fake News,” he's not adding emphasis. The tweet doesn't read any differently if you emphasize ”fake news.” He just seems to be capitalizing it because he likes the phrase. Which is fine, I suppose, but it's still a bizarre choice that observers can rightly …read more


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Paul Ryan Posted a Creepy Religious Video for Independence Day About the 'Blessings of America'

July 3, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

“In this Fourth of July season, let's remember this blessing we've been given.”

Paul Ryan has just turned the Fourth of July, Independence Day, into a religious holiday.

The Speaker of the House posted a video, titled, “The Blessings of America,” showing him talking with young (mostly white) people.

“In this Fourth of July season,” Speaker Ryan begins, “let's remember the blessings that we've been given in this amazing country.”

Independence Day was created to celebrate America's independence from Britain. It was never a religious holiday – nor a “season.”

“It doesn't matter who you are or where you come from,” Ryan continues. “In America—because of freedom of choice— you can do what you want to do, worship who you want to worship, and achieve whatever you set your mind to achieve.”

Again, the Fourth of July was never a religious holiday. In fact, out of all the federal holidays, it is the one that should be the least steeped in religious dogma.

“So let's take this day together to remember and be grateful for the people who put their lives on the line each and every day to protect this privilege we have of being Americans,” Ryan concluded.

Some responses via Twitter:

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'I’m Speaking Out Because They Can’t': National Security Reporter Reveals the Very Real Danger of the GOP's Attacks on the Mueller Probe

July 3, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“I’d like to put a human face — my own — to the risk posed by GOP gamesmanship on the Mueller investigation.”

National security reporter Marcy Wheeler made a startling revelation Tuesday on the Empty Wheel blog where she has covered the Russia investigation in meticulous detail.

Republican efforts to scrutinize and discredit the investigation, she said, threaten the safety of a range of witnesses and sources involved in the case.

This includes, she revealed, her.

“Sometime last year, I went to the FBI and provided information on a person whom I had come to believe had played a significant role in the Russian election attack on the US,” she wrote.

She continued: “Several times since I first considered sharing information with the FBI, I’ve asked my attorney to contact the FBI to tell them of what I perceived to be a real threat that arose from sharing that information. One of those times, I let law enforcement officers enter my house without a warrant, without me being present.”

This threat is exacerbated, she said, by President Donald Trump's allies in Congress, most notably Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), who is the chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

“I’m disclosing this now is to put a human face to the danger in which the House Republicans are putting other people who, like me, provided information about the Russian attack on the US to the government,” she said.

She adds:

It infuriates me to observe (and cover) a months-long charade by the House GOP to demand more and more details about those who have shared information with the government, at least some of whom were only trying to prevent real damage to innocent people, all in an attempt to discredit the Mueller investigation. As someone who has worked to rein in dragnets for over a decade, I’m all the more disgusted to see so many lifelong cheerleaders of surveillance pretend to care now.

Though Wheeler keeps secret the identity of the person she discussed with FBI, she shares a text she says the person sent her. In the text, the person warns that, in the hours after the …read more


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These Cops Are Trying to Ban Books Exposing Police Brutality at a South Carolina School

July 3, 2018 in Blogs

By Kelly Macias, Daily Kos

So much for freedom of thought and a lack of censorship in education.

Police outside of Charleston, South Carolina, don’t believe that high school students should read about police brutality. So even though two books on the subject were assigned on a summer reading list for a high school freshman class, local police made sure to express their objectionsThe Hate U Give is a book about a teenage girl dealing with the shooting of her unarmed best friend at the hands of police. All American Boys chronicles the experience of a teenage boy who is wrongly accused of stealing and then is beaten by a police officer. Both are award-winning books that made it on to the New York Times bestseller list. Neither book is required—they are two on a list of eight and students are only asked to choose one to read.

Instead of doing his actual job of, you know, protecting people, John Blackmon is incredibly concerned about the book selections. He is president of the Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3, a union that represents local, state and federal officers in the area. In an interview with local news, he claims that there is “an influx of tremendous outrage at the selections” and is subsequently demanding that the books be removed.

Who knows why he has so much time on his hands to worry about what teachers are doing in their classrooms with their students. But somehow, he does. And, in fact, he thinks these books are indoctrinating a culture of distrust and unnecessarily stoking animosity toward the police. He also thinks freshman students are far too young to have any meaningful interactions with police. He’s very wrong. Especially for students who live in low-income areas where police interactions are an unfortunate and regular part of life. 

“There are other socio-economic topics that are available and they want to focus half of their effort on negativity towards the police?” Blackmon said. “That seems odd to me.”

What’s odd, but not surprising, is how disconnected Blackmon is from reality. Police brutality is literally everywhere in our society—whether he chooses to see it or not. Young people are especially attuned to this. They repeatedly see and engage …read more


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Resisting Iranian Extremism

July 3, 2018 in Economics

By Matt Daniels, Doug Bandow

Matt Daniels and Doug Bandow

Iran seems to be a perpetual case of the good, the bad and the
ugly. Ugly is the regime, an extremist sectarian system that has
caused untold misery to its own people and others. Bad is the
challenge of dealing with a potential Iranian nuclear weapon.

But there is good. The Iranian people increasingly are standing
up to their oppressors. That doesn’t mean that an Iranian
Spring is imminent or Iranians look to America as their liberator.
However, as resistance to extremist rule grows, so does the
possibility of internal regime change, the only kind likely to be

For instance, in recent weeks the world witnessed women across
Iran protesting by climbing onto telecom boxes, taking off their
headscarves and waving them about on sticks. These demonstrations
began with one woman, who adopted this simple act — a
peaceful symbol of dissent, dubbed “the quietest protest Iran
has ever witnessed” by The New Yorker — on
Revolution Street.

As resistance to
extremist rule grows, so does the possibility of internal regime
change, the only kind likely to be permanent.

So far, more than a score of women have been arrested for their
defiance. Yet, the bravery of women labeled the “Girls of
Revolution Street” has raised the profiles of freedom of
expression, freedom of conscience and women’s liberation
around the globe.

These protests refute cultural relativism, which spawned
arguments on behalf of mandatory hijab restrictions, irrational
contentions that justified limits on women’s freedom decided
by panels of men. The Girls of Revolution Street are rebelling
against what can only be understood as oppression and are insisting
that the hijab prove its worth.

If an item of clothing or other cultural behavior truly serves a
valuable purpose, then let that purpose speak for itself —
and allow women to freely decide whether to wear it. After all, an
inherently good and valuable thing usually does not require the
threat of arrest to convince people to use it.

Therefore, said Nasrin Sotoudeh, a female human rights lawyer in
Tehran, “The message is very clear and very specific —
that women want to be able to choose if they wear hijab or not.
This is a civil-disobedience movement. Women know what the laws of
the land say about hijab, and, based on that, they chose to

The Girls of Revolution Street also have demonstrated the
transformational power of technology. It seems fitting that a
number of these protests were not only timed to coincide with
International Women’s Day, but also fueled by the global
nature of social media.

There have been numerous protests on the hijab before now in
Iran. But …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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U.S. Courts Just Scoffed at the Chance to Hold Big Oil Accountable for Climate Change — Now What?

July 3, 2018 in Blogs

By Elliott Negin, Independent Media Institute

A judge has dismissed San Francisco and Oakland's lawsuit against Big Oil for climate change-related damages.

On June 25, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit by San Francisco and Oakland against the five biggest privately owned oil companies for climate change-related damages. Why? He believes the problem is too big to be decided by the federal courts and that Congress and the administration should take care of it.

Fat chance of that happening anytime soon, and the courts are at least partly to blame.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge William Alsup agreed with the plaintiffs that there is a “vast [scientific] consensus that the combustion of fossil fuels has … materially increased carbon dioxide levels,” which has driven up average global temperatures and raised sea levels. Likewise, he noted that the oil companies “have allegedly long known the threat fossil fuels pose to the global climate,” but nonetheless funded public relations campaigns that “downplayed the risks” and disparaged climate scientists.

At the same time, however, Alsup insisted that environmental harms attributed to burning fossil fuels have to be balanced with the fact that “the industrial revolution and the development of our modern world has literally been fueled by oil and coal.”

“Having reaped the benefit of that historic progress,” he wrote, “would it really be fair to now ignore our own responsibility in the use of fossil fuels and place the blame for global warming on those who supplied what we demanded?”

The answer to the second part of the question is emphatically yes (and it doesn’t require ignoring our own responsibility).

The oil companies knew

Alsup is, of course, correct that industrialization would not have happened without fossil fuels. But he neglects to take into account the pernicious role the defendants—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell—have played to block government action to curb carbon emissions over the last three decades. If the United States and other industrialized nations had begun the necessary transition to low- and no-carbon energy back then, the likely consequences of climate change would be significantly less dire.

Rising sea levels alone will wreak havoc along the California coast. …read more


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Animal Shelters Are Buying Dogs from Puppy Mills and Passing Them Off As Rescues

July 3, 2018 in Blogs

By Lynn Hamilton, Independent Media Institute

While countless pit bulls go to the gas chamber, a “rescue” group pays thousands to save a single pedigreed dog.

Who would pay over $10,000 for a dog?

You might think only wealthy dog owners would shell out that kind of cash for a pet pooch. But two King Charles spaniels were recently purchased for $24,200 by an unlikely customer: a pet rescue organization out of Alabama.

The spaniels in question were “rescued” from an Iowa dog breeder with no reported complaints against him. The breeder, William Yoder, sold them immediately after obtaining them at a Missouri auction. In fact, 86 rescue organizations bought dozens of purebred and designer dogs at that same Missouri auction, as reported by the Washington Post. Often the rescues bid against each other, driving up prices.

This story comes at an unfortunate time, because many animal lovers had high hopes for recent legislation in California and some cities that requires pet stores to sell only dogs from shelters and rescues. “This will put puppy mills out of business and stop the proliferation of unwanted pets!” cheered animal rights advocates. But if rescue organizations are going to buy from breeders themselves, puppy mills can still remain in operation.

“This is really frustrating,” says Teresa Chagrin, PETA’s animal care and control issues manager. States and municipalities “are requiring pet stores to only have dogs and cats that come from rescues. The whole point of that is to deter breeding. Now these so-called rescues are providing a new revenue source for these poor animals who are bred in puppy mills. There’s no excuse to support the puppy mill industry.”

Patti Strand, president of National Animal Interest Alliance, doesn’t support legislation that forces pet stores to only sell rescues. “Pet store legislation has only resulted in shifting who can sell dogs, not in improving animal well-being,” she says.

“Whether you call adoption a sale or not, it is a sale. They [rescue groups] are sourcing them from the same place as the people they are putting out of business,” Strand adds.

Should we stop …read more