'Sheer Reckless Folly': Trump Destroys Obama-Era Climate Rules

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by Nika Knight, staff writer

www.commondreams.org

'Sheer Reckless Folly': Trump Destroys Obama-Era Climate Rules

"Aside from provoking a large-scale nuclear war, it is hard to imagine an American president taking an action more harmful to the U.S. than Trump's effort to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions"

President Donald Trump on Tuesday set about aggressively dismantling Obama-era climate policies with an executive order decried as "sheer reckless folly," which will increase U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the climate crisis.

"Aside from provoking a large-scale nuclear war, it is hard to imagine an American president taking an action more harmful to the U.S. than Trump's effort to accelerate greenhouse gas emissions," said David J. Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen's Climate Program, in a statement.

"This day may be remembered as a low point in human history—a time when the world's preeminent power could have led the world to a better future but instead moved decisively toward catastrophe," Arkush added.

The order instructs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to rewrite former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan (CPP), which would have limited the emissions of coal-powered power plants. It also lifts the moratorium on federal coal leasing, repeals limits on methane emissions from fracking, and directs the agency to reconsider the Social Cost of Carbon and the National Environmental Policy Act guidance on greenhouse gas emissions.

"The EPA's rollback of basic environmental rules demonstrates that when it comes to the health of our children, our communities, and our climate, this is an administration of lawlessness and disorder," said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of the grassroots sustainability group UPROSE, in statement.

"Indigenous peoples will not stand idle as we tell the world the Earth is the source of life to be protected, not merely a resource to be exploited and abused."

—Tom BK Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network

"For frontline communities, those of us impacted first and worst by the extraction economy, this means an escalation of public health crises, from asthma to cancer. It means an utter disregard for those of us most vulnerable to climate disasters," Yeampierre added. "It means a  world of volatility and exploitation for our children and grandchildren."

Environmentalists, local and state leaders, and advocacy groups are vowing to resist.

"The best way to fight against these executive orders is to take to the streets," as 350.org executive director May Boeve put it.

"President Donald Trump tearing apart the CPP is an act of aggression and violence against the sacredness of Mother Earth and Father Sky," said Tom BK Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network, in a statement. "Our indigenous prophecies and teachings tell us that Life as we know it is in danger. The atmosphere and the environment cannot absorb anymore concentration of greenhouse gases. As Indigenous peoples, we still understand our responsibility as guardians and the need to take action as defenders of the Earth. Indigenous peoples will not stand idle as we tell the world the Earth is the source of life to be protected, not merely a resource to be exploited and abused."

"As a member of the climate justice movement, we stand defiant in the face of these orders and are prepared to hold the line," Yeampierre said. "We will meet these violent policies with a deeper commitment to a Just Transition away from fossil fuels, toward renewable energy, local resiliency, and a regenerative economy worthy of leaving our children."

The climate movement has numbers on its side, groups observe. "Millions of Americans have called for strong climate action, submitting more than 8 million comments asking the EPA to take action to cut carbon pollution from power plants," noted Environment America. Recent polling confirms that a vast majority of Americans support climate action.

Moreover, despite the Trump administration's dubious claims of job creation, the Department of Energy showed that renewable energy jobs have already overtaken fossil fuel industry jobs, and the trend shows no sign of slowing.

As the federal government gives up its role in the climate fight, many now see local and state leaders taking up the charge.

"The West Coast will be allied with the rest of the world that understands science."

—Washington Gov. Jay Inslee"[A]s our most successful climate programs face attack on the federal level, it is incumbent on states to double down on their climate commitments," Environment America wrote. "We are calling on our governors to keep leading the charge and push the progress we need to tackle the climate crisis and get 100 percent renewable energy."

West Coast politicians are already uniting under the umbrella of the Pacific Coast Collaborative to battle the federal government's rightward turn on climate.

"As the governors of Washington, Oregon, and California and the mayors of Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles, we speak today in support of the Clean Power Plan," the Pacific Coast Collaborative wrote in advance of the executive order. "We speak in unified opposition to the idea of any decision by the President to limit our region's economic opportunities or our commitment to doing what's right to make our cities and states cleaner and healthier for future generations."

"The West Coast is going to move forward to beat climate change," said Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state, according to Northwest Public Radio. "The West Coast going to move forward to build clean energy jobs. The West Coast will be allied with the rest of the world that understands science."

"It is up to the American public to move the nation in the right direction on climate and clean energy despite the worst efforts of the so-called leader in the White House."

—David J. Arkush, Public Citizen

"Many states and cities in the West will continue to lead on clean energy because it makes economic sense, and those states that tie their fate to Scott Pruitt’s doomed strategy of delay and deny face an increasingly risky future," said Bill Corcoran, Western campaign director for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign.

And despite the frightening actions of the Trump administration, states and cities are already taking strong action to fight climate change. California last week passed the nation's strictest methane regulations, and on Monday the Maryland state senate passed a statewide fracking ban. Maryland's Republican governor has already signaled his support for the ban.

People nationwide are also ready to rise up and march for climate justice.

"Even as Trump dismantles environmental protections to shore up the fossil fuel industry, support for action to stop global warming is at an all-time high," said 350.org's Boeve. "Now it's up to communities to bring our vision of a healthy climate and a just transition to renewable energy to life."

Those who support climate action and oppose Trump's fossil fuel-friendly administration will gather for the Peoples Climate March in Washington, D.C., on April 29, as well as the March for Science in D.C. and elsewhere on April 22.

"From the upcoming congressional recess through the Peoples Climate March and beyond, we'll be putting pressure on lawmakers to defend the climate and building power to stop the fossil fuel industry for good," Boeve said.

"Now is the time to come together and build an economy where investments are made to benefit workers, communities of color, women, and low-income folks, not the fossil fuel industry," said Rae Breaux, lead climate justice organizer for the People's Action Institute, in a statement.

Public Citizen's Arkush added: "It is up to the American public to move the nation in the right direction on climate and clean energy despite the worst efforts of the so-called leader in the White House."

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'The Right Thing to Do': Kamala Harris to Co-Sponsor Bernie's Medicare for All Bill

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by Jake Johnson, staff writer, August 31, 2017

commondreams.org

'The Right Thing to Do': Kamala Harris to Co-Sponsor Bernie's Medicare for All Bill

"There's certainly momentum and energy around" single payer, Harris said

 

At a town hall Wednesday night in Oakland, California, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced that she will co-sponsor Sen. Bernie Sanders's (I-Vt.) Medicare for All legislation, which is reportedly set to be introduced mid-September. 

"Thank you Kamala Harris for your support. Let's make healthcare a right, not a privilege." 

—Sen. Bernie Sanders"I'll break some news: I intend to co-sponsor the Medicare for All bill because it's just the right thing to do," Harris, the first Senate Democrat to publicly endorse Sanders's legislation, told an audience of around 700 people at the Beebe Memorial Cathedral church.

Harris added in an interview with the Sacramento Bee that "there's certainly momentum and energy around" single payer.

The crowd reportedly "roared and cheered in applause" as Harris—who is viewed as a likely 2020 presidential candidate—made the announcement.

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Support for Medicare for All among the American public has soared since the Republicans began their effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act. A recent AP/NORC poll found that 62 percent of the public believes it is "the federal government's responsibility to make sure that all Americans have healthcare coverage."

In the face of this grassroots enthusiasm and pressure, "the Democratic Party has moved swiftly to the left on healthcare," notes Vox's Jeff Stein. "Most key 2020 contenders—including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.J.), and Corey Booker (D-N.J.)—have said they support the idea of single payer without necessarily backing Sanders' bill or an existing bill. More than half of House Democrats now support Rep. John Conyers' (D-Mich.) single-payer bill—a historic high."

In Harris's home state of California, the executive board of the Democratic Party voted unanimously earlier this week to endorse SB 562, the Healthy California Act.

"Thank you Kamala Harris for your support," Sanders wrote on Twitter as news of Harris's announcement broke. "Let's make healthcare a right, not a privilege."

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'This Is Sick': Unscripted and Unhinged Trump Reverts to Defending Neo-Nazis

Written by Super User on . Posted in Front News

by Jake Johnson, staff writer, August 15, 2017

www.commondreams.org

'This Is Sick': Unscripted and Unhinged Trump Reverts to Defending Neo-Nazis

David Duke among white supremacists thanking president for standing up for "the truth" on Charlottesville

After largely sticking to the script on Monday, President Donald Trump "showed his true colors" once again at an impromptu press conference Tuesday at Trump Tower, where he suggested that white supremacists and counter demonstrators were both to blame for the deadly violence that broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, and argued that torch-wielding neo-Nazis were merely expressing peaceful disagreement with the planned removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. 

"The president of the United States just defended neo-Nazis and blamed those who condemn their racism and hate. This is sick." 

—Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

In what many observers characterized as an "unhinged" display for a president, Trump repeatedly assured reporters that he watched the events that unfolded over the weekend "very closely," and came away with the conclusion that anti-racist protesters—who Trump claims "came charging in without a permit"—were "very violent," and argued that there were many "good people" among the white supremacists who participated in the so-called "Unite the Right" rally on Saturday.

"I think there's blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it," Trump said of the violence that left one woman dead and dozens injured.

The president also defended his delayed response to the white supremacist violence, saying he likes to "wait for the facts before commenting"—a rule that is evidently suspended when the perpetrators are thought to be Muslim.

"Making the statement when I made it was excellent," Trump said.

In an echo of Saturday, when Trump was praised by neo-Nazis for blaming "many sides" for the violence in Charlottesville, David Duke—former grand wizard of the KKK—thanked Trump following the Tuesday press conference for telling the "truth" about "leftist terrorists."

Among non-white supremacists, the reaction to Trump's comments was a mixture of horror and dismay. MSNBC commentator Chuck Todd said the press conference gave him "chills," and the Anne Frank Center called the president's remarks "nauseating" and "racist."

"This is unconscionable," concluded The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

"Trump is on camera right now defending the white supremacists at Charlottesville. Saying many were good people. No joke," wrote activist and New York Daily News writer Shaun King. "It's disgusting."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), writing shortly after the press conference came to a close, expressed similar outrage.

"The president of the United States just defended neo-Nazis and blamed those who condemn their racism and hate," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) declared on Twitter. "This is sick."

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'We Need Water!' San Juan Mayor Rips Trump's Inadequate Response to Puerto Rico Crisis

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by Jake Johnson, staff writer, October 08, 2017

www.commondreams.org

'We Need Water!' San Juan Mayor Rips Trump's Inadequate Response to Puerto Rico Crisis

"What you do when devastation hits you and there is no help on the horizon?"

 

 

 

As Trump administration officials—and President Donald Trump himself—continue to speak glowingly about ongoing recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, took to Twitter early Sunday to slam the U.S. government for painting a rosy picture that doesn't comport with the dire facts on the ground in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

Under 12 percent of Puerto Rico's power has been restored, according to government data, and many still lack access to safe drinking water—a fact Cruz was quick to highlight.

"The American people want to help," Cruz wrote, "but the U.S. government does not want to help."

    Increasingly painful to undestand the american people want to help and US Gov does not want to help. WE NEED WATER! @cnnbrk

    — Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 8, 2017

Cruz then aimed a tweet directly at Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) director Brock Long, accusing him of neglecting to respond to hospital power outages.

    Power collapses in San Juan hospital with 2 patients being transferred out. Have requested support from @FEMA_Brock NOTHING! @cnnbrk

    — Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 8, 2017

    What you do when devastation hits you and there is no help in the horizon. We will make it. pic.twitter.com/Powj7UDeFe

    — Carmen Yulín Cruz (@CarmenYulinCruz) October 8, 2017

In an interview on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, Long refused to even acknowledge criticism of his agency's sluggish response to Hurricane Maria, saying that the Trump administration has "filtered out" the San Juan mayor.

Long went on to insist that—despite abundant evidence to the contrary—the Puerto Rico recovery is progressing thanks to the Trump administration's efforts.

During his trip to Puerto Rico last week, Trump complained that the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria has "thrown our budget a little out of whack." He also said Puerto Rico's crisis is not a "real catastrophe like Katrina."

As Cruz and others desperately plead for help in the midst of Puerto Rico's humanitarian emergency, Trump is at his golf club in Virginia—the 70th day he has spent at a golf course during his presidency.

    Meanwhile, 18 days into one of the worst humanitarian emergencies in U.S. history, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico is begging for help. https://t.co/wqfL4HvqBV

    — Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) October 8, 2017

    That this blatant dereliction of duty in a time of crisis is barely making the news is an indictment of how far we've normalized the @potus.

    — Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) October 8, 2017

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'Working to Turn the Clock Back,' Sessions' DOJ Reverses Stance on Discriminatory Voting Law

Written by Super User on . Posted in Front News

by Lauren McCauley, staff writer

www.commondreams.org

'Working to Turn the Clock Back,' Sessions' DOJ Reverses Stance on Discriminatory Voting Law

Voting Rights organizations arguing on behalf of Texas voters in the case Veasey v. Abbott have vowed to fight on 'without the DOJ'

Underscoring warnings that newly anointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions will not work to protect voting rights, news broke on Monday that the Trump administration is reversing its stance on whether Texas' photo identification law was enacted with discriminatory intent.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday after the trial was postponed following the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Under former President Barack Obama, the DOJ was slated to argue that the state had intentionally discriminated against Latino and African American voters when it passed the 2011 law, SB 14, and had in November submitted (pdf) hundreds of documents supporting that claim.

Gerry Hebert, director of Voting Rights and Redistricting with the Campaign Legal Center, broke news of the DOJ's reversal on Twitter before other voting rights organizations and observers confirmed the reports.

    BREAKING NEWS! Sessions' DOJ is abandoning its 6-year old claims that TX Photo ID law was enacted w/discriminatory intent. We will fight on!

    — Gerry Hebert (@GerryHebert) February 27, 2017

    BREAKING: DOJ switching positions under Sessions, will no longer argue TX #VoterID passed to intentionally discriminate. Hearing tomorrow.

    — Brennan Center (@BrennanCenter) February 27, 2017

    As recently as 12/2016, @TheJusticeDept agreed TX voter ID law intentionally discriminated. Under AG Sessions, they're now backtracking. pic.twitter.com/9751fhSka8

    — Lawyers' Committee (@LawyersComm) February 27, 2017

    AG Sessions working to turn the clock back. #DOJ abandoning its position that #Texas #VoterID law was adopted with discriminatory purpose.

    — Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) February 27, 2017

Voting Rights organizations—including the Campaign Legal Center, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Brennan Center for Justice, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the NAACP, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund—that are arguing on behalf of Texas voters in the case Veasey v. Abbott have vowed to fight on "without the DOJ."

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Danielle Lang, deputy director of voting rights with the Campaign Legal Center, said that the DOJ "informed plaintiffs in the case that it will be filing documents to formally drop its opposition to the Texas law. She called the decision an 'extraordinary disappointment,'" the Associated Press reported.

"It's a complete 360," Lang said. "We can't make heads or tails of any factual reason for the change. There has been no new evidence that's come to light."

At the same time, the turn-around comes as no real surprise given the new AG's abysmal record on voting rights. Talking Points Memo reporter Alice Ollstein dubbed it the "Sessions Effect" while others pointed to his history of supporting voter suppression efforts.

    Jeff Sessions suppressed Black voters during his career in AL. Today, he affirmed his intention to do same as AG. We'll carry on w/o DOJ.

    — Lawyers' Committee (@LawyersComm) February 27, 2017

SB 14 is said to be "the nation's strictest voter photo ID law that leaves more than half a million eligible voters who do not have the requisite types of ID from fully participating in the democratic process."

Summarizing the extensive legal battle thus far, TPM's Ollstein reports:

    Texas enacted the strict voter ID law in 2011, and it has been tied up in court battles ever since. Civil rights groups say the policy, which accepts gun licenses but not student IDs at the polls, discriminates against low-income and minority voters who are far less likely to possess an ID and face difficulties obtaining one. In some parts of the state, the groups argued in court, people would have to drive more than 100 miles to reach the nearest office where they could obtain and ID—a burden many cannot overcome.

    The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the state from fully enforcing the law for the 2016 presidential election—a move that preserved the voting rights of more than 16,000 Texans, according to state records. Last summer, the appeals court agreed with the challengers, which then included the Justice Department, that the law had the effect of discriminating against minority voters, but it sent the question of whether the law was intentionally discriminatory back to the district court for further review after the election.

On Tuesday, the district court will hear arguments on that particular question. Nation columnist Ari Berman posited that the DOJ argument will likely mimic the 5th Circuit Court position, which found that while the law has the "effect of discriminating against blacks [and] Latinos," as Berman put it, it was "not intentionally discriminatory."

As this is the first major voting rights case the DOJ faces under Sessions, observers note the case could have implications for other cases, such as in North Carolina, in which the federal government had sided against a state voting law.

However, since Sessions' confirmation, the DOJ has reversed course on several issues, including transgender rights and the use of private prisons.

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