Trump’s Pardon of Joe Arpaio Is Deeply Disturbing

The president called a man who freely violated people’s constitutional rights a “patriot.” What does that make his victims?

By Ebony Slaughter-Johnson

ebony-slaughter-johnson

During a speech to a group of police officers in July, President Trump returned to one of his favorite themes of the campaign season: violence. “Please don’t be too nice” to the “thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon,” Trump advised the officers. Be “rough.”

The president’s endorsement of police brutality was met with applause from the officers and shock from activists and pundits alike.

Sensing the brewing backlash, the White House insisted that the president was simply making a joke. Even Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the country’s top law enforcement official — a man with his own complicated history of encouraging the worst impulses of the police — attempted to distance himself from the controversy.

joe-arpaio-trump
(Photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

Yet the president just proved that when it comes to endorsing police brutality, especially against communities of color, he’s dead serious.

For more than 20 years, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona terrorized Latino communities, harassed immigrants, and made life a living hell for prisoners in his care in order to build a reputation as “America’s toughest sheriff”.

These systematic violations of human and constitutional rights eventually landed Arpaio in legal trouble of his own. Then President Trump pardoned him.

Arpaio had been awaiting sentencing for a July conviction of criminal contempt.

Back in 2011, a federal judge ordered Arpaio to stop targeting and detaining Latinos just to inquire about their immigration status. Nevertheless, Arpaio persisted for another 18 months, insisting that his racial profiling was lawful. He emasculated inmates, forcing them to wear pink underwear, and attempted to starve them with food that was called inedible.

He tortured them, too: Beginning in the 1990s, Arpaio opened Tent City Jail, which forced inmates to live outside in the extreme Arizona heat. An untold number of inmates died.

To the law, Arpaio is a convicted criminal who built his career on denying the constitutional and human rights of the most vulnerable among us. To Trump, he’s “a patriot” who kept “Arizona safe.”

“Throughout his time as sheriff,” a White House statement bleated, “Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.” In other words, the innocent immigrants who were harassed, and the prisoners who were tortured, were the real criminals.

Trump promised to be the “law and order candidate” during his campaign. He codified this promise once he became president in the “Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community” section of the White House website. “The Trump administration will be a law and order administration,” it echoed.

For the president, it seems, “standing up” for law enforcement includes allowing officers to subvert the rule of law to commit acts of brutality with impunity. Empowering law enforcement to “keep our streets free of crime and violence” means supporting racial profiling. And “law and order” only applies to some, namely those that support the president.

With Trump’s pardon of Arpaio, a message has been sent: When it comes to police brutality of the kind Arpaio perpetuated for decades, the Trump administration won’t simply be complicit in it. It will promote it.

And that’s nothing to joke about.


Ebony Slaughter-Johnson is a freelance writer whose work covers history, race, and the criminalization of poverty. Distributed by OtherWords.org

Trump USA’s Fast-Forward Decline in the World

“Donald Trump has pressed ‘fast-forward’ on the decline of the United States.” – Chris Uhlmann

This is the most brutal and succinct analysis of Donald Trump, the man and the scripted, fake President*. Take 2 minutes and watch this. Then, pick your jaw up and wipe your tears.

Source:  Read the full article at Crooks & Liars

Gutting Climate Protections Won’t Bring Back Coal Jobs

Trump is using sympathetic out-of-work miners as a cover for what is really just a handout to dirty industry.

— by

Jill Richardson

When Barack Obama announced the Clean Power Plan, Scientific American used his own words to criticize it for not going far enough.

“There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change,” Obama said. “The science tells us we have to do more.”

Scientific American analyzed the Clean Power Plan and agreed, concluding that Obama’s plan didn’t go far enough, and would fail to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Now, Trump is dismantling even that. Obama’s insufficient effort to address climate change is gone with a stroke of Trump’s pen.

The plan was to go into effect in 2022, reducing pollution in three ways. First, by improving the efficiency of coal-fired power plants. Second, by swapping coal for cleaner natural gas. And third, by replacing fossil fuel energy with clean, renewable energy sources like solar and wind.

Old Man Miner
ehoyer/Flickr

Trump claims the plan puts coal miners out of work. But it hadn’t even been implemented yet. In reality, cheap natural gas and the use of machines instead of people to mine coal are responsible for putting far more miners out of work.

In other words, Trump is using sympathetic out-of-work miners as a cover for what is really just a handout to dirty industry.

Meanwhile, Trump is cutting job training programs for coal country. Given that, it’s hard to believe he cares at all about jobs for coal miners.

And, with a surge in cases of fatal black lung disease among miners in Appalachia, anyone who truly cared about miners would preserve the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which helps coal miners get black lung benefits.

In short, Trump’s killing of the Clean Power Plan is a handout to dirty industry with no regard for the well-being of coal miners. And it’s putting us even further behind in our efforts to leave the next generation a habitable planet.

A better leader would find a way to promote clean forms of energy while simultaneously creating good jobs for Americans. Of course, that’s exactly what Obama’s one-time “green jobs” czar Van Jones called for, and the Republicans hated him.

But the fact of the matter is that climate-smart policies create jobs. They create jobs retrofitting buildings, manufacturing solar panels and wind turbines, innovating to create more efficient batteries, and discovering the best way to upgrade our power grid.

It seems that, if we installed a wind turbine near the White House, Trump could single handedly provide the nation with clean energy from all of the bluster coming out of his mouth.

In the meantime, catastrophic climate change is as much of a crisis as ever, and the clock is ticking.


OtherWords columnist Jill Richardson is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It. Distributed by OtherWords.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”
— by Nika Knight, staff writer at CommonDreams

Smog envelopes the Salt Lake City skyline in November 2016. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/cc)

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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‘Spectacular Betrayal’ as Trump Hands Economy ‘Back Over to Wall Street’

‘The Wall Street bankers against whom Trump ran are making policy now,’ says Public Citizen
— by Deirdre Fulton, staff writer at Common Dreams

Executive orders seen as “a cave-in to the power of Wall Street and the financial lobby.” (Photo: Dave Center/flickr/cc)

President Donald Trump is handing the U.S. economy “back over to Wall Street” on Friday, with a regulatory rollback that critics say could put consumers and the financial system at risk.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump signed executive orders Friday “establish[ing] a framework for scaling back the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law” and rolling back an Obama-era regulation requiring advisers on retirement accounts to work in the best interests of their clients. That rule was set to go into effect in April.

Trump signed the orders after meeting with bank CEOs.

“The Wall Street bankers against whom Trump ran are making policy now,” said Robert Weissman, president of watchdog group Public Citizen.

“The worst job-destroying economic crisis since the Great Depression was directly caused by deregulation and regulatory failure,” he said. “Now the president who ran on a jobs-creation platform announces that he aims to slash the modest measures put in place to prevent a recurrence of the crisis. If Trump succeeds in rolling back Dodd-Frank rules he will rush the country straightforward into another job-killing financial crisis. This may be the most spectacular betrayal yet by the president of his voters, as he shunts aside their concerns and pushes forward the agenda of his cronies and the well-connected.”

Furthermore, White House National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, who formerly served as president of Goldman Sachs, told the Journal that Friday’s memoranda were merely “a table setter for a bunch of stuff that is coming.”

Also in the administration’s cross-hairs are the  (FSOC)—which has the ability to designate and rein in giant financial institutions that are “systemically important” to the global economy—and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), which has cracked down on predatory payday lenders; set new standards for the mortgage market; and recovered and sent back billions of dollars for consumers harmed by illegal practices of credit card companies, banks, and debt collectors. Both entities were established by Dodd-Frank.

Bloomberg described the orders as “the most aggressive steps yet by Trump to loosen regulations in the financial services industry and come after he has sought to stock his administration with veterans of the industry in key positions.”

In addition to Cohn, Trump’s cabinet includes Goldman alums Steven Mnuchin, the nominee for treasury secretary, and chief strategist Steve Bannon, who worked at the institution in the 1980s. Wall Street lawyer Jay Clayton, Trump’s pick to run the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), also has ties to Goldman Sachs.

Former Wall Street worker Alexis Goldstein laid out the implications of Trump’s orders in a series of tweets on Friday:

Meanwhile, in an op-ed Friday, Lisa Donner of Americans for Financial Reform and Ed Mierzwinski of U.S. PIRG focus specifically on the CFPB, saying any attempt to “defang” the agency “will be seen for what it is: a cave-in to the power of Wall Street and the financial lobby. Hollowing out the CFPB would be terrible for American consumers and families, hugely increasing the ability of banks and financial companies to write their own rules and control their own regulators.”

In a separate statement after Trump signed the orders, Donner declared: “Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs seems to be taking over financial regulation in the United States, trying to make it easier for them and other big banks like Wells Fargo to steal from their customers and destabilize the economy. That is a betrayal of the promises Trump made to stand up to Wall Street. If they succeed it will have painful consequences.”

And Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who on Friday released a report (pdf) detailing the kinds of prizes and kickbacks currently offered to retirement advisers for selling certain financial products—the very conflicts of interest that the so-called fiduciary rule seeks to eliminate—blasted Trump’s orders.

“The Wall Street bankers and lobbyists whose greed and recklessness nearly destroyed this country may be toasting each other with champagne,” she said in a statement, “but the American people have not forgotten the 2008 financial crisis—and they will not forget what happened today.”


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Trump to State Dept. Officials Objecting to Muslim Ban: ‘Get with the Program or… Go’

If Monday’s White House press briefing is any indication, internal dissent will not be tolerated under Trump
— by Jon Queally, staff writer at Common Dreams

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday said that State Department officials who don’t like President Trump’s Muslim ban can “either get with the program or get out.” (Photo: C-SPAN)

First of all, those objecting to a White House executive order which sowed “chaos, heartbreak, and resistance” at airports across the United States over the weekend are blowing things “out of proportion.” And secondly, those inside the government who oppose President Donald Trump’s blanket ban on guests, immigrants, and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries have just two choices at this point: get in line or get lost.

Those were the two key takeaways from remarks by White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday afternoon when asked to account for the controversial ban and a draft dissent cable put forth by State Departments employees, and obtained by news outlets, officially challenging the order.

The internal memo (pdf)—which is marked “sensitive but unclassified” and that dozens of career employees have or are expected to sign as a formal registration of dissent—argues that the hastily ordered ban “runs counter to core American values of nondiscrimination, fair play, and extending a warm welcome to foreign visitors and immigrants.”

As of Monday morning, reports the Washington Post, “edits and signatures were still being collected in advance of submitting the memo to State Department leadership.”

At an early afternoon press briefing, Spicer said the ban imposed by Trump has been “blown way out of proportion” and dismissed those challenging it, including any State Department officials who might back the dissent cable.

“I think they should either get with the program or they can go,” Spicer responded when asked if the administration was aware of its circulation and what he thought of those who might back its message.

Watch:

Beyond the core moral objections, the letter from the career diplomats argues that Trump’s ban is actually counterproductive in terms of its claimed purpose, which is to keep the American people more safe. According to the document:

Despite the Executive Order’s focus on them, a vanishingly small number of terror attacks on U.S. soil have been committed by foreign nationals who  recently entered the United States on an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa.  Rather,  the overwhelming majority of attacks have been committed by native-born or naturalized U.S. citizens—individuals who have been living in the United States for decades, if not since birth. In the isolated incidents of foreign nationals entering the U.S. on a visa to commit acts of terror, the nationals have come from a range of  countries, including many (such as Pakistan or Saudi Arabia) which are not  covered by the Executive Order.

“We do not need to place a blanket ban that keeps 220 million people—men,  women, and children—from entering the United States to protect our homeland. We  do not need to alienate entire societies to stay safe,” the memo concludes. “And we do not need to sacrifice  our reputation as a nation which is open and welcoming to protect our families.  It  is well within our reach to create a visa process which is more secure, which  reflects our American values, and which would make the Department proud.”

Buckle Up–It’s Gonna Be a Bumpy Ride!

Buckle up folks, we’re screwed…

On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for

  • the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programs.

On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for

  • the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
  • the Minority Business Development Agency.
  • the Economic Development Administration.
  • the International Trade Administration.
  • the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
  • the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
  • the Legal Services Corporation.
  • the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.
  • the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the DOJ.
  • the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
  • the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • the Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability.
  • the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
  • for the Office of Fossil Energy.

On January 20th, 2017,

  • DT ordered all regulatory powers of all federal agencies frozen.
  • DT ordered the National Parks Service to stop using social media after RTing factual, side by side photos of the crowds for the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations.
  • roughly 230 protestors were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics. Their cell phones were harvested for all contacts and messages (including those of reporters).
  • a member of the International Workers of the World was shot in the stomach at an anti-fascist protest in Seattle. He remains in critical condition.

On January 21st, 2017,

  • DT brought a group of 40 cheerleaders to a meeting with the CIA to cheer for him during a speech that consisted almost entirely of framing himself as the victim of dishonest press.
  • White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference largely to attack the press for accurately reporting the size of attendance at the inaugural festivities, saying that the inauguration had the largest audience of any in history, “period.”

On January 22nd, 2017,

  • White House advisor Kellyanne
    Conway defended Spicer’s lies as “alternative facts” on national television news.
  • DT appeared to blow a kiss to director James Comey during a meeting with the FBI, and then opened his arms in a gesture of strange, paternal affection, before hugging him with a pat on the back.

On January 23rd, 2017,

  • DT reinstated the global gag order, which defunds international organizations that even mention abortion as a medical option.
    On January 23rd, 2017, Spicer said that the US will not tolerate China’s expansion onto islands in the South China Sea, essentially threatening war with China.
  • DT repeated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing him the popular vote.
  • it was announced that the man who shot the anti-fascist protester in Seattle was released without charges, despite turning himself in.

On January 24th, 2017,

  • Spicer reiterated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing DT the popular vote.
  • DT tweeted a picture from his personal Twitter account of a photo he says depicts the crowd at his inauguration (in sepia tone) and will hang in the White House press room. The photo is curiously dated January 21st, 2017, the day AFTER the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March, the largest inauguration related protest in history.
  • the EPA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to freeze all grants and contracts.the USDA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to stop publishing any papers or research. All communication with the press would also have to be authorized and vetted by the White House.
  • HR7, a bill that would prohibit federal funding not only to abortion service providers, but to ANY insurance coverage, including Medicaid and employer healthcare plans, from providing abortion coverage, went to the floor of the House for a vote.
  • Director of the Department of Health and Human Service nominee Tom Price characterized federal guidelines on transgender equality as “absurd.”
  • DT ordered the resumption of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the North Dakota state congress considers a bill that would legalize hitting and killing protestors with cars if they are on roadways.
  • DT ordered the construction of the KXL pipeline which will be built atop a major aquifer utilized by the breadbasket of our nation. And on that same day, dual leaks let loose in the existing pipeline with two major spills.
  • it was discovered that police officers had used confiscated cell phones to search the emails and messages of the 230 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges for protesting on January 20th, including lawyers and journalists whose email accounts contain privileged information of clients and sources.

In case you hadn’t realized it yet, elections do have serious consequences.  This last one was exceptional and NOT in a good way! The carnage continues.

Engel Statement on Trump Global Gag Rule

U.S. House of Representatives
Committee on Foreign Affairs
Ranking Member Eliot L. Engel (D)
“I will make every effort to defend women and girls worldwide against this administration’s harmful anti-woman agenda.”

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement regarding President Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule:

“This morning, president trump took aim at women around the world by putting in place his Global Gag Rule, which will turn back the clock on years of progress by causing more unintended pregnancies, more maternal and newborn deaths, and more unsafe abortions.

“This policy forces health-care providers to cut services for women, increase fees, and even close clinics. Often, those providers are the only ones who offer even basic health care to poor and remote areas.  By prohibiting caregivers from providing information on essential care, President Trump’s Global Gag Rule breaks the vital trust shared by patients and providers at the expense of good health care.

“I am deeply disturbed that the president has taken this devastating action just days into his administration. As Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I will make every effort to defend women and girls worldwide against this administration’s harmful anti-woman agenda.”

Background:

Under president trump’s Global Gag Rule, foreign NGOs must choose between receiving U.S. funding or providing women with life-saving, comprehensive reproductive health care. As a condition of receiving U.S. foreign assistance under trump’s rule, NGOs may not provide legal abortions or counseling for women seeking abortions, even if the activities are funded privately. The trump Rule also bars NGOs from educating the public on the significant dangers that unsafe abortion poses.

On Day One, Trump’s WhiteHouse.gov Scrubs Every Mention of Combating Climate Change

New administration’s official site offers ‘America First Energy Plan’ which boasts ‘direct obstacle to a livable future’ by promoting fracking and coal

Trump’s America First Energy Plan isn’t a plan at all, said Sierra Club head Michael Brune, but “a polluter wishlist that will make our air and water dirtier, our climate and international relations more unstable, and our kids sicker.” (Photo: Julia DeSantis via Climate J20/flickr/cc)

Soon after Donald Trump took his oath as the 45th President of the United States, the new White House web page for his administration went up. Among the key differences from the previous administration’s—the lack of any reference to the threat of climate change.

While climate change was listed as a top issue on the Obama White House official site, the new page now lists ‘America First Energy Plan’ as among the top six issues.

The new page states: “For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule” That is the only use of “climate” on the page.

WH Energy page just minutes before new Administration took office

Screenshot from the new Trump administration's White House site

Screenshot from the new Trump administration’s White House site The Climate Action Plan refers to Obama-era climate regulations, and the Waters of the U.S. rule, as the Washington Post explains, “is an EPA action to protect not only the nation’s largest waterways but smaller tributaries that critics think should fall under the jurisdiction of states rather than the federal government,” a rollback of which could “end up benefiting some Trump-related businesses.”

The “energy plan” page adds that the new administration “will embrace the shale oil and gas revolution” and is “committed to clean coal technology,” referring to carbon capture and storage—a costly technological process that has so far proven a failure.

The page adds: “President Trump will refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water”—though it stands to be “every polluter’s ally” if Trump’s pick to head the agency, Scott Pruitt, is confirmed.

The Obama White House site, in contrast, listed climate change as a top issue, stating: “President Obama believes that no challenge poses a greater threat to our children, our planet, and future generations than climate change.”

Addressing that magnitude, Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, said, “Minutes after he was sworn in, any illusion that Trump would act in the best interests of families in this country as President were wiped away by a statement of priorities that constitute an historic mistake on one of the key crises facing our planet and an assault on public health.”

Rather than a plan, Brune said it’s a “polluter wishlist that will make our air and water dirtier, our climate and international relations more unstable, and our kids sicker.”

At the same time, the pledges for more fossil fuel extraction are not at all surprising, said 350.org executive director May Boeve. “Trump’s energy plan is par for the course of the President’s climate denial, but it’s nonetheless alarming for the movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground.”

“Fulfilling this plan would not only set back years of progress we’ve made towards protecting the climate, but would undoubtedly worsen the devastating impacts of the climate crisis, from rising sea levels to extreme weather. This is not a plan for a brighter future—it’s a direct obstacle to a livable future, and we will do everything we can to resist it,” she said.

As New York magazine notes, also missing from the new White House site are sections on LGBTQ equality, civil rights, and healthcare.

In His First Hour—His First Gut Punch to the Middle Class

“Today’s action is all the proof we need to know whose side the Trump administration is on”

President Donald Trump got right to work on Friday following his inauguration. (Screenshot: CNN)

About an hour after President Donald Trump was sworn in on Friday, his administration suspended indefinitely a scheduled cut in mortgage insurance premiums—effectively raising costs for middle-class borrowers by about $500 a year.

The drop in rate, which was announced January 9 and supposed to go into effect on January 27, had been lauded as an opportunity to make homeownership more accessible to an estimated one million first-time and low-to-middle-income borrowers.

“Donald Trump’s inaugural speech proclaimed he will govern for the people, instead of the political elite. But minutes after giving this speech, he gave Wall Street a big gift at the expense of everyday people.”
—Liz Ryan Murray, People’s Action

“After four straight years of growth and with sufficient reserves on hand to meet future claims, it’s time for [the Federal Housing Administration or FHA] to pass along some modest savings to working families,” said former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro when the plan was announced.

That opportunity may now be lost.

CNBC described Friday’s move as “one of the Trump [administration’s] first orders,” and the Department of Housing and Urban Development sent out a release (pdf) dated Friday announcing the suspension of the rule “effective immediately.”

However, incoming press secretary Sean Spicer said the newly sworn-in president signed just three orders on Friday: a waiver allowing his defense secretary pick, Marine Gen. James Mattis, to lead the Pentagon; his formal cabinet nominations to the U.S. Senate; and the proclamation of a “National Day of Patriotism”—with no mention of the scheduled mortgage rule. 

Regardless of how the suspension was implemented, housing advocates decried the decision.

“President Trump campaigned as the candidate who would stand with the forgotten American worker, but of all of the actions he could have taken on his first day in office, it’s telling that his administration has moved to instead make it more expensive for Americans to buy a home this year and beyond,” said Sarah Edelman, director of housing policy at the Center for American Progress. “With mortgage interest rates already on the rise, reversing the FHA’s move to cut insurance premiums in fact puts the dream of homeownership farther out of reach for millions of hardworking Americans.”

“President Trump campaigned as the candidate who would stand with the forgotten American worker, but of all of the actions he could have taken on his first day in office, it’s telling that his administration has moved to instead make it more expensive for Americans to buy a home this year and beyond.”
—Sarah Edelman, Center for American Progress

Indeed, Politico reports, “[t]he National Association of Realtors said the Trump administration’s reversal could keep as many as 40,000 would-be homebuyers out of the market this year.”

Furthermore, David Dayen writes at The Intercept, “by making FHA loans more expensive, traditional bank mortgages become more competitive. Banks typically earn more in profit from of their own products than from FHA loans. So this initial Trump policy also generates a competitive advantage for mortgage lenders to make more money for their business.”

In other words, declared Liz Ryan Murray, policy director for national grassroots advocacy group People’s Action, the move is “a windfall for Wall Street” that contradicts Trump’s populist rhetoric.

“Donald Trump’s inaugural speech proclaimed he will govern for the people, instead of the political elite,” she said. “But minutes after giving this speech, he gave Wall Street a big gift at the expense of everyday people. Trump may talk a populist game, but policies like this make life better for hedge fund managers and big bankers like his nominee for Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, not for everyday people.”

Edelman added: “So-called reckless homeowners didn’t cause the housing crisis—but predatory lenders who tricked consumers into mortgages with exploding interest rates and other harmful features did. More than seven million Americans lost their homes during the foreclosure crisis, largely because of predatory mortgages and incompetent servicing practices. As we were reminded yesterday at Steve Mnuchin’s Senate confirmation hearing, Trump’s own Treasury secretary nominee made millions from the crash, and today’s action is all the proof we need to know whose side the Trump administration is on.”

She and other observers weighed in on the implications of Trump’s Hour One action online:


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