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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 27th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Trade Denialism Continues: Trade Really Did Kill Manufacturing Jobs.

Monday, March 27, 2017
By Dean Baker, Truthout | Op-Ed


There have been a flood of opinion pieces and news stories in recent weeks wrongly telling people that it was not trade that led to the loss of manufacturing jobs in recent years, but rather automation. This means that all of those people who are worried about trade deficits costing jobs are simply being silly. The promulgators of the automation story want everyone to stop talking about trade and instead focus on education, technology or whatever other item they can throw out as a distraction.

This “automation rather than trade story” is the equivalent of global warming denialism for the well-educated. And its proponents deserve at least as much contempt as global warming deniers.

The basic story on automation, trade and jobs is fairly straightforward. “Automation” is also known as “productivity growth,” and it is not new. We have been seeing gains in productivity in manufacturing ever since we started manufacturing things.

Productivity gains mean that we can produce more output with the same amount of work. Before the trade deficit exploded in the last decade, increases in productivity were largely offset by increases in output, making it so the total jobs in manufacturing did not change much.

Imagine that productivity increased by 20 percent over the course of a decade, roughly its average rate of growth. If manufacturing output also increases by 20 percent, then we have the same number of jobs at the end of the decade as at the beginning. This is pretty much what happened before the trade deficit exploded.

This is easy to see in the data. In December of 1970 the US had 17.3 million manufacturing jobs. Thirty years later, in December of 2000, it had 17.2 million manufacturing jobs. We had enormous growth in manufacturing productivity over this period, yet we had very little change in total employment.

To be clear, manufacturing did decline as a share of total employment. Total employment nearly doubled from 1970 to 2000, which means that the share of manufacturing employment in total employment fell by almost half. People were increasingly spending their money on services rather than manufactured foods.

However what we saw in the years after 2000 was qualitatively different. The number of manufacturing jobs fell by 3.4 million, more than 20 percent, between December 2000 and December of 2007. Note that this is before the collapse of the housing bubbled caused the recession. Manufacturing employment dropped by an additional 2.3 million in the recession, although it has since regained roughly half of these jobs.

The extraordinary plunge in manufacturing jobs in the years 2000 to 2007 was due to the explosion of the trade deficit, which peaked at just under 6 percent of GDP ($1.2 trillion in today’s economy) in 2005 and 2006. This was first and foremost due to the growth of imports from China during these years, although we ran large trade deficits with other countries as well.

There really is very little ambiguity in this story. Does anyone believe that if we had balanced trade it wouldn’t mean more manufacturing jobs? Do they think we could produce another $1.2 trillion in manufacturing output without employing any workers?

It is incredible how acceptable it is for our elites to lie about trade rather than deal with the issue candidly. The most blatant example of this dishonesty is a December, 2007 Washington Post editorial that praised NAFTA and, incidentally, criticized the Democratic presidential candidate for calling for renegotiating the trade deal.

The editorial absurdly asserted:

“Mexico’s gross domestic product, now more than $875 billion, has more than quadrupled since 1987.”

For GDP to quadruple over the course of two decades, it would have to sustain a 7 percent average annual rate of growth. China has managed to do this and almost no one else, certainly not Mexico. According to the IMF, Mexico’s GDP grew by 83 percent over this period.

While it is striking that the Washington Post’s editorial board would have been so ill-informed as to make such a huge mistake in their original editorial, the really incredible part of the story is that they still have not corrected the online version almost a decade later. After all, a reader could stumble on the GDP quadrupling claim and think that it is actually true.

This level of dishonesty separates trade out from most other areas of public debate. There can be grounds for honest people to differ on many issues, but there is less of a basis for asserting Mexico’s GDP quadrupled during this period than there is for denying global warming. It is unfortunate that the proponents of recent trade deals feel they have to be this dishonest to push their agenda.

——————————-
Dean Baker is a macroeconomist and codirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. He previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University. He is a regular Truthout columnist and a member of Truthout’s Board of Advisers.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 25th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

From AlterNet:

We are very concerned that authoritarianism is taking root in the U.S. Aggressive people with destructive agendas are in charge, defunding government and eroding our rights, while trying to stamp out truth itself.

In the coming year, we at AlterNet will work harder, be more creative, and take more risks in the face of the authoritarianism that is on our doorstep.

AlterNet is a 501(c)(3) non-profit media organization.

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Trump Is a Conservative Only by Accident?
Trump’s conservative beliefs are determined by his character disorder.

By Alfie Kohn / AlterNet March 24, 2017

Perhaps you’ve heard it said that Donald Trump is all about ego, not ideology. The reason many conservatives were so slow to warm up to him, on this view, is that they realized he’s not really one of them. He is driven not by any political or philosophical principle but by his desperate need for attention and approval. Thus, as one columnist suggested hopefully after the election, he may “tilt in whatever direction, and toward whichever constituency, is the surest source of applause.”

If that were literally true, if Trump were a demagnetized compass needle, then it it is just by chance that he is in fact governing from the extreme right, that the American Conservative Union pronounced his cabinet “the most conservative of any Republican president.” And instead of slashing funding for social needs and the environment in order to funnel an additional $54 billion to the military, he might just as well have done the reverse.

Merely to propose this scenario, though, is to expose its implausibility. And while the man’s wealth may help to explain his animosity toward redistribution and regulation, it appears something else is going on. That something else is his psychological profile. It does indeed affect the direction in which his needle points, but it is not politically neutral. Put differently, Trump’s conservative beliefs don’t simply exist alongside what many have described as his character disorder. Rather, those beliefs are determined by it—and therefore far from accidental.


It is true that before he ran for his very first public office—the presidency of the United States—Donald Trump showed no particular interest in various issues that matter to social conservatives. Indeed, he supported abortion rights and at one point identified as a Democrat. But the basic tilt to the right was already there in many other respects: his outspoken support for capital punishment, his attitudes about race and his worshipful regard for power. More than a quarter-century ago, he was characteristically emphatic in declaring that he believes “very strongly in extreme military strength” and that he “wouldn’t trust anyone… [including] our allies.”

Trump has an indiscriminate need to triumph over people and to construe all relationships (between individuals or between groups) as adversarial. Life for him is not about succeeding but about doing so at someone else’s expense. As a rule, such competitiveness simultaneously reflects and reinforces a fundamental distrust of others. People who need to come out on top are desperately trying to prove their own worth, but victories fail to slake that thirst. Competition exacerbates the insecurity that gave rise to it, so the more they win, the more they need to win.

For most people who fit this profile, struggles for dominance take place in corporate boardrooms or on playing fields. But when such an individual finds himself in politics, the psychological need may express itself in militarism and a preoccupation with law and order. Thus, it makes perfect sense that Trump has chosen to surround himself with generals (whom he has appointed even to nonmilitary posts) and incidentally, billionaires. When you fish in these pools, you don’t catch many progressives.

“We have to start winning wars again,” Trump said recently, to justify swelling the military budget. He gives the appearance, as one journalist put it, of being “fascinated with raw military might”—a fascination best viewed through a psychological lens. This is someone who needs to feel powerful, to humiliate those around him, to puff up his masculinity—which in turn helps to explain his view of women as prizes to be won, objects to be admired (primarily for their physical features) and even groped at will.

Trump’s psychology also meshes perfectly with his commitment to nationalism, which is “different from isolationism” in that it “demands engagement but on ruthlessly competitive terms.” This springs not only from his need to beat those he encounters but also from a deep-seated fear of the Other. Hence his need to demonize immigrants, to paint all Muslims as evil. The (racist) policies reflect the (pathological) psychology. The same man who is a self-described germophobe—who says he feels “much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible”—talks endlessly of building a beautiful wall to keep out foreigners. This is a textbook case study.

One of the defining characteristics of narcissistic personality disorder, from which many observers believe Trump suffers, is an inability to empathize. This is consistent with his competitiveness, his need to defeat others, his taunting and bullying. He doesn’t try to understand why someone might be criticizing his decisions or questioning his actions; he simply flies into a rage. This absence of empathy—as well as sympathy and the capacity for what psychologists call “perspective taking” (the capacity to imagine others’ points of view)—might help us to make sense of his enthusiasm for cutting social welfare programs.

The general premise that certain personality features may underlie political positions is not new. A 2003 review of multiple studies, featuring 88 groups of subjects from a dozen countries, found that specific psychological characteristics were associated with political conservatism. Among them: an intolerance of uncertainty and ambiguity, anxiety about death and loss, and low scores on a well-studied attribute known as “openness to experience.”

Another fascinating study even suggested that certain personality features observed in very young children predicted their political beliefs 20 years later. Preschool children who were described as “feeling easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and relatively over-controlled and vulnerable” were more likely to be politically conservative at age 23.

If certain personality features are correlated with political views, then a more extreme psychological profile may be correlated with more extreme politics. Consider that the clearest examples of truly narcissistic heads of state tend to be dictators. Democracy, after all, involves checks and balances; it requires collaboration, compromise, consensus. The capacity to engage in such processes isn’t merely outside of Trump’s skill set, it’s beyond what his psychological makeup allows.

A dangerous, self-reinforcing loop is created as other autocrats in the world recognize in him a kindred spirit and give him the approval he desperately needs. (Recent headline: “Authoritarian Leaders Greet Trump as One of Their Own.”) By contrast, democratic heads of state are put off by his petulance and peremptory demands, and since anything less than adulation makes him livid, he reacts the only way he can, with insults, taunts and vindictiveness.


It’s not quite accurate to say that Trump is all about ego rather than political convictions. He has political convictions all right, but they’re defined by his ego. That’s why it’s so important to understand how this man is damaged in order to understand the damage he can do.

———————————
Alfie Kohn  www.alfiekohn.org) is the author of 14 books about human behavior and education, including No Contest: The Case Against Competition and Punished by Rewards.

===========================================================

Ezekiel J. Emanuel – The Washingon Post
Cutting essential benefits doesn’t save costs — it just shifts them to families
It would be shortsighted, anti-family and illogical.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 25th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Where We Drill, We Spill: Commemorating Exxon Valdez

By Franz Matzner, Natural Resources Defense Council
24 March 17

Twenty eight years ago today the world experienced a massive wake-up call on the hazards and harms of oil spills when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker split open and poured oil into Alaskan waters.

At the time, images of oil coated wildlife and a devastated ecosystem in one of the world’s most delicate, iconic and majestic environments drew global attention. Today, oil still lurks under the surface of Prince William Sound, impairing wildlife and human lives.

Eleven years later, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers and spreading millions of gallons of crude throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

Gulf communities are still trying to recover from this devastating blow to local economies and human health. Years of legal challenge and delay by the oil industry meant those least able to absorb the blow to their way of life abandoned and foundering.

In the aftermath of the BP disaster, a non-partisan, blue ribbon commission was established to provide recommendations to mitigate the risk of future events, providing hope to communities already exposed to oil drilling that finally their voices would be heard.

Despite these consensus proposals, adequate safety reforms have never been formulated, let alone implemented and even the progress that has been made is at risk.

As I write, crude oil is flowing into the Mississippi and a gas leak in Alaska’s Cook Inlet is ongoing—and has been for more than three months. Sea ice is making repairs impossible, underscoring again the unique challenges of oil and gas exploration in Alaska’s frozen and tumultuous waters.

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EcoWatch @EcoWatch
3 Months and Counting: Pipeline Leaks Natural Gas Into Alaska’s Cook Inlet ow.ly/AJCX30a1p3F @kxlblockade @TarSandsAction
3:50 AM – 18 Mar 2017
Photo published for “This dangerous leak could stop immediately if regulators did their job and shut down this rickety..

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“This dangerous leak could stop immediately if regulators did their job and shut down this rickety… Pipeline Leaks 210,000 Cubic Feet of Natural Gas Per Day Into Alaska’s Cook Inlet
 ecowatch.com

100 100 Retweets 59 59 likes
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But it’s not just the major, headline dominating spills that are degrading our environment and impacting human health. Wired reported in December that there are about 30,000 oil spills per year in U.S. waters, most of which are in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s being killed, literally, by a thousand cuts. Nor are spills the only concern. Ongoing operations produce other pollutants, including toxic metals and carcinogens, that are dumped into the ocean. A toxic mix of metals, fluids and other drilling bi-products harm marine ecosystems and are suspected in increasing mercury levels in some fish populations. To say nothing of the infrastructure development that can rip apart habitats and the industries that rely on them.

Adding insult to injury, the agencies responsible for managing our publicly owned ocean resources have been identified by the Government Accountability Office as “high risk.” The Government Accountability Office is a nonpartisan “congressional watchdog” that seeks to identify performance issues and inefficiencies in the federal government. Its high risk designation, granted to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement in 2016, indicates that the agency charged with limiting offshore oil spills is not doing its job effectively. Just this week, in fact, the Government Accountability Office released a report expanding on its findings about the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. And the House Oversight committee held a hearing on oil well safety, which focused on that report and further exposed the lack of meaningful safety measures as well as the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s significant lack of staffing and resources.

Fortunately, at the close of the previous administration, bold actions were taken to preserve and protect large swaths of our Arctic and Atlantic oceans from future oil disasters. These decisions came in direct response to the broad and unwavering call from all corners of the country to stop the expansion of oil drilling into these public waters and recognized that the rapid growth of clean energy means there is simply no need to expose our still oil-free beaches, local economies and climate to the inherent harms of offshore drilling.

This victory is something that should be built on. Yet the Trump administration’s oil cabinet and its allies in Congress have instead launched a systematic attack to do precisely the opposite, opening the door for these vital oceans owned by all American’s to be sold and exploited at the behest of select private oil companies.

The very first piece of legislation signed by President Trump was a gift to Exxon and global despots, designed to make it easier for oil, gas and coal companies to bribe foreign governments without accountability.

The Trump “starvation” budget would axe funding to the already beleaguered and under resourced agencies tasked with managing oil drilling safety risks, effectively taking what few cops are left off the beat.

And to complete the package, legislation is being proposed in the House and Senate that would open the door to a radical expansion of offshore drilling. One proposal would overturn recently finalized drilling safety standards specifically designed to meet recommendations made by the Oil Spill Commission.

Draft legislation being circulated by Rep. Bratt (R-VA) and another bill introduced by Sen. Cassidy (R-LA) would remove current permanent protections in the Arctic Ocean, along the Atlantic coast and in Alaska’s Bristol Bay, bar any future President from providing such protections and gut the underlying law that ensures public input into how public resources are utilized.

Extreme by any measure, these legislative proposals should be rejected, even by those who do not oppose offshore drilling. It is simply unconscionable to discount the documented safety, environmental and health risks that come with offshore drilling and to put in place a system designed to exclude the coastal residents most in harm’s way, flout the science of climate change and flatly reject the basic principles of responsible management of our public lands and oceans.

Fortunately, across the country millions of concerned citizens, communities, businesses and local residents are ready to stand strong against this attempt to rob future generations of our pristine beaches, healthy oceans and a stable climate.

Urge your Members of Congress to oppose Big Oil’s plan to bring Big Spills back to our beaches. Ask them to instead cosponsor legislation to protect our oceans, communities and climate. You can reach your Representative and Senators through the Capitol switchboard, at (202) 224-3121.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 24th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Success: Defeat for Trump and Paul Ryan – Obamacare stays the law of the land.

Ryan: We came close but we didn’t have enough votes so for now Obamacare stays the law of the land. Republicans will move on to other items on the agenda.

Trump: typical Trump. Obamacare will explode and the democrats will be blamed and they will still come to us and beg to replace Obamacare. Bad things will happen to Obamacare and to the American people, but that’s because we had no support from the democrats. He was also mostly disappointed by the conservative Republicans who did not support his bill.


The pundits say Trump is delusional: They also say those are the worst first 100 days of any President in modern times.

——————-


California’s vow to reduce auto pollution may be setting up a full-out war with Trump
From smog to greenhouse gases, state regulators refuse to yield as legal battles loom.

By CHRIS MEGERIAN

MAR 24, 2017 | REPORTING FROM RIVERSIDE

Wielding the same authority created decades ago to fight smog, California regulators on Friday moved forward with tough new pollution-reduction requirements for automakers selling cars in the state.

The rules set escalating targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2022 through 2025, and officials are planning tougher steps after that. There’s also a requirement for automakers to sell more zero-emission vehicles in the state, with a goal of 1 million on the road by 2025.

The decision to push ahead with cuts to greenhouse gas emissions came even as President Trump has begun rolling back federal rules intended to battle global warming over the next several years.

California has a long history of pushing the envelope to reduce tailpipe pollution, and the latest move signals the state is prepared to do battle with Trump’s White House.

“We’re going to press on,” Mary Nichols, California’s top emissions regulator, said during a meeting of the Air Resources Board in Riverside.

The state’s rules on greenhouse gases were written in partnership with former President Obama’s administration, creating a single national standard for new vehicles.

But with Trump in the White House and conservatives in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state and federal regulators have started drifting in separate directions. The divergence could reignite historic conflicts that once raged in Sacramento, Washington and Detroit.

Mary Nichols chairs the Air Resources Board meeting held in Riverside.

Automakers have chafed at the rules imposed by the Obama administration. However, they fear returning to an era where they needed to build two versions of their vehicles — a cleaner, more expensive one for sale in California and a standard model available everywhere else.

“We should all be getting back to work on this,” John Bozzella, who advocates for international car companies at the Assn. of Global Automakers, said at Friday’s hearing.

Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has until next year to decide whether to loosen federal regulations, which would require passenger cars to average about 54 miles per gallon by 2025, up from 36 miles per gallon today.


But California has the unique ability to set tougher rules than federal standards under a waiver program that recognizes the state’s long struggle with pollution. In addition, a dozen other states have adopted California rules as their own, giving regulators here an outsize influence on the national marketplace.

ALSO SEE IN THE ORIGINAL: Historical photos of pollution in California

Over the years they’ve shown little hesitance about setting higher benchmarks for emissions, steps that often eventually become federal requirements. The rules approved Friday could force automakers to build more efficient engines, use increasingly lightweight materials and develop more electric vehicles.

Ann Carlson, an environmental law professor at UCLA, said negotiations still could resolve disagreements and preserve a single national standard.

And if they don’t?

“The other possibility is it’s full-out war,” Carlson said.

War over vehicle rules would not be new for California, where thick smog decades ago made tougher regulations a necessity. In Los Angeles, motorcycle riders wore gas masks and children were kept inside during school recess.

Highlights from California’s emissions regulations

1959
California launches the first statewide standards on vehicle emissions

1967
Gov. Ronald Reagan signs legislation creating the Air Resources Board; federal government grants California unique ability to pursue tougher regulations than federal standards

1971
California creates the country’s first standards for NOx emissions from tailpipes

1975
Catalytic converters are required to reduce vehicle pollution, six years before they become a national standard

2004
Air Resources Board creates first rules for greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes

2012
The Obama Administration creates one national standard for vehicle emissions until 2025

2017
President Trump begins to roll back federal rules, while California pushes forward with higher standards

Source: Los Angeles Times reporting

“My eyes would sting. Sometimes you couldn’t see a block,” said Tom Quinn, who was appointed to lead the Air Resources Board when Gov. Jerry Brown took office for his first term in 1975. One of his fellow board members was Nichols, who returned to the agency in 2007 and remains in charge today.

The board quickly ran into opposition from automakers, who said higher standards would be impossible to meet. Quinn remembers turning to Bob Sawyer, another board member and a mechanical engineering professor, during a break in a meeting.

“I said, ‘Bob, what’s going to happen? They insist they can’t sell cars,’ ” Quinn recalled. “Bob said, ‘They’re lying.’ ”

The board passed the rules, Quinn said, and “of course they sold cars.”

Sometimes regulators clamped down on individual manufacturers, barring sales of certain cars or instituting financial penalties. Regulators issued a $328,400 fine, the largest at the time, against Chrysler for violating smog rules. A company representative dropped off a check at Quinn’s house on a weekend.

The state’s clout has only grown since then. An update to federal law in 1990 allowed other states to adopt California’s higher standards; New York and Massachusetts are among the dozen that have taken that step.

“California has set itself as an example, and other states are following behind,” said Michael Harley, an Irvine-based automotive analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “We don’t have a ‘rogue state’ syndrome.”

The latest round of battles began in 2002, when California enacted the country’s first rules for greenhouse gases from tailpipes to fight global warming.

Fran Pavley, the former lawmaker who wrote the legislation, recalled bitter opposition.

“One person threatened to come over with a baseball bat,” she said of a threat to her office. “This got really, really heated.”

Automakers sued the state, and President George W. Bush’s administration rejected California’s request for a waiver to move forward with the regulations, the only time such a request has been turned down.

A potential legal battle dissipated, however, once Obama took office. His administration granted California’s waiver and worked toward a single national policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

High gas prices and political pressure to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil — not to mention Obama’s desire to address climate change — led to additional fuel efficiency regulations finalized in 2012.

It was a period of relative harmony, but the circumstances that fostered cooperation and ambitious national regulations no longer exist. With gas prices lower, consumers have proved more interested in pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles than hybrids and electric cars.

Automakers argue that Obama improperly rushed to finalize the rules before he left office, and Trump does not share California’s commitment to fighting climate change.

The unraveling consensus on vehicle regulations has concerned advocates.

“There’s no reason for environmentalists, automakers and conservatives to risk a nuclear war over these rules, which will result in zero progress for all sides,” said Robbie Diamond, who leads Securing America’s Future Energy, a group of business and former military leaders that wants less dependence on foreign oil.

Now that California has recommitted itself to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the next steps are up to Trump. If the administration’s review leads to only slight changes, automakers might be able to balance California and federal regulations without much trouble.

“They could just shuffle cars around,” Harley said, ensuring the mix of vehicles available for sale meet California’s benchmarks. Consumers here already buy more electric cars and fewer pickup trucks than national averages.

But there’s still the potential for a dramatic change, or even an unprecedented legal assault on California’s cherished ability to set higher standards. Although automakers insisted they weren’t calling that into question, Nichols expressed skepticism about their commitment because they asked Trump to review federal rules.

“What were you thinking when you threw yourself upon the mercy of the Trump administration?” she said.

At this point, state leaders seem unwilling to yield to any pressure on regulating emissions.

“I don’t like to say anything is nonnegotiable,” said Brown on Monday during a visit to Washington.

But to fight climate change, he said, “we have to intensify, not fall back.”

Downtown Los Angeles’ tallest buildings rise above a blanket of smog in October 1973. (Fitzgerald Whitney / Los Angeles Times)
Times staff writer Evan Halper contributed to this report.

 chris.megerian at latimes.com

ALSO

Trump wants to shelve fuel mileage rules, inviting a fight with California

Trump’s EPA pick poised to survive Senate fight, but his brewing battle with California will be harder to win

========================================

‘Hello, Bob’: President Trump called my cellphone a Washington Post correspondent, to say that the health-care bill was dead.

Trump on health care bill: ‘We couldn’t quite get there’

President Trump addressed his plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, saying he will let Obamacare “explode,” before taking questions from the media on March 24 at the White House. (The Washington Post)

By Robert (Bob) Costa March 24 at 5:59 PM
President Trump called me on my cellphone Friday afternoon at 3:31 p.m. At first I thought it was a reader with a complaint since it was a blocked number.

Instead, it was the president calling from the Oval Office. His voice was even, his tone muted. He did not bury the lead.

“Hello, Bob,” Trump began. “So, we just pulled it.”

Trump was speaking, of course, of the Republican plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act, a plan that had been languishing for days amid unrest throughout the party as the president and his allies courted members and pushed for a vote.

Before I could ask a question, Trump plunged into his explanation of the politics of deciding to call off a vote on a bill he had been touting.

The many ups and downs of the GOP health-care battle Play Video3:56
Republicans withdrew the American Health Care Act moments before a scheduled vote on March 24, after failing to woo enough lawmakers to support it. Here are the key turning points in their fight to pass the bill. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)
The Democrats, he said, were to blame.

“We couldn’t get one Democratic vote, and we were a little bit shy, very little, but it was still a little bit shy, so we pulled it,” Trump said.

Trump said he would not put the bill on the floor in the coming weeks. He is willing to wait and watch the current law continue and, in his view, encounter problems. And he believes that Democrats will eventually want to work with him on some kind of legislative fix to Obamacare, although he did not say when that would be.

[House Republican leaders abruptly pull their rewrite of the nation’s health-care law]

“As you know, I’ve been saying for years that the best thing is to let Obamacare explode and then go make a deal with the Democrats and have one unified deal. And they will come to us; we won’t have to come to them,” he said. “After Obamacare explodes.”

“The beauty,” Trump continued, “is that they own Obamacare. So when it explodes, they come to us, and we make one beautiful deal for the people.”

My question for the president: Are you really willing to wait to reengage on health care until the Democrats come and ask for your help?

“Sure,” Trump said. “I never said I was going to repeal and replace in the first 61 days” — contradicting his own statements and that of his own adviser, Kellyanne Conway, who told CNN in November that the then-president-elect was contemplating convening a special session on Inauguration Day to begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act.

Turning to an aide, Trump asked, “How many days is it now? Whatever.” He laughed.

Trump returned to the theme of blaming the Democrats.

“Hey, we could have done this,” he said. “But we couldn’t get one Democrat vote, not one. So that means they own Obamacare and when that explodes, they will come to us wanting to save whatever is left, and we’ll make a real deal.”

There was little evidence that either Trump or House Republicans made a serious effort to reach out to Democrats.

Still, I wondered, why not whip some more votes this weekend and come back next week to the House with a revised piece of legislation?

“Well,” Trump said, “we could do that, too. But we didn’t do that. It’s always possible, but we pulled it.”

Trump brought up the vote count. “We were close,” he said.

How close?

“I would say within anywhere from five to 12 votes,” Trump said — although widespread reports indicated that at least three dozen Republicans opposed the measure.

[There were at least three dozen Republicans opposed to the health-care bill

That must have hurt after all of his attempts to rally Republicans, I said. He made calls, had people over to the White House, invited House members on Air Force One. He may not have loved the bill, but he embraced the negotiations.

“You’re right,” Trump said. “I’m a team player, but I’ve also said the best thing politically is to let Obamacare explode.”

Trump said he made the decision to pull the bill after meeting Friday at the White House with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).

Was that a tense, tough conversation with Ryan, I asked?

“No, not tough,” Trump said. “It’s just life. We had great support among most Republicans but no Democratic votes. Zero. Not one.”

I mentioned to Trump that some of his allies were frustrated with Ryan. Did he share those frustrations, and would he be able to work with Ryan moving forward on plans to cut taxes and build an infrastructure package?

“I don’t blame Paul,” Trump said.

He then repeated the phrase: “I don’t blame Paul. He worked very hard on this.”

And again.

“I don’t blame Paul at all.”

As he waits for Democrats, I asked, what’s next on health care, if anything, policy-wise?

“Time will tell. Obamacare is in for some rough days. You understand that. It’s in for some rough, rough days,” Trump said.

“I’ll fix it as it explodes,” he said. “They’re going to come to ask for help. They’re going to have to. Here’s the good news: Health care is now totally the property of the Democrats.”

Speaking of premium increases, Trump said: “When people get a 200 percent increase next year or a 100 percent or 70 percent, that’s their fault.”

He returned again to a partisan line on the turn of events.

“To be honest, the biggest losers today are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” Trump said of the House minority leader and the Senate minority leader. “Because now they own the disaster known as Obamacare.”

Okay, I asked, they may own it, in his view, but he will at some point be tasked with shaping whatever comes forward as a partial replacement. What will that be? What kind of policy could he support?

“Oh, lots of things can happen,” Trump said. “But the best would be if we could all get together and do a real health-care bill that would be good for the people, and that could very well happen.”

Does Trump regret starting his agenda this year with health care?

“No, I don’t,” he said. “But in a way I’m glad I got it out of the way.”

“Look, I’m a team player,” Trump said of the Republican Party. “I’ve played this team. I’ve played with the team. And they just fell a little bit short, and it’s very hard when you need almost 100 percent of the votes and we have no votes, zero, from the Democrats. It’s unheard of.”

What happened with the House Freedom Caucus, the hard-line conservatives he had wooed over and over again?

“Ah, that’s the big question,” Trump said with a slight chuckle. “Don’t know. I have a good relationship with them, but I couldn’t get them. They just wouldn’t do it.”

Trump alluded to long-running, simmering dramas on Capitol Hill, which he said had little to do with him, as a reason the Freedom Caucus could not back the bill.

“Years of hatred and distrust,” he said. “Long before me.”

Was Trump saying, perhaps, that the inability of Ryan and his team to work well with that caucus was part of why talks stalled?

“Well, look, you can say what you want,” Trump said. “But there are years of problems, great hatred and distrust, and, you know, I came into the middle of it.”

“I think they made a mistake, but that’s okay,” Trump said of the Freedom Caucus.

As we wrapped up, I tried to get some clarity. The president was blaming the Democrats and was willing to let the law “explode.” Yet he also seemed to be teasing the possibility of doing something bipartisan down the road, a fresh start at some point.

I asked: Would working on a bipartisan health-care deal a year from now be something he would find more agreeable than whipping the hard right?

“A lot of people might say that,” Trump said, laughing. “We’ll end up with a better health-care plan. A great plan. And you wouldn’t need the Freedom Caucus.”

What about the moderates, the Tuesday Group?

“They were great,” Trump said. “They were really great.”

He turned once more to the Democrats.

“They own it,” he said.

“You’ve said that,” I told him.

“This is a process,” Trump concluded, “and it’s going to work out very well. I was a team player, and I had an obligation to go along with this.”

As Trump tried to hang up the phone and get back to work, I asked him to reflect, if at all possible, on lessons learned. He’s a few months into his presidency, and he had to pull a bill that he had invested time and energy into passing.

What was on his mind?

“Just another day,” Trump said, flatly. “Just another day in paradise, okay?”

He paused.

“Take care.”

Read more at PowerPost

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 23rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT – The Center for American Progress

Battling Climate Change in the Time of Trump

By John Podesta Posted on March 21, 2017, 12:22 pm

There is no way to sugarcoat the outcome of the 2016 election for anyone who cares about the health of our planet. President Donald Trump has made clear that he intends to pursue a special interest-driven agenda that would make climate change worse. Since the start of his administration, he has taken steps to increase America’s dependence on oil, including foreign oil; eliminate limits on carbon pollution; and weaken vehicle efficiency standards at the expense of American families. His budget decimates scientific research and he selected an administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, who denies that carbon pollution is a main cause of climate change.

The Trump administration’s anti-environmental agenda is, without question, a grave danger to the health of our children and grandchildren—and the health of our planet. But this threat alone is no reason to give up hope that we can still avert the most severe impacts of climate change. The energy and effectiveness of citizen activism suggests that the most damaging policies of the Trump administration can be stopped. And, as importantly, a review of the votes cast in the November election and the steps being taken by state and local leaders indicate an alternate path for climate action in the next four years.


The economy is voting for climate action.

Winning the popular vote by more than 3 million ballots was not enough for Democrats to win the White House, but those votes nonetheless represent the voices of a majority of Americans. Public opinion research now consistently finds that most Americans believe climate change is a major problem and support steps to cut carbon pollution.1 What’s more, a recent Brookings Institution analysis found that the counties that Hillary Clinton won account for 64 percent of the United States’ economic output.2

For those of us counting greenhouse gas emissions, the fact that nearly two-thirds of the U.S. economy voted for progressive leadership in November is more than significant. Governors of states that voted for Clinton, for example, are already stepping up to the challenge of battling climate change. In January of this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) of New York called on the states that make up the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI, to lower their collective carbon pollution reduction target an additional 30 percent below 2020 levels by 2030. In California, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has established the state as a global leader on climate action, adopting a cap and trade program, taking big steps to build a clean energy economy, and setting the aggressive reduction goal of 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.3 Gov. Brown also recently denounced the Trump administration’s attacks on climate science and research and staked out California’s leading role going forward in that aspect of progress.4
Even in states that President Trump won, elected officials are continuing to move aggressively to deliver climate change policies. Since the election, 71 mayors from across the country penned an open letter to President Trump, stating that they will continue to take “bold” climate action. Of that collection of mayors, 29 of them come from states that voted for President Trump.5 Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D), for example, called on fellow U.S. mayors to stand together to deliver on global climate goals and reaffirm commitments to local action.6 In addition to taking on a leadership role in the global coalition of more than 7,100 cities committed to the fight against climate change, Mayor Reed is working at the local level in Atlanta, including by launching the city’s first solar initiative to reduce municipal energy consumption by up to 40 percent.7


Rampage against environmental laws.

Make no mistake, though, the Trump administration presents an existential threat to the entire planet. Leadership on the state and local level may be able to bridge the gap at the federal level, but only for a period of time. The administration appears to be on a rampage against environmental laws that protect clean air, water, and our way of life. Since taking office, President Trump has signed more than seven executive orders, presidential memorandums, and bills that roll back environmental protections and prioritize giveaways to the fossil fuel industry. That number is expected to jump even higher in the coming days with an anticipated executive action aimed at undoing the Clean Power Plan, lifting a coal moratorium on public lands, throwing out consideration of climate change in federal decision-making, and making it easier to release the potent global warming pollutant, methane. The list of polluting actions, however, also includes eliminating a prohibition on bribery by oil companies, cutting limits on dumping of toxic mine waste in streams, and trying to make the United States more dependent on Canadian tar sands.

To say that the Trump administration is beholden to the corporate interests that benefit from eliminating environmental protections understates reality. This team stepped out of the boardroom into Washington, D.C. Recently, the White House released a statement8 that promoted Exxon and had significant portions that were identical to the statement Exxon itself released.9 Administrator Scott Pruitt’s own emails show a close relationship with top polluters, such as Devon Energy and Koch Industries, and illustrate deep coordination as the energy companies pushed through his office the policy outcomes they wanted.10 Pruitt brings these relationships with him to the EPA, the agency he sued 14 times as attorney general of Oklahoma. Joining him at the agency are staffers who have worked to propagate climate denial under infamous climate denier Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and the Koch-backed Freedom Partners.11


The irreversible global shift to clean energy
.

Although the Trump administration’s early actions serve as handouts to the fossil fuel industries, America’s clean energy economy is now strong enough to withstand a short-term change in policy. President Barack Obama’s dogged focus on emissions reductions will not be easily reversed either. Between 2008 and 2015, the United States’ emissions dropped 9 percent even as the economy grew more than 10 percent.12 Solar, wind, geothermal, and other renewable energy industries have grown substantially in terms of generation and jobs, becoming a fundamental part of the U.S. economy overall. Between 2008 and 2015, U.S. wind generating capacity nearly tripled and solar capacity—both concentrating and photovoltaic systems—grew by 23 times.13 For individuals, the cost of residential solar photovoltaic system has fallen to approximately one-third its cost in 1998, or from $12.34 per watt to $4.05 per watt.14 Wind power recently surpassed conventional hydropower as the nation’s most significant renewable generation source.15 According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s annual energy jobs report, renewable electricity generation employs nearly 547,000 people, with the solar industry employing nearly 374,000 of that total.16 The energy efficiency economy, which includes building professionals, efficient appliance manufacturers, energy service providers, and others, has reached more than 2.2 million workers across the country.17 None of the CEO’s or leaders of these growing industries are represented in the fossil fuel-focused White House.
This shift toward clean energy is a global one. Countries around the world—including both developed and emerging economies—see that their future prosperity hinges on nonpolluting energy. Thanks to the leadership of President Obama, more than 130 countries have now officially joined the Paris Agreement—a historic pact to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and build resilience to the destructive effects of climate change.18 These countries are not liable to reverse course in the wake of the U.S. election. In fact, all countries have reaffirmed their dedication to implement the Paris Agreement and more than 30 countries have officially joined the pact after the election of President Trump.19
It would be economic folly for the United States to turn its back on this global shift toward nonpolluting energy. Recognizing this, approximately 900 U.S. businesses and investors have now encouraged U.S. and global leaders to support the Paris Agreement and climate action.20 If the United States cedes its leadership in the global movement to curb greenhouse gas pollution, other major powers, most notably China, are primed to dominate the coming clean energy economy.

In the meantime, global leaders who are serious about stopping climate change are more likely to visit governors’ mansions in Sacramento, CA, or Albany, NY, than the White House. Elected officials there and in other states and localities understand that American leadership on clean energy means that U.S. workers will be creating, making, and selling technologies and products in developing and emerging markets.21 These sub-national level elected officials can themselves become leaders and have political clout in the international movement to combat climate change. Governors, mayors, and other elected officials can pick up the climate change mantel abandoned by the Trump administration and help the United States lead by example around the world. The challenge will be to organize the leadership that represents those jurisdictions that voted for strong action on climate change into a force that can counterbalance the lack of ambition from the United States at the federal level.


The growing resistance.

As governors, mayors, clean energy leaders, and citizens continue to advance climate action domestically and internationally, it is equally important that, as Americans, we do all we can to stop the Trump administration and Republican leaders in Congress from implementing the most anti-environmental agenda in decades. The engagement and direct action being taken by individuals in every community in every state is nothing short of inspiring. Resistance works. From the Women’s March in January to February’s Day Without Immigrants, millions of Americans—especially young Americans—are making their voices heard.

Notably, a significant percentage of the Millennial generation failed to show up to vote last November, yet their understanding of the dangers of climate change presents some cause for hope: They believe that the climate is changing. An October, 2016 poll from the University of Texas at Austin found that “[m]ore than 9 out of 10 survey respondents (91 percent) under age 35 say climate change is occurring compared to 74 percent of those age 65 older.”22 The Harvard Institute of Politics released a poll in April of 2015 that had similar results, showing that, “3 in 4 millennials believe global warming is a fact.”23 If this generation now understands that their votes or their decisions not to vote have consequences and turns out in the coming years to express their determination to combat climate change, the Trump administration and its climate denying allies will soon be a brief chapter in the history books.

Two upcoming governor’s races will provide a glimpse into how the resistance we are witnessing translates to results at the ballot box. Both New Jersey and Virginia have off-year gubernatorial elections in 2017. Virginia can be a bellwether for greater sentiment across the country. The year after President Obama’s historic election when Democrats swept into power across all chambers of government, Virginians elected Republican Bob McDonnell to be governor by a 17-point margin.24 Hillary Clinton won the state 49.8 percent to Trump’s 44.4 percent, showing there is a strong Democratic base. However, the state retains deep ties to fossil fuels, with coal mines making up close to 2 percent of U.S. production, its ports shipping over one-third of all U.S. coal exports, and some oil and gas production in its southwestern counties.25

Hillary Clinton also won New Jersey but by a greater margin, 55 percent to 41 percent. New Jersey’s economy is not strongly tied to fossil fuels, but it has suffered the slowest economic growth in the nation for the past few years.26 Although the races for these governors’ mansions are still taking shape, they will likely become referenda on what is happening in Washington, D.C., and in some measure, the anti-environmental policies being pursued by the Trump administration. The results of these races could be a preview for the congressional midterms in 2018 and send a powerful signal to climate deniers, at all levels of government, that they will be held accountable for their out-of-the-mainstream views.

What’s on the line.
One cannot overstate the stakes in this fight to defend climate policies and to continue progress at the city, state, and international level. President Trump’s own Secretary of Defense James Mattis has acknowledged climate change as a “threat multiplier,” and has called on the military to “unleash us from the tether of fuel,” according to past reports.27 Other national intelligence experts are also concerned that conflict regions around the world increasingly share similar problems because of political, economic, and social instability exacerbated by climate change.28 The most recent and high-profile example of climate’s destabilizing force on the world is the Syrian refugee crisis. The historic drought affecting Syria between 2006 and 2009 left entire regions without food and water, making worse the perilous circumstances there and contributing to violence that forced people from their homes.29

Here at home, the Office of Management and Budget, or OMB, released a report last November that identified climate change as a serious fiscal risk to the federal government. The report calculated that sea-level rise and extreme weather will drive up annual federal disaster recovery costs in coastal areas by $19 billion by 2050 and by $50 billion by 2075.30
The truth is that President Trump has taken climate change into account for his own properties. Trump’s Ireland golf resort filed a permit application to build a sea wall, citing “global warming and its effects.”31 In Palm Beach, where Trump’s home Mar-a-Lago sits on the water’s edge, elected officials expect that sea levels in the region may increase by seven inches by 2030 and two feet by 2060.32


Conclusion.

Though President Trump can choose to ignore climate change and line the pockets of oil, gas, and coal executives, most Americans know that, as a nation, we do not have the luxury of arguing the politics or putting our heads in the sand. It is therefore on all of us—local leaders, state leaders, campus leaders, and citizens—to find optimism in the reality that we can find paths to progress, even as we fight, every day, to stop the Trump administration from selling out our planet and our future.

John Podesta is the Founder and a Board Member of the Center for American Progress and most recently was the chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. He previously served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and counselor to President Barack Obama. He is also a visiting professor of law at the Georgetown University Law Center.
Endnotes.

Lydia Saad and Jeffrey M. Jones, “U.S. Concern about Global Warming is at an Eight Year High,” Gallup, March 16, 2016, available at www.gallup.com/poll/190010/concer…. ?

Mark Muro and Sifan Liu, “Another Clinton-Trump divide: High-output America vs low-output America,” The Brookings Institution, posted November 29, 2016, available at www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenu…. ?

California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board, “The Governor’s Climate Change Pillars: 2030 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals,” available at www.arb.ca.gov/cc/pillars/pillar… (last accessed March 2017). ?

John Myers, “’We’re ready to fight,’ Gov. Jerry Brown unloads on Trump and Climate Issues,” Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2016, www.latimes.com/politics/essentia…. ?
Climate Mayors, “Open letter to President Elect Donald Trump,” November 22, 2016, available at medium.com/@ClimateMayors/open-l…. ?

Kasim Reed and Greg Stanton, “Open Letter from Mayors of Atlanta and Phoenix: It’s Time for U.S. Mayors to Reaffirm Our Commitment to Strong Climate Action,” The Compact of Mayors, January 13, 2017, available at medium.com/@CompactofMayors/open…. ?

Metro Atlanta CEO, “Mayor Kasim Reed Accepts Climate Leadership Role with the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy,” December 5, 2016, available at metroatlantaceo.com/news/2016/12/…; City of Atlanta, “Mayor Kasim Reed Launches the City of Atlanta’s First Solar Energy Program,” November 23, 2015, available at www.atlantaga.gov/index.aspx?page…. ?

The White House, “President Trump Congratulates Exxon Mobile for Job-Creating Investment Program,“ available at www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-off… (last accessed March 2017). ?

Chris Mooney and Steven Mufson, “The White House was on the same page as ExxonMobil on Monday. Literally.,” The Washington Post, March 6, 2017, available at www.washingtonpost.com/news/ener…. ?

Brady Dennis and Steven Mufson, “Thousands of Emails Detail EPA Head’s Close Ties to Fossil Fuel Industry,” The Washington Post, February 22, 2017, available at www.washingtonpost.com/news/ener…. ?

Kevin Bogardus, “Another top Inhofe staffer joins agency,” Greenwire, March 3, 2017, available at www.eenews.net/greenwire/2017/03/…. ?
The White House, “A Historic Commitment to Protecting the Environment and Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change,” available at obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the… (last accessed March 2017). ?

U.S. Department of Energy, 2015 Wind Technologies Market Report (2015), available at energy.gov/eere/wind/downloads/20…; U.S. Department of Energy, Utility-Scale Solar 2015: An Empirical Analysis of Project Cost, Performance, and Pricing Trends in the United States (2016), available at emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/lbnl…. ?

Galen L. Barbose and Naïm R. Darghouth, Tracking the Sun IX: The Installed Price of Residential and Non-residential Photovalic Systems in the United States (Washington: U.S. Department of Energy, 2016), available at emp.lbl.gov/publications/trackin…; Mark Bolinger and Joachim Seel, Utility-Scale Solar 2015: An Empirical Analysis of Project Cost, Performance, and Pricing Trends in the United States (Washington: U.S. Department of Energy, 2016), available at emp.lbl.gov/publications/utility…; U.S. Department of Energy, On the Path to Sunshot: Executive Summary (2016), available at energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2016/…. ?

Diane Cardwell, “Wind Power Surpasses Hydroelectric in a Crucial Measure,” The New York Times, February 9, 2017, available at www.nytimes.com/2017/02/09/busin…. ?

U.S. Department of Energy, 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (2017), available at energy.gov/downloads/2017-us-ene…. ?
Ibid. ?

United Nations, “Paris Agreement—Status of Ratification,” available at unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/… (last accessed March 2017). ?
United Nations, “Marrakech Action Proclamation for Our Climate and Sustainable Development” (2016) available at unfccc.int/files/meetings/marrake…; United Nations, “Paris Agreement—Status of Ratification.” ?

Low Carbon USA, “Home,” available at lowcarbonusa.org/ (last accessed March 2017). ?
International Finance Corporation, “Climate Investment Opportunities in Emerging Markets” (2016), available at www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/51183…. ?
UT News, “ Millennials’ Strong Views on Climate Change and Other Energy Issues Could Drive Presidential Election Results,” October 27, 2016, available at news.utexas.edu/2016/10/27/mille…. ?

Harvard University, Institute of Politics, “Millennials on Global Warming” (2015), available at iop.harvard.edu/iop-now/millennia…. ?

Real Clear Politics, “Virginia Governor – McDonnell vs. Deeds,” available at www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/… (last accessed March 2017); Ian Urbina, “In Virginia, McDonnell Ends Democrats’ Streak,” The New York Times, November 2, 2009, available at
 www.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/us/04v…. ?

U.S. Energy Information Administration, “Virginia: State Profile and Energy Estimates” (2016), available at www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?s…. ?

Carla Astudillo, “Dead Last: N.J. Worst in the Nation in Economic Growth,” NJ.com, September 15, 2016, available at www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/09…. ?

Mazin Sidahmed, “Climate Change Denial in the Trump Cabinet: Where do his Nominees Stand?”, The Guardian, December 15, 2016, available at www.theguardian.com/environment/…. ?
Cathleen Kelly, “Rex Tillerson’s Big Oil Ties Endanger the Climate and National Security,” Center for American Progress, January 6, 2017, available at www.americanprogress.org/issues/…. ?
Henry Fountain, “Researchers Link Syrian Conflict to a Drought Made Worse by Climate Change,” The New York Times, March 2, 2015, available at www.nytimes.com/2015/03/03/scien…. ?
Office of Management and Budget, Climate change: Fiscal Risks Facing The Federal Government (The White House, 2016), available at obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sit…. ?

Ben Schreckinger, “Trump acknowledges climate change—at his golf course,” Politico, May 23, 2016, available at www.politico.com/story/2016/05/do… ?

Michael Smith and Jonathan Levin, “Trump Rejects Climate Change, but Mar-a-Lago Could Be Lost to the Sea,” Bloomberg Businessweek, December 16, 2016, available at www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/…. ?

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CLIMATE – The New York Times.

Trump Lays Plans to Reverse Obama’s Climate Change Legacy

Also titled TRUMP SET TO TEAR UP OBAMA’S CLIMATE CHANGE LEGACY – in some International Print Editions of March 23, 2017.

By CORAL DAVENPORTMARCH 21, 2017 – US Electronic Edition.

Shortened for the March 23, 2017 International Edition, and missing in some newsletters.

WASHINGTON DC — President Trump is poised in the coming days to announce his plans to dismantle the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s climate change legacy, while also gutting several smaller but significant policies aimed at curbing global warming.

The moves are intended to send an unmistakable signal to the nation and the world that Mr. Trump intends to follow through on his campaign vows to rip apart every element of what the president has called Mr. Obama’s “stupid” policies to address climate change. The timing and exact form of the announcement remain unsettled, however.

The executive actions will follow the White House’s release last week of a proposed budget that would eliminate climate change research and prevention programs across the federal government and slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent, more than any other agency. Mr. Trump also announced last week that he had ordered Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, to revise the agency’s stringent standards on planet-warming tailpipe pollution from vehicles, another of Mr. Obama’s key climate change policies.

While the White House is not expected to explicitly say the United States is withdrawing from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, and people familiar with the White House deliberations say Mr. Trump has not decided whether to do so, the policy reversals would make it virtually impossible to meet the emissions reduction goals set by the Obama administration under the international agreement.

—————————————
Trump to Undo Vehicle Rules That Curb Global Warming MARCH 3, 2017

A Sea Change for Climate Coverage MARCH 16, 2017

Top Trump Advisers Are Split on Paris Agreement on Climate Change MARCH 2, 2017

As U.S. Cedes Leadership on Climate, Others Step Up at Davos JAN. 21, 2017

Americans Ate 19% Less Beef From ’05 to ’14, Report Says MARCH 21, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT
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In an announcement that could come as soon as Thursday or as late as next month, according to people familiar with the White House’s planning, Mr. Trump will order Mr. Pruitt to withdraw and rewrite a set of Obama-era regulations known as the Clean Power Plan, according to a draft document obtained by The New York Times. The Obama rule was devised to shut down hundreds of heavily polluting coal-fired power plants and freeze construction of new coal plants, while replacing them with vast wind and solar farms.

The draft also lays out options for legally blocking or weakening about a half-dozen additional Obama-era executive orders and policies on climate change.

At a campaign-style rally on Monday in the coal-mining state of Kentucky, Mr. Trump told a cheering audience that he is preparing an executive action that would “save our wonderful coal miners from continuing to be put out of work.”

GRAPHIC — How Americans Think About Climate Change, in Six Maps
Americans overwhelmingly believe that global warming is happening, and that carbon emissions should be scaled back. But fewer are sure that it will harm them personally.

Experts in environmental law say it will not be possible for Mr. Trump to quickly or simply roll back the most substantive elements of Mr. Obama’s climate change regulations, noting that the process presents a steep legal challenge that could take many years and is likely to end up before the Supreme Court. Economists are skeptical that a rollback of the rules would restore lost coal jobs because the demand for coal has been steadily shrinking for years.

Scientists and climate policy advocates around the world say they are watching the administration’s global warming actions and statements with deep worry. Many reacted with deep concern to Mr. Pruitt’s remarks this month that he did not believe carbon dioxide was a primary driver of climate change, a statement at odds with the global scientific consensus. They also noted the remarks last week by Mick Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, in justifying Mr. Trump’s proposed cuts to climate change research programs.

“As to climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward: We’re not spending money on that anymore,” Mr. Mulvaney said at a White House briefing.

“The message they are sending to the rest of the world is that they don’t believe climate change is serious. It’s shocking to see such a degree of ignorance from the United States,” said Mario J. Molina, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist from Mexico who advises nations on climate change policy.

The policy reversals also signal that Mr. Trump has no intention of following through on Mr. Obama’s formal pledges under the Paris accord, under which nearly every country in the world submitted plans detailing actions to limit global warming over the coming decade.

Under the accord as it stands, the United States has pledged to reduce its greenhouse pollution about 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. That can be achieved only if the United States not only implements the Clean Power Plan and tailpipe-pollution rules, but also tightens them or adds more policies in future years.

“The message clearly is, ‘We won’t do what the United States has promised to do,’” Mr. Molina said.

In addition to directing Mr. Pruitt to withdraw the Clean Power Plan, the draft order instructs Attorney General Jeff Sessions to request that a federal court halt consideration of a 28-state lawsuit against the regulation. The case was argued before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in September, and the court is expected to release a decision in the coming months on whether to uphold or strike down the rule.

Interactive Feature: Trump Has Choices to Make on Climate Policy. What Would You Do?
According to the draft, Mr. Trump is also expected to announce that he will lift a moratorium on new coal mining leases on public lands that had been announced last year by the Obama administration.

He is also expected to order White House economists to revisit an Obama-era budgeting metric known as the social cost of carbon. Economists and policy makers used the metric to place a dollar cost on the economic impact of planet-warming carbon dioxide pollution: about $36 per ton. That measure formed the Obama administration’s economic justification for issuing climate change regulations that would harm some industries, such as coal mining, noting that those costs would be outweighed by the economic benefits of preventing billions of tons of planet-warming pollution.

Eliminating or lowering the social cost of carbon could provide the Trump administration the economic justification for putting forth less-stringent regulations.

The draft order would also rescind an executive order by Mr. Obama that all federal agencies take climate change into account when considering any form of environmental permitting.

Unlike the rollback of the power plant and vehicle regulations, which could take years and will be subject to legal challenges, Mr. Trump can make the changes to the coal mining ban and undo Mr. Obama’s executive orders with the stroke of a pen.

White House staff members and energy lobbyists who work closely with them say they have been expecting Mr. Trump to make the climate change announcements for weeks, ever since Mr. Pruitt was confirmed to head the E.P.A. on Feb. 17, but the announcement has been repeatedly rescheduled. The delays of the one-page announcement have largely been a result of disorganization and a chaotic policy and planning process, said people familiar with that process who asked to speak anonymously to avoid angering Mr. Trump.

One reason for the confusion, these people said, is internal disputes about the challenging legal process required to dismantle the Clean Power Plan. While Mr. Trump may announce with great fanfare his intent to roll back the regulations, the legal steps required to fulfill that announcement are lengthy and the outcome uncertain.

“Trump’s announcements have zero impact,” said Richard J. Lazarus, a professor of environmental law at Harvard. “They don’t change existing law at all.”

Much of that task will now fall to Mr. Pruitt.

“To undo the rule, the E.P.A. will now have to follow the same procedure that was followed to put the regulations in place,” said Mr. Lazarus, pointing to a multiyear process of proposing draft rules, gathering public comment and forming a legal defense against an expected barrage of lawsuits almost certain to end up before the Supreme Court.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 17th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


UNITED NATIONS, UNICEF AND SMURFS TEAM UP TO CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF HAPPINESS.

Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign inspires support for Sustainable Development Goals.

The UNF, New York, March 18 – Voice actors from the upcoming animated movie Smurfs: The Lost Village today joined officials from the United Nations, UNICEF and United Nations Foundation at the world body’s headquarters in New York to celebrate International Day of Happiness with a campaign promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The “Small Smurfs Big Goals” campaign is designed to encourage young people everywhere to learn about and support the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders in 2015 to help make the world more peaceful, equitable and healthy.
As part of the celebrations, Team Smurfs recognized three young advocates — Karan Jerath (20), Sarina Divan (17), and Noor Samee (17) — for their actions to promote the Goals.

Jerath, a UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals, invented a containment device that could prevent offshore oil spills and ensure the protection of marine life. Divan expanded a UN Foundation girl empowerment initiative at her high school and beyond, and Samee is a UNICEF blogger and advocate on social justice issues and raising awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The movie’s U.S. stars — Demi Lovato, Joe Manganiello and Mandy Patinkin — presented the three young students with a symbolic key to the Smurfs Village in recognition of their work.

“This inspirational campaign highlights the fact that each and every one of us, no matter how young or old, small or big, can make our world a better and happier place,” said Cristina Gallach, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. “We are grateful to creative partners like Sony Pictures Animation and Team Smurfs for their spirit of collaboration in helping the UN reach diverse audiences.”

The Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign culminates on the International Day of Happiness on 20 March, which emphasizes the importance of personal happiness and well-being. The idea is closely linked to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which include decent work for all, access to nutritious food, quality education and health services, and freedom from discrimination.

“Today we have seen how the Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign is giving children and young people a platform to speak out about issues they are passionate about. As we celebrate International Day of Happiness, we hope many more young people are empowered to take action on the Sustainable Development Goals and help achieve a world free from poverty, inequality and injustice,” said Caryl M. Stern, UNICEF US Fund President and CEO.

The actors and UN officials addressed some 1,500 students attending an international Model UN conference in the iconic General Assembly Hall of the United Nations, where they encouraged all participants and the public to join “Team Smurfs”.

The campaign invites the general public to visit SmallSmurfsBigGoals.com to find out how to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and share information, ideas and images on social media.

The actors also premiered a new public service announcement video starring cast members of the film that inspires viewers to join the campaign and champion the Sustainable Development Goals.

“We hope the campaign will help us all think about how our actions impact the planet,” said Demi Lovato, who voices Smurfette in the movie. “Every one of us, even a Small Smurf, can accomplish Big Goals!”

The United Nations Postal Administration closed out the blue carpet event by unveiling a special edition stamp sheet featuring the Small Smurfs Big Goals campaign. The film cast along with the Belgian Ambassador to the United Nations, Marc Pecsteen de Buytswerve, and United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Management, Stephen Cutts, presented the Small Smurfs Big Goals UN stamps to the press.

Along with the event at the United Nations, other celebrations took place in 18 countries around the world including Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Russia and the UK, to name a few, to help raise awareness for the “Small Smurfs Big Goals” campaign and the Goals.

“Since 1958, the Smurfs have embodied around the world the universal values of camaraderie, helping one another, tolerance, optimism, and respecting Mother Nature,” said Véronique Culliford, the daughter of Peyo, who created the Smurfs. “It’s been an honor and privilege for The Smurfs to support the United Nations and to continue our longstanding relationship with UNICEF with this campaign focused on raising awareness for the Sustainable Development Goals.”

On March 20, festivities for the International Day of Happiness will culminate in a special ceremony with the film cast along with United Nations, UNICEF and United Nations Foundation officials where they will help turn the Empire State Building blue to commemorate the occasion.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 12th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


10th – 11th August 2017: North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management, Montreal, Canada


Climate change is known to impact coastal areas in a variety of ways. According to the 5th Assessment Report produced by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), coastal zones are highly vulnerable to climate change and climate-driven impacts may be further exacerbated by other human-induced pressures.

In North America, multiple pressures – including urbanization and coastal development, habitat loss and degradation, pollution, overexploitation of fish stocks and natural hazards- affect the coastal ecosystems, hence exacerbating the impacts of climate change in coastal zones. In particular, sea level rise changes the shape of coastlines, contributes to coastal erosion and leads to flooding and salt-water intrusion in aquifers.

Climate change is also associated with other negative impacts to the natural environment and biodiversity, which include damages to important wetlands, and to the habitats that safeguard the overall ecological balance, and consequently the provision of ecosystem services and goods on which the livelihoods of millions of people depend. These impacts are particularly acute in North America, which endeavors to become more resilient to damages caused by hurricanes, floods and other extreme events.

The above state of affairs illustrates the need for a better understanding of how climate change affects coastal areas and communities in North America, and for the identification of processes, methods and tools which may help the communities in coastal zones to adapt and become more resilient. There is also a perceived need to showcase successful examples of how to cope with the social, economic and political problems posed by climate change in coastal regions in North America.

It is against this background that the North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management is being organized by the Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences” of the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany), the International Climate Change Information Programme (ICCIP) and the Université du Québec à Montréal. The Symposium will be a truly interdisciplinary event, mobilizing scholars, social movements, practitioners and members of governmental agencies, undertaking research and/or executing climate change projects in coastal areas and working with coastal communities in North America.

The North American Symposium on Climate Change and Coastal Zone Management will focus on “ensuring the resilience of coastal zones” meaning that it will serve the purpose of showcasing experiences from research, field projects and best practice to foster climate change adaptation in coastal zones and communities, which may be useful or implemented elsewhere.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


BARD COLLEGE – MBA in Sustainability program


Visiting Lecturer Positions – Fall 2017

Bard College’s low-residency MBA in Sustainability program, based in New York City, has openings for visiting lecturers to teach the following courses in the fall semester of 2017:

· Operations and Supply Chains
· Leading Change in Organizations

Please follow the link www.bard.edu/mba/program/courses/ to learn more about their content. Professors modify the existing syllabi for these courses to reflect their area of expertise.

Bard’s MBA program is one of a select group of programs globally that fully integrates sustainability into a business curriculum. Courses address core MBA material through a mission-driven lens, supporting students to master the business case for sustainability.
Faculty members teach during intensive weekend residencies held once a month in Manhattan. In addition, they teach an online evening session each week between the monthly residencies. The low-residency format allows flexibility in residential location.

MBA faculty members are expected to have earned a Ph.D., J.D., M.B.A., M.P.A., or equivalent degree. Successful candidates will have an established record of excellence in teaching.

For more information about Bard’s MBA program, visit the MBA website www.bard.edu/mba

To apply, send a cover letter, CV, and names and contact information for three references through Interfolio.com at: apply.interfolio.com/40456. Applications will be reviewed as received.

Bard College is an equal opportunity employer, and we welcome applications from those who contribute to our diversity.

Eban Goodstein
Director, Bard Center for Environmental Policy &
Director, Bard MBA in Sustainability
 www.bard.edu — www.bard.edu
845-758-7067
 ebangood at bard.edu

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Exxon eyes Israel after Cyprus win

 www.globes.co.il/en/article-exxon…

9 Mar, 2017 14:09
Nati Yefet

After winning a Cypriot government tender, Exxon Mobile has expressed interest in bidding for Israeli natural gas tenders.

Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources Yuval Steinitz met last week with senior executives from Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell during his visit to the US. The minister’s associates say that while Royal Dutch Shell will probably not take part in the new tender for oil and gas exploration licenses in Israeli waters, the Exxon Mobil executives came equipped with a great deal of relevant information, and expressed interest in the tender.

The reason is allegedly the announcement two days ago that Exxon had won a tender for oil and gas exploration in Block 10 in Cyprus as part of a consortium with Qatar Petroleum. A group composed of Italian company ENI and Total, and ENI by itself, won the concession for two other blocks in the tender.

In a fourth block already held by Total, the company asked the Cypriot government for permission to add ENI as a 50% partner in the license, because the block is located only six kilometers away from the Egyptian Zohr gas reservoir discovered by ENI. Total expects ENI’s extensive knowledge of the geology in the area to be of use in finding gas in Cyprus.

Steinitz’s associates say that since Exxon is starting to prepare for activity in a nearby area, the company believes that it is likely to prove worthwhile to develop parallel activity in Israel, and to use the same transportation infrastructure to export gas discovered in both countries to Europe.

Steinetz went to Europe early this week, and flew from there to New York and Houston for a week of meetings with energy concerns. In Rome, he met with his Italian counterpart, and held meetings in New York with the Barclays, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and JP Morgan investments banks, as well as with a group of private investors organized by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). In Houston, he took part in the CERAweek energy conference, and held meetings with energy companies.

Steinitz told “Globes,” I was surprised to see energy ministers and representatives of energy companies from all over the world congratulate us on the beginning of development in Leviathan, after years of delay. Almost everyone had assumed that Leviathan was a lost cause… especially given the global crisis in investments in oil and gas fields and the fact that some of the deep water projects of the Leviathan type have been canceled or postponed in various places around the world.


“In meetings with some of the world’s largest investment banks, they noted the change in Israel’s image in the energy market, from a place to be avoided into a responsible country attractive for energy investments in general, and private gas in particular. The plans we displayed for building an undersea pipeline to Turkey, and from Israel and Cyprus to Greece and Italy, aroused a surprising degree of interest.”

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Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News – www.globes-online.com – on March 9, 2017
and appears in many Israeli publications, i.e. The Jerusalem Post, March 10, 2017

SustainabiliTank, sorry for the Trump Administration’s definitive efforts to undo the Obama Administration’s great successes in decreasing the place of oil in the global energy markets,
sees now a decreasing importance of the EPA, Energy Policy, Environment Policy and Global Climate Change avoidance. But also a planed subservience of The State Department to the US oil Interests – the revival of the American Petroleum Institute (API) in the Governing of the USA.
Geting the present Israel Government interested in the cooperation in developing sea resources could perhaps take off some of the pressure in the political arena, though clearly inctreasing
pressure against the potential of an Iranian sea base on Syrian soil. All of this within Israel and US State Department attention.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 10th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Columbia Law School Climate Law Blog has posted a new item, ‘A Blow in the Fight
Against Climate Change: EPA Withdraws Oil and Gas Information Request’

By Michael Burger and Romany Webb

Less than a month after being sworn in as Administrator of the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt has already begun dismantling years of
work to curb greenhouse gas emissions. In one of his first official actions,
last Thursday, Administrator Pruitt withdrew a request that oil and gas
companies provide certain information needed to develop new methane regulations
for the industry. The request, which was issued last November, included an
operator survey seeking information on the number and types of equipment used at
onshore oil and gas facilities and a more detailed facility survey which sought
data on methane emissions from equipment leaks and other sources. The operator
survey was to be completed by 15,000 companies, while the facility survey was
sent to a representative sample of 4,650. Most hadn’t yet responded and now,
thanks to the withdrawal, won’t have to. As a result, EPA will remain largely
unaware of the companies’ methane emissions, making appropriate regulation of
them all but impossible. That’s bad news for anyone concerned about climate
change.

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Those interested in the Global Environment and Climate Change will have thus to resort
to indeoendent means during these Trump years. An announcement of such developments
comes to us from Columbia University, New York, as well:

Columbia Law School Climate Law Blog has posted a new item, ‘Sabin Center and
New York State – StateAG.Org Launch Database of Environmental Actions Undertaken by State Attorneys General’

The Sabin Center for Climate Change Law has partnered with StateAG.org to
develop a database of actions undertaken by state attorneys general as they seek
to advance environmental law and policy objectives within their jurisdictions.

The State AG Environmental Action Database is intended as an easy-to-use and
organized legal resource for state attorneys general as they […]

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 9th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Iceland to Private Sector: You WILL Pay Women Fairly

March, 9, 2017

Iceland’s government is set to introduce legislation to parliament that will require all employers with more than 25 employees to obtain certification to prove they are offering equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, sexuality or nationality, the Associated Press reports.

“While other countries, and the U.S. state of Minnesota, have equal-salary certificate policies, Iceland is thought to be the first to make it mandatory for both private and public firms. The North Atlantic island nation, which has a population of about 330,000, wants to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2022,” AP says.

— Rich country progress flatlining. The trend of improving conditions for working women has flatlined within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in recent years, The Economist reports.

“In 2005, 60% of women were in the labor force; ten years later, this ratio had edged up only slightly to 63% (it was 80% for men in both years),” The Economist writes. Meanwhile, the gender wage gap “still around 15%, meaning women as a group earn 85% of what men do.”

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In New York City, New York, USA, the police arrested women leaders of the International Womens’ Day.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 26th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Disjointed World that never was based on Human Rights.

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AN ADDITION WITH GLOBAL INTEREST:

Muhammad ali Jr. – Muhammad Ali’s son detained by immigration staff and repeatedly asked – are you Muslim?
by: Nicole MorleyNicole Morley for Metro.co.ukSaturday 25 Feb 2017

The son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained by immigration staff who asked – ‘are you Muslim?’ {ah! those Trump goons have no idea about America!}

A lawyer claims Muhammad Ali Jr, was asked targeted by immigration officials at a Florida airport who repeatedly asked about his religion and where he got his name.

Chris Mancini tells the Courier-Journal in Louisville that 44-year-old Muhammad Ali Jr. and his mother Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, were arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after returning from Jamaica.
Khalilah Camacho-Ali, who married the boxer in 1967, was in Jamaica with her son to deliver a speech on black history.

Read more: metro.co.uk/2017/02/25/muhammad-a…

Read more: metro.co.uk/2017/02/25/muhammad-a…

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Iran tells U.S. chess champion to wear a hijab – here’s how she responds

By Carlos Garcia Feb 21, 2017

Nazi Paikidze is the reigning U.S. chess champion, but when the Iranian government told her she had to wear a hijab, the Muslim head veil, and restrict contact with men in order to compete in the world competition hosted by Iran this year, she refused. The “morality laws” were supported by FIDE, the international organization that coordinates the world chess championship event.

“By participating, I would be forced to submit to forms of oppression designed specifically for women,” Paikidze told Marie Clare magazine. “It sets the wrong example, particularly for young girls interested in chess.”

Paikidze further explained her decision in a post on Instagram in September.

This is a post for those who don’t understand why I am boycotting FIDE’s decision. I think it’s unacceptable to host a WOMEN’S World Championship in a place where women do not have basic fundamental rights and are treated as second-class citizens. For those saying that I don’t know anything about Iran: I have received the most support and gratitude from the people of Iran, who are facing this situation every day.
Paikidze also retweeted this tweet noting the irony of members of the Swedish team, a country known for its feminist advances, giving in to the gender-specific oppression imposed by Iran by wearing the hijab.

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SECOND ADDITION/UPDATE to this article

This after the night of the Oscar’s and the fact that the Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi won it for best foreign language film – for the second time. But this time, under Trump’s goons – he voluntarily refused to come to the big event as he did not want to submit to the official present US insanity!


Iranian director Asghar Farhadi just won his second Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for The Salesman — but as an act of protest against President Trump’s executive order banning people from seven majority-Muslim countries, and nearly all refugees, from entering the United States, he wasn’t at the ceremony to accept the award.

As Farhadi told the New York Times in a statement when Trump first signed the order in late January, he decided not to attend even if he could be granted an exception, saying it “now seems that the possibility of this presence is being accompanied by ifs and buts which are in no way acceptable to me even if exceptions were to be made for my trip.”

So instead of Farhadi giving a speech, Iranian-American businesswoman Anousheh Ansari — the first Iranian to go to space — read a statement from him:

It’s a great honor to be receiving this valuable award for the second time. I would like to thank the members of the academy, my crew in Iran, my producer, Amazon, and my fellow nominees.

I’m sorry I’m not with you tonight. My absence is out of respect for the people of my country and those of other six nations whom have been disrespected by the inhumane law that bans entry of immigrants to the US. Dividing the world into the “us” and “our enemies” categories creates fear. A deceitful justification for aggression and war. These wars prevent democracy and human rights in countries which have themselves been victims of aggression. Filmmakers can turn their cameras to capture shared human qualities and break stereotypes of various nationalities and religions. They create empathy between us and others. An empathy which we need today more than ever.
This statement falls right in line with one he released in conjunction with all of his fellow Best Foreign Language Film nominees, which they wrote to “express our unanimous and emphatic disapproval of the climate of fanaticism and nationalism we see today in the U.S. and in so many other countries, in parts of the population and, most unfortunately of all, among leading politicians.”

So whether the winner was Farhadi, Denmark’s Martin Zandvliet, Sweden’s Hannes Holm, Germany’s Maren Ade, or Australia’s Martin Butler and Bentley Dean, it’s a safe bet that this acceptance speech wasn’t about to shy away from the harder realities lurking outside the sparkling Hollywood theater.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 24th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Kury Bayer was Board Director at the World Bank (2002/2004) and Board Director at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (2008/12). Since then consultant, columnist and member of think-tanks. He also runs a blog.

Kurt Bayer’s Commentary – GLOBAL ECONOMIC POLICY

FEBRUARY 23, 2017

TRUMP’S SWAMP

During his campaign, US president Trump had promised to dry out the swamp in Washington, D.C. (Austrians will remember the former President Kirchschläger’s announcement, “die sauren Wiesen Österreichs auszutrocknen”). And then, during the week that the new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was confirmed by the Senate, the House of Representatives voted to abolish the „Publish what you pay“ rule, which required listed US gas and oil companies to publish in their annual reports all payments made to foreign governments, be they royalties, fees, bonuses, taxes and any other payments, project by project, country by country.

This rule was part of the Dodd-Frank Act (Section 1504), enacted after long consultation in 2010 as part of the lessons learned from the financial crisis.

It is noteworthy that Mr. Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon-Mobil, had vigorously lobbied against this rule.

Has he now been given a swampy „inaugural dowry“ by his president?

With the original provision, the US had become the leading country to attempt to weed out the endemic corruption enabled by the international hydro-carbon firms to the benefit of the decisionmakers in oil and gas-rich countries.

We know that many of the prime ministers and their ministers in oil-rich countries have become exceedingly rich, while their populations starve.

The Financial Times on Feb. 23, 2017 cites the example of Equatorial Guinea (with ExxonMobil the dominant producer), where per-capita income for the country as a whole has risen to
$ 40.000, while three quarters of the population starve on less than 2 $ per day (the „official“ poverty rate).

Similar conditions reign all over the world. While „Publish-as-you-pay“ may not be the silver bullet against corruption, it was an important first step and has been followed by Canada, Norway and the EU (EU Transparency Directive 2013). A number of international oil companies have begun to report, others were to follow.

Of course, by now we know that the Trump administration (with or without Mr. Tillerson) is partial to the oil, gas and coal industry. His decisions on reversing the existing bans on the Keystone pipeline, on the Dakota access line, on coal mining is only topped by his appointment (and the Senate‘s confirmation) of Mr. Pruitt, the former Oklohoma attorney general, who has 12 lawsuits against his new agency under his belt, and who during his hearing did not agree that hydro-carbons and coal cause climate change.

So, in his first 100 days, President Trump has struck significant blows against world-wide corruption in one of the worst offending sectors, and against the environment, whose protection he (and Congress) have entrusted to a fox in the henhouse.

ExxonMobil will be grateful, as will be a number of dictators and autocrats in many of the oil and gas producing countries.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 23rd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


TRADE, INVESTMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE UNDER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: WHAT LIES AHEAD?

Thursday, February 23, 2017, 7 – 8:30 pm
Columbia Law School, Jerome Greene Hall, 435 West 116th Street (at Amsterdam Avenue), Room 107

This event is open to the public. Registration is not required.

Donald Trump came to office promising sweeping changes to the US’s traditional trade and investment policies. Such shifts on trade and investment could offer an opportunity to align these policies with action on climate change. On the other hand, Trump’s priorities, particularly with respect to developing domestic fossil fuels, signal that trade policies will head in the opposite direction. This panel will discuss how trade and investment policy may be reconciled with climate change imperatives and commitments, the trade risks the Trump administration’s climate policies present, and how the United States Trade Representative might approach these issues in new trade and investment (re)negotiations. This event is co-organized with the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and the Environmental Law Society at Columbia Law School.

Moderator: Michael Gerrard, Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School

Panelists:

Ben Beachy, Senior Policy Advisor, Responsible Trade Program, Sierra Club

Silvia Maciunas, Senior Research Fellow, Center for International Governance Innovation

Dalindyebo Shabalala, Visiting Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University, School of Law, and Director of the Institute on Traditional Knowledge and Intellectual Property.

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The Washington Post Evening Edition – February 22, 2017
Energy and Environment

Thousands of emails detail EPA head’s close ties to fossil fuel industry.


In his previous role as Oklahoma’s attorney general, the Environmental Protection Agency’s new administrator regularly huddled with fossil fuel firms and electric utilities about how to combat federal environmental regulations and spoke to conservative political groups about what they called government “overreach,” according to thousands of pages of emails made public Wednesday.


“The newly released emails reveal a close and friendly relationship between Scott Pruitt’s office and the fossil fuel industry, with frequent meetings, calls, dinners and other events,” said Nick Surgey, research director for the Center for Media and Democracy, which has sued to compel the release of the emails.

The emails highlight an often-chummy relationship between Pruitt’s office and Devon Energy, a major oil and gas exploration and production company based in Oklahoma City. The correspondence makes clear that top officials at the company met often with Pruitt or people who worked for him. Devon representatives also helped draft — and redraft — letters for Pruitt to sign and send to federal officials in an effort to stave off new regulations.

“Any suggestions?” a deputy solicitor general in Pruitt’s office wrote to a Devon executive in early May 2013, including a draft of a letter the office was planning to send to the EPA regarding proposed regulations of methane emissions.

“Here you go,” the executive, Bill Whitsitt replied. “Please note that you could use just the red changes, or both red and blue (the latter being some further improvements from one of our experts) or none.”

“I sent the letter today,” the deputy solicitor general wrote the following day. “Thanks for all your help on this.”

The emails show that Pruitt and his office were in touch with a network of conservative groups, many of which in the past have received backing from billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch, the libertarian owners of Koch Industries, a major oil company. The documents detail not only how Pruitt’s office at times coordinated with industry officials to fight unwanted regulations from Washington, but also how he was a highly sought-after speaker at conferences and other gatherings for groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, which works with corporate interests and state legislators to shape key pieces of legislation.

In one example, Pruitt was a speaker at an ALEC conference on May 3, 2013, in Oklahoma City. He was part of a panel called, “Embracing American Energy Opportunities: From Wellheads to Pipelines.” The event also featured a reception at the Petroleum Club and a luncheon sponsored by Koch Industries.

The Oklahoma attorney general’s office handed over the batch of emails — nearly 7,000 pages in all — this week in order to meet a deadline set by a judge who ordered the documents’ release following more than two years of effort by CMD, a liberal watchdog organization. The group had sued to compel the state to release the documents under public records laws. (The emails can be viewed here.)

[Pruitt to EPA employees: ‘We don’t have to choose’ between jobs and the environment]

Though the emails show Pruitt’s ties with a wide range of fossil fuel interests and conservative political groups, they show a particularly friendly working relationship with officials Devon. Much of the correspondence revolves around arranging speaking engagements, obtaining contact information for people at the federal Office of Management and Budget and coordinating letter-writing efforts.

At one point, Pruitt’s then-chief of staff, Melissa Houston, wrote in a Jan. 9, 2013, email to Whitsitt, Devon’s vice president for public affairs: “You are so amazingly helpful!!! Thank you so much!!!”

In another email chain on March 21, 2013, Whitsitt wrote to Pruitt’s office offering a draft of a letter that state attorneys general might sign and send to the then-acting EPA administrator regarding limits on methane emissions. Devon, which has substantial shale gas and shale oil drilling operations, would have been affected by the rule.

“Attached is a potential first-cut draft of a letter a (bipartisan if possible?) group of AGs might send to the acting EPA administrator and some others in the Administration in response to the NE states’ notice of intent to sue for more E&P emission regulation,” Whitsitt wrote. “It would be a shot across the bow, warning EPA not to not go down a negotiated-rulemaking or wink-at-a sue-and-settle tee-up process.”

s chief of staff replied: “Thanks Bill — we will take a look and start working on a draft.”

In a Nov. 8, 2013, email, Houston asked the Devon VP of public and government affairs, Allen Wright, to take her, her sons and her father to see Devon Tower, a skyscraper in downtown Oklahoma City. Wright asked a colleague to escort her and her family to “50” — apparently the top of the 50-story tower.

In another case, Pruitt received a thankful email from Stuart Solomon, the president and chief operating officer of the Public Service Company of Oklahoma, a utility that’s part of the larger power company American Electric Power. The email came as the company hailed a 2014 decision by the EPA to back off of an attempt to impose a federal plan on Oklahoma for its compliance with the agency’s regional haze rule, and instead accept a plan offered by the state. Pruitt had sued the EPA over its federal plan – which, according to a press release from Solomon’s company, “would have cost the utility and its customers about $650 million more in additional near-term investments than the state plan.”

“Scott, I wanted to tell you personally how much I appreciate your efforts to pave the way for a state solution to meeting the RHR challenge,” said Solomon. “Your lawsuit against EPA, and your encouragement of our efforts to settle this issue in a way that benefits the state, were instrumental in giving us the time and the opportunity to develop a revised state plan.”

Pruitt’s close ties to Devon Energy were first highlighted in 2014 by the New York Times, which reported that a letter ostensibly written by the attorney general alleging that the EPA overestimated air pollution from natural gas drilling was actually written by the company’s attorneys. “That’s actually called representative government in my view of the world,” Pruitt later said of the letter.

The emails’ release comes just days after Pruitt was confirmed as the EPA’s new leader. Senate Democrats and environmental groups made a last-minute push to delay his confirmation vote last week, contending that lawmakers — and the public — ought to be able to review his correspondence with industry officials before putting him in charge of safeguarding the nation’s environment. Republicans forged ahead anyway, and Pruitt was confirmed by a 52-to-46 vote.

In a statement Tuesday, the Oklahoma attorney general’s office said it “went above and beyond what is required under the Open Records Act and produced thousands of additional documents that, but for the Court’s order, would typically be considered records” outside the scope of the act. “This broad disclosure should provide affirmation that, despite politically motivated allegations, the Office of the Attorney General remains fully committed to the letter and spirit of the Open Records Act,” spokesman Lincoln Ferguson said.

Pruitt’s office at EPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

[Scott Pruitt, longtime adversary of EPA, confirmed to lead the agency]


In an email, Devon Energy spokesman John Porretto said the company’s engagement with Pruitt during his time as attorney general was “consistent — and proportionate — with our commitment to engage in conversations with policymakers on a broad range of matters that promote jobs, economic growth and a robust domestic energy sector.” He added: “We have a clear obligation to our shareholders and others to be involved in these discussions related to job growth, economic growth and domestic energy…. It would be indefensible for us to not be engaged in these important issues.”

Environmental groups on Wednesday were quick to criticize Pruitt, arguing that the emails showed once again his penchant for putting the interests of industry over the health of ordinary citizens.

“This is Scott Pruitt’s mission statement: attack environmental safeguards, protect industrial polluters and let the public pay the price,” Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “These emails tell us that he’s in league with the very industries we’ve now entrusted him to police. He so deeply imbedded himself with energy companies that they described Pruitt and his allies as ‘fossil energy AGs,’ a badge of dishonor for a public guardian if ever there were one.”

The Oklahoma attorney general’s office withheld some documents as exempted or privileged and has asked Judge Aletia Haynes Timmons to review whether they should be released, according to the Center for Media and Democracy. Timmons also ordered Pruitt’s former office to hand over records related to five outstanding records requests by early next week.

After unsuccessfully seeking the release of Pruitt’s correspondence with fossil-fuel representatives under public records laws, the center filed suit over his refusal to turn over the documents and requested the expedited hearing that led to Timmons’s order on Thursday. In her ruling, the judge said there had been “an abject failure to provide prompt and reasonable access to documents requested.”

Pruitt sued the EPA more than a dozen times during the Obama administration, challenging the agency’s authority to regulate toxic mercury pollution, smog, carbon emissions from power plants and the quality of wetlands and other waters. During his tenure in Oklahoma, he dismantled a specialized environmental protection unit that had existed under his Democratic predecessor and established a “federalism unit” to combat what he called “unwarranted regulation and systematic overreach” by Washington.

These moves earned him widespread opposition from environmental activists but praise from fellow Republicans and industry representatives, who saw him as a friend to businesses and a staunch opponent of federal regulations they called unnecessary and burdensome.

On Tuesday, Pruitt addressed EPA employees for the first time as their new boss. He spoke of stepping back from the aggressive regulations of recent years and said there need not be a contradiction between environmental protection and energy production or job creation.

“We as an agency and we as a nation can be both pro-energy and jobs and pro-environment,” he said. “We don’t have to choose between the two.”

Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report. This post has been updated.

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Further articles with relevance:

Hundreds of current, former EPA employees urge Senate to reject Trump’s nominee for the agency

The West’s largest coal-fired power plant is closing. Not even Trump can save it.

Trump EPA official juggles two jobs in two Washingtons, and it hasn’t gone well

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 22nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


The Supreme Court ruled 5:2 in favor of a death row inmate in Texas whose own lawyers introduced evidence at trial that he was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black.Thomas and Alioto dissented.

Washington (CNN) The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in favor of a death row inmate in Texas whose own lawyers introduced evidence at trial that he was more likely to be dangerous in the future because he is black.

The court ruled that the inmate, Duane Buck, will now be able to go back into a lower court and argue that he should have a new sentencing hearing.

In a 6-2 ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion holding that Buck has “demonstrated both ineffective assistance of counsel” and has an “entitlement to relief.”
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.

“But our holding on prejudice makes clear that Buck may have been sentenced to death in part because of his race. As an initial matter, this is a disturbing departure from a basic premise of our criminal justice system: Our law punishes people for what they do, not who they are,” Roberts wrote.

At another point the Chief wrote: “When a jury hears expert testimony that expressly makes a defendant’s race directly pertinent on the question of life or death, the impact of that evidence cannot be measured simply by how much air time it received at trial or how many pages it occupies in the record. Some toxins can be deadly in small doses.”

Roberts sent the case back down to the lower court for further proceedings.

The case comes at a time of racial unrest in the criminal justice system.

It also comes as two justices, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, have argued the court should take another look at the constitutionality of the death penalty. They questioned, in part, whether the penalty was being applied arbitrarily throughout the country.

At oral arguments, several justices had expressed concern about the testimony introduced in the case.

“What occurred at the penalty phase of this trial is indefensible,” said Justice Samuel Alito, who called the testimony “bizarre.”

“What competent counsel would put that evidence before a jury?” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked.

Justice Stephen Breyer questioned whether there was “some good reason” Buck shouldn’t be able to reopen his case.

Buck has been on death row for the 1995 murders of Debra Gardner and Kenneth Butler. He did not argue his innocence, but asked for a new sentencing hearing because his own trial counsel was ineffective.

His lawyers argued that “no constitutional rule is more important than the dictate that race must play no role in a criminal sentence, much less a capital sentence.”

The legal issue before the court was whether Buck’s case meets the “extraordinary circumstances” test justifying the reopening of his sentencing.

At the heart of the matter was the testimony provided by Dr. Walter Quijano, one of two psychologists retained by the defense. Quijano testified that the fact that Buck was black “increased the probability” that he would commit future acts of criminal violence. In Texas, so-called “future dangerousness” must be established before a death sentence is rendered.
“Put another way,” Buck’s current lawyers argued in court papers, “Mr. Buck’s lawyers presented evidence that Mr. Buck was more deserving of a death sentence under Texas law because of his race.”

They said such prejudicial evidence is the “epitome of ineffective assistance of counsel.”
The state itself eventually conceded error in six other cases where Quijano’s testimony had been elicited, they pointed out.

Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller drew a distinction in court between Buck’s case and the others because it was the defense itself who called Quijano and elicited race-related testimony on direct examination.

In the opinion, Roberts emphasized the unusual circumstances of Buck’s case suggesting that it might not impact other death row inmates.

In court, Keller addressed the circumstances surrounding Buck’s crime, including the fact that he murdered his ex-girlfriend, Gardner, in front of her children.

Keller pointed to the fact that he also shot his stepsister at point-blank range and shot another man through the heart.

But he was cut off, as the justices circled back to the race-based testimony.

Keller also argued that Quijano’s testimony played a limited role at trial, and that other evidence of his future dangerousness came from the brutality of the murders, Buck’s lack of remorse after he was apprehended as well as the testimony of another ex-girlfriend.

A group called the National Black Law Students Association, however, filed a brief in support of Buck emphasizing how the group believes the case impacts race relations today.
“When an expert witness told the jury that Mr. Buck was dangerous because he is black, he dredged up into the open for all members of the jury to see the monstrous specter that is never far from the surface: the violent black brute, the single most fearful, dehumanizing and cruel stereotype black people have had to endure,” wrote the group’s lawyer, Deborah N. Archer.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 22nd, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

For registration to the event – please go to:

 www.eventbrite.com/e/ethics-in-a…

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If the weather last month seemed a little out of season, there was a reason. According to NASA, January 2017 was the third-warmest January on record, 0.92 degrees Celsius warmer than the average temperature in the month from 1951-1980.

Dr. James Hansen was one of the first scientists to raise awareness of the global threat posed by climate change. His 1988 Congressional testimony helped put global warming in the public consciousness and he has been a leading voice on the subject ever since.

On March 2 at 6:30 PM, you’ll have the chance to learn from Dr. Hansen as he joins Professor Jeffrey Sachs for a one-hour discussion at the New York Society for Ethical Culture.

At the event, Professor Sachs and Dr. Hansen will discuss the reality and ethical dimension of climate change, including what New York City can do to align with the Paris Agreement and decarbonize its energy system.

You’ll also have the unique opportunity to ask a question of Dr. Hansen. Just submit yours during the registration process!

About Dr. James Hansen
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Dr. James Hansen, formerly Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where he directs a program in Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions. Dr. Hansen is best known for his testimony on climate change in the 1980s that helped raise awareness of global warming. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards including the Sophie and Blue Planet Prizes. Dr. Hansen is recognized for speaking truth to power and for outlining actions needed to protect the future of young people and all species on the planet.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 20th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


Pence seeks to reassure European allies unnerved by Trump

He tried to reinforce the U.S. commitment to the security of Europe and the historic transatlantic partnership. But though Pence stressed that he was speaking on behalf of the president, it was clear to al that Trump offered very different views an ocean away – the real Trump speaking to his burly followers at Melbourne, Florida.

The Washington Post asks about Pence: “Shadow president or mere shadow?”

The Swedes asked what did Trump smoke? He plainly invented a set of “Pseudo-facts” about Sweden, well beyond his proven fall by “Alternate-Facts” – does Trump hallucinate or is he making up lies. Fox News never said what he contends to have picked up there. This is clearly psychopathic behavior – unsustainable and the talk all over is that while celebrating his first month in power, he has collected enough bad points to see his presidency end before his first year in office at the seat of power.

Trump called NATO “obsolete” and rose to electoral victory on the promise of a more isolationist “America First” set of populist policies. Pence stressed repeatedly that the USA continues to be committed to NATO even though it would like to see higher military expenditures by the Europeans.

In Vienna it is not accepted that Trump represents populism, they rather think he dreams up a new form of dictatorship – very different from Italian fascism and somewhat different from Nazism. He just does not accept any form of Socialism.

Pence’s inner-circle credibility took a dive last week when news emerged that former national security Michael Flynn had misled the vice president about conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador to the United States — claims the vice president repeated on the Sunday shows. Although Trump ultimately demanded Flynn’s resignation, Pence was in the dark for two full weeks and only learned he had been lied to from news reports.

An Israeli Former Mossad head said that Flynn was the fall guy to save Trump. The obvious question is if Trump will yet throw up Pence as well?

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)


EPA Halves Staff Attending Environmental Conference In Alaska.

February 10, 20178:07 AM ET on NPR
RACHEL WALDHOLZ
BILL CHAPPELL

 www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2…

Days before this week’s Alaska Forum on the Environment, the EPA said it was sending half of the people who had planned to attend. The nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s pick to head the EPA, is still pending confirmation.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s presence at an environmental conference in Alaska this week was cut in half, after the Trump administration’s transition officials ordered the change. The agency had helped to plan the Alaska Forum on the Environment — but days before it was to start, word came that half of the EPA’s 34 planned attendees wouldn’t be making the trip.

“We were informed that EPA was directed by the White House transition team to minimize their participation in the Alaska Forum on the Environment to the extent possible,” forum director Kurt Eilo says.

The change has created awkward scenes at the conference, particularly at events meant to highlight the EPA’s role in Alaska, a state known for both its pristine ecosystems and its oil production.

More than a thousand people attend the multiday event in downtown Anchorage each year, and the EPA is normally a major partner. This year, agency officials were scheduled to take part in about 30 sessions on everything from drinking water and sanitation in rural Alaska to climate change adaptation.

In an emailed statement, EPA transition official Doug Ericksen says the decision to cut back is an effort to limit excessive travel costs. He says a review last week found that EPA spent $44 million sending employees to 25 outside conferences in 2016. When officials learned that 34 employees were slated to attend the Alaska event, they slashed the number to 17.

“This is one small example of how EPA will be working cooperatively with our staff and our outside partners to be better stewards of the American people’s money,” Ericksen said.

Some EPA staff whose plans to attend the conference were revoked would have come from Seattle or Washington, D.C. — but Eilo said others are based just blocks away from the downtown Anchorage site.

Eilo himself was an EPA enforcement officer when he founded the Alaska conference two decades ago. He says this is the first time he can recall this happening. While he understands the impulse to review travel spending, he says the cutbacks also raise a red flag.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty among folks here at the forum,” Eilo said. “There’s concern about the tribal programs, there’s concern about how we’re going to address things like climate change in the next upcoming administration.”

As the Alaska Dispatch News reports, one panel discussion that was to feature six EPA staffers Tuesday instead included two EPA representatives. While the topic had originally been planned to center on the agency’s grant system, the officials instead fielded questions about changes at the EPA.

The order to reduce staff numbers at the conference is the latest sign of a shift in priorities for the EPA under a new president. Days after President Trump’s inauguration, Ericksen said the agency’s scientists will likely need to have their work reviewed on a “case by case basis” before it can be made public.

On Thursday, the fourth day of the weeklong conference in Anchorage, attendees kicked snow off their shoes as they walked into the Dena’ina Center. Many were unaware that the EPA presence had been slashed. Organizer Elio acknowledges that the agency worked hard to minimize disruption from the change in plans. In the end, only one of the conference’s more than 100 sessions had to be canceled.

The conference drew attendees who had flown in from Alaska’s rural communities where the EPA works with tribes to fund programs on drinking water, sanitation and trash collection. Breakout sessions focused on issues such as brownfield cleanup, emergency response and dealing with coastal erosion due to climate change.

Billy Maines is the environmental coordinator for the Curyung Tribal Council in Dillingham, Alaska, who also serves as an adviser to EPA Region 10 on its tribal programs. He said the agency’s direct assistance to Alaska’s rural communities is vital.

“They’re trying to take up and clean up their dumps, landfills, trying to recycle and get what waste goes into their communities, out of their communities,” he said.

Maines and others worry the cutback on conference attendees might be a sign of broader, and more painful, budget cuts to come.

Trump’s nominee for EPA chief is Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general who has criticized — and repeatedly sued — the agency he’s now in line to lead.

Pruitt’s nomination was advanced to the full Senate last week, after Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee refused to attend meetings that were meant to hold confirmation votes on Pruitt.

During his confirmation hearing weeks earlier, Pruitt said his past actions had been made out of concern for his home state and that if he were to lead the EPA, his decisions would be dictated by “the rule of law.”

Pruitt, who has questioned climate change, also sought to answer critics who have faulted him for that stance, saying in a January hearing:

“Let me say to you, science tells us that the climate is changing and that human activity in some matter impacts that change. The ability to measure with precision the degree and extent of that impact, and what to do about it, are subject to continuing debate and dialogue. And well it should be.”

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Rachel Waldholz reports for Alaska Public Media.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Washington (CNN) – February 11, 2017 – President Donald Trump taunted Democrats by telling them “Pocahontas is now the face of your party” — his insult of choice for Sen. Elizabeth Warren — during a meeting with senators earlier this week, sources told CNN.

The sources said the Warren moment came up in the context of Trump’s impromptu analysis of the state of the Democratic Party. Trump made his comments in what appeared to be a reference to Warren’s criticism of Attorney General Jeff Sessions during his confirmation process. Her comments prompted Republicans to invoke an arcane rule to cut her off.


Trump to Dems: ‘Pocahontas is now the face of your party.’

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For the benefit of A US President who clearly knows very little about American history, and seemingly knows very little of history – period – here material about the woman he dared to mention thinking he uses her name as an insult against a US Senator whose Constitutional right to speak out was cut by the President’s Republican gang leader of the US Senate.

The Pocahontas Myth:

Note: Many Pocahontas descendents have sent us inquiries regarding membership. Please see our frequently asked questions for information regarding Pocahontas’ descendents and Powhatan membership.

In 1995, Roy Disney decided to release an animated movie about a Powhatan woman known as “Pocahontas”. In answer to a complaint by the Powhatan Nation, he claims the film is “responsible, accurate, and respectful.”

We of the Powhatan Nation disagree. The film distorts history beyond recognition. Our offers to assist Disney with cultural and historical accuracy were rejected. Our efforts urging him to reconsider his misguided mission were spurred.

“Pocahontas” was a nickname, meaning “the naughty one” or “spoiled child”. Her real name was Matoaka. The legend is that she saved a heroic John Smith from being clubbed to death by her father in 1607 – she would have been about 10 or 11 at the time. The truth is that Smith’s fellow colonists described him as an abrasive, ambitious, self-promoting mercenary soldier.

Of all of Powhatan’s children, only “Pocahontas” is known, primarily because she became the hero of Euro-Americans as the “good Indian”, one who saved the life of a white man. Not only is the “good Indian/bad Indian theme” inevitably given new life by Disney, but the history, as recorded by the English themselves, is badly falsified in the name of “entertainment”.

The truth of the matter is that the first time John Smith told the story about this rescue was 17 years after it happened, and it was but one of three reported by the pretentious Smith that he was saved from death by a prominent woman.

Yet in an account Smith wrote after his winter stay with Powhatan’s people, he never mentioned such an incident. In fact, the starving adventurer reported he had been kept comfortable and treated in a friendly fashion as an honored guest of Powhatan and Powhatan’s brothers. Most scholars think the “Pocahontas incident” would have been highly unlikely, especially since it was part of a longer account used as justification to wage war on Powhatan’s Nation.

Euro-Americans must ask themselves why it has been so important to elevate Smith’s fibbing to status as a national myth worthy of being recycled again by Disney. Disney even improves upon it by changing Pocahontas from a little girl into a young woman.

The true Pocahontas story has a sad ending. In 1612, at the age of 17, Pocahontas was treacherously taken prisoner by the English while she was on a social visit, and was held hostage at Jamestown for over a year.

During her captivity, a 28-year-old widower named John Rolfe took a “special interest” in the attractive young prisoner. As a condition of her release, she agreed to marry Rolfe, who the world can thank for commercializing tobacco. Thus, in April 1614, Matoaka, also known as “Pocahontas”, daughter of Chief Powhatan, became “Rebecca Rolfe”. Shortly after, they had a son, whom they named Thomas Rolfe. The descendants of Pocahontas and John Rolfe were known as the “Red Rolfes.”

Two years later on the spring of 1616, Rolfe took her to England where the Virginia Company of London used her in their propaganda campaign to support the colony. She was wined and dined and taken to theaters. It was recorded that on one occasion when she encountered John Smith (who was also in London at the time), she was so furious with him that she turned her back to him, hid her face, and went off by herself for several hours. Later, in a second encounter, she called him a liar and showed him the door.

Rolfe, his young wife, and their son set off for Virginia in March of 1617, but “Rebecca” had to be taken off the ship at Gravesend. She died there on March 21, 1617, at the age of 21. She was buried at Gravesend, but the grave was destroyed in a reconstruction of the church. It was only after her death and her fame in London society that Smith found it convenient to invent the yarn that she had rescued him.

History tells the rest. Chief Powhatan died the following spring of 1618. The people of Smith and Rolfe turned upon the people who had shared their resources with them and had shown them friendship. During Pocahontas’ generation, Powhatan’s people were decimated and dispersed and their lands were taken over. A clear pattern had been set which would soon spread across the American continent.

Chief Roy Crazy Horse

Pocahontas (born Matoaka, known as Amonute, (1596–1617) was a 100% Native American.
Born at Werowocomoco, present-day Gloucester County, Virginia
Died on March 1617 (aged 20–21)
Gravesend, Kent, Kingdom of England
Resting place St George’s Church, Gravesend

Senator Elizabeth Ann Warren is an American academic and politician. She is a member of the Democratic Party, and is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts.
She never was involved in te real estate business.

Born (née Herring; born June 22, 1949, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
Office: Senator (D-MA) since 2013
Previous office: Elizabeth Warren became the first member of her family to graduate from college, eventually earning her law degree from Rutgers University. After teaching law at several universities, Warren was selected to lead the National Bankruptcy Review Commission. In 2008, she headed the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
She was Special Advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (2010–2011)
Education: Rutgers School of Law – Newark (1976),
Spouse: Jim Warren – a legal historian (m. 1968–1978), Bruce Mann (m. 1980),

Warren’s campaign or the Senate seat from Massachusetts ran into some trouble in early 2012, when she found herself in a media maelstrom over her Native American ancestry claims.

Reporters for the Boston Herald could not find any proof of her Cherokee heritage, and a Cherokee genealogist also challenged Warren’s assertion.

To try to quell the controversy, Warren released a statement to Boston’s WBZ-TV. “Growing up, my mother and grandparents often talked about our family’s Native American heritage. As a kid, I never thought to ask them for documentation—what kid would?” Warren further explained that “I never sought nor gained personal benefit in school or job applications based on my heritage.”

Despite this controversy, in June 2012, Warren clinched the Democratic nomination in the Senate race, facing incumbent Republican opponent, Senator Scott Brown. The candidates were involved in a tight race. A poll released in September 2012 by the Public Policy Polling showed that Brown had a five-point lead over her.

So, what percentage Amerindian blood flows in her veins? Probably some as most local Oklahomans have in their veins some Cherokee blood – that is some of the Cherokee women that were not killed or expelled but kept as practical slaves. Ah, those nicewhite settlers of tat land.

The issue gets in effect worse wen we start looking at Senator Elizabeth Warren’s tormentor –
Republican Majority Leader of the Senate – Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. His Spouse: Elaine Chao (m. 1993), Sherrill Redmon (m. 1968–1993) Who is not a white woman – so we would like to believe he is not racist. But his wife is a cabinet member appointed by the Trump Administration. We find this interesting.

But why did Mitch McConnell not allow Elizabeth Warren read Coretta Scott King’s letter opposing racist Sessions as part of the hearing so it had to be read by protesters outside his Washington home?

Also, searching the internet we found: “The most prominent early Indian tribes in Kentucky were the Cherokee, Chickasaws, and Shawnee. Most of these tribes were eliminated from Kentucky by about the early 1800s either through warfare or resettlement to other territories by the federal government. So, Kentucky is not different from Oklahoma. What percentage Amerindian blood does Mr. McConnell carry in his veins? Is this higher or lower then Elizabeth Warrens?

We do not know – Does President Trump know?
So why does he talk about something he does not know?
Is his education level at a bar-height just of a Walt Disney movie?

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Just one more comment – it is based on a column y Peter Praschl in the German “Die Welt” – January 18, 2017 – a rather conservative paper that wrote what I will mention here – right before the Change of White House residents.

“THE PRESIDENT OF BOOKS – Barack Obama was one of the most active readers in the White House. His Summer-reading-list made authors famous. This is over now.”
This showed already

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 9th, 2017
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 2, 2017
Contact: Clinton Foundation Press Office,  press at clintonfoundation.org

President Clinton and Chelsea Clinton to Convene More Than 1,000 Students from Around the World at 10th Annual CGI University Meeting

Now Accepting Applications for CGI University 2017, October 13-15 at Northeastern University in Boston

February 2, 2017 — The 10th annual Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) meeting—hosted by President Bill Clinton and Chelsea Clinton—will take place October 13-15, 2017 at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. More than 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students will be joined by thought leaders from around the world to address some of the most pressing social, economic, and environmental concerns of their generation.

Since its first meeting, CGI U has brought together more than 8,700 students from more than 940 schools, 145 countries, and all 50 states. These students have developed projects including a predictive model for energy efficiency retrofits in New York City buildings, a mentorship program to promote confidence, deconstruct gender stereotypes and build leadership for young girls, a mobile texting app that prevents the sale of counterfeit prescription drugs in the developing world, and the creation of support centers for victims of gender-based violence in Pakistan.

Students interested in attending CGI U 2017 can submit their applications here by May 1, 2017. Students requesting travel/lodging assistance must apply by the early decision deadline of March 1, 2017. Further details on the meeting and application process are below, and can also be found here.

CGI U is one of many service and leadership development programs run by the Clinton Foundation. Other opportunities include the Presidential Leadership Scholars program, a unique initiative created in partnership with the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the Clinton Presidential Center, the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation, and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation to support some of the most promising leaders in America, and the Clinton Foundation Day of Action, a community service program that has mobilized more than 6,000 volunteers who have collectively donated more than 25,500 volunteer hours to date.


CGI UNIVERSITY: A HUB FOR YOUNG INNOVATORS

The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), established in 2007 by President Bill Clinton, brings together college and university students to address global challenges with new, specific, and measurable plans called Commitments to Action. Whether building a digital platform to empower youth in the U.S. foster care system or providing rural Latin American communities with solar energy solutions, CGI U participants are among the world’s most promising young social innovators. Through CGI U’S annual meeting and year-round support, student participants create action plans, build relationships, and participate in hands-on workshops as they carry out their Commitments to Action.

The CGI U meeting takes place at an accredited college or university each year—previous CGI U meetings have been held at Tulane University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Miami, the University of California at San Diego, the George Washington University, Washington University in St. Louis, Arizona State University, and the University of California at Berkeley.


HOW TO APPLY FOR CGI U 2017

Applications for CGI U 2017 are now open here. To attend CGI U 2017, students must be at least 18 years of age and currently enrolled in an institution of higher education at the time of application. Students who will be at least 18 years of age and enrolled in an institution of higher education by October 2017 are also eligible to apply.

Applicants are required to submit a detailed plan for their Commitment to Action that addresses a specific problem in one of five focus areas: Education, Environment and Climate Change, Poverty Alleviation, Peace and Human Rights, and Public Health.

The CGI U meeting is free to attend, though students must fund their own travel and lodging. Students requesting travel and/or lodging assistance must submit their application by the early decision deadline: March 1, 2017. All other applications must be submitted by the final deadline: May 1, 2017.

For any questions about the application process, please call 212.710.4492 or email  cgiu.applicant at clintonglobalinitiativ….

HIGHER EDUCATION FACULTY AND ADMINISTRATORS: JOIN THE CGI UNIVERSITY NETWORK

We are proud to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the CGI University Network—a growing consortium of colleges and universities that support, mentor, and provide seed funding to leading student innovators and entrepreneurs.

The following schools will celebrate five consecutive years of membership in the CGI University Network this year. We applaud their dedication to engaging the next generation of leaders.

Arizona State University
Cornell University
Duke University
Johnson C. Smith University
Middlebury College
Northeastern University
Rutgers University
Southern Methodist University
The Ohio State University
Tufts University
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, San Diego
University of Central Florida
University of Houston
University of Miami

More than 60 schools have already joined for 2017, pledging more than $710,000 to support student commitment-makers from their campuses. All funding for the CGI University Network is raised and provided by participating University Network schools and given directly to students from these schools.

For a current list of universities who have joined the University Network for 2017, please write to the foundation..

CGI University is now accepting applications from eligible students over the age of 18. The early decision deadline is March 1, 2017; the final deadline is May 1, 2017. For more information and to submit an application, please visit cgiu.org

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About the Clinton Global Initiative University

The Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), established in 2007 by President Clinton, brings together college students to discuss and address global challenges with practical, innovative solutions by making Commitments to Action – new, specific, and measurable initiatives that can be small or large, local or global, financial or nonmonetary in nature. Through its annual meeting and ongoing programmatic support, CGI U supports students in their efforts to create action plans, build relationships, participate in hands-on workshops, and follow up as they complete their projects.

CGI U is proof that young people have the power to make a significant impact by confronting some of the world’s most urgent challenges. Since it’s first meeting, CGI U has brought together more than 8,700 students from more than 940 schools, 145 countries, and all 50 states, and nearly $3 million in funding has been awarded to these commitment-makers through CGI U. These students have made more than 6,250 Commitments to Action ranging from establishing a predictive model for energy efficiency retrofits in New York City buildings to a mobile texting app that prevents the sale of counterfeit prescription drugs in the developing world, from designing a lightweight water filtration backpack that provides drinkable water in disaster zones to support centers for victims of gender-based violence in Pakistan.

The CGI U meeting takes place at an accredited college or university each year, and previous CGI U meetings have been held at Tulane University, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Miami, the University of California at San Diego, the George Washington University, Washington University in St. Louis, Arizona State University, and the University of California at Berkeley.

To learn more, visit cgiu.org and follow us on Twitter @CGIU and Facebook at facebook.com

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