Top Climate Scientist Quits USDA, Accuses Trump Administration of Trying to Bury Research

Lewis Ziska, one of the United States’ leading climate-change scientists, has quit the USDA’s Agriculture Department and says he’s protesting the Trump administration’s attempts to bury one of his studies. The study, which was published in Science Advances, was about how rice loses nutrients to the increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere—which has implications for the 600 million people who depend on rice for most of their calories. Ziska, who’s worked at the USDA for 20 years, says the Trump administration questioned the findings of his study and attempted to minimize its press coverage. “This was a joint decision by ARS national program leaders—all career scientists—not to send out a press release on this paper,” a statement released by the USDA said in response to Ziska’s complaint.

Several government employees recently reported that they’d lost their jobs over climate-change disagreements and a Politico investigation showed that the USDA regularly buried its own climate-research discoveries. “You get the sense that things have changed, that this is not a place for you to be exploring things that don’t agree with someone’s political views,” Ziska said.

[Daily Beast]

Trump Baselessly Claims Google ‘Manipulated’ Millions of 2016 Votes: ‘My Victory Was Even Bigger Than Thought!’

President Donald Trump claimed Monday that Google manipulated 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, and called for the company to be sued.

“This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued,” said Trump. ” My victory was even bigger than thought!”

Trump did not link the source of his report, but he tagged conservative watch dog organization Judicial Watch. Psychologist and commentator Dr. Robert Epsteinmade similar claims while testifying before Congress in July.

Trump has repeatedly claimed he did not lose the popular vote, though reportsshow he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million in 2016.

He’s also previously blamed his popular vote loss on “illegal” votes, or those of undocumented immigrants.

[Mediaite]

Reality

Trump appears to be referring to the work of Robert Epstein, a researcher with a group based in Vista, Calif., called the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology. Epstein testified in a Senate hearing in June about what he calls the “Search Engine Manipulation Effect” and claimed that his research shows Google’s search results pushed at least 2.6 milllion people to vote for Clinton in 2016.

In 2017, Google dismissed Epstein’s research, telling The Washington Post that it amounts to “nothing more than a poorly constructed conspiracy theory.”

Trump Just Shared an Anti-Immigrant Tweet from a QAnon Conspiracy Theorist Named ‘MAGA Michelle’

Imagery for the QAnon conspiracy movement has become increasingly present at Trump rallies and among pro-Trump social media users. It even made a campaign ad

Now, the president has breathed yet more life into it.

During his morning Twitter session Thursday, Trump quote-tweeted an anti-immigrant post by “MAGA Michelle.” The user’s bio includes the hashtag #WWG1WGA — short for “where we go one, we go all” — a phrase that followers of the deep-state conspiracy frequently attach to their social media posts. 

“My children & grandchildren are dreamers & should COME FIRST! Trump we got ur back, build that wall 100 ft tall!” MAGA Michelle wrote over a video of a black Trump supporter. “Hey Democrats that plantation is getting smaller by the day!”

Trump replied in sharing the post: “Thank you, and the Wall is under major construction!”

MAGA Michelle has previously tangoed with the Trump family, as noted by Alex Kaplan, a researcher for the liberal group Media Matters for America. After the author E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of rape in New York magazine in June, the user helped promote the conspiracy that Carroll had ripped off the story from a 2012 episode of Law & Order. Donald Trump Jr. later liked at least one post spreading that hoax.

President Trump — who’s blown all his predecessors out of the water in lies and falsehoods — has been on a tear recently sharing conspiracies. Along with recent tags or retweets of QAnon and Pizzagate-linked accounts, he shared a post by an avowedly pro-Trump social media personality that suggested Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide was actually a staged hit by the Clinton family. 

Trump’s explanation for sharing the tweet? The man has a lot of followers.

“The retweet — which is what it was, just a retweet — was from somebody that’s a very respected conservative pundit,” Trump told reporters afterward. “So I think that was fine.”

[Vice]

Trump retweets conspiracy theory alleging ‘voter fraud is real’ — even though his government never could find it

President Donald Trump is once again spreading conspiracy theories to his 63 million Twitter followers.

On Tuesday evening, the commander-in-chief retweeted Trump fanboy Charlie Kirk arguing that voter fraud is real.

The tweet in question was originally sent on April 28th.

“Voter fraud is real,” Kirk argued.

“Los Angeles county has a registration rate of 112% its adult population,” he claimed. “The entire state of California has a registration rate of 101%. 11 of 58 counties in CA have registration rates above 100%.

“Is this why California is solid blue?” he asked, with a chin-scratching emoji.

Trump has long had a fixation on voter fraud. He inaccurately claimed that he only lost the popular vote in 2016 because of fraud. So in May of 2017, he created a commission to study the issue and appointed Vice President Mike Pence and then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to investigate.

The commission disbanded in January of 2018 and later that year Kobach lost his bid to be governor of Kansas.

[Raw Story]

Trump defends promoting conspiracy theory about Epstein’s death: ‘It was a retweet’


President Trump
 on Tuesday defended promoting a baseless conspiracy theory that ties the Clintons to the death of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, saying it was “fine” because he was only retweeting what someone else said.

“The retweet — which is what it was, it was a retweet — was from somebody that is a very respected conservative pundit. So I think it was fine,” Trump told reporters before heading to Pennsylvania for a speech.

Asked later if he truly believes the Clintons are involved in Epstein’s death, Trump said “I have no idea” before pointing to former President Bill Clinton‘s relationship with the disgraced financier.

Trump, who ran in the same social circles with Epstein before he said they had a falling out, said he would like there to be a “full investigation” into the convicted sex offender’s death.

“I want a full investigation and that’s what I absolutely am demanding,” Trump said.

Trump on Saturday shared a tweet from Terrence K. Williams that blamed Epstein’s death on Bill and Hillary Clinton without providing any evidence. 

The tweet included the hashtags #ClintonBodyCount and #ClintonCrimeFamily, as well as a photo of both the former president and former secretary of State.

Attorney General William Barr said Monday that Justice Department officials will thoroughly investigate “serious irregularities” at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, where Epstein was found dead of an apparent suicide over the weekend.

Epstein was found dead early Saturday in his jail cell in the New York federal prison, where he was awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking charges. He had been a registered sex offender following an earlier conviction in 2008 of soliciting sex from underage girls.

Trump and Epstein were known to run in the same social circles in New York and Florida. Trump told New York magazine in a 2002 article that Epstein is a “terrific guy” and “a lot of fun to be with.”

The president said last month in the wake of fresh charges against Epstein that the two had a falling out 15 years ago.

“I knew him like everybody in Palm Beach knew him. I mean, people in Palm Beach knew him,” Trump said a day after the charges against Epstein were unsealed. “He was a fixture in Palm Beach. I had a falling out with him a long time ago. I don’t think I’ve spoken to him for 15 years. I wasn’t a fan.” 

[The Hill]

Trump: Voter ID must play ‘very strong part’ in deal on election security

President Trump on Tuesday said Congress should not consider any “final agreement” on election security that does not include provisions mandating voters present identification while casting ballots. 

“No debate on Election Security should go forward without first agreeing that Voter ID (Identification) must play a very strong part in any final agreement. Without Voter ID, it is all so meaningless!” Trump tweeted Tuesday. 

Trump has long touted unfounded claims that he only lost the 2016 popular vote by 3 million ballots because of “millions of people who voted illegally.”

The president went on to retweet a post claiming without evidence that certain areas in California, a reliably blue state, have more registered voters than adults. 

The tweets come as Democrats pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to take up two election security bills that have passed through the House. The legislation requires the use of paper ballots, includes funding for the Election Assistance Commission and mandates candidates, campaign officials and their family members to notify the FBI if foreign governments offer assistance.

McConnell has resisted calls to take up the bills, saying Democrats are trying to give themselves a “political benefit” and the request “is not a serious effort to make a law.”

Democrats renewed their calls for the Senate to boost election security after former special counsel Robert Mueller, who spent two years investigating Russia’s election meddling in 2016, testified last month that Moscow is seeking to replicate its efforts next year. 

“Mueller’s testimony was a clarion call for election security. Mueller’s testimony should be a wake-up call to every American, Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative, that the integrity of our elections is at stake. … This is all about the future of this country,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said last month.

[The Hill]

Trump retweets post promoting conspiracy theory about Jeffrey Epstein’s death

President Trump on Saturday retweeted a post promoting a conspiracy theory about Jeffrey Epstein‘s death. 

The tweet, by Twitter user Terrence K. Williams, blamed the death on former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Clinton and does not provide evidence. 

The tweet included the hashtags #ClintonBodyCount and #ClintonCrimeFamily, as well as a photo of both the former president and former secretary of State. Conspiracy theories linking the death to both the Clinton and Trump himself trended Saturday on Twitter. 

Bill Clinton‘s spokesman Angel Ureña responded by writing “Ridiculous, and of course not true — and Donald Trump knows it. Has he triggered the 25th Amendment yet?”

The Hill has attempted to reach the White House and Hillary Clinton for comment.

Officials on Saturday said that Epstein, who had been indicted on sex-trafficking charges, died overnight by an apparent suicide while in jail.

Epstein, a registered sex offender, was arrested last month and was awaiting trial. 

He has been linked to both Trump and Bill Clinton, but both have denied wrongdoing in their meetings with the financier.

[The Hill]

Trump Official Lynne Patton Promotes Clinton Conspiracy in Jeffrey Epstein Suicide

Lynne Patton, the head of New York and New Jersey’s Housing and Urban Development, promoted a Hillary Clinton conspiracy theory in the wake of Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide.

At around 6:30 a.m. on August 10, Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Epstein is believed to have killed himself by hanging. At the time of his death, Epstein was not on suicide watch. A few weeks earlier, it was widely reported that Epstein had attempted suicide in his cell.

Epstein was 66 years old. Epstein, a financier, was arrested in July 2019 and accused of sex trafficking minors in Florida and New York. Epstein’s connections to the political and business worlds had led to his case becoming front page news across the world.

Shortly after news of Epstein’s arrest spread, Patton posted this to her Instagram page.

The caption for the post read, “Hillary’d!! 😳P.S. Let me know when I’m supposed to feel badly about this… #VinceFosterPartTwo.” On that Instagram page, Patton says of herself, “Longtime Trump Aide | RNC Speaker | Posts are my own & do not represent @HUDgov, incl. all images, links, tags & comments left by readers | NY ✈️ DC.” 

The reference to Vince Foster is regarding Bill Clinton’s former White House counsel who committed suicide in July 1993, six months after Clinton took office. Five separate investigations ruled Foster’s death a suicide. Despite this, conspiracy theories regarding a Clinton-led cover-up remain to this day.

NBC News’ Tom Winter tweeted about Epstein suicide considering he had been on suicide watch saying, “It is really incomprehensible how Jeffrey Epstein was allowed to be in a position where he could hang himself. High-profile defendant. Previous attempt at injuring himself. Dozens of victims seeking justice they now won’t get. The law enforcement community is steaming.”

Conservative talk show host Andrew Wilkow reiterated the Clinton conspiracy theory in a tweet that read, “#JeffreyEpstein attempted suicide before, was he or was he not suicide watch? If not who decided to give him another chance? This has the Clinton’s fingerprints all over it.”

Less than two hours after Epstein’s suicide was announced, the term “ClintonBodyCount” became a trending topic on Twitter. As did the phrase “Another Clinton.”

[Heavy]

White House proposal would have FCC and FTC police alleged social media censorship

A draft executive order from the White House could put the Federal Communications Commission in charge of shaping how Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR) and other large tech companies curate what appears on their websites, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.

The draft order, a summary of which was obtained by CNN, calls for the FCC to develop new regulations clarifying how and when the law protects social media websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms. Although still in its early stages and subject to change, the Trump administration’s draft order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into account when it investigates or files lawsuits against misbehaving companies.

If put into effect, the order would reflect a significant escalation by President Trump in his frequent attacks against social media companies over an alleged but unproven systemic bias against conservatives by technology platforms. And it could lead to a significant reinterpretation of a law that, its authors have insisted, was meant to give tech companies broad freedom to handle content as they see fit.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment on the draft order, but referred CNN to Trump’s remarks at a recent meeting with right-wing social media activists. During the meeting, Trump vowed to “explore all regulatory and legislative solutions to protect free speech.”

According to the summary seen by CNN, the draft executive order currently carries the title “Protecting Americans from Online Censorship.” It claims that the White House has received more than 15,000 anecdotal complaints of social media platforms censoring American political discourse, the summary indicates. The Trump administration, in the draft order, will offer to share the complaints it’s received with the FTC.

In May, the White House launched a website inviting consumers to report complaints of alleged partisan bias by social media companies.

The FTC will also be asked to open a public complaint docket, according to the summary, and to work with the FCC to develop a report investigating how tech companies curate their platforms and whether they do so in neutral ways. Companies whose monthly user base accounts for one-eighth of the U.S. population or more could find themselves facing scrutiny, the summary said, including but not limited to Facebook, Google, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat.

The Trump administration’s proposal seeks to significantly narrow the protections afforded to companies under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Under the current law, internet companies are not liable for most of the content that their users or other third parties post on their platforms. Tech platforms also qualify for broad legal immunity when they take down objectionable content, at least when they are acting “in good faith.” From the start, the legislation has been interpreted to give tech companies the benefit of the doubt.

In a Senate floor speech last year, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), one of the authors of Section 230, said his aim with the legislation was to make sure “that internet companies could moderate their websites without getting clobbered by lawsuits.”

“Imagine how hard it would be to launch a platform that’s open to discussion of any topic when even the simplest, most narrowly-focused website on the internet can become a magnet for lawsuits,” Wyden said.

By comparison, according to the summary,the White House draft order asks the FCC to restrict the government’s view of the good-faith provision. Under the draft proposal, the FCC will be asked to find that social media sites do not qualify for the good-faith immunity if they remove or suppress content without notifying the user who posted the material, or if the decision is proven to be evidence of anticompetitive, unfair or deceptive practices.

Yet in its current form, the draft order could lead to significant questions about the role the FCC and FTC can play when it comes to interpreting and enforcing Section 230, an area they have previouslyleft largely unaddressed. The effort to draft the order has been ongoing for some time, the people said, and the proposal remains subject to change.

“It makes no sense to involve the FCC here,” said Berin Szoka, president of the libertarian-leaning think tank TechFreedom. “They have rule-making authority, but no jurisdiction — they can’t possibly want to be involved. It would be an impossible position.”

The FTC and FCC both declined to comment.

The attempt to write the order comes as the White House on Friday prepared to meet with a number of tech companies to discuss their approaches to detecting and responding to violent extremism.

The midday meeting is expected to involve five-minute presentations from the companies on their respective policies and projects, according to copies of an invitation obtained by CNN. The presentations will be followed by a group discussion on technology and the companies’ roles in fighting “signals of violence … while respecting free speech.”

Some people close to the tech industry expressed frustration that the White House seemed to be trying to have it both ways — excoriating tech companies for allegedly censoring conservative speech, a claim the platforms vigorously dispute, while castigating them for failing to block enough violent or hateful content.

“The internal inconsistency of this is outrageous,” one of them said.

[CNN]

Trump Shares Racist Tucker Carlson Clip Amid White Supremacy Controversy

President Donald Trump retweeted a racist clip of Fox News Host Tucker Carlson, who’s facing backlash for claiming the notion of a white supremacy problem in the U.S. is “a hoax” created by the left and the media.

The video ― created by The Daily Caller, a conservative news site that Carlson co-founded ― features the Fox host discussing and questioning the legitimacy of Rep. Ilhan Omar’s (D-Minn.) prior marriage, immigration status and name. Omar, an American citizen, was born in Somalia and immigrated to the U.S. as a child.

The “sham marriage” that Carlson refers to is a popular right-wing conspiracy theory that Omar married her brother in order to bypass U.S. immigration laws. There is no evidence that indicates this is the case, and the theory originated from an anonymous internet forum post in 2016. 

Omar has denied the claim and provided a timeline of her marital history. In 2018, she showed a reporter from the Minneapolis Star Tribune images of her father’s immigration documents, which did not list her former husband among his children.

But this is not the first time that the president has drawn attention to the unsubstantiated theory.

“Well, there is a lot of talk about the fact that she was married to her brother,” Trump told reporters last month, before adding: “I know nothing about it.”

Trump has a history of engaging in or promoting racist attacks that question the legitimacy of the congresswoman’s status as an American. He has claimed that Omar hates America and said that she, alongside three other progressive Democratic congresswomen, should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Carlson currently faces public backlash for claiming that white supremacy is not a threat in America just days after a shooter killed 22 people and injured dozens more at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. The shooter reportedly penned a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto before driving nine hours to the largely Hispanic border town.

“This is a hoax, just like the Russia hoax,” Carlson said on Tuesday of the notion that white supremacy was a major threat in the U.S. “It’s a conspiracy theory used to divide the country and keep a hold on power. That’s exactly what’s going on.”

Fox News and Carlson have lost several advertisers, including Long John Silver’s, Nestlé and HelloFresh, in the aftermath of his claim.

When the president was asked on Wednesday if he was concerned about the rising threat of white supremacy, he told reporters he was concerned about all hate groups, “whether it’s white supremacy, whether it’s any other kind of supremacy.”

[Huffington Post]

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