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 Brags That Victims of Mass Shootings ‘Love’ Him: ‘They Love Their President’

President Donald Trump gushed over himself during a freewheeling press spray on Wednesday, insisting that victims of mass shootings adore him.

“I went to the hospitals,” Trump said when asked about his recent visits to hospitals in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio following two massacres that left 31 dead. Trump then made bizarre remarks on the victims, complaining that there was no media coverage of their adulation for him:

“The people that were so badly injured that I was with, they love our country. And frankly, do you want to know the truth? They love their president. And nobody wrote that. Nobody wrote that. Because you didn’t write the truth. New York Times doesn’t like to write the truth. They totally love our country and they do love our president. So when I went to Dayton, when I went to El Paso, and when I went into those hospitals, the love for me, and me maybe as a representative of the country, but for me, and my love for them, was unparalleled. If you read the papers, it was like nobody would meet with me. Not only did they meet with me, they were pouring out of the rooms. The doctors were coming out of the operating rooms. There were hundreds and hundreds of people all over the floor, you couldn’t even walk on it.”

[Mediaite]

Trump says administration looking ‘seriously’ at ending birthright citizenship

President Trump on Wednesday said his administration is once again seriously considering an executive order to end birthright citizenship months after several lawmakers cast doubt on his ability to take such action.

“We’re looking at that very seriously,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for Kentucky. “Birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land — walk over the border, have a baby, congratulations, the baby’s now a U.S. citizen.”

“We are looking at birthright citizenship very seriously,” he added. “It’s, frankly, ridiculous.”

The president proposed ending the practice that grants citizenship to those born in the United States during his 2016 presidential campaign. He revived the idea last year, saying he would sign an executive order to enact the change.

Numerous lawmakers, including several Republicans, quickly pushed back on the idea and argued Trump lacked the authority to make such a change using an executive order. They cited that birthright citizenship is a right enshrined under the 14th Amendment.

Trump responded to the criticism by saying birthright citizenship would be ended “one way or another.”

The president has sought various ways to crack down on illegal and legal immigration throughout his presidency.

His administration enacted and later reversed a “zero tolerance” policy that led to the separation of thousands of migrant families; Trump has sought changes to asylum laws to keep refugees in Mexico while they wait to be processed; and the White House last week rolled out a rule that would make it more difficult for some immigrants to obtain green cards.

The Trump administration announced earlier Wednesday it would unveil a new rule that would allow migrant families to be held indefinitely, ending a procedure known as the Flores Settlement Agreement that requires children to be held no longer than 20 days.

[The Hill]

Trump on Economy: ‘I Am the Chosen One’

President Donald Trump claimed “I am the chosen one” in attempting to tell reporters he will resolve an ongoing trade war with China that could potentially lead to a recession.

“The fake news of which many of you are members is trying to convince the public to have a recession. “Let’s have a recession!” the United States is doing phenomenally well. One thing I have to do is economically take on China. Because China has been ripping us off for many years,” Trump told reporters at the White House Wednesday.

“This isn’t my trade war, this is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago, by a lot of other presidents. Over the last five or six years, China has made $500 billion. $500 billion. Ripped it out of the United States. Not only that — if you take a look, intellectual property theft. Add that to it. And at a lot of other things to it. Excuse me. Somebody had to do it. I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it.”

“I’m taking on China on trade,” Trump said. “We are winning. We are the piggy bank. We are the ones the European Union wants to rob and take advantage of. The European Union, $200 billion. China, more than $500 billion. Sorry, I was put here by people to do a great job. And that’s what I’m doing. Nobody has done a job like I’ve done.”

[Mediaite]

Trump doubles down on Jewish controversy

President Trump doubled down Wednesday on his assertion that Democratic voters are being “disloyal” to Jewish people and Israel. 

“In my opinion, if you vote for a Democrat you’re being very disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel. And only weak people would say anything other than that,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a speech in Kentucky.

“The Democrats have gone very far away from Israel,” he added. Trump on Tuesday said Jews who vote for Democrats either “lack knowledge” or show “great disloyalty.” The comment came as he railed against Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who have been critical of the U.S.-Israel alliance. The president questioned how the Democratic Party could defend them and their views on Israel. Jewish groups and Democratic lawmakers swiftly condemned Trump’s remarks as anti-Semitic for questioning the loyalty of Jewish people in the United States. Multiple exit polls after the 2016 election showed that more than 70 percent of Jewish voters voted for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. It wasn’t clear from Trump’s original remarks to whom he believed Jewish Democratic voters were being loyal. Charging Jewish people with disloyalty to the United States or having dual loyalty to Israel is an anti-Semitic trope. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer, tweeted Wednesday that Trump was “referring to disloyalty to Israel.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump quoted a right-wing conspiracy theorist who said on a Newsmax show that Israeli Jews view the president like the “second coming of God” and that American Jews who don’t support him “don’t even know what they’re doing.” The president has made support for Israel, including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing the country’s claim over the Golan Heights, a centerpiece of his foreign policy. But his rhetoric chastising Jewish people over their political leanings is likely to inflame those groups and energize his opponents. “I have been responsible for a lot of great things for Israel,” Trump said as he left the White House.

[The Hill]

Trump unleashes bizarre stream of gobbledygook when reporter asks him to describe his health care plan

President Donald Trump has vowed multiple times over the past two-and-a-half years to unveil his own replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, but so far no actual plan has come to light.

As noted by CNN fact checker Daniel Dale, Trump was asked by a reporter in New Hampshire this week to describe his health care plan, and the president responded with a stream of gobbledygook.

“So, we have a great plan coming out,” the president began when asked about his plan. “It’s going to be — if we can take back the House because we’re not going to get the Democrats to vote for it, because they’re doing Medicare for all, which is going to take away your freedom, take away your doctors, take away everything that you should be able to have, and most importantly, it’s going to take away — we have 180 million people right now that have private insurance and they love it, and all of that’s going to be taken away. It’s absolute craziness.”

Instead of talking about his own health care plan, the president then proceeded to make false statements about Medicare for All.

“On top of everything else, they’re looking at 80, 90, 95 percent tax, because there’s no — there’s no way they can afford it,” he said. “But people don’t want to go to a hospital, to go to a doctor. They don’t want to go. They want to have their own doctor, number one, and we went through this with Obamacare, which we got rid of the individual mandate, by the way, which is very important.”

After all this, the president finally pivoted back to talking about his own health care plan, but he offered zero details about what it would contain.

“But we have a great health care plan,” he said. “If we get the House, we hold the Senate, we keep the presidency, we’re going to have great health care, much better than Obamacare, at much less cost.”

[Raw Story]

US President Trump reiterates call for Russia to rejoin ‘G8’

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump noted that his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, had wanted Russia out of what used to be the G8 “because Putin outsmarted him”.

“But I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in. It should be the G8 because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia,” Trump said, just days before a G7 summit — minus Russia — in Biarritz, France.

Trump added, “I could certainly see it being the G8 again. If someone would make that motion, I would be disposed to think about it favourably…. “They should let Russia come back in, because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”

Russia pushed out after Crimea

Russia was pushed out of the G8 in 2014 because of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

It was not the first time Trump has floated the idea of Russia getting back together with the G7, which groups the United States, Germany, Japan, France, Britain, Italy and Canada.

In June 2018, Trump suggested Russia should attend a forthcoming G7 summit in Canada. A Kremlin spokesman seemed to reject the idea, saying Russia was focused on other formats.

Two days later, President Vladimir Putin said Russia did not choose the G7 and would be happy to host its members in Moscow.

Trump has periodically called for closer ties with Russia, although his administration’s policy has included strong sanctions against Moscow.

He is due to host the next G7 meeting in the United States next year.

[France24]

Trump: Jews that vote Democrat show ‘lack of knowledge or great disloyalty’

President Trump said Tuesday that Jewish people who vote for Democrats are either ignorant or disloyal as he railed against two congresswomen who have been critical of the U.S.-Israel alliance.

“I think Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” Trump told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with the president of Romania.

Trump and the GOP have sought to win over Jewish voters from the Democratic Party by criticizing statements by Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Both have criticized Israel’s government.

Trump last week urged Israel to block Tlaib and Omar from visiting the country, saying in a tweet that allowing the visit would show “great weakness.” An hour after Trump’s tweet, Israel denied the congresswomen entry. 

But in stating that Jewish people who voted for Democrats were disloyal, Trump appeared to step into the same verbal quagmire about Jewish loyalty to the Israeli state that had drawn criticism to Omar earlier this year. 

Omar took heat for remarks that suggested to some that Jewish Americans were more loyal to Israel than the United States.  

Trump’s comments came as he accused Tlaib and Omar of hating Israel and the Jewish people, and he complained that Democrats should also be criticizing them.

“The concept of even talking about this … of cutting off aid to Israel because of two people that hate Israel and hate Jewish people, I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation,” Trump said in the Oval Office.

“Where has the Democratic Party gone?” he continued. “Where have they gone … where they’re defending these two people over the state of Israel?”

Liberal Jewish groups swiftly condemned the president’s Tuesday remarks. 

“At a time when anti-Semitic incidents have increased — due to the president’s emboldening of white nationalism — Trump is repeating an anti-Semitic trope. If this is about Israel, then Trump is repeating a dual loyalty claim, which is a form of anti-Semitism. If this is about Jews being ‘loyal’ to him, then Trump needs a reality check,” said Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America.

Trump has made unwavering support of Israel one of the pillars of his foreign policy, including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and officially recognizing Israel’s claim over the disputed Golan Heights territory. 

Tlaib and Omar have supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement targeting Israel over its treatment of Palestinians, and have been accused of using anti-Semitic tropes.

Omar drew criticism when she suggested lawmakers support Israel because of money from lobbyists and was rebuked again when she claimed those who back the country harbor “dual loyalty.”

Tlaib, who is Palestinian American, drew backlash from conservatives earlier this year for comments about the Holocaust when she said it gave her a “calming feeling” to think of persecuted Jews finding safe haven in Israel.

The two congresswomen held a joint press conference on Monday denouncing Israel’s decision to bar their entry. Tlaib teared up as she recounted her family’s experiences as Palestinians in the Middle East, while Omar suggested that Congress reconsider the annual U.S. aid allocated to Israel after the international incident.

Trump said Tuesday that he was not involved in the decision to bar Tlaib and Omar entry, but that he supported Israel’s decision and that it would have been “very bad” to have let the congresswomen in. He went on to chastise Tlaib for getting emotional a day earlier, saying he’d seen her be “vicious” while protesting one of his campaign events in 2016.

Trump has hammered Tlaib and Omar with criticism in recent months, seeking to portray them as extreme and cast them as the face of the Democratic Party.

But Trump has stoked accusations of anti-Semitism with his own rhetoric as well.

The president angered Jewish groups and others in 2017 when he said there were “very fine people on both sides” of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where marchers carried Nazi banners and chanted anti-Semitic slogans.

Jewish groups called on Trump to more forcefully condemn white nationalism last year after a gunman opened fire in a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 people.

In 2016, Trump tweeted an image of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with the phrase “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever” inside a Star of David on top of piles of cash. 

Multiple exit polls from the 2016 presidential election showed that more than 70 percent of Jewish Americans voted for Clinton.

[The Hill]

Trump warns media ‘treading in very dangerous territory’ for reporting bad poll numbers

President Donald Trump hurled new warnings at the news media for reporting damaging stories and negative poll numbers.

The president’s approval rating was measured at 43 percent by two new surveys by NBC/Wall Street Journal and Fox News, and polls continue to show him losing to various Democratic challengers.

Trump insisted Monday that his “new internal polls” show the strongest support he’s had so far, and also complained that unfair media coverage kept his approval ratings low — and he retweeted those claims with a new threat against the media.

[Raw Story]

Trump slams Fox News after poll shows him losing to Democratic rivals

President Donald Trump denounced Fox News after the network released a poll showing him lagging behind the four current frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“Fox has changed, and my worst polls have always been from Fox. There’s something going on at Fox — I’ll tell you right now,” Trump told reporters Sunday in New Jersey. “And I’m not happy with it.”

The president went on to list which talent on the Fox News roster he was pleased with, while also suggesting that the hosts of the presidential debates could be determined by who treats him most favorably.

“Fox was treated very badly by the Democrats — very, very badly having to do with the Democrats and other things. And I think Fox is making a big mistake,” Trump added. “Because you know, I’m the one who calls the shots on the really big debates. I guess we’re probably planning on three of them. And I’m not happy with Fox.”

“I’m certainly happy, I think, Sean Hannity, and Lou Dobbs,” the president continued. “And I think Tucker Carlson, and Laura [Ingraham], and Jesse Watters and Jeannine [Pirro]. We have a lot of great people.”

There were at least two factual errors in Trump’s remarks: First, he claimed that he “calls the shots” about the presidential debates, when in fact the debates have been controlled by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates since 1988. The president also repeatedly lumped himself in with Fox News when he referred to the network as “we,” even though Trump is at least ostensibly not an employee or manager at the right-leaning station.

The Fox News poll referenced by Trump found the president trailing four of the frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kamala Harris of California. According to the survey, Biden bests Trump by a margin of 50 percent to 38 percent, Sanders bests Trump by 48 percent to 39 percent, Harris bests Trump by 45 percent to 39 percent and Warren bests Trump by 46 percent to 39 percent. The survey had a three-point margin of error and is consistent with other surveys, which generally show Trump either trailing behind or roughly even with his various potential opponents.

On the same day, Trump also took a swipe at Fox News analyst Juan Williams, who has been more willing to criticize the president than other pundits at the network.

“Juan Williams at @FoxNews is so pathetic, and yet when he met me in the Fox Building lobby, he couldn’t have been nicer as he asked me to take a picture of him and me for his family. Yet he is always nasty and wrong!” Trump tweeted on Sunday.

This is not the first time that Trump has attacked Fox when he has perceived the network as being insufficiently favorable to him and his political interests. In April, he complained that Fox News hosted a town hall meeting with Sanders, tweeting: “So weird to watch Crazy Bernie on @FoxNews. Not surprisingly, @BretBaier and the audience was so smiley and nice. Very strange, and now we have @donnabrazile?”

Fox News anchor Bret Baier, who had co-hosted the event with Martha MacCallum, tweeted in response to Trump: “Thanks for watching Mr. President – we’d love to have you on a town hall soon — or even an interview on @SpecialReport —it’s been awhile. We cover all sides.”

[Salon]

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