Ruth Hopkins Sums Up.

Putting Oil CEO Kelcy Warren on a Parks & Wildlife Board is ludicrous. Its like giving Darth Vader a spot on the Jedi Council.”

Yep. Who better to be a steward of wild spaces? Think Progress has the full story.

Climate Change, Now A Witch Hunt!

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has come to Exxon’s defense — again. AP Photo/Eric Gay, File.

Climate change, why it’s a witch hunt, it is, for real and true! What this is actually about is protecting Exxon, with republicans going full court testerical over the issue, claiming the usual excuse, freeze peach.

Citing Exxon Mobil’s right to “free speech,” 11 state attorneys general — all Republicans — filed in court this week to stop an investigation into the oil and gas giant’s decades-long history of climate denial.

The attorneys general — from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin — filed a brief to support Exxon’s request to stop the so-called “Exxon Knew” investigation, arguing that there is a “public policy debate” over climate change and that the investigation is an “unconstitutional abuse” of power.

“The Constitution was written to protect citizens from government witch-hunts such as this one, where officials use their authority and the threat of criminal prosecution to try and suppress speech on a viewpoint they disagree with,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement.

This isn’t the first time Texas has intervened in the investigation on behalf of the state’s largest company. Paxton and his counterpart from Arkansas filed on behalf of Exxon in May of last year when it challenged a Virgin Islands subpoena. Paxton has said the investigations are “ridiculous.”

Think Progress has the full story.

Also see:

The Earth just passed another carbon threshold.

Climate change will fuel terrorism, report warns.

Dow Chemical gave $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, now wants pesticide risk study buried.

The Weekly White House Bible Study.

Photo via AP.

Evangelism everywhere, promoting a theocracy, with a firm footing in the white house.

…The schedule does not list who attended that session, but Ralph Drollinger, a right-wing pastor with a long history of ties to Perry and other Trump Administration officials, claims on his web site to be running weekly Bible sessions specially for the Trump Cabinet. He has praised the new administration for its power to “change the course of America in ways that are biblical.”

[…]

In a January radio interview, Drollinger praised then-senator Jeff Sessions, who “hungers and thirsts for the Scripture,” for his performance during his confirmation hearing, when he provided a Biblical justification for his draconian views on immigration. “I’ve had the distinct honor of teaching him on this subject, and many others,” Drollinger said. “There’s nothing more exciting, when you’re a Bible teacher, to see one of the guys you’re working with—to see him or her articulate something you’ve taught them when they’re under the gun.”

Vice President Mike Pence, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, nominee for Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, HHS Secretary Tom Price, and Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, have all sponsored the Capitol Ministries Cabinet Bible study, according to literature put out by Capitol Ministries.

The Cabinet Bible study is the just newest piece of what Drollinger has described as a “para-church ministry” with a “target audience” of political members. In a September 2015 interview, Drollinger described his mission as creating a “factory” to mass-produce politicians like Michele Bachmann, who is on the Capitol Ministries board. “She thinks Biblically,” Drollinger said. “She doesn’t need a whole lot of time to figure out how to vote because she sees the world through a scriptural lens. We need more men and women like her in office.”

[…]

For an outside group to hold an event in a Congressional building, they must be sponsored by a senator or representative; dozens of Members of Congress sponsored Drollinger’s group, including Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Tom Price, and Sessions while they were all still on Capitol Hill. Rep. Mike Conaway, who recently took over the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election from Devin Nunes, is also a Capitol Ministries sponsor.

Now, Capitol Ministries holds three separate Bible Studies each week which it describes in its literature: one for Cabinet members (“7:00 am Wednesdays Mornings. Location Undisclosed. Light Refreshments Served.”); one for the Senate (“8:00 am Tuesdays, Rotating Offices of Senators. Hot Breakfast Served.”); and one for members of the House (“Capitol H324: Monday or Tuesday Evenings after First Votes Back. Dinner Served.”) In an interview in January, Drollinger described the House study as feeling like a truck stop and the Senate study feeling like a country club.

Everything in the article is highly disturbing and frightening. Recommended Reading. Fusion has the full story.

Oh Great, Another Slogan: Buy American, Hire American.

Noel McKay, left, a program manager and Karen Latina, right, a biotech consultant, hold up signs during a Tech Stands Up rally on Pi Day, Tuesday, March 14, 2017, outside City Hall in Palo Alto, Calif. Subcontracted tech service workers and direct tech employees rallied together to call on their companies and CEOs to stand with their workers against injustice and hate. CREDIT: AP Photo/Eric Risberg.

As a conservative columnist recently pointed out, the Tiny Tyrant is acting the full lame duck by concentrating on Executive Orders very early on. This is usually not seen until much later, usually when congress is busy blocking a president. The Tiny Tyrant has also turned to “foreign policy” in attempt to overshadow investigations and come across as doing something. The latest EO was announced in Wisconsin, at the expense of the Paris Climate Accord meeting. Now we have “Buy American, Hire American”, which, as Jake Tapper pointed out, is the height of hypocrisy when it comes to Trump’s own business dealings, which depend greatly on immigrant workers and the H-1B visa program. Of course, I’m sure he’ll declare all his little cash cows to be exempt. Contrary to the Tiny Tyrant’s constant vow of jobs and greatness and all that other crap, every move he has made so far is damn near custom-tailored to crash the economy, and this move will accelerate that considerably, if congress can be swayed to enforce it. Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen.

The “Buy American, Hire American” executive order emphasizes enforcement of “Buy American laws” that will encourage government agencies and Americans to buy and hire American. The main thrust of the order calls on cabinet secretaries to implement administrative changes and produce reports that identify potential abuses of the H-1B visa program, which awarded 85,000 work visas this year to foreign knowledge workers through a lottery system, and look for ways the government can only award contracts to American business owners.

Regarding immigration, the order doesn’t address the administration’s main criticisms of the H-1B program, such as exploitatively low pay and replacing the lottery system to guarantee recipients are the best candidates for the positions. It also carries little weight on its own.

“It doesn’t do anything,” said William Stock, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) in Philadelphia. That’s because the changes Trump campaigned on need to be approved by Congress.

[…]

The policy proposal sent a chill through the tech industry, which heavily depends on H-1B workers to fill out full-time and contract positions. That tension intensified earlier this year, after Trump signed his first executive order restricting entry of immigrants from or traveling from several Muslim-majority countries and companies such as Google required resident employees abroad to immediately return to the U.S.

The White House’s tenuous relationship with Silicon Valley was strained further as Trump’s policies homed in on issues central to the tech industry’s ethos and economic health. And with cracking down on H-1B visas in his sights, there’s concern Trump could hurt the economy he’s trying to help.

 […]

Besides a potential congressional hurdle, there could still be economic consequences to Trump’s desired changes, especially when it comes to funding existing programs and trade.

For example, further restricting H-1B visas could actually result in taking jobs away from American workers by encouraging companies to relocate, Stock said. That would create more jobs in places like Ireland, India (which is currently the biggest recipient of H-1B visas), China, and countries in South America, where there are growing IT workforces.

“If the workers can’t come here, then companies are going to have to go where the workforce is,” Stock said. “The unintended consequences are going to outweigh what he was trying to achieve.”

[…]

Restricting H-1B visas or prioritizing American businesses also doesn’t replace jobs lost due to the collapse of manufacturing or mining industries.

Dan Ikenson, the director for trade policy at the Cato Institute a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C., said the order looks tough, especially when it comes to government contract spending. But he worried that Trump’s emphasis on only awarding government contracts to American companies could mean that taxpayers lose out. From a free market perspective, Ikenson said, there should be as many foreign companies as possible bidding for government contracts.

“You need the competition,” Ikenson said, arguing that only contracting with American businesses could result in overspending. “We shouldn’t just assume that it’s good for America if Americans transact with other Americans.”

That economic stance is why Trump’s immigration policies have garnered criticism from economists across the political spectrum.

“We need smart foreign workers to come here and share their ideas,” Ikenson said. “Immigrants are 50 percent more likely than Americans to start new businesses.”

Think Progress has the full story.

Dakota Access Allowed to Keep Risks Secret.

© Marty Two Bulls.

It’s not enough that the pipeline went through, and once again, drinking water is threatened (which is fine, of course, because Indians), but ETP can now keep risk information to themselves. Just keeps getting worse. And to those people who think they are helping through vandalism? You aren’t, so fucking stop it.

Despite concerns that the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline could threaten the primary source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux, a federal judge ruled that the pipeline’s developer can keep some information about spill risks secret from the public.

The ruling — which would permit Energy Transfer Partners, the developer of the pipeline, to keep information about spill risks at certain points along the pipeline shielded from the public — comes after unknown protesters used a torch to burn holes in empty above-ground segments of the pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes had argued that information about spill risks could potentially strengthen their case for more environmental review of the project.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg rejected that argument, saying that shielding the information from public view would prevent vandalism of the pipeline.

“The asserted interest in limiting intentionally inflicted harm outweighs the tribes’ generalized interests in public disclosure and scrutiny,” Boasberg said in his ruling.

[…]

Pipeline spills in North Dakota are not uncommon — according to analysis from the Center for Biological Diversity, North Dakota has averaged four pipeline spills a year since 1996, costing more than $40 million in property damage.

Under the Trump administration’s proposed budget, the Environmental Protection Agency would face sharp cuts in its enforcement programs, limiting its ability to enforce and penalize companies that violate environmental laws. When pipeline operators, for instance, violate laws like the Clean Water Act by spilling pollutants into waterways, the EPA is normally the agency that imposes fines on those operators. Last week, for instance, the EPA and the Department of Justice issued a fine against a pipeline operator in Ohio that violated the Clean Water Act by discharging approximately 1,950 barrels of gasoline from a pipeline into nearby waterways.

Think Progress has the full story.

The Problem of Prettifying Trump for Children’s Books.

Michael Ian Black and Marc Rosenthal, A Child’s First Book of Trump.

Unfortunately, when it comes to history, there’s a long, ugly history in the U.S. of lying to children. Books are filled with euphemisms and omissions, desperate to find any way to praise past politicians and their acts. This is quite the problem with presidential bios, going all the way back. People were considered courageous to mention that the oh so holy Saint Jefferson was a slaveholder. They omitted the rapes, subsequent pregnancies, and those inconvenient little slaves Jefferson fathered. You don’t find sections or books on just how genocidal presidents were when it came to Indians, or how they spent time and money on being devious bastards, making promises they fully intended to break. Nothing about the rapes, murders, and stealing of children, no. There’s very little action across uStates to undo all the whitewash. That much has not changed, but even in an industry well practiced in the art of whitewash, Trump is presenting special problems.

…Rosman catches the Scholastic folks red-handed as they rewrite history to try to prettify Trump for their audience. In a prepublication draft of the book, under the heading “Troubling Statements,” its authors initially explained: “Some of Trump’s biggest supporters were white nationalists. Their comments and actions during and after the campaign were racist and often dangerous. Trump did little to speak against them.” But in the final version, we get, instead, a page called “Campaign Statements,” which explains that, “Some of Trump’s critics felt he did not speak out against prejudicial people and groups strongly enough.”

[…]

The problem with Trump is not that he did not denounce the racism, much less the fact that some people might have felt this way. It’s that he actively encouraged not merely racism but a particularly violent strain of it; one that helped create an atmosphere of menace toward almost all people of color among his most virulent supporters. What’s more, this racism, according to the best data we can find, was central to his appeal both in the Republican primaries and in the general election. The fact that he is now president of the United States presents an additional ideological problem for children’s book publishers. Not only must they find a way around the fact that their subject is a racist, sexist, ethnocentric, McCarthyite, lying con man, but also that nearly half the country’s voters knew all this and picked him anyway.

To be honest about Trump is to be honest about America, and right now, that is just not the kind of thing children’s publishers are set up to do. It’s not even the kind of thing The New York Times or The Washington Post is set up to do — at least not without blaming “both sides” for whatever crime against democracy, decency or common sense Trump has most recently committed. Joana Costa Knufinke, group editor for nonfiction books in Scholastic’s library publishing division, uses this time-honored excuse when she explains to Rosman, “We make an effort to show both points of view.”

[…]

The challenge regarding Trump, however, is not that he has flaws, as men and all presidents do. The problem is that he is all flaws and that it was these flaws that got him elected president. Without those flaws — the racism, sexism, jingoism, dishonesty, incompetence, ignorance and belligerence — there is nothing left to say about Trump… except perhaps to make fun of his hair. This puts the nice people in the children’s book business in the uncomfortable position of either ignoring the new president or running interference of his destructive qualities and teaching our children to, at best, ignore them, or at worst, emulate them.

An incisive look at how the children’s publishing industry is going to be very busy orange-washing and filtering all information about the current unpresident of uStates. Highly recommended reading.

Full article here.

“ I feel it’s important to have hydrocarbons equally represented.”

CREDIT: Independence Institute.

I, uh, uh, oh gods, there’s so much wrong here, that it … oh, wrong, wrong, wrong. Along with the wrong, the co-opting of phrases expressing specific concepts has been turned into a rotten, fermenting word salad crawling with maggots. I, oh. I sincerely hope that no artists participate in this travesty.

One thing Earth Day celebrations have been lacking is a recognition of fossil fuels — at least according to the Independence Institute, a self-described “action tank” based in Colorado that receives funding from a litany of prominent conservative dark money groups.

“Enviros celebrate by planting trees but they never celebrate the trucks that deliver the trees, or the gas that powers that truck, or the plastic handles of the shovels they use,” an email from the organization reads. “Shouldn’t Mother Earth be thanked for making Earth Day events possible?”

Budding artists are encouraged to send their original works in by April 21 with the main requirement that it “should showcase the awesomeness of fossil fuels.”

I can’t even. Just can’t. Think Progress has a full breakdown on the monies backing this monstrous reality denial.

Amy Cooke, executive vice president and director of the Energy Policy Center at the Independence Institute, has been critical of Colorado’s renewable energy standard, arguing that clean energy sources should be expanded to include clean coal, natural gas, hydroelectric power, and nuclear. Late last year, Cooke was named to the Trump administration’s EPA “landing team,” and wrote of her excitement for the future of the EPA under Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt (both have been clear about their intent to cripple the agency, slashing its budget and immediately gutting policies to fight climate change).

Cooke told ThinkProgress that the organization’s fossil fuels art contest is rooted in inclusivity. “Fossil fuels seem to get left out of the Earth Day celebration,” she said via email. “As an energy feminist — pro-choice in energy sources — I feel it’s important to have hydrocarbons equally represented.”

Fossil fuels get left out of Earth Day celebrations because they have a lot to do with destroying the earth, habitats, species, poisoning water and so forth, you godsawful excuse for a person. “Energy feminist.” “Pro-choice in energy sources.” Okay, I have to get past my overwhelming desire to smack her.

In regard to Independence Institute’s donors — and their history of working against climate action — Cooke avoided specifics. “In general, people and organizations support us because of the work we do including being energy agnostic,” she said. “We encourage innovation instead of over regulation. It’s actually kind of liberating because we aren’t boxed in by an either-or cynical choice paradigm.”

“Energy agnostic”. Uh huh. Oh you’re boxed in, alright – all you want is destruction. Jesus Fuck.

Full story at Think Progress.

Sunday Facepalm: The Problem with Syrian Kids.

When I posted about the illegal strike on Syria, I made a strong point about the Tiny Tyrant’s hypocrisy in claiming to care about Syrian children. He did not, and does not care about those children in the least. While campaigning, he compared Syrian people to venomous snakes, and Syrian people are high on his ban list. Nikki Haley has now come out and stated the real problem with those “beautiful babies” who happen to by Syrian – they come with parents. Oh my!

Following President Donald Trump’s military attack on Syria for the use of chemical weapons, CNN host Jake Tapper asked Haley why the administration was opposed to taking in refugees when “beautiful babies” were being “slaughtered.”

“Why not allow Syrian refugees who are children and maybe their mothers to come in after they’ve been vetted,” Tapper wondered.

Haley argued that President Trump “very much believes in the responsibility of keeping Americans safe.”

[…]

Tapper pressed: “But certainly you don’t think Syrian children pose a risk to the American people.”

“Well, Syrian children have to come with Syrian adults,” Haley replied. “And you don’t know, it’s hard to know based on the vetting process. And that’s unfortunate that we can’t find that out.”

[…]

“At the end of the day we need to remember that Syrians don’t want to live somewhere else. They want to be home. They want to be with their family. They want to be with their loved ones. And that’s the focus of why the airstrike happened this week.”

Right. An airstrike which did not do one fucking thing, outside of being a cynical ploy to shore up abysmal ratings, the only thing the Tiny Tyrant cares about. He certainly does not care about anyone’s children, outside of his own. I do imagine most people would prefer to stay in the land of their birth, however, war and climate change are making that impossible for way too many people. Since Little Donnie doesn’t want to actually help any of those brown babies with adults attached, perhaps he could go big picture, and focus on making a difference regarding climate. Oh, wait. Yes, he’s already done that one, hasn’t he? Rolled us right back by about 45, 50 years, hellbent on accelerating the nauseous mess uStates is about to become. Got it.

Via Raw Story.

The National Park Stunt.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, right, holds up a check during the daily briefing with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg. CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, right, holds up a check during the daily briefing with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park Superintendent Tyrone Brandyburg. CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh.

First, another photo distraction. Look at Zinke eyeballing that check – he looks like he’s about to lunge, grab it and run. The National Park stunt, it’s bullshit, so don’t swallow it. The Tiny Tyrant needed a distraction from the set of Damocle’s Swords hanging over his head, so this little stunt was staged. And it is quite little – $78,333 to the National Park Service. Given that his ideal budget strips the NPS, among many others, this is an empty gesture, and worse. Neither Trump nor Zinke give one tiny squirtle of a shit for land. They are both in favour of more pipelines, poisoned water, coal mining, strip mining, fracking, drilling for oil in protected reserves, and wholesale pollution. This tiny little check of a photo op is toxic bullshit of the highest order. While the Tiny Tyrant could not possibly care less about caring for our planet, there is one thing he sorta kinda cares about, battlefields. Yep. So incredibly important to maintain historic battlefields! What’s more important than the reminders of bloody slaughters?

…And as far as his donation, it falls well short of the cuts Trump himself would impose on the National Park Service’s supervising agency, the Interior Department.

Trump’s budget calls for a punishing 12 percent cut to the department, which manages the United States’ public lands. It would eliminate some of the department’s programs altogether, including the $13.2 million National Wildlife Refuge Fund and the $20 million funding for the nation’s 49 National Heritage Areas. It would also decrease funding for land acquisition — such as land that would be added to the nation’s national parks, and then stewarded by the NPS — by $120 million.

Zinke, in his remarks thanking the president, said he would put the money towards the department’s $229 million shortfall in maintenance of the United States’ historic battlefields. According to Spicer, Trump chose to give the money to the NPS himself, specifically because he was interested in restoring the battlegrounds.

“It’s a decision he made. Counsel presented him with several options. He believed… some great work is being done there, especially work being done to restore our great battlegrounds,” Spicer said.

Right. Fuck you, Trump. Think Progress has the full story.

The Trump Slump.

Photo by Rex Roof/Flickr.

Photo by Rex Roof/Flickr.

The Gold Curtain has resulted in uStates bleeding out in the financial sense. Seems people don’t want to include the oh-so-wonderful Amerikkka in their travel plans these days. Because of Trump. Can’t say I blame them at all, I wouldn’t want to travel here, either.

People around the world have taken a look at Donald Trump and decided his America is not a place they want to visit. The result has been labeled the “Trump Slump,” a drop in international tourism that’s predicted to cost the United States more than $7 billion. Experts across the travel industry have sounded the alarm that the Trump presidency, already destructive on so many fronts, may also do serious financial damage to the country’s $250 billion tourism sector.

Frommer’s, a prominent travel guide, notes that “the prestigious Travel Weekly magazine (as close to an ‘official’ travel publication as they come) has set the decline in foreign tourism at 6.8 percent” for this year.

[…]

The numbers offer evidence that Trump has turned off potential visitors from around the world. The resounding message of Trump’s “America First” stance, his obsession with the Mexico border wall, his anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies, his Muslim ban, and his rudeness to longstanding allies is that America is inhospitable to foreigners. Predictably, international travelers are opting to stay away—and that includes the European ones that Trump and his supporters are totally cool with.

“Even white, Anglo-Saxon people, who are most of our customers, they are afraid of crossing the border,” Al Qanun, who runs a Toronto travel agency, told the Times. “They don’t want to end up in some prison.”

[…]

The loss of all those visitors could mean future problems for a sector on which more than 15 million people rely for employment. Oxford Economics suggests the toll may ultimately ripple beyond the travel industry, even reducing the U.S. gross domestic product by a few percentage points, per Market Watch.

“I’ll tell you quite honestly, when I saw these reports my reaction was, Oh, my god,” Douglas Quinby, of travel-market firm PhocusWright, told the Boston Globe. “To see a decline in search and booking volume in the 6- to 8-percent range is a profound shift.”

I wonder, how many of those 15 million employed people will soon be unemployed? How many smaller travel businesses will end up having to close their doors? Ah, but no worry, we have Unpresident Jobs Jobs Jobs!

Travel industry insiders aren’t just freaking out, they’re trying to stop the trend in its tracks. Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, penned an open letter to Trump, as if he could be reasoned with.

“Mr. President, please tell the world that while we’re closed to terror, we’re open for business,” the brief letter nearly pleads. “Imbalanced communication is especially susceptible to being ‘lost in translation’—so let’s work together to inform our friends and neighbors, who could benefit from reassurance, not just who is no longer welcome here, but who remains invited.”

That’s nice, but I’m pretty sure it won’t penetrate the wall of concrete separating Donnie from reality.

The coastal cities where Trump fared the worst in the election are likely to be hardest hit by travel downswings triggered by his administration.

[…]

The rise of Trump and his xenophobic messaging has motivated a number of countries to warn their citizens against non-essential trips to the U.S. The Nigerian government, citing “a few cases of Nigerians with valid multiple-entry U.S. visas being denied entry and sent back,” suggested its residents skip the jaunt to America if they have a choice. In January, the Toronto Star published an editorial suggesting Canadian citizens boycott the U.S. in response to the Trump Muslim ban.

Other negative reactions to America’s longstanding social issues and rising right-wing policies began to take hold even before Trump office. Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Bahamas, the U.K., Germany and New Zealand all issued 2016 U.S. travel warnings to citizens due to the U.S.’ issues with mass shootings, general gun violence, police murders of black citizens, anti-LGBT bathroom laws, and ongoing social upheaval.

With Trump and his white nationalist brigade in charge, the tourism lag could dip to levels not seen since after the World Trade Center attacks.

[…]

The rise of Trump and his xenophobic messaging has motivated a number of countries to warn their citizens against non-essential trips to the U.S. The Nigerian government, citing “a few cases of Nigerians with valid multiple-entry U.S. visas being denied entry and sent back,” suggested its residents skip the jaunt to America if they have a choice. In January, the Toronto Star published an editorial suggesting Canadian citizens boycott the U.S. in response to the Trump Muslim ban.

Other negative reactions to America’s longstanding social issues and rising right-wing policies began to take hold even before Trump office. Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Bahamas, the U.K., Germany and New Zealand all issued 2016 U.S. travel warnings to citizens due to the U.S.’ issues with mass shootings, general gun violence, police murders of black citizens, anti-LGBT bathroom laws, and ongoing social upheaval.

With Trump and his white nationalist brigade in charge, the tourism lag could dip to levels not seen since after the World Trade Center attacks.

[…]

Trump and his followers will definitely find a way to blame President Obama if the tourism decline persists, but in reality, under the previous administration foreign visits went way up. Bloomberg cites data from U.S. Travel indicating that from 2006 to 2015, “America saw international visitors rise, with arrivals increasing from 51 million in 2006 to nearly 78 million in 2015.”

Oh, I smell another conspiracy brewing, and I’m sure it won’t be long before Mr. Tweet makes an appearance to place blame. Via Raw Story.

Do Things Legal, Get Arrested.

Tucker Viemeister.

Tucker Viemeister.

Immigrants who are doing all the right, legal things are now being arrested when they show up to do all the right, legal things. I think the Canadian backroad border crossings are going to get a lot busier.

Federal immigration officers arrested five people in Lawrence [Massachusetts] on Wednesday when they showed up for scheduled appointments at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office.

WBUR has confirmed that at least three of those arrested were beginning the process to become legal permanent residents. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says the agency had orders to detain each of the five individuals for deportation.

Brian Doyle, the attorney for one of the three people who were seeking green cards before they were arrested, says he knew there was a chance his client would be taken into custody at the appointment.

His client, a Brazilian national who had been ordered deported before she married a U.S. citizen, understood the risks as well, but ultimately decided that she wanted to keep the appointment and begin the green card process.

This, Doyle says, is an example of the difficult situation for many immigrants living in the country illegally, who are forced to weigh the costs and benefits of keeping an appointment with an immigration official in light of new deportation priorities set by President Trump.

“Now, they’re in a sort of catch-22 where, ‘All right, I’m being called in for this interview. I want to have this first step approved.’ If they don’t show up, it’s what’s called abandoned … USCIS just sort of assumes that they don’t want to go forward with it,” Doyle said. “But now, if they do show up, trying to take that first step and they’re detained, it can lead to them being removed.”

[…]

“What this means is that people who are eligible to obtain their green card in the United States, who are following the law, who are following the rules, who are doing what the government is instructing them to do, are going to be too terrified to show up and follow through with the process,” Church said. “And now a whole new category of people is going to go back into the shadow of immigration land and be living in fear.”

In a statement, ICE confirmed that officers were “responding to an investigative tip” when arresting the five foreign nationals at the USCIS office in Lawrence.

“All five individuals have final orders of removal issued by a federal immigration judge. All five will be held in custody pending removal from the United States,” the statement read.

When asked if the five people arrested had criminal records, an ICE spokesman said two of the people had no criminal record while the other three had “multiple traffic violations.”

Oh, traffic violations, the horror! Guess it’s a good thing these people are being ripped away from their families, and being punished for following the law, because traffic tickets, well, what could be worse?

Via WBUR.

Tin Cap Time.

1477417057308

The Heartland Institute recently had their “Fuck the Planet!” conference, attended by the Mercers, and all those others who have some sort of vested interest in killing off everyone and everything. I guess they’ll bug out to Mars with Musk when life becomes unsustainable.

The atmosphere was buoyant at a conference held by the conservative Heartland Institute last week at a downtown Washington hotel, where speakers denounced climate science as rigged and jubilantly touted deep cuts President Trump is seeking to make to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Front and center during the two-day gathering were New York hedge fund executive Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah Mercer, Republican mega-donors who with their former political adviser Stephen K. Bannon helped finance an alternative media ecosystem that amplified Trump’s populist themes during last year’s campaign.

The Mercers’ attendance at the two-day Heartland conference offered a telling sign of the low-profile family’s priorities: With Trump in office, the influential financiers appear intent on putting muscle behind the fight to roll back environmental regulations, a central focus of the new administration.

The Washington Post has a full run down on the conference.

I’ll just focus here on the batshit element of such conferences, this time, embodied by ever loony Lord Christopher Monckton:

Raw Story has a rundown of his 5 main points, so click on over if you prefer to read.

The Farce That Is “The Wall”.

Ryan Zinke (Twitter).

Ryan Zinke (Twitter).

Just when you think rethuglicans really could not possibly go lower or more regressive, *bam*. Ryan the fink Zinke has a problem with the stupid wall – placing it on U.S. land would cede the Rio Grande, oh no wtfbbq!!!11!1 The solution? Doesn’t seem to be one right now, outside of making sure endangered animals are endangered right into extinction. It seems the only way to keep the Rio Grande would be to either steal land from Mexico, or build it on Mexico’s land and claim it for uStates. Or something. Jesus Fuck. There’s that Colonial mindset at work.

E&E News reports that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke talked about the logistics of building a border wall while speaking at an event held by the Public Lands Council this week, and he said the Trump administration didn’t want to build the wall on American soil because it would mean ceding the entire Rio Grande river to Mexico.

“The border is complicated, as far as building a physical wall,” Zinke said. “The Rio Grande, what side of the river are you going to put the wall? We’re not going to put it on our side and cede the river to Mexico. And we’re probably not going to put it in the middle of the river.”

Zinke didn’t elaborate on how the wall would get built if it wasn’t located on America’s side of the Rio Grande or in the middle of the river, which implies that it would be built on the Mexican side of the border.

Elsewhere in his talk, E&E News reports Zinke said the Trump administration will seek a waiver to the Endangered Species Act so it can build the wall in jaguar habitats that are for now protected from “destruction or adverse modification.”

Via Raw Story. And, Ryan fucking idiot Zinke has now said there’s no such thing as clean energy. Nope.