EPA to Investigate Scott Pruitt’s Frequent Trips to Oklahoma at Taxpayer Expense

by Mark Hand – EPA administrator spent 43 days in his home state over three-month period. The Environmental Protection Agency’s office of inspector general plans to look into whether Administrator Scott Pruitt adhered to agency policies when he traveled to Oklahoma dozens of times during his first six months as administrator. Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter Monday to the EPA inspector general requesting a review of Pruitt’s travels to his home state at taxpayers’ expense. In a memo issued Monday, the inspector general’s office also said the inquiry was initiated in response to a complaint it received on its hotline. The IG’s office will look into the frequency, cost, and extent of Pruitt’s travel to Oklahoma through July 31. It will seek to determine whether the EPA’s travel policies and procedures were followed by Pruitt and other agency staff as part of those trips. Finally, the office will look at whether the agency’s policies and...

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China: Korean Tensions at ‘tipping point’ (VIDEOS)

Beijing urges US, South Korea to halt military exercises, as White House considers ‘all options’ after missile launch. China has warned that tensions on the Korean peninsula have reached a “tipping point” after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan, a move Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe described as “unprecedented” and a “grave threat” to his country’s security. Hua Chunying, spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, urged all sides on Tuesday to avoid provocations, repeating Beijing’s call for Pyongyang to suspend missile tests, while proposing that the United States and South Korea China halt ongoing joint military exercises. The situation is “now at a tipping point approaching a crisis. At the same time there is an opportunity to reopen peace talks”, Hua told reporters in Beijing. “We hope relevant parties can consider how we can de-escalate the situation on the peninsula and realise peace and stability on the peninsula,” she...

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Harvey Triggers ‘Unbearable’ Pollution as Refineries Spew Cancer-Causing Chemicals

by Jake Johnson – “Air pollution is one of the unseen dangers of the storm.” As the catastrophic flooding brought about by Hurricane Harvey continues to devastate Texas, reports of “unbearable” smells are beginning to emerge from the state, sparking growing concerns of the long-term health effects that could result from toxic waste and fumes being spewed from temporarily closed oil refineries. “At least 10 refineries on the Texas coast have shut down,” notes the Huffington Post‘s Ryan Grenoble. “And whenever a refinery has to be closed or restarted, especially in emergency situations, its emissions far exceed what’s typically allowed.” Environment Texas, a citizen-based environmental advocacy project of Environment America, said in a statement on Monday that Houston oil industry is likely “releasing more than 1 million pounds of harmful pollution into the air, according to its initial reports to Texas regulators.” “Air pollution is one of the unseen dangers of the storm,” Dr. Elena Craft, senior health scientist at Environmental Defense Fund,...

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Stormfront Silenced After Decades of Neo-Nazi Hate Speech

by Luke Barnes – It follows the shutdown of another white supremacist site, the Daily Stormer. One of the internet’s oldest and most popular neo-Nazi forums, which has been linked to dozens of murders, has been shut down after more than two decades of promoting white supremacy. Stormfront, which had more than 300,000 members at its height, recently had its domain name placed on hold by host provider Network Solutions after the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights drafted a letter to Network Solutions’ parent company, Web.com. The committee argued that Stormfront violated Web.com’s Acceptable Use Policy by utilizing the service “to display bigotry, racism, discrimination or hatred” and said the website was used to encourage violent participation in the Unite the Right rally. “If Web.com takes action now…the company will serve as an example for other providers of domain registration services, as well as an example of corporate leadership standing up to hate,”...

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Republican Attempts to Undermine Mueller with Bill Severely Limiting Investigation

by Mark Sumner – Florida Republican Representative Ron DeSantis has introduced a bill that would place severe limits on what Special Counsel Robert Mueller and how long he could investigate at all. DeSantis has put forward a provision that would halt funding for Mueller’s probe six months after the amendment’s passage. It also would prohibit Mueller from investigating matters that occurred before June 2015, when Trump launched his presidential campaign. By setting a known, and short, deadline on the investigation, DeSantis would destroy Mueller’s ability to move forward in typical fashion by bringing in low-level participantsand getting them to “flip” on those at the top. Why would anyone confess, offer testimony, or cooperate in any way when they knew they had only to wait a few months for the whole investigation to go away? The 2015 barrier would also create an artificial barrier, blocking off a huge part of Trump’s two decade relationship with Russian oligarchs...

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North Korea is not Soviet Union and Trump is not Kennedy (VIDEO)

by Richard Klass – There are critical differences between the Cuban Missile Crisis and the current situation on the Korean Peninsula. It has become popular to describe the current situation on the Korean Peninsula as a “slow motion Cuban Missile Crisis”. The temptation to do so is understandable since there are significant similarities between the two. For instance, both occurred because the militarily weaker power made a strategic move to even the balance. In 1962, the Soviets tried to sneak missiles into range of the United States to offset their lack of reliable intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). Today, North Korea is undertaking an accelerated ICBM and associated nuclear warhead programme to deter the overwhelming conventional and nuclear superiority of the US. Yet, there are critical differences that make the North Korean situation more intractable. WATCH: South Korea holds drills to prepare for potential attack by North (2:27) To begin with, this is the first foreign policy...

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On This Day, Aug. 29, 1966 – The Beatles Play Their Last Concert

1966 – The Beatles ended their fourth American tour at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA. It turned out that the show was their last public concert. Although they made an unannounced live appearance in January 1969 on the rooftop of the Apple building, The Beatles’ final live concert took place on 29 August 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. The Park’s capacity was 42,500, but only 25,000 tickets were sold, leaving large sections of unsold seats. Fans paid between $4.50 and $6.50 for tickets, and The Beatles’ fee was around $90,000. The show’s promoter was local company Tempo Productions. The Beatles took 65% of the gross, the city of San Francisco took 15% of paid admissions and were given 50 free tickets. This arrangement, coupled with low ticket sales and other unexpected expenses resulted in a financial loss for Tempo Productions. The compère was ‘Emperor’ Gene...

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We Are Taking Trump to Court to Stop His Illegal and Cruel Ban on Transgender Service Members

by Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project – When President Trump took to Twitter on the morning of July 26 to issue a series of lies about transgender individuals serving in the United States armed forces and announce a ban on open transgender service, he disrupted the lives and careers of thousands of transgender troops. His announcement came as a shock to almost everyone, including members of Congress, military experts, and the Secretary of Defense. While he claimed to have consulted with his “Generals and military experts,” that was not the case. Instead, he allied himself with Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council who dismissed the service of transgender individuals as the “social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military.” We hoped that the ill-advised ban would languish on the president’s Twitter feed, but unfortunately, he turned the tweets into a directive banning open transgender...

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German Killer Nurse Suspected of 84 More Murders

Police say nurse convicted of murdering patients by injecting them with deadly medication may have killed scores more. A former German nurse serving a life sentence for murdering patients by injecting them with a deadly medication is suspected of killing 84 other people, according to police. If convicted, the man identified only as Niels H. under reporting rules, would be one of the worst serial killers in the country’s criminal history. A court order to exhume scores of former patients treated by the suspect found traces of the medication in 84 cases, Johann Kuehme the police chief in the northern German city of Oldenburg told a press conference on Monday. Kuehme said police believe that the numbers of deaths could be even higher. However, many of the patients who died have since been cremated. In past hearings, the nurse, now aged 40, admitted deliberately injecting patients at two clinics...

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Suddenly, Trump’s Efforts to Obstruct Justice Start to Make Sense

by GoodNewsRoundup – Russia/Trump Investigations are on Fire Mueller Seeks Grand Jury Testimony from PR Execs Who Worked With Manafort Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued grand jury subpoenas in recent days seeking testimony from public relations executives who worked on an international campaign organized by Paul Manafort, people directly familiar with the matter told NBC News. This is the first public indication that Mueller’s investigation is beginning to compel witness testimony before the grand jury — a significant milestone in an inquiry that is examining the conduct of President Donald Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, among others. It is also further indication that Manafort, Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, could be in serious legal jeopardy. But that is not all! Check this out: Special Counsel Examines Possible Role Flynn Played in Seeking Clinton Emails From Hackers Special counsel Robert Mueller is examining what role, if any, former national security...

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Racial Profiling, Ignoring Sex Crimes, and Birtherism: Arpaio’s Legacy

by E.A. Crunden – The sheriff Trump just pardoned has done severe damage to Arizona, and to the country. President Donald Trump issued a pardon for Sheriff Joe Arpaio late Friday night, effectively guaranteeing that the man who helped shape one of the country’s most violent anti-immigrant crackdowns will avoid doing time for racial profiling and targeting Arizona’s Latinx community in particular. In 2011, Arpaio, was ordered by a federal judge to stop detaining people on the sole basis of their immigration status. Earlier this year, he was charged with criminal contempt after years of disregarding that order. The charge is punishable with up to six months in jail; Trump has now ensured Arpaio will not serve any of that time. Arpaio—who proclaimed himself “America’s toughest sheriff”—spent 24 years as sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, which is home to the city of Phoenix. During that time he oversaw countless horrors towards the area’s residents, in addition...

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‘Two-Faced’ Texas GOP Seeking Hurricane Relief After Rejecting Sandy Aid

by Jake Johnson – Ted Cruz, who voted against a relief package for states impacted by Hurricane Sandy, urged President Trump on Friday to quickly deliver aid to Texas. When Hurricane Sandy slammed New York, New Jersey, and a number of other states in 2012, Ted Cruz and more than 20 of his fellow Texas Republicans voted against an emergency aid package devoted to the areas devastated by the storm. Now that Hurricane Harvey is currently ravaging their own state, however, many of these same Republicans are changing their tune. Last Friday, Texas Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn—two of the more vociferous opponents of the Sandy emergency aid package—sent a letter to the White House urging President Donald Trump to “provide any and all emergency protective measures available by a major disaster declaration.” The senators also called on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to expedite emergency funding. The two letters were quickly highlighted by lawmakersand commentators as shamelessly hypocritical. “The devastation...

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Read a Dreamer’s Open Letter to Donald Trump Explaining Why DACA Must Stay

by Gabe Ortiz – Since its implementation five years ago, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has helped 800,000 undocumented youth achieve their dreams. Because of DACA, immigrant youth may work legally, apply for driver’s licenses, and live free from the fear of deportation. In other words: they can live normal lives. They are parents, neighbors, friends, leaders, professionals, and spouses. They are American in every single way but for a piece of paper. So when the Trump administration threatens to kill the program, the government is threatening to cast away young people deeply intertwined into the fabric of America. In an open letter to Donald Trump, DACA recipient Juan Escalante, a Florida State University graduate and immigrant rights leader with America’s Voice, explains why DACA must stay: That freedom that young undocumented immigrants have enjoyed for the past five years has yielded significant gains for the United States. Thanks to DACA young immigrants have been able to pursue higher education,...

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Trump Sent Convicted Mobster Felix Sater to Make a Deal in Moscow During His Campaign

by Mark Sumner – Though Donald Trump has repeatedly stated that he has no business in Russia, it’s not because he wasn’t trying — even in the middle of his campaign. While Donald Trump was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, his company was pursuing a plan to develop a massive Trump Tower in Moscow, according to several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers. This project was being put together by Felix Sater, a long time Trump associate who Trump sent to Moscow on multiple occasions to scout for properties.  While working as a stockbroker, Sater once attacked a fellow broker with a broken glass. Later he was convicted of fraud in a “pump and dump” scandal in which he inflated the value of a penny stock to dupe investors. And then Sater pleaded guilty to racketeering in a case that involved organized crime and national...

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Catholic Leaders Get Final Chance to Take Stand Against Nazis

by SemDem – One of the darkest chapters of the Catholic Church last century was during the start of WWII, when Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pope Pius XII, signed a treaty on behalf of the Vatican with Adolf Hitler. The Reichskonkordat gave moral legitimacy to the Nazi regime that Hitler sought—even after he had acquired dictatorial powers through the Enabling Act of 1933.  The treaty promised that Bishops would swear loyalty to the leader of the German government, and it allowed the Nazis to claim that the Third Reich had been given “full approval by the highest spiritual power on earth”. As you might have expected, Hitler never honored his part of the agreement on Church protections.  In essence, the future pope made a deal with the devil, and it didn’t end well. You can’t make deals with the devil and ever expect it to… I’ve completely given up on evangelical Christians,...

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On This Day, Aug. 28, 1963 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Tells America ‘I Have a Dream’

1963 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech at a civil rights rally in Washington, DC. More than 200,000 people attended. King, a Baptist minister, was a driving force in the push for racial equality in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. In 1963, King and his staff focused on Birmingham, Alabama. They marched and protested non-violently, raising the ire of local officials who sicced water cannon and police dogs on the marchers, whose ranks included teenagers and children. The bad publicity and break-down of business forced the white leaders of Birmingham to concede to some anti-segregation demands. Thrust into the national spotlight in Birmingham, where he was arrested and jailed, King helped organize a massive march on Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. His partners in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom included other religious leaders, labor leaders, and black organizers....

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Arpaio Pardon May Be Opening Act of a Constitutional Crisis

by Charles Kaiser – Trump’s move Friday night shows the same disregard of the rule of law with which he’s trying to quash the Russia probe. This morning, I received an email from an old friend — one of the country’s top trial lawyers: “I have underestimated Trump. He knows what is coming, including a variety of criminal charges and other impeachable offenses. He is not just arousing his base to anger but to arms, some of them. There is no other way to explain the transgender ban, the Arpaio pardon, his Charlottesville remarks… “I would think he will pardon himself, family members, Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, among others, and if he is angry enough, Mrs. O’Leary, who, you must admit, got kind of a raw deal.” [Note: Myth has it that one Kate O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern in the barn and started the Great Chicago Fire of l871. She was...

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Charlottesville Coalition to March 10 Days to DC to Confront White Supremacy

by Jessica Corbett – “We know that this is a very dangerous moment in our nation’s history, a moment that requires action.” In response to the violent white supremacist gatherings that killed one and injured dozens in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month, a coalition of community members, students, and clergy have organized a 10-day, 112-mile march from Charlottesville to Washington, D.C., which begins Monday, August 28 at Emancipation Park. “We are answering the call from faith and community leaders in Charlottesville to dismantle white supremacy in our country by taking their demand for moral leadership to Washington D.C.,” declares the group’s website, which features details about their march route, and their plans to launch a wave of actions in Washington. “We know that this is a very dangerous moment in our nation’s history, a moment that requires action. We are marching to D.C. in the spirit of love, equity, and justice like those before us did in...

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Trump’s Council on Environmental Quality has no Members at All

by Josh Israel – The administration is required by law to have such a panel. It would not be an overstatement to say that President Donald Trump has placed the environment at the bottom of priority list. While his administration aggressively pursues its rollback of environmental protections and climate action, other key aspects of federal environmental policy have been completely ignored. Seven months into his presidency, Trump has yet to appoint a single member to the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), despite the fact that he is required by law to appoint a council to create and recommend policies to improve of the quality of the environment. After noticing that its website showed no council members, ThinkProgress reached out to the council to ask for a list of current members. Told that this information was not available, ThinkProgress filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the current list of names. On...

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‘Adopt a Nazi’: How Groups are Countering Neo-Nazis

by Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath – Inspired by a German town, US organizations are attempting to trick white supremacists into ‘funding their own demise’. More than 1,800 people have “adopted a Nazi” in the US, raising nearly $133,000 to help neo-Nazis and white supremacists “fund their own demise”. The campaign, launched by the Jewish Bar Association of San Francisco (JBASF), invites individuals to donate money for every person planning to attend a right-wing rally scheduled for Saturday in the northern California city. WATCH: Charlottesville – Residents feel sadness and anger (3:06) The money will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organisation that monitors hate groups across the country. The “Adopt a Nazi (not really)” campaign is one of several alternative methods that organisations are using to counter the narrative of the alt-right, a loosely knit far-right network that includes white supremacists and white nationalists, among other groups. The events in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this...

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