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Coal Lobbyist Andrew Wheeler Tapped for Top EPA Post



Andrew Wheeler during his confirmation hearing to be Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency before the United States Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works in Washington D.C. on Nov. 8, 2017. Alex Edelman - picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced the resignation of scandal-plagued EPA Chief Scott Pruitt. The President continued that the future of the agency “looked bright” with Andrew Wheeler at the helm.

“We have made tremendous progress and the future of the EPA is very bright!” the President announced.

The future might be bright for the coal industry, if not so much humans and plants who need sunlight and air to survive.

Here are 6 horrifying things about Pruitt’s replacement, Andrew Wheeler.

1. His last gig was as a coal industry lobbyist. Wheeler worked for Murray Energy Corporation—the largest coal mining company in America. Wheeler must have been good at his job promoting big coal interests, netting close to $3 million for the gig.

2. Murray Energy’s CEO, who doesn’t believe in climate science, worked hard to stall the Obama administration’s efforts to pass environmental protections.

3. Wheeler formally worked for James Inhofe, pre-eminent climate change denier, according to DeSmog blog.

4. While Wheeler worked for Murray Energy, the company was forced to pay millions in fines for contaminating water in three states with coal slurry, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

5. Prior to his nomination, Pruitt hosted fundraisers for Senators in order to evaluate his chance of getting the post.

6. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Wheeler presents a dire threat to mitigating the negative effects of climate change. “Unlike Pruitt, Wheeler worked for the EPA early in his career and has played key roles in Congressional oversight of the agency and its budget, making him a formidable opponent with intimate knowledge of the agency’s programs and regulations,” they wrote.

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How to Debate Republican Family Members This 4th of July – and Win



Photo: Bob n Renee/Flickr

Today is the United States of America’s birthday.

And just like our own birthdays, it gets celebrated whether or not the past year was a success.

America doesn’t have much to celebrate as it turns 242 years old, but celebrate we shall.

For most Americans, the holiday means getting together with friends and family, including that one racist uncle who will spend the day talking fawningly about Trump’s big, beautiful border wall.

When that happens, you’re going to want to debate him. And you’re going to want to win.

Here is a guide to what the wingnuts are currently obsessed with, from someone who is professionally obligated to watch more Fox News than any sane person should.

Everyone crossing the border without authorization is acting illegally and that’s why we lock them up.

People from both sides of the aisle tend to casually refer to unauthorized border crossings as though they’re all illegal. They’re not, because the United States is obligated by international law to grant asylum to qualified people. The requirements to qualify for asylum are complex, but asylum should be granted to someone who fears persecution in their home country based on political opinion or being part of a particular social group when their home country’s government is either involved in the persecution or unable to stop it.

So there’s a good argument for the prototypical family of indigenous people from a rural Guatemalan village who is being targeted by Narcos who view indigenous people as subhuman and/or want to force them to participate in a violent criminal enterprise. That means those people are legally allowed to come to the United States. They don’t have to “wait their turn” or any of that.

Trump and his agents are acting illegally by automatically detaining asylum seekers, a judge just ruled.

Trump and his supporters make a big deal about these folks needing to go to an officially designated port of entry to qualify for asylum. You can’t request asylum until you’re on American soil, so if the Trumpistas can block them from getting to American soil then the U.S. has no obligation to grant them asylum.

But that’s not the law—asylum seekers can make an unauthorized arrival by sneaking past immigration control and then file their paperwork. They have not necessarily committed a crime by doing so.

Crossing the border without authorization is a serious crime and we need to detain the people who do it. We detain them apart from their children because you can’t bring your kids to jail with you.

Crossing the border without authorization—what Reoublicans call “illegally”—is a Class B misdemeanor. As a crime, this is as serious as drawing with a marker on a dollar bill.

We don’t put people in jail for drawing a mustache on a dollar bill, let alone take their kid away and lock them in a cage inside an abandoned Walmart.

Once a migrant is here, being here without proper documentation is a civil infraction—but it’s not an infraction if they turn in paperwork to apply for asylum.

Obama was also locking up migrant kids and all the photos you see are of kids locked up during Obama’s administration.

The Obama administration did detain migrant children, and deported a lot of people. Despite what the right claims about amnesty, the former president was extremely aggressive in policing immigration.

But those children you see locked up under Obama were not forcibly separated from their parents at the border. They were “unaccompanied minors” who made their way north on their own and got caught at the border.

The difference is that Trump intentionally and cruelly took kids from their parents—including very small children and babies.

The girl in that famous photo later used on the cover of Time was not separated from her mother.

This is true—it’s also true that lots of little girls just like her were.

Democrats are destroying the country with a lack of civility—such as by refusing to serve fried chicken to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“Civility” is the right’s latest obsession. Essentially, everyone on Fox New seems worried that if people stop treating collaborators nicely in public, it will be miserable for current collaborators and harder to recruit new ones.

Without resorting to whataboutism, it’s worth remembering that the root of Donald Trump’s appeal is his undermining of our culture’s norms. He’s said things that other politicians won’t say and done things that other politicians won’t do. The list is too long to even start into.

People have responded by resisting Trump and his collaborators in ways both big and small. That includes confronting them in restaurants.

When Obama was president, Republicans cheered when a bakery refused to serve Joe Biden.

Republicans also cheered when religious bakeries refused to make cakes for gay weddings.

Cake is not a sacred part of a wedding ceremony or the subject of any religious rituals. To say it’s OK for someone to refuse to serve a regular gay couple because you don’t like their personal choices but that it’s wrong to refuse to serve someone who constantly tells lies and took kids away from their parents and locked them in cages seems hypocritical.

Trump succeeded in North Korea and the media won’t give him credit.

People on the right are obsessed with the fact that North Korea destroyed its nuclear test site with great fanfare. What they don’t understand is that happened because North Korea no longer needs to test nuclear weapons—it knows they work, it built them, it has the missiles to fire them at us.

North Korea destroying its missile test site was a celebration of its successful tests, not of acquiesce to Trump.

What did happen is that Trump legitimized a dictator by negotiating with him as an equal.

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Marco Rubio Doubles Down – Now Fundraising Off His Anti-Gay Chick-fil-A Lies




Marco Rubio is doubling down. The Florida Republican U.S. Senator on Monday launched into a Twitter rant, falsely claiming the CEO of Twitter was “bullied into apology” for patronizing Chick-fil-A.

That’s a lie.

First, Jack Dorsey never apologized. Second, he wasn’t bullied.

Here’s what happened:

Dorsey, known on Twitter as @Jack (when you co-found a social media company you get first dibs on names), posted this:

Well-known journalist Soledad O’Brien responded, then Jack responded.

That, to Sen. Rubio, is “bullying.”

After his Twitter rant on Monday, Rubio, according to CNN’s David Wright, is emailing his lie (more on that momentarily) in what appears to be a fundraising effort.

It’s almost amusing that Soledad O’Brien, who was praised a decade ago by a Roman Catholic publication for raising her children as devout Roman Catholics, is now seen by devout Roman Catholic Marco Rubio as the “PC police.”

Rubio is, in fact, also lying about the issue with Chick-fil-A, as NCRM explained earlier Wednesday.

Bottom line, despite years of false claims by the religious right, and now Marco Rubio, it’s not that Chick-fil-A doesn’t support marriage equality, it’s that they support, with millions of dollars, organizations that are antigay, anti-LGBT, and support harmful conversion therapy. And at least one of the groups Chick-fil-A and its owners fund is an anti-gay hate group.

Maybe the Florida Republican Senator would care to explain why he supports conversion therapy, a practice that medical experts have declared harmful and that’s been tied to suicide.

(A call to Senator Rubio’s press secretary was not immediately returned.)

We’ll wait.


Image of Marco Rubio by Gage Skidmore via Flickr and a CC license

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