10 Ways That Trump’s New NAFTA Threatens People And The Planet

Trump meets with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto at the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2017. Trump is pushing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement among their countries and Canada. Photo via NPR.

By William Waren for Friends of the Earth – During his campaign for president, Donald Trump demonized the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), calling it “the worst trade deal” and making false assurances that he would rework NAFTA, and other trade deals, to protect the American people. As the process to renegotiate NAFTA begins, Trump’s rhetoric and actions strongly suggest that he plans to step up his war on the planet. Trump’s NAFTA “re-do” is highly likely to reflect many elements of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and specifically, the portions of the TPP that would undercut environmental regulations. The Administration’s statement on July 17 of its NAFTA negotiating objectives reinforces concerns that Trump plans to use a new NAFTA to hamstring effective environmental regulation across the board and accelerate global warming. When we compare the evils of Trump’s new trade deal against reality of our current economy, the American people should be extremely concerned about the future of our environment. As trade renegotiations begin in Washington, D.C., on August 16, we compiled a list of ten ways this process endangers our environment.

In J20 Investigation, DOJ Overreaches Again. And Gets Taken To Court Again.

From eff.org

By Mark Rumold for EFF – We’ve already written about problems with the government’s investigation into the J20 protests—a series of demonstrations on January 20, the day of President Trump’s inauguration—which resulted in the arrest of hundreds of protesters. But prosecutors in DC are still at it. And they’re still using unconstitutional methods to pursue their investigation. This time they served a search warrant on hosting provider DreamHost that would require the company to turn over essentially all information on a website it hosts, www.disruptj20.org—a site that was dedicated to organizing and planning the protest. Did you click on that link? Well, that’s apparently information the government wants to know. In just one example of the staggering overbreadth of the search warrant, it would require DreamHost to turn over the IP logs of all visitors to the site. Millions of visitors—activists, reporters, or you (if you clicked on the link)—would have records of their visits turned over to the government. The warrant also sought production of all emails associated with the account and unpublished content, like draft blog posts and photos.

The Corruption Of Mike Pence And The Privatization Of Infrastructure

Gov. Mike Pence (R) signing Indiana’s “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” while surrounded by anti-LGBT activists. CREDIT: TWITTER/MICAH CLARK

By David Sirota for IB Times – In 2015, then-Gov. Mike Pence made the controversial decision to keep the Indiana Toll Road under the control of a consortium of private corporations, which was represented by a local lobbying firm that had funneled large donations to Pence’s gubernatorial campaign. This year, the same lobby firm signed up to press the Donald Trump administration on behalf of IFM Investors — the same foreign company that Pence originally approved to run the toll road consortium. In fact, documents reviewed by International Business Times show the lobbying firm that bankrolled Pence has been in direct contact with the vice president on federal infrastructure policy. The firm has lobbied Pence on behalf of Melbourne-based IFM as Pence has explicitly extolled IFM in his work spearheading a White House plan to privatize roads, bridges and airports. That trillion-dollar initiative, which Trump is scheduled to promote on Tuesday and which could enrich foreign investors, comes as Trump has said he is focused on “putting America first.” In response to IBT’s questions, White House spokesperson Natalie Strom said in a written statement that Trump “has made it clear that his priority is investment in American infrastructure” and that White House staff “welcome foreign companies who recognize that under President Trump, building American infrastructure is a good investment.”

Trump DOJ Seeks 1.3 Million IP Addresses Associated With J20 Trump Inauguration Protests

Donald Trump. (photo: Getty Images)

By Staff of Dream Host – You would be shocked to see just how many of these challenges we’re obligatedto mount every year! Chris Ghazarian, our General Counsel, has taken issue with this particular search warrant for being a highly untargeted demand that chills free association and the right of free speech afforded by the Constitution. Demand for Information. The request from the DOJ demands that DreamHost hand over 1.3 millionvisitor IP addresses — in addition to contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people — in an effort to determine who simply visitedthe website. (Our customer has also been notified of the pending warrant on the account.) That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment. That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.

U.S. Submits Formal Notice Of Withdrawal From Paris Climate Pact

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump pauses as he announces his decision that the United States will withdraw from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., June 1, 2017. Kevin Lamarque

By Valerie Volcovici for Reuters – WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department has officially informed the United Nations it will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement in a document issued on Friday, but left the door open to re-engaging if the terms improved for the United States. The State Department said in a press release the United States would continue to participate in United Nations climate change meetings during the withdrawal process, which is expected to take at least three years. “The United States supports a balanced approach to climate policy that lowers emissions while promoting economic growth and ensuring energy security,” the department said in the release. President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris deal in June, saying the accord would have cost America trillions of dollars, killed jobs, and hindered the oil, gas, coal and manufacturing industries. But he also, at the time, said he would be open to renegotiating the deal, which was agreed by nearly 200 nations over the course of years – drawing ridicule from world and business leaders who said that would be impossible. During a visit last month to Paris to meet French President Emmanuel Macron, the two discussed the deal and Trump told reporters “Something could happen with respect to the Paris accords, let’s see what happens.”

Mueller Impanels Trump Grand Jury And Issues Subpoenas

Robert Mueller (cnn.com)

By Elizabeth Preza and David Ferguson for Raw Story – Special counsel Robert Mueller has impaneled a grand jury to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 elections, the Wall Street Journal reports. The Journal reports the grand jury convened in recent weeks and will likely continue for several months, according to two sources familiar with the probe. The move signals Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Donald Trump’s campaign has intensified. “This is yet a further sign that there is a long-term, large-scale series of prosecutions being contemplated and being pursued by the special counsel,” Stephen I. Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, explained to the Wall Street Journal. “If there was already a grand jury in Alexandria looking at Flynn, there would be no need to reinvent the wheel for the same guy. This suggests that the investigation is bigger and wider than Flynn, perhaps substantially so.” Mueller was appointed in May by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee the investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from all matters involving Russia. Trump has repeatedly derided Sessions over his recusal, suggesting he would not have appointed him as attorney general had he known ahead of time.

As Sessions Promises Drug War Escalation, Listen To Drug War Prisoners

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By Doran Larson for The Conversation – Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced a return to a pre-Obama policy of seeking maximum penalties for all drug crimes, including low-level, nonviolent offenses. Criticism from politicians, criminologists, lawyers and others was swift and unambiguous. Based on a discredited belief in a zero-sum relationship between crime and incarceration rates, the thinking behind this policy was called “one-dimensional,” “archaic,” “misguided” and “dumb.” America’s unprecedented attempt to jail its way out of crime long ago passed the point of diminishing returns. Drug trafficking in particular sees a replacement effect: Removing one drug seller simply makes room for another (often accompanied by a violent reshuffling of territories). Excessive incarceration can also damage communities and can actually make an individual more, not less, likely to reoffend. I have been facilitating a writing workshop inside Attica Correctional Facility since 2006. For the past eight years, I have solicited, collected, helped publish and digitally disseminated the first-person writing of incarcerated Americans. Those on the receiving end of the attorney general’s misguided policy will naturally feel his words more deeply than others. The writers among them will be burdened with responsibility to make those feelings known.

Top Official Resigns From Trump EPA With Scathing Letter

TexasGOPVote.com/ Flickr EPA

By Ryan Grenoble for The Huffington Post – In her 40 years working in environmental protection, Elizabeth “Betsy” Southerland has confronted all manner of environmental threats. But even she has her limits. Faced with the stark new environmental policies ushered in by President Donald Trump and Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt, Southerland resigned from the agency Monday, where’d she’d been working as the director of science and technology in the Office of Water. Southerland explained her decision in a farewell letter published Tuesday by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a non-profit group for federal resource professionals. “Today the environmental field is suffering from the temporary triumph of myth over truth,” she wrote. “The truth is there is NO war on coal, there is NO economic crisis caused by environmental protection, and climate change IS caused by man’s activities.” Southerland joins several other dissenting federal environmental officials who have publicly chastised the Trump administration’s environmental approach, which has been defined thus far largely by reducing federal oversight and overturning landmark Obama-era EPA rulings.

Drug Prosecutions Drop To Historic Lows Under Trump

Images Money / Flickr

By Staff of Trac Reports – Despite widespread concern about an epidemic of opioid abuse, and announcements by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and others of stepped of efforts by his department and the Trump administration to address it, federal criminal prosecutions for drug offenses have dropped to historic lows. “This epidemic of opioid abuse is a crisis,” Sessions said in remarks at an opioid summit in May. “It’s ravaging our communities, bringing crime and violence to our streets and destroying the lives of so many Americans.” While acknowledging prevention is ultimately the key, Sessions said that “criminal enforcement is crucial[1].” The latest data from the Justice Department, current through June 2017, show that fewer drug offenders were federally prosecuted over the past 12 months than at any time during the last quarter century. According to the case-by-case records analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, during the first five months of the Trump administration (February – June 2017), there were only 8,814 drug offenders federally prosecuted. This represents a drop of 9.0 percent as compared with the 9,687 federal criminal cases prosecuted during February – June 2016.

Trump Appoints Abusive Gitmo General As Chief Of Staff

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By Staff of CCRJusitce – General Kelly’s aggressive oversight of the illegal military prison at Guantánamo Bay disqualifies him to head the Department of Homeland Security. Presiding over a population of detainees not charged or convicted of crimes, over whom he had maximum custodial control, Kelly treated them with brutality. His response to the detainees’ peaceful hunger strike in 2013 was punitive force-feeding, solitary confinement, and rubber bullets. Furthermore, he sabotaged efforts by the Obama administration to resettle detainees, consistently undermining the will of his commander in chief. His temperament and actions make him unfit to lead an agency that currently holds tens of thousands of immigrants, including many fleeing violence and many in long-term indefinite detention. Kelly’s recent vow to end “political correctness” in U.S. national security policy is a thinly veiled endorsement of policies and practices that are illegal and immoral, including torture and racial and religious profiling. His statement is a clear warning sign, and the Senate must reject his nomination to preserve and protect the rule of law.

Amtrak’s $630m Trump Budget Cut Could Derail Service In 220 US Cities

The National Association of Railroad Passengers warned Trump’s proposed budget cuts to Amtrak ‘wipes out funding for long-distance train service in over 220 cities and towns and in 23 states that will lose train service completely”. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

By Tom Dart for The Guardian – The routes have names that evoke glorious Americana and the frontier spirit: the Empire Builder, the Silver Meteor, the Sunset Limited, the Texas Eagle, the Coast Starlight and the California Zephyr. But a president who ran on a nostalgic promise to “make America great again” appears to have little interest in reviving once mighty railroads that stood as symbols of American capitalist ambition in the era of the robber barons. While he has touted a $1tn investment plan for America’s infrastructure – which so far shows few signs of materialising – the president’s proposed budget included $630m in cuts for Amtrak that would devastate long-distance services. An advocacy group, the National Association of Railroad Passengers (Narp), warned the budget “wipes out funding for long-distance train service in over 220 cities and towns and in 23 states that will lose train service completely”. Almost all those states are in the middle of the country and voted for Trump. Most of the stations said to be at risk are in rural areas.

‘How Can You Work … For A President That Undermines Your Work?’

Andrew Harrer/ Bloomberg via Getty Images

By Mattathias Schwartz for Pro Publica – Last week, Dan Coats, the former senator from Indiana and current head of the U.S. intelligence community, was interviewed by NBC’s Lester Holt in front of a live audience at the Aspen Security Forum, a gathering where diplomats, journalists and top U.S. officials mingle with business executives in between livestreamed panel discussions on world affairs. (The hourlong discussion was posted on YouTube.) ProPublica has obtained internal talking points, apparently written by one of Coats’ aides, anticipating questions that Holt was likely to ask. They offer a window into the euphemisms and evasions necessary to handle a pressing issue for Coats: how to lead the intelligence community at a time when the president has insulted it on Twitter and denigrated its work while questions about Russian influence consume ever more time and attention in Washington. Sixteen of the 26 questions addressed by the talking points concerned internal White House politics, the Russia investigation, or the president himself. One question put the challenges facing Coats this way: “How can you work as DNI for a president that undermines your work?”

#OutragedAndUnafraid: Undocumented Youth Confront Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Agenda

"Taking brave action has been the only thing that has never failed us," said Maria Fernanda Cabello, a spokesperson for Movimiento Cosecha. (Photo: Movimiento Cosecha/Twitter)

By Jake Johnson for Common Dreams – “For the last 20 years, Republicans and Democrats have failed to deliver on promise after promise to the immigrant community. We will not put our trust in them. We are putting our faith in our people.” As the Trump administration continues to take aim at sanctuary cities and carry out a “draconian” immigration agenda that has led to a large spike in detentions, undocumented youth immigrants and activists took to the streets of Austin, Texas, on Wednesday to both demand that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) be kept in place and to “pledge their renewed commitment to winning permanent protection, dignity, and respect for all eleven million undocumented immigrants.” In a statement, Cosecha organizers said that Wednesday’s actions were meant to call attention to the fact that Texas “leads the country in mass deportations and recently passed SB4, the most anti-immigrant statewide law.”Wednesday marks the first time undocumented youth have carried out a day of civil disobedience of this magnitude since President Donald Trump took office, according to Movimiento Cosecha, the group that organized the effort.

Trump Administration Makes Key Decision That Threatens Water Supply Of Millions

D. Hammonds/Shutterstock

By Reynard Loki for AlterNet – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reportedly issuing a proposed rule to undo the Clean Water Rule that was enacted in May 2015, under President Obama’s last term. The rule protects the water supply for more than 117 million Americans. Also known as the Waters of the United States (WOTUS), the Clean Water Rule puts limits on pollution in the wetlands, rivers and streams that feed the nation’s larger waterways. Those limits are essential for protecting the safety of the drinking water on which millions of American rely. The rule also safeguards those waters for swimming, fishing and other activities. In addition, the rule helps to maintain the biological integrity of those smaller waterways, in turn protecting wildlife by keeping aquatic ecosystems healthy. When the rule was issued, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers resolved decades of legal debate among politicians, environmentalists and public health advocates, saying that smaller waterways across the nations—tens of millions of acres of wetlands and thousands of streams—actually qualify for legal protection under the Clean Water Act, the primary federal law that protects communities and ecosystems from water pollution.

The Torture-Friendly Trump Administration

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By Medea Benjamin for Other Words – Only stupid people say torture works — and one of them is sitting in the White House. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Donald Trump is pro-torture. He said on the campaign trail he’d approve waterboarding “in a heartbeat,” plus “a hell of a lot worse.” He added: “Only a stupid person would say it doesn’t work.” There are certainly a lot of stupid people then, because everyone from interrogators to researchers have repeatedly concluded that torture doesn’t work. People will say whatever you want them to say to make the pain stop, making torture not only inhumane but also bad for intelligence. A 2009 Senate Armed Services Committee review concluded that torture “damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority.” That’s why the Senate voted in 2015 to turn the presidential ban on torture into official law. To his credit, Trump did water down his original support for torture, allowing Defense Secretary James Mattis — who opposes torture — to override him. But if the Trump administration is now opposed to torture, why are they nominating the architects of America’s torture fiasco to key posts?