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 Called The Danish Prime Minister “Nasty” After He Canceled A Visit Because She Won’t Sell Greenland

A bizarre diplomatic row, even by the standards of the Trump administration, dragged on Wednesday as the US president said the way Denmark’s prime minister dismissed his idea of buying Greenland was “nasty.”

On Tuesday, President Trump abruptly canceled a planned state visit to Denmark after Mette Frederiksen, the Danish PM, firmly rejected his stated wish to buy Greenland, the semi-autonomous island home to 56,000 people.

Frederiksen had labelled the idea of the US purchasing Greenland an “absurd discussion” to be having.

But while he initially thanked the Danish PM on Twitter for “being so direct,” in remarks to journalists as he departed the White House on Wednesday, Trump branded her comment as “nasty.”

“I thought the prime minister’s statement that it was absurd, that it was an absurd idea, was nasty. I thought it was inappropriate. All she had to do was say, ‘No, we wouldn’t be interested,'” Trump said.

“She’s not talking to me. She’s talking to the United States of America,” the president added. “You don’t talk to the United States that way.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Frederiksen expressed “regret and surprise” at September’s state visit being canceled, as she reiterated once more that Greenland was not for sale.

“I had been looking forward to the visit and preparations were well underway,” Frederiksen told journalists in Copenhagen in a statement delivered in Danish and English. “It was an opportunity to celebrate Denmark’s close relationship to the US, which remains one of Denmark’s closest allies.”

She added, “This does not change the character of our good relations [with the US], and we will of course from Denmark continue our ongoing dialogue with the US on how we can develop our cooperation and deal with the many common challenges we are facing.”

Only hours before Trump canceled the state visit, the American ambassador, Carla Sands, tweeted excitedly about the president’s upcoming visit.

But on Wednesday she was in damage control mode.

Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, had been invited by Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II. Denmark’s state broadcaster quoted a royal spokesperson as saying that Trump’s announcement “came as a surprise.”

“That’s all we have to say about that,” the spokesperson added.

Former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt was more direct. “Is this some sort of joke?” she wrote on Twitter after Trump canceled the state visit.

The Wall Street Journal first reported last week that Trump had raised the possibility of buying Greenland, and he confirmed Sunday that such a purchase had been discussed because of the island’s strategic location and natural resources.

“Essentially, it’s a large real estate deal. A lot of things can be done,” Trump said. “It’s hurting Denmark very badly, because they’re losing almost $700 million a year carrying it. So they carry it at a great loss.”

He later tweeted a meme of a Trump Tower–style skyscraper in a settlement in Greenland.

But any such sale was firmly ruled out by Denmark and Greenland, which is self-governing in all respects apart from foreign policy and defense.

Speaking in Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, on Sunday, Frederiksen said the sale of Greenland was not even up for discussion, pointing out, for one thing, that Greenland belongs to Greenland, not Denmark.

“Thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over,” she told a TV reporter. “Let’s leave it there.”

[Buzzfeed]

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 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 officials unveil rule allowing indefinite migrant family detentions

The Trump administration on Wednesday said 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 decision is a momentous change in detainee policy that the administration has sought as a disincentive for people crossing the border. 

“This rule allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress,” acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in a statement.

Under the new system, immigrant families could be held for the duration of their court proceedings, which officials claim could be resolved within three months.

McAleenan said the new rule takes aim at a 2015 “reinterpretation of the Flores Settlement Agreement” in which a California district court ruled accompanied minors are subject to the same detention limits as unaccompanied minors.

The 2015 change, McAleenan said, “has generally forced the government to release families into the country after just 20 days, incentivizing illegal entry, adding to the growing backlog in immigration proceedings, and often delaying immigration proceedings for many years.”

The Trump administration has frequently blamed Flores for the spike in family border crossings over the last few years, claiming the promise of eventual release creates an incentive to enter the country illegally. On Wednesday, it defended the change as closing a “loophole exploited by human smugglers.”

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), however, panned the move, saying it will “put even more stress on our immigration system and add to the chaos the Administration continues to create.”

“The Trump Administration has managed to find a new low in its continued despicable treatment of migrant children and families. Terminating the Flores settlement is illegal and goes against our longstanding American values about the treatment of children,” Thompson said in a statement.

The new rule would establish new standards for conditions in detention centers while simultaneously removing the 20-day maximum detention limit that has existed since the original 1997 court ruling.

“Large numbers of alien families are entering illegally across the southern border, hoping that they will be released into the interior rather than detained during their removal proceedings,” the two agencies that created the rule, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement.

“Promulgating this rule and seeking termination of the FSA [Flores Settlement Agreement] are important steps towards an immigration system that is humane and operates consistently with the intent of Congress.”

The rule will be published in the Federal Register on Friday and will be effective 60 days later — if it is approved by the courts.

However, the process is likely to take significantly longer.

“Obviously, there will be litigation, as you know, all new immigration rules have faced litigation in my career,” said McAleenan.

Under the terms of the 1997 consent decree that eventually led to the 20-day limit in Flores, the regulation must be approved by Judge Dolly M. Gee of United States District Court for the Central District of California, who heard the original case.

Gee, who was appointed by President Obama, denied the administration’s request last year to extend family detentions after a 2015 ruling that officials could not hold unaccompanied children in unlicensed facilities longer than 20 days.

The upcoming litigation means the proposed rule could be significantly delayed or sidetracked in the courts.

“This rule contemplates terminating the Flores Settlement Agreement. And actually, there’s a legal proceeding just to do that coming out of the implementation. So we do expect litigation but we do hope to be able to implement as soon as possible,” said McAleenan.

Trump officials have sought to address Gee’s concerns with indefinite detention by creating a federal government licensing regime which includes public audits of facilities conducted by a third party.

And McAleenan painted a rosy picture of family detention units under the new rule.

“For example, the first family residential center in Berks, Pa., has a suite for each family [to be] housed separately. Furniture, bedding, towels, clothing and toiletries are provided,” said McAleenan.

He added the facilities would include medical care and educational wings, as well as leisure activities for detainees.

But DHS has bed space for 2,500 to 3,000 individuals in family units at current funding levels, a fraction of the number of Central Americans who claim asylum every month.

McAleenan blamed Congress, where Democrats worked to limit the administration’s capability to detain immigrants, for the limited facilities.

“Just a quick reminder, we did ask Congress for additional family beds in the 2019 budget process and the supplemental, and we did not receive them. So I think that’s important to recall,” said McAleenan.

Additional legal challenges to the rule are likely from immigration advocacy groups.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has fought several Trump administration immigration policies, slammed the rule as “yet another cruel attack on children.”

“The government should NOT be jailing kids, and certainly shouldn’t be seeking to put more kids in jail for longer,” the group tweeted.

“This is yet another cruel attack on children, who this administration has targeted again and again with its anti-immigrant policies.”

McAleenan said the “multihundred-page rule” would preserve the original intent of Flores, granting asylum-seeking families a safe place to live while their cases go through immigration courts.

The rule comes amid a flood of federal action to limit both legal and illegal immigration, and another lengthy rule to submit documented immigrants to a “public charge” test that’s been shown to be rife with inconsistencies.

That rule would make a receipt of public benefits, like food stamps or Medicaid, a negative factor when considering a noncitizen’s application for a visa or green card.

Earlier in the summer, the administration announced a rule expanding authority for expedited deportation, where immigration cases are not reviewed by judges, from within 100 miles of the border to anywhere in the U.S.

It also promulgated a rule which would deny asylum claims for immigrants who pass through another country before reaching the southern border.

All of those moves, which experts say would severely limit immigration, face legal challenges.

[The Hill]

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 blasts Scaramucci and tweets video of his former aide praising him

U.S. President Donald Trump once again lashed out at Anthony Scaramucci, claiming that “nobody ever heard of” the former White House communications director “until he met me.”

“Nobody ever heard of this dope until he met me. He only lasted 11 days!” Trump wrote in a nighttime Twitter post.

Trump and Scaramucci — who was fired in 2017 after serving less than two weeks as communications director — have publicly fallen out recently.

In various news media interviews, Scaramucci suggested the Republican Party should push Trump off the 2020 presidential ticket. The president, in return, took to Twitter to discredit Scaramucci — who is founder and co-managing partner of SkyBridge Capital and a GOP donor.

CNBC reached out to Scaramucci for comment on Trump’s Twitter post through SkyBridge Capital’s spokespeople, but didn’t immediately hear back.

In a Monday opinion piece in The Washington Post, Scaramucci wrote that he was wrong to support Trump before.

“I can no longer in good conscience support the president’s reelection,” he added.

[CNBC]

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]

Trump Baselessly Claims Google ‘Manipulated’ Millions of 2016 Votes: ‘My Victory Was Even Bigger Than Thought!’

President Donald Trump claimed Monday that Google manipulated 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, and called for the company to be sued.

“This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued,” said Trump. ” My victory was even bigger than thought!”

Trump did not link the source of his report, but he tagged conservative watch dog organization Judicial Watch. Psychologist and commentator Dr. Robert Epsteinmade similar claims while testifying before Congress in July.

Trump has repeatedly claimed he did not lose the popular vote, though reportsshow he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million in 2016.

He’s also previously blamed his popular vote loss on “illegal” votes, or those of undocumented immigrants.

[Mediaite]

Reality

Trump appears to be referring to the work of Robert Epstein, a researcher with a group based in Vista, Calif., called the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology. Epstein testified in a Senate hearing in June about what he calls the “Search Engine Manipulation Effect” and claimed that his research shows Google’s search results pushed at least 2.6 milllion people to vote for Clinton in 2016.

In 2017, Google dismissed Epstein’s research, telling The Washington Post that it amounts to “nothing more than a poorly constructed conspiracy theory.”

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