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Trumpuppet 0725wrp(Photo: cool revolution / Flickr)


It was quite a shock to see the President of the United States bend the knee to Vladimir Putin and act as obsequiously as a Little Leaguer standing next to Aaron Judge. Of course, when Donald Trump spoke while Vladimir Putin drank a glass of water, we all applauded.

In their joint press conference in Helsinki, Finland, Donald Trump made Neville Chamberlain look like a historical badass. He's given slobbering lapdogs a bad name. Probably compelled Ronald Reagan to spin in his grave so fast you could light up the entire Eastern Seaboard.

Both conservatives and liberals expressed outrage and confusion to see Trump suck up to Vlad the Impaler so hard, many were surprised the Russian President didn't sport hickeys the size of small manhole covers. Not saying Trump's behavior was a bit smoochy but Melania has to be hoping he wore a condom.

And that was in public.


rechargingstationTesla electric car recharging station. (Mike Mozart)

In a July 18 article entitled "Electric vehicles are gaining momentum, despite Trump," Vox makes the case that fossil-fuel supporters in the Trump administration can slow the growth of electric cars down, but the market for them is growing anyway. This is due to the cost advantage over the lifetime of a car of electricity over gas. The cars themselves are also increasingly attractive to consumers as innovations in battery storage are extending the range of the vehicles. In addition, car manufacturers are offering a growing number of electric vehicles to choose from.

Vox declares that the future is bright for electric vehicles:

Though only about 1 percent of US vehicles are electric today, and many consumers have not researched or even heard of EVs, some forecasts have them as high as 65 percent of new US vehicle sales in 2050. We are on the front end of a steeply rising S-curve, a rate of change not seen in the US transportation sector for decades. The temporary triumphs of the luddites in power should not obscure the fact that the work of making those forecasts real is beginning in earnest....

Despite the flailing of the Trump administration and backward-looking fossil-fuel supporters, momentum around electrification is reaching critical mass. EVs are about to ride up the S-curve into exponential growth. It is difficult to predict exactly when, but it is inevitable. All these infrastructure investments, the rear-guard battles against Trump and Koch, and most of all the increasingly detailed sharing of knowledge and replicable best practices — all of it is like a winding spring that is going to shoot the EV market into rapid motion over the next few years.

Not that the Trump administration has abandoned its efforts to slow down sales of electric cars.


35120207733 16b5ca76ed z Joe Brusky /Flickr

Healthcare will be a lot less expensive for everyone—the government, consumers, providers.  — President Donald Trump

The above statement by Donald Trump could not be more uninformed, misguided, and blatantly false. Just one more example of his more than 3,000 documented lies as president. Unfortunately, however, much of conservative thought among policy leaders and economists still holds that deregulation, theoretically allowing unfettered markets to work their magic, will control costs through competition. That may be true in some parts of the economy, but has never been true in health care. This post has three goals: (1) to show how deregulation is being implemented under TrumpCare; (2) to describe how deregulation increases costs and prices as competition fails to work in health care; and (3) to summarize some takeaway lessons we should learn from our long experience with the failures of deregulation as a cost containment policy.

A continuing mantra during Trump's presidential campaign and his first 18 months in office has been to claim that deregulation of health, safety, labor, financial, and environmental sectors will somehow get us on a better track in this country. He issued an executive order just ten days after his inauguration that government agencies should kill two rules for every one they propose. His Cabinet has been carefully selected to loyally pursue the "deconstruction of the administrative state," as urged on by Steve Bannon, Trump's former policy guru. This policy has also been strongly supported by the Freedom Caucus, many trade organizations, and corporate lobbyists. Subsequent administrative actions by the Trump administration's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have dropped advertising for and shortened the ACA enrollment period, scaled back maintenance of its website, and spread disinformation that discourages enrollees of the ACA's marketplace. Other actions by HHS include encouraging selling insurance across state lines, marketing short-term plans lasting just less than a year (thereby skirting the ACA's requirements to cover pre-existing conditions and ten essential benefits), proposing expansion of association health plans with lax requirements, shifting control of health care back to the states, and promoting increasing privatization of public programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.


42730197674 1bd3e6e1a4 zFollowing Trump's visit to the UK two weeks ago, the streets of London witnessed the biggest protest in over a decade as thousands marched on Trafalgar Square. Alisdare Hickson /Flickr

"If they would just confirm to us that my brother is alive, if they would just let us see him, that's all we want. But we can't get anyone to give us any confirmation. My mother dies a hundred times every day. They don't know what that is like." 

In July of 2018, an Amnesty International report entitled "God Knows If He's Alive," documented the plight of dozens of families in southern Yemen whose loved ones have been tortured, killed, or forcibly disappeared by Yemeni security forces reporting to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition that, with vital US support, has been bombarding and blockading famine and disease-ravaged Yemen for three brutal years. The disappearances, and torture, can sadly be laid at the doorstep of the United States. One testimonial after another echoes the sentiments of a woman whose husband has been held incommunicado for more than two years. "Shouldn't they be given a trial?" she asked. "Why else are there courts? They shouldn't be disappeared this way – not only are we unable to visit them, we don't even know if they are dead or alive." 

The report describes bureaucratic farces in which families beg for information about their loved ones' whereabouts from Yemeni prosecutors and prison officials, but the families' pleas for information are routinely met with silence or intimidation.  The families are appealing to an unelected Yemeni exile government whose president, Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, (when "elected" president in 2012, he was the only candidate) generally resides in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The UAE has, so far, supported Hadi's claim to govern Yemen. However, the Prosecutor General of Hadi's government, as well as other officials, told Amnesty International the government of Yemen has no control over operations "spearheaded by the UAE and implemented by the Yemeni forces it backs." 

 Typhoon 0723wrpTyphoon Soudelor Seen from the ISS. (Photo: NASA / Flickr)


From flash floods in Vietnam to a blistering heat wave in Japan, countries across Asia are suffering from extreme weather, CNN reported Sunday.

The events come nearly two months into the continent's annual rainy season that extends from June to November, according to The Straits Times.

A 2016 study showed that typhoons in Asia had gotten 50 percent more intense in the last 40 years due to increased ocean temperatures and were likely to get even more intense due to climate change, The Guardian reported.

WP 0723wrp(Photo: Patrick Feller / Flickr)


Hoping to take advantage of the Trump/Putin love connection, the League of the South (LoS) "is launching a Russian-language section of its website designed to attract people interested in 'Southern nationalism,'" al.com's Leada Gore recently reported. The aim of the webpage is to push the idea that the Russian people and white Southerners are "natural allies," while at the same time, raising the League of the South's profile.

"As fellow Whites of northern European extraction, we come from the same general gene pool. As inheritors of the European cultural tradition, we share similar values, customs, and ways of life. And as Christians, we worship the same Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and our common faith binds us as brothers and sisters," League president Michael Hill wrote in a letter posted at the group's website.

"A firm and resolute understanding and commitment to cooperation between the Russian people and the people of the South could indeed be the foundation for a better world in which our peoples thrive and prosper far into the future," he added.


EPA32A rare report under the Trump administration promoting clean drinking water. (Photo: TexasGOPVote.com)

Despite Trump's damaging policies on health, the environment and pollution, an occasional truth still manages to work its way through the reactionary policies of his departments. Such is the case with the EPA Inspector General's report that was released on Thursday. It finalizes an analysis of what lessons can be learned from the catastrophic handling of the lead contamination water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

According to a June 20 Washington Post article:

The Environmental Protection Agency must strengthen its oversight of state drinking water programs to avoid a repeat of what happened in Flint, Mich., an agency watchdog said in a report Thursday. Sluggish federal reaction meant residents were exposed to lead-tainted water for far too long.

“While oversight authority is vital, its absence can contribute to a catastrophic situation,” EPA Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins Jr. said in releasing the findings, which stated that “while Flint residents were being exposed to lead in drinking water, the federal response was delayed, in part, because the EPA did not establish clear roles and responsibilities, risk assessment procedures, effective communication and proactive oversight tools.”

The report goes further and states nine recommendations of how the EPA can more aggressively monitor and enforce state and municipal drinking water standards. It also acknowledges EPA's role in the mishandling of the crisis and provides guidelines for handling future public health water emergencies such as that which occurred -- and is still ongoing -- in Flint. It does not, however, address the role of racism and the neglect of financially failing cities such as Flint in allowing the crisis to rise to such a disastrous level.


Denver 0720wrpThe Denver, Colorado skyline. (Photo: Larry Goodwin / Flickr)


Denver became the 73rd city in the U.S. to commit to 100 percent renewable energy when Mayor Michael Hancock announced the goal in his State of the City speech Monday, The Denver Post reported.

The commitment is part of the city's larger 80×50 Climate Action Plan unveiled by Hancock Tuesday, which seeks to reduce Denver's greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent from 2005 levels by the year 2050.

"Climate change threatens our people directly, putting our health, environment and economy—our very way of life—at risk," Hancock said, as reported by The Denver Post.

 Zinke 0719wrpInterior Sec. Ryan Zinke. (Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)


Ousted U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt isn't the only polluter-friendly Trump appointee with sketchy ethics.

The Department of Interior's (DOI) inspector general wrote to Congressional Democrats Wednesday saying the office had opened an investigation into a real estate deal involving Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke and Halliburton Chair David Lesar, POLITICO reported.

"You expressed special concern about the reported funding by a top executive at Halliburton and assuring decisions that affect the nation's welfare are not compromised by individual self enrichment," Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall wrote to Democratic Representative Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and other Democrats, POLITICO reported. "My office opened an investigation into this matter on July 16."

 Hat 0719wrpCowboy hat. (Photo: Rachel Knickmeyer / Flickr)


What's in a name? By definition, the name of a person, place or thing is its personal designation... a distinct way of being known to others. Unless, of course, it's the opposite — a label meant to disguise who or what a person or thing really is. In other words, a fake name.

Hiding one's true identity can be done for many legitimate purposes, but it tends to be widely-used these days by scheming people or nefarious interests with... well, with something to hide, using a dishonest, Orwellian representation of themselves for villainous reasons. Two of the most notorious practitioners are common crooks and corporate front groups, which often are one and the same. For example, Restaurant Workers of America is not made up of waiters and cooks. It's a front-group of chain-store owners who oppose raising the sub-minimum wage of their actual workers. Cloaking themselves as independent citizen advocates and adopting such patriotic-sounding names as Americans for Prosperity, these astroturf outfits run massive campaigns of deceit promoting policies and views that benefit the corporate sponsors at the expense of the public interest.

So, what should we make of a brand-spankin' new group with the incredible moniker of Cowboys for Liberty? What a positive name! Cowboys are seen as down-to-earth straight-shooters, and America is all about liberty. But wait, is this one of those Koch-funded, far-right-wing bands of angry, anti-government ranchers? Au contraire, as the old cowhands say. In fact, Cowboys for Liberty is an audacious, fun-loving network of hell-raising, climate-change activists who are out to expose, shame and defeat the corporate-serving profiteers behind the unconscionable climate-denier industry, instigated by Jim Marston of the Environmental Defense Fund.

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