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Koch brothers and Saudi oil execs lobbied Trump to remove chemical plant safety rules

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New documents reveal that the Houston chemical plant, whose post-Harvey burning could have been prevented, was successfully lobbied by American and foreign interests to remove regulations.

In an International Business Times investigation, reporters found that along with the plant itself, an oil company from Saudi Arabia joined forces with Koch Industries and ExxonMobil to lobby against chemical industry regulations.

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The Arkema plant and its allies in the chemical industry, Congress and the foreign oil industry opposed safety regulations that would have “[simplified] covered processes in order to make accidental releases less likely or the impacts of such releases less severe” if they’d been implemented.

On Thursday, shortly after safety experts warned about imminent explosions caused by the plant’s cooling system being flooded, two explosions occurred at Arkema. FEMA officials said the fumes from the explosion are “incredibly deadly.”

The explosion resulted in the hospitalization of 15 sheriff’s deputies who inhaled fumes from the resultant fire, the New York Daily News reports.

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Bill Barr and Trump desperately want to blame Antifa for violence — but they’re coming up dry so far

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President Donald Trump has turned his wrath on Antifa during the George Floyd protests, demanding Antifa be labeled a terrorist organization and accusing the movement of committing acts of violence at demonstrations. But journalists William Bredderman and Spencer Ackerman, in the Daily Beast, threw cold this week on efforts to blame the leftist group.

They found that “none of the 22 criminal complaints representing the first wave of protest charges mention Antifa in any way.”

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2020 Election

Fox News poll spells doom for GOP in Arizona

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The GOP's chances in Arizona have not looked this bad in years.

This article first appeared in Salon.

A new Fox News poll of registered voters in the Grand Canyon State shows Democrat Mark Kelly miles ahead of Republican Sen. Martha McSally — 50% to 37% — with 8% undecided.

Further, McSally's problems appear to come from within her own party. While Kelly enjoys the support of nearly 90% of Democrats, only 73% of Arizona Republicans back McSally.

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Trump may come to regret his big celebration of a small dip in unemployment

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Though the unemployment rate remains in the double-digits, the official unemployment numbers are slightly lower than economists expected, prompting self-congratulations by President Donald Trump.

This article first appeared in Salon.

But experts say celebration is premature.

Indeed, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate fell from 14.7 percent in April to 13.3 percent in May as the economy added 2.5 million jobs. The high April number was the worst that the American workforce had seen since monthly record-keeping began in 1948, and almost certainly the worst since the Great Depression. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett predicted last month that unemployment would rise above 20 percent, a view that was widely shared by economists.

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