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USDA indefinitely suspends honey bee tracking survey as states get approval to use bee-killing pesticide

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“Yet another example of the Trump administration systematically undermining federal research on food safety, farm productivity, and the public interest writ large.”

On the heels of the EPA’s June approval of a bee-killing pesticide, the White House said it would stop collecting data on declining honey bee populations—potentially making it impossible to analyze the effects of the chemical and the administration’s other anti-science policies on the pollinators.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited budget cuts when it said Saturday that it wouldindefinitely suspend data collection for its Honey Bee Colonies report, which has been compiled every year since 2015. The report helps scientists and farmers to assess the decline of honey bees, which are responsible for pollinating one in every three bites of food taken by humans.

“We need some sort of thermometer to be able to determine, at a big scale, are we actually helping to turn around hive loses, to turn around pollinator declines. Understanding what’s going on with honey bees is incredibly important to having a sense of what’s impacting pollinators in general.”
—Mace Vaughan, Xerxes Society
The number of honey bee hives in the U.S. dropped from about six million in 1947 to just 2.4 million in 2008, with 2018 being the worst year on record for hive loss. Beekeepers reported last year that 40 percent of honey bee hives had collapsed, due to a combination of factors including the use of pesticides.

Scientists say continuously monitoring the health of honey bee hives in vital to understanding why and how they are in decline.

“The value of all these surveys is its continuous use over time so you can compare trend lines,” Dennis vanEngelsdorp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland, told CNN.

“We need some sort of thermometer to be able to determine, at a big scale, are we actually helping to turn around hive loses, to turn around pollinator declines,” Mace Vaughan of the Pollinator Conservation Program at Xerces Society told the outlet. “Understanding what’s going on with honey bees is incredibly important to having a sense of what’s impacting pollinators in general.”

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The decision to suspend the data collection came just a few weeks after the administrationapproved the so-called “emergency” use of the bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on nearly 14 million acres. The pesticide, sold under the brand names Closer and Transform, was banned in 2015 after a lawsuit by beekeepers and farmers, but the administration used a loophole in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, granting an exemption to 11 states for four to six years.

“This administration has been grossly abusing this exemption to allow the use of this one pesticide called sulfoxaflor on a vast acreage year after year,” Lori Ann Burd, environmental health director for the Center for Biological Diverity, told EcoWatch.

Friends of the Earth called the approval of the pesticide “inexcusable.”

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Brianna Westbrook, a progressive candidate for U.S. Congress in 2018, sarcastically wrote on social media that it was likely “a coincidence” that the decision to stop collecting data on bee colonies came just after the sulfoxaflor approval.

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The suspension of the Honey Bee Colonies report represents President Donald Trump’s allegiance to the powerful corporations behind dangerous pesticides, said critics, and his refusal to institute and continue programs aimed at furthering public health.

“This is yet another example of the Trump administration systematically undermining federal research on food safety, farm productivity, and the public interest writ large,” Rebecca Boehm, an economist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told CNN.

“This might seem minor,” said former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, “but it’s another example of Trump’s administration prioritizing profit over our wellbeing.”

Julia Conley, staff writer

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Impeachment managers release trial memorandum detailing why Trump must be removed from office

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House impeachment managers released an in-depth trial memorandum laying out the case for convicting President Donald Trump during his Senate impeachment trial.

The memorandum was released by representatives Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Val Demings (D-FL), Jason Crow (D-CO) and Sylvia Garcia (D-FL).

The document divides the argument by the House of Representatives into three points.

"The Senate should convict President Trump of abuse of power," is the first section.

"The Senate should convict President Trump of obstruction of Congress," is the second section.

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2020 Election

He ‘can’t understand why he is being impeached’: CNN reports Trump is asking ’why are they doing this to me?’

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President Donald Trump is reportedly "distracted" by impeachment while vacationing at Mar-a-Lago as the United States Senate trial begins.

"A source close to the White House who speaks to Donald Trump regularly said the President has appeared 'distracted' by the impeachment trial that begins on Tuesday, telling people around him Friday night at Mar-a-Lago that he 'can't understand why he is impeached,'" CNN's Jim Acosta reported Saturday. "'Why are they doing this to me,' the source quoted Trump as saying repeatedly."

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Rod Rosenstein’s legal defense in lawsuits from Strzok and Page won’t hold up under oath: legal experts

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Rod Rosenstein

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein claimed responsibility for the release of text messages between then-FBI attorney Lisa Page and then-FBI official Peter Strzok.

Emails released in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) revealed the highly unusual release by Sarah Isgur Flores, who at the time was the spokesperson for Trump's Department of Justice (she is now overseeing CNN's 2020 election coverage).

Flores instructed reporters to not cite the release of the documents to the Depart of Justice.

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