Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
This week, a former White House official told Politico that “Trump’s been asking his government for some matter of months what can we do to make sure that China doesn’t get Greenland.”
While we were all laughing at or befuddled by Trump’s bizarre obsession with the idea of buying Greenland, NASA scientists were on the ground studying a phenomenon that’s deadly serious.
According to CNN, “Greenland lost 12.5 billion tons of ice to melting on August 2, the largest single-day loss in recorded history and another stark reminder of the climate crisis.”
NASA oceanographer Josh Willis and his team are investigating how the ice is being attacked not only by rising air temperatures but also by the warming ocean, which is eating it away from underneath.
“There is enough ice in Greenland to raise the sea levels by 7.5 meters, that’s about 25 feet, an enormous volume of ice, and that would be devastating to coastlines all around the planet,” said Willis. “We should be retreating already from the coastline if we are looking at many meters [lost] in the next century or two.”
[NASA] probes also brought back troubling data — Helheim was surrounded by warm water along its entire depth, more than 2,000 feet below the surface.
“It’s very rare anywhere on the planet to see 700 meters of no temperature variation, normally we find colder waters in the upper hundred meters or so, but right in front of the glacier it’s warm all the way up,” said Ian Fenty, climate scientist at NASA. “These warm waters now are able to be in direct contact with the ice over its entire face, supercharging the melting.”
Today, Donald Trump is
embarrassing representing the U.S. at the G7 meeting in France. According to The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey, Trump and his entourage are “expressing frustration that much of G7 is about climate change, Africa development, gender inequality and other issues they see as ‘niche,’ in words of one senior admin official.”
The world is on fire—literally so in the Amazon—and staving off climatic catastrophe will require coordinated international efforts. With one-quarter of the planet’s GDP and outsized influence within the international community, the U.S. is not just a minor player. If Trump were an erratic goofball running Dominica or Liechtenstein, his antics would be comical. As it stands, there’s nothing funny about the U.S. descending into idiocracy.
Buzzfeed News reported that the person tasked with trying to clean up the mess Trump made with his tantrum toward Denmark is a former B movie actress and chiropractor who became wealthy by marrying a homely rich guy and showered Trump’s 2016 campaign with cash. On her personal Twitter account, she promotes wingnut conspiracy theories, according to the report.
Only the best people.
Speaking of which…
TRUMP’S NEW @PRESSSEC: @StephGrisham45’s history might have scared off other administrations. She lost one job after being accused of cheating on expense reports & one over plagiarism charges. She has 2 DUI arrests, including 1 during the Trump campaign. https://t.co/WhAOmhjtla
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) August 22, 2019
That “the world’s only superpower” has lost any last shred of credibility manifests itself in thousands of problems around the world that fly entirely under the radar.
One small example, per The Navy Times: “The former head of Dutch defense forces said he believes the Netherlands should not take part in a U.S.-led mission to protect shipping in the strategic Strait of Hormuz if the aim of the operation is to pile more pressure on Iran… ‘I don’t think we should take part in an American operation in which we absolutely do not know what is going to happen,’ he said.”
We are fortunate that this regime lack competence.
“The White House, blindsided by a pact between California and four automakers to oppose President Trump’s auto emissions rollbacks, has mounted an effort to prevent any more companies from joining California,” according to The New York Times.
But even as the White House was meeting with automakers, it was losing ground. Yet another company, Mercedes-Benz, is preparing to join the four automakers already in the California agreement — Honda, Ford, Volkswagen and BMW
In a nutshell, the geniuses in the White House didn’t consider the fact that auto-makers aren’t going to build polluting cars that they can only sell in red states. California is setting the industry’s standards.
CNBC reports that “the U.S. won’t be vaccinating migrant families in holding centers ahead of this year’s flu season, despite calls from doctors to boost efforts to fight the infection that’s killed at least three children at detention facilities in the past year.”
US Steel announced this week that it will lay off hundreds of workers at one of its plants in Michigan.
Trump’s tariffs on imported steel led to a short-term boost for the industry but his trade war, as well as other problems in the global economy, have slowed demand for the things that American companies use that steel to produce.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) “ obtained damning records of the influence of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago acquaintances within the Department of Veterans Affairs.” The story was first reported last year but CREW got much more on it this week.
The more than 300 pages of emails, obtained by Freedom of Information Act request, show the outsized influence of Ike Perlmutter, Marc Sherman and Bruce Moskowitz. None of the men have ever worked for the government, nor do they have any specific expertise on the policies they were allowed to shape at one of the largest agencies in the U.S. government. Their main qualification for the unprecedented arrangement was that they were the president’s paying customers as members of Mar-a-Lago, which he continues to own and profit from in office.
Despite misgivings, career VA employees were obligated to waste taxpayer time and resources to respond to the trio of Mar-a-Lago members—purely because of their connections to Trump.
“Some top aides to President Donald Trump sought for months for a way to give states the power to block undocumented immigrant children from enrolling in public schools,” according to Bloomberg.
Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller had been a driving force behind the effort as early as 2017, pressing cabinet officials and members of the White House Domestic Policy Council repeatedly to devise a way to limit enrollment, according to several people familiar with the matter. The push was part of a menu of ideas on immigration that could be carried out without congressional approval.
In Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court struck down state and municipal efforts to deprive kids access to K-12 education based on immigration status. But who knows how the trump Court would rule now.
Trump can’t be bought.
So the Pentagon gave special insider access to Silicon Valley bigshots like Eric Schmidt.
An ethics officer objected.
The result? Schmidt blew up and the ethics officer was *pushed out of her job.*https://t.co/NTCP2AwvHb
— Eric Umansky (@ericuman) August 22, 2019
Before a Pentagon ethics officer lost her job for Qing Eric Schmidt and Silicon Valley’s insider access to the DoD, she was warned to never speak to Schmidt.
— Eric Umansky (@ericuman) August 22, 2019
You probably caught the story of the Department of Justice sending around a link to a post full of anti-Semitic claptrap from a notoriously vicious white supremacist website.
Buzzfeed reports that it wasn’t a one-off occurrence. Both DoJ and the Department of Labor “have shared stories from VDare, a white nationalist publication, with federal employees on multiple occasions over the last two years.”
“An unnamed tipster gave a House panel “credible allegations” about potential attempts to influence the Internal Revenue Service’s audit of the president’s tax returns,” according to TPM.
Meanwhile, “Trump has filed financial disclosure statements that appear to misstate the value and profitability of his Scotland golf courses by $165 million, possibly violating federal laws that are punishable by jail time,” reported The Huffington Post.
Trump claimed in his 2018 U.S. filing that his Turnberry and Aberdeen resorts were each worth more than $50 million. For that same time period, he filed balance sheets with the United Kingdom government showing that their combined debt exceeded their assets by 47.9 million British pounds ― the equivalent of $64.8 million at the exchange rate on Dec. 31, 2017, the date of the last U.K. filing available.
In addition to possibly violating U.S. law, it seems like maybe he cheated a wee bit on his British taxes?
Steve Menashi is another very young wingnut whom Trump has nominated to the federal bench. CNN has the scoop on this guy. “Judicial temperament” aren’t words one would associate with such a character.
AG Barr has promoted six judges to the immigration appeals court.
All of them have much higher than average rates of denying asylum — including one who denied more than 98% of cases.
— Tal Kopan (@TalKopan) August 23, 2019
“The Trump administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court on Friday arguing that employers should be allowed to discriminate against, or even fire, their lesbian, gay and bisexual employees simply due to their sexual orientation.” More at Newsweek.
The office of “an African American woman who was recently designated as a ‘diversity change agent’ within the Education Department to provide diversity and inclusion training to department staffers” was trashed this week in what appears to be an act of racially-motivated vandalism, according to NBC.
We try to leave you with some good news but this week we’re stumped. If you drink, consider going out for a cocktail. It’s five o’clock somewhere.