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Putting ‘health of all species’ in danger: Trump EPA proposal guts restrictions on toxic herbicide linked to birth defects

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“The pro-industry zealots now running the EPA’s pesticide office are making a mockery of science and eliminating key safety measures, all for company profits.”

Environmental and public health advocacy groups expressed alarm Friday after the Trump administration moved to increase the allowable level in U.S. waterways of a common herbicide linked to hermaphroditic amphibians and birth defects, cancer, and other harmful health effects in humans.

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At issue in the proposal posted yesterday by the EPA is the threshold level of atrazine, the second most widely used herbicide in the U.S. Manufactured by Syngenta, atrazine is primarily used in agriculture as a weedkiller on crops. It is not authorized for use in the European Union, as the body said there wasn’t enough data to prove it wouldn’t have a harmful effect on groundwater.

“Human exposure to atrazine is linked to a number of serious health effects,” according to a factsheet from Pesticide Action Network. “A potent endocrine disrupter, atrazine interferes with hormonal activity of animals and humans at extremely low doses.”

The proposed change, said Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, “will likely lead to an increase in atrazine in drinking water, particularly in the Midwest.”

As Donley’s group and Environmental Working Group (EWG) explain in a press statement, the proposal regards what the EPA calls the Concentration Equivalent Level of Concern (CELOC).

“Atrazine levels above this threshold require mitigations to bring the water body back into compliance. Below, this level, no action is required,” as Donley said in tweet.

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Trump’s EPA is proposing bumping up the level to a 60-day average concentration of 15 parts per billion (ppb) of atrazine, 50% higher than the current level of 10 ppb. In 2016 the agency proposed a level of just 3.4 ppb, but that Obama-era assessment, according to Trump’s EPA, was “fundamentally flawed” and failed to take into consideration “the relevance of the individual studies.”

Driving the push towards higher acceptable levels of atrazine, according to EWG and the Center, is the administration’s goal of appeasing Big Ag and the pesticide industry.

“To please Syngenta, the Trump EPA has rejected decades of independent research showing atrazine can’t be safely used at any level,” said Donley. “The pro-industry zealots now running the EPA’s pesticide office are making a mockery of science and eliminating key safety measures, all for company profits.”

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Olga Naidenko, EWG’s vice president for science investigations, warned of the possible impacts to children.

“Atrazine sprayed on the fields ends up in our drinking water and affects the development of the fetus,” said Naidenko. Thus, she said, the proposal should provoke “outrage” as it “will lead to more children being exposed to this toxic chemical.”

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“With Trump’s EPA reversing even the most commonsense protections,” added Donley, “our health, and the health of all species, is in serious danger.”

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AG Bill Barr will ‘try to interfere’ in the 2020 election to re-elect Trump: MSNBC national affairs analyst

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Attorney General William Barr will use the Department of Justice to "try to interfere" in the 2020 presidential election to re-elect Donald Trump, MSNBC's national affairs analyst predicted on Tuesday.

John Heilemann was interviewed by Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC's "The Last Word."

"The attorney general, from the moment he walked into this job, has behaved in a -- as a ruthless, relentless political hack and a thug and who has behaved not as attorney general of the United States," Heilemann said.

"He made a travesty of the Mueller report and continues to lie on Donald Trump's behalf at every opportunity," he added.

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Trump welcomed Russia’s Sergey Lavrov to the White House — to humiliate us all

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Despite the fact that President Donald Trump still refuses to have Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to Washington for an officials meeting — a topic at the center of the scandal driving Trump’s impeachment — the White House hosted Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday.

And while Lavrov was honored with his second private Oval Office meeting (the first one was a cataclysmic disaster) and a press conference with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the foreign minister took his opportunity here to repeatedly humiliate the United States.

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United States, Mexico, Canada finalize Donald Trump’s USMCA trade deal

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The United States, Mexico and Canada signed a deal Tuesday to finalize their new trade agreement, paving the way to ratification after more than two years of arduous negotiations.

However, the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the US Senate would likely delay Congressional ratification of the agreement until next year, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In reality, it is the second time the three countries have triumphantly announced the conclusion of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the deal meant to replace the 25-year-old NAFTA, which President Donald Trump complains has been "a disaster" for the US.

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