Emails show cooperation among EPA, climate-change deniers
By ELLEN KNICKMEYER
WASHINGTON (AP) — Newly released emails show senior Environmental Protection Agency officials working closely with a conservative group that dismisses climate change to rally like-minded people for public hearings on science and global warming, counter negative news coverage and promote Administrator Scott Pruitt’s stewardship of the agency.
John Konkus, EPA’s deputy associate administrator for public affairs, repeatedly reached out to senior staffers at the Heartland Institute, according to the emails.
“If you send a list, we will make sure an invitation is sent,” Konkus wrote to then-Heartland president Joseph Bast in May 2017, seeking suggestions on scientists and economists the EPA could invite to an annual EPA public hearing on the agency’s science standards.
Follow-up emails show Konkus and the Heartland Institute mustering scores of potential invitees known for rejecting scientific warnings of man-made climate-change, including from groups like Plants Need CO2, The Right Climate Stuff, and Junk Science.
The emails underscore how Pruitt and senior agency officials have sought to surround themselves with people who share their vision of curbing environmental regulation and enforcement, leading to complaints from environmentalists that he is ignoring the conclusions of the majority of scientists in and out of his agency especially when it comes to climate-changing carbon emissions.
They were obtained by the Environmental Defense Fund and the Southern Environmental Law Center, which sued to enforce a Freedom of Information request and provided them to The Associated Press.
The EPA maintains close working relationships with a broad range of public and private groups, and Heartland is just one of many the agency engages with “to ensure the public is informed,” said EPA spokesman Lincoln Ferguson.
“It demonstrates the agency’s dedication to advancing President Trump’s agenda of environmental stewardship and regulatory certainty,” he said.
The public hearing referred to in the May 2017 email ultimately was canceled when the EPA official who runs it fell ill, the EPA said.
But Bast contended in an email sent to EPA staffers and others that the official called off the hearing after learning that climate-change “skeptics planned to attend.”
The Heartland Institute calls itself a leading free-market think-tank. It rejects decades of science saying fossil-fuel emissions are altering the climate and says on its website that curbing use of petroleum and coal to fight climate change would “squander one of America’s greatest comparative advantages among the world’s nations.”
“Of course The Heartland Institute has been working with EPA on policy and personnel decisions,” Tim Huelskamp, a former Republican congressman from Kansas who now leads the group, said in a statement to the AP.
“They recognized us as the pre-eminent organization opposing the radical climate alarmism agenda and instead promoting sound science and policy,” Huelskamp wrote.
He said Heartland would continue to help Pruitt and his staff.
Ferguson said Pruitt and his top officials have also met with groups known for their campaigns against climate-changing emissions and pollutants from fossil fuels, including the Moms Clean Air Force, the American Lung Association, and others.
But Ben Levitan of the Environmental Defense Fund said mainstream climate-change groups have received nothing like the outreach and invitations that Heartland and other hard-right groups have been getting.
Certainly, “in some ways this is normal and in the course of business that ebbs and flows with the ideology of the administration in power,” said Meredith McGehee, executive director of Issue One, a non-profit promoting ethical government and bipartisan political reform.
Heartland is not registered as a lobbying group. Spokesman Jim Lakely said the group has logged its contacts with EPA and that they fall below the level required for disclosing as lobbying.
An email last February shows Bast forwarded to followers an email with the line “From the White House,” rallying activists to public hearings the EPA was then holding around the country on repealing an Obama-era power plan meant to curb fossil-fuel emissions.
The email is signed by a Pruitt political appointee and gives the name of another EPA official for activists to call. It’s not clear from the email, however, who initiated the attempt to rally conservatives for the public hearing.
Konkus was a Republican political consultant when Pruitt named him to the agency. His duties include reviewing awards of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants. The Washington Post reported in September that Konkus had been scrutinizing grant applications for mentions of climate change, which he reportedly calls “the double C-word.”
Emails show he and former EPA spokeswoman, Liz Bowman, repeatedly reached out to Heartland to talk over critical coverage by the Post.
Lakely, the Heartland spokesman, responds he’s shared the article with colleagues, “asking them to jump to your aide (sic) and defend this position.”
Konkus also contacted Heartland and other conservative groups asking for what he calls “echo” amplifying word of Pruitt’s regulation-cutting efforts, according to the emails.
And an email from Bast, shared with EPA staffers and others, shows the then-Heartland president celebrating news that a reporter, Justin Gillis, was leaving The New York Times.
“Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead. Still waiting for Chris Mooney and Juliet Eilperin at the WaPo and Seth Borenstein at AP to flame out,” Bast writes.
Spokespeople for the AP, The Washington Post and The New York Times declined comment.
Donald Trump’s grandfather wrote letter begging not to be deported. Here it is
‘This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree’
By Chloe Farand
20 August 2017
When Donald Trump’s German grandfather was ordered by a royal decree to leave the country and never return, he wrote a letter pleading the prince regent of Bavaria not to deport him.
Friedrich Trump wrote the letter in 1905 when he returned to Germany with his wife and daughter after having emigrated to the US.
German authorities had given him eight weeks to leave and denied him repatriation because he failed to complete his mandatory military service and to register his initial emigration to the US 20 years earlier.
In the letter, Mr Trump described the moment he received the news from the High Royal State Ministry he had to leave as “a lightning strike from fair skies”.
“We were paralysed with fright, our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick,” he wrote.
“Why should we be deported?” he asked, “This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree.”
The letter, translated from German into English and published in Harper’s Magazine, shows how desperate Mr Trump was to remain with his family in Bavaria.
Writing to Luitpold, prince regent of Bavaria, he begged for mercy.
He said: “In this urgent situation I have no other recourse than to turn to our adored, noble, wise, and just sovereign lord, our exalted ruler His Royal Highness, highest of all, who has already dried so many tears, who has ruled so beneficially and justly and wisely and softly and is warmly and deeply loved, with the most humble request that the highest of all will himself in mercy deign to allow the applicant to stay in the most gracious Kingdom of Bavaria.”
Mr Trump was born in the village of Kallstadt, in the Rhineland region in west Germany in 1869.
He left the country at the age of 16 with little possessions and went to the US in the hope of making fortune.
He trained to become a barber and he went on to run a restaurant, bar and allegedly even a brothel and became a wealthy man.
Despite his letter, Mr Trump was not allowed to stay in Bavaria and returned to New York, where he settled with his family.
More than a 100 years later, his grandson, Donald Trump, imposed new immigration rules that would have kept his grandfather out of the US.
The Trump administration’s hardline immigration stance has also set precedent for the First Lady Melania Trump to be deported.
Meanwhile, deportation raids in the US which are part of a crackdown by the Trump administration on all undocumented immigrants have led to a increase in arrests of immigrants who do not have criminal records.
In the latest deportation sweep, immigration officers arrested 650 people in communities across the US over a four-day span in July. Among them, 520 had no criminal records.
In June, President Trump reversed on his campaign promise to deport immigrants’ children, known as “Dreamers”, but their parents could still be sent back to their home countries.
Here is Friedrich Trump’s letter in full, translated from German by Austen Hinkley:
Most Serene, Most Powerful Prince Regent! Most Gracious Regent and Lord!
I was born in Kallstadt on March 14, 1869. My parents were honest, plain, pious vineyard workers. They strictly held me to everything good — to diligence and piety, to regular attendance in school and church, to absolute obedience toward the high authority.
After my confirmation, in 1882, I apprenticed to become a barber. I emigrated in 1885, in my sixteenth year. In America I carried on my business with diligence, discretion, and prudence. God’s blessing was with me, and I became rich. I obtained American citizenship in 1892. In 1902 I met my current wife. Sadly, she could not tolerate the climate in New York, and I went with my dear family back to Kallstadt.
The town was glad to have received a capable and productive citizen. My old mother was happy to see her son, her dear daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter around her; she knows now that I will take care of her in her old age.
But we were confronted all at once, as if by a lightning strike from fair skies, with the news that the High Royal State Ministry had decided that we must leave our residence in the Kingdom of Bavaria. We were paralyzed with fright; our happy family life was tarnished. My wife has been overcome by anxiety, and my lovely child has become sick.
Why should we be deported? This is very, very hard for a family. What will our fellow citizens think if honest subjects are faced with such a decree — not to mention the great material losses it would incur. I would like to become a Bavarian citizen again.
In this urgent situation I have no other recourse than to turn to our adored, noble, wise, and just sovereign lord, our exalted ruler His Royal Highness, highest of all, who has already dried so many tears, who has ruled so beneficially and justly and wisely and softly and is warmly and deeply loved, with the most humble request that the highest of all will himself in mercy deign to allow the applicant to stay in the most gracious Kingdom of Bavaria.
Your most humble and obedient,
Teacher who stopped attack says he had to save students
By KEN KUSMER, Associated Press
NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (AP) — A suburban Indianapolis teacher who was shot while tackling and disarming a student inside his classroom said Monday that his swift decisions “were the only acceptable actions” to save his seventh-grade students.
Jason Seaman, speaking publicly for the first time since the shooting Friday, thanked the Noblesville community for its support and stressed that he wanted the focus to be on the other person shot during the incident: 13-year-old student Ella Whistler, who was seriously wounded.
“Her courage and strength at such a young age is nothing short of remarkable,” Seaman said during a news conference at the school district’s administrative building. “We all should continue to keep her in our minds as she continues to recover.”
School officials said Monday that Ella was improving and making progress while recovering at an Indianapolis hospital. Her family has said she was in critical but stable condition following the shooting, though no other details about her injuries have been released.
Seaman is credited with stopping an armed student who entered his classroom at Noblesville West Middle School. Witnesses said the 29-year-old former college football player ran toward bullets as he tackled the student. Seaman was shot three times, according to his brother.
“I want to make it clear that my actions on that day, in my mind, were the only acceptable actions I could have done given the circumstances,” Seaman said Monday. “I deeply care for my students and their well-being. That is why I did what I did that day.”
Jason Seaman, a seventh grade science teacher at Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Ind., speaks to the media during a press conference Monday, May 28, 2018. Seaman tackled and disarmed a student with a gun at the school on Friday. He was shot but not seriously injured. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy) © The Associated Press Jason Seaman, a seventh grade science teacher at Noblesville West Middle School in Noblesville, Ind., speaks to the media during a press conference Monday, May 28, 2018. Seaman tackled and disarmed a student with a gun at the school on Friday… Seaman, who was released from the hospital Saturday, didn’t appear to show any pain or other sign of his injuries during the news conference. He spoke for just a few minutes and declined to answer questions from reporters.
He wore a white T-shirt emblazoned with the message: “#NOBStrong. You are the reason I teach.” His shirt also showed the wounded student’s initials, EW.
Police have said the shooter was quickly arrested following the shooting and didn’t appear to be injured. His name hasn’t been released.
“We’re so grateful for Jason’s quick and brave actions,” Noblesville Schools Superintendent Beth Niedermeyer said during the news conference. “He put his own life in danger for his students. That alone tells you about his character and his big heart.”
A school nurse and a school resource officer immediately provided medial attention to the injured, said Noblesville West Middle School Principal Stacey Shaw.
“Jason Seaman is a hero, no doubt. But he is only one of the heroes I saw on this day,” Shaw said.
An online fundraiser started by a local high school student for Seaman totaled more than $72,000 by midday Monday, surpassing the original goal of $55,000. Donations ranged from $10 to more than $3,000.
“We endured a horrific and senseless tragedy,” Niedermeyer said, adding that support coming in from across the country has been a “source of strength and beauty during this ugly tragedy.”
The school district will provide counseling throughout the summer and into next school year, Niedermeyer said. The middle school was scheduled to remain closed Tuesday to provide counseling for students, staff and their families.
The Noblesville Police Department said it will have officers at every Noblesville school this week “to offer some reassurance that we are doing as much as we can to put them at ease as they finish the school year.”
Associated Press reporter Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report.
THE NRA WORKS TO DELIBERATELY PROMOTE GUN VIOLENCE. FOR PROFIT.
For them, it’s just good business.
1. They’ve done everything in their power to block background checks – which makes guns them far more accessible to criminals, psychos and terrorists.
So a terrorist can enter the country – legally or not – and immediately and legally buy guns at a gun show, from anyone other than a gun dealer!
2. They’ve deliberately hobbled the ATF, the federal agency that investigates and tries to prevent gun crimes, in many ways.
They’ve blocked funding that would allow the ATF to do its job. They’ve blocked the creation of a centralized database of gun sales, which would help prevent gun traffickers from selling guns to criminals. And they’ve blocked requiring gun dealers from having to keep inventories of their stock, so they can get away with selling guns “off the books.”
They’ve even blocked the ATF from appointing a Director!
And they’ve blocked the functions of the ATF from being transferred to any other agencies – because they want a single, weak agency to obstruct!
3. They blocked ratification of the international Arms Trade Treaty, which would have helped stem the flow of guns all over the world.
Including Latin America, where the drug cartels have used them to kill 60,000 people in just Mexico alone – in just the past 5 years alone!
And to actually overpower governments throughout Central America – causing the virtual collapse of those societies!
And THAT allows drugs to keep flowing north into the U.S.!
And these armed cartels also fuel the exodus of refugees from these countries – many of them unaccompanied children! – into the U.S. as illegal aliens! Whom our border patrol promptly arrest!
And these guns have fueled BOTH SIDES of a 55-year-long civil war in Colombia – where they’ve killed over 220,000 people!
4. The NRA has even continually BLOCKED STUDIES ON HOW TO CURTAIL GUN VIOLENCE!
5. And they’ve blocked bans on de-facto machine guns (‘bump stocks’), ultra-high-capacity ammunition magazines (up to 100 rounds!), silencers, armor-piercing ‘cop killer’ bullets, and expanding hollow-point bullets (‘dum- dums’)!
They’ve even tried to legalize ACTUAL machine guns!
“THE NRA — ‘CAUSE WE’RE WORTH MORE TO THEM DEAD THAN ALIVE!”
Trump admin gets lowest-ever ethics ratings in Gallup poll
Thirty-seven percent of Americans rate the Trump administration as having good or excellent ethical standards, according to a Gallup poll released Thursday, the lowest rating given to a White House since the poll started asking the question during the Reagan administration.
Fifty-nine percent of Americans said in the poll that Trump administration officials’ ethics are poor or not good
The majority of Americans have largely given past administrations positive ethics ratings.
The previous low was during the Clinton administration, when only 43 percent of Americans said White House officials’ ethics were excellent or good.
Gallup noted that the rating was given in January 1994, amid the Whitewater real estate scandal. That rating rose to 57 percent just a few months later.
Fifty percent of Americans gave the ethical standards of former President Obama’s administration an excellent or good rating during the June of 2013.
Top Trump administration officials have seen intense scrutiny over their ethics over the past year.
Environmental Protection Agency Administration Scott Pruitt is facing a series of investigations after it was revealed that he rented a condo co-owned by the wife of a then-lobbyist for $50 a night and used taxpayer-funded security details on trips to the Rosebowl and Disneyland.
He also used taxpayer dollars to purchase first-class tickets on flights, citing security threats, but Democratic lawmakers cast doubt on the severity of those threats.
Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin was fired earlier this year after a VA inspector general report found that he misused government resources by accepting Wimbledon tickets and used taxpayer dollars to pay for his wife’s airfare when he took an official trip to Europe last year.
And former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price resigned last year after facing intense criticism for taking private jets for official business.
Other Cabinet-level officials including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have also been sharply criticized for their taxpayer-funded travel expenses.
President Trump himself is at the center of multiple controversies, including lawsuits from an adult film star and a former Playboy playmate over allegations of affairs and legal challenges to the profits he collects from Trump properties while also serving as commander in chief.
Gallup conducted phone interviews with 1,024 Americans from May 1 – 10 and has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.
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