Trump Slashes Endangered Species Act!

H2 endangered species act threatened protections climate change mining drilling trump extinction plan

The Trump administration finalized changes rolling back the Endangered Species Act Monday. Regulators will now be allowed to factor in economic considerations when granting “endangered” status, species classified as “threatened” will see their protections weakened, and scientists will be limited in setting climate change-related protections. Critics say the changes were made to clear the way for mining, drilling and development projects in areas populated by protected species. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is a former lobbyist for the oil and agribusiness industries. He is currently under investigation for possible ethics violations. The 46-year-old landmark Endangered Species Act has saved over 99% of classified animals, plants and insects since its inception. It’s credited with protecting the grizzly bear, the humpback whale and the bald eagle from extinction, among many others.

Environmental groups, Democratic lawmakers and attorneys general have vowed to fight the changes. The Sierra Club called the move the “Trump Extinction Plan.” The International Fund for Animal Welfare said in a statement, “The most comprehensive assessment of biodiversity ever completed was released earlier this year and shows that more than one million species are at risk of extinction. These species are inextricably linked to our own well-being, livelihoods, economies, food security, and overall survival. Gutting key protections of the Endangered Species Act is precisely the wrong action for the U.S. to be taking.”

Walmart under fire for pro-gun T-shirts

In wake of two shootings, T-shirts sold by third-party vendors on Walmart website ignite social media storm.Following a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas and a shooting at a Walmart in Southaven, Mississippi, the largest retailer in the United States is facing criticism for allowing the sale of pro-gun tee-shirts on its website [File: Luke E. Montavon/Bloomberg]

Following a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas and a shooting at a Walmart in Southaven, Mississippi, the largest retailer in the United States is facing criticism for allowing the sale of pro-gun tee-shirts on its website [File: Luke E. Montavon/Bloomberg]

Walmart Inc., already facing pressure for being a major vendor of guns and ammunition in the U.S. after a pair of shootings inside its stores, is feeling renewed heat on social media over a selection of pro-gun T-shirts for sale on its website from third-party vendors.

One shirt, for sale by a vendor called Tee’s Plus, suggests buyers can either be gun owners or victims. Another, offered by third-party seller Old Glory, is emblazoned with a crosshairs reading “gun control is being able to hit your target.”

Commenters on social media were divided on the gun owner shirt. Some called it “disgusting” and “horrifying,” while others argued that “most people in the country completely agree with the sentiment of this shirt.”

As news outlets began to report on the shirts, some of the original listings were no longer available.

Two people died in a shooting at a Walmart in Mississippi on July 30. More than 40 were shot in an unrelated attack Aug. 3 at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas. An additional shooting may have been thwarted Thursday when a gunman wearing body armor was stopped by an armed private citizen outside a Walmart in Springfield, Missouri.

A spokesman for Walmart did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The t-shirts weren’t being sold by Walmart itself, but by outside sellers who can sign up to advertise products on Walmart’s website.

As one of the country’s biggest firearms retailers, Walmart is a frequent target of anti-violence activists. In 2015, the company stopped selling military-style weapons, citing sluggish demand. Last year the company said it would increase the age to purchase firearms and ammunition to 21 years old.

It’s not the first time Walmart has gotten into hot water for controversial t-shirts for sale on its website. The retailer felt heat in 2017 after a third-party seller offered t-shirts that suggested killing journalists. The t-shirts read: “Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required.” Last year, its website offered t-shirts from third-party sellers with “IMPEACH 45” emblazoned across the front in big capital letters — a call to bring down the 45th U.S. president, Donald Trump.

–With assistance from Leslie Patton and Joe Deaux.

Trump official revises Statue of Liberty poem to defend migrant rule change

Statue of Liberty

A top US immigration official has revised a quote inscribed on the Statue of Liberty in defence of a new policy that denies food aid to legal migrants.

The head of Citizenship and Immigration Services tweaked the passage: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”.

The official added the words “who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge”.

It comes as Trump officials debuted a regulation that denies aid to migrants.

Ken Cuccinelli, the Trump administration’s acting head of Citizenship and Immigration Services, announced on Monday a new “public charge” requirement that limits legal migrants from seeking certain public benefits such as public housing or food aid, or are considered likely to do so in the future.

The New Colossus plaque and Emma LazarusThe New Colossus was written by New York-born poet Emma Lazarus in 1883

The new regulation, known as a “public charge rule”, was published in the Federal Register on Monday and will take effect on 15 October.

The rule change is intended to reinforce “ideals of self-sufficiency”, officials said. Critics argue that it will prevent low-income US residents from seeking help.

What did the official say?

On Tuesday, Mr Cuccinelli was asked by NPR whether the 1883 poem titled The New Colossus at the Statue of Liberty on New York’s Ellis Island still applied.

“Would you also agree that Emma Lazarus’s words etched on the Statue of Liberty, ‘Give me your tired, give me your poor,’ are also a part of the American ethos?” asked NPR’s Rachel Martin.

Ken CuccinellKen Cuccinelli, the acting head of US Citizenship and Immigration Services

“They certainly are,” Mr Cuccinelli responded. “Give me your tired and your poor – who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.”

“That plaque was put on the Statue of Liberty at almost the same time as the first public charge [law] was passed – very interesting timing,” he added.

The actual passage reads in part: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

In the interview, he added that immigrants are welcome “who can stand on their own two feet, be self-sufficient, pull themselves up by their bootstraps, again, as in the American tradition”.

Top immigration official says public charge rule will not target “any particular group”

After the host asked if the policy “appears to change the definition of the American dream,” he said: “We invite people to come here and join us as a privilege.

“No one has a right to become an American who isn’t born here as an American.”

Who will be affected by the new rule?

Immigrants who are already permanent residents in the US are unlikely to be affected by the rule change.

It also does not apply to refugees and asylum applicants.

But applicants for visa extensions, green cards or US citizenship will be subject to the change.

Those who do not meet income standards or who are deemed likely to rely on benefits such as Medicaid (government-run healthcare) or housing vouchers in future may be blocked from entering the country.

Foreign-born population by legal status

Those already in the US could also have their applications rejected.

An estimated 22 million legal residents in the US are without citizenship, and many of these are likely to be affected.

President Trump has made immigration a central theme of his administration. This latest move is part of his government’s efforts to curb legal immigration.

What has reaction been?

The Democratic led House Homeland Security Committee condemned Mr Cuccinelli’s revision in a tweet, calling the words “vile and un-American”.

“It’s clear the Trump Administration just wants to keep certain people out,” the committee wrote, calling Mr Cuccinelli “a xenophobic, anti-immigrant fringe figure who has no business being in government”.

Others pointed to his background as the attorney general of Virginia, in which he led a conservative campaign against immigration and homosexuality.

Asked about Mr Cuccinelli’s remarks on Tuesday, President Trump did not directly respond to the Statue of Liberty quote, but said: “I don’t think it’s fair to have the American taxpayer pay for people to come into the United States.”

“I’m tired of seeing our taxpayer paying for people to come into the country and immediately go onto welfare and various other things.

“So I think we’re doing it right.”

President and First Lady Pose with Infant Orphaned in El Paso Massacre

H2 trump melania hospital el paso orphan massacre smiling thumbs up photo pose jordan andre anchondo

New details have emerged about Wednesday’s visit to El Paso by the president and first lady Melania Trump. Reporters were barred from following the Trumps as they toured the University Medical Center of El Paso, where victims of Saturday’s mass shooting were treated. None of the eight survivors who were still receiving treatment agreed to meet with the president. But a cellphone video given to local station KDBCshows the president smiling and laughing with medical workers as he boasts about the size of a crowd at a Trump campaign rally in El Paso in February, while disparaging a competing campaign rally held by Beto O’Rourke.

President Donald Trump: “That was some — that was some crowd. And we had twice the number outside. And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people, in a parking lot.”

CNN reports a hospital official said President Trump showed an “absence of empathy” during the visit. On Thursday, Melania Trump’s Twitter account published a photo from the trip showing the first lady holding a 2-month-old infant who was orphaned when both her parents were gunned down Saturday. In the photo, President Trump stands next to his wife, flashing a “thumbs up” sign. Both the president and first lady are grinning widely. Relatives brought the child back to the hospital for the Trumps’ visit. The child’s parents, Jordan and Andre Anchondo, died as they shielded their baby from the alleged white nationalist shooter whose online manifesto — published moments before the assault — echoed President Trump’s rhetoric about an “invasion” of immigrants. The baby was grazed by a bullet and was treated for broken fingers.

Jeffrey Epstein: How conspiracy theories spread after financier’s death

 


US financier Jeffrey EpsteinImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionJeffrey Epstein, pictured here in 2004, was found dead in his jail cell on Saturday aged 66

Just hours after the high-profile financier Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Saturday, unsubstantiated theories about his death began to gain traction online.

Epstein, who was set to stand trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges, killed himself in his jail cell in New York. He was accused of running a “vast network” of underage girls for sex, and pleaded not guilty to the charges last month.

The 66-year-old was known to court famous friends and acquaintances. President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton, and the UK’s Prince Andrew all had ties to him. Some of his powerful associates have been embroiled in the allegations against him, which has only served to fuel the conspiracy theories and misinformation.

Many rumours have centred on what politicians may have known about Epstein’s alleged crimes and whether some may have wanted him dead. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest this was the case. And yet, the hashtag #EpsteinMurder trended worldwide on Saturday.

Joke images and memes – suggesting everything from a faked suicide to an orchestrated hit-job – were shared thousands of times throughout the day. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were rife with unfounded theories about what may have happened to the financier.

This wild speculation was not confined to a fringe minority – far from it. Politicians and high-profile journalists also stoked rampant speculation at a time when little information was publicly available. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough tweeted:

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was “way too convenient” that Epstein could no longer incriminate others.

“What a lot of us want to know is, what did he know?” he told reporters. “How many other millionaires and billionaires were part of the illegal activities that he was engaged in?”

Questions like these alluded, without evidence, to a malevolent conspiracy and fed the feverish speculation on social media.

Further rumours centred on how a man who was found semi-conscious and with injuries to his neck just weeks earlier was able to take his own life. Initial reports said Epstein was placed on suicide watch after that incident in July, which led many people to ask how he could have died while being so closely monitored.

“What does the word watch mean in the phrase suicide watch?” tweeted President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giulani. “Who was watching?” He then said it was “inconceivable” Epstein could have taken his own life under those circumstances.

But prison officials later said Epstein had actually been taken off suicide watch prior to his death. Conspiracy theories then began to focus on why this decision was made, rather than how he was able to take his own life.

The speculation, as was the case throughout Saturday, appeared to shift and change with the few concrete details that were released.

Jeffrey Epstein (left) pictured with US President Donald Trump in 1997Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionJeffrey Epstein pictured with US President Donald Trump in 1997

Perhaps the most far-fetched conspiracy theories were pegged to the hashtags #ClintonBodyCount and #TrumpBodyCount, which both trended on Twitter over the weekend.

The first was primarily used by conservatives to suggest that former “first couple” Bill and Hillary Clinton were linked to Epstein’s death. The latter, perhaps predictably, was used by liberals who speculated that Mr Trump was somehow involved. Neither side had any evidence to work with.

The baseless theory of the Clinton’s involvement harks back to a long-running conspiracy that originated in the 1990s and claims the couple secretly kill their enemies. This was roundly and methodically debunked at the time by the fact-checking website Snopes.

“There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest an outside person ordered Epstein’s death, and certainly no evidence whatsoever that Bill Clinton was that person,” Dylan Matthews wrote in Vox this week.

“[Mr Clinton] knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York,” his spokesman, Angel Ureña, said.

But Mr Trump was quick to pour fuel on the flames. He shared a tweet from Terrence Williams, a comedian and Trump supporter, that alleged Epstein “had information on Bill Clinton & now he’s dead”. There is no evidence to support this, but the tweet has since been shared more than 55,000 times.

Prince Andrew, left, and Jeffrey Epstein in New York's Central ParkImage copyrightNEWS SYNDICATION
Image captionPrince Andrew, left, seen with Jeffrey Epstein in New York

Other theories and tidbits of misinformation have been easier to disprove.

For example, a photo that appeared to show Mr Trump kissing the head of his daughter, Ivanka, while standing next to Epstein has been exposed as a fake. “The 1993 photograph… has been manipulated to include Epstein,” the Associated Press reported last month.

Similarly, after Epstein’s arrest on 6 July, some social media users shared a false claim that prosecutors had struck a secret plea deal with the financier under the administration of President Barack Obama in order to protect his fellow Democrat Mr Clinton. That theory resurfaced on Saturday.

But the deal, which allowed Epstein to plead guilty to lesser charges, was actually finalised before Mr Obama took office under the administration of President George W, Bush. Labour Secretary Alex Acosta resigned over his role in the deal last month.

Meanwhile, some politicians and journalists have urged people to exercise caution given the sheer quantity of misinformation online.

“The immediate rush to spread conspiracy theories about someone on the ‘other side’ of [the] partisan divide illustrates why our society is so vulnerable to foreign disinformation,” tweeted Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

CNN presenter Jim Sciutto, reflecting on his time working in the Middle East, said: “Remember this is about… partisan politics. When I was [there]… folks didn’t trust authorities so assumed a plot behind every event.”

Trump renews attacks on Omar, praises ‘send her back’ crowd

After attempting to distance himself, Trump calls crowd that chanted ‘send her back’ at a campaign rally ‘incredible’.Trump answers a question from the news media about Ilhan Omar [Leah Millis/Reuters]

Trump answers a question from the news media about Ilhan Omar

A day after Donald Trump tried to distance himself from racist chants heard at one of his campaign rallies, the US president praised the crowd as one full of “incredible patriots”.

The president on Friday again ramped up his attacks against US Representative Ilhan Omar, saying he was “unhappy with the fact that a congresswoman can hate our country”.

He also said the people at the North Carolina rally, many of whom chanted “Send her back” while Trump paused, are “incredible people” and “incredible patriots”.

On Thursday, however, Trump attempted to distance himself from the same crowd, saying he wasn’t “happy with” the chant and he disagreed with it. He falsely said he tried to stop the crowd.

His comments came just days after he attacked Omar and three other minority congresswomen – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley – in a series of racist tweets in which he told the four women to go back to where they came from. All four are United States citizens and all but Omar were born in the US. Omar came to the country as a Somali refugee when she was 12 years old.

On Thursday, Omar called Trump “fascist” and said she was “not deterred” and “not frightened”.

“We are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president because his policies are a nightmare to us. We are not deterred. We are not frightened,” she told a crowd of supporters who greeted her as she arrived in her home state of Minnesota.

After the tweets, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives condemned Trump’s “racist comments that have legitimised and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of colour”.

‘Not deterred’: A defiant Ilhan Omar vows to fight Trump

Trump maintains his comments were “not racist”. He said that those who are not happy in the US can leave, despite Trump himself having repeatedly spoken out against past US policies and administrations.

Many have come to Omar’s defence under #IStandWithIlhan.

‘Millions of American in danger’

Responding to Trump’s racist tweets earlier this week, Omar, Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley said they “will not be silenced“. They also said that as “the squad” they would continue to put the focus back on the issues they feel need attention, including immigration, healthcare and education.

“This is simply a disruption, a distraction from the callous, chaotic and corrupt culture of this administration,” Pressley said on Tuesday. “We want to get to the business of the American people and why were sent here: reducing the costs of prescription drugs, addressing the public health crisis and epidemic that is gun violence, addressing the racial wealth gap and yes, making sure that families stay together.

U.S. Reps Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) hold a news conference after Democrats in the U.S. Congress moved to formally condemn Pres
US Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib hold a news conference after Democrats in the US Congress moved to formally condemn President Donald Trump’s racist attacks [Erin Scott/Reuters]

Ocasio-Cortez warned on Thursday that Trump’s attacks “put millions of Americans in danger”.

“This is not just about threats to individual members of Congress, but it is about creating a volatile environment in this country through violent rhetoric that puts anyone, like Ilhan, anyone who believes in the rights of all people in danger and I think that he has a responsibility for that environment,” she said.

After Trump tweeted an edited video to suggest Omar was dismissive of the September 11, 2001, attacks earlier this year, the congresswoman reported an increase in death threats.

In April, a US man was arrested on suspicion of leaving racist, homophobic and Islamophobic messages filled with death threats on the voicemails of several Democratic members of Congress, including Tlaib.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS