Three Environmental Protection Agency scientists scheduled to speak at an event Monday regarding climate change's affect on New England's largest estuary were instructed by the agency not to talk, just a few days before they were set to present their findings from a new report.
The report, published by the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, goes into detail on how climate change is affecting everything from precipitation to air and water temperatures, and how that affects the health of the bay. The EPA would not say why the scientists, including one who was supposed to give the keynote speech, were told not to speak, instead saying in a statement the agency gives the program a $600,000 grant every year.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has said he does not believe climate change is real, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) suggested Monday that "because this was going to be about climate change ... they simply don't want to allow those words to be said, and they don't want people from their agency to be caught saying them. It's just been a constant effort at trying to silence conversation about climate change." The estuary program's director, Thomas Borden, told The Associated Press he was notified on Friday by the director of the EPA's Atlantic Ecology Division that two staffers had been advised not to attend, and he understood the directive came from EPA headquarters. Borden said he then learned that the third scientist, an EPA consultant who wrote much of the report, had been told not to participate, either, though she did attend. Catherine Garcia
Harvey Weinstein has one person defending him in the wake of a New York Times report detailing three decades of sexual misconduct allegations made against him — fashion designer Donna Karan, who questioned if women are "asking for it" based on the way "we display ourselves."
While walking the red carpet at Sunday's CineFashion Film Awards in Los Angeles, Karan told a Daily Mail reporter Weinstein and his wife, Marchesa co-founder Georgina Chapman, are "wonderful people." She then launched into a defense of Weinstein, saying he was "a symbol" of a greater issue, and it was all downhill from there as she wondered aloud how much blame should be placed on women who have been harassed.
"I also think, how do we display ourselves?" she said. "How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality? And what are we throwing out to our children today about how to dance and how to perform and what to wear? How much should they show?" Actress Rose McGowan, who was mentioned in the Times piece, slammed Karan, tweeting that she was "a DEPLORABLE. Aiding and abetting is a moral crime. You are scum in a fancy dress." Catherine Garcia
President Trump didn't back Roy Moore in the Alabama Republican Senate primary, but he was quick to congratulate him on Tuesday night after he defeated Trump's pick, incumbent Sen. Luther Strange.
Congratulations to Roy Moore on his Republican Primary win in Alabama. Luther Strange started way back & ran a good race. Roy, WIN in Nov!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 27, 2017
"Congratulations to Roy Moore on his Republican Primary win in Alabama," Trump tweeted. "Luther Strange started way back & ran a good race. Roy, WIN in Nov.!" That will be impossible for Moore to do, seeing as how the general election is set for Dec. 12.
UPDATE 10:23 p.m. ET: Trump has tweeted the same congratulatory message for a second time, now urging Moore to "WIN in Dec!" He did not delete the message wishing him luck in November.
UPDATE 10:27 p.m. ET: The original tweet has been deleted.
UPDATE 11:10 p.m. ET: Trump appears to be on a deleting spree, also scrubbing his account of messages supporting Strange, according to ProPublica's erased-tweet tool, including one he sent out Tuesday morning that read: "Luther Strange has been shooting up in the Alabama polls since my endorsement. Finish the job — vote today for 'Big Luther.'" Catherine Garcia
Shortly before reversing pending ban on a pesticide, EPA chief met with CEO of chemical company selling it
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris on March 9, and 20 days later, he reversed the EPA's decision to ban the spraying of food with a Dow chemical that studies show can interfere with the development of children's brains, The Associated Press reports.
AP received Pruitt's schedule through a Freedom of Information Act request. Pruitt and Liveris were both speaking at an energy industry conference in Houston when the 30-minute private meeting occurred. EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman told AP that the pair did not discuss chlorpyrifos, the chemical in question, and were just "briefly introduced." Liveris leads a White House manufacturing working group, and Dow Chemical gave $1 million to help underwrite President Trump's inauguration.
EPA scientists have reviewed the chemical, and found that ingesting even the smallest amount can harm the brains of fetuses, infants, and children. The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling on Pruitt to take the chemical off the market, saying in a statement: "There is a wealth of science demonstrating the detrimental effects of chlorpyrifos exposure to developing fetuses, infants, children, and pregnant women. The risk to infant and children's health and development is unambiguous."
Chlorpyrifos is similar to a chemical developed during World War II as a weapon, AP says, and traces of it are often found in drinking water. Dow sells about five million pounds of the chemical in the U.S. annually, and in 2015, the Obama administration proposed banning its use on food. In April, AP reported that Dow was urging the Trump administration to "set aside" findings made by federal scientists that organophosphate pesticides like chlorpyrifos are harmful to threatened and endangered species. Catherine Garcia
Though no evidence has been offered to back President Trump's baseless claim that former President Barack Obama wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower during the presidential election, an overwhelming majority of Republicans think it's likely. A CBS News poll released Wednesday found that 74 percent of Republicans believe it's "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that Trump's offices were wiretapped. Just 21 percent of Democrats think it's a possibility, while 49 percent of independents deemed it likely.
When Trump leveled the allegation on Twitter weeks ago, he offered no supporting evidence, and he has yet to come forward with any as he's continued to defend the claim. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, the Justice Department, and FBI Director James Comey have all said they have not uncovered any evidence whatsoever that backs Trump's allegation. Comey even noted during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee earlier this month that it's impossible for a president to "unilaterally" order a wiretap, as Trump has claimed Obama did.
Using a fast-track process enabled by the 1996 Congressional Review Act, congressional Republicans are working to get rid of rules that keep prepaid debit card companies from charging tens of millions of dollars in overdraft fees.
In October, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalized rules that include limitations on those fees. The Electronic Transactions Association, a lobbying group for the payment industry, and Total System Services, a Georgia-based financial company, have pushed hard for its repeal. NetSpend, a unit of Total System Services, is the largest manager of prepaid cards in the United States, BuzzFeed News reports. While most prepaid debit card companies do not charge overdraft fees, NetSpend does, and the company told investors last year that it made about $85 million off of overdraft fees in 2016, or 10-12 percent of its overall revenue. These prepaid debit cards are disproportionately used by low-income consumers.
During the last three months of 2016, Total System Services spent $270,000 lobbying Congress, and since 2010, the company's political action committee has given Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), a former CEO of Dollar General, and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) $37,500 in campaign contributions, data from the Center for Responsive Politics shows. Last week, Perdue, who has called the CFPB a "rogue agency," introduced a resolution in Congress to throw out the rules. The Congressional Review Act allows simple majorities in both houses of Congress to eliminate newly finalized regulations with approval from the president, and Democrats won't be able to block it with a filibuster. Furthermore, regulators will not be able to reintroduce a similar rule in the future.
As of 2014, some 22.4 million people were using prepaid cards. Should this go through, it will be because of "members of Congress that support Wall Street and predatory lenders over working families," Lauren Saunders, associate director of the National Consumer Law Center, told BuzzFeed News. "It is outrageous that Congress may block basic fraud protections on prepaid cards so that NetSpend can keep gouging struggling families with overdraft fees." Catherine Garcia
President Trump is basing his belief in widespread voter fraud on an event that the daughter of a key player says never happened, The New York Times reports.
Trump has been repeating baseless claims of rampant voter fraud since after the election, and on Wednesday he announced he is ordering an investigation. Unidentified staffers who attended a meeting Monday with House and Senate leaders told the Times that Trump gave a rambling explanation into why he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes — because "illegals" cast 3 to 5 million ballots, all against him. A Democrat spoke up at the meeting, the staffers said, but Trump launched into a story that he says his "friend" and "supporter," "the very famous golfer Bernhard Langer," told him.
Langer, who won the Masters twice, was standing in line at a polling place near his home in Florida when an official told him he would not be allowed to vote, Trump reportedly recounted. The president said that "ahead of and behind Mr. Langer were voters who did not look as if they should be allowed to vote," the Times reports, "but they were nonetheless permitted to cast provisional ballots. The president threw out the names of Latin American countries that the voters might have come from." Trump said Langer was "frustrated," and after Trump was greeted with silence, his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) moved the conversation along, the staffers said.
Langer's daughter tells a different story. Her father was born in Bavaria and has permanent residence status, making him ineligible to vote in the U.S. "He is a citizen of Germany," Christina Langer told The Times. "He is not a friend of President Trump's, and I don't know why he would talk about him." A senior White House staffer tried to clarify, telling The Times that Langer saw Trump over Thanksgiving and told him a story about his own friend being blocked from voting, and that is what made a major impact on Trump. Which all sounds like a game of "telephone" gone very, very bad. Catherine Garcia
Powerful men are still not sold on the whole "workplace diversity" thing, apparently. Despite data showing that companies with a high percentage of female board directors routinely outperform male-dominated boards, a recent PwC survey found that just 24 percent of male directors believe board diversity improves a company's performance, compared to 89 percent of female directors. Similarly, only 38 percent of men think diversity improves board effectiveness, compared to 92 percent of women, the Washington Post reports.
Female directors currently hold just 20 percent of all board positions at S&P 500 companies. Kelly Gonsalves