Trump to sign order sweeping away Obama-era climate policies

U.S. President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday to undo a slew of Obama-era climate change regulations that his administration says is hobbling oil drillers and coal miners, a move environmental groups have vowed to take to court.

The decree's main target is former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan, requiring states to slash carbon emissions from power plants - a critical element in helping the United States meet its commitments to a global climate change accord reached by nearly 200 countries in Paris in 2015.

The so-called "Energy Independence" order will also reverse a ban on coal leasing on federal lands, undo rules to curb methane emissions from oil and gas production, and reduce the weight of climate change and carbon emissions in policy and infrastructure permitting decisions.

"We're going to go in a different direction," a senior White House official told reporters ahead of Tuesday's order. "The previous administration devalued workers with their policies. We can protect the environment while providing people with work."

The wide-ranging order is the boldest yet in Trump’s broader push to cut environmental regulation to revive the drilling and mining industries, a promise he made repeatedly during the presidential campaign. But energy analysts and executives have questioned whether the moves will have a big effect on their industries, and environmentalists have called them reckless.

"I cannot tell you how many jobs the executive order is going to create but I can tell you that it provides confidence in this administration’s commitment to the coal industry," Kentucky Coal Association president Tyler White told Reuters.

Trump will sign the order at the Environmental Protection Agency with Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Tuesday afternoon.

U.S. presidents have aimed to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil since the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s, which triggered soaring prices. But the United States still imports about 7.9 million barrels of crude oil a day, almost enough meet total oil demand in Japan and India combined.

'ASSAULT ON AMERICAN VALUES'

Environmental groups hurled scorn on Trump's order, arguing it is dangerous and goes against the broader global trend toward cleaner energy technologies.

"These actions are an assault on American values and they endanger the health, safety and prosperity of every American," said billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, the head of activist group NextGen Climate.

Green group Earthjustice was one of many organizations that said it will fight the order both in and out of court. "This order ignores the law and scientific reality," said its president, Trip Van Noppen.

An overwhelming majority of scientists believe that human use of oil and coal for energy is a main driver of climate change, causing a damaging rise in sea levels, droughts, and more frequent violent storms.

Trump and several members of his administration, however, have doubts about climate change, and Trump promised during his campaign to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, arguing it would hurt U.S. business.

Since being elected Trump has been mum on the Paris deal and the executive order does not address it.

Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change who helped broker the Paris accord, lamented Trump's order.

"Trying to make fossil fuels remain competitive in the face of a booming clean renewable power sector, with the clean air and plentiful jobs it continues to generate, is going against the flow of economics," she said.

The order will direct the EPA to start a formal "review" process to undo the Clean Power Plan, which was introduced by Obama in 2014 but was never implemented in part because of legal challenges brought by Republican-controlled states.

The Clean Power Plan required states to collectively cut carbon emissions from power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

Trump’s order lifts the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management's temporary ban on coal leasing on federal property put in place by Obama in 2016 as part of a review to study the program's impact on climate change and ensure royalty revenues were fair to taxpayers.

It also asks federal agencies to discount the cost of carbon in policy decisions and the weight of climate change considerations in infrastructure permitting, and reverses rules limiting methane leakage from oil and gas facilities.

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When Trump Goes Low...

U.S. President Donald Trump's approval rating fell to a new low over the weekend.

According to Gallup, Trump's approval rating dropped to 36 percent – one point lower than his previous worst. It fell below former Presidents Barack Obama's and Bill Clinton's lowest scores of 38 and 37 percent, respectively. Other former presidents such as George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon all had approval ratings lower than 36 percent at least once, said Gallup.

RELATED: Trump 'Winning Winning Winning' at Worst President Ever: Poll

Trump entered office posting numbers that ranked him among the most unpopular presidents to occupy the White House. But approval ratings are inconstant, which means Trump's numbers will likely fluctuate throughout his presidency. The Republicans' inability to dismantle Obamacare – their first agenda item – is likely responsible for the president's current dismal performance as reported by Gallup.

In mid-January, Trump was 8 points higher with a 44 percent approval and a 51 percent disapproval rating during his transition period. His predecessor, President Barack Obama, enjoyed almost twice as high approval rating (83 percent) during his 2008 transition period. And, George W. Bush – who, like Trump, lost the popular vote – posted a very respectable 61 percent approval rating during his transition to enter the White House.

It is unclear how the sagging approval will affect Trump moving forward. While he won last year's electoral vote as a widely disliked candidate, he had competed against another unpopular choice, Hillary Clinton.

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Trump Son-In-Law to Oversee White House Office to Revamp Govt

The news comes after Ivanka Trump received her own office in the White House along with access to classified information and a government-issued phone.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday is set to announce his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will take on a White House role to oversee a broad effort to overhaul the federal government, The Washington Post reported, citing statements from both men.

Kushner, who is married to Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and currently serves as a senior adviser, will lead the newly formed White House Office of American Innovation with an eye on leveraging business ideas and potentially privatizing some government functions, the Post said.

"The government should be run like a great American company. Our hope is that we can achieve successes and efficiencies for our customers, who are the citizens," Kushner told the Post in an interview.

Some of the areas he will focus on are veterans' care, opioid addiction, technology and data infrastructure, workforce training and infrastructure, according to the report.

In a statement to the Post, Trump said: "I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my ‘ahead of schedule, under budget’ mentality to the government."

The move comes just days after Trump suffered his first major political setback. Fellow Republicans pulled their healthcare plan after years of promising to undo former President Barack Obama's 2010 health law.

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Trump Failing to Drain Swamp, Address Conflicts of Interest

Pre-election promises seem to have all but vanished, according to a report from advocacy groups. 

One of Donald Trump’s key election promises was to “drain the swamp” from lobbying and corporate donations in Washington. But a new report from advocacy groups has explained how this promise is all but broken, with a mountainous catalogue of conflict of interests, scandals, corruption and cronyism from within the Trump family.

RELATED: Cruel or Crueler? Trump vs. the Koch Brothers on Health Care

According to “Broken Promises: How Trump is Profiting Off the Presidency and Empowering Lobbyists and Big Donors,” published by Every Voice and Public Citizen, Trump has broken virtually every swamp draining pledge.

“Trump has filled his administration with the same major donors and Wall Street executives he claimed he would fight if elected,” Public Citizen said in a press release.

As a well-established billionaire businessman, Trump initially vowed to address the conflicts of interests with the presidency by isolating himself from his business interests through handing control over to his sons. But the report said that Trump had failed to properly divest and his ethical plan was well below other administrations.

Trump was seen to have a long list of questionable activities since he was inaugurated two months ago, where a number of his business partners were in attendance.

While the president said that his business would not pursue any new foreign deals, the company then restarted a project in the Dominican Republic and settled trademark disputes in China. 

Furthermore, a number of government policies were seen to benefit his businesses. The controversial Muslim travel ban failed to include countries where Trump businesses had dealings and the plan to scrap regulations for Wall Street could see increased profits for Trump companies.

Rollbacks on environmental regulations could also benefit Trump owned golf courses, while plans to curb lobbying with the federal government was also appear to have gone by the wayside.

“Trump refuses to take his conflicts of interest and the threat of wealthy special interest influence in his administration seriously, he fails the millions of voters who supported him because of their sincere belief he’d reduce the power of lobbyists and big donors if elected,” said head of Every Voice, David Donnelly.

Trump’s family was also seen to be benefiting from his new post, as his wife Melania's attorney, for instance, recognized the business and marketing opportunity of being first lady and she was earlier criticized for promoting here Jewelry brand through the White House's official website.

RELATED: Haters Gonna Hate: Kaepernick Gives $50,000 to Meals on Wheels 

After retailer Nordstrom chose to drop his daughter Ivanka’s clothing company, Trump went on the attack, tweeting that she had been “treated so unfairly” by the company.  

More recently, Ivanka was seen sitting in on a business and labor meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Despite not being elected or even a government employee, she is reportedly taking up office in the West Wing and has been issued with government equipment. Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner, has already been appointed as one of Trump’s main advisors. 

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'All hands on deck' for GOP, Trump as health care vote approaches

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump warned his fellow Republicans of big losses at the ballot box if they fail to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Wednesday and Thursday, we'll learn if House Republicans heed that message and back legislation that has already tested the President's political prowess and has Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan furiously counting every available vote.
 
"This is an all-hands-on deck situation," a senior House GOP aide said Tuesday.
 
According to CNN's ongoing whip count as of Wednesday morning, 21 House Republicans have flat-out said they will vote against the bill to repeal or replace Obamacare, while five more have indicated they are likely to oppose it.
 
Trump and Ryan must get 216 Republicans on board and can afford only 21 defections, if no Democrat joins them.
 
 
 
Trump has filled his schedule with back-to-back meetings with GOP lawmakers in recent days, and will continue the behind-the-scenes lobbying on Wednesday along with Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.
 
Meanwhile, Ryan's whip operation is in full blitz mode. The House speaker has been texting with Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, who has not budged. House Whip Steve Scalise and Deputy Whip Patrick McHenry have also been singling out individual Freedom Caucus members to try to peel them away from the group.
 
Various lawmakers who are planning to vote "no" have described to CNN having 30-45 minute phone calls with Trump officials in the past 36 hours.
 
Trump once again publicly pressed the importance of getting the health care bill through the House this week in a speech Tuesday night.
 
"The American people gave us clear instructions. It's time to get busy, get to work and get the job done," Trump said at a dinner hosted by the National Republican Congressional Committee. "That legislative effort begins with Thursday's crucial vote and it really is a crucial vote for the Republican Party and for the people of the country."
 
Wednesday morning will bring the last official procedural stepping stone before the bill heads to the House floor -- the Rules Committee, a panel traditionally full of leadership loyalists, which should clear the way to consider amendments to the measure and set up Thursday's dramatic vote.
 
That's an important step, but it's the arm-twisting that happens in closed-door meetings that will the difference.
 
 
Still stubbornly opposed to the health care proposal are members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who insist they have more than 21 "no" votes to sink the bill.
 
According to a source, the caucus' members have been invited to visit the White House in small groups in recent days -- an effort by administration officials to start peeling off members. That visit is likely to continue Wednesday, the source said.
 
Reservations about the bill span the party's political spectrum.
 
Trump met with some members of the moderate Republican "Tuesday Group" on Tuesday, and for one of those members, face time with the president wasn't enough to sway him.
 
"I'm a no," GOP Rep. Leonard Lance told reporters after returning from a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence.
 
Lance, who Democrats view as vulnerable in 2018, said he was still hung up on the fear that his older constituents would have to shoulder higher coverage costs under the Republican bill. "I indicated to the President my concerns in several areas," Lance said, as he suggested that the chance to make further changes to the legislation was closed.
 

What's in the bill

The bill introduced earlier this month would roll back many of the Obamacare taxes and eradicate the individual mandate. Instead of the subsidies available in the Affordable Care Act, the GOP plan provides Americans with refundable tax credits to purchase health insurance.

The bill also significantly restructures Medicaid and allows states to require able bodied adults to work if they want to be eligible for the program. After 2020, states will no longer be able to expand Medicaid like they could under Obamacare and states that haven't expanded the program at all are bared from doing so.
 
The GOP bill, however, still includes some of the most popular pieces of Obamacare, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions (though insurers would be allowed to charge higher premiums to individuals whose coverage has lapsed) and letting children stay on their parents' insurance plans until the age of 26.
 
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the bill predicted that 24 million Americans may lose their insurance by 2026 if the bill is enacted.
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Hungary Training 3,000 Civilians to Hunt Down Migrants

Orban would undoubtedly support Trump in his bid to build a wall at the Mexican border.

U.S. President Donald Trump made promises to enforce border security, specifically with neighbors Mexico. This has yet to come to fruition. But on the other side of the pond Trump will find a kindred spirit in Hungarian authorities.

RELATED: ICE Agents Arrest Immigrant Rights Activists in Vermont

The European country is training thousands of civilians to provide extra security for its southern border. Hungary shares a border with Croatia and Serbia in that area. These states are not a part of the 'free travel' schengen group – a coalition of European countries that seemingly operate without borders. The more than two dozen states in this group have discontinued the use of passports and promote borderless travel throughout.

The 523 km border to the south of Hungary is secured with a razor-wire fence and is already heavily patrolled, an ordered given by Prime Minister Viktor Orban two years ago. The government stated that this measure has already prevented thousands of illegal crossings. But they are eagar to shore up the sector regardless. Hungary has employed the services of 3,000 civilians to train in combat and arrest techniques. This, they say, is to provide reinforcement for the 10,000 security forces who are currently charged with patrolling the area.

RELATED: US Bans Large Electronics From 8 Muslim Country Airline Flights

Orban would no doubt support Trump – who he has enjoyed positive exchanges with – in his bid to build a wall at the Mexican border. “He invited me to Washington, I told him that I hadn’t been there for a long time as I had been treated as a ‘black sheep’, to which he replied, laughing: ‘Me too’.” The prime minister said in an interview published online by business daily Vilaggazdasag that Trump made it clear to him that “he thinks highly of Hungary.”

Trump and Orban also share other ideologies. Hungary along with Poland, Czechia and Slovakia are less than receptive to immigrants entering Europe from Africa and the Middle East.

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US Bans Large Electronics From 8 Muslim Country Airline Flights

The rule would cover around eight to 10 foreign airlines, another source said it would affect 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Passengers traveling on certain U.S.-bound foreign airline flights will have to check electronic devices larger than a cell phone once U.S. authorities formalize a new ban in response to an unspecified terrorist threat, U.S. officials told Reuters Monday.

RELATED: 3 Trump Cabinet Picks Who Supported the 2003 Invasion of Iraq

The new rule is expected to be announced Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security the officials said, adding that it had been under consideration since the U.S. government learned of a threat several weeks ago.

A source said the rule would cover around eight to 10 foreign airlines. A separate government official confirmed an AP report that the ban will affect 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Reuters reported earlier that the ban would include airlines based in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The officials did not name the other countries.

No U.S. carriers were affected by the ban, the officials said. Passengers would be allowed to carry in their checked luggage larger devices like tablets, portable DVD players, laptops and cameras.

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Royal Jordanian Airlines said in a tweet Monday that U.S.-bound passengers would be barred from carrying most electronic devices aboard aircraft starting Tuesday at the request of U.S. officials, including those that transit through Canada. Passengers can still carry cell phones and approved medical devices.

Al Riyadh newspaper, which is close to the Saudi government, reported that the civil aviation authority had informed "airlines flying from the kingdom's airports to U.S. airports of the latest measures from U.S. security agencies in which passengers must store laptops and tablets" in checked baggage.

It quoted a civil aviation authority source as saying that these measures from senior U.S. authorities were relayed to the Saudi interior ministry. Saudia Airlines confirmed in a tweet that U.S. transportation authorities had barred carrying larger electronic devices in cabin luggage.

The White House declined to comment. A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, David Lapan, said the agency had "no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide an update when appropriate."

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly called congressional lawmakers this weekend to notify them of the plan, congressional aides said.

In July 2014, the Homeland Security Department stepped up security of U.S.-bound flights, requiring tougher screening of mobile phones and other electronic devices and requiring them to be powered up before passengers could board flights to the United States.

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Trudeau Defends Support for Foreigners in the USA

Washington, March 16 (Prensa Latina) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recalled the need today to support foreigners during the performance of a musical at a theater in Broadway, New York.

'The world gets to see what it is to lean on each other and be there for each other through the darkest times,' he said when introducing the play on the reception in his country of about seven thousand passengers whose flights were diverted from the United States after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Along with his wife, Sophie, and Ivanka Trump, the daughter of the American president Donald Trump, Trudeau enjoyed the musical 'Come from away' in Gerald Schoenfeld Theater of Broadway, that exhibits it from last Sunday.

The musical, written by the Canadian couple Irene Sankoff and David Heinse, addresses how the residents of the city of Gander, Newfoundland, took in about six thousand 600 passengers and crew of 38 commercial flights that were forced to land at the local airport.

US authorities diverted a total of more than 200 aircraft to Canada when they closed down US air space after the Twin Towers terrorist attacks, which resulted in more than 3,000 deaths and 6,000 injuries, mostly in New York.

When the capacities of hotels were filled, schools, fire stations and churches, took in passengers, while food and general services were provided by the residents of that small town of about 10,000 inhabitants.

Through her Twitter account, Ivanka Trump wrote that she was honored to accompany the head of government and his wife in an emotional tribute to the way the international community joined after September 11.

The media often point to the contrasts between Trudeau government, which has so far welcomed 40,000 Syrian refugees, and the policies of the US president, who promotes a four-month ban on the entry of refugees from any country.

The head of state also wants to avoid for 90 days the arrival of nationals of six Muslim-majority countries through an order that was to enter into force today, but which was blocked temporarily last night by a judge in Hawaii.

  • Published in Culture
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