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Daily Archives: August 2nd, 2017


Again we see the Governor doing the know it all shuffle. After 2 years of no budget and having his veto overrode , the Gov is attacking schools (again). His cutting of parts of the school budget specifically targeting the pensions of Chicago teachers is appalling and small minded, short sighted and possibly just mean spirited. It is well known that the mayor of Chicago and the Governor are not “friends” however to punish the teachers and by extension the students of Chicago schools is poor judgement and uncalled for. With the upcoming election there is sure to be a backlash in spite of the obscene amount of money the Governor will surely spend to get his way. Essentially the Governor wants to stay in office and get his way “by hook or by crook “. If we as voters do not pay attention to what the Governor is doing to us, we are doomed to another round of hurtful actions by a small minded man with a lot of money.

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The Trump White house has apparently had a revolving door installed. Now Reince Priebus is out and Scaramucci is definitely in. It seems that TOTUS is attempting to get rid of evidence of something. He temporarily silenced Kellyanne Conwoman, shoved Steve Bannon off to the side, fired James Comey and has threatened Jeff Sessions. We have in the mix the departure of Sean Spicer (pushed by the now ousted “Mooch”). The majority party is definitely not looking favorably on all of this along with the ever present tweet storm. With the appointment of General Kelly, Scaramucci is out, who is next in the revolving door?

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Natasha Geiling
Reporter at ThinkProgress. Contact me: ngeiling@americanprogress.org
Aug 1

“Today the environmental field is suffering from the temporary triumph of myth over truth.”

A senior official with the Environmental Protection Agency has resigned from her post, citing the Trump administration’s anti-environment and anti-regulatory agenda in her exit statement as part of her reason for leaving.
Elizabeth Southerland worked for the EPA for 30 years, most recently as Director of the Office of Science and Technology for the agency’s Water Office.
In her farewell letter, posted publicly by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Southerland singles out several Trump-era regulatory rollbacks, which she argues are threatening the core mission of the EPA.
Southerland criticized EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s approach to working with states on environmental enforcement, arguing that Pruitt’s desire to shift environmental protection to the states while cutting funding for federally-funded state environmental programs would merely force states to either increase taxes or decrease environmental enforcement.
She also raised concerns over the administration’s new requirement that for every new regulation, one regulation must be repealed.
“This poses a real Sophie’s choice for public health agencies like EPA,” Southerland wrote. “Should EPA repeal two existing rules protecting infants from neurotoxins in order to promulgate a new rule protecting adults from a newly discovered liver toxin? Faced with such painful choices, the best possible outcome for the American people would be regulatory paralysis where no new rules are released so that existing protections remain in place.”
EPA environmental justice leader on his resignation: ‘I needed to stand up’

Mustafa Ali has been with the EPA since 1992. He told ThinkProgress that he “saw something that was significantly…
thinkprogress.org

But Southerland noted that Pruitt has already begun repealing 30 existing environmental regulations, like the Clean Power Plan, the Clean Water Rule, and a rule requiring stricter emissions monitoring for oil and gas operations on federal lands.
“When the federal government abandons the polluter pays principle, it will be up to the states, tribes and local government to decide how much of the polluters bills they will ask their residents to take on,” Southerland wrote of the Trump administration’s deregulatory approach. “The best case for our children and grandchildren is that they will pay the polluters bills through increased state taxes, new user fees, and higher water and sewer bills. The worst case is that they will have to live with increased public health and safety risks and a degraded environment.”
Southerland concluded her letter by railing against the Trump administration’s antagonism towards scientific fact. Under Pruitt, the EPA has begun a red-team, blue-team initiative aimed at challenging consensus climate science, and has regularly chastised the Obama administration for it’s “war on coal.” Pruitt, meanwhile, is under review by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General for comments he made suggesting that carbon dioxide is not the primary cause of climate change — a statement contradicted by broad scientific consensus.
“Today the environmental field is suffering from the temporary triumph of myth over truth,” she wrote. “The truth is there is NO war on coal, there is NO economic crisis caused by environmental protection, and climate change IS caused by man’s activities.”
Southerland told the Washington Post that she wrote the letter because she felt it was her “civic duty to explain the impact of this administration’s policies on public health and safety.”
Southerland is not the only senior EPA official to voice criticism of the current administration upon their resignation. Mustafa Ali, former head of the environmental justice program at the Environmental Protection Agency, told ThinkProgress in March after his resignation that he “needed to stand up” to the new administration. And Mike Cox, who retired from the agency in April after three decades, wrote in his resignation letter that “this is the first time I remember staff openly dismissing and mocking the environmental policies of an administration” and, by extension, the EPA administrator.
Thanks to Samantha Page.

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Robert Kuttner
August 1, 2017

The president looks to be on the verge of repeating Richard Nixon’s fatal miscalculations.
An earlier version of this article appeared at The Huffington Post.
Donald Trump’s vendetta against Attorney General Jeff Sessions has gone underground for a few days, as the president deals with the serial firings of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Anthony Scaramucci. But Trump’s rancor at Sessions has not gone away.
His obvious motive in wanting Sessions out is getting an attorney general willing to do Trump’s bidding and fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller. In this chess game, key Republican senators have indicated their support for Mueller, even warning Trump that they would refuse to confirm a successor and that they would block a recess appointment by keeping the Senate technically in session during the August break.
But the string of recent firings reinforces the sense that Trump, even when he knows the stakes, is incapable of restraining himself when he wants someone fired.
In the case of Scaramucci, Trump made the mistake of auditioning the Mooch for the communications director job in real time, as in reality TV. Scaramucci evidently failed the test, making the calamitous error of thinking that the White House had room for two Trumps.
Trump looks to be on the verge of repeating Richard Nixon’s fatal miscalculations in the October 20, 1973, Saturday Night Massacre, in which both Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than following Nixon’s order to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. Nixon kept working his way down the Justice Department hierarchy until he found someone willing to do his bidding, Solicitor General Robert Bork.
This move got rid of Cox, but fatally damaged Nixon’s relations with Congress and public opinion. A successor special prosecutor, Leon Jaworski, picked up Cox’s investigation, and Nixon was brought up on impeachment charges and was compelled to resign once his removal looked inevitable.
Trump is not famous for reading history, much less learning from it. Once Trump makes up his mind that Mueller has to go, he will likely go as far down the Justice Department food chain as he needs to until he finds someone willing to do the deed.

Trump has a penchant for firing prosecutors when they begin getting too close to his affairs. He fired the FBI director James Comey, after Comey refused to follow Trump’s suggestion that he go easy on former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. And he fired Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was investigating the Trump family’s financial dealings.
Trump has clumsily tried to impugn Mueller’s integrity by suggesting that Mueller or his associates have conflicts of interest, and he as much as told The New York Times that if he didn’t like where Mueller’s investigation was heading, he would be inclined to force Mueller out.
Senator Lindsey Graham said flatly that firing Mueller would be “the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency.”
But Republicans have warned Trump that if he fired Mueller they would change the law to make the special counsel fireproof. Senator Lindsey Graham said flatly that firing Mueller would be “the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency.”
However, that remedy could take some time. And in the meantime, Trump’s designee could fire Mueller and order his files and his investigation to be turned over to the main Justice Department, thus slowing things down.
One thing Mueller might do is to give an interim report to key congressional committees. If Trump or his henchmen try to fire Mueller, he could also provide Congress with key documents, as well as litigate the firing.
Republicans in Congress, many of whom loathe Trump and his behavior, have been willing to work with him, opportunistically, because he serves their purposes of destroying government regulation, weakening public institutions, cutting taxes, and undermining several policies of the Obama era.
But after last week’s serial reversals, Republican patience may be coming to an end.
On the heels of the defeat of the effort to repeal Obamacare and the astonishing way Trump used Anthony Scaramucci to oust Priebus and then dumped Scaramucci, at least two dozen key Republican legislators have warned Trump not to fire Sessions.
For Trump to oust Sessions and then Mueller would be reckless, and ultimately self-annihilating, for it would undermine what’s left of Republican loyalty to this president. But everything in Trump’s character and recent behavior suggests he will try to force Mueller out anyway. And that could indeed be the beginning of the end.

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Emmanuel Ocbazghi and Leon Siciliano Jun. 21, 2017, 8:47 AM
Cathy O’Neil, a self-proclaimed math nerd and author of “Weapons of Math Destruction” explains how police data leads to bias in the criminal justice system. Following is a transcript of the video.
O’NEIL: We don’t actually collect data on crime, we collect the data that the police collect. I’m Cathy O’Neil. I’m a math nerd, data scientist, and author. When you think about algorithms in the criminal justice system, you have to really think about the data and how the data is built.
So the way predictive policing works is they take the data, they look for crime data and they really don’t have crime data so they use … their best proxy for it which is usually arrest data which means that police are basically sent back to the same neighborhood where they’re already over policing. And in particular they’re not sent to neighborhoods that have crime but aren’t — those crimes aren’t found. Now if you think about what that means for the algorithms where you’re looking for crimes based on the location of previous arrests, or previous convictions, or even previous reported crime, that kind of algorithm is intrinsically biased.
And then there’s another kind of algorithm that is a little downstream from the predictive policing algorithm. It’s called the recidivism risk algorithm. Recidivism risk algorithms are used by judges to determine how long to sentence a defendant. And the higher risk of recidivism, which is the risk of returning to prison sometime in the future, or even just getting arrested in the future, the higher risk, the longer someone gets sentenced And what ProPublica found was the compass model which is one version of a recidivism model made mistakes by sending people to prison longer, that kind of mistake, twice as often for African-American defendants as for white defendants, at least in Broward County Florida.
And if —  there’s another kind of mistake you can make which is: you look like you’re not coming back, you look low-risk but you actually do come back that kind of risk that kind of mistake was made twice as often for white defendants as for African-American defendants.

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