‘I was so livid’: Disney heiress visits theme park to see worker conditions

Yahoo – News

‘I was so livid’: Disney heiress visits theme park to see worker conditions

By Rebecca Corey       July 15, 2019

“Through Her Eyes” is a weekly show hosted by human rights activist Zainab Salbi that explores contemporary news issues from a female perspective. You can watch a full episode of “Through Her Eyes” every Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Roku, or at the bottom of this article.

As an heiress to the Disney fortune, anything Abigail Disney says about the brand beloved by millions worldwide garners attention. And she’s calling out Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger for his nearly $66 million yearly salary, saying he isn’t doing enough to rectify the huge gap between his own earnings and that of other Disney workers.

“Bob needs to understand he’s an employee, just the same as the people scrubbing gum off the sidewalk are employees,” Disney said during an interview with the Yahoo News show “Through Her Eyes.” “And they’re entitled to all the same dignity and human rights that he is.”

Iger’s paycheck last year was more than 1,000 times what the median Disney employee made in 2018, according to Equilar.

To understand the grievances of Walt Disney Co. employees, Abigail Disney said she went to Disneyland after receiving a Facebook message from a distressed worker.

“I went to Anaheim, and I wanted to be sure I understood the situation and the context really, really well,” Disney said.

She said what she found at “The Happiest Place on Earth” was a façade that was about to crack from the pressure of making ends meet.

“Every single one of these people I talked to were saying, ‘I don’t know how I can maintain this face of joy and warmth when I have to go home and forage for food in other people’s garbage,’” she recalled, adding that this was not the work environment her grandfather Roy O. Disney sought out to create.

“I was so livid when I came out of there because, you know, my grandfather taught me to revere these people that take your tickets, that pour your soda,” she continued.

“Those people are much of the recipe for success.”

Yahoo News sits down with Abigail Disney

Heiress of the Disney fortune, Abigail Disney, continues to call out Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger for his nearly $66 million yearly salary. Human rights activist and host of Yahoo News “Through Her Eyes” Zainab Salbi joins Yahoo Finance’s YFi AM to discuss her sit-down interview with the heiress.

Disney says her efforts are part of preserving a work culture of respect that originated with her grandfather and that she says has gradually declined at the Walt Disney Co. “When my grandfather worked there, he hired people there to have a job for life,” she said.

The company has also been accused of sexist pay practices. Earlier this month, four new women joined a major pay-gap case against it, according to the Guardian. They are part of a larger class-action lawsuit, filed in April, alleging that the company systematically underpays its female employees. Disney denied the allegations.

A filmmaker and philanthropist, Abigail Disney does not have an active role in the company her grandfather co-founded. But she says she recently wrote to Iger expressing her concerns.

“I wrote Bob Iger a very long email, and one of the things I said to him was, ‘You know, you’re a great CEO by any measure, perhaps even the greatest CEO in the country right now. You know, your legacy is that you’re a great manager. And if I were you, I would want something better than that. I would want to be known as the guy who led to a better place, because that is what you have the power to do.’”

But Disney said that in response to her email, she got “nothing.”

“There was no answer,” she said.

According to the Financial Times, Iger referred Disney to the company’s human resources department, “who cited initiatives such as its $150m funding for employee education,” motivating her to reach out to Iger again. She told the outlet: “That never got an answer, so I had my answer.”

When asked about the pay disparity between Iger and his staff, a Walt Disney Co. spokesperson touted its education initiative, Disney Aspire, which covers 100 percent of all tuition costs, books and fees. The spokesperson said more than 40 percent of Disney’s 88,000-plus hourly employees have signed up to participate so far.

“Disney is at the forefront of providing workforce education, which is widely recognized as the best way to create economic opportunity for employees and empower upward mobility,” the spokesperson said.

The company added: “American workers need meaningful change; they deserve smart policies and practical programs, like Disney Aspire, that empower them to achieve their goals and ensure they are part of the most competitive workforce in the world.”

This isn’t the first time Abigail Disney has called out Iger for his income. She wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post in April, criticizing the “naked indecency” of his salary. And in May she spoke on Capitol Hill, imploring members of the House Financial Services Committee to rethink the system that allows CEOs to make so much more than other workers.

“The system is the problem, and the people inside of the system who are perfectly comfortable with the system are the problem,” Disney told “Through Her Eyes.” “I don’t think any president of the United States has as much power as some CEOs in this country.”

‘I was so livid’: Disney heiress visits theme park undercover to see worker conditions

Abigail Disney recently went undercover to Disneyland after receiving a Facebook message from a distressed Disneyland worker. “Every single one of these people I talked to were saying, ‘I don’t know how I can maintain this face of joy and warmth when I have to go home and forage for food in other people’s garbage.’”

To help jump-start change, Disney says she wants to be taxed moreShe and more than a dozen other wealthy Americans recently penned an open letter to 2020 presidential candidates calling for a raise in federal wealth taxes to “substantially fund” things like clean energy, infrastructure and universal childcare.

“I have more than enough,” Disney told “Through Her Eyes.” “And if you’ve got $1 billion, there’s not a thing on this earth you can’t afford.”

Disney heiress on Walt Disney: ‘There are very nice people who are also racist’

In an interview with “Through Her Eyes” host Zainab Salbi, Abigail Disney acknowledges her family’s darker legacies. Her great-uncle Walt Disney has been accused of anti-Semitism, sexism and racism, and the Disney heiress doesn’t shy away from acknowledging her great-uncle’s history. “Sadly, it happens to be the case that there are very nice people who are also racists,” she said.

Disney has gained a lot from her famous grandfather and the fairy-tale world he helped create, but she says she is also cognizant of her family’s darker legacies and how they have hurt people, too. Her great-uncle, Walt Disney, has been accused of anti-Semitism, sexism and racism.

“Sadly, it happens to be the case that there are very nice people who are also racists,” Abigail Disney recalled.

She cited movies like “Song of the South” and characters like Jim Crow in the 1941 film “Dumbo” as examples of her great-uncle Walt’s racist history. Although these films were created before the civil rights movement, Disney says time is no excuse for bigotry.

“We cannot simply say, ‘Oh, everybody was a racist back then,’” she explained. “Many people chose to not be what everyone else was. It takes courage. It takes integrity. It’s a very hard thing to do.”

“But if you decide to be a person who creates culture, then you have to take on all the responsibility of that.”

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of the story used the word “undercover” to describe Abigail Disney’s visit to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. During the interview Disney told Yahoo News that she “went to Anaheim”- the updated story removes the word “undercover.”

Full Episode: ‘We didn’t feel safe’: Disney heiress describes violence in childhood

Disney heiress Abigail Disney joins “Through Her Eyes” to share what it was like to grow up in the Disney family. “My parents were conservative and very strict. And both alcoholics.” She claims she never really felt safe in her own home. “So there was some violence in my home. Not all over the place, not all the time. But when you do get subjected to some violence as a child, you kind of never feel safe again.” Disney also shares the difficulties of growing up in a Republican household, saying that her mother was “the love child of Rush Limbaugh and Phyllis Schlafly.”

Listen to the full episode of the “Through Her Eyes” podcast, and listen to past interviews with Queen Latifah, Aly Raisman and more from Season 1.

The Environmental Protection Agency skirted some of its usual procedures and ethics rules when it overhauled key agency advisory boards.

Associated Press

GAO: EPA skirted procedures in overhaul of science boards

Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press       July 15, 2019

Parade of Champions! USWNT

Occupy Democrats

Live Now

USWNT star Megan Rapinoe sounds more like a President than our “president” — yes… we can be better! http://bit.ly/2G6f3Ei

CNN posted an episode of CNN Replay. 

1 hr

After a ticker tape parade through New York City, USWNT star Megan Rapinoe gives stirring speech to fans with a challenge:

“We have to be better. We have to love more, hate less. We’ve got to listen more and talk less. We’ve got to know that this is everybody’s responsibility… it’s our responsibility to make the world a better place.”http://cnn.it/2LgnReM

US soccer star Megan Rapinoe delivers stirring speech

After a ticker tape parade through New York City, USWNT star Megan Rapinoe gives stirring speech celebrating her teammates. “This group is so resilient, is so tough, has such a sense of humor, is just so badass… We’re chillin’. We’ve got tea sippin’. We’ve got celebrations. We have pink hair and purple hair. We have tattoos and dreadlocks. We’ve got white girls and black girls, and everything in between. Straight girls and gay girls. Hey!” https://cnn.it/2XEYAl9

Posted by CNN on Wednesday, July 10, 2019

These Solar Panels Make Water from Sunlight and Air!

Video – World Economic Forum

July 8, 2019

Backed by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.

📕 Read more: https://wef.ch/2D2SPBP

These solar panels make drinking water from sunlight and air

Backed by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. 📕 Read more: https://wef.ch/2D2SPBP

Posted by Video – World Economic Forum on Monday, July 8, 2019

Climate Crisis Is Pushing Central Americans Out of Their Homes Toward the U.S.

Democracy Now

How the Climate Crisis Is Pushing Central Americans Out of Their Homes Toward the U.S.

July 10, 2019

Listen

As the U.S. continues to crack down on migrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border, we look at one of the under-reported driving factors leading people to flee their home countries: the climate crisis. John Carlos Frey, author of “Sand and Blood: America’s Stealth War on the Mexico Border,” spent time with Central American climate refugees traveling in a caravan toward the United States. He says, “If this drought continues, we’re looking at all-out famine from Central America. …That’s one of the major reasons why they’re coming. … The government doesn’t even acknowledge the fact that there is a climate crisis in Central America.”

Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. John Carlos Frey is with us for the hour discussing his new book, Sand and Blood: America’s Stealth War on the Mexico Border. We’re going to turn now to an underreported force driving people to the border: climate change. This is a clip from John Carlos Frey’s project that he did with the Weather Channel on the climate migration crisis, where he asks several Hondurans about what’s happening to them, why they joined a migrant caravan.

JOHN CARLOS FREY: I find a lot of people who worked on farms and say that they fled because of the drought.

PEDRO CASTILLO: [translated] Listen, the drought was really bad. Really bad drought. The corn cobs were really small.

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Among the farmworkers who joined the caravan in Honduras was Pedro Castillo.

PEDRO CASTILLO: [translated] We always plant so we can have food to eat—rice, beans and corn. Many people, that’s how we survive. A lot of us survive on less than $1 a day.

JOHN CARLOS FREY: [translated] With all due respect, I just want to say, that is a life of poverty. Am I right?

PEDRO CASTILLO: [translated] That is the reality of the Honduran people. We have been absorbed by poverty. And not because—and not because we’re lazy. With Mother Nature, there’s nothing you can do. With the drought, there’s nothing you can do.

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Perhaps the one thing you can do is flee. That’s what Fabiola Diaz and Carlos Salinas are doing. They and their kids are traveling together, even though they didn’t know each other before. They’re not a couple, but they seem like a family. Fabiola and her 2-year-old son Yeltsin come from a Honduran town called Santa Bárbara.

[translated] What type of work do they do there?

FABIOLA DIAZ: [translated] There, I do farm labor. Beans, corn—it’s what’s mostly grown there. Right now, in the year we’re in, the harvest didn’t work out for anyone.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s John Carlos Frey interviewing people, part of the migrant caravan, in Mexico City, headed to the United States. He did this project for the Weather Channel on the climate migration crisis. Would you call these refugees “climate refugees”?

JOHN CARLOS FREY: A hundred percent. There is no other way to refer to them. These are people who have farmed their land for millennia. We’re talking about the region where the Mayans are. So, corn and beans have been grown there for hundreds of years. All of a sudden, the rains come, the crops start to grow, and then they dry up. The rains don’t continue. This has been going on for five years. In some places that I visited in Guatemala, they have 100% crop failure. They’ve been able to harvest absolutely nothing. And most of these communities are based on the agricultural economy. If the crops don’t come in, there is no other job. Everything in the town relies on the harvest.

So, I’ve spoken to people who were living on one tortilla a day. They’ve tried everything. They’ve tried to sell their farm equipment, their farm animals, their land, to stay in country. They look for jobs in the major cities close by, and they still haven’t been able to find work.

The United Nations has placed 2.1 million people from the region—they’ve labeled them as food-insecure. That is the first step right before famine. We are looking at—if this drought continues, we are looking at all-out famine from Central America. And from what I’ve found when I was interviewing these people in the caravan, that’s one of the major reasons why they’re coming. And we’re not reporting on that at all. The government doesn’t even acknowledge the fact that there is a climate crisis in Central America.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Let’s go to another clip from the series that you produced with the Weather Channel on the climate migration crisis. This begins with an attorney who’s working with migrants in a caravan traveling through Mexico to the U.S. border.

ATENAS BURROLA: This is not an invasion. This is a drop in the bucket of what comes to the border every month, every week.

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Atenas Burrola is an attorney from North Carolina who’s part of a group that’s come to Mexico to advise the migrants on U.S. asylum law.

I’m following the story of a young woman who is fleeing because of poverty and hunger. She’s living on a meal a day. Does she qualify for asylum, if that’s the only reason that she’s fleeing?

ATENAS BURROLA: If that is the only reason that she’s fleeing, unfortunately, in the United States, she is not going to qualify for asylum.

JOHN CARLOS FREY: Is she not fleeing for her life? Is she not possibly in danger of her life if she doesn’t get food?

ATENAS BURROLA: She probably is, but the way that the U.S. asylum law is written is that it is for people who are fleeing persecution, not economic insecurity.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was your interview with attorney Atenas Burrola. Talk about that.

JOHN CARLOS FREY: I was asking her—this woman can’t feed her child. She’s in fear for her life. She herself was emaciated. Her child was thin. She couldn’t put any food on the table. A woman, by herself, 25 years old, with a 2-year-old, is making this journey from Honduras to the United States. And I was asking the attorney, “What rights does she have when she gets to the U.S.-Mexico border?” She has none. She cannot claim asylum. Our asylum laws do not allow for someone who is a victim of poverty or hunger to come into the United States.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So, what do you see as the way forward here? Because, clearly, there is still a significant portion of the American population that is rallying to President Trump’s continued insistence on closing the border, and yet more and more people are continuing to come. The president is talking now about mass raids again, threatening mass raids again. Where do you see the country moving?

JOHN CARLOS FREY: I don’t see it getting any better. I don’t want to be a pessimist, but this is the worst I’ve ever seen it, and I’ve been reporting on these issues for a long time. You have a president of the United States who is vilifying these people to the point where it’s OK that they die, to the point where it’s OK that we incarcerate children and we treat them inhumanely. That is OK by our federal government. I don’t see anyone in his party speaking out against these actions or advocating on behalf of migrant children. Children, we’re not advocating for. So this is a serious problem. As long as we have the leader of our country advocating for more of the same, I think we’re going to see more of the same. And it’s very hard for Congress to break through.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Will it take possible unrest in the immigrant and Latino community, at levels we haven’t seen since the immigration protests of 2006, before something will change?

JOHN CARLOS FREY: We’re starting to see it, and we’re starting to see Democratic candidates start to advocate on behalf of these individuals. So, that has become part of the platform. I’ve never seen a presidential candidate say publicly that he would—that he would advocate on behalf of healthcare—

AMY GOODMAN: Or she.

JOHN CARLOS FREY: —for the undocumented. That was a shock to me, that if we get a new healthcare system in this country, that undocumented immigrants would qualify.

AMY GOODMAN: And every single candidate raised their hand, Democratic presidential primary.

JOHN CARLOS FREY: So, I think he’s pushing the candidates in that corner.

AMY GOODMAN: When we last talked to you, you talked about how hundreds of migrants were feared dead in mass graves at the Barry Goldwater bombing range in Arizona. Are there any updates on this?

JOHN CARLOS FREY: There are no updates. The federal government has closed off this region from humanitarian assistance. There is a stretch of land in Arizona that migrants cross through to get to a road. It’s about 30 miles of a bombing range, that Border Patrol agents don’t touch, that human rights people, advocates, humanitarians don’t touch. And we have had 911 calls from this region. We know that people have died there, and we know that people need water there. And the government has forbidden. Year after year, there are petitions to at least put out some form of humanitarian assistance, and we haven’t. I am convinced there are mass graves. There are hundreds of bodies that have been left unrecovered. We’ve been trying for a long time to get in to document that, but we’re not allowed.

AMY GOODMAN: Which brings us to the title of your book, Sand and Blood. Why?

JOHN CARLOS FREY: This is a region of the United States that I think that most people don’t know, a region of desert and mountain, the most inhospitable terrain in the United States. This is the path that we’ve allowed migrants to cross. We’ve seen these gruesome pictures of a father with his child drowned in the Rio Grande, stories of people dying in the deserts, the mass graves. We have a casualty list now. That is the result of a war. If we have thousands upon thousands of people who have died as a result of a policy that has not changed, that feels like war to me. I don’t think there’s a road in New York City, if there is a mass toll of death caused by the traffic light or the bad curve on the street, that it wouldn’t be repaired immediately for safety. We have not changed policy in almost 30 years. And we have a death toll that doesn’t seem to even permeate the members of Congress and the administration.

AMY GOODMAN: What should the presidential candidates be asked?

JOHN CARLOS FREY: They should be asked if they believe that a migrant life is equal to a U.S. citizen’s life. And if so, then you’re going to have to treat them as such.

AMY GOODMAN: We want to thank you very much for joining us, John Carlos Frey, five-time Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter, PBS NewsHour special correspondent. His book is just out. It’s called Sand and Blood: America’s Stealth War on the Mexico Border. To hear our discussion in Spanish, you can go also to our website at democracynow.org, to Democracy Now! en Español.

This is Democracy Now! Democracy Now! is currently accepting applications for year-long, paid video production fellowships here in our New York studio. Learn more at democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González. Thanks so much for joining us.

Honeybees hit by Trump budget cuts!

CNN posted an episode of CNN Replay.

July 9, 2019

Honeybees are getting hit by the Trump administration, as the US Department of Agriculture suspended data collection for its annual Honey Bee Colonies report — a critical tool for understanding the plummeting honeybee population — citing cost cuts. https://cnn.it/2JCdNK9

Honeybees hit by Trump budget cuts

Honeybees are getting hit by the Trump administration, as the US Department of Agriculture suspended data collection for its annual Honey Bee Colonies report — a critical tool for understanding the plummeting honeybee population — citing cost cuts. https://cnn.it/2JCdNK9

Posted by CNN on Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Every Mississippi Beach Is Closed Due to Toxic Algae

Every Mississippi Beach Is Closed Due to Toxic Algae

By Jordan Davidson       July 8, 2019

CrackerClips / iStock / Getty Images Plus
If you’re looking to cool off in the waters of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast, think again.

A toxic algal bloom has made the waters dangerous to humans and their pets. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality has shut down swimming at all of its beaches due to a blue-green harmful algal bloom, according to CNN.

Toxic algae are dangerous to touch and poisonous when swallowed. It can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, the state agency warned.

While the sand on the beaches is still open, the state’s DEQ said beachgoers should avoid water contact or consumption of anything from the waters “until further notice,” as CNN reported. The agency also advised anyone exposed to the water to wash with soap and water and to not eat fish or any other seafood taken from affected areas.

The blooms are not technically algae, but cyanobacteria — aquatic and photosynthetic bacteria. Many things, including changes in water temperature and fertilizer run-off, can trigger its bloom. Once the conditions are right for the cyanobacteria to spawn rapidly, they produce harmful toxins, as The Week reported.

“I had a feeling it was going this way. Water always flows west to east,” Pascagoula resident Bill Kenan told Biloxi ABC affiliate WLOX. “It just keeps going and going and going. I don’t know if it’s ever going to get better. I hope it does.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that the climate crisis and increases in nutrient levels of bodies of water due to fertilizer run-off are potentially causing harmful algal blooms to occur more often and in areas not previously affected, ABC News reported. Warmer waters with a marked increase in surface temperature or a change in sea currents are particularly susceptible to the bloom. A harmful algal bloom can look like foam, scum or mats on the surface of water and can be different colors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This bloom was triggered in part by the opening of the Bonnet Carre spillway in Louisiana, which introduced an excessive amount of freshwater to the coastline, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

The spillway was opened to offset a rising Mississippi River that experienced massive swelling after an especially wet winter that caused flooding in along the river’s coastlines.

The spillway is expected to close mid-July after the river’s waters recede. Experts believe its closure will prompt the algae bloom to dissipate. “Once they close the structure, conditions will start to change pretty quickly,” said John Lopez, of Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, a conservation organization that monitors water conditions throughout the Gulf Coast region, as reported by CBS New Orleans.

That prognosis will offer little relief to residents and tourists along the Mississippi Gulf Coast where temperatures will hover in the mid-90’s all week.

Trump’s USDA Suspends Honeybee Survey

EcoWatch – Bees

Trump’s USDA Suspends Honeybee Survey

Olivia Rosane              July 08, 2019

U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service entomologist Dr. Jeff Pettis examines a bee colony in California. Smith Collection / Gado / Getty Images.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) annual honeybee count has fallen victim to budget cuts, CNN reported Saturday.

The suspension of the Honey Bee Colonies report is at least the third bee-related data set to be halted or reduced under the Trump administration, and comes three weeks after Trump’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved the emergency use of bee-killing pesticide sulfoxaflor on 13.9 million acres. It also comes as the population of bees, which help pollinate a third of edible crops, has been declining since 2006.

“This is yet another example of the Trump administration systematically undermining federal research on food safety, farm productivity and the public interest writ large,” Union of Concerned Scientists economist Rebecca Boehm told CNN.

The survey began in 2015 and tracks the number of honeybees in each state by quarter. The most recent report, scheduled to be released in August, will only include data taken from January 2018 to April 2019, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said in a statement released July 1.

“The decision to suspend data collection was not made lightly but was necessary given available fiscal and program resources,” the statement said.

A USDA spokesperson told CNN the suspension was “temporary” but did not say how long it might last.

The loss of the data set comes at a crucial time for honeybees. A University of Maryland-led study released in June found that U.S. beekeepers lost 38 percent of their colonies last winter, the greatest winter loss since the university’s research began in 2006, The Washington Post reported.

“We don’t seem to be making particularly great progress to reduce overall losses,” Geoffrey Williams, survey co-author and assistant professor of entomology at Auburn University, told The Washington Post.

The survey, organized by the University of Maryland-led Bee Informed Partnership, is the second major colony survey after the USDA count. However, the USDA survey is considered more accurate because it has access to a list of all registered beekeepers in the country, CNN reported.

Mace Vaughan, co-director of the Pollinator Conservation Program at Xerces Society, told CNN the loss of the USDA study meant there was “no redundancy” in the study of bee decline.

“We need some sort of thermometer to be able to determine, at a big scale, are we actually helping to turn around hive loses, to turn around pollinator declines,” Vaughan said. “Understanding what’s going on with honeybees is incredibly important to having a sense of what’s impacting pollinators in general.”

Honeybees have suffered from something called colony collapse disorder since 2006, as The Washington Post explained, when bees began to abandon otherwise healthy colonies.

The Obama administration introduced policies to protect pollinators, but the Trump administration has moved to reverse them, CNN reported. Under Trump, the USDA has also suspended or scaled back two other bee-related surveys: The Cost of Pollination survey, which studied how farmers paid for honeybees, was halted, and the Honey survey has stopped collecting data on honey production from operations with less than five colonies.

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The President’s Latest Rant About Wildfires Is Mind-Numbingly Stupid

Esquire

The President’s Latest Rant About Wildfires Is Mind-Numbingly Stupid

What an embarrassing end for our species.

By Jack Holmes          July 9, 2019

President Trump Departs White House For New JerseyGETTY IMAGES

It’s important to remember that, as the climate crisis deepens and we begin to feel some of its most disastrous effects—more powerful stormsraging wildfiresmassive floodssearing drought—we’ve seen fit to elect as president a guy who knows nothing about anything and cares less. Donald Trump, American president, has a primal sense of what motivates people, of how to identify their weaknesses, and of how the media functions. But he knows absolutely nothing about any actual field of study, and he is not by any account a “reader.” His operating principle is to start with a conclusion about the world, then find a way to justify it. If that means repeating some nonsense over and over again until enough people believe it, then so be it.

Exhibit Z came to us yesterday in an appearance at the White House, when the world’s most powerful man got going about wildfires. “You don’t have to have any forest fires,” you see, but nobody knew about forest management before he came along and told them, you know, and forest management means “cleaning” the forests, which are dirty, unlike in other countries—”forest nations”—where they do the forest management and they don’t have the wildfires. Not like California, anyway, whose governor he talked to and told about the forest management, which the governor had never heard of about a year ago, and then he mocked the idea, but now he agrees with President Smokey. Also, many tremendous things are happening and a lot of people are looking at it.

Aaron Rupar: Trump’s rant during his big environmental speech about how “cleaning” forests is the solution to wildfires and about how nobody had heard of “forest management” before he started talking about it is like an Idiocracy outtake.

This is so unbelievably dumb and insane, and it is a measure of how much we’ve lost touch with reality as a nation that we scarcely even comment on it anymore. The president is ranting about cleaning the forests and how there could be zero wildfires, as if wildfires are not a natural part of forest ecosystems that have spun out of control, perhaps because the human race has thrown things off-balance by pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for more than a century.

More to the point, the president did not somehow invent forest management. It has its own page on the U.S. Forest Service website. He just made this up and kept saying it, and will keep saying it until he thinks people believe it. (Meanwhile, the “forest nation” whose leader he referenced talking to is likely Finland, whose citizens roundly mocked the president last time he trotted this out.) As a true bullshitter, he convinces himself it’s all true along the way.

This is, after all, a guy who just got caught retweeting a meme featuring a fake quote Ronald Reagan supposedly (read: never) said about him. You’d think you would be able to remember whether or not a former president said something about you, but observable reality is not at all relevant to Donald Trump. Will people believe it? Will it make them like me, and think I’m smart and strong? Say it.

 

What’s most shocking, however, is his ability to convince anyone of anything when everything he says is peppered with nonsense like many people are saying and we’re looking at all kinds of things. These monumentally stupid filler sentences are absolutely littered through his diction and would earn the ire of a seventh-grade teacher overseeing a student speech contest. Yet we all seem to have decided that this is not, in fact, completely fucking insane. Sort of like how we learned that, as a federal prosecutor, the president’s now-Secretary of Labor gave a sweetheart deal to an accused child sex trafficker whom the president admitted he was friendly with, and everybody kind of threw up their hands. That’s just how it goes! What a grotesque and embarrassing decline this era has become for our species.

Jack Holmes is the Politics Editor at Esquire.com, where he writes daily and edits the Politics Blog with Charles P Pierce.

Four Pigs and An Escalator

More From Clay Jones

Four Pigs and An Escalator

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As federal prosecutors in New York were bringing new charges against billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, liberals were pointing out his connections to Donald Trump, excluding those with former president Bill Clinton. Conservatives were doing the same thing, except pointing out Epstein’s connections to Clinton and not those with Trump. The thing is, this is not a partisan issue. It’s an issue of rich men protecting other rich men.

One of the fine ladies who proofreads my cartoons told me, “It’s about being above the law and hurting the weak with impunity. If you’re rich enough, the laws don’t apply.” What happens to women, and in this case, underage girls doesn’t take precedence when the accused is a billionaire in the Men’s Club.

Epstein chummed around for decades with celebrities, such as Britain’s Prince Andrew and Bill Cosby, which doesn’t help his case. For decades, his penchant for young women was well known in his social circle. Bill Clinton, whom you may have heard has had his own sordid past with women, was a friend of Epstein’s. Clinton claims he never knew of Epstein’s behavior and only flew on his private jet four times. Flight records show that the number is actually over two dozen times.

His connections to Trump are less clear, but they were friends. One of Epstein’s accusers said in court documents that she was recruited to give Epstein massages while she was working at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump’s private golf resort in Florida. Epstein has been photographed with Trump at the resort. The resort is really popular with Chinese spies and pedophiles.

In 2002, Trump told New York Magazine that Epstein was a “terrific guy” whom he had known for 15 years. He said, “He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

Now, Trump says they were never friends despite calling him “terrific,” “fun to be around,” and a guy he’s known for 15 years. Trump also knew him well enough to know he likes beautiful women as much as he does and that many of them are on the “younger side.” That younger side is where the problems come in.

Epstein is a registered sex offender thanks to a plea deal he struck in Florida, but it’s that plea deal which is his other connection to Donald Trump.

Trump’s Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta was the lead federal prosecutor against Epstein. Thanks to meticulous reporting by The Miami Herald (because journalism is more important today than ever), we now know that Acosta was personally involved in striking a deal that saved Epstein from a trial and federal charges where he could have faced life in prison. Instead, Acosta gave him a deal where Epstein served 13 months in county jail instead of prison, and he was allowed to be picked up six days a week by his personal driver and go to work for up to 12 hours a day. Basically, for 13 months, he was forced to spend the night in jail, but not to actually have to live there.

Hundreds of underage girls were brought to Epstein by his recruiters in his sex ring to give what they were told were massages. Prosecutors did not inform the victims of the plea deal until after a judge approved it, even though federal law requires victims to be informed of major developments involving their complaints. Maybe Acosta didn’t believe a plea deal was a major development.

Last year, the Herald uncovered that Acosta was meeting personally with one of Epstein’s lawyers, who was also a former colleague of Acosta’s. You would think there would be a recusal there because of a conflict of interest.

According to a thank-you note from one of Epstein’s lawyers to Acosta, they were assured by Acosta that none of the identified individuals, potential witnesses, or potential civil claimants would be contacted over the deal. Acosta’s office also agreed to help shield the deal from public scrutiny. The lead prosecutor wrote to Epstein’s lawyers at the time, “I can file the charge in district court in Miami which will hopefully cut the press coverage significantly. Do you want to check that out?”

Do you want to check that out? They were seeking approval from the pedophile’s lawyer on how to file the charges. Now, that lead prosecutor is the nation’s Labor Secretary. This morning, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Senates Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for Acosta to either step down or be removed.

Donald Trump isn’t just friends with pedophiles, sex offenders, and your run-of-the-mill slimy bastards. He’s friends with people who help those slimy bastards cover their slime, which is good for Trump because he’s a degenerate himself. This is a man who’s talked about dating his daughter, has bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy,” has boasted about barging into teenage girls’ dressing rooms, and has been caught coming down an escalator commenting on a child, “I’m going to be dating her in ten years.”

Now, federal prosecutors in New York are charging Epstein for sex trafficking of minors. Hopefully, the same office will be able to go after Trump someday and they will have many options of charges because the only difference between Trump and Epstein is that Epstein got caught.

Trump found it amusing that Epstein likes them on the “younger side,” because that’s how he likes them too.

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