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Surprisingly Sustainable: Oktoberfest’s Green Side

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Some celebrations are almost synonymous with waste. Picture the plastic-bead-strewn streets of New Orleans after Mardi Gras, or the mountains of plastic packaging and wrapping paper after Christmas. For the environmentally conscious, the incredible wastefulness of these occasions is enough to make a Scrooge out of even the most festive individual.

Surprisingly, an environmental hero has arisen from a most unlikely holiday. A celebration that seems to have no other purpose than excessive drinking. No, not St. Patty’s Day (although there are ways to go green then, too!). Friends, we’re talking about Oktoberfest.

Yes. Really.

The Environmental Oscars

Here’s a tidbit that might shock you — it certainly surprised us. Oktoberfest — the real one, that is, held in Munich, Germany, each autumn — is one of the most environmentally friendly events out there. So much so, in fact, that it was awarded the Environmental Oscar in 1997 for its efforts to be as minimally wasteful as possible.

How have Oktoberfest organizers achieved this? Three main aspects contribute to their environmental success:

Disposing of Disposables

In 1991, the city of Munich banned disposable servingware. No more paper plates, no more plastic forks. Instead, food was served on real plates, with real silverware. Drinks were served in glasses, rather than plastic tumblers. This one change reduced waste at the annual festival by over 90 percent. It’s an encouraging statistic for festivals worldwide, especially those that think that waste-free celebrations are beyond their capabilities. After all, Oktoberfest is hardly a small-time operation; it hosts six million visitors each year. If they can go without one-time-use tableware, surely your next backyard barbecue can too!

Organics & Recycling

Gray water from washing all these dishes doesn’t just go down the drain, either. In almost half the festival tents, gray water is reused to flush the toilets (I’ve always wondered why we don’t do this everywhere). Reusing water like this drastically reduces the need for fresh water, and ensures that Oktoberfest gets the most use out of every drop. Much of the food served at Oktoberfest — including the meat — is also organically sourced. And while we could definitely make a strong case for reducing the amount of meat eaten at the bacchanalian beer fest (each year, attendees devour tons of sausages and almost 500,000 chickens), choosing poultry that’s been organically raised does make a huge difference.

Renewable Rejoicing

Since the year 2000, streetlights, toilets and all other public areas of the festival have been powered by renewable energy, making the festival one of the greenest in terms of how it powers its raucous celebrations. This attitude of environmental awareness has filtered through to its vendors, too — approximately 60 percent of them have followed suit and also chosen renewable power sources.

Oktoberfest is one of the purest festivals out there when you look at pure intent. It was originally celebrated to mark the marriage of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig to the Saxon-Hildburghausen Princess Therese on Oct. 12, 1810. These days, it’s a chance to celebrate good beer, great brats and dudes in lederhosen. But the way Munich has focused on creating sustainable Oktoberfest celebrations is an example to all of us that life needn’t be dour and stark to be eco-friendly. In fact, quite the opposite.

Your Own Green Event

So, how can you bring a little of Munich’s environmental sensibilities to your own Oktoberfest celebrations — or any other party, for that matter? It is possible, even if you can’t use gray water to flush your toilet or suddenly switch to renewable energy:

Use e-vite sites like Green Envelope or Paperless Post to create online invites instead of mailing paper ones.
Follow Oktoberfest’s lead and ditch the disposable plates, cups and silverware. If you’re worried about tipsy guests breaking your good dishes, pick up an inexpensive set at Goodwill or Value Village. It’ll likely be the same price as (or cheaper than) disposable stuff, and you can reuse for many parties down the road. Just remember to wash well before use.
Provide bins for compost, recycling and garbage. Often just providing guests options for eco-friendly waste disposal is all you need to do to decrease the amount of waste your party produces.
If you’re going all out for the celebration, rent a costume instead of buying one. Good lederhosen don’t come cheap, and cheap ones won’t last long. Get into the spirit by renting a costume that’ll help you dress the part without taking up space in your closet the rest of the year.
If it’s in your budget, offer your guests organic refreshments and food — organic and/or local chickens, sausage and even beer if you can find it!

We hope you have a fantastic time celebrating good beer, great friends and the crisp arrival of fall. Happy Oktoberfest!

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock

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Surprisingly Sustainable: Oktoberfest’s Green Side

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God help us, Donald Trump tried to dispense energy facts again.

And pretty much nobody is happy about it, except maybe Nestlé.

Since 2011, 23 national parks had ended the sale of plastic water bottles to cut down on trash and litter. Before the ban took effect at the Grand Canyon, for example, water bottles made up 20 percent of the park’s total waste. But on Aug. 16, the Trump administration ended the six-year-old policy that enabled the ban, welcoming plastic bottles back to the Grand Canyon, Zion, and other national parks.

Bottled water companies had lobbied against the Obama-era policy for years. Coincidentally, the National Park Service’s statement on the reversal echoes the industry’s arguments: “It should be up to our visitors to decide how best to keep themselves and their families hydrated during a visit to a national park.”

Lauren Derusha Florez, Corporate Accountability International* campaign director, is calling for park superintendents to resist. “We know that many of our parks want to do away with bottled water,” she wrote in a blog post. “Let’s make sure they know that we support them in that move, even if the current administration doesn’t.”

*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Florez as the campaign director at the Sierra Club.

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God help us, Donald Trump tried to dispense energy facts again.

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California’s carbon market roars back to life.

And pretty much nobody is happy about it, except maybe Nestlé.

Since 2011, 23 national parks had ended the sale of plastic water bottles to cut down on trash and litter. Before the ban took effect at the Grand Canyon, for example, water bottles made up 20 percent of the park’s total waste. But on Aug. 16, the Trump administration ended the six-year-old policy that enabled the ban, welcoming plastic bottles back to the Grand Canyon, Zion, and other national parks.

Bottled water companies had lobbied against the Obama-era policy for years. Coincidentally, the National Park Service’s statement on the reversal echoes the industry’s arguments: “It should be up to our visitors to decide how best to keep themselves and their families hydrated during a visit to a national park.”

Lauren Derusha Florez, Corporate Accountability International* campaign director, is calling for park superintendents to resist. “We know that many of our parks want to do away with bottled water,” she wrote in a blog post. “Let’s make sure they know that we support them in that move, even if the current administration doesn’t.”

*Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Florez as the campaign director at the Sierra Club.

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California’s carbon market roars back to life.

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Trump Is Waiving His Own Ethics Rules to Allow Lobbyists to Make Policy

Mother Jones

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It seems clear now why the Trump administration fought so hard to avoid making public the details of the waivers it granted to White House staffers who might otherwise have been in violation of the president’s self-imposed ethics rules. They show that President Donald Trump, who made “drain the swamp” a campaign battle cry, has enlisted numerous swamp-dwellers—former lobbyists, consultants, corporate executives—to staff key positions in his White House and has granted them broad exemptions to work on issues directly related to their former jobs and clients.

After repeatedly slamming DC lobbyists during the campaign, Trump used one of his first executive orders to lay out ethics rules for his new administration. The January 28 order barred Trump officials from working on issues related to their former employers for at least two years, and these rules applied not only to lobbyists, but to anyone who worked for a business or organization potentially affected by federal policy decisions. The prohibitions were not absolute: Waivers would be available in certain cases.

The Trump administration initially balked when the Office of Government Ethics demanded the White House hand over the waivers it had granted. But after a standoff the administration relented late Wednesday and released about 14 waivers covering White House staffers. They make clear that Trump’s ethics rules are remarkably flexible and that his top staffers don’t need to worry too much about staying on the right side of them. On paper, Trump’s rules are similar to those imposed by President Barack Obama, but it appears that Trump is far more willing to hand out exemptions. At this point in the Obama administration, just three White House staffers had been granted ethics waivers. So far, Trump has granted 14, including several that apply to multiple people.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and adviser Kellyanne Conway were both granted waivers to deal with issues involving their previous employers. In the case of Priebus, this narrowly applies to the Republican National Committee. But Conway is now free to work on issues involving her ex-clients from her previous life as an operative and pollster—clients that included political campaigns, nonprofit activist groups, and corporations.

Conway’s relationships with these clients were murky to begin with; she was never required to disclose who she worked for. We do know that she repped virulently anti-immigration and anti-Muslim groups. The names of some of her corporate clients also have trickled out, including Major League Baseball, Hasbro, American Express, and Boeing. The waiver may have been granted to help smooth the way for Conway after evidence emerged that she continued to operate own her polling and consulting company even after she’d gone to work in the White House—a possible violation of conflict-of-interest laws that drew the attention of congressional Democrats who have begun probing her relationship with the company.

Conway’s waiver was not retroactive, but there is another that specifically allows White House employees to communicate freely with former employers and coworkers at media organizations—and applies back to January 20. Trump’s executive order didn’t simply prohibit any of his hires from working on matters relating to a former employer—it specifically covered “any meeting or communication relating to the performance of one’s official duties.” This means at least two of Trump’s top aides, former Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon and his assistant Julia Hahn, would be prohibited from chatting with their former colleagues at Breitbart about anything work-related—a rule that Bannon appears not to have followed. While not named, it seems likely that protecting the Breitbart alums from ethics complaints was the aim.

Another takeaway from Trump’s waivers is that they appear to be far less restrictive than Obama administration waivers. Many Obama waivers (there were only 10 total granted to White House employees during his administration) were very narrowly tailored. For example, James Jones, Obama’s national security adviser, was granted a waiver to allow him to introduce Bill Clinton at an event for the Atlantic Council, even though Jones had previously worked for the group. John Brennan, at the time one of Obama’s deputy national security advisers, had previously worked for The Analysis Company, and he was granted a waiver to use the company’s data while investigating the so-called “Underwear Bomber” incident. Brennan was not cleared to talk to any of the company’s employees, however.

Trump’s waivers, on the other hand, are broad.

For instance, Trump granted a waiver to Michael Catanzaro, who is the president’s most senior energy policy aide, allowing him to work freely on “broad policy matters and particular matters of general applicability relating to the Clean Power Plan, the WOTUS Waters of the United States rule, and methane regulations.” Catanzaro worked as a registered lobbyist for several oil and gas companies as recently as January, which made the waiver necessary. On his most recent lobbying disclosure form—filed on behalf of one of his clients, natural gas company Noble Energy—Catanzaro wrote that he was working on “EPA and BLM’s proposed and final regulations covering methane emissions from new and existing oil and gas facilities.” Nearly identical language appears in his most recent lobbying disclosure on behalf of another natural gas company, Encana. In other words, Catanzaro is now making policy on the very issues he was paid by corporations to lobby on. There are no restrictions in Catanzaro’s waiver relating to his previous clients.

Another lobbyist turned Trump aide is Shahira Knight, who was previously employed as vice president of public policy for mutual fund giant Fidelity and now serves as Trump’s special assistant for tax and retirement policy. Her waiver grants her permission to work on “matters of general applicability relating to tax, retirement and financial services issues.” Fidelity’s most recent lobbying report—filed while Knight ran its lobbying shop—lists the main issue areas targeted by the company’s lobbyists: finance, retirement, banking, and taxes.

While the Obama administration reluctantly granted waivers for narrow sets of circumstances, the Trump waivers appear to be written to carefully exempt the previous lobbying work done by White House aides.

And this is just the beginning. The administration released only the waivers granted to White House employees—the release does not include waivers granted to administration officials who work for federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the Treasury Department. The White House will turn those waivers over to the Office of Government Ethics on Thursday, but it’s not clear when they will be made public.

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Trump Is Waiving His Own Ethics Rules to Allow Lobbyists to Make Policy

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Obama Slams Trump’s Withdrawal From Paris Deal

Mother Jones

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As President Donald Trump announced his decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement on Thursday, former president Barack Obama released a statement denouncing the move as one that “rejects the future” and reduces American leadership on the international stage.

He also expressed hope that cities and states would take the lead in the fight against climate change, even without the administration’s support.

“I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack,” Obama said. “But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”

The statement, which was released as Trump was speaking from the White House Rose Garden, was a rare rebuke from the former president, who has largely avoided criticizing his successor.

Trump defended his decision to pull the country out of the historic accord, claiming the treaty was “very unfair to the highest level” to Americans. He said he was “elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

Trump’s exit from the Paris accord is his most consequential move so far to undo his predecessor’s legacy in combating global warming. The decision adds the United States to a group of just two countries, Nicaragua and Syria, that have rejected the landmark agreement.

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Obama Slams Trump’s Withdrawal From Paris Deal

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Trump Has No Idea What He Just Did or the Backlash That Awaits

Mother Jones

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The negotiations leading up to the Paris climate accord involved years of delicate diplomacy and thousands of voices offering guidance. President Donald Trump’s handling of the decision to leave was the polar opposite.

Despite claiming that he’s been “hearing from a lot of people,” Trump doesn’t appear to have any more detailed knowledge of climate change or the 2015 deal now than when he first pledged to cancel it on the campaign trail. The “lots of people” he’s heard from include a disproportionate number of climate change deniers, even though there are far more leaders in industry and on both sides of the aisle advocating for the US to remain in the agreement. They have argued that the Paris deal is important to the US, not just for its environmental merits, but also so that the country is not excluded from the rest of the world, both economically and politically.

His months of hints and delays on a decision have drawn more than one comparison to The Bachelor reality show, but one with the highest of stakes. He recently went to the strongest US allies at the G-7 without a clear answer, leading the G-6 to isolate the US when it issued its communiqué that reaffirmed the agreement. As Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent noted, Trump’s nationalist case to exit Paris “does not allow space for recognition of what the Paris deal really is, which is constructive global engagement that serves America’s long term interests, as part of a system of mutually advantageous compromises.”

Trump doesn’t have any sense of the backlash that’s coming for him and the US now that he’s kickstarted the process of pulling out, which won’t be official for another three years. Two factors will especially hurt the US: First, the world has been dealing with the US as an unreliable partner on climate change for more than two decades, and leaders still well remember the other times the US reversed course on its promises; second, the world has never been more aligned in favor of action, making climate change a much bigger factor in the US relationship with its allies in non-climate related issues—from trade to defense to immigration—than it once was.

Trump officials might have taken note of the consequences of US inconsistency with the 1997 Kyoto climate treaty. President Bill Clinton signed the treaty, which had binding targets, but never submitted it to the Senate for ratification. In 2001, Bush officials declared Kyoto dead and withdrew the US from the agreement. International backlash ensued. Some in the Bush administration, which like Trump’s was split on how to handle Kyoto, came to regret how it was handled for the damage it did to the standing of the US in the world.

“Kyoto—this is not talking out of school—was not handled as well as it should have been,” Bush’s Secretary of State* Colin Powell said in 2002. “And when the blowback came I think it was a sobering experience that everything the American president does has international repercussions.”

In her 2011 memoir, then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice detailed the reaction Bush faced in meetings with European leaders. Because of the way the administration handled the abrupt withdrawal, “we suffered through this issue over the years: drawing that early line in the sand helped to establish our reputation for ‘unilateralism.’ We handled it badly.” Rice called it a “self-inflicted wound that could have been avoided.”

US withdrawal also shifted the power dynamics across the world and gave Russia, which signed the agreement, greater leverage in international affairs. Russia’s ratification became pivotal to the treaty entering into force, and in turn, it used its ratification to gain Europe’s backing to enter the World Trade Organization, even while the US still had outstanding concerns. President Vladimir Putin noted in 2004 that the “EU has met us halfway in talks over the WTO and that cannot but affect positively our position vis-a-vis the Kyoto Protocol.” Paris has already met the threshold needed to go into effect, but Russia is still pursuing a similar role and reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris accord today, seasoned with some light trolling: “Of course the effectiveness of implementing this convention without the key participants, perhaps, will be hindered,” a Kremlin spokesperson told CNN. “But there is no alternative as of now.”

We’re decades away from the Kyoto treaty now, but many experts expect a US exit from Paris not to weaken the world’s resolve in addressing climate change as much as it will create a power vacuum other countries might be eager to fill. Andrew Light, a senior fellow with the World Resources Institute, says it is “definitely going to hurt the US with respect to other countries sitting down and negotiating on anything the US is interested in.” Light, who was a State Department climate official in the Obama administration, argued, “We’re creating a vacuum in parts of the world where we have very clear security interests, not just climate, but security in North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. It creates an opening that China, the EU, and even India can step in and fill.”

Conservatives have issued similar warnings.

In a New York Times op-ed earlier this month, George Shultz, a former Cabinet member of the Reagan and Nixon administrations, and Climate Leadership Council’s Ted Halstead wrote, “Global statecraft relies on trust, reputation and credibility, which can be all too easily squandered. The United States is far better off maintaining a seat at the head of the table rather than standing outside. If America fails to honor a global agreement that it helped forge, the repercussions will undercut our diplomatic priorities across the globe, not to mention the country’s global standing and the market access of our firms.”

It’s little surprise that Trump’s own secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, agrees, preferring the US to retain a seat at the table.

To find the kind of momentum it eventually gained to enter into force in record time, negotiators in Paris had to bridge differences between developing and industrialized nations. “One of the great achievements of Paris, but sometimes overlooked, is it gave a very strong signal that climate change is no longer an isolated area of diplomacy,” Light says. For example, climate change and renewable energy became building blocks in the US relationship with India, leading eventually to a bilateral commitment on climate change in the run-up to Paris.

While the US retreats, other nations are going to be building bridges with China as it curbs its sizeable greenhouse gas footprint. That’s already happening: This week, the EU and China engaged in a climate summit where they signaled their “highest political commitment” to Paris, just as Trump pulls out. This will also not help the US president in his much-vaunted fight against terrorism. He’s losing goodwill not just with Europe, but with partners in developing nations that stood to benefit from the $3 billion commitment the US had made to climate finance—another commitment that Trump won’t deliver on. That means losing one of the main ways the US has built friendly relationships with countries that can otherwise be fraught with tension. Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy offers China as an example: “The South China Sea. Human rights. Trade. Currency manipulation. When U.S.-China relations are discussed we often ascribe these issues some level of tension. However, our countries’ cooperation has historically been more cordial and productive in one area: environmental protection.”

Union of Concerned Scientists’ Director of Strategy and Policy Alden Meyer, a longtime expert on the UN climate process, compared the US to the cartoon character Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip, always taking away the football from Charlie Brown at the very last moment. The rest of the world is likely to become weary of the US constantly taking away the ball when it comes time to negotiate tough issues like trade and terror, which Trump has sought to champion.

Or as United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres put it this week, countries all over the world have only two options on climate: “Get on board or get left behind.”

* Corrected

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Trump Has No Idea What He Just Did or the Backlash That Awaits

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Hillary Clinton Is Out of Fucks

Mother Jones

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Hillary Clinton appeared at Recode Wednesday in conversation with founders Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, and to steal a headline from myself, she is out of fucks.

It was fascinating to watch. She didn’t hold back. You can watch the full thing below or continue on for some highlights.

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Here are some good bits, courtesy of the recode live blog:

On emails!!!

“The over riding issue that affected the election that I had any control over — because I had no control over the Russians. Too bad about that — was the use of my emails. The way that it was used was very damaging. The New York times covered it like Pearl harbor.

On Goldman Sachs speeches

“I have to say, Walt I never thought someone would throw out my entire career…because I made a couple of speeches…Men got paid for the speeches they made…I got paid for the speeches I made…I take responsibility for every decision I made, but that’s not why I lost”

On the vast right-wing conspiracy
“What is hard for people to accept, although now after the election there’s greater understanding, is that there are forces in our country…who have been fighting rear guard actions for as long as I’ve been alive…We were on a real roll as a country despite assassinations, despite setbacks, expanding rights to people who never had them in any country was frankly thrilling. I believe then as I believe now that we’re never done with this work. Part of the challenge is to maintain the focus and energy to move forward but you have to understand the other side is never tired either.”

On fake news
“Fake news…lies that’s a good word too…The other side was using content that was just flat out false and delivering it in a very personalized way. Above the radar screen and below.”

On the DNC

“I inherit nothing from the Democratic party. It was bankrupt. It was on the verge of insolvency. I had to inject money into the DNC for it to keep going.”

On the RNC

“They raised…best estimates are close to $100 million…to build this data foundation. They beta tested it. They ran hundreds of thousands of surveys. Trump becomes the nominee and is given this tried and true…platform.”

On Russia collusion
“I think it’s fair to ask how did that actually influence the campaign and how did they know what messages to deliver. Who told them? Who were they coordinating with or colluding with?…The Russians in my opinion could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided by Americans.”

“Within one hour of the Access Hollywood tapes being leaked, the Russians or say Wikileaks—same thing—dumped the John Podesta emails. They were run of the mill emails. “Stuff that were so common. Within one hour they dumped them and then began to weaponize them. They had their allies like Infowars say the most outlandish, absurd lies you could imagine. They had to be ready for that.”

On Putin

“It’s important that Americans…understand that Putin wants to bring us down. He was an old KGB agent.”

On Obama

“Barack Obama saved the economy and he doesn’t get the credit he deserves, I have to say that because people don’t know that.” Clinton re: democrats not investing in creating content.

This post is being updated.

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Hillary Clinton Is Out of Fucks

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Hacks, Leaks, and Tweets: Everything We Now Know About the Attack on the 2016 Election

Mother Jones

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The drumbeat of revelations over the past several weeks has been overwhelming. So we’ve created this timeline—from the hacking of the Democratic National Committee through the aftermath of Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey—to help you follow this scandal threatening the presidency.


April 2016: The Democratic National Committee contacts the FBI about suspicious computer activity and hires cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, which ties the hacking to Russian intelligence.

June 15: Guccifer 2.0, a persona later connected to the Russians, takes credit for the DNC hack and begins posting documents.

Mary Altaffer/AP

July 5: FBI Director James Comey announces the bureau found no evidence to support criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email server as secretary of state. But he adds that Clinton and her staff were “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information. Donald Trump tweets, “No charges. Wow! #RiggedSystem.”

July 22: Three days before the Democratic convention, WikiLeaks publishes nearly 20,000 hacked DNC emails. Some indicate that party officials favored Clinton over Bernie Sanders, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who resigns as party chair. Spread in part by Twitter bots, the emails further pit Clinton and Sanders supporters against each other.

July 24: Trump’s future CIA director, Rep. Mike Pompeo, tweets, “Need further proof that the fix was in from Pres. Obama on down? BUSTED: 19,252 Emails from DNC Leaked by WikiLeaks.” (Pompeo later deletes the tweet.)

July 27: Trump calls for Russia to hack Clinton’s email: “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Late July: The FBI begins to investigate contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Help MoJo mount a truly independent investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. Make a tax-deductible monthly or one-time donation today.

Aug 8: Longtime Trump confidant and political dirty trickster Roger Stone boasts to a GOP group in Florida about WikiLeaks’ founder: “I actually have communicated with Julian Assange…There’s no telling what the October surprise may be.”

Aug 21: Stone tweets about Clinton campaign CEO John Podesta: “Trust me, it will soon be the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary.”

#CrookedHillary #WikiLeaks #LockHerUp Seth Wenig/AP

Aug 27: After being briefed on classified information, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid sends a letter to Comey urging an investigation: “The prospect of individuals tied to Trump, WikiLeaks and the Russian government coordinating to influence our election raises concerns of the utmost gravity.”

Sept 9: Guccifer 2.0 communicates online with Stone about voter turnout and Democratic strategy.

Sept 15: Guccifer 2.0 posts stolen Democratic Party documents strategizing about battleground states.

Sept 26: In the first presidential debate, Trump suggests the DNC hack could be the work of China or “somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

Oct 1: Stone tweets, “Wednesday @HillaryClinton is done. #Wikileaks.”

Oct 3: Stone tweets, “I have total confidence that @wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon #LockHerUp.”

Oct 7: US intelligence agencies announce they are “confident” the Russian government aimed to interfere in the election and collaborated in the DNC leaks. Later in the day, a 2005 Access Hollywood video emerges in which Trump brags about sexually assaulting women. Within an hour, WikiLeaks begins releasing several thousand emails stolen from Podesta.

Oct 10: “I love WikiLeaks!” Trump declares at a campaign rally.

Oct 11: The Obama White House announces it is considering retaliation against Russia for cyberattacks.

Oct 12: The Wall Street Journal reports the FBI suspects Russian intelligence hacked Podesta’s emails. Stone tells a Miami TV station that he has “back-channel communications” with Assange.

Oct 19: During the final debate, Clinton says Trump would be Putin’s “puppet” if elected and rebukes his call to hack her email. “You encouraged espionage against our people.”

Oct 28: Comey notifies Congress that the FBI is reopening the Clinton matter, after a criminal probe into disgraced Rep. Anthony Weiner reveals his laptop contains emails between his wife, Huma Abedin, and Clinton, her boss.

Oct 31: At a campaign rally, Trump says, “It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made…where they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution…What he did was the right thing.”

Nov 8: Trump is elected president.

Nov 15: National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers remarks about Russia and WikiLeaks, “This was a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.”

Jan 4: Trump tweets, “Julian Assange said ‘a 14 year old could have hacked Podesta’—why was DNC so careless? Also said Russians did not give him the info!”

Jan 6: The CIA, the FBI, and the NSA concur Russia tried to help Trump win via hacking operations involving Guccifer 2.0, DC Leaks, and WikiLeaks.

Jan 10: At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Comey declines to say whether the FBI is investigating Trump campaign ties to Russia. He notes that Russian hackers also attacked the Republican National Committee but that none of that material was released.

Jan 11: Trump acknowledges the Russians hacked the DNC: “I think it was Russia.”

Jan 14: Rep. John Lewis tells NBC’s Chuck Todd that he does not consider Trump to be “a legitimate president,” and he says he won’t attend Trump’s inauguration: “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”

Jan 15: Incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus says Trump has confidence in the FBI director: “We have had a great relationship with him over the last several weeks. He’s extremely competent.”

Jan 20: Trump is sworn in as president.

Jan 22: At a White House event, Trump greets Comey: “Oh, there’s Jim. He’s become more famous than me.”

Andrew Harrer/CNP/ZUMA

Jan 24: The FBI interviews national security adviser Michael Flynn about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

Jan 26: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warns the Trump White House that Flynn lied about his conversations with Kislyak and is vulnerable to blackmail by the Kremlin.

Jan 27: Trump and Comey have a one-on-one dinner at the White House, where, it is later reported, Trump asks Comey to swear his political loyalty. Comey declines.

Jan 30: Trump fires Yates after she refuses on constitutional grounds to defend his travel ban targeting seven majority-Muslim countries.

Feb 13: After the Washington Post reveals Flynn lied about his conversations with Kislyak, Flynn resigns.

It’s up to the public to make sure the truth prevails. Help us investigate the Russia scandal with a tax-deductible donation today.

Feb 19: Following a meeting with Comey, the Senate Intelligence Committee sends letters to more than a dozen agencies, groups, and individuals asking them to preserve all communications related to Russia’s 2016 election interference.

March 2: In the wake of revelations that Attorney General Jeff Sessions failed during his confirmation hearings to disclose two conversations with Kislyak, Sessions announces, “I have now decided to recuse myself from any existing or future investigations of any matter relating in any way to the campaigns for president of the United States.”

March 4: Based on no evidence, Trump tweets, “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

March 7: In the wake of intense media coverage of Trump’s wiretapping claim, WikiLeaks releases more than 8,000 CIA files, code-named “Vault 7.”

March 8: Former NSA Director Michael Hayden says, “I’m now pretty close to the position that WikiLeaks is acting as…an agent of the Russian Federation.”

March 20: During a public hearing held by the House Intelligence Committee, Comey confirms the FBI is investigating possible “coordination” between the Trump campaign and Russia. He debunks Trump’s claims of surveillance by Obama: “I have no information that supports those tweets.”

March 27: “Trump Russia story is a hoax,” Trump tweets.

April 12: Asked if it’s “too late” for him to request Comey’s resignation, Trump tells Fox Business, “No, it’s not too late, but you know, I have confidence in him. We’ll see what happens. You know, it’s going to be interesting.”

April 30: Trump again casts doubts on the election attack, telling CBS News’ John Dickerson, “Could’ve been China. Could’ve been a lot of different groups.”

May 2: Trump tweets Comey is “the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton” and the “Trump/Russia story was an excuse used by the Democrats as justification for losing the election.”

May 3: Comey tells the Senate Judiciary Committee, “It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we may have had some impact on the election,” but says he reopened the Clinton probe because Abedin had forwarded “hundreds and thousands of emails, some of which contain classified information.”

First week of May: Comey seeks more resources for the Trump-Russia investigation.

May 8: Trump tweets, “The Russia-Trump collusion story is a total hoax, when will this taxpayer funded charade end?” Former National Intelligence Director James Clapper tells Congress that by sowing doubts, Trump “helps the Russians” damage the US political system.

May 9: The FBI corrects Comey’s testimony: Only “a small number” of Abedin emails were forwarded, few contained classified information, and none were new. The same day, Trump fires Comey via a letter delivered to FBI headquarters. Comey, in Los Angeles, learns of the news via a TV screen and initially thinks it’s a prank. Trump’s letter says he was prompted by Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote a three-page memo critical of Comey’s handling of the Clinton probe. Trump’s letter also claims Comey personally absolved him on three separate occasions.

May 10: Trump unleashes a tweetstorm, including, “Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!”

Alexander Shcherbak/TASS/ZUMA

Meanwhile, at Putin’s request, Trump greets Kislyak and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the Oval Office, where a Russian state-sponsored photographer is the only media allowed in. Trump tells them Comey was “a real nut job” and that firing him took “great pressure” off Trump with regard to Russia.

May 11: Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies that, contra White House statements, the Russia probe is “highly significant” and “Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day.” Trump tells NBC’s Lester Holt a new version of why he fired Comey: “I decided to just do it. I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.'”

May 12: Trump tweets, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

May 15: The Post reports that Trump disclosed highly classified intelligence on ISIS to Lavrov and Kislyak during their Oval Office meeting. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker says the White House is “in a downward spiral” and “has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order.”

May 16: The Times reports that Comey kept detailed memos on his interactions with Trump—including when Trump pressured him at an Oval Office meeting in February to shut down the FBI investigation into Flynn. “I hope you can let this go,” Trump told Comey.

May 17: Amid rising turmoil on Capitol Hill, including talk of possible impeachment of Trump for obstruction of justice, the Senate Intelligence Committee seeks Comey’s memos and invites him to testify. Rosenstein appoints former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as a special counsel overseeing the continuing FBI investigation.

See our entire updated Trump-Russia timeline dating back to the 1980s.

Link:

Hacks, Leaks, and Tweets: Everything We Now Know About the Attack on the 2016 Election

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Democrats Don’t Brag Enough About the Stuff They Do

Mother Jones

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A couple of days ago Paul Krugman wrote about the Trump double-cross:

Let’s talk about West Virginia, which went Trump by more than 40 percentage points, topped only by Wyoming. What did West Virginians think they were voting for?

They are, after all, residents of a poor state that benefits immensely from federal programs: 29 percent of the population is on Medicaid, almost 19 percent on food stamps. The expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare is the main reason the percentage of West Virginians without health insurance has halved since 2013.

….Trumpcare, the budget office tells us, would cause 23 million people to lose health insurance, largely through cuts to Medicaid….Then we need to add in the Trump budget, which calls for further drastic cuts in Medicaid, plus large cuts in food stamps and in disability payments. What would happen to West Virginia if all these Trump policies went into effect? Basically, it would be apocalyptic.

….So many of the people who voted for Donald Trump were the victims of an epic scam by a man who has built his life around scamming. In the case of West Virginians, this scam could end up pretty much destroying their state. Will they ever realize this, and admit it to themselves? More important, will they be prepared to punish him the only way they can — by voting for Democrats?

Since I happened to be chatting about this yesterday, I want to offer an alternative explanation for what’s going on here. More accurately, I guess, it’s a supplementary explanation, since there’s not much question that Donald Trump has indeed pulled a very long con on voters like the ones in West Virginia.

Basically it’s this: what do you expect if Democrats don’t support their own policies? For the past five years, Republicans have battered Obamacare as the most horrific policy ever enacted. Democrats have—what? Hidden under rocks, mostly. Moderates looked at the polls and decided to avoid even talking about Obamacare. Progressives mostly scorned it as a piece of crap and spent their energy explaining why we should all support single-payer instead. So what’s the result? Lots of people think Obamacare is horrific. After all, that’s what one side says, and the other side hardly even fights back.

West Virginians on Medicaid probably have no idea they’re getting it via Obamacare. West Virginians who buy insurance from Healthcare.gov probably have no idea they’re insured via Obamacare. West Virginians who got a payroll tax break early in the Obama years probably have no idea they even got it, let alone that it came from Democrats. West Virginians who got new roads or schools from the stimulus program probably have no idea it came from Democrats. West Virginians who got an increase in the minimum wage in 2007-09 probably have no idea it was passed by Democrats.

On the other hand, they certainly do know that Obamacare is destroying the nation; that Democrats want to take away their guns; that Mexicans took away all their jobs; that Obama wanted to let a flood of ISIS terrorists into the country; and that fanatical leftists want to allow men into their daughters’ bathrooms.

Republicans are going to say what they’re going to say. There’s not much you can do to stop them from lying. What you can do is to loudly and proudly demand credit for the stuff you’ve done. If no one really knows that you subsidized their insurance or provided them with Medicaid or raised their wages or built them new schools, you can hardly expect them to vote for you.

Link:  

Democrats Don’t Brag Enough About the Stuff They Do

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The Blue-Slip Rule Is On Its Last Legs

Mother Jones

The Washington Post confirms what we’ve already heard about Senate Republicans doing away with the blue-slip rule:

Leaders are considering a change to the Senate’s “blue slip” practice, which holds that judicial nominations will not proceed unless the nominee’s home-state senators signal their consent to the Senate Judiciary Committee….Removing the blue-slip obstacle would make it much easier for Trump’s choices to be confirmed. Although Trump and Senate Republicans have clashed early in his presidency, they agree on the importance of putting conservatives on the federal bench.

….The Senate acted Thursday on Trump’s first appeals-court nomination, elevating U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar of Kentucky to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

….“Eliminating the blue slip is essentially a move to end cooperation between the executive and legislative branch on judicial nominees, allowing nominees to be hand-picked by right-wing groups,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, wrote in a memo this week. She pointed out that the vacancy for which Thapar is nominated exists only because McConnell refused to return a blue slip for Obama’s nominee, Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Lisabeth Tabor Hughes. The seat has been vacant since 2013, and Tabor Hughes never received a hearing, because blue slips were not returned.

Christopher Kang, who advised Obama on judicial nominations, said that was the reason 17 of the president’s picks did not receive hearings, killing the nominations. But the impact was even greater than that, because Obama gave up on trying to find nominees in some states, such as Texas, with two Republican senators. One vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, has been open for five years.

Were Republicans snickering in private for six years because Democrats continued to be Boy Scouts during the Obama presidency, respecting the blue-slip rule despite blanket Republican opposition of the kind that Republicans now say will prompt them to kill it? Probably. Was it the right thing to do anyway? I guess I’m still unsure. But it sure doesn’t look like it.

The Brookings table above shows the effect of all this for circuit court vacancies. The absolute numbers aren’t huge, but both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama simply gave up nominating judges in states where there were any Republican senators. They would object as a matter of course and their objections would be honored. George Bush, by contrast, continued nominating judges everywhere. Democratic senators sometimes objected, but not always—and Republicans often ignored their objections anyway when they controlled the Senate.

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The Blue-Slip Rule Is On Its Last Legs

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