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EPA science adviser says clearing board of experts leaves “huge void.”

The nation’s largest privately owned coal company, Murray Energy, just filed a lawsuit against the Last Week Tonight host over the show’s recent segment. Oliver had criticized the company’s CEO, Robert Murray, for acting carelessly toward miners’ safety.

Murray Energy’s complaint stated that the segment was a “meticulously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation” of Murray by broadcasting “false, injurious, and defamatory comments.”

Oliver shouldn’t be too concerned, according to Ken White, a First Amendment litigator at Los Angeles firm, who told the Daily Beast that the complaint was “frivolous and vexatious.”

The lawsuit is hardly a shocking development. Before the show aired, Oliver received a cease-and-desist letter from the company. He noted that Murray has a history of filing defamation suits against news outlets (most recently, the New York Times).

Oliver said in the episode, “I know that you are probably going to sue me, but you know what, I stand by everything I said.”

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EPA science adviser says clearing board of experts leaves “huge void.”

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5 Appliances You Should Be Cleaning (& Helpful Tips for Cleaning Them Efficiently)

Clean my appliances? you may ask. I thought they were supposed to make life easier, not harder!! Well, yes. But occasionally cleaning appliances will not only keep them fresher and cleaner, it will also help them work more efficientlyandlast longer. And its a simple procedure once you know how. Here are a few appliances that are likely getting ignored during spring cleaning chores, but shouldn’t be.

1. Washing Machines

Does your washing machine have a weird, moldy smell?Then it needs a little TLC. Over time,mold and bacteriado tend to collect in washing machines, especially front loaders.

Try one of these fixes (or all of them if the appliance is really smelly):

  1. Wipe around and under the rubber door seals.
  2. Pull out the detergent drawer and give it a good scour.
  3. Pour 1 cup of vinegar into the detergent dispenser. Follow up with a hot water or sanitary wash cycle.

To help prevent odor build-up in a front-loading machine, leave the detergent drawer, as well as the door, open between uses. Make sure small children and pets wont be able to get inside.

2. Dryers

Yes, it’s important to remove the flint from the dryer after every load — but that’s not enough. If you use fabric softener in your wash, you will need to remove the lint screen occasionally and wash it with soap and water. This will remove softener build-up that tends to interfere with the dryers functionality. Let the screen dry completely before replacing it. In addition, once a year, you should have ahandymanclean the lint out of your dryers ductwork to eliminate a potential fire hazard.

3. Stainless Steel Appliances

Don’t let the name fool you. Stainless steel items still need to be cleaned. Heres how to do thatwithout scratching their elegant surface:

  1. Wipe down with warm soapy water, using a soft cloth or a sponge.
  2. Rinse off with clean water. This is especially important for your stainless steel range, which might otherwise develop a permanent soap stain when you heat it.
  3. Buff with a soft, dry cloth.
  4. Never use abrasive cleansers or pads on stainless steel.

DID YOU KNOW? An environmentally safe stainless steel conditioner is great for quick touchups, and prevention of annoying fingermarks and grease stains. It also leaves your appliances nice and shiny. Use a soft cloth and always apply in the direction of the grain.

4. Ovens

Have you ever made a lasagna that overflowed and landed on the oven floor? When that happens, make life easier on yourself; deal with it ASAP. Sprinkle the overflow with salt immediately (it will help loosen the residue) and finish your cooking process. After turning off the oven, take out the casserole dish. Scrub the floor with a damp sponge; be careful to avoid contact with the oven racks, which will still be very hot. Enjoy your dinner!

HELPFUL HINT: The salt trick also works miracles with burned food in the bottom of non-coated metal cooking pans.

5. Dishwashers

Yes, your dishwasher is regularlyexposed to soap and water, but italso dealswith leftover food, grease and soap scum. (Yuck!) Giving it a good cleanse will increase its efficiency. Remove the bottom rack and clear particles out of the drain. Next, place a dishwasher-safe container full of white vinegar (about 1 cup) on the upper rack and run a hot-water cycle to remove grease and odors. If the interior is stained, sprinkle 1 cup ofbaking sodaover the bottom surface. Once again, run a hot-water cycle a short one will be fine this time.

Laura Firszt writes fornetworx.com.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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5 Appliances You Should Be Cleaning (& Helpful Tips for Cleaning Them Efficiently)

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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 Is Already Guilty of Aiding Putin’s Attack on America

Mother Jones

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The Trump-Russia scandal is the subject of multiple investigations that may or may not unearth new revelations, but this much is already certain: Donald Trump is guilty.

We don’t need additional information about the Russian covert scheme to undermine the 2016 campaign, or about the curious interactions between Team Trump and Russia, or about Trump pressuring and then firing FBI Director James Comey, to reach the judgment that the president of the United States engaged in wrongdoing.

From the start, Trump and his crew have claimed they had nothing to do with the hack-and-leak operation mounted by Russian intelligence to help Trump nab the presidency. They have dismissed the matter as fake news, and they have insisted there is no issue because there has been no proof that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia. In May, for instance, Trump proclaimed, “Believe me, there’s no collusion.” Nothing to see; move along.

Explicit collusion may yet be proved by the FBI investigation overseen by special counsel Robert Mueller or by other ongoing probes. But even if it is not, a harsh verdict can be pronounced: Trump actively and enthusiastically aided and abetted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plot against America. This is the scandal. It already exists—in plain sight.

Did Team Trump conspire with the Kremlin? Here’s a timeline of everything we now know about the attack on the 2016 election.

As soon as the news broke a year ago that the Russians had penetrated the Democratic National Committee’s computer systems, Trump launched a campaign of denial and distraction. For months, he refused to acknowledge the Kremlin’s role. He questioned expert and government findings that pinned the blame on Moscow. He refused to condemn Putin. Far from treating these acts of information warfare seriously, he attempted to politicize and delegitimize the evidence. Meanwhile, he and his supporters encouraged more Russian hacking. All told, Trump provided cover for a foreign government’s attempt to undermine American democracy. Through a propaganda campaign of his own, he helped Russia get away with it. As James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, testified to Congress this spring, Trump “helps the Russians by obfuscating who was actually responsible.”

On June 15, 2016, the day after the Washington Post reported that the DNC had been hacked and that cybersecurity experts had identified two groups linked to the Russian government as the perps, Trump’s campaign issued a statement blaming the victim: “We believe it was the DNC that did the ‘hacking’ as a way to distract from the many issues facing their deeply flawed candidate and failed party leader.” The intent was obvious: to impede somber consideration of the Russian intervention, to have voters and reporters see it as just another silly political hullabaloo.

Help us dig deep on Trump’s ties to Russia. Make a tax-deductible monthly or one-time donation to Mother Jones today.

In the following weeks, Trump continued to claim the Russia story was fiction. After WikiLeaks dumped nearly 20,000 DNC emails—a move that nearly blew up the Democratic convention—Trump tweeted, “The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me.” Two days later, he proclaimed at a news conference, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Trump supporters including Rep. Mike Pompeo, who would become Trump’s CIA director, and Roger Stone, the longtime political dirty trickster, cheered on WikiLeaks.

By midsummer, numerous cyber experts had bolstered the conclusion that Russia was behind the hacks. And President Barack Obama echoed those findings. So anyone paying attention to the facts—say, a presidential candidate and his advisers—would have been aware of this fundamental point. Indeed, in August, during his first intelligence briefing as the Republican presidential nominee, Trump was reportedly told that there were direct links between the hacks and the Russian government.

Still, he didn’t change his tune. During a September 8 interview with RT, the Kremlin-controlled broadcaster that has been accused of disseminating fake news and propaganda, Trump discounted the Russian connection: “I think maybe the Democrats are putting that out. Who knows, but I think it’s pretty unlikely.” (Yes, he did this on RT.) He repeated a similar line at the first presidential debate at the end of that month, with his famous reference to how the DNC hacker “could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay?”

The Spy Who Wrote the Trump-Russia Memos: It Was “Hair-Raising” Stuff

Private experts and US intelligence had already determined that Russia had pulled off this caper. Trump had been told this. Yet he continued to deny Russia’s culpability, actively protecting Moscow.

Many Republicans followed his lead. Trump’s stance—treating a widely shared conclusion as controversial speculation—essentially foreclosed a vigorous and bipartisan response to the Moscow intervention. It is hard to imagine how this did not embolden Russian intelligence and reinforce Putin’s belief that he had backed the right horse.

On October 7, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence blew the whistle on Moscow, issuing a statement that the DNC hack and related cyberattacks had been authorized by “Russia’s senior-most officials.” Yet Trump remained on the side of the enemy. That same day, the now notorious grab-them-by-the-pussy video surfaced—and less than an hour after that story broke, WikiLeaks began releasing thousands of stolen emails from John Podesta, the Clinton campaign’s chairman. Trump’s response, at the second presidential debate: “I notice, anytime anything wrong happens, they like to say ‘the Russians.’ Well, Hillary Clinton doesn’t know if it’s the Russians doing the hacking. Maybe there is no hacking.” The next day at a campaign rally, Trump, citing some of the Podesta emails, exclaimed, “I love WikiLeaks!”

What could be better for Putin? The US government had called him out, yet the GOP presidential candidate was discrediting this conclusion. Trump made it tougher for Obama and the White House to denounce Putin publicly—to do so, they feared, would give Trump cause to argue they were trying to rig the election against him.

At the final debate, Clinton accurately summed up Trump’s position: “It’s pretty clear you won’t admit that the Russians have engaged in cyberattacks against the United States of America, that you encouraged espionage against our people.” Trump replied, “Our country has no idea” who pulled off the hacks.

Read about the disturbing Trump-Russia dossier, whose existence was first reported by MoJo’s David Corn.

After the election, he maintained this stance. “It’s time for the country to move on,” he said in December. Two weeks later, after the US intelligence establishment released a report concluding Putin had implemented this covert op to install Trump in the White House, the president-elect compared the intelligence community to Nazi Germany. Though he did at one point concede Russia was the culprit, Trump continued calling the Russia story a hoax whipped up by Democrats and eventually reverted to form, asserting that the hacks might have been waged by China or others. And he still showed no signs of confronting Putin. At the Russian leader’s request, he jovially hosted the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in the Oval Office—and then disclosed top-secret information to them. Moreover, he did this the day after brazenly ousting Comey, who was overseeing the bureau’s probe of Moscow’s meddling and links between Trump associates and Russia.

It’s been common for political observers to say the Trump-Russia controversy has generated a great deal of smoke, but the amount of fire is yet to be determined. It’s true that the various links tying Trump and his associates to Russia have yet to be fully explained. Many questions remain: Was there any specific coordination? If not, did the Trump camp privately signal to Moscow that Russia would get a better deal if Trump were elected? That alone would have provided encouragement for Putin to attack.

This country needs a thorough and public investigation to sort out how the Russian operation worked, how US intelligence and the Obama administration responded, and how Trump and his associates interacted with Russia and WikiLeaks. But whatever happened out of public view, the existing record is already conclusively shameful. Trump and his crew were active enablers of Putin’s operation to subvert an American election. That is fire, not smoke. That is scandal enough.

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

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Trump Is Already Guilty of Aiding Putin’s Attack on America

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