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Trumpocalypse Now blog

Day Two: hope you’re not too attached to the environment

It’s a brutal list today: women’s rights and environmental rights in particular experienced massive setbacks. We’ll tell you the silver lining upfront: despite having ascended to the highest office in the land, he is fixated on his unpopularity. For all the power he holds, he remains obsessed with losing the popular vote and spurring one of the largest protests in U.S. history, echoed around the world. Press Secretary Sean Spicer has spent his first days in the job peddling fiction rather than broadcasting the agenda that will make America great again. Try and remember that as you read how Trump and Congress spent the day.

After the successful sustained protest at Standing Rock, Trump has revived both the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines. While signing the order, Trump touted, “A lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs. Great construction jobs.” A U.S. State Department study estimated the number of long-term jobs at 50.

Along with the administration’s other moves to decimate all environmental initiatives and protections, Trump has officially shifted the government’s priorities from climate change to energy.

The global gag rule prohibiting federal money to foreign NGOs that mention or perform abortions as part of family planning assistance has been the mainstay of Republican administrations. But Trump has greatly expanded it to “to global health assistance furnished by all departments or agencies.” The full extent of the Mexico City Policy sunk in today:

“U.S. support for family planning currently amounts to about $575 million in 40 countries, [Suzanne Ehlers] said, while global health assistance totals about $9 billion to about 60 countries.

Any international organization receiving U.S. funds for health programs will now be required to certify that it does not provide abortion services, counseling, referrals or information or advocate for the liberalization of abortion laws, even with non-U.S. funds. If they don’t, their funding will be cut off.”

Thankfully, the Dutch government has responded by announcing it wants to create an international fund to “finance access to birth control, abortion and education for women in developing countries.”

The domestic war on women continues as Representative Steve King of Iowa introduced the “heartbeat” bill in the House today:

“The bill would prevent doctors from performing abortions when a heartbeat is detected, in some cases as early as six weeks — before some women even know they’re pregnant…Under the bill, a doctor who ‘knowingly performs an abortion and thereby kills a human fetus’ without determining a heartbeat, informing the patient of the heartbeat or who proceeds regardless would face up to five years in prison. It includes a narrow exception when the physical health of the woman is endangered but it excludes ‘psychological or emotional conditions.’

The measure is modeled after legislation that failed in Ohio that aimed to ban abortions from as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill passed the state legislature but was vetoed by Ohio governor John Kasich, who instead signed into law a separate and restrictive 20-week abortion ban. Similar legislation passed the state legislatures in Arkansas and North Dakota in 2013, and was struck down by the the eighth circuit court of appeals as unconstitutional.”

Additionally, “an anti-abortion group released a video this week purporting to show that Planned Parenthood does not offer comprehensive prenatal services, an accusation that the women’s health organization said deliberately misrepresented its mission.”

The swift criminalization of protest and free speech continues:

“Efforts [are] afoot in five states: In Minnesota, Washington state, Michigan, and Iowa, Republican lawmakers have proposed an array of anti-protesting laws that center on stiffening penalties for demonstrators who block traffic; in North Dakota, conservatives are even pushing a bill that would allow motorists to run over and kill protesters so long as the collision was accidental. Similarly, Republicans in Indiana last week prompted uproar over a proposed law that would instruct police to use “any means necessary” to clear protesters off a roadway.

Over the weekend, readers alerted me to two additional anti-protesting bills, both introduced by Republicans, that are pending in Virginia and Colorado. This brings the number of states that have in recent weeks floated such proposals to at least eight.”

Additionally, six journalists arrested during protests on Inauguration Day face felony charges and up to 10 years in prison.

Trump order a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), prohibiting “public-facing documents” through the media, freezing EPA grants and contracts, and muzzling agency scientists.

Environmental stewards did not take the news quietly.

“The deficit is expected to shrink this fiscal year and next before increasing in 2019 and beyond. Deficits would cumulatively total $9.4 trillion from 2018 to 2027, the budget office projects. By 2023, the deficit would reach $1 trillion, and in 2027, a projected $1.4 trillion deficit would be equal to 5 percent of the economy…

Democrats are likely to oppose large tax cuts, but they will press Mr. Trump to make good on his promise to spend big on infrastructure. Senate Democrats on Tuesday unveiled a $1 trillion plan to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, rails, transit systems, airports, sewer systems and power grid.”

Along with Trump’s withdrawal from TPP and his piecemeal approach to rescuing industrial jobs one by one, a clear signal of this administration’s heralded transformation of the economy remains to be seen.

Mike Pompeo was sworn in as CIA director Monday night. Support from Democrats has drawn criticism:

“Pompeo is a far-right Kansas Republican who has in the past defended CIA officials who engaged in torture, calling them “patriots.” Last week, he left the door open to torture by acknowledging in his written responses to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he would be open to altering a 2015 law prohibiting the government from using techniques not listed in the Army Field Manual.

As a member of Congress, he repeatedly appeared on the radio program hosted by anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney, and has portrayed the war on terror as a conflict between Islam and Christianity. He has also claimed that “Islamic leaders across America [are] potentially complicit” in terrorism because they supposedly don’t speak out against it, which is not true.”

The short list grows shorter. The two most likely picks, according to the New York Times, are Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the federal appeals court in Atlanta and Judge Neil M. Gorsuch of the federal appeals court in Denver. Judge Pryor believes Roe v. Wade was “the worst abomination of constitutional law in our history,” and wants to criminalize gay sex. Judge Gorsuch is described as both an originalist and a traditionalist; a fine incarnation, in essence, of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.