Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey: What's Exxon Got to Do With It?
By Andy Rowell
Washington, DC is still reeling Wednesday with the news that Donald Trump sacked FBI director James Comey.
Ostensibly, the White House is saying that Comey's firing is all about his botched investigation into Clinton's emails. But everyone knows that is not the truth.
As Politico reported, behind the sacking is an "an enraged Trump, fuming about Russia." Two Trump advisors told Politico that Trump was angry about the ongoing investigation by the FBI into links between the Russians and the Trump campaign.
The Trump line that the FBI Russian investigation has nothing to do with it is being ridiculed in the papers this morning.
As David Leonhardt stated bluntly in the New York Times, "The president of the United States is lying again … First, it's important to remember just how often Trump lies. Virtually whenever he finds it more convenient to tell a falsehood than to tell a truth, he chooses the falsehood."
So why fire Comey? A blistering editorial in the paper argued, "The president of the United States, who is no more above the law than any other citizen, has now decisively crippled the FBI's ability to carry out an investigation of him and his associates."
The paper added, "By firing the FBI director, James Comey, late Tuesday afternoon, President Trump has cast grave doubt on the viability of any further investigation into what could be one of the biggest political scandals in the country's history."
The investigation could have had "potentially ruinous consequences for the administration." So Trump fired the man who could have been about to impeach him.
The timing is certainly interesting. As the Hill pointed out too, many people are questioning the timing of Comey's dismissal.
There may be other factors at play worth mentioning. Who is Trump meeting today in the White House? The president only has one publicly scheduled item later today and that is a meeting with Sergey Lavrov, the foreign minister of Russia.
As the British Independent newspaper noted, "It will be impossible to separate the meeting from the unfolding political drama in Washington."
Before Lavrov meets Trump, he will hold a meeting with ex-Exxon boss and now Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.
On the agenda are Ukraine, Syria and "bilateral issues," according to the State Department. It is the highest level meeting between Trump and the Russians since he took office.
The Arctic Council is an international forum that promotes cooperation among Arctic states and includes Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the U.S. Under President Obama's administration, the U.S. position focussed on climate change.
Indeed, according to the Council, the meeting "will convene to review and approve work completed under the two-year U.S. Chairmanship to improve sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic."
But those two years have passed. Obama may have championed environmental protection, but Trump does not. Obama wanted to preserve the Arctic. Trump does not. As the U.S. hands over the baton of responsibility at the Council to Finland, the old order is no more.
Trump wants better ties with Russia. In turn, Russia wants Exxon to help explore for oil. There is no doubt Exxon wants Russian oil. Exxon's old boss is now central to the Trump Administration. And by removing Comey at such a crucial time, Tillerson and Lavrov can work on some smoke-filled backroom deals, without the threat of the FBI looking at U.S.-Russian relations.
Of course, much of this is speculation and analysis of an unfolding political situation. The Arctic meeting may not have been on Trump's mind, but Russia certainly was. And we all need to keep a watching brief on this fast-moving story, because no one knows where it will end.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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