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.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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