By Julia Conley
A federal judge in Washington, D.C. late Sunday struck down the Trump administration's proposed changes to the SNAP benefits program, potentially saving hundreds of thousands of people from losing badly needed federal food assistance.
<div id="e8d44" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="be49aabc36a5465eed30ca54f88f6b2d"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318171686232096772" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">A judge has ruled in our favor and blocked the Trump administration’s unlawful changes to SNAP. This decision is… https://t.co/5zeTafxMLm</div> — NY AG James (@NY AG James)<a href="https://twitter.com/NewYorkStateAG/statuses/1318171686232096772">1603111595.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="f47ab" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="381daa45528adda7398d5628d047294f"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318175677724676096" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">There's a lot of competition for Vilest Policy Ever, but slashing food stamps during a pandemic that's causing mass… https://t.co/EYvb0C8Q3m</div> — Tamar Haspel (@Tamar Haspel)<a href="https://twitter.com/TamarHaspel/statuses/1318175677724676096">1603112546.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="946d8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3cff2dc2643fc55ab21d2a73881c7de8"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1318168614541950976" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Trump: yes to Space Force, no to Food Stamps. Another equation that might be remembered in a few weeks. https://t.co/9IEDBaMy2o</div> — Matt Taibbi (@Matt Taibbi)<a href="https://twitter.com/mtaibbi/statuses/1318168614541950976">1603110862.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"Trump: yes to Space Force, no to Food Stamps," Taibbi tweeted.</p>
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Andrea Germanos
A group of Indigenous women and their allies on Monday urged the heads of major global financial institutions to stop propping up the tar sands industry and sever all ties with the sector's "climate-wrecking pipelines, as well as the massively destructive extraction projects that feed them."
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Trump Calls Fauci 'a Disaster,' Tries to Blame Science and Medical Experts for Failed Coronavirus Response
President Trump attacked the nation's top infectious disease specialist in a call with campaign staffers that several reporters were allowed to listen to on Monday. In the call, Trump said that Dr. Anthony S. Fauci was "a disaster." He added that despite the evidence that coronavirus cases are once again rising across the country, the public was tired of hearing so much news about the virus, especially from "these idiots" in the government and scientific community, as The Washington Post reported.
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New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern Wins Historic Victory Following Science-Based Leadership on COVID and Climate
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a rule change on Friday that will allow some coal power plants to ignore a court order to clean up coal ash ponds, which leech toxic materials into soil and groundwater. The rule change will allow some coal ash ponds to stay open for years while others that have no barrier to protect surrounding areas are allowed to stay open indefinitely, according to the AP.
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By Brett Wilkins
With President Donald Trump's re-election very much in doubt, his administration is rushing to ram through regulatory rollbacks that could adversely affect millions of Americans, the environment, and the ability of Joe Biden—should he win—to pursue his agenda or even undo the damage done over the past four years.
<div id="04704" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="89d490c741c2b7d2f95200298145c69b"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1317147432002703361" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">JUST POSTED: Facing the prospect that President Trump could lose his re-election bid, his cabinet is scrambling to… https://t.co/hy6L5aOtdv</div> — Eric Lipton (@Eric Lipton)<a href="https://twitter.com/EricLiptonNYT/statuses/1317147432002703361">1602867393.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="4f924" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="189304aaf1a15ae9bfdda6698bfb975b"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1317167529362599938" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">I think people underestimate the amount of time and energy that is going to be needed just to climb out from under… https://t.co/FxEMRcMv1E</div> — Matthew Gertz (@Matthew Gertz)<a href="https://twitter.com/MattGertz/statuses/1317167529362599938">1602872185.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Many of the changes reflect the agendas of the powerful corporate and other business interests whose key players have donated generously to Trump, belying the president's oft-repeated claim that he is "draining the swamp." Other regulator rollbacks come despite <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-solutions/epas-scientific-advisers-warn-its-regulatory-rollbacks-clash-with-established-science/2019/12/31/a1994f5a-227b-11ea-a153-dce4b94e4249_story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">warnings</a> from career officials within federal agencies about the harm they could cause. </p>
<div id="2e10f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f42c16794ddc25dcf8bf54a443854416"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1212091176091869184" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">EPA’s scientific advisers warn its regulatory rollbacks clash with established science https://t.co/RBdUsNvNEy</div> — Carl Zimmer (@Carl Zimmer)<a href="https://twitter.com/carlzimmer/statuses/1212091176091869184">1577820030.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Alarmed by the administration's rushed rate of regulatory rollbacks, a group of over 15 Democratic senators earlier this month sent a letter to Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia warning of "profound economic implications" for some 143 million U.S. workers that would result from curtailing public comment periods for the <a href="https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/flsa/2020-independent-contractor-nprm" target="_blank">proposed rule change</a> regarding independent contractors.</p><p>"Workers across the country deserve a chance to fully examine and properly respond to these potentially radical changes, and a 30-day comment period is not nearly enough," the letter states. </p>
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New York is finally bagging plastic bags.
The statewide ban on the highly polluting items actually went into effect March 1. But enforcement, which was supposed to start a month later, was delayed by the one-two punch of a lawsuit and the coronavirus pandemic, NY1 reported. Now, more than six months later, enforcement is set to begin Monday.
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By Priyanka Jaisinghani
COVID-19, "stay-at-home" orders and enforced physical distancing has made us more dependent on digital when it comes to connection and communication at both a local and global level.
Civic Engagement Redefined<p>Long-lasting impact requires changes from the bottom up. Civic engagement means working to make a difference in our communities to promote quality of life in a community, through both political and non-political processes.</p><p>We're seeing how, across multiple issues, young people are becoming active participants in driving dialogues with policy-makers, on a state and federal level. In addition, they are empowering the citizens of the communities in which they reside, taking an active role in shaping the future we hold.</p>
1. Racial Justice<p>Across the U.S., we saw the rise of the racial justice movement through Black Lives Matter. Hundreds of protestors came to the streets, from New York to Nevada, acknowledging, supporting and condemning the long-existing inequalities faced by the black community. We saw this movement propel beyond the streets, throughout social media, and to the polling stations.</p><p>Young activists were demanding not only awareness but also change. In this digital space, young people started sharing resources and information for others to educate themselves about the pressing need for racial justice. They were able to mobilize support to inform, educate and shape citizen action. They shared links to petitions, offered advice for safe protesting practices, created templates for emailing authorities, listed bail funds and black-owned restaurants and businesses in need of support. They used social media to support the various needs of this movement – and continue to do so.</p>
2. Climate Change<p>The youth-led climate change has become dominant online. Every Friday, young people lead a digital #ClimateStrike to raise awareness of important legislative initiatives and create tangible ways for individuals to get involved in the fight against climate change.</p><p>As a leading example, to commemorate this year's Earth Day, youth held a 72-hour, live-streamed "digital march" with protests, speeches, and more. This "digital march" was attended by more than 200,000 viewers. Young people are pivoting their strategies and applying them to a digital space. We know when the streets are safe again, they will continue their activism by marching to raise awareness both on the streets and digitally.</p>
3. Voting Rights<p>Voting is another pertinent issue coming to the fore. In <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/315761/lack-voting-information-hamper-youth-turnout.aspx" target="_blank">a Gallup poll</a>, four out of five (79%) young people say "the coronavirus pandemic has helped them realize how much political leaders' decisions impact their lives"; three in five say "they are part of a movement that will vote to express its views."</p><p>As a result of these changing attitudes, young people are having conversations with their families and finding ways to get politically active. They're donating funds to campaigns, volunteering their time to raise awareness around voting and creating social campaigns to try to influence other people to vote and register to vote.</p>
How social media is used in the U.S. for political issues. Statista<p>It's inspiring to see young people around the world deeply engaged in the digital space and continuing their activism. They have played a critical role in calling for change and transformation in society. From climate to health to politics, young people are the most affected. The only way to make progress is to build back better. They're building upon existing issues and movements, creating new alliances and driving conversations and action. This generation is also building upon the same values and ideas of those before them to change the status quo and find ways to enact change for a better future.</p>
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By James R. Skillen
Presidential elections are anxious times for federal land agencies and the people they serve. The Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service manage more than a quarter of the nation's land, which means that a new president can literally reshape the American landscape.
The U.S. government controls many types of protected land and subsurface minerals such as oil and gas, mainly in Western states. BLM/Wikipedia
<div id="b633c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6f5e4020e8a30cc88689ef4f8762e4f2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1309336838549712896" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">The Trump administration is expected on Friday to finalize its plan to open about 9 million acres of Alaska’s Tonga… https://t.co/dxx4Yf2KeV</div> — The New York Times (@The New York Times)<a href="https://twitter.com/nytimes/statuses/1309336838549712896">1601005203.0</a></blockquote></div>
Republicans: Less Regulation, More Development<p>Since Ronald Reagan ran 40 years ago as a <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/01/04/even-sagebrush-rebel-ronald-reagan-couldnt-change-federal-land-use-in-the-west/" target="_blank">self-proclaimed</a> "<a href="https://www.hcn.org/articles/a-look-back-at-the-first-sagebrush-rebellion" target="_blank">sagebrush rebel</a>" who supported turning control of public lands back to Western states, Republicans have coalesced around a set of <a href="https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/open-business" target="_blank">common public land priorities</a>. They include reducing federal regulation, limiting the scope of environmental reviews and increasing natural resource development.</p><p>This approach has drawn support from natural resource industries, resource-dependent communities and a growing body of <a href="https://mslegal.org/" target="_blank">public interest law firms</a>, <a href="https://www.perc.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">think tanks</a>, <a href="https://www.alec.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">advocacy groups</a>, <a href="https://www.charleskochfoundation.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">foundations</a> and <a href="https://www.freedomworks.org/about/about-freedomworks" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">political action committees</a>. Their core libertarian conviction is that reducing government leads to prosperity.</p>
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Democrats: Scientific Management With Limited Development<p>Recent Democratic presidents, from Jimmy Carter to Barack Obama, have <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-2127-9.html" target="_blank">championed federal environmental laws</a> that guide public land management, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act. Democratic administrations have emphasized scientific monitoring and regulatory oversight while still supporting energy development and other commercial resource uses of public lands.</p><p>Vice President Biden's long <a href="https://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/joe-biden" target="_blank">environmental record</a> and <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/13/us/politics/joe-biden-trump.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">campaign pledges</a> suggest that he will continue this approach. Biden has promised to <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-biden-square-off-over-environmental-regulations-11594917709" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reverse the Trump administration's deregulatory efforts</a>, <a href="https://www.backpacker.com/news-and-events/heres-how-the-presidential-candidates-public-lands-plans-stack-up" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">restore national monument boundaries</a> and manage energy development on public lands in ways that <a href="https://www.eenews.net/stories/1060477457" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">promote wind and solar energy</a> and gradually <a href="https://joebiden.com/9-key-elements-of-joe-bidens-plan-for-a-clean-energy-revolution/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">phase out fossil fuel development</a>.</p><p>But a Biden administration would face tensions within the Democratic Party as well. Progressives are calling for <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/21/climate/green-new-deal-questions-answers.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">more dramatic action to slow climate change</a>, including <a href="https://soto.house.gov/media/press-releases/soto-ocasio-cortez-sanders-merkley-unveil-bill-ban-fracking-nationwide" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bans on hydraulic fracturing</a> for oil and gas production and on new oil, gas and coal leases on public lands. Biden has signaled <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">strong support</a> for this agenda, but insists that hydraulic fracturing and fossil fuel development <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-biden-fracking/u-s-presidential-hopeful-biden-says-he-would-not-ban-fracking-idUSKBN25R2NI" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">will continue on existing leases</a>.</p><p>A Biden administration, then, would likely seek to <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/docs/clean_energy_record.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">restore President Obama's public lands legacy</a> and push beyond it with tighter limits on fossil fuel production.</p>
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Everybody Loves the Outdoors<p>These sharply different visions can obscure the fact that there is substantial commitment to public lands, especially as places for hunting, fishing, camping and other recreational uses. This consensus was evident when Congress passed the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_American_Outdoors_Act" target="_blank">Great American Outdoors Act of 2020</a> in July with strong bipartisan support. With an eye on election polls, President Trump bragged that signing the bill made him the <a href="https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-environmental-accomplishments-people-florida-jupiter-fl/" target="_blank">greatest environmental president since George Washington</a>.</p><p>As I see it, this bill was popular because it did not address controversial questions like regulation or energy development. Instead it provided billions of dollars for maintaining roads, trails, visitor centers and other public land infrastructure. It also guaranteed permanent funding for the <a href="https://www.lwcfcoalition.com/about-lwcf" target="_blank">Land and Water Conservation Fund</a>, which uses money from federal fossil fuel royalties to protect valuable lands and waters from development.</p><p>That pairing suggests that public land ownership and fossil fuel development will both be part of the next administration. But the election will determine how these resources will be managed, and who will have the most influence over this process.</p>
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The Trump administration rejected California's federal relief request to help recover from six recent wildfires, The Los Angeles Times reported.
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By Jo Harper
The Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden proposes net-zero CO2 emissions in the United States by 2050. It's an ambitious target, but 30 years is a long time in politics and there is a key tension between the party's moderate nominee with links to corporate funders, such as the asset manager BlackRock, and progressives whose votes he needs to win. This is nowhere better seen perhaps than on environmental issues, where campaigns to green corporate America have tended to fizzle out.
At the Heart of Things<p>"This [CDP campaign] doesn't appear to directly impact BlackRock as it's voluntary," Moira Birss, climate & finance director at Amazon Watch, told DW. "But BlackRock should certainly be asking for 1.5-degree transition plans of all the high emitting companies it invests in."</p><p>Birss also says that BlackRock is "again absent from this leading initiative" despite claims by its CEO that no company had done more for climate in 2020.</p><p>"Fink claims that BlackRock had 950 'engagements' with companies on climate this year but doesn't provide any transparency on what that means. That's not climate leadership. I would think that if BlackRock leadership could show the impact it is having on climate through these 'engagements,' it would. Instead Fink is making claims about climate action that he can't, or won't, back up," she adds.</p>
Passive Funds Active<p>BlackRock reported healthy third-quarter profits, the recovery in global financial markets helping it end the quarter with a record $7.81 trillion in assets under management. The New York-based company's net income rose 27% to $1.42 billion, while its shares are up 22% this year.</p><p>Supported by an index-fund collection called iShares, it is the world's largest asset manager, with $7.81 trillion of other people's money under its control, a third of it in Europe. This is roughly equal to the world's top 20 pension funds combined. The fund employs 13,900 people spread across 30 countries.</p><p>BlackRock's Aladdin risk-management system — a software tool that can track and analyze trading — is used by the U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank (ECB). Today, $21.6 trillion sits on the platform from just a third of its 240 clients, according to public documents verified with the companies and first-hand accounts. That figure alone is equivalent to 10% of global stocks and bonds.</p>
Massive Political Influence<p>Created in 1988, BlackRock has close ties to the Biden campaign, although the company's investments to influence Washington, mean that Fink has also advised the Trump administration on infrastructure privatization and the COVID-19 pandemic. Fink is reportedly hoping for a position in a Biden administration.</p><p>BlackRock has avoided being designated a Systemically Important Financial Institution (or SIFI) by the U.S. Treasury's Financial Stability and Oversight Council (FSOC), set up by Dodd-Frank financial regulations, which would require it to be regulated by the American central bank. </p><p>The company has spent the last decade lobbying lawmakers, US Treasury officials, and FSOC members with donations. In its Transparency Project report, BlackRock says that it has hired at least 84 former government officials, regulators, and central bankers worldwide since 2004. The world's largest asset manager has also been tapped by the Federal Reserve to oversee three government debt-buying programs designed to fend off economic catastrophe.</p>
By Kenny Stancil
Amid the Global Week of Action for Debt Cancellation and one month ahead of the Finance in Common Summit, climate justice advocates on Monday urged public banks around the world to treat government responses to the coronavirus crisis as opportunities to coordinate just recoveries from the ongoing public health and economic calamities and to simultaneously facilitate just transitions from dirty to clean energy, thereby beginning to "build the world we want."
<div id="65c39" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="ac51e8b5bddbfd63c853f644d08e44dc"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1315656759781064706" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">As we launch the #WorldWeWant campaign on climate impacts, @UN Secretary-General @antonioguterres echoes our call f… https://t.co/5ytx9JD3hh</div> — Climate Action Network - International (CAN) (@Climate Action Network - International (CAN))<a href="https://twitter.com/CANIntl/statuses/1315656759781064706">1602511989.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Andy Rowell
This week, President Trump's highly controversial pick for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, answers questions in front of the Senate Judiciary committee as part of her nomination hearings for the top legal job.