Trump and the closed loop of news in the GOP

Asked to name media companies in which they have trust, 65% of Republicans named Fox News. One in 3 named ABC. And that’s it. Not a single other news source was trusted by even 33% of self-identified Republicans in the Pew poll.

…A majority of Republicans (and Republican-leaning independents) don’t trust ANY media company other than Fox News. And two thirds don’t trust ANY media companies other than Fox News and ABC.

…Combine those numbers with Fox News’s overwhelming viewership numbers among Republicans (60% get their election news from Fox; no other outlet gets above 30%), and the marked difference between its content and that of all the other mainstream media outlets, and you see a major reason for why we are where we are, politically speaking.

If you only trust one news outlet and that news outlet is telling a very different …version of current events, a massive disconnect is created.

…And it is into that disconnect, that information void, that Trump has leaped — and now resides. …Trump regularly tweets and retweets Fox News segments to his 71+ million Twitter followers. He often directly quotes from Fox personalities. He works to create a totally closed information ecosystem for his supporters — and largely succeeds.

This 1 chart explains how bad Fox News is for our politics – CNNPolitics

mmmhmmm

This is why the US still doesn’t have high-speed trains

The FRA should never have been asked to oversee the project, said Thomas Hart Jr, president of the pro-rail consulting group Rail Forward. It was inexperienced, needlessly bureaucratic, and had “neither the experience, the staff, nor the regulations” in place to make high-speed rail work. To Hart’s mind, the largest problems were strategic: The FRA “tried to do too much with too little” by spreading the money across the nation rather than targeting the best possible projects, while simultaneously shutting out small or minority-owned businesses. He also believes the federal government made a fatal misstep in allowing Amtrak to run the projects, rather than opening it up to more experienced foreign competitors. 

…“The question really is, for us as an industry and as a company, in being pragmatic,” he said. All over the country, there are underserved segments of around 300 miles which are ripe for high-quality rail, he added. “We don’t even need to spend money on necessarily expensive high-speed trains—just getting what we have today working well at a hundred miles an hour, which is very feasible, is really viable.” 

Europe might have some of the world’s best high-speed rail, but it also had a great network of slower, 80-mile-per-hour trains, said Harris. “We should aspire to that first. We can deliver that and make a lot of people happy, without spending $100 million.”

This is why the US still doesn’t have high-speed trains — Quartz

hmm

Trump Removes Pollution Controls on Streams and Wetlands

The Trump administration on Thursday will finalize a rule to strip away environmental protections for streams, wetlands and other water bodies.

…The Obama rule protected about 60 percent of the nation’s waterways, including large bodies of water such as the Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi River and Puget Sound, and smaller headwaters, wetlands, seasonal streams and streams that run temporarily underground. It limited the discharge of pollutants such as fertilizers, pesticides and industrial chemicals into those waters.

…This is not just undoing the Obama rule. This is stripping away protections that were put in place in the ’70s and ’80s that Americans have relied on for their health.”

…The new water rule will remove federal protections from more than half the nation’s wetlands, and hundreds of thousands of small waterways. That would for the first time in decades allow landowners and property developers to dump pollutants such as pesticides and fertilizers directly into many of those waterways, and to destroy or fill in wetlands for construction projects.

…[The changes] on Thursday will complete the process, not only rolling back 2015 rules that guaranteed protections under the 1972 Clean Water Act to certain wetlands and streams that run intermittently or run temporarily underground, but also relieves landowners of the need to seek permits that the Environmental Protection Agency had considered on a case-by-case basis before the Obama rule.

…That could open millions of acres of pristine wetlands to pollution or destruction, and allow chemicals and other pollutants to be discharged into smaller headland waters that eventually drain into larger water bodies, experts in water management said. Wetlands play key roles in filtering surface water and protecting against floods, while also providing wildlife habitat.

… The E.P.A.’s Scientific Advisory Board, a panel of 41 scientists responsible for evaluating the scientific integrity of the agency’s regulations, concluded that the new Trump water rule ignores science by “failing to acknowledge watershed systems.” They found “no scientific justification” for excluding certain bodies of water from protection under the new regulations, concluding that pollutants from those smaller and seasonal bodies of water can still have a significant impact on the health of larger water systems.

Trump Removes Pollution Controls on Streams and Wetlands – The New York Times

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

US drinking water contamination with ‘forever chemicals’ far worse than scientists thought

The contamination of US drinking water with manmade “forever chemicals” is far worse than previously estimated with some of the highest levels found in Miami, Philadelphia, and New Orleans.

…The chemicals were used in products like Teflon and Scotchguard and in firefighting foam. Some are used in a variety of other products and industrial processes, and their replacements also pose risks.

…The chemicals, resistant to breaking down in the environment, are known as perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Some have been linked to cancers, liver damage, low birth weight and other health problems.

…Of tap water samples taken by EWG from 44 sites in 31 states and Washington DC, only one location, Meridian, Mississippi, which relies on 700ft (215m) deep wells, had no detectable PFAS. Only Seattle and Tuscaloosa, Alabama had levels below 1 part per trillion (PPT), the limit EWG recommends.

In addition, EWG found that on average six to seven PFAS compounds were found at the tested sites.

US drinking water contamination with ‘forever chemicals’ far worse than scientists thought | Environment | The Guardian

sigh…

Trump inaugural committee improperly paid president’s hotel $1 million

Trump’s inaugural committee …violated its nonprofit status by spending more than $1 million to book a ballroom at Trump’s D.C. hotel that its staff knew was overpriced and that it barely used.

During the lead-up to Trump’s January 2017 inauguration, the committee booked the hotel ballroom for $175,000 a day, plus more than $300,000 in food and beverage costs, over the objections of its own event planner.

Hotel management emailed the committee in November 2016 saying an eight-day package of meeting rooms, food and drinks would cost $3.6 million — an enormous number even by the standards of luxury hotels during the inauguration.

Rick Gates, a lobbyist and the committee’s deputy chairman, then emailed Ivanka Trump to say that cost “seems quite high compared to other properties.” 

…Racine’s lawsuit specifically targets a $1 million deal made between the committee and the Trump Organization for the ballroom during four days around the inaugural, which he alleges was a knowing waste of the nonprofit’s resources to benefit the Trumps.

…After hotel management agreed to charge $175,000 per day for meeting space and to charge separately for food and beverage, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a friend of first lady Melania Trump who had previously produced the Met gala and New York’s Fashion Week, expressed alarm, writing that other properties had been offered to the committee at little or no cost.

…Wolkoff said the meeting space should cost a maximum of $85,000 per day. Even that was pricey compared to offers from other hotels.

…D.C. law requires that nonprofit organizations not operate for the purpose of generating profits for private individuals.

…Trump’s company is now trying to sell its lease to the hotel. Initial bids are due Thursday for the property.

Trump inaugural committee improperly paid president’s hotel $1 million, AG’s lawsuit says – The Washington Post

hmmm