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Daily Reads: Ethics Head in Fight With the White House; Top Environmental Justice Official Quits

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Daily Reads: Ethics Head in Fight With the White House

Office of Government Ethics head Walter Shaub speaks at the Brookings Institution in January. (Photo via CNN)

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Walter Shaub, man of action –> The head of the Office of Government Ethics, an Obama administration holdover named Walter Shaub, is one of the most prominent critics of the Trump administration working in federal government. In February, after Kellyanne Conway promoted Ivanka Trump’s products on television, Shaub sent a letter to the White House requesting disciplinary action. He got back a letter saying he does not have the authority. Shaub is asking Congress to step in. Here’s the correspondence.

Pruitt’s EPA goes into denial –> On the same day Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt said he “would not agree that [CO2] is a primary contributor to the global warming” and questioned his agency’s authority to regulate CO2, the EPA’s head of environmental justice, Mustafa Ali, resigned after 24 years. The Pruitt EPA is rolling back environmental justice initiatives that help vulnerable communities contend with pollution and environmental crises. “That is something that I could not be a part of,” Ali told Mother Jones’ Rebecca Leber.

Meanwhile, Climate Nexus has rounded up reactions to Pruitt’s climate denialism.

Bundle of deadly surprises –> The proposed Republican health care bill “would strip away what advocates say is essential coverage for drug addiction treatment as the number of people dying from opiate overdoses is skyrocketing nationwide,” Katie Zezima and Christopher Ingraham report for The Washington Post.

A separate, little-noticed, Republican-backed health-care-related bill in Congress “would allow companies to require employees to undergo genetic testing or risk paying a penalty of thousands of dollars, and would let employers see that genetic and other health information.” This dystopian proposition will theoretically help employers promote “workplace wellness.”

What’s Nigel up to? –> Nigel Farage, the nationalist British politician who led the charge to Brexit and disruption of the European Union, is a buddy of Donald Trump and Steve Bannon. Yesterday, he visited for 40 minutes with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The visit followed the Wikileaks release of a trove of documents related to CIA spying and hacking techniques.

Assange has been in asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since August 2012, avoiding arrest on a sexual assault charge in Sweden — so Farage went to him. What did they talk about? Farage refused to say. But shortly after his visit, Assange announced that more classified documents would soon be released. At Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall wonders if Farage may have been carrying a message from Trump. At a press briefing yesterday, Sean Spicer did not deny the possibility.

Meanwhile, the website Business Insider just published this account of Farage and his UKIP party’s long association with Assange.

Something to hide? –> Shortly after Trump announced Jay Clayton as his pick to head the Securities and Exchange Commission, a government regulator of Wall Street, Clayton’s bio was scrubbed from his law firm’s website. Clayton has represented many of the same companies that, if confirmed, he would oversee.

Details of a massacre –> The Intercept has on-the-ground reporting from Yemen, where the first military raid of Donald Trump’s presidency went awry, resulting in the death of an American Navy SEAL and many civilians without killing its intended target, reportedly the head of al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula. Iona Craig writes, “While President Trump continues to hail the mission as a success, quoting Defense Secretary James Mattis in Congress last week that intelligence gathered ‘will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemy,’ in Yakla, the clearest outcome appears to be lengthening the list of America’s adversaries beyond al-Qaida.”

How much can scientists advocate before they lose their credibility? –> Quite a bit, a new study finds. Tom Jacobs reports for Pacific Standard.

Daily Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship.



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