What We're Reading

Daily Reads: Exxon Wants Trump Admin to Approve Deal With Russia; Why Trump Can’t Gut a Consumer Watchdog… Yet

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

Exxon Wants Trump Admin to Approve Deal With Russia

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks about Iran and North Korea at the State Department on April 19, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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Cashing in –> ExxonMobil is applying for a waiver to partner with Rosneft, a Russian state-owned oil company, to drill around the Black Sea. The two companies had been working together until 2014, when US sanctions against Russia following the Russian invasion of Ukraine shut the deal down. At the time, Rex Tillerson, then the CEO of Exxon, told shareholders that the sanctions caused “very broad collateral damage.”

Tillerson is now secretary of state and the State Department is one of the agencies reviewing Exxon’s waiver. Tillerson said he would recuse himself from anything having to do with his company for two years after taking office… so nothing to worry about, right?

“Removing barriers to Exxon drilling in the Russian Black Sea with a state-controlled company like Rosneft would not only jeopardize global progress on climate change and provide momentum for a similar waiver in the Russian Arctic,” Greenpeace’s Naomi Ages said in a statement, “it would also send a message to Russia that it can intervene in any country, including the United States, with no consequences.”

Getting away with it –> …at least, for awhile. Wells Fargo’s management and the federal agency tasked with regulating banks knew about the company’s sketchy practice of opening false accounts in customers’ names since 2010, but did nothing. “The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said its oversight of the San Francisco bank was lax, and examiners missed numerous opportunities to address the wrongdoing prior to a $185-million settlement with Wells Fargo in 2016, according to a report released Wednesday,” writes James Rufus Koren for the Los Angeles Times. “Those practices ultimately led to the creation of as many as 2.1 million accounts that customers didn’t authorize.”

Wells Fargo’s slap on the wrist finally came last year in the form of a fine from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a watchdog agency set up by progressives in Congress after the financial crisis. Bankers, congressional Republicans and the Trump administration are not fans. They’d like to fire the agency’s director, Richard Cordray… but they’re learning that doing so isn’t that simple. Firing Cordray could lead to a lawsuit for wrongful termination — which could come along with a discovery process that Trump wants to avoid, David Dayen writes for The Fiscal Times. “In truth, Trump can’t fire Cordray unless he wants his whole life — even his taxes — broadcast in open court.”

On the record –> Barack Obama’s EPA administrator, Gina McCarthy, is speaking out — via a column in Cosmo. “By rolling back public health protections and proposing to slash EPA’s budget, the Trump administration has chosen to sidestep their basic obligation to the American people,” she writes. “Their anti-science and anti-climate agenda unfairly threatens our health and livelihoods, especially for the most vulnerable among us: women and children.”

Kills bugs dead –> The AP reports that “Dow Chemical is pushing the Trump administration to scrap the findings of federal scientists who point to a family of widely used pesticides as harmful to about 1,800 critically threatened or endangered species.”

Ossoff unpacked –> At The Week, Ryan Cooper gives some thoughts on the near-upset in Georgia’s 6th District earlier this week. “It’s a good sign for Democrats — and a good test case for the areas of the country where Hillary Clinton did unusually well,” he writes. “But they should be wary before using Ossoff’s campaign strategy as a template for the rest of the country. To win in districts President Trump dominated in 2016, Democrats would be well advised to adopt better class politics.”

Cowed? –> Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who sits atop the powerful House Oversight Committee, will not run for re-election. In his position, Chaffetz spearheaded many investigations of the Obama administration — but, despite the urging of ethics watchdogs and his constituents, he’s not had much to say during the Trump administration.

Remember Blackwater? –> Salon’s Heather Digby Parton takes a look at Erik Prince’s “secretive role in shaping Trump’s foreign policy.” Prince and his sister Betsy DeVos were big donors to Trump’s campaign and share a “militant theocratic worldview” with Vice President Mike Pence.

So long –> In case you hadn’t heard, Bill O’Reilly is out of a job. “The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end,” Gabriel Sherman reported yesterday for New York magazine. Following mounting allegations of sexual harassment, Sherman writes, “senior executives at other divisions within the Murdoch empire have complained that if O’Reilly’s allegations had happened to anyone else at their companies, that person would be gone already.” The Guardian has a timeline of O’Reilly’s downfall.

The most surprising aspect of this story, however, is that this particular pundit wasn’t fired sooner, Amanda Terkel writes for The Huffington Post. “For years, Fox News deliberately looked the other way on O’Reilly. What’s amazing isn’t that O’Reilly finally lost his show, it’s that he was allowed to keep it for so long.”

The rich are different than you and me –> Silicon Valley venture capitalists were very excited about, and eagerly threw their money behind, a new, $700 robot that could squeeze packets of juice into a glass — the Juicero, a “Keurig for juice.” They were dismayed to learn that thirsty consumers could just as easily squeeze the packets juice into glasses themselves, using their hands, for free. “Bloomberg performed its own press test, pitting a Juicero machine against a reporter’s grip,” write Ellen Huet and Olivia Zaleski for Bloomberg Technology. “The experiment found that squeezing the bag yields nearly the same amount of juice just as quickly — and in some cases, faster — than using the device.”

Daily Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Kristin Miller.



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