Pull the Thread
Throughout this past month, I used a social media platform to focus on worthwhile (to me) stories lost in the news, encouraging readers to dig deeper to find out what was happening, what they were missing, maybe what was real as opposed to what was being presented. You know, to not willingly be gaslighted (gaslit?). Anyhow, here is the summary — and yes, it took me a few days to get started because, well, transparency and facts and reality, so dates don’t match my posts exactly if you are one to cross-reference. Sigh. (Sources listed in overview at the end, because sources matter.)
- Trump’s EPA allows for bee-killing insecticide to be sprayed on pollinator crops (mostly food).
- Trump names a coal-industry lobbyist to head the EPA. His first order of business is approving coal-ash dumping in our freshwater sources.
- Persons representing Trump made threats to his former universities (and high school) to keep his academic records hidden.
- Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker lies (often) about being an Academic All-American. Oh, and possibly perjured himself in testimony.
- No Women’s Championship sport team has been invited to the White House since late 2017.
- Lordstown, OH GM automotive plant shuts down, despite Trump rallying there promising jobs are coming back and “don’t sell your house!”.
- Homeland Security keeps a database on American journalists working at the border and often detains them to limit their ability to work.
- Shell companies mask involvement of Trump foreign contributors, including a healthcare company in Michigan (owned by Betsy DeVos’s family) tied to a Russian bank.
- Texas refused help from NASA in identifying harmful toxins in water and air after Hurricane Harvey, because they didn’t want the results of testing to be made public (thank you, Houston Chronicle for the ongoing reporting on this…).
- Paul Manafort’s lawyer’s fees are being paid out of a two-man ad agency silently owned by Trump’s chief election pollster.
- Diminished intelligence briefings to the president, in scope and frequency, are replaced with his increased focus on Fox News as his primary source (detailed in a terrific New Yorker essay by Jane Meyer).
- American parents from low-income neighborhoods IN JAIL for using a different address to get their children into schools in another district.
- Legislation proposed to protect non-Native abusers of Native American women.
- Ireland’s PM brings his partner to breakfast with VP Mike Pence.
- New Zealand moved to ban automatic weapons ONE DAY after a mass shooting there. (It becomes law SIX DAYS later.)
- Erik Prince (brother of Betsy DeVos) met at Trump Tower to discuss Iran policy, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia helping Trump get elected.
- Trump hung a plaque on his locker at Trump International in West Palm Beach crediting himself with winning the 2018 Club Championship there. He did not play in that championship. (He also put a line-item in the national budget for a golf buddy’s project.)
- Historically widespan probe of allegations against the president is forming, and he works to keep the news cycle on his disparaging a deceased former senator as distraction.
- Germany wants the U.S. to come get their ambassador, as he’s preaching Nazism and is “a complete diplomatic failure”.
- Indiana teachers propose legislation that projectiles cannot be fired at them, in mock-execution style, during active-shooter drills.
- Floods are impacting the economic infrastructure with roads and rails under water. Also farms are struggling with drowned animals and ruined stores of grain.
- Federal court blocked drilling in Wyoming, saying there is no plan detailing long-term effects of that drilling.
- Counties that hosted Trump rallies in 2016 saw a 226% rise in hate-group activity.
- The Office of Refugee Resettlement tracked pregnancies (from rape) and menstrual cycles of teen detainees, in order to deny them abortions.
- Supreme Court hears cases on partisan gerrymandering, where voters are shifted to other districts to purposefully dilute their voice.
- Betsy DeVos supports cuts to Special Olympics, and wants more money for Charter schools (which her family owns).
- National Cathedral clarifies that no funeral there, ever, needs presidential permission.
- Trump initially threatened to defund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, then planned to cut it by 90%, then reversed to say it would continue to be funded. He also claimed the Great Lakes are “the deepest”, which they are not.
- By current count (and yes, research entities track this), the president tells 22 lies per day.
This was just one month, and just stories I personally followed. It’s a lot to digest. But it is important. Find sources that are fact-based, with in-depth reporting, and present unbiased interpretations of events. If you are not sure what those are, start by looking at this chart. When you hear or read something that seems crazytown, or just far-fetched (Roger Stone has a Richard Nixon tattoo on his back?), look it up in a trusted source (damn: Roger Stone has a Richard Nixon tattoo on his back.). If people in power are making you frustrated, irritated, uncomfortable — all of it — follow your gut instincts: pull that thread and learn a little more about WHY they are all up in their own back pockets. And once you have some clarity, feel free to call them on it. React with facts — it’s like hold-my-beer, but better and calmer and sustainable and educated. Hello, we all deserve that.
(Sources for stories above: WaPo, New York Times, New Yorker, Business Insider, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, The Independent, Vanity Fair, NPR, PBS, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Detroit News, National Park Service, ADL, ACLU, EPA, EPA Ohio, Capital Gazette, FEC, National Women’s Law Center, MSNBC, NBC, LA Times, CBS News, CNBC, FBI Crime Report, CNN, Reuters, Associated Press, Inside Climate News, NOAA, Rolling Stone, Indianapolis Star, Indiana Commission for Higher Education, NY Daily News, Politico, Inside Higher Ed, National Center for Education Statistics, Golf Magazine, Irish Independent, RTE News, Houston Chronicle, National Institute of Justice, Bloomberg News, TCEQ, NASA, Yahoo Sports, Al Otro Lado, CoSIDA, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Wall Street Journal, Fivethirtyeight, Border Angels, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, University of Iowa Intercollegiate Athletics, Big 10 Conference archives, Sen. Sherrod Brown webpage, UAW, Sierra Club, Detroit Free Press, NCAA archives, WNBA, South Carolina Gamecocks athletics, NRDC, Factchecker, Earthjustice, Center for Biological Diversity, Princeton University. And the one that started it all, that keeps me sane, that I go back to every single Monday morning: The Weekly List podcast and list.)