Today, the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem opened, as violent clashes raged on the Gaza Strip. As Jared Kushner—Trump’s son-in-law and the adviser leading U.S. efforts on “Middle East peace”—spoke to the audience gathered at the new embassy, Israeli troops continued to use live ammunition to kill dozens of Palestinians, and by the time Kushner’s speech ended, the death toll had risen to 43 for the most recent protests. Even some of the people attending and speaking at the embassy opening are extreme. Highlights include: Rev. Robert Jeffress, who has said Islam “promotes pedophilia” and called Judaism “a path to hell,” and Pastor John Hagee, who told Breitbart that Trump would win “political immortality” for his decision.
The tragic loss of life on the Gaza Strip is horrific, but not surprising. Since Trump’s announcement of the embassy move, experts had warned that the decision would lead to violence and would result in a damaging blow to the U.S.’s ability to moderate peace in that region. Protests have been happening since the announcement, and are likely to continue. The move also comes at a time when the “Trump administration is undercutting the important tools of U.S. diplomacy at the State Department,” according to the Center for American Progress’s vice president for National Security and International Policy, Kelly Magsamen. To read some of CAP’s suggestions for moving towards peace in the Middle East, check out their analysis here and here.
ACTION OF THE DAY
Track the growing #CultureOfCorruption. Multiple times every day, our notifications buzz with new scandals coming out of the Trump Administration. It’s nearly impossible to keep track, but we’re here to help! Check out Corruptipedia.org, our new website devoted to tracking Trump and his Cabinet’s #CultureOfCorruption. Have tips? Send them our way using the built-in form.
Profiting on Misconduct. In yet another illustration of the #CultureOfCorruption festering in Trump’s Washington, an investigative team at the Department of Education is being quietly dismantled. The team focused on “investigating widespread abuses by for-profit colleges,” and it had several major investigations pending at the end of the Obama administration. Now, with members being reassigned and the scope of the investigations being scaled back, DeVos and her deputies have “effectively killed investigations into possibly fraudulent activities at several large for-profit colleges where top hires [of DeVos] had previously worked.” Unsurprisingly, DeVos revealed in her ethics paperwork that she has personal financial investments in firms that separately owned or invested in for-profit colleges.
Pruitt Seeks to Block Science While Harming Health, Again. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is no friend of science and facts, and twice tried to keep them from going public in recent weeks. First, in another move to benefit his friends in industry, Pruitt plans to issue guidance suggesting that regulators should take into account the cost of implementing stronger air quality standards under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) program. Second, a series of emails obtained by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that EPA and other agencies sought to prevent the release of a Health and Human Services report warning of the severity of two toxic chemicals and recommending stronger safeguards and cleanup standards. Both underscore just how unfit Pruitt is to serve as administrator of an agency that touts protecting public health in its mission statement.
ICYMI. Last week, after multiple failed attempts, the Louisiana House advanced a bill which aims to “eliminate a more than four-decade-old Louisiana law that prohibits all felons on probation and parole from voting.” The bill would restore voting rights five years after prison release, marking the first time since 1976 that individuals on probation and parole would be able to register to vote in the state. Voting rights restoration is a vital part of re-entry, and would “provide unnecessary obstacles to re-entry and bolster a system that continuously oppresses people of color.” The bill will now be considered by the state Senate.