👋 Away Message: So we had a little scheduling snafu here at WTF HQ, where both myself and Joe (voice of the pod) double-booked ourselves with personal and professional obligations next week. Oopsie! Not a very great job using a calendar on my part, I guess. On the other hand, it appears the government isn't going to be open for business anyway... Unless something truly WTF-y happens, I'll see you all again on Tuesday, October 10th, because Monday is a holiday (Indigenous Peoples' Day).
In the mean time, try our little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding and for being here. I'm going to miss you.
Send your thoughts, suggestions, or complaints to:
1/ Trump delayed imposing tariffs on some Chinese imports until December. Trump told reporters that he delayed tariffs “for the Christmas season” on cellphones, laptop computers, video game consoles, and certain types of footwear and clothing “just in case” there would be a negative impact on shoppers during the holidays. The 10% tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports will be delayed until Dec. 15, instead of taking effect on Sept. 1 as Trump originally announced. The U.S. Trade Representative office said certain products will also be taken off the list based on “health, safety, national security and other factors.” Markets rallied on the news. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CNBC / Axios)
2/ Trump’s tax cuts, reduced regulation, and tariffs have been ineffective at drawing factory investment and jobs from abroad. Instead, Trump’s trade policies have pushed factory activity to low-cost Asian countries, like Vietnam. Foreign and domestic business investment briefly accelerated after Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax-cut package in late 2017, but then slowed. In Trump’s first two years in office, companies announced plans to relocate about 145,000 factory jobs to the U.S. However, more than half of those jobs were announced in 2017 – before Trump’s tax cuts took effect. (New York Times)
3/ Trump tried to take credit for the construction of Shell’s petrochemicals complex in western Pennsylvania, which will turn the natural gas deposits into plastics. “This would have never happened without me and us,” Trump told a crowd of thousands of workers. Shell, however, announced its plans to build the complex in 2012, when Obama was in office. (Associated Press)
4/ A coalition of 22 states and seven cities sued to block the Trump administration from easing restrictions on coal-burning power plants, saying the EPA had no basis for weakening the Clean Power Plan that set national limits on carbon dioxide pollution from power plants. The lawsuit argues that the Affordable Clean Energy rule ignores the EPA’s responsibility to set limits on greenhouse gases and that the new rule would extend the life of dirty and aging coal-burning plants, increasing pollution instead of curbing it. (New York Times)
🌡 America’s fastest-warming places: Extreme climate change has arrived. (Washington Post)
📌 Day 931: Climate change is putting pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself, according to a new United Nations report that was prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and, unanimously approved. The report warns that the world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates” and “the cycle is accelerating.” Climate change has already degraded lands, caused deserts to expand, permafrost to thaw, and made forests more vulnerable to drought, fire, pests and disease. “The stability of food supply is projected to decrease as the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events that disrupt food chains increases,” the report said. The report offered several proposals for addressing food supplies, including reducing red meat consumption, adopting plant-based diets, and eating more fruits, vegetables and seeds. As a result, the world could reduce carbon pollution up to 15% of current emissions levels by 2050. It would also make people healthier. (New York Times / Associated Press / Nature)
📌Day 627: A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and “there is no documented historic precedent” for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)
📌Day 676: The National Climate Assessment concludes that global warming is already “transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us.” The findings from the landmark scientific report, issued by 13 federal agencies, are at odds with the Trump administration’s environmental deregulation agenda, which Trump claims will lead to economic growth, and its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The report predicts that the effects of global warming could eliminate as much as 10% of the U.S. economy by the end of the century, and warns that humans must act aggressively now “to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.” The first report, released in November 2017, concluded that there is “no convincing alternative explanation” for the changing climate other than “human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases.” Trump recently questioned the science of climate change, saying that “I don’t know that it’s man-made” and that the warming trend “could very well go back.” (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)
📌 Day 685: Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record. Global emissions grew 1.6% in 2017 with 2018 expected to increase 2.7%. The U.S. is the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon emissions, but that hasn’t stopped the Trump administration from moving to roll back regulations designed to limit those emissions from vehicle tailpipes and power-plant smokestacks. As United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said this week at the opening of the 24th annual U.N. climate conference: “We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change.” (Washington Post / New York Times)
5/ The Justice Department moved to decertify the union representing hundreds of U.S. immigration judges. The DOJ filed a petition asking the Federal Labor Relations Authority to review the certification of the National Association of Immigration Judges and determine whether it should be revoked “because the bargaining unit members are management officials under the statutory definition.” The NAIJ represents some 440 immigration judges across the country. (NPR)
6/ The acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services suggested that only immigrants who can “stand on their own two feet” are welcome in the United States. Ken Cuccinelli’s comment came after being asked if the words of the poem displayed on the Statue of Liberty’s pedestal still remain “part of the American ethos.” Cuccinelli replied: “They certainly are. Give me your tired and your poor — who can stand on their own two feet and who will not become a public charge.” The Trump administration announced a “public charge” regulation yesterday, allowing federal officials to deny green cards to legal immigrants who have received certain public benefits or who are deemed likely to do so in the future. (Politico / CNN / NPR)
- 📌 Day 935: The Trump administration made it harder for legal immigrants who rely on government benefit programs to obtain permanent legal status as part of a new policy aimed at reducing legal immigration and cutting down the number of poor immigrants. The new regulation makes it easier for federal officials to deny green cards and visa applications to legal immigrants who have received public benefits, such as Medicaid, food stamps, or housing vouchers, have low incomes, or little education, deeming them more likely to need government assistance in the future. Wealth, education, age and English-language skills will take on greater importance for obtaining a green card, as the change seeks to redefine what it means to be a “public charge.” (CNN / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)
poll/ 72% of Americans say there should be a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants. Only a quarter of respondents said there should be a national law enforcement effort to deport all undocumented immigrants. 54% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents agree that there should be a legal way for undocumented immigrants to remain in the country, but that number is down 5% since March 2017. (Pew Research Center)
Become a member.
Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.