Pruitt Confirmed As EPA Head Without Full Vetting

Republicans have confirmed the appointment of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency without a full vetting of his well-known and established ties to the oil and gas industry.

That might seem like old and expected news by now, but Pruitt has just been ordered to release hundreds of emails based on an open records request submitted about two years ago by the Center for Media and Democracy. Pruitt had stonewalled on the request, but now a local judge has ordered him to turn over the information.

Perhaps, it might seem redundant to further establish that Pruitt, as the state’s attorney general, served the interests of the oil and gas industry far more than he worked to ensure the viability and extension of the state’s environmental health.

We already know, for example, that he sent a letter to the EPA during his tenure, arguing it had over estimated the amount of air pollution coming from oil and gas activity. The letter, as we found out, was actually written by staff of Devon Energy, a local Oklahoma City firm.

We already know, too, that oil baron and billionaire Harold Hamm, the founder and chief executive officer of Continental Resources, another Oklahoma City oil and gas firm, served as an honorary chairman for Pruitt’s most recent campaign.

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Oklahoma Legislator: Women Are Body Hosts

One of the controversial anti-abortion bills receiving consideration by the Oklahoma Legislature this session has drawn widespread media attention and has embarrassed the state throughout the nation once again.

House Bill 1441, sponsored by Justin Humphey, a Republican from Lane in southeastern Oklahoma, would require women seeking an abortion to have the "written informed consent of the father" before proceeding. The provision alone is ludicrous in its essence because it doesn’t take into account many factors, such the basic right of women to control their bodies to the myriad of situations that could lead to an unwanted pregnancy.

But it was what Humphrey said about the bill that drew coverage throughout the country. In an interview with The Intercept site, Humphrey said:

I understand that they [women] feel like that is their body. I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant. So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.

But what if the birth control failed or what if the woman doesn’t want her sexual partner to know about it or what if the relationship situation doesn’t warrant discussing the issue with anyone but medical professionals? These are just some of the issues.

The idea that women are just hosts for pregnancies and don’t have personal agency when it comes to their bodies is an insult to them.

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Flynn Resignation Creates More Questions Than It Answers

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s resignation on Monday over the ongoing controversy surrounding the Trump regime’s connection to the Russian government is a good sign some of our country’s major institutions—our spy agencies, the U.S Justice Department under former leadership, the media—are still holding up.

It’s a hopeful sign but still meager, and it’s only a beginning, and there’s still so much missing, mainly information about the authoritarian President Donald Trump’s personal, financial and campaign connections with the government of Russia. Because Trump has refused to release his tax records, for example, and with the ongoing complicity of his voter base and disinterested fellow Republican colleagues, we still don’t know the extent of his business dealings in Russia.

Just knowing specifically how much money Trump business concerns have and perhaps still are generating from Russian ties would, at the very least, open up more avenues for media scrutiny and perhaps force real official investigations.

Let’s back up. Flynn resigned Monday after it became clear that after the Nov. 8 election he discussed with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak the sanctions former President Barack Obama issued against Russia for meddling in our recent presidential election by hacking into Democratic Party email accounts and then revealing content that hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

As an aside, it’s important to note the mainstream media reported the content of these emails with breathless urgency, although they revealed little but what seemed like typical infighting in a political campaign. The mainstream media frame, however, made them seem like a huge deal. Meanwhile, the real story—the Russian hacks and the Trump campaign’s apparent ties to Russia—wasn’t pursued with the same breathless urgency before and after the election until now. That is and remains the real story because it deals with how an authoritarian government and longtime adversary of the U.S. meddled in our election to get a particular candidate elected president. The story has grown by immense proportions in the media now that Trump is president, but it has been around for the telling for a while now.

Flynn initially told the press he didn’t discuss the sanctions with the ambassador to perhaps tell him they would be mitigated under a Trump administration, which, if true, might have even been against the law, according to some speculation, but then he backed away from that initial claim and indicated it might have been possible he actually did discuss the sanctions. It also became apparent he at least told Vice President Mike Pence in the Trump administration that he hadn’t discussed the sanctions. Pence had defended Flynn, repeating his lie.

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