EPA head Scott Pruitt’s first-class travel is costing a fortune

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reportedly spent tens of thousands of dollars on the travel decisions of administrator Scott Pruitt.

Pruitt is often booked on first or business-class flights, but federal regulations mandate that government employees like Pruitt should take every measure to select the least expensive method of travel that suits their security needs and gets them to their appointed location on time.

According to travel records obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project, Pruitt’s travel cost more than $90,000 last June alone, the Washington Post reports.

Pruitt took a first-class flight from Washington D.C. to New York City on June 5, 2017, that cost $1,641.43, according to the report. A similar flight on coach could cost as little as $293.

The documents claim that the increased flight costs are due to “unspecified security concerns,” the newspaper reported. Pruitt has round-the-clock security detail that costs taxpayers about $2 million per year in salaries, according to CNN. The EPA reportedly receives numerous threats to Pruitt’s safety, with 32 percent of received threats directed at Pruitt, compared with 9 percent of direct threats against his predecessor Gina McCarthy.

Pruitt’s travel and security spending are much larger than previous administrators Lisa Jackson and McCarthy.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman defended Pruitt’s travel spending.“He’s trying to further positive environmental outcomes and achieve tangible environmental results” Bowman told the Post, adding that Pruitt is “hearing directly from people affected by the EPA’s regulatory overreach.”

According to travel vouchers, that means spending $2,903.56 on a trip to Colorado Springs to speak at the Heritage Foundation’s Resource Bank meeting last May, and $1,980.34 to head to Tulsa for a tour of the Brainerd Chemical Co. a week later. 

While Pruitt does occasionally travel coach, the Post reports, he often stays at luxury hotels and chooses to fly Delta, despite the fact that the government contracts with certain airlines to fly specific routes. The EPA also declines to publicize Pruitt’s trips, again citing security concerns and breaking with previous administrations. Last June, Pruitt and his staff flew to New York from Cincinnati on a military jet to the tune of $36,068.50 to catch a flight to Rome. That flight cost $7,003.52 for Pruitt alone. According to the Post, Pruitt was joined by his aides and security detail for private tours of the Vatican before traveling to Bologna to meet with other environmental ministers.

Scrutiny of Pruitt’s lavish spending comes after revelations that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin flew on military jets multiple times over a period of seven months last year, costing taxpayers $800,000. It also comes after the departure of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price for his excessive travel expenditures.

You can read all of the Washington Post‘s report here. The Daily Dot has been collecting records of travel and costs of President Donald Trump‘s cabinet.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/scott-pruitt-epa-travel/

Sen. Tammy Duckworth will be the first sitting senator to give birth

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Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) is pregnant, and she’ll be the first sitting senator to give birth, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday.

Duckworth, 49, is expecting to give birth to her second child—a girl—in late April. Only 10 members of Congress have given birth while in office, and all of them were serving in the House at the time. Duckworth will be the first senator to have a baby while serving in the chamber.

“You’ve got to keep working,” she told the Chicago Tribune. “But I’m healthy. I’m well-monitored, and the doctors say I’m doing just fine.”

Duckworth, a retired lieutenant colonel who served 23 years in the Illinois Army National Guard, lost both her legs when her Black Hawk helicopter was shot down in Iraq in 2004. She served two terms in the House for Illinois’ 8th Congressional District and became the second female U.S. senator elected in the state in 2016. 

Duckworth had her first daughter, 3-year-old Abigail, while she was serving in the House.

Drawing from her experiences with Abigail, Duckworth has advocated for airports to provide places for breastfeeding mothers to pump milk; for the military to give personnel bonding time with their babies; and for students to have access to on-campus child care.

She is a sponsor or co-sponsor of multiple bills concerning infant and parent health, including affordable child care and paid parental leave, the Sun-Times reported. It is unclear how much time Duckworth will take for her own maternity leave after the birth of her second child.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who identifies as a feminist, made waves last week when she announced she’ll be taking six weeks of maternity leave when she has a baby in June.

Duckworth told the Tribune “it’s about damn time” a woman will give birth while serving in the Senate.

“I can’t believe it took until 2018,” she said. “It says something about the inequality of representation that exists in our country.”

H/T Chicago Sun-Times

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/tammy-duckworth-pregnant/

Stan Lee accused of sexually harassing, groping home health nurses

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Longtime Marvel executive and comics creator Stan Lee, 95, has been accused of sexually harassing and assaulting home health nurses at his Los Angeles residence, according to a new report.

The Daily Mail, citing an unnamed source “with knowledge of the situation,” says Lee repeatedly groped young, female nurses, asked them for crude sexual favors, and walked around in front of them nude. The nursing company—also unnamed—told the news outlet that it cut ties with Lee late last year. The owner confirmed to the Daily Mail through a rep that she had received several complaints from nurses who worked with Lee.

Lee’s attorney, Tom Lallas, told the Daily Mail that Lee “categorically denies these false and despicable allegations and he fully intends to fight to protect his stellar good name and impeccable character.” Lallas sent a cease and desist letter to the nursing company on Dec. 20, which, according to the Daily Mail, accuses “individuals” at the nursing company for making defamatory claims against Lee. Lallas also alleges Lee is the target of extortion.

A representative of Vitale Nursing Inc., the home nursing company Lee now uses, told the Daily Mail that Lee has been “polite, kind, and respectful.” Lee’s company, POW! Entertainment, declined to comment on “personal issues” relating to Lee.

H/T The Daily Mail

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/stan-lee-accused-sexual-harassment/

California, Illinois laws require free tampons in public schools

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Good news for cis girls (and trans boys) in Illinois and California: New laws now ban public schools in both states from charging for tampons and other menstrual care items.

In California’s case, Assembly Bill No. 10 requires schools with “any combination of classes from grade 6 to grade 12” that has a “40 percent pupil poverty threshold” to include feminine hygiene products, like tampons and pads, in 50 percent of all school restrooms. In exchange, the state government will reimburse associated costs. Meanwhile, Illinois’ Public Act 100-0163 calls feminine hygiene products “a health care necessity,” stating that tampons and menstrual pads must be included in public schools bathrooms servicing grades 6 through 12.

“Feminine hygiene products are a health care necessity and not an item that can be foregone or substituted easily,” Illinois’ act explains. “When students do not have access to affordable feminine hygiene products, they may miss multiple days of school every month.”

While charging for period products remains widely common in U.S. schools and public restrooms, Illinois and California aren’t alone in providing menstrual products. New York City mandates free tampons and pads in schools, particularly focusing on low-income students. Meanwhile, Brown University students have pushed for tampons and pads in the men’s room, stressing that trans men can experience periods, too. Slowly (very slowly), the U.S. is finally fighting the taboo on menstruation, one bathroom at a time.

H/T the Lily

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/california-illinois-feminine-hygiene-products-schools/

Utah cop who dragged nurse in viral video has been fired

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University of Utah nurse Alex Wubbels was seen being forcibly handcuffed and dragged by Salt Lake City police Detective Jeff Payne in a video that went viral last month. It caused public outcry that ultimately led the Salt Lake City mayor and police chief to apologize. Now, more than a month later, the police department has fired Payne from the force.

In the filmed incident, which actually happened in July, Payne repeatedly requested permission to draw blood from a patient who suffered serious burns from a head-on collision. Without a search warrant or the patient’s permission, Payne had no right to draw blood, but he remained insistent with Wubbels. Eventually, after Wubbels phoned her supervisor on the matter, Payne pushed Wubbels outside the hospital and handcuffed her, dragging her to the side. She wasn’t charged, but in the video depicting her arrest, she appears visibly shaken, screaming for help.

During an internal investigation in September, the police department concluded that both Payne and his watch commander, Lt. James Tracey, disregarded the department’s arrest and officer conduct policies when Payne handcuffed Wubbels. In light of the investigation, the department decided to fire Payne, while his commander was demoted back to officer.

“The decision… is in keeping with the high level of accountability we owe the people of Salt Lake City,” Mayor Jackie Biskupski explained, according to CNN. “In making his decision, I am confident Chief Brown balanced the unique stresses each of our police officers deal with daily, and the responsibility they have as leaders in our community.”

H/T Associated Press

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/utah-detective-fired-arresting-nurse/

GOP senator tells high school students access to food, healthcare is a ‘privilege’

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In schools across America, most children are taught that food, shelter, and clothing are basic needs. But one GOP senator considers these tools for survival a “privilege,” not a right.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) spoke to high school students in his home state on Friday, and one student in the audience asked, in the face of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, if Johnson believes healthcare is a “privilege or a right.” Johnson went on to claim it’s the former, not the latter.

“Do you consider food a right?” the senator asked the students, WISN 12 reports. “Do you consider clothing a right? Do you consider shelter a right? What we have as rights is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Past that point, we have the right to freedom. Past that point is a limited resource that we have to use our opportunities given to us to afford those things.”

Like many Republican senators, Johnson believes engaging with (and succeeding on) the free market is the key to healthcare. Instead of making it a universal right, Johnson criticized state-funded medical care, encouraging lawmakers to improve the economy so as many people as possible can afford healthcare.

“I think it’s obviously a privilege to have food and shelter,” he said. “What we need to do as public officials is try and have our economy healthy so that we have as much prosperity as possible so that we can actually increase the resources available for as high a quality and highly accessible health care as we possibly can.”

Johnson, of course, supports repealing the Affordable Care Act and replacing it with a Republican-backed healthcare system, which could leave millions uninsured. So far, the GOP’s plans for healthcare haven’t passed the Senate, leaving the ACA in-tact for now.

H/T Splinter

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/republican-senator-health-care-privilege/

Kid Rocks unfurls another political rant: ‘Why, these days, is everything so gay?’

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As the National Action Network’s Detroit chapter protested outside, Kid Rock made another profanity-laden stump speech in Detroit at his concert Tuesday.

This time, the musician addressed gay rights and rehashing his views on racism and “deadbeat dads.”

“Why, these days, is everything so gay?” he asked the crowd midway through his speech (which sort of rhymed).

Immediately after voicing support for gay marriage (“I say let gay folks get married if they want to”), Kid Rock made clear that he does not support transgender rights.

“No you don’t get to choose because whatever you have between your legs should determine the bathroom that you use,” he said.

The musician, whose real name is Robert Ritchie, has not made an official announcement on whether he’s running for U.S. Senate, but he was welcomed to the stage as “the next senator of the great state of Michigan.”

He has been a loud supporter of President Donald Trump and launched a “Kid Rock for Senate” website earlier in the summer.

It’s also the second time in a week that Kid Rock has gone on a political rant in front of a crowd, even after a nonpartisan ethics organization filed a complaint against him for “failing to register his candidacy.”

Read the full text of the speech below, via Time.

“Well, well what a crowd. I said well, well what a crowd. What’s going on the in the world today? Seems the government wants to give everyone health insurance but wants us all to pay.

And to be very frank, I really don’t have a problem with that, since God has blessed me and made my pockets fat. But redistribution of wealth seems more like their plan. And I don’t believe you should save, sacrifice, do things by the book and then have to take care of some deadbeat, milking the system, lazy a– motherf—ing man.

Now, the issue of struggling single parents is an issue close to my heart. But read my lips: We should not reward those who can’t even take care of themselves but keep having kid after f—ing kid.

Of course, of course we should help them out. I don’t want to stand here and sound like a jerk. But let’s help ’em out with child care, job training and find them a f—ing place to work. And you deadbeat dads, who refuse to be a man, who refuse to be there for their sons and raise them up to be good men. You no good derelict sperm donors wannabes. I say lock all you a–holes up and throw away the f–king keys.

And if you wanna take a knee and sit there during our Star Spangled Banner, call me a racist because I’m not PC and think you have to remind me that black lives matter. Nazis. F–king bigots. And now again the KKK? I say f–k all you racists. Stay the hell away.

And why, these days, is everything so gay? Gay rights, transgender this and that. I say let gay folks get married if they want to and I’m not even close to a deathtrap. But things shouldn’t be this complicated, and no you don’t get to choose because whatever you have between your legs should determine the bathroom that you use.

It’s no secret we’re divided and we all should take some blame, and we all should be ashamed because we all seem scared to call him by his name . So please, almighty Jesus, if you’re looking down on us tonight, please guide us with your wisdom and give us strength to fight. To fight the tyrant evils that lurk here and abroad and remind us all we are just one nation under God.

And I do believe it to be self evident, that we’re all created equal. I said it once, I’ll scream it again: I love black people. And I love white people, too. But neither as much as I love red, white and blue.

And if Kid Rock said it, it’s got some folks in disarray, wait ’til you hear Kid Rock for the President of the USA. Cause wouldn’t it be a sight to see, President Kid Rock in Washington DC. Standing on the desk in the Oval Office like a G. Holding my d–k ready to address the whole country.

I’d look them straight in the eyes, the eyes of the nation live on TV, and I’d say to them, ‘You ever met a motherf—er quite like me?’”

H/T Entertainment Weekly

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/kid-rock-stump-speech/

Trump praises non-existent African country in speech to African leaders

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Speaking before a group of African leaders at the United Nations on Wednesday, President Donald Trump cited the progress of Nambia’s health system. The problem is, Nambia does not exist.

“In Guinea and Nigeria, you fought a horrifying Ebola outbreak, Trump said. “Nambia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient.”

Trump likely meant Namibia, which does exist. The president delivered his remarks during a lunch attended by leaders from Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Guinea, Senegal, Namibia, and Uganda.

Unlike several other countries in West Africa last year, Namibia was spared the deadly Ebola outbreak in 2016 that caused widespread panic, including in the United States. Given Ebola outbreaks in other African countries, Namibia boosted its health system to prepare for possible infections in the southwestern African nation.

Trump began his speech before the African leaders by touting the economic potential in African nations, saying that “so many” of his friends are “going to your countries trying to get rich.”

“Africa has tremendous business potential,” Trump said. “I have so many friends going to your countries trying to get rich, I congratulate you. They are spending a lot of money. But it does, it has tremendous business potential.”

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/layer8/trump-nambia-african-leaders-speech/

Pregnant woman denied service at steakhouse over crop top

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A pregnant woman says she was kicked out of a Washington steakhouse chain this weekend because she was wearing a crop top.

Photo via Charisha Raylee Gobin/Little Things (Fair Use) Remix by Jason Reed

In a now-deleted Facebook post, Charisha Raylee Gobin wrote that she went to Buzz Inn in Marysville to have dinner with her mother and sister when a server approached her and said the restaurant had “no shoes, no shirt, no service” policy. Gobin was wearing shoes and a shirt. She is also seven-and-a-half months pregnant with twins, which was obvious due to the nature of her crop top that humorously read “weirdo.” The server also allegedly told Gobin that her outfit violated the restaurant’s “health code.”

Angry that she was possibly being shamed for being pregnant (or dressing “inappropriately” for a pregnant woman), Gobin took to Facebook to tell her story, which quickly went viral.

On Monday, Buzz Inn apologized for the “misunderstanding” and said that the server, who has been with the company for nearly 20 years, was just trying to “use her best judgement .”

We sincerely apologize for the misunderstanding and will cover with all staff as to how to not overly enforce a rule…

Posted by Buzz Inn Marysville on Monday, September 4, 2017

As compensation, may we suggest a lifetime supply of rib-eyes for Gobin to enjoy while wearing whatever the hell she chooses?

H/T Little Things

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/irl/pregnant-woman-crop-top/