Saturday midday open thread. Poll: Americans trust FBI over Trump; EPA weak-kneed on polluter fines

• What’s coming up on Sunday Kos …

° Black History Month: Loiza—the African heart of Puerto Rico and the arts that portray it, by Denise Oliver Velez

° Donnie, just pop a Viagra. It’s cheaper than a military parade, by Mark E Andersen

° Path to resistance may travel through faith, by Sher Watts Spooner

° Why companies like Disney are willing to give out temporary bonuses, by David Akadjian

° Racism and prejudice: It’s so damn exhausting but can make one stronger, by Egberto Willies

° The president’s address to the nation on Russian cyber aggression, by Jon Perr

° Budget-busting deal shows that Barack Obama was much better at business than Trump, by Ian Reifowitz

Surprise! EPA has fined far fewer polluters under Trump than under Obama:

Numbers released Thursday by the EPA in its annual enforcement report revealed that polluters were fined a total of $1.6 billion in penalties in fiscal year 2017 — about a fifth of the $5.7 billion EPA penalties collected the year prior, under President Obama.

The drop in the EPA’s enforcement of regulations is even more stark when looking specifically at the agency’s actions on injunction relief — the monetary commitments polluters pledge to spend in order to remediate their pollution and keep it from reoccurring.  

The EPA report shows that injunctive relief in 2017 stood at $20 billion, compared to 2016’s $13.7 billion, but $15.9 billion of the recent total come from the landmark Volkswagen settlement. When the settlement is taken out of the calculation, injunctive relief payments in fiscal year 2017 totaled just $4 billion — less than a third of 2016’s numbers and less than half of 2015’s.

If every planned coal plant gets built, reaching emissions-cutting goals is out of the question: An analysis of global coal plans shows that India, China, Turkey, Vietnam, and Indonesia are home to “nearly three quarters (73 percent) of the global coal-fired capacity that is currently under construction or planned.” The global “carbon budget” allows that there are only about 700 billion tons of carbon dioxide that can still be emitted if we are to keep the average global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius. Just by themselves, already-operating coal plants and other fossil-fuel infrastructure could inject 500 billion tons of that CO2 into the atmosphere if they aren’t shut down before their estimated life-spans expire. Coal plants that are in the planning stages or already under construction would add another 150 billion tons. 



Big majority of Americans trust the FBI and Mueller probe, not Trump:

Two-thirds of Americans (66%) say, if President Donald Trump and the FBI disagree, they would believe the FBI over the president. Only 24% of U.S. residents report they would take the side of Mr. Trump. With the exception of the president’s most ardent supporters, more Americans put credence in the FBI than in the president. […]

Although 49% of Republicans believe the FBI has a grievance against Mr. Trump, more than four in ten (43%) say the Bureau is just carrying out its duties. […]

The poll has more bad news for Trump, in that if Americans were forced to pick a side between Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, more would believe Mueller (55 percent) than the president (30 percent).

EPI: Stock market not gyrating because the economy is “overstimulated.”

Unions find a new champion—Black Lives Matter:

Unions have suffered as manufacturing has moved south away from their old strongholds in the north of the US. Membership rates were 10.7% in 2016, down from 20.1% in 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time the shift from manufacturing to service industry jobs has hurt them too.

But as the Black Lives Matter and other social justice campaigns increasingly focus on economic justice, unions see a new opportunity. And ironically, a series of defeats for labor in the south is helping to fire up recruitment drives and attracting international support in the process.

Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at, and find a live stream there, by searching for “Netroots Radio.”