Ethics, Healthcare, Science, Taxes

Four Hundred Trump-Bannon Minions Are Taking Over the Government

Huge Caterpillar Raid Is Tied to an Accounting Fraud Intended to Dupe Investors

Beachhead teams. Top-level appointments still drag, but Trump and Bannon have installed more than 400 people in important mid-level jobs throughout the government, positions that don’t need Senate confirmation or the scrutiny that goes with the confirmation process. ProPublica looked at the hires and found at least 36 lobbyists, a man who graduated from high school in 2015 and a former reality-TV-show contestant who invented a bow and arrow that doubles as a compass, tent pole, walking stick, spearfishing rig and water purification tablet receptacle. These “beachhead team” members are temporary, but many could end up staying on in the Trump administration.

Catfight. A report commissioned by the federal government accuses Caterpillar Inc. of using tax and accounting fraud to prop up its stock price. Caterpillar was raided last

Photo by Shaun Greiner

week by investigators from three federal agencies. The search warrant, posted online by the Peoria Journal Star, includes seizing “counter-forensic programs and associated data that are designed to eliminate data.” The company said the raids were likely related to the tax investigation. In February, Trump told Cat CEO Doug Oberhelman, “I love Caterpillar,” at a White House meeting of CEOs. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and VA head David Shulkin listed investments in Caterpillar in their ethics disclosures. Tillerson planned to sell his Cat shares after he was confirmed.

Farm aid. Farmers celebrated the news that Trump would repeal an environmental rule that didn’t even apply to them, the Waters of the United States rule. The regulation defined which bodies of water are covered by the Clean Water Act. Agriculture groups had lobbied against the rule even though it doesn’t actually apply to farms.Withdrawing the Waters of the United States rule could take at least 18 months, Bloomberg reported.

Mumps, measles and whooping cough. Trump has flattered the anti-vaccine movement, and the Republican health plan would decimate funding for vaccines and public health, Vox reports. Cases of mumps, measles and whooping cough have risen as anti-vaxxers, many from affluent communities, preach the “choice” of not vaccinating their children.

Tornadoes. Preliminary reports of tornadoes are the highest in five years, but the agency that oversees weather forecasting is facing a 17 percent budget cut which could hurt improvements in forecasting and put people at risk.

March 11, 2017