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Category Archives: Domestic terrorism

DC Area Lawmakers Ask FBI to Help Search for Missing Black and Brown Girls

Eleanor Holmes Norten and others call for FBI help on solving the recent rash of disappearances…

The Twitter thing is great. The only issue I have is there needs to be a focus on all women and girls of color, and not just black girls.

Lawmakers Call on FBI to Help on Missing Black Girls

Image result for DC Missing girls March

Black lawmakers are putting pressure on the FBI to help investigate the number of missing black minors in Washington, D.C., the Associated Press reports.

In recent weeks, social media users have been tweeting about the lack of media coverage of missing black and Hispanic girls in Washington, D.C. using the hashtag #MissingDcGirls. In the first three months of 2017, D.C. saw 501 cases of missing children and teens, many of whom are black or Latino. Twenty-two of these cases remain unsolved as of March 22

AP reported that Congressional Black Caucus chairman Cedric Richmond and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents D.C. in Congress, penned a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to ask that their departments “devote the resources necessary to determine whether these developments are an anomaly or whether they are indicative of an underlying trend that must be addressed.”

“Ten children of color went missing in our nation’s capital in a period of two weeks and at first garnered very little media attention,” Richmond, who asked to schedule a meeting with Sessions, wrote. “That’s deeply disturbing.”

According to D.C. police, there hasn’t been an uptick in the number of missing children. But they’ve been posting missing person announcements more frequently on their Twitter feed, sparking concerns. Many of the missing children were girls, including 13-year-olds Yahshaiyah Enoch and Aniya McNeil; 15-year-olds Juliana Otero, Jacqueline Lassey, Dashann Trikia Wallace, Dayana White and Morgan Richardson; and 16-year-old Talisha Coles.

 

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Breaking the Alt-Right’s Piggy Bank

Surprised by Alt-Right and White Supremacist content on YouTube and Other sites…With Advertising for Coke or Pepsi right beside it?

While the tech companies were fine with it, and did little to filter it out – the big companies who buy ads aren’t happy at all.

Smack-down for the racist enabling tech companies.

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Major companies pulling advertisements a sign that many doubt Google’s ability to prevent marketing campaigns from appearing alongside repugnant videos

PepsiCo, Walmart and Starbucks on Friday confirmed that they have suspended their advertising on YouTube, joining a growing boycott in a sign that big companies doubt Google’s ability to prevent marketing campaigns from appearing alongside repugnant videos.

The companies pulled their ads after the Wall Street Journal found that Google’s automated programs placed their brands on five videos containing racist content. AT&T, Verizon, Volkswagen and several other companies pulled ads earlier this week.

“The content with which we are being associated is appalling and completely against our company values,” Walmart said in a Friday statement.

Besides suspending their spending on YouTube, Walmart, Pepsi and several other companies have said they will stop buying ads that Google places on more than 2m other third-party websites.

The defections are continuing even after Google apologized for tainting brands and outlined steps to ensure ads don’t appear alongside unsavory videos.

If Google can’t lure back advertisers, it could result in a loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Most analysts, though, doubt the ad boycott will seriously hurt Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet. Alphabet shares have fallen more than 3% since Monday, closing at $839.65 on Thursday.

Although they have been growing rapidly, YouTube’s ads still only represent a relatively small financial piece of Alphabet, whose revenue totaled $73.5bn last year after subtracting commissions paid to Google’s partners. YouTube accounted for $5.6bn, or nearly 8%, of that total, based on estimates from the research firm eMarketer.

Whether the recent events are a mere blip on the radar for Google or a harbinger of bigger problems to come may depend on whether the company can quickly improve its technical tools to give advertisers more control over where their ads appear.

YouTube has begun reviewing its advertising policies and will take steps to give advertisers more control, Philipp Schindler, Google’s chief business officer, wrote in a blogpost this week. Google also plans to hire more people for its review team and refine its artificial intelligence – a key step, since much of the ad-serving is handled by automation.

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, acknowledged in a Fox News interview that ads appearing next to videos promoting hate speech or advocating violence had slipped through the digital cracks in Google’s elaborate ad-serving systems.

“We match ads and the content, but because we source the ads from everywhere, every once in a while somebody gets underneath the algorithm and they put in something that doesn’t match,” Schmidt said. “We’ve had to tighten our policies and actually increase our manual review time and so I think we’re going to be OK.”

But Google’s public statements have done little to assuage advertisers’ fears, said David Cohen, president, North America, for the media buying firm Magna Global.

Even before the most recent revelations about YouTube, control over online ad placement had become a hot-button topic for advertisers. Social networks and news aggregators came under fire during and after the US presidential election for spreading fake news reports, and advertisers have also sought to avoid having their brands appear beside content that they categorize as hate speech.

“Between non-human traffic and fraud, fake news and hate speech, brands are more concerned than ever,” said Marc Goldberg, CEO of Trust Metrics, a New York-based company that addresses ad fraud.

 

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White Student Who Wore Gorilla Mask to BLM Demonstration Gets Indicted

Another Trumpazoid soon headed to jail.

Student Who Wore Gorilla Mask and Disrupted Black Lives Matter Protest Indicted by Grand Jury

The former East Tennessee State University student who wore a gorilla mask and disrupted a Black Lives Matter protest on campus while carrying bananas and a rope has been indicted by a grand jury.

The Associated Press reports that Assistant District Attorney Erin McArdle confirmed that Tristan Rettke of Hendersonville, Tenn., was indicted by a Washington County grand jury on two counts of civil rights intimidation and two counts of disorderly conduct and disrupting a meeting.

As previously reported on The Root, Rettke showed up to the on-campus protest wearing overalls and gorilla mask. He carried bananas, a rope and a Confederate flag. He told Johnson City, Tenn., police that he used the items “to provoke the protesters.” Rettke reportedly dangled the bananas, tied with a rope, in people’s faces at the Sept. 28 protest.

AP reports that witnesses told the grand jury that Rettke used racial slurs, intimidated them and made them fearful.

From the Johnson City Press:

Thomas Madison, who was not part of the rally but stopped by on his way to a class, said he began videoing and asked Rettke what was his purpose for being there. On the video, Rettke can be heard saying in a muffled voice that he was there to support the protesters.

“He said, ‘I identify as a gorilla,’” Madison testified. “I took that as a reference to me being black. And I took him wearing a mask at a Black Lives Matter protest … the fact black people historically have been called monkeys.”

Madison also testified that he took the bananas being tied up with rope as “a very serious threat … when you come offer me a banana this close to my face, it’s calling me a monkey, and I’m not a monkey,” he said, demonstrating that Rettke was just inches from Madison’s face during the encounter.

Jaylen Grimes testified Rettke wrapped a rope around the bananas over and over, then pulled the ends of the rope, which sliced through the fruit. Grimes said he viewed the rope as a noose and took it as a reference to the historical lynching of African Americans.

Patrick Denton, Rettke’s attorney, says that his client was exercising his freedom of speech and didn’t intimidate anyone.

 

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Jewish Man Arrested in Israel for Bomb Threats Against Jewish Synagogues In US and Austrailia

The FBI got the Mossad on the case…Suspect arrested.

To be honest I suspected the alt-right, white right

Israel Arrests Man Suspected In Wave Of Bomb Threats Against Jewish Centers

A man in his late teens has been arrested in Israel as the “primary suspect” behind a string of phoned-in bomb threats to Jewish community centers across the U.S. and elsewhere.

The arrest was the result of an investigation by Israeli police and the FBI, a police spokesman says.

The suspect is Jewish and holds both Israeli and U.S. citizenship, according to multiple news outlets citing a police spokesman. His age has been variously reported as 18 or 19.

sraeli police say he was using masking technology to disguise the fact that he was making threatening calls to Jewish centers in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.

Authorities have not identified a motive.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the arrest “is the culmination of a large-scale investigation spanning multiple continents for hate crimes against Jewish communities across our country.”

As NPR has reported, multiple waves of bomb threats targeted Jewish community centers across America over the past three months. Each wave consisted of threats made by telephone, with multiple states and centers targeted at once. Day care centers were evacuated, and no actual bombs were ever located.

The Anti-Defamation League says there have been more than 160 bomb threats at 120 institutions in the U.S. and Canada.

A former journalist in St. Louis accused of making at least eight of the threats, allegedly as part of a cyberstalking campaign against an ex-girlfriend, was arrested March 3. NBC reports suggested that the St. Louis man was believed to have made “copycat” threats and was not suspected of carrying out the broader wave of threats.

The American-Israeli suspect, in contrast, is being identified as the “primary” suspect.

The Associated Press has more on the arrest:

“Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld described the suspect as a hacker but said his motives were still unclear. Police banned publication of his name but said he was an American-Israeli dual citizen and that he would remain in custody until at least March 30.

” ‘He’s the guy who was behind the JCC threats,’ Rosenfeld said, referring to the dozens of anonymous threats phoned in to Jewish community centers in the U.S. over the past two months. Israeli media said the man had been found unfit for compulsory military service.

“Israel’s Channel 10 TV showed footage of the suspect appearing in court in the central Israeli city of Rishon Letzion. He wore … a blue sweater that he used to cover his face as he walked past reporters.

“The channel said the young man had lived in the U.S. for a period of time and had been home-schooled. It showed images of a large antenna outside his house and said his father was also arrested.”

The FBI confirmed that “the individual suspected” of the threats had been arrested early Thursday in Israel but provided no other details.

Haaretz reports the arrest was carried out by an Israeli cyberattack police unit and that the suspect is not cooperating with police. Officers seized “computers and other items … including antennas he used to access other people’s networks” to mask his trail, the Israeli newspaper reports.

The president and CEO of the JCC Association of North America said he was “gratified” by the progress of the investigation.

“We are troubled to learn that the individual suspected of making these threats against Jewish Community Centers, which play a central role in the Jewish community, as well as serve as inclusive and welcoming places for all — is reportedly Jewish,” Doron Krakow said in a statement.

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Domestic terrorism

 

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Is the Alt-Right Media Under Russian Control? A Treasonous Cabal in the White-Right

It appears the Russians have been using the alt-right media to promote and advance fake news stories in a disinformation campaign. It is unknown at this point if there is any collusion between the far right sites and the Russians, or if there is, how much. Specifically Brietbart and Alex Jones “Infowars” have bee extensively penetrated and used as vehicles to promote anti-Democrat propaganda and fake news.

Can you say the words “Vast White Wing Conspiracy”?

The Russians easily are posting propaganda and fake news in the white right media, through an internet tool called a “bot”. Much of the information posted on these sites come from the KGB.

There is no evidence that any of the far right sites has done anything to stop it.

Raising the issue of collusion between these folks and Russia to reach certain political goals – such as the Chumph’s election.

It is inconceivable that this sort of broad based disinformation action by the Russians without the full support, collaboration, and permission of the American actors involved.

This treason goes a lot deeper than just the Chump’s Russian owned campaign. Putin’s Bitch is making claims like the now thoroughly debunked “Obama wiretapped the Trump Towers”, directly sourced from media controlled by the Russian KGB spy agency, and Putin’s desk. There is more than coincidental information leading to the existance of collusion between the white right media and the neo-communists,

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alt-right racist and former Brietbart head, Steve Bannon, now “National Security Adviser” and the Chumph’s right hand man, now may provide a direct link from the White House to the Russian KGB.

Breitbart and Infowars under investigation for ties to Russia: report

Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories — some fictional — that favored Donald Trump’s presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say.

Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as “bots,” to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said.

The bots’ end products were largely millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to stories on conservative internet sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars, as well as on the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News, the sources said. Some of the stories were false or mixed fact and fiction, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the bot attacks are part of an FBI-led investigation into a multifaceted Russian operation to influence last year’s elections.

Investigators examining the bot attacks are exploring whether the far-right news operations took any actions to assist Russia’s operatives. Their participation, however, wasn’t necessary for the bots to amplify their news through Twitter and Facebook.

The investigation of the bot-engineered traffic, which appears to be in its early stages, is being driven by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, whose inquiries rarely result in criminal charges and whose main task has been to reconstruct the nature of the Kremlin’s cyberattack and determine ways to prevent another.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment on the inquiry into the use of bots.

Russia-generated bots are one piece of a cyber puzzle that counterintelligence agents have sought to solve for nearly a year to determine the extent of the Moscow government’s electronic broadside.

“This may be one of the most highly impactful information operations in the history of intelligence,” said one former U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Bureau Director James Comey confirmed Monday at a House Intelligence Committee hearing what long has been reported: that the FBI is investigating possible links between individuals in the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian campaign to influence the election and whether there was any coordination between the two.

The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, one of multiple congressional panels examining Russia’s intervention, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that there was “circumstantial evidence of collusion.” There also is “direct evidence … of deception, and that’s where we begin the investigation,” said Rep. Adam Schiff of California.

U.S. intelligence agencies charged in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin had ordered the offensive, in which cyber operatives also hacked tens of thousands of emails from Democratic National Committee staff, Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta and other Democrats.

A top priority of investigators is to determine who delivered those hacked emails to WikiLeaks, a London-based transparency site that published them online, the sources said. News stories about the emails embarrassed Clinton at key points in the campaign. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has denied that the Russian government was the source of the email dump.

As for the bots, they carried links not only to news stories but also to Democratic emails posted on WikiLeaks, especially those hacked from Podesta and made public in October, said Philip Howard, a professor at the Oxford University Internet Institute who has researched the bot attacks.

Howard said that, as an example, bots had spread links to fictional stories that accused Clinton of involvement in running a child-sex ring in the basement of a Washington pizza parlor. The posts inspired a North Carolina man to drive to Washington and fire an assault weapon in the restaurant, according to police reports.

Howard’s study of bot-generated Twitter traffic during last fall’s Trump-Clinton campaign debates showed that bot messages favorable to Trump significantly outnumbered those sympathetic to Clinton.

He said his research showed that Americans who call themselves “patriotic programmers” also activated bots to aid Trump. In interviews, they described coding the computer commands in their spare time, Howard said.

Unlike counterintelligence investigators with more cyber sleuthing capabilities, Howard has not established that Russia was the source of the bot attacks he studied.

Russia also used “trolls,” hundreds of computer operatives who pretended to be Trump supporters and posted stories or comments on the internet complimentary to Trump or disparaging to Clinton. Sources close to the inquiry said those operatives likely worked from a facility in St. Petersburg, Russia, dedicated to that tactic.

“Russian bots and internet trolls sought to propagate stories underground,” said Mike Carpenter, a former senior Pentagon official during the Obama administration whose job focused on Russia. “Those stories got amplified by fringe elements of our media like Breitbart.”

“They very carefully timed release of information to shift the news cycle away from stories that clearly hurt Mr. Trump, such as his inappropriate conduct over the years,” he said, referring to the October release of a video in which Trump bragged about grabbing women’s genitals. That event corresponded with a surge in bot-related traffic spreading anti-Clinton stories.

An additional Russian tool was the news from its prime propaganda machine, Russia Today, with a global television and digital media operation and a U.S. arm, RT America.

Last Nov. 19, Breitbart announced that its website traffic had set a record the previous 31 days with 300 million page views, driven substantially by social media.

Breitbart, which has drawn criticism for pursuing a white nationalist agenda, was formerly led by Stephen Bannon, who became chief executive officer of Trump’s election campaign last August and now serves as Trump’s strategic adviser in the White House. The news site’s former national security editor, Sebastian Gorka, was a national security adviser to Trump’s campaign and presidential transition team. He now works as a key Trump counterterrorism adviser.

Breitbart’s chief executive officer, Larry Solov, did not respond to phone and email requests seeking comment.

Bannon and Gorka have controversial profiles. Bannon has been accused of taking anti-immigrant and racist positions. Last week, the Jewish newspaper Forward reported that Gorka had taken a lifelong loyalty oath to a Hungarian far-right group that for decades was allied with the Nazi Party.

The White House declined to respond to questions about Gorka.

Breitbart is partially owned by Robert Mercer, the wealthy co-founder of a New York hedge fund and a co-owner of Cambridge Analytica, a small, London-based firm credited with giving Trump a significant advantage in gauging voter priorities last year by providing his campaign with at least 5,000 data points on each of 220 million Americans.

InfoWars is published by Alex Jones, a Texas-based conservative talk show host known for embracing conspiracy theories such as one asserting that the U.S. government was involved in the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. During the 2016 campaign, InfoWars.com was a loyal Trump public relations tool. Trump was on Jones’ show and praised his reporting.

“It’s the major source of everything,” Roger Stone, a longtime Trump confidant and campaign adviser, said last fall. Stone, who has regularly appeared on Jones’ show and was on Monday, has said he invites an FBI investigation into his campaign role. The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked Stone to preserve documents in connection with the Russian election inquiry.

 

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The Chump Adopt Communist Party KGB Commissar System

Image result for russian communist commissarsIn the old communist Russia, or Soviet Union – all Military and production had two sets of managers. It was called the Commissar System. A loyal communist sat beside the manager, or military officer leading a group to assure absolute loyalty to the communist party, and adherence to it’s principles. Disobeying a Commissar often meant a quick trip to Lubyanka for torture, followed by a confession, and a relatively short stay for the rest of your life in a Siberian Gulag with few clothes. 20 some million fellow Russians were murdered this way by Stalin.

The fact is that Putin and his spies have been literally connected to Trump’s wallet, and figurative balls deep in Trump’s rump for at least the past 2 years.

So – now that Putin’s Bitch is installing his own political purity Commissars in the halls of the US Government, to assure lapdog adherence and fealty to his illicit regime…He’s on following the former KGB executive Putin’s guidance.

White House installs political aides at Cabinet agencies to be Trump’s eyes and ears

The political appointee charged with keeping watch over Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and his aides has offered unsolicited advice so often that after just four weeks on the job, Pruitt has shut him out of many staff meetings, according to two senior administration officials.

 

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Different Uniforms…Same Genocide. German SS Uniform

1935-1943 Soviet Red Army officers and commissars' winter service uniform.

Soviet Commisar Uniform

At the Pentagon, they’re privately calling the former Marine officer and fighter pilot who’s supposed to keep his eye on Defense Secretary Jim Mattis “the commissar,” according to a high-ranking defense official with knowledge of the situation. It’s a reference to Soviet-era Communist Party officials who were assigned to military units to ensure their commanders remained loyal.

Most members of President Trump’s Cabinet do not yet have leadership teams in place or even nominees for top deputies. But they do have an influential coterie of senior aides installed by the White House who are charged — above all — with monitoring the secretaries’ loyalty, according to eight officials in and outside the administration.

This shadow government of political appointees with the title of senior White House adviser is embedded at every Cabinet agency, with offices in or just outside the secretary’s suite. The White House has installed at least 16 of the advisers at departments including Energy and Health and Human Services and at some smaller agencies such as NASA, according to records first obtained by ProPublica through a Freedom of Information Act request.

These aides report not to the secretary, but to the Office of Cabinet Affairs, which is overseen by Rick Dearborn, a White House deputy chief of staff, according to administration officials. A top Dearborn aide, John Mashburn, leads a weekly conference call with the advisers, who are in constant contact with the White House.

The aides act as a go-between on policy matters for the agencies and the White House. Behind the scenes, though, they’re on another mission: to monitor Cabinet leaders and their top staffs to make sure they carry out the president’s agenda and don’t stray too far from the White House’s talking points, said several officials with knowledge of the arrangement.

“Especially when you’re starting a government and you have a changeover of parties when policies are going to be dramatically different, I think it’s something that’s smart,” said Barry Bennett, a former Trump campaign adviser. “Somebody needs to be there as the White House’s man on the scene. Because there’s no senior staff yet, they’re functioning as the White House’s voice and ears in these departments.”

 

 

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The Chumph Tries to Kill the Chesapeake Bay and Kill More Jobs

One of my favorite memories as a young boy was when visiting country relatives who lived along one of Virginia’s rivers emptying into the Chesapeake Bay. In the summer, we’d go fishing a few miles down river for the plentiful Sea Trout, Spot, Croaker, and Bluefish. And yes, “Croaker” is a type pf fish prevalent along the mid-Atlantic seaboard considered a delicacy by some, and a trash fish by others because it has lots of bones.

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Atlantic Croaker. So named because it makes a sound when caught. They breed in a 6 year cycle, and disappear for a year. Depending on year, they can range from 3-4″ to over 18″ in length.

In the fall Hunting season, the men in the Hunt Club would sometimes go out to the Oyster Grounds along the river, and collect bushels of the delicious bivalves. We would usually all ride on one of the flatbed Lumber Trucks, and wade out at low tide to chip Oysters off what is called Oyster rock, filling bushel baskets. Then on the way back home, “shuck” a few to eat raw, flavoring them with Vinegar, splitting up the catch so everyone had some to take home.

By the late 60’s – there just wen’t any Oysters.

The bay (and ocean side) has made a big comeback from the devastation of the Oyster stock by over-fishing and pollution. And a number of small aquaculture companies have had success in farming Oysters and Clams for the commercial market. I started “planting” my own clams, and raising Oysters in baskets which are designed to float, suspending the Oysters in a cage under water.

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While people both farm clams and use the floats for Oysters for commercial purposes, many people here who live along the water, or have access to a dock will raise Oysters or Clams for their own personal consumption. Originally the floats were designed to raise the Oysters above the bottom to avoid the deadly MX Virus, as well as pollution. Now, they are the basis of a sustainable aquaculture system.

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Now, Putin’s Bitch wants to take us back to the “bad old days” by destroying the very Chesapeake Bay clean up efforts which allowed the Oyster and Clam businesses on the bay to come back. POS needs to keep his freaking small paws off the Bay!

This is why the Farmers in my part of the world…

Weren’t stupid enough to vote for Trump

Chesapeake Bay’s Booming Oyster Industry Is Alarmed By Trump’s EPA Budget Cuts

Ryan Coxton resurrected his family’s oyster business in 2001 from the same muddy swath of Virginia river bottom his great-grandfather leased 102 years earlier. The slippery, jagged-shelled bivalves became so popular in the decades after the Civil War that a gold rush ensued in the Chesapeake Bay and its teeming estuaries, at times spurring violent rivalries that became known as “the oyster wars.”

But the Rappahannock Oyster Co. ― the first iteration of it, at least ― died in 1991 with Coxton’s grandfather. By the time Coxton and his paternal cousin, Travis, started growing oysters as a hobby on the family’s old property, the oyster industry in the region had all but collapsed.

Overfishing over the last century badly hurt wild oyster populations. Diseases ravaged the remaining creatures in the 1950s. Runoff pollution from farms and sewage treatment plants tainted the waters with phosphorus and nitrogen. Bacteria and algae fed by the pollution blossomed into massive, toxic plumes that sucked up oxygen and blocked sunlight, stymying fish populations and thinning the marsh grasses that oysters cling to to keep from slipping into the soft, silty mud and dying.

Things started changing in the last several years as the effects of an Environmental Protection Agency cleanup that began in 1983 under President Ronald Reagan took effect. (President Barack Obama imposed even stricter targets in 2009). Levels of phosphorus and nitrogen, a third of which settled on the water from being wheezed by power plants into the air, fell. The water cleared. Grasses grew back in dense thickets, tightening the river bed with roots.

By 2004, Coxton quit his day job and started cultivating oysters full time. At first, restaurants in the area, knowing how dirty the water had been, wouldn’t buy his product, even though it was safe to eat. He shipped them to upscale eateries in New York. But as water quality improved over the past decade, local demand came roaring back. Coxton opened his fifth restaurant Thursday evening and plans to cut the ribbon on a sixth in September.

Now the program that saved the Chesapeake Bay oyster industry is in jeopardy. The budget President Donald Trump proposed Thursday would eliminate funding for the $73 million initiative, along with more than 50 other programs and 31 percent of the EPA’s overall budget. Funding isn’t the only thing on the chopping block. Trump vowed to boost economic growth by axing regulations, particularly environmental rules he blames for holding businesses back. Already, his administration has scrapped a rule protecting streams from coal mine pollution, tossed out a directive ordering oil and gas drillers to report methane emissions and overturned a regulation giving the EPA power to police fertilizer and manure runoff from farms, the chief contaminants in the Chesapeake Bay.

“Oysters are filter feeders,” Coxton, 47, told The Huffington Post in a recent interview. “We can’t operate without clean water and a good environment.”

It wasn’t long ago that another Republican eager to placate his party’s populist wing took aim at cleanup efforts pursued by his Democratic predecessor. Weeks after taking office in January 2015, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan blocked regulations aimed at limiting Eastern Shore poultry farmers’ use of chicken manure on their fields. The phosphorus-rich fertilizer is a leading source of runoff in the Chesapeake Bay.

A month later, the Hogan administration received a letter from the EPA warning that, if the state dropped new manure rules, it would need another policy to meet the agency’s pollution limits. Maryland Democrats scrambled to pass bills that would have done just that. In response, Hogan made an about-face. He ordered an immediate ban that targeted fields oversaturated with manure, even though he gave other farmers more time to comply, local NPR station WYPR reported.

“We have listened to the agricultural and environmental communities to find a fair and balanced plan for limiting phosphorus,” Hogan said in a statement at the time. “The enhanced Phosphorus Management Tool regulations … will protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay while still supporting a vibrant agriculture industry in Maryland.”

In a statement to The Huffington Post, the governor vowed he would “always fight to protect our state’s most important natural asset.”

“If any of these budget proposals ever become law, we will take a serious look at how to address them during our budget process next year,” Amelia Chasse, the governor’s spokeswoman, said. “Since taking office, Governor Hogan has invested more than $3 billion in efforts to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and will remain a fierce advocate going forward.”

Conservationists, clean water advocates and oyster farmers hope Trump will have a similar change of heart. Or, at least, that Congress will withhold approval for any budget that doesn’t include funding for the project. Republican lawmakers, some of whom already joined Democrats in opposing Trump’s cuts to a similar cleanup effort in the Great Lakes, are expected to oppose the reductions.

“This just makes no sense. We are in disbelief,” said William C. Baker, president of the nonprofit Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “The EPA’s role in this cleanup is nothing less than fundamental. It’s not just important; it is critical.”

Oyster farmers emerged over the past decade as a force in Virginia and Maryland. In the Old Dominion State, farmers sold $16 million in oysters in 2015 alone, besting all other states on the East Coast, according to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s 10th annual report on the state’s aquaculture industry. Though smaller in Maryland, the industry has ballooned in the last eight years, said Jeffrey Brainard, a spokesman for the EPA-funded Maryland Sea Grant, which is also earmarked for disposal.

In just the last five years, farmers in the Chesapeake Bay region helped double oyster production on the East Coast to 155 million bivalves per year, said Bob Rheault, executive director of the East Coast Shellfish Growers Association.

“We’re literally an engine of job growth, especially in Chesapeake and especially for the watermen of that region who are up for the challenge,” Rheault said. “These proposed cuts are just job killers.”

“It’s like, my God,” he added, sighing loudly, “if we don’t have clean water, we don’t have customer confidence.”

Uncertainty over the future of the EPA cleanup program has spooked some who left other jobs in recent years to join the booming industry. Johnny Shockley, 54, quit commercial fishing to build a sustainable oyster hatchery on Hooper’s Island, the bayside archipelago where he grew, a third-generation waterman. Now the man The Washingtonian once called “the Chesapeake Bay’s hope on the half shell” worries his small empire of sustainable oyster hatcheries could be imperiled.

“One of the reasons why folks were getting in and willing to change their lives and commit their livelihoods to these efforts is the support we’ve seen from the federal government in the last 25 to 30 years,” Shockley said. “All of a sudden we’ve been threatened to see that all taken away.”

 

 
 

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