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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 75

Letter from America: Trump’s 100th day in office

By Habib Siddiqui

Last weekend, April 29, was Donald Trump’s 100th day in office as the POTUS. Protest rallies were held in many parts of the USA. Tens of thousands of demonstrators also assembled in the U.S. capital for the latest installment of the regular protests that punctuate the Trump era.

Alarmed by what they saw as a perilous attack on the environment by the Trump administration, multiple rollbacks of environmental protections and Obama climate policies, they poured into the capital city to sound warnings about the Earth’s warming climate.

The temperature reached 91 degrees F at D.C.’s National Airport at 2:59 p.m., tying a heat record for April 29 in the district set in 1974 — which only amplified the movement’s message.

Here are some facts about our planet’s climate:

1. The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere, as of 2016, was 400 ppm, which was the highest in 3 million years.

2. NASA and NOAA data show that global averages were 1.78 degrees F (0.99 degrees C) warmer than the mid-20th century average, making 2016 the third year in a row with record-setting surface temperatures. 2016 was the warmest year on record.

3. Some 800 million people (11% of world population) are currently vulnerable to climate change impacts such as droughts, floods, heat waves, extreme weather events and sea-level rise.

A search of the NASA website revealed a statement on climate change from 18 scientific associations (including NASA), which read: "Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver." (2009)

Leading climate scientists now believe that a rise of two degrees centigrade in global temperature, which is considered to be the “tipping point”, is now very unlikely to be avoided if we continue with business-as-usual; other leading climate scientists consider 1.5 degrees centigrade to be a more likely “tipping point”. This is the point considered to be the threshold for catastrophic climate change, which will expose yet more millions of people and countless other creatures to drought, hunger and flooding. The brunt of this will continue to be borne by the poor, as the earth experiences a drastic increase in levels of carbon in the atmosphere brought on in the period since the onset of the industrial revolution.

In the brief period since the industrial revolution, human beings have consumed much of the non-renewable resources which have taken the earth 250 million years to produce – all in the name of economic development and human progress. Per capita consumption of resources combined with the rising human population, let alone the multi-national scramble now taking place for more fossil fuel deposits under the dissolving ice caps in the arctic regions are bound to accelerate our own destruction through these processes.

So, seemingly there should not be a single doubting Thomas about the climate change. And yet, the sad fact is that there are millions of Americans, esp. within the ruling Republican Party of President Trump, who deny climate change. They think it is all a big hoax, and that the Democrats and the environmental fundamentalists are making too much of a fuss for no reason at all.

Starting at the foot of the Capitol, the protesters marched to the White House, surrounding the mansion while President Trump was inside. The marchers in Washington included Hollywood celebrities and stars of the political left like former Vice President Al Gore and the business magnate Richard Branson. The front of their ranks, though, was reserved for ordinary people: the immigrants, indigenous people, laborers, coastal dwellers and children, who organizers say are most vulnerable to the effects of a changing climate.

Since taking office, President Trump has appointed one of the chief antagonists of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, as its administrator and proposed slashing its budget by nearly a third, more than any other federal agency. He has signed several executive orders aimed at rolling back President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, a set of regulations intended to close heavily polluting coal-fired power plants, and restrictions on vehicle emissions, among others.

Lately, Trump signed orders intended to initiate reviews aimed at opening certain protected lands and waters to drilling, mining and logging. His advisers were still debating whether the United States would remain in the landmark Paris climate accord. On April 28, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it had taken down several agency web pages that contained climate data and other scientific information relating to climate change.

It is also alarming that despite all the warnings and predictions, the successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which should have been in place by 2012, has been delayed. It is essential that all countries, especially the more developed nations, increase their efforts and adopt the pro-active approach needed to halt and hopefully eventually reverse the damage being wrought.

Many Muslims participated in the Washington rally, even traveling from far-away places like California.

After all, in Islam, human beings as God’s vicegerents on earth are entrusted with the duty and responsibility for protection of the environment. Muhammad (S), the Prophet of Islam, stated, “The world is sweet and verdant, and verily Allah has made you stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves.” [Had?th related by Muslim from Abu Sa‘?d Al-Khudr? (R)]

One of the great sages of Islam, Bahauddin Naqshband (R), said, “If a withering leaf says by its appearance that it needs water, because you have the power to provide it, you also have the duty to do, as these "words" of the leaf are the manifestation of the command of the Creator of the leaf, and are addressed to you. If you insist upon a personal command from the Originator, ask why the means of communication has been placed before you. Is it there for you to neglect?” [See the chapter Book of Rights in this author’s book “Islamic Wisdom” for this and similar citations.]

Muslim scholars have long recognized the corruption (fas?d) that humans have caused on the earth due to their relentless pursuit of economic growth and consumption. Its consequences have been global climate change, contamination and befoulment of the atmosphere, land, inland water systems, and seas; soil erosion, deforestation and desertification; damage to human health, including a host of modern-day diseases.

The Qur’an states, “Corruption has appeared on land and sea because of what people’s own hands have wrought, so that they may taste something of what they have done; so that hopefully they will turn back.” [Qur’an 30: 41]

The present climate change catastrophe is a result of the human disruption of and disturbing the balance or equilibrium set by God. [Qur’an 55: 7-10]

President Donald Trump used the occasion of his first 100th day in office to hold a campaign-style rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His speech was vintage, campaign-era Trump. He started with a tirade on the media, and checked off his favorite subjects throughout: immigration, the wall, trade, coal, jobs.

He told a boisterous crowd of supporters that he was "thrilled" to be far away from Washington D.C. where members of the press were gathered for the annual White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) dinner. He spent the first few minutes of his speech criticizing his treatment by the media, using his standard refrain of "fake news."

As he has done many times in the past to convey his sickening, bigotry-filled, anti-immigrant, fear-mongering message, President Trump also read his favorite poem, "The Snake" written in 1963 by Oscar Brown (died 2005) and recorded in 1969 by Al Wilson, which is based on one of Aesop’s fables. [The poem is an allegory, which can be about a lot of situations where one party unsuspectingly lets in an evildoer and then gets hurt. But Trump suggested the song was a metaphor for what would happen if the US embraced refugees fleeing the violence in Syria, whom Trump considers potential terrorists, and immigrants and undocumented illegals.]

The audience in Harrisburg was enraptured, as if they were hearing a [rogue, hateful] priest deliver a homily. Pin-drop silence except for the man himself and the quick breaths he took in dramatic pauses. The audience knew that they were the tender woman, and that the refugees/immigrants [and the illegal Mexicans] were the snake, simply waiting to be resuscitated so that they could fulfill their life’s mission of killing.

Maggie Brown, daughter of the song writer Oscar Brown, has since 2016 demanded that Trump stop using the lyrics. "We don't want him using these lyrics," said Maggie Brown, also a distinguished singer. "If Dad were alive, he would've ripped (Trump) with a great poem in rebuttal. Not only a poem and a song, but an essay and everything else."

For a man whose popularity is the lowest ever for a new president, Trump’s speech was a quick reminder of his campaign that tethered to vulgarity, and of a man who refuses to be a unifier. It is simply amazing how quickly people forget their own history, how the ancestors of many European Americans had fled war and famine and sectarian insanity over hundreds of years!

Back in Washington D.C., as the WHCA dinner kicked off, Jeff Mason, president of WHCA, pushed back against Trump's attacks. "It is our job to report on facts and to hold leaders accountable," Mason said. "That is who we are. We are not fake news. We are not failing news organizations. And we are not the enemy of the American people."

Journalist Bob Woodward later echoed Mason's sentiment, saying: "Mr. President, the media is not fake news."

Hasan Minhaj was Saturday’s host at the Trump-less White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He ripped everyone from Bill O’Reilly to the 45th President. He also turned serious to acknowledge the importance of free speech in America, a theme that echoed throughout the night at the annual media meets the White House event.

“Only in America can a Muslim get on this stage and make fun of the President,” Minhaj said.

He added: “The man who tweets everything the enters his head, refuses to acknowledge the amendment that allows him to do it.”

It’s high time for Trump to grow up and behave like a president rather than complaining about ‘fake’ news.

- Asian Tribune -

Letter from America: Trump’s 100th day in office
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