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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Donald Trump on Friday rolled back restrictions on the use of landmines by the U.S. military in the latest in a series of actions reversing President Barack Obama’s legacy.

In 2014, Obama issued a directive instructing the military to no longer “produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel landmines.”

In a statement on Friday, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said Trump had specifically canceled “the Obama Administration’s policy to prohibit United States military forces from employing anti-personnel landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula.”

Grisham claimed that the rollback was part of Trump’s “steadfast commitment to ensuring our forces are able to defend against any and all threats.”

“President Trump is rebuilding our military, and it is stronger than ever,” she said. “The President will continue to support and equip our troops so that they will forever remain the greatest fighting force in the world.”

The release did not cite evidence to support the administration’s assertion that the policy is needed to protect the military. In fact, the evidence shows that the military doesn’t need the weapons.

“The United States has not used landmines in a new theater of military operation for nearly 30 years — since 1991 — yet it continues to stockpile millions of these obsolete weapons,” Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association told Vox on Thursday.

Landmines pose a threat mostly to civilian populations. Landmine Monitor, a non-government organization, has reported that there were more than 130,000 casualties caused by landmines between 1999-2018. As CNN notes, the majority of those killed were civilians.

The lethality of landmines led to the 1997 Ottawa Convention, an international agreement banning the use, stockpiling, and production of anti-personnel landmines.

Since taking over the presidency, Trump has put in place several directives designed to undo work accomplished by his predecessor.

Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accords despite the ongoing crisis of climate change. He has claimed that climate change is a hoax by the Chinese government, despite mountains of data disproving his conspiracy.

Trump also walked away from the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018, prompting Iran to announce it would move forward on enriching uranium, increasing tensions in the region and danger for American allies like Israel.

That same month, the Trump administration also announced plans to allow hunters to bait brown bears with food as well as shoot and kill defenseless mother bears and their cubs hibernating in their dens. The decision reversed an Obama-era rul prohibiting the practice.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

If Boss Trump is headed for defeat, he's getting his revenge early. His revenge upon his deluded supporters and the people they love, that is. Trump's re-election campaign now consists mainly of what epidemiologists call "super-spreader" events: large-scale rallies of unmasked, non-socially distanced Trumpists yelling in each other's faces while the Big Man emits a non-stop barrage of falsehoods, exaggerations, and barefaced lies.

Let me put it this way: If, say, the Rolling Stones decided to put on free concerts at airports around the country, they'd likely end up being taken into custody and deported as undesirable aliens. Of course, they'd also draw far bigger crowds than Trump, but that's not the point. The point is that Trump's actions are reckless and immoral; the peacetime equivalent of war crimes.

"Covid, covid, covid, covid, covid," he hollers. Trump claims that the United States is "turning the corner" on the pandemic, and that the accursed news media will quit reporting Covid-19 fatalities come November 4. He claims that health officials are motivated by greed because "doctors get more money and hospitals get more money" if they report that the virus was the cause of death.

Surveys have shown that more than a thousand physicians and nurses have died fighting the disease nationwide.

As ever, what he accuses others of doing is an excellent guide to the question: What would Trump do? Answer: he'd steal the silver dollars off a Covid victim's eyes and demand an investigation of Joe Biden

According to the Washington Post, the Trump campaign organization signed an agreement with officials in Duluth, Minnesota to limit attendance at a September 30 fly-in rally, in accordance with public health guidelines. Hours before the event, it became clear that no effort was being made to honor the agreement; some 2500 Trump supporters bunched up without masks on the tarmac, ten times the agreed limit.

Health Department officials' protests were simply ignored. Three days later, Trump himself was taken to Walter Reed Hospital by helicopter. Three weeks after that, the following headline appeared in the Duluth News-Tribune: "St. Louis County sees another record-breaking week of COVID-19 cases."

Any questions?

The Trump Circus subsequently performed in Janesville and Waukesha, Wisconsin in the midst of a record-setting pandemic outbreak there. "It took us 7 and a half months to reach our first 100,000 cases, & only 36 days to reach our second," the Wisconsin Department of Health tweeted. "In just two short months, the 7-day average of new confirmed cases has risen 405%."

But the show must go on. Trump regaled his Janesville audience with a veritable torrent of lies. The New York Times did a thorough fact-check of his October 17 speech. Reporters documented 130 false statements during Trump's 87 minutes onstage. Nearly three-quarters of his factual claims were untrue. The most egregious concerned Covid-19, probably because the disease represents his single greatest failure and most damaging political liability.

Another question: Does Trump count upon his supporters' invincible ignorance or simply share it? I fear it's a little of both. In Janesville, Trump made this absurd claim two minutes into his harangue: "When you look at our numbers compared to what's going on in Europe and other places," he said "we're doing well."

Any regular newspaper reader knows that this is simply nonsense. As the Times reports, "America has more cases and deaths per capita than any major country in Europe but Spain and Belgium. The United States has just 4 percent of the world's population but accounts for almost a quarter of the global deaths from Covid-19."

Germany, to choose the most striking comparison, has suffered only 122 deaths per million of its population, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has recorded more than five times as many: 686 per million. Neighboring Canada, meanwhile, is at 264 per million. Several Asian countries, have handled the pandemic even better.

It's a matter of capable leadership and public cooperation.

No wonder Trump appears to have succumbed to a case of dictator envy. "COVID, COVID, COVID is being used by [the 'Fake News' media] in total coordination" he tweeted the other day "in order to change our great early election numbers. Should be an election law violation!"

Yeah, well they all report the same World Series scores too. Furthermore, if Trump had good election numbers, he wouldn't whine so much. Has there ever been a bigger crybaby in the White House?

(In related news, Vladimir Putin has issued a mandatory mask mandate after a surge in Russian Covid infections. Go figure.)

Meanwhile, the rallies go on; a bizarre spectacle people treat as if it's normal. Trump has become Covid-19's Typhoid Mary, an Irish cook who unwittingly infected 53 people back in 1906.

But unlike Mary, he should know better. If anybody should be locked up, as his rapt admirers chant, it's the Super-Spreader in Chief.