The Supreme Court’s extraordinary decision on Tuesday to temporarily block the Obama administration’s effort to combat global warming by regulating emissions from power plants was deeply disturbing on two fronts.
It raised serious questions about America’s ability to deliver on Mr. Obama’s pledge in Paris in December to sharply reduce carbon emissions, and, inevitably, about its willingness to take a leadership role on the issue.
And with all the Republican-appointed justices lining up in a 5-to-4 vote to halt the regulation before a federal appeals court could rule on it, the court also reinforced the belief among many Americans that the court is knee-deep in the partisan politics it claims to stand above. While the court’s action was not a ruling on the merits of the case, it will delay efforts to comply with the regulation and sends an ominous signal that Mr. Obama’s initiative, known as the Clean Power Plan, could ultimately be overturned.
By temporarily freezing the rule, the high court’s order raises fears that the centerpiece of the president’s clean power plan could be overturned
The supreme court’s move is a blow to the Obama administration and a victory for the coalition of 27 mostly Republican-led states and industry opponents. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
The surprising vote by the justices put a temporary freeze on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules cutting carbon emissions from power plants until the Washington DC circuit court of appeals hears challenges from 29, mainly Republican-led states, and dozens of corporations and industry groups. Arguments are scheduled for 2 June.
The 5-4 decision for a stay came as a shock to the EPA and environmental campaign groups, and was widely seen as a sign that opponents of the power-plant rules have made a strong argument against the plan.
“We’re disappointed the rule has been stayed, but you can’t stay climate change and you can’t stay climate action,” said Melissa Harrison, an EPA spokeswoman. “We believe strongly in this rule and we will continue working with our partners to address carbon pollution.”
Phytoplankton are the unsung heroes of all that delicious O2 we breathe, and the primary food source for sea life.
Phytoplankton are mostly invisible to the naked eye and live in the ocean's surface. Just like trees and plants, these one-celled creatures soak up energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide into nutrients. The byproduct of that process is fresh oxygen, which is released into the water.
Scientists estimate that phytoplankton actually produce about half the world's oxygen.
But a new study has revealed that phytoplankton populations in the Indian Ocean have decreased up to 30% over the last 16 years. Which is a big problem for those of us who enjoy breathing.
According to the researchers, warming of the ocean's surface has led to a decline in ocean mixing — which is the process by which nutrients are carried from the ocean depths up to the surface. Phytoplankton die off when their access to these nutrients is restricted.
Because phytoplankton are a key part of a very complicated oceanic food web, the implications of their demise could be disastrous. Not only do phytoplankton produce the oxygen we breath, they're also a food source for the fish we eat and a key part of the marine ecosystem that keeps our oceans thriving.
Longest-running study to date analyses long-term mortality risks of Britons exposed to historic particulate pollution
The analysis of 368,000 British people over 38 years also showed that those living in the most polluted places have a 14% higher risk of dying than those in the least polluted areas. Those exposed to particulate air pollution were more likely to die from respiratory problems, like pneumonia, emphysema and bronchitis, and also from cardiovascular problems, like heart attacks.
“What this study shows is that the [health] effects of air pollution persist for a very long time,” said Dr Anna Hansell, at Imperial College London, who led the new study. “There is an imperative that, because the effects are so long-lasting, we really ought to act on it. We have to think about what we are doing to the long-term health of the population.”
Many Britons are currently exposed to illegal levels of air pollution, with 29,000 premature deaths a year - or 5% of all deaths - blamed on air pollution. The UK government lost a supreme court legal battle in 2015 and was forced to produce an action plan.
If successful, this will cut air pollution to legal levels by 2020 in most cities and 2025 in London. The impact on children, whose lungs can be stunted for life, has been of particular concern to experts.
Air pollution in London on 21 January 2016. Photograph: Gill Allen/REX/Shutterstock
In mid-January 2016 a three-day smog covered London, Nottingham, Leicester and Birmingham. January used to be a peak month for pea-souper smogs. Between 1952 and 1962 these killed nearly 15,000 Londoners and many people in other cities including Glasgow and Manchester. These days our winter smogs are full of nitrogen dioxide and particles from diesel exhaust rather than smoke from coal.
Madrid is the latest European capital to introduce emergency measures to control pollution episodes. If Madrid’s new laws applied in London we would have had public health warnings on 19 January, lower speed limits and parking restrictions on 20 January followed by a ban on even-number-plate cars in central areas on 21 January.
So why don’t Londoners get the same protection as the people of Madrid?
The UK focuses on controlling air pollution all of the time; not just during emergencies. This makes sense: the harm from the pollution that we breathe every day is greater than the effects of short smogs. Each year in the UK an estimated 29,000 to 50,000 people die with their life shortened by air pollution; more than died during smogs of the 1950s. But focusing on managing air pollution every day is only justified if the policies work. Most cities and big towns have not met legal limits set for 2010. London will not meet them before 2025.
Europe and US try to bridge differences to come up with the world’s first carbon dioxide emissions standards for aircraft
Aviation was not included in the global climate deal agreed by a UN conference in Paris in December, but ICAO is trying to nail down the first of its two-part strategy as soon as Monday after six years of talks. It is due to finalize a market-based mechanism for all airlines later this year.
Differences remain on where to place the bar on efficiency, with the United States and Canada pushing for more stringent targets than the European Union, while environmental groups have accused Europe of dragging its feet.
“The CO2 standard will push industry to be as fuel-efficient as possible in all market conditions to reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions and the impact of aviation on climate change,” stated the Canadian paper presented at ICAO last week.
The proposals could revive pressure on European planemaker Airbus to upgrade the world’s largest passenger jet, the A380 superjumbo, with new engines. Airbus recently examined that proposal to boost sales, but it has dropped down its list of priorities.
More goods are being shipped under canvas as consumers object to pollution from container vessels
One of the world’s oldest methods of transporting goods is making an unlikely comeback. Sailing ships, which kept the British Empire in tea, sugar and tobacco, are back in vogue as a green alternative to conventional shipping.
Wine, coffee, cacao beans and rum are among the items filling holds on a growing number of ships that are reviving old trade routes more than a century after the advent of steam engines ended the golden age of sail.
With contracts worth £5.5bn going to private firms, health sector unions warn of slide to US-style system in which level of care depends on ability to pay
“There is a real danger that if we continue down this road we could end up with a repeat of the American experience where income, rather than need, dictates the level of care a patient can expect,” said the nine leaders of NHS staff, including midwives, nurses and radiographers.
Dave Prentis, from Unison, the biggest health union, said: “There is no evidence to suggest the private sector does health any better than the NHS. Even such monumental failures as Hinchingbrooke have done little to dampen the government’s zeal for the market.”
Prentis said that large amounts of money were being wasted drawing up and scrutinising each bid, money that could be better used to improve patient care. And he added that many commissioning services are being advised by the private sector, “making it even more likely that healthcare firms will win out”.
“The public wants well-run, efficient health services. They are not so keen on private firms putting shareholders and profits before patients. And they are increasingly nervous that ability to pay could soon count for more than someone’s need for help,” he added.
Tests show compound, similar to that found in energy drinks, clears amyloid beta plaques, which build up in the brain in early stages of Alzheimer’s
Green buildings and better infrastructure would not only spur economic growth but also cut carbon emissions equal to India’s annual output
A growing body of evidence suggests pollution can do a number on the brain. The July/August Mother Jones cover story chronicled the research connecting neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's to the dirty air we breathe; studies have found that pollution may also age the brain prematurely. And according to new research from the University of Texas-El Paso, pollution's damage to the brain may start even sooner than was previously thought: Fourth and fifth graders exposed to exhaust emissions, researchers found, don't do as well in school as their peers who breathe cleaner air.
Though Canada's system is the second most expensive in the world per capita, it would save America $1.3 Trillion/yr and cover everyone
Lesley Stahl discovers the shock and anxiety of a cancer diagnosis can be followed by a second jolt: the astronomical price of cancer drugs[All the other OECD countries negotiate much lower drug & medical procedure costs]
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'.
The Democratic party decides its nominee in a massively undemocratic way – and is a ticking time bomb for the party and its voter base if Bernie keeps winning
The Democratic party’s nomination will ultimately be decided by more than 4,700 delegates – and Bernie Sanders is losing the superdelegate race. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock
Many people on Twitter expressed surprise that Hillary Clinton basically walked away with the same amount of total delegates as Bernie Sanders after the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday night, despite the decisive 20-plus-point rout by Sanders.
It highlights the longstanding but little-discussed “superdelegate” system that could play a huge role in who wins the Democratic nomination this year. It turns out, the Democratic party decides its nominee in a massively undemocratic way – and is a ticking time bomb for the party and its voter base if Sanders keeps winning.
The Democratic party’s nomination will ultimately be decided by more than 4,700 delegates at its nominating convention in the summer. Most of those delegates are allocated based on votes in each state’s primary or caucus. However, the party also assigns what are known as “superdelegates” – 700 or so people who aren’t elected by anyone during the primary process and are free to vote any way they want at the convention. They are made up of members of Congress and members of the Democratic National Committee – which is made up of much of the establishment that Sanders is implicitly running against.
Sanders is right about Kissinger. His civilian death toll nears 4 million, his policies built today's Middle East
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton talk during an interview by PBS' Charlie Rose(Credit: Associated Press)
So, to sum up, using the lower estimates above: Kissinger’s policies resulted in at least 4,124,000 civilian deaths, probably many times that number of wounded and refugees – and that doesn’t include Kissinger’s victims in Vietnam — a war that he (and Nixon) helped prolong for five years when they sabotaged 1968 peace talks — Laos, or Argentina, Uruguay, the Middle East and Persian Gulf, at the hands of Kissinger’s partners, such as the Shah and the Saudis.
“Should Hillary Clinton be basking in Henry Kissinger’s praise,” Michael Tracey, at the New Republic asked Clinton’s team. This was after the candidate, at the previous debate, seemed to think that Kissinger’s approval was evidence of her “progressivism.” Joel Benenson, a Clinton “surrogate,” said: “People generally believe that Henry Kissinger was a good secretary of state . . . I think he’s respected.”
Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta, said: “Here’s a guy who’s certainly knowledgeable about what it takes to manage the State Department.”
Considering the carnage Secretary of State Clinton left in her wake in Libya, Mali and Honduras (and, as a senator, in Iraq), there’s much truth in that statement.
Though well needs to be permanently sealed and inspected, announcement marked first time leak has been under control since it was reported in October
The natural gas leak is expected to cost SoCalGas at least $250m. Photograph: Javier Mendoza/AP
“We have temporarily controlled the natural gas flow from the leaking well and begun the process of sealing the well and permanently stopping the leak,” Jimmie Cho, a SoCalGas senior vice president, said in a statement.
The $250m figure could climb much higher because it only accounts for costs of capping the well and relocating about 6,400 families. It does not include potential damages from more than two dozen lawsuits, penalties from government agencies and expenses to mitigate pollution.
If the plug holds and all goes according to plan to seal the well, the upscale Porter Ranch community in the San Fernando Valley could begin to return to normalcy after schools were closed and about 6,000 families were uprooted as they complained of headaches, nausea, nosebleeds and other symptoms as an intermittent stench wafted through the area.
Scientists find levels of mercury and cadmium in the whales’ brains increased with age
Mercury in some of the beached whales brains was at levels high enough to cause severe neurological damage in humans, say scientists. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA
Scientists have found clear evidence that whales are absorbing high levels of toxic heavy metals, with cadmium found in the brains of pilot whales which washed up in Scotland.
Chemists at the University of Aberdeen said they had found cadmium in all the organs of adult long-finned pilot whales which stranded in 2012, including their brain.
The research shows for the first time that cadmium – known to pass into the brains of infant and unborn whales - had also passed across the so-called blood-brain barrier in adult whales.
They said their findings also suggested that mercury concentrations could be increasing high enough in the seas “to lead to additional toxic stress in the long-lived marine mammals”, with higher concentrations increasing with age.
One civil engineer says it would be less laborious and more cost-effective.
While the scope of the crisis and level of attention in Flint is unique, the infrastructure problem is not. All over the county, leaders are grappling with how to manage or replace aging, lead-addled water-distribution systems, with shrinking tax bases to boot. Does digging up all lead service lines to replace them make fiscal sense for cities deep in the red?
On his urban planning blog Strong Towns, the civil engineer Charles Marohn suggests that a more sound approach for cities in this situation may be to install an entirely new system that runs parallel to old lead pipes. The old system could stay in place and continue to serve the purpose it was really designed for: fighting fires.
Replacing high-capacity systems with another high-capacity system—as Flint is gearing up to do—doesn’t make sense, Marohn believes. “We’d be putting back the same failed systems that are just a millstone around cities’ necks,” he tells CityLab. “They’re enormously expensive to maintain. We have to come up with some lighter touches.” Marohn suggests that the parallel drinking water system could be made of PVC and copper, and that most of these pipes could be simply plowed several feet into the ground—no expensive, laborious trench-digging needed.
Nearly a third offered students the flawed mixed message that modern warming is caused by both humans and natural temperature shifts.
Any concerted effort to fight climate change requires a strong public consensus that people are the primary cause of the problem, but many Americans aren’t so sure that’s the case. In one recent poll of 20 countries, the U.S. was the least likely to agree that modern climate change is “largely the result of human activity,” at just 54 percent. That’s well below the poll’s world average of 76 percent and way below the 95 percent (or more) of scientists who attribute warming to we the people.
An informed media could help correct the misperception that recent global warming is just a natural occurrence (or, worse, nonexistent). But given the topic’s partisan grip in the U.S., with many "conservatives" unlikely to trust mainstream news outlets, early education has a huge role to play, too. That’s a problem, according to a new study in the journal Science, because many middle- and high-school teachers are confused about climate change themselves.
All over the country, the Kochs and utilities have been blocking solar initiatives — but nowhere more so than in Florida
No place is the problem clearer than in Florida, where the Sunshine State's vast solar potential has gone to waste. Illustration by Victor Juhasz
Seeking to crack open Florida's energy market at the ballot box, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) mounted a $2 million campaign to qualify a "Solar Choice" amendment for the 2016 election. The constitutional amendment would have ended Florida's rare lock on electricity sales; only Kentucky, Oklahoma and North Carolina have similar prohibitions. It would have freed consumers to install leased solar panels on their rooftops at no upfront expense. Retailers could have installed solar arrays and sold power to tenants in the same shopping complex.
Confronting a popular threat to their monopoly power, the utilities fought back – with a vengeance. But rather than campaign directly against the Solar Choice amendment – which polled at nearly 70 percent – the Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs) mounted a competing ballot initiative called the "Smart Solar" [sic] amendment. Despite the name, their amendment doesn't advance the cause of solar power. Quite the reverse: "It locks existing statute into the constitution," says a skeptical Republican Florida lawmaker.
The Smart Solar [sic] amendment is financed, nakedly, by the state's top IOUs, which ponied up $4 million through December, more than half the campaign's total haul. "We are proud of who supports our campaign," says spokeswoman Sarah Bascom. Other supporters include conservative pressure groups funded by fossil-fuel interests. 60 Plus – a seniors group that has received $15 million from the Koch donor network – donated more than $1 million. The National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), a tiny organization with an oversize name, added $100,000. The NBCC is funded by major polluters, including Exxon; its latest convention was sponsored by Koch Industries and Gulf Power. NBCC founder Harry Alford, unabashed, touts the "cozy, productive relationship we have with the fossil-fuel corporations." The Koch grassroots political group, Americans for Prosperity, does not appear on Smart Solar's donor rolls, but did issue a call to arms for its Florida activists to fight solar choice.
The Smart Solar [sic] campaign played dirty. In a seemingly transparent effort to confuse petition-signers, the utility-backed measure aped the "choice" language of the rival pro-solar campaign with its formal ballot title. Smart Solar [sic] called itself Rights of Electricity Consumers Regarding Solar Energy Choice. "It's pure deception," an exasperated Smith tells Rolling Stone. "Many, many people have been misled into signing their petition – it's fraud!" Bascom insisted there was no intention to mislead. "It would defy all logic," she tells Rolling Stone. "Why would we confuse ours with one that does not have public support?"
A new national organization will push to make it easier to get solar power when it can’t go on your own roof.
The Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association's community gardens collect power for customers in Rockford, Minn. (AP Photo / Jim Mone)
Rooftop solar has been spreading like wildfire over the past few years, but 49 percent of households can’t install their own solar photovoltaic panels, according to the National Renewable Energy Lab. For anyone who rents, or has too much shade, or moves frequently and would lose the rooftop investment, community solar offers an alternative. It also has economic justice implications, because it enables buy-in at much lower costs than a private rooftop installation.
There are many different models for community solar (this NREL paper offers a handy guide to the variations), but the core concept is that numerous people subscribe to a central solar installation and receive a credit on their electricity bill for a share of the power generated each month. In the decade since the first community solar project went live, says Cramer, close to 100 projects have come online in 25 states.
Investors buy gold and government bonds and sell shares in banks and companies exposed to lower commodity prices
Canary Wharf at sunrise. London’s fall was part of a global rout that began in Tokyo. Photograph: Guy Corbishley/Demotix/Corbis
Investors fear that although banks have bolstered their capital positions since the last crisis, they will start to report losses on non-performing loans to energy and property companies affected by faltering growth, while their profitability will also be hit by negative interest rates. HSBC shares closed at their lowest level since the spring of 2009, when the global recession bottomed out.
The three biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were all financial institutions – the Prudential, Aberdeen Asset Management and Barclays – which were all 7% lower.
But their losses were eclipsed by French bank Société Générale, which lost 13% of its value after admitting that “headwinds” could knock its profits this year.
Larry Elliott and Jill Treanor |Guardian
Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, which agreed to pay $5.06bn last month, are two of the last big banks to pay up for their role in the 2008 economic crisis
On Thursday, Morgan Stanley stock was down almost 40% over the last three months. Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
Morgan Stanley will pay $3.2bn to settle federal and state charges that it misled investors in residential mortgage-backed securities during the financial crisis, New York’s attorney general announced on Thursday.
The deal comes a month after Goldman Sachs agreed to pay $5.06bn to resolve civil claims related to the firm’s securitization, underwriting and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities from 2005 to 2007. The Goldman Sachs settlement included $875m in cash payments and $1.8bn in consumer relief.
Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are two of the last big banks to pay up for their role in the 2008 economic crisis. Bank of America agreed to pay the largest of the settlements, at $16.6bn, in 2014. A year prior, JPMorgan Chase paid about $13bn.
“Today’s agreement is another victory in our efforts to help New Yorkers rebuild in the wake of the financial devastation caused by major banks,” said attorney general Eric Schneiderman. “Today’s settlement will deliver resources to the families and communities that need them the most, while helping New Yorkers avoid foreclosure, and spurring the construction of more affordable housing units statewide.”
Saudi Arabia’s decision to send troops to Syria is “final” and “irreversible,” Saudi military spokesman Ahmed Al-Assiri told reporters Thursday evening as he confirmed earlier comments about sending troops to the country. But Russia has warned the move could mark the beginning of a new “world war.”
Assiri added that Riyadh is “ready” and will fight with the United States-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State group in Syria. When asked about the timing of sending the troops, he said that Washington is more suitable to answer that question.
The Saudi comments Thursday come just one week after Riyadh said it was “ready” to send thousands of troops to Syria if the U.S.-led coalition decides on a ground operation in the country.
US and Russia among powers to agree on cessation of hostilities ‘within a week’ and delivery of humanitarian aid – but no end in sight to Russian airstrikes
Clinton has failed Warren’s ‘money-in-politics’ litmus test — and now the Democratic Party is splitting in two.
The Massachusetts Senator was able to introduce the topic on a national stage, and even though Sanders has spent his entire career championing the same message, she succeeded in publicizing a sense of urgency. Warren paved the way for Bernie, and in doing so, helped the Sanders campaign undermine Hillary Clinton's enormous political machine; a monstrosity that benefits from the status quo. I explain why Bernie Sanders has already made Clinton's political machine implode in the following YouTube segment.
The Atlantic has a provocative piece by Conor Friedersdorf that all Americans should read titled "Hillary Helps a Bank — and Then It Funnels Millions to the Clintons." Let's just say the article gives some insight into why Hillary Clinton is paid millions for speaking engagements. If you haven't read Friedersdorf's article, then you won't know why there's so much desire to read Clinton's speech transcripts.
Hillary Clinton's political machine, which runs on a peculiar form of "honest graft," as stated by Walter Russel Mead, has been undermined by a political revolution within the Democratic Party, and within American politics.
Nobody has been able to highlight why Bernie Sanders is needed by African Americans, Latinos, and all Democratic voters better than Tim Black in this powerful segment of Tim Black TV. Only Bernie Sanders has harnessed the full power of an electorate disgusted with politicians yet to disclose the transcripts of million dollar speeches. Nothing defines establishment politics better than a Democrat who takes money from the same interest that harm core constituencies of the Democratic Party.
Hillary Clinton has accepted campaign contributions from two major prison lobbyists, Wall Street, and the oil and gas industry, yet promises progressive stances against all these interests.
H. A. Goodman / Huffington Post | AlterNet
President Barack Obama is president and could actually do something about it. There are many actions he could take on his own, without approval from Congress or the courts. In particular, he could issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose any “dark money” contributions to politically active nonprofits.
Activists have delivered over 1 million signatures to the White House demanding that Obama sign an executive order on dark money. A similar petition set up via the White House website’s system passed the 100,000 signatory threshold requiring the Obama administration to respond.
The White House recently posted a desultory answer to the petition that quotes Obama as saying that “We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics” — but doesn’t acknowledge the petition’s demand that Obama, not “we,” take specific action.
With budget negotiations on the horizon, the Republicans' right flank is digging in its heels yet again
Remember last fall, when pundits and politicians were trying to talk themselves into Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House because he would lay down the law with the hard-right wing of the Republican caucus? When he was the man who could bring some much-needed order to the ranks? Who could maybe end this habit of careening from crisis to crisis that Congress has fallen into because the two parties are unable to agree on anything, down to whether toilet paper should be rolled over or under in Capitol Hill bathrooms, let alone a budget to fund the basic functions of government?
As the kids like to say, LOL:
“The release of President Obama’s eighth and final budget on Tuesday has forced into the open the seething tensions that never really went away after a spending agreement was reached last year, in part to ease Mr. Ryan’s transition into the speaker’s suite.
That deal set spending until the end of October of this year, at levels that the president adhered to and Senate Republicans hope to make stick. But a core group of House Republicans who gave Mr. Ryan a pass back then now say they want to toss those numbers out like so much flotsam and pass their own budget with far tighter spending restrictions.”
That “core group of House Republicans” is the House Freedom Caucus, the band of 40 or so feral meerkats who did much of the heavy lifting in driving John Boehner into retirement. But they aren’t the only Republicans who look like infants here. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) and Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), the chairs of the House and Senate Budget Committees, last week announced they will not even let the director of the Office of Management and Budget present the proposed budget to the Congress. This practice is a common courtesy extended to presidential administrations for the last 40 years or so.
No one would expect any Congress to rubber-stamp a president’s budget proposal, of course. Not even if the same party controlled both chambers and the White House. But what’s notable here is this quote from one member of the Freedom Caucus:
“If we are going to pass a Republican budget, it should reflect Republican ideals,” said Representative Mick Mulvaney, Republican of South Carolina and a member of the Freedom Caucus that is leading this charge. “That means lower spending.”
Right, except you’re not passing a Republican budget any more than President Obama expects you to pass a Democratic budget. The president’s proposal is the opening to a negotiation, to be hashed out between two parties. Is anyone available who can explain the job of legislating to these legislators?
A New York Times columnist sees the light of Obama's decency and humanity. It's late, but nevertheless welcome
By abetting an image of a bifurcated political world, Brooks has helped further the vilification of Obama and the Republican descent into the politics of hatred. The us-versus-them, good-guy-versus-bad-guy simplistic vision of the political world that continues to dominate in the United States has long been augmented by the need for people who never step out of character on television—and Brooks has willingly been one of those characters. That he is now trying to change is good. What’s bad is that he seems completely unwilling to accept his own culpability in creation of the contemporary toxic political environment.
Imagine if, eight years ago, Brooks had admitted Obama’s essential integrity—had, in fact, trumpeted it. What if he had convinced others of his political stripe that it was better to lose with dignity to a dignified opponent than to continue slash-and-burn politics?
They didn’t just win. They trounced their opponents.
The breadth of Sanders victory in New Hampshire was impressive. According to the network exit poll, he won the male vote by sixty-five per cent to thirty-four per cent, and the female vote by fifty-three per cent to forty-six per cent. Among women under the age of thirty, despite (or perhaps partly because of) the best efforts of Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem, he got eighty-two per cent of the vote.
Sanders won in every age group except people over sixty-five, and he came out ahead in every income group except those earning more than two hundred thousand dollars a year. The fact that he won by roughly two to one among voters earning less than fifty thousand dollars a year was especially notable. In 2008, low- and middle-income workers were at the core of Clinton’s campaign, and something similar was true in 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected President. On seeing the numbers, Larry Sabato, a veteran election watcher at the University of Virginia, tweeted, “No way Hillary can declare herself the comeback kid. The Clinton coalition from 1992 and 2008 has collapsed.”
Trump delivers, Clinton's in real trouble and Sanders had better brace for scrutiny.
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The Obama administration’s goal is to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons, with no specific timetable. But President Obama does not need a treaty with the Russians to take this action. He can just follow the lead of President George H. W. Bush, who unilaterally reduced America’s nuclear arsenal as the Soviet Union was disintegrating.
With less than a year left in office, President Obama could add to his legacy by sending a similar signal to the Russians today. We could reduce our arsenal from roughly 7,000 weapons to 1,000, eliminating land-based missiles and outlining plans to further reduce air- and submarine-based missiles.
SIXTY years ago, the last trolley jangled down the streets of Brooklyn, the end of an era for what was once the most common mode of transportation for urban Americans. Now streetcars are making a comeback nationwide. In the past decade, new lines have started running in eight cities; nearly a dozen more will be under construction this year.
New York needs a different kind of streetcar. The current plan does not include dedicated lanes, which are needed to keep trams going. The Paris region’s roughly 65-mile streetcar system, mostly completed over the past decade, shows how appealing quick-moving streetcars can be. Carefully chosen routes with very frequent arrivals and reliable service connect areas that previously had poor transit service. The trams save time, so riders make over 900,000 trips each day — far more than on the 117-mile Washington Metro train network, for example.
Other practices can also effectively reduce travel times for streetcar users. At intersections, stoplights should automatically turn green (or be prevented from turning red) when trams approach.
Tom Friedman of the New York Times has completely given up on a two-state solution, forthrightly abandoning the polite fiction that there will ever be a Palestinian state alongside Israel, and ridiculing American presidential candidates for speaking as though it were still a possibility. In fact, he proclaims, with an eye for the glaringly obvious, the peace process is dead:
“The next U.S. president will have to deal with an Israel determined to permanently occupy all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, including where 2.5 million West Bank Palestinians live.”
What is remarkable is that he puts Israeli and/or pro-Israeli actors first in his rogues gallery and pulls no punches. The villains of this piece include:
- Fanatical Jewish settlers on Palestinian land.
- Right-wing Jewish billionaires, such as Sheldon Adelson, who shielded expansionist Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu from criticism by influencing the US Congress. (Friedman has long since implicitly acknowledged the argument of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt in their The Israel Lobby, but this statement of it took even me aback; I think focusing only on the rightwing billionaires is a little unfair, since there are lots of Israel lobbies and many supporters of the Israeli squatters are neither rich nor right wing.)
- Netanyahu himself, characterized as power-hungry and unimaginative: “Bibi won: He’s now a historic figure — the founding father of the one-state solution.”
Nato ships are being deployed to the Aegean sea to deter people-smugglers taking migrants from Turkey to Greece, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg says.
The announcement followed a request from Turkey, Germany and Greece at a defence ministers' meeting in Brussels.
Mr Stoltenberg said the mission would not be about "stopping or pushing back refugee boats".
Nato, he said, will contribute "critical information and surveillance to help counter human trafficking".
US defence secretary Ashton Carter earlier said that targeting the "criminal syndicate that is exploiting these poor people" would have the greatest humanitarian impact.
The decision was made to help Turkey and Greece "manage a human tragedy in a better way than we have managed to do so far," Mr Stoltenberg, Nato Secretary General, said.
Israeli PM says proposed barrier would also solve problem of Hamas tunnels from Gaza, but plan already has critics in his own cabinet
Binyamin Netanyahu inspects the new fence at the border between Jordan and Israel near Eilat, saying: ‘In our neighbourhood, we need to protect ourselves from wild beasts.’ Photograph: Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/EPA
Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the Justice Department is suing the Missouri municipality after an agreement on reform broke down.
The Justice Department filed a wide-ranging lawsuit against Ferguson, Missouri, in federal court Wednesday, accusing the municipality of “a pattern or practice of law enforcement conduct that violates the Constitution and federal civil rights laws,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced.
The Maryland General Assembly overrode Governor Larry Hogan's veto.
The Maryland General Assembly restored Tuesday the right to vote for more than 40,000 released felons, overriding a veto by Governor Larry Hogan. Maryland’s Senate approved the bill on a narrow 29-18 vote, while the state House of Delegates voted 85-56 in favor of it on January 20.
About 44,000 Marylanders will regain their vote under the new law, according to the Washington Post. The law goes into effect in 30 days, just over one month before the state’s primary elections on April 26.
Legislators in the Democratic-controlled General Assembly have overridden all six vetoes issued by Hogan, a Republican, in the latest legislative session.
Board of disciplinary appeals upholds decision against Charles Sebesta, who presented false testimony and withheld information in case of Anthony Graves
China, emerging markets, the eurozone, oil and commodities all pose a threat to the banking sector this year
Oil, mining and commodity-related debts ballooned in part because they borrowed heavily to fund investment when commodity prices were high. Now that prices have tumbled, those debts look increasingly unsustainable. America’s second-biggest natural gas firm, Chesapeake Energy, threatens to provide the first significant example of a big company driven under by debt. It was forced to deny this week that it was on the verge of bankruptcy, with debts of $10bn and a market value of just $1.2bn.
It is not just in the US where such disasters could arise. Firms that operate in regions where it costs a lot to extract oil, such as the UK North Sea, are seeing their profits wiped out.
Prolonged rock-bottom oil prices raise the prospect that some of these oil and gas companies will default on their debts, sending shockwaves through lenders such as banks and bond investors.
Japanese shares have fallen 2.3% on Wednesday as the Bank of Japan’s recent decision to force interest rates below zero is seen as having little impact
One analyst said markets could be seeing the start of the “final capitulation” as the attempt by central banks to stimulate growth with cheap money since the global financial crisis in 2008 had run its course.
“The artificial support from central banks is at a crossroads,” said Evan Lucas, of IG in Melbourne. “Central bank intervention will no longer create the holding pattern of the past year; markets now believe banks are out of ammunition.”
If we want to live in a country with single-payer healthcare and a $15 minimum wage, our only choice is to fight
ROBERT REICH / ROBERTREICH.ORG | Salon
QE and low interest rates have disproportionately created wealth in the financial sector and inflated asset bubbles. It has done little for the real economy. The rules of the market need to be rewritten
Neither monetary policy nor the financial sector is doing what it’s supposed to do. It appears that the flood of liquidity has disproportionately gone towards creating financial wealth and inflating asset bubbles, rather than strengthening the real economy. Despite sharp declines in equity prices worldwide, market capitalization as a share of world GDP remains high. The risk of another financial crisis cannot be ignored.
There are other policies that hold out the promise of restoring sustainable and inclusive growth. These begin with rewriting the rules of the market economy to ensure greater equality, more long-term thinking, and reining in the financial market with effective regulation and appropriate incentive structures.
But large increases in public investment in infrastructure, education, and technology will also be needed. These will have to be financed, at least in part, by the imposition of environmental taxes, including carbon taxes, and taxes on the monopoly and other rents that have become pervasive in the market economy – and contribute enormously to inequality and slow growth.
Joseph Stiglitz / Project Syndicate | Guardian
LONDON – Price movements as large and rapid as those that have upended oil markets since June 2014 are sure to cause pain to some and benefit others. Though the pain tends to capture the most attention, the benefit is just as important – if not more so. The 70% drop in the price of a barrel of crude represents a colossal transfer of $3 trillion in annual income from oil producers to oil consumers.
As a result, while sliding equity markets and a further decline in oil (and other commodity) prices have sparked much talk of another global recession, dire predictions are likely to prove overly gloomy and misdirected. To be sure, the dramatic drop in the price of oil will produce winners and losers. But the biggest dangers will be political, not economic.
Japan’s Nikkei index falls more than 5% in trading with Australian and some other Asian markets following suit
The Financial Times headline is uncharacteristically dramatic: America’s Middle Class Meltdown: core shrinks to half of US homes.
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