UN: worsening climate change hits tens of millions globally
The United Nations’ weather agency says extreme weather last year hit 62 million people worldwide and forced 2 million people to relocate, as man-made climate change worsened.
The World Meteorological Organization’s annual state of global climate report says Earth is nearly 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than when the industrial age started. World leaders are trying to limit warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), the Associated Press reports.
Emissions from burning fuels such as coal, gasoline and diesel for electricity and transportation are contributing to global warming that in turn brings more intense storms, floods and droughts.
The past four years were the warmest on record, according the to the report.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on global leaders to convene in September with plans to reduce emissions.
Supreme Court allows Trump ban on bump-stocks to continue
This is a mere token in the campaign for greater gun safety in the US, in contrast to New Zealand banning military-style assault weapons for civilians within days of the mass-shooting in Christchurch earlier this month, but there has been a tiny development here in America.
The US Supreme Court moments ago rejected a request by gun rights activists to put on hold the Trump administration’s ban on so-called bump stock attachments that allow semi-automatic weapons to be fired more rapidly – a rare recent instance of US gun control at the federal level.
The court, in a brief order, refused to grant a temporary stay sought by plaintiffs including the group Gun Owners of America, in a lawsuit filed in Michigan challenging the ban while litigation continues, Reuters reports.
The Trump administration policy took effect on Tuesday on the same day that Scotus Chief Justice John Roberts rejected a similar bid to delay implementation, in a separate legal challenge in Washington brought by individual gun owners and gun rights groups, including the Firearms Policy Foundation and Florida Carry Inc.
An appeals court previously exempted specific people and groups involved in the Washington case from the ban while that case continues.
Donald Trump pledged to ban the devices soon after a gunman used them in an October 2017 shooting spree that killed 58 people at a country music festival in Las Vegas. The Justice Department on Dec. 18 announced plans to implement the policy.
Bump stocks use a gun’s recoil to bump its trigger, enabling a semiautomatic weapon to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, which can transform it into a machine gun.
The Justice Department’s regulation followed the lead of many states and retailers that imposed stricter limits on sales of guns and accessories after a deadly shooting at a Florida high school in February 2018.
House votes to condemn Trump’s transgender military ban
Moment ago, the House of Representatives passed a resolution formally condemning the Trump administration’s transgender military ban in a 238-185 vote on Thursday, the Hill writes today.
Five Republicans joined every Democrat in backing the measure, which was spearheaded by Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), who serves as the chair of the Equality Caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force.
The resolution’s passage comes shortly after the administration announced the requirement for members of the military to serve as the gender they were assigned at birth would be implemented next month, effectively undoing the Obama administration’s policy from June 2016.
A federal appeals court on Tuesday finalized a ruling to lift an injunctionagainst the ban, allowing the policy to take effect April 12 as planned.
The non-binding resolution — which was cosponsored by 216 Democrats and GOP Rep. John Katko (NY) — states the reverse in policy is detrimental to “our national security by undermining our ability to recruit and retain the talented personnel” and “claims attempting to justify Trump’s ban are based on flawed scientific and medical assertions.”
Mueller report ‘more than 300 pages’ – report
Robert Mueller’s Russian interference report is more than 300 pages long, according to the New York Times – raising questions about the brevity of attorney general Bill Barr’s four page summary he released over the weekend.
From the Times:
Barr wrote to Congress on Sunday offering what he called the “principal conclusions” of the report — including that Mueller had not found evidence that the Trump campaign took part in a conspiracy to undermine the election. But he had notably declined to publicly disclose its length.
The total of 300-plus pages suggests that Mueller went well beyond the kind of bare-bones summary required by the Justice Department regulation governing his appointment and detailed his conclusions at length. And it raises questions about what Barr might have left out of the four dense pages he sent Congress.
In a follow-up story CNN, citing a Justice Department official, said the report was “between 300 and 400 pages, not including exhibits”.
How the world works:
Joseph Crowley joined Squire Patton Boggs last month. In 2018 the company’s clients included Shell, Amazon and Coca-Cola.
Some good news for Pete “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg, who has just recorded his best 2020 polling numbers.
In a national poll by Quinnipiac Buttigieg is the choice, nationwide, of 4% of Democrats and Democratic leaning registered voters – up from his previous high of 1%. According to CNN’s Harry Enten that is more meaningful than it seems.
“A jump of 3 points may not seem like a lot,” Enten wrote: “But, because the margin of error shrinks significantly the closer you get to 0, the move from 1% to 4% is likely statistically significant.
Earlier this week Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, came third in a poll of Iowa Democratic voters, and according to Enten Buttigieg “is receiving a lot of search interest on Google as well” – more people googled him in the past two weeks than in the previous 93 weeks combined.
What’s especially interesting about the search interest in Buttigieg is that it is much more organic than for other candidates. What I mean by that is candidates who receive more attention from the media are likely to receive more interest in searches.
That’s not the case for Buttigieg. About the only big media boost of attention Buttigieg has received has been the CNN town hall earlier this month. According to an analysis by FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver, Buttigieg has received less newspaper coverage over the last month than 10 of his fellow current or probable competitors for the Democratic nomination.
Amazingly, despite receiving less than a quarter of the newspaper mentions of Warren over the last month, Buttigieg has gotten more Google searches than Warren during the same period.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has charged Facebook with “encouraging, enabling, and causing” housing discrimination.
In a statement HUD said Facebook was breaking the law by restricting who can view housing-related adverts on its site: which the department said “unlawfully discriminates based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, and disability”.
“Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “Using a computer to limit a person’s housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone’s face.”
From the HUD statement:
HUD alleges that Facebook unlawfully discriminates based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex, and disability by restricting who can view housing-related ads on Facebook’s platforms and across the internet. Further, HUD claims Facebook mines extensive data about its users and then uses those data to determine which of its users view housing-related ads based, in part, on these protected characteristics.
Republicans on the House intelligence committee are demanding the resignation of Adam Schiff, saying they have “no faith” in the committee’s Democratic chairman.
Despite Bill Barr’s letter stating that Trump did not collude with Russia, Schiff is insisting the president and his associates colluded with Russia and may be compromised.
That has prompted calls from Republicans for Schiff to quit the committee. Trump went one further this morning and said Schiff “should be forced to resign from Congress”. From AP:
The fiery back-and-forth came during a rare public hearing by the secretive committee on Thursday in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia.
[…] Republicans submitted a letter to Schiff saying his statements [suggesting Trump did collude] have produced “no faith in your ability to discharge your duties” and mean Schiff should resign from the panel.
Schiff angrily refused and said some activities of Trump and his associates amount to “collusion” and “compromise.”
Hundreds of people have been evacuated due to historic flooding in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, at least two people have died, and more than a million water wells are threatened.
Meteorologists do not believe Rachel Maddow is linked to the floods.
Trump won’t rule out pardons for convicted associates
In a 45-minute interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity last night Trump refused to rule out pardoning Michael Flynn and others, despite some Republicans warning against it.
Asked by Hannity if he would consider pardoning Flynn, Trump said: “I don’t want to talk about pardons now,” but went on to suggest it was something on his mind. Some right-wing commentators have called for Trump to absolve Flynn and various other people convicted in the Mueller investigation, although Trump-ally Lindsey Graham told reporters on Monday that “if President Trump pardoned anybody in his orbit, it would not play well”. Here’s the Trump-Hannity exchange from Fox News:
“When you mention General Flynn, he was a man who had an incredible record in the military,” Trump told Hannity. “You see what happened to him. The FBI said he wasn’t lying, as I understand it, and the Mueller group said he was lying.
“And you know what he’s gone through, and what so many others have gone through,” Trump continued. “I could name names that would just go on for your entire show. It’s a very, very sad thing. I don’t want to talk about pardons now. But I can say, it’s so sad on so many levels.”
Angry-faced Fox News host Tucker Carlson had demanded pardons just 15 minutes before Trump’s Hannity interview. Carlson called for a slew of absolutions along with his guest Michael Caputo, a Republican strategist.
Caputo: “Pardon General Flynn. Pardon George Papadopoulos. And pardon Roger Stone right now, Mr President.”
Carlson: “I agree! I agree!”
Caputo: “Do it right now. Do it right now on Twitter!” He added: “That would blow some minds, wouldn’t it?”
Charlie Kirk, the founder of pro-Trump group Turning Point USA, has been another loud pro-pardon voice.
“I’ll take the usual please, Donald”:
Republicans in turmoil over Trump’s healthcare push
Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the day’s political news.
•Republicans are said to be in turmoil over the Donald Trump’s push for Obamacare to be dismantled in the courts. Vice-president Mike Pence and new attorney general Bill Barr are among the skeptics, according to the New York Times, with concerns that scrapping the Affordable Care Act could be a boon for Democrats in 2020. On Wednesday House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy reportedly told his colleagues that Trump’s push made no sense. McCarthy is holding his weekly press conference at 11.30am, and may elaborate.
•Trump has weighed in charges being dropped against Jussie Smollett. The president said the FBI and Department of Justice will review the Smollett case, after prosecutors in Chicago abruptly dropped their case against the Empire actor, but failed to exonerate Smollett, on Wednesday. Trump was not-exonerated by Robert Mueller earlier this week.
•The House Intelligence Committee is holding a hearing today on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Among those testifying at the 9am quizzing are former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and the former CIA chief of Russian operations. The official title of the hearing is: “Putin’s Playbook: The Kremlin’s Use of Oligarchs, Money and Intelligence in 2016 and Beyond”.
•The president is holding a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan tonight. He might just mention Mueller’s report. Trump needs to crack on with winning people over in the state, because polling suggests his approval rating in Michigan have plummeted since 2016.