MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones http://www.motherjones.com/rss/blogs_and_articles/feed/rss http://www.motherjones.com/files/motherjonesLogo_google_206X40.png Mother Jones logo http://www.motherjones.com en Trump and the Strong Dollar: A One-Day Follow-Up http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/trump-and-strong-dollar-one-day-follow <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><a href="http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/please-stop-pretending-donald-trumps-every-utterance-has-magic-powers" target="_blank">Yesterday</a> the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> blared the news that Donald Trump's comments on the dollar being too strong had sent the dollar "reeling." I suggested we might want to wait a few days before buying into this, but it turns out I was wrong. We only had to wait one day:</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_wsj_dollar_index_yesterday_today.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>This follows the usual formula: (a) Trump says something, (b) a related financial index reacts instantly, and (c) by the next day everything is back to normal. I gather that there are folks on Wall Street who are writing algorithms to make money off this dynamic, but it's unclear how long that can last. I mean, how many times can this happen before everyone realizes that Trump's blather doesn't really mean anything?</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 19 Jan 2017 04:30:02 +0000 Kevin Drum 323526 at http://www.motherjones.com Final Swamp Watch - 17 January 2017 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/final-swamp-watch-17-january-2017 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Despite weeks of effort, Donald Trump was apparently unable to find a Hispanic to serve as Secretary of Agriculture. Was this because no Hispanics were willing to join his administration? Or was it because Trump just couldn't build any kind of personal rapport with any of the Hispanics who came to Trump Tower to visit with him? We'll never know.</p> <p>Instead, <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/trump-will-pick-sonny-perdue-to-lead-agriculture-233820" target="_blank">our new Agriculture Secretary will be Sonny Perdue,</a> the man who won election as governor of Georgia in 2003 by promising to let residents vote on a flag referendum that would allow them to return the Confederate battle cross to a central position in the state flag. In the end, the Democratic legislature refused to allow this, and instead compromised on a flag that ditched the rebel cross but included the Confederate Stars and Bars&mdash;something that most people don't really recognize, but which kinda sorta appeased the <strike>racist</strike> Southern heritage faction of the Peach State.</p> <p>I'm sure this appealed to Trump, and Perdue <em>does</em> have some agricultural experience&mdash;that is, assuming you count the fact that he runs a "global trading company that facilitates U.S. commerce focusing on the export of U.S. goods and services...such as blueberries, grains, onions, peanuts, pecans, soybeans, and spinach." He's probably done pretty well for himself in this business, allowing him to join his brother, Sen. David Perdue, in the rich man's club.</p> <p>Anyway, that's it. Until and unless someone pulls out or is rejected by the Senate, Trump has now named his nominees for every cabinet-level position. As you can see, he tangled with the swamp, and the swamp won.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_trump_cabinet_2017_01_17.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 19 Jan 2017 02:21:08 +0000 Kevin Drum 323521 at http://www.motherjones.com Health Care Is All About the Benjamins http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/health-care-all-about-benjamins <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Sherri Underwood, a Midwestern woman in her mid-50s, writes that she voted for Donald Trump <a href="http://www.vox.com/first-person/2017/1/18/14300952/donald-trump-vote-regret" target="_blank">but now regrets it:</a></p> <blockquote> <p><strong>Most of my decision came down to my poor experience with Obamacare.</strong> In the &rsquo;90s, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic illness that causes fatigue, memory loss, physical aches, and soreness....I eventually was unable to work at all. I lost employer-based health insurance when I left the workforce and had to pay my health care costs out of pocket.</p> <p>When Obamacare first came into effect, I was excited to get what I thought would be financial help with my costly medicine and treatments. <strong>But [my husband&rsquo;s salary] put me in an earning bracket too high to qualify for any financial assistance....I&rsquo;m left with a premium of $893,</strong> so high that I can no longer afford the cost of my medicines and treatments on top of the monthly premiums.</p> <p>....<strong>In the end, I voted for Trump because he promised to repeal and replace Obamacare, and that was the most important issue to my own life.</strong> Looking back, I realize what a mistake it was. I ignored the pundits who repeated over and over again that he would not follow through on his promises, thinking they were spewing hysterics for better ratings. Sitting on my couch, my mouth agape at the words coming out his mouth on the TV before me, I realized just how wrong I was.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is so depressing. Underwood's general problem is that she's decided Trump is not a man who will carry out his promises, so now she doesn't believe he's going to improve Obamacare. Fine. But what Underwood never understood is that even if Trump <em>did</em> carry out his promises, she'd still be worse off. Although Underwood may not have qualified for a subsidy, she did benefit from the fact that Obamacare allows a maximum premium ratio of 3:1 between old people and young people. Trump and other Republicans think this ought to be 5:1. If it were, Underwood's premium would be over $1,000. Obamacare probably saved her something in the neighborhood of $2,000 per year.</p> <p>Plus Obamacare allowed her to get insurance in the first place. Until it took effect, no one would cover her.</p> <p>Lots of people have benefited considerably from Obamacare, but not everyone. Underwood found herself in the worst possible position: old enough to have a high premium but well-off enough that she didn't qualify for assistance. So she was gobsmacked when she discovered just how much health care costs in America. Most people have no real clue about this, but per-capita health care spending in the US for someone 55 years old is about $10,000 per year. That means insurance premiums are going to be $10,000+ per year too. There's just no getting around this.</p> <p>If Republicans want to cover people like Underwood, they're going to have to spend more money than Obamacare. If they want to reduce deductibles, they're going to have to spend more money than Obamacare. If they want to increase subsidies for the middle class, they're going to have to spend more money than Obamacare. This is an iron law, and no amount of blather about state lines or tort reform or anything else changes it more than minutely. But Republicans want to spend less, not more. Even if Trump had been sincere, there was never any chance that Underwood would do better under his plan than under Obamacare.</p> <p>It all comes down to money. Ignore the rest of the chaff. If you think national health care should be better, it means spending more money. Period.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Thu, 19 Jan 2017 01:28:36 +0000 Kevin Drum 323511 at http://www.motherjones.com Trump's UN Pick Contradicts Him on Major International Issues http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/nikki-haley-just-latest-trump-cabinet-pick-contradict-him-major-issues <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley came out hard against Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. She <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/12/politics/state-of-the-union-2016-republican-response-nikki-haley/" target="_blank">used her platform</a> during the GOP's response to President Barack Obama's 2016 State of the Union speech to urge fellow Republicans to resist the urge "to follow the siren call of the angriest voices" in her party's primary. <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/17/politics/nikki-haley-donald-trump-south-carolina/" target="_blank">She said</a> in February 2016 that Trump was "everything a governor doesn't want in a president," and only tepidly supported him after first backing Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and then Sen. Ted Cruz during the primary.</p> <p>The notoriously thin-skinned Trump responded by <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/trump-hits-back-nikki-haley-very-weak-illegal-immigration-n495711" target="_blank">calling the Indian American governor</a> "very weak on illegal immigration," and by <a href="https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/704751393991737345?lang=en" target="_blank">tweeting</a>, "The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!" Nonetheless, as president-elect, Trump picked Haley to be his ambassador to the United Nations, <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/trump-to-announce-south-carolina-gov-nikki-haley-to-be-un-ambassador-231788" target="_blank">calling her</a> a "proven deal-maker" with "a track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation." Haley accepted his nomination: "Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally," she said, adding that she was "honored that the president-elect has asked me to join his team."</p> <p>But during her Senate Foreign Relations committee confirmation hearings Wednesday, flanked by her husband, son, parents, and two brothers, Haley joined other Cabinet nominees<strong> </strong>in expressing differences with Trump on foreign policy issues, starting with Russia.</p> <p>"Do you agree, that both at the UN in New York and on the streets of Aleppo, Moscow has acted as an active accomplice in Assad's murder of his own people?" Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), asked.</p> <p>"Yes," Haley responded.</p> <p>A few minutes later, Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), said it was very clear that Russia had interfered in the US presidential election and asked Haley whether she would "stand up to Vladimir Putin and against Russia's attempt to interfere with our electoral system?"</p> <p>"We should stand up to any country that attempts to interfere with our [election] system," Haley said. Udall then asked her what her message to her Russian counterpart at the UN would be regarding election meddling.</p> <p>"That we are aware that it has happened, we don't find it acceptable, and that we are going to fight back every time we see something like that happening," Haley replied. "I don't think Russia's going to be the only one&mdash;I think we're going to start to see this around the world with other countries. And I think that we need to take a firm stand that when we see that happen, we are not going to take that softly, we are going to be very hard on that."</p> <p>Trump has continually downplayed and cast doubt on the findings of the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the FBI that Russia's government attempted to influence the 2016 US presidential election in order to hurt Hillary Clinton and boost Trump's chances of winning. Haley was just the latest of his nominees to publicly break from the president-elect on Russia: <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-01-12/trump-s-team-looks-smarter-on-russia" target="_blank">Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson did</a>, and <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/donald-trump-secretary-defense-james-mad-dog-mattis-democrats" target="_blank">so did</a> Defense Secretary nominee General James Mattis and the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/12/politics/mike-pompeo-cia-director-hearing-donald-trump/" target="_blank">nominee for CIA director, Rep. Mike Pompeo</a>.</p> <p>Haley also came out in support of NATO, calling it "an important alliance for us to have&hellip;and I think it's [an alliance] we need to strengthen." Trump <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/16/politics/donald-trump-times-bild-interview-takeaways/" target="_blank">has called NATO "obsolete."</a></p> <p>Unlike the confirmation hearings for some of Trump's other Cabinet picks, there were no contentious exchanges with even the Democratic senators during her three-and-a-half-hour hearing. Haley was long considered to be one of Trump's least controversial appointees.</p></body></html> Politics Donald Trump Nikki Haley Wed, 18 Jan 2017 22:50:34 +0000 AJ Vicens 323486 at http://www.motherjones.com Foreclosure Victims Say They Were Mistreated by Trump's Treasury Pick http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/steven-mnuchin-foreclosure-victims-elizabeth-warren <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>After Donald Trump nominated longtime Goldman Sachs executive Steven Mnuchin to be secretary of the treasury, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Democrats' leading anti-Wall Street crusader, asked to include "victims of Mnuchin's foreclosure machine" at his Senate confirmation hearing. According to Warren, Senate Republicans rebuffed her request. So on Wednesday, one day before Mnuchin goes before the Senate, Warren convened a panel of women who testified that OneWest Bank, under Mnuchin's leadership, ruthlessly tried to take away their homes.</p> <p>"If Steve Mnuchin become secretary of treasury, if he runs our country the way he ran OneWest Bank&mdash;cutthroat&mdash;this country is in trouble," said Sylvia Oliver, a New Jersey woman whose home was scheduled to be foreclosed on by OneWest on Wednesday. According to Oliver, OneWest has refused to modify her mortgage, but she managed to stave off foreclosure with the assistance of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who was at Wednesday's forum.</p> <p>In early 2009, Mnuchin led a team of investors in purchasing failed home lender IndyMac from the federal government&mdash;after <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/05/trumps-new-top-money-man-led-bank-profited-bailouts" target="_blank">extracting a promise </a>that the government would help pick up the tab for any losses&mdash;and took over as CEO of the bank, which changed its name to OneWest. During his tenure, which covered the time when the four women who testified ran into trouble with the bank, OneWest was known for its aggressive tactics in dealing with foreclosure. In 2015, Mnuchin sold OneWest to another California bank, CIT, for more than twice what he and his fellow investors had paid. Mnuchin, who had previously donated to Democratic candidates, joined Trump's campaign fundraising team in May 2016, when Trump was still toxic to many Republicans, and he became one of Trump's first announced Cabinet picks.</p> <p>"The OneWest model was terrible for homeowners, but it was great for Mr. Mnuchin," Warren said on Wednesday, claiming that Mnuchin pocketed more than $200 million from the sale to CIT. "At [Thursday's] hearing, he will have the opportunity to explain why his years of grinding families into the dirt at OneWest Bank does not disqualify him from becoming the nation's top economic official." (A spokesman for Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch did not respond to a request for confirmation that Warren had asked to include the foreclosure victims in Thursday's hearing.)</p> <p>Cristina Clifford, a California acupuncturist, told the panel that her business began to falter in 2009 and she struggled to make her mortgage payments to IndyMac. Clifford said the bank told her that she didn't qualify for a mortgage adjustment because she had always made her payments on time. She said she stopped doing so, on the bank's recommendation. But by the time she was approved for a mortgage modification and submitted the paperwork, the bank was under Mnuchin's control. It cashed the check she sent with the paperwork, she said, but insisted it never received her application. This happened twice, Clifford said, and eventually the house was sold by the bank, even as she says her lawyer was attempting to work with OneWest to avoid a foreclosure.</p> <p>"It was OneWest that saw a chance to make money,"&nbsp;Clifford told <em>Mother Jones.</em> "They could've kept me in the house and worked with me, or they could've sold the house and made a couple extra thousand dollars."</p> <p>Senate Democrats are expected to grill Mnuchin on OneWest's business tactics tomorrow. <em>The Hill </em>obtained an advance copy of Mnuchin's prepared statements and <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/finance/314918-mnuchin-to-defend-foreclosure-record-in-opening-remarks" target="_blank">reported</a> that he will defend OneWest as "an American success story."</p> <p>"My group had nothing to do with the creation of risky loans in the IndyMac loan portfolios," Mnuchin reportedly plans to say. "We did this because we believed in our ability to rebuild and create a successful regional bank. We believed in recovery for the American economy."</p></body></html> Politics Donald Trump Wed, 18 Jan 2017 22:36:02 +0000 Russ Choma 323496 at http://www.motherjones.com Scott Pruitt vs. Science http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/01/epa-scott-pruitt-science <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>Outside Scott Pruitt&rsquo;s confirmation hearing to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the hall was packed with demonstrators. Some were Standing Rock activists protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Others were wearing face masks to make a point about Pruitt's polluter allies. Many environmentalists argue that Pruitt is simply too deep in the pocket of the oil and gas industry to make his EPA anything but a farce when it comes to science.</p> <p>Inside the hearing, Pruitt at times seemed to bolster that case. Throughout the morning, he hedged on the basic science on a range of issues under the EPA's purview, faltering even when it came to the most well-established impacts of pollution.</p> <p>On climate change, Pruitt claimed there's more scientific controversy than there really is. He acknowledged that global warming is not a "hoax" and that humans have at least some impact on the climate. But, he added, "the ability to measure and pursue the degree and the extent of that impact and what to do about it are subject to continuing debate and dialogue." That's a common line used by Republicans to dodge the tougher question of what policies are needed to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. In reality, there is virtually no debate in the scientific community over manmade climate change, and many of its consequences&mdash;from drought, to rising seas, to increased wildfires&mdash;are well-established.</p> <p>Pruitt repeatedly insisted that as head of the EPA, his job would simply be to carry out the intent of Congress and that his "personal opinion is immaterial" when it comes to climate science. What he didn't mention, however, is that the EPA administrator is mandated by Congress to evaluate the best-available science and implement regulations based on what is needed to protect public health.</p> <p>Pruitt also seemed unaware of the science surrounding <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/01/pruitt-safe-level-lead">lead poisoning.</a> "That's something I have not reviewed nor know about," he said when asked if there was any safe level of lead in the human body. "I would be concerned about any level of lead going into the drinking water. Or obviously human consumption. But I have not looked at the scientific research on that." (<a href="https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/" target="_blank">According to the&nbsp;Centers for Disease Control and Prevention</a>, "No safe blood lead level in children has been identified.")</p> <p>On other issues, Pruitt appeared to contradict his record as Oklahoma attorney general. Asked about the impact of mercury pollution, Pruitt said mercury is "very dangerous" and that he's "concerned." In 2012, however, he signed onto a <a href="http://www.edfaction.org/sites/default/files/Joint%2520Brief.pdf">lawsuit</a> challenging the EPA's mercury regulations, arguing that "the record does not support EPA's findings that mercury&hellip;pose[s] public health hazards."</p> <p>Asked about methane pollution&mdash;which often leaks from natural gas sites&mdash;Pruitt noted that it is a "more potent" greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. He added that he's "concerned" about methane, but not "deeply concerned."<strong> </strong>As attorney general, Pruitt <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/12/07/trump-names-scott-pruitt-oklahoma-attorney-general-suing-epa-on-climate-change-to-head-the-epa/?utm_term=.c2c97f126023" target="_blank">sued</a> the EPA over its efforts to restrict methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure.</p> <p>Pruitt also told to Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that the EPA's so-called "endangerment finding"&mdash;its ruling that that carbon pollution is a danger to public health and is therefore subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act&mdash;should continue to be enforced. "Nothing I know of that would cause a review at this point," he said. As attorney general, Pruitt <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2016/12/scott_pruitt_has_already_tried_to_neuter_the_epa.html" target="_blank">sued the EPA in an effort to overturn the endangerment finding</a>.</p></body></html> Environment Climate Change Climate Desk EPA science Scott Pruitt Wed, 18 Jan 2017 21:04:33 +0000 Rebecca Leber 323471 at http://www.motherjones.com Six Agencies Are Investigating Trump-Russia Ties http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/six-agencies-are-investigating-trump-russia-ties <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>McClatchy has the latest on the investigation into <a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/politics-government/article127231799.html" target="_blank">ties between Russia and the Trump team:</a></p> <blockquote> <p>The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election....<strong>The agencies involved in the inquiry are the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department&rsquo;s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and representatives of the director of national intelligence,</strong> the sources said.</p> <p>....One of the allegations involves whether <strong>a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners</strong> may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said....A key mission of the six-agency group has been to examine <strong>who financed the email hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.</strong></p> <p>....The working group is scrutinizing the activities of a few Americans who were affiliated with Trump&rsquo;s campaign or his business empire and of multiple individuals from Russia and other former Soviet nations who had similar connections, the sources said.</p> <p>....<strong>The BBC reported that the FBI had obtained a warrant on Oct. 15</strong> from the highly secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing investigators access to bank records and other documents about potential payments and money transfers related to Russia. <strong>One of McClatchy&rsquo;s sources confirmed the report.</strong></p> </blockquote> <p>That's an awful lot of agencies investigating an awful lot of allegations against an awful lot of people. And as the article says, you can't get a warrant unless you can demonstrate at least some kind of plausible probable cause. That means these folks are working off a lot more than just the famous dossier produced by the ex-MI6 spy.</p> <p>At this point, I flatly don't know what I believe anymore. This is all crazy stuff, but a whole bunch of investigators don't seem to be treating it as crazy. Either way, though, the guy at the center of all this is going to become president of the United States in two days.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 18 Jan 2017 20:16:56 +0000 Kevin Drum 323491 at http://www.motherjones.com Elizabeth Warren Grills Trump's Health Nominee on His Efforts to Slash Medicare and Medicaid http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/01/elizabeth-warren-tom-price-medicare-medicaid <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">Sen. Elizabeth Warren questions HHS nominee Rep. Tom Price on Medicare and Medicaid funding <a href="https://t.co/j6jNyCkKvZ">https://t.co/j6jNyCkKvZ</a> <a href="https://t.co/ogEBfQjlXy">https://t.co/ogEBfQjlXy</a></p> &mdash; CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) <a href="https://twitter.com/CNNPolitics/status/821780902305005580">January 18, 2017</a></blockquote> <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services won't say whether he agrees with the president-elect's campaign pledge to not cut funding for Medicare and Medicaid. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) faced pointed questioning from Elizabeth Warren during a Senate hearing Wednesday morning, as the Massachusetts senator tried to get a simple "yes" or "no" answer on whether the Trump administration still intended to uphold that promise.</p> <p>Trump, who is often all over the map when it comes to policy issues, was remarkably consistent during the campaign when it came to his desire to leave Medicare and Medicaid untouched. But Warren had good reason to wonder whether that has changed, especially with Price slated to manage health care policy in the new administration. Waving around a copy of legislation Price proposed as chair of the House budget committee, Warren said the bill included large cuts to the pair of health programs over the next decade: $449 billion in Medicare cuts and more than $1 trillion for Medicaid.</p> <p>Price squirmed in his seat and suggested that money isn't the right metric with which to measure his plans, but Warren wasn't having it. "These are really simple questions," Warren said. "And frankly the millions of Americans who rely on Medicare and Medicaid today are not going to be very reassured by your notion that you have some metric other than the dollars that they need to provide these services."</p> <p>Giving up hope that Price would be willing to give a clear answer, Warren ended that line of questioning with a simple suggestion: "You might want to print out President-elect Trump's statement&mdash;'I am not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid'&mdash;and post that above your desk in your new office, because Americans will be watching to see if you follow through on that promise."</p></body></html> Politics Congress Health Health Care Wed, 18 Jan 2017 19:30:37 +0000 Patrick Caldwell 323466 at http://www.motherjones.com Chart of the Day: Our Planet Continues to Fry http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/01/chart-day-our-planet-continues-fry <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p>There's just not much to say about this. We now have the <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/noaa-nasa_global_analysis-2016.pdf" target="_blank">official number for 2016,</a> and it was <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/18/science/earth-highest-temperature-record.html" target="_blank">yet another record-setting year</a> for global warming. Here's the latest set of <a href="http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php" target="_blank">Arctic temperatures:</a></p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_arctic_temperature_2016_2017.jpg" style="margin: 15px 0px 15px 0px;"></p> <p>The green line is where we'd normally be. The red line is where we are: about 15&deg;C higher than usual. Total sea ice extent is now about 3 million square kilometers less than normal.</p> <p>However, 2017 will probably be a little cooler than 2016 thanks to the end of our latest El Ni&ntilde;o, so I'm sure the climate deniers will be back in the saddle a year from now. In the meantime, we continue to fry.</p></body></html> Kevin Drum Wed, 18 Jan 2017 18:33:31 +0000 Kevin Drum 323461 at http://www.motherjones.com 2016 Was the Hottest Year Ever Recorded http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/01/2016-hottest-year-ever-recorded <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd"> <html><body><p><em>This story was originally published by the </em><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/18/2016-hottest-year-ever-recorded-and-scientists-say-human-activity-to-blame" target="_blank">Guardian</a> <em>and is reproduced here as part of the <a href="http://climatedesk.org" target="_blank">Climate Desk</a> collaboration.</em></p> <p>2016 was the hottest year on record, setting a new high for the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/jul/11/we-just-broke-the-record-for-hottest-year-9-straight-times">third year in a row</a>, with scientists firmly putting the blame on human activities that drive climate change.</p> <p>The final data for 2016 was released on Wednesday by the three key agencies&mdash;the <a href="http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/2017/2016-record-breaking-year-for-global-temperature">UK Met Office</a> and <a href="http://go.nasa.gov/2016climate">NASA</a> and the <a href="http://and%20Noaa%20in%20the%20US%20%C3%A2%C2%80%C2%93%20and%20showed%2016%20of%20the%2017%20hottest%20years%20on%20record%20have%20been%20this%20century." target="_blank">National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration</a> in the United States&mdash;and showed 16 of the 17 hottest years on record have been this century.</p> <p>Direct temperature measurements stretch back to 1880, but scientific research indicates the world was last this warm about <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/03/global-temperature-climate-change-highest-115000-years">115,000 years ago</a> and that the planet has not experienced such high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for <a href="http://climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/7/">4 million years</a>.</p> <p>In 2016, global warming delivered scorching temperatures around the world. The resulting extreme weather means the impacts of climate change on people are coming sooner and with more ferocity than expected, according to scientists.</p> <p>The natural El Ni&ntilde;o climate phenomenon, which helped ramp up temperatures to <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/mar/14/february-breaks-global-temperature-records-by-shocking-amount">"shocking" levels</a> in early 2016, has now waned, but carbon emissions were the major factor and will continue to drive rising heat. Scientists expect 2017 to be another extremely hot year.</p> <p>The new data shows the Earth has now risen about 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) above the levels seen before the industrial revolution, when large-scale fossil fuel burning began. This brings it perilously close to the 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) target included as an aim of the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/04/paris-climate-change-agreement-enters-into-force">global climate agreement signed in Paris</a> in December 2015.</p> <div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Screen%20Shot%202017-01-18%20at%2011.36.53%20AM.png" style="height: 478px; width: 630px;"></div> <p>The declaration of 2016 as a year of record-breaking heat comes just ahead of the inauguration of Donald Trump as president. Trump has called global warming a <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/428414113463955457">hoax</a> and is filling his administration with <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/dec/28/donald-trump-cabinet-climate-deniers-conspiracy-wealth">climate change deniers</a> and former ExxonMobil boss Rex Tillerson. Tillerson<a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/11/tillerson-says-climate-change-poses-risks-breaking-with-trump.html"> said </a>recently that climate change does exist but that the <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/11/tillerson-says-climate-change-poses-risks-breaking-with-trump.html">ability to predict the effects of greenhouse gas emissions is "very limited,"</a> a statement most climate scientists would reject.</p> <p>The three temperature records are independent but reached very similar conclusions. The <a href="https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/summary-info/global/2016/12">data from NOAA</a> showed 2016 saw the global average temperature break records for eight months is a row from January to August in 2016, while no land area experienced an annual average temperature that was cooler than 20th-century average. NOAA also found Arctic sea ice fell to its lowest annual average extent on record and Antarctic sea ice to the second smallest extent on record.</p> <p>Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, said: "The spate of record-warm years that we have seen in the 21st century can only be explained by human-caused climate change. The effect of human activity on our climate is no longer subtle. It's plain as day, as are the impacts&mdash;in the form of record floods, droughts, superstorms and wildfires&mdash;that it is having on us and our planet."</p> <p>"While there may be some cost in mitigating climate change, there are already major costs in damages," said Prof Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research, who estimates the costs as already tens of billions of dollars a year. "Yet if sensible approaches are implemented in the right way for [cutting emissions] and building resilience, the increases in energy efficiency can actually make it a net gain, not only for the planet for for everyone."</p> <p>Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics, said: "Any politician who denies this evidence from world-class climate scientists will be willfully turning a blind eye to rising risks that threaten the lives and livelihoods of their citizens.</p> <p>"I hope that President-elect Trump and his team in particular will acknowledge and act on this important scientific information."</p> <p>Peter Stott, acting director of the Met Office's Hadley Center, said: "A particularly strong El Ni&ntilde;o event contributed about 0.2C to the annual average for 2016. However, the main contributor to warming over the last 150 years is human influence on climate from increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere."</p> <p>The head of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/14/2016-will-be-the-hottest-year-on-record-un-says">Petteri Taalas, said in November</a>: "The extra heat from the powerful El Ni&ntilde;o event has disappeared. The heat from global warming will continue. Because of climate change, the occurrence and impact of extreme events has risen. &lsquo;Once in a generation' heatwaves and flooding are becoming more regular."</p> <p>A WMO report said human-induced global warming had contributed to at least half the extreme weather events studied in recent years, with the risk of extreme heat increasing by 10 times in some cases.</p> <p>The record-smashing temperatures in 2016 led to searing heat waves throughout the year: a new high of 42.7 degrees C (108.9 degrees F) was recorded in Pretoria, South Africa in January; Mae Hong Son in Thailand saw 44.6 degrees C (112.3 degrees F) on April 28; Phalodi in <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/20/india-records-its-hottest-day-ever-as-temperature-hits-51c-thats-1238f">India reached 51.0 degrees C</a> (123.8 degrees F) in May, and <a href="https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/eastern-hemispheres-alltime-temperature-record-kuwait-fries-in-54">Mitribah in Kuwait recorded 54.0 degrees C</a> (129.2 degrees F) in July. Warm oceans saw coral mortality of up to 50 percent in parts of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/07/the-great-barrier-reef-a-catastrophe-laid-bare">Australia's Great Barrier Reef</a> and bleaching of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/12/almost-75-of-japans-biggest-coral-reef-has-died-from-bleaching-says-report">75 percent of Japan's biggest reef</a>.</p> <p>The level of CO2 in the atmosphere also broke records in 2016, with May seeing the highest monthly value yet&mdash;407.7 parts per million&mdash;at <a href="https://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/full.html">Mauna Loa, in Hawaii</a>, the site of the longest-running measurements dating back to 1958.</p> <p>Global <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/nov/14/fossil-fuel-co2-emissions-nearly-stable-for-third-year-in-row">carbon emissions have barely grown in the last three years</a>, after decades of strong growth, according to an analysis published in November. The main reason is <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/25/china-coal-peak-hailed-turning-point-climate-change-battle">China burning less coal</a>, but CO2 is still being emitted into the atmosphere at record levels. "CO2 will continue to rise and cause the planet to warm until emissions are cut down to near zero," said Prof Corinne Le Qu&eacute;r&eacute; at the University of East Anglia.</p></body></html> Environment Climate Change Climate Desk Science Wed, 18 Jan 2017 18:26:44 +0000 Damian Carrington 323446 at http://www.motherjones.com