MoJo Blogs and Articles | Mother Jones Mother Jones logo en Illegal Pot Farms Are Literally Sucking California Salmon Streams Dry <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="" class="image" src="/files/Water-map-web_0.gif"><div class="caption"><strong>Outlet Creek watershed in Northern California's Mendocino County. </strong>Scott Bauer</div> </div> <p>Northern California pot farmers are using up all of the water that normally supports key populations of the region's federally protected salmon and steelhead trout.</p> <p>That, at least, is the conclusion of a new study, <a href="" target="_blank">published last week in the journal PLOS One</a>, that examined four California watersheds where salmon and trout are known to spawn. In the three watersheds with intensive pot cultivation, illegal marijuana farms literally sucked up all of the water during the streams' summer low-flow period, leaving nothing to support the fish.</p> <p>Author Scott Bauer, a biologist with the state department of fish and wildlife, estimated the size and location of outdoor and greenhouse pot farms by looking at Google Earth images and accompanying drug enforcement officers on raids. He did not include "indoor" grows&mdash;marijuana grown under lamps in buildings.</p> <p>After visiting 32 marijuana greenhouses in eight locations and averaging the results, Bauer extrapolated his findings to all greenhouses in the study area&mdash;virtually nothing else is grown in greenhouses in this part of the country. The sites contained marijuana plants at a density of about one per square meter, with each plant (taking waste and other factors into account) using about six gallons of water a day. Overall, he calculated, pot operations within the study yielded 112,000 plants, and consumed 673,000 gallons of water every day.</p> <p>And that is water the area's fish badly need. The Coho salmon population is listed as threatened under both state and federal Endangered Species Acts, and is designated as a key population to maintain or improve as part of the state's recovery plan.&nbsp;</p> <p>Bauer collected his data last year, at a time when California's drought had already become its worst in more than 1,200 years. When I spoke to him at the time, he told me that pot farming had surpassed logging and development to become <a href="" target="_blank">the single biggest threat to the area's salmon</a>. Now that that the drought is expected to extend into a fourth year, the same streams could run dry again this summer, and remain so for an even longer period of time.</p> <p>Overall, the outdoor and greenhouse grows consume more than <a href="" target="_blank">60 million gallons of water a day</a> during the growing season&mdash;50 percent more than is used by all the residents of San Francisco.</p> <p>"Clearly, water demands for the existing level of marijuana cultivation in many Northern California watersheds are unsustainable and are likely contributing to the decline of sensitive aquatic species in the region," Bauer's study concludes. "Given the specter of climate change"&mdash;and the attendant rise of megadroughts&mdash;"the current scale of marijuana cultivation in Northern California could be catastrophic for aquatic species."</p></body></html> Blue Marble Food and Ag Marijuana Top Stories drought Fri, 27 Mar 2015 20:06:30 +0000 Josh Harkinson 272476 at Forget Elizabeth Warren. Another Female Senator Has a Shot to Fill the Senate's New Power Vacuum. <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>In the nanoseconds after Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid <a href="" target="_blank">announced</a> Friday morning that he will give up his leadership post and retire in 2016, liberal groups raced to <a href="" target="_blank">promote</a> their go-to solution for almost any political problem: Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Much like the movement to draft Warren for president, the idea of putting her in charge of the Democratic caucus was more dream than reality. Warren's office has already <a href="" target="_blank">said</a> she won't run and as <em>Vox</em>'s Dylan Matthews <a href="" target="_blank">explains</a>, putting Warren in charge of the Democratic caucus would prevent her from holding her colleagues accountable when they stray too far from progressive ideals.</p> <p>Instead, Reid's likely replacement is New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who already has endorsements from Reid and&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Dick Durbin</a>, the outgoing minority leader's No. 2. But lefties have long been wary of Schumer who, thanks to his home base in New York City, is far more sympathetic to Wall Street than the rest of his caucus. And lost in the Warren hype is another female senator: Washington's Patty Murray.</p> <p>As caucus secretary, Murray is the fourth-ranking member of Senate Democratic leadership, behind Reid, Durbin, and Schumer. If she decides to take on Schumer for Reid's job, Murray could be the first woman to serve as a party leader in the US Senate. Murray's office didn't respond to a request for comment on whether she'd run for the job and, besides a general <a href="" target="_blank">statement</a> praising Reid, was notably quiet on Friday.</p> <p>In 2013, I co-wrote a <a href="" target="_blank">profile of Murray for <em>The American Prospect</em></a> looking at her role in leading Democrats' negotiations with Republicans on the budget, and explained how she's a pragmatic progressive who will push for the most liberal policies she can pass while still being willing to forge compromise with the centrists in her party:</p> <blockquote> <p>There&rsquo;s something peculiarly undefined about Murray&rsquo;s ideology. She&rsquo;s a liberal, a West Coast liberal to be precise: strong on social issues, the environment, workers&rsquo; rights, and the government&rsquo;s role in society. She hews closely to the Democratic talking points of the day. But it&rsquo;s hard to discern a coherent vision or theory behind her views. She is as far left as you can go without alienating the centrists in the party. More than anything, she&rsquo;s a pragmatist. Success trumps belief in the "right" things. At the same time, Murray doesn&rsquo;t venerate moderation for its own sake&mdash;she&rsquo;s no Rahm Emanuel. "She&rsquo;s a strong progressive," says a former Budget Committee staff member, "but she won&rsquo;t tilt at windmills, she won&rsquo;t force a vote on something she knows she&rsquo;s not going to win."</p> </blockquote> <p>Murray certainly has the resume to compete for the job. She led the Democrats' campaign arm in 2012, when the party picked up two Senate seats, defying pundits' predictions. She <a href="" target="_blank">forged a budget agreement</a> with Rep. Paul Ryan in 2013 that averted across-the-board budget cuts. Murray is generally press-shy&mdash;she flies home across the country each weekend instead of doing the Sunday show circuit&mdash;which would leave room for other Senate stars, including Warren, to be the party's public face while Murray controls the behind-the-scenes negotiations. But as that budget committee staffer told me in 2013, Murray isn't known for picking fights she can't win. If she runs against Schumer, it'll be because she thinks she has a real shot at Reid's post.</p></body></html> MoJo Congress Top Stories Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:58:21 +0000 Patrick Caldwell 272506 at Japan Wants You to Believe That These Coal Plants Will Help the Environment <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Japan is at it again. Back in <a href="" target="_blank">December</a>, the country got caught trying to pass off $1 billion worth of investments in coal-fired power plants in Indonesia as "climate finance"&mdash;that is, funding to fight climate change. Coal plants, of course, are the world's single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions.</p> <p>Today, the <a href="" target="_blank">Associated Press discovered over half a billion more</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Japanese officials now say they are also counting $630 million in loans for coal plants in Kudgi, India, and Matarbari, Bangladesh, as climate finance. The Kudgi project has been marred by violent clashes between police and local farmers who fear the plant will pollute the environment.</p> <p>Tokyo argues that the projects are climate-friendly because the plants use technology that burns coal more efficiently, reducing their carbon emissions compared to older coal plants. Also, Japanese officials stress that developing countries need coal power to grow their economies and expand access to electricity.</p> </blockquote> <p>Putting aside Japan's assumption that developing countries need coal-fired power plants (a view still under much <a href="" target="_blank">debate</a> by energy-focused development economists), the real issue here is that there isn't an official, internationally recognized definition of "climate finance." In broad strokes, it refers to money a country is spending to address the problem of climate change, through measures to either mitigate it (i.e., emit less carbon dioxide from power plants, vehicles, etc.) or adapt to it (building sea walls or developing drought-tolerant seeds, for example). But there remains little transparency or oversight for what exactly a country can count toward that end.</p> <p>The reason that matters is because climate finance figures are a vital chip in international climate negotiations. At a UN climate meeting in Peru late last year, Japan announced that it had put $16 billion into climate finance since 2013. Likewise, President Barack Obama last year pledged <a href="" target="_blank">$3 billion</a> toward the UN's Green Climate Fund, plus several billion more for climate-related initiatives in his proposed <a href="" target="_blank">budget</a>. Other countries have made similar <a href="" target="_blank">promises</a>.</p> <p>Each of these commitments is seen as a quantitative reflection of how seriously a country takes climate change and how far they're willing to go to address it, and there's always pressure to up the ante. And these promises from rich countries are especially important because in many cases the countries most affected by climate change impacts are developing ones that are the least equipped to do anything about it&mdash;and least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that caused global warming in the first place. But the whole endeavor starts to look pretty hollow and meaningless if it turns out that "climate finance" actually refers to something as environmentally dubious as a coal plant.</p> <p>These numbers will take on increasing significance in the run-up to the major climate summit in Paris in December, which is meant to produce a wide-reaching, meaningful international climate accord. So now more than ever, maximum transparency is vital. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p></body></html> Blue Marble Climate Change Climate Desk Energy International Top Stories Infrastructure Fri, 27 Mar 2015 19:26:20 +0000 Tim McDonnell 272496 at Friday Cat Blogging - 27 March 2015 <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Today I get to spend six hours in a chair getting Cytoxin pumped into my body. So this is it. No more tests or consults. This is the first actual step in the second stage of my chemotherapy. Following this infusion, I will spend a week injecting myself with a drug that (a) stimulates white blood cell production and (b) will apparently make me feel like I have the flu. Next, I spend a week in LA sitting in a chair several hours a day while they extract stem cells from my body. Then a week of rest and then the stem cell transplant itself, which will put me out of commission for a minimum of three weeks.</p> <p>So no blogging today. Next week is iffy. Probably nothing much the week after that either. Then maybe some blogging during my rest week. And then I'll go offline probably completely for a month or so. It all depends on just how quickly I recover from the transplant. We'll see.</p> <p>In the meantime, here are Hopper and Hilbert, hale and hearty as ever. Have a nice weekend, everyone.</p> <p><img align="middle" alt="" class="image image-_original" src="/files/blog_hilbert_hopper_2015_03_27.jpg" style="border: 1px solid black; margin: 15px 0px 5px 60px;"></p></body></html> Kevin Drum Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:00:10 +0000 Kevin Drum 272456 at Harry Reid Announces His Retirement <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><strong>Update, 12:26 p.m.:</strong> Shortly after announcing his retirement, Reid <a href="" target="_blank">endorsed</a> Sen. Chuck&nbsp;Schumer (D-N.Y.) to replace him. "I think Schumer should be able to succeed me,&rdquo; he told the <em>Washington Post</em> in an interview at his DC residence.&nbsp;</p> <p>Senate Minority&nbsp;Leader Harry Reid <a href="" target="_blank">announced on Friday </a>he will not be seeking reelection when his term comes to an end next year. He announced his retirement in a YouTube video:</p> <center> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>My life&rsquo;s work has been to make Nevada and our nation better. Thank you for giving me that wonderful opportunity. <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) <a href="">March 27, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script></center> <p>The decision to retire, the 75-year-old senator from Nevada said, "has absolutely nothing to do" with the injury he sustained back in January from an exercising accident or his new role as minority leader following the Democrats' loss during the midterm elections. In an interview with the <em>New York Times</em> <a href="" target="_blank">he explained</a>, "I want to be able to go out at the top of my game. I don&rsquo;t want to be a 42-year-old trying to become a designated hitter."</p> <p>In the video, Reid continues with a message to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, "Don't be too elated. I'm going to be here for 22 more months, and you know what I'm going to be doing? The same thing I've done since I first came to the Senate. We have to make sure the Democrats take control of the Senate again."</p> <p>&nbsp;</p></body></html> MoJo Video Congress Elections Fri, 27 Mar 2015 12:21:47 +0000 Inae Oh 272486 at We Could Stop Global Warming With This Fix—But It's Probably a Terrible Idea <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><div class="inline inline-center" style="display: table; width: 1%"><img alt="Mount Pinatubo" class="image" src="/files/pinatubo630.jpg"><div class="caption"><strong>Mount Pinatubo erupting in 1991 </strong>Bullit Marquez/AP</div> </div> <p>Back in the late 1990s, Ken Caldeira set out to disprove the "ludicrous" idea that we could reverse global warming by filling the sky with chemicals that would partially block the sun. A few years earlier, <a href="" target="_blank">Mount Pinatubo</a> had erupted&nbsp;in the Philippines, sending tiny sulfate particles&mdash;known as aerosols&mdash;into the stratosphere, where they reflected sunlight back into space and <a href="">temporarily cooled the planet</a>. Some scientists believed that an artificial version of this process could be used to cancel out the warming effect of greenhouse gases.</p> <p>"Our original goal was to show that it was a crazy idea and wouldn't work," says Caldeira, who at the time was a climate scientist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. But when Caldeira and a colleague ran a model to test out this geoengineering scenario, they were shocked by what they found. "Much to our surprise, it worked really well," he recalls. "Our results indicate that geoengineering schemes could markedly diminish regional and seasonal climate change from increased atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub>," they wrote in a <a href="">2000 paper</a>.</p> <p>You might think that the volume of aerosols needed to increase the Earth's reflectivity (known as albedo) enough to halt global climate change would be enormous. But speaking to Kishore Hari on this week's <em>Inquiring Minds </em>podcast, Caldeira explains that "if you had just one firehose-worth of material constantly spraying into the stratosphere, that would be enough to offset all of the global warming anticipated for the rest of this century."</p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p>So does Caldeira think it's time to start blasting aerosols into the air? Nope. "It's a funny situation that I feel like I'm in," he says. "Most of our published results show that it would actually work quite well, but personally I think it would be a crazy thing to do." He thinks there's just too much risk.</p> <p>Caldeira, now a&nbsp;climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, recently contributed to a massive National Academy of Sciences report examining various geoengineering proposals. The report concluded that technologies to block solar radiation "should not be deployed at this time" and warned that "there is significant potential for unanticipated, unmanageable, and regrettable consequences in multiple human dimensions&hellip;including political, social, legal, economic, and ethical dimensions." As my colleague Tim McDonnell <a href="">explained</a> back when the NAS study was released:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;">Albedo modification would [use] airplanes or rockets to deliver loads of sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere, where they would bounce sunlight back into space. But if the technology is straightforward, the consequences are anything but.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;">The aerosols fall out of the air after a matter of years, so they would need to be continually replaced. And if we continued to burn fossil fuels, ever more aerosols would be needed to offset the warming from the additional CO<sub>2</sub>. [University of California-San Diego scientist Lynn] Russell said that artificially blocking sunlight would have unknown consequences for photosynthesis by plants and phytoplankton, and that high concentrations of sulfate aerosols could produce acid rain. Moreover, if we one day suddenly ceased an albedo modification program, it could cause rapid global warming as the climate adjusts to all the built-up CO<sub>2</sub>. For these reasons, the report warns that it would be "irrational and irresponsible to implement sustained albedo modification without also pursuing emissions mitigation, carbon dioxide removal, or both."</p> <p>Still, the NAS report called for further research into albedo modification, just in case we one day reach a point where we seriously consider it.</p> <p>Caldeira hopes it never comes to that. Like most other advocates of geoengineering research, he'd much rather stave off global warming by drastically cutting carbon emissions. In fact, he calls for a target of zero emissions. But he doesn't have much faith in politicians or in legislative fixes like carbon taxes or cap and trade. "The only way it's really going to happen," he says, "is if there's a change in the social norms." Caldeira envisions a world in which it's socially unacceptable for power companies to "use the sky as a waste dump."</p> <p>And if that doesn't work out?</p> <p>Caldeira points out that if we keep emitting huge amounts of CO<sub>2</sub>, temperatures are going to keep rising. That could lead to <a href="" target="_blank">increased crop failures</a> and possibly even "widespread famines with millions of people dying." In that type of hypothetical crisis, he says, "there's really only one way known to cool the planet on a politically relevant timescale"&mdash;aerosols. "So I think it's worth understanding it now," he adds. "At some point in the future it could make sense to do. I hope we don't get to that state, but it's possible."</p> <p><em>To hear the full interview with Ken Caldeira, stream below:</em></p> <p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="" width="100%"></iframe></p> <p name="b990"><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Inquiring Minds</a><em> is a podcast hosted by neuroscientist and musician Indre Viskontas and Kishore Hari, the director of the Bay Area Science Festival. To catch future shows right when they are released, subscribe to </em>Inquiring Minds <em>via </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>iTunes</em></a><em> or</em> <a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>RSS</em></a><em>. </em><em>You can follow the show on Twitter at </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>@inquiringshow</em></a><em> and </em><a href="" rel="nofollow" target="_blank"><em>like us on Facebook</em></a><em>.</em></p></body></html> Environment Podcasts Climate Change Climate Desk Energy Science Top Stories Infrastructure Inquiring Minds Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:30:05 +0000 Jeremy Schulman 272471 at Jeremy Piven Wants You to Know That He's Not an Asshole <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>Jeremy Piven wants you to know he's boring. Or, rather, he's nothing like Ari Gold, the <a href="" target="_blank">brash, utterly tactless</a>, yet somehow likable Hollywood agent he portrayed over eight seasons of HBO's <em>Entourage</em>&mdash;racking up three Emmys and a Golden Globe for best supporting actor.</p> <p>Piven grew up a long way from Tinseltown. His parents were founding members of Chicago's Playwrights Theatre Club&mdash;which spawned famed improv troupe the Second City&mdash;and the <a href="" target="_blank">Piven Theatre Workshop</a>, whose well-known alumni include <a href="" target="_blank">the</a> <a href="" target="_blank">Cusack</a> <a href="" target="_blank">siblings</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Aidan Quinn</a>, <a href="" target="_blank">Lili Taylor</a>, and Piven himself. After earning a theater degree at Iowa's Drake University, Piven, now 49, landed a series of small comedic parts in film and television, including serial gigs on <em>Ellen</em> and <em>The Larry Sanders Show</em>. But it was <em>Entourage</em>, inspired by the Hollywood escapades of executive producer <a href="" target="_blank">Mark Wahlberg</a>, that made him famous.</p> <p>He reprises the Ari role in the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Entourage</em> movie</a>, which hits theaters on June 5. But his main post-<em>Entourage</em> gig has been the Masterpiece drama <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Mr. Selfridge</em></a>, whose third season kicks off Sunday on PBS. For his leading role as a department store visionary, Piven had to summon his anti-Ari. "Ari Gold was all bark and no bite," he told me. "Harry Selfridge is all bite and no bark."</p> <p><strong>Mother Jones:</strong> Do you think the <em>Entourage</em> movie will appeal to people who've never watched the show?</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/media/2015/03/jeremy-piven-ari-gold-masterpiece-selfridge-season-3-entourage-movie"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Media Interview Film and TV Top Stories Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:20:06 +0000 Michael Mechanic 272326 at When Jeb Met Jeb: The Tragic True Story of a Governor and a Manatee <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p>It was the kind of feel-good photo op that campaigns love: A manatee nursed back to health from the brink of death and now set to be released back into the wild. And a GOP gubernatorial candidate seeking to show voters his softer side. As if in some made-for-TV movie, the manatee and the politician even shared the same name: Jeb.</p> <p>Jeb the manatee was rescued on March 23, 1998, having ventured too far north from the temperate waters of South Florida where these mammals thrive. The nine-foot-long, half-ton manatee was scarred with lesions comparable to severe frostbite injuries in humans, and he appeared to have sustained injuries from watercraft. He was quickly transported to SeaWorld Orlando to recover.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/03/jeb-bush-florida-manatees"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics 2016 Elections Animals Top Stories Fri, 27 Mar 2015 10:00:13 +0000 Sam Brodey 272361 at NYC Building Collapse Was Probably Gas-Related <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><br><em>Update: The&nbsp;</em><a href="" target="_blank">New York Daily News&nbsp;</a><em><a href="" target="_blank">reports</a> that at least two people are missing, as firefighters continue to contain the fire. The&nbsp;injury toll <a href=";action=click&amp;pgtype=Homepage&amp;module=second-column-region&amp;region=top-news&amp;WT.nav=top-news&amp;gwh=8E806050D6F710E6052633308BF142D5&amp;gwt=pay&amp;assetType=nyt_now" target="_blank">has risen</a> to at least 19, with four people in critical condition.&nbsp;</em></p> <p>An apparent gas&nbsp;explosion&nbsp;caused two New York City buildings to collapse on Thursday,&nbsp;injuring at least a dozen people, with at least three in critical condition.&nbsp;</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p><a href="">#BREAKING</a>: Aerial view of building collapse <a href="">@NYPD9Pct</a>. Numerous rescue units on scene <a href="">#SOD</a> <a href="">#ESU</a> <a href="">#K9</a> <a href="">#Aviation</a> <a href="">#FD</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; NYPD Special Ops (@NYPDSpecialops) <a href="">March 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Fire crews first responded to calls of a building collapse at 3:17&nbsp;p.m.&nbsp;on Second Avenue near Seventh Street in Manhattan. Less than an hour later,&nbsp;about 250 firefighters rushed to the scene&nbsp;as the fire&nbsp;upgraded to a seven-alarm blaze. Two other buildings were damaged in the fire, and at least one of them is at risk of collapsing. Thursday's blast comes a year after a gas explosion destroyed two buildings in&nbsp;East Harlem and left&nbsp;eight people&nbsp;dead. National Transportation Safety Board investigators later found a&nbsp;crack in the <a href="" target="_blank">city's aging&nbsp;gas pipeline</a>&nbsp;near one of the buildings.&nbsp;</p> <p>New York City Mayor Bill de&nbsp;Blasio&nbsp;said in a press conference with reporters&nbsp;that preliminary findings suggest the explosion may have been caused by plumbing and gas work.&nbsp;He <a href="" target="_blank">added</a> that Con Edison inspectors arrived at the site more than an hour before the blast to examine private&nbsp;gas work being done at one of the buildings, but found the work had&nbsp;not passed inspection.&nbsp;No gas leaks were reported before the explosion.&nbsp;A Con Edison spokesperson <a href="" target="_blank">told the <em>New York Times</em></a> a few of the buildings on Second Avenue had been "undergoing renovations" since August. The gas and electric utility company planned to&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">shut down gas</a> in the area.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p><a href="">#BREAKING</a>: 2nd Ave - 7th Street - Building collapse <a href="">@NYPD9Pct</a> <a href="">#SOD</a> <a href="">#ESU</a> <a href="">#K9</a> <a href="">#Aviation</a> <a href="">#FD</a> <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; NYPD Special Ops (@NYPDSpecialops) <a href="">March 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"> <p>There was just an explosion on 2nd avenue and 7th street east village <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Jonathan (@jmeyers44) <a href="">March 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en">&nbsp;</blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="" width="630"></iframe></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p>"We are praying that no other individuals are found injured and that there are no fatalities." -<a href="">@BilldeBlasio</a></p> &mdash; Erin Durkin (@erinmdurkin) <a href="">March 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"> <p>12 injured, 3 critical in building explosion in Manhattan, NYC Mayor <a href="">@BilldeBlasio</a> says <a href=""></a></p> &mdash; Dan Linden (@DanLinden) <a href="">March 26, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src="//" charset="utf-8"></script><p>We'll continue to update as we learn more.&nbsp;</p></body></html> Environment Energy Top Stories Infrastructure Thu, 26 Mar 2015 23:16:11 +0000 Edwin Rios 272466 at Yes There's a Bush and a Clinton, but the 2016 Elections Represent Something Scary and New <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" ""> <html><body><p><em>This <a href="" target="_blank">story</a> first appeared on the </em><a href="" target="_blank">TomDispatch</a><em> website.</em></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><span class="inline inline-left"><img alt="" class="image image-preview" height="33" src="" title="" width="100"></span></a></p> <p>Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that, and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.</p> <p>And here's what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it's as if we can't bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so.</p> <p>Let me make my case, however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: political campaigns and elections; the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and the demobilization of "we the people."</p> <p>Whatever this may add up to, it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway, and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.</p> <p><br><strong>1. 1 percent Elections</strong></p> <p>Check out the news about the 2016 presidential election and you'll quickly feel a sense of been-there, done-that. As a start, the two names most associated with it, Bush and Clinton, couldn't be more familiar, highlighting as they do the curiously dynastic quality of recent presidential contests.&nbsp; (If a Bush or Clinton should win in 2016 and again in 2020, a member of one of those families will have controlled the presidency for <a href="">28 of the last 36</a> years.)</p> <p>Take, for instance, "Why 2016 Is Likely to Become a Close Race," a <a href="">recent piece</a> Nate Cohn wrote for my hometown paper.&nbsp; A noted election statistician, Cohn points out that, despite Hillary Clinton's historically staggering lead in Democratic primary polls (and lack of serious challengers), she could lose the general election.&nbsp; He bases this on what we know about her polling popularity from the Monica Lewinsky moment of the 1990s to the present.&nbsp; Cohn assures readers that Hillary will not "be a Democratic Eisenhower, a popular, senior statesperson who cruises to an easy victory."&nbsp; It's the sort of comparison that offers a certain implicit reassurance about the near future.&nbsp; (No, Virginia, we haven't left the world of politics in which former general and president Dwight D. Eisenhower can still be a touchstone.)</p> <p>Cohn may be right when it comes to Hillary's electability, but this is not Dwight D. Eisenhower's or even Al Gore's America. If you want a measure of that, consider this year's primaries. I mean, of course, the 2015 ones. Once upon a time, the campaign season started with candidates flocking to Iowa and New Hampshire early in the election year to establish their bona fides among party voters. These days, however, those are already late primaries.</p> <p>The early primaries, the ones that count, take place among a small group of millionaires and <a href="">billionaires</a>, a new caste flush with cash who will personally, or through complex networks of funders, pour multi-millions of dollars into the campaigns of candidates of their choice.&nbsp; So the early primaries&mdash;this year mainly a Republican affair&mdash;are taking place in resort spots like Las Vegas, Rancho Mirage, California, and Sea Island, Georgia, as has been <a href="">widely reported</a>. These "contests" involve groveling politicians appearing at the beck and call of the rich and powerful, and so reflect our new 1 percent electoral system. (The main pro-Hillary super PAC, for instance, is aiming for a <a href="">kitty of $500 million</a> heading into 2016, while the Koch brothers network has already promised to drop <a href="">almost $1 billion</a> into the coming campaign season, doubling their efforts in the last presidential election year.)</p> <p>Ever since the Supreme Court opened up the ultimate floodgates with its 2010 <em><a href="">Citizens United</a></em> decision, each subsequent election has seen record-breaking amounts of money donated and spent. The 2012 presidential campaign was the first <a href="">$2 billion election</a>; campaign 2016 is <a href="">expected to hit</a> the $5 billion mark without breaking a sweat.&nbsp; By comparison, according to Burton Abrams and Russell Settle in their study, "The Effect of Broadcasting on Political Campaign Spending," Republicans and Democrats spent just under $13 million combined in 1956 when Eisenhower won his second term.</p></body></html> <p style="font-size: 1.083em;"><a href="/politics/2015/03/five-signs-americas-rising-plutocratic-class-bush-clinton%20"><strong><em>Continue Reading &raquo;</em></strong></a></p> Politics Tom Dispatch Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:10:16 +0000 Tom Engelhardt 272401 at