Cmnd+F: 1/11/2017

Everything you need to know about politics, climate change and media… a.m. edition

Yesterday was a YUGE news day. Don’t miss these:

  • Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing (below)
  • Buzzfeed published an unconfirmed report alleging Russian intelligence could have compromising info about Trump (below).
  • The Intercept’s incredible report on Seal Team 6.
  • President Obama’s farewell speech:

[For reactions, skip to the end→]

Trump and Related

The dossier, which is a collection of memos written over a period of months, includes specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians. BuzzFeed News reporters in the US and Europe have been investigating various alleged facts in the dossier but have not verified or falsified them. CNN reported Tuesday that a two-page synopsis of the report was given to President Obama and Trump.

Via the New York Times:

The memos suggest that for many years, the Russian government of Mr. Putin has looked for ways to influence Mr. Trump, who has traveled repeatedly to Moscow to investigate real estate deals or to oversee the Miss Universe competition, which he owned for several years. Mr. Trump never completed any major deals in Russia, though he discussed them for years.

“In short, there is no indication so far that his confirmation is in jeopardy.”

Climate Change

Nature Climate Change (story below)
The temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 2.9°F above the 20th century average for 2016, displacing 2015 and ranking only behind 2012, when searing heat waves hit the middle of the country.
More notable than the back-to-back second place years, Arndt said, was that 2016 was the 20th consecutive warmer-than-normal year for the U.S. and that the five hottest years for the country have all happened since 1998. Those streaks mirror global trends, with 15 of the 16 hottest years on record occurring in the 21st century and no record cold year globally since 1911.

“Any economic strategy that doesn’t take climate change into account will result in fewer jobs and less economic growth in the long term.”

“December produced the least snow in Switzerland since record-keeping began more than 100 years ago.”

“NOAA challenged idea of [the]global warming ‘pause.’ Now new research says the agency was right.”

The ash, buried as much as 6 feet below mean sea level, is “highly vulnerable to coastal hazards, including flooding, storm surge, erosion and sea level rise,” says the report from researchers at Western Carolina University’s Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines. “Further, with the changing climate in the coming decades, these hazards are only expected to worsen” at the Chesapeake Energy Center site.

On (the) Media

I think the one thing we’ve been smacked in the head with in recent years is that people don’t understand that stuff. And the most non-elitist thing we can do is to assume people don’t understand it. To relax a bit in forms of storytelling, to tell people when we witness things and observe things. To be transparent…
Readers pay our bills more than they ever have. We have to listen to them.
I went to a couple of US Uncut protests and then it died out, but a lot of the protesters at US Uncut went over to Occupy Wall Street. So, I was at Zuccotti Park the first day of the Occupy Wall Street protest, which at the time didn’t seem like it was going to amount to anything and then, of course, it blew up. And because The Nation is cool, they were like “Yeah, do that for us!” So that was really my first big journalism break.
It is dangerous to give Donald Trump, a known and habitual liar, the opportunities to attempt to paint lies as truth. In my mind it is not even so much an issue over printing Trump’s response, but that there was not an immediate refutation of his claims by the article’s author in the piece itself. These may seem like small issues, even down to single turns of phrase. But they are also the slipperiest of slopes.
The trajectory that started with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s use of the radio for fireside chats — and continued with the Age of Television — is reaching its natural conclusion with Trump and the real-time social Web…
We are living in a moment in which communications regulation, both official and cultural, is in freefall. Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey set the rules whereby heads of state communicate and the rest of us respond. Other disruptive political movements — the Brexit campaign in the UK; the Five Star Movement in Italy; and, most notoriously, ISIS — have also used the convergence of communications technologies to recruit and activate entirely new power bases.

Other

“The SEALs believe that they can handle the discipline themselves, that’s equal to or greater than what the criminal justice system would give to the person,” said Susan Raser, a retired Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent who led the agency’s criminal division but did not investigate this mission. “They have an internal process that they think is sufficient and they are not inclined to cooperate unless they absolutely have to.” Raser, who conducted investigations into both regular SEAL units and SEAL Team 6, said that in her experience, SEALs simply didn’t report wrongdoing by their teammates.
In 2016, US special operators could be found in 70% of the world’s nations, 138 countries — a staggering jump of 130% since the days of the Bush administration… the Obama administration dropped at least 26,171 bombs. This means that every day last year, the US military blasted combatants or civilians overseas with 72 bombs; that’s three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.
The jury of nine whites and three blacks, who last month found Mr. Roof guilty of 33 counts for the attack at this city’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, returned their unanimous verdict after about three hours of deliberations.
Despite the anger I am still coping with from my mother’s death, I don’t believe in the death penalty, even for the man who killed her. That’s my conviction because of my faith. I’ve said the same thing all along — I don’t believe as human beings that we should take away someone’s life just because we have the power to do so.
This one-sided representation of campus speech doesn’t reflect my 14 years teaching in large public institutions in Michigan, Texas and Wisconsin. In that time, no student has ever demanded that my classes include a trigger warning or asked for a safe space. But my colleagues and I have been given much more reason to worry about the ideological agendas of elected officials and politically appointed governing boards. Students can protest on the campus mall, demanding that policies be changed; elected officials can pass laws or cut resources to reflect their beliefs about how a campus should operate. One group has much more power than the other.

Reactions to President Obama’s farewell speech


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