Good morning. On this day in 1991, the presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus signed the Belavezha Accords, an agreement dissolving the Soviet Union. On Dec. 21, leaders from all the other Soviet states, with the exception of Georgia, joined the accords, effectively ending the Cold War.
How they get what they want –> Gretchen Morgenson writes for The New York Times, “the nation’s largest banks are closing in on a long-sought goal: to unseat Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance giants, and capture their share of the profits in the country’s $5.7 trillion home loan market.” That move “has been propelled in part by a revolving door between Washington and Wall Street… a group of high-level housing finance specialists who have moved back and forth between public service and private practice in recent years.”
It continues –> Tierney Sneed at Talking Points Memo: “GOP frontrunner Donald Trump released a statement Monday calling for ‘a total and complete shutdown’ of Muslims immigrating into the United States in light of recent terrorist attacks.” The proposed ban would also block from returning home Muslims living in America who are currently traveling abroad.
Ballot box pushback –> “As Donald Trump continues to target Muslims in his speeches and comments, Muslim-oriented political groups are gearing up to make sure their response is heard loud and clear in the 2016 election cycle — one in which they say Muslims have faced unprecedented attacks from politicians,” writes Tarini Parti at Buzzfeed. “That lack of a strong response has angered Muslim-Americans, along with other well-funded minority groups, and encouraged them to use the 2016 election to show the strength of their voting bloc.”
Who’s really in control –> At The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza has a look at the House Freedom Caucus, the right-wing tail wagging the congressional Republican dog, that in recent years has become an increasingly divisive force many credit with House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to step down. AND: At The Washington Post’s Plum Line blog, Greg Sargent says there’s one anecdote in Lizza’s piece “that reveals the underlying dynamic rendering the GOP intransigent with an uncommon level of clarity.” Meet Idaho congressman Raul Labrador.
Worth the price? –> “Even as they bash Big Oil and push for a strong global climate deal in Paris, Democrats are strongly considering joining forces with congressional Republicans to give the petroleum industry the biggest item on its wish list: an end to the US oil exports ban that has been in effect since the era of disco and bell-bottoms,” reports Elana Schor for Politico. Democrats would trade lifting the ban for other things they want, including “extending renewable energy benefits, more conservation funding and a bigger child-care tax credit.”
Have global emissions peaked? –> Justin Gillis and Chris Buckley at The New York Times: “Industrial emissions of greenhouse gases rose only slightly in 2014 and appear to be on track to decline in 2015, according to new data that raise the possibility that a period of rapid global emissions growth may be coming to an end.” This sort of fall in emissions is particularly unusual when the economy is growing, as it has in 2015.
Good news from Paris –> “The world’s biggest climate polluters rallied around a stronger target for limiting warming on Monday, saying they were open to the 1.5 C goal endorsed by the most vulnerable countries,” report Suzanne Goldenberg and John Vidal for The Guardian. “In the final push to a climate agreement, the US, Canada, China and the European Union declared they were now on board with demands from African countries to adopt an even more ambitious goal to limit warming.”
AND: ClimateWire’s Lisa Friedman has an interesting profile of Todd Stern, Obama’s controversial top climate negotiator, whose job is to bring home from Paris a deal that is strong enough to lower emissions but that doesn’t need congressional approval; any agreement legally required to go through the Senate would face certain death at the hands of Republicans.
Jane Goodall’s no fan of climate deniers –> In Paris, the world-renowned conservationist “called for Republicans in Congress to back down from opposing an international agreement on climate change,” reports Tim McDonnell for Mother Jones. “…To Goodall, who spent more than 50 years studying chimps in Tanzania, these lawmakers are letting short-term politics obscure the bigger picture. They need to ‘just sit down and forget about politics,’ she said. ‘Think about your children and revisit your belief.'”
Among the dead –> At Foreign Policy, Andrew Quilty has an in-depth look at a man named Baynazar Mohammad Nazar, the father of four whose body Quilty found in the bombed-out Afghanistan Médecins Sans Frontiers hospital. He was one of more than 30 who died in October’s American air attack. The US military called the strike a “tragic but avoidable accident.”
Supremes cast a vote for gun laws –> “The Supreme Court gave an apparent green light Monday to lawmakers who want to restrict the sale of guns such as the rapid-fire weapons that have been used in the recent wave of mass shootings from Paris to San Bernardino,” writes David G. Savage for the Los Angeles Times. The justices voted 7-2 not to review a challenge to an Illinois town’s law that bans especially deadly types of semiautomatic weapons.
Domain wars –> JebBush.com now redirects to DonaldTrump.com. Colin Lecher writes for The Verge.
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This morning’s reads were compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship.