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Daily Reads: Brexit Begins; US Cedes Leadership on Climate Change

A roundup of stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Daily Reads: Brexit Begins; US Cedes Leadership on Climate Change

European Council President Donald Tusk shows British Prime Minister Theresa May's letter as he holds a press conference after his meeting with Britain's ambassador to the EU in Brussels on March 29, 2017. (Photo by Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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It begins –> The UK is beginning the process of leaving the EU today. In a letter, British Prime Minister Theresa May notified the EU Council that, after more than 40 years, her country is leaving the union. The details of the Brexit will still take years to be hammered out, and what Brexit will mean for the future of both economies is still very much up in the air.

At The Guardian, Anne Perkins wonders why former Prime Minister David Cameron ever thought a referendum on Brexit was a good idea in the first place: “To govern is to choose, they say, and politicians often make bad choices at big moments. They sweat over the right course to take. They face the risk and take the chance. The real indictment of Cameron is that he didn’t acknowledge that he was taking a risk. It is not that he failed to understand the consequences of failure, it’s just that failure wasn’t something that happened to him. So in the greatest act of hubris since Oedipus tried to defy the prophecy of the gods, he went ahead.”

China, the climate change leader? –> Christina Nunez report for National Geographic that, as a result of Trump’s rollback of Obama’s climate change programs yesterday, the US has ceded leadership on global warming to China. Since Trump’s election, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been promoting himself and his country as the answer to Trumpism. “The Paris Agreement is a hard-won achievement,” he told the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January. “All signatories should stick to it instead of walking away from it, as this is a responsibility we must assume for future generations.”

Gloomy mood –> Executive orders are usually signed at the White House, but Trump decided to sign yesterday’s order, overturning Obama’s Clean Power Plan and other climate change-related regulations, at the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA employees weren’t thrilled, Kevin Bogardus reports for Energy & Environment Daily. “Gallows humor has become prevalent at the agency,” Bogardus writes.

Meanwhile, at Pacific Standard, Francie Diep speaks with a former government official about what it’s like to have your agency eliminated entirely. Trump plans to eliminate funding for 19 government agencies.

Missing in action –> At the same time that Africa is facing what the UN calls the “worst humanitarian crisis since 1945” — a food crisis brought on by a drought and exacerbated by conflict and climate change — Trump is considering slashing foreign aid and money to the UN that helps the world food program, Bethan McKernan reports for the UK Independent.

A loss for privacy –> The House voted 215 to 205 to overturn regulations barring internet service providers from selling their customers information, Lauren McCauley reports for Common Dreams. In a Twitter thread, New America fellow Matt Stoller writes: “This is about market power and the ability to manipulate you with algorithms, not just about keeping secrets. Do you want your insurance company to adjust your rates based on your web browsing activity? Do you want to be shown ads that offer lower salaries based on your age, gender, neighborhood, etc? Do you want prospective employers to use as a criteria who you are thinking of dating? That’s what this is about.”

At NPR, reporter Alina Selyukh and Future of Privacy Forum head Jules Polonetsky discuss what this means for consumers.

A win for justice –> In a 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court rejected Texas’s standard for determining which intellectually disabled people were ineligible for the death penalty. “Texas cannot satisfactorily explain why it applies current medical standards for diagnosing intellectual disability in other contexts, yet clings to superseded standards when an individual’s life is at stake,” Justice Ginsburg wrote in the majority opinion.

At ScotusBlog, Amy Howe writes that the decision will give Bobby James Moore a chance for a new, non-death penalty sentence. Moore, who shot a supermarket clerk in 1980, failed first grade twice and cannot tell time; he blames additional intellectual disability on being hit in the head with a chain and a brick during a school integration fight during his childhood.

“A big, beautiful wall,” literally –> Firms are submitting proposals to build Trump’s border wall, and one of the factors on which they will be judged is how aesthetically pleasing the wall is on the US side. The Guardian’s Julia Carrie Wong reports that finalists will gather in San Diego, California, where they will construct a prototype that will be subjected to a battering ram and evaluated for beauty. “It is the first step in a process that promises to combine three of Trump’s most successful ventures: beauty pageants, reality TV competitions and xenophobia.”

Derailed –> At The New Yorker, Ryan Lizza gives a play-by-play of how congressional Republicans blew up the Russia investigation. Meanwhile, Tim Mak reports for The Daily Beast, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes could be facing an investigation from the House ethics committee for, among other things, briefing the president on new information pertaining to an investigation of the president before briefing his own committee.

Digging deeper –> At USA Today, Oren Dorell has a list of connections, some previously unknown, between Trump and Russian oligarchs with whom he did business. “Dealings with Russian oligarchs concern law enforcement because many of those superwealthy people are generally suspected of corrupt practices as a result of interconnected relationships among Russia’s business elite, government security services and criminal gangs, according to former US prosecutor Ken McCallion, as well as Steven Hall, a former CIA chief of Russian operations.”

Make your voice heard in the middle of the night –> The best way to get through to your member of Congress is to leave a message. “But congressional phone lines are often busy. Voicemail is often full. You might spend ages on hold, or keep calling back until overwhelmed congressional staffers clear clogged inboxes,” writes Klint Findley for Wired. “A new app called Stance helps overcome these democracy-hindering headaches. It lets you record messages for your elected representatives, then delivers them at night when phone lines aren’t so busy.”

Economist Simon Johnson wrote about another way to increase your impact — the social networking site FiftyNifty.org — at our website.

Daily Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Kristin Miller.



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