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Morning Reads: A Rapidly Thawing Arctic Could Speed Up Climate Change

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

Morning Reads: A Thawing Arctic Could Speed Up Climate Change

Scientist from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and University of Washington walk across the the Glacial Ice Sheet in Greenland on July 15, 2013. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Feedback loop –> “Amid blowout warm temperatures in the Arctic this year, two new studies have amplified concerns about one of the wild cards of a warming planet — how quickly warming Arctic soils could become major contributors of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, causing still greater warming,” Chris Mooney writes for The Washington Post. As ice melts, plant matter long trapped within the ice deteriorates, releasing potent greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

AND: Eric Holthaus at FiveThirtyEight reports that new, record-breaking temperatures indicate we’re very likely headed for a world that is more than 2 degrees Celsius warmer than pre-industrial times — a critical threshold scientists have urged policymakers to avoid: “No matter how quickly global temperatures rise over the coming years, the February record has added fresh relevance to the Paris climate deal. We’re very likely locked in to a 2 degree warmer world — even though last month was only a preview.”

“The implications for environmental injustice” –> The task force appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to investigate the Flint water disaster has released its report. It concludes, in part, that the crisis “occurred when state-appointed emergency managers replaced local representative decision-making in Flint, removing the checks and balances and public accountability that come with public decision-making. Emergency managers made key decisions that contributed to the crisis, from the use of the Flint River to delays in reconnecting to DWSD [Detroit Water and Sewerage Department] once water quality problems were encountered. Given the demographics of Flint, the implications for environmental injustice cannot be ignored or dismissed.”

How to suppress the vote –> Many voters waited for up to five hours to cast a ballot in Arizona on Tuesday after Phoenix’s Maricopa County dramatically reduced the number of polling places. Others gave up and went home. In a piece for The Nation cross-posted at our site, Ari Berman writes that this is the inevitable result of the 2013 Supreme Court decision that crippled the Voting Rights Act, allowing historically racist parts of the country to write new voting laws without federal clearance.

AND: Caitlin McGlade and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez report for the Arizona Star that Maricopa County Recorder Helen Purcell, a Republican, accepted blame for the lines but waved off demands that she resign. Phoenix’s Democratic Mayor Greg Stanton requested a Justice Department investigation and the state’s Republican Governor Doug Ducey called the long lines “unacceptable.” Bernie Sanders said, “What happened yesterday in Arizona is a disgrace.”

Lashing out –> ISIS may be losing ground in Syria and Iraq, but the group “has trained at least 400 fighters to target Europe in deadly waves of attacks, deploying interlocking terror cells like the ones that struck Brussels and Paris with orders to choose the time, place and method for maximum chaos, officials have told The Associated Press.”

More money, fewer problems –> Political analyst Lee Drutman suggests at Roll Call that we pay congressional staffers more — salaries have been declining in recent years — so they ‘ll stay in their jobs longer: “A Congress that doesn’t invest in its own staff capacity is a Congress that increasingly relies on outside lobbyists to function… Young staff are expected to be experts on dozens of issues. But they can’t be. So they turn to the lobbyists who [are] eager to help them explain the issues, and maybe even write them a few bills and letters and speeches. Smart staffers will say that they try to hear from all sides on issues. But the reality is that often, one side is far more thorough in its lobbying efforts than the other.”

The first of many? –> This week, for the first time since Antonin Scalia’s death last month, the Supreme Court deadlocked on a case, “splitting 4-4 in a dispute over an obscure federal rule applying gender-discrimination protections to spouses of applicants for bank loans,” Josh Gerstein writes for Politico. This means the lower circuit court’s decision will apply, a win for the community bank in the dispute — but only to states within that circuit court’s jurisdiction.

Insider knowledge –> Zachary Roth for MSNBC: “Donald Trump has made his opposition to the flood of big money in politics a centerpiece of his front-running campaign, frequently lamenting the role of super PACs and the outsized sway of wealthy donors like the Koch brothers. But Trump’s top campaign lawyer, veteran Republican election attorney Donald McGahn, was a crucial player in creating the out-of-control campaign finance system that his boss now denounces.”

The GOP establishment’s dog whistle? –> At Vox, Dylan Matthews argues that Jeb Bush’s decision to endorse Cruz is a condemnation of the Trump campaign’s style, not its substance: “The fact that Bush is endorsing Cruz suggests his opposition to Trump isn’t about anti-racism at all. Indeed, Cruz is also vocal about his anti-Muslim views. By endorsing Cruz as an acceptable candidate, Bush is revealing a lot about what establishment Republicans do and don’t find objectionable about Trump, and confirming that #NeverTrump has very little to do with opposing Trump’s underlying racist ideas.”

Where does the money go? –> Libby Watson at the Sunlight Foundation: “Sixteen candidates have already come and gone in the 2016 election, raising (and spending) millions of dollars along the way. But campaigns tend to come to an abrupt end — usually with some cash left over. In total, $13,921,325 remains in the campaign coffers of candidates who have dropped out, and $25,158,594 in their supportive super PACs.”

“A trend story about millennials, by The New York Times” –> Some very good satire by Fusion’s Jason O. Gilbert.

Morning Reads was written by John Light and edited by Michael Winship. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!

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