What We're Reading

Morning Reads: Hot, Hotter, Hottest! 2015 Breaks Record, 2016 Likely to Be Worse.

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

Morning Reads: Hot, Hotter, Hottest! 2015 Breaks Record, 2016 Likely to Be Worse.

Jean-Baptiste Redde holds a banner reading "State of climate emergency" next to demonstrators dressed-up as polar bears during a rally near the Eiffel Tower in Paris on December 12, 2015 on the sidelines of the COP21, the UN conference on global warming. (FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

Hottest year –> 2015 obliterated 2014’s record for hottest year. “To say that 2015 was hot is an understatement. The average recorded temperature across the surface of the planet was so far above normal that it set a record for setting records,” write Tom Randall and Blacki Migliozzi for Bloomberg. According to Andrew Freedman at Mashable, the same forces that made 2015 so hot, including a climate change-exacerbated El Niño, means records will continue to be broken in 2016.

He’s thinking about it –> Good government groups have been pushing the Obama administration to take a series of executive actions to limit the influence of special-interest money in politics — similar to orders the president has given on climate change, guns and immigration. On the top of their wish list is an order requiring government contractors to disclose their political spending. The president is mulling that one over, Julia Hirschfield Davis reports for The New York Times, and has been “seriously considering” taking the step for more than a year.

What did they know? –> Ivan Penn at the Los Angeles Times: “California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris is investigating whether Exxon Mobil Corp. repeatedly lied to the public and its shareholders about the risk to its business from climate change — and whether such actions could amount to securities fraud and violations of environmental laws. Harris’ office is reviewing what Exxon Mobil knew about global warming and what the company told investors, a person close to the investigation said.” New York State is pursuing a similar investigation.

None of the above –> A new Pew poll finds a bummed-out electorate: “A year before the next president takes office, voters are skeptical that any of the leading 2016 candidates would make a good president. Moreover, of nine candidates included in the survey, far more voters say each would make a ‘terrible’ than ‘great’ president.”

“Dismissive” –> Julie Bosman, Monica Davey and Mitch Smith for the The New York Times: “A top aide to Michigan’s governor referred to people raising questions about the quality of Flint’s water as an ‘anti-everything group.’ Other critics were accused of turning complaints about water into a ‘political football.’ And worrisome findings about lead by a concerned pediatrician were dismissed as ‘data,’ in quotes. That view of how the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder initially dealt with the water crisis in the poverty-stricken, black-majority city of Flint emerged from 274 pages of emails, made public by the governor on Wednesday.”

Putin knew? –> Britain’s home secretary announced today that the 2006 murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, killed in London by a radioactive isotope placed in his cup of tea, “was a ‘blatant and unacceptable’ breach of international law, even though the probable involvement of the Putin government came as no surprise.” More from Patrick Wintour at The Guardian.

How-to guide –> ProPublica investigative reporter Julia Angwin details some recent steps she took to protect her privacy from the government, spies and hackers. You may want to follow them as well.

Those damned emails –> There’s been renewed partisan hubbub over the latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails. Fox News claimed that the former secretary of state sent top-secret information from her private account, but those claims appear to be misleading. They boil down to Clinton sending information about the Obama administration’s drone wars, which are technically secret but in reality not secret at all. Ken Dilanian reports for NBC.

On the fence –> Tom Steyer, the hedge fund billionaire who in 2012 spent millions pushing candidates to speak out on climate change, says he isn’t yet sold on Hillary Clinton, but would consider backing Bernie Sanders. Richard Valdmanis reports for Reuters.

There’s something to it –> Jon Schwarz writes for The Intercept that Sarah Palin’s speech endorsing Trump, while jumbled and classically Palinesque, illustrated genuine outrage among Republican voters over the influence of special-interest money on GOP establishment candidates.

Ignored –> A team put together by the Obama administration with the goal of moving the government away from torture has been blocked, reports Ali Watkins for BuzzFeed: “Launched in 2009, the [High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group] has spent the last six years and millions of federal dollars compiling research into the best interrogation methods. But despite that work, the group, several sources told BuzzFeed, has been largely strong-armed out of the interrogation policy discussions — first by Republican lawmakers, and now, sources say, by the military.”

It ain’t necessarily so –> At Mother Jones, Tim Murphy takes issue with one exhausted horse-race-coverage trope — that a candidate’s spouse is the campaign’s “secret weapon.”

Replacement for Pluto? –> Researchers may have found a (different) ninth planet in our solar system. And its mass is ten times greater than the Earth’s.

Morning Reads is compiled by John Light and edited by Michael Winship.

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