👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ Scientists fear the Trump administration could suppress a report that concludes climate change is real and Americans are already feeling its effects. The findings contradict Trump and members of his cabinet who claim that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain. The report finds it “extremely likely” that more than half of the global mean temperature increase since 1951 can be linked to humans. (New York Times)
The EPA is one of 13 agencies that must approve the report by August 18th, which is headed by Scott Pruitt, who has said he does not believe that carbon dioxide is a primary contributor to global warming.
If humans immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases, the world would still feel at least an additional 0.50 degrees Fahrenheit of warming over this century compared with today.
2/ The USDA is censoring the use of “climate change” and advising staff to use the phrase “weather extremes” instead. A series of emails from February between staff at a USDA unit that oversees farmers’ land conservation shows the incoming Trump administration’s impact on language by federal employees around climate change. Instead of “climate change adaption,” staff were told to use “resilience to weather extremes.” Instead of “reduce greenhouse gases,” use “build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency.” (The Guardian)
- How Americans think about climate change in six maps. Americans overwhelmingly believe that global warming is happening, and that carbon emissions should be scaled back. But fewer are sure that the changes will harm them personally. (New York Times)
3/ North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles. Pyongyang has outpaced expectations in its effort to build an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking cities on the American mainland. (Washington Post)
4/ Trump threatened to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea if it continues to provoke the US. Trump’s comments came hours after North Korea criticized the US and its allies for the latest round of UN sanctions, warning that it will mobilize all its resources to take “physical action” in retaliation. “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump told reporters from his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. “They will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.” (New York Times)
5/ North Korea said it is “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam with missiles, hours after Trump told the North that any threat to the US would be met with “fire and fury.” North Korea also said it could carry out a pre-emptive operation if the US showed signs of provocation. (Reuters)
6/ US spy satellites detect North Korea loading two anti-ship cruise missiles onto a patrol boat. It’s the first time these missiles have been deployed on this type of platform since 2014. (Fox News)
7/ Trump retweeted a Fox News story containing classified information a few hours before US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley appeared on Fox. Haley indicated that the report of North Korea loading anti-ship cruise missiles onto a patrol boat were classified and leaked. “I can’t talk about anything that’s classified and if that’s in the newspaper that’s a shame,” Haley said. (CNN)
8/ Trump has sent private messages of “appreciation and greetings” to special counsel Robert Mueller. “The president has sent messages back and forth,’’ Trump’s chief counsel John Dowd said, declining to elaborate further. Trump has publicly called the investigation into Russia’s election meddling a “witch hunt” and a hoax. (USA Today)
9/ Trump is considering a plan to privatize the war in Afghanistan. The unprecedented proposal would rely on 5,500 private contractors to advise Afghan combat forces as well as a 90-plane private air force that would provide air support. The plan will cost less than $10 billion a year, lower than the more than $40 billion the Pentagon has budgeted this year. The US military has 8,400 troops in Afghanistan to train and guide local forces. They do not have a direct combat role. (USA Today)
10/ Trump’s Justice Department now supports Ohio’s purging of inactive voters, reversing the Obama administration’s position. Civil rights groups challenged Ohio’s process of removing thousands of inactive voters from the voting rolls, arguing the purge is prohibited under the National Voter Registration Act. Under Obama, the Justice Department filed an amicus brief siding with the groups. The Supreme Court is set to hear the case in the next term. (Washington Post)
11/ Mitch McConnell criticized Trump’s “excessive expectations” about how Congress works, saying that he’s set “too many artificial deadlines.” (CNN)
12/ Twice a day Trump gets a folder full of positive news about himself. Instead of top-secret intelligence or updates on legislative initiatives, he receives folders filled with screenshots of positive cable news chyrons, tweets, and news stories. The document is prepared around 9:30 AM and the follow-up around 4:30 PM. Some in the White House refer to the packet as “the propaganda document.” (Vice News)
poll/ 35% are confident in Trump’s ability to handle North Korea and its nuclear weapons. 61% are uneasy in his approach. (CBS News)
poll/ 36% of Americans consider Trump’s first 200 days a success while 59% consider it a failure. 47% say they strongly disapprove of Trump’s handling of the job and 43% say he can “bring the kind of change the country needs,” down from 48% in April. 60% don’t consider Trump honest and trustworthy. 52% say his tweets are not an effective way for him to share his views and 70% say they too often seem to be in response to TV news he may have seen. (CNN)
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