1/ The White House fired a national security official who testified against Trump during the impeachment inquiry. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who reported his concerns over Trump’s July 25 telephone call with Ukraine’s leader to NSC officials, was “escorted out of the White House,” his lawyer said. Earlier in the day when asked whether he wanted Vindman to leave, Trump said: “Well, I’m not happy with him.” Trump also suggested that his impeachment should be “expunged […] because it was a hoax.” And, when asked if his Democratic political opponents “should be held accountable,” Trump replied: “You’ll see.” (Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Politico / CNN)
Sen. Susan Collins said that she disapproves of retribution against anyone who came forward with evidence during the impeachment process. Collins also defended her vote to acquit Trump while acknowledging his conduct was wrong. (Portland Press Herald)
White House aides believe acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney’s job is in doubt. Trump reportedly lost confidence in Mulvaney months ago, but aides argued that a leadership change during impeachment would cause unnecessary chaos. Trump, instead, has frequently ignores Mulvaney’s input and has occasionally opted to do the opposite of whatever he’s suggested. (CNN)
2/ The Trump administration is delaying $30 million in arms transfers to Ukraine. At least six commercial sales of guns and ammunition have faced delays of at least a year and continue to remain frozen. Ukrainian officials said they haven’t been able to get answers from the Trump administration about why the deals haven’t been approved. (BuzzFeed News / The Hill)
3/ A federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit against Trump for violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution by refusing to allow lawmakers to review and approve his financial interests. The ruling by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found the members of Congress lacked legal standing to bring suit against Trump for violating the clause, The court did not address the legality of Trump’s business dealings. (NBC News / Politico / CNN)
4/ The Trump Organization charged Trump’s Secret Service rates as high as $650 a night and $17,000 a month for a cottage at his properties to protect him. The disclosures contradict Eric Trump’s own statements that “If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free.” At Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, the Secret Service was charged the $650 rate dozens of times in 2017, and a different rate – $396.15 – dozens more times in 2018. At the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, the Secret Service was charged $17,000 a month to use a cottage in 2017. The Trump Organization also billed the government for days when Trump wasn’t there. The full extent of the Secret Service’s payments to Trump’s company is not known. (Washington Post)
5/ The Trump administration purchased access to location data on millions of cellphones in America for use on immigration and border enforcement. Customs and Border Protection uses the information to look for cellphone activity in unusual places, such as stretches of desert near the Mexican border. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has also used the data to identify immigrants who were later arrested. (Wall Street Journal)
6/ The White House announced that the U.S. killed an al-Qaeda leader in Yemen. The U.S. conducted an airstrike last week that killed Qassim al-Rimi, who has been a target of the U.S. since Trump took office. The U.S. previously offered a $10 million reward for information about Rimi. (CNN)
Dept. of We’re all F*cked.
Antarctica hit 65 degrees – its warmest temperature ever recorded. In the past 50 years, temperatures in the Antarctic Peninsula have surged 5 degrees and about 87% of the glaciers along the peninsula’s west coast have retreated. (Washington Post / NBC News)
January 2020 was the warmest ever on record in Europe. January was 5.6 degrees above the 1981 to 2010 baseline of “average” January temperatures across the continent, with much of northeastern Europe surpassing the average by nearly 11 degrees. Europe also had its warmest year on record in 2019. (Washington Post / Time)
Bumblebee populations declined by 46% in North America and by 17% across Europe when compared to a base period of 1901 to 1974. The biggest declines were in areas where temperatures spiked beyond the historical range. (New York Times / Science Magazine)
📌 Day 979: A United Nations report warned that ocean warming is accelerating and sea levels are rising “more than twice as fast” than in the 20th century – and faster than previously estimated. While sea levels rose by about a half-inch in total during the 20th century, they are now rising about 0.14 inches per year, driven by the rapid melting of ice in Greenland, Antarctica, and the world’s smaller glaciers. The report predicts that sea levels will “continue to rise” – possibly reaching around 1-2 feet by 2100 – even if countries curb emissions and limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, which was the Paris Agreement’s goal. Temperatures are already 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels However, “if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase strongly,” then the world could see 3.6 feet in total sea level rise by 2100. The report concludes that the world’s oceans and ice sheets are under such severe stress that hotter ocean temperatures, combined with rising sea levels, threaten to create more destructive tropical cyclones and floods. (NPR / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)
📌 Day 931: Climate change is putting pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself, according to a new United Nations report that was prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and, unanimously approved. The report warns that the world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates” and “the cycle is accelerating.” Climate change has already degraded lands, caused deserts to expand, permafrost to thaw, and made forests more vulnerable to drought, fire, pests and disease. “The stability of food supply is projected to decrease as the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events that disrupt food chains increases,” the report said. The report offered several proposals for addressing food supplies, including reducing red meat consumption, adopting plant-based diets, and eating more fruits, vegetables and seeds. As a result, the world could reduce carbon pollution up to 15% of current emissions levels by 2050. It would also make people healthier. (New York Times / Associated Press / Nature)
📌 Day 627: A U.N. report on the effects of climate change predicts a strong risk of an environmental crisis much sooner than expected. The report finds that the atmosphere could warm by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels by 2040 if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, which would cause sea levels to rise, intensify droughts, wildfires, and poverty, and cause a mass die-off of coral reefs. To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, and fully eliminated by 2050. The use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40% today to between 1% and 7% by 2050. Renewable energy would have to increase to about 67%. Trump has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, vowing to increase the burning of coal, and he intends to withdraw from the 2015 Paris agreement. The world is already more than halfway to the 2.7-degree mark and “there is no documented historic precedent” for the scale of changes required, the report said. (New York Times / Washington Post)
📌 Day 676: The National Climate Assessment concludes that global warming is already “transforming where and how we live and presents growing challenges to human health and quality of life, the economy, and the natural systems that support us.” The findings from the landmark scientific report, issued by 13 federal agencies, are at odds with the Trump administration’s environmental deregulation agenda, which Trump claims will lead to economic growth, and its plans to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. The report predicts that the effects of global warming could eliminate as much as 10% of the U.S. economy by the end of the century, and warns that humans must act aggressively now “to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.” The first report, released in November 2017, concluded that there is “no convincing alternative explanation” for the changing climate other than “human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases.” Trump recently questioned the science of climate change, saying that “I don’t know that it’s man-made” and that the warming trend “could very well go back.” (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)
📌 Day 685: Global emissions of carbon dioxide have reached the highest levels on record. Global emissions grew 1.6% in 2017 with 2018 expected to increase 2.7%. The U.S. is the world’s second-largest emitter of carbon emissions, but that hasn’t stopped the Trump administration from moving to roll back regulations designed to limit those emissions from vehicle tailpipes and power-plant smokestacks. As United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said this week at the opening of the 24th annual U.N. climate conference: “We are in trouble. We are in deep trouble with climate change.” (Washington Post / New York Times)
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