The U.S. government has given half a billion dollars to the UN's Green Climate Fund, just three days before Donald Trump takes office. Barack Obama's outgoing administration announced the contribution of $500 million on Tuesday, bringing the total funds to date to $1 billion. Obama pledged in 2014 to give $3 billion to help tackle the effects of climate change in the poorest countries. Trump has called global warming a hoax and threatened to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord and America's commitment to the fund.
After a man on a Milwaukee-bound flight shook his head at him because he was wearing Dallas Cowboys gear on the day of the playoff game with Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke had sheriff's deputies detain and question the man for 15 minutes after the plane landed. Dan Black, 24, filed a complaint over the incident. In a response to the complaint on Facebook, Clarke wrote, "Next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out." Black said he's "unhinged." "Who in their right mind responds, 'I'm going to kick that guy's ass next time?'"
President-elect Donald Trump's pick for education secretary thinks some K-12 schools may decide they need a gun on campus -- to protect themselves from bear attacks, for example. At her Senate confirmation hearing, education activist and major Republican donor Betsy DeVos mentioned a meeting she had with Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming. He told her about a rural public school in Wapiti, Wyoming, that has a fence surrounding the schoolyard to keep grizzly bears out. Later in the hearing, DeVos suggested a fence might not be enough. read more
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) says Republicans have approached him looking for help to replace the Affordable Care Act because he says "they are in a panic." "I think they want a lifeline because they don't have a plan," Schatz told TPM. Schatz told TPM that Republicans' overtures to talk health care are little more than vague hints that the Democratic senator should sit down with them. "It's 'hey, let's talk. Why don't we form a little grouping,' but nobody's buying it because they have no plan," Schatz said. Republicans took the first steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act last week using a process known as reconciliation, which only requires a simple majority vote to pass in the Senate. But Republicans know that they will need Democratic support to replace Obamacare. read more
A newly discovered species of moth has been named after Donald Trump. Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, the discovery of evolutionary biologist Vazrick Nazari, has a strange blond tuft on its head and small genitals. President George W. Bush has a slime beetle named for him. Ronald Reagan has a wasp, Bill Clinton a fish, and Barack Obama has nine species: a lichen, coral fish, snail-eating fish, darter fish, bird, trapdoor spider, extinct lizard and two parasites. Nazari said he named the moth because of its uncanny resemblance to Trump's hair.
Sherri Underwood: I remember the precise moment that I realized I regretted voting for Donald Trump. It was during his 60 Minutes interview after the election. ... [S]itting on my couch, sipping coffee as I watched the interview, I saw with my own eyes who Trump really was as a person. He backtracked on one of his signature campaign promises: pursuing an investigation into the [Hillary] Clinton email scandal. It's not that I want Clinton to be crucified or "locked up" -- it's the nonchalance with which he went back on his word after hammering it repeatedly during the campaign. The ease and quickness with which he reversed his position shook me to my core. I realized in that moment that I had voted for a demagogue. And it was sickening. read more
Separate studies released by NASA and NOAA report that 2016 marked a new global high as the warmest year on record. That makes three straight years in which new highs have been recorded. 2016 also included record global high temperatures during eight out of the 12 months of the year. Sixteen out of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred since 2000. The one exception in that list is 1998. "(T)he spate of record-warm years that we have seen in the 21st century can only be explained by human-caused climate change," said Michael Mann, director of the Earth Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. "The effect of human activity on our climate is no longer subtle. It's plain as day, as are the impacts -- in the form of record floods, droughts, superstorms and wildfires -- that it is having on us and our planet."
On Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted a photo of himself supposedly writing his inauguration speech. It didn't take long for Twitter to start tearing it apart: "That is a blank piece of paper and you're holding a closed Sharpie." "Will it start with "Four Russian Whores And Seven Hacks Ago" ... " "Who is translating it from the original Russian for you?" "That's not how people write, Donald. You need to put the paper flat on the desk, and open the notepad." read more
The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump, two people familiar with the matter said. The agencies involved in the inquiry are the FBI, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the Justice Department, the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and representatives of the director of national intelligence, the sources said. Investigators are examining how money may have moved from the Kremlin to covertly help Trump win, the two sources said. One of the allegations involves whether a system for routinely paying thousands of Russian-American pensioners may have been used to pay some email hackers in the United States or to supply money to intermediaries who would then pay the hackers, the two sources said. read more
Michael Isikoff, Yahoo News: President-elect Donald Trump told a radio interviewer in October 2015 that he had met Vladimir Putin "one time ... a long time ago" and that he "got along with him great" -- a statement that conflicts with his later denials during the campaign that he had ever met or spoken with the Russian president. The newly surfaced audiotape, uncovered by a political opposition-research group, could fuel new questions about the precise nature of Trump's past relations with the Russian president -- a subject about which he has made multiple contradictory comments. It was released just hours after Putin, speaking from Moscow, denounced officials in the Obama administration as "worse than prostitutes" for circulating "nonsense" personal allegations about Trump that were allegedly collected by Russian intelligence. read more
Both President George H.W. Bush and former first lady Barbara Bush are now in a Houston hospital and will not attend Friday's inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. The 92-year-old former president on Wednesday was moved to intensive care at Houston Methodist Hospital after being admitted on Saturday, his office said. "Shortly after our previous report on President Bush's condition, he was admitted to the ICU at Houston Methodist Hospital to address an acute respiratory problem stemming from pneumonia," the statement read. "Doctors performed a procedure to protect and clear his airway that required sedation. President Bush is stable and resting comfortably in the ICU, where he will remain for observation." Barbara Bush, 91, was admitted Wednesday morning as a precaution after experiencing fatigue and coughing, officials said. read more
Companies eager to avoid becoming the target of the next attack by President-elect Donald Trump are preemptively -- or retroactively -- announcing U.S. job creation plans. ... After campaigning on pledges to make U.S. companies bring jobs back, Trump has announced he's been successful at doing so before he's even president. So on Tuesday as business returned following the Martin Luther King federal holiday, a bevy of companies announced they would be adding jobs after the inauguration on Friday. ... A company's plan to increase capital expenditures, which include jobs and facility improvements, are typically years in the making. Some of these "announcements" are old news in a new hat. GM said its plan was approved before the election, but told Bloomberg it was "accelerated" under pressure from Trump, for example.
On January 20, inauguration day in the United States, a nameless, unknown military aide will be seen accompanying President Barack Obama to the handover ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. That military aide will be carrying a satchel over his or her shoulder containing a briefcase known as "the nuclear football." ... This contains the launch codes for a strategic nuclear strike. The briefing for the incoming president on how to activate them will have already taken place out of public sight, but the moment President-elect Donald Trump takes the oath of office that aide, and the satchel, will move quietly over to his side. Donald Trump will then have sole authority to order an action that could result in the deaths of millions of people in under an hour. The question on a lot of people's minds right now is, given his thin skin and impulsive temperament, what are the safeguards, if any, to prevent an impetuous decision by one man with catastrophic consequences? read more
The Republican chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee has announced that it will investigate President-elect Donald Trump's ties to Russia. Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, respectively, jointly announced a comprehensive investigation of Trump's alleged connections to Vladimir Putin and the Russian government. The investigation comes on the heels of Burr saying that he wouldn't be investigating the President-elect, a decision he reversed following public pressure. read more