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Inside the Beltway: The Doomsday Clock hovers at midnight

Let the handwringing begin. The iconic Doomsday Clock currently stands at three minutes to midnight, where it has been since 2015 — a symbolic indicator of how close we are “to destroying our world with dangerous technologies of our own making,” according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which created the grim but influential measurement in 1947.

But sound the klaxon, bar the door, and maybe have a cocktail. Things could get worse. On Thursday members of the 72-year-old organization will appear at the National Press Club for a big announcement. The group has this terse advisory: “Factors influencing the 2017 deliberations regarding any adjustment that may be made to the Doomsday Clock include: a rise in strident nationalism worldwide, President Donald Trump’s comments on nuclear arms and climate issues prior to his inauguration on January 20th, a darkening global security landscape that is colored by increasingly sophisticated technology, and a growing disregard for scientific expertise.”

Well, OK. The Chicago-based organization conducted a poll asking respondents if the clock would be moved closer to midnight; 77 percent said that it would. The clock last read two minutes to midnight in 1953, when the U.S. and Soviet Union were testing thermonuclear weapons within months of one another. If it is moved within one minute, then duck and cover. An explosion of alarmist news is sure to follow. The organization bases its judgment on the number of nuclear warheads on the planet, incidents of stolen or lost nuclear materials, bioterrorism, cyberthreats and yes, climate-related factors. In happier years the symbolic timepiece read as much as 17 minutes from midnight. That was 1991, when the Cold War ended.

And to add to all this drama, two Democratic lawmakers proposed legislation on Tuesday that would prevent Mr. Trump from launching a first nuclear strike without authorization from Congress, specifically, a declaration of war.

57 PERCENT APPROVAL: VOTERS CHARMED BY TRUMP

Things are ever promising for the new White House, meanwhile. A new Rasmussen Reports survey says President Trump has a 57 percent approval rating among likely voters. In addition, the pollster has isolated key passages in Mr. Trump’s inaugural speech and asked respondents if they agree with the statement.

Seventy-two percent agree that “For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.” Seventeen percent disagree, and 11 percent are not sure.

The majority of respondents — 52 percent — also agree with this statement: “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first.” Thirty-seven percent disagree, and 11 percent are undecided.

MOMENT OF NOTE

“The honor of a lifetime.”

— Former Rep. Mike Pompeo, describing his appointment as the 22nd director of the CIA

THE DYNAMICS OF A PIPELINE

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters announced Tuesday they “applaud” President Trump’s executive order to advance the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access pipeline.

“We are pleased with this decision to move forward on these long overdue projects that will support working families and increase our energy security. This is a major step toward putting more Americans to work, building the infrastructure that we need, and creating economic prosperity,” says Jim Hoffa, Teamsters general president, who noted that the two projects will create 54,000 jobs.

Mr. Trump’s meeting with union leaders in multiple fields has drawn an intensely interested audience who are watching the president change the dynamics.

“He’s literally stealing one of the hugest coalitions of the Democrat Party, and that’s organized labor. He’s literally stealing it from them while they watch it happen,” conservative talk radio kingpin Rush Limbaugh told his audience. “Many of these labor leaders, they’ve been in bed with the Democrat Party, they’ve been raising money for the Democrat Party, they’ve been funding the Democrat Party, and now they are in love with Trump as of today. They described the meeting with Trump as incredible.”

Democrats and progressives are shuddering, and girding for battle, however.

“MoveOn members were proud to stand with the Standing Rock Sioux as well as people across Nebraska who have fought hard to oppose these dangerous and unnecessary pipelines that threatened their land and livelihoods. We are ready to stand with them again and expect the same of Democrats in Washington. This fight is just beginning,” warns Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org Civic Action.

SOME PIVOTAL NEWS COVERAGE

When thousands of pro-lifers arrive Friday on the National Mall for the annual March for Life, C-SPAN will cover the event — just as it has done since the 1990s. Many appreciate the coverage.

“That is good news to pro-lifers because we are so used to being ignored by most (if not all) of the mainstream media,” writes Matthew Archbold, a columnist for the National Catholic Register who notes — as do others — that the recent pro-choice Women’s March on Washington garnered “celebratory” wall-to-wall coverage.

“Media bias isn’t only about how they cover events but about what they don’t cover. And when you have all the major networks uniformly ignoring something, for much of the country it just didn’t happen,” Mr. Archbold observed.

POLL DU JOUR

76 percent of Americans say terrorism should be a top priority for President Trump and Congress; 82 percent of Republicans and 72 percent of Democrats agree.

73 percent say the economy should be a top priority; 79 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of Democrats agree.

52 percent cite the budget deficit; 63 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of Democrats agree.

45 percent cite the military; 67 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of Democrats agree.

38 percent cite climate change; 15 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of Democrats agree.

Source: A Pew Research Center poll of 1,502 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 4-9 and released Tuesday.

Ballyhoo, balderdash to jharper@washingtontimes.com


Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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