What everyone gets wrong about the link between climate change and violence – Updated by Brad Plumer on November 15, 2015, 10:20 a.m. ET

During the Democratic presidential debate on Saturday night, CBS moderator John Dickerson brought up the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and then asked Bernie Sanders if he still believes climate change is our greatest national security threat. (Sanders had said as much in a previous debate.)

(John Cantlie/AFP/Getty Images)

During the Democratic presidential debate on Saturday night, CBS moderator John Dickerson brought up the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and then asked Bernie Sanders if he still believes climate change is our greatest national security threat. (Sanders had said as much in a previous debate.)

Sanders didn‘t back down:

Absolutely. In fact, climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism. And if we do not get our act together and listen to what the scientists say, you’re going to see countries all over the world — this is what the CIA says — they’re going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops, and you’re going to see all kinds of international conflict.

Much snickering ensued on Twitter, especially over that bolded sentence, with the prevailing sentiment that Sanders’ argument was self-evidently silly.

I’d say Sanders’ reply was a little off-base — but the outraged reaction was absurd. The truth about climate change and conflict is far more complex and nuanced than a short soundbite can allow, but it’s foolish to dismiss the entire topic out of hand.

Sanders was going too far when he said that climate change is “directly related” to the growth of terrorism. It’s hard to find any climate or security experts who would make that strong or straightforward of a causal link.

But it’s fine to raise the broader issue. What experts will often say — and what the Pentagon has been saying — is that global warming has the potential to aggravate existing tensions and security problems, by, for instance, making droughts or water shortages more likely in some regions. That doesn’t mean war or terrorism will be inevitable in a hotter world. Climate will typically be just one of many factors involved. Still, climate change could increase the risk of violence, which is why many military officials now take it seriously.

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The Six Biggest Moments in the Second Democratic Debate – —By Pema Levy | Sun Nov. 15, 2015 12:44 AM EST

“I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower.”

Charlie Neibergall/AP

The three Democratic presidential candidates met for their second debate on Saturday evening in Des Moines, Iowa. Following the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night, the CBS News moderators scrambled to focus the first segment of the debate on terrorism and foreign policy—issues that gave former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a chance to demonstrate her foreign affairs expertise.

Both Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley have largely focused their campaigns on domestic policy—and both garnered significant applause from the audience when it came to these issues. Sanders’ attacks on Wall Street and the campaign finance system, and his call for a raising the minimum wage were met with big approval from the crowd. O’Malley hit several of those same notes, though his biggest applause line came when he called Donald Trump an “immigration-bashing carnival barker.”

Though the debate remained civil, Sanders and O’Malley did attack Clinton on several issues, including the donations she has received from Wall Street over the years. Her strategy for rebutting such attacks came into focus during the debate.

Here are some of the night’s top moments.

Sanders says he’s not as big a socialist as Dwight Eisenhower

Sanders wants to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, make public college free, and expand Social Security. If his plan is to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans to pay for these investments, CBS’ Nancy Cordes asked him, how high would they be?

“We haven’t come up with an exact number yet, but it will not be as high as the number under Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was 90 percent,” Sanders promised. The crowd laughed almost nervously at the high number. But Sanders quickly reassured them.

“I’m not that much of a socialist compared to Eisenhower.” The audience roared.

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Trevor Noah Takes On Ben Carson’s Media Bias Claims – Posted: 11/10/2015 03:22 PM EST | Edited: 11/10/2015 03:33 PM EST



“Challenge accepted, Dr. Carson.”

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Trevor Noah on Monday decided to take a closer look at GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson’s assertion that the media is vetting his background more intensely than it did for President Barack Obama during his presidential campaign.

Republican candidates have spent a great deal of time so far in this election cycle criticizing the media for liberal bias — from critiquing the way debates have been moderated to complaining about being treated “unfairly” by the media — and Carson has been no exception to this trend. In an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” Carson claimed that the media is investigating his past with more fervor than any other presidential candidate in prior elections.

“I have not seen that with anyone else,” Carson told NBC’s Chris Jansing. “If you can show me where that’s happened with someone else, I’ll will take that statement back.”

“Challenge accepted, Dr. Carson,” Noah said on “The Daily Show,” before showing a montage of news clips from the 2008 election cycle in which the media exhaustedly vetted then-Senator Obama’s background — going so far as to question whether he was really a U.S. citizen.

“Yeah, so they vetted Obama to the point where they questioned that he was a legitimate natural-born American citizen,” Noah said. “But at least no one ever accused Obama of not stabbing a guy.”

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Countdown 2016: The State of Play – By David Catanese November 9, 2015

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to guests at a campaign event on November 3, 2015 in Coralville, Iowa. A recently released poll has Clinton expanding her lead over rival Bernie Sanders in their quest for the Democratic nomination for president.

One year from the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton has reasserted herself as the dominant candidate for the Democratic nomination but still shoulders considerable vulnerabilities that don’t appear to be receding.

Meanwhile, the jumbled, volatile chase to become the Republican standard-bearerhas narrowed slightly, but not so definitively as to substantially winnow the 15-person field.

[RELATED: It’s Way too Early to Call the Presidential Race]

As they have for roughly three months, Donald Trump and Ben Carson lead the pack, showing remarkable endurance as improbable dual front-runners who have never spent a single day in elected office. Nonetheless, there’s an underlying assumption in elite GOP circles that the support of both renegade contenders will eventually collapse, providing an opening for a more traditional candidate to emerge.

The Carson campaign was rocked Friday by a report that the candidate had never applied to the West Point military academy, even though he claimed in his popular autobiography “Gifted Hands” he was offered a full scholarship to attend. A swarm of political observers swiftly asserted the damning revelation would mark the beginning of the end for the retired pediatric neurosurgeon.


“Most of his support comes from evangelical types that think lying is a big deal. If there were one lie they might forgive. But my hunch is that if you’ll lie about something that big, there are lots of little lies he’s about to get caught in,” says Katie Packer Gage, Mitt Romney’s deputy campaign manager in 2012.

But this cycle has already defied normal political logic, especially on the raucous Republican side. And hours after the initial story broke, as conservatives rallied to Carson’s cause and against the report, Politico changed specific story details along with a headline that accused Carson of “fabrication.”

Even before that, Trump has used vivid, piercing language to insult a decorated veteran, Hispanics, women and a prominent anchor on GOP-friendly Fox News, all while maintaining his top spot in the primary race.

If either front-runner sees any fallout, Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz appear to be best positioned to seize the opportunity. Rubio continues to enjoy some of the highest favorability ratings of all Republicans, while Cruz has built a well-oiled, cash-flush organization designed for a sustained endeavor that lasts well beyond the early nominating states.


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Hillary Clinton calls for marijuana to be reclassified By ALI BRELAND 11/07/15 04:50 PM EST


Hillary Clinton is now on a similar page as her 2016 Democratic rivals in regard to marijuana laws. | Getty

Hillary Clinton is now on a similar page as her 2016 Democratic rivals in regard to marijuana laws. | Getty

Hillary Clinton calls for marijuana to be reclassified

Hillary Clinton on Saturday called for marijuana to be reclassified from a Schedule I drug to Schedule II, citing medical research.

“I do support the use of medical marijuana,” Clinton said to a predominantly African American audience at a town hall meeting at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. “And I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief.

“I want to move from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 so researchers can research what’s the best way to use it, dosage, how does it work with other medications,” she added.

The 2016 Democratic frontrunner declined to offer a position on marijuana during CNN’s Democratic presidential debate in October.

Bernie Sanders, her closest opponent in the polls, said at the debate that he would support state legalization of marijuana. The comments were a prelude to his announcement later in October calling for the federal government to take marijuana off its schedule entirely.

Democratic hopeful Martin O’Malley has also called for the drug’s reclassification.

Rescheduling marijuana would allow researchers to investigate the drug’s medicinal properties without seeking clearance from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.


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Bernie Sanders Takes Gloves Off Against Hillary Clinton in Interview – By PETER NICHOLAS Nov. 4, 2015 7:49 p.m. ET

Democratic presidential candidate draws sharper distinctions with front-runner, casting her policy reversals as a character issue

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, speaks about fossil fuels outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, speaks about fossil fuels outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: jim lo scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is drawing sharper distinctions with front-runner Hillary Clinton, casting her policy reversals over the years as a character issue that voters should take into account when they evaluate the Democratic field.

Sen. Sanders of Vermont, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, also said the federal investigation of the security surrounding Mrs. Clinton’s private email account is appropriate.

In the Democratic debate last month, Mr. Sanders said voters were “sick and tired” of the focus on Mrs. Clinton’s “damn emails.” Afterward, many Democrats and political analysts said that he had appeared to dismiss her use of a private email account and server in her four years as secretary of state.

Mr. Sanders rejected that assessment on Wednesday. If her email practices foiled public-records requests or compromised classified information, those are “valid questions,” Mr. Sanders said.

Mr. Sanders’s pointed comments mark a turning point in what has been a polite Democratic contest. When he entered the race in the spring, Mr. Sanders barely mentioned Mrs. Clinton by name. When he did, it was merely to spell out plain-vanilla differences over policy.

Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign launched its first TV commercial on Monday to run in Iowa and New Hampshire in an effort to pull ahead of frontrunner Hillary Clinton in early primary states.

But the dynamics of the Democratic race are changing with the Iowa caucuses only three months away, and Mr. Sanders is now questioning Mrs. Clinton’s convictions and willingness to take on tough policy fights that await the next president.

Mrs. Clinton’s campaign declined to comment on Mr. Sanders’s remarks on Wednesday.

The most recent Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll showed that only a quarter of registered voters gave Mrs. Clinton high marks when it came to being “honest and straightforward.” By contrast, half of those polled gave her low marks in that regard.

Yet polling also shows that Mr. Sanders is losing ground to Mrs. Clinton and relinquishing the edge he had in Iowa and New Hampshire, the states that hold the first two contests. The same Journal-NBC News poll showed Mrs. Clinton beating Mr. Sanders by a margin of 62%-31% nationally.

In an interview on Capitol Hill, Mr. Sanders said he wasn’t daunted, given his starting point as a little-known independent senator from Vermont. And he took time in the interview to cite polls in which he fares better than Mrs. Clinton in a general election showdown against various Republican candidates.

Since he joined the race, he has attracted the largest crowds, with tens of thousands of people coming out to hear his fiery speeches about income inequality and the untrammeled power of the “billionaire class.”

“We had to fight very hard in the last six months to get my name out there, to get my ideas out there,” Mr. Sanders said. “We still have a long way to go with the African-American community, with the Latino community.…But we’re working hard, and I think at the end of the day we are going to pull off one of the major political upsets in American history.”

On the issue of Mrs. Clinton’s emails, Mr. Sanders didn’t say he regretted his debate remarks. “You get 12 seconds to say these things,” he said of the debate setting. “There’s an investigation going on right now. I did not say, ‘End the investigation.’ That’s silly.…Let the investigation proceed unimpeded.”

Mr. Sanders said he has long-held positions on issues that weren’t always popular. Asked about Mrs. Clinton’s recent announcement that she opposed a Pacific trade deal she had once backed, among other changes in position, he said that consistency on such issues “does speak to the character of a person.”

He also said that in 2002 he voted against authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a measure that Mrs. Clinton supported as a New York senator.

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Sanders goes on the attack at Iowa Democratic dinner – By ANNIE KARNI and GLENN THRUSH 10/24/15 08:06 PM EDT


He launches a new broadside on Hillary Clinton’s record, caution and character.


DES MOINES — Bernie Sanders is giving Hillary Clinton a pass on her “damn emails,” but he’s giving her hell on just about everything else.

On Saturday night, at the high-stakes Democratic Jefferson-Jackson dinner, Bernie Sanders launched a new, frontal attack on Hillary Clinton’s record, caution and character — a direct response to her recent surge in the the polls here and nationally, and fueled by her strong performance at the first Democratic debate earlier this month. The shift represents a gamble: Can a nice-guy candidate publicly dedicated to running on substance turn to attack mode with sacrificing his reputation as an authentic voice of the people?

The skirmish began even before each campaign’s supporters – hundreds of them, each with their own signs, noisemakers and pre-rehearsed chants, began filing into a drafty hall at the Hy-Vee Center in downtown Des Moines where the annual kingmaker’s ball takes place. At a pre-dinner rally, Bernie Sanders’ supporters flew a single-engine plane with the banner “FEEL THE BERN” directly over a Clinton rally headlined by the pop singer Katy Perry — who got more shout-outs from the candidate than Barack Obama, Joe Biden or Bill Clinton. During Clinton’s introduction at the dinner, Sanders supporters — many of them in their teen and twenties — tried to drown out her intro with cheers for the democratic socialist. And they filed out quietly when she took the stage to speak, a hint of how passionately they feel about Sanders and their ambivalence about Clinton.

The Vermont senator, as always, did not go after the frontrunner in a personal way or mention her by name. Instead, he delivered a fiery yet indirect indictment of her entire political career. In his 25-minute speech – backed up by the thundering chants of supporters chanting “Feel the Bern!” — he launched an attack on Clinton’s slowness to take a position on the Keystone pipeline: “this was not a complicated issue,” he said. He lambasted her for now opposing a trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that she once called the “gold standard” of trade deals.

“It is not now, nor has it ever been, the gold standard of trade agreements,” Sanders said. And he reached back to Clinton’s 2002 vote to support the war in Iraq, an issue that plagued her eight years ago when she took the stage here. “When I came to that fork in the road I took the right road, even though it was not the popular road at the time,” he said.

Clinton, fresh off her steady, disciplined performance before the House Benghazi committee, doesn’t tend to shine in big set-piece, theater-in-the-round speeches, and Saturday was no exception. Compared to the passionate populist broadsides delivered by Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Clinton was more measured — except for the moments when she spoke about the struggles of Iowans she’s met while campaigning or her role as a gender pioneer.


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6 questions about socialism you were too embarrassed to ask – Updated by Dylan Matthews on October 14, 2015, 2:04 p.m. ET

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A specter is haunting the 2016 Democratic Party primary. The specter of socialism. Bernie Sanders’s presidential bid is forcing Americans to reckon with an ideology that has profoundly shaped the politics of just about every other developed country, and has shaped America more than we might like to admit. Tuesday night, Sanders’s defense of the socialist label at the first Democratic debate got viewers frantically searching Merriam-Webster to find out what, precisely, “socialism” is.

According to Sanders, socialism — or “democratic socialism,” his preferred formulation — is basically mainstream Democratic Party liberalism but more so. It entails single-payer health care, not Obamacare. It entails tuition-free college, not subsidized loans. It entails government jobs to deal with our unemployment problem, not stimulus through tax breaks. These are big policy changes, but they also don’t really seem to amount to the overthrow of capitalism — especially since actually existing capitalism in the United States has long included regulation of business and a welfare state.

But Sanders isn’t wrong. Looking at the history of socialism as a movement — from its utopian beginnings to Marx’s refinement and popularization and the split of socialists into reformers and revolutionaries at the start of the 20th century — reveals an ideology that has changed over time and shaped most countries around the world, including the United States, and that in some ways just isn’t as sharp a break with a status quo as the pearl-clutching tone of Anderson Cooper’s questions might lead you to believe.

1) Is Bernie Sanders a socialist?

Debs is a major personal hero of Sanders'sSteve Liss/the LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images
Sanders sits in front of an image of socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs in 1990.

Sanders is, in his own words, a “democratic socialist.” To him, that means he supports the policies in place in many democratic countries, particularly Northern European ones like Sweden, Finland, or Denmark.

“In virtually all of those countries, health care is a right of all people, and their systems are far more cost-effective than ours, college education is virtually free in all of those countries, people retire with better benefits, wages that people receive are often higher, distribution of wealth and income is much fairer, their public education systems are generally stronger than ours,” Sanders told Vox’s Ezra Klein earlier this year. “When I talk about being a democratic socialist, those are the countries that I am looking at, and those are the ideas that I think we can learn a lot from.”

That set of policies — often called “Scandinavian social democracy” or the “Nordic model” — was adopted largely at the instigation of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark’s “social democratic” parties, which serve as their countries’ primary left-of-center political entities, usually in conjunction with agrarian parties as a “red-green” coalition.

Over the course of the 20th century, as those parties took power across the region, they gradually cobbled together a large, comprehensive safety net, where programs were generally universal — think free health care for all, not Medicaid-style free health care just for the poorest — and which, because of that, came to enjoy wide public support. The agrarian parties are largely to thank for the universalistic aspect; farmer income tended to vary considerably, which made non-means-tested benefits attractive. Enabling and sustaining this system were large and powerful labor unions. In Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, a little under 70 percent of workersare in unions, which also run the countries’ unemployment systems; many non-union members are nonetheless covered by collective bargaining contracts.

To Americans, this may just look like a hardcore version of the Democratic Party platform. But social democratic parties have traditionally identified as socialist, and emerged out of socialist movements. And historically, social democracy developed not as a more moderate form of capitalism, but as a revised and refined version of Marxism.

2) Okay, so what’s social democracy, and is it different from socialism?

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