California Senator Kamala Harris

Senator Kamala Harris of California dropped out of the Democratic presidential race on Tuesday after months of low poll numbers and a series of missteps that crippled her campaign, a deflating comedown for a barrier-breaking candidate who was seeking to become the first black woman to win a major party’s presidential nomination.

The decision came after weeks of upheaval among Ms. Harris’s staff, including layoffs in New Hampshire and at her headquarters in Baltimore, and disarray among her allies. She told supporters in an email on Tuesday that she lacked the money needed to fully finance a competitive campaign.

“My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,” Ms. Harris wrote. “But I want to be clear with you: I am still very much in this fight.”

The announcement is perhaps the most surprising development to date in a fluid Democratic presidential campaign where Ms. Harris began in the top tier. Her departure removes a prominent woman of color from a field that started as the most racially diverse ever in a Democratic primary, and raises the prospect that this month’s debate in Los Angeles will feature no candidates who aren’t white.
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Ms. Harris opened her campaign on Martin Luther King’s Birthday with a rousing speech in her hometown, Oakland, Calif., before an audience of 20,000 people, drawing comparisons to history-making black politicians like Barack Obama and Shirley Chisholm.

Election Results

Oakland, California

Hillary Clinton 87.76%
Donald Trump 4.63%
Jill Stein 3.76%
Gary Johnson 1.36%

Berkeley, California

Hillary Clinton 88.27%
Jill Stein 4.46%
Donald Trump 3.17%
Gary Johnson 1.35%

Alameda, California

Hillary Clinton 78.04%
Donald Trump 13.04%
Gary Johnson 2.58%
Jill Stein 2.52%

-- Robert Gammon, "Trump Only Got 4.63% of the Vote in Oakland," Oakland Magazine, November 28, 2016

The Point of No Return

Eric Holthaus, "The Point of No Return: Climate Change Nightmares Are Already Here," Rolling Stone, August 5, 2013.

On July 20th, James Hansen, the former NASA climatologist who brought climate change to the public's attention in the summer of 1988, issued a bombshell: He and a team of climate scientists had identified a newly important feedback mechanism off the coast of Antarctica that suggests mean sea levels could rise 10 times faster than previously predicted: 10 feet by 2065. The authors included this chilling warning: If emissions aren't cut, "We conclude that multi-meter sea-level rise would become practically unavoidable. Social disruption and economic consequences of such large sea-level rise could be devastating. It is not difficult to imagine that conflicts arising from forced migrations and economic collapse might make the planet ungovernable, threatening the fabric of civilization" . . . .

James Hansen, the dean of climate scientists, retired from NASA in 2013 to become a climate activist. But for all the gloom of the report he just put his name to, Hansen is actually somewhat hopeful. That's because he knows that climate change has a straightforward solution: End fossil-fuel use as quickly as possible. If tomorrow, the leaders of the United States and China would agree to a sufficiently strong, coordinated carbon tax that's also applied to imports, the rest of the world would have no choice but to sign up. This idea has already been pitched to Congress several times, with tepid bipartisan support. Even though a carbon tax is probably a long shot, for Hansen, even the slim possibility that bold action like this might happen is enough for him to devote the rest of his life to working to achieve it. On a conference call with reporters in July, Hansen said a potential joint U.S.-China carbon tax is more important than whatever happens at the United Nations climate talks in Paris.

One group Hansen is helping is Our Children's Trust, a legal advocacy organization that's filed a number of novel challenges on behalf of minors under the idea that climate change is a violation of intergenerational equity — children, the group argues, are lawfully entitled to inherit a healthy planet.

A separate challenge to U.S. law is being brought by a former EPA scientist arguing that carbon dioxide isn't just a pollutant (which, under the Clean Air Act, can dissipate on its own), it's also a toxic substance. In general, these substances have exceptionally long life spans in the environment, cause an unreasonable risk, and therefore require remediation. In this case, remediation may involve planting vast numbers of trees or restoring wetlands to bury excess carbon underground.