Four dad-rock bands, N.W.A. to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s class of 2016.

The five acts—Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, and Steve Miller, along with N.W.A.—will be celebrating their victory at Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center on April 8th, at the 31st annual induction ceremony. According to Billboard, this year’s ceremony is a bit of a shift from previous years: Each group has been slighted by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s nominating committee before. “The class of 2016 begins to fill in some of those perceived “holes” in the Hall’s ranks,” they write, with attitude.

March 29, 2017


What will Donald Trump learn about tomorrow?

Trump is really doing well. First he learned about Frederick Douglass, who is being recognized more and more every day. Then he played with a truck and made vroom-vroom sounds. Now he’s learned about Susan B. Anthony:

He is such a good helper! Now these women know all about Susan B. Anthony, who got arrested for trying to vote while female. American women definitely don’t know anything about her.

No word about his behavior at naptime, but if he is very, very good perhaps he will get a gold star. What a big important day for a big important boy! If we turn the Constitution into a chapter book, we may survive this yet.

Lamar Smith (left) with House Speaker Paul Ryan in January. Zach Gibson/ASSOCIATED PRESS

House Republicans held an insane hearing just to attack climate science.

The Trump administration has been nothing if not a master class in gaslighting—the art of manipulating people, often through lies, into questioning their own sanity—and its pupils on Capitol Hill have clearly been taking notes. On Wednesday, the Republicans on the House Science Committee held a three-hour hearing on the merits of climate change science, a cavalcade of falsehoods so relentless and seemingly rational that one might well need psychiatric counseling after having watched it.

There were four witnesses: One scientist from within the scientific mainstream, and three from the climate-denial fringe. This witness makeup, the result of Republicans’ majority power, created an environment where there appeared to be exponentially more doubt about the reality of global warming than actually exists in the scientific community (97 percent of climate scientists say global warming is problematic and caused by humans). The stated intention of the hearing was to bring “integrity” back to the scientific process. “It is important that we have the best available data to make informed decisions,” said Republican Congressman Andy Biggs of Arizona. “It is also important that this data is grounded in sound science that is not biased or part of a larger political agenda.”

That sounds perfectly reasonable, but an “honest discussion” of the data is not what happened. It was not honest, for example, when House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith angrily said the Heartland Institute—an organization that openly denies climate science—does not deny climate science. It was not honest when Smith criticized Science magazine—one of the country’s most prestigious science publications—as being a non-objective source of information about science. Nor was it honest that the discussion would be apolitical. Judith Curry, a scientist who doubts mankind’s role in climate change, ended her opening statement thus: “Let’s make scientific debate about climate change great again.”

At one point, a Republican on the committee even tried to pin the label of “climate denier” on Michael Mann, a world-renowned climate scientist the Democrats had called to defend mainstream science. Georgia Congressman Barry Loudermilk asked Mann if he though it was possible, even in the slightest, that humans are not the main driver of climate change. Mann said that based on the current data, it’s not possible. Loudermilk concluded: “We could say you’re a denier of natural change.”

For being the only witness who accepted the mainstream position on climate change, Mann sure took a beating. Representative Paul Higgins pressed Mann to prove he wasn’t “affiliated or associated” with the Union of Concerned Scientists or the Climate Accountability Institute, two left-leaning climate science advocacy groups. Mann, clearly confused, said he knew people in the groups but didn’t work for them. Texas Congressman Randy Weber then attacked Mann for not being able to “remember” if he’s affiliated with the groups. “It certainly seems to be a convenient lack of memory,” Weber said.

For all their gaslighting, these Republicans never did conceal the true intention of the hearing: to bully the scientific mainstream. Smith even suggested as much last week at Heartland’s annual conference for climate change deniers, where he was met with cheers when he announced his three chosen witnesses. When he mentioned Mann, the crowd loudly booed, and Smith smiled. “This hearing is going to be so much fun,” he said.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The Trump administration is defending its coal policy by saying “there’s no such thing as clean energy.”

On Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke officially rescinded an Obama-era policy that banned coal leasing on public lands across the country. The day before, in defending President Donald Trump’s decision to do this, Zinke made an interesting argument: that when it comes to coal’s impact on the environment, renewable energy is basically no better.

Zinke made this claim in a radio interview with Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade. Kilmeade noted that although Trump has promised “really clean coal”—or coal mining that’s better for the environment—there’s the argument that clean coal does not actually exist. Zinke shot back: “You look at, is there such a thing as clean coal? Well, there’s no such thing as clean energy.” Here’s the full exchange:

KILMEADE: Remember Joe Biden said when he was running in ‘08, “There’s no such thing as clean coal.” I understand today you are rescinding a ban on coal leasing on federal lands. Are you hurting the environment to help jobs?

ZINKE: We’re not hurting the environment. You look at, is there such a thing as clean coal? Well, there’s no such thing as clean energy. Even wind comes at a cost, when you wanna talk about migratory birds and cutting through. But coal, can we do it better? Absolutely. It is better to export cleaner coal oversees than have China use low-quality, high-sulfur coal.

Clearly every source of energy has an environmental impact. Wind and solar both require tons of land to operate at large scales, raising concerns about habitat loss and land degradation. Geothermal power plants use a lot of water; and biofuels have a whole host of problems. But it’s sort of a no-brainer that renewable energy sources are much cleaner than coal. Fossil fuels do substantially more harm to air and water—not to mention the climate. According to Scientific American, coal burning is responsible for “more than a third of all energy-related U.S. carbon dioxide emissions and 80 percent of those from electricity production. It is also one of the largest contributors of air pollution, acid rain, and even toxic environmental mercury.”

As for the migratory bird problem, Zinke may want to look at this chart, which shows how many birds are killed per year by different fuel sources.

U.S. News & World Report

Britpop was bad.

Twenty-three years after Blur’s Parklife, Britpop doesn’t need another takedown, or commemoration, or really anything more said about it. Which makes Pitchfork’s list of the 50 Best Britpop Albums an odd document: Why now? Does anyone in the world need to be reminded of the ultimate mediocrity of Oasis, or the fact that Blur’s best work was actually in the 2000s, or the existence of Suede?

The answer may just be existential. Since being bought by Condé Nast, Pitchfork has continued its stylistic evolution. Its reviews have gotten sharper and less irritating and the site has published some truly outstanding features, but it’s also leaned into more questionable, click-driven content like the completely baffling and extraneous “50 Best Indie Albums of the Pacific Northwest” and the culturally damaging “Here Is the Scandalous Father John Misty Interview You’ve Been Waiting For.” This is, of course, what digital publications do.

Pitchfork knows that its lists—many of which are good!—prime the pump. Could they have waited until the 25th anniversary of Parklife? Probably! But that would mean that Britpop’s waning influence would have been waning for two more years.

Anyway, back to Britpop. Part of the weirdness of the list is that 50 whole albums stretches things way too far. Including The Bends as a Britpop album is a pretty great neg of Radiohead, even if it would have been better if The Bends had been beaten out by either of Oasis’s two not-terrible albums. (The fact that Oasis is perhaps the least charismatic band in rock history is not addressed by Pitchfork. Neither is their strange devotion to parkas—they’re weirdly depicted wearing trenchcoats in the Sgt. Pepper-ish art accopmanying the feature.) Morrissey has not one but two albums in the top 50! While “Tomorrow” sounds like Morrissey doing Britpop, it also sounds like Morrissey, who is not Britpop—this is definitely a category error.

The accompanying playlist does a decent job arguing that Britpop was more than a marketing gimmick for Britain’s fading glory, Union Jack-themed merchandise, and the Glastonbury tourism board, but it still struggles to make the case that Britpop was a genre and not an irritating mix of shoegaze flange and power pop songcraft.

The other problem is that most of the music is bad. I was watching the video for Cornershop’s annoying “Brimful of Asha,” only for Deep Blue Something’s “Breakfast at Tiffanys” to autoplay when the song finished—as if YouTube really wanted to make it clear that “Brimful of Asha” was a bad song. Ash sounds like if the Ramones had frontal lobotomies; you can hear Coldplay being born in the Verve’s depthless self-importance; and a surprising number of these bands sound like the Goo Goo Dolls. If Anton Newcombe, the insane frontman of the mediocre Brian Jonestown Massacre, had founded the band in Surrey instead of San Francisco, he would have released a string of #1 records and live in a giant penthouse apartment in Kensington, instead of doing whatever it is he’s doing now.

There are some highlights. Elastica’s first album rules and so does most of Blur (though Blur doesn’t get really good until after Britpop was buried in a shallow grave). Oasis’s popularity makes sense when put in the context of the mediocrity of mid-90s music. And when Pulp, the British LCD Soundsystem, are good, they are really fucking good.

Sleeper also remains underrated. But that doesn’t change the fact that Britpop sucks.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Trump Organization is planning to expand its hotel empire, which surely is just a coincidence.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s company is readying a “nationwide expansion,” including a second hotel in Washington, D.C.:

Representatives of the Trump Organization, now run by the president’s adult sons, have inquired in recent months about converting one of several boutique, medium-sized hotels in upscale neighborhoods in and near downtown and reopening it under the company’s new Scion brand.

Unlike the luxurious Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, which Trump and his family own, the more affordable Scion hotels would be owned by other developers who would pay the Trumps’ company for licensing rights and management.

The head of the Trump Organization’s hotel division told the Post that he’s signed “over 30” preliminary agreements for similar licensing deals around the country, suggesting the Trump brand name might not be as commercially toxic as some reports have suggested.

A second D.C. hotel would give Trump even more opportunity to personally profit by doing business in the nation’s capital. The existing Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue is raising ethics concerns for providing paying guests—including foreign diplomats—with proximity to the president, who makes routine visits. Though Trump turned over management of the Trump Organization to his adult children, he is still the owner, and thus would profit from the planned Scion expansion.

As this latest news proves, Trump’s rapid ascent in politics has been good for business. “Donald Trump Jr. said in an interview recently that he familiarized himself with other markets—and potential partners—while on the campaign trail for his father,” the Post reported. “The sons have said they are minimizing contact with their father except to provide basic updates on the business.”

Those “basic updates,” however, include quarterly financial reports about the company—so President Trump will know exactly how well his self-enrichment scheme is going.


The Mercers will spend millions to try to save Trump’s presidency.

Bloomberg reported this morning that the Mercer family, the cat-loving billionaires who helped get Trump elected to the White House, are reaching into their deep, deep wallets to try to bail Trump out. (If you want to know more about the Mercers, Jane Mayer’s latest is a must-read.) Making America Great, the non-profit run by Rebekah Mercer, the Mercer daughter dubbed “First Lady of the alt-right,” is reportedly spending $1 million in TV ads and $300,000 in digital campaigns to boost Trump. According to Bloomberg, they are focusing their money in D.C., along with “ten states Trump carried in the presidential election where a Democratic senator is up for re-election in 2018.”

The ads run through his purported accomplishments: the new job numbers, reducing EPA regulations, Keystone XL, and withdrawing from TPP. Health care, of course, is not mentioned.

With an impressively low approval rating of 36 percent, the president needs all the help he can get. It only looks like it’s going to get worse for the biggest boy in the land—the hole that the administration has dug with Russia is getting deeper, not helped by Devin Nunes’s latest bungles. And, staring down the barrel of a potential government shutdown next month, Trump might have to stall on plans to build the wall, his other big campaign promise to his voters.

The Mercers have their work cut out for them. But don’t underestimate the power of literal bags of money. After all, last time the Mercers invested in politics, they pulled off the biggest dark money swindle this country has seen and put Trump—along with Mercer buddies Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway—into the Oval Office.

Peter McDiarmid/Getty

It’s amazing that Britain is going to spend the next two years doing this crap.

Theresa May, keeper of one of the best chains in the rap game, formally began Brexit on Wednesday by triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. The divorce proceedings between Great Britain and the EU must now end in two years. “This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back. Britain is leaving the European Union. We are going to make our own decisions and our own laws,” May said.“We are going to take control of the things that matter most to us. And we are going to take this opportunity to build a stronger, fairer Britain—a country that our children and grandchildren are proud to call home.”

This, of course, conveniently overlooks the fact that young Britons voted overwhelmingly—by a 3-1 margin—to remain in the European Union.

Immediately after the surprise vote to leave the European Union in July, there was some hope that those who wished to remain in the EU would be able to ultimately prevail and stop the divorce. But that never came to pass (to be fair, neither did the recession many predicted).

Nigel Farage, the living embodiment of every imaginable British stereotype (particularly the colonial ones), is happy and that’s never a good thing.

Despite the hopes of May and Farage, leaving the EU will be a costly process, sucking up valuable resources that could be spent in less self-destructive ways. The list of things that must be done is daunting, including fashioning a whole new immigration system and negotiating a new treaty with the EU. It will also be a lengthy one—two years is a long time to continuously punch yourself in the face.

It’s tempting to feel superior in moments like this, but Brexit will theoretically be over on March 29, 2019. We’ll have to wait another 20 months for our version to Brexit to (maybe) end.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Devin Nunes’s defense of Trump might lead to an ethics investigation.

At a press conference last Tuesday Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said, “First, I recently confirmed that on numerous occasions, the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition. Details about persons associated with the incoming administration, details with little apparent foreign intelligence value, were widely disseminated in intelligence community reporting. Third, I have confirmed that additional names of Trump transition team members were unmasked. And fourth and finally, I want to be clear, none of this surveillance was related to Russia, or the investigation of Russian activities, or of the Trump team.”

These words, and follow-up comments in which Nunes confirmed the existence of foreign surveillance warrants, revealed classified information. As such, they seem to put Nunes at odds with the rules of the House Intelligence Committee. Citing legal experts, the Daily Beast notes that Nunes might have run afoul of rules stating, “The Committee on Ethics shall investigate any unauthorized disclosure of intelligence or intelligence-related information.”

If Nunes does in fact have to answer to an investigation, that could intensify the push from members of both parties to have him recuse himself from the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with the Russian government during the last election.

March 28, 2017

Via Giphy

Uber’s first diversity report confirms what we already know: It’s bro heaven.

The ride-sharing company has been in extended damage control mode. Its reputation has taken a steady beating in recent months for workplace harassment and corporate espionage charges, not to mention the apparent (and potentially lethal) failure of its self-driving vehicles. But the company’s diversity report, released Tuesday, does little to dispel the image of the company as a white male–dominated bro-zone. It isn’t a surprise that a company whose CEO once called it “Boob’er” (because it helped him get dates) would not be able to transform its culture overnight. Still, the numbers illuminate how pervasive its diversity problem is.

Before we can even get to the numbers, the report foreshadows how its efforts might go south. The names of the “employee resource groups” tasked with addressing diversity concerns appear to burden the very people most affected by Uber’s lack of diversity. UberHUE (for black diversity and inclusion), Los Ubers (for Latino and Hispanic employees), UberABLE (for employees with disabilities)—you get the picture. If this is the beginning of efforts to transform the company culture, then perhaps these names should also be sent to the chopping block.

Now for the numbers: Uber’s global tech leadership is nearly 90 percent male, and in the U.S. it is 75 percent white. It isn’t much better across the board, as men hold a staggering 85 percent of tech jobs all over the world; in the U.S., just 1 percent of its tech workforce identified as black and 2 percent as Hispanic. Men hold more than two-thirds of the jobs in the U.S. workforce alone.

True to its macho roots, the company’s new human resources officer spun the company’s travails to The New York Times in blindingly aggressive terms: “Every strength, in excess, is a weakness.” There was no word, of course, on the diversity numbers of Uber’s massive driver fleet, which the company does not count as its employees.

Mark Wilson / Staff

Appalachia is trying to diversify its economy. Trump isn’t helping.

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) announced today that it has invested a further $2.4 million to support economic diversification projects in its service area. According to an official press release, ARC has now invested $75.5 million to help the region transition from a coal-dominated mono-economy to a more robust economic environment.

ARC could do more if it was properly funded. From the press release:

Since March 2016, when ARC first announced funding availability through the POWER Initiative, the Commission has received more than $280 million in funding requests for ideas to revitalize Appalachia’s economy.  With funds made available to date, the Commission has been able to fund only one-quarter of these proposals.

These funds help local diversification projects, often started by grassroots environmental activists determined to help their communities survive the death of coal. And that death is inevitable, despite Trump’s executive order today, which he claims will bring coal jobs back. 

The order won’t save coal. The industry has been in decline since World War II due to a combination of factors that include competition from other energy industries and automation. The latter problem isn’t likely to disappear; in fact, it’s probably going to get worse. Coal is reaching the end of its poisonous life, and Trump’s so-called “Energy Independence” order effectively sentences Appalachia to more poverty. 

It also sentences the region to more environmental degradation: The order rolls back environmental regulations that banned the development of coal mines on public land.

As Virginia Senator Mark Warner tweeted earlier this afternoon, there is another way for Trump to help miners: 

If miners are that important to him and to the GOP, they’d get behind the Act—and fund ARC instead of threatening to kill it. But Trump doesn’t care about miners, and neither does the GOP. They care about coal companies, they care about profit, and they care about using these people as political props. The Energy Independence order will destroy the communities ARC is trying to save.