Erin Ross Jan 25
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Doomsday Clock: It's 2 minutes to midnight

The doomsday clock, reading "it is 2 minutes to midnight"
Unveiling the Doomsday Clock. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

As of 10am this morning, the Doomsday Clock stood at two minutes to midnight. The clock was created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to illustrate how close humans might be to the end of the world. Originally, it only showed nuclear threats, but in recent years, climate change has moved the clock.

Why it matters: The last time the clock was this close to midnight was in 1953. The U.S. and Soviet Union had just tested hydrogen bombs. These scientists feel the risk of annihilation is as great today as it was then.

Why they moved it: According to the Bulletin, there has been an escalation of nuclear tension as the leaders of the U.S. and North Korea trade insults on Twitter. They also cite a dangerous disregard for climate change reflected in the Trump administration, which has initiated some rollbacks of fossil fuel regulations and dropped out of the Paris climate accord.

“To call the world nuclear situation dire is to understate the danger — and its immediacy,” said Bulletin chairs Lawrence Krauss and Robert Rosner in an op-ed published in The Washington Post. An increase in conflict between the U.S. and Russia were also cited.

Others echoed similar concerns: “We have been lucky to avoid conflict through intentional or accidental means, but recent posturing and the false alarms in Hawaii and Japan show our luck is about to run out if we don’t move quickly,” Beatrice Finn, the executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said in a statement.

Notable moments in Doomsday Clock history:

  • 1947, the clock debuts at 7 minutes to midnight, to illustrate how urgent addressing nuclear war would be.
  • 1953, the last time the clock was at 2 minutes to midnight.
  • 1963, 12 minutes to midnight. The U.S. and Soviet Union signed the Partial Treaty Test Ban.
  • 1984, 3 minutes to midnight, tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet Union run high.
  • 1991, 7 minutes to midnight, the Cold War is over and there are hopes for disarmament.
  • 2007, 5 minutes to midnight, for the first time, the Bulletin includes climate change as a reason for moving the hand.

The complete timeline of the Doomsday Clock is here.

The bottom line: The Doomsday Clock is as close as it’s ever been to midnight. But it’s moved backwards in the past, and it can today as well.

Jonathan Swan 10 hours ago
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Trump to announce anti-China tariffs tomorrow

President Donald Trump
Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump plans to unveil his aggressive package of tariffs against China tomorrow, with a charge led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that will use Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to target Beijing.

The big picture: Two sources with direct knowledge tell me Kevin Hassett has been crunching the numbers, and the dollar value of the tariffs will likely be around $50 billion per year — or slightly less. The administration has used an algorithm to select a batch of Chinese products and then apply tariff rates to those products in a way that will hopefully limit the harm to American consumers. 

Axios 11 hours ago
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Fed raises rates, says economy getting stronger

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve today raised interest rates a quarter-point, as expected, and forecast more interest rate hikes over the next two years because of the improving economic outlook.

Why it matters: The recent tax law and budget deal helped boost the Fed's economic outlook, the Wall Street Journal reports, but also led to warnings about inflation which is "expected to move up in the coming months," according to the Fed's statement.