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With All Eyes on Trump White House Dysfunction, the Real Meltdown Is in the Arctic

'This is the biggest story of our lifetimes.' No, not the impossible-to-ignore dysfunction within the current administration.

Sea ice is seen from NASA's Operation IceBridge research aircraft off the northwest coast on March 30, 2017 above Greenland. With historically low sea ice extent and unprecedentedly high temperatures this winter, scientists have said the Arctic has been one of the regions hardest hit by climate change. Also some stuff is happening in Trump's White House. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Leave it to the headline writers (this one included) to bury the lede.

'Hell Night at White House,' reads the top banner at the Huffington Post.

'The Wild Wars Within,' was the title of Axios' widely-read morning dispatch for beltway insiders.

'The loneliest man in Washington just got lonelier,' declared Politico's top am headline.

These dramatic teasers come in response to the announcement on Wednesday that White House communications director Hope Hicks was resigning, one day after testifying before members of Congress about alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

The headlines also coincide with renewed focus on Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who this week has drawn new ethics concerns and had his security clearance downgraded. At the same time, the president has continued public attacks on his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, accusing him of mishandling an internal investigation into alleged surveillance abuses.

According to Mike Allen at Axios, the departure of Hicks, one of the president's closest and longest-serving advisors, "is obviously a huge blow to him. Every time he reads about Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his head explodes. The staff is just trying to ride out the storm."

And Politico reports:


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Through it all, people who know him say, Trump rages, often alone in the residence on the top floor of the White House. It’s easy to forget in another day of new, hourly news cycles, but Trump started his Wednesday by calling his attorney general “DISGRACEFUL!” and getting a rare brushback from Jeff Sessions, the man who used to be his only friend in Washington, insisting that he wasn’t going anywhere and wasn’t much concerned with what the president had to say to him.

He tweets at his TV. He wonders why his chief of staff, John Kelly, keeps him from calling his friends. A circle of old advisers stays in touch, making phone calls to offer advice and a little companionship.

Several people in that informal circle responded to the news of Hicks’ departure by quietly seeding the thinking that Kelly’s about to get dumped himself. Kushner's been stripped of his access to Top Secret intelligence, which many people worry he was using to improperly access the nation's crown jewels, but his big concern this week has been a paranoid hunt for who's leaking secrets about him.

Meanwhile, of course, the arctic is experiencing the hottest winter since record-keeping began.

"It's never been this extreme," said Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), citing record temperatures in Greenland and elsewhere above the Arctic circle in recent weeks.

"This is an anomaly among anomalies. It is far enough outside the historical range that it is worrying – it is a suggestion that there are further surprises in store as we continue to poke the angry beast that is our climate," Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, told the Guardian this week in reaction to the historically high temperatures.

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