Millions join women’s marches in an historic international rebuke of Donald Trump

 

The Washington Post reports: Millions of women gathered in Washington and cities around the country and the world Saturday to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inauguration of President Donald Trump. What started as a Facebook post by a Hawaii retiree became a historic international rebuke of new president that packed cities large and small — from London to Los Angeles, Paris to Park City, Utah, Miami to Melbourne, Australia.

In Chicago, the demonstration was overwhelmed by its own size, forcing officials to curtail its planned march when the crowd threatened to swamp the planned route.

The Washington organizers, who originally sought a permit for a gathering of 200,000, said Saturday that as many as a half million people participated. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: By early afternoon, the number of people who had taken Metro Saturday was approaching half a million, Metro said.

More than 470,000 people had taken Metro by 1 p.m. Saturday, in what officials say is an unprecedented number of riders for a weekend. The crowds surpassed the ridership on Inauguration Day, and even ridership on a regular weekday. [Continue reading…]

 

USA Today reports: According to a sister march webpage, an estimated 2.6 million people took part in 673 marches in all 50 states and 32 countries, from Belarus to New Zealand — with the largest taking place in Washington.

The crowds were so large in some cities that marching was almost impossible. In Chicago, organizers halted the march and rallied at Grant Park instead as crowds swelled to 150,000, although thousands still marched. In New York City, the number was 200,000; in Boston, media reported more than 100,000 people marching in Boston Common. In Oakland, Calif., police estimated that about 60,000 people took part in the women’s march. San Francisco’s rally was scheduled to begin at 3 pm local time, with a march at 5 pm.

In D.C., the huge crowds come a day after empty space was spotted on the National Mall ahead of Trump’s inauguration speech and bare bleachers were noticeable along the inaugural parade route. [Continue reading…]

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Trump, Russia, and the news story that wasn’t

Liz Spayd, Public Editor for the New York Times, writes: Late fall was a frantic period for New York Times reporters covering the country’s secretive national security apparatus. Working sources at the F.B.I., the C.I.A., Capitol Hill and various intelligence agencies, the team chased several bizarre but provocative leads that, if true, could upend the presidential race. The most serious question raised by the material was this: Did a covert connection exist between Donald Trump and Russian officials trying to influence an American election?

One vein of reporting centered on a possible channel of communication between a Trump organization computer server and a Russian bank with ties to Vladimir Putin. Another source was offering The Times salacious material describing an odd cross-continental dance between Trump and Moscow. The most damning claim was that Trump was aware of Russia’s efforts to hack Democratic computers, an allegation with implications of treason. Reporters Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers led the effort, aided by others.

Conversations over what to publish were prolonged and lively, involving Washington and New York, and often including the executive editor, Dean Baquet. If the allegations were true, it was a huge story. If false, they could damage The Times’s reputation. With doubts about the material and with the F.B.I. discouraging publication, editors decided to hold their fire.

But was that the right decision? Was there a way to write about some of these allegations using sound journalistic principles but still surfacing the investigation and important leads? Eventually, The Times did just that, but only after other news outlets had gone first.

I have spoken privately with several journalists involved in the reporting last fall, and I believe a strong case can be made that The Times was too timid in its decisions not to publish the material it had. [Continue reading…]

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China’s winding down coal use continues — the country just canceled 104 new coal plants

Vox reports: Because China is such a behemoth, its energy decisions absolutely dwarf anything any other country is doing right now. Case in point: Over the weekend, the Chinese government ordered 13 provinces to cancel 104 coal-fired projects in development, amounting to a whopping 120 gigawatts of capacity in all.

To put that in perspective, the United States has about 305 gigawatts of coal capacity total. The projects that China just ordered halted are equal in size to one-third of the US coal fleet. If the provinces follow through, it’s a very, very big deal for efforts to fight climate change.

This move also shouldn’t come as a big surprise. In recent years, China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has been making major efforts to restrain its coal use and shift to cleaner sources of energy. When Donald Trump and other conservatives in the United States complain that China isn’t doing anything about climate change, they simply haven’t been paying attention. [Continue reading…]

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James Mattis is sworn in as defense secretary, pledges to build alliances

The Washington Post reports: Retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis was confirmed and sworn in as President Trump’s defense secretary Friday, breaking with decades of precedent as a recently retired general became the Pentagon’s top civilian leader.

Mattis, 66, was approved with a 98-1 vote after the presidential inauguration and then sworn in by Vice President Pence. The new Pentagon chief released a statement to U.S. troops afterward that credited not only them, but intelligence personnel as “sentinels and guardians of our nation” — rhetoric that is in line with Mattis’s past statements, but stands in contrast to the way Trump has criticized the value of U.S. intelligence in recent weeks.

Mattis also pledged to work with the State Department to strengthen U.S. alliances abroad, some of which have been rattled by Trump questioning their worth.

“We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the Department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country,” Mattis’s statement said. “You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind.”

Many lawmakers and long-time foreign policy observers hope Mattis can be a moderating voice of experience in an administration that has notably few senior officials with national security experience in Washington. He will lead the Defense Department’s 1.9 million active-duty service members and reservists and oversee a budget of more than $580 billion as Trump prepares to expand the military. [Continue reading…]

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Interior Department told to stop tweeting after unflattering retweets about Trump

The Washington Post reports: The Interior Department was ordered Friday to shut down its official Twitter accounts — indefinitely — after the National Park Service shared two unsympathetic tweets during President Trump’s inauguration.

The first noted the new president’s relatively small inaugural crowd compared to the number of people former president Barack Obama drew to the National Mall when he was sworn into office in 2009. The second tweet noted several omissions of policy areas on the new White House website. A Park Service employee retweeted both missives on Friday.

“All bureaus and the department have been directed by incoming administration to shut down Twitter platforms immediately until further notice,” said an email circulated to Park Service employees Friday afternoon.

The email, obtained by The Post, described the stand-down as an “urgent directive” and said social media managers must shut down the accounts “until further directed.” [Continue reading…]

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Democrats block Pompeo CIA confirmation vote amid Trump’s feud with intel

McClatchy reports: An objection from three Democratic senators will delay the U.S. Senate’s vote to confirm Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said on Friday that they oppose “a rushed confirmation” of Rep. Mike Pompeo to serve as CIA director unless senators get the opportunity to debate the nomination.

“The importance of the position of CIA Director, especially in these dangerous times, demands that the nomination be thoroughly vetted, questioned and debated,” the senators said in a statement.

The vote had been expected to happen on Friday, after the swearing-in of Donald Trump as the 45th president.

The move means Trump likely will start his presidency without his own nominee at the head of the CIA.

The senators said the CIA can protect the nation “under the leadership of its senior professional personnel” in the meantime.

“Certainly the incoming administration acknowledges that this would be consistent with their decision to hold over 50 current administration national security appointees,” the senators said. “Our constituents expect Congress to be a check and balance on the incoming administration, not a rubber stamp.”

The CIA is locked in a battle with Trump over allegations that the Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind an effort to sway the election in Trump’s favor. [Continue reading…]

Politico reports: Newly-inaugurated President Donald Trump is settling into office this weekend with a mostly-empty Cabinet that will likely take weeks to fill.

He has a nasty nominations war in the Senate to blame.

Even as the chamber cleared two national security nominees on Friday, and vowed to take up a third on Monday, Democrats are threatening a prolonged fight over key administration posts, including for secretary of state, attorney general and Treasury secretary. [Continue reading…]

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White House petition calling for release of Trump tax returns exceeds 100,000 signatures required for response

The Independent reports: A petition calling for the immediate release of Donald Trump’s tax returns has reached the 100,000 signatures needed to prompt a White House response.

The petition, posted to the White House’s official website on Friday, demands for the new President to “immediately release [his] full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.”

It states: “The unprecedented economic conflicts of this administration need to be visible to the American people, including any pertinent documentation which can reveal the foreign influences and financial interests which may put Donald Trump in conflict with the emoluments clause of the Constitution.” [Continue reading…]

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Intercepted Russian communications part of inquiry into Trump associates

The New York Times reports: American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said.

The continuing counterintelligence investigation means that Mr. Trump will take the oath of office on Friday with his associates under investigation and after the intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government had worked to help elect him. As president, Mr. Trump will oversee those agencies and have the authority to redirect or stop at least some of these efforts.

It is not clear whether the intercepted communications had anything to do with Mr. Trump’s campaign, or Mr. Trump himself. It is also unclear whether the inquiry has anything to do with an investigation into the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computers and other attempts to disrupt the elections in November. The American government has concluded that the Russian government was responsible for a broad computer hacking campaign, including the operation against the D.N.C.

The counterintelligence investigation centers at least in part on the business dealings that some of the president-elect’s past and present advisers have had with Russia. Mr. Manafort has done business in Ukraine and Russia. Some of his contacts there were under surveillance by the National Security Agency for suspected links to Russia’s Federal Security Service, one of the officials said. [Continue reading…]

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Trump team sought Red Square-style tank and missile parade for inauguration

Huffington Post reports: Part of being a great president is showing off America’s military strength, according to President-elect Donald Trump.

The military “may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue,” Trump told the Washington Post in an interview published Wednesday. “That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military.”

Trump spoke about his vision of military parades in vague terms, suggesting it was something he might oversee in the future. But according to several sources involved in his inaugural preparations, Trump has endeavored to ensure that his first day as commander-in-chief is marked by an unusual display of heavy military equipment.

During the preparation for Friday’s transfer-of-power, a member of Trump’s transition team floated the idea of including tanks and missile launchers in the inaugural parade, a source involved in inaugural planning told The Huffington Post. “They were legit thinking Red Square/North Korea-style parade,” the source said, referring to massive military parades in Moscow and Pyongyang, typically seen as an aggressive display of muscle-flexing. [Continue reading…]

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Nikki Haley departs sharply from Trump on a range of foreign policy issues, including Russia

The Washington Post reports: South Carolina Gov. Nikki ­Haley departed sharply and sometimes awkwardly from President-elect Donald Trump on several foreign policy issues Wednesday and told senators that as United Nations ambassador she would not hesitate to disagree with her boss.

The Republican rising star who had been critical of Trump as a candidate struggled at times to distance herself from some of Trump’s most controversial positions without openly contradicting him.

During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Haley voiced heavy skepticism about Russia and optimism about NATO, both deviations from some of Trump’s statements. She unequivocally shot down the idea of a Muslim registry or ban, which Trump has never fully disavowed. [Continue reading…]

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China builds world’s biggest solar farm in journey to become green superpower

The Guardian reports: High on the Tibetan plateau, a giant poster of the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, guards the entrance to one of the greatest monuments to Beijing’s quest to become a clean energy colossus.

To Xi’s right, on the road leading to what is reputedly the biggest solar farm on earth, a billboard greets visitors with the slogan: “Promote green development! Develop clean energy!”

Behind him, a sea of nearly 4m deep blue panels flows towards a spectacular horizon of snow-capped mountains – mile after mile of silicon cells tilting skywards from what was once a barren, wind-swept cattle ranch.

“It’s big! Yeah! Big!” Gu Bin, one of the engineers responsible for building the Longyangxia Dam Solar Park in the western province of Qinghai, enthused with a heavy dose of understatement during a rare tour of the mega-project.

The remote, 27-square-kilometre solar farm tops an ever-expanding roll call of supersized symbols that underline China’s determination to transform itself from climate villain to green superpower.

Built at a cost of about 6bn yuan (£721.3m) and in almost constant expansion since construction began in 2013, Longyangxia now has the capacity to produce a massive 850MW of power – enough to supply up to 200,000 households – and stands on the front line of a global photovoltaic revolution being spearheaded by a country that is also the world’s greatest polluter. [Continue reading…]

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U.S. faces huge crop losses if temperatures keep rising, says report

Alex Kirby reports: Harvests in the United States are liable to shrink by between a fifth and a half of their present size because of rising temperatures, an international scientific team has found.

They say wheat, maize (known also as corn) and soya are all likely to suffer substantial damage by the end of the century. And while increased irrigation could help to protect them against the growing heat, that will be an option only in regions with enough water.

Their report, published in the journal Nature Communications, says the effects of a warming atmosphere will extend far beyond the US. But as it is one of the largest crop exporters, world market crop prices may increase, causing problems for poor countries. [Continue reading…]

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