Category Archives: History

Trump Signs Executive Order To Halt Family Separations

By: Andrew Restuccia, Lorraine Woellert of politico

President Donald Trump signed an executive action Wednesday that ends the administration’s policy of separating migrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, abandoning the president’s previous stance that only Congress can fix the problem.

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office, flanked by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Vice President Mike Pence. “I think anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it. We don’t like to see families separated.”

Yet Trump said that he wanted to continue enforcing a strong policy at the border, an issue he campaigned on: “We are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero tolerance. We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.”

The action came after Trump and his team faced harsh criticism from lawmakers, activists, religious leaders and former first ladies over the separation of children from their parents in custody, which was panned almost universally as cruel and damaging to the kids’ well-being.

It was a remarkable shift from a president who is typically reluctant to bow to outside pressure. He often doubles down on his existing stance when confronted with criticism.

With cable news flashing images of migrant children held in cages and lawmakers’ offices facing a flood of angry phone calls, the president was under increased pressure to come up with a speedy solution. White House aides came to the conclusion on Wednesday that Congress was unlikely to act quickly to resolve the crisis, even though they sent signals that Trump would be willing to sign a narrow, stand-alone fix without other immigration-related provisions.

The decision to end the separation policy via executive action appeared to have happened quickly, and some in the White House were left in the dark. Key members of the White House legislative affairs team, which had been working with Hill lawmakers in a bid to find a legislative fix, were left out of the loop and hadn’t seen text of the executive action as of early Wednesday afternoon, according to two people familiar with the issue.

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North Korea and US Leaders Meet Face To Face

By : Everett Rosenfield & Nyshka Chandran

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met face-to-face Tuesday morning for their highly anticipated summit. After hours of talks, the U.S. president said he was heading toward “a signing” with Kim, but there was no immediate indication of what sort of agreement would be signed.

The summit began with the two men briefly shaking hands and taking a photo side-by-side, then moving to another room, where they sat and made brief statements for the press.

“We’re going to have a great discussion and, I think, tremendous success. It will be tremendously successful. And it’s my honor,” Trump said.

“We will have a terrific relationship — I have no doubt,” the president added.

For his part, the North Korean leader said, “It was not easy to get here. The past worked as fetters on our limbs, and the old prejudices and practices worked as obstacles on our way forward. But we overcame all of them, and we are here today,” according to a translation provided by the White House.

Trump responded: “That’s true.”

Following those comments, the two leaders began what was said to be a one-on-one meeting, with only translators in attendance.

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NASA Makes Organic Material On Mars

By: NASA

NASA’s Curiosity rover has found new evidence preserved in rocks on Mars that suggests the planet could have supported ancient life, as well as new evidence in the Martian atmosphere that relates to the search for current life on the Red Planet. While not necessarily evidence of life itself, these findings are a good sign for future missions exploring the planet’s surface and subsurface.

The new findings – “tough” organic molecules in three-billion-year-old sedimentary rocks near the surface, as well as seasonal variations in the levels of methane in the atmosphere – appear in the June 8 edition of the journal Science.

Organic molecules contain carbon and hydrogen, and also may include oxygen, nitrogen and other elements. While commonly associated with life, organic molecules also can be created by non-biological processes and are not necessarily indicators of life.

“With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, in Washington. “I’m confident that our ongoing and planned missions will unlock even more breathtaking discoveries on the Red Planet.”

“Curiosity has not determined the source of the organic molecules,” said Jen Eigenbrode of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who is lead author of one of the two new Science papers. “Whether it holds a record of ancient life, was food for life, or has existed in the absence of life, organic matter in Martian materials holds chemical clues to planetary conditions and processes.”

Although the surface of Mars is inhospitable today, there is clear evidence that in the distant past, the Martian climate allowed liquid water – an essential ingredient for life as we know it – to pool at the surface. Data from Curiosity reveal that billions of years ago, a water lake inside Gale Crater held all the ingredients necessary for life, including chemical building blocks and energy sources.

“The Martian surface is exposed to radiation from space. Both radiation and harsh chemicals break down organic matter,” said Eigenbrode. “Finding ancient organic molecules in the top five centimeters of rock that was deposited when Mars may have been habitable, bodes well for us to learn the story of organic molecules on Mars with future missions that will drill deeper.”

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Takeaways From California’s Primary Elections

By: The New York Times

The battle for control of Congress was front and center on Tuesday night, with races taking shape in several intensely contested House seats in California and New Jersey. But there were revealing elections in the Midwest and the South, too, underscoring President Trump’s power in the Republican Party and the different ways Democrats hope to loosen his hold on red-state America.

Here are some of our takeaways:

Money matters in California

National Democrats spent over $7 million in an effort to ensure they had a candidate reach the general election in three House districts in California held by Republicans. Their decision to not take their chances in the state’s “top two” system — in which the top finishers in nonpartisan, open primaries face each other in November — appears to have been a wise investment.

The party’s intervention in the districts held by Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Ed Royce and Darrell Issa, all Republicans, paid off: they angered some of their own activists but were virtually certain to advance candidates in each of the three districts, including their preferred picks against Mr. Rohrabacher and in Mr. Royce’s seat.

And the Democrats also got a bit of a lesson about the risks of not intervening, in the race for the seat held by Representative Jeff Denham. The Democrat Josh Harder got little outside help and appeared poised to barely edge out a little-known Republican challenger because the other five Democrats split more than 30 percent of the vote.

It did not come cheap, but if Democrats secure a narrow House majority in November they will have done so in part because they decided to aggressively compete in June.

Trump voters can have long memories

Representative Martha Roby, Republican of Alabama, talked about building the wall. She voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. She backed the president’s tax bill.

And yet.

Less than two years after saying she could not support Mr. Trump in the presidential campaign, Ms. Roby appeared to pay a political price on Tuesday, failing to clear the threshold — half of the vote — necessary to avoid a runoff for her seat.

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Trump Cancels Major Meeting

By: Mike Calia of CNBC

President Donald Trump canceled his historic nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un on Thursday, accusing North Korea of “tremendous anger and open hostility.”

The meeting, which would have marked the first face-to-face encounter between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader, was set for June 12 in Singapore.

“Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,” Trump wrote in a letter to Kim, which was released Thursday morning.

Stocks fell and gold rose after news of the cancellation broke.

Much of the letter was written in seemingly friendly terms, including praise for North Korea’s recent release of three American prisoners. In contrast, Trump also appeared to issue a threat that conjured memories of his war of words with Kim last year.

“You talk about your nuclear capabilities, but ours are so massive and powerful that I pray to God they will never have to be used,” Trump wrote.

The cancellation appeared to take South Korea’s government by surprise. The nation’s president, Moon Jae-in, had played a pivotal role in setting up recent diplomatic developments.

A representative of Moon’s office said the South Korean administration was “trying to figure out what President Trump’s intention is and the exact meaning of it,” according to the country’s Yonhap News Agency. Moon and his aides convened emergency meetings to address the shock announcement, which broke shortly before midnight in Seoul.

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Lava Eruptions in Hawaii

Compliments of CBS

Lava flowing from the Kilauea volcano has consumed telephone poles, trees and homes and destroyed at least 35 buildings since it started erupting late last week. A cameraman captured video of the destruction over the weekend, showing how it even swallowed a car.

In the video, lava creeps slowly across a roadway toward a white Ford Mustang. The flow eventually reaches — and ignites — the vehicle.

In another portion of the video, lava easily pushes through a gate as vegetation burns on either side of what appears to be a road or driveway.

Two new cracks spewing lava and gas opened up Monday on Hawaii’s Big Island. Authorities warned people to remain cautious in the face of the volcano, which has spewed lava and toxic gas through at least 12 fissures in Leilani Estates in Pahoa, where more than 1,700 residents have been evacuated, CBS News’ Carter Evans reported.

The once lush landscape now looks more like a blackened moonscape after nothing in the lava’s path was spared.

“Everyone knows that it’s not over,” said Hawaii Governor David Ige.

Monday, however, also brought a much-needed break. The eruptions slowed down, and authorities allowed evacuees to return to their homes to pack their most essential items.

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North and South Korea Adjusting To Post War Climate

By: CNBC

North Korea will shift its time zone 30 minutes earlier to align with South Korea starting May 5 “as a first practical step for national reconciliation and unity,” the North’s state media said Monday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said it was “a painful wrench” to see two clocks showing different Pyongyang and Seoul times on a wall at the summit venue during the historic meeting Friday with President Moon Jae-in, KCNA said.

Meanwhile, China will send the government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, to visit North Korea on Wednesday and Thursday this week, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

The time change report confirmed news from South Korean officials on Sunday that Kim pledged to scrap the northern time zone, which was created in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japanese rule after World War Two.

South Korea and Japan are in the same time zone, nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

“It is not an abstract meaning that the north and the south become one but it is just a process in which the north and the south turn their different and separated things into the same and single ones,” Kim said, according to the dispatch.

At their summit Friday, Kim and Moon declared they would take steps to formally end the 1950 53 Korean War, which ended only with a truce, and work towards the “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula. The declaration didn’t offer any specifics on what that meant or how it would progress.

Much now hinges on Kim’s upcoming summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, who said the meeting could happen over the next three to four weeks. No location has been announced.

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Net Neutrality Officially Dies

By: Marguerite Reardon of CNet

The Obama-era net neutrality rules, passed in 2015, are dead.

As of Monday, much of the proposal regarding the Republican-led FCC’s oversight of the internet goes into effect. Because this is Washington DC, and nothing can be simple, some of the changes don’t quite go into effect until a vote by the Office of Management and Budget in the next few days. But rest assured, the net neutrality rules as we knew them are no more.

Though many people agree with the basic principles of net neutrality, those specific rules had been a lightning rod for controversy. That’s because to get the rules to hold up in court, an earlier, Democrat-led FCC had reclassified broadband networks so that they fell under the same strict regulations that govern telephone networks.

Chairman Ajit Pai has called the Obama-era rules “heavy-handed” and “a mistake,” and he argues that they deterred innovation and depressed investment in building and expanding broadband networks. To set things right, he says, he’s taking the FCC back to a “light touch” approach to regulation.

But supporters of net neutrality, such as big tech companies like Google and Facebook, as well as consumer groups and pioneers of the internet like the creator of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, say the internet as we know it may not exist without these protections.

“We need a referee on the field who can throw a flag,” former FCC chairman and Obama appointee Tom Wheeler said last week at MIT during a panel discussion in support of rules like those he championed. Wheeler was chairman when the rules passed three years ago.

If you still don’t feel like you understand what all the hubbub is about, have no fear.  We’ve assembled this FAQ to put everything in plain English.

What’s net neutrality again?

Net neutrality is the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally, regardless of whether you’re checking Facebook, posting pictures to Instagram or streaming movies from Netflix or Amazon. It also means companies like AT&T, which is trying to buy Time Warner, or Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, can’t favor their own content over a competitor’s.

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New Documents Show Shell Predicted The Dangers Of Fossil Fuel Decades Ago

By: Josh Gabbatiss of The Independent

Oil giant Shell was aware of the consequences of climate change, and the role fossil fuels were playing in it, as far back as 1988, documents unearthed by a Dutch news organisation have revealed.

They include a calculation that the oil company’s products alone were responsible for 4 per cent of total global carbon emissions in 1984.

They also predict that changes to sea levels and weather would be “larger than any that have occurred over the past 12,000 years”.

As a result, the documents foresee impacts on living standards, food supplies and other major social, political and economic consequences.

In The Greenhouse Effect, a 1988 internal report by Shell scientists, the authors warned that “by the time the global warming becomes detectable it could be too late to take effective countermeasures to reduce the effects or even to stabilise the situation”.

They also acknowledged that many experts predicted an increase in global temperature would be detectable by the end of the century.

They went on to state that a “forward-looking approach by the energy industry is clearly desirable”, adding: “With the very long time scales involved, it would be tempting for society to wait until then before doing anything.

“The potential implications for the world are, however, so large that policy options need to be considered much earlier. And the energy industry needs to consider how it should play its part.”

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Chemo Therapy Free Cancer Fighting Vaccine Moves To Human Trials

By: Ted Andersen of SFGate

A recent Stanford cancer study that cured 97 percent of mice from tumors has now moved on to soliciting human volunteers for a new cutting-edge medical trial.

The trial is part of a gathering wave of research into immunotherapy, a type of treatment that fights cancer by using the body’s immune system to attack tumors.

“Getting the immune system to fight cancer is one of the most recent developments in cancer,” Dr. Ronald Levy, a Stanford oncology professor who is leading the study, told SFGATE. “People need to know that this is in its early days and we are still looking for safety and looking to make this as good as it can be.”

The treatment is not a true vaccine that creates lasting immunity, but it does feature a vaccine-like injection carrying two immune stimulators that activate the immune system’s T cells to eliminate tumors throughout the body.

Each test subject receives a low dose of radiation plus two rounds of the injected agents, Levy said. No chemotherapy is involved.

The treatment does not work on all types of cancer, Levy said, because each type of cancer has a different set of rules regarding how it can be affected by the immune system.

For the current trials, he is only looking for people with low-grade lymphoma regardless if they have been previously treated. He said Stanford is planning on running two trials by the end of the year with a total of about 35 test subjects.

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