Four important news stories that aren’t about Donald Trump

The BBC says the track for this new rail runs next to one with the same route, built more than a century ago. This could be a big deal for Turkey, a country that’s wanted to become a part of the European Union for decades, but has been   in part   hindered by the conflict in Cyprus. Some protesters have also tried to disrupt border rail crossings. The talks are geared toward outlining a “bizonal state with some form of central administration,” Reuters reports. Finally, East Africa
Ethiopia’s shiny new electric railway was switched on this week. Manu Prakash is one of the researchers who came   up with the idea. The device is like a disk with two strings passing through it. Donald Trump this, Rex Tillerson that. Key players are meeting at a   UN conference in Switzerland to try to hammer out a deal. The nearly 500-mile-long railway connects the Ethiopian   capital Addis Ababa to Djibouti on the Red Sea. And the twisting motion makes the disk rotate fast. China paid for the $4 billion railway that will cut travel time from three   days by car to 12 hours by train. One official said the Ethiopia to Djibouti railway will eventually link up with neighboring Sudan and Kenya. The government said protesters had delayed 11 trainloads with about 1,000 cars of merchandise headed for the US. It’s been a week of heavy news about US politics and America’s relationship with the world. It’s a centrifuge made out of cardboard, inspired by a whirligig toy made out of cardboard. It spins liquids at high speed to separate them, and doctors could use the device to separate blood samples to spot HIV or malaria. Let’s catch up now on some news that’s been bumped off the front page by all that’s going on in Washington. Let’s start with Mexico
Thousands of Mexicans marched in Mexico City this week to protest the 20 percent hike in gasoline prices that took effect on New Year’s Day. And now, let’s go to Cyprus
The island in the Mediterranean has been divided for more than 40 years: People   loyal to Turkey live in the north, and the larger Greek population lives in the south. The protests have caused looting and casualties. Now, some news about medical tech
Researchers at Stanford University have come up with a cheap innovation that could help spot diseases. Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto has called on business leaders to find ways of softening the price hike’s blow to Mexican families. He says, to his knowledge,   “it’s the fastest spinning object driven by human power.”
The researchers hope the innovation will benefit patients in parts of the world with no hospitals and no electricity. But today,   there’s talk of reunification. Russia, Russia, Russia. East African officials were on hand for the inaugural cross-border train ride, as   were Chinese officials.

Climate change is fueling a second chance for nuclear power

 
According to O’Brien’s NOVA special, a DC-based think tank called Third Way found in 2015 that more than 40 startups across the US were developing advanced nuclear power designs. Instead, O’Brien found himself chasing a very   different story about nuclear power.   Science journalist Miles O’Brien recently returned to Fukushima, Japan, for the sixth time since a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown there nearly six years ago.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. And sodium-cooled reactors generate plutonium as a waste material. “But I can’t tell you, ‘Oh yes, we’ve already been successful.’ It’s going to be many more years of hard work before we are successful.”
“So we made a crazy bet,” he says, “and we’re going to keep making that crazy bet.”
Next-generation nuclear reactors have their risks too, of course. “If you want the lights to go on 24/7/365, you kind of have to pick your poison. As fears over global warming continue to simmer, nuclear power is experiencing something of a renaissance even as the Fukushima clean-up continues. Reactors that can withstand a loss of power for longer are already being built in the search for better nuclear energy. If the reactors lose power, as they did at Fukushima,   those coolant pumps shut down, the water boils away   and a nuclear meltdown ensues.  
But a new, potentially safer, generation of reactors is also being developed by engineers and energy startups around the country. Solutions to those problems will emerge, O’Brien says, but “in the meantime we’ve got a problem that is immediate and we have some technology that could be available sooner.”
Reviving an old technology
Today, the nuclear fuel sources in most reactors are cooled by water.  
Meanwhile pollution released by burning coal and other fossil fuel power sources sickens millions each year. The highest-profile liquid sodium project is being developed by TerraPower, backed by Bill Gates and his former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold. “There are issues to work through here, but there’s no free lunch,” O’Brien says. Credit:

Courtesy of WGBH  

Now, the idea of cooling a reactor with liquid sodium is being revived by a generation of nuclear scientists and entrepreneurs who see climate change as a bigger threat than nuclear power. “From a technical perspective, we’ve solved every technical problem that’s occurred,” Myhrvold says. Maybe this is one way to do it, if we look at adopting the proper safety measures.”  
The World has been reporting on stories about the human relationships at the heart of the atomic age. “So the important question is:   Is nuclear the villain here, or is it inattention to iterating and improving the technology?”  
O’Brien reports in his NOVA documentary “The Nuclear Option,” which airs tonight on PBS stations, that 18,000 people died in the wake of the 2011 tsunami and quake in Japan, but no one has been killed by the radiation from the Fukushima meltdowns. A liquid sodium reactor operated without incident for nearly 30 years   at an Argonne National Laboratory testing site in Idaho. But nuclear power lost political support in the US after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, and the Argonne reactor was eventually moth-balled by President Bill Clinton. “If the Japanese had either closed or improved those plants in significant ways, we would not have had the meltdown,” O’Brien says. “We got scared in the ’70s and we walked away from this technology,” O’Brien says. PRI.org

O’Brien thought he would be reporting on the massive clean-up effort at the shuttered nuclear power plant, a decommissioning effort that requires 4,000 workers to suit up in Tyvek suits, three layers of socks, gloves and respirators every day.  
Some designs rely on liquid metal sodium as a coolant instead of water. Read and listen to them here. Listen to the full interview. These atomic business plans, they say, have garnered more than a billion dollars in investment. Nuclear physicist   Chuck Till at a control panel at what is now the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho.    
Solar and wind power hold promise, but storage problems mean neither can replace coal in the short term. O’Brien says that liquid metal can be volatile when it comes in contact with water. The liquid metal is better at absorbing heat, less risky when cut off from power   and doesn’t require building massive pressure chambers around the nuclear fuel, O’Brien says.

Norway begins the transition away from FM radio

Norway, generally a technology-friendly country, has been preparing for the switchover for years —   DAB and   FM   have existed side-by-side since 1995. it’s a tough ask.”  
And some governments are naturally reluctant to upset voters by forcing them to buy new radios. There are currently 22 national digital stations, along with around 20 smaller ones. Norway   on Wednesday became the first country in the world to start shutting down its   FM   radio network in favor of digital radio, a bold move watched closely by other countries around Europe.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. A poll in Dagbladet newspaper in December found 66 percent of Norwegians are against shutting down   FM, with only 17 percent in favor. “It’s taken an awfully long time,” said Simon Spanswick of the Association for International Broadcasting. Germany for example had set 2015 as the   FM   switch-off date, only to see it dumped by lawmakers in 2011. “Trying to persuade the public to invest in a new radio … Authorities also say DAB offers better coverage, allows listeners to catch up on programs they have missed and makes it easier to broadcast emergency messages in times of crisis. The   FM   spectrum has room for a maximum of only five national stations. “It’s far too expensive. But Torvmark insists the time is right. While around three quarters of the population have at least one DAB radio set, many motorists are unhappy, as only about a third of cars currently on the road are equipped. “It’s clear that when there’s a big technological change, some people ask difficult questions and are critical,” but “most listeners are ready,” he said. “It’s completely stupid, I don’t need any more channels than I’ve already got,” Eivind Sethov, 76, told AFP in Oslo. Converting a car radio involves buying an adaptor for between 1,000 and 2,000 kroner (110 to 220 euros), or getting a whole new radio. The big switch-off began in Nordland, in the country’s north, at 11:11 am (1011 GMT) on Wednesday and will expand to the rest of the country by the end of the year, making millions of old radios obsolete. PRI.org

Supporters of Digital Audio Broadcasting say DAB offers better sound quality and more channels at an eighth of the cost of   FM   (transmission, which was first launched in the US in 1945. I’m going to wait till the price of adaptors comes down before getting one for my car.”
So while the switch to digital will reduce the cost of transmission for broadcasters, it is listeners who will pick up much of the cost of the transition. The UK has not set a date but has said it will switch off the   FM   signal when 50 percent of all radio listening is digital —   the figure is currently over 35 percent —   and when the DAB signal reaches 90 percent of the population. ‘It’s too expensive’
But many think the shift is premature. Closely watched
The process will be watched closely in Europe by Switzerland, Denmark and Britain, where listeners have taken strongly to digital radio and which all plan plan to shut down   FM   radio broadcasts at some point in the future. But other countries, including France, where neither commercial nor public broadcasters have been convinced by the new technology, are lagging behind. “Every week more than 2.1 million listeners —   half of the listeners —   listen to stations that wouldn’t have existed without this technological transition.”
Part of the reason   Norway   is the first country to switch away from traditional analogue transmission has to do with topography —   it is expensive to get   FM   signals to a small population scattered around a landscape riven with fjords and high mountains. “The big difference and the main reason behind this big technological shift is that we want to offer a better radio service to the whole population,” Ole Jorgen Torvmark, the head of Digitalradio Norge, a company owned by public broadcaster NRK and commercial radio station P4.

Moscow’s long history of gathering ‘kompromat’

anyone you think you might be able to manipulate.”
“We all assume that we are kind of being looked after,” says Filipov, “somebody’s on your phone, or somebody’s on your computer, somebody’s listening to you or whatever. in what was a five-room office/apartment. Who knows. You can use it to recruit them. Listen to the full interview. It’s anything that might be going on that’s interesting,” Filipov continue. And he says all kinds of people are gathering komptomat. So they’ll record you, they’ll do surveillance, see what you’re up to. Maybe the guy they’re using it against is a friend now, but might be an enemy later.”
“So it’s various security agencies. It’s so common it even has a special name: kompromat.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. “They’ve been saying we don’t want to hack anybody, we don’t want to hurt anybody.”   “Anyone who might be an interesting figure … And that was 1994.”
Trump began visiting Russia in the 1980s. You can use it to — if it’s an official —   coax out of them positions, policy positions that you want them to have.”
Filipov is Moscow bureau chief for the Washington Post. You show up and they say,   let’s just see what this guy does. Some stuff gets in a file and maybe they can use it, maybe they can’t use it. At his news conference Wednesday, Trump acknowledged that he and everyone knew hotel rooms there were bugged. And the guy found 135 listening devices … And then individual companies and organizations have their own intelligence, and everybody is gathering it.”
“This was something former KGB officers were telling us here,” adds Filipov, “they’re not necessarily targeting you. You can use it to make them do something you want. Somebody said to me today, it’s like a vacuum cleaner. “There are more than one, as we’re all learning now, intelligence agencies in Russia. PRI.org

“Kompromat,” says David Filipov, “means ‘compromising material’ that can be used down the road as leverage over somebody. “They’ve been professing disbelief about all of it,” says Filipov. And the idea is — part of it is security —   but also just having an eye out.”
“When I was the bureau chief for the Boston Globe, after the Soviet [Union] ended,” explains Filipov, “we hired a firm to come in and see if there were any bugs in our office. The Russian security services are basically sucking everything up, which maybe someday they can use. Moscow rejects any notion that it collects compromising material on anyone. Moscow has a long tradition of gathering and using compromising material. “A high profile person comes in from the United States, goes to a hotel, we happen to have cameras in the hotel, let’s just record what’s in there, maybe he orders champagne and caviar and charges it to the Washington Post, you know what I mean?”
Anyone could be monitored: journalists and businessmen, foreign and Russian.

Kremlin spokesman says claims against Trump, printed in BuzzFeed, are ‘pulp fiction’

“The Kremlin does not have compromising information on Trump,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. He also denied allegations that the Kremlin gathered compromising information on the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, saying that “the Kremlin does not work on gathering compromising information.”
The Kremlin spokesman described the dossier as “pulp fiction,” adding that “undoubtedly you need to react to this with a degree of humor.”
But he said that it showed that “there are people whipping up hysteria in order to maintain this atmosphere of a witch hunt.”
He spoke after Trump on Twitter called the allegations “a total political witch hunt.”
The Kremlin works to “arrange relations of the Russian president with our Western partners firstly in the interests of the Russian people and secondly in the interests of global peace and security,” Peskov insisted.   The Kremlin on Wednesday denied claims that Russia gathered compromising information on US President-elect Donald Trump, saying they were aimed at damaging Moscow’s relations with Washington. He called the claims published by US media outlet BuzzFeed and attributed to a former British intelligence operative a “total fake” and “an obvious attempt to harm our bilateral relations.”
The claims are aimed at “keeping relations [with the United States] in a state of deterioration,” instead of becoming constructive, Peskov said.

Cameroon has been using witchcraft to fight Boko Haram

“I was recently alerted that two women were in possession of a bomb. These would be spiritual, not literal, accomplishments. “Regarding witchcraft, we don’t have the resources to assess the level of its impact on the ground.”
But locals believe. But there is much more left to do. Soldiers on patrol saved us.”

This 1998 file photo shows a witch doctor from Cameroon casting a spell on a soccer ball prior to a national team practice session. “One morning the terrorists entered our house,” said a 32-year-old woman who fled Kérawa, a village on the Nigerian border, with her 9-month-old baby. Another militia fighter, a 30-year-old who gave his name only as Delli, said he possessed an amulet that allowed him to turn invisible and sneak up on Boko Haram terrorists in Kérawa. “I pronounced the magic phrases and I appeared before them. The law imposes fines and prison sentences of as long as 10 years on those convicted of black magic. “When one comes to advocate the practice of witchcraft, it is because one is not sure of one’s army,” she said. Filled with supposedly magic objects and paper inscribed with verses from the Koran, Bible or other holy scriptures, gris-gris originated in Africa but are common among voodoo practitioners in the Caribbean as well. Credit:

Reuters

Ironically, witchcraft is illegal in Cameroon due to its perceived pernicious effects in tribal communities, where believers frequently cast spells in hopes of hurting their enemies. And locals in Mora, a remote mountainous district in the Far North province near Nigeria, said they would try anything to end the Islamic State’s reign of terror. “Since I have this gris-gris, I have no problem,” said Mohamad Ahmed, a gym teacher and member of a local militia in Mora, referring to a small cloth bag typically worn around the neck or wrist. “I am concerned about the consequences,” said Ngue Bong Simon Pierre, a lawyer in Douala. If someone shoots at you, the bullets have no effect. Fight for your country.”
Many viewed the move as a sign of Biya’s desperation as the jihadists continue their rampage of suicide attacks, pillaging and kidnapping throughout Cameroon, as well as in Chad and Nigeria. “We expect every village to have brilliant actions in this direction,” said Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of the Far North region of the country, echoing the president. This is very serious for the morale of the troops.”
“What is surprising,” she went on, “is that the head of state advocates the practice of witchcraft prohibited in Cameroon. “Some members of the vigilance committees now have the ability to mystically eat the hearts of enemies or make them slaves by pronouncing incantations,” said Boukar. “They murdered my husband before our eyes,” she said. “We pass the information of the higher-ups to the populations concerned,” said Toudje Goumo, a deputy prefect of the Mayo-Sava area in Cameroon’s Far North region. The three countries have made headway against the group —   some commercial routes between Cameroon and Nigeria that had been closed due to the violence have reopened, and some of the people displaced from villages near the Nigerian border have been able to return home. Women often don them for contraception. “I put it on at the moment I go into the field of fighting. “It is not up to a head of state to advocate practices of black magic in a theater of operations where it is the weapons that must inflict defeat on Boko Haram, not magicians or sorcerers. The bomb was defused.”
Still, officials don’t know if the wizardry has been working or not. So Cameroon is trying spells and curses too. I wanted to surprise them,” he explained. They fall on the ground like small pebbles.”
Ahmed noted that he has not been shot to test the charm, however. Against Boko Haram, he said his disciples could choose between magic trinkets like Ahmed’s, or vampirism. “Then they raped my neighbor before setting fire to the whole village. However, “it is well known that occult ceremonies are practiced in the political circles of Cameroon at a very high level,” said Henriette Ekwe, a Cameroonian political analyst and good government advocate. “Isn’t it possible that those responsible for performing these rites might also abuse them?”
Christian Locka reported from Yaounde, Cameroon. In the war on terror, guns and bombs just haven’t been enough. After Biya’s call to employ witchcraft against Boko Haram in January 2016, hundreds of militia fighters rushed to sorcerers, commonly called “marabouts,” to obtain lucky charms and talismans to protect them in battle. About a year ago, Cameroonian President Paul Biya urged citizens to use witchcraft against Boko Haram, the Islamic State-affiliated militants who have terrorized West Africa for years. In fact, faith in the supernatural is so strong among Cameroonians that some said they feared militia members might use magic to commit crimes or exact revenge for grievances against their neighbors. She declined to provide her name out of fear of retribution from Boko Haram militants. In the past two years, more than 1,500 Cameroonians have died in the war against Boko Haram, while the violence has displaced 155,000 people, according to the government. She maintains that the call for occult help isn’t a good sign. The fetish protects its wearer. To locals, there are two types of witchcraft: fetishism, which employs charms to harm or do good, and vampirism, in which incantations replace the physical objects. “It is so powerful,” said Ahmed. The woman, now in Mora, was a farmer in Kérawa. “We want to hear that this or that village has wiped out or limited the sect’s damage through witchcraft. How many times have we thrown old people into cells on the grounds that they are accused of practicing black magic in the villages?”
Baba Boukar, a marabout, claimed that he had studied witchcraft for years and could invoke curses and cure the sick.

Police to Trump, Clinton and Sanders: ‘Pay your bills already’

“My goal is to make sure the candidate gets in and out — regardless of money or who they are — safely.”
Sheriff John R. When a barnstorming presidential candidate sweeps into a city for a campaign rally, often on just a few days notice, if that, it’s often unclear who’s financially responsible for securing the event.  
And Trump arguably owes more. Still no response. I’ll definitely be doing my homework before late 2019.”
The Center for Public Integrity   is a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative news organization in Washington DC. In his letter, obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, McGahn disputed Rankin’s interpretation of Tucson’s contract with the Trump campaign and even criticized the Tucson police’s performance at the rally. There’s a “significant amount of ambiguity” in FEC regulations regarding what candidates must publicly disclose as debt, said Brett Kappel, a DC-based election lawyer at Akerman LLP. In Wisconsin, Green Bay officials say the Clinton campaign has yet to pay off bills from events in March, September and November totaling nearly $12,800. Toomey added that he considered taking the Sanders campaign to court for nonpayment but decided against it. ‘The City may pursue all of its remedies’
Rhetorically, Trump supports police with aplomb. They’ll then deploy officers to serve a variety of functions: crowd control, perimeter patrols, closing streets, escorting dignitaries. Three months later, it sent the campaign a debt collection letter. Some officials explained that the exercise is pointless, as campaigns over the years have rarely paid them back. When Trump conducted a last-minute rally on June 10 in Richmond, the city coughed up more than $41,000 for public safety efforts and police personnel. It had nearly $255,000 remaining it its account. I’m the one who gets skewered — the negatives are endless.”
Ultimately, the Sanders campaign gave the Upper Providence Township Police Department $2,250, and the two sides settled, Toomey said. Since Election Day, it’s been in a fight with the federal government to recoup what it says are the roughly $500,000-per-day costs of securing Trump Tower in Manhattan, where the president-elect conducts much of his transition business. But Tucson, Arizona, officials say Trump owes them $81,837 for security and traffic control services during his “Make America Great Again Rally” on March 19 at the Tucson Convention Center. During presidential candidate events, police forces and municipalities arguably provided governmental services for which campaigns — absent a contract or other security services agreement — aren’t financially responsible, said Eric Wang, a Washington DC-based election lawyer at Wiley Rein LLP and former counsel to current Federal Election Commission Vice Chairwoman Caroline Hunter. While some do, others don’t even bother. Secret Service is not funded during the appropriations process to reimburse state and local police departments assisting the Secret Service in protective operations,” Secret Service spokeswoman Cathy L. Al Sharpton and ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, remain in debt to a variety of non-law enforcement creditors. The contract also stated that convention center staff reserved the right to “increase or change its security arrangements” — and that the Trump campaign “shall promptly comply with such request” and pay any additional fees. Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier declined to comment on the other presidential candidates’ debt situations, but said Cruz, who quit the presidential race in May, put “a high value on running an organized campaign” that promptly paid vendors and creditors. That’s because the Trump campaign — despite receiving demand letters and collection notices — doesn’t acknowledge in federal campaign financial disclosures that it owes cities a cent. 20 letter, sent six months after the original bill. “The Campaign did not contract for, not did it request or arrange for the Tucson Police Department to provide public safety at the Campaign event,” wrote Deutsch, who declined to speak on the record for this story. “We, of course, would like them to pay the invoices that we sent previously,” she said. Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs declined to comment, referring questions to the Secret Service. New duties placed on law enforcement related to federal homeland security mandates, as well as difficulty securing federal funds, have also constrained city budgets, the National League of Cities wrote. Eau Claire, Wisconsin, says Clinton won’t pay a $6,812 from a visit in April.  
Many police departments would disagree: The Sanders campaign in December reported to the Federal Election Commission that it owed 23 local governments and law enforcement agencies a combined $449,409 for “event security.” In its filing, the Sanders campaign doesn’t dispute the debts. In March, as the Democratic presidential primary raged, the pro-Sanders Veterans for Bernie organization chided the Clinton campaign for local news reports indicating Clinton was slow to pay her bills for police protection. The Trump, Clinton and Sanders campaigns wouldn’t comment. It likewise boasted that the Sanders campaign showed “an understanding and respect for the challenges faced by municipalities and local police departments” by reimbursing local governments for police protection. Federal law doesn’t offer much clarity. Why bill the campaign and not the Secret Service? “We are also very appreciative when they honor their debts.”
Green Bay is no anomaly. Officials in Eau Claire are similarly steamed, noting in a Sept. Contract or not, many mayors, police chiefs and city managers say presidential candidates who profess to support law enforcement should back up their words with dollars. “You are responsible for these payments,” Tucson City Attorney Mike Rankin reiterated to the Trump campaign in a Sept. Spokane, Washington, is still waiting for Trump’s campaign to pay a bill of $65,124. Some local officials said they feared the campaigns might go elsewhere if they haggled over bills. And if a city government decides to bill a presidential campaign for its campaign-related police work? But officials at Green Bay City Hall sure do. “The Campaign has had numerous reports from people who attended the event that the on-site police officers refused to do anything to control protestors or otherwise protect attendees of the event.”
As of early January, Trump’s campaign had not paid its bill, and Tucson officials are still weighing their options. We do not give them the kind of respect that they have to have,” Trump said in a campaign video from February. Senate Appropriations Committee spokesman Stephen Worley concurred, noting that Congress also does not provide funding to reimburse state and local law enforcement agencies for presidential visits, heads of state or other high-level dignitaries. But this widespread failure to pay follows an election season when many presidential candidates — particularly Trump — argued that law enforcement deserved both more resources and more respect. Complicating cities’ collection efforts: local officials often can’t force campaigns to pay unless they signed a formal, contractual agreement with the campaigns, which many have not. 27, Trump’s campaign lawyer Don McGahn — now incoming White House counsel — wrote Rankin back. “What if I said, ‘Look, you’re on your own, have fun,’ and a fight breaks out, or something terrible happens? So … why not? “There shouldn’t be much debate about it — cities across America provided protection at a cost and should be reimbursed for it,” said Mayor John McNally of Youngstown, Ohio, which is still waiting for the Sanders campaign to pay a nearly $6,000 bill for security the city provided at a March 14 campaign event. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Tucson assigned 76 police officers to staff Sanders’ March 18 campaign rally at Tucson Arena. “Who wants to get bogged down in that?” he asked. Curiously, Clinton’s campaign did pay Philadelphia’s $8,500 security bill from a Nov. It’s a situation that, for Mayor Dwight Jones of Richmond, Virginia, is perplexing. “If you fail to remit payment in a timely manner, the City may pursue all of its remedies,” including suing the Trump campaign. While West Allis, population 60,000, didn’t bill presidential candidates for event security costs during the 2016 election, Devine says he’ll push to change that. “I received no reply,” Gossage said. Another reason for not sending bills: Local officials don’t want to dampen the economic benefits — full restaurants, busy storefronts, happy hoteliers — of an event attracting thousands of people. “I want to support them, our police officers, with the resources they need to do their jobs, to do them effectively, to learn from their efforts and to apply those lessons across our nation,” Clinton said in August during a meeting with law enforcement officials. At least three-dozen municipal governments and law enforcement agencies say presidential campaigns have ignored hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding bills stemming from police security for campaign events — from Vallejo, California, to the University of Pittsburgh. “The campaigns ought to respect a city’s decision, whatever it may be,” Stephens said. On Oct. 5 event Clinton conducted with musician Katy Perry at Mann Music Center. Back in Green Bay, Wisconsin, for example, which continues to wait for Trump, Clinton and Sanders to pay up, the Cruz presidential committee long ago settled a nearly $1,200 security bill related to Cruz campaign events in March and April, according to city records. And they’re miffed the three politicos have stiffed them on police protection bills totaling $24,000. “We are also, however, not averse to being reimbursed,” he added. But the campaign hasn’t settled up on the $9,380 security tab from an Aug. 17. Officials are about to try one more time with a “final collection letter” and “additional steps” to contact Clinton’s campaign committee. “Just because the local police departments and governments may want the campaigns to reimburse them for the additional security costs doesn’t necessarily mean that, as a matter of law, there is a ‘debt.’”
After all, if candidates had to pay (or at least publicly disclose as “debt”) any bill they received, what would stop someone, particularly scam artists or unscrupulous political actor, from attempting to bleed a campaign of money it doesn’t owe? 5 rally, and the city could not explain why. Many municipal governments “face great difficulty in purchasing necessary public safety equipment because of budget constraints,” the National League of Cities further asserted in a resolution aimed at newly inaugurated federal lawmakers. “I am concerned that the campaign was overly selective as to what service/organization they would reimburse for protective services rendered,” Gossage wrote back, noting that the Sanders campaign did pay one of its bills — all $11,472 of it — that Green Bay’s city government sent it. Cities also want Clinton, Sanders to pay
Clinton, like Trump, talked a blue streak about boosting law enforcement. On Monday, Trump marked National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day by tweeting six pictures of himself standing with police offers and other emergency personnel. In Green Bay, officials said the Trump campaign paid a $1,403 police bill for hotel security on March 29 and a $9,550 bill for an event Oct. In a July letter to Douglas Mease, special agent-in-charge of the Secret Service’s Richmond Field Office, Jones argued that his city should be compensated for the “coordinated and massive planning and operational effort by a number of local public safety agencies.”
Richmond has yet to recoup its money.  
Clinton’s campaign committee has enough money to pay its bills, having last month reported carrying a more than $838,000 surplus on its books. “They said [the bill] was exorbitant and too high, and that they didn’t ask for the manpower,” Toomey said. No luck. But officials chose to not bill the Trump campaign for them. Deciding whether to fight
A city government’s decision to invoice a presidential campaign for police and security services depends on the city government itself. But Sanders campaign lawyer Brad Deutsch, in responding to a demand letter from Tucson, argued that the Sanders campaign shouldn’t have to pay bills for services that the Secret Service — not the campaign itself — requested. “Thank you to all of the men and women who protect & serve our communities 24/7/365!” Trump wrote. Others consider police protection of political events part of their taxpayer-funded responsibilities — similar to policing a holiday parade, or a peaceful public protest. Rick Santorum, the Rev. “We appreciate, and we feel honored, when the candidates come to Green Bay,” said Celestine Jeffreys, chief of staff to Mayor Jim Schmitt. Tucson, which signed a contract with the Trump campaign, is particularly adamant.  
  And in Wisconsin, where Trump beat Clinton by fewer than 23,000 votes, city officials in Eau Claire want Trump to cough up $47,398. The Sanders campaign, in contrast, says in federal campaign filings that it owes $449,409, spread among nearly two-dozen municipalities and law enforcement agencies. Milhoan said in a statement. The Trump transition team did not respond to numerous requests for comment regarding its unpaid police protection bills or how it determined which police bills to pay or not pay. The differing approaches make it difficult to determine just how many security-related bills have been sent to the major White House hopefuls since their campaigns began touring the nation in earnest in mid-2015. It did not report police bills from Philadelphia, Green Bay or any other locality as campaign debt. 27 demand letter to Trump’s campaign that his visit on April 2 “incurred a significant amount” of costs for the city of 68,000. Because the Secret Service doesn’t reimburse local police jurisdictions, even when it asked for the help. And it’s impossible to know how many presidential candidates of yore never paid police bills they received — and never reported them as debt. “The campaign should pay for the services.”
‘Morally, it’s the thing to do’  
One presidential campaign that municipal officials across the country consistently lauded for paying its local police-related bills was that of Sen. “We do realize that our communities face unique circumstances and costs may start to become oppressive in today’s world in which all communities around the globe harbor concerns over foreign and/or domestic terrorism.”
Just ask New York City. If that fails, the matter will be sent to the city’s legal department “for collective action at the appropriate time,” said Ajeenah S. “City resources are already stretched thin without presidential candidates visiting. The charges range from calling in help from three nearby police departments to providing cops with pizzas while they stood guard throughout the day. Amir, a spokeswoman for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney.  
The March 18 contract signed by then-Trump Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski and Tucson Convention Center General Manager Glenn Grabski stipulated that the Trump campaign was financially responsible for “security, crowd and traffic personnel” that convention center staff deemed necessary. No response. Clinton campaign officials would not talk about the campaign’s nonpayment of police bills despite several calls and emails requesting comment. The only debt it reported was a $766,756 campaign polling expense that it labeled as contested in federal filings. “The U.S. While the financial condition of US cities is returning to pre-Great Recession levels of health, municipal governments last year ranked public safety costs among factors that most negatively affect their budgets, according to the National League of Cities’ 2016 City Fiscal Conditions report.  
Local cops also found themselves in the midst of numerous unruly, even violent, Trump rallies, with Trump himself sometimes directing security to eject protesters and hecklers. The cities of Santa Monica, California ($117,047), Irvine, California ($67,000), Tucson ($44,013), Spokane ($33,318) and Vallejo, California ($28,702) are listed as Sanders’ campaign’s top creditors. Who should pay for candidate safety? The Fraternal Order of Police, the world’s largest law enforcement officer organization, which endorsed Trump during the general election, also did not respond to requests for comment. Green Bay leaders are seeking $9,380. “In the interest of public safety and managing traffic, we just do the job,” said Steve Hegarty, spokesman for the Tampa Police Department in Florida. Gossage of Brown County, Wisconsin, wasn’t pleased when Casey Sinnwell, Sanders’ national director of scheduling and advance, told him to contact the Secret Service to collect on a $2,883 event security bill. Two-thousand miles away, Deputy Sheriff Christine   Castillo of the Solano County Sheriff’s Office in California says the Sanders campaign never once responded to the more than $22,100 worth of invoices it sent after staffing campaign events before the state’s Democratic primary on June 4. “The police in our country are not appreciated. “Morally, it’s the thing to do,” he said of candidates paying for local police protection. Blame Congress. Offering presidential candidates security while they speak publicly to city residents is “part of our basic public safety mission,” Barwin said.   “The senator wants to treat people well,” Frazier said, noting that paying bills “is ultimately a reflection on him.”
For his part, Mayor Dan Devine of West Allis, Wisconsin, which twice hosted Trump campaign events last year, wishes all presidential candidates would follow suit. Trump’s campaign alone hasn’t paid nearly $204,000 worth of police-related invoices, according to municipal billing records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity. Several prominent law enforcement organizations later endorsed him. Local governments almost never refuse. Scott Walker, former Sen. Through November, Cruz’s still-technically-operational presidential committee reported owing no money to anyone, including municipal governments. The Trump campaign in December disclosed having more than $7.6 million remaining in its account. Presidential campaigns asserted in communications with some city governments that they’re not responsible for many security costs. Here’s how events typically unfold: Before a campaign event, the US Secret Service, which is primarily responsible for ensuring the safety of presidential candidates, asks local police departments or other public safety agencies to assist them. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders may not remember much about the rallies they each held last year in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Sanders could conceivably pay all his police bills immediately: His campaign in December reported having more than $4.71 million cash on hand.  
Mayor Paul Finley of Madison, Alabama, estimated that his little city provided the Trump campaign $30,000 worth of city services related to a large rally in February. It should be the purview of individual municipalities to decide whether they want to bill presidential candidates for police services they provide the candidates, said Darrel Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, which represents top police officials in the United States and Canada. Devine notes that candidates often conduct campaign fundraisers before and after public events, and they receive municipal police services for them, too. What happened then? “Reasonable people could certainly dispute whether there is any disputed debt to be reported here,” Wang said. “Everyone is safer when there is respect for the law and when everyone is respected by the law.”
But Clinton’s campaign, too, has failed to pay some police bills. The campaign “was, in fact, frustrated by the refusal of Tucson Police to do anything to control the violent and angry protestors outside the Convention Center,” McGahn wrote. That’s according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal campaign disclosures and municipal invoices, as well as interviews with more than 60 local government officials. After the candidate comes and goes, the host city sometimes bills the presidential campaign for police officer overtime and other related costs. Philadelphia officials, for one, sent the Clinton campaign a $2,678 invoice for security surrounding an April 25 campaign rally at Philadelphia City Hall. Officials in Cincinnati; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Detroit; Kansas City, Missouri; Milwaukee; Las Vegas and Orlando, Florida, for example, said their municipalities generally do not bill presidential campaigns for police protection they provide at campaign events staged within their cities’ limits. “The prevailing argument has been that state and local law enforcement are responsible for protecting public safety in these circumstances, just as they would around any other event,” Worley said. “The level of security or public safety requirements anticipated for any particular event were not dictated by the campaign.”
In Pennsylvania, Chief Mark Toomey of the Upper Providence Township Police Department attempted to convince Sanders’ campaign to pay a $25,620 invoice related to a Democratic primary campaign event in April. (The Trump campaign paid up front and in full when renting Madison City Stadium.)
City Manager Tom Barwin of Sarasota, Florida, says his city also chose not to bill presidential campaigns for police protection they provided to Trump when he twice visited last year. Nor does the Clinton campaign. Many past presidential candidates, including Wisconsin Gov.

Rex Tillerson’s long, troubled history in Venezuela

Anti-Exxon, anti-America. ExxonMobil aimed to receive market value for its investments, assessed at $15 billion. But he nonetheless knows the world and is well-known on the international stage. He might compel Venezuela to honor its   international financial commitments   and act pragmatically given its situation, by privatizing confiscated unproductive industries, reducing the mandatory 60 percent   PDVSA national ownership in all oil projects and ending price controls for domestic production. Venezuela’s ties to ExxonMobil were severed in 1976, when Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Pérez sought to   nationalize the oil industry. In this scenario, the US and Venezuela might even reach an agreement to alleviate domestic food and medicine scarcity. In 2014 Venezuela was ordered to   compensate ExxonMobil   $1.6 billion. His relationship with Venezuela, the world’s   11th ranked producer of crude, has been more fraught. Today both countries are seeking a peaceful agreement to this old border dispute with   the UN Secretary General. They were reestablished in the 1990s when Pérez, in his second term, launched the so-called “Apertura Petrolera” (“oil opening”), seeking to attract foreign investment and develop the Orinoco oil belt. But when Chávez decided to re-nationalize the oil business in 2007, Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA, acquired a majority stake in domestic oil ventures. Which path will Tillerson follow with Venezuela? Having worked his way up through different positions in Exxon since 1975, he became chairman and CEO in 2006. What’s happened since, particularly during the governments of the so-called “Socialism of the 21st Century” under the successive administrations of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, does not necessarily augur well for bilateral US-Venezuela relations under Tillerson. 11, 2017. Tillerson has   no experience in government, the military or as a public servant. Any of these measures would further devastate the country’s already critical economic situation and increase the Maduro government’s international isolation. Given Tillerson’s experience and negotiating mastery, however, it is feasible that he could see beyond the radical left-wing discourse. — Donald J. Credit:

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Exxon and Venezuela: a rocky road
ExxonMobil’s history in Venezuela starts in 1921, when its predecessor, Standard Oil, set up shop there. In the second, the pragmatism and traditional interests of international business — that is, Tillerson’s own instincts — may predominate. In the first scenario, Tillerson’s ExxonMobil proclivities are set aside in the service of a relationship based on hard principles and American values of the sort the incoming US president has said he seeks to resuscitate. This position provides a familiarity with international diplomacy, expertise in managing large operations, and skills negotiating with global leaders. We’ll have to wait for his confirmation to find out. In 2000 and 2002 the Venezuelan government brought   claims to the World Petroleum Congress   about Guyana’s proffered concessions in the Essequibo. This might include increasing sanctions against Venezuelan officials (similar to those currently   in force until 2019), severing diplomatic relations or suspending or significantly reducing Venezuelan oil purchases. In September, US Secretary of State John Kerry, who supported the 2014 sanctions   levied against Venezuelan officials   (not general economic sanctions),   expressed concern. But conflicts of interest could haunt his term. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2016
These features could make Tillerson the Trump administration’s ace card, bringing an extraordinary understanding of the role oil plays in the world — particularly in Russia and China — and of how to rebuild American political power in the global arena. Political bluster or business pragmatism? ExxonMobil, by now under Tillerson’s leadership, rejected the government’s offer to pay book value for its assets, countering with a request for arbitration by the World Bank’s investment disputes settlement centre. Tillerson has close ties to Russia: In 2013 Russian President Vladimir Putin   granted him the Order of Friendship award, and a   recent leak   revealed that he once served as director of the Bahamas-based US-Russian oil firm, Exxon Neftegas. A possible future Secretary of State Tillerson could take one of two paths. Venezuelan Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez holds a paper declaring “PDVSA has beat Exxon.”

Credit:

Jorge Silva/Reuters

Another problem arose in 2015, this time under Maduro, when ExxonMobil   launched oil operations   off the coast of neighboring Guyana. But a historically troubled relationship with Venezuela, coupled with its anti-American discourse, could nonetheless bring about an aggressive US stance toward Venezuela. But of course that won’t summarily erase the relationships he has built with leaders of oil-producing countries, which stand to influence his tenure. This story was first published by The Conversation. That area lies very close to Venezuela’s Delta Amacuro state, in the Essequibo territory over which Venezuela has   asserted ownership   for more than a century. Rex Tillerson   testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing to become US   secretary of state in Washington, DC, Jan. Stay tuned! Maduro has accused ExxonMobil of trying to   destabilize   the region by siding with Guyana, while ExxonMobil has complained about the Venezuelan government trying to   turn countries against the company. “We’re very, very concerned for the people of Venezuela, for the level of conflict, starvation, lack of medicine,” he said. Credit:

Jorge Silva/Reuters

Despite the terrible situation that’s now worn on for over a year, there is no sign of policy correction. — Donald J. Traditionally, Tillerson and ExxonMobil have been against   economic sanctions as international policy. Or, to quote Trump:
I have chosen one of the truly great business leaders of the world, Rex Tillerson, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, to be Secretary of State. The weaknesses of Venezuela’s economic model —   a political-ideological project in which the country was able to leverage oil to buy domestic and international support — have   been brought into stark perspective. Meanwhile, Esso Exploration and Production Guyana Ltd, an ExxonMobil subsidiary, has declared that it will continue developing the region, which is part of a $200 million, 10-year contract between Esso and the Guyanese government. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2016
Whether I choose him or not for “State”- Rex Tillerson, the Chairman & CEO of ExxonMobil, is a world class player and dealmaker. This raises questions about how a Tillerson-run State Department would engage the crisis-stricken, oil-rich South American country. After dismantling the private domestic productive apparatus (creating absolute dependence on oil exports) and weakening state institutions, Venezuela now has insufficient fiscal revenues, massive debt, a debilitated currency on the road to hyperinflation, scarcity of basic products — plus skyrocketing crime, legal insecurity, political imprisonments, social unrest   and so on. International companies were initially compelled to cease drilling, but in 2012 operations resumed. Oil and the Venezuelan crisis
Venezuela is now facing the worst chapter of history since its 19th century civil war, and is experiencing a   major humanitarian crisis   — despite having enjoyed the greatest oil boom of its history during the first decade of this century. If Rex Tillerson, former CEO of ExxonMobil and President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, is confirmed by the   Senate, he has agreed to   sever all ties   with the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company. The Maduro government blames an   imperial economic war, wherein the US is highly culpable, along with the local oligarchy.

Watch live: Donald Trump’s first press conference since election

Although the Texan embodies Trump’s ideal of a globetrotting deal-maker, he has come under suspicion from the president-elect’s opponents for close ties to Putin. The dossier
Without corroborating its contents, BuzzFeed published a 35-page dossier of memos on which the synopsis presented to Trump is based. 20. “The Kremlin does not have compromising information on Trump,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling journalists. Trump called it more evidence of a political witch hunt to delegitimize his November victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, with nine days to go before the 70-year-old billionaire takes office. The Kremlin spokesman called the dossier a “total fake” and “an obvious attempt to harm our bilateral relations.”
No more rule book
No other US president-elect in modern times has waited so long to go formally before the media, considered important to shore up public accountability, yet Trump has reveled in ripping up the rule book. Washington’s feud with Russia will be scrutinized even further at the Senate confirmation hearing — also on Wednesday — of former ExxonMobil boss Rex Tillerson as Trump’s pick for secretary of state. Even before the allegations surfaced widely in US media on Tuesday, reporters had been expected to grill Trump over his ties to Russia after the US intelligence community concluded Moscow interfered in the November election in a bid to tip the race in Trump’s favor. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”  
Trump called the situation “a sorry state.”
“I win an election easily, a great ‘movement’ is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS,” he said. “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. While he has conducted one-on-one interviews with select media and taken questions from reporters in informal settings, his performance at the press conference will be scrutinized, as polls show his already bleak approval ratings deteriorate further as the clock ticks down to inauguration day on Jan. US President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday furiously denied explosive claims that Russian intelligence has gathered compromising personal and professional information on him, hours before he faces the media for the first time since his election win. “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. They also suggest Russian officials proposed lucrative deals in order to win influence over the real estate magnate. The news conference at Trump Tower will be the president-elect’s first in nearly six months. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” he said on Twitter. The memos, which had been circulating in Washington for months, describe sex videos involving prostitutes filmed during a 2013 visit by Trump to a luxury Moscow hotel, supposedly as a potential means for blackmail. The Kremlin has dismissed the dossier — drawn up by a former British intelligence agent hired to do “opposition research” on Trump during the presidential campaign and published by US media outlet BuzzFeed — as a “total fake” aimed at damaging bilateral ties. Trump was reportedly informed of the existence of the dossier — and its salacious details — last Friday when he received a briefing from US intelligence chiefs on alleged Russian interference in the presidential election. Watch his remarks live here, starting at 11:00 am EST:

Intelligence chiefs last week presented America’s incoming 45th president, as well as current President Barack Obama, with a two-page synopsis on the potentially embarrassing but unsubstantiated allegations, according to CNN and The New York Times, who cited multiple unnamed US officials with knowledge of the meeting. The New York billionaire, never previously elected to office, has preferred to make off-the-cuff statements, punch out incendiary tweets and call out anyone who dares cross him — from Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep to an Indiana union leader. The classified two-page synopsis reportedly included allegations that there was a regular flow of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and Russian government intermediaries, which a Trump aide denied.

Watch live: Rex Tillerson’s Senate confirmation hearing

He also hit out at China, warning that the Asian power pursues its “own goals” and has not sufficiently helped rein in a nuclear-armed North Korea. “Our NATO allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia,” he said, adding that the United States “must also be clear-eyed about our relationship with Russia.”
“Russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests,” he said. And Trump, himself a billionaire businessman with property interests around the world, was impressed. Beijing is a close Pyongyang ally and is seen as critical in helping contain the pariah state’s nuclear activities. The Democratic minority in the Senate will try to make life difficult for Trump’s cabinet nominees, and a handful of Republicans have raised concerns about Tillerson’s candidacy. “The thing I like best about Rex Tillerson is that he has vast experience at dealing successfully with all types of foreign governments,” Trump tweeted. We have to deal with what we see, not what we hope,” Tillerson said. Until he stepped down from ExxonMobil on New Year’s Eve, Tillerson was also director of Exxon Neftegas, an affiliate that operates the Sakhalin-1 field in Russia’s Far East. The former ExxonMobil chief executive’s remark in his opening statement came against a backdrop of controversy over alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election and his own close ties to President Vladimir Putin. The US parent firm was chasing greater investments in Russia, including Arctic fields, and Tillerson was a familiar and popular figure in Moscow, winning his medal from Putin in 2012. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, acknowledged Wednesday that Russia poses an international danger and that its recent actions had “disregarded” US interests, as he faced a Senate grilling. “To achieve the stability that is foundational to peace and security in the 21st century, American leadership must not only be renewed, it must be asserted,” he said. But the former oil executive said disagreements with Beijing on some issues should not preclude “productive partnership” on other matters. “While Russia seeks respect and relevance on the global stage, its recent activities have disregarded American interests,” Tillerson told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, without offering specifics. Tillerson’s ties to Russia have faced scrutiny. But he stressed that as Washington’s top diplomat, he will conduct a more robust US foreign policy than in recent years. ‘Vast experience’
Republican former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and secretary of defense Robert Gates — whose consulting firm has worked for ExxonMobil — recommended the 64-year-old Tillerson to Trump. Watch the ongoing hearings live here:

Tillerson, whose entire professional career has been in the energy industry, has faced criticism for negotiating with several authoritarian leaders around the globe in his decades with Exxon. But on Wednesday, Tillerson admitted Russia had taken “illegal action” with respect to Crimea. If just three Republicans jump ship, Tillerson could be among the first and most high-profile victims of the spat, despite heavyweight players mobilizing in his support. “China has proven a willingness to act with abandon in the pursuit of its own goals which at times has put it in conflict with American interests. “It has not been a reliable partner in using its full influence to curb North Korea,” he added. This made ExxonMobil under Tillerson a staunch opponent of US and international sanctions against Russia for its aggressive behavior in Ukraine, where it annexed the Crimea region. Trump has publicly stated he would like closer US ties with Russia and Putin, but Tillerson appeared keen to assure lawmakers, including some skeptical Republicans, that he will hold a tough line on Moscow.

As Mexico struggles with a down economy and corruption, protesters take to the streets

Protesters are taking to the streets throughout Mexico to express their outrage over an increase in gas prices, corruption scandals plaguing the country, and the plummeting peso, which hit record lows last week.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. Elisabeth Malkin, Mexico correspondent for The New York Times, says demonstrations are growing throughout the country. “The question is really how far will he go in keeping his campaign promises, because if he does, that will have a huge impact on Mexico, especially renegotiating or even tearing up the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has brought a lot of investment to Mexico and has created jobs.”
Though he hasn’t officially taken office yet, Trump’s influence has already reached south of the border. “There was another protest again [in Mexico City] [Monday], and there are protests on the border. “People are being asked to sacrifice, but there’s a sense that politicians have continued in their corrupt ways,” she says. On top of all this is the question of President-elect Donald Trump. It’s really been quite widespread.”
Though people are taking to the streets and to social media with the hashtag #Gasolinazo to protest a 20 percent increase in gas prices, Malkin says the fuel demonstrations have actually come to symbolize a myriad of issues. The Trump Administration plans to put more economic pressure on Mexico and build a wall along the southern US   border, something that could make the situation in Mexico worse. “Now, it’s unclear really how much President-elect Trump’s threats and bullying on Twitter was the reason for that, it also has to do with the market for small cars — Mexico’s really become a center for producing small cars. Listen to the full interview. PRI.org

Meanwhile, the popularity of President Enrique Peña Nieto continues to sink, with his approval ratings dropping below 25 percent. “Mexico has seen a number of corruption scandals that have cost hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. “On Saturday for example, there was a protest in Mexico City, and a much bigger one in Mexico’s second city of Guadalajara,” she says. People are saying, ‘Wait a minute. “There’s a great deal of anxiety here about the Trump presidency,” says Malkin. But if we see more of that, that’s of great, great to Mexicans.”
This story first aired as an interview on PRI’s The Takeaway, a public radio program that invites you to be part of the American conversation. “Last week, we saw an announcement that Ford would cancel a planned new assembly plant here,” Malkin says. We’re being asked to sacrifice and the prices of our ordinary lives are going up, and yet the government seems to be unwilling to do anything about all of the money that’s been stolen?’”
On Monday, Peña Nieto announced an agreement to ease the fiscal burden on ordinary families, but the plan lacked concrete details, Malkin says.

Army musicals from World War II brought back to the stage

The musicals are collectively known as “Blueprint Specials.” Most of the songs were written by Frank Loesser between   1944 and 1945   before he found fame with the hit musical “Guys and Dolls.”
Tom Ridgely with the   Waterwell Theater Company   is the director who brought the Specials   back to life. However, “for the people who have served recently, I think they really see their experience reflected in these in a really, really powerful way, and they’ve been really open and candid about sharing that with us, which has been incredible.” The musicals hold up well through time even though   Ridgely says they contain a lot of old-timey language. Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. And that just really surprised me and so, I started to try and track it down.”
He found there were “scores and scripts and   instructions about how to do scenery and costumes.” He found   choreography instructions, too. The notes and drawings were “done by a young [man named] José   Limón.” Limón had been drafted into the Army in 1943 and after the war founded the famed   Limón   Dance Company. Listen to the full interview. PRI.org

They were designed for the soldiers themselves to perform in the field. he went to the Army and wrote this musical called ‘Hi Hank!’ … He came across these lost musicals while cooking dinner one night. For the past few days, some of those   shows have been performed for the first time since the war. The stage is not on Broadway, but another venue in New York City: a   former aircraft carrier, now docked on the Hudson River and known as the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum. “The opening song for ‘Guys and Dolls’ just kind of popped into my head,” Ridgely says, “so I just googled Frank Loesser and then his Wikipedia page says … During World War II, the US Army came up with an idea to boost soldier morale:   musicals.

Obama is the first president to author an article in Science magazine

The same day the article was published, Secretary of State John Kerry made a similar argument in a speech on climate change and business investment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “Never before,” Kerry said, “has the elimination of such a significant threat actually presented such an extraordinary level of opportunity.”
The Science article is the third the president has published in top academic journals in the past week. The Obama administration also launched a number of high-profile scientific initiatives, including those on precision medicine, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. The article, published Monday, argues that the clean-energy revolution is irreversible and highlights the economic benefits of cutting carbon emissions and investing in renewable energy.  
Past high-profile authors in the journal   include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and Prince Albert of Monaco. He wrote on criminal justice reform   in the Harvard Law Review and defended his Affordable Care Act in the New England Journal of Medicine. Obama writes that “evidence is mounting that any economic strategy that ignores carbon pollution will impose tremendous costs to the global economy and will result in fewer jobs and less economic growth over the long term.”
The article mentions President-elect Donald Trump by name and seems tailor-made to appeal to the business sensibilities of Obama’s White House successor. In an eleventh-hour attempt to cement his legacy on climate change and dissuade his successor from scrapping his policies, President Barack Obama published an article   in a top academic journal, Science, this week.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. The president’s chief scientific adviser John Holdren, who helped shape Obama’s keystone climate change policies,   is said to have had the ear of the president more than in any other White House in recent history. PRI.org

Science editors say, according to their records, he is the first sitting US president to author an article in the peer-reviewed journal. The publications in peer-reviewed journals highlight Obama’s academic approach to policy.

There’s a small but booming black market near the US-Mexico border … for doughnuts

They make daily cross-border trips from Juarez to the Krispy Kreme store in El Paso, where they buy 40 dozen or so assorted doughnuts, which they sell to their Juarez customers at a modest markup. When the doughnut franchises started coming to Mexico back in 2004, Linthicum says, “People went wild and to this day if you actually get on a flight flying from Mexico City to a more provincial part of the country, you’re likely to see multiple passengers toting boxes of Krispy Kremes for their family back home.” But Mexico does not do doughnuts well. The goods   here are Krispy Kremes. The US-Mexico border area — especially near the cities of El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico — has something of a reputation for crime.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. “There’s the churro, there’s the sopapilla, there’s the buñuelo, which is this fritter-like delicious goodness. But hold on. Garcia usually sells out. PRI.org

El Paso and Juarez have served as transit points for criminal gangs trafficking in guns and illegal drugs. On any given night in Juarez, you can find Sonia Garcia and her son selling doughnuts out of the trunk of their car.  
“One by one, they fork over fistfuls of cash to Sonia Garcia, who reaches into the trunk of her car and hands over the trafficked goods,” she continues. It’s a family affair, so they’ve been affectionately nicknamed the “Krispy Kreme Familia.”
Sales are brisk. The black market doughnuts of Juarez: Meet the “Krispy Kreme Familia” https://t.co/NwYHdOTE2e pic.twitter.com/WTHD217uB2
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) January 10, 2017
“Mexico does not lack when it comes to fried sugary dough,”   says Linthicum. Sugary, glazed doughnuts. Linthicum isn’t talking about drugs or guns. “The addicts pull up just after nightfall near a sedan parked along a busy street in this border city best known for murder,” writes Los Angeles Times reporter Kate Linthicum, describing a typical scene in Juarez. … They tend to be dry and not up to American doughnut standards.”  
And it seems that residents of Juarez, like many Mexicans, are obsessed with Krispy Kremes.

Worried about its future, this former East German city recruited Syrian refugees

Gabriela Thomas, director of the elementary school in Golzow gives a student a hug between classes in the main hallway. “But they saved our school. People lost their jobs. And that’s thanks in part to two girls from Syria. The documentary film project aired on German television for decades, right up until 2007. And so were some of their new neighbors. They told me, all in all, they feel very lucky. Thomas said that she and the town mayor, Frank Schütz, decided it was clear what they needed to do: go find some refugee families with school-aged kids to move to Golzow. Rasha said she hopes to go back to university and Ahmad plans to get work laying tile. The school, which last year was in danger of not having enough students in some grades to hold classes, played a big role in the series. So really, they have given us more than we have given them.”   Ahmad and Rasha Haimoud are a married couple with four kids. From 1961 until 2007, the filmmaker Winfried Junge created a series of documentaries called “The Children of Golzow,” in which 18 residents of Golzow were filmed at regular intervals from childhood into adulthood. And the population of Golzow had dwindled to the point where it looked like it wouldn’t be able to sustain its only elementary school. That’s because of a TV show. “The big agricultural commune here closed. There was an awkward moment when Rasha realized most of the snacks include pork. Much of the former East Germany has been in economic decline. Thomas said her two Syrian students are doing very well in school. PRI.org

But not Golzow. If you mention Golzow, people all over Germany will know about the elementary school there. Haimoud’s family is one of three Syrian refugee families that moved to the village in the last year. They told me they make the two-hour drive to Berlin twice a week to get halal meat and other foods they’re used to putting on the table. Credit:

Shane McMillan  

The Haimouds moved to Golzow back in February, so this was their first Christmas in their new hometown. It was a lively —   and full —   classroom. The town invited the Muslim families to their annual Christmas concert as a sign of welcome to the rural community on the Polish border. But they were planning to get their children presents. It followed the same group of kids into adulthood, starting at Golzow elementary. And they brought the laughter of children to our village. The Haimouds are one of three Syrian families who relocated to this village in the past year or so. After the performance, Ahmad and Rasha mingled with some of their neighbors. Credit:

Shane McMillan

“We are very thankful to Germany,” Ahmad said in Arabic, as Rasha translated into German. As a Muslim couple, originally from northwestern Syria, it’s unsurprising   that they’d never spent any time in a church before. The night I visited the village with a population of about 800, 5 or so miles from Germany’s far eastern border with Poland, the annual Christmas concert was happening. They’ve been here less than a year and they’re speaking German with ease. Last year, there were barely enough kids for a full first-grade class. Students work on an assignment at the elementary school in Golzow. Schütz says he was happy to accept the families into their community as it allowed the city to fill then-empty apartments, avoid converting a nearby sports-facility into a refugee shelter, and help to   keep the local school open. Credit:

Shane McMillan

Just ahead of the holiday break, I stopped by Thomas’s fourth-grade English class. This was especially important after state authorities raised the prospect of closing the school. But he said they’ve come around. The Syrian families are living in houses that were empty not long ago, and they don’t have to pay rent for now. Ahmad Haimoud speaks with Golzow mayor Frank Schütz following a holiday concert and reception at the village’s small Protestant Church. And together, the refugees are helping to save the one place that makes this small German   village somewhat famous. Mayor Schütz said, at first, some of the locals were against the idea of letting Muslim refugees move in. Every seat in the tiny Lutheran church in the town center was filled. It turns out that Golzow is thankful too. “The problem goes back to the days after the [Berlin] wall came down,” said Gaby Thomas, the director of the elementary school, where she also teaches English. Credit:

Shane McMillan

A total of eight Syrian kids helped fill enough seats to keep up enrollment and maintain class sizes. When someone asked, they said they didn’t have a Christmas tree at home. “We have given the refugees a new home,” Schütz said. A member of Golzow’s Protestant Church greets Rasha Haimoud following a holiday concert. They all have lots of kids. But they said they are settling in well. Thomas says that the children of the refugee families are already fitting into her school very well. For two members of the audience, this was something very new. But all that notoriety could not save the school from a harsh reality. Credit:

Shane McMillan

In 1961 an East German film crew started following a class of first graders. They are both taking German language classes. Many towns in the former East Germany have told the federal government that they would prefer not to be asked to resettle refugees, who’ve entered Germany by the hundreds of thousands in the last couple of years.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. Younger folks started moving to the cities, and suddenly there were empty houses,” Thomas said. “We came here for the future of our kids,” she added.