POTUS nearing a decision on whether to pull U.S. from Paris climate deal, breaking ranks with more than 190 countries

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What you need to know about the Paris Agreement on climate change

 The Paris Agreement is an international agreement to lower worldwide greenhouse gas emissions in order to mitigate climate change. Here’s what you need to know.(Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)

This story has been updated.

President Trump is nearing a final decision on whether to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, with one White House official saying Wednesday that the president is leaning toward an exit but three others cautioning that he has not reached a verdict.

The matter has deeply divided the administration for months. Ivanka Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have urged the president to remain in the deal, and White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt have been pushing for a withdrawal.

[Whatever Trump decides on Paris, he has already taken the U.S. out of the climate game]

A withdrawal would put the United States in the same camp as Nicaragua and Syria: a tiny group of countries refusing to participate in the almost universally supported Paris climate change agreement.

Trump added to the intense speculation about the future of the agreement Wednesday morning, tweeting that his decision will be announced “over the next few days.”

Later in the day, he again stoked the uncertainty during a brief appearance with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the White House. He told members of the White House press pool that he would have a decision about the Paris agreement “very soon.”

“I’m hearing from a lot of people, both ways,” he said.

More than 190 nations agreed to the accord in December 2015 in Paris, and 147 have since formally ratified or otherwise joined it, including the United States — representing more than 80 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

A U.S. withdrawal would remove the world’s second-largest emitter and nearly 18 percent of the globe’s present-day emissions from the agreement, presenting a severe challenge to its structure and raising questions about whether it would weaken the commitments of other nations.

[These experts say it may actually be best if the U.S. left the Paris climate agreement]

Trump has already, through executive orders, moved to roll back key Obama administration policies, notably the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, that comprised a key part of the U.S.’s Paris promise to reduce its emissions 26 percent to 28 percent below their 2005 levels by 2025.

As of 2015, emissions were 12 percent lower, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The Paris decision has deeply divided the administration, with internationalists, such as Tillerson, arguing that it would be beneficial to the United States to remain part of negotiations and international meetings surrounding the agreement, as a matter of leverage and influence.

Conservatives, such as Pruitt, have argued that the agreement is not fair to the United States and that staying in it would be used as a legal tool by environmental groups seeking to fight Trump environmental policies.

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Noose Found in National Museum of African American History and Culture – Lorraine Boissoneault May 31, 2017

This marks the second such incident within a week on Smithsonian grounds

“The Smithsonian family stands together in condemning this act of hatred and intolerance, especially repugnant in a museum that affirms and celebrates the American values of inclusion and diversity,” wrote secretary of Smithsonian Institution David Skorton in an Institution-wide email. (Smithsonian Institution )
an hour ago

On Wednesday afternoon, tourists visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture found a noose in an exhibition on segregation. Park police came to investigate and removed the noose, and the exhibit gallery was reopened within three hours, Smithsonian officials said.

“The noose has long represented a deplorable act of cowardice and depravity—a symbol of extreme violence for African Americans. Today’s incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African Americans continue to face,” wrote Lonnie Bunch, the director of the museum, in an e-mail to staff.

The disturbing incident comes only four days after a noose was found hanging from a tree outside the Hirshhorn Museum. The investigation into the noose found at NMAAHC is ongoing, but the public and staff have been assured that the museum is safe.

“The Smithsonian family stands together in condemning this act of hatred and intolerance, especially repugnant in a museum that affirms and celebrates the American values of inclusion and diversity,” wrote the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution David Skorton in an Institution-wide email. “We will not be intimated. Cowardly acts like these will not, for one moment, prevent us from the vital work we do.”

These ominous reminders of America’s dark history with lynching have appeared around the country, from a school in Missouri to a series of four nooses hung around a construction site in Maryland. Other nooses have been found on the Duke University campus, the Port of Oakland in California, a fraternity house at the University of Maryland, a middle school in Maryland, and at a high school in Lakewood, California.

All of them seem to be part of a larger wave of violence, intimidation and hate crimes. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, more than 1,300 hate incidents were reported between the 2016 election and February 2017. Of those 1,300, anti-immigrant incidents have been the most prevalent, followed by anti-black.

“We haven’t seen such mainstream support for hate in decades, not since the Civil Rights era 50 years ago,” said SPLC spokesperson Ryan Lenz. “We’re witnessing a moment when there are tremendous challenges to the country that we built on pluralism and democracy. The civil rights accorded every American are firmly under threat.”

Bunch closed his email with the assurance that, “We will continue to help breach the chasm of race that has divided this nation since its inception.”


Uber Posts $708 Million Loss as Finance Head Leaves – Greg Bensinger May 31, 2017 7:15 p.m. ET

Gautam Gupta’s exit sets the stage for a second major executive search at ride-hailing firm

The ride-hailing company on Wednesday told The Wall Street Journal first-quarter revenue was $3.4 billion, up 18% from the fourth quarter.

The ride-hailing company on Wednesday told The Wall Street Journal first-quarter revenue was $3.4 billion, up 18% from the fourth quarter. Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Uber Technologies Inc. said its head of finance is leaving as the ride-hailing company reported continued big losses despite growing revenue, adding to an exodus of top officials and setting the stage for a second major executive search.

The ride-hailing company on Wednesday told The Wall Street Journal first-quarter revenue was $3.4 billion, up 18% from the fourth quarter. Its loss, excluding employee stock compensation and other items, was $708 million, narrower than the $991 million reported three months earlier.

The company, which has raised some $15 billion in equity and debt funding, said it still has $7.2 billion of cash left on hand, about the same as it had at the end of last year.

Uber is privately held so it isn’t required to release financial results, but since April has begun offering a glimpse as it considers an eventual initial public offering. It didn’t release year-ago results. “The narrowing of our losses in the first quarter puts us on a good trajectory towards profitability,” an Uber spokesman said.

Uber said its head of finance, Gautam Gupta, 37 years old, is leaving the company in July to join another startup in San Francisco. The company declined to disclose the name of the startup or comment further.

Since 2015, Uber has been without a chief financial officer after Brent Callinicos took on an advisory role and left to join transportation startup Hyperloop One the following year. Mr. Gupta, who joined Uber in 2013, served under Mr. Callinicos as head of finance but wasn’t elevated to the financial chief position.

Uber said it would now search for a chief financial officer, putting it in the delicate position of hiring two top deputies for Chief Executive Travis Kalanick while grappling with a series of scandals. The hires could prove pivotal if the world’s most valuable startup, which is valued by its investors at nearly $70 billion, hopes to one day win over Wall Street.

Since early March, when Mr. Kalanick said he needed management help, the company has interviewed candidates for its first chief operating office, interviewing executives from companies including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Walt Disney Co. , The Wall Street Journal has reported. Uber has declined to discuss specifics of the search.

So far this year more than a dozen executives and top managers, many reporting to Mr. Kalanick, have either resigned or been fired by Uber while the company has come under intense scrutiny, sparked by a report from a former female engineer alleging pervasive sexual harassment and sexism. The alleged conduct, which Mr. Kalanick condemned,​prompted a broad investigation into its workplace led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. A formal report​ is ​set to be released next week.

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To Make Your Conspiracy Theory Legit, Just Find an ‘Expert’ – Emma Grey Ellis May 31, 2017

Scenes During the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland
Dina Litovsky/Redux

“MIT Professor Exposes ‘Egregious Error’ & Evidence Tampering in US Report on Syria Sarin Incident.” Pretty good headline, right? You’ve got a qualified expert from a prestigious university, discussing verifiable facts; even if you’re a born skeptic, you’re going to head into that news story with at least a crumb of trust in its accuracy. Maybe, you think, this expert knows something everybody else missed about April’s chemical-weapons attack in a rebel-held part of Syria—the one many nations accused Syrian president Bashar al-Assad of having ordered. But in this case, at least, that trust would be misplaced.

Part of the issue is the media outlet that ran the story. RT is a state-funded Russian propaganda outlet that, like its mother country, openly backs Assad. But the second issue is harder to spot: The MIT professor in question, Theodore Postol, isn’t a sarin gas chemistry expert. He’s not even a chemist. The chemical evidence he presented to RT was came from pro-Assad YouTuber and Infowars contributor Maram Susli. And while Postol has freely admitted that the (debunked) science he cites is not his alone, the fact the he’s serving as the mouthpiece is no coincidence. (Postol did not respond to our request for comment.)

In some neighborhoods of the internet, all it takes to start a conspiracy theory is Photoshop, a webcam, and confidence. Susli—aka PartisanGirl—has thrived in that environment, parlaying a college chemistry degree and a series of conspiracy-minded YouTube videos into a new kind of internet authority. But when conspiratorial musings bubble up into the mainstream web or cable news, it’s not because Don Lemon or Ashleigh Banfield took PartisanGirl seriously. To make it in the major leagues, a conspiracy theory—or any other kind of hoax—has to find a voice with a mainstream claim to credibility. A voice like Postol’s.

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Kabul Car Bombing Kills At Least 80 People, Injures Hundreds More : The Two-Way : NPR

Security forces inspect near the site of a massive explosion where the German Embassy is located in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday.Rahmat Gul/AP

Updated at 7 a.m. ET

A huge car bomb explosion killed at least 80 people and wounded more than 350 others in Kabul’s diplomatic zone, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health says. The attack struck a busy neighborhood in the Afghan capital just before 8:30 a.m., during Kabul’s morning commute.

The bomb was detonated near Zanbaq Square outside the Green Zone, according to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission, which adds that Afghan security forces kept the car bomb from entering the Green Zone, “but the explosion caused civilian casualties in the vicinity.”

Source: Kabul Car Bombing Kills At Least 80 People, Injures Hundreds More : The Two-Way : NPR