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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The Tale of Two Killers in Orlando and France Shows How ISIS Operates Today – Jared Malsin/Istanbu June 15, 2016


“It’s just an open casting call for anyone who wants to perpetrate violence”

Investigators work the scene following a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando Florida, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTX2FUWT

Investigators work the scene following a mass shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando Florida, U.S. June 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri – RTX2FUWT

One was an American private security guard with a history of domestic violence and no known criminal record. The other was a French ex-convict who had served two and half years in prison on a terrorism recruitment charge. But the propaganda arm of ISIS claimed both men—Omar Mateen and Laruossi Abballa—as “soldiers” after they committed murder in their respective countries.

The divergent profiles of the people claiming to kill in the name of ISIS underscores how the group embraces a broad spectrum of potential foot soldiers, whether or not they have prior contact with the group or a deep commitment to its ideology.

Read More: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Trump and ISIS Depend on Irrationality

Undated photo from a social media account of Omar Mateen
Handout/ReutersAn undated photo of Omar Mateen, identified as the gunman in mass shooting at a gay club in Orlando, Fla., released on June 12, 2016.

Omar Mateen, the gunman who killed 49 people at a gay club in Orlando on Sunday, falls into the category of attackers acting in ISIS’ name without any known operational ties to the group. Other attackers, like Abballa, who stabbed two police officers to death in their home outside of Paris on Tuesday, follow a more familiar path to a jihadi-inspired attack, one that included personal contact with other would-be militants and time served in a Western prison system.

As information continues to surface, a more complex picture of Mateen’s motivations has emerged. Bar patrons said Mateen had frequented the Pulsenightclub before his attack. His ex-wife says he may in fact have even been gay. These descriptions of Mateen as a man who drank alcohol and may have struggled with his sexuality provide an awkward counterpoint to ISIS’ efforts to claim the shooter as a “soldier” of its puritanical caliphate—and the efforts of some in the U.S. to claim that Orlando was an ISIS attack.

Read More: Everything We Know About the Paris Knife Attacker Inspired By ISIS

Nevertheless, ISIS has endorsed both Orlando and the double murder in Paris through their official media arm. There’s a good reason for that—ISIS is losing ground in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Iraq, and analysts say it is seeking to reverse an image of decline and defeat by claiming spectacular acts of violence, even if the group had little to nothing to do with them.

“It’s just an open casting call for anyone who wants to perpetrate violence,” says Clint Watts, a former FBI counterterrorism agent and a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. “They’re desperate for success, but it works when there are people willing to do it.”

Two days after the massacre in Orlando, Florida, 25-year-old Laruossi Abballa stabbed to death an off duty police captain and his partner, also a police official, at their suburban home in the town of Magnanville, outside of Paris. He then sat down and broadcast a live video on Facebook in which he proclaimed his allegiance with ISIS. The couple’s three-year-old son sat behind him. According to news reports, Abballa gestured at the child. “I don’t know what to do with him,” he said.

Read More: What to Know About ISIS’s Role in the Orlando Shooting

A photo taken off Facebook shows an undated photo of Larossi Abballa, 25, who stabbed a policeman repeatedly outside the latter's home in Magnanville, a northwestern suburb of Paris on June 14, 2016.
AFP/Getty ImagesA photo taken off Facebook shows an undated photo of Larossi Abballa, 25, who stabbed a policeman repeatedly outside the latter’s home in Magnanville, a northwestern suburb of Paris on June 14, 2016.

Like Mateen, Abballa had also announced his support for ISIS at the last possible moment, speaking into his phone at 8:52 p.m. local time, shortly before he was killed by police special forces responding to the attack. Abballa’s message appears to have been very specific. He said he was responding to an appeal for attacks issued in May by ISIS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani.

Abballa was one of a group of men jailed in 2013 as a part of a plot to send militant recruits to Pakistan. At the time of his trial, he was quoted in Le Monde saying that his interest in militancy began when he was unemployed and lacking direction in life. “I needed recognition,” he said. He began to spend time with a group of men who spoke of jihad constantly. His former girlfriend told French radio that he became even more religious following his release from prison.

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Violence in Paris as Strikes Continue – Vice News Published on Jun 14, 2016


One of France’s largest and most hardline trade unions, the CGT, organized a mass demonstration in Paris on Tuesday. The protest was in reaction to a new labor reform law, which the government claims will make France’s economy more dynamic. Union leaders, however, describe the law as a sell-out to management that would encroach on the workplace rights of employees.

Tuesday’s events saw thousands of demonstrators storm the streets of the capital. Protesters hurled stones at police officers, smashed windows, and lobbed Molotov cocktails. Police officers, in turn, arrested over a dozen of activists, after firing volleys of teargas and using a water cannon to break up groups of rioters.

The protest comes at an exceedingly tense moment for France. The country has been under a state of emergency since the November 2015 terror attacks. Compounding the tension, hundreds of thousands of soccer fans have come to the country for the Euro 2016 Championships.

Watch “Quick Hit: Paris Labor Protests Turn Violent” – http://bit.ly/1UtjfPJ

The Palestinian Pathway to Paris – By Grant Rumley June 2, 2016


What the Negotiations Say about the Peace Process

The Clean Energy Revolution – By Varun Sivaram and Teryn Norris May/June 2016 Issue


Fighting Climate Change With Innovation

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at May 7, 2016 6.00

As the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris came to a close in December 2015, foreign ministers from around the world raised their arms in triumph. Indeed, there was more to celebrate in Paris than at any prior climate summit. Before the conference, over 180 countries had submitted detailed plans to curb their greenhouse gas emissions. And after two weeks of intense negotiation, 195 countries agreed to submit new, stronger plans every five years.

But without major advances in clean energy technology, the Paris agreement might lead countries to offer only modest improvements in their future climate plans. That will not be enough. Even if they fulfill their existing pledges, the earth will likely warm by some 2.7 to 3.5 degrees Celsius—risking planetary catastrophe. And cutting emissions much more is a political nonstarter, especially in developing countries such as India, where policymakers must choose between powering economic growth and phasing out dirty fossil fuels. As long as this tradeoff persists, diplomats will come to climate conferences with their hands tied.

It was only on the sidelines of the summit, in fact, that Paris delivered good news on the technology front. Bill Gates unveiled the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of more than two dozen wealthy sponsors that plan to pool investments in early stage clean energy technology companies. And U.S. President Barack Obama announced Mission Innovation, an agreement among 20 countries—including the world’s top three emitters, China, the United States, and India—to double public funding for clean energy R & D to $20 billion annually by 2020. Washington will make or break this pledge, since over half of the target will come from doubling the U.S. government’s current $6.4 billion yearly budget.

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Europe’s Terror Fears Won’t End with the Arrests of the Likely Last Paris and Brussels Attackers – Vivienne Walt/Paris @vivwalt April 8, 2016


A photo of the "man in the hat" presented by Belgian federal prosecutors shows a suspect wanted in connection with the March 22 attacks in Brussels during a press conference at the Federal Prosecutor office in Brussels, Belgium, April 7, 2016.

A photo of the “man in the hat” presented by Belgian federal prosecutors shows a suspect wanted in connection with the March 22 attacks in Brussels during a press conference at the Federal Prosecutor office in Brussels, Belgium, April 7, 2016.

Belgian police on Friday arrested the two only attackers believed to have survived last month’s bombings in Brussels and the killings in Paris last November, in a major advance towards smashing the terror network that has left the Europe reeling for months. And while the arrests brought a palpable sense of relief to E.U. officials, it also raised worrying questions about how the men managed to evade a Europe-wide dragnet for so long.

Until their arrests in a Brussels suburb on Friday afternoon, the two men—Mohamed Abrini, 31, and 23-year-old Osama Krayem—were Europe’s most wanted fugitives, considered hardened operatives of ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for both the Brussels attacks on March 22, which killed 32 people, and the Paris attacks on November 13, which killed 130. Belgian officials said a total of five people were arrested.

While Belgian police finally had something to celebrate—the force has been heavily criticized for failing to prevent the Brussels attacks—there was no assurance that the network had been dismantled. The fact that the two men were among the few survivors of the attacks in Brussels and Paris—almost every other known attacker blew himself up—has led to speculation among police and E.U. officials about whether they intentionally remained alive, in order to plot further attacks on the continent.

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Jewish Leaders in Paris Speak of Community in Fear – Vice News Published on Apr 5, 2016


In the wake of recent terror attacks in Europe — several of which targeted Jewish institutions — some politicians and religious leaders have predicted an exodus of Jewish people from the continent. In some ways, the numbers stack up. Last year, a record 8,000 Jews arrived in Israel from France — with another 15,000 coming from Eastern Europe.

But some critics argue that reports of Jewish flight are overblown; they accuse Israel of taking advantage of fears in Europe to attract new immigrants and serve the interests of the Israeli state. “We are preparing and calling for the absorption of mass immigration from Europe,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in February 2015. “I would like to tell all European Jews and all Jews wherever they are: Israel is the home of every Jew.”

In this extra scene, VICE News heads to Paris to speak with representatives from the Jewish community about a reported rise in anti-Semitism in the French capital. We talk to the director general of CRIF, an umbrella group of Jewish organizations, who says anti-Semitic attacks have increased and Jewish parents are pulling their children out of public schools. He also suggests that mosques in France should be monitored by the French government.

Watch “Europe’s Jewish Exodus (Full Length)” – http://bit.ly/1pEVs3r