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December 7, 2017
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On Wednesday, the Veterans Affairs Department released an annual survey showing that the number of homeless veterans rose 1.5 percent in 2017 versus 2016, the first increase since 2010. Also on Wednesday, Politico reported that VA Secretary David Shulkin has decided to end a $460 million program to provide housing for homeless vets.

The VA had quietly announced the decision to end the program, administered with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in September, but faced blowback when officials brought up the decision in a Dec. 1 phone call arranged by Shulkin's Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans. Veterans' advocates, state agencies, and even HUD officials attacked the decision, five people on the call tell Politico. VA officials briefed congressional staffers on Tuesday, and all 14 members of the Senate appropriations VA subcommittee asked Shulkin to reconsider the decision. One of the senators, Patty Murray (D-Wash.), called the move "a new low" for the Trump administration and "especially callous and perplexing" given the rising number of homeless vets.

In a statement Wednesday evening, Shulkin said "there will be absolutely no change in the funding to support our homeless programs," and he "will solicit input from our local VA leaders and external stakeholders on how best to target our funding to the geographical areas that need it most." The VA decided to shift the funds from the program — in which HUD gives housing vouchers to veterans and VA connects vets with apartments and manages their cases — to local VA hospitals, who can use the money as they see fit, as long as they deal with homelessness.

The defunded program has served 138,000 vets since 2010 and roughly halved the number without housing, Politico says, citing HUD data. "The people in this program are the most vulnerable individuals," says Matt Leslie at Virginia's Department of Veterans Services. "If someone's going to die on the streets, they are the ones." Peter Weber

6:56 p.m. ET
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Through his "Make Our Planet Great Again" grants, French President Emmanuel Macron has changed the lives of 18 climate scientists, including 13 from the United States, who otherwise struggled to secure funding for their research.

Macron announced the grants just hours after President Trump said he was withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate accord in June. Originally, the grants were just going to go to Americans, but more than 5,000 researchers from 100 countries applied, with projects on clouds, hurricanes, and pollutions that are expected to last around three years — covering the rest of Trump's first term. "If we want to prepare for the changes of tomorrow, we need science," Macron told the winners Monday in Paris, adding that France will replace U.S. financing of climate research.

One of the winners is Camille Parmesan of the University of Texas at Austin, who will work at an experimental ecology station in the Pyrenees to see how climate change is affecting wildlife. Knowing Macron is standing up for science "gave me such a psychological boost, to have that kind of support, to have the head of state saying I value what you do," Parmesan told The Associated Press. Catherine Garcia

5:14 p.m. ET

The New Yorker announced Monday in statement that it would no longer be working with reporter Ryan Lizza, due to potentially inappropriate behavior:

Lizza was The New Yorker's Washington correspondent for 10 years as well as a frequent on-air contributor for CNN. Shortly after The New Yorker made its announcement about Lizza, CNN said in a statement that Lizza "will not appear on CNN while we look into this matter."

Lizza became something of a sensation over the summer after he received a surreal phone call from then-White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, in which Scaramucci unloaded on then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen Bannon in rather colorful language. Scaramucci was fired four days after Lizza published details of their conversation.

In a statement to Politico's Michael Calderone, Lizza claimed that The New Yorker's decision "was a terrible mistake" and denied that he'd acted improperly. Kelly O'Meara Morales

4:56 p.m. ET

Three people were injured Monday when a man detonated an explosive in a Midtown Manhattan subway station. The suspect, identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah, was wearing "an improvised, low-tech explosive device" that he "intentionally detonated" around 7:20 a.m. ET Monday morning in the subway station below the Port Authority Bus Terminal, New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill said.

Ullah, who is of Bangladeshi descent and lives in Brooklyn, was taken into custody after the blast. He sustained the most serious injuries, though he and the three injured passersby all escaped life-threatening harm. Ullah apparently told police he constructed the explosive at his workplace, while CNN reported, citing an unnamed law enforcement official, that Ullah may have been motivated to act by Israeli aggression.

In response to the attack, Attorney General Jeff Sessions blamed America's "failed immigration policies." He said in a statement that Monday's explosion, along with the truck-based attack in October near the Hudson River in Lower Manhattan, were due to policies that "do not serve the national interest," like "the diversity lottery and chain migration."

"It is a failure of logic and sound policy not to adopt a merit-based immigration system," Sessions said, adding that a merit-based policy would mean "welcoming the best and the brightest and turning away not only terrorists, but gang members, fraudsters, drunk drivers, and child abusers." Read his full statement below. Kimberly Alters

4:12 p.m. ET
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A nuclear energy executive who used to work with former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn claims that a whistleblower gave inaccurate information about an alleged text exchange that occurred during President Trump's inauguration, Politico reported Monday. Last week, Politico reported that a whistleblower wrote in July to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, about text messages Flynn had allegedly sent during the inauguration ceremony to Alex Copson, the managing partner of ACU Strategic Partners.

Flynn, who advised ACU, a nuclear energy investment firm, between 2015 and 2016, apparently told Copson that sanctions against Russia would get "ripped up" upon Trump's ascent to the Oval Office. Per the whistleblower, Flynn also wrote in a text that ACU's plan to build a dozen nuclear plants in the Middle East with Russian partners was "good to go."

On Friday, Thomas Cochran, a top adviser for ACU, wrote in a letter to Cummings, "The only text message Mr. Copson received on Inauguration Day came at 1:49 p.m.," directly contradicting the whistleblower's claim that Copson showed off a text sent by Flynn at 12:11 p.m. that day. Cochran claimed that because Copson "did not receive a text message from General Flynn during the inauguration, other allegations of the 'whistleblower' are equally false and unfounded."

Cummings responded Friday directly to Copson, asking him to appear before Oversight Committee staff for an interview. He poked holes in Cochran's logic, saying Copson could have provided an incomplete transcript of exchanged messages, or that communications could have occurred over an encrypted messaging service.

Cummings also questioned why Copson wasn't speaking for himself: "It appears that your colleague [Cochran] is suggesting that you did not meet the whistleblower at all and that you had no conversation relating to General Flynn," Cummings wrote to Copson. "It remains unclear why your colleague sent this letter rather than you." Kelly O'Meara Morales

3:29 p.m. ET

President Trump signed a directive Monday aimed at refocusing "America's space program on human exploration and discovery." The directive signals the administration's intention to send "American astronauts back to the Moon, and eventually Mars," spokesman Hogan Gidley clarified earlier in the day to Reuters.

Despite America having already checked the moon off its to-do list in 1969, Trump said "this time we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprint, we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars and perhaps someday to many worlds beyond." Watch Trump's full comments below, and read James Poulos explain why the most important thing Trump can do is take us to Mars at The Week. Jeva Lange

3:12 p.m. ET

The White House responded to several of President Trump's accusers coming forward on Monday for a "round two" of sexual harassment allegations by saying that the "American people knew this and voted for the president" anyway.

The White House has firmly and continually denied that Trump sexually harassed women even though U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told CBS on Sunday that Trump's accusers "should be heard." In a statement Monday, the White House added: "These false claims, totally disputed in most cases by eyewitness accounts, were addressed at length during last year's campaign, and the American people voiced their judgment by delivering a decisive victory."

In response to a question on the same topic Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said: "In this case the president has denied any of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses and several reports have shown those eyewitnesses also back up the president's claim in this process. And again, the American people knew this and voted for the president and we feel like we're ready to move forward in that process."

Despite denying the women's accusations, Sanders also said: "This took place long before [Trump] was elected president. People of this country had a decisive election, supported president Trump, and we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process." Watch below. Jeva Lange

2:39 p.m. ET

The America First Project, a self-described super PAC of attack dogs for President Trump's agenda, sent a 12-year-old girl from Virginia to interview Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in a move described by Bustle as "somewhat questionable." Moore is accused of having pursued, and in one case assaulted, teenage girls as young as 14.

The America First Project's Jennifer Lawrence says in the video that "after everything that's happened in this Alabama Senate race up until this point, we thought it was important … to bring Millie [March] here to show that there's a wide range of people who support Judge Roy Moore." It's not the first time the young interviewer, Millie March, has appeared in an America First Project video — her rave review of Trump's agenda at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) went viral last February.

March wanted to know if Moore would help Trump build the wall, what issues are important to Alabama voters, and what characteristics make a good senator. Some parts went better than others:

Watch the full interview below. Jeva Lange

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