The Trump administration has reacted to reports that the Earth is going to heat up to life-threatening levels very quickly not by disagreeing with that conclusion, necessarily, but rather embracing fossil fuels because we're doomed anyway. And there is one fossil fuel that President Trump likes above all, the dirtiest one. "We are back," Trump told a crowd in West Virginia in late August, unveiling his new plan to shore up ailing coal-fired power plants. "The coal industry is back."
It doesn't seem to be, though, despite Trump's earnest efforts. On Thursday, the U.S. Energy Information Agency reported that estimated U.S. coal production dropped 2.7 percent from the previous week and 3.3 percent from a year earlier. Year-to-date, the EIA said, total U.S. coal production is 2.8 percent lower than during the same period in 2017. Trump essentially slowed coal's decline when he took office, but the long downward slide continues.
In 2010, the U.S. had 580 coal-powered plants that provided 45 percent of U.S. energy generation, and now there are fewer than 350 coal-power plants; the EIA forecast Thursday that coal will generate 28 percent of America's energy in 2018 and 27 percent in 2019. Thirty-six coal-fired plants have been shuttered since Trump was elected, and 30 more have announced their retirement. About 53,000 people work in the U.S. coal industry, an uptick of maybe 1,000 since Trump took office, but the industry employed as many as 883,000 workers at its peak, back in 1923. Today, more people work at Arby's or bowling alleys than in coal, and solar power employs more than 260,000 Americans.
"It would be difficult for any president to reverse the long decline in coal mining," CNBC says, explaining some of the economic and environmental factors behind coal's slow slide toward niche status. You can read more about the withering coal industry in this explainer from The Week. Peter Weber
China's detention of religious and ethic minorities, notably Uighur Muslims, is "largest internment of civilians in the world today," outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Monday night. "It may be the largest since World War II," she added, labeling the arrangement "straight out of George Orwell."
"At least a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been imprisoned in so-called 're-education camps' in western China," Haley reported, accusing Beijing of using torture to force them "to renounce their religion and to pledge allegiance to the Communist Party."
China on Tuesday responded with its most significant defense of the camps to date, tacitly admitting detainees are held at length against their will. Shohrat Zakir, chair of the government in the Xinjiang autonomous region where many Uighurs live, told state-run media the facilities are "humane" vocational training centers with amenities including air conditioning, sports, and movie screenings. He described them as a useful tool for opposing "terrorism and extremism."
"Today's Xinjiang is not only beautiful but also safe and stable," he said. "No matter where they are or at what time of the day, people are no longer afraid of going out, shopping, dining and traveling." Zakir is himself an ethnic Uighur. Bonnie Kristian
A rising star in the Republican Party is dangerously close to losing her seat in the House.
A University of Utah poll released Monday shows that Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) and her Democratic opponent, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, are now tied. Each candidate has 46 percent support, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. Another 8 percent of those polled remain undecided.
This is the first major poll released in the Utah congressional race that shows Love without any advantage over McAdams, reports Real Clear Politics; she previously held a lead of at least three points. In fact, the same poll in June found that Love held a six-point advantage over McAdams. Love hasn't lost her Republican support, notes the Tribune, rather, McAdams has been more successful at picking up undecided voters. Love told reporters on Monday that she didn't believe the poll and that she normally "runs five points ahead of what the Tribune" finds.
Love was elected in 2014 as Congress' first black Republican woman, and she easily won her re-election in 2016. Real Clear Politics lists Utah's 4th Congressional District as one of 30 toss-ups in the midterms. Democrats are vying to win 23 seats in order to take control of the House.
The University of Utah's poll was conducted by speaking to 403 registered voters from Oct. 3 to Oct. 11. The margin of error is 4.3 percentage points. Brendan Morrow
WWE is not altering its plans to hold an event in Saudi Arabia amid mounting criticism from fans and reportedly even its own employees.
Some wrestlers on WWE's roster are uncomfortable performing at Crown Jewel, a wrestling pay-per-view event scheduled for next month in Saudi Arabia, reports Sports Illustrated. This follows the disappearance of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who went missing after arriving at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month. The Saudi government is reportedly preparing to report he was killed during a botched interrogation after weeks of claiming no knowledge. Turkey says it has evidence Khashoggi's body was dismembered.
Khashoggi's disappearance has prompted various forms of corporate protest — JPMorgan Chase pulled out of an upcoming business conference in Saudi Arabia, and a Hollywood talent firm has threatened to return a $400 million Saudi investment. WWE fans are watching closely, but the wrestling company simply said in a vague statement to the New York Post that it continues to "maintain an open line of communication" with its wrestlers and will "monitor the situation."
WWE first held an event in Saudi Arabia earlier this
Secretary of Defense James Mattis isn't going anywhere just yet.
Mattis told reporters on Monday that Trump has assured him he is "100 percent" behind him, per CBS News. This came after Trump told 60 Minutes on Sunday that it "could be" that his secretary of defense will leave the administration because "I think he's sort of a Democrat."
In response, the retired four-star Marine Corps general told reporters that he has actually never registered for a political party, and his "portfolio is bipartisan." He also said he and the president have "never talked" about the possibility of him leaving the administration.
60 Minutes' question for Trump came following reports that Trump and Mattis' relationship had grown strained; The New York Times reported in September that the president has "soured on his defense secretary" and is "increasingly concerned that he is a Democrat at heart." With such a high turnover rate in the Trump administration, this has naturally raised the question of whether Mattis is on his way out, but for now, he says he's "on [Trump's] team." Brendan Morrow
If President Trump ever gets tired of referring to Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas, Tucker Carlson just offered him a bunch of offensive new nicknames.
The Fox News host during a segment on Monday night referred to Warren using a whole slate of Native American-themed insults, including "Lie-
Carlson wasn't impressed with Warren's DNA test, though, saying the results only show that she might be "about roughly as American Indian as every white person you've ever met, which is to say not American Indian at all." The Fox News host then said that Warren had appointed herself the "head of the #MeSioux movement" with these claims, having "leveraged" Native Americans' suffering to "climb the greasy pole of our fake meritocracy."
Later in the show, Carlson also floated the idea that Warren may have paid The Boston Globe, which found "ethnicity was not a factor in her rise in law," for their coverage of her DNA test. He asked, "Are they taking payment directly from her or is it just a kind of moral payment?” Brendan Morrow
The high-profile Senate race in Texas is gathering steam with a Tuesday night debate in San Antonio between Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and Democratic challenger Rep. Beto O'Rourke, and President Trump set the date Monday for his promised rally with Cruz in Houston — Oct. 22 in the 10,000-seat NRG Arena. And also Monday, the independent Fire Ted Cruz PAC released a new ad from Austin director Richard Linklater, once more featuring actor Sonny Carl Davis. Only this time, he was talking about hamburgers.
Davis started with the Cruz campaign's odd attack on O'Rourke as a "Triple Meat Whataburger liberal." "What does that even mean, Ted?" he asked. "I mean, everybody I know in Texas likes Whataburger." But that was nothing compared with Davis looking pained at Canadian-born Ted Cruz professing his love for White Castle burgers: "There's not a White Castle within 900 miles of Texas, Ted. Maybe up in Canada, huh? But not in Texas."
Fire Ted Cruz is not affiliated with the O'Rourke campaign. This ad, like Linklater's last Sonny Carl Davis spot, is not exactly what you'd call issues-oriented, but it's arguably slightly less ridiculous than some of the attacks on O'Rourke from Cruz and his campaign. Early voting in Texas starts Monday. Peter Weber
Turkish crime scene investigators spent nine hours searching the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul on Monday night and Tuesday morning, gathering evidence in the disappearance of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A team of about 10 Turkish investigators left the consulate at 5 a.m., followed 90 minutes later by a Turkish prosecutor and, a little later, a Saudi team, Reuters reports. The Turkish investigators carted away soil samples, a metal door from the garden, and other forensic evidence.
Turkish officials, who say they have proof that a Saudi team murdered and dismembered Khashoggi when he visited the consulate for marriage-related paperwork on Oct. 2, acknowledged the difficulty of finding useful evidence 13 days after the alleged crime.
VIDEO: A team of Turkish police investigators and prosecutors leaves the Saudi consulate in Istanbul after conducting an eight-hour night-time search pic.twitter.com/EiOQKr9NVD
— AFP news agency (@AFP) October 16, 2018
The Saudis agreed to let Turkey inspect the consulate only after Saudi King Salman and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke Sunday. Still, "hours before the Turkish forensic team arrived, journalists photographed a cleaning crew entering the consulate, hauling buckets, mops, and what appeared to be bottles of cleaning solution," The Washington Post reports. "When the Turkish investigators entered the consulate, some wearing white protective gear, they 'smelled chemicals had been used,' according to two officials in contact with the investigators."
Also Tuesday morning, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Riyadh for meetings with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the behest of President Trump. The Saudis, who have denied involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance, are now planning to claim he was accidentally killed during a botched interrogation by a Saudi intelligence operative dispatched by the crown prince to question the mildly critical journalist or spirit him to Saudi Arabia, according to reports in The New York Times and CNN. Some U.S. officials fear the Turks will play along in exchange for Saudi loans. Peter Weber