IADB President Luis Moreno on misperceptions of Latin America
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At 9 a.m. today on NBC, Megyn Kelly will conduct a live, sit-down interview with three women who have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct: Jessica Leeds, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks.
A news release for "Megyn Kelly TODAY" say the women "will share their claims, which President Trump has denied, and stories together for the first time on television."
Trump is having a #MeToo moment. The accusers, whose stories got little attention in the fracas of the campaign, suddenly have more of a platform:
Trump could be called to testify in a lawsuit in New York state by Summer Zervos, a former "Apprentice" contestant who charges Trump groped her in 2007. Trump's lawyer is arguing for immunity, saying that a trial would improperly interfere with his duties as chief executive. The L.A. Times reported on Dec. 5:
The response ... During the White House briefing on Oct. 27, Sarah Sanders was asked: "At least 16 women accused the President of sexually harassing them throughout the course of the campaign. Last week, during a press conference in the Rose Garden, the President called these accusations 'fake news.' Is the official White House position that all of these women are lying?"
Be smart: Sen. Al Franken said he will resign, based on charges by fewer women. Trump will brush it off, and virtually every elected Republican will have his back. But as the past hours show, these women won't go away silently.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio / Axios
Meanwhile, fraud, theft and other mischief threatens the first bitcoin futures trading, which began last night, per the Wall Street Journal. The futures price for January bitcoin surged to $18,850 at one point early today and twice triggered a halt to trading.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios
The world's biggest oil and natural gas companies are inching toward greener businesses, driven by a handful of market and policy trends.
Why it matters: The shift shows that global oil companies see cleaner energy technologies as sound investments, not merely greenwashing and public relation stunts. The changes, underway at most international oil producers and particularly pronounced among European firms, are happening even as President Trump's policies are heading in the other direction.
"I think these actions will persist and perhaps strengthen," said Sarah Ladislaw, director of the energy and national security program at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Their investors and shareholders care about how they position relative to this future. That tipping has happened and is driving these changes and is unlikely to go away."
The trends are affecting the think tanks that work with and get funding from industry. CSIS launched a new series of events this year exclusively on climate change, with foreign government and companies participating. Australia-based BHP Billiton — one of the world's biggest mining, oil and natural gas companies — is among the participants in the series next year, according to Ladislaw and the company.
Small but notable shifts
The shifts are slow and investments small compared to continued new investments in oil, which industry executives say are needed to replace depleting resources and keep up with global demand.
In 2016, renewable energy projects received about 3% of the $100 billion in total annual spending by the five biggest oil and gas companies, according to the energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie. The firm began tracking such investments after the 2015 Paris deal when the oil industry became more vocal about green investments.
Exxon, among the biggest publicly traded oil producers in the world, is researching longer term technologies closely aligned with its core businesses, like algae-based transportation fuel. A spokesman said the company has spent about $8 billion researching and developing lower-emission technologies since 2000, compared to spending $1 billion per year in total R&D.
"We are going wider, which is an element of increasing," said Vijay Swarup, vice president of research and development at Exxon, when I asked him if Exxon was increasing its spending on lower-carbon technologies. "We need more options. Our approach to R&D is we go wide before we go deep, and we don't talk about it until we have something worth talking about."
These shifts and investments aren't satisfying most environmentalists. Some activists are working to stop all production and transportation of fossil fuels, while others that work with industry say operational changes ring hollow without lobbying that urges Congress and the Trump administration to support measures accelerating the shift to lower-carbon technologies.
"We've never been able to get any details from any of the companies, 'OK, you say you support this, but what is your specific lobbying spending that shows you're actually following through on this?' " said Andrew Logan, who directs the oil and natural gas program at Ceres, a group that urges more sustainable investments.
The trend toward lower-carbon investments is primarily occurring among the most global of the world's oil companies. Companies with U.S.-based operations are instead seeking to cut costs and focus on making their products as efficient as possible. But even domestic firms see the writing on the wall, experts close to the companies say, because the driving global shifts aren't slowing.
The verdict from Carlos Pascual, a senior vice president for global energy at IHS who works with the oil industry: "Regardless of the directions of the Trump presidency, American energy companies recognize there are global trends moving toward greater electrification and changing structure of demand."
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as we learn more.
The NYPD is responding to reports of an explosion of unknown origin at 42nd Street and 8th Ave, #Manhattan. The A, C and E line are being evacuated at this time. Info is preliminary, more when available. pic.twitter.com/7vpNT97iLC— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) December 11, 2017
The use of rape by Myanmar's armed forces has been sweeping and methodical, AP found in interviews with 29 Rohingya Muslim women and girls now in Bangladesh.
Why it matters: "The testimonies bolster the U.N.'s contention that Myanmar's armed forces are systematically employing rape as a 'calculated tool of terror' aimed at exterminating the Rohingya people."
More from AP's Kristen Gelineau:
"An analysis of [EPA] enforcement data by The New York Times shows that the administration has adopted a more lenient approach than the previous two administrations — Democratic and Republican — toward polluters," Eric Lipton and Danielle Ivory write on the front page:
Why it matters: "The gains have alarmed U.S. analysts, who say North Korea — which has doggedly pursued weapons of mass destruction of every other variety — could quickly surge into industrial-scale production of biological pathogens if it chooses to do so."
Details of prorgram expansion:
Robert Mueller and his team are focusing on the days after White House officials were told Michael Flynn was vulnerable to Russian blackmail, NBC News' Carol Lee and Julia Ainsley report, citing "two people familiar with Mueller's investigation".
Why it matters: This means Mueller's team could be working to determine if Trump obstructed justice and is likely seeking out what President Trump knew about Flynn's conversations with former Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, and subsequently, when Trump learned Flynn lied about them.
That period: January 26 to February 13, 2017.
The focus reportedly includes interviews with White House Counsel Don McGahn, who briefed Trump and senior White House staff about Yates' report that Flynn had lied to White House officials on January 26 and that he was vulnerable to Russian blackmail, according to Sean Spicer. That included Flynn's lie to Vice President Pence, which is what Trump cited in his firing statements.
Saudi Arabia will allow movie theaters to open in the country next year for the first time since the 1980s, per the AP. The government hopes to open 300 theaters with 2,000 screens by 2030, paving the way for a new industry — though it’s unclear what movies might play and edited they might be.
Why it matters: It’s part of a continuing social modernizing push to attract international investment by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has announced an end to a ban on women driving and allowed rock concerts to be held in Saudi Arabia. That’s happening in conjunction with his controversial corruption crackdown, which is set to seize hundreds of billions from prominent businessmen for ailing Saudi coffers.
Be smart: While some of his deregulation has been bipartisan, his big-ticket proposals have divided the agency and the nation. He's actively courted fans of President Trump's populist rhetoric and inspired scorn on the left.
Ascension and Providence St. Joseph Health are in discussions to merge, which would create the largest hospital system in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reports citing people familiar with the merger talks. The combined system would have 191 hospitals, numerous clinics and roughly $45 billion in annual revenue.
Why it matters: Although the Ascension-Providence deal is not guaranteed, it shows how health care has turned into the Wild West for mega-mergers. CVS Health is buying Aetna, Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health are merging, and Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care are combining, among other deals. Yet, research shows mergers don't lower health care costs or improve care for patients.
With President Trump's announcement on Jerusalem lighting up the Middle East, Vice President Mike Pence embarks Saturday on his first trip to Israel since taking national office.
The vice president will be gone for a week, with stops in Egypt and Germany:
The takeaway: A key theme for Pence's remarks and interviews will be U.S. efforts to stop persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the region.
Paul Winfree is leaving the White House, according to a senior administration official with knowledge of the decision. Winfree, who declined to comment, has resigned from his position as Deputy Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and Director of Budget Policy.
Winfree, a respected policy wonk with strong ties to the conservative movement, is the second senior official to announce a departure in three days. Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell told colleagues she's leaving to return to her family in New York.
What Winfree has been telling friends and colleagues: