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Good morning and happy Friday! Let's celebrate with some dated pop music GIFs as we head into the weekend . . .

What the House climate vote does and doesn't mean

Forty-six House Republicans joined Democrats Thursday to protect language in defense policy legislation that calls climate change a "direct threat" to national security and requires new Defense Department analysis of its effect on the military.

Why it matters: Bipartisanship on climate has been in short supply for years in the Beltway, and Thursday's vote provides a lift for advocates hopeful that Republican views on the importance of global warming are shifting.

Reality check: There's still a massive gulf between the parties on climate change, and scant evidence that GOP lawmakers or the White House are open to the emissions-cutting policies that many Democrats support, such as direct regulation of industrial greenhouse gas emissions or the implementation of carbon taxes.

Read more here.

From Amy’s notebook: On climate deal, using words to say nothing

My Axios colleague Amy Harder has a look at new comments by President Trump and a White House official...

Trump's overtures on re-negotiating the Paris climate deal appear to be nothing more than words, and even those words offer little for observers to judge.

Driving the news: Speaking in Paris on Thursday, Trump repeated lines he has used a lot about this topic: "Something could happen with respect to the Paris accord. We will see what happens."

Get smart: Trump is leaving the door open to re-negotiate a climate deal with passive and vague statements like that. But he's not looking through the door, not talking about walking through it, and not talking to anyone on the other side of it. All signs today suggest he will never walk through the door.

One level deeper: A White House official told reporters that the prospect of re-negotiating the Paris deal did not come up in discussions with G20 counterparts during the recent meeting in Europe, where the Paris accord was a point of contention between the U.S. and the rest of the G20 nations. If this idea of re-negotiation was going to gain traction, the G20 meeting was an obvious starting point.

What's next: The White House aide said it was the job of administration officials to develop potential pathways for how the Paris climate deal could be fairer to the U.S., a key issue for Trump. When the official was asked whether such a pathway existed, the official responded: "I think that's a 'stay tuned' kind of question and answer."

Trump’s Russia defense: fossil fuels

Trend watch: Trump is ramping up his defense against suggestions that he's the Kremlin's preferred occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., by increasingly pointing out his energy policies. As Amy noted yesterday, Trump says his energy goals collide with Russia's heavy reliance on energy revenues.

On message: Now, Trump's remarks to reporters on Air Force One made public yesterday show him test-driving the same defense in extended remarks on energy and Russia.

  • "If Hillary is there, you're going to have a far less amount of fuel. Therefore, energy prices will be much, much higher. That's great for Russia," Trump said en route to Paris on Wednesday night.

Later in the session, he added: "What was the first thing I signed when I got in? The Keystone Pipeline, and the Keystone Pipeline goes from Canada all the way through our country right into the Gulf, and the ships are there to take it all over and compete with Russia."

To be sure: Hillary Clinton's State Department promoted U.S. natural gas exports as a way to boost Europe's energy security and ease dependence on Russia.

Geopolitics: A new Carnegie Europe post offers a range of views about the risks involved in the shifting geopolitics of Europe's reliance on Russian energy and the prospect of diversifying suppliers.

Update: the fight over deep decarbonization

On the record: The Interchange, one of Greentech Media's podcasts, has an in-depth chat with Stanford's Mark Jacobson, lead author of controversial research that argues the U.S. can obtain 100% of its energy from wind, solar, and hydro sources by 2050.

  • Jacobson's work is the subject of a deeply critical, high-profile paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by several respected energy and climate experts, who say his research suffers from errors and faulty assumptions.
  • The challenging but civil, hour-plus interview gets into several of the controversies over Jacobson's research, including his conclusions about the prospects of massively scaling up hydropower from existing dams.
  • Jacobson also argues that his work has been examined through too narrow a lens, arguing that it's not just about cutting carbon but also a pathway to a system that avoids various environmental problems and health risks.

In his words: "We are trying to address air pollution — four-to-seven million people every year die from air pollution worldwide, including 65,000 in the U.S. — global warming, and energy security. It's trying to minimize land-use, and other environmental impacts...This is really the difference between a lot of our studies and a lot of these other studies, which are looking primarily at just carbon."

Why private equity isn't challenging Buffett for Oncor

Axios' Dan Primack, an expert in all things private equity, has an interesting post about a big, unfolding story in power industry finance. Take it away...

There have been some questions as to why private equity isn't challenging Warren Buffett's bid for electric grid giant Oncor, either on its own or in tandem with Oncor creditor Elliott Management (which says it is seeking financing for a rival bid). Three basic explanations, per private equity sources:

  • Synergy: Buffett is doing this deal via Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which means he can find strategic synergies that pure financial bidders can't.
  • History: Texas regulators have blocked Oncor sales twice before, and would take a particularly dim view of private equity getting involved – given its past (disastrous) involvement with Oncor's parent Energy Future Holdings.
  • Size: Even if private equity overcame each of those aforementioned concerns, it may still have difficulty with financing. Buffett is offering around $9 billion in cash, and few private equity firms can afford equity checks in excess of $2 billion (and even that's a stretch).

On my screen: lobbying, oil, EVs

Lobbying: Sempra Energy has brought on The Duberstein Group to work on "energy issues," tax reform, and trade, a newly posted filing shows. In solar news, REC Silicon has tapped Smirnow Law for representation on trade issues.

Finding oil: Forbes chats with the CEO of Talos Energy, one of the companies behind a major new shallow water discovery on the Mexican side of the Gulf of Mexico. The find is being heralded as a sign that Mexico's decision to open up its state-run oil sector to outside players is bearing fruit.

Electric cars: Bloomberg's Liam Denning has an interesting look at how auto companies should think about the projected rise of EVs that remain just a tiny share of the market.

  • Historical warning: "Kodak's ultimately doomed focus on its leading position in film and, conversely, International Business Machines Corp.'s prescient exit from the commodifying PC business are business-school cliches. But they're cliches for a reason. Companies disregard marginal change and retreat to the comfort of their historic strongholds potentially at their peril."

More on EVs: Reuters reports that "Global automakers have urged China to delay and soften planned quotas for sales of electric and hybrid cars, saying its proposals will be impossible to meet and would severely disrupt their businesses."

Nuclear power: Axios' Shannon Vavra has an in-depth look at cyber-intrusions at U.S. nuclear power plants.

Aramco IPO: The New York Times' DealBook section explores Britain's efforts to host Saudi Aramco's massive planned IPO next year, "with regulators unveiling proposals on Thursday that aim to make it easier for state-owned companies to list on the London Stock Exchange."


Trump admin bans CDC from using certain words like "fetus"

Outside the CDC headquarters in Washington, D.C. Photo: Photo by James Leynse / Corbis via Getty Images

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were told by the Trump administration on Thursday that they are not allowed to use the words like "science-based," "evidence-based" and "transgender," in their budget documents, according to a CDC analyst who spoke to The Washington Post.

Why it matters: The administration wants to control what it considers controversial wording from agencies as they submit documents for the president's budget for 2019, expected to be released in February. However, the analyst told the WashPost they "could not recall a previous time when words were banned from budget documents" due to ideology.

The details, per The Washington Post:

  • The list of banned words: vulnerable, entitlement, diversity, transgender, fetus, evidence-based and science-based.
  • The meeting about the banned words was led by Alison Kelly, a senior leader in the agency’s Office of Financial Services, who told the CDC officials she was just the messenger.
  • The CDC has offices that directly work with public health issues that relate to those words, such as its research on fetus development for the Zika virus and preventing HIV among transgender people.

Other CDC officials confirmed the existence of a list of forbidden words, the article said, although spokespeople from CDC or OMB did not comment by their deadline.


White House, Democrats settle lawsuit over ACA payments

The action could signal an end to a long-running conflict. Photo: AP file

The Trump administration, House Republicans and Democratic attorneys general have settled a lawsuit over the Affordable Care Act's cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers, Bloomberg reports. The court filing doesn't give any details of the settlement, per Bloomberg, except to say that it's "conditional."

What to watch: It's hard to know the true significance of the settlement when zero details are available. But for California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, one of the Democratic attorneys general involved in the lawsuit, it represents a chance to move forward and try to preserve the subsidies on their merits.

That's because the settlement only applies to a lower court decision stopping the payments until Congress funds them, according to a spokesperson for the California Department of Justice.

From a spokesperson for House Speaker Paul Ryan: "We are gratified that as a follow-up to the executive branch’s acknowledgement that making Obamacare payments to insurers without a congressional appropriation was unlawful, the parties have now agreed to resolve this lawsuit while leaving in place the district court’s legal rulings vindicating the House’s constitutional powers."

This story has been updated with statements from the California Department of Justice and House Speaker Paul Ryan.


Federal judge blocks Trump from changing contraception rules

A month's supply of hormonal birth control pills. Photo: Rich Pedroncelli / AP

The Trump administration's decision to roll back access to birth control under the Affordable Care Act has been blocked temporarily by a federal judge in Pennsylvania, Buzzfeed reports. The new rules went into effect in October and allowed employers and universities to decline providing birth control coverage for "religious or moral" reasons.

Why it matters: The ruling is one of several recent court orders blocking a Trump administration law. Trump's series of travel bans as well as his order preventing transgender troops from serving in the military have also been halted in court.

U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone agreed to grant Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro's motion for a preliminary injunction, ruling that the Trump administration’s decision could potentially result in “enormous and irreversible” harm to the women of Pennsylvania. The injunction is applicable to all 50 states.

What's next: The block will remain in place until all arguments in the case are heard, which means the ACA requirement that all employers pay for contraception will stay in effect in the interim.

The Pennsylvania ruling joins a handful of similar lawsuits, including one in California, filed against the Trump administration's contraception rules.


Battery exec leaves Dyson two years after $90 million buyout

Michigan entrepreneur Ann Marie Sastry has left vacuum-maker Dyson, two years after it acquired her controverial lithium-ion battery company, Axios has learned. The $90 million all-cash buyout remains one of the richest lithium-ion deals ever.

Quick take: Sources with knowledge of the situation were not certain of the circumstances of Sastry's departure. But it comes eight months after Dyson relinquished Sakti3's core battery patents, and doubts remain in the field regarding her main claim, asserted repeatedly — that she was on the verge of commercializing much-sought-after solid state battery technology.

Why it matters: For the last two years, Dyson founder James Dyson has spoken of ambitious plans to spend $1 billion to $3 billion to revolutionize batteries and electric cars. He has said said his electric car will ready for the road by 2020. At the time, Dyson's October 2015 purchase of Sakti3 was the spearpoint of the mission, and Sastry's departure suggests more internal turmoil than he has let on.

  • Sastry's Linkedin page says she left Dyson last month. She identifies herself as the founder and CEO of a company called Amesite, which a source said is involved with artificial intelligence and education.

In September, Dyson told Bloomberg that he had created two competing battery teams—Sakti3, plus another that was attempting a different approach to solid state. One explanation for Sastry's departure was that the other team won. In an interview with the Guardian, Dyson said the company's batteries were already more efficient than those in commercial electric vehicles.

At the time of the October 2015 deal and since, numerous leading U.S. battery researchers told me they wondered why Dyson had bought Sakti3. Despite Sastry's robust claims of the company's progress with solid state, she had revealed very little publicly and, since no one else had made much progress, the deep suspicion was that she was exaggerating. Indeed, in reporting for a story at the time of the buyout, former Sakti3 executives told me that the doubters were correct—the company's technology was rudimentary and nowhere near commercial.

Dyson said Sastry is no longer with the company but declined to comment further. Sastry could not be reached.

Dan Primack contributed to this story.


Bob Corker flips to "yes" on tax reform

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the only holdout on the Senate's initial tax bill, announced Friday that he will vote "yes" on the GOP's tax cuts bill, less than an hour after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he will also vote yes.

Why it matters: Corker's vote essentially cements the tax bill's passage before the Christmas deadline.

His statement:

"After many conversations over the past several days with individuals from both sides of the aisle across Tennessee and around the country — including business owners, farmers, chambers of commerce and economic development leaders — I have decided to support the tax reform package we will vote on next week.

"This bill is far from perfect, and left to my own accord, we would have reached bipartisan consensus on legislation that avoided any chance of adding to the deficit and far less would have been done on the individual side with items that do not generate economic growth.

"But after great though and consideration, I believe that this once-in-a-generation opportunity to make U.S. businesses domestically more productive and internationally more competitive is one we should not miss. While many project that it is very possible over the next ten years we could be at least $500 billion short on a $43 trillion policy baseline, I believe this bill accompanied with the significant regulatory changes that are underway, and hopefully, future pro-growth oriented policies relative to trade and immigration , could have significant positive impact on the well-being of Americans and help drive additional foreign direct investment in Tennessee.

"In the end, after 11 years in the Senate, I know every bill we consider is imperfect and the questions becomes is our country better off with or without this piece of legislation. I think we are better off with it. I realize this is a bet on our country's enterprising spirit, and that is a bet I am willing to make."


Release of texts between FBI officials to media was unauthorized

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

The Department of Justice said that some members of the media received early copies of the texts between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, and that the release was not authorized by the department, Business Insider reports.

Why it matters: The texts are part of an ongoing investigation; they were shared with lawmakers on Tuesday night, prior to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, and were shared with reporters afterwards. But DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said some reporters had already received them.


Rubio officially yes on tax bill

Sen. Marco Rubio Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

Sen. Marco Rubio's office has confirmed to reporters that the senator will be voting for the GOP tax cuts bill now that the child tax credit has been enhanced to meet his standards.

Why it matters: This thing looks ready to pass.


Report: FCC to fine Sinclair $13 million over undisclosed ads

AP Photo/Steve Ruark, File

The FCC plans to fine Sinclair Broadcasting Corporation milions of dollars over undisclosed cancer ads that aired during newscasts over a six-month period in 2016, Reuters reports.

The news comes one day after reports surfaced that the DOJ wants Sinclair to divest roughly 12 local broadcast stations in order for its $3.9 million merger with Tribune Media Company to be approved. It also comes as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is being attacked for what is seen as a close relationship with Sinclair.

The fine addresses roughly 1,700 commercials that aired for the Huntsman Cancer Institute. According to the report, Sinclair has previously told reporters that the violations were unintentional.

Reuters reports that the fine was approved by the five-member FCC but has not yet been made public. Sinclair's management has always been right-leaning and conservative-leaning Pai has been accused by progressives as being favorable to the broadcaster.


White House says Western Wall will stay in Israel

Pence and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a 2014 meeting in Israel. Photo: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO via Getty Images

A senior White House official told reporters today that the Trump administration believes the Western Wall in East Jerusalem will remain part of Israel in any future peace agreement with the Palestinians. The issue came up during a briefing to reporters on Vice President Mike Pence's upcoming visit to Israel.

Why it matters: The statement risks further infuriating the Palestinians at a time when the administration is trying to cool down the crisis created by President Trump's Jerusalem speech. The Western wall was occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967 and was never recognized as part of Israel by any country around the world.

Context: During previous negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, the U.S. supported the Israeli position that the Western Wall should stay part of Israel, but it was never articulated publicly.

What to watch: The official said Pence will visit the Western Wall during his trip to Israel, and he will do it as the vice president and not as a private citizen. "We cannot envision any situation under which the Western Wall would not [be] part of Israel," the official said. "But as the president said, the specific boundaries of sovereignty of Israel are going to be part of the final status agreement."

The bottom line: After the briefing ended, the White House official noted that the U.S. "cannot imagine Israel would sign a peace agreement that didn’t include the Western Wall."

What's next: In the meantime, White House special envoy Jason Greenblatt will arrive in Israel early next week. It is unclear whether Greenblatt is going to meet any Palestinian officials. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas announced he does not see the U.S. as an honest broker and said the Palestinians will not meet with Pence during his visit.

While in Israel, Greenblatt will meet Fernando Gentilini, European Union envoy for Middle East peace. The 28 leaders of EU member states announced yesterday they see Jerusalem as the shared capital of both Israel and Palestine — pushing back against Trump's announcement that the U.S. recognizes it as the capital of Israel.

The White House official added that given the timing, Greenblatt will stay on for Pence’s visit to provide any relevant support.


Facebook admits that some social media use can be harmful

The Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad. Photo: Matt Rourke / AP

In a new installment of its "Hard Questions" series, Facebook acknowledges that social media can have negative (or positive) effects on people, depending on how they use it.

Why it matters: This might be the first public acknowledgment from the company that its product — and category in general — can have detrimental effects on people.

Facebook is also addressing the topic shortly after two former executives publicly criticized the company for what they described as exploiting human psychology.

Good and bad use, according to research cited by Facebook:

  • Bad: Passive use of social media — reading information without interacting with others — makes people feel worse. Clicking on more links or "liking" more posts than the average user also leads to worse mental health, according to one study.
  • Good: Active use — interacting with people, sharing messages, posts, comments, and reminiscing about past interactions — is linked to improved well-being.
  • It takes two: Interacting with other users is key, according to research. Simply posting on Facebook without interacting with other people isn't enough.

But: This isn't a capitulation from Facebook, admitting that it may be doing some harm. Instead, the company is simply telling us that we just need to use its social network in more positive ways.