Monthly Archives: July 2018

Trump tweets skepticism about 3D-printable guns. But his administration cleared the way for them.

Eight states are filing suit against the Trump administration over its decision to allow a Texas company to publish downloadable blueprints for a 3D-printed gun, contending the hard-to-trace plastic weapons threaten public safety. (July 30) AP


WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said Tuesday he’s “looking into” easy access to blueprints for 3D-printable guns, saying in a tweet that “doesn’t seem to make much sense.”

Trump’s tweet comes less than 24 hours before that technology becomes widely available under a legal settlement his own administration reached earlier this year with Defense Distributed, a Texas-based nonprofit that will release blueprints for guns online starting Aug. 1.

“The age of the downloadable gun begins,” Defense Distributed stated on its site after its settlement with the State Department. Its founder, Cody Wilson, tweeted a photograph of a grave marked “American gun control.”

Under the legal agreement, the company will be able to post downloadable instructions for 3D-printable guns starting Wednesday, making such firearms available to anyone with the right machine and materials. All 3D-printed guns will be untraceable, and since you can make them yourself, no background check is required.

That prospect has startled gun control advocates, who say it could worsen the epidemic of gun violence in the U.S. and make it easier for terrorists to gain access to a raft of deadly firearms.

“The Trump Administration’s sickening NRA giveaway undermines the very foundations of public safety,” House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday.  “Metal detectors and other security measures will be completely useless against the flood of undetectable and untraceable ‘ghost guns’ that the GOP is inviting into our schools, workplaces, airports and public buildings.”

In his tweet, Trump said he had already talked to the NRA about the issue. An NRA spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Donald J. Trump


I am looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public. Already spoke to NRA, doesn’t seem to make much sense!

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested last week that he would review the issue, in response to questions from lawmakers on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

But a State Department official said Tuesday that Pompeo was not planning to take further action on the issue. The Department of State has completed its obligations under its settlement with Defense Distributed, said the official, who was not authorized to speak on the record.

“The decision to settle the case was made in the interest of the security and foreign policy of the United States and in consultation with the Department of Justice,” the State Department source said.

More: Make an AR-15 at home: 3D printed ‘downloadable guns’ available Aug. 1


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Clean, Sober and $41,000 Deep in Out-of-Pocket Addiction Recovery Costs

People recovering from opioid addiction and their families discuss the financial and emotional costs of treatment.

Tess Henry with her rescue dogs, in a photo taken by her mother. Ms. Henry was the subject of a recent Sunday Review essay, which generated over 400 reader comments.CreditPatricia Mehrmann

Tess Henry’s family paid $12,000 for 30 days of rehab from opioid addiction. She had done two more cycles of treatment without achieving sobriety. So her family agreed to pay $20,000 for 28 days of more rehab. But they never got the chance.

A few days after assuring her mother that she planned to fly to Virginia to resume treatment, Ms. Henry was murdered.

The tragic end of Ms. Henry’s six-year struggle to recover from an opioid addiction that began with a prescription for cough syrup was chronicled last week in The New York Times by Beth Macy, a journalist who covers the opioid crisis.

It takes eight years, and four to five attempts at treatment, for the average person addicted to opioids to achieve one year of remission, according to John Kelly, a researcher and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, whom Ms. Macy cited in her Sunday Review essay.

Ms. Henry’s story prompted readers to share with us in our comments section their own struggles with recovery or the struggles of their family members.

Here is a selection of the comments that cite costs — in out-of-pocket expenses, as well as in time, insurance payouts and human patience — of recovery. They are condensed and lightly edited.

‘I’m lucky it didn’t cost me more’

$25,000 for Suboxone, $16,000 of doctor appointments, $200,000 paid by insurance

I abused opiates for four years. I quit one-time and have been sober for five years. I’ve been on Suboxone [a drug that helps prevent opioid withdrawal symptoms] for five years as well. Luckily I make enough money to spend $400/month on Suboxone. I also moved 1,500 miles away from where I bought OxyContin when I quit, went to a $100,000 rehab on private insurance, and then stayed for 10 more months working as a nighttime janitor and going to A.A. like 10 times a week.

Recovering from opiates has cost me over $25,000 for Suboxone, $16,000 of doctor appointments, and it’s cost my insurance about $200,000. It cost me five years of my life. I’m lucky it didn’t cost me more.

Days of phone calls to rehab programs to demonstrate desperation

I’m a recovering heroin addict myself, and in my experience the system for getting into rehabs (without a lot of money up front and good insurance, at least) is like a grotesque game show in the spirit of “Black Mirror.” The standard practice is this: if you’re an addict who needs to go to rehab, you call and leave a message.

If you string together a long enough sequence of mornings calling in, and thus demonstrate enough desperation to satisfy them, they will eventually call you back, for you have passed the first test. If you’re lucky, they’ll make you an offer that expires in about 4-5 hours, telling you to come that moment. If you don’t have a car or a guardian angel who will take you to their strategic position in the middle of nowhere, too bad.

But without real long-term treatment, many of those addicts will overdose again and again, and odds are they won’t get that lifesaving opioid blocker in time, one of those times. Consider the resources wasted every day by having potentially productive citizens reduced to unemployability, and then spending money to have police fight the “drug war,” and to institutionalize addicts in jails and prison. Consider the extra burden on Medicaid, welfare programs, and homeless shelters. Consider the cost of drug-related crime — which is to say, the majority of crime. More important, forget all of those expenses and simply consider what it means for millions of families to have loved ones in the grip of untreated addiction.

— Steve, New Jersey

‘Free. Nearly everywhere. Tested.’

$0 for 12 steps, endless daily hard work

As someone for whom the 12 steps did miraculously work (along with endless, daily hard work), my meetings are filled with similar stories. Decades of recovery. We’re never cured, but we’re alive and not using. I was not in a position to pay for rehab or leave my three young kids, and A.A./N.A. was incredible. Free. Nearly everywhere. Tested. It deserves much more credit.

— Ella Jackson, New York

‘Hundreds of thousands of dollars spent’

A sibling in and out of treatment for more than 10 years

Having a sibling who has been in and out of treatment for over 10 years (hundreds of thousands of dollars spent) and the undivided and dedicated attention of a parent figure (who has dedicated her life to him), I assure you that recovery success is not directly tied into family support but rather to the individual’s desire to be well.

Having read individual success stories I find one common thread. A commitment to a goal and grit seem to be the driving forces behind recovery. Love, time, forgiveness and patience are all complementary ingredients.

— Korry, New York

He got sober ‘without expensive rehab programs’

$0 for 12 steps

My brother was a high functioning addict for years before his final painful trip to bottom. Then 4 years in a spiral as he lost everything before a series of court mandated A.A. meetings lit a light bulb (the first meetings he attended, he was high).


He got straight and sober within the 12 step program without expensive rehab programs (we were lucky). Then he spent 8 wonderful years of giving back to his community; became a mentor to many first offenders while holding down a job working with disabled adults, taking them camping and using art and music to enrich their lives. When he died from liver cancer (from hepatitis C from his old drug injections), a line stretched a block at the funeral. I never shook so many hands or heard such heart warming stories as I did at Dean’s funeral.

We don’t hear about the successful stories of recovery so there’s one for you. We were lucky to get him back and to have such good memories now.

— Bill Cullen, Portland, Ore.

‘All I had was the 12 steps’

$0 for 12 steps, a hard road

Rest in peace, Tess, and God bless all those who loved and helped her. I know well the heartbreak and hurt that addicts inflict on others because I am one and have done those things. I know even better the never ending cycle of deepening addiction and the effects on every aspect of your life, from loss of health, any hope of a career, financial ruin, utter hopelessness and the hollowing out of one’s soul. But I know better the flip side, of hope and happiness and redemption and overcoming the darkness, as I have been continuously sober now for more than 32 years. And if there was hope for me, there is hope for anyone and everyone.

There were no maintenance drugs other than methadone when I got clean and sober decades ago. All I had was the Twelve Steps and the love and hope and care and example of others in recovery. And that worked for me, although it was the hardest road I ever traveled early on.

— Rich D., Tucson


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GOP Criticism Of Trump Is All Talk — But It Still Matters

Critics of President Trump want Republicans to do more. The argument goes something like this: Some Republicans like Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona have cast Trump as historically dangerous, leading a “daily disassembling of our democratic institutions,” in Flake’s words. Trump critics argue that, if this is their view, this moment in history compels them to do everything possible to limit Trump — to oppose Trump more than just rhetorically. With McCain suffering from brain cancer and not on Capitol Hill, the Senate is basically divided between 50 members who vote with the GOP and 49 who vote with the Democrats. Flake or any other Republican senator, their critics argue, could single-handedly grind Trump’s entire agenda to a halt. They could prevent a vote on Brett Kavanaugh, the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court, or force a vote on legislation protecting special counsel Robert Mueller.

Instead, the few Republicans in the Senate willing to criticize Trump1 have mostly done only that, spurring some eye-rolling exasperation from people who want action, not just words. But we think this vein of criticism of Trump-skeptical Republicans is, well, kind of wrong. It ignores the power of words to serve as a reminder that Trump isn’t an entirely normal Republican, and that he doesn’t have complete Republican support — at least, not all the time. It’s true that Flake and other Trump-skeptical Republicans could do much, much more. But that doesn’t mean what they’re doing now is meaningless.

Weakening the impact of Trump’s rhetoric

Political scientists have done a great deal of research to figure out how much the president’s words matter — if they matter at all. Here’s what’s generally agreed upon: Presidential communication matters in a number of important ways. It can shape what issues citizens think about in the first place, how the public views the particular meaning or context of a major event, and provide important cues to partisans about where the party standson a given issue.

Trump is facing a different dynamic than other presidents, though: He’s regularly contradicted by members of his own party on Capitol Hill. Take the president’s downplaying of Russian interference in the 2016 election. It will be harder for Trump to convince even most Republicans of these arguments as long as senators from his own party, like South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, keep saying there was interference. Indeed, a (small) majority of Republicans believe the U.S. intelligence agencies’ finding that Russia interfered.

Or take the issue of relations with Russia more generally. Republicans, perhaps influenced by Trump’s push to build closer ties with Vladimir Putin and his regime, have more favorable views toward Russia than they once did. But still only 40 percent in the GOP see Russia as an ally or friend to the U.S. Similarly, about a third of Republicans opposed the administration’s since-reversed policy that resulted in parents being separated from their children at the border. And about a fifth of Republicans oppose the president’s signature campaign proposal to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. On all of these issues, Trump has faced vocal resistance from Flakeand other Republicans.

On paper, Trump, particularly on foreign policy, can still largely ignore Congress and implement his agenda if he chooses. But in reality, he keeps backtracking. Take his interest in implementing a more pro-Russia foreign policy. We think the criticism from congressional Republicans is a big part of that hesitancy on Trump’s part. The verbal opposition from fellow Republicans tends to lead to an escalation of opposition against Trump. Criticism by fellow Republicans frees the press, always leery of appearing too liberal, to attack controversial Trump initiatives more directly. That bipartisan and media opposition helps move the public in these instances to oppose what Trump is doing. Facing such opposition, the president often retreats.

Words can affect actions

The line between actions and words is not as clear as it might seem. When Trump is considering some new policy or appointment and a senator like Flake says he will oppose it, those are just words. But they have seemed to constrain the president. For example, when Trump was hinting last year that he wanted to fire Jeff Sessions, the attorney general’s former colleagues in the Senate almost universally defended him and suggested that they would not confirm another Trump pick to run the Justice Department. Sessions remains.

When the White House said last week that it was considering allowing the Russian government to interrogate Michael McFaul, who was the U.S. ambassador to Russia under Obama, the Senate passed a 98-0 nonbinding resolution condemning the idea, which the administration had by then disavowed.

“I know a lot of people don’t put much stock into words, but I think they are more constraining of presidents than most people think, given how they shape public opinion and shape potential public reactions to future presidential actions,” said Matt Glassman, a congressional expert at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University.

“Why hasn’t [Trump] fired Mueller? I think a lot of it has to do with the myriad of GOP senators who have told him there will be hell to pay,” Glassman added.

Sure, you might say, Trump has to threaten to fire a special counsel investigating him or think about handing over a Putin critic to the Russians before Republican senators criticize him. It does seem to take fairly unprecedented Trump moves to get GOP congressmen to criticize the president. But that’s exactly the point in some ways: If Trump were acting like a “normal” president, we don’t think Democrats would be as outraged by his behavior in the first place nor be describing their opposition to him as a resistance. Liberals are often outraged when Trump takes actions that it seems unlikely a President Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio would take — and Republicans like Flake are often objecting to these same actions.

Policy vs. everything else

Critics of Trump-skeptical Republicans are right about at least one thing: GOP senators, even those most leery of him, are backing the president’s policy agenda. According to FiveThirtyEight’s Trump score, the most anti-Trump Republican in the Senate is not Flake or Tennessee’s Bob Corker(people who have the political freedom to oppose Trump since they are not running for re-election) but Kentucky’s Rand Paul, who opposes the president’s positions about 25 percent of the time. Flake, Corker, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski support the president’s position about 80 percent of the time, putting them close to the bottom of the GOP conference but way ahead of any Democrat. (West Virginia’s Joe Manchin has backed the Trump position 60 percent of the time, leading his party in the Senate.)

But here’s the big question: Are these senators, in their votes and other moves, embracing the policy vision of Trump, specifically? Or is Trump basically endorsing the views of establishment Republicans?

“Trump really isn’t driving the legislative agenda at all,” Glassman said. “He’s mostly just cheerleading for whatever congressional leaders decide to pass. That was true on Obamacare repeal — he literally supported basically every variation they came up with — and it was largely true on taxes as well.”

Flake, in an interview with FiveThirtyEight, said he was frustrated by the critique that he should try to block the rest of the president’s agenda because he’s concerned about Trump’s rhetoric and policies on some issues.

“To try to force the president to do something, what would you say? ‘We will hold up Kavanaugh, who we think is qualified, hold him up until the president stops being friends with Putin?’” Flake said. (This is exactly the demand of some liberals.)

“Everyone says, ‘Republicans are voting with him 80 percent of the time.’ Ninety percent of what we do … we’re just filling positions,” Flake said. “The undersecretary for Africa was last week. Are we supposed to not staff the presidency at all? A lot of it is unrealistic expectations.

“I’m a conservative,” he added. “For people to expect me to not vote conservative … people last year were saying, ‘You said you’re against this president but you voted to repeal Obamacare.’ I voted to repeal Obamacare 40 times [before the Senate vote last year]. ‘You disagree with this president but you voted for his tax cut.’ We’ve been voting for tax cuts and tax reform before he came along, forever.”

Flake said that he often privately opposes potential Trump appointees for executive branch posts or judgeships and tries to get the administration not to formally nominate those people in the first place.

“I go back to them and say, ‘You’re going to nominate this person … don’t,” he said.

We have no real way of checking how often Flake or other senators are nixing potential Trump nominees privately so that they are never formally submitted. But at least four Trump judicial nominees have been withdrawn after Republican senators signaled that they would oppose them. (Of course, 44 have been confirmed.)

Republicans have voted in line with Trump’s ideology. But we’re not sure they are necessarily voting for Trump’s ideology as much as their own.

If Flake thinks Trump is really terrible, then voting for the tax cuts or Kavanaugh may not be a great strategy: Those moves are likely to increase Trump’s grip on the GOP by giving the president policy wins that he can highlight with the party base. And some Republicans are outright aiding Trump’s more alarming moves, like the House Republicans who have in effect launched a counterinvestigation targeting Mueller and the Department of Justice.

But we think that despite what our own Trump score says, the strategy of Corker and Flake is best understood not as total loyalty to Trump or deep resistance to him, but a kind of middle course.

Perry Bacon Jr. is a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight.  

Julia Azari is an associate professor of political science at Marquette University. Her research interests include the American presidency, political parties, and political rhetoric. She is the author of “Delivering the People’s Message: The Changing Politics of the Presidential Mandate.” 


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She walked off a flight in tears and with a wad of cash. Her viral post explained why.


This is Kimberly Bermudez, a schoolteacher in Chicago. A few days ago, she had a life-changing experience flying home to see her parents in Florida.

Photo courtesy of Kimberly Bermudez.

It started out like most other flights — with some polite chit-chat to the person sitting next to her. She told the stranger about her job at a low-income school and some of the struggles she sees her students and their parents facing.

“When he asked me the greatest challenge that I face I was honest with him,” she later recalled in a Facebook post. “I told him that working at a low-income school can be heartbreaking.”

Many of her students are immigrants, she’d explained to her seat mate, and their parents go above and beyond just to make ends meet. The man asked to get her information; the company he works for likes to donate items to schools like hers, he explained. Maybe they could work something out.

The kind gesture already made her flight a heartening one. But then things really took a turn.

Bermudez felt a tap on her shoulder.

The man sitting behind her apologized for having eavesdropped on her conversation — then handed her a stack of cash.

The bill on top was $100.


Photo courtesy of Kimberly Bermudez.

The man asked that she “do something amazing” with the gift.

“I was in complete awe,” Bermudez wrote. She thanked him for his generosity and promised the money would be put to good use for her students.

But other passengers overheard the conversations, too.

After the plane landed, the man sitting across the aisle from Bermudez donated $20, she said. Another passenger sitting in front of her handed her a $10.

“I started crying on the plane,” Bermudez wrote in her Facebook post, which has garnered more than 50,000 likes and 17,000 shares as of publication.

In total, the stunned Chicago teacher walked away with $530 — funding, Bermudez told The Washington Post, that she plans to spend on books for her students.


Photo courtesy of Kimberly Bermudez.

Incredibly, Bermudez’s experience inspired other strangers to chip in, too.

Since the story went viral (it was even featured on The Today Show), the school where Bermudez teaches, Fuentes Elementary, has received over $4,000 in donations, the school confirmed to Upworthy. Some have even expressed interest in helping the students get new playground equipment.

Bermudez’s story may warm the heart. But it’s understandable if it leaves a bittersweet taste, too.

While those passengers’ dollars will no doubt be put to great use, what does it say about the value our society places on education that a teacher needs donations from strangers to provide basic necessities to her students?

No one-off donation can fix the deep-rooted, systemic barriers facing kids in underserved communities.


Teachers in Chicago went on strike in 2012. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Our public schools are under-resourced. Our teachers are continually asked to do more with less (just ask the ones in KentuckyWest Virginia, and Oklahoma). And a flawed system of funding that rewards kids in wealthier suburbs leaves their poorer counterparts in small towns and inner-cities behind.

Their donations to Bermudez will make a difference, to be sure. But kind-hearted strangers on a flight to Florida can’t overhaul a broken system.

If we really want to support teachers and the students they’re educating, keep them in mind when you go to the ballot box.

Get involved locally, and fight for students in your own state and community. Listen to teachers and amplify their message when they fill the streets in protest.

And in the meantime, take Bermudez’s advice and do something nice for someone who could use a helping hand.

“I do, however, hope that posting this continues the chain reaction of people helping those in need, and especially the children in need,” she wrote in her Facebook post. “My heart is in complete shock and awe right now. When the world seems crazy, there are always good people.”


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The method to Trump’s walkbacks



by David Leonhard –

It’s become a pattern: President Trump says something outrageous. He later grudgingly retracts his statement, or members of his administration retract it on his behalf. And then he quickly undermines the retraction.
It happened with the attacks by white supremacists in Charlottesville and with other race-baiting issues. This week alone, the pattern has been visible multiple times, on Russia and NATO.
So what explains it? What could Trump possibly be accomplishing with this blatant dissembling?
Something important and devious, actually. He is sending two different messages, each intended for a different audience.
With the initial statement, he’s talking to his primary audience. Often, that audience is his political base, and Trump is signaling that he’s with them: He, too, is a white nationalist, or at the very least he’s sympathetic to them. He believes that dark-skinned people live in miserable countries, that Mexicans are rapists, that Muslims should be banned from America and that some white supremacists are “very fine people.”
Over the past week, for whatever reason, Trump’s primary audience has seemed to be Vladimir Putin. Trump repeatedly sent messages that Putin must have liked — that NATO is a mess, that Russia didn’t interfere in the election and that the Trump administration would consider handing over an American citizen to Putin’s government for questioning.
And then, in short order, come Trump’s walkbacks. They’ve been especially lame this week. Trump claimed that he meant “wouldn’t” in Helsinki when he said “would,” and his press secretary claimed yesterday that he didn’t mean “No” when he answered a question with “No.”
But I think it’s crucial to understand the value that these walkbalks have to Trump. Almost no matter how silly they are, much of the media coverage tends to treat the walkbacks as serious. Look at many of the headlines on Tuesday. They took Trump’s Helsinki retraction at face value, even though Trump undermined it during the very same news conference at which he offered it.
The walkbacks — and the credulous repetition of them — allow Trump’s fellow Republicans to pretend that he never really meant the initial statements. Marco Rubio, Rob Portman and other congressional Republicans played along in precisely this way over the past few days. The Republicans then act as if they don’t really need to hold Trump accountable — for his betrayal of American interests, for his bizarre Putin affinity, for his racism or for any number of other issues — because Trump cleaned up his own mess.
The pattern reaches its final stage when Trump offers the final wink-wink. He again offers some kind words about white supremacists or some nasty comments about people with dark skin. Or he again suggests that maybe some random hacker was responsible for the 2016 cyberattacks.
At this point, Trump’s thinking is clear to anybody who’s honestly trying to understand it. And his fellow Republicans in Congress keep on enabling his behavior by looking the other way.
As the old saying goes: Fool me once …
Elsewhere. “The President’s job is to protect us, not to even *consider* handing any of us over to an enemy government,” Tom Nichols says on Twitter, of Putin’s request to question Michael McFaul, Barack Obama’s former ambassador to Russia, and Bill Browder, a British businessman. “If Putin can single out @mcfaul, he can single out anyone.”
Nada Bakos, who was a C.I.A. analyst under both George W. Bush and Obama, described as “unbelievable” the remarks by Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, about the potential questioning. “What’s next,” she asks, “turning me over to al Qaida for questioning?”
Moscow has targeted McFaul before. Politico Magazine recently excerpted his book about his time as ambassador, in which he described how “Russian authorities conducted a ground campaign of harassment against my colleagues at the embassy, myself and, from time to time, even my family.” As he said on Twitter yesterday, “Putin has been harassing me for a long time. That he now wants to arrest me, however, takes it to a new level.”
Why is Putin doing this? Nancy LeTourneau argues in The Washington Monthly that “he’s launching the most blatant kind of bothersiderism via conspiracy theory. In other words, Mueller may have indicted people like Manafort, but we’ve got Browder and McFaul.
The full Opinion report from The Times follows, including Carmel McCoubrey on Trump’s grammatical pretzel.

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Electric vehicles alone could cause peak oil demand within decade



In an aggressive scenario, electrified transportation could displace 8 million barrels of oil per day.

When Tesla announced that it had built 7,000 cars in a week, I got excited. Even though electric vehicles (EVs) make up only a small percentage of new car sales in most countries, those sales are growing rapidly.

But how long before they really start to take a bite out of oil demand?

Norway offers some clues, where years of generous—some would say unsustainable—incentives saw EVs and plug-in hybrid sales grow to 55% of the new car market in March. And the cumulative impact of those sales may have FINALLY translated into a drop in overall demand, with gasoline in particular seeing a 2.9% drop in sales.

Of course 2.9% is not exactly groundbreaking, but it’s important to remember that change is rarely linear. If it really is due to electric vehicles, then that figure should grow each year as adoption rates increase and older model gasoline cars retire from the fleet. And that, in turn, could lead to further drivers like gas stations closing, or lower resale value for fossil fueled vehicles.

Similar dynamics will be at play on a global scale, albeit many years behind. Now the carbon/finance geeks at Carbon Tracker have launched an interesting EV Demand Displacement Tool that allows users to explore how rates of EV adoption, mileage and efficiency gains in internal combustion engine (ICE) cars might interact to displace oil demand, and how that in turn could lead to major disruption for investors and volatility in oil pricing.

The accompanying report has several interesting findings, but the most relevant for us TreeHuggers is the fact that EV adoption alone—independent of any measures such as increased ICE efficiency, or non car-dependent development—could lead to a peak in oil demand as early as 2027. And in an aggressive adoption scenario, Carbon Tracker finds that as much as 8 million barrels of oil demand could be displaced every day by electric vehicle adoption alone by 2035. (For context, the oil price crash of 2014 was the result of a mere 2 million barrels a day imbalance between supply and demand.)

As has been noted many times before, predictions of technological development and production are more useful as ‘what ifs’, not prophecy. The oil industry—in public at least—continues to offer only conservative estimates of EV adoption.

But given that oil giants are also trying to diversify by investing in EV infrastructure, investors too may want to think twice about what happens if the more aggressive predictions—not even considered in the more conservative tracker—do come true.

And then just imagine if we got serious about car-free living, too.


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Fox News Version: Trump blasts Mueller probe, Putin denies meddling as leaders tout summit as ‘success’

By | Fox News

President Trump and Vladimir Putin tackled allegations of election meddling in unprecedented terms following their one-on-one summit Monday, with Trump opening the door to an unusual offer of cooperation in the special counsel probe and the Russian president suggesting he indeed favored the billionaire businessman in 2016.

But Putin, emphatically and repeatedly, denied meddling in the U.S. election, saying there’s “no evidence.” And Trump, while saying they spent a “great deal of time” discussing the allegations, blasted the ongoing probe as a “disaster for our country.”

The two leaders spoke at a freewheeling joint press conference following a pair of meetings — one private — in Helsinki, Finland. Trump and Putin touted the summit as a “success,” vowing to improve ties on a range of issues.

“I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics,” Trump declared.

During their press conference, few topics were off limits. The session with international reporters ended with Putin being asked whether he had compromising material on Trump, which he dismissed as “nonsense.” Even that moment was overshadowed by the extensive comments on election meddling.

Trump once again asserted there was “no collusion.”

President Trump denies 2016 election collusion during a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki; 'Special Report' anchor Bret Baier reacts to the dialogue.

“I didn’t know the president. There was no one to collude with, and there was no collusion with the campaign,” Trump said, suggesting Democrats have used the issue as an excuse for losing. “We ran a brilliant campaign, and that’s why I’m president.”

When asked which side is responsible for damaged relations, Trump said, “I hold both countries responsible.”

The statement drew bipartisan criticism back in Washington.

“This is bizarre and flat-out wrong. The United States is not to blame,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said in a statement.

Former CIA director John Brennan, who frequently blasts Trump, tweeted: “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous.”

The summit came just days after the Justice Department announced the indictments of a dozen Russian intelligence operatives for allegedly hacking Democratic targets in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Putin has previously told Trump that Russia did not meddle in the 2016 presidential election. He repeated those denials Monday.

And when asked whether he would extradite the 12 Russians allegedly involved, Putin instead detailed a plan, which Trump called an “incredible offer.”

Putin offered to question the 12 indicted for meddling in the election, and added that Mueller’s team of investigators could be present for questioning, if U.S. officials would “reciprocate.” He suggested this would mean Russian agents could be present for questioning U.S. officers “of interest” to them.

Meanwhile, Putin suggested he favored Trump in the election, saying, “Isn’t it natural to be sympathetic towards a person who is willing to restore the relationship with our country?” But he maintained there was no election interference.

The two leaders said they discussed a host of other issues during their meeting Monday in Helsinki, and were working toward strengthening U.S.-Russian relations — which Trump said “has never been worse than it is now” despite the push from Democrats and some Republicans back home in the U.S. to cancel the summit.

But he said the relationship has changed. Trump said he would “not make decisions on foreign policy in a futile effort to appease partisan critics, the media or Democrats who want to resist and obstruct.”

At one point, Putin handed Trump a soccer ball and said “the ball is now in your court.”

The joint press conference was held minutes after the historic summit between the two leaders Monday. The two met one-on-one for more than two hours, and later in an expanded meeting with key advisers.

Trump, as the private meeting began earlier Monday, said the two would have “a lot of good things to talk about,” from trade to missile defense to China. A host of other issues, from Russia election meddling to the annexation of Crimea to Syria, were also expected to come up.

“I think we will end up having an extraordinary relationship,” Trump said, sitting next to Putin earlier at the presidential palace in Helsinki. “Getting along with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Putin later said he and Trump agreed to continue detailed discussions on arms control issues.

Putin said Russia and the U.S. should discuss a possible extension of the 2010 New START nuclear arms reduction treaty and the implementation of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Trump sat down with Putin after spending the last week sparring with traditional U.S. allies—first with NATO nations over their levels of defense spending, and later with British Prime Minister Theresa May over her ‘Brexit’ strategy, though he seemed to patch things up before leaving London.

The tensions early on in his European tour created a contrast with efforts to improve ties with Moscow, leading to bipartisan concerns about the summit.

The president also claimed ahead of his summit with Putin that the Russian president would not have invaded Crimea had he been in office, calling the globally condemned annexation an “Obama disaster.”


Putin has signaled he would like Trump to soften sanctions that Washington imposed over the annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, involvement in the Syrian civil war and allegations of Russian meddling.

Trump signed an August 2017 law imposing additional sanctions on Russia. The law bars Trump from easing many sanctions without Congress’ approval, but he can offer some relief without a nod from Congress.

Almost 700 Russian people and companies are under U.S. sanctions. Individuals face limits on their travel and freezes on at least some of their assets, while some top Russian state banks and companies, including oil and gas giants, are effectively barred from getting financing through U.S. banks and markets.

Fox News’ Judson Berger, Greg Wilson and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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Hitch Hotel has all the benefits of a trailer without the wheels

Hitch Hotel on beach
© Hitch Hotel

Go car camping without having to relearn how to drive in reverse.

It’s summer, and people are on the road going camping. Some are pulling trailers or pop-up tent trailers, which are literally and figuratively a drag; a few have pop-up tents on their roofs; I suspect most have a car filled to the brim with stuff that they have to take out and set up; have a look at what Katherine schleps along with three kids and a husband. If you have a little car, that can be a real challenge.

Hitch Hotel on a Mini© Hitch Hotel

That is why I am so intrigued by the Hitch Hotel; it is not a trailer, with all of the problems of learning how to back up finding a place to park, but it does go into your Class II trailer hitch. It was originally designed as a storage box for bikes, so it has solid fiberglass sides and is a lot more secure than a tent.

I call it a TEM

Hitch on its own© Hitch Hotel/ on its own as Terran Excursion Module

The magic is in the three nesting boxes that pull out on what looks like heavy duty European drawer hardware into a bed-sized box. You then drop down legs and you have your own Terran Excursion Module, looking vaguely like a LEM from the Apollo program.

Hitch Parked© Hitch Hotel

Wheel-free and totally suspended off the ground, it is designed to give you a safe and streamlined place to call home wherever you are. In its closed position, the Hitch Hotel provides over 60 cubic feet of secured, suspended, watertight space for all your gear like bikes, coolers, bags, and sporting goods. In its open position, the Hitch Hotel is a patented, revolutionary sleep-space with over 135 comfortable cubic feet for 2-3 adult adventurers. No more hassles, no more sleeping on the ground. Just you, the open road, and your anywhere hotel room.

hitch hotel full of bikes© Hitch Hotel

A Class 2 Hitch can support 350 pounds, and the Hitch Hotel only weighs 240, so you can fill it with gear and have more room in the car. My little Subaru Impreza or even a Mini can handle that (although I suspect that the handling will take a bit of getting used to, and goodbye backup camera and rear view mirror). You get almost all the benefits of a small trailer, like those teardrops I am so fond of, without the trailer issues. This is a real innovation.

at campsite© Hitch Hotel

All my camping has been by canoe or foot while backpacking, so I often look askance at people towing big trailers, thinking I could grab my backpacking stuff and car-camp out of my other car, a 1990 Miata. But I definitely see the charm of a comfortable bed in a secure box up off the ground that bears can’t easily bite through, or having to set up a tent in the driving rain. It also has such a small footprint that it would be comparatively easy to store; for people living in apartments, if your car is not too big, it could fit at the end of a condo parking spot and double as a storage locker to boot. This is definitely an idea with legs.

More on Kickstarter and at Hitch Hotel.


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We can’t talk about Kylie Jenner’s $900 million worth without talking about privilege.


Forbes just estimated her total worth, conservatively, at $900 million.

Most of that wealth comes from the 20-year-old’s young cosmetics brand, Kylie Cosmetics, which Forbes (again, conservatively) valued at $800 million. Her astonishing wealth landed Jenner a place on Forbes’ 2018 list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women.

“Another year of growth will make her the youngest self-made billionaire ever, male or female,” the outlet reported, noting she’ll have edged out Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (who became a billionaire at age 23) by two birthdays.

But Jenner’s isn’t exactly a rags-to-riches story. The youngest child in the Kardashian-Jenner crew was already starring in her family’s reality TV series and swimming in endorsement deal cash before her 18th birthday. If your zip code does, in fact, decide your destiny, Jenner’s Calabasas, California, upbringing has paved the way to a life of luxury.

It’s easy to understand why Forbes’ “self-made” distinction raised plenty of eyebrows.

“Calling Kylie Jenner self-made without acknowledging anywhere the incredible head start she had is what allows people to turn around and look at poor people and ask them why they haven’t become billionaires yet,” read one viral tweetthat’s amassed over 280,000 likes as of this writing.

The backlash was swift (and, at times, kind of funny).

Disgruntled readers even pushed Forbes to note that the publication “fully acknowledges that within the term ‘self-made’ there are many who are more self-made than others,” a spokesperson noted to CNN. A glimpse through the full list of women — on which Jenner ranked amongst the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, and Taylor Swift — further illustrates that point.

In peak internet form, however, then there was a backlash to the backlash.

Some argued the “self-made” distinction is fair, while others justifiably suggested the intense backlash was over-the-top and sexist.


Even threw in its two cents on the matter, clarifying on Twitter that “self-made means having succeeded in life unaided.”


Intentional or not,’s input further stirred the pot, with outlets like People magazine quipping, “ Shades Kylie Jenner After Forbes Calls Her a ‘Self-Made’ Almost Billionaire.”

As all things internet tend to do, the conversation snowballed into a sour, divisive, and oversimplified water cooler debate.

But then Roxane Gay chimed in.

And in under 280 characters, the acclaimed author gave some much needed perspective. “It is not shade to point out that Kylie Jenner isn’t self-made,” she wrote on Twitter. “She grew up in a wealthy, famous family. Her success is commendable, but it comes by virtue of her privilege.”


“Words have meanings,” she concluded. “And it behooves a dictionary to remind us of that.”

Gay’s tempered response touched on an important point.

Privilege — whether it comes down to skin color, sexual orientation, gender, ability, or money — doesn’t mean a person hasn’t worked hard or faces no hurdles, as Gay suggested in noting Jenner’s “commendable” success. But privilege does mean a person’s benefited from a system that — in some way, shape, or form — gives them a leg up.

Or, in Jenner’s case, many millions of legs up.

Jenner may be a hardworking, business-savvy entrepreneur, but she’s also benefitted from an incredible amount of privilege that’s served as the springboard to her status as an almost-billionaire. Both things can be true at once.

And acknowledging that privilege isn’t “throwing shade” or “lambasting” Jenner — it’s simply recognizing that maybe “self-made” isn’t the most accurate term to describe her wealth.

Words matter, after all.


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Trump against Europe?

by David Leonhardt –

First, let’s try a little thought experiment: Whenever President Trump starts talking about NATO, imagine what Vladimir Putin would want Trump to say. Then compare it to what Trump actually says. The two are often frighteningly similar.
The pattern continued yesterday and today, with Trump disparaging NATO members on Twitter, on his way out of Washington and again when arriving at the NATO summit in Europe. Why is Trump doing this? I don’t know. But I do know the effect it’s having. Defying his own aides and senators from both parties, the president of the United States is jeopardizing the Western alliance that has done so much good over the past seven decades — and he is comforting Western Europe’s biggest modern enemy, Putin’s Russia.
Related: “Trump Is Training His Base to Hate NATO and Like Putin,” by Jonathan Chait, in New York magazine. In the same publication, Heather Hurlburt writes, “The Trump administration has taken repeated concrete steps to damage European and international institutions and specific European governments.”
More inequality? Yes, please. Federal tax policy in the 21st century has been like a tug of war. Thanks to President Trump, the rich are winning it once again.
The top-earning 1 percent of households — those earning more than $607,000 a year — will pay a combined $111 billion less this year in federal taxes than they would have if the laws had remained unchanged since 2000. That’s an enormous windfall. It’s more, in total dollars, than the tax cut received over the same period by the entire bottom 60 percent of earners, according to an analysis being published today.
Think of it this way: Income inequality has soared in recent decades, with the wealthy pulling away from everyone else and the upper-middle-class doing better than the working class or poor. Yet our federal government has responded by aggravating these trends. It has handed huge tax cuts to the small segment of Americans who need those tax cuts the least.
“Most Americans would look at that and say ‘That’s not fair, and that’s not the result that we wanted from our lawmakers,’ ” says Steve Wamhoff of the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a Washington research group that conducted the new study. Polls support his argument. The Trump tax cut still isn’t popular with voters.
For their analysis, Wamhoff and his colleague Matthew Gardner tallied all of the major federal tax cuts and tax increases since 2000. Cumulatively, the top 1 percent of earners have received 22 percent of all tax cuts during that period; the top 20 percent of earners (those earning more than $111,000) have received 65 percent of tax cuts.
Despite the depressing overall picture, I found one part of the report to be encouraging: It shows that raising taxes on the rich — to combat the extreme current level of inequality — really is possible. President Barack Obama did so in his second term, reversing most of George W. Bush’s tax cuts on the top 1 percent. But then Trump won the White House, the Republicans kept control of Congress and they went even further in cutting high-end taxes than Bush had.
Elections have consequences. And on taxes, as on so many other subjects, our two political parties have fundamentally different positions.

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