The Slatest

Slatest PM: Obama’s New Climate Push

The smoke stacks at American Electric Power’s (AEP) Mountaineer coal power plant in New Haven, West Virginia, October 30, 2009.

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

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A New Climate Push: Associated Press: “President Barack Obama is planning a major push using executive powers to tackle the pollution blamed for global warming in an effort to make good on promises he made at the start of his second term. Obama’s energy and climate adviser, Heather Zichal, said Wednesday the plan would boost energy efficiency of appliances and buildings, expand renewable energy and use the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate heat-trapping pollution from coal-fired power plants. The plan is expected to be unveiled in coming weeks.”

How He’ll Do It: New York Times: “Zichal suggested in her remarks that a central part of the administration’s approach to dealing with climate change would be to use the authority given to the Environmental Protection Agency to address climate-altering pollutants from power plants under the Clean Air Act. She said that none of the initiatives being considered by the administration required legislative action or new financing from Congress, but any effort to clamp down on power plant emissions is likely to provoke intense opposition in Congress and litigation by industry. Such regulations would hurt states heavily dependent on cheap power produced from coal and would drive up electricity prices, at least in the short term. … The issue of power plant regulation is sensitive because it will most likely make electricity more expensive in many parts of the country and put further stress on the coal industry, which is already suffering from a lack of demand as utilities switch to natural gas, which is cheaper.”

In His Own Words: ““The grim alternative affects all nations — more severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees, coastlines that vanish, oceans that rise,” Obama said in Berlin. “This is the future we must avert. This is the global threat of our time. And for the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late. That is our job. That is our task. We have to get to work.”

Happy Wednesday, and welcome to The Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees and the whole team at @slatest.

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Good Medical News: New York Times: “The prevalence of dangerous strains of the human papillomavirus — the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States and a principal cause of cervical cancer — has dropped by half among teenage girls in the last decade, a striking measure of success for a vaccine that was introduced only in 2006, federal health officials said on Wednesday. Infection with the viral strains that cause cancer dropped to 3.6 percent among girls ages 14 to 19 in 2010, from 7.2 percent in 2006, a new study has found. The vaccine protects against strains of the HPV virus that cause 70 percent of cervical cancers.”

Bad Medical News: Washington Post: “A new virus responsible for an outbreak of respiratory illness in the Middle East may be more deadly than SARS, according to a team of infectious disease specialists who recently investigated a set of cases in Saudi Arabia. Of 23 confirmed cases in April, 15 people died — an ‘extremely high’ fatality rate of 65 percent, according to Johns Hopkins senior epidemiologist Trish Perl, a member of the team that analyzed the spread of the virus through four Saudi hospitals. Saudi officials said that as of Wednesday, 49 people have contracted the disease and 32 have died.”

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(More) Trouble in Afghanistan: Wall Street Journal: “Afghan President Hamid Karzai suspended talks with the U.S. about a long-term American military presence and pulled his envoys from planned peace negotiations with the Taliban on Wednesday, protesting the unexpectedly high-profile opening of a Taliban office in Qatar a day earlier. Mr. Karzai’s moves could jeopardize U.S. plans to maintain a residual troop presence in Afghanistan after the coalition’s mandate ends next year. They also create a new hurdle for American efforts to bring the Afghan government and its Taliban foes to the negotiating table and find a political solution to the 12-year war.”

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FBI Admits to Using Drones on U.S. Soil: CBS News: “FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledged that the bureau uses unmanned drones for surveillance on U.S. soil during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, adding that such drone use is done in a “very, very minimal way, and very seldom.” Law enforcement sources tell CBS News’ Bob Orr that the FBI has used small model airplane-sized drones on 10 or 12 occasions for very localized surveillance, most recently during the hostage situation in an Alabama bunker in February. Mueller’s acknowledgment was the latest in a series of disclosures about the domestic use of drones. In 2010, Orr reported that the Border Patrol is using drones to patrol the Mexican and Canadian borders, along with the Caribbean Sea.”

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A Death-Ray Plot: NBC News: “Two upstate New York men, one of them said to be a member of the Ku Klux Klan, plotted to build a truck-mounted, industrial-strength X-ray weapon to kill ‘enemies of Israel’ by poisoning them with radiation, federal authorities said Wednesday. One of them boasted that he could build a ‘Hiroshima light switch’ and that ‘everything with respiration would be dead by morning,’ authorities said. Investigators said the public was never in danger. The men scoped out Muslims and other groups as potential targets and apparently got as far as building a trigger for the device, but the FBI caught on, set up a sting and made sure the device didn’t work, the authorities said.”

Pats TE Sued For Shooting Friend in the Face: ABC News: “New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is caught in the middle of a homicide investigation of an “associate,” is also being sued by a former friend who claims Hernandez shot his eye out after the two left a Miami strip club. The suit states that Hernandez ‘possessed a gun which he was not legally licensed to have.’ In a lawsuit filed in federal court on June 13, attorneys representing Alexander Bradley, 32, state that their client, Hernandez and several others were at Tootsie’s strip club in Miami on Feb. 13 when Bradley and Hernandez got into an argument. The group then left the club, and while driving towards Palm Beach, Hernandez’s gun discharged inside the vehicle.”

Revisiting Flight 800: CBS News: “Former investigators are convinced a missile brought down TWA Flight 800 just south of Long Island in 1996, and they have petitioned the government to reopen the probe, citing new evidence. All 230 passengers and crew were killed when the New York-to-Paris flight crashed July 17, 1996, shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy Airport. The six former investigators have been brought together for a documentary, Flight 800, which will be shown on the EPIX cable network. They say the key piece of allegedly new evidence is in the form of radar analysis showing that there was a high velocity explosion, specifically that debris was ejected perpendicular and southward from the aircraft at MACH 4. They filed a petition with the National Transportation Safety Board Wednesday morning. The NTSB did not give a time frame in which they will respond to the request, only saying it must be based on new evidence.”

A Few More Quick Hits From Slate

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Explainer: Which Is Safer: City Streets or Prison?

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