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Vox Sentences: Madagascar has the plague

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EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will roll back President Obama's signature climate achievement; Trump unveils his DACA deal wish list; Madagascar is suffering an outbreak of the plague.


A key Obama-era regulation is about to be rolled back

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  • Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, will sign a new order rolling back the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which regulated the emissions coming from coal-fired power plants. [Associated Press / Adam Beam and Michael Biesecker]
  • The Clean Power Plan was Obama's biggest achievement on cutting emissions; it was a way to get electricity producers to stop generating power by burning coal and move toward more energy-efficient sources. [NYT / Lisa Friedman and Brad Plumer]
  • The plan was one of the first big steps to try to meet the emissions goals of the Paris climate agreement. [Vox / Brad Plumer]
  • By 2030, the plan was to reduce the power industry’s carbon dioxide pollution levels 32 percent below 2005 levels. It was so important because of the vast levels of pollution power plants spew into the air; scientists estimate these plants generate about 40 percent of total US carbon dioxide emissions. [Union of Concerned Scientists]
  • Pruitt has essentially characterized Obama's plan as the federal government playing favorites: unfairly trying to strangle the oil and gas industry in favor of boosting clean power. [CNBC / Tom DiChristopher]
  • Pruitt is a well-known friend of the oil and gas industry, and this move is a continuation of what he tried to do as Oklahoma's attorney general, when he and other state AGs sued the Obama administration over the plan. [NYT]
  • He will formally announce tomorrow that the rule will be rescinded, but the implementation will take months or years, as it has to first go through the federal rulemaking process. [Politico / Emily Holden]
  • Pruitt and the EPA could also propose a new rule in place of the Clean Power Plan that could recommend ways plants could be more efficient but not necessarily have to meet lower emissions targets. [Bloomberg / Jennifer A Dlouhy]

Trump still wants his border wall

Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • We now have a better idea what President Trump wants out of his immigration deal with Congress, in order to protect the more than 800,000 young unauthorized immigrants known as DREAMers. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • In a written list released Sunday night, the White House said that in order for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to continue, there must be a strict crackdown on illegal immigration. [NYT / Michael Shear]
  • For one thing, Trump reiterated his desire for a full border wall between the United States and Mexico. His administration is also advocating for a shutdown of programs allowing children fleeing violence in Central America to come to the US and encouraging companies to use an E-Verify program to check they’re not employing illegal immigrants. [NPR / Tamara Keith]
  • The White House also differs strongly from members of Congress on what protections for DREAMers should remain. For instance, Trump officials said the DACA program should not be considered a path to citizenship, which both Republican and Democratic lawmakers disagree with. [Politico / Seung Min Kim]
  • This list of demands comes after Trump’s much-talked-about meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, after which Democrats sounded optimistic about a deal with no border wall. This latest list of demands will be a huge sticking point as negotiations go forward. [Washington Post / Amber Phillips]

Plague: it’s not just for medieval times anymore

Henitsoa Rafalia/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • Madagascar, the island nation off the coast of Africa, is currently experiencing an outbreak of plague, a disease that’s normally associated with the Middle Ages. [Vox / Julia Belluz]
  • So far, over 40 people have died and 230 more have been infected in the latest outbreak. Normally, the country sees about 400 cases in a year. [Newsweek / Dana Dovey]
  • This outbreak spread when a 31-year-old man traveled inland to an area where the disease has proliferated in the past. After coming down with malaria-like symptoms, the man took a public taxi home and is thought to have spread the disease that way. [NPR / Rae Ellen Bichell]
  • The most common form of plague is bubonic plague, which is transmitted from rats to humans by infected fleas. Bubonic plague was responsible for Europe’s Black Death in the 1300s, when about 60 percent of the population died. [Science Magazine / Leslie Roberts]
  • Madagascar’s outbreak isn’t bubonic plague; it’s pneumonic plague. This is actually worse: Pneumonic plague is especially contagious because humans can transmit it to one another in the same way colds spread, while bubonic plague has to be transmitted by fleas. [Vox / Julia Belluz]
  • Plague is commonly thought of as a disease that had its heyday in medieval times, but that’s not entirely true. While it’s certainly less prevalent now, it’s never been wiped out completely. [Gizmodo / Tom McKay]
  • The World Health Organization is trying to mitigate the damage, shipping millions of antibiotic doses and face masks to Madagascar. [BBC]
  • Plague is usually easily treated with medicine and controlled with insecticides in wealthier countries (although the occasional case does pop up here and there), but outbreaks seem to be more prevalent in poorer countries that don’t have the resources for mitigation. [Washington Post / Marwa Eltagouri and Cleve R. Wootson Jr.]

Miscellaneous

  • As a high school student, White House adviser Stephen Miller reportedly once jumped into a girls' track meet to prove he could run faster because he was a man. The White House didn’t deny the claim. [NYT / Matt Flegenheimer]
  • New Zealand’s caves are full of glowing blue lights. They’re glowworms, maggots that can turn their bodies into celestial-looking lights. Scientists aren’t sure why the insects do this, but they think it may be to ensnare prey. [The Atlantic / Ed Yong]
  • Harvey Weinstein had a very bad weekend: After revelations of decades of alleged sexual harassment, he was fired from the Weinstein Company, which he co-founded, and his lawyer dropped his case after outside pressure. [NPR / Vanessa Romo]
  • Americans are getting married later and later, and economists believe it’s not just about the changing face of relationships; it's also about money and wanting to wait for financial stability. [The Guardian / Lucy Rock]
  • Slowly but surely, Mexico City’s street food vendors are starting up their businesses after a deadly earthquake devastated the capital city last month. [Eater / Natalia de la Rosa]

Verbatim

  • “It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” [Republican Sen. Bob Corker remarking on the Trump White House / Twitter]
  • “In a hallway, they had portraits of Kentucky civil rights leaders. She was the only African American woman on the wall. I stopped to read the inscription. It talked about her work with civil rights. At the bottom, it said she was murdered, and it was unsolved.” [Washington Post / DeNeen Brown]
  • “Stirling said he was also alarmed by a video he saw of Young, whose only medical degree is a doctorate in naturopathy from an unaccredited school, performing gallbladder surgery and giving essential oils intravenously at the clinic in Ecuador.” [New Yorker / Rachel Monroe]
  • “I always tell first-time sellers that buying clothing is like art, not science — we try to avoid rules when it comes to the buy counter.” [Buffalo Exchange manager Justin Goellner to Racked / Jaya Saxena]
  • “I understand that most Germans are wringing their hands at the thought that ‘Nazis’ will soon take the podium in the German parliament for the first time since the 1960s. But I wasn’t surprised in the slightest, because I’m black.” [Handelsblatt Global / Jennifer Neal]

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Correction: Corrected to say the event in Mexico City was an earthquake.