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Due to its proximity both to a melting Greenland and to a rapidly warming Arctic, the North Atlantic is particularly vulnerable to the production of powerful swirls of warm and cold air.
A persistent swirl of disorganized clouds in the Central North Atlantic - continuously re-charged by frontal systems sweeping down from Baffin Bay and feeding on warmer than normal sea surface temperatures may become the first tropical cyclone of 2017. If it later forms into a tropical storm, it will become the third out-of-season named storm to form in the Atlantic over the last 15 months.
Georgia House race goes into runoff, seen as Trump referendum (USA Today) Democrat Jon Ossoff fell shy of a major blowout Tuesday night in a special election in a solidly Republican Georgia congressional district, a race the entire country was watching to gauge the strength of a gathering resistance to President Trump. David Wasserman, House editor for the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, had earlier predicted the race would go to a runoff after Ossoff's margin in more liberal leaning precincts was not strong enough. Though Ossoff needed to clear 50% to prevent a June runoff, his near miss should send up flares to congressional Republicans. In November, Republican Tom Price, who held the seat before becoming Trump's Health and Human Service secretary, comfortably won re-election by a 24-point margin. Ossoff will face Republican Karen Handel, who was running in second place, in a June 20 runoff.
Trump claims credit as Georgia congressional election appears likely to head to runoff (CNBC) Democrat Jon Ossoff fell below the 50% level needed to claim an outright win against a mass of opponents in a closely-watched special election on Tuesday in Georgia's 6th congressional district, likely setting the stage for a runoff in June. Ossoff sought to parlay opposition to President Donald Trump into a victory that would rebuke the White House and embolden Democrats ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. With 84% of 210 precincts reported, Ossoff was at 48.6%, according to a live election update on The New York Times site (see next article), below the majority threshold required to win the race outright. New York Times political writer Nate Cohn said there are mail-in ballots still to count, though not enough in his estimate to change the outcome.
Mnuchin Warns Health Care Debacle Will Delay Tax Reforms (The Huffington Post) U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Trump administration’s timetable for tax reform is set to falter following setbacks in negotiations with Congress over healthcare, the Financial Times reported on Monday. Mnuchin told the Financial Times in an interview that the target to get tax reforms through Congress and on President Donald Trump’s desk before August was “highly aggressive to not realistic at this point".
Oklahoma Ends Wind Subsidy Despite Generous Tax Breaks for Fossil Fuel Industry (EcoWatch) Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill into law Monday that will end a state tax credit several years early for electricity generated by wind power. Under the new legislation, wind farms that start producing energy after July 1 will not be able to claim the state's "zero emission tax credit" program. The credit was originally set to expire in January 2021. Fallin acknowledged that the program, which pushed claims from $3.7 million in 2010 to $113 million in 2014, helped Oklahoma become the third-largest producer of wind power in the country. However, the Republican governor noted that the state's estimated $868 million budget shortfall necessitated the phaseout of wind incentives.
But Fallin and state lawmakers have been criticized for keeping generous tax breaks in place for the oil and gas industry while squeezing other public services such as school funding during the budget crisis.
Oklahoma's wind subsidies are dwarfed by subsidies to the oil and gas industry, David Blatt from the Oklahoma Policy Institute pointed out.
"The estimates of the cost of subsidies for wind producers vary, but we do know they are substantially less than the $400 million to $600 million cost of subsidies for oil and gas," Blatt wrote.
Nevada Secretary Of State Says She Has Evidence Of Voter Fraud In Presidential Election (The Huffington Post) The Nevada secretary of state has accused her state’s Department of Motor Vehicles of facilitating voter fraud and said she has evidence non-citizens voted in last year’s presidential election. Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske (R) wrote in a letter Friday to DMV Director Terri Albertson that DMV workers had been accepting voting applications from non-citizens and forwarding them to the secretary of state’s office. Cegavske said she had evidence non-citizens voted in the presidential election, but didn’t elaborate.
The ACLU of Nevada said in a statement on Monday that election officials, not the DMV, had the burden of verifying the eligibility of voters.
Under the National Voter Registration Act, the DMV “cannot make determinations regarding voter eligibility" and must send voter registration applications to state election officials for a judgement, the ACLU said.
How Does The ‘Mother Of All Bombs’ Stack Up? (Aviation Week) Hat tip to Gary. A U.S. Special Operations MC-130 has dropped the largest nonnuclear bomb the U.S. has ever deployed, on Islamic State group terrorists in a series of caves in Afghanistan, marking the first time the U.S. has used the 21,000-lb. so-called Mother Of All Bombs in combat. Despite its powerful blast, the MOAB may not be the most powerful conventional bomb in the world. Russia’s “Father Of All Bombs," or FOAB - officially called the Aviation Thermobaric Bomb of Increased Power - is reportedly four times as powerful as the MOAB, yielding the equivalent of 44 tons of TNT by using a new type of high explosive. However, U.S. defense analysts have questioned the veracity of Russia’s claims concerning the weapon’s size and power. Go to article for full slide show.
Where does referendum leave Turkey's ties with West? (Al Monitor) Experts whom Al-Monitor spoke with say Turkey-EU ties will not be severed in the way some on both sides of the fence are calling for. They add that the “unhappy relationship" will continue to muddle along because of vital interests. Turbulence in Turkey’s relationship with the United States is also expected to continue, despite the fact that President Donald Trump was the only Western leader to congratulate Erdogan on his referendum victory. But few expect a serious breakdown in these ties, too.
Anadolu Agency’s unofficial results show 51.4% for the "yes" vote, about 1.2 million more than the "no" vote. However, opposition parties urge a recount for 60% of the ballots, claiming fraudulent voting and the voting council's last-minute, possibly illegal changing of its rules at the AKP’s request.
The legitimacy of the results remains highly contested. "No" votes prevailed in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and several other major cities, along with Kurdish-majority areas. As Erdogan was speaking, hundreds of people spontaneously started banging pots and pans in Beyoglu district. On the social media site Periscope, recordings of protesters marching in several cities were shared all night.
Overall, as an observer for 30 years, I can say this referendum was a bad idea - everyone in Turkey lost except for the lucky few in Erdogan’s top circle, at least for the short term. Now the question is: How will Turkey, in its precarious position, shift to the presidential system?
Trump administration says Iran complying with nuclear deal (Associated Press, CNBC) The Trump administration has notified Congress that Iran is complying with the 2015 nuclear deal negotiated by former President Barack Obama, and it has extended the sanctions relief given to the Islamic Republic in exchange for curbs on its atomic program.
However, in a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan sent late Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the administration has undertaken a full review of the agreement to evaluate whether continued sanctions relief is in the national interest. Tillerson notes that Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terrorism and that President Donald Trump had ordered the review with that in mind.
Why China is beating the U.S. at innovation (USA Today) While the United States is still at the top in total investment in research and development - spending $500 billion in 2015 - a new Boston Consulting Group (BCG) study released Monday has made a startling finding: A couple of years ago, China quietly surpassed the U.S. in spending on the later stage of R&D that turns discoveries into commercial products. And at its current rate of spending, China will invest up to twice as much as the U.S., or $658 billion, by 2018 on this critical late-stage research. And this late stage development is what leads to profits and economic growth.
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