The Takeaway, 5-25-17: Greg ‘The Hammer’ Gianforte vs. Rob ‘The Singing Cowboy’ Quist

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05/25/2017
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The Takeaway: Polls and Insights 

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Daily Data Point: Greg ‘The Hammer’ Gianforte vs. Rob ‘The Singing Cowboy’ Quist 
by Sean Trende

Here at The Takeaway, we’re dedicated to bringing you the latest polling news, in a brief, accessible format that doesn’t require you to weed through a lot of text.  Every now and again, however, non-polling stories will simply be too good for us to pass up.  Today is one of those days. 

The at-large congressional race in Montana to replace now-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke was looking a bit too close for comfort; public polling showed a lead for Republican nominee Greg Gianforte of about 10 points over Democratic nominee Rob Quist.  Both candidates had issues; Gianforte is a businessman who had just lost a gubernatorial contest, while Quist is a cowboy musician who had regularly performed at nudist camps and had problems paying both his taxes and his contractors.  Private polling had a closer race, but most people thought the GOP candidate would win. 

Then last night news broke that Gianforte allegedly picked up Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs and threw him to the ground.  The initial reaction is that this should be the end of the road for Gianforte, who was later charged with misdemeanor assault. 

But we’d caution against that reaction.  It isn’t necessarily wrong — we think it could easily prove correct — but there are a few countervailing considerations to be mindful of. First, this is Montana, and it isn’t clear how an assault on a reporter for a British publication will play there. It may be that people will think, to paraphrase “Sling Blade’s" Karl Childers, “some folks just need body slammin’."  (This would certainly be the reaction from some in my home state of Oklahoma.) Second, and perhaps more importantly, Montana opened the early voting window approximately a month ago.  It’s estimated that two-thirds of the votes have already been cast.  That still leaves a substantial pool of persuadable voters, but they will have to make up for any early voters who might have changed their mind when presented with this information.

Regardless, this race was already likely to be closer than the GOP would like.  It almost certainly just became at least somewhat closer.
 

Daily Polls

 Presidential Approval 
According to Gallup:

  • 39% of Americans approve of President Trump’s job performance, while
  • 55% disapprove

According to Rasmussen Reports:

  • 48% of likely voters approve of President Trump’s job performance, while
  • 52% disapprove
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RealClearPolitics Today for 05/25/2017

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RCP Front Page:

Donald Trump Discovers Muslims

Roger Cohen, New York Times

Trump Tells Muslim World to Stop Enabling Terrorism

Megan Oprea, The Federalist

From 9/11 to Manchester

Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal

Somebody Tell Trump–Russia Is Still an Adversary

Michael Daly, The Daily Beast

America’s New, Reality-Based Foreign Policy

Newt Gingrich, Washington Post

Trump Can’t Add Things Up

Gail Collins, New York Times

Obama’s Failure to Grow Economy Doesn’t Mean It’s Impossible

Stephen Moore, IBD

Mick Mulvaney’s Compassion–Not for the Needy

Patricia Murphy, Roll Call

Comey Affair Will Be a Decisive Victory for Trump

Conrad Black, American Greatness

2018 Is Beginning to Look Like a Very Good Year for Democrats

Chris Cillizza, CNN

California’s Looming Health Care Disaster

Edward Morrissey, The Week

A Road Trip Through Rusting and Rising America

Thomas Friedman, New York Times

Can Trump Make America Grow Again? The Signs Are Hopeful

Andy Puzder, WSJ

Obama Administration’s Spying on Americans

James Rosen, FOX News

Trump’s EPA Is Set to Break a Major Promise

Emily Atkin, The New Republic

Send the Paris Climate Deal to Die in the Senate

Christopher Horner, DC Examiner

Trump’s Budget Requires and Should Produce Optimism

Washington Examiner

Republican Health Care Bill Indicted, Again

USA Today

The CBO Is Often Wrong But Never More Modest

Wall Street Journal

Donald Trump Meets Pope Francis

The Economist

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Daily Bulletin for 05/25/2017

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05/25/2017
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Resonant-Frequency Collapse Theory Busted

Ethan Siegel, SWaB!

The collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on the morning of November 7, 1940, is the most iconic example of a spectacular bridge failure in modern times. As the third largest suspension bridge in the world, behind only the George Washington and Golden Gate bridges, it connected Tacoma to the entire Kitsap Peninsula in Puget Sound, and opened to the public on July 1st, 1940. Just four months later, under the right wind conditions, the bridge was driven at its resonant frequency, causing it to oscillate and twist uncontrollably. After undulating for over an hour, the middle section collapsed,…

Pyramid Conceals Traces of Early South Americans

Lizzie Wade, Sci Mag

About 600 kilometers north of Peru, an imposing earthen mound looms over the sea. People began building the ceremonial structure, called Huaca Prieta, about 7800 years ago. But according to a new study, the true surprise lies buried deep beneath the 30-meter-tall mound: stone tools, animal bones, and plant remains left behind by some of the earliest known Americans nearly 15,000 years ago. That makes Huaca Prieta one of the oldest archaeological sites in the Americas and suggests that the region’s first migrants may have moved surprisingly slowly down the coast.

Verdict in: Schiaparelli Ill-Prepared for Landing

Paul Rincon, BBC News

The crashed European spacecraft Schiaparelli was ill-prepared for its attempt at landing on the surface of Mars.That’s the conclusion of an inquiry into the failure on 16 October 2016.The report outlines failings during the development process and makes several recommendations ahead of an attempt to land a rover on Mars in 2020.That mission will require more testing, improvements to software and more outside oversight of design choices.

Ethiopian Cave Served Ancient Artists for 4,500 Years

Annalee Newitz, AT

45,000 years ago, in an area that is now part of Ethiopia, humans found a roomy cave at the base of a limestone cliff and turned it into a special kind of workshop. Inside, they built up a cache of over 40 kilograms of reddish stones high in iron oxide. Using a variety of tools, they ground the stones into different colored powders: deep reds, glowing yellows, rose grays. Then they treated the powder by heating it or mixing it with other ingredients to create the world’s first paint. For at least 4,500 years, people returned to this cave, known today as Porc-Epic, covering its walls in…

World’s Most Sensitive Dark Matter Detector Online

Ian O’Neill, Space.com

After three years of construction, the world’s most sensitive dark matter experiment is online, and scientists report that the detector is operating as designed. The XENON1T detector hasn’t found any dark matter particles yet, but it has carried out a 30-day science run, and project scientists are optimistic about the future.

Zika Outbreak Flew Under the Radar

Laura Beil, Science News

The Zika virus probably arrived in the Western Hemisphere from somewhere in the Pacific more than a year before it was detected, a new genetic analysis of the epidemic shows. Researchers also found that as Zika fanned outward from Brazil, it entered neighboring countries and South Florida multiple times without being noticed.Although Zika quietly took root in northeastern Brazil in late 2013 or early 2014, many months passed before Brazilian health authorities received reports of unexplained fever and skin rashes. Zika was finally confirmed as the culprit in April 2015.

Alternative Medicine Not Answer to Opioid Crisis

Ross Pomeroy, RCScience

America’s opioid epidemic is not manufactured hype; it’s real. Prescription painkillers are now more widely used than tobacco. Opioids were to blame for 31,000 overdose deaths in 2015, a 300 percent increase from 1999. Of the top ten drugs involved in overdose deaths, half are prescription opioids.

Tracking Bacterial Travel Through Hospitals

Tracy Staedter, Live Science

In the first study of its kind, researchers have conducted a yearlong survey of the bacteria in a newly constructed hospital, starting two months before the facility opened and continuing over the next 10 months.Initial results of the Hospital Microbiome Project, published today (May 24) in the journal Science Translational Medicine, provide an unprecedented map of the microbial communities that inhabit a hospital on the patients, the staff and the surfaces. The study also gives researchers foundational information that could improve the understanding of hospital-acquired infections, the…

Sound Meets Flexible Electronics

Kendra Redmond, Physics Central

Voice-securing your ATM card. Talking to your newspaper over coffee. Projecting your voice to a room full of people using only a thin, lightweight loudspeaker that fits in your pocket. With new research published last week in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists from Michigan State University and Georgia Institute of Technology has opened the door to these possibilities.Last week, the team introduced the first ultrathin, flexible, scalable device that can convert mechanical energy to electrical energy and vice versaacting like both a microphone and a loudspeaker. To…

Tissue-Independent Cancer Drug Passes FDA Hurdle

Heidi Ledford, NN

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued its first approval of a cancer drug that targets tumours with specific mutations, regardless of where in the body the tumour first took root.This deviates from the agency’s previous approach: although a drug’s use may have been linked to the presence of a particular molecular marker, the FDA still required individual approvals for that drug based on the tumour’s location.The new approval, announced on 23 May, expands the use of a drug called pembrolizumab, manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. of Kenilworth, New Jersey.

A Whale of a Tale: How Did They Get so Big?

Madeline Sofia, NPR

Whales are the largest animals on the planet, but they haven’t always been giants. Fossil records show that ancient whales were much smaller than the currently living behemoths.So when did whales get so big, and how?A new study suggests it might be due to changes in climate that affected the food that some whales eat: krill and small fish. Instead of being spread throughout the ocean, lots of krill started being packed into a small area. Bigger whales were simply more efficient at eating the dense pockets of krill, and they beat out their smaller cousins.

Narwhals Stun Prey With Their Tusks

Kacey Deamer, Live Sci

Narwhals are sometimes known as the “unicorns" of the ocean because of the long “tusks" that protrude from the animals’ heads, but scientists have long been stumped about the function of this mysterious appendage until now.Drone footage of wild narwhals has revealed that the whales use their tusks to hunt fish. The tusk is actually a tooth that spirals out of the upper jaw on male narwhals, and can extend to about 10 feet (3 meters) long, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada. While scientists think the tusk’s primary function relates to selecting a mate, these new…

Second Black Hole Spotted in Cygnus A Galaxy

Alison Klesman, Astronomy

Cygnus A is an elliptical galaxy nearly 800 million light-years from Earth. In its center is a supermassive black hole at least a billion times the mass of our Sun, which appears to have recently gained a companion. New observations of this galaxy with the National Science Foundation’s Very Large Array (VLA) have unveiled a second bright object located near its central supermassive black hole an object that radio astronomers think is a second supermassive black hole, destined to merge with the first.Based on radio observations taken with the VLA in 2015 and 2016, astronomers have spotted…

Physicist and Literature Professor Talk Time Travel

Bower & James, Conv

Literature professor Simon John James and physicist Richard Bower were both involved in the curating the exhibition, Time Machines the past, the future, and how stories take us there. Their conversations quickly revealed to them the many, wildly various, meanings of time travel. Here, they discuss how time travelling in literary and scientific terms might, one day, coincide.

Ocean-Fertilization Experiment Incites Controversy

Jeff Tollefson, Nature

Marine scientists are raising the alarm about a proposal to drop tonnes of iron into the Pacific Ocean to stimulate the growth of phytoplankton, the base of the food web. The non-profit group behind the plan says that it wants to revive Chilean fisheries. It also has ties to a controversial 2012 project in Canada that was accused of violating an international moratorium on commercial ocean fertilization.The Oceaneos Marine Research Foundation of Vancouver, Canada, says that it is seeking permits from the Chilean government to release up to 10 tonnes of iron particles 130 kilometres off the…

Link Between Air Pollution and Insomnia Debunked

Science 2.0

Tablet and phone marketing executives can sleep well tonight. While those devices are commonly blamed for recent sleep problems, beams of pure digital energy shot straight into the eyeballs will do that, a new paper seeks to shore up the failing claim that tiny particulate matter, PM 2.5 (2.5 microns per cubic meter of air), is impacting human health and should be the source of new regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency.The authors claim such particulate matter, 1/40th the width of even a human hair, can damage sleep. Larger particles are of course a problem. PM 10 is what is…

WHO Elects First African Director

Cumming-Bruce & McNeil, Jr., NYT

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of Ethiopia was voted director general of the World Health Organization on Tuesday, the first African ever to head the agency.The election was the first conducted by the W.H.O. under more open and democratic rules. After nearly two years of public campaigning, originally by six candidates, the voting took place in a closed-door session in which the health ministers of 186 countries cast their ballots in secret.

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RCS Today for 05/25/2017

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NFL Preseason Games Just Got Even Worse

David Steele, Sporting News

Show Real Toughness, Brady, Admit You Did Wrong

Sally Jenkins, Washington Post

No Reason for Notre Dame Football to Join ACC

Terrence Moore, Sports on Earth

Complicated, But Chris Paul Could End Up on the Spurs

Kristian Winfield, SB Nation

Return of ASG Will Help Restore Our Bad Reputation

Scott Fowler, Charlotte Observer

Yoga Helping Cubs’ Heyward Find Hitting Stroke

Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated

Shortening NFL Overtime Is a Band-Aid Solution

Rodger Sherman, The Ringer

Do You Like Ties? The NFL Has Good News for You

Ty Schalter, FiveThirtyEight

Let’s Dance! NFL Is Allowing More Fun

John Smallwood, Philadelphia Daily News

New QB Hoyer Is the 49ers’ Anti-Kaepernick

Mark Purdy, Bay Area News Group

Odell Beckham Jr. Still Hasn’t Grown Up

Steve Serby, New York Post

For Browns’ Osweiler the Tape Doesn’t Lie

Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland.com

What One Young Tennis Player Could Teach Us All

Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star

Why It’s Time to Rethink What NBA Coaches Wear

Brandon Sneed, Bleacher Report

Why Does Everyone Want ESPN to Fail?

Bryan Curtis, The Ringer

Building a Contender: Who Will Challenge the Pats?

Peter King, MMQB

Top 10 Baseball Brawls

Ben Krimmel, RealClearSports

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Manchester terror investigation ramps up

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RCP Morning Note, 05/25/2017: RNC Concerns; Trump’s Blue Streak; CBO Health Care Numbers; Superdad

05/25/2017
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Carl Cannon’s Morning Note

RNC Concerns; Trump’s Blue Streak; CBO Health Care Numbers; Superdad

By Carl M. Cannon on May 25, 2017 08:33 am
Good morning, it’s Thursday, May 25, 2017. Sixty-six years ago today, a writer named Whitney Ellsworth took his wife, Jane, and their 19-year-old daughter, Patricia, on a road trip. Leaving from their home in Greenwich, Connecticut, the family’s destination was Los Angeles, where Ellsworth had business. They planned to do some sightseeing along the way: The highlight was going to be the Grand Canyon. To be precise, Whit Ellsworth himself wasn’t looking forward to that part. He wasn’t too keen on heights for one thing, which is why he was driving to California instead of flying in the first place — and Ellsworth had extrapolated his phobia of heights to a fear of depths as well. Not that this really mattered. While his wife and daughter were taking in the splendors of the great national park, Ellsworth would be writing away in their room at The Grand Canyon Lodge. And as they began their journey on May 25, 1951, Ellsworth told his wife and daughter about a project he had in mind. While driving across the country, he explained, he was going to “noodle" on an idea for a Superman movie, and he planned to bat out the script while they toured the Grand Canyon. Ellsworth was as good as his word, as I’ll explain more fully in a moment. First, I’ll point you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which presents our poll averages, videos, breaking news stories, and aggregated opinion pieces spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a rich complement of original material from our own reporters and contributors, including the following: * * * RNC’s McDaniel Urges Party Focus Amid WH ‘Distractions.’ The new Republican National Committee chairwoman finds herself in the eye of the storm with the 2018 midterms on the horizon, Rebecca Berg reports. Rhapsody in Blue: Trump’s Tribute to Fallen Officers. Anneke E. Green lauds the president’s support for police, which marks a contrast to his predecessor’s relationship with law enforcement. Schiff: Intelligence Committee Will Subpoena Flynn. James Arkin has the details. CBO and America’s AHCA Headache. In RealClearHealth, Billy Wynne breaks down yesterday’s scoring numbers for the House-passed legislation. Alternative Medicine Is Not the Answer to the Opioid Epidemic. RealClearScience editor Ross Pomeroy argues that bad science is triggering a bad solution to the problem of drug abuse. Trump Budget Gets One Thing Right: Crop Reinsurance. In RealClearPolicy, Vincent H. Smith praises the administration’s proposal for taking on farm subsidies. Democrats Grill DeVos on School Choice and Budget Cuts. In RealClearEducation, Ford Carson and Christopher Beach report on the key moments from Cabinet secretary’s appearance before Congress on Wednesday. Eliminate Dodd-Frank’s Overrated Escape Hatch. In RealClearMarkets, Hester Peirce writes that the FDIC’s power to unwind troubled banks is creating great uncertainty within banks. Do Budget Deficits Matter? Also in RCM, editor John Tamny reviews Richard Salsman’s new book. “The Political Economy of Public Debt." Closing the Civilian Awareness Gap. In RealClearDefense, Kathy Roth-Douquet spotlights the need for heightened consideration of the pressures military families face. Congress Should Embrace BRAC. Also in RCD, Dan Caldwell urges lawmakers to support a new round of base realignment and closures in 2021 to trim waste and inefficiency. Gathering Intelligence or Hunting Terrorists? In RealClearBooks, Wes Culp has this Q&A with Thomas Henriksen, author of “Eyes, Ears and Daggers." ‘War Machine’ Takes Satirical Shot at War in Afghanistan, McChrystal’s Fall. In RealClearLife, the director of Netflix’s new movie discusses the controversial project. Meet the Air Force Officer Behind the Hot New Game of the Summer. Also in RCL, the developer of “Rollors" gives intel on how he runs his thriving games business while on combat tours. * * * The post-World War II years have been called the “golden age of comic books" and Whitney Ellsworth was in the middle of it all. The Brooklyn-born writer had signed on to DC Comics in the mid-1930s and risen through the ranks to the point where he was one of the principal creative forces for the pulp powerhouse. By the 1940s, he had creative control over the Superman comics, wrote the Batman newspaper comic strip himself, and was DC Comics’ liaison to Hollywood on various Superman serials and movie projects. Superman himself was born, so to speak, in Cleveland. The Man of Steel was the brainchild of two Glenville High School students, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. They eventually lost legal control to the superhero — it was hard for teenagers to get decent legal representation in those days — although Siegel kept his creative association with Superman and Clark Kent all his life and is in the Comic Book Hall of Fame. But back to our story about the Ellsworth family’s cross-country journey: The road trip took them through America’s oil patch, and by the time they emerged in the high desert of New Mexico, Whit Ellsworth had a plot in mind, which he shared with his wife and daughter. It seems that an oil well is being sunk near the edge of an unnamed southwestern town. For reasons that Ellsworth hadn’t yet worked out, it’s to be much deeper than any previous well, which attracts national attention. (This means, of course, that the Daily Planet is interested, so Clark Kent is dispatched from Metropolis to cover the story.) “When the well is sunk, nothing unusual happens for a few hours," Ellsworth told his spellbound wife and daughter. “Then, by night, three or four little creatures from the center of the earth are seen to clamber out from under the well cover, blink their eyes, and tentatively start out to explore the town. These little creatures … are completely innocent, meaning no harm whatever to mankind. The only thing is" — and Ellsworth paused for dramatic effect — “they’re radioactive!" He continued: “Eventually the little creatures encounter a little girl who wants to play ball with them. She even tosses them her ball, and they toss it back. But by touching her ball, they’ve made it radioactive, which we know because of how it glows! Some of the townspeople see the shiny ball and soon find out that there are creatures around from another realm. Well, as you can imagine, at this point all heck breaks loose." “Do those townspeople try to harm the creatures?" asked Ellsworth’s wife. “You bet they do," he replied. “They try to kill them." “But Superman comes to their rescue!" Patricia chirped happily. “Because luckily, Clark Kent is covering the story for the Daily Planet," added a relieved Jane. “Goodness, you two ought to write these things," Whit Ellsworth replied with a chuckle. He sounds like a good dad, doesn’t he? Well, that’s right, he was. And the movie that came from this trip, “Superman and the Mole Men," became a cult classic, with the writing title going to Richard Fielding, a pseudonym used when Ellsworth collaborated with movie producer Robert Maxwell. If it seems ironic that a man who was afraid to fly was dreaming up such bold adventures, it’s really not. You see, daughters, even those much younger than 19, don’t really expect their fathers to be superheroes. They expect them to come through when they’re needed, however, which is exactly what Whit Ellsworth did. Patricia Ellsworth Wilson, whose written account provided the details and dialogue I’ve cited above, suffered from myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune neuromuscular disease that causes weakness in the skeletal muscles. The following year, 1952, her father used some of the money he made bringing the Superman movie to life to form the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation, which still exists to this day. Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau chief, RealClearPolitics
@CarlCannon (Twitter)
ccannon@realclearpolitics.com

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RealClearEd Today: Democrats Grill DeVos on School Choice and Proposed Budget Cuts; Top Ed. Dept. Official Resigns After Clash With DeVos

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Education Today

Good morning, it’s May 25, 2017. This morning at RealClearEducation we have news, commentary, analysis and reports from the top of the education world.

Secretary DeVos appeared before a House Appropriations subcommittee yesterday and was grilled by Democrats over the administration’s proposed budget cuts and federal expansion of school choice. In perhaps the most important exchange of the hearing, Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., asked DeVos whether she would prevent private schools that receive public dollars from discriminating against students. Citing an example of a private Christian school in Indiana that denies access to gay students, Clark pressed DeVos on how she would treat that school if it applied for federal voucher funds. DeVos countered that it would be up to the states to decide. However, when Clark posed a hypothetical about black students, DeVos said that the Office for Civil Rights would step in.  

The exchange highlights a problem that supporters of school choice have debated for years – can public dollars flow to private schools without subjecting those schools to federal laws and regulations? This question is the reason that many conservatives have argued against a federal expansion of school choice. Yesterday’s exchange between Clark and DeVos will no doubt highlight their concerns even more. 

The hearing also contained an important exchange between DeVos and Rep. Martha Roby about Common Core and federal intrusion into standards and curriculum. DeVos agreed with Roby that ESSA prevents the federal government from dictating or influencing state standards and she said the department would follow the letter of the law. 

As Politico reports, the head of the Education Department’s student financial aid office resigned late Tuesday night. In a memo explaining his decision, James Runcie, chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid, stated that he was “encumbered from exercising [his] authorities to properly lead this great organization." He had also been ordered by DeVos to testify before the House Oversight Committee and refused, which also factored into his resignation. 

More than 60 Middlebury College students have finally been disciplined for their roles in the protest of Charles Murray and injury of a Middlebury professor. However, none of the students were suspended or expelled. Instead, the college said the punishments range “from probation to official college discipline, which places a permanent record in the student’s file."

Below are more highlights of the content already on our site this morning. To see everything we have, visit RealClearEducation.com.

NEWSMAKERS: Dozens of Middlebury College students are finally disciplined for their roles in the protest of Charles Murray and injury of a Middlebury professor. 
IN THE STATES: Following protests and a drop in enrollment, the University of Missouri names a new chancellor. 
Today on RealClearEducation:

Teacher Pensions
Analysis & Commentary

By: Charles L. Copeland, Modern Age
share on Twitter   Like   In Memoriam: Peter Augustine Lawler   on Facebook
By: Melissa Korn, WSJ
share on Twitter   Like   Yale Unionization Backers Protest Commencement   on Facebook
By: Jessica R. Towhey, RCEd
share on Twitter   Like   Education Rising in One of the Nation's Poorest States   on Facebook

Research & Reports

By: Scott Winship, Archbridge Institute
share on Twitter   Like   Economic Mobility: a State-of-the-Art Primer   on Facebook
By: M. Winters, Manhattan Institute
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Morning Volt for 05/25/2017

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05/25/2017
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Be Warned: $25 Oil Is Coming, and Along With It, a New World Order

CNBC

The world as we know it, will be no longer. The balance of power on a global scale will shift. All in the next decade.Sounds dramatic right? But independent think tank RethinkX believes it to be true, because of rapid advances in technology, and specifically the advent of self-drive or autonomous cars. First and foremost, RethinkX co-founder and Stanford University economist and professor Tony Seba told CNBC’s Street Signs that the rise of self-drive cars will see oil demand plummet, the price of oil drop to $25 a barrel, and oil producers left without the political or financial capital they…

Will OPEC Extend Output Cuts in Bid to Push Up Oil Prices?

Andrew Walker, BBC

Energy ministers from Opec, the oil exporters’ group, are meeting at their headquarters in Vienna to do something about it.They will be joined by delegates from some oil suppliers outside the group.On the agenda: whether to extend the oil production curbs agreed last year that are due to expire next month.

Should OPEC Worry About Contango and Backwardation?

John Kemp, Reuters

“Backwardation is the solution" to OPEC’s problem of how to raise output and revenues without sparking another shale boom, according to the influential oil research team at Goldman Sachs.Backwardation would allow low-cost oil producers in OPEC to sell their output at a higher price linked to the spot market while curbing growth from shale firms that sell at prices linked to the forward curve.Goldman’s strategy aims to “share growth" between OPEC and shale firms to avoid another repeat of boom and bust in oil prices (“Backwardation is the solution", Goldman Sachs, May 22).

US Fracking Is Ascendant, But OPEC Isn’t Dead Yet

Michael Bastasch, Daily Caller

OPEC member states and Russia will meet in Vienna Thursday, where they are expected to agree on continuing oil production cuts for another nine months.The petro states are seeking to keep crude oil prices from sliding below $50 a barrel. OPEC, Russia and 10 other non-member states agreed to reduce output by 1.8 million barrels per day in the first half of 2017.OPEC’s Thursday meeting, however, highlights the fundamental shift occurring in the global oil industry.

Home Batteries Aren’t Economical–Yet

Robin Sidel, Wall Street Journal

The promise of a battery that powers your home is that you can sock away energy for a rainy day as easily as putting money in a savings account.Around the world, more homeowners are experimenting with residential batteries, which grab energy when it is generated and store it for later use. The excess power can be tapped if the grid goes downin a storm, sayor during high-demand periods when electricity is more expensive.

Residential Solar Industry in the United States Stumbles

McDonald, Breaking Energy

In recent years the residential solar industry has been one of the hottest industries in the United States with the market leader SolarCity growing by 50% yearly. Growth has been driven by falling solar costs as well as tax credits such as the California Solar Initiative, and the Investment Tax Credit.But that was then and this is now, and with the last year several companies have left the solar industry, reduced their workforce, or gone bankrupt. SolarCity has been absorbed by another of Elon Musk’s ventures Tesla. Now the company has lowered it’s expectations for growth and has refocused…

Trump Budget Proposes Deep Cuts in Energy Innovation Programs

NY Times

President Trump’s budget proposal for 2018 envisions a flurry of changes to domestic energy policy, reaping billions of dollars in one-time revenue from oil and gas resources while cutting research into future energy technologies that could pay long-term dividends.Mr. Trump’s budget, released Tuesday, says it will raise about $36 billion over the next 10 years by selling off major American energy resources and infrastructure, opening up vast new areas of public land for oil and gas drilling, and redirecting state revenues from oil and gas royalties back to Washington.

Gas Prices Forced Electric Cars Out of Their Awkward Phase

Mike Brown, Inverse

Over the past decade, the public perception of electric cars has shifted dramatically: Surveys show that teens love Tesla, the Chevrolet Bolt was named car of the year, and in Shanghai, China, a plug-in hybrid Cadillac is winning over millennials. How did we get here?As more electric vehicles are taking off around the world especially in places like Oslo, where they have become very popular people are coming to realize that they’re not just a passing fad but something credible for the future, Naomi King, a postdoctoral researcher at Oxford Brookes University, tells Inverse.

There’s Way Less Coal Than We Thought

Eric Roston, Bloomberg

So it turns out global warming isn’t that bad after all.That’s exactly the conclusion Justin Ritchie doesn’t want the world to draw from the paper he just published.And for a good reason. It’s wrong.Ritchie, a Ph.D. candidate in resources and the environment at the University of British Columbia, was working as a teaching assistant in 2013 and trying to come up with assignments for his students. Looking through “business as usual" and worst-case scenarios for the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, he saw that reliance on coal for energy started ramping up around 2040.

Old Coal Mines Have a Place in the Future of Clean Energy

Joe Ryan, Bloomberg

Ben Chafin sees the future of clean energy in abandoned coal shafts.The Virginia state senator, whose Appalachian district is pockmarked with empty mines, pushed through legislation in April that encourages companies to transform those tunnels into giant storage devices to hold vast amounts of renewable power.The idea, which Dominion Energy Inc. has been studying, is to fill mines with water and then use electricity from wind and solar farms to pump it up to a reservoir on the surface. When utilities need power, operators open floodgates, letting water gush back into turbines on its way…

Nuclear Power in America Requires Political Resolve

David Gattie, Morning Consult

For three decades U.S. nuclear power has been strongly influenced by three forces one from the market, one from regulations and one from apathy. Consequently, nuclear power in America has lost ground that must be reclaimed in order to enhance grid reliability, meet economic and climate objectives, and maintain national security.In the early 2000s, fracking technology unlocked abundant U.S. natural gas resources giving the U.S. electric power sector the opportunity to develop a portfolio of unprecedented diversity comprised of coal, natural gas, nuclear and traditional and emerging…

These Are the Forks in the Road to Drilling Automation

Trent Jacobs, SPE

The low price of crude may have slowed the advance of drilling automation technology, but it clearly has not stopped it. Uptake is rising, chiefly in the US onshore market, where contractors including Nabors and Precision Drilling have recently rolled out their first batch of closed-loop automated rigs that take key pieces of the well construction process out of human hands.Service giant Schlumberger is doing the same after it acquired a number of drilling technology firms in recent years, including one that developed rig control systems for the competitiona factor that has been seen…

How Blockchain Could Upend Power Markets

Dick Munson, Energy Post

Blockchain, in short, is a secure, decentralized, and highly efficient way to manage and keep track of infinite transactions. Rather than being stored on a central server, peer-to-peer transactions are replicated across a number of computers, creating a data store that records exchanges in almost real time. To ensure the transactions are secure, authenticity and identity are maintained through cryptography and digital signatures.

The Saudi Oil Blunder That Will Keep Costing

Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg View

It’s all but decided that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and Russia will extend their so-called “production cuts" at Thursday’s meeting in Vienna. It’s clear, however, that the play has been a mistake for Saudi Arabia, which initiated it. It should have stuck with the policies of its former oil minister, wise Ali Al-Naimi, who had driven down the price of oil in 2014 and put the U.S. shale industry through the wringer.

Oil Is Not Going to Either $25 or $75 a Barrel

Nigam Arora, MarketWatch

With OPEC and Russia negotiations in play this week, I have been getting a lot of emails from investors about oil.Many have strong opinions. Some think oil CLN7, -0.33% is going to go down to $25 a barrel. Others think it is going to go up to between $75 and $100.Given my history of providing high-conviction opinions that have often been contrary, both bullish and bearish oil investors seem to want me to agree with their arguments. Take a look at the annotated long-term chart of oil. The chart is of a continuous futures contract, and for the sake of accuracy, I have not updated it. In terms…

Livestream: From Heartland to Homeland: The Energy Renaissance

RCP/API

Watch RealClearPolitics’s From Heartland to Homeland: The Energy Renaissance on Livestream.com.

‘Gas Apocalypse’ Looms Amid Power Plant Construction Boom

Bloomberg

The glut of cheap natural gas from a single, gigantic, shale basin that straddles the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest has sparked a massive construction boom of power plants. Dozens have been built in the past two years alone.There’s just one problem: There isn’t nearly enough electricity demand to support all the new capacity. And as wholesale electricity prices plunge, industry experts are anticipating a fire sale of scores of plants in the region.

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Presented by USAA MORNING RECON: Is the U.S. Navy Dying?; Closing the Civilian Awareness Gap; New Threats for Missile Defense; A-10 “Elephant Walk"

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5/25/2017
Visit RealClearDefense today for more defense news and insight.
 

Morning Recon

Presented by USAA

Good Thursday morning and welcome to MORNING RECON.
 On this day in 1944, American forces invade and take control of the Marshall Islands, long occupied by the Japanese and used by them as a base for military operations. Also, General George C. Marshall, in a memorandum to President Roosevelt dated February 3, 1944, wrote: ‘The fact that the ground troops, Infantry in particular, lead miserable lives of extreme discomfort and are the ones who must close in personal combat with the enemy, makes the maintenance of their morale of great importance.

RealClearDefense Exclusives:

Morning Mission Brief Podcast
Bombshell: Drink to the Foam
War on the Rocks Bombshell with special Guest Janine Davidson,
former Undersecretary of the Navy

Today’s Top Stories

NATIONAL Why President Trump’s Defense Budget Is Dead on Arrival
By Mackenzie Eaglen, The National Interest “President Trump’s first defense budget is a more muscular version of former president Obama’s plans. It is a budget that begins to repair—but does not rebuild—the U.S. military."

Trump Leaks Two U.S. Navy Subs Near North Korea
By Joseph Trevithick, The WarZone: “The United States may have two nuclear submarines positioned near North Korea, able to strike at the reclusive regime if necessary. These details emerged thanks to a confidential transcript of a phone call between President Donald Trump and his counterpart in the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte. “

Mattis Intervened to Increase Munition Buy in FY18 Budget Request
By Aaron Mehta, Defense News: “U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis personally intervened to increase the number of munitions being bought in the Pentagon’s fiscal 2018 budget request, pushing procurement of six specific weapons to the maximum production rate industry can handle, a top Defense Department official said Tuesday."

Boeing, DARPA to Build Experimental Spaceplane
By Irene Klotz, Reuters: “The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on Wednesday said it will invest up to $146 million in an alliance with Boeing to build an experimental spaceplane that can deliver small satellites into orbit on a daily basis."

Lockheed Martin Drops Out of U.S. Navy Missile Competition
By Christopher P. Cavas, Defense News: “Lockheed Martin, frustrated by changing requirements the company feels are skewed to a particular competitor, is dropping out of the U.S. Navy’s over-the-horizon missile program intended to give a lethal capability to littoral combat ships and frigates."

Navy Adds Second Attack Sub to 2021 Plans
By Megan Eckstein, USNI News: “The Navy plans to buy a second Virginia-class attack submarine in Fiscal Year 2021 to keep the industrial base building two SSNs a year even during Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarine procurement, several Navy officials confirmed today."

Air Force Accelerates F-35 “Threat Library" to ID Russian & Chinese Stealth Aircraft
By Kris Osborn, Scout Warrior: “The Air Force is accelerating development of a special, high-tech, on-board threat library for the F-35 designed to precisely identify enemy aircraft operating in different high-risk areas around the globe – such as a Chinese J-20 stealth fighter or Russian T-50 PAK FA 5th Gen fighter, service leaders said. “

U.S. Air Force: 30 A-10 Warthog “Elephant Walk"
By Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics: “The U.S. Air Force just staged an “elephant walk" of A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack jets as a show of force. The May 22 exercise took place at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. In a statement on Facebook, the base stated the exercise “was conducted in order to demonstrate the wing’s ability to rapidly deploy combat ready forces across the globe.""

INTERNATIONAL U.S., CHINA: U.S. Warship Challenges Beijing’s Claims in South China Sea
By Idrees Ali & Phil Stewart, Reuters: “A U.S. Navy warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, U.S. officials said on Wednesday, the first such challenge to Beijing in the strategic waterway since U.S. President Donald Trump took office."

COMMENTARY & ANALYSIS
 
Closing the Civilian Awareness Gap
By Kathy Roth-Douquet, RealClearDefense: “Our military, which deploys around the world to protect our nation, is an all-volunteer force. Those who choose to serve on our behalf willingly make the deep sacrifices that military service requires. For those who have not served in the military or been part of a family with an active duty service member, it can be hard to visualize just how difficult military family life can be."   
 
Congress Should Embrace BRAC
By Dan Caldwell, RealClearDefense: “Every Soldier, Sailor, Marine, and Airman knows that being overweight and out of shape hampers performance. In the same way, the bloated budget and wasteful inefficiencies at the Department of Defense (DoD) make our fighting force less effective. A good opportunity to trim that fat is through base realignment and closure (BRAC)." 
 
Missile Defense Needs to Address New Threats
By Mead Treadwell, RealClearDefense: “As North Korea works furiously to advance its nuclear missile arsenal to threaten our homeland, an upgrade of America’s missile defense systems could not come at a more crucial time." 

Lessons from Transforming the U.S. Military’s Approach to Talent
By Ash Carter, Harvard Business Review: “When Army 2nd Lieutenant Joseph Riley was a senior at the University of Virginia, he ranked 10th out of 5,579 in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) National Order of Merit List. Upon graduation, he was proudly commissioned an Army officer and selected as a Rhodes Scholar to study at Oxford, where he pursued a master’s degree in international relations. That was where the trouble began."
 
Is the U.S. Navy Dying?
By Dave Majumdar, The National Interest: “The United States Navy is in a dire situation when it comes to the readiness of its aircraft, ships and submarines. The blame for the situation can be laid directly at the feet of the U.S. Congress, which has failed time and again to pass a budget."

Beyond the Legend of Kokoda
By Sean Dorney, Lowy Interpreter: “‘Beyond the Legend’ is a good sub-title for this absorbing collection of contributions from an impressive array of former soldiers, military historians, academics and others from Australia, the US and Japan, brought together for an international conference at the Australian War Memorial in 2012 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign."
 
Res ad Triarios venit: Aging and Warfare in 2050
By Artur Varanda, Strategy Bridge: “"Things have come down to the Triarii." This is an old Roman saying, meaning that the situation has come to its bitter end. When the legions were essentially made of conscripted citizens, the Triarii were the oldest and wealthiest soldiers, and in battle they stood behind the lighter and younger Hastati and Principes. Usually, the Hastati were employed first, followed by the older and wealthier Principes, which usually were enough to win the battle. Having to commit the Triarii—the oldest, most influential citizens—into the mêlée meant that the situation was dire, and that victory was to be attained at all costs."

Combating Corruption
By David Jennen & Charles Barham, Small Wars Journal: “Transnational Organized Crime. TCOs threaten the United States for two principle reasons. First, TOC networks threaten U.S. national interests. TOC, like TTOs, find it easy to develop and mature in unstable countries or failed states with weak rule of law. They penetrate both government institutions and licit businesses where they increase corruption and contribute to increased instability. TOC has become increasingly complex and significantly threatens U.S. and international security by expanding their reach into areas that present a threat to public safety, public health, governmental institutions, and economic stability."

What to Expect at Today’s NATO Leaders Meeting
By Sara Bjerg Moller, War on the Rocks: “Although not officially a summit (the last NATO summit took place in Warsaw in 2016 and the next one won’t be until 2018), today’s meeting of NATO leaders comes at an important moment in the alliance’s evolution. Usually staid affairs, this gathering of leaders from all 28 NATO member countries promises to be anything but."

How NATO Endures in the Twenty-First Century
By Seth Johnston, Modern War Institute: “Nearly every aspect of NATO—from its missions to its membership—is strikingly different than at the Alliance’s founding in 1949."

Clearing the Air on Transatlantic Burden-Sharing
By Jordan Becker, War on the Rocks: “Transatlantic burden-sharing is atop the agenda for this month’s meeting of NATO leaders – President Trump’s first trip to confer with heads of state and government from the entire alliance. And for good reason."

Japan, South Korea Shaken by Pyongyang, Beijing – And Now, Washington
By Will Edwards, The Cipher Brief: “South Korea and Japan are attempting to maintain business as usual in their alliances with the U.S., but the Trump Administration has not made this easy. A gap between President Donald Trump’s unpredictable comments and the more measured statements of his top Cabinet members has made building relations difficult."

China’s Imperial Overreach
By Brahma Chellaney, The Strategist (ASPI): “Chinese President Xi Jinping’s tenure has been marked by high ambition. His vision—the ‘Chinese dream’—is to make China the world’s leading power by 2049, the centenary of communist rule. But Xi may be biting off more than he can chew."
 
SEND RCD YOUR INPUT: Please send your tips, suggestions and feedback to dcraig@realcleardefense.com and follow us on Twitter @RCDefense. If you are receiving Morning Recon for the first time and would like to subscribe, sign up here. View this email in your browser. | Not a subscriber? Sign up here.

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