Hawaii Approves Bill Banning Sunscreen Believed To Kill Coral Reefs

Much of the inner reef at Oahu’s Hanauma Bay is dead after decades of tourism. The state may sign a law banning over-the-counter sunscreens believed to harm coral.

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Caleb Jones/AP

Hawaii lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that would prohibit the sale of over-the-counter sunscreens containing chemicals it says are contributing to the destruction of the state’s coral reefs and other ocean life.

If signed by Gov. David Ige, it will make Hawaii the first state in the country to pass such a law and will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

“Amazingly, this is a first-in-the-world law,” state Sen. Mike Gabbard, who introduced the bill, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “So, Hawaii is definitely on the cutting edge by banning these dangerous chemicals in sunscreens.”

The chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate, which are used in more than 3,500 of the world’s most popular sunscreen products, including Hawaiian Tropic, Coppertone and Banana Boat, would be prohibited.

Prescription sunscreens containing those chemicals would still be permitted.

As NPR reported, a 2015 study of coral reefs in Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Israel determined oxybenzone “leaches the coral of its nutrients and bleaches it white. It can also disrupt the development of fish and other wildlife.” Even a small drop is enough to damage delicate corals.

At the time, researchers estimated about 14,000 tons of sunscreen lotions end up in coral reefs around the world each year.

Opposition to the ban came from sunscreen manufacturers, including Bayer, the maker of Coppertone. And the state’s major doctors group said the ban goes too far.

The Star Advertiser wrote:

Bayer said there are limited, active ingredients available within the U.S. with the same proven effectiveness as oxybenzone for sunscreens over SPF 50. The Hawaii Medical Association said it wanted the issue to be studied more deeply because there was a lack of peer-reviewed evidence suggesting sunscreen is a cause of coral bleaching, and overwhelming evidence that not wearing sunscreen increases cancer rates.

Meanwhile, awareness campaigns about the damage caused by commercial sunscreen has spurred the growth of Hawaiian-made natural products, reported Outside.

Many Hawaiian businesses are not waiting for the governor to sign the law. They have begun implementing their own bans. “Nonprofits, athletes, and hotels in Hawaii are starting to create their own regulations for what can and can’t be used,” said Caroline Duell, founder of the Safe Sunscreen Council and owner of a natural-sunscreen company.

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United Airlines Will Ban Dozens Of Dog, Cat Breeds In New Pet Guidelines

Dunkin, a mastiff, is among the breeds that won’t be allowed to fly in the cargo section of United Airlines flights. He’s shown at the Westminster dog show in February.

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Mary Altaffer/AP

Following the death of a dog aboard a United Airlines flight that provoked an onslaught of criticism on social media, one of the nation’s largest carriers will ban certain breeds of cats and dogs from traveling.

On Tuesday the airline announced changes to its travel guidelines that would prevent future transport of more than 40 breeds of dogs and certain cats in the cargo hold “out of concern for adverse health risks,” the airline said in a statement. All other species will also be prevented from riding in the same area.

Effective June 18, some short-nosed or snub-nosed dogs, including pugs, Boston terriers and French bulldogs — the breed of the dog that died in March — won’t be allowed to fly in the plane’s lower compartment. Bigger, strong-jawed dogs have also been added to the no-fly list. That includes the American pitbull; the Dogue de Bordeaux, one of 16 types of mastiffs; and the Belgian Malinois.

Persian, Himalayan, Burmese and exotic shorthair cats will also be forbidden in the cargo area.

“We are doing this to further minimize risk and ensure the comfort of pets we fly,” Charles Hobart, a spokesman for United Airlines told People. “We flew all sorts of animals. Geese, foxes, leopards, you name it, we pretty much flew it. That will change moving forward. We’ll only fly dogs and cats as pets that belong to our customers.”

United Airlines partnered with American Humane to come up with the new rules.

“Certain breeds have unique respiratory challenges due to the anatomy of their noses and throats, and are more prone to risk when under stress or exposed to other environmental changes,” United Airlines explained in an email to NPR.

“American Humane will be performing a top-to-bottom examination of every aspect of air travel affecting the health and welfare of animals, and making recommendations for changes and adjustments to United’s service,” the email said.

To protect pets traveling from extreme heat conditions, United said it would also stop flying animals headed to Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Phoenix and Tucson between May 1 and Sept. 30 that would normally travel in cargo for those flights.

The airline said it is still reviewing policies concerning animals traveling in the cabin. For now, the airline said on its website:

United allows domesticated cats, dogs, rabbits and household birds (excluding cockatoos) to travel accompanied in the aircraft cabin on most flights within the U.S. An in-cabin pet may be carried in addition to a carry-on bag and is subject to a $125 service charge each way. …

Emotional support and psychiatric service animals are also accepted in cabin for qualified individuals with a disability if certain information and documentation are provided in advance of travel.

The new restrictions come after an investigation into the events leading up to the death of a French bulldog that was stored in an overhead bin.

According to a passenger who was on the flight, a flight attendant told the owner of the dog that she needed to store the dog with carry-on luggage.

By the end of the three-hour flight, the family found the small dog lying lifeless in its traveling bag.

At the time, the airline issued a statement calling the incident “a tragic accident that should never have occurred, as pets should never be placed in the overhead bin.”

Problems for the airline transporting pets continued. A day later, United Airlines mistakenly flew to Japan a dog that was headed to Wichita, Kan.

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In Oklahoma Pollution Case, Pruitt's Critics See 'Pay to Play'

The Illinois River is a popular with both locals and tourists in Oklahoma. But environmentalists say pollution has significantly damaged the water quality over the previous decades, turning once-clear streams and lakes murky.

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Sue Ogrocki/AP

Scott Pruitt, the current head of the Environmental Protection Agency, first came to national prominence back when he was Oklahoma’s Attorney General. In that role, he sued the agency he now runs 14 times, in a series of court cases alleging overreach by the federal government.

Environmentalists in Pruitt’s home state say Pruitt was much less aggressive when it came to enforcing Oklahoma’s environmental laws and going after polluters. An examination of Pruitt’s record on environmental issues in Oklahoma shows that Pruitt’s positions were often more in line with business andindustry than environmentalists.

As EPA Administrator, Pruitt has aggressively pursued an agenda to roll back Obama-era regulations on vehicle emissions standards, water quality and the climate. Pruitt has also said that he believes the science behind climate change should be up for debate.

The agenda to rein in regulation has endeared Pruitt to conservatives. But Pruitt is also facing at least 10 investigations involving allegations of ethics violations, misuse of taxpayer money and improper contacts with industry lobbyists.

Pruitt and the EPA did not respond to several requests for comment over nearly two months, including a four-page list of questions from NPR.

Environmentalists in Oklahoma say Pruitt’s current push for deregulation is a clear continuation of a pattern established when he was the state’s Attorney General. And they say a prime example of that pattern was a big fight over cleaning up the Illinois River.

Eastern Oklahoma, where water is like oil

Denise Deason-Toyne of the group Save The Illinois River is an advocate for protecting the scenic river, which is a major source of pride for the region.

Joe Wertz/StateImpact Oklahoma

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Joe Wertz/StateImpact Oklahoma

In Eastern Oklahoma, the culture and the economy run on the environment. This part of the state doesn’t look like the stereotype many people have of Oklahoma. Instead of sun-baked prairies and industry tractors, think forests and rivers — kayaks and trout fishing.

It’s a poor region, where people talk about water like it’s oil — a resource that brings in major tourism dollars.

Much of that water comes from one source: the Illinois River.

The river is so critical to the life and the economy of this part of the state, that Oklahoma designated it one of six “scenic rivers” worthy of special protections.

Decades ago, Oklahoma’s stretch of Illinois River and the lakes the river feeds were known for their pristine beauty.

“I know enough people that have told stories about [how] they could stand in the water up to their stomach and look and see they can see their feet clearly,” says Denise Deason-Toyne of the environmental non-profit Save The Illinois River. “And just imagine how beautiful that would be.”

That is no longer the case, and it has not been for decades. Now, the river is often green and murky, and it has been plagued by algae blooms, which harm fish and other aquatic life, and can even be dangerous to humans.

The slimy algae can also just look ugly, and impair a landscape that trades on its beauty. Deason-Toyne refers to it as “horse snot algae.”

The sources of pollution

Environmentalists attribute the degradation of the water to pollution from two main sources: wastewater treatment plants up the river in nearby Arkansas; and the large number of commercial poultry-growing operations throughout the Oklahoma-Arkansas border region.

A broiler hen sips water inside a chicken house owned in Lincoln, Ark. Environmentalists blame runoff from excess chicken manure for polluting Oklahoma’s scenic Illinois River.

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April L. Brown/AP

“The amount of chicken houses in some locations is just overwhelming,” says Deason-Toyne. “And each one of those holds several hundred if not thousands of birds. So you imagine you’ve got someone with 2,000 chickens and the amount of chicken litter they’ve got.”

Poultry litter includes bedding, feed, and feathers from the bottom of chicken houses, but the main problem that the litter presents for the river is chicken manure, which contains phosphorus and E. coli. Phosphorus, in particular, helps fuel the harmful algae blooms. (Human waste also contains phosphorus.)

Farmers in the region spread thousands of tons of the chicken manure on their fields, and it’s known as an effective and valuable fertilizer. “I’m told that it could grow grass on a rock,” says Deason-Toyne.

But the over-application of the manure contributes to phosphorous running off into nearby streams and rivers, where it ultimately pollutes Oklahoma’s once-pristine waters.

Attempting to restore Oklahoma’s water

Oklahoma and Arkansas have fought for decades over pollution in the Illinois River watershed, and the fight even reached the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 1992 decision, the court held that upstream states like Arkansas have to adhere to the water quality standards of downstream states like Oklahoma.

That case helped form the basis of a 2003 agreement signed by both Oklahoma and Arkansas outlining water quality standards, which Arkansas wastewater treatment plants were supposed to meet by 2012.

But that agreement did not address the issue of the chicken manure runoff.

Oklahoma’s then-Attorney General, Democrat Drew Edmondson, was known for prioritizing environmental cases, and he set up an Environmental Protection Unit at the office to pursue polluters. The unit included four attorneys as well as a criminal investigator with a background in engineering.

In 2005, Edmondson, on behalf of the State of Oklahoma, sued several major poultry producers over the waste, including Tyson Foods, Cargill and Simmons Foods.

The companies argued that they were being unfairly targeted for the broader pollution problem, and pointed to the amount of business they brought to the region.

“We spent five years of our life preparing this case, doing the science,” says attorney David Page, who was brought on to Oklahoma’s legal team for the case. “I mean that’s pretty much all I did for five years.”

The case finally went to trial in federal court in 2009. The trial lasted 52 days and included 60 witnesses and complex legal and scientific testimony.

“We fought for every inch,” says Page. “It was like a famous Civil War battle, where every square foot of property was fought with blood, tears, and sweat.”

When both sides finally rested, the case was left in the hands of Federal Judge Gregory Frizzell.

And soon after the trial ended, in early 2010, Scott Pruitt announced his run for Attorney General.

Poultry industry donations to Pruitt’s campaign

During the campaign, Pruitt received at least $40,000 in campaign donations from people associated with the poultry industry. It included donations from the company’s top executives at the time, including the Vice President of Tyson Foods, the company’s CEO and General Counsel, as well as attorneys associated with the defendants in the poultry case. In all, approximately four percent of Pruitt’s campaign funds came from sources linked to the chicken industry, according to the New York Times.

At the time, Pruitt’s opponent raised questions about whether Pruitt could remain impartial because of the donations. Pruitt’s campaign spokesman dismissed the criticism as, “a desperate attempt by a losing campaign.”

In an emailed statement to NPR, Tyson Foods spokesperson Gary Mickelson wrote, “Our employees are encouraged to participate in the election process of public officials at all levels, and are at liberty to make personal contributions to any campaign as they see fit.”

In November 2010, riding a wave of anti-Washington Tea Party sentiment, Scott Pruitt won the election for Oklahoma Attorney General.

That left attorneys in the poultry case and members of the office’s Environmental Protection Unit wondering: What now?

Scott Pruitt speaks on election night 2010, after his successful campaign for Oklahoma Attorney General. When Pruitt assumed office, he also took control over the state’s case against the poultry industry.

Sue Ogrocki/AP

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Sue Ogrocki/AP

How Pruitt handled the poultry case

Soon after the 2010 election, David Page, who worked on Oklahoma’s case against the poultry companies, saw Scott Pruitt at a restaurant in Tulsa. Page had known Pruitt because they had previously worked on a legal case in the 1990s.

“I’ll never forget this,” says Page.

“We shook hands, and I said, You know, I can’t wait to talk to you about this poultry case we have,'” Page remembers. “And he said, ‘Well, you know, Dave, I don’t believe in using lawsuits to change public policy.'”

Page says he believes Pruitt was sending the message that, “he didn’t believe in the poultry case.”

In fact, Pruitt later told The Oklahoman, “Regulation through litigation is wrong in my view…That was not a decision my office made. It was a case we inherited.”

Critics, including Page, say this demonstrates a double-standard, given the fact that Pruitt repeatedly sued the federal government over matters of public policy like immigration, health care and the environment.

“I guess I learned that he does believe in lawsuits for changing public policy if it’s a policy that he subscribes to,” says Page.

By the time Pruitt took office in 2011, the judge still had not issued a ruling. And as of May 2018, eight years after the trial ended, that is still the case.

Judge Frizzell told NPR and StateImpact Oklahoma that a decision is “forthcoming,” and has only been delayed by the case’s complexity.

Environmentalists and former officials with the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office blame Pruitt for the lack of action.

In 2005, Drew Edmondson, Oklahoma’s then-Attorney General, filed a lawsuit against several poultry companies, alleging that poultry waste was polluting the scenic Illinois River Watershed.


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“I would have thought of something [to push for a ruling],” says former Attorney General Drew Edmondson, “a motion to wake up or something of that nature.”

And attorney David Page says he believes the donations to Pruitt’s campaign played a role in the lack of action.

“Of course,” Page says. “I can see that he pretty much works with people who help his political career. So yeah, you give them money, you pay to play. That’s all there is to it.”

Pruitt ends the Environmental Protection Unit and modifies a water agreement

When Pruitt took over as Oklahoma Attorney General, he also ended his predecessor’s Environmental Protection Unit in favor of a Federalism Unit, intended to challenge the federal government over alleged “overreach.”

Kelly Hunter Foster, who ran the Environmental Protection Unit until 2010, says she worries that Attorney General Pruitt failed to prosecute polluters during his tenure.

“The work can’t be done in the same way in the absence of the Environmental Protection Unit,” Hunter Foster says.

In response to a written question from Democratic U.S.Senator Cory Booker about the decision to end the unit, Pruitt wrote, “I determined that a standalone unit was operationally inefficient. I opted to combine the Environmental Protection Unit and the Consumer Protection Unit into a single unit.”

But Hunter Foster, who now works for the environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance, compares the dismantling of the unit to removing a leg from a stool.

“There’s an important thing that makes the whole system function, that’s disappeared,” she says.

Hunter Foster also points to a key decision Pruitt made in 2013. That year, Pruitt extended the agreement with the state of Arkansas over water quality standards, and the stringent standard set in 2003 was suspended in favor of three years of additional study.

Pruitt called the agreement a victory for Oklahoma.

“This agreement ensures that the progress we’ve made will continue,” Pruitt said at the time.

Ed Fite, who ran the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission for more than three decades and still oversees the waterways for a state agency, said the agreement avoided possible litigation by industry or the State of Arkansas.

According to data obtained from the State of Oklahoma, the amount of poultry litter (or waste) applied in the Illinois River Watershed has increased in recent years.

Joe Wertz/Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry

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Joe Wertz/Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry

In a column for the Tulsa World, Fite called the agreement, “a practical and economical approach that will yield enormous environmental benefits.”

But environmentalists say the agreement was bad for the Illinois River.

They say the three-year study allowed for additional pollution to damage the watershed, and they contrast Pruitt’s uncompromising approach to the federal government with his willingness to negotiate over water quality.

“So many great people worked together for so many years to just try to protect this one unique special watershed in Oklahoma,” says Kelly Hunter Foster, who also helped negotiate the original agreement. “And for reasons that I cannot really fathom, the person who was Oklahoma’s Attorney General undid that, and then tells the public that …it’s a victory. I don’t have a word for how that makes me feel.”

Warning signs for the Illinois River

Pruitt and his defenders point out that water quality in the Illinois River has, in fact, improved in recent years.

The poultry industry says it has voluntarily removed more than 1 million tons of poultry litter in the watershed, even though the Oklahoma poultry lawsuit remains unresolved.

Environmentalists, however, worry the water pollution improvements could be tenuous.

New data from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry show the amount of poultry litter applied in the Illinois River Watershed has doubled in the last three years.

Joe Wertz is a reporter with StateImpact Oklahoma

Tom Dreisbach is a producer with NPR’s Embedded

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'Rachel Divide' Director Says Dolezal 'Has Remained Resolute'

After years of claiming she was black, Rachel Dolezal was outed as white in 2015. The Netflix documentary The Rachel Divide explores the fallout for Dolezal and her family.


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Back in 2015, Rachel Dolezal became a walking Rorschach test for America’s racial dysfunction. She was the president of the Spokane, Wash., NAACP chapter, and she was outed as white after spending years claiming she was black.

The public backlash, and fascination, was intense.

Now, the Netflix documentary The Rachel Divide shows what happened to Dolezal after the initial furor died down. Filmmaker Laura Brownson says, “There [was] collateral damage and fallout that [was] very big and very hard to recover from.”

The Rachel Divide features interviews with Dolezal, as well as her friends, family and critics. It also explores Dolezal’s childhood growing up with adopted black siblings. Dolezal and her sister have said the family was abusive (a claim their parents deny), and Dolezal was set to testify about that abuse when she was outed as white.

Interview Highlights

On what Dolezal’s life is like now

Rachel still doesn’t have a job. Rachel still struggles to pay the rent every month. She works braiding hair, that’s really the only kind of constant work that she’s been able to find. … It’s the phenomenon of becoming a media pariah, and the impact that that has on a family.

On whether the controversy changed Dolezal’s perception of herself

I think I imagined that Rachel would have a more traditional character arc; that she would move from a place of catastrophe to something else, and that that would in part be due to her growth. I did not get that character arc. She has remained resolute in her determination and in her perception of her identity.

On her decision to includeDolezal’s family history and abuse accusations in the film

There is no doubt in my mind [of] the trauma that Rachel, and also her siblings, endured during their childhood, which, you know, it was a very religious home. Corporal punishment was very much part of what they all experienced. And Rachel’s attachment to her [adopted black] siblings, I really think, began her kind of life’s journey in terms of disassociation from whiteness and an attachment to blackness. …

There are some things that are very difficult to get to the bottom of. And, you know, the truth is elusive with Rachel, and so we did allow for the parents to deny it and one of her brothers, Ezra, of course, to also suggest that none of these things happened.

On pressing Dolezal to explain why she won’t admit to being white

There came a time in our filming where it was quite apparent to me that I needed to give Rachel one last opportunity to say something different. … In that interview, she admitted that she can’t go back to whiteness; if she were to go back to whiteness, it would be letting her parents win. And I think it really is a real key to Rachel and her character.

On what drew her to Dolezal’s story

As a white woman, watching someone who was born biologically white — to watch her and understand, or try to understand, how she would give up all the privilege of whiteness and all of the things that, you know, come along with being white in our society. It was a fascinating thing for me to dig into from my own point of view. …

White people’s privilege, that the idea that a person can even consider changing their race … is an act, in many people’s opinion, of ultimate privilege.

On Dolezal’s reaction to seeing the film

It was a difficult thing for her to see. The film is quite critical and she doesn’t like to be criticized. And ultimately though, because her kids really come off as the shining stars and the moral compasses of the film, that softened Rachel a bit and there’s some pride in knowing that her kids at least come off looking well.

Justine Kenin and Melissa Gray produced and edited this interview for broadcast. Nicole Cohen adapted it for the Web.

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In The New York Real Estate Market, Trump's Name May Be Losing Its Luster

Workers remove Trump signage from Trump Place on Riverside Boulevard. on Manhattan’s West Side on Nov. 16, 2016. A separate building nearby has asked for permission to remove Trump’s name.

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Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

James Tufenkian loves everything about the 72-story glass tower where he lives on Manhattan’s East Side, near the United Nations. It has great views, a helpful and accommodating staff and is very well managed.

The only thing he doesn’t like is the name: Trump World Tower.

“I have to explain to everybody who comes to visit me that I’m sorry about the name on the building, that I live there doesn’t constitute any kind of endorsement,” says Tufenkian, who heads a New York carpet company.

New York may be the place Donald Trump calls home and made his fortune, but he remains distinctly unpopular in much of the city and lost the 2016 election to Hillary Clinton by a landslide there.

Now, there are signs the Trump name, emblazoned on high-end properties all over the city, is suffering the consequences.

Several buildings on the Upper West Side have already dropped the Trump name. The Trump Soho, a condo hotel launched with great fanfare a decade ago, is now known as the Dominick.

On Thursday, a condominium building at 200 Riverside Blvd. will ask a New York Supreme Court judge whether it has the right to drop Trump’s name if it chooses. A recent straw poll of building residents indicated that most want to do so.

The building, now known as Trump Place, is not owned by Trump, but it’s managed by the Trump Organization, which opposes the name change.

Elizabeth Holub, who owns an apartment there, says she has no complaints about the way the building, which has a highly desirable view of the Hudson River, is run.

“The reality is, it’s the best run building. It’s unbelievable. Every member of the staff. There’s no better place in the world to raise a family,” Holub says.

Still, she wishes it were named something other than Trump.

“Look, I can’t stand Donald Trump. I’m sorry he’s the president. I don’t support his policies,” she adds.

It’s not just politics that is making some buildings think about de-Trumping themselves. It’s also a matter of money.

While real estate prices have softened in much of New York over the past two years, especially at the high end, some evidence suggests that the Trump name can hurt sales.

One business official with deep knowledge of the real estate industry, who didn’t want his name used to protect his business relationships, said there’s no question Trump apartments are sitting on the market longer than they used to.

Even Trump Tower has recorded many fewer sales so far this year than it did during previous periods in 2016 and 2017, the official said.

As the home of the president, Trump Tower is guarded by the Secret Service, and residents have to endure intense security measures, which may have temporarily scared some buyers away.

But there are signs other Trump buildings in the city may also be losing value.

The online brokerage firm Zumper has studied rental prices at Trump buildings. Nathan Tondow, managing broker at the firm’s New York office, says in most cases, Trump buildings now fetch somewhat lower rents and sit on the market longer than they did two years ago.

More recently, the differences have narrowed, although Tondow says that may be due to seasonable factors.

This being New York, good apartments are always in short supply, and prospective tenants will always snatch up good deals, even when they’re named Trump, he says. But the Trump name does matter in some cases.

“We’ve had rental clients who didn’t want to see buildings, because they did have the Trump name on them. And we tried to explain that it is owned by someone else. It’s just the Trump name. And they say, “I know. But walking into that everyday just feels wrong.”

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment. But the company has pushed back against the lawsuit by 200 Riverside Blvd., insisting that the building is obligated to use the Trump name.

The president’s son, Eric Trump, recently told David Fahrenthold of The Washington Post, “I will always fight vehemently against rogue individuals not only to protect our incredible owners but also to protect the legacy of a true visionary who did so much to shape the New York City skyline.”

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A Temperature Roller Coaster Could Be Coming

A dried-out reservoir in Thailand.

Taylor Weidman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Taylor Weidman/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New research suggests that global warming could cause temperature swings to get unusually extreme. And the regions where the biggest swings will occur are among the poorest in the world — and the least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

Climate scientists already know that as the planet warms, there’s a bigger chance of extreme weather: bigger hurricanes, for example, or heavier rainfall.

But a temperature roller coaster could be on the way as well, according to the study, which appears in the journal Science Advances.

Sebastian Bathiany at Wageningen University in the Netherlands says his calculations indicate that variations in temperature will increase — the normal swings between high and low temperatures will get wider. The variations aren’t apparent yet but will be in coming decades, Bathiany says.

This won’t happen everywhere, because different conditions affect temperature in different parts of the world. In the tropics, soil moisture plays a big role in moderating or “buffering” temperature swings, according to Bathiany. It’s kind of like the so-called Goldilocks effect — moisture keeps temperatures somewhere in between very hot and very cold.

But a warming atmosphere dries out the soil. “And when you have drier conditions,” says Bathiany, “then the temperature fluctuations are not buffered as much any more, so you have larger temperature variability.”

Bathiany says if the planet continues to warm, temperature variability will be especially pronounced in the Amazon Basin and parts of Africa and Southeast Asia — wet places where a warming climate is drying things out.

Many countries in these regions “are not only poorer to deal with the impacts,” he says, “but also in this case the impacts will be worse” than in other parts of the world.

Worse because temperature variation in places like Europe and the U.S. isn’t expected to change much. Variation in northern latitudes isn’t dependent so much on soil moisture but on atmospheric weather patterns. In fact, temperature variability may actually decrease in those regions and in the Arctic — but with a notable exception: Summertime in the U.S. could see more temperature extremes.

Extremes, in fact, seem to be part of what a warmer world will bring. Another new study found that California will see more extreme wet and dry periods this century. They’re calling that the “whiplash” effect of global warming.

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Episode 575: The Fondue Conspiracy

Fondue party in the 1970s.


The popularity of fondue wasn’t an accident. It was planned by a cartel of Swiss cheese makers, which ruled the Swiss economy for 80 years.

On today’s show: we cut into the Swiss cheese. It’s a story about what happens when well-meaning folks decide the rules of economics don’t apply to them. And got the world to eat gobs of melted fat. Also, we meet a man known as the ‘Cheese Rebel.’

Find us: Twitter/ Facebook / Instagram

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts and NPR One.

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Aging Up


There’s this perception that successful entrepreneurs are invariably youthful, full of ideas and energy, and unburdened by responsibilities that come with middle age. Pair that with the idea that as we get older we decline cognitively, and it makes sense that we think of entrepreneurship as a young person’s deal, right?

Ben Jones at the Kellogg School of Management doesn’t agree.

He and a team of researchers, including from the Census Bureau, did a bunch of research on entrepreneurs. They found that the prevailing wisdom about the people who start up companies isn’t quite right.

Music by Drop Electric. Find us: Twitter/ Facebook.

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, PocketCasts and NPR One.

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