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July 22, 2014

On Sunday, the eldest resident of Dharnai, India, flipped a switch and the village officially joined the age of electricity. But Dharnai, in India's northeastern Bihar state, did more than join a reliable energy grid — it became India's first village powered entirely by solar electricity. A few months ago, Greenpeace and two other NGOs that work in the area (BASIX and CEED) started building a solar power micro-grid to serve the village, and after a few months of testing, the autonomous 100 kilowatt system officially went online this past weekend.

The Dharnai grid serves about 450 homes, housing 2,400 residents, Greenpeace says, as well as roughly 50 businesses, streetlights, water pumps, two schools, health care center, and other public and private ventures. It has a battery to store excess electricity, for use during the sunless hours.

Germany reaching the milestone of (at least briefly) meeting more than half its electricity needs through solar is probably a bigger feat, but The Week's Ryan Cooper argues that projects like this in India and China will do more over the long term to counter the harmful climate effects of fossil fuel consumption.

And bringing reliable electricity to a town or village for the first time feels like a much bigger deal than switching from nuclear to solar power. It changes every aspect of life, from safety and health to entertainment and economic progress. Earlier this month, Andrew Satter at the Center for American Progress detailed what getting power for the first time does to villages in India, and Greenpeace does something similar in this video from newly solar-powered Dharnai. --Peter Weber

10:54 a.m. ET

The health news website Stat asked psychologists, psychiatrists, and experts in neurolinguistics to compare President Trump's way of speaking in 2017 to interviews he gave decades ago. "They all agreed there had been a deterioration," Stat reports, "and some said it could reflect changes in the health of Trump's brain."

Some of the experts noted that linguistic decline can result not just from neurodegenerative disease but also "stress, frustration, anger, or just plain fatigue." "In fairness to Trump, he's 70, so some decline in his cognitive functioning over time would be expected," pointed out New York City psychologist Ben Michaelis.

But others found the stark differences in Trump's way of speaking to be concerning:

In interviews Trump gave in the 1980s and 1990s (with Tom Brokaw, David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, Charlie Rose, and others), he spoke articulately, used sophisticated vocabulary, inserted dependent clauses into his sentences without losing his train of thought, and strung together sentences into a polished paragraph, which — and this is no mean feat — would have scanned just fine in print […] Now, Trump's vocabulary is simpler. He repeats himself over and over, and lurches from one subject to an unrelated one … [Stat]

"It's hard to say definitively without rigorous testing," said another New York City psychologist, John Montgomery, "but I think it's pretty safe to say that Trump has had significant cognitive decline over the years."

Dr. Robert Pyles of suburban Boston, who supports President Trump, said: "I can see what people are responding to" when they suggest there has been a decline. He added: "[Trump's] language difficulties could be due to the immense pressure he's under, or to annoyance that things aren't going right and that there are all these scandals. It could also be due to a neurodegenerative disease or the normal cognitive decline that comes with aging."

Read the full report at Stat, and read Ryan Cooper on why it's time to start talking about President Trump's mental health here at The Week. Jeva Lange

10:23 a.m. ET

President Trump paid a visit Tuesday to Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust memorial. While he was there, he left a brief message in the guestbook, in which he managed to incorporate the words "great" and "so amazing":

For comparison's sake, here's the message former President Barack Obama left in 2008, when he visited as a U.S. senator. It did not evoke comparisons to yearbook signings:

The chairman of Yad Vashem, Avner Shalev, told ABC News that he did not think the message Trump left in the guestbook, after his "very meaningful remarks," was "insensitive." "He touched all the essential elements that should be touched," Shalev said.

Trump stayed at the memorial for about half an hour before heading to the Israel Museum to deliver a speech. Becca Stanek

9:44 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump is considering setting up a "crisis management operation" as the scandals continue to mount, Politico reported Monday evening. Trump is apparently eyeing Corey Lewandowski, his first campaign manager whom he fired, and David Bossie, his deputy campaign manager, to head it up.

The possibility remains unconfirmed and no formal announcement is expected until Trump returns from his trip abroad, but Politico noted Trump wouldn't be the first president to set up a crisis unit in the face of an independent investigation. Former President Bill Clinton, for instance, tapped "masters of disaster" Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane to deal with questions about the Whitewater scandal.

Last week, the Justice Department announced it had appointed a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation into Trump's potential ties to Russia's election meddling. The announcement came on the heels of Trump's firing of former FBI Director James Comey, a decision the White House flailed to explain.

Fabiani told Politico that setting up a crisis management operation would be "exactly the right thing to do" in this situation, as it "allows you to the greatest extent possible to contain the investigation, to keep the investigation away from White House business, and to keep it out of the daily press briefings."

The question, Fabiani said, is whether Trump is looking at the right people to do it. Trump fired Lewandowski just before the Republican National Convention, after Lewandowski made headlines for yanking a reporter aside as she tried to ask Trump a question.

As for Bossie, Fabiani noted that he was known for "working to stoke the many scandals that swirled around the Clinton administration" as an Oversight and Government Reform Committee investigator in the 1990s. "He certainly knows how to set fires; whether he's good at putting them out or not, I have no idea," Fabiani said.

Read more at Politico. Becca Stanek

9:44 a.m. ET

Actor Roger Moore died of cancer Tuesday at the age of 89. Moore is best known for portraying James Bond in seven of the series' feature films, including Live and Let Die and The Spy Who Loved Me. He is often cited as being one of the "best Bonds."

"The affection our father felt whenever he walked onto a stage or in front of a camera buoyed him hugely and kept him busy working into his 90th year," Moore's children wrote in the announcement. "Thank you Pops for being you, and for being so very special to so many people." Jeva Lange

9:13 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is headed toward a clash with the White House over "a controversial pillar of the House GOP tax plan that effectively hikes taxes on imports," Politico writes. The policy is known as the "border adjustment tax," or BAT.

In an analysis of the plan here at The Week, Jeff Spross writes that while "companies that keep importing will likely pass the cost of the tax onto consumers ... if a border adjustment tax can corral more demand within the U.S. while creating jobs and increasing wages, the hike in consumer prices could well be worth it." President Trump and his administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, have expressed opposition to Ryan's plan in the past, even as Ryan has promoted the adjustment tax as "the smart way to go."

"I think it makes the tax code the most internationally competitive of any other version we're looking at," Ryan has said. "And I think it removes all tax incentives for a firm to move ... their production overseas."

Trump has said he doesn't "love" the proposal and called it "too complicated." But the White House has been unwilling to get too loud in its criticisms, and ultimately it is up to the House, not the Trump administration, to write the legislation. "Of all the things we have going on right now, I don't think [a battle with Ryan over the tax] is the No. 1 priority around here," a White House official said.

Read more about the battle over the border adjustment tax here at The Week. Jeva Lange

8:44 a.m. ET
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

For an entire week, Fox News lagged behind both MSNBC and CNN during primetime with the essential 25-to-54 demographic, the first time that has happened in nearly 17 years. "As the pro-Trump network, Fox is forcing itself to ignore or downplay major stories," Dylan Byers writes for Reliable Sources. "I'm guessing some Fox viewers are changing the channel just to find out what's actually happening in Washington."

While Fox News is likely concerned by the slump, the network still has the top primetime ratings and all-day ratings over the course of the month, Fortune adds. But Fox is certainly feeling the squeeze after a rough several months that have included the ousting of its top primetime host, Bill O'Reilly, and the departure of top talent Megyn Kelly.

Additionally, "we're not having this conversation if [Rachel] Maddow isn't hosting 9 p.m. at MSNBC," Byers writes. MSNBC was first in primetime, and was the second most-watched cable network behind TNT, which is airing the NBA playoffs. Jeva Lange

8:21 a.m. ET
Dave Thompson/Getty Images

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the explosion at a Manchester Ariana Grande concert that killed at least 22 and injured dozens of others, The Associated Press and SITE Intelligence Group report. A statement from the terrorist group claims the attack was "in response to their transgressions against the lands of the Muslims."

Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of the Greater Manchester Police said that the deadly explosion was likely caused by one man who used an "improvised explosive device" and died in the blast. Local police have additionally confirmed the arrest of a 23-year-old man in south Manchester in connection with the attack.

A former intelligence officer told BuzzFeed News that it is "highly unlikely" such an attack could be carried out by a single terrorist. "Explosives are sophisticated and prone to failing, so whoever prepared the device knew what they were doing," the former intelligence officer said. Jeva Lange

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