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Solar power!
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

Katrina at 10
4:50 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Former President George W. Bush on Friday visited New Orleans to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a catastrophe that was one of the low points of Bush's tenure. Bush praised the city's post-hurricane recovery, saying, "New Orleans is back, and better than ever." President Obama toured the city on Thursday, praising the city's resilience while also saying more needs to be done.

Read more at The New York Times. Ryu Spaeth

Not much has changed
2:59 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Turns out, Donald Trump was born this way. Even back in his college days, he was the same "brash, blunt, and sometimes bombastic personality" that we're all watching dominate the Republican presidential stage. Indeed, according to a new profile of The Donald in The Boston Globe, his signature antics may date as far back as the second grade.

While Trump is now merely throwing verbal punches at his foes, as a second grader he actually socked his music teacher because he "didn't think the teacher knew enough about music," The Globe reports. From there, Trump's story unfolds with one Donald-esque moment after the other. Here are some of the best:

  • Trump was voted "Ladies Man" by his all-male high school peers.
  • In college, he gave a professor this response when the class was asked why they'd chosen to study real estate: "I'm going to be the king of New York real estate." "Sit down, you [expletive]," one of his classmates recalls thinking.
  • One of Trump's former roommates recalls him being so meticulous that he "fold[ed] his underwear into squares and stack[ed] them neatly on a shelf."
  • During rides home from high school on a Port Authority bus, Trump would point out all of his dad's buildings in Queens. "My dad, he built all those homes over there," one classmate recalls him saying.
  • Trump's college attire, according to actress Candice Bergen, consisted of a "two-piece burgundy suit with matching burgundy patent leather boots, and, a particularly nice touch, a matching burgundy limousine." Bergen turned down Trump's request for a date.

But perhaps even better than these young Trump tales is this quote from one of The Donald's old classmates that sums him up all too well: "Tact wasn't his strong suit then and it isn't now."

Read the full profile over at The Boston Globe. Becca Stanek

This just in
2:57 p.m. ET
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Just one week before its season begins, the University of Illinois has fired head football coach Tim Beckman. ESPN's Adam Rittenberg reports Beckman's dismissal comes after an external review into the Illini football program found evidence of "efforts to deter injury reporting and influence medical decisions that pressured players" to avoid treatment and play through injuries.

"The preliminary information external reviewers shared with me does not reflect our values or our commitment to the welfare of our student-athletes, and I've chose to act accordingly," University of Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas said in a statement Friday announcing the firing. Thomas added that in addition to the medical concerns, Beckman treated some student-athletes "inappropriately with respect to whether they could remain on scholarship during the spring semester of their senior year," when their time as active members of the team was over.

It seems like the news may have come as a shock to Beckman, given that he had tweeted his excitement about upcoming opening day just an hour earlier:

Beckman coached the Illini for three seasons and amassed a 12-25 record. Offensive coordinator Bill Cubit will be the interim head coach for the coming season. Kimberly Alters

Only in America
2:31 p.m. ET
iStock

Facing a need for $743 million worth of repairs to crumbling infrastructure, the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, has told residents the city can fix its many potholes through the power of prayer. "Yes, I believe we can pray potholes away," said Mayor Tony Yarber, who is also a church pastor, on Twitter. "Moses prayed," he said, "and a sea opened." The Week Staff

This just in
2:15 p.m. ET
AP Photo/Jim Cole

Former St. Paul's prep student Owen Labrie, 19, was found not guilty in a high profile rape trial that cast a pall over the prestigious New Hampshire school. Labrie faced nine charges, three of which were for felony sexual assault. The jury only found Labrie guilty of a few misdemeanors, such as seducing a minor on the internet and misdemeanor sexual assault, NBC reports.

Prosecutors claimed that Labrie had raped a 15-year-old as part of a school tradition, called Senior Salute, where graduating students try to have sex with underclassmen. Labrie testified that he had two consensual sexual contacts that stopped before intercourse.

"I said, 'No, no, no, keep it up here,'" his accuser told the court, describing how she had tried to fight Labrie off. "I tried to be as polite as possible … I wanted to not cause a conflict." Jeva Lange

An interview for the ages
1:15 p.m. ET
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Unsatisfied with how the "lamestream media" has been questioning the GOP presidential candidates, Sarah Palin has decided to take it upon herself to conduct an interview with the contenders, including, of course, Donald Trump. While the conversation topics for Friday night's interview on One American News Network have not yet been revealed in their entirety, Palin made it very clear in a Facebook post that she plans to defend The Donald.

WTH, LAMESTREAM MEDIA! STAY OUT OF MY BIBLEWTH? Lamestream media asks GOP personal, spiritual "gotchas" that they'd...

Posted by Sarah Palin on Friday, August 28, 2015

If you somehow couldn't make it through all of Palin's post, here are the sparknotes: Palin wants to call out the media for its harsh attacks on, namely, The Donald. She's particularly incensed about the abundance of "spiritual 'gotchas'" that are used against GOP candidates, but not against the media's "favored liberal pals," presumably referencing a reporter's recent question about Trump's favorite Bible verse.

After lavishing praise on the Republican frontrunner for "screwing with the reporter" by refusing to answer the question that he found to be "very personal," Palin makes the case for the media assuming more of the Trump attitude to "empower Americans to reject [the mainstream media] and their bias as voters run to the anti-status quo candidates daring to Go Rogue."

The status quo is starting to look a whole lot better. Becca Stanek

Quotables
1:01 p.m. ET
NORTH KOREAN TV/AFP/Getty Images

There's nothing like the threat of nukes to help you get your way, according to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who bragged that peace negotiations with South Korea last week were successful due to his nation's potential threat of nuclear attack. While Kim agrees that both nations are now on the path of "reconciliation and trust" with their "landmark" truce, North Korea's official KCNA agency quoted Kim as saying, "[The deal] was by no means something achieved on the negotiating table but thanks to the tremendous military muscle with the nuclear deterrent for self-defense." Of course, Kim would say something like that.

North Korea had threatened to use force against South Korea over propaganda broadcasts launched when a North Korean land mine maimed two South Korean soldiers earlier this month. The two countries also exchanged fire at the border last week. During talks on Monday, North Korea offered an official statement of "regret" over the land mine, satisfying South Korean officials. The extent to which North Korea has advanced in their nuclear capabilities is unknown. Jeva Lange

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