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

2:46 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

At a campaign rally in Macon, Georgia, on Monday night, Donald Trump toyed with demanding a $5 million payment to appear at the next Republican presidential debate. The reason? CNN, which is hosting the debate on Dec. 15, "doesn't treat me properly," Trump said. During the last GOP debate the news network hosted, he added, "CNN had 23 million people. It was the biggest show in the history of CNN." That gives the master negotiator the upper hand, at least in his estimation.

"How about I tell CNN that I'm not gonna do the next debate?" Trump proposed to the crowd. That got "tepid applause" from the crowd of about 6,000, NBC News says, so Trump elaborated, to cheers: "I won’t do the debate unless they pay me $5 million, all of which money goes to the Wounded Warriors or go to vets." He went on to say that people who are "really, really, really smart like I am" don't need teleprompter and that he doesn't listen to "talking heads, who are not smart people at all."

It's an interesting idea, that CNN needs Trump more than Trump needs CNN, and there are probably at least nine rival campaigns who hope Trump carries through with his threat to boycott the event. If he does, Trump told the crowd, "they'll say 'Trump is chicken.'... One thing I'm not is chicken, okay?" Okay. You can watch Trump's comments at RealClearPolitics. Peter Weber

2:07 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

There was just one female Democratic senator not on stage with Hillary Clinton during a Washington, D.C., fundraiser and endorsement event Monday: Elizabeth Warren.

The Massachusetts senator signed a letter in 2014 that called on Clinton to run for president, but she has not endorsed anyone in the primary yet, and is one of just six Democratic senators who has not backed Clinton, ABC News reports. Clinton's campaign said all of the senators who endorsed her were invited to the event at the Hyatt Regency, but did not reveal if an invitation had been extended to Warren. "We're honored to have 13 women senators coming together to endorse and support Hillary Clinton," spokeswoman Christina Reynolds said in a statement. "This is a sign of the broad support Clinton is receiving from women across the country who know she'll fight for us."

When asked where Warren was, Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski told ABC News she wasn't sure, adding: "Maybe she has a cold." Warren's office did not comment. Clinton, a former senator from New York, had nothing but praise for her former colleagues, telling the crowd the women "have so much courage and smarts, the combination of grit and grace. It was the honor and privilege of my life to serve with them." Catherine Garcia

Clinton Emails
1:35 a.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On Monday, the State Department released 7,800 additional pages of emails from Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, the largest release of her emails to date.

Most of the emails were from 2012 and 2013, NBC News reports. On Sept. 12, 2012, one day after the attacks in Benghazi, Clinton was sent a declassified update that said events "were set in motion by a statement made by a Muslim Cleric in Egypt saying that the internet film was going to be shown across the United States on September 11 in an effort to insult Muslims." Clinton also received an email from her daughter, Chelsea, who wrote she was "so sorry about the State Department officer killed in Libya and the ongoing precariousness in Egypt and Libya. Such anathema to us as Americans — and a painful reminder of how long it took modernism to take root in the US…"

In 2012, Clinton talked politics with longtime aide Sidney Blumenthal and former Secretary of State Madeline Albright. On Jan. 22, Clinton wrote to Blumenthal about the upcoming primary in Florida, calling Mitt Romney "Mittens" and Newt Gingrich "Grinch." "If Mittens can't beat Grinch in Florida, there will be pressure on state Republican parties to reopen or liberalize ballot access especially in the caucuses, which as we know are creatures of the parties' extremes," she wrote. Right before the presidential election later that year, Clinton sent an email to Albright, telling her she was "so nervous about the election, I can't think about much else."

Also included in the latest batch was an email Clinton sent to aide Philippe Reines asking him for the Showtime channel number so she could "watch Homeland." After Reines asked if she had Comcast, Clinton replied: "You won't be surprised to hear I'm not sure." Catherine Garcia

1:23 a.m. ET

The global climate change summit in Paris, COP21, is a pretty big deal, with a lot riding on what the 150 or so world leaders commit to for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Given what's at stake, there are quite a few points of friction, especially between rich and poor countries, and in the video below, The Wall Street Journal explains the goals, expectations, and the challenges of the summit succinctly and instructively. "COP21's stated aim is to combat climate change," concludes reporter Jason Bellini, but "the nitty-gritty of negotiations could mostly be about the worldly concern of money." It's a helpful primer to the talks and the buzzwords you'll hear or read about in other coverage of COP21:

While the WSJ explains how COP21 is trying to save humankind's future, The Economist focuses on how countries are already adapting to the real, painful effects of climate change, focusing on Bangladesh:

The main takeaway is probably that, with aid, developing countries can and are adapting to increased drought, flooding, and other massive disruptions to their livelihood, but if the rate of change doesn't slow considerably, nature may outrun humanity's ability to stay in heavily affected regions. The subtext is that if the inhabitants of Bangladesh and elsewhere can't survive in their home countries, they'll have to go somewhere else, probably in large numbers. Peter Weber

12:33 a.m. ET
Allison Shelley/Getty Images

While speaking at a rally for Donald Trump on Monday in Georgia, Herman Cain made it clear that he doesn't trust the press or Republican establishment when it comes to the GOP frontrunner.

In Macon, Cain said he has to "continue to set the record straight every day" because "a lot of people in the media and the establishment" are "trying to bring down Trump with lies." The former Republican presidential candidate also recited and elaborated on the Declaration of Independence, adding that men and women are "endowed by their creator — not man's, not the Democrats — with certain inalienable rights, among these life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It says, when any form of government becomes destructive of those ideals — life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness — it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it. We have some altering and abolishing to do with a new leader in the White House. My name is Herman Cain."

Earlier in the day, Cain went after Jeb Bush, writing on his website that he took issue with the candidate comparing their presidential runs, The Hill reports. "At least I was once winning," Cain wrote. "Jeb Bush has been losing throughout his entire campaign. His problem is him." Catherine Garcia

security breach
November 30, 2015
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

A hacker who gained access to the servers of Hong Kong electronic toymaker VTech obtained more than just the email addresses, passwords, and home addresses of nearly 5 million adults — he or she also found tens of thousands of photos of children.

"Frankly, it makes me sick I was able to get all this stuff," the hacker, who asked to remain anonymous, told Motherboard's Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai. "VTech should have the book thrown at them." The hacker said some of the data came from VTech's Kid Connect service, which lets parents using an app on their smart phones chat with their kids on a VTech tablet. The hacker found thousands of pictures used as avatars on the app, chat messages between parents and their kids, and audio files. "I have the personal information of the parent and the profile pictures, emails, [Kid Connect] passwords, nicknames... of everyone in their Kid Connect contacts list," the hacker said.

The hacker said he will not sell or publish any of the data he obtained. VTech said in a statement that "as an additional precautionary measure," it was suspending several of its websites, including its app store, Learning Lodge. Catherine Garcia

war of words
November 30, 2015
Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

In Paris on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Turkey of shooting down a Russian warplane near its border with Syria because the country is involved in oil trade with the Islamic State.

"We have every reason to think that the decision to shoot down our plane was dictated by the desire to protect the oil supply lines to Turkish territory," Putin said. ISIS brings in millions of dollars a month by selling oil illegally, and Putin said he had information that shows ISIS oil is passing through Turkish territory, the BBC reports. Turkey, which is part of the U.S.-led coalition carrying out airstrikes against ISIS, denies having ties to the group.

Turkey says the Russian jet entered its airspace Nov. 24, while Russia insists it didn't; one pilot was killed and the other rescued. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the incident "unfortunate," but said because the country was defending itself, Turkey has no reason to apologize to Russia. On Monday, Russia said it planned to ban imports of fruits, vegetables, and agricultural products from Turkey, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded by saying his country would act "patiently, not emotionally" before addressing the sanctions. Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads