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July 11, 2014
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If you think mega cities like Tokyo, Delhi, and Shanghai are crowded now, just wait until 2045.

More than half of the world's seven billion people live in urban areas, a United Nations report released on Thursday states, and that number is expected to rise to more than six billion by 2045. Why will 2.5 billion people make the move to cities? John Wilmoth, director of the Population Division in the UN's Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said it's due to a "preference of people to move from rural to urban areas, and the overall positive growth rate of the world's population, which is projected to continue over the next 35 years."

Much of the growth will take place in developing countries in Asia and Africa, Reuters reports, with India expected to add 404 million more city residents, China 292 million, and Nigeria 212 million, all by 2050. The cities need to be fully prepared for the influx, with adequate education, transportation, and housing, Wilmoth said. "The thing to be afraid of is situations in which governments do not plan for the growth that is going to take place," he added. "Then you can get sprawls, and slums and cities that are not pleasant places to live." Catherine Garcia

9:51 a.m. ET
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Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough on Tuesday slammed Senate Republicans for being willing to jam through the health-care bill just to get to the next legislative battle. "You talk to these jackasses behind closed doors and you go 'what are you doing' and they go 'we've got to get to the tax bill so we've got to do this first,'" Scarborough said, marveling at the fact some lawmakers were willing to change "one-sixth of the economy so we can get to a tax bill."

Scarborough also took a swipe at President Trump. "There is no attempt to hide the fact that Donald Trump is breaking every promise he made and that they will have a disproportionate — in fact hurting — older, middle-income Americans," he said, referring to the bill's massive cuts to Medicaid.

Trump has promised not to cut Medicaid funding, but the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday that the Senate health-care bill would slash funding for Medicaid by $772 billion over the next decade. "Grandma and grandpa are coming home to live on the couch downstairs," said Morning Joe contributor Mike Barnacle. "Thrown out of the nursing home."

Watch the segment over at Mediaite. Becca Stanek

9:25 a.m. ET
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Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has just days left before he gets to return to his own bed in Utah, leaving his Capitol Hill office cot behind for good. But before he goes, Chaffetz has called for a $2,500 monthly housing stipend to help lawmakers afford living in D.C.

"Washington, D.C., is one of the most expensive places in the world, and I flat-out cannot afford a mortgage in Utah, kids in college, and a second place here in Washington, D.C.," Chaffetz told The Hill. "I think a $2,500 housing allowance would be appropriate and a real help to have at least a decent quality of life in Washington if you're going to expect people to spend hundreds of nights a year here."

Chaffetz agreed that $174,000 is a "handsome" salary for a congressman but added that the extra $30,000 a year would "allow the non-millionaires to participate and you would be able to have your spouse join you here. If I wasn't buying as many airline tickets, it would ultimately be less expensive."

A stipend of $2,500 a month would run taxpayers around $16 million a year if all 535 members of Congress received it. As of May 2017, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in D.C. was $2,091 a month.

"I really do believe Congress would be much better served if there was a housing allowance for members of Congress," Chaffetz said, adding: "There are dozens upon dozens of members living in their offices, and I don't know how healthy that is long term." Jeva Lange

8:39 a.m. ET
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A majority of Canadians now dislike the United States, a first since records began being kept 35 years ago. Likely, though, it has been much longer since Canadians felt so negatively about their southerly neighbors: "Maybe it was pretty bad in 1812," Environics Institute executive director Keith Neuman quipped to the Toronto Star, "but there's no data for that."

Under President Trump, only 43 percent of Canadians view the U.S. favorably, with 51 percent holding a negative view. The revelation comes from a Pew study that also found just two countries trust America more under President Trump than under former President Barack Obama. Canadians are especially stung, though: Under Obama, 83 percent of Canadians trusted the American president to do the right thing, while just 22 percent feel the same confidence in Trump.

Historian Jack Granatstein, an expert on Canadian anti-Americanism, offered the Star an explanation. "Most Canadians think, I believe, that the Americans go into periodic episodes of utter craziness, and they're in one now," said Granatstein. "So it's not surprising that Canadians would reach back to their tribal beliefs and assume that. It's a long history." Jeva Lange

8:15 a.m. ET
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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is apparently unaware of the widely cited internet adage that the person who first brings up Nazi leader Adolf Hitler automatically loses the argument — or maybe he just doesn't care about Godwin's Law. On Tuesday, North Korea's state-controlled Korean Central News Agency argued that President Trump's America First policy "is the American version of Nazism far surpassing the fascism in the last century in its ferocious, brutal, and chauvinistic nature," and "Nazism in the 21st century," comparing Trump to Hitler.

The KCNA specifically cited U.S. sanctions against North Korea tied to its nuclear weapons program, calling them "an unethical and inhumane act, far exceeding the degree of Hitler's blockade of Leningrad," and compared Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement to a violation of international norms worse than Hitler's concentration camps. "Satellite imagery shows that North Korea operates a network of prison camps, which a United Nations report in 2014 compared with 'the camps of totalitarian states of the 20th century,'" The Wall Street Journal notes dryly. "North Korea denies their existence."

Pyongyang frequently deploys belligerent language about the U.S., but this kind of verbal attack on Trump is new. "The coarsening language toward the administration, and toward the president himself, seems to reflect a slowly sharpening discussion within the regime," Robert Carlin, a visiting scholar at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation, writes at the site 38 North. The Nazi references also come a few days before South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, travels to Washington to meet with Trump, and follows the death of American student Otto Warmbier, who died shortly after North Korea released him from 18 months of captivity. Peter Weber

8:15 a.m. ET

Fox News is facing mounting accusations that it is acting as a kind of "state media" for President Trump, claims that are not going to be assuaged by the president's early morning retweets. On Tuesday, President Trump shared four different Fox & Friends tweets without comment:

Trump also promoted a book by Fox News host Eric Bolling…

…And — why not — took a shot at CNN, too.

On Sunday, CNN's Brian Stelter argued that Fox & Friends acts as an "infomercial" for the president. "The show is pro-Trump, anti-media, and remarkably repetitive," Stelter said. "Watching for an entire week, we saw lots of the president's friends, but almost no dissenting voices. It's all about showering Trump with positive attention and burying his perceived opponents with negative attention."

New York Times reporter Mike Forsythe was blunter. "Anyone who has reported in authoritarian countries recognizes this style of 'interview,'" he said of a recent Trump appearance on Fox & Friends. "This is state media. This is Xinhua America." Jeva Lange

7:49 a.m. ET

As a sharp American social critic once said, "truth is stranger than fiction." Television writers are learning that the hard way, though, as the real-life drama in Washington, D.C., dominates — and entertains — the nation. "I'm very jealous," Veep showrunner David Mandel jokingly confessed to The Associated Press. "We work very hard on our scripts. They seem to be better at the job than I am."

"We are in extremely unusual times," agreed Homeland executive producer Alex Gansa, “and sometimes it feels like nothing we dramatize on Homeland can be nearly as scary as what's actually happening on the world stage."

House of Cards showrunner Frank Pugliese said: "Our job is to research and explore what's possible, then take it to the extreme to entertain and grab attention," adding: "But it's concerning when a politician feels they have to do the same thing for themselves." Melissa James Gibson, also a House of Cards showrunner, noted that watching Washington "engenders a sick impulse — 'what's he going to do today?' — where we're looking for our drama from the real-life president, as if THAT were a show."

You can't say Mark Twain didn't warn us: "Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities," he explained. "Truth isn't." Jeva Lange

7:28 a.m. ET
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On Tuesday morning, the European Commission ordered Google to pay a larger-than-expected $2.7 billion (2.42 billion euros) fine over its comparison-shopping service and ordered the search giant to change how its shopping results are displayed to end what the EU antitrust regulators have deemed illegal anti-competitive behavior. It is the largest anti-competition fine the EU has ever imposed, and more than double the $1.2 billion fine it levied on chipmaker Intel in 2009. (Intel appealed, and a final ruling is expected next year.) The European Commission gave Google 90 days to acceptably end its flagged behavior or face a penalty of 5 percent of the daily average global earnings of its parent company, Alphabet — or about $14 million a day.

"Google's strategy for its comparison shopping service wasn't just about attracting customers by making its product better than those of its rivals," EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. "Instead, Google abused its market dominance as a search engine by promoting its own comparison shopping service in its search results, and demoting those of competitors. What Google has done is illegal under EU antitrust rules. It denied other companies the chance to compete on the merits and to innovate." Google disputed the EU's characterization of its shopping service and said it may appeal the ruling.

This is the latest EU salvo at U.S. tech giants, following punitive actions against Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook in recent years. "European regulators — whose countries have lost the game of tech, pipes, and content — are getting aggressive in trying to constrain the behemoths," suggests Axios. Though $2.7 billion is a record, "Alphabet can afford the fine," BBC News notes, as Google's parent company "currently has more than $172 billion of assets." It also has $92 billion in cash, The Associated Press says, adding that "the penalty is likely to leave a bigger dent in Google's pride and reputation than its finances." Still, Vestager said she may use the EU ruling as a template for similar complaints about Google Maps, local business listings, and flight ticket prices. Peter Weber

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