×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
May 9, 2014
Thinkstock

Scientists have wondered what more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will mean for food crops, and a new report answering that question has experts worried.

In a new study published in Nature, researchers shared findings from recent experiments on crops conducted around the world. NPR reports that scientists put carbon dioxide jets in open fields, releasing 500 parts per million of C02, the amount estimated to be in the air in 40 to 60 years (currently, carbon dioxide reaches roughly 400 parts per million). Researchers grew rice, wheat, and peas, and discovered that while crops grew faster and had yields increase by 10 percent, there was also a 5-10 percent reduction in nutrients like protein, zinc, and iron.

"If elevated CO2 or other climate change processes are working against us, we're going to have to work even harder to raise those levels," Michael Grusak, a researcher with the USDA's Children's Nutrition Research Center, told NPR. Scientists are not sure why this happens, but believe it could be that as plants produce more food, trace nutrients become diluted.

Zinc and iron deficiencies are already affecting two billion people around the world, with serious consequences: A lack of zinc prevents a child's immune system from working properly, and insufficient iron intake lowers the IQ of children, NPR says. As it is, many of the most popular crops in the world, particularly rice and corn, already don't have much iron or zinc; they are staples mainly because they are inexpensive. An international effort is now underway to create new varieties of crops through plant breeding, shooting for higher levels of these nutrients. --Catherine Garcia

8:49 a.m. ET

Comcast has formally offered $31 billion for Britain's Sky PLC, putting it in a showdown with Rupert Murdoch's Fox, BBC reports. "We have long believed Sky is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast," said Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts. "Sky has a strong business, excellent customer loyalty, and a valued brand. It is led by a terrific management team who we look forward to working with to build and grow this business."

Twenty-First Century Fox owns 39 percent of Sky, but Murdoch has long wanted to purchase the 61 percent his company doesn't already own, making a $16.3 billion offer in December 2016. British regulators have raised objections to his bid.

Sky said Wednesday that it is withdrawing its recommendation of the earlier Fox bid "as a result of the announcement of this higher cash offer." Fox said in a statement that it is "considering its options," CNN reports. Jeva Lange

7:53 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, President Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcomed French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, to the White House, and "much affection was shared" — at least between presidents, Jimmy Kimmel said on Tuesday's Kimmel Live. Melania had on "her special Donald-proof sombrero," but the two presidents were very publicly affectionate.

"Donald Trump and Macron have an interesting relationship," Kimmel said. "Trump very much needs a friend — because, you know, most of his old ones are going to prison — and Macron is looking to improve his country's standing in the world, and the United States can help with that. So these two need each other, and Donald Trump really cannot keep his hands off this guy. ... He gave him the full Stormy Daniels there." And "a little touch of dandruff-shaming didn't put their love-fest to an end," either, he added.

The main event of the state visit, however, was Tuesday night's state dinner, and the first lady apparently put her imprimatur on every aspect of the meal — and then posted a video to prove it. "And you know, putting an event like this together is a lot of work, and it's tedious, and so, to spruce it up — since it is Avengers week — we took that video of Melania's dinner setup and we gave it the Marvel movie music treatment."

The first lady's staff includes only 10 people, and so there was worry that she would have trouble pulling the dinner all together, Kimmel said, but "she had no problem at all, thanks in part to a special new meal deal from one of her husband's favorite spots." You can watch that abomination below. Peter Weber

7:09 a.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court is hearing its final oral arguments of the session on Wednesday, and it's one of their highest-profile cases of the year: President Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries. Trump's third iteration of his travel ban has been in full effect since December, but the challengers, repressed by former acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal, will argue that the ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, as well as North Korea and a limited number of Venezuelans, is an unconstitutional manifestation of Trump's promised Muslim travel ban. The Trump administration will say that the ban is a lawful exercise of the president's broad discretion over immigration and national security matters.

The line to get in to hear the oral arguments has been growing for days, and in a step the justices haven't taken since the same-sex marriage case in 2015, the Supreme Court will release audio of the arguments hours after they end. The justices are expected to hand down their decision in the case, Trump v. Hawaii, by late June. Peter Weber

6:28 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

EPA chief Scott Pruitt's liberal public spending on first-class airplane tickets, soundproof phone booth, and 24/7 security happened after Pruitt replaced his first chief of security with Pasquale "Nino" Perrotta, a former Secret Service agent who reportedly encouraged or proposed many of the expenditures. Perrotta also owns a private security business on the side, and during the 2016 election he moonlighted for American Media Inc. and its chairman and CEO, David Pecker, a longtime friend of President Trump, The New York Times and The Associated Press report, citing records and interviews.

It isn't clear what duties Perrotta, 50, performed for AMI, publisher of the National Enquirer — which promoted and protected Trump and smeared his rivals during the 2016 election — and Radar. But the Times reports that "some of the activities included physical security, cybersecurity, and investigative services involving litigation," and AP said that "Perrotta was engaged to discretely handle investigative work at the direction" of Pecker.

On Tuesday, Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent a letter to the EPA's Office of General Counsel asking for information on Perrotta's outside work. In 2013, he got a five-year waiver from the EPA to operate "a security firm that will provide cybersecurity and denial of service insurance to consumers," and he then founded Sequoia Security Group. Carper and Whitehouse said Perrotta's side job appears to have exceeded the permitted activities.

In an email to the Times, Perrotta noted that he "was a highly respected federal agent" and complained that the news coverage of Pruitt's questionable spending and security measures have "tarnished" his image. He added that he is "retiring as planned" this summer, and argued that he "served two former administrators and now to end my career this way is totally unacceptable." You can read more about his ties to Trump's circle and an apparently useless $3,000 bug sweep of Pruitt's office at The New York Times. Peter Weber

5:15 a.m. ET

You could generously call it a dress rehearsal, but when Meghan Markle first declares that "you are the husband I've always wanted" during her televised wedding, she won't be saying it to fiancé Prince Harry on May 19 at Windsor Castle. It will be on Wednesday, in the season seven finale of Suits, Markel's show on the USA Network.

This will also be Markle's swan song as Rachel — her wedding to Mike (Patrick J. Adams) will usher them off the show. "We know there's another wedding on the horizon for Ms. Markle," USA said, modestly, "but just seeing her here in all of her bridal resplendence is a fairy tale come true." In most fairy tales, of course, the bride marries a prince. Entertainment Weekly got a sneak peak of how the fictional wedding will look.

Markle will retire from acting to focus on charity work after she marries into the British royal family, which is probably for the best — fake marriages may be an occupational hazard of the acting trade, but if saying "I do" to another man is slightly awkward a month before your actual wedding to a prince, it would be only more so after becoming a princess. Peter Weber

4:10 a.m. ET

In a break from tradition, President Trump did not invite any congressional Democrats or the media to Tuesday night's state dinner honoring French President Emmanuel Macron. "If he does not like you, you will not be there," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "Better luck next time, vegetables." There were some awkward moments between Trump and first lady Melania Trump in a public appearance with the Macrons earlier on Tuesday, and Colbert narrated the hat-enforced air kiss and the president's unsuccessful attempt at hand-holding. "Trump is like, 'Come on, Melania, I want to hold your hand,'" Colbert said. "It reminds of that Beatles song, 'Get Back.'"

At least Trump appears to have gotten on affectionately with Macron, Colbert said, showing their elaborate handshake/hug/kiss and then re-enacting it with bandleader Jon Batiste. "Compared to holding hands with Melania, he and Macron just performed the Kama Sutra together," Colbert joked. "Which one is he married to again?"

The Daily Show showed that in the end, Trump did manage to hold the first lady's hand — though it looks pretty ominous with the theme from Jaws playing in the background.

And in The Late Show's imagining of Melania Trump's elaborate preparations for the state dinner, she slipped a special message to Macron. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:16 a.m. ET

President Trump loves to use the word "choice" when discussing the Department of Veterans Affairs, but what he really seems to mean is fully privatizing veterans' care, Seth Meyers said on Tuesday's Late Night. "There's a debate to be had, but I'll just say that the Hoover Dam has been there for almost 90 years, while the Jamba Juice on your block that used to be a Curves is now a Chipotle." Veterans have had some "choice" since 2014 — "you know, back when your Chipotle was a Radio Shack," Meyers joked — and given the choice, "studies have shown that veterans overwhelmingly prefer to go to the VA for their care."

Former VA Secretary David Shulkin says Trump fired him because he wouldn't go along with privatization plans, and Trump's pick to replace him, White House doctor Ronny Jackson, appears to be going nowhere fast, amid mounting questions about his work and personal history. And "unfortunately, when it comes to decisions involving veterans, Trump reportedly seeks the advice of Fox News personality and Iraq War veteran Pete Hegseth, who favors an overhaul of the VA and who is on Trump's short list to be the next secretary of Veterans Affairs," Meyers said. "Now, you might be unfamiliar with Hegseth because you don't watch Fox News — or you're very familiar him, which means you're just hate-watching my show, and frankly, I don't appreciate that."

Right now, the question is whether Jackson's nomination will survive — the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee has postponed confirmation hearings, and Trump is sending mixed messages, privately urging Jackson to fight while publicly questioning why he would want to go through an "ugly" confirmation process, adding, "if I were him, I wouldn't do it." That was a bridge too far for Meyers. "What do you mean, if you were him you wouldn't do it? You're even less qualified, and you did do it." Watch below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads