March 27, 2014

One of the most remarkable events of modern times? Human population growth.

At the time of the First Dynasty in Egypt — around 3000 BC — global population was just 100 million, according to estimates. By the height of the Roman Empire and the birth of Christ, that number was perhaps 250 million. And in 1750, at the dawn of the industrial revolution, global population had risen to 750 million.

Now — thanks to antibiotics, improved sanitation, mechanized agriculture, vaccinations — it's 7,155 million, or 7.15 billion.

Current estimates suggest that global population will top out at 8.5 billion in 2030. The growth rate is already falling, due to women having less children. In 2012, the global fertility rate was 2.47 births per woman. That was a decrease from 2.50 in 2011, and 2.90 in 2006. The rate at which population growth will level off is 2.10, according to projections.

Of course, 8.5 billion people is still a huge number for the planet to support in the long run. Can the Earth do it? Some estimates say no, and some estimates say yes. Personally, I'd say a lot depends on technology. If humans can figure out a way to keep atmospheric dioxide levels close to pre-industrial levels, and transition to renewable energy to avoid over-reliance on finite resources like oil and goal, then we have a pretty good chance. John Aziz

9:10 a.m. ET

Former President George W. Bush appears to be having a harder time biting his tongue about President Trump than he did former President Barack Obama. Though Bush has made a point not to critique his successors, in an interview with People published late Monday, Bush opened up about his issues with Trump's America. "I don't like the racism and I don't like the name-calling and I don't like the people feeling alienated," Bush said. "Nobody likes that."

Though Bush admitted Trump's Washington is "pretty ugly," he said he's still "optimistic about where we'll end up." "We've been through these periods before and we've always had a way to come out of it," Bush said. "I'm more optimistic than some."

That's the second time this week Bush has talked about Trump. In an interview Monday morning on NBC's Today, Bush defended the media against Trump's label of "enemy of the American people," insisting the media is necessary to hold "people like me to account" because "power can be very addictive."

To find out what action Bush plans to take under Trump, head over to People. Becca Stanek

8:24 a.m. ET

President Trump hosted the Fox & Friends gang at the White House on Monday, in an interview that aired Tuesday morning, and Brian Kilmeade noted that Trump has said he thinks his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, actually likes him, despite their political differences and the hard-fought presidential campaign. Kilmeade alleged that the Obama-linked Organizing for America group is organizing a lot of the protests that are spooking Republicans, then asked, "Do you think President Obama is behind it, and if he is, is that a violation of the so-called unsaid president's code?"

"I think he is behind it. I also think it's politics — that's the way it is," Trump said. "I think that President Obama's behind it, because his people are certainly behind it. And some of the leaks possibly come from that group, you know — some of the leaks, which are really very serious leaks, because they're bad in terms of national security. But I also understand that's politics, and in terms of him being behind things, that's politics, and it will probably continue."

Anderson Cooper played that clip on CNN Monday night, and senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson said this blaming of Obama "in some ways borders on paranoia." Peter Weber

8:22 a.m. ET

A poll released on the morning of President Trump's highly anticipated first address to Congress on Tuesday night revealed a majority of Americans think he's stayed true to his campaign promises so far, including border security, jobs, and an ObamaCare repeal. A new Politico/Morning Consult poll found 56 percent said Trump is "staying true to his 2016 campaign message," and 66 percent said he's "accomplished what was expected of him — or more," Politico reported. "While Americans are divided on President Trump's policy agenda, most say he is making headway on it," said Morning Consult's co-founder and chief research officer Kyle Dropp. "An overwhelming majority of Trump's supporters, and even many of his critics, see a president who is delivering on his promises."

Trump agrees. When asked to grade himself during an interview aired Tuesday on Fox & Friends, Trump gave himself an A+ for effort, an A for achievement, and a C or C+ on messaging. "Because I've done great things, but I don't think ... we've explained it well enough to the American public," Trump said.

The poll was conducted among 2,000 registered voters between Feb. 24-46, and it has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. Trump's margin of error is TBD. Becca Stanek

7:49 a.m. ET
Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images

A day after reportedly proposing massive cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency's budget, the White House is expected to move forward Tuesday with an executive order undoing the Obama-era rule Waters of the United States. Though Trump's order rolling back the rule protecting America's major waterways would have "almost no immediate legal effect," The New York Times noted it will "essentially give Mr. Trump a megaphone to direct his Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, to begin the process of rewriting" the 2015 regulation.

On Monday, the White House sent another message to Pruitt with a proposal that reportedly suggested cutting a quarter of the EPA's budget and "eventually eliminating 1 in 5 of the agency's workers," Politico reported. The proposed cuts, which one person told Politico were "far more severe than anyone imagined," would lower the EPA's budget to its lowest level since 1991, and leave the EPA the most sparsely staffed it's been since the mid-1980s. The White House did not confirm the figures.

Next up, the White House is reportedly expected to sign an executive order to begin undoing former President Barack Obama's climate-change regulation curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Becca Stanek

7:48 a.m. ET

On Monday night, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued a statement celebrating historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), as some 90 of their leaders are in Washington to meet with congressional Republicans and President Trump. DeVos started off by lauding HBCUs for helping "students to reach their full potential" ever since their founding. "They started from the fact that there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education," she said. "They saw that the system wasn't working, that there was an absence of opportunity, so they took it upon themselves to provide the solution."

Then DeVos really doubled down on the self-serving euphemisms. "HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice," she said. "They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish." DeVos is a big proponent of "school choice," but of course HBCUs were founded because black students did not have any choices. The "system" she said "wasn't working" was segregation. As President George H.W. Bush said in 1991, in a quote you can find on the website of the Education Department, "At a time when many schools barred their doors to black Americans, these colleges offered the best, and often the only, opportunity for a higher education."

Many of the nation's more than 100 HBCUs, all founded before 1964, are success stories, but it doesn't honor them to downplay their origins or the structural and financial disadvantages they had to overcome. Especially when, according to an article linked to from Trump's official POTUS Twitter account, "Trump seeks to outdo Obama in backing black colleges." Peter Weber

6:07 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. Eastern time, looking to refocus his presidency and rally support for his policies from Republicans in Congress and the public at large, amid historically low approval ratings. Trump advisers say the president will tout what he has described as early success fulfilling his campaign promises, and discuss proposals to replace the Affordable Care Act and finance a big infrastructure-rebuilding initiative. Trump has been gathering ideas for his speech from talking with law enforcement officials, coal miners, and union representatives, his aides say, and he was still working on the speech Monday night. This is not a State of the Union Address, which presidents traditionally give after their first year in office. Peter Weber

5:22 a.m. ET
Jung Yeon-je/AFP/Getty Images

On Tuesday, special prosecutors in South Korea announced that they will indict Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and acting head of the entire Samsung Group corporate empire, on charges of bribery, embezzlement, and other crimes linked to the scandal surrounding impeached President Park Geun-hye and her friend, Choi Soon-sil. Lee, 48, is one of South Korea's most powerful men, and his arrest on Feb. 17 was a big blow to the family business conglomerate founded by his grandfather. He took over effective leadership of Samsung after his father, Lee Kun-hee, fell ill in 2014, and he was widely expected to replace the elder Lee as chairman when he stepped down.

It was this smooth transition from father to son that prosecutors say landed Lee in trouble. He stands accused of paying Park and Choi $36 million in bribes to win government support for the dynastic succession, specifically through a merger of two Samsung businesses, eased by the support of the national pension fund. The announced indictment of Lee and four other Samsung executives, three of whom resigned on Tuesday, is the culmination of a three-month investigation by special prosecutors. On Tuesday, acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn declined to extend the investigation, bringing it to an end without prosecutors questioning Park. Park's impeachment is being adjudicated by the constitutional court; if it is upheld, she could face criminal charges, too. Peter Weber

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