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December 16, 2018

Negotiators representing nearly 200 nations in Katowice, Poland, on Saturday agreed to universal greenhouse gas emissions limits intended to mitigate global climate change.

"It is not easy to find agreement on a deal so specific and technical," said Polish economist Michal Kurtyka, who is leading the United Nations negotiations. "Through this package you have made a thousand little steps forward together," he told the assembled delegates. "You can feel proud."

U.S. negotiators sought to label coal a possible source of clean energy but also pushed for transparency and rules which apply equally to all participant nations. "Overall, the U.S. role here has been somewhat schizophrenic — pushing coal and dissing science on the one hand, but also working hard in the room for strong transparency rules," Elliot Diringer of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions told The Associated Press. "[T]he U.S. pushed harder than nearly anyone else for transparency rules that put all countries under the same system, and it's largely succeeded." Bonnie Kristian

12:33 a.m.

The Epoch Times, a news outlet closely aligned with a spiritual community banned in China, has spent $1.5 million over the last six months to run 11,000 pro-President Trump ads on Facebook, NBC News reports.

Only the Trump campaign has spent more money on ads in support of the president, data shows. Former staffers of the New York City-based Epoch Times told NBC News the ad blitz isn't surprising, due to the leanings of the Falun Gong movement. Ben Hurley, who helped launch The Epoch Times in Australia, said the outlet is "rabidly pro-Trump" because the most devout Falun Gong followers "believe that Trump was sent by heaven to destroy the Communist Party."

The Facebook ads feature people praising Trump and talking about fake news and Deep State and QAnon conspiracies, NBC News reports. Trump's Facebook page has posted Epoch Times content, and his daughter-in-law was recently interviewed by the outlet. Data shows that between Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, Epoch Media Group videos had about three billion views in April alone, making the company 11th among all video creators, NBC News reports.

The Epoch Times was founded in 2000 by a Falun Gong practitioner named John Tang, but not much is known about its ownership, with executives refusing to give NBC News any names. The founder of Falun Gong, Li Hongzhi, called Epoch Media Group "our media," and in 2009 he pushed for The Epoch Times to become mainstream. Li argues that feminism and homosexuality are wicked and that aliens can take over human minds and bodies, and former employees said they were told they couldn't write about gay people or popular music but needed to push conservative opinions and criticism of China. The Epoch Times' publisher, Stephen Gregory, said the company has "no political agenda." Read more about the secretive news outlet and what it was like to work there at NBC News. Catherine Garcia

August 20, 2019

America's ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands, rolled out the digital red carpet for President Trump on Tuesday afternoon, tweeting that America's "partner, ally, friend" is "ready" for Trump's visit.

A little more than two hours later, Trump pulled the plug, strongly suggesting that the entire purpose of his trip to Copenhagen was to discuss purchasing Greenland from Denmark. That might have been news to Sands, a former soap opera and film actress and chiropractor, as the official reason for Trump's visit was dinner with Queen Margrethe II and meetings with Danish leaders — "as an offbeat thank-you to a small country that has been a stalwart NATO member and that supported U.S. military actions," as The Washington Post put it — following a two-day visit to Poland.

Trump confirmed on Sunday that he had asked his administration to explore buying Greenland, saying that "essentially, it’s a large real estate deal," but he also said it wasn't "No. 1 on the burner" and claimed his trip to Denmark was "not for this reason at all." Trump had been talking about buying Greenland for weeks, the Post reports, and senior administration officials had discussed various offers to pry it loose from Denmark. Once the news leaked, Denmark and Greenland made it clear the ice-covered island territory is not for sale.

Trump is still expected to visit Warsaw to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II. Peter Weber

August 20, 2019

President Trump won't be breaking rugbrød with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen any time soon.

Trump tweeted on Tuesday night that he will no longer visit Denmark later this month, and he's putting his change in plans squarely on the shoulders of Frederiksen. "Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen's comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time," he said. Both countries will save money, Trump added, thanks to Frederiksen being "so direct."

Greenland is an autonomous territory of Denmark, and on Sunday, Trump confirmed reports that he was "interested" in buying it. In response, Frederiksen said Greenland is "not for sale," and she hoped Trump's comments were "not meant seriously." Trump's trip, it should be noted, officially had nothing to do with his misplaced desire to purchase the island — he was invited to visit Denmark by Queen Margrethe II. Catherine Garcia

August 20, 2019

The Log Cabin Republicans, a national organization for LGBTQ members of the GOP, lost a board member over the group's decision to endorse President Trump.

"There is no world where I can sit down at the dining room table and explain to my children that I just endorsed Donald Trump for president," Jennifer Horn told The Washington Post. "It is contrary to everything that I have ever taught them about what it means to be a good, decent, principled member of society."

Horn sent her resignation letter on Monday, after the Log Cabin Republicans' chair and vice-chair announced in a Post op-ed that the group was endorsing Trump because he's taking "bold actions that benefit the LGBTQ community," including enacting tax cuts and pledging to "end the spread of HIV/AIDS in 10 years." In her letter, Horn said, among other things, she opposed Trump's "regular verbal assaults against women, immigrants, elected members of Congress, [and] party members who do not agree with him on policy or principle."

Prior to joining the Log Cabin Republicans' board, Horn was chairwoman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, and she told the Post she was disappointed in 2016 when Trump did not remove language from the party's platform that advocated against equal rights for LGBTQ people. Horn remains hopeful that more Republicans will start speaking out against Trump. "People have to know, our party is dying because of the silence of those who oppose this president," she said. Catherine Garcia

August 20, 2019

Police officers in Phoenix must now fill out a form every time they point a gun at a person, with a supervisor then reviewing the incident, a policy the city has been considering for several years.

City officials announced the new rule on Monday, with Police Chief Jeri Williams saying, "When a gun is pointed at someone, that's a traumatic event. I think this is a first step in being ... that accountable, transparent organization that is willing to share what we do and how we do it."

This was first recommended in 2015 by a community panel, and again in April by the National Police Foundation, which studied a spike in officer-involved shootings last year; there were 44 incidents in 2018, up from an average of 21 from 2009 to 2017, CNN reports. Other major cities also document when officers point their guns, including Dallas, New Orleans, and Chicago.

The city did not say if this new policy is in response to a video released two months ago, which showed an officer pointing a gun at a family during a shoplifting investigation. Police say the woman did not listen when officers told her to lift her hands, and they were concerned she might be hiding a weapon. Catherine Garcia

August 20, 2019

By the end of 2022, Hasbro products will be mostly free of plastic packaging, the toymaker announced Tuesday.

The company now uses plastic bags, elastic bands, and shrink wrap for its board games, including Monopoly, and some other toys. This move does not affect toys made out of plastic, like Mr. Potato Head, but Hasbro said it is trying to find an alternative material that is safe for kids and still looks like plastic. Hasbro does offer a recycling program, with customers able to send in their old plastic toys.

Because of its harmful environmental impact, more companies are trying to stop using plastic, and many cities are banning plastic bags and eliminating plastic straws. The company said it will start phasing out plastic in 2020. Catherine Garcia

August 20, 2019

Mr. Stark, I don't feel so good...

Just after being crowned the next Iron Man in this summer's Spider-Man: Far From Home, Spider-Man's involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be over. Deadline reported on Tuesday that Disney and Sony were unable to reach an agreement that would keep Marvel Studios and its president, Kevin Feige, involved in future Spider-Man movies.

To recap, Marvel Studios did not have access to Spider-Man when it began the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008 with Iron Man, as Sony had exclusive rights to the character and was releasing movies in its own universe. But after the financial disappointment of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Sony and Marvel Studios reached a deal whereby Sony and Disney would essentially share the character, with Sony continuing to make Spider-Man movies that crossed over with the Marvel universe. After appearing in both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, this summer's Spider-Man: Far From Home sets up Spider-Man as a crucial character for the rest of the series, and he's established as effectively being the successor to Tony Stark.

But that may be quickly retconned, as now, Deadline reports that Feige won't produce the next two Spider-Man movies that are planned with Tom Holland, meaning they are unlikely to have any connections to the Marvel Cinematic Universe at all, and Spider-Man probably wouldn't appear in any Avengers movies, either. According to the report, Disney was looking for a 50-50 co-financing arrangement for future Spider-Man movies, but Sony turned it down. "Sony so far has decided that as valuable as Feige is, Disney is asking too high a price," Deadline writes. The Hollywood Reporter confirmed the news, adding that as a result, "Tom Holland's Spider-Man is likely to disappear entirely from the Marvel Cinematic Universe." Far from home, indeed. Brendan Morrow

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