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A VICIOUS CYCLE: Here in Washington, it's finally slipping into fall temperatures after a seemingly never-ending summer. Not so in Qatar, one of the hottest places on the planet, in one of the fastest-warming areas of the world.
Temperatures have gotten so high that the heat is unbearable — to the point where the country has started to air-condition the outdoors.
- "Already one of the hottest places on Earth, Qatar has seen average temperatures rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial times, the current international goal for limiting the damage of global warming," our colleague Steven Mufson reports in the latest installment of the The Post's climate series.
- For awareness: That's 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. “The 2015 Paris climate summit said it would be better to keep temperatures 'well below' that, ideally to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius [2.7 degrees Fahrenheit].”
Before you think that Qatar's problems sound, well, very far away: It's a window into the challenges cities around the world may face if climate change isn't forestalled. “Changes there can help give us a sense of what the rest of the world can expect if we do not take action to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions,” Zeke Hausfather, a climate data scientist at Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit temperature analysis group, told Steven.
The World Cup is a high-profile example of the problem: Fears that the players, or hundreds of thousands of fans, might suffer or even die in the heat delayed the 2022 World Cup from the summer until November. While there's a new open-air air-conditioning system to keep people cool at Al Janoub stadium, one of the eight stadiums Qatar is prepping for the soccer championship, this could be a future reality for the rest of the world as temperature increases accelerate.
- Living completely indoors?: “With the coming global environmental collapse, to live completely indoors is like, the only way we’ll be able to survive. The Gulf’s a prophecy of what’s to come,” Qatari American artist Sophia al-Maria said in an interview in Dazed Digital.
- Some cities could be uninhabitable: Experts predict that by the time average global warming hits 2 degrees Celsius, Qatar’s temperatures would soar. "In rapidly growing urban areas throughout the Middle East, some predict cities could become uninhabitable," Steven writes.
- Working only on intervals: Already, "the U.S. Air Force calls very hot days 'black flag days' and limits exposure of troops stationed at al-Udeid Air Base. Personnel conducting patrols or aircraft maintenance work for 20 minutes, then rest for 40 minutes and drink two bottles of water an hour. People doing heavy work in the fire department or aircraft repair may work for only 10 minutes at a time, followed by 50 minutes of rest."
Qatar's problems also show how solutions to problems climate change is causing are themselves contributing to the crisis.
- As rich countries try solve this issue with air conditioning …: “While climate change inflicts suffering in the world’s poorest places from Somalia to Syria, from Guatemala to Bangladesh, in rich places such as the United States, Europe and Qatar global warming poses an engineering problem, not an existential one. And it can be addressed, at least temporarily, with gobs of money and a little technology. To survive the summer heat, Qatar [the richest country in the world] not only air-conditions its soccer stadiums, but also the outdoors — in markets, along sidewalks, even at outdoor malls so people can window shop with a cool breeze.”
- … Air conditioning itself leads to even hotter temperatures: “Carbon emissions create global warming, which creates the desire for air conditioning, which creates the need for burning fuels that emit more carbon dioxide. In Qatar, total cooling capacity is expected to nearly double from 2016 to 2030, according to the International District Cooling & Heating Conference,” per Steven.
By the numbers: Qatar, the world's leading exporter of liquefied natural gas, is also the largest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases. It emits “nearly three times as much as the United States and almost six times as much as China,” according to Steven.
- A ton of it is going to cooling: “About 60 percent of the country’s electricity is used for cooling. By contrast, air conditioning accounts for barely 15 percent of U.S. electricity demand and less than 10 percent of China’s or India’s.”
- “Even Qatar’s small band of climate activists sympathize,” Steven writes: Outdoor air conditioners are “about survival,” said Neeshad Shafi, executive director of Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar. “It’s too hot. That’s the reality.'"
Can we stop this?: This is *the* question scientists are grappling with. “I often get asked: ‘Can we reverse whatever is happening in the climate?’ ” Abdulla al-Mannai, director of the Qatar Meteorology Department, wrote in an email to The Post. “I ask: Can you turn off air conditioning and refrigeration and stop using cars? Nobody will say yes.”
In the meantime, the Qatari government has identified some fixes to at least alleviate the extreme temperatures — including by installing solar panels and limiting the materials used to build building exteriors.
- The Qatari government also announced that the World Cup will be carbon neutral: “That means that for every mile flown from overseas, for every mile driven between venues, for every factory that produced construction materials, and for every air conditioner running overtime, there should be an offsetting reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”
- But for now: “That climate-consciousness has been largely limited, however, to the World Cup,” Steven reports.
🚨BREAKING: "Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings died early Thursday at Johns Hopkins Hospital due to complications from longstanding health challenges, his congressional office said. He was 68," the Associated Press's Brian White reported. "A sharecropper’s son, Cummings became the powerful chairman of a U.S. House committee that investigated [Trump], and was a formidable orator who passionately advocated for the poor in his black-majority district, which encompasses a large portion of Baltimore as well as more well-to-do suburbs."
- And: "As chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, Cummings led multiple investigations of the president’s governmental dealings, including probes in 2019 relating to the president’s family members serving in the White House."
At The White House
“THIS IS NOT USEFUL”: On the 1000th day of Trump's presidency, a 20-minute meeting between President Trump and congressional leaders about the deteriorating situation in northern Syria went off the rails, devolving in to an acrimonious spate of name-calling and insults.
- The insults: “According to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump called her a 'third-grade' politician … The White House and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said Mr. Trump actually called Ms. Pelosi 'third-rate,'" reports the New York Times's Katie Rogers.
- Wait there's more: “At one particularly tense moment, Ms. Pelosi informed the president that 'all roads with you lead to Putin,' referring to Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president.”
- Trump even took a shot at his former Defense Secretary James Mattis, calling him "the world's most overrated general" who wasn't "tough enough." Reminder: Mattis resigned last year over a disagreement with Trump over the need to maintain a U.S. presence in Syria.
- “This is not useful,” House majority leader Steny H. Hoyer said as he and Pelosi finally exited the room.
The extraordinary letter: Shortly into the meeting that was called by the White House to brief lawmakers on the administration's Syria policy, Trump “began a speech about a 'nasty' letter he had sent to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, which he said was proof that he had not given the Turkish leader a green light to advance Turkish forces into Syria. Mr. Trump then directed Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican minority leader, to pass copies of the letter around the table.”
- Dated October 9 — three days after Erdogan and Trump discussed American forces leaving the area — the letter asks Erdogan to “work out a good deal!”
- Trump's pitch: “You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people … History will look upon you favorably if you get this done the right and humane way. It will look upon you forever as the devil if good things don't happen. Don't be a tough guy. Don't be a fool!” Trump writes.
EXCLUSIVE: I have obtained a copy of @realDonaldTrump’s letter to #Erdogan. @POTUS warns him to not “be a tough guy! Don’t be a fool!” Says he could destroy Turkey’s economy if #Syria is not resolved in a humane way. Details tonight at 8pm #TrishRegan #FoxBusiness pic.twitter.com/9BoSGlbRyt— Trish Regan (@trish_regan) October 16, 2019
'No angels': Earlier in the day, Trump insisted that the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds was “over land that has nothing to do with us." He said alongside Italian President Sergio Mattarella in the Oval Office that the Kurds, who served as a U.S. ally against the Islamic State, were “no angels,” according to our colleagues Seung Min Kim and Mike DeBonis.
- Bad timing: The comments came just as Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were en route to Turkey “to urge Erdogan to embrace a cease-fire and negotiate with the Kurds, an idea he has already rejected,” per Seung Min and Mike.
- Pushback from an ally: “Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), normally an ally of the president, continued his strong criticism of Trump’s decision to pull troops from northern Syria and said his comments Wednesday 'completely undercut'” the purpose of Pence and Pompeo's visit.
- More: “I worry we will not have allies in the future against radical Islam, ISIS will reemerge, & Iran’s rise in Syria will become a nightmare for Israel,” Graham tweeted. “I fear this is a complete and utter national security disaster in the making and I hope President Trump will adjust his thinking.”
- Trump shot back at Graham: “Lindsey O. Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years with thousands of soldiers and fighting other people’s wars,” he said. “I want to get out of the Middle East.”
Meanwhile in Syria: “Turkey dismissed a U.S. call for an immediate cease-fire in northeast Syria, pressing ahead with its military offensive as senior Trump administration officials rushed to Ankara to try to halt fighting triggered by the withdrawal of American troops from the region,” the Wall Street Journal's David Gauthier-Villars, Vivian Salama, and Dion Nissenbaum report.
- Erdogan's response to Pence and Pompeo's trip: “Honestly, I do not find it appropriate that a country like the U.S. acts as a mediator between a terrorist organization and an ally like the Turkish Republic,” Erdogan told Turkish media.
- The ground situation: Kurdish fighters are now seeking help from “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad out of fear they would be targeted by Turkish forces," per the Journal. "Russia, which along with Iran backs the Assad regime, has also sent soldiers to the area."
Wow. We bombed our own base on purpose, because of the impulsive decision by @realDonaldTrump didn’t leave time to evacuate the right way. Is this the America you grew up believing in? pic.twitter.com/r7l2l80wLZ— Adam Kinzinger (@RepKinzinger) October 17, 2019
An extraordinary scene even Republicans are uncomfortable with: “On Wednesday, the U.S., military said two F-15E jet fighters carried out an airstrike to destroy an ammunition-storage facility, latrines, tents and other parts of the Syria headquarters of the American campaign to destroy Islamic State after pulling its forces from the base.”
- The decision to target our own military base, “which included warehouses used to train-and-equip the Kurdish-led fighters, came after Turkish-backed forces moved on the facility on Tuesday.”
On The Hill
Trump dealt a setback in stunning vote: "Two-thirds of House Republicans, including all of the party’s elected leaders" joined Democrats in passing a resolution that opposed Trump's decision to abandon the Kurds, the Times's Catie Edmondson reports. "The measure passed, 354 to 60, in the most significant bipartisan repudiation of [Trump] since he took office."
- More on the resolution: "The measure, which was largely symbolic, upbraided the withdrawal as 'beneficial to adversaries of the United States government' including Russia, Syria and Iran, and called on [Erdogan] to immediately end unilateral military action in northern Syria," the Times reports. A similar resolution was also introduced in the Senate.
THE LATEST ON IMPEACHMENT: EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland is expected to testify behind closed doors later this morning. Sondland is one of the so-called "three amigos" who took control of U.S. foreign policy with Ukraine and sent some of the most controversial text messages now under House investigation. Sondland is now famous for replying "Call me" when another diplomat asked if U.S. security assistance and a meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky would happen only if the country agreed to open investigations into Democrats.
A security risk: A former top White House official told lawmakers that Sondland's lack of any diplomatic experience posed a national security problem. "The adviser, Fiona Hill, did not accuse Mr. Sondland of acting maliciously or intentionally putting the country at risk. But she described Mr. Sondland, a hotelier and Trump donor-turned-ambassador, as metaphorically driving in an unfamiliar place with no guardrails and no GPS, according to the people, who were not authorized to publicly discuss a deposition that took place behind closed doors," the New York Times's Nicholas Fandos and Adam Goldman reports.
- More on Sondland's lavish tastes: "He got addicted,” one former official told our colleagues Michael Birnbaum, Shane Harris and John Hudson about the ambassador overseeing a nearly $1 million renovation of his government-provided residence with taxpayer money.
- The State Department defended the upgrades, but among the lists of orders our colleagues discovered were: "$30,000 for a new sound system and $95,000 for an outdoor 'living pod' with a pergola and electric heating, LED lighting strips and a remote-control system" and "$33,000 for handmade furniture from Italy."
- What he'll say: Sondland will say his denial of any quid-pro-quo with Ukraine came directly from Trump himself. The ambassador will say he has no knowledge of whether or not Trump was telling him the truth.
Meanwhile, McConnell is gearing Senate Republicans up for an impeachment trial: The Senate majority leader told his colleagues during a private lunch a trial could begin as soon as Thanksgiving, making it clear Republicans in Congress view the possibility of Trump becoming just the third president ever to be impeached as inevitable, our colleagues Rachael Bade and Erica Werner report.
- The details: "McConnell said the Senate would likely meet six days a week during the trial, lawmakers said."
- FAQs: He "gave a PowerPoint presentation about the impeachment process and fielded questions alongside his staff and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman [Graham] who was a manager for the 1998 impeachment of President Bill Clinton."
- Graham urged senators to send a letter to Pelosi insisting Trump's phone call seeking an investigation into a political rival was "unimpeachable": "Some senators, however, pushed back against that idea, arguing that Trump would assume that those who did not sign the document would be persuadable on a vote to oust him."
The FBI investigation into Trump's personal attorney includes counterintelligence probe: "For months, investigators looking into Rudy Giuliani's business dealings in Ukraine have dug into everything from possible financial entanglements with alleged corrupt Ukrainian figures to counterintelligence concerns raised by some of those business ties, according to people briefed on the matter," CNN's Evan Perez, Sara Murray and Shimon Prokupecz report.
- More: The intelligence aspect was not previously known and "hinges in part on whether a foreign influence operation was trying to take advantage of Giuliani's business ties in Ukraine and with wealthy foreigners to make inroads with the White House, according to one person briefed on the matter," CNN reports.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry, another one of the "three amigos," goes on the record: He said Trump told him to speak to Giuliani to address concerns the president had about meeting with Zelesnky, the Wall Street Journal's Timothy Puko and Rebecca Ballhaus. Perry said those qualms were related to fears Ukraine tried to sink Trump's candidacy in 2016, allegations that haven't been substantiated, and denied ever hearing anyone bring up former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
The White House's stonewall is starting to crumble as officials head to the Hill: "One by one, a parade of Trump administration career diplomats and senior officials has offered a cascade of revelations," the Times's Michael D. Shear and Nicholas Fandos report. "Those accounts have corroborated and expanded upon key aspects of the whistle-blower complaint that spawned the impeachment inquiry into whether the president abused his power to enlist Ukraine to help him in the 2020 presidential election."
- Why the blockade might be breaking: "Veterans of past legal struggles between the White House and Congress said [Trump] was confronting the reality that he had limited ability to force former or even current government employees to ignore a legally binding subpoena. It is even difficult — though not impossible — to shield top White House aides from appearing, they said," the Times reports.
- Lawmakers are not getting everything, though: The White House has "had more success in blocking access to emails, text messages, memos and other documents in the government’s possession."
In the Media
BEHIND THE POST’S TIKTOK: Dave Jorgenson has been charged with bringing The Post into the trending social media platform especially popular among teens. On the platform where more than 500 million users share short videos often set to music, Dave has lampooned the newsroom's roach problem, moonlighted as a VSCO girl, and yes, ate raw pumpkin spice SPAM straight. out. of. the. package. He convinced many of our colleagues to co-star in his viral videos as they render verdicts on what is art and wave to the masses to celebrate a front-page story.
Power Up asked Dave catch us up on his plans going forward.
- How he got executive editor Marty Baron to star in a video: “He said he would do it as long as we pronounced Liev Schreiber’s name correctly," Dave says. "That’s why you see me correcting [pop culture host] Hannah Jewell in the video when she says ‘Leave.’ I just loved that that was his one condition. He was game and did three takes for us. The other two takes have been locked away in the Disney vault, but I might publish them on VHS later.” (Baron as you might recall was played by Schreiber in the Academy Award-winning movie "Spotlight.")
- After publishing corny videos from the Iowa State Fair, where else does Dave hope to go?: “New Hampshire primaries potentially. And starting to seek out presidential candidates for TikTok. I saw Kamala Harris just mentioned it recently. Would love to collect the whole set before it’s too late. It sounds like I’m collecting Beanie Babies.”
- On his future playlists for videos: “I love that TikTok allows me to shoot and edit with popular songs. If we did that for long-form videos, we would get sued immediately. So it’s fun to flex a little with songs that people know … I’d love to use a Misterwives or Bleachers song. And trying to figure out how to use Dixie Chicks’ ‘Goodbye Earl’ in a way that doesn’t look too grim.”
- Halloween is coming up: “I have so many costumes. The cockroach is coming back. Also [I'm] already thinking ahead to December. I bought my ugly holiday sweater – it’s a 3D dinosaur.”
- On the TikTok community: “Some of the kids on that app are super bright ... I think there are at least a few legitimate world leaders coming from the app. I’m very optimistic, but I feel like the app attracts really bright, young minds - and I think TikTok is just the start for them.”
Stayed tuned: Power Up will guest star on a TikTok very soon. Follow The Post's account, so you don't miss it.