Return of The Wall


Staff & Wire Reports

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., speaks to the National Press Club, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in Washington. Ryan is delivering an upbeat assessment of the GOP’s accomplishments as he makes the case for his party in the November election.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., speaks to the National Press Club, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in Washington. Ryan is delivering an upbeat assessment of the GOP’s accomplishments as he makes the case for his party in the November election. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., speaks to the National Press Club, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in Washington. Ryan is delivering an upbeat assessment of the GOP’s accomplishments as he makes the case for his party in the November election. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Ryan says ‘big fight’ coming over border wall after election


AP Congressional Correspondent

Tuesday, October 9

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Paul Ryan on Monday promised a “big fight” over border wall funding after midterm elections as part of a commitment he made to President Donald Trump.

Ryan said he and others in Congress did not think a funding fight made sense ahead of the midterms. Trump wants three times the $1.6 billion Congress has tentatively agreed to provide this year for the border wall with Mexico. The president threatened to force a shutdown over the issue, but instead signed legislation funding some parts of the government through Dec. 7.

“What the president wants to do is get a bigger down payment so it can be built faster,” Ryan said in a speech at the National Press Club.

“We intend on having a full-fledged discussion about how to complete this mission of securing our border and we will have a big fight about it,” Ryan said.

A bill being considered in the Senate allocates $1.6 billion for Trump’s wall, far short of the $5 billion Trump is seeking. A bill approved by a House committee includes $5 billion for physical barriers and associated technology along the U.S. southern border.

Asked if he made a commitment to Trump for a shutdown over wall funds, Ryan said the blame would fall to Democrats, who are in the minority in Congress and largely oppose increased funding for the wall.

“We have a commitment to go fight for securing the border and getting these policy objectives achieved,” Ryan said.

Legislation that Trump signed in September funded more than 70 percent of the government through the fall of 2019. But funding for some agencies was only extended to Dec. 7, including for the Department of Homeland Security, which would be tasked with building the wall.

Talk of a partial government shutdown over the divisive immigration issue punctuated an otherwise upbeat talk from Ryan on the GOP’s accomplishments as he made the case for his party in the November election.

The speaker pointed to tax cuts, bolstered defense spending and efforts to curtail opioid addiction and human trafficking as top achievements in the Republican-led House. He called them “big things we have delivered, big promises we have kept.”

During a questions-and-answers session, Ryan was asked about Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who disappeared last week after visiting his country’s consulate in Turkey.

“It’s very disturbing,” Ryan said. “We need to get clear facts from both countries.”

Ryan, once a potential presidential contender — and the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential nominee — said he’s “done with elected politics” for now, at least.

Ryan is retiring rather than seeking re-election in his home state of Wisconsin. Republicans face a difficult election as they try to keep their House majority in Congress, with Democrats energized for the fall.

Ryan warned against electing Democrats, saying the party has gone “further left to the fringes” and only promises “more disorder, more chaos.”

The speaker was on the sidelines of the Senate battle over confirming Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, as nominees are only approved by the Senate. But Ryan said he’s seen evidence while traveling the country that the Kavanaugh fight has motivated the GOP’s voters.

“The Republican base is definitely animated after this,” he said.

But he cautioned there’s still 29 days to go before the election, a nod to the fast-changing political environment.

Associated Press writer Matthew Daly contributed to this story.

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2 Americans win econ Nobel for work on climate and growth


Associated Press

Tuesday, October 9

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Just a day after a United Nations panel called for urgent action on climate change, the Nobel Prize in economics was awarded Monday to one American researcher for his work on the economics of a warming planet and to another whose study of innovation raises hopes that people can do something about it.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the $1 million prize Monday to William Nordhaus of Yale University and to Paul Romer of New York University.

Nordhaus, 77, who has been called “the father of climate-change economics,” developed models that suggest how governments can combat global warming. He has endorsed a universal tax on carbon, which would require polluters to pay for the costs that their emissions impose on society.

Romer, 62, who has studied why some economies grow faster than others, has produced research that shows how governments can advance innovation. At a news conference Monday at NYU, Romer said his research left him optimistic that society can solve even a threat as challenging as the warming of the planet.

“Many people think that dealing with protecting the environment will be so costly and so hard that they just want to ignore the problem,” Romer said. “I hope the prize today could help everyone see that humans are capable of amazing accomplishments when we set about trying to do something.”

At a separate news conference at Yale, Nordhaus suggested that there was “pretty widespread acceptance” of climate change science outside the United States, and he expressed optimism that the United States would come around.

Referring to the Trump administration’s resistance, Nordhaus said: “I think we just need to get through what is a difficult period. But I’m extremely confident it will happen.”

Sunday’s report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared that managing climate change could prove a matter of life and death. It argued that failing to prevent just one extra degree of heat could expose countless people and ecosystems to life-threatening conditions over the next few decades.

Unlike Romer and Nordhaus, the panel of scientists who produced the U.N. report expressed little hope that the world will rise to the challenge. Still, in a 782-page document that explicitly cited Nordhaus’ work, the U.N. organization spelled out the difference that a single extra degree of heat could make on this fast-warming planet.

If world leaders could agree on ways to limit future human-caused warming to just 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit (a half degree Celsius), instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of 1.8 degrees F (1 degree C), the Earth’s weather, health and ecosystems would be in far better shape.

Half as many people would lack water. Fewer people would die or get sick from heat, smog and infectious diseases. Seas would rise nearly 4 inches (0.1 meters) less. There would be fewer heat waves, downpours and droughts.

In the 1970s, Nordhaus, already alarmed by the threat of global warming, began working on potential solutions. Gradually, he developed models to guide policymakers in balancing the economic costs and the societal benefits of combating carbon emissions. Nordhaus concluded that the most efficient approach was to deploy carbon taxes, applied uniformly to different countries.

By using a tax rather than government edicts to slash emissions, the policy encourages companies to find innovative ways to reduce pollution — and their tax burden. Versions of a carbon tax have been used in Europe but have yet to be adopted in the United States.

Many economists have since endorsed the taxing of carbon. But adopting the regulatory frameworks on a global scale has proven problematic, and the world’s political leaders are failing to meet it, the head of the United Nations said last month.

Far from developing policies to reduce climate change, President Donald Trump has argued that the threat of human-produced climate change is a hoax concocted by China to hurt the American economy. Many Republicans in Congress have also expressed skepticism about whether or how much human beings are contributing to global warming and whether the U.S. government ought to take steps to address it.

The research of Nordhaus and Romer is united by an interest in what drives economic growth and how to respond when unregulated market forces fail to deliver desired results. David Warsh, a blogger who follows economic research and has written a book on Romer’s work, said he thought it was no coincidence that the Nobel committee decided to honor Nordhaus and Romer at a time of escalating alarm over climate change.

“Darn right they were sending a message,” Warsh said.

In studying the relationship of innovation and growth, Romer discovered that unregulated economies generally failed to encourage enough research and development to support lasting growth. Government policies, he found, are vital. Examples include subsidies for research and development, and patent policies that strike a balance between letting inventors profit from their breakthroughs and allowing others to put those innovations to work.

One of Romer’s insights was that ideas differ from other goods or services. Once you eat a Swedish meatball, for instance, it’s gone, noted Per Krusell, a Nobel committee member who is an economist at Sweden’s Institute for International Studies.

But an idea — say, a recipe for Swedish meatballs — can be shared and used over and over again, delivering continual economic benefits.

The economics prize is the last of the Nobels to be announced this year.

Wiseman reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jim Heintz in Moscow, Deepti Hajela in New York and Susan Haigh in New Haven, Connecticut, contributed to this report.

The Conversation

Nobel award recognizes how economic forces can fight climate change

October 9, 2018

William Nordhaus argues markets can help curb climate change.


Andrew J. Hoffman

Holcim (US) Professor at the Ross School of Business and School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan

Ellen Hughes-Cromwick

Senior Economist and Interim Associate Director of Social Science and Policy, University of Michigan Energy Institute, University of Michigan

Disclosure statement

Ellen Hughes-Cromwick is affiliated with Member of the National Assn for Business Economics (NABE) ; American Economic Assn; Chair of NABE Foundation; Board member of the Clark University; Member of the Int’l Energy Economics Assn; Senior Advisor of Macro Policy Perspectives LLC.

Andrew J. Hoffman does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


University of Michigan provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

Yale economist William Nordhaus has devoted his life’s work to understanding the costs of climate change and advocating the use of a carbon tax to curb global warming.

It’s no small irony, then, that on the same day his research shared in the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, a United Nations panel released its latest report on the mounting dangers of climate change. In fact, the report builds upon much of Nordhaus’ work and warns that we have only about a dozen years to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid environmental catastrophe.

This warning – and the award – come at a time when it appears that some Americans are not listening. The U.S. is no longer a signatory of the Paris accord to address climate change, a broad swath of the country still denies the existence of the problem, and some state and federal policymakers don’t incorporate climate science into their decision-making.

But Nordhaus’ work is not about whether or not people and policymakers “believe” in climate change. It’s about the market and its ability to address the most serious issue facing humanity in the coming years.

As scholars of economics and management who are passionate about finding smart solutions to the challenge of a changing climate, we believe his research offers hope that humans can still prevent global calamity.

The economics of climate change

One of Nordhaus’ most significant contributions was perhaps his ability to unpack and explain the complex issues surrounding climate change.

In “Climate Casino,” for example, Nordhaus explained the many interrelated topics when talking about climate change, from science and energy to economics and politics, while clearly identifying the steps necessary to prevent catastrophe. Or as The New York Times put it, “It is a one-stop source on global warming, seen through the prism of a brilliant economist.”

Although his writing was accessible, he showed that he was still grappling with the uncertainty of his and other projections, allowing us to see the honest complexity of outcomes related to how humans harm the environment through greenhouse gas emissions.

A premise of his research was that the environment is a public good, shared by all and yet not paid for in any adequate or appropriate way.

In other words, we all benefit from it, though we don’t necessarily pay for it. And we are all harmed by its degradation though the value of that damage is not captured in standard market exchange.

Modeling the economy and climate

Nordhaus argued a tax on carbon – say US $25 a ton – or a cap and trade scheme that allows companies to exchange pollution credits – offers the best and most economically efficient way of putting a value on that public good and thus doing something about the problem.

Nordhaus showed this by perfecting models that simulated how such taxes and other inputs affect both the economy and climate, depicting how they co-evolve – known as “integrated assessment” models.

A noteworthy example is his Dynamic Integrated Climate-Economy Model, which provides a consistent framework for using knowledge borne from economics, ecology and the earth sciences. The model allowed for a deeper understanding of how certain policy changes affect long-term economic and environmental outcomes.

This is how he realized that schemes that rely on markets with some guidance from governments – such as by instituting carbon taxes – would work best to tackle the problem.

And thus he was able to show, with great clarity, that the most cost effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is by lifting the price of fossil fuels with a carbon tax. This in turn would provide the appropriate incentives for consumers and businesses to use less of those fuels.

Nordhaus was also able to estimate the economic damage from climate change if such policies weren’t adopted. He found that the people who would lose the most were the poor and those living in tropical regions.

Markets and a guiding hand

Fundamentally, Nordhaus recognized that solutions to the great challenge of climate change can most efficiently and effectively come from the market, one of the most powerful systems on earth.

While he understood markets needed to take the lead, at the same time, they needed assistance from informed government policy. Carbon pricing, Nordhaus found, is one powerful tool for bringing those solutions to the fore.

Even Adam Smith, the 18th-century economist who coined the “invisible hand of the market,” knew that market capitalism needed “rules imposed upon it by legislators who understand its workings and its benefits.” As National Affairs editor Yuval Levin reminded us in 2010, markets need a guiding hand.

That is, Nordhaus has showed how capitalism is capable of rising to the challenge of climate change, just as it has to other problems in the marketplace, such as monopolies, ozone depletion and the dangers of cigarette smoking.

On a day when the world’s leading scientists have issued their latest dire warning on the impending doom of climate change, Nordhaus’ deeply thoughtful, methodical work – for which we are thankful – is a reminder that there is hope. That human ingenuity and resourcefulness can guide the market to a solution and a better form of capitalism for structuring our commerce and interaction.

The Conversation

No black scientist has ever won a Nobel – that’s bad for science, and bad for society

October 8, 2018


Winston Morgan

Reader in Toxicology and Clinical Biochemistry, University of East London

Disclosure statement

Winston Morgan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.


University of East London provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

Many in the scientific world are celebrating the fact that two women received this year’s Nobel prizes in physics and chemistry. Donna Strickland and Frances Arnold are only the 20th and 21st female scientists to be recognised by the Nobel Committee. Yet in over 100 years, we have never seen a black scientist become a Nobel laureate.

Every year, the annual October Nobel Prize announcements coincide with Black History Month, which is a painful reminder that of the more than 900 Nobel laureates, only 14 (1.5%) have been black and none in science. Almost all black laureates have been awarded for work in the fields of peace (ten) and literature (three). During that time the closest a black scientist has come to winning has been social scientist Arthur Lewis for his work economics in 1973.

By contrast there have been over 70 Asian laureates, the majority in the sciences, and since 2000 that number has significantly increased. This is partly due to the increasing influence and power of Japanese, Chinese, Korean universities and the success of the Asian American academy. To win a Nobel Prize for science, it helps if you are in a prestigious institution and in a position to lead big expensive science.

The main reason why no black scientist has won a Nobel prize is simply a matter of numbers. Not enough bright young black people are choosing science. Alongside the more limited opportunities for black Africans, black people in Western countries are less likely to study science, less likely to achieve a top degree and less likely to progress to scientific careers.

To even be considered as a possible Nobel laureate you must become a principal investigator or a professor in a leading institution. Yet, once a black science graduate makes it to the first rung on the academic ladder they face the same challenges as any other black academic around access to promotion and access to resources. For example, we know black scientists in the US are less likely to receive funding for health research.

To become a professor you need support from your institution and to find at least four existing professors at other institutions who will support your application and certify that you are a leader in your field with an international reputation. This requires building large internal and external networks. For many reasons, not enough black academics work in institutions where such reputations and networks are made, significantly reducing the possibility of being promoted to professors.

This is also something of a circular problem. It seems highly likely the perception that black people don’t reach the highest level in science has in some ways affected the success of black people in science. Research suggests female role models can encourage women to pursue careers in science, and the same seems likely to be true for black people. Having a black Nobel laureate would inspire more black students to become black professors, which in turn would inspire more young black people to study science.

During my own undergraduate studies, many courses began with a professor describing the inspirational work of a Nobel laureate, who was usually a white man. These individuals were elevated to superhuman status, people we should aspire to be like because their work had transcended the field. This clearly appealed to me as it reinforced my desire to become a scientist.

But at the same time, as a black student, achieving that level of success or even anything along that path appeared far more distant as there was never a black laureate on the list. Although I was not deterred by this fact, I have no doubt it had an impact, not just on me but on my fellow white students and more importantly my tutors, and later my university employers and those awarding research grants. A black Nobel laureate would have made it easier for them to see me as a potential high achiever and treat me accordingly.

Why we need action

More black scientists wouldn’t just be a victory for equality but would benefit wider society. For example, conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many others have a higher incidence in people of black or African heritage. Yet research is often biased towards studying white people. More black scientists, especially in leading positions, could bring greater focus, understanding and different insights to investigating these conditions. They could also help lead the decolonising of science, again with wider advantages to society.

So how can we increase the chances of a black scientist becoming a Nobel laureate? We cannot wait for Africa to have the same political and economic power as Asia. Looking at the 49 women Nobel Prize winners, of which only 21 were scientists and only three in physics, we see a similar challenge. But with the advent of many successful campaigns backed by political action to increase the number of women in science, particularly in the leading institutions and in leading positions, the number of women laureates is likely to increase significantly. If we want more black scientists and eventually Nobel laureates, then similar direct strategic action is urgently needed.

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., speaks to the National Press Club, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in Washington. Ryan is delivering an upbeat assessment of the GOP’s accomplishments as he makes the case for his party in the November election. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., speaks to the National Press Club, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in Washington. Ryan is delivering an upbeat assessment of the GOP’s accomplishments as he makes the case for his party in the November election. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., speaks to the National Press Club, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in Washington. Ryan is delivering an upbeat assessment of the GOP’s accomplishments as he makes the case for his party in the November election. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., speaks to the National Press Club, Monday, Oct. 8, 2018, in Washington. Ryan is delivering an upbeat assessment of the GOP’s accomplishments as he makes the case for his party in the November election. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Staff & Wire Reports