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Columbian Newspaper

Boys basketball: Corbett (Ore.) 60, Stevenson 56
Author: The Columbian

Jesse Miller scored 17 points and Isaac Hoidal added 16, but Stevenson’s late rally fell just short.

The Bulldogs (3-4) trailed 50-36 after three quarters but cut the deficit to three points in the final minute.

Hoidal also had eight rebounds and three steals. Milled had five rebounds and five assists.

Lincoln Krog had 10 points and six rebounds for Stevenson.

CORBETT 60, STEVENSON 56

CORBETT (3-3) — Newton 18, Paintner 23, Horvath 8, J. Newton 2, Wright 2, Ziese 6. Totals 20 (3) 17-19 60.

STEVENSON (3-4) — Brady Hall 0, Jesse Miller 17, Jono Blackledge 10, Lincoln Krog 10, Preston Lowery 0, Charles Hobbs 1, Isaac Hoidal 16, Willy Lanz 1, Ethan Haight 0, Cooper Morrison 0, Bennett Wright 1. Totals 20 (8) 8-14 56.

Corbett (Ore.) 12 24 14 10–60

Stevenson 14 11 11 20–56

JV — Corbett won.

O’Rourke, other Dems don’t want tent city’s contract renewed
Author: WILL WEISSERT, Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas — Rep. Beto O’Rourke and four other Democratic members of Congress toured a remote tent city in West Texas on Saturday where they said that 2,700 immigrant teens are being held at a cost of roughly $1 million per day.

The lawmakers urged the nonprofit running the facility not to renew a federal contract that expires Dec. 31, a longshot request that could effectively shutter the camp. It was supposed to be temporary but has instead taken in more children and taken on a permanent feel with soccer fields, a dining facility and tents housing separate sleeping quarters for boys and girls.

O’Rourke — a Texan who has been mentioned as a potential 2020 presidential candidate after nearly upsetting Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in his deep-red state — was joined by U.S. Sens. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Tina Smith of Minnesota, and California Rep. Judy Chu.

O’Rourke said he and his colleagues weren’t allowed to speak to the children in any meaningful way.

“They kind of nodded their heads, but what are they going to say when everyone around them is watching?” O’Rourke said after touring the facility. “But there was something in the look on their faces that we saw, the way that they weren’t really engaged in the sports that they were playing out on those fields.”

“We need to shut it down,” Chu added. “It is inhumane. It is a child prison. It has no right to exist.”

O’Rourke made no mention about his possible White House aspirations after making his fourth visit to the camp just outside Tornillo. He noted the area was about an hour’s drive from his native El Paso, which borders Mexico at the westernmost tip of Texas.

“It’s in a remote location on purpose so that the American people do not know what’s happening here,” O’Rourke told reporters.

The lawmakers said 2,700 boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 17 were being held at Tornillo. They described touring the tents housing the teens, but could only ask light questions. O’Rourke said he asked a few of them what countries they were from — Guatemala and Honduras, they said — and received assurances that the conditions were “OK.”

Tornillo opened as a temporary facility in June, amid what President Donald Trump’s administration described as an emergency situation on the U.S.-Mexico border. Since then, the contract keeping it open has been renewed, and the numbers of kids being held inside has grown, though determining how fast and by how much has proven difficult.

7-year-old girl who died fled poverty in Guatemala
Author: SONIA PEREZ D., Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO SECORTEZ, Guatemala — Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal Maquin received her first pair of shoes several weeks ago, when her father said they would set out together for the United States, thousands of miles from this small indigenous community in Guatemala where she spent her days plodding through mud and surrounded by coconut trees.

The 7-year-old was excited about the possibility of a new life in another country, relatives said Saturday. Maybe she would get her first toy, or learn to read and write.

Instead she died in a Texas hospital two days after being taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents in a remote stretch of New Mexico desert.

The death has drawn attention to the increasingly perilous routes that Central American migrants traverse to reach the U.S., where some plan to apply for asylum, and to the way migrants are treated once in custody. Jakelin’s family says her father paid a human smuggler to sneak them across the border; asylum wasn’t the plan.

Sadness hangs in the air outside the wooden house with a straw roof, dirt floors, a few bedsheets and a fire pit for cooking where Jakelin used to sleep with her parents and three siblings.

Grandfather Domingo Caal said the family got by on $5 a day earned harvesting corn and beans. But it wasn’t enough. Jakelin’s father Nery Caal decided to migrate with his favorite child to earn money he could send back home. Nery often took his daughter to fish at a nearby river. The long journey north would be an even greater adventure.

The people of San Antonio Secortez, a mountain hamlet s within the municipality of Raxruha, speak the Mayan Q’eqchi’ language, though most of the men also know Spanish.

Domingo Caal translated for Claudia Maquin as she attempted to describe her daughter’s life while holding back tears.

“Every time they ask me what happened to the girl, it hurts me again,” Maquin said.

“He was desperate,” Domingo Caal said, explaining that his son borrowed money — using his plot of land as guarantee — to pay for the voyage.

Tekandi Paniagua, the Guatemalan consul in Del Rio, Texas, told The Associated Press that Nery Caal and his daughter took about a week to reach the U.S. border. Paniagua said Caal, 29, told him on Friday that they had been dropped off near the border and walked just an hour and a half to reach it.

They were detained soon afterward along with a group of other migrants near the Antelope Wells border crossing at about 9:15 p.m. on Dec. 6 in a dry, rugged area flecked with ghost towns and abandoned buildings.

The consul said Caal told him the girl never lacked food or water before or after they were detained, and said he had no complaints about how they were treated.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Friday that the girl initially appeared healthy and that an interview raised no signs of distress. Authorities said her father spoke in Spanish to border agents and signed a form indicating she was in good health.

Jakelin’s death drew questions from members of Congress and others about whether more could have been done. There were only four agents working with a group of 163 migrants, including 50 unaccompanied children, and only one bus to take them to the nearest station 94 miles away. The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general has opened an investigation.

That single bus set out on a several-hour trip to the Border Patrol station filled with unaccompanied minors — following protocol — while the daughter and her father waited for it to return. They left about eight hours after being detained.

Caal told the consul that while they were on the bus, his daughter began to feel warm and uncomfortable and began to vomit, and Caal told the driver that his daughter was ill.

Officials said agents radioed to have emergency medical technicians available in Lordsburg. When they arrived, 90 minutes later, she had stopped breathing. She was airlifted to an El Paso, Texas, hospital.

The girl died at about 12:30 a.m. Dec. 8, roughly 19 hours after she began throwing up on the bus and 27 hours after being apprehended. Officials said she had swelling on her brain and liver failure. An autopsy was scheduled to determine the cause of death.

Ruling on health law dilemma for conservative lawmakers
Author: RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A federal judge’s ruling that the Obama health law is unconstitutional has landed like a stink bomb among Republicans, who’ve seen the politics of health care flip as Americans increasingly value the overhaul’s core parts, including protections for pre-existing medical conditions and Medicaid for more low-income people.

While the decision by the Republican-appointed judge in Texas was sweeping, it has little immediate practical impact because the Affordable Care Act remains in place while the legal battle continues, possibly to the Supreme Court.

HealthCare.gov, the government’s site for signing up, was taking applications Saturday, the deadline in most states for enrolling for coverage next year, and those benefits will take effect as scheduled Jan. 1. Medicaid expansion will proceed in Virginia, one of the latest states to accept that option. Employers will still be required to cover the young adult children of workers, and Medicare recipients will still get discounted prescription drugs.

But Republicans, still stinging from their loss of the House in the midterm elections, are facing a fresh political quandary after U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor said the entire 2010 health law was invalid.

Warnings about the Texas lawsuit were part of the political narrative behind Democrats’ electoral gains. Health care was the top issue for about one-fourth of voters in the November election, ahead of immigration and jobs and the economy, according to VoteCast, a nationwide survey for The Associated Press. Those most concerned with health care supported Democrats overwhelmingly.

In his ruling, O’Connor reasoned that the body of the law could not be surgically separated from its now-meaningless requirement for people to have health insurance.

“On the assumption that the Supreme Court upholds, we will get great, great health care for our people,” President Donald Trump told reporters during a visit Saturday to Arlington National Cemetery. “We’ll have to sit down with the Democrats to do it, but I’m sure they want to do it also.”

Economist Gail Wilensky, who oversaw the Medicare program for President George H.W. Bush, said state attorneys general from GOP strongholds who filed the lawsuit really weren’t very considerate of their fellow Republicans.

“The fact that they could cause their fellow Republicans harm did not seem to bother them,” said Wilensky, a critic of President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement.

“The people who raised it are a bunch of guys who don’t have serious election issues, mostly from states where saber-rattling against the ACA is fine,” she added. “How many elections do you have to get battered before you find another issue?”

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, top policy adviser to Republican John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, said he was struck by the relative silence from top Republicans after the ruling issued.

A prominent example: “The House was not party to this suit, and we are reviewing the ruling and its impact,” said AshLee Strong, spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

Republicans are “going to have to figure out what to do,” Holtz-Eakin said. “If it’s invalidated by the courts, it’s not … ‘We’re going to do it our way.’ They’re going to have to get together with the Democrats in the House.”

$150M in federal student loans will be forgiven
Author: COLLIN BINKLEY, Associated Press

The U.S. Education Department said it will forgive $150 million in federal student loans as part of a 2016 rule that Secretary Betsy DeVos previously tried to block.

Department officials began notifying 15,000 students on Friday that their loans will automatically be erased because they attended colleges that closed while they were still in school or shortly after they finished. About half of them attended campuses under the for-profit Corinthian Colleges chain, which collapsed in 2015 amid widespread accusations of fraud.

The students are eligible for loan relief under an Obama-era rule that was intended to make it easier for defrauded students to get their loans cleared. Part of the rule granted automatic loan forgiveness to students who attended colleges that closed more than three years in the past and who never attended another school later.

DeVos delayed the rule in 2017 following a legal challenge from a California association of for-profit colleges, and she later moved to scrap the rule entirely and proposed her own replacement, which would have eliminated automatic loan discharges and raised the bar to prove fraud by schools.

But a federal judge ruled in September that her delay was unlawful, siding with Democratic attorneys general from more than a dozen states who sued over the postponement. A month later, the same judge dismissed another challenge by the California association, effectively clearing the way for the rule to take effect.

DeVos has continued to oppose the rule, calling it “bad policy,” and says she still plans to write new rules that will protect borrowers and taxpayers. Still, the Obama-era law could remain in effect until at least July 2020, when any new policy written by DeVos could take effect.

The automatic discharges were hailed as a victory by groups that represent borrowers, but they said it’s just the first step in the rule’s implementation. Several drew attention to more than 100,000 other students who say they were swindled by their schools but are still waiting on the Education Department to decide their applications for loan relief.

Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Senate committee that oversees education, said she was “pleased” that the department has started implementing the rule.

“This is a good first step, but it’s not good enough — and I call on Secretary DeVos to abandon her attempts to rewrite the borrower defense rule to let for-profit colleges off the hook, and instead fully implement the current rule and provide relief to more than 100,000 borrowers who were cheated out of their education and savings,” Murray said.

The 2016 rule was created to improve the loan forgiveness process following the closure of Corinthian Colleges, which left thousands of students stuck with loans and little to show for them. It was part of the Obama administration’s broader effort to root out schools that misled students and to police the sector through new regulation.

Priest ‘shocks’ with random acts of kindness
Author: JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Father Jim Sichko has a 50-state congregation and a simple mandate from the pope: Go forth and do good deeds.

That’s why the Roman Catholic priest found himself standing by the drive-thru of a popular Hollywood fast-food joint on a recent windy, rain-swept afternoon buying lunch for everyone who stopped by. The next day he’d be at a gas station in Kentucky, topping off people’s tanks. Then it would be on to Arizona where he would — well, he wasn’t quite sure what he’d do there, but he’d think of something.

At a Starbucks last Christmas, he tipped each of the baristas $100 after learning the annual brouhaha over whether the coffee chain’s holiday cups are Christmassy enough had caused tips to plummet.

Sichko is a papal missionary of mercy, a rarified group of 700 from around the world, including 100 from the United States, who were appointed directly by Pope Francis in celebration of a “Jubilee of Mercy” that began in December 2015 and has since been extended indefinitely.

Missionaries were assigned to travel the world spreading kindness, forgiveness, joy and mercy to everyone they encountered. Some responded by using their newly granted authority from the pope to perform confession and forgiveness of sins basically anywhere at any time. Others took to radio airwaves or retreats to offer messages of joy.

Sichko, a Kentucky-based preacher, came up with an idea different from the others and got his bishop at the Diocese of Lexington to sign off on it: He’d travel his country performing random acts of kindness in all 50 states.

He’s provided groceries for half a year to a man with HIV and paid for medical services for a struggling Muslim family. This Christmas, he’s headed to an elementary school in Corbin, Ky., where more than a quarter of the population lives in poverty. There he’ll surprise the school’s 100 second-graders with shiny new bicycles.

“The first question people ask is, ‘Why are you doing this?'” Sichko says between bites of his double-double cheeseburger at the crowded In N’ Out restaurant down the street from the Hollywood Walk of Fame where he’d just bought lunch for everybody.

“My question,” the balding, bespectacled 51-year-old cleric adds with a smile, “is why not?

“My approach is not so much speaking about the word of God, although I do a lot of that, but showing the presence of God through acts of kindness that kind of shock the individual and kind of cause them to, maybe cause them to stop for a little bit,” he said. “Or maybe, which I hope, to again bring kindness to others.”

He is candid in saying the church itself has much work to do in restoring its image after years of priestly sex and pedophilia scandals that he calls “horrific and tragic and disgusting.”

“We have a lot of atonement to be doing,” he says, adding that shocking people with random acts of kindness can be a first step in that direction.

To say he shocked his lunchtime In N’ Out crowd would be a bit of an understatement.

One woman, overlooking his white clerical collar, asked Sichko if he was a politician.

“No, I’m not a politician. I’m a priest,” he replied, nearly doubling over with laughter.

“How did this happen,” a stunned Hardy Patel asked.

“Just decided. I’m in a good mood.”

“Early Christmas?”

“You got it. Pay it forward.”

“I will do, I will do,” Patel told him before driving off with his cheeseburger, then circling back to thank Sichko and take a selfie with him.

“Here’s my selfie with the pope,” Sichko told Luis Tostado a few minutes earlier as they posed for one by Tostado’s Chevy Silverado.

Sichko’s selfie shows him standing next to Francis as the pontiff cradles a bottle of 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle Kentucky bourbon the priest gave him during a visit to the Vatican. He isn’t sure if the pope is a bourbon man, but if not, the smile on Francis’ face indicates he does have a sense of humor.

Sichko says he still doesn’t know why the pontiff, who had never met him until 2015, chose him as a papal missionary of mercy. Ordained 20 years ago — “I always wanted to become a priest, ever since I was a little kid” — he was the pastor at St. Mark Catholic Church in Richmond, Ky., when he got the call.

Now he spends five days a week on the road paying for burgers and bicycles and handing out hundred-dollar bills, like the one he slipped 17-year-old Nicholas Vadi when he learned the teenager and his mom were celebrating Vadi’s birthday at the fast-food restaurant.

“I raise my own salary, living expense, insurance, everything,” Sichko says, adding he sends out “appeal letters” twice a year to parishioners and raises the rest from paid inspirational speaking engagements.

“And then I give it away,” he says, laughing.

Peaceful Paris protest turns violent; 115 arrested
Author: RAPHAEL SATTER and ELENA BECATOROS, RAPHAEL SATTER and ELENA BECATOROS, Associated Press

PARIS — Tear gas billowed Saturday across the protest-scarred Champs-Elysees after a day of largely peaceful demonstrations in Paris and a water cannon shot a frigid stream at the crowd on the fifth straight weekend of protests by France’s “yellow vest” movement.

The demonstrations against France’s high cost of living — sapped by cold weather, rain and recent concessions by French President Emmanuel Macron — were significantly smaller Saturday than at previous rallies, some of which scarred parts of Paris with vandalism and looting.

A few thousand people marched up and down the famed shopping street in Paris, a spirited yet peaceful gathering that sunk into violence as the afternoon wore on. Riot police clashed with demonstrators as the occasional tourist darted from their hotel or a brave Christmas shopper took a peek at the neighborhood’s mostly boarded-up storefronts.

By late afternoon, a water cannon in a line of police vans confronting protesters sprayed water to disperse them. Firefighters put out a fire on a side street leading to the Champs-Elysees and limited scuffles broke out between protesters and police. By early evening, police had cleared the avenue and re-opened it to traffic.

Protesters made clear they wanted to keep up the pressure, even if their numbers were far smaller than in previous weeks, which saw rioters smashing and looting stores and setting up burning barricades in the streets.

Pierre Lamy, a 27-year-old industrial worker wearing both a yellow vest and a French flag over his shoulders, said the movement had long stopped being just about a fuel tax hike that sparked the protests in November but was now focused on economic justice.

“We’re here to represent all our friends and members of our family who can’t come to protest, or because they’re scared,” he said, walking to the demonstration with three friends. “Everything’s coming up now. We’re being bled dry.”

French law enforcement was out in force. About 8,000 police and 14 armored vehicles were deployed in Paris for the demonstration, and streets of central Paris were honeycombed with checkpoints where officers in riot gear checked bags and coats for weapons.

Police said 115 people were taken into custody in Paris, most for banding together to commit acts of violence, and a small number were injured. Police in riot gear tackled one protester and dragged him off the Champs-Elysees, while his friends said he was doing nothing but exercising right to protest.

The yellow vest movement, which takes its name from the fluorescent safety vests French motorists must have in their vehicles, has been fueled by a sense that Macron’s government is hurting ordinary workers and retirees with too many taxes. Without any clear leadership, it has attracted a wide range of disgruntled people across France’s political spectrum, including some violent militants.

“Respect my existence or expect my resistance,” read one banner held aloft by protesters.

Max Werle, a 56-year-old father of nine, said the protests were his first-ever demonstrations.

“I’m here for my children,” he said, adding that his daughter had given birth in a firetruck Monday because the local hospital in Loiret outside Paris had closed years ago. “(We are) here to defend our cause … it’s not a left and right thing.”

Report criticizes expensive decisions in Calif. wildfire fight
Author: BRIAN MELLEY, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — When a wildfire burned across Big Sur two years ago and threatened hundreds of homes scattered on the scenic hills, thousands of firefighters responded with overwhelming force, attacking flames from the air and ground.

In the first week, the blaze destroyed 57 homes and killed a bulldozer operator, then moved into remote wilderness in the Los Padres National Forest. Yet for nearly three more months the attack barely let up.

The Soberanes Fire burned its way into the record books, costing $262 million as the most expensive wildland firefight in U.S. history in what a new report calls an “extreme example of excessive, unaccountable, budget-busting suppression spending.”

The report by Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics, and Ecology criticizes fire managers for not adapting their approach to the changing nature of the blaze. The nonprofit group, which gets funding from the Leonard DiCaprio Foundation and other environmental organizations, advocates ending “warfare on wildfires” by ecologically managing them.

‘Use it or lose it’

The report suggests the Forest Service response was the result of a “use it or lose it” attitude to spend its entire budget, which had been boosted by $700 million because of a destructive 2015 fire season. The agency managed to spend nearly all its 2016 money in a less-active fire season on about half the amount of land that burned the year before.

“They just kept going crazy on it,” report author Timothy Ingalsbee said. “It wasn’t demand-driven. It was supply-driven. They had all this extra money Congress had given them, and they had to justify that.”

Forest Service officials would not comment directly on the report. After asking The Associated Press to provide written questions, the agency declined to answer them and issued a short statement saying it was committed to reducing costs in similarly large fires.

“Protection of people first and then resources are our primary considerations,” the statement said. “Every fire is evaluated to determine the appropriate strategy. We continually look for opportunities to improve outcomes and accountability and to find more cost-efficient and effective methods of managing wildfires.”

In addition to burning 206 square miles, the smoky fire closed signature parks in the area and put a damper on tourism in Big Sur during the peak season of its only industry. Monterey County estimated a 40 percent loss in revenue for the summer season in the area.

An internal Forest Service review produced last year and obtained by the AP reached some of the same conclusions as Ingalsbee.

For example, the department’s review found that from Aug. 9 to Sept. 29, 2016, the number of threatened structures remained at 400 even as the fire grew by more than 90 square miles, which indicated the risk to property had abated as the flames burned into the wilderness. During that period, firefighting costs grew by $140 million.

The review found forest managers didn’t think they could deviate from the “overwhelming force concept” aimed at suppression.

Australia recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital
Author: Associated Press

SYDNEY — Australia will recognize west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but won’t move its embassy until a peace settlement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Saturday.

Morrison said in a speech that Australia would recognize east Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital only after a settlement has been reached on a two-state solution. The Australian Embassy won’t be moved from Tel Aviv until such a time, he said.

While the embassy move is delayed, Morrison said his government would establish a defense and trade office in Jerusalem and would also start looking for an appropriate site for the embassy.

“The Australian government has decided that Australia now recognizes west Jerusalem, as the seat of the Knesset and many of the institutions of government, is the capital of Israel,” Morrison said.

He said the decision respects both a commitment to a two-state solution and long-standing respect for relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.

There was no comment from Jerusalem on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.

Morrison had earlier floated the idea that Australia may follow the contentious U.S. move of relocating its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, but it was seen by many Australians as a political stunt. Critics called it a cynical attempt to win votes in a by-election in October for a Sydney seat with a high Jewish population.

The consideration sparked backlash from Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia, threatening a free trade deal that has been delayed.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said the decision to recognize west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital but not move the embassy there was a “humiliating backdown” from the October by-election campaign.

Nations at U.N. climate talks back universal rules to cut emissions
Author: FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press

KATOWICE, Poland — After two weeks of bruising negotiations, officials from almost 200 countries agreed Saturday on universal, transparent rules that will govern efforts to cut emissions and curb global warming.

The deal agreed upon at U.N. climate talks in Poland enables countries to put into action the principles in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

But to the frustration of environmental activists and some countries who were urging more ambitious climate goals, negotiators delayed decisions on two key issues until next year in an effort to get a deal on them.

“Through this package, you have made a thousand little steps forward together,” said Michal Kurtyka, a senior Polish official chairing the talks.

He said while each individual country would likely find some parts of the agreement it didn’t like, efforts had been made to balance the interests of all parties.

“We will all have to give in order to gain,” he said. “We will all have to be courageous to look into the future and make yet another step for the sake of humanity.”

The talks in Poland took place against a backdrop of concern among scientists that global warming is proceeding faster than governments are responding to it. Last month, a study found that global warming will worsen disasters such as the deadly California wildfires and the powerful hurricanes that have hit the United States this year.

And a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, concluded that while it’s possible to cap global warming at 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial times, this would require a dramatic overhaul of the global economy, including a shift away from fossil fuels.

Alarmed by efforts to include this in the final text of the meeting, the oil-exporting nations of the U.S., Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait blocked an endorsement of the IPCC report midway through this month’s talks in the Polish city of Katowice. That prompted uproar from vulnerable countries like small island nations and environmental groups.

The final text at the U.N. talks omits a previous reference to specific reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and merely welcomes the “timely completion” of the IPCC report, not its conclusions.

Last-minute snags forced negotiators in Katowice to go into extra time, after Friday’s scheduled end of the conference had passed without a deal.

One major sticking point was how to create a functioning market in carbon credits. Economists believe that an international trading system could be an effective way to drive down greenhouse gas emissions and raise large amounts of money for measures to curb global warming.

But Brazil wanted to keep the piles of carbon credits it had amassed under an old system that developed countries say wasn’t credible or transparent.

Among those that pushed back hardest was the United States, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord and his promotion of coal as a source of energy.

“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,” said Elliot Diringer of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a Washington think tank.

When it came to closing potential loopholes that could allow countries to dodge their commitments to cut emissions, “the U.S. pushed harder than nearly anyone else for transparency rules that put all countries under the same system, and it’s largely succeeded.”

“Transparency is vital to U.S. interests,” added Nathaniel Keohane, a climate policy expert at the Environmental Defense Fund. He noted that breakthrough in the 2015 Paris talks happened only after the U.S. and China agreed on a common framework for transparency.

“In Katowice, the U.S. negotiators have played a central role in the talks, helping to broker an outcome that is true to the Paris vision of a common transparency framework for all countries that also provides flexibility for those that need it,” said Keohane, calling the agreement a “a vital step forward in realizing the promise of the Paris accord.”

Among the key achievements in Katowice was an agreement on how countries should report their greenhouses gas emissions and the efforts they’re taking to reduce them.

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