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Gates: GM foods conflict threatens Foundation’s efforts

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Bill Gates, speaking at a World Food Prize forum in Iowa on Thursday, told global food leaders that an “ideological wedge” threatens his global effort to help farmers.

Gates and his wife have focused in recent years on helping alleviate hunger and poverty by giving small farmers the tools to produce more. The Gates Foundation has given more than $1.4 billion to agricultural development, and on Thursday announced nine new grants worth $120 million aimed at raising yields and farming expertise in the developing world.

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Sub-Saharan Africa is the most under-nourished region in the world, with almost 42% surviving on less than $1 per day. A combination of decades-long drought, regional conflict, and a burgeoning population contribute to the world’s worst hunger situation.

The $120 million announced on Thursday is intended to help develop genetically modified crops that are more drought-resistant and productive in marginal conditions. Nitrogen-fixing legume crops, sorghum and millet, and sweet potatoes are all undergoing genetic experimentation sponsored by the Gates Foundation.

Genetically modified(GM) crops have been a topic of intense agricultural debate since their creation. GM crops undergo genetic manipulation in a laboratory, usually for the purpose of increasing crop yield or pest resistance. In many countries in Europe, vendors are legally required to clearly label GM foods; there is skepticism about the science behind genetic manipulation.

Many believe that GM crops will lead to even greater crop homogenization and threaten the stability of the global food supply. Wendell Berry, one of America’s most prominent agricultural researchers, told the Washington Post, “The inevitable aim of industrial agri-investors is the big universal solution… And the kind of agriculture we’re talking about that leads to food security and land conservation is locally adapted agriculture.”

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In his speech on Thursday, Gates rejected what he saw as a false dichotomy between sustainability and productivity, but avoided mentioning genetic modification. “The technology and new approaches that are transforming agriculture in other parts of the world can be applied in new ways, and help Africa flourish too,” Gates said. “This global effort to help small farmers is endangered by an ideological wedge that threatens to split the movement in two. On one side is a technological approach that increases productivity. On the other side is an environmental approach that promotes sustainability. It’s a false choice, and it’s dangerous for the field.”

The World Food Prize honors people who have contributed to ending hunger worldwide. More about the forum and Gates’ speech can be found here.

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Rudy Giuliani’s henchmen claim executive privilege concerns in first court appearance

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Rudy Giuliani's henchmen appeared in court on campaign finance violations, and they may attempt to claim evidence in the case is protected by executive privilege.

Ukrainian-American businessmen Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, who were arrested earlier this month on their way out of the country on one-way tickets, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in their first court appearance, according to Courthouse News.

Prosecutors told the court they had issued subpoenas for 50 bank accounts related to the pair.

But an attorney for Parnas told the judge there may be concerns to sort out related to executive privilege due to their relationship with Giuliani, who serves as President Donald Trump's personal attorney.

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‘Looks like the smoking gun’: Meghan McCain less skeptical of impeachment after Bill Taylor testimony

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Meghan McCain gave her strongest indication yet that President Donald Trump was doomed to impeachment, but she was in no mood to talk about it on her birthday.

The conservative host of "The View" turned 35 on Wednesday, a day after former Ukraine ambassador told lawmakers that President Donald Trump had directed efforts to freeze military aid to pressure the foreign ally to investigate political rival Joe Biden.

"This is just killing my vibe," McCain said. "I'm sorry, it's very bad."

"Look, I can't -- I just can't today," McCain said. "I'm so sorry. I would love to stay on this, but it's really bad. It looks like it's highly unethical, and it looks like the smoking gun. That's my political analysis for today. It's my 35th birthday, and I want to move on."

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Watch: All of Trump’s failed defenses for his Ukraine scandal

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CNN's Kate Bolduan on Wednesday reminded her viewers that Trump allies' defenses of the president throughout the Ukraine scandal have continued to evolve after new facts emerge that undercut their older defenses.

While talking with the New Yorker's Susan Glasser, Bolduan delivered an exhaustive list of all the failed defenses that the president and his supporters have made to justify Trump's efforts to push Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.

"First it was the president was trying to root out corruption when it came to Ukraine," she began. "Then it was there was no direct ask coming from the president. Then it was the whistleblower can't be trusted, then it was Schiff helped the whistleblower write the complaint so it can't be trusted, and then it was the president was joking, Republicans said, when he said on camera that he would like to see investigations. Then it was there was no quid pro quo because Ukraine didn't know the aid was being withheld... and now it's the process is unfair, so you can't impeach."

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