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Deal may speed protections for imperiled species

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SALMON, Idaho (Reuters) – The government would have until 2018 to decide whether to extend Endangered Species Act protections to hundreds of imperiled animals and plants under a deal with environmentalists submitted on Tuesday for approval by a federal judge.

The agreement between the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would settle that group’s legal claims that the government has been too slow in assigning federal safeguards to various species on the brink of extinction.

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The proposal, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., must be approved by a judge.

Under the plan, the government would be required to make at least preliminary decisions by 2018 on whether to set aside critical habitat or provide other protections for more than 750 species, including the American wolverine, a bear-like animal of the mountain West, and the Pacific walrus.

“This is a landmark agreement that gives species a fighting chance to stave off extinction and survive for generations to come,” said Noah Greenwald, the center’s endangered species director.

The proposed deal came after negotiations between the group and the government over timelines for evaluating creatures ranging from the Florida sandhill crane to the Arkansas darter, a fish of the central Plains.

The settlement would address a backlog of 250 animals and plants the government says warrant protections but which have been placed on a waiting list behind species deemed a higher priority.

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Some mammals, birds and fish have been on the so-called candidate list for decades. The deal would require those animals be approved or denied listing as threatened or endangered by the 2018 deadline.

Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said in a statement that the agreement would pave the way for government scientists “to more effectively focus our efforts on providing the benefits of the Endangered Species Act to those imperiled species most in need of protection.”

(Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Bohan)

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2020 Election

‘Very good news’: Law prof praises Kentucky’s bipartisan compromise to allow everyone to vote by mail

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The state of Kentucky was praised on Friday after a bipartisan agreement was reached to expand voting by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Any Kentucky voter wary of the risk of COVID-19 will be able to vote in the Nov. 3 general election by mailing in an absentee ballot. Voters will also have the option of casting a ballot in person during the three weeks leading up to the election, or waiting until Election Day," the Lexington Herald-Leader reported Friday.

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‘Proof of Trump’s dementia’: President ridiculed as ‘delusional’ for his latest claim about the 2020 campaign

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President Donald Trump said his campaign is trying to win the state of New York in the 2020 presidential campaign.

While on his way to a weekend at his Bedminister Golf Club, Trump tweeted a picture of a New York Post cover with the president claiming the state is "in play" during the 2020 presidential election.

"Just landed in New York to see my brother, Robert. We’re going for New York on November 3rd. We’re going to Reduce Taxes, Increase Law Enforcement, and bring it back BIG TIME!" Trump claimed.

The president was quickly ridiculed for thinking New York is in play, when election analysts view New York as a safe state for Democrats.

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Inspector General probing Trump’s Postal Service moves — and the ethics of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy: report

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According to a new report from CNN, the internal watchdog at the United States Postal Service is investigating policy changes at the agency under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. The watchdog is also looking into whether or not DeJoy is complying with federal ethics rules.

"Lawmakers from both parties and postal union leaders have sounded alarms over disruptive changes instituted by DeJoy this summer, including eliminating overtime and slowing some mail delivery," CNN reports. "Democrats claim he is intentionally undermining postal service operations to sabotage mail-in voting in the November election -- a charge he denies."

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