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Lion among 23,000 species threatened with extinction: conservationists

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The mighty lion, reclusive cave crabs and the world’s rarest sea lion are among nearly 23,000 species at risk of dying out, a top conservation body warned on Tuesday.

In an update to its “Red List” of threatened species, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature hailed some clear advances in saving endangered species like the Iberian Lynx.

But, it warned, those successes have been overshadowed by declines in a range of species, with 22,784 species of animals and plants threatened with extinction.

“Our natural world is becoming increasingly vulnerable,” warned IUCN chief Inger Andersen, urging increased efforts to save species teetering on the edge.

Pointing to successes in increasing the populations of the long critically endangered Iberian Lynx and Guadalupe Fur Seal, she insisted “effective conservation can yield outstanding results.”

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Following six decades of decline, the population of the Iberian Lynx, considered the world’s most endangered feline, has seen its numbers swell from only 52 adult cats in 2002 to 156 a decade later, IUCN said.

Intensive work to restore the rabbit populations the large spotted cats prey on, along with monitoring for illegal trapping and conservation breeding has allowed the species to move from the Red List’s “critically endangered” to the “endangered” category, it said.

Reintroduction programmes in Spain and Portugal and compensation paid to landowners who made their properties compatible with habitat requirements had also played a role, IUCN said.

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The Guadalupe Fur Seal, which was twice thought to be extinct due to overhunting in the late 1800s and early 1900s has also seen its numbers increase, IUCN said.

The silky sea mammal native to the west coast of California and off the Guadalupe islands of Mexico has now moved from the “near threatened” to the “least concern” category, largely thanks to the enforcement of laws like the USA Marine Mammal Protections Act, it said.

The species has seen its population balloon from 200-500 individuals in the 1950s to around 20,000 in 2010.

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That, however, is still 10 times fewer than before humans started hunting the seal for its dense, luxurious underfur, IUCN said.

– Trade in lion bones –

A range of other mammals have meanwhile fared far worse, due to hunting and the destruction of their natural habitats.

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The lion remains listed as vulnerable at a global level, with its western African subpopulation listed as “critically endangered” due to over-hunting and dwindling prey.

Rapid decline has also been recorded in eastern Africa, which historically has been a stronghold for lions, IUCN said, warning that trade in bones and other body parts for traditional medicine in Africa and in Asia was a new and emerging threat to the species.

The organisation also highlighted the decline in the extremely reclusive African Golden Cat, a cinnamon-coloured feline about twice the size of a house cat living in central Africa, which is now listed as “vulnerable”.

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And it pointed to the New Zealand Sea Lion — one of the rarest sea lion species in the world — which now is listed as “endangered”, due mainly to disease and changes to its habitat caused by fishing.

IUCN also warned that two species of crab, Karstama balicum and Karstama emdi, found only in a single cave on the island of Bali, are now considered “critically endangered”, as they have been increasingly threatened by growing tourism and numerous religious ceremonies held in the cave.


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Trump’s racism is ‘disqualifying’ for him to remain as president: former White House lawyer

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Former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal explained on MSNBC on Thursday why he viewed President Donald Trump's racist attacks on four women of color in Congress as disqualifying.

Anchor Brian Williams read a quote from Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

"Half of the country is appalled but not really sure how to combat him; the other half is cheering, or at least averting its gaze. This is what a political civil war looks like, with words, for now, as weapons," Glasser wrote.

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Lawrence O’Donnell reports on the growing movement for the impeachment of President Donald Trump

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Anchor Lawrence O'Donnell reported on the growing movement for the impeachment of President Donald Trump during Thursday evening's "The Last Word" on MSNBC.

"The House of Representatives conducted a symbolic vote on a hastily written impeachment resolution by Democratic Congressman Al Green in reaction to the president’s tweeted comments that the House of Representatives voted to condemn as racist," O'Donnell reported. "The impeachment resolution had nothing to do with the [Robert] Mueller investigation and referred only to the president being unfit for office because of the language that he has used recently about members of Congress and immigrants and asylum seekers."

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Video proves how far the Trump’s GOP has gone from the era of Ronald Reagan and HW Bush

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The immigration policies of Donald Trump’s presidency would have no room for his GOP predecessors Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush—who both embraced work visas, family unification, easy border crossings and a better relationship with Mexico.

That counterpoint can be seen in a very short video clip from the 1980 presidential election where Reagan and Bush—who became Reagan’s vice president for two terms before winning the presidency in 1988—were asked about immigration at a campaign debate in Texas. Their responses show just how far to the right the Republican Party’s current leader, President Trump, and voters who have not left the GOP to become self-described political independents, have moved on immigration.

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