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United Nations moves closer to implementing Paris pact fighting climate change

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An agreement to fight global warming came one step closer to taking effect on Wednesday when dozens of countries deposited their ratification of the deal at the United Nations, taking the total to 60, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.

The deal, agreed by nearly 200 countries in Paris last December, needs ratification by at least 55 countries representing 55 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions to take effect. Ban said the 60 countries represented more than 47.5 percent.

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The United Nations said 14 countries, representing 12.58 percent of emissions, have committed to joining the agreement in 2016, which would allow the threshold of 55 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions to be reached.

“What once seemed impossible is now inevitable. I’m confident that by the time I leave office the Paris agreement will have entered into force,” Ban, whose second five-year term ends on Dec. 31, told an event on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly.

The binding global deal would slash greenhouse gases, keeping global temperature increases to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. Scientists warn that countries are likely to cross that threshold if they don’t take more drastic actions.

The Paris agreement received a boost earlier this month after U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping submitted their plan to join the agreement. The world’s two biggest emitters account for around 40 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

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The European Union, whose members have not yet ratified the Paris Agreement, is aiming to formally join the pact by the end of the year, said EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete.

This will require approval from each of the 29 member states, which collectively rank behind China and the United States as the third biggest greenhouse gas emitter.

“Yes, it will be complex. But yes we will get it done,” the commissioner said.

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Each country will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions according to their own national strategies.

Paula Caballero, global director of the climate program at the World Resources Institute, said the fact that the agreement would likely enter into force this year “took everyone by surprise.”

“This rapid pace reflects a spirit of cooperation rarely seen on a global scale,” Caballero said in a statement.

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With ratification on the horizon, the representative for small island states that face the most direct threat from climate change, said he would redouble efforts to bring the number over the line.

“This is a very encouraging start, but we call on all countries to join the Paris Agreement as soon as possible. Climate change is a truly international problem and solving it requires all of us to do our part,” said Mohamed Asim, foreign minister of the Maldives on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols and Valerie Volcovici; editing by Grant McCool)

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New testimony adds 2 stunning — and previously unknown — details about the Ukraine extortion

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New testimony released Monday from the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of the Ukraine scandal included at least two new stunning details about the quid pro quo scheme at the heart of the matter.

Overall, the transcripts for depositions of Catherine Croft and Christopher Anderson, who were advisers to U.S. envoy Kurt Volker, built on the story of that we already know: that President Donald Trump pushed a shadow foreign policy to pressure Ukraine into investigating his political opponents, a scheme that involved using his office and military aid as leverage over the country in opposition to the official policy.

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Trump blasted for his ‘Endorsement of Doom’ after Sean Spicer loses on ‘Dancing with the Stars’

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Team Trump had gone all in urging supporters to vote for former White House press secretary Sean Spicer on the game show "Dancing with the Stars."

Votes had been urged by RNC officials and Trump himself had urged his 66 million Twitter followers to vote for Spicer.

Despite the full heft of the Trump campaign, Spicer lost on Monday's show.

Trump deleted his failed tweet urging votes for Spicer -- and instead said it was a "great try" by his former advisor.

Looks like this endorsement was as successful as your last one!

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‘He’s misunderstood’: Nikki Haley tells Fox News how Trump is actually a really good listener

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Former Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley defended President Donald Trump during a Monday appearance with Fox News personality Sean Hannity.

Hannity asked the former South Carolina governor if Trump was "misunderstood."

"I do think he’s misunderstood," Haley replied.

"I can tell you, from the first day to the last day that I worked for the president, he always listened, he was always conscious of hearing other voices, allowing people to debate out the issues, and then he made his decision," Haley claimed.

She argued that, "I saw a president that was very thoughtful, looked at all of the issues, made decisions, and it was a pleasure and honor to work with him."

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