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Peruvian Amazon undergoing deforestation at accelerating pace: official

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The Peruvian Amazon, pictured here in 2011, is undergoing deforestation at an accelerating pace, environmental officials say AFP/File / ERNESTO BENAVIDES

The Peruvian Amazon lost nearly two million hectares (five million acres) of forest between 2001 and 2016, or more than 123,000 hectares (300,000 acres) a year, figures made public Tuesday by the ministry of the environment.

Agriculture, livestock raising, illegal logging, clandestine mining and drug trafficking were the main culprits, Cesar Calmet, the head of the ministry’s forest preservation program, told AFP.

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“Unless decisions are taken on the matter, forest loss could reach 300,000 to 400,000 hectares a year,” he warned.

Satellite images show that deforestation continued apace in 2017, with 143,000 hectares of Amazon forest wiped from the map of Peru, “the equivalent of 200,000 football fields,” according to the environmental website Mongabay.

Peru is one of 17 “mega diverse” countries on Earth, which together contain 70 percent of the world’s biodiversity, according to the UN’s environmental agency.

It also is the country with the second largest expanse of Amazon forest after Brazil.

Located in the country’s east, the Amazon basin accounts for a third of Peru’s territory, and is a precious resource for absorbing greenhouse gases, the cause of global warming.

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Calmet’s group at the environment ministry says the situation is particularly troubling in the southern Amazon region of Madre de Dios where panning for gold is widespread and deforestation is advancing rapidly, from 5,000 hectares in 2001 to 17,000 in 2016.

Pope Francis traveled to the region in January and called for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous inhabitants.


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GOP’s use of Kanye West to help Trump has been a spectacular flop: CNN host

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On CNN Saturday, Michael Smerconish examined rapper Kanye West's presidential campaign — and how the GOP efforts to boost it to siphon voters from former Vice President Joe Biden don't appear to be working.

"Is Kanye West serious about running for president or is it all part of a dark twisted fantasy?" said Smerconish. "NPR has documented how several operatives, some with Trump ties, are actively helping the superstar get on general election ballots in various states. Kanye West officially on the ballot in Vermont, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, and has filed recently in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Jared Kushner met privately with West in Colorado, where the two par took in a friendly conversation ... the RNC and Trump has denied involvement in West's campaign. but the president isn't exactly discouraging the competition."

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Greenland’s ice sheet has melted past the point of no return

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Greenland's ice sheet may have shrunk past the point of return, with the ice likely to melt away no matter how quickly the world reduces climate-warming emissions, new research suggests.

Scientists studied data on 234 glaciers across the Arctic territory spanning 34 years through 2018 and found that annual snowfall was no longer enough to replenish glaciers of the snow and ice being lost to summertime melting.

That melting is already causing global seas to rise about a millimeter on average per year. If all of Greenland's ice goes, the water released would push sea levels up by an average of 6 meters -- enough to swamp many coastal cities around the world. This process, however, would take decades.

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Trump targets TikTok again with new executive order

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US President Donald Trump late Friday lashed out anew at ByteDance, issuing a fresh executive order stating the Chinese internet giant must sell its interest in the Musical.ly app it bought and merged with TikTok.

The order builds on sweeping restrictions issued last week by Trump that TikTok and WeChat end all operations in the US, his latest explosive moves aimed at countering China's rising global power.

ByteDance bought karaoke video app Musical.y from a Chinese rival about three years ago in a deal valued at nearly a billion dollars. It was incorporated into TikTok, which became a global sensation.

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