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Fireflies’ glow could soon be extinguished by human actions

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Species’ extinction rates are accelerating on a global scale. We need solutions that match the severity of the problem.

Say goodbye to one of the dreamiest things about childhood. In the Midwest, fireflies are dying off.

For many Americans, it’s hard to imagine summer nights without the magical glow of dozens of bioluminescent bodies fluttering above the grasses and fields, and lighting up the dark skies above.

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But the die-offs aren’t just limited to fireflies — or to the American heartland. As anyone who’s been paying attention to the news this summer knows, species across the globe are taking a nosedive toward extinction. The United Nations report on biodiversity that came out in May is just the latest assessment to warn that the health of our ecosystems is “deteriorating more rapidly than ever.”

Humans are largely to blame. By spraying toxic pesticides, polluting our air and water, degrading the landscape, and emitting ever more carbon, we’ve essentially captured nature in a big glass Mason jar, screwed the lid tight, and neglected to punch holes in the top. According to the UN report, these unsustainable actions are causing nature to decline at unprecedented rates and accelerating the rate of species’ extinction. Around 1 million animal and plant species — more than ever before in human history—are now threatened with extinction, many within decades.

Scientists say that the estimated 2,000 species of fireflies have been declining for years. Losing these glowing creatures, also known as “lightning bugs” in some parts of the U.S., robs future generations of one of the simplest and most pleasurable joys of childhood. It also robs doctors and researchers of a valuable diagnostic tool. By injecting chemicals found in a firefly’s tail into human cells, researchers can detect diseases like cancer and muscular dystrophy.

On a broader scale, losing plant and animal species at an accelerated rate threatens “the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide,” warn the UN researchers. Up to $577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss alone.

Yet there’s still time—just barely—to turn things around.

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At Earthjustice, our attorneys have fought for decades to protect endangered species big and small from harm. Just recently, we successfully defended against attempts by developers to remove endangered species protections for the California gnatcatcher. This adorable little songbird lives in the rapidly declining sagebrush habitat unique to coastal southern California and northern Baja California, which is also home to many other species.

Of course, we know it’s not enough to address the extinction crisis bird by bird. The UN report recommends a transformative societal shift toward an economic model where we value nature by restoring, conserving, and using it sustainably. That’s why Earthjustice is also tackling the extinction crisis at a broader level.

In the courts, we’re defending core conservation laws like the Endangered Species Act, which has a 99 percent success rate in stopping species’ extinction. On the Hill, we’re supporting bold ideas like the Green New Deal, which lays out a vision for systemic change that matches the scale of the environmental crisis.

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We already have many of the legal and policy tools needed to stop a mass extinction. Now we must push for the political will to open the jar and set loose a just and sustainable future for all.

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Trump defender Kingston shamed into silence by MSNBC’s Joy Reid after blizzard of lies on impeachment

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MSNBC host Joy Reid showed no patience with former Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) on Sunday morning as the advocate for the re-election of Donald Trump repeatedly was called out for lying about the facts of the Ukraine corruption case against Donald Trump as well as the House impeachment trial.

Sitting on a panel with the Intercept's Mehdi Hasan, Kingston was given the first crack at addressing the defense case put forth by Trump's lawyers on the Senate floor on Saturday, only to be pulled up short by the MSNBC host after stating a falsehood, for which he received an admonishment.

With Kingston claiming Democratic members of the Senate who are currently running for their party's presidential nomination did not attend the Saturday hearing, Reid quickly cut him off.

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Trump accused of inciting violence against Adam Schiff with ‘not paid the price yet’ Twitter threat

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A Sunday morning tweet by Donald Trump attacking Rep. Adam Schiff  has drawn intense scrutiny on Twitter and elsewhere with many suggesting the president is inciting violence or some sort of retribution against the California Democrat whith the phrase Schiff "not paid the price yet."

According to the president, "“The Impeachment Hoax is a massive election interference the likes of which has never been seen before. In just two hours the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats have seen their phony case absolutely shredded. Shifty is now exposed for illegally making up my phone call, & more!” before adding, “Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!”

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Fox News poll delivers devastating news to Trump on impeachment

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According to a new Fox News poll released on Sunday morning, a clear majority of respondents -- beyond the margin of error -- believe Donald Trump should be convicted by the U.S. Senate for impeachable crimes and removed from office.

According to the poll, "On impeachment, by a 50-44 percent margin, voters think the Senate should vote to convict Trump and remove him from office. Most Democrats say remove (81 percent) and most Republicans disagree (84 percent). Among independents, more say Trump should be removed by a 19-point margin (53-34 percent)."

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