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Shrinking glaciers and rockfalls point to climate change in Alps

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High in the French Alps on the famed Mont Blanc mountain range, it is not hard to find evidence of the toll of global warming.

Visitors arriving from the last tramstop before the 4,809-metre summit are forced to take 20 steps more each year to reach the retreating “Mer de Glace”, or Sea of Ice glacier, France’s largest.

At one point, a sign on the edge of the valley says: “Level of the Glacier: 1990.” Now the ice has shrunk far below.

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Older visitors who return can recall a time when they could touch the ice just outside Montenvers tramstop near the summit.

AFP / MARCO BERTORELLO High in the French Alps on the famed Mont Blanc mountain range, it is not hard to find evidence of the toll of global warming

On the glacier itself, the once immaculate pristine surface is now depressed and greyish.

A grotto visible through the glacier’s blue frozen mass lit up with festive lights like a nightclub has become a popular stop for tourists.

Now workers have drapped white tarpaulins held in place with large stones over the ice tunnel in a bid to protect it from the sun.

And mountaineers on the surrounding peaks follow a new ritual. Over the sound of mountain water, they stop more often to listen for the clatter of falling rocks on Europe’s tallest peak.

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AFP / MARCO BERTORELLO Just some of rubbish, some of it very old, found on the France’s Mer de Glace as the ice melts

The damage is increasingly clear from rockfalls that scar the mountainside and damage routes used by climbers visiting Mont Blanc.

Most spectacular of these rockfalls affected the Bonatti pillar, a massive rock column named after Italian climber Walter Bonatti, that collapsed into a cloud of dust in June 2005.

In 2011, smaller collapses also hit the same area and four years later landslides in the Couloir du Gouter prevented hundreds of mountaineers climbing Mont Blanc by the usual busiest routes. More falls have followed.

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AFP / MARCO BERTORELLO Workers have drapped white tarpaulins held in place with large stones over the ice tunnel in a bid to protect it from the sun

During the 1970s, the famed French alpinist and mountain guide Gaston Rebuffat noted Mont Blanc’s hundred finest routes.

Half a century later, a team of researchers analysed snow conditions, ice and rock state, accessibility and risks on 95 of Rebuffat’s routes.

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The study published in June by Jacques Mourey, a doctoral student at the EDYTEM laboratory at the University of Savoie Mont Blanc, found 93 affected by climate change, 26 of which were severely impacted and three no longer existed.

Among the changes that made these routes more complex and technically challenging are the appearance of bedrock, more fragile snow and ice and widening of crevasses.

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Two impeachment articles expected against President Trump: reports

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Democrats are expected to announce on Tuesday two articles of impeachment against Donald Trump, US media reported Monday evening, after laying out their case at a hearing against a president they branded a "clear and present danger" to national security.

The articles will focus on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, The Washington Post said, citing three official familiar with the matter.

It added that the full House of Representatives would vote on the articles next week, ahead of a trial in the Senate.

CNN said a third article on obstruction of justice was still being debated, and the network's sources cautioned that plans were still being finalized.

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Ambassador McFaul ‘shocked’ Trump invited Sergey Lavrov back to the Oval Office: ‘What are they thinking?’

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Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul repeatedly said he was shocked that President Donald Trump will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday.

McFaul was interviewed Monday evening by Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC "The Last Word," where he contrasted how Trump is treating the Russian government of President Vladimir Putin to the Ukrainian government of President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"Ambassador McFaul, I want to get your reaction to the Russian foreign minister meeting tomorrow at the White House, in the Oval Office, with President Trump," O'Donnell said. "That's his second time. President Zelinsky still hasn't gotten that meeting and Donald trump apparently, apparently may be voted articles of impeachment in committee this week because of his interactions with President Zelensky."

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House Judiciary to vote on Thursday to impeach Donald Trump: report

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Democrats are moving ahead with the impeachment of President Donald Trump following another day of testimony on Monday.

"House Democrats plan to unveil at least two articles of impeachment Tuesday, charging President Donald Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, according to multiple lawmakers and aides. The Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the articles on Thursday, setting up a vote on the House floor next week to make Trump the third president in history to be impeached," Politico reported Monday evening.

"Democratic leaders plan to formally announce the articles at a press conference Tuesday morning. Judiciary Committee Democrats intend to meet ahead of the announcement and review the articles," Politico reported. "The decision to move forward with specific impeachment charges is the most significant move yet for the year-old Democratic House majority, a legacy-defining moment for Speaker Nancy Pelosi that sets up a Senate trial for Trump in early 2020."

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