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UN climate talks unraveling, face failure

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A UN climate summit in Madrid was facing failure Saturday after all-night negotiations between countries left them more divided than ever over how to fight global warming and pay for its ravages.

Delegates from rich nations, emerging giants and the world’s poorest countries all objected to a draft final text unveiled by host Chile in a botched attempt to find common ground.

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Following a year of climate-related catastrophes including deadly storms, flooding and wildfires, as well as weekly strikes by millions of young people, negotiations in Madrid were meant to send out a clear signal of governments’ willingness to tackle the crisis.

The COP 25 summit also aimed to finalise the rulebook of the landmark 2015 Paris accord, which goes into effect next year.

Instead, delegates on Saturday were exasperated at what they called backwards steps on the key political issue — how far each nation is willing to go to help stave off climate catastrophe.

“All the references to science have gotten weaker, all references to enhancing the (ambition) have gone, it seems we prefer to look backward rather than looking forward,” Carlos Fuller, head of the Association of Small Island States negotiating bloc, said in plenary of the draft COP 25 final text.

Even after marathon talks between ministers, observers and delegates told AFP there were still significant splits on a number of issues.

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Old divisions between rich polluters and developing nations re-emerged in Madrid over who should slash greenhouse gas emissions by how much, and how to pay the trillions needed for humanity to adapt to a climate-addled world.

AFP / CRISTINA QUICLER‘ It seems we prefer to look backward’

Newer fissures, meanwhile, between poor, climate-vulnerable nations and emerging giants such as China and India — the world’s No.1 and No.4 emitters — also blocked progress.

In Saturday morning’s public discussions, additional discord surfaced on how nations should refer to a string of scientific assessments of the state of the planet.

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But the bottom-line ask for climate-vulnerable nations remains some signal that all countries are willing to improve on emissions reduction commitments that would see the world careen toward runaway global warming.

– ‘Prove it’s worth it’ –

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“The latest version of the Paris Agreement decision text put forward by the Chilean presidency is totally unacceptable,” said Alden Meyer, policy director at the Union of Concerned Scientists and a veteran UN talks observer.

“It has no call for countries to enhance the ambition of their emissions reduction commitments.”

The United States, which is leaving the landmark Paris climate deal next year, was accused of playing spoiler on a number of issues vital to climate-vulnerable nations, including so-called “loss and damage” funding.

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AFP / CRISTINA QUICLER ‘Time for this process to prove that it is worth something’

“The US has not come here in good faith,” said Harjeet Singh, climate lead with charity ActionAid.

“They continue to block the world’s efforts to help people whose lives have been turned upside down by climate change.”

A number of countries were sticking to their own red lines Saturday, further imperiling the talks.

The Paris deal enjoins nations to limit global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels.

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But even if nations in Madrid snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and agree to implement their pledges, Earth is on course to warm more than 3C by 2100.

“It is time for this process to prove that it is worth something,” said the delegation of Colombia.


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2020 Election

Elizabeth Warren wins coveted Iowa caucuses endorsement from the Des Moines Register newspaper

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) received a coveted endorsement on Saturday evening when her 2020 bid was endorsed by the Des Moines Register newspaper.

"Who would make the best president at this point in the country’s history? At a time when the economic deck has become so stacked against working Americans that the gap between rich and poor is the highest in more than 50 years? At a time when a generation of war has stressed military families and sapped the treasury?" the newspaper asked. "The Des Moines Register editorial board endorses Elizabeth Warren in the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses as the best leader for these times."

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Lev Parnas’s attorney hilariously trolls Mitch McConnell in bid for witnesses during impeachment trial

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The attorney for Lev Parnas trolled Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Saturday in a bid for a "fair" impeachment trial.

Attorney Joseph Bondy posted to Twitter a video mashing together the audio of Trump meeting with Parnas and Igor Fruman along with the music from Rick Astley's 1987 song "Never Gonna Give You Up."

Posting the song as an online prank, known as rickrolling, dates back to at least 2007.

Included with the video was a message to McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Bondy urged the two to "vote with integrity and conscience."

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President Xi Jinping warns China’s coronavirus situation is ‘grave’ due to ‘accelerating spread’ of the virus

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President Xi Jinping warned Saturday that China faced a "grave situation" as authorities raced to contain a virus that has killed 41 people and caused a drastic scale-back of Lunar New Year celebrations.

The world's most populous country, which is scrambling to contain the disease that has infected nearly 1,300 people and overwhelmed health facilities, is building a second field hospital and closing more travel routes.

After more countries reported cases, Xi said at a Communist Party leadership meeting on the disease that China was "faced with the grave situation of an accelerating spread of the new coronavirus" but that the country will "definitely be able to win the battle," according to state media.

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