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Great Barrier Reef suffers mass coral bleaching event

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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has suffered “very widespread” damage after rising sea temperatures caused the third mass coral bleaching events in five years, authorities said Thursday.

The planet’s largest coral reef system is worth an estimated $4 billion a year in tourism revenue for the Australian economy, but is at risk of losing its coveted world heritage status because warmer oceans brought about by climate change have damaged its health.

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Its northern reaches suffered an unprecedented two successive years of severe bleaching in 2016 and 2017, prompting the government agency overseeing the reef to downgrade its long-term outlook to “very poor”.

Some previously untouched areas had now suffered “moderate or severe bleaching”, said the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which is conducting an aerial survey of the giant organism.

The damage had been less extensive around popular tourist destinations like Cairns and the Whitsunday Islands, the agency added.

Environmentalists have criticized Australia’s conservative government for favoring an expansion of the country’s massive coal mining industry over action to curb climate change.

The latest findings show “the urgent need for reef-safe climate policies,” said Australian Marine Conservation Society campaigner Shani Tager.

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The government has insisted that it is meeting its emissions targets under the Paris climate agreement and that Australia’s total greenhouse gas output remains far below that of major polluting nations.


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Watch Trump pontificate on his ‘brilliant enemy’ during long-winded coronavirus briefing

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The leader of the free world rambled about his "brilliant enemy" during a coronavirus briefing that lasted over two hours.

Allies of the White House had been quoted in the press urging President Donald Trump to keep his remarks short, but that advice has apparently been ignored.

"When critics (and allies) make suggestions to him and they become public - such as the briefings ought to be shorter - POTUS often prefers to do the opposite. We're well past 90 minutes on this briefing," New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman noted on Twitter as the briefing wore on.

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WATCH: Video shows pack of police forcibly remove man from a city bus — for not wearing a mask

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Shocking video from Philadelphia shows multiple police officers forcibly removing a man from a city bus -- reportedly for not wearing a mask.

"A video that went viral Friday shows what appeared to be four police officers, backed by about six more, forcibly pulling a man not wearing a face covering off of a SEPTA bus. After the uniformed and masked Philadelphia Police Department officers lift the adult man off the bus and engage in a brief confrontation, he walks away. No arrest. No ticket," WHYY-TV reports.

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REVEALED: White House pushed FEMA to give its biggest coronavirus contract to a company that never had to bid

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Last month, as a deadly new virus swept over the globe, one Canadian defense contractor predicted on an earnings call that it would lead to a big business opportunity in the U.S. Thanks to the White House, that bet paid off just a few weeks later in a $96 million no-bid deal.

In an unusual move, even in times of disaster, the White House stepped into the federal purchasing process, ordering the Federal Emergency Management Agency to award a contract to AirBoss of America. The Trump administration has rushed through hundreds of deals to address the pandemic without the usual oversight, more than $760 million reported as of this week, but the AirBoss transaction is the single largest no-bid purchase, a ProPublica analysis of federal purchasing data found.

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