MIAMI — Citing concerns that the estate of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein may not have access to cash, the executive running the Epstein Victims Compensation Fund announced Thursday a temporary suspension of compensation offers. “Although I sincerely regret having to take this action, I have concluded that it is necessary to protect the interests of eligible claimants who have not yet resolved their claims through the Program,” Jordana H. Feldman, the compensation fund’s administrator, said in a statement. “Issuing a compensation offer that cannot be timely and fully funded and paid, cons...
Former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) isn't welcome in today's Republican Party, according to many in his state. The Arizona leader left office after drawing the ire of former President Donald Trump and was ultimately censured by the state GOP for it.
"It is elementary to have to say this, but we did not become a great nation by believing or espousing nonsense, or by embracing lunacy. And if my party continues down this path, we will not be fit to govern," wrote Flake in a column for the Washington Post Tuesday.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) is expected to be removed from the House GOP leadership on Wednesday during the caucus meeting. She'll likely be replaced by less conservative Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) because she supports Trump and Cheney does not.
The Trump problem didn't just happen, Flake argued. It has been coming for years, arguably since the birther conspiracy. That became one of the main reasons that Flake said he couldn't stand with Trump, even if they agreed on policies.
"This allergy to self-evident truth didn't happen all at once, of course," he wrote. "This frog has been boiling for some time now. The Trump period in American life has been a celebration of the unwise and the untrue. From the ugly tolerance of the pernicious falsehood about President Barack Obama's place of birth to the bizarre and fanatical fable about the size of inauguration crowds, to the introduction of the term 'alternative facts' into the American lexicon, the party's steady embrace of dishonesty as a central premise has brought us to this low and dangerous place."
He noted that he expected speaking out would be something that his fellow members would embrace or at the very least accept.
"I remain astonished that so few did. Congresswoman Cheney, I know how alone you must be feeling. But just know that history keeps the score, not Kevin McCarthy or Elise Stefanik," he wrote.
He closed by telling Cheney to hold her head high. Even if she loses, history will prove she fought for democracy when America needed it most.
Arizona GOP Gov. Ducey waits just one hour to sign voter suppression bill that will purge 140,000 people from list
It took Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey just one hour after the state Senate passed a major voter suppression bill for him to sign it into law.
SB1485, according to voting experts, will purge 140,000 Arizona voters from the permanent list of people who are sent a mail-in ballot. 80% of Arizona's voters choose to vote by mail. The state has had voting by mail for over two decades.
Breaking: Arizona GOP Senate, which instigated insane “audit," just voted to purge 140,000 voters including 30,000 Latinos from state's Permanent Early Voting List. That means they will no longer automatically receive mail ballots. #sb1485 now goes to Gov Ducey
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) May 11, 2021
The new law changes the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) "to a new name: the 'Active Early Voting List,' which would require voters to vote early at least once over two election cycles (four years) in order to stay on it," Democracy Docket explains. "Otherwise, their names will be purged from the list and they will stop receiving automatic mail ballots."
Democrats "are concerned the new law would disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color, young people and other historically marginalized groups who rely on receiving automatic mail ballots in order to have their voices heard."
Whether it's turning forests into cropland or savannah into pastures, humanity has repurposed land over the last 60 years equivalent in area to Africa and Europe combined, researchers said Tuesday.
If you count all such transitions since 1960, it adds up to about 43 million square kilometres (16.5 square miles), four times more than previous estimates, according to a study in Nature Communications.
"Since land use plays a central role for climate mitigation, biodiversity and food production, understanding its full dynamics is essential for sustainable land use strategies," lead author Karina Winkler, a physical geographer at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands, told AFP.
Plants and soil -- especially in tropical forests -- soak up about 30 percent of manmade carbon pollution, so large-scale landscape changes could spell success or failure in meeting Paris Agreement temperature targets.
The 2015 climate treaty enjoins nations to stop global heating at "well below" two degrees Celsius, and 1.5C if possible.
The planet has already warmed 1.2C above the preindustrial benchmark, enough to unleash a crescendo of deadly storms, sea level rise and other impacts.
Since 1960, Earth's total forest cover has shrunk by nearly a million km2, while areas covered by cropland and pastures have each increased by roughly the same extent, the study found.
But the global figures obscure important regions differences.
Forest areas in the Global North -- Europe, Russia, East Asia and North America -- have increased in the last 60 years, while forest loss in developing countries of the Global South has been staggeringly high, the study showed.
Conversely, croplands have declined in the north and expanded in the global South, especially to satisfy rich country appetites.
- Demand for commodities -
"Tropical deforestation has occurred for the production of beef, sugar cane and soybean in the Brazilian Amazon, oil palm in Southeast Asia, and cocoa in Nigeria and Cameroon," Winkler noted.
High oil prices -- peaking at around $145 per barrel of crude in 2008 -- also fuelled conversion of forests to bioenergy crops.
The study revealed rapid land use change -- driven first by the Green revolution in the 1960-70s, and then by the expansion of globalised markets -- up to 2005.
But after a period of fluctuation in global markets, the pace at which land was repurposed slowed.
"With the economic boom coming to an end during the Great Recession (of 2008), the global demand for commodities dropped," the study noted.
Earlier calculations of land use change since the mid-20th century have fallen short for a number of reasons, Winkler explained.
Datasets were fragmented both in space and time, and based as much on assumptions as concrete measurements. The resolution of satellite data was coarse, and usually only distinguished between two or three categories of land.
The new study drew from long-term land use statistics compiled by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), identifying urban areas, croplands, forests, grasslands, pastures and regions with sparse or no vegetation, such as deserts.
It also used a higher resolution of satellite images -- one kilometre squared.
About 17 percent of Earth's land surface has switched categories at least once since 1960, the study showed.
But sometimes the same piece of real estate changed more than once. If all such transitions are taken into account, the total land surface affected was equivalent to 32 percent.
Earth's skin is stretched across 510 million km2. Some 70 percent of that -- 361 million km2 -- is water, mostly oceans.
Of the remaining 149 million km2, about 15 million km2 is permanently covered by ice, leaving 134 million km2 of ice-free land.
© 2021 AFP
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