MIAMI — Small ship company Windstar Cruises will require passengers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. The company announced the requirement as it plans to restart cruises in the Caribbean and Mediterranean in June after more than a year out of operation. The company will require crew members to get vaccinated “as soon as vaccinations are available to them.” Windstar follows Virgin Voyages, which announced earlier this month it will require passengers and crew to be vaccinated when cruises restart. Royal Caribbean Group, which plans to restart cruises in the Caribbean in June, will require cre...
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House Republicans continuing to rage against 'deep state' to avoid primary challenges from Trump loyalists
Some of former president Donald Trump's allies in the House are still waging war against the so-called "deep state" on his behalf.
A majority of both Republicans and Fox News viewers believe that "deep state" government bureaucrats are working to undermine the twice-impeached one-term president, and GOP lawmakers are continuing to rage against law enforcement and intelligence agencies that investigated Trump's ties to Russia and the Ukraine scheme, reported NBC News.
"I hope you plan on spending a reasonable amount of time in upcoming years on activities other than investigating conservatives and spying on Republican presidential campaigns," sneered Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) during a recent congressional hearing with FBI director Christopher Wray, CIA director William Burns and national intelligence director Avril Haines.
"[Americans] need to have confidence that the premier law enforcement agency is honest, politically neutral and quickly fixes mistakes," added Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee. "Unfortunately, we don't have much confidence that that is being done."
Nunes and other GOP lawmakers also accused the FBI of targeting conservatives by focusing on domestic terrorism in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection and accused intelligence services of spying on Americans.
"The Democrats see political benefits in characterizing wide swaths of American citizens — particularly Republicans and conservatives — as politically suspect, politically violent and deserving of government surveillance," Nunes said.
GOP senators have largely refrained on attacking law enforcement and intelligence agencies, but the spokesman for former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said most House Republicans come from deep-red districts and must "be as pro-Trump as possible" to avoid facing a loyalist in next year's primaries.
"We have to be serious about the threats that we face," said former Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. "A rising China probably most importantly, and it's hard to do that if you're focused on conspiracy theories against our own law enforcement agencies. Offering a thoughtful and credible critique of President Biden's foreign policy is critical to winning the House in the midterms."
Since 1980, the planet's north and south poles have moved roughly four meters in distance, and new research shows that shifts in the Earth's rotational axis have accelerated since the 1990s as a result of the widespread melting of glaciers—a clear manifestation, scientists say, of the climate emergency.
"Faster ice melting under global warming was the most likely cause of the directional change of the polar drift in the 1990s," Shanshan Deng—a researcher from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences—told the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Thursday.
In a study published last month in the peer-reviewed journal Geophysical Research Letter, Deng and her co-authors found that changes in terrestrial water storage—particularly the accelerated loss of water stored on land due to melting glaciers—redistributed enough of the world's mass to drive "the rapid polar drift toward the east after the 1990s."
As The Guardian explained Friday:
The planet's geographic north and south poles are the point where its axis of rotation intersects the surface, but they are not fixed. Changes in how the Earth's mass is distributed around the planet cause the axis, and therefore the poles, to move.
In the past, only natural factors such as ocean currents and the convection of hot rock in the deep Earth contributed to the drifting position of the poles. But the new research shows that since the 1990s, the loss of hundreds of billions of tons of ice a year into the oceans resulting from the climate crisis has caused the poles to move in new directions.
The scientists found the direction of polar drift shifted from southward to eastward in 1995 and that the average speed of drift from 1995 to 2020 was 17 times faster than from 1981 to 1995.
The AGU noted that "researchers have been able to determine the causes of polar drifts starting from 2002 based on data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), a joint mission by NASA and the German Aerospace Center, launched with twin satellites that year and a follow-up mission in 2018."
Data from the GRACE satellites has enabled scientists to "link glacial melting to movements of the pole in 2005 and 2012, both following increases in ice losses," The Guardian reported. "But Deng's research breaks new ground by extending the link to before the satellite's launch, showing human activities have been shifting the poles since the 1990s, almost three decades ago."
While Deng's team showed that the accelerated decline in water stored on land stemming from glacial losses "is the main driver" of polar drift since the 1990s, the researchers wrote that groundwater depletion in non-glacial regions has also contributed to the movements.
"Groundwater is stored under land but, once pumped up for drinking or agriculture, most eventually flows to sea, redistributing its weight around the world," The Guardian noted. "In the past 50 years, humanity has removed 18 trillion tons of water from deep underground reservoirs without it being replaced."
Vincent Humphrey, a climate scientist at the University of Zurich who was not involved in the study, told AGU that the new research "tells you how strong this mass change is—it's so big that it can change the axis of the Earth."
This shift in the Earth's axis, however, is too small to affect daily life, Humphrey added. It could change the length of day, but only by milliseconds.
Nonetheless, other climate experts such as Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona, have said before that the mere fact that the climate crisis is driving polar movements demonstrates "how real and profoundly large an impact humans are having on the planet."
A Virginia man has pleaded guilty to burning a cross on a Black neighbor's lawn, The Free Lance-Star reports.
James Brown, 41, pleaded guilty to "using force or the threat of force to interfere with federally protected housing rights based on the race of color of the victims."
The day before Brown burned the cross on his neighbors yard on June 14 of last year, one of the neighbor's family members organized a civil rights protest the day before.
According to prosecutors, Brown admitted to burning the cross to two witnesses. He was also known to use racial slurs when referring to his neighbors, who are Black.
When police searched Brown's home after the incident, they found shirts, staples, a staple gun and tiki fuel. "The fuel is believed to have been used as an accelerant. The shirts were similar to shirts used to assemble the cross ... The burn barrel and cross were last known to be obtained by the Marion Police Department, which assisted with the investigation," the Free Lance-Star reports.
"Acts of hatred, intimidation and the threat of force, carried out by the racially motivated cross burning in this case, illegally interfered with their federally protected housing rights," Acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Bubar said in a news release. "This illegal, divisive behavior destroys communities and will not be tolerated. I'm proud of the work of the FBI and our state partners, who brought James Brown to justice."
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