By Barbara Goldberg (Reuters) - Bird populations across the United States are shrinking largely due to development, with the steepest declines in Western states, according to a scientific report released on Tuesday. Described as the most comprehensive review ever of long-term trend data, "The State of the Birds 2014" sounds a dire warning about extinction if the United States doesn't change its course, but also praises conservation as a solution that works. "Today, we have the science, technology and knowledge to prevent extinctions. Conservation works," said the report, authored by the U.S. Committee of the North American Bird Conservation Initiative — a 23-member partnership of government agencies and organizations dedicated to advancing bird conservation. Destruction of arid lands largely due to development has resulted in a 46 percent decline in the bird population since 1968 in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and other Western states, the report said. Its release marks the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon, once the most abundant bird in the United States whose mass migration of 1 billion birds in 1860 was said to measure 300 miles (480 km) long, darkening overhead skies and taking 14 hours to pass. Within decades, hunting and forest clearing wiped out the population, and the very last Passenger Pigeon - a bird named Martha caged at the Cincinnati Zoo - died on Sept. 1, 1914. Noting the pigeon's fate, the report named 33 U.S. common bird species in steep decline, including the Snowy Owl. It also included a 2014 Watch List of the 233 U.S. bird species most in danger of extinction and in need of immediate conservation help, including the White-rumped Swiftlet, California Gnatcatcher, Bristle-thighed Curlew and Sooty Grouse. Hawaii, which has 33 species on the list, was deemed the "bird extinction capital of the world" by the authors, who said no place has had more extinctions since human settlement. But all is not lost as long as steps are taken to protect wetlands, forests, coasts and other crucial bird habitats or to modify human practices, such as long-line fishing, which in the past resulted in the accidental catch of endangered Short-tailed Albatrosses. Such conservation moves have saved the Albatrosses, Bald Eagles, Brown Pelicans, Peregrine Falcons and even the California Condor, whose population has grown to more than 200 today from just 22 birds in the 1980s, the report said. (Editing by Sandra Maler)
- NBC News
First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
- The Week
In an interview with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said his caucus won't allow Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to dictate the agenda in the Democratic-led 50-50 Senate or demand an end to the legislative filibuster as a precondition for a power-sharing pact. "We've told McConnell no on the organizing resolution, and that's that. So there's no negotiations on that," Schumer said, suggesting he had a secret plan. "There are ways to deal with him." Maddow included an update when she broadcast the interview Monday night. "While we were airing that right now, and you were watching it, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell just put out a statement that he is folding on this" and willl "agree to go forward with what Sen. Schumer told him he must," she said. "Sen. Mitch McConnell has caved and Sen. Schumer has won that fight. That was quick. Let's see what else we can do." No sooner has the portion of Rachel Maddow's interview with Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer aired than Mitch McConnell has put out a statement that he is folding, ending the stand-off. pic.twitter.com/9qR1jpKXkf — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021 McConnell said he would allow the Senate to move forward because two Democrats had reiterated their opposition to ending the filibuster, effectively taking that option off the table. Maddow asked Schumer about that, too, and he didn't answer directly. "The caucus is united with the belief that I have: We must get big, strong, bold things done," Schumer said. The Democratic caucus is also "totally united" that "we will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do," and "we have tools that we can use," notably the budget reconciliation process," he added. "We will come together as a caucus and figure it out." "We will not let Mitch McConnell dictate to us what we will do and not do." Here's Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier in his interview with Rachel Maddow, talking about the filibuster specifically, and getting things done. pic.twitter.com/xOAKWfe2Fu — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021 Schumer also suggested he is not interested in playing cat-and-mouse with McConnell's Republicans again. Watch below. "We will not repeat that mistake." Senate Majority Leader Schumer cites Obama era lessons in prioritizing legislation over bad faith Republican 'bipartisanship.' pic.twitter.com/gpc1kBP45w — Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedBiden's reverse triangulation
The Biden administration will purchase 200 million more coronavirus vaccines and funnel more to states now, in a bid to deliver on the U.S. president's promise to curb the pandemic, a senior administration official said on Tuesday. Biden, who took office last week, is in a race to contain the virus as faster-spreading variants threaten to increase the death toll across the United States, which has already been hard-hit. The administration is briefing state governors on Tuesday about its plans to increase the amount of the vaccine going to those local governments to 10 million doses per week for the next three weeks, up from 8.6 million currently, according to the official who declined to be named, who previewed a policy the president has not yet discussed.
President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services. Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.What they're saying: "President Biden is ensuring that when the federal government spends taxpayer dollars they are spent on American made goods by American workers and with American-made component parts," the White House said in a fact sheet.The big picture: Biden’s action kick offs another week in which the president will seek to undo many Trump policies with executive actions, while signaling the direction that he wants to take the country. * Biden will also reaffirm his support for the Jones Act, which requires maritime shipments between American ports to be carried on U.S. vessels. * Last week, Biden signed an order to attempt to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and workers to $15 an hour.The bottom line: Former President Trump also attempted to force the federal government to rely on U.S. manufacturers for procurement with "buy American" provisions. * But supply chains — with some parts and components made outside of the U.S. — require long and complicated efforts to boost domestic manufacturing. Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- Associated Press
A group of U.N experts has criticized Sri Lanka's requirement that those who die of COVID-19 be cremated, even it goes against a family's religious beliefs, and warned that decisions based on “discrimination and aggressive nationalism” could incite hatred and violence. The experts, who are part of the Special Procedures of the U.N Human Rights Council, said in a statement Monday that rule amounts to a human rights violation. “We deplore the implementation of such public health decisions based on discrimination, aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism amounting to persecution of Muslims and other minorities in the country,” the experts said.
- NBC News
The suspension will last at least 30 days and has been in effect since last week, YouTube said in an email.
- The Week
Biden did not, in fact, remove Trump's 'Diet Coke button' from the Resolute Desk, White House clarifies
The new Biden administration has yet not disclosed the secrets of Area 51 or explained what the Air Force really knows about UFOs, but it did clarify, at least, the mystery of the vanished "Diet Coke button" former President Donald Trump would use to summon refreshments in the Oval Office. The usher button, as it is formally known, is not gone, even if it is no longer used to summon Diet Cokes, a White House official tells Politico. The White House official "unfortunately wouldn't say what Biden will use the button for," Politico's Daniel Lippman writes, suggesting Biden might summon Orange Gatorade and not the obvious answer, ice cream — or, let's get real, coffee. What's more, there are evidently two usher buttons in the Oval Office, one at the Resolute Desk and the other next to the chair by the fireplace, a former White House official told Politico, adding that Trump didn't actually use the Diet Coke button all that much because "he would usually just verbally ask the valets, who were around all day, for what he needed." In any case, it is not the placement of the button that matters, of course, but how you use it. And Biden will presumably know better than to order ice cream treats during a top-secret national security briefing. More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedBiden's reverse triangulation
- The Telegraph
Mitch McConnell, the US Senate Republican leader, said on Monday he would agree to a power-sharing agreement with Democrats, dropping demands that had held up the basic organisation and daily work of the 50-50 chamber for days. Democrat Chuck Schumer, now the majority leader thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote, and Mr McConnell had been at odds over the Republican's request that Democrats promise to protect the filibuster, which requires a 60-vote supermajority to advance most legislation. Mr Schumer has refused to guarantee the filibuster would stay. But in a statement, Mr McConnell cited comments from moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who said they would not favour eliminating the filibuster. "The legislative filibuster was a key part of the foundation beneath the Senate's last 50-50 power-sharing agreement in 2001," Mr McConnell said. "With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent." A spokesman for Mr Schumer, Justin Goodman, said in a statement, "We're glad Senator McConnell threw in the towel and gave up on his ridiculous demand. We look forward to organising the Senate under Democratic control and start getting big, bold things done for the American people." Some liberal Democrats have suggested killing the filibuster to help advance President Joe Biden's agenda, though Mr Biden has not signaled support for such a move. In recent years, the 60-vote threshold has brought the Senate nearly to a halt on major legislation. With Ms Harris unable to attend every Senate session, the two party leaders have been discussing an arrangement to govern day-to-day operations, similar to one struck the last time the Senate was equally split two decades ago. Senate committees have still not been reorganised under Democratic control. Democrats could unilaterally change the rules to require only a simple majority to approve bills, a move sometimes called the "nuclear option", if all 50 members voted together and Ms Harris provided the tie-breaking vote. By declining to guarantee as part of the deal that the filibuster will be protected, Mr Schumer preserves the threat as leverage in negotiations over Mr Biden's priorities, such as a new round of coronavirus relief.
- The Independent
Biden news – live: 200m more Covid vaccine doses on order as only 5 GOP senators back Trump impeachment trial
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- The Week
With former President Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial looming, several Republicans in the upper chamber are reportedly rallying around the argument that impeaching a president who is already out of office is unconstitutional. As The Dispatch and Politico note, scholars in legal circles that span the political spectrum generally disagree, and Trump himself suggested ex-presidents could be tried a year ago. Per The Washington Post, when Trump was impeached for the first time, he complained that Congress should be going after former President Barack Obama instead over comments he made about health care. "We should impeach him for that," Trump said. "Why aren't we impeaching him?" Some of his staunchest allies in Congress concurred, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who stated explicitly in 2019 that former presidents are subject to impeachment. Gaetz didn't change his mind this time around, though he made the case Trump's actions aren't impeachment-worthy. Regardless, the comments raise questions about the sincerity of the argument. Can’t overstate the importance of reporters conveying that this position was fabricated rapidly to give Republican senators dishonest cover to acquit Trump. Clearly evident in the genesis of the talking point. https://t.co/pC0nmIADoP — Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedBiden's reverse triangulation
- NBC News
"The member in question had been advised numerous times about the requirements and had refused to be tested," the House speaker said.
- Architectural Digest
Let’s get loudOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- Yahoo News Video
A former pathologist at an Arkansas veterans’ hospital has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient that he misdiagnosed.
- Associated Press
Indonesian authorities have detained the Iranian and Chinese crewmembers of two tankers that were seized for illegally transferring oil in Indonesian waters, an official said Tuesday. “MT Freya did the oil spilling,” Pramandita said.
- The Independent
‘There appeared to be no remorse,’ says Calcasieu Parish sheriff Tony Mancus
- The Telegraph
Donald Trump said he will "forever be a champion for the American people" as announced he had opened an office in Florida to manage his post-presidency life. The office in Palm Beach, Florida will seek to further the Trump administration's agenda as well as coordinating the 45th president's public appearances and activism work. Without access to his Twitter and Facebook accounts, which the social media companies disabled following the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, Mr Trump has been forced to rely on more traditional vehicles to reach the public and the press in his final days in office. "President Trump will always and forever be a champion for the American People," the new office said in a statement announcing its creation. The announcement of the new headquarters, which is named the "Office of the Former President", came on the same day proceedings for Mr Trump's second impeachment trial were triggered in the Senate. The Senate trial is expected to begin in earnest on February 9.
- The Week
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will have his work cut out for him as he tries to maneuver through the 50-50 upper chamber. To pass most legislation, he'll need to work with Republicans to get things done, but that won't be easy, especially after he rigorously campaigned against a few of them in recent election cycles, CNN reports. Take, for example, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who ultimately won a hard fought re-election campaign last year against Democratic challenger Sara Gideon. Despite the victory, Collins appears to have taken Schumer's efforts to unseat her personally. "What this campaign taught me about Chuck Schumer is that he will say or do anything in order to win," she told CNN. "It was a deceitful, despicable campaign that he ran." Collins is generally considered one of the more bipartisan voices in the Senate and has crossed the aisle not infrequently throughout her tenure, but those words don't make her sound like someone who's excited to help hand Schumer easy wins. Read more at CNN. Susan Collins doesn't sound like she's keen on cutting lots of deals https://t.co/YHgj2ydgN6 — Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) January 26, 2021 The only way governing with the filibuster can ever work is if Republicans are willing to engage in good faith negotiations. Even SUSAN COLLINS is explicitly stating she’s a partisan who has no interest in working with Democrats. — Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) January 26, 2021 More stories from theweek.comSarah Huckabee Sanders' shameless campaign for governorDemocrats are getting Chuck GrassleyedBiden's reverse triangulation
- Associated Press
Israel's military chief Tuesday warned the Biden administration against rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, even if it toughens its terms, adding he's ordered his forces to step up preparations for possible offensive action against Iran during the coming year. The comments by Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi came as Israel and Iran both seek to put pressure on President Joe Biden ahead of his expected announcement on his approach for dealing with the Iranian nuclear program.
- The Independent
Giuliani slams ‘hate-filled left-wing’ as he responds to $1.3bn defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems
Donald Trump’s personal lawyer claims legal action is intended to ‘frighten people of faint heart’
- The Telegraph
North Korea’s acting ambassador to Kuwait reportedly defected with his family to South Korea in 2019, the latest in a series of revelations of escapes by top officials that are expected to infuriate the authoritarian regime. The secret defection of Ryu Hyun-woo was unveiled on Monday by two sources in the defector community, and raises questions about the loyalty of the country’s elite to the ruling Kim dynasty at a time when the country is beset with crippling financial woes. Mr Ryu was serving as the embassy’s charge d’affaires after So Chang-sik, the ambassador, was expelled from Kuwait because of a 2017 United Nations resolution aimed at curbing the pariah state’s overseas diplomatic missions. Mr Ryu's defection was first reported by South Korea’s Maeil Business newspaper and backed up by Thae Yong Ho, who was North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the UK and one of the highest profile defections when he fled in 2016 to Seoul. Mr Thae is now a legislator in the South. Mr Thae said Mr Ryu defected shortly after Jo Song Gil, a senior North Korean diplomat who disappeared from Italy in late 2018 with his wife and who later resurfaced in South Korea. Mr Ryu is believed to be the son-in-law of Jon Il Chun, who once oversaw a ruling Worker’s Party bureau responsible for managing the Kim family’s secret coffers, dubbed Room 39. Kuwait had been a key source of foreign currency for Pyongyang, which sent thousands of labourers, mostly for construction projects. Overseas workers were worth an estimated $500 million to Pyongyang before the United Nations ordered their repatriation by the end of 2019 under its sanctions regime to curb the North’s nuclear weapons programme. Mr Ryu was reported as saying that he had decided to defect to “let my children have a better future.” Mr Thae has also spoken of disillusionment with the totalitarian regime after living on the outside and of the desire to “give freedom” to his children, calling for other officials to follow suit. “I want to deliver to my colleagues working around the world and North Korean elites that there is an alternative to North Korea, and the door is open,” he said in an interview at the recent Reuters Next conference. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service declined to comment.