A UN conference on preserving the earth's dwindling resources opened Monday with grim warnings that the depletion of natural habitats and species was outpacing efforts to protect them. Just a week after conservation group WWF said wildlife numbers had halved in 40 years, governments met in South Korea to analyse progress since they agreed four years ago on 20 targets for stemming the tide of biodiversity loss by 2020. The opening of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) conference saw the release of a comprehensive report showing those targets were not being met, with natural habitats still disappearing at an alarming rate, and animals facing increased extinction threats. "It is a document that should make the whole world sit up. It is about all of life on earth," said the executive director of the UN Environment Programme Achim Steiner. "We need to do more -- and do it fast -- to protect the very fabric of the natural world," Steiner said. The so-called Aichi Biodiversity Targets -- drawn up in 2010 -- included halving the rate of habitat loss, expanding water and land areas under conservation, preventing the extinction of species on the threatened list, and restoring at least 15 percent of degraded ecosystems. "Encouraging steps have been taken around the world to tackle biodiversity loss at many levels," the CBD said in its Global Biodiversity Outlook report. "Nevertheless, it is clear from this mid-term review that, on their current trajectory, they will not be sufficient to meet most of the targets by the deadlines committed to." - 'Alarming' deforestation - Global rates of deforestation are still "alarmingly high" despite a slowdown in the depletion of the Brazilian Amazon and gains in forest coverage in Vietnam and China, the report said. Habitats of all types, including forests, grasslands, wetlands and river systems, continue to be fragmented and degraded. In one striking example of long-term degradations, the report cited a 20 percent reduction since 1980 in the populations of wild birds specialising in habitats such as grasslands and forests in North America and Europe. Short-term projections of the dangers facing animal species as a result of habitat loss generally predict a "worsening" situation, the report said. "Despite individual success stories, the average risk of extinction for birds, mammals and amphibians is still increasing," it warned. The most recent update of the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of threatened species in July said a quarter of mammals, over a tenth of birds, and 41 percent of amphibians are at risk of extinction. Last week, the WWF's 2014 Living Planet Report highlighted a 52 percent decline in mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish overall from 1970 to 2010. It said humans were consuming resources at a rate that would require 1.5 Earths to sustain -- gobbling up animal, plant and other resources at a faster rate than nature can replenish them. Nations have struggled to find common ground on funding for the Aichi Targets, especially for poor nations whose scarce resources are already committed elsewhere. At the CBD's last meeting, in Hyderabad, India, in 2012, the world agreed to double biodiversity aid to developing countries by 2015. But they did not quantify either the base amount or the target -- and the numbers are still far from being resolved. "All indicators suggest the status of biodiversity continues its decline and requires urgent attention," said CBD executive secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias. In a study published last week in the journal Science, an international team of more than 30 scientists also concluded that the Aichi Targets were unlikely to be met. "There is a collective failure to address the loss of biodiversity, which is arguably one of the greatest crises facing humanity," said Richard Gregory, one of the paper’s authors and head of species monitoring and research at the British RSPB conservation group.
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden's first calls to foreign leaders went to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at a strained moment for the U.S. relationship with its North American neighbors. Mexico's president said Saturday that Biden told him the U.S. would send $4 billion to help development in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — nations whose hardships have spawned tides of migration through Mexico toward the United States.
- The Telegraph
Russian police detained Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, at a protest in Moscow on Saturday as demonstrations in support of the opposition leader swept across Russia. Authorities detained at least 1,600 people at unauthorised rallies in Moscow and dozens of cities across the country, with some reports of violent clashes between protesters and riot police. At least 10,000 people joined protests in Moscow, according to estimates, in a test to Vladimir Putin. Protests began in Russia’s Far East and Siberia on Saturday morning. Seven time zones east of Moscow, about 3,000 people marched across the city of Vladivostok on the Pacific Ocean, chanting “Navalny!” In Novosibirsk, chants “Putin is a thief” rang out in freezing minus 19 C temperatures as opposition supporters walked across the city to the main square.
A prominent U.S. Senate Republican warned on Saturday that former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial could lead to the prosecution of former Democratic presidents if Republicans retake the chamber in two years. Trump this month became the first U.S. president to be impeached twice after the Democratic-controlled House, with the support of 10 Republicans, voted to charge him with incitement of insurrection for a fiery Jan. 6 speech to his followers before they launched a deadly assault on the Capitol.
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden attended Mass for the first time since taking office, worshipping Sunday at the church he frequented when he was vice president. Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, picked Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, a few miles from the White House. It's where the nation’s only other Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, often went to Mass.
- Miami Herald
Six days after Daytona Beach area man Bobby Scott was last seen, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office arrested DeLand man Michael Harris Saturday night for Scott’s murder.
U.S. Army Forces Command has reinstated the top enlisted leader at Fort Hood, Texas after an investigation cleared him of allegations that he used unprofessional language with subordinates last year.
- NBC News
"I couldn't believe it, it was like an animal. That's the only way I can put it, it was like an animal," the woman said of the assault in Harlem.
A slim majority of Americans say former President Donald Trump should be convicted by the Senate of inciting an insurrection and barred from holding public office, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, which showed a sharp partisan divide over the issue. The national public opinion poll, conducted on Wednesday and Thursday, found that 51% of Americans think Trump should be found guilty for inciting the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Another 37% said Trump should not be convicted and the remaining 12% said they were unsure.
- Yahoo News Video
It's a club Donald Trump was never really interested in joining and certainly not so soon: the cadre of former commanders in chief who revere the presidency enough to put aside often bitter political differences and even join together in common cause.
- Associated Press
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel will be closing its international airport to nearly all flights, while Israeli police clashed with ultra-Orthodox protesters in several major cities and the government raced to bring a raging coronavirus outbreak under control. The entry of highly contagious variants of the virus, coupled with poor enforcement of safety rules in ultra-Orthodox communities, has contributed to one of the world's highest rates of infections. It also has threatened to undercut Israel's highly successful campaign to vaccinate its population against the virus.
- Business Insider
Barely any time has passed since President Biden's inauguration, and Republicans have already returned to their bag of shenanigans.
Efforts to free the miners, who were stuck underground for 14 days, took a dramatic turn on Sunday.
Between 150 and 200 National Guard deployed to Washington, D.C., to provide security for President Joe Biden's inauguration have tested positive for the coronavirus, a U.S. official said on Friday. The U.S. government imposed unprecedented security measures in the city following the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump, including fences topped with razor wire and checkpoints manned by National Guard. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the number of National Guard troops who tested positive could rise but was still a small fraction of the more than 25,000 troops deployed in city over the past few days.
- Associated Press
Four Zimbabwean Cabinet ministers have died of COVID-19, three within the past two weeks, highlighting a resurgence of the disease that is sweeping through this southern African country. President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the coronavirus is reaping a “grim harvest” in the country. Then came the death of the transport minister.
- The Telegraph
China ramped up its pressure on democratic Taiwan over the weekend, with an unusually large number of fighter jets approaching the island in a "test" for the new administration of US President Joe Biden. On Sunday, 12 Chinese fighter jets entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, along with a reconnaissance aircraft and two anti-submarine aircraft, Taiwan’s defence ministry said. A day earlier, China sent eight bomber planes capable of carrying nuclear weapons and four fighter jets to the same area to the southwest of the island, as well as one reconnaissance aircraft. On both occasions, Taiwan sent up aircraft, issued radio warnings to the Chinese aircraft, and deployed air defence missile systems to monitor their activity. Beijing claims self-governing Taiwan as part of its territory, and has been angered by a show of increased US support for Taiwan during Donald Trump’s administration. In recent months, China has carried out frequent, at times daily, incursions aimed at pressuring President Tsai Ing-wen’s government to accept Beijing’s demand that it recognise Taiwan as part of China. These incursions have usually consisted of just one or two reconnaissance planes in recent weeks, rather than the warplanes seen over the weekend.
India said it will administer homegrown coronavirus vaccine COVAXIN in seven more states from Monday as it seeks to inoculate 30 million healthcare workers across the country. The government this month gave emergency-use approval to the vaccine, developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd and state-run Indian Council of Medical Research, and another licensed from Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC that is being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
- Associated Press
Ailing Pope Francis, who this week is making limited public appearances due to persistent pain, has drawn attention to the plight of homeless people in winter, including a Nigerian man who froze to death near the Vatican. Francis on Sunday asked for prayers for the 46-year-old man named Edwin who he said was “ignored by all, abandoned, even by us.” The pontiff said on Jan. 20 “a few meters away from St. Peter's Square, because of the cold, a Nigerian homeless man was found dead.”
- The Week
President Biden is enjoying a honeymoon period, a new ABC News/Ipsos poll released Sunday suggests.Just a few days after assuming office, Biden has received high marks for his response to the coronavirus pandemic and his handling of the presidential transition. More than half of those polled also think he has a chance to unify the country, although only 22 percent have a "great deal" of confidence he'll be able to pull that feat off.Republicans don't seem pleased with some of the executive orders Biden has issued so far, including his reversal of a travel ban on several Muslim-majority nations and the termination of the national emergency declaration at the southern border, but GOP voters are, relatively speaking, somewhat amenable to his coronavirus response. The poll shows 40 percent of Republicans approve of Biden's pandemic leadership. For context, former President Donald Trump's highest approval rating (in regards to his COVID-19 response) among Democrats in the poll was 30 percent, and that was all the way back in mid-March of 2020.> The more than two-thirds of Americans who approve of Pres. Biden's leadership on the coronavirus includes 40% of Republicans -- a notably high level of support from across the aisle a year into the pandemic. https://t.co/Foyzv1E8Ji> > — Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) January 24, 2021The friendly numbers may give Biden some breathing room, ABC News notes, but early tenure bliss generally doesn't last forever.This ABC News/Ipsos poll was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs' KnowledgePanel between Jan. 22 to 23, 2021among a random national sample of 504 adults. The margin of error is 5 percentage points. Read more at ABC News.More stories from theweek.com 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push 7 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's White House exit 'No way' McConnell has had a post-Trump 'epiphany,' political scientist says
Officials didn’t say how many airmen are eligible for these early-out programs.
A billion-dollar Mega Millions jackpot that has been building for four months will be up for grabs on Friday, available to whoever can beat the one-in-302 million odds. "We generally see a lot of the sales occur on the day of the drawings," Mega Millions spokesman Seth Elkin, of the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said by telephone. The selection of the six numbers will be the 37th semi-weekly drawing since the last grand prize winner was picked on Sept. 15, the longest jackpot dry spell Mega Millions has ever had, Elkin said.