Senators on climate change: “We look a bit like Neanderthals”

With most Americans now viewing climate change as a major threat, a group of senators announced the first bipartisan climate caucus to address the crisis. But the senators are short on specifics and seem to be taking small steps toward action, CBS News chief congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes reports.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney is one of four Republicans, three Democrats and one Independent who just joined the caucus. “We look a bit like Neanderthals,” he said. “It’s real. We’ve got to take action.” 

The caucus is the brainchild of Delaware Democrat Chris Coons and Indiana Republican Mike Braun. “My expectation is that we will start by listening,” Coons said.
 
“I’ve got four kids,” Braun said. “I took a poll among them, ‘What do you think about this idea?’ They love it.”
 
It’s a departure from the climate science skepticism the GOP has embraced in recent years. “There are still some Republican senators who think that cold winter weather is a sign that the climate isn’t changing,” Cordes said to the senators, referring to a common but mistaken assumption

“Science is more and more clear, and I think people will either be convinced or not as time goes on,” Romney said.

“I think many probably just were not willing to say it,” said Braun. “To me, it’s chemistry and physics, and I’m not going to deny that.”
 
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen can already see the impacts of climate change in her home state of New Hampshire. “Our ski industry is affected, our snowmobiling, our maple-surgaring industry. So many things that people can see,” she said.

Coons also said he has seen changes in his state. “It’s striking, in Delaware, just how much it’s impacting everything, from sports fishing, commercial fishing,” he said.

The caucus’ first move will be a meeting with CEOs, some of whom are pushing for a carbon tax. But the group will not commit to anything yet. 
 
“If we go there right away, I think we’ll probably be doing the whole thing a disservice,” Braun said.

“Do you have to cap, or at the very least discourage emissions, in order to make a difference?” Cordes asked.

“Oh, I’m not going to say any ‘have to’ with regards to climate. I think all the ideas will be on the table,” Romney said.

Maine Senator Angus King said strength in numbers will help. “My philosophy is, let’s take small steps, find some things we can succeed on,” he said. 

Scientists insist there’s an urgency to act now, with millions at risk from rising temperatures and sea levels. And with the crisis threatening to cut the U.S. economy up to 10% by century’s end, these senators hope Congress can catch up.

“I do believe that old saying is true, which is, when they feel the heat, they’ll see the light,” Romney said. “People who might otherwise be more inclined to slow things down are going to say, ‘We’ve got to respond.'”

The group wants to introduce legislation by next year, but they have a challenge in winning over the Trump White House, which just began the process of withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords this week and has rolled back dozens of environmental rules in the past three years.

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200 reindeer starved to death in Norway due to climate change

More than 200 reindeer carcasses have been found in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard this year, and researchers are blaming climate change. According to scientists in the region, the reindeer starved to death due to a particularly harsh winter. 

Scientists at the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI), Norway’s government institution for research and environmental management, spent 10 weeks investigating the population. They said a rainy season early last winter led to more reindeer deaths than usual, because when winter rain turns to ice, reindeer are unable to dig for food. 

A relatively large number of calves were born last year, which only made matters worse. “The animals starve and can die and it is the youngest and weakest animals that succumb first,” the institute said. 

NPI has been mapping wild reindeer on Svalbard, a collection of Norwegian islands just 800 miles from the North Pole, since 1978. “Never before have they seen so many carcasses at once,” Norway public broadcaster NRK said.

Scientists fear the reindeer deaths are just another sign of rapid climate change in the region. “It is scary to find so many dead animals,” researcher Åshild Ønvik Pedersen told NRK. “This is a terrifying example of how climate change affects nature.” 

It is not uncommon for reindeer to die of starvation in the winter. But the number of deaths and food shortages are alarming. “Some of the mortality is natural because there were so many calves last year,” Pedersen said. “But the large number we see now is due to heavy rainfall, which is due to global warming.” 

Reindeer can dig through snow for food, but not ice. So, during a typical snowy season, most of the reindeer population does not suffer. But a milder climate has led to more rain than snow, followed by more ice and less access to food, Pedersen said

According to NPI, Svalbard has been disproportionally affected by climate change, which has had major consequences for animals native to the region. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic Report Card for 2018, the region has been warming at twice the rate as the rest of the planet in recent years.

And climate change isn’t the only threat to Norway’s reindeer population. In 2017, freight trains killed more than 100 reindeer in the Helgeland region over a three day period. In 2016, more than 300 wild reindeer were killed by lightning in central Norway.

After being severely depleted by hunting in the early 20th century, the population of reindeer in Norway has significantly recovered since becoming a protected species in 1925. But climate change threatens to reverse the work that has been done. 

Reindeer can be found in almost all non-glaciated areas of the archipelago, according to NPI. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic Report Card for 2018, caribou and reindeer populations have declined 56 percent over the last two decades.

NPI estimates the population of Svalbard reindeer to be somewhere between 400-1,200, while the total reindeer population for all of Norway is estimated to be around 220,000.

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Trump: Seeks change WTO’s developing country definition

Trump: Seeks change WTO’s developing country definition

Pres.Trump on developing country status

  • Pres. Trump seeks change to WTO’s developing country definition
  • site China in WTO developing country status effort
  • Orders US trade representative to seek changes at WTO
  • Says China, Brunei, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Macau, Qatar, Singapore, UAE, Mexico, South Korea and Turkey are wealthy countries that currently claim developing country status at WTO
  • if WTO does not make substantial progress toward reforms within 90 days, USTR should no longer treat certain countries as developing countries
  • without reforms, USTR will not support countries membership in OECD

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Olympics – Sponsorship rule change will not apply to everyone: Canadian official

© Reuters. A child plays in water near Olympic rings placed at Madureira Park ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro © Reuters. A child plays in water near Olympic rings placed at Madureira Park ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro

By Karolos Grohmann

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, (Reuters) – Changes in Germany to the Olympic rule that restricted sponsorship opportunities for athletes during a Games are not a “one-size-fits-all” decision for all countries, Canadian Olympic Committee President Tricia Smith said on Wednesday.

In February German athletes and their sponsors scored a major victory over the International Olympic Committee, earning more possibilities to advertise during the Tokyo 2020 Games and raising alarm bells within the Olympic body.

The German Cartel Office ruled the IOC and the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) were subject to existing competition laws and would need to grant more rights for promotional activities ahead of and during the Games.

While this decision sets a European precedent, it is not legally binding in other parts of the world.

“We had discussions with our athletes’ commission,” Smith, a lawyer, told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of an IOC session.

“It may not be one-size fits-all. I don’t think it is, Certainly not in the changing landscape of this issue.

“The changes that will be proposed to rule 40 by the IOC will accommodate a lot of athletes’ wishes and allow them to continue their affiliation with long-term sponsors. I think it is a reasonable approach,” Smith said,

Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter states “no competitor, team official or other team personnel who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games”.

It is seen as major advantage for Olympic sponsors, who sign up because until now they had exclusive exposure rights during the Games in all Olympic venues and areas. The German decision changes that for German athletes.

As a result the IOC has urged national Olympic committees to discuss the matter with athletes. It is not clear if and when the IOC will propose changes to Rule 40.

“The funding the IOC gets really funds the sports movement in the world. You have to make sure that is protected. The IOC puts 90 percent of their money back into sports,” Smith said.

“We have to be careful to protect that solidarity and the feedback I got from our athletes is they definitely recognize that.”

A four-time Olympian in rowing and a silver medalist at the Los Angeles 1984 Games, Smith is one of only a handful of women in charge of a national Olympic committee (NOC). In total, there are 206 NOCs.

“I have been in the sports system a very long time. I have been part of change and I have seen the change,” she said.

“Sport is one of the most powerful platforms to promote women and girls, to empower women. But there’s lot of work yet to do.

“I have seen the value that diversity brings to a board. Boards making decisions are stronger when they have those diverse perspectives on them.”

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

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Italian gun laws change as leaders push “legitimate defense”

Brescia, Italy — Italians make some of the most sought after firearms in the world. For decades they supplied the standard issue pistol of the U.S. military. Domestically, however, few Italians have owned guns for self defense. But now, analysts say a growing sense of insecurity — and some of the country’s new leaders — are bringing a shift in Italy’s gun laws and culture, and despite falling crime rates, more Italians are arming themselves for security.

“Gun Valley”

Italy has produced over 1 billion dollars worth of the estimated 2 billion dollars of shotguns imported by the United States over the last decade, according to preliminary data from Small Arms Analytics. The epicenter of the Italian firearms industry is Brescia, in the country’s mountainous north.

Dozens of gunmakers have been based here for hundreds of years, among the most famous of which is Perazzi, whose shotguns are used by Olympians and kings.

In the Perazzi factory, dozens of artisans stand at their stations, meticulously carving, engraving and hammering fine details.

“No machine can make what these guys do,” the company’s owner, Mauro Perazzi, told CBS News. His company’s shotguns can sell for $ 80,000 or more, which means they aren’t being purchased by the average Italian.

Gun Enthusiasts And Vendors Attend HIT Trade Show In Vicenza, Italy
Matteo Salvini is seen aiming a Beretta Rifle next to Beretta’s Director General Carlo Ferlito at the HIT Trade Show on February 9, 2019 in Vicenza, Italy. Getty Images

They are, however, one of a number of firearms that have been photographed in the hands of Italy’s right wing Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini.

Shifting sands

“It sends a message,” gun control advocate Giorgio Beretta, no relation to the manufacturer, told CBS News, of seeing Salvini pictured with guns. “(It says) the good guys have guns.”

Salvini’s “League” party came to power as part of a coalition government last year, which has already passed legislation increasing the number of guns Italians are able to own and the size of permitted magazines.

The government is currently supporting a “legitimate defense” bill that would, among other things, decrease penalties for Italians who kill someone perceived to be a threat in their own home.

Critics have accused Salvini of stoking Italians’ fears of crime, and presenting himself as a strongman solution.

“(Italians) feel insecure because of the economic crisis, because of unemployment, because also of foreign people who have been coming to Italy,” Beretta told CBS News.

Since 2014, the number of sporting gun licenses – a main type people get to buy guns for self-defense — issued in Italy has increased by 50 percent, according to government data published by the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 and the Italian research institute CENSIS. That does not correspond, however, with the number of Italians registered with sport shooting associations, according to Beretta, who said that more people are acquiring sporting gun licenses just to keep firearms in their homes for security. Other kinds of gun licenses, including those for hunting, have declined.

“This idea has really been coming from the United States – it’s a kind of ‘individualistic’ idea,” Beretta said. “‘You have to defend yourself and your house,’ is an idea which is spreading in Italy, and Salvini is making the most of it.”

Legitimate defense

Deputy Interior Minister Nicola Molteni works for Salvini and campaigned alongside him for the legitimate defense bill, which resembles the “stand your ground” laws in some U.S. states.

Critics say the proposed law could be taken as encouragement for more Italians to purchase firearms to keep at home for security — a notion Molteni rejects.

“Self defense does not necessarily have to be done with arms,” he told CBS News. “I can also defend myself with a rolling pin or a kitchen instrument.”

Molteni said Italy is facing, “a fresh outbreak in crime, faced with the rise in crimes committed by foreigners — most of the robberies inside homes are committed by foreigners, by gangs from Eastern Europe.”

But the crime rate in Italy has been in steady decline for years. In 2014, at the start of the migrant crisis, approximately 2.7 million crimes were reported in the country, according to government statistics. In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, that number had dropped to around 2.4 million.

The legitimate defense bill has been approved by the lower house of the Italian parliament, and is scheduled for a vote in the Senate at the end of March.

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Forex – Dollar Struggles as Powell Says He is Prepared to Change Policy ‘Quickly’

© Reuters.  © Reuters.

Investing.com – The U.S. dollar struggled for direction on Friday as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he would change the balance sheet if needed.

Powell, who was speaking at a Brookings Institution event along with Janet Yellen and Ben Bernanke, said that the Fed would act “quickly” if market concerns outweigh the strong economic data.

“We will be prepared to adjust policy quickly and flexibly should that be needed,” he said.

Powell also noted that despite trade tensions weighing on Chinese consumers, he expects China and other emerging markets to “remain consistent” with the rest of the growth in the world.

released earlier in the session increased the chance that the Federal Reserve will raise rates next year.

The , which measures the greenback’s strength against a basket of six major currencies, slipped 0.11% to 95.77. The dollar was higher against the yen, with rising 0.6% to 108.31.

Meanwhile, the was unchanged at 1.1401 due to the higher dollar and disappointing eurozone data. Eurozone consumer prices rose at a slower-than-expected pace in December, increasing expectations that the European Central Bank will keep interest rates unchanged.

Sterling was higher as the the services sector accelerated in December. Still, the economy is losing momentum ahead of the UK’s departure from the European Union. increased 0.44% to 1.2686.

fell 0.7% to 1.3387 while rose 0.5% to 0.6724 and jumped 1.26% to 0.7091.

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Instagram 'back to normal' after bug triggers temporary change to feed

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Instagram application is seen on a phone screen © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Instagram application is seen on a phone screen

(Reuters) – Facebook (NASDAQ:) Inc’s photo-sharing social network Instagram said on Thursday it has fixed a bug that led to a temporary change in the appearance of its feed for a large number of users.

The bug led to a small test being distributed widely, the company said. As part of the test, some users had to tap and swipe their feed horizontally to view new posts, similar to its Stories feature.

The momentary change sparked a widespread outrage among users on Twitter, with several comparing it to Snapchat’s unpopular redesign.

"The Instagram update is so trash it’s worse than the Snapchat update," @samfloresxo tweeted.

The redesigned Snapchat app has struggled to attract more users since its roll-out last year and newer versions have been criticized for being too confusing.

In response to a tweet, Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri apologized for the confusion and said, "that was supposed to be a very small test that went broad by accident."

"We quickly fixed the issue and feed is back to normal," Instagram said in an emailed statement.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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