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The Amazon rainforest is home to some of the wettest land on Earth. So how is it currently ablaze? And why are the blazes growing? Scientists point to three main reasons – each the result of human activity:
—The first is deforestation, much of it illegal.
—Another spark is farming. More than three-quarters of deforestation in the Amazon is the result of ranching or soy production. Fire has become a standard tool for farmers to clear brush and help maintain their farm.
—The final main cause is droughts. These occur naturally, but scientists say climate change and deforestation are making them more frequent and severe.
All of these practices feed into one another. Read more by clicking the link in our bio.
759007 hours ago
The Amazon is burning. The area scorched in the world's most precious forest has more than doubled in the past two years. And deforestation has surged since the the beginning of 2019. In July alone, according to researchers, the Amazon lost 870 square miles of forest — more than half the size of Rhode Island. Destruction and human contact inside the forest is making what was once thought to be all but impossible — wildfires in a rainforest — possible. Scientists warn that the Amazon is approaching a tipping point, at which the damage done to the forest could become irreversible. But Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, the man most able to staunch the unfolding crisis in the Amazon, isn’t just ignoring the problem. He’s suggesting it’s being staged to make him look bad. Read more by clicking the link in our bio. (Photos by Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters)
5659012 hours ago
Thousands of birds were slaughtered earlier this month when a massive hailstorm lashed regions northwest of Billings, Mont. The supercell thunderstorm “killed and maimed more than 11,000 waterfowl and wetland birds at the Big Lake Wildlife Management Area west of Molt," according Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Officially, the largest hail report at Big Lake came in at 2.75 inches from a resident whose property is in the area. The homeowner reportedly lost four windows and a car windshield in the hailstorm, which featured pelting hail driven by strong thunderstorm winds. Read more by clicking the link in our bio.
460501 day ago
Huge tracts of the Amazon rainforest are on fire. The fires, which are all of human origin, according to researchers, have covered major cities in dark smoke. Some have been deliberate and some accidental, researchers say. The fires have led to a clear spike in carbon monoxide emissions as well as planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, posing a threat to human health and aggravating global warming, according to scientists. The Amazon sucks up about a quarter of the 2.4 billion metric tons of carbon that global forests absorb each year. But because of the fires, among other factors like changing weather patterns and increasing tree mortality, the ability of the rainforest to pull in more carbon than it releases is diminishing. Read more by clicking the link in our bio. (Photo by Bruno Kelly/Reuters)
854501 day ago
Via @coveringpotus: Outside the White House on Wednesday, President Trump attacked Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, saying she had made “nasty” comments about his interest in having the United States purchase Greenland. Tuesday night, Trump announced that he was abruptly calling off a planned two-day state visit to Copenhagen next month over Frederiksen’s refusal to entertain the sale of Greenland, which is part of the kingdom of Denmark. Frederiksen called the idea of the sale “absurd” over the weekend after news broke of Trump’s interest — a characterization that apparently offended him. “I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off,” Trump said on Wednesday. “She shouldn’t treat the United States that way … She said ‘absurd.’ That’s not the right word to use.” Read more by clicking the link in our bio.
347701 day ago
Students from Parkland, Fla. are throwing their weight behind a new and ambitious gun-control program that they hope will set the tone for the debate leading up to 2020. They hope their plan will be considered by President Trump as well as his Democratic presidential rivals and will serve as a catalyst for a surge of youth voters next year. Called “A Peace Plan for a Safer America,” the ambitious platform, which was obtained by The Post, goes much further than the current debate over universal background checks and “red flag” laws. It would create a national licensing and gun registry, ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, implement a mandatory gun buyback program and more. Read more by clicking the link in our bio.
1325501 day ago
More than 75 years after it was dedicated in the midst of World War II, the Jefferson Memorial has become a miniature and unsightly ecosystem filled with spiders and wasps. The memorial’s white Vermont marble once was smooth and pristine but has been badly eroded by weather. Now the National Park Service has embarked on an $8.2 million project to reclaim the landmark from the creeping grasp of nature. The task is varied, “but probably the most visible thing that we’re doing is to clean the memorial of the biofilm,” said Audrey Tepper, a Park Service historical architect with the National Mall and Memorial Parks. The film — “a microbial community of fungi, algae and bacterial growth,” Tepper said — has left a dingy, gray shadow over one of the country’s most beautiful structures. Read more by clicking the link in our bio. (Photo by @mswontheroad/The Washington Post)
613601 day ago
Via @coveringpotus: On Tuesday, President Trump abruptly called off a trip to Denmark, announcing via tweet that he was postponing the visit because the country’s leader was not interested in selling him Greenland. Greenland is a self-governing country that is part of the kingdom of Denmark. In his tweet, Trump said that while Denmark is “a very special country with incredible people,” he is postponing his scheduled meeting with Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen based on her statement “that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland.” “The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct,” Trump added. “I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!” Over the weekend, Frederiksen had visited Greenland and told reporters there that Trump’s idea of buying the island was “absurd.” Read more by clicking the link in our bio.
2191502 days ago
An outdoor movie night in Denver was interrupted last weekend when high winds blew away the event’s main seating: mattresses. The cinema pop-up set out as many as 150 beds with pillows, blankets and a bedside table. Patrons shelled out $50-$70 for the setup, which apparently did not include anything to hold down the relatively lightweight mattresses. Read more by clicking the link in our bio.
2398702 days ago
Atchafalaya Swamp, a bastion of Cajun culture, is the largest river swamp in the country and a vital habitat for migratory birds. The land is so damply verdant that it seems not for this world, which it soon won’t be given the rate at which acres of wetlands are disappearing. It's one of the 12 places The Post asked journalists to visit that have a scientific backstory. Click the link in our bio to discover the beauty, mystery, wildness and audacity of science across the country. (Photos by Emily Kask for The Post)
387902 days ago
Evelyn Hernández (center), a 21-year-old Salvadoran woman charged in the death of her stillborn baby, was cleared by a judge on Monday, a notable triumph in a country with one of the world’s most severe abortion bans. Hernández was raped at the age of 18, and those close to her say she didn’t know she was nearly 34 weeks pregnant when she walked into a latrine and delivered a stillborn child. Her mother found her, bleeding and unconscious, before rushing her to a hospital. Police discovered her fetus in the latrine and charged Hernández with aggravated homicide. In 2017, she was handed a 30-year prison sentence. Hernández spent 33 months in prison and was released in February after a successful appeal. In an attempt to retry her on the same charges, prosecutors last week fought to increase her sentence to 40 years, arguing that she had lied about being raped and should have known she was pregnant. Read more by clicking the link in our bio. (Photo by Oscar Rivera/AFP/Getty Images)
2951602 days ago
Via @coveringpotus: President Trump appears to be backing away from potential support for gun background check legislation, The Post reported Monday evening, citing White House aides, congressional leaders and gun advocates. Following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, Trump said “there is a great appetite” for tightening background checks on people who buy guns. But in recent days, the president has focused in public remarks on the need to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill while emphasizing that the nation already has “very strong background checks right now” — positions that hew more closely to the views of the National Rifle Association. On Monday, Democratic leaders said they viewed Trump’s shifting posture as a sign that he was never serious about leading a push to tighten gun laws. Read more by clicking the link in our bio. (Photo by Patrick Semansky/AP)
511902 days ago
Via @postopinions: "I can no longer in good conscience support the president’s reelection," former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci writes in Opinions. "The negatives of Trump’s demagoguery now clearly outweigh the positives of his leadership, and it is imperative that Americans unite to prevent him from serving another four years in office." Read more of his op-ed by clicking the link in our bio.
1729703 days ago
NBA star Stephen Curry announced on Monday that he is sponsoring the creation of men’s and women’s golf teams at Howard University — bringing competitive golf to the school for the first time in decades. The cost of a collegiate golf program, including both operating expenses and scholarships, can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. While declining to reveal the exact amount, Curry’s team said he will make a seven-figure donation paid out over the next six years, aimed at giving Howard time to raise an endowed fund that would make the program self-sustainable. For decades, Howard had a Division II team, which university officials believe was discontinued in the 1970s. The new program being financed by Curry is believed to be the first time Howard will have a Division I golf program in the university’s history. Read more by clicking the link in our bio. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
1436603 days ago
Water. Steam. Massive Technicolor mounds. Fly Geyser is undeniably weird. Getting to the site is a journey. It’s 21 miles north of Gerlach, Nev., population 206, which is more than two hours north of Reno. Despite the stark setting, it’s a fragile place, adjacent to thousands of acres claimed for lithium mines and the playa where tens of thousands of Burning Man revelers gather each year. The land has about 150 hot springs, 120 plant species and astonishingly abundant wildlife, including fairy shrimp, feral horses and mountain lions. It's one of the 12 places The Post asked journalists to visit that have a scientific backstory. Click the link in our bio to discover the beauty, mystery, wildness and audacity of science across the country. (Photos by Christie Hemm Klok for The Post)
309703 days ago
A man in Conway, S.C. came within an arm’s length of disaster during a thunderstorm last week. In it, the man can be seen walking amid a heavy downpour. In a split second, an arc of electricity appears, followed by a blinding flash of light, and then the man drops his umbrella and doubles over. A moment later, he runs away out of frame. Twelve people have been killed by lightning in the United States this year, including two in Pennsylvania and three in Florida. Averaged over the past three decades, more than four-dozen people are killed by lightning in the United States every year. Men are four times as likely to be struck. Read more by clicking the link in our bio.
881603 days ago
Unpaid medical bills are the leading cause of personal debt and bankruptcy in the United States according to credit reports, and what’s happening in rural areas such as Butler County is a main reason why. Patients who visit rural emergency rooms in record numbers are defaulting on their bills at higher rates than ever before. Meanwhile, many of the nation’s 2,000 rural hospitals have begun to buckle under bad debt, with more than 100 closing in the past decade and hundreds more on the brink of insolvency as they fight to squeeze whatever money they’re owed from patients who don’t have it. The result each week in Poplar Bluff, Mo., a town of 17,000, has become so routine that some people here derisively refer to it as the “follow-up appointment” — 19 lawsuits for unpaid hospital bills scheduled on this particular Wednesday, 34 more the following week, 22 the week after that. Case after case, a hospital that helps sustain its rural community is now also collecting payments that are bankrupting hundreds of its residents. Go to the link in our bio to read more. (Photos by @mswontheroad/The Washington Post)
661803 days ago
It took a shooter all of 32 seconds to spray 41 rounds outside a popular bar in Dayton, Ohio, this month, an attack that killed nine people and injured 27. A lightning-fast response from nearby officers prevented a far higher toll: When police shot him dead, the killer still had dozens of bullets to go in his double-drum, 100-round magazine. The use of such high-capacity magazines was banned in Ohio up until 2015, when a little-noticed change in state law legalized the devices, part of an overall rollback in gun-control measures that has been mirrored in states nationwide. With the pace of mass shootings accelerating — and their tolls dramatically increasing — criminologists and reform advocates are more intently focused on limiting access to such accessories as one of the most potent ways to curb the epidemic. Restrictions on the capacity of bullet magazines will not stop mass shootings, but they could make the attacks less deadly, giving potential targets precious seconds to escape or fight back while the shooter reloads, experts say. Go to the link in our bio to read more. (Photo by Julie Jacobson/AP; iStock; Washington Post illustration)
723103 days ago
Eat your way through Barcelona by starting at Carrer de Blai, where bars line the street, specializing in tapas and pintxos, small plates filled with crab cakes or little sandwiches loaded with meat and cheese. On Sunday afternoons, head to the neighborhoods of Sant Antoni or Poble Sec to tomar un vermut — drink a vermouth — with friends. Or for dessert, especially if you’re a dough lover, check out Xurreria Trebol. You can grab a cup of chocolate, or churros fresh out of the fryer, and be sure to try a bunyol, a typical Catalan fried dough ball, sprinkled in sugar or drizzled in hot chocolate. Then, for those late nights, snack on octopus croquettes or, if you’re brave, fried pig snout at La Bodega d’en Rafel. Follow @bytheway for more. (Photos by @javier_luengo_photo for The Post)