It’s Tuesday February 13, 2018

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New satellite research shows melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are speeding up the already fast pace of sea level rise. According to researchers, at the current rate, the world’s oceans on average will be at least 2 feet (61 centimeters) higher by the end of the century compared to today. Sea level rise is caused by warming of the ocean and melting from glaciers and ice sheets. The research, based on 25 years of satellite data, shows that pace has quickened, mainly from the melting of massive ice sheets. It confirms scientists’ computer simulations and is in line with predictions from the United Nations, which releases regular climate change reports. Of the 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) of sea level rise in the past quarter-century, about 55 percent is from warmer water expanding, and the rest is from melting ice.
The research was published in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences.

Tonga’s neighbors scrambled to deliver emergency relief on Tuesday after Cyclone Gita tore across the Pacific island nation in the middle of the night, flattening the parliament, tearing roofs off homes and causing widespread flooding. There were no confirmed reports of deaths from the Category 4 storm that brought winds of around 200 km (125 miles) per hour, but there were a lot of injured people, some seriously, according to Graham Kenna, an Australian government adviser at Tonga’s National Emergency Management Office. Photos posted on social media showed a wrecked Parliament House building in the capital, as well as extensive flooding and downed power lines. Access to areas outside the capital was hindered by the storm damage and debris. New Zealand is donating $545,000 in aid, and a NZ Air Force Hercules aircraft was due to fly emergency relief supplies into Tonga on Tuesday. Australia is donating $275,000 worth of emergency shelter, kitchen, and hygiene kits, while the country’s foreign minister said the Australian Defence Force personnel would assist with clean-up efforts. The cyclone was heading towards Fiji’s southern islands on Tuesday, with some forecasts reporting it intensifying towards a Category 5 storm.

Human error may be to blame for the crash of a Russian plane that killed 71 people. On Tuesday, Russian investigators noted that the pilots of the doomed airliner failed to turn on the heating unit for its measuring equipment, resulting in flawed airspeed data. The pilots put the An-148 on autopilot after taking off from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport but took manual controls back when they saw conflicting speed data, with one indicator showing the plane’s speed at zero. The pilots performed a series of maneuvers and eventually took the plane into a dive at 30-35 degrees. It plummeted into a snowy field six minutes after takeoff, killing all 65 passengers and six crew onboard. Investigators said the government is continuing to study the data, but noted that “erroneous data on the pilots’ speed indicators may have been a factor that triggered the special flight situation.” Earlier reports indicated that the plane’s captain had chosen not to have the plane undergo a de-icing treatment before takeoff. The crew decides whether to have the plane sprayed by de-icing liquid, depending on weather conditions and the state of the plane. The carrier, Saratov Airlines, has grounded several other An-148s in its fleet pending the crash investigation.

North Korea has lowered the volume of its border propaganda broadcasts at the inter-Korean Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) since Friday’s Winter Olympics opening ceremony, according to comments made to Reuters by a senior military official stationed at the border. North and South Korea have been using large speakers to send a sonic barrage of music, news and propaganda at each other since early 2016 when the South restarted its broadcasts in retaliation to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test that January. It was not immediately clear if South Korea had also turned down the volume of its broadcasts. According to North Korean state media, leader Kim Jong Un wants to boost the “warm climate of reconciliation and dialogue” with South Korea after his younger sister Kim Yo Jong led a three-day visit to the Games. The Games are being held at the ski resort of Pyeongchang, about 80 km (50 miles) south of the border.

The Senate’s two top leaders put on a show of camaraderie Monday as their chamber launched its immigration debate, but also laid down markers underscoring how hard it will be to reach a deal that can move through Congress. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaking at a previously scheduled appearance alongside his counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., at the University of Louisville said, “We really do get along, despite what you read in the press." McConnell expressed his support for a wide-ranging proposal by President Donald Trump that the Senate is expected to vote on this week. It would pave a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million young “Dreamer” immigrants in the U.S. illegally, a lure for Democrats that many Republicans oppose. Trump also wants $25 billion for Trump’s border wall with Mexico and other security measures, as well as curbs on legal immigration — a must for many Republicans. Many Democrats consider some of the proposals, including limiting the relatives that legal immigrants can bring to the U.S., to be non-starters.

President Trump’s daughter-in-law Vanessa Trump was taken to a New York hospital on Monday after officials said she opened a piece of mail containing an unidentified white powder that was later determined to be non-hazardous. Vanessa Trump, the wife of the president’s eldest son Donald Jr., was hospitalized after she complained of nausea following her exposure. New York police officials said two other people who were present were also taken to the hospital. A police department spokesperson said, “The substance had arrived by mail and it was addressed to Donald Trump Jr." U.S. authorities have been on alert for mail containing white powder since 2001, when envelopes laced with anthrax were sent to media outlets and U.S. lawmakers, killing five people. Three patients from the household were transported to the NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center for further evaluation, including Vanessa Trump’s mother, although she had not complained of symptoms. The package had a Boston postmark, according to ABC News and the New York Post. The U.S. Secret Service confirmed it was involved in the investigation.

A former Politburo member once seen as a rising star in Chinese politics has been charged with bribery, becoming the highest-ranking serving official to be ensnared by President Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-corruption campaign, now in its sixth year. The Supreme People’s Procuratorate announced the indictment of Sun Zhengcai, the former Communist Party leader of the western megacity of Chongqing, on its website Tuesday. The announcement said Sun “illegally accepted huge amounts of money and goods” from others in return for providing them with benefits. The indictment focused on bribery but leaders have made it clear Sun’s alleged offenses were largely political in nature. Sun was expelled from the party and dismissed from public office because he was suspected of “serious discipline violations,” a phrase that usually refers to bribery and other graft. The 53-year-old Sun sat on the Politburo and had been seen as a candidate for promotion to the body’s Standing Committee, the select group of leaders who constitute the apex of political power in China. Sun had been identified most closely with the China Youth League faction associated with Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, which Xi has effectively sidelined in the succession process. His expulsion will help ensure that Xi’s supporters hold strong majorities on both the Politburo and the smaller Standing Committee.

South Africa's ruling African National Congress party decided Tuesday to oust Jacob Zuma as head of state, Reuters reported, citing two sources. The agreement to "recall" Zuma, or remove him from office, came after 13 hours of intense debate and a brief meeting between Zuma and his presumed successor, deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, in which Zuma refused a request that he resign within 48 hours. If Zuma continues to defy the party's wishes it might have to suffer the further indignity of removing him through a vote of no confidence in Parliament. Zuma's leadership has been plagued by scandals although he denies any wrongdoing.

General Motors Co said it will close one of its four plants in South Korea and incur an $850 million impairment charge as part of a restructuring of its money-losing business in Asia’s fourth-biggest economy. GM said it would decide the future of its remaining South Korean operations within weeks, amid ongoing talks with the government and labor unions on how to cut costs and make the business profitable. The move is the latest in a series of steps the U.S. automaker has taken to put profitability and innovation ahead of sales and volume. Since 2015 GM has exited unprofitable markets including Europe, South Africa, and Russia. In recent years, GM ceased manufacturing in Australia and Indonesia, and significantly restructured its Thai operations. It is also winding down efforts to sell cars in India and is turning its manufacturing facilities there into an export hub.

A suspected poacher near South Africa's famed Kruger National Park was killed by a pack of lions who mauled him and ate nearly his entire body. According to media reports Monday, the man's remains were found near Hoedspruit, a town in South Africa’s northeastern province of Limpopo. Local media reported that ammunition and a loaded rifle were discovered next to the remains. A police spokesman said, “It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions. They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains." Poaching has become increasingly prevalent in Limpopo. The BBC reported that three poisoned lion carcasses were found with their paws and heads cut off in the province in January 2017. Authorities are now working to identify the man's remains.

Marty Allen, the baby-faced, bug-eyed comedian with wild black hair who was a staple of TV variety shows, game shows and talk shows for decades, died Monday night. He was 95. Allen died in Las Vegas of complications from pneumonia with his wife and performing partner of the last three decades Karon Kate Blackwell by his side. Allen, known for his greeting and catchphrase “Hello dere,” was a living link late in life to a generation of long-dead superstars with whom he shared a stage, including Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and Elvis Presley. He first found fame as half of the duo Allen & Rossi with partner Steve Rossi, who died in 2014. Allen & Rossi appeared 44 times on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” including the episodes where the Beatles performed and most of America watched. Allen was born in Pittsburgh and served in Italy in the Army Air Corps in World War II, earning a Soldier’s medal for valor. He kept making crowds laugh into his mid-90s. “It’s unbelievable to be 94 years old,” Marty Allen told a New York audience in 2016. “My wife says, ‘What do you want for your birthday?’ I told her, ‘An antique.’ So she framed my birth certificate.”

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