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Trump Complains Puerto Rico Getting 'Too Much' Disaster Aid as More Than 1 Million Face Food Crisis
By Jake Johnson
With more than a million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico facing devastating food stamp cuts as Congress fails to provide necessary hurricane relief funding, President Donald Trump reportedly complained to Republican senators on Tuesday that the island is receiving "too much" aid — a position that was decried as both false and cruel.
"The president continues to show his vindictive behavior towards Puerto Rico and he continues to make the humanitarian crisis worse," said San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz. "He is ensuring that people don't have food to put on the table."
Trump's remarks came during a private lunch with Republicans Tuesday, during which — according to the Washington Post — the president inflated the amount of aid Puerto Rico has received since Hurricane Maria and pushed lawmakers to limit funding to the island.
"At the lunch Tuesday, Trump rattled off the amount of aid that had been designated for other disaster-hit states and compared it with the amount allocated for Puerto Rico following the 2017 hurricane, which he said was too high," the Post reported.
After claiming that Puerto Rico has received $91 billion in federal aid — it is unclear where he got this number — Trump reportedly said "one could buy Puerto Rico four times over for $91 billion."
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló responded with outrage to Trump's reported comments in a statement late Tuesday.
"People from all over the nation, and the world, have witnessed the inequalities Americans face on the island," Rosselló said. "The federal response and its treatment during these past months in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria is clear evidence of our second-class citizenship."
"Mr. President: Enough with the insults and demeaning characterizations," he added. "We are not asking for anything more than any other U.S. state has received. We are merely asking for equality."
Trump's complaint about aid to the storm-ravaged island comes as an estimated 1.3 million Puerto Ricans — including hundreds of thousands of children and elderly people — have had life-saving food aid cut amid inaction and obstruction from the White House and congressional Republicans.
"We just don't have the money right now," said Myrna Izquierdo, an administrator at a Puerto Rican health clinic that relies on food stamp funding. "It's very hard. It is so unfair. That cut is going to kill us."
Late Tuesday afternoon, the Senate advanced a disaster relief bill that Democrats said is far from adequate to address the crises in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. According to one study, the storm may have killed nearly 6,000 people.
"The lack of leadership and coordination, combined with delays in meeting the basic needs of the island, more than 18 months after receiving a presidential disaster declaration, has left far too many children and elderly citizens in unhealthy and unsafe conditions, families in severely damaged homes and communities without adequate infrastructure to sustain a decent quality of life," Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) wrote in a letter to the White House on Tuesday.
Despite the island's dire situation, Trump has reportedly said that he "doesn't want another single dollar going to the island."
"Puerto Rico is in dire need of increased food assistance funding," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote on Twitter this week. "It's unconscionable that we've allowed our fellow Americans to suffer for so long without the full resources of the U.S. government. We must act now to end this crisis."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
- WATCH: Puerto Rico Planting 750,000 Trees to Defend Land From ... ›
- Study: Feds Response to Hurricane Maria Slower, Less Generous ... ›
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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.
Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.
Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.
SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0
"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.
It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.
Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.
In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.
The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).
"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.
The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.
"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
Ivory Coast's rainforests have been decimated by cocoa production and what is left is put in peril by a new law that will remove legal protections for thousands of square miles of forests, according to The Guardian.
By Karin Kirk
Greenland had quite the summer. It rose from peaceful obscurity to global headliner as ice melted so swiftly and massively that many were left grasping for adjectives. Then, Greenland's profile was further boosted, albeit not to its delight, when President Trump expressed interest in buying it, only to be summarily dismissed by the Danish prime minister.
During that time I happened to be in East Greenland, both as an observer of the stark effects of climate change and as a witness to local dialogue about presidential real estate aspirations, polar bear migrations and Greenland's sudden emergence as a trending topic.
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market. Cirou Frederic / PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections / Getty Images
Heavy metals that may damage a developing brain are present in 95 percent of baby foods on the market, according to new research from the advocacy organization Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF), which bills itself as an alliance of scientists, nonprofit organizations and donors trying to reduce exposures to neurotoxic chemicals during the first three years of development.
By Kerstin Palme
Creepy-crawlies are among the oldest life forms on this planet. Before dinosaurs ever walked the earth, insects were certainly already there. Some estimates date their origins to 400 million years ago. They're also extremely successful. Of the 7 to 8 million species documented on Earth, around three quarters are likely bugs.
But several insect species could disappear for good in the next few decades and that would have serious consequences for humans.
Volvo introduced its first-ever all-electric vehicle this week, kicking off an ambitious plan to slash emissions and phase out solely gas-powered vehicles starting this year.
The report, released Wednesday, found that almost every European who lives in a city is exposed to unhealthy air, Reuters reported.