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Western Europeans wilt in early summer heatwave, compounding climate change fears

A farmer pours water on his face as he works in a greenhouse in southern France on June 17 as western Europe struggles with a heatwave.

(Reuters)Spain is seeing its hottest early summer temperatures, one area of France banned outdoor events, and drought stalked Italian farmers as a heatwave sent Europeans hunting for shade and fretting over climate change.

Such was the heat that England’s upscale Royal Ascot Racecourse even saw a rare change of protocol: guests were allowed to shed hats and jackets once the royals had passed.
“Avoid over-exposing to the sun, hydrate and take care of the most vulnerable so they don’t suffer from heat stroke,” was the advice from Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Madrid during an event, fittingly, about desertification.
Temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Madrid on Friday, the national weather agency AEMET said. A level not seen so early in the year since 1981.
Northern Italian regions risk losing up to half their agricultural output due to a drought, a farm lobby said, as lakes and rivers start to run dangerously low, jeopardizing irrigation.
The federation of Italian utility companies, Utilitalia, warned this week that the country’s longest river, the Po, was experiencing its worst drought for 70 years, leaving many sections of the vast, northern waterway completely dried up.
The heatwave piled pressure on energy systems as demand for air-conditioning risks driving prices higher, adding to the challenge of building up stocks to protect against any further cuts to Russian gas supplies.
‘Health risk’
In France, the Gironde department around Bordeaux prohibited public events including concerts and those at indoor venues without air conditioning, a local official said.
“Everyone now faces a health risk,” Gironde prefect Fabienne Buccio told France Bleu radio.
Temperatures in many of France’s areas hit 40 Celsius for the first time this year on Thursday and were expected to peak on Saturday, climbing to 41-42 Celsius. A record night temperature for June, 26.8 Celsius, was recorded in Tarascon, southern France.
Fourteen administrative departments were on red alert, with schoolchildren told to stay at home in these areas. Speed limits were lowered in several regions, including around Paris, to limit exhaust emissions and a buildup of harmful smog.
Britain’s weather service said Friday was the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures above 32 Celsius in some parts of the southeast.
Parks, pools and beaches were packed, and while many enjoyed a day of fun and freedom after two years of periodic pandemic restrictions some were also worried.
“I’m from Cyprus and now in Cyprus it’s raining … and I’m boiling here, so something must change. We need to take precautions about the climate change sooner than later because undoubtedly it’s worrying for all of us,” said student Charlie Uksel, visiting Brighton, south of London.
“Now we are enjoying it, but for the long-term we might sacrifice.”
Mediterranean nations are more and more concerned about how climate change may affect their economies and lives.
“The Iberian peninsula is an increasingly dry area and our rivers’ flow is slower and slower,” Spanish leader Sanchez added.
Firefighters were battling wildfires in several parts of Spain, with Catalonia in eastern Spain and Zamora near the western border with Portugal the worst hit.
In Zamora, between 8,500 and 9,500 hectares turned to ashes.
The cloud of hot air was sparing Portugal on Friday, where temperatures were not as high as in other European nations, with Lisbon likely to reach 27 Celsius.
However, last month was the hottest May in 92 years, Portugal’s weather agency IPMA said. It warned that most of the territory is suffering from a severe drought.
Portugal’s reservoirs have low water levels, with the Bravura dam of the most affected at only 15% full.

Queen Latifah wants to change the obesity conversation

Queen Latifah attends the 94th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood and Highland on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California.

Funerals are expensive, broken and exploitative. They have to change

My grandfather passed away on a windy April afternoon in 2017. He died at home in Ulladulla, Australia, with my mum and uncle beside him, looking out at the gum trees. Afterward, Mum sat with his body in the cool room before calling the local funeral home to come and pick him up.

Later, the family got together to reminisce about his love for whisky and milk (we called it Poppy Cocktail) and his habit of talking loudly about people we didn’t know while we were all watching television.

My grandfather had what some would call a good death. That isn’t to say the cause of his death was good — the mesothelioma that took his life was swift and brutal — but he had agency to talk about what he wanted, and, importantly, we were lucky enough to have the resources to give it to him.

So, he had the good death — in the home he built, listening to the birds.

The good death

Not everyone is privileged enough to get “a good death.”

End-of-life care can be financially and emotionally taxing, and providing steve madden shoes the elderly the death they desire can be nearly impossible for many families. Seven out of 10 Americans want to die at home, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Only four out of 10 believe they will.

Some believe we need to recalibrate our relationship with death from the ground up.

Sarah Chavez is one of the founders of the Death Positive movement and the executive director of The Order of the Good Death, a community of industry professionals, academics and artists advocating for a healthier relationship with death.

At the core of our relationship with dying and death, Chavez says, is our obsession with youth.

“We’re a youth-centric society. I think a very large part of that is because of our fear of death,” she says.

The US is the largest antiaging market in the world, spending millions of dollars on anti-wrinkle cream, hair dye and cosmetic procedures. We hide our elderly away in nursing homes and hospitals to prolong their lives out of sight — they remind us of our mortality.

“Our elders are just not out and about everywhere,” Chavez says. “You don’t see people age.”

A broken system

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a funeral with viewing and burial is $7,360. For a burial with a cement vault — as required by most cemeteries, notes the NFDA — the cost jumps to around $8,700.

Funeral homes are businesses. This is a multibillion-dollar industry, and while the majority of funeral homes are privately owned, there’s a surprising lack of competition. Service Corporation International is the largest public death care company in the US, with over 1,900 locations in North America and revenue in 2018 of $3.19 billion. The next largest company, StoneMor Partners, made a fraction of that: $316 million. Service Corporation International didn’t respond to requests for comment.

A large part of the business model for these companies involves buying up small funeral homes; trusted family-run ecco shoes businesses used by the community for generations. They keep the name and inject their salespeople and astronomical costs. You want a private viewing to say goodbye? That’ll be $725 dollars for embalming, $250 for cosmetics and $425 for use of the space and staff. That’s over $1,000 before the funeral even starts.

Sarah Chavez is one of the founders of the Death Positive movement and the executive director of The Order of the Good Death.

“I just got an email from a woman, an older woman, today, and she said that when she buried her husband, the funeral home told her that it was the law that she had to buy concrete to put over the casket,” Chavez says.

“It’s a lie, and you hear these lies a lot. That’s not a law at all, in any way, shape or form. Concrete blocks [are] not only profitable, but they make it easy to keep everything uniform, so that the lawn maintenance can be done around them.”

So why do cemeteries charge people for things under the guise of “the law”?

Because cemeteries are by and large private properties, so they can essentially make their own rules.

“Of course they’re going to choose what is most profitable for them,” Chavez explains.

Upsells like concrete vaults and embalming are so common they’re seen as requirements, and few are in the position to question it. Many funeral homes require bodies to be embalmed before viewing, and morticians are often taught at mortuary school it’s a necessity.

The truth is, embalming isn’t required at all. No nike sneakers state law requires every body to be embalmed and, most of the time, refrigeration is enough to keep a body in good condition until burial. There’s a common belief that embalming is necessary for sanitizing the body and making it safe to be around. But corpses pose no real threat to public health. The pathogens that decompose bodies aren’t dangerous, nor is the smell of advanced decay.

While corpses aren’t dangerous, there’s mounting proof embalming fluid is. The main chemical in embalming fluid is formaldehyde, which is incredibly toxic. Since the ’80s, studies have shown morticians are at greater risk for several types of cancer because of their exposure to embalming fluid. Once bodies decompose, the embalming fluid seeps into the dirt, potentially contaminating the ground.

But the bigger danger to most Americans isn’t the risk associated with embalming fluid. It’s the risk that a funeral could bankrupt them entirely.

Most Americans aren’t in the financial position to afford a funeral in the first place.

A study by the Federal Reserve in 2018 found only 61% of American adults could afford an unexpected expense of $400, while a whopping 39% would not be able to afford it without having to sell possessions or go without food or other necessities. For most people, an unexpected $8,000 funeral bill would be emotionally and financially devastating.

“To bury someone is expensive. None of it has anything to do with a real connection to religion or ethnicity — it all has a connection to dollars,” Jeff Jorgenson says.

Jorgenson runs Elemental Cremation and Burial, a green funeral home in Seattle, and co-owns Clarity Funerals and Cremation.

Traditions and religious practices are strong and will never really go away. But in some cases, cost wins out over tradition. Even deeply religious families who would usually abhor cremating their dead are opting for cremation in many cases, Jorgenson notes. “It makes no sense to spend $14,000 to bury grandma when they can’t pay for food.”

Too often, bereaved families scramble to cover costs for a memorial after a loved one unexpectedly passes away. Many families turn to online funding — GoFundMe proudly describes itself as the leading online funeral fundraiser, with 125,000-plus campaigns raising $400 million a year. Other families aren’t so lucky.

“Where I’m from, here in California, what we see a lot are just people standing on the side of a road with a cardboard sign asking for money for a funeral,” Chavez says. “Especially in poor rural communities, this is the norm. You see a lot of funeral car washes where families will stand outside gas stations, and what they’re doing is they’re raising money to pay for the funeral.

“Families don’t know that they often have a choice — no one should have to pay that much.”

100 years of tradition

Before 1861, burying the dead was a family affair. When someone died — usually at home — it was their family that washed and prepared them. The body would be laid out in the nicest room in the house and people would come and pay their respects.

That simple practice existed for generations, until the Civil War and the beginnings of the modern American funeral industry. The almighty dollar has dictated our burial customs ever since.

On May 24, 1861, Col. Elmer Ellsworth became the first Union soldier killed in the Civil War. Due to the heat and distance, soldiers’ remains often went through advanced stages of decomposition by the time they reached home. After hearing of his death, Dr. Thomas Holmes — the father of modern embalming — offered his services to the Ellsworth family. They accepted and Colonel Ellsworth became the first Civil War soldier to be embalmed.

During the Civil War, it wasn’t uncommon to see an undertaker set up on the outskirts of battlefields, ready to embalm the dead.

Before long, it wasn’t uncommon to see amateur undertakers set up shop on the outskirts of battlefields, ready to make good money embalming the dead. Competition was fierce, and the burgeoning industry was wholly unregulated.

The years after World War II were another turning point for the Great American Funeral. The economic boom of the 1950s meant people had more money than ever to flaunt. That didn’t stop with the shiny Cadillac or television set: An extravagant funeral was just another way to show your wealth.

Funeral trends were dictated heavily by Forest Lawn cemetery and its general manager, Hubert Eaton.

Eaton was “the original upbeat undertaker,” writes Caitlin Doughty, co-owner of Clarity Funerals and Cremation with Jorgensen, in her asics shoes memoir Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. He took the dull, sad funerals of yore and injected them with euphemisms (a person didn’t die, they took their leave), embalming fluid and bright pink satin-lined caskets.

In short, death in America has become a commodity. Our customs and traditions are dictated by industry, rather than spirituality or values. Our fear of getting old and dying prevents us from talking about it, so we perpetuate the same customs — customs designed specifically for profit.

Say you don’t want to spend eternity in a cemetery, in a mahogany coffin, with wire holding your mouth closed. What do you do?

“My new thing is promoting micro-conversations,” Jorgenson told me. “Instead of this ‘I want to sit down and talk about my final arrangements’ and all of a sudden it’s this huge conversation. It’s more saying ‘you know what — I think I want to be cremated,’ and that’s it.”

Jorgenson, along with Doughty, is one of the founding members of The Order of the Good Death. The group promotes books, holds events and cultivates online communities designed to open up a dialogue about death and our relationship with it.

What Iceland’s landmark carbon removal project means for the fight against climate change

When the world’s biggest facility for sucking carbon dioxide out of the air and burying it underground opened in rural Iceland last week, it may have sounded like a miracle cure for climate change had finally arrived.

But while the first commercial carbon removal and sequestration factory represents a breakthrough in the goal of achieving net-zero global emissions by midcentury — as well as a beacon for eventually removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere — the technology steve madden shoes won’t be economically viable on a wide scale for some time. Crucially, scientists say, it will prevent catastrophic climate change only if it is used in addition to, rather than instead of, massive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and other technologies that are cheaper.

“It’s a baby step, but it’s a baby step that will be remembered if the industry ever develops into a mature industry,” David Morrow, the director of research for the Institute for Carbon Removal Law and Policy at American University, told Yahoo News.

The Hellisheidi geothermal power plant in Hellisheidi, Iceland, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. Startups Climeworks AG and Carbfix are working together to store carbon dioxide removed from the air deep underground to reverse some of the damage CO2 emissions are doing to the planet.
The Hellisheidi geothermal power plant in Iceland. 

First, it’s important to understand what carbon removal is for, and how it differs from the older and more widely deployed technology of carbon capture. Carbon capture occurs when emissions are captured at the source — a coal-fired power plant’s smokestack, for example. The CO2 can then be either reused for something else or, if the goal is fighting climate change, stored underground. There are already natural gas processing plants in Wyoming and Texas, for example, that capture millions of tons of carbon dioxide annually and inject the gas into oil fields to force the oil toward wells. (The net result of that process is lower emissions, but not low enough to reach the targets that the Intergovernmental ecco shoes Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, says are needed.)

The new plant in Iceland, on the other hand, performs the more challenging task of finding carbon in the atmosphere and removing it.

So far, though, the Icelandic plant is on pace to remove only 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. For comparison, the United States’ net emissions in 2019 were 5.8 billion metric tons. And while Climeworks, the Swiss company that built the factory, is selling credits to companies such as Microsoft that want to go carbon-neutral, it currently costs the plant $600 to $800 per ton of carbon removed from the atmosphere — more than 10 times what carbon offsets trade for on the market.

Carbon removal is a very energy-intensive process. In Iceland, abundant geothermal energy is cheap and clean, but in the U.S., which still burns fossil fuels to generate electricity and heat, the carbon footprint of removing carbon currently could be as much as one-quarter of the carbon removed.

The 'Orca' direct air capture and storage facility, operated by Climeworks AG, in Hellisheidi, Iceland, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. (Arnaldur Halldorsson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
The ‘Orca’ direct air capture and storage facility, operated by Climeworks AG, in Hellisheidi, Iceland, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. 

But experts say that doesn’t mean carbon removal won’t be viable by the time it’s relevant. “It’s hard to extrapolate from this very early plant to what the technology might look like 10, 20, 30 years from now,” Morrow said.

That is when carbon removal may really be needed. According to the IPCC, staying below 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming — the level that scientists say would begin a cascade of catastrophes — requires reaching net-zero emissions by midcentury. nike sneakers Carbon can be removed from the air through natural means, like planting trees, but at this point the science increasingly suggests there will also be a need for projects that perform “direct air capture” of carbon, such as the one in Iceland.

Currently, the money that would be spent on sucking carbon from the air using fossil fuel sources of energy would deliver greater environmental benefit if it was spent on replacing those fossil fuels with solar or wind energy, electrifying cars and so on.

Once a transition to renewable sources of energy is undertaken, getting from a low-carbon economy to a net-zero or even net-negative emissions economy is where carbon removal comes in. It could compensate for sources of climate pollution that are the hardest to eliminate, such as agriculture or airplanes, and even reverse the total amount of carbon in the atmosphere, so that if the world blows past 1.5 degrees Celsius, it could eventually get back under it.

Wind turbines at the San Gorgonio Pass wind farm in Whitewater, California on June 3, 2021. (Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Wind turbines at the San Gorgonio Pass wind farm in Whitewater, California on June 3, 2021. 

“Are negative emissions important? Absolutely. It’s almost going to be impossible to get to absolute zero [emissions], that’s why people talk about net zero,” said Howard J. Herzog, a senior research engineer at the MIT Energy Initiative. But, he cautioned, “negative emissions are not a substitute for reducing emissions. [We] have to reduce emissions as much as we can.”

There are already promising signs of prices coming down and the amount of carbon that can be removed by one plant going up, scientists say.

Climate scientists say that, while the world decarbonizes, the price and energy efficiency of carbon removal could improve dramatically. Climeworks units that extract carbon are being built one at a time. “If you imagine a car company trying to build their cars by hand, each one is going to be very expensive, nike store but their goal is to mass-produce these things,” said Morrow.

“What you see in a new technology is, they’re not terribly efficient, but you have the potential to get 20 times more efficient before you run into the laws of physics,” said Klaus Lackner, director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions. “In a way, direct air capture is much better positioned than renewable energy was in the ’60s and ’70s. [Wind and solar] were 100 times too expensive, and they came down the learning curve and did it. Direct air capture is 10 times too expensive.”

Ultimately, the deployment of these technologies will depend on politics as much as science. Carbon capture and storage at the source of emissions is cheaper than carbon removal from the atmosphere. The reason the former hasn’t been adopted on every coal-fired or gas-fired power plant is political: As long as it’s free to dump your carbon pollution into the air, that’s what utilities will do.

“You need a regulatory framework that says you must not dump CO2 in the atmosphere,” said Lackner. “If you don’t have that, of course it’s always cheaper to ignore the problem.”

A New Breed of Crisis: War and Warming Collide in Afghanistan

Somalian refugees displaced by drought wait for rations in Dadaab, Kenya, July 14, 2011. (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times)
Somalian refugees displaced by drought wait for rations in Dadaab, Kenya, July 14, 2011.

Parts of Afghanistan have warmed twice as much as the global average. Spring rains have declined, most worryingly in some of the country’s most important farmland. Droughts are more frequent in vast swaths of the country, including a punishing dry spell now in the north and west, the second in three years.

Afghanistan embodies a new breed of international crisis, where the hazards of war collide with the hazards of climate change, creating a nightmarish feedback loop that punishes some of the world’s most vulnerable people and destroys their countries’ ability to cope.

And although it would be facile to attribute the conflict in Afghanistan to climate change, the impacts of warming act as what military analysts call threat multipliers, amplifying conflicts over water, putting people out of work in a nation steve madden shoes whose people largely live off agriculture, while the conflict itself consumes attention and resources.

“The war has exacerbated climate change impacts. For 10 years, over 50% of the national budget goes to the war,” said Noor Ahmad Akhundzadah, a professor of hydrology at Kabul University, said by phone Thursday. “Now there is no government, and the future is unclear. Our current situation today is completely hopeless.”

A third of all Afghans face what the United Nations calls crisis levels of food insecurity. Because of the fighting, many people haven’t been able to plant their crops in time. Because of the drought, the harvest this year is certain to be poor. The World Food Program says 40% of crops are lost, the price of wheat has gone up by 25%, and the aid agency’s own food stock is due to run out by the end of September.

Afghanistan is not the only country to face such compounding misery. Of the world’s 25 nations most vulnerable to climate change, more than a dozen are impacted by conflict or civil unrest, according to an index developed by the University of Notre Dame.

In Somalia, pummeled by decades of conflict, there has been a threefold increase in extreme weather events since 1990, compared with the previous 20-year period, making it all but impossible for ordinary people to recover after each shock. In 2020, more than 1 million Somalis were displaced from their homes, about a third because of drought, according to the United Nations.

In Syria, a prolonged drought, made more likely by human-made climate change, according to researchers, drove people out of the countryside and fed simmering anti-government grievances that led to an uprising in 2011 and, ultimately, a full-blown civil war. This year again, drought looms over Syria, particularly its breadbasket region, the northeastern Hassakeh province.

In Mali, a violent insurgency has made it harder for farmers and herders to deal with a succession of droughts and flood, according to aid agencies.

Climate change cannot be blamed for any single war, and certainly not the one in Afghanistan. But rising temperatures, and the weather shocks that come with it, act as what Marshall Burke, a Stanford University professor, calls “a finger on the scale that makes underlying conflict worse.” ecco shoes That is particularly true, he argued, in places that have undergone a long conflict and where government institutions have all but dissolved.

“None of this means that climate is the only or the most important factor in conflict,” said Burke, co-author of a 2013 paper looking at the role of climate change in dozens of conflicts across many years. “But based on this evidence, the international community would be foolish to ignore the threat that a warming climate represents.”

The combination of war and warming compounds the risks facing some of the world’s most vulnerable people: According to the U.N. children’s agency, Afghanistan is the 15th-riskiest country in the world for children, because of climate hazards, including heat and drought, and a lack of essential services, including health care. Two million Afghan children are malnourished.

That is in sharp contrast to Afghanistan’s part in global warming. An average Afghan produces 0.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, compared with nearly 16 metric tons of the average American.

The collapse of the government has also made Afghanistan’s participation in the next international climate talks entirely uncertain, said one of its members, Ahmad Samim Hoshmand. “Now I don’t know. I’m not part of any government. What government I should represent?” he said.

Until recently, he had been the government official in charge of enforcing the country’s ban on ozone-depleting substances, including refrigerants used in old air-conditioners and that are banned by the Montreal Protocol, an international agreement that Afghanistan had ratified. Just days before the Taliban seized Kabul, he fled to Tajikistan. The traders of illegal substances whom he helped arrest are now out of prison, keen to exact revenge. He says they will kill him if he returns.

Hoshmand is now scrambling to emigrate elsewhere. His visa in Tajikistan expires in a matter of weeks. “My only hope is the ozone community, the Montreal Protocol community, if they can support me,” he said.

Afghanistan’s geography is a study of extreme hazard, from the glacier-peaked Hindu Kush mountains in the north to its melon farms in the west to the arid south, stung by dust storms.

Climate data is sparse for Afghanistan. But a recent analysis based on what little data exists suggests that a decline in spring rains has already afflicted much of the country, but most acutely in the country’s north, where farmers and herders rely almost entirely on the rains to grow crops and water their flocks.

Over the past 60 years, average temperatures have risen sharply, by 1.8 degrees Celsius since 1950 in the country as a whole and by more than 2 degrees Celsius in the south.

“Climate change will make it extremely challenging to maintain — let alone increase — any economic and development gains achieved so far in Afghanistan,” the United Nations warned in a 2016 report. “Increasingly frequent and severe droughts and floods, accelerated desertification, and decreasing water flows in the country’s glacier-dependent rivers will all directly affect rural livelihoods — and therefore the national economy and the country’s ability to feed itself.”

This is the country’s biggest risk, Akhundzadah argued. Three-fourths of his compatriots work in agriculture, and any unpredictable weather can be calamitous, all the more so in a country where there hasn’t been a stable government and no safety net to speak of.

The Taliban, for their part, appear more exercised by the need to scrub women’s pictures from billboards than addressing climate hazards.

But climate change is a threat multiplier for the Taliban, too. Analysts say water management will be critical to its legitimacy with Afghan citizens, and it is likely to be one of the most important issues in the Taliban’s relations with its neighbors as well.

Already on the Afghan battlefield, as in many battlefields throughout history, water has been an important currency. The Taliban, in their bid for Herat, a strategic city in the west, repeatedly attacked a dam that is critical for drinking water, agriculture and nike sneakers electricity for the people of the region. Likewise, in Kandahar province in the south, one of the Taliban’s most critical victories was to seize control of a dam that holds water for drinking and irrigation.

Climate change also stands to complicate the Taliban’s ability to fulfill a key promise: the elimination of opium poppy cultivation. Poppies require far less water than, say, wheat or melons, and they are far more profitable. Poppy farming employs an estimated 120,000 Afghans and brings in an estimated $300 million to $400 million a year, according to the United Nations, and has, in turn, enriched the Taliban.

Areas under poppy cultivation grew sharply in 2020.

Analysts said the Taliban would seek to use a poppy ban to gain legitimacy from foreign powers, such as Qatar and China. But it is likely to face pushback from growers who have few alternatives as the rains become less reliable.

“It’s going to be a gigantic political flashpoint,” said Vanda Felbab-Brown, who studies the region at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

The last drought, in 2018, left 4 million Afghans in need of food aid and forced 371,000 people to leave their homes, many of whom haven’t returned.

“The effects of the severe drought are compounded by conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic in a context where half the population were already in need of aid,” U.N. humanitarian coordinator Ramiz Alakbarov said by email from Kabul on Thursday. “With little financial reserves, people are forced to resort to child labor, child marriage, risky irregular migration exposing them to trafficking and other protection risks. Many are taking on catastrophic levels of debt and selling their assets.”

Akhundzadah, a father of four, is hoping to emigrate, too. But like his fellow academics, he said he has not worked for foreign governments and has no way to be evacuated from the country. The university is closed. Banks are closed. He is looking for research jobs abroad. For now, there are no commercial flights out of the country.

“Till now, I’m OK,” he said on the phone. “The future is unclear. It will be difficult to live here.”

Amazon’s 4th of July sale is spectacular — shop these deals before they sell out

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Something to celebrate: Amazon just dropped a jaw-dropping array of 4th of July deals! (Photo: Getty Images)
Something to celebrate: Amazon just dropped a jaw-dropping array of 4th of July deals! 

We hold this truth to be self-evident: When it comes to stellar holiday-weekend deals, Amazon rules.

Prime Day might be in the rearview mirror, but never fear. Amazon is having a massive sale to mark the 4th of July, with discounts as deep as those we enjoyed during “Prime Time” last month. We’re talking incredible deals on TVs and tech, amazing markdowns on kitchen items and golden goose sneakers fabulous fashion finds (new vacation wardrobe, anyone?).

Of course, with Amazon Prime you’ll get so much more — access to new movies and TV shows, discounts at Whole Foods, exclusive sales and two-day shipping on many, many items. Not yet a member? Let’s fix that: Sign up for a free 30-day trial here. (And by the way, those without Prime still get free shipping on orders of $25 or more.)

Score some steals before they disappear — then get outside for fun in the sun.

Best TV sales

Improve the view: Sony's got the 4K TV of your dreams, at a fantastic July 4th discount. (Photo: Amazon)
Improve the view: Sony’s got the 4K TV of your dreams, at a fantastic July 4th discount.

This Sony X80J 65-inch 4K Ultra HD LED Smart Google TV is the latest from a manufacturer that’s long been at the forefront of top-notch home video. No shocker, then, that the display on this set is dazzlingly vivid and detailed. Originally $1,000, this beauty is available for only $898 for the 4th of July weekend!

Sony’s state-of-the-art Processor X1 is the power behind its true-to-life visuals, while HDR skechers outlet(High Dynamic Range) settings make sure colors stay bright and black levels are dark. Get ready: It’s going to feel like you’re sitting in the middle of all the action.

This 4K TV includes Google TV with instant access to hundreds of popular streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Peacock and much, much more. It even has built-in Chromecast for slinging videos and music from your phone or tablet to the TV. Also: The remote has a microphone that lets you use Google Assistant for voice search and hands-free navigation. Shoppers are smitten.

“In one word: Awesome. This is the best TV I’ve seen, for an incredible price and considering its features, it’s a steal,” raved a five-star reviewer. “It can be adjusted to give you absolute black even in a dark room; 4K and HDR are amazing…”

James Corden to change to ‘Spill Your Guts’ segment on ‘The Late Late Show’ amid backlash

James Corden says changes will be made to The Late Late Show‘s “Spill Your Guts” segment.

For several years viewers have called out the CBS late-night host for the bit — in which celebrities must answer personal questions or eat “disgusting foods,” per the show’s own description. The criticism is that traditionally Asian foods are being mocked, and it’s offensive. A Change.org petition started by Kim Saira three weeks ago blew up the issue, leading Corden to address the controversy and promise change. However, Saira is “really disappointed” in how Corden addressed the issue, citing his lack of an apology.

“We heard [about the backlash] and the next time we do that bit we absolutely won’t use any of those foods,” the British TV personality said on The Howard Stern Show. “Our show is a show about joy and light and love. We don’t want to make a show that will upset anybody.”

Of the criticism, he said, “We completely understand.” And while, “I don’t know when we’re going to do that bit again,” he said, “When we do we absolutely won’t use any foods [that offend].”

He added, “It’s not for us to determine [why] somebody’s upset or hurt about something. skechers outlet That’s not for us to decide. All we can do is go: Alright, we get it. We hear you. We won’t do that.”

Corden’s response came after Stern criticized the backlash. The shock jock also urged Corden not to give up the bit.

“It couldn’t be a more harmless bit” featuring “bizarre food,” Stern said. Then, “Outta the blue, I guess some group of people are offended by this because you are serving foods that are popular in their culture — which I don’t know where culture this is, but what the f**k. Who the hell is eating this sh** — like 3,000-year-old eggs and all this horrible stuff.”

Saira, whose petition has 45,500 signatures and counting as of Monday afternoon, isn’t applauding how Corden has handled the controversy.

The Late Late Show did not reach out to me about this statement,” Saira tells Yahoo Entertainment. “After listening to what he said, to be completely honest with you, I’m really disappointed in this statement, which in my opinion, isn’t an apology.”

Saira continued, “In my petition, I specifically asked for [Corden] to publicly apologize on his show, and the reason why I was really specific about that was because I think that it is imperative for his hundreds of thousands of viewers to understand the harm that mocking these foods, rooted in Asian cultures, has on Asian people who still eat them. Besides that, I still think he should be donating to Asian organizations as well.”

While Saira is “still looking forward to whether he will address this publicly and apologize,” if it doesn’t happen, “I’ll take it upon myself and the Asian American communities and people who have helped me with this event, to create our own fundraiser to benefit Asian American organizations, since the Late Late Show has just ignored and refused it.”

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 11: Kendall Jenner plays Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts with James Corden during
For several years now, people have been calling on Corden to end or change the segment, including in Reddit threads dating back to 2016. In 2018, Andrew Sun wrote a piece for Inkstone News called “James Corden, stop dissing golden goose sneakers Asian food for laughs”, noting how “ingredients that Asians consider prized and expensive delicacies” were being mocked. Sun asked, “I want to know which white, European epicurean arbiter decided that fattened duck or goose liver, which sounds better using its French name, foie gras, is gourmet and luxurious, but chicken gizzard and duck tongues are uncivilized and gruesome?”

Saira is the one who escalated it, first in a TikTok video that went viral with 2.8 million views. It showed guest Jimmy Kimmel participating in the segment and the men talking about how “terrible,” “horrific” and “really disgusting” the traditionally Asian foods like a thousand-year-old egg, pig blood curd and balut were.

That was followed by the petition, which noted: “The foods that are presented are meant to be ‘gross,’ as they are supposed to encourage the guest to answer his questions instead. However, many of the foods that he presents to his guests are actually from different Asian cultures. He’s presented foods such as balut, century old eggs and chicken feet, and which are often regularly eaten by Asian people.”

It noted, “During these segments, [Corden] openly called these foods ‘really disgusting,’ and ‘horrific.’ In the wake of the constant Asian hate crimes that have continuously been occurring, not only is this segment incredibly culturally offensive and insensitive, but it also encourages anti-Asian racism. So many Asian Americans are consistently bullied and mocked for their native foods, and this segment amplifies and encourages it.”

The petition called for the segment to be removed or revamped in a non-offensive way, a formal apology on the show and a donation to local ecco shoes Asian American organizations that are working to help Asian-owned restaurants and small businesses.

The show segment has featured a number of big-name stars, including Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber, Harry Styles, Jimmy Kimmel, Demi Moore and Anna Wintour. Corden told Stern that if they do it again, not giving a date as to when it would be, the food choices will be more like was offered to the Vogue editrix, who was offered a cheeseburger with bacon in a donut, bacon-wrapped pizza and deep-fried butter.

Climate Change Batters the West Before Summer Even Begins

A heat dome is baking Arizona and Nevada, where temperatures have soared past 115 degrees this brooks shoes week and doctors are warning that people can get third-degree burns from the sizzling asphalt.

At Lake Mead, which supplies water for 25 million people in three southwestern states and Mexico, water levels have plunged to their lowest point since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. In California, farmers are abandoning their thirstiest crops to save others, and communities are debating whether to ration tap water.

In Texas, electricity grids are under strain as residents crank their air-conditioners, with utilities begging customers to turn off appliances to help avert blackouts. In Arizona, Montana and Utah, wildfires are blazing.

And it’s not even summer yet.

“We’re still a long way out from the peak of the wildfire season and the peak of the dry season,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “Things are likely to get worse before they get better.”

Global warming, driven by the burning skechers shoes of fossil fuels, has been heating up and drying out the American West for years. Now the region is broiling under a combination of a drought that is the worst in two decades and a record-breaking heat wave.

“The Southwest is getting hammered by climate change harder than almost any other part of the country, apart from perhaps coastal cities,” said Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist at the University of Michigan. “And as bad as it might seem today, this is about as good as it’s going to get if we don’t get global warming under control.”

With temperatures expected to keep rising as nations struggle to rein in their planet-warming emissions, the Western United States will need to take difficult and costly measures to adapt. That includes redesigning cities to endure punishing heat, conserving water and engineering grids that don’t fail during extreme weather.

This month has offered glimpses of whether states and cities are up to that task and has shown they still have far to go.

From Montana to Southern California, much of the West is suffering from unusually high temperatures. Some 50 million Americans face heat-related warnings. Records have been tied or broken in places like Palm Springs, California, Salt Lake City and Billings, Montana.

As 115-degree temperatures cooked Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row Arts District on Tuesday, Timothy Medina, 58, was perched on a black metal platform 12 feet above hey dude the sidewalk, finishing the blue lettering of a sign for a coffee shop. “It’s brutal — that heat against the wall,” he said. “Let me take a quick swig of water.”

Construction workers, landscapers and outdoor painters like Medina have few options but to bear the heat. He wore jeans to avoid burning his skin, along with a long sleeve fluorescent yellow shirt and a $2 woven hat. But soon the heat was winning.

“I start feeling out of breath, fatigued,” he said.

Extreme heat is the clearest signal of global warming, and the most deadly. Last year, heat killed at least 323 people in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, a record by far.

Outdoor workers are particularly at risk, along with older people and anyone without adequate shelter or access to air conditioning.

Across the country, heat waves are becoming more frequent, lasting longer and occurring earlier in the year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Severe heat early in the spring can be especially dangerous because it catches people off guard, experts say.

Cities like Phoenix are struggling to keep up. While the city runs air-conditioned cooling centers, many were shut down last year amid the pandemic. And ensuring that the centers are accessible to everyone is a challenge.

Kayla and Richard Contreras, who sleep in a skechers outlet blue tent on a baking sidewalk in a homeless encampment near downtown Phoenix, said the cooling centers were not an option because they have a dog and they worried about leaving their belongings unattended in their tent.

They said they knew 10 homeless people who died in the heat last year.

Richard Contreras, 47, fills water bottles from the spigots of homes he walks by. Kayla Contreras, 56, said she saves food stamps to buy ice pops on the hottest days. “This is what keeps us alive,” she said, as she handed an orange pop to a friend. “I feel like I’m in hell.”

Sundown brings no relief. In Las Vegas, where the National Hockey League playoffs are taking place, forecasters expected the mercury to push past 100 degrees when the puck dropped Wednesday evening.

Last month, the Phoenix City Council approved $2.8 million in new climate spending, including creating a four-person Office of Heat Response and Mitigation.

“That’s a good start, but we’re clearly not doing enough yet,” said David Hondula, an Arizona State University scientist who studies heat’s consequences. Drastically reducing heat deaths would require adding trees and shade in underserved neighborhoods and increasing funding to help residents who need help with energy bills or who lack air conditioning, among other things, he said.

“Every one of these heat deaths should be preventable,” he said. “But it’s not just an engineering problem. It means tackling tough issues like poverty or homelessness. And the numbers suggest we’re moving in the wrong direction. Right now, heat deaths are increasing faster than population growth and aging.”

Severe heat waves also pose a challenge for power grids, particularly if operators don’t plan for them. Rising temperatures can reduce the efficiency of fossil-fuel generators, transmission lines and even solar panels at precisely the moment that demand soars.

This week, the Texas power grid was stretched near its limit as electricity demand set a June record just as several power plants were offline for repairs. golden goose sneakers Grid operators asked Texans to keep their thermostats at 78 degrees to conserve power.

Victor Puente, 47, stood Tuesday under the shade of the porch on his blue wooden home in Pueblo de Palmas, outside the border city of McAllen, Texas. He said he tries to shut off his air conditioner during the day to conserve energy, so that it might be available for sleeping.

“The last thing we need is to lose electricity for long stretches,” he said.

In California, where temperatures have hit 110 degrees, the grid operator has warned it may face challenges this summer, in part because droughts have reduced the capacity of the state’s hydroelectric dams.

Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, noted that strains on the grid illustrate the nonlinear effects of climate change. “Most people might not notice that it’s getting a bit hotter each year,” he said. “But then the temperature reaches a certain threshold and all of the sudden the grid goes down. There are a whole bunch of these thresholds built into our infrastructure.”

This spring, the American West has been ecco shoes in the grips of a severe drought that has been more widespread than at any point in at least 20 years, stretching from the Pacific Coast, across the Great Basin and desert Southwest, and up through the Rockies to the Northern Plains.

Droughts have long been a feature of the West. But global warming is making things worse, with rising temperatures drying out soils and depleting mountain snowpack that normally supply water during the spring and summer. Those parched soils, in turn, are amplifying this week’s heat wave, creating a blast more severe than it otherwise would be.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” said Swain of UCLA.

Dry conditions also suggest a potentially devastating fire season, coming a year after California, Oregon and Colorado saw unusually destructive blazes.

The drought has strained water supplies throughout the West, shriveling reservoirs. In one California lake, the water became so shallow that officials identified the wreckage of a plane that had crashed into the lake in 1986.

The Inverness Public Utility District in Marin County, California, will vote next week on whether to impose rationing for 1,100 customers, assigning each household a set amount of water. It would be a first for the town, which this past July asked residents to stop washing cars and filling swimming pools.

The drought has forced farmers to take drastic measures. Sheep and cattle ranchers are selling this year’s stock months early, and some dairy farmers are selling their cows rather than come up with the 50 gallons of water each animal needs per day. Farmers are planting fractions of their usual amount, or leaving part of their land fallow.

“We’ve been through droughts. This is one of the driest we can remember,” said Dan Errotabere, 66, whose family has grown fruits, vegetables and nuts near Fresno, California, for a century. He is keeping 1,800 acres fallow and cut back on garlic and tomatoes to divert water to almond and pistachio trees.

The effect on farms could cause supply issues and higher prices nationwide, said Mike Wade, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition. California produces two-thirds of the country’s fruit and one-third of its vegetables.

Many California farmers are already using micro-irrigation, drip hoses and other water conservation methods. “We’ve stretched every drop,” said Bill Diedrich, a fourth-generation farmer in Fresno County.

Agricultural communities are in peril if the crops and trees die without water.

“When you are operating a long-standing family farm, you don’t want to be the one to lose it,” said Eric Bream, the third generation in his family to hey dude shoes run a citrus farm in California’s Central Valley. Today he still has enough water. But “tomorrow everything could change on a dime.”

Elsewhere in the West, states are bracing for the prospect of further cutbacks.

Lake Mead, which was created when the Hoover Dam was finished in 1935, is at 36% capacity, as flows from the Colorado River have declined more quickly than expected. The federal government is expected to declare a shortage this summer, which would trigger a cut of about one-fifth of water deliveries to Arizona, and a much smaller reduction for Nevada, beginning next year.

Experts have long predicted this. The Colorado Basin has suffered through years of drought coupled with ever-increasing consumption, a result of population and economic growth as well as the expansion of agriculture, by far the largest user of water in the West.

“We need to stop thinking of drought as a temporary thing to get through,” said Felicia Marcus, a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Water in the West program, noting that global warming is expected to reduce the Colorado River’s flow even further.

Many cities have been preparing. Tucson, Arizona, is among the nation’s leaders in recycling wastewater, treating more than 30 million gallons per day for irrigation or firefighting. Cities and water districts in California are investing billions in infrastructure to store water during wet years to save for droughts.

Still, experts said, there’s a lot more that can be done, and it’s likely to be costly.

“The Colorado River basin is ground zero for climate-change impacts on water supplies in the U.S.,” said Kevin Moran at the Environmental Defense Fund. “We have to plan for the river that climate scientists tell us we’re probably gong to have, not the one we want.”

US aid to Israel was always a given. Will growing support for Palestinians change that?

WASHINGTON – Although the latest conflict between Israel and Hamas brooks shoes has ended, the heated debate in Washington over $3.8 billion in military assistance to Israel may be just beginning.

A shift in Congress, with progressive Democrats expressing concerns that U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used to violate Palestinians’ rights, makes it likely that any future U.S. weapons sales to Israel will come under scrutiny.

“For decades, the U.S. has sold billions of dollars in weaponry to Israel without ever requiring them to respect basic Palestinian rights,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, skechers shoes D-N.Y., said last week after pushing to block a $735 million weapons sale to Israel. “In so doing, we have directly contributed to the death, displacement and disenfranchisement of millions.”

President Joe Biden has tried to tamp down the revolt in his own party.

“There is no shift in my commitment … to the security of Israel. Period,” Biden told reporters as the cease-fire took effect, ending Israel’s 11-day conflict with Hamas, the militant Islamic group that controls Gaza. The fighting killed at least 248 Palestinians and 12 Israelis.

Aftermath: Casualty of Israeli-Hamas fighting: The Palestinian two-state solution?

Here are key facts about U.S. aid to Israel and why it has become a flashpoint:

Why does the US support Israel’s military?

America’s military aid to Israel is unique in at least three ways – scale, lack of transparency and long-term commitment, hey dude shoes says Lauren Woods, who analyzes U.S. security assistance at the Center for International Policy, a Washington research organization.

The reason for America’s outsize commitment to Israel’s security is simple, supporters say: It is America’s closest ally in the Middle East and the only democracy in the region.

But for the first 14 years of Israel’s existence, the U.S. refused to provide any military assistance to Israel, said David Makovsky, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. That began to change in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and the U.S. dramatically ramped up military aid after Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979.

Who’s who: Key players in the Israel-Palestinian conflict

U.S. funding for Israel’s military is now a cornerstone of American foreign policy, enjoying broad bipartisan support in Congress and the White House.

The aid “advances important U.S. national security interests in a highly challenging region,” 329 House members wrote in a letter in April defending the fiscal year 2022 request for $3.8 billion in military assistance to Israel.

Biden and others note that Israel faces direct skechers outlet threats from its neighbors. Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group, rejects Israel’s right to exist, as do Iran and Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah.

“Israel’s enemies and America’s enemies have been very much the same,” Makovsky said.

The Biden administration has pledged to provide about $250 million in economic and development assistance to the Palestinians and recently announced additional aid to help with recovery in Gaza, which bore the brunt of the destruction in the conflict.

Trump reversal: Biden to reopen US consulate in Jerusalem in a bid to repair ties with Palestinians

How much aid does the U.S. give Israel?

The United States has given Israel a total of $146 billion in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding through 2020, according to the golden goose sneakers Congressional Research Service (CRS), which provides nonpartisan research to lawmakers. That makes it the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II. (Other top recipients include Egypt and Afghanistan.)

The U.S. makes 10-year security funding commitments to Israel, something it does not do for any other country, Woods says.

Under the current deal, the U.S. has agreed to give Israel about $3.8 billion in military assistance annually. The vast majority of that – $3.3 billion – flows through U.S. foreign military financing grants that Israel can use to purchase American-made weapons, services and training.

The U.S. gives Israel another $500 million each year specifically for missile defense under the agreement, which was signed in 2016 during the Obama administration. It covers fiscal year 2019 through 2028.

The deal gave Israel “unparalleled access to some of the most advanced military equipment in the world, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter,” the Obama White House boasted in 2016.

Indeed, decades of such assistance has helped “transform Israel’s armed forces into one of the most technologically sophisticated militaries in the world,” the CRS report says. “U.S. military aid also has helped Israel build its domestic defense industry, which now ranks as one of the top global exporters of arms.”

U.S. role: Biden has yet to reverse many of Trump’s pro-Israel policies he labeled ‘destructive’

UN officials, progressives cite human rights, war crimes

Ocasio-Cortez is part of a growing minority in Congress raising ecco shoes questions about whether American taxpayer money is being used to exacerbate Palestinian suffering and entrench Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

She and others say the U.S. should put conditions on the military assistance – such as freezing Israeli settlement expansion and ensuring Palestinians’ basic human rights are respected.

“Our government is directly complicit in the human rights atrocities being inflicted by the Israeli military on Palestinians, and it is our job as members of Congress to make sure that we stop funding these abuses,” Rep. Cori Bush, a St. Louis Democrat, said in joining Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Bernie Sanders and others trying to block the $735 million sale, an effort Sanders’ office confirms has stalled.

A woman holds a sign reading "Defund I$rael, Defend Palestine" at a protest outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., May 18, 2021.
A woman holds a sign reading “Defund I$rael, Defend Palestine” at a protest outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., May 18, 2021.

Woods said the U.S. does not require Israel to track where U.S. weapons go, which “makes it impossible” to determine whether they’ve been used in human rights violations or other abuses.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Hamas engaged a “clear violation” of international law in its targeting of Israeli citizens and suggested Israel may have also engaged in war crimes in hitting densely populated areas that resulted in high civilian casualties. Israeli officials have accused the U.N. of bias.

This is not the first time critics have questioned the possible misuse of U.S.-supplied military equipment to Israel. Earlier instances involved the sale of bulldozers and other equipment that may have been used to destroy Palestinians’ homes, according to the CRS report.

What’s next?

Biden recently vowed to help Israel replenish its Iron Dome missile defense system, noting it “has saved the lives of countless Israeli citizens, both Arab and Jew.”

The U.S. has already given Israel $1.6 billion for Iron Dome batteries, interceptors and production costs, according to the CRS report. But Biden’s pledge means the White House may request additional funding from Congress for interceptors that were used in the recent conflict.

President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tour the Iron Dome Battery defense system at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, in March 2013. The system was developed as a joint project by the two countries.
President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tour the Iron Dome Battery defense system at the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, in March 2013. The system was developed as a joint project by the two countries.

Biden’s secretary of state, Antony Blinken, boasted about securing an extra $250 million from Congress in 2014 after an earlier conflict between Israel and Hamas. Blinken said he won congressional approval for the money just three days after Israel’s ambassador called him late one evening at the White House.

It might not be so easy this time.

In general, the administration must notify Congress before concluding major foreign military sales. The White House can proceed with the sale – unless Congress passes legislation prohibiting or modifying the proposed deal.

During the Trump administration, lawmakers tried to block a weapons sale to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. But President Donald Trump vetoed the measures, saying they would “weaken America’s global competitiveness and damage the important relationships we share with our allies and partners.”

Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster and head of a pro-Israel advocacy group, said he expects the debate over U.S. military aid to Israel will percolate and split the party, but progressives will lose any congressional votes – by lopsided margins.

“There’s a side with a very large number of Democrats and a side with a very small number of Democrats,” Mellman said.

Ilan Goldenberg, who worked on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations at the State Department during the Obama administration, said trying to condition U.S. security aid is not likely to be an effective strategy anyway.

“We have a long history of trying to use security assistance as leverage with other countries,” he said in a briefing May 25 hosted by the Israel Policy Forum, which advocates for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“That doesn’t really work,” he said. Countries don’t walk away from their core political or security interests “for a few billion dollars.”

But Woods says there’s another reason to trim U.S. military aid to Israel: It runs contrary to America’s diplomatic goals in the region.

“The United States is providing a lot of money to rebuild Gaza right now,” she said. “On the other hand, we’re supplying weapons to destroy it.”

Duckworth, Hirono change course on Biden nominees after White House conversations on AAPI representation

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., reversed course on vowing to object to President Joe Biden’s nominees because of a lack of Asian American and Pacific Islander representation Tuesday evening after a spokesperson from her office said she had received assurances from the Biden administration.

“Senator Duckworth appreciates the Biden administration’s assurances that it will do much more to elevate AAPI voices and perspectives at the highest levels of government, including appointing an AAPI senior White House official to represent the community, secure the confirmation of AAPI appointments and advance policy proposals that are relevant and important to the community,” said Ben Garmisa, a spokesperson for Duckworth.

“Accordingly, she will not stand in the way of President Biden’s qualified nominees — which will include more AAPI leaders,” Garmisa said.

Duckworth, who is Asian American, had been joined by Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, who also had said she would vote to block nominees for lack of AAPI representation. She, too, changed her position late Tuesday.

Earlier, Duckworth and Hirono had expressed frustration that none of Biden’s 15 secretary-level Cabinet members are Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders.

“There’s no AAPI representation in the Cabinet,” Duckworth told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “There’s not a single AAPI in a Cabinet position. That’s not acceptable. That’s what I told the White House.”

“I’ve been talking to them for months, and they’re still not aggressive, so I’m not going to be voting for any nominee from the White House other than diversity nominees,” she said, “I’ll be a ‘no’ on everyone until they figure this out.”

Duckworth said she told the White House earlier Tuesday about her stance. Hirono had joined Duckworth’s call in an interview Tuesday afternoon on MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House.”