June 30, 2014

Disappearing sea ice in Antarctica is putting emperor penguins at risk of extinction, researchers warn.

"The population is declining," says Hal Caswell, senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and an author of a new study in Nature Climate Change. "Unless something changes to stop that, the population will go into extinction."

By 2100, the entire population could decrease by one-third, with all 45 of the known emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica taking a hit. The biggest drops will happen on the coasts of the western Indian Ocean and eastern Weddell Sea, The Guardian says.

The main food source of penguins is krill, and young krill eat the algae on ice; as the ice is lost, the supply of krill drops. The researchers say that one way to help the penguins would be putting them under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. Also, "given this new research, and what we already know about global temperatures warming and the changing climate," says Andrea Kavanagh, director of global penguin conservation for the Pew Charitable Trusts, the U.S. should immediately "put a marine reserve in place so we can make sure we are not fishing in areas where the penguins need to forage for food." Catherine Garcia

3:49 p.m. ET

Congress might be able to learn a thing or two from the Utah State Legislature, where a conflict over replacing the official state fossil resulted in a creative, Cretaceous solution.

Republican state Sen. Curt Bramble appeared ready to declare war on the Allosaurus — the official Utah state fossil — last December, proposing it should be replaced by the Utahraptor. The issue first came to Bramble's attention thanks to a 10-year-old family friend and dinosaur enthusiast, Kenyon Roberts, who likewise argued the Utahrapor's case to The Salt Lake Tribune: "Its name has 'Utah' in it, and it's only found in Utah. The Allosaurus has been found in Europe, Africa, and other states. The first Allosaurus skull was found in Colorado."

Convinced, Bramble decided to write legislation to dethrone the Allosaurus. But "there are historical reasons for keeping the Allosaurus," argued Utah State Paleontologist James Kirkland, who actually discovered the Utahraptor himself around 1990 near Arches National Park. For example, Utah's Cleveland-Lloyd quarry provided researchers with 50 Allosaurus specimens, allowing paleontologists to make great strides towards understanding the Jurassic lizard.

In order to avoid conflict, Bramble went back to the drawing board and came up with a different bill — to introduce a state dinosaur, The Associated Press reports. And no, it's not the state's 83-year-old senator, Orrin Hatch. It's — yes — the mighty Utahraptor.

Utah does not have a state dinosaur at present, so the new bill avoids any potential fights in the Legislature. Other states with official dinosaurs are Wyoming (Triceratops), Iowa (Tyrannosaurus), and New Jersey (Hadrosaurus foulkii). Jeva Lange

3:15 p.m. ET

Special Counsel Robert Mueller interviewed former FBI Director James Comey last year for the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The two men discussed "a series of memos [Comey] wrote about his interactions with [President] Trump that unnerved Mr. Comey," the Times wrote.

In one of his memos, Comey claimed that President Trump suggested the FBI back off of its investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Comey was abruptly fired by Trump in May while he was leading the FBI's investigation of Russian meddling, and Flynn had been a party of interest in the FBI's probe. NBC News explained last year how Comey's memos could act as proof of obstruction of justice by the president.

Less than a month into his tenure with the Trump administration, Flynn resigned after lying about a phone call he had in December 2016 with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. He has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about that phone call. Earlier Tuesday, the Justice Department confirmed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had also been interviewed by Mueller's team. Kelly O'Meara Morales

2:54 p.m. ET

President Trump is hosting the first official White House state dinner of his presidency in April with French President Emmanuel Macron, a senior administration official confirmed to Fox News on Tuesday. While Trump has hosted a number of world leaders, and even a number of high-profile dinners, "none were official state visits with all the trappings, pomp, circumstance, and accompanying glittering state dinner," CNN writes.

Trump made history by being the first president in nearly a century to not host a state dinner in his first year in office. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said there was not one "singular reason" behind the decision. Trump, for his part, pooh-poohed state dinners on the campaign trail, The Hill reports, telling supporters that he would not throw Chinese President Xi Jinping a dinner: "I would get him a McDonald's hamburger and say we've got to get down to work," Trump suggested instead.

Trump attended France's Bastille Day in 2017, where he and Macron watched a military parade together. Trump raved afterwards: "It was one of the greatest parades I've ever seen." Jeva Lange

2:26 p.m. ET
Courtesy image

Fox News anchor Howard Kurtz's new book on the White House, Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War over the Truth, is already being compared to Michael Wolff's tell-all Fire and Fury — and now it even has the backlash to boot, CNN reports. In the book, which Politico describes as "[portraying] the news media … as excessively negative in its treatment of President Donald Trump," Kurtz alleges that New York Times political reporter Jonathan Martin bashed Trump in a phone call with an RNC staffer.

"Donald Trump is racist and a fascist, we all know it, and you are complicit," Martin reportedly said. "By supporting him you're all culpable." The staffer supposedly called Martin later, prompting "another tirade," CNN writes, citing Kurtz' book. That conversation led to an "angry phone call from then-Republican National Committee Communications Director Sean Spicer to a Times editor to complain," CNN reports.

Martin, though, says the anecdote is not true — and what's more, that it doesn't even sound believable. "Of course I didn't yell 'you're a racist and a fascist' or 'you are complicit' or 'you're all culpable' at anybody," he told CNN. "Does that sound like me? More to that point, do those sound like real life lines any human being in the news business would use?" Backing up Martin's story, Politico Playbook comments that the quote attributed to him "doesn't sound like something JMart ever would've said."

Kurtz and the book's publisher, Regency, stand by the story, saying it is supported by "sources with direct knowledge of the conversations."

Martin added to Politico: "Howie paraphrased a vague, preposterous-sounding quote to me that I told him sounded ridiculous and not the kind of thing I'd say ... I still have no idea what he or Sean Spicer are talking about.” Jeva Lange

2:22 p.m. ET

Two students were killed and 17 students were injured Tuesday after a student opened fire at Marshall County High School in Kentucky, The Associated Press reports. Twelve of the injuries were caused by gunfire, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports, while the other five were not gunshot wounds.

In a press conference, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) told reporters that two 15-year-old students died in the shooting, one at the scene and another in a hospital. Overall, 14 students were shot, including the two deceased.

The shooter, a 15-year-old male student, has not been publicly identified. He has been taken into custody and "will be charged with both murder and attempted murder," Bevin said. Watch a portion of his press conference below. Kelly O'Meara Morales

2:00 p.m. ET
David McNew/Getty Images

This November, citizens of Florida will vote on an amendment that would restore voting rights to certain felons. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the proposal — known as "Yes to 2nd Chances" — would reinstate the right to vote to convicted individuals who did not commit murder or felony sexual crimes. The amendment needed 766,220 signatures to go on the ballot in November and received nearly 800,000 signatures, AP reports.

Amendments need to earn 60 percent of the vote to become law in Florida. If the amendment were to pass, an estimated 1.5 million felons would have their voting rights restored.

Under current Florida law, felons can only get their voting rights back by petitioning Florida's Executive Clemency Board, which consists of the state's attorney general, the state's chief financial officer, the state commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, and Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Over six years, Scott has only re-granted voting rights to 2,500 felons, HuffPost reports. Kelly O'Meara Morales

1:00 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) informed the White House on Monday that his offer of $1.6 billion in border wall funding is off the table after President Trump rejected the deal last Friday during a meeting aimed at averting a government shutdown, Politico reports. "He called the White House yesterday and said it's over," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

Schumer had floated fully funding the wall in exchange for a deal to give Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients legal status, The New York Times reported, although Trump allegedly didn't think the concessions were conservative enough. "In my heart, I thought we might have a deal tonight," Schumer had claimed on the Senate floor.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) expressed doubts to Politico about what was negotiated in Schumer's meeting with Trump, which took place over cheeseburgers. The Democrats "claim that some crazy deal was made," Cotton said. "And then when we say no deal was made, they accuse Republicans and the president of reneging."

On Monday, Trump signed a bipartisan bill to fund the government through Feb. 8, and the Children's Health Insurance Program for six years. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) promised that immigration legislation will be brought to a vote by Feb. 8 if the issue has not been resolved by then. Jeva Lange

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