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May 8, 2014

Rangers at the Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California are so concerned about poaching of the ancient trees that they are restricting access to part of the scenic highway that runs through the (legally) protected old growth giant redwoods. The poachers, who rangers say appear to be largely unemployed and/or drug addicts, don't cut down the entire tree but just carve out the burls, which can fetch hundreds or thousands of dollars. Here's what a redwood burl looks like:

(CC by: Derek Wolfgram)

And here's what a giant redwood looks like with its burl poached:

The burl poaching doesn't kill the trees, some of which have already survived 2,000 years, but it does weaken their defenses so that disease or fire could destroy them. Cruelest of all, the burl is the redwood's primary method of propagation: The burl sprouts a clone of its tree, giving it a type of immortality. This is where the tree got its formal Latin name, Sequoia simper vierens (forever-living sequoia), park interpretation supervisor Jeff Denny tells The Associated Press.

"Originally there were 2 million acres of old growth forest that spanned the coast of Northern California from Oregon to Monterey," Denny says. "Over the past 150 years, 95 percent of that original forest has been cut." Now the remaining 5 percent is threatened by people with chainsaws and all-terrain vehicles. And for what? Burls have beautiful patterns that make for great surfaces on which to put your cup of coffee (or coffee table book) or pint of beer. Peter Weber

9:25 a.m. ET

After years of delay, Twitter feuds, and technical difficulties, Kanye West has finally bestowed upon us his seventh album, The Life of Pablo. You can stream it through Tidal, buy it from his website, or just watch a couple of his Saturday Night Live performances below. Here's "Highlights":

And this is "Ultralight Beam." Enjoy. Julie Kliegman

8:07 a.m. ET
Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images

In his first full day in Mexico, Pope Francis spoke directly to the issues facing the nation Saturday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"I beg that you not underestimate the moral and antisocial challenge which the drug trade represents for Mexican society as a whole, as well as for the church," he told church leaders at a Mexico City cathedral.

The pope also delivered a speech to politicians alongside President Enrique Peña Nieto. Francis stressed the need to care about the common good, not just those who are privileged.

"Each time we seek the path of privileges or benefits for a few, to the detriment of the good of all, the life of society becomes a fertile soil for corruption, drug trade, exclusion of different cultures, violence, and also human trafficking, kidnapping, and death, bringing suffering and slowing down development," Francis said. Julie Kliegman

7:39 a.m. ET
Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images

In 2015, 3,545 civilians were killed due to war in Afghanistan, while 7,457 were injured, the United Nations said in a report released Sunday, The Associated Press reports.

That's a 4-percent decrease in deaths, but a 9-percent increase in injuries. The majority of the violence can be attributed to civilians caught in the ongoing crossfire between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Julie Kliegman

February 13, 2016
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Trump is backed into a corner in South Carolina, where he has been routinely booed by the debate audience for everything from insulting Jeb Bush to insinuating 9/11 was George W. Bush's fault. Perhaps as a result, when Ted Cruz turned his criticism on Trump, Trump came back swinging with a particular vengeance.

"You are the single biggest liar, you're probably worse than Jeb Bush," Trump said — a mighty insult in his book. Trump added that Cruz is a "nasty guy."

"This guy lied about Ben Carson…and he just continues," Trump went on.

However, Trump was met with what is becoming a familiar sound this Saturday: Boos. Watch below. Jeva Lange

February 13, 2016
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are the only Cuban-Americans on the South Carolina Republican debate stage, and things got especially heated and personal when Cruz criticized a time Rubio went on Univision to speak in Spanish about his immigration policy.

When Rubio was given the chance to respond, he snapped, "I don't know how [Cruz] knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish."

Cruz countered by shouting in Spanish at Rubio. "We can do this in Spanish, if you want," he roughly said.

Some Spanish speakers took issue with Cruz's reply, however:

Nevertheless, Rubio didn't take Cruz up on the challenge, continuing on in English — but it was a moment for the books. Watch below. Jeva Lange

February 13, 2016

Jeb Bush and Donald Trump locked horns for the second time in the South Carolina Republican debate when Trump took a swing at one of his favorite subjects of ridicule — the Bush family.

"I am sick and tired of him going after my family," Bush began in response, going on to say that, "While Donald Trump was building a reality TV show, my brother was building a security apparatus to keep us safe."

Trump interrupted, pointing out that 9/11 happened while George W. Bush was in office — and was greeted with a round of angry boos.

"He had the gall to go after my mother," Bush went on. "My mom is the strongest person I know."

But Trump, never one to cede the last word, quipped, "She should be running." Jeva Lange

February 13, 2016
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

After Jeb Bush explained his policy for going after ISIS at the GOP presidential debate in South Carolina Saturday night, Donald Trump ripped into the former Florida governor — and was met with ferocious boos from the audience. "Jeb is so wrong, Jeb is absolutely so wrong," Trump said of Bush's call to dispose of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, only to get the audience hissing.

Trump wasn't put off. "You know who that is? That's Jeb's special interest and lobby talking," he said, drawing his second round of boos.

"I only tell the truth, lobbyists," Trump replied. Jeva Lange

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