Nature's Nightmares
March 4, 2014
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Last year, the world celebrated the 60th anniversary of the first successful effort to reach the peak of Mt. Everest. But the celebration was tempered by activists who brought attention to the tons and tons of garbage that thousands of climbers have left over the years.

While there has always been a rule requiring climbers to pick up after themselves, it's rarely been enforced. But as this year's climbing season kicks off, Nepali authorities are vowing to crack down on litterbugs.

"We are not asking climbers to search and pick up trash left by someone else," Maddhu Sudan Burlakoti, head of the mountaineering department at the Tourism Ministry, told the AP. "We just want them to bring back what they took up."

Climbers who don't return trash after they finish their trek will be forced to forfeit a $4,000 deposit. While it won't do anything to clean up the tons of trash already burdening the slopes, authorities are hopeful that it will at least prevent the problem from getting any worse. Hayley Munguia

This just in
10:23 a.m. ET

A heat wave in India has killed more than 700 people in less than a week.

Over the past few days, 550 people have died in Andhra Pradesh, a southeastern state, alone. In the state of Telangana, another 215 people have died. Bhubaneswar, the capital of the state of Odisha, has marked a 10-year high of 45 degrees Celsius, or about 113 degrees.

Officials say the heat wave is thanks to winds bringing dry heat from Pakistan's Sindh province into India. The India Meteorological Department expects the heat wave to continue for at least another two days, and it could be a week before India gets any rain.

The heat wave is worst for the poor and homeless, as well as construction workers completing outdoor projects, CNN reports. And only a third of India's population has electricity, so turning on the air conditioning isn't an option for most people. Meghan DeMaria

Conspiracy theories
9:54 a.m. ET

On Monday night, 17-year-old reality TV star (and apparent conspiracy theorist) Kylie Jenner tweeted a typo-ridden meme about airplane condensation trails. It's worth quoting the post in full:

For the record: No, Kyle Jenner, you do not need to be afraid of "chemtrails" — the term commonly used by conspiracy theorists to refer to the condensation trails that come from planes.

Condensation trails, or "contrails," are a byproduct of airplanes — formed naturally when the warm air that comes from a plane's engine mixes with the cold temperatures of the upper atmosphere. Conspiracy theorists argue that the government is using contrails as a cover to spread chemicals across the country, with a wide array of alleged effects (most commonly, controlling the weather and making people sick).

None of this has any basis in reality, but if you'd like some reassurance, here's a document from the Environmental Protection Agency explaining why contrails "pose no threat to public health." Here's a similar document from the Air Force. If you'd rather not take a federal agency at its word, Gawker's independent weather blog The Vane is one of many sources — including scientific journals, universities, and and major media organizations — to feature a thorough, scientific debunking of the conspiracy theory. You can read it here.

The one caveat, cited by many who have investigated the conspiracy theory, including the EPA: contrails may contribute to human-induced climate change. So Kylie, if you're really worried about it, maybe cut down on all that private plane travel? Scott Meslow

2016 Watch
9:50 a.m. ET
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Joining the already overcrowded pool of Republican presidential contenders, former New York Gov. George Pataki (R) will announce his 2016 bid in New Hampshire on Thursday, Politico reports.

Pataki remains resolute despite barely scratching the surface of national polls and facing longshot odds of being one of the top 10 contenders invited to participate in the first August GOP debate. "It will be a very stiff climb up a very steep mountain, but that hasn't stopped me in the past," he said in a Monday interview with the New York Post.

The former three-term governor added that he's a Republican in the Teddy Roosevelt vein because he understands conservatism is about more than economic policy; it's also about "preserving and enhancing the outdoors," he said.  Stephanie Talmadge

9:24 a.m. ET
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In an interview Tuesday on CBS This Morning, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) defended his opposition to the renewal of the Patriot Act, which resulted in a filibuster last Wednesday.

"I'm just asking for two amendments and a simple majority vote," Paul said on the show, referring to his support for ending the NSA's bulk data collection. "I think sometimes my party gets all caught up in the Second Amendment, which is fine, but we don't protect the Fourth Amendment enough.. I think neither party ends up protecting the Fourth Amendment enough, which is the right to privacy." Paul added that with too much power, the government is subject to "systemic bias" in its surveillance.

Paul also laughed off rumors about tension between him and Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), saying that they "keep it very civil," though they are "on opposite sides" of the NSA debate. Meghan DeMaria

now available
8:27 a.m. ET

Are you "ready for Hillary?" And if you are, how far are you willing to go to show it?

Hillary Clinton's new web store for her presidential campaign includes items like the "everyday pantsuit tee," which offers to bring "a whole new meaning to casual Friday." The red shirt, which the site boasts is made in the U.S.A., features Clinton's campaign logo and a printed necklace to accompany the faux suit jacket.

If pantsuit tees aren't really your style, the web store is also offering a pillow cross-stitched with the phrase "A woman's place is in the White House," as well as a tank top featuring Clinton's campaign logo. But as entertaining as Clinton's web store is, it's hard to top the Rand Paul web store's "Don't drone me, bro" T-shirt. Meghan DeMaria

fashion you can use
8:01 a.m. ET

It's now after Memorial Day, so you can wear that linen suit to work, if you so choose. But that's not the kind of fashion advice Donna Rosato, Money's Careerist columnist, is offering for workers. "Here's a rule of thumb that you need to keep in mind," she explains in the video below: "You want to keep things covered. The more skin you show, the more likely you're going to distract people in the office." No short skirts, no showing off chest hair on men, and no flip-flops. If you didn't know any of that, or you want to be amused by a career specialist having to spell it out (and more), watch below. —Peter Weber

7:53 a.m. ET
Gokhan Sahin/Getty Images

American intelligence analysts believe the U.S. could be making better progress against ISIS if they weren't trying to prevent civilian deaths.

The New York Times reports that the U.S. has avoided targeting seven key buildings in Raqqa, Syria, that serve as ISIS headquarters. And last week, U.S. forces didn't stop ISIS from overtaking Ramadi, Iraq. American officials have admitted they avoid the large ISIS targets because the attacks could kill civilians.

The Times notes that many Iraqi commanders, and some American officers, think the U.S. is using too much judiciousness with its air power. "The international alliance is not providing enough support compared with ISIS’ capabilities on the ground in Anbar," Maj. Muhammed al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi officer in the Anbar Province, which contains Ramadi, told the Times. "We lost large territories in Anbar because of the inefficiency of the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes."

The plan is backfiring, too: ISIS militants are using civilian areas to avoid being bombed by U.S.-led airstrikes. Meghan DeMaria

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