February 5, 2019

A new study forecasts the dire and irreversible consequences of climate change.

The Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment, published Monday, took five years to produce. It concludes that one-third of the Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2100, and even ambitious steps being taken to reduce rising greenhouse gas emissions won't prevent this from happening, TIME reports. If emissions continue to rise, and no steps to reverse them are taken at all, two-thirds of the glaciers could melt in the same time period.

The study also finds that by the end of the century, the temperature in this region, which is a crucial water source for much of the world, could rise by 8 degrees Fahrenheit, The New York Times reports. "Impacts on people in the region, already one of the world's most fragile and hazard-prone mountain regions, will range from worsened air pollution to an increase in extreme weather events," lead author Philippus Wester told the Times. He called the study's findings "shocking."

This comes after a previous report from the United Nations' scientific panel in October also raised alarm bells, describing significant risks posed by rising temperatures coming as soon as 2040, as The New York Times reported. In November, a Trump-administration produced National Climate Assessment found that only "decisions made today" can mitigate the consequences of climate change, which will include devastating economic fallout. President Trump rejected this conclusion, saying, "I don't believe it." Brendan Morrow

1:06 p.m.

As if we needed more evidence that the pandemic has been rough on everyone, experts say sinking U.S. birth rates point to widespread societal challenges, and could cause further complications later on.

Data from 29 states showed a 7.3 percent drop in births in December 2020, nine months after the pandemic began in the U.S., CBS News reports. Birth rates have been declining for years, and its not surprising major economic disruption would cause a dip, but preliminary numbers suggest the pandemic has led to an especially notable drop — in the wake of the Great Recession, birth rates fell by 3 percent, CBS notes.

University of Maryland sociologist Phil Cohen told CBS the "scale of this is really large," and argued the decline "means things are not going well for a lot of people."

A column by two Brookings Institution economists in The New York Times outlines some of the struggles that have people postponing or avoiding expanding their families: a weak labor market, job and income loss, school closures, and fewer social activities, to name some. The economists similarly predicted last year that "tremendous economic loss, uncertainty, and insecurity" would lead to a major baby bust. But in addition to the challenges that have caused the bust, the decline could cause issues well into the future.

With 300,000 fewer babies born this year than would otherwise be expected, the Times column says "we can expect consequential changes to our economy and society in the years to come." Notably, a smaller work force will mean "lower economic productivity and fewer workers to contribute to the tax base. It also means a lower ratio of workers to retirees, which stresses Social Security." It could also contribute to the "loneliness epidemic," and as demography professor Dowell Myers told CBS, the birth rate can be seen as a "barometer of despair."

Read more about the drop and what economists suggest should be done at The New York Times. Summer Meza

12:36 p.m.

Who's been trolling Marvel fans? It's been Paul Bettany all along.

The WandaVision star on Thursday admitted he was joking when he repeatedly hyped up a major cameo in the hit Disney+ show, as he was apparently just talking about himself.

During numerous interviews promoting the series, the Vision actor teased that he got to work with "an actor that I really admire and that I've always wanted to work with," adding that "we have these explosive scenes" together. Fans spent weeks trying to figure out who he meant and getting excited for a massive surprise cameo, with one popular guess being X-Men star Patrick Stewart.

But then the penultimate WandaVision episode last week revealed another Vision also played by Bettany, leading fans to ask if they just got pranked because the actor he was talking about was actually, well, Paul Bettany. While appearing on Good Morning America on Thursday, Bettany said that's, indeed, what happened.

"You know when you think something's gonna be funny, and you say it, and then you absolutely panic about it?" Bettany said. "Which is what I did, because fans started guessing who it might be, and they were guessing people like Benedict Cumberbatch or Patrick Stewart, and I was thinking, 'God, that's a good idea!' And they're gonna be so disappointed when they find out it's me."

Then again, could it be that it's actually this interview that's a fake-out? Michael Strahan wondered whether "you could be trolling us right now" with the admission, and when he asked Bettany if the finale truly does have a surprise cameo, he wouldn't say. But fans perhaps shouldn't get their hopes up, and when asked recently whether Bettany was joking, WandaVision director Matt Shakman told HuffPost, "I'm gonna let Paul Bettany answer that question. He dug himself this hole. He can get out of it." Brendan Morrow

10:59 a.m.

Don't bet on former President Donald Trump traveling to campaign against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — and not because of any sudden change of heart.

A new report from The Washington Post discusses the Alaska Republican's influence during President Biden's administration, as well as the fact that Trump is "vowing publicly and privately to work to oust her" as she seeks a fourth Senate term in 2022. Murkowski was one of seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, and she's reportedly "higher on his list of enemies" than other lawmakers, coming in just under Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.)

At the same time, the Post reports that while Trump "does want to spend money against" Murkowski, some "people in his circle doubt, though, that he will be as much of a potent force in the race because traveling to campaign against her would require such a long flight, which Trump generally avoids."

There's also the fact that, the Post says, Trump's advisers "recognize the complexity of winning in Alaska," which uses ranked-choice voting, though the report adds that it's likely Murkowski will face pro-Trump opposition in the race in some form.

Trump recently went after Murkowski during his first speech since leaving office at the Conservative Political Action Conference, naming her while he slammed a series of Republican "grandstanders" and called on supporters to "get rid of them all." Murkowski has defended her vote to impeach Trump, saying she couldn't "be afraid of" the political repercussions and that if Alaska voters decide that "because I did not support my party that I can no longer serve them in the United States Senate, then so be it." Brendan Morrow

9:42 a.m.

A suspect charged in the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building is speaking from jail in a new interview — and offering a unique defense positioning himself as simply a savior of baked goods.

Jacob Chansley, the Capitol riot suspect who refers to himself as the "QAnon Shaman" and was photographed during the insurrection wearing fur and horns, spoke with 60 Minutes in an interview broadcast Thursday, in which he claimed his "actions were not an attack on this country" as he faces up to 20 years in prison for them.

"I sang a song, and that's a part of shamanism," he said. "...I also stopped people from stealing and vandalizing that sacred space, the Senate, okay. I actually stopped somebody from stealing muffins out of the break room."

Chansley neglected to mention the fact that, during the deadly insurrection, he allegedly left a threatening note for former Vice President Mike Pence warning, "It's only a matter of time, justice is coming." He was charged with "knowingly entering or remaining in" a restricted building and "violent entry and disorderly conduct," and prosecutors noted he carried around "a spear, approximately 6 feet in length," during the riot. Prosecutors have also said he "incited fellow Trump supporters rioting inside the Capitol building and disobeyed police orders," The Wall Street Journal reports.

Despite this, Chansley, who said he regrets "entering that building," bemoaned the fact that former President Donald Trump never pardoned him or any of the other Capitol rioters, telling 60 Minutes this "wounded me so deeply" and "disappointed me so greatly." Still, Chansley added that even though he didn't get the pardon he wanted, he still doesn't regret his loyalty to Trump. Brendan Morrow

7:51 a.m.

Meghan Markle is calling out Buckingham Palace for allegedly spreading "falsehoods" about her and Prince Harry in the latest clip from their highly-anticipated Oprah Winfrey interview.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will open up in an interview with Winfrey airing on Sunday after they stepped back as senior members of the Royal Family last year, and in a new clip from the discussion, Meghan accuses Buckingham Palace of playing an "active role" in spreading lies about them.

"I don't know how they could expect that after all of this time, we would still just be silent if there's an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us," Meghan said. "And if that comes at the risk of losing things, there's a lot that's been lost already."

"The firm" is a term used to describe the royal family, CNN notes.

Days before this interview, Buckingham Palace announced it would investigate a report from the Times of London on allegations that Meghan bullied staffers, saying it's "clearly very concerned about" these allegations in what The Washington Post described as a "highly unusual" statement. A spokesperson for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex blasted the report as a "calculated smear campaign based on misleading and harmful misinformation," adding that the allegations coming out shortly before the interview with Winfrey was scheduled to air is "no coincidence."

Asked by CNN about the newly-released clip, Buckingham Palace said it had "no comment." Brendan Morrow

1:53 a.m.

Fifteen years ago, as Victoria Johnson read a used book she had just purchased, a photograph that had been tucked inside fell out. This was the beginning of a mystery that she finally was able to solve last month, thanks to internet sleuths.

The picture was of a Black family, and Johnson, a professor in New York City, estimated by their clothes that the shot was taken in the 1960s. She would look at the photo often, wondering who they were and if they were still living. In February, Johnson asked for help on Twitter, and the picture was retweeted thousands of times.

The great-niece of the man in the photo messaged Johnson, to let her know it was a photo of Sheldon and Margaret Sudduth and their daughters, Valerie and Sharon. The picture was taken in 1964 at their home in Topeka, and mailed to relatives in New York City. While Sheldon and Margaret have died, Valerie and Sharon are both alive and reside in Texas.

During a phone call, Valerie Sudduth told Johnson that her mother, a nurse, was a widow, and met Sheldon at church. Sudduth explained to Johnson that in the picture, she "looks so happy because she was thrilled about her new dad. Sheldon was kind, funny, and gentle. He made her feel she could handle anything she set her mind to." The photo is now on its way to Sudduth. Catherine Garcia

1:01 a.m.

An abandoned lot in southeast Atlanta is now a vibrant free food forest, where neighborhood residents can learn about healthy eating while enjoying fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

The food forest spans 7.1 acres, with 2,500 edible and medicinal plants. The land was originally used by pecan farmers, and then rezoned for townhouses. When the property entered foreclosure, the Conservation Fund bought it, and with grant money and help from other organizations, it was transformed into the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill, the nation's largest free food forest.

The forest has nut trees, fruit trees, berry bushes, vegetables, and herbs, grown in a way that mimics nature, certified arborist Michael McCord said. McCord helps manage the forest, and told CNN everything in the space is "a teachable moment, whether it be trees, trails, bees or vegetables. That's what's most important to me — that we're raising awareness about sustainability and agriculture."

The city-owned and managed forest is in the Browns Mill neighborhood, a food desert where the closest grocery store is 30 minutes away by bus and 1 in 3 residents lives below the poverty line. More than 1,000 volunteers help keep the forest up and running by planting, watering, and harvesting crops. People are asked to only take as much food as needed, to ensure no one goes without. "It's really a park for everyone," Atlanta councilwoman Carla Smith told CNN. "Every time I go, there's a community there who respects and appreciates the fresh healthy foods." Watch the video below to get a look at the forest, pre-pandemic. Catherine Garcia

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