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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

UN

Afghan refugees

By Emma Farge

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations is convening an aid conference in Geneva on Monday in an effort to raise more than $600 million for Afghanistan, warning of a humanitarian crisis there following the Taliban takeover.

Even before the Taliban's seizure of Kabul last month, half the population - or 18 million people - was dependent on aid. That figure looks set to increase due to drought and shortages of cash and food, U.N. officials and aid groups warn.

An abrupt end to billions of dollars in foreign donations following the collapse of Afghanistan's Western-backed government and the ensuing victory of the Taliban has heaped more pressure on U.N. programs.

Yet U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says his organization is struggling financially: "At the present moment the U.N. is not even able to pay its salaries to its own workers," he told reporters on Friday.

The Geneva conference, due to begin on Monday afternoon, will be attended by top U.N. officials including Guterres, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, as well as dozens of government representatives including German foreign minister Heiko Maas.

About a third of the $606 million being sought would be used by the U.N. World Food Program, which found that 93 percent of the 1,600 Afghans it surveyed in August and September were not consuming sufficient foods, mostly because they could not get access to cash to pay for it.

"It's now a race against time and the snow to deliver life-saving assistance to the Afghan people who need it most," said WFP deputy regional director Anthea Webb. "We are quite literally begging and borrowing to avoid food stocks running out."

The World Health Organization, another U.N. agency that's part of the appeal, is seeking to shore up hundreds of health facilities at risk of closure after donors backed out.

(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Pravin Char)

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Wildfires in northern California

Photo by Andrea Booher / FEMA (Public domain)

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

A new report on Monday from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations group dedicated to climate science, warns that drastic and immediate effort is needed to slow climate change. Congressional Republicans are simply ignoring it.

A review of social media posts by House and Senate Republicans on Monday found zero mentions of the report or its findings. Only two lawmakers even mentioned the climate, mocking efforts to protect it.

The Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis report, the sixth assessment by the international body, relied on more than 14,000 studies. It reached the "unequivocal" conclusion that humans are inducing global warming and that it can "have profound consequences for the world's social, economic, and natural systems."

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged immediate action to limit warming in the face of a "code red for humanity."

"If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe," he predicted. "But, as today's report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses."

Several Democratic lawmakers seized on the report to urge the U.S. to take immediate action.

"Today's new @IPCC_CH report makes clear that acting on climate can't wait," tweeted Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. "Democrats promised bold climate action—and we're making it a vital part of infrastructure legislation."

"Climate action is coming, because it must," agreed Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz.

"Today's IPCC report on climate change is an urgent call to action. We must take climate action now," wrote New Mexico Rep. Melanie Stansbury, adding that in her state, "we already know this urgency—it's time to act!"

Much of New Mexico is facing a dense layer of smoke from the massive wildfires currently burning in California — which experts say are being fueled by climate change.

But congressional Republicans — most of whom deny the science that humans are causing climate change — said nothing.

The lone GOP mentions of the climate on Monday came from Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson. Both mentioned it in the context of opposing Democratic proposals to address the environment.

Hinson bashed "out of control spending by the far-left" that would fund "a civilian climate corps."

Greene warned that Democratic proposals to promote electric vehicles are really just a scheme to "enslave America to China."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.