South pole warming three times faster than rest of the world, our research shows | Kyle Clem for the Conversation

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Dramatic change in Antarctica’s interior in past three decades a result of effects from tropical variability working together with increasing greenhouse gases

Climate scientists long thought Antarctica’s interior may not be very sensitive to warming, but our research, published this week, shows a dramatic change.

Over the past 30 years, the south pole has been one of the fastest-changing places on Earth, warming more than three times more rapidly than the rest of the world.

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US starts paring back Hong Kong’s special status due to security law

AmCham currently represents over 1,200 U.S. companies doing business in Hong Kong, of which over 800 are either regional offices or headquarters.

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WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The United States began eliminating Hong Kong’s special status under US law on Monday (June 29), halting defence exports and restricting the territory’s access to high technology products as China prepares new Hong Kong security legislation.

The Commerce Department said it was suspending “preferential treatment to Hong Kong over China, including the availability of export license exceptions,” adding that further actions to eliminate Hong Kong’s privileged status were being evaluated.

“We urge Beijing to immediately reverse course and fulfil the promises it has made to the people of Hong Kong and the world,” it said.

The US moves come as the top decision-making body of China’s parliament deliberates a draft national security law for Hong Kong that pro-democracy activists fear will be used to eliminate dissent and tighten Beijing’s control.

The parliament’s standing committee has been widely expected to pass the bill into law before its current meeting ends on Tuesday.

“The Chinese Communist Party’s decision to eviscerate Hong Kong’s freedoms has forced the Trump administration to re-evaluate its policies toward the territory,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

He said effective Monday, Washington was ending exports of defence equipment to Hong Kong and would take steps to end export of dual-use technologies to the territory. Such technologies have commercial and military uses.

“The United States is forced to take this action to protect US national security. We can no longer distinguish between the export of controlled items to Hong Kong or to mainland China,” Pompeo said.

Kurt Tong, a former US consul general in Hong Kong, told Reuters the US move would not cover a large amount of US-Hong Kong trade as the territory was not a major manufacturing centre and its economy was almost entirely services.

He also noted that “‘suspend’ is different from ‘terminate’and is consistent with the conditionality implied.” China’s Washington embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last month, US President Donald Trump responded to China’s plans for the security law by saying he was initiating a process to eliminate the special economic treatment that has allowed Hong Kong to remain a global financial centre since its handover by Britain in 1997.

Trump stopped short of calling for an immediate end to privileges, but said the moves would affect the full range of US agreements with Hong Kong, from an extradition treaty to export controls on dual-use technologies and more “with few exceptions.” The US announcements come at a time of intensified US rhetoric against Beijing as Trump campaigns for re-election.

Opinion polls have shown voters increasingly embittered toward China, especially over the coronavirus, which began there.

Last week, Pompeo said Washington was imposing visa restrictions on current and former officials of China’s ruling Communist Party believed responsible for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Beijing responded on Monday by saying it would impose visa restrictions on US individuals with “egregious conduct” on Hong Kong-related issues.

Analysts say completely ending Hong Kong’s special treatment could prove self-defeating for the United States, which has benefited from the territory’s business-friendly conditions.

According to the State Department, 85,000 US citizens lived in Hong Kong in 2018 and more than 1,300 US companies operate there, including nearly every major US financial firm.

The territory is a major destination for US legal and accounting services. In 2018 the largest US bilateral trade-in-goods surplus was with Hong Kong at US$31.1 billion (S$43.3 billion).

In 2018, US$432.7 million of goods were shipped to Hong Kong under Commerce Department exceptions, mostly relating to encryption, software and technology.

Last year, the State Department approved approximately US$2.4 million worth of controlled defence articles and services to Hong Kong government authorities, of which approximately US$1.4 million worth was shipped.

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Coronavirus shuts down L.A. County beaches July 4th weekend – Los Angeles Times

“Due to rising #COVID19 cases all @CountyofLA beaches will be closing again temporarily this weekend, July 3rd through 6th. We had almost 3,000 reported cases just today,” Supervisor Janice Hahn said in a tweet. “We cannot risk having crowds at the beach this holiday weekend.”

Source: Coronavirus shuts down L.A. County beaches July 4th weekend – Los Angeles Times

With coronavirus surge, L.A. County may run out of ICU beds – Los Angeles Times – Gulp…

Half of the restaurants visited by county inspectors are not complying with the new rules, and officials have seen examples of overcrowding at public spaces. “I’ve had an explosion of new outbreaks in workplaces. One that got shut down this past weekend, it had over 115 infections. Again, very little compliance with the directives on how to operate a factory with as much safety as possible,” Ferrer said. “And we’ve had numerous examples of outbreaks happen because families are getting together with extended family members and friends to celebrate weddings, things they had postponed, and again, created higher risk, and there was transmission,” Ferrer said. Ferrer also said that, according to data by Foursquare, that the weekend after June 20, the day when bars reopened in L.A. County, 500,000 people visited nightlife spots. And the county has observed a 40% increase in coronavirus cases among younger people, between the ages of 18 and 40, in the last two weeks.

Source: With coronavirus surge, L.A. County may run out of ICU beds – Los Angeles Times

Two Friends in Texas Were Tested for Coronavirus. One Bill Was $199. The Other? $6,408. – The New York Times

The emergency room charged Mr. Harvey $199 in cash. Ms. LeBlanc, who paid with insurance, was charged $6,408. “I assumed, like an idiot, it would be cheaper to use my insurance than pay cash right there,” Ms. LeBlanc said. “This is 32 times the cost of what my friend paid for the exact same thing.” Ms. LeBlanc’s health insurer negotiated the total bill down to $1,128. The plan said she was responsible for $928 of that. During the pandemic, there has been wide variation between what providers bill for the same basic diagnostic test, with some charging $27, others $2,315. It turns out there is also significant variation in how much a test can cost two patients at the same location.

Open Thread | Anyway You Look At, It Spells TREASON — 3CHICSPOLITICO

No two ways. Well well well. I mean, someone brought into the Presidency accepting help from hostile foreign power. Someone who has been a National Security threat from the beginning. Someone who has shown, time and time again, that they have no allegiance to the United States of America. His fundamental disrespect of […]

Open Thread | Anyway You Look At, It Spells TREASON — 3CHICSPOLITICO

Afghanistan Can Be Deadly! — In Saner Thought

I know…NO SHIT Professor! There is other ways that it is deadly other than the Taleban and friendlies and IEDs…… It seems that someone put bounties of American soldiers…..and that someone was RUSSIA….. United States intelligence agents believe that Russia offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. soldiers and other coalition troops during peace talks […]

Afghanistan Can Be Deadly! — In Saner Thought