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UK’s leader warns climate change threatens world security

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UK's leader warns climate change threatens world security

UNITED NATIONS — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned world leaders Tuesday that climate change is a threat to security of all nations and sharply criticized people across the globe who say this is “green stuff from a bunch of tree-hugging, tofu-munchers and not suited to international diplomacy and international politics.”

He pointed to the 16 million people displaced by weather-related disasters each year, some becoming easy prey to violent extremists, farmers losing another wheat harvest because of drought and switching to growing opium poppies, and girls forced to drop out of school to search for water becoming prey to human traffickers. He also cited the impacts of changing sea levels and wildfires.

“Whether you like it or not, it is a matter of when, not if, your country and your people will have to deal with these security impacts of climate change,” he warned leaders at a high-level Security Council meeting on climate-related risks to international peace and security.

Chairing the meeting of the U.N.’s most powerful body during the United Kingdom’s presidency this month, Johnson urged the council to demonstrate leadership to protect global peace, security and stability.

John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, thanked European nations for stepping up to tackle climate change during the “inexcusable absence” of the United States during the previous administration.

Former President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. The world has already warmed 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit since the mid-19th century and the goal now is to prevent an additional 0.3 degrees Celsius (0.5 degrees Fahrenheit) warming from now.

Kerry said President Joe Biden knows there is “not a moment to waste” and his administration aims to put the United States on a route to cutting fossil fuel emissions in a way that is, “and I emphasize, irreversible by any president, by any demagogue in the future.”

That appeared to be one of the most explicit assurances from the Biden administration that foreign countries should go ahead and make deals with the administration on climate despite fears that Trump or one of his populist “America First” supporters will take power again in 2024.

Kerry called the climate crisis “indisputably a Security Council issue,” saying the Pentagon has described it as “a threat multiplier.” But even though climate change has been repeatedly called “an existential threat,” he said, “we honestly have yet as a world to respond with the urgency required.”

He called the U.N. climate conference that Britain is hosting in Glasgow in November “literally our last best hope to get on track and get this right.” Nations are expected at the conference to come up with more ambitious pollution cuts.

Saying he was “very happy” to see the United States back at the table, France’s President Emmanuel Macron warned that “a failure on climate would undermine efforts to prevent conflicts and consolidate peace.”

He called on U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to appoint a U.N. envoy for climate security, who would be required to report annually, saying “what is at stake is our health, our lives and the stability of our planet.”

China’s special envoy for climate change, Xie Zhenhua, echoed that “climate change has become a pressing and serious threat to the survival, development and security of humankind.”

“The country met its 2020 targets ahead of schedule,” Xie said, adding that “China now has the largest number of new energy vehicles in the world.”

China and Russia have repeatedly objected to the Security Council discussing climate change.

Xie called it “a development issue” and Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, who welcomed the U.S. return to the Paris climate agreement, said it should be discussed in other U.N. bodies.

“We agree that climate change and environmental issues can exacerbate conflict, but are they really the root cause of these conflicts?” Nebenzia asked. “There are serious doubts about this.”

Reflecting Moscow’s opposition to council involvement, Nebenzia was the only U.N. ambassador to join presidents, prime ministers, other ministers and climate envoys in speaking.

U.S. envoy Kerry countered opponents of council involvement, calling the climate threat “so massive, so multifaceted,” and warning: “We bury our heads in the sand at our own peril. It is time to start treating the climate crisis like the urgent security threat that it is.”

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta stressed the impact of climate and security on Africa, which he lamented “unfortunately will suffer the worst consequences of climate change despite being the least responsible for global greenhouse gases.”

He said the drought-stricken Horn of Africa, drying of the Lake Chad basin, shrinking of the Sahel and savannah grasslands “and worsening economic vulnerabilities have set in motion political, demographic, migratory dynamics that increase the threat of insurgency and violent extremism.”

Secretary-General Guterres said “much more needs to be done” and urged a greater focus on reaching the Paris goals, saying “we look to the major emitters to lead by example in the coming months.”’

The U.N. chief called for a dramatic increase in investments to protect countries, communities and people “from increasingly frequent and severe climate impacts,” a scaling up of early warning systems, and addressing the poverty, lack of food and displacement caused by climate disruptions that contribute to conflict.

Renowned British broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough, in a video message played just before Johnson officially opened the meeting, warned that “if we continue on our current path, we will face the collapse of everything that bring us our security” including good, water, habitable temperatures and food from the oceans.

“We have left the stable and secure climatic period that gave birth to our civilization,” he said. “There is no going back.”

But Attenborough said “if we act fast enough we can reach a new stable state” and the U.N. conference in November “may be our last opportunity to make this step change.”

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‘Fairy doors’ open hearts in California neighborhood

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'Fairy doors' open hearts in California neighborhood

A California community has bonded over a profusion of tiny, colorful wooden doors that are popping up all over.

The so-called “fairy doors” in Alameda, an island community adjacent to Oakland, have been around for years but they’ve grown in number since the pandemic.

So many of the brightly colored, diminutive portals have turned up at the bottom of trees, fences and benches that an army of volunteers has created a Facebook group to celebrate and map the phenomenon — helping fairies and human fans alike find them during self-guided walking tours.

Fred Hogenboom and his daughter are credited with launching the fairy door movement in Alameda about seven years ago, only to watch it grow.

“It’s a great phenomenon that was embraced by the whole community,” Hogenboom told SFGate.com.

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Author reveals how his brother killed his mother in new memoir

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Author reveals how his brother killed his mother in new memoir

Most memoirs are a recounting of the author’s own life and experiences. “Everything is Fine” by Vince Granata (Atria Books), out April 27, is a memoir of an entire family — and a tragedy that forever changed its members. 

Granata was an only child for the first 4 ½ years of his life. On the day his mother and father returned home from the hospital, he remembers writing “welcome home mommy” in sidewalk chalk outside their Connecticut home. His parents had arrived home with not one but three siblings in tow — triplets Christopher, Timothy and Elizabeth. It was a joyful event. But the birth of his siblings put in motion a tragedy that would take years to unfold. 

On July 24, 2014, his brother Tim, 24, attacked and killed their mother in the family home. Claudia Dinan Granata was 58. Tim suffered from schizophrenia. “I won’t take the medication, the medication destroys me, takes my mind, takes me away from God,” he ranted to his mother on the morning of the attack. He had frequently threatened suicide. 

“Tim’s demons, electric in his ill mind, convinced him that the woman who had made him peanut butter sandwiches when he was a grass-stained child was the source of his constant pain,” Granata writes. “…After he killed her, he dialed 911, sitting on our front steps, clutching a white Bible.” 

This is a memoir about a horrifying crime, but it is also a book about mental illness, and the family’s ongoing attempts to get help for Tim in a system that is hopelessly flawed. Tim was hospitalized at the Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital in February 2014. In the weeks leading up to the murder, there were numerous signs that he needed to return, but he refused to go back. 

“Eventually, I had no choice but to look at loss and pain, at all the pieces of my family’s story that I didn’t think I could ever understand,” Vince writes. “It was this process, recognizing the pieces, struggling to put them in order, that almost destroyed me. It’s also what allowed me to live again.” 

Tim was found not guilty by reason of insanity.

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These colleges require students to get vaccinated if they want to live on campus

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These colleges require students to get vaccinated if they want to live on campus

As academic institutions look toward the post-COVID-19 future of education, some are implementing strict vaccine requirements ahead of the upcoming semester as others incentivize or urge students to pick up the inoculations.

Many colleges already require students to provide proof of certain vaccines, but those have been in use for years. The three FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines are all less than a year old.

But now that vaccines are open in many places to people age 16 and up, colleges are beginning to look into how that can benefit their reopening plans.

Colleges that will require proof of vaccination for students who want to live on campus include Oakland University in Michigan, Cornell University in upstate New York, Rutgers University in New Jersey, and Brown University in Rhode Island.

“Students have an option to come to Oakland University and not stay in residence halls,” Oakland President Dr. Ora Pescovitz told Fox 2 Detroit this week. “Only 20% of our students live on campus. The other 80% are commuter students.”

The school is offering religious and medical exemptions to students who provide proof to the dean of students.

But she said more than 1,000 people signed up for vaccines within the first six hours after the school announced the new requirement.

Northeastern University in Boston is going a step further and requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for all students before the fall 2021 semester as part of its plan to return to full-time, in-person learning.

Nova Southeastern University announced last week it would require vaccinations by Aug. 1 – then backtracked after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a statewide ban on “vaccine passports,” citing concerns about individual liberty and patient privacy.

“We will continue to follow all state and federal laws as they evolve,” Nova President George L. Hanbury II said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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