California Heat Threatens Agriculture With Eighth Day Of Triple Digits

California’s continued triple-digit temperatures are causing farmers to struggle to stay afloat, as others deal with a strained power grid.

The West’s extreme heat, now stretching into a second week, is straining American agriculture. It’s now threatening supplies of crops and livestock.

As triple-digit temperatures sear the southwestern desert, locals are trying to stay comfortable — but farmers are trying to stay afloat.

Colorado farmer Sasha Smith was already feeling the pressure before the most recent heatwave. 

“When you’re reliant on the weather, you don’t have a choice,” Smith said. “You have to adapt. You have to change to be successful and to be able to get things out and ready to sell.”

Danny Munch is an economist with the American Farm Bureau. 

“On top of all the other inflationary pressures, operating expenses, high fertilizer prices, high fuel prices — this is just another thing on the docket that our farmers and ranchers are facing,” Munch said. “Forage quality going down means that the market weight of their animals is lower, so they’re making less money off the animals that they are selling.”

He says this heatwave will have a lasting impact down the road.

“A lot of our berries come from California, so drought, removal of those orchards or just continued heat pressures is gonna reduce the supply we have here and increase those localized prices for consumers,” Munch said.

Now it’s an immediate threat to people. A hiker, Dr. Evan Dishion, died Monday after hiking with friends and getting lost in the heat in Arizona.

His wife spoke to Newsy’s sister station in Phoenix.

“He was really thoughtful and self-reflective and intelligent, and he just wanted to help people,” Amy Dishion said. “It’s not worth it. He didn’t want to leave me and Chloe, and I don’t want other people to leave behind people that they love just to go on a hike.”

Leaders and medical workers across the West are trying to save others from the same devastation, as power grids strain to keep the air conditioning running.

On the Nevada-Arizona border, hurricane-force winds brought down 100 power poles, stranding thousands without power in the sweltering heat.

“It was so vicious that we couldn’t even see our neighbor across the street,” said Stephen Durrett, who is without power. “When the electric goes, everything goes.”

It will be days more for the hundreds still in the dark.

In southern California, it’s an eighth straight day of triple digits.

Contractor Shaun Clifton and his team are trying to manage their work outdoors.

“We take a break, and at the end of the day, we make sure the cooler is full of beer,” Clifton said.

It’s a routine many will have to get used to in the West as extreme heatwaves get more common in long-term forecasts and change many everyday things, from outdoor work and play to farming. 

“Taking a proactive approach for a lot of our water management organizations could buffer some of the issues we’re facing just with a mindset change,” Munch said.


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Chile Votes on Constitution That Would Enshrine Record Number of Rights

SANTIAGO, Chile — Voters in Chile on Sunday could transform what has long been one of Latin America’s most conservative countries into one of the world’s most left-leaning societies.

In a single ballot, Chileans will decide whether they want legal abortion; universal public health care; gender parity in government; empowered labor unions; greater autonomy for Indigenous groups; rights for animals and nature; and constitutional rights to housing, education, retirement benefits, internet access, clean air, water, sanitation and care “from birth to death.”

It is perhaps the most important vote in the 204-year history of this South American nation of 19 million — a mandatory, nationwide plebiscite on a written-from-scratch constitution that, if adopted, would be one of the world’s most expansive and transformational national charters.

legalized divorce only in 2004, would suddenly have more rights enshrined in its constitution than any other nation. If they reject it, Chile would have little to show for what had once been seen as a remarkable political revolution.

the new administration of President Gabriel Boric, a tattooed, 36-year-old former student-protest leader who took office in March, but has quickly faced plummeting approval ratings amid rising inflation and crime. The constitution would enable Mr. Boric to carry out his leftist vision, while rejection could mire his term in more political fighting about what to do next.

A year ago, most Chileans would have bet that the country would embrace the proposed constitution. There has long been widespread discontent with the current constitution, which has roots in the brutal dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 until 1990.

In 2019, nationwide protests that left 30 people dead led Chile’s political leadership to grant a referendum on the constitution. A year later, nearly four out of five Chileans voted to replace it.

banned all forms of abortion until 2017, when it legalized the procedure only in cases of rape, an unviable fetus or a threat to the mother’s life.

some of the most expansive rights for Indigenous people anywhere, according to experts.

protesting in a Pikachu costume. Seventeen seats also went to Indigenous people.

Leftists won more than two-thirds of the convention’s seats, putting them in full control of the process since a two-thirds majority was necessary to add measures.

The motley crew deciding Chile’s future drew unwanted attention at times. There was the woman who gave a speech bare-chested and the man who left his camera on while showering during a remote vote. Many voters felt that the convention was not taking the process seriously.

“The behavior of the convention members pushed people away the most,” said Patricio Fernández, a leftist writer who was a convention member.

In recent months, Chileans have been bombarded with marketing from the “apruebo” and “rechazo” campaigns, some of it misleading, including claims that the constitution would allow abortion in the ninth month of pregnancy and ban homeownership.

On Thursday night, each side held closing rallies. Hundreds of thousands of “apruebo” supporters packed downtown Santiago and watched concerts by famous Chilean music acts, from rap to Andean folk.

“I’ve already lived, but I want deep change for the children of Chile,” said María Veloso, 57, who runs a food stand.

In a wealthier part of town, in a hillside amphitheater named after the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, a much smaller crowd gathered to mark their campaign to reject the leftist text. (Mr. Neruda, ironically, was a communist.) Hundreds of people waved Chilean flags and danced to an act impersonating the flamboyant Mexican singer Juan Gabriel.

“Here in Chile, they’re defending dogs more than babies,” said Sandra Cáceres Ríos, 50, an herb seller.

Regardless of the vote’s outcome, there is more political negotiating ahead. In the case of approval, Chile’s Congress, which is ideologically split, will be tasked with figuring out how to implement many of the changes. Lawmakers could try to significantly limit the scope or impact of some policies, such as abortion or Indigenous rights, by passing laws interpreting the constitution’s language in a narrow way.

Ultimately, the real effect of many provisions would probably be determined by the courts.

If the text is rejected, Mr. Boric, Chile’s president, has said that he would like to see a new convention draft another proposed charter.

He would, in other words, like to try it all again.

Pascale Bonnefoy and Ana Lankes contributed reporting from Santiago, Chile.

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Conservationists Risk Their Lives Protecting Endangered Species

By Shelby Erdman
August 30, 2022

WildAid Founder and President Peter Knights talks about the dangers of wildlife conservation efforts following the death of Anton Mzimba.

Countless animals around the world face extinction, many from loss of habitat and many others from poachers. In fact, wildlife poaching is a serious problem. And for those trying to protect endangered species, it’s a dangerous job. 

Anton Mzimba was the head of field ranger services for South Africa’s Timbavati Private Nature Reserve near the famous Kruger National Park. He was well-respected and admired by field rangers, animal activists and government officials. Mzimba was a fierce protector of the nature reserve’s wild animals, especially the endangered rhinoceros population, and he was considered incorruptible. Corruption is a big problem among field rangers in Africa.   

“I’m defending the natural resources from those who want to loot it,” he told the Global Conservation Corps in an interview last year. “I’m protecting lives of people, lives of animals. I’m protecting the plants. So, all the creatures, I am protecting. On the other hand, I am also a soldier because the duty of a soldier is to protect the country.”  

On July 26, Mzimba was gunned down in front of his home in the fight over wildlife poaching and trafficking. His wife was also wounded in the attack. No arrests have been made but the investigation into his murder continues. 

“These are front-line troops literally facing armed assailants every day,” Peter Knights, the president and founder of nonprofit WildAid, told Newsy.  

Knights says field rangers are risking their lives to protect their countries’ natural heritage. 

“It’s a really nasty business and a lot of this goes on with corruption, but very often it also goes on with coercion. So, rangers like this will have their families threatened. They are put under all kinds of stresses. It takes tremendous courage to get up every day and go out there to protect these animals knowing you may not come home again in the evening,” Knights said. 

Mzimba knew how crucial it is to protect endangered wildlife, especially rhinos, whose horns are sought after by organized criminal networks. The current rhino poaching crisis is fueled by demand for the animal’s horn, mainly in China and Vietnam. The horn is still used in traditional Asian medicine and is seen as a symbol of wealth. In some parts of Asia, it’s believed it can cure cancer and help a range of maladies. This is false. The horn is made of keratin, like hair and fingernails. 

According to WildAid, 95% of the world’s rhino population has been lost over the past 40 years. But Knights says educational campaigns are working. “Rhino horn prices have dropped dramatically from about $65,000 a kilo down to $12,000 to $18,000,” he said.

But that’s still enough incentive for criminal gangs to go after rhinos. The gangs also use sophisticated methods of hunting and tracking rhinos, including helicopters, night vision equipment and veterinary drugs to knock them out, according to World Wildlife Fund. There were just over 23,500 black and white rhinoceros left in the world as of 2017, with 75% in South Africa, the International Union for Conservation of Nature reported. 

More than 9,300 rhinos have been killed in South Africa for their horns between 2008 and 2021. The group Stop Poaching Rhinos says 259 have been killed by poachers so far this year and 451 were killed for their horns last year.


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Cases Of West Nile Virus Rising In Some Parts Of The U.S.

Though the chances of getting infected are low, officials are trying to make the public aware of the virus and how to protect against it.

Cases of the West Nile virus are increasing in some parts of the country.

Officials in Los Angeles County have confirmed the first human cases there, while cases have also popped up in Maryland and Massachusetts.

In Arizona, there were a dozen cases of West Nile before heavy rains this summer. Now the state is reporting twice that, as rains coast-to-coast threaten to make outbreaks worse.

“If we keep experiencing more storms, more water, more accumulation of water and that water remains stagnant for around three to five days, that would be conducive to mosquito breeding, especially as we get warm temperatures,” said Johnny Dilone, Maricopa County Arizona Environmental Services community relations manager.

While the chances of a person actually getting the virus are low, it’s not a chance one should take.

Barbara Puls is still watching her brother-in-law recover from a case last year.

“Their prognosis for walking again is not very good because like his feet have sort of atrophied,” Puls said of her brother-in-law.

Mosquitoes get the virus from feeding on infected birds. Then they pass the virus on to people through bites.

Across the U.S., preventing breeding in part relies on keeping the bugs away, and spraying for them is booming.


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Snoop Dogg Launching New Animated Children’s Series

“Doggyland — Kids Songs & Nursery Rhymes” features a colorful cast of singing dog characters and will launch on YouTube and YouTube Kids.

His rap lyrics are decidedly adult, and that’s what makes Snoop Dogg’s latest venture a bit surprising.

The rapper and entertainment industry mogul is now transitioning into children’s cartoons.

He’s working on an animated series called “Doggyland — Kids Songs & Nursery Rhymes.”

The show features a colorful cast of dogs that will use song and dance to teach lessons on social and emotional skills.

According to a press release, the series will include lessons on topics like letters, numbers, animals and building good habits at a young age.

The show is aimed at kids and toddlers from 2 to 8 years old and will air on YouTube and YouTube Kids.


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Surging Demand For Bug Spraying Is Hurting Other Animals

Experts are warning about the harm that spraying yards for bugs can bring to the ecosystem.

They are the bane of summertime existence: mosquitoes, eager to bite anytime.

Not only are they an itchy nuisance — they carry diseases.

In 2020, the CDC reported “dramatic” increases in illnesses spread by mosquitoes and other blood feeders. Scientists are finding malaria and dengue emerging in previously unaffected areas.

Climate change has extended the mosquito season in some areas, and that’s factoring into a surging demand for professional yard spraying.

But there’s a potential downside to yard-wide treatments.

According to the journal Biological Conservation, more than 40% of insect species worldwide are threatened with extinction. That includes pollinator bees and butterflies. 

“If you’re using a toxic chemical that’s toxic to certain types of species like insects, you might expect to see some collateral damage,” said John Meeker, an environmental health sciences professor at University of Michigan.

There’s also been a decrease of predators. Three billion North American birds have been lost in recent decades, mostly consisting of insect eaters.

Some companies are offering natural alternatives for mosquito control, like water mixed with essential oils from plants like lemongrass, garlic and peppermint.

“One of our dogs likes to eat wood chips from the landscaping,” said Marty Marino, who is trying natural mosquito repellents. “I haven’t figured out how to stop that yet, but if he’s going to do that and there’s the synthetic insecticide on it, that’s a great concern.” 

Experts say homeowners can also avoid the unwanted effects of chemicals by using simpler solutions, like emptying stagnant water sources and using electric fans to keep the pests away.


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Rescue Me: Pets, Adoption And The Challenges Shelters Face

By Newsy Staff
August 17, 2022

The pets waiting for adoption in shelters across the U.S. face unique challenges.

Across the country, dogs and cats are waiting for a new chance at life. Rescue Me: Tails of Hope sheds light on the new challenges animals in shelters face.


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Monkeypox Can Spread To Pet Dogs, Doctors Report

By Associated Press
August 17, 2022

Pets that come in close contact with a symptomatic person should be kept at home and away from other animals and people for 21 days.

Health officials are warning people who are infected with monkeypox to stay away from household pets, since the animals could be at risk of catching the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for months has had the advice in place as monkeypox spreads in the U.S. But it gained new attention after a report from France, published last week in the medical journal Lancet, about an Italian greyhound that caught the virus.

The dog belongs to a couple who said they sleep alongside the animal. The two men were infected with monkeypox after having sex with other partners and wound up with lesions and other symptoms. The greyhound later developed lesions and was diagnosed with the virus.

Monkeypox infections have been detected in rodents and other wild animals, which can spread the virus to humans. But the authors called it the first report of monkeypox infection in a domesticated animal like a dog or cat.

Pets that come in close contact with a symptomatic person should be kept at home and away from other animals and people for 21 days after the most recent contact, the CDC advises.

 Additional reporting by The Associated Press.


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