Fire in Georgia wildlife refuge could take months to fight: U.S. officials

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<span class="articleLocation”>A wildfire that has burned more than 100,000 acres (40,469 hectares) at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southern Georgia could take until November before it is put out, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said on Monday.

The fire has burned about one-fourth of the wildlife refuge, and the blaze is considered only eight-percent contained, said Mark Davis, spokesman for the service.

“November is the worst-case scenario,” said Davis. “The firefighters’ plan is to contain the fire as best they can, hoping that nature will cooperate with some rainfall.”

Helicopters, bulldozers and 500 firefighters are involved in fighting the blaze, Davis said.

No homes have been burned or threatened, but smoke has reached some cities including Waycross, Georgia, Davis said.

While much of the wildlife refuge is marshland and swamp, parts of it are prairie and wooded land. The refuge is home to black bears, alligators and sandhill cranes. Davis said wildlife knows to avoid the flames.

Six years ago, a wildfire burned more than 300,000 acres (12,1406 hectares)of the 407,000-acre (16,4707-hectare)refuge, Davis said.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Sandra Maler)

UK will not appeal court ruling on air pollution plan: PM May's spokesman

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The British government will not appeal a court ruling on its plans to tackle air pollution and will meet a deadline for May 9 to detail its efforts to improve air quality, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said on Tuesday.

The government had sought to extend an April 24 deadline to submit its plan to improve air quality and comply with EU nitrogen dioxide limits, but a court ordered a draft plan to be submitted by May 9 and a full report by July 31. [nL8N1HZ9IB]

“We have looked at the judgment from last week and we will not be appealing,” the spokesman told reporters.

“The court deadline was I believe the 9th of May and we will be meeting that deadline.”

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper, Writing by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Stephen Addison)

Twin polar bear cubs born at Sea World in Australia

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Two polar bear cubs born a week ago at Sea World in Australia’s Gold Coast are expected to make their public debut in three months time, but staff have seen the blind and toothless pair suckling milk from their mother inside their den.

Sixteen-year-old mother Liya delivered her second litter on April 26, and the cubs, which have still to be named, weigh about 600 grams and are 15 centimeters long. Fully grown they could stand as tall as standing as tall as 11 feet (3.35 meters) and weigh up to 1,400 pounds (635 kg).

“Liya and the cubs will spend the majority of these early months in the maternity den at Sea World,” said Sea World Director of Marine Sciences Trevor Long.

The cubs are expected to leave the den in July.

Polar bears currently number about 26,000, but their population is expected to fall by a third over the next 35 to 40 years due to melting sea ice in the Arctic, scientists said at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union last December.

(Writing by Karishma Singh, Editing by Darren Schuettler & Simon Cameron-Moore)

German minister to try to persuade U.S. to remain in climate pact

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German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said on Tuesday she would seek to convince the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump to remain part of the Paris Climate Agreement during her trip to the United States later this month.

Trump, elected in November, had vowed during his campaign to withdraw from the Paris accord within 100 days of becoming president, part of a broader plan to sweep away Obama administration environmental protections that Trump said were hobbling the economy.

Hendricks said the United States was an important partner so she wanted to engage in a direct dialogue about climate protection.

“I will especially campaign for the United States to remain part of the Paris climate agreement and to make its contribution to implementing it,” Hendricks said in a statement.

She is due to meet with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt and non-governmental organizations during her trip from 15 to 17 May. She is also due to meet California Governor Jerry Brown, with whom she will discuss the role of cooperation between states, towns and regions in pushing ahead with climate protection.

(Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Larry King)

Kendrick Lamar's 'Damn' holds steady atop Billboard 200 chart

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LOS ANGELES Rapper Kendrick Lamar’s latest album “Damn.” held onto the top spot of the weekly U.S. Billboard 200 album chart on Monday, holding off Drake and Ed Sheeran.

Lamar’s “Damn.,” which debuted atop the chart last week, sold a total of 238,000 album units in its second week of release, according to figures from Nielsen SoundScan.

Canadian rapper Drake’s “More Life” climbed one spot to No. 2, while British singer Sheeran’s “Divide” climbed one spot to No. 3.

The Billboard 200 album chart tallies units from album sales, song sales (10 songs equal one album) and streaming activity (1,500 streams equal one album).

New albums in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart this week include rockers Incubus at No. 4 with “8” and the soundtrack to the upcoming Marvel superhero film “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” at No. 8.

On the Digital Songs chart, which measures online single sales, Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito” climbed from No. 8 to No. 1 with 86,000 downloads sold.

(Reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Fox News reporter says she was shunned over article about health condition

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By Daniel Wiessner

<span class="articleLocation”>A Fox News contributor said in a lawsuit filed on Monday that she was taken off the air after writing an article about a medical condition that would likely leave her infertile, in the latest of a series of discrimination claims against the network.

Diana Falzone, 34, said in the lawsuit in New York state court that despite writing many popular articles for Fox News’ website and routinely being praised for on-air appearances, she was abruptly sidelined in January, three days after the article about her struggle with endometriosis was published.

Falzone said Fox, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, discriminated against her on the basis of sex and disability in violation of New York City law.

The network did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Fox News has faced mounting legal claims that it ignored employees’ complaints of sexual harassment and gender and race discrimination.

Bill O’Reilly, the network’s most popular anchor, and former Fox News chief Roger Ailes both have been ousted over harassment claims by several women, which they deny.

In Monday’s lawsuit, Falzone said she was not given a reason for being taken off the air. She said she complained internally using an employee hotline, but did not bring her concerns to network executives because they had, for years, been “complicit in covering up and enabling a hostile and harassing environment for women at Fox News.”

“Once Diana disclosed her condition, Fox executives decided she no longer conformed to their image of on-air women as ‘physically perfect,’” Nancy Smith, Falzone’s attorney, said in a statement.

Smith and Martin Hyman filed a sexual harassment lawsuit last year against Ailes on behalf of former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. The lawsuit, which was settled for $20 million, led to Ailes’ resignation after two decades as one of the most influential executives in cable television.

Last week, Fox News anchor Kelly Wright, who is black, and several other non-white employees filed a lawsuit seeking class action status, claiming they were mocked and humiliated because of their race and paid less than white coworkers. Fox has denied the claims.

Fox News announced on Monday that Bill Shine, co-president of the network since August, has resigned. A Fox News contributor sued Shine last month, accusing the executive of failing to investigate her claims of sexual harassment.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Dan Grebler)

Filmmaker Michael Moore brings his political satire to Broadway

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NEW YORK Provocative documentary maker Michael Moore is bringing politics to Broadway with a one-man show billed as “guaranteed to take audiences on a ride through the United States of Insanity.”

Producers said on Monday that Moore, the Oscar-winning maker of thought-provoking films on guns, the war in Iraq and the U.S. healthcare system, will make his Broadway debut in July with “The Terms of My Surrender.”

The 12-week limited run will see the liberal Moore, 63, use his satirical humor to target Washington politics and U.S. President Donald Trump.

“So, the question is posed: ‘Can a Broadway show take down a sitting president?’ Well, it’s time to find out,” said the release announcing the show.

Moore, a vocal critic of Trump, won an Oscar in 2003 for his gun violence documentary “Bowling for Columbine,” and was nominated for an Oscar in 2008 for “Sicko,” an indictment of the U.S. healthcare industry.

He is also the author of best-selling books including “Stupid White Men” and “Here Comes Trouble.”

In October, three weeks before the 2016 presidential elections, he released the anti-Trump documentary film “Michael Moore in Trumpland.”

Tickets for “The Terms of My Surrender,” beginning July 28, go on sale on Monday.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing by G Crosse)

Celebrities embrace avant-garde challenge at 2017 Met Gala

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By Melissa Fares| NEW YORK

NEW YORK On a night when celebrities can let loose on their fashion choices, pop princesses and Hollywood actress took it up a notch in the avant-garde department at New York’s Met Gala on Monday.

The 2017 Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute ball was themed “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between,” an homage to highly structured creations of the Japanese designer and her avant-garde label.

Pop singer Katy Perry, a co-chair of the ball, lived up to the theme’s challenge with a custom Maison Margiela “Artisanal” ensemble by John Galliano, an imperial red tulle dress and a veil embroidered with the word “Witness.”

Eric Wilson, fashion news director at InStyle, described this year’s theme as “extremely challenging” compared to years past and agreed that Perry’s outfit was courageously on point.

“I think she’s without a doubt the hit of the night so far,” Wilson said. “It’s very brave to wear something that disguises who you are so much on the red carpet.”

Rihanna was no slouch either, embodying Kawakubo’s penchant for dramatic silhouettes in a custom Comme des Garçons floral dress with cutouts and oversized ruffles. The singer earned the most mentions on social media, said Kellan Terry, an analyst at the social media monitoring company Brandwatch.  

“Happy” singer Pharrell Williams in jeans and leather jacket, and star couple Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen in matching silver helped fashion maven and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour host the annual fundraising gala, which is sometimes referred to as “the Oscars of the East Coast.”

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian went against the theme, sporting a white dress by Vivienne Westwood with no clutch, no jewelry and no Kanye West, her fashion-loving husband. Sister Kendall Jenner dared to be bare, wearing a sheer slip that left little to the imagination, both in front and back.

Donning a beige Ralph Lauren trench coat gown paired with big silver hoop earrings, actress Priyanka Chopra dropped jaws and turned heads. Tennis star Serena Williams also served up drama with a baby bump under her green Atelier Versace dress.

Actress Zoe Kravitz went with a strapless pink and black Oscar de la Renta gown with an off-the-shoulder train, receiving much praise on social media, where the hashtag #MetGala was top trending.

Wilson said an added plus to Kravitz’s dress is that it “looks comfortable.”

“Some of these pieces are gorgeous on the red carpet,” Wilson said. “But I’m assuming that a lot of these celebrities are going to be changing once they get through that door and sit down to dinner.”

(Reporting by Melissa Fares and Alicia Powell in New York; Editing by Mary Milliken)

Hollywood writers reach tentative deal with studios, averting strike

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<span class="articleLocation”>Hollywood writers said they reached a tentative deal with representatives of movie and television studios on a new contract early on Tuesday, averting a strike that could have blacked out talk shows and soap operas.

The sides agreed provisions to make up for shorter TV seasons – an issue since the advent of streaming services – and a 15-percent increase in pay television residuals, according to a memo to writers on the Writers Guild of America website.

Guild members would together earn $130 million more over the lifespan of the new deal, negotiators said in the memo, without specifying the time period.

“That result, and that resolve, is a testament to you, your courage, and your faith in us as your representatives,” they wrote. Members still need to agree to the settlement.

The 9,000-member Guild had said it was prepared to call for a stoppage and for picketing of the big TV and movie studios as early as Tuesday if no deal was reached by midnight on Monday.

The focus of the talks has been the revolution in the television industry since the arrival of streaming services including Netflix and Amazon, and a resulting sharp decline in the typical number of episodes in a season of scripted comedy or drama, to around 10 from 22.

The Guild says its members, who are paid per episode, have suffered an average 23-percent drop in earnings in the past three years.

Royalties for shows sold on DVDs, streaming platforms and cable TV were also at issue, along with funding for the Guild’s health plan.

The Guild was negotiating with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents entertainment giants Comcast Corp, Walt Disney Co, CBS Corp, Viacom Inc, Time Warner Inc and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.

If a strike had been called, audiences would have seen the first impact on late-night talk shows, which use teams of writers to pen topical jokes.

The last WGA strike in 2007/8 went on for 100 days. TV networks broadcast re-runs and more reality shows, while the cost to the California economy was estimated at $2.1 billion, according to the Milken Institute.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Spurs will take title race down to the wire – Chelsea's Matic

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<span class="articleLocation”>Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic thinks Tottenham Hotspur will take the race for the Premier League title right down to the wire, making the run-in far more difficult for the West London club than it was two years ago.

Antonio Conte’s side beat Everton 3-0 at Goodison on Sunday but Spurs extended their league winning streak to nine games by downing Arsenal 2-0 in the North London derby to remain four points behind with games remaining.

In the 2014-15 season, Chelsea and Manchester City were level at the top in January but City faded to finish fourth well behind the champions.

Serbian Matic does not expect any similar reprieve in this campaign.

“I think this year is more difficult,” he told London’s Evening Standard.

“We finished 2015 eight points clear of Man City. I’m not sure this will be the case with Tottenham.

“I’m sure they will not give up until end of the season. At this moment it’s hard, but we will see. Each time we win, they win, two years ago that was not the case.”

Chelsea face the bottom two clubs in the league as well as West Bromwich Albion and Watford in their four remaining games.

Tottenham travel to West Ham United and host Manchester United before taking on champions Leicester City and ending their season at Hull City.

“This season is hard. We win and Tottenham win, they are always close,” Matic added.

“But the important thing is that we are playing well, we take points and we will see if they can drop some points

“They have some difficult games, home and away, so everything is open until the end.”

(Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru, editing by Nick Mulvenney)