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IMF warns increasing US tariffs could cut China growth sharply

IMF warns increasing US tariffs could cut China growth sharplyChina’s economy already is slowing amid the trade conflict with the United States, but if Washington were to ramp up tariffs even further it could cut Chinese growth sharply, the IMF warned Friday. The International Monetary Fund already had trimmed its growth forecast for China to 6.2 percent this year, assuming no new tariffs are imposed. The annual review of China’s economy — known as the Article IV report — was completed before President Donald Trump announced plans to impose 10 percent punitive tariffs on $ 300 billion in imports.



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Afghan troop numbers drop sharply in crackdown on 'ghost' soldiers

Afghan troop numbers drop sharply in crackdown on 'ghost' soldiersThere has been a sharp drop in the size of Afghanistan’s National Defense Security Forces in the past few months due to changes in the way troops are counted and an effort to reduce the number of so-called “ghost” soldiers, a U.S. government watchdog said on Thursday. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said in a report that ANDSF personnel size had gone down by nearly 10 percentage points in the most recent quarter compared to the previous trimester. The disclosure comes as Washington attempts to clinch a framework peace agreement with Taliban insurgents that is expected to include a timeline for withdrawing U.S. troops, which now number about 14,000 in Afghanistan.



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Dow, stocks end sharply lower on Christmas Eve after weekend of Washington, D.C., turmoil

Dow, stocks end sharply lower on Christmas Eve after weekend of Washington, D.C., turmoilThe Standard & Poor's 500 is now 19.77 percent off its Sept. 20 high. A bear market is when an index falls 20 percent or more from its recent high.



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List of missing in California's deadliest wildfire drops sharply

List of missing in California's deadliest wildfire drops sharplyThe confirmed death toll from the Camp Fire stood unchanged from the past few days at 88, but the newly revised roster of people still unaccounted for came as welcome news three weeks after flames ravaged the Sierra foothills town of Paradise. At a news conference on Wednesday night, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said search and recovery teams had finished combing through the ruins of approximately 18,000 homes and other buildings incinerated by the blaze. The missing-persons list then consisted of 196 names, though Honea said he was hopeful that many individuals would eventually turn up alive as they realized that loved ones were looking for them.



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Antarctica is losing billions of tons of ice each year, sharply boosting sea levels

Antarctica is losing billions of tons of ice each year, sharply boosting sea levelsEarth-orbiting satellites are watching Antarctica thaw.  Eighty scientists from over 40 earth sciences agencies, including NASA and the European Space Agency, used satellite data from between 1992 to 2017 to find that Antarctica has lost three trillion tons of ice to the oceans over this 25-year period. Their research, published Wednesday in the journal
Nature, confirms a troubling trend, as much of the world's fresh water is frozen away in Antarctica. It's accelerating melt will likely play a primary role in swelling Earth's oceans two or three feet higher this century, or perhaps as much as six feet. SEE ALSO: Arctic sea ice is loaded with plastic litter from cigarettes and paint The most vulnerable masses of ice are in West Antartica, where NASA has already witnessed an accelerating melt. "They're melting like gangbusters," Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said in an April interview. "These are massive rivers of ice that are dumping just huge amounts of ice into the oceans." Image: imbie/Planetary VisionsPerhaps most worrying, said Willis, is that this melting is unprecedented. Scientists are watching this thawing for the first time. They can see the melt is already accelerating — and it's unknown what's exactly to come. "We have long suspected that changes in Earth’s climate will affect the polar ice sheets," Andrew Shepherd, a climate scientist and one of the study's lead authors, said in a statement.   "Thanks to the satellites our space agencies have launched, we can now track their ice losses and global sea level contribution with confidence," said Shepherd. "According to our analysis, there has been a steep increase in ice losses from Antarctica during the past decade, and the continent is causing sea levels to rise faster today than at any time in the past 25 years."  Over this 25-year period, scientists measured around 7 and a half millimeters of sea level rise from the ice-clad continent. This might not seem like a lot, Robin Bell, a marine geologist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said over email. But, the more recent rapid loses in Antarctic ice "indicates Antarctica can change faster than we thought," said Bell. In fact, 40 percent of the total rise, or about 3 millimeters, came in the last 5 years. That's when things really started to change. Until 2012, the study's researchers found that Antarctica had been shedding 84 billion tons of ice into the sea each year, incrementally boosting sea levels by around 0.2 millimeters annually.  But beginning in 2012, Antarctica began to lose nearly 240 billion tons per year, largely from two giant West Antarctic glaciers, Pine Island and Thwaites.   The West Antarctic ice is particularly vulnerable because these massive ice sheets sit over the ocean, and even slightly warmer ocean waters can eat away at them from the bottom.  The locations of the Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers, which alone have enough ice to raise sea levels by 4 feet, says NASA.Image: Nasa"The largest mass loss is observed where relatively warm ocean waters are melting floating ice shelves from below," Steve Rintoul, a study coauthor and physical oceanographer from the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Center, in Australia, said in a statement.  These masses of ice, which sit on the edge of the continent, act as a plug, holding the continent's thick sheets of heavy ice back.  "As the ice shelves thin and weaken, they provide less resistance to ice flow from the continent to the sea," explained Rintoul. "This increases the rate of mass loss from the Antarctic Ice Sheet and therefore the rate of sea level rise." This leads to a foreboding future. Once these melting ice sheets on the coast go, nothing is left to hold West Antartica's ice back. And as the authors note, "The ice sheets of Antarctica hold enough water to raise global sea level by 58 meters." Certainly, no one is suggesting this will all dump into ocean — not nearly. But only an insignificant amount needs to melt into the sea for coastal dwellers, where billions reside and many more are expected to live, to be impacted by rising seas, flooding, and surges of stormwater. Around 40 percent of Americans, for example, live directly on the shoreline.  To better grasp exactly how much ice is lost each year — and more critically, how fast these losses are accelerating — space agencies will continue to peer onto the thawing continent. And down on Earth, scientists will even depend on seals, fitted with data-collecting devices, to dive under this melting ice.  WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?



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Despite tragic blaze, New York's fire fatalities are sharply down

Despite tragic blaze, New York's fire fatalities are sharply downJust one year ago, New York City officials were celebrating the lowest number of fire fatalities the city had ever seen in over 100 years. It was the largest number of fatalities in a single fire in New York since 1990, when 87 people perished in an arson attack on a Bronx social club – less than a mile from the scene of last night’s deadly fire. “We’re here at the scene of an unspeakable tragedy in the middle of the holiday season, a time when families are ­together,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) at a press conference Thursday evening, with temperatures in the teens.



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US dollar and stocks fall sharply after Donald Trump allegations spark fears of political turmoil

US dollar and stocks fall sharply after Donald Trump allegations spark fears of political turmoilThe dollar and US stocks fell sharply on Wednesday, pressured by mounting concerns of political turmoil after reports that Donald Trump had asked former FBI Director James Comey to end an investigation into Michael Flynn. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that the President had asked Mr Comey to terminate the investigation into the former National Security Adviser during an Oval Office visit back in February. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” the President said to Mr Comey during that meeting, according to the memo.



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Got a Pre-Existing Condition? Your Premium Could Rise Sharply Under New GOP Plan

Got a Pre-Existing Condition? Your Premium Could Rise Sharply Under New GOP PlanConsumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. As House Republicans frantically seek support for legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, the biggest sticking p…



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Got a Pre-Existing Condition? Your Premium Could Rise Sharply Under New GOP Plan

Got a Pre-Existing Condition? Your Premium Could Rise Sharply Under New GOP PlanConsumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. As House Republicans frantically seek support for legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, the biggest sticking p…



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Got a Pre-Existing Condition? Your Premium Could Rise Sharply Under New GOP Plan

Got a Pre-Existing Condition? Your Premium Could Rise Sharply Under New GOP PlanConsumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this website. As House Republicans frantically seek support for legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, the biggest sticking p…



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