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Brazil wildfires killed an estimated 17 million animals

Brazil wildfires killed an estimated 17 million animals

Science
CENAP-ICMBioAmid the bleakness of 2020, scientists in Brazil concluded a particularly grim conservation study - attempting to count the animals killed by huge wildfires in the Pantanal wetlands. They estimate that as many as 17 million vertebrates - including reptiles, birds and primates - died. Wildfires burned between January and November, destroying 30% of the world's largest tropical wetland.This estimate of the loss is published in the journal Scientific Reports. AFPDr Mariana Napolitano Ferreira, head of science at WWF-Brazil explained that there were 22,000 separate fires recorded during that year. This new research highlights, the researchers say, the importance of preventing such disasters in the future. Body countThe Pantanal does burn naturally, but the 2020 wildfires were "apoc...
Covid-19: India vaccination crosses 100 million doses

Covid-19: India vaccination crosses 100 million doses

Health
India says it has become the "fastest country in the world" to administer more than 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, amid a deadly second wave of infections.It achieved the feat in 85 days, whereas the US took 89 days and China 102 days, the health ministry said.But the country reported a record daily increase of over 150,000 cases - and more than 800 new deaths - on Sunday.And there are reports the vast vaccination drive itself is struggling.This week, half a dozen states reported a shortage of doses even as the federal government insisted that it had 40 million doses in stock and that the "allegations" of vaccine scarcity were "utterly baseless".The inoculation drive aims to cover 250 million people by July, but experts say the pace needs to pick up further to meet the target.E...

30 million people may receive $1,400 stimulus checks after Social Security Administration provides payment information to IRS

Finance
zimmytws | iStock | Getty ImagesThe Social Security Administration has sent information to the IRS that will help clear the way for almost 30 million people to receive their $ 1,400 stimulus checks, lawmakers said on Thursday.The development comes after Democratic leaders on the House Ways and Means Committee gave the agency 24 hours to turn over the payment information so that the IRS could process the payments.In a statement, the lawmakers, led by House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal, D-Mass., blamed Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul for the delays, which "defied congressional intent and imposed needless anxiety and pain on taxpayers."In response, Saul released a statement on Thursday strongly denying those claims.Saul said the Social Security Administration was init...
Energy firms overcharged one million switching customers

Energy firms overcharged one million switching customers

Business
Getty ImagesMore than one million people were overcharged by energy firms during the process of switching suppliers, the regulator Ofgem has said.When a customer decides to switch, the rules state they should be protected from price rises while moving - which could take up to three weeks.Eighteen suppliers made errors leading to overcharging of £7.2m.They are refunding the money and making extra payments in some cases, taking the compensation total to £10.4m.The biggest names in the sector - including British Gas, E.On, EDF, Npower, Scottish Power, SSE and Octopus - made the mistakes.They failed to protect customers who switched tariffs or suppliers after price rises were set between 2013 and 2020.Although the average amount overcharged was only £6.27, the sums would be higher for those wi...
Toxic air puts six million at risk of lung damage

Toxic air puts six million at risk of lung damage

Science
About six million people aged over 65 in England are at high risk of lung damage and asthma attacks because of toxic air, according to a new report. It finds that older people and those with lung disease who are most vulnerable to the effects of pollution are often the most exposed. The new document is from the British Lung Foundation (BLF) and Asthma UK. It comes as MPs also demand the government sets tougher targets for air pollution.Improving air quality needs to be "at the core" of the UK's post-pandemic rebuild, say members of a House of Commons committee that focuses on environmental issues.The new report by two of the UK's leading respiratory charities finds that a quarter of all care homes and a third of all GP practices and hospitals in England are in places where particulate poll...