Biden looks to speed up putting Tubman on $20 Bill, Psaki says
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Treasury Department will resume Obama-era plans to put abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, and President Joe Biden wants to accelerate the process, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
U.S. money should “reflect the history and diversity of our country and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that,” she said at a briefing for reporters. “We’re exploring ways to speed up that effort.”
Tubman, a former slave who helped others to freedom, was to become the first woman and first minority to appear on U.S. paper currency. Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. president, is currently on $20 bills.
The Trump administration slowed those plans, announced during Barack Obama’s presidency. Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced in 2019 that $20 bills with portraits other than Jackson wouldn’t circulate until 2028, and he declined to commit to placing Tubman’s picture on the currency.
Tubman escaped slavery and became a leading figure in the movement to abolish the practice before the Civil War. She led hundreds to freedom along the Underground Railroad to the North, where slavery was banned. During the Civil War, she served as a spy for the Union Army. - Bloomberg News
First case of more contagious COVID-19 variant from Brazil confirmed in Minnesota
Minnesota health officials confirmed on Monday the first U.S. case of a more contagious coronavirus variant, originating in Brazil.
The Minnesota Department of Health said the case involved “a Minnesota resident with recent travel history to Brazil,” the department said in a statement.
“While this variant is thought to be more transmissible than the initial strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, it is not yet known whether the variant causes more severe illness,” the health department said.
The strain was discovered during routine variant surveillance testing, the department said in a statement. This strain is known as the Brazil P.1 variant.
“We’re thankful that our testing program helped us find this case, and we thank all Minnesotans who seek out testing when they feel sick or otherwise have reason to get a test,” Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said.
“This isn’t surprising,” Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota and an adviser to President Biden’s coronavirus response team, told The Washington Post. “It’s a very difficult development, but at the same time not unexpected.”
Minnesota health officials also announced three more cases of the U.K. B.1.1.7 variant, bringing the total detected up to eight. - New York Daily News
Study: Earth losing ice at record rate, melt accelerating
PARIS - The world is losing ice at a record and increasing rate, according to a study published by the European Space Agency (ESA) on Monday.
A total of 28 trillion tons of ice melted around the world between 1994 and 2017, the equivalent of a 100-yard-thick block the size of Britain, researchers said in a study published in the journal The Cryosphere.
One trillion tons of ice, if it took the form of a cube, would stand taller than Mount Everest, the authors said.
Meanwhile, the rate of melt is increasing as the atmosphere and oceans warm. In the 1990s, the world saw an annual loss of 0.8 trillion tons of ice. By 2017, that figure stood at 1.2 trillion tons a year.
ESA researchers analyzed global satellite data for the study and supplemented their findings with ground-based studies of the polar regions and some of the world's 215,000 mountain glaciers.
"The ice sheets are now following the worst-case climate warming scenarios," lead author Thomas Slater said in a statement.
The resultant sea-level rise would have "very serious impacts on coastal communities this century," he warned.
Also problematic is the loss of sea ice, which reduces the earth's reflective surface, intensifying the effect of global warming.
"As the sea ice shrinks, more solar energy is being absorbed by the oceans and atmosphere, causing the Arctic to warm faster than anywhere else on the planet," study co-author Isobel Lawrence said. - dpa, Berlin