conservationists warn of forests' demise on earth day
They cover a third of the world's landmass, help to regulate the atmosphere and offer shelter, sustenance and survival to millions of people, plants and animals.
But despite some progress, the planet's woodlands continue to disappear on a dramatic scale.
Since 1990, the world has lost the equivalent of 1,000 football fields of forests every hour, according to World Bank development indicators from last year. That's 1.3 million square kilometers of forest, an area larger than South Africa, according to the international financial institution.
With the observance of Earth Day today, conservationists seek to drive home the message that protection of forests is more critical than ever.
"The situation is dire," said Orion Cruz, deputy director of forest and climate policy for Earth Day Network, an organization that grew out of the first Earth Day in 1970. "Forests are being eliminated at a very rapid rate and collectively we need to address this problem as quickly as possible. There's still time to do this, but that time is quickly running out."
Gorsuch casts death penalty vote
Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch cast his first consequential vote Thursday night, siding with the court's other four conservatives in denying a stay request from Arkansas death-row inmates facing execution.
Hours later, the state executed Ledell Lee, the first lethal injection carried out there since 2005.
Arkansas' push to put eight men to death in less than two weeks centers around the sedative midazolam, one of three drugs used in lethal injections. The state is racing to carry out the executions before its supply of midazolam expires at the end of the month.
State officials said Friday that they were prepared to move forward with the remaining executions, starting with two on Monday.
United Airlines CEO pays a price
United Airlines said CEO Oscar Munoz, who came under withering criticism for the airline's handling of an April passenger-dragging incident, will not be automatically adding the title of chairman in 2018 as planned.
The company said Friday that Munoz proposed rewriting his employment contract to remove the expectation that he would become chairman at next year's annual meeting of parent United Continental Holdings Inc.
United also said Friday that Munoz received $18.7 million in compensation last year.
Troops kill ISIS leader's associate
U.S. Special Operations forces carried out a ground raid in Syria this month that killed "a close associate" of the Islamic State's leader and who had helped plot a deadly attack on a nightclub in Istanbul on New Year's Day, U.S. Central Command said Friday at MacDill Air Force Base.
Abdurakhmon Uzbeki, who was killed April 6 in an operation in Mayadin, Syria, was targeted for his role in ISIS' external terrorist-attack plotting, said Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for Central Command.
Keep up with Tampa Bay’s top headlines
Subscribe to our free DayStarter newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
In describing Uzbeki as "a close associate" of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the shadowy leader of the terrorist organization, Thomas said the militant was "known to interact with him in various ways over time." Thomas declined to elaborate.
41st president to continue recovering in hospital
A spokesman for former President George H.W. Bush says the nation's 41st president will remain in a Houston hospital through the weekend while he recovers from a mild case of pneumonia.
Family spokesman Jim McGrath posted Friday on Twitter that doctors will keep Bush, 92, at Houston Methodist Hospital "to ensure a fully clean bill of health." Bush's vice president, Dan Quayle, talked with him by phone on Friday. Above, the senior Bush was visited by his son, former President George W. Bush. "Big morale boost from a high level delegation. No father has ever been more blessed, or prouder," the elder Bush tweeted.