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17 US States File Lawsuit against Trump Administration over Rule Changes that Weakened Endangered Species Act

The attorneys general from 17 U.S. states have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over rule changes that weakened

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US, States, Lawsuit
In this May 13, 2019 file photo provided by the National Park Service a female condor takes flight in Zion National Park, Utah. VOA

The attorneys general from 17 U.S. states have filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over rule changes that weakened the Endangered Species Act.

Led by California, Maryland, and Massachusetts, the coalition of states filed the suit Wednesday in a federal court in San Francisco.  It follows a lawsuit filed last month by seven environmental and animal rights groups.

“As we face the unprecedented threat of a climate emergency, now is the time to strengthen our planet’s biodiversity, not to destroy it,”  California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “The only thing we want to see extinct are the beastly policies of the Trump administration putting our ecosystems in critical danger.”

The changes introduced by the Trump administration include requiring consideration of economic cost when deciding whether to save a species from extinction. The law currently says the cost to logging or oil interests will have no bearing on whether an animal or other species deserves protection.

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California Attorney General Xavier Becerra responds to a lawmakers question during during his confirmation hearing, Jan. 10, 2017. VOA

The revised regulations would also end blanket protection for a species listed as threatened — a designation that is one step away from declaring it endangered — and reduce some wildlife habitat.

Conservation and wildlife groups call the changes U.S. President Donald Trump’s gift to logging, ranching, and oil industries, saying they take a bulldozer through protections for America’s most vulnerable wildlife.

But Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has defended the changes as fitting “within the president’s mandate of easing the regulatory burden on the American public without sacrificing our species’ protection and recovery goals.”

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Environmentalists credit the 1973 Endangered Species Act with saving numerous animals, plants, and other species from extinction.

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FILE – US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross listens during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, July 16, 2019, in Washington. VOA

About 1,600 species are currently protected by the act and the administration says streamlining regulations is the best way to ensure they will stay protected.

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Republican President Richard Nixon signed the act into law in 1973 as part of the response to the new environmental awareness sweeping the country in the early 1970s, which included Earth Day and the Clear Water and Air acts. (VOA)

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Uber Receives 3,045 Cases of Sexual Assault in U.S. in Year 2018

"We are partnering with RAINN, the nation's largest sexual violence organisation, to design and implement this programme," Uber added

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Photo shows an exterior view of the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. (VOA)

Ride-hailing giant Uber has released its first safety review which contains thousands of sexual assault reports. The company has also revealed the changes it was making to make rides safer for its passengers and drivers.

The two-year safety review contains almost 2,936 reports pertaining to sexual assault that Uber received in 2017 and 3,045 it received in 2018.

Notably, the cab aggregator categorises sexual assaults into five subcategories, which are non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part, non-consenual touching of a sexual body part, attempted non-consensual sexual penetration, non-consensual kissing of a sexual body part and non-consensual sexual penetration.

In the last sub category, which is rape, the cab hailing major received 229 reports of rape in 2017 and 235 reports of rape in 2018. Throughout 2017 and 2018, the reported incidents occurred on 0.00002% of trips, according to the company.

“Confronting sexual violence requires honesty, and it’s only by shining a light on these issues that we can begin to provide clarity on something that touches every corner of society,” Tony West, Uber’s Chief Legal Officer, said in the review.

“And, most importantly, by bringing hard data to bear, we can make every trip safer for drivers and riders alike.”

Uber
Uber app. Pixabay

The ride hailing major long been under fire for its safety practices.

In its response to making rides safer for its passengers, Uber mentioned developments like its “in-app safety button”.

“We’re rolling out new features that allow riders to verify their driver with a secure PIN code, send a text message directly to 911 operators, and report safety incidents to Uber even before their trip is over,” the company said.

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In 2020, the cab aggregator will expand sexual misconduct and assault education to all the US drivers.

“We are partnering with RAINN, the nation’s largest sexual violence organisation, to design and implement this programme,” Uber added. (IANS)