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Higher temperatures are spreading across the southern United States, bringing some relief to a region weary of winter. The region faces a challenging clean-up and expensive repairs from days of extreme cold and widespread power outages. In hard-hit Texas, where millions were warned to boil tap water before drinking it, the warm-up on Saturday was expected to last for several days. President Joe Biden has declared a major disaster in Texas, directing federal agencies to help in the recovery. More than 70 deaths are being blamed on the weather. For more updates, here’s Mint Lite.

Most rivers damaged by humans

Most rivers damaged by humans
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Most rivers damaged by humans

Rivers in which fish populations have escaped serious damage from human activities make up just 14% of the world’s river basin area, according to the most comprehensive study to date, reports Guardian. Scientists found that the biodiversity of more than half of rivers had been profoundly affected, with big fish such as sturgeon replaced by invasive species such as catfish and Asian carp. Pollution, dams, overfishing, farm irrigation and rising temperatures due to the climate crisis are also to blame. The worst-hit regions are western Europe and North America, where large and affluent populations mean humans’ impact on rivers is highest, such as with the Thames in the UK and the Mississippi in the US.Rivers and lakes are vital ecosystems. They cover less than 1% of the planet’s surface, but their 17,000 fish species represent a quarter of all vertebrates, as well as providing food for many millions of people.

UN security council to meet tomorrow

The session comes just days after the United States under President Joe Biden formally rejoined the Paris climate change accord
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The session comes just days after the United States under President Joe Biden formally rejoined the Paris climate change accord

The UN Security Council will hold a summit of world leaders on Tuesday to debate climate change’s implications for world peace, an issue on which its 15 members have divergent opinions. The session, called by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and conducted by video-conference, comes just days after the United States under President Joe Biden formally rejoined the Paris climate change accord. Johnson, whose country now holds the Security Council’s rotating presidency, will address the forum, as will US climate czar John Kerry, French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the prime ministers of Ireland, Vietnam, Norway and other countries, diplomats say. The meeting will serve as a test for US-China relations, one UN ambassador said on condition of anonymity, alluding to one of the few issues where the two big powers might agree. But this is not a given.

Swiss govt loosens its purse strings

Swiss govt loosens its purse strings
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Swiss govt loosens its purse strings

Germany, which is known for strict budgets, has tapped debt markets to prop up its virus-hit economy, while neighbouring Switzerland has consistently curbed borrowing despite calls to change course, reports AFP. With Swiss firms struggling through another lockdown, the federal government last week finally loosened its purse strings a bit, doubling emergency aid to 10 billion Swiss francs as part of a programme to boost the economy. But when he presented the package for companies worst hit by the latest covid restrictions, finance minister Ueli Maurer again lamented that Switzerland had to borrow to boost the economy. Some 10 billion francs in debt will have to be paid off within six years according to a constitutional debt brake rule, Maurer warned. He promised to present various options to do so as soon as the economic outlook cleared a bit.

Coup-prone Niger goes to polls

Coup-prone Niger goes to polls
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Coup-prone Niger goes to polls

Niger voted on Sunday in a presidential run-off between two heavyweights that is set to bring about the first democratic transition of power in the coup-prone country’s history. The world’s poorest nation according to the UN’s development benchmark, Niger is also struggling with jihadist insurgencies that have spilled over from Mali and Nigeria. Thousands of soldiers are deployed across the country for the vote, which is on track to usher in a peaceful handover between elected presidents, its first since independence from France in 1960. Outgoing President Mahamadou Issoufou’s decision to voluntarily step down after two five-year terms was welcomed in a region where many leaders have tried to cling on to power. His successor will either be his right-hand man and anointed successor Mohamed Bazoum or Mahamane Ousmane, who became the first democratically-elected president in 1993.

Global vaccination at 202 million

Covid vaccination count reached more than 202 million just over two months after the first shots were injected
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Covid vaccination count reached more than 202 million just over two months after the first shots were injected

Global vaccination reached more than 202 million just over two months after the first shots were injected, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. Australia kicked off its programme on Sunday and South Korea will start its roll out from Friday. The UK will offer vaccines to all adults by the end of July and every person over 50 by mid-April as the government beefs up efforts to contain one of the world’s worst outbreaks. Johnson & Johnson’s covid-19 vaccine is expected to be given European Union approval in the next two to four weeks. Fujifilm Holdings Corp. plans to restart clinical trials of Avigan in April, Nikkei reported, after Japanese regulators postponed a decision to approval the antiviral drug in December and asked the company for more data.

(Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen)

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