Outside the Outbreak: Trump forest protection goals fall short, foreign students less interested in US colleges

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Federal agencies fall short of Trump forest protection goals

In this Nov. 17, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump talks with then California Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, left, during a visit to a neighborhood impacted by the wildfires in Paradise, Calif. Nearly two years ago President Trump ordered the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Interior to make federal lands less susceptible to catastrophic wildfires. But the agencies fell short of his goals in 2019, treating a combined 4.3 million acres — just over half of the 8.45 million acres the president sought. It was only slightly better than their average annual performance over nearly two decades, according to government data. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Nearly two years ago, President Donald Trump stood amid the smoky ruins of Paradise, California, where he blamed the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history on poor forest management. “You’ve got to take care of the floors, you know? The floors of the forest, very important,” the president said.

He ordered the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Interior to make federal lands less susceptible to catastrophic wildfires with measures such as removing dead trees, underbrush and other potentially flammable materials.

But while Trump has accused California and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of doing a “terrible job” of forest protection, his own agencies fell short of his goals for federal lands in 2019. They treated a combined 6,736 square miles — just over half of the 13,203 square miles the president sought, according to government data. It was only slightly better than their average annual performance over nearly two decades.

Belarus leader seeks to punish striking workers, students

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attends a meeting in Minsk, Belarus, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Nikolai Petrov/BelTA Pool Photo via AP)

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko urged authorities Tuesday to take action against plant workers and students who participate in a strike called by the opposition as the authoritarian leader made another attempt to halt protests of his reelection.

University students left classes to march in rallies and some factory employees went on strike Monday after Lukashenko ignored an opposition demand to resign following the balloting that was widely viewed as rigged. Nearly 600 people were detained in the capital of Minsk and other cities.

Lukashenko told government officials that “those came out to unauthorized rallies in violation of the law should be deprived of the right to be a student,” adding that factory workers who want to continue working should be “freed” from those who are on strike.

Foreign students show less zeal for US since Trump took over

In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, Dodeye Ewa, 16 year old study at the family library in Calabar, Nigeria. The third child is bothered by President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and his policies toward international students, most recently one announced Friday that limits their stays in the U.S. to two or four years with uncertainty about whether their visas will be extended. (AP Photo/Daniel H Williams )

America was considered the premier destination for international students, with the promise of top-notch universities and unrivaled job opportunities. Yet, 2016 marked the start of a steep decline of new enrollees, something expected to continue with fresh rules limiting student visas, competition from other countries and a haphazard coronavirus response. The effect on the workforce will be considerable, experts predict, no matter the outcome of November’s election.

Trump has arguably changed the immigration system more than any U.S. president, thrilling supporters with a nationalist message and infuriating critics who call the approach to his signature issue insular, xenophobic and even racist.

For colleges that fear dwindling tuition and companies that worry about losing talent, the broader impact is harder to quantify: America seemingly losing its luster on a global stage.

Facebook demands academics disable ad-targeting data tool

FILE – In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York’s Times Square. Academics, journalists and First Amendment lawyers are rallying behind New York University researchers in a showdown with Facebook over its demand that they halt the collection of data on political ads-targeting on the world’s dominant social media platform. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Academics, journalists and First Amendment lawyers are rallying behind New York University researchers in a showdown with Facebook over its demand that they halt the collection of data showing who is being micro-targeted by political ads on the world’s dominant social media platform.

The researchers say the disputed tool is vital to understanding how Facebook has been used as a conduit for disinformation and manipulation.

In an Oct. 16 letter to the researchers, a Facebook executive demanded they disable a special plug-in for Chrome and Firefox browsers used by 6,500 volunteers across the United States and delete the data obtained. The plug-in lets researchers see which ads are shown to each volunteer; Facebook lets advertisers tailor ads based on specific demographics that go far beyond race, age, gender and political preference.

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