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June 25, 2018

Buzz Aldrin and two of his children are now engaged in a legal fight, with Janice and Andrew Aldrin asking to be appointed his co-guardians because he's in "cognitive decline," a charge he forcefully denies.

Buzz Aldrin, 88, told The Wall Street Journal he was blindsided by his children's request, made last month in a Florida court. The legendary former astronaut said his children and former business manager Christina Korp are trying to wrestle away control of his private company, Buzz Aldrin Enterprises, and his nonprofit, ShareSpace Foundation, by claiming he's being manipulated by strangers and experiencing paranoia and confusion.

Aldrin has agreed to undergo a competency evaluation this week by three court-appointed specialists, telling the Journal, "Nobody is going to come close to thinking I should be under a guardianship." Aldrin is also firing back with his own lawsuit, accusing Andrew Aldrin and Korp of elder exploitation, unjust enrichment, and converting his property for themselves, and Janice Aldrin of conspiracy and breach of fiduciary trust.

Aldrin says his son and Korp improperly transferred nearly $500,000 over the last two years from his savings account to Buzz Aldrin Enterprises and ShareSpace Foundation for their own personal use, and he was forced into attending events and taking endorsement deals he didn't want. For more on the Aldrin family saga, visit The Wall Street Journal. Catherine Garcia

November 15, 2017

The Trump administration will reverse a 2014 ban on allowing hunters to bring back to the United States trophies of elephants they killed in Zambia and Zimbabwe, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official told ABC News on Wednesday.

There is a provision in the Endangered Species Act that lets the government issue permits to import trophies if there's sufficient evidence that the hunting benefits the species, and the Fish and Wildlife official claims there is evidence coming from Zimbabwe and Zambia to support reversing the ban. The Great Elephant Census released in 2016 found that from 2007 to 2014, savanna elephant populations dropped 30 percent across 18 countries in Africa, and there are about 350,000 left in the wild.

In Zambia, the government has banned elephant hunting at various times, but in 2015, it was re-established after they determined the elephant population had grown. In Zimbabwe, poaching has long been an issue, and there is corruption in the hunting industry, Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle wrote in a blog post. "Let's be clear," he said. "Elephants are on the list of threatened species; the global community has rallied to stem the ivory trade; and now, the U.S. government is giving American trophy hunters the green light to kill them." President Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., has hunted in Africa before, proudly posing for a photo with a knife in one hand and an elephant tail in the other. Catherine Garcia

July 19, 2017

President Trump may enjoy watching golf, apparently making him a normal person, but his presence at the U.S. Women's Open last weekend, held at his golf course in New Jersey, did not inspire other normal people to tune in, Sports Media Watch reported Tuesday. The final holes of the tournament on Sunday afternoon — South Korean golfer Sung Hyun Park won — drew a TV audience of 790,000 on Fox, or a 0.6 rating, a 40 percent drop from last year and the lowest rating for the U.S. Women's Open since at least 1988. The sad ratings weren't due to Trump's lack of promotion.

LPGA caddy Missy Pedersen said the crowds were pretty sparse at Trump National Golf Course, too. "This is the 10th U.S. Open I have caddied and upon entering the merchandise tent I immediately noticed how small it is in comparison to previous years," Pedersen told former LPGA gofer Anya Alvarez, continuing:

I was informed that the merchandise orders were driven by ticket sales. One can deduce that small merchandise orders equals small ticket sales. Once tournament play started there were very obvious voids in the gallery, so ticket sales did appear to be down. It's hard to comprehend slow tickets sales at a major event, near a densely populated area like New York City, when three years ago we played in a small town in Pennsylvania and drew almost 140,000 people. So you are left to conclude that either Trump's presence had no impact or it in fact had a negative impact on women's golf. [Good]

The Golf Channel wasn't willing to hang the low ratings on Trump, exactly, but said that "at best, sparse galleries and weak TV ratings suggest his presence couldn't overcome a weekend leaderboard devoid of American contenders." Alvarez, who published her column Monday, before the TV ratings came out, suggested that Trump stole what spotlight there was. "The Women's U.S. Open in golf is the most prestigious tournament the ladies play," she wrote, but this year, "people will remember this as Trump's U.S. Open." Given Trump's reverence for high ratings, he'd probably rather they didn't. Peter Weber

December 21, 2016

In the Siberian city of Irkutsk, 62 people have died after drinking a bath lotion that contained methanol and antifreeze.

More than 30 people are seriously ill and in the hospital, and Irkutsk's health minister Oleg Yaroshenko said nearly half of those being treated are not expected to survive. Analysts say it's believed that 12 million Russians drink cheap alternatives to alcohol, and the country has a problem with alcoholic products not meant for ingestion being sold in vending machines. Many are labeled as cosmetics or medicine, the BBC reports, and in Irkutsk, the people who died or are sick drank a hawthorn-scented bath lotion. The bottle states that its contents are not meant for drinking, but the label also said the product contained ethanol, not methanol, which can cause blindness and death.

Over the course of the investigation in Irkutsk, 12 people have been arrested, 1,500 buildings and homes searched, and thousands of bottles of alcohol confiscated. In the wake of the mass poisoning, Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the government to create and submit new legislation by July to crack down on the sales of such products. He also wants stricter penalties for bootleggers and better labeling of products that contain more than 25 percent alcohol. Catherine Garcia

November 28, 2016

Higher water temperatures led to the worst coral bleaching event on record in the Great Barrier Reef, a new study finds.

The Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University discovered that 67 percent of a 435-mile section in the northern part of the reef lost its shallow-water corals over the past eight to nine months, The Guardian reports. During two earlier bleaching events in 1998 and 2002, the area had just minor damage, Prof. Terry Hughes said. There was some damage in the southern two-thirds of the reef, too, but that area was not as affected by rising sea temperatures because of cooler water in the Coral Sea.

Scientists say it will likely take 10 to 15 years for the northern reef region to regain lost corals, but they are worried the recovery could be sidelined by a fourth bleaching event. To combat climate change, the former head of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is calling for a ban on new coal mines in Australia. Catherine Garcia

November 19, 2016

The U.S. Forest Service calculates the drought in California has killed about 102 million trees since 2010, and the tree die-off is happening at an increasing pace. Some 66 million trees died between 2010 and June of this year, and more than half that number — 36 million — died between June and November.

Mass tree deaths make drought conditions even more dangerous than they already would be. "These dead and dying trees continue to elevate the risk of wildfire, complicate our efforts to respond safely and effectively to fires when they do occur and pose a host of threats to life and property," explains Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Drought is stressful for trees for reasons beyond simple water deprivation. For instance, dehydrated pine trees make less resin, which leaves them vulnerable to insect infestations. Dry ground can also lead to trees drawing air bubbles into their "veins," or xylem, which can eventually prove deadly. Bonnie Kristian

June 23, 2016

Since 2010, 66 million trees have died in California's Sierra Nevada forests, due to drought, bark beetle, and high temperatures.

Officials have been flying overheard to assess the damage, and have spotted rows of dead trees the color of rust covering large swathes of land. During the last count in October, there were 40 million dead trees, The Associated Press reports, with the mortality from Tuolumne to Kern countries increased by 65 percent.

The Forest Service says it has cut down 77,000 trees along roads and near homes and campgrounds, and Gov. Jerry Brown (D) declared an emergency in October and created a task force to figure out faster ways to remove the trees. Firefighters fear that the trees will serve as fuel for wildfires, and with California now in its fifth year of drought, the trees are drier than ever and more vulnerable to attack by bark beetles. "Tree die-offs of this magnitude are unprecedented and increase the risk of catastrophic wildfires that puts property and lives at risk," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "We must fund wildfire suppression like other natural disasters in the country." Catherine Garcia

March 9, 2016

One day after the Cleveland Clinic held a press conference to celebrate what doctors thought was the first successful uterus transplant in the United States, the patient had to have the organ removed.

On Tuesday, the uterus was surgically removed after the woman, identified as 26-year-old Lindsey, developed a serious complication, officials with the Cleveland Clinic announced Wednesday. The uterus is now being analyzed by pathologists to determine what went wrong, The New York Times reports. Lindsey's transplant was the first of 10 planned by the Cleveland Clinic, and officials said those surgeries will still take place.

In Sweden, nine women have had uterus transplants, resulting in five births. The transplants in Sweden used live donors, while Lindsey's donor was a woman in her 30s who died suddenly. Uterus transplants give women without the organ the chance to become pregnant, and Lindsey, who was born without a uterus, said during the press conference on Monday she was "beyond thankful" to her donor and doctors for making it possible for her to attempt to get pregnant. In a statement released Wednesday, Lindsey said she was doing well and recovering, and was grateful to her doctors who "acted very quickly to ensure my health and safety." Catherine Garcia

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