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The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution, sponsored by Alaska Rep. Don Young, to repeal regulations limiting hunting practices on federal wildlife refuges in Alaska. The measure is a Congressional Review Act, an obscure legislative tool that allows Congress to repeal federal regulations finalized in the last 60 days with a simple majority. Young has stated that he sees this as a battle over federal control, not over wildlife management. Those who oppose repealing the current rules say that doing so would allow unfair and environmentally harmful practices. Representatives have expressed concerned that the new legislation would simply make it easier to kill wolf pups and bear cubs. The bill passed 225-193 after debate. Currently, the legislation stands a fair chance of making it to the president’s desk.
Despite being explicitly warned not to do so by the foreign ministry of China, a U.S. aircraft carrier has begun patrolling the hotly contested South China Sea region. Under international law, nations have sovereignty over waters extending 200 miles of their coast. China, however, claims to have sovereignty over a vast swath of ocean that descends thousands of miles south of the Chinese coast and borders several countries. To strengthen its claim, China has spent the last few years building artificial islands in the region and stocking them with troops, leading to heightened tensions with the countries that wish to share the area. The U.S. has responded by sending military ships and planes near disputed islands, calling them “freedom of navigation operations” to ensure access to shipping routes. Observers worry that the brewing conflict has the potential to become a global crisis.
Russian president Vladimir Putin declared Saturday that his country would begin recognizing passports and other identity documents issued by the separatist rebel pocket territories of eastern Ukraine. Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, characterized the decision as humanitarian. Over the last few weeks, tensions between the separatist and pro-government forces have boiled over into violent clashes with a mounting death toll. Ten of thousands have sought refuge in Russia since the conflict began in 2014, when Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. Pro-Russian rebels later began uprisings in the East. Since then, 9,700 people have died.