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US to build regional hubs to fight climate change
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 05, 2014

Shorts banned in Brazil heat, worker opts for skirt
Rio De Janeiro (AFP) Feb 05, 2014 - Faced with searing heat, no air conditioning and a ban on wearing shorts to work, a male civil servant in Rio swapped his trousers for his wife's skirt.

Andre Amaral Silva, 41, decided to take sartorial action as the thermometer Tuesday hit 40.8 (105.4 Fahrenheit) and picked out a long black skirt from his wife's wardrobe.

He then sent up the picture to Facebook, whereupon some 5,000 people shared it within hours and by Wednesday Silva was in the newspapers.

The draftsman said the caretaker of the building where he works had tried to prevent him entering dressed as he was.

He retorted that "if women are allowed (to wear a skirt) then I am too."

Even then, it took an administrator to confirm that "wearing a skirt is permitted."

Silva told O Globo daily: "It was all resolved very easily. People end up obeying rules without knowing where they come from.

"We are without air conditioning and even in this heat it hasn't been repaired," he explained.

Silva added the skirt proved so comfortable he is thinking of not giving it back to his wife.

The head of the Rio judiciary, Leila Mariana, last month ruled that lawyers on duty in Rio state need not swelter in full regalia given the excessive heat.

But shorts were banned and long trousers and long-sleeved shirts remain de rigueur as do full suit and tie for when courts are in session.

The United States government announced a new system of regional hubs to tackle the effects of climate change on Wednesday as the country's southwest battle a historic drought.

The hubs "will address increasing risks such as fires, invasive pests, devastating floods, and crippling droughts on a regional basis," said a statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The idea is "to translate science and research into information to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners on ways to adapt and adjust their resource management," it explained.

There will be seven centers, bringing together federal agencies with state officials, researchers, non-governmental organizations, farm groups and more, it added.

In January, California declared a state of emergency due to what could be the worst drought in a century for the state -- and which has prompted fears of lost harvests and devastating forest fires.

The western state's rivers and reservoirs have hit record lows, with only 20 percent of the normal average supplies of water from melting snowpack, which flows down from the Sierra Nevada.

And across the southwest, water levels at several reservoirs, including Lake Mead, which serves Las Vegas, are also extremely low.

Fighting climate change was among President Barack Obama's big campaign promises during his 2008 campaign, but the issue was put on the back burner after a bill failed to pass during his first term, when his Democratic party held majorities in both houses of Congress.

The measures announced by Vilsack follow up on Obama's remarks in his State of the Union address on January 28. Repeating that "climate change is a fact," the president promised to take action unilaterally, without looking to Congress, to promote his agenda.


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