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In South America’s Andes, a shrinking Lake Titicaca rings climate alarm bell

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In South America's Andes, a shrinking Lake Titicaca rings climate alarm bell
© Reuters. Alex Flores walks on a dry area of Lake Titicaca, Latin America’s largest freshwater basin, as it is edging towards record low levels, on Cojata Island, Bolivia October 26, 2023. REUTERS/Claudia Morales/File Photo

By Monica Machicao and Sergio Limachi

COJATA, Bolivia (Reuters) – The exposed cracked floors of parts of Lake Titicaca, South America’s largest body of fresh water and the highest navigable lake in the world nestled amid the Andes mountains, are an alarming sight for local farmer Manuel Flores.

His crops are parched, nearby water wells have dried up amid a long spell of drought, and his livestock are struggling. Like many who live on or around the lake, he used to get around easily by boat. Now he walks across the dried-up lake bed.

The lake, once seen as a deity by the pre-Columbian people that lived on its shores, is an important ecosystem for wildlife and a water source for millions of people, including in the city of El Alto, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) to the east.

But its water levels are now reaching record lows, worsened by the El Nino weather phenomenon that means less rain in the area, compounding a long dry spell and rare high temperatures.

Scientists say such extreme weather is becoming increasingly common globally because of climate change, which also intensifies the effects of El Nino.

“I am 50 years old. Never before has Lake Titicaca dried up like it is now. This affects us, because there is no more food for our livestock and we cannot travel by boat,” said farmer Flores. “Now we have to walk and our crops no longer exist because it hasn’t rained since last year.”

The drought is approaching critical levels for the region’s agriculture, farmers and experts said. If it does not rain by early December there will be no planting of potatoes, one of the food staples for Bolivia’s rural communities and cities.

Around the lake, especially in the smaller and shallower “Lago Menor,” the waters have receded from the shoreline, partly due to the lack of rains, high temperatures and receding of the Andean glaciers, whose melt water normally feeds the lake.

Experts say many of the factors contributing to the shrinking of Lake Titicaca could be linked to climate change.

“Ninety-five percent of the water loss from the lake is due to evaporation, which shows that this is totally or almost totally caused by climate change,” said Xavier Lazzaro, an aquatic systems specialist with French research institute IRD.

‘GOING DOWN CENTIMETER BY CENTIMETER’

According to MapBiomas Agua, which has monitored changes in surface water bodies in the area for two decades, Bolivia overall has seen a 39% drop in its natural surface waters, such as rivers and lagoons, between 1985 and 2022.

The decline comes with global temperatures hitting record highs, which has impacted rivers, lakes and glaciers from the United States to Asia.

“There are many factors, many causes,” said Rodney Camargo, an official at local NGO Friends of Nature Foundation (FAN).

“On one hand we have local causes that we know about: deforestation, fires, human activity, large dams, which have an effect. In global terms we have climate change, and phenomena such as El Nino and La Nina, which cause floods and droughts.”

Back at Lake Titicaca, Fredy Aruquipa, the person in charge of monitoring the lake’s water level, watches it decline daily.

“The water is going down centimeter by centimeter,” he said.

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Iridium secures $200M loan to boost share buybacks

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Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:) announced today that it has initiated a $200 million incremental term loan under the same terms as its existing $1.62 billion credit agreement. The company, a key player in the communications equipment sector, plans to use the additional funds to expedite its share repurchase program and for other general corporate purposes.

The new loan will be marketed with the backing of Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE:) New York Branch, which also serves as the Administrative and Collateral Agent. Joining the arrangement are Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., Barclays Bank PLC, Royal Bank of Canada, and Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, as Joint Lead Arrangers and Bookrunners.

Iridium’s move to secure additional capital comes as part of its strategy to enhance shareholder value through an accelerated share buyback plan. The company’s decision to allocate funds for this purpose reflects its commitment to managing its capital structure proactively.

This financial maneuver is disclosed in compliance with Regulation FD, which ensures that all investors receive key financial information simultaneously. The disclosure was made through an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, providing transparency and allowing investors to assess the company’s financial decisions.

The McLean, Virginia-based Iridium, which operates under the jurisdiction of Delaware with a fiscal year ending on December 31, has not disclosed further details regarding the timeline or specific terms of the share repurchases.

The information in this article is based on a press release statement from Iridium Communications Inc. and serves to inform investors of the company’s latest financial activity. The strategic financial steps taken by Iridium are part of its broader efforts to optimize its operations and enhance shareholder returns.

In other recent news, Iridium Communications Inc. has reported positive second-quarter results, including a 5% growth in service revenue and an increase of 80,000 in its subscriber base. The company’s full-year guidance remains on track, forecasting continued growth in service revenue and EBITDA.

Significant contributors to this positive outlook include a $90 million 5-year contract with the U.S. government, a strong position in alternative Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) services, and advancements in IoT technology.

Iridium is also expanding its device and service offerings through its unique satellite network, with projections of record revenue in 2024 from its collaborations with the U.S. Space Development Agency. The company has also secured a reduction in annual interest expenses by $4 million due to term loan repricing and has increased its quarterly dividend through aggressive share repurchasing.

In terms of future expectations, Iridium is focused on expanding its IoT technology and lowering the cost of end-user devices. The company is also bullish on its satellite-based time and location service, expecting it to generate over $100 million in annual service revenue by 2030. These are all recent developments that investors should take into consideration.

InvestingPro Insights

Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) has shown a proactive approach to shareholder value, as evidenced by their recent move to secure an additional $200 million loan to fund an accelerated share repurchase program. This strategy aligns with InvestingPro Tips that highlight management’s aggressive buyback policy and the anticipation of net income growth this year. With a solid gross profit margin of 71.91% in the last twelve months as of Q1 2024 and a notable EBITDA growth of 4.67%, Iridium is demonstrating its operational efficiency.

The company’s current market capitalization stands at $3.29 billion, and despite a high P/E ratio of 39.44, which suggests a premium valuation, the company’s liquid assets exceeding short-term obligations indicate a strong liquidity position.

Moreover, analysts have revised their earnings upwards for the upcoming period, which may signal confidence in the company’s future performance. For investors seeking more in-depth analysis and additional InvestingPro Tips, there are 10 more tips available, which can be explored further with a special offer. Use coupon code PRONEWS24 to get up to 10% off a yearly Pro and a yearly or biyearly Pro+ subscription at InvestingPro.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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Protests and politics as Netanyahu addresses US Congress

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By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Dozens of Democratic lawmakers planned to skip Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress on Wednesday, expressing dismay over the thousands of civilian deaths and the humanitarian crisis from Israel’s campaign in Gaza.

The longtime Israeli leader will make a record fourth speech to a joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), passing British wartime leader Winston Churchill, who made three such speeches.

Netanyahu’s speech was expected to focus on coordinating the Israeli and U.S. response to the volatile situation in the Middle East, where there is a growing danger of the Gaza war spilling over into a wider regional conflict.

He was also expected to call for stronger action against Iran, which supports Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah, both militant groups fighting Israel, and has drawn increased U.S. condemnation over its recent nuclear advances.

Republican leaders in Congress orchestrated the visit, but it was likely to be less confrontational than in 2015 when Republicans sidestepped then-President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and Netanyahu used his speech to criticize Obama’s Iran policy.

This time, Netanyahu will seek to bolster his traditional links to Republicans but also look to ease tensions with President Joe Biden, a Democrat whose support he will rely on for the remaining six months of the president’s term.

Washington is preoccupied with the fallout from Biden’s announcement on Sunday that he was ending his reelection bid and endorsing Vice President Kamala Harris for the Democratic presidential nomination to challenge Republican Donald Trump.

SOME LAWMAKERS STAY AWAY

Some lawmakers said they were uncomfortable about appearing to endorse Netanyahu and his hard-right coalition government as he faces declining poll numbers in Israel.

“For him, this is all about shoring up his support back home, which is one of the reasons I don’t want to attend,” Senator Chris Van Hollen told reporters. “I don’t want to be part of a political prop in this act of deception. He is not the great guardian of the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

A Republican House member, Representative Thomas Massie, also said he would not attend. “The purpose of having Netanyahu address Congress is to bolster his political standing in Israel and to quell int’l opposition to his war. I don’t feel like being a prop so I won’t be attending,” he wrote on X.

Some of the most prominent Democrats planned to stay away. They included Senators Dick Durbin, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, Tim Kaine, Jeff Merkley and Brian Schatz, all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Patty Murray, who chairs Senate Appropriations.

In the House, those staying away included progressive Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as Ami Bera, a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and Adam Smith, the top Democrat on Armed Services.

Smith said he never attends joint meetings but also described himself on Tuesday as “very, very opposed to what Prime Minister Netanyahu is doing in Israel.” 

Harris, who normally would preside over the speech as vice president, will not be attending. Neither will Republican Senator JD (NASDAQ:) Vance, Trump’s vice presidential running mate.

Murray would have presided, as the senior Senate Democrat, in Harris’ absence. Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, who leads the foreign relations committee, will replace her.

NETANYAHU TO MEET BIDEN, HARRIS ON THURSDAY

Netanyahu will meet both Biden and Harris on Thursday. Harris has at times been more forward-leaning than her boss in criticizing Israel for heavy Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza.

Netanyahu was to travel to Florida to meet with Trump on Friday. The meeting will be their first since the end of Trump’s presidency, during which the two forged close ties.

Before addressing Congress, Netanyahu spoke at a memorial for Senator Joe Lieberman, who died in March, stressing the lawmaker’s view that Israel must be allowed to achieve its goal of “disabling Hamas” and that the U.S. and Israel had a shared interest in a united front against Iran.

Several hundred activists staged a demonstration on Tuesday at a congressional office building, and mass protests were promised for Wednesday. The Capitol building was surrounded by high fencing and a heavy security presence.

Some protesters were out on Wednesday hours before Netanyahu’s speech, holding signs including, “Stop War Crimes in Gaza.” Dozens of Washington streets were closed, with some neighborhoods patrolled by New York City police officers.

Some Democrats said they were attending despite their concerns. 

© Reuters. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators protest, on the day of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024. REUTERS/Seth Herald

“I sit in that chair that I was elected to sit in on days that I enjoy it and days that are iffy and days that I despise it or a mix of the latter two. But I’m elected to be in that seat,” Representative Dan Kildee said.

    “My constituents didn’t elect me to show up only when I enjoy what I’m hearing. If I did that I would spend very little time on the floor of the House.”

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NSTS Bancorp reaches 52-week high, hitting $10.48

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NSTS Bancorp, a prominent player in the banking sector, has recently hit a 52-week high, reaching a price level of $10.48. This milestone marks a significant achievement for the company, reflecting its robust performance and strong market position. Over the past year, NSTS Bancorp has demonstrated a remarkable growth trajectory, with a 1-year change of 12.83%. This positive trend underscores the company’s resilience and adaptability in a dynamic market environment. Investors and market watchers are keeping a close eye on NSTS Bancorp, as it continues to navigate the financial landscape with strategic acumen and operational efficiency.

InvestingPro Insights

NSTS Bancorp’s recent surge to a 52-week high is a testament to its market performance, yet a deeper look through InvestingPro metrics reveals a more nuanced picture. With a market capitalization of $51.15 million, the company is a smaller player in the banking sector. Despite achieving a 1-year price total return of 11.25%, NSTS Bancorp grapples with challenges such as weak gross profit margins and a lack of profitability over the last twelve months. Additionally, the stock’s current price is hovering close to this peak, trading at 99.33% of its 52-week high. Investors considering NSTS Bancorp should note that while the stock exhibits low price volatility, it does not offer dividend payouts, which could be a significant factor for those seeking income-generating investments.

For a comprehensive understanding of NSTS Bancorp’s financial health and stock performance, consider the InvestingPro Tips which reveal that the stock is currently in overbought territory according to the RSI, and the company’s P/E ratio stands at -10.89, indicating that it may be overvalued given its lack of recent profitability. To explore additional insights and gain access to exclusive metrics, visit https://www.investing.com/pro/NSTS. There are 5 more InvestingPro Tips available for NSTS Bancorp, which can be accessed with a subscription. Use coupon code PRONEWS24 for up to 10% off a yearly Pro and a yearly or biyearly Pro+ subscription.

This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor. For more information see our T&C.

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