Environment

In eastern Tennessee, officials say a wildfire that tore through resort towns in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains earlier this week killed at least 13 people and destroyed nearly 1,000 structures, according to local officials and the state emergency management agency.

The confirmed death toll in and around the tourist town of Gatlinburg in Sevier County has climbed steadily since the fire raced into town overnight on Monday.

A single tornado can cause a lot of damage. But even worse are tornado outbreaks. Just this week, a cluster of at least 18 tornadoes struck the Southeast over two days.

Scientists are seeing bigger clusters in recent years, and they're struggling to figure out what's happening.

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Princess Cruises will pay a $40 million fine for "deliberate pollution of the seas and intentional acts to cover it up," according to the Department of Justice, which calls it "the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution."

The California-based cruise operator also agreed to plead guilty to seven felony charges over illegal practices on five ships dating back, in at least one case, to 2005.

Calamari is a favorite on American dinner tables. But while the U.S. has a thriving squid industry, chances are the calamari you are eating made a 12,000-mile round trip before ending up on your dinner plate. That, or it wasn't caught in the U.S. at all.

More than 80 percent of U.S. squid landings are exported — most of it to China. The rare percentage of that catch that stays domestically goes to Asian fresh fish markets or is used as bait.

Ironically, the lion's share of the squid consumed in the United States is imported.

The governor of North Dakota says he has not authorized roadblocks or forcible removal of protesters from the area near the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple spoke to reporters in an effort to clarify the implications of an evacuation order he issued earlier this week, which he said had led to "some miscommunication" with local law enforcement.

Millions of years ago, a little beetle lived among beeches and buttercups on a sparely vegetated tundra at the head of a fjord in Antarctica.

The beetle was small — less than a centimeter long — and it was brown with the typical six legs and two antennae attached to a body protected by a hard shell.

An annual study released by the Brazilian government estimates that the rate of deforestation in the Amazon has increased by 29 percent over last year.

That's the second year in a row that deforestation in the Amazon quickened; last year, the pace rose by about 24 percent.

Updated at 5:55 p.m. ET

In eastern Tennessee, deadly wildfires are still burning and authorities say it's still too dangerous for thousands of people to return to their damaged and destroyed homes and businesses.

On Wednesday, authorities in Gatlinburg, Tenn., said the confirmed death toll had grown to seven people, reported The Associated Press. Search and rescue crews from local law enforcement agencies and the National Guard combed through the remains of buildings looking for survivors.

In the current issue of the New York Review of Books, David Kaiser and Lee Wasserman, the president and the director of the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF), respectively, explain why the organization decided to divest its holdings on fossil fuel companies.

Although the divesting decision is broad-ranging, they single out ExxonMobil for its "morally reprehensible conduct."

President-elect Donald Trump says environmental regulations are stifling the U.S. economy. He has vowed to roll back some of those rules, and he's also taken aim at the international climate agreement signed in Paris last year.

Now, environmentalists are getting ready to fight back. Some are soliciting donations by invoking an inevitable legal battle. And environmental attorneys are preparing their defense.

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

Local officials rushed to get people out of towns as a wildfire raced into Tennessee's Sevier County on Monday evening.

At least three people were killed in the blaze, according to The Associated Press, and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said Tuesday morning that at least four people were taken to hospitals with burns.

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Some congressional Republicans won their districts this year by distancing themselves from Donald Trump. So when the new Congress convenes in January, they'll have to figure out how to work with a president they didn't support.

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo is in that group. He's a Republican who won big in a district that also went for Hillary Clinton. Now he faces some challenges in balancing the interests of his constituents while working with a Trump administration.

Several thousand Native Americans and their supporters continued to camp out near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota on Thanksgiving Day.

Citizens of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation set up the Sacred Stone Camp in April to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, which they say would threaten nearby burial sites and the Sioux water supply.

There are a lot of things that make holidays hectic: travel, cooking, making small talk and avoiding questions from your relatives about who you're dating and how school's going. That's typically part of what comes with holidays, but the chaos and disorder that accompany Black Friday, not even a true holiday, are something else.

You may think of ants as picnic pilferers. After all, who hasn't had to ward off ants stealing crumbs from picnic tables or hoarding tiny pieces of food from kitchens? But a new study shows that they're in fact hard working farmers. Or at least one species of ants is. It lives in Fiji and has been farming plants for some 3 million years.

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Strict bans on ivory trade are aimed at preventing elephant poaching. But the state and federal measures are causing unintended consequences for Alaska Natives who legally hunt walruses and carve their tusks for a living.

Among dozens of tables at a recent craft fair in Fairbanks, Alaska, the glitter and gleam of Dennis Pungowiyi's ivory stands out. He has everything from small sculptures of birds to curved cribbage boards etched into tusks.

While North Dakota's Standing Rock Sioux Tribe continues to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline, it's a somewhat different situation 150 miles northwest. There, alongside the same river, pipelines and oil development are for the most part welcomed on a different reservation.

On Fort Berthold, tribal members live right on top of pipelines — more than 4,000 miles crisscross the reservation, home to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara tribes that together call themselves MHA Nation.

A team of atmospheric scientists researching pollution in China say they've cracked a 60-year-old mystery — with research that explains not only the haze over Beijing, but also the remarkably toxic Great Smog of London from 1952.

By examining conditions in China and experimenting in a lab, the scientists suggest that a combination of weather patterns and chemistry could have caused London's fog to turn into a haze of concentrated sulfuric acid.

The good news for those worried that the U.S. will lose its leadership role in confronting climate change: President-elect Donald Trump said Tuesday, "I have an open mind to it. ... I do have an open mind."

At a meeting Tuesday with New York Times journalists and executives, Trump said he thinks "there is some connectivity" in terms of human activity causing climate change.

A woman protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline who was wounded earlier this week might lose her arm as a result of the injury, her family says. Sophia Wilansky's injury is the most gruesome to date of the months-long standoff at Standing Rock, N.D.

"The doctor just said she may need as many as 20 surgeries over very many months to have any hope of saving her arm and her hand," Wilansky's father, Wayne Wilansky, told a group of reporters outside a Minneapolis hospital.

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India may be overtaking China as the world's most polluted country. Even now, which country is worse depends on the day. NPR's Julie McCarthy joins us from New Delhi with new figures about the city's horrific smog, if she can talk through the smog. Hi, Julie.

When the asteroid believed to have killed off the dinosaurs smashed into Earth some 66 million years ago, its sheer force made the planet's surface momentarily act like a liquid.

The asteroid ripped open a 60-mile-wide hole. From miles deep in that abyss, rock hurtled upward to a height twice that of Mount Everest and then collapsed outward to form a ring of mountains.

And it all happened within 5 minutes — 10 tops, as Sean Gulick, a geophysicist at the University of Texas, Austin, tells The Two-Way.

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