AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1847410 times)

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Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Reply #14505 on: November 08, 2019, 08:03:15 PM »
A wheel is a perfect machine I guess. But maybe it can be improved?

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🎡 Reinventing the Wheel
« Reply #14506 on: November 08, 2019, 09:26:34 PM »
A wheel is a perfect machine I guess. But maybe it can be improved?

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Syrian soldiers are seen deploying in an oil-rich area in the countryside of Qamishli, northeastern Hasakah province, Syria, on Nov. 5, 2019. The Syrian army on Tuesday deployed in new areas rich in oil fields in the countryside of Hasakah province in northeastern Syria, the latest progress in the overall deployment of the Syrian army in Kurdish-held areas near the border with Turkey.

"This is not a new mission."

Pentagon officials asserted Thursday U.S. military authority over Syrian oil fields because U.S. forces are acting under the goal of "protecting Americans from terrorist activity" and would be within their rights to shoot a representative of the Syrian government who attempted to retake control over that country's national resource.

The comments came from Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman and Navy Rear Admiral William D. Byrne Jr. during a press briefing in which the two men were asked repeatedly about the legal basis the U.S. is claiming to control Syrian oil fields.

The briefing came less than two weeks after Defense Secretary Mark Esper said, "That's our mission, to secure the oil fields" in the Deir ez-Zor area of eastern Syria. President Donald Trump's comments before and after that remark —"We're going to be protecting [the oil], and we'll be deciding what we're going to do with it in the future," and "The oil... can help us, because we should be able to take some"— were seized on by critics who claimed Trump was suggesting violating international law by plundering another country's resources and openly saying the U.S. was pursuing war for oil.

Hoffman, in his comments Thursday, gave a different message—that "the revenue from this is not going to the U.S. This is going to the SDF," referring to the Kurdish-led and U.S.-allied Syrian Democratic Forces, who are battling ISIS. Byrne claimed that the U.S. has been waging the oil field control mission alongside SDF and that the goal was to prevent ISIS from obtaining the oil revenue.

But, as one reporter pointed out, ISIS fighters "have no armor. They have no aircraft."

"Do they have the capability to actually seize the oil fields?" the reporter asked. "And isn't this really about Russia and Syria seizing those oil fields?"

Hoffman replied that the goal was "to prevent a resurgence" of ISIS which would be facilitated if the terrorist group had access to the oil revenue.

When the Pentagon officials were pressed on whether "U.S. troops have the... authorization to shoot if a representative of the Syrian government comes to the.. oil fields and says, 'I am here to take property of these oil fields,'" Byrne said, "our commanders always retain the right and the obligation of self-defense when faced with a hostile act or demonstrated hostile intent."

The officials were reminded by a reporter that "the government of Syria is still, based on international law... [the] recognized legitimate government." Hoffman said, "Everyone in the region knows where American forces are. We're very clear with anyone in the region in working to deconflict where our forces are. If anyone—we work to ensure that... no one approaches or has—shows hostile intent to our forces, and if they do, our commanders maintain the right of self-defense."

Hoffman later said that the oil field mission couldnt be separated from the fight to defeat ISIS. Operations in "Syria are done under the commander-in-chief's authorities to—with regards to protecting Americans from terrorist activity."

Pressed again by a reporter about the "legal basis for... the United States military to take and control the natural resources inside the boundaries of another country," Hoffman responded, "the legal basis for this comes under the commander-in-chief's authority for us to be conducting counter-terrorism efforts against D-ISIS. And I —I get your point when you're trying to decouple the ISIS issue from the Syria issue, but it is not a decoupled issue."

Later Hoffman was asked by a reporter if "President Trump [has] legal authority to take over these oil fields or is the United States stealing the oil?"

Hoffman repeated his stance that the operations were a part of the effort to defeat terrorists and stopping "ISIS from obtaining the oil fields is an effort to prevent them from obtaining revenue so that they can fund their terrorist operations globally."

The Pentagon official also appeared to push back against the notion that the mission to control the oil fields is new. "Just to be clear, we've been in this area with the same mission of preventing ISIS from getting those oil fields for the last four years. This is not a new mission. Everybody seems to be—believe that that has changed. That is not —that is not the case."

U.S. forces may also stay with that effort for years to come, Hoffman suggested.

"We're committed to [the defeat of ISIS], and we're committed to staying in the region," he said. "We're committed to, in this particular case, having troops in Syria in a way that helps us continue the D-ISIS mission as long as we believe it's necessary."

Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Global leaders are facing one of the scariest years of climate change yet
« Reply #14508 on: November 09, 2019, 05:34:46 AM »

Reports detailing the massive environmental, economic, and human consequences of unfettered global warming have come at a fast and furious pace.

One year ago, the international scientific community could hardly have expected that Greta Thunberg, a teenager from Sweden, would become one of its greatest allies. Since beginning her weekly “School Strike for the Climate,” the petite 16-year-old has skillfully used her public appearances and powerful social media presence to push for bolder global action to reduce carbon emissions.

“Again and again, the same message,” she tweeted recently. “Listen to the scientists, listen to the scientists. Listen to the scientists!”

Well, what are the scientists saying?

The answer, of course, is that they have been warning about severe global impacts from climate change for more than three decades. But over the past 12 months those warnings have intensified. Reports detailing the massive environmental, economic, and human consequences of unfettered global warming have come at a fast and furious pace. And, collectively, they are far scarier than the sum of their parts. (Click here to see a rundown.)

The deluge began last October, with the release of a special report from the United Nations’ global climate science authority, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on the potential impacts of a rise in global temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius or more. Three international IPCC working groups with 91 authors and editors from 40 countries examined 6,000-plus scientific studies and called for “global carbon dioxide emissions (to) start to decline well before 2030” to avoid the most severe consequences of global warming. It said “global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.”

The release of the report provided a “breakthrough” moment in public consciousness and press coverage, with countless soundbites, headlines, and images warning of a “12-year” deadline to head off “climate change catastrophe.” The “12-year” catchphrase was even more alarming than the IPCC’s already strong admonitions. The planet won’t implode in 2030, but further delays in major global actions will make it increasingly difficult to move to a low-carbon world.

In November, the United States’ Fourth National Climate Assessment, produced by government and outside experts, reinforced the gloom-and-doom message of the October IPCC report. “Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth,” it warned. The Trump administration’s attempt to minimize media coverage of America’s climate report card by releasing it on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, backfired: The congressionally mandated report got double coverage as both an environmental and a political story.

The dire news didn’t abate as 2018 drew to a close. A December report from the World Health Organization (WHO) said that emissions from fossil fuel-powered electricity, transportation, and other sources are “a major contributor to health-damaging air pollution, which every year kills over seven million people.” It called extreme weather events linked to human-caused climate change “a clear and present danger to health security” and concluded the health benefits of addressing climate change “far outweigh the costs of meeting climate change goals.”

Just as the disastrous future impacts of climate change were coming into clearer focus, we also received sobering news about the present. Last December, the Global Carbon Project projected that carbon dioxide emissions worldwide reached an all-time high in 2018, up more than two percent after three years of almost no growth. A January 2019 US Energy Information Administration (EIA) report estimated an increase of nearly 3% in 2018 energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, the largest jump since 2010—reversing a trend that had seen three consecutive years of decline. The EIA estimated that total US emissions would fall in 2019, and that prediction appears to be bearing out, due to a drop in coal consumption. However, total global carbon dioxide emissions will see a rise again for 2019, says Stanford University’s Rob Jackson, who chairs the Global Carbon Project’s Scientific Steering Committee.

Alarm bells about climate change impacts in the Arctic sounded throughout the year. In April, a NASA-funded study of the Greenland ice sheet, published online on Earth Day, found the mass loss of ice discharged into the ocean from glaciers on the world’s largest island had increased six-fold since the 1980s. Meanwhile, sea level had risen nearly 14 millimeters since 1972, with half of that in the last eight years. (Later, a severe mid-summer Arctic heat wave contributed to historic melting of the Greenland ice sheet, with 12.5 billion tons of ice melting into the ocean on a single day—the “biggest single-day volume loss on record,” according to the Washington Post.)

A little-publicized Stanford University study, also released on Earth Day, found that global warming from fossil fuel use “very likely exacerbated global economic inequality” over the past 50 years. The study’s authors found that warming has likely enhanced economic growth in cooler, wealthier countries while dampening economic growth in hotter, poorer countries.

In May, a landmark UN biodiversity report provided another stark statistic: One million animal and plant species on Earth are threatened with extinction, and rates of extinction are “accelerating.” The report gave a devastating assessment of how climate change and global economic development over the past 50 years have impacted nature and threatened the health of ecosystems important to humans and all other species. The report’s research underpinnings are strong: a systematic review of some 15,000 scientific and government sources that also includes indigenous and local knowledge.

In August, on the heels of record-breaking global heat waves, from South Korea to northern Norway, another major IPCC special report called attention to land-related climate change threats. It found that “climate change, including increases in frequency and intensity of extremes, has adversely impacted food security and terrestrial ecosystems as well as contributed to desertification and land degradation in many regions” of the world. The report recommended sustainable land development and adaptation practices to combat further destruction.

The highly anticipated September 23 UN Climate Action Summit in New York brought additional climate reports. On September 22, the UN Summit’s Science Advisory Group released United in Science, an ambitious synthesis connecting the dots between “the very latest authoritative” science and “concrete actions” to “halt the worst effects of climate change.” The IPCC released a post-summit blockbuster report outlining profound changes underway in the Earth’s oceans and frozen regions, including glaciers and ice sheets. The report concluded that warming oceans, melting ice, and rising sea levels are already affecting everything from coral reefs to the nearly 10% of the global population living in low-lying coastal areas—and negative impacts will greatly worsen in the future.

The oceans report capped 12 months of overwhelming scientific evidence of global climate change hazards. The consistent message is that severe climate-change damage is already well underway; some impacts will be long-lasting or irreversible; the damage disproportionately hits vulnerable populations; and combatting climate change will require unprecedented economic, social, and technological transformation. But, crucially, the reports say it is likely not too late to prevent the worst effects of global warming by adopting meaningful adaptation and mitigation strategies.

So, where does this leave us? I’d argue that, more than anything, we’re left with a heightened sense of urgency, as well as uncertainty, about immediate and forthcoming climate dangers. For many years, coverage of climate science reports had an implicit future tense, as in, “It’s a problem for your grandchildren.” Alas, the future came faster than science had predicted, and the world is now confronted with the reality of climate change-related extreme weather events and other threats. The frightening wildfires now racing through Southern and Northern California show what this climate-related new reality looks like for the country’s most populous state.

The upcoming UN Climate Change Conference—the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the UN climate treaty—will once again put pressure on delegates from nearly 200 nations to deliver concrete action on promises made under the 2015 Paris Agreement. (COP25 was set to be held in Santiago in early December before the Chilean government abruptly pulled out of hosting the event.) The disappointing substantive and political outcomes of the September summit in New York, particularly the lack of stronger commitments from big carbon emitters like China, India, and the US, mean expectations are low. The leadership vacuum left by American President Trump, with his strident pro-fossil-fuel rhetoric and planned exit from the Paris Agreement, makes things worse.

But don’t underestimate the persistence of Greta Thunberg and the growing Fridays for Future youth movement she inspired. An estimated 7.6 million people protested worldwide during September’s UN Climate Week. Strike organizers are planning a major global protest on Black Friday directed at COP25 decision-makers.

In her emotional speech at the UN Climate Action Summit, Thunberg chastised world leaders for failing to act on climate change: “For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.” Her angry phrase “How Dare You?” went viral on social media, and millions viewed the video of Thunberg’s speech on YouTube. This plucky young activist is likely to deliver a similarly strong message at COP25, pushing the scientific case for significant government action now to help protect her generation and others in the future.

Will the world leaders at COP25 be listening, and what will they do?
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

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Important breakthroughs have arrived at the United Nations seeking to prevent an arms race in outer space and create a nuclear weapons-free Middle East. There are just two main obstacles: the United States and Israel.

While Washington and corporate media outlets portray China and Russia as aggressive warmongering rogue states, their votes at the UN show which nations are actually expanding dangerous militarism into new frontiers.

China and Russia joined dozens of other countries in sponsoring resolutions at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) that sought to prevent armed conflict in space. Most of the international community supported these historic peace measures. The only consistent outliers were the US and Israel.

Beijing and Moscow have been leading global efforts to stop the use of weapons in space. Meanwhile, Washington has unilaterally blocked the international consensus on preventing the deadly space race.

Moreover, as nearly all UN member states have united in calling for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons, the US and Israel have singlehandedly undermined their peace efforts.

This roguish behavior predates the election of President Donald Trump.

At the UNGA on November 7, almost every country in the world also voted to end the US embargo against Cuba. This was the 28th year in row that the international community united in calling for the American noose to be taken off the neck of the Cuban people.

While 187 member states supported the resolution demanding an end to the blockade, the US, Israel, and Brazil’s far-right government were the lone nations to oppose it. American allies Colombia and Ukraine abstained.

Washington’s UN votes show who truly is a rogue state.

Entire world wants nuclear weapons-free Middle East — except for USA and Israel
The UNGA’s First Committee, which oversees disarmament and international security, voted on November 1 to overwhelmingly approve a draft resolution entitled “Establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the region of the Middle East.”

A staggering 172 countries voted in support of this resolution. Only two nations voted against it: the US and Israel. Just two more countries abstained: the United Kingdom and Cameroon.

At the same meeting, the First Committee approved a draft resolution on “The risk of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East,” which called for the region to abide by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Given Israel is the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, the UNGA resolution called on Tel Aviv to join the NPT (Israel has long refused to sign the treaty), and demanded that Israeli nuclear facilities be overseen by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

The draft resolution was also overwhelmingly approved, with 151 votes in support and a mere six votes against — from the US, Israel, and Canada, along with the tiny island nations of Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands, which function as vassals of Washington at the UN.

American and Israeli votes against resolutions to prevent an arms race in outer space
On November 5, the UNGA’s First Committee approved four resolutions “aimed at averting the militarization of outer space.”

Once again, the United States and Israel stood alone against the entire international community.

One draft resolution was titled “Prevention of an arms race in outer space.” The measure was jointly introduced by 20 nations in the Global South, including China, Cuba, Bolivia, Algeria, Congo, and Syria.

All present UN member states, 175 nations, voted in support of this resolution. The only two that opposed it were, yet again, Washington and Tel Aviv.

The committee voted on another draft resolution advancing “further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space.” This was jointly introduced by 23 countries, including China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Iran, Algeria, Armenia, South Africa, and Syria.

The resolution passed with 124 vote in favor, with 41 votes against and 10 abstentions.

Another draft resolution titled “No first placement of weapons in outer space” was introduced by 17 countries, including China, Russia, Cuba, Bolivia, Vietnam, North Korea, Algeria, and Syria.

This passed with 123 votes in support, 14 votes in opposition, and 40 abstentions.

Finally, the fourth draft resolution opposed to the militarization of space, titled “Transparency and confidence‑building measures in outer space activities,” was jointly introduced by five countries: China, Russia, Cuba, Suriname, and Syria.

The vast majority of member states supported the resolution, with 166 votes in favor. Once more, the US and Israel were the only nations to vote against it. Another five US allies abstained: the UK, Australia, Ukraine, Georgia, and Palau.

While the United States actively tried to sabotage international attempts at arms control and demilitarization of space, Washington’s favorite bogeymen pushed for diplomacy and peace.

Beijing emphasized in a previous meeting of the First Committee on October 31 that China and Russia had jointly proposed a “treaty on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space, the threat or use of force against outer space objects.”

Moscow’s representative said at the meeting “that Western countries are actively promoting the concept of competition in space — while simultaneously suggesting that competition will lead to a crisis in which violence will be required.”

In the November 5 meeting, Russia’s representative argued that the “United States is trying to impose its rules and the idea of domination from outer space and could target objects under the excuse of combatting debris.”

Cuba pointed out that it was just one country — the US — that blocked a consensus in the UN Group of Governmental Exerts on “further effective measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space.” Washington strongly opposed attempts to create a legally binding treaty that would prohibit the deployment of weapons in space.

Venezuela’s UN representative said “she regretted to highlight the destructive actions of certain countries that cause division and undermine progress while unilaterally proclaiming war‑like intentions in outer space.”

Syria’s call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons
While the United States government and corporate media outlets portray Syria as a bloodthirsty rogue regime, Damascus helped lead calls for a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East, while Washington and Tel Aviv stood alone.

On November 4, the UN General Assembly’s First Committee deliberated nuclear and chemicals weapons.

At the meeting, Syria voted for the draft resolution supporting the “establishment of a nuclear‑weapon‑free zone in the region of the Middle East.” Damascus’ representative emphasized that “Syria was among the first to call for a Middle East free of atomic bombs.”

“Israel will never accede to the Non‑Proliferation Treaty as long as the United States and others protect its related weapons programs,” the Syrian diplomat added.

While the US and Israel have accused Syria of using chemical weapons, Damascus shot back saying, “Israel possesses chemical weapons, has used biological and radiological arms against Palestine and Syria, and has facilitated related shipments to terrorists.”

“The use of weapons of mass destruction is reprehensible and immoral,” the Syrian representative added, reiterating his call for a region free of such weapons.

The Syrian diplomat added, “the Israeli regime supports terrorist organizations by supplying them with toxic chemical weapons. Meanwhile, Turkey has allowed terrorists onto its territory to be trained in the use of chemical weapons, and that the representative of the United States tried to evade his country’s responsibility in training terrorists in the use of chemical weapons.”

The UN is holding a meeting called the “Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction” in its headquarters in New York from November 18 to 22.

This conference had been proposed in October 2018 by the entire Arab League, which includes Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, the Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and the State of Palestine.

A majority of UN member states, 103, voted in favor of the conference, including China, Russia, and most of the Global South; while 71 countries abstained, including most Western countries.

Once again, just three countries voted against the anti-nuclear weapons conference: the US, Israel, and Micronesia.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Ayodhya verdict: Indian top court gives holy site to Hindus
« Reply #14510 on: November 09, 2019, 06:02:46 AM »
The disputed holy site of Ayodhya in northern India should be given to Hindus who want a temple built there, the country's Supreme Court has ruled.

The case, which has been bitterly contested for decades by Hindus and Muslims, centres on the ownership of the land in Uttar Pradesh state.

Muslims would get another plot of land to construct a mosque, the court said.

Many Hindus believe the site is the birthplace of one of their most revered deities, Lord Ram.

Muslims say they have worshipped there for generations.

At the centre of the row is the 16th Century Babri mosque which was demolished by Hindu mobs in 1992, sparking riots that killed nearly 2,000 people.

What did the court say?
In the unanimous verdict, the court said that a report by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) provided evidence that the remains of a building "that was not Islamic" was beneath the structure of the demolished Babri mosque.

The court said that, given all the evidence presented, it had determined that the disputed land should be given to Hindus for a temple to Lord Ram, while Muslims would be given land elsewhere to construct a mosque.

It then directed the federal government to set up a trust to manage and oversee the construction of the temple.

However, the court added that the demolition of the Babri mosque was against the rule of law.

What has the reaction to the verdict been?
Despite warnings by authorities not to celebrate the verdict, BBC correspondents in court say they heard chants of "Jai Shree Ram" (Hail Lord Ram) outside as the judgement was pronounced.

"It's a very balanced judgement and it is a victory for people of India," a lawyer for one of the Hindu parties told reporters soon after.

Initially, a representative for the Muslim litigants said they were not satisfied and would decide whether to ask for a review after they had read the whole judgement.

However, the main group of litigants has now said that it will not appeal against the verdict.

Outside the court, the situation has been largely calm.

Hundreds of people were detained in Ayodhya on Friday ahead of the verdict, amid fears of violence.

Thousands of police officers have also been deployed in the city, while shops and colleges have been shut until Monday.

The government issued an order banning the publication of images of the destruction of the Babri mosque.

Social media platforms are being monitored for inflammatory content, with police even replying to tweets and asking users to delete them.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi reacted to the verdict on Twitter and said that it should not be seen as a "win or loss for anybody".

What was arguably one of the world's most contentious property dispute has finally come to an end.

The dispute over the plot has polarised, frustrated and exhausted India.

The reason is that this is not a humdrum civil matter. It was touched by faith (Hindus believe the plot was the birthplace of Lord Ram, a revered deity) violence (the demolition of the mosque in 1992) and subterfuge (idols of Lord Ram were placed in the mosque surreptitiously in 1949).

Saturday's unanimous judgement by the five most senior judges of the court will hopefully lead to some reconciliation that the country badly needs.

The verdict showed "judicial craftsmanship and statesmanship where the letter of the law was adhered to, but the relief was moulded, taking into account the ground realities," lawyer Sanjay Hegde told me. The judges appear to have gone by the evidence laid before it. "They have applied a plaster. Let's not reopen the wounds," Mr Hegde added.

Will the verdict lead to a closure of past animosities and help close India's deepening religious fissures? Only time will tell.

For the moment, India's main communities need to avoid triumphalism - because eventually there are no victors and vanquished, in what is essentially a contestation of faith.

What is the row actually about?
Many Hindus believe the Babri Masjid was actually constructed on the ruins of a Hindu temple that was demolished by Muslim invaders in the 16th Century.

Muslims say they offered prayers at the mosque until December 1949 when some Hindus placed an idol of Ram in the mosque and began to worship the idols.

The two religious groups have gone to court many times over who should control the site.

Since then, there have been calls to build a temple on the spot where the mosque once stood.

Hinduism is India's majority religion and is thought to be more than 4,000 years old. India's first Islamic dynasty was established in the early 13th Century.

Have religious tensions eased in India in recent years?
Ever since the Narendra Modi-led Hindu nationalist BJP first came to power in 2014, India has seen deepening social and religious divisions.

The call for the construction of a Hindu temple in Ayodhya has grown particularly loud, and has mostly come from MPs, ministers and leaders from the BJP since it took office.

Restrictions on the sale and slaughter of cows - considered a holy animal by the majority Hindus - have led to vigilante killings of a number of people, most of them Muslims who were transporting cattle.

An uninhibited display of muscular Hindu nationalism in other areas has also contributed to religious tension.

Most recently, the country's home minister Amit Shah said he would remove "illegal migrants" - understood to be Muslim - from the country through a government scheme that was used recently in the north-eastern state of Assam.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Oil spill threatens vast areas of mangroves and coral reefs in Brazil
« Reply #14511 on: November 09, 2019, 06:13:57 AM »

Brazilian fisherwoman Valeria Maria de Alcantara removes spilled crude oil from mangroves, in Cabo de Santo Agostinho, Pernambuco state.

Pollution stretches across 2,400km of coastline, with scientists fearing contamination of food chain

Hundreds of kilometres of mangroves and coral reefs, as well as humpback whale breeding grounds, are under threat from an oil spill that has polluted more than 2,400km of Brazil’s north-eastern coast in the last two months.

The Brazilian Navy, which has deployed 8,500 personnel, 30 ships and 17 aircraft in the cleanup operation, said this week that 4,200 tonnes of oil have been removed from beaches, amid fears by scientists that some has already entered the food chain.

“There are still many indirect impacts that have not yet been properly shown,” said Guilherme Dutra, director of Conservation International’s marine programme in Brazil. “The risk of contamination of the food chain is very high, especially in areas directly affected.”

The government of President Jair Bolsonaro initially struggled to react to the spill, leaving volunteers to clean up. On Wednesday it staged Brazil’s biggest-ever oil auction for ultra-deep-water rights, which raised $17bn (£13bn) – a disappointing shortfall on the $26bn the government had hoped for.

Mangroves and coral reefs are particularly vulnerable to damage, scientists said, and removing oil from them is a delicate, specialised and lengthy process. Detergents used to clean oil can damage coral reefs, and mangrove roots need to be cleaned manually.

Brazil’s government environment agency, Ibama, has counted 126 marine creatures affected – including 24 seabirds and 88 turtles – of which 95 had died, it said on Tuesday. Another 3,900 baby turtles had been captured by government agencies and universities and moved to safety.

The Brazilian navy says the oil has reached the Abrolhos Marine national park off the coast of Bahia state – a reserve that includes an archipelago, extensive coral reefs, humpback whale breeding grounds and the South Atlantic’s biggest concentration of marine biodiversity.

Reef fish such as Scarus trispinosus – a vivid blue parrotfish known as Budião-azul in Portuguese – as well as Mussismilia corals could be endangered, said Dutra, a biologist who has worked extensively in Abrolhos.

Flavio Lima, a professor of biology at the State University of Rio Grande do Norte in the north-east, said the oil could even prove fatal to the coral reefs.

“The coral is not an organism, it is a colony and it is very sensitive to alterations in the composition of nutrients,” he said. “Oil contamination could cause widespread death of coral colonies.”

Brazil’s coastal mangrove forests are important reproduction centres for many species of fish, Lima said.

“These mangrove areas are nurseries. We have the prolonged effects of the oil, that go from contamination of food sources like algae and invertebrates until [it reaches] the food chain … [The spill] also represents a risk for local populations who depend on crustaceans, like crabs and shrimp, and molluscs like oysters and clams, for survival.”

Brazil’s state oil company, Petrobras, said the oil came from three Venezuelan fields. Last Friday Federal Police and the Brazilian navy said an oil tanker flying a Greek flag and carrying crude oil from Venezuela was the main suspect after satellite images showed it was the only ship near an oil slick spotted 700km off Brazil’s north-east coast on 28-29 July, en route to South Africa.

Delta Tankers, owners of the Bouboulina tanker since identified by Reuters as the ship concerned, has denied responsibility. The ship “sailed from Venezuela in laden condition on July 19 2019 heading directly, with no stops at other ports, for Melaka, Malaysia, where she discharged her entire cargo without any shortage”, the company said in a statement.

In a Facebook Live event last Friday alongside Bolsonaro, the fishing and agriculture secretary, Jorge Seif Júnior, said there was no risk of contamination. “The fish is an intelligent animal. When it sees a blanket of oil, it flees,” he said.

Maurício Cardim, 42, who rents boats to tourists and researchers in Bahia, said the evidence on the ground proved otherwise.

“I have seen dead fish, I have seen jellyfish… I have seen an enormous quantity of seaweed we don’t see at this time of year, coloured with oil,” said Cardim, who is part of the Coast Guardians group of volunteers who are cleaning up the coast of Bahia state. “We want a solution. For now we are cleaning our beaches, because we live from the sea.”
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Re: 🎡 Reinventing the Wheel
« Reply #14512 on: November 09, 2019, 08:12:40 PM »
A wheel is a perfect machine I guess. But maybe it can be improved?

Wheel in the Sky


Thank you. I needed some comic relief from the doom and gloom.

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Re: 🎡 Reinventing the Wheel
« Reply #14513 on: November 09, 2019, 08:45:22 PM »
A wheel is a perfect machine I guess. But maybe it can be improved?

Wheel in the Sky


Thank you. I needed some comic relief from the doom and gloom.

YW  :icon_sunny:

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Offline knarf

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Desafío 10x is a voluntary commitment to make sure no CEO at a company makes more than 10 times the salary of the lowest paid worker.

Since October 18, Chileans have been protesting in the streets of the capital city, Santiago. Though sparked by a 30-peso ($0.04) price hike of the capital city’s metro fare, the focus of the demonstrations has evolved to encompass manifold injustices centered on wealth disparity in the country. Chile, which still uses a constitution written during the government of dictator Augusto Pinochet, is currently the most economically unequal country of the world’s 30 wealthiest nations, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The protestors are demanding higher wages and a better pension system.

As more than one million protestors—more than 5% of Chile’s population—gathered in Santiago over the past month, some changes are being made. The country’s President Sebastian Piñera announced that he’s replacing his entire cabinet to put together a new government to make social changes, and a number of Chilean businesses have signed onto a pledge to decrease the salary disparities between company heads and low-wage workers.

Called the “10x Challenge,” or “Desafío 10x” in Spanish, the pledge encourages business owners in Chile to make it so a company’s lowest salary is no more than 10 times lower than the company’s highest salary. According to a 2019 study cited on Desafío 10x’s website, the average general manager’s salary in Chile is more than 30 times that of a low-wage worker at the same company. Alternatively, business owners can sign onto the pledge and promise to raise their monthly salaries from the legal minimum of 301,000 Chilean pesos ($405) to about 620,000 pesos ($835). So far, 81% of the 1,108 companies that have signed onto the challenge have opted for both.

Cristian Mackenna, executive director of the agency Contingent first raised the idea for the 10x challenge in a meeting on October 20 with other Chilean B Corps (companies that are certified to adhere to high social and environmental standards in their operations) and an entrepreneurs’ group called G100. At first, the idea didn’t generate much interest. Only about 26 other companies said they’d be willing to sign onto the challenge. On October 21, Mackenna built a website for the challenge—”just a simple landing page, nothing special,” he says—and by the following day, he shared the page privately with the other B Corporations and G100 members.

“When I started the conversation, it didn’t get much traction, but when we shared the site, everyone wanted to sign,” Mackenna says. “Less than one week later, we have more than 1,000 companies that have signed the challenge. The thing exploded, a little bit.”

Now, not only have B Corporations and G100 members have signed the pledge but other Chilean companies, too. Mackenna stresses that the challenge is voluntary. “We want to celebrate the people who can do it but we don’t want to force someone to do it,” he says. He believes that forcing a company to make such a change could result in negative outcomes, like, for example, a company lowering all salaries to narrow the payment gap.

The Desafío 10x just launched, so companies are still working on organizing their next steps to enact change. Organizing it has taken up much of Mackenna’s time over the past couple of weeks, he says, making plans for how to keep the challenge’s momentum going and appearing on various radio and TV shows to spread the word. Because the challenge is completely voluntary, there’s of course no promise that every business to sign on will ultimately implement salary changes, and there’s no specific deadline for companies to make the changes by. However, the 10x website notes that 89% of those who’ve signed on say they will comply in three months or less.

Marcel Fukayama, cofounder of Sistema B Brazil and executive director of Sistema B International, which certifies B Corporations in Latin America, says he hopes the challenge will help put more businesses on track to reach the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals by 2030. “This [effort] connects with our global agenda,” he says. Goal number 10, he points out, is to “reduce inequality within and among countries.”

The protests in Chile this October certainly spurred the Desafío 10x, says Mackenna. It helped show the urgency of the country’s wealth inequality problem. As a B Corporation leader, Mackenna had been thinking about income inequality for a while, but of course many business owners are concerned solely with their own profits (as is a business owner’s wont). “In the past, only a few B Corps and other business associations were working on [inequality],” he says. “Now, all the country sees the problem.”
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Bolivian President Evo Morales resigns amid fraud poll protests
« Reply #14515 on: November 10, 2019, 04:02:11 PM »

Protesters chanted "yes we could" and "Bolivia" as they celebrated the resignation

Bolivian President Evo Morales has resigned amid turmoil following his disputed re-election last month.

On Sunday, international monitors called for the election result to be annulled, saying they had found "clear manipulations" of the 20 October poll.

Mr Morales agreed with the findings and announced his intention to call fresh elections - after overhauling the country's election body.

But politicians - and the army and police chiefs - had urged him to quit.

Some of his allies were attacked earlier this week, and said their homes had been set alight.

In a televised address, Mr Morales said he would resign as president, and urged protesters to "stop attacking the brothers and sisters, stop burning and attacking".

The Vice-President, Alvaro Garcia Linera, and Senate President Adriana Salvatierra, have also resigned.

Protesters took to the streets to celebrate, chanting "yes we could" and setting off fire crackers.

How did we get here?
Bolivia has been rattled by weeks of anti-government protests, following the reports of election fraud.

Tensions first flared on the night of the presidential election after the results count was inexplicably stopped for 24 hours. The final result gave Mr Morales slightly more than the 10-percentage-point lead he needed to win outright in the first round of the race.

At least three people died during clashes that followed. Some uniformed police officers also joined the protesters.

On Sunday, the Organization of American States, which monitored the elections, said it had found evidence of wide-scale data manipulation, and could not certify the result of the previous polls.

Pressure continued to build on Mr Morales during the day, as several of his political allies resigned, some citing fears for the safety of their families.

The army chief, General Williams Kaliman, also urged Mr Morales to resign "to allow for pacification and the maintaining of stability".

The military also said it would conduct operations to "neutralise" any armed groups that attacked the protesters.

What reaction has there been?
Opposition leader Carlos Mesa - who came second in last month's poll - thanked protesters for "the heroism of peaceful resistance".

In a tweet, he described the development as "the end of tyranny" and a "historical lesson", saying, "Long live Bolivia!"

However, the Cuban and Venezuelan leaders - who had previously voiced their support for Mr Morales - condemned the events as a "coup".

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel described it as a "violent and cowardly" attempt against democracy, while Venezuelan leader Nicolas Maduro said tweeted: "We categorically condemn the coup realised against our brother president."

Who is Evo Morales?
Mr Morales, who was Bolivia's first indigenous president, had served as leader since 2006.

He ran for a fourth consecutive term in the October elections after a controversial decision by the constitutional court to scrap presidential term limits.

In a 2016 referendum, a majority had voted "no" to dropping the limit of term numbers that Bolivians could serve.

However, Mr Morales' party took the issue to the constitutional court, which abolished the term limits altogether.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Australia bushfires: Sydney area faces 'catastrophic' threat
« Reply #14516 on: November 10, 2019, 04:09:30 PM »

The fires have also destroyed homes and property

Australia has warned of a "catastrophic" bushfire threat to the areas around Sydney, its largest city, as blazes rage across two states.

At least three people are dead and thousands have been displaced by three days of bushfire emergencies.

The states of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland have each declared a state of emergency.

More than 120 bushfires are burning across the two states.

Residents in vulnerable communities are being urged to leave and seek shelter in evacuation centres.

Australia's conservative government has refused to be drawn on whether climate change could have contributed to the fires, in a response that has drawn criticism.

"My only thoughts today are with those who have lost their lives and their families," said Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday.

What is the threat to the Sydney area?
NSW fire authorities have issued the maximum level of warning for the first time since new fire warnings were introduced a decade ago.

The "catastrophic" warning is in place across the dense Sydney metropolitan area and regions to the city's north.

The fires are spanning a 1,000km (620 miles) stretch from Sydney to the Gold Coast near Brisbane.

Temperatures are expected to reach 37C by Tuesday. Conditions are expected to be worse than on Friday, when the firestorms began tearing through eastern Australia.

"Under these conditions, these fires will spread quickly and threaten homes and lives," NSW Rural Fire Service said in a statement.

Dozens of schools and other public facilities have been shut across the state. Firefighters from New Zealand have been flown in to help as weary emergency crews prepare for a fresh onslaught.

Mr Morrison says the military could also be called upon to support the 1,300 firefighters working in the two states.

Hundreds of civilians have also volunteered to help in affected areas.

What's the latest?
Thousands of people in both states spent the night in evacuation centres while officials assessed whether it was safe for them to return home.

Fire officials in NSW confirmed that more than 150 homes were destroyed on the weekend.

Two firefighters were injured when a tree fell onto their truck in the Nambucca Heads area of NSW, officials said. They were treated at the scene and transferred to hospital in a stable condition.

Thousands of people have been driven from their homes

Cooler weather on Sunday provided some reprieve, but it is feared that high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds forecast from the middle of the week will intensify the blazes, many of which are burning out of control.

Who were the victims?
While clearing affected areas on Friday, fire crews discovered the body of one victim in a burned out car near Glen Innes, about 550km (340 miles) north of Sydney.

In the same town on the same day, a woman was found suffering from severe burns. She was rushed to hospital but died shortly afterwards.

Carol Sparks, the mayor of Glen Innes, said on Sunday that the town's residents were traumatised.

"The fire was as high as 20 ft [6m] and raging with 80 km/h [50 mph] winds," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "It was absolutely horrific for the people that were impacted."

On Saturday, NSW police confirmed that a third person had died after a body was found in a burnt-out home near Taree, a town about 300km north of Sydney.

Police said the home belonged to a woman aged 63, but that they wouldn't be able to confirm the person's identity until a post-mortem had been carried out.

In NSW, the worst-hit state, crews have fought hundreds of fires since last month, when two people died while trying to protect their home.

Earlier this month, a blaze burned though 2,000 hectares of bush which contained a koala sanctuary. Hundreds of the animals were feared to have died.

What about the drought?
Rains lashed NSW last week, providing relief for many farmers. But the storms were not nearly enough to end the long-running drought.

Authorities in the state warn that many fires will continue to burn unless there is more rain.

More than 100 fires are raging across NSW and Queensland

"We just cannot overstate the profound impact that the drought is having on fire behaviour," NSW Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told reporters on Friday.

Water-bombing aircraft are often flying long distances because of the difficulty of accessing water in dry areas. In some cases authorities have drilled bores to keep up with demand.

"We've very mindful of the scarcity of water and how precious it is, but the reality is we can't do firefighting without water," Mr Fitzsimmons said.

Is this linked to climate change?
Australia's fire season risks growing longer and more intense due to climate change, according to scientists.

Authorities said they were concerned about the severity of the fires ahead of its hottest months, a year after the nation experienced its warmest summer on record.

Officials have confirmed that 2018 and 2017 were Australia's third and fourth-hottest years on record respectively.

The bureau's State of the Climate 2018 report said climate change had led to an increase in extreme heat events and increased the severity of other natural disasters, such as drought.

Even if global temperatures are contained to a 2C rise above pre-industrial levels - a limit set out in the landmark Paris accord, agreed by 188 nations in 2015 - scientists believe the country is facing a dangerous new normal.

Last year, a UN report said Australia was falling short in efforts to cut its CO2 emissions.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Climate protest at Berlin airport sparks massive police operation
« Reply #14517 on: November 10, 2019, 04:17:18 PM »
Dozens of climate protesters staged a sit-in at Berlin's Tegel Airport, prompting police to quickly surround the area. The operation led to traffic jams and extra hurdles for passengers trying to reach the airport.


Passengers trying to reach Berlin's Tegel Airport on Sunday were hit with delays after police blocked roads and enacted tighter security controls in response to a climate protest.

Around 50 members of the group "Am Boden Bleiben," which means "stay grounded" in German, gathered in the main entrance of Terminal A to hold a sit-in.

Another 80 people held a protest further away from the terminal but still on airport grounds, a police spokesman said.

The activists, many of whom were dressed in penguin costumes, held up signs urging people to think twice before traveling via airplane.

Protesters dressed as penguins and threw paper airplanes around the terminal, calling for travelers to reconsider their short-haul flights

Sunday's protest, however, was intended to be a symbolic act and not one that impeded travelers trying to catch their flights.

"Our protest is aimed at the airline industry and politicians — not against individual passengers," the group's spokeswoman told news agency dpa.

The demonstration had "no impact" on flights, according to an airport spokesman. Police also said the protesters stayed within the rules of not shouting over airport announcements or physically hindering passengers.

Passengers abandon stranded taxis

Although flights were not delayed, travelers had to overcome considerable hurdles to reach the airport.

As part of their security operation, police shut down the highway exit ramp leading to the airport, sparking a major traffic jam. Numerous passengers walked the remaining distance to the airport after leaving their stranded taxis on the road.

Long lines also formed at the airport as passengers waited for long-delayed buses to arrive.

Police also carried out extra security checks on people trying to enter the airport, sending away those who did not have plane tickets, local public broadcaster RBB reported.

The climate activists called for a stop to all domestic and short-haul flights, arguing that they are disproportionately responsible for CO2 emissions and other gases blamed on global warming.

Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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UN mission in Iraq proposes roadmap for ending upheaval
« Reply #14518 on: November 10, 2019, 04:21:57 PM »
BAGHDAD (AP) — The United Nations’ mission for Iraq on Sunday proposed a roadmap out of the country’s social upheaval, while Amnesty International said Iraq’s crackdown on anti-government protests has descended into a “bloodbath.”

At least 319 protesters have been killed by security forces since the economically driven protests and unrest began last month, according to the latest figures from the Iraqi Human Rights Commission released Sunday.

Iraqi security forces put up concrete barriers in central Baghdad in an effort to hamper and block the movement of protesters. The measures come after security forces last Monday violently cleared demonstrators from three flashpoint bridges in central Baghdad. By the end of the day, six anti-government protesters were killed more than 100 wounded.

The widening security crackdown reflects government intransigence and narrowing options for protesters who have been on the streets of Baghdad and the mainly Shiite south’s cities for weeks. Authorities shut down internet access and blocked social media sites several times amid the demonstrations.

The leaderless protests are targeting Iraq’s entire political class and calling for the overhaul of the sectarian system established after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Security forces have used live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas in an effort to quell the protests.

On Sunday, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq urged the country’s politicians to chart a way forward and proposed a roadmap, saying time is of essence.

In a statement it laid out a series of short- and longer-term measures to deal with the crisis, including electoral reform and a series of anti-corruption measures. As immediate measures, it called for the release of all peaceful demonstrators detained since Oct. 1, initiating a full investigation of cases of abduction and prosecuting and punishing those responsible for the excessive use of force.

Amnesty International said Iraqi authorities should immediately rein in security forces.

“The government of Iraq has a duty to protect its people’s right to life, as well as to gather and express their views. This bloodbath must stop now, and those responsible for it must be brought to justice,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Director.

“All government promises of reforms or investigations ring hollow while security forces continue to shoot and kill protesters,” she said.

The protesters’ most immediate demand is for the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s government. He’s held the post for just over a year, and is refusing to step down.

On Sunday, security forces closed roads near the Khilani Square with one-meter high concrete barriers, trying to block protesters from reaching Baghdad’s landmark Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the protests, and the Sanak bridge.

At least 19 protesters were wounded when security forces used tear gas to repel them, according to police and hospital sources.

In the southern city of Nasiriyah, security and medical officials said 31 people were injured in confrontations outside the education directorate as security forces tear-gassed protesters trying to block employees from reaching the building in the city center. Among those wounded were two school students, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

On Saturday, five protesters were shot dead by live ammunition, while the sixth was killed by a direct hit to the head from a tear gas cannister, medical and security forces said.

The protesters were pushed back from the three bridges spanning the Tigris River toward the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of government. Protesters have tried to force their way across on an almost daily basis.

The deaths occurred as the protests intensified in the afternoon when demonstrators tried to get back to the bridges. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

The demonstrators complain of widespread corruption, lack of job opportunities and poor basic services, including regular power cuts, despite Iraq’s vast oil reserves. They have rejected government proposals for limited economic reforms, and instead called on the country’s political leadership to resign, including Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

“We consider the peaceful protests of our people as among the most important events since 2003,” Abdul-Mahdi said in a statement Saturday that vowed to meet the protesters’ demands for wide-ranging reforms. He added that electoral reforms would be put forward soon along with “an important government reshuffle” in response to the protests against the sectarian system imposed in 2003, though the statement didn’t provide further details.

Abdul-Mahdi reiterated an earlier order forbidding security forces to use excessive violence, such as live rounds, against peaceful protesters in a meeting with President Barham Salah and Parliament Speaker Mohammed Halbousi on Sunday.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

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Dozens of flood warnings in UK as heavy rain expected to continue
« Reply #14519 on: November 10, 2019, 04:27:40 PM »
Dozens of flood warnings are in place across England as more heavy rain is expected in the coming days.

Severe warnings remain in place on the River Don in South Yorkshire with residents in Doncaster attempting to clear up and protect their houses from the rising waters.

Parts of northern England have suffered a month's worth of rain in 24 hours, forcing many to leave their homes.

One woman was swept away to her death after the River Derwent burst its banks near the town of Matlock in Derbyshire on Friday.

Police said the woman's body had been found by a stretch of the river near the town of Darley Dale.

The flooding has become a general election issue with political leaders visiting affected areas ahead of next month's poll.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visited homes in South Yorkshire that were soaked by overflowing rivers.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the work of local emergency services as he visited Matlock on Friday.

The prime minister also warned that the UK was seeing more "serious flooding" and that the country needed to prepare.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'