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Author Topic: ENVIRONMENT, CLIMATE, GLOBAL WARMING, AND CULTURE  (Read 1132091 times)
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Darja
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« Reply #4350 on: Jul 14, 2018, 05:22 AM »


Heatwave sees record high temperatures around world this week

From Europe to Africa, extreme and widespread heat raises climate concerns in hottest La Niña year to date on record

Jonathan Watts
Guardian
14 Jul 2018 16.28 BST

Record high temperatures have been set across much of the world this week as an unusually prolonged and broad heatwave intensifies concerns about climate change.

The past month has seen power shortages in California as record heat forced a surge of demand for air conditioners. Algeria has experienced the hottest temperature ever reliably registered in Africa. Britain, meanwhile, has experienced its third longest heatwave, melting the roof of a science building in Glasgow and exposing ancient hill forts in Wales.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said the rising temperatures were at odds with a global cyclical climate phenomena known as La Niña, which is usually associated with cooling.

“The first six months of the year have made it the hottest La Niña year to date on record,” said Clare Nullis of the WMO.

Taiwan is the most recent place to report a new high with a temperature of 40.3C in Tianxiang on Monday. This followed a flurry of other anomalies.

Last week, a weather station at Ouargla in Algeria’s Sahara Desert, reported a maximum temperature of 51.3C on 5 July, the highest temperature reliably recorded in Africa.

Even when the sun goes down, night is not providing the cooling relief it once did in many parts of the world. At Quriyat, on the coast of Oman, overnight temperatures remained above 42.6C, which is believed to be the highest “low” temperature ever recorded in the world. Downtown Los Angeles also saw a new monthly July minimum overnight record of 26.1C on 7 July.

Globally, the warmest year on record was in 2016, boosted by the natural climate cycle El Niño. Last year, temperatures hit the highest level without that amplifying phenomenon. This year, at the other cooling end of the cycle, is continuing the overall upward trend.

Swathes of the northern hemisphere have seen unusually persistent warmth due to strong, persistent high pressure systems that have created a “heat dome” over much of Eurasia.

“What’s unusual is the hemispheric scale of the heatwave,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “It’s not just the magnitude in any one location but that high temperatures are being seen over such a large area.”

Northern Russia’s exceptionally sunny weather – seen on TV by billions thanks to the World Cup – has caused wildfires that affected 80,000 hectares of forest near the Krasnoyarsk region, which reported daily anomalies of 7C above average. The Western Siberian Hydromet Center has issued storm warnings after temperatures of more than 30C for five days. Climate watchers fear this will accelerate the melting of permafrost, releasing methane – a far more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

In California, daytime records were also set last week at Chino (48.9C), Burbank airport (45.6C) and Van Nuys airport (47.2C). In Canada, at least 54 deaths have been attributed to the prolonged heatwave and high humidity in Quebec. Montreal saw a new record high temperature of 36.6C on 2 July.

In Europe, the WMO has warned of droughts, wildfires and harvest losses after the second hottest June on record. Over the past two weeks, records have been set in Tbilisi (40.5C), Shannon (32C), and Belfast (29.5C)

Britain has cooled slightly in the past two days, after 17 days of temperatures over 28C. This was the third longest heatwave on record, following the record 19-day run in 2013 and the famous summer of 1976, when there were two prolonged spells of 18 days and 15 days. Dean Hall of the UK’s Met Office said Britain’s temperatures were forecast to rise again over the coming week.

The concern is that weather fronts – hot and cold – are being blocked more frequently due to climate change. This causes droughts and storms to linger, amplifying the damage they cause. This was a factor in the recent devastating floods in Japan, where at least 150 people died after rainfall up to four times the normal level.

Paolo Ruti of the WMO said it was difficult to ascribe any one weather event to climate change, but that recent high temperatures, intense rains and slow-moving fronts were in line with forecasts of how rising emissions will affect the climate.

“Recent analysis suggests that anthropogenic forcing might indeed affect the characteristics of summer blocking events in the Euro-Asia sector, in particular leading to longer blocking episodes,” he said.

Extreme weather events have buffeted much of the world over the past 12months, from the “Day Zero” drought in Cape Town to the abnormally powerful hurricanes Harvey and Irma that buffeted the east coast of the US and Caribbean.

Underscoring the link, a new report from scientists at the World Weather Attribution group indicates that manmade climate change and its effect on rainfall made the recent Cape Town drought three times more likely.


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Darja
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« Reply #4351 on: Jul 14, 2018, 05:38 AM »


Terminally ill boy, five, writes own obituary: 'See ya later, suckas!'

Garrett Matthias, who died of a rare cancer, had a hand in authoring unique obit now garnering attention in US

Associated Press
Sat 14 Jul 2018 01.28 BST

A unique memorial service set for Garrett Matthias, a five-year-old from central Iowa, is matched only by the one-of-a-kind obituary the preschooler had a hand in authoring.

Garrett died 6 July of a rare cancer that attacked his temporal bone and cranial nerve. His obituary, which is now garnering national attention, includes details of some of the painful treatments he endured.
Garrett Matthias at a hospital in Iowa City.

But it’s his funny take on life and death that’s getting noticed.

His obit notes his likes: playing with his sister, his blue bunny, thrash metal music. And his dislikes: “pants, dirty stupid cancer”, and “the monkey nose that smells like cherry farts”.

The obit was compiled by his parents, Emilie and Ryan Matthias, who began asking Garrett questions about adult topics such as funeral and burial preferences when they learned from doctors last month that his cancer was terminal.

His responses, his mother said Friday, made up the obituary.

Asked about death, Garrett responded he was “going to be a gorilla and throw poo at Daddy!” Asked whether he wanted to be buried or cremated, he replied: “I want to be burned (like when Thor’s mommy died) and made into a tree so I can live in it when I’m a gorilla.”

And he was specific about the kind of affair he expected his funeral to be.

“Funerals are sad,” he said. “I want five bouncy houses (because I’m five), Batman and snow cones.”
Garrett Matthias loved his blue bunny.

The obit closes with his last message, “See ya later, suckas! – The Great Garrett Underpants.”

Garrett’s memorial service on Saturday will take into account many of those last requests, including the five bouncy houses. Besides snow cones, carnival games and fireworks, an archer will shoot a flaming arrow on to a small boat carrying Garrett’s ashes in a neighbor’s pond.

The obituary says a private burial of Garrett’s ashes “will be held at a later time, once his parents figure out how the hell to get his ashes made into a tree”.


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« Reply #4352 on: Jul 14, 2018, 05:43 AM »


Trump leaves London after wreaking diplomatic destruction

US president was shielded from the public but causes havoc for Theresa May

David Smith in London
Guardian
14 Jul 2018 19.36 BST

With wheels up on Air Force One, Donald Trump vanished into the skies above Stansted airport on Friday evening, bound for his luxury golf resort in Scotland and leaving a trail of diplomatic destruction in his wake.

The presidential hurricane had swept through southern England, uprooting protocols, rattling institutions and leaving politicians with a sense of whiplash. As the disrupter-in-chief’s MV-22 Osprey helicopters departed, Theresa May could be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief familiar to any sorely tested host.

This was a far cry from Bill Clinton strolling through Hyde Park during his presidential swansong or Barack Obama dropping in on a primary school in Newport. For Trump, making his first visit to the UK as president, there was no park and no school, no 10 Downing Street, no Houses of Parliament and no Buckingham Palace. Nor was this the state visit that May had promised when she dashed to Washington shortly after Trump took office. The tens of thousands of people marching in the streets of London might have had something to do with it.

Britain may have to humbly accept, however, that for Trump it was a mere stopover between hammering the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, at the Nato summit in Brussels and renewing his warm relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki.

His day began at the US ambassador’s Regents Park residence, where some protesters had tried to generate noise to disturb his sleep – but he generally only gets four hours on a normal night. He tweeted early about elections happening in Florida, suggesting his mind was elsewhere.

First on his agenda, closed to the media, was viewing a joint military exercise at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in Surrey. It was likely to offer the kind of spectacle known to appeal to Trump, who did not serve in the Vietnam war due to five draft deferments but was wowed by a military parade on Bastille Day in Paris and is considering a similar show of strength in the US.

It was also the scene of a potentially awkward encounter with May following the Rupert Murdoch-owned Sun’s publication of an interview in which the US president said the prime minister had ignored his advice on Brexit and that her approach could scupper plans for a separate UK-US trade deal.

“She’s a total professional because when I saw her this morning I said, ‘I want to apologise because I said such good things about you’,” Trump said later. “She said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s only the press’. I thought that was very professional.”

Trump and May later travelled to Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat, 40 miles from London. They held one-on-one talks, a working lunch and a joint press conference, where the president was in characteristically mercurial mood.

He claimed that the Sun’s article was “generally fine” but omitted his positive comments about May. “It’s called fake news,” he said, insisting that May was an “incredible woman … doing a fantastic job”.

Asked about claims that May ignored his advice, Trump said: “I gave her a suggestion, not advice, I wouldn’t want to give her advice, I’d give her a suggestion. I can fully understand why she thought it was a little bit tough and maybe someday she will do that - if they don’t make the right deal, she might very well do what I suggested that she might want to do.”

As for Brexit, he said “whatever you do is OK with me” but warned: “Just make sure we can trade together.” Trump described the UK-US relationship as the “highest level of special”.

May put a brave face on the embarrassment and presented Trump with an illustrated ancestral chart detailing his Scottish heritage, dating to the birth of his great-great-great grandfather in 1776, when the US declared independence from Britain. Trump’s mother, Mary Anne MacLeod, was born on the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides and the chart was decorated with the MacLeod family crest and its tartan.

May and her husband Philip gave Melania Trump a custom-made perfume called The First Lady, presented in a bottle engraved with her initials and provided by J Floris Ltd, which has also made products believed to have been used by Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana.

Then it was on to Windsor Castle for an audience with the Queen. On a red carpeted dais under a white tent, the monarch smiled generously as she shook the hands of Trump and his wife, then all three stood for the American national anthem. Trump walked side-by-side with the Queen as they inspected the busby-wearing Coldstream guards.

He was appreciably less tactile with the 92-year-old sovereign than with other heads of state, some of whom have elicited a frenzy of backslaps, grabs and prolonged handshakes. He is the 12th US president to meet the Queen but the first to have publicly boasted about groping women.

The verbal scattergun president then took tea with the famously discreet monarch, though not Prince Philip, who is less famously discreet. It is not known what they discussed but the recent arrival of an American, Meghan Markle, in the royal family might have been one topic.

Organisers had succeeded in shielding Trump from the public. The 20-foot Trump Baby blimp, clutching a mobile phone and wearing a giant nappy, took flight over the Houses of Parliament. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of London, cheering, drumming and the banging of pots and pans. There were placards including: “Golden towers & golden showers”, “We shall overcomb”, “Big orange twat” and “This crowd is bigger than your inauguration crowd.”

Outside the new US embassy in south-west London – mentioned in a Trump tweet last January in which he said he cancelled a trip to London because it represented a “bad deal. Wanted me to cut ribbon-NO!” – Robin Colette, 42, was a lone protester with a banner spread on the floor. “Too childish to have a phone let alone a presidency,” it said.

Colette, a pensions administrator from Croydon, explained: “He’s an arse in every way possible. He’s not a role model. He’s against women, he’s a racist. He’s every bad thing you can think of. I’m more afraid of him than of anyone else in the world.”

Would Trump heed the protests? “I’m not sure he’s capable of empathy,” he said. “He’s too thick skinned. But I hope America sees how he’s viewed by the rest of the world and think, ‘We can do a little bit better’.”

*****************

Trump takes war on 'fake news' to UK – and tells towering, easily debunked lies

The US president’s attacks on CNN and the Sun were dismal, but they stayed true to his well-honed communications strategy

Tom McCarthy in New York
Guardian
14 Jul 2018 19.36 BST

Donald Trump took his war against “fake news” to the UK on Friday, using the term as a means to row back on his criticisms of the British prime minister in an interview with the Sun, and to refuse once again to take a question from CNN at a press conference.

“CNN is fake news, I don’t take questions from CNN,” Trump said, calling on Fox News instead.

The remarks look spontaneous, but they might also be viewed as a Trump masterclass in a set of communication tactics traditionally shunned by western democracies.

Blunt and rude, the attack on one of the US’s biggest mainstream news outlets shocked many British viewers unaccustomed to such conduct by a head of state, especially an American, especially in the setting of a press conference with their prime minister, Theresa May.

    Fox News (@FoxNews)

    President @realDonaldTrump: "@CNN is fake news. I don't take questions from CNN." pic.twitter.com/HMT09CmLXz
    July 13, 2018

For many American viewers inured to Trump’s hostility toward the media, however, there was another element of the press conference that was equally disturbing: the unmistakable signs that Trump had once again exercised his ability to steer a conversation through simple repetition of whatever it is he is selling.

Standing next to May, Trump opened the event by saying the interview he had given to the British tabloid newspaper the Sun, in which he criticised May’s handling of Brexit and threatened to kill a prospective US-British trade deal, was “fake news”.

Trump had done so, and the Sun had audio tape to prove it. But for the president, when he uses the term “fake news”, it does not only mean news whose accuracy he questions; it also means any news that is negative for him.

“The Fake News is working overtime,” Trump tweeted in May. “Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?”

Trump’s communications strategy of repeating false accusations while also shifting his position from a stance that he held just moments before, is an exercise in Orwellian doublethink. Witness a statement issued by the Sun after the press conference, in which the paper denied that Trump had branded its interview “fake news”.

Here’s what Trump said on Friday about the Sun’s interview: “Unfortunately, there was a story that was done which was, you know, generally fine, but it didn’t put in what I said about the prime minister, and I said tremendous things, and fortunately we tend to record stories now, so we have it for your enjoyment if you’d like it, but we record when we deal with reporters. It’s called fake news.”

    BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking)

    "I didn't criticise the prime minister" in Sun interview - President Trump calls accusations "fake news"

    Latest #TrumpVisitUK developments: https://t.co/uh9bYPHtBx pic.twitter.com/sgAbjqVUSb
    July 13, 2018

Here’s the Sun’s statement: “We stand by our reporting and the quotes we used – including those where the president was positive about the prime minister, in both the paper and in our audio – and we’re delighted that the president essentially retracted his original charge against the paper later in the press conference.

“To say the president called us ‘fake news’ with any serious intent is, well … fake news.”

One of the maddening features of Trump’s communications technique is that even as he masquerades as a factchecker, he simultaneously tells towering, easily debunked lies. The May press conference offered up a gem of the genre, when Trump went on a riff he has used before about how he had predicted Britain’s decision to exit the European Union when he opened his golf course at Turnberry in Scotland.

That visit came on 24 June 2016, the day after the British referendum, when the leave victory was already confirmed. One cannot predict something that has already happened.

The sheer dogged efficacy of Trump’s tactic to repeat lies until they come true in the minds of others was illustrated by the declaration on Twitter of Stephanie Grisham, the press secretary for first lady Melania Trump, that she had seen Trump’s prediction – which didn’t happen – with her own eyes. She even claimed to have photos.

    Stephanie Grisham (@StephGrisham45)

    Nope. I have photos. I also have a newspaper from the morning after Brexit. I remember sitting in a pub the night before, watching the results come in.
    July 13, 2018

Ultimately and dismally, there were signs that Trump’s act of letting fly with “fake news” accusations, while brashly denying reality, may be rubbing off on May.

“I said very good things about Theresa May,” Trump said of the interview with the Sun. “ I don’t think they put it in, but that’s all right. I said to Theresa May I wanted to apologize, but she said, ‘Don’t worry, it’s only the press.”


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Darja
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« Reply #4353 on: Jul 14, 2018, 06:05 AM »

US indicts 12 Russians for hacking DNC emails during the 2016 election

Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein announces that 12 individuals have been charged as part of the investigation into Russian interference

Jon Swaine in New York and Andrew Roth in Moscow
Guardian
Sat 14 Jul 2018 02.29 BST

A dozen Russians were criminally charged on Friday with hacking and leaking the emails of senior Democrats during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Grand jury indictments against the 12 alleged Russian intelligence officials were announced by Rod Rosenstein, the deputy US attorney general, at a press conference in Washington.

“The internet allows foreign adversaries to attack America in new and unexpected ways,” said Rosenstein. Lamenting what he called “partisan warfare” in the US around the ongoing Russia inquiry, Rosenstein said: “The blame for election interference belongs to the criminals who committed election interference.”

The charges were filed in Washington by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who is investigating Russian interference in the election and possible collusion with members of Donald Trump’s campaign team.

They were announced just as Trump arrived at Windsor Castle to meet the Queen, and as he prepared to meet Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, on Monday. Rosenstein said he had briefed Trump on the developments.

Rosenstein said those charged were operatives of the GRU, a Russian military intelligence agency. He said they had “corresponded with several Americans through the internet”, including an associate of the Trump campaign.

Roger Stone, a longtime adviser to Trump, previously acknowledged that he had exchanged messages with one of the online personas accused on Friday of being a front for Russian intelligence, but he denied knowing that true identity.

Stone told the Guardian on Friday that his correspondence about the hacked documents was “benign based on its content, context and timing” and “provides evidence no of collaboration or collusion”. He confirmed to ABC News that he believed he was referenced in the indictment.

Thousands of emails taken from the accounts of staff at the the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, were published by outlets including WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign.

The indictment says Clinton’s personal office was targeted for the first time on 27 July 2016 – hours after Trump called on Russian hackers to find her emails.

The leaks threw the Democratic party into turmoil. The disclosure of embarrassing internal memos prompted the resignation of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chairwoman, on the eve of the party’s convention in July 2016.

US intelligence agencies concluded that the accounts were hacked as part of a wide-ranging operation ordered by Putin to damage Clinton’s bid for the presidency and assist Trump’s campaign.

Trump has consistently tried to cast doubt over the conclusions of the intelligence agencies that he now controls, and highlighted denials from Putin about the election interference. He continued on Friday to dismiss Mueller’s inquiry as a “witch-hunt”.

The indicted Russians were on Friday also accused of hacking into the computer systems of American state election authorities and of companies that produced software used by states for running elections. Rosenstein said there was no evidence of any vote tallies being affected.

The Russians used techniques including “spearphishing” and spying software, before publishing the emails through well-known online accounts including Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks, which purported to be independent American and Romanian hackers. Rosenstein said both personas were in fact operated by the GRU.

In February this year, Mueller’s team filed criminal charges against 13 Russians and three Russian companies for interfering in the presidential campaign, using social media and coordinating with low-level Trump campaign activists.

Rosenstein said at the time that the Russians had waged “information warfare” against the US during the 2016 campaign, with the aim of “spreading distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general”.

Mueller’s team has also charged Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, with financial crimes. Three other Trump campaign aides have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

The Kremlin did not immediately respond to questions about the US indictment, which was released just as an aide to the Russian president was briefing reporters on Monday’s summit between Putin and Trump.

The two leaders will hold a closed tête-à-tête on Monday morning, followed by a larger meeting between the two delegations. Yuri Ushakov, the aide to Putin, did not bring up the hacking accusations while discussing a list of likely topics for Monday’s talks.

The indictment targeted 12 Russian military officers in two cyberwarfare units in the Military Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, up to the rank of colonel. The Russians are charged with conspiracies against the US, aggravated identity theft and money laundering.

Both GRU units are based in Moscow and traditionally charged with deciphering foreign military communications. Publicly available documents and contracts confirm that one of those indicted, Viktor Netyshko, heads the 85th Main Center for special service.

The GRU has been accused of standing behind Fancy Bear, one of two hacking groups accused of infiltrating US political parties during the 2016 elections.

The United States has already sanctioned six officers from the GRU leadership, including Igor Korobov, the directorate’s head. None of those officers were included in Friday’s criminal indictment.

**************

Here are 6 stunning revelations from Mueller’s new indictments of 12 Russian officers

David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement
13 Jul 2018 at 14:37 ET                  

Friday afternoon Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein unveiled that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe has just led to a grand jury indicting 12 Russian government officials for criminal hacking related to the 2016 presidential election.

They successfully hacked the Democratic National Committee, the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, various state government offices and the election systems of several states.

500,000 voters’ data was accessed, according to Rosenstein.

The indictment itself, which can be read via the Dept. of Justice website, makes even more stunning revelations, like these:

On July 27, 2016, then-candidate Trump made his now-infamous and very public request to hack Hillary Clinton’s email accounts: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Via the indictment, the Russian officials that same evening tried “for the first time” to hack Clinton’s emails:

    Guccifer 2.0 (Russian intel) was communicating with a person in regular contact with the Trump campaign https://t.co/x9TUcEm966 pic.twitter.com/YuQ2Lr4k96

    — Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) July 13, 2018

WikiLeaks “was coordinating the release of the DNC emails” with the Russian government:

    And here, Mueller spells out that Organization 1 — presumably WikiLeaks — was coordinating the release of the DNC emails with Guccifer 2.0 https://t.co/x9TUcEm966 pic.twitter.com/HZi8ZOXSIP

    — Mark Murray (@mmurraypolitics) July 13, 2018

A congressional candidate requested from and received from the Russian government hackers information on their opponent:

    3. Russian hackers directly sent, upon request, hacked info to a candidate for U.S. Congress pic.twitter.com/88ihq1eFhl

    — Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 13, 2018

Allegedly, according to ThinkProgress founder Judd Legum, Roger Stone apparently corresponded with the Russian government hackers:

    6. The indictment describes, without naming him, the Russian hackers direct correspondence with Trump's oldest political adviser, Roger Stone pic.twitter.com/jFGLa8v7Zp

    — Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 13, 2018

Some (rightly) are calling this attack on American democracy “an act of war”:

    4/ The indictment provides details about the GRU conspirators. Of note is that these are high level Russian military operatives. This was a direct act of war. pic.twitter.com/mU9HoGUj8M

    — Smith (@WriteSmitty) July 13, 2018

****************

New indictment reveals top Trump surrogate was in regular contact with Russian hackers in 2016 — including Guccifer 2.0

Tana Ganeva
Raw Story
14 Jul 2018 at 13:22 ET

On Friday, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced the indictment of Russian nationals who hacked Hillary Clinton campaign email addresses in an effort to sway the 2016 US election.

The indictment noted that Guccifer 2.0—a persona invented by the Russian officers—was in regular contact with a person close to the Donald Trump campaign.

“On or about August 15, 2016, the Conspirators, posing as Guccifer 2.0, wrote to a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump “thank u for writing back … do u find anyt[h]ing interesting in the docs i posted?”

The passage in the indictment unleashed speculation that the Trump campaign surrogate was none other than Roger Stone, a political operative known for injecting himself into controversies.

In a blog post on his website, Stone admitted that he had communicated with Guccifer 2.0. A screenshot of the conversation appears to reflect the conversion cited in the indictment.

“As I testified before the House intelligence committee under oath, my 24-word exchange with someone on Twitter claiming to be Guccifer 2.0 is benign based on its content, context, and timing,” Stone told The Daily Beast. “This exchange is entirely public and provides no evidence of collaboration or collusion with Guccifer 2.0 or anyone else in the alleged hacking of the DNC emails, as well as taking place many weeks after the events described in today’s indictment.”

***************

Russia tried to steal Hillary Clinton’s emails ‘for the first time’ hours after Trump asked if they were listening

Travis Gettys
Raw Story
13 Jul 2018 at 13:26 ET                  

President Donald Trump infamously asked Russia — if they were listening — to help find Hillary Clinton’s emails, and a new indictment shows their intelligence agents tried.

Special counsel Robert Mueller obtained an indictment Friday against 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2016 campaign and posting them online through Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks, which investigators confirmed were fronts for Russian agents.

The indictment shows that Russia first tried to hack into Clinton’s email system the same evening that Trump publicly asked them to during a July 27, 2016, news conference.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said at the time. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Trump has steadfastly denied that Russia had anything to do with the hacks, despite the findings of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, and now alleged in the grand jury indictment.

That indictment shows Russian agents tried to break into an email system used by Clinton and her associates that same day.

“The Conspirators spearphised individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign throughout the summer of 2016,” the indictment says.

“For example, on or about July 27, 2016,” prosecutors said, “the Conspirators after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton campaign.”

    July 27, 2016, Trump: "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing."
    Indictment: That evening, Russian operatives targeted Clinton campaign emails "for the first time." pic.twitter.com/fanyaAxwfJ

    — Christopher Ingraham (@_cingraham) July 13, 2018

****************

Ex-CIA director predicts next Mueller indictments will include Americans

Martin Cizmar
Raw Story
14 Jul 2018 at 18:10 ET                  

Ex-CIA director Michael Hayden made a bold prediction on CNN Friday afternoon, telling host Jake Tapper that he suspects the next round of indictments by Robert Mueller will include Americans.

The retired four-star general who led the NSA and the CIA said that he does not expect Trump to back out of his summit with Vladimir Putin, but that Trump should confront him.

“This is your chance, Mr. President,” he said. “We have solid, forensic, detailed evidence that the president can make use of.”

Hayden said that he had long suspected that Mueller’s investigation would end in an inconclusive cloud but “the more this goes on, the more I believe we are going to see a widening circle here.”

Tapper pushed him to make a prediction.

“In other words, there will be another indictment and Americans involved?” Tapper asked.

“I would not be surprised if this not in the the last indictment we see that doesn’t mention an American,” Hayden said.

**************

MSNBC breaks down ‘direct nexus’ between Trump and Russia revealed in new Mueller indictments

14 Jul 2018 at 15:15 ET  
Raw Story                

Katy Tur’s panel on MSNBC detailed the “direct nexus” between President Donald Trump and Russian hackers revealed in today’s indictment of 12 Russian intelligence officers.

Tur played the infamous clips of Donald Trump saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.”

Russia attempted stealing Hillary Clinton’s emails “for the first time” only hours after Trump made his request for campaign assistance from Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin.

MSNBC played the clip of Tur following up on the Trump’s request, during a contentious back and forth.

“Do you have any qualms about asking a foreign government — Russia, China, anybody — to interfere, to hack into a system of anybody’s in this country?” Tur asked Trump on July 27, 2016. “Does it give you pause?”

“No, it gives me no pause,” Trump replied. “If Russia or China or any other country has those emails, to be honest with you, I would love to see them.”

NBC News intelligence and national security reporter Ken Dilanian explained the significance of Tur’s back-and-forth with Trump.

“The exchange you played is remarkable, it shows there is a direct nexus between Donald Trump’s statements and the actions of these Russian hackers,” Dilanian noted.

“It was a very bizarre statement at the time,” agreed MSNBC chief legal correspondent Ari Melber

“If taken literally, it was seeking foreign help, which can be a crime itself,” Melber observed. “They immediately tried to get away from it being literal.”

“You, as a journalist, pressed him at the time,” he continued. “Those questions obviously proved prescient and perhaps you were triggering him.”

Tur then read a quote from the indictments that Melber had cited.

“The object of the conspiracy was the hack into protected computers of persons and entities charged with the administration of the 2016 U.S. elections in order to access those computers and steal voter data and other information stored on those computers and stage releases of the stolen documents to interfere with the 2016 U.S.”

****************

CNN’s Gloria Borger slams ‘narcissistic’ White House response to Mueller indictments

Dominique Jackson
Raw Story
14 Jul 2018 at 16:08 ET                  

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein dropped 12 news indictments against Russian military officials for meddling in the U.S. 2016 presidential election on Friday.

In response, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, released a “narcissistic” statement, according to CNN’s Gloria Borger.

Giuliani said on Twitter: “The indictments Rod Rosenstein announced are good news for all Americans. The Russians are nailed. No Americans are involved. Time for Mueller to end this pursuit of the President and say President Trump is completely innocent.”

During an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Borger was disgusted at Giuliani’s response.

“Where is the outrage?” Tapper asked.

“First of all, there isn’t any outrage. If there’s such a thing as a narcissistic official White House statement, this is it,” she said. “This is about Donald Trump, saying, see, we didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

She continued: “Where, is the president of the United States says, you know, we have to find a way to make sure that this does not occur again? This is a cyber war, and we have to defend ourselves. Instead, we got this self-serving statement from the president of the United States.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0NnYpv8ch4

*****************

Watch CNN’s Anderson Cooper hilariously rake Trump over the coals for living in a ‘witch hunt’ fantasy world

Martin Cizmar
Raw Story
14 Jul 2018 at 20:53 ET                  

CNN host Anderson Cooper opened his Friday night show with a sharp-edged takedown of President Trump’s claim that he is the victim of a witch hunt.

Earlier today, special prosecutor Robert Mueller handed down indictments that directly connect Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign to the Kremlin.

“All the White House did say was, essentially: ‘Nothing to do with us, nothing to see here,'” Cooper said. “What they haven’t been saying as well, that this was, you know, a direct attack aimed at the heart of the country’s democracy.”

Cooper then debriefed the day’s events and the allegations in the indictments.

“Again, just to be clear, that ‘witch hunt,’ as the president called it, has now yielded 191 charges against 32 individuals and three companies,” Cooper said. “And the president knew about it. Certainly hasn’t stopped him from talking or tweeting about the search for women wearing pointy hats, riding broom sticks. By our count, the president has tweeted 84 times using the term ‘witch-hunt’ to describe the Russia probe.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAbRlPbD20g

*************

How Do You Say ‘Witch Hunt’ in Russian?

It sure is strange that Donald Trump is so angry at American justice for the indictment of 12 Russian military officers.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

July 13, 2018
NY Times

You might expect that an American president, presented with the indictment of a dozen Russian military officers for engaging in a concerted, yearslong cyberattack on American democracy, would be outraged and demand justice. 

Donald Trump is outraged, all right. But his anger is directed at his fellow Americans. He shows no sign of canceling his meeting scheduled for Monday with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, or insisting on, say, the extradition of the defendants to stand trial. He is instead reserving his fire and fury for the investigation itself — which he prefers to call a “hoax” — and for the American law-enforcement community that has been working to protect the nation ever since it first became aware of the Russian interference more than two years ago.

That’s been Mr. Trump’s reaction almost every time he’s been confronted with evidence showing that the Russian government undertook a coordinated campaign to help swing the election in his favor. In July 2016, then-candidate Trump wrote on Twitter, “The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC emails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me.”

    The new joke in town is that Russia leaked the disastrous DNC e-mails, which should never have been written (stupid), because Putin likes me
    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2016

Mr. Trump, who was notified of the coming indictment earlier this week, kept up his mockery before it was announced, calling the special counsel’s investigation a “witch hunt” on Friday morning.

So who are the witches this time? Twelve Russian military intelligence officials who, according to the indictment, hacked into the computer systems of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee, and state voter rolls and voting software, stealing emails and other documents and then posting them online under false identities, including Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks, to hide their Russian origins.

The hackers used familiar techniques, like spearphishing (which tricks unwitting users into sharing personal information) and installing malware to monitor specific computers and steal their data. The hackers transferred those stolen documents to another organization that the indictment does not name. But it appears to be WikiLeaks, which was the source of many of the leaks of Democratic emails during the 2016 campaign, and was in regular contact with Mr. Trump’s advisers. 

The hackers also infiltrated state-level election systems, including the computer networks of state election boards and of a company that supplies software used to run elections. In one state, they stole half a million voters’ personal information, including their names, addresses, birth dates and partial Social Security numbers. 

Friday’s indictment does not allege that any Americans knowingly broke the law or that the conspiracy changed the outcome of the election. Nor does it allege that the unnamed Americans it referred to were aware that they were corresponding with Russian officials — a straw that Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, grasped as though his life depended on it. “The Russians are nailed. No Americans are involved,” Mr. Giuliani tweeted in a message as predictable as it was premature. A former federal prosecutor himself, Mr. Giuliani is well aware that the details of any specific indictment — especially one that is part of a complex, long-running investigation — have little bearing on what future indictments might bring.

In fact, there are already piles of evidence that Mr. Trump and top officials in his campaign were not only aware of the Russian hacking at the time, but were encouraging it. Remember the July 2016 news conference where Mr. Trump asked Russia to hack Mrs. Clinton’s emails? “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said. Another “joke,” his defenders claimed at the time. On or about the same day, according to the indictment, the Russians tried to hack into multiple email accounts used by Mrs. Clinton’s personal office, as well as dozens more associated with her campaign.

And then there was Donald Trump Jr.’s response to a June 2016 email offering “dirt” on Mrs. Clinton from a Russian government official. “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” the message said. Donald Jr., who was one of his father’s top campaign aides, immediately replied, “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

Friday’s indictment included more than a few hints about the next targets of Mr. Mueller’s investigation. For example, in August 2016, a candidate for Congress requested stolen documents from Guccifer 2.0, who sent documents related to that candidate’s opponent.

On the same day, Guccifer wrote to a person “in regular contact with senior members” of the Trump campaign, apparently Roger Stone, “thank u for writing back … do u find anything interesting in the docs I posted?” A couple of days later, Guccifer wrote, “please tell me if i can help u anyhow … it would be a great pleasure to me.”

Don’t forget that Mr. Mueller has already secured guilty pleas showing ties between Mr. Trump’s campaign and the Russian government, including from one foreign-policy adviser to the campaign who lied to authorities about his communications with a professor who offered damaging information on Mrs. Clinton — a professor he knew was linked to Russian officials.

Responding to this shouldn’t be difficult. Russian officials attacked American democracy in 2016, and the intelligence community has warned us that they’re coming back for more. But Mr. Trump seems incapable of perceiving the threat, while Republicans in Congress spend their time fulminating not about the assault on American sovereignty, but about the private text messages of an F.B.I. agent investigating that attack.

As Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein rightly said after announcing the indictment, in the face of such an assault, “it’s important for us to avoid thinking politically, as Republicans or Democrats, and instead to think patriotically as Americans.”

Good advice. If only Mr. Trump and his servile defenders in Congress would heed it.


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« Reply #4354 on: Jul 14, 2018, 06:08 AM »

America First, America Hated, America Alone

Trump intends to bring about the collapse of the liberal international order,  in its  commitment to open societies and its institutions.

By Bret Stephens
Opinion Columnist
NY Times
July 14, 2018

Some near-forgotten anniversaries are worth commemorating. One hundred years ago —  Bastille Day, 1918 — Theodore Roosevelt’s youngest son, Quentin, was killed in aerial combat at the Second Battle of the Marne. Twenty-six years later, Quentin’s oldest brother, Ted, also died in France, after landing at Utah Beach on D-Day.

Quentin and Ted are buried side-by-side at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer. It’s a moving sight for everyone who still believes in the cause for which they and their brothers in arms fought and died — above all, the idea, possibility and preservation of a free world, anchored and inspired by America but not subservient to it.

In other words, the things that Donald Trump has spent his presidency trashing under the historically sordid banner of “America First.”

That trashing reached some sort of climax this week with the president’s excruciating tantrum against Germany at the NATO summit in Brussels, followed by his gratuitous humiliation of British Prime Minister Theresa May via an interview in a Murdoch tabloid. Maybe next he’ll propose that Vladimir Putin rejoin the Group of 7 — except he already did that in Canada more than a month ago, right around the time he launched a trade war with Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

What does all this achieve?

No doubt just what Trump intends: the collapse of the liberal international order, both in its animating commitment to open societies as well as its defining international institutions —  the G-7, NATO, the European Union, the World Trade Organization. Seen in this light, the president’s wretched behavior isn’t — or isn’t merely — the product of a defective personality. It’s the result of a willful ideology.

So much should be clear by the president’s negotiating style, guaranteed as it is to elicit “no” for an answer.

It’s fair to expect that other NATO members should spend more of their gross domestic product on defense; and fair to expect, too, that they should reach the 2 percent benchmark sometime sooner than 2024. It isn’t fair to demand, as Trump does, that they reach the 2 percent mark by January, and then increase it to 4 percent.

It’s fair to say that the U.S. could use its leverage to negotiate more advantageous trade deals. It isn’t fair to insist on politically untenable trade concessions he knows other countries won’t make — a sunset clause for Nafta, for example — in order to destroy these agreements permanently while blaming the other side.

It’s fair to say that it will be difficult for Britain to negotiate an independent trade agreement with the U.S. if it maintains E.U. rules on trade in goods. But Trump’s goal isn’t to help steer May through Brexit. It’s to bring her government down and replace her with Boris Johnson, because the former foreign secretary “obviously likes me and says very good things about me.”

Above all, it’s fair to prod and cajole and quarrel with our core allies — in private. But Trump is out to embarrass them in public, putting them to the choice of becoming enemies or toadies, breaking up or sucking up. That’s no doubt fine with him: America First is America Feared. But it is also America hated, and hated with justification. Where’s the upside in that?

For Trump, the upside is the substitution of a liberal order with an illiberal one, based on conceits about sovereignty, nationality, religion and ethnicity. These are the same conceits that Vladimir Putin has long made his own, which helps explain Trump’s affinity for his Russian counterpart and his distress that Robert Mueller’s investigation “really hurts our relationship with Russia,” as he remarked Friday.

It also explains his undisguised contempt for contemporary European democracy and his efforts to replace it with something more Trumpian: xenophobic, protectionist and truculent. This is the Europe of Germany’s Alexander Gauland, France’s Marine Le Pen, Britain’s Nigel Farage, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Poland’s Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and Italy’s Matteo Salvini. Note that the last three are already in power.

All this must be gratifying to Trump’s sense of his historical importance. For America, it’s a historical disaster. The United States can only lead a world that’s prepared to follow.

But follow what? Not the rules of trade that America once set but now claims are rigged against it. Not the democratic ideals that America once embodied but now treats with disdain. Not the example of fighting bullies, after it has now become one.

This will suit Americans for whom the idea of a free world always seemed like a distant abstraction. It will suit Europeans whose anti-Americanism predates Trump’s arrival by decades. And it will especially suit Putin, who knows that an America that stands for its own interests first also stands, and falls, alone. Surely the dead at Colleville-sur-Mer fought for something greater than that.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

Bret L. Stephens joined The Times as an Op-Ed columnist in 2017 after a long career with The Wall Street Journal, where he was deputy editorial page editor and a foreign affairs columnist. Before that he was the editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post.


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« Reply #4355 on: Jul 14, 2018, 06:11 AM »

Germans fear they can’t ‘survive 8 years’ of ‘evil’ Trump: report

Martin Cizmar
Raw Story
14 Jul 2018 at 16:45 ET                   

In the wake of World War II, the United States was much kinder to German citizens than they dared hope.

That left a lasting impression on the Germans, writes New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg in a new piece about how betrayed the Germans feel.

“America was seen as the guarantor of the liberal democratic order, an order in which Germany, abandoning its aggressive history, would come to thrive,” she writes. “And so for many Germans, it’s a profound shock that the president of the United States now attacks that order, while appearing to fawn over Russia.”

Even more than other Europeans, Germans tend to see Trump’s efforts to undermine NATO as a “funeral” of sorts, she writes.

“Germans have grown accustomed to the fact that the United States would always be their friends,” said Klaus Scharioth, Germany’s ambassador to the United States during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. “And it’s like when a very good friend leaves you. It hurts. I would say of all European countries, the Germans psychologically are the ones who are wounded most.”

He has not alone.

“That was the dream of everybody in the world, that one day we would all live in democracies,” said Cem Özdemir of the center-left Green Party. “One day, we would all live in a world that is fair and just. If the guy in the center of this world is evil, evil has won.”

“The trans-Atlantic relationship is not going to survive eight years of Trump,” said Marcel Dirsus, a political scientist at the University of Kiel. “What comes next is anyone’s guess,” he said.

Rubin writes that the disillusionment is felt most acutely by the Germans who “do believe in the best of American values” but where the U.S. now “can’t be trusted.”

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« Reply #4356 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:02 AM »


'A goldmine': mummies' secrets uncovered in Egypt

Archaeologists find mummification workshop in the Saqqara necropolis

Ruth Michaelson
Guardian
16 Jul 2018 16.00 BST

Deep below the sands of the Saqqara necropolis, archaeologists have uncovered a unique discovery they say reveals the secrets of the ancient Egyptian mummies.

A mummification workshop and adjoining burial shaft as well as five mummies, their bejewelled sarcophagi, figurines, and a gilded silver and onyx mummy mask were all unearthed at the site, which archeologists say provides a wealth of new knowledge about the mummification process.

“We are standing before a goldmine of information,” said Dr Ramadan Badry Hussein, director of the Saqqara Saite Tombs Project which oversees the excavation. Hussein beamed as he stood before a crowd of journalists and diplomats who had gathered at the dig site, in the shadow of the step pyramid of Djoser, to view the new finds.

“This [discovery] is so important as it’s extensive. We have oils and measuring cups – all of them are labelled … from this we can find the chemical composition of the oils and discover what they are,” he said.

The embalming workshop and adjoining 30-metre (98ft) burial shaft, dating from the Saite-Persian period (664-404 BC), also give clues about their ancient inhabitants’ former status.

“There are clear socioeconomic differences between the mummies in the shaft,” said Hussein. “We see that mummification happened above ground, while some of those buried down there were either buried in private or shared chambers.”

The find is a boon for scholars of ancient Egypt and archeologists, who believe that the workshop and the mummies discovered in the burial shaft will provide new information about how the ancient Egyptians buried their dead. The find also comes as Egypt is preparing to open a museum to better display its rich archeological wonders, as visitor numbers slowly edge towards the highs witnessed prior to the 2011 revolution.

The site where the embalming workshop was unearthed was originally excavated in the late 19th century, but a joint project between an Egyptian and German team chose to re-excavate it in 2016.

“Egypt needs a second round of excavation, focusing on the old sites explored in the early 20th century,” Hussein told the crowd. “We can use new examination and documentation techniques, and it will be fruitful every time. We find new things that were left behind.”

Further excavation will continue at the site, intended to unseal several chambers adjoining the embalming workshop as well as opening four out of the five sarcophagi later this year.

“This is just the beginning,” said Dr Mostafa Waziry, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, who briefly paused between interviews to jump down into the dig site with a torch. “It’s a very rich area. I’m sure we’re going to find more.”

The discovery comes as Egypt is hoping that new ways of displaying its archeological wealth will draw in more visitors, in particular the new Grand Egyptian Museum set to open close to the famed Giza pyramid complex in 2019.

“Egypt never ceases to surprise the world in terms of new discoveries of its ancient history,” said Dr Tarek Tawfiq, director of the new museum, as he stood at the top of the excavation site in the summer heat. “We will also surprise the world with how we display these discoveries.”

An estimated 8.3 million tourists visited the Arab world’s most populous nation in 2017, a huge increase from the lean years following the 2011 revolution and 2013 military coup, as well as the downing of Metrojet KGL9268 in Sinai, which killed all 224 people on board.

But despite the new finds and museums intended to draw in more tourists, Egypt remains dogged by ongoing investigations into the incidents that drove tourists away.

Earlier this week, Egyptian officials lashed out at a statement from France’s civil aviation bureau BEA, who provided rare public criticism of Egyptian intransigence over the investigation into the 2016 crash of EgyptAir MS804 from Paris, which killed all 66 people on board.

French officials have said that the most likely cause of the crash was a cockpit fire. In an unusual public split, Egypt’s top prosecutor labelled claims by French investigators “baseless”. Egyptian officials continue to claim that terrorism was responsible for the crash.


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« Reply #4357 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:04 AM »


Waste incineration set to overtake recycling in England, Greens warn

Amount of rubbish burned by local authorities triples while household recycling rates stall

Adam Vaughan
Guardian
Mon 16 Jul 2018 06.01 BST

England is on the brink of burning more of its rubbish in incinerators than it recycles for the first time, according to a new analysis.

The amount of waste managed by local authorities and sent to incinerators, or energy-from-waste plants, tripled between 2010-11 and 2016-17. By contrast, household recycling rates have stalled since 2013.

If those trends continue, the millions of tonnes of waste incinerated will overtake the amount sent for recycling by the end of the current financial year, a report by the Green party found.

London, the West Midlands and north-east already burn more than they recycle.

The Greens, who argue that incineration is bad for climate change and holds back recycling rates, said it was shocking that recycling was now going to be overtaken nationally.

Baroness Jones, the Green party peer, said: “There is a logic to generating energy from the waste that we cannot recycle or reuse, but it is meant to be the last resort option. What we have created instead is a market-driven system of incinerators which constantly need to be fed.”

In 2016-17, the last year for which official data is available, about 4m tonnes were landfilled, about 10m incinerated and just over 11m recycled or composted.

However, the Greens did not look at how many new incinerators are in the planning pipeline, and only extrapolated from previous trends.

Just one new incinerator started construction last year, in Bristol, suggesting the rapid growth in recent years may be slowing down.

There were 40 energy-from-waste facilities in the UK in 2017, up from 26 in 2014. Together they have a combined operational capacity of handling 12m tonnes of waste a year, a figure that experts expect will rise to nearly 16m by 2022.

Jacob Hayler, executive director at waste trade association the ESA, said: “Too often the debate is set up as recycling v incineration – that’s the wrong way to frame it. Really, it’s landfill against incineration for things you can’t recycle.”

He said cuts to local authority budgets were to blame for recycling stagnating, not incineration growth. “The trend is there isn’t enough policy support for recycling, so recycling rates have slowed down.”

The French, British and Spanish firms looking to build more incinerators will also come under scrutiny for their impact on air pollution on Tuesday in a cross-party report by MPs.


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« Reply #4358 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:07 AM »


'Like losing family': time may be running out for New Zealand's most sacred tree

Tāne Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) is about 2,500 years old. But its days will be numbered if it succumbs to kauri dieback

Eleanor Ainge Roy in Dunedin
Guardian
16 Jul 2018 02.24 BST

New Zealand’s oldest and most sacred tree stands 60 metres from death, as a fungal disease known as kauri dieback spreads unabated across the country.

Tāne Mahuta (Lord of the Forest) is a giant kauri tree located in the Waipoua forest in the north of the country, and is sacred to the Māori people, who regard it as a living ancestor.

The tree is believed to be around 2,500 years old, and is 13.77m across and more than 50m tall.

Thousands of locals and tourists alike visit the tree every year to pay their respects, and take selfies beside the trunk.

Now, the survival of what is believed to be New Zealand’s oldest living tree is threatened by kauri dieback, with kauri trees a mere 60m from Tāne Mahuta confirmed to be infected.

Kauri dieback causes most infected trees to die, and is threatening to completely wipe out New Zealand’s most treasured native tree species, prized for its beauty, strength and use in boats, carvings and buildings.

Despite stringent efforts by local iwi [Māori tribes] to combat the spread – most commonly through infected soil tramped in on walkers’ boots, or the hooves of wild pigs – there is no cure, and native tree experts are calling for international help to slow the demise of kauri dieback and save Tāne Mahuta.

Amanda Black from the Bioprotection Research Centre at NZ’s Lincoln University, estimates Tāne has only three to six months before becoming infected – if he is not already – as his mammoth root system spreads in excess of 60m underground.

An advisory panel was launched by the government in June in a bid to tackle the spread of the disease, but Black says the panel was the equivalent of “shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic.” She wants Tāne soil tested immediately to confirm whether or not the tree is infected, but this option is proving controversial.

On Thursday, Black was invited to attend a hikoi for Tāne in Waipoua forest, held by the local tribe, Te Roroa, who prayed for the tree’s safety and wellbeing as the disease inches ever close.

“We don’t have any time to do the usual scientific trials anymore, we just have to start responding immediately in any way possible; it is not ideal but we have kind of run out of time,” Black says, adding that although there is no cure for kauri dieback there is a range of measures which could slow its progress.

“Tāne is the nearest thing to a sentient being that we can measure time by. For Māori in particular, it is their ancestor. For them to lose trees like that is equivalent to losing family members,” she says.

Taoho Patuawa, a spokesperson for Te Roroa, says solutions being discussed include closing the entire forest and felling nearby infected trees.

Presently, raised boardwalks and boot-cleaning stations are the frontline defence, as well as conservation department rangers, Māori guardians and volunteers who patrol vulnerable forests.

Last year Auckland tribe Te Kawerau a Maki issued a rāhui (temporary ban) over the Waitākere and Hunua ranges to the west of Auckland, prohibiting anyone from entering the forest.

Auckland council added its support and surveillance to the ban this June, but biosecurity experts say locals feel “entitled” to enter the bush, and are largely to blame for ignoring warnings and bans.

“Closure is the best thing we’ve got, especially if the authorities got behind it and enforced it. The forest needs to rest,” says Black.

Conservation minister Eugenie Sage said Kauri dieback was “devastating” for New Zealand’s unique flora and fauna, but said the department of conservation [DOC] was confident the risk of the disease spreading by human traffic was “very low”, and wild pigs were now in the crosshairs.

    Dept of Conservation (@docgovtnz)

    We're seeking public input on a new proposal to close various tracks in the kauri region to help prevent the spread of kauri dieback disease: https://t.co/hMQ1ZXzXQw

    📷: Alan Cressler pic.twitter.com/zXAvtS87sT
    July 11, 2018

Dead Kauri trees take on a ghostly white appearance in the landscape, and according to Northland residents, dead Kauri trees are now visible from all the roads surrounding the Waipoua Forest.

“Sometimes people are overwhelmed and end up crying,” Vanessa Rapira of the Te Roroa tribe told the Guardian last year.

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« Reply #4359 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:09 AM »


Weatherwatch: Antarctica proves to be even colder than previously thought

Data from Nasa satellites has been matched with weather station information to reveal a chilly new low

Kate Ravilious
Guardian
16 Jul 2018 21.30 BST

Where is the coldest place on Earth? Antarctica; yes, but where exactly?

On 23 July 1983, the thermometer at the Vostok station, high on the East Antarctic plateau on recorded the lowest measured air temperature on Earth: a frigid -89.2C. But, in recent years, satellite data has revealed it can get even colder.

Measurements beamed back from the Modis instrument on board Nasa’s Terra and Aqua satellites have shown that a broad region of the plateau, more than 3500m above sea level, regularly experiences temperatures below -90°C during winter. By matching these measurements with automatic weather station data from Antarctica, scientists have shown that temperatures can plummet to -98°C, and that the coldest locations are found in small hollows in the ice – about two to three metres deep – on the southern side of the high ridges on the plateau.

The findings, published in Geophysical Research Letters, reveal that clear skies and several days of bone-dry air make for the coldest conditions. That’s because super-cold and dry air is denser than the slightly warmer air around it, so it falls into the hollow and becomes trapped, allowing the air above to cool further.


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« Reply #4360 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:11 AM »

Sedum roofs doing well in heatwave

Sedum roofs can be afflicted by weeds in wet weather, but only buddleia can survive heatwave

Paul Brown
Guardian
16 Jul 2018 21.30 BST

In theory green roofs that are planted with sedums require no maintenance. The growing medium, described as substrate rather than soil, looks like lumpy brick dust that seems too impoverished to sustain anything. Sedums are succulents, however, and thrive in such conditions, especially without competition from other plants.

So far, so good; but dandelions, thistles and – worst of all – buddleia bushes, with seeds that float on the wind, have other ideas. These weeds can appear in large numbers in spring. Seven years’ experience shows it is the weather that plays a crucial role in subsequent maintenance. Although the invaders are often in miniature because of poor nutrition, the thistles and dandelions do flower and produce seed if there is regular rain, but with a long enough dry spell, they shrivel and die.
Six tips to help wildlife in the heat
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The exception is the buddleia, which withstands the harshest conditions. These seedlings have to be pulled out each spring to protect the lining of the roof – thankfully, not a difficult task in loose brick dust. This weekend a trip up the ladder revealed a glorious forest of sedum flowers and not a single weed in sight. The heatwave has at least done wonders for this part of the garden.

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« Reply #4361 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:16 AM »

Trump UK protests: Why environmental groups are protesting ‘climate vandal’ US president

'Those who are already vulnerable and powerless are suffering the most under the climate-denier-in-chief'

Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent
Independent
6/16/2018
   
As tens of thousands gathered in London to protest the visit of Donald Trump, among them were protesters calling out the US president’s less than exemplary record on the environment.

Branding Mr Trump a “climate wrecker” and a “climate vandal”, green groups object particularly to his withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement – a move scientists say has put global security at risk.

“It does often get lost in the more immediate human rights abuses, but if Trump succeeds in derailing international climate action the consequences of that are going to be unthinkable,” Claire James from the Campaign against Climate Change told The Independent.   

“The planet is really at a tipping point at the moment. Scientists are warning ever more urgently that we need to act, and we don’t have time to hang around while Trump tries a last ditch effort to rescue fossil fuels.”

Since taking power, the current US administration has spurned efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slashed funding for climate science.

While much of the world moves towards renewable energy sources to meet its emissions targets, Mr Trump has stressed his desire to revitalise the fossil fuel industry and push “beautiful, clean coal” in the US.

Under its recently departed head Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency was sent in “exactly the wrong” direction, according to Democrat senator Bernie Sanders. Many accused Mr Pruitt of acting in the interests of the nation’s polluters and fossil fuel industry.

Mr Trump himself is a known climate sceptic – suggesting global warming is a “hoax” perpetrated by China and demonstrating a misunderstanding of climate trends in an interview with Piers Morgan in January.

While expressing his fondness for “clean air and clean water”, the president opined that ice caps are currently “at a record level”, despite Nasa data revealing sea ice extent in both the Arctic and the Antarctic is currently at its lowest point in living memory.

“The most powerful man on the planet is a climate-wrecker,” said Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth (FoE) chief executive.

“Since taking the Oval Office Trump has trampled over climate change progress, reneged on the Paris agreement and clearly scoffs at any link between the environment and issues of race and social justice.
 
“Those who are already vulnerable and powerless are suffering the most under the climate-denier-in-chief.”

FoE and the Campaign against Climate Change led the protest’s climate change bloc, and were joined by many who had never taken part in rallies before.

The night before the march, anti-Trump protesters unfurled a banner across from the Houses of Parliament reading “Trump: Climate Genocide”.


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« Reply #4362 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:20 AM »

World’s poorest people bearing costs of rainforest conservation that benefits entire world, scientists warn

'Instead of you and me having to fly less, and drive less, and people in cities around the world having to live their western lifestyles less – it’s poor people in far away places having to change their livelihoods'

Josh Gabbatiss Science Correspondent
Independent
6/16/2018    

Richer nations are “freeloading” off some of the poorest communities in the world by forcing them to foot the bill for rainforest conservation, according to a new study.

In Madagascar, an island known for its stunning biodiversity and lush tropical forests, farming communities are abandoning their way of life to satisfy the demands of international climate change prevention programmes.

Crucially, despite clear commitments by the likes of the World Bank to compensate those harmed by these programmes, such compensation is not taking place.

To investigate this phenomenon, a team of Malagasy and British scientists examined the impact of one of the UN’s Redd+ projects in the eastern part of the island.

Redd+ has the goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by preventing deforestation, but the researchers found that if not properly implemented the scheme can have devastating consequences.

“The whole world needs to slow carbon emissions in the interest of mitigating climate change, and there has been a lot of interest in doing that through slowing deforestation in the tropics,” Professor Julia Jones, one of the team leaders based at Bangor University, told The Independent.

It is in Madagascar’s interests to protect its forests, not only due to its abundance of wildlife but also economic benefits such as tourism.

However, the popularity of anti-deforestation measures is partly due to the relative ease with which international politicians can push such measures through.

“That’s because of course instead of you and me having to fly less, and drive less, and people in cities around the world having to live their western lifestyles less – it’s poor people in far away places having to change their livelihoods.”

Madagascar ranks among the poorest countries in the world, with high levels of malnutrition and poor infrastructure, and many people there rely on clearing areas of forest to farm.

“Those who clear land for agriculture are often those that are most food insecure,” said Dr Sarobidy Rakotonarivo, a Malagasy researcher based at the University of Stirling who co-authored the paper.

In their study, published in the journal PeerJ, the scientists focused specifically on the Ankeniheny Zahamena Corridor conservation project, which covers an area of high biodiversity including the indri – the world’s largest lemur.

In total throughout their study area, the researchers estimated that 27,000 people have been harmed by the initiative, with traditional forms of agriculture halted and insufficient compensation given to the local people. Many farmers received no compensation at all.

Professor Jones said this is a pattern that is repeated in many marginalised communities around the world.

“Beyond the economic costs of not being able to grow food to feed their family, local people suffer from conservation enforcement,” said Dr Rakotonarivo.

“I have heard firsthand reports of people being arrested and held in deplorable conditions for cultivating on forest fallow which they consider ancestral land. In a country where jail conditions are inhumane, this shows how desperate people are.”

However, Professor Jones said while it is easy to lay the blame on the Malagasy government, the real problem is that the rich world is “essentially freeloading on extremely poor forest residents”.

“Britain has made quite a large commitment through the green climate fund to fund these kind of Redd+ activities,” she said.

“But as a global community we are nowhere near paying enough for these issues so ultimately it’s about having a carbon tax or something that would raise the price of carbon and means there was more money on the table.”


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« Reply #4363 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:25 AM »

Belize Barrier Reef: Unesco removes largest coral reef system in Northern Hemisphere from endangered list

Experts caution 'long-term danger to world’s reefs from climate change remains real'

Independent
6/16/2018 

It was a drop of good news about the world’s oceans: The Belize Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef system in the Northern Hemisphere, has been removed from the United Nations list of endangered world heritage sites.

Unesco, the world body’s educational, scientific and cultural agency, says its heritage committee voted Tuesday to remove the reef from its list of threatened sites because it no longer faced immediate danger from development.

“In the last two years, especially in the last year, the government of Belize really has made a transformational shift,” says Fanny Douvere, the coordinator of the marine program at Unesco’s World Heritage Centre.   

UN officials initially cited “mangrove cutting and excessive development” as the main concern when the reef was added to the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2009. They have also expressed concern about oil exploration. Since then, the Belize government has imposed a moratorium on oil exploration around the reef and implemented protections for coastal mangrove forests.

Experts cautioned, though, that the long-term danger to the world’s reefs from climate change remains real.

“The primary threats are all still there,” says John Bruno, a marine ecologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “The big one, of course, is ocean warming.”

The world’s largest coral ecosystem, the Great Barrier Reef, has been hit hard by rising temperatures in recent years. An underwater heatwave in Australian waters two years ago spurred a die-off of coral so severe that scientists say that reef will never look the same again.

Scientists say they have observed signs of coral bleaching on the Belize reef. Bleaching occurs when unusually warm water causes the corals to lose plant-like organisms that help keep them alive. In 2015 and 2016, almost a quarter of the corals off the Belizean coast were affected by bleaching, according to a report by the Healthy Reefs for Healthy People Initiative, an organisation that monitors reefs.
The Great Barrier Reef at its best - and worst

If most of the world’s coral reefs die, as scientists fear is increasingly likely, some of the richest and most colourful life in the ocean could be lost, along with income from reef tourism. In poorer countries, lives are at stake: hundreds of millions of people get their protein primarily from reef fish, and a reduction of that food supply could become a humanitarian crisis.

Australia successfully demanded that a chapter detailing damage to the Great Barrier Reef be cut from a 2016 Unesco report on threatened heritage sites so that it would not affect tourism.

The Belize Barrier Reef system, which extends roughly 200 miles along the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1996. The system is made up of a series of coral reefs, cays and islands, many of which are covered with mangroves.

Despite covering less than a thousandth of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to more than a quarter of marine fish species. The state of reefs is considered an important indicator of the overall health of the seas.


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« Reply #4364 on: Jul 16, 2018, 04:45 AM »


Hold by Michael Donkor review – a Ghanaian housemaid’s tale

A bold literary debut gives voice to a female section of Ghanaian society that is often seen but not heard

Arifa Akbar
Guardian
Mon 16 Jul 2018 08.00 BST

Michael Donkor has said that the inspiration for this debut novel came from the housemaids who cooked, cleaned and waited on him on childhood trips to his extended family in Ghana. These women were ubiquitous but always silent.

In Hold, he gives them a voice through Belinda, a 17-year-old domestic servant who is sent from a well-heeled Ghanaian household in Kumasi to look after Amma, a troubled teenager who lives with her Ghanaian-born parents in Clapham, south London. Belinda leaves behind a younger housemaid, Mary, a mischievous and lovable character whom she has come to see as a younger sister.

The novel does not address issues around domestic servitude head-on, although we are shown the emotional fallout of Belinda’s forced displacement from a household, and a continent. She accepts her move uncomplainingly, but however kindly she is treated by the Otuo family in London – they do not want her to cook or clean, and encourage her to concentrate on her education – their self-serving decision to uproot her, purely to be a pet maid to the seemingly spoilt Amma, creates an underlying unease.

While this remains an undercurrent in the novel, it is female sexuality that is at the fore. Donkor, who came out to his family in his 20s, has said it is “kind of un-Ghanaian” to be openly gay, and here, Amma’s story illuminates the cultural taboos around homosexuality, while Belinda’s character reveals both her own secret shame and hostile judgment of Amma.

    The focus is on the love that flows between women and the need for Belinda to find a place that feels like home

Donkor, who was chosen earlier this year as one of the Observer’s best debut novelists of 2018, also puts female friendship at the book’s core. Belinda’s camaraderie with Mary is beautifully depicted, right up to its tragic end. Although Belinda is Amma’s age, the cultural difference poses a seemingly unbridgeable divide (when Amma listens to Radiohead, for example), yet they come to learn from each other and connect. Belinda also bonds with Amma’s mother, Nana, through their shared memories of Ghana, despite their generational and class differences.

Donkor works as a teacher and it takes a certain courage for a London-born, male author to write from the points of view of girls and women from Ghana. It pays off and he inhabits their heads and hearts convincingly. He is particularly good at shining a light on the loneliness in Belinda’s life and the psychological games she plays to navigate her unsettled sense of self. Belinda does not have the luxury of a fixed identity – she must adapt herself to every new household, so she makes herself as amenable as she can to the initially stony Amma, using different tactics and personas to appeal to her.

She advises Mary to do the same when the girl complains about the drudgery of her domestic chores. Belinda encourages her to create an alter ego who loves the work, to give her a name and imagine herself in this woman’s skin. “Even imagine you are the type that enjoys it all,” she says. Identity and transformation here is about forbearance and learning to adopt a role that threatens to belittle and undermine a sense of self.

At times, there are flashes of Jane Eyre in Belinda’s role as a “governess” of sorts, but there is no Mr Rochester to save her from her life, nor a sugary ending. The focus is on the love that flows between women and the need for Belinda to find a place that feels like home.

Amma, at one point, reflects on the lives around her and thinks that there are “all these black women mired in different kinds of shit”. Their lives are hard, yet a profound sense of hope resonates from within Donkor’s warm and accomplished novel.

• Hold by Michael Donkor is published by 4th Estate (£12.99). To order a copy for £9.99 go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99


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