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Iran asks West to leave Persian Gulf as tensions heightened
News ImageIran's president called Sunday on Western powers to leave the security of the Persian Gulf to regional nations led by Tehran, criticizing a new U.S.-led coalition patrolling the region's waterways as nationwide parades showcased the Islamic Republic's military arsenal. Hassan Rouhani separately promised to unveil a regional peace plan at this week's upcoming high-level meetings at the United Nations, which comes amid heightened Mideast tensions following a series of attacks, including a missile-and-drone assault on Saudi Arabia's oil industry. The U.S. alleges Iran carried out the Sept. 14 attack on the world's largest oil processor in the kingdom and an oil field, which caused oil prices to spike by the biggest percentage since the 1991 Gulf War.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 12:09:59 -0400
Mike Pence takes eight-vehicle motorcade across island where cars have been banned for a century
News ImageFor more than a century, motorised vehicles have been banned from Mackinac Island in Michigan - giving the former Revolutionary War battle site a unique charm and turning it into a tourist haven.The ban is so strictly enforced that when President Gerald Ford visited in 1975, he and first lady Betty Ford travelled by horse-drawn carriage.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 11:00:51 -0400
The Amex Business Platinum perks are so good it makes me want to start my own company
News ImageBGR has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. BGR and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.Please note: the offers mentioned below are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.One of our favorite rewards credit cards for ordinary consumers is The Platinum Card from American Express, which combines a big up-front welcome offer of 60,000 points (after using the card to spend $5,000 in your first three months) with a ton of luxe perks. The benefits range from an airline fee credit of up to $200 to American Express Concierge travel service, and much more. Business owners, meanwhile, fear not. The Business Platinum Card from American Express is a companion version of the charge card tailored to the needs of business people, and it not only has a similarly impressive lineup of benefits.You've also got until December 4, 2019, to take advantage of a limited-time, increased welcome bonus of up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points.Who needs this card: If you rack up frequent travel expenses over the course of your business operations, or even if you simply charge thousands of dollars a month in business expenses to a charge card, it's hard to argue the Amex Business Platinum doesn't deserve a spot in your wallet.Why you should sign up for one right now: The current welcome points offer means if you can put $25,000 in charges on this card in your first three months of card ownership (and before December 4), the 100,000 Membership Rewards points bonus can be yours. Yes, that's a big outlay in order to get the welcome reward, but since this is a business card we're talking about that's not an unreasonable amount of expense to put on a charge card.Moreover, based on the most recent monthly valuations from The Points Guy, 100,000 Membership Rewards points are worth $2,000 in travel, which makes this card's bonus an extremely lucrative one and potentially worth the high spending levels. We should also add -- you'll earn the welcome points in two tiers.Spent $10,000 on qualifying purchases in the first 3 months of card membership, and you'll earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points. Once you put another $15,000 on this card (for qualifying purchases) after that initial $10,000 -- and, again, still before the first three months are up -- then you'll earn an additional 50,000 points.If you read our previous post outlining the slew of lucrative benefits available to Amex Platinum cardmembers, you're already familiar with many of the benefits of the Amex Business Platinum. Both cards share perks like: * Up to $200 airline fee credit each year * Access to Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta) * Access to other lounges in the American Express Global Lounge Collection * Gold elite status with Hilton Honors and Gold elite status with Marriott Bonvoy * Upgrade with Points to request an airline ticket upgrade on select airlines * 5 points per dollar spent on flights and prepaid hotels (both must be booked through Amex Travel on the Business Platinum)However, here are some of the benefits you get that are exclusive to the business version of the Platinum card: * 10 free Gogo inflight Wi-Fi passes each year * 1.5x points on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million additional points per year) * A complimentary year of Platinum Global Access with WeWork (enrollment must be done by December 31, 2019) * Up to $200 in annual statement credits for Dell technology purchases, split into a $100 credit for January through June and another $100 credit for July through December The final wordWhile this card does come with a $595 annual fee that can seem hefty at the outset, if you take advantage of the $200 airline fee credit and the annual up to $200 Dell credit, you'll effectively pay a net of only $195 a year for the card. This card proves its worth and then some for any businessperson engaged in regular travel. From lounge access at almost any airport in the world to elite status at Hilton and Marriott hotels, plus helping you get onto the internet while in the air during flights, this card has tons of benefits (not to mention that welcome bonus that's higher than ever) just waiting for you to take advantage of.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 14:17:43 -0400
Florida school resource officer who arrested two kids, ages 6 and 8, is under investigation
News ImageAn Orlando school resource officer is facing an investigation after he arrested a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old on misdemeanor charges.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 14:26:35 -0400
Israel Could Not Survive Hamas' Missiles Without The Iron Dome
News ImageIsrael lives in a dangerous neighborhood.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 04:30:00 -0400
How Trump could lose the popular vote again and hold the White House
News ImageHillary Clinton won a majority but lost the presidency in the electoral college. A close election could bring a repeatDonald Trump waves to supporters as he arrives for a campaign rally in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty ImagesSome defeats never lose their sting. In Washington this week, Hillary Clinton summed up her bid for the White House in 2016.You can run the best campaign. You can have the best plans. You can get the nomination. You can win the popular vote. And you can lose the electoral college and therefore the election.Clinton beat Donald Trump in the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots yet lost the electoral college the body of people who represent states and actually get to choose the president by 304 votes to 227. A black swan event never to be repeated? No. In 2020, it could easily happen again.A study from the University of Texas at Austin found that the electoral college is much more likely than previously thought to elect the candidate who loses the popular vote. In close elections, researchers argues, such inversions are normal, not exceptional.In a race decided by less than 2% (2.6m votes), the study found, the probability of an inversion is 32%. In a race decided by less than 1% (1.3m votes), the probability is 45%.Its almost a coin flip, said Michael Geruso, an assistant economics professor.Some critics of Trump have never quite accepted him as the legitimate president, pointing out that he does not represent the will of the majority. After his uniquely divisive first term, a repeat could trigger a furious backlash.&> The Republicans do a really determined job of winning power with fewer voters&> &> Senator Sheldon WhitehouseIn 48 presidential elections since 1824 there have been four inversions: in 1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016. All four favoured Republicans, although the researchers argue there have been periods when it was more likely a Democrat would win by inversion.We wanted to understand, were these statistically likely events or were they flukes? Geruso said. And in some sense it was just shocking to us that no one had asked and answered that question yet.Geruso and his colleagues found that all the most common election models used by political scientists led to a very similar result for the probability of inversion.Theres lots of questions where different models would give different answers but, on the question of how likely is an electoral inversion in a close race, we dont need to agree or decide on what the perfect model of elections is. They all give the same answer.Clinton ran up huge margins in states such as California, Illinois and New York. Agonisingly, her loss of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by a combined 77,000 votes cost her the electoral college.Some analysts doubt Trump could get so lucky again. But Geruso said he has a decent chance of catching lightning in a bottle once more.Its really easy to look at the 2016 election and for people to feel like that was an extraordinary election, an extraordinary political moment, it was unusual in a lot of ways. And that may all be true but it turns out thats not why the 2016 election ended in a mismatch between the electoral college and national popular vote. It ended in an inversion because that election was close and close elections, we show, just have a relatively high probability of ending in an inversion.It is less about Trumps appeal to certain constituencies than simple geography and maths.Dont be tempted into thinking that the reason that 2020 might be an inversion is because Donald Trump is running in that race. Inversions are going to keep happening in close races for as long as we have the electoral college because they have been happening.According to Geruso, two major reasons are often cited for inversions. When Clinton won New York and California she did so by big margins, but when she lost states such as Florida or Ohio she did so narrowly. Thus there was an imbalance in the aggregate vote tallies.Secondly, since a states number of electoral college votes is determined by how many senators and representatives it has, and every state has two senators, small states have greater representation in the college relative to population size. Each senator in California represents nearly 20 million people. Each senator in Wyoming represents 290,000. The current alignment favours Republicans, although there are exceptions such as the District of Columbia.The researchers found a 77% probability that, if an inversion occurs, it will be a Democratic popular vote majority and a Republican electoral college win. Second-grade soccerSeveral Democratic candidates for president, including Senator Elizabeth Warren and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, have called for the college to be abolished. The party, however, is wrestling with how to exploit it as ruthlessly as Republicans do.Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, appearing on Real Time with Bill Maher, said: The Republicans do a really determined job of winning power with fewer voters and we dont take on that infrastructure and we dont take on that strategy. Were too happy fighting the fight of the minute. Its second-grade soccer, chasing the ball, and they are planning ahead.&> The electoral college actually undermines democracy&> &> LaTosha BrownSome observers fear the electoral college encourages voter suppression. Republican efforts to use voter ID laws to limit registration in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will be closely scrutinised.Stanley Greenberg, a Democratic pollster and strategist and author of new book RIP GOP, said: If there is a close national election, Republicans will resort to things they have done demonstrably well over the last decade of trying to suppress the vote.Theres no doubt that the Wisconsin case in 2016 was produced not by low turnout among African Americans but pushing them off the voter rolls with new voter ID laws, and so there was a sharp drop in eligible voters and people were prevented legally from voting. So obviously the most important thing is to make sure we did not have a close election.While southern states such as Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia have the highest proportions of African Americans in the country, those who vote for the Democrat are effectively ignored by the electoral college.Hillary Clinton delivers her concession speech, in the New Yorker hotel. Photograph: REX/ShutterstockLaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter, said: They never have any influence on picking the president because of winner takes all. It gives the impression everyone in the south is conservative.In these states its based on a systemic history of racism. What Im seeing is people of colour dont fundamentally believe theyre living in a democracy. Why dont you have proportional representation? What possible justification is there for winner takes all? The electoral college actually undermines democracy.Few expect Trump to win the popular vote. But in a chilling warning for Democrats, the New York Times suggested he could win the electoral college again, because mostly white working class rust belt states remain at the centre of the electoral map.A strategy rooted in racial polarization could at once energize parts of the presidents base and rebuild support among wavering white working-class voters, Nate Cohn wrote. Many of these voters backed Mr Trump in the first place in part because of his views on hot-button issues, including on immigration and race.Bill Whalen, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution think tank at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, noted that George W Bush lost the popular vote in 2000 but won it in 2004 after improving in Texas and post-9/11 New York.For Trump, he said, its a tight squeeze. Theres not much margin for error. But he could do it again, like he did in 2016, without the popular vote.So expect Trump derangement syndrome to get even worse.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 01:00:05 -0400
Stacks of cash shown at trial of Sudan's toppled leader Bashir
News ImageStacks of cash piled high were shown as evidence on Saturday against ousted Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir at his trial on charges of possessing illicit foreign currency and corruption. Millions of euros and Sudanese pounds were found at Bashir's residence in April after he was overthrown and detained by the military following months of demonstrations against his rule. The court heard four defense witnesses on Saturday, including Abubakr Awad, who was minister of state for the presidency until Bashir's fall, before it was adjourned until next Saturday.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 15:28:00 -0400
Swiss to hold high-altitude wake for lost glacier
News ImageDozens of people will undertake a "funeral march" up a steep Swiss mountainside on Sunday to mark the disappearance of an Alpine glacier amid growing global alarm over climate change. The Pizol "has lost so much substance that from a scientific perspective it is no longer a glacier," Alessandra Degiacomi, of the Swiss Association for Climate Protection, told AFP. Dressed in black, they will make the solemn two-hour "funeral march" up the side of Pizol mountain in northeastern Switzerland to the foot of the steep and rapidly melting ice formation, situated at an altitude of around 2,700 metres (8,850 feet) near the Liechtenstein and Austrian borders.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 22:10:38 -0400
History buff finds ships that sank in 1878 in Lake Michigan
News ImageA diver and maritime history buff has found two schooners that collided and sank into the cold depths of northern Lake Michigan more than 140 years ago. Bernie Hellstrom, of Boyne City, Michigan, said he was looking for shipwrecks about 10 years ago when a depth sounder on his boat noted a large obstruction about 200 feet (60 meters) down on the lake bottom near Beaver Island. "I've made hundreds of trips to Beaver Island and every trip I go out the sounder is on," he told The Associated Press on Friday.
Fri, 20 Sep 2019 21:41:19 -0400
105 people injured as a pair of strong earthquakes rattle Albania
News ImageCars were crushed by bricks falling from buildings in Albania's capital Tirana, as the country was struck by a pair of strong earthquakes on Saturday.According to the Ministry of Health, at least 68 people were injured, but some reports say there are as many as 105 people injured. The majority of injuries occurred in Durres and Tirana. There have been no reported deaths.The Saturday afternoon earthquake was followed by more than 100 aftershocks, authorities report. It also damaged about 600 homes and temporarily cut power and water facilities in Tirana and Durres.According to the United State Geological Survey (USGS), the first earthquake struck at 4:04 p.m., on Saturday near Durres, about 18 miles (29 km) to the west of Tirana.A second earthquake struck just 11 minutes later a short distance away. Shake Map of the larger 5.6 earthquake in Albania on Saturday, September 21, courtesy of the USGS. The first and larger earthquake was reported as a magnitude 5.6 on the Richter Scale, which is Albania's strongestearthquakein 30 years. The second was measured to be slightly weaker at 5.1.Buildings were damaged in the town of Durres which is close to the epicenter.&> A university building in Tirana pic.twitter.com/J5UVYyrJOh&> &> -- Fatjona Mejdini (@FatjonaMejdini) September 21, 2019&> Durres albania earthquake pic.twitter.com/BWPIWvErk1&> &> -- Alice Taylor (@The_Balkanista) September 21, 2019
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 13:13:40 -0400
Joe Biden got defensive during an LGBTQ forum in Iowa, calling the moderator 'a real sweetheart' as they walked offstage
News ImageWhen the moderator at the LGBTQ forum for presidential candidates pressed Joe Biden on his record, he called her 'a real sweetheart' afterward.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 21:09:32 -0400
More Fracking, or More War?
News ImageHere is a news lead that begins with a bang and ends with a whimper: The strike on the heartland of Saudi Arabias oil industry, including damage to the worlds biggest petroleum-processing facility, has driven oil prices to their highest level in here, Reuters should have used some ellipses of irony nearly four months.Four months!If the United States declines to go to war against Iran on behalf of Saudi Arabia, our increasingly troublesome client state, one of the reasons for that happy development will be: because we do not need to. It is no longer the case that the world sneezes when the Saudis catch a cold. U.S. interests and Saudi interests remain aligned, broadly, but they are severable.The high-tech method of mining shale formations for oil and gas colloquially known as fracking though hydraulic fracturing is only a part of it has been a game-changer for more than one game. While countries such as Germany set headline-grabbing, politics-driven carbon-reduction targets only to woefully fail to achieve them (it is very difficult to greenwash 170 million tons of brown coal), the United States has been relatively successful on that front, reducing energy-related carbon emissions by 14 percent from 2005 to 2017, thanks to natural gas; put another way, fracking has helped the United States to what climate activists ought to consider one of its greatest environmental victories.When the United States intensified its attention to the Middle East in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the country was heavily dependent on petroleum imports. Today, the United States is the worlds largest exporter of petroleum thanks to fracking. The pointy-headed guys in the Washington war rooms spend a lot less time worrying about whether tankers can get through the Strait of Hormuz these days. And that means the United States has a much more free hand and more realistic options when dealing with Riyadh, Tehran, or any of the other pits of vipers that pass for national capitals in that part of the world.No war for oil! they chanted when George W. Bushs administration prepared to invade Iraq. It was always a stupid slogan if wed wanted to get our hands on that Iraqi oil, we could simply have bought it at a discount rather than pay a horrifying blood premium for it but now that chant can reasonably be turned back on its authors: If you want less war, then you should want a lot more fracking.And not just here in the United States, even though the people of New York State, for example, would be much better off without Governor Andrew Cuomos idiotic and politically driven prohibition on the most effective means of petroleum production. Spain has seen its demand for natural gas climb as worldwide production drives prices down, but, thanks to its own Cuomos, the country remains largely dependent on imports from Algeria and Nigeria even though it sits on reserves that by some estimates are equal to the better part of a centurys consumption. The United Kingdom may be able to extricate itself from the European Union, but if nothing changes, it will remain vulnerable to the same Russian energy pressure as much of Europe. In much the same way that increased petroleum production has given the United States a stronger position vis--vis the Middle East, more British and European production means more British and European options.Set aside the fantasy of energy independence. World energy markets are heavily integrated, and it probably is never going to be the case that what happens in Saudi Arabia or Russia or Iran has no effect on U.S., British, or European prices and supplies. And even if that happy state comes to be someday, it is not the case now and will not be the case in the near future: The spare capacity that allows the world petroleum markets to function smoothly provides, at the moment, a margin that is insufficient to cover the production that could realistically be taken offline by a broader Iranian attack on Saudi energy infrastructure. U.S. refineries remain disproportionately optimized for the relatively high-sulfur oil weve long imported rather than for the light sweet crude we produce. Our own energy infrastructure, and that of the rest of the world, remains far too vulnerable to terrorism and conventional military attack. There is much work to be done.It all begins with supply. The more supply there is, the more incentive to build out and improve the infrastructure, the more liquid the market, the less fragile the system. There is no substitute for abundance and a wide choice of providers. Every barrel of oil and cubic foot of natural gas produced outside of the Middle East and Russia makes the United States and its allies better off.Beady-eyed realpolitik used to mean deferring to the worlds big oil producers when it came to our relations in the Middle East. Now it means being the worlds big oil producer and once they decide theyve grown tired of unnecessarily taking on risk while giving up wealth, income, and jobs helping our British and European allies become bigger players, too. Fracking involves some real environmental challenges American producers and regulators have developed great skill at dealing with them. The environmental challenges of fracking are manageable. The Saudis and the Iranians are manageable, too, but at a radically higher cost in blood and resources.Politics is about tradeoffs. We owe it to ourselves to take the smart one.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 06:30:17 -0400
DHS contradicts Candace Owens on same day she testifies before Congress about white nationalism
News ImageConservative commentator Candace Owens said white nationalism is just election rhetoric on the same day DHS added violent white supremacist extremist to its list of priority threats.
Fri, 20 Sep 2019 22:18:19 -0400
Could a Tax on Stock Trades Pay Off the Nations Student Debt?
News ImageThe 2020 Democratic candidates all have a plan to eliminate student debt.
Fri, 20 Sep 2019 22:30:00 -0400
Chasten Buttigieg goes from opening act to fundraising star
News ImagePete Buttigiegs husband is now headlining fundraisers solo, helping power the mayors 2020 campaign as he focuses on Iowa and New Hampshire.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 06:57:20 -0400
Woman convicted in texting suicide case denied parole
News ImageThe Massachusetts woman convicted of encouraging her boyfriend to kill himself via text messages has been denied early release.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 17:53:38 -0400
Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Rhinos
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Sun, 22 Sep 2019 09:00:00 -0400
World leaders feel the heat in upcoming climate summit
News ImageOnly those with new, specific and bold plans can command the podium and the ever-warming world's attention, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. As if to underscore the seriousness of the problem, the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization released a science report Sunday showing that in the last several years, warming, sea level rise and carbon pollution have all accelerated. Brazil's, Poland's and Saudi Arabia's proposals for dealing with climate change fell short, so they're not on Monday's summit schedule.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 15:51:06 -0400
Rohingya 'bandit' couple killed in Bangladesh gunfight
News ImageA Rohingya couple was shot dead during a gunfight in a border town camp hours after they were detained by Bangladesh police, officials said Sunday, the latest killings amid growing tensions between the refugees and authorities. Police in Teknaf town said the refugee couple -- Dil Mohammad, 32, and his 26-year-old wife Jaheda Begum -- were members of a Rohingya "bandit group". Authorities claim the gang killed a local ruling party official, Omar Faruk, in a refugee settlement in southeastern Bangladesh last month.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 06:16:28 -0400
Face transplant recipient's donor face failing
News ImageA woman who was severely burned in Vermont is hoping for a second face transplant after doctors recently found tissue damage that likely will lead to the loss of her donor face.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 16:49:56 -0400
Unblock whistleblower's complaint on President Donald Trump's call to Ukraine over Biden
News ImageArguing that Donald Trump isn't a member of the intelligence community is painfully reminiscent of the legal gymnastics Robert Mueller used: Our view
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 19:08:02 -0400
Iran says it will pursue aggressor even after limited attack - TV
Iran says it will pursue aggressor even after limited attack - TVIran will pursue any aggressor, even it carries out a limited attack, and seek to destroy it, the head of the elite Revolutionary Guards said on Saturday, after attacks on Saudi oil sites which Riyadh and U.S officials blamed on Tehran. "Be careful, a limited aggression will not remain limited. Iran denies involvement in the attacks, which were claimed by Yemen's Houthi movement, an Iranian-aligned group fighting a Saudi-led alliance in Yemen's civil war.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 03:34:00 -0400
U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Want Small Ships to Land Troops in a War
News ImageThe U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are considering acquiring small transport ships in order to complement existing large amphibious vessels and give the fleet more ways of landing troops during a major war.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 03:57:00 -0400
New York Post blasts Bill de Blasio with 'obituary' for his ended presidential campaign
News ImageThe New York Post wrote that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's presidential campaign had "died" from "ego-induced psychosis."
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 14:48:31 -0400
Egypt's hardline president el-Sissi faces calls to quit in rare protests
News ImageRare anti-government protests broke out in Egypt over the weekend calling on President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi to step down - in the first major protests against his rule since he took power in 2014. In the capital, Cairo, dozens of protesters gathered on Friday night near Tahrir Square, the epicenter of the 2011 pro-democracy uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Demonstrators chanted slogans echoing the Arab Spring uprisings that briefly defied dictatorships across the region. Police responded with teargas. The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights said security forces reportedly rounded up at least four dozen people in Cairo and elsewhere in the country in a move that was condemned by Human Rights Watch. The protesters took to the streets following calls to mobilise by a self-exiled businessman, Muhammad Ali, who accused corruption by the military and government in a series of online posts that went viral online. Small groups of protesters gather in central Cairo shouting anti-government slogans in Cairo, Egypt September 21, 2019. Credit: Reuters Mr Ali alleged his contracting business had witnessed the large scale misuse of public funds in the building of luxurious hotels, presidential palaces and a tomb for the President's mother, who died in 2014. The allegations came as economic reforms and austerity have squeezed Egypt's lower and middle classes badly. In a rambling speech on Tuesday, Mr el-Sissi angrily dismissed the allegations as "sheer lies." He portrayed Mr Ali's videos as an attempt to weaken Egypt and undermine the public's trust in the military. Police vehicles are seen in central Cairo as protesters gather shouting anti-government slogans in Cairo Credit: Reuters Mr el-Sissi, a former army general, has overseen an unprecedented political crackdown, silencing critics and jailing thousands. He came to power after the military ousted an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013, amid mass protests against his one-year-rule. He promised to continue building new presidential residences despite the claims. "I am building a new country," he said, warning Egyptians against protesting or repeating the 2011 uprising. Egypt's 2011 revolutionaries reflect as Sisi consolidates power On Friday night, security forces speedily dispersed the scattered protests, which came directly after a soccer game between al-Ahly, Egypt's biggest team, and its archrival Zamalek. No casualties were reported. The willingness of the protesters to defy police and laws that all but ban public protests is being regarded as a potential turning point against the Presidents rule, however small. "This is a very important development because this was the first such protest against the rule of el-Sissi," said political scientist Mustafa Kamel el-Sayed of Cairo University. "The small demonstrations demolished the wall of fear installed by el-Sissi and that could lead to more protests in the future."
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 07:23:50 -0400
Chinese journalists will have to pass a government test on Marxism and President Xi Jinping to be granted press passes
News Image'Pilot tests' will be issued to Chinese journalists starting next month via an app to test their loyalty to President Xi Jinping to get press passes.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 16:38:32 -0400
UN agency: Tanzania not sharing details on Ebola-like cases
News ImageThe World Health Organization has issued an unusual statement raising questions about whether Tanzania is covering up possible cases of the deadly Ebola virus, a significant cause for concern during a regional outbreak that has been declared a rare global health emergency. The statement Saturday says Tanzania's government "despite several requests" is refusing to share the results of its investigations into a number of patients with Ebola-like symptoms and is refusing to ship patient samples to an outside WHO partner lab. Tanzania's government, which has said it has no Ebola cases, could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 08:47:03 -0400
Heavy rain, locally severe storms to soak the central US through Sunday night
News ImageTropical moisture streaming into the central Plains from the tropical systems in the East Pacific Ocean will help to fuel locally severe thunderstorms and flooding downpours across the region into Sunday night.Drenching rain developed across the Dakotas and northern Minnesota Friday evening and continued into Saturday morning as a storm system began to strengthen over the region.&> Heavy rain over North Dakota and northwest Minnesota has lead to totals of 5 to 7 inches of rain. This map is radar estimated so if you have seen higher let us know! ndwx mnwx pic.twitter.com/lSnpVAJdcO&> &> -- NWS Grand Forks (@NWSGrandForks) September 21, 2019Residents woke up to flooded roadways as over five inches of rain fell in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Friday night. Radar-estimated rainfall shows similar rainfall totals across much of the area.Grand Forks normally receives 2.05 inches of rain through the month of September.Downpours erupted farther south on Saturday afternoon and evening, targeting a corridor from northern Kansas to southwestern Iowa.The storm system that soaked the northern Plains to begin the weekend will continue to slowly sag southeastward into Sunday night. Tropical moisture from Lorena and Mario will be pulled northward into the central Plains, enhancing rainfall across the region.Through Sunday evening, downpours will soak the same areas of the central Plains that were hit late Saturday. But as tropical moisture was also pulled farther north, bringing drenching rain into Illinois, Iowa and Michigan.Flash flooding will be most common in areas where the front stalls and brings multiple rounds of heavy rain into Sunday evening. "This will have the ability to produce widespread rainfall totals of 1-3 inches with an AccuWeather StormMax of 6 inches," AccuWeather Meteorologist Tyler Roys said.Chicago; Green Bay; Kansas City and Springfield, Missouri; and Oklahoma City are forecast to be in the heavy rain area.Those heading outdoors on Sunday will need to be aware of possible road closures due to flooding and pack rain gear.A line of locally heavy showers and thunderstorms along the cold front will begin to push south out of the central Plains Sunday night, while the bulk of the rain spreads into parts of the Ohio Valley.The storm system will move toward the Northeast on Monday and drier air will settle into the northern and central Plains for the start of the work week.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 13:40:22 -0400
Israel cuts power in parts of West Bank over debts
News ImageIsrael's national electricity company said Sunday it was cutting power to parts of the occupied West Bank due to outstanding payments amounting to nearly $483 million. The Israel Electric Corporation said it was owed 1.7 billion shekels in debts from the main Palestinian power distributor for the West Bank, which is based in east Jerusalem. From Monday, the company "will reduce the current in some areas of the West Bank" because of the debts, it said in a statement.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 15:19:47 -0400
Bill Maher Makes the Case for Joe Biden: He Is Mildly Embarrassing But Not Insane Like Trump
News ImageHBOHBOs Bill Maher ended his Friday night broadcast of Real Time by taking aim at Republicans and conservative pundits who defend President Donald Trump regardless of what he says and does, introducing a new concept: Catch-23.During his New Rules segment, Maher explained to his viewers that Catch-22 meant if you claimed to be insane to get out of combat, it actually proved you were sane. On the other hand, Catch-23 is if Donald Trump never makes you insane, you are insane!Noting that Republicans love to toss around the term Trump Derangement Syndrome to brush aside criticism of the Dear Leader as nothing but liberals being sore losers who cant accept Trump is president, Maher admitted there was some of that on the left before asking: Have you watched this man over the last four years?!Playing a montage of Trumps most bizarre moments at his campaign rallies, the HBO star snarked that Republicans somehow came to the conclusion that this was how a president behaves before pointing out that conservatives were correct to say liberals havent gotten over Trump.John Oliver Drags Joe Biden Over Record Player Gaffe at Democratic DebateBill Maher Exposes Tomi Lahren on Real Time Youre right. we haven't gotten over it, because no one should, he exclaimed.Maher went on to highlight the president taking North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Saudis at their words, adding that this is what Trump Derangement Syndrome really is: pretending that all of this is perfectly acceptable behavior for an American president and defending the indefensible.Thats deranged, he quipped. Thats a syndrome. And its coming from the right. Its like body odor: if you smell it all the time, its probably you.This prompted the acerbic comic to make a case for supporting Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden even if he rapidly declines and legit loses his mind, telling Republicans: I am going to pretend nothing to see here, just like youre doing now.Maher would go on to encourage Democrats to vote for Biden even if he devolves from the current mildly embarrassing gaffe machine who mixes up stories and waits 'til hes onstage for his eyeball to explode and his dentures to fall out.That guy would not be nearly broken and crazy enough to teach the Republicans the lesson they need to learn, he noted. For this, I need Joe Biden to be full-on, forgot-to-wear-pants, crumbs-in-the-hair, screaming-at-the-toaster nuts!Maher continued: And when Republicans say, Wait a minute, how can you give unwavering support for someone whos clearly lost it? Ill say, I dont know, you tell me.The veteran comedian told his audience that in private, theyll go ahead and admit that their guy is nuts, but publicly theyll be in full denial mode, pointing to Fox Business host Stuart Varneys assertion that Trump has never lied as a prime example of how to act.Rolling his eyes at Varneys obsequiousness, Maher said he wanted to see Biden do every fucked-up thing a celebrity ever didsuch as wear a meat dress or interrupt Taylor Swift at an awards showjust so he could tell Republicans that Bidens a different kind of president.And after he plows the presidential limousine through a farmers market, Ill say, Why so upset, Republicans? Thats just Biden being Biden, Maher concluded.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 00:16:44 -0400
Iranian maritime official says UK tanker Stena Impero to be released soon: Fars news
News ImageStena Impero, the British-flagged tanker detained by Iran on July 19, will be released soon, an Iranian maritime official said on Sunday, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. The Stena Impero was detained by Iran's Revolutionary Guards in the Strait of Hormuz waterway for alleged marine violations, two weeks after Britain seized an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar. "After the issuing of the ruling for the end of detention of the English tanker Stena Impero this vessel will soon, and after the passing of 65 days, begin its movement from the port of Bandar Abbas toward international waters," said Allahmorad Afifipour, the head of the Ports and Maritime Organisation of Iran in Hormozgan Province.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 07:56:37 -0400
How 1 Mistake Cost Hitler Victory During World War II
News ImageWhat if the German Army had actually been ready to fight?
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 01:00:00 -0400
Julian Castro, other Democrats criticize Ben Carson after reported comments on transgender people
News ImageThe HUD secretary reportedly made the derogatory comments earlier this week while in California as part of the administration's spotlight on homelessness.
Fri, 20 Sep 2019 22:16:21 -0400
Cory Booker will exit presidential race if $1.7m not raised by end of month
News Image* Without a fundraising surge we do not see a path forward * Booker insists announcement not a stunt to swell coffersCory Booker said: I want people to see where we are and understand that we have a pathway to victory, but I cant walk it alone. Photograph: Jos Luis Magaa/APCory Booker could be the next Democrat to drop out of the race for the presidential nomination.In a now-or-never memo to supporters and staff, campaign manager Addisu Demissie said Booker need to raise $1.7m by the end of the month or he would have to drop out of the race.Without a fundraising surge to close out this quarter, we do not see a legitimate long-term path forward, Demissie wrote in the memo, published online on Saturday morning. The next 10 days will determine whether Cory Booker can stay in this race.Booker, who is in Iowa this weekend, tweeted: Its an unusual move for a campaign like ours to be this transparent, but there can be no courage without vulnerability. I want people to see where we are and understand that we have a pathway to victory, but I cant walk it alone.He insisted the release of the memo was not a stunt aimed at boosting fundraising.This is a real, unvarnished look under the hood of our campaign at a level of transparency unprecedented in presidential politics, he wrote.&> It would be a shame if that diversity was not reflected in the candidates who end up competing for the nomination&> &> Addisu DemissieBill de Blasio exited the Democratic race on Friday. Booker has consistently polled better than the New York mayor and made the field of 10 candidates for the debate in Houston last week, which also qualifies him for the debate stage in October.But despite working assiduously to place operatives, win endorsements and meet voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, key early voting states, he has not been able to keep pace with the leading group in the sprawling field.Former vice-president Joe Biden, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders are the top three, clear in most polls of Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and California senator Kamala Harris.In the realclearpolitics.com average of polls, Booker also trails tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang and former Texas congressman Beto ORourke.In the memo, Demissie wrote: If our campaign is not in a financial position to grow, hes not going to continue to consume resources and attention that can be used to focus on beating Donald Trump, which needs to be everyones first priority.Booker might not be in this race for much longer the same is true for other important voices in the field.The Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar trails Booker, followed by Hawaii representative Tulsi Gabbard, billionaire Tom Steyer, former HUD secretary Julin Castro and Colorado senator Michael Bennet. Other candidates score even lower.In a conference call with reporters on Saturday, Demissie said there was a dissonance between Bookers standing in national polls and his support on the ground in early states. The campaign manager argued that the majority of Democratic voters have not made up their minds and expect that many of the 19 candidates still running will be on the ballot in February.People like Cory Booker, they want him in this race, he said, pushing back on a question about why the candidate has not gained traction.The point that were trying to make very clearly is the final field that is going to be offered to the Democratic party come February, March and April and beyond is being determined right now here in September, he said.Booker is one of two African American senators in the race and part of the most diverse primary field in history. The candidates who have led the field are all white.It would be a shame if that diversity was not reflected in the candidates who end up competing for the nomination once people actually start voting come next spring, Demissie said.Demissie was adamant the campaigns transparency and honesty would prove that Democratic voters want Booker to stay in the race. But he conceded that if the campaign falls short of its goal, Booker will end his campaign.On Saturday, Booker and other Democrats were in Iowa for the Polk County Steak Fry.If youre all in for me, the senator tweeted, I cant thank you enough. But if you havent settled on a candidate [and] still think my voice belongs in this race, if you believe the Democratic field should include someone like me, I want you to understand the field may narrow [and] pay attention to this too.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 11:55:41 -0400
The US government warns people against using conditioner after a nuclear explosion. It could trap radiation in your hair.
News ImageShampoo can be a life-saving tool in the case of a nuclear blast, but conditioner could become a dangerous agent in the wake of an explosion.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 15:55:26 -0400
The Latest: 5 tourists still critical after deadly bus crash
News ImageFive people remain in critical condition after a bus crash that killed four Chinese tourists and injured dozens more near a national park in Utah. Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Nick Street said Friday evening that the bus originated in Southern California, and the tourists on board were natives of mainland China. Authorities are investigating what caused the bus to careen into a guard rail Friday morning on highway winding through otherworldly spires of red rock near Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah.
Fri, 20 Sep 2019 22:04:39 -0400
Flooding downpours, locally severe storms to threaten parched southwestern US this week
News ImageAn increase in downpours across the southwestern United States early this week will be beneficial for the ongoing drought but could pose the risk for flash flooding.Drought conditions have grown considerably across the Southwest over the past few months due to a lackluster monsoon season. While Arizona was free of drought during the middle of June, over 85 percent of the state has succumbed to moderate to severe drought, according to the latest outlook by the U.S. Drought Monitor.While the upcoming rainfall will go a long way in helping to ease the dry conditions, AccuWeather meteorologists are concerned the rain may trigger flash flooding and debris flows in the arid terrain. Arizona looks to be the main target for widespread showers and thunderstorms, as well as flash flooding concerns from Monday into Tuesday, with lesser impacts on surrounding areas, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and western U.S. blogger Brian Thompson.A potent storm system in the upper levels of the atmosphere will dive southward across the West into Tuesday. At the same time, tropical moisture will surge northward from the eastern Pacific Ocean.These two factors will combine to generate the widespread downpours.An AccuWeather Local StormMax of 6 inches is forecast in Arizona during this event."While the rainfall is needed, if the rain comes in bursts from heavier thunderstorms, flash flooding will be a big concern, especially in mountainous and urban areas like Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona," Thompson said.People should avoid dry stream beds, known as arroyos, which may suddenly fill with a torrent of water.The Arizona Department of Transportation was alerting motorists of the heavy rain threat on Twitter, reminding them to inspect windshield wipers and slow down when the rain starts.Motorists will also need to be on the lookout for flooded roadways. Remember to turn around and find a safer, alternate route when high water is encountered."Aside from the heavy rain, flooding rain and mudslide threat, strong thunderstorms will be a possibility as well," Thompson said.The strongest thunderstorms can contain large hail and damaging winds, with Monday likely posing the highest threat for these hazards."The threat for at least spotty showers and thunderstorms will probably linger into Wednesday and Thursday," Thompson said.The rainfall should douse active blazes across the region and substantially lower the risk of new wildfire ignition.However, it will be a different story on the northwestern side of the storm system, where warm, dry winds will heighten the fire danger in Northern California from Monday to Wednesday."We're now heading into prime wildfire season across California, so staying on guard is important," Thompson said.By the end of the week, the fire danger will likely decrease in Northern California as a significant, winterlike storm is expected to target the West.This new storm has the potential to bring a significant reduction in temperatures and unleash a large amount of early season snow in the northern Rockies.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 06:05:37 -0400
Reactor at worst US nuclear accident site finally closed
News ImageThe last reactor at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania was finally shut down Friday, marking the end of the operation of the site of the worst civilian nuclear accident in US history. The plant's first reactor -- which went online in September 1974 -- was shut down at noon local time (1600 GMT), according to the plant's owner Exelon, and the site will be dismantled in the coming weeks. On March 28, 1979, the second reactor experienced a cooling problem that -- coupled with a human error -- resulted in the partial melting of the reactor and the evacuation of 14,000 people.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 07:00:07 -0400
Enter the Arena, Democrats. Teddy Roosevelt Was Right.
News Image(Bloomberg Opinion) -- In April 1910, former president Theodore Roosevelt spoke before a large audience in Paris. The poorest way to face life, he said, is with a sneer.These days, too many Democrats are sneering not only at President Donald Trump, but also at one another. From the left, many progressives are describing former Vice President Joe Biden as out of touch, old, too conservative, maybe even a bit racist. From the center, many Democrats are describing Senator Elizabeth Warren as unelectable, unlikable, unrealistic, disconnected from the values and beliefs of ordinary Americans.Thats a shame for many reasons, but one in particular is that it threatens to put Democrats in aposition akin to that of Trump-era Republicans. A recurring question, mostly faced by Republicans in the age of Trump, is whether to work for a party nominee or an elected official with whom they have intense disagreements. Over the last two years, many Republicans have declined to join the Trump administration, others have been criticized for doing so, and some have been, and now are, torn about whether to resign. No Democrat is saying Never Biden or Never Warren, at least not yet. But many have said contemptuous things about Biden, Warren and other contenders for the Democratic presidential nominationthat could signal reluctance to serve in the wrong kind of Democratic administration.Roosevelt had the best response to that impulse on that April day in Paris, and lurid though his language may have been, the sentiment remains as fresh as ever:It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.Roosevelt was deploring a cynical habit of thought and speech, a readiness to criticize work which the critic himself never tries to perform. Speaking before an audience at the Sorbonne, one of the worlds great universities, Roosevelt singled out for opprobrium the man of learning, the man of lettered leisure. Those of learning and leisure might be tenured professors in Paris or New Haven, or writers for prestigious magazines in London or New York.Roosevelt was making a plea for stronger forms of commitment and engagement. As he knew, those who struggle to do the deeds often know incalculably more than those who do not, because of that very struggle. As he also knew, people who sneer often have no idea what they are talking about, even when they speak or write with elegance and panache.Those who accept Roosevelts plea can of course have diverse views about particular politicians and about whether it is appropriate to support or work for them. But it is reasonable to take his argument to support a kind of rebuttable but firm presumption: If you can, enter the arena. Dont sneer.With respect to todays Democrats, the implication is straightforward. Suppose, for example, that you are on the left and that you are unenthusiastic, or worse, about Biden. If he is the Democratic nominee, you should support him and work on his behalf. And if he is elected, and if you are lucky enough to have a chance to work in some capacity for his administration, you should be inclined to say yes. The point holds for public service more generally.I was fortunate enough to spend nearly four years in President Barack Obamas administration (and to have had part-time positions for most of remaining four). I learned that if you are in the arena, you can achieve far morein a good monththan you can in a decade outside it.You will certainly get frustrated; your face will be marred by dust and sweat. Things wont always go your way. Many days arent a lot of fun. Still, you should be inclined to say yes. You should do that even if you anticipate that you will disagree, on important occasions, with your boss.Lets give Roosevelt the last word:It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and the valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who but for the vile guns would have been a soldier.To contact the author of this story: Cass R. Sunstein at csunstein1@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Landman at jlandman4@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Cass R. Sunstein is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the author of The Cost-Benefit Revolution and a co-author of Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 09:00:20 -0400
Ethiopia says detains suspected Islamist militants planning attacks
Ethiopia says detains suspected Islamist militants planning attacksEthiopia said on Saturday it had arrested an unspecified number of Islamist militant members of the Somali group al Shabaab and Islamic State who were planning to carry out attacks in the country on various targets including hotels. Some of those arrested were carrying out intelligence work including photographing potential targets, the National Intelligence Security Services (NISS) said in a statement read out on state-affiliated broadcaster Fana. "The group was ... preparing to attack hotels, religious festivities gathering places and public areas in Addis Ababa," NISS said.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 15:32:15 -0400
What Makes Iran Powerful? Think of It As a Fortress.
News ImageThe importance of geography lives on.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 01:30:00 -0400
White supremacist who praised psychedelic Nazis caught with stockpile of guns and LSD
News ImageIn a secret chat last November, according to court filings, two associates of a violent white supremacist group discussed whether drug use was in line with their political beliefs.Psychedelic Nazis . . . Theres nothing more Aryan than entheogenic drug use, Andrew Thomasberg, 21, texted a friend, according to prosecutors, referencing plants that have psychedelic effects. But, he added, Drug addiction is untermensch a Nazi term for people considered subhuman.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 06:14:13 -0400
Damascus says second drone downed in 48 hours over south Syria
News ImageA drone was shot down on Saturday in Quneitra province in southern Syria, the second such incident in 48 hours, state media said. Authorities "dismantled a drone" after it was shot down on the edge of Jabal al-Sheikh in the Quneitra countryside, southwest of Damascus, state news agency SANA reported. The Israeli army's Arabic-language spokesman said the drone did not come from his country and was likely Iranian.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 15:03:39 -0400
'She was drunk:' Bus driver facing DUI charges after child calls 911 to report her
News ImageA bus driver in Washington has been arrested after a child called 911 to report that she was driving under the influence.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 17:48:42 -0400
From IS camp, Syrian family returns home to a hostile city
News ImageAfter two years on the run with the Islamic State group, Um Mahmoud just wanted to return home. When she finally made it to Raqqa with her daughters and grandchildren, she found her home partially burned but livable. The 53-year-old seamstress had returned from al-Hol camp, where 73,000 people, most of them families of IS militants, have been kept since the territorial defeat of the group in March.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 03:17:26 -0400
Sussex Tour: Duke and Duchess urged to put Archie front and centre so public can 'refall in love with them'
News ImageThe Duke and Duchess of Sussex will embark tomorrow on a tour of southern Africa, needing to put baby son Archie at the front and centre if they wish the British public to refall in love with them. The couple have seen much of the goodwill generated by their glamorous wedding a little over a year ago dissipated as a result of criticism of their spending habits; travel arrangements; and tales of a falling out between the Sussexes and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The trip begins in Cape Town with a visit to a female empowerment training workshop in a local township and ends 10 days later with an audience in Johannesburg with South Africas president Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife Dr Tshepo Motsepe. In the middle part of the tour, the Duchess will stay in Cape Town with five-month-old Archie while the Duke will embark on an intrepid series of flights to Botswana, Angola and Malawi to highlight animal conservation and the remarkable campaign led by his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, in outlawing and clearing landmines. But Ingrid Seward, the doyenne of royal reporters and editor-in-chief of Majesty Magazine, said it was critical that the Duke and Duchess deploy Archie on the tour to win the public relations battle. Until now, the baby has been seen in only a handful of photographs. Royal insiders are being coy about when the baby will be seen on tour. There will be no ceremonial greeting for the Sussex family as they disembark their commercial flight in Cape Town on Monday and no events factored in where Archie will be guaranteed to appear. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their baby son Archie Mountbatten-Windsor shortly after his birth Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire Ms Seward, however, explained the child was key. From a public relations point of view the Duke and Duchess really do need to show the people Archie. He is the best ticket they have got for getting people to refall in love with them, said Ms Seward. People are very susceptible to images of children. I dont see the point of hauling him all the way there only to keep him under wraps. This is the opportunity for the Duke and Duchess to alter the public perception that has dogged them in recent months. The refurbishment of Frogmore Cottage, their home on the Windsor estate, at a cost to the taxpayer of 2.4 million, has drawn gasps. Then there is the recent outcry and allegations of hypocrisy over their insistence that they wished to protect the planet while at the same time taking a series of private jet flights to and from the south of France and Ibiza. The tour of southern Africa will show the Duke and Duchess getting serious. They have chosen to avoid the obvious tourist attractions in Cape Town that includes Table Mountain, while Robben Island - susceptible to cancellation due to adverse weather - is also off the list. Nor are there glamorous parties or dinners, often a staple of a Royal tour, and it is noteworthy that their first engagement after they arrive is in a township. Although the Duke will attend several receptions at British High Commissions to celebrate the UK's ties with the countries he is visiting, with the Duchess joining him in South Africa, there are few evening events in a programme designed in part to take into account the needs of Archie. The decision will mean that royal-watchers will not see the Duchess in a tiara or other major pieces of jewellery borrowed from the Queen. A source said the schedule reflected the couple's preference to " roll up their sleeves and do work in the community", adding: "The balance of the programme reflects their style of hands-on work."
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 01:06:11 -0400
Are We Overestimating How Much Trees Will Help Fight Climate Change?
News ImageCollart Herv/GettyThis story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 220 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.By Jan Ellen Spiegel BOB MARRAnavigated his way to the back of a dusty barn in Hamden, Connecticut, belonging to the states Agricultural Experiment Station. There, past piles of empty beehives, on a wall of metal shelves, were stacks of wooden disks all that remains of 39 trees taken down in 2014 from Great Mountain Forest in the northwest corner of the state.These cross-sections of tree trunks, known as stem disks or more informally as cookies are telling a potentially worrisome tale about the ability of forests to be critical hedges against accelerating climate change. As anyone following the firesburning in the Amazon rainforestknows by now, trees play an important role in helping to offset global warming by storing carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide a major contributor to rising temperatures in their wood, leaves, and roots. The worldwide level of CO2 is currently averaging more than400 parts per million the highest amount by far in the last 800,000 years.But Marra, a forest pathologist at the Experiment Station with a Ph.D. in plant pathology from Cornell University, has documented from studying his fallen trees that internal decay has the capacity to significantly reduce the amount of carbon stored within.Hisresearch, published in Environmental Research Letters late last year and funded by the National Science Foundation,focused on a technique to see inside trees a kind of scan known as tomography (the T in CAT scan.) This particular tomographywas developed for use by arborists to detect decay in urban and suburban trees, mainly for safety purposes. Marra, however, may be the first to deploy it for measuring carbon content and loss associated with internal decay.Where there is decay there is less carbon, he explains, and where there is a cavity, there is no carbon at all.What were suggesting is that internal decay in trees has just not been properly accounted for, says Marra.While the first round of his research was a proof of concept that necessitated the destruction of 39 trees to show that tomography is accurate, his ultimate goal is a nondestructive technique to enable better assessments of carbon sequestration than those done annually by theU.S. Forest Service.Under theUnited Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, ratified in 1994, governments are required to report annual estimates of carbon holdings in all their managed lands. The most recent Forest Service figures show that U.S. forests offset about 14 percent of the nations carbon emissions each year.The Forest Service estimates that carbon makes up 48 to 50 percent of a trees biomass, so ones with decay will be less dense and therefore hold less carbon. But Marra contends that the visual signs monitored by the Forest Service, such as canopy and tree size, along with conspicuous problems such as lesions or cankers, dont accurately reflect internal decay a tree that looks healthy may have decay and one that appears problematic may be fine inside.In addition, he says, foresters typically use a mallet to hammer a tree to register a sound that might indicate its hollow. You know that there may be a hollow, but you dont know how big the hollow is, Marra says. As a result, he believes the governments baseline data used to estimate carbon storage are not accurate.There are a lot of ways to improve our estimates of carbon being stored above ground in forests, and this decay component could certainly prove to be important, says Andrew Reinmann, an ecologist and biogeochemist with the City University of New Yorks Advanced Science Research Center. But, he added, We havent really had the technology to explore this before its still a little bit of an unknown.* * *MARRA USEDa two-stage system for his research: sonic tomography, which sends sound waves through the tree, followed by electrical resistance tomography, which transmits an electric current. Both processes are necessary to fine-tune each others readings.The system, which costs about $25,000 and fits in a backpack, is cheap and small by scientific equipment standards. Each reading takes no more than a few minutes and computerized visual renderings of the results appear instantly.Marra experimented with three northern hardwoods sugar maple, yellow birch, and American beech and included more than two dozen of each, along with some control trees with no decay. The researchers analyzed the lower bole the first two meters or so of each tree, which is the oldest part and closest to the soil, where most decay-causing fungi would come from.A dozen or so nails were tapped in a circle around the trunk and connected by cables to the tomograph; a sonic hammer then activated the system to get sound-wave measurements.For the electric resistance tomography, a second set of nails was hammered between the first, and electrodes plus and minus were attached to each.The various nail areas were painted in different colors to enable the computer renderings to be aligned later with photographs of the cookies after the trees were cut down.The cookies, about 4 inches thick and which Marra called the truth, were only taken from where the measurements were made the areas with the paint markings.He analyzed 105 cookies from the 39 trees taken down. In the 11 cases where tomography found no decay, the cookies revealed only one small cavity. In the 32 cases where incipient, or early, decay was detected, the cookies showed one additional cavity. The cookies confirmed the tomography results in 36 cases where active decay was found, though eight small cavities were also detected. Tomography correctly identified cavities in the remaining 26 cookies, meaning that it missed a total of 10 cavities among the 105 cookies.One thing to sort of mitigate against this failure, if you want to call it that these were very small cavities, Marra says of the ones the tomography missed. So they would have very little impact on a carbon budget.Then came the time-consuming process of measuring the actual amount of carbon in each tree. After air-drying the cookies for a year, the wood from 500 drilled holes was sent to a gas chromatography lab at the University of Massachusetts to determine the carbon levels.The tomography and lab results were then combined to calculate how much carbon was stored in the lower boles and to contrast that with the levels if the trees had been solid wood. Those calculations took until 2017 to complete.Youre looking at anywhere from a 19 percent to a 34 percent carbon loss for an actively decaying tree among those studied, Marra says. But any place theres a cavity youve lost all of your carbon.* * *THE UPSHOTof his five years of research, says Marra, is that accurate tomographic readings are possible in just a few minutes. And what our tomography tells us is the carbon content, he says.At the same time, Marra is aware that tomography is not a practical substitute for the Forest Services carbon estimate system which itself is a clunky and labor-intensive slog. But it could provide a valuable way to augment those estimates.Those are very, very impressive results, says Kevin Griffin, a tree physiologist at Columbia University and its Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. They obviously have obtained a lot of precision in the techniques.The results are important, he adds, but whether internal tree decay is the single most burning question? Probably not. Theres probably bigger fish to fry before we get there.Among them, he says are forest growth rates and overall tree health and age, as well as the impact of harvesting and other kinds of losses, including disease.A trees architecture and height could also play large roles in carbon sequestration, says Reinmann of the City University of New Yorks Advanced Science Research Center, as could the makeup of the forest landscape. His own research, for instance, found trees grow faster and have more biomass at the edge of fragmented forest.I think theyre making a good point that were probably over-estimating carbon storage levels, says Aaron Weiskittel, director of the University of Maines Center for Research on Sustainable Forests.Even so, Weiskittel and others including Marra say the research needs to be scaled up to many more tree types and full forests. For his part, Marra would like to sample forests randomly with many more trees and controlling for factors including species, age, and soil characteristics.The goal, he says, is to develop a methodology for generating data to provide better carbon estimates for more than three tree types in one small part of the country.We need to use tomography to refine models so were more accurately assessing the role that forests are playing as sequesterers or climate change mitigators, Marra says. We dont want to be over-estimating the roles that they play.Jan Ellen Spiegel is a freelance writer and editor based in Connecticut. Her work appears regularly in numerous local and national publications, including The Connecticut Mirror, InsideClimate News, Yale Climate Connections, and The New York Times.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Sun, 22 Sep 2019 05:21:38 -0400
Iran issues 'battlefield' warning and U.S. deploys troops
News ImageAny country that attacks Iran will become the "main battlefield", the Revolutionary Guards warned Saturday after Washington ordered reinforcements to the Gulf following attacks on Saudi oil that it blames on Tehran.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 11:10:18 -0400
China's Pacific influence grows as it signs up new friend in Solomon Islands
News ImageChina and former Taiwan ally the Solomon Islands established diplomatic ties on Saturday in a sign of Beijing's growing influence in the Pacific that has angered Washington, with a top Chinese diplomat saying the time was almost up for the rest of Taiwan's friends. In a setback for self-ruled and democratic Taiwan, which China claims as a province with no right to state-to-state ties, Beijing this week won over two previous Taiwanese allies in the Pacific - the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 06:09:22 -0400
In 1988, Iran and America Went to War at Sea
News ImageLet's just say this: half of Iran's Navy was sent to the bottom of the sea.
Sat, 21 Sep 2019 00:00:00 -0400
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