Friday, 24 April 2015 18:16

World News Desk 04-24-2015

From Jenna Orkin:

Global Temperature Records Just Got Crushed Again

“It just keeps getting hotter. 

March was the hottest month on record, and the past three months were the warmest start to a year on record, according to new data released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It's a continuation of trends that made 2014 the most blistering year for the surface of the planet, in to records going back to 1880. 

The animation below shows the Earth’s warming climate, recorded in monthly measurements from land and sea over more than 135 years. Temperatures are displayed in degrees above or below the 20th-century average. Thirteen of the 14 hottest years are in the 21st century, and 2015 is on track to break the heat record again…”

This 13-year-old found the math formula for capturing the sun's energy   

“What do trees know that we don't? 13-year-old inventor Aidan realized that trees use a mathematical formula to gather sunlight in crowded forests. Then he wondered why we don’t collect solar energy in the same way…”

Half of the US fracking industry could be gone after this year

“One oil executive thinks half of all fracking companies will be out of business or sold by the end of this year, according to Bloomberg.

Rob Fulks, the pressure pumping marketing director at Weatherford International, told Bloomberg that a reduction in spending has put much of the US fracking industry at risk.

Fulks told Bloomberg that of the 41 fracking companies in the US, half will be dead or sold by the end of the year.

Weatherford operates the 5th-largest fracking operation in the US, Bloomberg notes…”

Top Chinese experts: North Korea has more nukes than anyone thought and Kim could double it

“Chinese nuclear experts have warned that North Korea may already have 20 nuclear warheads and the capability to produce enough weapons-grade uranium to double its arsenal by next year, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Chinese estimates of Pyongyang's nuclear production, relayed to U.S. nuclear specialists, exceed most previous U.S. forecasts, which range from 10 to 16 bombs currently, said the report, which cited people briefed on the matter.

Experts at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies earlier this year presented three scenarios for North Korea's nuclear capability, predicting its stockpile of weapons could grow to 20, 50 or 100 within five years…”

Chinese scientists just admitted to tweaking the genes of human embryos for the first time in history        

“A group of Chinese scientists just reported that they modified the genome of human embryos, something that has never been done in the history of the world, according to a report in Nature News

A recent biotech discovery — one that has been called the biggest biotech discovery of the century — showed how scientists might be able to modify a human genome when that genome was still just in an embryo.

This could change not only the genetic material of a person, but could also change the DNA they pass on, removing "bad" genetic codes (and potentially adding "good" ones) and taking an active hand in evolution.

Concerned scientists published an argument that no one should edit the human genome in this way until we better understood the consequences after a report uncovered rumors that Chinese scientists were already working on using this technology…”

A staggering number of American black men are now 'missing'

“Hundreds of thousands of adult black men are missing from everyday life across the country's major cities, according to a New York Times analysis examining the impact of the disproportionately high death and incarceration rates of black people in the US.

Analyzing 2010 census data (the most recent), the Times found that while there were roughly 8.503 million unincarcerated black women aged 25-54 in 2010, there were only 7.046 million black men. This means that 1.5 million adult black men — or more than one out of every six — have virtually disappeared from daily life…”

More Clinton Cronyism: Selling Uranium Interests To Russia While Hillary Was SecState

““As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well.

And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.

Whether the donations played any role in the approval of the uranium deal is unknown. But the episode underscores the special ethical challenges presented by the Clinton Foundation, headed by a former president who relied heavily on foreign cash to accumulate $250 million in assets even as his wife helped steer American foreign policy as secretary of state, presiding over decisions with the potential to benefit the foundation’s donors.

From the New York Times article: Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians Pressed for Control of Uranium Company

If you looked at the U.S. economy under a microscope, what you’d see is a gigantic cancerous blob of cronyism surrounded by tech startups and huge prisons. If you zeroed in on the cancerous tumor, at the nucleus you’d see a network of crony institutions like the Federal Reserve, intelligence agencies, TBTF Wall Street banks and defense contractors. Pretty close to that, you’d probably find the Clinton Foundation. A veritable clearinghouse for cronyism masquerading as a charity…”

Greek Bank Will Write Off Up To €20,000 In Debt For "Poverty-Stricken" Borrowers

“Over the past several months, as a result of their lockout from capital markets, Greek banks' reliance on the ECB's Emergency Liquidity Assistance has soared, and at last check was somewhere in the mid-€70 billion range.

The conventional wisdom was that the ECB was merely plugging the hole created weekly (and often, daily) as a result of the chronic Greek bank run which has seen tens of billions in deposits withdrawn from Greek banks since Syriza officially took power earlier this year.

However instead of merely plugging the hole left from declining liabilities (deposits), what the ECB's ELA funding appears to also be doing is compensating for a rapid write down in bank assets (loans) as well, in the form of charged off Non-Performing Loans.

According to Reuters, one of the leading Greek financial institutions, Piraeus Bank will write off credit cards and retail loans up to 20,000 euros ($21,484) for Greeks who qualify for help under a law the leftist government passed to provide relief to poverty-stricken borrowers, it said on Thursday…”

Are Oklahoma's Quakes Caused By Wastewater Disposal? (Spolier Alert: Yes!)

“No matter what other problems may or may not be linked to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking,the disposal of wastewater from oil and gas drilling almost certainly is primarily responsible for the recent spate of earthquakes in Oklahoma, normally a seismologically quiet state.

That’s the conclusion of a report issued April 21 by the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS), in which the state geologist Richard D. Andrews and Dr. Austen Holland, the state seismologist, said the rate of earthquakes near major oil and gas drilling operations that produce large amounts of wastewater demonstrate that the quakes “are very unlikely to represent a naturally occurring process.”

Andrews and Holland concluded thatthe “primary suspected source” of the quakes is not hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which water and chemicals are injected under high pressure to crack shale to free oil and gas trapped inside. It said the source is more likely the injection of wastewater from this process in disposal wells, because water used in fracking cannot be re-used…”

Running From Police "Often" A "Death Sentence," Former Cop Says

“Earlier today we brought you the story of Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Abraham Martinez, whose flying jumpkick has now been officially enshrined in the annals of police dash cam history. As it turns out, we have The Austin American Statesman to thank for the footage. The newspaper recently took an in-depth look at the Texas DPS’ use of force during pursuits. Here’s an excerpt: 

The trooper who shot and kicked him, Abraham Martinez, last year received a minor penalty for the incident — three days off without pay. Yet the fact that a traffic infraction could escalate into a lengthy, high-speed motorcycle pursuit ending in gunshots provides a graphic illustration of how a relatively permissive DPS culture of use-of-force during pursuits is out of step with evolving national standards, experts said. A leading researcher on police pursuits, University of South Carolina criminal justice professor Geoffrey Alpert, called the agency’s policy permitting troopers to shoot at fleeing vehicles “stupid.””

Fortunately, no one was killed in that particular incident, but as we’ve seen recently — the most poignant example being the shooting death of a fleeing, unarmed Walter Scott by a South Carolina officer earlier this month — running from the police can end fatally. Incidents like that which unfolded in South Carolina have inflamed already fragile race relations across the US and now, former Alabama state trooper Orrin Hudson has a simple message for African Americans who are confronted by the police: "I've said it before, and I'll say it again: In a situation with the police, it's not immediately about who is right or wrong, it's about staying alive...””

Houston "Police Officer of the Year" Indicted For Trafficking Weapons For Los Zetas Drug Cartel

“What’s so shocking about the story below is not that a 20-year veteran of the Houston police force, who was previously named one of the “Officers of the Year” by the Officers Union, was trafficking weapons for drug cartels. What’s shocking is that he was actually indicted and faces life in prison. He should’ve worked for a federal agency like the DEA or TSA, in which case he might not have even been fired…”

It Just Cost Deutsche Bank $25,000 Per Employee To Keep Its Libor Manipulating Bankers Out Of Jail    

"And so another historic scandal involving the manipulation and rigging of one of the most important global markets, that of Libor which is the reference security for several hundred trillion in derivatives, goes in the history books.

Moments ago the NY Department for Financial Services announced that Deutsche Bank would pay $2.5 billion "in connection with the manipulation of the benchmark interest rates, including the London Interbank Offered Bank ("LIBOR"), the Euro Interbank Offered Rate ("EURIBOR") and Euroyen Tokyo Interbank Offered Rate ("TIBOR") (collectively, "IBOR")."

According to FT calculations, "this is the largest fine to date in the sprawling worldwide Libor investigation" and beneficiaries of DB's criminal generosity include New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) which will get $600 million, $775 million go to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and 227 million GBP (approximately $340 million) to the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Best of all $800 million will end up in the bank accounts oi the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the same CFTC which can now afford to upgrade from ticker tape and actually have some sense of the pervasive manipulation taking place in the S&P on a daily basis.

Most importantly for DB's 98,138 employees is that while DB will "terminate and ban individual employees who engaged in misconduct" nobody will go to jail. Again…”

The EU has approved the first GMO crops since 2013

“BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union cleared the import of 10 new types of genetically modified crops and two more kinds of cut flowers on Friday, its first authorizations in more than a year after a review of its blocked approval process.

The European Commission said it had authorized 10 new types of maize, soybeans, cotton and oilseed rape as either human food or animal feed for 10 years.

In practice, the crops produced by Monsanto, BASF and Bayer CropScience will principally be used as feed.

It also extended by 10 years the use of seven other crops already in use produced by Bayer, Monsanto, Dupont's Pioneer and Dow AgroSciences…”

The US has a National Raisin Reserve, and its existence is being threatened by a Supreme Court case

“Raisin farmers are asking the Supreme Court to stop the government from seizing part of their crop every year for the National Raisin Reserve. 

Wait — there's a National Raisin Reserve? Yes, the United States has a National Raisin Reserve…”

Over 7 million turkeys and chickens euthanized in Midwest this year from bird flu outbreak

“Death by bird flu is not pretty. A chicken might start sneezing and coughing, struggling to breathe. Or its stubby legs might wobble as the bird struggles to move, eventually falling down or losing consciousness. In 48 hours, it will be dead, because there is no cure for this virus, which is hitting farms across the U.S. Midwest in what has been described as the worst bird flu outbreak in recent memory.

This week, farmers in Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota announced they would have to kill a total of more than 5 million chickens, joining other poultry producers who have been forced to kill millions of sick turkeys since the virus began spreading in March. Once birds are infected, euthanasia is the best way for farmers to effectively deal with the sick poultry, especially as they struggle to effectively prevent the virus -- transmitted through bird droppings -- from spreading in other ways, experts say.

“Depopulation is the best control measure,” Dr. Kyoungjin Yoon, an avian influenza expert at Iowa State University, said. The virus’ spread has been attributed to wild birds, like ducks and geese, dropping excrement as they fly on migratory pathways, but “we can do only so much to control wild birds,” he pointed out…”

High levels of radiation have been found in a Tokyo playground    

“TOKYO (Reuters) - Authorities in the Japanese capital have cordoned off a playground where high levels of radiation were detected this week, reviving concerns about nuclear contamination four years after the Fukushima disaster.

Nuclear regulators measured elevated radiation levels on Thursday in a children's park in central Tokyo, city officials said, more than 250 km (155 miles) from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in northeast Japan.

One area of the park registered 480 microsieverts per hour, or nearly half the recommended annual limit of exposure.

That compares with radiation levels ranging from 0.7 to 23.2 microsieverts per hour measured this month in the air in Okuma, a town less than 20 km from the Fukushima plant…”

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