Doing Advance Work

News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Wearing black hoods, Hamas executes 18 of its own citizens suspected of collaborating with Israel, some in front of central Gaza mosque-BBC

8/22/14, "Gaza: Hamas says 18 suspected informants executed," BBC

Hamas executions, 8/22/14, Reuters

"Hamas sources in Gaza say 18 people suspected of collaborating with Israel have been executed.

The killings came after an Israeli airstrike left three senior Hamas leaders dead on Thursday.

Officials in Gaza say at least two more Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes overnight, and Israel said more rockets were fired from Gaza. More than 2,070 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 66 Israelis, mostly troops, have been killed in six weeks.

A Thai national in Israel was also killed by rocket fire early on in the conflict. No-one was injured by the rockets which hit Israel on Friday morning.

Hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza resumed on Tuesday, scuppering efforts in Cairo to achieve a long-term ceasefire deal.

Hamas has insisted on a lifting of the economic blockade of Gaza as part of any longer-term deal.

Israel has vowed to pursue its campaign until "full security" is achieved through the disarmament of Hamas and other groups in Gaza.

'Forced by circumstances'
Hamas sources said Friday's executions had been carried out by what it called the Resistance, which may suggest the involvement of other armed Palestinian factions.

Hamas officials told Reuters that the first 11 executions were carried out at an abandoned police station.

Witnesses said another seven people were shot by men in Hamas uniforms outside the Al-Umari mosque in central Gaza.

After the first 11 executions, Hamas warned that "the same punishment will be imposed soon on others".

It added that "the current circumstances forced us to take such decisions", suggesting a link between the executions and the killing of the three senior Hamas leaders.

Image above: "Aug. 22, 2014: Hamas militants grab Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel, before executing them in Gaza City. (REUTERS)," via Fox News, "Hamas kills 18 suspected Israel informants".


8/22/14, "Gazans Suspected of Collaborating With Israel Are Executed," NY Times, Fares Akram and Jodi Rudoren, Gaza City

"One day after an intelligence coup enabled Israel to kill three top commanders of Hamas’s armed wing, as many as 18 Palestinians suspected of collaboration with Israel were fatally shot in public on Friday, in what was seen as a warning to the people of the Gaza Strip."...


Greenland Summit WebCam

8/22/14, "Summit WebCam,"

"Conditions: -11C, 12F, 8/22/14, 8:15. 9.0 knots, 206 degrees SSW." "Green House Fuel Pit." Greenland Summit Station


"Flags of the US, Greenland, and Denmark fly at Summit Station"

via commenter at Steven Goddard


Natural gas production falls short in China. Shale gas in US lies 'flat like a stack of pancakes,' different geology in China requires much deeper digging with pre WWII era machinery despite China gov. support-NY Times

8/21/14, "Natural Gas Production Falls Short in China," NY Times, Keith Bradsher, Shouyang, China

Nat. gas prod. 2000-2013
"Faced with severe air pollution from coal and a rising dependence on energy imports, China has been eager to follow the United States by rapidly increasing natural gas output. Replacing coal with natural gas has also been central to Beijing’s hopes to limit emissions of global warming gases in China, the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide by a wide margin.

But China’s ability to extract sufficient natural gas is in serious doubt. Despite heavy investment and strong government support, China’s natural gas production is growing at a slower pace than its decelerating economy. China’s production of natural gas increased just 6 percent last year and 4.4 percent in 2012.
China’s main problem is that shale gas production has fallen far short of expectations. That has left the country relying on alternative methods considered also-rans by American standards, like pumping natural gas from coal fields.

Now, the Chinese government appears to be acknowledging the shortfall. Wu Xinxiong, the director of the National Energy Administration of China, unexpectedly said in a speech this summer that China’s target for domestic natural gas production in 2020 was only 30 billion cubic meters for shale gas and another 30 billion cubic meters for coal seam gas. Just two years ago, the National Energy Administration estimated that China would produce 60 billion to 100 billion cubic meters of shale gas alone by 2020.

If Mr. Wu’s forecast comes true, shale gas and coal field gas would each supply only 1 percent of China’s electricity generation needs in 2020.

“If the population and economy keep growing, and extensive energy use continues, sustaining China’s energy supply will be hard,” Mr. Wu warned.

Gas production has been slow to rise despite energetic efforts by Beijing to make it financially attractive for energy companies, including direct subsidies for shale gas production. The Chinese government also announced on Aug. 13 that it would raise urban wholesale prices for natural gas at the end of the month by roughly 18 percent for industrial users.

With domestic supplies increasing slowly, China has been looking elsewhere. It agreed in May to buy gas from Russia under a 30-year, $400 billion deal. And it has begun importing liquefied natural gas from Qatar, Australia and Yemen.

The natural gas is sorely needed. Beijing plans to retire four coal-fired power plants by the end of this year and replace them with gas-fired plants in an effort to reduce air pollution.

But China does not have enough gas for a larger-scale conversion of power plants to gas. So the national government has already told smaller, less influential cities to stick with coal for now, and has discouraged businesses from investing heavily in gas-fired equipment.

Gas had looked like one of the few remaining ways for China to reduce its addiction to coal. China’s nuclear power program slowed after Japan’s triple meltdown in Fukushima. Efforts to expand hydroelectric power have run into environmental concerns as well as the huge cost of resettling people from areas flooded when dams are built to make artificial lakes. Solar power and wind power are growing rapidly, but from small bases.

The revised figures from Mr. Wu represented China’s first official acknowledgment of what Western experts have been saying for many months: The country will not approach the success of the United States in shale gas anytime soon.

Shale gas deposits lie much deeper in China than in the United States, which greatly increases drilling costs. Chinese shale also tends to be laden with clay and is much wetter than American shale, making it harder to crack the shale and release the gas through pumping liquids and sand underground, the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

After 40 million years of powerful earthquakes as the Indian subcontinent plowed into southern Asia, the main shale gas seams in western China are jumbled underground, instead of lying flat like a stack of pancakes, as in the United States, said Jeff Layman, a partner in the Beijing office of Baker Botts, the big Houston energy law firm.

In March, Sinopec, a Chinese oil giant, announced the country’s first commercially viable shale gas deposit, located outside Chongqing, and predicted annual production would reach a hefty 10 billion cubic meters by 2017. But the company has released few details, prompting foreign energy experts to begin asking whether all of the seams are truly shale, although Sinopec insists they are.

Neither Sinopec nor its rival, PetroChina, has announced any other large fields despite extensive drilling. Both of these state-controlled companies said in March that they were still drilling actively for shale gas in China even as they cut their worldwide exploration budgets for oil and gas after weak results.

Sinopec and PetroChina, which will hold earnings conferences on Monday and Thursday, respectively, are targets of broad government inquiries into possible corruption, including in their contracts with outside vendors. This has made their executives reluctant to approve further shale drilling contracts, said a Chinese oil industry executive who insisted on anonymity because of the legal issues involved.

China needs to develop better technology before tackling many of its shale deposits, said another executive, Yin Shenping, the chairman and chief executive of Recon Technology, a shale gas services company based in Beijing. “It’s obvious that the country has now decided to slow down the drilling process,” he said.

Lower expectations for shale gas have resulted in greater interest in another category of unconventional gas, so-called coal bed methane. In this process, natural gas is gathered by drilling into underground coal seams.

The United States, Australia and other countries have used this method for several decades. But they often tap the natural gas before coal extraction begins, to reduce the risk that gas will explode in coal mines.

China’s problem is that many of its coal fields already have working mines. China has 13 percent of the world’s coal reserves but 47 percent of the world’s production. Many Chinese coal mine operators have opposed nearby coal bed methane production, fearing that pumping sand and chemicals into wells to liberate gas might have the unintended effect of driving gas into their mines.

The Chinese government has negotiated with mine operators and villages here in Shouyang, 220 miles southwest of Beijing, to authorize a large coal bed methane project, led by Far East Energy Corporation, based in Houston. Michael R. McElwrath, chief executive of Far East Energy, said he believed the project would improve coal field safety by removing explosive gas from subterranean seams.

But the Shouyang coal field is unusual within China because the coal is fairly permeable, allowing gas to flow underground. If there are no more discoveries of permeable coal, Mr. McElwrath said, “we will have a nice little project but the industry will not take off.”

Far East Energy faces its own issues. In June, the company announced that it had shut a quarter of its 160 wells for various reasons, such as gummy gels or a lack of gas-gathering pipelines; it plans to restart most of those wells later. “We are considering a variety of strategic transactions to fund the coming year’s drilling activities,” Mr. McElwrath said, declining to elaborate.

Crews have been working here over the last several years, laboring in a countryside of yellow dirt so soft that even small streams cut steep-flanked gorges 50 feet deep or more. Some of the locally rented equipment uses designs seldom seen in the United States since World War II, an indication that China still lags in drilling rig technology. At each location, workers struggle with the many idiosyncrasies.

“In the United States, it comes to the surface easier,” said Robert Hockert, a longtime Wyoming shale gas and coal bed methane drilling manager who is now the China country manager for Far East Energy. “Here, you’ve got to work at it.”"

Image: "Lagging the Need"

"Despite heavy investment and government backing, natural gas production in China has grown more slowly than the economy for the last three years, leaving the country still heavily dependent on imports and coal." "Source: National Bureau of Statistics, via CEIC Data."
Dark line: China natural gas production, 2000-2013
Light line: China GDP, 2000-2013

Monday, August 18, 2014

35,000 elephants slaughtered yearly in Africa for ivory, illegal trade in tusks has soared, species could be wiped out in 100 yrs., PNAS Study-BBC

8/18/14, "Elephant poaching deaths reach tipping point in Africa," BBC, Rebecca Morelle

"Africa's elephants have reached a tipping point: more are being killed each year than are being born, a study suggests. 

Researchers believe that since 2010 an average of nearly 35,000 elephants have been killed annually on the continent.

They warn that if the rate of poaching continues, the animals could be wiped out in 100 years.

The work is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Lead author George Wittemyer, from Colorado State University, said: "We are shredding the fabric of elephant society and exterminating populations across the continent."

Dramatic loss

The illegal trade in elephant tusks has soared in recent years, and a kilogram of ivory is now worth thousands of dollars. Much of the demand has been driven by a rapidly growing market in Asia. While conservationists have long said the outlook was bleak, this study provides a detailed assessment of the impact this is having on Africa's elephants. 

The researchers have found that between 2010 and 2013, Africa lost an average of 7% of its entire elephant population each year.

Because elephant births boost the population by about 5% annually, this means that overall more of the animals are being killed than are being born. 

Julian Blanc, who also worked on the study, from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites), said: "If this is sustained, then we will see significant declines over time.

"The other thing to bear in mind is that different areas are affected differently. 

"There are still healthy growing populations in parts of Africa, Botswana for example. But in other places the poaching levels are devastatingly high, and that is particularly the case in Central Africa."
In Central Africa it is estimated that elephant numbers have fallen by about 60% in a decade.

Prof Wittemyer added: "We are talking about the removal of the oldest and biggest elephants.

"That means removal of the primary breeding males and removal of family matriarchs and mothers. This leaves behind orphaned juveniles and broken elephant societies." Conservationists said urgent action was needed. 

John Scanlon, secretary-general of Cites, said: "The world needs to decide how much further effort it wants to put into the conservation of this magnificent species and, if so, be prepared to mobilise the necessary human and financial resources to deliver - and we are seeing some encouraging signs in this regard. 

"In terms of concrete actions, we need to move to focus on the front-line and tackle all links in the illegal ivory trade chain - improve local livelihoods (for those living with elephants), strengthen enforcement and governance and reduce demand for illegal ivory.""


8/14/14, "Illegal killing for ivory drives global decline in African elephants,"


Friday, August 15, 2014

Pittsburgh, Pa. on track for 9th coldest summer since 1871 when records began, trees changing color in August, entire summer cooler than usual-KDKA

8/15/14, "Experts: Record Cold Summer Leads To Changing Leaves In August," KDKA, Dennis Bowman,

Mid August 2014, Pittsburgh
"Pittsburgh is dealing with one of the coldest summers in history, and it’s having an effect on the trees. 

Friday morning temperatures fell into the 40s in Western Pennsylvania. 

Meteorologists say these cold temperatures are leading to trees changing colors in the middle of August. 

“This is extraordinary for August, and certainly is a reflection of the prevalence of cool weather,” KDKA Meteorologist Dennis Bowman said. 

Right now Pittsburgh is on pace for the 9th coldest summer since record keeping began in 1871. A KDKA weather viewer took these pictures of the leaves already starting to change colors on the South Side of town, and other residents have noticed the same thing happening on the North Shore. 

Marlene Evans says she is noticing the trees already changing along Water Street. They show yellow and red leaves already mixing in with the trees’ green leaves. 

Bowman says it is odd to see the golden yellow and red leaves already showing up. 

The Polar Vortex pattern that we saw in January, also caused cold temperatures in July. 

“There has been a frequency of cold fronts this summer, and the weather for June, July, and August has been substantially below normal,” Bowman said." via Drudge
Image: August leaves turning in Pittsburgh, photo by Marlene Evans via KDKA



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