News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Arctic Sea Ice Extent, ice concentration higher than 30%, June 30, 2015, DMI

6/27/15, "Arctic Sea Ice Extent, The Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Coverage," Danish Meteorological Institute, DMI

"Sea ice extent in recent years (in million km2) for the northern hemisphere, as a function of date. Please notice, that the sea ice extent in this plot is calculated with the coastal zones masked out. To see the absolute extent, go to this page.

Current Sea Ice extent

Total sea ice extent on the northern hemisphere since 2005. The ice extent values are calculated from the ice type data from the Ocean and Sea Ice, Satellite Application Facility (OSISAF), where areas with ice concentration higher than 30% are classified as ice.

The total area of sea ice is the sum of First Year Ice (FYI), Multi Year Ice (MYI) and the area of ambiguous ice types, from the OSISAF ice type product. However, the total estimated ice area is underestimated due to unclassified coastal regions where mixed land/sea pixels confuse the applied ice type algorithm. The shown sea ice extent values are therefore recommended be used qualitatively in relation to ice extent values from other years shown in the figure. In late 2012 sea ice climatology and anomaly data will be available here."


Above June 30, 2015 graph from DMI measures more than 30% ice. The June 28, 2015 graph below from NSIDC shows more than 15% ice. (June 28 is NSIDC's Arctic daily graph up as of Tues., June 30, 2015 at 5:18AM ET).

6/30/15, "Sea Ice Index, Arctic" NSIDC, National Snow and Ice Data Center

"Daily extent images show ice extent at concentrations greater than 15% for a given day with an outline of the typical extent for that day based on a 30-year (1981-2010) median (orange line)."


Monday, June 29, 2015

Failed SpaceX launch puts billionaire Elon Musk company in a bind. His low ball bid was filled with delays on its way to flopping completely, Pentagon had already approved more US gov. contracts for SpaceX-Wall St. Journal

6/29/15, "Launch Failure Leaves SpaceX in a Longer-Term Bind," Wall St. Journal, Andy Pasztor

"Sunday’s failed Falcon 9 rocket launch poses more significant, longer-term business challenges for billionaire space entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company than simply identifying and fixing the underlying problem. 

Closely held Space Exploration Technology Corp. must convince commercial customers of the booster’s reliability—something that wasn’t such a pressing issue before—even as it juggles launch manifests and seeks to sharply ramp up its launch tempo as promised.

SpaceX, as the company is known, prides itself on engineering prowess, quick decisions and being nimble in solving launch problems. “I’m sure we’ll find [the cause] rapidly” and resume normal launch operations within a year, President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell was telling reporters within hours of Sunday’s mishap.

On Monday, company officials said the rocket’s second stage malfunctioned and investigators were examining some 3,000 different data sources, but they didn’t elaborate. They also said it was too early to predict the impact on future launches.

With a roughly $7 billion backlog of government, corporate and scientific launches, SpaceX management was fending off complaints from some commercial-satellite operators about launch delays long before Sunday. The operators like SpaceX’s price of $60 million or less to launch a big satellite into high-earth orbit, significantly below prices charged by U.S. and European rivals. But industry business plans depend on launch predictability above everything else.

Even if the Southern California company resolves the technical issues by the end of the year—as many industry officials predict—the pressures on its schedule are bound to increase.

A lot of these companies already have been backed up for a year or more” because of previous SpaceX schedule slips, according to consultant George Torres, a former satellite and rocket industry official who has written books about space.

SpaceX already has undergone some personnel shakeups, including a succession of press officials over the years and last month’s abrupt departure of Barry Matsumori, its de facto top salesman. 

On Monday, Mr. Matsumori said he left for personal reasons, and not over any clash with Mr. Musk or other executives. “There are no issues between me and SpaceX,” he said. 

“SpaceX and Barry parted amicably,” a company official said.

The launch failure’s impact on anticipated Pentagon and National Aeronautics and Space Administration launches will be hard to gauge for at least several weeks. 

A NASA competition to award the next phase of contracts to deliver cargo to the international space station was set be decided this summer, but industry officials said it may be pushed back. 

Meanwhile, congressional panels are preparing to hold hearings on incident, and Pentagon officials may reassess the impact of their recent green light for SpaceX to begin launching military and spy satellites

The botched launch, according to industry officials, is bound to complicate and could delay other important initiatives that had been gaining momentum. The initial test flight of the heavy-lift version of the Falcon rocket, postponed from its original 2013 date and more recently delayed from a revised 2015 schedule, could slip further, these officials said.

More broadly, Mr. Torres, like many industry and U.S. government space veterans, views Sunday’s mishap as underscoring the inherent dangers of space transportation.

Largely because SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket racked up a perfect record of 18 consecutive successful launches before Sunday, including demonstration flights, the company developed an aura of invincibility among many investors, industry analysts and the media. The traditional learning curve for new rockets, generally described as an average of one failure in the first three launches, didn’t seem to apply to Mr. Musk, the company’s chairman, founder and lead designer, or his cadre of young engineers.

Yet in the wake of Sunday’s rocket explosion, which occurred slightly more than two minutes after liftoff, perhaps “a sense of reality is setting in that this is not just a videogame,” according to Mr. Torres

Federal officials echoed those sentiments immediately after the mishap, with William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s top manned exploration official, telling reporters he and his staff always expected to lose some vehicles as part of the agency’s initiative to use unmanned commercial rockets and cargo capsules to supply the space station."


Pope Francis plans to chew coca leaves during upcoming visit to Bolivia-BBC

6/29/15, "Pope 'plans to chew coca leaves during Bolivia visit'," BBC

"Pope Francis has requested to chew coca leaves during his forthcoming visit to Bolivia, according to Bolivian Culture Minister Marko Machicao. 

Coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine, has been used in the Andes for thousands of years to combat altitude sickness and as a mild stimulant.

Mr Machicao said the government offered the Pope coca tea and the pontiff had "specifically requested" to chew coca.

The Vatican has not yet commented. The Pope travels to Bolivia on 8 July. 

Coca leaves were declared an illegal substance under the 1961 UN convention on narcotic drugs.

But the growing of coca leaves for religious and medicinal purposes is legal and licensed in Bolivia.
Many indigenous Bolivians consider the coca bush a sacred plant and chewing its leaves or brewing them into a tea is very popular.

Bolivia's 2009 constitution even declared the coca leaf "a cultural patrimony".

President Evo Morales, who used to be a coca grower, has long campaigned to decriminalise the consumption of coca leaves.

If the Pope were to chew coca leaves during his visit to the Andean country it would provide strong backing for Mr Morales's campaign
"We will be awaiting the Holy Father with the sacred coca leaf," Mr Machicao said.

The Pope's visit to Bolivia is part of a larger tour of Latin American countries which will also take him to Ecuador and Paraguay."


Unsettled science: Faulty science said white roofs atop any building would save energy and decrease CO2. New science finds white roofs in northern and central climates result in greater energy use, more CO2, and waste money. LEED program still uses false

6/29/2015, "'Green' roofs not always the most energy-efficient,", Craig A. Tyler

"Five years ago, Philadelphia City Council passed a green building code requiring that white roofs be used on certain buildings because they are more energy-efficient and help reduce air pollution.

New York and Chicago have similar codes. But the white-roof craze is based on old and faulty research that has promulgated two myths - that these roofs save energy atop any building and that they decrease global warming.

Philadelphians should be concerned that the city is wasting money on energy and possibly causing more, not less, global warming.

There is a significant heating penalty associated with using white roofs in central and northern climates, where owners use three to five times as much energy to heat their buildings than to cool them. In cities like Philly, white roofs consume more energy, which means they cause more cardon dioxide emissions.

A study by Arizona State University shows that white roofs can deflect sunlight into the atmosphere, changing cloud cover and reducing rain. A study by Stanford University simulated what would happen if all the roofs in the United States were converted to white and found that the sunlight reflected by white roofs causes heat to mix with black and brown soot particles to further warm the atmosphere.

Yet this green myth continues. Architects and builders started specifying white roofs 15 years ago, when the U.S. Green Building Council established a new green standard known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Today, more than 18,000 professionals nationwide hold LEED credentials, more than 1,000 of them in the Philadelphia region.

The LEED certification system has done a lot of good by recognizing building projects for their environmental quality. It also has influenced public policy, provided important educational opportunities, and generally made cost-efficient, energy-saving buildings a reality across the nation.

But as new studies like those mentioned emerged, architects, builders, and others involved in sustainable construction realized there is a flaw in the LEED point system. By using white roofing materials, they could earn a point for helping a city like Philly stay cooler and therefore lower air-conditioning demand and natural-resource consumption for electricity generation. But the fact that they would spend more on heating costs was not always factored into the equation.

At least the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges that energy savings provided by white roofs are highly dependent on location and climate. The agency recommends using the Department of Energy's roof savings calculator to determine if the heating penalty exceeds the cooling benefit.

I used the calculator for a 75,000-square-foot building in Philadelphia to compare a white roof with a black roof. Given a certain level of insulation and energy pricing, a three-story building that size would lose $636 annually in energy costs. A one-story building would lose a whopping $2,200.

The LEED program would be strengthened by limiting the point for white roofs to urban settings in southern climates, where cooling demand outweighs heating demand, not in cities like Philadelphia.

Until such a change is made, architects and builders unfortunately will be encouraged to design and build facilities that use more energy than they should and that also may increase carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. Architects and building owners in Philadelphia can act on this new information to improve the environment by limiting the use of white roofs in northern climates while we wait for LEED to change." via Hockey Schtick



"Craig Tyler is a LEED-certified architect employed by Carlisle SynTec, a manufacturer of white, tan, gray, and black roofing in Carlisle, Pa."


Catholic Bishops have long history of almost unlimited access to federal funding, 67% of Catholic Charities' income is from federal government-Politico. Funding for state and national Catholic groups has increased under Obama-Catholic lobby

Nov. 2009 article: "The bishops have a long history of almost unlimited access to enormous quantities of federal funding....Sixty-seven percent of Catholic Charities’ income comes from government funding."

11/10/2009, "The Catholic bishops' double standard," Politico, by Nancy Keenan and Jon O'Brien

"The bishops have a long history of almost unlimited access to enormous quantities of federal funding. When it comes to funding for Catholic schools and hospitals or programs run by Catholic Charities, they accept federal funding with open arms. The bishops never question their own ability to lawfully manage funds from separate sources to ensure that tax dollars don’t finance religious practices. Yet they reject the idea that others could do the same. This is the very definition of hypocrisy.

For example, Catholic hospitals depend on federal funding. Indiana has 35 Catholic hospitals and 26 other Catholic health-care facilities. In 2007, 58 percent of patients who visited these facilities were covered by Medicaid or Medicare, a proportion reflected across the country. With well over half of their revenue coming from the government, it is safe to say that Catholic hospitals survive on government funding as well as contributions from private sources.

Catholic Charities, the domestic direct service arm of the bishops, also depends on state and federal dollars. Sixty-seven percent of Catholic Charities’ income comes from government funding. That represents over $2.6 billion in 2008— an amount that is more than three times as large as the next largest charitable recipient of federal funds, the YMCA. Just as Catholic hospitals do, Catholic Charities receives enormous quantities of government dollars while abiding by existing constitutional and statutory requirements that prevent government sponsorship of religion.

The bishops know that a vast majority of Americans, including Catholics, disagree with their hard-line dictates regarding reproductive-health care, including the bishops’ opposition to contraception."...

"Nancy Keenan is president of NARAL Pro-Choice America and Jon O’Brien is president of Catholics for Choice."


2012 press release from a Catholic lobby notes increased flow of US taxpayer dollars to state and national Catholic groups under Obama: 

1/31/2012, "Setting the Record Straight on Federal Funding for Catholic Organizations,"

"CONTACT: Stephanie Niedringhaus, 202-347-9797 x224, Washington DC: NETWORK today issued the following statement regarding federal funding of Catholic human needs programs:...

Catholic groups and members of the Obama administration have had some disagreements in recent weeks, but we at NETWORK believe that some Catholic complaints have been exaggerated or misinformed. 

One area of disagreement concerns the continuing level of government funding for vital Catholic programs. The truth of the matter is that the Obama administration has actually increased funding for Catholic nonprofit organizations and programs. In fact, more than $1.5 billion went to Catholic organizations over the past two years.[2010-2011]

Funding increases for Catholic organizations in recent years include the following: 
  •  An increase from $12.45 million (2008) to $57.89 million (2011) in USDA food assistance to Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
  • An increase from  just over $440 million (2008) to more than $554 million (2010) to Catholic Charities USA
  • Increases in Dept. of Labor grants to Catholic organizations such as Catholic Charities of Kansas for ex-offender reintegration and other programs from $300,000 (2009) to more than $5 million (2011)
  • An increase of HHS funding for Catholic Medical Mission Board global health activities from $500,000 (2008) to $7 million (2011)."...


Experts agree, Climate Refugees seek shelter during rain delay, Cubs at Cardinals in St. Louis, 6/28/15

6/28/15, "Earlier tonight, fans and fans alike took shelter inside the stadium to wait out the storm," ESPN Baseball Tonight. Final 4-1 Cardinals over Cubs in St. Louis. One hour 49 minute rain delay ("Game notes")


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mafia has easy access to Australia politicians, donates to them via loopholes. Calabrian Mafia operates in legitimate businesses such as fruits and vegetables as well as illegitimate businesses like drugs-Australian Broadcasting

6/28/15, "Mafia in Australia: Major drug trafficking group linked to senior politicians, investigation reveals," (Australia)

"Links between the Calabrian Mafia and senior Australian politicians have been uncovered in a joint investigation by Four Corners and Fairfax newspapers.

The year-long investigation found the Calabrian Mafia, known as 'Ndrangheta, had used a number of well-known party donors to put a "legitimate public face" on its activities.

The 'Ndrangheta is one of the world's most powerful criminal groups and is thought to be one of the major players in the world of international drug trafficking.

In Australia it operates using threats and violence in both legitimate businesses, such as fruit and vegetables, and illegitimate businesses, such as drugs.

The investigation has revealed a series of contacts between known and suspected criminals and senior politicians.

On one occasion, a man with deep mafia associations met then prime minister John Howard and other top Liberal Party figures at a fundraising event. It is not suggested that Mr Howard knew of the connection.

The investigation has also revealed donors have lobbied on behalf of a mafia figure to a host of Liberal and Labor MPs over issues related to their businesses..............

Son of alleged mafia boss did work experience at embassy


Four Corners can reveal the son of another alleged mafia boss did work experience at the Australian embassy in Rome while former Liberal minister Amanda Vanstone was ambassador.

Prior to his placement, Italian authorities were sharing sensitive information about the alleged mafia boss through the embassy.

While there is no direct evidence the embassy placement — which involved the man's son working in a clerical role — led to any actual security breaches, security agencies have described it as a major lapse.

Ms Vanstone, who is now retired from politics, is also at the centre of another episode uncovered during the investigation.

When she was immigration minister in the Howard government, she granted a visa for a crime boss who was later jailed for drug trafficking and implicated in a murder plot.

The man, who is the brother of a well-known Melbourne businessman, has an extensive criminal history in Italy.

He was set to be deported, but his family used its money and influence to conduct a lobbying campaign with some of the country's most powerful Liberal politicians — including Ms Vanstone.
Eventually in 2005, the man was granted a visa to stay in Australia on humanitarian grounds.

There is no suggestion Ms Vanstone acted improperly in either case, though confidential police assessments suggest it indicates her South Australian Senate office had likely been ingratiated by mafia figures.

Just a couple of years later, the man was implicated in one of Australia's largest ever drug busts.

'Lack of checks' in donations system leading to 'loopholes'

The report also details how "loopholes" in the donations system, and the long-running failure to reform it, continue to expose Australian politicians to potential corruption.

Through Freedom of Information laws, the investigation obtained a 2009 AFP report that described a "lack of checks and oversight" in the Australian political donations system as "significant" failings.

"As it stands, political parties and candidates can receive significant support and financial contributions through avenues not covered by the statutory disclosure regime," the AFP report said.

"Loopholes" in the oversight system mean it is "difficult to identify any bribery in the form of political donations".

The report states the Australian Electoral Commission has attempted to address this on many occasions, but that many amendments have not been passed by the Federal Parliament.

The document was written after an investigation into the mafia's fundraising activities.

Who are the 'Ndrangheta?

  • A mafia group from Calabria in the south of Italy. There are thought to be roughly 6,000 members in the world today.
  • Whilst not as well-known as the Sicilian mafia, the 'Ndrangheta is the most powerful criminal organisation in the world.
  • The group earned the equivalent of around 3 per cent of Italy's gross domestic product in 2014, mostly from illegal drugs.
  • Instead of the pyramid structure of bosses used by other mafia groups, the 'Ndrangheta recruits members on the criterion of blood relationships and marriages.
  • The group's best-known crime was the 1973 kidnap of the grandson of oil tycoon John Paul Getty. His ear was chopped off to garner a ransom from his grandfather.
  • Known as "The Honoured Society" in Australia and reportedly involved in the Victoria Market murders in 1963."
"Watch Four Corners — The Mafia in Australia: Drugs, Murder and Politics tonight at 8:30 on ABC. The program will also be available on ABC iView.
Next week Four Corners will look at the inside story of the world's biggest ecstasy bust, the next crop of mafia leaders in Australia and one senior Mafioso's Labor connection."


Paraguay Catholic bishop quietly removed by Pope Francis without criminal charges after financial irregularities left impoverished diocese even poorer. $350,000 never made it to children awaiting surgery or women fleeing domestic abuse. Diocese tries to ease debt before Pope Francis visit by running bingo games and raffles-AP

6/27/15, "Paraguayan bishop ousted by pope scrutinized for spending," AP, Peter Prengaman, Ciudad Del Este, Paraguay

"Children awaiting surgery and women fleeing domestic violence never saw the $350,000 donated for their benefit. Then, there were the questionable property sales and the money for a cleaning business partially owned by a relative.

In the months since Pope Francis ousted the bishop of Paraguay's second-largest diocese, questions keep surfacing about the Rev. Rogelio Livieres Plano's management of church money.

As Paraguayan Catholics prepare to welcome Francis during his South American tour that starts July 5, new leaders of the diocese in this eastern border city are trying to erase the debt left by the controversial bishop, raising money through raffles and bingo games. Many parishioners are demanding answers.

"The former bishop ran things like a mafia," said Carlos Pereira, a humanities professor at the Catholic University in Ciudad del Este. "How did we end up in debt? What happened to the diocese's properties, to all its assets?"

The diocese is $800,000 in debt, a considerable sum in one of South America's poorest countries. The arrears have come to light since Livieres Plano, a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement, was pushed out in September.

The 69-year-old former bishop has denied any wrongdoing. Multiple attempts to locate Livieres Plano for comment, or find someone able to speak on his behalf, were not successful. Church officials and a spokesman for Opus Dei said he is hospitalized in Argentina with diabetes complications.

It is not clear what became of funds belonging to the diocese of nearly 1 million church members. Critics claim, but have not proven, the former bishop used church money to enrich his family, support a gambling habit and live lavishly. An Associated Press review found that during his decade as bishop, Livieres Plano did make several questionable spending decisions.

Property records show that, in 2013, Livieres Plano sold two parcels for $400,000 and $202,000. He did it without the Vatican council approval required for financial decisions in Paraguay worth more than $150,000.

Last year, the bishop defended the sales by saying the trigger for approval had been "recently increased to $500,000." But Bishop Adalberto Martinez, secretary general of the Paraguay Episcopal Conference, told the AP there had been no such increase.

A 2010 lawsuit filed by the president of an association of lay church members, Javier Miranda, accused the diocese of failing to use $350,000 in donations from the Itaipu Dam, one of the world's largest hydroelectric facilities, for their intended purpose: funding surgeries on children with cleft palates and helping domestic abuse survivors.

The suit was thrown out on the grounds that Miranda had no personal claim since he was not an injured party.
An audit conducted by Paraguay's Comptroller General, however, supported Miranda's allegations, noting in a scathing 2010 report that the church had failed to turn over documentation proving it funded cleft-palate surgeries, helped street children or worked with abused women.
"This audit underscores the weak and deficient conduct of the diocese in accounting," the report said. The Comptroller General, which oversees finances of the hydroelectric dam and other government institutions, ordered the diocese to be more transparent but did not bring forward criminal charges.

(p. 2) In 2013, Livieres Plano filed a defamation suit against Miranda after the lay leader told local press he had learned the bishop ran up a $1 million gambling debt in Uruguay.

Testifying in the case in June 2014, the bishop said he had never been in a casino. He also defended his property sales, saying the money was used for work on seminary buildings. He blasted detractors for making "accusation after accusation without any basis."

Documents reviewed by the AP also recorded at least $40,000 in payments made to the bishop's brother, Benjamin Livieres, for unspecified services. The diocese, under Livieres Plano, was listed on 2008 incorporation papers for a company named "Green Energy" that was partially owned by the bishop's brother. The stated business purpose was to clean "toxic residues" and generate revenue for the diocese, but there is no indication the company ever got off the ground.
Benjamin Livieres did not respond to several phone calls, texts or messages via social media.

As for the church's outstanding $800,000 debt, the majority was incurred in bank loans taken out by Livieres Plano, according to diocese statements. The church declined to release annual financial statements to the AP.
Pope Francis removed Livieres Plano without commenting on the unusual action. The ouster came soon after Francis sent Cardinal Santos Abril, a financial expert, to Paraguay to investigate.
"We are all a family," he said, sitting in the old office of Livieres Plano, which still has his picture on the wall. "We need to turn the page."

Livieres Plano has blamed his dismissal on a clash of ideology. He wrote in a blog post after his ouster that opposing bishops and liberal parishioners had "persecuted" him for his conservative orthodoxy. Supporters of the former bishop praise him for preserving traditional aspects of the church, such as celebrating the old Latin Mass. They also credit him with founding the successful San Jose seminary, which at one point had 200 seminarians, no small accomplishment at a time when most countries have a shortage of priests.
Claims of financial misconduct are "all inventions of people who don't like Livieres Plano," said Oscar Barreiro, a 27-year-old who sells books on Catholicism outside of Holy Spirit parish, where Livieres Plano often celebrated Mass.
Meanwhile, lay members have hired a lawyer to audit the diocese's finances. 

They also have submitted requests to the country's customs agency seeking information about 

at lest 18 vehicles puchased by the diocese that cannot be found.

"We want the diocese to be cleansed," said Miranda. "There has been a lot of damage, and we don't yet know how much.""


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Arctic Sea Ice extent, June 27, 2015, ice concentration higher than 30%-DMI

6/27/15, "Arctic Sea Ice Extent, The Northern Hemisphere Sea Ice Coverage," Danish Meteorological Institute, DMI

"Sea ice extent in recent years (in million km2) for the northern hemisphere, as a function of date. Please notice, that the sea ice extent in this plot is calculated with the coastal zones masked out. To see the absolute extent, go to this page.

Current Sea Ice extent

Total sea ice extent on the northern hemisphere since 2005. The ice extent values are calculated from the ice type data from the Ocean and Sea Ice, Satellite Application Facility (OSISAF), where areas with ice concentration higher than 30% are classified as ice.

The total area of sea ice is the sum of First Year Ice (FYI), Multi Year Ice (MYI) and the area of ambiguous ice types, from the OSISAF ice type product. However, the total estimated ice area is underestimated due to unclassified coastal regions where mixed land/sea pixels confuse the applied ice type algorithm. The shown sea ice extent values are therefore recommended be used qualitatively in relation to ice extent values from other years shown in the figure. In late 2012 sea ice climatology and anomaly data will be available here."


Friday, June 26, 2015

Tunisia closing 80 mosques for inciting violence. Islamist beach attacker posed as swimmer but had a rifle under his parasol, 39 tourists killed-BBC

6/26/15, "Tunisia beach attack: 80 'propagandist' mosques to be closed," BBC

"Tunisia will shut down about 80 mosques accused of inciting violence, Prime Minister Habib Essid has said, after a beach attack that left 39 people dead.

The mosques, which operate outside state control, are spreading "venom" and will close within a week, he said.

On Friday a gunman opened fire on tourists in the resort town of Sousse.

Tunisians, Britons, Germans, Belgians, French and at least one Irish citizen were among those killed in the attack, claimed by Islamic State (IS).

The gunman was shot dead by police. Officials say he was a student not previously known to authorities.

This was the second major attack on tourists in Tunisia since March, when militants killed 22 people, mainly foreigners, at a museum in the capital.
Speaking at a news conference in Tunis, Mr Essid said: "Some mosques continue to spread their propaganda and their venom to promote terrorism."

He said they would be closed by the interior ministry.

The shooting in Tunisia comes on the same day as:
    Mr Essid also vowed to act against parties and groups "acting outside the constitution" - such action could range from a warning to closure.

    Referring to Friday's attack, Mr Essid said most victims were British, without providing details.

    Earlier, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said at least five Britons were confirmed dead, adding: "We must expect more reports of fatalities".

    Security officials said one attacker, who had posed as a swimmer but was carrying a rifle under a parasol, started shooting on the beach before entering the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba, continuing to shoot.

    One British holidaymaker in Sousse, Steve Johnson, told the BBC: "We were just lying on the beach as usual and... we heard what we thought at first was fireworks.

    "But it was soon pretty obvious... that it was firearms that were being discharged and people screaming and starting to run."

    IS said it was behind Friday's attack, identifying the gunman as Abu Yahya al-Qayrawani. Social media accounts close to the group showed pictures of him.

    IS had urged followers to step up assaults during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

    At the scene: BBC's Rana Jawad

    This was a brazen attack that has affected everyone here. Tourists gathered in the hotel lobby of the Marhaba Imperial consoling each other. Most were thankful they had survived and described a day where they faced their worst fears: not seeing their children again back home or losing a loved one before their eyes.

    A woman sat in alone in a corner silently crying with her packed luggage sitting beside her. So many here were frustrated at having to stay at the scene of the attack tonight, but one busload after another took many of the residents away.

    These are sobering times for a country, and people now reeling from the effects of deadly attacks on tourists.

    But the people of Sousse remain defiant: they are socialising with friends and family, and large parts of the city are still lit up on what is arguably its darkest day yet.

    One survivor told the BBC how her fiance, a Welsh tourist, had been shot three times as he used his body as a shield.

    "He took a bullet for me," said Saera Wilson. "I owe him my life because he threw himself in front of me when the shooting started.

    "It was the bravest thing I've ever known. But I just had to leave him under the sunbed because the shooting just kept on coming.

    "I ran back, past bodies on the beach to reach our hotel. It was chaos - there was a body in the hotel pool and it was just full of blood.

    The UK Foreign Office said the British embassy in Tunis was sending a crisis team to the area. "Any British nationals in these hotels or nearby should remain indoors, and contact their tour operator and the Foreign Office," the FCO said in its updated travel advice.

    Many of the tourists in hotels affected by the attack left the country overnight with tour operators arranging special flights to take them home.

    Friday's attack was the deadliest in Tunisia's recent history. The country has seen militant Islamists gain strength since the overthrow of long-serving ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in in 2011.

    Democratic elections after Ben Ali's removal saw the moderate Islamist Ennahda party take power before the secularist Nidaa Tounes government won a parliamentary poll in October.

    However, neither party has been able effectively to combat Islamist violence - which has been made worse by conflict in neighbouring Libya and by Tunisian fighters returning home after joining Islamist campaigns in Iraq and Syria.
    Tunisia's tourism industry

    6.1 million-the number of tourist arrivals to Tunisia in 2014

    • 15.2% the total contribution of travel and tourism to Tunisia's GDP
    • 473,000 the number of jobs supported by travel and tourism (13.8% of total employment)

    In 2011 Vatican called for world government led by UN to oversee "fair distribution of world wealth." In 2014 Pope Francis tells UN groups wealth should be redistributed by governments. Vatican's UN pals are unelected, unaccountable, can't be convicted of any crime anywhere in the world, and only survive with forced donations by US taxpayers

    10/24/2011, "Towards Reforming Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority," Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, The Vatican, Peter K.A. Cardinal Turkson, President, Bishop Mario Toso, Secretary

    "With due respect for the competent civil and political authorities, the Council hereby offers and shares its reflection: Towards reforming the international financial and monetary systems in the context of global public authority....

    The G20 leaders themselves said in the Statement they adopted in Pittsburgh in 2009: “The economic crisis demonstrates the importance of ushering in a new era of sustainable global economic activity grounded in responsibility” (3)....  
    We hope that world leaders and all people of good will find this reflection helpful."...

    2nd to last paragraph in subhead 3. "An Authority over Globalization:"  

    "A long road still needs to be travelled before arriving at the creation of a public Authority with universal jurisdiction. It would seem logical for the reform process to proceed with the United Nattions as its reference because of the worldwide scope of the UN’s responsibilities, its ability to bring together the nations of the world, and the diversity of its tasks and those of its specialized Agencies. The fruit of such reforms ought to be a greater ability to adopt policies and choices that are binding because they are aimed at achieving the common good on the local, regional and world levels. Among the policies, those regarding global social justice seem most urgent: financial and monetary policies that will not damage the weakest countries(19); and policies aimed at achieving free and stable markets and a fair distribution of world wealth, which may also derive from unprecedented forms of global fiscal solidarity, which will be dealt with later. On the way to creating a world political Authority, questions of governance (that is, a system of merely horizontal coordination without a higher authority super partes) cannot be separated from those of a shared government (that is, a system which in addition to horizontal coordination establishes a higher authority super partes) which is functional and proportionate to the gradual development of a global political society."...via Rosa Koire, Democrats Against UN Agenda 21

    Comment from Rosa Koire: "Yes, it just makes sense that the United Nations would be world authority. It "seems logical."

    Rosa continues:

    Perhaps the Pope, who just accepted the resignation of one of his US Archbishops over pedophilia charges and church coverups, should change the climate in the Catholic Church.  Why are there still pedophiles hiding in confessionals, orphanages, and classrooms?  Perhaps the Pope should resign so that he can take over the UN's Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals---we'd be sure that they would fail.  The Catholic Church is committed to UN Agenda 21. - See more at: the Pope, who has just accepted the resignation of one of his US Archbishops over pedophilia charges and church coverups, should change the climate in the Catholic Church. Why are there still pedophiles hiding in confessionals, orphanages, and classrooms? Perhaps the Pope should resign so he can take over the UN's post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals--we'd be sure they would fail. The Catholic Church is committed to UN Agenda 21." The Vatican was one of 179 who agreed to the UN Agenda 21 Agreement in 1992.



    At 2014 UN speech in Rome Pope Francis says that earned wages must be taken from workers "by the state" and redistributed. Ban Ki-Moon invites Francis to speak at UN:

    5/9/2014, "Pope urges 'legitimate redistribution' of wealth," AP, Nicole Winfield 

    "Pope Francis called Friday for governments to redistribute wealth and benefits to the poor in a new spirit of generosity to help curb the "economy of exclusion" that is taking hold today.

    Francis made the appeal during a speech to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of major U.N. agencies
    who met in Rome this week. Latin America's first pope has frequently lashed out at the injustices of capitalism and the global economic system. On Friday, Francis called for the United Nations to promote a "worldwide ethical mobilization" of solidarity with the poor.

    He said a more equal form of economic progress can be had through "the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society."

    Francis urged the U.N. to promote development goals that attack the root causes of poverty and hunger, protect the environment and ensure dignified labor for all.

    Friday's audience came just days after the Holy See was battered in a second round of grilling by a U.N. committee over its record of handling priestly sex abuse. Neither the pope nor Ban spoke of the issue. Francis did refer to another topic at the U.N. hearings: the church's opposition to abortion, which U.N. committee members have criticized as an impediment to women's access to reproductive health care.

    Francis called for respect for life "from conception to natural death" and his denunciation of the "culture of death" echoed previous papal exhortations against abortion.

    During the meeting, Ban invited Francis to speak to the United Nations. The Vatican hasn't confirmed any such trip, but Francis is widely expected to visit the U.S. in September 2015 to participate in a church meeting on families in Philadelphia, making a U.N. stop likely."

    Photo provided by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.


    June 13, 1992, Pres. George H.W. Bush praises "this mammoth Agenda 21 document and the Rio Declaration" at press conference in Rio de Janeiro after UN climate summit:

    "Well, let me first express my thanks and congratulations to President Collor and the Brazilian people and to all responsible for this Conference for their hospitality, for their tremendous success in hosting the Earth summit. It's obvious to all who came to Rio that the Brazilians made a special effort to accommodate so many heads of states and delegates and journalists and visitors. They managed it flawlessly, and they managed it with grace and good humor. We've had a very successful visit. 

    We've signed a climate convention. We've asked others to join us in presenting action plans for the implementation of the climate convention. We've won agreement on forest principles. We found a warm reception among the G-7 and many developing countries to our Forests for the Future initiative. Many U.S. proposals on oceans and public participation on the importance of economic instruments and free markets were included in this mammoth Agenda 21 document and the Rio Declaration

    Let me be clear on one fundamental point. The United States fully intends to be the world's preeminent leader in protecting the global environment. We have been that for many years. We will remain so. We believe that environment and development, the two subjects of this Conference, can and should go hand in hand. A growing economy creates the resources necessary for environmental protection, and environmental protection makes growth sustainable over the long term. I think that recognition of that fact by leaders from around the world is the central accomplishment of this important Rio Conference."...

    Perhaps the Pope, who just accepted the resignation of one of his US Archbishops over pedophilia charges and church coverups, should change the climate in the Catholic Church.  Why are there still pedophiles hiding in confessionals, orphanages, and classrooms?  Perhaps the Pope should resign so that he can take over the UN's Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals---we'd be sure that they would fail.  The Catholic Church is committed to UN Agenda 21. - See more at:

    Errors in 63% of temperature observations in Global Historical Climate Network database, Celsius, Fahrenheit rounding errors, apart from original precision being generally unknown, per peer reviewed study, Royal Meteorological Society Quarterly Journal, Rhines et al.

    The precision technique "can alter the apparent frequency of record-breaking events."

    2015, "Decoding the precision of historical temperature observations," Quarterly Journal of Royal Meteorological Society
    1. Andrew Rhines1,*,
    2. Martin P. Tingley2,
    3. Karen A. McKinnon1 and
    4. Peter Huybers1
    DOI: 10.1002/qj.2612


    Historical observations of temperature underpin our ability to monitor Earth's climate. We identify a pervasive issue in archived observations from surface stations, wherein the use of varying conventions for units and precision has led to distorted distributions of the dataApart from the original precision being generally unknown, the majority of archived temperature data are found to be misaligned with the original measurements because of rounding on a Fahrenheit scale, conversion to Celsius, and re-rounding. Furthermore, we show that commonly-used statistical methods including quantile regression are sensitive to the finite precision and to double-rounding of the data after unit conversion. To remedy these issues, we present a Hidden Markov Model that uses the differing frequencies of specific recorded values to recover the most likely original precision and units associated with each observation. This precision-decoding algorithm is used to infer the precision of the 644 million daily surface temperature observations in the Global Historical Climate Network database, providing more accurate values for the 63% of samples found to have been biased by double-rounding. The average absolute bias correction across the dataset is 0.018C, and the average inferred precision is 0.41C, even though data are archived at 0.1C precision. These results permit for better inference of when record temperatures occurred, correction of rounding effects, and identification of inhomogeneities in surface temperature time series, amongst other applications. The precision-decoding algorithm is generally applicable to rounded observationsincluding surface pressure, humidity, precipitation, and other temperature data--thereby offering the potential to improve quality control procedures for many datasets." via Hockey Schtick



    Above by Rhines et al. published by AGU, Dec. 2014: 

    The precision technique "can alter the apparent frequency of record-breaking events."

    Decoding the Surface Temperature Record
    Rhines, A. N.; Tingley, M.; McKinnon, K. A.; Huybers, P. J.
    AA(Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, United States, AB(Pennsylvania State University Main Campus, University Park, PA, United States, AC(Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, United States, AD(Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, United States
    American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2014, abstract #GC13H-0769
    Publication Date:
    1616 Climate variability, , 3252 Spatial analysis, , 3270 Time series analysis, , 3309 Climatology
    Bibliographic Code:


    Historical temperature observations from surface stations have been recorded using a variety of units and levels of precision, with metadata that are often incomplete. As a result, the amount of rounding applied to these observations is generally unknown, posing a challenge to statistical methods that are sensitive to the use of discrete data. Methods used to infer distributional changes often assume that data are continuously distributed and can only be reliably applied when the specific discreteness of each sample is known. We present a new technique, termed `precision-decoding,' that identifies the original precision and units of time series data. Applying it to the GHCND database, we identify temporal and spatial patterns in the precision and units used by surface stations. We show that many archived values have been offset from the original observations due to double-rounding in the presence of conversion between Fahrenheit and Celsius, and provide additional metrics to identify stations in need of further quality control. While the discreteness of the data is unlikely to have influenced global mean temperature trends, we show that it can affect higher-order moments of the temperature distribution such as the variance or skewness, and that it can alter the apparent frequency of record-breaking events."

    6/18/15, "Global Historical Climatology Network - Daily (GHCN-Daily), Version 3," NOAA, Updated: Jun 18, 2015

    "The Global Historical Climatology Network-Daily (GHCN-Daily) dataset integrates daily climate observations from approximately 30 different data sources. Version 3 was released in September 2012 with the addition of data from two additional station networks. Changes to the processing system associated with the version 3 release also allowed for updates to occur 7 days a week rather than only on most weekdays. Version 3 contains station-based measurements from well over 90,000 land-based stations worldwide, about two thirds of which are for precipitation measurement only. Other meteorological elements include, but are not limited to, daily maximum and minimum temperature, temperature at the time of observation, snowfall and snow depth. Over 25,000 stations are regularly updated with observations from within roughly the last month. The dataset is also routinely reconstructed (usually every week) from its roughly 30 data sources to ensure that GHCN-Daily is generally in sync with its growing list of constituent sources. During this process, quality assurance checks are applied to the full dataset. Where possible, GHCN-Daily station data are also updated daily from a variety of data streams. Station values for each daily update also undergo a suite of quality checks." 


    Tuesday, June 23, 2015

    Global particulate crisis exists only in East and South Asia per NASA. Particulate matter decreased in North America and western Europe from 1998-2012 but grew so significantly in East and South Asia that the overall global number increased. Improvements by N. America and Europe citizens don't count-NASA

    "While pollution levels have declined in North America and Western Europe, they have increased significantly in East and South Asia. Averaged together, the worsening PM2.5 pollution in Asia outweighed the improvements in North America and Europe, and global PM2.5 concentrations have increased by an average of 2.1 percent per year." (2nd to last parag.)
    June 2015, "Changing Views of Fine Particulate Pollution, Image of the Day," NASA Earth Observatory Global Maps

    Above, acquired 1998-2000

    Above, acquired 2010-2012

    "People living in polluted areas inhale vast quantities of fine particulate matter, which is called PM2.5 because the pollution particles have diameters less than 2.5 micrometers. Such particles are so small—30 times smaller than the width of a human hair—that they can easily infiltrate human respiratory and circulatory systems, contributing to health problems like asthma, pulmonary vascular disease, and heart attacks.

    But how widespread are the health consequences of fine particulates? Where is the greatest threat to health? To what extent is that threat changing? Answering questions like these has long been a challenge for atmospheric scientists and the medical community because there is no reliable way to measure PM2.5 on a global scale using ground-based sensors alone. The United States and Europe have many ground-based monitoring stations, but large swaths of Africa, Asia, Central America, and South America are largely unmonitored. As a result, there have historically been gaps in global assessments of the health effects of PM2.5, particularly for rural populations.

    Satellites offer a potential solution. Every day they can gather global views of industrial pollution, smoke, dust, and other aerosol particles in the air. But monitoring air pollution with satellites poses its own set of problems. Satellites look down through the entire column of the atmosphere, and distinguishing between particles high in the air and those near the surface—the particles people breathe—can be quite challenging. In addition, clouds can block satellite observations. And of the several sensors in orbit that can detect airborne particles, each sees them in slightly different ways.

    Nevertheless, in 2010, a team of researchers from Dalhousie University were able to publish the first long-term satellite-based estimate of PM2.5 by combining data captured between 2001 and 2006 by two sensors—the the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) and the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR)—and additional information provided by an atmospheric model called GEOS-Chem.

    “The map that we produced in 2010 clearly demonstrated that satellites can make a valuable contribution to our understanding of PM2.5 exposure on a global scale, but the uncertainties limited their global application to a single long-term average,” said Aaron van Donkelaar, one of the Dalhousie researchers. “We knew that, with some improvements to our techniques, satellites could provide a great deal more insight still.” 

    In the five years since, teams of researchers from several institutions have done just that, developing new techniques that allow satellite estimates of PM2.5 to be more accurate and to cover longer time periods. For example, some scientists found ways that allow information collected by other sensors—notably SeaWIFS and CALIOP—to be integrated into the analysis. Other researchers developed new techniques for comparing satellite and ground measurements to make the interpretation of satellite observations more accurate. Others have made improvements to the GEOS-Chem model, improving the quality of the simulated separation between particles at the top of the atmosphere from those closer to the surface.

    The Dalhousie team also has more data to work with now than they did in 2010—enough to produce a reliable record of global satellite-based PM2.5 that ranges from 1998 to 2012. Even during that short period, significant changes are visible. The map at the top of this page shows mean PM2.5 concentrations for the period between 1998 and 2000; the lower map shows PM2.5 mean concentrations for 2010 to 2012. While pollution levels have declined in North America and Western Europe, they have increased significantly in East and South Asia. Averaged together, the worsening PM2.5 pollution in Asia outweighed the improvements in North America and Europe, and global PM2.5 concentrations have increased by an average of 2.1 percent per year.

    It is worth nothing that contributions from dust and salt to PM2.5 can be significant, particularly over the Sahara Desert and the Arabian Peninsula. However, many of the changes outside these regions can be tied to human activity, generally fossil fuel burning and agricultural fires rather than natural processes. Had dust and salt been included, much higher levels of PM2.5 would be present over the Sahara Desert and the Arabian Peninsula. Maps of global PM2.5 that exclude dust and salt are available here.)

    NASA Earth Observatory maps by Joshua Stevens, using Global Concentrations of Fine Particulate Matter data from van Donkelaar et al. (2015). Caption by Adam Voiland.

    Instrument(s): OrbView-2 - SeaWiFS Terra - MISR Aqua - MODIS Model CALIPSO - CALIOP"
    Feb. 2015, "Use of Satellite Observations for Long-Term Exposure Assessment of Global Concentrations of Fine Particulate Matter," Environmental Health Perspectives, Aaron van Donkelaar,1 Randall V. Martin,1,2 Michael Brauer,3 and Brian L. Boys1

    Results: We estimated that global population-weighted ambient PM2.5 concentrations increased 0.55 μg/m3/year (95% CI: 0.43, 0.67) (2.1%/year; 95% CI: 1.6, 2.6) from 1998 through 2012. Increasing PM2.5 in some developing regions drove this global change, despite decreasing PM2.5 in some developed region. The estimated proportion of the population of East Asia living above the World Health Organization (WHO) Interim Target-1 of 35 μg/m3 increased from 51% in 1998–2000 to 70% in 2010–2012. In contrast, the North American proportion above the WHO Air Quality Guideline of 10 μg/m3 fell from 62% in 1998–2000 to 19% in 2010–2012. We found significant agreement between satellite-derived estimates and ground-based measurements outside North America and Europe (r = 0.81; n = 210; slope = 0.68). The low bias in satellite-derived estimates suggests that true global concentrations could be even greater....


    Parag. 5, "We found that decade-long population-weighted ambient PM2.5 concentrations estimated for East Asia were nearly double the estimated global mean of 26.4 μg/m3, and increased at an annual population-weighted rate of 1.63 μg/m3/year; 95% CI: 1.09, 2.17 (3.2%/year; 95% CI: 2.1, 4.3) between 1998 and 2012. Population-weighted concentrations estimated for western Europe and North America over the same period changed by –0.25 μg/m3/year; 95% CI: –0.37, –0.13 (–1.9%/year; 95% CI: –2.8, –1.0) and –0.33 μg/m3/year; 95% CI: –0.41, –0.25 (–3.3%/year; 95% CI: –4.1, –2.5), respectively, in contrast with increases over South Asia (1.02 μg/m3/year; 95% CI: 0.77, 1.27; 2.9%/year; 95% CI: 2.2, 3.6) and the Middle East (0.38 μg/m3/year; 95% CI: 0.17, 0.59; 1.5%/year; 95% CI: 0.7, 2.3). Satellite-derived estimates suggest that 30% of the global population lived in regions above the WHO IT1 standard (35 μg/m3) for PM2.5 in 2010–2012, up from 22% in 1998–2000. We found that most of the changes in exposure were driven by changes in PM2.5 rather than changes in population itself."... via Hockey Schtick



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