Kerry returns to Middle East for flailing peace talks

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel News

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry broke from his travel schedule for the second time in a week and rushed back to the Middle East on Monday to try to salvage Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

A major stumbling block is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas explicitly recognize Israel as a Jewish state. He has refused, saying that would destroy the Palestinians own narrative for nationhood.

Kerry made no statement on his arrival at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion airport. He was due to hold separate meetings later in the day with Netanyahu and Abbas.

Sources close to the negotiations said that an Israeli spy serving a life sentence in the United States and groups of Palestinian prisoners could be freed under an emerging deal to salvage the talks.

The U.S.-brokered negotiations faced a crisis at the weekend when Israel, saying it was seeking a Palestinian commitment to continue negotiations beyond an end-April deadline, failed to press ahead with a promised release of Palestinian prisoners.

“After consulting with his team, Secretary Kerry decided it would be productive to return to the region,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said.

Kerry had interrupted a visit to Rome last week to go to Amman for talks with Abbas to try to convince him to prolong the talks beyond the April 29 deadline for a deal and to press Israel to release the prisoners.

By returning to the region, Kerry is indicating either that he believes there is room to save the talks, possibly through a commitment from both sides to extend the negotiations, or to send a message that U.S. patience is not endless.

Kerry was scheduled to attend a NATO ministerial meeting in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was not immediately clear whether he would still be able to make the first day.

Direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks resumed last July after a three-year break. In the absence of any obvious breakthroughs, Kerry said he wanted a clear framework to enable discussions to continue in the coming months.

Officials have said the two sides remain far apart even on the draft framework. However, the State Department’s Psaki said on Monday the Israelis and Palestinians “have both made tough choices” over the past eight months.

“As we work with them to determine the next steps, it is important they remember that only peace will bring the Israeli and Palestinian people both the security and economic prosperity they all deserve,” she said.

(Reporting by Lesley Wroughton; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Louise Ireland)

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/kerry-returns-middle-east-push-flailing-peace-talks-165048009.html

Protesters, police clash in Albuquerque

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Hundreds of protesters angry over recent Albuquerque police shootings clashed with riot officers for more than 10 hours, calling on the police chief and other city officials to resign.

Gas canisters were thrown outside police headquarters and at one point protesters trapped police in a vehicle and tried to break its windows. Mayor Richard Berry said Sunday that one officer was injured during the protest.

Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputies charging at the protesters late Sunday mostly dispersed the crowds.

Video by KRQE-TV showed people being led away in zip-tie restraints, but it’s unclear if those people were arrested or if any protesters were injured. Multiple messages left with police weren’t immediately returned.

“We respected their rights to protest, obviously,” Berry said, “but what it appears we have at this time is individuals who weren’t connected necessarily with the original protest. They’ve taken it far beyond a normal protest.”

Protesters took to the streets in the early afternoon and stayed out late Sunday after authorities declared an unlawful assembly. The outrage bubbled over because of Albuquerque police’s involvement in 37 shootings, 23 of them fatal since 2010. Critics say that’s far too many for a department serving a city of about 555,000.

Protests in Albuquerque

The protesters repeatedly marched the 2 miles from downtown Albuquerque to the University of New Mexico, snarling traffic.

Justin Elder, 24, followed the protest as a passenger in a car and held a sign that read, “APD: Dressed To Kill.”

“That’s what this police force is about,” Elder said.

Albuquerque police in riot gear and New Mexico State Police followed the marchers, and protesters shouted epithets at officers. At one point, a protester climbed a tall street sign on the city’s historic Route 66 and unsuccessfully attempted to bring it down.

Another protester, Alexander Siderits, 23, said he was participating because he was “fed up” with how police treat citizens. “It has reached a boiling point,” he said, “and people just can’t take it anymore.”

The U.S. Justice Department has been investigating the police department for more than a year, looking into complaints of civil rights violations and allegations of excessive use of force.

The gathering came days after a YouTube video emerged threatening retaliation for a homeless man who was fatally shot by police in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains on the east side of Albuquerque. The March shooting was captured on video and followed a long standoff. The FBI has opened an investigation into it.

The video, which bore the logo of the computer hacking collective Anonymous, warned of a cyberattack on city websites and called for the protest. Albuquerque police said their site had been breached early Sunday afternoon, but it was back by that evening.

Police spokesman Simon Drobik said investigators had not uncovered the source of the hack.

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/protesters-clash-police-albuquerque-144421040.html

Mudslide death toll rises; rains expected to ease

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel News

DARRINGTON, Wash. (AP) — The rains that have bedeviled rescuers working to find more victims in the debris field from the deadly Washington state mudslide are expected to ease this week, but searchers faced other challenges at the site like household chemicals and sewage.

The number of confirmed dead has increased from 18 to 21, Jason Biermann, program manager at the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, said Sunday evening.

Fifteen of the victims have been identified by the Snohomish County medical examiner, and six have yet to be identified, Biermann said. Another four bodies were found Sunday, but they won’t be added to the official count until the medical examiner receives the bodies. Biermann said 30 people remain missing.

The March 22 landslide, one of the deadliest in U.S. history, struck a rural community about 55 miles northeast of Seattle.

Crews have completed a makeshift road that will link one side of the debris field to the other, significantly aiding the recovery operation. They have also been working to clear mud and debris from the highway, leaving piles of gooey muck, splintered wood and housing insulation on the sides of the road.

Searchers have had to contend with treacherous conditions, including septic tanks, gasoline and propane containers. When rescuers and dogs leave the site, they are hosed off by hazardous materials crews.

Deadly mudslide in Washington

“We’re worried about dysentery, we’re worried about tetanus, we’re worried about contamination,” said Lt. Richard Burke of the Bellevue Fire Department, an on-site spokesman. “The last thing we want to do is take any of these contaminants out of here and take them into town.”

The slide dammed up the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, causing water to pool up on the east side. The river cut a new channel through the mud, but the rain has raised the water level nearly a foot, said Kris Rietmann, a spokeswoman for the team working on the eastern portion of the slide.

In at least one place, the water level got so high that it covered areas that have already been searched, said Tim Pierce, leader of Washington Task Force 1, a search-and-rescue team.

Searchers should get some relief soon. Conditions improved Sunday, and mainly dry weather is forecast Monday through Wednesday in western Washington.

“That’s good news for our crews in the field, who have been working in extremely wet conditions,” Biermann said.

The size of the debris field is also smaller than initially thought, officials said Sunday. After review and analysis, geologists have determined it is about 300 acres — just under half the size of an earlier projection of 1 square mile.

Away from the whirring chain saws and roaring bulldozers, many residents of nearby Darrington sought comfort in Sunday church services.

“I can only compare it to a hot, hearty meal after a very cold day,” said Slava Botamanenko, who works at the hospital in Arlington. He said he spent two nights there to be sure he was available for work after the mudslide blocked the road.

All week, a steady stream of people has stopped in to pray at the Glad Tidings Assembly of God on the edge of town, said Lee Hagen, the senior pastor.

“At a time like this, everybody knows they’ve got to have God’s help,” he said.

At the St. John Mary Vianney Catholic church a few blocks away, the Rev. Tim Sauer said: “Bless our communities, bless our people, bless our valley.”

___

Baumann reported from Seattle.

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/mudslide-death-toll-rises-rains-expected-ease-065220033.html

US, Russia offer differing solutions on Ukraine

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel News

PARIS (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are advancing far different proposals on how to calm tensions and de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine as Russia continues to mass troops along its border with the former Soviet republic.

As Kerry called for Moscow to begin an immediate pullback of the troops, he also ruled out discussion of Russia’s demand for Ukraine to become a loose federation unless Ukrainians are at the table.

While the United States and Russia agreed the crisis in Ukraine requires a diplomatic resolution, four hours of talks Sunday between Kerry and Lavrov failed to break a tense East-West deadlock over how to proceed.

“The Russian troop buildup is creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine,” Kerry told reporters at the home of the U.S. ambassador to France after the meeting, which was held at the Russian ambassador’s residence and included a working dinner. “It certainly does not create the climate that we need for dialogue.”

The U.S. views the massing of tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, ostensibly for military exercises, along the border as an attempt to intimidate Ukraine’s new leaders after Russia’s annexation of the strategic Crimean peninsula, as well as a bargaining chip with the United States and the European Union, which have condemned Crimea’s absorption into Russia and imposed sanctions on senior Russian officials.

Even if the troops remain on Russian soil and do not enter Ukraine, they create a negative atmosphere, Kerry said.

Rallies As Crimea Moves Closer to Russia

“The question is not one of right or legality,” he said. “The question is one of strategic appropriateness and whether it’s smart at this moment of time to have troops massed on the border.”

Kerry proposed a number of ideas on troop withdrawals from the border and Lavrov, while making no promises, told him he would present the proposals to the Kremlin, according to U.S. officials.

Lavrov did not address the troop issue at a separate news conference at the Russian ambassador’s house, instead arguing for Moscow’s idea of Ukraine as a federalized nation with its various regions enjoying major autonomy from the government in Kiev. Russia says it is particularly concerned about the treatment of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers who live in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine can’t function as a “unified state” and should be a loose federation of regions that are each allowed to choose their own economic, financial, social, linguistic and religious models, Lavrov said.

He said every time Ukraine has elected a new president, the country has adopted a new constitution, proving that “the model of a unified state doesn’t work.”

Crisis in Ukraine: The World Reacts

Ukrainian officials are wary of decentralizing power, fearing that pro-Russia regions would hamper its Western aspirations and potentially split the country apart. However, they are exploring political reforms that could grant more authority to local governments.

The United States has encouraged ongoing political and constitutional reform efforts that the government in Kiev is now working on, but U.S. officials insist that any changes to Ukraine’s governing structure must be acceptable to the Ukrainians.

Kerry said the federation idea had not been discussed in any serious way during his meeting with Lavrov “because it would have been inappropriate to do so without Ukrainian input.”

“It is not up to us to make any decision or agreement regarding federalization,” he said. “It is up to Ukrainians.”

“We will not accept a path forward where the legitimate government of Ukraine is not at the table,” Kerry said, adding that the bottom line is, “No decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine.”

Lavrov denied that Moscow wants to “split Ukraine.”

“Federation does not mean, as some in Kiev fear, an attempt to split Ukraine,” he said. “To the contrary, federation … answers the interests of all regions of Ukraine.”

Lavrov said he and Kerry did agree to work with the Ukrainian government to improve rights for Russian-speaking Ukrainians and disarm “irregular forces and provocateurs.”

Sunday’s meeting was hastily arranged two days after U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone in a conversation in which Obama urged Putin to withdraw his troops from the border with Ukraine. Putin, who initiated the call, asserted that Ukraine’s government is allowing extremists to intimidate ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking civilians with impunity — something Ukraine insists is not happening.

That call did little to reassure U.S. officials that Russia is not planning to invade Ukraine after its Crimea annexation, which drew U.S. and EU sanctions that sparked reciprocal moves from Moscow.

The idea for Sunday’s meeting was for Lavrov to present Russia’s responses to a U.S. proposal that covers Ukrainian political and constitutional reforms as well as the disarmament of irregular forces, international monitors to protect minority rights and direct dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, according to U.S. officials, who say it is backed by Ukraine’s government.

___

Associated Press writer Angela Charlton contributed to this report.

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/us-russia-offer-differing-solutions-ukraine-054507877--politics.html

UN panel: Warming worsens food, hunger problems

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel News

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — Global warming makes feeding the world harder and more expensive, a United Nations scientific panel said.

A warmer world will push food prices higher, trigger “hotspots of hunger” among the world’s poorest people, and put the crunch on Western delights like fine wine and robust coffee, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded in a 32-volume report issued Monday.

“We’re facing the specter of reduced yields in some of the key crops that feed humanity,” panel chairman Rajendra Pachauri said in press conference releasing the report.

Even though heat and carbon dioxide are often considered good for plants, the overall effect of various aspects of man-made warming is that it will reduce food production compared to a world without global warming, the report said.

The last time the panel reported on the effects of warming in 2007, it said it was too early to tell whether climate change would increase or decrease food production, and many skeptics talked of a greening world. But in the past several years the scientific literature has been overwhelming in showing that climate change hurts food production, said Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution of Science and lead author of the climate report.

But this doesn’t mean in 50 years there will be less food grown. Thanks to the “green revolution” of improved agricultural techniques, crop production is growing about 10 percent per decade and climate change is likely to reduce yields by 1 percent a decade, so crop production will still go up, but not as fast, said David Lobell of Stanford University, one of the authors of the report’s chapter on food problems.

FILE - In this Aug. 29, 2011 file photo, bins of pinotnbsp;hellip;

Still, it is as if an anchor is weighing down the improvements to agriculture, Pachauri and Field said. Some places have seen crop yield increases drop from 2 percent a year to 1 percent or even plateau. And places like India, where 800 million people rely on rainfall not irrigation, the green revolution never improved crops much, Pachauri said.

Although changes in rainfall hurt, mostly the problem will be too much heat, Lobell said. “No place is immune,” he said.

Food prices are likely to go up somewhere in a wide range of 3 percent to 84 percent by 2050 just because of climate change, the report said.

“In a world where a billion people are already going hungry, this makes it harder for more people to feed their families,” said Tim Gore of Oxfam International, who wasn’t part of this study.

While some crops may do slightly better, staples like wheat and corn will be hurt, the Nobel Prize-winning panel of scientists said. The report specifically mentions warming squeezing out crops in some of the richer coffee-growing areas in Central and South America, apple orchards in eastern Washington and cherry orchards in California.

FILE - In this Nov. 14,2007 file photo, Nicaraguannbsp;hellip;

And where you get your wine may be changing. Both quantity and quality of wine can be hurt in much of Europe, the United States and Australia, but Portugal and British Columbia in Canada may become better places for wine, the report said.

It’s not just crops on land. A warmer and more acidic ocean is changing where fish live, making them harder to catch, and making it harder to feed people who rely on fish, Pachauri said.

___

Online:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: http://www.ipcc.ch

___

Seth Borenstein can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/un-panel-warming-worsens-food-hunger-problems-075505181.html

U.S., Russia talks fail to end Ukraine deadlock

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel News

PARIS (AP) — The United States and Russia agreed Sunday that the crisis in Ukraine requires a diplomatic resolution, but four hours of talks between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov failed to break a tense East-West deadlock over how to proceed.

Sitting face-to-face but not seeing eye-to-eye on any of the most critical issues, Kerry and Lavrov advanced far- different proposals on how to calm tensions and de-escalate the situation, particularly as Russia continues to mass troops along its border with the former Soviet republic. As he called for Moscow to begin an immediate pullback of the troops, Kerry also ruled out discussion of Russia’s demand for Ukraine to become a loose federation until-and-unless Ukrainians are at the table.

“The Russian troop buildup is creating a climate of fear and intimidation in Ukraine,” Kerry told reporters at the home of the U.S. ambassador to France after the meeting, which was held at the Russian ambassador’s residence and included a working dinner. “It certainly does not create the climate that we need for dialogue.”

The U.S. believes the massing of tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, ostensibly for military exercises, along the border is at once an attempt to intimidate Ukraine’s new leaders after Russia’s annexation of the strategic Crimean peninsula and to use as a bargaining chip with the United States and the European Union, which have condemned Crimea’s absorption into Russia and imposed sanctions on senior Russian officials.

Kerry noted that even if the troops remain on Russian soil and do not enter Ukraine, they create a negative atmosphere.

“The question is not one of right or legality,” he said. “The question is one of strategic appropriateness and whether it’s smart at this moment of time to have troops massed on the border.”

Rallies As Crimea Moves Closer to Russia

U.S. officials said Kerry proposed a number of ideas on troop withdrawals from the border and that Lavrov, while making no promises, told him he would present the proposals to the Kremlin.

At a separate news conference at the Russian ambassador’s house, Lavrov did not address the troop issue. Instead, he made the case for Moscow’s idea of Ukraine as a federalized nation with its various regions enjoying major autonomy from the government in Kiev. Russia says it is particularly concerned about the treatment of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers who live in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Lavrov said that Ukraine can’t function as a “unified state” and should be a loose federation of regions that are each allowed to choose their own economic, financial, social, linguistic and religious models.

He said every time Ukraine has elected a new president, the country has adopted a new constitution, proving that “the model of a unified state doesn’t work.”

Ukrainian officials are wary of decentralizing power, fearing that pro-Russia regions would hamper its Western aspirations and potentially split the country apart. However, they are exploring political reforms that could grant more authority to local governments.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, shakes handsnbsp;hellip;

The U.S. has been coy about their position on a federation. Washington has encouraged ongoing political and constitutional reform efforts that the government in Kiev is now working on but U.S. officials insist that any changes to Ukraine’s governing structure must be acceptable to the Ukrainians.

Kerry said the federation idea had not been discussed in any serious way during his meeting with Lavrov “because it would have been inappropriate to do so without Ukrainian input.”

“It is not up to us to make any decision or agreement regarding federalization,” he said. “It is up to Ukrainians.”

“We will not accept a path forward where the legitimate government of Ukraine is not at the table,” Kerry said, adding that the bottom line is: “No decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine.”

Lavrov denied that Moscow wants to “split Ukraine.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, is greetednbsp;hellip;

“Federation does not mean, as some in Kiev fear, an attempt to split Ukraine,” he said. “To the contrary, federation … answers the interests of all regions of Ukraine.”

Lavrov said he and Kerry did agree to work with the Ukrainian government to improve rights for Russian-speaking Ukrainians and disarm “irregular forces and provocateurs.”

Sunday’s meeting was hastily arranged 48 hours after U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone in a conversation in which Obama urged Putin to withdraw his troops from the border with Ukraine. Putin, who initiated the call, asserted that Ukraine’s government is allowing extremists to intimidate ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking civilians with impunity — something Ukraine insists is not happening.

That call did little to reassure U.S. officials that Russia is not planning to invade Ukraine after its Crimea annexation that drew U.S. and EU sanctions, sparking reciprocal moves from Moscow.

In the interview with Russian television, Lavrov called the sanctions a “dead-end” strategy that would not achieve results and accused the West of hypocrisy. He said it was inconsistent for the west to refuse to recognize Crimea’s annexation, which followed a referendum on joining Russia that was overwhelmingly approved, while at the same time accepting the new government in Kiev, which was formed after the pro-Moscow president fled the country.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and Russiannbsp;hellip;

The idea for Sunday’s meeting was for Lavrov to present Russia’s responses to a U.S. proposal to de-escalate the tensions that covers Ukrainian political and constitutional reforms as well as the disarmament of irregular forces, international monitors to protect minority rights and direct dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, according to U.S. officials, who say it has backing of Ukraine’s government.

U.S. officials said Russia appeared to show some interest in the Ukrainian reform program, but Moscow’s insistence on a federated state left it unclear if they would support it.

Kerry and Lavrov have met several times in person and have spoken by phone almost daily since the crisis began but have not yet been able to agree on a way forward. The pair met last week in The Hague, where Kerry presented Lavrov with the proposal, which was a response to ideas Lavrov gave him at a March 14 meeting in London.

Kerry and Lavrov will continue their consultation at a distance. And Kerry was expected to travel to Brussels Wednesday and Thursday for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

___

Associated Press writer Angela Charlton contributed to this report.

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/us-russia-talks-fail-end-ukraine-deadlock-234644332--politics.html

Global warming dials up our risks, UN report says

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel News

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — If the world doesn’t cut pollution of heat-trapping gases, the already noticeable harms of global warming could spiral “out of control,” the head of a United Nations scientific panel warned Monday.

And he’s not alone. The Obama White House says it is taking this new report as a call for action, with Secretary of State John Kerry saying “the costs of inaction are catastrophic.”

Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that issued the 32-volume, 2,610-page report here early Monday, told The Associated Press: “it is a call for action.” Without reductions in emissions, he said, impacts from warming “could get out of control.”

One of the study’s authors, Maarten van Aalst, a top official at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said, “If we don’t reduce greenhouse gases soon, risks will get out of hand. And the risks have already risen.”

Twenty-first century disasters such as killer heat waves in Europe, wildfires in the United States, droughts in Australia and deadly flooding in Mozambique, Thailand and Pakistan highlight how vulnerable humanity is to extreme weather, according to the report from the Nobel Prize-winning group of scientists. The dangers are going to worsen as the climate changes even more, the report’s authors said.

“We’re now in an era where climate change isn’t some kind of future hypothetical,” said the overall lead author of the report, Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution for Science in California. “We live in an area where impacts from climate change are already widespread and consequential.”

Nobody is immune, Pachauri and other scientists said.

“We’re all sitting ducks,” Princeton University professor Michael Oppenheimer, one of the main authors of the report, said in an interview.

After several days of late-night wrangling, more than 100 governments unanimously approved the scientist-written 49-page summary — which is aimed at world political leaders. The summary mentions the word “risk” an average of about 5 1/2 times per page.

“Changes are occurring rapidly and they are sort of building up that risk,” Field said.

These risks are both big and small, according to the report. They are now and in the future. They hit farmers and big cities. Some places will have too much water, some not enough, including drinking water. Other risks mentioned in the report involve the price and availability of food, and to a lesser and more qualified extent some diseases, financial costs and even world peace.

“Things are worse than we had predicted” in 2007, when the group of scientists last issued this type of report, said report co-author Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University in Bangladesh. “We are going to see more and more impacts, faster and sooner than we had anticipated.”

The problems have gotten so bad that the panel had to add a new and dangerous level of risks. In 2007, the biggest risk level in one key summary graphic was “high” and colored blazing red. The latest report adds a new level, “very high,” and colors it deep purple.

You might as well call it a “horrible” risk level, said van Aalst: “The horrible is something quite likely, and we won’t be able to do anything about it.”

The report predicts that the highest level of risk would first hit plants and animals, both on land and the acidifying oceans.

Climate change will worsen problems that society already has, such as poverty, sickness, violence and refugees, according to the report. And on the other end, it will act as a brake slowing down the benefits of a modernizing society, such as regular economic growth and more efficient crop production, it says.

“In recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans,” the report says.

And if society doesn’t change, the future looks even worse, it says: “Increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts.”

While the problems from global warming will hit everyone in some way, the magnitude of the harm won’t be equal, coming down harder on people who can least afford it, the report says. It will increase the gaps between the rich and poor, healthy and sick, young and old, and men and women, van Aalst said.

But the report’s authors say this is not a modern day version of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Much of what they warn of are more nuanced troubles that grow by degrees and worsen other societal ills. The report also concedes that there are uncertainties in understanding and predicting future climate risks.

The report, the fifth on warming’s impacts, includes risks to the ecosystems of the Earth, including a thawing Arctic, but it is far more oriented to what it means to people than past versions.

The report also notes that one major area of risk is that with increased warming, incredibly dramatic but ultra-rare single major climate events, sometimes called tipping points, become more possible with huge consequences for the globe. These are events like the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, which would take more than 1,000 years.

“I can’t think of a better word for what it means to society than the word ‘risk,’” said Virginia Burkett of the U.S. Geological Survey, one of the study’s main authors. She calls global warming “maybe one of the greatest known risks we face.”

Global warming is triggered by heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide, that stay in the atmosphere for a century. Much of the gases still in the air and trapping heat came from the United States and other industrial nations. China is now by far the No. 1 carbon dioxide polluter, followed by the United States and India.

Unlike in past reports, where the scientists tried to limit examples of extremes to disasters that computer simulations can attribute partly to man-made warming, this version broadens what it looks at because it includes the larger issues of risk and vulnerability, van Aalst said.

Freaky storms like 2013′s Typhoon Haiyan, 2012′s Superstorm Sandy and 2008′s ultra-deadly Cyclone Nargis may not have been caused by warming, but their fatal storm surges were augmented by climate change’s ever rising seas, he said.

And in the cases of the big storms like Haiyan, Sandy and Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the poor were the most vulnerable, Oppenheimer and van Aalst said. The report talks about climate change helping create new pockets of poverty and “hotspots of hunger” even in richer countries, increasing inequality between rich and poor.

Report co-author Maggie Opondo of the University of Nairobi said that especially in places like Africa, climate change and extreme events mean “people are going to become more vulnerable to sinking deeper into poverty.” And other study authors talked about the fairness issue with climate change.

“Rich people benefit from using all these fossil fuels,” University of Sussex economist Richard Tol said. “Poorer people lose out.”

Huq said he had hope because richer nations and people are being hit more, and “when it hits the rich, then it’s a problem” and people start acting on it.

Part of the report talks about what can be done: reducing carbon pollution and adapting to and preparing for changing climates with smarter development.

The report echoes an earlier U.N. climate science panel that said if greenhouse gases continue to rise, the world is looking at another about 6 or 7 degrees Fahrenheit (3.5 or 4 degrees Celsius) of warming by 2100 instead of the international goal of not allowing temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.2 degrees Celsius). The difference between those two outcomes, Princeton’s Oppenheimer said, “is the difference between driving on an icy road at 30 mph versus 90 mph. It’s risky at 30, but deadly at 90.”

Tol, who is in the minority of experts here, had his name removed from the summary because he found it “too alarmist,” harping too much on risk.

But the panel vice chairman, Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, said that’s not quite right: “We are pointing for reasons for alarm … It’s because the facts and the science and the data show that there are reasons to be alarmed. It’s not because we’re alarmist.”

The report is based on more than 12,000 peer reviewed scientific studies. Michel Jarraud, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, a co-sponsor of the climate panel, said this report was “the most solid evidence you can get in any scientific discipline.”

Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University who wasn’t part of this report, said he found the report “very conservative” because it is based on only peer reviewed studies and has to be approved unanimously.

There is still time to adapt to some of the coming changes and reduce heat-trapping emissions, so it’s not all bad, said study co-author Patricia Romero-Lankao of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado.

“We have a closing window of opportunity,” she said. “We do have choices. We need to act now.”

___

Online:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: http://www.ipcc.ch

___

Seth Borenstein can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/global-warming-dials-risks-un-report-says-001136062.html

SKorea fires shells at NKorean waters after drills

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel News

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea on Monday returned fire into North Korean waters after shells from a North Korean live-fire drill fell south of the rivals’ disputed western sea boundary, a South Korean military official said. Residents on a front-line South Korean island said they were evacuated to shelters during the exchange.

No shells from either side were fired at any land or military installations, an official with South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. He provided no other details and spoke on condition of anonymity because of office rules.

Kang Myeong-sung, speaking from a shelter on Yeonpyeong island, which is in sight of North Korean territory, said that anxious islanders were huddled together in shelters. Kang said he didn’t see any fighter jets, but he could hear the boom of artillery fire. In 2010, North Korean artillery killed four South Koreans on Yeonpyeong.

The exchange of fire followed Pyongyang’s earlier, unusual announcement that it would conduct the live-fire drills, a move seen as an expression of Pyongyang’s frustration at making little progress in its recent push to win outside aid.

The North in recent weeks has increased threatening rhetoric and conducted a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches that are considered acts of protest against annual ongoing springtime military exercises by Seoul and Washington. The North calls the South Korea-U.S. drills a rehearsal for invasion; the allies say they’re routine and defensive.

Pyongyang threatened Sunday to conduct a fourth nuclear test at some point, though Seoul says there are no signs of an imminent detonation.

After the North’s earlier announcement Monday that it would conduct firing drills in seven areas north of the sea boundary, South Korea responded that it would strongly react if provoked.

Pyongyang routinely test-fires artillery and missiles into the ocean, but it’s rare for the country to disclose such training plans in advance. Wee Yong-sub, a deputy spokesman at the South Korean Defense Ministry, said the North Korean message was a “hostile” attempt to heighten tension on the Korean Peninsula.

The poorly marked western sea boundary has been the scene of several bloody naval skirmishes between the Koreas in recent years. In 2010, North Korea launched artillery strikes on a front-line South Korean island near the boundary, killing four. Pyongyang said it was responding to earlier South Korea’s artillery drills that day.

Last spring, tension spiked after a near-daily barrage of North Korean threats, including warnings of nuclear strikes against Seoul and Washington, following international criticism of Pyongyang’s third nuclear test in February of last year. The North has since gradually dialed down its threats and sought improved ties with South Korea in what foreign analysts say is an attempt to lure international investment and aid. There has been no major breakthrough in the North’s reported push to win outside aid, however, with Washington and Seoul calling on the North to first take disarmament steps to prove its sincerity about improving ties, analysts say.

The North Korean live-fire drills and the country’s hints at a nuclear test are meant to express anger and frustration over what the North sees as little improvement in progress in its ties with South Korea and the U.S., said Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea’s Kyungnam University. Lim said the North might conduct a fourth nuclear test and launch other provocations to try to wrest the outside concessions it wants.

The Korean Peninsula remains in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea to deter potential aggression from North Korea.

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/skorea-fires-shells-nkorean-waters-drills-042645075.html

Search dogs take break from mudslide recovery

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel News

DARRINGTON, Wash. (AP) — Families coping with the loss of friends and neighbors sought comfort Sunday in church services, while crews searched for more victims of the mudslide that buried the mountainside community of Oso more than a week ago.

Many of the dogs that have been essential in the search will take a two-day break, rescue crews said. Days of working in the cold and rain have taken their toll on the animals, and officials say the dogs can lose their sensing ability if overworked.

“The conditions on the slide field are difficult, so this is just a time to take care of the dogs,” said Kris Rietmann, a spokeswoman for the team working on the eastern portion of the slide, which hit March 22 about 55 miles northeast of Seattle and is one of the deadliest in U.S. history.

Dogs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that arrived more recently will continue working, said Heidi Amrine, another spokeswoman for the operation.

Late Saturday, authorities revised the number of people believed to be missing from 90 to 30, while the official death toll increased by one, to 18, said Jason Biermann, program manager at the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management.

Officials have said they had expected the number of missing to change as they worked to find people safe and cross-referenced a list that likely included partial information and duplicate reports.

Work Pauses at Mudslide Site to Honor Victims

Authorities have said they recovered more than two dozen bodies, but they won’t be added to the official tally until a formal identification is made. Underscoring the difficulty of that task, Biermann said crews are not always discovering complete remains.

Crews have completed a makeshift road that will link one side of the debris field to the other, significantly aiding the recovery operation.

They have also been working to clear mud and debris from the highway, leaving piles of gooey muck, splintered wood and housing insulation on the sides of the road.

Searchers have had to contend with treacherous conditions, including septic tanks, gasoline and propane containers. When rescuers and dogs leave the site, they are hosed off by hazardous materials crews.

The slide dammed up the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, causing water to pool up on the east side. The river cut a new channel through the mud, but the rain has raised the water level nearly a foot, Rietmann said.

More Bodies Recovered From Wash Mudslide

In at least one place, the water level got so high that it covered areas that have already been searched, said Tim Pierce, leader of Washington Task Force 1, a search-and-rescue team.

“At this point, there’s no point in searching (that area) again until the water drops back down,” he said.

Rescuers should get some relief soon. Conditions were improving Sunday, and mainly dry weather is forecast Monday through Wednesday in western Washington.

The size of the debris field is also smaller than initially thought, officials said Sunday. After review and analysis, geologists have determined it is about 300 acres — just under half the size of an earlier projection of one square mile.

Away from the whirring chain saws and roaring bulldozers, many residents of nearby Darrington sought comfort in church services before another week of recovery efforts.

Mudslide Survivor Tells of Wave Hitting nbsp;hellip;

“I can only compare it to a hot, hearty meal after a very cold day,” said Slava Botamanenko, who works at the hospital in Arlington. He said he spent two nights there to be sure he was available for work after the mudslide blocked a road.

All week, a steady stream of people has stopped in to pray at the Glad Tidings Assembly of God on the edge of town, said Lee Hagen, the senior pastor.

“At a time like this, everybody knows they’ve got to have God’s help,” he said.

Steve Huot, lead chaplain for the Arlington Fire Department, said he is seeing people in various states. Some are in shock, while others have begun to grasp the reality of the disaster. Many are exhausted.

“It’s more about listening right now. You need to encourage them and maybe change their focus to staying busy for the group, for the team,” he said. “You might need to drive them into something productive and make sure that they feel a sense of accomplishment and contribution.”

___

Baumann reported from Seattle.

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/search-dogs-break-mudslide-recovery-194721910.html

Thousands in Taiwan protest China trade deal

March 31, 2014 by  
Filed under Travel News

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the streets around Taiwan’s Parliament on Sunday to voice their opposition to a trade pact with China, part of a nearly 2-week-old protest that is challenging the president’s policy of moving the democratic island economically closer to China.

Lin Fei-fan, a protest organizer, estimated that 500,000 people had turned out in the biggest demonstration since the movement started. An Associated Press estimate put the number at more than 200,000, and a police estimate at more than 100,000.

Crowds dressed in black sat on one blocked boulevard, many carrying plastic or real sunflowers, the symbol of the protest movement, and wearing yellow ribbons that read “Fight for democracy, retract the service trade pact.”

Several hundred mainly student protesters have been occupying Taiwan’s legislature since March 18, supported by thousands outside the building.

They are protesting President Ma Ying-jeou’s intention to enact a trade deal that would allow Taiwanese and Chinese service sector companies in businesses ranging from banking to beauty parlors to open up branches or shops in the other’s territory.

The action was sparked by the decision by a lawmaker from Ma’s ruling Nationalist Party to renege on a promised clause-by-clause review of the trade deal, which was signed by both sides last year but is awaiting ratification by Taiwan’s Parliament.

Taiwan protests

On Saturday, Ma gave into students’ demands to increase scrutiny of future pacts signed with China, but refused to withdraw the pact in question, saying it would deeply harm Taiwan’s interests.

“I’m not against free trade, but the government should come up with policies to protect local industries before they open the door,” said a protester, Philip Lihan, 30, a graphic designer in Taipei originally from Chiayi in southern Taiwan.

“I’ve been sitting-in near the legislature every day after work until midnight,” said Lihan, who added that he had been working with other artists to create murals in support of the protest.

Flower shop worker Li Li-ming took a four-hour bus ride from her home in Tainan city in southern Taiwan to the capital Sunday morning with her children, aged 7 and 9, to take part in the protest.

“This is the first time that I have participated in such a big demonstration and I am here because this is a demonstration led by neither party, but students,” said Li, 38. “I just came back from Hong Kong. Everything is getting so expensive there. I’m afraid Taiwan will become like Hong Kong.”

Opponents of the pact say it would cost Taiwan tens of thousands of jobs because small businesses on the island will be unable to compete with cash-rich, mostly state-run Chinese companies intent on investing in Taiwan. They also say it would give a big boost to China’s efforts to bring the island, which split from the mainland 65 years ago, under its control.

The protest is the most serious challenge to Ma’s signature policy of moving Taiwan ever closer to China by tying their economies together. Since he took office in May 2008, he has superintended a drastic upsurge in the number of cross-strait flights, and pushed through more than a dozen commercial agreements with China, including a partial free trade deal that slashed tariffs on scores of items in 2010.

China’s chief negotiator with Taiwan, Chen Deming, told a forum in Guangzhou on Sunday that he would be “deeply regretful” if the trade pact failed, and that it could boost Taiwan’s economy, according to China’s official Xinhua News Agency.

___

Associated Press writer Louise Watt in Beijing contributed to this report.

Article source: http://news.yahoo.com/thousands-taiwan-protest-china-trade-deal-124304655.html

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