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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Venezuela Shades Mao Gov Worker Sent work in fields “Forced Labor” Decree

CARACAS -- A decree by the embattled Nicolas Maduro administration ordering civil servants and private sector workers alike to work in the fields for two to four months at a time is raising eyebrows in Caracas. And that is saying a lot these days.

UAE Barakah nuclear power plant is 65% complete - Khaleej Times

The construction of the UAE nuclear power plant at Barakah is progressing well, with unit no one being more than 88 per cent complete.

Unit two is 72 per cent complete, unit three is 50 per cent complete and unit four is 31 per cent complete. Overall, construction of units one to four is now more than 65 per cent complete.

All four units will deliver safe, clean, reliable and efficient nuclear energy to the UAE grid, pending regulatory reviews and licensing.

Will Israel create safe zone in southern Syria?

It began in May with the announcement of an Israeli liaison unit to coordinate with Syrian residents living in opposition-held territory in southern Syria, followed by the distribution of Israeli aid during Ramadan across 35 villages in the same area. Then on July 11, the Israeli army deployed several bulldozers and a tank 300 meters (328 yards) inside Syrian territory in Quneitra and began digging, threatening to shoot anyone who approached them.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/07/southern-syria-opposition-israel-safe-zone.html#ixzz4Fzp6JkHk

Dubai mass transit records 2m rise in 6 months - Khaleej Times

The report reflects an increased ridership with over 273million using mass transit during the first half of the year compared to last year's 271million in the same period.
While Water Taxis recorded 83.77 per cent rise in use, Dubai Taxis are no less wanted with 81 per cent relying on it during the first six months of the year.

New Dh33.9m power station opens in UAQ - Khaleej Times

The Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa), all set to meet the pressing demand for electricity in the northern emirates, has opened a new power station in Umm Al Quwain.
The substation, built at the Hamra area has a capacity of 75MVA and contains three transmitters, feeders and switches with 33/11 KV, according to Adnan Naseeb Salem, Executive Director for Joint Services Department, Fewa.

UAE Masdar wind farm UK powers one in 50 UK homes - Khaleej Times

The London Array, the world's largest offshore wind farm, marked three years of operations on Sunday. 

The 630-megawatt wind power project, the largest international investment of Abu Dhabi's Masdar, delivers clean and reliable energy to more than half a million homes throughout the United Kingdom.

Since its launch, London Array has produced 6,900,000 megawatt hours, MWh, of clean, renewable electricity, offsetting some 2,950,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the annual emissions of around 900,000 cars on UK roads.

UAE Bomb hoax in Sharjah building - Khaleej Times

Panic gripped the residents of Al Qasimi following a bomb scare at the Mashreq building in King Abdul Aziz Road (Immigration street) late evening on Thursday.
The police evacuated the area around the Imran tower office building where Mashreq bank is located.
Police told Khaleej Times that an anonymous person called the emergency number at 10:00 pm, warning that a bomb case had been placed at the entrance of the building.

Ethiopian Mega Dam Hurts Egypt

Ethiopian mega-dam project leaves Egypt high and dry

Middle East Eye

It's like negotiating the rules of engagement long after the contest has been held and the winner declared. Egypt is deeply worried about the impact on its water supply of a dam being built by Ethiopia far to the south, on the Blue Nile. At a meeting with his Ethiopian and Sudanese counterparts last year, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi reiterated his country's concerns while, at the same time, signing what was termed a "declaration of principles" about how the multi-billion dollar scheme – one of the world's biggest infrastructure projects - should be implemented.

Whatever principles have been agreed on – and these seem rather vague – the project is going ahead. Work on what's grandly named the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, is now more than 70 percent complete. The dam, which will eventually produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity according to its backers, is scheduled to start operations next year. Ethiopia sees the dam as vital to lifting a large segment of its more than 80 million people out of poverty. It also has ambitions to turn itself into "The powerhouse of Africa" by selling energy produced by the project.

Successive Egyptian administrations seem to have been caught by surprise by Ethiopia's determination to implement the GERD. The fact that the project is progressing – and has won the support of many of Egypt's neighbours to the south - is also seen as an indication of Cairo's waning influence in Africa. Any development which might interfere with the flow of the Nile waters is of great concern to Egypt. Most of its more than 80 million people live within a few kilometres of the river. The river supplies the bulk of the country's drinking water and irrigates the Nile Delta, one of the most fertile regions on the planet. Any drop in the level of the Nile as a result of developments upstream could seriously affect water supplies, already under severe pressure.

The Nile also generates about half of Egypt's electricity through the operation of the Aswan High Dam, built in the 1960s with the help of the Soviet Union. There are worries that water levels in Lake Nasser - the more-than 5,000 square-kilometres man-made lake which feeds into the Aswan High Dam – could be lowered by the operation of the Ethiopian dam. This would result in less hydroelectric power being produced at Aswan. Many areas of Egypt are experiencing significant power shortages. "The Renaissance Dam project represents a source of development for the millions of Ethiopia's citizens through producing green and sustainable energy," said Sisi last March.

"But for their brothers living on the banks of the Nile in Egypt, and who approximately equal them in numbers, it represents a source of concern and worry. This is because the Nile is their only source of water, in fact their source of life." Another Egyptian concern is that Ethiopia has not, from Cairo's point of view, been open about how the GERD will be operated - how much water might be extracted from the waters of the Blue Nile – one of the Nile's main tributaries – and how much and by what means electric power from the dam will be transmitted to neighbouring countries.

Relations between Cairo and Addis Adaba over the GERD project sunk to a low in mid-2013 when a group of Egyptian politicians was heard on TV advocating military action over the Ethiopian dam. Mohamed Morsi, then Egypt's president, struggled to calm the atmosphere by saying he did not want war – but added that "Egypt's water security cannot be violated at all". Meanwhile, Ethiopia accused Egypt of trying to sabotage the GERD by seeking to dissuade international financial institutions from lending to the project.

In recent years, relations have improved though Ethiopia has repeatedly said there can be no question of halting or revising its mega dam project. A team of French consultants has been appointed to look into some of the issues associated with the dam's construction, but its final report is unlikely to be published until well after the scheme begins operating. The management of the Nile, the world's longest river, flowing through 10 countries from its sources in the highlands of Ethiopia and central Africa, is a complex issue.

Under treaties dating back to the days of the old British administration in the region, only Sudan and Egypt have the right to the use of Nile waters, with Egypt receiving the major share. Ethiopia – with its fast growing economy increasingly seen as a rival to Egyptian influence in the area – does not recognise these old agreements and has gained support for a new framework governing the Nile. It also insists it can do as it pleases with the waters of the Blue Nile, which for the most part flow through its territory.

There are many in Egypt who are sceptical about Ethiopian claims that the GERD – being built by the Italian Salini impregilo company - will "not cause any harm to downstream countries". They point out that Egypt's own experience with the Aswan High Dam has not been encouraging. When it was constructed, Aswan was considered to be a miracle of modern engineering. While the dam has generated power and prevented large scale flooding in many areas, it has in many ways created more problems than it has solved.

As a mechanism for managing the river, it is grossly inefficient. About 15 percent of the water which gathers in Lake Nasser is lost to evaporation. Prior to the dam being built, silt from the Nile fertilised the delta. Now farmers use fertilisers on their crops and there are major chemical pollution problems. Due to water being held back by the Aswan, fresh water never reaches some coastal regions and the absence of silt means the whole region is sinking. The Mediterranean is encroaching in many areas: increased salt levels on land are a big problem.

Meanwhile, further south in Ethiopia, 9,000 workers are labouring round the clock in order to finish the GERD project on schedule. Despite all its concerns, Egypt is powerless to stop the construction of what will be Africa's biggest dam.

Monsoon deluge in Indian cities causes traffic chaos, sewage swirls | Reuters

Persistent heavy rains have caused widespread disruption in India's major cities and severe floods in the rugged northeast have killed at least 12 people, the federal government said on Friday.

About 50,000 people from southern and eastern India had to be evacuated as storms pushed water levels to dangerous levels, damaging crops and causing more than 3,000 houses to collapse.

India's new reforestation law ignores indigenous people, analysts say | Reuters

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A new Indian law to boost reforestation across the country ignores the importance of indigenous people in conserving land and tramples on their rights, analysts and activists said.

India's upper house of parliament passed a bill late on Thursday that would give state governments more than 60 billion rupees ($895 million) a year to conserve and protect forests and wildlife.

Heavy Rains 31 killed India's NE Bangladesh Reuters

At least 17 people have been killed by heavy rains and flooding in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, while at least 14 people have died in Bangladesh, with millions of people also displaced, officials said on Saturday.

Persistent heavy rains this week have caused widespread disruption across South Asia, with at least 68 people killed in Nepal by flash floods and landslides.

Seaweed stifles Sierra Leone's fishing industry - News from Al Jazeera

Scientists are stuggling to find the reason behind massive deposits of seaweed along Sierra Leone's beaches, seriously affecting the country's fishing and tourism industries. 
The seaweed, which is not toxic but does carry a foul smell, can get tangled up in nets, making it harder for fishermen to get their daily catch and earn a living.
They hope to get some kind of assistance from the government.
"When they come here to see they'll know exactly what's happening with their people ... what's affecting the people," said fisherman Bassie Gibrilla. 

Islamic State attacks two energy plants in north Iraq, kills five | Reuters

Islamic State militants stormed two energy facilities in northern Iraq on Sunday, killing at least five workers and shutting down a major oil pumping station, security and oil sources said.

The first attack, on the AB2 gas compressor station, about 15 km (10 miles) northwest of Kirkuk, started around 0300 (0000 GMT) when four gunmen with hand grenades broke through an external door in an attack that left two guards in critical condition.

They then shot dead four employees in a control room inside and planted explosives charges, around five of which went off, the sources said.

Iran Suffers Heatwaves, Forest Fires and Sandstorms

Iran is facing a series of environmental disasters this summer, including forest fires, record heat indexes in some provinces and sandstorms threatening the capital, Tehran.
Namak (Persian Salt) Lake in Qom province, which once measured 200,000 hectares, has completely dried up because of climate change, the ill-considered construction of tens of dams and depleted underground water resources.

Lake Tahoe's No Good, Very Bad Year - Forbes

The crown jewel of the Sierras and largest alpine lake in North America had a rough year in 2015, according to the new "State of the Lake" report from the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, which finds the lake's temperature is rising at its fastest rate ever. 

Flash flooding causes major damage in Baltimore suburb | Fox News

Storms brought torrential rain to Howard County, Md. on Saturday night, causing severe flooding. Historic Ellicott City appears to have been hit hardest.

Chinese province buys up mouldy wheat

Effort to ease growers' burden following summer floods will degrade strategic stockpile

Read the full article at: http://on.ft.com/2apsocF

Sent from my iPad

UK Delay Nuclear Hinkley Point plant catches China by surprise

Theresa May's shift in policy throws Britain's warming relations with Beijing into doubt

Read the full article at: http://on.ft.com/2afEEKa

Sent from my iPad

Venezuela’s army takes over food distribution

Andres Schipani in Caracas
The military is in charge of food production, distribution, and ports

Read the full article at: http://on.ft.com/2agWFH9

Sent from my iPad

Africans Nutrition and Loss of Height

Steve Johnson
Average height falls for 30 years amid poor nutrition, rising population and structural change

Read the full article at: http://on.ft.com/2adHn63

Sent from my iPad

Xi’s China — Smothering dissent

Critics fear the erosion of civic freedoms is denying space for grievances to be aired

Read the full article at: http://on.ft.com/2amg3WL

Sent from my iPad

7 Sudanese migrants arrested trying to cross border to Israel through Sinai

CAIRO (Ma'an) --  Egyptian authorities on Saturday arrested seven African migrants trying to cross the borders into Israel without proper documentation from the central Sinai Peninsula, according to Egyptians security sources.

Sources told Ma'an that seven people were stopped trying to pass through the barbed-wired border fence.

The suspects were identified as seven men from Sudan, and were taken for questioning where they reportedly admitted they were trying to cross into Israel without proper documents. 

Agrimoney.com | South America woes to boost US corn, soy exports - Bunge

Bunge reassured over US corn and soybean complex exports, citing depressed competition from South American rivals, foreseeing a "quite excellent" period for North American oilseed crushing margins.

Soren Schroder, the chief executive of Bunge, said that "for the next six months at least, the US is the game in town" on corn exports, albeit with competition from Ukraine, the top shipper of the grain outside the Americas.

"Whatever corn is exported, it is really a US or Ukrainian affair," he said, terming South America as "sold out".

South China Sea: Vietnam airport screens hacked - BBC News

Flight display screens at Vietnam's two largest airports were hacked to show messages criticising Vietnam's claims of territory in the South China Sea.
China's territorial claims, which overlap with Vietnam's, were recently rejected by an international tribunal.
Screens and sound systems at Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City airports broadcast anti-Vietnamese and Philippines slogans on Friday.

Friday, July 29, 2016

OK 911 Services Disrupted

July 27, Associated Press – (Oklahoma) AT&T: Oklahoma’s 911 emergency telephone service restored. AT&T Inc., reported that emergency 9-1-1 service was restored after call routing was impacted for approximately 2 hours July 27 in portions of Oklahoma. The company is investigating the source of the outage, which involved a power issue at a facility in the Oklahoma City area.
Source: http://newsok.com/article/5511348 

Paypal Abused by Trojan to Take Money

  1. July 27, SecurityWeek – (International) PayPal abused in banking trojan distribution campaign. Proofpoint security researchers discovered malicious actors were distributing the Chthonic banking trojan, a variant of the Zeus malware, via legitimate- looking PayPal emails to request money from users by sending money request messages claiming an illicit $100 transfer was made to the victim’s account which could be returned by clicking the malicious Goo.gl link that redirects the user to “katyaflash[.]com/pp.php,” where the malware is downloaded onto the device in the form of an obfuscated JavaScript file that connects to the command and control (C&C) server. Researchers discovered the malware was also downloading a previously undocumented second-stage payload dubbed AZORult.
    Source: http://www.securityweek.com/paypal-abused-banking-trojan-distribution- campaign 

E Coli Ranch Foods Direct Beef Products

July 27, U.S. Department of Agriculture – (Colorado) Good Food Concepts, LLC D.B.A. Ranch Foods Direct recalls non-intact beef products due to possible E.coli O157:H7 contamination. Good Food Concepts, LLC, doing business as Ranch Foods Direct, issued a recall July 26 for approximately 2,606 pounds of its non-intact beef products sold in 25 variations due to potential E.coli O157:H7 contamination after Federal health officials discovered a potential link between the beef products and an E.coli O157:H7 illness outbreak in Colorado. The products were distributed to wholesale and retail locations in Colorado. 

The Heat Dome: Why It’s Been So Hot on the East Coast - Curbed NY

Hot weather in July is common. But this week's record temperatures are thanks to something called a "heat dome." In the summer months, the jet stream moves north over the U.S.-Canada border and prevents cooler air from pushing southward. Often a "dome" of high pressure traps hot air over much of the country, resulting in temperatures at least 5-10 degrees above average. As the hot air sinks under the dome, it gets warmer and warmer and more difficult to dislodge, often preventing thunderstorms from producing rainfall. Whenever the U.S. experiences a summer heat wave (three or more days of at least 90-degree weather) across multiple regions, heat domes are usually the culprit.

Southern Africa Drought Appeal Gets $500 Million in Donor Funds - Bloomberg

The U.S. promised $300 million, the U.K. 72 million pounds ($94 million) and the European Union 60 million euros ($66 million), representatives said Tuesday at the launch of the appeal in Botswana's capital, Gaborone. More than $40 million has been released from the United Nations' emergency fund to help with responses to the crisis caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

How Irrigation in Asia Affects Rainfall in Africa - Eos

Agricultural irrigation is so widespread that it accounts for about 4% of the total evapotranspiration of water from Earth's surface. Scientists have known for some time that water vapor from irrigation affects regional and global climates. Now, for the first time, researchers have shown that irrigation in one region can directly affect the climate of another region thousands of kilometers away.

Amid epic drought, villagers bitter over Zimbabwean ethanol plant

Until recently, Chisumbanje had thriving cotton and maize farms that sustained many households. During harvesting time each year trucks carrying bales of cotton shuttled between Chisumbanje and ginneries in the city of Mutare 230 kilometers to the north. But the cotton trucks have been replaced by trucks ferrying sugarcane and ethanol, and some of the cotton fields have been turned into sugarcane plantations to feed a giant ethanol plant that became operational in 2011.

Zim Mugabe Begs Revolt Arrests Vet Leader

Police have arrested a senior official from Zimbabwe's war veterans' association after it accused President Robert Mugabe of "dictatorial" behaviour in a shock rupture with the 92-year-old leader, lawyers said Thursday.
Veterans of Zimbabwe's 1970s independence war, who had previously been loyal Mugabe supporters, last week issued a statement bitterly denouncing the president, who faces growing signs of opposition.
Douglas Mahiya, spokesman for the War Veterans' Association, was arrested late Wednesday in Harare, according to the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) group.

International Expert Forum on Climate Change and Conflict

The International Expert Forum (IEF) is a series of seminars meant to facilitate dialogue between experts and policymakers on peace and security. Meeting in Stockholm this past May, the forum explored the connections between environmental issues, peacebuilding, and conflict while considering how environmental governance can aid in peacebuilding. The summary brief produced after the forum provides a useful snapshot of a fast-changing field of study.

Extreme Weather effects U.S. cereal production - Pasadena Dailynology News

An analysis of national production of 16 different cereal crops in 177 countries, and a comparison with the effects of about 2,800 weather disasters between 1964 and 2007, has for the first time provided a detailed snapshot of how extreme weather has affected overall cereal production globally, scientists said.
The study found that drought and heatwaves reduced cereal harvests by between 9 per cent and 10 per cent on average in the affected countries. However, the technically advanced arable farms of North America, Europe and Australia were even more strongly affected than the developing world, with average production cuts of about 20 per cent.

First global analysis of the societal impacts of glacier floods – GlacierHub

Two British researchers recently published the first global inventory and damage assessment of the societal consequences incurred by glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). They revealed that glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) have been declining in frequency since the mid-1990s, with the majority released by ice dam failures.

Swiss Re profit hit by disasters, lower returns - MarketWatch

Swiss Re AG SREN one of the two biggest reinsurers worldwide, on Friday reported a 22% decline in net profit for the second quarter, reflecting higher costs for earthquakes, wild fires, floods and other major losses between April and June, and a lower return on investments.
"It is the first time in several years that we have seen multiple larger losses from a number of natural catastrophes in one quarter," said Chief Executive Christian Mumenthaler who took the helm on July 1, after previously heading the reinsurance business.

Early UK grain harvest results fan yield, quality worries

"The combination of heavy rains prior to harvest, and thick lush crops, has led to crop lodging, with an estimated 8% of winter barley area in the south and east predicted to have lodged," Adas said.

Climate Change Fingerprints Are All Over California Wildfires - Scientific American

Reports this week from the front lines of the Sand Fire in Southern California painted the scene as apocalyptic. The drought-fueled blaze was explosive, fast-moving and devastating, burning through 38,000 acres in the Santa Clarita Valley and forcing the evacuation of more than 10,000 homes.

Drought Influencing L. America Migration

WESLACO – An analysis by Stratfor, a global intelligence and advisory firm, said drought could be a factor to why Central Americans are leaving and heading to the U.S.
People from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are making their way through the Rio Grande Valley. They said violence and a poor economy are making it hard to live by.
Lead Science and Technology Analyst at Stratfor, Rebecca Keller, said drought is affecting Central America too.
"This certainly could have an impact on the increase in migration," said Keller.

U.S. diplomatic strategy on South China Sea appears to founder | Reuters

In the lead-up to an international court ruling on China's claims in the South China Sea this month, United States officials talked about rallying a coalition to impose "terrible" costs to Beijing's international reputation if flouted the court's decision.

But just two weeks after the July 12 announcement by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague - which at least on paper, appeared to be a humiliating defeat for China - the U.S. strategy appears to be unraveling and the court's ruling is in danger of becoming irrelevant.

Tropical Storm Mirinae barrels across southwest China - News from Al Jazeera

Tropical Storm Mirinae has hit China's Hainan province with damaging winds and flooding rains. It is the third tropical storm to hit China this year and is set to become the first, so far, to hit Vietnam.
Mirinae is currently located 180km to the southeast of Hanoi out in the open waters of the Gulf of Tonking. It is moving westwards at around 25km per hour (kph), with sustained winds of 65kph and gusts approaching 80kph.

Refugees Displaced forgotten Central African Republic - Al Jazeera English

Ouham-Pendé, Central African Republic - As the humanitarian workers drive in to each village, people assemble around their vehicles or drag plastic chairs and benches to the shade to discuss the latest events: Which places have been attacked, burned or looted by armed groups, the number killed in this place or that, where people have fled to and how many have arrived from surrounding areas in search of safety.
The emergency response team of NGO Action Against Hunger is on a mission in the Central African Republic's northern Ouham-Pendé province - near the border with Cameroon - to reach out to those who have fled from a sectarian conflict that has left nearly one million people displaced, according to the UN. More than half have left the country, while the rest are living in camps inside Central African Republic (CAR) or sheltering with relatives and host families.

Floods ravage northeast India kill 58 Nepal | Reuters

Severe floods in India have affected more than 1.6 million people, buried hundreds of villages and almost submerged a national park, forcing wildlife to seek refuge on roads, authorities said on Wednesday.

With the weather office forecasting heavy rain for at least another 48 hours, the outlook is grim for the northeastern tea-growing state of Assam, which suffered its worst floods four years ago that killed 124 people and displaced six million.

In neighboring Nepal, flash floods and landslides swept through villages, killing at least 58 people over two days, home ministry official Yadav Koirala told Reuters on Wednesday.

United Nations News Centre - Root causes of Boko Haram threat in Lake Chad Basin must be tackled – UN political chief

27 July 2016 – To bring an end to the Boko Haram threat in the Lake Chad Basin region, affected countries must address the root causes that contributed to the emergence of the group, including the social, economic and political grievances of marginalized communities, the top United Nations political affairs official said today.
"A military approach, while essential, will not bring end to the Boko Haram threat," Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, told the Security Council in his briefing on peace and security in Africa.

UN urges cooperation W. Africa/Sahel tackle Boko Haram

28 July 2016 – While welcoming recent political developments recently observed in West Africa, the United Nations Security Council today stressed the need to increase military cooperation between the States in the region and Sahel to fight against the terrorist group Boko Haram.
In a Presidential Statement approved by the body, the Council's 15 members welcomed political developments including, the holding of elections "free and peaceful" in Niger, Benin and Cabo Verde. At the same time, they stressed the importance of ensuring the forthcoming elections in Ghana and Gambia are also "free, fair, peaceful, inclusive and credible."
The Council, however, expressed specific concern over recent political events in Guinea-Bissau and called on national actors "to respect the Constitution and the rule of law, while trying to find a political solution to the crisis."

United Nations News Centre - With planting season weeks away, millions in drought-hit southern Africa need support – UN

28 July 2016 – Some 23 million people in southern Africa are in need of urgent support to be able to produce enough food to feed themselves and avoid being dependent on humanitarian assistance until mid-2018, the United Nations agricultural agency has warned.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), if farmers are not able to plant by October, the result will be another reduced harvest early next year, severely affecting food and nutrition security as well as livelihoods in the region.
"The main way people are able to access food is through what they themselves produce. Assisting them to do this will provide lifesaving support in a region where at least 70 percent of people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods," David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa, said in a news release issued by the agency.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Climate Change Impacts in Kuwait | EcoMENA

Kuwait is facing a wide range of climate change challenges including sea level rise, water scarcity, desertification and loss of diversity. Kuwait is characterized by high temperature, high humidity and arid lands resulting in seriously degraded soil and land damage in addition to salt intrusion in the aquifers affecting the small scale agricultural lands thus enhancing the food security threat in the region. Since 1975, Kuwait has experienced 1.50C to 20C increase in temperature, which is significantly higher than the global average. In recent years, there has been a sharp change in rainfall pattern in Kuwait which may be attributed to climate change impacts. In addition, there has been marked increase in dust storms in last few decades which are noticeable signs of change in climatic conditions in Kuwait and neighbouring nations.

As Climate Change Hits Economies, Small Island States Turn to Selling Passports

Such economic citizenship programmes, which are being run by several small island states in the region, have raised concerns that terrorists, criminals and other shady characters could buy Caribbean passports to evade justice, slip into Europe and North America through the back door, or squirrel away billions in stolen public money in tropical tax paradises. Defenders of the programmes counter that in a fiercely competitive global economy, some small island nations have few other ways to raise government revenue, attract private sector investment, and cope with the consequences of climate change

Samarco chief faces criminal investigation over collapsed Brazil dam

Brazilian prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into alleged environmental crimes by Roberto Carvalho, the chief executive of Samarco, the firm held responsible for the country's largest-ever environmental disaster.
Samarco's Fundão iron tailings dam collapsed eight months ago, pouring approximately 50 million tons of mining waste into the Doce River and killing 19 people. Last month, Brazil's environmental agency, IBAMA, issued a technical report stating that the firm had fulfilled none of the 11 emergency recovery measures it had ordered. Four of the 11 measures were partially completed.

World's largest carbon producers face landmark human rights case | Environment | The Guardian

In a potential landmark legal case, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), a constitutional body with the power to investigate human rights violations, has sent 47 "carbon majors" including Shell, BP, Chevron, BHP Billiton and Anglo American, a 60-page document accusing them of breaching people's fundamental rights to "life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and to self determination".
The move is the first step in what is expected to be an official investigation of the companies by the CHR, and the first of its kind in the world to be launched by a government body.

USDA Analysis: U.S. Beekeepers Lose A Staggering 44% of Hives in 2015-16 - EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists

USDA Analysis: U.S. Beekeepers Lose A Staggering 44% of Hives in 2015-16

(EnviroNews World News) — Washington D.C. — A preliminary analysis released May 4, 2016, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), shows American beekeepers lost a stunning number of hives from April of 2015 through March of 2016.
The research was carried out by The Bee Informed Partnership in tandem with the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) and the USDA. The analysis represents the tenth such report, now issued on an annual basis.
The research also shows beekeepers suffered unsustainable losses over the summer season as well — 28%, making 2015-16 one of the most devastating years for American bees ever, with losses totaling 44% — a number that represents the second highest loss of American colonies since record keeping began — and a number that has environmentalist and scientists alike sounding even more bee-crisis alarms.
Up until six years ago, summer losses were not even tracked as bees historically suffer their highest rate of colony collapse in the winter. But the latest census demonstrates hives are being hit just as hard in the summer, when they are typically at their peak of health and vitality. And it's that fact, that has many researchers concerned.

USDA Honey Bee Stats Chart
Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland bee scientist and the leader of the survey, told The Guardian, "It's very troubling and what really concerns me [is] that we are losing colonies in summer too, when bees should be doing so well. This suggests there is something more going on – bees may be the canary in the coal mine of bigger environmental problems."
"One in three bites of food we eat is directly or indirectly pollinated by bees. If we want to produce apples, cucumbers, almonds, blueberries and lots of other types of food, we need a functioning pollination system. Bees, and the beekeeping industry, will suffer dramatically if we don't have that," vanEngelsdorp continued.
Unfortunately for the bees, and for humanity, researchers say the problem is a complex one. It's not just a single issue that can be pinned down and fixed — it's a smorgasbord of man-created bee bashing trouble that has the little critters reeling. As such, many scientists are now saying humanity has brewed the perfect storm for an ongoing, festering global bee crisis.
One of the main problems say researchers, is the evermore pervasive mono-crop culture perpetuated by the American agriculture industry. Once diverse meadows that beamed with sundry plethoras of bee-sustaining wild flowers, have been tilled under and replaced with fields harboring one or two food crops instead. Corn and soy are two of the biggest culprits in these regards, but surely not the only ones to be blamed.
But it's not only habitat loss and lack of biodiversity that are wiping out the tenacious pollinators, its myriad other threats as well. Amongst those perils are neonicotinoid-based pesticides and varroa mite infestations, while various issues driven by climate change are also taking their toll.
The Guardian reports, "There were an estimated five million bee colonies in the U.S. in 1940, but only half of them now remain" — and it's getting more and more expensive to keep the colonies still standing in good health — about $200 a year per hive. Part of the reason for the rising costs is the ever-increasing need for beekeepers to replace sick or dead queen bees by mail-ordering new ones.
"There is more and more effort being put into keeping colonies alive," vanEngelsdorp told The Guardian. "We are seeing greater cost pressures to pollinate crops. It costs around $200 a year to keep a colony alive and replace a queen. You're lucky if you make $200 a year through the honey produced, so a lot of operators aren't even breaking even. There are a lot who are really hurting."
In June of 2015, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum creating a multi-agency task force designated to engineer the Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. It is yet to be seen if the interagency coalition can devise a plan strong enough to help bee populations stabilize and recover.