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  1. #9181

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Heaven knows we need some.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  2. #9182

    Re: World News Random, Random

    There are plenty of good news if you look for them. Something close to many of you - lower Potomac river is now clean enough to host more than a thousand bottlenose dolphins. They had been gone for almost a century.

    Read elsewhere that from 2025 water quality will likely be good enough to swim in Washington DC. In Basel you already can safely swim in the Rhine.
    Roger forever

  3. #9183

    Re: World News Random, Random

    This story is finally being reported here in the States.

    Hundreds of billions of locusts — fueled by conflict and climate change — are swarming East Africa

    By Max Bearak
    FEBRUARY 12, 2020

    BORENA ZONE, Ethi*o*pia — From a distance, it looks like billowing smoke. But as it nears, the swarm of locusts comes into focus: billions upon billions of them, thick as a blizzard, uncountable as raindrops, a jaw-dropping procession of the ravenous creatures of biblical infamy, flailing and flapping in the air, blocking out the sun like a bad omen.

    The pests, known and feared by the world’s most ancient civilizations, are invading southern Ethi*o*pia and neighboring parts of Kenya in numbers not seen in generations.

    They breed freely in areas outside government control in conflict-ravaged Yemen and Somalia, and they reach their voracious adolescence while migrating west toward the feeding grounds of lusher inland Africa. Unseasonable rain, linked to a climate-change-driven event in the Indian Ocean, has turned the region into a buffet for locusts.

    A major humanitarian crisis looms. Locusts can decimate cropland, crippling farms and leaving markets empty and livestock with nothing to eat. Around 19 million people already face high levels of food insecurity in East Africa.

    “Our only option is to try to kill them all,” said Bayeh Mulatu, a pest control expert at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. A similar surge of locusts in northern Ethi*o*pia in 1954 devoured nearly 100 percent of green-leaf plant cover and, along with a drought, caused a year-long famine, Bayeh said.

    Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as of Feb 10


    Despite technological improvements, the prospects of control remain slim. Hundreds of swarms have hatched in the sandy soil of Yemen and Somalia’s coastal plains, where little to nothing is being done to control them. Ethi*o*pia has only three operational planes to spray insecticides, and Kenya has five. Meanwhile, the biggest of the swarms are getting closer every day to Ethiopia’s breadbasket in the Great Rift Valley, where smaller swarms are already stripping some farms.

    “There is no such thing as containment of locusts,” Bayeh said. “There is only control. Only killing.”

    The United Nations says $76 million is needed immediately to increase spraying capacity.

    The funding is “required by, actually, now,” said FAO chief Qu Dongyu at a recent news briefing. “If after April the money has come, it’s somehow useless.”

    Ethi*o*pia is likely to be hit the hardest by the infestation, which began last June but is only now reaching epic proportions. While giant swarms have been reported in Kenya, and smaller ones in Djibouti, Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia, Ethi*o*pia is the only country among them where adolescent or “gregarious” swarms are expected to descend en masse on cropland. The locusts moved into Uganda this week and may move into South Sudan, the United Nations warned.

    “Our resources are not enough,” said Zebdewos Salato, director of plant protection at Ethiopia’s Agriculture Ministry. “Soon we may see the locusts passing over the whole country, into the major crop-growing regions.”

    Years of drought have led to widespread dependence on food aid in the region, and sudden rains have sparked deadly flash floods. In a cruel twist, an unusual, prolonged rainy season has alleviated some of the pressure on food supplies but also provided the ideal conditions for locust reproduction.

    Farmers in southern Ethi*o*pia were lucky that the biggest swarms didn’t show up here until January, after the harvest season. But now new seeds of corn and wheat are in the ground — as are hundreds of billions of locust eggs.

    The weather anomaly is caused by an El Niño-like event in the Indian Ocean that once occurred about every 10 years but that studies show has become more frequent, as well as more intense. The events lead to heavy rainfall in East Africa — which saw eight cyclones off its coast last year — and dry conditions in Australia, exacerbating bush fires there.

    Rainy conditions are expected until at least June, setting the stage for those swarms-in-waiting to devour the coming harvest.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  4. #9184

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Boris Johnson has canceled his planned trip to the White House after Trump slammed the phone down on him in a moment of 'apoplectic' fury
    Adam Bienkov

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has canceled a planned trip to meet with President Donald Trump next month after a furious row between the two men.

    Johnson had been due to visit Washington shortly after his election victory in December.

    The visit has been repeatedly delayed, however, amid a series of disagreements between the two leaders.

    Trump slammed the phone down on Johnson last month after the prime minister defied him on the issue of Huawei's involvement in the UK.

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has canceled a trip to the US planned for next month after a furious phone call from President Donald Trump in which Trump slammed down the phone on the prime minister.

    Johnson had been due to visit Washington last month but repeatedly delayed the trip after a series of rows with the president over Iran, Huawei, and a rejected request by the prime minister to extradite the wife of a US diplomat.

    The disagreements culminated in a phone call last month in which Trump hung up on Johnson, according to officials with knowledge of the conversation.

    Johnson has now canceled his trip altogether, and is not planning on visiting the country until the G7 summit in June.

    A Downing Street source confirmed that the trip had been cancelled due to fears of further clashes with the president.

    However, Downing Street insisted on Thursday that Johnson would concentrate instead on his domestic agenda over the coming months.

    "When the Eye of Sauron is off the Whitehall machine, things stop working," one source told The Sun newspaper.

    "That is why he has stripped down all his foreign travel this year to get his agenda done."

    The prime minister had been one of Trump's few close international allies, with the president labeling Johnson "fantastic," a "good man," and "Britain Trump."

    Relations broke down in recent weeks, however, following a series of high-profile threats from Trump and a series of pointed interventions against Trump by Johnson and senior members of his government.

    The call last month, which one source described to the Financial Times as "very difficult," came after Johnson defied Trump and allowed the Chinese telecom company Huawei the rights to develop the UK's 5G network.

    Johnson backed Huawei despite multiple threats by Trump and his allies that the US would withdraw security cooperation with the UK if the deal went ahead. The US fears that Huawei's technology could have backdoors for the Chinese government.

    Trump's threats reportedly "irritated" the UK government, with Johnson frustrated at the president's failure to suggest any alternatives.

    Following the call, US Vice President Mike Pence said the Trump administration had made its disappointment with the UK "very clear to them."
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  5. #9185

    Re: World News Random, Random

    China expels three Wall Street Journal reporters over opinion article written by academic

    Anna Fifield
    Feb. 19, 2020 at 10:45 a.m. EST

    BEIJING — China ordered the expulsion of three Wall Street Journal correspondents Wednesday in retaliation for a column headline that Beijing deemed racist, a dramatic escalation in the Communist Party's efforts to silence criticism abroad as well as at home.

    While the Foreign Ministry linked the expulsions to a Feb. 3 opinion piece by Walter Russell Mead that referred to China as the “sick man of Asia,” the move followed a decision by the United States a day earlier to designate five major Chinese media outlets as government entities.

    American officials had warned correspondents in China working for U.S. media outlets that they could be affected by the designation.

    China’s Foreign Ministry “reserves the right” to take further actions both against the Wall Street Journal and in response to the United States’ designation, spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in announcing the expulsions.

    The announcement represented a clear signal from China, whose government has tightened censorship and repression in recent years. In previous cases in which Beijing has evicted foreign journalists, it has usually allowed their existing press credentials to expire and then declined to renew them, a practice tantamount to expulsion but without the provocation.

    The authorities also appeared to be attempting to stoke nationalist outrage in China at a time of extreme duress for the ruling Communist Party. The party has faced widespread criticism over its response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, which began in the city of Wuhan in December but did not elicit formal acknowledgment or emergency-response measures from the ruling party until the third week of January.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  6. #9186

    Re: World News Random, Random

    MI5 chiefs ‘do not trust’ Priti Patel with their secrets

    Patel: MI5 has no confidence in her abilities

    Tim Shipman, Gabriel Pogrund
    Sunday February 23 2020, 12.01am GMT, The Sunday Times

    The civil war in the Home Office erupted again last night with claims that intelligence chiefs at MI5 do “not trust” Priti Patel.

    Officers in the security service have reduced the volume of intelligence they show to the home secretary and regularly “roll their eyes” at her interventions in meetings, it was claimed.

    Sources said that Patel has not attended a weekly meeting with security officials from different Whitehall departments for several months, and that she was informed of some issues later in the decision-making process.

    However, a security source said today: “Reports suggesting that the home secretary and MI5 do not have a strong working relationship are simply untrue. The home secretary is briefed daily on intelligence matters in exactly the same way as any previous post holder. No information is being withheld. Any report suggesting otherwise is simply wrong and does not serve the public interest.”

    In a further escalation of hostilities it can be revealed today that Amber Rudd, the former home secretary, has accused the department’s senior mandarin of being “absent” during the Windrush immigration scandal. Rudd has filed a formal complaint about Sir Philip Rutnam, the permanent secretary, to the official inquiry into the affair, which caused her to resign in 2018. He now faces criticism in the report by Wendy Williams, HM Inspector of Constabulary, which is to be published shortly.

    A leaked transcript of Rudd’s words, which are quoted in the report, shows that she blamed Rutnam for the loss of her job: “I find his absence inappropriate. He was absent through my final few weeks and days. I think a good permanent secretary would lean in to a real difficulty like this rather than sit back from it.”

    When asked whether she felt she was supported by Rutnam during her time in the job, she replied: “No, not really. The first permanent secretary I had was [now Sir] Mark Sedwill, who I did feel properly supported me. He is a leader of people. I got on very well with Philip Rutnam, but I felt his absence very much over this period and over this area.”

    Allies of Patel believe she has fallen victim to a briefing operation against her after she tried to oust Rutnam from the job, but officials say her own approach has compromised relations with MI5. “The spooks find her extremely difficult to deal with,” said one. “She doesn’t grasp the subtleties of intelligence. It’s not black and white. They don’t have confidence in her abilities.”

    The twin salvos come as senior figures in government began to discuss whether a deal should be struck by Boris Johnson and Sedwill, now cabinet secretary, to remove both Patel and Rutnam.

    A second source said that Patel has for several months failed to attend a weekly cross-Whitehall meeting in which security officials from different departments compare notes on key issues.

    And he claimed that she now receives less intelligence than her predecessors. “They have to decide how much to share, and they share less. She is also informed about things later in the decision-making process than before. Some things the security services do have legal implications, but she tends not to want to hear that.”

    Friends of Patel rejected the claim that she did not respect the law, saying Rutnam had a “hilariously transparent” track record of citing legal issues as an excuse to quash ideas he dislikes. According to one civil servant, Rutnam says there is a 70% chance that the government will lose in court over a given idea. “It became a running joke: 70%, 70%. Oh, let me guess, there’s a 70% chance we will lose,” they said. “It’s an easy thing to use as threat.”

    Patel’s team spoke to Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s chief aide, in December to raise their concerns about Rutnam. They accused him of spying on ministers, asking their private offices where they were spending their spare time before making remarks that showed he knew where they had been for dinner.

    One person present said Cummings acknowledged Rutnam’s behaviour was not conducive to the delivery of the Tory manifesto — and implied — although stopped short of explicitly saying — that he would be gone in due course.

    The Home Office said of the claims about Putnam’s personal conduct: “This is entirely false and without foundation.”
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  7. #9187

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Patel’s ‘bullying’ stems from her inadequacy
    Claims that the home secretary mistreats staff say more about the ethics of this government than they do about her
    Matthew Parris
    Friday February 21 2020, 5.00pm GMT, The Times

    ‘Patel has bullied civil servants for years, former colleagues say”. So reported this newspaper yesterday and the report was well-researched. Priti Patel’s record of abusive and undisciplined behaviour is as long as your arm, the people who ought to know this know it, and she should never have been allowed anywhere near a ministerial red box.

    Priti Patel, however, is a consequence and not a cause. Every Commons I can remember has had its small quotient of truncheon-waving rent-a-quote types, and it may be argued that their equivalents among the general population deserve parliamentary representation. Quarrelsome, unthinking and aggressive politicians will always be with us.

    But you don’t make them home secretary.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  8. #9188

    Re: World News Random, Random

    MI5 rejects claims that officials withhold intelligence from Priti Patel
    Informed security source says Sunday Times report quoting unnamed officials is untrue

    Andrew Sparrow Political correspondent
    Sun 23 Feb 2020 17.28 GMT

    MI5 has rejected claims that its officials are withholding information from Priti Patel because they do not trust her.

    An informed security source said the report about Patel’s relationship with the agency in the Sunday Times was “simply untrue” and that she was getting the same information from the agency as any other home secretary.

    The report was published after a series of stories – which have not been fully denied – claiming that Patel has had a series of difficult relationships with officials during her ministerial career, and that she is currently trying to oust the permanent secretary at the Home Office, Sir Philip Rutnam.

    The Sunday Times quoted unnamed officials claiming that MI5 found Patel “extremely difficult to deal with” and that she “doesn’t grasp the subtleties of intelligence”. One told the paper that she was now receiving less intelligence from MI5 than her predecessors as a consequence of her attitude.

    Patel’s allies believe that officials are briefing against her because they do not like being challenged.

    MI5 often refuses to respond to newspaper reports about the agency, but on Sunday a security source with knowledge of the situation claimed that it was wrong to say that information was being withheld from the home secretary.

    “Reports suggesting that the home secretary and MI5 do not have a strong working relationship are simply untrue,” the source said. “The home secretary is briefed daily on intelligence matters in exactly the same way as any previous post holder. No information is being withheld. Any report suggesting otherwise is simply wrong and does not serve the public interest.”

    Patel was first appointed to the cabinet in 2016 as international development secretary, when Theresa May was prime minister. She was forced to resign the following year after it emerged that she had failed to tell No 10 about a series of meetings she had had with Israeli ministers while she was visiting the country for what was supposed to be a holiday.

    Boris Johnson took Westminster by surprise when he promoted her from the backbenches to become home secretary last summer but, because of her reputation as a hardliner on Brexit and on law and order, the appointment was popular with the Conservative party.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

  9. #9189

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Last Week Tonight did a piece on India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi last night. Very interesting, eye opening. Concerning.

  10. #9190

    Re: World News Random, Random

    Just another religious nationalist. The fact that he is Hindi is simply anecdotal.
    Let's not forget that Aung San Suu Kyi also fell from her moral pedestal when it came to the treatment of Muslims in her country. So, so much for Hindu and Buddhist piety.
    Missing winter...

  11. #9191

    Re: World News Random, Random

    The bread analogy.

    And I really had no idea about Modi.
    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life.”

    ― Frank Zappa

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