Category Archives: Asia

India hits record high temp; 2016 to set record


From the India Meteorological Department, a map of weather conditions, with residents of the regions marked in red urged to take immediate action to protect themselves from the killer heat.

From the India Meteorological Department, a map of weather conditions, with residents of the regions marked in red urged to take immediate action to protect themselves from the killer heat.

India is suffering from a devastating heat wave that is destroying lives and crops and depleting the nation’s water supplies.

And today, in a year which has seen the hottest April in recorded history, India set a new temperature record.

From USA Today:

India sweltered to a scorching 123.8 degrees Thursday, setting a new all-time high that breaks a 60-year-old record, the India Meteorological Department said.

Officials recorded the blistering temperature in Phalodi in Rajasthan state in the northwestern part of the country. It bests a record most recently set in 1956 of 123.1 degrees in the city of Alwar, also in Rajasthan. That temperature was also recorded May 25, 1886 in Pachpadra in the same state.

The hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth is 134 degrees in Death Valley, Calif., on July 10, 1913.

More on the impacts of the devastating Indian heat wave from the Toronto Globe and Mail:

The prolonged heat wave this year has already killed hundreds and destroyed crops in more than 13 states, impacting hundreds of millions of Indians.

Hundreds of farmers are reported to have killed themselves across the country and tens of thousands of small farmers have been forced to abandon their farmland and live in squalor in urban slums in order to earn a living.

Rivers, lakes and dams have dried up in many parts of the western states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat, and overall officials say that groundwater reservoirs are severely depleted.

In some areas, the situation is so bad the government has sent in water by train for emergency relief.

And some more context, yet more frightening, from Bloomberg:

The number of climate records broken in the last few years is stunning. But here’s a new measure of misery: Not only did we just experience the hottest April in 137 years of record keeping, but it was the 12th consecutive month to set a new record.

It’s been relentless. May 2015 was the hottest May in records dating back to 1880. That was followed by the hottest June. Then came a record July, August, September, October, November, December, January, February, March—and, we learned from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday—the hottest April. In an age of rising temperatures, monthly heat records have become all too common. Still, a string of 12 of them is without precedent.

Perhaps even more remarkable is the magnitude of the new records. The extremes of recent months are such that we’re only four months into 2016 and already there’s a greater than 99 percent likelihood that this year will be the hottest on record, according to Gavin Schmidt, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

If NASA’s Schmidt is right, 2016 will be the third consecutive year to set a new global heat record—the first time that’s ever happened. So far, 15 of the hottest 16 years ever measured have come in the 21st century.

But relax, India. Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, the chair of the Senate Environment Committee who says the Bible proves human-caused climate change isn’t real, has some help to throw your way:

BLOG Inhofe

Massive plastic invasion threatens Alaska’s coast


Alaska has a huge problem, and it’s not of its own making.

The shoreline of America’s largest state is suffering from a foreign invasion.

And like the last time Alaska was invaded, the force is coming from Asia.

But unlike the last invaders, this time the enemy isn’t confined to a couple of Islands in the Aleutian chain. This time its attacking every mile of the state’s vast coastline.

And that’s because this time the invader isn’t human. It’s plastic.

It’s plastic.

And the problem is so serious that cleanup costs are estimated at $100 million, which is why Sen. Dan Sullivan has taken the problem to the U.S. Senate’s Fisheries, Water and Wildlife Subcommittee.

Chris Pallister, president of Gulf of Alaska Keeper, tesitified before the committee Tuesday, where his questioners included Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island.

From the Alaska Dispatch News:

Removing marine debris that is already washing ashore is only a “short-term fix” as the problem replicates “at the next high tide,” said Jim Kurth, deputy director at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The scale and complexity of this problem outstrips the ability of any agency or nation to address alone,” Kurth said.

The scale is massive. Cleaning just the most impacted shorelines in Alaska would cost at least $100 million, Pallister told the committee.

At one point, Whitehouse stopped Pallister’s testimony in disbelief, and asked him to repeat what he’d told them about an ongoing Alaska cleanup effort in an area that holds 30 tons of plastic debris per mile, along shorelines with virtually no vehicle access.

“It’s a dangerous place to work. It’s incredibly challenging,” Pallister said. And “there’s thousands of miles like that in Alaska.”

And as we have reported many times, plastics are proving to be a growing threat to marine life, the source of most of the animal protein people consume.

Not only does plastic poses a direct threat to fish and marine mammals who choke and suffer other injuries from the ubiquitous human waste product, but its breakdown products are increasingly suspected to be a threat to the plankton that forces the base of the oceanic food pyramid.

And that’s because plastics mimic the endocrine chemicals that regulate many of the life processes in the animal kingdom.

Iron-laden Asian dust depleting Pacific oxygen


Map showing how iron pollution moves across Pacific Ocean.

How iron pollution moves across Pacific Ocean.

While the role of agricultural fertilizer runoff and fossil fuels in ocean waters has been well documented, there’s another culprit at work in the Pacific Ocean.

It’s polluted iron-rich dust from Asia, according to new research from the  Georgia Institute of Technology:

A new modeling study conducted by researchers in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences shows that for decades, air pollution drifting from East Asia out over the world’s largest ocean has kicked off a chain reaction that contributed to oxygen levels falling in tropical waters thousands of miles away.

“There’s a growing awareness that oxygen levels in the ocean may be changing over time,” said Taka Ito, an associate professor at Georgia Tech. “One reason for that is the warming environment – warm water holds less gas. But in the tropical Pacific, the oxygen level has been falling at a much faster rate than the temperature change can explain.”

The study [$32 for full access — esnl], which was published May 16 in Nature Geoscience, was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, a Georgia Power Faculty Scholar Chair and a Cullen-Peck Faculty Fellowship.

In the report, the researchers describe how air pollution from industrial activities had raised levels of iron and nitrogen – key nutrients for marine life – in the ocean off the coast of East Asia. Ocean currents then carried the nutrients to tropical regions, where they were consumed by photosynthesizing phytoplankton.

But while the tropical phytoplankton may have released more oxygen into the atmosphere, their consumption of the excess nutrients had a negative effect on the dissolved oxygen levels deeper in the ocean.

“If you have more active photosynthesis at the surface, it produces more organic matter, and some of that sinks down,” Ito said. “And as it sinks down, there’s bacteria that consume that organic matter. Like us breathing in oxygen and exhaling CO2, the bacteria consume oxygen in the subsurface ocean, and there is a tendency to deplete more oxygen.”

That process plays out all across the Pacific, but the effects are most pronounced in tropical areas, where dissolved oxygen is already low.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Map of the day II: Chinese U.S. commercial RE buys


From Breaking  Ground: Chinese Investment in U.S. Real Estate [PDF], a new report from the Asia Society and the Berkeley-based Rosen Group:

Chinese Commercial Real Estate Acquisition Volume By State, 2010-2015

Chinese Commercial Real Estate Acquisition Volume By State, 2010-2015

Duterteo declares a violent police state


The new Philippine president who famous lamented he wasn’t first in line for a lethal gang rape and headed death squads suspected of 1,700 killings  announced today that he was following through on his campaign promises to shoot criminals.

From Agence France-Presse:

Philippines’ president-elect Rodrigo Duterte vowed Sunday to reintroduce capital punishment and give security forces “shoot-to-kill” orders in a devastating war on crime.

In his first press conference since winning the May 9 elections in a landslide, the tough-talking mayor of southern Davao city warned his campaign threats to kill were not rhetoric.

“What I will do is urge Congress to restore (the) death penalty by hanging,” Duterte, 71, told a press conference in Davao.

He also said he would give security forces “shoot-to-kill” orders against organised criminals or those who violently resisted arrest.

>snip<

He said military sharp shooters would be enlisted in his campaign to kill criminals.

Map of the day II: Interlocked faults threaten Japan


BLOG Japan

From the Yomiuri Shimbun:

There are 2,000 active faults across the nation, and 97 active fault zones that have been designated as key areas that could move within 30 years, the government’s Earthquake Research Committee announced previously.

The Hinagu fault zone caused a magnitude-6.5 quake on the night of April 14, and the Futagawa fault zone caused a magnitude-7.3 quake in the early morning of April 16. Both are designated as key fault zones. The first quake was followed only about 28 hours later by the second one.

“The quake on the night of April 14 triggered the main quake in the Futagawa fault zone,” said Prof. Kazuki Koketsu of the University of Tokyo’s Earthquake Research Institute.

“We have to be aware that if active faults are connected with others, a series of major earthquakes could occur in areas [other than Kumamoto Prefecture],” he said.

A remarkable interview with a great journalist


If any single journalist embodies the finest traditions of American reportage, it’s Seymour Hersh, the son of East European immigrants who rose to the heights of his calling and continues to break major stories at the age of 79.

His latest book, The Killing of Osama Bin Laden, exposes the lies of the Obama administration and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used to conceal the reality of the extrajudicial murder of Pakistani political prisoner Osama bin Laden.

In this wide-ranging interview by Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, Hersch answers questions not only about the killing of America’s most wanted man, but also about the dark side of America’s war on Syria, the duplicity of American politicians, covert operations, and the nature of journalism itself.

It’s the finest interview of Hersch we’ve even seen, and it’s well worth your time.

From TYT Interviews:

Seymour Hersh Interview With The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur

Program notes:

Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks interviews the premier investigative journalist of his generation, Seymour Hersh. Seymour Hersh is the author of ten books, including his latest, titled “The Killing of Osama Bin Laden.” Read some of Seymour Hersh’s work http://www.newyorker.com/contributors…

In this TYT interview Seymour Hersh and Cenk Uygur cover a range of topics, including:

  • Why did the Osama bin Laden operation go down the way it did? Why not take him alive? Should the perpetrators – from Seal Team 6 to Obama himself-be prosecuted for murder?
  • The politics around the death of Osama bin Laden.
  • Why were Osama bin Laden’s wives never questioned by US interrogators?
  • Oil’s impact on foreign policy, in particular Turkey and ISIS.
  • Conspiracy theories and the U.S. government spying on the public.
  • How he became an investigative reporter and developed his style and approach.
  • His thoughts on the state of investigative journalism today.
  • What benefit does the US get from our alliance with Saudi Arabia? What about Israel?
  • What do you think was Saudi Arabia’s involvement in planning and funding the 9/11 attacks?
  • What is the US objective in Syria? Do we have any hope of accomplishing it?

Follow Seymour Hersh on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SeymourHersh
Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: https://twitter.com/CenkUygur