13 Sep

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective


US had its 12-hottest summer but seven of the warmer seasons were in last 15 years. With ocean temperatures rising, scientists warn: ‘It’s definitely not good’

A helicopter makes a water bucket drop in Washington during a summer marked by wildfires in the western US, that is set to be the country’s 12-hottest.

A helicopter makes a water bucket drop in Washington during a summer that was marked by wildfires in the western US and is set to be the country’s 12-hottest. Photograph: Ted S. Warren/AP

New data showing that the US had its 12th-hottest summer on record may not, at first glance, appear particularly significant or alarming.

But in announcing the news, climate scientists have pointed out that, of the 11 American summers that were recorded as warmer than 2015’s, seven have occurred in the last 15 years; the other four were all during the “Dustbowl” 1930s heatwaves that plagued the US during the Great Depression.

And, as part of the climate warming trend globally, next Thursday a federal agency is set to announce the latest worldwide figures that are likely to show that it was officially the hottest summer ever recorded on the planet, and the hottest first eight months of the year to date.

The summer of drought, fires and heat for large parts of the western US dominated the news and pushed national temperatures up, even though the central states were cooler than average for the season.

The average temperature in the lower 48 states for June to August 2015 was 72.7F (22.6C), 1.3 degrees above the 20th-century average, according to the latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), where the records go back to 1895.

California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington states have experienced their hottest year on record and the north-east nudged record warm temperatures for August.

On 1 September, 30% of the contiguous US was suffering drought conditions, up 3.3% since July, according to a NOAA report released on Friday.

Scientists are watching with interest the combined effect of the El Niño cyclical weather pattern warming the surface waters of the equatorial region of the Pacific Ocean at the same time as the northern reaches of that ocean have also been unusually warm this summer………………….


We must break down the barriers between development and humanitarian response, to put in place long-term efforts to end poverty and hunger

Burundian children at the Gashora refugee camp in the Bugesera district of Rwanda.

Burundian children at the Gashora refugee camp in the Bugesera district of Rwanda. Photograph: Edmund Kagire/AP

In two weeks, world leaders will ratify a new consensus to build a better world: the sustainable development goals. But we will not reach these development goals – nor can development be sustainable – without reaching the millions of children living in the midst of humanitarian crises.

Consider a few data points*. Children living in countries affected by humanitarian crises – conflicts, natural disasters and health emergencies – account for nearly half of all under-five deaths. How can we achieve SDG3, good health for all, if we don’t reach these children?

Four-fifths of these countries have stunting levels above 20%. Nearly two-thirds have stunting levels above 30%. Two-thirds have unacceptable levels of wasting, often associated with acute starvation. How can we realise SDG2, to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition, if we don’t reach these children?

Countries affected by humanitarian crises account for 43% of all out-of-school children at the primary and lower-secondary levels. SDG4 demands inclusive quality education for all. How will that be possible if we don’t reach these children?

The international community tends to compartmentalise humanitarian and development crises – separate funding appeals, separate advocacy campaigns and separate conferences. It is as if development and emergencies exist in different worlds.

But children living through crises see no distinction between humanitarian and development action – they only see whether they are getting what they need to survive, whether they are able to go to school, and whether they can dream about a better future…………………..


the count


Pundits may mock Trump, Sanders and Carson, but their campaigns chime with a disillusioned electorate

  Bernie Sanders

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders is greeted as he arrives at a campaign event in Indianola, Iowa. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters

Until recently, Hillary Clinton was the election’s uncontested Democratic frontrunner. She was said to be intimidating, unbeatable, as strongly favoured as an incumbent. The biggest concern about her candidacy as the Democrats’ presumptive nominee was that her path to power would be too easy, leaving her rusty in a competitive general election. But as insiders continued to underperform in polls last week, that prophecy is looking increasingly like the rosy spin of operatives out of touch with the electorate. With the entire Democratic party establishment rallied around Clinton, it’s 74-year-old Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders who continues to surge. From Texas to Wisconsin to California, he’s been drawing huge crowds, overtaking Hillary in Iowa, according to a new Quinnipiac poll this week, and even besting her by a full nine percentage points in New Hampshire – traditionally safe territory for the Clintons – according to NBC.

A class-warrior with the aesthetic sensibility of an eccentric uncle, Sanders has been called the guy “willing to upset the apple cart”. Not that he’s an outsider in every sense; the irascible junior senator has served in the Senate since 2007 and in the House since 1991. Yet as the longest serving independent in congressional history, he’s an outsider to both major parties. And with his constant calls for revolution, the fact that he was ever elected to Congress is something of a miracle. It’s also powerfully appealing to an electorate grown disillusioned with a gridlocked congressional process and elected leaders who appear more intent on pleasing the permanent political class in Washington than the voters who sent them there. As one Sanders superfan sees it, he’s “our last hope for democracy”.

On the Republican side, everything’s coming up Donald Trump, a guy who until this month didn’t even see fit to pledge loyalty to his party. (Following a personal appeal from the Republican chairman, he signed a pledge promising not to run as an independent if he loses the nomination.) His candidacy seems to exist almost exclusively for the purpose of self-aggrandisement. But as establishment candidates kick into him with increasing vigour, the brash billionaire’s popularity shows no signs of abating. Even Clinton is getting in on the Trump-bashing, taking him to task on Thursday for insulting women. He’s now so dominating the Republican side of things, she didn’t even have to mention him by name to make her point……………………………




 al amer

Some women arrive in Europe pregnant or with infants, feeling they had no choice but to leave, despite the peril

ref moters

Dania is seven months pregnant. She already knows her baby is boy and has named him Wael. But instead of preparing with a baby shower and breathing exercises, Dania spent the past 15 days on the refugee trail to Germany along with thousands of other Syrians fleeing violence at home. She was the only pregnant woman in the group of 14 people she was traveling with, but two others had infants they carried in their arms all the way to Germany.

About 5 percent of the refugees arriving in Munich’s train station are babies, according to Gerhard Bieber, a spokesman for the Johanniter rescue service there. Not all are Syrians; Iraqis and Afghans also make up a large part of the crowds streaming into Germany, which is expecting some 800,000 asylum seekers this year. Last weekend, a refugee baby was born in Munich. The mother went into labor as soon as she reached the emergency shelter, he said. That weekend, a newborn arrived in Munich, born days earlier in a train station in Hungary.

Unlike in the U.S., there is no automatic citizenship for babies born on German soil. They are eligible for German nationality only if one of their parents has lived in the country for at least eight years and has been granted permanent residency. And as the shocking pictures of Alan Shenu — the drowned 3-year-old Syrian Kurdish boy (reported elsewhere as Alayn Kurdi) whose body washed up on a Turkish beach —showed, the journey can be lethal. Why then, are pregnant women and mothers of infants risking their lives on the arduous and dangerous routes to Germany from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan?

For Dania, the answer was obvious. “It’s better to walk for 15 days than to be killed by a bomb,” she said.

Like almost everyone in her group, she did not give her last name, out of fear that it might have repercussions for her relatives, some of whom are still in Damascus.

She arrived with her husband; her 18-month-old daughter, Limar; and 12 other Syrians in Munich late on Wednesday. Banding together to protect one another and their children, they became firm friends along the route. They walked through dark forests in the night, slept on the ground and caught buses, trains and taxis whenever they could. Some people helped them; others shooed them away. They remembered Hungary as one of the most hostile places they passed. When they reached Austria, Dania was so dehydrated and exhausted that rescue workers rushed her to hospital. Once she recovered, they let her continue to Germany……………………


Protesters show solidarity with refugees as Hungary’s premier warns that EU leaders have ‘no clue’ about scale of crisis

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Tens of thousands of Europeans hit the streets Saturday to show solidarity with huge numbers of refugees entering the continent, while Hungary’s premier warned leaders were “in a dream world” about the dangers posed by the influx.

In London, one of dozens of events across Europe, tens of thousands demonstrated, brandishing placards reading “Open the Borders,” while in Copenhagen some 30,000 took to the streets.

“I want to support the refugees,” said Deborah Flatley in London, holding a homemade cardboard sign reading: “We admire your bravery. You deserve a safe and happy life. We welcome you here with open arms.”

A boy dressed as Paddington Bear — the marmalade-loving migrant who arrived at London’s Paddington Station from “deepest, darkest Peru” in Michael Bond’s famous books — clutched a sign saying: “Paddington Bear Was A Refugee.”

Several thousand people could be seen marching through central London to Prime Minister David Cameron’s office. Cameron had a belated change of heart on letting in more Syrian refugees as the crisis in Europe escalated, and last week he agreed to take in 20,000 people over five years.

In Berlin, demonstrators waved a Syrian flag with “Refugees Welcome” written on it, while rallies in Stockholm, Helsinki and Lisbon each attracted around 1,000 people.

Danish police estimated that 30,000 people had gathered outside the Danish parliament building in Copenhagen on Saturday, shouting “Refugees are welcome.” Saturday’s peaceful protest came after Denmark said on Friday that it had already accepted its fair share of asylum seekers and would not take part in a proposal by the EU Commission to take a share of another 160,000 refugees.

But highlighting how the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants has divided the European Union, there were counter-demonstrations in eastern bloc countries………………..


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