News Sorghum making a rebound in Europe thanks to climate change
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina’s Supreme Court upheld the country’s glacier protection law Tuesday, rejecting an effort by mining giant Barrick Gold Corp. to have it declared unconstitutional.
The decision was praised by environmentalists and marked a setback for one of the world’s biggest gold miners.
Barrick argued that the 2010 law could affect its projects near glacial areas in Argentina. But the top court said Barrick had not proved that the law curbing mining on and around the country’s glaciers to protect water supplies caused any damage to the company.
Barrick owns Pascua-Lama, a high-altitude mine that straddles the Argentina-Chile border. It also runs the Veladero mine in Argentina’s San Juan province.
The Argentine law broadly defines glaciers, so it protects not only the icy masses most people think of but also „rock glaciers” and frozen groundwater on mountaintops where glaciers have melted away from the surface. The Argentine National Glacier Institute, which had a big hand in drafting the law, pushed the definition because it is believed most glacial water actually comes from such reserves.
„We celebrate the ruling because there’s no doubt that glaciers must be protected,” Greenpeace Argentina spokesperson Gonzalo Strano said in a statement.
„Barrick’s request to declare the unconstitutionality of the national law was a perverse play that fortunately lost,” Strano said. „Now, the law must be followed and Veladero must be closed. We can no longer allow mining on Argentine glaciers.”
Representatives at Barrick could not immediately be reached for comment.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An economically struggling Arkansas city in the midst of a revitalization plan continued flooding Tuesday as the Arkansas River crested its banks, but local officials said even after the waters recede, the community’s resilience will bolster recovery.
Pine Bluff Mayor Shirley Washington said federal and state aid will be crucial to help the town of about 42,000 clean up and rebuild after the record-breaking flooding.
The river isn’t expected to crest at its high of 51 feet (15 meters) until about 1 a.m. Thursday in the city, which is located about 40 miles (65 kilometers) southeast of Little Rock. The Arkansas River has been flooding for almost two weeks, after intense rainfall in Oklahoma and Kansas forced officials to release water from a strained dam northwest of Tulsa.
Last week, an evacuation order was issued for about 550 homes within the levee system, said Karen Blevins, the county’s director of emergency management. Because many of the flooded homes are within the levee system, it’s possible that homeowners have flood insurance, though it’s unclear how many actually do.
This weekend, Washington went door to door in some neighborhoods to warn people about a National Weather Service-issued flash flood warning.
Laurie Driver, spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said there’s concern throughout the state about the strength of the levees, which are being strained with more water for longer periods of time than ever before.
In 1927, a massive flood swallowed areas of downtown Pine Bluff, after which the community and the Corps constructed levees and a navigation system across the region. If the levees do fail in Pine Bluff, that would be devastating for the city, which has its share of difficulties even in dry weather.
According to government data, the unemployment rate in Pine Bluff peaked at almost 12% in January 2011, and hovered around 10% until mid-2014, though now it’s around 5%. The median household income between 2013 and 2017 was about $32,000, about $11,000 below the state average.
But even with the threat of catastrophic flooding and the institutional economic disadvantages, city officials said Pine Bluff can still recover and rebuild.
Washington is overseeing a downtown revitalization plan, which includes a new aquatic center scheduled to open at the end of June, a new library and upgrades to parks and recreation areas.
„The city is on the rise,” Washington said of the city whose fates rose on the expansion of post-World War II manufacturing but suffered as the region de-industrialized.
At the First United Methodist Church, Pastor Michael Morey said the city has just recovered from a tornado that injured several people and damaged two apartment complexes in early May.
Now, he said, the community is turning its recovery efforts to the flood, which he said he doesn’t think will have a long-term impact „on whether Pine Bluff becomes a vital thriving community again.”
When the floods recede, Washington anticipates much of the cleanup to be focused around the city’s riverfront park, which has already flooded.
Officials are relying heavily on the prospect of state and federal funding, which will come if President Donald Trump declares a major disaster, as he’s done in some counties in Oklahoma. Vice President Mike Pence toured flood-damaged Tulsa Tuesday, and officials say across Oklahoma, severe weather has killed six people.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson visited Pine Bluff Tuesday to assess the damage. He said he was impressed with the community response to the flood. „They’re very resilient, and I think they’re prepared to deal with it,” Hutchinson said. But he also cautioned that lower income residents, like many in Pine Bluff, will have challenges rebuilding.
„They can’t tap into reserves as easily to cover the immediate expenses of rehabilitating the home,” he said.
Washington said the strength of the city has demonstrated Pine Bluff’s ability to rebuild.
„I think we can overcome this,” Washington said. „We’re going to keep Pine Bluff moving forward.”
Two recent incidents involving U.S. tourists are putting the Dominican Republic in the headlines – and if social media is any indication, they’re causing other Americans to reconsider plans to visit the Caribbean nation.
On Friday, news broke that Maryland couple Edward Nathaniel Holmes and Cynthia Ann Day were found unresponsive in their room by staff at the Bahía Príncipe hotel at the resort Playa Nueva Romana after they didn’t check out at the expected time.
On Sunday, the Dominican National Institute of Forensic Sciences announced that it had completed autopsies on Holmes and Day, telling CNN that Holmes, 63, and Day, 49, died of respiratory failure and pulmonary edema, a buildup of fluid in the lungs. The Dominican Republic National Police also told CNN that officers found blood-pressure medication in the couple’s room.
„Both died of natural causes at the same time?!? Something is not right — their family deserves answers,” @WritinginMC opined.
„They found another black couple dead in their resort in Dominican Republic.*scratches DR off my to travel list*,” tweeted @IndiaAlmighty.
The tweet was in reference to the deaths of Orlando Moore and Portia Ravenelle, a New York couple that went missing in late April. It was later determined that they died when their rental car plunged into the Caribbean Sea on their way back to the airport. As of April 14, an official cause of death had not been determined.
The news of the Maryland couple’s deaths came just two days after Tammy Lawrence-Daley of Wilmington, Delaware, said she had been nearly beaten to death in January while taking pictures during her second night at Punta Cana’s Majestic Elegance Resort by an attacker wearing a hotel uniform who dragged her to a basement maintenance room.
In a Facebook post that has since gone viral, she said she wasn’t found for another eight hours, despite her husband and friends’ repeated pleas to the staff for help. When they did manage to locate her, she had injuries serious enough to keep her in the hospital for five days.
The U.S. embassy in the capital city of Santo Domingo, which has been dealing directly with those cases, did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.
Dominican Republic a 2 out of 4 on threat scale
The U.S. State Department currently rates the Dominican Republic, which shares a border with Haiti, as a level 2 („exercise increased caution”) out of 4 on its Travel Advisory alert system. Visitors to countries rated as 1 should „exercise normal precautions” while Americans are urged not to travel to countries rated as 4.
The Dominican Republic has held a „2” rating since the Travel Advisory system went into effect in 2018. It is unclear whether the two most recent incidents will result in the State Department raising the threat level to 3 („Reconsider travel”).
The most recent travel advisory, issued on April 15, noted, „Violent crime, including armed robbery, homicide and sexual assault is a concern throughout the Dominican Republic.” It added, „The wide availability of weapons, the use and trade of illicit drugs, and a weak criminal justice system contribute to the high level of criminality on the broader scale.”
According to the Overseas Security Advisory Council, which monitors threats against U.S. diplomats and business interests in other countries, crime in Santo Domingo is of particular concern and the number of incidents – primarily armed robbery – rise during the holiday season (November to January) and Carnival in February.
Areas popular with tourists, such as Punta Cana, the resort town on the island’s eastern shoreline where Lawrence-Daley said she was attacked, and Playa Nueva Romano, the resort on the southern shoreline where Holmes and Day vacationed, are actually thought to be safer.
„The development of a professional tourist police corps, institution of a 911 system in many parts of the country, and a concentration of resources in resort areas means these tend to be better policed than urban areas like Santo Domingo, ” the State Department’s travel advisory said.Still, several Twitter users expressed concern about traveling to the country as a whole.
@SantisiCarmela wrote, „The people that went and had a great time GOOD For you but these people lost their life’s as have others and have been robbed there’s a reason it’s so cheap to go there I pray everyone gets to finally tell their stories about the DR.”
„I will NEVER GO TO THESE CORRUPT COUNTRIES on vacation!!” vowed @lmd613.
Crime isn’t the only concern: the Dominican Republic ranked fifth worst in the world in road deaths per capita in 2016, according to the World Health Organization’s Global Status report last year. The State Department warns Americans traveling there not to drive if they can avoid it, particularly when it’s dark.
‘It looks like paradise, but it’s really an illusion’
„I remember that last breath and thinking that – you know – nobody’s going to find me,” Lawrence-Daley recalled while discussing the January assault in an interview with USA TODAY. She said her attacker had dragged her into a basement maintenance room where he „wrapped his hands around my neck and started strangling me.”
But before she lost consciousness, she noticed that her assailant was „wearing a Majestic Elegance Resort logo on his uniform.”
She told USA TODAY that he „disposed of her body” in a crawlspace, where she was later found by resort employees who heard her screaming for help.
But Lawrence-Daley says the chances of justice or repercussions happening fade with each passing day.
Despite her testifying in court before flying home, the three-month investigation into her assault stalled, and she said she hasn’t even received a copy of the police report.
In her Facebook post, Lawrence-Daley said she’s been also been unable to obtain a settlement from the Majestic Elegance Resort, whose insurance company said they were not at fault since she could not identify her attacker. Unless she hires a local attorney, she runs out of legal options in late July.
A representative from Majestic Elegance declined to comment Thursday after the Facebook post went viral.
Choking up, she told USA TODAY, „Every day I look in the mirror and I have to take a minute to recognize that the person in the mirror is still me.”
Although she said that her assailant did not rob her, he took something else.
„I always had a big, bright smile, and he stole that from me,” she lamented.
Lawrence-Daley said she went public because she wanted to warn other tourists – especially women – of the dangers they may face on the Caribbean island.
„We’re in these areas where it looks like paradise, but it’s really an illusion. You can’t let your guard down. You have to be aware.”
Col. Frank Durán, a spokesman for the Dominican National Police said that officers promptly investigated her case, visiting her in the hospital to get testimony and collecting physical evidence from the resort.
“There is a lot of conjecture about the case, a lot of information that doesn’t match some of the statements,” he told the Associated Press Friday. “We have to wait for the investigation to end.”
At a bare minimum, Lawrence-Daley said she hopes that her story results in security upgrades, telling AP, “If they install cameras, that’s at least one step closer to really helping people.”
Contributing: Brandon Holveck, Delaware News Journal; N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY; Akiko Matsuda and Keldy Ortiz, Rockland/Westchester Journal News; Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Incidents involving American tourists raise safety concerns about Dominican Republic
The rapid rise continues, relentlessly.
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Tuesday that the average carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere during May rounded to 414.8 parts per million, or ppm — the highest monthly number on record and the peak of 2019. While Earth’s CO2 trend has been skyrocketing overall — compared to both geologic and historic levels — each year the potent greenhouse gas wavers down during the warm growing season, when flourishing trees and plants in the Northern Hemisphere temporarily soak up CO2 from the air (this ever-rising, though saw-like line is called the Keeling Curve).
But 414.8 ppm, while the highest monthly CO2 level in recorded history, is not the only number that’s critical to appreciate. The other is . That, noted Scripps, is the leap in CO2 ppm since last May. It’s the second highest year-to-year jump on record, and smashes average CO2 increases from earlier decades. After the Scripps monitoring station atop Hawaii’s towering Mauna Loa went online in 1959, CO2 rose around just 0.7 ppm per year in the early decades of operation. Then, in the 1990s, the rate increased to 1.5 ppm per year. The last decade has averaged 2.2 ppm.
Yet, in the last year, it was a 3.5 ppm gain. Concentrations of the planet’s most influential greenhouse gas are accelerating.
„It’s extremely alarming to see atmospheric CO2 continuing to increase relentlessly year after year when all scenarios that lead to a stable climate require that it go down,” said Sarah Green, an environmental chemist at Michigan Technological University.
Image: Scripps institution of oceanography
„The further we go into the uncharted climate territory of unprecedented CO2 levels, the more likely we are to encounter surprises,” added Green, referencing the extreme weather and climate disruptions wrought by such warming. „We are heading toward the part of the climate map labeled ‘here there be dragons’ and rather than turning around, or even slowing down, we are running faster.”
On Earth, climate scientists globally are well aware that the climate has naturally changed before, as CO2 levels have fluctuated over hundreds of thousands of years. But the current rate of change has no precedent, in at least some 800,000 to a million years.
„When I think of the Keeling curve, I see it as the most important confirmation that the rate of the rise in CO2 (or the pace of CO2 increase) is like nothing we have ever seen before and probably like nothing the planet has ever seen before, certainly in the last million years and possibly ever,” said Kris Karnauskas, an associate professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder.