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Al Jazeera America
Glaciers in western Antarctica are melting at an “unstoppable” rate that could cause worldwide sea levels to rise far quicker than previously thought, scientists said in a report released Monday.
A team of researchers from NASA and the University of California said the ice sheets will continue to retreat for decades or even centuries to come, regardless of any human effort to reduce carbon emissions a primary cause of climate change – though warming temperatures could accelerate the process.
The new data could mean that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) prediction last month of a three-foot sea level rise by 2100 may have to be increased by as much as four feet, the study said.
The report represents the crossing of a “critical threshold” in understanding Antarctic ice sheets, said researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, who were behind the study.
Conclusions in the report are based on 40 years of observation of the rapidly melting Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica. Six glaciers in the sector have entered an “unstoppable” retreat that has “passed the point of no return,” the researchers said.
“It has been compared to a wine bottle that has a cork at the front, where the cork represents the ice shelf,” said Eric Rignot, professor of Earth system science at the UC Irvine and glaciologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., said in a conference Monday.
“We’re at the point where we can say the bottle has been uncorked,” Rignot said at a news conference Monday.
The collapse of the western Antarctic ice sheet is inevitable and is already underway, scientists said on Monday.
The melt will cause up to four metres (13 feet) of additional sea-level rise over the coming centuries, devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world – from Bangladesh to New Jersey – that are already expected to be swamped by only a few feet of sea-level rise.
But the researchers said the sea-level rise – while unstoppable – was still several centuries off, potentially up to 1,000 years away.
The study, from researchers at the University of Washington, was one of two sets of findings published on Monday projecting the loss of the western Antarctica ice sheet, the largest remaining grounded repositories of ice in the world.
Scientists at Nasa were also due to publish their research on Antarctic ice on Monday.
Both came to broadly similar conclusions – that scientists are now increasingly sure the thinning and melting of the Antarctic ice sheet has begun. They also suggest that recent accumulation of ice in Antarctica was temporary.
New York Times
The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday.
The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis.
“This is really happening,” said Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA’s programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research. “There’s nothing to stop it now. But you are still limited by the physics of how fast the ice can flow.”
Key glaciers in West Antarctica are in an irreversible retreat, a study team led by the US space agency (Nasa) says.
It analysed 40 years of observations of six big ice streams draining into the Amundsen Bay and concluded that nothing now can stop them melting away.
Although these are abrupt changes, the timescales involved are likely measured in centuries, the researchers add.
If the glaciers really do disappear, they would add roughly 1.2m to global sea level rise.
The new study has been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, but Nasa held a teleconference on Monday to brief reporters on the findings.
Prof Eric Rignot said warm ocean water was relentlessly eating away at the glaciers' fronts and that the geometry of the sea bed in the area meant that this erosion had now entered a runaway process.
The vast glaciers of western Antarctica are rapidly losing ice to the sea and almost certainly have "passed the point of no return," according to new work by two separate teams of scientists.
The likely result: a rise in global sea levels of 4 feet or more in the coming centuries, says research made public Monday by scientists at the University of Washington, the University of California-Irvine and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
"It really is an amazingly distressing situation," says Pennsylvania State University glaciologist Sridhar Anandakrishnan, who was not affiliated with either study. "This is a huge part of West Antarctica, and it seems to have been kicked over the edge."
The researchers say the fate of the glaciers is almost certainly beyond hope.
One study shows that a river of ice called Thwaites Glacier is probably in the early stages of collapse. Total collapse is almost inevitable, the study shows.
Hillshire Brands Co will buy Pinnacle Foods Inc for $4.3 billion to add products such as Duncan Hines baking mixes and Bird's Eye frozen foods to its lineup that includes Jimmy Dean sausages and Sara Lee desserts.
The cash-and-stock deal will establish Hillshire as the owner of 10 brands that are either No. 1 or No. 2 in their category, the companies said on Monday.
The deal, Hillshire's third in a year, will build the company's presence in the center aisles of supermarkets. Most of the company's products are sold in the frozen or chilled sections, which tend to be located around the store's perimeter.
Pinnacle's brands also include Mrs. Paul's frozen seafood, Wish-Bone salad dressing and Log Cabin syrup. Hillshire's other products include Hillshire Farm luncheon meats, Aidells sausages and Gallo Salame salamis.
A mid-May snowstorm dumped as much as 3 feet of snow on Colorado's Rocky Mountains on Monday while the U.S. Midwest braced for hail and other severe weather, forecasters said.
Snowplows cleared the way for the Monday morning rush hour after the storm, which is expected to taper off by midday, blanketed Denver with more than 4 inches and the mountains northeast of Steamboat Springs with 36 inches of snow, said Jim Kalina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder, Colorado.
No significant delays or cancellations were reported at Denver International Airport, and no records were broken in a state used to late spring snowstorms like the one that dumped 10.7 inches of snow on May 26, 1950.
"That's Colorado for you," said Kalina.
Snow has been falling and accumulating over the past four days in Colorado, said Pat Slattery, weather service spokesman. Deep snow measuring 27 inches also was reported in the Uinta Mountains in northeastern Utah, said NWS meteorologist Tom Renwick.
Hail and damaging winds were forecast for Monday in parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, southeast Kansas, Oklahoma, central Texas, Arkansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, northern Indiana and northwest Ohio, Slattery said.
Unions representing employees of ITV’s newly acquired production company in the US are calling on the British broadcaster to improve benefits for its American workers.
Following the $360m acquisition of Leftfield last week, and other acquisitions in the past two years, the Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) and the AFL-CIO want ITV to provide similar benefits to its American workers as those offered in the UK.
“Not only is ITV currently making profits and not giving benefits to its writer-producers but it anticipates even bigger profits, big enough to justify that investment,” said WGAE executive director Lowell Peterson.
The guild is seeking minimum levels of compensation, health benefits and paid time off. At least 100 writer-producers cycle through ITV productions during the year. Currently, ITV employs 40 WGAE members in New York.
Producers and associate producers first voted to be represented by the WGAE in collective bargaining three years ago, because ITV does not provide benefits to the producers and writers at the other US-based production companies it owns.
I'm not a racist," Donald Sterling tells CNN in an interview about the scandal that brought a lifetime ban from the NBA. "I made a terrible, terrible mistake. And I'm here with you today to apologize and to ask for forgiveness for all the people that I've hurt."
Sterling also said he isn't likely to engage in a drawn-out legal battle with the NBA if the league attempts to force him out as the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Both Sterling and his wife recently recorded high-profile interviews — Shelly with ABC's Barbara Walters, and Donald with CNN's Anderson Cooper.
"I was baited," Donald Sterling tells Cooper. "I mean, that's not the way I talk. I don't talk about people for one thing — ever. I talk about ideas and other things, but I don't talk about people."
The Clippers owner was banned by the NBA on April 29, days after a recording emerged in which he made racist remarks. Commissioner Adam Silver also urged Sterling's fellow owners to force him to sell the team.
Sterling tells Cooper that he doesn't know how the recording was released; he also says, "I don't know why the girl had me say those things."
Harry Potter and The Hunger Games haven't been big hits for nothing. Lots of teens and adolescents still read quite a lot.
But a roundup of studies, put together by the nonprofit Common Sense Media, shows a clear decline over time. Nearly half of 17-year-olds say they read for pleasure no more than one or two times a year — if that.
That's way down from a decade ago.
The digital revolution means there are more platforms than ever to read on. And yet, the number of American teens reading for pleasure has dropped dramatically. Researchers are asking if there's a link.
Jim Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, is one of them. He's been studying the impact of technology on children, and he finds the results striking — though not entirely shocking.
First of a two-part report.
The neo-Nazi charged with killing three people at Jewish centers outside Kansas City last month drove there from his home in the Ozarks, a hilly, rural, largely conservative part of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas with a history of attracting white supremacists.
The Kansas murders sparked a painful discussion in the shooter's community in Marionville, Mo., where bigotry is an especially divisive subject.
"I am not blind to the shortcomings of this area, and I will tell you, as a native, we are still mired in the past," says Nancy Allen, a professor and author in nearby Springfield, Mo.
Allen says most black residents fled Springfield after three black men were lynched on the town square in 1906. That left it a largely white city in a very white region endowed with a fiercely independent and insular culture. Allen calls it the "code of the hills."
When stories began to emerge about the U.S. government's massive surveillance of Americans' phone and Internet communications, it was no surprise to a group of analysts who left the National Security Agency soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. Those analysts, who'd worked on systems to detect terrorist threats, left in part because they saw the NSA embarking on a surveillance program they regarded as unconstitutional and unnecessary.
Two of those analysts, Bill Binney and Kirk Wiebe, are interviewed in a Frontline documentary called United States of Secrets, which airs Tuesday night.
Binney was a crypto-mathematician who worked as technical director of the NSA's World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group.
Wiebe was a senior analyst who was awarded the NSA's Meritorious Civilian Service Award, the agency's second highest honor.
Before the Sept. 11 attacks, Binney led a team that created a program called "Thin Thread" which could gather and analyze enormous amounts of Internet and telephone traffic, and encrypt the identities of people in the U.S. so that their privacy was protected.
Both Binney and Wiebe left the agency in 2001 after working there for decades, and have publicly criticized the course the NSA has taken. Both were also eventually targeted in a leak investigation by the FBI that led to their homes being raided. After they left the NSA, they joined others in filing a complaint with the inspector general of the Defense Department about the agency's use of private contractors to develop a surveillance system the analysts regarded as expensive, ineffective and abusive of citizens' constitutional rights.
New York Times
When Neil J. McNeill Jr., principal of the Middle School for Art and Philosophy in Brooklyn, learned that fewer than 4 percent of his students had passed state exams in math last year, he was frustrated.
It so happened that he shared a building with one of the top-performing schools in the Brownsville neighborhood, Kings Collegiate Charter School, where 37 percent of the students had passed, well above the New York City middle-school average of 27 percent.
Mr. McNeill had long been curious about the charter school’s strategies: It, too, served large numbers of low-income black students, many from the same neighborhoods. But the two schools operated in their own bubbles, with separate public-address systems and different textbooks. And as a matter of practice, they did not talk about academics.
“We are kind of two ships in the night,” Mr. McNeill, 39, said recently.
A primary rationale for the creation of charter schools, which are publicly financed and privately run, was to develop test kitchens for practices that could be exported into the traditional schools. President Obama, in recently proclaiming “National Charter Schools Week,” said they “can provide effective approaches for the broader public education system.”
Harvard University extension school students planning a “satanic black mass” canceled the event after an outcry by administration, students, faculty and religious leaders.
The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club had decided to move the event off campus after widespread objections, and no other location was willing to host it, according to an e-mailed statement from the group.
“Given that no other location has been willing to intercede, we will no longer be sponsoring this black mass,” the group said in the statement.
The university had decided not to block the event, even though President Drew Faust said she opposed it. A parody of the Roman Catholic mass, the black mass was to be held in the Queen’s Head Pub in Memorial Hall’s basement, according to a club announcement. Preregistration was required and attendance was full, the club had said in a statement earlier today
The United States has been flying "manned" missions over Nigeria to track down more than 200 abducted schoolgirls, the Pentagon said, as experts pored over a new video, seeking clues to where they are being held.
"We have shared commercial satellite imagery with the Nigerians and are flying manned ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) assets over Nigeria with the government's permission," a senior administration official told AFP news agency on Monday, asking not to be named.
It was not immediately clear what kinds of aircraft were being deployed, nor where they had come from.
A new video released by the Boko Haram group purportedly showing about 130 of the girls was being carefully studied by US experts in the hope it might yield vital clues as to where they are being held.
"Our intelligence experts are combing through every detail of the video for clues that might help ongoing efforts to secure the release of the girls," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said earlier on Monday.
"We have no reason to question its authenticity," she added of the video.
A confidential new report by a U.N. panel highlights Iran's methods of evading sanctions - from concealing titanium tubes inside steel pipes to using its petrochemical industry as a cover to obtain items for a heavy-water nuclear reactor.
The latest report by the U.N. Panel of Experts, which monitors compliance with the Security Council's sanctions regime on Iran, said Tehran's attempts to illicitly procure materials for its disputed nuclear and missile programs may have slowed down as it pursues talks on a long-term deal with world powers.
But the experts' report, which reached the Security Council's Iran sanctions committee days ahead of a new round of Vienna talks between Iran and six world powers, said an alternative explanation could be that Tehran had merely learned how to outsmart security and intelligence services in acquiring sensitive components and materials.
Though Iran insists its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes, Western powers and their allies suspect the country of trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability.
A day after the unrecognized referendum in eastern Ukraine, EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels, are poised to impose new sanctions on Russia. They are also asking themselves if there is anyone left to mediate.
We can maintain the pressure on Russia in order to reach a political solution," is how a high-ranking European Union diplomat in Brussels described this Monday's summit (12.05.2014). The foreign ministers of the 28 EU states will receive several lists and options for the expansion of sanctions against Russia due to the Ukraine crisis. These proposals were prepared over the past week by EU ambassadors and the EU Commission.
Rights activists have criticized the lack of focus in Indian elections on issues related to women's safety, despite increasing violence against women in the South Asian country.
t is already the fifth time today that Rama makes a cross in the last column of the table that is displayed on her monitor screen. The column is reserved for sexual harassment. A 16-year-old girl has just informed her on the phone that she "was threatened with a weapon."
Rama works at "Helpline 181," an emergency service for women. "I like to work here," says the 20-year-old, adding that "in my own case, the police did not help me and I felt being left alone. By working here, I can help other women so that they have it better."
Rama has herself experienced sexually harassment. For years, she was stalked and groped by a much older man, who was a family friend. When she finally told her mother about it, she persuaded Rama not to complain to the police.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar had barely agreed on a cease-fire when only a few hours later both sides accused each other of violating the agreement.
On Saturday (10.05.2014), Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier issued a hopeful statement on the new South Sudan cease-fire agreement. He praised the "prudent and persistent" mediation by Ethiopia and the East African regional body IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) and applauded the agreement as "an important step on the path to a political resolution of the conflict." Barely 24 hours later the "sign of hope" Steinmeier invoked appeared to be fading.
A record 551 million voters cast their ballots in India's parliamentary election, which saw a turnout of 66.38 percent, India's Election Commission has said.
The number of voters going to the polls in the world's biggest election rose by 32.11 percent, shattering the previous record of 417 million set five years ago, Election Commission director general Akshay Rout told a press conference soon after the end of the final phase of voting on Monday.
"This is the highest ever turnout in India's national election history. These numbers may still go up marginally because of postal ballots and other factors," Rout said in New Delhi.
The latest turnout rate beat the previous record of 64.01 set in 1984 and was a major jump from the last general election in 2009 when 58.19 percent of the electorate voted.
The declarations of independence by Donetsk and Luhansk come just 13 days ahead of a Ukraine national presidential election, which both regions say they will not take part in.
Separatist leaders said 89 percent of those who cast ballots on Sunday in the Donetsk region and about 96 percent of those who turned out in Luhansk voted for sovereignty.
Voters "have chosen that path that has enabled the formation of an independent state, the Luhansk People's Republic," said self-declared "people's governor" Valery Bolotov at a rally in the city of Luhansk.
The crowd cheered enthusiastically, but Bolotov stopped short of declaring the region's desire to join Russia.
The dozens of young women corralled into a clearing to recite the first chapter of the Qur'an, their palms turned upwards in prayer but their collective gaze fixed mainly on the forest floor on which they sit, have, in their captors' words, been "liberated".
Few, though, seem to be relishing their four weeks of freedom. Some shut their eyes tight in concentration or perhaps fear; others fidget, glance about and let the phrase "In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful" emerge through nearly motionless lips.
On Monday, almost a month after they were kidnapped, some of the 276 Nigerian girls snatched from their school under cover of darkness appeared to re-emerge in a propaganda video shot by Boko Haram, the Islamist group that has in recent days acquired the notoriety it has sought for years.
The 27-minute film, stamped with the logo of a pair of crossed Kalashnikovs, a black flag and an open Qur'an, shows around 130 girls wearing grey and black veils. Two of them speak of their conversion from Christianity to Islam.
At least 14 people have died after a boat sank in the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy in the latest disaster to hit the relentlessly busy migration route, the Italian navy said.
Two commercial ships are reported to have been first at the scene of the shipwreck on Monday, which occurred in international waters about 40 miles from the Libyan coast and 100 miles south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.
More than 200 migrants have been saved, the navy said in a statement, but it is unclear how many were on board the boat before it ran into trouble.
Giuseppe Cannarile, commander of the Lampadusa coast guard, was quoted by Italian media as saying: "The number of people on board is not yet known but the survivors say there were hundreds."
The navy said the number of 14 deaths was not definitive as the rescue effort – involving two Italian navy ships and three patrol boats two belonging to the Italian coast guard and the Guardia di Finanza police was continuing.
Nigeria has insisted it will not agree to a request to free imprisoned Islamic militants in return for the release of dozens of kidnapped schoolgirls.
Interior Minister Abba Moro said Boko Haram, the group holding the girls, was in no moral position to make the offer.
The group earlier released a video of the girls and suggested a swap, and a Nigerian official had said that all options were on the table.
Boko Haram snatched more than 200 girls from a school on 14 April.
About 50 children escaped, and it is not known how many are still being held.
The video released on Monday showed 136 girls, and was interspersed with militants explaining that they had "converted" to Islam.
Three of the girls - wearing full-length cloaks - are shown speaking. Two say they were Christian and have converted, while the other says she is Muslim.
A man has died in Jordan after being infected with the Mers virus, the government has said on the eve of a World Health Organisation emergency meeting on the disease.
The latest death brings to five the number of fatalities in Jordan from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus since it first emerged in 2012. The man, in his 50s, worked in a private hospital and died on Sunday, the health ministry said.
On Sunday Saudi Arabia reported three new deaths from Mers, taking its death toll from the disease to 142. Mers has now infected 483 people in the Gulf kingdom since 2012, accounting for the vast majority of the 496 cases registered worldwide.
Mers is considered a deadlier but less transmissible cousin of the Sars virus that erupted in Asia in 2003, infecting 8,273 people and killing nearly 800. Like Sars, it appears to cause a lung infection, with patients suffering coughing, breathing difficulties and a temperature – but Mers differs in that it also causes rapid kidney failure.
DNA testing has confirmed that an animal shot in February in Iowa's Buchanan County was in fact a wolf, according to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. This is the first confirmed grey wolf (Canis lupus) in the US state since 1925.
Experts believe the wolf likely travelled south from Wisconsin or Minnesota, the latter of which has the largest wolf population in the lower 48.
The Iowa wolf, which was a 65-70 pound healthy female, was shot and killed in February of this year by a hunter who mistook it for a coyote. Although wolves remain a protected species in Iowa, the hunter was not cited, because he believed the animal to be a coyote and has cooperated with authorities, including bringing the wolf to them in the first place.
"I was surprised but not that surprised," DNA specialist Vince Evelsizer told the Gazette. "Large animals can cover great distances, and state lines mean nothing to them."
When news spread last week that Apple Inc. (AAPL) was near an acquisition of Beats Electronics LLC for $3.2 billion, Beats co-founder Dr. Dre appeared in a video boasting of becoming the “first billionaire in hip hop.”
Apple executives, by contrast, were characteristically silent.
The differing reactions underline the seemingly odd cultural fit between the world’s most valuable company and a celebrity-fronted Santa Monica, California-based provider of headphones and online music. Beats executives are known to throw lavish parties and have musicians traipsing through at all hours, while Apple is an engineering haven for coders and designers.
Yet underneath those surface differences, the two companies are more aligned than it might appear, with deep ties to one another. Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine, a longtime producer and executive, was friendly with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and is a big supporter of the company’s efforts in music. Apple, meanwhile, has cultivated extensive relationships in the music business and its iTunes team is populated with former radio promoters, music writers and other industry veterans. The familiarity may help Apple more quickly reap the benefits of a deal once it’s completed.
NANYANG, CHINA — There’s an old saying in the American West: “Water flows uphill toward money.” The same holds true in China, where engineers are building a 1,500-mile network of canals and tunnels to divert water from the rain-abundant south to Beijing and other wealthy northern cities.
Costing an estimated $62 billion, the South-North Water Transfer Project is the largest public works undertaking in China since the Three Gorges Dam, and even more gargantuan in scale. Parts of the project are behind schedule and over budget, but the costs go far beyond money. The government has relocated more than 330,000 villagers for the project, and many are angry over lost farmland and compensation they say was skimmed off by corrupt local officials.
“We were willing to sacrifice the small family for the good of the big family _ the nation,” said one villager, Jia, whom McClatchy interviewed. But the government, he said, “has not kept its promises.”
General Motors on Monday spelled out how much customers will have to pay to access the cellular network through its new cars.
The 2015 Chevrolet Malibu will be the first of a fleet of more than 30 GM models that will come with a 4G LTE connection powered by AT&T this year. Customers get either three months or 3 gigabytes of data as part of a free trial, and can re-up with plans that range between $5 and $50.
The vehicle data plans represent a potentially lucrative new business for GM. The automaker hopes connected cars will generate additional service revenue, augmenting its traditional core automotive sales and its separate OnStar monitoring and assistance service. An LTE connection could potentially give it an edge over competitors and increase customer loyalty.
"Our objective here is to allow you to bring your digital life in your vehicle, and your vehicle into your digital life," Terry Inch, chief operating officer for GM's OnStar unit, said in an interview.
With an LTE connection, the car can act as a Wi-Fi hotspot that can connect up to seven devices. The connection also will help augment OnStar coverage and services
Twitter users can now mute others, meaning that their tweets will not show up in a timeline.
The new feature, which Twitter announced in a blog post Monday, allows you to avoid seeing tweets from people you'd rather avoid. However, they will still be able to see your tweets and retweets. The new tool appears to be what Twitter was aiming for when it briefly changed its blocking policy in December, igniting a firestorm of controversy.
"In the same way you can turn on device notifications so you never miss a tweet from your favorite users, you can now mute users you'd like to hear from less," Twitter wrote in its blog post. "Muting a user on Twitter means their tweets and retweets will no longer be visible in your home timeline, and you will no longer receive push or SMS notifications from that user."
However, Twitter noted, muting someone does not mean they will not be able to see your tweets or retweets.
AT&T Inc is in active talks to buy satellite TV provider DirecTV and may complete a deal in the next few weeks that could be worth close to $50 billion, two people familiar with the matter said on Monday.
The second-largest wireless operator is discussing an offer in the low- to mid-$90s per share for DirecTV, one of the people said, compared with the company's closing price of $87.16 on Monday.
A bid near $95 per share would value DirecTV at more than $48 billion based on its shares outstanding, and would represent a premium of more than 20 percent to its stock price before news of AT&T's interest first emerged on May 1.
The deal price has yet to be finalized and terms could still change, the people said, adding that discussions are continuing. They asked not to be named because the matter is not public.
Other details also have yet to be worked out, such as a break-up fee as well as a potential role for DirecTV Chief Executive Officer Mike White, the second person said.