News, July 5th

China braces for more storms; 121 dead or missing this year

A wide swath of southern China braced Sunday for more seasonal rains and flooding that state media said has already left more than 120 people dead or missing this year.

The National Meteorological Center raised the weather alert to yellow Sunday morning, the third highest of four levels, for more than half a dozen provinces and the cities of Shanghai and Chongqing. Heavy to torrential rains were forecast into Monday night.

Footage on state broadcaster CCTV showed flooded streets and farmland in Anhui province. To the south in Jiangxi province, more than 8,000 people have been evacuated and 54 houses collapsed after rainstorms in recent days, the network said.

Nationwide, flooding-related disasters have destroyed 17,000 homes, caused 41.6 billion yuan ($5.9 billion) in economic losses and left 121 people dead or missing so far this year, the official People’s Daily newspaper said in a social media post, citing the Ministry of Emergency Management.

The National Meteorological Center said some parts of Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, and Zhejiang provinces could see 25 to 27 centimeters (10 inches) of rain. It also issued a yellow alert for rain in two northeastern provinces, Heilongjiang, and Jilin.

Pink ice in Italy’s Alps sparks algae probe

Scientists in Italy are investigating the mysterious appearance of pink glacial ice in the Alps, caused by algae that accelerate the effects of climate change.

There is debate about where the algae come from, but Biagio Di Mauro of Italy’s National Research Council said the pink snow observed on parts of the Presena glacier is likely caused by the same plant found in Greenland.

“The alga is not dangerous, it is a natural phenomenon that occurs during the spring and summer periods in the middle latitudes but also at the Poles,” said Di Mauro, who had previously studied the algae at the Morteratsch glacier in Switzerland.

The plant, known as Ancylonema nordenskioeldii, is present in Greenland’s so-called Dark Zone, where the ice is also melting.

Normally ice reflects more than 80 percent of the sun’s radiation back into the atmosphere, but as algae appear, they darken the ice so that it absorbs the heat and melts more quickly.

More algae appear as the ice melts more rapidly, giving them vital water and air and adding red hues to the white ice at the Passo Gavia, altitude 2,618 meters (8,590 feet).

“Everything that darkens the snow causes it to melt because it accelerates the absorption of radiation,” said Di Mauro.

“We are trying to quantify the effect of other phenomena besides the human one on the overheating of the Earth,” said Di Mauro, noting that the presence of hikers and ski lifts could also have an impact on the algae.

Tourists at the glacier lament the impact of climate change.

“Overheating of the planet is a problem, the last thing we needed was algae,” said tourist Marta Durante.

“Unfortunately, we are doing irreversible damage. We are already at the point of no return, I think.”

Elisa Pongini from Florence said she felt the Earth was “giving us back everything we have done to it”.

“2020 is a special year: terrible things have happened,” she said. “In my opinion, atmospheric phenomena are worsening. Climate change is increasingly evident.”

Trump delivers divisive message amid spike of coronavirus cases on Independence Day

U.S. President Donald Trump made an Independence Day speech from the White House on Saturday evening, self-praising his government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, while many parts of the country canceled celebrations amid a ballooning caseload.

In his speech on the South Lawn, Trump also slammed “radical left” and U.S. news media over removal of controversial monuments following the killing of black man George Floyd by police — an incident that has invoked a national outcry against racial injustice and police brutality in the country.

“We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who in many instances have absolutely no clue what they are doing,” the president said.

“We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children or trample on our freedoms,” he said, referring to protesters who target colonial and Confederate statues and perceive them as symbols of racial oppression.

Meanwhile, Trump lambasted U.S. media outlets, saying that they “falsely and consistently label their opponents as racists.”

“You not only slander me, you not only slander American people, but you slander generations of heroes who gave their lives for America,” Trump said.

“For nation’s birthday, Trump slams his enemies within,” a report by the Associated Press commented.

Tackling the divisive issue by a divisive speech, the president was trying to rev up his conservative base four months before the general elections, some local analysts have said.

The president kicked off the holiday weekend by visiting Mount Rushmore in South Dakota state on Friday with the same focus — accusing “angry mobs” of waging “a merciless campaign” to wipe out U.S. history while pledging to establish a “National Garden of American Heroes” that will feature statues of “the greatest Americans to ever live.”

As Trump centered himself on railing at “radical left” and U.S. media in his Fourth of July message, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden put his focus on calling for racial justice.

“There has always been a push and a pull between our founding ideals and the forces of inequality,” said Biden in an online video, adding that “we have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country.”

A series of polls show Trump was slipping farther behind his Democratic challenger currently as the president has been under pressure to “reset” his re-election campaign.

The United States marked its 244th birthday against the backdrop of a hike of pandemic, a downturn of economy and a nationwide outcry for racial justice.

Trump’s speech was part of the 2020 “Salute to America” event, which also included multiple flyovers by military aircraft and a 35-minute fireworks display over the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Saturday night.

However, much of the country cancelled or scaled back traditional celebrations and events for the weekend as health experts warned Americans to avoid large crowds at a time when the country is already experiencing significant surges of infections.

Under attacks for a shaky response to the pandemic, Trump insisted that the spike in cases is a result of expanded testing, a claim rejected by the White House’s own public health experts.

“We’ve made a lot of progress, our strategy is moving along well,” Trump said of the pandemic in his Fourth of July speech.

Nonetheless, Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious-diseases expert, said earlier this week that the United States is “not in total control” of the pandemic, warning the situation “could get very bad” if the nation fails to get the surge of cases under control.

On Saturday, nearly 45,000 new daily cases were reported in the country, according to a New York Times database, with at least three states setting daily records. Over 2.8 million people have contracted the virus with nearly 130,000 deaths in the United States.

Traditional Fourth of July parade in Washington, D.C., as well as firework shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and some other cities, were canceled due to the pandemic.

But protests against racial injustice were continuing across the country. Protesters held rallies, marches and sit-ins on Saturday in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and more than a dozen other cities and towns, according to a USA Today report.

After Trump’s July Fourth address, some protesters burned an American flag outside the Lafayette Square near the White House in protest against racial injustice in the country, local media reported. As the flag burned, protesters chanted “slavery, genocide and war” and “America was never great.”

In Baltimore, a city in Maryland state, a group of protesters tore down a statue of the Italian-born explorer Christopher Columbus and threw it into the water on Saturday night.

“Over the past months, the American spirit has undoubtedly been tested by many challenges,” the president acknowledged in his Independence Day speech.

Published by jim

Curator of things...

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