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Updated: 2 hours 38 min ago

Syria's Assad suspends special visas for EU diplomats

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 05:17

The European Commission said on Thursday that Syria's President Bashar al-Assad had suspended special visas for European Union diplomats to Damascus, confirming a Reuters report earlier this week. "The Bashar al-Assad regime has suspended multiply entry visas," a spokeswoman told a regular Commission briefing.


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A startup brings climate-change modeling down to the street level

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 05:00

Jupiter Intelligence, a startup delivering hyperlocal climate predictions, is developing technology that could fundamentally change the way companies and governments plan for climate risks.


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The polar vortex will return, this time with the coldest temps of the year

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 05:00

It's coming back. The polar vortex — a deep mass of frigid air that rotates around the top of the world — has been knocked off balance, which means it's liable to spill cold air into the U.S. Although winter temperatures in the lower 48 states have generally been normal or warmer than average, a blast of intensely cold air first spilled down to the Midwest and the northeastern U.S. around January 20. Now, atmospheric scientists say it's likely to return at the end of January. For many places, that means it will be the coldest stretch of the year.  "It's going to get really cold at the end of January and early February," Jeff Weber, a meteorologist with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, an earth sciences research organization, said in an interview. (A lobe of) "The Polar Vortex"... coming to a theater near you. pic.twitter.com/eAGeMc4W7D — Michael Ventrice (@MJVentrice) January 23, 2019 Although the arrival of chilled air is still around five days away, meteorologists widely agree that it's safe to expect extreme cold. Cleveland will likely drop to around zero degrees Fahrenheit, New York City to the teens, and some areas like Duluth, Minnesota will plummet to negative 25 degrees, said Weber. Why is the polar vortex coming back? If the polar vortex is left undisturbed, it will spend the winter at home, so to speak, rotating around the Arctic. But this formidable mass of cold air can sometimes grow weak, wobbling out of its polar home. After this happens, these weakened polar winds can can slosh into the U.S. multiple times throughout the winter. "Once the vortex is disturbed, the areas of colder air can spill out," noted Weber. "We expect lobes to spill out over time." All the Polar Vortex and SSW researchers drooling over this year's progression. That looks pretty textbook (end of the month). pic.twitter.com/cc077kM1SR — Eric Fisher (@ericfisher) January 19, 2019 The polar vortex first began to get wobbly in early January, after showing signs that it might split apart. These polar winds are always liable to get pushed around by fickle weather patterns, storms, or other disturbances that move around our atmosphere, Benjamin Zaitchik, an atmospheric scientist at Johns Hopkins University, said in an interview.  And sometimes, the polar vortex will get completely thrown out of whack thanks to dramatic warming events that occur some 20 miles up in the atmosphere, called sudden stratospheric warming, which splits the polar apart. This "knocks the vortex out of its cozy home," said Weber.  Here is my "official" 3D animation of this year's stratospheric #PolarVortex split. Another beautiful event! pic.twitter.com/ml59N1cDoh — Zac Lawrence (@zd1awrence) January 14, 2019 It's "like a band of warm air just cutting right through the puddle of cold air," John Martin, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, explained last week.  This creates different vortices that are liable to wobble down to different regions, like the U.S. and Europe at the same time, which happened in mid-January. "It starts to wobble and spill cold air out to the south," said Weber.  What exactly triggers these warming events high up in the polar vortex remains unknown. "It's a hot area of research," said Zaitchik. "It's something that's still being investigated."  Kretschmer has found that over the last decades, the stratospheric polar vortex has become weaker and less stable, so Arctic air masses can escape more easily towards the North American and Eurasian continents. Here a schematic from UCAR. pic.twitter.com/Ss9LGN7KGe — Stefan Rahmstorf (@rahmstorf) January 21, 2019 The polar vortex has become a popular phenomenon for good reason: This weakening of the polar vortex and the subsequent spillover of frigid air has become more common over the last two decades. "We are seeing these events occurring more frequently as of late," noted Weber. One emerging theory blames significantly diminished Arctic sea ice. The Arctic is warming over twice as fast as the rest of the globe and sea ice cover is plummeting. As a result, recent climate research suggests that — without this ice cover — more heat escapes from the oceans. Ultimately, researchers found that this relatively warmer air interacts with and weakens the winds over the Arctic, allowing frigid polar air to more easily escape to southerly places like Cleveland and New York City. It's important to note, however, that although the U.S. and Europe are experiencing more cold blasts from the Arctic, this doesn't mean the planet isn't still warming at an accelerated pace. Rather, these cold blasts are just displacing Arctic air that often stays put over the Arctic.  In 2019, it's forecast to return during the last few days of January.  "This will be our second blast of it," said Weber.  WATCH: Ever wonder how the universe might end?   


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Kremlin accuses U.S. of trying to usurp power in Venezuela

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 04:59

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim leader on Wednesday, winning the support of Washington and parts of Latin America and prompting Socialist President Nicolas Maduro, who has led the oil-rich nation since 2013, to sever diplomatic ties with the United States. The prospect of Maduro being ousted is a geopolitical and economic headache for Moscow which, alongside China, has become a creditor of last resort for Caracas, lending it billions of dollars as its economy implodes. Moscow has also provided support for its military and oil industry.


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Shahrzad Changalvaee Floats Her Work at The Chimney

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 04:30

Iranian artist Shahrzad Changalvaee is the latest to show at the unconventional gallery space in Brooklyn.


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Apple Self-Driving Car Layoffs Are a Nod to Reality

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 04:22

Apple needed a customer willing to buy those systems, and there's no evidence it has ever found one. As difficult and demanding a partner as Apple can sometimes prove to be, the greater issue was always likely to be that its autonomous technology wasn't up to scratch. After Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook warned earlier this month that sales in the three months through December would fall short of expectations, it seems as though the company is examining its internal costs more closely.


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'We are losing the race' on climate change: UN chief

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 04:08

The world is "losing the race" against climate change, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned Thursday at the elite Davos forum, demanding bolder action from governments to arrest catastrophic warming. "Climate change is the defining issue of our time. Following a UN summit last month in Poland, which was designed to advance the Paris climate accord, Guterres said he was "not hopeful" that nations would find the necessary resolve.


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Aramco seeks advisers for SABIC debt financing: sources

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 04:02

Saudi Aramco is seeking advisers to arrange debt financing needed for the acquisition of a stake in Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) <2010.SE>, banking sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday. The Saudi oil giant could borrow as much as $50 billion from international investors to fund the acquisition, sources previously told Reuters. A request for proposals was sent on Wednesday and banks are expected to make submissions by Monday, one of the sources said.


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The U.S. Navy Is Building a Swarm &quot;Ghost Fleet&quot;

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 03:55

The U.S. Navy will launch a swarm of interconnected small attack drone boats on mock-combat missions.


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Hitachi wants nationalisation of UK nuclear project: report

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 03:45

Hitachi's frozen nuclear power project in Britain can only be revived if it is nationalised, Nikkei news agency reported the company's chairman as saying on Wednesday. "Nationalisation is the only path," Hiroaki Nakanishi was quoted as saying at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The chairman said private investors had little appetite to support the power plant after seeing similar projects around the world stall, Nikkei reported.


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Tencent wins China nod for mobile games launch, but not for blockbusters

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 03:05

Chinese regulators approved two mobile games of Tencent Holding Ltd for the first time in almost a year on Tuesday, but are yet to okay its closely awaited blockbuster title PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television approved 95 games in its fourth list since December, with two mobile games from Tencent and one from NetEase Inc, government data showed. The two games approved for Tencent are Wood Joints and Folding Fan, both educational games that teach traditional Chinese architecture and craftsmanship.


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Google Urged the U.S. to Limit Protection for Activist Workers

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 03:00

During the Obama administration, the National Labor Relations Board broadened employees’ rights to use their workplace email system to organize around issues on the job. In a 2014 case, Purple Communications, the agency restricted companies from punishing employees for using their workplace email systems for activities like circulating petitions or fomenting walkouts, as well as trying to form a union. In filings in May 2017 and November 2018, obtained via Freedom of Information Act request, Alphabet Inc.’s Google urged the National Labor Relations Board to undo that precedent.


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How Much Money in Old Satellites Is Floating Up in Space?

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 03:00

Space junk is also dangerous to the working items out in space.


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Huawei Stokes U.S. Fear With Low-Cost Networking Gear That Works

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 03:00

China’s largest tech company makes high-quality networking gear that it sells to rural telecommunications operators for 20 percent to 30 percent less than its competitors do, says Joseph Franell, chief executive officer and general manager of Eastern Oregon Telecom in Hermiston, a watermelon-growing hub of 18,000 people. Huawei’s equipment has helped some two dozen U.S. telecom companies provide landlines, mobile services and high-speed data to many of the poorest and most remote areas in the country. The administration of President Donald Trump is escalating a fight with a formidable adversary – a face-off that intelligence and cybersecurity officials say has significant implications for the safety and security of the U.S. and its allies.


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Japan whalers discuss plan to resume commercial hunt July 1

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 02:58

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese whalers discussed plans Thursday to resume their commercial hunting along the northeastern coast on July 1, for the first time in three decades.


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China clones gene-edited monkeys to aid disorder research

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 02:01

Chinese scientists announced Thursday they had cloned five monkeys from a single animal that was genetically engineered to have a sleep disorder, saying it could aid research into human psychological problems. A research team from the Institute of Neuroscience at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai said it had altered the genes of a macaque to give it circadian rhythm disorder, in which the body's "clock" is out of sync with normal sleep times. The report's authors said the findings could aid research into human psychological illnesses because scientists would be able to create animals with specific disorders.


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Nigerian Chibok girls&#39; champion Ezekwisili quits presidential race

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 01:41

Former government minister Obiageli Ezekwesili, co-founder of a group to raise awareness about more than 200 girls kidnapped by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram in 2014, said on Twitter that she had been in talks for three months with other candidates about a coalition. Nigeria's presidential election is scheduled to take place on Feb. 16. The main candidates in the race to head Africa's top oil producing country are the incumbent, Muhammadu Buhari, and Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president who is representing the main opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP).


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Saudis to Davos: move on from Khashoggi, let&#39;s do business

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 01:35

If you somehow missed the news about the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents and the global outcry that ensued, you might think Saudi Arabia is the darling of the World Economic Forum in Davos. It has even managed to secure top Western businessmen for a panel debate on 'Next Steps for Saudi Arabia', where French oil major Total’s chief executive Patrick Pouyanne and Morgan Stanley’s boss James Gorman will be sitting next to the Saudi finance and economy ministers. The Davos gathering in the Swiss Alps is a chance for the Saudis to try to put behind them months of intense criticism over the murder of Khashoggi, a critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October.


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UN chief warns &#39;we are losing the race&#39; on climate change

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 01:25

UN chief Antonio Guterres on Thursday warned that the world is "losing the race" on climate change as he demanded that governments make bolder commitments beyond the Paris accord. "Climate change is the defining issue of our time. The Paris climate accord has been shaken by the withdrawal of the United States under President Donald Trump, and by threats to do the same by Brazil's new hard-right leader Jair Bolsonaro.


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Saudi crown prince offers full support for Iraq&#39;s security: Iraq PM&#39;s office

Thu, 01/24/2019 - 00:49

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman on Thursday offered his full support for Iraq's continued security in a phone call to Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. The countries have been at loggerheads since the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The call was the latest indication of attempts to improve relations, which began with the reopening of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Baghdad in 2016.


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