Sand storms, wildfires, heatwaves, drought ... what is it with the weather?

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A trio of super strong hurricanes pummeled the Caribbean and US Gulf coast with each storm causing tens of billions of dollars in damage.
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In a spate of ice slides dozens were killed in a series of avalanches on the Afghanistan Pakistan border.
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The dry conditions that fueled flames in some spots also perpetuated long term drought in others.
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Hurricane irma hit Florida hard; growers are worried about the long term effects on their crops.
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Experts estimate the damage from Hurricane Harvey alone could cost upwards of $100 million.
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California spent much of the fall in flames.
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Chinese village was utterly destroyed in a June landslide but the death toll there is still a mystery.
Updated 30 July 2018
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Sand storms, wildfires, heatwaves, drought ... what is it with the weather?

  • The World Meteorological Organization has predicted temperatures from Ireland to Scandinavia and the Baltic countries will remain at record levels until early August
  • The perils of extreme heat have been illustrated in Greece, where the worst forest fires in the country’s history have killed 82 people

DUBAI: From heatwaves to white-outs, from fires to floods … the weather appears to be throwing everything it has at our planet.
Across the world, the climate and the conditions are going to vastly different extremes. For some, it means delight. For others, it spells danger. And for those living in the Arabian Gulf, it has just brought dust.
Riyadh, the Saudi capital, was blasted by a sandstorm last week, and on Sunday it was the turn of the UAE. High winds and sandstorms swept across the emirates, cutting visibility to virtually zero at times, and giving the nation its own weather talking-point as countries around the world coped with both heat and horror.
In Myanmar, at least 10 people were killed and tens of thousands more driven from their homes as the region was drenched by monsoon rain that, in some places, left only the rooftops of houses visible above the rising waters.
Tragedy has also struck 12,500km away in northern California, where wildfire has claimed five lives and entire neighborhoods have been devastated by a blaze that has now destroyed more than 500 buildings and has already continued into its seventh day. The US state has seen temperatures rise to a record 48.9C in the city of Chino.
In Japan, western areas which have already had to withstand floods and landslides earlier this month were hit by a fresh weather crisis, as Typhoon Jongdari struck. Winds of up to 180km an hour were accompanied by torrential rain and travel chaos.
But across the northern hemisphere, the vagaries of the weather have brought something that sounds like a dream but which carries its own threat — record high temperatures.
The perils of extreme heat have been illustrated in Greece, where the worst forest fires in the country’s history have killed 82 people. But they have also been felt in Sweden, hardly a nation used to sweltering temperatures, but now suffering an unprecedented drought and devastating wildfires amid its hottest spell in 250 years.
Meanwhile, in less-than-tropical Germany, farmlands in northern areas have been stripped bare by unrelenting sun, leaving combine harvesters to kick up dust rather than gather up crops. Farmers have voiced concerns that their livelihood is in danger, with talk now turning to whether a natural disaster — which is declared in Germany when 30 percent of the average annual harvest is destroyed — will be called.
There is no respite in immediate sight, either: The World Meteorological Organization has predicted temperatures from Ireland to Scandinavia and the Baltic countries will remain at record levels until early August. Its deputy secretary-general, Elena Manaenkova, has said the heatwave is “consistent with what we expect as a result of climate change caused by greenhouse gas emissions.
It perhaps should not come as a surprise, as the past three years have been the hottest ever recorded on Earth. But as Anders Levermann, a professor at the Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said: “The most important question is ‘Will we see this more often if we don’t reduce carbon emissions?’
“And this question is the one we can say ‘yes’ to.”


Philippine Senators oppose president’s push to lower criminal age to 9

President Rodrigo Duterte speaks in front of housewives and mothers, that participate in the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the provincial government and Duterte's war on drugs at Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga province, Philippines December 22, 2016. (REUTERS)
Updated 23 January 2019
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Philippine Senators oppose president’s push to lower criminal age to 9

  • International organizations have expressed alarm, including UNICEF and Save the Children, while domestic activists said children should be protected from criminals

MANILA: Senators in the Philippines on Tuesday joined activists and child protection groups in condemning a lower house move to reduce the age of criminal liability from 15 to nine, calling it extreme and unjust.
The proposal has President Rodrigo Duterte’s support and is being revived by his Congressional allies, having been filed on his inauguration day in 2016 along with a bid to re-introduce the death penalty — moves touting his crime-busting credentials.
The plan was approved on Monday by the lower house’s justice committee, but still needs several readings before a house vote. It would then require counterpart legislation and approval of the Senate, members of which appear less supportive.
“It is anti-family, anti-poor and simply unjust. Moreover, it will promote a heartless and ruthless society that has no regard for its own people,” said Antonio Trillanes, one of Duterte’s biggest critics.
Risa Hontiveros said the idea went against Philippines’ international commitments and a global trend of raising, not lowering, the criminal age.
“Why do we want to slide back to the minimum, or even below the minimum? Is this a race to the bottom?” she told a Senate hearing.
Duterte campaigned aggressively on eliminating crime, drugs and corruption and has said he has since realized they were all on a greater scale than he had imagined.
Despite a war on drugs that has killed thousands of people and graft-related scandals and resignations of his own appointees, Duterte has not lost his lustre among Filipinos, who polls show back his morality-centered approach to law and order.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said nine was too young, but he supported lowering the age “to a certain level.” Joel Villanueva said the bill needed a rethink, to target parents more.
“Children in general have different levels of maturity and discernment,” he added.
International organizations have expressed alarm, including UNICEF and Save the Children, while domestic activists said children should be protected from criminals, not held liable for things they were forced to do.
Agnes Callamard, a United Nations special rapporteur who has frequently locked horns with Duterte, called it a “dangerous and potentially deadly proposal. Just shameful.”
Justice committee chairman Salvador Leachon, however, said the bill was misunderstood, and was rehabilitation-centered, and “pro-children,” with non-compliant parents the ones who would go to jail.
“The point here is there is no punishment,” he told news channel ANC. “It’s rehabilitation, reformative, taking care of the family.”