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September 3, 2015

Study estimates Earth has over three trillion trees

Study estimates Earth has over three trillion trees

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

A study published yesterday by Nature estimates the global tree population at just over three trillion. Previous work estimated the total at 400 billion.

A young tree in Saudi Arabia
Image: Francisco Anzola.

The international research, led by Yale University in the US, used satellite images to examine over 400,000 plots of land for estimated tree density. Subarctic regions of Scandinavia, Russia, and North America had the highest densities but the largest forested areas were tropical. The study puts 43% of trees in the tropics, where deforestation is particularly common.

The study also claims the number has been cut by human activity from around six trillion 12,000 years ago. Lead researcher Thomas Crowther said “We have nearly halved the number of trees on the planet, and we have seen the impacts on climate and human health as a result. This study highlights how much more effort is needed if we are to restore healthy forests worldwide.” Crowther was “surprised” to come up with a number as high as the trillions.

The study was made at the request of a United Nations project which wanted an estimate on which to base reforestation targets. As well as numbers and distribution the study looks at what factors might control the density of trees in any given area, such as soil type. The study suggests trees outnumber humans by around 422 to one.

“It’s not like we’ve discovered a load of new trees; it’s not like we’ve discovered a load of new carbon”, cautioned Crowther, speaking to the BBC. “So, it’s not good news for the world or bad news that we’ve produced this new number.” He says the estimate is valuable for lawmakers, academics, and the general public.



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December 3, 2012

Qatar announces to produce solar cells next year

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Monday, December 3, 2012

The desert in Qatar – enough sand and material to produce silicon
Image: w:User:Diliff, Wikipedia.

Solar cells produce electricity directly from sunlight
Image: w:United States Department of Energy.

On December 1 the government of Qatar announced on the website of the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 18) that it’ll start production of solar cells in 2013. A Speaker of Qatar Solar Technologies said an investment of one billion US-Dollar will be necessary. The contract with Investment-Bank Masraf Al Rayan to finance this project was signed on May 29, 2012. Within the next few years, the country will receive 20% of its energy from photovoltaic to reach the goal of a low carbon future. The conference opened in Qatar’s capital in Doha on November 26, 2012.

International newspapers have been criticizing that this year the United Nations Climate Change Conference is taking place only in the country with the highest carbon dioxide emissions. For two decades Qatar has had the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions in the world, at 49.1 metric tons per person in 2008. This was about 60 per cent more than one of the next highest per-capita emitting country, which was Kuwait at 30.7 metric tons, and more than double of the emissions of people in the United States. Qatar’s carbon dioxide emissions have raised up to 55.4 tons per person in the meantime.

Oil and gas still account for 85% of export earnings and 70% of government revenues in Qatar. Qatar’s proved reserves of natural gas are nearly 26 trillion cubic metres, about 14% of the world total and the third largest in the world.

Experts of Qatar Solar Technologies have calculated that production cost of solar cells will amortisize energetically within one year because of the solar radiation in the Middle East. They prefer polycrystalline silicon which is made from cast square ingots — large blocks of molten silicon carefully cooled and solidified. The time to crystallize is shorter and may include used cells during the process so that polycrystalline cells are less expensive to produce. Silicon is most widely distributed in sands as the most common various form of silicon dioxide (silica). Over 90% of the Earth’s crust is composed of silicate minerals.



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Qatar anounces to produce solar cells next year

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Monday, December 3, 2012

The desert in Qatar – enough sand and material to produce silicon
Image: w:User:Diliff, Wikipedia.

Solar cells produce electricity directly from sunlight
Image: w:United States Department of Energy.

On December 1 the government of Qatar anounced that it will start production of solar cells in 2013. It is said that an investment of one billion US-Dollar will be necessary. The contract to finance this project was already signed May 29, 2012. Within the next few years the country will receive 20 per cent of its energy from photovoltaic to reach the goal of a low carbon future.

International newspapers have been criticizing that the 2012 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 18) is taking place just in the country with the highest carbon dioxide emissions. This conference opened in Qatar’s capital in Doha on November 26, 2012. For two decades Qatar has had the highest per-capita carbon dioxide emissions in the world, at 49.1 metric tons per person in 2008. This was about 60 per cent more than one of the next highest per-capita emitting country, which was Kuwait at 30.7 metric tons, and more than double of the emissions of people in the United States. Qatar’s carbon dioxide emissions have raised up to 55.4 tons per person in the meantime.

Oil and gas still account for 85 per cent of export earnings and 70 per cent of government revenues in Qatar. Qatar’s proved reserves of natural gas are nearly 26 trillion cubic metres, about 14 per cent of the world total and the third largest in the world.

A Speaker of Qatar Solar Technologies said that production cost of solar cells will amortisize within one year because of the solar radiation in the Middle East. They prefer polycrystalline silicon which is made from cast square ingots — large blocks of molten silicon carefully cooled and solidified. The time to cristallize is shorter and may include used cells during the process so that polycrystalline cells are less expensive to produce. Silicon is most widely distributed in sands as the most common various form of silicon dioxide (silica). Over 90% of the Earth’s crust is composed of silicate minerals.



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November 10, 2012

Seventeen soldiers die in Turkey helicopter crash

Seventeen soldiers die in Turkey helicopter crash

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Seventeen soldiers have died today as the result of a helicopter crash in Turkey’s southeastern Siirt Province, Governor Ahmed Aydin has said. The provincial governor added that the fatalities belonged to Turkish special forces.

Investigations into the crash are ongoing, although Governor Ahmed Aydin has said the aircraft hit Herekol mountain as it travelled through heavy fog.

The soldiers were reportedly on their way to deployment against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The PKK seeks to increase rights for Kurdish citizens and gain autonomy in the southeast of Turkey, which is a predominantly Kurdish area. The Turkish Government have been fighting with the PKK for decades.

Kurdish militants, though active in this part of Turkey, do not appear to have played any part in the crash.



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November 8, 2012

Puerto Rican voters support US statehood

Puerto Rican voters support US statehood

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

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For the first time in the US territory’s history, voters in Puerto Rico apparently supported statehood in a non-binding referendum on Tuesday. The outcome, however, remains uncertain as various politicians interpret the referendum results differently.

Puerto Ricans were previously asked to vote on their political status in 1967, 1993, and 1998. Supporters of statehood did not win a majority in any of those votes. Spain ceded control over the territory to the United States in 1898 following the Spanish-American War. Puerto Ricans were granted US citizenship in 1917, but residents cannot vote in presidential or Senate elections. They have only limited representation in the House of Representatives. Since 1952 the island has been a commonwealth, a self-governing unincorporated territory. Puerto Ricans currently do not pay federal income tax, but they are charged payments to Social Security and are eligible for federal welfare benefits.

Kenneth McClintock, Puerto Rico’s Secretary of State, said economic factors and a declining population contributed to the push for statehood. The federal government currently sends millions of dollars per year to Puerto Rico in social aid, where income per person is only half that of any state. Puerto Ricans have been moving from the island to the mainland United States, where 58 percent of Puerto Ricans now reside. “I think people just came to realize that the current relationship simply does not create the number of jobs that we need,” said McClintock.

The ballot measure, which coincided with the general election held throughout the United States, was split into two parts. The first question asked whether the voters preferred to maintain the current political status of Puerto Rico. 54 percent — over 900,000 people — voted against the current commonwealth status.

Independent of the first question, voters were then asked to choose from three options: statehood, independence, or semi-autonomous “sovereign free association”. Of those who made a choice, 61 percent supported statehood, 33 percent supported “sovereign free association”, and 6 percent supported independence.

Nearly 500,000 people, or a third of those voting, declined to answer this second question, making it difficult to interpret the results. Moreover, the pro-statehood governor — one of the most prominent advocates for statehood — lost his bid for reelection. Governor-elect Garcia Padilla, in favor of maintaining the current commonwealth status, pledged to convene a constitutional assembly to address the matter in 2014. Another referendum would follow with support from the US Congress, whose approval is needed for Puerto Rico to become a state.



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Indian flooding displaces thousands

Indian flooding displaces thousands – Wikinews, the free news source

Indian flooding displaces thousands

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tens of thousands have been displaced and at least 25 people killed in southern India due to torrential rains and heavy flooding during the last week.

According to officials in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, almost 100,000 people have been forced to leave their homes due to severe weather, with 95,000 people in government-run relief camps. The districts of Visakhapatnam, East and West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur and Khammam were hardest hit. So far, 25 people have died in the state as a result of the torrential rains and heavy flooding. An additional 15 people were killed in the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu.

The weather has significantly disrupted normal life as well as traffic. When the flood waters recede, farmers in the region may also see that almost all their crops were destroyed by the flooding.

“The unseasonal rainfall has destroyed our crops and our entire field is submerged in water,” says Arku Rajaipa, a farmer in Gunthur district. He also said that his family would be forced to rely on the government for food for the rest of the year.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has offered federal support for the affected areas and contacted the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.



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July 1, 2012

Former Israeli Prime-minister Yitzhak Shamir dies at age 96

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Yitzhak Shamir, 1915 – 2012

Yitzhak Shamir, Prime-minister of Israel died on saturday at a nursing home in Tel Aviv at the age of 96. The cause of death was announced as alzheimer’s disease. Shamir was born Icchak Jaziernicki on October 15, 1915 in Ruzhany, Belarus. he was prime minister from 20 October 1986 to 13 July 1992.

Although Shamir had a reputation as a Likud hard-liner, in 1977 he presided at the Knesset visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and the peace talks; in 1981 and 1982, as Foreign Minister, he guided negotiations with Egypt to normalize relations after the treaty and directed negotiations which led to the 1983 agreement with Lebanon (subsequently abrogated by the Lebanese Parliament).

His failure to stabilize Israel’s inflationary economy led to an indecisive election in 1984, after which a national unity government was formed between his Likud party and the Alignment led by Shimon Peres. As part of the agreement, Peres held the post of Prime Minister until September 1986, when Shamir took over.

As he prepared to reclaim the office of prime minister, which he had held previously from October 1983 to September 1984, Shamir’s hard-line image appeared too moderate. However Shamir remained reluctant to change the status quo in Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors, and blocked Peres’s initiative to promote a regional peace conference as agreed in 1987 with King Hussein of Jordan in what has become known as the London Agreement. Re-elected in 1988, Shamir and Peres formed a new coalition government until 1990, when the Alignment left the government, leaving Shamir with a narrow right-wing coalition.

In 1991 the Shamir government took part in the Madrid peace talks and ordered the rescue of thousands of Ethiopian Jews, known as Operation Solomon. The Shamir government also decided not to retaliate after the Iraqi Scud missile volleys (many of which struck Israeli population centers) during the First Gulf War. The United States urged restraint, saying Israeli attacks would jeopardize the delicate Arab-Western coalition assembled against Iraq. Although long a hard-liner, Shamir left office in 1992, after his government fell amid charges that Likud – by taking part in the Madrid Peace Conference – had effectively agreed to enter negotiations over Palestinian autonomy in the Israeli-occupied territories.

President Shimon Peres stated: “Yitzhak Shamir was a brave warrior for Israel, before and after its inception. He was a great patriot and his enormous contribution will be forever etched in our chronicles. He was loyal to his beliefs and he served his country with the utmost dedication for decades. May he rest in peace.”

his wife Shulamit died in July 2011.

Shamir is survived by two children.



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June 30, 2012

Former Israeli Prime-minister Yitzhak Shamir dies

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Yitzhak Shamir, 1915 – 2012

Yitzhak Shamir and Caspar Weinberger in 1982

Yitzhak Shamir, Prime-minister of Israel has died today at a nursing home in Tel Aviv at the age of 96. The cause of death was announced as alzheimer’s disease. Shamir was born Icchak Jaziernicki on October 15, 1915 in Różana, Belarus. he was prime minister from 20 October 1986 to 13 July 1992.

Although Shamir had a reputation as a Likud hard-liner, in 1977 he presided at the Knesset visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and the peace talks; in 1981 and 1982, as Foreign Minister, he guided negotiations with Egypt to normalize relations after the treaty and directed negotiations which led to the 1983 agreement with Lebanon (subsequently abrogated by the Lebanese Parliament).

His failure to stabilize Israel’s inflationary economy led to an indecisive election in 1984, after which a national unity government was formed between his Likud party and the Alignment led by Shimon Peres. As part of the agreement, Peres held the post of Prime Minister until September 1986, when Shamir took over.

As he prepared to reclaim the office of prime minister, which he had held previously from October 1983 to September 1984, Shamir’s hard-line image appeared too moderate. However Shamir remained reluctant to change the status quo in Israel’s relations with its Arab neighbors, and blocked Peres’s initiative to promote a regional peace conference as agreed in 1987 with King Hussein of Jordan in what has become known as the London Agreement. Re-elected in 1988, Shamir and Peres formed a new coalition government until 1990, when the Alignment left the government, leaving Shamir with a narrow right-wing coalition.

In 1991 the Shamir government took part in the Madrid peace talks and ordered the rescue of thousands of Ethiopian Jews, known as Operation Solomon. The Shamir government also decided not to retaliate after the Iraqi Scud missile volleys (many of which struck Israeli population centers) during the First Gulf War. The United States urged restraint, saying Israeli attacks would jeopardize the delicate Arab-Western coalition assembled against Iraq. Although long a hard-liner, Shamir left office in 1992, after his government fell amid charges that Likud – by taking part in the Madrid Peace Conference – had effectively agreed to enter negotiations over Palestinian autonomy in the Israeli-occupied territories.

President Shimon Peres stated: “Yitzhak Shamir was a brave warrior for Israel, before and after its inception. He was a great patriot and his enormous contribution will be forever etched in our chronicles.”

his wife Shulamit died in July 2011.

Shamir is survived by two children.



Sources

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March 5, 2012

UNICEF: An increasing number of children are living in slums

UNICEF: An increasing number of children are living in slums

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Monday, March 5, 2012

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UNICEF published a new report titled, “THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN 2012 — Children in an Urban World”. According to the report, every third city child today lives in a slum and has no access to adequate food, drinking water, education and medical care.

About one billion children and adolescents, and thus half of all children and adolescents, are living in cities. The continuing urbanization makes the cities of the world grow annually by about 60 million people. The needs and rights of children and adolescents are, according to UNICEF, often disregarded and play no significant role in urban planning. In order to give children a voice in urban decision-making processes, UNICEF has worked on the Child-Friendly Cities Initiative.

The report describes the effects of poverty with regard to malnutrition, poor hygiene, educational inequality and vulnerability; social inequality also leads to crime and violence. The infant mortality in poor slums is higher than in some rural areas.

Often between 50 and 80 percent of the income of a family are required for nutrition and access to existing health services; in the cities this is not possible, so diseases such as measles, tuberculosis and other diseases avoidable by vaccination are becoming dangerously prevalent again.

On February 28, 18 countries signed an additional protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that gives children the right to appeal to the United Nations if their human rights have been violated and domestic remedies have been exhausted.



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June 29, 2011

Google introduces the \’+1\’ button

Google introduces the ‘+1’ button – Wikinews, the free news source

Google introduces the ‘+1’ button

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

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On Monday, Google added the “+1” button to its search results. It works similarly to the Facebook “Like” button. Today, Google began planning to add it to text ads, globally known as “AdSense“.

Google Product Manager Nick Radicevic commented at Google’s AdSense blog: “Today, +1’s will start appearing on Google search pages globally. …. We’ll be starting off with sites like google.co.uk, google.de, google.jp and google.fr, then expanding quickly to most other Google search sites soon after.”

Individual websites also can use this feature. People with a Google account can add a “+1” button to their personal websites. If a large number of readers click the button, the site will move closer to the top in Google search results.

Google also plans to eventually add the “+1” button to its text advertisements, globally known as “AdWords“. A user would be able to add rank to an ad and optionally make it available at their Google profile.

Google expects the experiment to be useful to improve search results and to combat poor websites and content farms.



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