News Burst 8 August 2020 – Featured News
- Indian customs authorities have seized a container with 740 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, the chemical that caused this week’s deadly blast in Lebanon’s capital. The consignment was imported in 2015 by Amman Chemicals, a company based in Tamil Nadu state, and was confiscated on arrival due to an alleged violation of import rules, a customs official said. “The company has been served a show cause notice and a case was booked,” the official said. P Kumaresan, a partner at Amman Chemicals, declined to comment on the consignment, saying he was in a meeting.
- Some Australian residents of the city of Newcastle, 163 km (101 miles) north of Sydney, have called for a large ammonium nitrate plant, stockpiling up to four times the amount reportedly detonated in Lebanon, to be relocated. Australia’s Orica stores between 6,000 to 12,000 tons of ammonium nitrate (AN), on average, at its Kooragang Island plant in the port of Newcastle, the company said in a statement. The stockpile has led resident groups to campaign for the plant to be relocated, according to several local media reports. “It’s a totally inappropriate place to have such a dangerous material produced and stored, and it’s something we’ve been complaining about for many, many years,” chemical engineer and community campaigner Keith Craig told the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC).
- Pope Francis has appointed six women, including the former treasurer for Britain’s Prince Charles, to the council that oversees Vatican finances, naming them in one fell swoop to some of the most senior roles. Francis has already appointed women as deputy foreign minister, director of the Vatican Museums, and deputy head of the Vatican Press Office, as well as four women as councilors to the Synod of Bishops, which prepares major meetings. The previously all-male Council for the Economy consists of 15 posts. One cardinal is the coordinator and the 14 other posts are divided evenly among members of the clergy and lay people. The seven-member lay portion now consists of six women and one man. Of the six women, two each are from Britain, Spain and Germany. The sole male lay member is Italian. One of the Britons, Leslie Jane Ferrar, was treasurer to Prince Charles from 2015 to 2017 and now holds a number of non-executive and trustee roles, the Vatican said.
- Facebook has objected to a request from Gambia, which has accused Myanmar at the World Court of genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority, to release posts and communications by members of Myanmar’s military and police. The social media giant urged the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday to reject the demand, which it said would violate a US law that bars electronic communication services from disclosing users’ communications. Facebook said the request, made in June, for the release of “all documents and communications” by key military officials and police forces was “extraordinarily broad” and would constitute “special and unbounded access” to accounts. More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017 after a military crackdown that refugees said including mass killings and rape. Rights groups documented killings of civilians and burning of villages. In 2018, U.N. human rights investigators said Facebook had played a key role in spreading hate speech that had fuelled the violence. Facebook has said it is working to block hate speech.
- Malaysia was criticized Tuesday for abandoning plans to introduce legislation that would have punished its firms operating in neighboring Indonesia if they are found to have caused smog-belching forest fires. Massive blazes, often started to clear land for palm oil plantations, burn out of control in Indonesia every year, blanketing the region in toxic smoke. Last year’s were the worst since 2015 due to dry weather, with the haze forcing many schools in Indonesia and Malaysia to close and putting the health of millions at risk. Indonesia claimed that fires had blazed out of control on some plantations owned by several Malaysian firms. This prompted the Malaysian government to look at drafting a law that would have punished companies from the country found to have contributed to causing smog-producing fires overseas. But a new administration that took office in March announced Monday it was ditching the plan. Environment Minister Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said officials would instead work with other countries in the region to tackle the problem and pointed to a similar law in Singapore, which has been criticized as ineffective.
- The federal Environment Ministry (Semarnat) of Mexico is pushing for a presidential decree that would ban the use of the herbicide glyphosate although the Ministry of Agriculture may have a different view. Environment Minister Víctor Manuel Toledo told a virtual forum Tuesday that he was hopeful that President López Obrador would issue a decree against glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Monsanto herbicide Roundup, whose effect on human health is hotly contested. He said the aim is to completely eliminate the use of glyphosate by 2024. The environment minister said Semarnat is seeking a ban on a total of 80 herbicides and pesticides due to the harm they cause human health and/or the environment. Toledo said the Environment Ministry is currently working to clean up six highly-contaminated waterways where children have become sick due to exposure to glyphosate.
- Mexico President López Obrador has renewed his proposal that a public consultation be held to decide the fate of a fertilizer plant project in Topolobampo, Sinaloa. During a visit to the northern state on Wednesday, López Obrador acknowledged that local authorities support the US $5-billion ammonia and urea plant project under construction by the company Gas y Petroquímica de Occidente (GPO) but noted that there have been protests against it. “Only with a consultation [can it go ahead]. … It will be difficult because there are protests, there are groups that don’t accept it. The people should be the ones who decide, we can’t impose anything,” the president told reporters in Los Mochis, located 20 kilometers from Topolobampo. López Obrador first called for a consultation on the fertilizer plant in June last year, and said that an investigation would be carried out to determine whether it would “harm or benefit citizens.” Construction of the plant began in August 2018 but a federal judge halted the project in March 2019 due to environmental concerns. The Aquí No (Not Here) Collective has been granted several injunctions that have stalled the project, and has rejected López Obrador’s proposal to hold a public consultation about its future, demanding that he cancel it instead. Many fishermen say the plant will cause irreparable damage to the Santa María, Topolobampo and Ohuira lagoons and restrict the area in which they can work.
- A victim of Jeffery Epstein says the Duke of York being stripped of royal duties is not enough, because he’s still living a ‘privileged and wealthy life’ following his friendship with the disgraced paedophile. The former model who uses the name ‘KiKi’ and claims she was sexually assaulted by Epstein in 2004 at the age of 19, and in February penned an open letter to Prince Andrew urging him to cooperate with the FBI’s probe into the late financier. Speaking to FEMAIL ahead of Crime + Investigation’s Surviving Jeffrey Epstein, she insisted Andrew should be ‘held accountable’ for his friendship with the paedophile, and that it’s ‘ridiculous’ to think being stripped of royal duties is a worthy ‘punishment’.
- At least 17 persons, including the pilot and co-pilot, have been killed after an Air India Express aircraft carrying 190 passengers and crew skidded off the tabletop runway while landing at Kerala’s Kozhikode airport and fell into a 35-feet valley before breaking into two pieces late Friday evening. Malappuram SP has confirmed the death toll. Several passengers have been injured and rushed to a medical facility. Initial reports say the incident took place at around 7.40 pm amid heavy rainfall in the area. The flight IX-1344 from Dubai was part of the Vande Bharat Mission, meant to bring home stranded people across the globe amid Covid-19 pandemic.
- A labourer became a millionaire overnight when he unearthed three diamonds worth Rs 30 lakh to 35 lakh ($~46k) at a diamond mine in Panna district of Madhya Pradesh, India, a senior official said on Thursday. While digging a shallow mine, the labourer, identified only as Subal, found three diamonds with net weight of 7.5 carat, Panna district’s diamond officer R K Pandey said. Experts have valued the precious stones at anywhere between Rs 30 lakh to 35 lakh. The labourer has deposited the stones at the district diamond office and they will be auctioned as per government rules, Pandey said.
- Remarks made by President Trump during a speech have prompted speculation after he referred to having a lot of rich enemies and told the audience, “This may be the last time you’ll see me for a while.” The context of the remarks was an executive order that will mandate U.S. government agencies purchase all essential drugs from American sources. Trump blamed the American political class for the fact that drugs are cheaper to buy in other countries even if they are made by the same company. In terms of who Trump was identifying as his “enemies,” the president made reference to wealthy anonymous “middlemen” who skim profits from pharmaceutical sales. “They are so wealthy. They are so wealthy,” said Trump. “Nobody has any idea who the hell they are or what they do. They make more money than the drug companies. You know, in all fairness, at least the drug companies have to produce a product, and it has to be good product.”
News Burst 8 August 2020 – Bonus IMG
The 2020 Perseid Meteor Shower
Earth is entering a stream of debris from giant comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. If forecasters are correct, the display will peak on the nights of Aug. 11th through Aug. 13th with dozens of meteors per hour. Activity is already picking up; last night NASA’s network of all-sky meteor cameras recorded 16 Perseid fireballs over the USA. A fireball is a very bright meteor, at least as bright as the planets Jupiter or Venus.
No other comet produces fireballs like 109P/Swift-Tuttle–probably a result of its oversized nucleus. The comet’s core is 26 km in diameter, and naturally crumbles into fireball-sized chunks. Since 2008, NASA has counted more fireballs from the Perseids than any other shower.
When should you look? Perseids may be seen at any time after ~10 pm. However, the best time is during the hours just before sunrise when the constellation Perseus is high in the sky. For best results, lie down in a dark place with a wide view of the heavens. Venus, Mars, and the Moon will be there, too. Enjoy the show!
News Burst 8 August 2020 – Bonus Video
Around 10,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate are stored in the “Yuzhny” port in Odessa, at the open-air berth. That is four times more than that, in Beirut.
News Burst 8 August 2020 – Solar Activity
News Burst 8 August 2020 – Active Weather
Satellite images indicate that a broad area of low pressure is forming from a tropical wave centered a couple of hundred miles south-southwest of the Gulf of Tehuantepec. Environmental conditions are forecast to be conducive for further development, and a tropical depression is expected to form in 2 or 3 days while the system moves generally west-northwestward, offshore of southwestern Mexico.
News Burst 8 August 2020 – Earthquakes
August 7 2020
Europe – M4.5 Iceland
Africa – M4.9 Algeria / M6.3 Prince Edward Islands
North America – M3.4 Alaska
Central America – M3.5 Dominican Republic
South America – M5.5 Peru
Asia – M5.5 Kamchatka, Russia
Pacific – M4.6 Gilbert Islands, Kiribati
Deepest EQ – M4.6 552 km South of Fiji Islands
A new study in Nature Astronomy, led by the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian and MIT, suggests that the tools astronomers typically use to decode planetary signals may not be good enough to accurately interpret the new telescope’s data.
Over the next 300 million years, all the Earth’s continents will smash together and form a new supercontinent called Amasia.
Indigenous tribes in the Americas believed in ‘white’ sky gods and passed down stories of visitations from “star family”.
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