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Afghanistan: Suicide bomb death toll rises to 18

The Independent – A bomb that tore through a police headquarters at the heart of British territory in Helmand has left locals terrified for their lives as the death toll rose to 18. There was also speculation that the suicide bombing, which happened just minutes after the Chief of Police General Hakim Angar had passed by, may have been targeted at him. The attack on Sunday came at an ominous time, just a fortnight after the British military handed over control to Afghan forces at Lashkar Gah, which was celebrated as a security success story, and on the eve of Ramadan. Last night General Angar was defiant, pointing out that transition meant they were being deliberately attacked by the Taliban, which claimed responsibility. Read Article

Cancer-stricken WTC worker gets $0 settlement check

New York Post – Cancer-stricken Ground Zero worker Edgar Galvis has finally received a compensation check — for zero dollars. The 51-year-old Queens man, who suffered sinus problems and then throat cancer after months of removing toxic debris from the World Financial Center, was relieved to get a check in the mail for his court settlement with Merrill Lynch, whose offices he had cleaned. But he was stunned when he saw the amount: $0.00. His award had been $10,005, but his lawyers at the firm Worby, Groner, Edelman & Napoli Bern lopped off $2,579 for unitemized legal expenses. Read Article

Syrian tanks occupy Hama square: residents

Reuters – Syrian tanks occupied Orontes Square in central Hama after heavy shelling of the city on Wednesday, resident said. “All communications have been cut off. The regime is using the media focus on the Hosni Mubarak trial to finish off Hama,” one of the residents told Reuters by satellite phone from the city, adding that shelling concentrated on al-Hader district, large parts of which were was razed during a 1982 military assault on Hama that killed thousands. Read Article 

60 Minutes Expose On How US Corporations Avoid Taxes While Citizens Pay Over $1 Trillion A Year

Australia: MP calls for tighter control of Taser use

Sydney Morning Herald – Police guidelines for stun gun use fail to warn against firing at people in the chest – which has been linked to a fatal heart attack. The US Federal Court recently found a Taser fired at the chest was responsible for the death of Darryl Turner, 17. The Greens MP, David Shoebridge, yesterday called on the state government to revise its NSW Police guidelines on Taser use to instruct police against taking aim at the chest. Read Article

HIV epidemics emerging in Middle East, North Africa: study

Reuters – Epidemics of HIV are emerging among gay and bisexual men in the Middle East and North Africa and high levels of risky sexual behavior threaten to spread the AIDS virus further in the region, researchers said Tuesday. In the first study of its kind in a region where homosexuality and bisexuality are taboo, researchers from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar found evidence for concentrated HIV epidemics — where infection rates are above 5 percent in a certain population group — in several countries such as Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan and Tunisia. Read article

Banks in BRICs Signaling Credit Risks as Bad Loans Curb Growth

Bloomberg – Banks in the biggest emerging markets are losing the confidence of investors as loans turn sour after a two-year credit binge. Read Article

Report questions “offshoring” in U.S. heart studies

Reuters – Major U.S.-sponsored clinical trials on heart disease often turn to other countries to recruit patients and a new report questions whether that undermines the evidence they generate and the health of the American clinical trial system. Researchers found that of 24 U.S. taxpayer-funded clinical trials on heart disease in the past decade, 19 included patients from other countries. Across 11 of those studies, international patients accounted for nearly half of participants. That high international involvement raises several concerns, according to Dr. Venu Menon and his colleagues at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Read article

U.S. avoids default but fails to dispel economy fears

(Reuters) – The United States stepped back from the brink of default on Tuesday but congressional approval of a last-gasp deficit-cutting plan failed to dispel fears of a credit downgrade and future tax and spending feuds. Read Article

Vietnam: Army ‘colluding’ in Laos deforestation

BBC – An international lobbying group has accused the Vietnamese army of involvement in the illegal export of timber from neighbouring Laos. Read article

Libya rebels take Zlitan as RAF clears way after two-month struggle

Guardian – Libyan rebels have entered the town of Zlitan after a weekend of heavy fighting in which Nato escalated its bombing campaign in the runup to the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. RAF planes dropped 16 Paveway laser-guided bombs in two days around the town, destroying government tanks, rocket launchers, ammunition dumps and command centres, and clearing a path for the rebels. The Ministry of Defence said RAF jets also attacked a railway construction site at Bani Walid, south-west of Zlitan, commandeered for use as a military fuel distribution facility. Read Article

China police kill two suspects in Xinjiang violence

BBC – Chinese police have shot dead two men suspected of mounting a fatal attack in Xinjiang region on Sunday, the state-run Xinhua news agency reports. The two ethnic Uighur men, Memtieli Tiliwaldi and Turson Hasan, were found hiding in a corn field on the outskirts of the city of Kashgar, Xinhua said. Six people were killed in an attack at a restaurant in Kashgar. Police shot dead five suspects at the scene. A weekend of violence left up to 18 people dead in the restive region. Read Article

Ghana – Oil discovery brings additional challenges on environment

GNA – Elmina, July 26, GNA – The Vice President, John Dramani Mahama, on Tuesday said, the discovery of oil and gas in the country has brought to the fore, additional challenges on the environment, particularly on the coastal landscape. Read article

Climate Fact Of The Day – Observed surface warming induced by urbanization in east China

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 116, D14113, 12 PP., 2011

Observed surface warming induced by urbanization in east China

Authors:
Xuchao Yang – Shanghai Typhoon Institute of China Meteorological Administration, Shanghai
Yiling Hou – Shanghai Climate Center, Shanghai, China
Baode Chen – Shanghai Typhoon Institute of China Meteorological Administration, Shanghai,

Abstract
Monthly mean surface air temperature data from 463 meteorological stations, including those from the 1981–2007 ordinary and national basic reference surface stations in east China and from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction and National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCEP/NCAR) Reanalysis, are used to investigate the effect of rapid urbanization on temperature change. These stations are dynamically classified into six categories, namely, metropolis, large city, medium-sized city, small city, suburban, and rural, using satellite-measured nighttime light imagery and population census data. Both observation minus reanalysis (OMR) and urban minus rural (UMR) methods are utilized to detect surface air temperature change induced by urbanization. With objective and dynamic station classification, the observed and reanalyzed temperature changes over rural areas show good agreement, indicating that the reanalysis can effectively capture regional rural temperature trends.

The trends of urban heat island (UHI) effects, determined using OMR and UMR approaches, are generally consistent and indicate that rapid urbanization has a significant influence on surface warming over east China. Overall, UHI effects contribute 24.2% to regional average warming trends. The strongest effect of urbanization on annual mean surface air temperature trends occurs over the metropolis and large city stations, with corresponding contributions of about 44% and 35% to total warming, respectively. The UHI trends are 0.398°C and 0.26°C decade?1. The most substantial UHI effect occurred after the early 2000s, implying a significant effect of rapid urbanization on surface air temperature change during this period. Read Paper

Australia – Basics have gone bananas

SMH – We’re paying more for essential items but rising inflation is costing more than we realise. DO I hear any advance on $16.99? That’s what my, albeit expensive, greengrocer is charging for bananas. And, unfortunately, they’re one of the few things my fusspot 18 month old will eat. Well, that are actually food. Read Article

Lawyer slams Taser option for asylum seekers

ABC – The Prime Minister has been slammed by a lawyers group for giving the Australian Federal Police “carte blanche” in the use of “potential lethal force” to herd asylum seekers onto aircraft as part of the Government’s so-called Malaysian solution. The Australian Lawyers Alliance says the AFP should not have the power to use Tasers to compel asylum seekers onto planes bound for Kuala Lumpur detention centres. Read Article

15 million hectares of forests destroyed from 2000 to 2009: Forest Watch Indonesia

Jakarta Post – Indonesia lost 15 million hectares of forests from 2000 to 2009, a study conducted by Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) says. “In 2000, Indonesia had 103 million hectares of forest, but only 88 million hectares left in 2009. Therefore, the speed of deforestation during those years was 1.5 million hectares per year,” said FWI executive director Wirendro Sumargo on Wednesday. “That is the fastest tropical deforestation in the world,” he added. Read article

Pockets of high radiation remind of Fukushima plant danger

Reuters – Pockets of lethal levels of radiation have been detected at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in a fresh reminder of the risks faced by workers battling to contain the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) reported on Monday that radiation exceeding 10 sieverts (10,000 millisieverts) per hour was found at the bottom of a ventilation stack standing between two reactors. Read article

Salmonella linked to turkey sickens dozens, one dead in U.S.

Reuters – A multistate outbreak of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella believed to be linked to eating contaminated ground turkey has sickened 77 people and resulted in one known death, U.S. health authorities said. Some 26 states reported the illness between March 1 and August 1, with Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Illinois, California and Pennsylvania reporting the most cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Read article

Small-Scale Land Speculators Contribute to Amazon Deforestation

IPS – Uxbridge, Canada, Jul 28, 2011 (Tierramérica) – Many migrants from southern Brazil who clear forests in Brazil’s state of Amazonas are making their living as small-scale land speculators and not as farmers or as cattle ranchers, new research has found. Read article

Skirmish on Israel-Lebanon border

Reuters –  Israeli and Lebanese soldiers exchange fire across the volatile border between the two countries. Andrew Raven reports.

US to propose ammonium nitrate regulations

AP – More than 15 years after a fertilizer bomb was used to blow up a government building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, the federal government is proposing to regulate the sale and transfer of the chemical ammonium nitrate. The proposal comes nearly four years after Congress gave the Homeland Security Department the authority to develop a program to regulate the compound. Ammonium nitrate is one of the most common farm fertilizers in the world, and instructions for turning it into a bomb are available on the Internet. Its deadly potential was once again realized on July 22, when a Norwegian man allegedly blew up a government building in his country, killing eight people with a bomb that investigators believe was made with ammonium nitrate. Read Article

UK: Charities fight for survival as funding slashed across country

Guardian – More than 2,000 charities are being forced to close services and sack staff as local authorities slash their funding, or in some cases completely withdraw it, according to research published on Tuesday. The study – based on 265 freedom-of-information responses from local councils across England and obtained by the union-backed anti-cuts campaign False Economy – reveals the scale of the impact that cuts are having on the charitable sector. Birmingham city council has cut funding to the largest number of charities, with more than 190 organisations losing out, followed by the cross-council organisation London Councils, which has cut funding to 174 groups. Read Article