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GOP senator calls for Gonzales to be fired

first_imgWASHINGTON – The political pressure is growing against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales now that the first Republican senator has said President George W. Bush should fire him over the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors. The demand came Wednesday from New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu, a longtime critic of the administration’s treatment of civil liberties in the fight against terrorism. It followed days of Democratic calls that Gonzales step down over the Justice Department’s misleading response to the U.S. attorney firings. “I think the president should replace him,” Sununu said. “I think the attorney general should be fired.” The White House reaction was curt – “We’re disappointed, obviously,” spokesman Tony Snow said – but unyielding. The White House sent presidential counsel Fred Fielding to Capitol Hill to negotiate the terms of any testimony by White House aides. The loss of support from a Republican was significant, if not a surprise. Sununu long has criticized the White House over its conduct in the fight against terrorism. Also, he is facing a tough re-election campaign next year in New Hampshire, where voters in 2006 replaced two Republicans with Democrats in the state’s only congressional seats. Sununu said the firings, together with a report last week that criticized the administration’s use of a special kind of subpoena to get personal records in terrorism investigations, shattered his confidence in Gonzales. “We need to have a strong, credible attorney general that has the confidence of Congress and the American people,” Sununu said. “Alberto Gonzales can’t fill that role.” Other Republicans did not endorse the demand. “I don’t believe the attorney general should resign over this,” said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. “I don’t believe his ability to pursue the terrorist threat has been compromised to the extent that he should resign.” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in an interview with The Associated Press while campaigning in Iowa for the GOP nomination for president, said Gonzales shouldn’t be forced out and that he should be given ample time to defend himself. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., predicted that Gonzales would soon be out. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! At a news conference in Mexico, Bush stood by Gonzales, a longtime friend, and defended the firings. “I do have confidence in Attorney General Gonzales,” Bush said. “What Al did and what the Justice Department did was appropriate.” He said what was “mishandled” was the department’s release to Congress of some but not all details of how the firings were carried out. “Al’s got work to do up there,” on Capitol Hill, Bush said. “Mistakes were made. And I’m frankly not happy about them.” Gonzales told reporters he would “work it out” with lawmakers so they understood the situation. Yet even as Bush scolded the department for not being more forthcoming to Congress, his aides sought to protect White House political director Karl Rove and former counsel Harriet Miers from congressional subpoenas about their roles in the firings. The Senate Judiciary Committee was considering seeking subpoenas for Rove, Miers, deputy White House counsel William Kelley and five Justice Department officials. last_img read more

Urban Heat: Can White Roofs Help Cool World’s Warming Cities?

first_imgThis post originally appeared at Yale Environment 360. Summers in the city can be extremely hot — several degrees hotter than in the surrounding countryside. But recent research indicates that it may not have to be that way. The systematic replacement of dark surfaces with white could lower heat wave maximum temperatures by 2° Celsius or more. And with climate change and continued urbanization set to intensify “urban heat islands,” the case for such aggressive local geoengineering to maintain our cool grows.The meteorological phenomenon of the urban heat island has been well known since giant cities began to emerge in the 19th century. The materials that comprise most city buildings and roads reflect much less solar radiation — and absorb more — than the vegetation they have replaced. They radiate some of that energy in the form of heat into the surrounding air.The darker the surface, the more the heating. Fresh asphalt reflects only 4% of sunlight compared to as much as 25% for natural grassland and up to 90% for a white surface such as fresh snow.Most of the roughly 2% of the earth’s land surface covered in urban development suffers from some level of urban heating. New York City averages 1-3° C warmer than the surrounding countryside, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency — and as much as 12° warmer during some evenings. The effect is so pervasive that some climate skeptics have seriously claimed that global warming is merely an illusion created by thousands of once-rural meteorological stations becoming surrounded by urban development. Climate change researchers adjust for such measurement bias, so that claim does not stand up. Nonetheless, the effect is real and pervasive. So, argues a recent study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, if dark heat-absorbing surfaces are warming our cities, why not negate the effect by installing white roofs and other light-colored surfaces to reflect back the sun’s rays? Cool Roofs Cut Urban Water ConsumptionJunk Science and the Heat-Island EffectDo Green Roofs Temper Urban Heat?Los Angeles Lightens Streets in Bid to Stay CoolDenver’s Green Roof Ordinance Kicks In Rural areas also could benefitBut it may not just be urban areas that could benefit from a whitewashing. Seneviratne and her team proposed that farmers could cool rural areas, too, by altering farming methods. Different methods might work in different regions with different farming systems. And while the percentage changes in reflectivity that are possible might be less than in urban settings, if applied over large areas, she argues that they could have significant effects.Los Angeles has coated several streets in a light gray paint to reduce road-top temperatures by as much as 10 Fahrenheit. (Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services)In Europe, grain fields are almost always plowed soon after harvesting, leaving a dark surface of soil to absorb the sun’s rays throughout the winter. But if the land remained unplowed, the lightly colored stubble left on the fields after harvesting would reflect about 30% percent of sunlight, compared to only 20% from a cleared field. It sounds like a relatively trivial difference, but over large areas of cropland this could reduce temperatures in some rural areas on sunny days by as much as 2° C, Seneviratne’s colleague Edouard Davin has calculated.In North America, early plowing is much less common. But Peter Irvine, a climate and geoengineering researcher at Harvard University, has suggested that crops themselves could be chosen for their ability to reflect sunlight. For instance, in Europe, a grain like barley, which reflects 23% of sunlight, could be replaced by sugar beet, an economically comparable crop, which reflects 26%. Sometimes, farmers could simply choose more reflective varieties of their preferred crops.Again, the difference sounds marginal. But since croplands cover more than 10% of the earth’s land surface, roughly five times more than urban areas, the potential may be considerable. RELATED ARTICLES Cooler temperatures could save livesDuring summer heat waves, when the sun beats down from unclouded skies, the creation of lighter land surfaces “could help to lower extreme temperatures… by up to 2° or 3° Celsius” in much of Europe, North America, and Asia, says Sonia Seneviratne, who studies land-climate dynamics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, and is co-author of the new study. It could save lives, she argues, and the hotter it becomes, the stronger the effect.Seneviratne is not alone in making the case for boosting reflectivity. There are many small-scale initiatives in cities to make roof surfaces more reflective. New York, for instance, introduced rules on white roofs into its building codes as long ago as 2012. Volunteers have taken white paint to nearly 7 million square feet of tar roofs in the city, though that is still only about 1% of the potential roof area.Chicago is trying something similar, and last year Los Angeles began a program to paint asphalt road surfaces with light gray paint. Outside the United States, cool-roof initiatives in cities such as Melbourne, Australia, are largely limited to encouraging owners to cool individual buildings for the benefit of their occupants, rather than trying to cool cities or neighborhoods.The evidence of such small-scale programs remains anecdotal. But now studies around the world are accumulating evidence that the benefits of turning those 1 percents into 100 percents could be transformative and could save many lives every year.Keith Oleson of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado looked at what might happen if every roof in large cities around the world were painted white, raising their reflectivity — known to climate scientists as albedo — from a typical 32% today to 90%. He found that it would decrease the urban heat island effect by a third — enough to reduce the maximum daytime temperatures by an average of 0.6° C, and more in hot sunny regions such as the Arabian Peninsula and Brazil.Other studies suggest even greater benefits in the U.S. In a 2014 paper, Matei Georgescu of Arizona State University found that “cool roofs” could cut temperatures by up to 1.5° C in California and 1.8° in cities such as Washington, D.C. Urban heat can be a killerThe urban heat island can be a killer. Counter-intuitively, the biggest effects are often at night. Vulnerable people such as the old who are stressed by heat during the day badly need the chance to cool down at night. Without that chance, they can succumb to heat stroke and dehydration.New research underlines that temperature peaks can cause a spike in heart attacks. This appears to be what happened during the great European heat wave of 2003, during which some 70,000 people died, mostly in homes without air conditioning. Doctors said the killer was not so much the 40° C daytime temperatures (104° F), but the fact that nights stayed at or above 30° (86° F).Such urban nightmares are likely to happen ever more frequently in the future, both because of the expansion of urban areas and because of climate change.Predicted urban expansion in the U.S. this century “can be expected to raise near-surface temperatures 1-2° C… over large regional swathes of the country,” according to Georgescu’s 2014 paper. Similar threats face other fast-urbanizing parts of the world, including China, India, and Africa, which is expected to increase its urban land area six-fold from 1970 to 2030, “potentially exposing highly vulnerable populations to land use-driven climate change.”Several studies suggest that climate change could itself crank up the urban heat island effect. Richard Betts at Britain’s Met Office Hadley Centre forecasts that it will increase the difference between urban and rural temperatures by up to 30% in some places, notably in the Middle East and South Asia, where deaths during heat waves are already widespread.A combination of rising temperatures and high humidity is already predicted to make parts of the Persian Gulf region the first in the world to become uninhabitable due to climate change. And a study published in February predicted temperatures as much as 10° C hotter in most European cities by century’s end.No wonder the calls to cool cities are growing. Unintended consequencesOn the face of it, such initiatives make good sense as countries struggle to cope with the impacts of climate change. But there are concerns that if large parts of the world adopted such policies to relieve local heat waves, there could be noticeable and perhaps disagreeable impacts on temperature and rainfall in adjacent regions. Sometimes the engineers would only be returning reflectivity to the conditions before urbanization, but even so, it could end up looking like back-door geoengineering.Proponents of local projects such as suppressing urban heat islands say they are only trying to reverse past impacts of inadvertent geoengineering through urbanization and the spread of croplands. Moreover, they argue that local engineering will have only local effects. “If all French farmers were to stop plowing up their fields in summer, the impact on temperatures in Germany would be negligible,” Seneviratne says.“Local radiative management differs from global geoengineering in that it does not aim at effecting global temperatures [and] global effects would be negligible,” she says. “It is “a measure of adaptation.”But things might not always be quite so simple. Reducing local temperatures would, for instance, limit evaporation, and so potentially could reduce rainfall downwind. A modeling study by Irvine found that messing with the reflectivity of larger areas such as deserts could cause a “large reduction in the intensity of the Indian and African monsoons in particular.” But the same study concluded that changing albedo in cities or on farmland would be unlikely to have significant wider effects.What is clear is that tackling urban heat islands by increasing reflectivity would not be enough to ward off climate change. Oleson found that even if every city building roof and stretch of urban pavement in the world were painted white, it would only delay global warming by 11 years. But its potential value in ameliorating the most severe consequences of excess heat in cities could be life-saving. The green and PV optionsAnother option is not to whitewash roofs, but to green them with foliage. This is already being adopted in many cities. In 2016, San Francisco became the first American city to make green roofs compulsory on some new buildings. New York last year announced a $100-million program for cooling neighborhoods with trees. So which is better, a white roof or a “green” roof?Evidence here is fragmentary. But Georgescu found a bigger direct cooling effect from white roofs. Vincenzo Costanzo, now of the University of Reading in England, has reached a similar conclusion for Italian cities. But green roofs may have other benefits. A study in Adelaide, Australia, found that besides delivering cooling in summer, they also act as an insulating layer to keep buildings warmer in winter.There is a third option competing for roof space to take the heat out of cities — covering them in photovoltaic cells. PV cells are dark, and so do not reflect much solar radiation into space. But that is because their business is to capture that energy and convert it into low-carbon electricity.Solar panels “cool daytime temperatures in a way similar to increasing albedo via white roofs,” according to a study by scientists at the University of New South Wales. The research, published in the journal Scientific Reports last year, found that in a city like Sydney, Australia, a city-wide array of solar panels could reduce summer maximum temperatures by up to 1° C.That is the theory, but there are concerns about whether it will always work in practice. Studies into the impact on local temperatures of large solar farms in deserts have produced some contradictory findings. For while they prevent solar rays from reaching the desert surface, they also act as an insulating blanket at night, preventing the desert sands from losing heat. The net warming effect has been dubbed a “solar heat island.”The lesson then is that light, reflective surfaces can have a dramatic impact in cooling the surrounding air — in cities, but in the countryside too. Whitewashed walls, arrays of photovoltaic cells, and stubble-filled fields can all provide local relief during the sweltering decades ahead. But policymakers beware. It doesn’t always work like that. There can be unintended consequences, both on temperature and other aspects of climate, like rainfall. Even local geoengineering needs to be handled with care. Fred Pearce is a freelance author and journalist based in the U.K. He is a contributing writer for Yale Environment 360.last_img read more

Cleveland Browns get ready to WHOOP it up

first_imgHow Myia Health’s Partnership with Mercy Virtua… Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces Amanda Razani Follow the Puck Tags:#Cleveland Browns#featured#Internet of Things#IoT#NFL#top#wearables center_img Some lucky NFL Players were given the opportunity to check out WHOOP straps recently, at the NFL Players Association reps meeting. Ibraheim Campbell, the Cleveland Browns defensive back was so impressed by the gadget that he hasn’t stopped using it since then.“I’ve seen my awareness of myself and how I’m doing increase. It’s been big on my sleep awareness and sleeping habits,” Campbell explains.  See Also: Does sweat hold the key to the future of health wearables?Campbell believes that taking care of his body is extremely important. At 24 years of age, this third-year pro’s role may continue to grow with the Browns.  The 5-foot-11, 208-pound strong safety puts a lot of focus on working out and staying in shape, which is why his interest in technology revolves around devices that help him to better recover.As far as the WHOOP Strap goes, “I don’t take it off,” Campbell declares. “It’s pretty cool.”The WHOOP Strap 2.0 has been named the Official Licensed Recovery Wearable Of The NFLPA. Each NFL player, along with incoming players will receive one, and Campbell has been able to enjoy his early.  The straps measure recovery based on a player’s resting heart rate, sleep and heart rate variability in order for players like Campbell to stay better informed and more prepared for the strain to come.Campbell says he has used other wearable devices too.  He has utilized the MYZONE heart rate monitoring chest strap during offseason to ensure that he’s delivering maximum effort while participating in the City Fitness’ #MyCityMoves challenge in Philadelphia.Browns bullish on techThe Browns also incorporate the Catapult Sports GPS trackers into their routine, to keep track of the players’ workloads.“That’s been helpful, the ability to track your mileage,” Campbell states.Staying in the know about the latest sports gadgetry is a smart play by the Northwestern graduate.  It can pay off well for Campbell during the NFL season, Related Posts Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You…last_img read more

Survivors urge women MPs to pass anti-trafficking Bill

first_imgNearly a dozen survivors of human trafficking wrote to 10 women MPs on Wednesday urging them to support and pass the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018. The survivors appealed to the woman leaders to support the Bill “to ensure safety of women and children… so they do not suffer from violence any more”.The letter was sent to Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Smriti Irani, as well as MPs from Opposition parties, including Jaya Bachchan, Sushmita Dev and Supriya Sule. The anti-trafficking legislation is likely to come up in the Monsoon Session of Parliament, which begins on July 18.“All of us were trafficked from our villages in North and South 24 Parganas of West Bengal to other States, and have either run away from those places or were rescued by the police or NGOs,” read the letter. The survivors said that the Bill’s provision for speedy trials, stricter punishment for traffickers and compensation for victims, would give them hope. The letter said that the survivors, mostly between 16 and 25 years of age, had come together under the banner of Utthan.“Of the hundreds of survivors of human trafficking from the State, very few have got compensation even after intervention of the courts and NGOs… the new Bill provides rehabilitation as a right of the survivor. The Bill also clearly defines what constitutes rehabilitation,” said Kaushik Gupta, an advocate at the Calcutta High Court who has taken up cases of Utthan members. One of the survivors who signed the letter said she faced problems at work and home as she had to often leave to pursue her case. “Unless the trafficker is punished we cannot live peacefully in our homes. We need special courts and a dedicated agency to take care of our cases,” said the survivor, hailing from North 24 Parganas.last_img read more

Skid-busting win over FEU shows Lady Maroons’ ‘step by step’ improvement

first_imgOil plant explodes in Pampanga town LATEST STORIES Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next UP hadn’t beaten Far Eastern U in their last eight meetings but that changed Wednesday in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament.The Lady Maroons were able to secure their first victory against the Lady Tamaraws in five years, 25-18, 20-25, 25-22, 25-20, in another milestone moment.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesUP head coach Godfrey Okumu said the Lady Maroons’ latest victory is a sign that the team is headed in the right direction.“Everything comes with change, our team is changing,” said Okumu. “It’s now how we used to play before, every day we keep on changing and we’re trying to improve step by step.” Panelo on Albayalde stepping down: He has had enough PLAY LIST 01:28Panelo on Albayalde stepping down: He has had enough01:283 Maguindanao cops nabbed in drug bust facing dismissal01:14Albayalde says no hand in 2013 Pampanga buy-bust02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss MANILA, Philippines—University of the Philippines has slowly started to rise to prominence in the women’s volleyball landscape for the past three years, but there are still teams that the Lady Maroons have yet to beat well until now.ADVERTISEMENT Work in progress: Lady Eagles still working on maturity, consistency PDEA chief backs Robredo in revealing ‘discoveries’ on drug war Private companies step in to help SEA Games hostingcenter_img Urgent reply from Philippine ‍football chief SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte “It’s a good thing that we’re able to achieve this first win after so many years.”For a bit of perspective, the Lady Maroons still had Kathy Bersola, Nicole Tiamzon, Pia Gaiser, and Angeli Araneta the last time they owned FEU.Bersola led the Lady Maroons in that victory with 20 points and Tiamzon, who was known as one of the better spikers in her last years with UP, dished out 32 excellent sets as the Lady Maroons’ setter.FEU had a rookie Bernadeth Pons score 22 points for the Lady Tamaraws who still had Marie Toni Basas, the older sister of Toni Rose, Gizelle Sy, and Geneveve Casugod.“This is something we’ll take home and celebrate over,” said Okumu. “I hope when we meet them again the results would be the same.”ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View commentslast_img read more

HEART Assists Persons with Mild Intellectual Disabilities

first_imgStory Highlights The goal of the programme is to improve the personal, professional and social capacity of persons with mild intellectual disabilities, through profiling participants’ skills, developing their potential, supporting them with a job coach, and guiding their progression into employment. Some 152 young persons with mild intellectual disabilities are being assisted with personal and professional development skills, through the Empowerment Programme of the Youth Services Division of the HEART Trust/NTA. Since 2014, over 300 persons have benefitted from the programme. Persons who are interested in being a part of the programme in 2018 can contact the Youth Services Division of the HEART Trust/NTA at 754-9816-8. Some 152 young persons with mild intellectual disabilities are being assisted with personal and professional development skills, through the Empowerment Programme of the Youth Services Division of the HEART Trust/NTA.The programme which started in 2014, is a seven-month initiative consisting of a three week non-residential camp, followed by six months of supported work experience.The goal of the programme is to improve the personal, professional and social capacity of persons with mild intellectual disabilities, through profiling participants’ skills, developing their potential, supporting them with a job coach, and guiding their progression into employment.Director of Communications and Marketing at the Youth Services Division of the HEART Trust/NTA, Julia Smiley Green, tells JIS News that the target group is between 17 and 35 years of age.She points out that the programme arose out of a need to cater more specifically to persons in the community who are living with disabilities.“We believe that all young people should be empowered regardless of their status. Once they fall within the age cohort that we cater to, then we believe that we should be generating programmes that can meet their needs in a targeted way,” Mrs. Smiley Green says.She notes that many in society do not readily accept persons with disabilities, particularly in the world of work.“So, the idea behind the programme is to get members of the general public as well as our employers specifically, to understand that even though these persons might have a disability, they too have a contribution to make productively to our society,” the Director says.Mrs. Smiley Green tells JIS News that the Division encourages persons to have an open mind, and not to come to the programme with a perception that persons with disabilities are not able to contribute.“Yes, they may need a little more guidance and attention than the average person, but what we find is that in working with them, we realise that they too have their meaningful contribution to make. They may not contribute in the same way as other persons, but once they are exposed, once they are given the opportunity and of course with the training and support we provide, they are able to effectively contribute in the organisations,” she argues.Mrs. Smiley Green notes that the programme has received positive reviews from employers who have engaged the participants.“They would admit that initially, they would have been hesitant but they are very impressed with the performance of our participants so far. Because they have come in, they have performed well and they have not shied away from any duty. If they need assistance they are always willing to ask for it, and they adapt well to the task they are given to complete,” she says.“Even so, we find that some of the employers are even considering whether at the end of the six-month placement period they could engage them, maybe not on a fulltime basis, based on the scope of the organisation. But consideration is being given to engage some of them on a part-time basis, because that is how valuable their contribution has been,” Mrs Smiley Green adds.Even though there is an application process for the programme, consultations are also held with schools and organisations that target persons with disabilities, to assist in identifying some of these persons.When applying to take part in the programme, persons are required to bring along one passport size photo, copy of their Tax Registration Number (TRN), copy of their birth certificate, a Valid ID and a copy of their NIS number.During the training phase of the programme, areas such as employability skills, employee rights and interpersonal skills are explored.Participants are also given a stipend of $5,600 per week during the work experience component of programme, which is paid fortnightly.Meanwhile, Mrs. Smiley Green tells JIS News that the programme has been receiving support from both the private and public sectors.“We find that in terms of placement, more private sector companies are offering to take our participants. But generally speaking, we find that once the participants go into these companies, they are usually very impressive in what they do and that has aided our partners in realising how important it is to partner with us for that programme,” she says.She adds that the programme is always looking for additional partners to “come on board to assist us with not only engaging these persons, but to have them making worthwhile contributions to their organisations.”Since 2014, over 300 persons have benefitted from the programme. Persons who are interested in being a part of the programme in 2018 can contact the Youth Services Division of the HEART Trust/NTA at 754-9816-8.last_img read more