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FEATURE

Bella Gaia





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A unforgettable video by director and composer, Kenji Williams, compiling views from NASA and other sources of the Bella Gaia, the beautiful Earth.


The video was supported by NASA, the Baum Foundation, the Foundation for Global Community, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and is a production of Remedy Arts, LLC.

Please share this wonderful and unique view of the Earth and its environment.

FEATURE

Global Temperature in 2015





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Fig. 1. Global surface temperatures relative to 1951-1980 in the GISTEMP analysis
by James Hansen[a], Makiko Satoa, Reto Ruedy[b],[c] Gavin A. Schmidtc, Ken Lob,c

Source: Earth Sciences Institute, Columbia University

Abstract. Global surface temperature in 2015 was +0.87°C (~1.6°F) warmer than the 1951-1980 base period in the GISTEMP analysis, making 2015 the warmest year in the period of instrumental data. The 2015 temperature was boosted by a strong El Niño, nearly of the same strength as the 1998 “El Niño of the century”. The updated global temperature record makes it clear that there was no global warming “hiatus”. Global temperature in 2015 was +1.13 (~2.03°F) relative to the 1880-1920 mean. Accounting for interannual variability, it is fair to say that global warming has now reached ~1°C, almost ~2°F.

FEATURE

Falling Oil Prices Threaten a Key Ally in Fight Against ISIS





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by Janet Ritz

Erbil (Arbil) Citadel of Hewlêr
Iraq's Kurdish Autonomous Region

Photo: Jim Gordon

Qubad Talabani, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government, has issued an urgent warning that falling oil prices, combined with the costs of war and of housing refugees, is threatening the Kurdish Peshmerga's ability to fight ISIS (Daesh).

"The world is focused on the war against ISIS but nobody wins a war bankrupt," Talabani states. "I think this is something the coalition against ISIS really do need to factor into the equation."

The Kurdistan Autonomous Region (KRG), the front line against Daesh (ISIS) in Northern Iraq, which has seen ongoing gains by their Peshmerga with coalition air support, recently cut Daesh's supply line between Mosul and Raqqa. This makes the Peshmerga a key ally in the fight against the Islamic State, and our "boots on the ground" in Northern Iraq. However, as Talabani warns, "The most dangerous impact [of the oil price crash] it can have is on morale. We are getting desertions. People are leaving their posts -- it will increase."

FEATURE

Turning Point: Coordinated Operations in the War on ISIS





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Coordinated military offensives against ISIS have begun in the Middle East. In Iraq, Kurdish Peshmerga, with Special Ops and Coalition support, have begun an attack on an ISIS held city that controls an ISIS supply road. In Syria, Kurdish YPG and YPJ units, also backed by airstrikes and U.S. Special Operations, are attacking a town on their side of the border that controls the same road. Concurrently, Russian backed Syrian forces have taken an airport that ISIS has controlled since 2013. And in the EU, there was a wide sweep with arrests of ISIS linked jihadists.

ISIS is fighting back with booby traps and car bombs, including an attack in Beirut that has killed dozens, with offensives against Kurds in Syria, with, potentially, the downed Russian airplane over the Sinai, with the twin bombings recently in Turkey, and with jihadist planned attacks in Europe. But the war has changed. The Syrian tragedy seems to have come into focus for Russia, Assad and their Hezbollah allies, for the U.S., their Kurdish allies, and for the Iraqi and Syrian Arabs who are fed up with ISIS and who now may be working together.

In Iraq, 7,500 Kurdish Peshmerga, along with U.S. Special Forces and Coalition air support, have moved to retake the town of Sinjar from ISIS. This is significant because the road (called Road 47) that runs through the Yezidi town is ISIS's supply route between their "capital" of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq that ISIS controls.
SINJAR, Iraq — Supported by U.S.-led airstrikes, Kurdish Iraqi troops on Thursday seized part of a highway that is used as a vital supply line for the Islamic State group, a key initial step in a major offensive to retake the strategic town of Sinjar from the militants.
In Syria, the Kurdish YPG and YPJ (the female brigades) have marched on a town of in northeastern Syria to cut off the same highway on the Syrian side of the border. This will support the march toward Raqqa after their capture of the most of the Syrian northern territories. This is the Kurdish group that recently received U.S. Special Forces trainers and support.

FEATURE

RFK's 1968 Gun Control Speech in Roseburg, Oregon





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by Janet Ritz

RFK on the campaign trail
in Oregon, 1968
In May 25, 1968, ten days before he would be assassinated in California, democratic candidate, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, called for gun control in Roseburg, Oregon, the site of this country's latest school massacre.

The 1968 British television news magazine, 24 hours, hosted by Cliff Michelmore, gave context to RFK's speech on gun control and reported how he was heckled in Roseburg by protestors who held signs that read: "Protect your right to keep and bear arms." (This was the NRA slogan that earned ridicule from gun control advocates with signs in response that read: Protect your right to keep and arm bears").

"Ever since his brother's death," Michelmore explained, "Robert Kennedy and all his family have been particularly aware of the violence of American society and the ease with which Americans obtain guns."

An excerpt from the 24 Hours program:

Walter Cronkite reported on the same speech in his nightly news broadcast where RFK highlighted the lack of controls on guns purchased through mail order. 

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