Having been born in February 1955, I'm around six months from the landmark age of sixty-five. Strangely, this doesn't fill me with the fear which I felt at the approach of becoming thirty.
by Naddima Hadid
The searing July heatwave that hit Europe last week was made both more likely and more intense by human-induced climate change, scientists say.
A rapid attribution study says that heating added up to 3C to the intensity of the event that scorched the UK, France and the Netherlands.
In France, the heatwave was made at least 10 times and up to 100 times more likely by human activities.
The shorter event in the UK was made at least twice as likely, experts say.
The World Weather Attribution Group has carried out a number of similar studies in recent years to work out the impact of climate change on extreme events.
This new report looks at the July heatwave that saw temperatures soar above 40C in many countries including Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
In Paris, the mercury smashed through a historic high of 40.4C. It beat the record by more than 2 degrees, to the new mark of 42.6C.
In the UK, the heat event only lasted 1-2 days but a new record was set at Cambridge University's botanic garden with 38.7C.
Researchers combined information from both long term temperature observations and climate models to look at how the events would have unfolded with or without the human influence on the climate.
So when they look at France they can say that the chances of having a heatwave like the one that struck last week were made more likely by at least a factor of 10, but could in fact have been up to 100 times.
"We conclude that such an event would have had an extremely small probability to occur (less than about once every 1,000 years) without climate change in France," the study says.
The picture across Europe was the same say researchers.
"Every European heatwave we and others have analysed was found to be made much more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change, so it was not surprising that climate change played a role," said Dr Friederike Otto, acting director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.
"But how much more likely the heatwave is depends very strongly on the event definition: location, season, intensity and duration. This July 2019 heatwave was so extreme over continental Western Europe that the observed magnitudes would have been extremely unlikely without climate change."
The researchers say the intensity of the heatwave was increased by between 1.5 and 3C.
"When I bicycled home from work last week it was still 37.1 degrees," said co-author Dr Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, from KNMI in the Netherlands.
"I would have felt a difference at 34C - you don't need a thermometer anymore to notice a difference."
While the event lasted little more than a day in the UK, the researchers estimate that climate change made it at least twice as likely. The impact on intensity was estimated to be between 1.5 and 2.5C.
The researchers also talk about the likely return period of these events - meaning the chances of having another one of the same magnitude. For Cambridge they estimate it's 30 years.
"A return period of 30 years like in Cambridge, means that every year in the current climate you have about 3% chance of having a heatwave like that," says Dr van Oldenborgh.
"It was much smaller in the old climate and every year that we keep on emitting CO2 the probability of having a heatwave like that will just increase."
One problem that the researchers keep encountering when they carry out these rapid attribution studies is the fact that the climate models they are using underestimate the high temperature observations that are being made in the real world.
"We know for 10 years or so that the models have problems with these relatively short, very intense events," says Geert Jan van Oldenborgh.
"They have been designed to simulate global mean temperatures and large scale heat patterns, they have not been designed to get heatwaves right.
"Everybody now agrees that this needs to be figured out, because the trend in heatwaves is just so much higher than the model trend."
According to the Lebanon newspaper Alwaqat said,Sudanese authorities claimed on Saturday 87 people were killed when security forces attacked a protest on June 3, a figure that prompted demonstrations across the capital as opponents of Sudan’s military rulers dismissed it as far too low, Reuters reported.
Fath al-Rahman Saeed, the head of the investigative committee appointed by the public prosecutor, said members of the security forces fired live ammunition at protesters in Khartoum who were demanding the military cede power.
Reflecting anger at the findings, dozens of protesters chanted slogans against the committee in Khartoum’s Burri district and burned tyres in the street, witnesses said.
Saeed told a news conference three officers had violated orders by moving forces into the sit-in area outside the Defence Ministry, a focal point during protests that led to the ouster of long-time President Omar al-Bashir on April 11.
Saeed said 17 of the 87 people killed were in the square occupied by protesters in the worst bout of violence since Bashir was toppled. He said 168 people were wounded, with 48 of them hit by bullets.
“Some outlaws exploited this gathering and formed another gathering in what is known as the Columbia area, where negative and illegal practices took place,” Saeed said, adding one of the three officers involved ordered his forces to whip protesters.
“It became a security threat, forcing the authorities to make necessary arrangements to clear the area,” Saeed said.
The committee’s findings put the death toll higher than the Health Ministry’s previous estimate of 61. But opposition medics have said 127 people were killed and 400 people wounded.
On Saturday night, police fired tear gas and stun grenades at hundreds of protesters in the neighborhoods of Burri and Riyadh and on Sitteen Street, a Reuters witness said.
“The martyr’s blood is not gone! We wear it as a scarf!” demonstrators chanted as they barricaded roads with concrete slabs and torched tyres, and smoke billowed over the neighborhoods.
Protesters also took to the streets across the Nile River in Khartoum’s twin city of Omdurman and in Khartoum North, witnesses said. Hundreds also demonstrated in Haj Youssef, a working class district of Khartoum where heavy clouds of tear gas filled the air.
Unlike at previous protests, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, headed by the military council’s deputy, and National Security and Intelligence Agency personnel were not seen.
“The findings of this committee represent a shock to the Sudanese street and the regional and international communities,” said Ismail al-Taj, a leader in the Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA), part of the opposition coalition.
“Reality says that there are closer to 130 martyrs,” Taj said, adding that the committee relied on Health Ministry records, which he said were inaccurate.
But he said the committee’s assessment would not affect the political process.
The opposition Forces of Freedom and Change is negotiating with the ruling military council to finalise an agreement for a three-year transition to elections. The two sides signed a deal on July 17 determining the transition’s institutions.
Negotiators traveled on Saturday to Juba, the capital of South Sudan which seceded from Sudan in 2011, to work on a constitutional declaration to determine the role of a new council to run Sudan. Direct talks are expected on Sunday.
After the Juba talks, state news agency SUNA said the military council reached an agreement with the wing of the armed Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North headed by Malik Agar.
The council and the armed group agreed on “amnesty for all political detainees, dropping death sentences handed in absentia against leaders of armed movements, as well as opening paths and corridors to deliver humanitarian aid to war-affected people in conflict zones,” SUNA said. They also renewed a cessation of hostilities agreement.
Talks with the SPLM-N’s wing headed by Abdelaziz al-Helew will continue, SUNA said.
The investigative committee into the June 3 violence found some members of a joint force tasked with clearing the Columbia area “exceeded their duties and entered the sit-in square ... and fired heavily and randomly”.
Saeed gave the ranks and initials of eight officers charged with crimes against humanity, which is punishable by death or life imprisonment under military law. He did not give full names.
A brigadier general, referred to as A. A. M., mobilized a riot force of the Rapid Support Forces, on the orders of two senior officers but not members of Sudan’s top leadership, and told them to whip protesters, Saeed said.
Saeed said the committee had not uncovered any incidents of rape, although U.S.-based Physicians for Human Rights cited local medics as saying women had their clothes torn off and were raped.
It was not possible for Reuters to independently verify the reports of rape. Activists say Sudanese women are reluctant to publicly say they were raped to avoid social sigma.
Sudan’s military council, which took power after former military officer Bashir was deposed, has previously denied any rape took place.
Ramallah, July 28, 2019, SPA --
Israeli forces early Sunday detained 11 Palestinians in various West Bank cities, according to a Palestinian source.
A statement by the Palestinian Prisoners Society said that the Israeli army stormed the cities of Qalqilya, Nablus, Tulkarem and Hebron and arrested the locals, under the pretext they are wanted by authorities.
Taif, July 28, 2019, SPA --
The 13th edition of Okaz Souk Festival will host 11 Arab countries to share their cultural and social heritage within "Arab Neighborhood" event, which includes pavilions of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Morocco.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will participate with the largest pavilion of up to 6,000 square meters. It includes a wide range of exhibits that reflect the diverse cultural and historical reserve of the Kingdom's regions.
"Arab Neighborhood" offers a platform for live shows, museums, an exhibition of fine arts and photography, a library, an open cultural square, workshop halls and a wide range of shops, restaurants and cafes.
"Arab Neighborhood" also brings visitors of Souk Okaz to 13 capitals of the Arab countries participating in a wonderful journey through their historical and cultural pavilions, popular markets and unique products, as well as experiencing the atmosphere of restaurants and cafes in those countries.
Riyadh, July 28, 2019, SPA
The Saudi Journalists Association has announced the first Saudi Media Forum under the slogan Media Industry: Opportunities and Challenges, and the launching of the Saudi Media Award to take place in conjunction with the forum to be held by the end of November 2019.
The Saudi Media Forum aims to provide the opportunity for Saudi media professionals and other prominent Arab and foreign media figures to meet and discuss the development and challenges facing the industry.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of Saudi Journalists Association Khalid Al-Malik said the forum is one of the association’s initiatives that is set to become an annual event to cement Riyadh’s name as the Arab Media Capital and will also boost the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s reputation as a leading country in the global political and economic arena.
He added that this forum will open the way for further discussions, put forward views about the media industry in general and create dialogue with others to better understand global and regional practices.
Written Nadeemy Haded
Turbulence injures 37 on Air Canada flight to Sydney
At least 37 people were injured on board an Air Canada flight after the plane hit severe turbulence and had to make an emergency landing.
The plane, carrying 284 passengers and crew, was travelling from Vancouver to Sydney but was diverted to Hawaii.
Thirty people were taken to hospital in Honolulu on Thursday. Nine had severe injuries, officials said.
Air Canada said the Boeing 777-200 jet "encountered sudden clear air turbulence... two hours past Hawaii".
Passengers reported the cabin being bloodied and dented from passengers hitting the ceiling of the aircraft.
"We all hit the roof and everything fell down," Jess Smith told local TV station KHON. "People went flying."
Alex Macdonald, from Brisbane, told Canadian broadcaster CBC News that those on board were "extremely shocked".
"I saw the people ahead of me hitting the overhead baggage compartments and then just slamming back into their seats," she said.
Photographs taken inside the aircraft show that oxygen masks were released and service trolleys thrown over during the incident. An Instagram post from one passenger showed he and others wearing neck braces in the airport.
An Australian country band, Hurricane Fall, were also on the flight at the time. The band said in a Facebook post that their vocalist had sustained injuries to his arm and elbow but had been released from hospital.
The plane landed in Hawaii at 06:46 local time (16:46 GMT) on Thursday.
In a statement to the BBC at 23:00 local time (09:00 GMT Friday) Air Canada confirmed that all of those injured had been assessed, treated and released by local hospitals.
The airline said all passengers from the flight had been accommodated in local hotels, with the flight planned to resume later on Friday.