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Rebuilding Ecuador, New Dollar Bills, Culling Gulls

Rebuilding Ecuador, New Dollar Bills, Culling Gulls


Photo: Guillermo Granja/Reuters/ZUMA

The death toll in Ecuador after Saturday's magnitude-7.8 earthquake continues to rise and now stands at 570, with hundreds more still missing and as many as 4,000 wounded. And with the extensive damage the quake caused, estimated at $3 billion, authorities unveiled yesterday a new series of measures aimed at financing the reconstruction work. Among the measures introduced by President Rafael Correa is a one-time 0.9% tax for people who own more than $1 million in assets. "This is how a modern society responds to this kind of disaster and the way each Ecuadorian, within his ability, contributes to the recovery of his own motherland," Correa said.


A significant explosion rocked a petrochemical plant on the southern coast of the Gulf of Mexico yesterday, killing three workers and wounding at least 105 people, including 58 workers. According to AP, the blast was felt as far as six miles away. About 2,000 people living in the surrounding areas have been evacuated.


The Yorkshire Post wished Queen Elizabeth II a "happy birthday ma'am" on today's front page as the monarch turns 90. The Leeds-based daily chose one of three pictures taken for the occasion by acclaimed American photographer Annie Leibovitz. The queen is standing on the steps of Windsor Castle with four of her dogs. See the images here.


And happy 69th, Iggy! That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.


The United Nations' Refugee Agency said yesterday that up to 500 migrants died in the Mediterranean Sea last week. If the death toll is as high as believed, it is the worst such tragedy of the last 12 months. According to some of the 41 survivors, who were sailing from Libya, smugglers were transferring the migrants onto a larger boat when it went down. The survivors drifted at sea until they were rescued by a merchant ship, possibly three days later. Read more from The New York Times.


An international team of scientists have shown that close to 2.2 billion people living in tropical and subtropical regions around the globe are at risk, as their environments favor the spread of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.


After his tense visit to Saudi Arabia yesterday. U.S. President Barack Obama will now travel to London, where he is expected to urge British voters to stay in the European Union ahead of the country's June 23 referendum. A victory for Brexit, Obama will argue, would jeopardize the special relationship between Britain and the U.S as well as diminish the country's influence. It's an argument that London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is campaigning to leave the EU, recently described as an "outrageous and exorbitant hypocrisy."


The flame of this summer's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro was lit this morning in Athens. Over the next week, athletes will carry the torch around Greece, before it heads to Brazil on April 27. As many as 12,000 runners will relay the flame across Brazil before it reaches Rio for the opening ceremony on Aug. 5. Read more about the Olympic flame's history here.


In America Economia, a Latin American consultant argues that excellence is an end unto itself, something that often gets lost in the pursuit of business. "The reality is that a truly awful carpenter makes tables, a mediocre carpenter makes tables, and an excellent carpenter makes excellent tables, typically with the same supplies in the same amount of time and with the same restrictions," Daniel Mordecki Pupko writes. "Excellence is not the result of the amount of effort or intensity of effort — not even the suffering that produces the effort, even if it reaches heroic levels."

Read the full article, A Rumination On Excellence (Or Why Mediocrity Often Wins).


"We would never leave our parents, country and leader Kim Jong-un," a tearful North Korean waitress told CNN, having returned to Pyongyang after she and her colleagues were apparently tricked by their manager into defecting to South Korea.


Japanese officials raided the offices of Mitsubishi Motors, sending the national carmaker's shares plunging after the company admitted that employees had falsified fuel-efficiency data. The manipulation affects about 600,000 vehicles and four different models sold in Japan under the Nissan brand. The carmaker has suspended manufacturing and sales of the models. Read more fromThe Japan Times.


Entrance Examination — Bangkok, 1993


The U.S. Department of Treasury unveiled the new faces of the future $5, $10 and $20 bills yesterday, finally giving women a place in the lineup. But the replacement of Andrew Jackson by former slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill has some Tennesseans concerned.



Even in the small Danish town of Holbæk, officials have resorted to taking out their enemies with a campaign of drone strikes. The target: the eggs of pooping seagulls.

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The Problem With Always Blaming Climate Change For Natural Disasters

Climate change is real, but a closer look at the science shows there are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters. It is important to raise awareness about the long-term impact of global warming, but there's a risk in overstating its role in the latest floods or fires.

People on foot, on bikes, motorcycles, scooters and cars navigate through a flooded street during the day time.

Karachi - People wade through flood water after heavy rain in a southern Pakistani city

Xinhua / ZUMA
Axel Bojanowski


BERLIN — In September, thousands of people lost their lives when dams collapsed during flooding in Libya. Engineers had warned that the dams were structurally unsound.

Two years ago, dozens died in floods in western Germany, a region that had experienced a number of similar floods in earlier centuries, where thousands of houses had been built on the natural floodplain.

Last year saw more than 1,000 people lose their lives during monsoon floods in Pakistan. Studies showed that the impact of flooding in the region was exacerbated by the proximity of human settlements, the outdated river management system, high poverty rates and political instability in Pakistan.

There are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters, but one dominates the headlines: climate change. That is because of so-called attribution studies, which are published very quickly after these disasters to highlight how human-caused climate change contributes to extreme weather events. After the flooding in Libya, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described climate change as a “serial offender," while the Tageszeitung wrote that “the climate crisis has exacerbated the extreme rainfall."

The World Weather Attribution initiative (WWA) has once again achieved its aim of using “real-time analysis” to draw attention to the issue: on its website, the institute says its goal is to “analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events." Frederike Otto, who works on attribution studies for the WWA, says these reports help to underscore the urgent need for climate action. They transform climate change from an “abstract threat into a concrete one."

In the immediate aftermath of a weather-related disaster, teams of researchers rush to put together attribution studies – “so that they are ready within the same news cycle," as the New York Times reported. However, these attribution studies do not meet normal scientific standards, as they are published without going through the peer-review process that would be undertaken before publication in a specialist scientific journal. And that creates problems.

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