Around the World

Extreme Global Weather: ‘the Unprecedented Is the New Normal’

A rising death toll, the catastrophic flooding and destruction of entire neighborhoods, and billions of dollars in property damage. The impact of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the East Coast earlier this week, will be felt for years, both in the United States and in the Caribbean region where it had earlier killed more than 70 people.

Sandy is being called the "Storm of the Century" but floods, droughts, heat waves and storms are only expected to get worse — with every part of the world facing deadlier and costlier weather disasters.

Much of the world has experienced devastating weather conditions this year. Across eastern and western Africa, a one-two punch of severe drought followed by torrential rains resulted in flash flooding and the deaths and displacement of hundreds of thousands. Drought was also the worst it's been in a quarter century in the United States, shriveling corn crops and boosting prices worldwide. And over the last week, typhoon Son-Tinh has wreaked havoc on Southeast Asia, killing dozens and damaging homes and crops.

So what's causing these extreme weather events and their widespread devastation? A special report issued earlier this year by the IPCC — the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — points to a combination of human-caused global warming, shifts in population, and poverty. And though political wrangling over global warming continues in the United States, 7 in 10 Americans now believe in the science behind climate change and how it can alter global weather conditions.

This week, Christiane discusses these weather extremes with Michael Oppenheimer, a professor at Princeton University. He is also one of the authors of the IPCC report.

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  • Iraqi factions hit new delay in forming government

    By Ahmed Rasheed and Maggie Fick BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament failed on Sunday to break a political deadlock that is holding up the formation of a new government to tackle an Islamist-led insurgency raging less than 50 miles (80 km) from Baghdad. After a brief session, parliamentary officials put off until Tuesday efforts to reach agreement between Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish politicians on the posts of prime minister, president and parliamentary speaker. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose State of Law coalition is the largest individual list in parliament, is seeking a third term but faces opposition from Sunnis and Kurds who say he has ruled for the Shi'ite majority at the expense of minority communities.

  • Gazans flee homes as Israel steps up campaign
    Gazans flee homes as Israel steps up campaign

    Israel toughened its campaign against Gaza Sunday, warning Palestinians in the north to flee after marines mounted a ground attack, and diplomatic efforts to halt the bloodshed intensified. Despite increasing calls for a ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there was no end in sight, with the military warning residents of northern Gaza to flee by 0900 GMT. "We are hitting Hamas with growing force," Netanyahu told the weekly cabinet meeting. So far, no Israelis have been killed, although militants in Gaza have pounded the south and centre of the country with more than 630 rockets since the fighting began on July 8 in the biggest confrontation in and around the enclave since 2012.

  • Taliban survivor Malala in Nigeria, pledges to help free girls

    By Abraham Terngu ABUJA (Reuters) - Pakistani rights activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education, has pledged while on a trip to Nigeria to help free a group of school girls abducted by Islamist militants. On Sunday, 16-year-old Malala met with parents of the more than 200 girls who were kidnapped by militant group Boko Haram from a school in the northeastern village of Chibok in April. Boko Haram, a Taliban-inspired movement, say they are fighting to establish an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria. "I can see those girls as my sisters ... and I'm going to speak up for them until they are released," said Malala, who celebrates her 17th birthday on Monday in Nigeria, where she is scheduled to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan.

  • Trump Plaza in Atlantic City to close, adding to city's woes: report

    (Reuters) - The Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City could shut its doors in September and lay off 1,000 workers, a local newspaper reported, in what could make it the fourth casino to close this year in the faltering New Jersey resort city. The Press of Atlantic City said in a story posted online late on Friday that an official from Trump Plaza called New Jersey state Senator Jim Whelan and told him the casino, which is owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts, expected to issue layoff notices on Monday ahead of a Sept. 16 closure. Representatives for Trump Entertainment Resorts, Whelan and a union for the casino's employees did not returns calls. Trump Plaza employs about 1,000 people, according to regulatory reports.

  • Eric Holder Stands By Controversial ‘Nation Of Cowards’ Speech
    Eric Holder Stands By Controversial ‘Nation Of Cowards’ Speech

    In a rare interview covering a wide array of topics, Attorney General Eric Holder said that he would not back away from a controversial speech he gave in 2009 in which he called the United States “a nation of cowards” on the topic of race. In Feb. 2009, in his first speech after taking office, Holder told a crowd gathered at the Justice Department to celebrate Black History Month, “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.” Those remarks led to vigorous and divisive debate, with critics saying that Holder’s idea of openly discussing racial issues involved a one-way conversation led by the attorney general and the Obama administration. In the interview, Holder also reiterated claims he has made in the past that both he and President Obama are treated differently than their predecessors, partially because of their race.

  • U.S. Navy maintains grounding order for F-35 fighter jets

    By Andrea Shalal RAF FAIRFORD England (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy maintained a grounding order for F-35 B-model and C-model fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp, saying it was still not clear what caused a massive engine failure on an Air Force F-35 jet last month. The fleetwide grounding order kept three Marine Corps F-35 B-model jets and one British F-35B from traveling to Britain for widely publicized appearances at two air shows. "At this time, I do not have sufficient information to return the F-35B and F-35C fleet to flight," Vice Admiral David Dunaway, who heads the Navy's Air Systems Command, said in an update to a grounding order issued by U.S. officials on July 3. In the incident on June 23 at a Florida air base, the Pratt & Whitney engine on an Air Force F-35 A-model jet broke apart, pushing through the top of the airplane and catching fire while a pilot was preparing to take off.

  • Iran 'bans fashion show organiser over flag designs'
    Iran 'bans fashion show organiser over flag designs'

    A fashion show organiser in Iran has been banned "until further notice" for staging a catwalk at which models wore variations of the national flag, media reports said Sunday. The House of Fashion hosted the World Cup-themed show in late June to a mixed audience, sending female models down the runway draped in attire based on flag designs, the emblem of the national team and the Asian Cheetah. The company "did not have the authorisation for this show… it will be unable to continue its activities until further notice," Culture and Islamic guidance ministry official Hamid Ghobadi was quoted by the Shargh newspaper as saying. With conservative critics having taken offence to the designs, as well as to the presence of unrelated men at the show, House of Fashion president Javad Shirazi sought to play down the incident.

  • Israel-NYC flight makes safe emergency landing
    Israel-NYC flight makes safe emergency landing

    NEW YORK (AP) — A New York-bound Delta Air Lines flight from Israel declared an emergency and returned to Tel Aviv early Sunday after developing a mechanical problem, vexing passengers already on edge as Palestinian militants launched rocket attacks on the city.

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