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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Migrant Vessel Capsizes in Bahamas

Scores of Haitian migrants were rescued off the coast of the Bahamas, but at least 30 more died after their sail-powered coastal freighter ran aground and capsized last night. Bad weather and rough seas hampered overnight rescue efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force. According to Coast Guard spokesperson Mark Barney, as of late this morning, all of the survivors had been taken to the Bahamas for medical treatment.

This is the second time in recent days the Coast Guard has responded to a fatal incident involving Haitian migrants. Four Haitian women died when the smaller fishing boat in which they were being smuggled capsized seven miles off Miami Beach on October 16. Several non-Haitians have been charged in that case, including murder charges against the boat’s captain and his assistant.

French Reinforce CAR

France has confirmed it will bolster its small force in the Central African Republic, brining its full strength in the restive country to 1,000 soldiers. French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian insisted this fortification was necessary, saying, “The Central African Republic is in very serious condition. It’s in collapse and we cannot have a country fall apart like that. There is abuse, massacres and the humanitarian chaos that follows a collapse.” France’s forces are expected to play a support role for the more numerous African Union troops in the area to quell the rising violence. Le Drian believes the mission will be short, telling French radio, “We’d be going in for a brief period, roughly about six months.”

U.S. Tries New Chinese ADIZ

The U.S. flew two unarmed B-52 war planes over the controversial Diaoyo Islands last night, just days after China announced a new air defense identification zone (ADIZ). According to Pentagon spokesperson Tom Crosson the U.S. military did not provide any notice to Beijing and described the mission as “uneventful,” saying that there was “no contact, no reaction from China.”

Over the weekend, China announced that noncommercial aircraft entering a vast swath over the East China Sea, including the disputed Diaoyo Islands, must first identify themselves to Chinese authorities or risk facing “defensive emergency measures” by Chinese armed forces. “We believe that inflammatory rhetoric and inflammatory policy pronouncements like those made by the Chinese over the weekend are counterproductive, and we believe that those differences of opinion can and should be resolved diplomatically,” White House spokesperson Josh Earnest told reporters. “It’s in the interest of all of the parties in the region to do that.”

U.S. Cattle Twice as Gassy

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency already believes the 90 million cattle in the U.S. are the country’s largest source of anthropogenic emissions, that in fact ruminant animals create twice as much methane as the EPA supposed. Methane is a significant greenhouse gas; this study could have ramifications in regards to the safety of natural gas, which the Obama administration has championed as a “clean energy” source.

Study coauthor Anna Michalak was cautious as to the impact of her group’s work, telling the New York Times, “Our study does not address how the magnitude of the source types that we present translate into an overall climate impact for natural gas vs. other fuel types, nor does it address implications for natural gas as a bridge fuel.” Still the authors were confident enough in their methodologies to conclude in their abstract, “These results cast doubt on the US EPA’s recent decision to downscale its estimate of national natural gas emissions by 25-30 per cent.” Continuing, “Overall, we conclude that methane emissions associated with both the animal husbandry and fossil fuel industries have larger greenhouse gas impacts than indicated by existing inventories.”

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