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When most people think of harnessing renewable energy from the ocean, the gigantic spinning blades of offshore wind farms are probably the first thing that come to mind. Or maybe it’s gracefully bobbing buoys capturing wave energy or dams that skim power off rushing tides. Very few people, however, think of the oceans as a vast source of renewable heat that can be used to keep homes warm and showers steaming. But that’s exactly what a growing number of seaside towns in northern Europe are doing, despite having some particularly chilly ocean water.

It should perhaps come as no surprise that the ocean can be used to climate control our homes. After all, the Earth’s oceans essentially climate control the entire planet. The more than 70 percent of the Earth that is covered by water serves as a kind of global thermostat. Oceans take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which helps to moderate temperatures, and they also emit heat from the sunlight they absorb. Clouds, too, which perform a variety of cooling and insulating functions to help regulate temperature on Earth, form from water evaporating off the ocean. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

 Somalian jihadist group Al-Shabab calls for attacks on Jewish targets worldwide | Jerusalem Post

An Al-Shabab Al-Mujahideen spokesman delivered a sermon in a Barawa mosque in Somalia on Sunday calling upon Muslims to attack Jewish targets everywhere, according to a report provided exclusively to The Jerusalem Post by the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute).

Speaking about the conflict in Gaza, Al-Shabab spokesman Ali Dhere said all of the “nations of unbelief” participated in the “aggression against Gaza,” mentioning specifically “the Americans who stood by the Jews in their aggression against the Muslims in Gaza.” [Read more]

Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts | The Independent

Israeli spokesmen have their work cut out explaining how they have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza, most of them civilians, compared with just three civilians killed in Israel by Hamas rocket and mortar fire. But on television and radio and in newspapers, Israeli government spokesmen such as Mark Regev appear slicker and less aggressive than their predecessors, who were often visibly indifferent to how many Palestinians were killed.

There is a reason for this enhancement of the PR skills of Israeli spokesmen. Going by what they say, the playbook they are using is a professional, well-researched and confidential study on how to influence the media and public opinion in America and Europe. Written by the expert Republican pollster and political strategist Dr Frank Luntz, the study was commissioned five years ago by a group called The Israel Project, with offices in the US and Israel, for use by those “who are on the front lines of fighting the media war for Israel”. [Read more]

On Gaza, genocide, and impunity | Al Jazeera

How else could one describe a state that is officially sustained by a belligerent apartheid system; a state that occupies the land of another and systematically carries out ethnic-cleansing; and a state that relentlessly demonstrates a rejectionist attitude toward UN resolutions, international law and institutions?

In its latest campaign of brazen aggression, Israel has caused colossal destruction of lives, homes and critical infrastructure. [Read more]

A very difficult time for Israel | Miami Herald

Brian Siegal lived in Jerusalem during the Second Intifada, a Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s that was met with overwhelming Israeli force. More than 3,000 Palestinians and 950 Israelis died in that conflict. Today, Siegal, who has served as the director of the American Jewish Committee’s Miami and Broward Office since 2007, says he hopes for a lasting peace as he watches the region’s latest conflict. His wife, Judith Siegal, is the Senior Rabbi at Temple Judea in Coral Gables. He spoke last week with the Miami Herald. Here are edited excerpts: [Read more]

Reacting to Conflict in the Middle East: A Revealing Litmus Test | OpEdNews

It’s amazing watching what people reveal about themselves when tensions in the Middle East explode. Some otherwise liberal, compassionate souls with big hearts suddenly morph into raging self-appointed authorities. Others who’ve suffered deeply and have reason not to be kind toward oppressors become surprisingly gentle. Some spew invectives while others weep for dying children.

But nothing rivals what has taken place on social media since the horrific conflict between Israel and the Palestinians began. Having responded to a friend’s pro-Israel Facebook post in which she equated my sympathy for the plight of ordinary Palestinians with being “pro-Hamas,” a slew of opinions started flying and haven’t stopped.  [Read more]

Syria Records One of Its Deadliest Weeks Ever | ABC News

Last week, 700 people died in two days in Syria, in what has been described as the deadliest 48-hour period in the country since its conflict began more than four years ago. And 1,700 are reported to have died in the last seven days, in one of the worst weeks on record.

As the global spotlight shifted to Gaza, the past month has been particularly brutal in Syria. Why? Experts cite a bloody fight between Assad forces and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) for control of the large Shaar gas field, east of Homs; an increased regime offensive in Aleppo; and clashes between ISIS, which is rapidly consolidating its territory in the east, and rebel factions like Jabhat al-Nusra. [Read more]

A nation in peril – Iraq’s struggle to hold together | Reuters

Salman Khaled has already lived through Baghdad’s sectarian disintegration; with Iraq now splintering into Shi’ite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish regions, he says this time the survival of the country is at stake.

“Things are really tense and it could get worse,” said the 23-year-old Sunni Muslim student. “If the politicians continue as they are doing now, we are on the path to separation.” [Read more]

WHAT IS TO BE DONE? The burning questions of these times in Turkey | OpEdNEws

What to do? A presidential election, the first of its kind, is soon coming to Turkey. There are three candidates. One is the prime minister, about whom the less said the better. Another is Selahattin Demirtaş, the Kurdish parliamentary representative, affiliated with the PKK, a separatist, armed terrorist organization. The third is a life-long Islamist now tricked out as a secularist. He, Ekmelledin Ä°hsanoğlu, characterized himself politically as a loaf of bread. (“Ekmek için Ekmelledin”) While perhaps appropriate, it was not meant to be funny. [Read more]


Related Articles – Michael’s Blog

What will be the deciding factor in this year’s elections? Will it be Obamacare? The chaos erupting across the globe? The president’s approval rating? Will it be single women voters, Hispanics, young people?

Mike Podhorzer crunched the numbers and found there’s one factor that, with eerie consistency, explains the way elections have swung for the past decade. Podhorzer, the political director of the AFL-CIO, is one of the top electoral strategists on the left. The crucial factor, he found, is Democrats’ vote share among voters making less than $50,000. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

Last week, Toronto mayoral candidate David Soknacki made a bold suggestion to improve the morning transit commute: offer free rides to anyone traveling before rush-hour. The idea is that by encouraging more early bird riders (in this case, those traveling between 6 and 7 a.m.), city subways and buses will be less crowded at the peak of the morning peak. Here’s Soknacki, via the Toronto Star: [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

Under the watchful eye of a military drone and three F-16 warplanes flying protective cover, 158 U.S. diplomats and 80 U.S. Marines evacuated the American embassy in Tripoli, Libya, on Saturday. Although there was no specific threat targeting the U.S. personnel, fighting between rival factions in the Libyan capital is raging amid fears the North African country is headed irreversibly toward anarchy. U.S. warships were positioned off the coast and more contingents of Marines were flown to the immediate vicinity, ready to deploy if needed to protect the evacuation convoy.

The Tripoli airport has been shut down by combat between two of the country’s most powerful militias, and most of the airplanes there have been destroyed or damaged so the evacuation had to be carried out overland: a five-hour drive to neighboring Tunisia. Under orders from Washington, the convoy pulled out of Tripoli at dawn and made it to safety by mid-day. It is unclear when or if the embassy will reopen. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

Remember when Mark Zuckerberg didn’t believe in privacy? When he argued that it was “no longer a social norm”? When Facebook employees wouldn’t even use the word “privacy” at a forum about the future of privacy?

That was then. Now, it seems, privacy is back—not just as a social norm, but as a business model.

On a conference call with investors on Wednesday, Zuckerberg singled out privacy features and private services like messaging and anonymous logins as keys to the company’s future growth. Why? “Because,” he said, “at some level, there are only so many photos you’re going to want to share with all your friends.” [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

Fierce fighting was underway Sunday between rebels and government troops in eastern Ukraine, leading a team investigating the recent Malaysia Airlines crash to call off a visit to inspect the wreckage, saying it wasn’t safe to go.

The Ukrainian army was making gains in its battle to retake Horlivka, a city outside the rebel stronghold of Donetsk, and fighting extended to the outskirts of Donetsk. The military has said it is preparing to advance into Donetsk, one of two epicenters of the insurgency that has raged since spring. Ousting the rebels from their self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic would be a major victory for the Ukrainian government, and would signal that pro-Russian separatists were nearing the end of their campaign to break away from Ukraine. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

The Environmental Protection Agency isn’t doing enough to prevent methane from escaping from natural gas pipelines, according to a new report from the agency’s internal watchdog.

The report, published Friday by the EPA’s Inspector General, stated that in 2011, more than $192 million worth of natural gas was lost due to leaks in pipelines. The report said that the agency, which until now has “placed little focus and attention on reducing methane emissions from pipelines in the natural gas distribution center,” needs to take steps to better prevent methane from escaping. It recommended that the EPA work with the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) to try to fix the problem, a partnership President Barack Obama has also called for. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

Philippine President Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III won on an anti-corruption platform in 2010. Four years later, some are calling for his impeachment for what they see as systemic corruption and patronage politics.

At the center of the criticism is the 177-billion-peso (US$4.086-billion) Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), created shortly after Aquino took office. The program, which was supposed to stimulate the economy, allowed the executive to transfer funds from different agencies and branches of the government into other projects that is favored by the executive.  [Read more] – Michael’s Blog

The sun-bleached bones of a human skeleton lay in disarray: the skull rolled on its crown, an S-curved spinal column about two feet away. Leg bones were in a haphazard pile. There were personal items too – a wallet, pair of walking shoes and a dirt-caked T-shirt.

They belonged to a man, most likely a migrant who had faced off with the Sonoran Desert in an attempt to come north. While most attention on immigration has been directed recently at the human drama unfolding around a surge of children fleeing from Central American countries, the immigrant death toll on the US-Mexico border has quietly exploded, even as undocumented migration overall has plummeted. [Read more] – Michael’s Blog


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