The Aerosols of Earth

Image Credit: NASA/Joshua Stevens/Adam Voiland

[NASA, Yvette Smith] Take a deep breath. Even if the air looks clear, it is nearly certain that you will inhale millions of solid particles and liquid droplets. These ubiquitous specks of matter are known as aerosols, and they can be found in the air over oceans, deserts, mountains, forests, ice and every ecosystem in between.

If you have ever watched smoke billowing from a wildfire, ash erupting from a volcano or dust blowing in the wind, you have seen aerosols. Satellites like NASA’s Earth-observing satellites, Terra, Aqua, Aura and Suomi NPP, “see†them as well, though they offer a completely different perspective from hundreds of kilometers above Earth’s surface. A version of a NASA model called the Goddard Earth Observing System Forward Processing (GEOS FP) offers a similarly expansive view of the mishmash of particles that dance and swirl through the atmosphere.

The visualization above highlights GEOS FP model output for aerosols on August 23, 2018. On that day, huge plumes of smoke drifted over North America and Africa, three different tropical cyclones churned in the Pacific Ocean, and large clouds of dust blew over deserts in Africa and Asia. The storms are visible within giant swirls of sea salt aerosol (blue), which winds loft into the air as part of sea spray. Black carbon particles (red) are among the particles emitted by fires; vehicle and factory emissions are another common source. Particles the model classified as dust are shown in purple. The visualization includes a layer of night light data collected by the day-night band of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on Suomi NPP that shows the locations of towns and cities.

via NASA

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A Battered Professor Leads Moscows Growing Grassroots Protests Against Putin

MOSCOWYulia Galyaminas unraveling life illustrates all too well the risks of opposition politics in Russia, even on a local level.

Police broke her teeth and jaw and gave her a serious concussion in 2017 when she was caught in a violent street protest. She has suffered from pain in her jaw ever since.

Undaunted, Galyamina struggled this summer to take part in a Moscow City Council election scheduled for September. On Tuesday she called The Daily Beast on the phone from a police van driving her away from the Russian capital to jail in the provincial town of Mozhaisk.

Galyamina is a 46-year-old linguistics professor at a prestigious university here and on the phone she sounded almost as if she were lecturing students about the dying Ketsky language. But clearly she had a message she wanted to get out.

I have a few minutes left before they take my phone away and cut me off from all communication with my supporters, she said.

Earlier in the day, a court arrested her and eight other key opposition leaders for calling on protesters to stage a rally in downtown Moscow without government authorization. To support the verdict, the judge read aloud a dozen or so of Galyaminas Facebook posts about opposition demands to allow independent candidates, including herself, to run in September.

Now from the van she told The Daily Beast, Putin and [Moscow Mayor Sergey] Sobyanin must be afraid of responsible citizens and I am not surprised to get arrestedI always knew that criminal prosecution would be the price for my opposition activity.

You are working for a fascist power, for those who rule for money, not for your sake.
Yulia Galyamina berating police last Saturday.

Putins Russia has seen many courageous women fighting against injustice. But instead of embracing their constructive criticism, the Kremlin chose to silence them with police clubs and prison bars. There have also been several brilliant women, including journalist Anna Politkovskaya and activist Natalia Estemirova, who fell victim to assassins. But more women join the demonstrations.

Last weekend, for instance, a 17-year-old protester named Olga Misik sat cross-legged in the street and read articles from the Russian Constitution to riot cops arrayed around her about the right to assemble peacefully, without weapons, hold rallies, meetings, demonstrations and marches. The image already is an icon of protest.

Two years ago I visited Galyamina at the Botkin Hospital in Moscow, where she was recovering from a concussion. She had severe headaches after a Moscow OMON (Special Police) cop smashed her face. Then, too, it was striking to see pale Galyamina on the phone from her hospital bed, calling for her supporters to come out to the next rally.

At the time, crowds of demonstrators had turned out in the center of Moscows to fight against the city halls renovation plan for the displacement of residents from hundreds of apartment blocks slated for demolition. People did not want to move from the central districts to the outskirts of the capital.

Factories closed, leaving millions without jobsbut at least people had their apartments, their property, Galyamina told me at the hospital in 2017. The new law allows the state to deprive thousands of Moscow families of their beloved apartments and move them to wherever officials want.

Last year Galyamina won a seat in the Moscow municipal elections. Residents of Temiryazevsky region, where she sat on the district council, know their candidate well. She led her electorate in battles about fundamental causes in local politics like saving Dubki Park from development and demanding garbage recycling. She was building her political platform on that public support to run for the Moscow City Duma, a regional parliament, in September this year.

The men in power grow fat, while you work for kopecks [pennies]. You beat women, you beat sick people. Do you realize what you are doing?
Yulia Galyamina berating cops last weekend, before her arrest.

We spent last month collecting almost 4,000 signatures from Yulias supporters but authorities rejected hundreds of real voters to ban her from running for the election, Nikolay Kosyan, one of Galyaminas supporters, said. Kosyan was angry, as are many young activists protesting in the streets in support of the arrested leaders. When the mayoral office realized that we had actually collected real signatures and not fake ones, they still decided to shut her up in fear of her powerful spirit.

On Saturday Galyamina became a hero for thousands of protesters. Facing rows of National Guard riot police, she said: You are working for a fascist power, for those who rule for money, not for your sake, she told men covered in body armor. The men in power grow fat, while you work for kopecks [pennies]. You beat women, you beat sick people. Do you realize what you are doing? Galyamina continued in a lecturing tone while the police looked like mischievous, slightly terrified students. (Video here in Russian.)

Galyamina was wearing her usual red dress and a white jacket and was holding a little Russian flag in her hands. I am a woman, I feel ashamed of you, strong men, who beat ordinary peoplethese people came out to the streets, because they strive to have independent institutes of power, which would not rob people like you, the deputy continued. Ten minutes later two policemen grabbed her, twisted her arms behind her back, and dragged her away from the rally.

Back in 2013, the Russian opposition leader Aleksey Navalny won 27 percent in a mayoral election in Moscow, even without access to state television channels, coming in second after the incumbent from the ruling United Russia party, Sergei Sobyanin. This time, apparently, Sobyanin wants to avoid the mistake of allowing a strong opposition showing. Nine key candidates for September election are currently behind bars. So is Navalny.

Galyamina had been playing by the rules. She collected the necessary number of signatures in her support but authorities turned her candidacy down, claiming signatures were falsified. Police detained up to 1,400 protesters on Saturday, Russian courts opened 200 legal cases against the opposition.

She is stubborn and she is good at creating responsible communities in Moscow, her friend Denis Bilunov, a political scientist, told The Daily Beast. The Kremlin is scared of Galyamina.

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African Futurist Nnedi Okorafor Tells an Immigrant Story in LaGuardia

Political reality finally inserted itself into the blissfully insulated world of San Diego Comic-Con. The Trump baby balloon bounced across the street from the convention center in San Diegos Gaslamp district. The Magicians actor Jade Tailor wore a Close the Camps shirt during her season 5 panel. Sen. Cory Booker cruised through and AOC comics were for sale.

Yet, searching the sprawling convention floor, youd be hard-pressed to find imagery more politically relevantor subversivethan the nine-foot-high poster for LaGuardia, a new graphic novel from African futurism writer Nnedi Okorafor. A pregnant Nigerian-American woman in a bright blue dress, fist raised and locks flowing like a banner, leads a bridge-closing protest shoulder-to-tentacle with extraterrestrial beings. Their picket signs demand rights for aliens, both human and of off-world origin.

After a single-issue run, Dark Horse Comics released the final, collected volume during last weeks San Diego Comic-Con. LaGuardia depicts an alternative present, where first contact with aliens is made in Lagos in 2010. The protagonist Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka is modeled both in appearance and biography after the author herself. After living for several years in Nigeria, Future returns to the United States to illegally transport a plant-based alien escaping civil war through New Yorks LaGuardia airport. Once in the city, she reconnects with her grandmother, an immigration attorney for people of all planetary origins. Before too long, the government announces a travel ban.

You have a world where aliens have come, and theyre not trying to kill us and eat us and take our resources. Theyve become Earthlings, Okarofor says. Some human beings react wonderfully to it, or some human beings just are cool with it, and then others cant deal with it. And then we have the United States becoming more conservative because of it.

Its not unusual for science fiction to anticipate reality, but its remarkable how every page of LaGuardia seems only 30 seconds ahead of the horrors playing out in the headlines, from DNA testing and social media vetting at the nations entry points to the chant of send her back at the presidents recent North Carolina rally. LaGuardia explores the concept of human-only discrimination at hospitals; meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidates discussed healthcare for undocumented immigrants in their first televised debate.

Its disturbing, but at the same time, it feels great, because I feel like Ive tapped into the pulse of something, Okorafor says.

Yet this is a story that she has been working on for years.

Issues of immigration, issues of identity, all these things, theyre not new, and theyve been there for a long time, she says.

Okorafor talks and writes from experience. The graphic novel introduces Future through an extended scene at LaGuardia, where she queues up for screening along with aliens of all shapes and sizes, as well as a little white girl who yanks on her locks. At the checkpoint, she is pulled aside for a second screening by a security guard who asks invasive questions about whether the baby in her belly is human. The confrontation is ripped straight from an incident in 2009, when a TSA officer at LaGuardia took Okorafor to a private room to squeeze each of her four-and-a-half-foot locks for hidden contraband. Preoccupied with her hair, the officer missed the bottle of pepper spray that Okorafor had forgotten to remove from her bag. In LaGuardia, that misdirection allows the character to carry the alien through, undetected.

As an author, Okorafor travels a lot, and its become clear to her that airport and border crossings are more about control than safety.

Its the space between, a place of contention, a place of displacement, a place of fear, a place of identity, she says. Its where you become very aware of all the things that you are and what they mean, in the context of where you are. And depending on who you are, that place can feel very hot or it can feel very chill.

San Diego Comic-Con can also be such a space, where creators contemplate who they are and where they are in their careers. In earlier chapters of her life, Okorafor was a semi-pro tennis player and later earned a PhD from the University of Illinois, Chicago, before becoming an award-collecting novelist. Okorafor has been attending Comic-Con on-and-off since 2010, wheb she was a speaker on The Black Panel, a forum for raising the profile of Black entertainment. This year was her first returning as a comic-book author.

In addition to writing LaGuardia for Dark Horses imprint Berger Books, Okorafor was tapped by Marvel to write Black Panther: Long Live the King and a spin-off about the Wakandan princess Shuri. In coming Comic-Cons, she may be back with even more prominent projects: shes adapting Octavia Butlers Wild Seed for Amazon and HBO is developing her novel Who Fears Death, with Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin as a producer.

I am in chaos, organized chaos, wonderful, glorious, organized chaos, Okorafor says.

One could draw a straight line from Okorafor and LaGuardia to comics pioneer Will Eisner (after whom Comic-Cons awards are named) and his 1978 medium-defining graphic novel, A Contract with God. Okorafor pulled the book off a university library shelf at random, without knowing it was a graphic novel, and was immediately transfixed by the blending of prose and images.

But also it was telling this immigrant story, especially about Jews, Okorafor says of A Contract with God, and coming from a family of immigrants, my parents being immigrants, I could relate so well to that. And so this was a book that I read over and over and over again for years.

Thats how Karen Berger, the editor who oversees Dark Horses Berger Book imprint, remembers Okorafor pitching the project: A Contract with God, but with aliens in an African American community. In Bergers mind, Eisner raised the bar by writing stories for adults based on his own experiences as the child of immigrants.

The best works are when people have a personal connection, and theres something about a writers past, or the writers personality, the writers passions in the character they write about, Berger says. As a piece of immigrant fiction, LaGuardia really fills that space.

LaGuardia is also about resistance, in all its forms, whether it be protesting, legal work, or holding the line within the system.

There are many ways of fighting the battle and battles happen on multiple fronts, all at the same time, Okorafor says. This year, San Diego Comic-Con became one of them.

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Baby rhino is America’s first born from artificial insemination

Southern white rhino calf at San Diego Zoo raises hopes for the future of wild rhinoceroses

The bumbling, sleepy rhino calf at San Diego Zoo is sure to delight animal lovers around the world. But for conservation scientists, his birth has additional meaning it marks a significant step toward saving wild rhino populations from the edge of extinction.

The newborn southern white rhino is the first in North America, and the third in the world, born as the result of artificial insemination.

His mother Victoria, who carried the calf for 493 days, stayed calm during her 30-minute labor on Sunday, the zoo announced.

Victoria is doing a great job as a mother, said Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive sciences at San Diego Zoo Global, the not-for-profit organization that runs the zoo. And the calf is doing great. As soon as Victoria took the placenta off him, he was moving. He stood very quickly, and of course, he was very wobbly.

At two days old, he is steadying himself. And though he stays close to his mother, appears to be growing curious about his surroundings, she reported. The zoo has yet to announce a name for the calf.

He is very cute, but he has much greater significance, said Durrant. The birth of the new southern rhino calf is part of a plan to save the northern white rhino a related subspecies whose population has dwindled to two.

The
The calf stands on its wobbly legs at the zoos Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center. Photograph: Ken Bohn/AP

Whereas populations of southern white rhinos have recovered and stabilized, thanks to a century of protection and management, northern white rhinos have been decimated by hunting during the colonial era and poaching in recent years. The last male northern white rhino died in March, and only two females of the species remain.

Durrant and her colleagues at the San Diego Zoo hope that eventually the six female southern white rhinos under their care, including Victoria, will serve as surrogates for northern white rhino embryos, helping revive the population.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park (@sdzsafaripark)

BIG NEWS: The pitter patter of little hooves at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center ushered in a historic milestone yesterday as Victoria gave birth to a healthy male calf.

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Where do babies come from? How to answer childrens 10 most vexing questions

Parents are queried as many as 55 times a day by their kids in the school holidays, a survey says. Here are some considered responses to the most popular lines of inquiry

Parents are asked as many as 55 questions a day by their children over the school holidays, a survey conducted by the childrens TV show Daisy & Ollie estimates. They include everything from philosophical queries to badgering. Here, the top 10 are answered as honestly as possible, while minimising the possibility of follow-up questions.

Why?

Your question may be understood in two ways. If you are asking about the purpose of existence, the meaning of life and the reason any of us are here, the answer is simple: we are here by mistake. If, as I suspect, your question is related to circumstance, as in: Why do I have to wear clothes in Tesco? the answer is also simple: because I said so.

Are we nearly there yet?

Allow me to point out your mistake: you have not named a destination; you just said there. We are always nearly somewhere, which is why its not a lie when I answer Yes, nearly every time you ask.

Why cant I stay up late?

Little
Its growing time! (Posed by model.) Photograph: kwanchaichaiudom/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The real reason is because I need three hours at the end of every day where I dont have to answer your questions. But I was worried you might repeat that to your teacher, so I made up the thing about how you only grow when you are asleep.

Why do I have to go to school?

You cant blame me for this its the law. I voted for the guy who wanted to ban school, but he lost. Fingers crossed for the next election.

Why do I have to go to bed?

I recognise this as a canny effort to rephrase question three in the hope of getting a more satisfactory answer. But all I have for you on this occasion is a final warning from Santas office.

How come youre allowed that and Im not?

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Alejandro Bedoya calls out Congress during MLS game over mass shootings

Philadelphia Union captain Alejandro Bedoya brought attention to this weekends mass shootings when he called out Congress after scoring for his team

America

Philadelphia Union captain Alejandro Bedoya brought attention to this weekends mass shootings in Ohio and Texas when he called out Congress after scoring for his team in Washington DC.

The USA international scored his teams opening goal in their 5-1 win over DC United on Sunday. After Bedoya scored he ran over to a TV microphone and shouted: Hey Congress, do something now. End gun violence. Lets go! The comment could be heard on Fox Sports coverage of the game.

Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1)

Philadelphia Union soccer player Alejandro Bedoya scores a goal in tonight’s game against D.C. United, runs over to a field microphone and shouts, “Congress, do something now. End gun violence.”
Via FS1 pic.twitter.com/7WH4PA08cs

August 5, 2019

The 32-year-old is from Weston, Florida, close to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which was the site of a mass shooting in 2018. Before Sundays game he had made his thoughts on gun policy in the US clear. Seeing more thoughts and prayers bullshit, he wrote on Twitter. Words without actions are just worthless. America, it seems, is becoming a dystopian society. When Bedoya was asked to clarify by another user on Twitter how he would address the problem of gun violence he expanded on his views. We can start with stricter background checks, red flag laws, making a registry for gun purchases, closing gun show loopholes, and taxing ammunition, he wrote.

Alejandro Bedoya (@AleBedoya17)

Seeing more thoughts and prayers bullshit.
Words without actions are just worthless. America, it seems, is becoming a dystopian society.
Do something!!! Enough!!!

August 4, 2019

This weekends shootings left 29 people dead. There have now been 31 mass shootings in America this year, defined as those where at least three people are killed by gun violence in a single episode.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

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The Democratic Presidential Debates

Reality TV is meant to trick the eyes. The high drama of housewives bickering about who said what over a bottle of wine. Cast members secretly scheming to avoid elimination off the island. Contestants blatantly lying to rig the game in their favor. What unfolds before us, to quote Susan Murray and Laura Ouelette in 2008’s Reality TV: Remaking Television Culture, “is an unstable text that encourages viewers to test out their own notions of the real, the ordinary, and the intimate against the representation before them.”

This week, inside Detroit’s Fox Theatre, Democratic presidential hopefuls participated in the second round of debates. Last night found two of the top candidates—Senator Kamala Harris and Vice President Joe Biden, along with Senator Cory Booker—center stage. The whole ordeal played out like an episode of The Real Legislators of America.

Remember: Absorbing, can’t-look-away TV is not about stability, however much we yearn for—and need, really—politics to be. The value of the unstable text is in its consistent guarantee of popcorn-worthy entertainment. Those who watch, myself included, find a perverse comfort in it because it’s entirely reliable; it gives us something to bicker about with family, friends, colleagues. It challenges us in ways for which we are unprepared, and sometimes for the better.

The primary architecture of debates, like reality TV with its twisting plots and snaking subplots, obeys a simple formula: an adoption of disorder. Biden, who remains the frontrunner despite his moderate establishment policies and a thrashing from Harris in June during the first round of debates, was again assigned the role of villain. A textbook archetype of the genre, the former VP doesn’t quite find a kindred spirit in the diabolical savvy of Spencer Pratt (The Hills) or Jax Taylor (Vanderpump Rules), but all great TV hinges on the roles characters submit to. That’s one of the more fascinating parts about Murray and Ouelette’s theory: Although the text itself is prone to unpredictability, the characters must conform to stationary roles.

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“You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign,” Booker said to Biden, railing into him. “You can’t do it when it’s convenient and then dodge it when it’s not.” Later, Booker again pounced on him over the matter of criminal justice reform, and Biden found himself caught in the heat of Harris’ agitation on the topic of health care and paralyzed by former Housing Secretary Julian Castro’s criticism of his shaky immigration record.

But before drama turned rapid-fire, there was the sly splendor of the 10 candidates on stage, standing side by side, captured with a trippy canniess by Brendan Smialowski. There’s a static, almost robotic feel to the vertical poses they take; their top halves have been severed by the camera’s frame. The linear symmetry of their lower limbs, the uniformity of their display, suggests an analogy: Not unlike reality TV, we all have a role to adhere to.

But then, almost instantly, the photo challenges its very hypothesis by displaying the full-body reflection of the politicians on the stage floor (Jordan Peele’s tethered beings from Us sprang to mind). And so, here in the democratic upside down, a counter suggestion is proposed: that even the roles candidates were assigned—The Hero, The Antagonist, The Everyman—are not, in fact, as stable as we anticipate.


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RAF and a damaged dam

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAn RAF Chinook is dropping 400 tonnes of aggregate to shore up the dam and divert water

Emergency crews are racing to save a damaged reservoir, as “terrified” residents fear their Derbyshire town could be flooded.

Police say the wall holding back the 300-million-gallon Toddbrook Reservoir could still fail despite about 24 hours of efforts to shore it up.

Part of the dam wall collapsed on Thursday afternoon.

The 1,500 people evacuated from Whaley Bridge amid “mortal danger” warnings will not be allowed home tonight.

But the water level has dropped by half a meter thanks to ten fire service pumps moving 4.2 million litres of water every hour – with more pumps on the way.

An RAF helicopter is also halfway through dropping 400 tonnes of aggregate on the collapsed section.

How dangerous is it?

BBC Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The clay under the slipway has been undermined

Police, the Environment Agency, and the Canal and River Trust have all said there is a “real risk” the dam could collapse.

Julie Sharman, from the Canal and Rivers Trust, said it was “a critical situation” but added the weather had improved and the water levels had reduced by 20cm.

“We aren’t putting a figure on any risk of collapse but everything that can be done is being done,” she said.

Engineers are attempting to get the reservoir’s water level down, to reduce pressure on the wall and allow repairs to begin.

news
Image caption The dam holds back 1.3 million tonnes of water

What does it mean for residents?

About 1,500 people left their homes after police told them to pack up their medication and pets and gather at an evacuation point.

Some stayed with relatives while others bedded down in pubs and hotels, with lots of businesses offering free rooms.

Police said residents would not be allowed back on Friday so would spend a second night away from their homes.

BBC
Image caption Bev Goodwin has put up friends and family after they left Whaley Bridge

Bev Goodwin lives in Chapel-en-le-Frith and put up her mum and dad, Joy and Steve and two friends – Susie and Angela.

Joy said: “We have nothing. No clothes, no toothbrush, nothing.

“We have been thinking about what’s in our house that we would miss – all our kids’ pictures and of our grandchildren – it’s upsetting.”

Susie said: “It’s just surreal that it’s happening in our town, it’s just bizarre.”

Mike Breslin described it as a “crazy situation”.

“They should never have built a school and a social club at the bottom of a dam. It’s madness,” he said.

news
Image caption Resident Mike Breslin said it was ‘madness’ to build a school at the base of the dam

Eric Baker, who has lived in the town for 30 years said: “It’s shocking really, it’s like living next to a ticking bomb. If that goes the devastation will be unimaginable.

“We saw the water coming over at a tremendous rate on Wednesday and the park was flooded but it wasn’t until Thursday the people who look after it started to look worried.

“Then it started to collapse on Thursday and it made a tremendous noise as the concrete slabs began to collapse.

“The disruption is huge, the small shops and businesses are really being hit and of course we don’t know when it will be over.”

BBC Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Public agencies and the army have been praised for their efforts

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said: “We just fled. I managed to take my nightdress and we’ve got the tortoise in the washing up bowl in the car.

“It’s quite terrifying. If the dam goes, it will take out the whole town.”

When will it be fixed?

news Image copyright LincsFireOfficer
Image caption Teams have worked through the night

Nigel Carson, who lives near the dam, said he had been told it would take two or three days to reduce the reservoir to a safe level if it does not rain.

There are no weather warnings in place for Friday, and the Met Office has said it expects much drier conditions.

BBC reporter Richard Stead described the operation to fix the dam as “a two-pronged attack”.

He said: “The Chinook is bringing aggregate on the one hand to shore up the dam, but also to divert water further up the valley away from the reservoir.

“There are also 16 high-volume pumps being used to relieve the pressure on the dam.

“Only when that is done can work start on permanent repairs and finding out what went wrong.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has asked the Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers to chair an emergency meeting.

BBC

Ms Villiers said she was receiving regular updates on the situation and the government’s COBR committee would make sure everything possible was being done to help.

People have shared their admiration for the emergency services on social media, with Twitter user @nmstoker naming the chinook pilots #DamUnbusters.

BBC

Analysis

By David Shukman, BBC science editor

This isn’t the first time communities have faced the nightmare of a dam that could collapse.

Back in 2007 a dam near Rotherham was the cause of a major alert, and the scenario is very similar to now. Torrential rain had filled the Ulley reservoir to overflowing.

Cracks appeared in the dam itself. People downstream were told to leave. The M1 motorway was in the path of a potential burst so part of it was closed.

As with the dam at Whaley Bridge, the one at Ulley was built in the 19th Century with the same combination of clay and mud.

In the end, pumps relieved the pressure and nearly 3000 tonnes of rock strengthened the structure so the emergency passed.

But over the following three years a huge repair operation costing £3.8m was needed. And a major review of the 2007 floods was highly critical of the way many of Britain’s dams are monitored.

Whatever happens at Whaley Bridge, questions will be asked about safety and whether ageing infrastructure can cope with the heavier downpours predicted as the climate warms.

BBC

What happened?

news

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionToddbrook Reservoir: Footage shows fast-flowing water before collapse

Part of the reservoir’s spillway broke away on Thursday.

It was damaged after large swathes of the country were battered by heavy rain and floods earlier in the week.

Police told residents in Whaley Bridge to gather at Chapel High School in neighbouring Chapel-en-le-Frith.

They were told to take pets and medication with them as it was unclear how long it would take to repair the damaged wall.

BBC
BBC

Pumps from fire services across the country have been pumping out 7,000 litres of water a minute.

Army engineers are clearing trees and bushes to get “five or six” more water pumps in on south side of reservoir.

Derbyshire Fire & Rescue Service said more than 150 firefighters from across the UK have been supporting the work at the dam and in the town.

A severe flood warning, which means a threat to life, has been issued for the River Goyt below the reservoir.

BBC Image copyright LincsFireOfficer
Image caption Sandbags are shoring up the structure

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Journalists Under Attack

In May 2019, WIRED joined the One Free Press Coalition, a united group of preeminent editors and publishers using their global reach and social platforms to spotlight journalists under attack worldwide. Today, the coalition is issuing its sixth monthly “10 Most Urgent” list of journalists whose press freedoms are being suppressed or whose cases demand justice.

Paul Chouta, the Cameroon Web reporter who was arrested in May, denied bail, and charged with defamation and spreading false news. His case has been delayed until August 13 and he remains in a maximum-security prison. Aasif Sultan, a reporter for Kashmir Narrator, was arrested on “anti-state” charges and will have been imprisoned for one year on August 27. He has been repeatedly interrogated by police, demanding that he reveal his sources.

Here is the August list, ranked in order of urgency:

1. Jamal Khashoggi (Saudi Arabia): Stonewalling continues after new UN report implicates Saudi prince for journalist’s murder.

Months after his brazen killing, and despite findings from the UN and the CIA that point to the Saudi crown prince’s involvement, there has been no independent criminal investigation. Calls for the White House to release intelligence reports have gone unheeded, along with a deadline to reply to Congress as required under the U.S. Global Magnitsky Act.

2. Azory Gwanda (Tanzania): Tanzanian official claims missing journalist is dead—then backtracks.

Azory Gwanda, a freelance journalist investigating mysterious killings in rural Tanzania, has been missing since November 21, 2017, and the government has failed to conduct an investigation or disclose what it knows. On July 10, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi said in an interview that Gwanda had “disappeared and died,” but backtracked amid requests for clarification.

3. Juan Pardinas (Mexico): Mexican newspaper editor targeted with death threats for criticizing new president.

Mexican media organizations and journalists have recently reported a sharp increase in threats and online harassment over critical reporting of the López Obrador administration. Juan Pardinas, the editor-in-chief of Mexican newspaper Reforma, received a barrage of online harassment and threats after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador criticized the newspaper in April. López Obrador acknowledged the threats against Pardinas and said that his government had offered protective measures to the journalist.

4. Paul Chouta (Cameroon): Journalist in maximum security prison blocked from seeing family.

Cameroon Web reporter Paul Chouta was arrested in May, denied bail, and charged with defamation and spreading false news. Chouta’s editor said he suspects the case was in retaliation for critical reporting. His case has been delayed until August 13 and he remains in a maximum-security prison.

5. Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan): Kyrgyz court upholds life sentence for documenting human rights abuses.

Award-winning journalist Azimjon Askarov, who is an ethnic Uzbek, has spent nine years in prison on trumped-up charges for his reporting on human rights violations. Despite persistent international condemnation and calls for his release, a Kyrgyz court that had reviewed his case in light of new legislation ruled to uphold his life sentence on July 30.

6. Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak (Turkey): Turkish journalist faces 30 years in solitary confinement.

A commentator for opposition newspaper Özgür Düşünce and Can Erzincan TV, Ayşe Nazlı Ilıcak was arrested in 2016 and sentenced in February 2018 to life without parole for trying to overturn the constitution through her journalism. In a separate trial in January, she was sentenced to an additional five years for revealing state secrets. In Turkey, which has been the top jailer of journalists three years in a row, life sentences without parole equate to 30 years in solitary confinement, with limited visits.

7. Marzieh Amiri (Iran): Imprisoned journalist denied healthcare after for covering May Day demonstrations.

Iranian authorities arrested Marzieh Amiri, an economics reporter at Tehran-based newspaper Shargh Daily, as she covered May Day demonstrations, and her family has had limited contact with her since. Authorities have accused Amiri of committing crimes against national security without giving further details.

8. Jones Abiri (Nigeria): Journalist re-arrested on terrorism and cybercrime charges.

Jones Abiri, the publisher and editor-in-chief of the Weekly Source, is behind bars on charges under Nigeria’s cybercrimes act, anti-sabotage act, and terrorism prevention act for crimes allegedly carried out in 2016. The charges are the same ones that a court threw out after he was held without access to his family or a lawyer from 2016 to 2018.

9. Aasif Sultan (India): Journalist imprisoned one year without due process for covering conflict.

Aasif Sultan, a reporter for Kashmir Narrator, will have been imprisoned one year on August 27, arrested in 2018 and months later charged with “complicity” in “harboring known terrorists.” He has been repeatedly interrogated and asked to reveal his sources by police. Sultan continues to be denied due process, with ongoing delays in his hearings.

10. Truong Duy Nhat (Vietnam): Blogger who disappeared in Thailand imprisoned in Vietnam.

Truong Duy Nhat, a Vietnamese reporter with Radio Free Asia, went missing in January in Bangkok, Thailand, where he had applied for refugee status. In March, his daughter learned he was jailed without charge in a Hanoi detention center. Nhat was previously sentenced to two years in prison in 2013 in connection to his critical reporting on the government.

According to CPJ research, the killers go unpunished in nine out of every 10 journalists murdered.

The One Free Press Coalition contains 33 prominent international members including: AméricaEconomía; The Associated Press; Bloomberg News; The Boston Globe; BuzzFeed; CNN Money Switzerland; Corriere Della Sera; De Standaard; Deutsche Welle; Estadão; EURACTIV; The Financial Times; Forbes; Fortune; HuffPost; India Today; Insider Inc.; Le Temps; Middle East Broadcasting Networks; Office of Cuba Broadcasting; Quartz; Radio Free Asia; Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty; Republik; Reuters; The Straits Times; Süddeutsche Zeitung; TIME; TV Azteca; Voice of America; The Washington Post; WIRED; and Yahoo News.

One Free Press Coalition partners with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) to identify the most-urgent cases for the list, which is updated and published on the first day of every month. News organizations throughout the world can join the Coalition by emailing info@onefreepresscoalition.com.


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The truth about comedy writers’ rooms

Grubby banter, sexless flirting and the smell of pizza and ambition … writer Sarah Morgan reveals the funny business that goes on behind the scenes of your favourite shows

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In the recent movie Late Night, Mindy Kaling plays a naive young comedy writer joining the writing team on a late-night US chat show. The staff are exclusively white, male, expensively educated and surly a running gag is that every one uses the womens restroom to defecate because no women work in the office. Kaling, as a perky diversity hire, shakes up the show and drags it into the 21st century. Its a wish fulfilment comedy: what would actually happen, with just one woman or person of colour in the room, is that the lads would carry on being sexist and racist but would then swivel their heads at her like ventriloquist dummies to check that she was cool with it.

US writers rooms have a feral romance to them, as seen in shows such as 30 Rock, which was inspired by Tina Feys real time as head writer on Saturday Night Live, when her male peers would pee into jars on their office window sill and call it sun tea. In the UK, were a little more embarrassed at the idea that comedy is written, and feel it should be hidden away, shamefully and quietly. (When a writing partner and I asked for an office at the BBC in which to write our radio series, we were grudgingly offered The Jill Dando room, an 8ft sq office in TV Centre featuring a King-Kong-at-the-window-scale mural of the tragically murdered TV personality. We laughed. Writers are horrible.)

Recently, ITV announced an initiative to aim for gender-balanced writing teams on its comedy shows, which came as a shock to some people who claim to passionately love comedy but dont know how it is made. People who think Morecambe and Wise came up with all their own material, and Angela Rippon just started doing all that mad stuff with her legs on the day. You know what though? Its sort of OK comedy writers feel deep down we are doing our job properly when you dont know were there, like God. No, not like God: we dont have that level of self-esteem. Were like people who pump out the toilets at music festivals. Thats it. Gag writers are like the portable loo people, quietly keeping your entertainment entertaining. We know that no one at home cares if Simon Cowell is being genuinely spontaneous, or if his quip about David Walliamss trousers was crafted by a sweaty nerd on a 600th of his salary. Were just happy to be in showbiz.

I love my job. Ive worked in more than 50 writers rooms, not including the shows I helped develop that never made it to air. Some days I pinch myself that Im being paid to laugh my head off. On Horrible Histories you get free lectures from historians its like being paid for school, only youre actively encouraged to make fun of the lesson afterwards. Some shows Ive proudly worked on for decades, some were just a fleeting engagement in a production company office that smelled of pizza and ambition. Food is vital to the workings of a writers room. If a producer offers to buy lunch, everyone will immediately order the most expensive thing possible, because comedy writers are tiny children, and also because you know a free lunch means you are working through lunch.

The job has changed a lot in 10 years, but some writers rooms do still feel loud and gladiatorial, as in Late Night. Often in the UK they are dominated by male Oxbridge-educated caucazoids (some of my best friends are male Oxbridge-educated caucazoids, etc, etc). Writers are generally sensitive and insecure. If you put us together in a room we will overcompensate like the advice given to someone on their first day of prison, punch the biggest bloke in the yard.

There was one pop-based panel show writers room so notoriously toxic, the survivors talk as though it has been entombed in concrete like Chernobyl. A half-formed idea would get cut short with a Thats shit or Not funny. The writers assistant would get sent out with a complicated sandwich order and a grave warning that the star would lose his shit if she got the order wrong. (Of course, the sandwich shop didnt exist. She was terrified! Lol!)

Tina
Tina Fey in US sitcom 30 Rock, which was inspired by her time as head writer on Saturday Night Live. Photograph: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

 

These rooms are raptor pits, according to Andy Riley, co-creator of Year of the Rabbit, who has compiled a glossary of writers room terms on his website How to Talk Comedy Writer. There is loads of secret lingo, such as Die-dia (from Kat Sadler), an idea that you feel dying in your mouth the second you start pitching. A bad room will crush a die-dia dead (thats not funny), a good room will toss it around a bit to see what other ideas it shakes out. A die-dia is from the same family as the bad version, which is a much derided term that a higher-up might use when pitching the shape of a joke, but not the joke itself. We need a funny reveal for what the dog is chewing. The bad version is a dildo? I dunno, youre the writers. Honestly, pitching the bad version is actually really useful, but its a thing that producers say so writers make fun of it. We dont often get to feel lofty.

Sam Bain, co-creator of Peep Show, says: Comedy writing rooms should be like improv Yes, and Rather than Thats shit. When a room is good, its heaven, a sort of sexless flirting where colleagues bat ideas back and forth and nothing is off-limits. A certain amount of inappropriateness is actually vital to the health of a room.

Executives who pop in can be startled by the filth and off-topic banter. Its our way of getting to know each other. Jason Hazeley, co-creator of Cunk on Britain, calls this doing scales the practice gags that warm you up for the real work. Ive also heard it called clearing the pipes or getting the poison out. Its not pleasant, but it is funny, if dead-baby jokes before 10am are your thing. Quite why were allowed to get away with this Im not sure, theres no other job where its expected that you need to be appalling before you can do your job properly. Sure Ill bring in this 747, but I just have to snap the legs off this heron first. Its my process.

When the Times Up movement hit Hollywood there was concern that some people wouldnt feel comfortable with the anything goes approach. There was a famous lawsuit where the writers assistant on Friends (the only female and person of colour in the room) sued because of the eye-wateringly inappropriate conversation among the chief writers (including speculations about a female cast members genitalia). The decision went in the shows favour, with the judge referring to the Friends room as a creative workplace focused on generating scripts for an adult-oriented comedy show featuring sexual themes.

Sarah
Ive been in situations where later Ive pondered the weird nature of my employment Sarah Morgan. Photograph: Karla Gowlett

 

Ive never felt unsafe or intimidated at work, but Ive been in situations where later Ive pondered the weird nature of my employment. There was a day in a small room where the head writer delivered a monologue about inserting Cadbury Mini Eggs in the non-traditional orifice of a lady friend. I didnt feel especially harassed (I almost certainly yes and-ed with egg puns) but I cant speak for the young woman whose job it was to sit and take notes all day. Crucially, Im not sure it was a super-productive way to write in-house sketches for the website of a luxury car brand.

While no one wants to think about how the sausage is made, its a fact that most shows have writers rooms panel shows, award shows, sketch shows, topical news shows, a chat show for a popular fake TV judge they are all team written. Though youd be forgiven for not knowing that if you look at the credits. Writers arent much of a thing in comedy, outside sitcoms. They are credited as programme associates (or additional material). Programme associates are the modest heroes thinking of funny captions for a photo of a puffin, or writing questions about Boris Johnsons hair, or coming up with sketch ideas a talk-show host could do based round a giant papier-mache vulva that had been commissioned by the production company for another show but didnt get used. (These are all things that have happened on programmes I have written on, sorry, been associated with.)

But the title may not be around for ever. The Writers Guild of Great Britain is starting a campaign to scrap positions such as programme associate and credit writers for their writing. Writers should always be credited as writers, says Gail Renard, former WGGB chair and member of the guilds comedy committee, or else they stand to lose their residuals, pension contributions, and other payments theyve rightly earned. Why should we be hidden in the shadows like some dark comedy secret?

Well, theres lots of reasons why comedy writers should be kept a dark dirty secret see above but a reluctance to give proper credit isnt one of them.

Late Night is showing in UK cinemas.

 

 

 

 

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