HAIFA, Israel (Press Release)–Cyclical changes in atmospheric pressure and sea surface temperature in the North Atlantic Ocean affect drought in the Sahel region on the southern Sahara rim. This has been revealed in an international study carried out by researchers from the University of Haifa, the French National Meteorological Service, Columbia University and the University of San Diego. The study was published recently in the scientific journal Atmospheric Science Letters (Royal Meteorological Society).
That climate variability in one region can have an effect on more distant areas is known in the climate research literature – the challenge being to locate these far-connections and understand their projections. The current study, co-authored by Dr. Shlomit Paz of the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Haifa, analyzed a number of climate parameters in the North Atlantic over the 20th century, including atmospheric pressure at sea level and sea surface temperature. They revealed two “natural climate signals”: a multi-decadal signal of a period exceeding 40 years, and a quasi-decadal signal with periodicity ranging from 8 to 14 years. These two signals may cancel or enhance one another.
In order to establish these findings, the scientists compared them with climactic fluctuations as observed in coral and tree-ring studies, by which the temperature values of the past few hundred years can be reconstructed. The signals were identified in this case too.
Next the researchers identified a correlation between the cyclical waves and droughts in the Sahel region: When the Atlantic Ocean cools, there are droughts in the region, and when the Ocean temperature rises, rain returns to the Sahel region. They also found that during drought periods in the Sahel, the force of hurricanes in the Atlantic drops; and vice versa.
This is not merely a theoretical study, Dr. Paz explains. The Sahel region suffered drought over more than 20 years, from the 1970s to the mi-1990s, which caused deep environmental and social crises, such as hunger, civilian desertion, ethnic conflicts, and more. In 2007 the UN published a report stating that the situation in Darfur was intensified by the ongoing drought in the Sahel region and its surroundings.
This study contributes to information availability for climatic models, thereby improving their prediction capability. The researchers are currently investigating whether current human activity has an impact on these phenomena and are examining the effects of the signals on today’s climate in Europe. They note that the thermal imbalance caused by urban development makes the research more challenging. “Today we are able to gain a better understanding of how the oceans play an important role in the earth’s ‘climate memory’. Once we become familiar with the natural signals, we will be able to better understand how the human factor correlates with climate,” Dr. Paz states.
Preceding provided by the University of Haifa
(WJC)–The following article by the Dutch novelist Leon de Winter appeared in the ‘Wall Street Journal Europe’ on 14 June 2010.
It’s a fascinating phenomenon: Why do people and organizations that present themselves as progressive team up with reactionary Muslims? The Free Gaza group is just such a Leftist-Islamist alliance. Well, Gaza is already free. Israel withdrew from the narrow strip five years ago. And there is also no need for any humanitarian aid. Well over a million tons of humanitarian supplies entered Gaza from Israel over the last 18 months, equaling nearly a ton of aid for every man, woman and child in Gaza.
But Gaza’s population voted in democratic elections to be ruled by a party whose hatred of Jews is the cornerstone of its existence. Anyone who doubts this should read the Hamas manifesto on the Internet. The fact that Gaza is completely “judenrein” isn’t enough for Hamas. It wants Israel to be “judenrein” too. The Israeli blockade for “strategic goods” is therefore not designed to punish ordinary Palestinians but to prevent Hamas from obtaining heavy weapons and building bunkers. It’s as simple as that.
Contrary to Gaza, Chechnya, for example, isn’t free. The Russians have crushed the struggle for independence of the Chechens by carpet-bombing their capital. And what about a Kurdish state? The Turks and Iraqis have inflicted unspeakable horrors on the Kurds. And yet, there are no Free Kurdistan flotillas sailing toward Turkey, and Russian officials don’t have to fear to be arrested in European capitals for war crimes.
Here are some more facts — lousy, stubborn facts. Let’s look at the infant mortality rate in Gaza. It is a key number that says a lot about the state of hygiene, nutrition, and health care. In Israel the infant mortality rate is 4.17 per 1,000 births, which is about the same as in Western countries. In Sudan the rate is 78.1, that is, one in 13 infants die at birth. In Gaza, infant mortality per 1,000 births is 17.71. Yes, that’s higher than in Israel, but much lower than in Sudan. And Turkey’s infant mortality rate? Well, that’s 24.84. Yes, more infants die at birth in Turkey than in Gaza.
Here is another fact. Life expectancy at birth is 73.68 years in Gaza. And in Turkey, Gaza’s new protector, life expectancy is only 72.23 years. If the Israelis really wanted to make the lives of Palestinians short and nasty, then they are obviously doing something wrong.
The progressives don’t care for any other group of poor or suppressed Muslims. They only cry for the “victims” of the Jews. Why is that so?
One reason is Yasser Arafat, whose genius was to redefine the Palestinian cause in neo-Marxist and anti-imperialist rhetorics. He created a new context for his people: The struggle against colonialism and racism. He was a classic corrupt warlord with an amazing talent to play the Western media and politicians. The progressives adopted the Palestinians as their favorite, quintessential victims of imperialism and colonialism as epitomized by the Zionist state.
But there is another reason why Western progressives hate Israel but are indifferent toward human rights abuses in Turkey, Iran, or Russia. It’s because of the Holocaust.
Europeans, who represent much of what goes for world opinion, have grown tired of carrying the guilt for the destruction of the Continent’s Jews. They have started to long for some form of historical release. That comes in the form of Israel’s military response to Islamist attacks and terror. The Europeans couldn’t suppress the chance to defame the Jews and redefine Israel’s defense measures as either “disproportionate” or outright aggression — war crimes in other words.
In progressive European eyes, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict became a conflict without comparison, a unique phenomenon of European victims creating Palestinian victims, which seemed to diminish the weight of the ordinary European mass-slaughter of the Jews.
Watching Israel’s demonization, the attack on its right to defend itself as Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said, it becomes clear that there is a deep need among Europeans to call the Jews murderers. This is why the Palestinians, as “victims” of the Jews, are more important than the numerous Muslim victims of Muslim extremists; this is why millions of other Muslims living under worse conditions than the Palestinians hardly get any mention in the media; this is why Gaza is compared to the Warsaw Ghetto or Auschwitz. By calling the Israeli Nazis, the original Nazis have been legitimized. It feels as if the Europeans, led by the progressives, want the Arabs to finish the job. Enough with the Jews. It is what it is — we see Europe’s liberation from the legacy of the Holocaust.
For decades, our progressive, peace-loving Western activists have been fooled and manipulated by Arab tyrants and now by Turkish and Iranian Islamists. They have allowed themselves to assist in efforts to destroy one of the greatest adventures in modern times: the creation of the State of Israel.
What we have witnessed with the Gaza flotilla is the perfect execution of a masterful piece of Islamist theater. The media’s wild indignation, an orgasm of hypocrisy, marks the next chapter in the long story of European hatred toward the Jews. It is salonfahig again to be an anti-Semite.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.
By Meital Nir
FAIR LAWN, New Jersey–According to the well-known adage, we need to choose whether to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Visiting the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva last month, I observed that the organization has apparently chosen to be both. Founded in 2006 with a mission of “strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe,” the UNHRC is today composed of only 49 percent “free” member states, as classified by the democracy watchdog Freedom House. The remaining small majority includes such states as China, with the highest execution rate on earth, and Saudi Arabia, which still employs flogging and amputation as means of punishment. In the latest absurdity, the council will vote in May on Iran’s request to take its place among the organization’s 47 member states, and some predict it has a reasonable chance of attaining one of the four seats allotted to countries in the Asian region.
Representatives of the council’s democracies are caught between two contradictory approaches in confronting the problem of Iran. On the one hand, they feel a responsibility to employ any diplomatic tactics available to shine a spotlight on it and other dark corners of the world, in the hope of contributing to an improvement in conditions there. But somewhere in the back of their minds lies the realization that the world may one day conclude that the HRC – established as a replacement for an earlier, failed human rights commission – is not only useless, but actually harmful. Understanding that things may have to get worse before they can get better, these realists believe that the council should be permitted to appear in its true bleak colors, even if this means allowing Iran to take a seat.
In June 2007, the HRC implemented the Universal Periodic Review, by which each of the UN’s member states is evaluated once every four years in terms of its compliance with international human rights standards. On February 15, it was Iran’s turn for review and, theoretically, for providing explanations about the evidence of its appalling human rights violations. Not surprisingly, Iran’s UPR has aroused unprecedented attention from both supporters and strong opponents of the Islamic regime, not least because of its simultaneous bid for a seat in the council.
At the same time Dr. Mohammad Larijani, head of the Iranian delegation in Geneva, was being asked to address the regime’s crimes, other HRC members were going out of their way to help him feel very much at home in Geneva. Bahrain commended Iran’s commitment to human rights, China applauded its efforts to promote cultural diversity, and Sudan praised Tehran’s efforts to enshrine Islamic values in human rights conventions to which it is a signatory.
If all that wasn’t enough, following Iran’s UPR – and for the first time since the review was instituted three years ago – the diverse crowd of diplomats, NGOs and journalists seated around the U-shaped tables in the high-ceilinged room burst into applause of enthusiastic support for the Islamic republic. While a long line of Iranian dissidents marched back and forth outside, in Geneva’s UN Square, with life-sized posters of children hanging dead from cranes, the ovation heard inside, like a perfect satirical show, generated a feeling that if this weren’t so tragic, it could have been quite amusing.
At the same time, the council’s democratic members also made a strong showing in expressing their opposition to the dismal human rights situation in Iran. In an unprecedented manner, diplomats lined up the night before to ensure they would have the opportunity to speak at the UPR hearing. In this way, Western countries like the United States, Canada, Israel and others set a distinct tone of discontent with Iran’s human rights violations.
NGOs alarmed by the possible outcome of the May vote have also begun lobbying against Iran’s candidacy, using the UPR as a platform to encourage a more general discussion of the situation in the Islamic Republic. Philippe Dam of Human Rights Watch said he hopes that even Iran’s allies will understand that a seat for a state synonymous with the broadcasted death last June of protester Neda Soltan, would “kill” the council, rendering it a useless political tool.
To you and me, the idea of Iran joining the Human Rights Council may sound about as reasonable as letting the fox guard the henhouse. But to some who actually care deeply about the subject, it does not seem so catastrophic. An ambassador of one Western country that harshly condemned Iran during the UPR, for example, told me that giving the Islamic republic a seat at the HRC may finally prove to the world that the last thing this body cares about is precisely the ideal on which it was founded: human rights.
The cynicism is understandable. But while it may be tempting to wait for the final straw to break the council’s back, I do not believe that we have the luxury of waiting to see just how far it may bend, if only out of the sense of responsibility to those who have been raped, murdered and tortured by the world’s darkest regimes. Though the process can be infuriating and at times discouraging, democracies must continue to play by the unfortunate rules of this politicized, cumbersome and indifferent body, and make every effort to steer the Human Rights Council toward its original goals.
Meital Nir is a member of the World Jewish Diplomatic Corps, which attended the HRC session as part of a broad coalition of human rights organizations fighting the abuse of human right in Iran. The preceding was provided by World Jewish Congress and was first published in the Haaretz on 12 March 2010.