• Nation and World Briefs
    May 07,2014
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    WASHINGTON

    Warming brings weird weather to U.S.

    Most Americans are already feeling man-made global warming, from heat waves to wild storms to longer allergy seasons. And it is likely to get worse and more expensive, says a new federal report that is heating up political debate along with the temperature.

    Shortly after the report came out Tuesday, President Barack Obama used several television weathermen to make his point about the bad weather news and a need for action to curb carbon pollution before it is too late.

    “We want to emphasize to the public, this is not some distant problem of the future. This is a problem that is affecting Americans right now,” Obama told “Today” show weathercaster Al Roker. “Whether it means increased flooding, greater vulnerability to drought, more severe wildfires — all these things are having an impact on Americans as we speak.”

    Climate change’s assorted harms “are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond,” the National Climate Assessment concluded, emphasizing the impact of too-wild weather as well as simple warming.

    Still, it’s not too late to prevent the worst of climate change, says the 840-page report, which the Obama administration is highlighting as it tries to jump-start often-stalled efforts to curb heat-trapping gases. Said White House science adviser John Holdren: “It’s a good-news story about the many opportunities to take cost-effective actions to reduce the damage.”



    SAN FRANCISCO

    Alibaba Group seeks $1B in IPO

    China’s Alibaba Group is aiming to raise $1 billion in a long-awaited IPO likely to have ripple effects across the Internet.

    Tuesday’s filing sets the stage for the technology industry’s biggest initial public offering since short messaging service Twitter and its early investors collected $1.8 billion in its stock market debut last fall. Alibaba could still try to raise more money and even surpass the $16 billion that Facebook did two years ago, depending on investor demand for its stock .

    For now, Alibaba isn’t specifying how much stock will be sold in the IPO or setting a price range. Those details will emerge as the IPO progresses, a process is likely to take three to four months to complete before Alibaba’s shares begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Although it’s not nearly as well-known as Facebook, Alibaba has emerged as an e-commerce powerhouse that has been making more money than Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc. combined. What’s more, the company is still growing at a rapid clip as its network of online services, including Taobao, Tmall and Alipay, mine a Chinese Internet market that already has twice as many Web surfers as the U.S.



    SAN FRANCISCO

    Can water flow uphill?

    Water has flowed from Northern California’s snow-capped peaks to the south’s parched cities ever since the California Aqueduct was built in the 1960s. Now, amid one of the worst droughts in history, state officials are considering an audacious plan to send some of the water back uphill.

    State water engineers say using pumps to reverse the flow of the aqueduct would be a first in a drought. It would also be a complex engineering challenge that could cost millions of dollars,

    Still, water agencies in the desperately dry farmlands around Bakersfield say the investment is worth it to keep grapevines, pistachios and pomegranate trees alive. Agencies as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area are talking about a similar project.

    “There is no place on planet Earth where an aqueduct is designed to go backwards,” said Geoff Shaw, an engineer with the state Department of Water Resources who is reviewing the proposal. “But they have a need for water in a place where they can’t fulfill it, and this is their plan to fix it.”

    The plan the department is evaluating was drawn up by five of the local agencies, or districts, that sell irrigation water to farmers. They would bear the cost of the project, which they have estimated at $1.5 million to $9.5 million.


    WASHINGTON

    GOP primaries kick-off

    North Carolina Republicans sorted through their choices to challenge Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan on Tuesday, and Speaker John Boehner sought re-nomination to Congress from Ohio, first in a springtime spate of primaries pitting the GOP establishment against tea party challengers.

    Indiana also picked candidates for the November elections, when control of Congress will be at stake for the final two years of the President Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House.

    Several Republican House incumbents drew strong primary challenges, including Reps. Walter Jones of North Carolina, David Joyce of Ohio and Susan Brooks of Indiana.

    Also in North Carolina, both parties held primaries to pick candidates for a special election to replace former Rep. Melvin Watt in a heavily Democratic seat, and former “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken was one of three contenders for the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers in the fall.

    Tuesday marked the beginning of the political primary season in earnest, and over the next several months Republicans will hold more contests featuring incumbents or other establishment figures against tea party challengers.



    WASHINGTON

    Monica Lewinsky speaks out on affair

    Monica Lewinsky says there’s no question her boss — Bill Clinton — “took advantage” of her when he was president.

    But she says their affair was consensual and if there was any abuse involved, it came afterward, when Clinton’s inner circle tried to discredit her and the president’s opponents used her as a political pawn.

    The former White House intern, now 40, writes about her life in the next issue of Vanity Fair magazine, out this month. In released excerpts, she says she’s perhaps the first Internet era scapegoat and wants to speak out on behalf of other victims of online humiliation.

    Her willingness to step forward may come at an inopportune time as former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton considers running for president. Republicans have signaled they don’t consider her husband’s scandal from the late 1990s out of bounds in the realm of 2016-style political dialogue.
    – The Associated Press
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