UN SOUNDS ALARM OVER RECORD ARCTIC ICE MELT
GENEVA: The Arctic’s sea ice melted at a record pace in 2012, the ninth-hottest year on record, compounding concerns about climate change underscored by extreme weather such as Hurricane Sandy, the United Nations (UN) weather agency said on Thursday. In a report on the situation in 2012, the World Meterological Organization (WMO) said that during the August to September melting season, the Arctic’s sea ice cover was just 3.4 million square kilometers—a full 18 percent less than the previous record low set in 2007. WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud dubbed it a “disturbing sign of climate change.” The WMO said that the 2012 global land and ocean surface temperature was estimated to be 0.45 degrees Celsius above the 1961-1990 average of 14.0 degrees C. That marked the ninth warmest year since records began in 1850 and the 27th consecutive year that the global land and ocean temperatures were above the 1961-1990 average, it underlined.
GIANT RUBBER DUCK SAILS INTO HK
HONG KONG: An inflatable rubber duck six storys high sailed into Hong Kong harbour on Thursday to the cheers of hundreds of people who gathered to watch the classic bathtime-inspired artistic creation. The bright yellow 16.5-m tall rubber duck, conceived by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, dwarfed other craft as it was towed by a tugboat a fraction of its size past the city’s iconic skyline to a mooring. Since 2007, the art installation has travelled to 13 different cities in nine countries ranging from Brazil to Australia in its journey around the world.
PETRAEUS TO TEACH AT LA COLLEGE
LOS ANGELES: Former Central Intelligence Agency director David Petraeus, who quit his position last year after revelations about an extra-marital affair, will teach at a California college this year, it was confirmed on Thursday. Petraeus, who has already agreed a teaching job in New York later this year, will join the University of Southern California’s (USC) faculty as a professor to teach classes and participate in seminars and panels, a USC statement said.
BOMB DESTROYS POLICE STATION
TRIPOLI: A bomb destroyed a police station in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi early on Thursday but caused no casualties, a security source told Agence France-Presse, in a second attack targeting the building. “An explosive device was thrown at al-Baraka police station in Benghazi, destroying what remained of the building after the bomb attack that targeted it last weekend. The explosion caused no casualties,” he added.
JAPAN TO SIGN NUCLEAR TREATY WITH UAE: PM
ABU DHABI: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country will sign a nuclear treaty with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday as he stressed Tokyo’s cooperation with its Middle East partners. Abe, making his second visit to the Gulf country as prime minister, arrived late on Wednesday in the UAE, Japan’s eighth largest world economic partner, to take part in a Japan-UAE Business Forum. At the forum, he said his country will sign a nuclear treaty with the UAE, without elaborating. Sources close to Abe said the treaty will be signed in Dubai during Abe’s meeting with its ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.
KADHAFI’S SON APPEARS IN COURT
ZINTAN: Seif al-Islam, son of Libya’s late dictator Moamer Kadhafi, appeared in court on Thursday charged with illegally trying to communicate with the outside world in June last year, an Agence France-Presse journalist reported. The man once assumed to be his father’s heir appeared in good health, wearing blue clothes, at the hearing in the western town of Zintan. Two lawyers, including one named by the court, represented him. The judges decided to adjourn the trial until September 19 at the request of the defence team.
KIDS’ ALLERGIES ON RISE IN US
WASHINGTON: Children’s allergies are on the rise in the United States and are particularly common among the wealthiest in society, said a US government report on Thursday. Skin allergies such as eczema have risen the most over the past decade, going from a prevalence of 7.4 percent in 1997-1999 to 12.5 percent in 2009-2011, said the report by the National Center for Health Statistics on children up to age 17. Food allergies also rose from 3.4 percent to 5.1 percent over that time span.
APRIL DEADLIEST MONTH FOR IRAQ
BAGHDAD: April was Iraq’s deadliest month in nearly five years, the United Nations said on Thursday, with more than 700 people killed in violence that has raised fears of a return to sectarian conflict. “The month of April was the deadliest since June 2008. A total of 712 people were killed and another 1,633 were wounded in acts of terrorism and acts of violence,” a statement from the United Nations mission in Iraq said. “Baghdad was the worst-affected governorate, with a total of 697 civilian casualties (211 killed, 486 injured), followed by Diyala, Salaheddin, Kirkuk, Nineveh and Anbar,” the statement said.