U.S. coral reefs heading for extinction by mid-century

The researchers said that 90% of Hawaii’s reefs now exhibit bleaching. Some areas have lost more than half their coral cover.

Coral reefs throughout U.S. ocean regions are ailing and dying, according to NOAA surveyors who say that “bleaching” is taking a severe toll on coral in Hawaii, Florida, Guam, and Puerto Rico. They expect all of these areas’ coral to be wiped out by 2050 at the latest, absent major action to curb climate change.

“The idea we will sustain reefs in the US 100 years from now is pure imagination. At the current rate it will be just 20 or 30 years, it’s just a question of time,” said Kim Cobb, an oceanographer at Georgia Tech. “The overall health of reefs will be severely compromised by the mid-point of the century and we are already seeing the first steps in that process.”

The researchers said that 90% of Hawaii’s reefs now exhibit bleaching. Some areas have lost more than half their coral cover.

Bleaching is when warming ocean temperatures cause algae living inside coral to disappear. Coral need the algae to provide them with vital nutrients, so the algae’s departure leads to coral starving and losing their color to turn a bleach-like white. If the water does not return soon enough to cooler temperatures, the coral die. Global warming fuels bleaching because the oceans absorb about 90% of the added heat generated by surface-level greenhouse-gas emissions.

The U.S. coral reefs’ plight resembles similar bleaching taking place throughout the Great Barrier Reef near Australia. There, too, coral reefs have suffered massive die-offs in just the last two years, and researchers warn that the entire reef system could be dead by 2050.

Son of Lockerbie bomber says Britain brought Manchester attack on itself

The son of the Lockerbie bomber has claimed that the United Kingdom brought the Manchester attack on itself.

The son of the Lockerbie bomber has claimed that the United Kingdom brought the Manchester attack on itself.

He has also warned that Britain faces an unprecedented wave of terror attacks from Libya.

Khaled al-Megrahi said that his country had turned into a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists and that there was “only a sea” between them and Europe.

Megrahi said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took advantage of the power vacuum left after the West help depose Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi in 2011.

According to Megrahi- whose father Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was the only person ever convicted of the 1998 Pan Am Flight 103 bombing – Isil was then allowed to expand due to the “inaction” of Britain and its allies.

His comments came a week after Salman Abedi, 22, carried out a suicide attack at a pop concert at the Manchester Arena, leaving 22 dead and dozens injured.

Megrahi, the son of Libyan parents who were was granted refuge by the UK from Gaddafi in the early 1990s, is believed to have come back to Britain from Libya just days before the terror attack.

“It was Manchester, but tomorrow it will be some other place. The militants will kill each other here and then come to each city in the west,” Mr. Megrahi said from his home in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

The United Kingdom joined a coalition of countries bombing Libya in support of the opposition, in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

Last year, a parliamentary report that the military intervention in Libya, ordered by former Prime Minister David Cameron, relied on flawed intelligence and hastened the North African state’s economic and political collapse.

Megrahi urged Western powers to resume airstrikes on the militants to curb the terror group’s growing extremist network.

Meghrabi senior was convicted of planting the bomb which downed a plane over Lockerbie, killing 270 people.

He was released from a Scottish jail in 2009 on compassionate grounds because of cancer.

Deadly storms wreck Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan meteorologists forecast rainfalls of more than 100 millimeters in central Sri Lanka within the next day-and-a-half, which would result in more mudslides.

At least 150 people are dead and hundreds of thousands more displaced amid torrential rainfall that has created deadly floods and mudslides throughout the country. The rains continue and may cause even more havoc, according to officials who call this weather event the worst rainstorms that Sri Lanka has endured since 2003.

The death toll so far is 169, as reported by the nation’s Disaster Management Center. The agency also reports that 95 people are injured, 111 more are missing, and a grand total of nearly 500,000 have been in one way or another affected. Government disaster-relief teams are deploying to retrieve the dead and to rescue stranded survivors, many of whom face further peril from roaming crocodiles who have arrived into their villages with the floods.

Sri Lankan meteorologists forecast rainfalls of more than 100 millimeters in central Sri Lanka within the next day-and-a-half, which would result in more mudslides. The state-run National Building Research Organization urged residents of seven of Sri Lanka’s 25 districts to watch for unstable mud slopes and to evacuate if the rains continue for another 24 hours.

Floods are a recurring phenomenon in Sri Lanka and the whole South Asia region. More than 200 people died in floods in India in 2015, while floods in summer 2016 killed 75 Nepalis. Both storm patterns forced hundreds of thousands of locals to flee their homes. Sri Lanka itself suffered floods and landslides in 22 of its 25 districts last year, and the consequent casualty toll was 104 dead and 95 injured.

Great Barrier Reef succumbing to climate change more quickly than expected

The world’s largest living structure shrank dramatically in the last two years and will continue to do so in the face of warming sea temperatures.

The world’s largest living structure shrank dramatically in the last two years and will continue to do so in the face of warming sea temperatures. The Great Barrier Reef, a 1600-miles-long coral formation off the Australian coast, is dying off from coral “bleaching” at a faster rate than coral researchers had recently projected.

Bleaching is a byproduct of rising sea temperatures brought on by global warming. The rising temperatures cause the coral to expel algae that live inside them and provide them with vital nutrients. As the algae level, the coral’s skeletons are exposed and they die. Many ecologists think that the whole reef could be extinct by 2050 if present trends continue.

Australian officials, citing aerial and surface-level surveys of the coral formations, concluded that around 29% of the reef’s shallow water corals died from bleaching in 2016 alone, an upward revision from earlier estimates of 22%. And two-thirds of the reef have suffered bleaching in just the past two years, with the most coral deaths occurring in the northern areas of the reef. Most of the bleaching took place in two distinct bleaching events that hit the reef in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

The rate at which the reef is now bleaching is unprecedented, according to researchers at James Cool University in Australia, who point out that this is the first time that bleaching has been known to impact the reef two years in a row.

And Russell Reichelt, chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, said that more coral decline is likely this year. Ecologists say that coral reefs can recover from bleaching if the waters cool in time, but the pace of the current bleaching trends may make a recovery unattainable. The ecologists call for worldwide action on global warming as a critical first step to saving the reef.

ISIS-linked militia seizes town in Philippines

A days-long battle between Islamic militants and government security forces erupted this week on Mindanao, an island in the southern Philippines.

A days-long battle between Islamic militants and government security forces erupted this week on Mindanao, an island in the southern Philippines. A militia known as Maute seized the local city of Marawi and forced a Philippine governmental armed response that left 46 or more people dead—including 15 government security personnel and 31 militants—and resulted in thousands of residents evacuating.

Marawi is a Muslim-majority city with around 200, 000 residents. The violence began after the military launched a failed raid to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a senior leader of a jihadi group called Abu Sayyaf, which has been involved in piracy, kidnappings, and taking and beheading hostages. Hapilon is also a member of Maute, an insurgent group that has ties to ISIS.

Following the botched raid, an emboldened Maute invaded Mindanao and proceeded to burn down a school and church and to open a jail and release a hundred inmates. Once they had secured the city, the militants raised the ISIS flag over the city center.

The Philippine government sent in armed helicopters, armored vehicle battalions, and special forces to retake the city. Gun battles continue as of Friday afternoon. The Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte, imposed martial law over the island and promised to slaughter those who are responsible.

“If there’s an open defiance, you will die,” he said on Wednesday. “And if it means many people dying, so be it.”

The southern Philippines has been the scene of militant violence in recent years. The armed insurgents may be growing their ranks with volunteers from overseas, according to Jose Calida, solicitor general, who told reporters that some of the militant gunmen fighting in Marawi come from Indonesia and Malaysia, among other countries.

Chipotle customers targeted by companywide data breach

These data breaches all occurred between March 24 and April 18, pilfering individual Chipotle chains individually and for varying lengths of time.

Hackers breached Chipotle’s internal systems and stole customer payment data from most of the company’s restaurant chains over a period of three weeks earlier this year, the company said on Friday. Chris Arnold, a company spokesman, said in an email that the company has yet to determine exactly how many customers may have been compromised.

These data breaches all occurred between March 24 and April 18, pilfering individual Chipotle chains individually and for varying lengths of time. The hackers used a malware program to carry out the attack and in the process acquired customer account numbers and internal verification codes, data that they could use to steal funds from debit-card-linked bank accounts, make unauthorized online purchases using the customers’ debit cards, or open new credit cards in the customers’ names.

Chipotle said that it has cleared the malware from its systems since then. It did not personally notify affected customers, according to Arnold, because the company does not collect and store customers’ names and addresses at the time of purchase.

The revelation threatens Chipotle’s sales, which previously took a dip in 2015 when hundreds of customers contracted foodborne infections, including E. coli, salmonella, and norovirus. The company may also be punished with civil fines for having allowed customer data to be so compromised, security analysts told Reuters.

“If your data was stolen through a data breach that means you were somewhere out of compliance” with payment industry data security standards, said Julie Conroy, research director at Aite Group, a research and advisory firm.

Brazilian researchers use fish skin to treat burn victims

The experimental method uses tilapia skin, which the researchers chose because it has a high concentration of collagens.

Fish skin might look nothing like human skin at first glance. But researchers at Brazil’s Jose Frota Institute have successfully grafted it onto 56 burn victims and attained highly promising results.

The experimental method uses tilapia skin, which the researchers chose because it has a high concentration of collagens. Collagens are proteins that human skin needs collagen to repair damage such as a severe burn and prevent or minimize scars. A standard treatment for a burn victim in most of the world is to cover the burn site with either pig skin or some of the patient’s own skin from another part of his or her body. The collagen from this grafted skin aids healing.

“We got a great surprise when we saw that the amount of collagen proteins, types 1 and 3, which are very important for scarring, exist in large quantities in tilapia skin, even more than in human skin and other skins,” Dr. Edmar Maciel, a burn specialist at the institute told Stat News.

In Fortaleza, Brazil, where the Jose Frota Institute is located, both types of skin tissue are hard to come by. Tilapia, on the other hand, are plentiful in lakes, rivers, and fish farms throughout Brazil. So the institute tested tilapia skin as a potential cost-effective alternative.

Patients reported great benefits, including decreased pain at their burn sites. The skin can also be preserved for up to two years if refrigerated and is cheaper than conventional human or pig skin.

Clinical trials are ongoing, but researchers may export the treatment to hospitals in the United States in the near future.

Iraqi forces renew assault on ISIS positions in Mosul

Iraqi security forces have begun a new assault operation to drive ISIS militants from the city of Mosul. Government aircraft dropped leaflets Friday urging residents to evacuate.

Iraqi security forces have begun a new assault operation to drive ISIS militants from the city of Mosul. Government aircraft dropped leaflets Friday urging residents to evacuate.

The city is the last major urban center over which ISIS retains control. An Iraqi government campaign to retake it has been under way since October last year, with thousands of Iraqi troops deployed alongside Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Shiite militias, and Sunni Arab tribesmen in a united armed front against the residual ISIS insurgency. U.S. warplanes provide aerial support.

“Army forces attacked al-Shifaa neighbourhood and the Republican Hospital, federal police forces al-Zinjili neighbourhood, and counter-terrorism forces attacked al-Saha al-Oula neighbourhood,” the Joint Operations Command said.

Iraqi troops have held the city’s eastern half since January, but ISIS remains entrenched in a few sectors in the “Old City” area of Mosul’s western side. Iraqi estimates place the number of militants at around 1,000; down from 5,000 or more last September.

The fighting has caused hundreds of thousands of city residents to flee. Coalition air strikes are among the threats spurring them to leave: Last Thursday, the United States admitted that 105 Mosul residents died in just one air strike that the United States had carried out in March.

But ground combat imperils civilians, as well. The Iraqi military has opened a formal investigation into allegations that ground troops have abused and killed civilians during the fighting. United Nations surveys suggest that as many as 8,000 civilians have been killed in the battle for Mosul, although the actual number may be even higher as the UN estimates count only persons who are transferred to medical facilities.

NASA to chase down an asteroid worth more than all the money on Earth

For comparison, the grant total value of all of the currency on Earth is only around $60 trillion.

Some space rocks are more valuable than others. One asteroid called 16 Psyche stands out, not only because it is almost all metal, but because of that metal’s calculated price in Earth money: $28 thousand-quadrillion. For comparison, the grant total value of all of the currency on Earth is only around $60 trillion. The asteroid’s attributes have attracted the attention of NASA, which is planning to send a robot spacecraft to study it in 2022.

This mission is expected to reach 16 Psyche in 2026. The asteroid’s location is in the asteroid belt, which lies between Mars and Jupiter, where it follows an orbit that circles around the sun every five years.

The asteroid owes its value to its composition, which is almost entirely metal. It is also massive by asteroid standards: Measuring 200 kilometers in width, and its mass is packed unusually densely. By NASA’s calculations, it holds 1% of the entire mass of the asteroid belt.

Astronomers actually suspect it is not a mere asteroid at all, but the former core of a bygone planet. The robot mission will drill into 16 Psyche’s surface and analyze it to test this hypothesis. If it proves true, it will be our one and only opportunity to view a planetary core up close. Our own planet’s core could never be viewed in this way, since it is buried under hundreds of thousands of miles of rock.

“16 Psyche is the only known object of its kind in the solar system, and this is the only way humans will ever visit a core,” said Lindsey Elkins-Tanton, Arizona State University researcher and principal investigator. “We learn about inner space by visiting outer space.”

Egypt on alert after deadly bus attack

A manhunt is under way in Egypt for the perpetrators of a Friday morning armed attack on a bus convoy carrying Coptic Christians to prayer at a monastery south of Cairo.

A manhunt is under way in Egypt for the perpetrators of a Friday morning armed attack on a bus convoy carrying Coptic Christians to prayer at a monastery south of Cairo. At least 28 passengers died and 25 others suffered wounds in the assault.

No group has claimed responsibility yet for the attack, but the incident follows several recent Islamic State acts of terrorism against the country’s Copt community and pledges by Islamic State leaders to carry out more attacks soon. Those earlier incidents include a December suicide bombing of a church in Cairo that took 29 lives; and shootings in February in the town of el-Arish that forced Christian residents to flee en masse.

And on April 9, a twin suicide bombing of church services in Alexandria and Tanta in which 46 people died. President al-Sisi declared a three-month “state of emergency” in the wake of this terrorist act.

Today’s incident occurred in the Minya province, 85 miles south of Cairo, where the Christian group was traveling in two buses and a truck. The three vehicles were en route to St. Samuel’s Monastery, where the Christians intended to gather and pray. According to officials, masked gunmen in three pickup trucks stopped the convoy on the road and opened fire with automatic assault rifles. The gunmen all escaped.

Security forces have installed dozens of checkpoints along the road leading to the monastery and dispatched multiple patrols to search for the attackers.

Coptic Christians are Egypt’s primary Christian community and make up 10% of Egypt’s total population. They trace their origin back to the apostle Mark.