Investigators blocked from attack site in Syria
Douma, Syria – Syrian and Russian authorities prevented independent investigators from going to the scene of a suspected chemical attack, the head of the chemical watchdog group said Monday, blocking international efforts to establish what happened and who was to blame.
The U.S. and France say they have evidence that poison gas was used in the April 7 attack in the opposition-held town of Douma, killing dozens of people, and that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s military was behind it.
But they have made none of that evidence public, even after they, along with Britain, bombarded sites they said were linked to Syria’s chemical weapons program.
Syria and its ally Russia deny any chemical attack took place, and Russian officials went even further, accusing Britain of staging a “fake” chemical attack. British Prime Minister Theresa May accused the two countries – whose forces now control the town east of Damascus – of trying to cover up evidence.
The lack of access to Douma by inspectors from the watchdog group, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, has left unanswered questions about the attack.
OPCW Director-General Ahmet Uzumcu said Syrian and Russian officials cited “pending security issues” in keeping its inspectors from reaching Douma.
“The team has not yet deployed to Douma,” Uzumcu told an executive council meeting of the OPCW in The Hague.
Instead, Syrian authorities offered them 22 people to interview as witnesses, he said, adding that he hoped “all necessary arrangements will be made … to allow the team to deploy to Douma as soon as possible.”
Washington – Global warming is screwing up nature’s intricately timed dinner hour, often making hungry critters and those on the menu show up at much different times, a new study shows.
Timing is everything in nature. Bees have to be around and flowers have to bloom at the same time for pollination to work, and hawks need to migrate at the same time as their prey. In many cases, global warming is interfering with that timing, scientists said.
A first-of-its-kind global mega analysis on the biological timing of 88 species that rely on another life form shows that on average species are moving out of sync by about six days a decade, although some pairs are actually moving closer together.
While other studies have looked at individual pairs of species and how warming temperatures have changed their migration, breeding and other timing, the study in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences gives the first global look at a worsening timing problem.
These changes in species timing are considerably greater than they were before the 1980s, the study said.
“There isn’t really any clear indication that it is going to slow down or stop in the near future,” said study lead author Heather Kharouba, an ecologist at the University of Ottawa.
police were ready to help protect the OPCW experts on their visit to Douma, said Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko of the Russian military’s Reconciliation Center in Syria. Igor Kirillov, a Russian chemical weapons protection expert in The Hague, said the team is set to visit the site Wednesday.
Earlier Monday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the inspectors could not go to the site because they needed approval from the U.N. Department for Safety and Security. He denied that Russia was hampering the mission and suggested the approval was held up because of the Western airstrikes.
“As far as I understand, what is hampering a speedy resolution of this problem is the consequences of the illegal, unlawful military action that Great Britain and other countries conducted on Saturday,” he said.
However, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the United Nations has “provided the necessary clearances for the OPCW team to go about its work in Douma. We have not denied the team any request for it to go to Douma.”
At least 40 people are believed to have died April 7 in Douma, which until Saturday was the last rebelheld town near the capital and the target of a government offensive in February and March that killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands.
For example in the Netherlands, the Eurasian sparrow hawk has been late for dinner because its prey, the blue tit, has – over 16 years – arrived almost six days earlier than the hawk.
It’s most noticeable and crucial in Washington state’s Lake Washington, where over the past 25 years, plant plankton are now blooming 34 days earlier than the zooplankton that eat them. That’s crucial because that’s messing with the bottom of the food chain, Kharouba said.
In Greenland, the plants are showing up almost three days earlier than the caribou, so more of the baby caribou are dying “because there wasn’t enough food,” Kharouba said.
With warmer temperatures, most species moved their habits earlier, but interdependent species didn’t always move at the same rate. It’s the relative speed of changes in timing that’s key, Kharouba said.
Because of the small number of species involved in small areas over different studies, Kharouba’s team could not find a statistically significant link between temperature and changes in how species sync together. But what she saw, she said, “is consistent with climate change.”
“It demonstrates that many species interactions from around the world are in a state of rapid flux,” Boston University biology professor Richard Primack said.
a blue tit flies among dried plants covered with hoarfrost near Dukora, Belarus. A study says global warming is messing up nature’s timed dinner hour.
Protestors in London chant against the British government carrying out airstrikes in Syria.