Hawaii lava flows into Pacific Ocean

Hawaii faces a new hazard as lava flows from Kilauea’s volcanic eruption could produce clouds of acid fumes as they reach the Pacific.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Russia-Crimea bridge opened by Vladimir Putin

The Crimean Bridge or colloquially the Kerch Strait Bridge, is a pair of parallel bridges constructed by the Russian Federation, to span the Strait of Kerch between the Taman Peninsula of Krasnodar Krai (Russia) and the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea (Russian-annexed, internationally recognised as part of Ukraine). The bridge complex provides for both vehicular traffic and for rail. With the length of 18.1 km (11.2 mi) it is the longest bridge in both Russia[9] and Europe. Having been considered at least since 1903, planning for the bridge began in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea. In January 2015, the multibillion-dollar contract for the construction of the bridge was awarded to Arkady Rotenberg’s Stroygazmontazh. Construction of the bridge commenced in May 2015; the road bridge was opened on 16 May 2018 while the completion of the rail link is scheduled for early 2019. The bridge was christened Crimean Bridge after an online vote in December 2017, while “Kerch Strait Bridge” was the second and “Reunification Bridge” the third most popular suggestions.

 

The Russian government’s draft resolution of 1 September 2014 required the bridge to have 4 lanes of vehicle traffic and a double-track railway. An official video from October 2015 contained a CGI concept of the bridge design, annotated with various measurements. It showed a four-lane, flat deck highway bridge running parallel with the separate two-track railway. The main span over the Kerch Strait shipping channel has a steel arch support, 227 m (745 ft) wide with a 35 m (115 ft) clearance above the water to allow for ships to pass under. There are three segments: from the Taman Peninsula to Tuzla Spit is 7 km (4 mi); across Tuzla Island is 6.5 km (4.0 mi); and from Tuzla Island to the Crimean Peninsula is 5.5 km (3.4 mi) (19 km (12 mi) total).
Construction on the bridge began in May 2015. Approximately 200 bombs from the World War II era were found in the area during pre-construction clearance. Three temporary bridges were built, to facilitate access (independent of weather and currents) for main construction. By October 2015, the first of the temporary bridges had been constructed, connecting Tuzla Island and Taman Peninsula. The two shipping channel arches were lifted into position in August and October 2017. In October 2017, National Guard of Russia Director Viktor Zolotov announced a new “maritime brigade” is being formed as part of Russia’s Southern Military District to protect the bridge.

 

 

 

Puerto Rico braces for hurricane season

The U.S. federal agency tasked with restoring electricity to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean last year, is leaving the island while thousands still have no power heading into the next hurricane season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huge fissures open on Hawaiian volcano

Two new fissures opened on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, threatening nearby homes and prompting authorities to order new evacuations. Hawaii warned residents and airplanes to stay away after a plume of ash from the Kilauea volcano rose 12,000 feet into the air. Since the Kilauea volcano erupted May 3, it’s been one nightmare after another for residents in the southeast part of the Big Island. The US Geological Survey issued a red alert Tuesday, which means a major eruption is imminent or underway and ash could affect air traffic. Michelle Coombs of the USGS described it as ” very hazardous for aviation,” and said her team isn’t quite sure what caused Tuesday’s slightly more intense ash emissions. US Geological Survey officials have said a phreatic eruption could happen at a crater at the top of the Kilauea volcano. It could send ash plumes as far as 12 miles from the summit crater, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawaii residents displaced by erupting volcano

Thousands of residents have evacuated their homes in the southeastern area of Hawaii’s Big Island, as Kilauea’s eruptions destroy homes and block key access routes. The number of homes destroyed by Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has risen to 35, with the thousands of residents who have been evacuated still none the wiser on when they might be able to return. Hawaii County officials said a further four unspecified buildings had also been destroyed by lava and warned that fissures created by the main eruption are also causing steam and toxic gasses to vent out unpredictably. Authorities are monitoring the activity in each of the districts and some of the 1,700 residents displaced have had brief opportunities to return home to collect pets and essential possessions or medications.

 

 

 

 

 

At least 50 Palestinians shot dead by Israeli troops at Gaza border

At least 50 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded as violence exploded on the Gaza border just hours before America moved its embassy to Jerusalem. One man who was killed was 21 years old and was shot near the southeastern town of Khan Younis. Several dozen other protesters were overcome by tear gas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘It is a disaster’ : Kenyan dam bursts

A dam burst in Kenya after weeks of torrential rain, unleashing a torrent of water that smashed into two villages killing several people and causing “huge destruction”, rescue services and government officials said. The walls of the Patel dam, situated on top of a hill in Nakuru county, 190 km (120 miles) northwest of Nairobi, gave way late on Wednesday. Floodwaters swept away powerlines, homes and buildings, including a primary school, a Reuters photographer on the scene said, as rescue workers picked through rubble and mud searching for survivors. East Africa, much of which suffered severe drought last year, has been hit by heavy rain over the last two months that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people in Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Uganda.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey hosts massive joint military drill

The Efes Live-Fire Military Drills, one of Turkey’s biggest military exercises, kicked off in the Aegean province of Izmir with the attendance of 21 allied countries. Dozens of fighter jets, tanks, armoured vehicles, attack helicopters, war ships, and special forces operators from across the world participated in the exercise which is aimed at developing the combined combat capabilities of Turkey’s military and regional partners. An exhibition also showcased Turkey’s newest locally produced weaponry, which defence industry representatives say is in demand from a number countries. And Turkish officials are hoping the successful conclusion of the exercise will highlight the country’s role as an emerging global defense industry supplier. The exercise hosted by the Aegean Army Command of the Turkish Armed Forces will be held in Seferihisar district of Izmir province until May 11.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The race for Venezuela’s presidency

Presidential elections are scheduled to be held in Venezuela on 20 May 2018. Considered a snap election, the original electoral date was scheduled for December 2018, pulled ahead to 22 April 2018, but then delayed for additional weeks to May 2018. Several Venezuelan NGOs such as Foro Penal Venezolano, Súmate, Voto Joven, the Venezuelan Electoral Observatory and the Citizen Electoral Network, have expressed their concern over the irregularities of the electoral schedule, including the lack of the Constituent Assembly’s competences to summon the elections, impeding participation of opposition political parties and the lack of time for standard electoral functions. Because of this, the United Nations Human Rights Council, European Union, the Organization of American States, the Lima Group and countries such as the United States and Colombia have rejected the electoral process. However, countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Russia have voiced their support for the announcement.

 

Following the death of President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela faced a severe socioeconomic crisis during the presidency of his successor, Nicolás Maduro. Due to the country’s high levels of urban violence, inflation, and chronic shortages of basic goods attributed primarily to the devaluated currency price of Venezuelan bolívar and to some extent due to economic policies such as strict price controls, and civil insurrection in Venezuela culminated into the 2014–17 protests. Protests occurred over the years, with demonstrations occurring in various sizes depending on the events Venezuelans were facing during the crisis.
After facing years of crisis, the Venezuelan opposition pursued a recall referendum against President Maduro, presenting a petition to the CNE on 2 May 2016. By August 2016, the momentum to recall President Maduro appeared to be progressing, with the CNE setting a date for the second phase of collecting signatures, though it made the schedule strenuous, stretching the process into 2017 which made it impossible for the opposition to activate new presidential elections. On 21 October 2016, the CNE suspended the referendum only days before preliminary signature-gatherings were to be held. The CNE blamed alleged voter fraud as the reason for the cancellation of the referendum. International observers criticized the move, stating that CNE’s decision made Maduro look as if he were seeking to rule as a dictator. Days after the recall movement was cancelled, 1.2 million Venezuelans protested throughout the country against the move, demanding President Maduro to leave office, with Caracas protests remaining calm while protests in other states resulted in clashes between demonstrators and authorities, leaving one policeman dead, 120 injured and 147 arrested. That day the opposition gave President Maduro a deadline of 3 November 2016 to hold elections, with opposition leader Henrique Capriles stating, “Today we are giving a deadline to the government. I tell the coward who is in Miraflores … that on 3 November the Venezuelan people are coming to Caracas because we are going to Miraflores.” By 7 December 2016, dialogue halted between the two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iraq’s first parliamentary election since Islamic State

For the first time since driving out Islamic State, Iraqis go to the polls in an election could shift the regional balance of power. The elections will take place six months after an independence referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, in which 93% voted in favour of independence. In retaliation, the Iraqi government led by Haider al-Abadi closed Erbil International Airport, seized control of all border crossings between Kurdistan and neighbouring countries and, with the help of the Hashd al-Shaabi militias, militarily seized control of disputed territories, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Nonetheless, Iraqi politicians called for dialogue with the Iraqi Kurdistan government and force them to formally annul the results.
The elections were originally scheduled for September 2017, but were delayed by six months due to the civil war with ISIS which ended in December 2017 with the recapture of their remaining territories. The largest Sunni Arab majority coalition, the Muttahidoon (Uniters for Reform), called for a further six month’s delay to allow displaced voters to return to their homes. A Sunni Arab MP described holding the elections at this time as a “military coup against the political process”. However, the Supreme Court ruled that delaying the elections would be unconstitutional.