Monday, August 5, 2013

Hot topic: Climate change will lead to more violence plus Sunday night crime stories

Continuing on with the hot topic of climate change, here is the third of several stories I included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (One year of Curiosity on Mars) on Daily Kos.*

RedOrbit: Global Rise In Violence May Be Another Effect Of Climate Change
Brett Smith for – Your Universe Online
August 2, 2013
From higher crime rates to a greater chance of social upheaval, a new study from researchers at Princeton University and the University of California, Berkeley predicts more violence across the globe will be one of the effects of climate change.

Based on an analysis of 12,000 years of historical and climate data culled from 60 different studies in fields ranging from archaeology to political science, the research team concluded an uptick in violence will accompany rising temperatures and lower precipitation levels, according to their report in the journal Science.

“We often think of modern society as largely independent of the environment, due to technological advances, but our findings challenge that notion,” said study co-author Edward Miguel, a professor of environmental and resource economics at UC Berkeley.
Follow over the link for the complete press release from the University of California, Berkeley, along with two Sundays of news about violence, both criminal and political, that made the top stories list on Reuters.

Warmer climate strongly affects human conflict and violence worldwide, says study
By Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations | August 1, 2013
BERKELEY — Shifts in climate are strongly linked to human violence around the world, and according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and Princeton University, even relatively minor departures from normal temperatures or rainfall can substantially increase the risk of conflict.

The study, which includes more data than prior research in this field and covers all major regions of the globe, shows the Earth’s climate plays a more influential role in human affairs than previously thought. The results were published today (Thursday, Aug. 1) in the journal Science.

The authors found similar patterns of conflict around the world that were linked to changes in climatic, such as increased drought or higher than average annual temperature. Examples include spikes in domestic violence in India and Australia; increased assaults and murders in the United States and Tanzania; ethnic violence in Europe and South Asia; land invasions in Brazil; police using force in the Netherlands; civil conflicts throughout the tropics; and even the collapse of Mayan and Chinese empires.

The study could have critical implications for understanding the impact of future climate change on human societies, as many climate models project global temperature increases of at least 2 degrees Celsius over the next 50 years.

The study draws on a variety of research fields including climatology, archaeology, economics, political science and psychology to provide a comprehensive look at how climatic changes shape human conflict and violence.

“What was lacking was a clear picture of what this body of research as a whole was telling us,” said Solomon Hsiang, the study’s lead author, who was a postdoctoral fellow in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy at Princeton during the research project and is now an assistant professor of public policy at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy. “We collected 60 existing studies containing 45 different data sets and we re-analyzed their data and findings using a common statistical framework. The results were striking.”

They examined various aspects of climate such as rainfall, drought or temperature, and their associations with various forms of violence within three broad categories of conflict:
  • Personal violence and crime such as murder, assault, rape, and domestic violence;
  • Intergroup violence and political instability, like civil wars, riots, ethnic violence, and land invasions;
  • Institutional breakdowns, such as abrupt and major changes in governing institutions or the collapse of entire civilizations.
The results proved all three types of conflict exhibit systematic and large responses to changes in climate, with the effect on intergroup conflict being the most pronounced. Conflict responded most consistently to temperature, with all 27 out of 27 studies of modern societies finding a positive relationship between high temperatures and greater violence.

A central contribution of the study was to develop a method for comparing results around the world, because the nature of climatic events differs across locations.  The authors’ new approach was to convert climate changes into location-specific units known to statisticians as standard deviations.

“We found that a 1 standard deviation shift towards hotter conditions causes the likelihood of personal violence to rise 4 percent and intergroup conflict to rise 14 percent,” said Marshall Burke, the study’s co-lead author and a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

“We often think of modern society as largely independent of the environment, due to technological advances, but our findings challenge that notion,” said study coauthor Edward Miguel, UC Berkeley’s Oxfam Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics and director of the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA) based at UC Berkeley.

“Our results shed new light on how the future climate will shape human societies,” said Burke.  The findings of the study suggest that a global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius could increase the rate of intergroup conflicts, such as civil wars, by over 50 percent in many parts of the world.

The researchers said that exactly why climate affects conflict and violence is the most pressing question for future related research. While the study finds strong evidence that climatic events may be a cause of conflict, the researchers stressed that they are not claiming that climate is the only or primary cause of conflict, cautioning that conflict dynamics are complex and remain poorly understood.
To support the thesis of the research, the past two Sundays of news on Reuters have seen a lot of stories about criminal and political violence, especially among the five most read list.  Here are the stories from last week's Overnight News Digest: Fast Fill-in Edition on Daily Kos.

Egypt's Brotherhood stands ground after killings
By Maggie Fick and Yasmine Saleh
CAIRO | Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:11pm EDT
(Reuters) - Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters stood their ground near a Cairo mosque on Sunday, a day after at least 72 were shot dead by Egyptian security forces, braced for a move against them by the army chief who ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi made his first appearance since Saturday's bloodshed, smiling before television cameras at a graduation ceremony for police recruits in starched white uniforms.

He received a standing ovation and was hailed by Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim as "Egypt's devoted son". Fawning coverage in state and private media reflected Sisi's rising political star, in a country ruled by former military officers for six decades before Mursi's election in 2012.
Driver of derailed Spanish train charged with 79 counts of homicide
By Tracy Rucinski
SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain | Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:09pm EDT
(Reuters) - The driver of a Spanish high-speed train that derailed and killed 79 people was released pending trial on charges of reckless homicide, a judge ruled on Sunday night.

Francisco Garzon, 52, had been under arrest since Thursday. He is suspected of driving the train too fast through a tight curve on the outskirts of the northwestern Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela.

Examining Magistrate Luis Alaez formally charged Garzon with "79 counts of homicide and numerous offences of bodily harm, all of them committed through professional recklessness," the court said in a statement.
Motive a mystery in Miami area mass shooting
By Zachary Fagenson
MIAMI | Sun Jul 28, 2013 4:32pm EDT
(Reuters) - Miami police on Sunday searched for a motive for a shooting rampage in which six people were killed by a gunman who set his apartment on fire before shooting several neighbors and taking others hostage.

They said they were investigating reports that the man, Pedro Alberto Vargas, 42, was in the process of being evicted and had had disputes with the building's management.

More than 100 police, including SWAT teams, stormed an apartment in Hialeah, a heavily-Hispanic suburb of Miami, in a pre-dawn raid on Saturday, killing Vargas and rescuing two hostages.
Speedboat driver charged with manslaughter in fatal New York crash
by Greg McCune and Edith Honan
Sat Jul 27, 2013 9:09pm EDT
(Reuters) - The pilot of a speedboat that was carrying six members of a wedding party when it crashed into a barge on the Hudson River was charged on Saturday with vehicular manslaughter in the death of one of the passengers, reported as the bride-to-be.

Jojo John, 35, was also charged with three counts of vehicular assault, said Rockland County Sheriff William Barbera. He was in custody at a local hospital, where he was being treated for injuries he suffered along with three others injured in the accident on Friday night.

The body of a woman was pulled from the water on Saturday by crews searching for two people missing from the crash north of New York City, Barbera said.
And here are the stories involving violence in tonight's Overnight News Digest: Sunday Night Fill-in Edition.

Thousands rally to support embattled Tunisia government
By Tarek Amara and Erika Solomon
TUNIS | Sat Aug 3, 2013 10:20pm EDT
(Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Tunisians came out in a show of force for the country's Islamist-led government on Saturday, in one of the largest demonstrations since the 2011 revolution.

Supporters of the ruling Ennahda party crowded into Kasbah Square next to the prime minister's office in the capital, Tunis. Ennahda officials said more than 150,000 attended. Fireworks flashed overhead and red Tunisian flags fluttered over a sea of demonstrators.

"No to coups, yes to elections," the crowd shouted, in a reference to the army-backed ouster of Egypt's elected Islamist president last month.
Egypt mediation gathers pace but Brotherhood leaders face trial
By Angus MacSwan and Shadia Nasralla
CAIRO | Sun Aug 4, 2013 6:43pm EDT
(Reuters) - Egypt's army-installed government said on Sunday it would give mediation a chance to resolve the crisis brought on by the overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, but warned that time was limited.

At the same time, a Cairo court announced that the leader of Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood and two other top officials will face trial in three weeks' time for crimes including incitement to murder during protests in the days before he was toppled.

That could complicate efforts by international envoys and Egyptian factions to launch a political process, encourage national reconciliation and avert further bloodshed.
Police shoot dead armed 14-year-old boy in New York City
By Jonathan Allen
NEW YORK | Sun Aug 4, 2013 5:19pm EDT
(Reuters) - A police officer shot an armed 14-year-old boy in New York City early on Sunday after he did not drop his gun when ordered, police said.

After hearing gunshots, two officers came across the boy, whom police identified as Shaaliver Douse, chasing another male down a street in the South Bronx, shooting after him with a 9-millimeter semi-automatic handgun as he ran, police said.
Man arrested after woman killed in California boardwalk hit-and-run rampage
By Dana Feldman
LOS ANGELES | Sun Aug 4, 2013 7:06pm EDT
(Reuters) - A California man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a driver plowed his car into pedestrians on the popular Venice Beach boardwalk, killing an Italian woman on her honeymoon and injuring 11 other people, police said on Sunday.

Witnesses said it appeared the car's driver had been aiming for pedestrians on Saturday while driving down the popular oceanside walkway at speeds up to 20 miles per hour while people screamed and scrambled to get out of the way.

"Bodies were flying in the air and people were screaming. It was absolute mayhem," eyewitness Dave Blackburn told KABC-TV.
Yes, I know that "if it bleeds, it leads," but previous week's ONDs featuring news from Reuters didn't have anywhere near the number of breaking violent crime and protest stories the past two week's stories did.  Instead, they featured accidental poisonings in India and non-violent financial and corporate crimes.  Speaking of which, here's one financial crime story I missed in that last entry.

Steven Cohen throws a party despite his fund's indictment
By Matthew Goldstein
Sun Jul 28, 2013 3:58pm EDT
(Reuters) - Hedge fund billionaire Steven A. Cohen did not let the filing of criminal charges against his $14 billion SAC Capital Advisors get in the way of a party this weekend at his vacation estate in tony East Hampton, New York.

The Saturday night party at Cohen's 10-bedroom home on Further Lane took place two days after federal prosecutors in New York announced a five-count criminal indictment against SAC Capital that portrayed the 21-year-old Stamford, Conn.-based fund as a breeding ground for unlawful insider trading.

The lavish affair, which one source said included delivery of $2,000 worth of tuna from a local fish store to Cohen's home, was planned before the charges were filed. A person familiar with the event said the party, attended by a few dozen people, was intended by the 57-year-old manager to show support for ovarian cancer research, though it was not a fundraiser.
I have a video by Discovery News that bears on the topic of "White Collar crime," but I plan on saving it for later.

*The first was The Weather Channel on climate change and Congress and the second  Discovery News reviews Chasing Ice.  I have the excuse that I used the first set of stories here before I posted them to Daily Kos, but I have no such excuse for the second.  Sorry I neglected to mention that I was recycling that story yesterday.

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