UN reports Antarctica’s highest temperatures on record

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization published the highest temperatures on record in three Antarctic zones Wednesday, setting a benchmark for studying how climate change is affecting this crucial region.

“Verification of maximum and minimum temperatures help us to build up a picture of the weather and climate in one of Earth’s final frontiers,” Michael Sparrow, a polar expert with the WMO-affiliated World Climate Research Programme, said in a statement.

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Disruption in Amazon’s cloud service ripples through internet

Web users experienced widespread glitches on Tuesday, from news sites to government services, after Amazon’s popular cloud service that hosts their data suffered a technical disruption.

Amazon’s Simple Storage Service, or Amazon S3, had difficulty sending and receiving clients’ data for more than 3-1/2 hours, according to company status reports online.

Amazon did not disclose the cause, and some of its smaller cloud applications in North America continued to have trouble.

The far reach of the disruption underscored the increasing dependence of organizations on the cloud for cheap and secure data storage. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s biggest cloud business.

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Google takes on cable with “YouTube TV” — 40 channels for $35

Google just joined the “skinny bundle” TV war with YouTube TV, a paid subscription service that streams a slew of premium broadcast and cable networks to your mobile device, tablet, computer, and anything with Chromecast.

Just $35 a month gets you six accounts and access to live TV from more than 40 providers including the big broadcast networks, ESPN, regional sports networks and dozens of popular cable networks. Subscriptions include cloud DVR with unlimited storage, AI-powered search and personalization, and access to YouTube Red programming. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki calls it the evolution of television, and a bid to “give the younger generation the content that they love with the flexibility they expect.”

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Separatist rebels seize factories and mines in eastern Ukraine

Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday took control of dozens of businesses and coal mines, including several belonging to a foundation of the country’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, who has provided humanitarian aid to millions of civilians.

Ukrainian right-wing nationalists and war veterans have blocked rail traffic from rebel-held territory since January, disrupting trade and vital coal shipments from the east to territory controlled by the government. The forces implementing the blockade say the trade helps fund rebels in a nearly three year conflict. More than 10,000 people have died and hundreds of thousands have been displaced.

The Ukrainian government opposes the blockade and has warned of blackouts and factory closures if coal is not transported. But as it faces nationalist pressure in parliament President Petro Poroshenko has done nothing to break the blockade.

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Hundreds of North American bee species face extinction: study

More than 700 of the 4,000 native bee species in North America and Hawaii are believed to be inching toward extinction due to increased pesticide use leading to habitat loss, a scientific study (PDF) showed on Wednesday.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s report concluded that of the 1,437 native bee species for which there was sufficient data to evaluate, about 749 of them were declining. Some 347 of the species, which play a vital role in plant pollination, are imperiled and at risk of extinction, the study found.

“It’s a quiet but staggering crisis unfolding right under our noses that illuminates the unacceptably high cost of our careless addiction to pesticides and monoculture farming,” its author, Kelsey Kopec, said in a statement.

Habitat loss, along with heavy pesticide use, climate change and increasing urbanization are the main causes for declining bee populations, the study found.

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Colombia lives historic day with FARC to begin surrendering weapons

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said that his country lives today a historic day with Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels to begin surrendering weapons process.

“Today is a historic day for the country: FARC says good bye to their weapons to change violence by reconciliation”, wrote Santos on his Twitter account, with the hashtag #LaPazAvanza (Peace goes forward).

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Toxic waste dumped in community in southeast Nigeria’s Delta

Toxic waste has been dumped in a farming town in southeast Nigeria’s restive oil-producing Delta region, a state government official and a community leader said on Wednesday.

It was dumped in Koko, a town in the Warri north local government district of Delta state, said Thankgod Seibi, special assistant to the state’s governor on community development.

“The waste was brought in from a foreign country into Nigeria and dumped at Koko. The state government has not done anything about it yet,” he said. Seibi did not give details of the foreign country.

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US doubts UN Human Rights Council’s agenda citing “obsession with Israel”

A senior US official said on Wednesday President Donald Trump’s administration is reviewing its engagement with the UN Human Rights Council (OHCHR), citing an “obsession with Israel.”

“As we consider our future engagements, my government will be considering the council’s actions with an eye toward reform to more fully achieve the council’s mission to protect and promote human rights,” Erin Barclay, US deputy assistant secretary of state, told the human rights body.

Barclay said the Geneva forum has unfairly targeted Israel for alleged violations of human rights, questioning whether it was a sensible priority given abuses perpetrated by regimes in Syria, North Korea and Iran.

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China orders aluminum, steel cuts in war on smog

China has ordered steel and aluminum producers in 28 cities to slash output during winter, outlined plans to curb coal use in the capital and required coal transport by rail in the north, as Beijing intensifies its war on smog, a policy document shows.

The government has called on steel producers to halve output in four northern provinces – Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong, Henan – as well as Beijing and Tianjin, during the peak winter heating months around late November to late February. The size of the cuts will depend on the level of regions’ emissions cuts.

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