Shot alone on a streetcar with a 3″ knife. Fair, I think not.

In the early hours of Saturday, July 27, 2013, Sammy Yatim was shot dead by a Toronto Police officer as the 18-year old man stood alone in a stationary TTC street car with a 3-inch knife in his hands. His death has caused an uproar in the community and oridnary people are asking, “Why did Sammy Yatim have to be shot dead by the Police?”

In the last 25 years, a number of people have been shot dead by the Toronto Police who claim to be acting within the law. After every such tragedy, inquiries and inquests are held that make recommendations, but it seems none of these policies and procedures have succeeded in preventing the death of men and women who need help, not harm.

In 1996, a medical student Edmund Yu was shot dead as he sat alone in the back seat of a TTC street car, armed only with a tiny hammer.

Now, Sammy Yatim has been killed by a police officer firing not one or two, but nine bullets and all within a few minutes of his first encounter with the young man who was alone inside a stationary TTC street car.

An inquiry is taking place. However, we fear this inquiry too will end up like earlier such exercises and no will be found responsible for the death of this young troubled man who had all his life ahead of him.

If the police constable who shot Sammy Yatim dead is not charged, once more we will send a message to ordinary citizens that Police forces are above the law.
For the good of communities and for better civilian-police relations, let a court decide whether any laws were broken in the death of Sammy Yatim.

This petition is not to bring disrepute to the fine men and women who serve in the Toronto Police and who we consider the world’s finest police force.

Having said that we feel the SIU and the AG of Ontario should intervene in the interest of justice and also to assure the citizenery who feel they have no voice in this matter.

We acknowledge that despite the many videos, we do not know the entire story. However, based on the video and the reaction by Police Chef Bill Blair and Police Chair Alok Mukherjee, where they immediately suspended the officer in question, we feel there is enough evidence for us to conclude that something awfully wrong happenned that resulted in the death of Sammy Yatim.

In view of the above, we feel if an apporpriate charge is not filed against the police constable who caused the death, the citizenry will lose confidence in the legal system and the men and women who have been entrusted to deliver justice.

To: Ian Scott, Director, Special Investigations Unit (SIU) John Gerretsen, Attorney General of Ontario
Charge the Police Officer Responsible for the Shooting Death of Sammy Yatim

Sincerely, [Your name]


Still more outfall from Hurricane Sandy

New York City Councilman Turns Light on Mold Crisis

A New York City Councilman has introduced a bill to try to address the ongoing mold crisis left behind by Hurricane Sandy last year.

The problem is that many homes that have become infested with mold have been abandoned by their owners, leaving neighboring homeowners to deal with the issue.

The position of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is that the current law doesn’t allow the agency to go after mold in the way they can address other health concerns if a homeowner fails to do so.

The legislation, sponsored by Councilman James Oddo, would add mold into a list other health nuisances, and allow the health department to order a homeowner to remove it. If the homeowner fails to do so after a set period of time, the legislation would empower the department to execute the order to remove the mold.

“We’ve tried to create a mechanism that balances public safety and property rights, and is a necessity resulting from the reality on the ground in our Sandy-impacted communities,” Oddo said.

The idea of the bill is to compel homeowners to clean up their property — and if they or the bank that owns it won’t, then the city can take action.

The health department said the agency hadn’t seen the legislation and couldn’t comment on it. The agency doesn’t consider mold in a neighboring home a health risk.

Oddo said that living next to a home that is filled with out-of-control mold can be “psychologically devastating” and should be considered a health risk.

In response to criticism from Oddo and others, the health department issued a statement defending how it has addressed the issue since the storm hit.

“Since the days immediately following the hurricane, the Health Department has been working across agencies to provide information and guidance on the risks of mold and how to safely reconstruct to avoid future mold growth,” the agency said.

The information was handed out at recovery centers door-to-door, under doors, and at community meetings, the department noted.

“The Department worked with the Mayor’s Fund to establish a first-of-its-kind mold abatement training program and in a collaboration with the Mayor’s Fund, Robin Hood Foundation and Red Cross to provide cleanup services for homeowners needing additional resources to remove mold and reconstruct their homes,” the agency added.

– See more at:

BP’s Gulf cleanup fund running out – Is this a surprise

BP’s Deepwater compensation fund running dry

BP logoBP has revealed that there is just $300m left in its Gulf of Mexico oil spillcompensation fund after costs jumped $1.4bn (£913m) in the second quarter of the year.

The company raised its estimate of compensation claims for the last three months to $9.6bn from $8.2bn on Tuesday, and warned the total was ultimately likely to be much higher as further claims were received and processed. It also reported profits for the period which were sharply below expectations.

“There are a significant number of business economic loss claims which have been received but have not yet been processed, and further claims are likely to be received,” the company said.

BP set aside a total $20bn fund to deal with compensation claims following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which claimed 11 lives. On Tuesday it increased its overall provision for the disaster to $42.4bn from $42.2bn.

BP’s underlying profit for the period fell to $2.7bn from $3.6bn a year earlier, which was sharply below analyst forecasts of $3.4bn. The company blamed lower oil prices compared with a year earlier, an “unusually high” tax rate because of a stronger dollar, and lower income from Russia.

Shares were down more than 2% in early trading.

The FTSE 100 company said it expected third-quarter production to be lower than the second, because of planned activity and repairs in the North Sea, planned maintenance in Alaska, and the continued impact of asset sales.

Bob Dudley, chief executive, said: “The results show strong underlying pre-tax performance from BP’s businesses. We are seeing growth in production from new high-margin projects and are making good progress in exploration and project delivery. Completion of our operational milestones confirms our confidence in delivering our commitment to materially increase operating cash flow in 2014.”

Thailand Oil Spill – Here we go again

Gulf Of Thailand Oil Spill Mars Samet Island, Spreads To Nearby Isles (PHOTOS)

Thailand Oil SpillBANGKOK (AP) — An oil spill that has marred a tourist island in the Gulf of Thailand has spread to nearby smaller isles, officials said Wednesday, as authorities raced to clean up the island’s once-white sands and clear waters.

The black tide of crude oil that washed up in Prao Bay on the west coast of Samet Island on Sunday night has been partly cleaned up, but the bay was still marred with oil slicks for the fourth straight day, said Rayong province Deputy Gov. Supeepat Chongpanish.

“The situation is definitely better than the previous days,” Supeepat said. “We are starting to see real waves and ocean foam at the north end of the bay, not the black waves of oil. It has significantly improved, but there’s still work to do.”

About 50,000 liters (13,200 gallons) of oil — about the amount contained in 1 1/2 tanker trucks — spilled into the Gulf of Thailand on Saturday morning from a leak in a pipeline operated by PTT Global Chemical Plc., a subsidiary of state-owned oil and gas company PTT Plc.

The company said it detected a leak when crude oil from a tanker moored offshore was being transferred to the pipeline, 20 kilometers (11 miles) from a refinery in Map Ta Phut, one of the largest industrial estates in Southeast Asia. The leak has since been fixed.

The slick floated in the sea for more than a day before it began washing ashore on Samet, a small resort island that each year draws some 1 million foreign and domestic tourists due to its white sand beaches and proximity to Bangkok, 140 kilometers (90 miles) to the northwest.

The company apologized on Monday and said the bay would be cleansed within three days, a goal questioned by environmental activists.

Wacky Weather, a Warmer Arctic, and a Slower Jet Stream – Is There a Link?


, climate scientist                    

July 31, 2013


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The flow of the jet stream is somewhat like a river – at times, a straight rushing ravine and at other times, a slow twisting meander. It’s almost like the atmosphere is alternately dancing the quickstep or doing a slow waltz. Why does the jet stream change its behavior and how might a warming climate be affecting this central influence on our weather in the U.S.? Let’s take a close look at what’s going on in the atmosphere up above us every day.

Why planes fly faster from west to east – it’s the wind!

summer-of-extremes-series-picThis post is part of a series on A Summer of Extremes: Confronting the Realities of Climate Change

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In mid-latitudes in the northern hemisphere – over most of the lower 48 states – the dominant jet stream is the Polar jet stream. It separates cold air to the north from warm air to the south, and lies five to seven miles above the Earth’s surface with winds reaching more than 200 miles per hour.

With a tail wind like that, it’s no wonder flights from west to east are faster. Flying with the jet stream can decrease fuel consumption and shorten flying times considerably. In fact, pilots seek out the jet stream to either use it or avoid it. Jet streams can be thousands of miles long and hundreds of miles wide, but we usually focus on thin bands of faster-flowing air that influence local weather patterns.

Air flows downhill from the tropics to the poles and then turns east

How does the jet stream form? Well, most of our weather occurs in the very lowest layer of the atmosphere called the “troposphere” where the air is turbulent and mixes rapidly (the Greek word “tropo” means turning). The upper boundary of this part of the atmosphere is higher at the equator than at the poles, simply because warmer air at the equator expands and takes up more room. As a result, air flows downhill from the puffed up warm air at the equator to the compressed cold air at the poles.

In the northern hemisphere as this air flows from equator to pole it is turned to the right because of Earth’s rotation. This resulting west to east flow is known as a jet stream. You can see more thorough explanations of the physics from NOAA’s National Weather Service and from Skeptical Science.

A slowed jet stream meanders like a lazy river

When the Polar jet stream slows down, the wave patterns known as planetary or Rossby waves start to meander and widen, just like a river does when it slows down in its lower reaches. The meanders form large lobes that bring warmer weather much farther north and colder weather much farther south than usual. Low pressure systems form in the southern end of the troughs – these cyclonic or inward-flowing masses of air result in convective storms, heavy rainfall events, and flooding. High pressure systems form in the northern end of the ridges – these anti-cyclonic or outward-flowing masses of air bring hot, dry weather.

The slowing of the west to east flow of the jet stream produces large meandering lobes that can stall, resulting in long periods of unchanging weather.  Source: Skeptical Science

The slowing of the west to east flow of the jet stream produces large meandering lobes that can stall, resulting in long periods of unchanging weather. Source: Skeptical Science

The jet stream becomes stuck, leading to extreme weather

When the jet stream slows down our weather tends to become “stuck” in either of these modes, resulting in long periods of the same patterns of weather that leads to extremes. We saw the consequences of this in June of this year when wildfires raged in the western half of the U.S. while the eastern seaboard was drenched in rain. And in October 2012 Hurricane Sandy took an unusual path through New Jersey when the large loops of the jet stream were stuck, as explained in a blog here.

A recent paper suggests the stalling of these planetary waves could have caused the U.S. heat wave of 2011, the floods in Russia and Pakistan in 2010, and the European heat wave of 2003. It’s not clear yet whether these stalled weather patterns are becoming more frequent and we won’t know until we have longer data sets. However, scientists are currently trying to figure out the most likely cause of a slowdown of the jet stream.

The uncharacteristic north-westerly path of Hurricane Sandy was influenced by a blocking ridge that developed from an unusual jet stream pattern. Source: NASA

The uncharacteristic north-westerly path of Hurricane Sandy was influenced by a blocking ridge that developed from an unusual jet stream pattern. Source: NASA

A stalled jet stream in June this year resulted in intense dry weather in the west and downpours on the eastern seaboard.

A stalled jet stream in June this year resulted in intense dry weather in the west and downpours on the eastern seaboard.

The Arctic “amplification” — a possible explanation for a stalling jet stream?

In recent years the Arctic has warmed at an alarming rate (as was predicted by models) due to strong reinforcing feedbacks in the climate system. With the Arctic warming at twice the pace of the rest of the planet, the temperature contrast between the equator and the poles has decreased. The downhill run of air from equator to pole is not as steep as it was, diminishing the strength of the jet stream and resulting in the large meandering patterns.

Jennifer Francis, a Research Professor at Rutgers University, and Jeff Masters from the Weather Underground explain why this amplification of warming in the Arctic might be an explanation for a weakening jet stream. With her colleague Stephen Vavrus, Francis has also published a paper on the topic. There are other explanations that also consider changes to the heat content of the Arctic ocean as well as the role of increased water vapor transport in the atmosphere, as discussed in an American Geophysical Union blog with Kevin Trenberth. Scientists are still working on the details, but plausible explanations of this “wacky weather” are starting to emerge.

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About the author: Melanie Fitzpatrick, a climate scientist with the UCS Climate and Energy Program, is an expert on local and global impacts of climate change. She holds a Ph.D. in Geophysics from the University of Washington, specializing in the role of sea ice and clouds in Antarctica.

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