On Dutch Coast, an Experiment in Sand

By webdesk@voanews.com (Reuters) A pile of sand about eight times the volume of the Great Pyramid of Giza is shaping up as a cut-rate model for protecting coasts from rising seas.

The “Sand Engine” is 28 million cubic yards (21.5 million cubic meters) covering an area 1.2 miles (2 km) long and half a mile wide. Dumped along the shore here in 2011, the sand pile marks a shift from the Dutch tradition of armoring the coast with dikes and other hardware.

Instead, the hope is that as all that sand is slowly blown and washed along the coast, it will feed nearby beaches and dunes for 20 to 30 years, providing the low-lying coast with long-term protection from erosion. That would make unnecessary a ritual of dredging the shore and replenishing the beaches every few years.

The project isn’t without risks. A string of storms shifted more sand than expected, and if the sand travels too far, it could choke ports on the coast.

But so far, the 70 million euro ($95.48 million) Sand Engine “is doing more or less what was predicted, moving a bit faster than we thought,” Jasper Fiselier, an environmental planner at engineering consultants Royal HaskoningDHV, said during a recent inspection. His company was one of several involved in the project, funded by the Dutch water board, Rijkswaterstaat, and the provincial authority of South Holland.

One way in which the project saved money: a bulk discount.

The sand costs 2.5 euros ($3.40) per cubic meter, far less than the usual three to six euros per cubic meter, Fiselier said. The sand was supplied from the seabed by Dutch dredging specialists experts Royal Boskalis Westminster and Van Oord.

The Sand Engine has also become a recreation spot. About 20 kite surfers were in a lagoon formed by the hook-shaped sandy peninsula one day last summer, many of them beginners flailing with yellow, green or red sails in a stiff breeze.

Seeping seawater

Elsewhere, a group of Dutch farmers is deliberately pouring saltwater onto crops. In plots on Texel Island, where brackish water is seeping under dikes and onto farmland, they hope to breed varieties of potatoes, carrots, grass or barley that can resist salt.

“For farmers, talking about salinity is about as popular as talking about an infectious disease in your family,” said Marc van Rijsselberghe, head of SaltFarmTexel, set up in 2006.

Twenty-six percent of the Netherlands lies below sea level, and seawater is seeping under dikes in many regions.

“Sea level rise adds pressure on the outside of the dikes,” said Arjen de Vos, a scientist at VU University Amsterdam, a sponsor of the experimental farm. “There are many places on Texel where the water in drainage canals is really salty – cows can no longer drink it,” he said.

The project could ultimately yield results that help farmers around the world who are dealing with salinity from rising sea levels, from Bangladesh to tiny Pacific islands, he said.

King Willem-Alexander visited the salt crop project in May, lending it implicit royal endorsement.

“We’ve changed from being revolutionaries to being innovators,” de Vos said of the visit.

SaltFarmTexel includes rows of potatoes, barley, carrots, onions and cabbage irrigated with varying levels of saltwater.

The project has a few clients, ranging from farmers to golf course owners who test grasses suited to salty soils. They typically pay 15,000 euros for a small plot experimenting with different crop varieties and salt concentrations.

Via:: Voice of America

World’s top publisher ‘regrets’ erasing Israel from atlas meant for Middle East customers

By RT

“HarperCollins regrets the omission of the name Israel from their Collins Middle East Atlas,” it said in a statement posted on Facebook.

The Atlas has now been removed from sale in all territories and “all remaining stock will be pulped. HarperCollins sincerely apologizes for this omission and for any offence caused,” the publishing house’s statement read.

Earlier, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales accused the publishing house of interfering with the peace process in the region by producing atlases that omit Israel from their maps.

“The publication of this atlas will confirm Israel’s belief that there exists a hostility towards their country from parts of the Arab world. It will not help to build up a spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence,” Bishop Declan Lang chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs, told The Tablet.

In reply, the subsidiary of HarperCollins said to the same outlet that writing the name ‘Israel’ would have been “unacceptable” to their customers in the Gulf, so the change was to suit “local preferences.”

The map showed Jordan and Syria extending all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, with Gaza also marked, and was sold mainly to English-speaking schools in the Muslim region of the Gulf.

The Tablet also reported that other school atlases allegedly only reached the recipients when “Israel” was erased by hand.

Some experts said that allowing this to happen could de-legitimize the Israeli nation in the eyes of the students who would use the atlases.

“Maps can be a very powerful tool in terms of de-legitimizing ‘the other’ and can lead to confusion rather than clarity. We would be keen to see relevant bodies ensure that all atlases anywhere reflect the official UN position on nations, boundaries and all political features,” Dr. Jane Clements, director of the Council of Christians and Jews, stressed to The Tablet.

The omission also triggered anger among social network users.

Dear @HarperCollins, We’ve been here for almost 6K yrs. B4 textbooks or atlas’ existed. Printed or not, #Israel will always be here.

— Manny B (@mb3992) December 31, 2014

Via:: RT.com

World’s top publisher ‘regrets’ erasing Israel from atlas meant for Middle East customers

By RT

“HarperCollins regrets the omission of the name Israel from their Collins Middle East Atlas,” it said in a statement posted on Facebook.

The Atlas has now been removed from sale in all territories and “all remaining stock will be pulped. HarperCollins sincerely apologizes for this omission and for any offence caused,” the publishing house’s statement read.

Earlier, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales accused the publishing house of interfering with the peace process in the region by producing atlases that omit Israel from their maps.

“The publication of this atlas will confirm Israel’s belief that there exists a hostility towards their country from parts of the Arab world. It will not help to build up a spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence,” Bishop Declan Lang chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs, told The Tablet.

In reply, the subsidiary of HarperCollins said to the same outlet that writing the name ‘Israel’ would have been “unacceptable” to their customers in the Gulf, so the change was to suit “local preferences.”

The map showed Jordan and Syria extending all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, with Gaza also marked, and was sold mainly to English-speaking schools in the Muslim region of the Gulf.

The Tablet also reported that other school atlases allegedly only reached the recipients when “Israel” was erased by hand.

Some experts said that allowing this to happen could de-legitimize the Israeli nation in the eyes of the students who would use the atlases.

“Maps can be a very powerful tool in terms of de-legitimizing ‘the other’ and can lead to confusion rather than clarity. We would be keen to see relevant bodies ensure that all atlases anywhere reflect the official UN position on nations, boundaries and all political features,” Dr. Jane Clements, director of the Council of Christians and Jews, stressed to The Tablet.

The omission also triggered anger among social network users.

Dear @HarperCollins, We’ve been here for almost 6K yrs. B4 textbooks or atlas’ existed. Printed or not, #Israel will always be here.

— Manny B (@mb3992) December 31, 2014

Via:: RT.com

35 killed, over 40 injured in New Year’s stampede in Shanghai

By RT

The stampede happened shortly before midnight local time as a massive crowd was celebrating New Year in Chen Yi Square in Shanghai’s Huangpu district, CCTV reports.

Most of those injured were transferred to Shanghai General Hospital, according to Xinhua.

BREAKING: Stampede incident took place on New Year’s Eve in Shanghai’s historic waterfront of Bund area – local media pic.twitter.com/T7LwFujcYe

— George Chen (@george_chen) December 31, 2014

Rescuers and first responders were deployed to the scene to help those wounded. The authorities have set up a working group to investigate the cause of the incident.

My view: As a native of Shanghai, I believe this is the worst (very rare) stampede incident in Shanghai history in recent decades. Shock!!

— George Chen (@george_chen) December 31, 2014

A number of photos of the chaos in the aftermath of the stampede were posted on Chinese social media site Weibo.

#香港 に同調か?#上海 でも、#デモ? “@rosetangy: Stampede at the Bund, Shanghai. Some are injured. “@lvv2com: 实时外滩发生踩踏事件,有人受伤现在抢救中 pic.twitter.com/yBBx4JIUnq””

— ^Cooky^ or ^京都の^ (@36madcooky_jp) December 31, 2014

#BREAKING Reports of 35 dead, 42 injured in a stampede in #Shanghai at NYE celebration. http://t.co/4C2GefzEqP pic.twitter.com/21ZLea4Ydo

— CCTV America (@CCTV_America) December 31, 2014

Via:: RT.com

‘Landmark in Russian history’: President Vladimir Putin’s New Year address

By RT

President Vladimir Putin’s address:

Friends,

The New Year of 2015 is about to begin.

As always, we look forward to it with anticipation, making wishes, giving gifts and traditionally seeing in the New Year with family and friends. An atmosphere of kindness, goodwill and benevolence warms our hearts, opening them up to pure thoughts and honourable deeds and giving hope.

Naturally, everyone is concerned primarily about the well-being of their own family, wishing health and happiness to their near and dear ones. The happiness and success of each individual makes up the well-being of Russia.

Love for one’s Motherland is one of the most powerful and enlightening feelings. It has found its reflection in our fraternal aid to the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol, after they made the firm decision to return to their native home. This event will remain a landmark in national history.

Friends,

Now, as we reflect on the outgoing year I would like to sincerely thank you for your unity and solidarity, for your innermost truthfulness, honour, justice and responsibility for the fate of your country, for your invariable readiness to defend Russia’s interests, to be with it both in days of triumph and in times of trial, to strive for the implementation of our bravest and grandest of plans.

Only a few years ago the Sochi Olympics were no more than a dream. Meanwhile, it not only came true: we not only prepared and hosted the best ever winter Olympics, but we also won them. This victory has been achieved by all the citizens of this country, both the Olympic athletes and those who supported them.

In the coming year, we are facing quite a few tasks and the year will be as good as we make it, depending on how efficient, creative and effective each one of us is. There are no other recipes. We need to implement all our plans – for our own sake, for the sake of our children, for the sake of Russia.

Friends,

The New Year is knocking at our doors. It is time to let it in and say words of kindness to our near and dear ones. Time to thank them for their understanding and reliability, for their patience and care. The more kindness and love there is around the more confident and powerful we become, which means we will definitely be successful.

Happy 2015 to you!

Via:: RT.com

‘Landmark in Russian history’: President Vladimir Putin’s New Year address

By RT

President Vladimir Putin’s address:

Friends,

The New Year of 2015 is about to begin.

As always, we look forward to it with anticipation, making wishes, giving gifts and traditionally seeing in the New Year with family and friends. An atmosphere of kindness, goodwill and benevolence warms our hearts, opening them up to pure thoughts and honourable deeds and giving hope.

Naturally, everyone is concerned primarily about the well-being of their own family, wishing health and happiness to their near and dear ones. The happiness and success of each individual makes up the well-being of Russia.

Love for one’s Motherland is one of the most powerful and enlightening feelings. It has found its reflection in our fraternal aid to the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol, after they made the firm decision to return to their native home. This event will remain a landmark in national history.

Friends,

Now, as we reflect on the outgoing year I would like to sincerely thank you for your unity and solidarity, for your innermost truthfulness, honour, justice and responsibility for the fate of your country, for your invariable readiness to defend Russia’s interests, to be with it both in days of triumph and in times of trial, to strive for the implementation of our bravest and grandest of plans.

Only a few years ago the Sochi Olympics were no more than a dream. Meanwhile, it not only came true: we not only prepared and hosted the best ever winter Olympics, but we also won them. This victory has been achieved by all the citizens of this country, both the Olympic athletes and those who supported them.

In the coming year, we are facing quite a few tasks and the year will be as good as we make it, depending on how efficient, creative and effective each one of us is. There are no other recipes. We need to implement all our plans – for our own sake, for the sake of our children, for the sake of Russia.

Friends,

The New Year is knocking at our doors. It is time to let it in and say words of kindness to our near and dear ones. Time to thank them for their understanding and reliability, for their patience and care. The more kindness and love there is around the more confident and powerful we become, which means we will definitely be successful.

Happy 2015 to you!

Via:: RT.com

‘Landmark in Russian history’: President Vladimir Putin’s New Year address

By RT

President Vladimir Putin’s address:

Friends,

The New Year of 2015 is about to begin.

As always, we look forward to it with anticipation, making wishes, giving gifts and traditionally seeing in the New Year with family and friends. An atmosphere of kindness, goodwill and benevolence warms our hearts, opening them up to pure thoughts and honourable deeds and giving hope.

Naturally, everyone is concerned primarily about the well-being of their own family, wishing health and happiness to their near and dear ones. The happiness and success of each individual makes up the well-being of Russia.

Love for one’s Motherland is one of the most powerful and enlightening feelings. It has found its reflection in our fraternal aid to the residents of Crimea and Sevastopol, after they made the firm decision to return to their native home. This event will remain a landmark in national history.

Friends,

Now, as we reflect on the outgoing year I would like to sincerely thank you for your unity and solidarity, for your innermost truthfulness, honour, justice and responsibility for the fate of your country, for your invariable readiness to defend Russia’s interests, to be with it both in days of triumph and in times of trial, to strive for the implementation of our bravest and grandest of plans.

Only a few years ago the Sochi Olympics were no more than a dream. Meanwhile, it not only came true: we not only prepared and hosted the best ever winter Olympics, but we also won them. This victory has been achieved by all the citizens of this country, both the Olympic athletes and those who supported them.

In the coming year, we are facing quite a few tasks and the year will be as good as we make it, depending on how efficient, creative and effective each one of us is. There are no other recipes. We need to implement all our plans – for our own sake, for the sake of our children, for the sake of Russia.

Friends,

The New Year is knocking at our doors. It is time to let it in and say words of kindness to our near and dear ones. Time to thank them for their understanding and reliability, for their patience and care. The more kindness and love there is around the more confident and powerful we become, which means we will definitely be successful.

Happy 2015 to you!

Via:: RT.com