Energy-Guzzling Cities Changing Weather 1,000 Miles Away

The heat released by everyday activities in energy-guzzling cities is changing the weather in far-away places, scientists report today (Jan. 27).

The released heat is changing temperatures in areas more than 1,000 miles away (1609 kilometers). It is warming parts of North America by about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 degrees Celsius) and northern Asia by as much as 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius), while cooling areas of Europe by a similar amount, scientists report in the journal Nature Climate Change.

The released heat (dubbed waste heat), it seems, is changing atmospheric circulation, including jet streams — powerful narrow currents of wind that blow from west to east and north to south in the upper atmosphere. 

This impact on regional temperatures may explain a climate puzzle of sorts: why some areas are having warmer winters than predicted by climate models, the researchers said. In turn, the results suggest this phenomenon should be accounted for in models forecasting global warming.

“There’s a tendency in climate science to overlook the effects of cities,” Brian Stone, a professor of city and regional planning at Georgia Tech, told LiveScience. “Cities occupy just a few percent of the global land surface, but the amount of energy released as waste heat is contributing downwind to pretty significant changes in climate. I hope this will encourage us to focus more on cities as important drivers of climate change,” added Stone, who was not involved in the current study. [8 Ways Global Warming Is Already Changing the World]

Hot in the city

Cities are known to be warmer than their surroundings due to what’s known as the urban heat island effect — pavement, buildings and other building materials retain heat, preventing it from reradiating into the sky.

In the new study, the researchers looked at another kind of “urban heat,” this one produced directly by transportation, heating and cooling units, and other energy-consuming activities.

“The burning of fossil fuel not only emits greenhouse gases, but also directly affects temperatures because of heat that escapes from sources like buildings and cars,” said study researcher Aixue Hu, of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), in a statement. “Although much of this waste heat is concentrated in large cities, it can change atmospheric patterns in a way that raises or lowers temperatures across considerable distances.”

Hu and colleagues studied the energy effect using the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) model, a widely used climate model that takes into account the effects of greenhouse gases, topography, oceans, ice and global weather. The researchers ran the model with and without the input of human energy consumption, to see whether it could account for large-scale regional warming.

When man-made energy was included in the model, it led to winter and autumn temperature changes of up to 1.8 degrees F (1 degree C) in mid- and high-latitude parts of North America and Eurasia. The modeling is based on estimates, however, and more studies are needed to measure how much heat is actually released by urban areas.

Heat disrupts jet stream

Here’s how the scientists think it works: Energy-hungry metropolitan areas are located on the east and west coasts of North America and Eurasia, beneath major “hot spots” of atmospheric circulation. The waste heat from these cities creates thermal mountains, or taller-than-normal columns of heated air, which cause air jets moving eastward to deflect northward and southward.

As a result, the jet stream in upper latitudes widens and strengthens, bringing up hot air from the south and causing warming far from the urban areas (and concurrent cooling in others).

“The energy consumption in highly populated areas can cause changes in wind patterns, and that causes climate change far away from the heating source,” said meteorologist and study author Ming Cai of Florida State University.

Follow LiveScience on Twitter @livescience. We’re also on Facebook & Google+.

Copyright 2013 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Why haven't we learned from fires?

Hundreds dead in Brazil nightclub fire

Hundreds dead in Brazil nightclub fire

Hundreds dead in Brazil nightclub fire

Hundreds dead in Brazil nightclub fire

Hundreds dead in Brazil nightclub fire

Hundreds dead in Brazil nightclub fire

Hundreds dead in Brazil nightclub fire

Hundreds dead in Brazil nightclub fire

Hundreds dead in Brazil nightclub fire

Hundreds dead in Brazil nightclub fire

Hundreds dead in Brazil nightclub fire

Hundreds dead in Brazil nightclub fire

Hundreds dead in Brazil nightclub fire



















  • Pyrotechnics, overcrowding, poor exits have contributed to tragic fires in recent years

  • You would think the world would have learned from past incidents, John Barylick says

  • Concertgoers have to be their own fire marshals, he says

Editor's note: John Barylick, author of "Killer Show," a book on the 2003 Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island, is an attorney who represented victims in wrongful death and personal injury cases arising from the fire.

(CNN) -- Sunday morning we awoke to breaking news of another tragic nightclub fire, this time in Brazil. At last report the death toll exceeded 230.

This tragedy is not without precedent. Next month will mark the 10th anniversary of a similar nightclub fire in Rhode Island. At this sad time, it's appropriate to reflect on what we've learned from club fires -- and what we haven't.

Rhode Island's Station nightclub fire of 2003, in which 100 concertgoers lost their lives, began when fireworks set off by Great White, an 80s heavy metal band, ignited flammable packing foam on the club's walls.

John Barylick

John Barylick

Panicked patrons stampeded toward the club's main exit, and a fatal pileup ensued. Contributing to the tragedy were illegal use of pyrotechnics, overcrowding and a wall covering that would have failed even the most rudimentary flammability tests.

Video images of the Station fire were broadcast worldwide: A concert begins; the crowd's mood changes from merry, to curious, to concerned, to horrified -- in less than a minute. You'd think the world would have learned from it. You would be wrong.

Deadly blazes: Nightclub tragedies in recent history

The following year, the Republica Cromanon nightclub in Argentina went up in flames, killing 194 people. The club was made to hold about 1,000 people, but it was estimated that more than 3,000 fans were packed inside the night of the fire, which began when fans began lighting flares that caught the roof on fire.

Then, in January 2009, at least 64 New Year's revelers lost their lives in a nightclub in Bangkok, Thailand, after fire ignited its ceiling. Many were crushed in a rush to get out of the club. In December of that same year, a fire in a Russian nightclub, ignited by pyrotechnics, killed 156 people. Overcrowding, poor exits, and indoor fireworks all played roles in these tragedies; yet no one bothered to learn from mistakes of the past.

While responsibility for concert disasters unquestionably lies with venue operators, performers and promoters, ultimately, we, as patrons of clubs and concerts, can enhance our own safety by taking a few simple steps. The National Fire Protection Association urges concertgoers to:

• Be observant. Is the concert venue rundown or well-maintained? Does the staff look well-trained?

• As you proceed to your seat, observe how long the process takes. Could you reverse it in a hurry? Do you pass through pinch points? Is furniture in the way?

• Once seated, take note of the nearest exit. (In an emergency, most people try to exit by the door they entered, which is usually not the closest, and is always overcrowded.) Then, share the location of that nearest exit with your entire party. Agree that at the first sign of trouble, you will all proceed to it without delay.

• Once the show begins, remain vigilant. If you think there's a problem, LEAVE IMMEDIATELY. Do not stay to "get your money's worth" despite concerns about safety. Do not remain to locate that jacket or bag you placed somewhere. No concert is worth your life. Better to read about an incident the next day than be counted as one of its statistics.

Read more: How to protect yourself in a crowd

To be sure, all fire codes must be vigorously enforced, and club and concert hall operators must be held to the highest standards. A first step is banning indoor pyrotechnics in all but the largest, stadium-type venues.

But, ultimately, we are our own best "fire marshals" when it comes to avoiding, and escaping, dangerous situations. We can still enjoy shows. But it is up to us to look out for our own safety.

In coming days, Rhode Islanders will follow the unfolding news from Brazil with a sense of queasy deja vu -- the rising body counts, the victim identification process, the grieving families, and the assigning (and dodging) of blame. If only they had learned from our tragedy.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Barylick.

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2 dead after apparent carbon monoxide leak in W. Rogers Park

Two women are dead and another was hospitalized after an apparent carbon monoxide leak in a West Rogers Park building, officials said.

Paramedics were first called about 10:30 a.m. to the building, which is in the 2500 block of West North Shore Avenue, to transport one woman to the hospital, Chicago Fire Department spokeswoman Meg Ahlheim said.

The woman was taken in cardiac arrest to Swedish Covenant Hospital, Ahlheim said.

Fire officials at the scene called for a second ambulance, and a second woman was taken to Swedish Covenant as well, Ahlheim said.

Once paramedics became aware of the second victim, fire officials checked the building's carbon monoxide levels but found no indication of a leak, Ahlheim said.

Paramedics were called back to the scene, however, about 3:45 p.m., for another woman found unresponsive. The woman was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston in critical condition, Ahlheim said.

Officials checked carbon monoxide level again, and while the meter readings in residential units showed no exposure, officials found a positive reading for a low level of carbon monoxide near a boiler in the basement, Ahlheim said.

The Cook County medical examiner's office confirmed Sunday evening that it had been notified of two fatalities from the building.

Police suspect the deaths were caused by accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, but no official determination will be made until autopsy results are reported, Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Amina Greer said.

A spokeswoman for Peoples Gas, Jennifer Block, confirmed that representatives from the company were called to the building to assist police and fire officials. She referred further questions to the police and fire departments.

Twitter: @AdamSege

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Nightclub fire kills 233 in Brazil

SANTA MARIA, Brazil (Reuters) - A nightclub fire killed at least 233 people in southern Brazil on Sunday when a band's pyrotechnics show set the building ablaze and fleeing partygoers stampeded toward blocked exits in the ensuing panic.

Most of those who died were suffocated by toxic fumes that rapidly filled the crowded club after sparks from pyrotechnics used by the band for visual effects set fire to soundproofing on the ceiling, local fire officials said.

"Smoke filled the place instantly, the heat became unbearable," survivor Murilo Tiescher, a medical student, told GloboNews TV. "People could not find the only exit. They went to the toilet thinking it was the exit and many died there."

Firemen said one exit was locked and that club bouncers, who at first thought those fleeing were trying to skip out on bar tabs, initially blocked patrons from leaving. The security staff relented only when they saw flames engulfing the ceiling.

The tragedy in the university town of Santa Maria in one of Brazil's most prosperous states comes as the country scrambles to improve safety, security and logistical shortfalls before the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Olympics, both intended to showcase the economic advances and first-world ambitions of Latin America's largest nation.

In Santa Maria, a city of more than 275,000 people, rescue workers and weary officials wept alongside family and friends of the victims at a gymnasium being used as a makeshift morgue.

"It's the saddest, saddest day of my life," said Neusa Soares, the mother of one of those killed, 22-year-old Viviane Tolio Soares. "I never thought I would have to live to see my girl go away."

President Dilma Rousseff cut short an official visit to Chile and flew to Santa Maria, where she wept as she spoke to relatives of the victims, most of whom were university students.

"All I can say at the moment is that my feelings are of deep sorrow," said Rousseff, who began her political career in Rio Grande do Sul, the state where the fire occurred.

It was the deadliest nightclub fire since 309 people died in a discotheque blaze in China in 2000 and Brazil's worst fire at an entertainment venue since a disgruntled employee set fire to a circus in 1961, killing well over 300 people.


Local authorities said 120 men and 113 women died in the fire, and 92 people are still being treated in hospitals.

News of the fire broke on Sunday morning, when local news broadcast images of shocked people outside the nightclub called Boate Kiss. Gradually, grisly details emerged.

"We ran into a barrier of the dead at the exit," Colonel Guido Pedroso de Melo, commander of the fire brigade in Rio Grande do Sul, said of the scene that firefighters found on arrival. "We had to clear a path to get to the rest of those that were inside."

Pedroso de Melo said the popular nightclub was overcrowded with 1,500 people packed inside and they could not exit fast.

"Security guards blocked their exit and did not allow them to leave quickly. That caused panic," he said.

The fire chief said the club was authorized to be open, though its permit was in the process of being renewed. But he pointed to several egregious safety violations - from the flare that went off during the show to the locked door that kept people from getting out.

"The problem was the use of pyrotechnics, which is not permitted," Pedroso de Melo said.

The club's management said in a statement that its staff was trained and prepared to deal with any emergency. It said it would help authorities with their investigation.

One of the club's owners has surrendered to police for questioning, GloboNews TV reported.

When the fire began at about 2:30 a.m., many revelers were unable to find their way out in the chaos.

"It all happened so fast," survivor Taynne Vendrusculo told GloboNews TV. "Both the panic and the fire spread rapidly, in seconds."

Once security guards realized the building was on fire, they tried in vain to control the blaze with a fire extinguisher, according to a televised interview with one of the guards, Rodrigo Moura. He said patrons were trampled as they rushed for the doors, describing it as "a horror film."

Band member Rodrigo Martins said the fire started after the fourth or fifth song and the extinguisher did not work.

"It could have been a short circuit, there were many cables there," Martins told Porto Alegre's Radio Gaucha station. He said there was only one door and it was locked. A band member died in the fire.


TV footage showed people sobbing outside the club before dawn, while shirtless firefighters used sledge hammers and axes to knock down an exterior wall to open up an exit.

Rescue officials moved the bodies to the local gym and separated them by gender. Male victims were easier to identify because most had identification on them, unlike the women, whose purses were left scattered in the devastated nightclub.

Piles of shoes remained in the burnt-out club, along with tufts of hair pulled out by people fleeing desperately. Firemen who removed bodies said victims' cell phones were still ringing.

The disaster recalls other incidents including a 2003 fire at a nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, that killed 100 people, and a Buenos Aires nightclub blaze in 2004 that killed nearly 200. In both incidents, a band or members of the audience ignited fires that set the establishment ablaze.

The Rhode Island fire shocked local and federal officials because of the rarity of such incidents in the United States, where enforcement of safety codes is considered relatively strict. After the Buenos Aires blaze, Argentine officials closed many nightclubs and other venues and ultimately forced the city's mayor from office because of poor oversight of municipal codes.

The fire early on Sunday occurred in one of the wealthiest, most industrious and culturally distinct regions of Brazil. Santa Maria is about 186 miles west of Porto Alegre, the capital of a state settled by Germans and other immigrants from northern Europe.

Local clichés paint the region as stricter and more organized than the rest of Brazil, where most residents are a mix descended from native tribes, Portuguese colonists, African slaves, and later influxes of immigrants from southern Europe.

Rio Grande do Sul state's health secretary, Ciro Simoni, said emergency medical supplies from all over the state were being sent to the scene. States from all over Brazil offered support, and messages of sympathy poured in from foreign leaders.

(Additional reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal, Gustavo Bonato, Jeferson Ribeiro, Eduardo Simões, Brian Winter and Guido Nejamkis.; Writing by Paulo Prada and Anthony Boadle; Editing by Todd Benson, Kieran Murray and Christopher Wilson)

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Wall Street Week Ahead: Bears hibernate as stocks near record highs

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks have been on a tear in January, moving major indexes within striking distance of all-time highs. The bearish case is a difficult one to make right now.

Earnings have exceeded expectations, the housing and labor markets have strengthened, lawmakers in Washington no longer seem to be the roadblock that they were for most of 2012, and money has returned to stock funds again.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> has gained 5.4 percent this year and closed above 1,500 - climbing to the spot where Wall Street strategists expected it to be by mid-year. The Dow Jones industrial average <.dji> is 2.2 percent away from all-time highs reached in October 2007. The Dow ended Friday's session at 13,895.98, its highest close since October 31, 2007.

The S&P has risen for four straight weeks and eight consecutive sessions, the longest streak of days since 2004. On Friday, the benchmark S&P 500 ended at 1,502.96 - its first close above 1,500 in more than five years.

"Once we break above a resistance level at 1,510, we dramatically increase the probability that we break the highs of 2007," said Walter Zimmermann, technical analyst at United-ICAP, in Jersey City, New Jersey. "That may be the start of a rise that could take equities near 1,800 within the next few years."

The most recent Reuters poll of Wall Street strategists estimated the benchmark index would rise to 1,550 by year-end, a target that is 3.1 percent away from current levels. That would put the S&P 500 a stone's throw from the index's all-time intraday high of 1,576.09 reached on October 11, 2007.

The new year has brought a sharp increase in flows into U.S. equity mutual funds, and that has helped stocks rack up four straight weeks of gains, with strength in big- and small-caps alike.

That's not to say there aren't concerns. Economic growth has been steady, but not as strong as many had hoped. The household unemployment rate remains high at 7.8 percent. And more than 75 percent of the stocks in the S&P 500 are above their 26-week highs, suggesting the buying has come too far, too fast.


All 10 S&P 500 industry sectors are higher in 2013, in part because of new money flowing into equity funds. Investors in U.S.-based funds committed $3.66 billion to stock mutual funds in the latest week, the third straight week of big gains for the funds, data from Thomson Reuters' Lipper service showed on Thursday.

Energy shares <.5sp10> lead the way with a gain of 6.6 percent, followed by industrials <.5sp20>, up 6.3 percent. Telecom <.5sp50>, a defensive play that underperforms in periods of growth, is the weakest sector - up 0.1 percent for the year.

More than 350 stocks hit new highs on Friday alone on the New York Stock Exchange. The Dow Jones Transportation Average <.djt> recently climbed to an all-time high, with stocks in this sector and other economic bellwethers posting strong gains almost daily.

"If you peel back the onion a little bit, you start to look at companies like Precision Castparts , Honeywell , 3M Co and Illinois Tool Works - these are big, broad-based industrial companies in the U.S. and they are all hitting new highs, and doing very well. That is the real story," said Mike Binger, portfolio manager at Gradient Investments, in Shoreview, Minnesota.

The gains have run across asset sizes as well. The S&P small-cap index <.spcy> has jumped 6.7 percent and the S&P mid-cap index <.mid> has shot up 7.5 percent so far this year.

Exchange-traded funds have seen year-to-date inflows of $15.6 billion, with fairly even flows across the small-, mid- and large-cap categories, according to Nicholas Colas, chief market strategist at the ConvergEx Group, in New York.

"Investors aren't really differentiating among asset sizes. They just want broad equity exposure," Colas said.

The market has shown resilience to weak news. On Thursday, the S&P 500 held steady despite a 12 percent slide in shares of Apple after the iPhone and iPad maker's results. The tech giant is heavily weighted in both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 <.ndx> and in the past, its drop has suffocated stocks' broader gains.


In the last few days, the ratio of stocks hitting new highs versus those hitting new lows on a daily basis has started to diminish - a potential sign that the rally is narrowing to fewer names - and could be running out of gas.

Investors have also cited sentiment surveys that indicate high levels of bullishness among newsletter writers, a contrarian indicator, and momentum indicators are starting to also suggest the rally has perhaps come too far.

The market's resilience could be tested next week with Friday's release of the January non-farm payrolls report. About 155,000 jobs are seen being added in the month and the unemployment rate is expected to hold steady at 7.8 percent.

"Staying over 1,500 sends up a flag of profit taking," said Jerry Harris, president of asset management at Sterne Agee, in Birmingham, Alabama. "Since recent jobless claims have made us optimistic on payrolls, if that doesn't come through, it will be a real risk to the rally."

A number of marquee names will report earnings next week, including bellwether companies such as Caterpillar Inc , Inc , Ford Motor Co and Pfizer Inc .

On a historic basis, valuations remain relatively low - the S&P 500's current price-to-earnings ratio sits at 15.66, which is just a tad above the historic level of 15.

Worries about the U.S. stock market's recent strength do not mean the market is in a bubble. Investors clearly don't feel that way at the moment.

"We're seeing more interest in equities overall, and a lot of flows from bonds into stocks," said Paul Zemsky, who helps oversee $445 billion as the New York-based head of asset allocation at ING Investment Management. "We've been increasing our exposure to risky assets."

For the week, the Dow climbed 1.8 percent, the S&P 500 rose 1.1 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.5 percent.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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In New Orleans, an unwelcome mat for Goodell

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — An effigy of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell dangles from the front porch of a New Orleans home that is otherwise festively decorated with Saints paraphernalia.

With restaurants and bars gearing up for an influx of Super Bowl XLVII visitors, the "Refuse to Serve Roger Goodell" page on Facebook had 107 likes as of Friday.

A portrait of Goodell covers the bull's-eye on the dart board at Parkview Tavern.

And floats in the unabashedly lowbrow Krewe du Vieux parade in the French Quarter last weekend displayed larger-than-life likenesses of Goodell in acts that defy polite description.

New Orleans is celebrating the return of Saints coach Sean Payton after a season of NFL banishment as a result of the "bountygate" scandal — when the team ran a pay-for-hits program. But Goodell, who suspended Payton and other current and former Saints players and coaches last year for their roles in the system, is being ridiculed here with a vehemence usually reserved for the city's scandal-scarred politicians.

"They believe he completely used the Saints as an example of something that was going on league-wide," said Pauline Patterson, co-owner of Finn McCool's, an Irish Bar in the Mid-City neighborhood where the words "Go To Hell Goodell" are visible over the fireplace.

Some of Goodell's critics say the disarray resulting from what they believe were unfair suspensions led to the Saints' 7-9 performance this year — and a missed chance to make history.

"We had a real shot of being the first team in history to host the Super Bowl in our own stadium," Parkview Tavern owner Kathy Anderson said. "He can't give that back to us."

Goodell suspended the coaches and players after an investigation found the Saints had a performance pool offering cash rewards for key plays, including big hits. The player suspensions eventually were overturned, but the coaches served their punishments.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu is among those saying that people in this city, known for its hospitality and history, should mind their manners and remember the not-too-distant past.

"Roger Goodell has been a great friend to New Orleans, and it's a fact that he's one of the people instrumental to making sure that the Saints stayed here after Hurricane Katrina," Landrieu said in a statement. It was a reference to the days after the storm, when 80 percent of the city was underwater and the damaged Superdome became a shelter for thousands of the displaced.

Then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and his second-in-command, Goodell, are credited with working to keep the team from abandoning New Orleans for San Antonio.

"If not for Roger Goodell, we would not have this Super Bowl," Landrieu added. "And we will need him since we want to host another one."

Saints quarterback Drew Brees said the game is validation of everything the city's gone through to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

"There's no question, yeah. And I think people will see that when they come down, as soon as people come down that haven't been there in a while," Brees said Friday while in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. "The city knows how to entertain, knows how to treat people right. The tourism industry's huge, so we're excited to host this big game. Obviously it's the biggest sporting event in the world, and the city will be ready for it."

But some are in no mood to back off when it comes to Goodell.

Anderson said she understands city leaders' desire to put their best foot forward, but that it also is important for Saints fans to be able to vent.

"Whether I have Roger Goodell's face on my dart board is not going to change anybody's mind about the Super Bowl," Anderson said.

People should not take the barbs too seriously, said Lynda Woolard, a Saints fan who has been tracking some of the barbs on social media. "Nobody's saying there should be violence against the man," Woolard said.

"It's tongue-in-cheek," Patterson agreed.

Still, some diehards are ready to put it all behind them.

Patrick Brower, owner and manager of the Dirty Coast T-shirt shop, said Friday that he's pushing black-and-gold wear at his shop, choosing to unify Saints fans without bashing the commissioner.

"We've got to look forward here," Brower said. "The more time we spend in the past, it's just not beneficial."

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Bulgaria holds nuclear power referendum

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgarians are voting in a referendum on whether a new nuclear power plant should be built in the European Union‘s poorest member country, a choice also seen as a barometer of the country’s relationship with Russia.

Sunday’s vote was called by the opposition Socialist party in an effort to force the government to reverse its decision to scrap a deal with Russia on the construction of a second nuclear plant.

Bulgaria’s first referendum since the fall of communism in 1989 has polarized opinion along party lines. It has been seen as a test ahead of general elections in July, but also as a chance to loosen Moscow’s energy grip.

The latest polls estimate a low turnout, which could make the referendum invalid. At least 60 percent of the electorate must take part.

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Can sanctions deter North Korea?

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

Kim Jong Un and his military

























  • N. Korea said Thursday it plans to carry out new nuclear test and more long-range rocket launches

  • It said they are part of new phase of confrontation with United States

  • George A. Lopez says North Korea's aim is to be recognized as a 'new nuclear nation by fait accompli'

  • The Security Council sanctions aim to deteriorate and disrupt N. Korea's programs, says Lopez

Editor's note: George A. Lopez holds the Hesburgh Chair in Peace Studies at the Kroc Institute, University of Notre Dame. He is a former member, UN Panel of Experts on DPRK.

Indiana, U.S. (CNN) -- North Korea has responded to new Security Council sanctions condemning its December 12 rocket launch with a declaration that it plans a third nuclear test and more missile launches. Politically, it has made unambiguous that its "aim" is its enemy, the United States.

In this rapid reaction to U.N. sanctions, the young government of Kim Jong Un underscores what Security Council members have long known anticipated from the DPRK. Their end-game is to create a vibrant, integrated missile and nuclear weapons program that will result - as in the cases of Pakistan and India - in their being recognized as a new nuclear nation by fait accompli.

Read more: North Korea says new nuclear test will be part of fight against U.S.

In light of DPRK defiance - and a soon to occur nuclear test - the Security Council's first set of sanctions on North Korea since 2009 may seem absurd and irrelevant. These sanctions will certainly not prevent a new DPRK nuclear test. Rather, the new sanctions resolution mobilizes regional neighbors and global actors to enforce sanctions that can weaken future DPRK programs and actions.

Read more: U.N. Security Council slams North Korea, expands sanctions

The utility, if not the necessity, of these Security Council sanctions are to deteriorate and disrupt the networks that sustain North Korea's programs. Chances of this degradation of DPRK capabilities have increased as the new sanctions both embolden and empower the member states who regularly observe - but do nothing about - suspicious vessels in their adjacent waterways.

The resolution provides new guidance to states regarding ship interdiction, cargo inspections, and the seizure and disposal of prohibited materials. Regarding nuclear and missile development the sanctions expand the list of material banned for trade to DPRK, including high tech, dual-use goods which might aid missile industries.

Read more: South Korean officials: North Korean rocket could hit U.S. mainland

These new measures provide a better structure for more effective sanctions, by naming new entities, such as a bank and trading companies, as well as individuals involved in the illicit financing of prohibited materials, to the sanctions list. To the surprise of many in the diplomatic community - the Council authorizes states to expose and confiscate North Korea's rather mobile "bulk cash." Such currency stocks have been used in many regions to facilitate purchases of luxury goods and other banned items that sustain the DPRK elites.

Finally, the Security Council frees the Sanctions Committee to act more independently and in a timely manner to add entities to the list of sanctioned actors when evidence shows them to be sanctions violators. This is an extensive hunting license for states in the region that can multiply the costs of sanctions to the DPRK over time.

Read more: North Korea's rocket launches cost $1.3 billion

Whatever their initial limitations, the new round of U.N. sanctions serve as a springboard to more robust measures by various regional and global powers which may lead back to serious negotiations with DPRK.

Despite its bluster and short-term action plan, Pyongyang recognizes that the wide space of operation for its policies it assumed it had a week ago, is now closed considerably. To get this kind of slap-down via this Security Council resolution - when the launch was a month ago - predicts that any nuke test or missile launch from Pyongyang will bring a new round of stronger and more targeted sanctions.

Read more: North Korea silences doubters, raises fears with rocket launch

Although dangerous - a new game is on regarding DPRK. Tougher U.N. measures imposed on the North generated a predictable response and likely new, prohibited action. While DPRK may be enraged, these sanctions have the P5 nations, most notably China, newly engaged. A forthcoming test or launch will no doubt increase tensions on both sides.

But this may be precisely the shock needed to restart the Six Party Talks. Without this institutional framework there is little chance of influencing DPRK actions. And in the meantime, the chances of greater degrading of DPRK capabilities via sanctions, are a sensible next best action.

Read more: Huge crowds gather in North Korean capital to celebrate rocket launch

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of George A. Lopez.

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Fourth sibling from same Chicago family killed by gun violence

A mom who the Chicago Tribune wrote about in 2000 because she had three kids die violently just had her last remaining child die 12 years later¿ after he had just appeared on TV to warn about gang violence.

After Shirley Chambers lost her third child to gun violence in 2000, she said she felt sadder for her surviving son, Ronnie, than she did for herself.

"I only have one child left," Chambers told the Tribune at the time, "and I'm afraid that (the killing) won't stop until he's gone too."

Chambers' worst fears apparently were realized early Saturday, when police said a man named Ronnie Chambers, 33, was fatally struck when a gunman or gunmen opened fire on a van Chambers was riding in just after it arrived in the 1100 block of South Mozart Street.

Family friends and neighbors confirmed Chambers was the fourth and last child of Shirley Chambers, who could not be reached for comment Saturday.

"He was the last one," said family friend Laverne Smith, 30. "I know she's hurting."

Smith said it's unthinkable this could have happened again to the family.

"It's ridiculous," Smith said. "We need to get the guns off the street and build a good life for our babies. We need to really get together and stop fighting."

Smith, who lives near where the shooting occurred, said she heard loud gunfire about 2 a.m. and ran outside to find Ronnie Chambers shot in the head. She said he died in her arms.

Smith said she also knew Chambers' sister, LaToya Chambers, and had grown up with them in the Cabrini-Green neighborhood on the Near North Side. LaToya was a classmate, about two years ahead, at Edward Jenner School, she said.

LaToya was killed at age 15 in the lobby of a Cabrini-Green high-rise April 26, 2000, during an argument between her boyfriend and a 13-year-old boy, who was later convicted.

Her brothers Carlos and Jerome also were gunshot victims.

Carlos, then 18, was shot and killed just after Thanksgiving 1995 at the corner of Jackson Boulevard and State Street, apparently by a boy with whom he'd had an argument.

Jerome was shot and killed at age 23 on July 26, 2000. He had reportedly been standing at a pay phone in the 400 block of West Chicago Avenue when a maroon van pulled up and its occupant opened fire.

According to a 2000 Tribune story, Ronnie Chambers had tattoos on his forearms to remind him of his dead siblings: a crucifix with a ribbon draped across it commemorated Carlos, a tombstone with a crucifix was for Jerome and another tombstone with a cross honored LaToya.

"They say you can't outrun death, but I can try to dodge it," Ronnie said then. "I don't even try to live day by day anymore; it's more like second by second."

After his death Saturday, Smith called Ronnie Chambers "my everything. I lost a part of me. ... Nothing that anyone can say can make me feel better."

In a December appearance on the "The Ricki Lake Show," Chambers identified himself as a former gang member who was trying to help others stay away from that kind of life.

Police said he'd been arrested 29 times and had four felony convictions. Records show his most recent conviction was in 2005 for receiving, possessing or selling a stolen motor vehicle. He was sentenced to three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, records show.

Chambers, whose nickname was "Scooby," had been "trying to change his life," Smith said.

He worked in the music business, and had returned from an event for YK, an aspiring rapper he was trying to help, when the shooting occurred, Smith said.

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Riots over Egyptian death sentences kill at least 32

PORT SAID, Egypt/CAIRO (Reuters) - At least 32 people were killed on Saturday when Egyptians rampaged in protest at the sentencing of 21 people to death over a soccer stadium disaster, violence that compounds a political crisis facing Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

Armored vehicles and military police fanned through the streets of Port Said, where gunshots rang out and protesters burned tires in anger that people from their city had been blamed for the deaths of 74 people at a match last year.

The rioting in Port Said, one of the most deadly spasms of violence since Hosni Mubarak's ouster two years ago, followed a day of anti-Mursi demonstrations on Friday, when nine people were killed. The toll over the past two days stands at 41.

The flare-ups make it even tougher for Mursi, who drew fire last year for expanding his powers and pushing through an Islamist-tinged constitution, to fix the creaking economy and cool tempers enough to ensure a smooth parliamentary election.

That vote is expected in the next few months and is meant to cement a democratic transition that has been blighted from the outset by political rows and street clashes.

The National Defense Council, which is led by Mursi and includes the defense minister who commands the army, called for "a broad national dialogue that would be attended by independent national characters" to discuss political differences and ensure a "fair and transparent" parliamentary poll.

The National Salvation Front of liberal-minded groups and other Mursi opponents cautiously welcomed the call.


Clashes in Port Said erupted after a judge sentenced 21 men to die for involvement in the deaths at the soccer match on February 1, 2012. Many were fans of the visiting team, Cairo's Al Ahly.

Al Ahly fans had threatened violence if the court had not meted out the death penalty. They cheered outside their Cairo club when the verdict was announced. But in Port Said, residents were furious that people from their city were held responsible.

Protesters ran wildly through the streets of the Mediterranean port, lighting tires in the street and storming two police stations, witnesses said. Gunshots were reported near the prison where most of the defendants were being held.

A security source in Port Said said 32 people were killed there, many dying from gunshot wounds. He said 312 were wounded and the ministry of defense had allocated a military plane to transfer the injured to military hospitals.

Inside the court in Cairo, families of victims danced, applauded and some broke down in tears of joy when they heard Judge Sobhy Abdel Maguid declare that the 21 men would be "referred to the Mufti", a phrase used to denote execution, as all death sentences must be reviewed by Egypt's top religious authority.

There were 73 defendants on trial. Those not sentenced on Saturday would face a verdict on March 9, the judge said.

At the Port Said soccer stadium a year ago, many spectators were crushed and witnesses saw some thrown off balconies after the match between Al Ahly and local team al-Masri. Al Ahly fans accused the police of being complicit in the deaths.

Among those killed on Saturday were a former player for al-Masri and a soccer player in another Port Said team, the website of the state broadcaster reported.


On Friday, protesters angry at Mursi's rule had taken to the streets for the second anniversary of the uprising that erupted on January 25, 2011 and brought Mubarak down 18 days later.

Police fired teargas and protesters hurled stones and petrol bombs. Nine people were killed, mainly in the port city of Suez, and hundreds more were injured across the nation.

Reflecting international concern at the two days of clashes, British Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt said: "This cannot help the process of dialogue which we encourage as vital for Egypt today, and we must condemn the violence in the strongest terms."

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged the Egyptian authorities to restore calm and order and called on all sides to show restraint, her spokesperson said.

On Saturday, some protesters again clashed and scuffled with police in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities. In the capital, youths pelted police lines with rocks near Tahrir Square.

In Suez, police fired teargas when protesters angry at Friday's deaths hurled petrol bombs and stormed a police post and other governmental buildings including the agriculture and social solidarity units.

Around 18 prisoners in Suez police stations managed to escape during the violence, a security source there said, and some 30 police weapons were stolen.

"We want to change the president and the government. We are tired of this regime. Nothing has changed," said Mahmoud Suleiman, 22, in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the cauldron of the 2011 anti-Mubarak revolt.

Mursi's opponents say he has failed to deliver on economic pledges or to be a president representing the full political and communal diversity of Egyptians, as he promised.

"Egypt will not regain its balance except by a political solution that is transparent and credible, by a government of national salvation to restore order and heal the economy and with a constitution for all Egyptians," prominent opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on Twitter.

The opposition National Salvation Front, responding to the Defense Council's call for dialogue, said there must be a clear agenda and guarantees that any deal would be implemented, spokesman Khaled Dawoud told Reuters.

The Front earlier on Saturday threatened an election boycott and to call for more protests on Friday if demands were not met. Its demands included picking a national unity government to restore order and holding an early presidential poll.

Mursi's supporters say the opposition does not respect the democracy that has given Egypt its first freely elected leader.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled Mursi to office, said in a statement that "corrupt people" and media who were biased against the president had stirred up fury on the streets.

The frequent violence and political schism between Islamists and secular Egyptians have hurt Mursi's efforts to revive an economy in crisis as investors and tourists have stayed away, taking a heavy toll on Egypt's currency.

(Additional reporting by Omar Fahmy, Peter Griffiths in London and Claire Davenport in Brussels; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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