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Early Cherry Blossom Bloom Sets Off Global Warming Concerns

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  • Climate scientists are concerned as the famous Sakura Cherry Blossom season in Kyoto, Japan, began at its earliest date since records began 1,200 years ago.
  • The early blooms support the growing trend of short, harsh winters followed by longer, warmer springs, summers, and falls.
  • This pattern could cause havoc on both plant and animal wildlife, which often use the regularity of the seasons to dictate migratory patterns and other life cycles.

Editor’s Note: The Japanese government has asked Western outlets to adhere to Japanese naming conventions. To that end, Japanese names will be written as Family Name followed by Given Name.

Early Sakura Season

Japan’s famous Sakura Cherry Blossom season came early this year, lasting about a week and a half after the pink and white flowers first bloomed on March 22.

That date, however, has set off alarm bells for climate scientists as it’s the earliest recorded cherry blossom bloom. Unlike many climate records, which can be incomplete and fragmentary (making tracking trends difficult), the cherry blossom bloom has consistent records dating back to 812 CE in Kyoto, Japan.

While there are blossoms in other parts of the world, such as in the U.S., the start of the “season” is often based on Kyoto, where the records are continuous and consistent. Even in Japan, some regions such as Tokyo have blossoming that begins slightly sooner in the year.

Unpredictable Climate Is the Norm

For climate scientists, the early blooms show a growing trend “as global temperatures warm, the last spring frosts are occurring earlier and flowering is occurring sooner,” says Dr. Lewis Ziska from the Columbia University Environmental Health Sciences.

Aono Yasuyuki, a researcher at Osaka Prefecture University that studied the 1,200 years record of cherry blossom blooms, points out its solid evidence of rising temperatures and long-term climate changes. telling CNN, “Sakura blooms are very temperature sensitive.” 

“Flowering and full bloom could be earlier or later depending on the temperature alone,” he said. “The temperature was low in the 1820s, but it has risen by about 3.5 degrees Celsius (6.3 degrees Fahrenheit) to this day.”

Global warming, often paradoxically, involves particularly cold winters followed by quickly rising temperatures and early springs, such as what happened this year in Japan.

In the grand scheme, early cherry blossom blooms may seem like a small thing, yet many plants and animals rely on the changing seasons (and their regularity) to dictate life cycles. With extreme temperature changes happening more unpredictably, it could lead to plants or animals engaging in behavior that could jeopardize their existence.

See what others are saying: (BBC) (CBS News) (CNN)

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95-Year-Old Woman Dies After Police Tases Her in Nursing Home

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The officer involved was suspended with pay and charged with assault.


A 95-year-old Australian woman whom police tasered in a nursing home last week has reportedly died from her injuries.

Clare Nowland, who had dementia and required a walking frame to stand up and move, was living at the Yallambee Lodge in Cooma in southeastern Australia.

At about 4:15 a.m. on May 17, police and paramedics responded to a report of a woman standing outside her room with a steak knife.

They encountered Nowland, then reportedly tried to negotiate with her for several minutes, but she didn’t drop the knife.

The five-foot-two, 95-pound woman walked toward the two officers “at a slow pace,” police said at a news conference, so one of them tasered her.

She fell to the floor and reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a severe brain bleed, causing her to be hospitalized in critical condition.

Nowland passed away in a hospital surrounded by her family, the New South Wales police confirmed in a statement today.

After a week-long investigation, the police force also said that the senior constable involved would appear in court next week to face charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault.

NSW police procedure states that tasers should not be used against elderly or disabled people absent exceptional circumstances.

Following the incident, community members, activists, and disability rights advocates expressed bewilderment and anger at what they called an unnecessary use of force, and some are now questioning why law enforcement took so long to prosecute the officer involved.

See what others are saying: (Reuters) (The New York Times) (CNN)

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U.K. Police Face Backlash After Arresting Anti-Monarchy Protesters

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan said that some of the arrests “raise questions” and “investigations are ongoing.”


The Public Order Act

A controversial protest crackdown law in the U.K. is facing criticism after dozens of anti-monarchy protesters were arrested during the coronation ceremony in London over the weekend.

The law, dubbed the “Public Order Act” was passed roughly a week ahead of the coronation for King Charles III. It gives police more power to restrict protesters and limits the tactics protesters can use in public spaces. It was condemned by human rights groups upon its passing, and is facing a new round of heat after 52 people were arrested over coronation protests on Saturday.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said protesters were arrested for public order offenses, breach of the peace and conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. The group said it gave advance warning that its “tolerance for any disruption, whether through protest or otherwise, will be low and that we would deal robustly with anyone intent on undermining the celebration.”

It is currently unclear how many of those arrested were detained specifically for violating the Public Order Act, however, some of those arrested believe the new law was used against them.

“Make no mistake. There is no longer a right to peaceful protest in the UK,” Graham Smith, the CEO of anti-monarchy group Republic tweeted after getting arrested. “I have been told many times the monarch is there to defend our freedoms. Now our freedoms are under attack in his name.”

An Attempt to “Diminish” Protests

During a BBC Radio interview, Smith also said he believes the dozens of arrests were premeditated. 

“There was nothing that we did do that could possibly justify even being detained and arrested and held,” Smith claimed. 

“The whole thing was a deliberate attempt to disrupt and diminish our protest.”

Yasmine Ahmed, the U.K. Director of Human Rights Watch, also tweeted that the arrests were “disgraceful.”

“These are scenes you’d expect to see in Russia not the UK,” she wrote. 

When asked about the controversy, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told reporters officers should  do “what they think is best” in an apparent show of support for the Metropolitan Police. 

For his part, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he is looking into the matter.

“Some of the arrests made by police as part of the Coronation event raise questions and whilst investigations are ongoing, I’ve sought urgent clarity from Met leaders on the action taken,” Khan tweeted.

See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (CNN) (The Washington Post)

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Foreign Nationals Make Mad Dash out of Sudan as Conflict Rages

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The conflict’s death toll has surpassed 420, with nearly 4,000 people wounded.


As the 10-day-long power struggle between rival generals tore Sudan apart, foreign governments with citizens in the country scrambled to evacuate them over the weekend.

On Sunday, U.S. special forces landed in the capital Khartoum and carried out nearly 100 American diplomats along with their families and some foreign nationals on helicopters.

An estimated 16,000 Americans, however, remain in the country and U.S. officials said in a statement that a broader evacuation mission would be too dangerous.

Christopher Maier, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity warfare, said in a statement that the Pentagon may assist U.S. citizens find safe routes out of Sudan.

“[The Defense Department] is at present considering actions that may include use of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to observe routes and detect threats,” he said.

Germany and France also reportedly pulled around 700 people out of the country.

More countries followed with similar efforts, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Canada, China, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Indonesia.

Yesterday, a convoy carrying some 700 United Nations, NGO, and embassy staff drove to Port Sudan, a popular extraction point now that the airport in Khartoum has closed due to fighting.

Reports of gunmen prowling the capital streets and robbing people trying to escape, as well as looters breaking into abandoned homes and shops, have persuaded most residents to stay indoors.

Heavy gunfire, airstrikes, and artillery shelling have terrorized the city despite several proposed ceasefires.

Over the weekend, the reported death toll topped 420, with nearly 4,000 people injured, though both numbers are likely to be undercounted.

See what others are saying: (The Guardian) (The New York Times) (The Washington Post)

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