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El Nino begins decline after ‘powerful’ weather impact: UN

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Sea surface temperature in the equatorial Pacific Ocean (NOAA)

The 2015-2016 El Nino weather phenomenon, one of the most powerful on record, has begun its decline but continues to have a strong influence on global climate patterns, the UN’s weather agency said Thursday.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said El Nino, which occurs every two to seven years, has “passed its peak” but ocean temperature rises in recent months proved its considerable impact.

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“We have just witnessed one of the most powerful ever El Nino events which caused extreme weather in countries on all continents and helped fuel record global heat in 2015,” WMO Secretary General Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

The UN agency had forecast this El Nino to be the worst in 15 years, a prediction borne out by ocean temperatures recorded in late 2015 that were more than 2.0 degrees Celsius above average.

The WMO statement said this El Nino was comparable to the particularly strong phenomena recorded in 1982-83 and 1997-98.

“Parts of South America and East Africa are still recovering from torrential rains and flooding,” the statement said, linking those events to El Nino, which sparks global climate extremes.

“The economic and human toll from drought…is becoming increasingly apparent in southern (Africa) and the Horn of Africa, central America and a number of other regions,” it added.

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This El Nino is expected to end towards the middle of the year.

While scientists say weather patterns like El Nino are not caused by climate change, rising ocean temperatures caused by global warming are believed to impact their intensity and frequency.


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Chris Wallace allowed Trump to turn debate into a ‘disgusting moment for democracy’: columnist

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Writing in The Atlantic this Wednesday, James Fallows called Tuesday night's first presidential debate a "disgusting night for Democracy" -- and he laid a good portion of the blame at moderator Chris Wallace's feet.

"It became obvious five minutes in that Donald Trump’s strategy was to interrupt, yell, insult, and disrupt as often as he could," Fallows writes. "This is a strategy that can work only if no one gets in the way of it, and Chris Wallace just let it go on."

Fallows acknowledges that Trump is a hard person to reign in, but adds that Wallace should have adapted, but didn't. Wallace did not enforce the rules, and the result was the same as it would be in a brawl or an unrefereed sporting match, according to Fallows -- who didn't completely absolve Biden, saying he was taking Trump's bait half the time.

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Trump fans already blaming Democrats for election violence: ‘Don’t think I’d be walking around in my MAGA hat’

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President Donald Trump has refused to commit to the peaceful transition of power, but his supporters appear overwhelmingly convinced that any election-related violence will be provoked by his opponents.

The president has repeatedly suggested that nationwide protests against police brutality are part of a conspiracy to undermine his re-election, and 10 of 11 delegates to the Republican National Convention interviewed by Politico believe violence will surge if Trump wins.

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Berlin film fest casts new light on ex-director’s hidden Nazi past

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The Berlin film festival, one of Europe's top cinema showcases, released a study Wednesday showing the deep entrenchment of its founding director in the Nazi propaganda apparatus, which he actively covered up.

The Berlinale, as the annual event is known, said in a statement that researchers found that Alfred Bauer, who ran the festival from its start in 1951 until 1976, was a high-ranking official in the Reich Film Administration.

Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels created the body in 1942 to oversee movie production and Bauer's role there "contributed to the functioning, stabilisation and legitimation of the Nazi regime", the festival said in a statement.

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