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Pollution Drops Drastically In Italy As Country Goes Into Lockdown

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The global economy may be crashing as a result of the coronavirus, but it appears that the slowdown of work and movement may actually be good for the environment. Sattelite images taken in the different parts of the world where there are intense quarantines have shown that there has been a drastic reduction of pollution in these areas. Of course, this has come at a massive cost to the human species, both due to the loss of lives experienced by so many and the extreme economic hardships to come.

The European Space Agency (ESA) released a timelapse video taken from space, which shows how drastically the air pollution has decreased in Italy during the recent lockdown. Claus Zehner, who manages the Copernicus Sentinel-5P, the satellite which took the photos over the Po Valley region, told the Independent that researchers are confident these changes are due to the reduction of activity at factories and on highways.

The satellite can measure concentrations of greenhouse gases and pollutants in the atmosphere, and it is obvious to tell that concentrations of nitrogen dioxide over Italy fell dramatically between January 1st and March 11th.

https://www.facebook.com/EuropeanSpaceAgency/videos/223306492195447/

Josef Aschbacher, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes, said, “Copernicus Sentinel-5P Tropomi is the most accurate instrument today that measures air pollution from space. These measurements, globally available thanks to the free and open data policy, provide crucial information for citizens and decision makers.”

Something similar happened in China during the lockdown of Wuhan.

Satellite images from NASA show falling levels of nitrogen dioxide in the past two months, correlating with the massive factor and travel shut down that has been taking place throughout the country. Scientists with NASA say that the reduction in nitrogen dioxide was first noticed around Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak where the quarantine was first imposed.

When comparing satellite images of the past two years, it is apparent that nitrogen dioxide levels this year are significantly lower than last year.

Now that the whole world is going into quarantine, it is very likely that similar results will be seen throughout the world, even in the United States, which is currently in the process of locking everyone down.

Still, there is a very good chance that this change in the atmosphere will be short-lived because these quarantines will not last forever. It has been reported that people in China are now getting back to work, so before long their emissions will be back to normal. The same can be said for Italy and the other places facing quarantine throughout the world.

However, what we have witnessed in this data over the past few months shows us just how easy it is to reverse the environmental trend that our species has been on for the past few generations. Unfortunately, in this case, it took the threat of a deadly virus and a massive quarantine enforced by law to get this to happen. Still, it does show us just how much progress can be made in a short amount of time.

Mark Horowitz is a graduate of Brandeis University with a degree in political science. Horowitz could have had a job at one of the top media organizations in the United States, but when working as an intern, he found that the journalists in the newsroom were confined by the anxieties and sensibilities of their bosses. Horowitz loved journalism, but wanted more freedom to pursue more complex topics than you would find on the evening news. Around the same time, he began to notice that there was a growing number of independent journalists developing followings online by sharing their in-depth analysis of advanced or off-beat topics. It wasn't long before Horowitz quit his internship with a large New York network to begin publishing his own material online.

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Cartel Boss Arrested In Connection With Killing of Mormon Families In Mexico

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Roberto González Montes, the alleged leader of the La Línea drug cartel, has been arrested for his involvement in the murder of three Mormon mothers and their six children last year.

Montes is also known as “El32” or “El Mudo,” which means “the mute.”

The arrest took place in the northern province of Chihuahua, according to the local Secretary of State for Public Security, Emilio García Ruiz, who said Montes had already been flown to Mexico City to be charged before a judge.

The horrific killings happened during a turf war between Montes’ La Línea Cartel and the rival Sinaloa Cartel.

Roberto González Montes / Fiscalía General del Estado

Also arrested in the bust were Eulalio Domínguez Alanís and Santiago Casavantes Radovich, who is known as “El Condor.”

The alleged cartel members were arrested by the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Organized Crime Investigation, the Secretary of National Defense, the National Intelligence Center and the navy, according to El Diario.

On the 4th of November 2019, about 70 miles south of the Mexico–United States border, cartel members opened fire on a three-car convoy that was traveling to a wedding. The vehicles in the convoy were carrying residents of the isolated La Mora community, which is predominantly composed of American Mexican “independent Mormons.”

Herika Martinez/AFP via Getty Images

Nine people were killed with some burned alive in a car. The victims included three women and six children, all of whom held dual US–Mexican citizenship.

All of the victims were from rancho La Mora, Sonora, a compound containing 30 to 40 homes on about a thousand acres, and with a full-time population of about 150 people.

Herika Martinez/AFP via Getty Images

The victims descend from settlers who founded Colonia Oaxaca, which is now called “Rancho Oaxaca.” It is part of the historical Mormon colonies founded in the late 19th century, but not affiliated with the official Mormon church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The church issued a statement after the incident expressing its “love, prayers, and sympathies,” but also distanced itself from the group’s style of Mormonism, saying that they are not officially affiliated with the group.

Alfredo Estrella/AFP via Getty Images

After the incident, Mexican officials said that the family was mistaken for a cartel convoy of vehicles. Earlier in the day, the same location had also been the scene of a shootout between rival cartel gangs. However, other theories were also floated about the family being specifically targeted.

According to the Dallas Morning News’s Alfredo Corchado, targeting of the victims may have been due to activism by certain extended LeBarón family members having “over the years been outspoken in their condemnation of criminal groups that hold sway over a wide swath of northern Mexico”

A member of the extended family, Julian LeBarón, whose brother Benjamin was killed by cartel gunmen in 2009, claims that the attack was targeted. He says that the gunmen knew exactly who they were shooting at because the surviving children claimed that one of the female victims had attempted to identify herself to stop the attack.

It is not exactly clear when the suspects were arrested, or what specific charges they are facing.

More background:

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Russia Says It Chased US Warship Out Of Disputed Waters With “Ramming Threat”

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On Tuesday, Russia’s defense ministry claimed that one of its warships chased a US Navy destroyer out of Russia’s Pacific territorial waters. 

The Admiral Vinogradov, an anti-submarine destroyer in Russia’s Pacific Fleet, sent a warning to the US ship and threatened to “use a ramming maneuver to drive the intruder out of its territorial waters,” according to a statement from Russia’s defense ministry.

The Admiral Vinogradov / / Wikimedia

After the incident, the USS John S. McCain, a guided-missile destroyer, retreated back into international waters.

The US Navy confirmed the incident in a statement describing the incident as the latest “freedom of navigation operation,” in which the US military challenges boundaries that they deem to be “illegitimate territorial claims.”

USS John McCain / Wikimedia

The American warship had been operating for several days in the Sea of Japan before the incident, and it was being tracked by the Russian military as it came closer to the contested region.

The U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet said in a statement that the USS John S. McCain had “asserted navigational rights” in the area “by challenging Russia’s excessive maritime claims.”

The statement explained that the Soviet Union unjustly claimed territory in 1984, and Russia has continued to maintain that the territory is theirs.

The statement read:

In 1984, the U.S.S.R declared a system of straight baselines along its coasts, including a straight baseline enclosing Peter the Great Bay as claimed internal waters. This 106-nautical mile (nm) closing line is inconsistent with the rules of international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention to enclose the waters of a bay. By drawing this closing line, the U.S.S.R. attempted to claim more internal waters – and territorial sea farther from shore – than it is entitled to claim under international law. Russia has continued the U.S.S.R. claim. By conducting this operation, the United States demonstrated that these waters are not Russia’s territorial sea and that the United States does not acquiesce in Russia’s claim that Peter the Great is a “historic bay” under international law.

However, it is important to note that this territory has been the same for over 25 years and has only just recently become a problem as tensions continue to escalate between the two superpowers. As the US Navy says later in its statement, these types of problems don’t happen between two countries that are on good terms.

In the past few years, diplomacy between the two countries has deteriorated and has spawned a new cold war. Many of the conflicts to take place between the United States and Russia happen through proxy wars in places like Syria or Libya. In fact, it is these two wars that have largely contributed to the hostility seen between those two nations today.

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Mysterious Monolith Discovered In The Middle Of Utah Desert By Helicopter

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Helicopter pilots with Utah’s highway patrol noticed a strange monolith in a remote area in the wilderness as they were counting sheep from above. It is estimated that the structure, which appears to be planted in the ground, stands at roughly 3 meters off the ground, or between 10 and 12 feet.

The monolith seems to be made from some sort of metal. It was so easy to see from the sky because its shiny metal body was a sharp contrast to the red rocks in the area.

Utah’s highway patrol shared images of both the sheep and the monolith on their social media pages.

The helicopter pilot, Bret Hutchings, told local news channel KSLTV, “That’s been about the strangest thing that I’ve come across out there in all my years of flying.”

Hutchings was flying for the Utah department of public safety, which was helping wildlife resource officers count bighorn sheep in the region.

“One of the biologists is the one who spotted it and we just happened to fly directly over the top of it,” Hutchings said. “He was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, turn around, turn around!’ And I was like, ‘What?’ And he’s like, ‘There’s this thing back there – we’ve got to go look at it!’”

Hutchings said the object looked like it was placed there intentionally, and doesn’t suspect that it fell from the sky. He believes that it was the work of an artist or prankster, possibly referencing a classic movie.

“I’m assuming it’s some new wave artist or something or, you know, somebody that was a big 2001: A Space Odyssey fan,” Hutchings said.

The strange monolith does have a striking resemblance to a famous scene from the 1968 Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In the famous scene, a group of apes encounters a giant monolith that is in a deserted area that looks eerily familiar to the region in Utah where the real monolith was found this week.

But if it was a prankster, why would they put it in the middle of nowhere?

Once they spotted the monolith from the sky, the team decided to land the helicopter and check it out. Video shared with KSLTV, which can be seen below, shows the team getting up close to the monolith for the first time.

“We were kind of joking around that if one of us suddenly disappears, then the rest of us make a run for it,” Hutchings said.

Authorities have not revealed the exact location of the monolith because they don’t want curiosity seekers going out into the desert and getting hurt. The only thing that is really known about the location is that it is a remote area in southern Utah that is home to many bighorn sheep.

The monolith has been compared to the plank sculptures of artist John McCracken, who lived in New Mexico and New York until his death in 2011.

However, no one knows exactly what it is or where it came from, and there could be other possible reasons, including national security, that would prevent a government agency from revealing the location of this strange monolith.

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