October 01, 2016 from VOA
Meltwater Lakes in Antarctica Show Signs of Trouble
Antarctica is home to the largest ice mass on Earth.
The continent sits on 14 million square kilometers of rock. About 98 percent of the land surface is covered by ice.
Beautiful lakes have begun to appear on the top of the ice. They look like islands of deep blue in an ocean of white. These lakes are called supraglacial or meltwater lakes.
Although the lakes can be beautiful, the ones scientists studied are a sign of trouble. Amber Leeson is a scientist with Lancaster University in England.
"We really weren't expecting to find lakes as far inland as 20 kilometers, which was the furthest inland lake we found during the study. And it was important that we found the link between the atmospheric temperature and the depth, number, and size of the lakes..."
Scientists say Antarctica has always had supraglacial lakes appearing on the ice during the summer months. But the more lakes there are, the more unstable they make the continent’s ice shelf.
Ice shelves are permanent, but floating pieces of ice that connect to the land. They form where a glacier or ice sheet reaches a coastline and into the sea.
Leeson says water from the lakes can drip down through the glacier, causing the huge river of ice and snow to weaken.
"If they form on the grounded ice, which is the bit of the ice sheet that sits on the bedrock, then the water they contain can drain away through the ice to the base, where it can lubricate the flow of the ice and make it flow a bit faster. If they form on the floating part of the ice, which is where the ice shelf extends over the ocean and begins to float on the sea, by repeatedly filling and draining they can actually weaken the ice shelf."
Leeson and other scientists believe that lakes are partly responsible for the collapse of the Antarctica ice sheets.
"...the Larsen B ice shelf collapsed in 2002 and we think that this is because it was covered in lakes in the years prior to collapse, and that by repeatedly filling and draining, they weaken the ice sheet, leading to its eventual disintegration..."
And as temperatures rise, the team expects to see more and more lakes appearing in the continent. The scientists fear that all that meltwater could raise the world's sea levels.
I’m Marsha James.
Marsha James wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Her story includes information from an Associated Press report. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
ice mass - n. a large piece of ice
supraglacial lake – n. any pond of liquid water on the top of a glacier
ice sheet – n. a very large and thick area of ice that covers a region
ice shelf – n. a floating sheet of ice permanently attached to a land mass
glacier – n. an large areas of ice formed from falling snow and building up over the years
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Democratic presidential candidate Clinton calls for national, global unity
In the U.S. presidential election, the difference in outlook has become clear between Republican nominee Donald Trump, who advocates an “America first” policy, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who calls for international cooperation and national reconciliation.
Clinton, a former secretary of state, was nominated as a presidential candidate at the Democratic convention, kicking off the full-fledged election campaign.
In her acceptance speech, Clinton said, “We’ve reached a milestone in our nation’s march toward a more perfect union,” emphasizing the significance of having been nominated as the first female presidential candidate of a major party.
The important thing is that Clinton spelled out her commitment to reinforce alliances, saying, “We are stronger when we work with our allies around the world.”
When Clinton was secretary of state, she promoted the policy of attaching importance to Asia. She was the first within the administration to make clear that the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture are covered by Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which stipulates that the United States is obliged to defend Japan.
It is also reassuring for Japan that there are more than a few people within the Clinton camp who are knowledgeable about Japan, including Kurt Campbell, a former assistant secretary of state.
While making no direct reference to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade accord, Clinton went only so far as to express her opposition to “unfair trade deals” in her speech. We can rate positively that she left some room for the U.S. ratification of the accord, while paying consideration to left-wingers within the party who oppose the TPP.
Japan must help U.S. ratify TPP
It is vital for Japan to move ahead swiftly with procedures for Diet approval so as to create an environment that will make it easier for the United States to ratify the pact.
Clinton criticized Trump, who advocates an exclusionary immigration policy, saying, “He wants to divide us — from the rest of the world, and from each other.” She said, “People are looking for steady leadership,” and promoted her feasible policies.
At the Democratic convention, U.S. President Barack Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had fiercely vied with Clinton for the Democratic presidential candidacy, and others made speeches in support of Clinton. It can be said that she succeeded in orchestrating a reconciliation within the party.
A challenge for Clinton is her record-low popularity as a presidential candidate, similar to Trump’s. During her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton used her private e-mail address for communication of classified information against the state department’s rules.
Judicial authorities did not bring charges against Clinton over the case but said she was “extremely careless.”
When the scandal was uncovered, she initially refused to explain her case in detail or to apologize. This may have led to a national sentiment that she cannot be trusted.
Clinton, who was a first lady and also served as a senator, has been regarded as “a symbol of the establishment” by young people and others who support Sanders.
During the presidential campaign, she needs not only to make her claim to be the “anti-Trump,” but also to win support of those who are discontented about the present state of things. Otherwise, she may not even be able to unite the whole nation.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 31, 2016)
--The Asahi Shimbun, July 27
EDITORIAL: Corrupt politics linger 4 decades after Lockheed bribery scandal
July 27 marked the 40th anniversary of the arrest of Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka over the Lockheed bribery scandal.
Even after he was indicted on criminal charges, Tanaka (1918-1993) led a massive faction within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and wielded huge political clout by playing kingmaker. Since then, the landscape in Nagatacho, the political power center in Tokyo, has changed dramatically. Factions within the LDP have sunk into political irrelevance. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has acquired so much political power that many pundits are lamenting the lack of political forces that can pose a serious challenge to his leadership.
However, one thing remains unchanged in Japanese politics. It is the power of money that keeps breeding graft and corruption.
During the past four decades, a series of steps have been taken to tackle the problem. The electoral systems of both houses of the Diet have been reformed. The Political Fund Control Law has been revised to remove special-interest money from politics, while the guilt-by-association rule concerning elections has been enhanced.
But the politicians who created the new rules have installed convenient loopholes. The current situation is nowhere close to the elimination of doubt and the restoration of public trust in politics.
Just recently, Akira Amari resigned as economy minister over his dubious relations with a construction company. And a month ago Tokyo Governor Yoichi Masuzoe stepped down after he failed to offer convincing explanations about his seemingly inappropriate use of political funds.
Despite all these and other money scandals involving politicians, lawmakers, especially those of the LDP, remain reluctant to make any vigorous response to the deep-seated problem.
During their campaigns for the July 10 Upper House election, most parties other than the LDP, including the LDP’s junior coalition partner, Komeito, the main opposition Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party and the Initiatives from Osaka, promised to take measures to clean up the rot in politics, although their proposals differed in content and strength.
The promised measures included imposing stronger responsibility on politicians to oversee the acts of their secretaries, injecting greater transparency into the expenditures of political funds and state-financed expenses for political activities, and banning political donations by companies and other organizations.
But the LDP, which has Amari among its members and supported Masuzoe in the previous Tokyo gubernatorial election, made no reference to this problem in its campaign platform.
This kind of attitude only widens the distance between citizens and politics and deepens public cynicism.
Although the LDP won a major victory in the Upper House election, the ruling party will be long remembered for its failure to make a serious response to scandals involving its members and allies.
We urge the other parties, including Komeito, to make nonpartisan efforts to find common ground on this issue and create a situation that prods the reluctant LDP into action.
What they should do first is to make all flows of money into politics completely transparent and establish a system in which citizens can always check and evaluate the flows.
Tanaka left another big blot in the history of Japanese politics.
One and a half years before he was arrested, Tanaka was forced to resign as prime minister amid allegations about his shady financial connections. At that time, he pledged to “clarify the truth someday to win people’s understanding.”
But he died without carrying out his promise. Now, both Amari and Masuzoe remain silent about the allegations against them, apparently waiting for the storm of criticism to pass.
Nowadays, there is a growing wave of positive reviews about Tanaka’s political record, probably due in part to nostalgic feelings about his era, when the Japanese economy was growing rapidly.
But the dark role of big money in politics and politicians’ inability to be honest and straightforward with the public about money are both negative legacies from the era that still haunt Japanese politics 40 years after the downfall of the powerful, but corrupt politician.
--The Asahi Shimbun, June 25
EDITORIAL: ‘Brexit’ vote must not trigger wave of global nationalism
The British people’s decision to pull their country out of the European Union has sent shock waves across the world.
The stunning decision could turn out to be the biggest tectonic shift in the world order since the end of the Cold War.
A majority of votes cast in the June 23 referendum on whether to leave the EU or remain in the bloc were for “Brexit.” Britons have decided that their country should not be part of an integrated Europe.
Since the end of World War II, Europe has moved steadily toward integration. Britain’s withdrawal from the EU will be a historic development that runs counter to this movement, launched with a pledge of no more war in Europe.
Britain is the second largest economy in Europe and has unique global influence, a legacy of the British Empire. Its secession from the EU will have immeasurable effects on the entire world.
The outcome of the referendum is also a sign of the British people's will to resist globalization, which has accelerated since the end of the Cold War. They have run out of patience with the trend of many countries sharing rules on important issues such as immigration and trade.
This anti-globalization sentiment is, however, not unique to Britain. In the United States and in other parts of Europe, groups trying to take advantage of growing public resentment toward globalization to promote their political agenda for closing the doors of their nations are gaining ground.
At a time when countries should make united efforts to counter burgeoning narrow-minded nationalism, Britain has opted to take the path of expanding the scope of its unilateral actions. In mapping out its future course, Britain will have to navigate through uncharted waters.
No matter how the country’s negotiations with the EU over its withdrawal pan out, the two sides should not lose sight of the importance of maintaining close cooperation.
Britain and the EU can secure mutual benefits and contribute to stability in the world only when they work closely together to tackle challenges.
We strongly hope that the two sides will figure out a way to build a new constructive relationship without undermining the movement toward European integration.
CHALLENGE IS HOW TO HEAL THE DIVISION
The outcome of this referendum should not be allowed to serve as a starting point for a new, dark chapter of world history in which citizens around the world become estranged from one another.
The first thing is to heal the rift in British society. The bitterly fought referendum left the nation sharply divided.
Campaign debates were often dominated by remarks designed to emphasize the threats of an economic crisis or immigrants.
Amid heightened tensions due to a heated confrontation between the two camps, a member of parliament in the Remain camp was shot to death.
British society is now gripped by a dangerously charged atmosphere.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who passionately called for votes to remain in the EU, has announced he will step down by autumn.
It is, to be sure, natural for the country to have a new leader to draw up a road map for the future.
But his own Conservative Party has been divided between the Leave and the Remain camps. Scotland, which has a strong sense of belonging to the EU, could make a fresh attempt to become independent.
Britain seems to be in for a prolonged period of political turmoil.
Both Cameron and his successor will have to act swiftly to heal the rift within the country and create a conductive environment for cool-headed discussions on the country’s relations with the EU and its position in the world.
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION KEY
Britain, which had a mighty empire in the 19th century, entered a period of serious stagnation in the late 20th century. It was able to shed stagnation and attain new prosperity because it opened its door to the world and rode the wave of globalization to enhance its competitiveness, especially in the financial services industry.
But British citizens who have not benefited from their country’s economic growth have become increasingly disgruntled with the system and worried about their future. As a result, British society as a whole has developed an inward-looking attitude.
Besides people drawn to the reactionary argument that Britain should regain “sovereignty,” many other Britons voted for leaving the EU because of their economic discontent.
Despite the fact that their country has achieved economic growth due to the lowered barriers of national borders, British people have made clear their wish to see high border walls built up again.
This twisted public psychology has also been behind the Trump Phenomenon in the United States and the recent rise of rightist political forces in many other European countries.
Britain’s decision could trigger a wave of movements toward secession from the EU in other member countries.
If in such a political climate Trump is elected U.S. president and Marine Le Pen, the leader of the rightist National Front of France, is elected French president next year, the world will be filled with policies of intolerance.
The situation where the world is dominated by this inward-looking trend must be prevented.
The spread of narrow-minded and self-centered unilateralism among countries will make it impossible for the world to grapple with challenges such as global warming, the proliferation of terrorism and loopholes in taxation.
It is difficult for any industrial nation to maintain its political health.
Low economic growth, declining welfare standards due to fiscal strains and widening income gaps are formidable problems common to industrial nations. Politicians everywhere are struggling to find effective solutions to these problems.
That’s why expanding international cooperation is the only option for countries in tackling these tough challenges.
All nations should reflect afresh on the fact that the only way to deal with problems transcending national borders is through cooperative actions based on collective experiences and wisdom.
We hope Europe will not lose its solid status as a strong, consistent voice for freedom and democratic values.
RESPOND TO MARKET TURBULENCE
The impact of Britain’s decision to leave the EU has roiled stock and currency markets. Leading nations should first focus on responding to confusion in financial markets.
In addition to Britain and the EU, the Group of Seven major industrial nations, which also includes Japan and the United States, should play the leading role in securing emergency policy coordination to calm the unnerved markets.
The central banks of the major countries, including the Bank of Japan, are apparently prepared to cooperate in providing cash-strapped financial institutions with dollars.
If an unpredictable situation or the necessity of emergency responses arises, they should take flexible and powerful actions in solid cooperation to prevent a full-blown financial crisis.
--The Asahi Shimbun, June 24
EDITORIAL: The meaning behind June 23 should be shared beyond Okinawa
Okinawa recalled its horrifying experiences in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa and consoled the spirits of the victims on June 23, the 71st anniversary of the end of the bloody warfare. June 23 is a prefecture-designated holiday marking the end of organized fighting by Japanese troops deployed to the southern island prefecture.
More than seven decades since the end of the devastating battle in the final days of the Pacific War, many scars are left unhealed in Okinawa.
U.S. military bases, for instance, occupy 10 percent of the prefecture’s land. Unexploded shells are still discovered frequently in various parts of the prefecture. The remains of the war dead are found in road construction sites.
More than 100 sets of remains are uncovered every year. In the last fiscal year, which ended in March, the remains of 103 bodies were discovered. The numbers for the preceding two years were 194 and 263, respectively.
More than 200,000 people died in the Battle of Okinawa. By March this year, 185,224 sets of remains of Japanese war dead had been laid to rest at the national cemetery for people who died in the Battle of Okinawa in the Mabuni district of Itoman, the site of the last major fighting in the warfare, according to the prefectural government.
The remains of nearly 3,000 Japanese victims have yet to be found.
In the Battle of Okinawa, 66,000 Japanese soldiers and civilians in the military services from other parts of Japan died along with 28,000 from Okinawa Prefecture. In addition, an estimated 94,000 non-military residents of the prefecture, or a quarter of the prefectural population, were killed.
Although many remains are still waiting to be discovered, the task of gathering them has been left to private-sector volunteers. As a result, the work has been proceeding at a glacial pace.
A law mandating the government to collect all remains of the war dead finally came into force in April.
In response, the government has decided to make intensive efforts to collect the remains over the next nine years. The government should take this opportunity to make up for lost time.
The June 23 official memorial ceremony, sponsored by the prefectural government, was held at the Peace Memorial Park in Mabuni. But a spirit-consoling service was also held in front of the gate of Camp Schwab, a U.S. military base in the Henoko district of Nago.
Immediately after the Battle of Okinawa ended, the U.S. military established an internment camp for Japanese civilians. Many residents of the prefecture, ranging from an estimated 20,000 to 40,000, spent several months in the camp. A number of civilian prisoners of war died in the camp from malaria, malnutrition and other reasons.
The construction of Camp Schwab started around 1956. But a citizens group opposed to the proposed relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Ginowan in central Okinawa Prefecture to Henoko started holding the spirit-consoling service last year, believing there are still unfound remains within the camp.
With the law promoting the collection of war dead remains taking effect, the government has pledged to carry out such work in U.S. bases as well.
The U.S. military should cooperate with efforts to ensure an early completion of the project.
People in Okinawa are still suffering from the excessive burden of hosting so many U.S. military bases within their prefecture. The central government has stuck stubbornly to the Futenma relocation plan despite strong opposition among people in Okinawa.
The prefecture was recently shocked by the arrest of a former U.S. Marine working as a civilian at the Kadena Air Base in the prefecture on suspicion of raping and murdering a 20-year-old woman. Her body was found in a wooded area after she went missing in late April.
The suffering of Okinawan people due to the heavy U.S. military presence in the prefecture is inseparable from their memories of the Battle of Okinawa.
The central government and Japanese living in the mainland need to understand the full meaning of June 23 and reflect afresh on the history of suffering experienced by people in Okinawa.