Lack of Wind Slows Frenchman Crossing Atlantic In Barrel

French adventurer Jean-Jacques Savin is 36 days into his attempt to cross the Atlantic in a specially built orange barrel.

With no engine, sails or paddles, the unusual craft relies on trade winds and currents to push him 4,800 kilometers from the Canary Islands to Caribbean in about three months.

On Wednesday, he reported awaking to an early spring morning and clear sky with a beautiful crescent moon. However, he said there was not a lot of wind, which was slowing his travels.

He described his journey as a “crossing during which man isn’t captain of his ship, but a passenger of the ocean.”

Savin spent months building his bright orange, barrel-shaped capsule of resin-coated plywood that is strong enough to withstand battering waves and other stresses.

The barrel is 3 meters long and 2.10 meters across. It has a small galley and a mattress with straps to keep him from being tossed out of his bunk by rough seas.

Portholes on either side of the barrel and another looking into the water provide sunlight and a bit of entertainment. The unique craft also has a solar panel that generates energy for communications and GPS positioning.

As he drifts along, Savin is dropping markers in the ocean to help oceanographers study ocean currents. At the end of the journey, Savin will be studied by doctors for effects of solitude in close confinement.

He also posts regular updates, including GPS coordinates tracking the journey, on a Facebook page. 

Savin’s adventure, which will cost a little more than $65,000, was funded by French barrel makers and crowdfunding.

Savin hopes to end his journey on a French island, such as Martinique or Guadeloupe. “That would be easier for the paperwork and for bringing the barrel back,” he told AFP.

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Lack of Wind Slows Frenchman Crossing Atlantic In Barrel

French adventurer Jean-Jacques Savin is 36 days into his attempt to cross the Atlantic in a specially built orange barrel.

With no engine, sails or paddles, the unusual craft relies on trade winds and currents to push him 4,800 kilometers from the Canary Islands to Caribbean in about three months.

On Wednesday, he reported awaking to an early spring morning and clear sky with a beautiful crescent moon. However, he said there was not a lot of wind, which was slowing his travels.

He described his journey as a “crossing during which man isn’t captain of his ship, but a passenger of the ocean.”

Savin spent months building his bright orange, barrel-shaped capsule of resin-coated plywood that is strong enough to withstand battering waves and other stresses.

The barrel is 3 meters long and 2.10 meters across. It has a small galley and a mattress with straps to keep him from being tossed out of his bunk by rough seas.

Portholes on either side of the barrel and another looking into the water provide sunlight and a bit of entertainment. The unique craft also has a solar panel that generates energy for communications and GPS positioning.

As he drifts along, Savin is dropping markers in the ocean to help oceanographers study ocean currents. At the end of the journey, Savin will be studied by doctors for effects of solitude in close confinement.

He also posts regular updates, including GPS coordinates tracking the journey, on a Facebook page. 

Savin’s adventure, which will cost a little more than $65,000, was funded by French barrel makers and crowdfunding.

Savin hopes to end his journey on a French island, such as Martinique or Guadeloupe. “That would be easier for the paperwork and for bringing the barrel back,” he told AFP.

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Death Toll Reaches 11 as US Suffers Record Cold

Officials say as many as 11 people in the United States have died this week due to record-low winter temperatures that have made even quick trips outside dangerous and could cause frostbite within minutes.

Classes were canceled at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where a student was found in distress behind a campus building in extreme weather conditions. The wind chill when the student was found was minus-46 Celsius; the student later died at the hospital.

In Moline, Illinois, the temperature dropped to minus-36 degrees Celsius on Thursday. In Norris Camp, Minnesota, temperatures dropped to minus-44 degrees Celsius Wednesday, making it the coldest location in the United States and one of the coldest spots on Earth at that time.

Below-freezing temperatures put the town of Hell, Michigan, in the news this week, with news stories reporting that Hell had “frozen over,” referencing a popular American joke about an event that is unlikely to happen.

Mail service, as well as planes, trains and buses were suspended in the past two days in deference to the record-setting weather. In Chicago, both the blockbuster musical “Hamilton” and popular ice skating show “Disney on Ice” were canceled due to the weather.

In Detroit, automobile manufacturing plants were shut down mid-week to protect workers and conserve energy.

The high demand for power caused outages in Wisconsin and Iowa, and the governors of Wisconsin and Michigan declared states of emergency and ordered all state governments closed.

Officials said temperatures were below the freezing mark in 85 percent of the country, excluding Alaska and Hawaii.

Downtown Chicago streets were largely deserted after most offices told employees to stay home. Trains and buses operated with few passengers; engineers set fires along tracks to keep commuter trains moving. The hardiest commuters ventured out only after covering nearly every square inch of flesh to protect against the extreme chill, which in minutes froze ice crystals on eyelashes and eyebrows.

The city used transit buses, with nurses on board, as emergency warming centers for the homeless.  

Doctors in Minneapolis said they were treating cases of what they called fourth-degree frostbite, in which limbs are frostbitten down to the bone.

Mail carriers, known for making deliveries through rain, sleet and snow, drew the line at life-threatening cold. The U.S. Postal Service canceled mail service in parts of 11 states Wednesday.  

Meteorologists blamed the weather on a breakup of the polar vortex — cold air above the North Pole that has been pushed south across North America because of a blast of desert heat from North Africa.

Experts said it was possible that climate change was playing a part in the extreme cold. But they said it was hard to pinpoint the cause of a single weather event such as this week’s cold blast.

“It is not out of bounds with the historical record,” University of Miami professor Ben Kirtman said. “You get storms that are bigger than other storms. There is a big part of this that is part of the natural variability of the climate.”

Government scientists said increased moisture in the atmosphere because of global warming might bring on a higher number of severe snowstorms in the winter and more powerful hurricanes in the summer.

This week’s cold weather will be just a memory within a few days. Forecasters predicted chilly but above-freezing temperatures on Sunday and Monday in the Midwest and in the eastern United states.

 

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Death Toll Reaches 11 as US Suffers Record Cold

Officials say as many as 11 people in the United States have died this week due to record-low winter temperatures that have made even quick trips outside dangerous and could cause frostbite within minutes.

Classes were canceled at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where a student was found in distress behind a campus building in extreme weather conditions. The wind chill when the student was found was minus-46 Celsius; the student later died at the hospital.

In Moline, Illinois, the temperature dropped to minus-36 degrees Celsius on Thursday. In Norris Camp, Minnesota, temperatures dropped to minus-44 degrees Celsius Wednesday, making it the coldest location in the United States and one of the coldest spots on Earth at that time.

Below-freezing temperatures put the town of Hell, Michigan, in the news this week, with news stories reporting that Hell had “frozen over,” referencing a popular American joke about an event that is unlikely to happen.

Mail service, as well as planes, trains and buses were suspended in the past two days in deference to the record-setting weather. In Chicago, both the blockbuster musical “Hamilton” and popular ice skating show “Disney on Ice” were canceled due to the weather.

In Detroit, automobile manufacturing plants were shut down mid-week to protect workers and conserve energy.

The high demand for power caused outages in Wisconsin and Iowa, and the governors of Wisconsin and Michigan declared states of emergency and ordered all state governments closed.

Officials said temperatures were below the freezing mark in 85 percent of the country, excluding Alaska and Hawaii.

Downtown Chicago streets were largely deserted after most offices told employees to stay home. Trains and buses operated with few passengers; engineers set fires along tracks to keep commuter trains moving. The hardiest commuters ventured out only after covering nearly every square inch of flesh to protect against the extreme chill, which in minutes froze ice crystals on eyelashes and eyebrows.

The city used transit buses, with nurses on board, as emergency warming centers for the homeless.  

Doctors in Minneapolis said they were treating cases of what they called fourth-degree frostbite, in which limbs are frostbitten down to the bone.

Mail carriers, known for making deliveries through rain, sleet and snow, drew the line at life-threatening cold. The U.S. Postal Service canceled mail service in parts of 11 states Wednesday.  

Meteorologists blamed the weather on a breakup of the polar vortex — cold air above the North Pole that has been pushed south across North America because of a blast of desert heat from North Africa.

Experts said it was possible that climate change was playing a part in the extreme cold. But they said it was hard to pinpoint the cause of a single weather event such as this week’s cold blast.

“It is not out of bounds with the historical record,” University of Miami professor Ben Kirtman said. “You get storms that are bigger than other storms. There is a big part of this that is part of the natural variability of the climate.”

Government scientists said increased moisture in the atmosphere because of global warming might bring on a higher number of severe snowstorms in the winter and more powerful hurricanes in the summer.

This week’s cold weather will be just a memory within a few days. Forecasters predicted chilly but above-freezing temperatures on Sunday and Monday in the Midwest and in the eastern United states.

 

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Pelosi Says Trump Not Paying Heed to Intel Advisers

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says President Donald Trump hasn’t paid attention to warnings from his own administration about threats posed by North Korea, Iran and other countries.

Pelosi says U.S. intelligence officials were “courageous” in speaking “truth to power” by contradicting Trump to Congress.

She says she’s dismayed that, in her words, Trump “just doesn’t seem to have the attention span or the desire to hear what the intelligence community has been telling him.”

Trump lashed out at his intelligence chiefs after they told Congress that North Korea is unlikely to dismantle its nuclear arsenal and that the Iran nuclear deal is working.

Trump tweeted that, “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”

Pelosi calls Trump’s comments “stunning” and suggests that congressional Republicans “have an intervention” with Trump.

 

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US Secretly Shipped Plutonium From South Carolina to Nevada

The U.S. Department of Energy revealed on Wednesday that it secretly shipped weapons-grade plutonium from South Carolina to a nuclear security site in Nevada months ago despite the state’s protests.

The Justice Department notified a federal judge in Reno that the government trucked in the radioactive material to store at the site 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Las Vegas before Nevada first asked a court to block the move in November.

Department lawyers said in a nine-page filing that the previously classified information about the shipment from South Carolina can be disclosed now because enough time has passed to protect national security. They didn’t specify when the one-half metric ton of plutonium was transferred.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak said he’s “beyond outraged by this completely unacceptable deception.” He announced at a hastily called news conference in Carson City late Wednesday the state is now seeking another court order to block any more shipments of plutonium as it pursues “any and all legal remedies,” including contempt of court orders against the federal government.

The newly elected Democrat said he’s exploring options for the plutonium that already has arrived and is working with Nevada’s congressional delegation to fight back against the U.S. government’s “reckless disregard” for the safety of Nevadans.

Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen called the government’s move “deceitful and unethical.” Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, also a Nevada Democrat, said she would demand department officials come to her office on Thursday to explain how they made the “reckless decision” in such “bad faith.”

Democratic Rep. Dina Titus said the Trump administration has repeatedly tried to use Nevada as a dumping ground for nuclear waste. Trump revived a decades-old proposal to store the nation’s nuclear waste at another site outside Las Vegas, Yucca Mountain, after the project was essentially halted under the Obama administration.

Justice Department lawyers said in new court filings Wednesday that no more shipments of weapons-grade plutonium are planned from South Carolina to Nevada. They said they believe Nevada’s lawsuit aimed at blocking the shipments is now moot.

But lawyers for Nevada said late Wednesday that their bid for an emergency injunction is more critical than ever after the Energy Department misled them about the shipments. They say the government has created the “palpable suspicion” that more shipments are coming to Nevada.

Sisolak described the months-long negotiations with Energy Department officials over the plutonium leading up to the new disclosure as a “total sham.”

“They lied to the state of Nevada, misled a federal court, and jeopardized the safety of Nevada’s families and environment,” he said.

U.S. District Judge Miranda Du in Reno already is considering the state’s earlier request to block the Energy Department’s plans — announced in August — to ship a full metric ton of plutonium to Nevada from South Carolina, where a federal judge previously ordered that the plutonium be removed from a Savannah River site by 2020.

Nevada argues the department has failed to adequately study the potential dangers of moving the material that still has the potential to be used to help develop nuclear weapons to an area that is subject to flash floods and earthquakes, and that the state’s lands and groundwater may already be contaminated with radioactive materials.

In January, Du declined to immediately block the plutonium and indicated she wouldn’t rule until February. “I hope the government doesn’t ship plutonium pending a ruling by this court,” she said at the time.

Nevada and the Justice Department filed their latest briefs Wednesday at the request of the judge, who questioned whether the case should go forward. Justice Department lawyers said any additional plutonium removed from South Carolina would not go to Nevada.

Meanwhile, the states of Nevada and South Carolina are continuing to argue over where any legal challenge should be heard. Each said in briefs filed in Reno last week that theirs is the proper venue.

Nevada’s experts testified that the material likely would have to pass directly through Las Vegas on the way to the Nevada National Security Site. They fear an accident could permanently harm an area that is home to 2.2 million residents and hosts more than 40 million tourists a year.

The Energy Department’s plan approved last August called for the full ton of material to be stored at the Nevada nuclear security site and the government’s Pantex Plant in Texas, two facilities that already handle and process plutonium. The department says it would be sent by 2027 to the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico or another unnamed facility.

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