Notes and shorts from around the world
The river lost to climate change
Usually, landscapes change gradually, over millennia – but in 2016, in an event unprecedented in modern times, an immense river in the wilds of north-west Canada disappeared in a matter of weeks. A team of researchers had been monitoring the delta of the Slims River, which is fed by the Kaskawulsh Glacier, for some years. Last spring, they returned to Yukon to take more measurements, and found that the river was more or less gone.
Further investigation of the region, using drones to survey harder to access valleys, revealed that last year's warm spring had produced intense meltwaters which had cut a new channel through the ice of the glacier. As a result, waters that would normally have reached the Slims, and flowed into the vast Kluane Lake and, ultimately, into the Bering Sea, were now being diverted, probably permanently, down the channel to the Alsek River, which flows south to the Pacific. This phenomenon is known as “river piracy,” , and there is geological evidence of its having taken place in the distant past, but it is normally associated with tectonic shifts, or erosion over thousands of years.
Surprise suspect in bus attack
German police say that the Borussia Dortmund bus bombing, widely assumed to have been perpetrated by jihadi terrorists, or neo-fascists, was actually the work of a financial speculator, named only as Sergej W, a 28 year old with dual German-Russian citizenship. They believe his motive was to send the football club's share price plunging so that he could clean up on the complex bets he had made before the attack. The suspect, who was staying in the same hotel as the footballers, overlooking the scene of the bombing, allegedly bought 15,000 'put options' on the club's shares (a financial derivative that allows a speculator to benefit if the price of an asset falls), and stood to make up to €3.9 million in profits. He has been charged with attempted murder, setting off explosions and causing serious physical injury. Two people were wounded in the bombing.
A 58 year old former artillery officer from Belgium has beaten 49 other applicants to become one of Europe's last hermits. Stan Vanuytrecht, a divorced Catholic deacon who has worked with the homeless and drug addicts, was chosen by the town of Saalfelden to occupy its hermitage, which has hosted a hermit ever since its founding 350 years ago. Set on a cliff above the town, it has no heating, running water or internet, but the new hermit cannot expect total solitude. His duties include acting as a sympathetic ear for people who hike up to confide in him.
“In man's struggle against the world, bet on the world.” – Franz Kafka, Czech author
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