Daily Archives: June 1, 2011

Statistics show record cool spring for Western Washington

Another “Cool” Spring Stat

ispot.kirotv.com | Jun 1, 2011

It has been quite the cool and wet spring across Western Washington this year.  Here are some of the highlights, or lowlights depending on your weather taste.

Two months ago we experienced the 6th wettest March on record in Seattle.  We followed that up with the coldest April on record at Sea-Tac with an average high temperature of only 52.2 degrees.  After that chilly April, we kept the cool weather going into May.  This year was the second latest arrival of a 70 degree day.  On May 20th we finally hit 70 degrees, the first and only time this year.  The only other time we had to wait longer for a 70 degree day was back in 2003 when it took until May 23rd to hit the mark.

With all these cool spring stats, no pun intended, we might as well add another to the list.  It turns out that May 2011 is the 4th coldest on record at Sea-Tac Airport.  Averaging out the high temperatures last month, we only saw a high of 59.7 degrees.  In a typical year, the average high temperature for May is 64.4 degrees.  The record book at Sea-Tac started over 60 years ago, back in 1948.  A big “thank you” to the National Weather Service forecast office in Seattle for helping me with these statistics.

The next time your family and friends start talking about how gloomy this spring has been; now you have some stats to back up the claim!

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King’s denial of improprieties met with skepticism in Sweden


The royal court’s press secretary Bertil Ternert (L) and Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf give an exclusive interview (AFP/SCANPIX/File, Anders Wiklund)

AFP | May 31, 2011

STOCKHOLM — Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf’s attempt to quash a scandal by rejecting reports he had visited strip clubs and had indirect contact with organised crime was met with skepticism by Swedish media Tuesday.

In a rare, long interview with Swedish news agency TT published late Monday, the 65-year-old king denied a flurry of allegations published in two books and by the media in recent weeks and months, but media reports Tuesday chided him for being too vague and defensive.

“The interview with TT does not make the royal crisis any clearer,” insisted an editorial in Sweden’s paper of reference Dagens Nyheter.

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“If the whole story is simply a case of libel, then why didn’t the king come out and say that last autumn? Why did he instead talk about wanting to ‘move on’?” it asked, referring to the monarch’s reaction after the publication late last year of a tell-all biography about him.

The book, “Carl XVI Gustaf, the Reluctant Monarch,” caused an uproar with its descriptions of his participation in wild parties and an affair with a young woman — allegations he finally denied in Monday’s interview, saying “no” no less than 36 times, according to a count by free daily Metro.

The main author of the book, Thomas Sjoeberg, on Tuesday accused the Sweden’s head of state, who has sat on the throne for 37 years, of lying to his subjects.

“It is uncomfortable for me to see how he so obviously stands there lying to the Swedish people in the face… It’s embarrassing,” Sjoeberg told Dagens Nyheter.

Sven-Erik Oesterberg, a spokesman for the main opposition Social Democrats, meanwhile called for an official probe into the veracity of the king’s comments, insisting that “the problem has not been resolved.”

“A more in-depth investigation is necessary into the information and these rumours because it of course affects the state,” of which the king is the top representative, he said in a statement.

Sweden’s two main tabloids also slammed Carl XVI Gustaf’s interview Tuesday, with Expressen plastering “The king’s terrible defence speech” across its front page, and Aftonbladet handing space to a former mafia member to reiterate his claim he has in his possession pictures of the monarch at a sex club in the same shot as two naked women.

The scandal is the latest blow to Sweden’s royal family which has recently been hit by new revelations of the Nazi past of German-born Queen Silvia’s father and Princess Madeleine’s messy break-off last year of a long engagement.

Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf denies sex clubs, underworld connections


Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf in formal regalia. GETTY IMAGES

Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf on Monday gave a rare interview in an attempt to quash a swelling scandal, flatly rejecting media reports he had visited strip clubs and even had indirect contact with organised crime.

Swedish king denies improprieties as scandal grows

telegraph.co.uk | May 31, 2011

In a long interview with the TT news agency published late on Monday, Sweden’s head of state denied recent reported claims from a former mafia member, Mille Markovic, that he had pictures in his possession showing the king in a sex club in the same shot as two naked women.

“No, it is impossible that they exist,” the king insisted, stressing that “it is also difficult to comment on something one has not seen and no one else has seen either.”

The royal court has demanded that public broadcaster TV4, which in a report two weeks ago about the alleged pictures said a journalist had seen them, show the shots to prove there is any substance to the claims.

The TV4 report and a new book about another shady figure from Sweden’s underworld alleged friends of the king had been willing to pay large sums of money to block the publication of pictures of the monarch in compromising situations.

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One of the king’s childhood friends, Ander Lettstroem, admitted in a statement last week he had contacted people involved with organised crime, but insisted it was purely his own initiative and had nothing to do with Carl XVI Gustaf.

In Monday’s interview, the king reiterated a previous statement that he had no knowledge of Lettstroem’s actions and had nothing to do with his confession.

“That he has been in contact with such people … is not appropriate. That’s something one could wish he had not done, I must say,” he said, adding that “I have distanced myself completely from his actions and thereby also from our acquaintanceship.”

He admitted the scandal had “of course hurt confidence in me, and even confidence in the monarchy and also Sweden.”

“That is something I really regret, but it is something I will fix, and I will work double as hard in the future,” he said.

The latest scandal comes just over six months after a tell-all biography of the king hit the bookstands, causing uproar with its descriptions of his participation in wild parties and affairs with young women.

The allegations also come shortly after the royal court announced the king’s wife, German-born Queen Silvia, had launched a probe into her father’s Nazi past.

When asked about claims in the book he had visited several specific strip clubs, the king on Monday was often on the defensive, responding repeatedly with “No,” and “I have no idea.”

Following the latest allegations, several polls have shown that a majority of Swedes would like the king to soon abdicate and hand over the throne to Crown Princess Victoria, who has long been far more popular than her father.

The king, who reached the official retirement age of 65 last month, reiterated on Monday he has no plans to step aside in favour of his 33-year-old daughter.

“There is a tradition and custom and that is not what is going to happen,” he said.

Prince Philip defends ‘slitty-eyed’ Chinese gaffe


Gaffe … Prince Philip. Photo: AP

SMH | May 31, 2011

In the lead-up to his 90th birthday, Prince Philip – known for his sometimes controversial comments – has defended a “slitty-eyed” gaffe made almost 25 years ago during a trip to China.

The Duke of Edinburgh, husband of Queen Elizabeth and the longest-serving consort of any British monarch, celebrates his birthday on June 10 and has agreed to various interviews to mark the occasion.

While being interviewed for a BBC documentary, Prince Philip was asked about a comment he made while on an official visit to China in October 1986, when he told a group of British students living in the city of Xian: “If you stay here much longer you’ll all be slitty eyed.”

The Duke said the resultant public outcry over his comment was disproportionate, Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on Monday.

“I’d forgotten about it. But for one particular reporter who overheard it, it wouldn’t have come out. What’s more, the Chinese weren’t worried about it, so why should anyone else?”

At the time, the palace refuted the comment, and later tried to explain it as “a matter of … fact”, before finally dismissing it as trivia.

The controversial comment is one of many made by the Prince over the years, including his question to an Aborigine during an Australian visit in 2002: “Do you still throw spears at each other?”.

He told a 1986 meeting of the World Wildlife Fund: “If it has got four legs and it is not a chair, if it has got two wings and it is not an aeroplane, and if it swims and it is not a submarine, the Cantonese will eat it.”

But not all the Duke’s gaffes are racially based, as proven by his comments to children from the British Deaf Association: “If you’re near that music, no wonder you’re deaf.”

The Duke will celebrate his birthday with family and friends during a reception at Windsor Castle on June 12. On June 10, it will be business as usual for the birthday boy, as he attends to a number of official appointments in London.

School punishes boys for playing at soldiers

SMH | May 31, 2011

by Murray Wardrop

A British primary school which disciplined two seven-year-old boys for playing army games has been condemned by parents.

Teachers ruled that the games amounted to “threatening behaviour” and reprimanded the two boys after they were seen making pistol shapes with their fingers.

Teachers broke up the imaginary classroom shoot-out and contacted the youngsters’ parents, warning them that such behaviour would not be tolerated.

Nathaniel Newton Infant School in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, which caters for around 180 pupils aged four to seven, said the gun gestures were “unacceptable” and were not permitted at school.

However, parents have described the reaction as “outrageous”, while family groups warned that “wrapping children in cotton wool” damages their upbringing.

A spokesman for the school said: “Far from stopping children from playing we actively encourage it. However a judgment call has to be made if playing turns into unacceptable behaviour.

“The issue here was about hand gestures being made in the shape of a gun towards members of staff which is understandably unacceptable, particularly in the classroom.”

A father of one of the boys said: “It’s ridiculous. How can you tell a seven-year-old boy he cannot play guns and armies with his friends?

“Another parent was called for the same reason. We were told to reprimand our son for this and to tell him he cannot play guns any more. The teacher said the boys should be reprimanded for threatening behaviour which would not be tolerated at the school.”

The community primary school was rated as “good” overall in an Ofsted report published last year, but was warned that the children ought to have greater freedom to play.

The inspectors praised pupils’ behaviour as “outstanding”, telling them in a letter: “Your behaviour is excellent and you work very well together.”

Parenting groups condemned the school’s reaction to the children’s game of soldiers, warning that it risked causing a rift between the school and parents.

Margaret Morrissey, founder of the family lobby group Parents Outloud, said: “It is madness to try to indoctrinate children aged seven with political correctness in this way.

“Children have played cowboys and Indians like this for generations and it does them absolutely no harm whatsoever. In my experience, it is the children who are banned from playing innocent games like this who then go on to develop a fascination with guns.

“We cannot wrap our children in cotton wool. Allowing them to take a few risks and play games outside is an essential part of growing up.”

The case follows a string of similar incidents in which children’s playtime activities have been curbed by overzealous staff over health and safety concerns.

Earlier this year, a Liverpool school banned youngsters from playing football with anything other than sponge balls amid fears youngsters might get hurt.

Research last month also found that one in six British schools had banned conkers due to concerns of pupils being hit in the face. Games such as leapfrog have also been banned.

Marcus Jones, the Tory MP for Nuneaton, said: “It is quite apparent that the seven-year-olds would be playing an innocent game.

“This is political correctness gone mad. When I was that age that type of game was common place and I don’t remember anyone coming to any harm from it.”

Communists move to quash Mongolian unrest


Protest … a herder holds a ‘‘Peace for the Mongols’’ flag. Photo: AFP

SMH | May 31, 2011

BEIJING: A communist official tipped as a future leader of China is moving to defuse a wave of protests in Inner Mongolia by choking information, tightening campus controls and promising to reform the mining industry.

A demonstration by ethnic Mongolians on Monday in the regional capital, Hohhot, was the latest test for Hu Chunhua, whose appointment as the party chief of the resource-rich region last year was widely seen as a step towards top office in 2020.

Censors have blocked information about the biggest surge of unrest the northern region has experienced in 20 years, with witnesses and rights groups claiming to have seen rallies in at least six communities over the past week.

The protests were sparked by the killing of a Mongolian herder who tried to stop a convoy of coal trucks from trespassing on the grasslands. The case has become a symbol of unease about economic development that is marginalising ethnic rights and the steppe environment.

Locals said the latest protests took place despite tightened security. ”It was about 20 Mongolians in Xinhua Square,” said a blogger, who goes under the name Blue Sky Pigeon. ”But I doubt it will last long because the controls are tight.”

An employee at a hotel on the square confirmed a demonstration was taking place, but it was unclear how the security forces responded. However, the authorities have been working for several days to quash dissent with a mix of restrictions and conciliation.

Since 1000 students took to the streets in Xilinhot last Wednesday, paramilitary police are reportedly stationed at the gates of Inner Mongolia University in Hohhot and checking the identities and intentions of everyone going in and out. In other areas, schools associated with both Mongolian and Han ethnic groups have been subject to restrictions.

The Youth League Committee of Inner Mongolia University declined to discuss the new security measures, but acknowledged the students’ online bulletin board and chatroom had been shut down for ”maintenance” until June 10. Other reports suggest popular social networking sites have been either blocked or heavily censored.

Mr Hu – a protege of President Hu Jintao (though no relation) – has tried to pacify the protesters with a promise of justice for the perpetrators of the killing of the herder – known as Mergen – and another death related to a coalmine protest four days later.

Local TV stations, which are controlled by the communist party, have shown Mr Hu’s deputy visiting Mergen’s family to present a bundle of money. The chairman of the coal trucking company Liaoning Chuncheng Industry has also made a public apology. Police have arrested four people.

But many locals remain suspicious. Mongolian independence activists said conciliatory words could not disguise the long-term trends of resource exploitation that prompted the fatal clash between truckers and herders.

If the protests continue, ”Little Hu” (as the governor is nicknamed) may rely more on coercion and intimidation to impose order on a restless ethnic minority.

Recent mobile phone messages from the Inner Mongolian authorities have warned the police are ready to ”intensify the crackdown”. Monday’s relatively small demonstration, however, suggests Mr Hu’s efforts to silence, intimidate and buy-off critics may be working.

British Columbia suffers through second coldest spring on record

The temperature remained well below seasonal normals

news1130.com | May 31, 2011

by Russ Lacate

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – It has been a long line up at the weather complaints kiosk for the past couple of months, and these numbers verify your suspicions that it has been a miserable spring in the Lower Mainland.

On the heels of an April that was the second coldest of all time the frigid weather continued through May as well.

Ninety-one millimeters of rain makes this month one-third wetter than average, although it falls just outside of the top ten wettest ever.

Of course, the temperature remained well below seasonal normals, averaging just 11.1 degrees each day, making it the sixth coldest May on record.

And when you put them back-to-back, April-May 2011 almost set the standard!

It has been the second coldest spring of all time, just one-tenth of a degree milder than 1955!