2016 is the warmest!

High temperatures in summer are common in Iraq. Growing desertification — where fertile land turns dry — is pushing temperatures up. The Iraqi government has announced yesterday a two-day mandatory official holiday beginning today due to a heat wave as temperatures are soaring above 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

Iraq’s Marshes gets UNESCO recognition

A wetland in southeast Iraq, thought to be the biblical Garden of Eden — the Ahwar of southern Iraq, has now become a UNESCO world heritage site. Fed by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the marshlands of Mesopotamia are spawning grounds for Gulf fisheries and home to bird species such as the sacred ibis. They also provide a resting spot for thousands of wildfowl migrating between Siberia and Africa.

Solstice & Strawberry Moon tonight

Today, the summer solstice and full moon coincide — a rare event, indeed, that hasn’t happened in nearly 70 years, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. It’s a once-in-a-generation pairing: the start of astronomical summer and emergence of the full “Strawberry Moon.” June’s full Strawberry Moon got its name because the native American Algonquin tribes knew it as a signal to gather ripening strawberry fruit.