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  • Iraq protest tents set ablaze after cleric withdraws support

    Golocal247.com news

    Security forces set fire to anti-government protest tents in the country's south early Saturday and re-opened key public squares in Baghdad that had been occupied by demonstrators for months. The crackdown came hours after a powerful Shiite cleric dealt the protest movement a blow by withdrawing his support, prompting his followers to pack up and leave the demonstration encampments. At least eight people were wounded when security forces fired tear gas in Baghdad's central Khilani Square as clearance operations were underway, medical and security officials said.

    Sat, 25 Jan 2020 04:26:26 -0500
  • 'This is huge': Locust swarms destroy crops in East Africa

    Golocal247.com news

    The hum of millions of locusts on the move is broken by the screams of farmers and the clanging of pots and pans. The worst outbreak of desert locusts in Kenya in 70 years has seen hundreds of millions of the bugs swarm into the East African nation from Somalia and Ethiopia. “Even cows are wondering what is happening," said Ndunda Makanga, who spent hours Friday trying to chase the locusts from his farm.

    Sat, 25 Jan 2020 03:49:17 -0500
  • Earthquake in Eastern Turkey Kills at Least 21 People

    (Bloomberg) -- A magnitude 6.8 earthquake in Turkey’s eastern Elazig province late Friday killed at least 21 people and injured hundreds. About 30 people remain under the rubble of collapsed buildings, the NTV news channel said on Saturday.Four buildings were wrecked in the Elazig city center, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency, or AFAD, said in a statement on its website. Twelve of the hundreds of aftershocks had a magnitude of over 4, AFAD said. The Elazig Airport is operative and communication is back to normal after an initial disruption, according to the agency.The earthquake occurred at 8:55 p.m. local time on Friday at a depth of 6.75 kilometers (4.2 miles) on the East Anatolia Fault Line. Tremors were felt in many cities across the region, Turkish TV outlets reported.In a Twitter post, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he was following the rescue efforts closely. “We’re with our nation, with all our institutions,” Erdogan said.Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Environment & Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum and Health Minister Fahrettin Koca were in Elazig on Saturday to coordinate rescue efforts.Turkey is situated in a seismically active area and is among countries, including China and Iran, that can experience catastrophic earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. In 1999, a 7.5-magnitude quake shook the western Marmara region killing thousands of people and damaging more than 300,000 buildings. Turkish GDP contracted 3.4% that year.(Updates with ministers’ visit in fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Cagan Koc in Istanbul at ckoc2@bloomberg.net;Taylan Bilgic in Istanbul at tbilgic2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Onur Ant at oant@bloomberg.net, Nathan Crooks, Jacqueline MackenzieFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Sat, 25 Jan 2020 03:44:09 -0500
  • Death toll from eastern Turkey earthquake climbs to 21

    Golocal247.com news

    The death toll from a strong earthquake that rocked eastern Turkey climbed to 21 Saturday, with more than 1,000 people injured, emergency officials said. Rescue workers were continuing to search for some 30 people buried under the rubble of collapsed buildings in Elazig province and neighboring Malatya, said Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. “The earthquake was very severe, we desperately ran out (of our home),” Emre Gocer told the state-run Anadolu news agency as he sheltered with his family at a sports hall in the town of Sivrice in Elazig.

    Sat, 25 Jan 2020 02:46:51 -0500
  • 'Give America a fair trial': key takeaways from Democrats' final arguments

    Golocal247.com news

    House managers spent much of Friday anticipating Republican arguments and giving pre-emptive rebuttals of Trump’s defense, which begins SaturdayThe fourth full day of Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in the US Senate has concluded. Here are five key takeaways: The prosecution rests… for nowDemocrats completed the presentation of the case against Trump on Friday evening, after taking almost all of their allotted 24 hours. The lead impeachment manager Adam Schiff ended his presentation with an appeal to senators to show the “moral courage” to invite witnesses to testify.“Give America a fair trial,” Schiff concluded after three marathon days of argument. “She’s worth it.” Defense preview: ‘the president didn’t do anything wrong’Previewing Trump’s defense in a conference call with reporters on Friday, a source working on the president’s legal team said they would roll out a “straightforward” defense on Saturday morning: “the president didn’t do anything wrong.”The Senate was scheduled to convene at 10am Saturday, with Trump’s legal team expected to give an approximately three-hour “overview” of their defense. Defense arguments were to continue on Monday and possibly Tuesday. The silent RepublicansA familiar roster of Republicans spoke to reporters during breaks in the trial to dismiss the Democratic case along various familiar lines: they had seen no new evidence, the Democrats were repeating themselves, the conduct in question is not impeachable.Notably absent from the TV hits, however, were members of a small group of Republican senators who have said they would be open to calling for witnesses at the trial. Their silence left the basic disposition of the trial – and the question of whether it might end next week, or go on much longer – up in the air. Democrats preempt Trump defenseThe House managers spent much of their time Friday anticipating Republican arguments and delivering pre-emptive rebuttals.Schiff skippingly previewed more than a dozen lines of defense mooted by Trump’s team and the president himself – from “read the transcript” to “[Joe] Biden is corrupt” to “Obama did it” – and deftly eviscerated each one.Schiff drew laughter from the Senate when he described how Trump’s legal team would brandish in the president’s defense his statement that he wanted “nothing” from Ukraine – “no quid pro quo”. That line of argument, Schiff japed, would be based on “the well known principle of criminal defense” that when someone denies a crime they didn’t do it.> .@RepAdamSchiff: "I discovered something very significant by 'mocking the president.' That is, for a man who loves to mock others, he does not like to be mocked. Turns out, he's got a pretty thin skin. Who would have thought?" > > Watch -- https://t.co/jMlsQHAmwE pic.twitter.com/NKNtk8VT7G> > — CSPAN (@cspan) January 25, 2020> Good prebuttal> > — Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) January 25, 2020 Concern in the White House?On Friday evening – apropos of nothing? – the official White House account tweeted a monotone statement delivered by Trump in July 2018 after he returned from a disastrous outing to Helsinki in which he stood next to Russian president Vladimir Putin and credited Putin’s assurances that Russia did not hack the 2016 US election.It’s too early to know what the tone of Trump’s defense will be but the archival statement seemed like an early salvo:> President @realDonaldTrump has unequivocally denounced foreign interference in our elections and accepted the conclusions of the intelligence community. pic.twitter.com/lhdHNbvrLv> > — The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 24, 2020

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 22:14:42 -0500
  • Ukraine's Zelensky weathers crises from Trump to downed jet

    Golocal247.com news

    In his first nine months as Ukrainian president, former comedian Volodymyr Zelensky has found himself at the centre of major international crises, including the US impeachment investigation and Iran's downing of a passenger jet. "Fears of his inexperience turned out to be exaggerated," said Oleksiy Melnyk, a foreign policy analyst at the Razumkov Center in Kiev. Polls show most Ukrainians are satisfied with Zelensky's performance.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 20:49:39 -0500
  • Pompeo loses his temper with journalist over Ukraine questions

    Golocal247.com news

    Shouts, glares and unprintable words: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lost his temper at a journalist after she questioned him on the administration's stance on Ukraine, a country at the heart of President Donald Trump's impeachment trial. It began when Pompeo gave an early morning interview to NPR radio. Much of the discussion dealt with Iran, but journalist Mary Louise Kelly closed by asking Pompeo about Ukraine.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 20:18:46 -0500
  • Hong Kong declares virus emergency, 2-week school closure

    Golocal247.com news

    Hong Kong has declared the outbreak of a new virus an emergency and will close primary and secondary schools for two more weeks after the Lunar New Year holiday. City leader Carrie Lam also announced Saturday that trains and flights from the city of Wuhan would be blocked. The outbreak began in Wuhan in central China and has spread to the rest of the country and overseas as people travel for the holiday.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 20:10:22 -0500
  • Trial highlights: Dems cry cover-up, Trump hails activists

    Golocal247.com news

    From the floor of the Senate, Democratic impeachment prosecutors said Friday that President Donald Trump tried to cover up his actions with Ukraine, another reason to remove him from office. A few blocks away, Trump told anti-abortion activists on the National Mall that he proudly stands with them. “Unborn children have never had a stronger defender in the White House,” Trump said as he became the first sitting president to speak at the annual March for Life.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 19:51:48 -0500
  • UN alarm at education crisis: 258 million kids not in school

    The U.N. deputy chief said Friday there is an “alarming” crisis in education, pointing to the 258 million children under the age of 17 who are not going to school — and only 49 percent completing secondary education. In addition, about 770 million adults are illiterate, most of them women, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told the U.N. General Assembly on the International Day of Education.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 19:43:18 -0500
  • Judge OKs classified information status in terrorism case

    A judge in Arkansas has allowed a U.S. government official to help guard against the release of classified information during the upcoming terrorism trial of a Yemeni citizen accused of providing material support to al-Qaida. U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright on Thursday granted the Justice Department's motion to allow a designated classified information security officer to participate in the case.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 19:03:58 -0500
  • Mike Pompeo Blows Up at NPR Reporter: ‘Do You Think Americans Care About Ukraine?’

    Golocal247.com news

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly cursed and shouted at an NPR reporter after she repeatedly confronted him about his handling of the politically charged ouster of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. According to a transcript of the interview between NPR host Mary Louise Kelly and Pompeo, he repeatedly dodged questions on Ukraine and grew increasingly irate after Kelly asked, “Do you owe Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch an apology?” “You know, I agreed to come on your show today to talk about Iran,” Pompeo said before going on to insist, “I  just don’t have anything else to say about that this morning.” When Kelly kept grilling him and noted that some within the State Department had criticized his failure to stand up for Yovanovitch after she was fired amid what she described as a smear campaign orchestrated by President Trump, Pompeo sought to dismiss the criticism as being from “unnamed sources.” But Kelly stopped him: “These are not unnamed sources. This is your senior adviser Michael McKinley, a career foreign service officer with four decades experience,” she said, reminding Pompeo that McKinley had testified on the matter under oath. Declining to comment on McKinley, Pompeo insisted, “I have defended every State Department official,” only to end the interview when Kelly asked him to refer her to any comments he’d made in defense of Yovanovitch. According to NPR, things grew even more heated after the interview had concluded, when Pompeo is said to have “silently glared” at Kelly before leaving the room. She was then reportedly asked to follow him without her recorder, but without any agreement that the following conversation would be off the record. At that point, Pompeo reportedly challenged Kelly to find Ukraine on an unmarked map and asked, “Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?” He reportedly wrapped up the meeting by declaring that “people will hear about this.” Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 18:52:42 -0500
  • Use of 'rescues' by Mexican migration officials criticized

    Golocal247.com news

    For many people who watched the moments when hundreds of Mexican national guardsmen with helmets and riot shields confronted hundreds of migrants who had been resting in the shade after walking all morning, “rescues” didn’t seem to be the right word. Defenders of migrants' rights say rescues typically don’t involve spraying those being rescued with pepper spray.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 18:41:30 -0500
  • AP Exclusive: Feds plan to move Epstein warden to prison job

    Golocal247.com news

    The warden in charge when Jeffrey Epstein ended his life in his jail cell is being moved to a leadership position at another federal correctional facility, putting him back in the field with inmates despite an ongoing investigation into the financier’s death, two people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. The federal Bureau of Prisons is planning to move Lamine N’Diaye to the role at FCI Fort Dix, a low-security prison in Burlington County, New Jersey, the people said. The move comes months after Attorney General William Barr ordered N’Diaye be reassigned to a desk post at the Bureau of Prisons’ regional office in Pennsylvania after Epstein’s death as the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general investigated.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 18:28:52 -0500
  • GOP shows little desire for witnesses ahead of critical vote

    Golocal247.com news

    Republicans in the Senate appear unmoved by the Democratic push for witnesses in President Donald Trump's impeachment trial despite persistent appeals from Rep. Adam Schiff and the other House prosecutors. Over three days of arguments, Democrats warned that the senators will live to regret not delving deeper into Trump's dealings with Ukraine. One of the managers, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, even told them it was “treacherous” to vote against gathering more evidence.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 18:13:27 -0500
  • House is given tape of Trump calling for ambassador's ouster

    Golocal247.com news

    An associate of Rudy Giuliani has provided congressional investigators with a recording of President Donald Trump saying he wanted to get rid of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, whose ouster emerged as an issue in the president’s impeachment, his attorney told The Associated Press on Friday. The Giuliani associate, Lev Parnas, attended a small dinner with Trump at his Washington hotel in April 2018. Joseph Bondy, Parnas’ lawyer, said he turned over to the House Intelligence Committee a recording from the dinner in which Trump demands the removal of Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 17:36:37 -0500
  • Your Evening Briefing

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every afternoon? Sign up here A recording appears to show President Donald Trump saying he wanted Marie Yovanovitch removed as ambassador to Ukraine, ABC News reported without providing the audio. “Get rid of her,” a voice that appears to be Trump’s is heard saying, ABC said. “Get her out tomorrow. I don’t care. Get her out tomorrow. Take her out. OK? Do it.” If accurate, the recording backs up testimony in the House impeachment hearings that Trump had Yovanovitch removed because she was viewed as an obstacle to his efforts to press Ukraine into investigating former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. She was recalled in May 2019. Bloomberg’s Green Daily is where climate science meets the future of energy, technology and finance. Sign up for our daily newsletter to get the smartest takes from our team of 10 climate columnists. Sign up here.Here are today’s top storiesHouse managers will wrap up their case against Trump Friday, completing three days of arguments in his Senate trial. Democratic Representative Adam Schiff drew plaudits from both sides of the aisle for his performance. Trump’s lawyers are to begin his defense on Saturday.U.S. health authorities are monitoring more than 60 people, including three in New York, for potential infection with the coronavirus. China, meanwhile, is struggling to contain rising public anger over its response to the outbreak as it restricts travel for 40 million people during a major holiday.Cities and states across America are using the courts to force energy companies to address the damage done by fossil fuels. But making Big Oil pay for climate change may be impossible.The Pentagon disclosed on Friday that 34 U.S. service members suffered traumatic brain injury in Iran’s missile strike this month, made in response to the U.S. assassination of its top general. Trump initially said no Americans were harmed. Goldman Sachs announced this week it won’t take a company public if the board is made up entirely of straight, white men (unless the company is in Asia).Can rodents be chic? Fashion labels trying to cash in on the coming Lunar New Year have a difficult task in 2020: It’s the Year of the Rat.What’s Luke Kawa thinking about? The Bloomberg cross-asset reporter says the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield is on track for its biggest one-week drop since November. However, it’s difficult to make the case that the retreat in yields is sending a meaningful signal about the economic backdrop. There are plenty of potential non-economic reasons for the strong start to the year for sovereign debt, he says. So while the bond market may be in a a tizzy, the Fed is still holding course, possibly because stocks aren’t far from last week’s all-time highs.What you’ll need to know tomorrowSalesforce encouraged employees to expense co-CEO's book. Soros to start $1 billion school to fight nationalists, climate change. Walmart is testing a higher minimum wage for certain jobs.  Former Wells Fargo CEO walked away with more than $80 million. Elizabeth Holmes is defending herself in an Arizona fraud lawsuit. You can now use your AmEx at as many places as your Visa card.  More and more NYC storefronts are empty as even banks disappear.What you’ll want to read tonightBoeing’s newest plane is expected to spread its gargantuan wings—so long that the tips are hinged—and rumble into the skies over Washington state in the next few days. The 777-9 is the planemaker’s first new model since two fatal crashes killed 346 people, leading to the global grounding of its 737 Max (which the federal government said was making strides towards returning to service). The new aircraft may face heightened scrutiny from regulators, airlines and investors. Safety aside, there’s concern that the jetliner is simply too big for today’s airlines.To contact the author of this story: Josh Petri in Portland at jpetri4@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 17:00:36 -0500
  • At least 18 dead, hundreds injured after powerful earthquake felt through Middle East strikes Turkey

    Golocal247.com news

    An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.7 struck the eastern Elazığ province in Turkey Friday evening, collapsing buildings and killing at least 18 people according to Reuters.The earthquake struck at 8:55 p.m. local time with a depth of 4.2 miles (6.7 km), Turkey's Disaster and Emergency Management Authority said. After the initial quake, several aftershocks followed ranging from magnitude 5.4 to 3.3. Although the quake rocked eastern Turkey, the U.S. Geological Survey has recorded reports from people who felt the earthquake from southern Georgia to western Iran to northern Israel. Rescue workers search on a collapsed building after a 6.8 earthquake struck Sivrice town in Elazig in eastern Turkey, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 rocked eastern Turkey on Friday, causing some buildings to collapse and killing at least 14 people, Turkish officials said.(IHA via AP) Videos and photos across social media platforms show five-story buildings collapsed into piles of rubble and emergency responders in the streets in Elazig province. At least 13 people were killed in Elazığ province, and there were five more fatalities in the neighboring province of Malatya, according to Reuters.More than 500 people have been injured with several dozen missing."We are hoping we will not have more casualties," Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told the Anadolu news agency.Soylu described the earthquake as a "Level 3" incident, according to the country's emergency response plan, Reuters said. At this level, the incident calls for a national response but doesn't require international help. People look at a collapsed building after a 6.8 earthquake struck Elazig city centre in the eastern Turkey, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8 rocked eastern Turkey on Friday, causing some buildings to collapse and killing at least four people, Turkish officials said. (IHA via AP) Rescuers were trying to reach survivors of a collapsed building in Maden, Turkey, Soylu told NTV television. One person has been rescued. In the town of Sivrice, four or five buildings have collapsed and two people were hurt.As cleanup and rescue efforts continue, The New York Times reports that village chiefs in the affected areas reported extensive damage and people could be left homeless."The next few days are expected to be dry and mainly clear with highs reaching the mid-30s F (1-2 C) Saturday but then getting into the lower to middle 40s F (4-8 C) Sunday and Monday," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist John Gresiak said. "Nights will still be cold. The next chance for precipitation, both rain and snow, may be on Tuesday."Ankara Mayor Masur Yavaş tweeted on Friday that emergency staff was ready to move to Elazığ if needed and they were in contact with the authorities.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 16:49:37 -0500
  • Pompeo to visit UK ahead of Brexit, then to Ukraine

    Golocal247.com news

    Pompeo arrives in London on Wednesday, meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to "discuss ways to broaden and deepen trade ties" after Brexit at the end of the month, the State Department said. Johnson is cultivating Britain's relations with Washington in a bid to offset the potential damage of withdrawal from the EU.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 15:50:35 -0500
  • Opioid victims can begin filing claims against Purdue Pharma

    Golocal247.com news

    State and local governments have been leading the legal fight against the opioid industry, seeking payouts to help them deal with the fallout from the nation's addiction crisis. On Friday, the federal judge overseeing the bankruptcy case of Purdue Pharma set a June 30 deadline to file a claim against the company. Purdue reached an agreement with some states and local governments that could be worth more than $10 billion over time as part of its bankruptcy filing.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 15:50:21 -0500
  • AP FACT CHECK: Trump's false assurance about troops in Iraq

    Golocal247.com news

    At first, President Donald Trump stated inaccurately that no U.S. troops were injured in the Iranian missile attack against them in Iraq. On Friday, the Pentagon said that in fact, 34 troops suffered traumatic brain injuries in the attack and half remain under medical observation in Germany or back in the U.S. more than two weeks later.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 15:33:06 -0500
  • Swiss Probe Metal Trader Over Congo-War Allegations

    Golocal247.com news

    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up to our Next Africa newsletter and follow Bloomberg Africa on TwitterSwiss prosecutors are investigating a trader of one of the world’s most sought-after-minerals over allegations he illegally dealt in metals during the Democratic Republic of Congo’s civil war.It’s the first time the Swiss authorities have confirmed a probe that began in March 2018 into the illegal trade of minerals in Congo during the conflict.The Swiss are scrutinizing earlier allegations that the trader, Christoph Huber, was involved in the illegal trade of minerals during the Congo conflict two decades ago, according to a letter sent by the Swiss attorney general’s office to the United Nations Security Council in May 2018 and seen by Bloomberg. A spokesman for the AG’s office confirmed by email the existence of an investigation in the context of the illicit commerce of minerals in Congo during the war.Two non-governmental organizations -- TRIAL International and the Open Society Justice Initiative -- filed a criminal complaint against Huber to the AG’s office in late 2016, the groups said.Huber, a Swiss national based in South Africa, didn’t respond to multiple emails and calls requesting comment. He hasn’t commented publicly on the allegations or the ongoing investigation and hasn’t been charged with anything.The prosecutor’s office can’t predict the outcome of the probe, a spokeswoman said in an emailed response to questions on Nov. 28.Congo was torn apart from 1998 to 2003, when Rwanda and Uganda backed different rebel groups in efforts to depose the nation’s government. United Nations investigations found that the invading armies profited from the illicit extraction and sale of Congo’s coltan, diamonds, gold and other minerals during the war, in which millions of people died.UN InvestigationA 2009 investigation by the UN states that Huber was “involved in the large-scale transport of coltan out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda” when RCD-Goma, a Rwanda-backed armed group, occupied much of eastern Congo during the war. The rebel administration also authorized a contract struck by one of Huber’s companies for Congolese cassiterite concessions, according to a decree signed by the militia in March 2001 and submitted to the prosecutor by Geneva-based TRIAL and the New York-headquartered OSJI.Tantalum, extracted from coltan ore, is a key component of everyday electronic devices like smartphones and laptops, while tin comes from cassiterite.About a decade ago, concerns that some traders were operating in an unregulated industry and bankrolling militias and national armies in central Africa’s Great Lakes region -- which by then had become the origin of most of the world’s coltan -- helped spawn the Dodd-Frank Act in the U.S., the largest consumer of tantalum products. The law and other initiatives sought to ensure that the trade in tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold should no longer contribute to the cycle of violence in eastern Congo, where hundreds of militias continue to terrorize the local population.TRIAL and the OSJI filed a criminal complaint against Huber with the Swiss Prosecutor’s Office along with “numerous pieces of first-hand evidence” in November 2016, the groups said in a joint statement. TRIAL and OSJI uncovered evidence of Huber’s “direct business relationship” with RCD-Goma, they said.“The Swiss are to be applauded for taking on the hard work of pursuing this complex and important case,” the groups said.(Corrects first deck headline and sourcing in second paragraph of story originally published Dec. 12 to show information was obtained from a letter sent by the Swiss attorney general’s office to the UN, and corrects wording in paragraph after UN Investigation sub-headline to more accurately reflect the statement in the UN report.)To contact the reporter on this story: William Clowes in Abuja at wclowes@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Osae-Brown at aosaebrown2@bloomberg.net, Paul RichardsonFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 15:05:00 -0500
  • 4 aid workers for French charity disappear in Baghdad

    The charity, SOS Chrétiens d'Orient, said the four — three French citizens and an Iraqi — failed to show up for a scheduled meeting Tuesday afternoon and have not been heard from since. All four had prior experience in crisis zones and were staying at a hotel that regularly hosts international guests. The four went missing during a time of heightened tensions in Iraq after a U.S. drone strike on Baghdad airport that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and a senior Iraqi militia commander, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 14:49:45 -0500
  • Sudan government signs initial peace deal with rebel group

    Golocal247.com news

    Sudan's transitional government Friday signed a preliminary peace deal with one of several rebel groups that had fought the government of ousted authoritarian president Omar al-Bashir for years. Deputy chief of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Gen. Mohammed Hamadan Dagalo, signed the agreement along with Malik Agar, head of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, a rebel group active in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 14:30:38 -0500
  • Why One Event in History Tells us a U.S.-Iran War Can Still Happen

    Golocal247.com news

    Now that Iran has confessed to shooting down Ukrainian International Airlines 752 (PS752), could the tragedy present an opportunity to de-escalate its conflict with the United States which, just recently, threatened to combust into a major regional conflagration?

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 14:00:00 -0500
  • Iran war vote and top-secret brief scheduled in Congress, despite impeachment

    Golocal247.com news

    Washington is taking action next week in the face of a possible war with Iran.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 13:56:03 -0500
  • Pentagon: 34 US troops had brain injuries from Iran's strike

    Golocal247.com news

    The Pentagon said Friday that 34 U.S. troops were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries suffered in this month's Iranian missile strike on an Iraqi air base, and that half of the troops have returned to their military duties. Seventeen of the 34 are still under medical observation, according to Jonathan Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman. President Donald Trump had initially said he was told that no troops had been injured in the Jan. 8 strike.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 13:29:47 -0500
  • At least 18 dead, hundreds hurt as quake hits eastern Turkey

    Golocal247.com news

    A 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked a sparsely-populated part of eastern Turkey on Friday, killing at least 18 people, injuring more than 500 and leaving some 30 trapped in the wreckage of toppled buildings, Turkish officials said. Rescue teams from neighboring provinces were dispatched to the affected areas, working in the dark with floodlights in the freezing cold, and Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said troops were on standby to help. TV footage showed rescuers pull out one injured person from the rubble of a collapsed building in the district of Gezin, in the eastern Elazig province.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 13:19:15 -0500
  • 34 service members suffered traumatic brain injuries in the Iranian strikes. Trump called them 'headaches.'

    Golocal247.com news

    The Pentagon has confirmed more than 30 U.S. service members suffered traumatic brain injuries after the recent Iranian missile strike, days after President Trump downplayed these injuries as "not very serious."A Pentagon spokesperson said Friday that 34 service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries after Iran's missile attack on Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops earlier this month, which was a response to an airstrike authorized by President Trump that killed Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, CNN reports. Although Trump initially said in an address that "no Americans were harmed" in the attack, it was later reported that 11 Americans were injured and were being treated for concussion symptoms.Asked about this discrepancy earlier this week, Trump downplayed the seriousness of the injuries, saying, "I heard that they had headaches, and a couple of other things, but I would say, and I can report, it is not very serious," The Hill reports. He went on to say, "I don't consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I've seen ... I do not consider that to be bad injuries, no."The New York Times' Maggie Haberman noted Friday, "Government officials have spent years trying to make people take these injuries seriously, and not dismiss them as minor."More stories from theweek.com Trump debuts official Space Force logo — and it's literally a ripoff of Star Trek 14 dead, hundreds injured after 6.7 earthquake in eastern Turkey Donald Trump and the moral decline of the pro-life movement

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 13:00:00 -0500
  • Pompeo to head to UK ahead of Brexit, then to Ukraine

    Golocal247.com news

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will head to Britain next week to reaffirm the US "special relationship" with the country ahead of its exit from the European Union, the State Department announced Friday. Pompeo will travel to London on January 29, meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to "discuss ways to broaden and deepen trade ties" after Brexit at the end of the month. From there he will head on to Ukraine -- the country at the heart of the ongoing impeachment trial of President Donald Trump who is accused of pressuring his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate a White House rival.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 12:30:17 -0500
  • The United States' main allies are abandoning Trump after his 'dangerous escalation' with Iran

    Golocal247.com news

    The United States' allies are abandoning Trump after his "dangerous" attack against Iran.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 11:51:00 -0500
  • Frailty of Libya Accord on Display In Merkel-Erdogan Squabble

    (Bloomberg) -- Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted a five-day-old agreement to halt fighting in Libya as he squabbled with Chancellor Angela Merkel in public over the viability of the accord.One of the two main Libyan combatants, Khalifa Haftar has failed to commit to a truce and should be shunned by leaders who gathered in Berlin last Sunday to work toward a more durable cease-fire in the North African country’s civil war, Erdogan said.“It’s hard to understand how some countries recognize Haftar,” the Turkish leader told journalists in Istanbul on Friday alongside Merkel, who came for talks.The frailty of the Berlin commitment was also on display as the two leaders bickered over Haftar’s refusal to officially sign an ceasefire agreement.Merkel acknowledged there had been “individual” violations of the truce in recent days, but said violence overall “has significantly dropped.”Erdogan chimed in, saying Haftar hadn’t signed anything, but only verbally accepted a truce, which isn’t “full acceptance.” Merkel rebutted, citing the verbal commitment and an agreement to put forward five names for a committee to hash out the terms of a more permanent cease-fire.“Madame Chancellor, it’s accepted but not signed, I want to make that clear,” Erdogan responded.“I think we misunderstand each other a bit,” Merkel said, agreeing that there was no signing. “You’re right.”Read More:Erdogan’s Libya Gamble Turns Mediterranean Into Sea of TroublesEurope Mulls Military Mission in Libya, Amid Oil Disruption (1)Warring Libya Factions Agree to Set Up Cease-Fire Committee (3)The parrying between the two leaders illustrates the difficulty of resolving the proxy war, which has seen Turkey and Russia back opposing parties in the struggle and outside nations squabble over energy interests. The Libya conflict has raged for years, killing thousands and disrupting the country’s oil output.Haftar, who has led a months-long march on the capital Tripoli, and Libya’s internationally recognized Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, backed by Erdogan, variously agreed to a truce and pledged to put forward names to secure a more lasting cease-fire.“We won’t leave Sarraj alone,” Erdogan said.\--With assistance from Arne Delfs.To contact the reporters on this story: Patrick Donahue in Istanbul at pdonahue1@bloomberg.net;Firat Kozok in Istanbul at fkozok@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ben Sills at bsills@bloomberg.net, Raymond ColittFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 11:50:36 -0500
  • Pompeo heads to Ukraine next week to meet with president

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    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Ukraine next week, making his first trip to the country at the heart of President Donald Trump's impeachment. As Trump's Senate trial on impeachment charges continues, the State Department announced Friday that Pompeo would travel to Kyiv as part of a five-nation tour of Europe and Central Asia. Since November, Pompeo has twice canceled plans to visit Ukraine, most recently just after the New Year when developments with Iran forced him to postpone the trip.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 11:40:59 -0500
  • A Deadly Coronavirus Is Spreading In China, But What Exactly Is It?

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    Update: On Friday, a Chicago woman became the second person in U.S. confirmed with coronavirus. This comes shortly after the the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tuesday confirmation of the first U.S. case of coronavirus in Everett, Washington. Officials are compiling lists of people both have been in contact with. In the past week, Chinese officials have taken measures like shutting down public transportation options to prevent the spread of coronavirus across the nation.This story was originally published on Tuesday, January 21, at 11 a.m.On Monday, the Chinese government confirmed human-to-human transmission of a new coronavirus, raising the likelihood that it could spread quickly and widely as the Lunar New Year begins. Authorities in China announced a considerable increase in the number of confirmed cases of the potentially fatal respiratory virus to more than 300 ahead of the highest traffic travel season in the country. So far, six people have died from coronavirus, a number which doubled just in the last two days. Thailand and Japan have each identified three cases that can be linked to recent travel from China and South Korea confirmed its first case on Monday, too.But, coronavirus was identified in China last month and monitored closely. On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization office in China was informed of cases of pneumonia with an unknown cause in Wuhan. Then, on January 7, Chinese authorities identified a novel coronavirus and WHO published interim medical guidance to prepare countries for the virus. This included best practices for monitoring patients, treatment, and controlling the outbreak by educating the public.“The recent outbreak of novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan and other places must be taken seriously,” President Xi Jinping said in a public statement. “Party committees, governments and relevant departments at all levels should put people’s lives and health first.” The World Health Organization announced an emergency committee meeting that will be held on Wednesday to determine whether the outbreak is to be considered a global health crisis warranting an internationally coordinated response. In the past, declarations of this kind have been used for epidemics of severe illness threatening to become pandemics as they cross international borders.As the virus continues to spread, many are wondering the exact nature of coronavirus, what it entails, and where it all started. We’ve outlined those answers below. What is the coronavirus?Coronavirus is a catch-all term for viral types of pneumonia and respiratory viruses ranging from iterations of the common cold to MERS and SARS. They are common among animals; however, on rare occasions, they become zoonotic, meaning that they can be transmitted from animals to humans. The World Health Organization says symptoms of this virus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. In serious cases, certain strains of coronavirus can lead to pneumonia, kidney failure, and death. According to the Center for Disease Control, there are currently no vaccines to prevent people from contracting a coronavirus. There is also no treatment. Most people with common human coronaviruses will recover on their own. More dangerous strains such as SARS and MERS have 11% and 35% fatality rates, respectively.But, hundreds of people came into close contact with diagnosed patients and did not get sick leading China’s municipal health commission to believe that while the virus is contagious, it is not easily transmitted between humans. Where did the coronavirus in China start spreading?According to the Associated Press, the outbreak was traced back to people connected to a seafood market in Wuhan — a city in central China — late last month. Experts are concerned that the virus will spread more rapidly as people around the country travel for the Lunar New Year which begins January 25 with celebrations continuing through February 8. Annually, Lunar New Year amounts to one of the largest movements of people in the world and travel advisories are now recommended throughout China as a result. Has coronavirus ever spread in the past?Previous severe outbreaks of a deadly strain of coronavirus include Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002 and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in 2013. Currently, the new coronavirus appears to be less severe than either of these outbreaks, reports Healthline. The WHO and CDC are working together to manage the outbreak of this coronavirus. The CDC developed a test to diagnose the virus and is in the process of sharing this test internationally. Travel advisories and screenings at airports have also been issued.Related Content:Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?What The Color Of Your Mucus Really MeansThe Most Common STIs Of 2019 & How To Treat ThemWhat To Know About The Coachella Herpes Outbreaks

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 10:56:54 -0500
  • Damaged By Drone Strike: Suleimani's Sainthood Is Now Being Questioned

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    Iran’s brand is thinning among the Shi’a and Suleimani’s departure creates breathing room for the Shi’a in the region.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 10:52:00 -0500
  • Germany and Turkey call for lasting Libya ceasefire

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    Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Friday for the fragile truce in Libya to be turned into a lasting ceasefire, during a visit by the German leader to Istanbul. Erdogan warned the conflict in Libya risked "chaos (that) will affect all the Mediterranean basin". "Efforts need to be made to turn the fragile truce into a solid and permanent ceasefire," Merkel said at a joint press conference.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 10:49:47 -0500
  • Chicago woman is 2nd US patient with new virus from China

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    A Chicago woman has become the second U.S. patient diagnosed with the dangerous new virus from China, health officials announced Friday. The woman in her 60s returned from China on Jan. 13 without showing any signs of illness, but three or four days later she called her doctor to report feeling sick. The patient is doing well and remains hospitalized “primarily for infection control,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago's public health commissioner.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 10:44:59 -0500
  • EU calls Iran nuclear talks next month in bid to save deal

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    Brussels made a bid to buy more time to save the Iran nuclear deal Friday, calling a meeting for next month after Britain, France and Germany launched a dispute process. The European capitals triggered the complaint mechanism last week after Tehran took a series of steps away from its commitments, in protest at the US pulling out of the accord in 2018. This could have shortened the deal's lifespan but Josep Borrell, the EU's diplomatic chief, who is tasked with convening meetings under the dispute mechanism, has called new talks.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 10:22:36 -0500
  • The EU produced these maps showing where Brexit customs checks will take place after Boris Johnson claimed there wouldn't be any

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    Boris Johnson claimed there won't be any new customs checks after Brexit, so the EU produced maps showing where they will be.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 09:53:56 -0500
  • Iraq Has Lots of Protesters, and a Government on Autopilot

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- How many people responded today to Moqtada al-Sadr’s call for demonstrations against the U.S. military presence in Iraq? Did they, or did they not, come out in the “millions” he wanted? What is certain is that the crowds in Baghdad were substantial, and highly disciplined — in contrast to the mobs gathered by Iranian-backed militias to attack the U.S. embassy on New Year’s Eve.No one doubts the ability of Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric-politician, to rouse a rabble with anti-American rhetoric; in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, his word was sufficient for thousands of incensed — and ill-equipped — young men to hurl themselves against U.S. forces, with predictable consequences. More recently, his formidable voting block of supporters has made him the country’s second-most powerful politician, only slightly behind Tehran’s main man in Baghdad, Hadi al-Amiri.But Sadr has yet to demonstrate the capacity to deploy his political clout in any meaningful service of his supporters — to address their economic grievances.On the contrary, he has contributed to their plight: His political party is complicit in the corruption, incompetence and sectarianism of successive coalition governments in Baghdad. Ministries run by Sadr’s nominees — like health and transportation — were especially notorious in the early, defining years of Iraqi democracy.This failure makes his recent reinvention as an anti-graft crusader as credible as his highly questionable credentials as a religious scholar. Until recently, he benefited from the lack of any other political outlet for disaffected Iraqis, especially among the majority Shiites; if anything, his rivals were even more discredited among that cohort. But the protests that have wracked Iraqi cities since last fall indicate a growing plague-on-all-your-houses sensibility. That many protesters appear to be young Shiites is especially worrying for Sadr. They should be his constituency, but instead have grown disenchanted with his promises of change.His demonstration of clout today will not have reassured them. For one thing, the anti-American focus of his message is too narrow: Those in the streets have been protesting against all foreign meddlers, including Iran. Sadr, on the other hand, is ambivalent about the Islamic Republic, paying obeisance to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei even as he occasionally aims rhetorical jibes against Khamenei’s regime and its proxies in Iraq.For another, Sadr’s rallies did not address the protesters’ main demands for political reforms, clean government and better services. He has merely talked a good game about supporting these aspirations. Never mind better government, Iraq has very little government at all. Weeks after the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, Iraq is essentially running on autopilot — mainly because Sadr and Amiri can’t agree on who should get the job.Among other things left in limbo has been the question of the U.S. military presence. Two weeks have passed since the Iraqi parliament’s non-binding resolution calling for American troops to be expelled, but any negotiations toward that outcome will require a new prime minister in place. If Sadr can’t make that happen, his rallies will have had no meaningful consequence beyond stealing the limelight from the protests.And not for long. The protesters may have ceded center stage today, but they are determined to reclaim the public square in the weeks ahead. If that happens, any discussion of how many people Sadr brought into the street will be strictly academic.To contact the author of this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gibney at jgibney5@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Bobby Ghosh is a columnist and member of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 09:33:40 -0500
  • Iraq Has Lots of Protesters, and a Government on Autopilot

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- How many people responded today to Moqtada al-Sadr’s call for demonstrations against the U.S. military presence in Iraq? Did they, or did they not, come out in the “millions” he wanted? What is certain is that the crowds in Baghdad were substantial, and highly disciplined — in contrast to the mobs gathered by Iranian-backed militias to attack the U.S. embassy on New Year’s Eve.No one doubts the ability of Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric-politician, to rouse a rabble with anti-American rhetoric; in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, his word was sufficient for thousands of incensed — and ill-equipped — young men to hurl themselves against U.S. forces, with predictable consequences. More recently, his formidable voting block of supporters has made him the country’s second-most powerful politician, only slightly behind Tehran’s main man in Baghdad, Hadi al-Amiri.But Sadr has yet to demonstrate the capacity to deploy his political clout in any meaningful service of his supporters — to address their economic grievances.On the contrary, he has contributed to their plight: His political party is complicit in the corruption, incompetence and sectarianism of successive coalition governments in Baghdad. Ministries run by Sadr’s nominees — like health and transportation — were especially notorious in the early, defining years of Iraqi democracy.This failure makes his recent reinvention as an anti-graft crusader as credible as his highly questionable credentials as a religious scholar. Until recently, he benefited from the lack of any other political outlet for disaffected Iraqis, especially among the majority Shiites; if anything, his rivals were even more discredited among that cohort. But the protests that have wracked Iraqi cities since last fall indicate a growing plague-on-all-your-houses sensibility. That many protesters appear to be young Shiites is especially worrying for Sadr. They should be his constituency, but instead have grown disenchanted with his promises of change.His demonstration of clout today will not have reassured them. For one thing, the anti-American focus of his message is too narrow: Those in the streets have been protesting against all foreign meddlers, including Iran. Sadr, on the other hand, is ambivalent about the Islamic Republic, paying obeisance to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei even as he occasionally aims rhetorical jibes against Khamenei’s regime and its proxies in Iraq.For another, Sadr’s rallies did not address the protesters’ main demands for political reforms, clean government and better services. He has merely talked a good game about supporting these aspirations. Never mind better government, Iraq has very little government at all. Weeks after the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, Iraq is essentially running on autopilot — mainly because Sadr and Amiri can’t agree on who should get the job.Among other things left in limbo has been the question of the U.S. military presence. Two weeks have passed since the Iraqi parliament’s non-binding resolution calling for American troops to be expelled, but any negotiations toward that outcome will require a new prime minister in place. If Sadr can’t make that happen, his rallies will have had no meaningful consequence beyond stealing the limelight from the protests.And not for long. The protesters may have ceded center stage today, but they are determined to reclaim the public square in the weeks ahead. If that happens, any discussion of how many people Sadr brought into the street will be strictly academic.To contact the author of this story: Bobby Ghosh at aghosh73@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gibney at jgibney5@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Bobby Ghosh is a columnist and member of the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board. He writes on foreign affairs, with a special focus on the Middle East and the wider Islamic world.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 09:33:40 -0500
  • Latin America’s Trash Brims with Hidden Cash

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Late one evening last week, my phone lit up. “Gather all our jars and bottles and fill them up,” my wife messaged me. “If we wait until the contaminated water comes, it’ll be too late.” Ok, so I confess was skeptical. I live in Rio de Janeiro, an excitable town where emergency lurks in every WhatsApp group and Twitter feed.This was different, as I soon found. Tales of tainted water spreading through the city’s pipes were multiplying. Hundreds of people had reportedly fallen sick from drinking the dark, fetid stuff. In two weeks, more than 60 Rio neighborhoods were blighted, triggering a run on emergency rooms, bottled water and conspiracy theories. “I suspect sabotage,” Rio state governor Wilson Witzel said.Political hubris was the more likely culprit. For years, state and local authorities grooming the city ahead of international events such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic games had heralded transformative public works that either fell short or never happened. Half a decade on, raw sewage and untreated solid waste flow unchecked into the streams feeding the municipal reservoir, giving rise to toxic algae blooms in the potable water source for nine million people. Brazil’s second largest metropolis ranks 51st in water quality nationwide, down 12 places from 2018. Fewer than 37% of households are connected to sewage mains, prompting the state attorney’s office to file suit against state authorities.Forget, for a moment, the conflagration in the Amazon rain forest. Rio’s blighted tap water is a reminder that, for much of Latin America, the environmental monster in the room is mismanaged urban waste. Organic or solid, domestic or industrial, human refuse chokes city streets and fouls urban waterways.The emergency this time was in Rio, but it might have been in Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires or Bogotá. Latin America is the world’s most urbanized region, with 83% of South Americans living in cities. As cities go, so goes trash.  By 2025, Latin America’s projected 567 million city dwellers are expected to throw out 671,000 tons of trash a day, a 25% increase. “The Latin American middle classes have grown and are consuming more and more,” said Marcos Alegre, Peru’s former vice minister for environmental management. “Waste per capita is growing as never before.”Fortunately, where there’s waste, there’s also opportunity. Latin Americans, belatedly, seem to be catching on. In January 2018, China, once the world’s dumpster, banned imports of most plastics and cardboard. Environmental degradation was one reason, but mostly the move was calculated to wean Chinese industry from imported scrap and jump-start domestic recycling. It also helped to wean Latin America from the world’s biggest scrap buyer. Nothing like losing the world’s janitor to goose greener sensibilities and start a global drive to repurpose trash.A 2018 UN study showed that Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Peru shipped 60,000 tons of used plastic a year to China, compared with just 11,000 tons to the U.S. Not coincidentally, all these countries have extremely low recycling rates. Now China’s new import restrictions may send refuse the other way.Argentina took the lead in the Americas: Late last year, outgoing President Mauricio Macri issued a ruling to facilitate imports of plastic scrap that will feed a nascent recycling hub. It was a bold plan: Argentina, like most of its neighbors, has a dismal record in managing its refuse. Green groups howled that Argentina would become the next China, the country flooded with low-grade plastic that would only end up in the incinerator. With Macri voted out of office for failing to revive the economy, incoming President Alberto Fernandez is expected to revoke the decree.Argentina’s false start is a caveat for willful technocrats banking on innovation without a political pact or safeguards. “The decree was a promising example of what could be a policy of sustainable management,” said former Argentine secretary for innovation and sustainability Prem Zalzman. “But first we need to establish a social consensus while also ensuring that good monitoring and enforcement are in place to avoid importing dangerous materials.”Latin Americans neglect recycling at their own peril. The region has a laudable 94% average collection rate for household and industrial garbage. Yet a third of the haul ends up in open dumpsites, exposing 170 million to contamination, pests and disease. Only about 10% of collected waste gets recycled region wide, and much of the rest goes up in smoke. “For every four tons of toxic waste you burn, you get a ton of toxic ash,” said Melissa MacEwen, who heads the energy, environment and resources department at Chatham House.The way forward is a mix of smarter government, environmental education and partnerships with the private sector. A number of initiatives are under way. In Guayaquil, Ecuador, mass transit users can deposit their used plastic bottles in a vending machine for about two cents each, redeemable for bus fare. Since the 1980’s, Curitiba, one of Brazil’s greenest cities, has swapped food for garbage to keep the streets clean. One Argentine town has even experimented with behavioral incentives – pep talks and inspirational messages – to encourage residents to sort household trash for recycling.Cleaner cities also call for some conceptual recycling. Urban waste collection and disposal are costly, and although most people agree that burden should be shared, they are often loath to shell out for the service they believe general taxes ought to cover. In Argentina, the fees and tariffs residents pay for collection cover only 18% of total expenditures. Such shortfalls, naturally, jeopardize collection, proper disposal and recycling. Hence it’s no mystery that aside from major metropolises like Buenos Aires, Santiago and Sao Paulo, “there is no infrastructure for waste treatment and recovery,” the United Nations Environment Program concluded in a recent study.Greening up waste management is a job for many partners. Governments must invest in collection, transport and treatment. Residents must help foot the bill. The legion of freelance trash pickers who serve the public good on the cheap by scouring the streets for scrap should be invited into the formal economy and allowed to do their job in safety. None of this will work, however, unless the private sector pitches in and gets creative.  To that end, policymakers are calling on companies to join in a pact to keep discarded materials from dirtying the streets and atmosphere. The result is what international waste wonks call the Extended Producer Agreement, whereby businesses shoulder the responsibility for handling and recycling the used goods they sell. That’s key to building “the circular economy,” greenspeak for the notion that nothing goes to waste that can be re-purposed. After all, one person’s trash is another’s merchandise. With the right scavenging technology, there’s a treasure trove in precious metals to be recovered in discarded mobile phones and other electronics— a  potential boon to Latin America, where electrical and electronic equipment waste grew 70% from 2009 to 2018, compared with 55% globally.Uruguay and Chile pioneered such pacts for recovering lead batteries and non-returnable containers. Costa Rica requires companies and distributors to take responsibility for their products from factory to reprocessing centers. In Colombia, consumer goods must be made with traceable components, a key to curbing potentially hazardous waste like pesticide containers, tires, light bulbs and medication. Ecuadoran companies must submit waste management plans to regulators.Such arrangements turn on the circular economy’s bet that responsible waste management will not just spare companies punitive costs but also stimulate sustainability and competition for customers through greener products. “We have to drastically reduce the volume and variety of waste packaging,” said MacEwen. “It’s harder to recycle a colored plastic bottle than a clear one. More than recycling, that means product design is the way to go.” Manufacturers may be reluctant to retool, she allows.Another market frontier is tapping organic waste for energy. No other region squanders as much food as Latin America. Organic waste, including sewage, may not be the biggest contributor to climate-baking greenhouse gases, but it is a huge source of methane, 28 times more potent for trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Better than a third of Peru’s methane emissions can be traced to landfill burning.Now this waste is fouling the skies and waters. It could light up homes and power industries. Argentina’s Environmental Complex Norte III converts 16,000 tons of daily solid waste from greater Buenos Aires into enough energy for 25,000 homes. By transforming instead of burning waste, the plant also avoids releasing more than 1 billion tons of carbon emissions a year. Generating biogas from organic waste is still incipient in the region, with around 20 plants in eight Latin American countries. Yet with landfills aplenty and regional energy demand growing by more than 3% a year, analysts reckon far more waste will have to be turned into energy.Latin America’s aspiring middle class needs the juice, preferably without the collateral environmental damage or political double-talk. More than 90% of consumers in seven South American countries demanded corporate sustainability, compared with 81% globally, and 85% said they would change their buying habits (compared with 73% of their global peers) to ease their environmental footprint, according to a recent Nielsen survey. Water pollution and shortages, polluted air and excessive waste packaging lead the list of worries for regional consumers.They’ll get no argument from water-challenged Brazilians. This week pediatricians in Rio de Janeiro counseled parents to avoid bathing young children in the swill dripping out of their taps. My friend David says he won’t even let the dog drink it. Latin Americans know they need to clean up their act, lest the potential blessings of the circular economy go down with the crud in the drain.To contact the author of this story: Mac Margolis at mmargolis14@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Gibney at jgibney5@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mac Margolis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Latin and South America. He was a reporter for Newsweek and is the author of “The Last New World: The Conquest of the Amazon Frontier.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 09:30:36 -0500
  • A Holocaust Survivor Warns Against the Rise in Anti-Semitism in Honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day

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    The year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp, and the ending of the Holocaust and World War II. In 2005, the United Nations (UN) designated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day, the UN encourages everyone to honor the lives of the nearly two-thirds of Europe's Jews murdered by Nazi Germany's vicious acts of genocide and remember the perils of allowing unrestrained hatred to grow. At the age of seven, Dr. Erica Miller and her family, along with thousands of other Jews, were imprisoned for four years in a Nazi holding camp in Mogilev, Ukraine, before being liberated by the Russians. As a Holocaust survivor, Dr. Miller understands the critical importance of commemorating and honoring the six million Holocaust victims. "We need to remember those who perished in the Holocaust and empower ourselves to be vigilant to minimize the opportunity that it will occur again," says Dr. Miller.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 08:43:00 -0500
  • Winning worker hearts and minds is key to companies achieving their green goals

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    A lot of companies say they care about the environment and commit to certain goals but don’t end up doing much about it.A whopping 78% of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500, for example, issued sustainability reports in 2018 and 66% of all U.S. companies committed to the U.N.‘s Sustainable Development Goals in 2017 through either explicit statements about the goals or implicit actions that support them. But relatively few say they’ve actually embedded the sustainability goals into their business strategies or into departments such as communications, human resources and supply chain management, corporate functions that can play a huge role in boosting sustainability. A 2016 report found that just 2% of companies actually achieve their sustainability goals. This matters because the Trump administration’s skepticism about the threat of climate change has made it clear that the federal government won’t be leading the charge to avert the worst of it. That means it’s up to companies to pick up the baton. So what separates companies that succeed at becoming more sustainable from those that fail? I spoke with over 100 CEOs, managers and regular employees at 25 multinational companies that have committed to becoming more sustainable in hopes of answering that question. My research, published in my book “Small Actions, Big Difference,” suggests it begins with a shared purpose – and winning over employee hearts and minds. Elevating sustainabilityPart of the problem is that companies have made profit maximization their primary purpose for decades. That has made all other aims, such as sustainability, secondary and separate from a company’s main mission.The result has been that companies tend to departmentalize sustainability efforts, depriving the company of the ingenuity and passion of the employee base in addressing one of the most complex problems of our times. Since sustainability permeates every aspect of a company’s operations – from procurement to disposal – it’s vital to embed a purpose promoting it in every department. Perhaps not surprisingly, companies that want to achieve goals like reducing their carbon footprint or waste tend to do better when they make sustainability an integral part of their core purpose and communicate this commitment to the entire staff. That’s clear from a recent analysis I conducted of environmental, social and governance performance data on over 3,000 companies during a 10-year period. I found that companies that said they have an “overarching vision” that combines financial goals with social and environmental ones tended to perform better on a measure of their impact on the environment. They also tended to preform better financially as well.Why? Because workers like a corporate purpose that trumps profit. Research has shown articulating a purpose beyond profit resonates with a company’s workforce. For my book, I spent countless hours over a period of five years interviewing executives, middle managers and factory workers to try understand what separates the companies making successful strides in reducing their environmental impact from those still struggling. What I learned from the reams of interview data that I collected and transcribed is that the successful companies endow a sense of “sustainability ownership” in their employees so that everyone – from the mailroom to the boardroom – picks up the baton as part of his or her day job. And it all starts with defining a corporate purpose, the all-important question of “why do we do what we do,” something that three companies did particularly well. Saving lives by selling soapWhen Paul Polman took over as consumer goods giant Unilever CEO in 2009, he realized that the company had to transition to a new business model that accounted for the environmental and social realities of today’s world in order to survive.Working with his leadership team, he came up with a new purpose for Unilever: “to make sustainable living commonplace,” which was widely communicated to all workers using a variety of means from company YouTube channels to embedding “sustainability ambassadors” throughout the company. The effort worked. Employees I spoke with clearly internalized and appreciated the new corporate purpose and culture. One factory worker in India put it succintly: “I would rather save lives than sell soap.” Corporate executives credit this integration with Unilever’s success in becoming a greener company. From 2008 to 2018, the company says it cut greenhouse gas emissions by 52%, water use by 44% and waste by 97%. Like the financial results companies report, sustainability figures are audited and verified by accounting firms. No plan BBritish retailer Marks & Spencer began incorporating sustainability into its operations in 2007 under the provocative name “Plan A” – because “there is no Plan B for our one planet,” the company said. From my interviews I learned the company uses a variety of strategies to ensure the mission is embraced by every employee, in part by appealing to the heart. For example, Marks and Spencer sponsors trips into local communities where their stores are located to show the impact of a changing climate and organizes informal after-work drinks at local pubs to discuss the crisis in a personalized way.The efforts have paid off. For example, the company says carbon emissions have plunged 75% since 2007 and waste is down 35% compared since 2009, with none being sent to a landfill. Appeals to the headAt IBM, environmental goal setting has long been an integral part of the company’s sustainability strategy. In contrast to Marks and Spencer’s appeal to an employee’s heart, however, IBM primarily appeals to the head – and the bottom line – as you might expect from an information technology company. When discussing proposed goals with business units, IBM’s corporate staff identifies opportunities for cost savings as well as revenue growth. This helps employees gain an understanding of the environmental drivers and objectives behind each goal as well as the business and societal benefits. For example, consolidating multiple computer servers that aren’t well utilized into one larger and more energy-efficient server not only reduces energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions but also frees up space, electricity and cooling capacity to support new business. Seeing this kind of data motivates workers to innovate on the sustainability front because they’re able to see how it’ll lead to more money and environmental well-being for the company – and ultimately greater financial rewards and a sense of contributing to a greater cause as well.These types of initiatives helped IBM reduce its carbon emissions by a third from 2005 to 2018 and its nonhazardous waste by 68% since 2014. Almost 90% of the remaining waste gets recycled. A higher purposeMy interviews, countless surveys and scholarly research show employees – particularly younger ones – prefer to work at companies that serve a higher purpose. The good news is that companies are increasingly vowing to pursue more than just profits and incorporating issues like protecting the environment and their communities into their purposes. But it’s not enough to make promises. And even companies that sincerely want to do better can find it hard if they don’t bring their employees along for the ride. Small actions can lead to big difference. [ Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter. ]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * Can capitalism solve capitalism’s problems? * How to really hold business to account on their carbon footprint – include their supply chainsCB Bhattacharya has previously consulted for some of the organizations he researched for "Small Actions, Big Difference." He also founded the Sustainable Business Roundtable at ESMT Berlin and the Center for Sustainable Business at the University of Pittsburgh, both of which had some organizations researched for the book as members, including IBM.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 08:38:15 -0500
  • In the terrorism fight, Trump has continued a key Obama policy

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    President Donald Trump has rescinded, reversed or otherwise ended many of former President Barack Obama’s signature policies – but not a prominent one. When it comes to fighting terrorism, the current commander-in-chief has upheld, and even extended, his predecessor’s linchpin strategy: using U.S. military special operations forces and targeted killings on a grand global scale. This strategy is highlighted by Trump’s recent orders for the military to kill or capture al-Qaida leader Hamza bin Laden in September 2019 and Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in October 2019 – and in January 2020, for a drone strike to kill Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.The tactic of sending specially trained operatives into hostile territories dates back to America’s Colonial days. In September 1776, Lieut.-Col. Thomas Knowlton’s Rangers carried out one of the first U.S. reconnaissance missions, identifying enemy positions around what today is Manhattan. They quickly found themselves engaged in a firefight with the British. Increasingly called uponIn the mid-20th century, America developed groups of covert combatants, including units that preceded the Navy SEALs, to operate in parallel with larger conventional military forces. For instance, during the Korean War, U.S. Underwater Demolition Teams accomplished what only specially trained troops could do consistently and effectively – destroying bridges and railroad tunnels.The rise of international terrorism in the 1970s led President Jimmy Carter to establish the Army’s 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, better known as Delta Force.Obama, however, transformed special forces from an auxiliary arm into the tip – and at times, the whole – of America’s counterterrorism spear. He boosted special operations forces by 15,000 troops and support staff, bumped their budget 12% to US$10.4 billion, and deployed them much farther and wider – more than doubling their geographical footprint from 60 to 135 countries.Trump has eagerly embraced this strategy, deploying 8,000 special operations personnel to 80 countries. Today, they operate in predictable places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as surprising settings such as South America’s Andes Mountains and Africa’s Sahel region.It took me 10 years of research to fully grasp Obama and Trump’s shared approach. In 2017, I co-produced “How Special Ops Became Central to the War on Terror” with Retro Report for the New York Times. PBS recently aired a shorter version. I’m also directing “Cojot,” which tells the little-known story of a hostage who played a key role in the first special operations rescue mission in a hostile country – the 1976 Operation Thunderbolt, better known as Israel’s daring Entebbe raid.My conclusion is that this strategy offers significant benefits, often in terms of speed and competency, but brings along severe risks, as well – such as lack of transparency and accountability, and potentially conflicting national priorities. Clear advantagesUsing a select group of elite troops and choosing very specific targets can be a highly efficient way for presidents to advance military and foreign policy goals that otherwise might take countless years, hundreds of billions of dollars, massive deployments, intense debates with Congress and thorny international entanglements. Imagine, for instance, if President George W. Bush had simply sent special operations troops to kill Iraqi president Saddam Hussein rather than getting mired in an endless war in that country. Trump recently offered an example, albeit on a smaller scale, of how this approach works: Shortly after announcing the pullout of U.S. troops from northern Syria, he successfully deployed Delta Force to take out al-Baghdadi.This strategy is also relatively inexpensive: Special operations spending in the 2020 federal budget amounts to US$13.8 billion – an enormous sum that is nevertheless just 1.87% of the $738 billion overall defense budget. And high-profile successes can boost presidents’ public approval ratings. Obama’s climbed from 46% to 52% after Osama bin Laden’s killing, and Trump’s rose from 41% to 45% after al-Baghdadi and Soleimani’s deaths.Using small dedicated groups can also fill gaps in intelligence-gathering left by satellites, drones and technological spying. Special operations soldiers can track leads on the ground, interrogate suspects and flesh out information needed to make sound decisions and execute complex missions. Zeroing in on specific marks can minimize harm to civilians who might live or work nearby – rather than destroying a village to kill one man, commandos can just attack that individual in his home. With this approach, the United States uses force more in line with its opponents. Unlike the skyjackers of the 1960s and 1970s, today’s ideological killers do not negotiate. They tend to be extremists, like religious fanatics or white supremacists, rather than attention-seeking secular political activists. They play by different rules, and so do special operations forces. Unlike conventional forces, special operators do not have to constantly answer to the public, face media scrutiny or become a political punching bag. In fact, the American people have rarely demanded to know more about exactly what special operations forces are up to. Serious drawbacksOne of the problems with the dependence on special operations forces is that it exhausts the very people on whom it relies.“The force has been stretched to the max,” former Delta Force intelligence officer Wade Ishimoto says in my co-production with Retro Report, “How Special Ops Became Central to the War on Terror.” “Special operations should not be the panacea for every kind of difficulty,” he continues.Ishimoto warns that special operations soldiers are bound to burn out because there are too few of them to handle all the assignments in far-flung locations. Indeed, in recent years, they have experienced an increase in alcohol abuse and suicides.Yet Americans are often in the dark about their special operations. With specialized, clandestine forces, presidents likely find it easier to wage war without consulting Congress and without clear strategic plans. The recently released Afghanistan Papers show presidents can keep significant secrets about wars, such as the 18-years-and-counting Afghanistan conflict. The most obvious downside is that special operations missions can fail miserably. In April 1980, when Delta Force tried to rescue the American hostages held in Iran, the troops never made it past their initial rendezvous point in the desert. In 2017, al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists in Niger ambushed U.S. special forces soldiers, killing four of them. The enigmatic nature of the operations means it is possible some special forces deaths never make the nightly news or morning papers. Still, I doubt this strategy will change in any significant way, regardless of who wins the November 2020 presidential election. It’s not just that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks – it’s that, to many people, there is no better alternative. If there were, Trump would probably be quite happy to scrap yet another Obama policy.[ Expertise in your inbox. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter and get a digest of academic takes on today’s news, every day. ]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * Who are the private contractors fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan? An inside look at this invisible military force * Doping soldiers so they fight better – is it ethical?Boaz Dvir does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 08:38:00 -0500
  • 200 years of exploring Antarctica – the world's coldest, most forbidding and most peaceful continent

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    Antarctica is the remotest part of the world, but it is a hub of scientific discovery, international diplomacy and environmental change. It was officially discovered 200 years ago, on Jan. 27, 1820, when members of a Russian expedition sighted land in what is now known as the Fimbul Ice Shelf on the continent’s east side. Early explorers were drawn there by the mythology of Terra Australis, a vast southern continent that scholars imagined for centuries as a counterweight to the Northern Hemisphere. Others sought economic bounty from hunting whales and seals, or the glory of conquering the planet’s last wilderness. Still others wanted to understand Earth’s magnetic fields in order to better navigate the seas. I am a geologist who specializes in understanding the timing and extent of past ice ages. Much of my work focuses on the glacial history of Antarctica, and I’ve been privileged to conduct five field seasons of research there. For the next two years I’ll be working with a field team made up entirely of undergraduate students from Vanderbilt University to determine whether the East Antarctic Ice Sheet changes flow patterns as it changes shape. All of the research these budding scientists conduct will be done under the auspices of the Antarctic Treaty, a global agreement that promotes scientific cooperation and environmental protection. Frozen but abundantAntarctica separated from South America 35 million years ago, and its climate started to change. It began to grow ice sheets – masses of glacial land ice covering thousands of square miles. As plate tectonics shifted other continents, Antarctica became colder and drier. For the past 14 million years, it has been the frigid continent that persists today. Antarctica is the only continent that was literally discovered, because it has no native human population. British explorer Sir James Cook circumnavigated the continent in 1772-1775, but saw only some outlying islands. Cook concluded that if there were any land, it would be “condemned to everlasting regidity by Nature, never to yield to the warmth of the sun.” Cook also reported that Antarctic waters were rich with nutrients and wildlife. This drew sealers and whalers, mainly from England and the United States, who hunted the region’s fur seals and elephant seals to near-extinction in the following decades. This hunting spree led to the discovery of the Antarctic mainland and its ice sheets, the largest in the world. Reading the iceToday the combined East and West Antarctic ice sheets hold 90% of the world’s ice, enough to raise global sea levels by roughly 200 feet (60 meters) if it all melted. Antarctica is the coldest, highest, driest, windiest, brightest, and yes, iciest continent on Earth. And 200 years of research has shown that it is a key component of Earth’s climate system.Despite the appearance that it is an unchanging, freeze-dried landscape, my research and work by many others has shown that the East Antarctica Ice Sheet does slowly thin and thicken over millions of years. Interestingly, my data also suggest that as the ice advances and retreats, it moves in the same patterns each time. Put another way, the ice flows over the same land each time it advances.While East Antarctica adds and loses ice slowly, it is so large that it is a major contributor to sea level rise. Understanding how the ice has changed in the past is key to predicting how much and how fast it will melt in the coming years. These questions are especially important in West Antarctica, where the bottom of the ice sheet is below sea level, making it very susceptible to changes in sea level and ocean temperature. By itself, the West Antarctic ice sheet has the potential to raise sea level by 16 feet (5 meters) if it collapses.As climate change raises global sea levels, parts of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet, such as the Thwaites and Pine Island Glaciers, are particularly vulnerable to collapse. At the end of the last ice age, parts of West Antarctica thinned by an average of 1.5 to 3 feet (0.5 - 1 meters) per year. Today with GPS, satellite and airborne measurements, scientists are seeing parts of West Antarctica thin by 3 to 20 feet (1 to 6 meters) per year. We also know from the geological record that this ice sheet is capable of rapid collapses, and has sometimes thinned at rates in excess of 30 feet (10 meters) per year. Recent models show sea level could rise by 1 meter by 2100 and 15 meters by 2500 if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at current rates and the ice sheet experiences a rapid collapse, as it has in the past. Finding inspiration in scientific diplomacyDespite the potential for environmental disaster in Antarctica, the continent also offers evidence that nations can collaborate to find solutions. The Antarctic Treaty System is the world’s premier example of peaceful and scientific international cooperation. This landmark accord, signed in 1961, sets aside Antarctica for peaceful and scientific purposes and recognizes no land claims on the continent. It also was the first non-nuclear accord ever signed, barring use of Antarctica for nuclear weapons testing or disposal of radioactive waste.The great Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton said that “optimism is true moral courage,” and the authors of the Antarctic Treaty were certainly courageous optimists. They were encouraged by the success of the 1957-1958 International Geophysical Year, a worldwide program of scientific research during which 12 countries built over 50 bases in Antarctica, including McMurdo Station and the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Under the treaty, scientists from North Korea, Russia and China can freely visit U.S. research stations in Antarctica. Researchers from India and Pakistan willingly share their data about Antarctic glaciers. Thanks to the Antarctic Treaty, 10% of Earth’s land surface is protected as a wildlife and wilderness refuge. I have set foot in places in Antarctica where I know no one has ever been before, and the treaty sets areas aside that no one will ever visit. Antarctica’s landscapes are unlike anywhere else on Earth. The best comparison may be the Moon. Yet in these stark environments, life finds a way to persist – showing that there are solutions to even the most daunting challenges. If Antarctica has taught us anything in 200 years, it’s that we can cooperate and collaborate to overcome problems. As Ernest Shackleton once said, “Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all.” [ Thanks for reading! We can send you The Conversation’s stories every day in an informative email. Sign up today. ]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts.Read more: * Short-term changes in Antarctica’s ice shelves are key to predicting their long-term fate * Emperor Penguins could march to extinction if nations fail to halt climate changeDan Morgan receives funding from the National Science Foundation.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 08:37:47 -0500
  • 6 killed in Germany shooting, including suspect's parents

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    The suspect's parents were among the dead and the other victims also were believed to be relatives. A man called police shortly after 12:45 p.m. (1145 GMT) and told them he had killed several people, regional police chief Reiner Moeller said at a news conference. Police kept the man on the line and, when they arrived at the scene several minutes later, arrested a 26-year-old German national as the suspect in the slayings, Moeller said.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 08:20:55 -0500
  • The Jeff Bezos Hack Shows Vulnerability Beyond Tech

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- The innocuous-looking video file believed to have been used to hack Jeff Bezos’s smartphone says a lot about the technological sophistication of today’s spyware. Within hours of receiving the file and its encrypted downloader from the personal WhatsApp account of Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, the Amazon founder’s phone began transmitting “massive” amounts of data without authorization, according to the forensic report by Bezos’s team (obtained by Vice). While no smoking gun has been uncovered — and experts still have many unanswered questions — the purported attack bears all the hallmarks of spyware such as NSO Group’s Pegasus, which has exploited weaknesses in WhatsApp to hack phones. (NSO denies its tech was used in this instance.)Yet the story also says a lot about the non-technological aspects of 21st-century hacking, and what it takes to uncover the secrets of the richest man in the world. Money helps, obviously: This kind of spyware doesn’t come cheap. Saudi Arabia has, in the past, reportedly paid $55 million for the use of NSO’s tools — though the kingdom says it’s “absurd” to imagine it’s behind the attack. Then there’s the relaxed attitude to mobile hygiene on the target’s part: We know from the technical report that Bezos doesn't use a burner phone, keeps personal selfies on his system and might not even know his iTunes password. The icing on the cake, though, is personal trust. The “last mile” of the hack seems to have simply come down to getting Bezos’s number and sending him a message. Access, not technology, was the key.This is not a dig at Bezos. Unlike the CEOs and world leaders who have been hoodwinked by undercover pranksters, the billionaire was taken in by the real thing. Who wouldn’t exchange numbers with a crown prince feted by the U.S. media and the White House as a millennial modernizer? The fact that the infamous 4.22 MB video file landed in Bezos’s phone on May 1, 2018 — just four weeks after the pair exchanged numbers — suggests the hack really began when they first met in April 2018. In the hierarchy of scams, if a phishing hack is disseminated to unsuspecting members of the public, and spear-phishing targets one individual, then securing this kind of personal connection surely tops both. As the owner of the Washington Post, which employed dissident Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Bezos was a prime target.There has always been a human element to hacking. In the early years of the internet, Kevin Mitnick, once the world’s most famous hacker, used the term “social engineering” to describe the skill of talking his way into key network infrastructure or obtaining passwords. Today, there’s a multitude of ways hackers interact with the physical world. Stuxnet, a virus specifically used to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program, was reportedly injected directly into machines at the Natanz facility by a double agent using a thumb drive. The long global supply chain of consumer electronics offers plenty of opportunities for malicious actors to physically plant microscopic bugs. Phishing is the most common type of hack, according to a U.K. survey, but cyber-physical attacks are rising.Maybe the personal connection between Bezos and MBS that apparently enabled this hack is, on one level, a sign that iPhone-toting elites are perhaps too quick to trust each other. Spying, even among allies, is always going to be a grim fact of diplomatic life. But the possibility that authoritarian state actors are prepared to deploy weapons-grade spyware on their WhatsApp contacts is somewhat of a game-changer. Consumers are being advised to learn from Bezos’s errors. This is also something for the Davos set to take on board. If the forensic findings turn out to be on target, what comes next should be as much about policy and regulation as about tech-savviness. Rules of engagement are needed in the world of state-backed cyber warfare, including spyware. Humanity doesn’t seem well-prepared for the myriad of cyber security threats coming down the pipe. That's especially true with the unrelenting march of connected devices and an Internet of Things where physical objects like cars and critical infrastructure can be hacked. There, too, we need better regulation and a more interventionist response instead of trusting the market forces driving innovation, as author Bruce Schneier has suggested. Until then, the Bezoses of the world will simply have to guard their secrets, and all of their other data, more closely than usual.To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at llaurent2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at mpozsgay@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 08:13:02 -0500
  • Global Elite Upbeat While Climate Activists Rage: Davos Update

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    (Bloomberg) -- Sign up here to receive the Davos Diary, a special daily newsletter that will run from Jan. 20-24.The rich and powerful are in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum’s 50th annual meeting, and the gathering is being closely watched to see how the global elite aims to tackle problems they helped create, above all climate change.The economy was in focus on the final day, and many delegates signaled optimism on the outlook for this year. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde told Bloomberg TV that investors shouldn’t assume current monetary policy is locked in just because officials are reviewing their strategy.Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who called a climate strike for Friday near the forum, slammed delegates for failing to treat global warming as a crisis.To get all the highlights delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Davos Diary newsletter. Here’s the latest (time-stamps are local time in Davos):Davos Endorses Fiscal Boost With Mnuchin Touting Tax Cuts (1:30 p.m.)Top financial officials from the major global economies used the forum’s final day to tout the benefits of government spending as a way to lift growth and reduce reliance on overloaded central banks.U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin labeled the U.S. a “bright spot” and attributed that to President Donald Trump’s tax cuts -- along with his rollback of regulations and his trade deals. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said his nation, where fiscal and monetary policies are aligned, is seeing “very strong” business investment.The International Monetary Fund‘s chief, Kristalina Georgieva, said the global economy is “in a better place” than last year for three reasons -- an easing of trade tensions, synchronized interest-rate cuts, and a bottoming out in industrial production. “We have to see fiscal policy being more aggressive,” she added.‘Things Going Pretty Well’: Bain’s Pagliuca (1:20 p.m.)Bain Capital Co-Chair Stephen Pagliuca joined other Davos delegates in expressing optimism about the economy, saying “things are going pretty well.”“It’s kind of chugging along,” Pagliuca told Bloomberg TV. “Our businesses are doing well, record low unemployment in the U.S., we’ve had kind of an oil dividend for six or seven years now, oil’s very cheap, energy’s very cheap. And so restaurants are full, planes are full and things are going pretty well.”Mnuchin Sees 20-Year Bonds Extending Average Maturity (1:39 p.m.)Mnuchin sees the U.S.’s new 20-year bond extending “slightly” the average maturity on government debt as his department prepares to launch that security and limit the cost of financing a budget deficit set to reach $1 trillion this year.Issuing ultra-long bonds, those due in more than 30 years, is “no longer on the near term -- our focus for the moment is issuing the 20-year,” Mnuchin said in an interview.“If you look at the number of 20-year bonds that we’ll raise, this will slightly extend” the average maturity, he said, declining to predict by how much. “This isn’t going to be a massive extension.”Kurz Sees German Greens in Government (1 p.m.)Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz expects his German conservative peers to follow his lead and team up with the Greens after the next election.Kurz said that he hopes the era of “grand coalitions” between conservative and center-left mainstream parties is over in Europe.“I’m almost ready to bet that there can be a similar government in Germany after the next election,” he said in an interview. “I’m skeptical of those ‘grand coalitions,’ which had their justification after World War II but became just mutual blockade in recent years.”Mnuchin Says Technology Will Make a Carbon Tax Redundant (12:55 p.m.)U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said technological developments would make carbon tax redundant, going against the grain of other participants.“If you want to put a tax on people, go ahead and put a carbon tax. That is a tax on hard working people,” Mnuchin said, speaking on a panel alongside Lagarde. “I personally think the costs are going to be a lot lower 10 years from now because of technology.”“I don’t mean to minimize this issue, there’s lots of other issues we could talk about,” Mnuchin said. “The world is dependent upon having reasonable-priced energy for the next 10 or 20 years, or we’re not going to create growth, we’re not going to create jobs.”South Africa Must Push Reforms, Mboweni Says (12:53 p.m.)South Africa’s government will press ahead with structural reforms to kick-start the economy and needs to talk with labor unions to get them on board, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said.Investors and business lobby groups have expressed frustration at the slow pace of reforms that were promised when Cyril Ramaphosa became president in February 2018. While the delays are often thought to be due to policy disagreements within the ruling party and government, Mboweni told reporters in Davos that there’s unanimity within cabinet to push structural reforms.“There’s a need for a long conversations with the trade union movement in South Africa about structural reforms,” he said. “There are some areas where they do not agree, therefore conversations have to be held.”Scholz Doesn’t See Negative Brexit Impact on EU (12:10 p.m.)German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said Britain’s exit from the European Union will hurt the U.K. economy but won’t have a negative impact on the rest of the bloc.“There is a task left, which is to now to get an agreement about the further relationship, but if this is also managed I’m absolutely confident that, especially on the continent, there will be no negative effect of this development,” Scholz said during a panel discussion.“It will be more difficult for the U.K., obviously, because this business model must be reorganized,” he said, adding that he’s “relatively confident” about prospects for a U.S.-EU trade agreement.U.S., China Trade Spat Is World’s “Greatest Danger,” Frenkel Says (12:10 p.m.)Jacob Frenkel, head of JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s international unit and a former governor of the Bank of Israel, described the trade war between the U.S. and China as “the greatest danger to the growth of the world economy.”The “skirmish” between the two countries has affected expectations, mood and capital investment plans and placed in danger “the bridges that connect the various parts of the global economy,” Frenkel said in a Bloomberg TV interview.Frenkel added that interest rates close to zero has “exhausted its benefits” and is causing damage to the financial industry.Japan Still ‘Far Away’ From Inflation Goal: Kuroda (11:55 a.m.)The Bank of Japan will maintain its “accommodative” monetary policy stance for the time being as it strives to lift inflation closer to its target, according to Governor Kuroda.“We are still far away from the 2% inflation target so that the Bank of Japan will continue accommodative monetary policy for some time,” Kuroda said during a panel discussion. Domestic demand is fairly strong in Japan and strength in business investment will likely continue, Kuroda added.Trade Deals Reduce Uncertainty, Lagarde Says (11:50 a.m.)Lagarde said the outlook for the euro region is mixed but an easing of trade tensions has made downside risks less pronounced.“I see some positive signs, and I see some concerning signs as well,” the ECB president said during a panel discussion. “We are delighted to see trade agreements or truces being negotiated and concluded because we believe it will remove uncertainty the world over.”“Brexit is a little bit less uncertain, but we still have that possible cliff edge in December 2020,” Lagarde added, referring to the deadline for Britain and the EU to negotiate a trade agreement.Thunberg Protest Urges “System Change” (11:40 a.m.)Thunberg marched with a great swarm of media to join a group of more than 50 protesters near the forum. With placards that read “planet over profit” and “stop (f)lying to us,” demonstrators chanted “system change not climate change” and “oceans are rising and so are we.”Onlookers and media outnumber the climate activists by about two to one.At the press conference earlier, one of the activists said that there was an international group of climate strikers in Davos who had been sleeping outside in tents to experience the discomfort we all need to face to stop the use of fossil fuels.No End in Sight to Plastics Crisis (11:15 a.m.)Only a small fraction of all plastic produced is recycled, and much of the rest often ends up affecting wildlife in oceans and forests, according to participants in a panel discussion developed with QuickTake by Bloomberg.Reducing use of plastics needs to be a broad-based effort, but is critical for consumer goods companies, according to Tak Niinami, chief executive officer of drinks maker Suntory Holdings Ltd. “We industry want to be liked by society, otherwise we can’t survive,” he said.The use of plastics has doubled in the last two decades, and it’s expected to double again in the next two. “We cannot allow it,” said former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.‘We’re in a Better Place’: Goldman’s Patel (11:15 a.m.)Sheila Patel, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, said the global economy is “certainly in a better place than we were a year ago at Davos.”“A year ago you had everyone worried about liquidity, extremely worried about where the markets would head and we were counseling calm,” Patel told Bloomberg TV.“Today you have people worried about liquidity given the mix of public to private that they have in their portfolios, particularly the way that various investors have leaned in to things like private credit,” she added.Thunberg Says Davos Has Failed on Climate (10:46 a.m.)Thunberg used a Friday press conference to declare the forum a failure on addressing the case for climate action she first made at Davos last year.“Before we came here, we had a few demands for the WEF, and the demands have been completely ignored,” she said. “Of course we expected nothing less,” the 17-year-old said.“We must remember that as long as we don’t treat this crisis as a crisis, as long as science is ignored, we won’t be able to solve this crisis,” she said, speaking alongside other young climate activists.She interjected during remarks by one of her fellow activists to specify that the urgency they all felt around climate action didn’t mean the end is near. “Of course, this is not the last year we have,” she said.Germany Maintaining ‘Strong’ Investment: Scholz (10:40 a.m.)German Finance Minister Scholz said the country has “a very expansionary fiscal policy” and last year’s budget surplus will give Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government room to maintain strong investment.“We are already doing a lot of things which will help to expand investments,” Scholz said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “Now with the surplus we have all the possibility to be strong in this field as anyone asks us to be and as we really want ourselves.”A trade deal between the U.S. and the European Union is possible “really soon,” although it will require “very hard work,” Scholz said.“It is absolutely important that we do not build trade barriers,” he added. “The wealth of the nation is better when we have a rules-based free trade.”Villeroy Calls for Flexible, Credible Inflation Target (10:31 a.m.)The ECB should ensure in its strategic review that its inflation target is “symmetric, flexible and credible,” Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau said.To be credible the ECB must explain its inflation target to households and businesses and listen to them about their inflation expectations, Villeroy said in a Bloomberg TV interview. The strategic review should go beyond market professionals to households and businesses because they are price makers and wage-setters, he added.Centeno Sees Germany Stepping Up Spending (10:10 a.m.)To spur economic activity, euro-area countries that can spend more need to, and Germany is showing signs that it is ready to play its part, according to Eurogroup President Mario Centeno.“We know that some countries have more space than others to act,” Centeno said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “Germany is one of those countries that can act, and actually we see some action from the German side.”Recent investment in the rail sector “goes precisely in that direction,” Centeno added. “It’s public investment, connected with climate action. I expect more of those actions to be taken in the course of 2020, so that 2020 can finally see this acceleration of the global economy, and Europe can also play a role in that.”EU, China, Brazil Form Trade-Dispute Alliance (10 a.m.)The European Union and a group of 16 nations that includes China and Brazil are forming an alliance to settle trade disputes among themselves using an interim appeal-arbitration mechanism at the World Trade Organization.“We will work towards putting in place contingency measures that would allow for appeals of WTO panel reports in disputes among ourselves,” according to a copy of a joint declaration obtained by Bloomberg.The development marks an advance of the EU’s backup plan for settling international trade disputes now that the WTO appellate body is paralyzed. WTO delegates meeting in Davos are expected to announce the arrangement later Friday.“We believe that a functioning dispute settlement system of the WTO is of the utmost importance for the rules-based trading system, and that an independent and impartial appeal stage must continue to be one of its essential features,” according to the document.ESM Chief Sees More People Now in Favor of Stronger Euro Role (9:05 a.m.)The international role of the euro is becoming increasingly the focus of debate in Europe, according to European Stability Mechanism Managing Director Klaus Regling.“More people are now in favor of having a stronger role for the euro which is partly the answer to the U.S. current administration withdrawing from multilateralism,” Regling said in a Bloomberg TV interview.”Europe believes in multilateralism, and one way to strengthen European sovereignty is the international role of the euro.”Tech CEOs Dodge Issues by Warning About AI (9 a.m.)Technology’s most influential leaders have a new message: It’s not us you need to worry about -- it’s artificial intelligence.Two years ago big tech embarked on a repentance tour to Davos in response to criticism about the companies’ role in issues such as election interference by Russia-backed groups; spreading misinformation; the distribution of extremist content; antitrust violations; and tax avoidance. Uber Technologies Inc.’s new chief even asked to be regulated.These problems haven’t gone away, but this time executives warned that AI that must be regulated, rather than the companies themselves.“AI is one of the most profound things we’re working on as humanity. It’s more profound than fire or electricity,” Alphabet Inc. Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said in an interview. Comparing it to international discussions on climate change, he said, “you can’t get safety by having one country or a set of countries working on it. You need a global framework.”German Health Minister Says China Virus Less of a Threat (8:45 a.m.)China is more transparent and more aggressive in attempting to control the coronavirus outbreak compared with SARS, and that’s helping the international community better prepare to deal with the situation, according to German Health Minister Jens Spahn.“We are prepared and keep on preparing, but at the same time I think we have to put into perspective,” Spahn said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “There’s a big difference to SARS.”Coronavirus the ‘New Norm’: Axa’s Buberl (8:30 a.m.)Axa SA Chief Executive Officer Thomas Buberl said outbreaks like the coronavirus are the “new norm” and there will be more viruses popping up due to climate change.“We always learn in these emergency situations and then forget again when it’s gone,” Buberl told Bloomberg TV.“We need to remind ourselves that the environment is changing, it is getting warmer everywhere and therefore new viruses will pop up,” he added. “Going forward, the implication of climate on health is something that we need to study more and need to understand better.”VW’s Diess Upbeat on Battle With Tesla (8:10 a.m.)Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess said he’s optimistic the German car giant can keep pace with Tesla Inc. in the electric-car market and even overtake Elon Musk’s company at some point.“I think it’s an open race” to define the car of the future, Diess told Bloomberg TV. “I would take Tesla more seriously than Google and there are also from our peers some very competitive companies like Toyota.”This year will be “very difficult” for automakers, with global demand “basically flat” and tighter emissions regulations coming into force in Europe, Diess said. “We’re basically optimistic, but it will be a very demanding year for the industry,” he added.Lagarde: ECB Policy Not Necessarily on Autopilot (7:30 a.m.)Lagarde said that market observers should not assume that the ECB’s monetary policy will be on “autopilot” for the next two years.“To those who think that it’s autopilot, I think that’s ridiculous,” Lagarde said in an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Francine Lacqua. “There is a forward guidance, which is strong, which is setting a very clear timetable that is fact dependent. But let’s look at the facts. Let’s look at how the economy evolves.”Lagarde added that if markets are interested in what happens over the next 12 months, “they should not pay too much attention” to the ECB’s strategy review.“To those who say it’s going to be completely static and stable for 12 months I say watch out, because things change and we might have different signals and we might reconsider,” she said. She conceded that the goal of completing the review by the end of this year is “ambitious.”Carrie Lam Courts Elite With Dim Sum (5:39 a.m.)Carrie Lam hosted 200 business and political leaders for dim sum and cocktails at a Swiss ski resort to reassure them that Hong Kong’s future is bright.The city’s leader said that Hong Kong is still open for business, despite paralyzing protests and an economy in recession. She also said that officials back home are working to contain the coronavirus that’s killed more than two dozen people in China and infected hundreds of others. Hong Kong has identified two cases.In a room decorated with gold candles and red Chinese lanterns for Lunar New Year, Lam said her government “will safeguard Hong Kong’s fundamentals, including the rule of law.” She was also “fully confident of the city’s future,” according to a readout from her office.Singapore Leader Says Rebound Depends on Calm (1:57 a.m.)Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the city state’s economy could improve in 2020 only if any number of global risks don’t materialize, particularly emanating from the U.S.Lee said that he’s “relieved” that Singapore’s economy escaped recession in 2019. The government’s growth forecast for this year -- anywhere from 0.5%-2.5% -- indicates “we really don’t know” how things will pan out, he said in an interview with Bloomberg’s Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait.“That’s the range of what our economy is capable of, but whether we realize that capability, that potential, depends on international conditions,” Lee said. “If there’s a blowout between China and America, or if there’s something happening in the Middle East, either with Iran or with Syria, then all bets are off.”Soros: Facebook Conspiring to Re-Elect Trump (00:18 a.m.)Billionaire George Soros said that nothing is keeping Facebook Inc. from spreading disinformation and the company may be in cahoots with Trump to get him re-elected.“I think there is a kind of informal mutual assistance operation or agreement developing between Trump and Facebook,” Soros, 89, said Thursday. “Facebook will work together to re-elect Trump, and Trump will work to protect Facebook so that this situation cannot be changed and it makes me very concerned about the outcome for 2020.”Soros didn’t offer any evidence for his claim. “This is just plain wrong,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in response.\--With assistance from Shelly Banjo, Dandan Li, Michelle Jamrisko, Katia Porzecanski, Sarah Frier, Francine Lacqua, Geraldine Amiel, Haslinda Amin, Viktoria Dendrinou, Giles Turner, Bryce Baschuk, Joao Lima, Aaron Rutkoff, Javier Blas, Akshat Rathi, Donal Griffin, Boris Groendahl, Jill Ward, Saleha Mohsin and Paul Gordon.To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Reiter in Berlin at creiter2@bloomberg.net;Iain Rogers in Berlin at irogers11@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net;Simon Kennedy at skennedy4@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 08:07:20 -0500
  • Son: Former Egyptian president Mubarak undergoes surgery

    Golocal247.com news

    Egypt's former autocratic president Hosni Mubarak, who was forced to step down following 2011 mass protests, has undergone surgery, his eldest son tweeted Friday. Alaa Mubarak tweeted that his 91-year-old father was operated on Thursday and that his condition was “stable.” He provided no details about the surgery. Mubarak was ousted in the 2011 uprising that swept Egypt as part of the Arab Spring movement that gripped the region.

    Fri, 24 Jan 2020 07:52:07 -0500
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