China/U.S. Hackusation, Ghana Fire, Lovin' Leo

China/U.S. Hackusation, Ghana Fire, Lovin' Leo


Chinese hackers recruited by their government are being accused of breaching the computer system of the federal Office of Personnel Management in December, The Washington Post reports. The personal data of as many as four million federal employees, including their banking records and credit card information, has been affected. The revelation came moments after a New York Times report that the NSA’s “warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international Internet traffic” had been secretly expanded to combat hacking. Responding to the accusation, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said the claims were “irresponsible and unscientific.”


Photo: David McIntyre/ZUMA

Tens of thousands of people held a candlelight vigil Thursday night in Hong Kong's Victoria Park to mark the 26th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the student-led demonstrations in which hundreds — thousands, according to some estimates — are believed to have died. The Hong Kong-based, English-language newspaper South China Morning Post is one of the rare Chinese publications to make a mention of the gathering. Read more about it in our Extra! feature here.


As many as 175 people died in a fire that started Wednesday night at a gas station in Accra, Ghana, the BBC reports. The fire was indirectly caused by two days of very heavy rain that flooded and destroyed parts of the city. A graphic video feature released by Citi expand=1] FM Online shows the extent of the damage.


“There were moments when I worried that we might have put our privileged lives at risk for nothing — that the public would react with indifference, or practiced cynicism, to the revelations. Never have I been so grateful to have been so wrong,” former NSA contractor Edward Snowden writes in a New York Times op-ed exactly two years after his first revelations.


Yemen’s Houthi rebels have agreed to join UN-brokered peace talks June 14 in Geneva, where they will meet members of the Yemeni government that have been forced into exile, Reuters reports. Their decision was made public after reports that Saudi airstrikes in northern Yemen had killed at least 50 people, most of them civilians. While the Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Muslim states seeks to punish the Shia Muslim rebels, the local al-Qaeda branch is “quietly exploiting” the war to expand its territories, following a strategy similar to that of their affiliates of the al-Nusra Front in Syria, The Washington Post reports.


Revelations of FIFA corruption continue, the latest being the allegation that soccer’s governing body paid the Football Association of Ireland $5 million in return for dropping a legal action over a controversial 2010 handball by France’s Thierry Henry that led to a game-winning goal. Referees didn’t see the infraction, which meant Ireland missed out on the South African World Cup in 2010. FIFA claims the payment was a loan, not a bribe, which was later written off to build a stadium.


The 12 members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are meeting in Vienna, where the oil cartel is expected to agree to maintain current production levels of 30 million barrels per day, meaning no significant change in prices, Bloomberg reports. As MarketWatch explains, OPEC nations and particularly Saudi Arabia are eager to preserve their market share in the face of rising U.S. shale oil production, though it won’t target it specifically.


It was 132 years ago today that the first passenger rail service known at the Orient Express left Paris, destined for Vienna. Time for your 57-second shot of history.


Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will find his Syriza party deeply divided when he addresses lawmakers later today about ongoing negotiations with international creditors. According to the Financial Times, the radical-left party is tormented by “a torrent of anger and resistance” over lender proposals, which some ministers and legislators believe cross many of the “red lines” the party has drawn, E Kathimirini reports. Athens announced yesterday it would delay a debt repayment due to the International Monetary Fund today until the end of the month, a move that critics say means the country is edging closer to default and a Eurozone exit.


A new Geneva barbershop serves only men, and only those who know what will never go out of style, Le Temps’ Sylvain Besson writes. “The profile of the ideal customer turns out to be the ‘dandy,’ which founder Cristina Le Jeune Giacobbi defines as caring about his style and yet independent from the fashion trends of the moment. He is also ready and willing to discuss his obsessions with his style brethren.” Among those brethren are the ubiquitous hipsters.

Read the full article, Barbershop Wisdom: Why The Dandy Will Outlive The Hipster.



Chinese rescue teams have righted the Eastern Star, the cruise ship that capsized with 456 passengers on board Monday, marking the end of the search for survivors, the South China Morning Post reports. Only 14 people survived the accident, and 97 bodies have been found so far.


The women’s soccer World Cup begins tomorrow in Edmonton, Canada, but most aficionados of the jogo bonito will be looking to Berlin, where the Italian champions Juventus Turin face their Spanish rivals FC Barcelona for what promises to be a spectacular Champions League final. Here’s our video tribute to Barça star Lionel Messi, in seven languages.

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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

— Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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