Ebola-Free Sierra Leone, Record Greenhouse Gases, Rolling Stone’s B-day

Ebola-Free Sierra Leone, Record Greenhouse Gases, Rolling Stone’s B-day


Photo: Jack Kurtz/ZUMA

The National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition party led by Aung San Suu Kyi is on the verge of a sweeping victory in Myanmar, where party officials say they expect to win at least 70% of parliamentary seats, The Myanmar Times reports. Yesterday’s historic election was the first time in 25 years that the Burmese could vote in an openly contested race. “It is important to win with dignity,” Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi told supporters. “Winners have to be understanding of those who lose as well.” Under Burmese law, she cannot become president because she has children of British nationality, but she said before the election that a victory for her party would place her “above the president.”


After battling the deadly Ebola virus for more than 18 months, Sierra Leone was officially declared Ebola-free Saturday after 42 days with no new cases reported. Thousands of people gathered in the capital of Freetown to celebrate the news and pay tribute to the 220 health workers who died during the outbreak, which killed a total of 3,955 people in Sierra Leone.


The Egyptian team investigating the crash of a Russian plane in the Sinai last week told Reuters they were 90% sure that the aircraft had been brought down by a bomb. Egyptians authorities have to date been reluctant to defend that hypothesis so far, fearing it could have a devastating impact on its tourism industry. Though it’s still unclear who is responsible, there’s mounting evidence that the cause was a bomb.


The Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) is celebrating a narrow victory in yesterday’s parliamentary elections, Croatia’s first since it joined the European Union in 2013. But as the leading opposition party, it failed to win an outright majority and now faces a tough task to form a coalition government, newspaper Večernji List reports. After a campaign that largely focused on the refugee crisis, HDZ won 59 seats to the ruling Social Democrats’ 56. A third party of right-leaning independents won a surprising 19 seats but announced it would refuse to enter a coalition government with the two major parties, creating political chaos. Read more from Le Blog.


Greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2014, continuing a 30-year-old trend, according to a report published by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization. And atmospheric levels of CO2 are expected to continue to rise this year. “It means hotter global temperatures, more extreme weather events like heatwaves and floods, melting ice, rising sea levels and increased acidity of the oceans,” WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said in a statement. “This is happening now and we are moving into uncharted territory at a frightening speed.”


A century from now, the global population will finally begin to decline. But before that, the world must deal with the waste created by an exploding overpopulation, Daniel Fortin reports for Les Echos. How do we hold on until then? “Pierre-Noël Giraud, one of France’s most brilliant living economists, has little presence in the media, which is perhaps a good thing since it affords him more time to work and formulate questions like the one posed in his recently published book L’Homme inutile ("The Useless Man"): How do we handle the transition towards this promising distant future, knowing that there’s 100 years in between? As part of his analysis, Giraud points out that before we reach the point of demographic decline, we will first have to overcome a paroxysmal period, with a planet inhabited by 10 billion people in 2050. The problem, the author argues, won’t be the depletion of resources so much as the absorption of the mass of discharged waste. The other major challenge will be the capacity of our economies to employ such a vast workforce.”

Read the full article, Demographic Disaster? Counting The Risks Of 10 Billion People.


“Some of them have been on that island for four, five years and, quite frankly, everyone’s sick of being treated like animals and right now they’re turning around and biting,” New Zealand lawmaker Kelvin Davis told ABC, slamming Australia’s tough refugee policy after reports of clashes with authorities at a detention center on Christmas Island. Australian officials said they were involved in a “standoff” with refugees after the death of an Iranian migrant sparked rioting. An estimated 203 people are currently being held at the detention center.



U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to meet in Washington later today for the first time since the Iran nuclear deal fractured an already tense relationship. But the two leaders are expected to turn the page and, according to The Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu will be seeking to expand the 10-year “Memorandum of Understanding” under which Israel receives an annual $3.1 billion from Washington. It expires in 2017. Netanyahu hopes to increase that amount to $5 billion for the next 10 years. This comes amid a wave of violence that has killed at least 77 Palestinians and 10 Israelis since the beginning of October. According to a recent poll in Israel, 53% of Israelis support the killing of alleged attackers “then and there, even if he has been detained and is no longer a danger.”


Today marks the anniversary of two charmed events â€" the fall of the Berlin Wall and the first issue of Rolling Stone. Learn more in your shot of history.

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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

CAUCHARI — 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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