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Egypt Restricts Rescue Flights, Rumsfeld Responds, Kangaroo Gas

Egypt Restricts Rescue Flights, Rumsfeld Responds, Kangaroo Gas

EGYPT RESTRICTS UK RESCUE FLIGHTS

Egyptian authorities are restricting flights sent to rescue British tourists, who were stranded at the Sharm el-Sheikh airport after Saturday’s crash of a Russian plane, the BBC reports. Some 20 flights were planned to take British tourists back home today, but it appears that only about eight will depart. According to The Guardian, people on board those flights are only being allowed to take hand luggage and are being asked to leave the rest in Egypt, after British investigators said they believed the Russian aircraft was brought down by a bomb placed in the hold just before it departed from Sharm el-Sheikh.

  • U.S. President Barack Obama said yesterday that there is “a possibility that there was a bomb on board,” echoing comments from British Prime Minister David Cameron that a terrorist bomb is the most likely explanation for the crash that killed all 224 people on board. Meanwhile, Russian and Egypt leaders are still being cautious in their comments, saying it’s too early to draw conclusions.

  • The sometimes confusing and conflicting reports about last Saturday’s plane crash could be explained by geopolitics, Bloomberg contributor Leonid Bershidsky writes: “No party is credible, because their self-interest is plain to see.”

  • Both ordinary Russians and Kremlin officials are outraged about two cartoons published in the latest issue of Charlie Hebdo. “In our country we have a very loud word for this â€" blasphemy,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. “This has nothing to do with democracy, self-expression, nothing to do with anything â€" this is an abomination.”

CHEMICAL WEAPONS EVIDENCE IN SYRIA

There is evidence that anti-Assad groups fighting in Syria have used chemical weapons against one another, according to a report from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Reuters reports. The attack is believed to have taken place in August in the town of Marea, north of Aleppo, an area that ISIS controlled at the time. The report doesn’t specify which group is responsible for the use of sulfur mustard, although ISIS has faced such accusations from Kurdish fighters in the past.

VERBATIM

“Bush 41 is getting up in years,” former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in response to comments the senior George Bush made in his soon-to-be-published biography, Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey Of George Herbert Walker Bush. In the book, he describes Rumsfeld as “an arrogant fellow” who served his son badly during his leadership. “I don’t like what he did, and I think it hurt the president having his iron-ass view of everything,” he says in the book. He also had harsh words for Dick Cheney, his son’s vice president, whom he described as “very hard-line and very different from the Dick Cheney I knew and worked with.” Read more from The New York Times.

GERMANY TO SPEED THE ASYLUM PROCESS

The three parties in Germany’s coalition government agreed yesterday on plans to speed up the asylum process and to build three to five reception centers where refugees will be required to wait until a decision has been made on their applications, Der Spiegel reports. But opposition parties said the move wouldn’t guarantee a fair procedure, and questioned the feasibility of processing requests in a matter of weeks when it can take up to a year in other countries, according to Deutsche Welle.

  • Germany is expecting between 800,000 and one million refugees this year alone, despite growing worries about the influx and the potential lack of accommodations and resources. Official Interior Ministry figures published yesterday say that as many as 758,000 migrants have been registered so far this year.

  • Sweden, another primary destination for migrants, announced yesterday that it could no longer guarantee accommodation for new arrivals.

ON THIS DAY


Ready your clicking finger because we’ve got Tchaikovsky, Aussie royalty and Emma Stone in today’s shot of history.

IRAN BANS AMERICAN PRODUCTS

In a bid to boost the purchase of domestic products ahead of economic sanctions being lifted, Iran has decided to “stop entry of American consumer goods and to prohibit products that symbolize the presence of the United States in the country,” AFP reports.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD

DID EXXONMOBIL LIE ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE?

The state of New York is investigating ExxonMobil to determine whether the oil and gas giant lied to the public and its investors about the risks and financial costs of climate change, The Washington Post reports. Investigators believe that public statements the company made may have contradicted its own scientific research into climate change and how it would affect the company. “We unequivocally reject the allegations that ExxonMobil has suppressed climate change research,” the group’s vice president for public affairs said.

THE SUN KILLED LIFE ON MARS

NASA scientists believe that both a much hotter sun billions of years ago and solar storms could explain why an Earth-like Mars lost 99% of its atmosphere and water.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

In our dreams, it’s a world of joyful sharing. In reality, Internet commenters often offer little more than cheap shots and manipulation. As Nic Ulmi writes for Le Temps, researcher Joseph Reagle explores the history and degeneration of online invective in a new book. “In October 2000, two Silicon Valley engineers, James Hong and Jim Young, launched a website called ‘Hot or Not.’ The idea was to get Internet users to post pictures of themselves so other users could judge their attractiveness on a scale from 1 to 10. The pair didn’t really invent anything,” Ulmi writes. “The websites RateMyFace and AmIHot had both launched shortly before, with the very same idea. But Hong and Young hit the jackpot on the click market: A week after their website launched, it was getting two million visits per day. But the commenting culture has been facing a fundamental crisis for the last few years. In 2012, New York software developer Dave Winer, often cited as the first to have made comments possible on a blog, deactivated the function on his own website, though has recently looked for a new way to bring them back.”

Read the full article, The Dark, Decaying Underbelly Of Online Commenting.


SNAPSHOT

Photo: Agencia Estado/Xinhua/ZUMA

A dam burst yesterday at an iron ore mine near Mariana, Brazil, causing mudslides that killed at least 15 people. Forty-five people are still missing in the disaster, whose cause is still unknown.

TOOTING THEIR RESEARCH

“Aussie biologist Adam Munn gets very excited when he recounts the months he and his colleagues spent capturing kangaroo farts.”

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Green

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

Xinhua/ZUMA

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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