Iran Deadline, ISIS Loses Tikrit, April Fools

Iran Deadline, ISIS Loses Tikrit, April Fools

Tehran and the six world powers gathered in Lausanne, Switzerland failed to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before yesterday evening’s deadline but talks have resumed this morning for a seventh consecutive day. According to Iranian news agency Tasnim, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was hopeful the leaders could start drafting a deal in the next hours. His Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov said that a preliminary deal had been reached on "all key aspects" though “technical details” for a final agreement might not be cleared until June. Here’s the latest from the Associated Press.

After weeks of intense fighting, the Iraqi army and Shia militias have recaptured the city of Tikrit, the hometown of former leader Saddam Hussein, from ISIS, Al Jazeera reports. The army has reached the center and are now clearing parts of the city where ISIS troops remain. Fighting continues on the outskirts of Tikrit. As CNN explains, this first major victory against ISIS paves the way for a “bigger prize,” the city of Mosul which Baghdad hopes to retake in the coming weeks.


We dare you not to sing “the harder they come, the harder they fall” after watching your 57-second shot of history. (Plus a great April Fool’s prank from the BBC from 58 years ago!)

The victory of challenger Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential election in Nigeria, Africa's biggest and richest country, was making big headlines around the world Wednesday. At home, the daily Nigerian Tribune covered the results and reactions of Buhari's victory over incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan. "Our country has now joined the community of nations that have used the ballot box to peacefully change an incumbent president in a free and fair election," Buhari said in a speech Wednesday at his party headquarters in the capital Abuja.

President Barack Obama announced yesterday the U.S. would resume its supply of military equipment to Egypt, which was frozen after the military ousted Mohamed Morsi in August 2013. Commenting on Obama’s decision, journalist Glenn Greenwald said it was “as unsurprising as it is noxious.” This comes as Egyptian President Al-Sisi is leading together with Saudi Arabia and Qatar the ongoing “Decisive Storm” military operation in Yemen.


Lies and mistrust are spreading throughout society, destroying the relationships between people and states. How could it get this far?, asks Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Stefan Ulrich. “Lies can save lives if they are aimed at preventing mass hysteria. Lies can be viewed as a forgivable sin because everyone expects to be lied to — for example during election time. And lies can even become truths. In 2008 Chancellor Angela Merkel and then Minister of Finance Peer Steinbrueck reassured the citizens that their saving deposits were safe. That was a lie when spoken. But because many believed it at the time, the confidence inspired made it become the truth.”
Read the full article, Lying Power, Humans Can't Always Handle The Truth.

Palestine officially becomes a member of the International Criminal Court today, with the Palestinian Authority aiming to pursue Israel for alleged war crimes during its military operations in Gaza and for its building settlements on Palestinian territory. Read more from The Daily Telegraph.

Photo: storydumonde via Instagram
Japan’s Misao Okawa, the world's oldest person, has died just a few weeks after celebrating her 117th birthday. Her “successor” is Gertrude Weaver of Arkansas, who was born on July 4, 1898. We’ll let you do the math.

It’s that time of year again when journalists are getting their facts wrong ... on purpose. Here’s a selections of our best finds:

P.S. You can now play Pac-Man in Google Maps.

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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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