NOV. 13 ATTACKS COORDINATED IN REAL TIME
The three terrorist commandos that carried out the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris, killing 130 people, were being coordinated in real time by at least one unknown man in Belgium, Le Monde reports. The three groups were in contact with the coordinator throughout the night using cell phones that had been activated just 24 hours before the attacks. The revelations shed a new light on how the attacks were planned and executed. They suggest that Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected mastermind who died in a shootout with the police on Nov. 18, wasnâ€™t the sole coordinator.
- A U.S. military spokesman said yesterday that Charaffe al-Mouadan, an ISIS fighter with a â€œdirect linkâ€ to Abaaoud, was among several jihadists killed in recent airstrikes of the U.S.-led coalition in Syria.
- Turkish police arrested two ISIS terrorists in Ankara who were reportedly planning suicide bomb attacks on New Yearâ€™s Eve, tomorrow, according to Hürriyet.
Photo: Lu Hanxin/Xinhua/ZUMA
Excavators and bulldozers are shown working at the site of the Dec. 20 landslide in the Hengtaiyu Industrial Park in Shenzhen, China, that left 7 people dead and 75 missing.
RUSSIA IMPOSES NEW SANCTIONS ON TURKEY
Turkish companies will be barred from construction, tourism, accommodations and guest services in Russia starting Jan. 1, as part of the latest wave of sanctions to hit Ankara after a Turkish forces shot down a Russian warplane in Syria, Sputnik News reports. The decree, signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, comes after similar sanctions against Turkish food products and charter flights to Russia.
â€œIâ€™ll be spending a minimum of $2 million dollars a week â€" and perhaps substantially more than that,â€ GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said yesterday, ahead of 2016 primaries. â€œIâ€™m proud of the fact I can spend the least, but now I'm going to spend anyway,â€ he continued, saying he didnâ€™t â€œwant to take any chances.â€ As is often the case, Trump saved his best punchline for opponent Jeb Bush. â€œHe hasn't spent $40 million. Heâ€™s wasted $40 million. Thereâ€™s a big difference.â€
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC VOTES
Voters in the Central African Republic are hoping to put almost three years of deadly violence behind them during a presidential election that marks a first step towards reinstating democracy, France 24 reports. Thousands of people died, and one-fifth of the countryâ€™s population was displaced after Muslim rebel groups ousted President François Bozizé in March 2013.
ON THIS DAY
To quote todayâ€™s 57-second shot of history, â€œOH, WOW!â€
U.S. SPIED ON NETANYAHU
The U.S. National Security Agency spied on Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite President Barack Obamaâ€™s pledge to curtail surveillance of officials in allied countries, The Wall Street Journal reports. The eavesdropping took place while Washington was working to reach a nuclear energy agreement with Iran, a move that Israel strongly opposed. It covered the officialsâ€™ private conversations with their aides, as well as with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.
Shocked as we are by each new terror attack, we are no longer surprised. From Worldcrunch headquarters in Paris, our editor Jeff Israely weighs this troubling year with others before it and how it will go down in history. â€œLiving abroad helps to identify some of the differences in the way we view history and the human will on either side of the Atlantic,â€ he writes. â€œAmericans are taught that we are masters of our own destiny, and maybe yours too. Europeans are instead masters of perspective, believers that destiny is shaped by systems, interests and an endless supply of relativity that comes along that continuum of history. Still, despite absorbing some European attitudes, I canâ€™t help but fall victim to the vanity of our times. Maybe itâ€™s my American roots, or perhaps the effect of working in the news business, which needs a new front page every day. Or it might simply be a question for Yogi Berra: If we are not vain about ourselves, who will be?â€
Read the full article, Paris 2015: Memory, Vanity And Historyâ€™s New Continuum.
Appleâ€™s Italian subsidiary will pay 318 million euros ($347 million) to settle an investigation into tax fraud allegations, La Repubblica reports. The Cupertino giant is accused of failing to pay 880 million euros ($962 million) in tax to Italian authorities between 2008 and 2013.
MY GRAND-PÈREâ€™S WORLD
SAVING MATT DAMON
Matt Damonâ€™s unquestionable acting talent is matched by his knack for roles in which he needs to be saved. And we now know just how much these rescue missions would cost if they were real. Hint: a lot more than youâ€™re thinking.
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.
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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