Stampede Blame Game, Capped Carbon, iPad Robot

Stampede Blame Game, Capped Carbon, iPad Robot


Saudi Arabia’s King Salman ordered a swift investigation and safety review after yesterday’s stampede during the annual Hajj Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca left at least 717 people dead and 863 hurt, Al Arabiya reports.

  • Health Minister Khalid al-Falih’s comment that the tragedy may have happened because “pilgrims moved without following instructions” sparked intense criticism, not least from Iran, where most of the victims who have been identified so far originated. The BBC reports that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the Saudi government, saying “mismanagement and improper actions have caused this catastrophe.” Witnesses interviewed by AFP also pointed to police tactics and unpreparedness.


Photo: Ron Sachs/CNP/ZUMA

“Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?” Pope Francis said in an address to Congress yesterday, delivering a scalding criticism of mass weapon sales. “Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.” Read more from The Intercept.


German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière strongly criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow refugees to enter the country from Hungary earlier this month, describing the situation as chaotic, weekly Der Spiegel reports. Speaking on the television network ZDF (at 33:30), Maizière, a member of the Merkel-led Christian Democratic Union, said the situation “had gotten out of control because of the decision to bring people from Hungary to Germany.” He added that “it was such a large number that it became impossible to count.”


Nicolas Sarkozy’s bid to return to France’s top job in 2017 has been marred by a series of unfortunate Freudian slips. The latest, reported by Public Sénat, came yesterday at a party meeting. “Personal ambitions have to come before â€" after â€" public interest,” he said. A few weeks ago, the leader of France’s center-right party said that “France has always been on the side of dictators.”


The White House announced yesterday that President Obama will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at next week’s United Nations assembly in New York. This will be the first meeting between the two leaders in almost a year and Putin’s first appearance at the UN assembly in a decade. It will likely focus on Ukraine and Syria, where Russia has begun to boost its military support for the Assad government in the fight against ISIS. “There is no other solution to the Syrian crisis than strengthening the effective government structures and rendering them help in fighting terrorism,” Putin told CBS News 60 Minutes, arguing that toppling Assad in Syria would create a situation like those in Iraq and Libya. According to The Daily Telegraph, Western countries appear to no longer oppose Assad staying on, at least during a transition.


At first glance, nothing distinguishes Stockholm’s Rainbow House from any other retirement home. The 27 rooms or apartments, between 45 and 70 square meters (450 to 750 square feet), line the long linoleum corridors with their mural bars, plants and large doors for better wheelchair access. Residents pay between 600 and 700 euros per month, Le Monde’s Jordan Pouille reports. “But there are those huge photographs that surprise visitors when they step out of the elevator. They show seniors on the outskirts of a forest. The higher you go, the more euphoric they seem, and the trees further and further away. ‘This series is called, Here we come,’ the home’s founder explains. The pictures, by Annica Karlsson Rixon, a well-known lesbian artist, were taken on the Djurgarden island in the eastern reaches of Stockholm, and have a symbolic meaning. ‘In Western societies, when people retire, they step out of the frame of interest. For homosexuals, growing old can also carry the fearsome meaning of returning to the closet.’”

Read the full article, Rainbow House, Sweden’s Groundbreaking LGBT Retirement Home.


Chinese President Xi Jinping will use his White House meeting with the president today to announce a landmark commitment to curb carbon emissions, The Washington Post reports. The nationwide cap-and-trade system will impose a ceiling on carbon emissions, and companies that pollute more than the limit will be financially penalized. The announcement from the world’s biggest carbon polluter is part of an attempt to establish a global strategy to cap emissions and tackle climate change at a December climate conference in Paris.


A majority of people polled in the U.S., UK and Germany told YouGov they believed in intelligent extraterrestrial life. According to the study, Germans are the most likely to believe in aliens, with 56%, followed by 54% of Americans and 52% of Brits. Interestingly, one in four believers think that aliens willingly choose to ignore us.


The board at scandal-engulfed Volkswagen is expected to name the company’s new CEO today after Martin Winterkorn resigned Wednesday in the wake of revelations about the company’s falsified diesel emissions. Current Porsche chief executive Matthias Müller is reportedly the favorite to succeed Winterkorn, Deutsche Welle reports. The German car manufacturer’s stocks have dropped 30% since the news about the rigged emissions broke last Friday.


Peking opera â€" which combines music, mime, dance and acrobatics â€" was born on this day 225 years ago. More in today’s shot of history.


Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will create a special new investigative team under the Attorney General’s supervision to look into last year’s disappearance and possible murders of 43 students, El Universal reports. The president announced his decision to the parents at a meeting yesterday, ahead of Saturday’s one-year anniversary of their disappearance. But according to the newspaper, this isn’t what parents had asked for. Instead, they had petitioned for a new investigation “under international supervision” that would both search for their children and examine the “fake story which was intended to deceive the families.”


Graphic video footage has emerged of Delaware police shooting to death an armed man in a wheelchair who apparently was attempting to commit suicide. Read more from NBC News.



Why bother queuing for the new iPhone when you can send an iPad robot instead?

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

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.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!