JIHADISTS ATTACK MALI HOTEL
Ten gunmen screaming â€œAllahu Akbarâ€ (â€œGod is greaterâ€) stormed the luxurious Radisson Blu Hotel this morning in the Mali capital of Bamako, initially taking at least 140 guests and 30 staff members hostage, Reuters reports. Eighty hostages have since been freed, but citing an unnamed UN official, CNN reports that at least three people have been killed in the attack, two Malians and a French national. Some hostages who were able to recite verses of the Koran were reportedly freed. A police assault is currently underway. Follow the latest updates on the BBC live blog.
EU LEADERS CONSIDER TIGHTER BORDERS
EU interior ministers are holding emergency talks about Europeâ€™s border security today, with Franceâ€™s Bernard Cazeneuve urging the bloc to â€œwake up, organise itself and defend itself,â€ France 24 reports. Details of how last Fridayâ€™s attacks in Paris were prepared as well as their aftermath revealed major security failures in the open-border Schengen Area. At least some of the terrorists were able to travel to and from Syria unnoticed, even those with an outstanding international arrest warrant such as mastermind Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was killed in a police raid yesterday. The leaders are expected to agree to tighter controls for Schengenâ€™s external borders. According to Politico, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are also considering forming a mini-Schengen of their own.
- Security footage has emerged showing Abaaoud in a Paris Metro station after Friday nightâ€™s attacks, not far from where one the cars used for the attacks was found. Read more from Reuters.
- According to Le Monde, body parts belonging to a third person, a woman, have been found in the rubble left after Wednesdayâ€™s police operation in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. Investigators also found a passport belonging to Hasna Ait Boulahcen, Abaaoudâ€™s cousin, who blew herself up during the raid.
- The French military reports that French Army applications have tripled since Fridayâ€™s attacks.
- On the Syrian front, Kuwaitâ€™s Interior Ministry announced the countryâ€™s security agencies had busted an international cell that was sending air defense systems and funds to ISIS. Some of the weaponry was coming from Ukraine and transported to Syria via Turkey, Al Jazeera reports.
- Turkish authorities, meanwhile, said they had seized two tons of the powerful amphetamine Captagon, or 11 million pills, near the Syrian border, AFP reports. The drug is a significant source of revenue and often dubbed as the drug of choice for jihadists. A recent report in The Washington Post explained that it allows fighters to â€œstay up for days, killing with a numb, reckless abandon.â€
- Take a look at the covers of weekly news magazines around the world being published today, a week after the attacks.
ON THIS DAY
International justice was born 70 years ago today at the biggest trial in history, in Nuremberg. That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.
U.S. VOTES TO TOUGHEN REFUGEE SCREENING
The U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to increase screening mechanisms for Syrian and Iraqi refugees who want to enter the country, with 289 votes in favor and 137 against, The Hill reports. The vote came amid fears that terrorists could enter the U.S. posing as refugees, with the Obama administration planning to welcome 10,000 asylum seekers. The newspaper reports that last-minute lobbying against the bill actually had the reverse effect on many Democrats.
Miners in Botswana have discovered the worldâ€™s second-largest. gem-quality diamond, a 1,111-carat stone that an expert told AFP has â€œthe potential to be one very expensive diamond.â€ It is second only to the 3,106-carat Cullinan diamond found in South Africa in 1905. It was later separated into nine stones, some of which are part of the British Crown Jewels.
NEW CASE OF EBOLA IN LIBERIA
The World Health Organization announced this morning a confirmed new case of Ebola in Liberia, which was declared free of the virus in September.
The power of â€œBig Tobaccoâ€ in a state-run industry in China is surprisingly similar to the hold that U.S. cigarette makers long enjoyed. Indeed, Chinese anti-smoking advocates are decades behind Western counterparts, Caixin reports. â€œAccording to a recent WHO project report, China has more than 300 million smokers. That is nearly a quarter of its population. Each year over 1.4 million Chinese smokers die of tobacco-related diseases while more than 100,000 people are killed by second-hand smoke. Not only is China the worldâ€™s largest tobacco manufacturer and has the largest number of smokers, smoking still exists in 70% of workplaces and 82% of restaurants, while tobacco ads are omnipresent in Chinese peopleâ€™s daily lives.â€
Read the full article, Why China Has So Many Smokers: Tobacco Lobby, Chinese-Style.
ISRAELI SPY RELEASED FROM U.S. JAIL
Jonathan Pollard, the American convicted and sentenced to life in prison for spying on behalf of Israel, has been released after spending 30 years in jail. But he wonâ€™t be allowed to leave the country and move to Israel as he requested, The New York Times reports.
MY GRAND-PÈREâ€™S WORLD
GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SALMON TO HIT U.S.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration yesterday approved the sale and consumption of salmon genetically modified to grow faster, making it the first genetically altered animal declared safe to eat, NBC News reports. Environmental groups have denounced the decision, saying that â€œfrankenfishâ€ shouldnâ€™t be approved. The FDA also said the genetically modified salmon wouldnâ€™t be labeled differently from naturally grown fish.
NEW ZEALAND FLAG REFERENDUM
New Zealand voters have begun receiving voting papers to say which of the four proposed flags theyâ€™d like to see replace their current one. Kiwis have less than a month to return their votes, and will later be asked to choose between the prefered alternative and the old flag, which is often confused with that of neighboring island Australia. But according to the New Zealand Herald and Prime Minister John Key, most people still prefer the original.
THE TWILIGHT ZONE
There is another dimension, one where the Beatles recorded a 13th album called Everyday Chemistry. Or at least thatâ€™s what this story says.
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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