Wednesday, November 12, 2014
CHINA-U.S. AGREE ON GAS EMISSIONS
Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama signed a landmark deal to limit their greenhouse gas emissions, The Washington Post reports. China, for the first time, agreed to cap its output by 2030 or even earlier if possible, and pledged to increase the share of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix to 20% in the same period. The U.S. meanwhile will cut its emissions by 26 to 28% levels by 2025, compared to 2005 numbers. The deal was negotiated secretly by the world’s two biggest carbon polluters, who together account for 40% of the world’s emissions. Obama described the plan as “a major milestone in U.S.-China relations.” Making a similar statement in The New York Times, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry explains that “we need to solve this problem together because neither one of us can solve it alone.”
D-DAY FOR ROSETTA MISSION
The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission is in the final hours of an unprecedented attempt to land on the surface of a comet. The spacecraft successfully released its Philae lander early Wednesday, ahead of the planned landing today on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a large mass of ice and dust some 510 million kilometers from Earth, the BBC reports. If successful, the mission would mark a turning point in space exploration history. Much of the difficulty in landing on the comet is its low gravity. “It's all down to Isaac Newton and the laws of physics now,” said Professor Mark McCaughrean, senior science adviser at the European Space Agency. You can follow the landing here. In the meantime, this series of pictures of the comet are just what you need to relive the 10-year mission, and better understand how it works and what it could teach us.
BIG BANKS FINED OVER FOREX SCANDAL
Five of the world’s biggest banks have been collectively fined $3.16 billion for conspiring to manipulate the $5.3-trillion-a-day foreign currency market, The New York Times reports. The UK’s HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Swiss bank UBS and American banks JP Morgan Chase and Citibank have all been fined by British, U.S. and Swiss regulators. Barclays pulled out of the settlement talks but the probe continues, while Bloomberg writes that Deutsche Bank is also being investigated. “Today’s record fines mark the gravity of the failings we found and firms need to take responsibility for putting it right,” the head of Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority said.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
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Afghanistan’s opium cultivation expanded to a record-high 553,000 acres in 2014.
RUSSIA-IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL
Moscow and Tehran reached a deal late Tuesday that will see Russia build two more nuclear reactors in Iran, and possibly another six later, a move that Iran’s top nuclear official described as “a turning point in the relations between our countries,” RT reports. This comes less than two weeks before a November 24 deadline for Iran to sign a deal on curbing its nuclear program with six world powers, including the U.S. and Russia. According to the Los Angeles Times, the reactors will however be operated under the UN’s supervision, a step aimed at reassuring the West that the program won’t be used for military purposes.
After hundreds of years of reducing our physical activity with the help of machines, we now find we need to move to remain healthy. A friendly city is one that forces you to walk more, this Clarin essay opines: “Just as we are about to reach the evolutionary dream of not having to move much, we find ourselves having to think about cities that force us to do so. Fewer than 100 years ago, most of us were engaged in manual work — carrying bags, painting, digging or plowing the fields. Physical activity was a normal part of our lives. Today, we have to go to a gym to move our limbs a bit, and many of us don't even do that much.”
Read the full article, A City Should Force You Off Your Arse.
SECOND EBOLA DEATH IN MALI
Mali recorded its second Ebola death, a nurse who had treated an infected man from Guinea at a clinic which is now in quarantine in the capital Bamako, Reuters reports. The woman was however the first to have contracted the disease in the West African country, the first victim being a two-year old girl from Guinea. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew urged the International Monetary Fund to write off $100 million of the $372 million collectively owed by Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the three countries worst hit by the virus, which has killed nearly 5,000 people.
BUSH TO BUSH: RUN IN 2016
Former U.S. President George W. Bush has made clear who he’d like to see in the White House next.
FAIL TO SAIL
Rookie rowers at New York’s Snowflake Regatta 2014 proudly present you this video of highly cringeworthy rowing.