Friday, November 14, 2014
G20 IN AUSTRALIA
The summit season continues with a meeting of the G20 this weekend in Australia, where Prime Minister Tony Abbott is hoping to postpone climate change talk in favor of focusing on a growth target, The Sydney Morning Herald reports. But his wish will likely be challenged by U.S. President Barack Obama, who will pledge at least $2.5 billion over the next four years “to help poor countries invest in clean energy and cope with rising seas and extreme weather,” The Guardian reports.
Renewed tensions in Ukraine are also likely to draw the summit’s attention, as a Russia convoy is expected to cross the Ukraine border today. Moscow officials describe it as a new humanitarian convoy, but it comes after four Russian warships were deployed off the northeastern coast of Australia. The Australian press have described it as a provocation. Russia justified the decision, saying that the ships are testing their range capability in the event they are needed for climate change research in the Antarctic.
Rome's mayor yesterday ordered 45 children evacuated from an immigration center in Tor Sapienza, a poor neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of the capital.
ISIS LEADER IS ALIVE
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to be alive after an audio recording emerged in which he reportedly urges followers to “erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere,” The Independent reports. In the recording, al-Baghdadi refers to a U.S. announcement last Friday that 1,500 troops would be sent to Iraq, suggesting that he wasn’t killed in airstrikes that targeted ISIS terror leaders the following weekend. The airstrikes in which he was allegedly wounded aren’t mentioned. He also called for expanding the caliphate to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Algeria, and said that the U.S. operation was failing, forcing Washington to send ground forces to their deaths. This comes amid reports that ISIS and the al-Qaeda branch in the region, al-Nusra Front, have agreed to join forces.
Meanwhile, ISIS announced yesterday its intention to mint its own currency in gold, silver and copper, a move “purely dedicated to God" aimed at removing Muslims from the "global economic system that is based on satanic usury,” CNN quotes ISIS as saying.
The Iraqi government and the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq reached an agreement yesterday over oil exports and budget payments, ending a months-long standoff over a Kurdish decision to export oil produced in their region directly to Turkey and not through the Iraqi Oil Ministry, The New York Times reports. But the deal failed to address thornier issues, including control of Kirkuk oil fields, which the Kurdish authorities seized during the summer’s ISIS offensive.
Alexander Grothendieck, considered the 20th century's most accomplished mathematician, died at age 86 Thursday in the French town of Saint-Girons.
BURKINA FASO AGREES ON TRANSITION
Nearly two weeks after Burkino Faso President Blaise Compaoré was ousted, the country’s military, political and civil leaders have agreed on a framework for transition to civilian rule, the BBC reports. Under the agreement, an interim president will be chosen by a special college composed of religious, military, political, civil and traditional leaders, and elections will be held next year. “The revolution is on. Now we have a real democracy,” a civil activist told AFP.
For more of the uprising in Ouagadougou, we offer this Le Monde/Worldcrunch piece: Burkina Faso, Sweet Revenge For "Sankara's Children".
As Les Echos’ Frédéric Therin reports, today’s cocoa plantations are too small and unproductive to meet global demand for chocolate. Industrialists have decided to intervene to help poor cocoa farmers and to save an indulgence beloved the world over. “‘It’s when we registered a cocoa demand greater than global production for the fifth consecutive year that everyone became aware of the problem we're facing,’ says Jürgen Steinemann, general manager of Barry Callebaut, the company that emerged from the fusion between the French Cacao Barry and the Belgian Callebaut in 1996. ‘It’s impossible to replace cocoa to make chocolate.’ And this shortage is starting to have a real impact on chocolate makers.”
Read the full article, Because No One Wants To Imagine A World Without Chocolate.
THE PLANES THAT SPY ON YOUR PHONE
The U.S. Justice Department is using devices deployed on airplanes to mimic cellphone towers and collect mobile data, The Wall Street Journal reports. Though the technology is officially aimed at tracking criminals, the newspaper reports that it also scoops data from the phones of innocent people, with the devices later determining which belong to non-suspects. The report also notes that the “dirtbox” devices can sometimes interrupt calls, though authorities are reportedly careful that calls to 911 are not affected, and that encryption systems on smartphones don’t prevent the collecting process.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
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AMAZON AND HACHETTE SETTLE DISPUTE
Internet retailer Amazon and French publishing house Hachette have reached a deal on ebook prices, ending a months-long dispute that led Amazon to reduce discounts for Hachette books and sometimes delayed the shipment of the publisher’s titles. Yesterday’s agreement is “an important victory” for Hachette, according to The New York Times. Beginning in January, the French publisher will have more control over the price of its ebooks. An analyst, however, told the newspaper that “in the end this all cements Amazon’s ultimate long-term role in this business, which will only put Hachette right back in this situation every time they are up for renegotiation.”
Fifty-six minutes is all it took for Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer to demolish Scotland's Andy Murray yesterday 6-0/6-1 in a round-robin match of London's ATP World Tour Finals.