ISIS Nears Baghdad, Kirchner's Ire, Smell Of A Moon

Cambodian migrants wait in an army truck to return home from Thailand.
Cambodian migrants wait in an army truck to return home from Thailand.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant have gained control of parts of Baquba, a town 37 miles north of Baghdad, as they continue their march towards the capital. Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama announced he would send 275 troops “to provide support and security for U.S. personnel and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad,” USA Today reports. Speaking to The Washington Post, former military commanders said that even carrying airstrikes against ISIS insurgents might be difficult and warned that any mission might draw the country back into the civil war.

“There is a difference between negotiation and extortion,” Argentina President Cristina Kirchner said during a televised address. She was lashing out at hedge funds that are seeking repayment on bonds, saying that Argentina never had any intention of defaulting on its debt.

Almost 180,000 Cambodians working in Thailand have fled the country amid fears of a crackdown from the new military regime on illegal migrant workers, AFP reports. Thai and Cambodian authorities both denied the allegations. “The reports about shootings, the reports about other abuses are rumors and are not true. It’s been taken out of context,” The Nation quotes the Cambodian ambassador in Bangkok as saying. Last week, a spokesman for Thailand’s army said that the large number of illegal migrants, a workforce on which the country relies, were a “threat.”

A Hong Kong investment fund announced Tuesday it will buy the Paris Marriott Hotel Champs-Elysées for 344.5 million euros.

Fresh fighting erupted near the Russian border as Ukrainian troops tried to regain control of rebel-held areas, Reuters reports. Some 30 Ukrainian fighters were injured today, while Kiev authorities said that 125 soldiers had died since the beginning of what it calls an “anti-terrorist operation” in eastern Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry denied accusations that Kiev had used white phosphorus bombs near Sloviansk.

Israeli soldiers have arrested another 41 Palestinians in the West Bank as their search for three Israeli students who went missing last week continues. According to AP, more than 200 people have already been arrested, most of them from Hamas, including the Palestinian parliamentary speaker. And a 19-year-old was shot dead. It is still unclear who abducted the young Israelis, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed Hamas. Israel’s daily newspaper Haaretz writes that the scale of the Israeli response and the statements from officials are intended to drive “a wedge between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.”


Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab launched a new attack near the Kenyan town of Mpeketoni, killing at least 10 people, two days after a similar raid that killed 48 people, for which it claimed responsibility, the BBC reports. A spokesman for the group told Reuters, "Our operations in Kenya will continue."
In Nigeria, the army arrested 486 Boko Haram suspects, as the Islamist organization threatened to attack again the town of Chibok, where it abducted over 200 young girls two months ago. Read more from the Nigerian Tribune.

Twenty years after 95 million Americans followed O.J. Simpson’s car chase on TV, USA Today went hunting for his white Ford Bronco.

As La Stampa’s Antonio Salvati writes, the mobsters in Italy’s Camorra crime syndicate take their gang dress code — and tattoos — very seriously. “Tattoos and the mafia date back to the early nineteenth century, when members of the Camorra loved to cover their skin to prove their loyalty and permanency, especially when they were in prison,” the journalist writes. “Two centuries later, a splinter group — drug traffickers from Scampia and Secondigliano — can be identified by their Rolexes. Those who can't afford the real thing have the iconic crown of the Swiss watchmakers inked onto their wrists.”
Read the full article, In Naples, Fashion And Tattoos Mark A Real Mobster.

NASA recreated the smell of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Find out why here.

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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

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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