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Florentijn Hofman's "HippopoThames"
Florentijn Hofman's "HippopoThames"
Worldcrunch

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

SECOND ISIS BEHEADING VIDEO CONFIRMED
The U.S. Intelligence Community has authenticated the video published yesterday by ISIS which purported to show the beheading of another journalist, Steven Sotloff of dual American-Israeli citizenship, two weeks after similar footage of James Foley was released, The New York Times reports. Speaking from Estonia where he will hold security talks with Baltic countries over the Ukraine-Russia crisis, Barack Obama condemned the video as a “horrific act of violence.” “We will not be intimidated,” he said before vowing that “justice will be served.” Yesterday, Obama ordered the deployment of 350 extra troops in Iraq to protect the embassy in Baghdad.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is holding an emergency meeting to decide on what course to follow after a British hostage was threatened at the end of the Sotloff video.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says the executions of Foley and Sotloff are “unlikely to be the last” and warns of an “accelerated risk.”

Writing in The New York Times, two members of the European Council on Foreign Relations argue that the key to defeat ISIS lies in an alliance with Bashar al-Assad, while demanding that Iran and other allies to the Syrian President push him to accept “real power-sharing.”

EAST UKRAINE CLOSER TO CEASEFIRE
The possibility of a ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine appears closer than ever before since the beginning of the crisis after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had agreed by phone on a “permanent ceasefire in the Donbass region,” the BBC reports. Minutes after the report, the Kremlin watered down Poroshenko’s statement and explained that “Russia cannot physically agree on a ceasefire because it isn’t a party in the conflict.” Nonetheless RTreports that Putin’s spokesman indicated that the two leaders had “largely agreed” on steps towards an end to the violence in Eastern Ukraine.

A leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic said that the decision of a ceasefire was taken without them and denounced what he sees as “some sort of a game by Kiev,” Ria Novosti reports. Guardian journalist Alec Luhn also expressed doubt on the feasibility of a ceasefire, writing on Twitter that “Rebels in Donetsk say they don't think all Ukrainians will follow it.”

Russian investigators confirmed this morning the death of photojournalist Andrei Stenin, who had been missing since early August. According to the report, the car he was traveling in came under fire amid a Ukrainian army attack on pro-Russian rebels near Donetsk.

EBOLA RESPONSE “TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE”
As Ebola keeps spreading in West Africa, humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders warned yesterday that “the world is losing the battle to contain it” as the response offered so far has been “too little, too late,” The Washington Post reports. The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also sounded the alarm and said that the “window of opportunity” to bring the epidemic under control was closing. At least 3,069 people have already been infected and more than 1,500 have died. This comes amid good news from London, where the first British patient to contract Ebola has been discharged from hospital after making a full recovery. He was treated with the experimental drug ZMapp, which has shown positive results on monkeys. Read more from Bloomberg.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
In Cairo-based Madr Masr, writer Moritz Mihatsch offers some hard thinking about the reach of ISIS, arguing that the Islamist group presents a challenge to the most basic way the world has been organized for hundreds of years. “While all these developments were mere modifications of the Westphalian system, the Islamic State wants to eliminate the system completely. Reflected in its name change from the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" to simply "Islamic State," the movement does not aim to establish governance within specific borders, but rejects borders as such.”
Read the full article: A Post-Westphalian Caliphate? Deconstructing ISIS Ambitions.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD
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ISRAEL TO RECEIVE FOURTH GERMAN SUBMARINE
Israel is about to receive its fourth German-built Dolphin-class submarine, which Arutz Sheva describes as a “state-of-the-art vessel” that can carry nuclear warheads. Two more submarines are on the way, with the sixth expected to be delivered in 2017. Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Israel is “lobbying world powers anew” ahead of the next round of talks on Iran’s nuclear capabilities later this month. Israel fears that Tehran will use its nuclear programs for weapons and opposes the negotiations. The Minister for strategic affairs Yuval Steinitz said he would go to Washington with a delegation next week.

JAPAN TO RESUME WHALE HUNTING DESPITE BAN
Japan announced its intention to resume the hunt of minke whales in the Antarctic Ocean next year, despite an order from the UN International Court of Justice banning such activities in the area, AFP reports. According to an official from the Japan Fisheries Agency, whaling ships will collect "data necessary to calculate the number of whale catch allowed.” Minke whales are believed to be more numerous in the Antarctic than other whales, which have also been targeted by Japan in the past.

SHE SAID IT
Valérie Trierweiler, jilted ex-companion of French President Francois Hollande, has published a tell-almost-all memoir about their relationship.

49.7%
This September marks a tipping point for the changing face of American schools.

HIPPOPOTHAMES
Florentijn Hofman, the Dutch artist behind the giant rubber duck that sailed down the Thames in 2012, has done it again, unveiling a 21-meter-long hippo float as part of London's Totally Thames festival.

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Green

China Can't Kick Its Coal Habit

China has endured two months of scorching heatwaves and drought that have affected power supply in the country. Spooked by future energy security, Beijing is reinvesting heavily in coal with disastrous implications for climate change.

The Datang International Zhangjiakou Power Plant shown at dusk in Xuanhua District of Zhangjiakou City, north China's Hebei Province.

Guangyi Pan and Hao Yang*

Two months of scorching heatwaves and drought plunged China into an energy security crisis.

The southwest province of Sichuan, for example, relies on dams to generate around 80% of its electricity, with growth in hydropower crucial for China meeting its net-zero by 2060 emissions target.

Sichuan suffered from power shortages after low rainfall and extreme temperatures over 40℃ dried up rivers and reservoirs. Heavy rainfall this week, however, has just seen power in Sichuan for commercial and industrial use fully restored, according to official Chinese media.

The energy crisis has seen Beijing shift its political discourse and proclaim energy security as a more urgent national mission than the green energy transition. Now, the government is investing in a new wave of coal-fired power stations to try to meet demand.

In the first quarter of 2022 alone, China approved 8.63 gigawatts of new coal plants and, in May, announced C¥ 10 billion (around $1.4 billion) of investment in coal power generation. What’s more, it will expand the capacity of a number of coal mines to ensure domestic supply as the international coal market price jumped amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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