Israel Ramps Up, Argentina Defaults, Post Office Meltdown

A lightning hits Calgary on Wednesday
A lightning hits Calgary on Wednesday

Thursday, July 31, 2014

As the conflict in Gaza continues, Israel announced it was calling up 16,000 extra reserve soldiers for its offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza — bringing the total of soldiers mobilized to 86,000. The BBC quotes Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying he is "determined" to destroy all militant tunnels from Gaza "with or without ceasefire."

The move comes as Israel pledged to investigate a strike on a UN-run school in the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza, which killed at least 16 people Wednesday. According to The New York Times, the UN’s initial assessment indicates that Israeli artillery hit the school where 3,300 Palestinians had taken refuge.

In a separate strike, Al Jazeera reports that at least 17 Palestinians were killed and 200 injured in a crowded market in the Shujayea neighborhood, an area Israel said was not included in Wednesday’s short-lived four-hour humanitarian ceasefire.

Argentina defaulted on its sovereign debt for the second time in 13 years, as last-minute negotiations for a settlement between the government and a group of bond-holders failed. Things couldn’t have come out worse, concludes Forbes. The Financial Times predicts that the default will worsen the country’s recession, trigger higher inflation and put pressure on foreign exchange reserves — which may lead to Argentina’s second devaluation this year.

Thing got pretty electric in Calgary last night.

Liberia is planning to shut down schools and several markets, and quarantine certain areas, in what The Guardian calls the “most stringent bid yet to curb” the Ebola epidemic that has raged for seven months across Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

According to Bart Janssens, director of operations for Doctors Without Borders, the outbreak is “absolutely not under control, and the situation keeps worsening."

Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma has declared a state of public health emergency in an effort to quarantine the epicenters of the disease, Reuters reports, while Ethiopia and Kenya have announced mandatory screenings to prevent the deadly virus from entering their borders.

Follow the latest developments on the Telegraph’s live feed.

After three days straight of fighting between pro-Russian rebel forces and the Ukrainian military near the crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, the Ukrainian government has called for a one-day ceasefire to allow the Russian-led international investigative team to study the debris of the crash. The July 17 incident killed all 298 people on board. Read more from RT here.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Parliament has rejected Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's resignation that he offered last week, AP reports.

Despite a ban on sea swimming during monsoon season, at least 19 people have drowned off the coast of Karachi in southern Pakistan. According to the BBC, the bathers were celebrating the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan fasting.

Taranto's ILVA steel plant, Europe's largest, emits toxic pollution that doctors believe has long been causing cancer in young victims and sky-high infant mortality — yet it still operates. La Stampa’s Grazia Longo talked to the children, their families, and those who try to help them: “Ambra, Michele and Luca — 4, 10 and 12, respectively — tell me stories about the masks they wore to school on the few days that they were able to leave the ward and attend classes. They tell me about their fantasies and dreams and any other thoughts they immerse themselves in so they don’t think about dying: a trip to the beach, the courage to fight against a treacherous enemy. They look at me with their eyes wide open, alert, and I wonder where they find the strength to be so curious about everything.“
Read the full article: In Italy, A Steel Plant Blamed For Decades Of Child Cancer.


Think you’re having a bad day? It’s probably nothing compared to this French woman’s complete breakdown at a post office. No knowledge of the French language is required to understand the video — but you might want to turn down the volume a bit.

— Crunched by Bertrand Hauger.

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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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