Welcome to Friday, where COVID spikes in Asia, Germany formally recognizes its second 20th-century genocide and a fugitive in New Zealand went the wrong way in a helicopter. Berlin daily Die Welt introduces us to an openly gay Catholic priest, whose Sunday Mass is always full.
• UN to investigate war crimes over Israeli-Hamas conflict: The UN Human Rights Council has voted to investigate violence in the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas. The United States worries this decision would threaten the progress of bringing calm to the region.
• Syria's Assad wins fourth term: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad won a fourth term in office with 95% of the votes in an election criticized by Western countries as not free or open. The country has been devastated by a ten-year conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven 11 million people — about half the population — from their homes.
• Hong Kong tycoon Jimmy Lai sentenced: Jailed Hong Kong media tycoon and Beijing critic Jimmy Lai has been sentenced to 14 months in prison over his participation in a pro-democracy rally last year.
• Germany recognizes colonial crimes in Namibia as genocide: Germany has officially recognized that it committed genocide in Namibia, apologizing for its role in slaughter of Herero and Nama tribespeople between 1904-1908.
• COVID-19 spreading in Asia: South Asia has crossed 30 million COVID-19 cases on Friday. Japan says it will consider sharing some of its vaccine doses with Taiwan, which has seen a sudden spike in cases and only has 1% of its population inoculated. In Australia, the spread of the Indian variant of coronavirus has forced the city of Melbourne to enter its fourth lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic.
• Nike split with Neymar over sexual assault investigation: U.S. sportswear giant Nike announced that it will stop working with Neymar over his failure to cooperate with an internal investigation of sexual assault charges alleged in 2016 by an employee of the company. Neymar denies the charges, and the investigation was inconclusive.
• New Zealand fugitive rents helicopter to surrender: A fugitive New Zealand resident facing assault charges hired a helicopter to fly to a police station to turn himself in.
"The samba of mourning," titles Brazilian daily Estado de Minas as an homage to Rio de Janeiro-born singer and composer Nelson Sargento. The icon of samba and Brazilian popular music died at the age of 96 from coronavirus.
Seoul-based news agency Yonhap reports on neighboring North Korea's recent crackdown on skinny jeans, nose piercings and mullets (숭어, pronounced sung-eo), in an effort to prevent items of "capitalistic culture" from seeping into the country.
The openly gay priest shaking up the Catholic church in Germany
Holger Allmenroeder is a Catholic priest who is also openly gay. He supports gay and lesbian people, divorcees and those who have remarried. Traditionalists may find him alienating but his masses are well attended. Is he the future of the Church? asks Marlen Dannoritzer in German daily Die Welt.
Allmenroeder, 58, says gay and trans people often believe in God, but find themselves shut out from the Church. Recently, the debate about homosexuality in the Church was reignited when priests in a number of German parishes carried out blessings of same-sex unions. Allmenroeder was among them, blessing the unions of two couples. He says that the increased awareness was good, but he doesn't like to think of it as some form of protest. "Blessing same-sex unions should simply be normal."
Allmenroeder didn't see his homosexuality as a reason not to be ordained in the Catholic Church. He didn't want to hide it, although it meant many stumbling blocks were put in his way. When he applied to the seminary, he felt there was a lot of disapproval, especially from one particular man: "The Archbishop of Cologne at the time told me I would never be a priest. He said he would personally use his influence to stop me — simply because I was open about being gay." Instead of holding him back, Allmenroeder says these experiences have made him stronger.
More and more people are turning their backs on the Church. In 2019 alone, more than 272,000 German Catholics left the faith. Young people especially say that the Church is not authentic, that it is hypocritical and unapproachable. They are calling for a realignment, a more modern approach. Allmenroeder doesn't want to wait any longer. He wants to see female priests ordained, and says that women who have abortions shouldn't be judged. "The fact that the Church gets involved there is simply an expression of patriarchal structures."
➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com
After officially recognizing that it committed genocide during its colonial-era occupation of Namibia, Germany announced it would financially support the "reconstruction and the development" of the southern African country with a program worth more than 1.1 billion euros.
When Japan was in need, Taiwan sent us 2 million masks.
— Masahisa Sato, a top official of Japan's ruling party said the country should send some of the 400 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines it has secured. After being largely untouched by the pandemic, Taiwan has seen a sudden rise in cases, and has only 1% of its population vaccinated.
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.
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.
- Green Is Ugly: Style Problems Plague Clean Energy Push ... ›
- Solar Power: Researchers Map Out Colombia's Sunshine Hotspots ... ›
- EVs Start Moving Latin American Cities To Sustainability ... ›