Philippines braces for super typhoon, the year’s strongest2 hours agoView galleryTyphoon Haiyan is pictured in this NOAA satellite handout image taken November 6, 2013 at 23:13 UTC. …MANILA (Reuters) – Authorities in the Philippines grounded air and sea transport on Thursday and urged fishing boats to return to port, as an approaching super typhoon, the most powerful storm on earth this year, gathered speed.Typhoon Haiyan is expected to make landfall early on Friday between the central islands of Samar and Leyte.With center winds of 215 kph (133 mph) and gusts of up to 250 kph, the storm, rated as category five, the most severe, was moving west-northwest at 33 kph in the Pacific Ocean.President Benigno Aquino appealed to citizens to evacuate danger zones. „I am calling for community teamwork and cooperation,” he said on national television and radio.Aquino said 100 coastal areas face the threat of storm surges, bringing waves higher than 5 m to 6 m, and ordered action by local officials to limit damage and loss of lives.Thousands of residents were moved from coastlines, river banks, and mountain slopes to safer spots, while military transport vehicles were put on standby.View gallery.”Typhoon Haiyan is pictured in this NOAA satellite handout image taken November 6, 2013 at 23:13 UTC. …Strong winds and heavy rain buffeted areas in the path of the storm, as the state weather bureau raised alert levels in more than 20 parts of the central Philippines.The coast guard suspended ferry operations, ordered a halt to fishing and warned deep-sea fishing boats to seek shelter or return to port. Carrier Cebu Pacific announced the suspension of more than 100 local flights.Hospitals were put on alert, with schools and some offices shut and power and communication lines turned off for safety.Officials used bullhorns to urge residents of coastal and upland villages to move to safer areas, as trees were trimmed and boats dragged to shore.The state weather bureau raised storm alert to level 4 on the coconut-growing islands of Samar and Leyte. Officials in 12 more central provinces also began stockpiling food, water and relief supplies.An estimated 10 million people face disruption from typhoon Haiyan, say international relief agencies that are stepping up operations to tackle the storm.”The humanitarian impact of Haiyan threatens to be colossal, not only in areas directly in its path, but also for nearby islands such as Bohol,” said Patrick Fuller of the International Federation of Red cross and Red Crescent Societies.Particularly vulnerable, he added, were thousands of people living in makeshift shelters on Bohol after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake last month that killed more than 200 people and displaced thousands.An average of 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year. In 2011, typhoon Washi killed 1,200 people, displaced 300,000 and destroyed more than 10,000 homes.In September, another category-five storm, typhoon Usagi, with central winds of 205 kph and gusts of up to 240 kph, battered the northern island of Batanes before causing damage in southern China.Bopha, last year’s strongest storm, flattened three coastal towns on the southern island of Mindanao, killing 1,100 people and wreaking damage estimated at $1.04 billion.(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
Olympic torch blasts into space for 1st spacewalkBy LAURA MILLS 1 hour agoView gallery MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian rocket soared into the cosmos Thursday carrying the Sochi Olympic torch and three astronauts to the International Space Station ahead of the first-ever spacewalk for the symbol of peace.Video streamed by the U.S. space agency NASA reported a flawless docking with the space station about six hours after the craft blasted off from Russia’s manned space facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.The unlit torch for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi is to be taken on a spacewalk Saturday, then return to Earth on Monday (late Sunday EST) with three departing space station astronauts.The arriving crew members Thursday were Russia’s Mikhail Tyurin, American Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata of Japan.Once the newcomers enter the space station following a long hatch-opening process, the orbiting lab will have nine people aboard for the first time since 2009. Fyodor Yurchikhin of Russia, NASA’s Karen Nyberg and Italian Luca Parmitano are the crew scheduled to return to Earth with the torch via a Monday landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan.The Olympic torch will not burn onboard the space outpost because lighting it would consume precious oxygen and pose a threat to the crew. The crew will carry the unlit torch around the station’s numerous modules before taking it out on a spacewalk.View gallery.”Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, center, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin, bottom and U.S. astronau …The Olympic torch was taken aboard the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis in 1996 for the Atlanta Summer Olympics, but this is the first it time it will be taken outside a spacecraft.”It’s a great pleasure and responsibility getting to work with this symbol of peace,” Tyurin told journalists on Wednesday before the launch.Russians Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazanskiy will take the torch out of the space station on Saturday while American Michael Hopkins remains inside.The four-month Sochi torch relay, which started in Moscow on Oct. 7, is the longest in the history of the Olympics. For most of the 65,000-kilometer (39,000-mile) route across Russia, it will travel by plane, train, car and even reindeer sleigh.Some 14,000 torch bearers are taking part in the relay that stops at more than 130 cities and towns.Last month, the Olympic flame traveled to the North Pole on a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker. Later this month it will sink to the bottom of the world’s deepest lake, Lake Baikal. In early February, it will reach the peak of Mount Elbrus, at 5,642 meters (18,510 feet) the highest mountain in Russia and Europe.The torch will be used to light the Olympic flame at Sochi’s stadium on Feb. 7, marking the start of the 2014 Winter Games that run until Feb. 23.___Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report.
A century of Camus, France’s unlikely literary giant4 hours ago RelaxnewsView galleryAlbert Camus once said that those who write clearly have readers, while those who write obscurely have commentators.By his own maxim, he must have been doing something right because, 100 years after his birth and more than half a century since his untimely death, Camus is still picking up new readers across the globe.His best known novel, „L’Etranger,” translated into English as either the „The Stranger” or „The Outsider”, has been published in more than 40 languages and has sold more than eight million copies, a remarkable achievement for what is a complex, morally ambiguous tale set in a racially divided, colonial world few people would now recognise.Born into poverty in French-ruled Algeria on November 7, 1913, Camus was an unlikely candidate to become one of the giants of 20th century literature.His mother was illiterate and partially deaf. His father, a farm worker, perished in one of the first major battles of World War I while Camus was still a babe in arms.Yet, by the age of 44 he was collecting the Nobel Prize for literature, an award he dedicated to the memory of the primary school teacher who had nourished his fledgling intellect with daily extra lessons and persuaded his reluctant family to allow him to take the exams that would open the doors to higher education.Camus made the most of the chance accorded him. After studying at the University of Algiers he moved to Paris during the dark days of Nazi occupation and embarked on a writing career as the main editorialist for Combat, an underground Resistance newspaper.By the time he died, in a car accident in 1960 at the age of 46, he had established himself as one of France’s most influential writers and thinkers, an intellectual sparring partner to the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.With his sharp cheekbones, turned-up collars and a Gauloise invariably dangling from his lip, Camus was one of the faces of the post-war Left Bank in Paris, his trademark look memorably captured in a Henri Cartier-Bresson photograph that is a defining image of that time.View gallery.”French writer Albert Camus (1913-1960) at home june 13, 1947 in a colorized photo. ©Rue des Arc …But Camus was never quite one of that particular crowd.His philosophical writings, which echoed some of the themes explored in his fiction — the absurdity of the human condition and the necessity of rebelling against it — were frequently savaged by contemporary critics.Politically, his ambivalent attitude towards Algerian demands for independence put him at odds with most of his contemporaries on the left. And at a time when the Communist Party held sway over many French intellectuals, his criticism of the Soviet Union’s authoritarianism led to some bitter clashes with Sartre and others.‘Football, without hesitation’-It was that independent spirit combined with an ability to express his ideas through compelling story-telling that explains why Camus remains widely read to this day, according to Frederic Worms, a professor of philosophy at top Paris graduate school ENS.”Camus lives on because his novels embody his philosophy in concrete human experience,” Worms told AFP. „His political commitments also survive because he maintained a fundamental line: don’t be taken in by illusions and don’t renounce your principles.”The great and the good of the world should all re-read Camus, as a safeguard and as a guide. He shows us that those who have the greatest power, also have the greatest duty — to do more.”In France, Camus has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years. According to his publisher Gallimard, sales of his works, some of which are still set texts in schools, rose by nearly five percent between 2008 and 2012.The writer’s positive image was also reflected in a 2010 proposal by the then president, Nicolas Sarkozy, for the writer’s remains to be moved from southern France to the Pantheon of national heroes in Paris, a plan that was eventually scuppered by the objections of his son, Jean Camus, to the memory of his father being „hijacked” by any politician.Plans for a major exhibition „Camus, the Rebel,” to mark the anniversary of his birth were abandoned after the original curator, historian Benjamin Stora, was sacked following a row with local officials in the southern town of Aix-en-Provence over the portrayal of colonial Algeria.That led to the culture ministry withdrawing funding, although a scaled-down exhibition, „Camus, Citizen of the World” has gone ahead along with a new stage production of „L’Etranger” and two other plays.Internationally, Camus’s appeal has broadened in recent years thanks in part to the discovery by many football fans of observations that provide the perfect riposte to those who regard the sport with disdain.Asked once by a friend which he preferred, football or the theatre, Camus replied: „Football, without hesitation.”Although his own spell as a goalkeeper for the junior team of Racing Universitaire d’Alger (RUA) was cut short by tuberculosis, Camus’s belief in football’s intrinsic values of bravery, fair play and solidarity remained intact.Late in his life he was to recall: „After many years during which I saw many things, what I know most surely about morality and the duty of man I owe to sport and learned it in the RUA.”
Russia launches Sochi Olympic torch into space2 hours agoView gallery Moscow (AFP) – Russia on Thursday launched into space a trio of Russian, Japanese and US astronauts carrying an unlit Olympic torch that will for the first time be taken on a spacewalk to mark the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.The Soyuz-FG rocket and Soyuz-TMA capsule, emblazoned with the symbols of the Sochi Games and the Olympic rings, blasted off from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the International Space Station (ISS) at 8:14 am Moscow time (0414 GMT).The Soyuz-TMA capsule carrying NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Russia’s Mikhail Tyurin and Japan’s Koichi Wakata then docked with the ISS slightly ahead of schedule after four orbits of the Earth just over six hours later, the Russian space agency Roscomos said.”The Soyuz TMA-11M manned capsule docked successfully with the ISS at 14:27 Moscow time (10:27 GMT),” Roscosmos said. The astronauts are set to open their hatch and go through into the ISS at around 4:40 pm Moscow time (12:40 GMT).In an unprecedented move, two Russian cosmonauts who are already on board the ISS are set to take the torch on a space walk from 1430 GMT on Saturday aimed at promoting the Sochi Games.View gallery.”Graphic showing the route of the Olympic torch, including its visit to space (AFP Photo/)Russian officials have made it clear that the torch will remain unlit at all times for safety reasons.The cosmonauts will hold a photo session in open space with the torch, which will be tethered with a special strap, and then carry out essential work. The torch will spend more than five hours outside the ISS.”We all understand and have a responsible attitude because the torch is a symbol and therefore it needs to be treated with respect and maybe even reverence,” cosmonaut Tyurin said ahead of the launch in televised comments.The Olympic torch was carried into space ahead of the 1996 and 2000 Olympics in Atlanta and Sydney but has never before been taken on a spacewalk.However, Russia’s efforts to promote the Sochi Games as a symbol of its post-Soviet transformation have been tarnished by rows over a law seen as anti-gay as well as allegations of corruption in the vast construction needed for the event.View gallery.”Russian astronaut Mikhail Tyurin holds the Olympic torch while Japan’s Koichi Wakata and US astronau …Polar bear Sochi talisman-On the ISS, the newly arrived astronauts will join six incumbent crew, station commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Russia and flight engineers Karen Nyberg of NASA, Italy’s Luca Parmitano, Russian Oleg Kotov, NASA’s Mike Hopkins and Russian Sergei Ryazansky.After a brief stay on the ISS, the torch will then be taken back to Earth by the three astronauts now finishing their five-and-a-half-month mission on the ISS. They are due to touch down in Kazakhstan on Monday at 0250 GMT.The same torch will later be used to light the Olympic flame at the Fisht stadium in Sochi for the opening ceremony of the Games on February 7.In a spectacular torch relay, Russia last month took a lit Olympic torch to the North Pole on a nuclear-powered icebreaker.View gallery.”Russia’s Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft carrying an Olympic torch flies after blasting off from the Russia …The high-profile Olympics mission comes as Russia seeks to prove that its mostly Soviet-designed systems are reliable enough to continue humans’ conquest of space.The 2011 retirement of the US Space Shuttle programme made the Soyuz — whose basic principles are little changed since the first manned spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin in 1961 — the world’s last remaining manned link with the ISS.But Russia has been recently blighted by a string of space failures that include the July 2 explosion shortly after take-off from Baikonur of an unmanned Proton-M rocket.In an apparent response to the problems, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on October 10 fired the head of the state space agency Roscomos, Vladimir Popovkin, after just two-and-a-half years in the job.Oleg Ostapenko, previously deputy defence minister, was appointed the new Roscosmos chief.
Chinese CO2 permits to trade below $5: consultant survey LONDON/BEIJING (Reuters) – Carbon emission permits in China’s fledgling CO2 markets will trade below $5 a ton in initial years, lower than the crisis-hit European market, a survey found on Thursday.Consultancy Climate Bridge’s survey found companies expected trade to be hampered by a lack of regulation.The world’s biggest-emitting nation, China is launching pilot markets in its regions as a first step to building a national emissions trading scheme to rein in its output of heat-trapping gases blamed for causing climate change.But many of the rules and regulations of the markets have yet to be announced, and participants have little experience in monitoring, reporting and verifying emissions, the respondents said.Climate Bridge surveyed 83 representatives from big-emitting companies, consultancies and academics on the development of carbon trading .”The main barriers (to building a mature market) come from the disorder of the policy, rather than from the operation of the market,” the report said.The Australia-based consultancy said carbon markets in China could develop quicker if regional governments announced clear rules for trading.Eighty percent of respondents said trading of permits would be limited until 2015, while 75 percent said the price of Chinese emission permits would be 30 RMB ($4.92) or lower in early trades.Of China’s seven planned regional pilot schemes, only Shenzhen has its market up and running, with Beijing, Guangdong and Shanghai scheduled to launch before the end of the year.The survey respondents were optimistic about the longer-term development, with two-thirds saying they believed a national ETS would be launched between 2015 and 2020.The majority said creating an all-China emissions market would give the government more clout in international climate change negotiations.(Reporting By Stian Reklev and Kathy Chen, editing by William Hardy)
New dinosaur that predates T. rex found in UtahBy BRADY McCOMBS 13 hours agoView gallery SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Paleontologists on Wednesday unveiled a new dinosaur discovered four years ago in southern Utah that proves giant tyrant dinosaurs like the Tyrannosaurus rex were around 10 million years earlier than previously believed.A full skeletal replica of the carnivore — the equivalent of the great uncle of the T. rex — was on display at the Natural History Museum of Utah alongside a 3-D model of the head and a large painted mural of the dinosaur roaming a shoreline.It was the public’s first glimpse at the new species, which researchers named Lythronax argestes (LY’-throw-nax ar-GES’-tees). The first part of the name means „king of gore,” and the second part is derived from poet Homer’s southwest wind.The fossils were found in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in November 2009, and a team of paleontologists spent the past four years digging them up and traveling the world to confirm they were a new species.Paleontologists believe the dinosaur lived 80 million years ago in the late Cretaceous Period on a landmass in the flooded central region of North America.The discovery offers valuable new insight into the evolution of the ferocious tyrannosaurs that have been made famous in movies and captured the awe of school children and adults alike, said Thomas Holtz Jr., a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Maryland department of geology.View gallery.”A new species of tyrannosaur unearthed in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Ut …”This shows that these big, banana-tooth bruisers go back to the very first days of the giant tyrant dinosaurs,” said Holtz, who reviewed the findings. „This one is the first example of these kind of dinosaurs being the ruler of the land.”The new dinosaur likely was a bit smaller than the Tyrannosaurus rex but was otherwise similar, said Mark Loewen, a University of Utah paleontologist who co-authored a journal article about the discovery with fellow University of Utah paleontologist Randall Irmis.It was 24 feet long and 8 feet tall at the hip, and was covered in scales and feathers, Loewen said. Asked what the carnivorous dinosaur ate, Loewen responded: „Whatever it wants.””That skull is designed for grabbing something, shaking it to death and tearing it apart,” he said.The fossils were found by a seasonal paleontologist technician for the Bureau of Land Management who climbed up two cliffs and stopped at the base of a third in the national monument.View gallery.”Realistic model derived from actual skull bones of a new species of tyrannosaur unearthed in Grand S …”I realized I was standing with bone all around me,” said Scott Richardson, who called his boss, Alan Titus, to let him know about the fossils.Loewen and others spent three years traveling the world to compare the fossils to other dinosaurs to be absolutely sure it was a new species. The findings are being published in the journal PLOS One.The fossils were found in a southern Utah rock formation that also has produced the oldest-known triceratops, named „Diabloceratops,” and other dome-headed and armored dinosaurs.There are about 1 million acres of cretaceous rocks that could be holding other new species of dinosaurs, said Titus, the BLM paleontologist who oversees the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Only about 10 percent of the rock formation has been scoured, he said. Twelve other new dinosaurs found there are waiting to be named.”We are just getting started,” Titus said. „We have a really big sandbox to play in.”Holtz said the finding is a testament to the bounty of fossils lying in the earth in North America. He predicts more discoveries in Utah.”It shows we don’t have to go to Egypt or Mongolia or China to find new dinosaurs,” Holtz said. „It’s just a matter of getting the field teams out.”___Follow Brady McCombs at https://twitter.com/BradyMcCombs
Poppies still poignant as young back remembrance appealBy Robin Millard 52 minutes agoView gallery London (AFP) – The red poppy, a symbol of remembrance for the wartime dead, is being taken up by younger generations in Britain, a century on from its World War I origins.For at least two weeks a year in the build-up to November 11 — Armistice Day in 1918 — poppies are seen on television, jacket lapels, car bumpers and newspaper mastheads.Top football teams now have poppies emblazoned on their shirts, mirroring wider public empathy for the sacrifices of Britain’s troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, where 179 and 446 have died respectively.Social media have also helped bring support for troops and veterans to a younger audience.The original Poppy Factory, founded in 1922 to provide work for sick, injured or disabled veterans, still produces half a million paper poppies by hand each year.”When I see the poppies on the people, it does bring a bit of a lump to the throat, especially on young ones,” bearded Royal Navy veteran Dave Brown told AFP as he worked on the petal-cutting machines at the factory in Richmond, southwest London.View gallery.”Manchester City’s Argentinian defender Pablo Zabaleta is seen wearing a printed poppy on his shirt d …”A lot more younger people are wearing poppies now, whereas before there was a generation that wasn’t bothered,” he said.Following a campaign by the Royal British Legion, a two-minute silence on Armistice Day has been reinstated in most schools, and a commemorative event is also streamed live into many classrooms from Trafalgar Square.Last year’s Poppy Appeal raised Â£35 million towards the Legion’s work supporting veterans and their families.While most people are happy to wear a poppy, some decry what they see as growing „poppy fascism” — pressure to wear the red symbols in public.US-born Methodist minister Patricia Jackson sparked controversy when she said she would refuse to wear a poppy when she conducted this year’s remembrance service because it „advocates war”.View gallery.”A member of staff assembles the iconic red emblem of the British Legion’s annual poppy appeal at the …Jackson, who is based in Telford, has since been suspended from her duties over an unrelated incident.Sold for a small donation, about 44 million artificial lapel poppies are produced each year in Britain, mostly by machine.But half a million are still made by hand in Richmond.At the white-painted factory by the River Thames, some 30 staff work year-round ensuring Britain is ready for November.Besides poppies, they also make a million small plywood crosses and 100,000 wreaths, including the one to be laid by Queen Elizabeth at a ceremony in London on Sunday.View gallery.”Prime Minister David Cameron (R) buys his remembrance poppy from army photographer Ali Baskerville ( …Tony Laywood, 49, who served in the Grenadier Guards, was making a cross emblazoned with a squadron’s name.”The recent conflicts have brought it to the public’s attention, that’s for sure. A lot before that was remembering the first and second World Wars,” he said.The poppy’s origins as a remembrance symbol lie in Canadian soldier John McCrae’s 1915 poem „In Flanders Fields”. It cites the poppies growing on the graves of fallen World War I comrades in Belgium and northeast France.The Poppy Factory was founded by Western Front veteran Major George Howson to provide disabled veterans with work and income.The ubiquitous lapel poppy is made of a green plastic stem, a green paper leaf, a red paper petal and finished with a black plastic button.View gallery.”Queen Elizabeth II assembles a poppy at The Poppy Factory at the British Legion headquarters in Rich …It is assembled on a wooden block designed to be used one-handed by amputees.In the 21st century, the factory is extending Howson’s basic premise beyond the Richmond workshop floor.It places injured, sick or disabled ex-troops into a wide range of jobs that fit their skills, wherever they live in Britain.Shaun Johnson, the programme’s employability coordinator, had his own 11-year career in the Royal Artillery brought to an abrupt halt by a crush injury.Eighteen months working on the factory floor helped get his life on an even keel and he now works upstairs assisting those in a similar boat.About 700 people have registered, with 350 placed into jobs. Most are soldiers who served in Northern Ireland, though Afghanistan veterans are becoming more prevalent.After 12 months at work, 75 percent remain in employment.Looking at their life stories, „many times I could take their name off and put mine on,” Johnson said.”A lot of guys are very unsure of themselves, with a lot of worries.”The guys coming through, there are double, triple amputees and we’ve got them flying planes now. I’m astonished. Some are writing novels, they are doing all sorts of jobs.”No longer simply an emblem of remembrance, „people are more aware there’s two sides to the poppy”, he said.
Environmental crime wave costs world billionsBy JASON STRAZIUSO 21 hours agoView galleryNAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The illegal cutting of timber and the poaching of elephants and rhinos are part of a „rapidly escalating environmental crime wave” that international governments must combat by increasing cooperation, police and environmental officials said Wednesday.Interpol and the United Nations Environmental Program are working together to stop environmental crimes that cost tens of billions of dollars a year, said Achim Steiner, the U.N. Environmental Program’s Executive Director. Some 500 law enforcement and environmental experts from around the world are meeting in Nairobi this week to try to stem the problem.”This is a global phenomenon. This is a global market place. These are global syndicates, criminals that are engaging in this trade,” said Steiner, who labeled the problem „a rapidly escalating environmental crime wave.”The demand for elephant ivory by China’s rising middle class is fueling the deaths of thousands of elephants across Africa, say wildlife experts. An estimated 17,000 elephants were illegally killed in Africa in 2011, according to UNEP.Customs officials in China this week reported busting two smuggling rings responsible for trafficking nearly $100 million worth of elephant ivory from Africa to China, the International Fund for Animal Welfare said Wednesday. The group also said Tanzanian authorities announced this week they had sized 706 tusks from the house of three Chinese traders in Tanzania’s capital.Azzedine Downes, president of IFAW, called on national leaders to commit to developing security task forces to lower environmental crime.”People from around the world are outraged that organized criminal networks are robbing the world of our elephants, rhinos, tigers and other wildlife, purely for the profit of a very few outlaws,” Downes said.”If range state countries are willing to commit to enforcement that works across national boundaries, our supporters in non-range states are willing to step up and help fund those efforts,” Downes said.Steiner says that UNEP collaborates with China to increase public awareness that demand for ivory results in dead elephants. He said many people in the world don’t understand the connection.Kenya’s attorney general, Githu Muigai, speaking at a news conference, noted that Kenyan lawmakers are considering a wildlife conservation bill that greatly increases penalties for poachers and traffickers in Kenya. He said Kenya has seen 90 elephants and 35 rhinos killed by poachers this year.”Kenya stands at a crossroads as far as environmental criminal activity is concerned,” said Muigai, who urged lawmakers to pass the proposed wildlife bill.A new paramilitary anti-poaching team was formed in Kenya this year, and Muigai said it’s having „a very significant deterrent effect.”There is no evidence to prove allegations that terror and militant groups such as Somalia’s al-Shabab and Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army are poaching elephants to fund their military activities, said Jean Michel Louboutin, the executive director of police services at Interpol.”I’m a policeman and to make such an assertion there has to be evidence, and to this stage there is no evidence,” Louboutin said.Affected countries often don’t have investigative capacities to follow the environmental crime trail, said UNEP director Steiner. He said he hopes the Nairobi meeting will result in increased law enforcement capacity, because the difference between suspecting such terrorism-wildlife activity and being able to prosecute is „a long distance.”
Egypt objections delay dam panel: EthiopiaNovember 5, 2013 2:20 PMView gallery Khartoum (AFP) – Egyptian objections are delaying formation of a committee to implement expert recommendations on an Ethiopian dam project, which Cairo fears could diminish its water supply, Ethiopia’s water minister said Tuesday.At a one-day meeting in Khartoum, the water ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia agreed to form the panel, Alemayehu Tegenu told reporters.”But we didn’t agree about the composition of this committee,” he said.”We have differences with Egypt.”The Ethiopian minister declined to elaborate on why there was disagreement over the committee’s membership but said the three sides would meet again in Khartoum on December 8.Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile in May to build the 6,000 MW Grand Renaissance Dam, which will be Africa’s largest when completed in 2017.An international panel has issued a report outlining the dam’s impact on water levels.The report has not been made public, but Ethiopia has said it confirms that the impact on water levels is minimal.Cairo had sought more studies about the dam’s impact on its water supply, which is almost entirely dependent on the Nile.Egypt believes its „historic rights” to the Nile are guaranteed by two treaties from 1929 and 1959 which allow it 87 percent of the Nile’s flow and give it veto power over upstream projects.But a new deal signed in 2010 by other Nile Basin countries, including Ethiopia, allows them to work on river projects without Cairo’s prior agreement.Sudan, along with Egypt, has not signed the new Nile Basin deal.Sudan too relies on Nile resources but has said it does not expect to be affected by the Grand Renaissance project.
Reuters/Reuters – Smoke billows from cooling towers at the Radcliffe Power Station near Nottingham in central England, May 25, 2005. NTRES REUTERS/Mike Finn-Kelcey
By Nina Chestney LONDON (Reuters) – Britain should not weaken an ambitious carbon emissions cut goal for 2023 to 2027 when it is reviewed next year because efforts to fight climate change need to be deepened, not scaled back, the government’s climate advisers said on Thursday.The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said there have been no significant changes in climate science or international efforts to cut emissions since the goal in the government’s fourth carbon budget was set two years ago.”The fourth carbon budget remains sensible in light of the latest evidence on climate science and international action. In these respects there is no legal or economic case to reduce ambition in the budget,” Lord Deben, chairman of the committee, said in a statement.Britain has set legally binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions over four five-year periods to 2027, known as carbon budgets, which aim to put it on track towards cutting emissions by 80 percent by the middle of the century.In 2011, the government set its fourth carbon budget to cover the period 2023 to 2027, which would require an emissions cut of 50 percent from 1990 levels.However, it said it would decide in 2014 whether the budget should be revised to reflect progress in cutting emissions in the European Union.”The government will review the level of the fourth carbon budget in early 2014 and will consider the advice of the CCC in more detail ahead of the secretary of state’s decision,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said.Some politicians say there should be a weaker emissions cut target to prevent damage to the economy, but a parliamentary committee urged the government last month to abandon the budget review or at least make sure the budget is not watered down.Some utilities argue they cannot afford to finance the costs of targets to lower carbon emissions, in many cases passing the costs onto consumers.This in turn has heaped pressure on politicians to cap energy prices as consumer bills escalate.However, scientists have warned that the global average temperature could rise by up to 4 degrees Celsius if emissions continue to increase, which would lead to more extreme weather events and catastrophic damage.On Wednesday, the World Meteorological Organisation said volumes of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit a record high last year.European policymakers are considering targeting a cut of around 40 percent in emissions by 2030 from 1990 levels but environmental groups have said a 60 percent reduction is needed.Britain has said the EU needs to promise a 50 percent cut in emissions by 2030.If that proposal is accepted, the government might have to make its carbon budget stricter, the committee said.(Additional reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Stephen Nisbet and Dale Hudson)
Giant Panda Released Into Wild In ChinaSky News – 2 hours 4 minutes agoView PhotoGiant Panda Released Into Wild In ChinaA two-year-old female giant panda bred in captivity has been released into a protected wild area in China.Zhang Xiang is the third panda to be returned to its natural habitat in the country in the past seven years, according to state television.Her keepers dressed in specially-scented panda costumes to avoid scaring her and jeopardising the operation.CCTV pictures showed Zhang Xiang was initially reluctant to leave the cage when the door was opened.But her confidence grew and after some sniffing and exploring she disappeared into the forest, in Sichuan province.Experts have put a GPS collar on her neck to keep track of her.Zhang Xiang will spend two weeks in an interim area where there is plenty of water and bamboo before she is allowed to go off into the real wild.She has been given survival lessons at a training base in the Wolong Nature Reserve in Sichuan since she was born.Another six panda cubs are being prepared for reintroduction to the wild there, according to the official English newspaper China Daily.Chinese media reported that of 10 pandas released into the wild since 1983, only two are still there.Six were brought back to the breeding centre after severe weight loss, one was found dead and another is missing presumed dead.Giant pandas are one of the world’s most endangered animals with roughly 300 living in captivity.Fewer than 1,600 live in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan and neighbouring Shaanxi province.