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Showing posts from February 13, 2017

Hundreds of whales die in third largest mass stranding incident in New Zealand (downtoearth,)

Hundreds of whales died overnight on a New Zealand beach due to the largest mass stranding in decades. The Department of Conservation (DOC) found 416 pilot whales had beached themselves at Farewell Spit in Golden Bay at the top of the South Island. In fact, more than 70 per cent perished before sunrise on February 10.  Another pod of more than 200 whales stranded on February 11.

Hundreds of rescuers managed to save around 400 pilot whales on the South Island beach over the weekend.

According to Peter Wiles, one of the volunteers who reached Farewell Spit to save the remaining whales, the white bellies of whale corpses were lined up on the sand. “It is one of the saddest things I have seen, that many sentient creatures just wasted on the beach,” he said.

Golden Bay is conducive to stranding because its shallow muddy waters confuse whales’ sonar, making it difficult for them to swim out once they enter. On Friday morning, the locals cancelled all their commitments to help the DOC staff…

Solar power breaks a price barrier(Hindu)

In another barrier-breaking development, the auctioned price of solar photovoltaic (SPV) power per kilowatt hour has dropped below ₹3 to ₹2.97 in Madhya Pradesh, providing a clear pointer to the future course of renewable energy. The levellised tariff — factoring in a small annual increase for a given period of time — for the 750 MW Rewa project over a 25-year period is ₹3.29, which is less than half the rate at which some State governments signed contracts in recent years. The progress of this clean source of energy must be deepened with policy incentives, for several reasons. Arguably, the most important is the need to connect millions of people without access to electricity. A rapid scaling-up of solar capacity is vital also to meet the national goal of installing 100 gigawatts by 2022, a target that is being internationally monitored as part of the country’s pledges under the Paris Agreement on climate change. It will also be transformational for the environment, since pollution …

Africa Mining Vision finds support of governments, private companies (downtoearth)

A policy dialogue at the 2017 Mining Indaba heard strong endorsements from public and private sector speakers for the Africa Mining Vision (AMV) Private Sector Compact.

The AMV Compact was launched at 2016 Mining Indaba, where it won early support from the Mining Industry Association of Southern Africa (MIASA). The Compact is designed to close existing gaps between mining communities, the private sector and governments. It consists of a set of twelve principles designed to offer improved value and benefits to all parties involved. Governments and mining companies are encouraged to sign up to the Compact for themselves, using one of a number of flexible governance options.

The Indaba special session was set up to facilitate an open dialogue, guided by Compact principles, between governments and the private sector to explore areas of consensus and possible win- wins.

In her welcome remarks, African Union Trade and Industry Commissioner, Fatima Haram-Acyl, said: “The rationale for this yea…

One China check for Donald Trump (Hindu)

Ptesident Donald Trump’s stated commitment to honour the One China policy signals a softening of his administration’s approach towards Beijing. Earlier, Mr. Trump had given enough indications that he would pursue a radically different policy towards Beijing by reviewing the One China policy, a cornerstone of Sino-U.S. relations. First, he accepted a congratulatory call from the Taiwanese President, breaking 37 years of American practice and thereby infuriating Beijing. Later, in an interview, he declined to endorse the One China policy unless he saw progress from Beijing in its trade and currency policies, triggering speculation that he would improve ties with Taiwan and use the policy as a bargaining chip. Such speculation was effectively killed last week when Mr. Trump took a 180-degree turn on China in his first telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping. It is not clear what made Mr. Trump change his mind. Some reports suggest that ever since he accepted the call fr…

An uphill task for Marine Le Pen (Hindu.)

The far-right candidate would have to convince the French that she is both radically different and more of the same

Whatever anyone says, the Front National is a party heading straight for middle age. At the time of its first success in the municipal elections of 1983, the Cold War was in full swing, Donald Trump was a 37-year-old aspiring property tycoon, the word ‘Brexit’ had not been invented, and the French music charts were dominated by songs from Michael Jackson’s seminal album ‘Thriller’.

It is somewhat ironic, then, to hear Marine Le Pen repeatedly claim her position as an outsider. She isn’t — and nor is her party. The French have been voting for, fighting against or ignoring the Front National for over 30 years. Two generations of voters have been brought up in the shadow of Europe’s longest-standing far-right party. Ms. Le Pen has even managed to get herself embroiled in a series of corruption scandals, the ultimate hallmark of any accomplished French politician.

So why ar…