UN Chief Warns Paris Climate Goals Still Not Enough

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres took his global message urging immediate climate action to officials gathered in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday, where production of hydrocarbons remains a key driver of the economy.   Guterres is calling on governments to stop building new coal plants by 2020, cut greenhouse emissions by 45% over the next decade and overhauling fossil fuel-driven economies with new technologies like solar and wind. The world, he said, “is facing a grave climate emergency.”   In remarks at a summit in Abu Dhabi, he painted a grim picture of how rapidly climate change is advancing, saying it is outpacing efforts to address it.    He lauded the Paris climate accord, but said even if its promises are fully met, the world still faces what he described as a catastrophic three-degree temperature rise by the end of the century.   Arctic permafrost is melting decades earlier than even worst-case scenarios, he said, threatening to unlock vast amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas.   “It is plain to me that we have no time to lose,” Guterres said. “Sadly, it is not yet plain to all the decision makers that run our world.”    He spoke at the opulent Emirates Palace, where Abu Dhabi was hosting a preparatory meeting for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in September. Guterres was expected to later take a helicopter ride to view Abu Dhabi’s Noor solar power plant.   When asked, U.N. representatives said the lavish Abu Dhabi summit and his planned …

Thousands of Protesters Demand Civilian Rule in Sudan

Tens of thousands of protesters rallied across Sudan on Sunday against the ruling generals, calling for a civilian government nearly three months after the army forced out the long-ruling autocrat Omar al-Bashir. The mass protests, centered in the capital, Khartoum, were the first since a June 3 crackdown when security forces violently broke up a protest camp. In that confrontation, dozens were killed, with protest organizers saying the death toll was at least 128, while authorities claim it was 61, including three security personnel. Sunday’s demonstrators gathered at several points across Khartoum and in the sister city of Omdurman, then marching to the homes of those killed in previous protests. The protesters, some of them waving Sudanese flags, chanted “Civilian rule! Civilian rule!” and “Burhan’s council, just fall,” targeting Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the military council. Security forces fired tear gas at the demonstrators. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the military council, said the generals want to reach an “urgent and comprehensive agreement with no exclusion. We in the military council are totally neutral. We are the guardians of the revolution. We do not want to be part of the dispute.” The European Union and several Western countries have called on the generals to avoid bloodshed. The June 3 raid followed the collapse of talks on a new government, whether it should be led by a civilian or soldier. Ethiopia and the African Union have offered a plan for a civilian-majority body, which the generals say …

Ancient Peruvian Water-Harvesting System Could Lessen Modern Water Shortages

Sometimes, modern problems require ancient solutions.     A 1,400-year-old Peruvian water-diverting method could supply up to 40,000 Olympic-size swimming pools’ worth of water to present-day Lima each year, according to new research published in Nature Sustainability.   It’s one example of how indigenous methods could supplement existing modern infrastructure in water-scarce countries worldwide.    More than a billion people across the world face water scarcity. Artificial reservoirs store rainwater and runoff for use during drier times, but reservoirs are costly, require years to plan and can still fail to meet water needs. Just last week, the reservoirs in Chennai, India, ran nearly dry, forcing its 4 million residents to rely on government water tankers.     Animation showing monthly rainfall in the tropical Andes. Humid air transports water vapor from the Amazon and is blocked by the Andean mountain barrier, producing extreme differences between the eastern and western slopes. (B. Ochoa-Tocachi, 2019) Peru’s capital, Lima, depends on water from rivers high in the Andes. It takes only a few days for water to flow down to Lima, so when the dry season begins in the mountains, the water supply rapidly vanishes. The city suffers water deficit of 43 million cubic meters during the dry season, which it alleviates with modern infrastructure such as artificial reservoirs.    Panoramic view of the Andean highlands in the Chillon river basin where Huamantanga is located. The city of Lima would be located downstream in the horizon background. (S. Grainger, Imperial College London, 2015) Artificial reservoirs aren’t …

White House: Trade Agreement with China Not Close

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Sunday resumption of trade talks between the U.S. and China “is a very big deal,” but acknowledged there is no immediate prospect for an agreement between the world’s two largest economies. “The talks will go on for quite some time,” Kudlow told the Fox News Sunday interview show. He said the countries had reached agreement on 90 percent of a new deal by early May, before talks broke down in what has turned out to be a seven-week stalemate. U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 economic summit in Japan to restart negotiations. U.S. President Donald Trump attends a bilateral meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping during the G-20 leaders summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019. But Kudlow assessed that “the last 10 percent could be the toughest,” with such unresolved issues as cyberattacks, Chinese demands that U.S. companies turn over proprietary technology they use, Chinese government support for its companies and the sale of U.S. technology components to the giant Chinese multinational technology giant Huawei. Trump agreed in his meeting with Xi to ease sales of some U.S.-made components to Huawei, a policy change that some of Trump’s Republican colleagues in the U.S. disagree with because they contend that Huawei can insert Chinese intelligence eavesdropping chips in their consumer products sold overseas. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida called it a “catastrophic mistake.” Kudlow said he realizes “there are national …

Hong Kong Braces for More Protests on Handover Anniversary

More than 50,000 people rallied in support of the Hong Kong police on Sunday as the semi-autonomous territory braced for another day of protests on the anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China.   The crowd filled a park in front of the legislature and chanted “Thank you” to the police, who have been criticized for using tear gas and rubber bullets during clashes with demonstrators that left dozens injured on June 12. Some carried Chinese flags. Police estimated the turnout at 53,000. A protest march has been called for Monday, the third in three weeks, this one on the 22nd anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China on July 1, 1997. Activists have also said they will try to disrupt an annual flag-raising ceremony attended by senior Hong Kong and mainland Chinese officials in the morning.   Police have erected tall barriers and shut off access to Golden Bauhinia Square, where the flag-raising will be held, to prevent protesters from massing there overnight.   The anniversary always draws protests, but this year’s is expected to be larger than usual because of widespread opposition to a government proposal to allow suspects to be extradited to mainland China to face charges. More than a million people took to the streets in two previous marches in June, organizers estimate.   The proposal has awakened broader fears that China is eroding the freedoms and rights that Hong Kong is guaranteed for 50 years after the handover under a “one …

Tens of Thousands Join Gay Pride Parades Around the World 

Tens of thousands of people turned out for gay pride celebrations around the world on Saturday, including a boisterous party in Mexico and the first pride march in North Macedonia’s capital.    Rainbow flags and umbrellas swayed and music pounded as the march along Mexico City’s Paseo de la Reforma avenue got underway, with couples, families and activists seeking to raise visibility for sexual diversity in the country.      Same-sex civil unions have been legal in Mexico City since 2007, and gay marriage since 2009. A handful of Mexican states have also legalized same-sex unions, which are supposed to be recognized nationwide. But pride participants said Mexico has a long way to go in becoming a more tolerant and accepting place for LGBTQ individuals.     Revelers attend the gay pride parade in Quito, Ecuador, June 29, 2019. “There’s a lot of machismo, a lot of ignorance still,” said Monica Nochebuena, who identifies as bisexual.     Nochebuena, 28, attended the Mexico City march for the first time with her mother and sister on Saturday, wearing a shirt that said: “My mama already knows.” Her mother’s shirt read: “My daughter already told me.”    Human rights activist Jose Luis Gutierrez, 43, said the march is about visibility, and rights, especially for Mexico’s vulnerable transgender population. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights says that poverty, exclusion and violence reduce life expectancy for trans women in the Americas to 35 years.    In New York City, Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, when …

Thousands March in Madrid to Save Anti-Pollution Plan

Thousands marched through Madrid on Saturday to ask the Spanish capital’s new mayor not to ditch ambitious traffic restrictions in the center only recently set up to improve air quality.    “Madrid Central,” as it is called, was one of the measures that persuaded the European Commission not to take Spain to court last year over its bad air pollution in the capital and Barcelona, as it did with France, Germany and the United Kingdom.    “Fewer cars, better air” and “The new city hall seriously harms your health” were the messages on banners as protesters walked through the city’s center in 40-degree-Celsius heat.    The capital’s new conservative mayor, Jose Luis Martinez-Almeida, made ditching “Madrid Central” a priority during his campaign, saying it had done nothing to ease pollution and only caused a nuisance for locals.    But since he has taken power as part of a coalition with center-right party Ciudadanos, city officials have toned this down, saying the government is merely seeking to reform a system that does not work properly, having mistakingly handed out some fines.    When the system was launched in November, Madrid followed in the steps of other European cities such as London, Stockholm and Milan that have restricted traffic in their centers.    A woman takes part in a protest against Madrid’s new conservative People’s Party municipal government plans to suspend some anti-car emissions policies in the city center, June 29, 2019. But while in these cases drivers can pay to enter such zones, Madrid went …

Trump’s Korea Visit to Include ‘Long-Planned’ Visit to DMZ

U.S. President Donald Trump said early Sunday that his schedule while in South Korea would include a visit with U.S. troops and a trip to the Demilitarized Zone.    It did not mention, however, the invitation Trump had sent through social media on Saturday, in which he tweeted an invitation to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to meet him at the border “to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!” After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 28, 2019 Sunday morning, Trump plans to address South Korean business leaders. He will then travel to the presidential residence to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.    He will travel to the DMZ Sunday afternoon, and then address U.S. troops at Osan Air Base in South Korea, before departing for the U.S. Speaking to reporters at the Group of 20 summit in Japan, Trump said he decided Saturday morning to “put out a feeler” to meet Kim, adding such a meeting would last only two minutes. “We’ll see each other for two minutes,” Trump said. “That’s all we can. But that will be fine.” South Korea Welcomes Trump, But Skeptically Despite Trump courting controversy, polls suggest support for US remains high Trump later said he would feel …

Experts Warn Mali Border Violence Could Spiral Out of Control 

A volatile mix of intercommunal conflict and violent extremism near Mali’s border with Niger and Burkina Faso has become a looming crisis, experts are warning.    Yearslong regional violence has spiked in recent months, making headlines and raising concerns that overstretched security forces could lose control of an already tenuous situation.    FILE – A Fulani herder leads his cattle to the landfill next to the internally displaced persons camp in Faladie, Mali, where nearly 800 IDPs have found refuge after fleeing intercommunal violence, on May 14, 2019. On June 14, gunfire near Liptako, Mali, forced a French Gazelle helicopter to make an emergency landing, defenceWeb, a South African defense news site, reported. The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, a local affiliate of ISIS, claimed responsibility for the attack, which wounded the crew, the report added.   Counterterrorism    The helicopter and its crew were part of Operation Barkhane, a French-led counterterror operation based in the Sahel. At the time, they were conducting an attack on ISGS hideouts, which left 20 suspected militants dead.     Pauline Le Roux, a visiting assistant research fellow with the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, said ISGS emerged in 2015 from the remnants of other extremist groups in the region. It gained international notoriety in 2017 when it claimed responsibility for an attack in Niger that left four U.S. Green Berets, four Nigerien soldiers and a Nigerien interpreter dead.    The extremist group has proven difficult to eradicate, and Le Roux said it has taken advantage of the sparsely populated …

Nuclear Deal’s Future in Europe’s Hands, Iran Says

It is up to Europe to shield Iran from U.S. sanctions and prevent it from further scaling back its compliance with its 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, Iranian state TV said Saturday, with only days left on Tehran’s ultimatum.  Iran’s envoy to a meeting of the remaining signatories to the nuclear accord said Friday that European countries had offered too little at last-ditch talks aimed at persuading Tehran to drop its plan to breach limits imposed by the deal.  The United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and has reimposed sanctions on Iran.  Tehran then stopped complying on May 8 with some of its commitments under the nuclear deal. It said it would suspend further obligations after another 60 days, meaning in early July.  “The ball is in Europe’s court. Are Paris, London and Berlin going to again waste a chance under the influence of [U.S. President Donald] Trump, or use the remaining opportunity to fulfill their promises and act on their commitments under the [nuclear deal]?” Iranian state TV said in a commentary.  Enriched uranium limit Iran will soon exceed an enriched uranium limit set under its nuclear deal after its remaining pact partners fell short of Tehran’s demands to be shielded from U.S. sanctions, the semiofficial Fars news agency on Saturday cited an “informed source” as saying.  “As the commission meeting in Vienna could not satisfy Iran’s just demands … Iran is determined to cut its commitments to the deal, and the 300 kg enriched uranium limit will be soon breached,” Fars quoted the source as telling the daily Khorasan.  On June 17, Iran said it would break through the limit on the size of …