Qatar signs $470 million solar deal

Doha, Qatar (AFP) – Gas-rich Qatar signed a $470-million deal on Sunday to build its first solar energy plant, capable of meeting up to one-tenth of peak national power demand. The Al-Kharsaah plant, near the capital, is a 10-square-kilometre (4-sq-mile) joint venture with French and Japanese partners due for completion in 2022 ahead of the football World Cup. “Eight times the solar power pledged in the World Cup bid will be produced,” Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi […]

UK looks to offshore wind for green energy transition

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) – Benoît PELEGRIN Britain, a global leader in offshore wind energy, plans to make the sector one of the pillars of its transition to carbon neutrality in the coming decades. The country aims to quadruple its offshore electricity production capacity by 2030 by utilizing the windswept North Sea and a favorable policy environment. “It’s more conducive to build offshore in the UK than anywhere else in Europe,” said James Brabben, of […]

Experts warn over scale of China virus as US airports start screening

HONG KONG, China (AFP) — The true scale of the outbreak of a mysterious SARS-like virus in China is likely far bigger than officially reported, scientists have warned, as countries ramp up measures to prevent the disease from spreading. Fears that the virus will spread are growing ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday when hundreds of millions of Chinese move around the country and many others host or visit extended family members living overseas. […]

Amazon indigenous leaders accuse Brazil of ‘genocide’ policy

PIARACU, Brazil (AFP) — Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s pledge to open up the Amazon to mining companies was tantamount to “genocide”, indigenous leaders said Friday at a meeting to oppose the government’s environmental policies. Hundreds of elders gathered this week at Pairacu, deep in the rain forest, to form a united front against Bolsonaro’s environmental policies, which have seen deforestation in the jungle nearly double since the Brazilian leader came to power a year ago. […]

Dutch art sleuth finds rare stolen copy of ‘Prince of Persian poets

by Jan HENNOP Agence France-Presse AMSTERDAM, Netherlands  (AFP) — A stolen 15th-century book by the famed Persian poet Hafez has been recovered by a Dutch art detective after an international “race against time” that drew the alleged interest of Iran’s secret service. The gold-leafed volume worth around one million euros ($1.1 million) was found to be missing from the collection of an Iranian antiques dealer after his death in Germany in 2007. It sparked a decade-long search […]

South Koreans among seven missing in Himalayan avalanche

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AFP) — An avalanche in Nepal’s Annapurna region has left at least seven people missing, including four South Koreans and three Nepalis, officials said Saturday. The incident occurred at an altitude of around 3,230 meters (10,597 feet) close to the base camp for Annapurna, one of the highest peaks in the Himalayas, following heavy snowfall on Friday. “We are getting reports that four South Koreans and three Nepalis are out of contact after […]

‘Hundreds’ likely affected by Chinese virus: researchers

LONDON, United Kingdom   (AFP) — The number of people infected by a mystery SARS-like virus that has killed two people in China is likely hundreds more than officially reported, researchers have said. Chinese authorities have said pneumonia linked to the virus has hit at least 41 people in the country, with the outbreak centered around a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan. But a paper published Friday by scientists with the MRC Center […]

Bollywood star slams Uber after ‘scariest experience’

MUMBAI, India (AFP) — Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor Ahuja has warned Uber users against using the ridesharing app in London after suffering “the scariest experience” with a driver in the British capital. The award-winning actress, 34, daughter of “Slumdog Millionaire” star Anil Kapoor, said her driver was apparently “unstable and was yelling and shouting” during the journey. “I was shaking by the end of it,” she tweeted to her 12.8 million followers late Wednesday in […]

Thais find second case linked to China mystery virus

  BANGKOK, Thailand (AFP) — Thailand detected its second case of a mysterious SARS-linked virus in a visitor from China, health officials said Friday, as authorities ramp up airport screenings ahead of an expected surge in arrivals for Chinese New Year. The 74-year-old Chinese woman is being treated at hospital after presenting with symptoms at Thailand’s biggest airport Suvarnabhumi on January 13, according to the health ministry. She was diagnosed with pneumonia linked to the […]

Fires, then floods: How much can a koala bear?

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — A week ago, koalas at an Australian wildlife park were in the path of raging bushfires. On Friday, they were soaking wet and being carried to safety from flash floods. Months of drought that have contributed to Australia’s catastrophic bushfire season have this week given way to huge downpours in some of the blaze-ravaged areas. At the Australian Reptile Park on the nation’s east coast near Sydney, heavy rains on Friday […]

Global decision-makers gather in Davos

PARIS, France (AFP) – Stuart WILLIAMS Global decision-makers gather in Davos starting Tuesday for their annual meeting, with challenges facing the planet — from climate change to conflict in the Middle East — as imposing as the Alps that surround the Swiss resort. Observers fear the annual World Economic Forum will serve only to again expose the differences between East and West, the US and the EU, and business and activists in combating the most […]

Heating woes fuel Balkan smog crisis

SARAJEVO, BOSNIA AND HERZGOVINA (AFP) – Rusmir SMAJILHODZIC and Emmy VARLEY in Belgrade As winter grips the Balkans, the poor are caught in a cruel bind, being forced to light fires at home for heating while fuelling a pollution crisis smothering the region.   In recent weeks, Balkan capitals from Belgrade Sarajevo to Skopje and Pristina have been ranked among the world’s top 10 most polluted major cities, according to the monitoring application AirVisual. While […]