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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Venezuela Shades Mao Gov Worker Sent work in fields “Forced Labor” Decree

CARACAS -- A decree by the embattled Nicolas Maduro administration ordering civil servants and private sector workers alike to work in the fields for two to four months at a time is raising eyebrows in Caracas. And that is saying a lot these days.

UAE Barakah nuclear power plant is 65% complete - Khaleej Times

The construction of the UAE nuclear power plant at Barakah is progressing well, with unit no one being more than 88 per cent complete.

Unit two is 72 per cent complete, unit three is 50 per cent complete and unit four is 31 per cent complete. Overall, construction of units one to four is now more than 65 per cent complete.

All four units will deliver safe, clean, reliable and efficient nuclear energy to the UAE grid, pending regulatory reviews and licensing.

Will Israel create safe zone in southern Syria?

It began in May with the announcement of an Israeli liaison unit to coordinate with Syrian residents living in opposition-held territory in southern Syria, followed by the distribution of Israeli aid during Ramadan across 35 villages in the same area. Then on July 11, the Israeli army deployed several bulldozers and a tank 300 meters (328 yards) inside Syrian territory in Quneitra and began digging, threatening to shoot anyone who approached them.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/07/southern-syria-opposition-israel-safe-zone.html#ixzz4Fzp6JkHk


Dubai mass transit records 2m rise in 6 months - Khaleej Times


The report reflects an increased ridership with over 273million using mass transit during the first half of the year compared to last year's 271million in the same period.
While Water Taxis recorded 83.77 per cent rise in use, Dubai Taxis are no less wanted with 81 per cent relying on it during the first six months of the year.


New Dh33.9m power station opens in UAQ - Khaleej Times

The Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa), all set to meet the pressing demand for electricity in the northern emirates, has opened a new power station in Umm Al Quwain.
The substation, built at the Hamra area has a capacity of 75MVA and contains three transmitters, feeders and switches with 33/11 KV, according to Adnan Naseeb Salem, Executive Director for Joint Services Department, Fewa.

UAE Masdar wind farm UK powers one in 50 UK homes - Khaleej Times

The London Array, the world's largest offshore wind farm, marked three years of operations on Sunday. 

The 630-megawatt wind power project, the largest international investment of Abu Dhabi's Masdar, delivers clean and reliable energy to more than half a million homes throughout the United Kingdom.

Since its launch, London Array has produced 6,900,000 megawatt hours, MWh, of clean, renewable electricity, offsetting some 2,950,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the annual emissions of around 900,000 cars on UK roads.

UAE Bomb hoax in Sharjah building - Khaleej Times

Panic gripped the residents of Al Qasimi following a bomb scare at the Mashreq building in King Abdul Aziz Road (Immigration street) late evening on Thursday.
The police evacuated the area around the Imran tower office building where Mashreq bank is located.
Police told Khaleej Times that an anonymous person called the emergency number at 10:00 pm, warning that a bomb case had been placed at the entrance of the building.

Ethiopian Mega Dam Hurts Egypt



Ethiopian mega-dam project leaves Egypt high and dry

Middle East Eye

It's like negotiating the rules of engagement long after the contest has been held and the winner declared. Egypt is deeply worried about the impact on its water supply of a dam being built by Ethiopia far to the south, on the Blue Nile. At a meeting with his Ethiopian and Sudanese counterparts last year, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi reiterated his country's concerns while, at the same time, signing what was termed a "declaration of principles" about how the multi-billion dollar scheme – one of the world's biggest infrastructure projects - should be implemented.

Whatever principles have been agreed on – and these seem rather vague – the project is going ahead. Work on what's grandly named the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, is now more than 70 percent complete. The dam, which will eventually produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity according to its backers, is scheduled to start operations next year. Ethiopia sees the dam as vital to lifting a large segment of its more than 80 million people out of poverty. It also has ambitions to turn itself into "The powerhouse of Africa" by selling energy produced by the project.

Successive Egyptian administrations seem to have been caught by surprise by Ethiopia's determination to implement the GERD. The fact that the project is progressing – and has won the support of many of Egypt's neighbours to the south - is also seen as an indication of Cairo's waning influence in Africa. Any development which might interfere with the flow of the Nile waters is of great concern to Egypt. Most of its more than 80 million people live within a few kilometres of the river. The river supplies the bulk of the country's drinking water and irrigates the Nile Delta, one of the most fertile regions on the planet. Any drop in the level of the Nile as a result of developments upstream could seriously affect water supplies, already under severe pressure.

The Nile also generates about half of Egypt's electricity through the operation of the Aswan High Dam, built in the 1960s with the help of the Soviet Union. There are worries that water levels in Lake Nasser - the more-than 5,000 square-kilometres man-made lake which feeds into the Aswan High Dam – could be lowered by the operation of the Ethiopian dam. This would result in less hydroelectric power being produced at Aswan. Many areas of Egypt are experiencing significant power shortages. "The Renaissance Dam project represents a source of development for the millions of Ethiopia's citizens through producing green and sustainable energy," said Sisi last March.

"But for their brothers living on the banks of the Nile in Egypt, and who approximately equal them in numbers, it represents a source of concern and worry. This is because the Nile is their only source of water, in fact their source of life." Another Egyptian concern is that Ethiopia has not, from Cairo's point of view, been open about how the GERD will be operated - how much water might be extracted from the waters of the Blue Nile – one of the Nile's main tributaries – and how much and by what means electric power from the dam will be transmitted to neighbouring countries.

Relations between Cairo and Addis Adaba over the GERD project sunk to a low in mid-2013 when a group of Egyptian politicians was heard on TV advocating military action over the Ethiopian dam. Mohamed Morsi, then Egypt's president, struggled to calm the atmosphere by saying he did not want war – but added that "Egypt's water security cannot be violated at all". Meanwhile, Ethiopia accused Egypt of trying to sabotage the GERD by seeking to dissuade international financial institutions from lending to the project.

In recent years, relations have improved though Ethiopia has repeatedly said there can be no question of halting or revising its mega dam project. A team of French consultants has been appointed to look into some of the issues associated with the dam's construction, but its final report is unlikely to be published until well after the scheme begins operating. The management of the Nile, the world's longest river, flowing through 10 countries from its sources in the highlands of Ethiopia and central Africa, is a complex issue.

Under treaties dating back to the days of the old British administration in the region, only Sudan and Egypt have the right to the use of Nile waters, with Egypt receiving the major share. Ethiopia – with its fast growing economy increasingly seen as a rival to Egyptian influence in the area – does not recognise these old agreements and has gained support for a new framework governing the Nile. It also insists it can do as it pleases with the waters of the Blue Nile, which for the most part flow through its territory.

There are many in Egypt who are sceptical about Ethiopian claims that the GERD – being built by the Italian Salini impregilo company - will "not cause any harm to downstream countries". They point out that Egypt's own experience with the Aswan High Dam has not been encouraging. When it was constructed, Aswan was considered to be a miracle of modern engineering. While the dam has generated power and prevented large scale flooding in many areas, it has in many ways created more problems than it has solved.

As a mechanism for managing the river, it is grossly inefficient. About 15 percent of the water which gathers in Lake Nasser is lost to evaporation. Prior to the dam being built, silt from the Nile fertilised the delta. Now farmers use fertilisers on their crops and there are major chemical pollution problems. Due to water being held back by the Aswan, fresh water never reaches some coastal regions and the absence of silt means the whole region is sinking. The Mediterranean is encroaching in many areas: increased salt levels on land are a big problem.

Meanwhile, further south in Ethiopia, 9,000 workers are labouring round the clock in order to finish the GERD project on schedule. Despite all its concerns, Egypt is powerless to stop the construction of what will be Africa's biggest dam.

Monsoon deluge in Indian cities causes traffic chaos, sewage swirls | Reuters


Persistent heavy rains have caused widespread disruption in India's major cities and severe floods in the rugged northeast have killed at least 12 people, the federal government said on Friday.

About 50,000 people from southern and eastern India had to be evacuated as storms pushed water levels to dangerous levels, damaging crops and causing more than 3,000 houses to collapse.

India's new reforestation law ignores indigenous people, analysts say | Reuters


MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A new Indian law to boost reforestation across the country ignores the importance of indigenous people in conserving land and tramples on their rights, analysts and activists said.

India's upper house of parliament passed a bill late on Thursday that would give state governments more than 60 billion rupees ($895 million) a year to conserve and protect forests and wildlife.

Heavy Rains 31 killed India's NE Bangladesh Reuters


At least 17 people have been killed by heavy rains and flooding in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, while at least 14 people have died in Bangladesh, with millions of people also displaced, officials said on Saturday.

Persistent heavy rains this week have caused widespread disruption across South Asia, with at least 68 people killed in Nepal by flash floods and landslides.


Seaweed stifles Sierra Leone's fishing industry - News from Al Jazeera


Scientists are stuggling to find the reason behind massive deposits of seaweed along Sierra Leone's beaches, seriously affecting the country's fishing and tourism industries. 
The seaweed, which is not toxic but does carry a foul smell, can get tangled up in nets, making it harder for fishermen to get their daily catch and earn a living.
They hope to get some kind of assistance from the government.
"When they come here to see they'll know exactly what's happening with their people ... what's affecting the people," said fisherman Bassie Gibrilla. 

Islamic State attacks two energy plants in north Iraq, kills five | Reuters


Islamic State militants stormed two energy facilities in northern Iraq on Sunday, killing at least five workers and shutting down a major oil pumping station, security and oil sources said.

The first attack, on the AB2 gas compressor station, about 15 km (10 miles) northwest of Kirkuk, started around 0300 (0000 GMT) when four gunmen with hand grenades broke through an external door in an attack that left two guards in critical condition.

They then shot dead four employees in a control room inside and planted explosives charges, around five of which went off, the sources said.

Iran Suffers Heatwaves, Forest Fires and Sandstorms

Iran is facing a series of environmental disasters this summer, including forest fires, record heat indexes in some provinces and sandstorms threatening the capital, Tehran.
Namak (Persian Salt) Lake in Qom province, which once measured 200,000 hectares, has completely dried up because of climate change, the ill-considered construction of tens of dams and depleted underground water resources.

Lake Tahoe's No Good, Very Bad Year - Forbes

The crown jewel of the Sierras and largest alpine lake in North America had a rough year in 2015, according to the new "State of the Lake" report from the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, which finds the lake's temperature is rising at its fastest rate ever. 

Flash flooding causes major damage in Baltimore suburb | Fox News

Storms brought torrential rain to Howard County, Md. on Saturday night, causing severe flooding. Historic Ellicott City appears to have been hit hardest.

Chinese province buys up mouldy wheat


Effort to ease growers' burden following summer floods will degrade strategic stockpile

Read the full article at: http://on.ft.com/2apsocF


Sent from my iPad

UK Delay Nuclear Hinkley Point plant catches China by surprise


Theresa May's shift in policy throws Britain's warming relations with Beijing into doubt

Read the full article at: http://on.ft.com/2afEEKa


Sent from my iPad

Venezuela’s army takes over food distribution


Andres Schipani in Caracas
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The military is in charge of food production, distribution, and ports

Read the full article at: http://on.ft.com/2agWFH9


Sent from my iPad

Africans Nutrition and Loss of Height


Steve Johnson
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Average height falls for 30 years amid poor nutrition, rising population and structural change

Read the full article at: http://on.ft.com/2adHn63


Sent from my iPad

Xi’s China — Smothering dissent


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Critics fear the erosion of civic freedoms is denying space for grievances to be aired

Read the full article at: http://on.ft.com/2amg3WL


Sent from my iPad

7 Sudanese migrants arrested trying to cross border to Israel through Sinai

CAIRO (Ma'an) --  Egyptian authorities on Saturday arrested seven African migrants trying to cross the borders into Israel without proper documentation from the central Sinai Peninsula, according to Egyptians security sources.


Sources told Ma'an that seven people were stopped trying to pass through the barbed-wired border fence.

The suspects were identified as seven men from Sudan, and were taken for questioning where they reportedly admitted they were trying to cross into Israel without proper documents. 


Agrimoney.com | South America woes to boost US corn, soy exports - Bunge


Bunge reassured over US corn and soybean complex exports, citing depressed competition from South American rivals, foreseeing a "quite excellent" period for North American oilseed crushing margins.

Soren Schroder, the chief executive of Bunge, said that "for the next six months at least, the US is the game in town" on corn exports, albeit with competition from Ukraine, the top shipper of the grain outside the Americas.

"Whatever corn is exported, it is really a US or Ukrainian affair," he said, terming South America as "sold out".

South China Sea: Vietnam airport screens hacked - BBC News


Flight display screens at Vietnam's two largest airports were hacked to show messages criticising Vietnam's claims of territory in the South China Sea.
China's territorial claims, which overlap with Vietnam's, were recently rejected by an international tribunal.
Screens and sound systems at Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City airports broadcast anti-Vietnamese and Philippines slogans on Friday.