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Showing posts from September 24, 2014

Rockefeller oil dynasty to ‘divest’ from fossil fuels


In a symbol of the times, America’s biggest “oil family”, the Rockefellers, has announced it will get rid of any investments or holdings in fossil fuels from its $860 million charitable fund, and target clean energy instead. The announcement is part of a $50 billion pledge by over 180 institutions to cut oil, natural gas, and coal from their portfolios and redirect investment into clean energy.

“Our immediate focus will be on coal and tar sands, two of the most intensive sources of carbon emissions,” the statement said, adding that investment in the two sectors will be reduced to less than 1 percent of the total portfolio by the end of 2014.

Coal and tar sands are two of the biggest carbon emitters.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund was established in 1940 from wealth acquired through the family’s company Standard Oil, once the world’s largest oil refiner.

Monday’s announcement comes ahead of today’s United Nations summit on climate change, where 120 global leaders, including US President…

Artificial Islands in the South China Sea

By P K Ghosh

The turbulent South China Sea (SCS) has emerged as a regional flashpoint, with sovereignty disputes over rocks and islands driving increasing tensions. Recently, a new twist to the saga has emerged, in the form of new artificial islands being created by China in an effort to bolster its sovereign claims.

While the other claimants in the region – Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia – are all in control of natural islands, China is the first to control the artificial variety. At the same time, Beijing is also trying to enlarge the existing islands that it already has under its control.

These news islands and enlargements are essentially new, and have the potential to intensify the disputes and the associated level of acrimony. One of the most noticeable changes that have occurred has been in the Spratly Islands. Until the beginning of 2014, the Chinese presence in these islands consisted of a handful of outposts that comprised a collection of concrete block-type hous…

Taiwan: Leaks and Local Elections

By Kristian McGuire

It is one of those unseemly matters that tend to beset governments right around election time. And yet Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Minister Chang Hsien-yao’s removal from office on August 16 for allegedly leaking classified information to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is not just another sensational political scandal. The Chang affair has raised serious questions about the Ma administration’s ability to manage cross-Strait relations and secure Taiwan against intensified PRC espionage activities; and it couldn’t have come at a worse time for President Ma Ying-jeou’s party the Kuomintang (KMT).

Taiwan is preparing to hold local elections on November 29 in which a record 11,130 public servants will be chosen. It is generally believed that a strong showing by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the local elections could greatly improve the party’s chances in Taiwan’s 2016 legislative and presidential elections. Hence, a scandal …

The current spread of nuclear reactors

Yemen president warns of civil war

Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi has vowed to restore state authority and warned of a "civil war" in the Sunni-majority country as Shia rebels were seen in near-total control of the capital, Sanaa.

"Sanaa is facing a conspiracy that will lead towards civil war," Hadi said in a speech at the presidential palace on Tuesday, two days after the rebels took control of all other key state institutions in the capital, overshadowing a UN-brokered peace deal.

"Many powers came together, either those who lost their interests in Yemen or those pushed by their personal grievances to take their revenge on their country rather than on individual, or the opportunistic who take advantage of any disaster to attack the country," said Hadi.

Al Jazeera's Mohamed Vall, reporting from Sanaa, said that the president's comments had created a lot of confusion in the country.

"They don't know what he means. Is the conspiracy the fact that he was made to sign a d…

O, bomber! Obama bombs 7th country in 6 years

U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters / Adrees Latif)

American jets hit targets in Syria on Tuesday in the US-led fight against Islamic State. Although the US has not declared war since 1942, this is the seventh country that Barack Obama, the holder of the Nobel Peace Prize, has bombed in as many years.

Syria has become the latest country to have been openly targeted by the US, with Washington predictably not seeking the approval of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Pictures showing an ISIL Command and Control Center in Syria before (L) and after it was struck by bombs dropped by a U.S. F-22 fighter jet are seen in handouts released by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) September 23, 2014. (Reuters / US Department of Defense / Handout)

The US and NATO started a bombing campaign in the north of the country on Tuesday against Islamic State militants, who have taken over parts of the north and east of the country. The death toll from Tuesday’s campaign was put at 120, though this figure coul…