Category Archives: Uncategorized

China To Build Smog Eating City

By: Leanna Garfield of Business Insider 

The eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, like many of the country’s urban areas, suffers from intense smog. 

The Air Quality Index, which uses a scale from 0 to 500 (with higher numbers indicating worse pollution), rates Nanjing’s air quality as 132 – a level considered unhealthy for the public, especially those with respiratory disease.

The Italian design firm Stefano Boeri Architetti believes that building towers covered in plants could help the city reduce its pollution.

The company recently announced that it will build two skyscrapers that will hold a total of 1,100 trees and 2,500 cascading shrubs on their rooftops and balconies.

Construction on the buildings, called the Nanjing Green Towers, began in early 2017 and is set to wrap up next year.

The design will be similar to that of a two-tower complex that Boeri designed in Milan. Another tower in Lausanne, Switzerland will follow a similar plan and is expected to open by early 2018.

Though only two forest-like towers are currently underway, Boeri’s ultimate goal is to create an entire “forest city” in Nanjing and other Chinese cities.

The ‘forest towers’ in Nanjing will feature offices, a 247-room luxury hotel, a museum, and an architecture school.

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Trump Stands Corrected by The Relevance of Nato

By: Ben Kentish of The Independent

Donald Trump has rowed back on his claim that Nato is “obsolete”, saying his earlier comments were made when he did “not know much about” the military alliance.

The US President told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer during the presidential campaign that the 28-member state organisation was redundant and overly expensive for the US – a claim he repeated shortly before taking office in January.

“We are paying disproportionately,” he said at the time. “It’s too much, and frankly it’s a different world than it was when we originally conceived of the idea.”

Asked about his previous comments during an interview with the Associated Press, Mr Trump said they were a result of him “not knowing much” about Nato.

”They had a quote from me that Nato’s obsolete,” he said. “But they didn’t say why it was obsolete. I was on Wolf Blitzer – very fair interview – the first time I was ever asked about Nato, because I wasn’t in government.

“People don’t go around asking about Nato if I’m building a building in Manhattan, right? So they asked me, Wolf … asked me about Nato, and I said two things. Nato’s obsolete — not knowing much about Nato, now I know a lot about Nato — Nato is obsolete, and I said, ‘And the reason it’s obsolete is because of the fact they don’t focus on terrorism.’ You know, back when they did Nato there was no such thing as terrorism.”

Mr Trump appeared to change tack during a press conference with Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s Secretary-General, earlier in April.

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Canada Votes For Net Neutrality 

By: Jordan Pearson 

On Thursday afternoon, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), the country’s federal telecom regulator, dropped a bombshell ruling on the status of net neutrality—the principle that all web services should be treated equally by providers. And, blessedly, it’s good news.
The CRTC ruled that “[internet] service providers should treat data traffic equally to foster consumer choice, innovation and the free exchange of ideas,” a CRTC news release states. What this means is that service providers won’t be able to privilege certain services over others—say, YouTube or Apple Music—by letting you use them without dinging your data plan. This is a practice generally known as “zero-rating” or differential pricing.

Differential pricing contradicts the principle of net neutrality because it allows service providers to leverage their privileged position to decide which services are most attractive to their customers, effectively discriminating against others.
The CRTC’s decision is welcome news as its sister organization in the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is right now starting to roll back some of its previous commitments to net neutrality.
The CRTC ruling originated from complaints against Quebec-based provider Videotron’s unlimited music streaming service, which launched in 2015. The service allowed subscribers to stream music from third-party apps without it counting against their data plans.
Those complaints sparked a series of hearings on the practice of differential pricing. At the time of the hearings in the fall of last year, two of Canada’s “big three” telecom providers came out in support of differential pricing—Telus and Bell—while Rogers was the sole dissenting voice among the trio.

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U.N To Reveal War Crimes Documents That May Rewrite History 

By: Owen Bowcott of The Guardian 

War crimes files revealing early evidence of Holocaust death camps that was smuggled out of eastern Europe are among tens of thousands of files to be made public for the first time this week.

The once-inaccessible archive of the UN war crimes commission, dating back to 1943, is being opened by the Wiener Library in London with a catalogue that can be searched online.

The files establish that some of the first demands for justice came from countries that had been invaded, such as Poland and China, rather than Britain, the US and Russia, which eventually coordinated the post-war Nuremberg trials.

The archive, along with the UNWCC, was closed in the late 1940s as West Germany was transformed into a pivotal ally at the start of the cold war and use of the records was effectively suppressed. Around the same time, many convicted Nazis were granted early release after the anti-communist US senator Joseph McCarthy lobbied to end war crimes trials.

Access to the vast quantity of evidence and indictments is timed to coincide with the publication on Tuesday of Human Rights After Hitler: The Lost History of Prosecuting Axis War Crimes by Dan Plesch, a researcher who has been working on the documents for a decade.

The documents record the gathering of evidence shortly after the UN was founded in January 1942. They demonstrate that rape and forced prostitution were being prosecuted as war crimes in tribunals as far apart as Greece, the Philippines and Poland in the late 1940s, despite more recent suggestions that this was a legal innovation following the 1990s Bosnian conflict.

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Tensions Rise Between U.S and North Korea Over Nuclear Testing and Potential War

By: WILLIAM M. ARKIN, CYNTHIA MCFADDEN and KENZI ABOU-SABE of NBC

The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.

North Korea has warned that a “big event” is near, and U.S. officials say signs point to a nuclear test that could come as early as this weekend.

The intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site.

American heavy bombers are also positioned in Guam to attack North Korea should it be necessary, and earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group was being diverted to the area.

The U.S. strike could include missiles and bombs, cyber and special operations on the ground.

The danger of such an attack by the U.S. is that it could provoke the volatile and unpredictable North Korean regime to launch its own blistering attack on its southern neighbor.

“The leadership in North Korea has shown absolutely no sign or interest in diplomacy or dialogue with any of the countries involved in this issue,” Victor Cha, the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies told NBC News Thursday.

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Yet Another Company Caught Plotting To Raise The Price Of Cancer Drugs For Profit

By: Katie Forster of The Independent 

Leaked internal emails appear to show employees at one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies calling for “celebration” over price hikes of cancer drugs, an investigation has revealed.

Staff at Aspen Pharmacare reportedly plotted to destroy stocks of life-saving medicines during a price dispute with the Spanish health service in 2014.

After purchasing five different cancer drugs from British firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the company tried to sell the medicines in Europe for up to 40 times their previous price, reported The Times.

In 2013, the price of one pack of a chemotherapy drug called busulfan, used to treat leukaemia, rose from £5.20 to £65.22 in England and Wales, according to the newspaper.

The other four drugs, including leukeran, also used by leukaemia patients, and melphalan, for skin and ovarian cancers, also became up to four times more expensive.

Price rises for generic cancer drugs, such as those acquired by Aspen, cost the NHS in England around £380m a year for prescriptions dispensed outside hospitals, the European Cancer Congress has estimated.

In a confidential email published by The Times, an Aspen employee appeared to write: “We’ve signed new reimbursement and price agreement successfully: price increases are basically on line with European target prices (Leukeran, a bit higher!)… Let’s celebrate!”

When bargaining over drug prices in Spain, the pharmaceutical giant is said to have threatened to stop selling the cancer treatments unless the Health minister agreed to price rises of up to 4,000 per cent, reported Spanish daily El Confidencial Digital at the time.

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Syrian President Al Assad Claims Video Of Gas Attack Was Fabricated (Fake News) 

By: Bethan McKernan

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has reiterated that his government had nothing to do with the chemical gas incident in a rebel-held village last week that killed more than 80 people.

Allegations that his forces had deliberately poisoned civilians were ”100 per cent fabrication”, the president said on Thursday, adding that the Syrian government gave up its chemical weapons stocks as part of a 2013 agreement. 

“Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand-in-glove with the terrorists. They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack,” he said.

Assad made the comments in an interview broadcast by AFP, his first since the US struck a Syrian airbase with missiles in retaliation for the events in Idlib province. 

The international community has condemned the deaths in the village of Khan Sheikhoun, which most Western intelligence services believe occurred thanks to a deliberate attack carried out by the Syrian government. 

Damascus and allies in Moscow have denied the regime attacked the village with chemical weapons, maintaining that the casualties were caused by gases released after an al-Qaeda-affiliated ammunitions depot was hit by conventional munitions in a legitimate government air raid. 

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North Korea Sends 600,000 People Out The Capital City To “Purify” The Population  

By: Lee Young-Jong of Meng News 

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently ordered the deportation of nearly 600,000 Pyongyang residents to the suburbs, a local source told the JoongAng Ilbo Monday. 

The deportation represents one-fourth of Pyongyang’s current population of 2.6 million. It is not known when they will be forced to move or to where. 

“Population control was the pretext of the latest order,” said the source, who asked for anonymity, “but in reality, the purpose is to ‘purify’ the North Korean capital and allow only the loyal elite class to live there.” 

Among those who were chosen by authorities to move are people whose relatives defected to South Korea, had been jailed in a prison camp, used drugs or counterfeit money, and produced, distributed or sold pirated films from the South. 

Those who were caught selling other illegally imported goods in a jangmadang, or North Korean black market, were excluded because such cases have become so prevalent that it is no longer considered a serious crime, the source said. 

The State Security Department and People’s Safety Agency are screening the candidates. 

A South Korean government official said the North has sporadically kicked a few dissidents out of the capital in the past, but never a group as large as this. 
Kim’s order comes as the leader is spending most of the country’s resources in modernizing districts in the capital. In 2012, shortly after he rose to power, Kim constructed Changjon Street, a high-rise apartment complex. 
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Shooting Outside UK Parliamanet After Car Ploughs Though Crowd.

Compliments of The Independent

A police officer is believed to have died after an assailant launched a car and knife attack on Westminster in central London, ramming into members of the public on Westminster Bridge before entering Parliament grounds, where he was shot by officers.

One woman died on Westminster Bridge and the attack is being described by police as a “terrorist incident”. At least 10 others have been hurt in total, according to authorities, some with “catastrophic” injuries.
At least three gun shots were heard by those inside Westminster, and proceedings in the House of Commons were immediately suspended. Theresa May will chair a meeting of the Government’s emergency Cobra committee later today, a Downing Street spokesman said.
The deputy speaker of the Commons, David Lidington, announced the suspension in the House, saying a police officer had been stabbed and the “alleged assailant shot by armed police”.

Early reports indicate the car, which mounted the pavement on Westminster Bridge and mowed into around a dozen people, was the same vehicle which then rammed into the railings of the Palace of Westminster, just around the corner.

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In Efforts To Combat Deforestation This Man Has Been Planting His Own Forest

By: Sam Cowie Of The Guardian

When Antonio Vicente bought a patch of land in São Paulo state and said he wanted to use it to plant a forest, people called him crazy. It was 1973 and forests were seen by many as an obstacle to progress and profit.

Brazil’s then military government encouraged wealthy landowners to expand by offering them generously subsidised credit to invest in modern farming techniques, a move the ruling generals hoped would boost national agriculture.

But water, or an impending lack of it, was Vicente’s concern as he worriedly watched the expansion of cattle grazing and industry, the destruction of local forests, and the growth of the population and the rapid urbanisation of the state.

One of 14 children, Vicente grew up on a farm where his father worked. He’d watched him cut down the trees at the owners’ orders, for use in charcoal production and to clear more land for grazing cattle. Eventually the farm’s water springs dried up and never returned.

Maintaining forests are essential for water supplies because trees absorb and retain water in their roots and help to prevent soil erosion. So with some donkeys and a small team, he worked on his little patch – 31 hectares (77 acres) of land that had been razed for grazing cattle – and set about regenerating.

“The area was totally stripped,” he says, demonstrating by pointing to a painting of the treeless land in 1976. “The water supplies had nearly dried up.”
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