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International News (6733)

27
February

VOInews, Jakarta : US President Joe Biden said Monday that he hopes a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that would pause hostilities and allow for remaining hostages to be released can take effect by early next week.

As reported by Arabnews.com (27/2) asked when he thought a ceasefire could begin, Biden said that he hopes by the beginning of the weekend.

Negotiations are underway for a week long ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to allow for the release of hostages being held in Gaza by the militant group in return for Israel releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

The proposed six-week pause in fighting would also include allowing hundreds of trucks to deliver desperately needed aid into Gaza every day. (Arabnews.com)

27
February

VOInews, Jakarta: Newly installed Malaysian king Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar warned opposition lawmakers against disrupting political stability on Monday (Feb 26), in a maiden parliamentary speech that will likely bolster the position of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his unity government.

At the opening of the third session of the 15th parliament, Sultan Ibrahim also expressed support for Mr Anwar’s economic reforms and raised concerns about the country’s debt, urging the government to improve its fiscal position. Both points attracted thumps of support from the House, packed with Members of Parliament (MPs) dressed in white ceremonial garb.

The loudest cheers came when the king declared he would not entertain any moves to derail political stability, a veiled reference to earlier speculation that the opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) was trying to overthrow the unity government using backdoor manoeuvres. (Channelnewsasia.com)

27
February

VOInews, Jakarta: Sweden has cleared its final obstacle to joining Nato after Hungary's parliament voted to ratify the bid. The Nordic nation applied to join the defence alliance after Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

As reported by BBC.com (27/2), last week Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban that all Nato members are expected to help an ally which comes under attack.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said it was a "historic day" and a "big step" for Sweden to abandon 200 years of neutrality. (BBC.com)

28
February

Smoke from bushfires rises north of Beaufort, near Ballarat in Victoria, Australia on Feb 24, 2024. (File Photo: AAP Image via Reuters/David Crosling) - 

 

 

Voinews, Sydney - Hundreds of thousands of residents in Australia's southeast were told to evacuate on Wednesday (Feb 28) due to an intense heatwave that authorities said could further spread a massive bushfire in Victoria state, which faces its worst conditions in four years.

Extreme fire ratings have been issued for large parts of Victoria with the Wimmera region in the west given a catastrophic ranking, the top warning level. Mildura, a rural city of about 56,000, could touch 45 degrees Celsius, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

A potential fire impact zone that covers several rural towns has been identified as officials urged around 30,000 residents there to leave their homes by Wednesday morning.

"Today will be a very challenging day for firefighters," Jason Heffernan, Chief Officer at Victoria fire department told ABC television. "Today is one of those days when communities may need to take immediate action at very short notice."

Hundreds of firefighters were still battling a massive blaze near the city of Ballarat, 95 km west of Melbourne. The fire, burning since last Thursday, has already destroyed six homes, killed livestock and burnt more than 20,000 hectares (200 square kilometres).

A heat wave is set to sweep in from Australia's outback interior, moving across Victoria before likely shifting east to the state of New South Wales on Thursday. Total fire bans are in place across several cities, including Melbourne.

Dry lightning could spark new fires while strong winds forecast from Wednesday afternoon could spread the existing one near Ballarat, Heffernan said.

Heffernan urged people to reconsider any decision to stay back to protect their homes.

"Unless your property is immaculately prepared and you have firefighting resources available and you are fit and you are mentally capable to sustain a long duration firefight ... my strong advice to the community is to leave early," he said//CNA-VOI

 

28
February

Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of TikTok logo in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration - 

 

 

Voinews, Jakarta - ByteDance-owned short video app TikTok is replacing several senior executives including the person running its trust and safety unit which handles content moderation, the Information reported on Tuesday, citing people at the company and a memo sent to staff.

Adam Presser, operations head of the app who reports to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, will now oversee trust and safety, according to the Information.

Last month, Chew testified before Congress alongside Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg and other tech and media heads in a hearing where lawmakers accused the companies of failing to protect children from escalating threats of sexual predation on their platforms.

Replying to questions from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, TikTok's CEO had said that the company would spend more than $2 billion on trust and safety efforts. Cormac Keenan, who had led global trust and safety, will now take on a strategic advisory role in the senior leadership team, a spokesperson at TikTok confirmed//CNA-VOI

28
February

An artist's rendering of an ocean-based carbon dioxide removal plant. (Photo: Equatic) - 

 

 

 

Voinews, Singapore - Over the next 18 months, the world’s largest ocean-based carbon dioxide removal plant will be built in Singapore, following a successful pilot of the technology, project backers announced on Tuesday (Feb 27).

The US$20 million (S$26.9 million) full-scale demonstration plant, dubbed the Equatic-1, is a collaboration between Singapore’s national water agency PUB, UCLA and Equatic, a startup founded by UCLA scientists.

Equatic-1, to be co-funded by PUB, the National Research Foundation (NRF), Singapore, and UCLA’s Institute for Carbon Management (ICM), is the result of the successful launch and operation of two pilots in Los Angeles and Singapore in 2023.

When fully completed at PUB’s research and development facility in Tuas, Equatic-1 will be equipped to remove 10 metric tons of carbon dioxide per day from seawater and the atmosphere.

This is more than 100 times the 100kg of carbon dioxide removal per day at Equatic’s existing plant in Singapore.

"The pilot plant commissioned in Singapore in 2023 provided critical performance data to substantiate our carbon dioxide-removal efficiencies, hydrogen-production rates and energy requirements for the process," said Equatic co-founder Dante Simonetti.

"The findings helped define the pathway for the design and engineering of Equatic-1 based on scaling performance confirmed by the pilot system."

The Equatic process, formerly known as Project SeaChange, expands upon the ocean’s natural ability to store carbon dioxide by removing dissolved CO2 and enhancing its capacity to absorb more of the greenhouse gas.

Utilising electrolysis, an electrical current is passed through seawater brought in from the adjacent PUB desalination plants to break down water into its carbon-negative hydrogen and oxygen constituents.

The process allows atmospheric carbon dioxide, as well as CO2 dissolved in seawater, to be trapped in the form of solid calcium and magnesium-based materials for at least 10,000 years. These carbon byproducts could potentially be used in the construction industry for land restoration, cement, or concrete.

"We are pleased to further our collaboration with UCLA and Equatic, to develop a solution that has potential synergies with PUB’s desalination plants," said PUB chief engineering and technology officer Pang Chee Meng.

For PUB, which has set a target to achieve net zero emissions by 2045, the collaboration with UCLA and Equatic is part of Singapore’s broader efforts to source for novel technologies, such as carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS), which could contribute to mitigating the impacts of climate change.

"At PUB, we firmly believe that technological advancements, delivered in partnership with academia and the private sector, hold the key to addressing the complex challenges posed by climate change," said Dr Pang.

If Equatic-1 is successful, the technology would allow for the greenhouse gas to be removed and durably stored, while simultaneously producing nearly 300kg of carbon-negative hydrogen daily.

According to the World Bank, the average global annual carbon emissions per capita in 2020 was about 4.3 metric tons.

At full scale, Equatic-1 can remove as much carbon dioxide as what almost 850 people produce annually.

If the plant hits its goals, Equatic plans to commercialise the technology to launch commercial plants that can remove nearly 110,000 metric tones of carbon dioxide per year, equivalent to the amount produced by 25,000 people.

"We are very grateful for the catalytic support of PUB and NRF, which have helped us create a world-class partnership in our joint efforts to mitigate climate change," said Equatic co-founder and ICM director Gaurav N Sant.

"Scaling carbon dioxide removal solutions requires technology, bold and committed partners, and a focus on timely and measurable success. We have been very fortunate to create this shared vision with our partners in Singapore to pilot and scale Equatic’s solutions."

Equatic-1 also utilises newly developed selective anodes from the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to produce oxygen while also eliminating the unwanted byproduct of chlorine during seawater electrolysis.

This achieves circularity because it creates hydrogen, a clean source of energy, while simultaneously removing carbon dioxide emissions.

Carbon credits from Equatic-1 are allocated to the project’s partners, and Equatic has entered into agreements with companies such as Boeing for the purchase of carbon credits from future commercial plants//CNA-VOI

28
February

Power-generating windmill turbines are seen during sunset at a wind park in Cantaing-sur-Escaut, France, on Nov 9, 2023. (File Photo: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol) - 

 

 

 

Voinews, London - The European Union's wind power target for 2030 is within reach due to a rebound in investment and improved permitting procedures, an industry association report showed on Tuesday (Feb 27).

In an outlook on the sector to 2030, WindEurope forecasts that the EU will install an average of 29 gigawatts (GW) in wind capacity each year, increasing installed capacity to 393 GW. To meet the EU's climate targets, 33 GW a year needs to be installed.

Two-thirds of the installations will be onshore but offshore installations are expected to pick up rapidly towards the end of the decade. Last year, the EU installed a record 16.2 GW of wind energy capacity, 79 per cent of which was onshore.

Permitting procedures for new projects is improving due to new EU rules aimed at streamlining and speeding up the process. Germany and Spain permitted 70 per cent more onshore wind last year than in 2022, while France, Greece, Belgium and Britain also saw higher permitting volumes.

Investments in new capacity also increased last year due to the easing of inflation and other factors such as the European Commission's wind power package in October which set out actions to strengthen and support the industry.

New investment in offshore wind totalled 30 billion euros (US$32.52 billion) last year, up from 0.4 billion euros in 2022, the report said.

"Permitting has improved thanks to new EU rules. Investments are up. Record volumes are being auctioned and built. And governments have committed with the Wind Power Package and Charter to strengthen Europe’s wind energy industry," said WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson.

"Europe’s wind supply chain is returning to profit and building the new factories needed to deliver the EU’s targets. We’re now confident that we can get close to the EU goal that wind is 35 per cent of electricity by 2030, up from 19 per cent today - provided Europe accelerates the build-out of grids to connect all the new wind farms," he added.

The main risk to meeting the 2030 target is delays in connecting wind farms to electricity grids and governments need to focus on accelerating the development of grids, the report said//CNA-VOI

26
February

Tuvalu's new prime minister, Feleti Teo. (Photo: Benar News/Tuvalu TV)

 

VOInews.id: Former Tuvaluan attorney-general, Feleti Teo was named the Pacific Islands country's new prime minister in a ceremony on Monday, a month after an election in January.

25
February

Smoke from bushfires rises north of Beaufort, near Ballarat in Victoria, Australia, Feb 24, 2024. (Photo: AAP Image/David Crosling/Pool/via REUTERS) - 

 

 

Voinews, Sydney - Australia's Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pledged on Sunday (Feb 25) to provide whatever support was needed to assist Victoria state in a days-long wildfire emergency that has razed homes after authorities warned extreme heat could fan the blazes this week.

"We will provide whatever support is requested from Victoria," Albanese told reporters in the city of Frankston, Victoria, according to a transcript.

"It's a reminder of the need for us to be vigilant for us to continue to work and act on the threat that is climate change."

The emergency has killed livestock, destroyed six homes and forced more than 2,000 people to leave western towns and head to the city of Ballarat, 95km west of the state capital, Melbourne.

Australia is in the grips of an El Nino weather pattern, which is typically associated with extreme phenomena such as wildfires, cyclones and droughts.

More than 15 bushfires were burning in Victoria on Sunday, with the most serious blaze, ranked at the second highest danger rating, near several remote towns, according to the state's emergency authority.

State authorities have said there are concerns about the weather this week particularly Wednesday into Thursday when extreme heat is forecast that could further fan the fires.

Around 1,000 firefighters supported by more than 50 aircraft have battled the fires since they started.

The last two bushfire seasons in Australia have been subdued compared with the 2019-2020 "Black Summer", when bushfires destroyed an area the size of Turkey, killing 33 people and 3 billion animals//CNA-VOI

 

 

22
February

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 23: Passengers check in for United Airlines flights at O'Hare International Airport on January 23, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. United Airlines said Monday it expects to face a loss in its first quarter due to the temporary grounding of Boeing 737 Max 9 jets due to safety concerns. Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

VOInews, Jakarta: United Airlines announced Wednesday it will resume flights to Israel next month, becoming the first US carrier to bring back flights since last fall's suspensions with the outbreak of war in Gaza.

 

United plans initial flights to Tel Aviv from its New York-area hub in Newark, New Jersey on March 2 and 4, with a goal of having daily non-stop service restored from March 6.

 

"United conducted a detailed safety analysis in making this decision, including close work with security experts and government officials in the United States and Israel," the US carrier said in a news release.

 

"United will continue to monitor the situation in Tel Aviv and adjust the schedule as warranted," the company said.

 

The company hopes to bring back a second flight from Newark as soon as May, United said, adding that it would evaluate bringing back flights from San Francisco, Washington and Chicago as early as the fall.

 

United and US rivals Delta Air Lines and American Airlines suspended service to Israel after the October 7 attack by Hamas, which has been followed by an ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip by Israel.

 

A Delta spokesperson referred AFP to the company's January 19 statement canceling flights to Tel Aviv through April 30 that said the company is "continuously monitoring the security situation" in the region.

 

American Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

Other companies that have resumed service to Israel include British Airways, Lufthansa, Air France and RyanAir.

 

Source: jmb/dw/AFP

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