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17 Nov

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

 

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Corruption is what defines them all

They might be having all sorts of problems enforcing a progressive, uniform tax throughout the country, but if there is one thing that has been embraced most gladly in all parts of the country, it is political corruption. Whatever be their ideological, personal, or other differences, the inordinate greed for money, licit, if possible, otherwise, illicit now defines the entire political class. Even a self-avowedly most progressive State in the country boasting of one hundred percent literacy is not exempt from the taint of political corruption.

Shockingly, not even when the Communists rule the roast in the State. The case in point is the strictures passed against the Transport Minister Thomas Chandy in the Pinarayi Vijayan Government by the Kerala High Court. Chandy was accused of encroaching on public land in an environmentally sensitive location, a fact duly established by an inquiry by the Alappuzha district authorities. He diverted the course of the rivulets and encroached upon the paddy fields for adding further commercial heft to his Lake Palace resort. Chandy, the wealthiest member of the State Assembly with assets close to Rs. 100 crores declared in his affidavit to the Election Commission, runs the resort in partnership with a few others. When the encroachment first became a matter of public controversy, he denied it outright.

Following public hue and cry, the Revenue Minister, who belongs to the CPI, ordered the district collector to inquire. Instead of respecting the findings, Chandy rubbished the report, saying it was biased. He went to the High Court on Tuesday, which berated the minister for questioning the report of his own government. On Wednesday, following popular pressure for his exit, the CPI ministers boycotted the Cabinet meeting in protest against Chandy’s continuance. They accused the CM of shielding the tainted minister. Late in the evening, Chandy was obliged to quit, even though he still protests his innocence. Chandy is a member of the two-member NCP legislature party. The other NCP MLA, A K Saseendran, is facing allegations of sexual molestation by a woman journalist. The report of a judicial commission examining the charge is still awaited.

This leaves the NCP without representation in the State government. But such is the electoral fragility of the caste-and community-linked politics in Kerala that the Chief Minister is keen to keep the two NCP MLAs in good humor, even though he has a comfortable majority. In short, what matters is power and how you retain it is unimportant so long you hold on to it under all circumstances. It is a comment on the vulnerability of all parties, the Kerala CPI(M) included, that they must embrace the corrupt and criminal caste leaders since the identity politics has made them count electorally.

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World Politics

Germany

Exclusive Questions over German politician’s ‘links to Russian pipeline’>>

United States

Steve Bell on Donald Trump and George Papadopoulos – cartoon

Donald Trump has tried to distance himself from a former foreign policy aide who pleaded guilty to perjury over his contacts with Russians during last year’s US election campaign

Opinions clash in Roy Moore’s home town: ‘There’s a lot of rumors in small-town Alabama’>>

Al Franken apologizes after accusation he kissed and groped TV news anchor>>

House Republicans pass major tax cut bill after Trump’s closed-door speech>>

Officials do not believe the leak in TransCanada Corp’s pipeline, which carries oil from Canada to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma, affected drinking water

A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp’s planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota, in January.

A depot used to store pipes for Transcanada Corp’s planned Keystone XL oil pipeline is seen in Gascoyne, North Dakota, in January. Photograph: Terray Sylvester/Reuters

TransCanada Corp’s Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil in north-eastern South Dakota, the company and state regulators reported on Thursday.

Crews shut down the pipeline on Thursday morning and activated emergency response procedures after a drop in pressure was detected resulting from the leak south of a pump station in Marshall County, TransCanada said in a statement. The cause was being investigated.

Officials do not believe the leak affected any surface water bodies or threatened any drinking water systems from the spill on to agricultural land, said Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist manager at the South Dakota department of environment and natural resources, which has dispatched a staff member to the site.

“Ultimately, the cleanup responsibility lies with TransCanada, and they’ll have to clean it up in compliance with our state regulations,” Walsh said.

The pipeline transports crude from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma, passing through the eastern Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. It can handle nearly 600,000 barrels, or about 23m gallons, daily. TransCanada says on its website that the company has safely transported more than 1.5bn barrels of oil, or about 63bn gallons, through the system since operations began in 2010.

TransCanada said in its statement that it expected the pipeline to remain shut down as the company responds to the leak. It did not offer a time estimate.

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration did not immediately return an email requesting additional information from the Associated Press.

A leak and spill in south-eastern South Dakota in April 2016 prompted a weeklong shutdown of the pipeline. TransCanada estimated that just under 17,000 gallons of oil spilled on to private land during that leak. Federal regulators said an “anomaly” on a weld on the pipeline was to blame. No waterways or aquifers were affected.

TransCanada said at the time that the leak was the first detected on the pipeline since it began operating, though there had been leaks at pumping stations. One of those leaks happened in south-eastern North Dakota in May 2011, when 14,000 gallons spilled after a valve failed at a pumping station near the South Dakota border.

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‘Maybe the smog can bring us together’: toxic air chokes Pakistan and India

With Lahore suffering from air pollution almost equal to that enveloping Delhi, joint action to tackle the problem is urgently needed, say environmentalists

A Pakistani vendor carries balloons down a Lahore street amid heavy smog.

A Pakistani vendor carries balloons down a Lahore street amid heavy smog. Photograph: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

Parts of Pakistan have been enveloped by deadly smog in recent weeks, with the city of Lahore suffering almost as badly as the Indian capital Delhi.

Pictures and video that show Lahore looking like an apocalyptic landscape have left people in shock. Some residents have said they can’t see beyond their outstretched arm.

According to the app Airvisual and a Twitter user going by the handle @Lahoresmog, the air quality index, which measures the level of PM 2.5 pollutants in the air, has been set at “hazardous” over the past week, making a modest improvement in recent days.

Flights have been cancelled, schools have shut and major traffic jams and accidents have gridlocked the streets.

At its peak, Lahore’s levels of PM 2.5, the particles most damaging to health, were more than 30 times the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) safe limit. Environmentalists say air pollution is getting worse every year. According to WHO figures, in Pakistan during 2012, nearly 60,000 people died because of PM2.5 particles in the atmosphere.

Children playing cricket in Lahore. At times in recent weeks, Lahore’s levels of PM 2.5 were more than 30 times the WHO’s safe limit.

Children playing cricket in Lahore. At times in recent weeks, Lahore’s levels of PM 2.5 were more than 30 times the WHO’s safe limit. Photograph: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images

The causes of the air pollution are a combination of vehicle and industrial emissions, construction, seasonal dust, and crop burning. Analysts say because the causes and consequences of air pollution are not limited to a single nation state, it is time for cooperation between India and Pakistan to address the issue.

Shafqat Kakakhel, a former ambassador and deputy executive director of the UN Environment Programme, agrees.

“Both countries are now using wood for fuel and there is also bad quality of fuel in vehicles. The situation in India is definitely different because industrialisation in Punjab and Haryana is heavier than it is on our side. Their emissions come from the use of coal, we use gas – so basically the scale of pollution is much worse there.”

Delhi smog declared public health emergency – video

Abid Suleri, executive director of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, reiterated that the smog problem should be viewed as a cross-regional challenge. “This year [the smog] started a bit early, which shows the intensity of the problem. It is getting policymakers’ attention, but they seem clueless on how to handle it.

“Smog is a symptom. We need to introduce clean fuel, and renew efforts of reforestation: not only planting but taking care of saplings too. Also, by enforcing existing laws to control vehicular and industrial emissions.”

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