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Trump wins key climate, trade concessions at stormy G20

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Donald Trump

Hamburg : – US President Donald Trump won key concessions on climate and trade Saturday from world leaders at the most fractious G20 summit to date, in exchange for preserving the unity of the club of major industrialised and emerging economies.

In a final statement agreed by all 20 economies, 19 members including Russia, China and the European Union acknowledged Trump’s decision to go his own way on taking the US out of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

But they also accommodated Washington’s wish to “work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently”.

While renewing a key anti-protectionist pledge, the communique for the first time underlined the right of countries to protect their markets with “legitimate trade defence instruments”.

Such wording gives room for Trump to push on with his “America First” policy.

Carried on a wave of public fury over deindustrialisation in vast areas of the United States, Trump had promised to “Buy American” and “Hire American”.

But that stance had set him against many of America’s allies, who warned Trump against an isolationist path.

Nevertheless, the wording of the final agreement marked the group of top economies’ decision to finally close ranks despite bitter differences.

– Trail of destruction –

Just behind the tightly secured G20 summit venue, charred road barricades, trashed shops and stones, debris and shattered glass bore testimony to an anarchic night, when police commandoes with semi-automatic weapons detained militants who hurled rocks from rooftops.

The clashes had blocked US First Lady Melania Trump at her residence on Friday, forcing her to miss a tour of Hamburg harbour, and for G20 organisers to completely alter a programme for spouses of visiting leaders.

On Saturday, thousands of anti-riot cops were on standby and helicopters hovered overhead, as some 70,000 people were on the march again, according to organisers.

– Trump vs. Putin –

Within the summit walls, meetings have also been anything but harmonious.

All eyes were also on Trump’s diplomatic waltz during the billionaire’s first outing to the summit.

His most eagerly awaited encounter was a head-to-head with Russia’s strongman President Vladimir Putin — their first — which lasted two and a quarter hours on Friday.

A day after Trump slammed Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and Syria, the two men had a “robust and lengthy exchange” about allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

But Tillerson, who was present at the marathon meeting, also said the two alpha-male leaders “connected very quickly” with “very clear positive chemistry”.

Trump said Saturday that the tete-a-tete was “tremendous”.

Further driving a wedge between the UK and the European Union, Trump met Saturday with British Prime Minister Theresa May and said he was looking forward to a “very powerful” trade deal “very, very quickly”.

His comments came despite the EU warning London against negotiating any separate agreement before Britain’s divorce from the bloc is complete.

But Trump faced another thorny meeting later, when he is due to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

North Korea’s first inter-continental ballistic missile test is expected to top the discussions, with Trump warning Thursday that Pyongyang’s military sabre-rattling would bear “consequences”.

Trump had also said he is considering a “severe” response to its “very, very bad behaviour”.

Ahead of the talks with Xi, Tillerson said the US would continue to press China to do more to rein in Pyongyang.

“Our engagement is unchanged with China and our expectations are unchanged. We have not given up hope,” he added.

AFP

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France ditches plans for controversial west coast airport

Activists on the 1,600-hectare rural site say they have developed it into a utopia of organic farming and political debate.

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Edouard Philippe

The French government on Wednesday formally abandoned decades-old plans for a controversial new airport on the west coast that became a site of resistance for environmental activists.

In a keenly awaited announcement, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the divisions unleashed by the proposed new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near the city of Nantes made it impossible to proceed.

“The project cannot go ahead in a climate of bitter opposition between two sides of the population that are nearly equal in size,” he said, adding: “The project is therefore abandoned.

The decision ends years of debate over a project first mooted in the 1960s — but sets the stage for a possible standoff with environmental activists who have been occupying the airport site for the past decade.

Activists on the 1,600-hectare rural site say they have developed it into a utopia of organic farming and political debate.

Philippe gave them until the spring to leave voluntarily, after which they would be evicted.

“We will put a stop to the no-go zone which has flourished in this area for nearly 10 years,” he said.

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Southern California wildfire largest on record

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Los Angeles, Dec 23: The wildfire, which has razed 273,400 acres in southern California so far, has become the largest wildfire in the state since records began.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said that the Thomas fire, which began on December 4, had surpassed the fire Cedar, which had burned 273,246 acres in San Diego county in October 2003, reports Efe news.

Records of the area destroyed by wildfires have been kept by the organisation since 1932.

Thomas has destroyed 1,063 buildings and killed two, compared to the 2,820 destroyed by Cedar and 15 deaths caused.

Although during the first few days Thomas was difficult to control and spread rapidly through Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, in the last few days emergency services have managed to practically stop the wildfire’s progress and have contained 65 per cent of the flames.

This year is turning out to be California’s worst year for wildfires on record, mainly because of massive fires in October in several counties in the northern part of the state, which ravaged many wineries in Napa and Sonoma counties.

Those fires claimed the lives of 44 people and destroyed close to 8,900 houses and structures, according to the final estimates of the authorities.

IANS

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Assam: 40 Elephants die in 100 days as man-animal conflicts increase

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Elephants
Elephant crossinf railway line

Almost 40 Elephants died due to unnatural incidents within 100 days in Assam. According to a report published in The Times Of India , All of them have been killed due to unnatural causes, with the primary reasons being mowing down by moving train, electrocution, poisoning and accidentally falling in ditches especially in tea garden areas.

Bibhab Talukdar, secretary general of Aaranyak, an NGO that works on biodiversity conservation told the times of India,“It is very unfortunate that more than 40 elephants have died in the last 100 days. It clearly shows that elephants are not getting priority when it comes to conservation of animals.”

While rhinos in state are confined to national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, an estimated population of 500 elephants in Assam have habitats across all reserved forests. The state has five elephant reserves covering an estimated area of 10,967-sq km. Only a small portion of these reserves are in protected areas, in the form of national parks or wildlife sanctuaries, while the rest are reserved forest areas.

Conservationists pointed out that elephant reserves in the state do not enjoy the same level of protection as national parks. They fear the large-scale deforestation of elephant habitats, which lie outside protected areas, has endangered the survival of elephants.

WeForNews

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