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news 9 : Should we solar panel the Sahara desert?

Could one solution to climate change be to harvest the power of sunlight where it shines brightest on the planet? Should we solar panel the Sahara desert?
Four experts discuss the radical proposal with the BBC World Service Inquiry programme.

Gerhard Knies: Scientifically sound and economically viable

Dr Gerhard Knies co-founded TREC, a network of experts on sustainable energy that gave rise to the Desertec initiative, which aimed to provide Europe with clean energy by harnessing sustainable power from sun-rich deserts.
"Fifteen minutes after I learned about the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, I made an assessment of how much energy comes from the sun to the earth. It was about 15,000 times as much as humanity was using, so it was not a question of the source, it was a question of the technology.
"When the climate change issue became more prominent, I said we have to pull forward this solution, because it solves the industrial vulnerability problem of our civilisation, and at the same time, the climate vulnerability.
"My strategy was to look for amplifiers. A very good one was The Club of Rome, with its president, Prince Hassan from Jordan. We had a seminar with experts. We included European participants, but also people from North Africa, Jordan and the Middle East. They all said 'Yes, that would be great for us to have such a thing.'

"We did a study so that we had numbers which are scientifically sound, based on the present knowledge in a clear way. We got support from Greenpeace and from several scientific institutions and big companies.
"We didn't want politicians in the game; it should just be scientifically sound and economically viable. But politicians liked it, and when the Desertec Industrial Initiative launched in Munich in July 2009, we were flooded with politicians. When they see the potential for a solution they get interested.
"The Desertec Initiative was made to study the plan from the angle of industry and see if they find flaws or if everything was right to pave the way for investments, but not to do the investments. [After that work was done] they began to fight about which direction it should go in and dissolved.
"The second stage is now called the Desert Energy Industrial Initiative and they want to organise implementation, and that is beginning.
"At the time when [the idea] was conceived, North Africa looked quite different. Now, this turbulence changes the whole business environment, and the region has to go through that. But the demand, the need to tap into the solar energy in deserts, has not disappeared."

Tony Patt: Beware political complications

Tony Patt is professor of climate policy at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. He leads the research for the European Research Council on whether the Saharan sun could power Europe.
"The technology is good. It's matured a lot in the last few years in terms of thermal storage. That allows you to take the heat that you capture from the sun and store it for, let's say, up to a day, and produce the power later. That means you can generate it around the clock.

"And the Sahara desert is so big that if there is cloudy weather, it's localised, and with thermal storage, it can provide absolutely reliable power.
"Where I'm from in the US, Boston gets a huge amount of electricity from northern Quebec, which is about 1,000 miles away, via a single power cable. They're not hard to build as long as you get political approval from all the jurisdictions you're going through.
"They don't lose much power. Maybe over 1,000 miles you lose 2%.
"The biggest potential pitfall is that it's politically complicated. You're not going to develop solar energy in the Sahara unless you have a very strong state involvement, both on the side of the consumers and the project developers.
"Solar electricity is still a little bit more expensive than electricity from fossil fuels. It's becoming competitive, but it's not clearly competitive yet. So it's nothing that the private sector is doing on its own.
"There are a lot of political battles that need to take place to figure out where we're going to build the infrastructure, how it's going to get paid for. And perhaps more critically, how and when we're going to turn off the old infrastructure.
"Over the last 15 years, Germany has taken vast steps to support solar energy, but that was tied to building it within Germany, creating jobs for Germans. There's less of a clear case for European governments to support what is still more expensive energy when it's people in other parts of the world who are getting those jobs."

Daniel Egbe: Africa must share the benefits

Danie Egbe is an evaluator for the World Bank, a chemist, an academic and the founder of ANSOLE, a network of Africans for Africa, with a focus on renewable energy. He co-authored a book on renewable energy in Sub-Saharan Africa.
"Africa has an acute energy problem. Only around 30% of sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity. Economic growth in Africa is now around 5.5%, but this is hampered by lack of energy.
"The presentations which were given in the past have arrows showing how energy will be funnelled to the north. But there was no arrow pointing down to sub-Saharan Africa.
"As an African, knowing the history about the exploitation of the continent, where there is a big gap when it comes to riches, and Africa is still poor due to the colonial past and the slave time, nobody can just come and do things as if we are still in the past.
"Things have changed. Africans are self-confident now, they want to participate in their development, and they want to have part of their resources, they are not just there to always give to the rest of the world and remain poor.
"The African Network for Solar Energy is there to see that the African interest is taken into consideration.


"I'm not against a big solar project. They can exist, but can only be in certain parts of the countries. If I want to supply electricity to very remote areas, the off-grid approach is the best, where somebody has his own solar panel, or a group of villagers can share one, and they control the production.
"If those conditions are fulfilled, why not? Solar energy is for the whole world. But let's not just come and say 'Okay, Joe has something, I come and take it from him and I leave him alone.' No I have to see, 'Okay, Joe has something, maybe he can share it with me, and we can benefit from it?'"

Helen Anne Curry: Technology alone is rarely the answer

Helen Anne Curry is a lecturer in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge University
"I am interested in exploring the persistent optimism that surrounds new technologies, even after multiple failures.
"The technological fix is appealing; it's exciting to think we can solve problems without fundamentally having to change the way we live, the way we get to work every day or the number of cheap flights we take.
"But you can't just take one point in the system and say 'that's solved'; there is much more that extends outwards.

"Think of the work that was done to solve local air pollution in the mid-twentieth century, which was to build super-tall smokestacks.
"But they don't eliminate the pollution from the air. They just throw it up much higher in the atmosphere, so in fact it circulates further. One of the subsequent problems of building these was they created acid rain in places that didn't have this kind of concentrated industry.
"We can use our science and technology knowledge to bring other peoples of the world into the quality of life that the global north has enjoyed for far longer.
"Yet if you look back on 60 years of policy work and intervention, there's a lot of ways in which we've failed. We haven't been able to deliver the social, scientific and technological progress which we envisioned.
"I think the only reason to pursue [solar panels in the Sahara] would be if it were a stopgap measure in which the long-term goal would be to reduce consumption of energy and to change our lifestyles to be more sustainable, so that subsequent generations don't have to deal with as many problems as we're going to leave them."

 #news 9

news channel 5 : England beat South Africa in first Test in Durban by 241 runs

England claimed six wickets for just 38 runs on day five of the first Test against South Africa to seal an emphatic 241-run win in Durban.
South Africa resumed on 136-4 in search of a distant 416 but lost four wickets for seven runs in the first nine overs.
Moeen Ali removed danger man AB de Villiers with the third ball and Steven Finn finished with 4-42 as the hosts were all out before lunch for 174.
The second of the four-match series begins in Cape Town on Saturday.
It was only England's second Test victory away from home since 2012 and their largest in terms of runs against South Africa since the Proteas were re-admitted to international cricket in 1991.
In contrast it was a fourth defeat in the last five Tests for South Africa, whose position at the top of the Test rankings is under increasing threat from India.
The South Africans have gone seven matches without a Test victory, which equals their longest run without a win since their re-admission.
In the 138-year history of Test cricket, only three teams have avoided defeat from being four wickets down on the final day.
And it soon became apparent South Africa would not alter that statistic when their star batsman De Villiers missed a turning off-break from Moeen that was given out lbw and upheld on review.

Match reaction

England captain Alastair Cook said: "The lads played really well. It was tough to bat but the way Nick Compton played after being out of Test cricket for a while, he was a rock in the first innings to give us a platform, and then we bowled well in both innings.
"The bowlers mixed their pace and were relentless. It's pretty easy to captain because you know they will deliver.
"It's our first away win for a long time so we will enjoy this but we know what a strong side South Africa are at home."

Match-winning Moeen

Former England spinner Graeme Swann described the De Villiers wicket as "massive for Moeen, because he will have gone to bed very nervous that people expect him to win the game".
Having made that crucial breakthrough, Moeen then produced another wicket maiden in his next over, drawing Temba Bavuma out of his crease and allowing Jonny Bairstow to atone for his spurned leg-side stumping of De Villiers on day four.
Bairstow calmly whipped off the bails to record England's first stumping for 38 Tests, since Mumbai 2012.
After Finn bowled Dale Steyn, Moeen trapped Kyle Abbott lbw as England grabbed the first four wickets of the day in quick succession.
Former England spinner Graeme Swann on Test Match Special
"That wicket in the first over just killed South Africa off. I can't believe it's actually got so close to lunch. They just fell like dominoes afterwards."
Chris Woakes captured his first wicket of the match when Dane Piedt was caught off the inside edge onto the pad and fittingly the final wicket went to Stuart Broad, who took 4-25 in the first innings.
After an hour and three quarters of play on the final day, Broad pinned last man Morne Morkel lbw to claim his 320th Test wicket.
But it was Moeen, who finished with match figures of 7-116, who was named man of the match.

South Africa's struggles

 

Victory against West Indies in Cape Town at the beginning of 2015 was South Africa's only Test success of the year and they lost four and drew three of their other matches.
The Proteas scored 421 against the Windies in Cape Town in January but did not reach 250 again in 10 completed Test innings in 2015.
Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott told BBC Test Match Special: "I thought it would be close this series. South Africa look as if they're past their best, with injuries not helping. They dropped three catches in no time when they were under pressure.
"They've got real problems. I don't know if the technique of the South Africa batsmen is good enough to stay in against good bowling."
South Africa's Test results in 2015
DateMatchResult
2-6 January, Cape TownThird Test v West IndiesSA won by eight wickets
21-25 July, ChittagongFirst Test v BangladeshMatch drawn
30 July-3 August, DhakaSecond Test v BangladeshMatch drawn
5-7 November, MohaliFirst Test v IndiaIndia won by 108 runs
14-18 November, BangaloreSecond Test v IndiaMatch drawn
25-27 November, NagpurThird Test v IndiaIndia won by 124 runs
3-7 December, DelhiFourth Test v IndiaIndia won by 337 runs
26-30 December, DurbanFirst Test v EnglandEngland won by 241 runs

 #news channel 5

news 12 long island : El Nino weather 'could be as bad as 1998', says Nasa

The US space agency Nasa has warned that the effects of the current El Nino weather phenomenon could be as bad as those of 1998, the strongest on record.
That El Nino played havoc with world weather systems and was blamed for several extreme weather events.
The current El Nino has been linked to several floods and unusually warm conditions in the northern hemisphere.
The phenomenon sees warm waters of the central Pacific expand eastwards towards North and South America.
El Nino, which occurs every two to seven years, usually peaks late in the calendar year, although the effects can persist well into the following spring and last up to 12 months.
Nasa says the current El Nino "shows no signs of waning", based on the latest satellite image of the Pacific Ocean.
It bears "a striking resemblance" to one from December 1997, the agency says, "the signature of a big and powerful El Nino".
Strongest El Nino since 1950 on the way
Matt McGrath: 'High impacts' from globally stronger El Nino

This year's El Nino has been linked to the worst floods seen in 50 years in Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil.
The floods there have forced more than 150,000 people from their homes.
More than 100,000 of those have been in the Paraguayan capital Asuncion alone.
In the US, 13 people have died in the US state of Missouri as a result of flooded rivers after tornadoes and storms hit the region.
A five-mile (8km) section of the Mississippi River near St Louis was closed to vessels as a result of the "hazardous conditions" that have been caused.

Worries grow for 2016: BBC Environment correspondent Matt McGrath

As both droughts and floods continue, the scale of the potential impacts is worrying aid agencies.
About 31 million people are said to be facing food insecurity across Africa, a significant increase over the last year.
Aid agencies like Oxfam are worried that the impacts of the continuing El Nino in 2016 will add to existing stresses such as the wars in Syria, South Sudan and Yemen.
They say that food shortages are likely to peak in Southern Africa in February, with Malawi estimating that almost three million people will require humanitarian assistance before March.
Concerns over humanitarian impact

El Nino has also been cited as a factor in the floods that have hit northern parts of the UK, forcing thousands from their homes and leaving thousands more without power.
Storm Frank, which is expected to bring fresh rain and flooding to the UK this week, is part of a weather system which could see temperatures at the North Pole 50F (27C) higher than normal for this time of year.
Higher temperatures than the seasonal average have been noted in many parts of Europe and the US.
Average temperatures on Christmas Day in France were the second highest on record, just below those of 1997.
The mild weather has forced farmers to harvest crops such as salad, strawberries and asparagus early, with reports of large amounts of produce going to waste.
Desperation in one French ski resort at the lack of snow led to 100 tons of snow being airlifted in by helicopter.
In Italy, experts say the unusually calm and dry weather has exacerbated pollution over the cities of Milan and Rome.


By contrast, in Mexico El Nino is being blamed for freezing temperatures in the north of the country, with snow seen in parts of the Sonoran desert for the first time in 33 years. Three deaths have been blamed on the cold in Sonora state

 #news 12 long island

news 13 : US storms: Missouri floods close Mississippi near St Louis

A five-mile (8km) section of the Mississippi River near St Louis, Missouri, has been closed to vessels as rising water levels caused "hazardous conditions", the US Coast Guard said.
Storms and tornadoes have lashed the region in recent days, swelling rivers and causing flash flooding.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said 13 people in the state had died in the floods.
He said the National Guard had been called in to help local authorities.
Aerial footage showed water from the Mississippi River engulfing buildings in the evacuated town of West Alton, north of St Louis, on Tuesday.
In the town of Union, about 50 miles (80km) west of St Louis, buildings were partly submerged by severe flooding from the Missouri, Meramec and Bourbeuse rivers.

Coast Guard spokesman Capt Martin Malloy said the high water levels and fast currents had led them to close the section of the Mississippi near St Louis - a busy route for commercial shipping.
River levels are forecast to peak on Thursday and Mr Nixon warned that the situation could get worse before it gets better.
He said the National Guard would provide security in evacuated areas and direct traffic away from closed roads.
"These citizen soldiers will provide much-needed support to state and local first responders, many of whom have spent the last several days working around the clock responding to record rainfall and flooding," he said in a statement.
Nr Nixon added that three new flood-related deaths had been discovered on Tuesday, raising the death toll in the state since the storms began over the weekend to 13.
Many of the victims have been trapped in vehicles swept off flooded roads.

South-west of St Louis, a section of Interstate 44 was closed by flooding near the town of Rolla while part of Interstate 70 was also closed in the neighbouring state of Illinois.
Many other smaller roads were also closed across the two states, where flood warnings were in effect.
Floods also inundated a wastewater treatment plant south of St Louis on Monday, causing sewage to flow directly into rivers and streams.
The flooding in Missouri and southern Illinois began over the weekend after as much as 10ins (25cm) of rain fell in some areas in a matter of hours.
It came after severe storms over the Christmas holiday claimed at least 49 lives across southern and western states of the US.
Parts of eastern Oklahoma, Arkansas and Illinois are still subject to flood warnings.

#news 13

newsmax : China mine survivors detected by infrared cameras in Shandong

Eight miners trapped for five days after a mine in China caved in have been found alive, state media say.
Reports say rescue teams have not yet been able to free the survivors, but have made contact and sent in supplies.
The rock fall at the gypsum mine, in the eastern province of Shandong, was so violent that it registered at China's earthquake monitoring centre.
Nine miners are still missing. Seven have already been rescued and one is known to have died.
Rescuers used infrared cameras to peer into darkness at the wrecked mine. The cameras detected the surviving miners waving their hands.
The workers were weak with hunger but otherwise were in good health, state media reported. They told rescuers they were in passages underground that were intact.
Ma Congbo, the chairman of Yurong company which owns the mine, drowned himself by jumping into a mine well early on Sunday, China's Xinhua news agency said.
His motive was not clear but the Chinese authorities have toughened punishment of employers who are seen as negligent.
China has a long history of industrial accidents. The latest incident comes days after a landslide caused by construction waste in southern China left dozens of people missing and presumed dead.
The nation's mines have long been the world's deadliest, but safety improvements have reduced deaths in recent years.
Last year, 931 people were killed in mine accidents throughout China, significantly fewer than in 2002 when nearly 7,000 miners were killed.

 #newsmax

newstudyhall : North Korea says top official Kim Yang-gon killed in car crash

A top aide to the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has died in a car crash, state news agency KCNA has said.
Kim Yang-gon, 73, was a secretary of the ruling Workers' Party and was in charge of ties with South Korea.
He was part of a high-level delegation from North Korea that helped ease a stand-off with the South in August, after an exchange of artillery fire.
The state news agency called him Kim Jong-un's "closest comrade and a solid revolutionary partner".
"Comrade Kim Yang-gon, a Workers' Party secretary and member of the party Central Committee Politbureau... died in a traffic accident at 6:15am, Tuesday, at age 73," KCNA said, without giving details.
It added that Kim Jong-un would lead an 80-member state funeral for Mr Kim on Thursday.
Tension between North and South Korea increased in August when a border blast injured two South Korean soldiers.
Meetings at that time eventually led to the two countries stepping away from a military confrontation.

#newstudyhall 

news4jax : El Nino weather: Worries grow over humanitarian impact

The strongest El Nino weather cycle on record is likely to increase the threat of hunger and disease for millions of people in 2016, aid agencies say.
The weather phenomenon is set to exacerbate droughts in some areas, while increasing flooding in others.
Some of the worst impacts are likely in Africa with food shortages expected to peak in February.
Regions including the Caribbean, Central and South America will also be hit in the next six months.
This periodic weather event, which tends to drive up global temperatures and disturb weather patterns, has helped push 2015 into the record books as the world's warmest year.

By some measures this has already been the strongest El Nino on record. It depends on exactly how you measure it," said Dr Nick Klingaman from the University of Reading.
"In a lot of tropical countries we are seeing big reductions in rainfall of the order of 20-30%. Indonesia has experienced a bad drought; the Indian monsoon was about 15% below normal; and the forecasts for Brazil and Australia are for reduced monsoons."
As both droughts and floods continue, the scale of the potential impacts is worrying aid agencies. Around 31 million people are said to be facing food insecurity across Africa, a significant increase over the last year.
Around a third of these people live in Ethiopia where 10.2 million are projected to require humanitarian assistance in 2016.

What is El Nino?

El Nino is a naturally occurring weather episode that sees the warm waters of the central Pacific expand eastwards towards North and South America.
It was originally recognised by fishermen off the coast of South America in the 1600s with the appearance of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean. El Nino translates as Little Boy, or Christ Child.
The phenomenon, which happens every two to seven years, usually peaks late in the calendar year, although the effects can persist well into the following spring and last up to 12 months.
El Nino is part of what is known as the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle - the opposite phase of the cycle is called La Nina. La Nina is sometimes referred to as the cold phase and El Nino the warm phase
The current El Nino episode is the strongest event since 1998 and is expected to be among the three most powerful ever recorded. According to the WMO, the peak three month average water surface temperatures in tropical Pacific are expected to exceed 2C above normal.

The UK's Department for International Development says (DfID) it is providing emergency support for 2.6 million people and 120,000 malnourished children. It says it will provide 8 million people with food or cash support from January 2016.
"If we fail to act now against this especially powerful El Nino, we will fail vulnerable people across our world," UK International Development Minister Nick Hurd said in a statement.
"Ensuring security for those affected by El Nino is important to their countries but also in Britain's national interest. Only by protecting and stabilising vulnerable countries can we ensure people are not forced to leave their homes in search of food or a new livelihood."
According to the UN, around 60 million people have been forced to leave their homes because of conflict.

Aid agencies like Oxfam are worried that the impacts of the continuing El Nino in 2016 will add to existing stresses such as the wars in Syria, South Sudan and Yemen.
They say that food shortages are likely to peak in Southern Africa in February with Malawi estimating that almost three million people will require humanitarian assistance before March.
Drought and erratic rains have affected two million people across Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua. More floods are expected in Central America in January.
"Millions of people in places like Ethiopia, Haiti and Papua New Guinea are already feeling the effects of drought and crop failure," said Jane Cocking, from Oxfam.
"We urgently need to get help to these areas to make sure people have enough food and water.
"We cannot afford to allow other large-scale emergencies to develop elsewhere. If the world waits to respond to emerging crises in southern Africa and Latin America, we will not be able to cope," she said.
While many parts of the developing world will more directly feel the ongoing impacts of El Nino, the developed world will see impacts on food prices.
"It takes some time for the impacts of El Nino to feed through to social and economic systems," said Dr Klingaman.
"Historically food prices have gone up by 5%-10% for staples. Crops like coffee and rice and cocoa and sugar tend to be particularly affected."

The El Nino event is likely to tail off into the spring - but that may not be good news either.
El Ninos are often followed by La Nina events, which can have opposite but similarly harmful effects. Scientists say during an El Nino there is a huge transfer of heat from the ocean to the atmosphere. Normally, as in 1997/98, that heat transfer tends to be followed by a cooling of the ocean, a La Nina event,
"It's possible but far from certain that this time next year we could be talking about the reverse of many of these impacts," said Dr Klingaman.
"In places where we are seeing droughts from El Nino, we could be seeing flooding from La Nina next year.
"It's just as disruptive, it's just the other way round."

 #news4jax




newsday : South China Sea: China anger at Filipino disputed island protest

China has expressed anger after Filipino protesters landed on a remote island controlled by the Philippines in the disputed South China Sea.
"We once again urge the Philippines to withdraw... from the islands that it is illegally occupying," foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday.
It comes after about 50 protesters, mostly students, landed on Pagasa in the Spratly archipelago on Saturday.
They said they wanted to highlight growing Chinese encroachment.
China claims almost all the South China Sea, believed to be rich in resources, dismissing rival claims by neighbours.
Apart from the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam all lay claim to the disputed waters.
The protesters, led by a former naval commander and called Kalayaan Atin Ito (Kalayaan This Is Ours), landed on Saturday and said they would stay for three days - they told the BBC that they would leave by 30 December.

They have described the journey as a "patriotic" voyage and a symbolic act of defiance against China. The government did not sanction the journey and citied safety and security concerns.
Tension has intensified over the last year, fuelled by China's aggressive island-building and naval patrols and the area has also seen the US and Australia undertaking freedom of navigation operations.
A recent BBC investigation witnessed at close quarters China's construction of new islands on coral reefs in the area and was repeatedly warned off by Chinese authorities while on a civilian flight in the vicinity of the islands.

The Philippines has a case challenging Beijing before the arbitration court in The Hague. It says the "nine-dash line", which China uses to demarcate its territorial claims, is unlawful under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which both countries have signed.
China has boycotted the proceedings, insisting that the panel has no authority to rule in the case.


 #newsday

news today : Scandals see Australia ministers Mal Brough and Jamie Briggs resign

Two Australian cabinet ministers have resigned over unrelated scandals.
Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs quit after a public servant complained about his behaviour at a Hong Kong bar.
Special Minister of State Mal Brough quit pending a police inquiry into his role in another politician's downfall.
With two front bench cabinet positions to fill in a day, this is the first major setback to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull since he took office.

Standards 'not met'

Mr Briggs said he went to a crowded bar after dinner while on a trip to Hong Kong in late November with his chief of staff, some officials and a female public servant.
"At no point was it my intention to act inappropriately and I'm obliged to note for the record that nothing illegal has been alleged or did in fact occur," he said in a statement.
"However, in the days following the evening the public servant raised a concern about the appropriateness of my behaviour towards her at the venue.
"I've apologised directly to her but after careful reflection about the concerns she raised and the fact that I was at a bar late at night while on an overseas visit, I have concluded this behaviour has not met the particularly high standards for ministers."
Mr Briggs said at a press conference that he had spoken to Mr Turnbull, and that the prime minister felt Mr Briggs had not met the standard of behaviour required of ministers.
He refused to comment on the specific nature of the incident and did not name the public servant who made the allegations.

Diary allegations

 

Mr Brough, who is also Minister for Defence Materiel and Science, is being investigated by police over the alleged illegal procurement of a another politician's diary.
He is accused of illegally obtaining copies of former speaker Peter Slipper's diary in 2012 at a time when Mr Slipper was embroiled in a sexual harassment case, which was later dropped. Mr Brough denies wrongdoing.
Prime Minister Turnbull issued a statement saying that Mr Brough had "done the right thing" in stepping aside while police investigated the allegations.
In the same statement, Mr Turnbull said he was "disappointed" with Mr Briggs' conduct but looked forward to his future contributions to the government.
Environment minister Greg Hunt will take on Mr Briggs' infrastructure and regional development portfolio. Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann will act as Special Minister of State, while Minister of Defence Marise Payne will act as Minister for Defence Materiel and Science.


 #news today

news 12 : Guinea to be declared free of Ebola virus

Guinea is to be declared free of Ebola by the World Health Organization (WHO), two years after the epidemic began there.
Guineans are expected to celebrate the landmark with concerts and fireworks.
The disease killed more than 2,500 people in the country and a further 9,000 in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Sierra Leone was declared free of Ebola in November, but new cases have emerged in Liberia, which had been declared Ebola-free in September.
A country is considered free of human-to-human transmission once two 21-day incubation periods have passed since the last known case tested negative for a second time


The disease has had an enormous social and economic impact on Guinea, the BBC's Ibrahima Diane in Conakry says.
According to the UN, 6,220 Guinean children have lost one or both parents to Ebola.
More than 100 health workers also lost their lives in the fight against the disease.
Meanwhile, survivors are still living in fear of the stigma and long-term side effects associated with the virus, our correspondent adds.
The fight against Ebola was particularly difficult in Guinea, he says.
Some communities initially did not believe there was an epidemic, while others blamed it on Western countries and the Guinean authorities.
The government has blamed the virus for poor economic performance and says it has also caused people to distrust the country's health services.
President Alpha Conde has doubled the health budget since winning re-election in November.

# news 12

newsela : Iraqi PM vows defeat of IS after Ramadi recapture

Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi has said so-called Islamic State (IS) will be ousted from the country, after government forces recaptured Ramadi.
In a televised address, Mr Abadi vowed to retake Iraq's second city of Mosul, saying it would be "the fatal and final blow" to IS.
The recapture of Ramadi was welcomed by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who said IS had suffered a major defeat.
The jihadists seized Ramadi in May, in an embarrassing defeat for the army.
Iraqi government forces have been fighting to retake the city - about 90km (55 miles) west of the capital, Baghdad - for weeks.
Is Ramadi a strategic defeat for IS?
Islamic State conflict
Life under IS
Viewpoint: How to defeat IS
TV pictures on Monday showed troops raising the Iraqi flag over the government complex in the city centre.
Army spokesman Brig Gen Yahya Rasul said forces had "liberated" Ramadi in an "epic" victory.
Iraqi officials gave no immediate death toll from the battle.

"2016 will be the year of the big and final victory, when Daesh's presence in Iraq will be terminated," Mr Abadi said on state television, using another name for Islamic State.
"We are coming to liberate Mosul and it will be the fatal and final blow to Daesh," he added.
The BBC's Thomas Fessy, who is in Ramadi, says the battle against IS has destroyed the urban landscape.
He says that booby traps are everywhere and that Iraqi troops are still hunting retreating militants in parts of the city.
Mr Kerry congratulated Iraqi forces for "displaying tremendous perseverance and courage".
"While Ramadi is not yet fully secure and additional parts of the city still must be retaken, Iraq's national flag now flies above the provincial government centre and enemy forces have suffered a major defeat," he said.
The battle for Ramadi - capital of mainly Sunni Muslim Anbar province - was backed by air strikes from the US-led coalition.
US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said the expulsion of IS was "a significant step forward in the campaign to defeat this barbaric group"


He said it was now important for the Iraqi government to maintain the peace in Ramadi, prevent the return of IS, and to help Ramadi's citizens to return to the city.
UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond also congratulated the Iraqi government, adding that air support from the RAF around Ramadi had played "a key role" in the battle.
"This remains a long fight, but the coalition's strategy is succeeding. We will continue to stand with the Iraqi people until Daesh is defeated," he said.
State TV on Monday showed pictures of soldiers in Ramadi firing their guns in the air and publicly slaughtering a sheep in celebration.
Troops finally captured the government compound on Sunday, flushing out or killing IS fighters and suicide bombers who had been holding out in its buildings.
Brig Gen Majid al-Fatlawi, of the army's 8th division, told AFP that IS fighters had "planted more than 300 explosive devices on the roads and in the buildings of the government complex".
In the fight for Ramadi, the government chose not to deploy the powerful Shia-dominated paramilitary force that helped it regain the mainly Sunni northern city of Tikrit, to avoid increasing sectarian tensions.

# newsela

In major museums around the world, some truly great works of art are hidden away from public view. What are they – and why can’t we see them? Kimberly Bradley finds out.

The numbers don’t lie. At New York’s Museum of Modern Art, 24 of 1,221 works by Pablo Picasso in the institution’s permanent collection can currently be seen by visitors. Just one of California conceptual artist Ed Ruscha’s 145 pieces is on view. Surrealist Joan Miró? Nine out of 156 works.
The walls of the Tate, the Met, the Louvre or MoMA may look perfectly well-hung, but the vast majority of art belonging to the world’s top art institutions (and in many countries, their taxpayers) is at any time hidden from public view in temperature-controlled, darkened, and meticulously organised storage facilities. Overall percentages paint an even more dramatic picture: the Tate shows about 20% of its permanent collection. The Louvre shows 8%, the Guggenheim a lowly 3% and the Berlinische Galerie – a Berlin museum whose mandate is to show, preserve and collect art made in the city – 2% of its holdings. These include approximately 6,000 sculptures and paintings, 80,000 photographs, and 15,000 prints by artists including George Grosz and Hannah Höch.
“We don’t have the space to show more,” says Berlinische Galerie director Thomas Köhler, explaining that the museum has 1,200 sq m in which to display works acquired over decades through purchases and donations. “A museum stores memory, or culture,” explains Köhler. But here, like in other museums around the world, many works rarely if ever see the light of day.
A spatial deficit is only one reason why not. Another is fashion: some holdings no longer fit their institutions’ curatorial missions. Lesser works by well-known artists may also languish – their hits hang on museum walls; their misses lie forgotten in flat files. Works that come to a museum within estate acquisitions “might sit around in crates for years, waiting to be sorted,” explains Köhler. Some works stay under wraps due to delicacy or damage – and different institutions have varied storage and rotation policies, depending on a collection’s nature and scope. While London’s National Gallery uses a double hang system, thereby increasing the number of its permanent works on view, the Albertina in Vienna possesses more than a million Old Master prints – many of them centuries old and very sensitive. The percentage on view is thus very low, even if most of the holdings are kept onsite. (Other museums keep their caches in secret offsite warehouses.)
“Having 5% of your national collection on show is something people find difficult to understand,” says British curator Jasper Sharp, who was the commissioner of the Austrian pavilion at the 2013 Venice Bienniale. Many art institutions are thus coming up with ways to show their stuff, so to speak. “There is a great move to open up collections,” adds Sharp. Besides digitising images of the permanent collection (which many major institutions are currently in the process of doing), one way to display holdings is the idea of the Schaulager (translation: ‘storage display’) – in which visitors can see works archived, on sliding racks, behind glass, or during restoration.  The Hermitage’s storage facility opened in 2014 and offers guided tours of collections long unseen; a number of US museums, like the Brooklyn Museum of Art have also created accessible storage centres. Other museum expansions – the Tate, the MoMA, and the Met are just a few currently underway – are meant to increase space for permanent collection viewing.
Until visible storage is everywhere – or museums grow so large that everything is on view, like a massive database – here are a few examples of wonderful things not often seen, and why.

Dürer’s famous watercolour and gouache drawing Young Hare is a masterpiece in observation; its impeccable rendering served as benchmark for centuries thereafter. As 'Vienna’s unofficial mascot', the work on paper is also the Albertina’s prize possession, but it’s not often on show. After a maximum of three months, Young Hare needs five years in dark storage with a humidity level of less than 50% for the paper to adequately rest. It was on view briefly in 2014 after a break of ten years, and will appear  again for a short time in 2018, before it goes back into hiding. The museum holds millions of works on paper, and is thus able to show “less than 1% – maybe even 0.1% – of our collection,” according to deputy director Christian Benedik, but, as mandated by the museum’s original owners (part of the Habsburg royal family) every graphic work has a facsimile that can be viewed more readily, including one of Young Hare. A Google Cultural Institute Gigapixel image of the Hare is digitally viewable – the better to see the reflections in the bunny’s eyes with.

The undulating ultramarine waves and swimmers of Henri Matisse’s The Swimming Pool, a large paper installation made for the artist’s dining room in Nice, are in fact currently on view in the exhibition Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs until February 10 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. But the work, acquired by MoMA in 1975, was out of sight for nearly 20 years. Its burlap backing had become discoloured and brittle; the white paper frieze on which the blue cut-outs were mounted was stained. The long process of the work’s restoration was indeed the impetus behind this highly acclaimed exhibition that represents Matisse’s last major work series; after the exhibition closes, the work will be unpinned and returned to customised, climatised storage cases. But the situation behind its temporary retirement isn’t completely unusual – often, an artwork needing restoration will wait months, even years for an update.

In the last years of the Iranian Shah’s rein, during a particularly flush oil-boom period, the Iranian queen Farah Pahlavi assembled a formidable collection of modern art, now valued at several billion US dollars. The Picassos, Pollocks and Warhols (among many other household names) in Tehran’s Contemporary Art Museum were viewable from the museums’ opening in 1977 until the Iranian Revolution in 1979 at which time the art was deemed ‘Western’, ie decadent and unsuitable for viewing. Curators spirited the art away into a climate-controlled basement vault – there, it has been safe not only from climate extremes but also knife-wielding revolutionaries. The artworks are often lent to other world institutions, but display in Tehran depends on who is leading the country – a few works were mounted in a Pop Art/Op Art show here in 2005, but any works depicting nudity or homoerotic overtones, like Bacon’s Two Figures Lying on a Bed With Attendants, remain hidden.

The Walker Art Center’s current incarnation dates from 1940, and its first acquisition was The Large Blue Horses by the German painter Franz Marc. The painting – which Adolf Hitler had deemed ‘degenerate’ and whose sale to the Walker in 1941 was finalised the week bombs fell on Pearl Harbor – represented the museum’s first foray into modern art, at the time a daring move. In the intervening decades, the Walker’s curatorial emphases have shifted: the museum is known for its post-1960s holdings and performance programs, and the painting is seldom shown. “It’s been one of these mythic works in the collection that rarely gets exhibited,” says curator Eric Crosby. “This is a work that is very much central to the Walker’s mission in the 1940s – but as contemporary art has changed we have less context in which to exhibit it.” Nonetheless, the Marc is on view there now until September 2016 in a special anniversary exhibition Art at the Center, 75 Years of Walker Collections.
Edward Kienholz, The Art Show (1963-1977)Berlinische Galerie, Berlin

At the Berlinische Galerie, American artist Edward Kienholz’s The Art Show – a large-scale installation of visitors viewing an exhibition, with ventilators where their mouths should be – is rarely on view simply because its scope requires an entire gallery within the museum. According to museum director Thomas Köhler, Kienholz’s work, an example of Assemblage art, also takes a great deal of energy and time to assemble properly. Portions of the piece – a figure’s vintage spectacles, for example – also often need to be replaced, sending the restoration team to flea markets.
The Coronation Carpet (1520-30) and Ardabil Carpet (1539-40)Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles

It's a tale of two carpets, times two. The Ardabil Carpet is well-known to visitors of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The lusciously detailed Persian textile is covered to preserve its centuries-old fibres and lit for only 10 minutes each hour. But there is a slightly smaller version at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), along with second similar rug called the Coronation Carpet, so named because it was laid before the throne at Westminster Abbey for the crowning of Edward VII in 1902. The LACMA rarely displays either, because of their large size and extreme sensitivity to light. It pays to be cautious: a mere scrap is all that’s left of the Coronation Carpet’s mate, on display at Berlin’s Museum of Islamic Art.
Tino Sehgal, This is Propaganda (2002)Tate Modern, London
British-born, Berlin-based artist Tino Sehgal turns art storage on its head. Why? As performative work – executed not by Sehgal himself but by his trained ‘interpreters’ – it is completely immaterial. Unlike other artists in this field, Sehgal also stipulates that no record whatsoever remains of the work – no photos, no recordings, no press releases; only the experience. That rule even extends to institutional sales agreements of his piece – a sale like that of This is Propaganda, which Tate bought in 2005, is verbally executed. The artist, the buyer, a lawyer and a notary are present; all rules and regulations around the piece are committed to a designated person’s memory. So This is Propaganda (which sees a gallery guard singing “This is propaganda, you know, you know, this is propaganda, Tino Sehgal, This is propaganda, 2002” to every visitor who enters the space) exists only in the mind. Imagine that.

#newsday


A vast network of 200-year-old tunnels lies beneath Liverpool’s streets – and no one knows why they’re there. Chris Baraniuk meets the dedicated volunteers digging up their secrets.

The air is still. It’s quiet. Occasionally, the sound of a water droplet bursting feebly onto stone echoes through the chamber. Somewhere, somehow, moisture is getting in. But for the most part, it’s dry. And were it not for the smattering of electric lights, this 200-year-old tunnel beneath the streets of Liverpool would be very dark – and very lonely.

“I still can’t get over the ferns and the moss,” says Dave Bridson, a local historian and manager at the Williamson Tunnels heritage centre in Liverpool, England. He points out where the water seeps through the porous stone, nurturing the light green moss that has formed spontaneously next to lightbulbs. Ever since light was brought into the long-lost tunnels, little pockets of vegetation like this have taken hold.
It took years, however, for that light to arrive.

Of all the engineering projects that ever took place in the industrial centre of Liverpool – like the world’s first exclusively steam-powered passenger railway – the building of the Williamson Tunnels in the early 19th Century must be the most mysterious. The patron of the tunnels, tobacco merchant Joseph Williamson, was extraordinarily secretive about their purpose. Even today, no one is sure exactly what they were used for. Nor does anyone know for sure even how many of the tunnels there are, scattered underfoot beneath the Edge Hill district of Liverpool in northwest England.
Meanwhile, for centuries, the tunnels had been buried. They were filled in after locals complained of the smell – apparently the caverns were long used as underground landfills and stuffed with everything from household junk to human waste.
For centuries, the tunnels had been buried. They passed from knowledge to myth
As time went by, the tunnels passed from knowledge to myth.
“A lot of people knew about the tunnels, but that was as far as it went – they just knew about them or heard about them,” explains Les Coe, an early member of the Friends of Williamson Tunnels (FoWT). “It was just left at that. But we decided to look for them.”
Breaking in
On a summer day in 2001, Coe and a small band of investigators literally “broke into” a suspected tunnel in the Paddington area of Edge Hill. With the help of a digger, they made a small hole in the roof of what turned out to be an old cellar: the upper level of one of the tunnel systems.
Coe and a few others gingerly ventured in via a harness. The chamber was full of rubble piled so high, walking upright was impossible. Still, the explorers were thrilled. “It was quite exhilarating when we found that opening,” Coe recalls.
Eventually, three different sites in the area would offer access to various bits of the tunnels. But excavating them was – and still is – difficult work. Over the last 15 years teams of volunteers, digging up to twice a week, have removed more than 120 skips of waste material. They have revealed forgotten cellar systems and, in several cases, multiple levels of tunnels – some with stone steps leading down to deeper caverns. There are also some debris-filled passages branching off in odd directions; it’s not clear how far they go or to where they ultimately lead.
Volunteers have removed more than 120 skips of waste material
Tom Stapledon, a retired television engineer and shopkeeper, is one of the regular excavators. He explains how early tests with metal rods, plunged down into the coke-like rubble had revealed the unexpected depth of the chambers. “They put a 10ft (3m) rod in and they didn't hit the bottom. Then they put a 15ft (4.6m) rod down and didn't hit the bottom,” he says. Only a 20ft (6m) rod eventually struck the solid floor – at 19 feet (5.8m) down.

The excavation work is not easy. Besides the sheer manpower needed, the volunteers have to get special permission from the council to dig in any new direction. Sometimes, it’s not granted for safety reasons.
“There are flats and things above us. We can’t go digging too much,” says Bridson with a laugh as he points out one partially opened channel that leads to another rubble-filled cranny.
They’ve uncovered ink wells, poison bottles, chamber pots and hundreds of clay pipes
Stapledon, though, has his eyes on one blocked-up tunnel that runs under a street. The team suspects that it could lead to a whole other system of underground chambers still undiscovered.
As they excavate, the volunteers methodically document any artefacts they find. So far, they’ve uncovered ink wells once used by schoolchildren, bottles that held everything from beer to poison, jam jars, ceramics from Liverpool’s Royal Infirmary, oyster shells, chamber pots, animal bones and hundreds of clay pipes – a tapestry of household bric-a-brac that tells social history of Liverpool over the last two centuries in a way no other collection can.

It’s a history lesson,” says Stapledon as he points out a favourite find, a cup commemorating the coronation of Edward VII in 1902. He holds it up to the light and an image of King Edward VII himself appears in the base of the mug, cleverly embossed into the ceramic. “Absolutely beautiful,” he says in wonder. “I don’t think we’ve come across another one like it.”
The king of the hill
Why the tunnels are even here might be another history lesson – but, for the most part, is a mystery.
Born in England in 1769, Joseph Williamson was a successful tobacco merchant. He ploughed his money back into the local area – Edge Hill – by employing men to build houses. After the Napoleonic Wars, unemployment was rife across Britain; Williamson presumably saw a philanthropic opportunity to engage them in the area’s development. It was perhaps thanks to this that he got the nickname ‘The King of Edge Hill’.

He also had men build tunnels. One entrance to the system even has been found in the basement of his former house. But why tunnels? Did he ask them to build his tunnels arbitrarily, for no other purpose than to be paid for work? It seems extraordinary. And yet there are no known records from Williamson’s time which offer anything like an explanation for their construction.
There are no known records from the time which offer anything like an explanation for the tunnels’ construction
Instead, succeeding generations and historians have had to guess – leading to all manner of speculation. Perhaps Williamson wanted secret passages to get to and from buildings in Edge Hill. Or was a smuggler and needed the tunnels to carry out covert operations.
Or maybe he and his wife belonged to a fanatical religious cult that anticipated the end of the world, and his tunnels were designed to provide shelter during the apocalypse. Apparently, someone once made the suggestion casually on television, and the idea since stuck.
Not with Bridson, however. “Total guff,” he says, chuckling. “He was quite a devout Christian and a Church of England member.”
Perhaps Williamson’s tunnels were designed to provide shelter during the apocalypse
Those who have worked on the tunnels have now developed a new, somewhat more satisfying theory. Bridson points out a series of markings in the sandstone that he says are indicative of quarrying. There are channels to drain rainwater away from the rock while men worked, blocks out of which sandstone could be hewn, and various niches in the walls where rigs were once likely installed to help with extracting the stone, commonly used as a building material.
Bridson believes that before Williamson came along, these pits in the ground already existed. But it was Williamson’s idea to construct arches over them and seal them in. Properties could then be built on top of the reclaimed land – which otherwise would have been practically worthless.
If this was the case, then in terms of land reclamation, Williamson was way ahead of his time, says Bridson. The work may well have hastened the development of an area that, without this innovation, would have been left unused for many years.

Williamson also was enterprising in his design. Simply filling the trenches in would have taken too long in the early 1800s, thanks to the limitations of transport, so Williamson used arches instead. And as Bridson notes, he was doing it years before the great railway tunnels and bridges of England were ever built. The arches “are still standing 200 years on with virtually no maintenance,” he says. “Apart from the ones that have been damaged, they're still as solid as the day he built them. So he must have known what he was doing.”
The arches are still as solid as the day he built them. He must have known what he was doing
For now, the quarry reclamation theory remains just a theory. Bridson hopes that one day he’ll find a stash of letters and documents in Williamson’s handwriting that once and for all settles the argument. “Part of me clings on to that hope,” he says. But he admits it’s not likely such a trove will ever be found.
Mystery motivation
Perhaps that’s no bad thing. Tom Stapledon says that the volunteers often debate whether they’d like to find Williamson’s papers at all. If they were never discovered, the mystery of what lies waiting to be found can be allowed to linger, motivating the diligent few who work on the excavations week in, week out. That mystery is what drives them on.

The Williamson Tunnel excavators are almost all retired men, Liverpudlians with enough time and curiosity to devote to the project. Younger men, says Stapledon, ask to volunteer now and again, but they usually move on after a few weeks. “They don’t have the stamina we do,” he jokes.
Even 200 years after Williamson offered ready work to the men of Edge Hill, his tunnels are still keeping the locals busy.
Now, it’s the end of a long day of digging; another skip has been filled to the brim with excavated dirt. The steel covering that protects one of the tunnel entrances has been tightly padlocked. Stapledon checks it. “Secure,” he says.
There’s little that would mark out the presence of the tunnels in this spot to passers-by. But they’re down there, right under the feet and homes of Edge Hill’s residents. And, it seems, Liverpool’s lost tunnels are finally giving up their secrets – bucket by bucket and inch by inch.

#news today






Louis van Gaal: Man Utd boss says he could choose to quit

Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal said he could "quit by myself" after Stoke City condemned his side to a fourth straight defeat.
The Dutchman, under pressure after seven games without a win, was asked whether he feared he would be sacked.
"That is something I discuss with [executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward not you," Van Gaal told a media conference after the game.
"It is not always the club that has to fire or sack me."
He added: "Sometimes I do that by myself, but I am the one who wants to speak first with the board of Manchester United and my members of staff and my players, not with you."
United's miserable run has seen them knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage and slip out of the top four in the Premier League.
"I have received [the club's backing] all the time but we have lost so there is a new situation," said Van Gaal.
"I feel the support of my players and my board. The fans will be disappointed but that is logical after four defeats."

Van Gaal does not think it is important that Woodward has not publicly backed him.
"For me it's much more important that people are saying that to me," he said. "I am not so interested in public sayings."
Van Gaal saw his side quickly go behind to goals from Bojan Krkic and Marko Arnautovic, with United struggling to create chances as they tried to work their way back into the match in the second half.
"We have lost the game in the first 45 minutes because we didn't dare to play our football. That is what I have analysed," said Van Gaal, whose side's next game is at home to Chelsea on Monday.
"The circumstances now play a bigger role and will in the next game also. We have to cope with that and look for the solution.
"It is very difficult as I'm also part of four losses and I have to cope with that and I have to manage that. More important is that my players shall manage that because they have to perform."

Man Utd embarrassing - Shearer

Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer described United's first-half performance as "pathetic".
The former England striker said: "Van Gaal decided to take on the media this week and he picked a team he thought would scrap for him and that was the best they could do for him - that was embarrassing.
"On today's evidence, the players are not willing. They put in a pathetic performance in the first half. He left his captain out as well and that is a big statement.
"His players are without doubt not performing at all so it wouldn't surprise me at all if he were to walk away."
But fellow pundit Danny Murphy said he believed the Dutchman would not quit the club.
"My worry is that whoever comes in they've got a squad lacking athleticism," said the former Liverpool and Fulham midfielder.
"With Jose Mourinho you're guaranteed trophies and Pep Guardiola is the same. I'm sure there will be many meetings going on. They could do a lot worse than give it to [assistant manager] Ryan Giggs."

'Right decision on Rooney'

Van Gaal dropped Wayne Rooney to the bench for the game at the Britannia Stadium.
The England striker came on for the second half but United still struggled to create chances as they went four top-flight games without victory.
Club captain Rooney has scored just two league goals so far this season and rarely looked like adding to that tally at Stoke, although he did set up Marouane Fellaini for a chance that was impressively saved by home keeper Jack Butland.
Van Gaal added: "I thought it was the right decision [to leave out Rooney] otherwise I would not have done it.
"We were better in the second half but then we didn't have anything to lose."

#news 12

Syria war: Yarmouk camp evacuation 'on hold'

The expected evacuation of thousands of rebels from in and around Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Damascus has been put on hold, reports say.
Safety issues and the killing of a top rebel have been blamed for the delay.
Militants and their families were due to be bussed to areas under the control of their respective groups, under a deal between rebels and the government.
Meanwhile, a rebel coalition says it has captured a key dam from so-called Islamic State (IS) in northern Syria.
A spokesman for the Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said fighters backed by coalition air strikes had seized the Tishrin dam, about 14 miles (22km) north of the IS stronghold of Raqqa.
The spokesman, Col Talal Selo, said the capture of the dam would help disrupt an IS supply line across the Euphrates and isolate the group between northern Aleppo and its territory east of the river.
Earlier this month, pro-government media reported a deal between the regime, IS and the rival al-Nusra Front to allow members of both safe passage out of Yarmouk and Hajar al-Aswad to Raqqa and the northern province of Idlib.
Eighteen buses which will transport rebels and their families were reported to have arrived at the camp on Friday.
However, Lebanese Hezbollah al-Manar TV said the evacuation was held up because the convoy was due to pass through territory controlled by rebel group Jaysh al-Islam, whose leader was killed in an air strike later that day.

he UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said it was paused for "logistic reasons" in order to secure the road to IS-held Raqqa in the north-east.
About 18,000 civilians have been trapped in Yarmouk by the fighting and a government siege since 2012.
Islamic State militants took over parts of the camp earlier this year.
They were pushed back by Palestinian militias and Syrian rebels after weeks of fierce fighting, and Yarmouk has since been divided into areas controlled by IS, al-Nusra Front and pro- and anti-government Palestinian militants.
Government forces maintain checkpoints around the area, preventing civilians from leaving.
Once Yarmouk is made safe, the UN will be able to get aid to the civilians there.

#newsela

Syria war: Yarmouk camp evacuation 'on hold'

The expected evacuation of thousands of rebels from in and around Yarmouk refugee camp in southern Damascus has been put on hold, reports say.
Safety issues and the killing of a top rebel have been blamed for the delay.
Militants and their families were due to be bussed to areas under the control of their respective groups, under a deal between rebels and the government.
About 18,000 civilians have been trapped in Yarmouk by the fighting and a government siege since 2012.
Islamic State (IS) militants took over parts of the camp earlier this year.
They were pushed back by Palestinian militias and Syrian rebels after weeks of fierce fighting, and Yarmouk has since been divided into areas controlled by IS, the rival al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, and pro- and anti-government Palestinian militants.
Government forces maintain checkpoints around the area preventing civilians from leaving.

Safe passage

Under the deal, fighters will withdraw from Yarmouk and the neighbouring districts of Hajar al-Aswad and al-Qadam.
Eighteen buses which will transport rebels and their families were reported to have arrived at the camp on Friday.
However, Lebanese Hezbollah al-Manar TV said the evacuation was held up because the convoy was due to pass through territory controlled by rebel group Jaysh al-Islam, whose leader was killed in an air strike later that day.
The UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said it was paused for "logistic reasons" in order to secure the road to IS-held Raqqa in the north-east.
The plan would see IS fighters and their families given safe passage there, and al-Nusra militants transferred to the northern province of Idlib.
Once Yarmouk is made safe, the UN will be able to get aid to the civilians who have been trapped.
Yarmouk was first built for Palestinians fleeing the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Before the Syrian civil war began in 2011, it had more than 150,000 refugees living there.
Those trapped in the camp for the past two years, including 3,500 children, have no access to regular food supplies, clean water or healthcare.

Chris Froome knows blood data will 'not convince everyone'

Chris Froome says he knows releasing physiological data will "not convince everyone" who doubt he twice won the Tour de France as a clean rider.
Esquire has published three sets of data online, with a full story in the next edition of the magazine on Monday.
The first set is from 2007, the second from this year's Tour and the third from August's independent tests.
"My hope is more transparency can be another small step in helping rebuild trust in the sport I love," he said.
"The deceit of the past still casts its shadow over the present," added the 30 year old.
But Froome says he hopes releasing the data will "satisfy some of the questions asked".
"I know what I've done to get here. I'm the only one who can really know 100% that I'm clean.
"I haven't broken the rules. I haven't cheated. I haven't taken any secret substance that isn't known of yet.
"I know my results will stand the test of time, that 10, 15 years down the line people won't say, 'Ah, so that was his secret'. There isn't a secret."
The data from 2007 was collected by the sport's world governing body, the International Cycling Union, during the Kenyan-born rider's stint at the World Cycling Centre, a programme for talented athletes from developing cycling nations.
The UCI blood data is incomplete by today's standards, as it predates the introduction of the biological passport in 2009.
Two key tests at that point - his VO2 Max and threshold power - indicate the type of rider who could win one of cycling's biggest races, provided he lost weight to improve his climbing ability.
That is also the picture painted by the tests Froome had at the GSK High Performance Lab in London in August.
On that occasion his VO2 Max, which is the peak amount of oxygen an athlete can use, was 84.6 (ml/kg/min) - readjusted for his Tour weight, that it is 88.2, a number that supports the power data Team Sky released in July from his superb victory on stage 10 at this year's Tour.
That "data dump" was an attempt by Froome's team to defuse what was becoming a toxic atmosphere at the race.
GSK HLP's senior scientist Dr Phillip Bell described Froome's VO2 Max values as being "close to what we believe are the upper limits for humans".
As well as his independent testing results, Froome has also given Esquire biological passport blood tests from 13 July, the day before that 10th stage win, and 20 August.
The first sample shows Froome's haemoglobin level (the molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen) was 15.3 grams per litre, with 0.72% of his red blood cells being immature cells known as reticulocytes (produced by bone marrow in response to the body's needs).
This produces an OFF-score, an equation used in anti-doping to indicate possible blood manipulation, of 102.1.
The second sample shows haemoglobin of 15.3, with a reticulocyte count of 0.96%, and an OFF-score of 94.21.
On their own, there is nothing about these scores that reveals anything untoward but, as British athletics star Paula Radcliffe has recently discovered, they only provide a snapshot of what is happening at a particular moment and definitive proof that somebody is clean requires more data, recorded over time.


That, however, is something that very few athletes have been willing or able to produce.
Froome's former Team Sky team-mate Sir Bradley Wiggins told BBC Radio 5 live on Thursday that the Briton faced an almost impossible task in trying to convince everybody he is clean.
"I don't think [releasing his data] is going to change perceptions or what people think but at the same time that's what people have called for and he's done it," said Wiggins, who has also had to deal with speculation about his successes on the road - speculation he has dismissed.
"Hats off to him for doing it and I'm sure it's not going to be something that [he and Team Sky] are going to live and die by.
"I don't think it's going to change anything but it's a small step maybe."
Froome first announced his intention to release the results of independent physiological testing during this year's Tour.
As in 2013, his first victory, he was subjected to intense media scrutiny over the veracity of his performances, which spilled over into some deeply unpleasant scenes on the roadside.
His team-mate and close friend Richie Porte was punched by a fan during one stage, Team Sky's cars were frequently pelted with drinks and rubbish by spectators and Froome himself was spat at and had urine thrown at him on one particularly ugly day.
Froome told Esquire that the accusations of doping did bother him - "it's hard not to get angry" - but denied they detracted from his joy at becoming the first British rider to win a second Tour title.
"Nothing is going to taint that for me," he said.
"All that stuff, it was an added challenge and did make it harder, but in a way it feels like an even greater achievement."
Given what is known now about the sport's recent history of endemic doping, Froome added that he understands why many cycling fans are so sceptical and accepts that "questions do need to be asked".
"As long as the questions are fair, I'm happy to answer them," he said.
The results of his testing at GSK HPL are expected to be published in an unspecified scientific journal at a later date and Froome is also believed to be open to the idea of further testing in the future.


Cairo restaurant firebomb attack kills 16

Sixteen people have been killed in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, after firebombs were thrown into a restaurant, officials say.
The attack happened in the Agouza area, in the city centre.
Egypt's interior ministry said it appeared to have followed a row between workers and others at the venue, which also housed a nightclub.
Media reports say three masked men threw the devices into the venue before fleeing.
The restaurant was in the basement of the building, making it harder for people to escape, Reuters reports.

The victims died from burns or the effects of inhaling smoke, the agency said. At least five other people were injured.

At the scene: Orla Guerin, BBC News

Police and forensic investigators are still working inside the charred remains of the restaurant on the banks of the Nile.
When the blaze broke out at around 06:30 local time there was little chance of escape for those inside. The narrow blackened entrance way was the only way out.
One eyewitness told us firemen were slow to enter the building because they did not know anyone was trapped inside.
The local chemist told us he saw two men fleeing from the scene on motorbikes. He said initially he thought it was a terrorist attack but then he recalled having seen some of the men outside the restaurant the night before when they were turned away.

Video shot at the scene by an Egyptian news site showed thick, grey smoke billowing out of a doorway at street level as passersby tried to get close. Flames could be seen inside the entrance, as one man used a fire extinguisher to try to tackle the blaze.
The victims died from burns or the effects of inhaling smoke, it said. At least five other people were injured.
Cairo has previously been rocked by a series of attacks on security forces and civilians carried out by suspected Islamist militants.
An Islamist insurgency intensified in the wake of the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.

China pledges $60bn to develop Africa

China has announced $60bn (£40bn) of assistance and loans for Africa to help with the development of the continent.
President Xi Jinping said the package would include zero-interest loans as well as scholarships and training for thousands of Africans.
The Chinese leader made the announcement at a major summit between China and Africa in Johannesburg.
The momentum of rapid growth in Africa was "unstoppable", Mr Xi told more than 35 African heads of state.
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South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, who is joint host at the summit, welcomed Africa and China's deepening partnership.

"China has become Africa's largest trade partner, and Africa is now one of China's major import sources and fourth largest investment destination. This partnership can only yield further positive results for Africa's development," Mr Zuma said.

Analysis: Karen Allen, BBC News, Johannesburg
China's announcement of grants, loans and development funds was widely anticipated, although the figure exceeded expectations.
Much of this additional assistance is likely to be focused on infrastructure projects, to help boost economic development but more details on the deal are yet to emerge.
President Zuma said that China and the African continent each made up a third of the world's population, bringing the possibility of new markets and production possibilities.
But perhaps one of the biggest challenges African countries face is youth unemployment and leaders are under pressure to come up with development plans which create more jobs.
Despite a major slowdown at home, which has seen Chinese demand for African exports plummet - a vital source of foreign exchange earnings for the continent - the main message is that despite economic challenges, China's commitment to Africa is long term.
Is China a brake on Africa's progress?
Can Chinese migrants integrate in Africa?

The two-day Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (Focac) is the second time China has brought together African leaders since the forum was launched in Beijing in 2000.
According to China's official Xinhua news agency, the assistance over three years will focus on 10 areas, including industrialisation, the modernisation of agricultural, financial services, green development and peace and security.
Mr Xi said this was his seventh visit to Africa and his second as Chinese president and on each trip he saw progress and change.
"The late Nelson Mandela of South Africa once said: 'We stand at the dawn of an African century, a century where Africa will take its rightful place among the nations of the world.'
"I couldn't agree more with this statement and I am convinced that African countries and people are embracing a new era that is truly theirs," the Chinese leader said.

Saudi Arabia carrying out 'unprecedented wave' of executions

An artist sentenced to death for apostasy. Three young Shia Muslims - arrested when they were minors - faced with beheading. And reports in the Saudi press of the imminent execution of more than 50 people.
Saudi Arabia's use of the death penalty has sparked international alarm.
The country's human rights record has been back in the news since January, when liberal blogger Raif Badawi was flogged after being convicted of insulting Islam.
That same month, disturbing video emerged of a Burmese woman accused of murder screaming: "I did not kill" until the moment her head was severed with a sword on a Saudi street.
So far this year, more than 150 people have been executed - the highest figure recorded by human rights groups for 20 years.

Dozens of them were convicted of non-violent crimes, including drug offences. Human rights activists say many of the trials were unfair.

Lack of transparency

Amnesty International has described "an unprecedented wave of executions marking a grim new milestone in the Saudi Arabian authorities' use of the death penalty".
So what is behind the rise of executions? A lack of transparency in the Saudi legal system makes it difficult to know.
"There's a lot of speculation," says Adam Coogle, who monitors Saudi Arabia's use of the death penalty, for Human Rights Watch. "But nobody knows the real answer because the Saudis haven't said, and they won't say."
This year has been an eventful one for Saudi Arabia. In January, King Salman succeeded his more liberal brother, King Abdullah, ushering in a new, more muscular foreign policy.
In March, the Saudis began a bombing campaign in Yemen against Houthi rebels in which thousands of civilians have been killed. And the Hajj stampede put the country under an uncomfortable spotlight.
Sunni extremism has remained a constant threat, with the Islamic State (IS) group or its affiliates killing at least 50 people in the Shia east and south of the country.
But the increase in the rate of executions actually began back in August 2014, according to human rights activists.
"Nearly all of those executed are sentenced on murder or drugs charges, and it's possible that the crime rate is going up, with more murders and more people bringing drugs into the country," says Mr Coogle.

Appearing tough

Another theory is linked to Saudi Arabia's restructuring, over the past few years, of its justice system.
"It could be that, with the increase in the number of courts and judges, the system has the capacity to address a backlog of cases," Mr Coogle says.
A third theory is that it is part of a trend in the whole region towards more executions, with a steep increase in the use of the death penalty in Pakistan, and Jordan ending a moratorium on executions last December.
"There's a sense in which regional instability is encouraging leaders to try to appear tough," says Mr Coogle.
Among those facing execution are al-Qaeda militants, as well as Shia dissidents involved in an uprising in the east of the country that began in 2011.
"The death sentences are retribution against Shia protesters, some of whom were peaceful and some of whom may not have been," says Mr Coogle.
"There's a clear message that if you take to the streets to challenge the house of Saud, you may pay the ultimate price."

Capital punishment in Saudi Arabia

Beheading with a sword is the most common form of execution.
Executions are often carried out in public.
Crimes that carry the death penalty include murder, adultery, treason, gay sex, drug offences, sorcery and witchcraft, and apostasy.
Human rights activists say those accused often do not receive fair trials.
The families of prisoners facing the death penalty are not always informed in advance of executions.

The case of the young Shia protester, Ali al-Nimr, who has become a poster boy for those facing execution, has drawn appeals from world leaders for King Salman to show mercy and refuse to sign his death warrant.
He was convicted of a string of offences, including attacking police with petrol bombs in anti-government protests in the east of the country when he was only 17 and still at school.
His family says the confession he made was coerced and he signed it after being told he would then be released.
The fate of Palestinian poet and artist Ashraf Fayadh, 35, has also attracted international condemnation.
He was sentenced to death last week for apostasy, based on a book of poetry he wrote several years ago.
UN human rights experts say the sentence is in violation of international human rights law.

'Vicious' crackdown

Hundreds of poets and writers from around the world have also called for his release.
"The death sentence against Fayadh is the latest example of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia's lack of tolerance for freedom of expression and ongoing persecution of free thinkers," they said.
Indeed, when a Twitter user described Mr Fayadh's sentence as "Isis-like", one newspaper quoted a justice ministry official threatening to sue.
"Executions are not the only serious human rights concern," says Sevag Kechichian, Saudi researcher for Amnesty International.
"There's been a vicious and systematic crackdown on human rights activists and on peaceful dissent in general - including bloggers and online activists.
"If you are on the UN Human Rights Council, then you are obliged to uphold the highest standards in promoting and protecting human rights."
Saudi Arabia, controversially, became a member of the UN Human Rights Council in 2013, for a three-year term.
Leaked diplomatic cables released earlier this year suggest British and Saudi diplomats agreed to support each other's election to the 47-member council.
The Saudi authorities reject international criticism over their human rights record, saying their legal system - based on Sharia principles - should be respected.

The 'North Korea ghost boats' washing up on Japan

Mysterious, crew-less "ghost ships" have been washing up on the western shores of Japan.
Over the past two months at least 13 wooden boats have turned up, with more than 20 decaying bodies on board. Very little is known about them but investigators have found some evidence that hint at their origins.

What are these 'ghost ships'?

They are so called because they have been found empty or with only corpses on board off Japan's western coast, stretching from Fukui prefecture to the southern tip of Hokkaido . All the bodies were either decomposing or partially skeletonised by the time they arrived, a clear indication they had been dead for a long time.
But this is not the first time boats have come ashore in Japan or on the coast of Russia's far east. Japan's coast guard told the BBC that 65 such boats washed up last year, but the latest influx appears to be coming at a slightly higher rate than usual.

Where are they from?

They are believed to be North Korean fishing boats, many of which will have been out searching for king crab, squid and sandfish at this time of year. Markings on at least one of the boats, in Korean, indicated that it belonged to the North's military.
In North Korea the military is heavily involved in the fishing industry, as it is in many others.
A scrap of what is thought to be part of the North Korean flag flying from one of the boats is also a clue. Unsurprisingly, there has been no mention of the missing vessels from North Korea

How did those on board die?

Not every boat has been found with corpses.
Japanese officials are investigating the causes of death but say some of the bodies are in such a bad state of decomposition that it may be impossible to identify cause of death.
It is now winter in the region and with little food on board, exposure and starvation are possible explanations too.
Japan normally bans North Korean ships from landing in the country, although it makes exceptions on humanitarian grounds, such as for ships sheltering from storms.

Are they defectors?

Some commentators have suggested that purges could be behind this, speculating that sailors could be trying to flee the regime. There have also been reports of tighter control of the North Korea-China border, the most common route for defectors.
But many remain unconvinced.
Dr John Nilsson-Wright, head of the Asia Programme at think-tank Chatham House told the BBC that aside from the cultural and linguistic ties, "it wouldn't make sense if you were a defector to go to Japan. South Korea is much closer by boat."

So what happened to these boats on the open sea?

The wooden boats arriving are old and heavy and have neither powerful modern engines nor GPS navigation systems. If they ventured too far out or were blown off course, they could lose their bearings or find it hard to beat the currents even if they knew which way to go, analysts say
The fact that it is relatively common for these boats to appear also suggests that this, not purges in Pyongyang, might be a more likely explanation.
Weather is unlikely to be a factor. While the Sea of Japan had rougher seas and stronger winds in November, the Japan Coast Guard told the BBC these were normal conditions.

Why would fishermen take this risk?

One hypothesis is that the leadership is demanding bigger catches, and they have been forced to take chances to meet their targets. State TV has shown Kim Jong-Un at fishing facilities, exhorting the country to boost production.
But the leader's media appearances have not convinced everyone.
"Agricultural yields seem to be up," Dr Nilsson-Wright says, suggesting that profit-seeking would be a more plausible incentive to take such risks.
It is common in North Korea for workers to keep some of the surplus they generate past the targets set by the state. This quasi-capitalist system has been credited with improving production, analysts say.
But, if you are especially poor, as many North Koreans are, "you will do anything you can to improve your own existence", says Dr Nilsson-Wright.
This could include taking desperate chances at sea: "It could simply be that they were just unlucky."

Scott Weiland: tributes paid to rock star following death at 48

Tributes have been paid to US singer Scott Weiland, former frontman with Stone Temple Pilots, following his death while on tour in Minnesota.
Slash, with whom Weiland performed in rock supergroup Velvet Revolver, wrote on Twitter that it was "a sad day".
"RIP Scott Weiland," said Dave Kushner, another Velvet Revolver member.
Tom Vitorino, Weiland's manager, confirmed the singer's death at the age of 48 on Thursday night, saying he had "passed away in his sleep".
A statement on Instagram said Weiland had died "while on a tour stop in Bloomington, Minnesota, with his band The Wildabouts".

TMZ reported the singer's body was discovered on his tour bus outside a motel, near the venue where the band was due to play.
Actress Juliette Lewis was one of the first to pay tribute to the singer following news of his death: "Sad to hear about Scott Weiland passing. He was a once of a kind epic force onstage. Thoughts are w[ith] his family," she tweeted.
Rock band Wheatus, best known for the hit single Teenage Dirtbag, tweeted: "We opened for @STPBand in 2000. I watched them side stage and Scott Weiland destroyed me, he was the real thing. Seeing him changed me forever."
Grammy organisers the Recording Academy of America hailed Weiland as "a grunge icon" adding his "extraordinary talent and captivating performances will forever live on and inspire legions of rock fans worldwide".
Former Radio 1, now Beats 1 DJ Zane Lowe tweeted he was "very sad", adding: "So many moments sent listening to him sing in my headphones."
Aerosmith's Joe Perry also praised Weiland as "such a gifted performer", while Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic said he was "really sorry to hear" the news.
Additional tributes came from Travis Barker of Blink-182, who said it was "very sad news", and Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx, who expressed the hope that "it wasn't drugs" that caused his demise.

Analysis - Mark Savage, BBC Music reporter

Stone Temple Pilots had a messy origin - Scott Weiland and bassist Robert DeLeo met at a Black Flag concert, and realised they were both dating the same woman.
They put their differences aside to form a band - initially called Mighty Joe Young - and became so close they wrote their debut hit, Plush, while sharing a hot tub.
Powered by Weiland's distinctive lower register snarl, Stone Temple Pilots went on to sell 13.5 million albums in the US - but their stadium-ready anthems became a target for grunge purists, who accused them of being sell-outs.
Success set Weiland on a dangerous path. The musician, who struggled with bipolar disorder, turned to heroin, and addiction made it impossible for the band to continue.
Set adrift, he recorded a well-received solo album, 12 Bar Blues, and joined the rock supergroup Velvet Revolver - later admitting he did it for the money. "I can't call it the music of my soul," he told Spin magazine.
In later years, he rejoined Stone Temple Pilots, and claimed to have kicked his bad habits.
"I haven't had a needle in my arm in thirteen years," he told Blabbermouth earlier this year.
"Overcoming my addiction to heroin was the hardest thing I've ever done, and I'm damn proud of the fact that the time in my life when drugs were stronger than my commitment to my health is so far behind me, and always will be."
Born in California, Weiland formed the band Stone Temple Pilots with brothers Robert and Dean DeLeo in the late 1980s and went on to enjoy early critical and commercial success.
But the success of tracks such as Big Empty, Vasoline and Interstate Love Song, which propelled the 1994 album Purple to the top of the US charts, was marred by in-fighting among band members.
The band took a number of breaks, with Weiland eventually leaving and co-forming the supergroup Velvet Revolver - with former Guns N' Roses members Slash (guitars), Duff McKagan (bass) and Matt Sorum (drums) - in 2002.
However, the singer's drug addiction issues were becoming increasingly problematic.
In 1995, the singer was convicted of buying crack cocaine and sentenced to probation.
He was jailed in 1999 for violating his probation after being convicted of heroin possession in 1998, and four years later, in 2003, sentenced to three years' probation for drug possession.
In 2008, he was sentenced to eight days in jail after pleading no contest to a drink driving charge.
Velvet Revolver frequently had alter its schedules to accommodate Weiland's court appearances and spells in rehab and the band's 2007 release, Libertad, was the last to feature Weiland on vocals.
They parted ways with Weiland the following year, blaming the singer's "erratic behaviour".
He later returned to the reformed Stone Temple Pilots - but in 2013 they, too, ejected him from the band, claiming he had been "misappropriating" their name to further his solo career.
Reports of Weiland's death began to circulate after musician Dave Navarro reportedly tweeted: "Just learned our friend Scott Weiland has died. So gutted, I am thinking of his family tonight." That tweet later appeared to have been removed.
No immediate cause of death was given in the official statement. The statement asked for "the privacy of Scott's family be respected".
Weiland's current band, Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts, were scheduled to play at a Medina, Minnesota, concert venue, on Thursday. The event was cancelled.
 
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