About two-thirds of the glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalaya mountain range are at risk of melting by 2100 unless carbon emission-fueled climate change is reversed, according to new report published Monday.
Even if the landmark Paris Agreement's goal of limiting climate change to a 1.5 degree celsius gain is realized, one-third of the region's glaciers would disappear, the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment warns.
South Africa summons diplomats over letter to president
South Africa summoned five diplomats Monday to express its displeasure over a letter they had jointly written to President Cyril Ramaphosa regarding their countries’ concerns about corruption allegations.The letter was sent directly to Ramaphosa without first contacting the Foreign Ministry, breaching a diplomatic channel of communication, according to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).Local media reported Sunday that the embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany and Netherlands had sent the letter warning Ramaphosa to enforce strict rule of law by dealing with corrupt officials or lose investor confidence.In a joint statement, however, the embassies denied media reports that they had sent an official letter to the government but instead said they had only sent a ‘discussion paper’ they had drafted in June 2018 ahead of Ramaphosa’s investment conference aimed at attracting investors.“This discussion paper was intended to support South Africa’s investment drive and to underpin our constructive dialogue with the South African government,” the embassies said, without indicating whether they had advised Ramaphosa to deal harshly with corrupt officials.“The heads of the diplomatic missions regretted the misunderstanding and further clarified that the discussion paper had been sent to the presidency to contribute to the dialogue on how South Africa can attract more foreign direct investment,” DIRCO said in a separate statement.Outgoing Congo government defends golden parachutesZimbabwe looks to alleviate foreign currency shortagesThe diplomats agreed at the conclusion of their meeting with DIRCO that in future, proper diplomatic channels and protocols will be followed in all diplomatic communications.“The heads of the diplomatic missions also reiterated their commitment to working actively in support of South Africa’s investment drive,” DIRCO said.The South African government has been grappling with a number of corruption scandals involving some minsters and other government officials.Last year, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) was forced to ask its former leader, Jacob Zuma, to resign as president after he was implicated in several corruption scandals.His successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, is largely viewed as an anti-corruption crusader. But analysts say he cannot take strong action against corrupt government officials because he reportedly ‘fears’ losing support from ministers and ANC cadres who could join other parties and refuse to campaign for him if he prosecutes or fires them.South Africa will hold key elections in May to choose a new National Assembly and legislatures in each province.Turkey, Burkina Faso parliament speakers meet in Ankara
The Hindu Kush Himalaya region is commonly known as the world's "third pole" for its vast ice fields. It is a vital water source for 250 million people living in the mountain range, as well as 1.65 million others who dwell downriver.
"This is the climate crisis you haven’t heard of," Philippus Wester of the Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), who led the report, said in a statement accompanying its release.
"Global warming is on track to transform the frigid, glacier-covered mountain peaks of the HKH cutting across eight countries to bare rocks in a little less than a century," he said using an acronym for the region.
The study warns environmental impacts will include worsened air quality and a jump in extreme weather event, but the greatest impacts will be on river flows and changes in the monsoon weather system that brings torrential downpours.
Lima summit calls for Venezuela’s Maduro to step down
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido made a surprise appearance via video Monday at a summit of countries called to try to find a solution to the chaos in the country.The summit, held in the Canadian capital of Ottawa, brought together the host country, the United States, several European countries and Latin American member countries of the Lima Group.Guaido said the country led by Nicolas Maduro has usurped democracy.“Unfortunately, we are still under a dictatorship in Venezuela at the moment,” he said by video link. “I would like to reaffirm our actions and our co-operation with the Lima Group, along with Canada, and all the countries.”The summit countries agreed to increase pressure on Maduro to step down.Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced at a press conference following the summit that Venezuela, led by Guaido as Maduro’s replacement, has been recognized as a full-fledged member of the Lima Group.The countries, including Canada, maintain that Maduro is a dictator who took power through rigged elections last May. Guaido is the head of Venezuela’s legislature.Canada also announced CAN$53 million (US$40.4 million) in aid to Venezuela, a country reeling from political, economic and humanitarian strife with a lack of food, medicine and other services. Rioting in the streets is commonplace as Venezuelans press to have Maduro step down.More than 3 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015 in search of food, healthcare and other basic services, Global Affairs Canada said in a statement Monday on its website.The exodus has created a refugee crisis in South America, particularly in neighboring Brazil and Colombia."This is a pivotal moment for the people of Venezuela – we are observing a widespread rejection of the Maduro regime's illegitimate claim to power following fraudulent elections last May," said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.Freeland did not mince words at the press conference.“Venezuela’s National Assembly and now interim president Guaido have charted a constitutional path forward to establish an interim government,” she said. “We must do everything in our power to assist them in this effort.”Also at the press conference, Peruvian Foreign Minister Nestor Popolizio Bardales said the ongoing demonstrations are “the beginning of the end” for Maduro.The Lima Group includes Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay and Peru. Mexico is also a member but was conspicuously absent from Monday’s summit because it continues to back Maduro, as does Cuba and Bolivia.Freeland ruled out military intervention. But with the summit countries vowing to continue the pressure to have the beleaguered president step aside, the next move is Maduro’s.Maduro vows to defend Venezuela with his life
The Hindu Kush Himalaya's glaciers feed 10 of the world’s most important river systems, including the Ganges, Indus, Irrawaddy, Mekong and Yellow rivers.
Eklabya Sharma, the deputy director general of the center that issued the report, warned of "rocky times ahead for the region.
"Between now and 2080, the environmental economic and social conditions laid out in the report could go downhill," she said in a statement.
"Because many of the disasters and sudden changes will play out across country borders, conflict among the region’s countries could easily flare up. But the future doesn’t have to be bleak if governments work together to turn the tide against melting glaciers and the myriad impacts they unleash," Sharma added.
New York Times calls for end Afghanistan war, says millions of Pakistanis displaced
The U.S. is currently on a path to put an end to the war in Afghanistan, and it needs to do more to follow through and bring American troops home, according to The New York Times.The Times Editorial Board said in an opinion piece the war, known otherwise as the "forever war", is now up for reappraisal and needs to be given another examination."The plan is failing. More bombs and boots haven’t brought victory any closer. Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed, maimed and traumatized. Millions of people are internally displaced or are refugees in Iran and Pakistan," the board wrote.The justification of the war was to end terrorism, hate and extremism but the Times noted "hatred is borderless." Since former President George W. Bush announced the war on terror, more than 200 domestic terror attacks have happened in the U.S. at the hands of Americans."Nearly two decades of terrorist attacks — here and abroad by attackers both foreign and domestic — have shown the obvious: that terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy force that can be defeated, and it knows no borders. It can be thwarted in certain instances, but it cannot be ended outright," the board wrote. The U.S. administration's discussions with the Taliban in Afghanistan have been promising, yet Washington did note if the Taliban was found to become a base for global terrorism, they would return back to eradicate the threat. "Any reckoning with the longest war in this country’s history must also grapple with one of its gravest miscalculations. We need to recognize that foreign war is not a vaccine against global terrorism," the board wrote. "The troops have fought bravely in Afghanistan. It’s time to bring them home.”