News 360

Published: Wednesday 15 July 2009

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Amateur cloud watchers in the UK first spotted this unusual cloud and named it Asperatus, which means rough in Latin. Meteorologists said this is a new variety; its choppy undersides could be due to strong winds disturbing previously stable layers of warm and cold air. UK's Royal Meteorological Society is working on a plan to add it to the world cloud atlas. No new cloud has been classified since 1951.
Down to Earth Zimbabwe's prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, got US $73 million from the US on the first leg of his international tour aimed at mobilizing funds to aid health, education and governance. The country faces hyper-inflation. Washington said not a dollar will go to the government directly.

Down to Earth Nigeria lost US $1.87 billion during 2004-2007 due to manipulation of crude oil prices by the country's state oil corporation, said a parliamentary committee.

Down to Earth An invasion of desert locusts has destroyed 3,000 hectares of farmland in Somaliland in the past one month, said the self-declared republic's agriculture ministry. fao said the outbreak will continue till September as they have already laid eggs along the western coast.

Down to Earth Africa's second largest rubber producer Firestone is under fire for polluting creeks in Liberia and ruining people's health. Liberia's legislators chided the environmental protection agency for not making public probe reports of the allegations.

Down to Earth A coal mine exploded due to a build-up of methane gas in Indonesia's West Sumatra province, killing at least 27 people and injuring a dozen. The blast sent flames 50 metres into the air and left a huge crater on the ground.

Down to Earth China announced US $87 million in subsidies to promote energy-saving lighting products. This will save 6.2 billion kilowatts and offset 6.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions, the government said.

Down to Earth The Maldives has appealed the UN space agency to help the island country plan its defences against rising sea levels.

Down to Earth Soon after Japan set its new target to cut ghg emissions by 15 per cent of 2005 levels by 2020, environmentalists called it appalling and unambitious. Japan is committed to cut 6 per cent of its ghg emissions on 1990 levels by 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol, but its emissions have risen 7 per cent.

Down to Earth Dust storms with wind speed of 80 km an hour hit Kuwait forcing closure of three ports and bringing oil exports to a halt. This winter the country received no rain, for the third time in a row, making the desert sand loose and dust storms intense.

Down to Earth Twenty German blue-chip companies are pooling in resources to harness solar power in Africa's deserts and transport it to Europe. The US $555-billion Desertec project aims to build solar power plants in Morocco, Libya and Algeria.

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Down to Earth Sweden will build the world's first permanent nuclear waste storage site that can house radioactive waste for over 100,000 years. The waste, packed in copper-coated containers, will be buried in tunnels drilled 500 metres underground in the bedrock. Construction will begin in 2016.

Down to Earth UK-based company Riversimple unveiled the prototype of a new hydrogen-fuelled vehicle, Urban Car. The company plans to post its design on the web for free use by entrepreneurs to manufacture the car.

Down to Earth Cuba reduced the quotas of grain and salt that its people get against a ration card. The government said the exceptional measures are to ease the impact of the global financial meltdown on the island nation's badly hurt economy.

Down to Earth Venezuela banned sales of Coca Cola Zero saying the no-calorie soft drink uses artificial sweetener sodium cyclamate, which is a suspected carcinogen.

Down to Earth Drug traffickers dump 15 million litres of 27 harmful chemicals used to produce cocaine into rivers of Peru's Amazon region every year, the country's counter-narcotics agency said. Peru is the world's second-largest cocaine producer.

Down to Earth Chile approved a law to close the wage gap between men and women. According to the country's National Institute of Statistics, women workers earn 31.1 per cent less than men.

Down to Earth Farmers in Bolivia's Tarija province staged protests demanding the government spend a larger share of natural gas revenue on development of rural areas. Tarija sits on 85 per cent of Bolivia's 48 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Its people's income is the lowest in the continent.

Down to Earth Australia's Murray Darling river system recorded its third lowest inflow in 118 years due to a prolonged drought. Between June 2008 and May 2009, the river system received 1,860 gigalitres of water against an inflow of 8,840 gigalitres.

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