With climate at 'breaking point', leaders urge breakthrough in Paris

PARIS World leaders launched an ambitious attempt on Monday to hold back rising temperatures, with the United States and China leading calls for the climate summit in Paris to mark a decisive turn in the fight against global warming.In a series of opening addresses to the U.N. talks, heads of state and government exhorted each other to find common cause in two weeks of bargaining to steer the global economy away from its dependence on fossil fuels. French President Francois Hollande said the world was at a "breaking point".The leaders arrived in Paris with high expectations and armed with promises to act. After decades of struggling negotiations and the failure of a summit in Copenhagen six years ago, some form of agreement - likely to be the strongest global climate pact yet - appears all but assured by mid-December."What should give us hope that this is a turning point, that this is the moment we finally determined we would save our planet, is the fact that our nations share a sense of urgency about this challenge and a growing realization that it is within our power to do something about it," said U.S. President Barack Obama, one of the first leaders to speak at the summit.The leaders gathered in a vast conference center at Le Bourget airfield. In all, 195 countries are part of the unwieldy negotiating process, with a variety of leadership styles and ideologies that has made consensus elusive in the past.Key issues, notably how to divide the global bill to pay for a shift to renewable energy, are still contentious. "Climate justice demands that the little carbon space we still have, developing countries should have enough room to grow," said India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a key player because of his country's size and its heavy dependence on coal.One difference this time may be the partnership between the United States and China, the two biggest carbon emitters, who between them account for almost 40 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Resources Institute think-tank.Once far apart on climate issues, they agreed in 2014 to jointly kick-start a transition away from fossil fuels, each at its own speed and in its own way.The United States and China "have both determined that it is our responsibility to take action," Obama said after meeting his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the summit."Tackling climate change is a shared mission for mankind," Xi responded in his own remarks.Obama said the two countries would work together at the summit to achieve an agreement that moves toward a low-carbon global economy this century and "robust" financial support for developing countries adapting to climate change.Flying home to Rome on the papal plane after a visit to Africa, Pope Francis told journalists: "Every year the problems are getting worse. We are at the limits. If I may use a strong word I would say that we are at the limits of suicide." Most scientists say failure to agree on strong measures in Paris would doom the world to ever-hotter average temperatures, deadlier storms, more frequent droughts and rising sea levels as polar ice caps melt.SMOG OVER CHINA AND INDIAFacing such alarming projections, the leaders of nations responsible for about 90 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions have come bearing pledges to reduce their national carbon output, through different measures at different rates.As the summit opened in Paris, the capitals of the world's two most populous nations, China and India, were blanketed in hazardous, choking smog, with Beijing on an "orange" pollution alert, the second-highest level.The deal will mark a momentous step in the often frustrating quest for global agreement, albeit one that on its own is not believed to be enough to prevent the earth's temperatures from rising past a damaging threshold. How and when nations should review their goals - and then set higher, more ambitious ones - is another issue to be resolved at the talks. "The Paris conference is not the finishing line but a new starting point," Xi said.The gathering is being held in a somber city. Security has been tightened after Islamist militants killed 130 people on Nov. 13, and Hollande said he could not separate "the fight with terrorism from the fight against global warming". Leaders must face both challenges, leaving their children "a world freed of terror" as well as one "protected from catastrophes", he said.On the eve of the summit, an estimated 785,000 people around the world joined the biggest day of climate change activism in history, telling world leaders there was "No Planet B" in the fight against global warming.Signaling their determination to resolve the most intractable points, senior negotiators sat down on Sunday, a day earlier than planned, to begin their work.The last attempt to get a global deal collapsed in chaos and acrimony in Copenhagen in 2009. Anxious to avoid a re-run of the Copenhagen disaster, major powers have tried this time to smooth some of the bumps in the way of an agreement before they arrive.The presidents, prime ministers and princes were making their cameo appearances at the outset of the conference rather than swooping in at the end. The old goal of seeking a legally binding international treaty, certain to be dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress, has been replaced by a system of national pledges to reduce emissions.Some are presented as best intentions, others as measures legally enforced by domestic laws and regulations.WHO WILL PAY?If a signed deal now appears likely, so too is the prospect that it will not be enough to prevent the world's average temperature from rising beyond 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. That is widely viewed as a threshold for dangerous and potentially catastrophic changes in the planet's climate system.Obama called for an "enduring framework for human progress", one that would compel countries to steadily ramp up their carbon-cutting goals and openly track progress against them.The U.S.-China agreement has been a balm for the main source of tension that characterized previous talks, in which the developing world argued that countries which had grown rich by industrializing on fossil fuels should pay the cost of shifting all economies to a renewable energy future.The question of how richer nations can help cover the cost of switching to cleaner energy sources and offset climate-related damage must still be resolved, A handful of the world's richest entrepreneurs, including Bill Gates, have pledged to double the $10 billion they collectively spend on clean energy research and development in the next five years."The climate bill has finally come due. Who will pay?" said Baron Waqa, president of the Pacific island nation Nauru. (Additional reporting by Jeff Mason, John Irish and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Jennifer Lawrence and Andrew Roche)

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Apple wins dismissal of lawsuit over MacBook logic boards

Apple Inc won the dismissal on Thursday of a lawsuit accusing it of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook laptop computers that contained "logic boards" it knew were defective, and which routinely failed within two years.U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said the plaintiffs, Uriel Marcus and Benedict Verceles, failed to show that Apple made "affirmative misrepresentations," despite citing online complaints and Apple marketing statements calling the laptops "state of the art" or the "most advanced" on the market."Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Apple's logic boards were unfit for their ordinary purposes or lacked a minimal level of quality," Alsup wrote. "Both plaintiffs were able to adequately use their computers for approximately 18 months and two years, respectively."Alsup gave the plaintiffs until Jan. 22 to amend their lawsuit, which sought class-action status, against the Cupertino, California-based company. Omar Rosales, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a similar request.The plaintiffs claimed that Apple's sale of MacBooks since May 20, 2010, violated consumer protection laws in California and Texas, where the lawsuit began last May before being moved.They also contended that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was told about the defective logic boards in 2011, but did nothing. Logic boards contain computer circuitry and are sometimes known as motherboards.A separate and still pending lawsuit in California accuses Apple of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook Pro laptops in 2011 that contained defective graphic cards, causing screen distortions and system failures. MacBooks are part of Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop computers. The company reported unit sales in that business of 18.91 million in its latest fiscal year.The case is Marcus et al v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-03824. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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Obama and daughters purchase prose and ice pops on Small Business Saturday

WASHINGTON President Barack Obama took his teenage daughters Malia and Sasha shopping on Saturday for books and a sweet treat to promote Small Business Saturday, an annual event designed to boost holiday shopping at mom-and-pop shops.In the tiny Upshur Street Books in northwest Washington, the casually dressed Obama and his daughters browsed for books with the help of the store manager, Anna Thorn.The post-Thanksgiving book-browsing outing has become an annual tradition for the First Family.On Saturday in the softly lit shop adorned with Christmas lights, excited employees mingled next to platters of colorful cupcakes. Outside, cheery store windows featured books of fairy tales and a green handwritten "Shop Local" sign. The bookstore opened last November. The Obamas bought nine books that spanned age brackets, including three young-adult novels by Cynthia Voigt, “Purity: A Novel” by Jonathan Franzen, “Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights: A Novel” by Salman Rushdie, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Book 8” by Jeff Kinney, and “Dork Diaries 1: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life” by Rachel Renée Russell.Afterward, they dropped by Pleasant Pops cafe, where the unusually warm late-November day called for ice pops.The Obamas quizzed employees on their recommendations before ordering a cookies and cream pop for 17-year-old Malia, cranberry apple for 14-year-old Sasha, and strawberry ginger lemonade – a store favorite – for the president. "That sounds just really fancy," Obama said, shelling out $9 for the goodies - "a bargain," he said."This was the highlight of my Small Business Saturday," he said, smiling. Part of the American Thanksgiving tradition is shopping for holiday gifts, with big box stores and shopping malls offering massive sales on Black Friday.Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by credit card company American Express to encourage people to spend their holiday shopping dollars at small businesses. (Reporting by Annika McGinnis; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Experts optimistic Tut's tomb may conceal Egypt's lost queen

LUXOR, Egypt Chances are high that the tomb of Ancient Egypt's boy-king Tutankhamun has passages to a hidden chamber, which may be the last resting place of the lost Queen Nefertiti, experts said on Saturday.There is huge international interest in Nefertiti, who died in the 14th century B.C. and is thought to be Tutankhamun's stepmother, and confirmation of her final resting place would be the most remarkable Egyptian archaeological find this century.New evidence from the radar imaging taken so far is to be sent to a team in Japan for analysis. The results are expected to be announced in a month."We said earlier there was a 60 percent chance there is something behind the walls. But now after the initial reading of the scans, we are saying now its 90 percent likely there is something behind the walls," Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mamdouh al-Damaty told a news conference.He said he expected to reach the other side of the tomb's wall within three months.Discovery of Nefertiti, whose chiseled cheek-bones and regal beauty were immortalized in a 3,300-year old bust now in a Berlin museum, would shed fresh light on what remains a mysterious period of Egyptian history.It could also be a boon for Egypt's ailing tourism industry, which has suffered near endless setbacks since the uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and which is a vital source of foreign currency. "There is, in fact, an empty space behind the wall based on radar, which is very accurate, there is no doubt," Japanese radar specialist Hirokatsu Watanabe said, his hand hovering over a fuzzy blue radar scan he said indicated the presence of a false wall. The size of the cavity is not known. DAMAGE RISKBritish Egyptologist Nicholas Reeves, leading the investigation, said last month he believed Tutankhamun's mausoleum was originally occupied by Nefertiti and that she had lain undisturbed behind what he believes is a partition wall. But at the news conference with Damaty on Saturday, Reeves warned that even the most minor of incisions in the wall could wreak damage to an inner chamber that may have been hermetically sealed for so many years."The key is to excavate slowly and carefully and record well. The fact is this isn't a race. All archaeology is disruption. We can't go back and re-do it, so we have to do it well in the first place,” Reeves said. "I’m feeling more certain today than I expected to be," he said outside the Howard Carter House, a site named after the British archaeologist propelled to international celebrity for his discovery of the Tutankhamun tomb in 1922. King Tut, as he is affectionately known, died around 1323 B.C. His intact tomb, complete with his famous golden burial mask, was discovered in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor.Experts have long sought to understand why Tut's tomb was smaller than that of other pharaohs and why its shape was more in keeping with that of the Egyptian queens of the time.Egyptologists remain uncertain over where Nefertiti died and was buried. She was long believed to have passed away during her husband's reign, suggesting she could be buried in Amarna, where her bust was found in 1912, some 400 km north of Luxor.More recently, most experts, including Reeves, have come to believe she outlived Akhenaten, who may have been Tut's father, but changed her name and may have briefly ruled Egypt."Research doesn’t always translate into reality. But it looks like we’re headed in the right direction, and our investigations are going well," said Reeves. (Reporting by Eric Knecht; Writing by Michael Georgy)

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Jones soars on Sydney winds, frustrated Spieth in touch

SYDNEY Sydneysider Matt Jones stormed into a three-stroke lead with a three-under-par 68 in the second round of the Australian Open on Friday as reigning champion Jordan Spieth moved into a share of third despite another frustrating day. The American world number one also carded a 68 to stand four shots off the pace set by Jones on seven-under and a stroke behind big-hitting local Todd Sinnott, who was second after a 70.Although conditions were markedly calmer than on Thursday, when temperatures soared and gusts of wind swirled across the fairways at the Australian Golf Club, good scores were still at a premium.Spieth could have really put his stamp on the tournament, therefore, if he had built on the progress he made on the front nine, when he picked up birdies at the first, second and seventh holes. Another at the 14th sent him to four-under but a poor chip and a short putt at the next saw him drop his first shot of the day, a swipe of the hand in the direction of the offending ball making clear his frustration.A second bogey at the 16th dropped him deep into the pack again and although he finished with a birdie at the 18th, the 22-year-old was left on three-under feeling he had missed an opportunity. "The cross-winds again made it a guessing game out there today, leaving a 50-50 shot and we got less than 50 percent of them right," he told reporters.  "It just made it so frustrating as I was striking the ball well, and it was a round I could have shot six or seven under par, and I just didn't have any chances."So boy, it was a round that could have been and that made it so frustrating as I found myself finally getting into a nice rhythm as I was hitting fairways and giving myself opportunities but I just couldn't quite gauge the wind." U.S. PGA tour winner Jones was already in the clubhouse when Spieth got underway, having mixed five birdies with two birdies to add the 68 to the impressive 67 he shot when the wind was at its peak on Thursday afternoon.The 35-year-old is a member of the host club and conceded that 20 years playing the course gave him some advantage when it came to dealing with the breeze."But you've still got to get it in the hole," he said. "If there was no wind, I could have gone out and shot three over today -- that's how golf is." Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had the best round of the day with a 66 for a share of third with Spieth, former U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy (71), overnight leader Lincoln Tighe (73) and another local in Aron Price (68).Former world number one Adam Scott had a rare round where he failed to pick up a single birdie, finishing nine shots off the pace on two-over after a 73.The difficult conditions means he comfortably made the cut, however, and, like U.S. Open and Masters champion Spieth, will be looking to go low over the weekend."Right now I think the goal is going to be to try and shoot 10 under on the weekend and I think that should be good enough," said Spieth. (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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