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Friday, December 13, 2019

World News, World News Updates, World News Headlines, Latest World News, Current Affairs

World News, World News Updates, World News Headlines, Latest World News, Current Affairs


China’s Foreign Minister Calls U.S. the ‘Troublemaker of the World’

Posted: 13 Dec 2019 01:35 AM PST

(BEIJING) — China’s foreign minister on Friday labeled the United States the “troublemaker of the world,” citing the Trump administration’s withdrawal from a number of international treaties.

Wang Yi said the U.S. had conceded its right to international leadership and had “seriously damaged the foundation of the hard-won mutual trust between China and the U.S.”

“We are willing to resolve the contradictions and differences with the U.S. through dialogues and discussions based on equality and mutual respect, but we will never accept any unilateral sanction or bullying,” he said.

Washington’s departure from international agreements had ”brought many problems and troubles to the international community, and has made the US the troublemaker of the world today,” Wang said.

Wang’s remarks come amid heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade, politics and allegations of the theft of intellectual property by China.

Addressing a conference on Chinese foreign policy, Wang said that the U.S. had ”launched deliberate attacks and defamation” against China over issues concerning China’s ”territorial sovereignty, national dignity and core interests.” They include human rights and the northwestern region of Xinjiang, where authorities have detained more than 1 million minority Muslims in political reeducation camps.

E.U. Leaders to Meet on Brexit Divorce as U.K. Election Indicates a Way Out

Posted: 13 Dec 2019 01:24 AM PST

(BRUSSELS) — European Union leaders are gathering Friday to discuss Britain’s departure from the bloc amid some relief that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has secured a parliamentary majority that will allow him to push the Brexit divorce deal he negotiated through parliament.

With or without an agreement, Britain is scheduled to leave on Jan. 31. It’s the first time that a country will have left the world’s biggest trading bloc. Though many EU leaders will be relieved that the Brexit saga is finally coming to an end, just as many are saddened at the departure of such a heavyweight member state.

When Britain voted to leave the EU in June 2016, there were fears that it could lead to other departures. However, those fears have dissipated as the process has been so politically divisive — two U.K. elections were held over it — and expensive.

Though the pathway to Britain’s departure by Jan. 31 is reasonably clear, the future relationship between the country and the EU is not. Discussions on that can only begin after Britain formally leaves. The EU has already said that its main Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier will lead those discussions.

After congratulating Johnson on his victory, new EU Council President Charles Michel said that “we expect as soon as possible the vote by the British parliament on the withdrawal agreement.”

“We are ready,” he told reporters as he arrived to chair the meeting of Britain’s 27 EU partner countries. “The European Union will negotiate in order to have close cooperation in the future with the U.K.”

Ultimately, the Brexit divorce negotiations may yet prove to be the easy part. If Britain does leave at the end of next month, it will have less than a year to negotiate a new trade agreement with its partners and get it endorsed in all their parliaments. Most trade pacts take several years to agree.

First thing though, the EU member countries will have to agree on a new negotiating mandate for Barnier.

“We are all set,” said new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, whose powerful executive arm negotiates trade deals on behalf of EU member countries. The commission also supervised the Brexit talks.

“We have the structures internally. We are ready to negotiate whatever is necessary,” she said.

Asked whether it is possible to seal a trade deal in under a year, Michel said: “it is not my intention to predict based on the experience of the past.”

Malaysian Court Approves U.S. Bid to Extradite North Korean on Money Laundering Charges

Posted: 12 Dec 2019 09:55 PM PST

(KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia) — A Malaysian court Friday approved the extradition of a North Korean man to the U.S. to face money laundering charges in a case he says is politically motivated.

Defense lawyer Jagjit Singh said Mun Chol Myong, 54, was shocked by the ruling and will appeal to the High Court.

Mun has lived in Malaysia for a decade and was arrested in May after U.S. authorities requested his extradition. Malaysia’s government approved it but Mun filed a legal challenge. Singh has said his extradition would likely be the first of a North Korean to the U.S. for money laundering.

In his affidavit, Mun rejected allegations by the FBI that he was the “leader of an international organized criminal group involved in laundering proceeds of bank fraud” from April 2013 to November 2018.

Mun denied he laundered funds through front companies and issued fraudulent documents to support illicit shipments to his country in violation of U.N. sanctions. He said he was the victim of a “politically motivated” extradition request aimed at pressuring North Korea over its missile program.

The Sessions Court didn’t give reasons for its ruling, with the judge merely saying she was satisfied with the prosecutor’s arguments. Prosecutors had told the court that the extradition bid was not political in nature and purely for money laundering.

A gaunt-looking Mun didn’t show much reaction when lawyers explained the ruling to him. North Korean Embassy officials and his wife were also in court.

Singh, who is hired by the North Korean Embassy to defend Mun, said the appeal could take 2-3 months and that the High Court’s decision will be final.

He said the F.B.I. didn’t specifically spell out the money laundering allegations and had just said they were related to the purchase of boat engines from the U.S. that it claimed can be used for anti terrorism purposes.

“Therefore in our view it definitely smells of political flavor, political character,” Singh told reporters.

The North Korean said he moved to Malaysia in 2008 so his wife could receive treatment for breast cancer. He said he joined Sinsar Trading Pte. Ltd. in Singapore as a business development manager in 2014 upon the recommendation of the North Korean Embassy there, and that his job was merely to follow up on payments for the sale of palm oil and soybean oil to North Korea via China.

Mun, who returned to Malaysia with his wife and daughter in 2017, has said the extradition request was unfair as the Singaporean company where he worked and its three Singaporean directors have not been charged.

Trump Signs Off on Trade Deal With China to Avert December Tariffs

Posted: 12 Dec 2019 02:25 PM PST

President Donald Trump signed off on a so-called phase-one trade deal with China, averting the Dec. 15 introduction of a new wave of U.S. tariffs on about $160 billion of consumer goods from the Asian nation, according to people familiar with the matter.

The deal presented to Trump by trade advisers Thursday included a promise by the Chinese to buy more U.S. agricultural goods, according to the people. Officials also discussed possible reductions of existing duties on Chinese products, they said. The terms have been agreed but the legal text has not yet been finalized, the people said. A White House spokesperson declined to comment.

The administration has reached out to allies on Capitol Hill and in the business community to issue statements of support once the announcement is made, they said.

U.S. stocks rose to records earlier Thursday as optimism grew that there would be a deal. Trump tweeted that the U.S. and China are “VERY close” to signing a “BIG” trade deal, also sending equities higher.

“They want it, and so do we!” he tweeted five minutes after equity markets opened in New York, sending stocks to new records.

Trump has rejected deals with China before. Negotiators have been working on the terms of the phase-one deal for months after the president announced in October that the two nations had reached an agreement that could be put on paper within weeks.

The U.S. has added a 25% duty on about $250 billion of Chinese products and a 15% levy on another $110 billion of its imports over the course of a roughly 20-month trade war. Discussions now are focused on reducing those rates by as much as half, as part of the interim agreement Trump announced almost nine weeks ago.

In addition to a significant increase in Chinese agricultural purchases in exchange for tariff relief, officials have also said a phase-one pact would include Chinese commitments to do more to stop intellectual-property theft and an agreement by both sides not to manipulate their currencies.

Put off for later discussions are knotty issues such as longstanding U.S. complaints over the vast web of subsidies ranging from cheap electricity to low-cost loans that China has used to build its industrial might.

Officials from the world’s two biggest economies have been locked in negotiations on the phase-one deal since Trump announced it.

The new duties, which were scheduled to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Washington time on Sunday unless the administration says otherwise, would hit consumer goods from China including smartphones and toys.

Before today, Trump’s advisers have sent conflicting signals and stressed that he hadn’t made up his mind on the next steps. Advocates of delaying the tariff increase have argued that continued negotiations with Beijing will enable him to maintain a tough line with China without inflicting the economic damage that more import taxes might bring.

The decision facing Trump highlights one dilemma he confronts going into the 2020 election: Whether to bet on an escalation of hostilities with China and the tariffs he is so fond of or to follow the advice of more market-oriented advisers and business leaders who argue a pause in the escalation would help a slowing U.S. economy bounce back in an election year.

What Bloomberg’s Economists Say…

“The outcome of U.S.-China trade talks will be a key determinant of the trajectory for 2020 growth. At one extreme, a deal that takes tariffs back to May 2019 levels, and provides certainty that the truce will hold, could deliver a 0.6% boost to global GDP. At the other, a breakdown in talks would mean the trade drag extends into the year ahead.”
–Tom Orlik, chief economist
For the full report, click here

Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative leading the negotiations with China, is in a camp that sees progress in talks and wants them to continue without further escalation, according to people familiar with the discussions. That would set up a push to conclude the talks in January, possibly before a State of the Union address to Congress by Trump.

–– With assistance from Justin Sink, Vince Golle and Jennifer Jacobs.

Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party Secures a Landmark Victory in the U.K. Election

Posted: 12 Dec 2019 02:11 PM PST

Boris Johnson secured an emphatic victory in the U.K. election held Thursday, with the Prime Minister’s Conservative Party winning a majority of seats in Parliament and a mandate to fulfill its campaign pledge of “Getting Brexit Done.”

As of Friday morning U.K. time, 649 of 650 seats had been declared, according to the BBC. The Conservatives held 364, well over the number needed to guarantee it will form a majority government.

The results showed the opposition Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn capturing just 203 seats, compared to 262 in 2017.

Corbyn said that he will not lead the party in the next election given the “very disappointing” results, according to the BBC.

The result suggests the paralysis in British politics over Brexit is set to come to an end.

It removes the parliamentary obstacles to Johnson delivering on his pledge to take Britain out of the European Union by Jan. 31 or sooner, and entering the next stage of Brexit negotiations, on trade, which would formalize the divorce.

What are the results so far?

The BBC shows the following seats declared:

The Conservatives winning 358 seats

The Labour Party winning 203 seats

The Scottish National Party winning 48 seats

The Liberal Democrats winning 11 seats

The Brexit Party winning zero seats

How many seats are needed for a majority?

The number of seats needed to form a majority government is 320, according to the Institute for Government. (This is slightly less than half of the seats in Parliament, because some lawmakers never vote.)

How are the results different from the last election?

At the last election, in 2017, the Conservatives lost their majority but remained the largest party, with 318 seats. Labour came second with 262, having increased their seats by 30.

This time, the Conservatives have increased their seats by at least 47, winning them a long-coveted outright majority.

Labour has decreased their tally by at least 59 seats, to 203, a historic defeat, lower than even the “wilderness years” for the party in the early 1980s. Corbyn, the hard-left leader of the party, will likely come under huge pressure to step down very shortly.

“I think Brexit has dominated,” Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell told the BBC. “We thought other issues would cut through. But the evidence is, it clearly hasn’t.”

The so-called “red wall,” a swath of ex-industrial, historically pro-Labour seats across the north of England and Wales that largely voted to leave the E.U. in 2016, was punctured by the Conservatives.

What do the results mean for Brexit?

With a large majority in parliament, Johnson will find it much easier to get his Brexit deal ratified. (The deal was rejected four times by lawmakers in the 2017-2019 parliament, largely because the Conservatives lacked a majority.)

The ratification will likely happen in January, clearing the way for the U.K. to leave the E.U. before Jan. 31, as promised by Johnson on the campaign trail.

But Brexit won’t be over and done with. The U.K. and E.U. will then enter a “transition period” during which Britain will continue to abide by some E.U. rules until December 2020. In the meantime, representatives of each will enter another, more complex phase of negotiations over a future trade deal.

New Zealand Military Launches Risky Operation to Recover Bodies of 8 Victims From Volcanic Eruption

Posted: 12 Dec 2019 11:23 AM PST

(WHAKATANE, New Zealand) — New Zealand police and military specialists have launched a risky operation to recover the bodies of eight victims of a volcanic eruption on an island that has left at least eight others dead.

Just after first light Friday, two helicopters from the New Zealand Defence Force lifted off from the township of Whakatane and began the 50-kilometer (30-mile) journey to White Island off New Zealand’s eastern coast.

Eight military specialists wearing protective clothing and using breathing apparatuses will land to try to recover the bodies. Scientists have warned that gases on the island after Monday’s eruption are so toxic and corrosive that a single inhalation could be fatal.

In the Year Since TIME Named Besieged Journalists the Person of the Year, the War Against Truth Has Continued Unabated

Posted: 12 Dec 2019 11:14 AM PST

One year ago, TIME named besieged journalists the 2018 Person of the Year, gathered under the rubric the Guardians and the war on truth. Neither that war nor its consequences for democracy have abated in the intervening 12 months.

For Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, whose henchmen killed and dismembered Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate, life goes on much as before. In the spring, after the CIA detected new threats against Khashoggi’s associates, warnings went out to Canada, Norway and Washington, D.C. In November, the FBI arrested two former employees of Twitter, the platform often described as Saudi Arabia’s closest thing to a public square. Both were charged with passing on information about dissidents to bin Salman’s government.

By then, the crown prince had gone back to doing interviews with foreign press. Thirteen months and one day after Khashoggi’s murder, he presided over an IPO that valued the Saudi national oil company at $1.7 trillion, a world record. And in early December, the kingdom convened the Saudi Media Forum, to examine, according to its website, “challenges” facing the news media, “the formation of public opinion in the new environment of communication and etc.”

“Somehow, journalists and businesspeople are attending,” marvels Courtney Radsch, advocacy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based nonprofit. “Mohammed bin Salman has gotten off with complete impunity.”

How? Hints lurk in CPJ’s new global survey, which documents what Radsch calls “an environment where it’s increasingly perilous to do journalism.” Imprisonment remains a favored tactic for repressive governments, and Saudi Arabia now ranks third in the number of journalists behind bars, tied with Egypt. China leads, with Turkey second. But naming and shaming works only when shame is enforced.

Photographs by Moises Saman-Magnum Photos for TIME2018: The Guardians

“Where’s my favorite dictator?” U.S. President Donald Trump called out at a Group of Seven meeting in September, searching for Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi. The leader of the free world has also heaped praise on the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and China.

Trump being Trump, Americans shrug—but overseas, a message is received.

Consider Myanmar, where the Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who joined Khashoggi as Person of the Year cover subjects, walked out of jail on May 6. Like their sentence, their freedom came at the whim of the generals who have long controlled the country. But as Myanmar is trying to pass as a democracy, the military has grown sensitive to appearances. That’s part of why Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were jailed in the first place: the two embarrassed their government by exposing its involvement in the slaughter of civilians. But steady pressure from outside—Western governments, the U.N., Reuters—brought home that what would really improve Myanmar’s image was freeing the journalists, signaling respect for the democratic norm of press freedom.

It’s a delicate business, and far harder when the norms are ignored.

After Trump made fake news a catchphrase for any report he did not like, governments from Malaysia to Egypt to Uganda made it a legal excuse to criminalize independent journalism. In Cairo, the offices of the independent news website Mada Masr were raided and editors arrested in November, shortly after the site reported that al-Sisi’s son was being demoted for failing to protect his father’s public image. Not even U.S. journalists are safe in Egypt these days: in September, the New York Times revealed that its Cairo correspondent had to escape threatened arrest with the help of the Irish embassy because, under Trump, the U.S. State Department cannot be relied upon to offer protection to American journalists working abroad.

“It’s much worse this year,” says Maria Ressa, chief executive officer of Rappler, the last major independent news site in the Philippines and another of the Guardians. “I posted bail eight times in three months.”

Vibrant, essential and often plain fun, Rappler stands at a crucial nexus for journalism globally. The site functions first as a watchdog to the government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a profane populist who not only traduces norms but also urges the assassination of Filipino citizens in the name of combatting drugs. But Rappler also rides herd on Facebook, which almost totally dominates the Internet in the former U.S. colony. Before Cambridge Analytica or Russia’s Internet Research Agency became household names in the U.S., Rappler reporters were documenting their government’s use of fake accounts to intimidate critics and drive its divisive narrative online without leaving fingerprints.

The result—sound familiar?—is a profoundly polarized society. As well-meaning people struggle to tell what’s true from what’s false, distrust in all information rises, and many folks end up just believing what they want. The resulting confusion undermines democracy, because democracy after all requires a common understanding of reality. The ones gaining from the confusion are despots, who cast themselves as vessels of public anger while pushing out their preferred version of reality.

“If nothing significant changes,” Ressa warns from Manila, “our dystopian present is your dystopian future.”

At the local level, Americans may still know where their news comes from: they see a reporter in church or an editor at the store. When a gunman obsessed with a news story blasted into the Annapolis, Md., offices of the Gazette newspaper the Capital on June 28, 2018, and killed five people, neighbors offered not emojis but condolence cards and free counseling for the survivors. The Capital staff, designated the fourth set of Guardians, kept working through everything, and report finding both solace and more meaning than ever in what they do.

But local news has also been emaciated by the merciless shift of advertising revenue to digital giants like Google and Facebook; 7,700 media workers lost their jobs in 2019, far more than in the previous three years combined. The cuts reached all-digital newsrooms like BuzzFeed and Vice that supposedly had found a new business model. Meanwhile the success of a handful of outlets like the New York Times at funding first-class journalism by selling subscriptions has so far proved to be the exception.

Tech remains a paradox—delivering more information to people, but in ways that tend to give them less faith in what they’re reading. Last year, TIME concluded there was “urgent work ahead in shaping a communications system guided not by software but by the judgment of citizens, and the social contract implied in the First Amendment: facts matter.” That work remains to be done.

This article is part of TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year package. Read more from the issue and sign up for the Inside TIME newsletter to be the first to see our cover every week.

These Heroes Went Above and Beyond in 2019

Posted: 12 Dec 2019 11:14 AM PST

From a 9-year-old boy who wanted no kid to go hungry to a high-school coach who reached out to an armed student, here are TIME’s heroes of 2019.

Defenders of Notre Dame

Laurent Prades, left, and Antoine-Marie Préaut on Nov. 29
William Daniels—Panos for TIMELaurent Prades, left, and Antoine-Marie Préaut on Nov. 29

As flames leaped from the roof of Notre Dame cathedral on April 15, those who knew its innermost secrets ventured into the pitch darkness of the smoke-filled nave. Their aim: to rescue some of the most valuable treasures in all of Christianity. “There was no electricity, there was a lot of water, there were alarms going off,” says Antoine-Marie Préaut, conservator of historic monuments in the Paris region, remembering the moment he entered the cathedral with Notre Dame’s operational director, Laurent Prades, and a group of firefighters. “The atmosphere was apocalyptic.”

Millions across the world watched aghast as fire shot from the medieval masterpiece in the heart of Paris. Less visible was how close Notre Dame came to total collapse, and how narrowly its treasures were saved.

About 400 firefighters battled the flames for more than nine hours—some climbing the staircase in its north tower, despite the danger of being trapped, to keep the cathedral’s set of 13-ton bells from falling and potentially bringing down the towers and the entire cathedral with them. The roof was already almost gone. “I found a situation that was completely catastrophic,” says Jérôme D., a firefighter who climbed to the top, and who cannot be named in full, per the rules of Paris’ fire brigade.

Préaut and Prades were so focused on rescuing the relics that they tuned out the chaos. Then they heard a giant noise as the spire crashed into the nave, collapsing the roof. Inside the cathedral, the fire now raged at ground level. “We felt utterly powerless,” Prades says. “But then everything happened very, very quickly. We lost all sense of time.”

Amid darkness and flames, the men fumbled to unlock a strongbox in a back chapel. Inside were Notre Dame’s most precious relics—including the Crown of Thorns that worshippers believe Christ wore to his Crucifixion, as well as pieces of wood and a nail believed to be from the True Cross. The two became part of a human chain, passing the priceless items to safety. “We told the firefighters, ‘Take everything you can carry,'” says Préaut, 38. “They were shouting at us, ‘Get out, get out!'”

Toward midnight, police finally escorted Préaut to city hall, where the relics were locked up for safekeeping. As their van crossed a bridge over the Seine, Préaut was stunned to see crowds jamming the entire area. “There were thousands and thousands of people just standing on the street silently, in shock,” he says. “I had the impression like it was the end of the world.”

Indeed, that night was the end of an era for a tight-knit group that had worked together for years at Notre Dame. As the months have gone by, the memory has weighed on Prades, 44, who has been at Notre Dame for more than 20 years. Préaut still has trouble sleeping. “There is a trauma from the event itself, from the hours that I spent in the cathedral,” Prades says. “There is also the trauma of knowing what might have happened.”

The two men are among a handful of people who have spent months working in trailers in the cathedral’s backyard, helping to prepare for the mammoth reconstruction ahead. The treasures and relics have been moved to a safe room within the Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame is wrapped in scaffolding and plastic. It will be shut perhaps until 2024, while its roof and spire are rebuilt. Until then, its ravaged state is a daily reminder of that terrifying night. “We would be happy to turn the page, to recover and go back to normal life,” Préaut says. When that time comes, the relics will go home, to their place of honor in a cathedral that, against the odds, still stands. —VW

A boy who helped change the law on school-lunch debt

Ryan Kyote used his saved allowance to pay off his grade's lunch-money debt
Courtesy Kylie KirkpatrickRyan Kyote used his saved allowance to pay off his grade’s lunch-money debt

Nine-year-old Ryan Kyote was eating breakfast at home in Napa, Calif., when he saw the news: an Indiana school had taken a 6-year-old’s meal when her lunch account didn’t have enough money. Kyote asked if that could happen to his friends. When his mom contacted the school district to find out, she learned that students at schools in their district had, all told, as much as $25,000 in lunch debt. Although the district says it never penalized students who owed, Kyote decided to use his saved allowance to pay off his grade’s debt, about $74—­becoming the face of a movement to end lunch-money debt. When California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill in October that banned “lunch shaming,” or giving worse food to students with debt, he thanked Kyote for his “empathy and his courage” in raising awareness of the issue. “Heroes,” Kyote points out, “come in all ages.” —M. Carlisle

A one-man crew amid the flood

Satchel Smith worked over 30 hours straight at Homewood Suites during Tropical Depression Imelda in Beaumont, Texas in Sept.
Courtesy Angela ChandlerSatchel Smith worked over 30 hours straight at Homewood Suites during Tropical Depression Imelda in Beaumont, Texas in Sept.

It was supposed to rain for only a few hours. When then 21-year-old Lamar University student Satchel Smith got to his job at Homewood Suites in Beaumont, Texas, on Sept. 18, he planned to leave promptly when his eight-hour shift was done; he had class in the morning. But the rain didn’t stop. By nightfall, Tropical Depression Imelda had flooded the highway. No one could reach—or leave—the hotel, and Smith was the only employee there to tend to the hotel’s roughly 90 guests.

According to the Texas Tribune, Imelda dropped up to 43 in. of rain in parts of southeast Texas and caused flooding that killed five people. But inside the hotel, Smith didn’t panic. He answered the phone as it rang all night. In the morning, people started looking for breakfast. Despite not knowing how to cook, Smith raided the kitchen and made sure everyone got a hot meal. The storm set off the fire alarm; he ushered tired guests out and back into the building.

Angela Chandler, an educator from Nacogdoches, Texas, was one of those guests. She had come to Beaumont for a business trip and was already nervous about being away from home. But as she watched Smith, she suddenly felt grateful. “Satchel was in and out of the kitchen, answering the phone, taking care of guests with a smile on his face,” she says. “And I looked at him and realized, ‘That baby is only a year older than my son.'” She was floored by his composure, and shared her observation on social media.

As the day ticked on, it became clear Smith would also have to cook dinner. By then the guests had started pitching in. Helping him cook and clean, they made chicken and pasta. A few people walked food and water out to truckers stranded on the highway. Someone brought out playing cards.

“We all came together. They made sure I was all right; I made sure that they were all right,” Smith recalls. Finally, another employee was able to get through the water in a monster truck to relieve him.

He had worked over 30 hours straight, and stayed awake the entire time.

Chandler’s post about Smith’s steadfastness quickly went viral. While he says it’s nice to be recognized, Smith adds, “I kind of feel like I was just doing my job.” —M. Carlisle

A bus driver who brought kids in from the cold

Nicole Chamberlain, a bus driver in Waukesha, Wis., brought two kids in as temperatures fell on Nov. 11
YoutubeNicole Chamberlain, a bus driver in Waukesha, Wis., brought two kids in as temperatures fell on Nov. 11

As temperatures fell below 20°F on Nov. 11, Nicole Chamberlain, a bus driver in Waukesha, Wis., peered through her windshield and saw two children wandering alone outside, headed toward a busy intersection. “They were upset, frazzled,” says Chamberlain, 44, who pulled her bus over and called out to them. When the ­children—a 2-year-old girl and her 6-year-old ­brother—came bounding over, Chamberlain realized neither was wearing a coat and the girl had on only a T-shirt and a diaper. “It was mind-­blowing,” says Chamberlain, who was captured on the bus’s surveillance cameras wrapping her coat around the toddler’s bare legs. Chamberlain stayed with the children until police arrived, along with the children’s grandmother, who was babysitting when they darted out of the house. “It’s nice to have a feel-good story to share,” says Chamberlain. After a fellow driver tipped off a local news station to the story, strangers from all over the country agreed. “You saw something amiss and chose to step up to prevent a potential tragedy,” one wrote on her Facebook page. “I hope your example inspires others.” —M. Chan

A coach who embraced an armed student

Parkrose High School football and track coach Keanon Lowe in Portland on June 25
Jordan Murph—Sports Illustrated/Getty ImagesParkrose High School football and track coach Keanon Lowe in Portland on June 25

When a distressed student appeared before him, armed with a shotgun, Keanon Lowe had no time to think. The football and track coach at Parkrose High School in Portland, Ore., lunged for the firearm, as students knocked over desks in panic. “It was a very surreal moment,” Lowe says, “all the kids screaming for their lives.” After a tug-of-war that seemed to last forever, Lowe, 27, wrestled the gun out of the student’s grasp. Then, in an unexpected move, he pulled the student in for a hug. “I didn’t see an evil kid,” Lowe says. “I saw a kid that was going through a lot.”

The student, identified by authorities as 19-year-old Angel Granados-Diaz, had been suicidal for several months, according to prosecutors, when he took the loaded and legally bought shotgun to school on May 17. Before Lowe intervened, the teen had already tried killing himself outside a bathroom, but the shotgun did not discharge. “What he needed was a shoulder to cry on and someone to hug him,” says Lowe, who has been coaching and serving as the school’s security guard for the past two years. “I don’t know the last time he got a hug.” While Granados-Diaz resisted the embrace at first and tried shoving Lowe away, the coach’s comforting words soon softened him. “I told him that I cared about him and that I was there for him and I was there to save him,” Lowe says. “He was surprised that I had said that. He said, ‘You do?’ and looked me right in my face. I said, ‘Yes, I do.’ He gave in to the hug, and that made a huge difference.”

Lowe and Granados-Diaz were strangers until then, but they held their embrace for at least 20 seconds, as Lowe passed the shotgun to another teacher. The moment, captured by a security camera, moved tens of thousands of people who saw it on social media. “No one would have batted an eye if he responded more aggressively,” says the school’s principal, Molly Ouche. “But he had compassion.”

For his bravery and kindness, Lowe was awarded a civilian medal of heroism from Portland’s police chief, and the city’s mayor declared May 29 to be “Coach Keanon Lowe Day of Recognition.” The accolades have been humbling and overwhelming, says Lowe, who played football at the University of Oregon. But he’s ready to move on, mostly so Granados-Diaz can do the same. On Oct. 10, Granados-Diaz pleaded guilty to having a loaded firearm in public and was sentenced to 36 months of formal probation, which includes mental-health treatment. According to prosecutors, his gun was loaded with only one round, meant for himself. It was evident that day that the student was “fighting demons,” Lowe says.

“This was just one moment in my life that’s not going to define me,” he adds. “And it’s not going to define Angel as well.” —M. Chan

A woman who kept dozens of dogs safe during Hurricane Dorian

Chella Phillips has run Pawtcake Refuge in Nassau since 2015
ZumaChella Phillips has run Pawtcake Refuge in Nassau since 2015

Chella Phillips has lived in the Bahamas since 2004, and she knows what a storm can do. When Hurricane Dorian barreled toward her home, she got to work. Phillips has run Nassau’s Pawtcake Refuge, which cares for homeless dogs, out of her home since 2015. She had 82 dogs there already but searched out more. By the time Dorian arrived, she was hunkering down in her three-­bedroom house with 97 dogs, and she dashed off a quick Facebook post about the mayhem. Then she lost power. It was only after Phillips emerged that she learned her post had gone viral. Nassau was largely spared, but the storm devastated the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama, killing scores of people and leaving many with a sense of hopelessness. Her story had become a bit of positive news to hang onto, drawing thousands of messages from around the world. “I [said], ‘Why are people so impressed about this?’” she says. “Anybody who cares about these animals would have done that.” Still, she’s grateful for the extra attention on the dogs: in the week after Dorian, Phillips sent 68 to homes or rescue groups in the U.S. —M. Carlisle

This article is part of TIME’s 2019 Person of the Year package. Read more from the issue and sign up for the Inside TIME newsletter to be the first to see our cover every week.

Military Plane That Vanished En Route to Antarctica Found, Chilean Officials Say

Posted: 12 Dec 2019 10:05 AM PST

(SANTIAGO, Chile) — Chilean officials said Thursday that searchers have located the military transport plane that disappeared en route to Antarctica.

Defense Minister Alberto Espina also said at a news conference that they have found human remains from some of the 38 passengers who were aboard when the plane took off from southernmost Chile.

Officials said they believe that all those aboard the plane are dead, adding that it was nearly impossible to expect any survivors to be found.

The C-130 Hercules departed Monday afternoon from a base in far-southern Chile on a regular maintenance flight for an Antarctic base. Radio contact was lost 70 minutes later.

After midnight, the Air Force declared the plane a loss, but it wasn’t until Wednesday that a plane scanning the seas first spotted floating debris believed to be from the plane.

“Remains of human beings that are most likely the passengers have been found among several pieces of the plane,” said Air Force Gen. Arturo Merino. “I feel immense pain for this loss of lives.”

Just three of the passengers were civilians, including Ignacio Parada, 24, who was in his last year of studies at the University of Magallanes and was headed to study drinking water systems at the military base.

Claudia Manzo, 37, was the only woman on board. She served in the Air Force service that deals with aerial photographs of the continent. She also served as one of Parada’s research advisers.

Another of those aboard, electrician Jacob Pizarro, 38, had lost his wife five months ago, leaving behind two children, ages 2 and 6, who are in the care of their grandmother.

The search included 23 airplanes and dozens of ships from Argentina, Brazil, United States, Great Britain and Uruguay as well as Chile.

Gen. Cristián Pizarro said that the first of the recovered human remains will arrive ashore Friday, when the identification process will begin.

The plane was flying over the Drake Passage, the sea between the southern tip of South America and Antarctica, which is infamous for rapidly changing and often severe weather.

How an Obscure Part of the Paris Climate Agreement Could Cut Twice as Many Carbon Emissions — Or Become a ‘Massive Loophole’ for Polluters 

Posted: 12 Dec 2019 09:43 AM PST

The science of climate change is, at its heart, fairly simple. When we emit greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, more heat gets trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere, raising global temperatures and destabilizing the climate.

The political path to stopping that from happening is infinitely more complex – a complexity embodied in one of the main topics of this year’s U.N. climate negotiations in Madrid: international carbon markets.

The idea is that, under Article 6 of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, if one country pays for carbon emissions to be reduced in a second country, the first country can count those reductions towards its own national targets. If done right, analysts at the Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) say this international emissions trading could almost double global emissions reductions between 2020 and 2035. It could also cut the financial cost of meeting current Paris Agreement emissions pledges, which aim to keep global average temperature rise well below 2 degrees over pre-industrial era, by 59% to 79%.

But Article 6 is controversial, which may be why it is the last section of the Paris Agreement still under negotiation. If the rules governing the emissions trading market are lax, it could become a “massive loophole” for emitters, allowing them to continue polluting at home without taking serious action, says Gilles Dufrasne, policy officer at Carbon Markets Watch, an international NGO. That would severely undermine efforts to prevent catastrophic climate change that would result from missing the Paris targets.

As countries try to hammer out the rules for Article 6, countries are clashing over how strict to make them. Negotiators from the E.U. and many developing nations have accused some countries, including Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Australia and India, of pushing for a system with lax rules for counting emissions reductions and credits, which would make it easier to meet Paris targets, but could undermine global progress on cutting levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Protesters have disrupted the conference to highlight the risks of a market system, which they say distracts from the need for all greenhouse gas emissions to stop, in every country, as soon as possible

“What’s at stake is whether we’re going to manage to limit the climate crisis and reduce emissions or just pretend we’re doing something on paper,” Dufrasne says.

What is a carbon market?

Carbon markets already exist within some countries and regions. In some, like the “cap-and-trade” systems used by the E.U. and California, the government puts a cap on the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted by a given industry or sector of the economy. Businesses are then given an allowance of how many metric tons of CO2 they can emit. Those who emit less than their allotment can sell the extra to other businesses, pushing everyone to cut down emissions faster.

The main international carbon market scheme existing today was set up under the U.N.’s 1997 Kyoto protocol on climate change. Under that agreement, developed countries had targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, but developing countries did not. So if a developing country reduced its emissions by building a solar panel plant or planting trees for example, they could sell a “credit” to a developed country, which could count that emission reduction in its own target.

But that market has effectively collapsed due to concerns over environmental efficacy and corruption. The U.S. left the Kyoto protocol in 2001, and the E.U. stopped allowing member states to buy the credits in 2012, fearing projects were not as successful in reducing emissions as they claimed to be, leaving few potential buyers. In Ukraine and Russia, which continued to use the credits, researchers found companies had abused the system to enrich themselves at the expense of the climate. A 2015 report found that an estimated 80% of projects under the Kyoto carbon trading scheme were of low environmental quality and that the system had actually increased emissions by roughly 600 million metric tons.

The Madrid negotiations on Article 6 would create a new system to replace the Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2020.

Why could Article 6 and carbon markets help cut emissions faster?

Under the market mechanisms of Article 6, countries that exceed their emissions reduction targets would be able to sell their excess reductions as credits to other countries who have failed to meet their targets. In theory, this would create a clear financial incentive for countries to cut their emissions faster, and help funnel investment to the cheapest and fastest projects for cutting emissions.

Carbon markets are also a key tool for states to get businesses to help mitigate climate change, as businesses that run climate mitigation projects, such as building wind farms or replanting forests, will be able to sell the emissions reductions to countries.

“By providing flexibility and improving the cost effectiveness of climate action, you can do more, for less,” says Alex Hanafi, EDF’s director of multilateral climate strategy. “And because you can do more with less, you can go faster and further than you otherwise would without cooperation.”

Schemes to stop deforestation or prevent degradation of land are examples where an effective emissions trading market could lead to greater investment, and in turn lead to affordable greenhouse gas reduction. Take the burning of the Amazon rainforest that has resulted from president Jair Bolsonaro’s agricultural policies: “Carbon markets could make those trees worth more alive than they are dead,” Hanafi says.

If the market system were active across the entire world, and if cost savings generated by carbon markets were re-invested in climate mitigation — a big “if” given the slow international progress on climate action — EDF analysts say emissions reductions over the next 15 years would go up “from 77 [billion tons of CO2] in the non-trading base case to 147 [billion tons of CO2] in a scenario with full global emissions trading, a 91% increase.”

Why could carbon markets hurt efforts to cut emissions?

Many climate campaigners say Article 6 negotiations could undermine the entire aim of the Paris Agreement.

First, environmentalists fear the risk of so-called “double-counting” of emissions reductions if the rules of Article 6 aren’t written clearly. Under the Paris Agreement, all countries, not just developed ones, have emissions-reduction targets. That means if India, for example, reduced its carbon emissions by 1 metric ton through a solar-power scheme, it might be tempted to both sell a reduction credit to Australia, and count the reduction in its own target. Carbon Markets Watch argues that this would amount to “cheating” the atmosphere because half as much CO2 would be reduced than countries claim.

Second, some countries want to be able to carry over old credits that were created under the Kyoto protocol to the new Paris regime. After demand for the Kyoto credits collapsed, billions of potential credits went unsold, while the emissions reductions projects that generated them continued — though often without strong checks on their effectiveness. Countries that host those projects want to be able to use or sell those credits under the new system. Australia, which has generated carbon credits by beating the relatively low emissions target it set under the Kyoto protocol, has said it plans to use those old credits to meet its new emissions targets — provoking vocal opposition from roughly 100 countries this week.

But, argue some climate campaigners, if the up to 5.4 billion credits that the U.N. estimates exist are allowed into the new system, they will water down ambition because global emissions reduction targets could effectively be cut by an amount more than the total amount of CO2 emitted by the entire E.U. in 2017.

Even if these problems are resolved by clear rules, many say that in the long term the credits bought in carbon markets are just a distraction from the fundamental need for all countries to transition off fossil fuels. “In a world where we all go to net zero, there isn’t extra mitigation anywhere that you can buy or sell,” says Dufrasne. “The whole logic of offsetting your emissions abroad doesn’t have a future. It’s not compatible with the Paris agreement.”

What is at stake in the Article 6 negotiations at the U.N. summit?

If an agreement is reached at the U.N. summit, what will matter is how robust the rules it establishes are. However, as negotiations near their planned Dec. 13 end date, an agreement is far from certain.

Negotiators have accused Brazil, Australia and Saudi Arabia of blocking an agreement that would set strong rules. “They are clearly not fighting for environmental integrity in the rules,” Bas Eickhout, leader of the European Parliament’s conference delegation told news site Euractiv.

While no country openly admits to wanting “weak” rules, “when you look at the specifics of Brazil’s proposal, most countries feel that it does not reflect robust accounting as required under the Paris agreement,” Hanafi says.

The stand-off over the robustness of the rules may scuttle the chance of any agreement. Dufrasne says countries that are keen on climate action will refuse to make a deal that has weak rules, potentially leaving the issue for a later summit, because “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

“The difference between a Paris agreement with good markets and Paris agreement with bad markets,” he says, “is a system where we avoid climate catastrophe and a system where we are just hiding behind technical details and not reducing a single tonne of CO2.”