Daily Archives: November 30, 2023


COP28 Begins With Breakthrough Climate Fund Agreement

Nearly all the countries attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP28, agreed Thursday to create a fund that would help poor nations deal with the effects of climate change. The floor was opened for pledges to be made to the new “loss and damage” fund, in which Germany committed to contribute $100 million. The United Arab Emirates, the host of COP28, also promised $100 million. The fund received additional pledges of $51 million from Britain, $17.5 million from the United States and $10 million from Japan. The European …


Shane MacGowan, Lead Singer of The Pogues, Dies at 65

Shane MacGowan, the boozy, rabble-rousing singer and chief songwriter of The Pogues, who infused traditional Irish music with the energy and spirit of punk, died Thursday, his family said. He was 65. MacGowan’s songwriting and persona made him an iconic figure in contemporary Irish culture, and some of his compositions have become classics — most notably the bittersweet Christmas ballad “Fairytale of New York,” which Irish President Michael D. Higgins said “will be listened to every Christmas for the next century or more.” “It is with the deepest sorrow and …


Iranian Rapper Toomaj Salehi Arrested Again

Iranian rapper Toomaj Salehi, who had been previously detained for showing support to anti-government protests and was released on bail earlier this month, was arrested again, Iran’s state media reported on Thursday. “Salehi has been arrested for publishing false information and disturbing public opinion, after being released upon an order by Iran’s supreme court to revise his case,” the judiciary news agency said. Following the death in custody of 22-year-old Iranian-Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in September 2022, Iran has seen months of nationwide protests that represented one of the fiercest …


UN Weather Agency: 2023 Is Hottest Year on Record, More Climate Extremes Ahead

The U.N. weather agency said Thursday that 2023 is all but certain to be the hottest year on record, and warning of worrying trends that suggest increasing floods, wildfires, glacier melt, and heat waves in the future. The World Meteorological Organization also warned that the average temperature for the year is up some 1.4 degrees Celsius (2.5 degrees Fahrenheit) from pre-industrial times – a mere one-tenth of a degree under a target limit for the end of the century as laid out by the Paris climate accord in 2015. The …


South African Company to Start Making Vaginal Rings That Protect Against HIV

A South African company will make vaginal rings that protect against HIV, which AIDS experts say should eventually make them cheaper and more readily available. The Population Council announced Thursday that Kiara Health of Johannesburg will start making the silicone rings in the next few years, estimating that 1 million could be produced annually. The devices release a drug that helps prevent HIV infections and are authorized by nearly a dozen countries and the World Health Organization. The nonprofit council owns the rights to the rings, which are now made …


Vietnam’s Rare Earth Sector on the Rise

Vietnam, with the world’s second-largest reserves of the rare earths used in such modern devices as electric vehicle batteries and smart phone screens, is intensifying mining of the critical minerals. The industry, though, faces high processing costs, environmental concerns, and the takedown of industry leaders for illegal mining and mineral sales. Vietnam’s rare earth resources are second only to those of China, which has held a tight monopoly since the 1980s. With Chinese relations with the West becoming more volatile, many countries are looking for other sources for the elements. …


Vice President Harris to Lead US Delegation to Major Climate Summit

Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the U.S. delegation to the world’s premier climate summit, the White House said Wednesday. The White House stressed that President Joe Biden considers the climate crisis among his top four priorities, but the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas has consumed much of his time and attention. “Throughout her engagements, the vice president will underscore the Biden-Harris administration’s success in delivering on the most ambitious climate agenda in history, both at home and abroad,” said Kirsten Allen, the vice president’s press secretary. Harris will …


White House Hopes to Lead Global Charge in ‘Promise, Peril’ of Emerging Tech Like AI

American leadership is essential in establishing norms and laws to “determine how we both glean the promise and manage the peril” of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and digital economic and social platforms used to connect billions of people around the world, a White House adviser told VOA. The Biden administration has rolled out a number of initiatives on the topic — most recently, an executive order that aims to set new AI safety and security standards. That order relies on cooperation from private developers and other countries, “because the …


US Life Expectancy Climbs, but Remains Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

Life expectancy in the United States is on the rise but remains lower than it was in the years before the COVID-19 pandemic, as a host of other factors contributing to mortality, including chronic disease, gun violence and a persistent epidemic of overdose deaths, continue to plague the country. According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, an American born in 2022 could expect to live 77.5 years on average, up 1.1 years from 2021, with most of the improvement accounted for by the …