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Malaysia open to Davos talks with India amid palm oil spat



Malaysia’s trade minister is open to meeting his Indian counterpart at the World Economic Forum gathering this week, his ministry said on Monday, after New Delhi said no such encounter was possible amid a spat over palm oil supplies, Trend reports citing Reuters.

It was the second time in the last four days Malaysia expressed the possibility of such a meeting in Davos, during a standoff between a major supplier and buyer of palm oil caused by Malaysia’s criticism of Indian policies.

Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) reiterated that India’s trade ministry first sent a request on Dec. 24 – before India placed curbs on imports of refined palm oil – for a bilateral meeting between the two ministers in Davos.

“In the spirit of economic partnership between our two nations, Malaysia has made every effort to accommodate the official request by India, but due to the busy schedule of both ministers, a mutually agreeable time has not been reached at the time of this statement,” MITI said.

“In the absence of a formal meeting, it is common for interested parties to meet informally and exchange views on the sidelines.”

It said MITI minister Darell Leiking “has expressed his openness to such discussion” with his Indian counterpart Piyush Goyal, mainly regarding India’s participation in the trade bloc Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

An Indian trade ministry official, speaking on behalf of the ministry, told Reuters on Sunday that Goyal would not meet Leiking in Davos because of his tight schedule. No other meeting was scheduled between them, he said.

Hindu-majority India has been agitated by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last month speaking out against a new citizenship law which critics say discriminate against Muslims. Mahathir had angered New Delhi last year too when he accused India of invading and occupying Kashmir, a Muslim-majority disputed region also claimed by Pakistan.

Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation, is the second biggest producer and exporter of palm oil and India’s restrictions on the refined variety of the commodity imposed on Jan. 8 have been seen as a retaliation for Mahathir’s words.

Mahathir, the world’s oldest premier at 94, told a small group of reporters including from Reuters on Monday that India’s new citizenship law was “grossly unfair”.

But he said his nation of 32 million people was too small to take retaliatory action against India following its palm curbs.

Since the restrictions, thousands of tonnes of refined palm oil have been delayed or got stuck at various Indian ports, multiple sources told Reuters.

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Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos in talks over FC Nurnberg loan switch



Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos is in talks with FC Nurnberg over a loan move.

The 22-year-old has struggled with injury during the current campaign, making just one appearance for the Gunners.

That came against Standard Liege in the Europa League back in December and he is now set to leave on loan.

Standard Sport understands Arsenal are in talks with Nurnberg over a deal for the youngster that would run until the end of the season.


The 2. Bundesliga side are in the market for a centre-back and have identified Mavropanos as a viable target.

Nurnberg are now in talks with the defender and a deal could be completed by next week if negotiations progress well.

Arsenal are themselves looking to add to their backline in January and have been linked with Bayern Munich centre-back Jerome Boateng.

Dayot Upamecano of RB Leipzig is another target, but he may not be available until the summer window.



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COP25: Longest climate talks end with compromise deal


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Kiara Worth/IISD

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Some of the difficult issues proved impossible to resolve in Madrid

The longest United Nations climate talks on record have finally ended in Madrid with a compromise deal.

Exhausted delegates reached agreement on the key question of increasing the global response to curbing carbon.

All countries will need to put new climate pledges on the table by the time of the next major conference in Glasgow next year.

Divisions over other questions – including carbon markets – were delayed until the next gathering.

What was agreed?

After two extra days and nights of negotiations, delegates finally agreed a deal that will see new, improved carbon cutting plans on the table by the time of the Glasgow conference next year.

All parties will need to address the gap between what the science says is necessary to avoid dangerous climate change, and the current state of play which would see the world go past this threshold in the 2030s.

Supported by the European Union and small island states, the push for higher ambition was opposed by a range of countries including the US, Brazil, India and China.

However a compromise was agreed with the richer nations having to show that they have kept their promises on climate change in the years before 2020.

Huge pressure on UK

Next year’s big climate conference will be held in Glasgow, Scotland – and that heaps enormous pressure on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

He’s already been warned by environmentalists that he will be “humiliated” if he tries to lead other nations whilst the UK is still failing to meet its own medium-term climate targets.

The UK’s climate advisers warn that tens of millions of homes must be insulated.

Other experts say Mr Johnson’s £28.8m road-building plans are not compatible with eliminating CO2 emissions.

They say even fully electric cars won’t solve the problem completely – and urge the government to help people walk and cycle to benefit their health and the environment.

They also say expanding aviation will increase emissions.

Mr Johnson’s Brexit decisions will play a part too. The US won’t discuss climate change in any trade deal. Meanwhile the EU is putting a border tax on countries that don’t cut greenhouse gases. It will be impossible to please both.

What is the reaction?

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was disappointed by the result.

“The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis,” he said, quoted by AFP.

‘Another year of failure’

Meanwhile, Laurence Tubiana from the European Climate Foundation, and an architect of the Paris agreement, described the result as “really a mixed bag, and a far cry from what science tells us is needed.”

“Major players who needed to deliver in Madrid did not live up to expectations, but thanks to a progressive alliance of small island states, European, African and Latin American countries, we obtained the best possible outcome, against the will of big polluters.”

Decisions on other issues including the thorny question of carbon markets have been delayed until Glasgow.

Animated chart showing that most of the coldest 10 years compared to the 20th century average were in the early 1900s, while the warmest years have all been since 2000, with 2018 on course to be the fourth warmest year on record

This aspect of the deal was welcomed by campaigners.

“Thankfully the weak rules on a market based mechanism, promoted by Brazil and Australia, that would have undermined efforts to reduce emissions has been shelved and the fight on that can continue next year at COP26 in Glasgow,” said Mohamed Adow, with the group Power Shift Africa.

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Media captionClimate change: How 1.5C could change the world

Many of those in attendance were unhappy with the overall package, feeling it did not reflect the urgency of the science.

Spain’s acting Minister for the Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera said the mandate was clear.

“Countries have to present more ambitious NDCs [nationally determined contributions] in 2020 than what we have today because it is important to address science and the demands of people, as well as commit ourselves to do more and faster.”

However, negotiators will be satisfied to have kept the process alive after these difficult and complex talks in Madrid.

What is the evidence for global warming?

The world is now nearly one degree Celsius warmer than it was before widespread industrialisation, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The 20 warmest years on record have all occurred in the past 22 years, with the years from 2015-2018 making up the top four.

The WMO says that if the current warming trend continues, temperatures could rise by 3-5C by the end of this century.

A threshold of 2C had long been regarded as the gateway to dangerous warming. More recently, scientists and policy makers have argued that keeping temperature rise to within 1.5C is a safer limit for the world.

But an IPCC report in 2018 suggested that keeping to the 1.5C target would require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”.

How will climate change affect us?

There are varying degrees of uncertainty about the scale of potential impacts.

But the changes could drive freshwater shortages, bring sweeping changes to our ability to produce food, and increase the number of deaths from floods, storms, heat waves and droughts.

Even if we cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically now, scientists say the effects will continue because parts of the climate system, particularly large bodies of water and ice, can take hundreds of years to respond to changes in temperature.

It also takes greenhouse gases decades to be removed from the atmosphere.

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Ed Harris as Atticus Finch: Actor talks making “To Kill a Mockingbird” role his own, working with new cast


Four-time Oscar nominee Ed Harris is taking on the cherished and challenging role of Atticus Finch in the Broadway adaptation of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The actor, known from “Apollo 13” and HBO’s “Westworld,” spoke with CBS News contributor Jamie Wax at the Schubert Theater about making the role his own.

When Harries got a phone message from producer Scott Rudin asking if he wanted to play Atticus, his heart started going “boom, boom, boom,” he said.  

“You read the play and (Aaron) Sorkin’s take on it, and it’s so different in the terms of who this man is and what he’s dealing with and how he is trying to maintain his sense of goodness and tolerance … in this world of hate and prejudice,” Harris said.

“It’s a little more flawed and tortured than we’re used to with Atticus,” Wax said.

“Definitely,” Harris said. “Which I was glad of because you don’t feel obligated to play this kind of perfect man.”

The story “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one many know well: Finch, a small-town lawyer, puts his family and reputation on the line to defend a black man in 1930s Alabama. The character has long been recognized for his strong morals and courage.

The role as adapted by Sorkin was formerly played by actor Jeff Daniels, earning him a Tony nomination. Harris chose not to see the production before stepping into the part.

“I didn’t want to be influenced by it,” he said. “It’s such an individual kind of experience to portray any given character.”

Director Bartlett Sher has full confidence in Harris. “Ed will be able to take a completely different take on it. … It’s just as rich, just as moving,” he said the night of Daniels’ final curtain call.

Beyond Daniels, there’s another Atticus performance that looms large for Harris: Gregory Peck in the 1962 film.

“It was in my head for a little while, but it really has disappeared,” Harris said. “When I read the script, I said, my main job is to be as much myself as Atticus as I can be.” 

He isn’t alone stepping into big shoes as this production approaches its second year. He’s part of a slew of new cast members joining the show this month, including the actors playing Tom Robinson, Jem and Scout Finch, and Dill Harris.

“We understand the responsibility of coming into the building and the responsibility of the show that we’ve been handed,” said Kyle Scatliffe, who plays Tom Robinson.

That responsibility has been made easier with Harris’ leadership. “Ed has been phenomenal just to watch and to be a collaborator with,” said Nick Robinson, who plays Jem Finch. He said it’s been “a treat” to see the way Harris works. 

“He’s such a generous scene partner and just so giving and really hard on himself, too,” said Nina Grollman, who plays Scout Finch.

The admiration is mutual. “I really love them,” Harris said. “They’re really great. I love working with them.”

With over 40 years of experience both on the stage and in front of the camera, the actor knows those are the qualities needed when stepping into the theater.

“It’s all about your relationships with people at this very moment, right on stage, at this time,” he said. “If I’m not breathing and if I’m not inhabiting this space right now at this very moment, then I’m full of sh– and I don’t want to do that.”

For Harris, the hope is that inhabiting this character for a new generation shines a light on the themes of Harper Lee’s story that goes beyond those who are already familiar with it.

“If it can help open anybody up to the world and to life and to being more generous and more open and more loving, then we’ve achieved something,” he said. 



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