Afghans have “lost everything” in devastating floods

Villagers from western Afghanistan were trying Sunday to evacuate the muddy waters that invaded their homes after the worst floods of the decade, some less fortunate lamented having “lost everything”.

The torrential rains that have fallen for two days since Friday morning have ravaged five provinces in the north and west of the country, killing at least 35 people.

In addition to destroying thousands of homes, these flash floods devastated camps for displaced families who had to flee last summer due to drought.

In particular, they had found refuge by tens of thousands in the Herat region.

In this province of western Afghanistan at least ten districts and the provincial capital of the same name were heavily impacted by these rains resulting in flash floods.

Photo taken on March 29, 2019 showing villagers walking on a mud-covered street after floods in Herat Province, Afghanistan (AFP - HOSHANG HASHIMI)

Photo taken on March 29, 2019 showing villagers walking on a mud-covered street after floods in Herat Province, Afghanistan (AFP – HOSHANG HASHIMI)

Cars buried in the mud, collapsed walls, earthen houses strewn with debris, trees on the ground … it was in this spectacle of desolation that many villagers were busy in a mud heap trying to save what could still 'be.

Bibi Gul stands in front of his ruined house in Herat. “We lost everything and we have nothing left to survive,” she says. “Our cows, our sheep and even our pigeons” were washed away, says another inhabitant, Fazel Ahmad.

According to Hashmat Bahaduri, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority in Afghanistan, more than 3,000 houses have been partially or completely destroyed in the five provinces affected by these flash floods.

The heavy snowfall over large areas of Afghanistan this winter caused serious flooding as spring approached after several years of severe drought.

By early March, at least 20 people had already died as a result of floods that washed away many homes in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

Arab summit in Tunis: Saudi King rejects Trump's Golan decision

The Saudi King Salman has rejected the US recognition of the Golan Heights as the territory of Israel.

His country resolutely rejects all measures that could affect Syria's sovereignty, the Monarch said on Sunday at the start of the Arab League summit in Tunis. According to media reports, the League also wanted to criticize the Golan decision of US President Donald Trump in their summit statement.

Saudi Arabia is one of the USA's most important ally in the Arab world. Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner maintain close relations with the royal family in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry and other US allies on the Gulf had previously rejected the Golan decision of the US president. Trump had signed a proclamation on Monday, with which the US recognizes the Israeli-annexed Syrian Golan Heights as Israel's national territory.

'The government must interfere much more actively with missing minor asylum seekers'

Sixty Vietnamese asylum seekers have disappeared under dubious circumstances. They fall under the responsibility of the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA) and the Dutch state has custody. Still, nothing seems to happen to the disappearance of underage Vietnamese from protected centers for asylum seekers.

“There are enough indications that those children are susceptible to exploitation situations,” says Herman Bolhaar, National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings. He wants an in-depth investigation into the disappearances. The problem was spotted for the first time last year, but research into what exactly happens to them, where they stay and who is behind the disappearances does not end up.

“No offenses”

In a response, State Secretary Harbers refers to the answers he gave to parliamentary questions on this subject in December. He then said that there is currently no information known to implementing organizations on a smuggling network involved in the disappearance of minor Vietnamese migrants. According to him, previous investigations into this have not revealed any criminal offenses.

According to Bolhaar, State Secretary Harbers of Foreign Affairs must interfere much more actively with it. “Matters that concern children in such vulnerable situations, that requires an active protection role from the government. That means that as a government you go for it.”

“I think the government should be much more involved than it is now. I expect this to be a top priority, in terms of protecting the weakest ones. And not just protecting victims, but behind the perpetrators go on. “

Sydney in the dark to launch the global operation “Earth Hour”

The Sydney Opera House and the Harbor Bridge were plunged into darkness for an hour on Saturday for the launch of “Earth Hour”, a global ritual of light extinction intended to mobilize against climate change and safeguarding nature.

Shanghai Tower, Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong, Burj Khalifa Tower in Dubai, Red Square, Acropolis, Eiffel Tower, Egyptian Pyramids, St. Peter's Basilica, Big Ben, Christ of Rio, UN Headquarters in New York … d Countless sites, monuments and buildings in 180 countries are going after each other to extinguish their fires between 20:30 and 21:30 local, over time zones.

Organized by the WWF, this citizen mobilization, which also proposes to everyone to do the same thing, celebrates its 13th edition.

“We are the first generation to know that we are destroying the world, and we could be the last to be able to do something about it,” says the NGO. “We have the solutions, we just need to make our voices heard.”

Dermot O'Gorman, director of WWF in Australia, told AFP that the operation was “for hundreds of millions of people around the world to show that not only do we need urgent action on change. but also that we must protect our planet “.

Dozens of companies around the world have announced that they will join the movement.

In 2007, Sydney launched this unprecedented operation aimed at challenging the public authorities. Since then, the movement has taken place worldwide, while global warming is accentuated by greenhouse gases at record levels of emissions and concentration.

Last year, nearly 7,000 cities in 187 countries had extinguished their iconic buildings, from Singapore to Honolulu, via Sydney, Moscow, or Washington, according to organizers.

Several major events are coming up in 2020, including the UN Conference on Biodiversity in China and the Congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in France.

According to the latest “Living Planet” report, published by the WWF in 2018, from 1970 to 2014, vertebrate populations – fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles – have fallen by 60% globally. An 89% decline in the tropics, South and Central America.

burs / amu / qan / alm / sg

Clooney calls for boycott of Hotel Meurice and Plaza At

US actor George Clooney has called for a boycott of several luxury hotels and luxury hotels owned by Brunei, including the Beverly Hills Hotel, and in Paris, Plaza Athenee and Meurice, to protest the sultanate's decision to impose the sentence. from death to homosexuals.

From April 3, under a new penal code based on sharia law, Islamic law, sodomy, adultery and rape will be punishable by death by stoning or lashing in former British protectorate.

In a forum published Thursday on the site Deadline.com, the actor lists the nine palaces property of the Brunei Investment Company in the United States and Europe.

“Whenever we go down to one of these nine hotels, attend meetings or eat there, we pour money straight into the pockets of men who have chosen to stomp or whip at death of their own citizens because they are gay or accused of adultery, “he writes.

No reaction could be obtained from the Brunei Investment Company and the Government of Brunei, solicited Friday by e-mail.

The actor recognizes that a boycott will probably have little effect. But, he says, “I've learned over the years how to cope with deadly regimes that you can not shame them, but you can shame banks, financiers, and institutions. who do business with them and choose to look elsewhere. “

(Source: AFP)

Is the artificial uterus the rescue for extremely premature babies?

A heated plastic bag with amniotic fluid must be the solution for a major problem: the very high death rate among babies who are born far too early.

In that artificial womb, premature babies can continue to grow until they are fully grown. It is already possible in a few years, researchers think.

Lifelong lung problems

In the Netherlands, 12,000 children are born prematurely each year. Babies born in week 24 have a survival rate of only 50 percent. The children who make it often have brain damage and lifelong lung problems. “These babies are now being cared for in an incubator, where they are given oxygen through the air,” says Guid Oei, gynecologist at the Máxima Medical Center. “The lungs then have to get the oxygen from the air. The lungs are not capable of that at all. Even worse: the air actually destroys the lungs.”

The artificial uterus must be the solution for this. “The artificial uterus mimics the natural environment with amniotic fluid,” explains Oei. “The children remain surrounded by water, they receive food and oxygen through the umbilical cord.” And where the amniotic fluid comes from? “We can copy that.”

Climate change: Alaska to heat records

The inhabitants of Alaska, the northernmost state in the United States, have been facing exceptionally mild weather for several weeks, with temperature records exceeding the seasonal norms by more than 15 ° C.

“Both the months of February and March have been exceptionally mild, and many places are set to break the heat record for March,” said AFP Rick Thoman, an expert at the Center for Evaluation and Policy. Alaska climate.

Cities like Wainwright, Nuiqsut, Kaktovi and Barrow, located in the north of the American state, on its arctic facade, could experience this weekend higher temperatures of 14 to 22 ° C with seasonal norms. “In Barrow this month, we recorded five different days of temperature records,” says the researcher. On Thursday, March 28, the new record was -1.1 ° C, for a normal -19.4 ° C, he says.

For Rick Thoman, “now we have a month of April or May as early as March”.

In the Arctic, global warming is twice as fast as the global average, due in part to the decline in sea ice and rising temperatures in the Arctic Ocean.

Alaska is not immune to this phenomenon, which has a significant impact on people, wildlife and the economy, according to Thoman.

Many sled dog competitions have been canceled this year and the famous Iditarod race had to change its course, the usual ice having given way to the sea on a portion of the trip.

Some fishermen also had to give up the crab fishery because the ice was absent or too thin. It may also disrupt seal reproduction, which females need this strong support to give birth to.

This warming also has a significant impact on travel as two thirds of Alaskan communities are not served by roads, says Amy Holman, regional coordinator of the US Atmospheric Agency (NOAA).

“In the winter, the frozen streams are turning into major transport links to link the villages together, like the Kuskokwim River,” she says. But “milder temperatures have melted the ice of rivers so much that it has become dangerous to drive in trucks or cars.”

In 2017-2018, there has never been so little winter ice in the Bering Sea between Russia and Alaska since records began in 1850.

“My biggest fear is the speed of this change: Alaskans are resilient, our native culture has been here for 10,000 years, but never has change been so fast,” worries Rick Thoman.

Donald Trump threatens identification of his foul tweets through Twitter

Twitter is considering the introduction of a new feature to mark postings that violate its own rules but should remain on the platform for public interest. Vijaya Gadde, head of the Legal Department of the Short Message Service, made this known during an interview with The Washington Post, as US CNN reports. The company could then start offending offensive tweets of public figures such as US President Donald Trump with a clue that explains why they are not being deleted. According to Twitter's guidelines, postings by politicians have a message value that makes them important to public debate.

Twitter boss does not name Donald Trump by name

Twitter has long been under pressure from critics who complain that Trump's messages often violate the rules of the service against mobbing, threats and dehumanization with impunity. The US President has repeatedly insulted, abused and at least indirectly threatened people and institutions on Twitter. So he called a former colleague a “dog,” journalists referred to as “scum,” which was “supposed to be weeded out,” and published a rigged wrestling video that showed him beating a man with the US news station's logo on his head ,

“One of the things we really work closely with our people in the product and engineering departments is, 'How do we label that?'”, Gadde said, according to the US news site “The Hill.” Trump could write on Twitter what he wanted. “How can we provide this with a context so that people know that this content actually violates our rules and that it remains on the platform for a specific purpose?”

The clause about the news value of their tweets does not give public figures a complete immunity on Twitter, Gadde said, without naming Donald Trump. For some comments, the tolerance limit is exceeded. “An example would be a direct violent threat to a person, which we would not leave on the platform because of the danger she poses to that person.”

Donald Trump again denies climate change on Twitter

Sources: CNN, “The Hill”, “Washington Post”

Staff shortage in healthcare is due to own mismanagement

Reverse situation

Many carers lost their jobs due to heavy cuts in elderly care during the crisis years. In the meantime, the situation in care for the elderly has turned 180 degrees. After investing up to structurally 2.1 billion in nursing home care, money is no longer an issue. There is now a completely different problem: staff cannot be found.

Of all institutions in the care of the elderly, home care and district nursing, no fewer than three quarters are struggling with vacancies that are difficult to fill, the UWV reports. There is fighting over the latest available nurses and caregivers. It was already clear for a long time that aging would require more care and the aging population must still reach its peak.

Pesticides in the water: UFC What to choose wants to make farmers pay

Pesticides remain massive in French rivers despite recent progress in the most at-risk catchment areas, says UFC-Que Choisir report, which wants farmers to pay for cleanup potable water.

“More than two million consumers receive water that, despite treatments, is polluted with pesticides or nitrates,” the report says, noting that 95.6% of French consumers receive “high quality tap water” and consistent with all health parameters “.

Pesticides, detected in 5% of the distribution networks (2.271 municipalities concerned) are the first cause of nonconformity of the water distributed: the most affected areas are the regions of intensive agriculture south of Paris, the north and a part of the southwest.

Next come nitrates, present in 0.8% of the networks (370 communes), especially in the west, and affecting the water distributed to more than 200,000 consumers.

In third place are the bacterial contaminations found in 0.7% of drinking water networks, ie 253 municipalities (215,000 people).

In fourth place, there is a pollution of natural origin, arsenic, especially in central France, which affects 0.4% of networks (154 municipalities, 38,000 consumers).

While ammonia and phosphate pollution has dropped in almost 20 years, the association regrets that the decline in pesticides and nitrates is much more moderate.

– “Very significant decrease” of pollution –

The UFC deplores the fact that no national assessment measuring the impact of the two water laws of 1992 and 2006 on the protection of catchments of water sources against agricultural pollution has been established.

His own study, conducted on 81 so-called priority catchments – where farmers are under pressure to pollute less, shows a “very significant” decrease in pollution “for nearly two-thirds of the catchments studied,” said Olivier Andrault, head of the association.

“For nitrates, on 71 catchments, there are drops in two out of three cases, it is very encouraging,” he said.

The study did not focus on the herbicide decryed glyphosate. For pesticides in general, the evolution is “very positive too”.

The main agricultural union FNSEA welcomed this progress by calling for “continuing work to accentuate it”, while stressing that the change in farming techniques had a strong economic impact on the operating costs of farms.

UFC Que Choisir regretted for its part that the few measures taken are mainly based on “the voluntary work of farmers”, prefects or chambers of agriculture “did not want to impose on the agricultural profession provisions, which, in limiting fertilizer and plant protection products could limit agricultural yields.

“Pollution of raw water in France is largely due to intensive agricultural practices, no one can challenge it” added Robert Mondot, UFC Choose. “We are facing a situation where a large part of our bodies of water are polluted by pesticides or nitrates, and on the other, those who have created this situation do not assume it financially,” he said. .

– Implementation of the “polluter pays” –

In addition to the development of cleaner organic farming, UFC-Que Choisir also calls for the “strict implementation of the polluter-pays principle”.

Citing the Office of the Commissioner-General for Sustainable Development, the UFC claims that agricultural pollution generates additional annual expenditure on consumers' water bills of between € 750 million and € 1.3 billion a year: a treatment policy Pollution “costly, unfair and imperfect in health”.

Before the second part of the Assises de l'eau, which starts on April 10, UFC Que Choisir emphasizes that it is cheaper to prevent pollution upstream by helping farmers financially than to clean up downstream.

“The challenge is to preserve quality water, but it is a bit easy to fall on the farmers when we have abandoned all the water catchments in urban areas too polluted” reacted Christian Durlin, FNSEA .

“The quality of water is a global issue, we want to take responsibility for some of the evolution of more virtuous farming practices, because the state does not provide enough support, but it is Too easy to tell us to do it alone, “he said.