China asks United States to close its Consulate in Chengdu

Agencies
July 24, 2020

Chengdu, Jul 24: China on Friday asked the US to close down its Consulate in Chengdu in retaliation to Washington's decision to shut the Chinese Consulate in Houston.

A statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry said China has informed the US Embassy of its decision to withdraw its consent for the establishment and operation of the US Consulate General in Chengdu.

This was in response to "unilateral" decision by the US to shut the Houston Consulate. China's decision is legitimate and necessary response to the unreasonable actions of the US, it said.

The US on Wednesday ordered the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston, a move it said was aimed "to protect American intellectual property and private information."

Reacting strongly to the US move, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin termed it as an "unprecedented escalation and warned retaliatory measures.

China on Thursday said that "malicious slander" is behind an order by the US government to close its consulate in Houston, Texas, and maintained that its officials have never operated outside ordinary diplomatic norms.

Wang said the order to close the consulate violates international law and basic norms governing international relations, and seriously undermines China-US relations.

This is breaking down the bridge of friendship between the Chinese and American people, Wang said.

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News Network
September 16,2020

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Paris, Sept 16: The world has lost nearly 100 million hectares of forests in two decades, marking a steady decline though at a slower pace than before, a UN agency reported Tuesday.

The proportion of forest to total land area fell from 31.9 per cent in 2000 to 31.2 per cent in 2020, now some 4.1 billion hectares, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

It marks "a net loss of almost 100 million hectares of the world's forests," the FAO said.

Deforestation has hit particularly hard sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia, where it has accelerated in the last decade, but also Latin and Central America, where it has nonetheless slowed down.

Forests are being cut down mainly to make way for crops or farm animals, especially in less developed countries.

In southeast Asia, the forest now covers 47.8 per cent of the land compared to 49 per cent in 2015. In sub-Saharan Africa, it covers 27.8 per cent compared to 28.7 per cent five years ago.

In Indonesia, it is 50.9 per cent, down from 52.5 per cent. In Malaysia, it is 58.2 per cent, down from 59.2 per cent five years ago.

A country strongly focused on agriculture like the Ivory Coast has seen forests reduced to 8.9 per cent of the total land area from 10.7 per cent in 2015. Kenya, Mali and Rwanda have largely held firm against forest loss.

In Latin and Central America, forest covers only 46.7 per cent of the total land, compared to 47.4 per cent five years ago.

In Brazil, forests declined to 59.4 per cent of the country's territory in 2020 from 60.3 per cent in 2015. In Haiti, deforestation has continued apace -- falling to 12.6 per cent of the total land area from 13.2 per cent in 2015.

In contrast, in many parts of Asia, Europe and North America forest area has increased or stayed the same in the last five years with policies to restore woodland and allow forests to expand naturally.

In China, forests make up 23.3 per cent, up from 22.3 per cent in 2015. In Japan, they account for 68.4 per cent, the same as it was five years ago.

In France, forests cover 31.5 per cent of the land in 2020, up from 30.7 per cent in 2015. In Italy, they make up 32.5 per cent of the national territory, up from 31.6 five years ago.

In Britain, they make up 13.2 per cent, up from 13 per cent five years ago.

In Canada, it is unchanged at 38.2 per cent, and in the United States, unchanged at 33.9 per cent.

In Australia, the figure rose from 17.3 to 17.4 per cent and in New Zealand from 37.4 per cent to 37.6 per cent over the five years.

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News Network
September 20,2020

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Islamabad, Sept 20:  Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, has said that as many as 20 million more girls may not return to schools even after the Covid-19 crisis is over.

Speaking on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York on Friday, the Pakistani Nobel laureate acknowledged that Covid-19 had been “a striking setback to our collective goals”, such as educating women, Dawn newspaper reported.

“On education alone, 20 million more girls may never go back to the classroom when this crisis ends (and) the global education funding gap has already increased to 200 billion dollars per year,” Malala, 23, who once took a bullet from a Pakistani Taliban militant for campaigning for girls' education in Pakistan, said.

Malala reminded the international community that sustainable global goals, set by the UN five years ago, represented the future for millions of girls who wanted education and were fighting for equality.

Noting that little had been done in the last five years to achieve those goals, she asked the world body, “when are you planning to do the work”?

“When will you commit the necessary funding to give every child 12 years of quality education? When will you prioritise peace and protect refugees? When will you pass policies to cut carbon emissions?” she asked.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who also addressed the virtual event, underlined the need to “strike out for a world of dignity and opportunity for all on a healthy planet”.

“We must look beyond the current crisis and set our sights high… to show that transformation is possible and is happening right now,” he said.

The UN chief urged rich nations to address the immediate, medium and longer-term needs of developing countries and to support a UN debt service suspension initiative to at least the end of 2021.

He also stressed the need for transition to a more equitable and sustainable economy, ending fossil fuel subsidies and placing women at the centre of building back.

Deputy Secretary General Amina J Mohammed noted that this “transformation” was already “happening everywhere and must not leave anyone behind”.

The head of the UN Develop¬ment Fund (UNDP), Achim Steiner, warned that for the first time in 30 years, the march of progress in human development was expected to go sharply into reverse.

“Building people’s resilience against vulnerability, risk and deprivation, and helping them to get on their feet if they falter, defines social protection in the 21st century,” he said.

Munir Akram, president of the Econo¬mic and Social Council, said that the “global magnitude of the challenge we are facing” as a result of Covid-19, was “the greatest since the creation of the United Nations”.

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News Network
September 14,2020

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Washington, Sept 14: Recently, Facebook in a bid to cash-in on the TikTok ban in several global regions, launched Reels, its own short video sharing feature on Instagram. Now, Google has announced the its own version dubbed as YouTube Shorts.

Chris Jaffe, VP of Product Management, YouTube, Google noted that user-generated short videos were actually started on YouTube and  the latter's first upload a short 18-second video called 'Me at the zoo' on April 23, 2005.

"As technology advances, creators and artists can now take advantage of the incredible power of smartphones to easily create and publish high-quality content wherever they are in the world. And people can be entertained and informed by bite-sized content in the spare minutes of the day," said Jaffe.

Considering the immense popularity of TikTok in India, Google has decided to introduce YouTube Shorts beta with a handful of new creative tools to select people in the subcontinent. Based on the feedback, it will be improvised and made available in other global regions in the coming months.

YouTube Shorts: Key features you should know

1) It offers a multi-segment camera to string multiple video clips together,
2) There will be an option to record with music from a large library of songs that will continue to grow
3) There will be speed controls that will give users the flexibility to be creative in their performance
4) There will be a timer and countdown to easily record, hands-free. The maximum video length will be 15 seconds.

Users can watch other short videos on YouTube. "We have released a prominent new spot for the create icon on Android, starting in India. We'll continue to expand to iOS devices and in more countries soon. You can also expect more creation features in the coming months," Jaffe noted.

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