Tracking cookies

To make our website even easier and more personal, we use cookies (and similar techniques). With these cookies we and third parties can collect information about you and monitor your internet behavior within (and possibly also outside) our website. If you agree with this, we will place these tracking cookies.

Yes, I give permissionNo thanks

Musk talks about aliens, while Gazprom threatens to leave the EU without gas

17-6-2022 |

Fresh - freshly squeezed news from the international press. We prepare it 3 times a week.

The Guardian: Fossil fuel firms ‘have humanity by the throat’, says UN head in blistering attack

António Guterres compared fossil fuel companies to the tobacco companies that continued to push their addictive products while concealing or attacking health advice that showed clear links between smoking and cancer, the first time he has drawn such a parallel.

He said: “We seem trapped in a world where fossil fuel producers and financiers have humanity by the throat.

For decades, the fossil fuel industry has invested heavily in pseudoscience and public relations – with a false narrative to minimise their responsibility for climate change and undermine ambitious climate policies.

They exploited precisely the same scandalous tactics as big tobacco decades before. Like tobacco interests, fossil fuel interests and their financial accomplices must not escape responsibility.”

Speaking to the Major Economies Forum, a climate conference organised by the White House, Guterres also castigated governments that are failing to rein in fossil fuels, and in many cases seeking increased production of gas, oil and even coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.

He said: “Nothing could be more clear or present than the danger of fossil fuel expansion. Even in the short-term, fossil fuels don’t make political or economic sense.”

The US president, Joe Biden, is travelling to Saudi Arabia to push for more oil production, some EU countries are seeking to source gas from Africa and developing countries around the world, and the UK is licensing new gas fields in the North Sea.

Governments are concerned about soaring energy prices and rising food bills. Energy experts have advised more renewable energy and improvements to energy efficiency as better alternatives, but much of their advice has been ignored.

Guterres has been incensed by the recent behaviour of fossil fuel companies, which have been reaping a bonanza from energy prices sent soaring by the Ukraine war.

Much of these bumper profits are likely to be invested in fresh exploration and expansion of fossil fuel resources.

The Guardian recently uncovered nearly 200 new projects – “carbon bombs” – that if completed would put paid to the world’s chances of limiting global temperatures to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The International Energy Agency warned last year that all new exploration and development of oil, gas and coal must cease this year to hold to the 1.5C threshold.

BBC: Elon Musk hints at layoffs in first meeting with Twitter employees

Multi-billionaire Elon Musk has in a meeting with Twitter employees hinted at potential job cuts if his $44bn (£35.8bn) takeover bid for the social media company is successful.

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

He also addressed topics like remote working, freedom of speech and potential extra-terrestrial life.

Mr Musk was talking to staff for the first time since launching his bid for the firm in April.

On a wide-ranging video call with Twitter employees on Thursday, Mr Musk said layoffs at Twitter would depend on the company's financial situation.

"The company does need to get healthy. Right now the costs exceed the revenue," he said.

However he added: "Anyone who's... a significant contributor should have nothing to worry about".

He also stated his preference for working from the office unless "somebody is exceptional".

However he did not provide an update on takeover discussions and Twitter employees took to an internal communications channel to express their disappointment about his views on the business and employee compensation.

Mr Musk, who is the boss of electric vehicle maker Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, also discussed the possibility of life beyond earth although he said he has not seen "actual evidence for aliens".

"Can we travel to other star systems and see if there are alien civilisations?" he asked, adding that the platform could help "civilisation and consciousness".

Within known civilization, Twitter's stock plummeted significantly after discussions began about Musk's purchase of the company.

CNN: China launches third, most advanced aircraft carrier named 'Fujian'

China on Friday launched its third and most advanced aircraft carrier from Shanghai's Jiangnan Shipyard, with new combat systems that experts say are fast catching up with the United States.

Photo: CNN

Named "Fujian," the ship is China's first domestically designed and built catapult aircraft carrier, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

Its electromagnetic catapult-assisted launch system is a major upgrade from the less advanced ski jump-style system used on the Liaoning and the Shandong, its two predecessors, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington-based think tank.

The new system, similar to the ones used by US aircraft carriers, will allow China to launch a wider variety of aircraft from the Fujian faster and with more ammunition.

In addition to the launch system, the Fujian is equipped with blocking devices, and a full-load displacement of more than 80,000 tons, Xinhua reported, adding that the ship will carry out mooring tests and navigation tests after the launch.

Matthew Funaiole, senior fellow at the CSIS's China Project, told CNN previously that the new ship would be the Chinese military's first modern aircraft carrier.

"This is a pretty significant step forward," he said. "They've really committed to building out a carrier program, and they continue to push the boundaries of what they're able to do."

China names its aircraft carriers after its coastal provinces, with Liaoning in the northeast and Shandong in the east. Fujian, in the southeast, is the closest province to Taiwan, separated by a strait that is fewer than 80 miles (128 kilometers) wide at its narrowest point.

China's ruling Communist Party claims sovereignty over the self-ruling democracy of Taiwan, despite having never governed it.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has repeatedly said that "reunification" between China and Taiwan is inevitable and refused to rule out the use of force.

China now wields the largest naval force in the world, and aircraft carriers are the core vessels of any major power's fleet.

The massive ships are essentially a mobile airbase, allowing for the rapid, long-term deployment of aircraft and weaponry to a combat theater.

China's naval buildup comes amid growing geopolitical tensions with the US, which under President Joe Biden is seeking to strengthen ties with allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region to counter Beijing's growing economic influence and military might.

CNBC: ‘Our product, our rules’: Russia sends alarm bells ringing over Europe’s winter gas supplies

An ominous warning from Russia’s state-backed energy giant Gazprom has stoked fears of another turbulent winter for European gas supplies.

As a pre-summer heatwave hits western Europe this week, policymakers in the region are scrambling to fill underground storage with natural gas supplies to provide households with enough fuel to keep the lights on and homes warm before the cold returns.

Fears of a severe winter gas shortage are driven by the risk of a full supply disruption to the EU — which receives roughly 40% of its gas via Russian pipelines.

The bloc is trying to rapidly reduce its reliance on Russian hydrocarbons in response to the Kremlin’s nearly four-month-long onslaught in Ukraine.

The worry for many is just how dependable Russian gas flows are to Europe as the conflict continues and as economic sanctions bite. Indeed, Moscow has already cut gas supplies to Finland, Poland, Bulgaria Denmark’s Orsted, Dutch firm Gasterra and energy giant Shell for its German contracts, all over a gas-for-rubles payment dispute.

More recently, Russia’s Gazprom opted to further limit supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that runs from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea, and reduced flows to Italy.

Gazprom on Wednesday cited a technical problem for the supply cut, saying the problem stemmed from the delayed return of equipment serviced by Germany’s Siemens Energy in Canada. Austria and Slovakia have also reported supply reductions from Russia.

What’s more, in fiery comments likely to have sent alarm bells ringing throughout the bloc, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said Thursday that Russia will play by its own rules after the firm halved supplies to Germany.

“Our product, our rules. We don’t play by rules we didn’t create,” Miller said during a panel session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, according to The Moscow Times.

Miller reportedly said the return of equipment at the Portovaya compressor station — part of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that carries Russian gas to Germany — had been hampered by an unprecedented barrage of economic sanctions. He added that he saw no solution to the problem.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck has rejected the claim that Western sanctions were to blame and slammed Russia’s supply curbs as a “political decision” designed to unsettle the region and ramp up gas prices.

Underlining the seriousness of these concerns, IEA chief executive Faith Birol warned last week that EU countries may be at risk of winter energy rationing if member states do not take more steps to improve energy efficiency.

The European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, said on Friday it was aware of Gazprom’s announcements that it would reduce flows via Nord Stream 1 as well as deliveries to several companies across the EU.

A spokesperson for the bloc described the move as “yet another example of Gazprom and Russia’s use of its energy supplies as an instrument of blackmail.”

Picked and squeezed for you: Irina Iakovleva