Prince Charles warns of extinction threat to islands

Britain’s Prince Charles, left first row, attends the Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change Conference (RDRCC) in the Commonwealth, in central London on Thursday. (AFP)
Updated 20 May 2017
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Prince Charles warns of extinction threat to islands

LONDON: Britain’s Prince Charles warned that tiny island nations could be wiped off the map by climate change, at a Commonwealth gathering geared toward finding practical ways to reverse its effects.
Charles, the heir to the throne, said the planet was facing an existential crisis as he urged the Commonwealth to take forward its ideas to COP23, the next UN climate summit in the German city of Bonn in November.
While the 52-member Commonwealth contains G20 industrial powers like Britain, Canada and Australia and emerging forces like India and Nigeria, many of its members are developing island microstates.
The 2015 COP21 Paris accord targets keeping the rise in temperatures within two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels and strives for 1.5 C (2.7 F) if possible.
Charles said some northern nations seemed worryingly ambivalent about the difference.
“For some countries, particularly, the small island developing states of the Commonwealth, the difference could scarcely be more critical as it may literally mean the survival of their countries or their extinction,” he told ambassadors and science experts gathered at the organization’s London headquarters.
“We face an existential crisis in every sense of the word.”
A two-day Commonwealth conference in October brought together global experts to thrash out innovative schemes that could pull carbon out of the air and put it back into the Earth.
Thursday’s gathering brought together the results of that conference and try and forge a common approach to COP23.
“The task we face is not only to protect nature but also to collaborate with nature,” said Charles.
“The ideas we need are already out there but they will not happen by chance.”
The Commonwealth is looking at notions including carbon-absorbing concrete and getting more productive agriculture through mimicking the ecosystems of wild, untended land.
They have also considered buildings designed like termite mounds that ventilate themselves with cool air, or making ships’ hulls like shark skin to move through water more efficiently.
Also raised were vertical axis wind turbines arranged in school-of-fish formation so the ones behind gain momentum from the vortices, creating far more wind power than regular wind farms.
US ecovillage godfather Albert Bates said that, critically, taking carbon out of the atmosphere could be a profitable business, bucking common perception.
He said he had been experimenting with biochar, a pure form of charcoal made from waste products like cardboard boxes.
“You can also use it as plaster or paint. It takes mold and smoke out of the buildings and sequesters it in the walls. It cleans sick buildings,” he told AFP, saying it would be useful in damp climates.
Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland said experts were coming up with some “really extraordinary science.”
“Action plans are what I’m really looking for,” she told AFP.
“We want to serve the rest of the globe.”
Anote Tong, who was president of Kiribati from 2003 to 2016, said his central Pacific nation of reef islands and atolls, was facing extinction without international action.
He said that, when in office, he had talks with neighbors Fiji, who would accomodate the entire 100,000-strong population if necessitated by climate change and rising sea levels.
“I did look into the future and it doesn’t look good,” he told AFP.
“The trend, in combination with the science coming forward, is frightening.
“Will we continue to survive into the future? I suggest no.
“The science is saying that we will be under water.”
The Commonwealth wants to have a full regenerative development plan in place by its next leaders’ summit in 2018 in London.


Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

Updated 26 April 2018
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Bill Cosby convicted of drugging and molesting a woman

NORRISTOWN-PENNSILVANIA: Bill Cosby was convicted Thursday of drugging and molesting a woman in the first big celebrity trial of the #MeToo era,
completing the spectacular late-life downfall of a comedian who broke racial barriers in Hollywood on his way to TV superstardom as America’s Dad.
Cosby, 80, could end up spending his final years in prison after a jury concluded he sexually violated Temple University employee Andrea Constand at his suburban Philadelphia home in 2004. He claimed the encounter was consensual.
Cosby stared straight ahead as the verdict was read, but moments later lashed out loudly at District Attorney Kevin Steele and called him an “a--hole” after the prosecutor asked that Cosby be immediately jailed because he might flee. Cosby denied he has an airplane and shouted, “I’m sick of him!“
The judge decided Cosby can remain free on bail while he awaits sentencing.
Shrieks erupted in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, and some of his accusers whimpered and cried. Constand remained stoic, then hugged her lawyer and members of the prosecution team.
“Justice has been done!” celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, who represented some of Cosby’s accusers, said on the courthouse steps. “We are so happy that finally we can say women are believed.”
The verdict came after a two-week retrial in which prosecutors put five other women on the stand who testified that Cosby, married for 54 years, drugged and violated them, too. One of those women asked him through her tears, “You remember, don’t you, Mr. Cosby?“
The panel of seven men and five women reached a verdict after deliberating 14 hours over two days, vindicating prosecutors’ decision to retry Cosby after his first trial ended with a hung jury less than a year ago.
Cosby could get up to 10 years in prison on each of the three counts of aggravated indecent assault. He is likely to get less than that under state sentencing guidelines, but given his age, even a modest term could mean he will die behind bars.
Constand, 45, a former Temple women’s basketball administrator, told jurors that Cosby knocked her out with three blue pills he called “your friends” and then penetrated her with his fingers as she lay immobilized, unable to resist or say no.
It was the only criminal case to arise from a barrage of allegations from more than 60 women who said the former TV star drugged and molested them over a span of five decades.
“The time for the defendant to escape justice is over,” prosecutor Stewart Ryan said in his closing argument. “It’s finally time for the defendant to dine on the banquet of his own consequences.”
Another prosecutor, Kristen Feden, said Cosby was “nothing like the image that he played on TV” as sweater-wearing, wisdom-dispensing father of five Dr. Cliff Huxtable on “The Cosby Show.”