Dumping of Untreated Acid in Chinese Canal Highlights Nation’s Water Pollution Woes
Sidney Leng, SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST
A Jiangsu chemical plant has been fined 20 million yuan for dumping almost 2,700 tonnes of liquid acid waste into the Grand Canal, causing environmental damage “beyond measure,” according to a local court verdict that was published recently. The verdict provides a rare detailed look at how waters in China have become some of the most polluted and poisoned in the world in recent decades.
Marine Le Pen Insists Russian Annexation of Crimea Is Totally Legitimate
Tom Batchelor, INDEPENDENT
Marine Le Pen has given her backing to Vladimir Putin’s claims over Crimea, insisting the widely condemned 2014 annexation was not “illegal.” Asked for her views on the diplomatic crisis, Ms Le Pen, who leads the Front National in France and is a candidate in April’s presidential election, said: “I absolutely disagree that it was an illegal annexation: a referendum was held and residents of Crimea chose to rejoin Russia.”
Palace Museum Row Highlights Hong Kong-Beijing Tensions
Ben Bland, FINANCIAL TIMES
The decision to build a $450m branch of Beijing’s famed Palace Museum in Hong Kong was meant to celebrate this year’s 20th anniversary of the return of the former British colony to Chinese control and boost its struggling tourist industry. But the highly symbolic project has run into angry opposition from democracy activists, who have attacked the Hong Kong government for failing to consult the public and promoting a political scheme that undermines the autonomy of the territory.
US Lending Support to Baltic States Fearing Russia
Eric Schmitt, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Dozens of United States Special Operations forces are now in the Baltics to bolster the training and resolve of troops who are confronting a looming threat from Russia, and to enhance the Americans’ ability to detect Moscow’s shadowy efforts to destabilize the former Soviet republics. “They’re scared to death of Russia,” Gen. Raymond T. Thomas, the head of the Pentagon’s Special Operations Command, said of the tiny militaries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
Lawmakers Preparing Russia Sanctions Bill
Tal Kopan, CNN
A group of bipartisan senators is preparing a bill that would offer sanctions against Russia, lawmakers confirmed as the Senate convened a new session of Congress on Tuesday. Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that he was working on the bill with a “broad group” of bipartisan senators. He said he hoped the bill would be released this week.
As Venezuela Goes Hungry, Its Military Makes Money by Trafficking Food
When hunger drew tens of thousands of Venezuelans to the streets last summer in protest, President Nicolás Maduro turned to the military to manage the country’s diminished food supply, putting generals in charge of everything from butter to rice. But instead of fighting hunger, the military is making money from it, an Associated Press investigation shows. That’s what grocer Jose Campos found when he ran out of pantry staples this year. In the middle of the night, he would travel to an illegal market run by the military to buy corn flour—at 100 times the government-set price.