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Jenny Burns

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German Maglev Variant Gets Crucial License

The TSB (Transport System Boegl) of the German company May Boegle has received the license by the national railway supervision EBA, a crucial step toward receiving orders for the construction of maglev tracks in Germany. Boegl says that their system, developed on the basis of the former Transrapid, but modified for use in urban areas at slower speeds, and is capable of operating on elevated tracks, on the ground as well as underground. The EBA license enables Boegl which runs a pilot testing project in China at present, to open up potential markets also in other countries. Boegl says that the TSB prototype has been standardized to such an extent that production for commercial projects can begin in two years from now.

International NGOs Appeal to 75th UN General Assembly for Aid to 20 Million People in Yemen

An appeal for emergency food and humanitarian relief was issued, posted Sept. 14 on the ReliefWeb, CARE, Oxfam sites, and other signers, by 24 international NGOs, titled, “Joint INGO Statement on Yemen—75th Session of the UN General Assembly.” Variously dated Sept. 14 or Sept. 15, 2020, the document is signed by groups including CARE, Islamic Relief, Mercy Corps, Doctors of the World, Save the Children, and others. The two-page document states, after identifying the need for a ceasefire after seven years of war:

“Two-thirds of the population—20 million people—are hungry, and nearly 1.5 million families currently rely entirely on food aid to survive….

“Yemen is now a drastically under-funded crisis. At a critical time when needs are increasing, famine once again looms, and COVID-19 remains a constant threat, it is inconceivable that funding for Yemen’s humanitarian response is drying up.”

After providing details of the situation, for example, that “in August, only 50% of the fuel normally imported into Yemen was allowed to enter,” the statement concludes with a call for seven points of action:

“In the context of discussions taking place during the 75th UN General Assembly, International Non-Governmental Organizations operating on the ground in Yemen call on the international community…” and then follows with bullet points and brief explanations including: work for a ceasefire, “Urgently provide the resources necessary to meet the ongoing humanitarian needs in Yemen, and ensure that the Covid-19 response is also fully funded.” Also, they request diplomacy to improve humanitarian access in Yemen, efforts to support the economy long term in Yemen, “concerted pressure” on the warring parties to stop weaponizing the means to life, implement recommendations from the Group of Eminent Experts (GEE) on Yemen, for accountability on harm to civilians, and “suspend transfers of all arms and military equipment.”

Zepp-LaRouche Interview on China Radio International: EU-China Summit Is a ‘Step Forward,’ Now Need To Address the COVID-19 Crisis

 CRI (China Radio International) today, interviewed Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Schiller Institute President, on “The World” program on the Sept. 14 EU-China summit. Asked about her evaluation, she said it was “a step forward” in a very turbulent world, but added her personal view that world leaders should more forcefully address the Covid-19 crisis; China has done an extraordinary job in dealing with it. She expressed her desire that the EU would have responded to China’s idea of a Health Silk Road, and also the need for a new financial architecture. She said that if the Four Principles President Xi Jinping put forward were accepted, then we wouldn’t have to worry about the danger of war. Zepp-LaRouche pointed to the EU’s obsession with the Green Deal getting in the way of real cooperation based on advanced technology and innovation, so the EU should be thinking more about that. The possible trade and investment deal with China is in the EU’s vested interest, so they would do well to come to some agreement. 

Unnamed German Lab Says Navalny Poisoned With Novichok. U.K.’s Porton Down Lab’s Involvement Makes the Case Stink

German government spokesman Steffan Siebert has reported that according to toxicology tests performed on Alexei Navalny’s blood samples by a German military lab, there is now “unequivocal proof” that the Russian opposition figure was poisoned by a nerve agent of the Novichok family, Reuters reported. Predictably, this has unleashed a wave of indignant responses from within Germany and internationally on a par with the hysteria around the orchestrated 2018 Skrypal case, demanding that Russia be held accountable. Putin himself is targeted.

    While spokesman Dmitry Peskov reported today that the Kremlin has received no report from Berlin on these findings, nor replies to any previous requests for more detailed medical information on Navalny’s status, Seibert solemnly announced that the “federal government will inform its partners in the EU and NATO of the results of the investigation…and will discuss an appropriate joint response with the partners in the light of the Russian response.” The implication is that sanctions could be imposed on Russia. In her own statement, Chancellor Angela Merkel proclaimed, “it’s now clear” there was an “attempt to murder Navalny…He is the victim of a crime. He was meant to be silenced. This raises very difficult questions that only the Russian government can and must answer. This goes against the basic values that we stand for.” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he would be calling in the Russian ambassador to demand an immediate response to the German lab’s findings. The name of the lab hasn’t been identified.

      The stench emanating from Siebert’s assertion of “unequivocal proof,” is unmistakable. {The Guardian} gives it away when it mentions that, according to {Der Spiegel}, experts at Berlin’s Charite hospital where Navalny is being treated, consulted Britain’s secretive Porton Down lab, notorious for its role in the Skripal case, precisely “because of possible similarities with the 2018 Skripal attack.” It also quotes a German Green MP who studied at Yale University with Navalny who bellows that this new information raises the whole issue to “an international level,” demanding an international investigation be launched immediately. B {The Guardian} coyly notes that, so far,  Germany remains committed to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project with Russia, implying that the alleged poisoning of Navalny might change that.

      Tass notes that Russia’s Prosecutor General had requested Germany’s legal assistance in replying to 20 pertinent questions regarding Navalny’s treatment, diagnosis and test results as well as on a preliminary diagnosis from the German clinic, and medical documents and research by German specialists, both during Navalny’s transportation from Russia to Germany and his stay at the Berlin clinic. The Germans provided no information.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Approves NuScale’s Small Modular Reactor

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced the completion of its Phase 6 review—the last and final phase—of the Design Certification Application (DCA) for NuScale’s small modular reactor (SMR) and have issued  the Final Safety Evaluation Report (FSER).  With this final approval customers can proceed with plans to develop NuScale power plants with the understanding that the NRC has approved the safety aspects of the NuScale design.

“This is a significant milestone not only for NuScale, but also for the entire U.S. nuclear sector and the other advanced nuclear technologies that will follow. This clearly establishes the leadership of NuScale and the U.S. in the race to bring SMRs to market. The approval of NuScale’s design is an incredible accomplishment and we would like to extend our deepest thanks to the NRC for their comprehensive review, to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for its continued commitment to our successful private-public partnership to bring the country’s first SMR to market, and to the many other individuals who have dedicated countless hours to make this extraordinary moment a reality,” said NuScale Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Hopkins said in a NuScale press release on August 28. “Additionally, the cost-shared funding provided by Congress over the past several years has accelerated NuScale’s advancement through the NRC Design Certification process. This is what DOE’s SMR Program was created to do, and our success is credited to strong bipartisan support from Congress.”

This  design certification  means it meets safety requirements and could be chosen by future projects seeking licensing and approval. The next step for NuScale is to obtain full certification from the regulator which will then allow a utility to reference the design when applying to build and operate a nuclear power plant anywhere in the US. Already the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems is planning to develop a 720MW plant at the Idaho National Laboratory which would use 12 of these reactors.

Once built the Nuscale reactor will be the first of its kind which can be built in serial production in a factory with the modules assembled on the site of the power plant. NuScale has signed agreements with entities in the U.S., Canada, Romania, the Czech Republic, and Jordan. Similar agreements with other entities are being negotiated. 

University of Alabama Ranked #1 for COVID

The University of Alabama has climbed to #1 in the COVID-19 rankings amongst major American universities. Their main campus at Tuscaloosa climbed over the 1,000 mark after only nine days of school, now totaling 1,063. If CNN’s figure of around 8,700 cases currently for all U.S. colleges and universities is correct, then this one campus has about 12% of the known cases on campuses in the country.

The Tuscaloosa campus has some well-deserved notoriety, having made the news months ago for the fad of “COVID” parties – where parties were arranged with at least one known COVID- infected student. The other students would put money into a pot, with the first new case of COVID declared the winner. Such a demented subculture will give a new meaning to their school nickname, the “Crimson Tide.”

In the first six days of school, the campus showed 90/day, while the last three have climbed to 160/day. (These numbers only include the students, as the numbers for the faculty and staff together pale in comparison — nine cases, or one/day.) Assuming an approximate 4-5 day lag time from infection to symptoms to test results, it suggests the uptick happened last weekend. On Monday, all the bars in town were closed, by order of Mayor Walt Maddox. In tandem, the University has issued a moratorium on all in-person events, outside of classes; and has closed all common areas of dormitories, fraternities and sororities. They are hoping that their actions will be reflected in a drop in the new cases — unless the barn door was closed too late.

Wang Yi in France Calls for “Community of Common Health for Mankind”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in France yesterday, where he met with French President Macron. A meeting with Foreign Minister Le Drian was planned for today, as part of European tour he is undertaking. The meeting with France is particularly important,  given France’s position in the EU, which relationship China is also intent on improving. France has also indicated that they would (under U.S. pressure) phase out Huawei’s presence in France over the next few years.

China Daily reported that “The pressing task now, Wang said, is to restart bilateral exchanges in all areas in an orderly manner while keeping regular COVID-19 containment measures in place, including strengthening coordination and cooperation in the research and development of COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines and in prevention of future pandemics, so as to overcome the pandemic as soon as possible and make positive contribution to the establishment of a community of common health for mankind.“

Wang said that the two sides should continue to firmly support the WHO in coordinating and leading the global COVID-19 response, and to oppose politicizing the pandemic, adding that China is ready to speed up cooperation with France on major projects for win-win outcomes.

“Noting that Europe is an important force in a multipolar world, Wang said that China and Europe have always been partners instead of rivals with their consensus far outweighing differences.“

“China appreciates president Macron’s call for Europe to strengthen strategic independence, which not only reflects France’s tradition of independence, but also demonstrates Europe’s position as a pole of the world, he said.“

Wang Yi arrived in France after completing a successful trip to Norway, where there is a discussion of working toward a free trade agreement. China-Norwegian relations had been somewhat chilly since Norway awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. But the meetings were warm and Wang Yi gave an up-beat press conference following the meeting.

Wang Yi is expected to conclude his European tour in Berlin at the beginning of next week. However, a meeting with Angela Merkel is not planned. A group of China-haters belonging to the Interparliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) has demanded from Foreign Minister Heiko Maas that he confront China on the Uighurs and on Hong Kong. The letter is signed by Margarete Bause (Grüne), Gyde Jense (FDP) and Michael Brand (CDU). 

Three Gorges Dam and High-tech Farming Prevent Food Crisis in Spite of Record Flooding

China has often been subject to catastrophic flooding. Previously such floods, as they have experienced this year, would have led to tens of thousands of deaths, massive loss of farmland and the threat of famine. When China decided at the end of the last century to build the Three Gorges Dam, the largest dam of its kind in the world, there was some controversy. Too big, too expensive, and it wouldn’t help in a major flood, were the common arguments. But today the Three Gorges Dam received its largest contingent of water since it was constructed in 2003, and is continuing to perform. At 8 a.m.the inbound flow reached 75,000 cubic/meters per second.

President Xi is visiting the region in Anhui province further down along the Yangtze. While there has been much flooding and destruction, the loss of life has been minimal and scientific farming, including satellite technology, soil sensors and insect-monitoring lamps, the data of which  are transmitted simultaneously by the Internet of Things to smartphones and computers, have allowed them to mitigate losses. While grain production has from time immemorial and today been the number one issue for Chinese rulers, the devastated flooding will, thanks to technology, not prevent some bumper crops this year along the Yangtze and its tributary rivers.

First Arab Nuclear Power Plant Now on the Grid

Unit 1 of the UAE’s Barakah plant — the Arab world’s first nuclear energy plant — has connected to the national power grid, in a historic moment enabling it to provide cleaner electricity to millions of residents and help reduce the oil-rich country’s reliance on fossil fuels. “This is a major milestone, we’ve been planning for this for the last 12 years now,” Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), told CNBC’s Dan Murphy in an exclusive interview ahead of the news.

Unit 1 is the first of what will eventually be four reactors, which when fully operational are expected to provide 25% of the UAE’s electricity and reduce its carbon emissions by 21 million tons a year, according to ENEC. That’s roughly equivalent to the carbon emissions of 3.2 million cars annually.

The Gulf country of nearly 10 million is the newest member of a group of now 31 countries running nuclear power operations. It’s also the first new country to launch a nuclear power plant in three decades, the last being China in 1990.

“The UAE has been growing from an electricity demand standpoint,”  Al Hammadi said. “That’s why we are trying to meet the demand (and) at the same time have it with less carbon emissions.”

The UAE’s electricity mix will continue to include gas and renewable energy, with “the baseload from nuclear,” the CEO added, which he described as a “safe, clean and reliable source of electricity” for the country.

The project is also providing “highly compensated jobs” for the Emiratis and will introduce new industries for the country’s economy, Al Hammadi said. The company noted that it has awarded roughly 2,000 contracts worth more than $4.8 billion for local companies.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Offers International Cooperation on COVID-19 Vaccines

Vasily Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nation’s, told the U.N. Security Council that “We are ready for international cooperation with all interested partners in the development and production of vaccines and treatments to ensure a coordinated global response to the spread of Covid-19 and a common victory over the pandemic.” Nenbenzia’s remarks came after Russia’s announcement of their “Sputnik V” vaccine. RT reported that Nebenzia said that clinical trials have already shown it to be both safe and highly effective, and noted that other “promising” vaccines were being developed in Russia as well.

RT commented: “Some Western governments have disparaged the Russian achievement, demanding to see evidence of the vaccine’s safety, even as their own pharmaceutical companies have required absolute immunity from liability lawsuits over potential adverse effects.”

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