04-08 Nov Weekly News



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United Nations warns world to quit 'coal addiction'

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has told world leaders to end their addiction to coal. He said the fossil fuel was a "major threat" to climate change and warned that the coal addiction "must be overcome". Mr Guterres was in Thailand for the ASEAN Summit. He said that many countries in danger from climate change are in Asia. He told the world leaders that: "Countries in these areas are countries that are in one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change." He added that: "Unless we are able to...defeat climate change, in 2050, the research has forecasted that 300 million people in the world will be flooded by sea water."

Mr Guterres said climate change was, "the biggest threat to the planet at the present moment". He said using coal was a big problem. "We have to put a price on carbon. We need to stop subsidies for fossil fuels." He urged, "stopping the construction of coal-power electricity plants in order to be able to defeat climate change." The UN chief was speaking on a day that saw "unbearable" and "hazardous" levels of air pollution in India's capital of Delhi. An Indian health ministry official, Varun Jhaveri, said pollution monitors did not have enough digits to accurately record the pollution. He tweeted: "I think we are heading towards Delhi recording the most polluted day in the history of the world!! This is a disaster!"


A 4-day work week in Japan increased productivity

Microsoft trialed a four-day working week in Japan. Workers' productivity and job satisfaction improved. The trial was at the tech giant's Tokyo headquarters. Workers had every Friday off as paid leave in August. Analysts found the shorter working week had several benefits. Productivity rose by 40 per cent and 92 per cent of workers were happy with the trial. It could change Japan's famous workplace practices of long hours and overtime.

The "Work-Life Choice Challenge" aimed, "to create an environment where each employee can choose a diverse and flexible way of working according to [their] circumstances". It included limiting meetings to 30 minutes and asking workers to chat online rather than face-to-face. Microsoft said electricity bills were down by 23 per cent and 59 per cent fewer pages were printed compared with August 2018. Microsoft will repeat the experiment in Japan.


Typhoon-damaged bullet trains scrapped in Japan

Ten of Japan's famous bullet trains will be scrapped. They were caught in the floods after Typhoon Hagibis hit eastern Japan in October. The typhoon caused widespread damage and loss of life in Japan. There were many photos and TV footage of the 10 shiny bullet trains lined up next to each other at a train yard near the central city of Nagano. They were deep in floodwater after the nearby Chikuma River burst its banks. The trains used to run between Tokyo and a city on the Sea of Japan coast called Kanazawa. The line is now running 80 per cent of its normal services. The bullet train company said it hopes to be running a full service again by the end of March 2020.

Bullet trains are called Shinkansen in Japan. They started in 1964 in time for the Tokyo Olympics. They became an iconic symbol of Japan and were the world's fastest trains. They currently reach speeds of 320kph. The bullet train rail network has expanded to currently consist of 2,764km. People take around 350 million rides a year on the Shinkansen. A Shinkansen president, Yuji Fukasawa, spoke about the flooded trains. He said the floodwater seriously damaged their motors and braking systems. The total cost of the damage is around $135 million. He said: "For stability and safety, we [will] replace the trains with newly built ones instead of repairing them."



Airbnb may not be your go-to for that next big bash. The global online lodging marketplace announced it's banning "party houses" after five people were shot and killed at a Halloween party near San Francisco. CEO Brian Chesky tweeted that his company will expand screening of high-risk reservations, create a "'party house' rapid response team" and potentially remove anyone from its site who breaks the rules. Though the deadly party happened at a rental that forbade parties, it was advertised on social media and drew more than 100 people. The party problem is the latest test for Airbnb, which has been accused of skirting local laws and propagating overtourism.



The top exec of one of the world's most popular burger chains is out. McDonald's board found that Steve Easterbrook violated company policy and "demonstrated poor judgment involving a recent consensual relationship with an employee," the company said. Easterbrook in an email to employees expressed regret and called the relationship "a mistake." Easterbrook had led McDonald's aggressive modernization plan, including adding digital menu boards and selling fresh beef burgers. But he also ran up against some tension with franchisees. Stepping in as president and CEO is Chris Kempczinski, the recent head of McDonald's USA.


Paris climate deal

The United States will not be a part of the international charge to solve the climate crisis since the Trump team took the first steps to formally withdraw from the Paris climate accord. It's the latest push from an administration that's made rolling back environmental regulations a top priority. President Trump announced in 2017 that the US would ditch the Paris deal, which he's argued would punish American workers and enrich foreign countries. Meantime, climate change will not be on the agenda at next year's G7 summit in the US. The full UN process of exiting the Paris deal can't be completed until a year from yesterday, which happens to be one day after the 2020 presidential election.



It's yet another glimpse into the migrant crisis that's gripped Europe for years. Forty-one people, all men and boys, were found alive yesterday in the back of a refrigerated truck during a routine highway check in northern Greece, officials said. Greece is struggling to deal with the most migrant and refugee arrivals since 2015, and some 35,000 people, including families with young children, are stuck there in overcrowded camps that human rights advocates call  "abysmal," with scarce food, medical care and sanitation. The discovery happened as police in Vietnam arrested eight people in connection with the grim case of 39 people found dead last month in a truck in England, a popular destination for unauthorized Vietnamese workers.


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