Climate change will be disastrous even after latest world pledges, report finds

The recent pledges made by world governments to limit carbon emissions will not be sufficient to meet the goal of keeping global temperatures from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius, a new report concluded. Instead, those nonbinding commitments will result in a rise in the average global temperature to a potentially catastrophic 2.4 degrees Celsius.

The Climate Action Tracker, an independent network of scientists that tracks the commitments made on cutting emissions, released its findings Monday, just weeks after President Biden convened a climate summit with world leaders. The report notes that more robust targets made at the summit “have improved the Climate Action Tracker’s warming estimate by 0.2°C,” but that the net result would still mean the world is poised to blow past the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold set in 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“While all of these developments are welcome, warming based on the targets and pledges, even under the most optimistic assumptions, is still well above the Paris Agreement’s 1.5˚C temperature limit,” the report states.

Despite the initial commitments made by world leaders in the Paris climate accord, temperatures have already risen by more than 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, according to a report released last month by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization, a finding that led U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres to declare, “We are on the verge of the abyss.”

While keeping the average rise of surface temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible, the Climate Action Tracker said doing so will require a massive, unified effort from world governments that would transform life as we know it.

“Of great concern are the persisting plans of some governments to build new infrastructure not compatible with Paris goals, such as new coal-fired power plants, increasing uptake of natural gas as a source of electricity and that there are large inefficient personal vehicles in some countries,” the report states.

Rising temperatures have already had a profound impact on life on Earth, scientists say, increasing the severity of drought, weather events and wildfire destruction. With climate change continuing apace, the future looks even more bleak. A 2020 study conducted by the University of Arizona, for instance, found that at the current rate of temperature rise, one-third of all plants and animals on the planet will be at risk of mass extinction in the next 50 years.

In its 2018 report, the IPCC warned that global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius would result in drastic sea-level rise, threatening coastlines and island nations, and an increase in the number of deadly heat waves. At 2 degrees of Celsius warming, 99 percent of the world’s coral reefs would die off, an estimated 13 percent of ecosystems on land would be imperiled and an ice-free Arctic would become a reality within two decades.


Here’s Why Bill Gates Still Prefers Android Instead of iPhone

When it comes to the great iOS vs. Android debate, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates knows which side he’s on.

According to 9to5Google, Gates shared his preferences in a recently audio-only interview via the Clubhouse app. It may not come as a surprise that he’s firmly team Android.

Doors told writer Andrew Ross Sorkin and Clubhouse fellow benefactor Paul Davidson that, subsequent to announcing he favored Android previously, nothing has changed. While he keeps an iPhone close by in the occasion he needs to utilize it in any capacity whatsoever (like utilizing the iPhone-just Clubhouse), he has an everyday Android gadget.

Clubhouse is an application that allows you to drop in on sound just discussions. The informal organization looks like something of a gigantic arrangement of digital recording like discussions. At this moment, it’s right now welcome just and just iPhone clients can take part.

Entryways favors the more open nature of the Android environment, as it’s more “adaptable” about how programming interfaces with the OS.

“I really utilize an Android telephone,” Gates told Sorkin. “Since I need to monitor everything, I’ll regularly mess with iPhones, however the one I heft around turns out to be Android. A portion of the Android makers pre-introduce Microsoft programming such that makes it simple for me. They’re more adaptable about how the product associates up with the working framework. So that is the thing that I wound up becoming acclimated to. You know, a ton of my companions have ‌iPhone‌, so there’s no immaculateness.”

In 2019, Gates admitted the way he handled Microsoft’s own mobile phone division was his “greatest mistake.” Microsoft ended up letting Google transform Android into the only true rival for iPhone. Microsoft missed out on a $400 billion market at the time, something Gates deeply regrets. In 2017, however, he went ahead and adopted an Android phone.

During the interview, Davidson indicated that an Android version of Clubhouse could be on its way. He called it a “top feature,” which could mean the iPhone Clubhouse could soon dissipate.


Iheanacho tipped to wreck Southampton

Adrian Clarke said Nigerian Kelechi Iheanacho is Premier League’s most clinical and in-form striker ahead of today’s trip to Southampton.

Iheanacho has scored 14 goals in his last 14 appearances for Leicester City in all competitions, finding the net nine times across his last seven top-flight starts.

For the first time since joining Leicester, Iheanacho is enjoying an extended run up front alongside Jamie Vardy and revelling in Brendan Rodgers’ change from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-1-2 formation.

Southampton will need to be aware of Iheanacho’s threat today.

Iheanacho reached the 10-goal mark in a season for the first time in his Premier League career when he netted the winner at home against Crystal Palace on Monday.

His stats compare favourably with the division’s other leading strikers.

The Nigerian is scoring at a faster rate than anybody else with 10 or more goals this term, and no other player on that list boasts a better conversion rate.

While Vardy has struggled for goals, scoring only twice since Christmas, he deserves enormous credit for helping Iheanacho to blossom.

Vardy made trademark sprints behind defenders down the left wing and produced perfect low crosses to set up Iheanacho for two simple finishes against Sheffield United.

Iheanacho also scored in identical fashion against West Bromwich Albion thanks to the hard work of his team-mate.

Vardy and Iheanacho work well in this regard, creating space with subtle runs.

If Iheanacho continues this outstanding run of form, his goals will fire third-placed Leicester back into Europe and may even win them silverware.


Stampede at Israel Religious Celebration Kills at Least 44

JERUSALEM — A stampede early Friday at a mountainside religious celebration in Israel that drew tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews left at least 44 people dead and scores more injured.

By some estimates, about 100,000 people were crammed together late Thursday to celebrate a holiday on Mount Meron in northern Israel, despite warnings from the authorities about the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

The deadly crush began around 1 a.m. on Friday, as celebrants began to pour out of a section of a compound where festivities were being held. The death toll of 44, released later by the Health Ministry, made it one of the worst civilian disasters in Israeli history.

Magen David Adom, the national ambulance service, said early Friday that it had treated 150 injured people. It posted a video on Twitter that showed a fleet of ambulances, red sirens flashing, waiting to evacuate the wounded.

“A terrible disaster,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, and Emanuele Giaufret, the European Union’s ambassador, offered condolences on Twitter to families of the victims.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews traditionally gather at Mount Meron for the holiday, Lag b’Omer, to dance and make bonfires around the tomb of a prominent rabbi from antiquity. Critics have warned for years that the site’s patchy infrastructure cannot safely handle large crowds.

A video said to have been taken right before the stampede on Friday showed a mass of people in ecstatic celebration, moving in unison to the music.

Early accounts of what led to the stampede varied.

Initial reports indicated that a grandstand had collapsed. But as details emerged, it appeared that the crush had occurred after celebrants slipped on stone steps leading into a narrow passageway with a metal-floored slope, setting off what the news site Ynet described as a “human avalanche.”

One of the injured, Chaim Vertheimer, said that the slope had become slippery from spilled water and grape juice.

“For some reason there was sudden pressure at this point and people stopped, but more people kept coming down,” Mr. Vertheimer told Ynet, speaking from his hospital bed in the holy city of Safed. “People were not breathing. I remember hundreds of people screaming ‘I can’t breathe’.”

Some rescue workers attributed the tragedy to the sheer volume of people who had gathered at Mount Meron. Television images from the scene showed shoes, hats, plastic bottles and other debris littering the passageway after it was evacuated. A metal hand rail, meant to help people steady themselves as they walked down the slippery slope, had collapsed.

The site around the rabbi’s tomb had been divided into separate sections in an apparent effort to contain and control the crowds. But as the death toll climbed on Friday morning, questions arose about poor planning and possible negligence.

Footage shot as the disaster unfolded showed police officers trying to stop people from fleeing the scene. That could have been because the officers did not immediately realize the extent of the danger, or because they wanted to prevent the stampede from spilling into other areas of the compound.

Television images also showed a side door in the evacuated passageway that had been locked shut.

Amir Ohana, the minister of public security from Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party, who oversees the police, had been at the event earlier on Thursday evening. After the stampede, he wrote on Twitter that the police chief was on his way to the scene.

Eli Levy, a spokesman for the police, said an investigation was underway but that it was too early to apportion blame or speak of negligence. He also cautioned against drawing conclusions from isolated video clips. Mr. Levy added that despite calls to evacuate the mountain, some celebrants had refused to leave or tried to make their way back.

On Thursday, before the stampede, the Israeli police said they had arrested two people for disrupting officers’ efforts to keep order at the site. But the crowd was so vast, the police said, that they could not make people obey coronavirus restrictions.

However it unfolded, by the time the stampede was over, a scene of joy had transformed into one of horror.

One eyewitness likened it to a war zone, telling Channel 12 TV that he had seen the bodies of two dead children. Images from the disaster scene showed bodies on stretchers, covered with foil blankets.

The disaster’s aftermath was chaotic in part because the cellular phone network in the area collapsed, leaving parents frantically searching for their children.

Amid the chaos, as medics tried to reach the injured, prominent Israeli rabbis remained onstage, trying to restore calm by reading psalms for the wounded.

The annual gathering on Mount Meron, which is in the Galilee, takes place near the mystical city of Safed. The Lag b’Omer holiday is linked in Jewish tradition to the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Romans in the first century A.D.

Each year, large numbers of ultra-Orthodox and traditional Jews make the pilgrimage to the mountain for days of festivities. They light bonfires around the grave site of a second-century sage, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, in the hope that they will receive his blessings on the anniversary of his death.

The pilgrimage was held this year despite warnings from Israeli health officials that it could become a Covid-19 superspreader event. That is what appears to have happened in India this month when a vast Hindu celebration was permitted to take place.

Last year, the Israeli authorities arrested over 300 people at the Lag b’Omer celebration after large crowds gathered in defiance of coronavirus restrictions, ignoring police checkpoints on roads. Some were reported to have thrown stones and other objects at police officers who tried to control the crowd.

About 56 percent of the Israeli population had been fully vaccinated for Covid-19 as of Thursday, according to a New York Times database, and the country’s swift inoculation campaign and plummeting infection rates have allowed it to take rapid steps back toward normalcy. Earlier this month, Israel lifted its outdoor mask mandate and fully reopened schools for the first time since September.
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But there are still restrictions in place, and the gathering at Mount Meron on Thursday, though smaller than similar ones in recent years, was described as the largest in Israel since the start of the pandemic. Buses were still making their way to the mountain when the deadly crush began, and thousands more people had been expected to arrive on Friday.

Isabel Kershner reported from Jerusalem, Eric Nagourney from New York and Mike Ives from Hong Kong.

Irit Pazner Garshowitz contributed reporting from Jerusalem.


‘No More’: Sen. Ted Cruz Stops Accepting Corporate PAC Contributions

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is vowing that he no longer will accept campaign contributions from corporate political action committees and urges colleagues to do the same.

Corporations have consistently attacked conservative values while expecting Republicans to grant them political favors, Cruz wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Wednesday evening. The Texas Republican said “woke CEOs” like Republicans until any sign of controversy is sparked online, causing them to run away.

“For too long, Republicans have allowed the left and their big-business allies to attack our values with no response,” Cruz wrote in the op-ed. “We’ve allowed them to ship jobs overseas, attack gun rights, and destroy our energy companies. We’ve let them smear Republicans without paying any price.”

“To them I say: When the time comes that you need help with a tax break or a regulatory change, I hope the Democrats take your calls, because we may not. Starting today, we won’t take your money either,” Cruz wrote.

Since taking office in 2013, Cruz has accepted $2.6 million from corporate PACs, he said.

Cruz is the latest Republican elected official to send a warning to “woke” corporations, urging them to stop taking conservatives for granted.

Last week, a group of seven House Republicans pledged to stop accepting contributions from Big Tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Twitter, which they said censor conservative voices online.

“This is going to be a litmus test for conservatives,” a Republican campaign official told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

In March, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., became the highest-profile Republican to endorse the effort to unionize an Amazon warehouse in Alabama. Rubio argued that Amazon and the wider business community shouldn’t expect Republican support when they routinely attack conservatives in the culture war.

“For decades, companies like Amazon have been allies of the left in the culture war, but when their bottom line is threatened they turn to conservatives to save them,” Rubio wrote in USA Today. “But the days of conservatives being taken for granted by the business community are over.”


Senior journalist Rohit Sardana passes away due to heart attack, had recently recovered from COVID-19

New Delhi: Rohit Sardana, senior journalist and one of the top anchors of Hindi news channel Aaj Tak, passed away on Friday, according to people close to him.

Rajdeep Sardesai took to Twitter and wrote, “More terrible news friends. Well known Tv news anchor Rohit Sardana has passed away. Had a heart attack this morning. Deep condolences to his family. RIP.”

Sardana had joined Aaj Tak in 2017 after he left Zee News. He hosted the debate show “Dangal” on Aaj Tak.

Sardana was a recipient of the 2018 Ganesh Vidyarthi Puraskar Award. He was among the most popular faces of TV news journalism in India.

After the news of death of Sardana, condolences started pouring in.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala in a tweet said, “Deeply saddened and shocked to hear about the demise of Aaj Tak journalist Rohit Sardana. It’s simply unbelievable. Rohit had recovered from Covid-19 and was back at work. My heartfelt condolences to the family members and Aaj Tak group.”

Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill also took to Twitter and wrote, “Completely shocked on hearing the news about passing away of my dear friend Rohit Sardana – spoke to him last Sunday and he was in great spirits!! Still can’t come to terms with this – will forever cherish our after debate conversations, rest in peace “bhaji”.”


Britain to host 2022 vaccine summit to prepare for future pandemics

Britain said on Friday it would host a summit in 2022 to raise money for vaccine research and development to support an international coalition seeking to speed up the production of shots for future diseases.

Britain is using its presidency of the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations to highlight the need to prepare for future pandemics in light of the devastating consequences of the coronavirus crisis.

Britain said the summit with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) next year would support the body`s goal of cutting the development time for new vaccines to 100 days in future pandemics.

“We look forward to working with CEPI to speed up vaccine development, creating a global solution to ensure we`re better prepared for future pandemics,” health minister Matt Hancock said.

The summit is aimed at raising investment from the international community, though there was no immediate word on which governments or organisations would be invited to attend.

CEPI, a partnership created in 2017 between public, private, philanthropic and civil society groups, played a leading role in funding early development of a range of candidate vaccines against COVID-19.

Britain said global health would be on the agenda of a May meeting of G7 foreign ministers, and it would urge international partners to work to strengthen global health security.

“Now is a moment to capitalise on the rare alignment of political will, practical experience, and technical and scientific progress emerging from COVID-19 to prevent such devastation happening again,” said Richard Hatchett, Chief Executive of CEPI.

“CEPI has laid out an ambitious plan that aims to dramatically reduce or eliminate the risk of future pandemics and the UK has embraced the central pillar of that plan – the aspiration to compress vaccine development timelines to as little as 100 days – as part of its G7 agenda.”


Darktrace soars on London debut, 38% above IPO price

Darktrace (DARK.L) shares opened 38% higher in the British cybersecurity company’s market debut on Friday.

The shares were priced at 250 pence in its London listing that valued the company at 1.7 billion pounds ($2.37 billion), lower than an original target closer to $4 billion, sources told Reuters.

They were trading at 325 pence at 0737 GMT, well above the 220-280p range set by its bankers when its roadshow began on Monday.

Its strong debut will be a fillip for a London IPO market battered last month when Deliveroo, the biggest listing of the year, plummeted after many major institutional investors steered clear.

Founded in 2013 in the university city of Cambridge, Darktrace uses AI to understand IT networks and detect attacks by identifying unusual behaviour from within.

It was backed by tech entrepreneur Michael Lynch, who played a key role in building the company and was on its board until 2018.

Lynch is fighting a U.S. extradition request to face fraud charges related to the sale of Autonomy, a software company he founded and led, to Hewlett-Packard.

He is also waiting for the verdict of a multi-billion dollar civil claim by HP at London’s High Court. He denies the charges.

Darktrace detailed the risks related to Lynch in its registration documents, including reputational risk and potential liability in relation to possible money laundering, although the company said the risk of the latter was low.

The tech company offered 66 million shares in the IPO, valued at 165 million pounds and representing 9.6% of the capital.

It raised gross proceeds of about 143.4 million pounds by selling new shares, excluding any over-allotment option, to accelerate product development and strengthen its balance sheet.

CEO Poppy Gustafsson said the company owed much gratitude to Lynch’s team at Invoke Capital for their pivotal role in the early years, “without which today’s success would not have been possible”.

Other investors in the company included Talis Capital, Hoxton Ventures, Summit Partners, KKR, TenEleven Ventures, Insight Partners, Vitruvian and Balderton Capital.

($1 = 0.7177 pounds)


Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan violence: Deadly clash amid water dispute

At least 13 people have been killed, scores injured and 10,000 evacuated after a water dispute led to some of the worst clashes in years on a disputed Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border.

Clashes started on Wednesday when people from both sides hurled stones at each other after surveillance cameras were installed at a water facility.

A truce and troop pull-back was agreed but some shooting appeared to continue.

The casualty figures are from the Kyrgyz side with Tajik numbers unclear.

Local media there reported that 10 people had died and 90 were injured.

Pictures on social media show some buildings on fire.

The disputed area is around the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan. The Kyrgyz figures on evacuations and casualties say a young girl is among the dead.

The governor of Batken said the two sides had agreed that the water surveillance equipment should be removed, but that Tajikistan then refused.

Reports say border guards quickly became involved.

Military units from both sides began exchanging fire on Thursday, but later that day a ceasefire was announced to take effect from 20:00 (14:00 GMT), with armed forces returning to their bases.

A representative of the police in Batken told the AFP news agency by telephone that shooting had continued during the night “but not intensively”.

Shooting occurred “between both military units and civilians”, he said.

Poor demarcation of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border has led to a number of clashes since the two countries became independent in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

On Friday, Tajikistan acknowledged the ceasefire in a statement published by its state information service.


UK financial advisers still shun ETFs, data show

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The UK financial advisory market continues to elude exchange traded funds, new data show, as platforms lack the functionality to cheaply add them to popular model portfolios.

While intermediaries have increased their allocations to passive funds, ETFs are struggling to gain traction with financial advisers in the UK.

ETF providers had hoped that regulatory reforms would prompt ETF assets to grow in the UK retail market, but sales of ETFs among UK advisers still lag inflows to index-tracking mutual funds.

ETF net inflows via investment platforms used by financial advisers totalled £615m in 2020, compared with £6.1bn for passive funds overall, according to data from ISS Market Intelligence.

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While gross inflows to ETFs accounted for 2.4 per cent of UK platform sales last year, passive funds garnered a 21.1 per cent share.

Simon Hynes, head of retail distribution for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Legal & General Investment Management, said that when LGIM established an ETF business in 2017, he expected independent financial advisers’ use of ETFs to change over the following 18 months to two years.

But IFAs are “still not big users of ETFs”, said Hynes, who retires this month.

According to experts, there are several problems, including platforms’ charges, as well as difficulties in buying fractional ETF shares, that are slowing ETF growth in the UK.

Hynes said almost all adviser-facing platforms now offer ETFs, which was previously not the case. However, two of the “big guns” had “only recently” had the technology to host ETFs and “even then” some platforms’ charges favoured the use of funds over ETFs, he said.

“I think it will take time for the ETF structure to be seen as equally popular as funds in the UK,” he added.

Heather Hopkins, managing director at research consultancy NextWealth, said some platforms charge to deal ETFs, which “makes them more expensive than [UK-domiciled open-ended investment companies] — particularly if portfolios are being rebalanced”.

“Justifying a one-time fee for a superior product is one thing, but if the costs snowball each quarter [with rebalancing] that can have a significant impact,” Hopkins said.

Richard Bradley, research director at Platforum, agreed, saying: “Few adviser platforms charge for fund transactions, but most charge for listed securities. Rebalancing models containing ETFs can therefore be prohibitively expensive.”

Bradley said a second problem was the lack of fractional dealing on some platforms that made ETFs “harder for advisers to manage”.

“Both of these issues have been exacerbated by a rise in use of model portfolios,” he said.

Hopkins also said that “most new money is invested into model portfolios”, which was managed either by discretionary investment managers or financial advice firms.

Discretionary fund managers, for example, manage overall portfolios of assets, rather than individual client accounts. As a result, when the portfolio is rebalanced each quarter it can result in fractional trades for smaller individual client accounts, she said.

“Until [fractional ETF dealing] functionality is available across all platforms, take-up of ETFs will be limited in model portfolios,” Hopkins said.

Praemium, an investment platform, said: “A legislative change to enable company shares to be held fractionally would set a level playing field.”

Praemium added that the requirement under the Mifid regulation to have a legal entity identifier for exchange traded assets “may also have led to [intermediaries] remaining with funds as opposed to ETFs” due to the “additional work to request and continue to renew the [legal entity identifier]”.

However, the accessibility of ETFs on platforms is also a chicken-and-egg situation, according to Bradley.

“Platforms have seen little demand from advisers for ETF functionality, so it’s not really been a priority. Advisers have been happy to use index funds instead,” he said.

Meanwhile wealth managers have been a more profitable route for ETF providers in the UK.

Bradley said ETF adoption in wealth managers’ bespoke portfolios was more common as these were “less constrained” by platforms and models.

Hynes said UK wealth managers and global financial institutions were using ETFs and funds “interchangeably”.