Global Scan

US Secretary of State Kerry stops for a selfie on his climate change tour

Kerry crop.jpg

US Secretary of State John Kerry (C) takes a selfie with a group of students before delivering a speech on climate change in Jakarta February 16, 2014.

Credit:

REUTERS/Evan Vucci/Pool

On Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry brought his message that climate change is "the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction" to Indonesian students, civic leaders and government officials in Jakarta. He warned that Indonesia was particularly vulnerable to rising seas and powerful storms caused by climate change.

The day before, Kerry signed an agreement with China on steps to combat climate change. The New York Times reports the two countries will work together to lower emissions from heavy-duty vehicles, improve power grid technology and make buildings more energy efficient, among other steps. China is the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases, followed by the US and then Indonesia.

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In Italy, who needs an election to govern?

Last week, Italy's government collapsed after Prime Minister Enrico Letta lost support for his governing coalition. So it is now up to Letta's erstwhile ally, Matteo Renzi, to form a new government. In Italy's parliamentary system, that can happen without an election. 

Matteo Renzi is young — just 39-years-old — and is currently the mayor of Florence, with no national political experience. PRI’s The World reports that Renzi had argued that politicians needed a popular mandate. So his decision to take power without holding an election was a surprise, though perhaps not a big one, since this will be Italy's third government in three years.

Women show their underwear to protest a trade law

The UK's Telegraph reports that Kazakh police briefly arrested and fined three women on Sunday after they tried to put their lacy underwear on a statue in the city of Almaty. The act was to protest a law that will effectively end sales of lacy underwear throughout the Eurasian Customs Union that Russia has established with partners Kazakhstan and Belarus.

The law had good intentions, according to The Telegraph — to protect consumers from cheap materials that might hurt health. But it's wording means 90 percent of underwear with lace, from high to low-end, will become illegal on July 1, unless the law is changed.

If only politicians were this thrifty with our money...

Several German government ministers are regularly sleeping overnight in their offices to save money rather than rent an apartment in Berlin. The German website thelocal.de cites Der Spiegel magazine as its source and says ministers typically earn about 14,000 Euros (over $19,000 US) a month.

Family Minister Manuela Schwesig was named as one of the ministers. She has a room in the ministry which contains a bed, a chest of drawers and a shower. Ministers do not have to pay for the accommodation, though they must declare use of the rooms as a “fringe benefit” on their tax returns.

Israelis court their traffic cops, with love notes

In a small country without much parking, you need a strategy to avoid tickets. So Israelis leave notes on their cars. “You have to be, like, really, really, especially nice,” one Israel woman says in a story by Daniel Estrin for PRI’s The World. “It’s all, ‘dear’ and ‘thank you’ and ‘love’ and ‘here’s my phone number.’”

Most notes give reasons for parking illegally, like dropping kids off at school or sitting shiva, a Jewish ritual of mourning those who have died. One letter written a few years ago was even made into a song. PRI.org has photos and quotes a parking cop on which notes work and which don't.

What we're seeing on social

Weather around the world

Thanks to the long-lasting and extreme cold weather in the upper midwestern US, tourists are getting a rare treat. With over 90 percent of Lake Superior covered in ice, people can walk to explore the caves and ice formations along the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore of Lake Superior, near Cornucopia, Wisconsin.

Apostles ice

Sightseers look at a frozen rock face along the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore of Lake Superior, the world's largest freshwater lake, near Cornucopia, Wisconsin February 14, 2014.

Credit:

REUTERS/Eric Miller

 

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