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Colombian court maintains ban on aerial spraying of glyphosate

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Colombia’s Constitutional Court on Thursday maintained a judicial ban on the aerial spraying of illicit coca crops with glyphosate.

The court said that the government would first have to prove that the weed killer was not harmful to human health and the environment.

However, President Ivan Duque had asked the court to lift the ban, arguing that glyphosate, suspected of being carcinogenic, was a necessary tool in the fight against cocaine trafficking.

The government says glyphosate is the most efficient way to eradicate coca,the plant cocaine is made from.

It added that glyphosate saves lives, because it can replace manual uprooting done by soldiers who would risk stepping on mines planted by drug traffickers.

However, the court maintained the strict conditions it had set earlier, including having to provide scientific proof that glyphosate is safe and having to consult communities in areas where fumigation would take place.

The court said, the government did not need to prove the total absence of any possible harm, because that was practically impossible.

It added that the government has not provided proof of having met the conditions so far. It will be up to the National Drug Council to determine whether it does so.

Justice Minister, Margarita Cabello said the government would seek permission from the council “to use aerial spraying as one more tool in the fight against illegal crops.’’

The cocaine that can be manufactured in that area is worth 2.7 billion dollars on the local market.

The previous government suspended spraying with glyphosate in 2015 after the Constitutional Court said it could carry health risks.

Officials in the south-western department of Narino, which produces the most coca among Colombia’s 32 departments, told dpa glyphosate is not an effective means of dissuading farmers from growing the lucrative plant.

Narino Governor Camilo Romero said in an interview , about 3.8 million litres of glyphosate were sprayed in Narino between 2005 and 2014, but the surface under coca cultivation increased by 4,000 hectares during that time.

“Families that live off illegal crops, after their land is sprayed, move to another territory in order to sow coca again,’’ Romero said.

The governor also disputed claims by the government that glyphosate is cheap adding that eradication with glyphosate costs 72 million pesos (23,000 dollars) per hectare, twice as much as subsidising voluntary crop substitution.

Farmers near the port city of Tumaco told dpa that previous glyphosate sprayings had killed their food crops while coca plants survived.

“Bees died, parakeets died. Coca was the only one of our crops that resisted the glyphosate,” farmer Javier Ortega said.

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Portuguese fuel tanker drivers threaten new strike in September

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Threat

The Hazardous Material Drivers’ Union (SNMMP), issued a notice of the workers’ scheduled strike, saying that it would be a standstill overtime, weekends and holidays.

The president, SNMMP, Francisco Sao Bento, told newsmen that with the strike, it had become clear that companies were built on top of these workers overtime work.

Bento added that some of the drivers already summed up to 500 hours of extra work in 2019 alone.

The development came after Tuesday’s failure over pay rise in negotiations between SNMMP and the National Association of Public Road Hauliers (Antram) under the first meditation of the Portuguese government.

SNMMP, however, commenced a nationwide strike for indefinite period on Aug. 12, but later terminated the action on Aug. 18.

YI/AIB

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More than 4,000 photographers to attend Pingyao Int’l Photography Festival

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Photography

The event which was scheduled for Sept. 19 to Sept. 25 will see more than 12,000 artworks from around the world at one of China’s best-preserved ancient towns, in the northern province of Shanxi.

There will be a total of 628 exhibitions held during the festival, featuring nearly 5,000 works from students around the globe.

Russian photographer Vladimir Vyatkin, who has won multiple World Press Photo awards, will also attend the event.

Launched in 2001, the annual PIP festival has been running for 19 years.

The festival is not only an event for photographers of all skill levels, from the novice to the seasoned photographer, but is also a rare event for those simply interested in photography. This includes both curiosity-driven local residents and tourists from far and wide, both within and outside of China.

In addition, a number of academic activities – from forums to conferences to training courses to special workshops – will be held during the festival.

A special feature for photographers at the Pingyao International Photography Festival is that the arrangers of the festival maintain a staff of about 20 professional photographers to greet newcomers and show them around.

Not surprisingly, the festival has a great buzz filled with excitement, especially for photographers.

Established in 2001, the Pingyao International Photography Festival has been running for more than 15years and just seems to get bigger and better with each passing year.

 

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Israeli, South Korea conclude negotiations on free trade deal

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Israeli, South Korea conclude negotiations on free trade deal

The official agreement is expected to be signed within less than a year.

The announcement was made in the presence of the South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee and Israeli Economy and Industry Minister Eli Cohen.

Israel hopes that the deal with South Korea will provide a competitive advantage and facilitate trade for Israeli exporters in the South Korean market.

The Israeli Economy and Industry Ministry said in a statement “the annual benefit to the economy will facilitate a better jumping-off point for Israeli exports.’’

Under the agreement, some 95 per cent of the Israeli exports to South Korea will be exempted from customs duties.

Some of the items excluded are machinery and electrical equipment, mechanical devices, fertilizer, medical equipment, cosmetics, plastics, metals, fruit juices, and wine.

Moreso, customs duties will also be lowered on South Korean goods imported into Israel, includes, automobiles and automobile parts, refrigerators, medical equipment, electronic components, toys and games, plastics, and chemicals.

Israel hopes that the agreement will further increase bilateral trade, which amounted to about 2.5 billion dollars in 2018, an almost 15-percent increase over 2017.

Edited by Silas Nwoha

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Number of S.Korean visitors to Japan drops amid bilateral tensions

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Number of S.Korean visitors to Japan drops amid bilateral tensions

Visitors

According to (JTA), visitors from South Korea to Japan in July fell to 7.6 per cent, owing to South Korea’s economic situation and deterioration in ties between both countries.

A wartime labor dispute between Japan and South Korea that spilled over into a tit-for-tat trade row has seen flights connecting cities in South Korea with those in Japan reduced or cancelled.

The Japanese government is aiming to attract 40 million foreign visitors in 2020, with tourism becoming a growing economic pillar.

However, Japan faces a myriad of downside risks to its economy from a growing demographic crisis.

The JTA said, the falling numbers of South Korean visitors will be of concern to the government and its tourist industry.

Visitors from South Korea comprise 20 per cent of all visitors to Japan from overseas, and the convenience of travel between South Korea and Japan’s Kyushu region in particular has seen numbers flourish in the past.

JTA said China ranked top with 1,050,500 visitors, an increase of 19.5 percent, with China’s Taiwan coming in third after South Korea with 459,200 visitors, a drop of 0.3 percent.

Visitors from China’s Hong Kong, meanwhile, dropped 4.4 percent to 216,800, the agency said.

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China says British Hong Kong consulate employee detained in Shenzhen

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Detention

Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said the person violated China’s public security law but didn’t go into details.

“Frankly speaking, this is not a diplomatic issue, Shuang added.

The detainment comes as China-Britain ties are growing tense over pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, a former British colony, over the past few months.

Britain expressed concern on Tuesday over reports that the consulate employee had gone missing in mainland China and may have been detained.

The man was identified by Hong Kong media as Simon Cheng Man-Kit, a trade and investment officer at the Scottish Development International section of the consulate.

Cheng had visited mainland China on business and had been unaccounted for since Aug. 8, the Hong Kong Free Press newspaper reported.

Cheng’s Taiwanese girlfriend said his last message had been sent as he was approaching the border on a high-speed train, according to news outlet HK01.

Cheng is a permanent resident of Hong Kong and had studied in Taiwan and Britain before returning to the Asian financial hub.

It was not known whether he holds a diplomatic passport and what documents he used to enter mainland China.

Hong Kong has seen a wave of protests, sparked on June 9 by opposition to a bill that would allow extraditions to China.

The city, which was returned to China in 1997, is guaranteed a degree of independence under the “one country, two systems’’ principle.

But many are concerned that Beijing is encroaching on its freedoms.

Images of Cheng were added to a wall of a post.

Its notes and posters used by the protesters at Yuen Long MTR station in Hong Kong, where a silent sit-in was held late Wednesday, one month after commuters and anti-government protesters were attacked by a group of armed men there.

“I think his case just reflects what it is going to be like if the extradition bill gets passed,’’ Kay Ho said.

The consulate worker’s detention speaks to the fears of many in Hong Kong, even after the extradition bill was shelved in response to the city’s massive protest movement.

“Of course, everyone is worried about it – if we have to go to work in mainland China, we might be simply detained for wearing a black shirt, or have something about this movement on our phones,’’ said protester Kelly Lai, who attended the sit-in with her family.

AIB

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

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