France ‘corrects’ White House video on Paris accord

Foreign ministry releases edited version of White House video that said Paris climate deal was bad for American jobs.

A day after Donald Trump decided to pull the United States out of the Paris climate deal, the French government has cheekily hit back by releasing a pointed fact-check of the US president’s claims about the landmark agreement.

France’s finance ministry posted a tweet with an embedded link to a video that amounted to a wry but very public rebuttal of Trump’s assertions.

On Thursday, the White House had tweeted, “The Paris Accord is a bad deal for Americans,” and linked to a video which said the agreement “undermines” US competitiveness and jobs, was “badly negotiated” by former president Barack Obama and “accomplishes little.”

In its surprise response on Friday, France’s foreign ministry tweeted, “We’ve seen the @WhiteHouse video about the #ParisAccord. We disagree – so we’ve changed it.”

Saudi Arabia hikes petrol prices by 40% at the pump


Saudi Arabia has raised domestic energy prices by as much as 40 percent after the world’s leading oil producer announced a record $98bn budget deficit on Monday citing rock-bottom global petroleum prices.

The budget deficit is the highest in the history of Saudi Arabia, but was not as big as some expected. The International Monetary Fund had projected a deficit of $130bn.

The kingdom has seen a sharp drop in revenues as oil prices have fallen more than 60 percent since mid-2014 to below $40 a barrel.

Public revenues are the lowest since 2009 when oil prices dived as a result of the global financial crisis. Saudi income for 2015 was 15 percent lower than projections and 42 percent less than in 2014.

In order to address the situation, the Gulf kingdom has set the price of 95 octane gasoline at 0.90 riyals ($0.24) per litre up from 0.60 riyals per litre – a hike of 40 percent. The price increase takes effect on Tuesday, the official SPA news agency said on its Twitter account.

The decision came hours after the ministry of finance said it will slash subsidies for electricity, water, diesel and kerosene over the next five years.

Voices from Syria: ‘The safest place is the frontline’


The UN Security Council this weekend agreed on a draft resolution for peace talks in Syria after five years of war in the country, large parts of which have been seized by fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

Meanwhile, Syrian residents continue to grapple with daily air strikes launched by the Syrian regime, Russia and a US-led coalition, each with different targets and aims for the country’s future.

Al Jazeera spoke with Syrian residents about how they have coped under the daily onslaught, and about their hopes for their country in the days and months ahead.

In Gaza’s Khuzaa caravans, families fear another winter


Khuzaa, Gaza Strip – As cold, late-autumn rain poured down on the Gaza Strip last month, Yousef al-Najjar watched as his makeshift home sunk deeper into the mud, its thin laminate floors cracking.

Intended as a temporary solution for residents made homeless by Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, the static caravans of Khuzaa – a cluster of around 70 tin-sheet homes on the town’s outskirts, paid for by donor nations such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – are scarcely equipped for another winter. Najjar fears that cold temperatures and increased rainfall will make the homes unlivable.


Devastating mudslide leaves 91 people missing in China


At least 91 people were missing after a huge mound of mud and construction waste collapsed at a business park in southern China and buried 33 buildings in the country’s latest industrial disaster.

Premier Li Keqiang ordered an official investigation into Sunday’s landslide in the southern boomtown of Shenzhen, just across the border from Hong Kong, which happened four months after huge chemical blasts at the northern port of Tianjin killed more than 160 people.

The mud and waste smashed into multi-storey buildings at the Hengtaiyu industrial park in the city’s northwestern Guangming New District, toppling them in collisions that sent rivers of earth skyward.

“The area affected equals 14 soccer pitches – so that gives you an idea of how big this thing was,” Al Jazeera’s Adrian Brown reported.

“Most of [the missing] are migrant workers,” he said, adding that it is usually migrant workers who are most badly affected by such disasters in China.

Speaking to the official Xinhua news agency, a local worker said: “I saw red earth and mud running towards the company building.”

Australian court’s mosque ruling draws mixed reactions

Anti-Islam protesters and left-wing protesters squared off in Bendigo in October over the planned mosque [Baris Ataymen/Reuters]

Proponents of a mosque planned for a small rural Australian city have hailed a court’s decision to refuse an appeal against the development, saying it is a win for multiculturalism.

A small, yet vocal group of opponents, however, say they will take their fight against the construction of the mosque all the way to Australia’s High Court.

The Victorian state Court of Appeal on Wednesday ruled against two residents in Bendigo, who argued the development of the mosque would have an adverse “social effect” on the community.

The farmers growing vegetables with LED lights

Green Sense Farms runs its vertical farm from a 2,800 square metre warehouse just outside Chicago. The farm is bathed in a pink glow – the effect of the thousands of red and blue LEDs – light-emitting diodes – which enable the plants to photosynthesise.

“We take weather out of the equation,” explains Robert Colangelo, founder of Green Sense Farms. “We’ve created groundhog day here. Each day is consistent and it’s the same, so we always get perfect plants every day.”

Farming in a controlled environment means the plants grow within a certain time using 98 percent less water. At Green Sense Farms it takes about 42 days to grow a head of lettuce, which is from 3 to 17 days faster than it would take if grown in a field. Now, Green Sense is figuring out different red and blue light combinations to optimise growing other plants, such as chives or basil.

We also visit FarmedHere, another indoor farm, which uses an aquaponics growing system: waste from tilapia, a freshwater fish kept in tanks, is broken down by natural bacteria into nitrates, which is then cycled to the leafy greens grown there as fertiliser.

“Nitrates are the most available plant foods on the planet, so the nutrient-rich water from the fish tanks, is moved on to the area of our growth systems where the plants live. The plants take the nutrients, they filter the water, and the water recirculates back to the fish,” explains Paul Hardej, cofounder of FarmedHere.