Aarhus Becomes First City to Use Sewage Energy to Power Its Water Needs

A photo of a sewage canal.

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Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark, has made history today—it is the first city to power its water needs using raw sewage. Marselisborg Wastewater Treatment Plant is now able to generate more than 150% of the electricity required to run the plant. The excess power will be used to pump drinking water around the city.

Denmark’s breakthrough is attracting a lot of attention from around the world, with cities as far away as Chicago and San Francisco taking a keen interest in the development. But experts warn that just because Denmark did it, doesn’t mean it will be easy for other cities.

“Replicating Denmark’s experience and performance will not be easy,” said Molly Walton, Energy Analyst at International Energy Agency. Walton warns that the upfront costs alone can increase the price of water, making it a deal breaker for many cities.

And expensive it is. According to New Scientist, upgrading the facilities at Marselisborg cost nearly €3 million! That converts to $3,197,925 in U.S. dollars.

Here’s a breakdown of how it works. The plant uses biogas to generate energy. Biogas is gases that are created via the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. In this case, the organic matter consists of wastewater and raw sewage. The gas that is created is then burned to generate heat and electricity.

“We don’t add any extra organic material like from restaurants or energy from wind turbines or solar panels,” said Lars Schøder, General Manager of Aarhus Water.

Although the technology isn’t new, no other city has done this before because of the high upfront costs. But experts at Aarhus Water believe the investment will pay for itself in as little as five years. They believe that the maintenance savings combined with the sale of surplus energy will be enough to make their investment worthwhile.

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Lebanon Pardons Rapists If They Marry Their Victims

A young girl bloody and bandaged.

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A new campaign by activists is focused on raising awareness about Lebanon’s legalization of rape. According to The 961, only 1% of Lebanese citizens are aware that there’s a law that exonerates rapists if they marry their victim. It’s called Article 522, and it’s in the Lebanese penal law.

But ABAAD, a non-government organization located in Beirut, Lebanon, is trying to change that. ABAAD produced a video to try and raise awareness about the law. The video (watch here) shows a young girl bloody, bruised, and bandaged beneath her white wedding gown. The message is loud and clear: victims of sexual violence shouldn’t be revictimized by being forced to marry their abuser.

The video already has close to one million views and it was only uploaded two days ago. It’s quickly going viral, which is precisely what this gender equality NGO wants.

But according to Danielle Hoyek, a lawyer who works for ABAAD, not everyone in Lebanon supports getting rid of the law.

“There are several opinions. Some wanted [the Article] to be amended and others [wanted] a new draft law. There are many conflicting viewpoints,” Hoyek stated.

According to a study conducted by ABAAD, 73% of Lebanese believe that the law is more concerned with family honor than seeking actual justice.

“This article affects a woman’s dignity and reflects society’s perception of women as inferior,” Hoyek stated.

The law is part of a series of statutes called “Assault on Honor” which touch on multiple other offenses including kidnapping, indecency, seduction, and violation of women’s spaces. In many countries within the Middle East, a woman’s honor is directly linked to her virginity, and a woman who has premarital sex can quickly become shunned.

Many are surprised to learn that Lebanon still has laws like this in place, considering that the country is far more progressive than their neighboring nations. It will be interesting to see if the video inspires any kind of change.

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Private Equity Pushes to Hire More Veterans

Veterans lined up near flags

KKR is just one of many private equity companies focusing on hiring veterans. Image: Infinite_Eye / Shutterstock

On November 14, several investment firms teamed up to host the 2016 Veteran’s Summit. Apollo, Blackstone, Carlyle, KKR, and TPG kicked off the two-day summit with discussions on how the private equity industry can support service members. All five companies agreed that private equity firms must put special programs in place specifically for military personnel.

KKR is already ahead of the game on that one. Co-founded by George Roberts and Henry Kravis, KKR launched its Vets@Work initiative in 2011. So far, the Vets@Work program is responsible for having hired more than 41,750 veterans and military spouses.

No one is more proud of this than General (Ret.) David Petraeus. Petraeus joined KKR in 2013 as the Chairman of the KKR Global Institute. He knows first hand the skills and values that service members bring forth.

“Hiring veterans is not just the right thing to do to help those who have served our nation in a time of war; it is also the smart thing to do from a business perspective,” Petraeus wrote on the KKR blog. Petraeus went on to cite leadership, teamwork, and discipline as just some of the merits of hiring veteran workers.

Daniel A. D’Aniello, Co-founder and Chairman of The Carlyle Group, couldn’t agree more. As a U.S. Navy veteran, finding employment for service members is an issue that hits close to home for him.

“Carlyle and our portfolio companies are committed to supporting and fostering our veterans’ career development and retention. This summit is a significant step in advancing that support to America’s veterans and their families,” D’Aniello stated.

Together, these five companies are making it easier for service members to find employment once their contracts are up. By opening the door to the private equity industry, they are making the transition to civilian life that much smoother. What’s more, they are inspiring other industries to follow in their footsteps.

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Mental Illness Rumors Surface After Kanye West Admitted to Hospital

A photo of Kanye West.

Photo credit: Liam Goodner / Shutterstock

On Monday, November 21, emergency responders answered a disturbance call involving American rapper Kanye West. When emergency personnel arrived on scene, they took West to the hospital. While the reason for his hospitalization is still unknown, a source close to West claims it is due to sleep deprivation and exhaustion.

“He is exhausted and currently dealing with sleep deprivation,” the anonymous source told People Magazine. “He went to the hospital at will under the advice of his physician. He’s fine.”

The incident follows a bizarre string of behavior displayed by West lately, causing some to speculate that the rapper has mental health issues. On Saturday, during a concert in San Jose, California, West went on a pro-Trump rant. While the rapper admits he didn’t vote, he says that if he did, he would have casted his support for Donald Trump.

He also said that black people need to “stop focusing on racism” and accept it as a part of life. It was a controversial statement coming from a black man, and his sentiments angered many fans.

Not long after, West abruptly canceled the remaining shows on his Saint Pablo Tour, costing him an estimated $30 million. What no one is talking about though, is how the incident comes shortly after his wife, Kim Kardashian, was robbed at gunpoint.

Kardashian, who was scheduled to make her first public appearance since she was attacked, canceled her event when she heard about West’s medical emergency. It’s more than plausible that the married couple is struggling to cope with the incident. It could even be that West has a drug addiction that has finally caught up to him.

At this point, these theories are just that: theories. It’s still too early to tell what exactly is going on, but whatever it is, it’s something more than just “sleep deprivation.”

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Trump Likely To Get Tough in South China Sea Maritime Dispute

An image depicting the disputed territory of the South China Sea.

Image credit: Shutterstock

With the surprising election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency comes an era of uncertainty in Asia and the Pacific islands.

Chinese authorities believe that outgoing President Obama’s focus on domestic matters will take the South China Sea maritime dispute out of the nation’s crosshairs, at least in the short term.

However, many people who follow U.S. policy in Asia expect Trump to make a show of force as soon as he enters office. According to Sean King, senior vice president with Park Strategies, that show might include passage of U.S. naval ships through the sea to show it is open to all countries, despite the fact that China claims ownership of the entire sea.

There is currently a lot of uncertainty in the Philippines, one of the United States’ most loyal allies in Southeast Asia. Recently, President Rodrigo Duterte visited China and said that he plans to align with China rather than the U.S.

However, shortly after Trump was elected, Duterte reassured Filipinos and other nations that he would honor treaties with the U.S., including a mutual defense treaty.

Some Philippine officials expressed concern about the two countries’ relationship.

“I think if we go by the indications of what [Trump] had evidenced during the elections, which is to project protectionism and isolationism, I think it may not be the same as before in terms of the closeness of relations between our two countries,” said former Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario. “I suspect that the focus on Asia will be less on defense and security and probably more on economic relations.”

Meanwhile, in China, there are simultaneous hopes for an easing of tensions and concerns about the future.

Chinese scholars suspect that the Obama administration will, in its last days, focus much more on domestic affairs and leave international business at its current status quo. “Before the next U.S. president comes into power, the South China Sea will be at least temporarily peaceful,” said Wu Shicun, head of the government-affiliated National Institute for South China Sea Studies.

Zhang Zhexin, a U.S. affairs expert with the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, says, “President-elect Trump is expected to play tough in the Asia Pacific region in the first half of 2017 to portray a powerful presidential image. Since the communication channels between Beijing and Trump’s team are not smooth, China will play hardball as well. As a result, the probability of a military collision will increase.”

During the campaign, many analysts believed that Trump would focus more on domestic affairs and pull away from the international arena. But now, based on commentaries by Trump’s inner circle and Randy Forbes being floated as secretary of the Navy, that’s not so clear.

“Coming out of the campaign, there was the perception that he was going to pull back and not get entangled overseas,” said Sam Crane, a professor of Chinese politics at Williams College. Instead, Crane said, Trump “is going to be as, or even more, assertive than Obama.”

Trump campaign advisers Alexander Gray and Peter Navarro said that Obama’s actions in the South China Sea were merely “token gestures” and that under Trump the Navy would be expanded to “reassure our allies that the United States remains committed in the long term to its traditional role as guarantor of the liberal order in Asia.”

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