World News Brief, Thursday August 2

Power returns to India after world's biggest blackout; China calls on US to reverse sanctions against Chinese Bank of Kunlun Co; mass violence in Burma, reveals Human Rights Watch; anti-government protest in Darfur kills eight; France, Italy want more power for euro rescue fund; and more

Top of the Agenda: Power Returns in India Following Blackout

Electric power was restored in India today after malfunctions with three of the nation's power grids left more than half of the population without electricity yesterday (NYT). Approximately 670 million people--10 percent of the world's population--were plunged into darkness, while coal miners were trapped underground and transportation ground to a halt. Limited rainfall may have adversely affected the power delivery of hydroelectric dams, or farmers experiencing a drought may have been using more power to run water pumps, federal officials speculated. U.S. power experts suggested that critical circuit breakers on the grid may have been neglected. The demand for power in India far surpasses the supply, with around 300 million people without access to electric power.


"The blackout seems to have been selected by a malign God to exhibit yet another glaring vulnerability: rotten infrastructure. The technical fault appears to lie in the national transmission grid that links together the local electricity networks. Officials have suggested it may have been 'tripped' by a surge in demand for power. But in truth India's power sector has been a disaster waiting to happen after years of neglect," says the Economist.

"India is an increasingly rich country that fails to invest in its sources of wealth: roads, health, schools, power. The result is a nation that has prospered (in parts and very unequally) despite the state, not because of it. Middle-class Indians have sent their children to English-medium private schools, who have gone on to jobs at multinationals who lay on private healthcare, private transport--and private schooling," says this Guardian editorial.

"Throw open the generation, transmission and distribution of power to more competition, which introduces efficiency. Often insufficient coal supply for thermal power plants is the problem. Coal India's monopoly over mining coal needs to be broken, which will bring efficiency in the production of coal as well. Power theft, which receives political patronage but disincentivises the huge investments needed by the power sector, must be curbed," says this Times of India editorial.



China Calls on U.S. to Reverse Bank Sanctions

China today called on the United States to lift sanctions against the Chinese Bank of Kunlun Co., a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Corp., which the White House imposed against it yesterday under a 2010 law for the bank's involvement in Iran's energy sector (WSJ).

BURMA: In the wake of ethnic clashes between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in June, security forces "unleashed a campaign of violence and mass roundups" (Reuters) against the Rohingya, Human Rights Watch revealed in a new report today.



Violent protest in Darfur kills eight

France and Italy want more power for euro rescue fund


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