World this week
India's top court accused state governments of "passing the buck" on air pollution and failing to take action to tackle Delhi's toxic smog. The Supreme Court said authorities were only interested in "gimmicks", rather than concrete measures to combat pollution levels. Levels of dangerous particles in the air - known as PM2.5 - are at well over 10 times safe limits in the capital. City authorities have responded by launching a car rationing system.
"Delhi is choking every year and we are unable to do anything," said Supreme Court Justice Arun Misha. "The state machinery is not acting... They are passing the buck to each other... Everybody is interested in gimmicks and elections." From 4 to 15 November, cars with odd or even number plates will only be allowed on the roads on alternate days, officials said. Such a system has been used before but it is not clear if it helps lower pollution levels.
The US official whose whistleblower complaint led to the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump offered to communicate directly with Republicans on the intelligence committee leading the inquiry, his lawyers said. The action was in response to Republican efforts, led by Trump, to unmask the whistleblower, a member of the US intelligence community whose identity has not been released, lawyer Mark Zaid said.
Republicans have "sought to expose our client's identity which could jeopardize their safety, as well as that of their family," Zaid wrote on Twitter. News of the offer came as Trump called on the whistleblower to come forward, in a stark departure from norms in such cases. Later outside the White House, Trump called the whistleblower an "Obama guy" and a fraud and said, "The whistleblower should be revealed."
Saudi Arabia formally began an initial public offering of a sliver of oil giant Saudi Aramco after years of delay. An approval by Saudi Arabia's Capital Market Authority served as the starting gun for an IPO promised by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman since 2016. But unlike traditional IPOs, Saudi Aramco offered no hoped-for price range for its shares nor any idea how much of the firm would be offered to investors on Riyadh's Tadawul stock exchange.
Analysts say the kingdom likely hopes local investors will push its share prices toward a desired $2 trillion valuation and buoy that price ahead of any possible further listing abroad. Saudi Aramco also made a point in its filings to highlight its profitability and low costs through newly released data once held as a state secret by the Al Saud royal family, euphemistically referred to by the company as its "current shareholder."
A 16-nation trade initiative backed by China is pushing ahead as India, facing fierce domestic opposition to its market-opening requirements, stands aside. Leaders of countries involved in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership said that they had resolved differences but India was not in agreement. Seven years after talks began, the signing of a final deal was pushed back to next year.
India has balked at exposing its farmers and factories to more foreign competition, especially from China. A statement issued after leaders met said, "India has significant outstanding issues, which remain unresolved." The other RCEP members include the 10 nations belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. It does not include the United States, despite America's $1.9 trillion in trade with the region.
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