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Study says China-backed dam would destroy Mekong

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The Mekong is the world’s 12th longest river and runs some 2,700 miles from the Tibet plateau in the north through China, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia spilling through the delta of South Vietnam into the South China Sea.

Giles Clarke | Getty Images

The Mekong is the world’s 12th longest river and runs some 2,700 miles from the Tibet plateau in the north through China, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia spilling through the delta of South Vietnam into the South China Sea.

A Chinese-backed plan for Cambodia to build the Mekong River’s biggest dam would destroy fisheries that feed millions and worsen tensions with Vietnam, the downstream country with most to lose from dams on the waterway, according to a three-year study commissioned by the Cambodian government.

The report, posted this month on the website of the U.S.-based organization that conducted the study, said the Sambor dam would “generate large power benefits to Cambodia, but at the probable cost of the destruction of the Mekong fishery, and the certain enmity of Vietnam.”

It said the dam designed by China Southern Power Grid Co. would have a 620 square kilometer (239 square mile) reservoir and dwarf the biggest dam currently being built on the Mekong, the Xayaburi dam in Laos, which was bitterly opposed by environmentalists for years.

The experts at the Natural Heritage Institute who authored the report, submitted to the Cambodian government late last year, recommended it defer the project while studying “better” alternatives such as using solar power to augment existing hydroelectric dams.

Alternative sites upstream where the Mekong separates into several channels are possible but either financially unfeasible or only marginally less destructive than the site currently envisaged for the 2,600 megawatt dam, the study said. Possible mitigation measures are either unproven or have a poor track record, it said.

The dam would block fish migration from the giant Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia which is crucial for reproduction and replenishing what scientists say is the world’s most productive freshwater fishery. It would also prevent riverbed sediment that fertilizes the Mekong Delta rice bowl from moving down river, a particular problem for Vietnam where delta farmlands are being destroyed by saltwater incursion from the sea.

“The dam and the reservoir would create a barrier that would be devastating for the migratory fish stocks,” the study said.

It also warned that a population of about 80 critically endangered Irrawaddy river dolphins would likely be wiped out because the deep river pools they use as a dry season refuge would become filled with sediment blocked by the dam.

Cambodia’s government, closely allied with China, its northern neighbor, and the recipient of substantial Chinese aid and investment, has not publicly commented on the report.

Seven dams that China built on the Mekong headwaters in its territory are already a headache for Southeast Asian countries, reducing the amount of sediment floating downstream by as much as half, according to researchers.

The Chinese dams were blamed for exacerbating a Southeast Asian drought in 2016, but countries in the region are pressing ahead with plans for Chinese companies to build a slew of other Mekong dams to meet growing demand for energy. Laos, one of the poorest countries in Asia, is pinning development hopes on becoming a source of power for its neighbors.



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Tesla hires new chief financial officer for China

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Elon Musk, Chairman, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors, addresses a press conference to declare that the Tesla Motors releases v7.0 System in China on a limited basis for its Model S, which will enable self-driving features such as Autosteer for a select group of beta testers on October 23, 2015 in Beijing, China.

VCG | Getty Images

Elon Musk, Chairman, CEO and Product Architect of Tesla Motors, addresses a press conference to declare that the Tesla Motors releases v7.0 System in China on a limited basis for its Model S, which will enable self-driving features such as Autosteer for a select group of beta testers on October 23, 2015 in Beijing, China.

Tesla Inc on Friday announced a number of key executive hires including former GE and General Motors executive James Zhou as its China CFO and Neeraj Manrao, a former Apple executive, as director of energy manufacturing.

Zhou previously served as CFO for Asia Pacific and India for Ingersoll Rand.

“We’re excited to welcome a group of such talented people as we continue to ramp (up) Model 3,” Tesla said in a blog post, adding it would announce more hires in the coming days.

China contributed around 17 percent of Tesla’s total revenue in 2017 and the electric carmaker has said it plans to build a gigafactory in the country.

The company on Wednesday slashed up to $14,000 off its Model X in China after Beijing announced major tariff cuts for imported automobiles.

Tesla has seen the departure of several senior executives and is also flattening its management structure as it seeks to improve efficiency and clear up production bottlenecks related to its new Model 3 sedan.



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Foot Locker shares are jumping 16% after a blowout earnings report

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Shoppers and pedestrians pass in front of a Foot Locker store on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shoppers and pedestrians pass in front of a Foot Locker store on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California.

Shares of shoe retailer Foot Locker surged Friday after the company reported earnings well ahead of Wall Street expectations.

The stock rallied more than 16 after the New York-based company reported adjusted earnings per share at $1.45 for the first quarter, above consensus estimates of $1.25 from FactSet.

The shoe store posted revenue of $2.03 billion, which also beat forecasts.

“The flow of premium product continues to improve, with increasing breadth and depth in the most sought-after styles from our key vendors,” CEO Richard Johnson said in a statement. “This led to first quarter results which were above our expectations. With the strength of our strategic vendor partnerships and our central position in youth culture, we continue to believe that we are poised to inflect to positive comparable-store sales growth.”

Foot Locker has been in hot water in recent months as Wall Street grows increasingly concerned with retailers. Fears that e-commerce giant Amazon may seek to expand into apparel have made it a tough year for Foot Locker shares, now down more than 22 percent over the past 12 months.

Last June, popular shoemaker Nike confirmed plans to sell a limited product assortment on Amazon’s U.S. website.

According to a 2017 survey by UBS, 13 percent of respondents indicated that they prefer to purchase Nike products on Amazon compared with the 9 percent who said they prefer to purchase the same products at Foot Locker.



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Roku shares jump after short-seller Citron reverses negative call

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People pass by a video sign display with the logo for Roku Inc, a Fox-backed video streaming firm, that held it's IPO at the Nasdaq Marketsite in New York, U.S., September 28, 2017.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

People pass by a video sign display with the logo for Roku Inc, a Fox-backed video streaming firm, that held it’s IPO at the Nasdaq Marketsite in New York, U.S., September 28, 2017.

Shares of Roku spiked Friday after short-seller Citron Research said it is reversing its negative view on the maker of streaming players, given a major shift away from the traditional cable television subscription model.

“The move to cutting the cord and [over-the-top] advertising is real and it is a megatrend that Citron not only does not want to be short, but at this valuation I want to be long,” the research firm, headed by Andrew Left, said in a report Friday.

Roku shares briefly climbed more than 4.5 percent before paring gains to trade around $37 a share. The stock is down 28 percent for the year so far.

After the company went public in late November, the stock soared above $50 and Citron said it tweeted the stock would fall back to $28.

“BUT NOW EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED, AND IT IS TIME TO REEVALUATE,” the report said, in red capital letters.



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