Solar power!
July 22, 2014

On Sunday, the eldest resident of Dharnai, India, flipped a switch and the village officially joined the age of electricity. But Dharnai, in India's northeastern Bihar state, did more than join a reliable energy grid — it became India's first village powered entirely by solar electricity. A few months ago, Greenpeace and two other NGOs that work in the area (BASIX and CEED) started building a solar power micro-grid to serve the village, and after a few months of testing, the autonomous 100 kilowatt system officially went online this past weekend.

The Dharnai grid serves about 450 homes, housing 2,400 residents, Greenpeace says, as well as roughly 50 businesses, streetlights, water pumps, two schools, health care center, and other public and private ventures. It has a battery to store excess electricity, for use during the sunless hours.

Germany reaching the milestone of (at least briefly) meeting more than half its electricity needs through solar is probably a bigger feat, but The Week's Ryan Cooper argues that projects like this in India and China will do more over the long term to counter the harmful climate effects of fossil fuel consumption.

And bringing reliable electricity to a town or village for the first time feels like a much bigger deal than switching from nuclear to solar power. It changes every aspect of life, from safety and health to entertainment and economic progress. Earlier this month, Andrew Satter at the Center for American Progress detailed what getting power for the first time does to villages in India, and Greenpeace does something similar in this video from newly solar-powered Dharnai. --Peter Weber

crisis in yemen
11:10 p.m. ET

In Yemen, new pro-government forces have arrived in the port city of Aden, leading some to believe that they are ground troops from the Saudi-led coalition brought in to fight the Houthi rebels.

Saudi Arabia says it has not sent any ground forces to Yemen, the Los Angeles Times reports. The unit, thought to be made up of about 50 people, including special forces operatives, joined up with members of the Southern Resistance Committees, an anti-Houthi armed group. A spokesperson for the pro-government committees in Aden told the Times the fighters were "engaged in the fights and confrontation in areas near and around Aden airport."

On Sunday, Human Rights Watch also said that the coalition likely used cluster bombs, which are banned in most countries, against the Houthis. Saudi officials have yet to comment on the allegation. Catherine Garcia

election 2016
10:30 p.m. ET
Richard Ellis/Getty Images

Dr. Ben Carson is the latest Republican to announce he is entering the presidential race.

"I'm willing to be part of the equation and therefore, I'm announcing my candidacy for President of the United States of America," the retired neurosurgeon told WKRC in Ohio on Sunday. "Many people have suggested to me that I should run for president, even though I'm not a politician."

Carson told WKRC he believes people want him to enter politics because "we are in a severe problem...a problematic situation." He says he is a "reluctant warrior" and thinks it's important to "have enough humility to be able to work with others to recognize you're not necessarily the expert in everything. But you can with very good advice, make good decisions." He will make an official announcement on Monday. Catherine Garcia

This just in
9:53 p.m. ET

Police in Garland, Texas, say officers shot and killed two men Sunday afternoon after they pulled up to a building and shot a Garland Independent School District officer.

The incident took place outside the Curtis Culwell Center, which is hosting the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest, a controversial event organized by the American Freedom Defense Initiative featuring cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, NBC 5 reports. The group said it held the event to take a stand against intimidation by violence. People inside the center were taken by Garland SWAT to a nearby high school, and businesses in the vicinity were evacuated. Police also searched vehicles in the center's parking lot, looking for explosives.

Police said that there was a heavy law enforcement presence already at the event, with organizers spending almost $10,000 on extra security. The officer who was shot was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Catherine Garcia

protests
9:35 p.m. ET

In Tel Aviv on Sunday, thousands of people participated in a march against racism and police brutality, clashing with police on horseback by nightfall.

A majority of the demonstrators were from Israel's Jewish Ethiopian minority, and during the day the protest was mostly peaceful. Things took a turn when police arrived at Rabin Square and used water cannons and smoke in an attempt to get the demonstrators to leave, CNN reports. At least 57 officers and 12 protesters were injured, Israeli police said, and 43 protesters were arrested.

The Ethiopian community in Israel became outraged last week when footage was released showing an Ethiopian Israeli wearing an army uniform being beaten by police officers. Catherine Garcia

nepal earthquake
2:44 p.m. ET

A rescue team has saved a 101-year-old man who was buried alive after last week's devastating earthquake in Nepal.

The official death toll from the quake is more than 7,000, but Nepal's government said Sunday the toll is likely to climb "much higher," AFP reports. But in a bit of good news, 101-year-old Funchu Tamang wasn't one of the casualties.

Rescuers found Tamang buried in the collapsed remains of his home in Nuwakot's Kimtang village on Saturday. He was taken to a local hospital, where his condition was pronounced stable. Tamang suffered only minor injuries, according to AFP.

Officials also rescued three female survivors from rubble in the district of Sindhupalchowk on Sunday, but it is unclear how long they were buried. —Meghan DeMaria

2016 Watch
2:32 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wants to be the change.

In an interview with ABC's This Week on Sunday, Sanders told host George Stephanopoulos (and viewers), "Don't underestimate me." He knows that most people don't think he'll win the 2016 presidential election, and he wants to alter that mindset.

"We need a political revolution in this country, and I want to lead that effort," Sanders said. He cited his successful bids to become mayor of Burlington, Vermont, as well as being elected to the U.S. House and to the Senate, as examples of his political victories.

Sanders, an independent socialist, is after the Democratic presidential nomination, though many believe he won't defeat Hillary Clinton. "I respect her, and I like her, but... maybe it's a time for a real political shake-up in this country," Sanders said of Clinton.

In the interview, Sanders also praised Norway, Denmark, and Sweden for their democratic socialism, which he said better serve average citizens than the U.S. government does. He cited free college and free health care as examples. "The fact of the matter is, we do a lot in our country, which is good," Sanders said. "But we can learn from other countries." Meghan DeMaria

Baltimore
1:52 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

When NBC's Meet the Press host Chuck Todd asked House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) if he agreed that America is "in a national crisis when it comes to the relationship between African-Americans and law enforcement," Boehner responded, "I do."

"I think that if you look at what's happened over the course of the last year, you've just got to scratch your head," Boehner said. He also addressed the death of Freddie Gray, who died while in police custody in Baltimore, saying that "public servants should not violate the law."

Referencing the charges against the six Baltimore police officers involved in Gray's death, Boehner said that "if these charges are true, it's outrageous, and it's unacceptable." Meghan DeMaria

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