Sensory aspects of speech linked to language issues in autism

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Children with autism pay just as much attention to speech that doesn’t match lip movements as to speech in which sight and sound are coordinated, according to a new study1. Hannah Furfaro Spectrum Typical children prefer speech in which the sensory cues are in sync. Some people with autism have trouble learning to speak and understand words. Some people with the condition have minimal verbal skills or don’t speak at all. The new work suggests that these problems may be partially rooted ... Read More »

Russia Should Go Beyond Humanitarian Corridors in Syria

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Russia’s proposal for humanitarian corridors for Eastern Ghouta and Rukban camp have little chance of mitigating suffering there. Sam Heller ICG Instead, Moscow should push for a negotiated resolution of Eastern Ghouta through UN Security Council Resolution 2401 and secure normal aid agency access to Rukban, thereby enhancing its credibility as a mediator. Syria’s civilians have suffered tremendously through the country’s seven years of conflict. Now, as the Syrian government and its allies prepare to retake Damascus’s Eastern Ghouta suburbs, ... Read More »

Kim’s initiative: The breakthrough the world has been waiting for?

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North Korea has offered every precondition Seoul and Washington set for talks. But while the spectrum of opportunity has dramatically expanded, so, too, have the risks Andrew Salmon Asia Times The Korean Peninsula is arguably the world’s most dangerous geopolitical flashpoint, but rarely – if ever – in inter-Korean relations has one side offered so much so swiftly. According to South Korean officials who returned from two meetings in Pyongyang on Tuesday and delivered a press briefing in the South, ... Read More »

A Hidden Face of War

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The impact of conflict is rarely seen through the prism of reproductive health. Isabelle Arradon ICG Yet women and girls routinely face sexual and gender-based violence during war and its aftermath, maternal mortality is endemic in conflict-affected areas and amplifying women’s voices is critical to removing risks to their well-being. A few years ago, a woman in her sixties outside Banda Aceh in Indonesia told me about the rape and other torture she had endured during the conflict between the ... Read More »

Buddhist Militancy Rises Again in Sri Lanka

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An upsurge of attacks against Muslims by Sinhala Buddhist militants in Sri Lanka has raised fears of a new round of communal violence. Alan Keenan ICG In this Q&A, Crisis Group’s Sri Lanka Senior Analyst Alan Keenan says the government needs to act urgently to prevent the violence from spinning out of control, by enforcing laws against hate speech and arresting and prosecuting those involved in organising the violence. Sri Lanka has declared a state of emergency for ten days ... Read More »

Cinema and smart phones: the art of increasing audiences for opera, ballet and theatre

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Watching an opera, play or ballet has become an increasingly cinematic experience. “Livecasting” performances directly onto screens is now a major part of these kinds of production. Alan Williams The Conversation London’s Royal Opera House has an upcoming “Cinema Season” which includes live relays of Carmen and Swan Lake. In the US, the New York Metropolitan Opera House started livecasting in 2006, while the UK’s National Theatre Live began in 2009. The Royal Opera House and the Royal Ballet joined ... Read More »

The Arctic Heats Up in the Dead of Winter

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Every once in a while a climatic event hits that forces people to sit down to catch their breath Along those lines, abnormal Arctic heat waves in the dead of winter may force scientists to revaluate downwards (or maybe upwards, depending) their most pessimistic of forecasts. Robert Hunziker CounterPunch By the end of February 2018, large portions of the Arctic Ocean north of Greenland were open blue water, meaning no ice. But, it’s wintertime, no daylight 24/7, yet no ice ... Read More »

Peacekeeping in Ukraine’s Donbas: Opportunities and Risks

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The prospect of a UN peacekeeping force in Ukraine’s Donbas offers a rare opening to discuss how to resolve the conflict. ICG But Moscow’s diplomatic overtures also risk fueling political infighting in Kyiv in the run-up to next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections. The war in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region will soon enter its fifth year. In September 2017, talk of a settlement picked up after Russia circulated a draft UN Security Council resolution proposing the deployment of UN forces ... Read More »

Hazing and sexual violence in Australian universities: we need to address men’s cultures

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The esteemed residential colleges of Sydney University have recently gained intense public scrutiny for fostering cultures of sexual harassment, rape and hazing. Ben Wadham The Conversation The Red Zone Report, produced by independent journalists for End Rape on Campus Australia, presented a harrowing account of men’s tribalism, and elitism in Australia’s universities. The report focused on 12 universities including all the Group of Eight universities. Across all 39 Australian universities there are 216 residential colleges or halls. The colleges are… ... Read More »

How to Construct a New Invisible Hand: A Conversation with Peter Barnes

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A middle path between laissez faire and centralized planning. By David Sloan Wilson and Peter Barnes Evonomics In a previous essay, I announced a new concept of the invisible hand to replace the old and erroneous idea that the pursuit of self-interest robustly benefits the common good. The new version is based on examples of the invisible hand that exist in nature, such as cells that benefit multi-cellular organisms and social insects that benefit their colonies. These lower-level units don’t have the… How ... Read More »

Lessons From Cuba

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Cuba’s own experience when Soviet aid was suddenly lost shows that a country that relies on its people has nothing to fear from self-reliance – and everything to gain… Will Podmore CounterPunch The withdrawal of Soviet aid in 1990 left Cuba’s economy on a knife-edge. Cubans lost all their markets in sugar. They ceased to receive foodstuffs, fuel, wood, soap, raw materials. Calories and protein intake were reduced by half. Plans for nuclear energy had to be abandoned. The US ... Read More »

Why the gun debate needs to move away from simplistic ideas of ‘good’ and ‘bad’

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In the lead-up to the Tasmanian election, one issue proved particularly incendiary. Right before the vote on Saturday, the incumbent Liberal government was accused of having a hidden plan to “water down” the state’s gun laws. Dr Samara McPhedran The Conversation Much was made of the long-running Firearms Consultative Committee’s perceived role in shaping the policy. Suddenly, the Liberals were cast as being in cahoots with the “gun lobby”, leaving only Labor and the Greens to stand up against that ... Read More »

Close up: the government’s facial recognition plan could reveal more than just your identity

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A Bill to set up the federal government’s biometric identity system is currently going through Parliament. Jake Goldenfein The Conversation But there are concerns over just how much information the system would be allowed to gather, and how that might be used to establish more than just the identity of a person. Strongly based on the FBI model in the United States, the Identity Matching Services Bill and its Explanatory Memoranda prescribe what data can be collected, shared and processed, ... Read More »

Burkina Faso’s Alarming Escalation of Jihadist Violence

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Attacks on the Burkina Faso army headquarters and the French Embassy on 2 March 2018 were better organised, involved heavier weapons and were more sustained than anything seen so far in Burkina Faso. ICG In this Q&A, our West Africa Program Director Rinaldo Depagne says the jihadist assault further exposes worrying weakness in the Burkinabé security forces. What do we know about the 2 March attacks in Ouagadougou? The attacks represent an alarming escalation for Burkina Faso in terms of organisation, ... Read More »

Turkey and NATO: From Loveless to Hateful Marriage

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The West’s self-imposed Pollyanna game over Turkey a decade or so ago seemed delusional to most Turks who knew the true nature of the Islamist politician lauded as a pro-reform, pro-West democrat. Burak Bekdil BESA Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, western leaders argued, would consolidate Turkey’s democratic system, bring the country closer to its western allies and even win a historic membership in the European Union. Erdogan’s Turkey would be a perfect bridge between western and Islamic civilizations, thus being a role ... Read More »

Justin Trudeau’s India debacle shows the pitfalls of ‘nation branding’

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Justin Trudeau’s multiple missteps on his recent visit to India — wearing inappropriately formal dress and posing for corny photo-ops, at least once with a controversial figure — have prompted critical onlookers to suggest that self-awareness is sorely lacking from the Canadian prime minister’s “brand.” Rebecca Ogden The Conversation The ease with which we use the term “brand,” especially when speaking of political diplomacy, underscores how the discourse and practice of corporate branding has spread into previously unbranded contexts. Branding ... Read More »