Features

The Danger to the South China Sea Fishery

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For years, sovereign rights in the South China Sea have been an object of fierce contention among the states that border it: the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam, all members of the 10-nation ASEAN group, China, their giant neighbor to the north, and Taiwan as… David Brown Asia Sentinel But while the bordering states jockey for advantage, with China now clearly the dominant local power, scientists have been warning that the sea is fast becoming the site of an ... Read More »

New Genome Scores Predict Breast Cancer Odds for Any Woman

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Drawing on giant population studies, the diagnostics company Myriad Genetics introduces a novel type of DNA test to predict cancer. Antonio Regalado MIT Technology Review The actress Angelina Jolie prompted droves of women to seek genetic testing after she revealed, in 2013, that a “faulty gene” called BRCA1 had given her an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer. In the face of those odds, Jolie had decided to have her breasts removed. “I chose not to keep my story private because ... Read More »

The Arms Trade Treaty in the Asia-Pacific

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Small steps toward improving a difficult relationship Michael Weiss The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is the first multilateral treaty to regulate the international trade in conventional arms. The Diplomat In this respect, it is a landmark treaty for the international community, focusing on an issue that is of highest importance for many Asia-Pacific countries – trying to find and establish mechanisms to control unregulated flows of arms. Since its entry into force on December 24, 2014, 130 states have signed the treaty ... Read More »

UN poised to move ahead with landmark treaty to protect high seas

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Waters outside national boundaries are currently unregulated, devastated by overfishing and pollution. 140 countries back the motion to establish a treaty Jonathan Watts The Guardian The world’s oceans are set for a long overdue boost in the coming days as the United Nations votes for the first time on a planned treaty to protect and regulate the high seas. The waters outside national maritime boundaries – which cover half of the planet’s surface – are currently a free-for-all that has led to ... Read More »

Managing Mars: Who Has a Right To It’s Resources?

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Two scientists propose a method of divvying up Martian resources based on the concept of “Cooperative Sovereignty” Sciworthy Spandan Dash BMSIS Young Scientist Program Humans have long been fascinated by the huge Cosmos above us Perhaps this fascination has been best put to words by Carl Sagan in his influential book, Cosmos: “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, ... Read More »

Cuba postpones historic replacement of Castro

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Communist-run Cuba extended the term of its current leadership to April on Dec. 21, signaling a two-month delay in the historic handover from Raul Castro to a new president, while announcing tighter regulations on the non-state sector. HAVANA – Reuters Hurriyet Castro, 86, was originally set to step down in February after two consecutive terms, ending nearly 60 years of Castro brothers’ rule and marking a transition from the leaders of the 1959 revolution to a new, younger generation. The ... Read More »

Turkey’s Looming Crisis

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Viewed one way, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan looks unassailable: He weathered last year’s coup attempt, jailed more than 50,000 opponents, fired more than 100,000 civil servants, beheaded the once powerful Turkish military, eviscerated much of his parliamentary opposition, dismissed almost half of the county’s elected officials, and rammed through a constitutional referendum that will make him an all-powerful executive following the… Conn Hallinan CounterPunch In the meantime, a seemingly never-ending state of emergency allows him to rule by… So ... Read More »

STM opening metro stations as shelters for homeless during freezing weather

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STM metro stations will serve as shelters for the homeless during the cold winter months STM has teamed up with several other organizations to provide those in need with a warm place to stay and social services at various metro stations. DH Montreal Staff The initiative has been in place for five years. Social workers will also be on site offering those in need a shuttle service when the stations close for the evening. “Homelessness is a complex social phenomenon that challenges ... Read More »

This man died sleeping on Birmingham streets. What happened to his life?

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Father of Paul Williams, who died in sub-zero temperatures outside a restaurant in the Bullring centre, searches for answers Caroline Davies The Guardian Two days after his son’s death, Bob Williams made his way to a semi-industrialised street in central Birmingham to start an emotional journey to discover his missing years. “This is as close as I can get to where he was,” said the 65-year-old retired telecoms engineer, surveying piles of donated food, clothing and bedding at the Birmingham Homeless Outreach (BHO) drop-in ... Read More »

Ukraine: Will the Centre Hold?

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Far from the deadly battle against Kremlin-backed separatists in its eastern provinces, Kyiv faces a groundswell of resentment and disenfranchisement among citizens in the country’s west. ICG To restore faith in the state’s laws and institutions, the government must address endemic corruption to win back those in the state’s margins. What’s the issue? While the war in Ukraine’s eastern region of Donbas rumbles on, the regions of Polissya and Zakarpattya in the country’s west are corroded by systemic state corruption. ... Read More »

The Ripple Effect of the Online Gambling Industry

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Every day, millions of people around the world decide that instead of running to the mall for a new shirt or to the grocery store for another bag of coffee, they can stay at home (or at the office) and purchase those items without ever getting into the… Toblas Roberts HuffPost Commerce, in almost every shape and form, is continually being taken over by the internet, as we are collectively becoming a species dependent upon our connection to the web. ... Read More »

New Risks in Libya as Khalifa Haftar Dismisses UN-backed Accord

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Khalifa Haftar, who rules eastern Libya, has dismissed the two-year-old, UN-backed accord about how the country should be run. Issandr El Amrani Haftar’s regional and international partners should act now to mitigate this new risk of escalation over his apparent ambition to rule Libya on his own. ICG Tensions are rising in Libya after the de facto ruler of the country’s east, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, publicly dismissed the two-year-old international deal on how Libya should be governed. To neutralise ... Read More »

Behavioral economics finally goes mainstream: 4 essential reads

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The year 2017 may turn out to be when behavioral economics entered the mainstream after a leading practitioner in the field won a Nobel prize for his work Bryan Keogh The Conversation Behavioral economics is the study of how psychology affects the economic decision-making processes of individuals and institutions. Research in the field has led governments like those in the U.K. and U.S. to create teams of behavioral scientists to find ways to tweak citizens’ behavior to improve their welfare, ... Read More »

Venezuela crisis: Farmers struggle as people go hungry

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The state of Portuguesa is Venezuela’s breadbasket – full of crops like rice, beans, soya and sunflowers. Katy Watson BBC It is also where Venezuela’s staple corn is grown – the raw material for much-loved corn patties or arepas. Imposing metal silos stand tall on the horizon. At a time when people in the country are going hungry, Portuguesa is a strategic part of the economy. But the breadbasket is looking a bit emptier these days. Ronald Lakra and his family ... Read More »

Cost of global disasters jumps to $306bn in 2017

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Despite the rise in financial loss from disasters, the number of people who died or went missing in disasters remained similar to 2016 Shafi Musaddique The Independent Global disasters in 2017 cost homes and businesses a staggering $306bn (£229bn), according to a new study. Losses made this year from both natural and man-made catastrophes represent a 63 per cent jump compared to last year. The US saw its most damaging hurricane season since 2005, hit hardest with Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria across ... Read More »

A new year’s resolution for the PM

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We recently took our girls to the movies to see The Man Who Invented Christmas, the focus of which is the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge, from what is described in the story as a “squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner” to a benevolent, sociable man, to one who “possess(es) an emotional depth [and] a regret for lost opportunities”. John Hewson Brisbane Times At this Christmas time, a time of Christian celebration, it is an important time to reflect, ... Read More »