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Irish butterfly monitoring scheme detects decline above global average

Almost 20% of insects are in decline and 13% are threatened while 7% have conservation status Kevin O’Sullivan The Irish Times The decline of butterflies and bumblebees in Ireland is matching a global trend, indicating insect populations are collapsing, according to the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC). Commenting on its latest figures, senior ecologist Dr Tomás Murray said Irish butterfly and bumblebee monitoring schemes have revealed rates of decline in these important insects in line with a… The global scientific review confirmed ... Read More »

Canberra’s first Buddhist pagoda set to open

The finishing touches are being put to an important religious building in the ACT. Steve Evans The Canberra Times The Sri Lankan community has been building a special “stupa” or pagoda which is to be formally finished with a ceremony on Saturday and officially opened a week later. There are several Buddhist temples in the territory but a stupa is viewed as the very essence of Buddhism. It’s a domed structure to hold relics of the life of the Buddha, ... Read More »

Call to ban killer robots in wars

A group of scientists has called for a ban on the development of weapons controlled by artificial intelligence (AI). Pallab Ghosh BBC It says that autonomous weapons may malfunction in unpredictable ways and kill innocent people. Ethics experts also argue that it is a moral step too far for AI systems to kill without any human intervention. The comments were made at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington DC. Human Rights Watch (HRW) is one of the ... Read More »

Is Nancy Pelosi a Climate Skeptic?

It’s time to reckon with the internal contradictions of climate policy. Bret Stephens The New York Times Is Nancy Pelosi a climate skeptic? Of course not — and I would know. But you might be excused for thinking so, given the curt wave-off the House speaker delivered to the liberally ballyhooed, legislatively stillborn Green New Deal. “The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it, right?” That was Pelosi talking about the deal as ... Read More »

Billions Dead: That’s What Could Happen if India and Pakistan Wage a Nuclear War

This is the real nuclear crisis the world is missing. Armed with what they believe is reasonable intelligence about the locations of Pakistan’s strategic forces, highly accurate missiles and MIRVs to target them, and a missile defense that has a shot at cleaning up any Pakistani missiles that survived the… Zachary Keck The National Interest With the world’s attention firmly fixated on North Korea, the greatest possibility of nuclear war is in fact on the other side of Asia. That ... Read More »

Armed conflict killed 870,000 young children over five years, report

At least 100,000 babies die every year because of factors including hunger, damaged hospitals and lack of aid, says Save the Children. SBS About 870,000 children under five may have died within five years as a result of armed conflict in the worst-affected countries, a new report finds. According to the ‘Stop War on Children’ report from Save the Children, the number is five times more than the 174,703 fighters estimated to have been killed in the same period between 2013 ... Read More »

Fierce litigator worked pro-bono to champion human rights

At Steven Glass’s funeral, his closest friends and loved ones were discovering things about him they didn’t know and connecting with people that they had never met before. By Asia Lenard, George Newhouse, Ju Lin O’Connor and Eva Orner The Age It’s not that Steven was secretive, he was simply a man who got things done, quietly, without fanfare, and with no expectation of recognition. Steven was born in Melbourne in 1960 to John and Ellen Glass. His mother’s family escaped ... Read More »

‘Amazon isn’t bigger than New York’: meet the man who killed the deal

Michael Gianaris turned his outrage into leverage when he was appointed to an obscure state board – and soon after, the company called the project off Erin Durkin The Guardian Αmazon made plenty of enemies with its plans for a new headquarters in New York, but one of those foes played an outsized role in sending the tech giant packing. The man who stared down Amazon is state senator Michael Gianaris, a Democrat who represents Long Island City, the Queens neighborhood where the company ... Read More »

US updates warning over Turkey travel amid rising political tensions

Turkey announced it would purchase Russia’s missile system The US Department of State on Thursday updated its travel advisory for Turkey amid stalled US-Turkey talks on Syria and growing differences over Venezuela and Turkish S-400 deal with Russia. Joyce Karam The National Turkey announced Thursday it would be going ahead with a purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system, ahead of an informal Friday deadline to respond to a rival US offer. Turkey, a NATO member, made repeated moves to buy ... Read More »

White-collar crooks face up to 15 years in jail under new penalties

Banking executives face up to 15 years in jail under tough new laws to stamp out white-collar crime as the corporate regulator prepares to crack down on misconduct in the sector. Sarah Danckert The Sydney Morning Herald On Friday, the Senate passed a long-awaited bill that drastically increases the penalties for white-collar crime. Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s deputy chairman, enforcement, Daniel Crennan, QC, welcomed the passing of the bill on Friday. “Now ASIC will be in a position to ... Read More »

Four lessons from 11 years of Closing the Gap reports

Scott Morrison today became the fifth prime minister to deliver a Closing the Gap report to parliament – the 11th since the strategy began in 2008. Nicholas Biddle The Conversation Closing the Gap has aimed to reduce disadvantage among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with particular respect to life expectancy, child mortality, access to early childhood education, educational achievement and employment outcomes. Almost every time a prime minister delivers the report, he or she states the need to move ... Read More »

Former far-right Dutch MP van Klaveren tells of reactions to his conversion to Islam

Joram van Klaveren spent several years serving far-right and anti-Islam politics in the Netherlands. But van Klaveren, once a right-hand man to Dutch anti-Islam politician GeertWilders, took the world by surprise when he announced his conversion to… Nalan Koçak – ISTANBUL Hurriyet “You are like a vegetarian working in a slaughterhouse,” Wilders told van Klaveren upon his shift to his newfound faith, the former MP recalled in an interview with Hürriyet Daily News on Feb. 12. Van Klaveren was a lawmaker for the Party of Freedom (PVV), led by the Dutch populist Wilders, from 2010 to ... Read More »

U.S. ally Turkey looks to Russia and Iran to protect its interests

Analysis: The U.S. organized a global conference on the Mideast in Warsaw, but Turkey’s leader is at a summit with Russian and Iranian leaders instead. By Dan De Luce NBC WASHINGTON — As Trump administration officials presided over the second day of an international conference in Warsaw dominated by calls to ratchet up pressure on Iran, one longtime U.S. ally and NATO member was noticeably absent — Turkey. Snubbing the gathering in Poland, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday ... Read More »

Winners and losers of Europe’s copyright reform

Not all rights holders are necessarily better off, and Google might not be as impacted as it looks. Laura Kayali Politico STRASBOURG — The European Commission, Parliament and EU countries agreed Wednesday on the controversial copyright reform, after two and a half years of painful negotiations and unprecedented lobbying campaigns from all sides of the… The reform was initially presented by the Commission in September 2016. The most contentious aspects of the text were mainly targeting Google, which rights holders have accused of ... Read More »

‘Highly irresponsible’: Senate calls for Great Barrier Reef Foundation to return money

A committee examining the government’s decision to award $443.3m to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation has recommended unspent funds from the controversial grant be returned to the commonwealth and… Lisa Cox The Guardian The final report, tabled in the Senate on Thursday, calls the awarding of the grant last year “a highly irresponsible decision, hastily concocted by relevant ministers” and calls for a fresh review of the… It recommends such a review be completed by July this year and used to guide ... Read More »