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Insectageddon: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown

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The shocking collapse of insect populations hints at a global ecological meltdown George Monbiot The Guardian Which of these would you name as the world’s most pressing environmental issue? Climate breakdown, air pollution, water loss, plastic waste or urban expansion? My answer is none of the above. Almost incredibly, I believe that climate breakdown takes third place, behind two issues that receive only a fraction of the… This is not to downgrade the danger presented by global heating – on ... Read More »

Fintan O’Toole: The lie that poverty is a moral failing was buried a century ago. Now it’s back

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George Bernard Shaw knew that the rich are no better than the poor. But though the argument seemed settled then, it now rages more fiercely than ever. Fintan O’Toole The Irish Times If you know Alfred Doolittle only from Stanley Holloway’s infinitely lovable portrayal of him in My Fair Lady, you might not realise that he’s a bit of a monster. In George Bernard Shaw’s original play, Pygmalion, he arrives in high dudgeon at the home of Henry Higgins, who ... Read More »

‘It’s able to create knowledge itself’: Google unveils AI that learns on its own

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<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” href=”https://assets.guim.co.uk/stylesheets/282073db076992a654b86d39036af719/content.css”/> In a major breakthrough for artificial intelligence, AlphaGo Zero took just three days to master the ancient Chinese board game of Go … with no human help Ian Sample The Guardian Google’s artificial intelligence group, DeepMind, has unveiled the latest incarnation of its Go-playing program, AlphaGo – an AI so powerful that it derived thousands of years of human knowledge of the game before inventing better moves of its own, all in the space of three ... Read More »

Have 20 Years of NATO Expansion Made Anyone Safer?

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Since 1997, the world’s perhaps most powerful corporation and lobbyist has created more insecurity than security. Stephen F. Cohen The Nation Nation Contributing Editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments, now in their fourth year, are at TheNation.com.) Cohen notes that 20 years ago, in 1997, President Bill Clinton made the decision to expand NATO eastward. That same year, in order to placate post-Soviet Russia, then weak and heralded ... Read More »

Sex harassment report author was driven from the CFA by bullies

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When word began to spread that she was inquiring into bullying, harassment and sexual assault at the Country Fire Authority, Professor Caroline Taylor began to sense something was terribly… Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker The Age Employees, both male and female, began calling her seeking guarantees that they could tell their stories without facing retribution. Several seemed… Taylor, a senior CFA advisor, assured these staff they could trust her. She was a long-time researcher in these issues – a foundation chair of ... Read More »

582,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar: UN

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Some 582,000 Rohingya refugees have fled their homes in Myanmar and arrived in Bangladesh since late August, the United Nations said on Oct. 17, warning that thousands more were stranded at the border. Hurriyet The U.N. said 582,000 members of the Rohingya community had crossed into Bangladesh since Aug. 25, marking a jump of 45,000 from the 537,000 figure given at the weekend. Marixie Mercado, a spokeswoman for the U.N. children’s agency, told reporters in Geneva though that the hike ... Read More »

China vs. Japan: Asia’s Other Great Game

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Beijing and Tokyo will undoubtedly compete long after U.S. foreign policy has evolved. Asia’s Other Great Game Michael Auslin The National Interest THE SPECTER of the world’s two strongest nations competing for power and influence has created a convenient narrative for pundits and observers to claim that Asia’s future, perhaps even the world’s, will be shaped, in ways both large and small, by the United States and China. From economics to political influence and security issues, American and Chinese policies ... Read More »

PA dismisses Israeli threat of talks freeze if Hamas in government

Fatah's Azam al-Ahmad (R) and Saleh al-Aruri (L) of Hamas talk to journalists after signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo on October 12, 2017, as the two rival Palestinian movements ended their decade-long split following negotiations overseen by Egypt.
The new Hamas deputy leader and the head of Fatah's delegation struck the deal which was described by Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas as a "final agreement" to end their crippling division, which has at times erupted into deadly conflict over the past ten years. / AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI

Abbas spokesman says reconciliation deal with terror group will help establish Palestinian state; Hamas says it rejects ‘Israeli intervention’ By Alexander Fulbright and Dov Lieber The Times of Israel The Palestinian Authority brushed off Israel’s decision to suspend peace talks over the reconciliation accord reached between PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party and the Hamas terror group, saying it would have “no bearing” on the implementation of the unity deal. “What was agreed in Cairo, under the auspices of Egypt, ... Read More »

Judges turn to extreme remedy to block Trump administration

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(CNN) — As the Trump administration seeks to obliterate Obama-era policies, progressive lawyers are racing to court asking for an extreme form of relief, urging judges to reach deep into their judicial tool kits and issue national — even global — injunctions. Ariane de Vogue Such injunctions are a relatively new phenomenon, and some legal scholars worry they are bad for the country and bad for courts. The experts say the extreme remedy squelches the benefit of having multiple judges ... Read More »

Indigenous poet Ellen van Neerven subject to online abuse by students after HSC English

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Authors and poets have leapt to the defence of an award-winning Indigenous writer after she was allegedly abused online by year 12 students Andrew Taylor The Sydney Morning Herald Ellen van Neerven also received messages asking her to explain her poem Mango from the book Comfort Food after students sitting the HSC English exam on Monday were asked to analyse the work. The opening question in the exam asked students to “explain how the poet conveys the delight of… However, ... Read More »

Ancient Greek wisdom for today’s leadership crisis

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What makes a good leader? This question confronts us at every election and with every domestic and international policy decision. Emily Anhalt As a professor of classical languages and literature for more than 30 years, I marvel at our insistence on addressing this question as if it were brand new. The Conversation Centuries ago, myths helped the Greeks learn to reject tyrannical authority and identify the qualities of good leadership. As I write in my book “Enraged,” the same myths ... Read More »

Austerity benefit freezes and Brexit inflation to cost lower-income households £300 next year

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The benefit freeze ‘risks ushering in a period of rising inequality on a scale not seen since Margaret Thatcher’s final term,’ says think tank The Independent  Charlotte Beale  Poorer households could be £300 worse off next year, due to benefit freezes and a predicted rise in inflation. Half of all families with children will be affected, warns think tank the Resolution Foundation, meaning seven million children in total. 800,000 people looking for work and 2.4 million disabled people will also be hit. ... Read More »

Study calls for less shame and secrecy around menstruation in global conflict areas

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A new study by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) found that girls and women in emergency contexts have inadequate access to safe and private facilities and supplies for menstrual hygiene management (MHM), and are provided with insufficient guidance by response teams on the… EurekAlert! Moreover, many staff have a limited understanding of what an improved response should entail, and… The study, published in the journal Conflict and Health, is one ... Read More »

China Communist Party agrees to amend constitution at key conclave

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China’s Communist Party has announced that it agreed to amend its constitution, ahead of a keenly-watched congress, with speculation mounting that leader Xi Jinping’s name will be added to the document, enshrining his legacy. Hurriyet The Central Committee said it had passed an amendment to the party’s constitution at the end of a plenary meeting held in advance of the main twice-a-decade congress, which opens on Oct. 18 and is expected to see Xi tighten his grip on power. “The ... Read More »

How the oligarchy wins: lessons from ancient Greece

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Ganesh Sitaraman looks at what two recent books – Classical Greek Oligarchy by Matthew Simonton and Oligarchy by Jeffrey Winters – can teach us about defending democracy from oligarchs Ganesh Sitaraman The Guardian A few years ago, as I was doing research for a book on how economic inequality threatens democracy, a colleague of mine asked if America was really at risk of becoming an oligarchy. Our political system, he said, is a democracy. If the people don’t want to ... Read More »

Romania shrugs off label of Europe’s poor man as economy booms

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Since it joined the EU in 2007, government economic measures and communist-era educational excellence have spurred rapid growth Kit Gillet The Guardian  At a sleek new office in the heart of Bucharest, Fitbit co-founder and chief executive James Park explains why the smartwear giant is rapidly expanding its operations in Romania – and following the lead of a host of multinationals. “The tech talent here is amazing. Romania and other countries in central and eastern Europe have great existing talent, ... Read More »