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Trump’s ‘Obama-Lite’ Afghanistan Strategy

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No matter what Trump says or how much he complains about his predicament, he has made it clear that America is not leaving Afghanistan any time soon. Jacob Heilbrunn The National Interest Where, oh where, is the Donald Trump who once proclaimed that the United States should “leave Afghanistan immediately”? Last night it was an alternately vexed and boastful Trump who appeared before troops at Fort Myer, Virginia, declaring he would seek “outright victory” in that desolate and war-torn country, ... Read More »

Garden designed to trigger memories in dementia sufferers opens in Port Macquarie

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The first dementia-friendly garden in Australia has opened in Port Macquarie, providing a sensory experience that also reduces anxiety. Carla Mascarenhas ABC A retirement haven, Port Macquarie on the NSW mid-north coast has one of the highest rates of dementia in the country. The garden features a number of sensory components including a texture wall, water features, a gathering space, and a pick and sniff plant area. While dementia sufferers say the garden evokes all kinds of memories, their experience ... Read More »

Final Curtain for Venezuela’s Democracy as Parliament is Dissolved

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The Venezuelan government has dissolved the elected, opposition-led parliament and initiated de facto rule. Foreign governments and multilateral organisations should regard all government actions carried out in contravention of the 1999 constitution as invalid and press the government to take urgent steps toward the restoration of democracy. ICG On 19 August, Venezuela’s self-styled Constituent Assembly, installed two weeks earlier by the government of President Nicolás Maduro, announced that it was taking over the functions of the country’s opposition-led parliament, elected ... Read More »

Society Should ‘Filter’ Information Based on Moral Principles – Putin

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Society should by itself create a system of moral and ethical principles which would help filter information published by the media, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday. Sputnik  BAKALSKA KOSA (Sputnik) – Speaking about censorship at the 2017 Tavrida International Educational Youth Forum in Crimea, Putin said that only publication of information prohibited by law must be restricted, while other things must be “filtered” by society… This can be done only one way, through filtration by the means of the creative community itself. It would be right if society ... Read More »

China now patrolling Philippines sea, air space

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China now patrols Philippine seas and air space. Its coast guard controls entry into and the vicinity of Scarborough Shoal, 120 miles off Luzon. Jarius Bondoc The Philippine Star Paramilitary fleets increasingly are fishing in the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone. Warships venture close to Zambales and Mindoro in the West Philippine Sea. Chinese aircraft regularly confront Philippine flights to Pag-asa Island in Palawan’s Kalayaan Island Group. Maritime research vessels are exploring the Philippine western seabed as well as Benham ... Read More »

Decoding the Korean Peninsula Missile Rhetoric

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Fiery rhetoric between North Korea and the U.S. adds risks to Korean peninsula tensions, but should not cause panic. Outside players should maximise the potential benefit of an established pattern of de-escalation in the fall. Christopher Green ICG They – and Pyongyang – should also back South Korea’s offers of dialogue. North Korea once again captured the world’s attention when it boldly warned that it is ready to fire missiles over Japan toward the U.S. territory of Guam. The unusually specific ... Read More »

The World Eyes Yet Another Unconventional Source of Fossil Fuels

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Vast quantities of methane hydrates — frozen deposits of natural gas on the sea floor — exist worldwide. Nicola Jones YaleEnvironment360 But as experimental drilling moves forward, many experts question the wisdom of exploiting a costly, environmentally risky trove of fossil fuels that will accelerate global warming. In May of this year, China claimed a breakthrough in tapping an obscure fossil fuel resource: Researchers there managed to suck a steady flow of methane gas out of frozen mud on the ... Read More »

5 important facts about China’s alleged incursion in Pag-Asa Island

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Not long after the Philippines hosted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ministerial meetings, reports emerged that Chinese vessels have been gathering near Pag-Asa (Thitu) island in the West Philippine… RICHARD JAVAD HEYDARIAN GMA News The source of the information is reportedly the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which has been monitoring Chinese activities close to our land features in the area. Magdalo Party-List Rep. Gary Alejano, a former decorated soldier with extensive contacts to former AFP colleagues, ... Read More »

Eclipse tests the power grid’s mettle as solar energy goes dark

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The total eclipse of the sun Monday is expected to prompt fossil fuel generators to ramp up quickly to fill in the gaps as solar power goes dark from Oregon to the… John Siciliano Washington Examiner  Grid operators and watchdogs say the biggest effects from the loss of solar-generated electricity will occur in California, which represents 40 percent of the nation’s solar… Other states expected to be especially hit by the loss of solar include North Carolina, Utah, and… For ... Read More »

Universities are broke. So let’s cut the pointless admin and get back to teaching

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The meaningless tasks and faux-business strategies prioritised by British universities have skewed their real role André Spicer The Guardian As students have been celebrating their exam results, pundits from across the political spectrum have been commiserating the state of British universities. Andrew Adonis, an education minister during the Blair years, has excoriated universities for offering costly courses while jacking up the pay of their senior leaders. Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s ex-advisor, thinks UK universities are an unsustainable “Ponzi scheme”. The ... Read More »

North Korea, US playing dangerous game of chicken

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So far the war of words between Kim and Trump is just that – an exchange of fiery rhetoric. But the risk of ‘jaw-jaw’ turning into ‘war-war’ is deepening. Yoon Young-kwan Asia Times So far, the war between US President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un over the latter’s nuclear program has been fought only in words. But each turn of the rhetorical screw deepens the risk that, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “jaw-jaw” could turn into “war… Last ... Read More »

UNAMA Human Rights Report on Mass Killings in Mirza Olang

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KABUL – The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released today the initial findings of its human rights fact-finding into the 3 to 5 August attack on Mirza Olang village in Sayyad district of Sari Pul… UNAMA verified allegations that Taliban and local self-proclaimed Islamic State / Daesh fighters killed at least 36 persons, including civilians and person hors de combat, during the attack on Mirza… At least half of the killings took place on Saturday 5 August when Anti-Government Elements ... Read More »

Why Britain’s voters must have a second referendum on Brexit

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Leavers’ dreams of a country cast free of Brussels are unravelling as reality and the risks of going it alone set in Vernon Bogdanor The Guardian Last week, the government set out key elements of its strategy for achieving Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. It seeks a soft landing to a hard Brexit. It wants a time-limited transition period after March 2019, when Britain is due to leave the bloc. During that period, the government hopes for a ”close ... Read More »

Elon Musk leads 116 experts calling for outright ban of killer robots

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Open letter signed by Tesla chief and Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman urges UN to block use of lethal autonomous weapons to prevent third age of war Samuel Gibbs The Guardian Some of the world’s leading robotics and artificial intelligence pioneers are calling on the United Nations to ban the development and use of killer robots. Tesla’s Elon Musk and Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman are leading a group of 116 specialists from across 26 countries who are calling for the ban on autonomous ... Read More »

Malta ‘denies’ Defend Europe anti-migrant boat

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Aid groups applaud Maltese government, saying snub sends ‘a clear message against the politics of hate and extremism’. Al Jazeera Malta has said a vessel carrying anti-migrant and anti-refugee activists was “not welcome”, allegedly denying the boat from docking on its shore. Far-right members of the Defend Europe group, who were aboard the C-Star vessel, said they were denied port access and a request for water sent out to the vessel, according to a statement on the group’s Facebook page. ... Read More »

Harvard study strengthens link between breast cancer risk and light exposure at night

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A new study from Harvard has found greater risk of breast cancer in women who live in neighborhoods that have higher levels of outdoor light during the night. Richard G. “Bugs” Stevens The Conversation The findings are based on the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS), which has for decades been advancing our understanding of risks to women’s health. For this study, epidemiologist Peter James and colleagues followed nurses in the NHS for breast cancer occurrence from 1989 to 2013. The home ... Read More »