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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 »

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 »

2018: the year ahead

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What will be the key trends shaping 2018? The World Weekly zooms in on four global stories to watch next year. The World Weekly The year 2017 brought expected and unexpected change. In the US, President Donald Trump expectedly shook up political traditions, yet America’s separation of powers showed its strength, too. Major tax reform was passed, but legislative and court challenges have hindered many of President Trump’s other initiatives. A special counsel is currently investigating whether the Trump campaign ... 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 »

Can WiFi cause cancer?

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WiFi operates in the 2 to 5 GHz range – part of the microwave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Gary Larson Quora This is in the same part of the spectrum where cell phones operate so I may refer to WiFi or cellphone electromagnetic radiation interchangeably. These are radio waves – no different than those used to broadcast television programs – except that they are higher in frequency. They aren’t nearly as high a frequency as visible light – and ... Read More »

’Swastika Trail’ street name to remain in Ontario township

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A street in southern Ontario will retain the name “Swastika Trail” after Puslinch Township council voted 4-1 against changing the privately owned street name during a meeting on Wednesday evening Canadian Press The matter arose last month when B’nai Brith Canada launched an online petition calling on the township about 75 kilometres west of Toronto to change the street name. Nearly two months ago, members of the neighbourhood association held their own vote in which a slight majority of residents ... Read More »

In Britain, the productivity problem has a clear solution

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The UK is lagging in productivity, but it has a secret weapon to leapfrog ahead of its competitors. Deborah Sherry Over the past year, Brexit has been the all-consuming storyline looming over the British economy. Politico As growth has lagged, people have looked to the country’s impending exit from the European Union for explanations. But Brexit or no Brexit, the real crisis is British productivity. In 2016, the U.K. ranked well below the other major economies of Europe in productivity, ... Read More »

PA looks to Russia, China, to upstage United States

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PA President Mahmoud Abbas has said repeatedly that the US has forfeited its role as a mediator due to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. BEN LYNFIELD JPost Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dispatched delegations to Moscow and Beijing on Tuesday, as part of efforts to find new sponsorship for the peace process, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported. The move came as Ahmad Majdalani, a PLO executive committee member who is leading the delegation to China, ruled ... Read More »

Zimbabwe’s “Military-assisted Transition” and Prospects for Recovery

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President Emmerson Mnangagwa has the chance to embark on a much-needed process of economic and governance reform in Zimbabwe ICG The military’s role in the political transition casts a shadow on the road to credible elections, which remain a priority if his government is to earn national and international legitimacy. What’s the issue? After Zimbabwe’s military intervened to bring an end to 37 years of rule by former President Robert Mugabe, their continued presence as key political players may complicate ... Read More »