‘Too much, too soon,’ expert warns on PH-China sea study

Ulet 3c

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY — A maritime expert has questioned  Malacañang’s pronouncement that it is considering a “joint exploration” with China for potential energy deposits in an undisputed Philippine territory some 50 kilometers off Busuanga town in Palawan province, identified as Service Contract (SC) 57. Redempto Anda Philippine Daily Inquirer Lawyer Jay Batongbacal, director of the University of the Philippines Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said in a social media post that the government’s plan to include ... Read More »

Housing risks ‘catastrophic’: Grattan Institute

Elem 2b

Australia’s eight-year house price boom has savaged the living standards of poorer Australians while so far leaving the wealthy untouched, a new Grattan Institute analysis finds. Peter Martin The Age But the report, to be released on Monday, warns of a “catastrophic” impact on all income groups should mortgage rates rise by more than a few percentage points. The institute’s chief executive, John Daley, said Australians who already owned their houses had been little affected by soaring prices to date because ... Read More »

How we came to be so cruel to those seeking asylum in Australia

Elem 9i

If you had predicted 30 years ago that Australia would create the least asylum seeker-friendly institutional arrangements in the world, you would not have been believed. Robert Manne The Canberra Times In 1992 we introduced a system of indefinite mandatory detention for asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Since that time, we have accepted the idea that certain categories of refugees and asylum seekers can be imprisoned indefinitely; that those who are intercepted by our navy should be forcibly returned ... Read More »

Trump the Deal-maker and the Middle East

Trump 1a source White House LLLL signing papers

Casting himself as the best friend Israel could hope for, President Donald Trump is promising, some may say threatening, to unveil his grand plan for a peace “deal” to end the so-called “Middle East problem”. Amir Taheri Gatestone Institute Trump has always fancied himself as a deal-maker; he has even written a book on the subject. It is, therefore, no surprise that he might want to put his skill to use on an issue which has defied numerous deal-makers for ... Read More »

The Congo Is Set to Butt Heads With Mining Firms Over Cobalt

Elem 8h

For parents in much of the world, the beginning of December is a harbinger for the scramble to secure the year’s hottest game or electronic gadget ahead of the holidays. Stratfor And as battery technology continues to improve and costs decline, it has touched off another scramble of its own, as the manufacturers of batteries for everything from smartphones to electric vehicles chase after raw materials like cobalt, an invaluable component in such objects. Right at the center of this ... Read More »

Slovak authorities release suspects in slain journalist’s case

Apl 1a

Ján Kuciak was investigating ties between Italian mafia and Slovak business at the time of his murder. Saim Saeed Politico Slovak police has released seven Italian citizens detained in connection with the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, local media reported Saturday. Kuciak and his fiancée, both 27, were found dead in their home in Veľká Mača on Sunday. He was investigating links between Italian mafia group ‘Ndrangheta and businessmen in Slovakia at the time of his death. The unfinished story was published ... Read More »

Meet the MP who actually wants to know what works

Guen 1a

A house in the Canberra suburb of Narrabundah had suffered multiple burglaries. For the sixth time someone had broken in through a window and taken things from the bedroom of a nine-year-old boy. Peter Martin The Canberra Times This time the offender was caught red-handed, with a pillowslip full of the Lego – he was the nine-year-old boy from next door. When police officer Rudi Lammers arrived, he decided not to follow the usual procedure. Instead, he sat down with ... Read More »

Syria’s war at home is giving way to dangerous proxy conflicts

Fors 1a

As Syrian government forces crush the country’s largest remaining rebel strongholds and with Bashar al-Assad apparently here to stay, Syria is turning into an arena for three new proxy conflicts. Moritz Pieper The Conversation In the south, Israel is facing off against Iran; in the northern region of Afrin, Turkey is fighting the Kurds. Meanwhile, in the eastern provinces, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are pitted against the Russian-backed Syrian armed forces. If and when the Syrian conflict proper comes to ... Read More »

Four key dates that shaped the US gun debate

Guns 1a Getty Images LLLL

It’s one of the most divisive issues in American society, once again brought to the fore because of a deadly mass shooting. So what is the basis for the right to bear arms? And what key events have helped shape the debate? Roland Hughes BBC The very beginning 15 December 1791 It makes sense to start with the date the Second Amendment to the US constitution was ratified. Here, 27 simple words set the path to gun ownership in the ... Read More »

Meet Germany’s next chancellor

Ceni 9i

Jens Spahn and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer are at the front of the starting grid in the race to succeed Angela Merkel. By MATTHEW KARNITSCHNIG Politico He’s a sharp-tongued thirtysomething metrosexual, the standard-bearer of Germany’s conservative youth. She’s the middle-aged apple of Angela Merkel’s eye, a churchgoing mother of three with down-home charm. If few outside of Germany have ever heard of either Jens Spahn or Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, that’s about to change. Merkel has recently elevated both to prominent political roles, putting ... Read More »

Should you send a text or email? Here’s some advice from Aristotle

Kene 5e

Suppose you want to get in touch with a friend. Once, your options for doing so might have been sparse: pick up the phone or write a letter. Alexis Elder The Conversation But these days, you have to decide: Should you call or text, use Snapchat, or reach out on Twitter, Messenger or Skype? Other considerations, whether it’s an old friend or new acquaintance, or whether you’re asking a favor or checking in, as well as your own conversational tendencies ... Read More »

Theresa May’s Brexit speech: our writers give their verdict

Aua 2b

Four writers react to the prime minister’s latest Brexit plans, unveiled in London today Polly Toynbee, Katy Balls, Maya Goodfellow and John Redwood The Guardian Polly Toynbee: The same conundrums, but no new answers No one waited with bated breath for Theresa May’s speech once we knew the cabinet had vetted it. Anything that the “team” that has stuck us in the verbal bog of “managed regulatory divergence” all agree on can never take us forward. Unify the country? Show us a united cabinet first. Her ... Read More »

Human intelligence can’t be transferred to machines

Apot 5e

Technologists across the world have frantically embarked on the quest to create a new species in our own image — general artificial intelligence with superior computational brain power. Nathan Gardels The Washington Post But we are only just beginning to understand the foundations of human intelligence and consciousness that cannot be captured in an algorithmic formula divorced from the functions of the body and the long evolution of our species and its microbiome. As the celebrated neuroscientist Antonio Damasio argues in a ... Read More »

Putin’s Foreign Policy: Nuclear Blackmail Of The West

Kale 5e

“You didn’t listen to our country then… Listen to us now.” Vladimir Putin, announcing that Russia has developed and is testing a new line of strategic nuclear-capable weapons Gary Cartwright EU Today Looking to bolster his image with the electorate prior to Russia’s impending Presidential elections, Vladimir Putin’s has chosen the tried and tested route for such leaders – create an enemy for the people to worry about, and to focus their minds. Putin has very little to offer the ... Read More »

Mineral deficiency exposes 19 million babies a year to brain damage risk

Defe 1a

Scientists warn lack of iodine leaves 14% of newborns vulnerable to impaired mental development Hannah Summers The Guardian A lack of iodine in pregnancy and early childhood puts nearly 19 million babies around the world at risk of permanent but preventable brain damage every year, a new report has warned. Insufficient iodine during pregnancy can adversely affect neurological and psychological development, reducing a child’s IQ by eight to 10 points. More broadly, widespread iodine deficiency can diminish the… Mineral deficiency ... Read More »

Steven Pinker Continues to See the Glass Half Full

Bele 6f

Book Review Enlightenment Now The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress By Steven Pinker Optimism is not generally thought cool, and it is often thought foolish. Sarah Bakewell The New York Times The optimistic philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote in 1828, “I have observed that not the man who hopes when others despair, but the man who despairs when others hope, is admired by a large class of persons as a sage.” In the previous century, Voltaire’s “Candide” had ... Read More »