The strange link between the human mind and quantum physics

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Nobody understands what consciousness is or how it works. Nobody understands quantum mechanics either. Could that be more than coincidence? By Philip Ball BBC “I cannot define the real problem, therefore I suspect there’s no real problem, but I’m not sure there’s no real problem.” The American physicist Richard Feynman said this about the notorious puzzles and paradoxes of quantum mechanics, the theory physicists use to describe the tiniest objects in the Universe. But he might as well have been ... Read More »

In long-secular Turkey, sharia is gradually taking over

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Over the past few weeks, Turkish officials have broken with decades of precedent in what is still, at least nominally, a secular republic: they have begun describing the country’s military deployment in Syria as “jihad.” By Soner Cagaptay The Washington Post During the first two days of the operation, which began on Jan. 20, the government’s Directorate of Religious Affairs ordered all of Turkey’s nearly 90,000 mosques to broadcast the “Al-Fath” verse from the Koran — “the prayer of conquest” — ... Read More »

Sweden steps up hunt for cobalt as electric cars boost demand

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The mineral-rich country has a history of mining copper, iron, silver and gold Niclas Rolander Independent Sweden will step up efforts to find precious minerals such as cobaltand lithium, key battery components that are increasingly in demand among makers of electric vehicles. The government will invest 10m kronor (£892,483) over the next two years to map the existence of minerals deemed important for future growth. While Sweden has a history of mining for base metals, the Geological Survey of Sweden, a government ... Read More »

Neighbourhood living rooms – we can learn a lot from European town squares

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Australian urban design has historically focused on providing and improving access to public green spaces. As cities increase in density, this is a crucial part of creating healthy, engaged communities. Dina Bacvic The Conversation But Australian urban designers often fail to consider the “other half” of public space – the town square. Public squares or plazas were, and are, the centres of daily public life in many European towns and cities. Today they still influence the perception of place and ... Read More »

EU split over expansion into Western Balkans

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European Union foreign ministers disagreed on Feb. 15 over a proposal by the bloc’s executive to push for expansion into the Western Balkans, a region still scarred by ethnic wars fought in the 1990s and dogged by a reputation for lawlessness. SOFIA – Reuters Hurriyet Meeting in Bulgaria, the EU ministers discussed for the first time the plan by the European Commission that set out 2025 as a goal for Serbia and Montenegro to join the bloc. Hungary’s Peter Szijjarto ... Read More »

Is marijuana the world’s most effective treatment for autism?

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It’s morning in Nahariya, a tiny Israeli town near the Lebanese border, and 4-year-old Benjamin is repeatedly smashing his head against the wall. BY DEBRA KAMIN Newsweek He spins wildly in circles, screeching at full volume. As his mother tries frantically to calm him, he pulls down his pants and defecates on the floor. When they leave their apartment, Benjamin wrestles free of her hand and nearly runs into oncoming traffic. Sharon attempts a trip to the supermarket but leaves before ... Read More »

Polish Ambassador: Why the Antidefamation Law is Justified

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“Holocaust denial is not only denial of German crimes, but also other ways of falsifying history.” Piotr Wilczek The National Interest Over the past several days there have been many voices around the world commenting on Poland’s recently passed antidefamation legislation. Some unfortunately misinterpreted the wording of the legislation, others expressed concern, but almost all who spoke did so out of care for the memory of the Holocaust. This at its core, is Poland’s principle concern as well. The memory ... Read More »

Netherlands passes bill introducing opt-out organ donation

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Vote ‘real breakthrough’, says Dutch Kidney Foundation Senators in the Netherlands have approved a new law making all Dutch adults organ donors after death, unless they opt out. Harriet Agerholm The Independent The bill narrowly passed in the upper house of the Dutch parliament, more than a year after MPs passed the legislation. Pia Dijkstra, who drafted the bill, said under the new system every person over 18 who is not yet registered as a donor will receive a letter asking if they want to donate their organs after… ... Read More »

Be realistic – demand the impossible: the legacy of 1968

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The events of May 1968 in Paris and then France more generally still resonate as a graphic illustration of the potential for relatively peaceful and wealthy societies to explode in spontaneous anger. Simon Tormey The Conversation May 1968 was not an uprising against tyranny or manifest injustice of a kind that animated the civil rights movement. Starting out as a set of demonstrations against university reform, the French uprisings quickly gathered momentum in a manner that almost defies explanation. Part ... Read More »

US position on artificial islands

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CHINA’s artificial islands in the South China Sea (SCS) and their upgrades have been serving as tools to Filipino politicians who’ve been mobilizing anti-Chinese sentiment against President Rodrigo Duterte who has been generally congenial to Beijing. By SASS ROGANDO SASOT The Manila Times Yet have you ever wondered what’s the actual position of the US on building artificial islands within a coastal state’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ)? It’s necessary to ask this as the Americans have been positioning themselves as ... Read More »

US military leader warns on China

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The head of US Pacific Command has issued a strong warning about China’s military buildup Admiral Harry Harris says China is trying to win dominance in the Indo-Pacific region as it issues a challenge globally. NHK He made the remarks at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday. Harris said he was most concerned about China’s activity in the South China Sea. That included the militarization of 7 outposts, despite a ruling by an Arbitral Tribunal under the Law ... Read More »

Japan thinks Brexit is an ‘act of self harm’, says former ambassador

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Sir David Warren says Britain’s withdrawal from EU could have ‘grave’ consequences for bilateral relations Chris Baynes The Independent Japan sees Brexit as an act of economic and political “self-harm” that will weaken the UK as a world power, according to the former British ambassador to Tokyo. Sir David Warren, who served in the post between 2008 and 2012, said Britain’s withdrawal from the EU could have “grave” consequences for relations with Japan. His comments came after the Japanese ambassador to London warned Prime Minister Theresa ... Read More »

Tillerson tries to soothe badly strained relations with Turkey

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for more than three hours Thursday in what both sides predicted would be two days of difficult talks after months of badly fraying relations between Washington and its NATO ally in Ankara. By Alexandra Zavis, Tracy Wilkinson and Umar Farooq LA Times An unsmiling Erdogan received Tillerson at the presidential palace. After their meeting, Tillerson would only tell reporters, “We’re still working.” The diplomatic push came a day after ... Read More »

What’s Actually Behind Cape Town’s Water Crisis

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Blame austerity-obsessed technocrats, irresponsible development, and willful ignorance. RICHARD POPLAK The Atlantic The city of Cape Town was plonked by its founders onto a peninsula not far from where the Indian and Atlantic oceans merge, often violently, beneath the imposing banks of Table Mountain. To its north lie the fertile fruit and wine farms that weigh down the city’s restaurant tables with unimaginable bounty. Every day when the clock strikes noon, a cannon blast echoes from Signal Hill, a reminder ... Read More »

Turnbull announces sex ban – and signals Joyce should consider his position

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Malcolm Turnbull has announced that, from now, sexual relations between ministers and their staff will be prohibited under a change he has made to the ministerial code of conduct. Michelle Grattan The Conversation Addressing a news conference late on Thursday, Turnbull also strongly hinted he would like to see Barnaby Joyce step down. Joyce had made “a shocking error of judgement in having an affair with a young woman working in his office”. In doing so he had set off ... Read More »

Liberal MLA rejects need for UN oversight of Canberra’s ‘places of detention’

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The Canberra Liberals have rejected the need for a United Nations subcommittee tasked with protecting inmates from torture to have any oversight of the capital’s prisons, police and court cells. Daniel Burdon The Canberra Times The Legislative Assembly on Thursday passed a bill to ensure the ACT can meet the standards of the UN’s optional protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), after the federal government ratified the rules in December. The new laws will mean UN inspectors will now be ... Read More »