World

50 years of hurt: Togo protesters vow to continue

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After years of government stalling, demonstrators are demanding electoral reforms, including the reinstatement of term limits. BY FARIDA NABOUREMA African Arguments On Saturday 19 August, shocking images of the bodies of protesters being carried on stretchers started flooding social media in Togo. That day, thousands of citizens had taken to the streets to demand democratic reforms and the restoration of the country’s 1992 constitution. Calling for change after half a century of rule by the Gnassingbe family, demonstrators marched to chants of ... Read More »

Benjamin Zephaniah: ‘I’m almost 60 and I’m still angry. Everyone told me I would mellow’

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The celebrated dub poet might grow his own vegetables in the shires – but he is still in a revolutionary mood. From carnival surveillance to the abandonment of the Grenfell families, he says Britain needs radical political change – now Stephen Moss The Guardian Benjamin Zephaniah’s 1998 poem Carnival Days is a lyrical love letter to the Notting Hill carnival, where “We dance like true survivors / We dance to the sounds of our dreams.” Or, more accurately, it’s a ... Read More »

I was an Exxon-funded climate scientist

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ExxonMobil’s deliberate attempts to sow doubt on the reality and urgency of climate change and their donations to front groups to disseminate false information about climate change have been public knowledge for a long time, now. Katharine Hayhoe  The Conversation Investigative reports in 2015 revealed that Exxon had its own scientists doing its own climate modeling as far back as the 1970s: science and modeling that was not only accurate, but that was being used to plan for the company’s future. Now, a peer-reviewed study published August 23 ... Read More »

Washington lobbying firms receive subpoenas as part of Russia probe

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Lawyers for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, have issued subpoenas to several prominent Washington lobbying firms as the probe examines the finances of two former Trump campaign advisers, according to people with knowledge of the requests. Carol D. Leonnig and Tom Hamburger  The Washington Post The subpoenas asked the firms to answer questions and provide records regarding their interactions with the consulting firms led by Michael Flynn, a former national ... Read More »

Universities should ban PowerPoint — It makes students stupid and professors boring

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Do you really believe that watching a lecturer read hundreds of PowerPoint slides is making you smarter? I asked this of a class of 105 computer science and software engineering students last semester. Universities should ban PowerPoint — It makes students stupid and professors boring – Business Insider Paul Ralph The Conversation  Business Insider  An article in The Conversation argued universities should ban PowerPoint because it makes students stupid and professors boring. I agree entirely. However, most universities will ignore this ... Read More »

The Quantum Internet is just a decade away. Here’s what you need to know

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In brief As China moves closer to building a working quantum communications network, the possibility of a quantum internet becomes more and more real. Dom Galeon World Economic Forum But what does having a quantum internet mean? The next level The word “quantum” sounds so advanced and complex that people tend to get hyped up about anything attached to it. While not every quantum breakthrough elicits a positive response, in the case of a so-called quantum internet, people have a ... Read More »

The Tree Of Languages Illustrated In One Gorgeous Infographic

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When linguists talk about the historical relationship between languages of the world, they oftentimes use a tree metaphor. By Amanda Froelich Truth Theory The textbook version tends to be drab and boring, however, which is why Minna Sundberg, the creator of the webcomic Stand Still. Stay Silent took the time to create a much more imaginative version.   Arika Okrent of Mental Floss writes, “An ancient source (say, Indo-European) has various branches (e.g., Romance, Germanic), which themselves have branches (West Germanic, ... Read More »

Russian tanker sails through Arctic without icebreaker for first time

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Climate change has thawed Arctic enough for $300m gas tanker to travel at record speed through northern sea route Patrick Barkham The Guardian A Russian tanker has travelled through the northern sea route in record speed and without an icebreaker escort for the first time, highlighting how climate change is opening up the high Arctic. The $300m Christophe de Margerie carried a cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Hammerfest in Norway to Boryeong in South Korea in 19 days, ... Read More »

Mathematical secrets of ancient tablet unlocked after nearly a century of study

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Dating from 1,000 years before Pythagoras’s theorem, the Babylonian clay tablet is a trigonometric table more accurate than any today, say researchers Maev Kennedy The Guardian At least 1,000 years before the Greek mathematician Pythagoras looked at a right angled triangle and worked out that the square of the longest side is always equal to the sum of the squares of the other two, an unknown Babylonian genius took a clay tablet and a reed pen and marked out not ... Read More »

Tamie Fraser to continue legacy of late husband and former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser

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The ASRC is thrilled to announce that Tamie Fraser, widow of former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, stands beside us as a Patron. Mr Fraser, who served as the 22nd Prime Minister of Australia between 1975 and 1983, was himself an active ASRC patron until his death in March 2015 (and he is still honoured as a Patron now). Mrs Fraser has long been an advocate for the rights of people seeking asylum, and a critic of offshore detention and other ... Read More »

Sudanese minister calls for normalisation with Tel Aviv

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The Israeli newspaper Haartez has welcomed statements made by the Sudanese Minister Mubarak Al-Fadil Al-Mahdi who expressed his support for the establishment of official relations with Israel, claiming that Palestinians are to blame for selling their land in the first place. Middle East Monitor Al-Mahdi, who is Minister of Investment in Sudan, stated during an interview with a Sudanese TV channel yesterday that there should be no objection to the idea of normalising relations with Israel, pointing out that this ... Read More »

Gillian Triggs labels Turnbull government ‘disgraceful’, accuses it of peddling ‘alternative facts’

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Gillian Triggs has unloaded on the Turnbull government, labelling its actions “disgraceful”, and accusing it of abusing executive power and manipulating the truth. Eryk Bagshaw The Age In her first public speech since stepping down as president of the Australian Human Rights Commission in July, Professor Triggs attacked Coalition government ministers for interfering with the judicial system and for destroying the integrity of Parliament by peddling “alternative… ” A culture of post-truth has allowed politicians and Parliament to reject evidence ... Read More »

Whatever happened to East Africa’s oil boom?

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Politics has been central to the progress, or lack thereof, in developing East Africa’s oil. And it will continue to be. Luke Patey African Arguments It was not long ago that East Africa was the shining frontier of the continent’s oil scene. Uganda sparked the rush in 2006 after wildcatters ventured deep inland and made Africa’s largest onshore discoveries in decades. And Kenya’s north­western Turkana region continued the run with new oilfields found in 2012. With crude prices averag­ing almost $112 per barrel ... Read More »

Governments that pay people smugglers should face legal action, Indonesia’s UNHCR rep says

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The UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) representative in Indonesia, Thomas Vargas, has warned people smugglers remain active in the region and said legal action should be taken against governments that make payments to smugglers. By Indonesia correspondent Samantha Hawley ABC An Australian official is alleged to have given six crew members $US30,000 ($37,000) to turn a boat carrying 65 asylum seekers back to Indonesia in May 2015. In an interview with the ABC, Mr Vargas said any nation that ... Read More »

Ditch bipartisanship and debate Australia’s defence and security, politicians urged

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Exclusive: Trump’s election threatens longstanding assumptions and turbulent times require return to an ‘adversarial’ democratic approach, new report argues Katharine Murphy Political editor The Guardian An Australian National University defence analyst says the world is entering the most difficult and dangerous period since the cold war, and Australian politicians need to openly debate defence and security issues, rather than strive endlessly for contrived bipartisanship. In a new report commissioned by the progressive thinktank the Australian Institute, Andrew Carr says Australian ... Read More »

Sweden’s Prostitution Solution: Why Hasn’t Anyone Tried This Before?

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In a centuries deep sea of clichΓ©s despairing that ‘prostitution will always be with us’, one country’s success stands out as a solitary beacon lighting the way. Copyright © Marie De Santis, Women’s Justice Center, www.justicewomen.com – rdjustice@monitor.net In just five years Sweden has dramatically reduced the number of its women in prostitution. In the capital city of Stockholm the number of women in street prostitution has been reduced by two thirds, and the number of johns has been reduced ... Read More »