The number of asylum seekers in industrialised countries has risen by nearly a quarter, the UN refugee agency says.


The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the rise was being driven by wars in Syria and Iraq as well as instability in Afghanistan, Eritrea and elsewhere. In the first six months of this year, the total number of people requesting refugee status in such countries increased to 330,700 – more than 24 per cent up on the ... Read More »

Study Links Anxiety Drugs to Alzheimer’s Disease

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I swear I don’t go looking for alarming news about benzodiazepines, drugs widely prescribed for insomnia and anxiety. But it shows up with some frequency, so, mindful of your fervidly held views on the subject, I am donning a hazmat suit to bring you the latest findings from the medical journal BMJ. They’re disturbing. In previous posts, I reported that ... Read More »

Finally, Some Good International News — Especially for Kids


The news: Daily news of turmoil in global hotspots often paints a picture of a world in shambles. But according to a new UNICEF report, quality of life around the world is gradually improving. Not only is global poverty on the decline, the improvements in child welfare have been dramatic. Between 1990 and 2013, the mortality rate among children under the age of 5 ... Read More »

Wollongong lecturer leads UNESCO study on journalists rights to protect sources

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A Wollongong University journalism lecturer currently conducting research for the World Editor’s Forum in Paris is to become the chief researcher on a major United Nations study. Julie Posetti has been appointed chief researcher for a UNESCO investigation into legal protections for journalists in a changing digital environment. Ms Posetti says in some cases changes to national security laws to ... Read More »

Why Westerners are driven to join the jihadist fight

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Forget indoctrination, people become foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq for far simpler reasons: politics, persecution and peer-group pressure IT’S a question being asked around the world. How can you stem the flow of foreign jihadis making their way to Syria and Iraq? As New Scientist went to press, politicians on both sides of the Atlantic were finalising their game plans to ... Read More »

Office Plants Increase Productivity by 15%

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Do you have any plants in your office? What about at home? It may take a green thumb to keep these potted floras alive and well, but studies show that indoor plants have multiple benefits and are worth the care and attention. Some benefits include helping us breathe easier, purifying air and improving health, and even sharpening our focus. According ... Read More »

The UN Just Called Syria the “Biggest Humanitarian Emergency of Our Era”


The news: Just as the number of fleeing refugees passed the 3 million mark on Friday, the United Nations has declared the war in Syria to be the “biggest humanitarian crisis of our era,” according to a statement by António Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said in a statement that almost half of all Syrian citizens ... Read More »