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Saving Idlib from Destruction

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Numerous signs point to an imminent Syrian regime offensive to recapture Idlib, the largest remaining rebel-held area. ICG To ward off another humanitarian calamity, Russia, Iran and Turkey should immediately convene talks to extend the truce and seek other ways of removing Idlib’s jihadist hard core. What’s new?  The Syrian regime and its allies look on the verge of attacking the country’s north-western governorate of Idlib, the last remaining stronghold of the armed rebellion, saying they must root out the ... Read More »

Brazil museum fire: ‘incalculable’ loss as 200-year-old Rio institution gutted

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The Museu Nacional houses artefacts from Egypt, Greco-Roman art and some of the first fossils found in Brazil Dom Phillips The Guardian Brazil’s oldest and most important historical and scientific museum has been consumed by fire, and much of its archive of 20 million items is believed to have been destroyed. The fire at Rio de Janeiro’s 200-year-old National Museum began after it closed to the public on Sunday and raged into the night. There were no reports of injuries, ... Read More »

Corruption watchdog has no way of measuring its productivity: audit

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The agency responsible for investigating corruption in Australian law enforcement bodies has been told it has no way of knowing how efficiently it investigates corrupt conduct, and to pick up its act, in a… Sally Whyte The Canberra Times In the first audit of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity by the Australian National Audit Office, the watchdog was told it needed to improve how it manages cases, and how it… The auditor general couldn’t say whether the commission was ... Read More »

Coast Guard interdicts lancha crew illegally fishing in U.S. waters

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Coast Guard crews from Corpus Christi interdicted a Mexican lancha crew illegally fishing in waters off the Texas coast on Sunday. KRIS Communications According to the Coast Guard, four fishermen onboard the boat were detained and turned over to Border Patrol for processing. Coast Guard also seized 113 red snapper and two sharks from the vessel. A lancha is a fishing boat used by Mexican fishermen that is approximately 20 to 30 feet long, with a slender profile, typically has ... Read More »

The Mystery of People Who Speak Dozens of Languages

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What can hyperpolyglots teach the rest of us? Judith Thurman The New Yorker One researcher of language acquisition describes her basic question as “How do I get a thought from my mind into yours?” Last May, Luis Miguel Rojas-Berscia, a doctoral candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, in the Dutch city of Nijmegen, flew to Malta for a week to learn Maltese. He had a hefty grammar book in his backpack, but he didn’t plan to open it ... Read More »

How we showed Homer’s Odyssey is not pure fiction, with a little help from Facebook

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When you look at networks of people, whether it’s architects or table tennis players or a regular bunch of Facebook friends, they will have certain similarities. Authors: The Conversation They tend to confirm the “six degrees of separation” idea that most people are connected in a few very short steps. Each person tends to have large numbers of connections and to associate with people who are similar to them. The networks are also usually organised into hierarchies. In fiction – ... Read More »

Chilean Navy captures Peruvian vessel fishing in Exclusive Economic Zone

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SANTIAGO – During a surveillance patrol, the Chilean Navy captured the fourteenth foreign vessel in the early hours of Friday morning, which was fishing in waters belonging to the Exclusive Economic Zone of the… The Santiago Times While the Maritime Zone Patrol Officer OPV-84 “Cabo Odger”, dependent of the Fourth Naval Zone, carried out surveillance operations, it detected a Peruvian minor vessel within the Exclusive National Economic Zone, 172 kilometers west of… The fishing vessel named “Jean Anthony” was inspected ... Read More »

S Korea team to fly North to discuss summit details

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A high-level South Korean delegation will fly to North Korea this week to discuss arrangements for an inter-Korean summit there this month, as relations grow cooler between Washington and Pyongyang. SEOUL – Agence France-Presse Hurriyet The South’s President Moon Jae-in named his top security adviser on Sept. 2 as a special envoy to the North to discuss details before Moon’s planned meeting in Pyongyang with Kim Jong-Un. Chung Eui-yong, head of the presidential National Security Office, will lead a five-member delegation to the North’s capital on Wednesday, Moon’s spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told… ... Read More »

Lessons from Chemnitz: Eastern Germany’s right-wing protesters awash in anxiety

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The resentments at play over migrants in Germany have reached a dangerous level following the stabbing of a German man. In Chemnitz DW’s Jefferson Chase also saw how the far-right protesters are co-… Jefferson Chase DW There’s hardly a more eerie sight anywhere in Germany than the 7-meter-high, 40-ton sculpture of Karl Marx’s head on one of downtown Chemnitz’s main streets, Brückenstrasse. Indeed, it’s hard not to feel a… So perhaps fittingly it was here that police on Saturday halted the “march ... Read More »

‘The damn thing melted’: climate change sparks scramble for the Arctic

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On Monday, a Danish container ship – the Venta Maersk – set off from Busan in South Korea packed with Russian fish and Korean electronics. On September 22 it will dock at Bremerhaven in Germany. Nick Miller The Age The bit in between could change the world. Thanks to climate change, the Venta was able to take a short cut over the top of the globe – the first container ship to do so – through the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska, above ... Read More »

‘A convicted terrorist and a convicted spy’ walk into the Opera House… and get a standing ovation

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Days after it was announced that she would not be granted an Australian visa in time for her scheduled appearance in Sydney, American whistleblower Chelsea Manning has received a standing ovation after speaking at the… Maani Truu WAtoday Ms Manning, who is best known for leaking classified military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, was speaking with Australian journalist Peter Greste as part of the weekend’s Antidote Festival, albeit by virtually appearing on stage via… “A convicted terrorist and a convicted ... Read More »

Nicaragua expels UN team after critical report

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The government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has ordered a team from the United Nations Commission for Human Rights to leave. BBC The expulsion comes days after a critical report into human rights in Nicaragua during months of anti-government protests. The chief of the UN mission, Guillermo Fernandez, said his team would continue to monitor the situation from abroad. More than 300 people were killed during the recent political unrest. The report released on Wednesday by the UN High Commissioner for ... Read More »

Demonetisation in India: A Democracy Deficit

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Demonetisation On November 8, 2016, when the United States of America was busy electing a populist president in Donald Trump, India’s own populist prime minister, Narendra Modi came up with a unique economic decision. Shubbam Ghosh EurasiaFuture In one stroke, he invalidated two high denomination currency notes the nation had been using –  Indian National Rupee notes (INR) valued at INR 1,000 and INR 500. According to Modi and his supporters, the move was a… On August 29, 2018, almost ... Read More »

‘I really feel I mucked it up’: When dads and daughters disconnect

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The bond between fathers and their daughters has long been recognised as special. That is, until she hits puberty – at which point it often fractures, sometimes irreparably. Madonna King The Age Cancer specialist Bruce Robinson regularly delivers the news that takes patients directly to their moment of truth. The truth he tells them is that they’re going to die. The truth he hears back, time after time, is “I wish I’d spent more time with my children.” His patients ... Read More »