Jul 29, 2021

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North America’s Arctic radar shield is due for an upgrade

  • To detect such threats, the United States and Canada jointly built a line of radar stations in the 1950s that stretched 5,000km (3,100 miles), known as the Distant Early Warning ( DEW ) line, and established a North American Aerospace Defence Command (Norad) in Colorado.
  • Strung across the northern fringes of Canadian territory from Labrador to Yukon, then into Alaska, the Kiglapait station and its many siblings form a picket line known as the North Warning System, or NWS (see map).
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Is the US Economy Running Out of Slack?

By Willem H. Buiter
  • Given the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on labor markets, there is a spirited debate over whether the US economy is close to returning to its full potential.
  • The too-low camp argues that the official unemployment numbers – 9.5 million in June 2021, as against 5.7 million in February 2020 – underestimate the amount of slack in the labor market.
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Scottish government refuses to publish details about Queen’s secret lobbying

By Severin Carrell and Rob Evans
  • The Guardian revealed on Wednesday that in February, the Queen’s lawyers successfully lobbied Scottish ministers to change a draft law to exempt her private land from a major initiative to cut carbon emissions.
  • The Scottish government is refusing to publish details about the Queen’s secret lobbying of ministers because it would undermine “the appearance of political neutrality” the monarch adopts in public.
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COVID-19 Update: Alberta lifts isolation rules | Cases continue to rise | Questions remain on Stampede’s impact

By Ari Yanover
  • COVID-19 Update: Alberta lifts isolation rules | Cases continue to rise | Questions remain on Stampede's impact
  • Australia’s biggest city Sydney posted a record one-day rise in local COVID-19 cases on Thursday and warned the outbreak would get worse, as authorities sought military help to enforce a lockdown of 6 million people poised to enter its sixth week.
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Why Millennials Have a Weird Relationship with Water

By MM Carrigan
  • (Her grandmother didn’t want the kids coming in and out all day, wasting the air conditioning.) Cody, age 37, described his water intake as “very much flavored,” with the help of Mountain Berry Punch Kool-Aid, iced tea powders, and “of course Crystal Light.”
  • Mostly, I'm just trying to drink my eight glasses of water a day, and not even because I’m thirsty.
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Ride-hailing app Didi’s shares surge on report it may go private

  • Regulators are weighing a range of potential punishments, including a fine, suspension of certain operations or the introduction of a state-owned investor, Bloomberg reported last week, citing people with knowledge of the matter.
  • The Beijing-based company has been in discussions with bankers, regulators and key investors about ways to resolve regulatory woes since its troubled listing, the newspaper said, citing people with knowledge of the matter.
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Queer Bookstores Are Lit

By S. Bear Bergman
  • Audrey Kohler, an apprentice (they’re learning the independent bookstore business from owner Susan Post) at BookWoman in Austin, Texas, said that in her experience, “people come in and say, ‘it’s so much easier to talk about this with a stranger!’ And there I am, this queer, friendly face they maybe recognize already from our Instagram, and they feel like whatever they’ve needed to talk about or learn about, they can ask for a book about, and we can help them.
  • “A queer cultural space is relational, it isn’t transactional,” Asha Grant, who is opening The Salt Eaters, a Black queer bookstore centering Black women, femmes, and nonbinary people in Inglewood, California, said.
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Republicans in Congress are stamping their feet and saying they want to go home from the pandemic

By Holly Baxter
  • A face mask requirement has returned to the House of Representatives this week in the face of rising Covid rates due to the delta variant, and Republicans have proven themselves to be just as incapable of regulating their emotions as the next class of kindergarteners.
  • Lucky the sensible Grand Old Party is providing hard-headed, well-needed commentary at times like these, otherwise those bleeding-heart liberals would get carried away again with their science and their vaccines and their letting people vote no matter what skin color they have and their not believing a covert entity called Q is secretly running the world, possibly with lizards.
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Israeli soldiers fire tear gas at funeral of Palestinian boy

  • Mohammed al-Alami, 12, died on Wednesday after being shot by Israeli soldiers while travelling in a car with his father in the occupied West Bank town of Beit Ummar northwest of Hebron, Palestinian authorities said.
  • Israeli soldiers fired tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades at Palestinians attending the funeral of a Palestinian boy killed the day before in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian and Israeli media reported.
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MacKenzie Scott, Melinda French Gates team up on gender equity

  • An initiative from philanthropists Melinda French Gates, MacKenzie Scott and the family foundation of billionaire Lynn Schusterman awarded $40m Thursday to four projects in tech, higher education, caregiving and minority communities that promote gender equality.
  • French Gates said in a statement Thursday that “we can break the patterns of history” and advance gender equality if there’s a commitment to support organisations, like the awardees, “that are ready to lift up women and girls”.
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Peru’s left-wing new president pushes for a new constitution

  • Pedro Castillo, the new left-wing president, took office on July 28th following the narrowest of electoral victories in a bitterly divided country.
  • But he insisted that he will seek to install a constituent assembly to draw up a new constitution—the device used by left-wing populist strongmen such as Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia to concentrate power and hang on to it.
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China is rapidly building new nuclear-missile silos

  • But as the diplomats were sparring in Tianjin, the Federation of American Scientists ( FAS ), a research group, said it had spotted China building as many as 110 silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles ( ICBM s) near the city of Hami, in eastern Xinjiang (see picture).
  • The FAS says the satellite pictures suggest the “most extensive” building of silos since the construction of them by America and the Soviet Union during the cold war.
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Israel is loth to regulate its spyware exports

  • W HEN INTERNATIONAL news organisations revealed that at least ten governments had used Pegasus, a powerful software tool created by Israel’s NSO Group, to hack into the smartphones of thousands of people around the world, including politicians, human-rights activists and journalists, the Israeli government shrugged.
  • In any case, the Pegasus customer list correlates neatly with many of the governments courted by Israel’s former prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, who lost his job in June.
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Beijing’s top public security official tells Hong Kong authorities to push ahead with legislation safeguarding national security

By Ng Kang-chung
Beijing’s top official overseeing public security has tasked Hong Kong authorities with enacting more legislation and pushing forward with judicial reform to ensure the city does a better job in safeguarding national security and its own social stability.Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi, who is also a state councillor, laid down the directive in an unusual meeting with Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah in the capital on Thursday. The minister urged her to perform her […]Read more >Similar articles >
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The Pegasus revelations cast doubt on the health of Indian democracy

  • Others belong to a political consultant credited with state-level wins against Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata party ( BJP ), and to a former top election official who had recommended penalising Mr Modi for flouting rules during the 2019 general election, as well as to members of his family.
  • A global investigation by a clutch of newspapers and NGO s, triggered by the leak of some 50,000 phone numbers in ten countries, casts the government of Narendra Modi in an ugly light as a presumed client of Pegasus’s Israeli creator, the NSO Group.
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Cabinet approves NT$40.7bn plan to bolster social safety net

  • Taipei, July 29 (CNA) Taiwan's Cabinet on Thursday approved a NT$40.7 billion (US$1.46 billion) plan that is aimed primarily at strengthening the social safety net over the next five years, with an emphasis on public sector hiring and mental health services.
  • More broadly, the plan would fund the establishment of 156 new social welfare centers, which often provide help to the elderly and families at risk, as well as 10 child protection centers, the health ministry said.
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Even without The X Factor, only a fool would write off Simon Cowell

By Ed Power
  • The broadcaster has announced there are “no current plans” for a new season of The X Factor, the glitzy talent contest which Simon Cowell parlayed into a global brand and which has changed the face of pop.
  • For proof we need only look at the success of his Syco record label, which pioneered the concept of “pop classical” with Il Divo even as it conquered the charts with One Direction and Little Mix. Or at Britain’s Got Talent, which has now outlasted The X Factor and is returning for a 15th series in 2022.
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Australia Covid: Sydney records worst day yet for cases as police get tough

By Helen Sullivan in Sydney
  • “If you look at other places around the world and the way the Delta strain has taken over communities, even when vaccination rates have been higher than ours, we can take some comfort in the fact that today we haven’t had thousands and thousands of cases, thousands of people in hospital and many more deaths, and that’s what these lockdowns are about,” she said.
  • The coronavirus outbreak in Sydney has reached record levels, with 239 new cases announced in New South Wales on Thursday, the highest one-day total for Australia’s most populous state since the pandemic began.
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Replanting projects turn global cities into lush green spaces

By FRANCE 24
  • From lettuces farmed on New York's skyline to thick corridors of trees occupying once desolate Colombian roadsides, green initiatives are running wild in cities around the world.
  • In nine cities across the world, thanks to planting schemes on walls and roofs, the temperature during the warmest month in so-called street canyons -- flanked by high-rise buildings on either side -- can be reduced by 3.6 to 11.3 degrees Celsius at the hottest time of day, according to a report by the French Agency for Ecological Transition.
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US genocide expert to press Ethiopia on Tigray aid blockade

  • The U.S. official who wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book on genocide is visiting Ethiopia next week to press the government to lift what the U.S. calls a blockade on humanitarian aid to the conflict-hit Tigray region, where hundreds of thousands of people now face deadly famine.
  • Samantha Power, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, hopes to meet with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who has asserted that “there is no hunger in Tigray,” and with senior officials who blame the aid blockade on rival Tigray forces who have retaken much of the region and vow to pursue “enemies” beyond its borders.
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Top German court strikes down Facebook rules on hate speech

  • A top German court has ruled that Facebook acted illegally in taking down racist posts and blocking the account of their author because the social network failed to inform the user or give a reason for shutting them down.
  • It is all the more striking because the comments made by the unnamed plaintiff evidently violated Facebook's community standards governing so-called hate speech, which is banned under German law if it threatens the peace or incites violence against minority groups.
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‘Not a travel agency’: test centres see aggression rise due to many travel tests

By Maïthé Chini
  • However, the main reported reason for the aggression is that many travellers come to the centre without a code for such a free test, or show up without an appointment, expecting to be tested for free.
  • More than 70% of the testing centres experience increased aggression by patients towards their staff due to the travel tests, according to a survey by Domus Medica among 56 Flemish testing centres, reports De Morgen.
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Wildfires, floods, sandstorms, typhoons…Extreme, deadly weather events on the rise

By FRANCE24
Heatwaves, droughts, floodsThe urgency of climate action has been underscored in recent weeks by extreme and deadly weather events. The persistent claims of those insisting that climate change is a non-issue have since evaporated in the haze of heatwaves and fires. Scientists have long predicted that such extremes are likely, but many are surprised that so much change is happening so quickly. FRANCE 24’s Juliette Montilly takes a look at recent events, from Europe and the Americas to Asia. […]Read more >Similar articles >
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Samoa’s rightful government takes office at last

  • On July 23rd the country’s court of appeal ruled that Fiame Naomi Mata’afa’s FAST party, which narrowly won an election in April, was the legitimate government of Samoa, an island nation of 200,000 people 2,900 km north-east of New Zealand.
  • I T TOOK THREE and a half months and a constitutional crisis, but Samoa at last has its first change of governing party in 33 years, as well as its first female prime minister.
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Polarization over Covid vaccine prompts some Americans to get shot in secret

By Adam Gabbatt
  • Dr Priscilla Frase, a hospitalist and chief medical information officer at Ozarks Healthcare in West Plains, said physicians had experienced a number of people who have asked to covertly receive the vaccine to avoid conflict with vaccine skeptical family, friends and co-workers.
  • In a video produced by Ozarks Healthcare, Frase said one pharmacist reported that several people: “Even went so far as to say: ‘Please, please, please don’t let anybody know that I got this vaccine.’”
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Philippine President Duterte has shown how not to handle China

  • One is to confront, as Rodrigo Duterte threatened when campaigning in 2016 to become president of the Philippines: he declared he would deal with the country’s dispute with China in the Spratly Islands by riding a jet ski into the contested waters waving the national flag.
  • Unusually for a South-East Asian country, the Philippines still does more trade with both Japan and America than it does with China.
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Syria: Assad attacks former opposition stronghold with missiles and artillery

By Bethan McKernan and Hussein Akoush
  • Deraa al-Balad and its surrounds, a district of Deraa city in the southern province of the same name, was targeted with heavy weaponry in tandem with a ground push on three axes from two Syrian army divisions and allied Iran -backed militias early on Thursday morning, in a large offensive which continued throughout the day.
  • Since Isis was driven from southern Syria, an uneasy status quo has emerged : the Fifth Corp are paid salaries by Moscow and are supposed to follow Russian orders, but have managed to retain a degree of autonomy, barring the military and secret police from areas under their control, sheltering people wanted by the regime, and safeguarding large street protests against the government’s handling of Syria’s struggling economy.
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Looser rules for takeaway tipples

  • A MONG THE many emergency measures introduced by state governments when the covid-19 pandemic hit, one stood out for the jollity it heralded: a change in the law to allow bars and restaurants to sell cocktails-to-go.
  • At least 35 states legalised takeaway (some of them also allowed for the takeout and delivery of glass-size portions of wine), and 16 have passed laws making the change permanent.
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Hong Kong’s draconian new security law claims its first scalp

ON JULY 27TH a juryless court in Hong Kong convicted Tong Ying-kit, a 24-year-old waiter, of terrorism and inciting secession. He was the first to be found guilty under a sweeping national-security law, introduced last year. Just after the bill took effect, Mr Tong had ridden a motorcycle while displaying a flag saying “Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our Times”, and had crashed into several policemen. In effect, the ruling has criminalised the most popular slogan used by anti-government protesters in 2019.

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PAP wings, Aware issue recommendations on women’s issues

  • The women's and youth wings of the People's Action Party (PAP) and the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) released two separate papers on Thursday (July 29), each calling on the Government to take action to tackle discrimination and advance women's development in Singapore.
  • Each paper made a slew of recommendations in response to the Government's announcement last September that it would conduct a thorough review of issues related to women and gender equality.
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American Lee takes gold as Biles watches on

  • The twins helped Great Britain win a historic team bronze on Tuesday and Jennifer may yet join Jessica in Monday's floor final if Biles withdraws.
  • American Sunisa Lee took Olympic gymnastics all-around gold as defending champion Simone Biles watched from the stands after withdrawing to prioritise her mental health.
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COVID: Why India’s economy cannot afford another lockdown

  • But as experts warn of a potential third COVID wave in the coming months, India's flagging economy — especially the micro, medium and small scale enterprise (MSME) sector — could face devastating repercussions from another lockdown.
  • In the midst of the second wave, the government released data that indicated that India's gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 1.6% in the January-March quarter of the 2020-21 fiscal year, just as coronavirus infections were rising.
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Almost 60,000 suspected of breaching quarantine

  • A story in Blacklock’s Reporter states the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) reported some 58,000 Canadian international travellers suspected of breaking quarantine and leaving their homes.
  • The Quarantine Act mandates returning travellers must self-isolate at home for two weeks or face penalties such as six months in jail or fines of up to $750,000.
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Israel to offer Pfizer booster jab to those over 60s: Media reports

  • But since the emergence of the Delta variant, the health ministry has twice reported a drop in the vaccine's effectiveness against infection and a slight decrease in its protection against severe disease.
  • Israel will begin offering a third shot of the Pfizer/Biontech Covid-19 vaccine to people aged over 60, a world first in efforts to slow the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, Israeli TV and radio said on Thursday (July 29).
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EU Overtakes U.S. in Covid-19 Vaccines

  • The EU has given at least one vaccine shot to 259 million people, or 58.3% of the total population of its 27 member countries as of Thursday, according to figures compiled by Our World in Data, an Oxford University project tracking the global vaccine rollout.
  • Infections have risen quickly in both places, pushing political leaders and public health experts to seek new ways to get people motivated to get vaccinated.
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The sea: hidden threats

At once food source, battlefield and dumping ground for waste, the waters of the Earth have long hosted struggles for geopolitical dominance, from the melting ice of the Arctic to the fish-rich South China Sea. The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which lays out international legislation on our oceans, tried to impose some order. Yet while it has been adopted by 167 countries to date, UNCLOS has yet to be ratified by the US Senate, among others. Labour rights()

- 2021/07 / , […]Read more >Similar articles >
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Hong Kong police launch probe into booing of China’s national anthem at shopping mall as crowd watched fencer Edgar Cheung strike Olympic gold

By Danny Mok
Hong Kong police are investigating the booing of China’s national anthem at a mall showing a live broadcast of local fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long receiving his gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.Hundreds of Hongkongers had gathered on different levels of the APM mall in Kwun Tong on Monday night to watch history-making Cheung defeat Italian Daniele Garozzo in the men’s individual foil final.It was the city’s second-ever Olympic gold and came 25 years after windsurfer Lee Lai-shan claimed a […]Read more >Similar articles >
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Malta government bears responsibility for journalist’s murder, inquiry finds

By Reuters in Valletta
  • An independent inquiry in Malta into the car bomb murder of the anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has found the state had to bear responsibility after creating a “culture of impunity”.
  • “The tentacles of impunity then spread to other regulatory bodies and the police, leading to a collapse in the rule of law,” said the panel’s report, which was published by the prime minister, Robert Abela.
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IMF warns of growing poverty, unrest and geopolitical tensions – Al Jazeera English

  • The global economic recovery continues, but with a widening gap between advanced economies and many emerging market and developing economies thanks to vaccine inequity and a lack of fiscal support, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned on Tuesday
  • While the latest update to the IMF’s World Economic Outlook sees the global economy still growing 6 percent this year – unchanged from its April estimate – Chief Economist Gita Gopinath noted that the composition of the recovery continues to change.
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‘Stop patronising me and give me an interview’: the female journalists speaking up for India’s poor

By Cath Clarke
  • What makes Khabar Lahariya’s success even more stunning is that most of its journalists – like many of the ordinary people whose stories they report – are Dalits, the lowest status in India’s caste hierarchy.
  • Now, Khabar Lahariya is now the subject of a documentary, Writing With Fire, filmed over five years by the wife and husband team Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh.
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COVID-19 still has a ‘devastating toll’ on the Americas: PAHO – Al Jazeera English

  • PAHO Director Carissa Etienne said coronavirus cases are increasing in Guatemala, and infection and death rates in Cuba are at their highest point ever in the pandemic – adding that across the past week, more than 7,000 children and nearly 400 pregnant women have tested positive for the virus.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have “a devastating toll” on the Americas, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday, with Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, and Paraguay among the countries with the world’s highest weekly death rates .
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Qatar’s emir approves electoral law for first legislative vote – Al Jazeera English

  • Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has approved an electoral law for the country’s first legislative polls, due to be held in October, his office said.
  • Appointed and elected members will have the same rights and duties, including “approving the general policy of the government and budget”, as well as exercising control over the executive authority, according to a statement on Thursday by Qatar’s Government Communication Office (GCO).
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The West Embraces State Subsidies, a Policy Throwback, to Counter China

  • Chip-manufacturing subsidies are the most prominent of a range of interventions Western governments are rushing out to promote industries they deem strategic, from electric-car batteries to pharmaceuticals.
  • “We conveyed to TSMC the importance of securing the semiconductor supply chain, and that the U.S. government as well as their U.S. customers wanted them manufacturing here,” said Keith Krach, who led the negotiations as a State Department undersecretary at the time.
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The best place to ride out a global societal collapse is New Zealand, study finds

By Adam Taylor
  • Released this month in the journal Sustainability by researchers at Britain’s Anglia Ruskin University, the study aimed to better understand what destinations could survive independently in the face of a global disaster caused by the likes of climate change, a pandemic, a financial collapse or other cataclysmic disruptions.
  • Though New Zealand’s economy is highly globalized and the country currently relies on imports, it has “abundant" energy resources and agricultural land, the study found.
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You could power a wind turbine with all Boris Johnson and Allegra Stratton’s hot air on the climate crisis

By Andy Parsons
  • Given that she is Boris Johnson’s spokesperson, it did come as a surprise to hear her defending her article by saying that people concerned about climate change could join the Green Party.
  • The mining company involved had stated that the proposed coal mine would indeed save greenhouse gas emissions and would create green jobs because the UK steel industry would no longer have to import coking coal from abroad.
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You have a choice: China’s top court empowers people to say ‘no’ to facial recognition use by private businesses

By Xinmei Shen
China’s top court has made a key judgment related to facial recognition technology, empowering individuals to reject unauthorised facial recognition data collection by commercial entities such as hotels, banks and nightclubs.The decision, which is included in a directive issued to local courts this week by the People’s Supreme Court, makes it clear that any collection and analysis of facial data by commercial operations must receive the “independent” consent of the individual concerned. If not, […]Read more >Similar articles >
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China risks international extradition row over case of Uygur man detained in Morocco

By Linda Lew,Sarah Zheng
The detention of an Uygur man in Morocco on an Interpol red notice issued by Beijing threatens to spark another row over international extradition rules.Yidiresi Aishan, 33, who has been based in Turkey since 2012, was detained on arrival in Casablanca on July 19 and is being held at the Tiflet Detention Centre, according to Ilyas Dogan, a Turkish human rights lawyer retained by Aishan’s family.US congressman Chris Smith, the co-chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, […]Read more >Similar articles >
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‘NO DASHER = NO DELIVERIES:’ DoorDash Drivers Strike for Tip Transparency

By Lauren Kaori Gurley
  • In early July, DoorDash rewrote its own code to cut off Para, a third-party app that allowed gig workers to see their tip amounts before they accepted a delivery order.
  • Motherboard heard from seven drivers who plan to strike, and many more have stated they will participate because they've seen their base pay drop and want to be able to see their tips before they accept orders.
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Croatia celebrates joining of controversial Adriatic Sea bridge – Al Jazeera English

  • A major European Union-funded bridge built by a Chinese company has been connected over the Adriatic Sea, linking two swaths of the Croatian coastline that are divided by a small stretch of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s territory.
  • During the ceremony, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said the bridge represents “a fascinating strategic accomplishment of the Croatian people and their state” that fulfils their longtime dream to have the Adriatic coastline connected.
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Biden Isn’t Selling Out on Nord Stream 2. He’s Protecting U.S. Firms.

By Elisabeth Braw
  • But if China began imposing U.S.-style sanctions, companies would likely be so concerned about exposure to sanctioned firms and people at points in their supply chain where they trade in yuan that they could decide to err on the side of caution.
  • (He quickly reversed them.) Today, though, there’s another hugely powerful country that could decide to impose unilateral sanctions on companies whose activities it dislikes: China.
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‘Twilight’ Is Bad and That’s Why It’s Good

By Gita Jackson
  • Edward Cullen is a hundred year old virgin who has been in high school for about half a century, and Bella Swan's only consistent character motivation for the entire series is to get fucked and become immortal.
  • As I read the books I always imagined Edward and Bella as more suave; the small town of Forks, Washington as less working class; Jacob as less of a himbo.
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‘I might delete it’: users on the NHS Covid-19 app amid the ‘pingdemic’

By Jedidajah Otte
  • There were 43% fewer downloads of the NHS Covid-19 app in the week ending 30 June compared with the week ending 14 June, NHS data shows, while a record 689,313 people in England and Wales were contacted by the app and asked to self-isolate in the week to 12 July.
  • T he number of downloads of the NHS Covid-19 app has shrunk dramatically amid a “pingdemic” that is causing shortages of goods and workers, after former health secretary Jeremy Hunt warned last week that the government “risks losing social consent” for its test-and-trace programme if it does not allow fully vaccinated people to avoid isolation.
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Nanjing airport coronavirus cluster spreads to ‘15’ other Chinese cities

By Zhuang Pinghui
China’s Covid-19 control measures are under intense pressure after an airport cluster in Jiangsu province’s Nanjing is believed to have led to infections in 15 cities across the country in just over a week.The spread is being fuelled by the highly infectious Delta variant which has now swept across 132 countries, according to the World Health Organization this week.China’s zero-tolerance approach to the virus has put tremendous political pressure on the city and governing Jiangsu province, with […]Read more >Similar articles >
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Even a Short War Over Taiwan or the Baltics Would Be Devastating

By Daniel R. Mahanty
  • As the United States emerges from the shadow of the forever wars into a new era of superpower competition where war between the great powers is thinkable again, it seems to be preparing for the next war on the basis of a particularly dangerous false promise: that large numbers of civilians, including in major population centers in Asia and Europe, won’t be affected by it.
  • As the United States emerges from the shadow of the forever wars into a new era of superpower competition where war between the great powers is thinkable again, it seems to be preparing for the next war on the basis of a particularly dangerous false promise: that large numbers of civilians, including in major population centers in Asia and Europe, won’t be affected by it.
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Taliban admits to killing Afghan comic, to try alleged killers

  • The Taliban armed group has taken responsibility for the killing of a comic this week in Afghanistan’s southern province of Kandahar, raising the spectre of revenge killings as the US-led foreign forces are about to complete their pullout from the war-torn country.
  • The report ( PDF ), published on Thursday, said Taliban attacks on Afghan targets surged from 6,700 in the three months up to the Doha agreement to 13,242 in the September-November 2020 period.
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AstraZeneca sales of Covid vaccine triple to $1.2bn in first half of 2021

By Julia Kollewe
  • AstraZeneca has reported a boost in sales of its Covid-19 vaccine, which tripled to $1.2bn (£900m) in the first half of this year – but remained significantly below the earnings of its US rival Pfizer.
  • AstraZeneca said about $572m of vaccine sales came from Europe during the first half of 2021, in a period when the company was embroiled in a court battle with the European Commission over delivery delays, and a further $455m from emerging markets.
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‘There is contact!’: Russia’s new Nauka space module docks with ISS

By Reuters
  • A live broadcast from Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, showed the module, a multipurpose laboratory named after the Russian word for ‘science’, docking with the ISS at 1329 GMT, a few minutes later than scheduled.
  • Launched in 1998, the ISS is a multinational project and comprises two segments, a Russian one and another one used by the United States and other space agencies.
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Top Republicans’ new tone on vaccines having little effect on hardcore holdouts

By Daniel Strauss
  • Almost like a switch had been flipped, a set of high-profile Republican political figures and conservative media personalities recently shifted their stance on the Covid-19 shots and became more outspoken and proactive in urging Americans to get vaccinated.
  • But in interviews with half a dozen Republican pollsters, including ones who have held focus groups on encouraging holdouts to get vaccinated, they say that there is still a block of Americans who won’t be moved even if it’s a Republican urging them to get the shot – no matter if there’s a chance they could win $1m or a shotgun or tuition money or fishing permits, incentives that governors across the country have used to motivate people who are resistant to getting vaccinated.
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Militant group ETIM, which has been targeted by China, remains active in Afghanistan, UN report says

By Amy Chew
Militant groups Islamic State (Isis), al-Qaeda and the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) – which China has referred to as a direct threat to its interests – remain present in Afghanistan, where security is fragile and predicted to deteriorate, according to a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) report.Isis fighters around the world have reserves of US$25-US$50 million on hand, the report said. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is believed to be in Afghanistan, alive but ailing. Saif al […]Read more >Similar articles >
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Biden Vowed No Afghan Interpreters Left Behind. What About Iraqi Interpreters?

By Robbie Gramer and Jack Detsch
  • “The vast majority of Iraqis applied through the P-2 visa program,” Matt Zeller, co-founder of No One Left Behind, an advocacy group pushing for the resettlement of Afghan and Iraqi interpreters, told SitRep.
  • “We are considered the second enemy after U.S. forces for the Iran-backed militias,” Ali Alobaidi, who served as an interpreter for U.S. forces during the 2003 Iraq War before working for European forces during the counter-Islamic State campaign, told SitRep.
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The Scottish parliament must take a stand against the farcical Queen’s consent rule | Andy Wightman

By Andy Wightman
  • Since then, as the Guardian revealed this week, other acts of the Scottish parliament have exempted the Queen’s personal estates from laws that apply to every other landowner in Scotland.
  • I n 2002, as the Scottish parliament was debating a bill to provide the public with a groundbreaking new right to roam, the independent MSP Dennis Canavan spotted a provision that exempted the Queen’s private Balmoral estate from this statutory right.
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Millionaire Jeff Bezos will finance the protection and restoration of mangroves in Yucatan

By Yucatan Times
  • Without specifying the amount, WWF Mexico reported a donation from the Bezos Earth Fund that will “finance the protection and restoration” of mangroves in Nayarit, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo.
  • With the Bezos Earth Fund donation, WWF promises to work with local communities within the next five years to “reduce vulnerabilities and damage generated by climate change” and directly benefit thousands of people.
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Porsche’s futuristic van reflects McLaren F1 influence

By Dave Makichuk
  • In addition to the center seat, the minimalist cockpit includes some high-tech details, including a curved wrap-around windshield, two screens for the second-row passengers, and five round gauges in a nod to Porsches of the past, the CarBuzz report said.
  • According to a report in CarBuzz.com, the six-seater electric minivan is designed to be a “journey far into the future of mobility.”
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Taiwan includes more foreign nationals in vaccination program

  • Prior to Thursday, foreign nationals registering on the government system for COVID-19 vaccination were required to enter both their residence permit and national health insurance (NHI) card numbers on the website.
  • With the expansion of the vaccination program, however, foreign nationals who do not have an NHI card can use their residence permit and passport numbers, said Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC).
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Qin Gang, China’s new ambassador to US, strikes conciliatory note

By Vincent Ni China affairs correspondent
  • A former news assistant at United Press International’s bureau in Beijing, Qin became a diplomat in 1992 and has served in various capacities at the Chinese embassy in London three times throughout his career.
  • “China and the United States are entering a new round of mutual exploration, understanding and adaptation, trying to find a way to get along with each other in the new era,” Qin said, signalling Beijing’s thinking on the current state of the relationship, and invoking memories of former US national security advisor Henry Kissinger’s trailblazing cold-war-era visit to Beijing .
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It is time to take even more drastic measures to save the planet – here’s what we need to do

By Donnachadh McCarthy
  • These oil corporations, despite their own scientists warning for decades that fossil fuels would lethally disrupt the climate, are planning trillions of new fossil fuel investments over the coming decade – and the banks are pouring in trillions in loans required to fund this expansion.
  • This behaviour is a perfect analogy for the heads of our governments, banks, media-corporations and oil corporations, who are driving our planet headlong into climate catastrophe – despite seeing the destruction ahead.
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Japan set to extend coronavirus state of emergency in Tokyo, casting shadow over Olympics

By Erin Cunningham
  • Japan was planning Thursday to extend a state of emergency in Tokyo and expand the measure to four other regions as the nationwide number of new daily coronavirus cases soared past 10,000 for the first time, officials said.
  • Olympic organizers Thursday announced 24 new coronavirus cases linked to the Games, as well as two hospitalizations, marking the largest single-day increase of the events.
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Tokyo Olympics: Asian-American gymnast Sunisa Lee wins gold medal in women’s all-round event

By Agence France-Presse
American teenager Sunisa Lee won the women’s gymnastics all-around Olympic gold on Thursday, succeeding defending champion Simone Biles who withdrew over concerns for her mental health.Lee, 18, won ahead of Brazil’s Rebeca Andrade, with Russian women’s team gold medallist Angelina Melnikova in the bronze medal position.It was the fourth final in four days to go down to the final rotation, with Lee’s polished floor exercise earning 13.7 to go into provisional gold, with Andrade unable to […]Read more >Similar articles >
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China’s US ambassador pick shines light on debate over ‘wolf warrior’ diplomacy

By Vincent Ni China affairs correspondent
  • China’s appointment of a new ambassador to the US has shone a light on the ongoing debate among analysts about how Beijing communicates with its biggest competitor, the future of its “wolf warrior” diplomacy and how Xi Jinping’s call to “tell a good China story” might work in practice.
  • It was a confusion shared by some state media journalists – often labelled as Beijing’s “propagandists” – said Wang Zichen, a former Brussels correspondent for the official news agency Xinhua, now working in its headquarters in Beijing.
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Malta failed to protect murdered journalist, says inquiry

  • The government of Malta failed to adequately protect anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia and bore responsibility for creating a "culture of impunity," an independent inquiry into the car bomb murder concluded on Thursday.
  • In their report, the three judges — two retired and one sitting — leading the inquiry said that the risk to Caruana Galizia's life escalated from the moment she exposed the corruption and offshore dealings of Malta's political and business elites through the 2016 Panama Papers leak.
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Post-Covid destination: Bulgaria

As more people are vaccinated and countries open to cross border travel for those with a Covid certificate, Bulgaria emerges as one of the first places ready to accept international tourists. Covid infection rates in the country have been low to moderate and the local vaccination program is ongoing. The country has had two waves since the beginning of the pandemic, but the average number of new cases in July for the whole country remained under 70 which compared to Finland’s July average of 300 is rather tolerable.

[…]Read more >Similar articles >
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Dressel leads U.S. with gold on night of swimming records, rivalries

By Saphora Smith and NBC Olympics
  • Dressel's victory in swimming's blue riband event was the most high-profile result on a night that saw a number of records splashed aside in the pool and rivalries renewed between Team USA and Australia, as well as medal table challengers China .
  • Billed as the heir to swimming superstar Michael Phelps, American Caeleb Dressel did not flinch Thursday as he powered through the 100-meter freestyle to take the gold and an Olympic record.
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Philippines’ first Olympic gold medalist reminisces about training in Taiwan

  • Taipei, July 29 (CNA) Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who won the Philippines' first-ever Olympic gold medal earlier this week, said Thursday that she has fond memories of training in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, in 2019 and feels like she has family there.
  • In addition, she got to train with Taiwanese weightlifter Kuo Hsing-chun (郭婞淳), who won a gold medal in the women's 59kg weight class at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, Diaz said.
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More than 5,000 Covid-19 deaths registered in Yucatán

By Yucatan Times
  • According to the daily technical statement of the SSY, this Wednesday, July 28th, 284 confirmed active cases of Covid-19 were registered, distributed in 42 municipalities, as well as 19 deaths, of which six were from Mérida, two from Valladolid and Ticul, respectively, the rest took place in Acanceh, Homún, Hunucmá, Ixil, Kanasín, Motul, Tekax and Tizimín.
  • Mérida, Yucatán, (July 29, 2021).- In the State of Yucatan, the barrier of five thousand deaths from Covid-19 has been exceeded, revealed the State Health Secretariat (SSY) by establishing that in the 10 municipalities with the highest incidence of mortality is concentrated 75 percent of the total.
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Top Texas Prosecutor Is Sorry He Simone Biles a ‘National Embarrassment’

By Paul Blest
  • Texas Deputy Attorney General of Legal Strategy Aaron Reitz made the comment in a now-deleted tweet posted Wednesday, in response to a video published by a conservative publisher comparing Biles with former U.S. Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug.
  • A deputy attorney general from Simone Biles’ home state of Texas is apologizing after calling the Olympic gymnast a “selfish, childish, national embarrassment” in response to her pulling out of the team final in Tokyo earlier this week—a comment that earned him a public rebuke from his boss.
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Voter ID laws are probably here to stay. What can be done about it? | The fight to vote

By Spenser Mestel
  • To help voters comply with ID requirements for absentee ballots, VoteRiders has even partnered with a law firm that accepts photos of their documents through an encrypted website, prints a photocopy and mails it to their home.
  • “When someone registers to vote, the board of elections pulls a picture of their signature from the state’s DMV,” she says.
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Plug sockets should be higher up the wall to make homes more flood resilient, says environment boss

By Olivia Rudgard
  • Suggesting people visit gov.uk to learn about the government’s flood guidance, he added: “That will give you very good advice about measures that you could put into your property - flood gates, impermeable floors, moving the electrics up the walls.
  • Asked if those living on the ground floor should consider refurbishments to make their homes more flood resilient, he said: “Yes. So there is a greater risk because of climate change.
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Uccle to install three bridges for safer squirrel crossings

By Alan Hope
  • The new bridges will follow the example of the bridge installed some time ago in Jette commune, which is a sort of net suspended high above the ground between two trees – dizzily high for ground-based humans, but no challenge to arboreal animals like squirrels.
  • How many animals will as a result of the bridges be saved by being able to cross safely is a matter for conjecture for the time being, but the result is certain to be ‘more than zero’.
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Denmark could face legal action over attempts to return Syrian refugees

By Bethan McKernan, Rosie Swash and Annie Kelly
  • Denmark’s attempt to return hundreds of Syrians to Damascus after deeming the city safe will “set a dangerous precedent” for other countries to do the same, say lawyers who are preparing to take the Danish government to the European court of human rights (ECHR) over the issue.
  • Guernica 37, a London-based chambers which provides pro-bono and affordable assistance in transnational justice and human rights cases, is working with asylum lawyers and affected families in Denmark to mount a challenge to the government policy under the Geneva convention principle of “ non-refoulement ” .
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AMLO proposed that Cuba be declared a “World Heritage Site” for being an “example of resistance” against U.S. aggressions (OPINION)

By Yucatan Times
  • The Oppenheimer Report .- It sounds like a joke, but Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador has proposed that Cuba be declared a “World Heritage Site” for being an “example of resistance” against U.S. aggressions.
  • Spain’s former President Felipe Gonzalez, a democratic socialist, told me in an interview last week, that the U.S. embargo could be blamed for perhaps up to 30 percent of Cuba’s economic fiasco, “but 70 percent of it can only be attributed to a mistaken policies that have been carried out for the past six decades” by the island’s regime.
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Yucatecan girl from Maxcanú to star in international film about water conservation

By Yucatan Times
  • Little Oriana is one of the youngest environmental activist s in Yucatan and all of Mexico.
  • At a young age, Oriana is an environmental activist concerned about preserving the environment and this earned her participation in the documentary and in early July, little Oriana and other children from Maxcanú were trained in topics such as community monitoring of water quality, the geohydrological system, the human right to water and protected natural areas, as part of their training for the documentary.
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Half of France turns red, Italy almost fully orange on European travel map

By Maïthé Chini
  • Europe is turning less and less green with each update to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC)’s travel map, as almost all of Italy has turned orange on Thursday.
  • Especially the popular holiday destinations are doing less well than in the previous update, as the south of France turned red, most of Italy turned orange, and the island of Sardinia even turned red.
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Nikola Founder Trevor Milton Indicted for Allegedly Lying About Everything

By Aaron Gordon
  • Trevor Milton, the founder of a vehicle startup Nikola, has been indicted on three counts of fraud for allegedly pretending his company had working vehicles when it did not.
  • The charges, brought by the U.S. Attorney's office in the Southern District of New York, outline a company founder who painted himself to the public as an honest, straightforward source of information about his company but in fact was allegedly lying about nearly everything.
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UK Covid live: vaccines have prevented 60,000 deaths and 22m infections in England, new research suggests

By Andrew Sparrow
  • Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, has been doing the minister for broadcasting slot this morning, and on the Today programme he effectively admitted that the government has been talking up the need for vaccine passports recently to encourage younger people to get the jab.
  • But no senior minister has said so in public this explicitly, and Raab’s comment also begs the question, if the threat actually works, will vaccine passports then still be needed in the autumn?
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Elderly Maya indigenous women, the most affected by gender violence in Yucatan

By Yucatan Times
  • “The biggest problem for Yucatan continues to be the issue of domestic violence, in rural Maya communities as well, where there are no institutional services and women are at risk and they live in a vulnerable situation,” she commented.
  • Adelaida Salas Salazar, representative of the Observatorio Ciudadano Nacional del Feminicidio in Yucatán, mentioned that there are several cases of women who have been raped across the state, mostly by their own partners, but they do not file a complaint and do not report the hospital centers where they are treated.
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Apple’s Siri becomes target of nationalist netizens after glitch caused it to skip Chinese Olympic gold tally

By Masha Borak
Apple’s virtual assistant Siri felt the wrath of Chinese social media users this week after the artificial intelligence system was unable to read out China’s tally of gold medal wins at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics due to an apparent technical glitch.Users of the country’s social media platform Weibo expressed displeasure on Wednesday morning as they uploaded video screen captures from their iPhones showing the official Olympic gold medal tally of China. While the video image showed that Japan won […]Read more >Similar articles >
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Taiwan bans pork products from Dominican Republic

  • Taipei, July 29 (CNA) Taiwan on Thursday imposed a ban on all pork products from the Dominican Republic, citing a reported outbreak of African swine fever (ASF) in the Caribbean country.
  • The ASF virus, however, has been found in confiscated products such as mooncakes, which often contain pork from unknown sources and are brought into Taiwan illegally by arriving passengers, the center said.
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Inquiry into Malta journalist’s slaying blames state

  • VALLETTA, Malta -- An independent inquiry into the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia released on Thursday has found that the Maltese state “has to bear responsibility” for the assassination due the culture of impunity emanating from the highest levels of government.
  • An independent inquiry into the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has found that the Maltese state “has to bear responsibility” for the assassination due the culture of impunity emanating from the highest levels of government
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Treasurer warns Sydney lockdown could lead to second recession

By Shane Wright
  • Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has warned the nation could fall into a second recession if the Greater Sydney lockdown failed to contain the coronavirus outbreak, as industry groups say home builder grants won’t be as effective to drive another economic recovery.
  • The economy is expected to shrink over the September quarter due to the extended restrictions in NSW, Mr Frydenberg said.
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Israel and Jordan’s Relationship Is Better Than It Looks

By Aaron Magid
  • Although Jordanians often deemed Netanyahu’s actions as provocations —Jordan’s King Abdullah II reportedly refused to take Netanyahu’s phone calls in 2015 and 2020 due to frustrations with the Israeli premier—Abdullah has maintained diplomatic and security ties with Israel throughout his 22-year tenure, irrespective of the country’s premier.
  • Although Jordanians often deemed Netanyahu’s actions as provocations —Jordan’s King Abdullah II reportedly refused to take Netanyahu’s phone calls in 2015 and 2020 due to frustrations with the Israeli premier—Abdullah has maintained diplomatic and security ties with Israel throughout his 22-year tenure, irrespective of the country’s premier.
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Lucia Mantione: murdered Sicilian girl finally given funeral after 66 years

By Lorenzo Tondo in Montedoro
  • “This is the day of Lucia’s redemption and the redemption of Montedoro,” said Rosa Alba, 73, who knew Lucia as a child and for years led the battle to persuade the church to recognise its error and allow the girl’s funeral in the village.
  • Inside were the remains of Lucia Mantione, a 13-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted and murdered in 1955 and for whom the Catholic church for 66 years, in its application of an arcane principle, had forbidden a funeral.
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Malaysians fear possible Covid-19 cluster from crowded KLCC vaccination centre

  • Long lines stretching more than 2km from the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) vaccination centre (PPV) sparked concerns of another Covid-19 cluster-in-waiting, as hundreds of workers waited to get their jabs.
  • There will be many foreign workers from Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan who will be sent there to receive their inoculation at the KLCC PPV," he said.
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London’s latest tourist attraction, a $3 million pile of mud, forced to close after just two days

By Jennifer Hassan
  • The 82-foot-high monument is offering people back the price of admission, which ranged up to 8 pounds or around 11 dollars, as as local officials conceded the project officially known as the Marble Arch Mound wasn’t ready for public viewing yet and closed the site until further notice.
  • The mound was designed to offer a viewing platform of Marble Arch, a monument near Hyde Park.
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Volunteers, bulk food orders among suggestions to get hawkers onto digital platforms

  • Among the top three reasons cited by hawkers for not adopting online platforms were that food items such as drinks, dessert and small ticket items were not suitable for delivery, Mr Tan said.
  • The 20-member work group was formed on June 17 to help hawkers impacted by the pandemic understand the benefits of going digital and to support them in using online ordering and delivery services.
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EU calls for action to beef up Lithuania’s Belarus border

  • BRUSSELS -- The European Union’s top migration official is urging member countries to help Lithuania beef up surveillance on its border with Belarus and not to give in to political pressure from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
  • The European Union’s top migration official is urging member nations to help Lithuania boost surveillance on its border with Belarus and not to give in to political pressure from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
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In Algeria, France’s 1960s nuclear tests still taint ties

  • France carried out its first successful atomic bomb test deep in the Algerian Sahara in 1960, making it the world's fourth nuclear power after the United States, the Soviet Union and Britain.
  • In his landmark report on French colonial rule and the 1954-62 Algerian War, historian Benjamin Stora recommended continued joint work that looks into "the locations of nuclear tests in Algeria and their consequences".
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