Charles has been proclaimed king. But who is Charles the man?

Charles has been proclaimed king. But who is Charles the man?

Charles Philip Arthur George, Queen Elizabeth II’s eldest son, has finally ascended the throne as King Charles III. As Prince of Wales, Charles has been there for as long as many of us can remember; every major moment in his life, from his birth through to his marriages and parenting of two sons, his public declarations about architecture, environmental sustainability and so on have been paraded before us in a regular drip feed of media coverage. And yet, many Australians feel as if they know little about Charles the man. Born in 1948 to the then Duke and Duchess of…
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Queen Elizabeth II: the end of the ‘new Elizabethan age’

Queen Elizabeth II: the end of the ‘new Elizabethan age’

When Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1952, Britain was just seven years out of the second world war. Rebuilding work was still ongoing, and rationing key products such as sugar, eggs, cheese and meat would continue for another year or so. But the austerity and restraint of the 1940s was giving way to a more prosperous 1950s. It is perhaps no wonder, then, that the Queen’s succession was hailed as the “new Elizabethan age”. Society was changing, and here was a young, beautiful queen to sit at its helm. Seventy years later, Britain looks very different. Elizabeth…
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The Mediterranean has experienced record sea temperatures this summer: this could devastate marine life

The Mediterranean has experienced record sea temperatures this summer: this could devastate marine life

by - John Spicer Professor of Marine Zoology, University of Plymouth - The Conversation The ocean sustains all life on our planet. It provides food to eat and oxygen to breathe, while playing a key role in moderating our climate. But marine life is increasingly threatened by climate change. The ocean is becoming considerably warmer, affecting its ability to sustain life. The searing temperatures seen around the Mediterranean this year are indicative of rising global temperatures. This is set to continue over the next century, contingent on how much CO₂ we continue to emit. The International Energy Agency reported that…
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Living with COVID: how treating masks like umbrellas could help us weather future pandemic threats

Living with COVID: how treating masks like umbrellas could help us weather future pandemic threats

Thankfully, the UK now looks to be past the peak of both the recent heatwave and the latest COVID wave. But there will be more of both – and in future, we might think about how we protect ourselves from COVID in the same way we protect ourselves from the weather. An umbrella is a useful analogy. If we look out the window or check the weather forecast and see rain, we would probably take an umbrella out with us. Similarly, if COVID cases are starting to rise or if a new wave is forecast, we might consider grabbing a…
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The tongue: how one of the body’s most sensitive organs is helping blind people ‘see’

The tongue: how one of the body’s most sensitive organs is helping blind people ‘see’

Ever wondered why kissing feels better than holding hands? The tongue is a pretty incredible piece of kit, though notoriously difficult to study, due to its position inside the mouth. Obviously, it gives us access to the wonderful world of taste, but more than that, it has greater sensitivity to touch than the fingertip. Without it, we aren’t able to speak, sing, breathe efficiently or swallow delicious beverages. So why don’t we use it even more? My new study investigates how to make the most of this strange organ – potentially as an interface to help people with visual impairments…
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Boris Johnson is a bit like Churchill – but not in the ways he might want

Boris Johnson is a bit like Churchill – but not in the ways he might want

Parallels don’t usually make for good history. They can overly flatter or excuse those involved, or imply a historic figure would act today as they did in the past. Sometimes, though, politicians themselves invite comparisons with a famous predecessor. It isn’t surprising, then, that Boris Johnson has been judged against Winston Churchill, the leader Johnson has frequently invoked and whom he even wrote a book about. Churchill served as prime minister from 1940 to 1945 and took up the office again in 1951. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has suggested that Johnson could return to the role of prime minister in…
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Afghanistan a year after the Taliban occupation: An ongoing war on human rights

Afghanistan a year after the Taliban occupation: An ongoing war on human rights

The word “anniversary” usually brings about happy and memorable moments. But Aug. 15 marks one year since the Taliban takeover and occupation of Afghanistan, and it’s not a happy occasion for my homeland. Recently, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released a report entitled “Human Rights in Afghanistan,” delving into the situation in the country since the takeover. The report is troubling but not shocking as it highlights civilian casualties, restrictions on women’s rights and freedom of speech, extrajudicial killings and ethnic minority persecutions. Yet a lot is under-reported due to the difficulties in gathering evidence against the…
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Ukraine war: first grain ship leaves Odesa, but EU should have seen food and energy crises coming

Ukraine war: first grain ship leaves Odesa, but EU should have seen food and energy crises coming

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in four interrelated security crises. The war in Ukraine is a tragedy for human security, but it affects geopolitical security as well as food and energy security. These four crises have been compounded by the failure of coercive diplomacy. This is a form of diplomacy which uses either sticks or carrots to encourage “an adversary” – in this case Russia – to change its behaviour. Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the EU and US have sought to coerce Putin to row back on his aggression against Ukraine by imposing sanctions, but…
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Why Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan puts the White House in delicate straits of diplomacy with China

Why Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan puts the White House in delicate straits of diplomacy with China

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan on Aug. 2, 2022 – a highly controversial trip that has been strongly opposed by China. Such is the sensitivity over the island’s status that even before Pelosi’s plane touched down in the capital of Taipei, mere reports of the proposed trip prompted a warning by China of “serious consequences.” In the hours before she set foot on the island, Chinese fighter jets flew close to the median line separating Taiwan and China, while Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi commented that U.S. politicians who “play with fire” on Taiwan would “come to…
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Three ways to tackle the ‘Sunday scaries’, the anxiety and dread many people feel at the end of the weekend

Three ways to tackle the ‘Sunday scaries’, the anxiety and dread many people feel at the end of the weekend

by Jolanta Burke - Senior Lecturer, Centre for Positive Psychology and Health, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences Sunday is often a chance to catch up with friends, lost sleep, and recover from last night’s hangover. But for many of us, by the time Sunday afternoon rolls around, a feeling of intense anxiety and dread sets in – often referred to as the “Sunday scaries”. It’s hardly surprising the “Sunday scaries” are so common. After all, research shows Sunday is our unhappiest day of the week – with Saturday being the peak. There are a number of reasons why…
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Food and drinks are getting sweeter. Even if it’s not all sugar, it’s bad for our health

Food and drinks are getting sweeter. Even if it’s not all sugar, it’s bad for our health

Humans have an evolutionary preference for sweetness. Sweet foods, like fruit and honey, were an important energy source for our ancestors. However, in the modern world, sweetened foods are readily available, very cheap and advertised extensively. Now, we are consuming too much sugar in foods and drinks – the kind that is added rather than sugar that is naturally occurring. Consuming too much added sugar is bad news for health. It is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. Because of these health concerns, manufacturers started using non-nutritive sweeteners to sweeten food as well. These sweeteners contain little…
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Four ways Brexit and the loss of free movement have made life harder for mixed British-European families

Four ways Brexit and the loss of free movement have made life harder for mixed British-European families

by Michaela Benson Professor in Public Sociology, Lancaster University; Elena Zambelli Senior research associate, Lancaster University; Nando Sigona Professor of International Migration and Forced Displacement and Director of the Institute for Research into Superdiversity, University of Birmingham Brexit and the end of free movement between the UK and the EU has had notable consequences for family life, particularly for mixed British-European families whether they are living in the UK or Europe. Family members who before Brexit held common status as EU citizens now find they have different statuses and rights, both in the places they live and when it comes…
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How the women’s Euros 2022 beat the sceptics to breath new life into football

How the women’s Euros 2022 beat the sceptics to breath new life into football

by John Williams Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Leicester Along with 27,444 other people, I was in Milton Keynes for the Women’s European Championship semi-final between Germany and France on Wednesday night. It was a high-quality, hard-fought contest, the Germans eventually toughing it out over the more skilful French, winning through to the final where they meet the host nation, England, in a highly anticipated match. Sound familiar? Germany have won eight out of 12 European Women’s Championships. In the men’s game, Germany has something of a hoodoo over England, winning ten of 13 tournament games since England’s…
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Ukraine Recap: who is winning this war? Both sides, if you believe the claims

Ukraine Recap: who is winning this war? Both sides, if you believe the claims

by Jonathan Este Associate Editor, International Affairs Editor We’re now five months into the war in Ukraine and the effects of Vladimir Putin’s “special military operation” are spreading their sinister tentacles far beyond eastern Europe in a manner that is affecting life for just about everyone. Grain shortages are being caused by the blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Energy prices are spiralling thanks to Russia’s decision to limit gas supplies to western Europe. And, of course, millions of innocent families have been forced to flee their homeland to try to rebuild their lives in a new country. All of…
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Pope Francis: perhaps it is time for him to retire – here’s what could mean for the future of the papacy

Pope Francis: perhaps it is time for him to retire – here’s what could mean for the future of the papacy

by Jan Machielsen - Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History, History, Archaeology and Religion, Cardiff University Pope Francis was recently forced to deny rumours that he was about to retire, instead making clear that he has no plans to step down just yet. Perhaps, though he should think again. The 85-year-old Catholic leader, currently in Canada, has again been filmed using a wheelchair. Indeed, in an interview before his trip, the pope left open the possibility of retirement if his health fails him. Francis would be only the third pope in history to retire, but the second in a row.…
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Why Commonwealth summit in Kigali won’t be the relaunch some were hoping for

Why Commonwealth summit in Kigali won’t be the relaunch some were hoping for

Leaders of some 54 countries – from Africa, Europe, Asia and Southern America – are set to converge on Kigali between 20 June and 25 June 2022 for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. Philip Murphy, a professor of Commonwealth history examines the expectations and limitations of the Kigali conference. The Commonwealth consists of 54 independent member states. Most of them were formerly ruled by the British, although Mozambique, which joined in 1995, and Rwanda, which joined in 2009, do not share that historical link to the UK. There are 19 Commonwealth states in Africa, eight in Asia, three in…
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IVF: here’s how genetics may be affecting its success – new insights

IVF: here’s how genetics may be affecting its success – new insights

It has been almost 44 years years since the first in vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedure was successfully performed in 1978 in Lancashire, England. Since then, more than 8 million babies have been born worldwide to assisted reproductive technologies, such as IVF. But despite its increasing use, the success rate of IVF still remains relatively low, at around 30%. There may be a number of reasons for this. In our recent paper, we argue that this low rate is partially due to the many unfavourable genetic changes that we carry in our DNA. Genetic changes happen when mutations in our genes…
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How can Russia’s invasion of Ukraine end? Here’s how peace negotiations have worked in past wars

How can Russia’s invasion of Ukraine end? Here’s how peace negotiations have worked in past wars

by Philipp Kastner Senior Lecturer in International Law, The University of Western Australia Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is unlikely to be resolved on the battlefield. An end to the bloodshed and destruction of Ukraine can be negotiated, but such negotiations need to be mediated carefully. So far, all attempts have been unsuccessful. As have been calls on Putin to end the war, from Western heads of state to the pope. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the president of Turkey, is currently acting as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine. Such a situation, where a separate country or politician assumes the role of…
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Three NATO gambles that have played a big role in the horrors of war in Ukraine

Three NATO gambles that have played a big role in the horrors of war in Ukraine

by John Duncan - For 25 years, experts warned that the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was risky. The leading voice among them was the late American diplomat and historian George F. Kennan, who wrote in 1997: “Expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era.” He added it would “have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy,” “inflame nationalistic, anti-western and militaristic tendencies” in Russia, and “restore the atmosphere of the Cold War to East-West relations.” The decision not to heed these warnings was a major…
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Ukraine: How citizenship and race play out in refugees’ movements in Europe

Ukraine: How citizenship and race play out in refugees’ movements in Europe

Raluca Bejan - As millions of refugees flee Ukraine as a result of the Russian invasion, one question that has been raised is: Why have Ukrainians been welcomed into eastern Europe, unlike Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans and Eritreans? Is it because they are white? Criticisms imply that the European Union treats refugees from the Global South differently, and that such treatment is based on race. Critics also highlight that Romania and Poland’s hospitality to Ukrainians stands in stark contrast to their past reluctance to accommodate refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Yet hasty interpretations that single out race as the…
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From soaring gas prices to another world war, economic sanctions can lead to dire unintended consequences

From soaring gas prices to another world war, economic sanctions can lead to dire unintended consequences

The Conversation - Western governments have united to bring in a number of serious economic sanctions against Russia in retaliation for its violence in Ukraine, including the latest announcement that the United States is revoking Russia’s “most favoured nation” status that will impose new trade tariffs. The moves were not a surprise. The U.S. and its western allies have increasingly turned to sanctions, investment bans, embargoes and other forms of economic warfare over the last two decades. But sanctions and economic warfare give rise to unintended consequences. They can divert from diplomatic mediation and dialogue. They also carry a price…
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Ukraine war: Poland’s failed deal to supply MiG-29s shows Nato’s fear of escalation

Ukraine war: Poland’s failed deal to supply MiG-29s shows Nato’s fear of escalation

by Professor Christoph Bluth - The Ukraine war has become to some extent a proxy conflict between Nato and Russia. The American president, Joe Biden – supported by other Nato leaders – made it clear even before the invasion that the US and Nato would not become involved in the conflict militarily. Instead, Biden sought to deter Russia with the threat of severe economic sanctions. But as the invasion and occupation of Ukraine has continued, Nato has been drawn ever more deeply into the conflict with the provision of lethal military hardware which is enabling Ukraine to mount a serious…
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Why Russia still has Europe over a barrel when it comes to oil supply

Why Russia still has Europe over a barrel when it comes to oil supply

by Slawomir Raszewski - Oil and war have been inextricably linked for decades, and Ukraine is no exception. And as the west seeks to put ever greater economic pressure on Vladimir Putin, the US announced a ban on importing Russian oil. The UK government said it too would aim for a similar stance. And while the EU may also wish to follow this path, it is harder for a country to boycott Russian oil if it has no alternative supplier. The US and the UK for example, have recently been importing only around 8% of the oil they use from…
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Vladimir Putin points to history to justify his Ukraine invasion, regardless of reality

Vladimir Putin points to history to justify his Ukraine invasion, regardless of reality

Vladimir Putin’s interest in history is well known. He has accused Poland of starting the Second World War. He maintains that the Soviet Union liberated the western world from Nazism and any discussion over that view is “historical revisionism.” His focus has been four-pronged. First, like the narrative of the former Soviet Union, Putin regards the 10th century Kyivan Rus state as the foundation of modern Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. A statue to the first prince to embrace Christianity, Volodymyr (in Russian, Vladimir), was erected in Moscow in 2016, a provocative counter to the much older one that’s been in…
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Why banning men from leaving Ukraine violates their human rights

Why banning men from leaving Ukraine violates their human rights

by Amy Maguire - As Ukraine scrambles to defend itself from Russia’s illegal invasion, men aged 18 to 60 have been banned from leaving the country. The declaration of martial law in Ukraine gives the government power to enact this ban, but it is not in keeping with human rights or humanitarian norms. So, what is actually happening in Ukraine and what does the law say? When Russia invaded last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Ukrainian civilians to defend their country. As the Ukrainian interior ministry also posted on Telegram: Today is the moment when every Ukrainian who…
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Ukraine: nonviolent resistance is a brave and often effective response to aggression

Ukraine: nonviolent resistance is a brave and often effective response to aggression

by - Alexandre Christoyannopoulos - Responses to the Russian invasion have been swift. Thousands of people both in Ukraine and abroad are enlisting to fight against the odds. Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are being forcibly mobilised. An “international legion” is being formed from hundreds of non-Ukrainians volunteers. People across the world are donating money to help Ukraine buy military equipment. Western countries are sending arms. But could non-violent resistance be an effective or even better alternative? Advocates of pacifism and nonviolence are often ridiculed as naïve, as dangerous, or even as unpatriotic cowards. Even in…
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Banning Russia from world events will help to alienate Putin

Banning Russia from world events will help to alienate Putin

by - Mike Duignan - A world fair is currently being held in Dubai, with delegations from 192 countries celebrating and promoting their nation’s place in the global community. Among the attractions at Expo 2020 is Russia’s intricately designed pavilion, where visitors are invited to consider two pertinent questions: How do we find our place in an interconnected world, and how can we better understand each other despite our differences? Meanwhile, as missiles land on Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has completely disconnected his country, and shown no interest at all in understanding difference. Perhaps then, Russia will not be invited to…
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Meet Russia’s oligarchs, a group of men who won’t be toppling Putin anytime soon

Meet Russia’s oligarchs, a group of men who won’t be toppling Putin anytime soon

by Stanislav Markus - U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders are setting their sights on Russia’s oligarchs as they seek new ways to punish Vladimir Putin – and those who have enabled him and profited from his reign – for waging war in Ukraine. Biden singled out wealthy oligarchs in his State of the Union address, promising to “seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets.” “We are coming for your ill-begotten gains,” he said. And in the U.K., two more rich Russians were added to the nine other oligarchs who have been personally sanctioned over the…
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How do Russia’s reasons for war stack up? An expert on ‘just war’ explains

How do Russia’s reasons for war stack up? An expert on ‘just war’ explains

by Valerie Morkevicius - War is always a tragedy. It sometimes seems inevitable. But is it ever justified? Philosophers, theologians, politicians and military leaders have wrestled with this question for millennia. And to a large degree, they’ve come to some basic agreements about what makes a war morally defensible: a set of ideas known as the “just war tradition.” That’s not to say that they always agree on how to apply just war principles to an actual conflict. Given the Kremlin’s attempts to justify its invasion of Ukraine, including its groundless accusations of genocide, it’s worth analyzing Russia’s position through…
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Why did Russia invade Ukraine? FAQs about the conflict that has shocked the world

Why did Russia invade Ukraine? FAQs about the conflict that has shocked the world

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has put the world on edge. The military move by Russian President Vladimir Putin has left many people looking for information on how and why the conflict started. Here are answers to some key questions. Putin nurses a deep sense of grievance over the loss of Russia’s power and influence since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Ukraine was formerly part of the Soviet Union but declared its independence in 1991. Having a prosperous, modern, independent and democratic European state bordering Russia was perceived as posing a threat to Russia’s autocratic regime.…
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Why Djokovic lost his fight to stay in Australia – and why the ruling sets a concerning precedent

Why Djokovic lost his fight to stay in Australia – and why the ruling sets a concerning precedent

Many sports stars are, rightly or wrongly, held up as role models. In the case of Novak Djokovic, we have a set of powerful factors at play. On one side is a tennis superstar who is unvaccinated and has raised concerns about receiving the vaccination. On the other side is a government which believes Djokovic’s presence in Australia will have a serious negative effect on public health orders and future vaccination levels. Today, the full Federal Court, in a unanimous judgement, dismissed Djokovic’s application to overturn the cancellation of his visa. It is not surprising he lost his case. Although…
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How Russian is Ukraine? (Clue: not as much as Vladimir Putin insists)

How Russian is Ukraine? (Clue: not as much as Vladimir Putin insists)

A political pamphlet published in 1762 described a conversation between “Great Russia” and “Little Russia”. In the exchange, the latter refused to be simply reduced to part of Great Russia and put forward its own unique history and identity. At the time, the name “Ukraine” did not yet designate a state. But the noun ukraina – a word that meant “borderland” in several Slavic languages – was already used to describe its future territory: the vast steppe region surrounding the Dnipro (Dnieper) River and bordering the Black Sea. The term Little Russia was gradually abandoned in the age of nationalism,…
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Why the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai eruption was so violent, and what to expect next

Why the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai eruption was so violent, and what to expect next

The Kingdom of Tonga doesn’t often attract global attention, but a violent eruption of an underwater volcano on January 15 has spread shock waves, quite literally, around half the world. The volcano is usually not much to look at. It consists of two small uninhabited islands, Hunga-Ha’apai and Hunga-Tonga, poking about 100m above sea level 65km north of Tonga’s capital Nuku‘alofa. But hiding below the waves is a massive volcano, around 1800m high and 20km wide. The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai volcano has erupted regularly over the past few decades. During events in 2009 and 2014/15 hot jets of magma and steam exploded…
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‘We’re entering unprecedented territory’: sports expert Q&A on what Djokovic row means for unvaccinated elite athletes

‘We’re entering unprecedented territory’: sports expert Q&A on what Djokovic row means for unvaccinated elite athletes

Tennis star Novak Djokovic looks to be out of the Australian Open after the country’s immigration minister, Alex Hawke, cancelled his visa “on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so”. This follows an earlier quashing of the original decision by Border Force officials to cancel the Serbian player’s visa when he arrived in Australia because he didn’t have a COVID vaccination. Djokovic’s lawyers have now headed to court to seek an injunction against his deportation. Djokovic was seeking a tenth title at the event, as well as the world record for men’s Grand Slam wins.…
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Sugar detox? Cutting carbs? A doctor explains why you should keep fruit on the menu

Sugar detox? Cutting carbs? A doctor explains why you should keep fruit on the menu

One of my patients – who had been struggling with obesity, uncontrolled diabetes and the cost of her medications – agreed in June 2019 to adopt a more whole-food plant-based diet. Excited by the challenge, she did a remarkable job. She increased her fresh fruit and vegetable intake, stopped eating candy, cookies and cakes and cut down on foods from animal sources. Over six months, she lost 19 pounds and her HbA1c – a measure of her average blood sugar – dropped from 11.5% to 7.6%. She was doing so well, I expected that her HbA1c would continue to drop…
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Trouble on the Belarus-Poland border: What you need to know about the migrant crisis manufactured by Belarus’ leader

Trouble on the Belarus-Poland border: What you need to know about the migrant crisis manufactured by Belarus’ leader

Using migrants as pawns is perhaps nothing new. But rarely do you have a situation in which one country encourages a migrant crisis on its own border for nakedly geopolitical reasons. That is what appears to be happening at the Poland-Belarus border, where violence has broken out between Polish border guards and Middle Eastern migrants who traveled there via Belarus, and who are set on reaching the European Union. Meanwhile, there is growing concern over those camped out in freezing conditions. _The Conversation asked Tatsiana Kulakevich, a specialist on Eastern European politics at the University of South Florida, to break…
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Refugees in the media: how the most commonly used images make viewers dehumanise them

Refugees in the media: how the most commonly used images make viewers dehumanise them

When the Syrian refugee crisis began in 2011, the journeys of thousands of people fleeing their home country to cross the Mediterranean were widely documented in the media. But the public response was tepid until 2015, when a photograph of drowned Syrian toddler Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach was printed in media around the world. The photo prompted international responses, a change of EU policy on refugees, and a surge in donations to charities working with refugees. Images shape our perceptions of the world and have the capacity to become political forces themselves. While more refugees risk their lives…
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Doomscrolling COVID news takes an emotional toll – here’s how to make your social media a happier place

Doomscrolling COVID news takes an emotional toll – here’s how to make your social media a happier place

Picture this: it’s April 2020, you’re between Zoom meetings, and scrolling through your social media newsfeed. Headlines like “Death toll continues to rise”, “COVID-19 may cause long-term health implications” and “Health-care systems overwhelmed” flash across your screen. Your mood takes a dive, but you can’t stop scrolling. If this scenario rings true for you, you’re not alone. Research shows people have a tendency to seek out information during uncertain times – it’s a natural coping mechanism. But is persistent information-seeking on social media, sometimes called doomscrolling, helpful during a pandemic, or any time? Research on the effects of bad news…
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Plastic waste is hurting women in developing countries – but there are ways to stop it

Plastic waste is hurting women in developing countries – but there are ways to stop it

If we are to build a greener, fairer and more equal society in the wake of COVID-19, it’s time for rich countries to end their practice of dumping plastic waste in developing countries. This not only harms the environment but disproportionately affects the women and girls who tend to clear it up. The problem was made worse for many developing countries when China announced its refusal to accept other countries’ plastic waste in 2018. The result has been an increase in plastic waste exports to Africa, much of which is proving hard to recycle and is ending up in rivers…
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Hollywood’s love of guns increases the risk of shootings – both on and off the set

Hollywood’s love of guns increases the risk of shootings – both on and off the set

In what appears to be a tragic accident, actor Alec Baldwin shot dead a cinematographer on Oct 21, 2021, while discharging a prop gun on set in New Mexico. It is too early to speculate what went wrong during the filming of the Western movie “Rust.” But the incident, in which the film’s director was also injured, highlights a simple fact: Guns are commonplace in Hollywood films. As scholars of mass communication and risk behavior, we have studied the growing prevalence of firearms on screen and believe that the more guns there are in movies, the more likely it is…
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Apple’s iPod came out two decades ago and changed how we listen to music. Where are we headed now?

Apple’s iPod came out two decades ago and changed how we listen to music. Where are we headed now?

On October 23, 2001, Apple released the iPod — a portable media player that promised to overshadow the clunky design and low storage capacity of MP3 players introduced in the mid-1990s. The iPod boasted the ability to “hold 1,000 songs in your pocket”. Its personalised listening format revolutionised the way we consume music. And with more than 400 million units sold since its release, there’s no doubt it was a success. Yet, two decades later, the digital music landscape continues to rapidly evolve. The iPod expanded listening beyond the constraints of the home stereo system, allowing the user to plug…
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The Human Brain Project: five achievements of Europe’s largest neuroscience programme

The Human Brain Project: five achievements of Europe’s largest neuroscience programme

by Barbara Jacquelyn SahakianProfessor of Clinical Neuropsychology, University of Cambridge Christelle LangleyPostdoctoral Research Associate, Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Cambridge Katrin AmuntsProfessor of Neuroscience, Forschungszentrum Jülich While humans have walked on the Moon and sent probes all over the solar system, our understanding of our own brain is still severely lacking. We do not have complete knowledge of how brain structure, chemicals and connectivity interact to produce our thoughts and behaviours. But this isn’t from an absence of ambition. It is nearly eight years since the start of the Human Brain Project (HBP) in Europe, which aims to unravel the brain’s…
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Supply chains can easily break — here’s how they can be made more resilient to prevent shortages

Supply chains can easily break — here’s how they can be made more resilient to prevent shortages

Supply chains are essential to everyday life, bringing materials to factories, food to your plate, and fuel to your car. The links in those chains – the manufacturers, logistics companies, warehouses and retailers – combine to form dynamic systems driven by customer demand. But a small, unpredictable change in demand can have major ramifications, as seen with the recent queues and rising tempers at petrol stations in the UK. This is because modern supply chains are not designed to cope with large levels of uncertainly around time, supply or demand. Instead, businesses have focused on developing operations which reduce costs…
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Don’t wear earphones all day – your ears need to breathe

Don’t wear earphones all day – your ears need to breathe

Wireless earphone sales are booming, with Apple alone selling an estimated 100 million sets of AirPods in 2020. Being untethered from our phones or devices means we are likely to wear earphones for longer periods. As a result, you might notice your ears feeling more sticky or waxy. Is this common? And what happens to our ears when we wear earphones? Although wireless earphones are fairly new to the market, there is a large amount of research investigating the long-term use of hearing aids, which in many cases, have a similar mechanism. From this research, it appears prolonged use of…
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WHO approved a malaria vaccine for children – a global health expert explains why that is a big deal

WHO approved a malaria vaccine for children – a global health expert explains why that is a big deal

The World Health Organization recommended its first malaria vaccine for children on Oct. 6, 2021 – a breakthrough hailed by the U.N. agency as a “historic moment.” Approval of the RTS,S/AS01 vaccine, which goes by the name Mosquirix, provides a “glimmer of hope” for Africa, according to Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa. It will now be rolled out to protect children against one of the world’s oldest and most deadly diseases. Malaria and global child health expert Dr. Miriam K. Laufer answered The Conversation’s questions about the vaccine and the WHO announcement. The WHO has recommended the…
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Why the UK’s ambitious plans for a trade deal with the US have been shelved

Why the UK’s ambitious plans for a trade deal with the US have been shelved

A trade deal between the UK and the US was once counted as a great potential prize of Brexit. But now those plans have been delayed, with no clear timetable in sight. Downplaying expectations of an agreement between the two countries before he met with the US president on September 21, British prime minister Boris Johnson said that Joe Biden had a “lot of fish to fry”. The apparent frostiness of the Biden administration swiftly led to suggestions from unnamed British government sources that the UK might instead apply to join the US-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement as an alternative. The difficulty,…
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Japan’s love affair with the fax machine – a strange relic of technological fantasies

Japan’s love affair with the fax machine – a strange relic of technological fantasies

With Japan riding the crest of its postwar economic miracle, Sony chairman Akio Morita and Japan’s Minister of Transport Shintarō Ishihara unleashed a manifesto. The document, published in 1989, contained a prophecy that propelled it to domestic bestseller status, and into the concerned hands of officials at the CIA. At the time, the authors noted, the American and Soviet superpowers had become “dependent on the initiative of the Japanese people” in developing new technology, as exemplified by the country’s dominant production of semiconductor chips. For Morita and Ishihara, this signalled “the end of modernity developed by Caucasians” and the emergence…
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Turning back migrant boats: what does the international law of the sea say?

Turning back migrant boats: what does the international law of the sea say?

The Home Office has unveiled plans to use “turnback” tactics in the English Channel, with the border force compelling small boats carrying migrants to return to French waters. The move is the latest in a series of strict immigration policies by Home Secretary Priti Patel, following the introduction of a controversial nationality and borders bill in July that seeks to criminalise arrival in the UK without permission. The practice of turnback or pushback of migrant boats is not new. Australia, Greece and Italy have all been criticised for similar policies, with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of…
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Over-the-counter rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 can help slow the spread of the delta variant — here’s when to use them

Over-the-counter rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 can help slow the spread of the delta variant — here’s when to use them

The rise of the highly transmissible delta variant around the U.S. has increased demand for rapid antigen COVID-19 tests that can be purchased from a pharmacy without a prescription, used at home, school or work and that give results in 15 minutes. On Sept. 9, 2021, the White House announced several initiatives to improve access to rapid antigen tests: It will use the Defense Production Act to boost the production of tests, require retailers to sell rapid tests at cost, distribute free rapid tests to community health centers and food banks and expand free testing in pharmacies. Rapid antigen testing…
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9/11: how politicians and the media turned terrorism into an Islamic issue

9/11: how politicians and the media turned terrorism into an Islamic issue

As we mark the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it is important to reflect on the legacy that event – and the “war on terror” more broadly – has had for the way news media cover terrorism. Though we should be clear that terrorism as we define it now predates the attacks by well over a century, what is significant about the events of 9/11 is the way they turned terrorism into a near-constant feature of the daily news cycle. Scholars have long-argued that there is a symbiotic relationship between the news media and terrorism. For journalists, terrorist violence…
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The Ronaldo effect: what big players mean for the business goals of clubs like Manchester United

The Ronaldo effect: what big players mean for the business goals of clubs like Manchester United

The prodigal son returns. In the last few days of a frenzied football transfer window, Manchester United pulled off a dream signing, welcoming Cristiano Ronaldo back to his former club. Excitement over his return to the Premier League is high – and with good reason. There are only a handful of sports stars on the planet who can generate this kind of global interest. But how does a player of Ronaldo’s professional stature affect the business side of a major football club? Where are the key financial wins generated by sporting superstars? In football transfer fee terms, Ronaldo returns to…
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Why Algeria cut diplomatic ties with Morocco: and implications for the future

Why Algeria cut diplomatic ties with Morocco: and implications for the future

The breakup of diplomatic relations between Algeria and Morocco in August is the product of a long history of tension. The two nations have never had long periods of friendship, notwithstanding the many factors that bring them together. Indeed, they belong to the same Maghreb region, share the same religion (Sunni Islam and Maleki rite) and identity, and speak a similar dialect. They also share a 1,550km common border. In fact, Algerian and Moroccan people are so close that it is difficult to distinguish them. But, historical, political and ideological dissimilarities since their respective independence weigh heavily in the relations…
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Assassinations and invasions – how the US and France shaped Haiti’s long history of political turmoil

Assassinations and invasions – how the US and France shaped Haiti’s long history of political turmoil

The powerful earthquake that struck Haiti on Aug. 14, 2021, followed a long series of natural and human-caused disasters to rock the country. Unfortunately, if history offers any clues, earthquake relief efforts will be complicated by the nation’s recent political unrest. President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated less than six weeks earlier, on July 7. Many Haitians felt hatred for the controversial president who, while running for office, was bribed by the oligarchy that has run Haiti’s economy since the 19th century. Moïse campaigned on a promise to feed the starving population. But he failed to ensure a fairer distribution of…
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‘Harder than I’d expected’: top players on why joining Premier League from abroad is so tough

‘Harder than I’d expected’: top players on why joining Premier League from abroad is so tough

The new football season has seen the return of fans, and the return of big money transfers. Ahead of the transfer window closing at the end of August, big names joining the English Premier League from overseas include Raphael Varane (to Manchester United from Real Madrid for £42 million) and Romelu Lukaku (to Chelsea from Inter Milan for £97.5 million). The clubs’ owners and fans will no doubt hope their expensive new players hit the ground running and provide immediate impact. Yet these moves do not always work out, with players sometimes failing to live up to their potential. Our…
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What is ISIS-K? Two terrorism experts on the group behind the deadly Kabul airport attack and its rivalry with the Taliban

What is ISIS-K? Two terrorism experts on the group behind the deadly Kabul airport attack and its rivalry with the Taliban

An attack on a crowd gathered outside Kabul’s airport on Aug. 26, 2021, has left at least 60 people dead, including at least a dozen U.S. Marines. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the coordinated suicide bomb and gun assault, which came just days after President Joe Biden warned that the group – an affiliate of the Islamic State group operating in Afghanistan – was “seeking to target the airport and attack U.S. and allied forces and innocent civilians.” Amira Jadoon, a terrorism expert at the U.S. Military Academy West Point, and Andrew Mines, a research fellow at the George Washington University’s…
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How online mindfulness training can help students thrive during the pandemic

How online mindfulness training can help students thrive during the pandemic

COVID-19 is reasserting itself, with the Delta variant posing a serious threat to young people. The pandemic has made physical distancing an inescapable new reality of post-secondary education as universities continue to deliver courses online. Our research shows mindfulness training can also be effective when delivered online, bringing benefits previously unknown to science. One year into the pandemic, students are showing signs of wear. The 2020 Student Experience Survey shows post-secondary students’ engagement with learning has dropped. Responses indicated they were 4% more likely to drop out due to stress or health concerns. Universities thus face a pressing need to…
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How Japan’s Olympic success has been followed by COVID failure

How Japan’s Olympic success has been followed by COVID failure

From a sporting perspective, the Tokyo Olympics were a massive success for Japan. Finishing third behind the Olympic behemoths of the US and China, Japan secured a record 27 gold medals. Yet, as the closing ceremony reached a crescendo, on the Tokyo streets ambulances were taking patients from hospital to hospital in a desperate search for available beds. During the first week of August, there were 2,897 cases of ambulances unable to admit patients to hospitals nationwide, a sharp increase from previous weeks. And with the delta variant now dominant, each day is currently seeing a record-breaking number of new…
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How students can use storytelling to bring the dangers of climate change to life

How students can use storytelling to bring the dangers of climate change to life

With the stark “code red” warnings from the world’s climate experts in the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) still ringing in our ears, it’s vital to give as many people as possible the tools with which to tackle the climate crisis. And key to this is encouraging climate literacy. Climate literacy is the ability to identify, understand and explain information associated with climate science. Being climate literate allows individuals to become active participants in the fight against climate change. Over the past few years, many young people and educators have pushed for the inclusion…
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