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Syria talks dominate G20 in Russia

June 15th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁桑拿 - (Comments Off on Syria talks dominate G20 in Russia)

Foreign Minister Bob Carr had a serious chat with Vladimir Putin as he headed into the first working meeting of the G20 leaders’ summit in St Petersburg.

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Most world leaders simply shook the Russian president’s hand and had a few brief words at the official welcome but Australia’s foreign minister engaged the president in a more lengthy conversation before entering the Constantine Palace.

During the round-table talks Senator Carr – standing in for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd – was seated next to Mr Putin as Australia is taking over the G20 presidency for 2014.

Before the talks got underway, Senator Carr told reporters he was hopeful the two-day forum could resolve the differences between the United States and Russia over how to handle the Syria crisis.

“I have never demonised Russia for its position,” the foreign minister said.

“We’ve got to work with Russia to see if we can bring together the possibility of a ceasefire and a negotiated solution.”

World leaders discussed Syria at a dinner hosted by Mr Putin at the historic Peterhof Palace on Thursday night.

Most, including Senator Carr, arrived together, but US President Barack Obama was initially nowhere to be seen and only turned up at the palace half an hour later.

The Australian foreign minister was laughing with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as they walked through the palace grounds.

Senator Carr earlier held bilateral meetings with his French and Canadian counterparts.

He is planning to meet with the Chinese foreign minister too before leaving St Petersburg.

Mr Obama arrived in Russia after clearing the first hurdle in his race to win domestic congressional backing for punitive strikes over the alleged use of chemical weapons by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.

Senator Carr reiterated at the summit Canberra’s support for any limited US air strikes that doesn’t involve boots on the ground.

The G20 is predominantly a financial forum which helps set the global economic agenda.

Australian lawyer Robert Milliner is part of the B20 group which channels the business community’s policy recommendations to the G20.

He said the B20 was hoping for a better investment environment that would lead to the creation of more jobs.

He told AAP while the G20 had a critical role to play on economic matters it was understandable Syria was interfering with that in St Petersburg.

“But we would encourage governments, while they have to deal with issues of the moment, to also focus on using these institutions to drive the outcomes that are necessary around economic growth.”

Trade unions wants targets to be set for increased investment and jobs growth to ensure the G20 isn’t just a “talk-fest”.

But Mr Milliner on Thursday said it was difficult to have specific targets given member states were so varied in terms of economic development.

The leaders’ summit winds up on Friday.

Coalition backtracks over net filter policy

June 15th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁桑拿 - (Comments Off on Coalition backtracks over net filter policy)

The federal coalition has been embarrassed over its “opt out” internet filtering policy, with Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull forced to step in and kill it off.

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The coalition’s plan to enhance online safety for children, released on Thursday, promised a default filtering system for smartphones and other internet services “which provides maximum protection”.

The coalition was accused of wanting to impose an “opt out” internet filter on all Australians, prompting communications spokesman Mr Turnbull to issue a terse statement saying the policy was “poorly worded” and incorrect.

“The correct position is that the Coalition will encourage mobile phone and internet service providers to make available software which parents can choose to install on their own devices to protect their children from inappropriate material,” the statement said.

“The policy posted online today is being replaced with the correct version.”

Later on Thursday Mr Abbott also junked the “opt out” policy, authored by Liberal backbencher Paul Fletcher.

“We don’t, wouldn’t, won’t support any policy of filtering the internet – you simply can’t do it and it shouldn’t be done anyway,” Mr Abbott told reporters at Silvern, east of Melbourne.

“I read the policy last night, quickly it has to be said, and I thought it was a reference to the ability of people to get a PC based filter.

“I’m sorry that it’s poorly worded, but that’s been cleared up.”

Mr Abbott reiterated: “We don’t support filtering the Internet, we don’t support censoring the Internet”.

“We do want to see children protected where parents wish from the kind of material which is available on the net,” he said.

Hunter sparked massive Yosemite fire

June 15th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁桑拿 - (Comments Off on Hunter sparked massive Yosemite fire)

Investigators believe a hunter sparked the monster wildfire which spread into America’s world-renowned Yosemite National Park and became California’s fourth biggest blaze ever.

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They dismissed earlier reports that the so-called Rim Fire, which is now 80 per cent contained, was caused by activity on an illegal marijuana farm near the US landmark park.

“Investigators from the US Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations and Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office have determined the Rim Fire began when a hunter allowed an illegal fire to escape,” said a statement by the US Forest Service.

“There is no indication the hunter was involved with illegal marijuana cultivation on public lands and no marijuana cultivation sites were located near the origin of the fire. No arrests have been made at this time.”

The hunter’s name is being withheld pending further investigation, the statement added.

The fire, which began on the afternoon of August 17 in the Stanislaus National Forest just outside Yosemite, now covers 95,442 hectares, according to the latest update on the Inciweb inter-agency website.

More than 4,300 firefighters are still working to contain the blaze, while aircraft have dropped more than 15.14 million litres of water and fire retardant over the last 17 days.

It is the fourth largest California wildfire since records began 1932, with an area five times that of Washington DC.

The largest in California history remains the 2003 Cedar fire in San Diego County, which destroyed 2,820 buildings and left 14 people dead after ripping through 110,000 hectares of land.

Authorities in California have in recent years faced increasing problems with marijuana farms hidden deep in the region’s rugged wilderness.

A 2009 fire that burned 36,420 hectares in the Los Padres National Forest near Santa Barbara was triggered by a campfire at a marijuana farm.

Mankind’s global warming role

June 15th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁桑拿 - (Comments Off on Mankind’s global warming role)

Climate change caused by human use of fossil fuels played a role in about a half dozen extreme weather events last year.

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A team of international scientists examined 12 wild weather episodes in 2012, from droughts in the United States and Africa to heavy rainfall in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, China and Japan.

About half of the hand-picked events showed some sign of being worse than expected due to elements like warmer oceans and hotter temperatures brought on by the rise in greenhouse gas emissions and aerosols in the atmosphere.

The report, called “Explaining Extreme Events of 2012 from a Climate Perspective”, was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

The peer-reviewed study included 18 research teams from around the world.

“All of the 2012 extreme events considered in this report, based on the authors’ analyses, would have likely occurred regardless of climate change,” said Thomas Karl, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency’s National Climatic Data Center.

The goal of the research effort is to understand whether extreme events are likely to occur more frequently in the future, and “whether their intensity is changing because of natural factors or human caused change,” Karl told reporters on Thursday.

Human influence on climate could be partially to blame for heavy rainfalls in Australia and New Zealand and in the record winter drought in southwestern Europe, scientists said.

However, unusual rains in China and Japan, while extreme, did not appear to have a clear link to human-caused climate change.

Nor did the US drought of 2012 appear to be influenced by climate change, even though the same group of scientists reported last year that a harsh dry spell from 2011 did appear to have been worsened by human-caused global warming.

Attribution of extreme events is difficult because climate change may be a contributing factor, but is not the sole factor, said Tom Peterson, principal scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

“If you add just a little bit of speed to your daily highway commute, you can substantially raise the odds that you will get hurt someday. But when you do get into an accident, the primary cause may not be your speed itself, it could be wet roads or texting drivers,” said Peterson.

While natural variability in climate may be the equivalent of dangerous drivers or slick streets, he likened the added speed on the road are the increases in heavy precipitation and sea level rise that are caused by global warming, he said.

“We know that the world is warming and the primary reason is the burning of fossil fuels,” Peterson added.

One of the strongest examples of human influence was seen in an unusual heat wave in the eastern US from March to May 2012. The human contribution to that event was estimated at 35 per cent, raising the risk of such a hot spell by 12 times, the report said.

Arctic sea ice hit a record low point of 3.41 million square kilometres, in September 2012, about half of the 1979-2000 average for that time of year.

The phenomenon that could not be explained by natural variability alone, though the extent of human influence was unclear, the report said.

Scientists expect Arctic sea ice extent will continue to decrease and may be all but gone by mid-century.

When it came to Hurricane Sandy, which wreaked havoc along the US east coast near New York and New Jersey, the storm “required many different factors to come together to create the major impacts that it did,” said the report.

“Therefore, Sandy is probably one of the most difficult extreme events of 2012 to fully explain.”

In the future, even weaker storms will be able to produce similar devastation due to sea level rise and coastal erosion, the report warned.

Superstorms are also expected to become more frequent in the US and elsewhere, it said.

Happy Mata pledges future to Chelsea

June 15th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁桑拿 - (Comments Off on Happy Mata pledges future to Chelsea)

Mata was voted Chelsea’s player of the year for the last two seasons but his omission from the team against Manchester United and Hull City in the Premier League and for last week’s Super Cup defeat by Bayern Munich prompted claims he was out of favour with coach Jose Mourinho.

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“I think it’s normal in every transfer window that there are lots of rumours but I’m happy here,” the former Valencia playmaker told Chelsea TV on Thursday.

“It’s been a very, very good two seasons for me here, maybe the best of my career, and what I want this season is the same.

“I’m looking forward to achieving as many trophies as we did the last two seasons and hopefully this is going to be a good season for us again,” said Mata, referring to the 2012 Champions League and FA Cup triumphs and last season’s Europa League win.

Mourinho has said repeatedly that Chelsea’s number 10 is not for sale and now the Spaniard is over the thigh strain that troubled him in pre-season, Mata is raring to go.

“My only aim is to play here, grow as a player and do as good a season as the last two which were amazing for me,” said the 25-year-old who was left out of the Spain squad for the World Cup qualifier against Finland on Friday and next Wednesday’s friendly versus Chile.

“These two seasons have flown by… but to me this is good because when you are enjoying things and you are happy, time goes quicker.

“I had four weeks off (ahead of pre-season training) and to be honest that’s too much time for me because in the last five or six years I didn’t have this sort of rest,” he said, referring to his international commitments.

“But I’ve had plenty of rest and now I’m feeling really good. The best thing for me is to play because I love to play.”

Chelsea, who are second in the Premier League table with seven points from three matches, play their next fixture at Everton on September 14.

(Editing by Ken Ferris)

Wawrinka cruises by Murray in seismic U.S. Open shocker

May 14th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁桑拿 - (Comments Off on Wawrinka cruises by Murray in seismic U.S. Open shocker)

Ninth-seeded Wawrinka dominated an out of sorts Murray 6-4 6-3 6-2 in just over two hours, winning the battle from the baseline and the net against the Wimbledon champion.

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The victory on a wind-blown Arthur Ashe Stadium court lifted the 28-year-old Swiss to his first grand slam semi-final.

The surging Wawrinka, who raised his 2013 record to 41-15 with the upset win, raised both arms in triumph after third seed Murray dumped a second-serve return into the net on match point.

“It feels amazing for sure, especially here,” the excited Swiss said. “He’s defending champion, he’s a tough opponent. It was a crazy match for me. To beat him in three sets is just amazing.”

Wawrinka broke the Scotsman four times and never faced a break point against a player noted for his ability to return.

The Swiss cracked 45 winners past a listless Murray and won 31 of 42 forays to the net in the one-sided match.

Murray admitted to something of a Wimbledon hangover after ending a drought of 77 years without a British winner since Fred Perry’s 1936 triumph at the All England Club.

“When you work hard for something for a lot of years, it’s going to take a bit of time to really fire yourself up and get yourself training 110 percent,” the Scotsman said.

“That’s something that I think is kind of natural after what happened at Wimbledon. But I got here. I got to the quarter-finals of a slam, which isn’t easy.”

Much more was expected of Murray, as it was for the other Swiss player that factored at Flushing Meadows – Roger Federer.

SEISMIC SHOCKER

Murray’s loss was the second seismic shocker to strike the men’s draw in the last two rounds following the straight sets dismissal of five-time U.S. Open champion Federer in the fourth round by Spain’s Tommy Robredo.

Robredo’s rousing victory robbed fans of a quarter-finals match between Federer and Rafa Nadal that would have marked the first U.S. Open meeting ever between the two champions, who have met 31 times elsewhere around the world.

Wawrinka’s victory sank the possibility of a Murray semi-final against top seed Novak Djokovic that would have reprised their 2012 U.S. Open and 2013 Wimbledon finals.

Djokovic was playing the last men’s quarter-final against 21st-ranked Mikhail Youzhny of Russia in Thursday’s night match.

Murray complained about the breezy conditions, but credited Wawrinka for playing a brilliant match.

“He played great. He hit big shots. He passed extremely well. He hit a lot of lines on big points. He served well. That was it,” said Murray. “He played a great match.”

Another upset was registered earlier when American twins Bob and Mike Bryan fell short in their bid to capture a calendar-year grand slam when they lost to Czech Radek Stepanek and India’s Leander Paes in the men’s doubles semi-finals.

The top-seeded brothers, who won this year’s Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon men’s doubles titles, fell 3-6 6-3 6-4.

“We’re very disappointed,” said Bob Bryan. “We hate to lose and we knew what was riding on this match and the opportunity of what we could have accomplished.”

The Bryans were hoping to become the first pairing to complete the calendar slam since Australia’s Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman in 1951.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

Stuart set to stay with us says Eels boss

May 14th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁桑拿 - (Comments Off on Stuart set to stay with us says Eels boss)

Interim Parramatta boss Matt Phelan says he expects Ricky Stuart to see out his contract with the Eels and be coaching at the NRL club next season and beyond.

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Stuart’s future has been the subject of intense speculation amid reports he has been offered a seven year $7 million dollar deal to coach Canberra, the club he won three premierships as a player, starting next year after they sacked David Furner last month.

The former Australia, NSW, Cronulla and Sydney Roosters mentor has done little to quash that speculation with some predicting he will announce his decision to leave the Eels shortly after their final round match against Newcastle at Hunter Stadium on Sunday.

But Phelan, the latest in a long line of chief executives to head up the embattled club, told the Eels website he is confident 2002 premiership winning coach Stuart will be at the club in 2014 and 2015.

“The number one issue on everyone’s lips is around our head coach Ricky Stuart,” Phelan said.

“Ricky Stuart has given no indication to me that he will not be coaching at this great club for 2014 and 2015.

“He is completely focused on this weekend’s fixture against the Newcastle Knights and all other conversations have been around our pre-season and pre-planning for 2014.”

Phelan also took aim at continuing reports over the disharmony of the Eels board, which many blame for the club’s current predicament – they will collect their second straight wooden spoon on Sunday – and for Stuart’s speculated desire to leave.

“I attend board meetings monthly and I speak to our board members on a day-to-day basis, specifically our chairman, Steve Sharp and I have seen no indication that they are not working towards the success of Parramatta in 2014 and beyond,” Phelan said.

“Every conversation I have with them, whether it be in a board meeting or individually, is focused on the success of this great club and returning it to the number one football club in the NRL.”

The right bacteria might help fight fat

May 14th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁桑拿 - (Comments Off on The right bacteria might help fight fat)

Call it a hidden ally: The right germs just might be able to help fight fat.

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Different kinds of bacteria that live inside the gut can help spur obesity or protect against it, say scientists at Washington University in St Louis who transplanted intestinal germs from fat or lean people into mice and watched the rodents change.

And what they ate determined whether the good germs could move in and do the job.

Thursday’s report raises the possibility of one day turning gut bacteria into personalised fat-fighting therapies, and it may help explain why some people have a harder time losing weight than others do.

“It’s an important player,” said Dr David Relman of Stanford University, who also studies how gut bacteria influence health but wasn’t involved in the new research.

“This paper says that diet and microbes are necessary companions in all of this. They literally and figuratively feed each other.”

The research was reported in the journal Science.

We all develop with an essentially sterile digestive tract. Bacteria rapidly move in starting at birth – bugs that we pick up from mom and dad, the environment, first foods.

Ultimately, the intestine teems with hundreds of species, populations that differ in people with varying health.

Overweight people harbour different types and amounts of gut bacteria than lean people, for example.

The gut bacteria we pick up as children can stick with us for decades, although their makeup changes when people lose weight, previous studies have shown.

Clearly, what you eat and how much you move are key to how much you weigh.

But are those bacterial differences a contributing cause of obesity, rather than simply the result of it?

If so, which bugs are to blame, and might it be possible to switch out the bad actors?

To start finding out, Washington University graduate student Vanessa Ridaura took gut bacteria from eight people – four pairs of twins that each included one obese sibling and one lean sibling.

One pair of twins was identical, ruling out an inherited explanation for their different weights. Using twins also guaranteed similar childhood environments and diets.

She transplanted the human microbes into the intestines of young mice that had been raised germ-free.

The mice who received gut bacteria from the obese people gained more weight – and experienced unhealthy metabolic changes – even though they didn’t eat more than the mice who received germs from the lean twins, said study senior author Dr Jeffrey Gordon, director of Washington University’s Center of Genome Sciences and Systems Biology.

Then came what Gordon calls the battle of the microbes.

Mice that harboured gut bacteria from a lean person were put in the same cages as mice that harboured the obesity-prone germs. The research team took advantage of an icky fact of rodent life: Mice eat faeces, so presumably they could easily swap intestinal bugs.

What happened was a surprise. Certain bacteria from the lean mice invaded the intestines of the fatter mice, and their weight and metabolism improved. But the trade was one-way – the lean mice weren’t affected.

Moreover, the fatter mice got the bacterial benefit only when they were fed a low-fat, high-fibre diet.

When Ridaura substituted the higher-fat, lower-fibre diet typical of Americans, the protective bug swap didn’t occur.

Why? Gordon already knew from human studies that obese people harbour less diverse gut bacteria. “It was almost as if there were potential job vacancies” in their intestines that the lean don’t have, he explained.

Sure enough, a closer look at the mice that benefited from the bug swap suggests a specific type of bacteria, from a family named Bacteroidetes, moved into previously unoccupied niches in their colons – if the rodents ate right.

How might those findings translate to people? For a particularly hard-to-treat diarrhoeal infection, doctors sometimes transplant stool from a healthy person into the sick person’s intestine. Some scientists wonder if faecal transplants from the lean to the fat might treat obesity, too.

But Gordon foresees a less invasive alternative: Determining the best combinations of intestinal bacteria to match a person’s diet, and then growing those bugs in sterile lab dishes – like this study could – and turning them into pills. He estimates such an attempt would take at least five more years of research.

Syrian rebels try to overrun village

May 14th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁桑拿 - (Comments Off on Syrian rebels try to overrun village)

The sound of artillery reverberated through a predominantly Christian village north of Damascus as government troops and al-Qaeda-linked rebels battled for control of the mountainside sanctuary.

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The hit-and-run attacks on the ancient village of Maaloula, one of the few places in the world where residents still speak Aramaic, highlighted fears among Syria’s religious minorities about the growing role of extremists among those fighting in the civil war to topple President Bashar Assad’s regime.

The fighting comes as President Barack Obama’s administration pressed the US Congress for its authorisation of a military strike against the Assad regime, while the president arrived at a G-20 summit in Russia expected to be overshadowed by Syria.

The fighting in Maaloula, a scenic village of about 3300 perched high in the mountains, began early on Wednesday when militants from Jabhat al-Nusra stormed in after a suicide bomber struck an army checkpoint guarding the entrance.

The group – listed as a terrorist organisation by the US State Department – is one of the most effective fighting forces among Syrian rebels. The suicide attack triggered battles that terrorised residents in the village, famous for two of the oldest surviving monasteries in Syria – Mar Sarkis and Mar Takla.

Online video showed rebels in the streets, some firing truck-mounted heavy machine guns in the direction of the surrounding mountains. The video appeared authentic and matched Associated Press reporting on the fighting.

Residents said on Wednesday the rebels took over the mountaintop Safir hotel and were firing in the direction of the community below.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that despite a heavy army presence in the village, the rebels staged hit-and-run attacks, at one point patrolling the streets on foot and in vehicles, and briefly surrounding a church and a mosque before leaving early Thursday.

Heavy fighting around the village, which is on a UNESCO list of tentative world heritage sites – continued throughout the day, and heavy artillery echoed in the village.

“The stones are shaking,” said a nun at the Mar Takla monastery. “We don’t know if the rebels have left or not, nobody dares go out.”

Al-Mayadeen TV, a Lebanese station who has an embed with the Syrian army, broadcast live images from the area Thursday evening that showed smoke rising from behind the hotel, suggesting the military was shelling it.

The nun said about 100 people from the village took refuge in the St. Takla convent that she helps run. The 27 orphans who live there had been taken to nearby caves overnight “so they were not scared,” she said.

Maaloula, about 60km northeast of Damascus, had been firmly under the regime’s grip, despite sitting in the middle of rebel-held territory east and north of the capital. The village was a major tourist attraction before the civil war. Some of its residents still speak a version of Aramaic, the language of biblical times believed to have been used by Jesus.

Focused plant protection needed

May 14th, 2019 | Posted by admin in 南宁桑拿 - (Comments Off on Focused plant protection needed)

More than two thirds of the world’s plants could be protected by focusing on just 17 per cent of the Earth’s land surface.

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Researchers used a computer program to identify the smallest set of regions that could contain the largest numbers of plant species.

Scientists say that challenging “tactical decisions” had to be made to secure the most critical land within each region for conservation.

“To achieve these goals, we need to protect more land, on average, than we currently do and much more in key places such as Madagascar, New Guinea and Ecuador,” said research leader Professor Stuart Pimm, from Duke University in the US.

Plant species are not haphazardly distributed around the planet, according to the findings in Science journal.

Areas including Central America, the Caribbean, the Northern Andes and parts of Africa and Asia have much higher concentrations of vulnerable endemic species found nowhere else.

“Species endemic to small geographical ranges are at a much higher risk of being threatened or endangered than those with large ranges,” said Dr Lucas Joppa, a conservation scientist based at Microsoft Research’s Computational Science Laboratory in Cambridge, UK.

“We combined regions to maximise the numbers of species in the minimal area. With that information, we can more accurately evaluate each region’s relative importance for conservation, and assess international priorities accordingly.”

The scientists analysed data on more than 100,000 different species of flowering plants stored at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in west London.

“We also mapped where the greatest numbers of small-ranged birds, mammals and amphibians occur and found that they are broadly in the same places we show to be priorities for plants,” said US co-author Dr Clinton Jenkins, from North Carolina State University.

“So preserving these lands for plants will benefit many animals, too.”

Two of the most ambitious aims of the 2010 Convention on Biological Diversity are to protect at least 17% of the Earth’s land and 60% of its plants.