Ecuador grants nationality to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

Ecuador grants nationality to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Last Updated Jan 11, 2018 2:24 PM EST

QUITO, Ecuador – Ecuador has granted citizenship to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been living in asylum at the nation’s embassy in London for more than five years.

The nation’s foreign minister announced Thursday that officials had decided to permit Assange’s naturalization while they look for ways to resolve his situation.

Ecuador gave Assange political asylum after he sought refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid a Swedish extradition request on a case of alleged rape. While Sweden temporarily dropped that investigation, British officials say they’d still arrest him on charges of bail jumping. Assange also fears a possible U.S. extradition request stemming from the leaking of classified U.S. documents.

Britain’s Foreign Office said Thursday it had rejected Ecuador’s request to grant diplomatic status to Assange, who was born in Australia.

“The granting of Ecuadorean nationality does not in any way change Julian Assange’s legal status in the U.K.,” a government spokesman said. “The Government of Ecuador knows that the way to resolve the situation is for Julian Assange to leave the embassy to face justice. Nobody should pretend that granting him Ecuadorean citizenship is a route to solving this longstanding issue.”

Akubra girl “Dolly” killed herself due to bullying

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS)

 

Akubra girl “Dolly” killed herself due to bullying, company says

The post said the girl, Amy Jayne Everett, died January 3, and that “we need to make sure that anyone in crisis knows there is always someone to talk to.” It also urged people to act to stop bullying — a plea her father made Sunday.

“This week has been an example of how social media should be used, it has also been an example of how it shouldn’t be,” Tick Everett said in a Facebook post. “If we can help other precious lives from being lost and the suffering of so many, then Doll’s life will not be wasted.”

“…lets stop the bullies no matter where, but especially in our kids, as the old saying goes. You will never know what have untill it’s gone,” he said.

He added: “if by some chance the people who thought this was a joke and made themselves feel superior by the constant bullying and harassment see this post, please come to our service and witness the complete devastation you have created.”

The BBC reports the girl starred in a well-known Akubra ad campaign when she was eight years old. It also reports the family released a statement to media outlets on Wednesday saying the girl was “the kindest, caring, beautiful soul”.

“She was always caring for animals, small children, other children at boarding school who were less fortunate than herself.”

Twenty percent of children in Australia say they were bullied over the past year, according to the BBC.

The wide-brimmed Akubra hat is one of Australia’s most recognizable brands, the BBC reports.

It’s so hot in Australia that bats’ brains are frying

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

It’s so hot in Australia that bats’ brains are frying

 January 9 at 1:32 PM
 4:27
Sydney heat wave kills hundreds of flying foxes

Hundreds of flying foxes in the Greater Sydney area were found dead amid an extreme heat wave that struck Sydney on January 7.

It has been a weird few weeks of weather. In North America, Canadians and Floridians alike shivered through freezing temperatures, a bomb cyclone and a polar vortex. (It got so cold that iguanas froze and fell out of trees.)

Meanwhile, over in Australia, where it is summer now, it has been especially hot. Sweltering, really.

In Sydney, temperatures hit 117 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, the hottest it has been since 1939. That oppressive heat, a side effect of climate change, has made life hard for the country’s humans and infrastructure. Heat waves result in 10 percent more calls for ambulances and 10 percent more deaths, local experts said. Police in Victoria, on Australia’s southeastern coast, warned drivers last week that a six-mile stretch of a freeway in the central part of the state had melted. A spokeswoman for VicRoads, which manages Victoria’s road systems, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that hot weather caused the asphalt to become “soft and sticky” and the road surface to bleed.

It has also been nearly unbearable for some animals. “Anytime we have any type of heat event, we know we’re going to have a lot of animals in need,” animal specialist Kristie Harris told the BBC. It was so hot that possums burned their paws on roofs and roads. Birds needed to be specially rehydrated. Koalas around the region were being sprayed down to keep them cool.

And hundreds of flying fox bats died because they didn’t have enough cover to protect themselves from the heat. Animal rescuers in Sydney described “heartbreaking” scenes of dozens of dead baby bats piled on the ground. As the adult bats sought shade near a creek, babies were left dangling from trees with no means to survive the heat, according to a charity organization in the Sydney suburb of Campbelltown, home to colonies of flying foxes. Many were found scattered on the ground. Others died before they made it down.

“It was unbelievable. I saw a lot of dead bats on the ground and others were close to the ground and dying,” volunteer Cate Ryan told the Guardian. “I have never seen anything like it before.”

Flying foxes have adapted to Australia’s warm climate, but these fruit-eating bats are unable to regulate their body temperature when the outside temperature rises above 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The young ones are especially vulnerable, Ryan told the Camden-Narellan Advertiser.

“They have less heat tolerance,” she said. “Their brain just fries and they become incoherent.” Often, she said, they will simply get too hot and fall to the ground while the adults seek out precious shade.


A heat-stricken bat is rescued in Sydney. (Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown/AFP/Getty Images)

Wildlife volunteers and rescuers spent Sunday picking up bodies of about 200 flying foxes, most of which were babies, according to the charity Help Save the Wildlife and Bushlands in Campbelltown. The death toll was expected to rise to the thousands, as many were still dangling from trees and were unreachable to volunteers.

“Many pups were on their last breaths before getting much needed help . . . There were tears shed and hearts sunken,” the charity said Sunday in a lengthy Facebook post. “It’s devastating when a colony like our local one goes down like this due to heat, this colony needs more canopy cover and shaded areas to help with our ever rising hot summers because this episode will surely not be the last.”

Australia considers the gray-headed flying fox, one of four types, a vulnerable species — with about 400,000 left, down from more than 560,000 in 1989. The bats live in woods and swamps along Australia’s east coast and play an important role in pollination and seed transportation.

Experts link the plight of flying foxes to the globe’s steadily rising temperature. More than 30,000 flying foxes died across Australia during heat waves between 1994 and 2008, bat ecologist Micaela Jemison wrote in 2014.

Last year, more than 2,000 flying foxes were found dead in the Richmond Valley region of northern New South Wales on Australia’s east coast, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. Temperatures topped 113 degrees Fahrenheit. About 100,000 bats across the state of Queensland died during a heat wave in 2014.

“This is of great concern to scientists not only due to the increased risk of these ‘die off’ events, but also for the long term impact it will have on the recovery of several of these already threatened species,” Jemison wrote.

Australia’s heat wave — and the United States’s bomb cyclone — come on the heels of the second-warmest global year on record since the 1800s.

A new report, pointing to signs of climate change such as the thawing of Arctic ice and intensifying wildfires, says the global average surface air temperature in 2017 exceeded 14.7 degrees Celsius (58.46 Fahrenheit), making last year a bit cooler than 2016, the warmest on record. But 2016 included the tail end of a strong El Niño in the tropical Pacific, and that bumped up temperatures that year, as well as in 2015, according to the report by the Copernicus Climate Change Service, a European agency.

These findings are echoed in Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology’s climate report for 2017, the country’s third-warmest year on record.

“Despite the lack of an El Nino — which is normally associated with our hottest years — 2017 was still characterized by very warm temperatures. Both day and nighttime temperatures were warmer than average . . . Seven of Australia’s ten warmest years have occurred since 2005 and Australia has experienced just one cooler than average year — 2011 — in the past decade,” according to a news release.

Australia Finds Wreck of World War I Submarine, Solving a 103-Year Enigma

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

Continue reading the main story

LONDON — For more than a century, the fate of Australia’s first military submarine was one of the country’s enduring maritime mysteries.

The vessel, lost off Papua New Guinea in September 1914, barely seven months after being commissioned for service, disappeared with 35 crew members during operations to capture the German Pacific colonies in World War I.

Now the puzzle is solved.

The Australian Navy announced on Thursday the discovery of a wreck they identified as the submarine, the AE1. The discovery was made by a survey ship, the Fugro Equator, that was used in another seemingly impossible endeavor: the search for the remains of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014.

Photo

The underwater autonomous vehicle used in the successful search for the AE1 submarine.CreditBayden Findlay/Royal Australia, via European Pressphoto Agency

Images captured during the expedition suggested the submarine was well preserved and still in one piece.

Nobody knows what caused the AE1 to sink in 1914 — it had not been under attack at the time — though theories include an explosion of one of its torpedoes or a failure of a high-pressure air cylinder. It was one of the first Allied vessels to vanish in the war.

Continue reading the main story

The submarine was found south of the Duke of York Islands at a depth of about 1,000 feet.

The AE1 and its sister vessel, the AE2, arrived in Australia in the spring of 1914, crossing half the globe after their construction in England. They soon joined the war, but neither lasted long. After the AE1 vanished, the AE2 was reported to have been sunk by Turkish warships near the Sea of Marmara in 1915, during the Gallipoli campaign. The AE2 was discovered in 1998, about 240 feet down.

Locating the AE1 proved more difficult: 13 previous attempts failed to find its final resting place. On Thursday, the Australian defense minister, Marise Payne, hailed the successful conclusion to the search, saying “Australia’s oldest naval mystery has been solved.” She said the loss of the submarine had been “a significant tragedy felt by our nation and our allies.”

The Australian Navy said that it hoped investigators would be able to piece together the causes of the submarine’s demise and that the Australian government would work with the authorities in Papua New Guinea to consider “a lasting commemoration and recognition” of the crew.

Celebrating Hanukkah In The Holy Land

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWSPAPER)

 

JERUSALEM (RNS) – Yael Horovitz, who immigrated to Israel from Australia, always loved the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, but the emphasis there on Christmas made her feel a little left out.

“In Australia, for two months out of the year I couldn’t escape Christmas carols,” said Horovitz, who is Jewish. “Being forced to listen to them in supermarkets, shopping centers, on the radio and TV bothered me.”

Hanukkah, the eight-day Jewish festival of lights that commemorates the Maccabees’ victory over their Greek-Syrian oppressors in 167 B.C., as well as the re-dedication of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, was barely acknowledged by most Australians, Horovitz said.

But Hanukkah, which begins at sundown Tuesday, is an altogether different experience for her now.

Ten years ago Horovitz moved to Israel, where Jews comprise roughly 75% of the population. Here, the holiday season “feels so right,” she said. “This is my religion, these are my songs, my decorations, my kids being educated to love their heritage, and being embraced by it from all sides.”

Hanukkah in the Holy Land gives Horovitz and other Jews who have immigrated to Israel from Western countries a sense of belonging they don’t feel anywhere else. In Israel, though Hanukkah is not a national holiday, most of the nation celebrates it.

That’s a big contrast to the way many American Jews feel at Christmastime, said Jonathan Sarna, a professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis University.

“Christmas is the one day of the year when many American Jews experience a sense that they are outsiders in America” because Christmas, a religious holiday, is also a national holiday, Sarna said.

Although Hanukkah is a minor festival on the Jewish calendar, Sarna said, more than a century ago American Jews elevated the holiday “as a way to ensure that they were not left out of the holiday spirit.”

Their goal, Sarna said, was to ensure that Jewish children would be happy and proud of their own winter holiday and not want to celebrate the holiday of another religion.

Even so, if you live in the U.S., “it is impossible to avoid Santa and Christmas music and holiday lights. It’s the time of year when the differences between Jews and their neighbors seem most stark.”

That’s not the case in Israel, Sarna said, where Hanukkah and not Christmas is the dominant December holiday. Just 2.1 percent of Israelis are Christian; 17 percent are Muslim; 1.7 percent are Druze. The remaining 4 percent belong to other religious minorities or have no religion.

Although Hanukkah in Israel remains far less commercialized than it is in the U.S., with shopping malls hanging nary a holiday decoration, it has more recently taken on some of its American trappings.

This week, Osher Ad, a large Jerusalem supermarket, had two aisles’ worth of Hanukkah-related products, from elaborate faux-silver menorahs to imported paper Hanukkah plates and napkins and dreidel-shaped containers filled with chocolate candies.

And rather than sell only simple jelly doughnuts, a traditional Hanukkah treat, now bakeries around the country create fancy and expensive Western-style doughnuts.

Jewish children are on school break the week of Hanukkah, so movie theaters time their new releases to the vacation. Festigal, a live music and dance show for children, is an annual tradition.

Compared with the holiday season in the U.S., however, Hanukkah in Israel is low-key. Families gather to light the menorah – some have a separate one for each child – and eat doughnuts or potato pancakes fried in oil. (Oily foods are eaten on Hanukkah to commemorate the “miracle” of the holiday, when enough oil to light a lamp for just one night lasted for eight.)

Some parents give their children presents – though almost never more than a couple — or Hanukkah “gelt” – both money and chocolate coins.

Orthodox families like to light their menorahs outside, in glass containers, so everyone who passes can soak up their light.

Tsipi Amiri, whose family lived in the U.S. until she was 10, said she doesn’t miss the “commercialization” of the holiday season or the pressure to celebrate Hanukkah with lots of fanfare and gifts.

“There was this competition within the American Jewish community about who got what,” Amiri said. “Thankfully, I don’t see that here.”

More: When is Hanukkah and what does it celebrate?

Netanya Carmi said the first thing she noticed during her first Israeli Hanukkah 20 years ago was that many stores close early every night and evening classes at universities are canceled so all can go home and light candles with their families.

“Here in Israel, Hanukkah is all about tradition and family,” Carmi said.

China’s security obsession is now a point of national pride

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ABC.NET)

 

China’s security obsession is now a point of national pride

Updated 

China is the world’s ultimate security state.

Beijing police proudly boast there is no corner of public space that surveillance cameras cannot see.

Every subway entrance involves bag scans and metal detectors.

Armed military police stand guard at major public spaces.

Various levels of lower down security guards are ever present, right down to the elderly civilian volunteers who keep watch on the street when big political events take place.

Away from the capital of this authoritarian superpower things are more relaxed, but the political culture prioritising stability permeates deep.

Recently I was in the city of Dandong — bordering North Korea — where an airport video showed off SWAT patrol officers marching around empty streets.

Then a cartoon showed how they would respond to Islamist terrorists bringing fire and fury to Dandong — an unlikely scenario to contemplate in a city more well known for being China’s gateway to North Korea.

Over in far western Xinjiang the prospect of Islamist terror is far more realistic, and in recent months authorities have mobilised thousands of military police in several public displays of force.

The underlying rationale for all this security is to ensure the Communist Party’s control of China remains unchallenged — meaning some political activists and crusading lawyers have felt the full force of China’s security apparatus just as much as terror suspects.

The total annual domestic security budget hasn’t been published since 2013, when overseas media noted how it outstripped the rapidly growing funding for China’s military.

China’s massive internet censorship operation is also deeply linked to the overall concept of safeguarding stability.

Safer than other countries?

The normalisation of such a huge security presence is helping create a growing belief here that China is far safer than countries abroad.

Well-publicised cases of Chinese students and young nationals being kidnapped or murdered in the United States, Australia and elsewhere along with news coverage of mass shootings and violent protests in the West appear to affirm the idea that China’s security state is superior.

When similar incidents happen domestically, such as a violent face-off between a group of Muslims and police in the northern city of Tangshan in August, censors scrub any mention of it.

Events that could dominate the news agenda for days in a country like Australia can be neutralised and snuffed out before most people have a chance to hear about them.

“Chinese society is stable and orderly, people happily live and work in peace,” President Xi Jinping recently told an Interpol conference in Beijing.

“More and more people believe China is one of the world’s safest countries.

“This is China’s contribution to the world for security and stability.”

This emphasis on stability and security is only likely to increase in the weeks ahead as Mr Xi presides over a major Communist Party meeting confirming his leadership for another five years.

“The idea of stability is central to the Chinese Communist Party”, said Dr Michael Clarke, a specialist in China’s domestic security policies at the Australian National University.

“It also plays into this wider narrative of China returning to its place of great power status and its ability to be a leader in international affairs.

“So I think there’s a real link between stability and Xi’s concept of the China Dream.”

Topics: world-politicsdefence-and-national-securitycommunity-and-societychinaasia

First posted 

A Woman Had Stomach Pains. Doctors Discovered It Was Something She Swallowed–A Decade Ago

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

A woman had stomach pains. Doctors discovered it was something she swallowed — a decade ago.

 August 8

(iStock)

Doctors at a hospital in Australia were bewildered when a 30-year-old woman showed up with intense stomach pains.

Her heart rate was faster than normal, and the membrane lining her abdominal wall was inflamed, one of her doctors wrote in a medical article published Monday by BMJ Case Reports. But her vital signs, laboratory tests, ultrasound and a scan of her liver, gallbladder and bile ducts were all normal.

The woman also had not had surgery recently, which eliminated the possibility that a surgeon accidentally left a foreign object inside  her, according to Popular Science. But a CT scan revealed that a thin, metallic wire was lodged in her intestines.

And it had been there for at least a decade.

That object, a little more than 2½ inches long, was a dental brace wire that the woman used to wear, according to her doctors. It caused her intestine “to twist around on itself — a condition known as volvulus,” according to a news release from BMJ Case Reports, an online collection of articles and case reports submitted by health-care professionals and researchers.

The woman told doctors that she wore braces 10 years ago and has had them removed since. She also said she does not remember ingesting the wire or losing part of her braces, wrote Talia Shepherd, one of the doctors who treated the woman at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Nedlands in Western Australia.

A thin metallic wire is lodged in a woman’s intestines. (BMJ Case Reports)

“The case is so unique is because normally if you swallow something like that, it presents earlier,” Shepherd told Popular Science.

More typically, people unknowingly ingest things like fish bones instead of metallic objects, Shepherd said. And they usually realize it shortly after. In the woman’s case, she didn’t experience any pain until recently.

“We were all a bit dumbfounded,” Shepherd told the magazine. “It wasn’t what I was expecting to find at all.”

Accidentally ingesting foreign objects is not unheard of.

Last May, Live Science published a list of “11 Weird Things People Have Swallowed.” It includes small and pointed objects like a bobby pin and a dental instrument, as well as larger ones like a cellphone, a pen, a lighter and a toothbrush.

In a 2015 medical case from Saudi Arabia, doctors examining an X-Ray of a 16-month-old boy’s esophagus came face-to-face with an image of a smiling SpongeBob SquarePants. Ghofran Ageely, a radiology resident at King Abdulaziz University Hospital in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, told Live Science that the toddler had swallowed his older sister’s SpongeBob pendant.

Ageely said she initially thought it was a pin or a hair accessory because an X-ray of the child’s body from the side showed a thin object in his esophagus. She was shocked after looking at the frontal view.

“‘ SpongeBob,’ I screamed!!!” Ageely told Live Science in an email. “I was amazed by the visible details. You can see the freckles, shoes and fingers … AMAZING.”

Last May, a Texas mother warned other parents after her daughter accidentally swallowed a fidget spinner. They were in a car when she noticed her daughter choking, Kelly Rose Joniec wrote on her Facebook page, according to USA Today.

recent report by a consumer watchdog group warned parents of the dangers of the popular toy, which it said has “the potential to lead to tragic or deadly consequences.”

As for the woman from Australia, Shepherd said she recovered well.

READ MORE:

Fidget spinners are hugely popular with kids. They’re also a choking hazard, consumer group warns.

Popular magnets pose risk if swallowed

She thought it was a chocolate candy bar. What she experienced was unexpected.

With Some Countries, China Is in the Red

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

 

With Some Countries, China Is in the Red

Supply chains and commodity needs mean China doesn’t run massive trade surpluses with everyone
August 20, 2017, 8:00 AM EDT

From

China’s big trade surpluses hog all the headlines, but imbalances go both ways.

South Korea’s $72.2 billion surplus with the People’s Republic in fact tops a list of more than 40 nations that export more to the country than they import from it, followed by Switzerland and Australia, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Besides commodity exporters such as Iran and machinery producers like Germany, smaller economies such as Ireland, Finland and Laos round out the tally.

Imports by the world’s biggest exporter show how its humming factories prop up other economies – and for some of those, what’s on the line should they find themselves involved with territorial disputes or geopolitical tensions with one of their biggest customers.

In Asia, South Korea and Malaysia are among the most vulnerable to China’s economic arm-twisting, while Japan and Vietnam look relatively immune, according to Bloomberg Intelligence estimates based on their trade surpluses with China as a share of total output.

One of China’s biggest appetites is for machines and electronics from South Korea, Malaysia and Germany, according to World Bank data from 2015, the most recent year available.

Semiconductors from South Korea and Malaysia account for much of that as they’re brought in and then installed in other electronic products assembled in China’s factories.

The iPhone itself is an ecosystem that illustrates the global reach of far-flung supply chains. China’s assembly lines for the device incorporate expensive components imported from sources including Germany, Japan, South Korea, the U.S. and Taiwan.

Such complex and crucial trade relationships give South Korea something of a buffer against Chinese reprisals like those it faced last year after agreeing to install a U.S. missile defense system.

“Eighty percent of Korean exports to China are intermediate goods, and everyday people can’t see them from the outside or feel them,” said Yang Pyeongseob, a senior research fellow at the Korean Institute for International Economic Policy in Beijing.

China’s factories, construction sites, vehicles soak up oil, metal and materials from commodity exporters around the world, so when the economy sneezes it spurs big swings in things like the Australian dollar or Mongolian gross domestic product.

Those two countries are key suppliers of iron ore, precious metals and coal. Meanwhile, oil from Angola, Oman, Iran, and Venezuela helps keep China’s cars and trucks running, and Turkmenistan sends natural gas. Chile offers metal, mainly copper, but wine and cherries are more familiar South American imports on Chinese supermarket shelves.

Swiss trade is driven by pharmaceuticals, chemicals and precision instruments and watches. The surplus size may have been distorted by commodities trading, which doesn’t necessarily lead to actual shipments.

South Africa’s shipments include diamonds, gold and wine. Elsewhere in the southern hemisphere, Brazil was China’s top overseas source of soybeans, soy oil, beef and sugar last year, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. The most populous nation imported 38 million tons of soybeans alone from Brazil last year.

And farmers in New Zealand are increasingly stocking those supermarket shelves for more discerning consumers. China imported more lamb from New Zealand than anywhere else, the most wheat from Australia, and the largest amount of fruit and nuts from Chile.

 

 

— With assistance by Catherine Bosley, and Xiaoqing Pi

Australia’s Prime Minister Slowly Realizes Trump Is A Complete Idiot

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘NEW YORK MAGAZINE.COM’)

(Is Donald “FAKE NEWS” Trump The Biggest Idiot On Earth?)(TRS)

11:49 am

Australia’s Prime Minister Slowly Realizes Trump Is a Complete Idiot

By 

Image
Donald Trump and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Getty Images

The transcript of Donald Trump’s discussion with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull obtained by the Washington Post reveals many things, but the most significant may be that Trump in his private negotiations is every bit as mentally limited as he appears to be in public.
At issue in the conversation is a deal to settle 1,250 refugees who have been detained by Australia in the United States. I did not pay any attention to the details of this agreement before reading the transcript. By the time I was halfway through it, my brain could not stop screaming at Trump for his failure to understand what Turnbull was telling him.

Australia has a policy of refusing to accept refugees who arrive by boat. The reason, as Turnbull patiently attempts to explain several times, is that it believes giving refuge to people who arrive by boat would encourage smuggling and create unsafe passage with a high risk of deaths at sea. But it had a large number of refugees who had arrived by sea, living in difficult conditions, whom Australia would not resettle (for fear of encouraging more boat trafficking) but whom it did not want to deport, either. The United States government agreed under President Obama to vet 1,250 of these refugees and accept as many of them as it deemed safe.

In the transcript, Trump is unable to absorb any of these facts. He calls the refugees “prisoners,” and repeatedly brings up the Cuban boatlift (in which Castro dumped criminals onto Florida). He is unable to absorb Turnbull’s explanation that they are economic refugees, not from conflict zones, and that the United States has the ability to turn away any of them it deems dangerous.

Donald Trump Is His Own Worst Enemy

President Trump’s efforts to fix his headline-making crises often have the effect of making the situation worse.

Turnbull tries to explain to Trump that refugees have not been detained because they pose a danger to Australian society, but in order to deter ship-based smuggling:

Trump: Why haven’t you let them out? Why have you not let them into your society?

Turnbull: Okay, I will explain why. It is not because they are bad people. It is because in order to stop people smugglers, we had to deprive them of the product. So we said if you try to come to Australia by boat, even if we think you are the best person in the world, even if you are a Noble [sic] Prize winning genius, we will not let you in. Because the problem with the people —

At this point, Trump fails to understand the policy altogether, and proceeds to congratulate Turnbull for what Trump mistakes to be a draconian policy of total exclusion:

Trump: That is a good idea. We should do that too. You are worse than I am … Because you do not want to destroy your country. Look at what has happened in Germany. Look at what is happening in these countries.

Trump has completely failed to understand either that the refugees are not considered dangerous, or, again, that they are being held because of a categorical ban on ship-based refugee traffic.

He also fails to understand the number of refugees in the agreement:

Trump: I am the world’s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country. And now I am agreeing to take 2,000 people and I agree I can vet them, but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad and I have only been here a week.

Turnbull: With great respect, that is not right – It is not 2,000.

Trump: Well, it is close. I have also heard like 5,000 as well.

Turnbull: The given number in the agreement is 1,250 and it is entirely a matter of your vetting.

Then Trump returns to his belief that they are bad, and failing to understand the concept that they have been detained merely because they arrived by sea and not because they committed a crime:

Trump: I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad. That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people.

Turnbull: I would not be so sure about that. They are basically —

Trump: Well, maybe you should let them out of prison.

He still thinks they’re criminals.

Later, Trump asks what happens if all the refugees fail his vetting process:

Trump: I hate having to do it, but I am still going to vet them very closely. Suppose I vet them closely and I do not take any?

Turnbull: That is the point I have been trying to make.

After several attempts by Turnbull to explain Australia’s policy, Trump again expresses his total inability to understand what it is:

Trump: Does anybody know who these people are? Who are they? Where do they come from? Are they going to become the Boston bomber in five years? Or two years? Who are these people?

Turnbull: Let me explain. We know exactly who they are. They have been on Nauru or Manus for over three years and the only reason we cannot let them into Australia is because of our commitment to not allow people to come by boat. Otherwise we would have let them in. If they had arrived by airplane and with a tourist visa then they would be here.

Trump: Malcom [sic], but they are arrived on a boat?

After Turnbull has told Trump several times that the refugees have been detained because they arrived by boat, and only for that reason, Trump’s question is, “But they are arrived on a boat?”

Soon after, Turnbull again reiterates that Australia’s policy is to detain any refugee who arrives by boat:

Turnbull: The only people that we do not take are people who come by boa. So we would rather take a not very attractive guy that help you out then to take a Noble [sic] Peace Prize winner that comes by boat. That is the point.”

Trump: What is the thing with boats? Why do you discriminate against boats? No, I know, they come from certain regions. I get it.

No, you don’t get it at all! It’s not that they come from certain regions! It’s that they come by boat!

So Turnbull very patiently tries to explain again that the policy has nothing to do with what region the refugees come from:

Turnbull: No, let me explain why. The problem with the boats it that you are basically outsourcing your immigration program to people smugglers and also you get thousands of people drowning at sea.

At this point, Trump gives up asking about the policy and just starts venting about the terribleness of deals in general:

I do not know what he got out of it. We never get anything out of it — START Treaty, the Iran deal. I do not know where they find these people to make these stupid deals. I am going to get killed on this thing.

Shortly afterward, the call ends in brusque fashion, and Turnbull presumably begins drinking heavily.

Scientists Take to the Sea to Study a Lost Land (Continent): Zealandia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

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The researchers’ ship, the Joides Resolution, contains drilling equipment to help geologists answer lingering questions about Zealandia — such as how and when it formed and what has happened in the area over time.CreditThe Australian National University

SYDNEY, Australia — It’s about half the size of the United States, and it’s been hiding under everyone’s noses — or more precisely, under the waves — for millions of years. Now, scientists are setting sail to finally help solve the mystery of Zealandia, the lost undersea landmass being billed as the world’s eighth continent.

Zealandia, an expanse of 1.9 million square miles, extends from far south and east of New Zealand up to New Caledonia and west to an area off Australia’s northeast coast. It was part of Australia until about 75 million years ago, when it started to break away and move northeast. That movement stopped 53 million years ago, and scientists have slowly discovered the landmass, almost entirely submerged, over the past two decades.

“It’s a long way from anywhere,” said Rupert Sutherland, a Victoria University of Wellington professor who will be on the monthslong voyage from Australia to Zealandia, which began Friday. “A few missions have been going there to look for some specific things, but there hasn’t really been a coordinated plan of attack.”

He continued, “It is quite exciting, this Zealandia exploration. We’ve got an entire continent that has not been explored.”

Scientists who are part of the drilling expedition said sediment would be collected to help answer lingering questions about Zealandia — such as how and when it formed and what has happened in the area over time. They also hope to better understand how the Pacific Ring of Fire, a hot spot for volcanoes and earthquakes, formed.

“What we hadn’t realized until fairly recently was that the formation of the Pacific Ring of Fire greatly modified the continent of Zealandia,” Dr. Sutherland said. “It greatly changed the water depth, and it created topography.”

Earlier this year, in a study published by the Geological Society of America, scientists argued that Zealandia should be assigned continent status, despite the fact that it’s mostly underwater, because of its distinctive geology. The study outlined all that was known about Zealandia and went through all of the criteria used to define a continent and evaluated Zealandia against that criteria. The findings have been widely accepted, said Dr. Sutherland, who was a co-author of the study.

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“The scientific value of classifying Zealandia as a continent is much more than just an extra name on a list,” the study concluded. “That a continent can be so submerged yet unfragmented” makes it useful for “exploring the cohesion and breakup of continental crust.”

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