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newsmax : A spate of terrible news stories from the Paris attacks to mass shootings in the US has challenged TV comics like never before, writes Jennifer Keishin Armstrong.

newsmax :
Late Show host Stephen Colbert was finishing up work on Friday 13 November when he heard the news: more than 100 people had been killed in orchestrated attacks in Paris. He sat behind his desk, looked into the camera and let his tears fall as he told the audience, “Folks, we end tonight's show with a heavy heart because we taped all of tonight's show, and then we found out about the horrific attacks in Paris.”
When he returned to work the following Monday, he had a more cogent response, one that, against all odds, even mixed a little humour with its empathy. “New York is a city that sadly knows all too well the horror the French experienced,” he said. “We stand with the people of France as a friend and as an ally, and offer the hope that there is a way through the unspeakable tragedy.” He also read a few tweets from people who seemed to claim sincerely that they were watching the animated film Ratatouille, which is set in Paris, as a gesture of support. It was exactly the kind of silly sentiment Colbert would normally lacerate with his next remark, but instead he defended it: “Watching a cartoon Parisian rat cook soup is certainly as valid as anything I will say tonight, I promise you that. If it makes you feel a connection to the people of France, go drink a bottle of Bordeaux, eat a croissant at Au Bon Pain, slap on a beret and smoke a cigarette. Anything that is an attempt at human connection is positive.”

His band, Jon Batiste & Stay Human, punctuated the moment with a sombre version of La Marseillaise instead of Colbert’s standard theme song.
Tragic events can often bring out the finest in professional comedians. It seems unlikely but on further examination, this makes sense. In the US, popular comics are regular presences in public life, as hosts of daily late-night talk shows and as social media personalities. They’re forced to address topical events, since they usually play off the news of the day for material. And as large-scale tragedies, particularly terrorist events and mass shootings, have sadly become regular headlines, comedians have become awfully good at helping to guide audiences through their grief with just the right amounts of outrage, pathos and humour – a welcome break from the constant drumbeats of bad news and dangerous speculation that emerge online and from on 24-hour US news networks.

Getting serious
Colbert wasn’t the only late-night host addressing the tragedy in Paris. On HBO, John Oliver took advantage of cable TV’s more liberal atmosphere to unleash a profanity-laced takedown of the terrorists we all needed to hear. The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah delivered a heartfelt speech in the mode of his predecessor, Jon Stewart – a standout moment for Noah, a South African whose strength lies in his international perspective. The Nightly Show’s Larry Wilmore skipped the mourning and used his show’s unique strength – a diverse cast – to poke fun at US media and politicians’ debate over what to call Muslim terrorists: he staged a faux interview with correspondent Fariaz Rabbani, playing a Muslim surfer upset that terrorist groups had given the word “radical” – a beloved exclamation of those who ride the waves – such a bad rap.
Before 9/11, comedians tended to stay away from tragic news events
It was David Letterman who pioneered switching from comic to serious modes, as he did most notably after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.  But Stewart, who had been hosting The Daily Show for only two years and still had something to prove at the time, did the same to standout effect. Toggling with ease between real emotion, genuine outrage, and ironic humour became Stewart’s defining feature.


Before 9/11, US comedians tended to stay away from tragic news events. Tonight Show host Johnny Carson conducted an awkward interview with JFK assassination conspiracy theorist Jim Garrison – five years after Kennedy’s death. But faster news cycles, the rise of international terrorism and an increased number of domestic mass tragedies have changed the nature of American TV comedy. Over the past decade, and particularly the last five years, hosts have been forced to react to tragedy again and again, from the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing to the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and the country’s many mass shootings. It may just be that with repetition, this new generation of hosts has – sadly – perfected the form.
Channels for anger
American late-night hosts, however, weren’t the only comedians speaking fans’ truths in the wake of recent tragedies. In fact, comedians of every type across the world have used their platforms to reflect what many were thinking. British comedian Jason Manford took to Facebook to rant against the Paris attackers, whom he called “cowards” in a post so full of expletives, as well as Muslim extremist-bashing, that the social media network removed it as a violation of its policies. “I hope you are all caught and murdered in a similar agonising way,” he wrote in the post, which was widely shared before it was taken down.
We've only been on the air for nine months, and it baffles me that we have to talk so often about mass shootings and tragedy
By the time of another US mass shooting a month later, even the comedians seemed to have run out of expletives. The violence at an office party in San Bernadino, California in early December pushed everyone, even comedians, past a point of exhaustion. "This is really unacceptable, coming off the heels of the shooting last week at Planned Parenthood," Wilmore stated simply on The Nightly Show. "It's just so overwhelming.” Later he added, “Let me just see if I can put it in perspective for you: There have been 355 mass shootings this year, and we are only on calendar day 336. This has really got to stop."

Talk show hosts are in a unique position, culturally, to give us what we need during these times. News reporting is often confusing and contradictory: terrifying one minute and numbing the next. The internet is freaking out about everything, always. But late-night shows allow viewers a break from 24-hour news and Twitter cycles while still acknowledging the event weighing on everyone’s minds. Colbert’s Monday-after defense of connecting to Paris any way we could – even if that meant watching a cartoon about a Parisian rat – soothed many of us who wanted to grieve in our own ways, even if we weren’t doing it ‘correctly’. Oliver gave voice to our outrage.
Such attacks should and must feel personal to us all. Our late-night hosts can help us process them, can guide us through, in a way few other media can. Here’s to hoping we don’t need them to use that power nearly as much in 2016.

news 8 austin : South Africa v England: Alastair Cook says side can 'do something special'

news 8 austin :
Captain Alastair Cook said "there is still a hell of a lot to come" from his England side after they sealed a series win in South Africa.
Their seven-wicket victory in the third Test gave England an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series.
Stuart Broad took 6-17 to help bowl the number one Test side out for 83 on a pulsating third day in Johannesburg.
"If we keep doing the right things we should be able to do something special," Cook told Test Match Special.
"It's a privilege to captain these guys because they can change games as quickly as that."

The Test series victory is England's first overseas since they beat India in 2012-13.
Broad took the man-of-the-match award for his sensational spell on the third afternoon, which included taking five wickets for one run in 31 balls.
"Winning in South Africa has been a dream of mine, so to do it in their own back yard is very special," he said.
England's high points under Cook
Jan 2011: Win 3-2 in Australia to retain the Ashes
Dec 2012: Win 2-1 in India
Aug 2015: Regain the Ashes in England with a 3-2 series win
Jan 2016: Beat South Africa, the world's top-ranked Test side
South Africa, having bowled England out for 323 to limit them to a first-innings lead of 10, were 23-0 shortly after lunch.
But Broad claimed the first five wickets with a hostile spell on a Wanderers surface offering pace and bounce to effectively settle the contest.
Cook said coach Trevor Bayliss had given the team a "kick" in the lunch interval, adding: "Rather than sulking about it the lads looked at themselves, led by Broady, and there was a real intensity in the field for that two-hour session.

"It was a realisation from a guy that doesn't say too much that this is the time: if you want to win the series then you've got an opportunity."
South Africa captain AB de Villiers said: "I haven't seen a team bowl like that for a long time. We were outplayed in the second innings - credit to them."
Broad added: "I'd take that wicket everywhere with me. It offered a bit of seam, a bit of bounce, and it was swinging a little bit."
Broad, 29, said Joe Root "probably deserved" the match award for his counter-attacking 110, which rescued England from 91-4 on the second day in alliance with Ben Stokes, who made 58.
The story of the series
First Test, Durban: England won by 241 runs
Second Test, Cape Town: Match drawn
Third Test, Johannesburg: England won by seven wickets
Fourth Test, Centurion: 22-26 January
Full tour schedule
Broad said: "It's sort of what you've come to expect from Joe. That will go down as one of his best hundreds."
Although Steven Finn took a wicket with his second ball on Saturday, he spent part of the South Africa innings off the field with a side strain.
Cook said the pace bowler is "unlikely" to play in the final Test in Centurion starting on 22 January.

newsela : Iran nuclear deal: 'New chapter' for Tehran as sanctions end

newsela :
Iran "has opened a new chapter" in its ties with the world, President Hassan Rouhani said, hours after economic sanctions on Tehran were lifted.
On Saturday the international nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, confirmed Iran had complied with a deal designed to prevent it developing nuclear weapons.
Mr Rouhani, quoted by Press TV, said the deal did not harm any nation.
Most Western governments hailed the move but Israel's PM insists Tehran still wants to build a nuclear bomb.
What it means for world markets
Six key points in the crisis
Will Tehran now get a McDonald's?
"Without an appropriate reaction to every violation, Iran will realise it can continue to develop nuclear weapons, destabilise the region and spread terror," Benjamin Netanyahu said.
Before the deal, the BBC's Bethany Bell reports from Vienna, Iran could have enriched enough uranium, had it so wanted, to make a nuclear bomb within a matter of weeks.
Now it would take more than a year and it is something international inspectors would see, she says.

'Iran reached out'

Mr Rouhani said everyone was happy with the deal, apart from those he described as warmongers in the region - Israel and hardliners in the US Congress.
"We Iranians have reached out to the world in a sign of friendliness, and leaving behind the enmities, suspicions and plots, have opened a new chapter in the relations of Iran with the world," he said in a statement to the nation on Sunday morning.
The lifting of sanctions was "a turning point" for Iran's economy, he added, saying the country needed to be less reliant on oil revenues.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Iran's compliance and the lifting of sanctions would contribute to improved regional and international peace and security.

Yukiya Amano, the head of the IAEA, will visit Tehran on Sunday for talks on how to continue monitoring Iran's nuclear programme.
"A lot of work has gone into getting us here, and implementation of this agreement will require a similar effort," he said.
As part of the deal, Iran had to drastically reduce its number of centrifuges and dismantle a heavy-water reactor near the town of Arak, both of which could be used in creating nuclear weapons. The reactor was then filled with concrete.

Planes and oil trade coming?

Estimates say close to $100bn (£70bn) of Iranian assets will be unlocked under the deal.
Hours before the sanctions were lifted, Iran's transport minister was quoted by the official Irna news agency on Saturday as saying a deal had been struck with the Airbus consortium in Europe to buy 114 new passenger planes.
And in November, Iran said it expected to immediately double its daily export of 1.1m barrels of crude oil as soon as the sanctions were lifted.
Iran has always maintained its nuclear programme is peaceful, but opponents of the deal - such as some US Republicans - say it does not do enough to ensure the country cannot develop a nuclear bomb.

On Saturday, the IAEA, said its inspectors had verified that Tehran had taken the required steps.
As a result, US Secretary of State John Kerry ordered that US nuclear-related economic sanctions against Iran be lifted.
Speaking in Vienna, where he had been holding talks with his Iranian counterpart, Mr Kerry said Iran had "undertaken significant steps" which many people "doubted would ever come to pass".
The IAEA said it had installed a device at the Natanz plant to monitor Iran's uranium enrichment activities in real time, in order to verify that uranium enrichment levels were kept at up to 3.67% as agreed in the deal with world powers.

The response

"I thank God for this blessing and bow to the greatness of the patient nation of Iran" - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Twitter
"Today, as a result of the actions taken since last July, the United States, our friends and allies in the Middle East, in the entire world are safer because the threat of a nuclear weapon has been reduced" - US Secretary of State John Kerry
"Even after signing the nuclear deal, Iran has not relinquished its ambition to obtain nuclear weapons, and continues to act to destabilise the Middle East and spread terror throughout the world while violating its international commitments" - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
"Today, the Obama administration will begin lifting economic sanctions on the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism" - US Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan in a statement
"Years of patient and persistent diplomacy, and difficult technical work, have borne fruit as we now implement the deal" - British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond

Earlier on Saturday it emerged that Iran had released Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and three other Iranian-American prisoners in an apparent prisoner swap with the United States.
Rezaian, 39, was jailed on charges, including espionage, last November.


The US said it was offering clemency to seven Iranians being held in the US for sanctions violation.
Mr Kerry said said he was "very happy to say that as we speak five Americans have been released from custody and they should be on their way home to their families shortly".
A fifth American, Matthew Trevithick, was also released on Saturday.
President Barack Obama would give more details of the releases later, Mr Kerry said.

What is the nuclear deal?

In July 2015, Iran agreed a landmark nuclear deal with six world powers to limit its sensitive nuclear activities for more than a decade in return for the lifting of crippling sanctions. The US is confident the agreement will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Iran says it has the right to nuclear energy - and stresses that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.

What does Iran stand to gain?

The sanctions have cost Iran more than more than $160bn (£102bn) in oil revenue since 2012 alone. Once they are lifted, the country will be able to resume selling oil on international markets and using the global financial system for trade. Iran has the fourth largest oil reserves in the world and the energy industry is braced for lower prices. Iran will also be able to access more than $100bn in assets frozen overseas.

10 news anchors : Jakarta attacks: Indonesia 'hunting terror cells' linked to bombers

10 news anchors :
Jakarta's chief of police says Indonesia is hunting terror cells believed to have been involved in the attack on the capital.
Two civilians and five attackers died in Thursday's gun and bomb assault in a busy commercial district.
Insp Gen Tito Karnavian told the BBC the actual attacking cell was "tiny" and had been "neutralised", but was linked to cells in Sulawesi and Java.
The Islamic State (IS) militant group has said it was behind the attack.
It released a statement online saying it had been carried out by "soldiers of the Caliphate", targeting "citizens of the Crusader coalition" against the group.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has condemned the "acts of terror".
He tweeted on Friday that there was "no place for terrorism on Earth" and that "every citizen in the world" needed to fight it.
  • What we know about the attack
  • 'We are not afraid' tweets Jakarta
  • Indonesia's new breed of militants
  • IS influence in Indonesia
Security forces battled militants for hours on Thursday in a major business and shopping district of Jakarta before bringing the situation under control.
It ended when two of the attackers were killed in a suicide bombing, said police, with the other three killed in gun battles.
A Canadian and an Indonesian national, both civilians, also died and at least 20 people were injured.

Indonesia - which has been attacked by Islamist militants several times - had been on high terror alert amid IS threats to target Jakarta.
Insp Gen Karnavian said Indonesia had significantly developed its understanding of domestic terror networks since the 2002 Bali bombing, adding that one plot had been foiled at the end of 2015 and a number of people detained.
The detainees included a man who said he had been instructed by Bahrum Naim, an Indonesian currently believed to be with IS in Syria.
Naim has been linked to the IS-allied East Indonesia Mujahidin Group (MIT), which is based on the island of Sulawesi.
The police chief said some 1,000 people linked to radical networks had been brought to justice in Indonesia since 2000, but that some had since been released from prison and had "the potential to pose a threat".
He said Indonesia needed to strengthen its own capabilities and information sharing with other countries, because the terror threat was "not home grown in Indonesia but it is part of a global network".

Islamist attacks in Indonesia


Indonesia has suffered militant attacks in the past, but has been relatively successful in curbing home-grown Islamist extremism after a spate of attacks in the last decade. Some of the deadliest include:
  • July 2009: Seven people killed and dozens wounded when two suicide bombers target Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels in Jakarta
  • Oct 2005: Suicide attacks in Bali leave 23 dead, including the bombers
  • Sept 2004: Bomb outside Australian embassy in Jakarta kills at least nine people
  • Aug 2003: Bomb at Jakarta's Marriott Hotel kills 12
  • Oct 2002: Bali bombings kill 202, including 88 Australians
  • Dec 2000: Church bombings across the country kill 19

news 10 : Fika, a Swedish custom where people gather to eat, drink, and talk, is a welcome workplace tradition in the country. But, as Elizabeth Hotson finds, it’s catching on around the world.

news 10 :
In Sweden, it’s obligatory to eat coffee and cake. No, really.
At many companies it’s mandatory for all workers, from Malmo to Stockholm, to have a designated time during the day to sit down and do fika.
Fika — which roughly translates from Swedish as drinking coffee, munching sweet treats and chatting — is as much a part of the working day in Sweden as emailing and fixing the printer.
It’s like going to the pub in other countries.
“It’s deeply ingrained in our culture.” said Matts Johansson, founder of Da Matteo, a coffee chain based in Gothenburg. “Most Swedes have fika several times a day, whether it’s at the weekend or during the week. It’s about spending time with people, eating lovely homemade baked goods and drinking great coffee. It’s like going to the pub in other countries.”
Many Swedish firms have mandatory fika breaks and employees are given free hot drinks. But do all these regular chat breaks make for a more efficient workforce?

There isn’t a caffeine index as such, but the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) does publish productivity data.
Analysing productivity by employee in 38 countries, 2014 data reveal Sweden comes in at a respectable number 11. Sweden’s coffee-quaffing neighbour Norway is the second most productive nation, behind champs Luxembourg, while the workhorses of the US are fourth. Long-lunching France is seventh — far ahead of Japan (20th) and Korea (30th), two countries known for long work hours.
Going global
Coffee breaks are so important to the Swedish that even the country’s mega-brand, Ikea,has a paragraph about on its corporate website: “More than a coffee break, fika is a time to share, connect and relax with colleagues. Some of the best ideas and decisions happen at fika.”
Andreas Astrom, from the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, agrees.
“Swedish management style differs to most other countries. It’s flat and not very hierarchical," Astrom said. "When you have flat structures it's important to listen to everyone and through the communal nature of fika, chatting between employees and management is encouraged. It’s a great way to get everyone’s views on how companies are run."
If I can do this right, I can be another Richard Branson, become a fika billionaire.
And more recently, the trend has gone global. These days the aspirational, affluent, New Yorker, Londoner or Sydney-sider doesn’t just pop out of the office for coffee — they might sneak 15 minutes and go for fika. It’s less about grabbing a shot of caffeine on the go and more about scheduling pauses in to the day.
Lars Akerlund has built a business empire on fika. He relocated to New York City from Sweden in 2001, opening his first cafe, FIKA, near Central Park in 2006. He now has 17 cafes with another two on the way. One of the most popular menu items is a coffee and home-made cake or chocolate. It’s something that lends itself to savouring rather than devouring on the hop. So what inspired his burgeoning empire?
“I loved New York but when I moved here, outside the chain stores I couldn’t find a good coffee. The West Coast was full of great places for an espresso, so I knew there was potential. I saw a huge gap in the market and I thought, if I can do this right, I can be another Richard Branson, become a fika billionaire.”
Some people thought we were Swiss and asked for chocolate.
Akerlund didn’t just want to bring great coffee to New Yorkers, he wanted to give them a new perspective on life.
“With fika, the idea is to sit and enjoy your coffee and bun, even it’s for 10 minutes," Akerlund said. "In New York it was all about grab and go but I thought that if I offered something really good I could change people’s way of doing things, make them stop and relax.”
He got up at 4am every day to bake everything fresh. The coffee was from a speciality roaster in Brooklyn and chocolates were made on site. So how did New Yorkers react?
“At first some objected to the price. We were charging $2 for a drip coffee when they could get it for $1 next door," said Akerlund. "So I gave them a free cup. They liked it and came back.”
In Manhattan at least, FIKA has become an institution and it even has its own award-winning chocolate factory — the chain’s salted caramel won gold in the 2014 International Chocolate Awards. Perhaps, though, Akerlund’s biggest achievement is persuading busy New Yorkers to take a breath and stop during the working day, Swedish style
Fika has also left its mark in Australia. While the sun shines on the improbably beautiful sand of Manly beach, Sydney, a little corner of Sweden sits snugly around the corner. In 2013, Fika Swedish Kitchen opened its doors to a bemused public, as co-founder Diana Chirilas explains.
“We initially catered to mainly Swedish expats. Aussie-born locals poked their heads in and said ‘Swedish, what do you mean Swedish?’," she said. "Some people thought we were Swiss and asked for chocolate.”
Changing tastes and attitudes
But attitudes are changing, Chirilas said.
“Everything Scandinavian is trendy. There are Nordic movies and TV dramas, Swedish design shops have opened and people are curious," she said.
In Walthamstow, suburb in London, Swedish café Bygga Bo has taken the idea behind Fika and extended it to incorporate an entire lifestyle.
“Bygga Bo means ‘to build a nest’ and for me fika means cosy, relaxed and homely,” said Malin Hamilton, who opened the shop with husband James in 2013.
“We started the business by opening up our own house as a fika pop-up with coffee and cakes. It went well and we decided to do it full-time. We now have a Swedish lifestyle shop with a bit of everything including ceramics, candles and clothes so people can have that fika feeling whenever they want.”      
Fika tradition
A traditional fika consisted of seven homemade cakes. But is that overkill in today’s grab-and-go workplace?
“Historically you’d have seven different kinds of cakes and it was a kind of competition as to who made the best,” said Johansson. “Now you don’t have to go to those lengths but some people still do. It really depends on how ambitious you are.”
Husband James says there’s also been a change in consumers’ expectations, with people tiring of mass-market products and requesting one-off, carefully crafted goods.
“Fika fits into that mentality. We bake all our cakes, the accessories we sell are all handmade and people really appreciate it. They see it as

#news 10

news on 6 : The last man on Earth is a common trope in fiction – but what if it actually happened? How many people would it take to save our species?

news on 6 :
The alien predators arrived by boat. Within two years, everyone was dead. Almost.
The tiny islet of Ball’s Pyramid lies 600km east of Australia in the South Pacific, rising out of the sea like a shard of glass. And there they were – halfway up its sheer cliff edge, sheltering under a spindly bush – the last of the species. Two escaped and just nine years later there were 9,000, the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Adam and Eve.
No, this isn’t a bizarre take on the story of creation. The lucky couple were tree lobsters Dryococelus australis, stick insects the size of a human hand. They were thought to be extinct soon after black rats invaded their native Lord Howe Island in 1918, but were found clinging on in Ball’s Pyramid 83 years later. The species owes its miraculous recovery to a team of scientists who scaled 500ft of vertical rock to reach their hiding place in 2003. The lobsters were named “Adam” and “Eve” and sent to start a breeding programme at Melbourne Zoo.
Bouncing back after insect Armageddon is one thing. Female tree lobsters lay 10 eggs every 10 days and are capable of parthenogenesis; they don’t need a man to reproduce. Repopulating the earth with humans is quite another matter. Could we do it? And how long would it take?
The answer is more than a whimsical discussion for the pub. From Nasa’s research on the magic number of pioneers needed for our move to another planet, to decisions about the conservation of endangered species, it’s a matter of increasing international importance and urgency.
The average person has between one and two lethal recessive mutations in their genome
So let’s fast-forward 100 years. Humanity’s endeavours have gone horribly wrong and a robot uprising has wiped us off the face of the Earth – a fate predicted by Stephen Hawking in 2014. Just two people made it. There’s no way around it: the first generation would all be brothers and sisters.
Sigmund Freud believed incest was the only universal human taboo alongside murdering your parents. It’s not just gross, it’s downright dangerous. A study of children born in Czechoslovakia between 1933 and 1970 found that nearly 40% of those whose parents were first-degree relatives were severely handicapped, of which 14% eventually died.
Recessive risks
To understand why inbreeding can be so deadly, we need to get to grips with some genetics. We all have two copies of every gene, one from each parent. But some gene variants don’t show up unless you have two exactly the same. Most inherited diseases are caused by these “recessive” variants, which sneak through the evolutionary radar because they are harmless on their own. In fact, the average person has between one and two lethal recessive mutations in their genome.
When a couple are related, it doesn’t take long for the mask to slip. Take achromatopsia, a rare recessive disorder which causes total colour blindness. It affects 1 in 33,000 Americans and is carried by one in 100. If one of our post-apocalyptic survivors had the variant, there’s a one in four chance of their child having a copy. So far, so good. After just one generation of incest, the risk skyrockets – with a one in four chance of their child having two copies. That’s a 1 in 16 chance that the original couple’s first grandchild would have the disease.
This was the fate of the inhabitants of Pingelap, an isolated atoll in the western Pacific. The entire population is descended from just 20 survivors of a typhoon which swept the island in the 18th Century, including a carrier of achromatopsia. With such a small gene pool, today a 10th of the island’s population is totally colour blind.
Even with these hideous risks in mind, if the survivors had enough children the chances are at least some of them would be healthy. But what happens when inbreeding continues for hundreds of years? It turns out you don’t have to be stuck on an island to find out, because there’s one community that just can’t get enough of their close relatives: European royalty. And with nine generations of strategic marriages between cousins, uncles, and nieces in 200 years, the Spanish Habsburgs are a natural experiment in how it all adds up.
Charles II was the family’s most famous victim. Born with a litany of physical and mental disabilities, the king didn’t learn to walk until he was eight years old. As an adult his infertility spelled the extinction of an entire dynasty.
Genetic diversity allows species to evolve their way around future challenges
In 2009 a team of Spanish scientists revealed why. Charles’ ancestry was so entangled, his “inbreeding coefficient” – a figure reflecting the proportion of inherited genes that would be identical from both parents – was higher than if he had been born to siblings.
It’s the same measure used by ecologists to assess the genetic risks faced by endangered species. “With a small population size everyone is going to be related sooner or later, and as relatedness increases inbreeding effects become more important,” explains Dr Bruce Robertson from Otago University. He studies New Zealand’s giant, flightless parrots, called the kakapo, of which there are only 125 left on the planet.
Of particular concern are the effects of inbreeding on sperm quality, which has increased the proportion of eggs that will never hatch from 10% to around 40%. It’s an example of inbreeding depression, Robertson says, caused by the exposure of recessive genetic defects in a population. Despite plenty of food and protection from predators, the kakapo might not make it.
Immune mix
Endangered species also run the gauntlet of longer-term risks. Although they may already be well adapted to their environment, genetic diversity allows species to evolve their way around future challenges. Nowhere is this more important than immunity. “It’s something that most species seem keen to promote diversity in, even humans. We pick mates with a very different immune composition so our offspring have a diverse array of immune locks,” says Dr Philip Stephens from Durham University. Back in our evolutionary past, it’s thought that pairing with Neanderthals may have given our immune systems a genetic boost.
Even if our species makes it, it could be unrecognisable. When small pockets of individuals remain isolated for too long they become susceptible to the founder effect, in which the loss of genetic diversity amplifies the population’s genetic quirks. Not only would the new humans look and sound different – they could be an entirely different species.
So how much variety do you need? It’s a debate that goes right back to the 80s, says Stephens, when an Australian scientist proposed a universal rule of thumb. “Basically you need 50 breeding individuals to avoid inbreeding depression and 500 in order to adapt,” he says. It’s a rule still used today – though it’s been upped to 500-5,000 to account for random losses when genes are passed from one generation to the next – to inform the IUCN Red List, which catalogues the world’s most threatened species.
Increasingly, the concept is leading those in the field to question the policies of large conservation charities, which prioritise the most endangered species. “It’s conservation framed in the context of triage – you sift casualties and ask is there a chance of saving them. It can be used to say well, can we forget about species?”
There are stories of incredible journeys back from the brink – anything is possible – Dr Philip Stephens
But before you write off our couple, as one scientist pointed out, we’re living proof of the concept’s inherent flaws. According to anatomical and archaeological evidence, our ancestors wouldn’t have made our own population targets, with 1,000 individuals in existence for nearly a million years. Then between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, we hit another rough patch as our ancestors migrated out of Africa. As you would expect, we’ve been left with astonishingly low genetic diversity. A 2012 study of the genetic differences between neighbouring groups of chimpanzees found more diversity in a single group than among all seven billion humans alive today.
Looking to our ancestors may be our best bet. Anthropologist John Moore’s estimate, which was published by Nasa in 2002, was modelled on small migrating groups of early humans – around 160 people. He recommends starting with young, childless couples and screening for the presence of potentially dangerous recessive genes. Alas, Moore was contemplating long-term space travel, not repopulating the planet. His number only allows for 200 years of isolation before the pioneers head back to Earth.
So what of the last man and woman? It’s impossible to say with any certainty, though Stephens is tentatively optimistic. “The evidence for the short-term effects of low genetic diversity is very strong, but all these things are probabilistic. There are stories of incredible journeys back from the brink – anything is possible.”
As long as the apocalypse doesn’t destroy the foundations of modern civilisation, humanity could bounce back surprisingly fast. At the turn of the 20th Century, the Hutterite community of North America – which is, incidentally, highly inbred – achieved the highest levels of population growth ever recorded, doubling every 17 years. It’s a tough ask, but if each woman had eight children, we’d be back to seven billion people and our current population crisis in just 556 years.

#news on 6

news google : Iran frees US Navy sailors held in Gulf after incursion

news google : 


Iran has released 10 US sailors held for entering its territorial waters, in a swift resolution of an incident that tested newly-improved US-Iranian ties.
They were detained Tuesday after one of their two vessels broke down during a training mission in the Gulf.
Iranian state media said the group was released into international waters after apologising.
It comes at a sensitive time, as the US and Iran try to implement the deal on Iran's nuclear activities.
The incursion was "unintentional", a statement from the Revolutionary Guards quoted by state media said.


Earlier, the naval commander of the Guards, General Ali Fadavi, said investigations found a navigational failure was to blame.
"We have concluded that passage of Americans in our territorial waters was not a hostile passage or for espionage or similar acts," he told Iranian television.
A Pentagon statement said the Navy sailors had been safely returned, and that an investigation was under way as to how they entered Iranian waters.
"Around the world, the US Navy routinely provides assistance to foreign sailors in distress, and we appreciate the timely way in which this situation was resolved," said Defence Secretary Ash Carter.

Iran-US relations pass a test: Jonathan Marcus, diplomatic correspondent

The tentative and still largely potential softening of relations between Washington and Tehran in the wake of the nuclear deal seems to have passed a delicate initial test.
The Tehran authorities have quickly accepted that the US patrol boats strayed into their waters by accident and the crews - according to Iranian State Television - have now been released.
The process to begin lifting the sanctions imposed on Iran due to its nuclear activities is expected to get under way at the end of this week.
There are many conservatives and hardliners in both countries who would dearly love to sabotage the deal and consequently both governments may well have been eager to get this episode resolved as quickly as possible.
Clearly the economic benefits of lifting the sanctions may have been too great an inducement for the agreement to be derailed now.

US Secretary of State John Kerry called Foreign Minister Javad Zarif shortly after the incident. The pair developed a personal rapport during the nuclear talks.
Those detained - nine men and one woman - were taken to Farsi Island, in the middle of the Gulf, where Iran has a naval base.

Pictures published on the Revolutionary Guards' website showed the group sitting on a Persian rug, with the one female member wearing a headscarf.
US opponents of the nuclear deal, which will see Iran limit its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, had expressed outrage at the sailors' detention.
"Iran is testing the boundaries of this administration's resolve," said Marco Rubio, who is in the running to be the Republican party candidate.
Iran's deputy nuclear chief has meanwhile denied a report the Arak heavy-water reactor had been decommissioned, which would be a final step towards implementation of the nuclear deal.


Iranian state media's coverage of the incident has been studiously restrained and measured in tone.
The usual pejorative terms usually reserved for the US and other Western powers - such as "global arrogance" and "enemies" - have been conspicuous by their absence.
State TV and radio reports did highlight that the US incursion had been "illegal" and that Tehran wanted an apology, later reporting that it had got it.
The mood music was far less tense and confrontational than during the capture of British sailors in in 2007, with Iran insisting they strayed into its water - an accusation London denied.
Then, the Iranian media initially accused the UK servicemen of spying, and later mockingly reported that one of them had cried when his music player was confiscated.

Iran's influential Revolutionary Guard - tasked with protecting the country's 1979 Islamic revolution - has strongly defended Iranian sea borders in the past.
Fifteen British sailors and marines were held for 13 days in 2007 after they were captured in a disputed area between Iran and Iraq.
Despite last year's breakthrough nuclear deal tensions remain between the US and Iran.
In December, Iran's navy conducted rocket tests near US warships in the Strait of Hormuz, something the US called "highly provocative".

Q&A: Iran's nuclear deal

What is it? In July, Iran agreed a landmark nuclear deal with six world powers to limit its sensitive nuclear activities for more than a decade in return for the lifting of crippling sanctions. The US is confident the agreement will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Iran says it has the right to nuclear energy - and stresses that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only.
When is 'implementation day'? Iran will not see the UN, US and EU sanctions lifted until the global nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), certifies that it has fulfilled its commitments under the deal. The precise date of the so-called "implementation day" has not been determined. But Iran says it has met those commitments earlier than expected and last week US Secretary of State John Kerry declared: "We are days away from implementation."
What does Iran stand to gain? The sanctions have cost Iran more than more than $160bn (£102bn) in oil revenue since 2012 alone. Once they are lifted, the country will be able to resume selling oil on international markets and using the global financial system for trade. Iran has the fourth largest oil reserves in the world and the energy industry is braced for lower prices. Iran will also be able to access more than $100bn in assets frozen overseas.



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news 13 : Turkey v Islamic State v the Kurds: What's going on?

news 13 :
Turkey has launched a high-risk offensive against the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), while providing the US with an airbase for attacking Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria.
A ceasefire with the PKK collapsed last month, after renewed clashes in south-eastern Turkey. In the latest violence, four Turkish police officers and a soldier were killed in Sirnak, part of the Kurdish-majority region.
Meanwhile, US F-16 fighter jets have arrived at Turkey's southern Incirlik airbase to join the fight against IS. US drones have already launched raids on IS from there.
Turkey says its war on two fronts will prove decisive. Critics say Turkey's strategy - complicated by long-standing problems with its large Kurdish minority - is short-sighted and likely to backfire.

How did Turkey get here?

Violence escalated on 20 July, with a suicide attack in Suruc, a Kurdish-dominated town near the Syrian border.
A bomber blew himself up at a gathering of left-wing activists, killing 32 people. The attack was apparently ordered by IS. However, Kurdish protesters also blamed the Turkish government for colluding with IS - a charge it denies.
Two days later, PKK rebels killed two Turkish policemen, accusing them of facilitating the Suruc bombing.

Meanwhile, IS fighters clashed with Turkish troops along the Syrian border, killing one of them.
Turkey responded by arresting hundreds of suspected supporters of IS and the PKK, while its aircraft bombed the groups' positions in Syria and northern Iraq, respectively.
By 10 August, more than 1,300 people had been arrested in the crackdown, including leftists of the banned DHKP-C Marxist group.
Turkey also revealed that it had struck a deal that would grant the US use of the Incirlik base - potentially speeding up air strikes against IS.
The PKK - branded a "terrorist" organisation by Turkey and its Western allies - has been fighting for Kurdish self-determination since 1984. A ceasefire was signed in 2013.
The Turkish government says it is ready to fight all the enemies of its national interest. But many observers believe it is particularly interested in one enemy.
The question is: Which one?

Some say Turkey will help the Americans hammer IS, while striking the PKK as a warning - no more. Others say it will go after the Kurds hardest, while doing the bare minimum against IS.
Turkish policy is "to pretend that it is waging a war against IS, while at the same time following up on another goal, which is to destroy the PKK," says Kerem Oktem, a professor at the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz in Austria.
In a news PKK leader Cemil Bayik went further, accusing Turkey of attacking the PKK in order to "stop the Kurdish advance against [IS]". So Turkey, he said, was actually "protecting IS".
Turkey has previously dismissed such Kurdish allegations.


What has Turkey been doing until now?

For the underlying narrative behind Turkey's intervention, look to its troubled history with the Kurds.
United by ethnicity and divided by modern borders, the Kurds are a sizeable minority within Turkey, as well as within the neighbouring states of Syria, Iraq and Iran.
In each of these countries, the Kurds have agitated against governments, sometimes for greater rights, sometimes for outright independence.

Turkey's truce with the PKK was undermined by the civil war in Syria, which strengthened the rebels' armed offshoot there, known as the YPG.
Like its allies in the Gulf, Turkey wants the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It too has been accused of supporting many of the rebel groups fighting him - though not the YPG.
Turkey has looked on, worried, as the YPG has carved out a proto-state adjacent to its southern border - an unwanted beneficiary, in its view of the fragmentation of Syria.
The other big beneficiary has been IS, whose Syrian territory roughly encircles the areas held by the YPG. Turkey denies the accusation, levelled by many Kurds, that it is using IS to check Kurdish influence.

Turkey has nonetheless served as a highway for foreign fighters eager to join the jihad in Syria. Weapons and funds have also allegedly flowed down the same route.
Until now, Turkey has been reluctant to take a leading role in the US-led campaign against IS. Instead, it has called for a buffer zone along its border, stretching far inside Syria - a zone which neither IS nor the PKK would control.
Meanwhile, the YPG has taken the lead in the fight against IS in Syria. Backed by US air strikes, the YPG defended the border town of Kobane against IS last year. This year, it has driven the militants from more Syrian border towns.

So what changed for Turkey?

The Washington Post reports that the US and Turkey finally reached agreement on a buffer zone in late July, just as they announced a deal on the use of Incirlik. Many analysts believe Turkey was spurred into action by the need to check the YPG's westward advance in Syria.
According to this theory, the Ankara government realised that its cautious approach to IS had been counter-productive. By holding back, Turkey had inadvertently allowed the YPG to prosper under the shield of American air strikes.
The buffer zone plan reportedly gives Turkey a starring role in the conflict alongside the US.
The plan is said to envisage driving IS out of northern Syria, through US air strikes. Syrian opposition groups - vetted and supported by Turkey and the US - would fill the vacuum, putting a brake on Kurdish territorial gains.

"The American and Turkish position from the beginning of the conflict has not been that different," says Aaron Stein, an expert on Turkey at the Royal United Services Institute, a London-based think tank. "The US is not going to choose the PKK over Ankara - ever."
There are other explanations for Turkey's intervention, besides events in Syria.
Sinan Ulgen, an expert in Turkish foreign policy with Carnegie Europe, a Brussels-based think tank, says Ankara has revised its view of IS as "a useful enemy".
Turkey's policy towards IS has exposed it to criticism from Nato allies, he says. Meanwhile, the Suruc attack increased public appetite for a crackdown on IS, while highlighting the hazards of tolerating the group.
Domestic political considerations may also play a part. The governing AKP party lost its majority in a recent election, forcing it to look for coalition partners. It lost ground to a pro-Kurdish opposition party, the HDP, which managed to reach out beyond its ethnic base.
Mr Oktem argues that the AKP has set its sights on calling a fresh election in the hope of getting a better result that would allow it to continue in government alone.
Fighting the PKK, he says, is part of a drive to weaken the HDP, whereby the opposition party ends up being tarnished by its association with the Kurdish minority.

What happens to the Kurds?

If the buffer zone is created, the YPG may withdraw from some areas.
"The Kurds are over-extended - they're not welcome in the areas they're extending into," says Mr Stein.
He compares the YPG's position to that of the Iraqi Kurdish militia, the Peshmerga, which is also fighting IS - but has backed away from holding territory where Kurds are not a major ethnic group.
Moreover, says Mr Stein, the YPG may be reassured by the "de facto US security guarantee" that it has enjoyed since the bombing of Kobane.
Turkey may also try to drive a wedge between the YPG and PKK by adopting a softer approach to the Syrian Kurdish group.
"Turkey is making a differentiation" between the two groups, says Mr Ulgen, on account of the YPG's role in the fight against IS. Turkish air strikes, he says, will mainly target the PKK bases in the Iraqi mountains.
However, there is no guarantee such a tactic will work. The tightly-knit ranks of the PKK and YPG have little regard for national borders and could well thwart any attempt at division.

What else might go wrong?

As the saying goes, no plan survives first contact with the enemy. It is unclear how IS - or the Syrian government - will respond to an uptick in US air strikes. Nor is it clear if the rebel groups that are meant to stabilise the buffer zone will play ball.
Those groups are dominated by Islamists and jihadists, including the al-Qaeda-allied Jabhat al-Nusra - not exactly the "moderates" the US would like to be helping.
And Turkey's forces could end up trying to tamp down a domestic insurgency in order to make its intervention in Syria succeed.
In a further complication, Turkey is hunting leftist DHKP-C militants, blamed for several shootings and grenade attacks. The DHKP-C claimed one of its militants fired at the US consulate in Istanbul on 10 August.
For now, the Turkish and Kurdish forces that are fighting IS are also fighting each other.
The outcome of this multi-faceted contest is uncertain. But Turkey's actions underscore an unofficial axiom of the campaign against IS: the US goal of defeating the militants cannot be untangled from the conflicting aims of its allies in the fight.





news 9 : Turkey: 'IS suicide bomber' kills 10 in Istanbul Sultanahmet district

news 9 :
A suspected member of the Islamic State (IS) group has killed 10 people, at least nine of them German tourists, in a suicide bomb attack in the Turkish city of Istanbul, officials say.
They say the Syrian national carried out the attack in the Sultanahmet district, near the famous Blue Mosque.
Fifteen people were wounded, many of them also German.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was the "top target for all terrorist groups in the region".
His country, he added, was "fighting against all of them equally".

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu telephoned German Chancellor Angela Merkel to offer his condolences, the Anadolu news agency quoted his office as saying.
Mr Davutoglu later said: "We have determined that the perpetrator of the attack is a foreigner who is a member of Daesh (IS)."
He vowed to find and punish those linked to the bomber and pledged to continue the fight against IS militants.
Turkey's Deputy PM Numan Kurtulmus said earlier: "It has been identified that the suicide bomber is Syrian and his connections are being investigated."

The suspect was said to have been born in 1988 and was identified from body parts.
Some Turkish media said the suspect was a Syrian citizen but had been born in Saudi Arabia.
Mr Kurtulmus said the suspect was not on Turkey's militant watch-list and was believed to have recently crossed into Turkey from Syria.
Turkey last year took a more active role against IS in Syria, carrying out air strikes and allowing US warplanes to use its Incirlik base for missions.

'Further trouble'

Eyewitness Murat Manaz said: "It was a suicide bomb. I went there and saw it and came back to the hotel. There was chaos. Everybody was running somewhere.
"Policemen did not see this coming. They were distressed but at the same time they were trying to evacuate the area because they said there was a possibility that a second bomb could go off."

Bishop Pat Buckley, from Northern Ireland, had been taking photos in Sultanahmet Square shortly before the blast and had moved on into the Blue Mosque.
He told the : "I have lived in Northern Ireland since the 70s, and I have heard explosions, and this was incredibly loud. I saw dust through the doorway of the mosque and I could smell the explosives."
He added: "I am slightly worried because there is talk here that they are expecting further trouble and we have been warned to avoid crowds."
One Norwegian was confirmed among the injured.
Mrs Merkel had earlier expressed "serious concern" about the casualties, saying a German tourist group had been affected.
She added: "Today Istanbul was hit; Paris has been hit, Tunisia has been hit, Ankara has been hit before. International terrorism is once again showing its cruel and inhuman face today."
Germany currently provides the largest number of tourists visiting Turkey. In 2014, 23.6 million people visited, with the top three:
  • Germans - 5.1 million (21.5%)
  • Russians - 3.7 million (15.6%)
  • Britons - 1.5 million (6.3%)



What is the security situation in Turkey?

Turkey faces myriad security threats and establishing which group is behind this latest attack will be a matter of urgency. The Islamic State group has been blamed for three bombings in Turkey in the past year, including an attack in Ankara that killed more than 100 people. Violence has also soared between Turkish security forces and PKK militants, battling for more autonomy for the Kurds, after a ceasefire agreement broke down in July. A PKK offshoot, the TAK, fired a mortar at Istanbul airport last month. Far left groups are also active in Turkey, and a female suicide bomber attacked a police station in Istanbul's Sultanahmet district last year.

Who could be behind the latest attack?

President Erdogan has blamed a "suicide bomber of Syrian origin". The conflict in Syria has not only seen the rise of IS but also strengthened the PKK's offshoot in Syria, known as the YPG. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but correspondents point out that IS was similarly silent following previous attacks last year that were widely blamed on the jihadist group.

How is the Turkish government responding?

Last year Turkey agreed to take a more active role in the US-led campaign against IS, carrying out air strikes in Syria. It also allowed US warplanes to strike IS targets from its base in Incirlik and moved to tighten security along its 900km (560 mile) border with Syria. Meanwhile Turkish forces have also been targeting Kurdish militants in northern Iraq. And violence has flared in Turkey's mainly Kurdish south-east, where the Turkish military says it has killed some 600 PKK militants over the past month, according to Anadolou Agency.
Turkey violence: How dangerous is instability?
Turkey v Islamic State v the Kurds: What's going on?


newsmax : The 'Michelin curse' comes to Hong Kong

newsmax :

Winning recognition in the annual Michelin Guide is one of the most sought-after honours in the restaurant business.
But in Hong Kong, a city plagued by high rents, the accolade may bring unexpected challenges.
Just ask the owner of Kai Kai Dessert, which specialises in classic Cantonese desserts like steamed egg pudding, red bean soup with lotus seed, and papaya and white fungus soup.
Chiu Wai Yip, 58, told BBC News that just weeks after winning the Michelin honour in November, the shop's landlord more than doubled the rent from HK$100,000 ($12,900; £8,800) to HK$220,000 ($28,378; £19,400) a month.
What's more, the landlord wanted to halve the amount of space the eatery currently occupies.
"It's really too bad," Mr Chiu says. "After we were recognised by the guide, the owner raised the rent by a huge sum. So, we have no choice but to relocate. We have no other option really."

The family-owned business has been an institution in the gourmet haven of Jordan for three decades.
Even in the middle of the afternoon, not a traditional time for dessert, every table at the eatery is occupied by customers slurping its delicately sweet creations.
Luckily for Mr Chiu, after hearing his plight, a regular customer came to his rescue.
In March, Kai Kai will move around the corner, where he will pay a cheaper rent of HK$90,000 per month.
Kai Kai is one of about two dozen street food eateries in Hong Kong featured in the Michelin guide for the first time.
The inclusion of such accessible, authentic local fare was praised by many food critics and bloggers, although, as often happens in the controversial foodie world, the exact choices were hotly debated.
But because all of them charge such low prices - a bowl of pudding at Kai Kai costs less than three US dollars - they are vulnerable to enormous rental increases, resulting in what some call the "Michelin curse".

Another establishment similarly affected is Cheung Hing Kee, which specialises in Shanghai-style fried dumplings.
Called shengjianbao, they are moist on top and pan-fried to a golden brown crunchiness on the bottom.
Eating them takes some practice. If you're not careful, a mouthful of sticky, savoury pork broth will shoot out onto the unsuspecting diner.
An order of four dumplings, enough for a moderately hungry person, costs HK$28 ($3.60; £2.50).
Owner Sun Kei, 50, and his business partner started the tiny eatery in the modest working-class neighbourhood of Tsuen Wan three years ago.
Both have family roots in Shanghai and wanted to bring the fried soup dumplings to Hong Kong.

The former British colony, Mr Sun says, is quickly losing its culinary street culture because of high rental costs and rising salaries.
According to research from real estate firm Jones Lang Lasalle, rental prices among high street shops in Hong Kong have nearly doubled since the city was handed back to China in 1997.
Denis Ma, head of Hong Kong research for estate agency JLL, says he thinks the "Michelin curse" is a myth. He believes gentrification and changing demographics are to blame for sky-high rents.
Prices actually peaked in October 2014, and have been falling steadily since.
That has not helped Mr Sun, who started rental renewal negotiations with the landlord before being recognised by the Michelin guide.
After winning the honour, he says, the landlord's attitude hardened and he refused to budge from a 30% increase in monthly rent.

"I don't blame Michelin for this," Mr Sun says. "To be honest, I don't really blame the landlord either. He has to make a living. He should be trying to get what he can."
"But the Hong Kong government has not done a good job in managing the rental market, leading many small and medium restaurants to close. Hong Kong used to be a food capital. Now, that glory is really fading. And its getting worse and worse."
He wants the government to reinstate a rent control policy that was abolished in 1998.
But even that policy had applied only to residential, not commercial, rentals.
Buoyed by the Michelin recognition, Mr Sun plans to open a new branch of the eatery in the commercial district of Tsim Sha Tsui, which is popular with tourists and office workers.
But news of the move has angered many loyal customers.
They are sharing photos of the closing notice on their social media networks, decrying what they call "greedy landlords".
One of them, Crystal, says she feels like crying.
"There are many good restaurants in Tsuen Wan. That's why I still live here," she explains. "I think it's a real shame they're moving."

Mr Sun says he is just as sad to be abandoning the neighbourhood that gave him his start as an entrepreneur.
"Of course it was great to be recognised by Michelin," he says. "It was public recognition of our team, our food and our service. It really encouraged us. But, of course, not everything resulting from that was positive."
He vows to return to Tsuen Wan as soon as he can find a new location.
Like the owner of Kai Kai Dessert, Mr Sun is realising that being featured by the Michelin guide has its downsides.








newstudyhall : Cologne attacks' profound impact on Europe

newstudyhall :


The events in Cologne and other cities over New Year have left a deep imprint in Germany.
The stories of women running a gauntlet of sexual assault by young men have tapped into society's deepest fears.
In just the city of Cologne, more than 500 cases of violence have been recorded, although not all were sexual attacks.
The consensus in favour of accepting 1.1 million refugees was already fraying. Now the country is deeply uneasy and sharply divided.
"Cologne has changed everything," said Volker Bouffier, vice-president of Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right CDU party. "People are now doubting."
Women describe 'terrible' assaults
Cologne mayor's 'code of conduct' attacked
The search for answers
What happened during the first hours of 2016 is likely to have a profound impact on the rest of Europe.
Certainly the boldness of the assaults and the sense of a powerless state will haunt the victims, but what has also been lost is trust - the essential glue in any society.
There is now a widely held suspicion that the political elite is not being candid with the German public.

There was the inexplicably bland initial police report describing the evening in Cologne as a "relaxed atmosphere. Celebrations largely peaceful". It was on social media that news of the assaults first seeped out.
When the Cologne police chief said that many of the young men who had been outside the train station that night had been of North African or Middle Eastern origin, politicians and officials were quick to say they were not drawn from the migrants who in recent months had sought asylum in Germany.
It took the better part of a week to acknowledge that asylum seekers were among the suspects.
The police certainly knew the reality of who had been on the streets. On the night some young men had shown police their asylum documents.
An internal police report describes a man telling the police: "I am Syrian. You have to treat me kindly. Mrs Merkel invited me".

Much not explained

Certainly there is much that remains to be explained. Was this a co-ordinated event and, if so, who was behind it?
The German justice minister believes it was organised, but for what purpose? Or was it just a gathering sparked by social media?
It is also true that large public events like Oktoberfest have been marked by incidents of sexual assault without any migrants being present.

Although the figures are not up to date, it does not appear so far that the crime rate among asylum seekers is higher than among similar groups in the native population.
What has fuelled the sense of crisis is the suspicion - now widely held - that the German establishment is not telling the truth.
The German public-service broadcaster ZDF did not mention the incidents in Cologne in its broadcast until last Tuesday, four days after the attacks.
The broadcaster has now admitted it was a "clear misjudgement" and says that since then, it has been "over-whelmed with hate and anger".
In parts of social media the idea of a "lying press" has taken root.

Some German papers are quoting police sources saying they are under orders not to report crimes involving refugees.
Many Muslims have spoken out against the assaults, but that has not stopped the main euro-sceptic party Alternativ fuer Deutschland warning against the disintegration of German culture.
In the party's view, Angela Merkel has become a danger and Germany is being asked to compromise its basic values.
The mayor of Cologne suggested it would be wise in future if women "kept men at arm's length".

Echoes from elsewhere

She insists her words were misunderstood. But there have been echoes elsewhere in Europe.
The Viennese police chief Gerhard Pursti said that "women should in general not go into the streets alone in Vienna."
This has caused an outcry, with women complaining that they are being asked to change their behaviour.
Many of them feel torn; they are outraged but they don't want to lend any support to racist groups.
Certainly Angela Merkel was quick to understand that these assaults threatened her whole refugee policy.
Very early on in the crisis she said that "women's feeling of being completely defenceless is intolerable, also to me personally". She went on to say that "when crimes are committed, there must be consequences."
The German government is examining changing the law to make it easier to deport those convicted of sexual assault but it is unclear how a refugee who has come from Syria could be deported back there.

Pressure building

So pressure will build on Mrs Merkel to limit the numbers of refugees arriving. Already some of her political allies have demanded that.
She has resisted but her political authority has been weakened by these events.



In the short term, she has enough political capital to withstand the pressure but she will face further tests in the spring.
There are three state elections and members of her party will watch closely how the CDU fares.
And then, of course, the question is whether the warmer weather will increase the numbers arriving.
Chancellor Merkel's long-stated belief is that migration is not a German problem, but a European one.
It is not seen that way in parts of Eastern and Central Europe.
An EU plan to implement quotas, to relocate refugees across the member states, has failed so far. Only a few hundred refugees have actually been moved.

Mrs Merkel has placed a huge bet on Turkey helping to stem the flow of migrants in exchange for financial help and granting people from Turkey visa-free travel in parts of Europe.
This week, senior European officials could not disguise their frustration with Turkey; they have seen little evidence of migrants being turned around at the Turkish border.
Mrs Merkel has said that the passport-free zone, guaranteed by the Schengen agreement, can only work "if there is joint responsibility for protecting the external borders".
It is hard to see how that will happen and, in any event, what is being talked about is an orderly system of registering those who qualify for asylum. It is not about reducing numbers.

New border controls

In the meantime checkpoints, border patrols and fences are springing up in different parts of Europe.

Only this week border identity checks were introduced on the Oresund Bridge linking Sweden and Denmark.
It is the first time since 1958 that there have been border controls between the two countries.
  • Denmark has introduced checks on its border with Germany.
  • Austria is reinforcing its border.
  • Italy is considering controls on its border with Slovenia.
  • Hungary is helping Macedonia to build a fence.
In the short term, both Brussels and the European establishment portray these measures as temporary.
Certainly Europe's leaders will do all in their power to defend the Schengen guarantee of freedom of movement, a key pillar of European integration but the migrant crisis is not receding.
Even in mid-winter, 3,000-4,000 migrants are arriving each day in Germany.
So already in these early days of 2016 the debate about the wisdom of sanctioning large-scale migration in Europe has been re-kindled.
Mrs Merkel herself - in the past - has questioned whether integration is working. Once again there are fears of parallel societies taking root with different cultural rules.
You can sometimes feel that in the banlieues around Paris or in parts of Brussels. But then in parts of London, you see groups of young people hanging out together - regardless of background or creed.
The question for Germany is not just how to protect women without curtailing their lives but how to restore trust with ordinary Germans that they are being told the truth.
It is a question that resonates across Europe. It is hard to think of a series of events so likely to feed the narrative of Europe's anti-establishment and populist parties that an elite is misleading the people.

news channel 5 : Obituary: David Bowie

news channel 5 :
David Bowie was one of the most influential musicians of his time, constantly re-inventing his persona and sound, from the 1960s hippy of Space Oddity, through Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke to his later incarnation as a soulful rocker.
Where before, artists and groups either evolved their musical style and appearance or remained unchanging, David Bowie seemed to be in permanent revolution.
He defied any label. Music, fashion, sexuality: all were Bowie's playthings. He was truly an artistic chameleon.
Bowie was born David Jones in January 1947 but reinvented himself as David Bowie, in 1966, in order to avoid confusion with the Monkees' Davy Jones.

He went on to study Buddhism and mime, and released his first album, the World of David Bowie, in 1967.
But it was the title track of his second album, Space Oddity, which aroused more than passing interest.
The atmospheric tale of an abandoned astronaut, Major Tom, orbiting the Earth, Space Oddity became a hit in 1969, the year of the first Moon landing.
Initially a hit throughout Europe, it took four years to "break" the United States.

Ziggy Stardust

Bowie followed up this initial success with The Man Who Sold the World, a complex album, whose title track has been covered by artists as diverse as Lulu and Nirvana.
His second album of 1971, Hunky Dory, was arguably Bowie's first great work. Its 11 songs, including the haunting Life on Mars? and Oh, You Pretty Things, redefined serious rock for the 1970s generation.
And a line from Hunky Dory's final track, The Bewlay Brothers, seemed to perfectly sum up David Bowie, "chameleon, comedian, Corinthian and caricature".

The following year saw the release of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, a superbly-executed concept album which included hits like Starman, Suffragette City and Rock 'n' Roll Suicide.
The album's huge popularity and the accompanying tour, featuring Bowie as the sexually ambiguous Ziggy, brought him worldwide stardom.
By now married to the former Angie Barnett (divorced in 1980) and with a young son, Zowie (now Joe), Bowie was a hedonist of breathtaking scale, living a rock and roll lifestyle fuelled by drink, drugs and vigorous bisexuality.
Having killed off Ziggy, 1973 brought Aladdin Sane, which cemented Bowie's reputation in the United States.
Songs like Cracked Actor explored the dark, seedy, side of fame, while Jean Genie was an old-fashioned rocker.
As well as writing and performing, Bowie now branched out, producing Lou Reed's Transformer album and writing and producing Mott the Hoople's hit single, All the Young Dudes.

Berlin sojourn

While he was touring with his next album, the apocalyptic Diamond Dogs, David Bowie recorded the Young Americans album in Philadelphia.
This dalliance with "plastic soul" continued on the album Station to Station and brought Bowie hits including Golden Years, Knock on Wood and his first US number one single, Fame, co-written with John Lennon and Carlos Alomar.
But, once more, David Bowie changed direction, moving to Berlin and working on a triptych of albums, Low, Heroes and Lodger.
 
Produced in collaboration with Brian Eno, these dense works were perhaps the most experimental of Bowie's career, mixing electronic sounds and avant-garde lyrics to produce a radical, and influential, song cycle.
The late 1970s saw Bowie concentrating on acting, starring in Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth and opposite Marlene Dietrich in the lamentable Just a Gigolo.
The critically acclaimed Lodger album was followed by Scary Monsters, notable for its groundbreaking video accompaniment and the single Ashes to Ashes, which updated the story of Major Tom.

Actor and web pioneer

But 1983 saw a new, driven, David Bowie return to form with the Let's Dance album.
Hits like China Girl and Modern Love, coupled with the spectacular Serious Moonlight world tour, introduced Bowie to a whole new generation.
And his 1985 duet with Mick Jagger, a cover version of Martha and the Vandellas' Dancin' in the Street, was a major factor in the success of the Band Aid project and its accompanying Live Aid concert.

Bowie returned to acting, playing the lead in The Elephant Man on Broadway as well as typically exotic characters in the films Cat People and The Hunger.
The late 1980s were dominated by Bowie's involvement with his new band, a postmodernist heavy metal outfit, Tin Machine.
This project, which was designed to allow Bowie to re-examine his rock 'n' roll roots, produced two albums of questionable quality and was panned by the listening public and critics alike.
The 1990s saw David Bowie flirting with drum-and-bass on the Earthling album, setting up his own highly popular website and debuting on Wall Street with the Bowie Bond, sales of which netted him $55m.
The 2002 album Heathen saw a long-awaited return to form for the indefinable master of rock style, and the man who, throughout his long and varied career, influenced everyone from Iggy Pop to Boy George.
After a decade without a studio album he released The Next Day in 2013, surprising fans who thought he had retired. It became his first UK number one for 20 years.
His latest album, the critically acclaimed Blackstar, was released on his 69th birthday, just days before his death.

news4jax : David Bowie dies of cancer at 69

news4jax :
Singer David Bowie has died at the age of 69 from cancer.
His son, film director Duncan Jones, confirmed the news and a statement was issued on his social media accounts.
"David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer," it said.
"While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family's privacy during their time of grief."
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Sixty-six facts about David Bowie
The singer only released his latest album Blackstar on his birthday on Friday.

Tributes have been paid to Bowie from across the world of entertainment.
Brian Eno, who collaborated with Bowie on his albums Low and Heroes, said: "Words cannot express... rest in peace David Bowie".
Rapper Kanye West said: "David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime."
Comedian and actor Ricky Gervais, who convinced Bowie to star as himself and ridicule Gervais in an episode of 2006 sitcom Extras, wrote simply: "I just lost a hero. RIP David Bowie."
Comedian and writer Eddie Izzard said: "Very sad to hear about the death of David Bowie but through his music he will live forever."
Bowie collaborator Rick Wakeman wrote on Twitter: "As I'm sure you can imagine I'm gutted hearing of David's passing. He was the biggest influence & encouragement I could ever have wished for."
And Prime Minister David Cameron said: "I grew up listening to and watching the pop genius David Bowie. He was a master of re-invention, who kept getting it right. A huge loss."


David Bowie was the Picasso of pop. He was an innovative, visionary, restless artist: the ultimate ever-changing postmodernist.
Along with the Beatles, Stones and Elvis Presley, Bowie defined what pop music could and should be. He brought art to the pop party, infusing his music and performances with the avant-garde ideas of Merce Cunningham, John Cage and Andy Warhol.
He turned pop in a new direction in 1972 with the introduction of his alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Glam rock was the starting point, but Ziggy was much more than an eyeliner-wearing maverick: he was a truly theatrical character that at once harked backed to pre-War European theatre while anticipating 1980s androgyny and today's discussions around a transgender spectrum.
He was a great singer, songwriter, performer, actor, producer and collaborator. But beyond all that, at the very heart of the matter, David Bowie was quite simply - quite extraordinarily - cool.


His last live performance was at a New York charity concert in 2006.
Blackstar, which includes just seven songs, has been well received by critics.
Bowie's breakthrough came with 1972's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars.


Today's news is all the more shocking because David Bowie had recently emerged from suspended animation - revitalised and reinvigorated.
His two last albums, The Next Day and Blackstar, ranked with his best, the former celebrating his past, the latter casting forward to the future. The fact he won't be there is heartbreaking.
But then Bowie's entire career has been a vanishing act. The son of a waitress and a nightclub owner, David Jones became David Bowie, who became Ziggy Stardust, who became Aladdin Sane, who became the Thin White Duke. All of them were fictitious. All of them became iconic.
In the 1970s, he was restless, flitting between musical styles and personas, producing Lou Reed and The Stooges, and taking up painting in Berlin. His every move sparked impersonators and inspired musical sub-genres. He was the first post-modern pop star.
He struggled to remain relevant in the 1980s and 90s, but continued to push boundaries with the industrial rock of Outside and the drum and bass influenced Earthling. An enforced hiatus, prompted by an emergency angioplasty, took him out of the spotlight for most of the 2000s before that celebrated, unexpected comeback on his 66th birthday.
That late period of creativity may now be reassessed as the work of a musician who knew his time was running out. But it remains a fitting legacy for a man who subverted and reinvented pop time and time again.

His hits include Let's Dance, Space Oddity, Starman, Modern Love, Heroes, Under Pressure, Rebel, Rebel and Life on Mars.
He was also well known for creating his flamboyant alter ego Ziggy Stardust.

He also carved out an acting career, including his role as an alien seeking help for his dying planet in Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1976.
He did a three-month stint as The Elephant Man on Broadway in the 1980s.

Bowie also starred in Marlene Dietrich's last film, Just a Gigolo (1978), and played Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ (1988).
Bowie was born David Jones in Brixton, south London, on 8 January in 1947. He changed his name in 1966 after The Monkees' Davy Jones achieved stardom.
He was in several bands before he signed with Mercury Records, which released his album Man of Words, Man of Music in 1969, which included Space Oddity, his first UK number one.

news today : With severe droughts and rising populations, we will have to accept “toilet-to-tap” schemes. Cities like Perth in Australia are leading the way.

news today :


It's been called "toilet-to-tap" – much to the chagrin of water experts and managers. In some parts of the world, the wastewater that flows down the drain – yes, including toilet flushes – is now being filtered and treated until it's as pure as spring water, if not more so.
It might not sound appealing, but recycled water is safe and tastes like any other drinking water, bottled or tap. "If anything, recycled wastewater is relatively sweet," says Anas Ghadouani, an environmental engineer at the University of Western Australia in Crawley.
Still, for some people, the prospect of drinking recycled wastewater is literally hard to swallow. But spurred by drought and growing populations, many cities are already incorporating recycled wastewater into the water supply. Not only is recycling becoming a necessity, a sustainable water future will demand it.
So if you aren't already drinking recycled wastewater, you soon will be. "It's a no-brainer," Ghadouani says. "It's what's going to happen."
Wastewater is much more than toilet water, of course. Think of all the water that goes down the drain every time you rinse an apple or hose off your car. That water is an untapped resource, and there's a lot of it. "It is cheaper; it is a guaranteed resource," says Peter Scales, a chemical engineer at the University of Melbourne in Australia. If an average city recycled all its wastewater, he says, it could reduce how much water it needed by 60%.
Recycling wastewater for irrigation and other non-drinkable uses is already commonplace. It’s actually the same technology used to treat drinking water supplies that have become contaminated – and it’s been around for years.

First, you have to filter out all of the solids and other gunk in the water. Then, in a process called reverse osmosis, you filter out the tiniest of particles. And as an extra precaution, the water is often flashed with ultraviolet light to sterilise pathogenic microbes. "We can supply water in a very pure state – purer than what they currently get out of reservoirs and rivers," Scales says.
But inevitably, there's a "yuck" factor. Recently, psychologist Paul Rozin of the University of Pennsylvania in the US and a team of researchers surveyed 2,000 Americans, finding that while 49% were willing to try recycled wastewater, 13% refused, and the rest weren't sure. For some people, no matter how much you tell them the water is safe to drink, the feeling of disgust is too much to overcome – even in the direst of situations.
Political problem
In 2006, for example, a drought-stricken city in eastern Australia named Toowoomba tried to implement wastewater recycling. But the effort was a political disaster, as 62% of voters rejected the plan in a referendum. "Water recycling is enormously powerful, but it's politically a real problem," says Scales.
Dwindling water supplies forced Toowoomba officials into a desperate situation, and they tried to introduce wastewater recycling without giving people time to get used to the idea, says Clare Lugar, a spokesperson for the Water Corporation, the water company for Perth and Western Australia – a region that's been experiencing drought for 15 years. The corporation has been integrating wastewater recycling into its own supply. But it's taking a lesson from Toowoomba and going slowly.
(Credit: Science Photo Library)
Desalination is energy-hungry, requiring enormous effort to create drinkable water (Credit: Science Photo Library)
Western Australia is already one of the driest places on Earth, and climate change has likely made it worse. "It's sort of a hotspot for drought," Ghadouani says. "That's what the models predicted, and that's exactly what's happening." Last year, for example, Perth's dams received only 72.4 billion litres of water – less than a third of what's needed.
To alleviate the drought, the Water Corporation turned to desalination in 2006, using offshore plants to convert salt water into fresh. Desalination is expensive, but effective. Today, desalination accounts for 39% of the region's water supply. Groundwater provides 43%, and reservoirs supply the rest. But with continuing drought and an increasing population, recycled wastewater would provide extra security at less cost.
Eventually, recycled wastewater could provide 20% of Perth's water supply
The corporation is modelling its approach on what Orange County, California, is doing: pumping recycled wastewater into aquifers to replenish the ground supply. The aquifers provide free storage, which would otherwise be expensive, and act as a psychological buffer to minimise the "yuck" factor. Even though the water is already drinkable, some people feel the water gets naturally purified through the ground.
In 2012, Water Corporation finished a three-year trial in which it recycled millions of litres of water and tried to change hearts and minds about the process. It built a visitor's centre and representatives gave tours of the water recycling plant and spoke to various local government, community, and Aboriginal groups. This grassroots approach appears to be working, as surveys consistently show 70% support. "Our success has been more about the community engagement and getting that right," Lugar says.
They're now ramping up their capabilities, having recycled 10 billion litres in Perth from 2013 to 2014. Next year, the Water Corporation will unveil a full-scale plant that can routinely recycle 14 billion litres of water annually, and up to 28 billion if needed. Eventually, recycled wastewater could provide 20% of Perth's water supply.
Riches of rain

The combination of recycling, desalination, and – perhaps most importantly – conservation is helping to make Perth drought-proof. "We've become a case study internationally for other countries in terms of how we've managed our response to the drying climate," Lugar says.
That kind of multi-faceted approach is crucial. For example, Scales says, another untapped water source is rain, and if you recycle wastewater and collect all the storm-water that drains into the gutter, you could provide water for an entire city.
(Credit: Science Photo Library)
As populations increase, more cities may need to look at putting wastewater back into the taps (Credit: Science Photo Library)
But making people comfortable with recycling and building the infrastructure to collect storm-water would take years or even decades. "Trying to do augmentation from something like wastewater or storm-water in the middle of a drought is not going to get you there," he says. "You need to actually do it across a period of time where the population assimilates to it. And then they just use it."
Places like Singapore, Belgium, Windhoek in Namibia, and Wichita Falls in Texas have all begun recycling wastewater. Eventually, due to growing populations, so must the rest of the world – regardless of drought or climate change. "There's no choice," Scales says.
Treating contaminated water uses the same process as recycling wastewater
In most of the world's largest cities, such as the metropolises of Asia and South America, the lack of drinkable tap water leads to diseases. "It's because their surface water supplies are contaminated

newsela : North Korea nuclear H-bomb claims met by scepticism

newsela :

International scepticism and condemnation have greeted North Korea's claim to have successfully carried out an underground hydrogen bomb test.
If confirmed, it would be North Korea's fourth nuclear test since 2006 and mark a major upgrade in its capabilities.
But nuclear experts have questioned whether the size of the blast was large enough to have been from an H-bomb.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the test "unequivocally", calling it "profoundly destabilising for regional security".
The UN Security Council is gathering now for an emergency meeting.
  • Follow our live coverage here
  • What we know so far
  • How to stage an underground test
  • Leaders condemn reports of hydrogen bomb test
  • Pyongyang's nuclear tests
South Korea called the test a "grave provocation" but said it was difficult to believe it was an H-bomb.
Hydrogen bombs are more powerful and technologically advanced than atomic weapons, using fusion - the merging of atoms - to unleash massive amounts of energy.
Atomic bombs, like the kind that devastated two Japanese cities in World War Two, use fission, or the splitting of atoms.
Bruce Bennett, an analyst with the Rand Corporation, was among those casting doubts on Pyongyang's test: "The bang they should have gotten would have been 10 times greater than what they're claiming.

"So Kim Jong-un is either lying, saying they did a hydrogen test when they didn't, they just used a little bit more efficient fission weapon - or the hydrogen part of the test really didn't work very well or the fission part didn't work very well."
The data "doesn't support suggestions that the bomb was a hydrogen bomb", Chinese military expert Du Wenlong told state broadcaster CCTV.
A South Korean politician, Lee Cheol-woo, said he was briefed by the country's intelligence agency that the blast "probably falls short" of a hydrogen detonation.

But former British ambassador in Pyongyang John Everard warned "an explosion of that size is quite enough to wipe out a city and I think that, of course, is deeply worrying".
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, said further analysis was needed to determine the nature of the test, while calling it "a strong challenge to international peace and stability". In other reaction:
  • China, North Korea's main ally, said it "firmly opposes" the test
  • Japan called it a "major threat" to its national security
  • The US said it would "respond appropriately to any and all North Korean provocations"
  • Russia warned the action could amount to "a severe violation of international law", calling for the resumption of talks
  • The EU urged North Korea "cease this illegal and dangerous behaviour''
  • Nato said North Korea should abandon nuclear weapons
Heading into the UN meeting, Mr Ban said the test was "deeply troubling and "a grave contravention of international norms".
The UK ambassador to the UN, Matthew Rycroft, said: "We will be working with others on a resolution on further sanctions."

The rhetoric from the North Korean media was spectacular, announcing the country had carried out a "world startling event" - the underground test of a hydrogen bomb.
"People of the DPRK are making a giant stride, performing eye-catching miracles and exploits day by day," state media said.
That North Korea is still living with its predictable 1950s post-Korean War world view, where the US is the prime aggressor, was made clear too.
"The US is a gang of cruel robbers which has worked hard to bring even a nuclear disaster to the DPRK."
But despite the rhetoric, outside experts are sceptical about how much of a giant stride had been made.
What is not in doubt is the determination of Pyongyang to go down the nuclear path despite widespread condemnation the last time it tested a device.
North Korea's dramatic rhetoric

Suspicions first emerged when an earthquake was registered near the Punggye-ri nuclear site in North Korea at 10:00 Pyongyang time (01:30 GMT), with the tremors rattling Chinese border cities.
Hours later, in a surprise announcement, a newsreader on North Korean state TV said: "The republic's first hydrogen bomb test has been successfully performed at 10:00 am on January 6, 2016."
A note signed by North Korea leader Kim Jong-un authorising the test said 2016 should begin with the "stirring explosive sound" of a hydrogen bomb.
It could be days or weeks before independent tests are able to verify or dismiss the recent claim.
Both China and Japan are reported to have been trying to detect radiation.
North Korea carried out the first of its three previous nuclear tests in 2006, making it one of the few nuclear-armed nations on Earth.

Can North Korea now launch a nuclear missile?

Despite North Korea's claims, experts are sceptical that North Korea can make a nuclear weapon small enough to fit on a missile.

What do we know about the latest test?

Observers agree a nuclear explosion of some kind took place and it seems to have been a bit bigger than the last test in 2013, but not nearly big enough to be a full thermonuclear explosion - an "H-bomb" - as Pyongyang claims.

Why can't the world stop North Korea?

North Korea has a determination to defy both world opinion and heavy sanctions to reach its nuclear goal. Crucially, its main ally, China, has proved either unwilling or unable to help.

 
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