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Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing conservative bloc has raised the possibility of a ban on face veils in schools and universities and while driving.
www.nytimes.com | 8/19/16
Researchers at the University Hospital of Bonn in Germany had been looking into the origins of MERS when they made the discovery.
The Technical University of Dortmund, Germany, says the answer may lie in gender conditioning. Females are expected to be emotional and males are taught to be competitive.



Rumor has it, a Nazi train loaded with looted gems and treasure vanished en-route to Berlin in southwestern Poland at the end of the Second World War, though many experts dispute its existence. In the midst of international speculation and intrigue, two explorers are literally digging their way to the truth.


Piotr Koper of Poland and Andreas Richter of Germany believe the mysterious train was hidden from the Soviet Red Army in a secret tunnel constructed by Nazis near the Polish city of Walbrzych. Soil anomalies detected in the area with radar equipment last year indicate its presence, they claim.


Geological experts from Krakow’s AGH University of Science and Technology found no evidence of the train when searching with magnetic equipment, the Associated Press reports, but their findings did conclude that there may in fact be a tunnel located at the site of Koper and Richter’s privately-funded excavation.



The pair began the treasure hunt on Tuesday with a team of researchers and volunteers, despite warnings that it could be a pointless mission. 


“There may be a tunnel. There is no train,” said Prof. Janusz Madej of the university in Krakow, who was involved in the study.


In contrast to Madej’s assertion, search committee spokesperson Andrzej Gaik said Tuesday that if the tunnel exists, “there should be a train there.”


“The train is not a needle in the haystack; if there is one, we will find it,” he added. “It’s so exciting and we count on success.”


While skeptics believe the latest search efforts are a waste of time, Polish media have reported that up to 300 tons of gold could be aboard the train, the Washington Post notes.


Koper and Richter believe the dig will take less than two weeks, meaning an end to the decades-long mystery could be in sight.

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Egyptian judo athlete Islam El Shehaby was sent packing from the Rio Olympics after refusing to shake hands with his Israeli opponent, Ori Sasson, following their match on Friday, the International Olympic Committee said.

The IOC told the Associated Press Monday that El Shehaby received a “severe reprimand.”

Sasson defeated El Shehaby with two throws for an automatic victory. But instead of standing up and bowing per the sport’s custom, El Shehaby seemed to linger. When he finally did get up, he refused Sasson’s offer to shake hands — a big no-no in judo.

Also Read: Olympics: Egyptian Judoka Under Investigation After Snubbing Israeli Opponent (Video)

The crowd was clearly not pleased with El Shehaby’s apparent lack of sportsmanship, loudly jeering the Egyptian athlete.

El Shehaby’s refusal to abide by the rules of the sport made headlines around the world, underscoring the fragile peace treaty between the two countries, which was signed in 1979.

According to the International Judo Federation’s website, “Of the many rituals that are a part of judo, perhaps none is clearer and poignant than the bow.” The IJF site goes on to explain that bowing is “a signal of respect. Judo students bow when entering and leaving the dojo.”

Also Read: Daily Beast Pulls Grindr-Baiting Reporter From Rio, Olympic Committee Says

The incident inevitably made headlines in Israel. Mako, one the country’s leading news sites, reported that El Shehaby has decided to retire from judo following his loss.

El Shehaby had been under intense pressure from Islamists in Egypt to drop out of the Rio Summer Olympics altogether. The day before the fight, a TV host in the country’s Islamist network, Al-Sharq, called on El Shehaby to withdraw from the Rio Games or be branded a traitor.

“My son watch out, don’t be fooled, or fool yourself thinking you will play with the Israeli athlete to defeat him and make Egypt happy,” he said. “Egypt will cry; Egypt will be sad and you will be seen as a traitor and a normalizer in the eyes of your people.”

Also Read: Ryan Lochte, 3 Other US Swimmers Robbed at Gunpoint in Rio

This isn’t the first time that an incident like this has happened.

In 2012, Egyptian judoka Ramadan Darwish refused to shake hands with Arik Zeevi, his Israeli rival, after the Judo Grand Prix in Dusseldorf quarterfinals in Germany. An Egyptian website called him a “national hero.”

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace accord with Israel after five wars in three decades.

You can watch El Shehaby’s actions in the video below.

Olympics 2016: Team USA Gold Medal Tracker (Videos)
  • Team USA is once again expected to contend for the top spot in the medal count at this year's Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. Here are the athletes that have claimed the gold medal so far.
  • Virginia Thrasher, Women's 10m Air Rifle -- The 19-year-old engineering major at West Virginia University dreamed of being a figure skater, but found her path to Olympic gold through a rifle instead. She surprised everyone by beating out Chinese shooters Du Li and Yi Siling, who have won the gold in this event in past Olympics.
  • Katie Ledecky, Women's 400m Freestyle -- Ledecky's quest to go four-for-four in her swimming events got off to a flying start on Sunday, when she smashed her own world record time and beat the rest of the field by five seconds.
  • Caeleb Dressel, Michael Phelps, Ryan Held and Nathan Adrian, Men's 4x100 Freestyle Relay -- For all his success, Michael Phelps regretted coming second in the freestyle relay to France at the London Olympics in 2012. This time was different, as Phelps used his powerful kick to give Team USA a lead that they would never give up.
  • Ryan Murphy, Men's 100m Backstroke -- With Murphy's record-setting victory at 51.97 seconds, Team USA has won the gold in this event in six consecutive Olympics. Murphy was joined on the podium by teammate David Plummer, who took bronze.
  • Lilly King, Women's 100m Breaststroke -- King made headlines when she called out Russian rival Yulia Efimova, who was initially among those banned from competing during the Russian doping scandal but was later cleared to compete by the International Olympic Committee. King backed up her words by setting a new Olympic record in the event with a time of 1:04.93. Efimova took silver and American Katie Meili took bronze.
  • Katie Ledecky, Women's 200m Freestyle -- Swedish sprint swimmer Sarah Sjostrom was neck and neck with Ledecky through the entire race, but Ledecky managed to stave her off and win gold #2 by 0.35 seconds.
  • Michael Phelps, Men's 200m Butterfly -- Much was made by the media about the rivalry between Phelps and South Africa's Chad Le Clos, who beat Phelps in London. But the biggest threat was Japan's Masato Sakai, whom Phelps edged out by just four hundredths of a second to win his 20th Olympic gold.
  • Conor Dwyer, Townley Haas, Ryan Lochte, and Michael Phelps, Men's 4x200 Freestyle Relay -- Team USA has now won the gold in this event in the last four Olympics, with Lochte and Phelps as members of every winning team.
  • Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, and Madison Kocian; Women's Team Gymnastics -- In London, there was the Fierce Five. In Rio, there was the Final Five, named in honor of being the last team coached by legendary gymnastics guru Marta Karolyi. Indeed, the U.S. women gave their coach a sendoff for the ages, winning the gold by a whopping 8.2 points.
  • Kristin Armstrong -- Women's Cycling Time Trial -- Though the roads of Rio were slick with rainwater, Armstrong prevailed in the "Race of Truth" to become the oldest American woman to win an individual gold medal with a victory a day prior to her 43rd birthday.
  • Allison Schmidt, Leah Smith, Maya DiRado, and Katie Ledecky; Women's 4x200 Freestyle Relay -- Team USA was just under a second out of the lead when Ledecky entered the pool as the team's anchor, but once she was in, Ledecky pulled out to a firm lead to win USA Swimming's eighth gold of these Olympics.
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Here’s every American victory at the Rio Olympics

Team USA is once again expected to contend for the top spot in the medal count at this year's Olympics in Rio De Janeiro. Here are the athletes that have claimed the gold medal so far.
Related stories from TheWrap:

Leslie Jones Makes Her On-Air Rio Olympics Debut Tonight

Rio Olympics: Synchronized Swimmers Won't Compete in Green Pools

Russia's Only Track and Field Athlete Suspended From Rio Olympics

www.thewrap.com | 8/16/16

Curious George is one of the most recognizable characters in literary history. Children far and wide grew up getting to know the playful monkey, perpetually embroiled in mischief. But those same kids who enjoyed the never-ending antics of a banana-loving protagonist were probably less familiar with the other name emblazoned on the Curious George books: H. A. Rey.


The initials stand for Hans Augusto. But they represent only one half of the duo that actually brought George to life. Margret Rey, Hans’ wife, was equally responsible for the seven books that make up the original Curious George series. Hans was in charge of illustrations, Margret the writing; both helped generate the many ideas and plot points that amounted to stories like Curious George Takes a Job and Curious George Flies a Kite.



A new documentary raising funds on Kickstarter aims to bring the details of Hans and Margret’s relationship to light. “Monkey Business: The Curious Adventures of George’s Creators” hopes fans of George will be fans of the late Hans and Margret, too. And a brief dive into their lives proves the wife-husband team has a history well worth learning about. 


According to Louise Borden, author of The Journey That Saved Curious George, the Reys were both born in Germany to Jewish families. They began dating while Hans was traveling through Brazil. They married in 1935 and moved to France shortly after. However, they were forced to leave their then-home of Paris in June of 1940, along with five million others fleeing encroaching Nazi forces. So the story goes, Hans and Margret left the city on bicycles they built from spare parts, eventually making their way to a ship that brought them to the United States. Once there, they settled in New York City ― a curious manuscript in tow.



At that point, George was not exactly new. Though his books were first published in the U.S. in 1941 under the enduring title Curious George, the monkey himself is technically French. And originally named Fifi (Zozo in England). Fifi began as a simple cartoon Hans sketched, but ballooned into a full-fledged character when a French publisher suggested he turn it into a children’s book. Margret and Hans based most of George’s adventures on their own lives as children and adults.


Over the next 25 years, the monkey’s ascent to children’s literary fame as “George” would come to represent one of the most inspiring stories of immigrant success. Over 30 million copies of the Curious George books have been sold worldwide since, published in 16 different languages. What many consider to be a staple of American children’s literature is actually an international phenomenon born of migration and survival.





“Monkey Business” filmmaker Ema Ryan Yamazaki ― who grew up reading the Reys’ books in Japan ― is “obsessed” with Curious George. During research for her documentary, she visited the University of Southern Mississippi, making her way through the 300 boxes of archival materials that make up the Rey collection there. From wartime journals, personal photos, unpublished George artwork, and correspondence, she sifted through the preserved items, searching for the real story behind the H.A. Rey name. The real story behind George.


“As someone that was impacted by Curious George during my childhood, I’ve seen that it’s not just me who feels this connection to him, but the world,” Yamazaki explained in an interview with The Creator’s Project. “And not just children ― George has had an impact on multiple generations. He’s been around for 75 years, something about this monkey has transcended cultures and time to mold our childhood.”



Lay Lee Ong, literary executor of the Rey estate, has professed support for Yamazaki’s film, as have a number of other Curious George–related experts. (For the record, so has famed documentarian Alex Gibney.) Yamazaki hopes her Kickstarter campaign will help pay for the intensive animation featured in the film and the work of lead animator Jacob Kafka, among other things.


Check out more of the Reys’ story on Kickstarter. If Yamazaki raises her intended $175,000, fans of Curious George will have a lot to look forward to.



Hit Backspace for a regular dose of pop culture nostalgia.

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While the US, Australia, Canada are the man destinations for Indians, newer ones like Germany, NZ, Ireland, France and China stand to gain.

Despite a recent tourism-motivated decline in joblessness, millions of Spaniards have struggled to find employment in the past few years, with only Greece having more people out of work in the EU. Though the country’s economy is slowly recovering, officials maintain that the unemployment rate will likely stay in the 15 percent range until 2019.


Tens of thousands of Spanish citizens are now heading to countries such as Britain, France, Germany, the United States and Ecuador looking for better work opportunities.


In 2015 alone, close to 100,000 Spaniards left Spain, the highest figure since the crisis started in 2008. According to the National Statistics Institute, the number shows a 23 percent rise from the year before.


The statistics released by the institute also show that there’s an increase in the number of Spaniards returning to the country after stints abroad; 52, 227 people returned to Spain in 2015, which is a 27.5 percent rise from 2014.


HuffPost Spain spoke with five Spaniards who have struggled to find stable jobs over the past few years and who have been forced to tread the tricky and often painful road of emigration.


Ivan Escalante, 30. Works in Slovakia. 



Ivan Escalante, who is from the northwestern city of Valladolid, published a blog post on HuffPost Spain in March 2013 titled “Me Against Six Million Unemployed,” in which he shared the details of his frustrating job search.


He had studied engineering, learnt two languages and completed a few internships ― but his efforts didn’t land him a job.


“Some day it will all come in handy,” he had said hopefully. He mentioned that many of his friends had found work abroad. “I would prefer not knowing which continent I will be living in a month or a week from today, and that a year from now, my life may have completely changed,” he wrote in 2013.


Three years later, Escalante has not changed continents, but he has changed countries. After a series of temporary contracts, he recently landed a full-time position in his field in Kosice, the second most prominent city in Slovakia.


He doesn’t see himself returning to Spain except in the event of “a miracle.” Still, he misses “those little things that you only value when you don’t have them,” he says, such as the conversations he would have with his family after dinner.


“I would like for Spain to be a country in which it would be possible to carve out a future, make plans. ... In short, a place where you could live and not just survive. And I don’t see that happening in the short term,” he says.


For him, the main difference between the labor markets in both countries is that in Slovakia, “it’s normal to have an indefinite contract,” he says. “My colleagues can make long-term plans, buy a house, have children. ...In Spain, that’s impossible.”


Irene Ruperez, 28. Job-searching in Spain.



In October 2012, Irene Ruperez bought a ticket to Berlin. She had graduated with an undergraduate degree in labor relations and journalism and a Master’s in sports journalism and communication, but was finding it really difficult to secure a job in her home country.


“I’m kind of running away from the Spanish reality, from the government, and from the disastrous situation that Spain is going through,” she told HuffPost Spain in 2012.


Her adventure in Germany, which she describes as “marvelous,” lasted seven short months. But “even though the country is a disaster,” Ruperez says, she felt that it was “impossible” not to miss Spain.


In Berlin, she took German language classes, and made some money babysitting for Spanish families. “I also had an interview with eDarling, the dating website, for a position on their office communications team,” she tells HuffPost Spain.  


But Ruperez ended up moving back home for a journalism job in Madrid. After three years with the Asturias TV channel, she briefly joined public television station Telemadrid, but she lost that job.


Despite being unemployed once again, she says she would not resort to emigrating for a second time.


“To people who are thinking about leaving, I would say that it’s not marvelous, that you don’t arrive and live in an apartment like the one in [the TV show] ‘Friends,’ go out every day and pick up the language right away,” she says.


“To go is to have a difficult time, miss your family, your friends, your way of life. It’s a battle to find a house, do hundreds of interviews just to be able to have a room to sleep in.”


Guiomar Duarte, 32. Works in Paris.



In a viral blog post published in 2012, titled “’My Daughter Emigrated Yesterday,” Carlos M. Duarte explained that his daughter, Guiomar, had “emigrated in search of a future that she hasn’t been able to find in her country, and that society, or her parents, have not known how to give her.”


He expressed that it was “extraordinarily frustrating for a father to see his children leave,” but that it was also difficult to support them.


Guiomar Duarte, who studied advertising and public relations, currently works in Paris, where she organizes scientific events and manages web content for the French National Center for Scientific Research.


She says that she originally left Spain for Australia, with a vision to escape the crisis. “I went there because I knew that it would have more, and better, job opportunities. And after a few months, I found work in my area,” she explains.


In 2014, she returned to Spain where, thanks to her experience abroad, she found a job within a few months. A romantic relationship eventually led her to France, and she says that’s where she wants to be for the time being.


“At some point, I would like to return to Spain, but not yet. My impression is that there is starting to be more work and that things are a little better than they were when I left in 2012,” she notes.


Blanca Espigares, 39. Preparing to emigrate from Spain.



Despite declaring in a 2012 blog post that she was ready to emigrate, architecture researcher Blanca Espigares has been living in Spain for the past few years, and like many others, has been struggling to find work.  


“I have tried to survive with shit contracts, few jobs and projects that end up falling through ... until I realized that I’m being foolish,” Espigares tells HuffPost Spain.


She’s been actively looking for job opportunities abroad over the past couple of months, and she expects to take a teaching or research job in the fall.  


“I’m leaving because of my dignity. When another university contacts you, you can tell that they look at your resume with different eyes. Suddenly you feel that you have value,” Espigares says. “There is a radical difference between the way you are treated abroad and the way you’re treated here.”


To her, emigration does not feel that tragic. “I’m living through a lot of drama here, trying to pay rent, asking my parents for 200 euros at the end of each month just to be able to buy food,” she says.


Alberto Perez, 56. Unemployed and living in Spain.


Alberto Perez (who didn’t want his identity to be known and whose name has been changed upon his request), left for London with his wife a few years ago after feeling that he did not have a “present or a future” in Spain.


In the British capital, he worked for a cleaning company as a deliveryman and as a programmer. But when he lost his job, he could not afford to pay rent and stay in London.


Right now, he feels that returning to Spain was a mistake; in one week, he receives as many calls from employers in the U.K. as he has over the past seven months in Spain, he says.


Perez believes that while emigration should be made a “mandatory” experience, it wasn’t easy. His biggest problem, he says, was with the language: “I’m too hopeless or too old to learn English fluently.”


This post originally appeared on HuffPost Spain, and has been translated into English. 

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

By Lisa Rapaport (Reuters Health) - The brain makes less dopamine, a chemical involved in both pleasure and addiction, when people smoke but this temporary deficit may be reversed when smokers kick the habit, a small experiment suggests. “It is assumed that the brain adapts to the repeated nicotine-induced release of dopamine by producing less dopamine,” said lead study author Dr. Lena Rademacher of Lubeck University in Germany. It’s still not clear if dopamine production reduced by long-term smoking bounces back in ex-smokers, so the researchers did brain scans of 15 never-smokers and 30 smokers.
news.yahoo.com | 8/10/16
By Kathryn Doyle (Reuters Health) - People with sleep disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia or restless leg syndrome may have a poorer recovery after a stroke and higher risk of a second stroke, according to a review of existing research. The authors recommend screening for these sleep disorders among people who have had a stroke or mini-stroke. “We have been aware in neurology for a couple of years already that breathing disturbances are a risk factor for stroke,” said coauthor Dr. Dirk M. Hermann of University Hospital Essen in Essen, Germany.
news.yahoo.com | 8/10/16

The scientist, psychologist and linguist Steven Pinker recently spoke with the Berggruen Institute’s Alex Gorlach at Harvard University, where Pinker teaches in the department of psychology. He is most well-known for his 2011 book The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. His forthcoming book is on “the new enlightenment.” In the following interview, Pinker discusses how global violence continues to fall despite the recent wave of terror attacks and mass shootings.  


You have argued that overall violence is on a downward trend, despite recent high-profile terrorist events and mass shootings. What, or who, is responsible for the decrease?


To start with, there are factors such as globalization –- countries are more enmeshed, so their welfare is directly impacted by the welfare of another state. The incentives for conquest and invasion have been outnumbered by the incentives to make business -– what that means is that a person alive is worth more to me than a dead one, or buying a good is easier than stealing one. 



'A shift in the summum bonum, or the highest good, towards loose humanism, where life is better than death, education better than ignorance, health better than sickness, is what I believe we are seeing currently.'



Another factor is the change in value systems. Wars were fought over religion, over nationalism, over what script systems to use. Now, each country has their own land and their own language. Also, there has been a global trend toward humanism, where the ultimate goal is achieving health for women and children.


When I say global though, it does not mean that it has taken over the entire planet. Since we are tribal creatures, there is always a temptation to backslide. Comparing the two halves of the 20th century, though, shows you that there is a clear trend toward humanism –- why else would we have strived so energetically towards signing a Universal Declaration of Human Rights? And the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals or all those state programs that seek to protect and support human life as the ultimate good? 


Another contributor to the decline of international violence has been a changing set of norms in institutions. The United Nations and NATO, the African Union and European Union emit soft power, they communicate a certain level of expectation. These norms are toothless -– whether that’s good or bad is a different question -– but they serve as a restraining force. These norms include that you don’t change borders by force anymore and you don’t conquer other countries. This, of course, isn’t always followed, as we have seen with the annexation of Crimea by Russia. But by and large this has been a great contributor to a more peaceful coexistence amongst nations.





Even Russian President Vladimir Putin will not admit that he violated these norms because it is one of the core principals of the post-World War II world. He insists residents of Crimea voted to join Russia voluntarily.


Yes -– there is the fiction of Putin satisfying the will of the Crimean people. That the rest of the industrialized world teamed up to condemn Russia’s actions and impose sanctions shows you that the norm is still in existence, even though it may not always be observed. But we need to remember that when we talk about the decline of international violence, the extent is threefold. We have wars, but there is also ordinary crime and institutional violence. If you don’t live in a war zone, it is far more likely that you will be killed by homicide than through any other way. So, all discussion about violence must keep ordinary crime in mind. Here, there has also been a crass decline -– the rate of crimes committed has dropped significantly ever since the Middle Ages, saw a spark again around the 1960s, but since 1990 has been dropping and dropping. The third area is institutionalized violence –- corporal punishment, capital punishment, the criminalization of homosexuality, just to name a few examples. In the West, this has declined significantly.


Let me go back to the point of trading and the related drop in incentives to commit crime against others – a very utilitarian point. Can we only have peace if we maintain trade? In other words, would it be possible to have peace for peace’s sake, simply because it is the moral thing to do? This was Immanuel Kant’s in his famous book, Perpetual Peace.



'In terms of everyday terrorism, the harm is the reaction.'



Ironically, Kant’s writing was very utilitarian. He said that if trade exists between two countries, it is less likely that they will attack each other. His embrace on republicanism -– or arguably democracy nowadays -– was also utilitarian. It would keep the peace.


There is a difference, though, between the historical and the actual question. I look into why the rate of violence has dropped, and the moral question -– what values ought we teach people to live by? Certainly, I agree with the principles, but it may be a bit unrealistic to think that every person on this Earth abides by a value such as that every life is equally sacrosanct. Looking back to explain to what we can attribute our increasingly humane development, part of it is the utilitarian calculation –- if there is incentive, regardless of morals, to stop fighting, then so be it.


But what we are witnessing is more than that. A shift in the summum bonum, or the highest good, towards loose humanism, where life is better than death, education better than ignorance, health better than sickness, is what I believe we are seeing currently. 



Do you think this process is reversible, though? Are we experiencing a golden age and have dark years ahead, or are these standards and values here for good?


The honest answer is: I don’t know. Threats [from groups] such as Boko Haram and the [self-proclaimed] Islamic State can [be], and they are, exaggerated. The human toll of civil war has increased over the past year, but it is merely taking us back to the casualty count of the year 2000. The progress we made in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s has not been wiped out, and although there have [b]een threats to democracy, democratization has not been wiped out as such.


The civil wars we see are mainly in an area that spans from western Sub-Saharan Africa to Pakistan. Of course the standards we have set are reversible – diseases can come back, religion can, and has already, led back to war. What we need to do is figure out how to best deal with them, and have confidence that given the progress we have made, further progress is possible.



'If people think that the only way to say the truth is to be Donald Trump or Marine Le Pen, that is a dangerous temptation.'



If you are in Syria right now, it does you no good to know that the overall number of civil wars has gone down. And, could one single act – for example 9/11 – unravel and maybe even topple this model?


Firstly, the experience of violence to an individual is irrelevant to policymaking. If we were to go down that path, we could deny global warming just because it is cold out today. But what effect does this have on third party observers?


It has been proven that we are asymmetrically influenced by singular events. This has been exploited by terrorists ― terrorism being the cause of death is very unlikely in anyone’s life. However, due to the publicity that terrorist attacks generate, it seems completely rational to be afraid of a terrorist attack when in reality we should not be. It is a mistake to allow terrorism to dominate foreign policy on a global agenda. In terms of everyday terrorism, the harm is the reaction. Keep in mind that 97 percent of all terrorist agendas end in failure, so it isn’t even a successful mode of achievement.



How do you see conflicts arising in Europe as a result of the increasing Muslim population?


We have seen that if centrist parties pretend like there is no problem -– as the coalition government in Germany has done to some extent -– they are implicitly creating a space that gives right-wing parties the opportunity to increase their votes. There are risks of lack of assimilation, misogyny, potentially a higher risk of terrorism. If centrist parties don’t openly state that, someone else will and thus will attract voters. The hegemony of politically correct views in major political fora has come back to bite us all. If people think that the only way to say the truth is to be Donald Trump or Marine Le Pen, that is a dangerous temptation.


Isn’t there a difference between Europe and the U.S.? Europe today is still shaped by the “tribal” influence of religion and nation, divided by borders drawn centuries ago. America is one nation with a history of religious tolerance.


Yes, it is one of the differences. Partially, that’s why I believe there is so much less radical Islamization in the United States -– it’s easier to become an American than it is to become a Spaniard, a Frenchman or a German.



'We need to keep in mind that generalization, especially in the context of Islam, is very dangerous.'



One of the arguments of the right in Europe is that Islam is not peaceful and not compatible with the Western way of life. At the same time, you mentioned that the majority of conflicts still happen between West Africa and Pakistan, an area that has almost exclusively Muslim countries. Are you saying that Muslim countries are more prone to violence than in the world of Christian heritage.


It is estimated that most wars today have radical Islamist forces on one side. It is not so much that the rate of war in the Islamic world has gone up, but the rate of war in every corner of the world has gone down apart from in the Islamic world.


Historically, there has been an awful conquest of Christian nations –- the British, Spanish, French, Germans and so on, so making an argument of that is difficult keeping in mind the atrocities committed by, say, [those in] the Crusades. Though one can argue that many of the beneficial trends over the past century have not yet penetrated the Islamic world.



We need to keep in mind that generalization, especially in the context of Islam, is very dangerous. Look at countries such as Malaysia or Indonesia. They are democracies to some extent, are peaceful and do not have any kinds of problems that Syria or Mali are dealing with currently.


Furthermore, the combination of dogma and identity claims intensify any conflict because they foster an unwillingness to compromise. Also, jihad in the way radical Islamists cast it sees death merely as a transition to an even better life. So, during conflicts, fighters act in a completely different way than in any other conflict where earthly interests matter. I agree that wars aren’t purely religious, but religious views within a conflict don’t help contain a conflict, and never have.


This interview has been edited for clarity and appeared in a slightly different form in The European.

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By Lisa Rapaport (Reuters Health) - Many websites marketing unproven stem cell therapies directly to consumers are popping up even in developed nations where laws have been passed to protect patients from false medical advertising, a new study suggests. Ireland, Singapore, Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.S. have the highest per capita number of clinics engaging in direct-to-consumer marketing of stem cell therapies, according to the study published in Cell Stem Cell. “The direct-to-consumer marketing of stem cells especially for aging and skin rejuvenation is a multi-billion dollar industry so it’s attracting many dubious claims,” said senior study author Dr. John Rasko of the University of Sydney.
news.yahoo.com | 8/8/16

Afghan authorities are searching for an Australian and an American who were kidnapped by gunmen in the capital, Kabul, officials said on Monday.


The pair, believed to be affiliated with a Kabul university, was taken by four or five gunmen from a nearby road late on Sunday, said an official with the Ministry of Interior who spoke on condition of anonymity.


It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the abduction.


The Australian Embassy in Kabul confirmed one of its citizens had apparently been abducted but said it would not comment further due to privacy and safety considerations.


“We continue to advise Australians not to travel to Afghanistan because of the extremely dangerous security situation, including the serious threat of kidnapping,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.


The U.S. State Department said in a statement it was aware of reports an American had been kidnapped but had no other information to offer.


Kidnapping is a major problem in Afghanistan with Afghans the most affected, although a number of foreigners have also been abducted in recent years.


An Indian aid worker was abducted in Kabul in June and released the following month.


At least two other foreigners, from Germany and the Netherlands, were taken from the same neighborhood in separate incidents last year.


Those two foreigners, both of them women, were eventually released unharmed, with police saying the kidnappings were most likely motivated by money.


In June, police began advising foreigners living in the capital that they should travel with guards or avoid leaving their homes.

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Muslim women in France are getting their own burkini pride day.


A community group near Marseille has booked out a water park exclusively for Muslim women wearing the all-over swimming garment. The organizers, called Smile13, are hosting the event to “encourage women to join in with the community.”


Women interested in attending the so-called burkini day at Speedwater Park on the Sept. 17 are not allowed to turn up in a two-piece swimsuit and “must be covered from the chest to the knees.” While no men are allowed to attend the event, participants can bring boys under the age of 10 to take part. There will be male lifeguards at Speedwater Park.


The burkini day at Speedwater Park has already annoyed some people. Valerie Boyer, mayor of two Marseille districts who has championed persecuted Christians in Iraq (a cause marked by the arabic letter ن), took to Twitter to condemn the event, tweeting: “Sectarian claims in a water park: To say nothing and do nothing, is to become an accomplice!”



Revendications communautaires dans un parc aquatique : ne rien dire et ne rien faire, c'est devenir complice ! pic.twitter.com/dl9f41B38y

— Valérie Boyer ن (@valerieboyer13) August 3, 2016



The far-right Front National also slammed the event. Echoing Boyer, Stephane Ravier, a mayor of two other Marseille districts, told BBC News:



This Islamist day demonstrates that, outside of the comforting words of Muslim authorities, a certain number of Muslims are deciding among themselves to break away from our Republican model and put themselves outside our society.



France has one the largest Muslim populations among European Union member states (second now only to Germany). In 2004, the government sparked controversy after passing a law that prevented students in state-run schools from displaying any form of religious symbols, including veils, Jewish skullcaps, and crosses. In 2011, France went a step further, banning people from concealing their face, which includes not only the burqa and niqab, but also masks or balaclava.


Boyer, from the center-right group Les Republicains group, described the “veil fight” as the “most visible expression” of fundamentalists marking their territory. “Burqa, chador, abaja, nijab, hijab, doesn’t matter the name, they represent a confinement for a gender, a negation of the person, a prohibition of freedom a prohibition of equality and a prohibition of fraternity,” she said in a statement.


This article originally appeared on Quartz.

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Biologists on the hunt for new medicines to fight a growing epidemic of drug resistance said Wednesday they found an antibiotic in an unexpected place -- the human nose. The promising compound is produced by a nose-dwelling bacterium, and is able to kill a disease-causing, antibiotic-resistant superbug, they reported. "It was completely unexpected to find a human-associated bacterium to produce a real antibiotic," said study co-author Andreas Peschel of the University of Tubingen in Germany.


news.yahoo.com | 7/28/16
By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists in Germany have discovered a bacteria hiding out in peoples' noses that produces an antibiotic compound that can kill several dangerous pathogens, including the superbug MRSA. The early-stage finding, reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday, could one day lead to a whole new class of antibiotic medicines being developed to fight drug-resistant bacterial infections, the researchers said. As well as being a focal point for many viral infections, the nasal cavity is also a rich ecosystem of 50 or so different species of bacteria, lead researcher Andreas Peschel of the University of Tuebingen told reporters in a telephone briefing.
news.yahoo.com | 7/27/16
By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists in Germany have discovered a bacteria hiding out in peoples' noses that produces an antibiotic compound that can kill several dangerous pathogens, including the superbug MRSA. The early-stage finding, reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday, could one day lead to a whole new class of antibiotic medicines being developed to fight drug-resistant bacterial infections, the researchers said. As well as being a focal point for many viral infections, the nasal cavity is also a rich ecosystem of 50 or so different species of bacteria, lead researcher Andreas Peschel of the University of Tuebingen told reporters in a telephone briefing.
news.yahoo.com | 7/27/16

Biologists on the hunt for new medicines to fight a growing epidemic of drug resistance said Wednesday they found an antibiotic in an unexpected place -- the human nose. The promising compound is produced by a nose-dwelling bacterium, and is able to kill a disease-causing, antibiotic-resistant superbug, they reported. "It was completely unexpected to find a human-associated bacterium to produce a real antibiotic," said study co-author Andreas Peschel of the University of Tubingen in Germany.


news.yahoo.com | 7/27/16
By Kate Kelland LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists in Germany have discovered a bacteria hiding out in peoples' noses that produces an antibiotic compound that can kill several dangerous pathogens, including the superbug MRSA. The early-stage finding, reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday, could one day lead to a whole new class of antibiotic medicines being developed to fight drug-resistant bacterial infections, the researchers said. As well as being a focal point for many viral infections, the nasal cavity is also a rich ecosystem of 50 or so different species of bacteria, lead researcher Andreas Peschel of the University of Tuebingen told reporters in a telephone briefing.
news.yahoo.com | 7/27/16
The bacteria, called Staphylococcus lugdunensis, could be used as part of a nasal probiotic say researchers from the University of Tubingen in Germany.

In eight of ten countries surveyed by Pew research at least half think incoming refugees will increase the likelihood of terrorism in their country.

This figure, from the spring 2016 global attitudes survey, highlights a connection that exists in many European minds between the refugee crisis and terrorist attacks, such as the ones in Paris, Brussels and Nice, where 84 people died as a single attacker drove his lorry into a crowd after the Bastille day firework display on the Promenade des Anglais.

This causal link is most thought of in Hungary (76 percent), Poland (71 percent), the Netherlands and Germany (both 61 percent). In France, 46 percent think the arrival of refugees increases the risk of terrorism. In the UK this figure is at 52 percent.

“Amongst Europeans, perceptions of refugees are influenced in part by negative attitudes toward Muslims already living in Europe,” Pew Research says. “In Hungary, Italy, Poland and Greece, more than six-in-ten say they have an unfavourable opinion of the Muslims in their country – an opinion shared by at least one-in-four in each nation polled.”

But according to the study, “there is less alarm that Muslims already living on the Continent might sympathise with extremists.”

Most attackers in Paris and Brussels where French or Belgian nationals.

Pew Research also highlights sharp ideological divides on the refugee question: “In Greece, 81% of those on the right express an unfavourable view of Muslims, compared with 50% of those on the left,” the study shows.

“Significant right-left gaps in attitudes toward Muslims are also found in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, France and the United Kingdom,” Pew Research adds.

Even if ideology is a driving factor, so is the level of education: “older people and less-educated individuals expressing more negative opinions about refugees and minorities,” the study shows.

Resentment also shows on diversity: over half of Greeks and Italians and about 40 percent of Hungarians and Poles say growing diversity makes things worse. Sweden had the highest percentage (36 percent) of people believing diversity makes their country a better place to live.

The survey was conducted in 10 EU nations and the United States among 11,494 respondents from April 4 to May 12, 2016.

www.voxeurop.eu | 7/27/16

In eight of ten countries surveyed by Pew research at least half think incoming refugees will increase the likelihood of terrorism in their country.

This figure, from the spring 2016 global attitudes survey, highlights a connection that exists in many European minds between the refugee crisis and terrorist attacks, such as the ones in Paris, Brussels and Nice, where 84 people died as a single attacker drove his lorry into a crowd after the Bastille day firework display on the Promenade des Anglais.

This causal link is most perceived in Hungary (76 percent), Poland (71 percent), the Netherlands and Germany (both 61 percent). In France, 46 percent think the arrival of refugees increases the risk of terrorism. In the UK this figure is at 52 percent.

“Amongst Europeans, perceptions of refugees are influenced in part by negative attitudes toward Muslims already living in Europe,” Pew Research says. “In Hungary, Italy, Poland and Greece, more than six-in-ten say they have an unfavourable opinion of the Muslims in their country – an opinion shared by at least one-in-four in each nation polled.”

But the study says “there is less alarm that Muslims already living on the Continent might sympathise with extremists.”

Most attackers in Paris and Brussels were French or Belgian nationals.

Pew Research also highlights sharp ideological divides on the refugee question: “In Greece, 81% of those on the right express an unfavourable view of Muslims, compared with 50% of those on the left,” the study shows.

“Significant right-left gaps in attitudes toward Muslims are also found in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, France and the United Kingdom,” Pew Research adds.

Even if ideology is a driving factor, so is the level of education: “older people and less-educated individuals expressing more negative opinions about refugees and minorities,” the study shows.

Resentment also shows on diversity: over half of Greeks and Italians and about 40 percent of Hungarians and Poles say growing diversity makes things worse. Sweden had the highest percentage (36 percent) of people believing diversity makes their country a better place to live.

The survey was conducted in 10 EU nations and the United States among 11,494 respondents from April 4 to May 12, 2016.

www.voxeurop.eu | 7/27/16

WASHINGTON ― Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump set off panic Wednesday night by suggesting he would torpedo America’s commitment to its partners in the strongest mutual defense alliance in the world, NATO.


Trump’s comment that he would judge NATO members’ spending on security before helping them face down a potential invasion ―  a remark initially made to The New York Times ― took over the news cycle for hours. It played perfectly into widespread doubts about the self-described billionaire’s volatility and seemingly reckless views on foreign policy. For his opponents, it was an ideal opportunity to try to turn voters against him.


Have they taken that opportunity?


Nope. 


Instead, key anti-Trump forces are offering evidence for the Republican standard-bearer’s argument ― that U.S. elites are so hung up on past commitments that they can’t embrace fresh thinking.


The Clinton campaign, the Obama administration and top Democratic national security figures like Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.) have chosen to attack Trump by describing his remarks as out of line with the history of Republican presidents, notably GOP hero Ronald Reagan. They’re trotting out classic boilerplate about upholding American promises to NATO.


While this might satisfy worried foreign leaders, it means very little to many U.S. voters on the right and left, who are signaling that they couldn’t care less about the traditions of the past. Republican primary voters have already demonstrated their anger with America’s historic foreign policy, including that of the previous GOP president. Now, widely followed activists on the left are describing the Trump critics’ line as further proof that Hillary Clinton is essentially a war hawk who has abandoned progressive principles.


This could easily become the narrative that sticks ― that there’s really no reason for the U.S. to give money to an “imperial” alliance that supposedly provokes needless tension and and that Trump has it right. Bashing other NATO members for failing to meet their defense spending target (2 percent of their annual budget) has appeal across the political spectrum because it reinforces the sense that America is unfairly over-extended in the world. And talk about NATO’s recent track record ― notably the unpopular 2011 intervention in Libya, with which Clinton is widely associated ― only prompts more vitriol.


But there are a lot of good reasons why the vitality of the Western alliance should matter to regular voters. We’re simply not talking about them. Rather than just calling his remark reckless, Trump’s opponents need to set forth those reasons.


They could, for instance, make a case for NATO that dovetails with the growing war-weariness across America. Clinton and her advocates could explain why a strong NATO makes war with Russia less likely, by giving the country’s autocratic president an incentive to recognize his limits and stop short of prompting global conflict for his local gain.


For Vladimir Putin, adventures into the former Soviet world are an easy way to ignite nationalist sentiment by evoking memories of lost Russian stature. That’s a big reason why he invaded Ukraine in 2014, after that country’s people made clear they wanted to move closer to the West. The resulting crisis has claimed thousands of casualties and dealt deep economic damage to the rest of Europe and to Russia itself. But it’s also helped Putin win even more domestic support.


Mark Galeotti, a former New York University professor and an incoming senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague, argued Thursday that this shows why conflict will not be prevented by NATO backing off from regions Putin is interested in. Galeotti’s conversations with Russian insiders have him convinced Putin does not truly want to grab territory. Instead, the Russian president wants to project fear abroad for the sake of his power at home. By undermining his capacity to do that ― by proving that his threats against neighbors are necessarily empty because of NATO’s commitment to those countries ― the defense alliance helps keep Russian belligerence in check and encourages peaceful engagement.


Laying out the current nature of Russia’s threat to peace is key because the classic “The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming!” argument no longer works. With the rise of isolationist thinking across the political spectrum and the spread of Russia-sponsored “news” that encourages the world to see all international crises as Washington’s fault, many voters are willing to back off and let Moscow do what it pleases. Democrats mocked Mitt Romney for talking of Russia as a top geopolitical threat in 2012 ― and many still think that’s an overstatement. Can Trump critics hoping to woo voters convince them that this thinking is off?


Equally important, Trump critics need to argue that there’s more to NATO than opposing Russia. The alliance was there for the U.S. after it was attacked on 9/11 and continues to provide essential support in Afghanistan as the U.S. tries to slowly exit that war.


Helping voters understand the need for friends abroad means countering the pernicious argument that the greatest threats to American national security today are simply the results of Washington’s war-mongering abroad. The forces determined to target the U.S. arose for a complex mix of reasons, including, but not limited to, the sometimes brutal mistakes of America and NATO. They won’t spare groups of people in NATO countries just because those folks criticize the alliance or other “imperialism.” The alliance’s defenders need to remind Americans that NATO partners work with Washington to face many of these foes, including the self-described Islamic State and other militant groups. 


None of this is to say that Trump’s critics should not acknowledge legitimate complaints about what’s not working in that partnership. Surely it’s not impossible for Clinton and her allies to point out that NATO nations are well aware they could share the burden of collective defense more fairly. Bolstering defense spending is simply politically harder for their governments than it is in the U.S., where even pseudo-isolationist Trump talks about more military money. But they’re trying, as Germany recently proved.


To anyone listening to voters’ thoughts about how America should engage the world, it’s clear that the best case against Trumpian pseudo-isolation consists not of invoking long-dead leaders but of talking plainly about U.S. needs today. Now it all depends on whether Trump’s rivals can make that case ― and, ahem, not blow this.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

Shawki Ibrahim Allam, the Grand Mufti of Egypt was a guest at the University of Bonn in Germany. In a panel, he called for inter-religious dialogue; however, political issues were not addressed.
www.dw.com | 7/17/16

Theresa May

Prime Minister of the U.K.

May was automatically appointed prime minister on Monday following the withdrawal of opponent Andrea Leadsome. Former prime minister David Cameron announced that he would formally resign by Wednesday. May will be responsible for leading negotiations with the European Union after Britain voted to leave the union.

Along with Margaret Thatcher, May is Britain’s second female prime minister. She will formally be appointed by Queen Elizabeth II.

Angela Merkel

Chancellor of Germany

Merkel has been leading Germany since 2005 and the Christian Democratic Union of Germany since 2000. A former research scientist, Merkel is also the first female chancellor of Germany and the longest-serving incumbent government head in the European Union. She is ranked as the most powerful woman in politics on Forbes’ 2016 list.

Tsai Ing-wen

President of the Republic of China

Tsai, who assumed office on May 20, is the first female president of Taiwan. Before winning in a landslide victory, she formerly served as the chair of Democratic Progressive Party. She has also publicly endorsed same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights on her Facebook page.

Bidhya Devi Bhandari

President of Nepal

Elected last year, Bhandari is Nepal’s second president and first female to take on the position. She is a member of the Communist Party of Nepal and had been campaigning to secure women’s rights in the country’s new constitution.

Park Geun-hye

President of South Korea

Park — who is the first woman to be elected as South Korea’s president — previously served as the chairwoman of the Saenuri Party (formerly called the Conservative Grand National Party) and was a member of the Korean National Assembly. Her father, Park Chung-hee, was the president of South Korea from 1963 to 1979.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

President of Liberia

In 2011, Sirleaf was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen for their “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” She is the first woman to be elected as a head of state in Africa and the chair of the Economic Community of West African States.

Sirleaf also happens to be the aunt of actress and comedian Retta, who portrayed Donna on “Parks and Recreation.”

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović

President of Croatia

Grabar-Kitarović assumed office in 2015 as Croatia’s fourth president. She is the first woman and youngest person to be elected to the position. She previously has served as Croatia’s minister of European affairs, minister of foreign affairs and European integration, assistant secretary general for public diplomacy at NATO, and ambassador to the United States.

Michelle Bachelet

President of Chile

Bachelet has won the Chilean presidential elections twice and currently serves as the 37th president. She was the inaugural executive director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and served as the health minister and defense minister under previous Chilean president Ricardo Lagos.

Sheikh Hasina Wajed

Prime Minister of Bangladesh

As a leader of the Bangladesh Awami League, Hasina has served as prime minister three times. Her first term lasted from 1996 to 2001 and the second term between 2009-2014. She began her third term in 2014 after winning the election, which was boycotted by the main opposition alliance.

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim

President of Mauritius

Gurib-Fakim, a biodiversity scientist, was elected to as president in 2015. She is the first woman elected to the position and is currently the managing director of CIDP Research & Innovation, where she studies the medicinal and nutritive uses of Mauritius’ indigenous plants. She was a professor at the University of Mauritius and was awarded the L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science in 2007.

Dalia Grybauskaite

President of Lithuania

As Lithuania’s first female president, Grybauskaite was inaugurated in 2009 and re-elected in 2014. She previously served as the vice minister of foreign affairs, minister of finance, and European commissioner for financial programming and the budget. Along with presidents Barack Obama, Joachim Gauck and François Hollande, Grybauskaite boycotted the Sochi Winter Olympics.

www.thewrap.com | 7/12/16

As political and social turmoil rocks the Western world, we’re increasingly looking to women to clean up the mess ― the U.S., the U.K., Germany, the IMF and the United Nations may all be run by women come January.


At least one woman isn’t the least bit surprised, but she is worried: Are the coming leaders facing down impossible situations? Are we setting up women to fail, discouraging a generation of women from vying for leadership roles?


More than a decade ago, Michelle Ryan, an organizational and social psychologist at the University of Exeter, along with a colleague, coined a term ― the Glass Cliff ― to describe the situation when women, and sometimes minority men, ascend to power during times of organizational decline, crisis and turmoil. It’s the natural corollary of the “glass ceiling,” the invisible barrier women face when trying to make it up the top of the ladder. Those who crack the ceiling, the reasoning goes, step out onto a fragile ledge at the top and face down various crises.


Years of further research and analysis ― as well as boatloads of anecdotes ― have reinforced these findings. Though some argue they don’t hold up. And these days, from her perch in a village just outside her university, Ryan is bearing witness to a political situation that seems ripped right out her research.


“There are glass cliffs everywhere right now,” Ryan told The Huffington Post by phone on Friday. “Women are popping out of the woodwork.”



The U.S. looks again likely to walk a president out onto the glass cliff ― as we did in 2008, electing a black man to the White House for the first time during a time of financial crisis ― with Hillary Clinton leading the polls.


In the U.K., as male leaders back away from running the country in the wake of the disastrous Brexit vote to leave the European Union, women are stepping in. Theresa May and Andrea Leadsom are the remaining two contenders for prime minister. 


Indeed, the British press is looking to these women as saviors.



May v Leadsom? We just need someone to lead us out of this mess https://t.co/mPpPU3cspl

— The Guardian (@guardian) July 4, 2016



“At this time when Britain is really precarious, you see these men aspiring to power suddenly stepping away and you don’t see many men stepping up. Women see an opportunity and rise,” Ryan said.


Of course, getting more women into positions of power ― in arenas where they’re still minorities ― is a good thing and the raft of women now vying to lead us through crisis are certainly qualified and capable. The danger is you’re putting these women into extremely difficult jobs, with very little guarantee of success.


Because there are so few female CEOs, prime ministers and presidents, each one who ascends to power serves as a symbol for her entire gender. If they fail, women leaders don’t fail just as people ― they fail as “women.” 


Their individual failures can serve to reinforce the notion that men are the only truly capable leaders. That also discourages a younger generation of women from seeking top jobs, Ryan said.


“You don’t want to see women set up for horrible falls,” Ryan said. The alternate metaphor for the glass cliff? “The poisoned chalice,” she said.


A Great Opportunity Or The Edge Of ‘Doom’?

Ever since Ryan and S. Alexander Haslan, now at the University of Queensland, coined the phrase, the glass cliff has been getting crowded: Marissa Mayer took the reins at Yahoo, as the company faced ongoing decline in 2012; Mary Barra came to lead General Motors right before the company was forced to face the music on a massive recall scandal in 2014; Iceland elected female leaders after the country was devastated by the financial crisis; the United States in 2008 turned to a black man to clean up one of the worst financial disasters in the country’s history.


Taking on a leadership role is never simple; taking it on when a company or country is facing a big crisis is really tough.


Over in the U.K. a new prime minister will have to appease a population where essentially neither side is happy, Ryan points out. The people who voted to leave the EU are upset that the leaders of the Brexit movement are backing away from their promises ― more money for health care! No more immigrants! Those who voted to stay in the EU. Well, they lost.


Leading the country is “a great opportunity, but it will be difficult,” Ryan said in a gentle understatement.


In the U.S., some are already saying that even if Clinton wins, she will ultimately fail because of the extreme political climate and the country’s rising suspicions of “elites.” 



“Doomed,” is how Felix Salmon described her in a recent piece for Fusion.


Mayer is still hanging on at Yahoo, but no one is sure how much longer she’ll last as her company continues to face challenges. But Barra meanwhile has managed to triumph. And she’s considered an exceptional female leader, Colleen Ammerman, the director of Harvard’s Gender Initiative, told HuffPost.


So Much For Smashing The Glass Ceiling

Ryan and Haslam were inspired to do their research after reading a report in the London Times in 2003, which claimed companies with declining share prices had more women in their boardrooms. 


“So much for smashing the glass ceiling and using their unique skills to enhance the performance of Britain’s biggest companies,” the article read. “The triumphant march of women into the country’s boardrooms has instead wreaked havoc on companies’ performance.” 


The pair suspected something else might be at play. After analyzing the 19 public companies on the London Stock Exchange that actually had women on their boards, Ryan and Haslam found that after a company’s stock price went down women tended to be appointed to the boardroom.


“Over the last 10 years, we’ve tried to understand why,” Ryan said. She and Haslam, as well as academics in the U.S., have spent years analyzing the phenomenon.


Researchers at Utah State University recently studied CEO changes at Fortune 500 companies over the past 15 years, finding that businesses typically put women and minorities in the CEO job in times of poor performance.


More intriguing, those researchers found that when women and minorities do not succeed in those roles, they are typically replaced by a white male leader who exhibits strong hyper-masculine qualities: something they call the “savior effect.”


It’s possible that we’re seeing that play out right now, after eight years of Obama’s stint on the glass cliff. Voters who view Obama’s presidency poorly might gravitate toward former reality TV star and consummate elite white man Donald Trump as a sort of “savior,” Ammerman said.


But those who view Obama favorably, and want four more years of leadership that falls outside of conventional norms, would gravitate to Clinton. 


Women As Caretakers And Scapegoats

So why do we turn to women and minorities in times of crisis? A few things are at play. At these moments, people are more willing to take risks, which opens up the field to candidates that aren’t typically considered for powerful positions.


There’s also a feeling that trying out a woman in a leadership role is “innovative,” Ammerman said.


In lab research where participants were asked to consider whether a woman or man ― with equal qualifications ― should be appointed CEO of a company, women were more likely to be chosen if the company was doing poorly.


“We’ve seen that in lots of studies,” Ryan said. Indeed, others have replicated her findings.


Women, and to some extent minorities, may also be stereotyped to have certain traits ―  empathy, caretaking ― that people feel make them suited to sensitively manage people through a crisis.


Other follow-on research has shown that women are sometimes appointed in crisis situations to serve as scapegoats. One thinks of Erin Callan, the first-ever chief financial officer of the investment bank Lehman Brothers. She was appointed just months before that firm went under, during the runup to the financial crisis, serving as its public face. Callan resigned as it became clear the investment bank was in dire straits, essentially taking the hit for decisions made by the men at her firm long before she took the top spot.


Each time someone falls off the glass cliff, that failure has the potential to reinforce stereotypes about all women’s capability as leaders. Ryan thinks that slows down the growth of the number of women leaders at companies.


Instead of focusing on the problem of appointing women only in times of crisis, in a recent paper Ryan and her coauthors ask a different question: Why not consider why we are more likely to appoint white men when things are going along super-well?


“Men are given preferential access to cushy leadership positions,” they write. We may need to “start focusing our attention on men’s privileged access to the glass cushion.”


They also probably need a slightly better term. 

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


Germany throws out 11 million kilograms of food every year and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt has a plan to halve that amount by 2030.


Expiry dates printed on food product labels have a lot to with food waste, according to Schmidt. “Too much food ends up in the trash, even though it’s still edible,” he told HuffPost Germany.


Schmidt, who belongs to the conservative Christian Social Union, became Germany’s agriculture minister in 2014.


His vision is for food products to use smart packaging that can inform consumers when it is no longer edible. A computer chip in a yoghurt-cup could measure if it’s still consumable, for example.



We need conscious consumers who know where food belongs -- in your mouth and stomach, not in the garbage bin.
Christian Schmidt


Schmidt has promised to dedicate 10 million euros to fund research projects and startups that will work toward his goal of finding better ways to determine the freshness of food.


HuffPost Germany spoke with Schmidt about his idea for this project, which he has titled: “Too good for the garbage.”


Mr. Minister, when was the last time you caught yourself throwing away food that was still in decent condition?


It was a half-torn biscuit that I couldn’t finish. Usually I’ll have that packed up and take it with me. I’m strict with myself.


Well, you have to say that now.


No, I actually always feel guilty when food is thrown out. As someone who grew up in a baker’s family, I was raised that way ― bread wasn’t just tossed out. And I grew up at a time when food wasn’t easily discarded. We have to return to an appreciation for food.


Are younger generations more wasteful?


Yes, there is a generation gap. Those over 60 throw away less food than the under-30s. 


Why do you think that is?


It’s an abundance frame of mind ― people think it’s no longer necessary to conserve food. Waste has almost become an “everyday” thing. That’s why I’m also fighting for nutrition education to become firmly anchored into our curriculums. We simply need a different approach to our food. This needs to start early. 


How would educating children help the food waste problem?


It is sometimes the case that the parents aren’t raising the children, but that the children are raising the parents. Sometimes, this is a good thing. We need conscious consumers who know where food belongs ― in your mouth and stomach, not in the garbage bin.


Is it really that simple? A big part of food waste is produced by households.


Each of us, on average, throws out 82kg of food each year ― that’s way too much. That’s why we can, and we must, do a great deal to combat food waste. But it’s not just about the consumers. The problem is much more complex. For example, we live in a “packaging culture.” Everything is packaged in portions ― but these are not always appropriately sized for singles or for quick purchases. People go for the bigger packages, because there’s nothing in the smaller packages. This gives rise to additional waste.


My goal is to cut food waste in half by 2030.


About three months ago, you announced that you would reform the expiration date. When will consumers notice a difference at the supermarket?


As part of my innovation funding program, there are now around 10 million euros available for the development of “smart packaging,” among other things. These packages would display the information about the quality of the food and help to replace the expiration dates printed on packages in the long term.


And, in my opinion there shouldn’t be an expiration date on non-perishable products such as coffee, noodles and flour. I’m working on that at the EU level. I will also hold talks with businesses to develop criteria to give expiration dates to specific foods. I assume reforms could be on the way within the next two years.


Do you think that this decision could be postponed because of Brexit?


I don’t believe so. We must free ourselves from thinking that all issues need British approval. Frankly, the expiration date issue has no copyright. If the United Kingdom wants to join, I would have no problems with that. The 27 remaining countries will move forward with this issue anyway.


France has taken it one step further: French supermarkets are no longer allowed to throw anything out. Perishable food must be donated, decaying food composted or processed into animal feed. More and more Germans want to see a similar initiative in Germany.


There will be no such law in Germany. First, German supermarkets are much more likely to give food to social institutions just before the expiration date than French supermarkets. We don’t need to over-regulate here. Secondly, the change in regulation changes nothing about the root problem, namely, the surplus. Too much food is tossed out despite being edible. 


Is it enough to cut the amount of food thrown out in half by 2030? Germany has committed to this goal before the United Nations.


With the federal prize for the engagement against food waste, we’re finding businesses and projects. In the past year alone, we’ve had hundreds of submissions and good ideas ― that was a pleasant surprise. A new round of the competition started in early July.


Many people in Germany are already committed to combating food waste ― whether through volunteering, unusual business ideas, trade innovations, gastronomy or food production.


I want to strengthen and promote this engagement. I’ll also turn the initiative “Too good for the garbage” into a national strategy to combat food waste. To achieve this, we need the participation of people in the food industry, as well as people in the different states and NGOs.


This piece originally appeared on HuffPost Germany and has been translated into English.

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Proponents of the Paleo philosophy, a popular diet based on foods believed to have been eaten by cavemen, are overlooking a gruesome staple of their meals: other people. Researchers at the University of Tübingen in Germany found that Neanderthals had a taste for human bones and meat. The study published in the journal Scientific Reports...
nypost.com | 7/7/16

This couple left a historic legacy.


Holocaust survivors Howard and Lottie Marcus gifted $400 million from their estate to Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, according to a university release.


The donation is likely the largest single charitable gift in Israel’s history, reports the Wall Street Journal, and is expected to more than double the size of the university’s endowment. 


What’s more, 10 percent of the money will go to BGU’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, according to The Jewish Week, which studies water sustainability in arid regions, including desalination, wastewater reuse and water recycling.


“They believed that peace could come to the Middle East if water scarcity could be addressed,” Phillip Gomperts, regional director of BGU’s American fundraising organization, AABGU, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.



Lottie Marcus died in December 2015, two months before her 100th birthday, according to the release, and Howard Marcus died in 2014 at the age of 104.


Both had fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s and lost most of their family members in the Holocaust.


“Their legacy is a triumph over the forces of evil that very nearly erased them from the face of the earth more than 70 years ago,” AABGU President Lloyd Goldman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.


In the U.S. they made their fortune as early investors in the 1960s in a young Warren Buffett’s partnership, which later became major conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway.


It was only in the late 1990s that Lottie and Harold Marcus learned about Ben-Gurion University’s research in water sustainability, according to the release. They gave donations to support university laboratories and student scholarships, finally leaving the institution its biggest gift yet of $400 million.


“Knowing them, it comes as no surprise that they elected to use their financial success to enhance the lives of thousands of Israeli young people,” Warren Buffett said in the release.

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Aqilah Sandhu, a star student at Augsburg University law faculty, began a traineeship with the Bavarian judicial system after completing her state law exams, but was told in a letter that she was not allowed to interrogate witnesses or appear in courtrooms while wearing her headscarf.
Or at least they don't need more apps.

That much is evident from the implosion of the "I Sea" app, which has sent waves through the "refugee tech" cottage industry.

It turned out that the prize-winning app, which claimed to lets users help save migrants crossing the Mediterranean by broadcasting real-time satellite footage of the ocean, was a sham. It didn't scan in real-time, but rather used a static image of the ocean. After the revelation last week, it was pulled from the app store.

I Sea is not an anomaly but the most visible symptom of "app creep" in the humanitarian crisis du jour, that of Syrian refugees migrating to Europe.

Is there an app for that?
Ever since the Syrian refugee crisis crested to public attention, it has become a favorite subject of well-intentioned "hackers" and "disruptors." For every vector of the monstrous crisis -- housing, first aid, food, education -- we were told, "There's an app for that ."

The apps, entrepreneurs, and startups certainly filled some gaps created by governments and large nonprofits, which can be slow to act because of their size. But after the initial enthusiasm for these "miracle apps," many peter out, both because the realities of helping refugees are so tough, but also, perhaps, because the media appeal has waned.

The "Refoodgee" app to connect Germany refugees with food has fewer than 500 downloads and hasn't been updated since October, when it was written up in news outlets. A founder of the ClinicFinder app , which connects refugees to medical services, told HuffPost he had no idea how many people downloaded it or have successfully used it. Services Provider, a Canadian smartphone app that sought to connect refugees in Jordan to basic services, is currently in limbo as it waits for feedback from the UNHCR; no refugee is currently able to access it.

"We put roughly 75,000 volunteer hours towards the app," Renee Black, a founder of Services Provider, told HuffPost. "And UNHCR gave us $3000 in funding." These are the odds that even well-designed apps face on the ground.

The apps that have stuck it out face tough circumstances. One website that was widely heralded as "AirBnB for Refugees" faced growing pains after its glowing reception last fall. Refugees Welcome matches refugees with spare rooms or sublets in European countries.

"The demand is far, far higher than the supply," Sophie Mirow, project manager of RW Germany, told HuffPost in April. In Hamburg, for instance, there were just ten room listings for over 1000 refugees seeking accommodation.

It's a sharp turn from last fall, when it was reported that Refugees Welcome was "overwhelmed" with offers from people who wanted to house refugees. Mirow said they saw a "sharp decrease" in rooms offered over the past six months, perhaps as initial enthusiasm over the refugee crisis has waned. Plus, although their website states they will help "all refugees irrespective of their residence status," i.e. whether or not they have a residence permit, the majority of refugees they have been able to help are the ones with official permits, said Mirow. It has been harder than they initially expected to figure out how to accommodate refugees without residence permits -- who are perhaps the ones most in need of a place to stay.

Silicon Syria
The problem of refugee tech is exemplified in the hackathon series called TechFugees. The first hackathon took place in Sydney last November. But so far, not a single idea from the event has been enacted. A TechFugees representative said several "mentoring relationships" formed during the weekend.

TechFugees does have one visible byproduct, though: more hackathons. It has replicated in New York, London and Melbourne in recent months. Across the board, even the best hackathon ideas remain in development.

"Deploying stuff on the ground is very hard because there's multiple agencies involved and there's almost certainly no internet access," Mike Butcher, a TechFugees founder, told Londonist.

Well, sure it's hard. That's why it's a crisis.

Refugee app creep reflects the Silicon-ificiation of the whole world, where every problem is a profit opportunity, words are robbed of meaning (RIP "disrupt;" "mobile;" "interface") and phones are more reliable actors than humans.

The I Sea debacle throws this into sharp relief, but we almost can't blame them. It was developed, tellingly, by an ad agency, Singapore-based called Grey Group, for a Maltese nonprofit that surely thought a buzzy app would raise its profile. And if even one person donated money based on that, wouldn't it have been worth it? Tech entrepreneurs create app creep, but the media enables it.

Here's a modest proposal: we don't need more flashy refugee apps. Why not, instead, work on capacity-building for organizations that are already on the ground? The Red Cross, Oxfam, Amnesty International, and so many others. Or contribute tech knowledge towards state-led efforts, like Germany's popular app for incoming refugees.

Excess goodwill towards the refugee crisis is hardly a bad thing. But turning the refugee trail into an arena for fame and unfulfilled glory -- making Syria and the Greek islands stand in for Mountain View and Palo Alto -- is a fool's errand.

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Brexit will wilt the long-standing alliance between the U.S. and the U.K., as Americans turn to other European countries such as Germany, and President Obama faces the likelihood of an ideological opposite as new British prime minister.

“The U.S. will take the U.K. much less seriously now,” said Klaus Larres, an expert on trans-Atlantic relations from the University of North Carolina. “The U.S. will increasingly look to Germany, not just as economically the most successful country in Europe, but the only one of the largest countries still pro-Europe.”

By Georgina Prodhan MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Robots that work as assistants alongside people are set to upend the world of industrial robotics by putting automation within reach of many small and medium-sized companies for the first time, industry players said this week. Ostergaard and his co-founders were already working on robotics at university together when the Danish ministry of food launched an initiative to get more robots into the Danish food industry to be more competitive.


news.yahoo.com | 6/24/16

By Georgina Prodhan MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Robots that work as assistants alongside people are set to upend the world of industrial robotics by putting automation within reach of many small and medium-sized companies for the first time, industry players said this week. Ostergaard and his co-founders were already working on robotics at university together when the Danish ministry of food launched an initiative to get more robots into the Danish food industry to be more competitive.


news.yahoo.com | 6/24/16

Berlin's parliament voted Thursday to pull its money out of coal, gas and oil companies.


The new investment policy, part of the German capital's goal of completely weaning off carbon by 2050, will force the city's pension fund -- worth $852.8 million, or €750 million -- to divest from shares of German oil giants RWE and E.ON, as well as the French behemoth Total.


The move comes a week after Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, vowed to end its investments in fossil fuels companies, making Berlin the seventh major Western city to join a divestment movement that already includes Paris, Copenhagen, Oslo, Seattle, Portland and Melbourne. In September, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio urged the city's five pension funds -- worth a collective $160 billion -- to sell their $33 million exposure to coal, by the far the dirtiest fossil fuel.


A handful of smaller U.S. cities have pledged to curtail fossil fuel investments, too. 



“Berlin’s decision to blacklist fossil fuel companies is the latest victory for the divestment movement, which serves to remove the social license from companies whose business model pushes us into climate catastrophe," Christoph Meyer, a campaigner with environmental nonprofit 350.org's Fossil Free Berlin project, said in a statement. "We will keep a close eye on the administration to make sure it upholds today’s commitment and urge the city to now take quick steps to break its reliance on coal power.”


The decision, hailed as a victory for environmentalists, comes as the divestment movement gains steam in the wake of the historic climate treaty brokered in Paris in December. About 170 nations signed the accord at the United Nations in New York two months ago. More than 500 institutions -- including well-endowed universities, pension funds and religious organizations collectively representing $3.4 trillion -- have agreed to stop investing in fossil fuels since the campaign began. 


The divestments put pressure on fossil fuel companies to take serious steps to reform their businesses as world leaders try to dramatically slash carbon emissions. Without that, global temperatures are likely to rise well above 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, by the end of the century, altering the climate enough to jeopardize the future of human civilization. 



It's not a particularly contentious move for Berlin. For much of the last decade, Germany has aggressively pushed to transition from an economy powered by fossil fuels to one propelled by clean energy under a policy called Energiewende. As of 2014, the country -- considered the economic powerhouse of Europe -- generated 26.2 percent of its power from renewables, according to Strom-Report, a project run by a group of German data journalists.


“We’re not alone anymore,” Charly Kleissner, the founder of the KL Felicitas Foundation, a group pushing for divestment from fossil fuels, told the German business newspaper Handelsblatt last week. “The next generation is all in.”

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Germany's new education report shows that children of immigrant background are gaining more access to education, but mainly in younger years. There is still room for improvement at the high school and university level.
www.dw.com | 6/17/16

Islamophobia has risen markedly in Germany, a study published on Wednesday showed, underscoring the tensions simmering in German society after more than one million migrants, mostly Muslims, arrived last year.


Every second respondent in the study of 2,420 people said they sometimes felt like a foreigner in their own country due to the many Muslims here, up from 43 percent in 2014 and 30.2 percent in 2009.


The number of people who believe Muslims should be forbidden from coming to Germany has also risen, the study showed, and now stands at just above 40 percent, up from about a fifth in 2009.


The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Leipzig in co-operation with the Heinrich Boell Foundation, the Rosa-Luxemburg Foundation and the Otto-Brenner foundation.


The influx of migrants has fueled support for the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party that wants to ban minarets and the burqa and has described Islam as incompatible with the German constitution.


The number of attacks on refugee shelters has also risen. 



Supporters of the AfD were most likely to favor stopping Muslims from coming to Germany while Green voters were most likely to disagree with the statement that Muslims made them feel like foreigners, the survey found.


On Monday German President Joachim Gauck warned against demonizing Muslims and against polarization along religious and ethnic lines in German society when he joined a Ramadan dinner in Berlin.


Germany is home to nearly four million Muslims, about five percent of the total population. Many of the longer established Muslim community in Germany came from Turkey to find work, but those who have arrived over the past year have mostly been fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.


The study also examined extreme right-wing views towards other groups in Germany.



"While general prejudice against migrants fell slightly, the focus of resentment towards asylums seekers, Muslims as well as Sinti and Roma, increased," the study's authors said.


The number of those surveyed that believed Sinti and Roma peoples tended towards criminality rose to nearly 60 percent, while slightly more than 80 percent of respondents wanted the state not to be too generous when examining asylum applications.


Almost 40 percent of those surveyed in east Germany agreed with the statement that foreigners only came to Germany to take advantage of its social welfare benefits, compared to about 30 percent of those in the west of the country.

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Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Monday called the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in which 50 people died, a "very serious tragedy," but said it was wrong to see all Muslims as potential terrorists.


Asked in an interview with Reuters about U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's reiteration of a call after the shooting for a ban on Muslims entering the country, the Dalai Lama said the billionaire businessman was entitled to his opinion.


However, he added that if he had a chance, he would ask Trump "What's his reason? More detail."


The Dalai Lama said that in every religious community, including Buddhist ones, "there are some mischievous people."


"But you cannot generalize," he said. "Some individual Muslims may carry out some terrorist activities, but better we should not say 'Muslim terrorists.' I think that's wrong."


Fifty people, including the gunman, the U.S.-born son of Afghan immigrants who had declared his allegiance to Islamic State militants, were killed in the attack at the Orlando nightclub on Sunday morning. It was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.



Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton are at odds over how to respond to such attacks, with the latter warning against demonizing Muslims and calling for tougher gun safety measures.


Speaking earlier at Washington's U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), the Dalai Lama said that by nature, women were more compassionate and if more world leaders were female, "there may be less trouble, less violence."


"Of course, some ladies, females, are exceptional," he added. "Equally, some males are very compassionate."


Asked by Reuters if it was time for a female leader in the United States, he said, "that's up to the people of this country," although he added that past female world leaders such as India's Indira Gandhi, Israel's Golda Meir, Britain's Margaret Thatcher and Germany's Angela Merkel had set good examples.


Asked if he would meet President Barack Obama during his three-day visit to Washington, the Dalai Lama said it was "not finalized, but some friends say he may meet me."


Obama met the Dalai Lama when the latter visited Washington in 2014 and vowed "strong support" for Tibetans' human rights, angering China which sees the spiritual leader as an anti-Chinese separatist.



Asked how Beijing (Peking) might respond this time, the Dalai Lama said: "I don't know - you should ask them. I think in Peking, we cannot as of now … generalize. In Peking there are different views. Some people there have a more realistic view. Some are more hardline, which is more narrow-minded."


At the start of the USIP event, the Dalai Lama called on the audience to observe a moment of silence for the Orlando victims.


"Yesterday, very serious tragedy, Orlando. So let us (say) some silent prayer, OK," he said, while adding afterwards: "Although, one Buddhist monk grows quite skeptical about the effects of prayer."


Real change, he said, required serious action, including better education, to ensure more compassion and tolerance in the world, and it was important not to lose "determination or courage."


"Then on top of that, some prayer is OK, no harm," he said.

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By Andrew M. Seaman (Reuters Health) - Drug labels sometimes warn that the medications may disrupt sleep, but a new study suggests these drugs don't cause troubled sleep for most people. The researchers found "barely" any link between medications that warned about potential sleep disturbances and actual sleep problems among thousands of people interviewed for the study. "Sleep disturbances are a frequent problem especially in older people and we wanted to find out whether this might be due to the intake of sleep disturbing drugs," said lead author Anna-Therese Lehnich, of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, in email to Reuters Health.


news.yahoo.com | 6/11/16




The silver ribbon of stars that wraps the night sky has long been an awe-inspiring sight for anyone who cares to look up. But that’s not the case anymore for people who live under a fog of light pollution.


A new analysis using satellite data and sky brightness measurements has found that the Milky Way is hidden from more than one-third of humanity, including 60 percent of Europeans and nearly 80 percent of North Americans. The research was reported Friday in the journal Science Advances.


The researchers calculated several degrees of light pollution, starting from the level at which artificial light obscures astronomical observations up to the level at which the midnight sky is as bright as it is at twilight. Their calculations show that more than 80 percent of the world and more than 99 percent of U.S. and European populations live under light-polluted skies. 


This level of pollution may have negative consequences, ranging from harming animals’ life cycles to affecting human health and even psychology by taking away one of the most positive experiences that’s naturally available, experts said.



There Are Now People Who’ve Never Seen The Milky Way

The proliferation of light pollution started in the 1950s and 60s and has continued to expand every year, said Chris Elvidge, a scientist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a co-author of the study.


"For several generations, people in large urban centers have had their view of the Milky Way blocked," Elvidge told The Huffington Post. “This is an aesthetic loss, and perhaps a spiritual loss in terms of feeling a connection to the cosmos.”  


Losing that connection could have major consequences when it comes to psychological health. The night sky presents one of the few universal situations in which all humans can experience a profound sense of awe. And awe, psychologists are increasingly finding, is a special emotion that can impact our cognition and behavior in unique and unexpected ways.


“Fleeting and rare, experiences of awe can change the course of a life in profound and permanent ways,” wrote Dacher Keltner and Jonathan Haidt in 2003 in one of the first psychological looks on this long-neglected emotion. Reviewing historical examples of people whose lives were transformed thanks to awe, Keltner and Haidt suggested that “awe-inducing may be one of the fastest and most powerful methods of personal change and growth.”


That’s why losing the chance to gaze at a vast sky may not be a small matter.


“The bright night sky and its stars has long been a profound source of awe and inspiration, which we know to stir creativity, generosity, good will and innovation,” Keltner told HuffPost. “Losing a clear night sky will harm our capacity for wonder and put a dent in our spirit of common cause.”



For several generations, people in large urban centers have had their view of the Milky Way blocked. This is an aesthetic loss, and perhaps a spiritual loss in terms of feeling a connection to the cosmos.
Chris Elvidge, NOAA scientist


In more recent investigations of the effects of awe, researchers have elicited the emotion in the lab and observed that people’s perception of time appears to expand. Compared with people experiencing other emotions, those who experienced awe felt that they had more time, said Melanie Rudd of the University of Houston. “As a result, they started doing things that are good for your subjective well-being, like helping others and choosing experiences over material goods.” Having a greater perception of time and being present is particularly important in today’s culture, because people often feel rushed, Rudd said.


Rudd and her colleagues have also found that the best way to elicit awe in people is by putting them in nature -- at the foot of the Swiss Alps or on top of the Grand Canyon, for example. But for people who live in large, populous cities and don’t have a canyon in their backyard, looking at the night sky is one of the few ways to evoke the feeling of awe.


“The sky is right there. It's very accessible,” Rudd said. “But if the light pollution is getting in the way, then you are taking away a very nice source of awe for people."


Where Can We Still See The Milky Way?

Even at a distance, pollution from large cities casts a wide curtain of brightness on surrounding areas. “Light pollution is one of the most pervasive forms of environmental alteration,” the researchers wrote in their analysis of global light pollution. “It affects even otherwise pristine sites because it is easily observed during the night hundreds of kilometers from its source in landscapes that seem untouched by humans during the day.”


Even protected areas such as national parks are not entirely safe from glimmering cities far away. For example, light from Las Vegas and Los Angeles can be seen from Death Valley National Park, the researchers wrote.





The researchers created an atlas of global light pollution that can be seen above, using dark gray to mark light-polluted sites that should be protected from future light increases. If sites are marked in blue, that means the sky is too bright for astronomical observations. Areas marked in yellow are places where people can’t see the Milky Way in the winter, and orange means even the brighter summer Milky Way is obscured by artificial light.


In areas marked in red, the night sky is as luminous as it is at twilight. “This means that, in places with this level of pollution, people never experience conditions resembling a true night because it is masked by an artificial twilight,” the researchers wrote.


The most light-polluted country is Singapore, where people live under skies so bright that the eye cannot fully adapt to night vision, the researchers said. Other countries with high levels of light pollution include Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Israel, Argentina, Libya, and Trinidad and Tobago. Countries with populations least affected by light pollution are Chad, the Central African Republic and Madagascar.


In Western Europe, only some areas -- most of them in Scotland, Sweden and Norway -- still enjoy a dark night. Among G-20 countries, Saudi Arabia and South Korea have the highest degree of light pollution, while India and Germany are exposed to the least light pollution.


In the United States, "the western U.S. and Alaska have the largest blocks of undeveloped, unpopulated lands where the night sky has largely been preserved,” Evlidge said.


For those who’d like to take a short break from the city for a stargazing trip, Elvidge suggests getting about 100 miles out.

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A new large-scale European study has found that men with a higher body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference are at a higher risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. The research was carried out by researchers from the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, UK, who presented their findings at this year's European Obesity Summit, taking place in Gothenburg June 1 to 4. A total of 141,896 men with a mean age of 52 years were recruited for the study across eight different European countries, including Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Greece, Germany, Sweden, and Denmark.


news.yahoo.com | 6/3/16
Representatives of Germany's 50,000-strong Armenian community have welcomed Thursday's Bundestag resolution. But they say relations with German Turks are still strained - and schools could help.
www.dw.com | 6/2/16
Apple today launched its annual Back to School promotion in the U.S. and Canada, offering a free pair of Beats Solo2 Wireless Headphones to qualifying students, parents of students, educators, and select others that purchase an eligible Mac with education pricing, including the iMac , MacBook, MacBook Pro , MacBook Air , and Mac Pro . As usual, the Mac mini and refurbished Macs are excluded from the deal.


Apple is also offering a free pair of Powerbeats2 Wireless Headphones with the purchase of an eligible iPhone or iPad Pro with education pricing, including the iPhone 6 , iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s , iPhone 6s Plus, and both the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Those who purchase a qualifying iPhone or iPad Pro can also upgrade to the Beats Solo2 Wireless Headphones for $100, or $110 in Canadian dollars.

Apple will apply an instant credit in the amount of $299.95 in the U.S., or $329.95 in Canadian dollars, to cover the full cost of the Beats Solo2 Wireless Headphones in Black, Blue, Red, White, Gold, Rose Gold, Silver, Space Gray, Blue Active, Red Active, or Yellow Active. Apple will similarly apply an instant credit of $199.95, or $219.95 in Canadian dollars, for the Powerbeats2 Wireless Headphones in Red, Black, Black Sport, White Sport, Red Active, Yellow Active, or Blue Active.

Apple has outlined the full eligibility requirements for the program in its terms and conditions for the U.S. [PDF ] and Canada [PDF ] on its website.

Apple's Back to School promotion runs from today through September 5, 2016 at Apple retail and campus stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Canada. The deal is also available on Apple's online store or by calling 1-800-MY-APPLE. Apple has not yet officially announced the promotion in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, or other European countries where it is typically offered.

Four bodies were found floating in homes in France and Germany on Wednesday in flash floods that left people stranded on rooftops, cut roads and forced schools to close their doors. French weather forecasters warned of more to come on Thursday.

Four bodies were found floating in homes in France and Germany Wednesday in flash floods that also left water lapping at the doors of one of the Loire Valley's most famous chateaux. Heavy rains lashing parts of France, Germany and Austria cut roads, stranded people on rooftops and forced schools to close their doors. Three people who had been trapped in a house at Simbach am Inn in southern Germany were found dead, local authorities said, while the body of an 86-year-old woman was found in her flooded house in Souppes-sur-Loing in central France.


news.yahoo.com | 6/1/16
Torrential rain has hit Germany, France and Austria leaving hundreds of pupils stranded in their schools and families have been forced to scramble to their rooftops to escape the rising deluge.

The responsibility for the German education system lies primarily with the states (Bundesländer) while the federal government plays only a minor role. Optional Kindergarten education is provided for all children between three and six years of age, after which school attendance is compulsory, in most cases for 11 to 12 years. The system varies throughout Germany because each state (Land) decides its own educational policies. Most children, however, first attend Grundschule from the age of six to ten or 12. German secondary education includes five types of school. The Gymnasium is designed to prepare pupils for university education and finishes with the final examination Abitur, after grade 12 or 13. The Realschule has a broader range of emphasis for intermediate pupils and finishes with the final examination Mittlere Reife, after grade 10; the Hauptschule prepares pupils for vocational education and finishes with the final examination Hauptschulabschluss, after grade 9 or 10 and the Realschulabschluss after grade 10. There are two types of grade 10: one is the higher level called type 10b and the lower level is called type 10a; only the higher level type 10b can lead to the Realschule and this finishes with the final examination Mittlere Reife after grade 10b. This new path of achieving the Realschulabschluss at a vocationally-oriented secondary school was changed by the statutory school regulations in 1981 - with a one-year qualifying period. During the one-year qualifying period of the change to the new regulations, pupils could continue with class 10 to fulfil the statutory period of education. After 1982, the new path was compulsory, as explained above. Other than this, there is the Gesamtschule, which combines the approaches. There are also Förderschulen/Sonderschulen. One in 21 pupils attends a Förderschule. Nevertheless the Förderschulen/Sonderschulen can also lead, in special circumstances, to a Hauptschulabschluss of both type 10a or type 10b, the latter of which is the Realschulabschluss. German children only attend school in the morning. There is no provision for serving lunch. There is a lot more homework, heavy emphasis on the "three R's" and very few extracurricular activities. A very low-cost or free higher education could lie beyond a German Abitur. Many of Germany's hundred or so institutions charge little or no tuition. But, students must prove through examinations that they are qualified. In order to enter university, students are, as a rule, required to have passed the Abitur examination; since 2009, however, those with a Meisterbrief (master craftman's diploma) have also been able to apply. Those wishing to attend a "university of applied sciences" must, as a rule, have Abitur, Fachhochschulreife or a Meisterbrief. Lacking those qualifications, pupils are eligible to enter a university or university of applied sciences if they can present additional proof that they will be able to keep up with their fellow students A special system of apprenticeship called Duale Ausbildung allows pupils on vocational courses to do in-service training in a company as well as at a state school. Recent PISA student assessments demonstrated serious weaknesses in German pupils' performance. In the test of 43 countries in the year 2000, Germany ranked 21st in reading and 20th in both mathematics and the natural sciences, prompting calls for reform. In 2006, German schoolchildren improved their position compared to previous years, being ranked (statistically) significantly above average (rank 13) in science skills and statistically not significantly above or below average in mathematical skills (rank 20) and reading skills (rank 18). The PISA Examination also found big differences in achievement between students attending different types of German schools. According to Jan-Martin-Wiadra: Conservatives prized the success of the Gymnasium, for them the finest school form in the world – indeed, it is by far the number one in the PISA league table. But what they prefer to forget is that this success came at the cost of a catastrophe in the Hauptschulen. Some German teachers' representatives and a number of scientists disputed the PISA findings. Claiming among other things that the questions have been ill-translated, that the samples drawn in some countries were not representative, that Germans (most of whom had never done a multiple choice tests in their lives before) were discriminated against by the multiple choice questions, that the PISA-questions had no curricular validity and that the PISA was "in fact an IQ-test", which according to them showed that dysgenic fertility was taking place in Germany. A 2008 statistic from Nordrhein-Westfalen shows that 6.4 percent of all students did not earn even the Hauptschulabschluss, however not all of them were high school dropouts, as many of them were children with special needs, who received special school leaving certificates. Only 3.3 percent dropped out of school without earning any kind of diploma.


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