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A New Kind Of Space Race

The quest for the final frontier is still very much on. But rather than the Cold War-era space race between the two governments of the United States and Soviet Union, the competition now has many players, both public and private.

The public sector these days includes China, which recently announced plans to send an unmanned probe to Mars within the next five years, Chinese state-run agency Xinhua reported. The pledge is a direct challenge to NASA, whose ETA for landing a rover mission on the Red Planet is set for July 2020. The U.S. space agency is also shooting for a manned mission to Mars by 2030, and has just completed a year-long simulation of such an experience in a remote site in Hawaii. The BBC quotes Cyprien Verseux, one of the six scientists who took part in the simulation: "I can give you my personal impression which is that a mission to Mars in the close future is realistic."

Meanwhile, Moscow is still in the race. This Kommersant article reports that the Russian space agency Roscosmos plans — among other things — a satellite mission in 2019 to determine the effects of prolonged space travel and zero gravity on a living organism.

But beyond the national agencies, the race for the stars now includes individual entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. The Economist magazine reports this week on the growing private business competition in space, including everything from the GPS satellite technology that helps you find a restaurant to unknown galaxies that could reveal the meaning of life. Buckle up, this is a ride for the ages.



One of Colombia's "most painful chapters" comes to an end today as a ceasefire between the government and the leftist rebel group FARC goes into effect, effectively ending a 52-year-old war. "A new story starts for Colombia," President Juan Manuel Santos said in a tweet. The historic peace deal agreed last week will be officially signed next month before being put to a vote on Oct. 2.


Turkish troops and rebel groups allied to it have thrust deeper into Syria over the weekend, seizing territories controlled by Kurdish forces, Reuters reports. At least 35 villagers were killed in the five days since Turkish forces crossed the border, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Turkey denies the report.


Hurricane Katrina — 11 years ago. That, and more, in your 57-second shot of History.


"In my opinion the negotiations on TTIP with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it," Germany's Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economic Affairs Sigmar Gabriel said yesterday during an interview with national broadcaster ZDF.


A bomb ripped through a criminology institute in Brussels in the middle of the night, causing extensive damage but no victims, Le Soir reports. The police are investigating the explosion as a criminal act but have ruled out links to terrorism five months after deadly attacks on the Brussels airport and a metro station.


There is no law in China expressly forbidding the public from filming law enforcement. And yet, police officers stubbornly resist the idea of being filmed. But now the country's Ministry of Public Security is saying things must change, as Zhou Dongxu writes for Chinese daily Caixin: "Allowing the public to film police actions makes law enforcement more accountable, and poses a direct challenge to their propaganda machine. But it can also present police in a good light provided they carry out their functions in accordance with the law. It serves as a powerful incentive, therefore, for law enforcement to perform professionally and appropriately. In today's information age, the roles and definitions of media are constantly evolving. Police must adapt to the new situation."

Read the full article, China To Its Citizens: Go Ahead And Film The Cops.


Figures from Germany's federal police show that 8,991 unaccompanied refugee children and young people had been reported missing by July 1, a figure that almost doubled since January.


Floating Business — Lake Titicaca, April 1996


The American singer's Formation wins top video award. See all the coverage from MTV.



Does he really love you, or just the treat you give him? Worry not, a new Emory University study finds that dogs' reputation as "man's best friend" is well deserved. Human praise (and maybe a pat on the head or scratch on the belly) is enough to please your average canine. Read more from UPI.

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India Higher Education Inferior Complex: Where Are The Foreign University Campuses?

The proposed UGC guidelines are ill-conceived and populist, and hardly take note of the educational and financial interests of foreign universities.

Image of a group of five people sitting on the grass inside of the Indian Institute of Technology campus.

The IIT - Indian Institute of Technology - Campus

M.M Ansari and Mohammad Naushad Khan

NEW DELHI — Nearly 800,000 young people from India attend foreign universities every year in search of quality education and entrepreneurial training, resulting in a massive outflow of resources – $3 billion – to finance their education. These students look for greener pastures abroad because of the lack of quality teaching and research in most of India’s higher education institutions.

Over 40,000 colleges and 1,000 universities are producing unemployable graduates who cannot function in a knowledge- and technology-intensive economy.

The Indian government's solution is to open doors to foreign universities, with a proposed set of regulations aiming to provide higher education and research services to match global standards, and to control the outflow of resources. But this decision raises many questions.

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