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Catalonia Separatists Win, Obama To Meet Putin, Mars Mystery

SEPARATIST PARTIES WIN CATALONIA VOTE

Pro-independence parties in the Spanish region of Catalonia won an absolute majority of legislative seats in regional elections yesterday that were seen as a de facto referendum on independence. Separatists see the landmark victory in the rich region as a clear mandate to break away from Spain, though they received under 50% of the overall votes cast. The Spanish government is fiercely opposed to Catalan independence, and its loss would be devastating for the EU's fifth-biggest economy. The 72 seats the separatists won exceed the 68 (of 135) required to form a parliamentary majority. Read more in our Extra! feature.


70TH UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS

World leaders are gathered in New York for the United Nations' 70th General Assembly, during which many global issues will be on the agenda. The presidents of the United States, Russia, China, Iran and France will all take the podium today, but the most important event will be happening backstage, where President Barack Obama will meet Vladimir Putin. Read more from The Guardian about what to look for.


2033

Photo: Gene Blevins/LA DailyNews/ZUMA

Missed last night's supermoon eclipse? You'll need to wait until 2033 for the next one.


VERBATIM

"She was extremely lazy and copied mercilessly." Vroniplag Wiki, an Internet platform that examines academic work for plagiarism, has accused German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen of copying without reference many sentences contained in her doctoral dissertation, Der Spiegelreports. The minister denies it, saying, "It's not new that activists on the Internet try to spread doubts about the dissertations of politicians." In recent years, her predecessor and an education minister were both forced to resign after being found guilty of plagiarism. The 56-year-old minister is often mentioned as Angela Merkel's potential successor.


FRANCE BEGINS AIRSTRIKES IN SYRIA

France launched its first airstrikes against ISIS in Syria over the weekend after weeks of reconnaissance flights, Le Monde reports. The French mission, which until now was centered on Iraq, destroyed an ISIS training camp in Deir ez-Zor, in eastern Syria. "More strikes will come in the next weeks if necessary," President François Hollande warned.


ON THIS DAY


Former French actress and model Brigitte Bardot turns 81 today. That and more in your daily shot of history.


EVIDENCE SHOWS VW WAS WARNED

A report in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung showed that a Volkswagen engineer warned his company as early as 2011 about the illegal use of software to improve their VW car emissions during tests. It wasn't the only caution. Tabloid Bild am Sonntag reported that Bosch, which supplied the diesel software for testing purposes only, warned the company that using it on the road would be illegal.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Climate change is already starting to affect wine growers, who scientists say will have to use other varieties of grapes and periodically move vineyards, among other interventions, Frank Niedercorn reports for Les Echos. "Instead of irrigation, seen as an ‘ultimate solution,' the best adaptation could come from genetics, with new varieties that ripen more slowly and are more resistant to heat and illnesses," he writes. "Scientists also imagine ‘nomadic' vineyards: Designated vineyards would exist, but only for a few dozen years, enough time to make the most of a climate and favorable conditions."

Read the full article, Climate Change And The Vineyards Of The Future.


BANKS PROBED OVER PRICE FIXING

Switzerland's Competition Commission announced this morning that it has opened an investigation into two Swiss banks, UBS and Julius Baer, as well as Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Barclays, Morgan Stanley and Mitsui over indications that they colluded to fix the price of precious metals, Le Temps reports. Barclays and UBS have already been hit by massive fines this year after pleading guilty with other institutions in the Libor scandal.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



NASA MARS ANNOUNCEMENT

NASA has a "major announcement" to make later today about Mars. But CNN believes it may have cracked the mystery. And no, it's not about Martians.

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Future

Injecting Feminism Into Science Is A Good Thing — For Science

Feminists have generated a set of tools to make science less biased and more robust. Why don’t more scientists use it?

As objective as any man

Anto Magzan/ZUMA
Rachel E. Gross

-Essay-

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a mystery played out across news headlines: Men, it seemed, were dying of infection at twice the rate of women. To explain this alarming disparity, researchers looked to innate biological differences between the sexes — for instance, protective levels of sex hormones, or distinct male-female immune responses. Some even went so far as to test the possibility of treating infected men with estrogen injections.

This focus on biological sex differences turned out to be woefully inadequate, as a group of Harvard-affiliated researchers pointed out earlier this year. By analyzing more than a year of sex-disaggregated COVID-19 data, they showed that the gender gap was more fully explained by social factors like mask-wearing and distancing behaviors (less common among men) and testing rates (higher among pregnant women and health workers, who were largely female).

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Writing contest - My pandemic story
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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

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