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Japan Flooding, Russian Aid To Assad, Nobel For Merkel?

Japan Flooding, Russian Aid To Assad, Nobel For Merkel?

HUNGARY TRIES TO STEM REFUGEE TIDE

Hungary may be considering deploying its army to help police stem the daily arrival of thousands of refugees at its southern border with Serbia. A new razor wire is being built along the border, and the Hungarian military was also staging border protection exercises yesterday, the BBC reports. Human rights groups have criticized the move. Human Rights Watch official Peter Bouckaert described "appalling conditions in Hungary detention camps for asylum seekers, kept in crowded pens like cattle."

  • Meanwhile, Denmark suspended all rail links with Germany and temporarily closed a highway yesterday after police stopped hundreds of migrants trying to reach Sweden at the border. But Danish train operator DSB announced that traffic would be normalized between the two countries today, newspaper Jyllands-Posten reports.
  • Ireland announced today that it would take in 4,000 refugees over the coming months, The Irish Times reports.

VERBATIM

"Russia has never made a secret of its military-technical cooperation with Syria," The Guardian quotes Moscow's foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova as saying yesterday. Confirming that "Russian military specialists are in Syria to help them master the weapons being supplied," she also insisted this presence was not unusual.

  • Western countries have expressed concern recently over signs of a growing Russian presence in Syria. "That will not contribute to solving the conflict," Reuters quoted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as saying.
  • Citing military sources, the Russian daily Kommersant reported today that Moscow was supplying Syrian government forces with firearms, grenade launchers and armored personnel carriers. The source said the supplies "are in accordance with international law and in line with all formalities and existing contracts between the Russian and Syrian government."
  • For more on this topic, we offer this Kommersant/Worldcrunch piece, As Tensions Rise With U.S., Russia Teams Up With Iran To Help Assad.

FLOODS, LANDSLIDES HIT JAPAN

Photo: ebibi via Instagram

More than 90,000 people have fled their homes in the city of Joso, about 50 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, after the Kinugawa River burst its banks today, the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shinbun reports. One woman has been reported missing and at least a dozen people have been injured. According to the Bangkok Post, hundreds of tons of radiation-contaminated water could also be flowing into the ocean from the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor. The tsunami-like floods, along with landslides, come a day after Typhoon Etau brought heavy rainfall to the region. "This is a scale of downpour that we have not experienced before," chief forecaster Takuya Deshimaru said during a press conference today. "Grave danger could be imminent."


ANGELA MERKEL, NEXT NOBEL WINNER?

Could German Chancellor Angela Merkel be a potential candidate for the next Nobel Peace Prize? Le Monde seems to think so. In an editorial titled "Angela Merkel, the Pride of Europe," the French daily says, among other glowing commentary, that she has defended "the values of Europe" through her humane and astute management of the refugee crisis.

Read more about France and Merkel in our Extra! feature.


NEW HUMAN-LIKE SPECIES DISCOVERED

A team of scientists in South Africa claim they have discovered a new human-like species in a burial chamber deep in a cave system near Johannesburg, scientific journal Elife reports. According to the researchers, this discovery could change ideas about our human ancestors. More than 1,500 bones belonging to at least 15 people were found in the cave and thousands more are still expected to be excavated. The species could have lived in Africa up to 3 million years ago.


ON THIS DAY


Happy 82nd birthday to designer Karl Lagerfeld, of Chanel and Fendi fame. That and more in today's shot of history.


ISIS WANTS RANSOM FOR NEW HOSTAGES

ISIS claimed in the latest issue of its publication Dabiq that it was holding two men, a Norwegian and a Chinese, hostage and asked for unspecified ransoms for their release. Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg confirmed this but insisted Oslo "does not pay ransoms," Al Arabiya reports.


WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Traditional local populations are facing the brunt of the environmental fallout in the massive lake between Bolivia and Peru, Frédéric Faux reports for Le Temps. "We are in the bay of Cohana, where the rivers running from El Alto finally meet Lake Titicaca, in an industrial suburb of La Paz, the Bolivian capital," he writes. "The rivers, visible between banks of totoras — Titicaca's typical reeds — carry along heavy and putrid water. They've spawned endemic pollution, particularly alarming when we consider that this ‘small lake' is on average less than 10 meters deep. But since last April, a new phenomenon alerted lakeside residents. Huge patches of green algae appeared, drifted and decomposed, giving off an unbearable stench. Much of the fauna, deprived of oxygen, did not survive, including renowned giant Titicaca water frogs studied by the great French underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau in the 1970s."

Read the full article, Symbol Of Andean Purity, Lake Titicaca Risks Environmental Nightmare.


SAUDI-LED GROUP STRIKES YEMEN CAPITAL

The Saudi-led coalition against Yemen's Houthi movement launched airstrikes throughout the country's capital of Sanaa today, in what witnesses quoted by Reuters have described as the fiercest series of attacks on the city in over five months of war. The strikes reportedly hit military bases and the homes of political leaders linked to the Houthi rebels. The coalition has been stepping up airstrikes and troop deployment in the region since a Houthi missile killed at least 60 coalition troops last week.


MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



RUSSIA BUILDS BASE NEAR UKRAINE BORDER

Russia has begun construction of a huge military base housing ammunition depots and barracks for several thousand soldiers near the Ukrainian border, a project that suggests the Kremlin is digging in for a prolonged standoff with Kiev, Reuters reports.


LEBANON TO RESUME TRASH DISPOSAL

The Lebanese government approved a plan Wednesday to end the garbage disposal crisis that has been causing major demonstrations in and around Beirut, The Daily Star reports. Agriculture Minister Akram Chehayeb said the plan would transfer garbage management responsibilities to municipalities, which demonstrators demanded.


A HARD-KNOCK LIFE

Susanne Klatten, Germany's richest woman and a major BMW shareholder, said in an interview with Stern magazine that she regards wealth as "a burden." It's a dog's world for the 1%.

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Society

NFTs Are Not Dead — They May Be Coming Soon To A Theater Near You

Despite turbulence in the crypto market, NFT advocates think the digital objects could revolutionize how films and television series are financed and produced.

NFTs Are Not Dead — They May Be Coming Soon To A Theater Near You

Mark Warshaw's series, The Bureau of Magical Things

Fabio Benedetti Valentini

PARIS — Advocates of a "participatory internet" (or Web 3.0) dream of an NFT future for cinematic works and animated films, despite the fact that Bitcoin (and cryptocurrency generally) is struggling. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are digital assets based on blockchain technology.

NFT converts say that digital objects could profoundly change the link between the general public and creators of cinematic content by revolutionizing the way animated films and TV series are financed. Even if, by their own admission, none of the experiments currently underway have so far amounted to much.

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