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Migrant Tragedies, Facebook Billion, Awesomesauce

Migrant Tragedies, Facebook Billion, Awesomesauce


More than 200 people are feared to have drowned off the Libyan coast after two boats sank early Thursday, the BBC reports. The Libyan coast guard said it had rescued some 200 from the two separate boats carrying some 450 people in total . The victims are said to include people from Syria, Bangladesh and several sub-Saharan African countries.

  • The UN refugee agency said today that 300,000 refugees and migrants had already crossed the Mediterranean this year, compared to 219,000 for the whole of 2014. More than 2,500 have died trying to reach Europe, the UNHCR said.
  • News of this latest migrant sea tragedy comes after officials in Austria discovered 71 people who had suffocated to death in a truck in a failed attempt to immigrate into Europe. For more, see our Extra! feature.

    Photo: Expa/ Michael Gruber/UPPA/ZUMA


Venezuela and Colombia have recalled their ambassadors amid growing tensions between the two countries following a smuggler attack last Friday in western Venezuela that left three Venezuelan troops and a civilian injured, El Universal reports. Since then, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has closed the border and started to deport hundreds of Colombians living in Venezuela. But according to Colombian newspaper El Espectador, thousands more are fleeing the country to return to Colombia, crossing the Tachira river that separates the two countries, before the Venezuelan National Guard reaches them.


Asian stocks rallied for a second consecutive day, following strong gains in the U.S. and in China yesterday after a dismal start of the week, Reuters reports. The Shanghai Composite index soared by 4.8%, but shares still ended the week 7.8% lower than they started on "Black Monday." Crude oil prices also continued to rise after their biggest one-day rally in six years yesterday.


On Aug. 28, 52 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. "had a dream." Get ready for your 57-second shot of history.


Facebook has reported that a record 1 billion people used the social network on a single day for the first time. The milestone reached Monday means almost one in seven people on the planet logged on to the website on the same day. "It's just the beginning of connecting the whole world," Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg declared.


Swiss food giant Nestlé is being sued in the U.S. over allegations that its Fancy Feast cat food contains fish from a Thai supplier that uses slave labor. "By hiding this from public view, Nestlé has effectively tricked millions of consumers into supporting and encouraging slave labor on floating prisons," Steve Berman, a lawyer for the four plaintiffs, said after filing the class action in Los Angeles federal court. Read more from Bloomberg.


With ISIS terror reigning in Palmyra, where treasured Roman ruins are at risk, Le Temps' Boris Mabillard reflects on a fascinating — if less ancient part — of its history: "This is the Zenobia Cham Palace Hotel, named after the queen who ruled the city for a short time from the year 267, following her husband's assassination. Legend has it that Zenobia, the ‘Warrior Queen,' defied Rome by striking her own coins. The single-story hotel, built in 1924, is located along the original site of ancient Palmyra and the building bears the same grey, yellow and ochre colors as the famous ruins. A small colonial-style parapet is the only thing separating the terrace, where a few palm trees provide shade, from the vast fields of legendary ruin. A magical perspective on the iconic Temple of Bel, the agora, the old gates, the Great Colonnade."

Read the full article, Seduction And Sedition Haunt A Different Palmyra Landmark.


The hedge funds holding part of Ukraine's foreign debt have agreed to cut 20% of the $18 billion owned by Kiev, a move that the country's Finance Minister described as a "win-win situation" despite seeking a 40% write off, The Guardian reports. The months-long war in eastern Ukraine has made an already tricky economic situation worse, sending the country's debt through the roof. As tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine remain high, Poland's defense minister Tomasz Siemoniak announced yesterday the eastern European country would host U.S. heavy weaponry from mid-2016.


"The rumor I'm trying to start right now is that Justin Gatlin paid him off," Usain Bolt joked after a cameraman on a Segway ran over a bolt (oh sweet irony), lost control of the scooter and swept the Jamaican champion off his feet, moments after he won the 200m final.



It's this time of year again, and an awesomesauce list of new words has just been added to Oxford Dictionaries. So try not to have a brain fart as you read this and don't rage-quit if you fail to understand this new lingo. We'd be butthurt.

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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