No peace deal in Syria without US role, opposition says — Ongoing peace talks stalled — The United States has a “moral duty”

March 28, 2017

AFP

© POOL/AFP/File / by Layal ABOU RAHAL | Syrian main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) chief negotiator Mohamad Sabra (R) and leader Nasr al-Hariri arrive for a meeting with UN Special Envoy during Syria peace talks in Geneva on February 27, 2017
GENEVA (AFP) – A political deal to end the Syrian conflict is not possible without a strong US role, the opposition’s chief negotiator told AFP, warning that Washington’s absence was threatening ongoing peace talks.

Lead negotiator for the main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Mohamad Sabra, said in an interview late Monday that the UN-backed talks in Geneva remained “stalled”.

“There can be no real and viable political solution without the presence of the Americans,” he said.

The United States has a “moral duty” to throw its weight behind efforts to end the six-year conflict, he added.

Years of diplomatic initiatives have failed to end the war, which has killed more than 320,000 people and displaced millions since it started in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Washington has long been the biggest backer of the Syrian opposition, but it appears to be putting far less diplomatic muscle towards the rebel cause since President Donald Trump came to power in January.

Two UN-backed taskforces co-chaired by the United States and Russia and aimed at securing ceasefires and access for humanitarian aid in Syria seem to be having less impact.

At the same time, regime supporters Russia and Iran along with rebel-backer Turkey have been pushing separate negotiations in Astana since January after gains on the ground by Damascus turned the tables in the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was on Tuesday set to host his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani for talks that are being closely watched for signs of their next moves in Syria.

Closer cooperation between the two Syrian regime supporters will likely go even further in marginalising US influence in the peace process.

– ‘No partner’ –

While urging Washington to be more fully engaged in the peace process, Sabra warned that a deal would be impossible “if the Russians do not withdraw their (military) support for the regime.”

Russia’s entry into the conflict in September 2015 — when it began launching air strikes to shore up Assad’s forces — played a significant role in turning the tide for the Syrian regime.

The HNC delegation was expected to meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Genady Gatilov on Wednesday, after he met with the government delegation on Tuesday.

In the interview, Sabra also reiterated the HNC’s often-repeated claim that the Syrian government delegation, headed by the country’s ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari, was “not seriously involved” in the talks.

“Until now, we don’t have a partner in these negotiations,” he insisted.

His comments came amid a fifth round of negotiations in Geneva being mediated by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura which have remained clouded by persistent violence on the ground and deadlock over the country’s political future.

The government has ruled out discussing Assad’s possible departure, while the HNC says it will refuse any deal that leaves him in power.

Sabra insisted that “once the transitional government is formed,” Assad’s regime would end, and he “and his clique will be referred to a fair trial” for their crimes.

by Layal ABOU RAHAL
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China Drifts Into a U.S. Vacuum in Asia — “They are really alarmed about Trump.”

March 28, 2017

Beijing builds its influence in Asia by default, not design, as Trump retreats

A staff member prepares for an annual gathering last week of Asia’s elite in Boao on the Chinese island of Hainan.

A staff member prepares for an annual gathering last week of Asia’s elite in Boao on the Chinese island of Hainan. PHOTO: ZUMA PRESS

BOAO, China—For more than half a century, Washington has set the economic agenda for the Asia-Pacific, where global wealth, technology and military power are concentrating.

Today, increasingly, Beijing does.

That’s not because its economic model is so widely admired; Deng Xiaoping’s “open door” to global trade and investment is creaking shut under current President Xi Jinping, a hard-line nationalist.

Nor does the country’s political system, brutally focused on self-preservation, have much appeal.

China isn’t even well liked. Domestic repression and trade mercantilism combine these days with a prickly assertiveness overseas. A recent opinion poll in South Korea, the latest target of Beijing’s economic bullying, shows the country has even less affection for its close neighbor than Japan, its historical archenemy.

Rather, China’s advance is being enabled by a factor that few countries in Asia could have foreseen, not even China itself: an American retreat.

With no obvious alternatives, Beijing is filling a vacuum that is rapidly expanding in the early days of the Trump presidency.

But while China dominates its region with the sheer size of its economy, it struggles to lead—or inspire.

Years in the making, the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership was the core of the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia, the product of compromises hammered out in capitals from Tokyo to Canberra, an ambitious—perhaps the last—U.S. effort to shape the destiny of a region that stands at the crossroads of every global trend from fashion to “fintech” and clean energy.

In repudiating that deal, President Donald Trump has empowered China.

The new U.S. administration, says Goh Chok Tong, the former Singapore prime minister, “has taken a step backward.”

At an annual gathering of Asian power brokers on China’s tropical Hainan Island last week, Mr. Goh, one of the region’s most respected elder statesmen, posed an anxious question: “Who will step into the shoes of the U.S. to make sure that we have free trade?”

It is hard for Chinese politicians to sound credible when they proclaim the virtues of globalization—the free flow of ideas, technologies and cultures across borders—from the battlements of the “Great Firewall,” the most extensive barrier in all of cyberspace.

Instead of a U.S.-inspired free-trade deal focused on the digital economy, intellectual property, the environment and labor standards—what Hillary Clinton called the “gold standard,” before turning against it as presidential candidate—China is pushing a lower-grade alternative.

Yet, despite the shortcomings of this incremental effort, known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Asian economies are aligning around it because there’s no better deal on the table.

Neighbors are skeptical that China can build consensus across the region. “Leadership takes humility, humor and flexibility,” says Thomas Lembong, the chairman of the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board, a government agency that seeks to attract foreign investors to the country.

In Mr. Lembong’s view, Asia is headed into a more anarchic future dominated by leaders with strong mandates like India’s Narendra Modi or Japan’s Shinzo Abe. It will be a case of “everybody negotiating with everybody else,” he says. “Some will take the reform route; others will do the reverse and turn protectionist and regressive.”

For now, the main danger is that Mr. Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership will morph into Mr. Trump’s Trans-Pacific trade war.

Mr. Trump has threatened to impose 45% import tariffs on Chinese imports. If he triggers such an action, the effects will ricochet around the entire Asia-Pacific manufacturing supply chain.

A common view in Asia is that the success that the U.S. did so much to encourage is now feeding a backlash.

Having adopted Washington’s economic prescriptions for growth—lower tariff barriers, expansion of market forces and investment in infrastructure —the region has become a lightning rod for the populist resentments of an America still grappling with the effects of the 2008 financial crisis.

The White House chief strategist Steve Bannon laments that “the globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia.”

“The issue now is about Americans looking to not get f—ed over,” he told the Hollywood Reporter.

On the one hand, this kind of rhetoric scares the Chinese leadership. “There is deep anxiety,” says Fred Hu, chairman of Primavera Capital Group, a China-based global investment firm, who has advised the Chinese government on financial reform. “They are really alarmed about Trump.”

The angst is shared in a region that feels unmoored as it steadily drifts into Beijing’s orbit, as much by default as by design.

Write to Andrew Browne at andrew.browne@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-drifts-into-a-u-s-vacuum-in-asia-1490695181?tesla=y&mod=e2fb

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Elon Musk’s new brain-computer project

March 28, 2017

AFP

© GETTY/AFP/File | Elon Musk, pictured in 2015, referenced a new company called Neuralink in a tweet, promising to elaborate in a blog post
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk hinted Tuesday that he is working on a new startup focusing on brain-computer interface, part of his vision to help humans keep up with machines.

Musk, the founder of electric carmaker Telsa and exploration firm SpaceX, referenced the new company called Neuralink in a tweet, a day after a Wall Street Journal report saying the company had been formed.

Musk’s tweet said he would elaborate his plans in a blog post soon.

Tesla and SpaceX founder launching Neuralink to explore technology of implanting tiny electrodes into the brain

Elon Musk speaks at a press conference during the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico on September 27, 2016.
Musk said a ‘merger of biological intelligence and machine intelligence’ would be necessary for humans to compete with machines. Photograph: Hector Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images

“Long Neuralink piece coming out on (blog platform) @waitbutwhy in about a week. Difficult to dedicate the time, but existential risk is too high not to,” Musk tweeted.

The Journal reported that the new startup will focus on “neural lace” technology which involves implanting tiny brain electrodes capable of uploading and downloading thoughts.

The report said Musk has taken an active role setting up the company and may play a “significant leadership role” even as he runs two other large companies.

Musk has previously spoken about the idea of neural lacing, claiming it can magnify people’s brain power by linking them directly to computing capabilities.

Considered one of Silicon Valley’s most notable visionaries, Musk is the force behind Tesla, part of an effort to move the automotive industry away from fossil fuels to electric propulsion.

He also runs SpaceX, maker and launcher of rockets and spacecraft, which recently announced plans to send two private citizens around the Moon in what would mark the farthest humans have ever traveled to deep space since the 1970s.

Musk lives in Los Angeles and holds US, Canadian and South African citizenship.

Related:

See also:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/28/elon-musk-merge-brains-computers-neuralink

Top Democrats call for Devin Nunes to recuse himself from Trump-Russia inquiry — Devin Nunes Cancels House Intelligence Committee Meetings

March 28, 2017

and in New York and in Washington

Nancy Pelosi joined Adam Schiff in demanding Nunes step aside from inquiry into 2016 election interference ‘in interest of a fair and impartial investigation’

Devin Nunes speaks to reporters outside the White House.
Devin Nunes speaks to reporters outside the White House. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Leading Democrats have escalated the controversy over the erratic behavior of Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, calling on him to recuse himself from the investigation into alleged links between the president’s associates and Russia.

Both Adam Schiff, Nunes’ counterpart on the committee, and Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, demanded that he step aside from the ongoing Russia affair that has become an enduring sore for the young Trump administration.

The intervention of senior Democrats takes the dispute to a new level of intensity, raising the prospect of the governing party being forced to make a second humiliating concession after US attorney general Jeff Sessions was forced this month to stand back from all Russian inquiries after he failed to disclose meetings with Moscow’s ambassador to Washington.

Schiff was the first to wade into the fray on Monday night, calling on Nunes to recuse himself in the wake of mounting controversy about his handling of the Russian inquiry. The ranking Democrat on the committee drew a parallel with the Sessions recusal and said in a statement: “I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman.”

Less than an hour later, Pelosi came out with a similarly weighed statement, saying that her equivalent in the House, Paul Ryan, should lean on Nunes to make him stand aside. “Speaker Ryan must insist that chairman Nunes at least recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation immediately. That leadership is long overdue.”

The top Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, also added his voice to the growing chorus for a Nunes recusal. The senator accused the Republican chairman of being “more interested in protecting the president than in seeking the truth. You cannot have the person in charge of an impartial investigation be partial to one side.”

The open partisan split within the powerful intelligence committee came as Schiff complained that members of the panel continue to wait for Nunes to present them with documents ostensibly relating to intelligence collected on Trump days after he had briefed the president. The embattled committee chairman raised further questions when he said he had no choice under classification rules except to view the sensitive intelligence at the White House, a statement likely to intensify speculation that the Trump administration fed Nunes the material.

The source who made the materials available to Nunes “could not simply put the documents in a backpack and walk them over to the House intelligence committee space”, Nunes’ office said on Monday.

In his statement on Monday night, Schiff tore into the chairman’s explanation. “There was no legitimate justification for bringing that information to the White House instead of the committee,” he said, adding: “That it was obtained at the White House makes this departure all the more concerning.”

Adam Schiff.
Adam Schiff. Photograph: J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Further pressure on Nunes to stand down from the Russian investigation came from the top Democrat on the CIA subcommittee of the House intelligence committee, Eric Swalwell. The chairman should “no longer be anywhere near this investigation, let alone leading it”, he said.

Swalwell added that “too many people in the White House and administration, and now, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, have betrayed their duty to conduct an independent, bipartisan inquiry into the Trump team’s ties with Russia”.

Spicer repeatedly refused to offer any details about why Nunes was on the White House grounds and whom the California congressman was meeting with. “I’m not going to get into who he met with or why,” he said, while insisting the White House “was not concerned” over the possibility of classified information being leaked to Nunes.

Nunes, a member of Trump’s national security transition team, has come under sustained criticism that he is obstructing a high-profile investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia that he is running – a charge likely to intensify over the coming days.

On Wednesday, he stunned Washington by suggesting that communications from Trump’s associates were incidentally collected as part of “lawful” surveillance, with their identities insufficiently masked.

Contradicting testimony from the FBI and NSA directors, Trump claimed Nunes’ remarks provided a modicum of vindication for the president’s baseless claim that Obama placed Trump Tower under surveillance, something even Nunes continues to deny. Nunes has said the intelligence collection that “alarmed” him did not concern Russia.

Before making his statement calling for Nunes’ recusal, Schiff had publicly doubted the impartiality of the House inquiry. Those concerns escalated after Nunes abruptly canceled a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday into the Trump-Russia question.

Nunes has dodged questions, primarily from CNN, that his source came from the White House, and intimated that whistleblowers from the intelligence agencies brought the surveillance documents to him. Nunes told Bloomberg View on Monday that his source was an intelligence official and not a White House staffer.

But Nunes’ office has acknowledged that the chairman viewed whatever surveillance documents he has acquired on the White House grounds, apparently at the Eisenhower executive office building, where the national security council staff works.

Viewing the documents at the White House came under immediate scrutiny, since the House committee possesses secure facilities where it frequently accesses classified information as part of its routine responsibilities.

But Jack Langer, Nunes’ spokesman, told the Guardian that Nunes saw at the White House “executive branch documents” that Congress does not have.

“The White House grounds was the best location to safeguard the proper chain of custody and classification of these documents, so the chairman could view them in a legal way,” Langer said.

It remained unclear why, if Nunes’ source did not originate from the White House, viewing the documents had to occur at the White House complex. His explanation to Bloomberg was that the White House was the closest available location to access a classified computer network hived off from Congress. Nunes appears not to have paid visits to intelligence agency locations where the information would be accessible, including the offices of the director of national intelligence, FBI and NSA.

Langer did not immediately respond to a follow-up question about whether Nunes had in effect confirmed that his source for the documents came from the White House itself.

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/27/devin-nunes-white-house-intelligence-source-trump

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Devin Nunes Cancels House Intelligence Committee Meetings Amid Growing Questions

The chairman is in hot water.

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03/28/2017 09:13 am ET

WASHINGTON ― Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Tuesday abruptly canceled all House Intelligence Committee meetings scheduled for this week, according to committee members, raising further questions on whether its investigation into ties between President Donald Trump’s administration and Russia can proceed.

“Not only [has] this investigation sort of had a shadow cast on it, but the committee has been put into suspended animation,” committee member Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) said on MSNBC, confirming previous reports that Nunes, the committee chair, had canceled the meetings.

The move comes amid growing scrutiny over whether Nunes can lead an independent investigation into ties between Trump’s team and Russian officials.

Nunes claimed last week that members of the president’s team were subject to “incidental” surveillance. One day before making these allegations, however, he met with a source on White House grounds. Nunes said he needed a secure location to view sensitive information, but the visit raised further doubts about the transparency of the investigation and whether Nunes is coordinating with the White House.

After holding a press conference about his findings, Nunes also briefed Trump, whose team is under FBI investigation for alleged ties to Russian officials who may have interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.

Himes said Tuesday that Nunes had not shared his information with the rest of the committee.

“No member of the committee, Republican or Democrat, has seen, after a full week, this stuff that caused Nunes to make himself famous nationally,” Himes said Tuesday. “Not a single member of the committee. I don’t even think anybody on his own staff has any idea what caused him to do this sort of musical chairs thing with the White House.”

Democrats have called for Nunes, who served on Trump’s transition team, to recuse himself from the investigation or even to be replaced as head of the committee, with some speculating that the chairman wants to protect Trump.

“Chairman Nunes is falling down on the job and seems to be more interested in protecting the president than in seeking the truth,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday.

Several Democratic members of the committee said Nunes had lost their trust.

“In the interest of a fair and impartial investigation, whose results will be respected by the public, the Chairman’s recusal is more than warranted,” the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), said Monday.

I think that the writing is on the wall. It might make a good spy novel. It doesn’t make a good investigation.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.)

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), another member of the committee, said Nunes’ White House meeting was “the last straw.” She suggested he had “colluded in a desperate attempt to salvage the president’s credibility, after the president’s bogus wiretapping claims were debunked by his own FBI director.”

She told CNN on Tuesday that she believes “there is an effort under way to shut this committee down, by the president.”

“I don’t think he can just recuse himself and still chair the committee,” Speier said of Nunes. “I think that the writing is on the wall. It might make a good spy novel. It doesn’t make a good investigation.”

But Nunes said in interviews Monday night that he has no intention of stepping down.

“I’m sure the Democrats do want me to quit because they know that I’m quite effective at getting to the bottom of things,” he told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/devin-nunes-trump-intelligence-committee_us_58da50dbe4b00f68a5caa9cd

Leaders of 2014 protest in Hong Kong to face charges — Freedom of expression, right to peaceful assembly “under a sustained attack” in Hong Kong

March 28, 2017

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Image may contain: 2 people, people on stage

Occupy Central founders (from left) Chan Kin Man, Benny Tai and Chu Yiu Ming kicking off the movement in Hong Kong on Aug 31, 2014.PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG • Police have cracked down on Hong Kong democracy activists, saying they would be charged over the Umbrella Movement mass protest, a day after a pro-Beijing candidate was chosen as the city’s new leader.

The move yesterday provoked anger and disbelief among democrats, and heightened political tension in the Chinese-ruled city.

Former chief secretary Carrie Lam was on Sunday chosen by a 1,200-person committee to lead the city. She pledged in her victory speech to bridge political divisions that have hindered policymaking and legislative work.

 Carrie Lam met Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Monday morning. Photo: Handout

Yet, less than 24 hours later, several students and academics who took part in the 2014 pro-democracy movement, also known as Occupy Central, said they received phone calls from the police informing them that they faced criminal charges.

Rights group Amnesty International said the police charges showed that the city’s freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly were “under a sustained attack”.

All nine activists reported to Wan Chai police station last night, with around 200 supporters gathering outside.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said she received a call from the police yesterday morning, telling her she would be charged with causing a public nuisance, with a maximum sentence of seven years.

“They said it was related to the ‘illegal occupation’ of 2014,” she said, describing it as a “death kiss” from incumbent Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying, who will hand over the reins to Mrs Lam on July 1.

Ms Chan said she was arrested at the end of the protests, but had never been charged.

The police did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Asked by reporters about the timing, Mrs Lam said she could not intervene with prosecutions carried out by the administration of Mr Leung, who protesters say ordered the firing of tear gas on them in 2014.

“I made it very clear that I want to unite society and bridge the divide that has been causing us concern, but all these actions should not compromise the rule of law in Hong Kong and also the independent prosecution process that I have just mentioned,” said Mrs Lam.

Mrs Lam met Mr Leung earlier yesterday. They shook hands and expressed confidence in a “smooth and effective” leadership transition.

The next few months will be critical for them, with Chinese President Xi Jinping expected to pay a visit on July 1 to celebrate Hong Kong’s 20th anniversary of the handover from British rule, with large protests expected.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Feeling forgetful after surgery? General anaesthetic ‘can damage the brain’, scientists warn

March 28, 2017

Image may contain: one or more people

  • Researchers tested the effects of oxygen deprivation of people climbing Everest
  • Mental activity of participants significantly declined for as long as 11 days
  • This study might explain why people struggle to go back to work after surgery

Surgery that involves taking anaesthetic might damage your brain for as long as 11 days, according to a landmark new study.

Researchers tested the mental damage of oxygen deprivation as a result of general anaesthetic in an experiment which involved testing mountaineers climbing Everest.

They found the cognitive ability of participants declined for a sustained period of time after they came down from the mountain.

Experts believe this may explain why so many people have difficulty returning to work after a serious operation.

The research from City, University of London and University College London might explain why so many people have difficulty returning to work after a serious operation (stock)

The research from City, University of London and University College London might explain why so many people have difficulty returning to work after a serious operation (stock)

WHAT DID THEY DO?

Participants took a neuropsychological (NP) test assessing memory, language and attention.

They did this at various different altitudes – sea level; 3,500 metres  at Namche Bazaar; 5,300 metres at Everest Base Camp and 1,300 metres at Kathmandu.

There was also a control group who were tested at sea level over the same period of time.

The Reliable Change Index (RCH) was used to calculate how their neuropsychological functions changed over the testing period.

The effects of oxygen deprivation on the brain after climbing Everest were still present 11 days later when the climbers came back to Kathmandu.

A side effect of taking anaesthetic is hypoxic brain damage which is caused by inadequate oxygen supply during the operation.

Symptoms, which affect one in five people, include wheezing, high blood pressure and confusion.

However, this research found the brain damage could be much more prolonged than previously thought and last for several days.

The team used mountaineers to test the effect of oxygen starvation because it was unethical to intentionally deprive people of oxygen during an operation.

Research from City, University of London and University College London showed that there was a significant decline in mental activity for participants on their way down from the Everest peak, where there is one third the level of oxygen than at sea level.

After the ascent, the 198 climbers that were tested failed nearly 20 per cent of tests which they could have done before climbing the mountain, writes the Telegraph.

The Reliable Change Index (RCI) calculated the changes in cognition and psychological function during and after oxygen starvation, according to the paper published in Plos ONE.

Participants took a neuropsychological (NP) test assessing memory, language and attention.

The effects of oxygen deprivation on the brain after climbing Everest were still present 11 days later when the climbers came back to Kathmandu (stock)  

The effects of oxygen deprivation on the brain after climbing Everest were still present 11 days later when the climbers came back to Kathmandu (stock)

TESTING OXYGEN DEPRIVATION

The team used mountaineers to test the effect of oxygen starvation on the brain during surgery because it was unethical to intentionally deprive people of oxygen during an operation.

A side effect of taking anaesthetic is hypoxic brain damage which is caused by inadequate oxygen supply during the operation.

As many as one in five people have hypoxic brain damage and symptoms include wheezing, high blood pressure and confusion.

However, this research found that the brain damage could be much more prolonged than previously thought and last for several days after.

They did this at various different altitudes – sea level; 3,500 metres  at Namche Bazaar; 5,300 metres at Everest Base Camp and 1,300 metres at Kathmandu.

There was also a control group who were tested at sea level over the same period of time.

The effects of oxygen deprivation on the brain after climbing Everest were still present 11 days later when the climbers came back to Kathmandu.

The fact that oxygen deprivation has such a prolonged impact on the brain might explain why more people die coming down Everest than going up.

Co-author Professor Stanton Newman, Dean of the School of Health Sciences at City believes that a similar thing might occur after taking anaesthetic for surgery.

‘We know that a number of people who go back to work after surgery and find that they have cognitive problems but it was unclear what was causing it’, he told the Telegraph.

‘We also noticed that the declines happened even when people were given oxygen and their oxygen levels returned to normal.’

The volunteers were 60 per cent male and had an average age of 45.

Participants for the study were recruited from the general public. All volunteers were over 18, fluent English speakers, lowland residents and non-professional trekkers.

‘By taking otherwise healthy individuals to Everest Base Camp our study has provided insight into how low oxygen environments impact on the human brain and body,’ said Dr Newman.

‘We hope this study will give further insight into how we can respond to hypoxia-related cognitive impairment in clinical settings, particularly in older patients, in order to guide therapy and thereby minimise the magnitude and duration of impairment.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-4355868/Operations-involving-anaesthetic-cause-brain-damage.html#ixzz4cd5hSDe6
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Dick Cheney says Russia’s U.S. election interference could be seen as ‘an act of war’ and predicts more Moscow cyber-meddling

March 28, 2017

Image may contain: night

  • Former vice president slammed Moscow during New Delhi speech for meddling in U.S. elections
  • ‘In some quarters, that would be considered an act of war,’ Cheney said
  • Vladimir Putin ‘has designs on the Baltics. He wanted Crimea and he took it. And he is trying to undermine NATO,’ he warned
  • Also called Russian cyber interference ‘the kind of conduct and activity that we’ll see going forward’

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has criticized Russia’s alleged interference in the U.S. presidential election, calling it a hostile act.

‘There was a very serious effort made by Mr. Putin and his government, his organization, to interfere in major ways with our basic fundamental democratic process,’ Cheney said during a speech Monday at a conference in New Delhi.

‘In some quarters, that would be considered an act of war,’ he added.

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday during a speech in India that Russia's election meddling could be seen as 'an act of war'

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday during a speech in India that Russia’s election meddling could be seen as ‘an act of war’

Vladimir Putin 'has designs on the Baltics. He wanted Crimea and he took it. And he is trying to undermine NATO,' Cheney warned

Vladimir Putin ‘has designs on the Baltics. He wanted Crimea and he took it. And he is trying to undermine NATO,’ Cheney warned

Cheney said the Cold War was long over but Putin is on a course to re-establish Russian power following the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

‘Putin has aspirations of trying to correct what he sees as a disaster. He has designs on the Baltics. He wanted Crimea and he took it. And he is trying to undermine NATO,’ Cheney said.

Russian cyber interference is ‘the kind of conduct and activity that we’ll see going forward,’ he said.

But he also warned that Russia should not ‘underestimate the weight that we as Americans assign at Russia’s attempts to interfere in our democratic processes.’

Cheney’s accusation comes at a time when both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees are investigating possible Russian interference in the election that brought President Donald Trump to power.

Among the other threats faced by the United States, Cheney listed an aggressive China, North Korea, Iran and the terror threat posed by the Islamic State group.

Cheney described North Korea as the 'most dangerous part of the world with an unpredictable head of government,' Kim Jong-un

Cheney described North Korea as the ‘most dangerous part of the world with an unpredictable head of government,’ Kim Jong-un

He described North Korea as the ‘most dangerous part of the world with an unpredictable head of government’ who is developing nuclear warheads and missiles to add to his stockpile.

Cheney said these threats come at a time when the U.S. military is at a ‘significantly diminished level’ following eight years of budget cuts under the Obama administration.

The U.S. budget debate in the coming weeks will focus on how to allocate more funds to rebuild the military and restore the relationships that the United States had with its allies and adversaries in the past, he said.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4356446/Cheney-blasts-Russias-alleged-interference-US-election.html#ixzz4cd39Psh9
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Still Think Putin is America’s Friend? Russia warns of nuclear war unless US backs down over missiles in Europe — Ready to close Black Sea

March 28, 2017

Russia has warned of nuclear war if US missiles carry on being shipped into Europe.

 

Pentagon missiles in Europe and warships patrolling Russia’s borders could lead to nuclear war, warned Vladimir Putin’s military bosses.The anti-ballistic missile system (ABM) is provoking a “new arms race” and scuppers Russia’s ability to defend itself from a nuke strike, they said.Russian military bosses warned the ABM “lowers the threshold for use of nuclear weapons” and increases the risk of “sudden nuclear attack”.

“The presence of the global ABM system lowers the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons, because it gives the US the illusion of impunity for using strategic offensive weapons from under the protection of the ABM ‘umbrella,’” said Viktor Poznikhir, top brass for the Russian general staff.
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He added: “The ABM shield is a symbol of the build-up of rocket forces in the world and a trigger for a new arms race.”

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Scientists previously warned the US’s new nuclear weapons could force Putin’s hand into a nuclear conflict.

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Russian leader Vladimir PutinGETTYVLADIMIR PUTIN: US President Donald Trump hopes to improve relations with Russia

Trump labels reports of his ties with Russia “fake news”

Poznikhir said: “The presence of American ABM sites in Europe and ABM-capable ships in the seas and oceans close to Russia’s territory creates a powerful clandestine potential for delivering a surprise nuclear missile strike against Russia.”US attempts to trump Russia and China are heighting the risk of nuclear war, the Kremlin warned.The stark warning came at a nuclear disarmament conference in Geneva.

Trump: ‘Vladimir Putin is a better leader than Barack Obama’

Poznikhir said the US missile shield “narrows down the opportunity for nuclear reduction dialogue”.He said the Pentagon is developing the missile system to face Iran and North Korea, but ignoring objections raised by Russia.Russia warns the US will have 1,000 missiles at its fingertips which could pose a threat to them by 2020.

http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/600613/Russia-Nuclear-War-US-Missiles-World-3-Vladimir-Putin-Donald-Trump-ABM-Shield-China-ICBMs

Hungary ready to begin detaining asylum-seekers in shipping-container camps

March 28, 2017

Every asylum seeker in Hungary, except for young children, will be housed in shipping container camps along the border. The camps have been condemned by rights groups.

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Hungary was due to begin detaining asylum-seekers in shipping-container camps on its southern border with Serbia on Tuesday.

Asylum-seekers entering Hungary as well as those already in the country will be confined in camps while their applications are processed.

A statement by the interior ministry said the country’s prison service installed 324 shipping container homes at two camps.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungary

“The border protection agencies are fully prepared for the entry into force of the reinforced legal border closure on March 28,” said a statement by the interior ministry.

“The purpose of the restrictions is to prevent migrants with an unclear status from moving freely around the territory of the country and the European Union, and to thereby reduce the security risk of migration,” the statement said.

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Refugees in Belgrade

Only unaccompanied children under the age of 14 were exempted from mandatory detention in the border camps.

Detainees would receive access to beds, bedding, personal hygiene packages, lockers, continuous hot water, toilets, mass media and telecommunication equipment and religious rooms, according to the statement.

They would receive three meals a day (five meals a day for children under the age of 14) and fruit and dairy products for expectant mothers, mothers with young children and children under the age of 14 years, according to the statement.

The United Nations and rights groups such as Amnesty International condemned Hungary for failing to meet Hungary’s international obligations to asylum-seekers when it passed a law earlier this month that led to the camps’ development.

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Hungary’s prime minister says tough border policies are justified given fears of Turkey reneging on a deal to stop the flow of asylum seekers

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who took a hard-line anti-immigration stance, said the bill was in response to recent terror attacks in Europe carried out by migrants.

Hungary once detained all asylum applicants, but ended the practice in 2013 under pressure from Brussels, the UN refugee agency and the European Court of Human Rights.

The UNHCR said systematic detention would “have a terrible physical and psychological impact on women, children and men who have already greatly suffered”.

Refugee rights group the Hungarian Helsinki Committee said 400 asylum-seekers housed in the country’s internal camp network faced relocation to the border camps.

A second “smart fence” complete with night cameras, heat and movement sensors, and multilingual megaphones warning against crossing the barrier was also under construction, with completion scheduled by May.

aw/ (AFP)

http://www.dw.com/en/hungary-opens-shipping-container-camp-for-refugees/a-38152515

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Belgrade refugee camp — Three indoor showers are provided in Belgrade’s Refugee Aid Miksaliste center, but priority’s given to those with confirmed cases of scabies or body lice

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One in ten German firms to cut UK investments — German firms believe Brexit “will seriously damage business with the United Kingdom”

March 28, 2017

AFP

© AFP | One in ten German firms will pull British investments as Brexit looms, a survey finds
FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) – One in ten German firms present in Britain plans to stop investing in the island nation even before it definitively leaves the European Union, an industry group survey published Tuesday found.

German firms believe Brexit “will seriously damage business with the United Kingdom,” said Eric Schweitzer, president of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), which surveyed 2,200 internationally active companies.

Some nine percent of firms who have invested in the UK plan to shift investments elsewhere, with Germany and the rest of the EU the top choices.

Britain is the third-biggest export market for Germany after the United States and France, buying some 86 billion euros of goods in 2016.

The DIHK estimates some 750,000 German jobs are dependent on exports to Britain.

Meanwhile, 2,500 German firms active in the UK have created some 400,000 jobs, compared with around 220,000 people in Germany employed by 1,200 British firms.

Nothing will formally change about economic relations between Britain and the 27 remaining EU countries until the end of two-year exit talks — expected to be launched Wednesday by Prime Minister Theresa May.

But while companies have a slightly positive view of present business between the UK and Germany, some 40 percent expect trade to get worse in the coming months.

German exports to Britain fell by 3.5 percent last year compared with 2015, with a particularly strong decrease in the six months after the June referendum on quitting the EU.

Smaller firms with revenues of between 10 million euros and 50 million euros per year and those who import goods from Britain are most pessimistic, with the latter group fearing disruption to their supply chains and increased customs bureaucracy at borders.

Looking ahead to the talks between London and Brussels, almost nine out of 10 firms surveyed hope that free movement of goods between Britain and the EU will be upheld once Britain is out of the bloc’s single market.

The next fondest hope of German firms was for no increase in bureaucracy, at 83 percent, while 67 percent will look for free movement of capital to be maintained.

Around half of firms would prefer free movement of people between the EU and UK to continue after Brexit.

“There should be as few limitations to movement of goods and as little additional bureaucracy as possible,” DIHK chief Schweitzer said.

But “too many concessions by the EU in the negotiations must not endanger the single market,” he went on — alluding to fears that allowing Britain to “cherry-pick” benefits of membership in the economic bloc could undermine its members’ unity.

“That would be an even bigger problem for our companies set up abroad,” he added.