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Afghanistan: presidential rivals share power
A deal to form a government of national unity in Afghanistan has been signed at a ceremony in Kabul. It is ending a prolonged stand-off over disputed election results at a pivotal moment in the war-weary nation's history. Under the deal, Ashraf Ghani becomes president while runner-up Abdullah Abdullah nominates a CEO with powers similar to those of prime minister. They then stood and embraced each other.The final result of the bitterly contested poll is due to be announced. Both sides had accused the other of fraud following the election. RK
UK: Wife of British appeals to IS to release her husband
The wife of British hostage Alan Henning has called on "the people of the Islamic State to see it in their hearts to release my husband", describing him as a "peaceful, selfless man". Alan Henning, a Briton who volunteered to drive a humanitarian aid convoy to Syria for a Muslim charity, was captured 10 months ago and is in the hands of the IS group. In a statement released through Britain's Foreign Office, Barbara Henning urged his captors to "see it in their hearts to release my husband", given the circumstances in which he was in Syria. RK
Scottish Referendum: More devolution after no vote
David Cameron has today (Fri) welcomed Scotland's 55%-45% vote to stay within the UK while a defiant Alex Salmond has paid tribute to a 'triumph of democracy'. The 10.6 point margin in favour of not ending the 300 year union has set the wheels in motion for more devolved power to be handed to Scotland. Outside No 10 this morning David Cameron said: "The people of Scotland have spoken and it is a clear result. They have kept our country of four nations together and, like millions of other people, I am delighted. So now it is time for our United Kingdom to come together and to move forward. A vital part of that will be a balanced settlement, fair to people in Scotland and importantly to everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as well." ET
Global Population: 11bn in 2100
A new study has rejected the general belief that the population will peak at 9bn and gradual decline. The world’s population is now likely to grow ever-higher for the rest of the century, posing massive problems for food supplies, healthcare and social cohesion. The new research suggests there is a 70% chance that the population will rise continuously from 7bn today to 11bn in 2100. Prof Adrian Raftery, at the University of Washington, who led the international research team said, “There is now a strong argument that population should return to the top of the international agenda. Population is the driver of just about everything else and rapid population growth can exacerbate all kinds of challenges.” Sub-saharan Africa is set to be by far the fastest growing region. ET
Ebola: Sierra Leone shutdown
Millions of people have been confined to their homes in an effort to contain the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone. The three-day shut down will mean that most of the country's 6 million population will be forced to stay indoors. Health experts have criticised the shutdown, arguing that coercive measures to stem the epidemic could backfire and will be difficult to implement. Médecins sans Frontières, a medical charity, said lockdowns might drive people underground and could "jeopardise the trust between people and health providers". In a message broadcast on television and radio, Ernest Bai Koroma said: "These are extraordinary times and extraordinary times require extraordinary measures." ET
Scottish Independence: Say Yes For Scotland
British number one tennis player Andy Murray who previously said that he values being British more than people realise wrote tweeted, “Huge day for Scotland today! No campaign negativity last few days totally swayed my view on it. Excited to see the outcome. Let’s do this!” Alex Salmond is sure to be happy with such support from an influential figure like Murray. Meanwhile, US presidents, past and present, continue to urge Scots to vote no. In particular, Barack Obama has said a united Britain, as it stands has been a valuable ally for the USA and one he wants to keep. Today Scotland will choose whether to stay in the United Kingdom or break away. JM
Fiji Election: Military Ruler Wins
Fiji’s military ruler for the past eight years, Voreqe Bainimarama, today (Thur) appeared to win a decisive victory to become the south Pacific nation’s elected leader. With votes from three-fifths of polling stations counted, Fiji First party was ahead with 60% of the vote, while its closest rival, the Sodelpa party, was trailing with 27%. The 100 or so international election observers did not report any immediate problems by the time voting closed. Bainimarama focused on social programmes, increased infrastructure spending and careful cultivation of his image through media controls since 2006. Therefore he confidently said, “I’m not going to lose. I will win. You ask that question to the other party.” Human rights groups say Bainimarama has tortured prisoners and repressed opponents. JM
World Fantasy Award : Debate on Lovercraft’s Racism
Following the debate on Lovercraft’s fundamental racism the board of the World Fantasy awards, has said that it is “in discussion” about its winners’ statuette modelled on the late HP Lovecraft. Lovecraft was the creator of the Cthulhu mythos and a prolific writer of weird fiction. The writer was also the author of a poem which concludes with a description of black people as “a beast … in semi-human figure ... filled ... with vice”. The author Daniel José Older has launched a petition calling for the organisers of the prize to make the late African-American science fiction writer Octavia Butler the inspiration for the statue rather than Lovecraft. 2,500 signatories Including former winner Nnedi Okorafor have joined the cause. Older writes that while Lovecraft “did leave a lasting mark on speculative fiction, he was also an avowed racist and a terrible wordsmith and it’s time to stop co-signing his bigotry and move sci-fi/fantasy out of the past”. JM
Annual Report: UK Music Industry Triumph
According to an annual trade report, the British music industry contributed £3.8bn to the UK economy in 2013. The report indicates an overall increase of more than 6% to £1.7bn, while live music sales rose almost 20% to £789m. There were also increases in publishing and studio revenues, and a massive boom in UK music exports - up 57% to £2.2bn. But the news is not all good: revenues from recorded music fell by £16m last year, to £618m. Responding to UK Music’s industry figures, culture minister declared the sector one of the country’s “biggest success stories”. The minister wrote in a press release, “One in every eight albums sold anywhere in the world is by a British artist, and I know that, with the ongoing support from government, this dynamic sector will continue to flourish and thrive.” JM
Barack Obama: Ebola Threat to Global Security
President Barack Obama yesterday (Tue) issued a global call to action to fight West Africa's Ebola epidemic. He said the deadly outbreak was unprecedented and "spiralling out of control," threatening hundreds of thousands of people, adding, the world was looking to the US and that the outbreak required a "global response". He unveiled a major new US initiative which will see 3,000 US military personnel deployed to West Africa to combat the growing health crisis. As well as the military deployment, the US will also set up a command and control centre in the capital of Liberia, the hardest-hit country, to build new treatment centres and train health workers. RK
Scotland Referendum: Final Campaign Day
Today is the final day before a historic vote that could split the United Kingdom and a new opinion polls indicated Scotland could narrowly reject independence as the rival campaigns battled into Wednesday (17/09). Three polls released yesterday (Tue) all showed the pro-independence side had gained ground in the final weeks of the debate, but that the 'No' campaign was still ahead by a slim margin. The rival camps are set to fight it out until the last moment of Thursday’s referendum. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has written to voters appealing to them to vote 'Yes', saying, "Let's do this". RK
Climate Report: Reducing Emissions will not Stop Economic Growth
Economic growth and emissions reductions can be achieved together! Such is the consideration of a group of the world's leading economists and political leaders. On Tuesday the leaders argues that the world can still act in time to stave off the worst effects of climate change, and enjoy the fruits of continued economic growth as long as the global economy can be transformed within the next 15 years. The globe’s biggest institutions including the UN, the OECD group of rich countries, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and one of the world's most influential voices on climate economics, Lord Stern, were involved in the study. The study stands positively and suggests tackling climate change can aid prosperity. Stern said, "Reducing emissions is not only compatible with economic growth and development – if done well it can actually generate better growth than the old high-carbon model."JM
Universities: UK Institutions Rank Top 5
The latest ranking of the world's top universities published today (Tue) has placed four British institutions in the top six. The QS ranking of World University shows Harvard dropped from second to fourth while Cambridge University and Imperial College London went up in the ranks. Harvard was followed by Oxford and University College London in joint fifth place, with Stanford, Caltech, Princeton and Yale of the US filling out the rest of the top 10. Imperial College jumps from fifth to second place in a year. Of the top 200 higher education institutions ranked by QS, the UK is represented by 29 and the US by 51, while Germany is the next best performer with 13. President of Imperial College, Professor Alice Gast said, "These rankings support what our students, alumni, staff, friends and collaborators know, that Imperial is one of the world's great universities." JM
Bangladesh: Marriage Age Change
The cabinet on Monday (15/09) approved the final draft of the Child Marriage Restraint Act 2014 with increased punishment and fine. Cabinet secretary Mohammad Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said, “The punishment for the violation of the law will be maximum two-years of jail sentence and Tk50,000 fines.’’ It is suggested that the marriageable age for men be reduced from 21 to 18 and for women from 18 to 16. The proposals are in a bill likely to be approved by parliament. According to the existing laws, the punishment for child marriage is maximum three months' jail sentence and Tk 1,000 fine. RK
US: First Air Strike Against Islamic State
The first air strike on Islamic State has been carried out near Baghdad by US warplanes. On Monday (15/09) world diplomats pledged to support Iraq in its fight against the militants. Early last month the United States began air strikes against IS positions in northern Iraq, but Monday's campaign which targeted the jihadists near the Iraqi capital marks an escalation in the scope of the mission. US Central Command said, "The air strike south-west of Baghdad was the first taken as part of our expanded efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions to hit Isil targets as Iraqi forces go on offence, as outlined in the president's speech last Wednesday," RK
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