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If you like international and eclectic news, come and join me at @worldwithoutus (Link for Lemmy = worldwithoutus).

I've also started helping out at @worldnews, (Link for Lemmy = worldnews), @movies, (Lemmy = movies), and am a ghost at @13thfloor (Lemmy = 13th Floor).

South Australia introduces ‘world-leading’ bill to ban political donations from elections (

Premier says move will end the ‘nexus between money and political power’ and challenges state and federal counterparts to follow suit. The South Australian premier, Peter Malinauskas, has announced plans to ban political donations from state elections, paving the way for nation-leading electoral reforms....

The good news about 'giant viruses' found in the Arctic Circle (

“Giant viruses” sound like some sort of terrifying science fiction creation. But while some of the world’s largest viruses can certainly cause problems if they make their way into humans, others content themselves with infecting algae and other microbes. In doing so, they can prove surprisingly beneficial for our...

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From the article:

Nucleocytoviricota is a large family, and contains the viruses responsible for African swine fever and various types of pox infections. However, Laura Perini, co-lead author on the new paper, explains to Popular Science that each “[each of] the viruses to which our environmental signatures were assigned belongs to a family—Allomimiviridae, Pithoviridae, Algavirales and Asfarviridae—[that infects] other microbes (either microalgae or protists).” (She also reassures readers that “None of the viruses that we identified on the ice/snow samples have been related to humans!”)

So far, evidence for these viruses’ presence in the Arctic comes from DNA samples taken from several Arctic environments in which snow algae are flourishing, rather than direct observation. However, Perini is confident that the viruses are alive and active today, citing the presence of viral mRNA in the samples taken: mRNA degrades far more quickly than DNA, and finding it suggests that the viral DNA is from a contemporary source, not some long-dead microbe frozen in the ice. She explains that her team “[was] also able to bin for GVMAGs (giant virus metagenome-assembled genomes) that confirmed once again the presence of these viruses and their taxonomic identification.” 

If these viruses are infecting Arctic algae, they might provide a curb on one of the lesser-known contributors to the shrinking of our polar ice caps: several species of algae known collectively as “snow algae.” These algae thrive during summer as snow and ice start to melt—and unfortunately, they also contribute to the rate at which that melting proceeds. Snow and ice reflect most of the sunlight that falls on their surface, but the algae darkens that surface, increasing the amount of light that it absorbs. This heats the snow and ice, increasing the rate at which they melt. The result is a sort of feedback loop, and as a paper published in Plant Science in 2021 notes, Antarctic algal blooms during summer are now so large that they’re visible from space.

However, while their contribution to the rate at which our ice caps are melting is certainly a problem, blooms of snow algae are not in and of themselves inherently negative phenomena. As the 2021 Plant Science points out, “Antarctica has relatively little exposed land to support terrestrial vegetation, with 98.7% of its surface area permanently covered in snow or ice … [and] blooms of red, green, and orange snow algae in Antarctica have been revealed as diverse ecosystems that play an active role in biogeochemical cycling of nutrients and carbon.” 

Perini and her team’s paper describes the Arctic algae in similar terms: “There’s a whole ecosystem surrounding the algae. Besides bacteria, filamentous fungi and yeasts, there are protists eating the algae, different species of fungi parasitizing them and the giant viruses that we found infecting them.” Full understanding of the intricacies of ecosystems is key to implementing any such strategies and there are risks in introducing one lifeform to combat another.  

If nothing else, however, the apparent presence of NCLDV DNA and mRNA in the samples taken by Perini and her team suggests that these giant viruses can survive in the bitter cold of the Arctic winter—and points to one potential way by which the rate at which our ice caps are melting might be reduced.

Rwanda opposition leader barred from standing against president (

A prominent opponent of the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, has been barred from standing in next month’s election to challenge his three-decade rule. Diane Rwigara, the leader of the People Salvation Movement, who was also barred in 2017, launched her election bid in May and submitted her candidacy last week. Her name was...

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From the article:

A final candidate list is due on 14 June, a month before the presidential and parliamentary votes on 15 July.

Rwigara was barred from the 2017 race over accusations she had forged supporters’ signatures for her application. She was arrested and charged with forgery and inciting insurrection, and held behind bars for more than a year.

Rwigara is the daughter of Assinapol Rwigara, an industrialist and former significant donor to Kagame’s ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front party before he fell out with its leaders.

Kagame, Rwanda’s de facto ruler since the 1994 genocide and president since 2000, has won three elections with more than 90% of the vote and is widely expected to be victorious again in July.

He has been praised for putting the country on the path of economic transformation after the genocide but he faces frequent criticism over rights abuses and intolerance of the opposition.

In the run-up to this year’s vote, Rwandan courts had already rejected appeals from the prominent opposition figures Bernard Ntaganda and Victoire Ingabire to remove previous convictions that in effect barred them from standing.

India's heatwave longest ever, worse to come (

India's heatwave is the longest ever to hit the country, the government's top weather expert said Monday as he warned people will face increasingly oppressive temperatures. Parts of northern India have been gripped by a heatwave since mid-May, with temperatures soaring over 45 degrees Celsius. "This has been the longest spell...

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From the article:

Scientific research shows climate change is causing heatwaves to become longer, more frequent and more intense.

The latest heatwave has seen temperatures in New Delhi match the capital's previous record high: 49.2C clocked in 2022.

As people sought relief from the scorching temperatures, the electricity grid groaned under a record peak power demand of 8,302 megawatts.

On 29 May, an automatic weather station in the Delhi suburb of Mungeshpur recorded a high of 52.9C, but the temperature was the result of a faulty sensor.

Elsewhere in Delhi, 17 other city stations hit a maximum of 49C the same day.

"We constituted an expert committee, which observed readings for the next two days and found there were problems with the sensor," Mohapatra said.

While the IMB had raised its concerns about the recording within hours, Mohapatra confirmed for the first time that the sensor was faulty. "We inspect the AWS (automatic weather stations) every six months," he said. "But in between a bird or a monkey can disturb it".

Ghana: Khadija Cares Foundation Launches Charity Invitational Golf Tournament to Support Menstrual Health (

The Khadija Cares Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting menstrual hygiene, mental health awareness, and women’s rights, is hosting a charity invitational golf tournament to raise funds for sustainable menstrual products for women across the country....

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From the article:

All proceeds from the event will go towards providing sustainable menstrual products to women in need, as well as supporting the foundation’s initiatives in mental health awareness and women’s empowerment...

The registration includes 18 holes of golf, branded tournament merchandise, breakfast and lunch, entry into hole contests and prizes and the opportunity to bid in the silent auction. Those who don’t golf have an equal opportunity to support.

Milorad Dodic (President of the Republika Srpska): We will hold a Referendum on the independence of Republika Srpska from Bosnia and Herzegovina (

The President of the Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik said that a referendum on the independence of the Republika Srpska from Bosnia and Herzegovina will be held, and its date has yet to be determined....

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From the article:

He said that the process of negotiations on disassociation is ahead.

“We are convinced that there is already enough historical and civilizational maturity that it is necessary and will happen,” pointed out Dodik.

According to him, if the Republika Srpska were to remain part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it would be a waste of time and opportunity, and that is why it is necessary to achieve what the RS wants as soon as possible in order to stop wasting resources in vain hoping that Bosnia and Herzegovina will do something.

“We do not want to create instability on the territory of our country, that is why, first of all, we proposed to BiH to separate and move in that direction,” said Dodik.

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Here is some background on the issue.

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@CoffeeAddict did you see the post in here the other day, apparently Ernest is going to get someone else to look after this instance. So I guess when that happens they might be able to sort out federation.

It makes sense to pause it until the spam is dealt with at least.

‘Unprecedented scale’ of violations against children in Gaza, West Bank and Israel, UN report says (

More grave violations against children were committed in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel than anywhere else in the world last year, according to a UN report due to be published this week.The report on children and armed conflict, which has been seen by the Guardian, verified more cases of war crimes against children in the...

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From the article:

The report details only cases that UN investigators were able to verify, so it accounts for just part of the total number of deaths and injuries of children in the course of last year.

In all, the UN verified “8,009 grave violations against 4,360 children” in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank – more than twice the figures for the DRC, the next worst place for violence against children.

Of the total number of child victims verified, 4,247 were Palestinian, 113 were Israeli.

In all, 5,698 violations were attributed to Israeli armed and security forces, and 116 to Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Israeli settlers were judged responsible in 51 cases, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades was involved in 21.

Between 7 October and the end of December last year, the UN verified the killing of 2,051 Palestinian children, and said the process of attributing responsibility was ongoing, but the report noted: “Most incidents were caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas by Israeli armed and security forces.”

The report conceded it reflected only a partial picture of the situation in Gaza.

“Owing to severe access challenges, in particular in the Gaza Strip, the information presented herein does not represent the full scale of violations against children in this situation,” it said.

The report also found grave abuses by Israeli forces in the West Bank, with 126 Palestinian children killed and 906 detained. The UN verified five cases where soldiers used boys “to shield forces during law enforcement operations”.

In the course of 2023, in the run-up to the Hamas 7 October attack on Israel, the UN said Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s armed wings organised “summer camps”, in which children were exposed to “military content and activities”.

In the first three months of the war, the UN verified 23 separate cases of the denial of humanitarian access by Israeli authorities “related to denied coordination of humanitarian aid missions and prevention of access to medical care”.

In the course of the Israeli offensive in Gaza, the UN found “nearly all critical infrastructure, facilities and services have been attacked, including shelter sites, United Nations installations, schools, hospitals, water and sanitation facilities, grain mills and bakeries”.

“Children are at risk of famine, severe malnutrition and preventable death,” the UN report said. “I am appalled by the dramatic increase and unprecedented scale and intensity of grave violations against children in the Gaza Strip, Israel and the occupied West Bank,” Guterres tells the general assembly in the report.

ICC prosecutor warns of war crimes committed in Darfur's al-Fashir (

The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor is urgently investigating allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Darfur city of al-Fashir which has become a new front between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF)....

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From the article:

Al-Fashir, in the Darfur region of northwestern Sudan, is home to more than 1.8 million residents and displaced people, and is the latest front in a war between the Sudanese army and the RSF which began in April 2023.

The ICC can prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and in some cases the crime of aggression if committed on the territory of one of the court's 124 member states or by nationals of ICC members.

It can also have jurisdiction through a referral by the United Nations Security Council, as happened with Darfur in 2005.

In January this year the ICC prosecutor told the UN Security Council he believed war crimes were being committed in Darfur by government troops and the RSF in El Geneina.

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Israel vows to press on in Gaza after UN Security Council approves ceasefire proposal (

Israel has vowed to persist with its military operation in Gaza, saying it won’t engage in “meaningless” negotiations with Hamas, shortly after the United Nations Security Council overwhelmingly approved a US-backed ceasefire plan intended to bring an end to the eight-month war.

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