The World Today for July 03, 2018

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To the Edge

Bloomberg recently reported that British diplomats want a quick end to negotiations over the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit, the March 2019 deadline when Britain quits the European Union.

Three weeks later, the Independent quoted Northern Ireland’s police chief as saying the negotiations were in chaos and that “no one is in charge.” A local politician described the process as in “shambles.”

Meanwhile, Lord Hain, a former secretary for Wales and Northern Ireland under ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, told the BBC that failing to reach a deal on the border before Brexit would imperil the peace deal that brought an end to Catholic and Protestant bloodshed in the region.

Since Ireland and Britain are now both in the European Union, the question of whether Northern Ireland should be part of the United Kingdom or the Irish Republic is moot. After Brexit, if a so-called “hard border” takes effect, extremists might re-emerge.

The effect of Brexit is already being felt in Northern Ireland: The number of non-British EU citizens employed there has declined by 26 percent since the Brexit vote last year.

The Northern Ireland question has proved so vexing that many pro-Brexiteers seem open to letting the region go, Irish news service RTE wrote. That’s a remarkable development, given how much blood and money was spent in the conflict there and how successful British and Irish stakeholders were in quelling the violence after so much hatred.

Unfortunately, Northern Ireland is only one of the challenges Brexit is posing.

The Bank of England recently warned that a “financial crunch” of as much as $38 trillion could hit if Brexit occurs without a framework for the many derivative deals that have been struck between Europeans and Brits in London, one of the world’s top financial centers, according to Business Insider.

Airbus – with Boeing, one of two major commercial aircraft makers in the world – might pull up stakes in Britain if a Brexit deal doesn’t suit its needs, reported CNN Money.

The British cabinet is split over how to proceed, much to the consternation of EU leaders, wrote the Guardian. A commentator in the Financial Times, a newspaper with close connections to Conservative Party lawmakers in Parliament, argued that a second Brexit vote might be necessary.

Damage is already being done, after all. GQ’s British edition was blunt: “Who should be blamed for what Brexit did to Britain?” read a recent headline.

Prime Minister Theresa May has opted to speed up Brexit negotiations with the EU, said Reuters. She wants to reach a deal before the calls to reverse direction can’t be ignored.

But racing toward the edge of a cliff is no way to avoid it.



Through the Wire

For decades, India has allowed only the state-owned All India Radio to make news broadcasts, hoping to avoid mob violence like that which hate radiospurred in Rwanda.

But now the authorities face a more difficult challenge: Controlling fake news spread over WhatsA pp.

More than a dozen people have been killed across India since May in violence inspired primarily by rumors spread via the WhatsApp service, the Washington Post reported. Acting on warnings that child kidnappers or organ thieves are targeting their communities, mobs of villagers have attacked innocent strangers and beaten them to death.

Various local governments are trying hard to combat the misinformation with their own social media campaigns, Whatsapp messages and even broadcasts on TV channels.

Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook, has also introduced a new function that allows administrators of groups to control which members can post messages, and the company is testing a plan to label which messages are forwards.

However, Indian political parties are also recruiting thousands of “WhatsApp warriors” – some of whom also spread incendiary content.


Walk the Line

Chancellor Angela Merkel wrangled a compromise out of her interior minister late Monday night, quelling a rebellion within her conservative bloc that had threatened to topple her government for weeks.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, leader of the Christian Social Union, the Bavaria-only sister party to Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, threatened on Sunday to resign over the country’s migration policy. He’d vowed for weeks to act unilaterally in closing the nation’s borders to asylum seekers registered elsewhere within the European Union.

After two weeks of back and forth, the two conservative leaders agreed to set up transit centers on the German side of the border with Austria to house asylum seekers with the hope of sending them back to the countries where they first entered the EU.

With the compromise, Seehofer agreed to remain in his post.

“I am glad that this agreement has succeeded,” NPR quoted Seehofer as saying. “It once again proves it is worthwhile to fight for a conviction, and what has now been agreed is really a clear and very tenable agreement for the future.”

Deutsche Welle cited the general secretaries of the two parties as saying the deal would reduce migration to Germany and allow the country to quickly turn away people who have no chance of being granted asylum.


Touchy Feely

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he doesn’t recall any “negative interactions” on the day – nearly 20 years ago – when an editorial in a local newspaper accused him of groping a journalist.

“I remember that day in Creston well, it was an Avalanche Foundation event to support avalanche safety,” Agence France-Presse quoted Trudeau as saying in his first response since the allegations resurfaced in June. “I don’t remember any negative interactions that day at all.”

Then 28 years old, Trudeau had yet to enter politics and had become involved with the charity after his younger brother Michel died during an avalanche in 1998.

An avowed feminist often perceived as empathetic, Trudeau ensured gender balance in his cabinet and has adopted a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual misconduct in his Liberal Party. The allegations resurfaced thanks to a tweet from political commentator Warren Kinsella, a longtime critic of the prime minister.

However, the newspaper’s editor at the time stood by the editorial, saying “there’s no question in [his] mind” that the groping incident happened and was “definitely inappropriate.”


Falling Water

The sound of a leaky faucet is enough to drive even the most patient person mad.

But a team of scientists at the University of Cambridge recently discovered the source of the annoying “plink, plink” and posited ways to eliminate it once and for all.

In a study published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers say that when a water droplet falls from a faucet or leaky roof and hits a liquid surface, it’s not the sound of the impact itself, but rather a small air bubble that forms upon impact that makes that classic “plink” sound, National Geographic reported.

The air bubble forms under the water’s surface upon impact and acts like a piston, creating vibrations in the water and driving sound waves into the air.

“Using high-speed cameras and high-sensitivity microphones, we were able to directly observe the oscillation of the air bubble for the first time, showing that the air bubble is the key driver for both the underwater sound, and the distinctive airborne ‘plink’ sound,” co-author Sam Phillips said in a news release cited by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Apart from calling a plumber, there’s another fix. Simply adding some dish soap to the container into which the drop will fall will cancel the noise, the scientists said.

Click here to see the physics of falling water in action.

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