The World Today for August 27, 2018

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NEED TO KNOW

AUSTRALIA

Staying Tuned

Australian broadcasting giant Nine Entertainment recently reported rosy earnings that included a 27 percent jump in annual profits. The news in the Sydney Morning Herald was another step on what appears to be a yellow brick road for the company.

Last month, Nine Entertainment proposed a $3 billion acquisition of Fairfax Media, an Australian publisher. The combined entity would encompass print, television and digital assets, the New York Times reported.

Coming after Australian lawmakers rescinded rules prohibiting consolidation between broadcast and print news, the merger was necessary in today’s fiercely competitive media landscape, executives said.

Americans have heard that logic before. It doesn’t always pan out.

Still, CNBC writes, even when regulators kill the deals, investors see opportunities, lending credence to the Australian bigshots’ plans of creating a media empire.

The quality of the product is another matter, however, writes University of Sydney communications professor Tim Dwyer in the Conversation.

Australia’s media market is already one of the most concentrated in the world, Dwyer argued. A former treasurer of Australia is chairman of the Nine board. The merged company might shirk from fulfilling the responsibilities of the Fourth Estate. One can bet the new company will cut budgets at local, less lucrative newspapers, too, he said.

“The deal, if it goes forward, has also fired the starting gun on a process of further dismantling media in the bush,” wrote Dwyer.

In the Australian Financial Review, another Fairfax property, venture capitalist Daniel Petre, who sold his tech investment company Netus to Fairfax in 2012, was blunt. Nine makes reality television dating shows like “Love Island,” he said. Fairfax employs journalists.

“It’s a national tragedy that a free-to-air television network is buying a reputable newspaper group,” Petre said.

Regulators are looking at the deal closely, the Sydney Morning Herald wrote.

But, amid questions of why a profitable company needs to merge with another profitable company in order to ensure future profits, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation cast the darkest pall over the deal.

Nine Entertainment and Fairfax have been slashing costs for almost decade to make up for revenue lost due to competition from Internet venues like Craigslist and YouTube. Now, Facebook and Google have been eating their lunch again by providing a platform for news that diverts advertising revenue to Silicon Valley rather than newsrooms Down Under.

Will two sinking ships remain afloat if they’re strung together? Stay tuned.

WANT TO KNOW

NORTH KOREA

The Art of Double-Dealing?

North Korean state media blasted the US for “double-dealing” and accused Washington of “hatching a criminal plot” to launch a war against the isolated country following President Donald Trump’s cancellation of a planned visit to Pyongyang by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Referring to a training exercise allegedly carried out by US troops in Japan, North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper said, “Such acts prove that the US is hatching a criminal plot to unleash a war against the DPRK and commit a crime which deserves merciless divine punishment,” Reuters reported.

Trump canceled the diplomatic visit abruptly on Friday in response to Pyongyang’s refusal to take tangible steps toward denuclearization, suggesting progress might come easier after the US resolves its trade dispute with China.

Meanwhile, South Korea said the cancellation would impact plans for an inter-Korean liaison office that was to be opened this month, CNBC reported. However, the inter-Korean summit slated for September remains on track, a spokesman for South Korea’s presidential Blue House said.

COLOMBIA

Overwhelming, and Insufficient

More than 99 percent of the nearly 12 million voters who turned out for Colombia’s groundbreaking anti-corruption referendum backed each of the seven measures proposed to help stem graft. But voter turnout fell just short of a third of the population – the necessary number for a quorum – so the results aren’t valid.

The proposed measures include slashing wages for members of Congress, banning alternative sentences like house arrest for corruption, forcing elected officials to publish their tax returns and limiting local and national lawmakers to a maximum of three terms, the BBC reported.

Corruption is rife in Colombia, where the outgoing comptroller general, Edgardo Maya, said that graft costs the exchequer more than $15 billion a year. Though the failure to reach a quorum means these seven measures won’t necessarily come into effect, the overwhelming support will likely force politicians to take some kind of action, the BBC suggested.

“Citizens want a real and genuine change in political practices,” said Angelica Lozano, a Green party senator.

ZIMBABWE

A Listener Talks

Emmerson Mnangagwa was sworn in as Zimbabwe’s new president on Sunday, promising a “brighter tomorrow” for the country and announcing an investigation into the deaths of six people in post-election violence.

He said his government was committed to constitutionalism, the rule of law and judicial independence, the BBC reported. “The Zimbabwe we want is a shared one and transcends party lines,” said Mnangagwa, who described himself as a “listening president.”

On Friday, Zimbabwe’s Constitutional Court upheld his election victory. But the opposition MDC Alliance continues to reject it. EU election observers also said Mnangagwa had benefited from an “un-level playing field” but urged citizens to abide by the Constitutional Court’s decision.

Hailing from the Zanu-PF party of longtime President Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in a coup in November, Mnangagwa also promised radical economic reforms to spur investment. “The creation of jobs, jobs and more jobs will be at the core of our policies,” he said.

Mugabe was not among the 50,000 supporters in attendance, but he sent his congratulations and apologies for his absence.

DISCOVERIES

Pyramids and Powers

Mystics have long claimed the Great Pyramid of Giza has special powers.

Maybe they’re right.

Scientists have discovered that the structure may be able to focus electromagnetic waves through its network of internal chambers, the Independent reported.

Researchers were curious to understand how the pyramid would respond if radio waves were directed at it as part of a project to recreate its shape at a nanoscale.

“We decided to look at the Great Pyramid as a particle dissipating radio waves resonantly,” said Andrey Evlyukshin, a co-author of the study published in the Journal of Applied Physics.

They discovered that the pyramid would achieve a “resonant” state if electromagnetic waves of the radio frequency range (wavelengths ranging from about 650 feet to nearly 2,000 feet) were used, concentrating electromagnetic energy in its chambers and base.

The team hopes that the results can be applied in more practical endeavors such as creating effective solar cells.

As for paranormal investigators, well, the study didn’t hold much for them: Science, not mysticism, explained the phenomenon.

“These amazing structures excite the imagination of people engendering various fables and baseless assumptions,” the team wrote in their study.

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