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21 Feb

Communist Manifesto anniversary heralds fresh look at Marxism?

UNITED KINGDOM (WNF) - German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the Communist Manifesto in London on Feb 21, 1848, and the 170th anniversary begins the countdown to events that mark the bicentenary of Marx’s birth on May 5.
Marx exhibitions, conferences and other cultural events will be held in all the corners of the world where the Manifesto has driven change, predictably driving demand for reprints of the celebrated pamphlet.

With other works by Marx and Engels, the Manifesto forms the basis of the body of thought and belief known as Marxism, an ideology that changed the course of history. The bicentenary will also increase demand for Das Kapital, described as Marx’s masterpiece on political economy.

In 2012, Britain’s Guardian reported a revival in interest in Marxist thought and in Marx, the so-called father of communism, during the 2007–2012 Great Recession. The newspaper described both as “going mainstream” as a result of the world’s economic woes.

The pamphlet was written to serve as the platform of the Communist League, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, and it became one of the principal programmatic statements of the European socialist and communist parties in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Manifesto opens with the dramatic words “A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism” and ends by stating, “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of the world, unite!” #22467 Published: 01/11/2018

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23 Feb

California couple charged with torturing their 13 children again in court

UNITED STATES (WNF) - David and Louise Turpin, each charged on Jan 18 in Riverside County, California, with committing years of torture and abuse against their 13 children, return to court. If convicted as charged, they face up to 94 years to life in prison.
Both entered not guilty pleas to all counts – 12 counts of torture, seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse or neglect and 12 counts of false imprisonment, for alleged crimes ranging from 2010 to the present. David Turpin is also charged with one count of lewd act on a child.

The Turpins were arrested in their home in Perris, California, after an emaciated teenage daughter climbed out a window and called police. Police discovered 13 children starved and chained and suffering from years of abuse and neglect at the residence.

Police reports say that the siblings, who range in age from 2 to 29, were allegedly beaten, shackled, starved and even taunted with food that they were forbidden to eat, and so severely malnourished that they appeared to be much younger than their ages. #22483 Published: 01/23/2018

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26 Feb

Top show for mobile gadgets a magnet for hot handset launches

SPAIN (WNF) - Visitors can expect to see faster, sleeker and all-around better smartphones at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the event billed as the world’s largest gathering for the mobile industry, if early leaks hold true. The leaks also suggest they might see retro gadgets made modern.
Stuff.NZ and other publications that are tracking leaks from the manufacturers see Samsung’s Galaxy S9 making its debut, and Huawei with another chance to make a stronger impression with the launch of its P20. According to the publication, Huawei might try to stomp dual-camera arrays by putting three cameras on the back of the P20. One of them is suggested to be a 40-megapixel shooter.

Many Moto phones can be expected, if the leaks hold true, a standard Moto G6, a Moto G6 Plus, and a Moto G6 Play with a display nearing 6 inches.

Nostalgia buffs can anticipate the re-release of the Nokia 3310, which was a lower-cost phone that first hit stores in Sep 2000, and BlackBerry is said to be coming back with a Black Edition and the company’s signature keyboard. #22489 Published: 01/25/2018

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28 Feb

Eyes on global warming as Doomsday Seed Vault turns 10 View graphic

NORWAY (WNF) - The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, built inside a mountain to protect the world’s crops from future disasters, turns 10 with an eye on global warming. Unseasonable heat in 2016 melted the permafrost that helps to keep the so-called Doomsday Seeds safe.
The thaw sent water into the access tunnel. The government is boosting the flood defenses in the tunnel, and Statsbygg, the agency that administers the vault, plans to monitor the permafrost.

Scientists at the facility describe the vault as the most important room in the world.

Government spokeswoman Hege Njaa Aschim told the BBC that the reason the vault was built on Svalbard was because the permafrost was thought to be permanent. She said the problems emerged last October when the temperatures, instead of being -10C or colder, were hovering around 0C. "It was like a wet summer in Norway," she told the BBC.

Although most countries keep their own supplies of key varieties, the Global Seed Vault acts as a back-up. It stores seeds from 5,000 crop species from around the world. They are dried and frozen. Before the melting scare, it was believed that they would be preserved for hundreds of years. If a nation's seeds are lost as a result of a natural disaster or a man-made catastrophe, the specimens stored in the Arctic could be used to regenerate them. #22176 Published: 05/22/2017

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28 Feb

DNA breakthrough announced 65 years ago View graphicView graphic

UNITED KINGDOM (WNF) - James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick unveiled the double-helix structure of DNA, the carrier of genetic information, 65 years ago. Today’s frequent headlines about advances in DNA editing – and the fraught debate about potential abuse of the technology – frame the anniversary.
The Watson-Crick breakthrough led to prenatal screening for disease genes, genetically engineered organisms and plants, the ability to identify human remains, the design of treatments for diseases such as AIDS and cancer, and tests of physical evidence in criminal trials.

CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) and the related techniques developed in recent years give scientists unprecedented gene-editing accuracy. Potentially, the techniques can prevent thousands of conditions caused by specific inherited mutations. These include sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis and certain cases of early-onset Alzheimer’s.

The advances also allow more accurate misuse and abuse of gene-manipulation. There is the issue of unintended consequences of some procedures, and an argument rages about the ethics of working on human embryos. The New York Times notes that some experts warn unregulated genetic engineering may lead to a new form of eugenics, in which people with means pay to have children with enhanced traits even as those with disabilities are devalued.

Detecting abuses and regulating the field to end them is proving a formidable quest. Regulators first have to agree on what determines an abuse, with commercial, safety, religious, societal and ethical arguments all complicating the debate. Then they have to agree on how rigorous controls and oversight should be. Arguably, the pace of the advances in CRISPR and related techniques make agreement a more urgent necessity. #22328 Published: 10/01/2017

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