1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites): Eurasia Review: Bosnian Serb Opposition Party Faces Overhaul After Defeat

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By Danijel Kovacevic

With internal cracks widened by a recent humiliating defeat at the polls, the Serb Democratic Party, SDS, has decided to hold new internal elections.

The main board of Bosnian Serb opposition party the Serb Democratic Party, SDS, met on Sunday but failed to resolve internal differences that have deepened since its election defeat earlier this month.

After a nine-hour session, the board finally agreed to hold internal party elections in December.

The main point of division was the question of whether SDS should join the main Bosnian Serb party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD led by Milorad Dodik, to form a joint bloc of Serb parties in the state parliament.

Party leader Vukota Govedarica initially rejected the possibility, yet changed his rhetoric slightly after Sunday’s session, when he claimed that SDS was “ready to talk” with other parties but has so far received no official invitation.

In the run-up to the internal party elections, the SDS’s internal divisions are likely to continue and even escalate as the party is struggling to clarify its political and ideological positions or find new ones, experts said.

“It would be helpful if the SDS would finally decide what they want. If this [internal turmoil] continues, the party will split. It will not disappear, but what remains of it will not have enough political force for a serious political battle,” political analyst Vlade Simovic told BIRN.

The SDS is the oldest ethnic Serb party in Bosnia. Established by the Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, it dominated the political scene in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated areas during and immediately after the war with strong hand and hardline positions.

However it was eventually overshadowed by Dodik’s SNSD. Although initially a moderate and darling of the West, Dodik gradually hardened his positions eventually becoming the most radical Serb politician in the country.

Under Western sanctions, the SDS meanwhile was forced to moderate its positions. But this created internal divisions and tensions between SDS’s old, hardline cadre and some of the more moderate newcomers over the exact ideological position and political identity of the party.

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1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites): Eurasia Review: Trump To Visit Grieving Pittsburgh Congregation

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By Steve Herman

U.S. President Donald Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, are to travel to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Tuesday, three days after a mass killing at a synagogue in the city.

Trump and members of his administration blame the news media for inciting anger in the country leading to the shooting, as well as the mailing of explosives to political critics of the president.

Trump’s political opponents blame him for the deep divisions in American society, a result of his often-acidic rhetoric aimed at opposition Democrats, illegal immigrants, and critics opposed to his policies.

“The very first thing the president did was condemn the (synagogue) attacker and the very first thing the media did was blame the president,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Monday when asked about Trump’s comments in the wake of the shooting.

On Twitter earlier in the day, Trump wrote: “There is great anger in our Country caused in part by inaccurate, and even fraudulent, reporting of the news. The Fake News Media, the true Enemy of the People, must stop the open & obvious hostility & report the news accurately & fairly. That will do much to put out the flame of Anger and Outrage and we will then be able to bring all sides together in Peace and Harmony. Fake News Must End!”

Trump has deplored Saturday’s mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11 worshippers and wounded six more. He said that “this evil Anti-Semitic attack is an assault on humanity. It will take all of us working together to extract the poison of Anti-Semitism from our world. We must unite to conquer hate.”

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto told reporters he had asked the White House to hold off on a presidential visit until after victims’s funerals on Tuesday at the request of the mourning families, and ongoing resources of law enforcement still dealing with the aftermath of the shootings.

Some Jewish leaders in Pittsburgh, in an open letter, asked that Trump not visit the city until he condemned “white nationalism.”

Asked about that on Monday, Sanders noted that while those in Pittsburgh are grieving and hurting, “the president wants to be there to show the support of this administration for the Jewish community,” adding that the rabbi of the Tree of Life congregation said Trump would be welcomed there.

The suspect, who was shot three times by police, was brought in to a Pittsburgh courtroom on Monday for his initial court appearance on federal murder and assault charges.

Robert Bowers, to whom numerous anti-Semitic posts on social media prior to the shooting are attributed, will remain in jail pending a November 1 hearing.

“Our investigation of these hate crimes continues,” said U.S. Attorney Scott Brady in a Monday statement. “Under the law, we must present this case to a federal grand jury within 30 days of today.”

Last week, as packages with explosives were sent to top Democrats, some conservative commentators on U.S. radio and television shows suggested it was a “false flag” operation being carried out by left-wing opponents of Trump looking to gain a political advantage before next week’s national congressional elections.

But on Friday, federal agents arrested a Trump supporter and accused him of mailing the explosives to former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, a possible 2020 opponent of Trump, and Trump’s 2016 challenger, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with national security officials who served in Obama’s administration. The suspect, authorities said, was living in a van with windows covered with Trump stickers and pictures of top Democrats with cross-hairs over their faces.

Trump praised U.S. law enforcement officials for making the arrest and said political violence must never be tolerated.

Hours after the arrest of 56-year-old Cesar Sayoc, Trump told a political rally, “We have seen an effort by the media in recent hours to use the sinister acts of one individual to score political points against me and the Republican party. The media’s constant unfair coverage, deep hostility and negative attacks only serve to drive people apart and to undermine healthy debate.”

As last week’s bomb scare unfolded, two of Trump’s sharpest Democratic congressional critics, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, blamed him for inflaming tensions. They said his words voicing concern over the mailed packages “ring hollow” in light of other statements Trump has made.

“Time and time again, the president has condoned physical violence and divided Americans with his words and his actions,” the lawmakers said. “Expressing support for the congressman who body-slammed a reporter, the neo-Nazis who killed a young woman in Charlottesville, his supporters at rallies who get violent with protesters, dictators around the world who murder their own citizens, and referring to the free press as the enemy of the people.”

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway rebuffed the notion that Trump’s rhetoric has incited tensions in the United States, telling CNN, “This president, if you go back and read all of his words after every tragedy, even after the natural disasters that have happened on his watch, his words have been very moving and uplifting. They have been decidedly non-partisan. The president is trying to heal the country.”

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1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites): Eurasia Review: Bitcoin Can Push Global Warming Above 2 Degrees C In A Couple Decades

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A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change finds that if Bitcoin is implemented at similar rates at which other technologies have been incorporated, it alone could produce enough emissions to raise global temperatures by 2°C as soon as 2033.

“Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency with heavy hardware requirements, and this obviously translates into large electricity demands,” said Randi Rollins, a master’s student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and coauthor of the paper.

Purchasing with bitcoins and several other cryptocurrencies, which are forms of currency that exist digitally through encryption, requires large amounts of electricity. Bitcoin purchases create transactions that are recorded and processed by a group of individuals referred to as miners. Miners group every Bitcoin transaction made during a specific timeframe into a block. Blocks are then added to the chain, which is the public ledger. The verification process by miners, who compete to decipher a computationally demanding proof-of-work in exchange for bitcoins, requires large amounts of electricity.

The electricity requirements of Bitcoin have created considerable difficulties, and extensive online discussion, about where to put the facilities or rings that compute the proof-of-work of Bitcoin. A somewhat less discussed issue is the environmental impacts of producing all that electricity.

A team of UH Manoa researchers analyzed information such as the power efficiency of computers used by Bitcoin mining, the geographic location of the miners who likely computed the Bitcoin, and the CO2 emissions of producing electricity in those countries. Based on the data, the researchers estimated that the use of bitcoins in the year 2017 emitted 69 million metric tons of CO2.

Researchers also studied how other technologies have been adopted by society, and created scenarios to estimate the cumulative emissions of Bitcoin should it grow at the rate that other technologies have been incorporated.

The team found that if Bitcoin is incorporated, even at the slowest rate at which other technologies have been incorporated, its cumulative emissions will be enough to warm the planet above 2°C in just 22 years. If incorporated at the average rate of other technologies, it is closer to 16 years.

“Currently, the emissions from transportation, housing and food are considered the main contributors to ongoing climate change. This research illustrates that Bitcoin should be added to this list,” said Katie Taladay, a UH Manoa master’s student and coauthor of the paper.

“We cannot predict the future of Bitcoin, but if implemented at a rate even close to the slowest pace at which other technologies have been incorporated, it will spell very bad news for climate change and the people and species impacted by it,” said Camilo Mora, associate professor of Geography in the College of Social Sciences at UH Manoa and lead author of the study.

“With the ever-growing devastation created by hazardous climate conditions, humanity is coming to terms with the fact that climate change is as real and personal as it can be,” added Mora. “Clearly, any further development of cryptocurrencies should critically aim to reduce electricity demand, if the potentially devastating consequences of 2°C of global warming are to be avoided.”

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1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites): Eurasia Review: Football Players’ Concussions Linked To Dyslexia Gene

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A gene associated with dyslexia, a learning disorder, may make some athletes less susceptible to concussions, reports a new study from Penn State University and Northwestern Medicine.

This is believed to be the first time that this gene has been implicated in concussion or mild traumatic brain injury in athletes of a high-impact sport.

“This suggests that genotype may play a role in your susceptibility for getting a concussion,” said co-corresponding author Dr. Hans Breiter, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and director of the Northwestern Medicine Warren Wright Adolescent Center. “If replicated, this information may be important to parents.”

The paper was published Oct. 23 in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

“This finding raises the question: are their particular factors we can determine that put players at higher risk, and should those players be placed in sports that don’t have the potential for head trauma?” said co-first author Amy Herrold, a research assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Feinberg.

There are three variants of every gene. Athletes with one variant of the gene that did not confer dyslexia were more likely to have a history of concussion injuries. Athletes with the version of the gene that causes dyslexia were less likely to have concussion injuries.

The reason for the lower risk may relate to the more diffuse way the dyslexic brain is wired, said co-corresponding author Sam Semyon Slobounov, professor of kinesiology and of neurosurgery at Hershey Medical School of Penn State University and director of the Virtual Reality/Traumatic Brain Injury Research Laboratory. “Dyslexia may be neuroprotective, a hypothesis that could be tested,” he said.

“In dyslexia, you tend to have less defined wiring for processing spoken and written language,” Breiter said. “Dyslexics have a problem with that. Their wiring is more diffuse in this system. Future studies could directly test if diffuse wiring is better able to absorb a shock wave than clearly defined wiring.”

The study included 87 varsity Penn State football players from 2015 to 2017. The players reported their concussion history, which the team physician confirmed through each player’s medical evaluation and medical records of observable concussion signs as opposed to player reports of symptoms. Each player had a swab of his inner cheek taken, which was genetically analyzed.

The gene, KIAA0319, has not been looked at in concussion research before. Scientists decided to study it, along with a number of other candidate genes, because of its role in cell adhesion and neuron migration, said Alexa Walter, co-first author of the paper and a graduate student in kinesiology at Penn State. The gene KIAA0319 could have an effect on how neurons respond to head impacts or are repaired after an injury.

“This is one piece of the puzzle,” Herrold said. The study is part of a larger project in the Concussion Neuroimaging Consortium, which studies the neuroscience of head impacts in athletes.

The genotype predicted the number of previously diagnosed concussions in the players. Everyone has the KIAA0319 gene in one of three combinations. In this gene, the genotypes are CC, CT or TT. There was a direct increase in diagnosed concussions as one went from CC to CT to TT individuals. The CC genotype has been associated with dyslexia in other studies.

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1. US Security from mikenova (86 sites): Eurasia Review: Financial Education Key To Reducing Student Loan Stress

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It is estimated that a quarter of American adults currently have student loans to pay off, and most do not have the financial literacy to manage debt successfully. The average student in the Class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt. Graduates from the University of Missouri have an average debt of $21,884.

In a new study, Lu Fan, assistant professor of personal financial planning at the University of Missouri, found that borrowers are not receiving adequate education to manage their student debt. She suggests that more needs to be done to educate borrowers about managing debt as well as the various repayment options that might be available to them.

“A majority of borrowers, 55 percent, reported being worried about their student loans; however, only 30 percent of borrowers said that they had received financial education about paying off their student loans,” Fan said. “Moreover, only 40 percent of borrowers reported having financial influence from their parents. Given the number of people who need student loans to attend college, we need to do better at educating borrowers.”

Using the 2015 National Financial Capability Study dataset, Fan and Swarn Chatterjee, professor at the University of Georgia, found that having student loan debt caused mental stress for borrowers. The researchers looked at more than 2,600 responses from the dataset, focusing on respondents who had a student loan, were between the ages of 24 and 65, were no longer a student, were employed, and were the primary decision makers in their household.

The researchers found that women were less likely to be late on student loan payments but were more likely to feel worried about their student loans. Men were less anxious about their debt and more likely to submit payments late. They also found that people with loans who did not complete college were more likely to be worried about paying off loans than those with degrees.

Fan believes that borrowers are not receiving the information they need to make the best financial decisions, and that policymakers and loan providers should do more to educate borrowers.

“My hope is that policymakers use this information when developing financial educational programs,” she said. “Better educational resources created for specific audiences — parents, young adults, women and households that have experienced a drop in income — will lead to more educated borrowers.”

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1. World from mikenova (22 sites): World – TIME: Mexico Referendum Cancels Partly Built $13 Billion Airport

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(MEXICO CITY) — Mexico’s president-elect said Monday he will respect the result of a referendum that rejected a partly built new airport for Mexico City, effectively ending the $13 billion project.

“The decision taken by the citizens is democratic, rational and efficient,” Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said after 70 percent voted against the plan. “The people decided.”

It is unclear what will be done with the enormous foundations already built on the site, a former lake bed known as Texcoco.

Organizers of the referendum reported late Sunday that just over 1 million people voted in the referendum. The vote has been criticized in part because only about one of every 90 registered Mexican voters participated.

Mexico’s peso slid more than 3 percent against the U.S. dollar after the decision was made public, with the interbank rate ending at 20.06 pesos to $1. Banco BASE said it was the biggest single-day drop since Nov. 9, 2016, when markets reacted to Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president the day before. Monday’s fall wiped out all the peso’s gains this year.

The Mexican stock exchange’s IPC index ended the day down 4.2 percent. Critics of the cancellation had said it might affect investor confidence in Mexico, but Lopez Obrador said investors, debt holders and contractors in the abandoned project will be protected.

Lopez Obrador pledged during his campaign to cancel the Texcoco project, claiming it was marred by overspending and corruption. After winning, he said the issue should be put before Mexican citizens.

He favors adding two commercial runways to a military air base in the town of Santa Lucia, about 28 miles (45 kilometers) from the capital. That would imply an improved road to get there from Mexico City and the current 1940s-era airport. The city’s airport is now working at near capacity and would have been closed had Texcoco been built.

Lopez Obrador said he has received assurances from international experts that the current airport and Santa Lucia could operate simultaneously. Still, given the distances between the current airport, the planned Santa Lucia terminal and an existing satellite airport in the nearby city of Toluca, it is unclear how people could make connecting flights within any reasonable amount of time.

The president-elect said Mexicans will save about $5 billion by abandoning the unfinished Texcoco project, which was started with what critics said was little real environmental study by current President Enrique Pena Nieto, who leaves office Dec. 1.

Pena Nieto said later Monday that his government respects whatever decision Lopez Obrador may make once president, but construction will go ahead until Nov. 30, to meet obligations under bonds that were issued to finance the project.

He warned that if the airport is canceled, it could cost taxpayers. “It is anticipated that ultimately there would have to be prepayment of bonds issued to finance this project, and probably this will demand fiscal resources additional to” existing funding currently being collected through an airport tax, he said.

It was supposed to be the signature infrastructure project of Pena Nieto’s administration, though it wouldn’t have been finished for several years more. But the outgoing administration was marked by corruption and allegations of insider dealing with contractors, which helped propel Lopez Obrador to the presidency July 1.

The referendum held Thursday-Sunday marked the first time such a large project had been submitted to a public debate and vote. Lopez Obrador said the decision meant “corruption has ended.”

Mexico’s business community, which overwhelmingly supported the now-cancelled project, questioned the referendum, which they said was unofficial, unrepresentative and biased.

Juan Pablo Castanon, the head of Mexico’s Business Coordinating Council, an industry group, fiercely criticized Lopez Obrador’s decision to obey the vote, saying it “seriously hurts Mexico’s image in the world” and “sends a message of uncertainty” to financial markets.

Some questioned whether such a decision, involving complex issues of air traffic control, should be decided in a referendum. The national Confederation of Chambers of Commerce wrote that “it should be a technical and financial decision, not a political one, based on a popular vote.”

Lopez Obrador called the decision “a triumph for the environmental movement,” saying the Texcoco project threatened to eliminate the last remaining vestiges of lakes that once covered the Valley of Mexico. Lake Nabor Carrillo had become a refuge for migratory birds but was too close to the Texcoco site and would have posed a threat of birds hitting jet engines.

However, much of the environmental destruction associated with the Texcoco project is already done. Millions of tons of rock were quarried in nearby towns and transported to the site to fill and drain the swampy former lake bed.

Lopez Obrador said he hoped the unfinished site could be used to create “a big sports and ecological center for Mexico City.”

World – TIME

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1. World from mikenova (22 sites): Voice of America: How Old is Cacao? New Research Pushes Back Date

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New research strengthens the case that people used the chocolate ingredient cacao in South America 5,400 years ago, underscoring the seed’s radical transformation into today’s Twix bars and M&M candies.
 
Tests indicate traces of cacao on artifacts from an archaeological site in Ecuador, according to a study published Monday. That’s about 1,500 years older than cacao’s known domestication in Central America.
 
“It’s the earliest site now with…

Voice of America

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1. World from mikenova (22 sites): Reuters: World News: ‘Just a little wobble’: Thousands feel 6.1-magnitude quake in New Zealand

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An earthquake of magnitude 6.1 struck New Zealand’s north island on Tuesday, the United States Geological Survey said, a tremor felt by thousands of people although there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties.

Reuters: World News

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