BrainHQ Crushes Competition in First Review of Science Behind Brain Apps

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SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 31, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The first systematic review of study evidence that commercially-available, brain-training programs might help with healthy aging just published in Neuropsychological Review. The reviewers found that BrainHQ from Posit Science had by far the most and the highest quality studies. The authors of this first systematic review conclude […]

Alternate Foreign Minister G. Katrougalos to participate in a Conference on “Returning to Growth with Social Equity after Depression: The International Evidence”

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Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos will address the conference on “Returning to Growth with Social Equity after Depression: The International Evidence,” which is based on the Chilean economist Andres Solimano’s book entitled “Global Capital…

Survey: Global Freedom Drops for 11th Year as Populism, Autocracy Rise

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U.S. human rights group Freedom House says global freedoms weakened in 2016 for an 11th consecutive year, a decline it blamed on growing populism and nationalism in democratic nations and greater authoritarianism in others.

The bleak assessment came in the group’s annual global freedom survey published Monday with the title, Populists and Autocrats: The Dual Threat to Global Democracy.

Of the 195 countries assessed in the Freedom House report, 45 percent were rated free, 30 percent were rated partly free and 25 percent were rated not free. It said 67 countries suffered declines in political rights and civil liberties in 2016, predominantly in established democracies such as Brazil, France, Germany and the United States. The report said 36 nations saw improvements in freedom, leaving the gainers outnumbered by nations with declining freedom for the 11th straight year.

Speaking to VOA via Skype from New York, Freedom House spokeswoman Sarah Repucci said the country with the biggest drop in freedom in 2016 was “partly free” Turkey.

“We started to see restrictions on freedom of the press [in Turkey] before the failed coup attempt that happened in July,” Repucci said, citing moves by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to shut down independent media outlets or take them over. “Then, Erdogan used [the failed coup] as an excuse to crack down further on journalists, NGO activists and opposition figures with massive arrests that sent some people into exile, and to pass an emergency law that has curtailed the basic freedoms of ordinary people, as well.”

The report also noted that Turkey was a victim of multiple terrorist attacks in 2016. Erdogan said last year that fighting terrorism is Turkey’s highest priority, outweighing democracy, freedom and the rule of law, which he said have “absolutely no value any longer.”

U.S. and Russia

Freedom House said major democracies were “mired in anxiety and indecision” in 2016, after a series of destabilizing events. It said one such event was the U.S. presidential victory of Donald Trump, whom it called a “mercurial figure with unconventional views on foreign policy and other matters” � views it said “raised questions” about his country’s future role in the world.

“What the U.S. chooses to do in its foreign policy under the new administration is an open question,” Repucci said. “But we’ve seen a lot of warning signs that it may not be engaging to the extent that all previous U.S. administrations in recent years have done.”

Repucci said Russia, which Freedom House rates as not free, has shown a willingness to fill any gap left by U.S. disengagement from the world, particularly in the Middle East.

“We’ve seen that [willingness] with Russia’s intervention in Syria’s conflict, which has not only propped up the [government of Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad, but also furthered the humanitarian crisis there,” she said. “I think it’s very likely that Russia will continue its influence in the Middle East, especially if Europe and the U.S. turn their attention elsewhere or internally.”

Trump’s victory

The report said Trump’s election win shows that the United States is “not immune to the kind of populist appeals that have resonated across the Atlantic in recent years.” It said his campaign “featured a series of disturbing events, stemming mainly from Trump’s own remarks and the actions of his supporters, and punctuated by Trump’s insistence, without evidence and even after he won, that the election results were marred by massive fraud.”

But Freedom House also noted positive aspects of Trump’s rise to power. It said his success as an “outsider candidate who challenged the mainstream forces of both major parties demonstrated the continued openness and dynamism of the American system.” It also said Trump’s statements and actions during the postelection transition period “suggested that he had abandoned or softened a number of his more contentious campaign promises, including mass deportations of immigrants, lowering the legal bar for libel suits, and the prosecution of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton � something he had frequently vowed to pursue during the campaign.”

‘Worst’ scores

Freedom House said civil-war-plagued Syria had the “worst” score for political rights and civil liberties in 2016. Following Syria on the list of worst-scoring nations were Eritrea, North Korea, Uzbekistan, South Sudan, Turkmenistan, Somalia, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic and Saudi Arabia.

The report said the Syrian conflict and other extremism in the Middle East has taken global attention away from what it termed “worsening domestic repression” in China and Russia.

The only country in the report with a positive trend toward being freer was Colombia, whose government secured a peace deal with FARC rebels last year, ending a decades-long conflict in the South American nation.

Source: Voice of America

Police on fake Ugandan doctors

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Fake Ugandan doctors denied bailJames Lwanyaga (48) and his friend Paul Linton Ssengoba (47), both Ugandan nationals, were denied bail by the Bafokeng Magistrate’s Court on Friday following their arrest by the Hawks’ Commercial Crime Unit in Klerksdorp…

Commission on Limits of the Continental Shelf to Hold Forty-third Session at Headquarters, 30 January to 17 March

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NEW YORK, 30 January (Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea) ? The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf will hold its forty-third session from 30 January to 17 March.

This will be the last session of the Commission in its current composition as the term of office of the present members of the Commission expires on 15 June. The elections of 21 members of the Commission will be held at the twenty-seventh Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to be held from 12 to 16 June.

On an exceptional basis, there will be three weeks of plenary meetings during the forty-third session: from 13 to 17 February and then from 6 to 17 March. The remainder of the session will be devoted to the technical examination of submissions at the geographic information systems laboratories and other technical facilities of the Division.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. To highlight the work carried out by the Commission since 1997 and to reflect on the relationship between the Commission and the other two treaty bodies established under the Convention � namely the International Seabed Authority and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea � the Commission will hold an open meeting at United Nations Headquarters on 10 March, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Representatives of States parties to the Convention and of Observer States to the Meeting of States Parties, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, Presidents and Judges of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the International Court of Justice, representatives of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Hydrographic Organization, as well as all former members of the Commission, have been invited to the open meeting.

The programme of the Open Meeting available in early February on the website of the Division at www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/clcs_home.htm, and a further press release will be issued in due course regarding this anniversary.

As to the workload of the forty-third session, nine subcommissions will continue to actively consider submissions made by the Russian Federation, in respect of the Arctic Ocean (partial revised submission); Brazil, in respect of the Brazilian Southern Region (partial revised submission); France and South Africa, jointly, in respect of the area of the Crozet Archipelago and the Prince Edward Islands; Kenya; Nigeria; Seychelles, concerning the Northern Plateau Region; France, in respect of La Reunion Island and Saint-Paul and Amsterdam Islands; CAte d’Ivoire; and Sri Lanka.

The Commission will also, at the plenary level, continue its consideration of draft recommendations in respect to the submissions made by Norway, in respect of BouvetA�ya and Dronning Maud Land; South Africa, in respect of the mainland of the territory of the Republic of South Africa; and Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, jointly, concerning the Ontong Java Plateau.

Several coastal States that have not yet done so have been invited to make presentations of their submissions at the plenary. Two of them � Argentina, for its partial revised submission, and Sri Lanka � have accepted this invitation.

Other invited States indicated a preference to present their submissions at a future session of the Commission on the understanding that such deferrals would not affect the position of the submissions in the queue.

The Commission is a body of 21 experts in the field of geology, geophysics or hydrography, which was established pursuant to article 2, annex II to the Convention. The Convention provides that the State party which submitted the nomination of a member of the Commission shall defray the expenses of that member while in performance of Commission duties. However, the participation of several members of the Commission from developing countries has been facilitated by financial assistance from a voluntary trust fund for the purpose of defraying the cost of participation of the members of the Commission. With respect to the 2017 sessions, support to these members will be possible thanks to generous contributions received so far from Canada, India, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.

Members of the Commission are elected for a term of five years by the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention from among their nationals, having due regard to the need to ensure equitable geographical representation. They serve in their personal capacities. The Commission makes recommendations to coastal States on matters related to the establishment of the outer limits of their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured, based on information submitted to it by coastal States. These recommendations are based on the scientific and technical data and other material provided by States in relation to the implementation of article 76 of the Convention. The recommendations do not prejudice matters relating to the delimitation of boundaries between States with opposite or adjacent coasts, or prejudice the position of States that are parties to a land or maritime dispute, or application of other parts of the Convention or any other treaties. The limits of the continental shelf established by a coastal State on the basis of these recommendations shall be final and binding.

As required under the Rules of Procedure of the Commission, the executive summaries of all the submissions, including all charts and coordinates, have been made public by the Secretary-General through continental shelf notifications circulated to Member States of the United Nations, as well as States parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The executive summaries are available on the Division’s website at www.un.org/Depts/los/clcs_new/clcs_home.htm. The summaries of recommendations adopted by the Commission are also available on the above-referenced website.

Source: United Nations