Insect named after Frodo
New Zealand researchers have named an insect after J.R.R. Tolkein’s famous hobbit character Frodo Baggins. Like the famous literary character, the insect is smaller than its relations and is found in New Zealand’s South Island, the location where the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies were filmed. The Psylla frodobagginsi was identified by Francesco Martoni and Karen Armstrong, who examined the psyllid insects during research for Martoni’s doctorate, with the New Zealand’s Bio-Protection Research Centre. During their research, the pair also solved an 87-year-old mystery about why there was so much variation in what is called the kwhai psyllid. There are two distinct varieties of psyllid: the Psylla apicalis and the slightly smaller Psylla frodobagginsi.
Outrage over proposed laws
A proposed new criminal code that could see state critics and people who have extramarital sex imprisoned is causing uproar in Indonesia. In the past 24 hours more than 300,000 people have signed a petition calling for President Joko Widodo to step in and stop the draft penal code from being passed. The draft — which is expected to be put forward next week — will apply to everyone in Indonesia, including foreigners, although it is not clear how it would be enforced in holiday hotspots such as Bali. Among a series of contentious provisions are articles that would outlaw de facto relationships and extramarital sex — an article activists fear would in effect criminalize same-sex relations — while insulting the president would also be punishable by 3.5 years in prison.
Pesticide linked to attacks
Fumigation against mosquitoes in Cuba and not “sonic attacks” might have caused about 40 US and Canadian diplomats and family members in Havana to fall ill, according to a new study commissioned by the Canadian government. The incidents took place from late 2016 through last year, causing US President Donald Trump’s administration to charge that diplomats were attacked by some sort of secret weapon. The study by a team of researchers affiliated with the Brain Repair Centre at Dalhousie University and the Nova Scotia Health Authority studied Canadian victims. The researchers said they had found different levels of brain damage in an area that causes symptoms reported by the diplomats and concluded that cholinesterase, a key enzyme required for the proper functioning of the nervous system, was being blocked there. Some pesticides inhibit cholinesterase, the report said, and during the period when diplomats became ill normal fumigation in Cuba was stepped up due to the Zika epidemic.
POINT-BLANK RANGE: Reporters and camera people from several outlets say police officers in Minneapolis had fired tear gas and rubber bullets directly at them Multiple journalists on the ground in Minnesota said they were teargassed and subject to other attacks by police on Saturday evening, a day after the widely condemned arrest of a CNN reporter live on air. Los Angeles Times journalist Molly Hennessy-Fiske, who was reporting outside the Fifth Precinct in Minneapolis, said she was with a group of about a dozen journalists when the Minnesota State Patrol “fired tear gas canisters on us at point blank range.” “I was saying: ‘Where do we go?’ They did not tell us where to go. They didn’t direct us. They just fired on us,” she said
For nearly a decade, the UN Security Council has been frequently paralyzed by Russia’s obstinacy over the Syrian crisis. Today, however, it is the US-China rivalry that has infected a growing array of issues, according to officials and diplomats. As recently as 2017, an understanding between Washington and Beijing allowed the UN on three occasions — involving separate sets of economic sanctions — to project international unity in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat. Three years later, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a ferocious competition erupt between the UN’s two main contributors, prompting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on May
INDIA Pride to be preserved The nation would not let its “pride be hurt” in its latest border flare-ups with China, but is determined to settle the dispute through talks, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh said in a television interview late on Saturday. “Situations arise with China. It has happened before,” Singh said, adding that the government was striving to make sure “tension does not escalate.” The government has turned down US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate, he said. IRAN Speaker says talks futile Newly elected Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf yesterday said that any negotiations with the US would be “futile.” The nation’s
PANDEMIC BIGOTRY? The convener of a community group said that COVID-19 did not cause racism in Australia, but the incidents were a symptom of a bigger issue Anti-Discrimination New South Wales (NSW) has recorded a surge in anti-Asian racism during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state anti-discrimination body said that it received 241 official complaints from Jan. 1 to April 30. Of those, 62 were on the grounds of race — an average of four complaints a week — including reports of people being abused or spat at in public, harassed for wearing a mask and car windows being smashed. Those statistics do not include more serious complaints referred to the NSW police, rather than Anti-Discrimination NSW. Anti-Discrimination NSW president Annabelle Bennett said that the agency had experienced an “increase in