Back to school 2019: A lesson plan from the science of learning


By the year 2000, every adult American will be literate and will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy…”

These words were penned in 1990 by the U.S. Department of Education. Sadly, the goals were not met. Two decades later, 43 million adults—roughly 20 percent —in the United States struggle with written texts needed to participate in society.

And in our knowledge economy, by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require a post-secondary education. Thus salaries and even adequate health care demand that we solve the reading problem.

The need to improve literacy helps illuminate two points. First, there is serious misalignment between what the science tells us and what we are doing in the classroom.

Second, it is imperative that our schools train teachers in the latest science so that they can teach in ways that best suit how human brains learn.

Source: Back to school 2019: A lesson plan from the science of learning

Hong Kong leader to hold dialogue aimed at easing tensions | Reuters


Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, said on Tuesday she and her team would begin dialogue sessions with the community next week, while reiterating that violence that has roiled the city over three months of protests must end.

Lam, who is under pressure from Beijing to defuse the public anger stirring the protests, said the dialogue sessions would be as open as possible, with members of the public able to sign up to attend.

Source: Hong Kong leader to hold dialogue aimed at easing tensions – Reuters

Warning of election ‘disaster’, Israel’s Netanyahu battles for survival | Reuters


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu battled for his political survival in the final hours of a close-run election on Tuesday, urging voters to support him to avert a “disaster.”

His voice hoarse from weeks of campaigning, the veteran leader took to the streets and social media, at one point using a megaphone in Jerusalem’s bus station, to urge voters to extend his unbroken decade in power.

Source: Warning of election ‘disaster’, Israel’s Netanyahu battles for survival – Reuters

Strikes on Saudi oil disrupt global supply

The oil-processing plant of Abqaiq is located 60 km (37 miles) southwest of Aramco’s Dhahran headquarters. It handles crude from the world’s largest conventional oil field, the supergiant Ghawar, and exports to terminals Ras Tanura — the world’s biggest offshore oil loading facility — and Juaymah. It also pumps westwards across the kingdom to export terminals on the Red Sea.

While the Houthis claimed responsibility for the attack, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo put the blame squarely on Iran, writing on Twitter that there was “no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

Source: Strikes on Saudi oil disrupt global supply

India arrests senior Kashmir leader under controversial law


A Parliament member who is a senior pro-India politician in Indian-controlled Kashmir was arrested Monday under a controversial law that allows authorities to imprison someone for up to two years without charge or trial.

Farooq Abdullah, 81, who also was the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested at his residence in Srinagar, the summer capital and main city of the disputed Himalayan region.

“We have arrested him, and a committee will decide how long the arrest will be,” said Muneer Khan, a top police official.

Abdullah is the first pro-India politician who has been arrested under the Public Safety Act, under which rights activists say more than 20,000 Kashmiris have been detained in the last two decades.

Source: India arrests senior Kashmir leader under controversial law

Averting a Cross-Strait Crisis Between China and Taiwan


The risk of a serious crisis between China and Taiwan is growing. Cross-strait relations have chilled in recent years as a result of the unwillingness of Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen to embrace the so-called 1992 Consensus—an understanding that was the basis for a warmer relationship between Beijing and Taipei under Tsai’s predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou of the Kuomintang (KMT).

According to the KMT, the 1992 Consensus holds that both mainland China and Taiwan belong to “one China” but with distinct interpretations. Beijing’s stance, however, is that the 1992 Consensus means there is “one China,” which is the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and that Taiwan is part of the PRC.

China responded to Tsai’s refusal to endorse its approach to the 1992 Consensus by implementing a multifaceted pressure campaign to punish and coerce Taiwan into being more compliant.

Beijing’s tactics have included suspending official and semiofficial mechanisms for cross-strait communications, reducing the number of mainland tourists allowed to visit Taiwan, pressuring countries that recognize Taiwan to sever diplomatic relations with the island, and conducting military exercises and information operations designed to intimidate Taiwan.

This pressure campaign could intensify in the next twelve to eighteen months—particularly in the lead-up to and immediately following Taiwan’s 2020 presidential election—to the extent that it triggers a new cross-strait crisis.

Source: Averting a Cross-Strait Crisis Between China and Taiwan

Is Iran Escalating Gulf Energy Attacks? | Council on Foreign Relations


Iran has at its disposal an impressive range of capabilities. It has a sophisticated arsenal of missiles that can accurately target Saudi Arabia and has upgraded its drone capacity over the years.

In Iraq, Iran has trained and armed Shiite militias, it has penetrated Iraqi security services, and it has its share of political allies there. If the attack was made by the Houthis in Yemen, the missile capabilities had to come from Iran.

As more evidence comes in, the nature of this attack will become clearer.

Source: Is Iran Escalating Gulf Energy Attacks? | Council on Foreign Relations

A new team to defend Europe’s economic sovereignty | EURACTIV.com


Achieving a “more assertive” Europe that can improve its competitiveness and sovereignty in an increasingly hostile world. These are the main guidelines of President-elect Ursula von der Leyen to the new College of Commissioners, unveiled on Tuesday (10 September).

Europe is losing ground in the digital race that is reshaping the economy and society at large. China is now considered a “systemic rival”, while the US is no longer a reliable partner since the election of Donald Trump, with preparations underway in Washington to step up the trade war against Europe.

According to Ursula von der Leyen, this is why the protection of Europe’s sovereignty – and its economic might – has to be top of the agenda for her new team of commissioners.

Source: A new team to defend Europe’s economic sovereignty – EURACTIV.com

EU defence funding far too small for big ambitions: report | EURACTIV.com


EU’s objective to increase defence spending to €22.5 billion over the next decade is insufficient for its ambitions in the sector, the European Court of Auditors said Thursday (12 September) in its annual review paper on the bloc’s defence cooperation and policy.

If the EU tried to defend itself without help from its big NATO ally, the United States, “it is estimated that an investment of several hundred billion euros would be needed to overcome the current capabilities gap,” the report underlined.

“Significant and uncoordinated cuts in member states’ defence budgets, together with underinvestment, have affected their military capabilities,” the report highlights.

Source: EU defence funding far too small for big ambitions: report – EURACTIV.com

Graça Machel: Africa Needs Clean Energy and Climate Justice | Time


Climate change is a global challenge that demands global solutions. But we must acknowledge the fact that the most underresourced parts of the world are bearing the brunt of climate change, despite bearing the least responsibility for rising emissions.

If we are to limit global temperature increases, Africa needs to develop in a way that is truly sustainable. That means sources of energy that are clean and green—­innovative renewables that will set a global example.

Source: Graça Machel: Africa Needs Clean Energy and Climate Justice | Time