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Fortnightly News Roundup 24th June-8th July 2018

Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad
By Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom / ABr - http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/galeria/2010-07-01/presidente-da-republica-arabe-siria-visita-congresso-nacional?foto=30062010-300610JC5128, CC BY 3.0 br, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16022481
Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad
By Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom / ABr – http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/galeria/2010-07-01/presidente-da-republica-arabe-siria-visita-congresso-nacional?foto=30062010-300610JC5128, CC BY 3.0 br, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16022481

Being well informed isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be time consuming. In this feature, The Yorker is bringing you a fortnightly roundup of politics free national and international news. From the stories you’ve seen to some you might not have, this is everything you need to know from the past two weeks.


‘How Assad gassed his own people’

A detailed New York Times investigation has exposed Russian and Syrian ‘lies’ and provides compelling evidence that a chemical bomb was dropped onto Douma on the 7th of April 2018. While both Syrian and Russian officials continue to deny the attacks took place and have called them staged, the New York Times have uncovered many pieces of evidence that not only contradict these claims, but show where the attack happened, who committed the attack, when the attack took place, and the symptoms of the victims that show the nature of the attack – that being a lethal chemical attack. They have created a detailed reconstruction and a virtual crime scene that complies video evidence from Russian state broadcasts, and footage taken by first responders, along with expert analysis. Their conclusion: President Assad used a chlorine bomb to attack his own people. Watch the full video investigation here.


Floods kill at least 70 in Japan

Over the past six days parts of Japan have been hit by torrential rain that have been two to three times higher than the monthly average for all of July. Millions have been evacuated across many prefectures and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the rescue workers faced “a race against time”. Although high levels of rainfall and landslides are common in parts of Japan, Japan’s meteorological agency said that three hours of rainfall in one area were highest since records began in 1976. While residents have been taking shelter on their rooftops, rescue workers are attempting to clear away multiple landslides that are blocking the path to help the affected people. More rain is expected over the next few days in this disaster that authorities are saying could potentially be the worst Japan has seen in decades.


A greasy Milky Way?

Scientists measured the galaxy’s contents and calculated that there are around 10 billion trillion trillion tonnes of grease-like molecules. Professor Tim Schmidt, co-author of the study, said that spaceships of the future might get a sticky coating when travelling in interstellar space. The study does have a wider purpose, edging scientists ever closer to discovering the total amount of carbon in interstellar space; carbon being essential for life, planets, and stars.


What else do you need to know?

In a prison break that seems fresh out of Hollywood, some armed men took a helicopter instructor hostage, ordered him to fly into the courtyard of a French prison where they picked up a criminal, Redoine Faid, serving 25 years for a failed robbery where a police officer was killed, and flew away. The manhunt is ongoing.


The record temperatures have had disastrous results for the UK’s countrysides. Fires on Saddleworth moor and Winter Hill in Manchester, another three in Staffordshire, along with fires in other parts of England, Northern Ireland, and Wales, are stretching the local fire services.


According to a survey carried out by the government, more than two-thirds of LGBTQ+ people living in the UK are afraid to hold hands in public. See the report here and a summary here.


A new report found that the world’s tropical forests lost roughly 39 million acres of trees last year. That’s an area almost half the size of the UK.


In other environmental news, researchers in the UK have found bumble bees thrive in cities compared with their relatives in the countryside. It is thought that a lack of pesticides may play a role. Read more from The Guardian here.


The NHS turned 70 on the 5th of July 2018, you can read about its history here.


In other health related news, doctors in Copenhagen have developed an artificial ovary that could help women have children after fertility damaging cancer treatments.


On Thursday the 12th of July, President Donald Trump will visit the UK. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has given permission for a 6 metre high ‘Trump baby’ balloon to fly over the UK parliament during the visit.


In other Trump news, Indiana police discovered orange ecstasy tablets featuring the US president’s face and the words ‘great again’. But this isn’t the first time the President’s face has been found on ecstasy.


Unfortunately, another pair have been found to be suffering from the effects of Novichok poisoning. Right now, it is unclear how they came into contact with the chemical, but it seems that nothing in their background would indicate them to be a target. Sadly, the Dawn Sturgess, one of the people poisoned died on Sunday night. The investigation, which is now a murder investigation, is ongoing.  


An EU bill on copyright law that could have ‘banned memes’ failed to pass, even though it garnered much support from many top musicians.


In other copyright news, the US Postal Service accidentally put a fake Statue of Liberty on a stamp and it now owes the artist $3.5 million for copyright infringement.


The story of the 12 young footballers and their coach trapped in a Thai cave has gripped much of the world. So far, four boys have been freed. The rescue has been paused for 10 hours while oxygen tanks are refilled. If all goes to plan, the mission will restart on Monday.


England are through to the semi-finals of the World cup, the first time since 1990.


And finally

If you need any inspiration on how to deal with this heatwave, here it is.