Lee Kuan Yew, a towering figure in post-colonial Asia, oversaw tiny Singapore's transformation from British tropical outpost to an affluent, global city in just over a generation, setting the example for developing economies from China to Dubai. He retained English as Singapore's working language as a means of keeping the peace between the island's Chinese majority and Malay and Indian minorities and focused very early on in making "clean and green" Singapore, which turns 50 this year, one of Asia's most liveable and corruption-free countries. The People's Action Party (PAP), co-founded by Lee, has ruled Singapore since six years before independence, and while it has propelled the city-state into a gleaming financial hub, it has also been criticized for heavy-handed government with little tolerance of dissent. Under Lee, a huge fan of late former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, political opposition and independent media were not allowed to flourish in the same way as the economy, a state of affairs that persists to this day.
Science News Headlines
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By Jemima Kelly LONDON (Reuters) - Britain took a significant step towards becoming a global bitcoin hub on Wednesday as the government announced it would regulate digital currencies for the first time by applying anti-money laundering rules to exchanges. Already the centre of the $5-trillion-a-day market for traditional currencies, the UK is fast emerging as a centre for digital currencies too, cementing its place as European's financial technology, or "FinTech", capital. In a report published alongside finance minister George Osborne's annual budget statement, Britain's Treasury said the new regulation would support innovation and prevent criminal use of digital currencies. Tom Robinson, co-founder of Elliptic, the world's first bitcoin insurance vault in London, and a board member of the UK Digital Currency Association, said the new regulation effectively served as a "stamp of approval" from the government.
- In three-day push, Netanyahu draws right-wing … Reuters - Wed 18 Mar, 2015
By Luke Baker JERUSALEM (Reuters) - As the dust settles on a dramatic election, the immediate questions are how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to stage such a fierce comeback, why the opposition fell short and what it means for Israel, the Palestinians and the world. Four days before the vote, Netanyahu looked all but out for the count, with the last opinion polls giving the centre-left Zionist Union a four-seat lead - enough not only to win but potentially to form a governing coalition. Visiting the Har Homa settlement in the West Bank, a development he authorised when he was first prime minister in 1997, he promised to go on building Jewish homes on occupied land the Palestinians want for a state, and acknowledged the settlement was designed to cut Palestinians off from Jerusalem. In an interview the same day he promised that if he were re-elected he would not allow the establishment of a Palestinian state, a statement that flew in the face of his own past commitments and decades of international efforts to find a two-state solution to the conflict.
- Pacific nations to highlight Cyclone … Reuters - Tue 17 Mar, 2015
By Lincoln Feast SYDNEY (Reuters) - Pacific Islands devastated by Cyclone Pam at the weekend will be using the disaster to drive home the need for a globally funded insurance pool to aid in the recovery from such events when they attend climate-change talks in Paris later this year. Ian Fry, the chief climate-change negotiator for the tiny island nation of Tuvalu, said the establishment of a permanent fund to help countries cope with the impact of climate-related disasters and other "slow-onset events" such as rising sea levels was a key goal for negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris later this year. "The (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) have stated in their most recent report that these sorts of events are going to get worse as a result of climate change, and in fact they are getting worse," Fry told Reuters on Tuesday. "There's clearly a human imprint on these cyclones now, and there needs to be something done about it." Impoverished, low-lying Pacific Islands such as Vanuatu, Kiribati and Tuvalu are among the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change and have long pushed for greater global action to combat it through bodies such as the Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
- Big problem for fund managers: liking … Reuters - Mon 16 Mar, 2015
By David Randall NEW YORK (Reuters) - At more than 15 percent of his fund's assets, John Burnham, manager of the $136 million Burnham Fund, has a larger stake in Apple Inc than any other diversified fund. Yet that devotion for Apple is a problem for Burnham and some other managers of so-called diversified funds like his - they want more Apple than they can buy under self-imposed risk-reducing guidelines that typically have them holding no more than 5 percent of their assets in any one company. Burnham and the 174 fund managers like him who hold large stakes of their diversified portfolios in Apple are pulled in two directions: hoping to prevent an unforeseen drop in Apple shares from upending their portfolios, while also benefiting from a company whose shares are up 12 percent this year so far. "Your positioning in Apple may hold a big sway in how your fund does overall, particularly in categories like large blend where every basis point counts," said Laura Lutton, who oversees equity fund research at fund tracker Morningstar.
- NASA confirms ocean on Jupiter moon, … Reuters - Fri 13 Mar, 2015
By Irene Klotz CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., (Reuters) - Scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed that the Jupiter-orbiting moon Ganymede has an ocean beneath its icy surface, raising the prospects for life, NASA said on Thursday. The finding resolves a mystery about the largest moon in the solar system after NASA’s now-defunct Galileo spacecraft provided hints that Ganymede has a subsurface ocean during exploration of Jupiter and its moons from 1995 to 2003. Like Earth, Ganymede has a liquid iron core that generates a magnetic field, though Ganymede’s field is embedded within Jupiter’s magnetic field. As Jupiter rotates, its magnetic field shifts, causing Ganymede’s aurora to rock.
- Modi's budget slashes environmental … Reuters - Thu 12 Mar, 2015
By Sujit Chakraborty NEW DELHI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Environmentalists in India have expressed alarm over the new budget of the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which they say heralds substantial cuts in environmental programmes and fails to address the country’s worsening pollution and vulnerability to climate change. The budget for the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change for the fiscal year beginning April 1 has been reduced by 25 percent, from 22.6 billion Indian rupees ($360 million) to 16.8 billion rupees ($268 million). In his budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced an increase in the target for renewable energy generating capacity, to 175,000 megawatts by 2022.
- Can ultrasound fight Alzheimer's? … Reuters - Wed 11 Mar, 2015
By Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists believe they may have found a new weapon in the fight against Alzheimer's disease -- not in the form of a drug but in focused beams of ultrasound. In the past, high-energy ultrasound has been combined with injected microbubbles, which vibrate in response to sound waves, to get drugs across the so-called blood brain barrier. "Our research was very exploratory and we really didn't expect to see such a massive effect," Juergen Goetz of the University of Queensland in Brisbane, one of study authors, told Reuters. "I'm really excited by this." After several weeks of treating mice that had been genetically altered to produce amyloid plaques, the scientists found the ultrasound almost completely cleared the plaques in 75 percent of the animals, without apparent damage to brain tissue.
- Aftershocks still rattle east Japan … Reuters - Wed 11 Mar, 2015
By Elaine Lies TOKYO (Reuters) - Four years after a magnitude 9 earthquake shook northern and eastern Japan, the region is rocked by tremors at more than double the average rate of the decade before the disaster, a report this week from the Japan Meteorological Agency shows. In the latest 12 months there were 737 quakes registering at least "1" on the Japanese intensity scale of 1-7 in the quake zone, which runs more than 500 km (300 miles) from Tokyo's eastern suburbs up the northeast coast nearly to the northern tip of the main island of Honshu. Last month alone there were 64 quakes of magnitude 4 or higher in the quake zone. "In general, when there are a lot of small quakes that means it's easier for there to be a larger one as well," said Shinji Toda, a professor at Tohoku University's International Research Institute of Disaster Science in Sendai.
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- India's rapeseed crop hinges on … Reuters - Tue 10 Mar, 2015
By Ratnajyoti Dutta NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's rapeseed crop could gain in terms of oil content from a recent rainy spell in the northwest, but if the rain continues much longer it could hurt output and increase the chances of edible oil imports hitting a record high for the fourth year. "Recent rains have brought down temperature to a favourable level that promises better oil yield but we still have to watch how the temperature remains until the end of this month," said D.K. Yadav, head of seed science at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI). Harvesting of rapeseed will start in the next 10 days and if hailstorms materialise, the crop could be badly damaged. "Untimely winter rains didn't cause any major havoc, though if it rains for the next couple of days uninterruptedly, then God knows what miseries are in store for us," said Mani Ram Jat, a 47-year old farmer from Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan, the main rapeseed-producing province of India.
- For many marathon runners pacing may … Reuters - Mon 9 Mar, 2015
By Dorene Internicola NEW YORK (Reuters) - With spring just weeks away and as people begin training for upcoming marathons, research shows men and women are naturally conditioned to run the endurance races differently. In a study published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, scientists who researched runners in 14 marathons found that women who tackle the 26.2-mile (42-km) race paced themselves more evenly than men. "We need to find out why women are pacing differently," said Dr. Sandra Hunter, professor of exercise science at Marquette University in Milwaukee. While the extent varied, the sex difference in pacing occurred at all 14 marathons studied, the study showed.
- Box Office: 'Chappie' Stumbles, … Reuters - Sun 8 Mar, 2015
By Brent Lang LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - Neill Blomkamp's "Chappie" and "Unfinished Business" with Vince Vaughn added up to a weekend to forget at the U.S. box office. Going into the weekend, Sony Pictures was aiming for a debut of roughly $15 million and some analysts expected the film could hit $20 million. "There's been a glut of R-rated movies starting from the first of the year," said Rory Bruer, Sony's worldwide distribution chief. Original science-fiction films have had a rocky go of it at the box office of late, with "Seventh Son," "Jupiter Ascending" and "Project Almanac" all crashing on the shoals of audience indifference.
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