Zelenskiy’s Party Leads In Ukrainian Parliamentary Election

The party of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy won the most votes in Sunday’s parliamentary election giving the president a mandate to carry out sweeping changes in the country beset by conflict and high-level corruption. The former comedian and TV celebrity won a landslide victory in the April 21 presidential election and has called for snap elections to gain parliamentary support.  His party, Servant of the People, is named after his popular TV show, which satirized government corruption. Another new party, Voice, is headed by Ukraine’s most popular singer. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke rports the two may join to form a ruling coalition.

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Could Being Distracted by Your Phone Cause Weight Gain?

From mobile phones, tablets and laptop computers to all the different types of social media out there, modern day society as a whole is distracted in a way it never has before.  Scientists have noticed that as technology becomes more prevalent, people are also getting fatter.  VOA’s Elizabeth has the details on a Rice University study examining whether there is a link between technology habits and obesity.

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Education Key Campaign Issue for Younger Voters, But Not the Only One

Education has been a key issue for Democratic candidates running for president in the 2020 race, especially as they seek the support of younger Americans who have now replaced Baby Boomers as the country’s largest voting bloc. But education is not the only concern for these young voters.  Other social issues are likely to motivate them to go to the polls in 2020.  Sahar Majid has more in this report for VOA narrated by Kathleen Struck. 
 

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‘Stronger Than Ever’: India Set for Fresh Moon Launch Attempt

India will make a second attempt Monday to send a landmark spacecraft to the Moon after an apparent fuel leak forced last week’s launch to be aborted.

The South Asian nation is bidding to become just the fourth nation — after Russia, the United States and China — to land a spacecraft on the Moon.

The mission comes 50 years after Neil Armstrong became the first person to step foot on the moon, an occasion celebrated by space enthusiasts globally on Saturday.

The fresh launch attempt for Chandrayaan-2 — Moon Chariot 2 in some Indian languages including Sanskrit and Hindi — has been scheduled for 2:43 pm (0913 GMT) on Monday, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.

“Chandrayaan 2 is ready to take a billion dreams to the Moon – now stronger than ever before!” it said on Thursday.

The first launch attempt was scrubbed just under an hour before the scheduled lift-off because of what authorities described as a “technical snag.” Local media, citing ISRO officials, said that issue was a fuel leak.

The agency tweeted Saturday that a rehearsal for the launch was completed successfully.

Chandrayaan-2 will be launched atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) MkIII, India’s most powerful rocket.

Experts said setbacks were to be expected in such missions given their complexity, and that it was more prudent to delay the launch instead of taking risks that may jeopardise the project.

“In such an ambitious and prestigious mission like Chandrayaan, one cannot take a chance even if a small flaw is detected,” Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head of space policy at the New Delhi think tank the Observer Research Foundation, told AFP.

Former NASA scientist Kumar Krishen said India’s space agency should be praised for taking on ambitious projects like Chandrayaan-2.

“We should keep in mind that space exploration is risky as many systems have failed in the past and many lives lost,” he told AFP.

National pride

Aside from propelling India into rarefied company among spacefaring nations, Chandrayaan-2 also stands out because of its low cost.

About $140 million has been spent on preparations for the mission, a much smaller price tag compared with similar missions by other countries — whose costs often run into billions of dollars.

Chandrayaan-2, and India’s space program as a whole, are a source of national pride in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has outlined an ambitious plan to launch a crewed space mission by 2022, and India hopes to seek out commercial satellite and orbiting deals.

The new mission comes almost 11 years after the launch of India’s first lunar mission — Chandrayaan-1 — which orbited the Moon and searched for water.

The rocket carrying Chandrayaan-2 will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, an island off the coast of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The spacecraft will carry an orbiter, lander and a rover, which has been almost entirely designed and made in India.

The orbiter is planned to circle the Moon for about one year, imaging the surface and studying the atmosphere.

The lander, named Vikram, will head to the surface near the lunar South Pole carrying the rover. Once it touches down, the rover will carry out experiments while being controlled remotely by ISRO scientists.

It is expected to work for one lunar day, the equivalent of 14 Earth days, and will look for signs of water and “a fossil record of the early solar system”.

 

 

 

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Recycled Water Part of Perth’s Plan to Beat Climate Change in Australia

As drought-hit towns across New South Wales and Queensland edge closer to completely running out of water, federal and state governments in Australia are trying to come up with ways to guarantee supplies into the future. But on the other side of the continent, the city of Perth is leagues ahead in its water efficiency following a long-term decline in rainfall. Part of its survival plan relies on recycled water from toilets, a move that many consumers elsewhere still consider to be unpalatable.

Since 2017, residents in the Western Australian city of Perth have been drinking water recycled from sewage. It is filtered using a process called reverse osmosis, which is similar to forcing water through a giant sponge. It is then disinfected with ultra-violet light at a treatment plant, pumped into natural aquifers, and extracted.

Perth is a city of two million people, and Clare Lugar from Western Australia’s Water Corporation said it has had to get used to climatic changes.

“We know from the mid-70s onwards Perth’s rainfall has been declining by about 20 percent, and that has had a huge impact on our water sources that are dependent on the climate.”

Lugar said convincing residents of the benefits of drinking recycled sewage did take time.

“So, it is only a small percentage of the water that comes into the plant is actually from our toilets. But getting over that perception, that kind of image you might be drinking the water that you flushing down the toilet – that was probably one of our big challenges initially,” said Lugar.

Two desalination plants supply about half of Perth’s water. Aquifers are also crucial, but recycling produces only two percent of the total. But that figure is soon expected to rise.

Ian Wright, an expert in environmental science at Western Sydney University, believes other parts of Australia should embrace recycling.

“In Sydney that is probably 150 liters per day per person of waste water that is completely wasted, and, yes, we have the availability of desalination on the coast, but Canberra does not have desalination and then the poor drought-stricken towns like Tamworth and Dubbo, and Broken Hill, they could really, really use that now,” he said.

Australia is the world’s driest inhabited continent. Water is precious, and, in many places, scarce. More than 95 percent of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, is officially in drought, and the next three months are forecast to be drier than average.

 

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UK Treasury Chief Vows to Quit if Boris Johnson Becomes PM

British Treasury chief Philip Hammond said Sunday that he will quit if _ as widely expected — Boris Johnson becomes prime minister this week on a promise to leave the European Union with or without a divorce deal.
 
Hammond said Johnson’s vow to press for a no-deal Brexit if he can’t secure a new agreement with the EU is “not something that I could ever sign up to.”
 
Hammond was almost certain to be removed from office by the new leader in any case. He has angered Brexit-backers, who now dominate the governing Conservative Party, with his warnings about the economic pain that leaving the EU could cause.
 
Hammond told the BBC that if Johnson wins, “I’m not going to be sacked because I’m going to resign before we get to that point.”
 
Johnson is the strong favorite to win a two-person runoff to lead the Conservative Party and the country. The winner is being announced Tuesday, with the victor taking over from Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday.
 
Britain is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31 but Parliament has repeatedly rejected the divorce deal struck between May and the bloc. Both Johnson and his rival Jeremy Hunt, the current foreign secretary, say they will leave the EU without an agreement if the EU won’t renegotiate.
 
Most economists say quitting the 28-nation bloc without a deal would cause Britain economic turmoil. The U.K.’s official economic watchdog has forecast that a no-deal Brexit would trigger a recession, with the pound plummeting in value, borrowing soaring by 30 billion pounds ($37 billion) and the economy shrinking 2% in a year.
 
But Johnson, who helped lead the “leave” campaign in Britain’s 2016 EU membership referendum, says a no-deal Brexit will be “vanishingly inexpensive” if the country prepares properly.
 
The EU insists it won’t reopen the 585-page divorce deal it struck with May.
 
Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said Sunday that the bloc is “simply not going to move away from the Withdrawal Agreement.”
 
“If the approach of the new British prime minister is that they’re going to tear up the Withdrawal Agreement, then I think we’re in trouble,” he told the BBC. “We’re all in trouble, quite frankly, because it’s a little bit like saying: ‘Either give me what I want or I’m going to burn the house down for everybody.'”
 
Hammond is the third U.K. minister within a week to quit or say they will resign in order to try to prevent a cliff-edge Brexit. Britain looks set for a fall showdown between the new Conservative government and British lawmakers determined to thwart a no-deal exit.
 
“I am confident that Parliament does have a way of preventing a no-deal exit on October 31 without parliamentary consent and I intend to work with others to ensure parliament uses its power to make sure that the new government can’t do that,” Hammond said.
 

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Trump Says Swedish PM Assured Him of Fair Treatment for US Rapper

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven had assured him American citizen and rapper A$AP Rocky would be treated fairly. 
 
Trump said he assured Lofven that Rocky was not a flight risk and personally vouched for his bail. 
 
Swedish prosecutors on Friday extended Rocky’s detention by six days amid their investigation into a street fight in Stockholm. 

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