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UN Weekly Roundup: Jan. 27-Feb. 3, 2023 

Editor’s note: Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch.  Two years since Myanmar military coup The U.N. special rapporteur for Myanmar warned Tuesday that two years after its coup, Myanmar’s military will try to legitimize its hold on power through sham elections this year, and he urged the international community not to recognize or engage with the junta. Humanitarians await ‘guidelines’ from Afghan Taliban on women aid workers The U.N. humanitarian chief said …


Have We Been Visited by Aliens? Depends on Whom You Ask

Logistics manager Nicholas Rehak was visiting his parent’s home in Baltimore County, Maryland, several years ago. He was standing on the back deck one night when he noticed a bluish white light. “It was shaped in a damn near perfect oval and it started to rise,” Rehak told VOA. “I’m talking straight up vertical, no deviation. It sat there for nearly 30 seconds and then suddenly it vanished — like a lamp when someone pulls the plug. Just sudden darkness.” Perhaps it was a drone. Rehak said that was his …


Musk Found Not Liable in Tesla Tweet Trial

Jurors on Friday cleared Elon Musk of liability for investors’ losses in a fraud trial over his 2018 tweets falsely claiming that he had funding in place to take Tesla private. The tweets sent the Tesla share price on a rollercoaster ride, and Musk was sued by shareholders who said the tycoon acted recklessly in an effort to squeeze investors who had bet against the company. Jurors deliberated for barely two hours before returning to the San Francisco courtroom to say they unanimously agreed that neither Musk nor the Tesla …


Two-Century-Old Mystery of Waterloo’s Skeletal Remains

More than 200 years after Napoleon met defeat at Waterloo, the bones of soldiers killed on that famous battlefield continue to intrigue Belgian researchers and experts, who use them to peer back to that moment in history. “So many bones — it’s really unique!” exclaimed one such historian, Bernard Wilkin, as he stood in front of a forensic pathologist’s table holding two skulls, three femurs and hip bones. He was in an autopsy room in the Forensic Medicine Institute in Liege, eastern Belgium, where tests are being carried out on …


US May Lift Protections for Yellowstone, Glacier Grizzlies

The Biden administration took a first step Friday toward ending federal protections for grizzly bears in the northern Rocky Mountains, which would open the door to future hunting in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said state officials provided “substantial” information that grizzlies have recovered from the threat of extinction in the regions surrounding Yellowstone and Glacier national parks. But federal officials rejected claims by Idaho that protections should be lifted beyond those areas, and they raised concerns about new laws from the Republican-led states that …


Australia to Legalize MDMA And Magic Mushrooms for Medical Use

Australia’s drugs watchdog on Friday announced that psychedelic substances MDMA and psilocybin — more commonly known as ecstasy and magic mushrooms — will soon be used in the treatment of depression and post-traumatic stress. Psychiatrists will be able to prescribe the two substances from July, the Therapeutic Goods Administration said after finding “sufficient evidence for potential benefits in certain patients.” The two drugs are currently “prohibited substances” and can only be used in closely controlled clinical trials. The administration said they had been found to be “relatively safe” when administered …


France Seeks Strategy as Nuclear Waste Site Risks Saturation Point

At a nuclear waste site in Normandy, robotic arms guided by technicians behind a protective shield maneuver a pipe that will turn radioactive chemicals into glass as France seeks to make safe the byproducts of its growing reliance on atomic power. The fuel-cooling pools in La Hague, on the country’s northwestern tip, could be full by the end of the decade and state-owned Orano, which runs them, says the government needs to outline a long-term strategy to modernize its aging facilities no later than 2025. While more nuclear energy can …


Eye Drops Recalled After US Drug-Resistant Bacteria Outbreak

U.S. health officials said Thursday a company is recalling its over-the-counter eye drops that have been linked to an outbreak of drug-resistant infections. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week sent a health alert to doctors, saying the outbreak included at least 55 people in 12 states. One died and at least five others had permanent vision loss. The infections, including some found in blood, urine and lungs, were linked to EzriCare Artificial Tears. Many said they had used the product, which is a lubricant used to treat …


ChatGPT: The Promises, Pitfalls and Panic

Excitement around ChatGPT — an easy to use AI chatbot that can deliver an essay or computer code upon request and within seconds — has sent schools into panic and turned Big Tech green with envy. The potential impact of ChatGPT on society remains complicated and unclear even as its creator Wednesday announced a paid subscription version in the United States. Here is a closer look at what ChatGPT is (and is not): Is this a turning point?   It is entirely possible that November’s release of ChatGPT by California …


Punxsutawney Phil Sees Shadow, Forecasts Six More Weeks of Winter

A legendary U.S. groundhog, from the (east central U.S.) town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, was pulled from his burrow early Thursday, with local officials declaring he saw his shadow, indicating, according to legend, there will be at least six more weeks of winter. The annual observance of Groundhog Day on February 2 brings thousands of revelers to the town—located about 105 kilometers northeast of Pittsburgh—each year. Local officials, dressed in top hats and long coats, make a show of pulling the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil from his underground burrow to get …


Canadian Province Decriminalizes Small Amount of Hard Drugs

Personal possession of a small amount of hard drugs is now legal in the Canadian province of British Columbia. The controversial move is intended to reduce deaths from drug use. The personal possession of 2.5 grams of hard drugs, including cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine and morphine, has now been decriminalized. This temporary exemption means a person found with a small quantity of these drugs will not have them seized nor face arrest or any criminal charges.  An average of six people a day die in British Columbia from …