North Korea's latest nuclear test is likely to pile more pressure on China to take tough action against its neighbor, but Beijing already doubts economic sanctions will work and says it is not its sole responsibility to rein in Pyongyang.
China has lambasted the West and its allies over recent weeks for promoting the "China responsibility theory" for North Korea, and been upset by Seoul and Washington's own military drills that Beijing says have done nothing to cool tensions.
"The United States has to play its own role and should not be blindly putting pressure on China to try and squeeze North Korea," said Ruan Zongze, a former Chinese diplomat now with the China Institute of International Studies, a think-tank affiliated with the Foreign Ministry.
North Koreans watch a news report showing the country's intermediate-range missile launch in Pyongyang, North Korea, on August 30. Kyodo/via Reuters
While the seriousness of Sunday's nuclear test means China will likely support tough new action, including possibly cutting off oil supplies, China will make clear others need to step up too, Ruan added.
Over the past week, China's foreign ministry has repeatedly hit back at calls from Western countries and Japan for China for to do more to rein in North Korea, saying that pushing for dialogue was an equally integral part of the U.N. resolutions, and that escalating sanctions alone had been evidently ineffective.
"On the one hand, sanctions have continued to be put in place via resolutions and on the other hand North Korea's nuclear and missile launch process is still continuing," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said last week.
The Global Times, a state-run newspaper, also attacked British and Australian leaders for calling on China to do more, especially Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's suggestion that China should cut off oil supplies to North Korea.
The tone in which China has pushed back has had some Western diplomats raising questions over the extent to which Beijing would be willing to stomach further sanctions, before it argues that they could destabilize the Kim Jong Un regime.
China's big fear has always been that cutting North Korea off completely could lead to its collapse, unleashing a wave of refugees into China's rustbelt provinces in the northeast.
One Beijing-based Western diplomat, speaking late last week before the nuclear test, said China had cooperated with the United States on sanctions to a certain degree, in order not to give Washington a pretext for a military strike.
"But they won't go far enough to have an impact on North Korea's determination to become a nuclear power," the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
China has not publicly said it will back new sanctions. A brief Foreign Ministry statement on Sunday condemned the test and urged North Korea to stop its "wrong actions" and return to talks.
Zhang Liangui, a North Korea expert at the Central Party School, which trains rising officials, however said Pyongyang had made repeatedly clear that it would not give up its nuclear weapons program and that while sanctions were unlikely to prove useful, the chances of resolving the Korean peninsula crisis through talks were also "miniscule, if not already non-existent".
The Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, wrote in April that Chinese people would approve of far tougher action, including restricting oil exports, if North Korean provocations continued.
China, which supplies most of North Korea's crude, no longer reports its oil shipments to the country, but according to South Korean data supplies it with roughly 500,000 tonnes of crude oil annually. It also exports over 200,000 tonnes of oil products, according to U.N. data.
The timing of the nuclear test overshadowed the start of a summit of the BRICS group of nations in the southeastern Chinese city of Xiamen, coming just hours ahead of a keynote speech by President Xi Jinping.
Xi himself did not mention North Korea during a 45-minute speech, while Chinese state media gave top billing to him and the summit, with the nuclear test receiving only passing mention.
To be sure, China has a lot to gain by stopping North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, and China says it is committed to the U.N. sanctions already in force.
North Korea is an unpopular country with ordinary Chinese, though there is still a residual feeling of loyalty to Pyongyang in the military owing to shared sacrifices in the 1950-53 Korean War, diplomats and sources with ties to the military say.
Ruan, the former diplomat, said quick action was needed to address the problem as both North Korea and the United States were stepping up their war of words and appeared to be goading each other towards armed conflict.
"You certainly can't rule out the possibility that weapons will be used," he said.
Gender equality has been achieved! Well, that depends on whom you ask. Most Americans would disagree, but you’re more likely to hear that women don’t face major difficulties in getting ahead than men do if you ask a man, even more likely if you ask a Republican and most likely if you ask a Republican man. Raise your hand if you are surprised. Anyone?
Overall, most Americans (55 percent) believe there are "significant obstacles" blocking womens' progress while 42 percent think those barriers "are now largely gone," according to a wide-ranging study from the Pew Research Center.
However, there is a significant gender gap and an even more significant partisan divide in Americans’ views on this question.
Most women (64 percent) agree that the economic and social playing fields are not level while 34 percent believe that gender equality has arrived. But a minority of men (46 percent) think womens' paths are still difficult in society, while 51 percent are convinced those obstacles are largely gone.
A new Pew Research Center study found that most Americans believe “there are still significant obstacles that make it harder for women to get ahead than men." But that's not true of most Republicans. Shown here, a female office worker writes a letter circa 1950s. George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images
The contrast is even more stark when you look at the responses along party lines. A large majority of Democratic respondents (73 percent) say women still face hurdles while only 34 percent of Republicans believe gender barriers still exist. Unsurprisingly, Democratic women and Republican men have the strongest disagreement on the question: 79 percent of Democratic-leaning females see gender inequality, and 70 percent of Republican-leaning men think there isn't a problem.
The Pew study, published on Thursday, comes at a time when the gender pay gap, though smaller than it once, still persists. In a recent report, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research found a 19.5 percent pay gap between women and men who work full-time and year-round, and predicted that if the annual earnings ratio continues to change at the same rate as it has since 1960, the gap won’t close until 2059. The “Women in the Workplace 2016” report from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. found that women are less likely to be promoted than men, are more likely to face resistance when they negotiate for a raise, receive less feedback and get less access to senior leaders.
Pew’s research was released the same day The New York Times published its investigation into Harvey Weinstein, reporting that the influential Hollywood producer and executive had paid off at least eight settlements related to sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact allegations during his career. He’s not the only high-profile man whose treatment of women in professional contexts has recently been called into question. There was Roger Ailes and just within the last few weeks Harry Knowles and Andy Signore.
A study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in 2016 found that “nearly three-quarters of our respondents thought that the female partners in heterosexual couples should be responsible for cooking, doing laundry, cleaning the house and buying groceries,” lead author Natasha Quadlin wrote. “Regardless of the partner's relative income or gendered hobbies and interests, our respondents gravitated toward the person's sex instead.”
To summarize, women are paid less, have a harder time getting promotions and raises, suffer harassment and are still expected to do much of the work at home regardless of the work they do at the office. Now, should we ask the question again?
The first hominin species, a line that eventually leads to humans, may have emerged in Europe 7.2 million years ago and not Africa—the most widely accepted starting point for our ancestors.
An international team of scientists has presented two studies that suggest the divergence point between chimpanzees and humans took place in the Eastern Mediterranean rather than East Africa. Their findings, published in PLOS ONE, are based on two fossils of the species Graecopithecus freybergi, which were discovered in Greece and Bulgaria and have now been dated to between 7.2 and 7.1 million years ago.
Previously, scientists had thought hominins and chimps split between seven and five million years ago, with the first in the hominin line emerging in Africa. But these fossils, scientists say, tell a different story about the onset of human evolution.
Both fossils—a lower jaw and an upper premolar—were examined using state-of-the-art computer tomography, allowing the scientists to look at their internal structures.
Their findings showed the teeth are fused in a way that is characteristic of early humans, including Ardipithecus and Australopithecus, the latter of which the famous Lucy fossil belongs to. The jawbone also had dental root features that appear to belong to a pre-human rather than to an ancient chimp.
7.24 million year old upper premolar of Graecopithecus from Bulgaria. Wolfgang Gerber, University of Tübingen
This raises the possibility that the fossils represent the oldest hominin ever discovered and that the “major splits in the hominid family occurred outside Africa,” they wrote.
Researchers say environmental changes caused the divergence and used geological analysis to reconstruct the conditions from the Sahara to the Mediterranean during this time. They showed that the desert would have spread far into Southern Europe, creating a barrier between Africa and the locations where Graecopithecus was found.
The study has been met with skepticism because the vast majority of fossil evidence appears to suggest our ancestors emerged in Africa and migrated outwards.
Lower jaw of the 7.175 million-year-old Graecopithecus from Greece. Wolfgang Gerber, University of Tübingen
James Cole, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Brighton, U.K., tells Newsweek that while the authors are cautious in saying Graecopithecus is potentially the oldest known hominin, their conclusions are still bold: “What they are definitely suggesting is that rather than the divergence point that eventually leads to us—the hominin route—being in Africa, they are strongly suggesting, in both papers, that it is the eastern Mediterranean landscape where that is happening. Which is remarkable.
“It’s certainly not impossible that this is the case. The rate we are finding out about our hominin ancestors in terms of their evolutionary story over the last five years has been absolutely phenomenal. What it probably shows us if anything is that we don’t know an awful lot.”
Cole says that the studies show that there was a connected landmass between Africa and Europe and that the desert between them created a barrier, dividing populations and causing a new species to emerge.
But the fossilised hominim is not necessarily our earliest ancestor and may have separated from some other early species that would eventually go on to become Ardipithecus.
“ If we just try to look at it with hominin dispersals in context, there have certainly been primates and hominin species moving in and out of Africa and we tend to see the drawings of the arrows moving in one direction, but there’s no reason why they can’t be bidirectional,” he says.
“The strength of the study is showing we’ve been very East African focused for the origin point, and that that focus perhaps needs to be broadened a bit more so than we’ve been willing to do in the past. That’s not to say East Africa or the continent isn’t the origin point, but I think it’s clearly demonstrated that there is a lot going on around elsewhere in the Middle East and Europe.
“For me personally, I think Africa is still a strong contender for the split between chimpanzees, bonobos and whatever ends up with us,ancient hominins, but they are certainly putting forward a case in these two papers that is well worth archaeologists, paleoanthropologists, experts in the field, looking again at the record and thinking of if the African story does still stack up.”
In an email interview with Newsweek , study author Madelaine Böhme says they do not doubt the presence of early hominins in Africa, “but the oldest potential hominin has been found in Greece and Bulgaria. That is the fact we present.”
“We not only provide the advanced hominin-like features of Graeocopithecus and a very exact age, we importantly provide a totally new mechanism explaining the split of chimps and humans — we are calling it 'North Side Story'.” She says the barrier the desert would have created would have separated populations for at least 500 to 700,000 years.
Böhme also says it is too easy to consider the specimens as just anomalies within the fossil record: “I dismiss such views,” she says, adding the next task will be to find more evidence to back up their findings: “We will try to find new materials of Graecopithecus. The chances are now quite good.”
Former FIA president Max Mosley fears Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One legacy may be in jeopardy after he was removed as chief executive by the motorsport’s new owner.
U.S. giant Liberty Media removed 86-year-old Ecclestone from his role as chief executive, and replaced him with chairman Chaser Carey, after completing its £6.4 billion ($8 million) takeover of the sport in January.
Ecclestone worked closely with Mosley throughout his 39 years at the head of Formula One, and Mosley insists there is uncertainty surrounding the future of the sport.
“His [Ecclestone’s] legacy at the moment is going to be Formula One. How that survived remains to be seen,” Mosley tells Newsweek. “Because there is now change and it may get better, it may get worse.
“For sure, it’s going to change, and that may not be bad because, in a way, Formula One depends on fashion and fashion means change. It’s absolutely impossible to predict whether it will be successful or not.”
Mosley, who served as FIA president from 1993 through 2009, worked alongside Ecclestone as a legal advisor in the Formula One Constructors Association, formed in 1974. The 76-year-old believes Liberty has made a mistake in removing Ecclestone from his position.
“I think it’s a pity,” Mosley adds. “If it had been me, I would have asked him to stay on and do the things he’s really good at. But it’s their business, they own it. They have to decide what to do.”
Liberty has appointed Ecclestone as chairman emeritus, a newly-created position, and he will remain in an advisory role to the board. But Mosley believes the title has little meaning. “I think that’s like being an emeritus academic; it means he’s retired,” he says.
As part of the changes implemented by Liberty in Formula One, former Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has made a return to the sport to lead the technical side. Former ESPN executive Sean Bratches has been appointed to lead the commercial side.
Mosley spoke to Newsweek at an F1 event in aid of children’s charity Starlight, where Anthony Hamilton, father of Mercedes driver Lewis, also expressed his concern at the removal of Ecclestone.
“I think it’s a big, big shame; I’m going to miss him,” Hamilton tells Newsweek. “If it is real, because I still can’t believe it, then I think it’s a big shame for the sport.
“He is Formula One, isn’t he? What are you going to do? Are you going to unravel the rule book? Just what are you going to do? Because I am not clear.”
Hamilton is urging Liberty to take a year or two before making any drastic changes, but he believes the first aim should be to get more fans attending Grand Prix races.
“You get bums on seats, you get more people with bums on seats at home, don’t you?” he says. “And I think the other important thing is we need great drivers. Not just drivers with lots of budget behind them, mummy and daddy have got lots of money… If we go [down] that route, Formula One will disintegrate in the next five years.”
The 2017 season begins in Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix on March 26.
Anita Hill knows something about sexual harassment and the consequences of coming forward to tell the world a powerful, talented man did something he shouldn’t have. Hill’s character was attacked and testimony doubted after she spoke out as a young law professor against President George H. W. Bush’s 1991 nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.
More than 25 years later, Hill has weighed in on the case of another powerful, talented man whose decades-long career, it turns out, includes a mountain of sexual harassment and assault allegations. Days after The New York Times published the first part of an investigation into producer Harvey Weinstein—which revealed at least eight settlements over allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact—Hill shared her thoughts in a guest column for Variety.
“Successful men do harass. They act in ways that are abusive and sometimes illegal. Too many of us are under the impression that the people who do this are losers, and that’s not the case,” Hill, now a professor of law, public policy and women’s studies at Brandeis University, told Brent Lang for the “as-told-to” column published Tuesday. “Liberal men, high-achieving men, educated men, men who claim to support women, can be harassers,” she added. “It may not be Harvey Weinstein doing these things, but it may be someone like Harvey Weinstein, who is prominent and progressive, who is abusing women.”
Anita Hill speaks onstage at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit at Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California, on October 19, 2016. Hill weighed in on the Harvey Weinstein allegations in a guest column for Variety, more than 25 years after she testified against Clarence Thomas, then a nominee for Supreme Court justice. Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Fortune
In order to understand harassment, she explained, people need to understand that men who harass don’t fit one narrow stereotype. They’re not all openly hostile to women or gender equality. And they’re not necessarily Republicans or Democrats. “When we put harassers in a political category, we’re doing that based on a failure to look at the reality of harassment,” Hill told Lang. “One of the paradoxes is that very liberal industries like entertainment, like tech, are still producing or reproducing the same types of behavior that have been going on in more traditional settings all along.”
Hill is not without hope that industries and people can change. “But I think that after 30 years, you don’t get a chance to change and pretend it didn’t happen,” she told Lang. “Harvey Weinstein’s behavior continued beyond the ’60s and ’70s, so when he says, ‘I came of age in that era,’ it is no excuse.”
An investigation published by The New Yorker on Tuesday, shortly after Hill’s column came out, suggested there were in fact professional consequences to women who refused Weinstein. Ronan Farrow wrote:
Whatever the industry, “there’s a question of whether or not you want to take a risk with your entire career by coming forward against this very powerful man,” Hill explained. “There’s also a concern that this is what you’re going to be measured by for your entire life. I certainly have that concern, and I live it,” she added. “It’s a choice that I made, but every person has to handle that question in his or her own way.”
For years, people all across the globe have tuned into Sir David Attenborough’s documentaries and TV shows to learn more about living things on Earth, whether ancient or currently roaming about. Now fans of the Planet Earth narrator will soon be able to have an up close and personal journey of their own with the renowned naturalist via a hologram of Attenborough that will guide users through a virtual reality experience at the Natural History Museum in London.
The Hold the World VR experience from British broadcasting giant Sky combines interactive game technology with Attenborough's documentaries. It will lead users through a tour of the museum, giving the public first-hand access to fossils, skulls and bones as Attenborough’s hologram discusses the museum’s excavation sites and the animals behind the fossils.
In a statement, 90-year-old Attenborough said the partnership with Sky would give VR users an intimate view of rare objects that most people never get to see up close. The product is slated to go into production later this year.
"Hold The World offers people a unique opportunity: to examine rare objects, some millions of years old, up close. It represents an extraordinary new step in how people can explore and experience nature, all from the comfort of their own homes,” he said.
All users need to join the experience is the Sky VR phone app, a VR set and a controller.
Sir Michael Dixon, director of the Natural History Museum, said the VR tour was one of the more “innovative” ways the museum was looking to share artifacts in its collection.
“Objects in the museum collection offer invaluable insight about the origins of life, the Earth and our solar system - stories that are key to understanding how we can best protect our planet's future,” he said in a statement.
The Hold the World experience is just one of Sky’s latest projects to boost use of VR technology. The company recently announced 12 VR film projects, two of which are in conjunction with Sky’s Formula One Coverage, which transports VR users to a Formula 1 testing site in Barcelona where they can explore the pit lane and team garages and even get behind the wheel of the race car.
Sky Chief Executive Jermy Darroch told The Guardian that projects like Hold the World and Formula One Coverage have the potential to become big hits with audiences as VR technology becomes more popular.
“VR and augmented reality have good long-term potential in the market,” he said.