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Atomic scientists set “Doomsday Clock” 90 seconds ahead following nuclear threats

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Atomic scientists set "Doomsday Clock" 90 seconds ahead following nuclear threats

Atomic scientists set the “Doomsday Clock” closer to midnight than ever before on Tuesday, saying threats of nuclear war, disease, and climate volatility have been exacerbated by Russia s invasion of Ukraine, putting humanity at greater risk of annihilation.

The “Doomsday Clock,” created by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to illustrate how close humanity has come to the end of the world, moved its “time” in 2023 to 90 seconds to midnight, 10 seconds closer than it has been for the past three years.

Midnight on this clock marks the theoretical point of annihilation. The clock s hands are moved closer to or further away from midnight based on scientists  reading of existential threats at a particular time.

The new time reflects a world in which Russia s invasion of Ukraine has revived fears of nuclear war.

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“Russia s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons remind the world that escalation of the conflict by accident, intention or miscalculation is a terrible risk. The possibilities that the conflict could spin out of anyone s control remains high,” Rachel Bronson, the bulletin s president and CEO told a news conference in Washington on Tuesday. 

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China’s farm ministry seeks to salvage damaged wheat

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China's farm ministry seeks to salvage damaged wheat

China’s agriculture ministry is urging local authorities to speed up the harvesting and drying of damaged grain after heavy rain flooded fields of ripe wheat in the country’s most important growing region.

Authorities should send emergency teams to drain water from fields, speed up access by harvesters and mobilise drying machinery to save as much of the crop as possible, said the ministry late on Tuesday (May 30). 

Giving further advice to these authorities, the ministry said: “Make full use of various places such as town squares or playgrounds, the front and back of houses to dry and harvest wheat to prevent sprouting and mould.”

China, the world’s top wheat grower, had expected a bumper crop this year. But heavy rain across the southern half of central Henan province last week is raising concerns.

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Henan produced 28 per cent of China’s crop of 137 million tonnes in 2021.

Darin Friedrichs, co-founder of Shanghai-based Sitonia Consulting said it was too early to say how much output would be affected, but “the harvest is definitely going to be impacted”.

“The harvest was just ramping up and some areas have seen 400 per cent precipitation anomalies over the past 10 days,” he added.

Some wheat in southern Henan has sprouted after the rain, the government-backed Henan Daily said on Wednesday, making it unfit for consumption.

More than 90 per cent of the wheat around the city of Nanyang has sprouted, said a local harvester, referring to a county in the south of the province, while Zhumadian county is also impacted.

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Buyers are purchasing the sprouted wheat at around 1,000 yuan (US$144.67) to 1,200 yuan per tonne, half of the normal price, he said, declining to be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic.

The spot wheat price in Zhengzhou fell 1.5 per cent to 2,700 yuan on Monday, weighed down by lower quality supply.

Sprouted wheat is also being seen in northern Shandong province, said the state-backed media Cngrain.com.

The agriculture ministry urged buyers to purchase sprouted wheat that can still be used for feed or industrial purposes while making sure it does not go to food.

The rain is also leading to blight in some areas, videos posted on social media and a local grain dealer said this we

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Who are the bride and groom in Jordan’s royal wedding?

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Who are the bride and groom in Jordan's royal wedding?

He’s heir to the throne in one of the oldest monarchies in the Middle East and a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. She’s a Saudi architect with an aristocratic pedigree of her own.

Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, 28, and Rajwa Alseif, 29, are to be married on Thursday at a palace wedding in Jordan, a Western-allied monarchy that has been a bastion of stability for decades as Middle East turmoil has lapped at its borders.

The families have not said how the couple met or provided any details about their courtship. They were formally engaged at a traditional Muslim ceremony in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, in August 2022 that was attended by senior members of Jordan’s royal family.

The bride and groom are destined to become a power couple in the Middle East, forging a new bond between Jordan and Saudi Arabia as the latter seeks to transform itself into a regional power broker.

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Here’s a look at the bride and groom.

A US-EDUCATED ARCHITECT WITH ARABIAN TRIBAL ROOTS

Rajwa Alseif was born in Riyadh on April 28, 1994, the youngest of four children.

Her mother, Azza bint Nayef Abdulaziz Ahmad Al Sudairi, is related to Hussa bint Ahmed Al Sudairi, who is said to have been the favorite wife of Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, and gave birth to seven of his sons, including the country’s current ruler, King Salman.

For decades, the so-called Sudairi Seven, most of whom are now deceased, were seen as a major locus of power within the Saudi royal family.

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Alseif’s father, Khalid, is a member of the Subai, a prominent tribe in the Arabian Peninsula with ancient roots. He’s also the founder of El Seif Engineering Contracting, which built Riyadh’s iconic Kingdom Tower and other high-rises across the Middle East.

Rajwa studied architecture at Syracuse University in New York, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2017. A graduation video shows her receiving her degree in sparkling silver sneakers.

The year before, she led a Spring Break architecture symposium in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, that was funded by her father’s company.

“What made this trip so memorable for me… was seeing the students in the studio experience Arabic culture and architecture for the first time,” she was quoted as saying by a university newspaper.

She went on to earn a degree in visual communications from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.

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An official biography shared by the Jordanian royal palace says her hobbies include horseback riding and handmade arts, and that she is fluent in English, French and her native Arabic.

A CROWN PRINCE LONG GROOMED TO LEAD

Crown Prince Hussein was born June 28, 1994. His path to succession became clear when his father, King Abdullah II, stripped his own half-brother, Prince Hamzah, of the title of crown prince in 2004. Hussein was formally named heir to the throne five years later, at the age of 15.

He is the oldest son of Abdullah, 61, who has ruled Jordan as a reliable Western ally and voice of moderation through more than two decades of turmoil in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Iraq, all of which border the small, resource-poor kingdom.

The Hashemites, as Jordan’s ruling family is known, trace their lineage back to the Prophet Muhammad. They dwelled in the Hejaz region of what is now Saudi Arabia for centuries before King Abdul-Aziz Al Saud’s forces drove them out in 1925.

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The Hashemites had led the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire during World War I, a rebellion dramatized by the 1962 film “Lawrence of Arabia.” They had hoped to rule over an Arab state encompassing much of the Middle East, but Western imperial powers betrayed them. The French drove them out of Syria and a nationalist uprising toppled them in Iraq, leaving them with only Jordan.

The crown prince is named for his grandfather, King Hussein, who ruled Jordan for 46 years until his death in 1999 and remains a beloved figure for many Jordanians.

It could be years before the crown prince becomes king, but his training has already begun.

He graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in international history in 2016 and from the British Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst the following year. He holds the rank of captain in the Jordanian military and routinely takes part in drills and ceremonies.

He has joined his father on overseas trips, including a recent meeting at the White House with President Joe Biden. The prince shared pictures from the visit on his Instagram feed, which has over 4 million followers and also features more casual photos.

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In 2015, Hussein was the youngest person to ever chair a meeting at the UN Security Council, leading a discussion about how to help young people confront violent extremism and promote peace. Two years later, and just out of college, he addressed the UN General Assembly.

His experiences to date may have prepared him to rule Jordan, but he also exists in a world apart from most of his fellow citizens, who have suffered in recent years from diminishing economic prospects. Elected governments in Jordan have long served as a seawall for public anger, even as the king has always held the real power.

It’s a reality the young crown prince may have to confront someday, long after his palace wedding.

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Wildfire on Canada’s Atlantic coast spurs evacuation of 16,000 people

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Wildfire on Canada's Atlantic coast spurs evacuation of 16,000 people

A wildfire on Canada’s Atlantic coast has damaged about 200 houses and other structures and prompted the evacuation of 16,000 people, many of whom were eager to return Tuesday to see whether homes and pets had survived.

Firefighters worked through the night to extinguish hotspots in the fire that started in the Halifax area on Sunday, Halifax Deputy Fire Chief David Meldrum said. He said it was too early to give an exact count of homes destroyed, but the municipal government put the toll at about 200 buildings.

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston announced the province would be banning all travel and activity in all wooded areas as of 4 p.m. local time. The ban applies to all forestry, mining, hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, off-road vehicle driving and all commercial activity on government lands.

“We’re in a very serious situation in this province, and we need to take the steps that we can to protect Nova Scotia,” he told a news conference via a video call from Shelburne, Nova Scotia, where the province’s largest wildfire has been burning since the weekend.

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“I wanted to get a sense of the damage here,” the premier said. “It’s extensive. It’s heartbreaking.”

Dan Cavanaugh was among two dozen people waiting Tuesday in a Halifax-area parking lot to learn if their suburban homes had been consumed by the wildfire.

“We’re like everyone else in this lot,” said the 48-year-old insurance adjuster. “We’re not sure if we have a house to go back to or the extent of the damages.”

Police officers were writing down the names of residents and calling people to be escorted to see what had become of their properties.

Sarah Lyon of the Nova Scotia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said an eight-member team was preparing to head out into the evacuation zone to retrieve animals left behind.

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In all, about 16,000 people have been ordered to leave their homes northwest of Halifax, most of which are within a 30-minute drive of the port city’s downtown. The area under mandatory evacuation orders covers about 100 square kilometers (38 miles).

Sonya Higgins said she and more than 40 others waited in a nearby supermarket parking lot to be led into the evacuation area, in hopes of retrieving seven cats from two homes.

Higgins runs a cat rescue operation in Halifax, and she says the pet owners contacting her are “frantic” to find their animals and get them to a safe place.

Earlier in the day, fire officials said that with the return of dry, windy conditions on Tuesday, there could be a “reburn” in the evacuated subdivisions.

The extended forecast is calling for hotter weather on Wednesday and no rain until Friday at the earliest.

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