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World Bank approves $500m loan for Ukraine

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Kiev: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a loan of 500 million US dollars to help with Ukraine’s structural and macroeconomic reforms, the bank’s press service said in a statement on Wednesday. The funds will be used to improve Ukraine’s public sector governance, business environment, energy sphere and social assistance, said the statement, Xinhua reported.

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Commenting on the new financing, Fan Qimiao, the bank’s country director for Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, said that the loan is designed to help Kiev to address the structural challenges that contributed to Ukraine’s current economic crisis. “We are helping Ukraine to implement an urgent set of measures, which will be essential to stabilize the economy, provide quality services to all Ukrainians and return the country to a sustainable growth path,” Fan was quoted as saying by the World Bank’s press service.

The World Bank would allocate the funds as part of its broader program designed to support recovery of Ukraine’s cash-strapped economy. In February, the bank promised to loan two billion dollars to the war-torn country in support of its banking, governance, business reform and investment. The Ukrainian economy, which dropped 6.8 percent last year, is expected to plunge deeper into recession, with government forecasting a contraction of 9.5 percent in 2015.

(IANS)

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Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster: Stray Dogs Receive Treatment From a US-Based Team of Veterinarians

The dogs survived despite what was called “open season,” when soldiers were allowed to hunt the animals after the nuclear disaster

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Chernobyl
Stray dogs near the ghost city of Prypyat near Chernobyl. RFERL

Chernobyl, August 23, 2017: A Boston-based international animal-welfare group says it is sending a veterinary team to Ukraine to treat dogs near the site of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The Four Paws group said on August 20 that hundreds of descendants of abandoned dogs in the Chernobyl area are wandering in and around the destroyed reactor and many live in areas with radioactive contamination, including in the ghost city of Prypyat.

The veterinarians will join a group of other experts already in the region to provide rabies vaccinations, medical treatment, and neutering services to dogs living within the so-called “exclusion zone.”

“Due to wild animals who also live within the exclusion zone, the stray dogs are often infected with rabies, posing a risk to people who work at the plant,” the group said.

ALSO READ: Man from Taiwan Builds Wheelchairs for the Injured and Disabled Dogs 

The dogs survived despite what was called “open season,” when soldiers were allowed to hunt the animals after the nuclear disaster, the group said.

“Originally, the dogs retreated to the surrounding woods after the exclusion zone was established, but packs of wolves and food scarcity forced them back to the abandoned city and toward the still-active nuclear plant,” said Julie Sanders, Four Paws international director of companion animals.

“There, the workers began to feed the dogs and they have stayed ever since,” she said.

The explosion and fire at the Chernobyl plant on April 26, 1986, was the world’s worst civilian nuclear accident and has left radioactivity levels high in areas around the plant.

Work has been under way since 2010 to build a massive shelter over the damaged reactor and seal in about 200 tons of uranium thought to be still there. (RFE/RL)

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Researchers from Germany give new explanation to the extinction of Neanderthals

A new study by German researchers claim to have figured out why really our ancestors went extinct

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Homo Sapiens
Neanderthal. Wikimedia

August 07, 2012: Early modern humans and Neanderthals shared a similar diet – consisting mainly of mammoth and plants – and also competed for food which led to their downfall, new research has claimed.

“According to our results, Neanderthals and the early modern humans were in direct competition in regard to their diet, as well — and it appears that the Neanderthals drew the short straw in this contest,” said Dorothee Drucker, biogeologist from the University of Tubingen in Germany.

Also Read: Was Human Evolution an Accidental Progression?

The first representatives of Homo sapiens colonized Europe around 43,000 years ago, replacing the Neanderthals there approximately 3,000 years later.

“Many studies examine the question of what led to this displacement — one hypothesis postulates that the diet of the anatomically modern humans was more diverse and flexible and often included fish,” added Herve Bocherens from the University of Tubingen.

Previous research suggested that early modern humans had a more varied diet than the Neanderthals. They fished for their food, did hunting and gathering across the plains.

However, the new study showed that our ancestors rarely ate fish but preferred a diet very similar to that of the Neanderthals.

Importantly, the proportion of plants in the diet of the anatomically modern humans was significantly higher than in Neanderthals – mammoths, on the other hand, appeared to have been one of the primary sources of meat in both species.

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The findings showed that just like the Neanderthals, early modern humans or our ancestors had mainly mammoth and plants on their plates, creating a battle for food that Neanderthals lost, the researchers said.

For the study, appearing in the journal Scientific Reports, the team researched on the dietary habits of early modern man on the basis of the oldest known fossils from the Buran Kaya caves on the Crimean Peninsula in the Ukraine.

They measured the percentage of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes in the bones of the early humans and the locally present potential prey animals such as Saiga, horse, and deer.

“The results revealed a very high proportion of the nitrogen isotope 15N in early modern humans, which originate but primarily from the consumption of mammoths,” Bocherens noted. (IANS)

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Russian President Vladimir Putin proposes development of Robotic Weapons in the country

"These systems could radically change the spectrum of weaponry for the general purpose forces," Putin advised

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Fighter plane (representational image), Pixabay

Russia, Jan 27, 2017: Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed the development of robotic weapons by his country’s arms companies to radically change the entire arms system for the conventional armed forces.

During a meeting of the Russian military-industrial commission, Putin explained that the development of autonomous robotic systems is very important in the future, Efe news reported on Thursday.

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“These systems could radically change the spectrum of weaponry for the general purpose forces,” he advised.

The Russian leader pointed out that this development must take into consideration “the clear understanding of the potential conflicts’ nature and mainstream trends in the development of armed forces both globally and domestically.”

In the midst of what seems to be a return to the Cold War between Russia and the West, at least until US President Donald Trump came to power, Russia and NATO have strengthened their military presence on the borders between this country and Eastern Europe.

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Some European countries, especially Poland and the three Baltic republics, consider that their security is threatened by the Kremlin’s decision to annexe the Crimean peninsula and support pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. (IANS)