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Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/23/world/europe/reading-the-future-of-scotland-in-the-stars.html

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The commissioner of the NHL has picked an unusual topic to address: global warming.  

Gary Bettman says the sport of hockey is threatened by climate change and says something needs to be done.

Bettman is worried the world will lose its heritage and tradition of playing outdoors in both North America and Europe.

Greg Redquest is a former NLH, goalie now with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. He enjoys playing hockey indoors but misses the outdoor experience.

“It was so much fun,” says Redquest. “I like feeling like your face was frozen, or how you’re sweating it turns into ice and you know you’re bundled up but you never got cold.”

But our winters are warming up. Environment Canada says the average winter temperature in Simcoe County in the 1970s was about -8. And now it’s about two degrees warmer.

Average winter temps in Simcoe County:

  • 1970s: -8C
  • 1980s: -6.7C
  • 1990s: -6.5C
  • 2000s: -6.1C

And the number of cold days we get that are good days for making ice has dropped significantly.

  • 1970s: 76 days
  • 2000s: 59 days

This past winter was an exception with 93 cold days.

Zach McCullough is a pro player with the East Coast Hockey League. He remembers growing up here and skating on Kempenfelt Bay.

“It just feels like that you’re Canadian,” he says, “like that’s what you do. You put your skates on and go skate on a frozen pond… It would be a terrible thing not to be able to that anymore.”

Eric Jacoby-Hawkins is with the Green Party of Canada. He’s glad the NHL is thinking about climate change, but wants the league to do more than just put out a report.

“There are ways to schedule the games and flights with the players better,” he says. “Plan the flights better.”

Dave Phillips with Environment Canada says this trend puts more than just outdoor rinks in jeopardy.

“People are recognizing that it’s something you used to be able to count on, you can’t count on anymore,” he says. “Climate change is an important issue – it’s not just something that is going to affect the artic or other parts of the world. There is something we need to do about it.”

Bettman says the league is making efforts to reduce waste and conserve energy at all the arenas. But one problem that’s yet to be solved is travel. The league’s 30 teams fly about 3.2 million kilometres every season.

Article source: http://barrie.ctvnews.ca/nhl-calls-climate-change-threat-to-future-of-hockey-1.1928852

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Evidence is mounting that Russian-backed insurgents in eastern Ukraine were responsible for the shooting down of a Malaysian Airlines plane, with the loss of 298 lives. This was an act of barbarism by separatists who are armed, funded, and trained by Moscow. It follows from Russia’s illegal invasion, occupation, and annexation of Crimea and its attempts to dismember eastern Ukraine through fighting a proxy war against Kiev.

Moscow must be held to account for its role in this atrocity, which further underscores that the Russian reset is dead, as well as for its actions on the ground in Ukraine. The United States should respond by establishing a new long-term strategy to deal with a hostile and aggressive Russian regime, one that protects its vital interests against the irresponsible and illegal actions of Moscow while strengthening the NATO alliance. The U.S. should pursue the following actions as part of that strategy.

1. Withdraw from New START

New START is a fundamentally flawed treaty that dramatically undercuts the security of the U.S. and its allies. It is an extraordinarily good deal for the Russians, as it significantly limits Washington’s ability to deploy an effective global missile defense system. It does nothing at all to advance U.S. security while handing Moscow a significant strategic edge.

2. Be Prepared to Isolate Moscow Diplomatically

Washington should be prepared to expel Russia’s ambassador to Washington and deny American visas to all Russian government officials and their family members if Moscow continues to facilitate acts of aggression in Ukraine and refuses to accept responsibility for its involvement in the Malaysian Airlines atrocity.

The U.S. could enforce a 25-mile travel restriction on officials assigned to the Russian mission to the United Nations in New York. Similar restrictions could be imposed on Russian officials assigned to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund headquarters in Washington, D.C.

3. Exclude Russia from the G20 Summit in Australia

Moscow should be treated as even more of a pariah on the world stage. Russia has already been suspended from the G8. The U.S. should rethink future Russian participation in the G20, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, and the Community of Democracies.

In the immediate term, the U.S. should work with Australia to exclude Russia from the upcoming G20 summit to be held in Brisbane, Queensland, in November. Washington should also work with allies in Europe to pressure FIFA, the soccer’s world governing body, to withdraw the World Cup from Russia, where it is due to be held in 2018.

4. Increase Military Cooperation with NATO Allies

In light of recent Russian aggression, the Department of Defense should prioritize U.S. training missions in Central and Eastern Europe. The Pentagon and NATO should immediately begin to review and update contingency defense plans. These plans should deliver a suitable, credible, and actionable conventional defense of NATO member nations.

The U.S. should temporarily deploy military assets necessary for protection of its allies in Central Europe and boost the number of U.S. military training facilities, including in Romania, Bulgaria, and the Baltics.

5. Uphold the Missile Defense Commitment in Europe

Central and Eastern European countries view NATO’s ballistic missile defense system as a fundamental part of the alliance’s defense. It is essential that the Administration uphold missile defense commitment to America’s allies in Europe, especially after its loss of credibility following the abrupt cancellation of the third site in 2009.

6. Reverse the Closure of U.S. Bases in Europe

President Obama should halt base closings in Europe and pledge a firm commitment to America’s military presence across the Atlantic. It is time for NATO to scrap the 1997 agreement with Russia, which limits the basing of NATO assets in Central and Eastern Europe. This would demonstrate U.S. commitment to transatlantic security and offer more opportunities for joint military training.

7. Provide Assistance to the Ukrainian Government

Ukraine does not enjoy the security guarantees afforded to NATO allies, but the U.S. has several military options available that do not include the immediate deployment of American forces into Ukraine. The U.S. military and its allies have the ability to provide the legitimate, democratically elected government of the country appropriate assistance to restore the stability of the country and ensure public safety.

The U.S. should buttress Ukraine’s military planning and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities so that the best possible picture of this rapidly evolving crisis can be assembled and appropriate actions determined and implemented as effectively as possible. For example, it is appropriate for the U.S. to deploy teams of military planners to work with Ukraine’s general staff. Supplies, equipment, or small arms should be sent only with some measure of confidence that the materials would help stabilize Ukraine’s situation and not simply fall into Russia’s hands or those of Russian loyalists.

8. Pressure NATO Allies to End Military Cooperation with Russia—Especially Spain and France

Some NATO members continue to provide Russia with military support. Spain allows the Russian navy use of its ports, and France is selling two amphibious assault ships to Russia. French and Spanish support to the Russian navy weakens NATO’s opposition to Russian aggression against Ukraine and projects an image of a divided alliance.

The U.S. government should make it clear at the highest levels that it views any support to the Russian navy in terms of equipment sales and port access as completely unacceptable in light of Russian aggression.

9. Lift Restrictions on Energy Exports to Europe

President Obama should back the lifting of restrictions on the export of natural gas and other forms of energy to U.S. allies in Europe. Much of Russia’s power in Central and Eastern Europe is the result of its control of energy supplies and distribution systems. Reducing energy dependence on Russia would dramatically weaken the economic grip Moscow has on parts of Europe and reinforce the position of NATO allies.

Diminishing Russia’s economic leverage over the region should be a key component of America’s response. This could largely be accomplished simply by liberalizing global energy markets. The U.S. has antiquated and unnecessary restrictions on exporting liquefied natural gas and crude oil, and lifting these restrictions should be a priority.

10. Expand the Target List of Russian Officials Under the Magnitsky Act

The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act denies U.S. visas to and places financial sanctions on Russian officials and individuals guilty of human rights violations. Currently, only 30 people linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin and former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have been sanctioned.

The Obama Administration needs to go significantly further. Washington should implement a greater range of targeted sanctions aimed directly at Russian officials responsible for violating Ukrainian sovereignty, including freezing financial assets and imposing visa bans.

Send a Clear Message

The U.S. should send a clear message to the Kremlin that its actions in Ukraine are unacceptable. Putin’s actions in recent months have made it impossible to consider Russia a responsible nation or suitable partner for the U.S.

—Nile Gardiner, PhD, is Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, at The Heritage Foundation. James Jay Carafano, PhD, is Vice President for the Davis Institute and the E.W. Richardson Fellow. Dakota Wood is Senior Research Fellow for Defense Programs in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign and National Security Policy of the Davis Institute. Luke Coffey is Margaret Thatcher Fellow in the Thatcher Center.

About the Author

Nile Gardiner, Ph.D.

Director, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom

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James Jay Carafano, Ph.D.

Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, and the E. W. Richardson Fellow

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Dakota Wood

Senior Research Fellow, Defense Programs

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Luke Coffey

Margaret Thatcher Fellow

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Our mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense. Read More

Article source: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/07/after-the-malaysian-airlines-atrocity-10-ways-the-us-should-respond-to-russias-role-in-ukraine

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Damage to the Eastern Hall of the Ma’arra Museum, Idlib Province. Can civilians be trained to stem the destruction?

An international group of cultural experts and scientists have formed an emergency task force to help Syrians save their heritage from destruction.

The four-year civil war has killed more than 150,000 people and forced millions more to flee their homes. It is also, as documented by the BBC, destroying some of the world’s most important art, buildings and monuments.

“What we’re doing is cultural triage,” says Brian Daniels of Penn Museum’s Penn Cultural Heritage Center, Philadelphia. He has recently returned from an undisclosed location in Turkey where the Heritage Task Force was training Syrians to protect artefacts from bombs and other threats.

“What we’re talking about is how do you sandbag collections for safety when you are coming under assault? What gets saved and what doesn’t? How do you treat the interior of the building when you expect it to collapse? This is a very grim business.”

The Heritage Task Force has been established by the Syrian Interim Government and brings together major organisations such as the Smithsonian Institution, the US Institute of Peace, Penn Cultural Heritage Center and The Day After Association based in Belgium. It is supported by the JM Kaplan Fund in New York.

The Umayyad Mosque area on 1 March, as captured by satellite

By 26 March, the minaret was destroyed and a large hole was created in the wall (orange arrow). The roof of the Souq al-Madina suffered additional damage (red arrows).

It is the latest attempt to protect cultural treasures in areas outside the control of the Assad government. In May this year, UNESCO established an observatory in Beirut to monitor destruction and looting while gathering information that may help restoration when the fighting ends.

But the Heritage Task Force is the first direct effort to support and train experts and activists inside Syria who are risking their lives to save the nation’s heritage.

“The conditions in Aleppo are particularly bad,” says Daniels. “We were meeting with people who had been without electricity for extended periods and without running water for longer than a month. We were meeting with people who had come under regular barrel bomb attack, who were working in museums and other cultural institutions that had had collateral damage from these bombs – sometimes direct mortar attacks.”

He says the psychological support is extremely important but admits that the practical help the task force can offer is limited.

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

Many times you have reports of damage or an attack but it’s somebody’s word and that can be ignored. Being able to use satellite imagery and established scientific methods to analyze that imagery adds so much to the debate ”

End Quote
Susan Wolfinbarger
American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The vast majority of Syria’s heritage sites lie directly in the line of fire. Looting is also a major problem. Of particular concern is the condition of a famous collection of Byzantine mosaics at Ma’arra Museum in Idlib province. The building has reportedly been attacked by Isis, an Islamic militant group which is also responsible for a counterinsurgency in Iraq.

The Heritage Task Force has offered advice on how to stabilize the mosaics and provided emergency conservation supplies. Many of the tactics were learned during World War II when Europe’s heritage suffered similar threats.

Meanwhile, aerial satellite images have revealed the extent of the damage to an ancient souk in Aleppo and the city’s 1,000-year-old Umayyad mosque. Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Further satellite analysis is being planned that will monitor the whole of the country and may offer evidence that some sites are being deliberately targeted.

“Intentional damage is not something we can actually prove with our analysis,” says Susan Wolfinbarger, project director of the Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights Project at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

But she says when the imagery is analyised in conjunction with other information from news outlets, social media and eyewitness accounts, patterns can emerge that may point to deliberate attacks on heritage sites.

Gunfire damage to 6th century AD mosaic from Farkiya, Ma’arra Museum.

War’s beginning

Syria is no stranger to conflict. One of the first recorded acts of organized warfare took place more than 5000 years ago at Hamoukar in the northeast. The attackers used clay bullets fired from slings, massacred the residents and burned the city to the ground. Although the region has largely escaped the current civil war, experts say the lack of security makes the site vulnerable to looting and unauthorized construction work.

High- and low-resolution satellite images taken over a series of several years, months and days provide a detailed timeline of physical changes to buildings and landscapes. Such geospatial technology is already being used to offer evidence in criminal cases involving environmental disasters such as oil spills and human rights abuses.

“So many times you have reports of damage or an attack but it’s somebody’s word and that can be ignored. Being able to use satellite imagery and established scientific methods to analyze that imagery adds so much to the debate and clarifies things that people aren’t able to because there isn’t access on the ground,” says Wolfinbarger.

As the civil war grinds on with no sign of a truce, the task of saving Syria’s heritage seems overwhelming.

“To witness these antiquities which have been preserved for thousands of years being destroyed over the course of three years is devastating,” he says.

At this point, he says, it is not a question of stopping the damage. They are just hoping to contain it.

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Article source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-28380674

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July 21, 2014

By: Newswire

Travel Agent

AmaWaterways debuted its 2015 Europe, Russia, Asia Africa brochure. The new brochure introduces three new ships, a new destination and new theme cruises, as well as the return of the line’s wine and Christmas markets sailings.

RELATED: AmaWaterways Announces 2015 and 2016 Mekong River Itineraries Aboard the New AmaDara

Highlights of AmaWaterways’ 2015 Europe, Russia, Asia Africa brochure include:

Three New Ships:

  • AmaSerena and AmaVista – These new sister ships will offer travelers the opportunity to sail Europe’s waterways, including the Danube, Main and Rhine. The 164-passenger vessels will have Twin Balcony Staterooms, heated swimming pools with swim-up bars, salon services, fitness rooms, glass elevators and more.
  • AmaDara – This new 124-passenger ship joins AmaLotus in 2015, offering an voyage along the Mekong through Vietnam and Cambodia. The itinerary includes an overnight experience on an authentic yet contemporary junk, stops at UNESCO World Heritage Sites and time exploring the Khmer empire.  

New and Returning Theme Cruises:

  • In Celebration of Wine Cruise – AmaWaterways’ wine cruises make their return in 2015.  Traveling through Europe’s wine regions, these sailings will offer expert wine hosts, complimentary lectures, wine tastings and excursions to vineyards and cellars. (19 Departures in 2015)
  • Beer Cruise – A first for AmaWaterways, 2015 will bring the all-new Beer Cruise.  Hosted by beer expert Don “Joe Sixpack” Russell – author of a weekly beer column and three books – beer enthusiasts will enjoy beer pairing dinners, experiences, visits to breweries and local tastings. The new Beer Cruise will take place as part of AmaWaterways’ March 31 Tulip Time Cruise sailing and December 14 Christmas Time Cruise itinerary. (2 Departures in 2015)
  • Art Illumination Cruise – Art aficionados and aspiring artists alike can channel their inner Monet during this inaugural journey through France’s Normandy region onboard AmaLegro. (Embarking August 13, 2015) 
  • Jazz Cruise – Conducted in partnership with Jazzdagen Tours, this seven-night cruise onboard AmaLyra will offer jazz performances by a global assortment of musicians and immersive tours of a variety of ports, including the grand capital Vienna and towns like Durnstein. Guests can explore cathedrals and Baroque abbeys and take in the sights of Wachau Valley. (Embarking September 22, 2015)
  • Jewish Heritage Cruises – These itineraries dive into the legacy of Europe’s Jewish history and culture. Complimentary excursions include visits to World War II sites, historic Jewish synagogues and sightseeing spots European cities. Countries visited include Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. Optional extensions in Prague on The Romantic Danube and Lucerne and Zurich on The Enchanting Rhine are also available.  (4 Departures in 2015)
  • Christmas Markets Cruises – These cruises include feasts, festive décor, onboard entertainment and visits to centuries-old Christmas Markets in places such as Regensburg, Nuremberg and Vienna. Travelers will enjoy two itineraries in the Christmas markets, including Christmas Time Cruise (13 Departures in 2015); and Christmas on the Rhine. (11 Departures in 2015)

For more information, visit www.AmaWaterways.com

Related Links :

AmaWaterways Launches Booking Engine

One-on-One on AmaWaterways’ New Travel Agent Booking Engine

AmaWaterways Details New Ship, Cruise Program for 2014

Cris de Souza Named AmaWaterways’ Director of National Accounts

Article source: http://www.travelagentcentral.com/cruises/amawaterways-debutes-2015-europe-russia-asia-africa-brochure-47005

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I BELIEVE the construction of the European Union is not just a European legacy, but rather part of the world’s heritage.

It is a political institution that inspires countries to work together and increase co-operation and integration in their regions. It was the inspiration for South America, with Mercosur and the Union of South American Nations, and for Africa, with the African Union and the regional economic communities that are now engaged in developing the continent. It is an amazing achievement that countries that have been at war for centuries, begun to work together peacefully to resolve their differences through dialogue and politics and not by force of arms.

It is perhaps difficult to perceive at this moment, especially from inside a Europe suffering from unemployment and the loss of workers’ rights after years of economic crisis, which dates from the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Mainly for a generation that had the good fortune to grow up in a developed society and did not have to suffer the pain of war. But, just as it is advisable to step back some distance in order to discern the magnitude of a giant monument, certain achievements are only clearly visible when seen from a distance and with a broader perspective of time.

The social rights and the standard of living that Europeans enjoy are still a distant goal for the populations in the majority of countries in the world. The social welfare state is a great achievement, the result of the struggle of generations and generations of workers. We in Latin America are still struggling to achieve part of that which you, in Europe, must fight to protect against opportunistic initiatives to reduce rights.

Working people, the middle class, and immigrants cannot be held responsible for the crisis caused by the irresponsibility of the financial system. Banks were too heavily leveraged with huge speculative investments rather than responsible and productive ones. It cannot be left to the most vulnerable segments of our society — immigrants, retirees, workers, and the countries of southern Europe — to pay the bills for the greed of few.

The brutal adjustments imposed on the majority of European countries — which has been justly referred to ‘austericide’ — has delayed the resolution of the crisis without reason. The continent will need to have vigorous growth to recover the dramatic losses of the last six years. Some countries in the region appear to be emerging from the recession, but the recovery will be much slower and much more painful if the current contractionist policies are continued. More than imposing sacrifices on the European population, these policies are prejudicial even for those economies that managed to resist the crash of 2008, such as the US, the Bric (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries, and a large share of developing countries.

In order to overcome this crisis, we needed in 2008, and still need today, more political than purely economic decisions. It is essential to understand and explain to the people the origins of the current crisis. Politics, still analog in a digital world, must be renewed to engage in a dialogue with society to identify the problems and to create new solutions. Political decisions cannot simply be outsourced, shifted to technical commissions, multilateral organisations or third or fourth-level bureaucrats. The roles of leaders and political parties cannot be replaced in a democracy. If progressive forces are not capable of presenting new ideas and representing workers and young people, offering advances and hope, we will see, sadly, an increase in the voices that promote fear, intolerance, and xenophobia.

In March, I had the opportunity to talk in Rome with the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi. His courage and skill trying to solve ancient impasses in Italian society was rewarded by the population with heavy voting in favour of his Democratic Party. It is a clear sign that it is possible to overcome the scepticism with politics.

We need to create a new historical horizon. Not a new theory, but a new utopia capable of motivating the population and serving as a horizon for progressive forces in Europe.

The world has changed in the last 30 years. But instead of lowering the standards of European workers’ rights against the competition of workers from emerging countries, what is needed is to raise their standards of living to levels similar to those of the Europeans. We need a broader and more generous vision of Europe, facing the fact that it’s possible to achieve the goal of a world without poverty.

Thirty years ago, when most of South America lived in sombre times with dictatorships spread throughout the continent, the solidarity and support of the EU and progressive parties were of great help in strengthening the forces of the left and achieving a return to democracy in our region.

Today, after great popular and political efforts, our continent is a peaceful and democratic region, with significant advances in economic development and the struggle against poverty made in the last decade.

In South America, it was the inclusion of the poorest levels of society that helped propel the economy forward, increasing income and consumption, creating strong internal markets, that allowed a progressive agenda with the advancement of social and worker rights.

In Brazil, the numbers that best translate the success of that strategy of investing in the poor are the more than 20m jobs created in the formal sector in the last 11 years, the 36m people that emerged from extreme poverty, and the 42m people that moved into the middle class.

I am convinced that the solution for the economic crisis worldwide lies in the fight against poverty on a global scale. Social funding should not be seen as simply spending, but rather as an investment in people. We must stop viewing the poor of the world as a problem and start viewing them as a solution, both within countries, and on a broader scale around the world.

Investments in social programmes, agricultural production and in financing infrastructure in developing countries, especially in Africa, can create new jobs and a new consumer market. Despite the worldwide crisis, African GDP grew consistently at rates of 5% and 6%, making space for the demand for more sophisticated goods and services produced in the wealthy countries and contributing to a sustainable recovery of the economies of Europe and the rest of the world.

The Europe that managed to be reborn after the devastation of the wars of the first half of the 20th century is proof that it is possible, by politics and democracy, to improve the standard of living of the population.

In South America, a generation of leaders such as Dilma Rousseff, Cristina Kirchner, Michelle Bachelet, Pepe Mujica, Rafael Correa, and Evo Morales, among others, succeeded, against all kind of conservative, and even reactionary opposition, to reach power by democratic means and promote great social and political advances in their countries.

The contribution of the progressive political forces is crucial to our continents. Therefore, a more direct political dialogue and closer ties are needed between South American and European lefts. It is important not only for our regions, but for the whole world.

lThis article is co-edited with Queries (HERE), the European Progressive Magazine published by FEPS, the think-tank of the Social Democrats at European level.

Lula’s lesson for EU on investment

Growth, inflation, stagnation, hyperinflation, stagflation, record IMF rescue, stabilisation, balanced budgets, and early repayment to the IMF. Brazil has been through it all in the past few decades.

But now it is the world’s seventh largest economy, and former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — universally known as Lula — was one of those in the driving seat when the economy was turned around.

Among the measures he introduced, such as a huge growth investment programme, are now being pushed in the EU in a bid to stimulate the kind of 7% growth seen in Brazil in 2012.

But, having weathered the global economic recession of the past few years, growth in Brazil has now slipped. Nearly balanced government budgets of the past few years grew to a 3.28% deficit last year and debt to around 60%, both excellent by EU standards. Inflation is more than 6%, interest rates over 10%. So Lula is well placed to advise the EU on the benefits of social investment, believing recovery is as important for the global economy as it is for the EU.

Ann Cahill, Europe Correspondent

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Article source: http://www.irishexaminer.com/analysis/balancing-act--raising-living-standards-in-emerging-economies-276212.html

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