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The Real Truth - A Magazine Restoring Plain Understanding

  • World News Desk
  • POLITICS

President Joe Biden put on a modest White House ceremony Thursday to announce a half-dozen executive actions to combat what he called an “epidemic and an international embarrassment” of gun violence in America.

But he said much more is needed. And while Mr. Biden had proposed the most ambitious gun-control agenda of any modern presidential candidate, his moves underscored his limited power to act alone on guns with difficult politics impeding legislative action on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Biden’s new steps include a move to crack down on “ghost guns,” homemade firearms that lack serial numbers used to trace them and are often purchased without a background check. He is also moving to tighten regulations on pistol-stabilizing braces like the one used in Boulder, Colorado, in a shooting last month that left 10 dead.

  • World News Desk
  • MIDDLE EAST

Iran has made 120 pounds of uranium enriched to up to 20 percent—the point at which it is highly enriched—indicating quicker production than the 22-pounds-a-month rate required by an Iranian law that created the process in January, Iranian authorities said on Wednesday.

The disclosure comes a day after Tehran and Washington held what they described as “constructive” indirect talks in Vienna on Tuesday aimed at finding ways to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.

Iran’s hardline parliament passed a law last year that obliges the government to harden its nuclear stance, partly in reaction to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018.

  • Articles
  • SOCIETY & LIFESTYLES

Sprawled on the couch, Dad watches a knife plunge into the stomach of a gang member who coughs up blood as he dies. The father dozes in and out of sleep, bathed in the flickering light of the television.

Upstairs, his son clenches a video game controller. He navigates a Navy SEAL to stealthily dispatch a guard by snapping his neck. His younger brother watches.

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  • Articles
  • ANALYSIS

MOSCOW/KYIV/WASHINGTON – Dozens of troop carriers and missile launchers sit on flatbed wagons lining up along tracks running through southern Russia, in a region bordering Ukraine.

Tanks are parked in columns beside the railway, which runs parallel to the M4 highway. Military trucks rumble past, heading toward the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, close to the border.

Ukraine and Western countries accuse Russia of sending troops and heavy weapons to support proxy fighters who seized a swathe of the eastern Donbass region in 2014.

  • World News Desk
  • AFRICA

In a convoy of pickup trucks fitted with spray guns, soldiers zoom through Baraka’s hills leaving a trail of dust and bemused villagers in its wake.

The vehicles brake when the soldiers see the enemy: billions of invading desert locusts that have landed in a twitching swarm where a forested area meets farmland.

The deployment of soldiers among the usual agriculture officials is a testament to the seriousness of the threat as East Africa’s locust outbreak continues well into a second year. The young locusts arrive in waves from breeding grounds in Somalia, where insecurity hampers the response.

  • World News Desk
  • EUROPE

Authorities in Northern Ireland sought to restore calm Thursday after Protestant and Catholic youths in Belfast hurled bricks, fireworks and gasoline bombs at police and each other. It was the worst mayhem in a week of street violence in the region, where Britain’s exit from the European Union has unsettled an uneasy political balance.

Crowds including children as young as 12 or 13 clashed across a concrete “peace wall” in west Belfast that separates a British loyalist Protestant neighborhood from an Irish nationalist Catholic area. Police fired rubber bullets at the crowd, and nearby a city bus was hijacked and set on fire.

Northern Ireland has seen sporadic outbreaks of street violence since the 1998 Good Friday peace accord ended “the Troubles”—decades of Catholic-Protestant bloodshed over the status of the region in which more than 3,000 people died.

  • World News Desk
  • SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

American farmers are using smaller amounts of better targeted pesticides, but these are harming pollinators, aquatic insects and some plants far more than decades ago, a new study finds.

Toxicity levels have more than doubled since 2005 for important species, including honeybees, mayflies and buttercup flowers, as the country switched to a new generation of pesticides. But dangerous chemical levels in birds and mammals have plummeted at the same time, according to a paper in Thursday’s journal Science.

“The bottom line is that these pesticides, once believed to be relatively benign and so short-lived that they would not damage ecosystems, are anything but,” said Dr. Lynn Goldman, a former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator for toxic substances who is now dean of George Washington University’s school of public health, who wasn’t part of the study.

  • World News Desk
  • WEATHER & ENVIRONMENT

The death toll from mudslides in eastern Indonesia has risen to 119 with scores still missing, officials said Wednesday, as rain continued to pound the region and hamper the search.

The village of Lamanele on Adonara island suffered the highest losses with 60 bodies recovered so far and 12 missing. Mud tumbled down from surrounding hills early on Sunday, catching people at sleep.

  • World News Desk
  • EUROPE

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a law allowing him to potentially hold onto power until 2036, a move that formalizes constitutional changes endorsed in a vote last year.

The July 1 constitutional vote included a provision that reset Mr. Putin’s previous term limits, allowing him to run for president two more times. The change was rubber-stamped by the Kremlin-controlled legislature and the relevant law signed by Mr. Putin was posted Monday on an official portal of legal information.

  • World News Desk
  • MIDDLE EAST

Israel’s president on Tuesday handed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the difficult task of trying to form a new government, giving the embattled Israeli leader a chance to extend his lengthy term in office.

But with the newly elected parliament deeply divided and the prime minister on trial for corruption charges, Mr. Netanyahu had little to celebrate.

  • World News Desk
  • AFRICA

More than 1,800 prisoners are on the run in southeast Nigeria after escaping when heavily armed gunmen attacked their prison using explosives and rocket-propelled grenades, the authorities said.

Nigerian police said it believed a banned separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), was behind the attack in the city of Owerri, but a spokesman for the group denied involvement.

  • World News Desk
  • TERRORISM & SECURITY

Lawmakers are trying to balance openness with safety after Friday’s attack within steps of the Capitol, a challenge for Congress, nearly three months after protesters stormed the seat of American democracy, to “make it as secure as it needs to be but as free as we could possibly make it,” as one senator said Sunday.

The sprawling complex has been ringed by security fencing and National Guard troops since the events of January 6, when supporters of then-President Donald Trump breached the Capitol as members of Congress were certifying Joe Biden’s election victory.

  • Articles
  • HEALTH ISSUES

Three million people die every year worldwide due to physical inactivity, according to the World Health Organization. That is a stunning amount of lives lost through one of the most preventable causes!

Yet in increasingly busy and stressful times, we all know how difficult it is to take the time to get active. Whether it is getting to the gym or sticking with a consistent routine, it can be a challenge to commit to daily exercise.

  • World News Desk
  • HEALTH ISSUES

Reuters – Rates of stillbirth and maternal deaths rose by around a third during the COVID-19 pandemic, with pregnancy outcomes getting worse overall for both babies and mothers worldwide, according to an international data review published on Wednesday.

Pooling data from 40 studies across 17 countries, the review found that lockdowns, disruption to maternity services, and fear of attending healthcare facilities all added to pregnancy risks, leading to generally worse results for women and infants.

  • World News Desk
  • WEATHER & ENVIRONMENT

KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Tropical forest losses hit their third-highest level in almost two decades last year, despite improved conservation in parts of Southeast Asia, researchers said on March 31, warning of rising deforestation risks as nations restart pandemic-hit economies.

The loss in 2020 of 10.4 million acres of primary forest—intact areas of old-growth trees—equaled the size of the Netherlands, according to data from Global Forest Watch (GFW) and the University of Maryland.

  • World News Desk
  • WEATHER & ENVIRONMENT

California’s hopes for a wet “March miracle” did not materialize and a dousing of April showers may as well be a mirage at this point.

The state appears in the midst of another drought only a few years after a punishing 5-year dry spell dried up rural wells, killed endangered salmon, idled farm fields and helped fuel the most deadly and destructive wildfires in modern state history.

  • Articles
  • HOLIDAYS

Have you heard this Easter story? In the spring of the year, King Herod began persecuting the early New Testament Church. The apostle John’s brother James was martyred with a sword—soon after Peter was imprisoned.

Acts 12:4 continues the story stating that when Herod (grandson of Herod the Great) had apprehended Peter, “he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.”

  • World News Desk
  • GEOPOLITICS

The China-U.S. trade war is pushing Beijing to step up its efforts to steal technology and poach talent from Taiwan to boost China’s semiconductor industry’s self-sufficiency, the government of the tech-powerhouse island said on Wednesday.

Washington has taken aim at China’s tech industry during the bitter trade dispute, putting sanctions on firms including telecoms equipment giant Huawei Technologies Ltd, saying they are a threat to national security, angering Beijing.

  • World News Desk
  • RELIGION

Religious News Service – Ask Americans if they believe in God and most will say yes. But a growing number have lost faith in organized religion.

For the first time since the late 1930s, fewer than half of Americans say they belong to a church, synagogue or mosque, according to a new report from Gallup.

  • World News Desk
  • AFRICA

The dusty buses keep coming, dozens a day, mattresses, chairs and baskets piled on top. They stop at schools hurriedly turned into camps, disgorging families who describe fleeing from ethnic Amhara militia in Ethiopia’s Tigray region.

Four months after the Ethiopian government declared victory over the rebellious Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), tens of thousands of Tigrayans are again being driven from their homes.

  • Articles
  • HOLIDAYS

Easter traditions are deeply engrained in cultures across the globe.

Adherents feel a sense of relief when Lent, a 40-day period during which worshippers try to emulate Christ’s suffering by fasting and abstaining from certain pleasures, is finally over—and Easter Sunday has arrived.

  • World News Desk
  • HEALTH ISSUES

A year after COVID-19 upended life for millions of Americans, there are troubling signs that the coronavirus may have also slowed progress against another deadly health threat: smoking.

Fewer smokers called quit-smoking hotlines last year and some smoked more, contributing to an unusual bump in cigarette sales—all in the middle of the stress, anxiety and uncertainty from the pandemic.

  • Articles
  • ANALYSIS

On December 17, 2010, 26-year-old fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi was approached by police in a town in Tunisia’s neglected interior. Lacking a permit for his cart and with no funds to bribe, the authorities humiliated Bouazizi and tossed aside his cart. When he tried to complain at a government office, they refused to listen. He then walked outside, doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire.

One man. One act. In one remote place.

  • Articles
  • ANALYSIS

BERLIN (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A turning point for Rafael Yuste, a neuroscientist at New York’s Columbia University, came when his lab discovered it could activate a few neurons in a mouse’s visual cortex and make it hallucinate.

The mouse had been trained to lick at a water spout every time it saw two vertical bars, and researchers were able to prompt it to drink even with no bars in sight, said Dr. Yuste, whose team published a study on the experiment in 2019.

  • World News Desk
  • GEOPOLITICS

China and Iran, both subject to U.S. sanctions, signed a 25-year cooperation agreement on Saturday to strengthen their long-standing economic and political alliance.

“Relations between the two countries have now reached the level of strategic partnership and China seeks to comprehensively improve relations with Iran,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was quoted by Iran’s state media as telling his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.

  • World News Desk
  • MIDDLE EAST

Since it opened in 1869, Egypt’s Suez Canal has been a source of national pride and a focus of international conflict. It is one of the world’s great maritime shortcuts, connecting the Red and Mediterranean Seas through a narrow passage that chops thousands of miles off most east-west shipping voyages.

A different sort of crisis recently thrust the Suez Canal into the global spotlight. A skyscraper-sized container ship called the Ever Given got stuck sideways across the waterway last week. The obstruction halted canal traffic—valued at over $9 billion a day—disrupting a global shipping network already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of ships waiting to cross the canal piled up in a colossal traffic jam.

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