Computer analysis of what is scenic may help town planners

Computer analysis of what is scenic may help town planners
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?

BEAUTY, proverbially, is in the eye of the beholder. But surroundings matter. A paper published two years ago in Nature found a correlation between people’s sense of well-being and the “scenicness” of where they lived. The paper’s authors measured scenicness by asking volunteers to play an online game called Scenic-or-Not, which invites participants to look at photographs of neighbourhoods and rate their scenic value on a scale of one to ten.

The correlation, the paper’s authors found, held true whether a neighbourhood was urban, suburban or rural. It bore no relation to respondents’ social and economic status. Nor did levels of air pollution have any influence on it. The authors also discovered that differences in respondents’ self-reported health were better explained by the scenicness of where those respondents lived than by the amount of green space around...Continue reading

Source: Science and technology http://ift.tt/2vFNUAn

Indonesian Islamists open a new front in their war on tolerance

Indonesian Islamists open a new front in their war on tolerance

CORNELIS, the 63-year-old governor of West Kalimantan, a province in Indonesian Borneo, is relaxing in jeans and a stained white vest at a table piled withkrupuk crackers and other local snacks. Portraits of the governor and his wife posing with prize-winning vegetables (both are keen gardeners) decorate the walls of the family home in Ngabang, a town in the hills four hours’ drive from Pontianak, the provincial capital. But so do crucifixes and Christian figurines—and it is Mr Cornelis’s religion, more than anything else, that has made him the latest lightning rod for the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), an Islamist vigilante group.

Around 90% of Indonesia’s 260m people are Muslim, but beyond the island of Java the population is much more mixed. Minorities watched with dismay as FPI and other Islamist groups turned on Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the Christian and ethnic-Chinese governor of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, over cooked-up claims that he had insulted...Continue reading

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Winning the war with IS in the Philippines, but losing the peace

Winning the war with IS in the Philippines, but losing the peace

THE Philippine army has been fighting for two full months to take back control of the southern city of Marawi from a violent and determined coalition of jihadist groups. The battle for Marawi, a mainly Muslim city of 200,000 with a lush lakeside setting and a proud sense of its culture, erupted when the government got word that Isnilon Hapilon was hiding there. Mr Hapilon, a leader of a notorious kidnap-for-ransom gang, Abu Sayyaf, pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS) three years ago. In return, IS declared him the “emir” of the Philippine province of its caliphate. When the armed forces went to arrest him, up to 700 fighters emerged out of nowhere and, in the name of IS, seized the city. Ominously, foreign fighters and even veterans of Mosul are thought to be involved, including militants from Chechnya, Indonesia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

The army has fought back hard, claiming to have killed 411 combatants. Its spokesman, Brigadier-General Restituto Padilla, now talks of...Continue reading

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Bitcoin recovers from crash to surge above $2,500

Bitcoin recovers from crash to surge above $2,500


BITCOIN'S price has continued to bounce back, and rocketed by around 40 per cent over the last three days as it recovers from lows seen at the start of the week.

Source: Daily Express :: Finance Feed http://ift.tt/2tiExFX

The Supreme Court says grandparents are exempt from the travel ban

The Supreme Court says grandparents are exempt from the travel ban

OVER the weekend, the Department of Justice and opponents of Donald Trump’s travel ban filed nearly 100 pages of briefs to the Supreme Court regarding the scope of the justices’ ruling of June 26th permitting the president’s executive order to take partial effect. On July 19th, the justices responded with a curt, 64-word order giving something to each side. But they were again tight-lipped as to why, exactly, they had reached that decision. With the restrictions now in place on refugees and on travellers from six Muslim-majority countries, the Supreme Court has inserted itself into the details of Mr Trump’s travel ban without saying a word about its legality—or even explaining why it barred the government from applying the rules to foreigners who have a “bona fide relationship” with people or entities in America.

So what exactly did the justices do on July 19th? Three things. First, they denied Mr Trump’s lawyers’ request for...Continue reading

Source: United States http://ift.tt/2tiNEX9