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Iran sending Afghan refugees to fight in Syria: Guardian

Iran has been using incentives such as money and residence permits to recruit Afghan refugees to fight in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, according to an exclusive from the Guardian. Iranian officials are telling the refugees their fight is a sacred endeavour. Iran has maintained its involvement in Syria has been solely advisory, but knowledge of the Fatemioun military division of Afghan refugees has called that into question. According to the Guardian, Iran is recruiting refugees under the age of 18, so long as they have a parent’s permission. “It’s Afghan refugees in Iran who are paying the price of Tehran’s support for Assad and they are being lied to about the real motives,” Mujtaba Jalali, an Iranian-born Afghan refugee currently living in Europe, told the Guardian. “It’s not religious, it’s political. Instead of protecting its refugees, Iran is using them.” [Source: Guardian]

André Alexis wins Rogers Writers’ Trust for ‘Fifteen Dogs’

André Alexis has won the $25,000.00 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize for his novel Fifteen Dogs, the second of a five-part series. Alexis was shortlisted for the prize last year with the first book of the series, Pastoral. His winning entry has also been nominated for Scotiabank Giller, which will be awarded on Nov. 10. Alexis took time during the event to champion small publishers such as Coach House Books, which published his first two works. “We’re in the middle of something really, really intriguing,” the author said. “A renaissance of small presses flourishing under the strain of changes in the book world.” [Source: Maclean’s]

Scientists working to create honeybee unique to western Canada

Molecular biologist Leonard Foster, of University of British Columbia, works with honeybees. And, together with Anrol Zayed of York University, they are trying to breed a bee resistant to certain pests and diseases unique to western Canada. Their research will include the analysis of about 1,000 bee colonies from across the country, isolating a dozen or so traits that they will selectively breed into new colonies. According to a famous pest control company, Pest Control Boston,  Colony collapse has been above the fold news in the last few years, and, while Canada has seen less loss than the U.S., say, disease and pests such as varroa mites have reduced numbers. This research is a bid to curb this loss. “We are not genetically modifying bees,” said Foster. “We are looking at the diversity of honeybees to design tools that will allow us to pick the bees that will better resist diseases and pests.” It’s a crafty way to express genetic modification, but it’s one that perhaps successfully slips by those unable to identify it outside a catchphrase. [Source: Vancouver Sun]

Carrie Brownstein officiates wedding during book signing

It was between London bracing for a violent million-mask march on Guy Fawkes Day this week or Carry Brownstein marrying a couple during her book signing. Brownstein wins, as what she did doesn’t happen every year at the same time: Carrie Brownstein, author and thespian and musician and ordained minister, was in Pasadena on Monday promoting her new book Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl: A Memoir. During the open mic, a fan with knowledge of her minister title asked if she would officiate an on-the-spot wedding. Amy Poehler, who was with Brownstein, said, “You gotta do it.” And she married them, right there, in a bookstore, at the signing. [Source: Death and Taxes]

NASA is looking for astronauts 

On Dec. 14, NASA will begin its search for another astronaut. Maybe more than one. The source article was unclear. But what was clear is that I’m unqualified and there’s a good chance you are, too. According to Discovery, candidates must have BA in engineering, biological science, physical science, or mathematics and must have three years of related experience, or, and here’s the kicker, at least 1,000 hours of pilot in command time on a jet aircraft. Last time they hired, which was four years ago, they whittled 6,400 applicants down to eight. NASA sends two to four people into space each year to staff the Space Station. If you’re a jet pilot reading 5 things you absolutely must know today, A: cool, and B: you can expect to make between $66,000 and $158,000 per year, in USD. And you get to go to space. [Source: Discovery]


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