Current Events

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By Randy Gold

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Plans released for high-tech "10-minute city" in Seoul, Korea

The idea of a "15-minute city" in which residents can reach work and recreational facilities within a 15 minute walk from their front door has gained significant appeal with urban planners during the Covid-19 pandemic.Now, a group of architects is planning an even more ambitious neighborhood in South Korea's capital, Seoul: a 10-minute city. Named "Project H1," the project plans to transform an old industrial site into an interconnected "smart" city. Combining eight residential buildings with co-working offices and study spaces, the 125-acre district is also set to house entertainment venues, fitness centers, swimming pools and even hydroponic urban farms. The architects also said that clean energy will be generated on site, while systems to capture and store rain are being designed to reduce water use.

Self-driving robotaxis in China

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Recently, AutoX, an Alibaba-backed startup, announced it had rolled out fully driverless robotaxis on public roads in Shenzhen. The company said it had become the first player in China to do so, achieving an important industry milestone. Previously, companies operating autonomous shuttles on public roads in the country were constrained by strict rules, which required them to have a safety driver inside. This program is different. In Shenzhen, AutoX has completely removed the backup driver or any remote operators for its local fleet of 25 cars, it said. The government isn't restricting where in the city AutoX operates, though the company said they are focusing on the downtown area. The company released a video of its minivan — the Fiat Chrysler Pacifica — navigating on its own through the city's downtown area, showing passengers getting in, loading a package into the backseat and letting a dog hop in for a spin. It also depicts the car navigating around loading trucks, veering past pedestrians, and performing a U-turn.

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A Step Backwards

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The 5th of the SDG goals is to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. With the withdrawal by the United States from Afghanistan,  the Taliban have banned women from taking long-distance road trips in Afghanistan on their own, requiring that a male relative accompany them for any distance beyond 45 miles, according to a Taliban official. The new law -- forbidding women from the solo, long-distance road trips -- has been instated. He said it was designed to prevent women from coming to any harm or "disturbance." The new rules also call on drivers not to allow women without veils to sit in their cars, and say drivers "should stop their cars in a proper place at the time of prayers to perform prayer." The Taliban also imposed new rules on music and alcohol; drivers are barred from playing music in cars, and "using or transferring intoxicating things in the car is strictly prohibited," the rules say. Fortunately, members of the Afghan Girl's Robotics Team and the Afghan Girl's Football [soccer] Team were able to relocate to other, more permissive locations outside the country. For the girls and women who remain in Afghanistan, most of whom will never be allowed to see this, we wish them the best and hope that their country may advance into the modern age and achieve gender equality in the future, as well.

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 New Zealand

smoke-free by 2025

New Zealand has announced its goal to be smoke-free by 2025, and now there are calls for Australia to follow their lead and start the phasing out of cigarettes in retail outlets across the country.  As part of its Smokefree 2025 plan, New Zealand will prevent anyone born from 2011 onward from ever buying tobacco. The new legal smoking age will increase every year, thereby making it illegal for future generations to be able to buy tobacco products. Other measures announced by New Zealand include reducing the amount of nicotine in cigarettes to minimal levels, and reducing the availability of tobacco in retail outlets.  New Zealand's Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said recently that, "Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand and causes twenty-five percent of all cancers." With the new laws going into effect, there is a dedicated effort to change that.

AGPS News Desk

Goes "Live"

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Since our last issue, American Global Prep School[AGPS], the school we launched in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, has started producing a weekly news program covering local and world news. Most weeks the students take turns as news reporters, but due to COVID testing and related events, sometimes we have to go with avatars. In the near future we will train and begin sending students out into the capital city to do field reports. If you'd like to watch our efforts, we invite you to subscribe to our channel on YouTube: Click HERE

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Winter 2021