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A guide to the U.S. midterms for non-Americans

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The U.S. midterm elections take place halfway through a president’s four-year term in office

U.S. polling shows Republicans have momentum going into the midterm elections.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be up for election, while 35 of the 100-seat Senate will also be decided.

Democrats currently control both houses. However, Republicans need to gain a slim number of seats (5) to take back majority in the House.

In addition, there are also elections for state legislatures and ballot initiatives.

These are mini-referendums focussing on issues like abortion, gun control measures and the legalisation of marijuana for some recreational purposes.

Why is this important?

The U.S. midterms are a report card for the incumbent president.

President Joe Biden said the heart of American democracy is at stake this election.

“I’m not the only one who sees it. Recent polls have shown that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe our democracy at—is at risk, that our democracy is under threat.”

“They too see that democracy is on the ballot this year, and they’re deeply concerned about it,” he said.

If Republicans take one or both chambers, they will seek to block President Biden’s legislative agenda.

The issues range from reforms on healthcare, inflation and the cost of living.

But the divided nature of U.S. politics has seen a campaign like no other, as both parties seek to edge out the competition.

President Biden said the “MAGA Republicans, the extreme right, the Trumpies,” are a core reason behind the “anger, violence, hate and division”.

However, Former President Donald Trump is pushing for people to vote Republican.

Trump has also pointed to a potential run for president in 2024.

“And now, in order to make our country successful and safe and glorious, I will very, very, very probably do it again,” he said.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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Boston Dynamics’ electric marvel or robot contortionist?

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Boston Dynamics has recently unveiled its latest creation, the electric Atlas robot, boasting enhanced agility and strength.

However, with its uncanny ability to contort and rise from the ground with an almost eerie grace, one might wonder if we’re witnessing the birth of the world’s first robot contortionist.

As this technological marvel flaunts its capabilities, one can’t help but ponder if we’re on the brink of a future where household chores will be effortlessly handled by robots moving like a fusion of ballet dancers and horror movie monsters.

With its cadaver-like movements and illuminated head, it’s hard not to speculate whether Atlas is destined to revolutionise robotics or simply rehearsing for a techno-horror rendition of The Nutcracker. As Boston Dynamics continues to push the boundaries of robotics, the line between science fiction and reality becomes increasingly blurred.

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The Coffee confusion causing health concerns

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As the morning sun peeks through the curtains, many reach for that familiar brew, kickstarting their day with a comforting cup of coffee.

It’s a ritual ingrained in cultures worldwide, offering a jolt of energy to combat the grogginess of dawn.

But when is the optimal time for that caffeine fix? According to registered dietitian Anthony DiMarino, RD, LD, the answer isn’t crystal clear.

Some experts suggest delaying that first sip until mid-morning or later. However, DiMarino reassures coffee lovers that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this dilemma.

Meanwhile, the science behind coffee production unveils fascinating insights into its instant variant. Whether produced through freeze-drying or spray-drying methods, instant coffee offers convenience without sacrificing flavor.

Yet, beyond convenience, recent studies delve deeper into coffee’s impact on our bodies. Research exploring the acute effects of decaffeinated versus caffeinated coffee reveals intriguing findings on reaction time, mood, and skeletal muscle strength.

Moreover, investigations into the gut microbiome shed light on coffee’s influence on liver cirrhosis patients. A study analyzing the duodenal microbiome in this population found correlations between coffee consumption and microbial richness and evenness.

So, as you sip your coffee and ponder the day ahead, consider not just the flavour in your cup but also the subtle impacts it may have on your body and mind.

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Laughing in limbo Canadian Just for Laughs cancelled

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The renowned Montreal-based Just for Laughs comedy festival, one of the world’s largest international comedy events, will not grace the calendar in 2024.

The Canadian company overseeing the festival announced its cancellation this year, citing efforts to steer clear of bankruptcy. Having marked its 40th anniversary in 2023, Just For Laughs has long been a beloved fixture on the city’s cultural landscape.

With its absence raising questions about which event will inherit the title of the biggest comedy festival, speculation arises whether Melbourne will seize the mantle, given its burgeoning comedy scene and the success of its own Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

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