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Brazil To Increase Army Presence On Border With Venezuela

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BRASILIA – Brazil’s government will declare an emergency in its northern border state of Roraima to boost funding and troops to help control an influx of Venezuelan refugees into the country, Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said on Wednesday.

Thousands of Venezuelans escaping economic crisis in the Andean country have crossed the border with Brazil in recent months. The local government said Venezuelan arrivals represent 10 percent of the population of Roraima’s capital, Boa Vista, or around 40,000 people, straining public services.

According to Jungmann, the armed forces will double troop numbers in the state, set up a field hospital and create a screening center for Venezuelans.

Brazilian President Michel Temer flew to Boa Vista on Monday for meetings with local authorities to assess the situation.

Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu,

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Last Residents Hold On In Tunisias Underground Houses

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MATMATA, Tunisia – In the arid valleys of southern Tunisia’s Djebel Dahar region, people have lived for centuries in underground houses whose earthen casing provides protection against searing summer heat and winter winds.

But in recent decades, rural depopulation has meant fewer people live in the homes, which are composed of rooms hewn into the walls of an excavated circular courtyard. The few remaining families say they are attached to the homes and the land or see no way of moving.

“My father died, my mother died, the girls got married and I was left alone. They all went to lead their own lives,” said Latifa Ben Yahia, 38, who lives in a five-room troglodyte home in the village of Tijma.

“If I leave then the house will be gone.”

The homes are concentrated around Matmata, which lies in a cratered landscape dotted with palm trees and olive groves about 365 km (227 miles) south of Tunis.

They are highly unusual, though similar constructions are found across the border in Libya, to the southwest. In other parts of the Djebel Dahar, houses and storerooms were carved from rock and earth above ground.

Many families left the underground houses when new towns and villages were built in the 1960s and 1970s as part of a modernization drive by President Habib Bourguiba.

Locals suspect Bourguiba wanted to dilute Berber communities as he strove to integrate them into the Arab nation after independence from France.

Saliha Mohamedi, 36, fills a bowl from her water storage outside her troglodyte house on the outskirts of Matmata, Tunisia, February 5, 2018. “I don’t want to leave my house, it would be as if I was throwing my life and my traditions away,” Saliha said. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra Disputes over inheritance and periods of drought or heavy rain, which can cause the houses to collapse, also contributed to the rural exodus.

Some built modern houses on adjoining land, using the traditional homes as stables or workshops.

Slideshow (20 Images)Residents live largely off olive farming and tourism. Matmata became a popular destination after a troglodyte home converted into a hotel was used as a Star Wars set in the 1970s.

But tourism across Tunisia is still recovering from a sharp decline after the country’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising and major attacks targeting tourists in Tunis and Sousse in 2015.

“Before the revolution there was tourism. Since then there’s not been much, just some Tunisians who come on days off or holidays,” said Saliha Mohamedi, 36.

She says she is comfortable in the house, where she lives with her husband and four children and lets tourists visit in return for tips. 

“If I got another house I would give it to (my children). This is where we have passed our lives,” she said.

Hedi Ali Kayel, 65, who runs a small shop in the village of Haddej, is one of the last people in the area who knows how to build and maintain the houses. The last new house he dug was in the 1970s.

Now he is fighting a lonely battle to save the ones that still exist. “Every time there’s rain I come and repair them,” he says. “I don’t let them go.”

Writing by Aidan Lewis;

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More Bombs Fall On Syrias Eastern Ghouta Ahead Of Un Vote

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BEIRUT – A new wave of bombs struck Syria’s eastern Ghouta on Friday, which a witness in one town described as the worst yet, ahead of a U.N. Security Council vote to demand a 30-day ceasefire across the country.

For a sixth straight day, warplanes have pounded the densely populated agricultural pocket east of the capital, the last rebel bastion near Damascus. The escalation has killed at least 417 people and injured hundreds more, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group says.

Medical charities say jets have hit more than a dozen hospitals, making it near impossible to treat the wounded.

The Britain-based Observatory said government warplanes and artillery hit Douma, Zamalka, and other towns across the enclave in the early hours on Friday. A witness in Douma, who asked not to be identified, said by phone the early morning bombing was the most intense so far.

The bombing of eastern Ghouta since Sunday night has been among the fiercest of the war, now entering its eighth year.

The Civil Defense in eastern Ghouta said its rescuers rushed to help the wounded after strikes on the town of Hammouriyeh on Friday morning. The emergency service, which operates in rebel territory, says it has pulled hundreds of people from under the rubble in recent days.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian military.

Damascus and Moscow say they only target militants, and that they aim to prevent rebels from shelling the capital with mortars. They have accused insurgents of holding residents as human shields in the Ghouta.

Nearly 400,000 people live in eastern Ghouta, a pocket of satellite towns and farms that has been under government siege since 2013.

The U.N. envoy for Syria has pleaded for a truce to halt one of the worst air assaults of the seven-year war and prevent a “massacre”.

The U.N. Security Council was considering a resolution, which Kuwait and Sweden drafted, demanding “a cessation of hostilities throughout Syria for all military operations” for 30 days to allow aid deliveries and medical evacuations.

The vote is set to take place on Friday. The resolution does not cover the groups Islamic State, al Qaeda and the Nusra Front, which Moscow and Damascus say they have targeted in eastern Ghouta.

Reporting by Ellen Francis; Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols in New York;

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Randy Blokes Reveal They’d Rather Romp With A Sex Doll Than Real Women As They Reveal How Porn Binges Warped Their Fantasies

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MEN prefer romping with sex dolls thanks to the rise of free internet porn, it’s been claimed.

Boss of sex doll firm 1amdoll USA says his business is booming because men don’t want real women anymore – because sites like PornHub and RedTube have raised the bar on what’s deemed sexy.

Getty – Contributor Men prefer sex with robotic women rather than real ones, according to a sex doll manufacturing boss

The boss, only known as Brent, was speaking to journalist and author Jon Ronson, on his podcast The Butterfly Effect.

He said: “Part of the success for our company has been the overuse of pornography.”

Brent added: “I’ve had a couple of customers who have said I go to the bar and take a girl home at 3am and she’s a little fatter than I’d like her to be or she’s not as cute.

“So they turn to the doll because the doll can be put in the position they want.”

Shocking research, last year, claimed that porn is also helping the rise of sexual dysfunction in men.

AFP or licensors Sex dolls are becoming mega realistic – with some models able to laugh at your jokes Makers of Harmony – the robot sex doll – show off her lifelike qualities

Alamy Research suggests the rise of free internet porn has contributed to men lacking sexual desire and suffering from impotence Saucy sex Doll is hooked up with Amazon voice assistant tool Alexa

Newsweek reported that an excessive smut habit can be “ruinous to men’s psychosexual health”, leading to impotence and a disinterest in your partner.

Studies by the American Urological Association found the more time men spend on sites such as PornHub, the less able they’ll be to connect with a partner in the bedroom.

Of the men surveyed, roughly 20 percent used porn three to five times a week.

Nearly four percent of men preferred masturbating to porno over having sex with a real partner.

The same study, however, found minimal negative effects on women who watch pornography.

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