Ten-year old Chilean teaches star gazing to classmates

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Ricardo Barriga, 10, speaks and teaches astronomy to adults and younger in hopes of raising money for his own astronaut suit, in Pirque, Chile January 16, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Ricardo Barriga, 10, speaks and teaches astronomy to younger in hopes of raising money for his own astronaut suit, Pirque, Chile January 16, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Ricardo Barriga, 10, poses for a photo during an interview with Reuters in Pirque, Chile January 16, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Ricardo Barriga, 10, poses for a picture during an interview with Reuters in Pirque, Chile January 16, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 January 2019
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Ten-year old Chilean teaches star gazing to classmates

  • Barriga’s parents have promised him a trip to Orlando, Florida in the United States, where he hopes to visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Station in nearby Cape Canaveral

SANTIAGO: Ten-year old Ricardo Barriga’s backyard in Pirque, Chile is strewn with a blow-up unicorn, pool toys, a soccer ball and a $3,000 telescope that his parents mail-ordered from Germany.
The budding young astronaut can identify constellations in the austral sky, little-known features of the moon, planets and black holes. He recently started giving $4 lessons to classmates to help them do the same, with hopes of raising enough money to buy himself a space suit, he said.
Barriga counts himself lucky to have been born in Chile, a South American nation known as star-gazer’s paradise, with clear skies, a desert-dry climate and little light pollution.
The Chilean elementary school student came upon astronomy while flipping through the “A-section” of his parents’ encyclopedia and has been hooked ever since, he said.
“It was an encyclopedia with all kinds of information in it,” Barriga said. “My dream is to be an astronaut and also, to have a space suit.”
Barriga’s parents have promised him a trip to Orlando, Florida in the United States, where he hopes to visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Station in nearby Cape Canaveral.
“I thought that if I could become an astronaut I could work for NASA,” he said.
Chile is home to 70 percent of global astronomy investment, thanks to the cloudless skies above its northern Atacama desert, the driest on earth. Within five years, the South American country will host three of the world’s four next-generation, billion-dollar telescopes.


Cambodian women face surrogacy charges after Vietnam births

A woman rides a motor-cart loaded with bananas in Phnom Penh on July 18, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 22 min 51 sec ago
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Cambodian women face surrogacy charges after Vietnam births

  • The surrogacy business boomed in Cambodia after it was put under tight restrictions in neighboring Thailand. There also were crackdowns in India and Nepal

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: Three Cambodian women have been charged with violating surrogacy and human trafficking laws after they gave birth to babies they delivered to Chinese nationals in Vietnam, a court official said Friday.
Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Ei Rin said the women, aged 31 and 32, are being detained pending further investigation after being charged on Thursday.
Chhiv Phally, the director of the Interior Ministry’s Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department, said the three women were detained by Vietnamese police and returned to Cambodia after they illegally crossed into the country to deliver their children to Chinese nationals for $8,000 per child, reported the English-language Phnom Penh Post newspaper.
Cambodia’s anti-surrogacy law carries a penalty of one to six months in prison, while the human trafficking charge, involving crossing borders, is punishable by 15 to 20 years’ imprisonment.
The anti-surrogacy law was intended to target intermediaries between parents and surrogates, but in the absence of a more appropriate law, has also been applied against women who carry surrogate pregnancies and give birth. The government has said it is drafting a new law to cover surrogacy, but it is not known when it will be ready.
Cambodia hurriedly passed its first law specifically targeting surrogacy in 2016 as the country was becoming a popular destination for foreign would-be parents seeking women to give birth to their children.
Developing countries are popular for surrogacy because costs are much lower than in countries such as the United States and Australia, where surrogate services can cost around $150,000. The surrogacy business boomed in Cambodia after it was put under tight restrictions in neighboring Thailand. There also were crackdowns in India and Nepal.
After Cambodia’s crackdown, would-be parents shifted to seek out surrogates in neighboring Laos.
In December, 32 Cambodian women who were charged with human trafficking for serving as surrogate mothers were released from detention after agreeing to keep the babies rather than giving them up as originally planned.