Project Edge energy marketplace trial to start in North East | The Border Mail


news, local-news, renewable energy, Totally Renewable Yackandandah, Totally Renewable Beechworth, Electricity

Yackandandah and Beechworth residents will be the first in a $28 million trial that develops a marketplace to buy and sell electricity from renewable energy units. Project Edge has been called “an absolute role model” for the nation by community groups excited to be involved. About 50 residential customers will begin the three-year scheme early in 2021 before it’s expanded to up to 1000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in the North East. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency on Wednesday announced $12.9 million in funding towards software for the project, which is a partnership between Australian Energy Market Operator, network AusNet Services and retailer Mondo Power. ARENA chief executive Darren Miller said resources like rooftop solar, home batteries, home energy management systems, electric vehicles and smart appliances would transform the electricity system. “While these devices and technologies can make our grid more reliable, affordable and lower emission, rapid uptake is already impacting how the grid is managed and highlighting the limitations of our existing market frameworks,” he said. IN OTHER NEWS: Totally Renewable Beechworth president Sue Gold said the opportunity to build the resilience, security and transparency of energy systems was “beyond brilliant”. “We’re really interested in a model where the power that’s generated and stored and distributed is within community and within regions,” she said. “We want to know where it comes from, we want to know where it goes to, we want to know what it costs.” Ms Gold said the project offered two-way benefits. “We see that as an absolute role model for what can happen nationally,” she said. Totally Renewable Yackandandah vice-president Matthew Charles-Jones said the marketplace would allow small users and generators of electricity to replace coal-fired generation. “For some communities wishing to transfer to renewable energies, this is the piece of work that’s needed to change from individual installs to a cohesive supply of electricity,” he said. Starting Project Edge in the North East reflected the region’s existing commitment to community energy. “It’s a real endorsement of the work we’ve done in Yackandandah to encourage people to both reduce their usage, add solar generation and where they can afford to do it, adding batteries as well,” Mr Charles-Jones said. Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said it was important to find the best way of ensuring the grid and electricity supplies remained reliable. “This microgrid project gives control back to everyday Australians.” he said. Indi MP Helen Haines said the $13 million investment was a huge step forward for the region. “With this new marketplace, everyday households and small businesses fitted with solar and batteries can start being paid for providing those services,” she said.

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Australia’s north east state of Queensland reopens borders


SYDNEY, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) — The Australian state of Queensland reopened its borders to the residents from New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria on Tuesday, after months of restrictions due to COVID-19.

Also on Tuesday, the State of Western Australia announced as of Dec. 8 it would allow residents from NSW and Victoria to enter without having to quarantine.

Thousands of Australian’s streamed north into Queensland on the first day of summer, reuniting loved ones and offering a much-needed boost to tourism industry operators across the state, which incorporates the Great Barrier Reef.

Authorities in Queensland had come under pressure to ease restrictions earlier in order to boost the local economy, saying they would not do so until the threat from COVID-19 was low enough.

As of Tuesday, NSW had gone 24 consecutive days without a locally acquired case of COVID-19, while Victoria had gone more than a month without a single active case.

Local airline, Virgin Australia said around 100,000 tickets to Queensland had been booked during the previous week, adding that it expected to reach 60 percent of prior year domestic capacity by January 2021.

“We know many Australians have been itching to visit Queensland to reunite with their loved ones or do business,” Virgin Australia Group CEO and Managing Director Jayne Hrdlicka said.

“The broader economic contribution that open borders will bring cannot be underestimated in what has been the most difficult year for many businesses, particularly in the tourism and hospitality industries.”

Meanwhile, the State of South Australia’s capital, Adelaide, remained a designated COVID-19 hotspot by Queensland officials, meaning residents were still unable to enter without being granted an exemption.



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Threat lingers in the wind for East Lynne store after bushfire | The Canberra Times


news, latest-news, Currowan fire, East Lynne store, Fuel East Lynne, bushfires, Black Summer bushfire

A gust of wind carries both warnings and fearsome memories for Fuel East Lynne co-owner Angela Curnow. It evokes the horrific weather conditions that fed the Currowan Fire as it descended on her business in December last year and then spread along the South Coast. A year after the bushfire started, windy days could also signal yet more disruptions for the shop, which has endured power outages and long waits for restored phone and internet connections. One gust, and a fallen tree branch could knock the electricity out again. “Coming into this period, it makes you unsettled because you are feeling that it’s almost like the anniversary is coming up for that period, and it was really windy at that time, and hot,” Ms Curnow said. “This is just bringing all those memories back again.” East Lynne was among the first communities to fight off the Currowan Fire when it hit the area on December 2 and 3 last year. Fuel East Lynne co-owner Bede Cooper stayed behind to help defend the store, which was surrounded by 13 fire trucks along with firefighters carrying water cannons, ready to fight the blaze. “It came, and it came with ferocity. There were spears flying through the air, they looked like 35 foot long spears flying all over the building,” Mr Cooper said. The fire burnt holes in the store’s roof and threatened to wipe out the building. Firefighters saved the business from the onslaught. Not long after the fire’s initial advance, crews had to return and defend East Lynne again. “The trees were all catching fire here, everything was catching fire,” Mr Cooper said. “Even after the fires, trees were just bursting into flames because the roots were on fire.” The business lost a skip bin full of pies – about 7500 in total – as the bushfire knocked out the electricity. “All our alcohol and milks, they were blowing up when I was getting them out of the fridge,” Mr Cooper said. He had to throw out the store’s stock of ice cream and fishing bait. The business made another 2700 pies as it worked towards reopening before Christmas. Again, bushfire destroyed the stock when it burnt power lines in Nowra. “We got a massive power surge and it burnt all the electrical equipment again. So we had to throw everything out,” Mr Cooper said. READ MORE: Later in the summer, as a much larger Currowan Fire killed residents and destroyed homes throughout the region, East Lynne once again fell under threat on New Year’s Eve. Panicked customers tried to stock up on drinks and fuel up, only to get caught in a long, snaking traffic jam of vehicles trying to return to Sydney. The fire has slowed Mr Cooper and Ms Curnow in their project to make a local attraction of the business, which has a bike museum and outdoor space they want to use for shows and market gardens. About 16 months after they bought the business, COVID-19 has brought further complications. Flooding in the area also threatened to wash away the store ten weeks ago. “It’s been a hell of a ride for a new business,” Mr Cooper said. He is confident the store will catch up despite delays to his plans to build it as an attraction. Mr Cooper expects the pandemic will lead to a busy summer. “This is going to be the biggest Christmas this place has ever seen, because you can’t travel overseas.”

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New dog run, bird perch opens at East Coast Park


SINGAPORE: A new dog run and bird perch have been opened at East Coast Park for visitors to bring their furry or feathered friends. 

The dog run, at 0.2ha (2,000 sq m), is the largest in the east and located at Parkland Green within East Coast Park, said the National Parks Board (NParks) on Sunday (Nov 22). 

READ: New central green corridor connecting East Coast Park and Changi Beach Park to be created: Heng Swee Keat


View of the dog run at East Coast Park. (Photo: Facebook/NParks) 

Bird owners can also showcase their trained birds at the new perch located just beside the dog run. 

“Both the dog run and the bird perch were designed in consultation with the community and enhances pet-friendly amenities at the park,” said NParks. 

The perch, for example, was built using upcycled woods from East Coast Park and was designed in consultation with bird owner community Bird Craze. 

READ: New 3.5km path linking Changi Airport and East Coast Park opens, featuring dinosaur exhibits

Bird Perch at East Coast Park

The new bird perch is located beside the dog run. (Photo: Facebook/NParks) 

In addition to these amenities, NParks said it has also set up a new community initiative”to promote stewardship and responsible use of Singapore’s green spaces”. 

The Friends of East Coast Park, which includes various stakeholders and volunteers, will allow residents to play a more active role in ground-led programmes and initiatives, said NParks. 

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee has been appointed as adviser to the new initiative. 



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Wildfires continue to burn in west as warmer temperatures head east


The Bear Creek Fire temporarily led to mandatory evacuations for 235 homes.

Gusty, warm winds and dry conditions help spread a new wildfire in the West, this time in Colorado Springs.

The Bear Creek Fire temporarily led to mandatory evacuations for 235 homes. According to Colorado Springs Fire, nursing homes near the fire were under pre-evacuation orders.

However, as of Friday morning, the fire is 50% contained thanks to an aggressive aerial attack by firefighters and all evacuations have now been lifted.

Additionally, record to near-record highs have been reported from Colorado to the Texas panhandle.

Some of that warm and dry air will make its way east Friday, with temperatures in the 60s from Detroit to Boston. These temperatures will be up to 20 degrees above normal.

Major cities in the Northeast will enjoy unseasonably warm weather for the next couple of days, with highs near 60 in New York City and Boston and into the middle 60s in Philadelphia and Washington D.C.

Moving into the holiday week, much of the country will be warmer than normal on Thanksgiving.

While having your holiday dinner outside might be an option for some, much of the East Coast will have unsettled and wet weather for Thanksgiving.

The best weather around the country will be in the central U.S., from the western Great Lakes to the southern Plains and western Texas, where temperatures will be warmer than normal and dry.

Unsettled and chilly weather is expected for the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest, where temperatures will be below normal.



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India, U.S. looking at training South East Asian nations in U.N. peacekeeping


With China significantly scaling up its troop contribution for United Nations Peace Keeping (UNPK) missions, India and the U.S. are looking to undertake training of military personnel for the missions from South East Asian countries on the lines of the ongoing initiative for African countries.

“The U.S. is keen on undertaking joint training of South East Asian countries in the U.N. peacekeeping and discussions are under way,” an official source said on Friday. India has consistently been among the top troop contributing nations to the U.N. and is the fifth largest with 5,424 personnel in eight countries. The U.S. on the other hand has never contributed ground troops but contributes 27% of the U.N. peace keeping budget.

In 2016, India and the U.S. began a joint annual initiative “UN Peacekeeping Course for African Partners” to build and enhance the capacity of African troop and police-contributing countries to participate in the U.N. and regional peacekeeping operations. While this is going on, the U.S. is keen on a similar initiative for South East Asian nations like Vietnam and others, the source said.

Also read | The India-U.S. defence partnership is deepening

China is significantly expanding its troop contribution to the U.N. in addition to the funding, said a second source. “It currently has over 2,500 troops in various U.N. missions and has committed another 8,000 troops as standby,” the source said. Once implemented, it will make China the largest provider of troops to the UNPK.

China presently contributes 12% of the U.N. regular general budget and 15% of the peace keeping budget. India’s contribution to the regular budget is 0.83% and 0.16% of the peacekeeping budget.

India has so far participated in 51 of the 71 missions and contributed over 2 lakh personnel. It has troop deployment in Lebanon, Golan Heights, Congo and South Sudan in addition to staff officers in other missions. India has also set up two field hospitals in South Sudan and one in Congo.

Since 2018, India has co-opted a contingent from Kazakhstan at the mission in Lebanon. There are 120 Kazakh soldiers in the battalion of over 800 soldiers who have now been asked to set up their own mission as they have gained experience, the first officer said. Bhutan too has expressed interest in joining a U.N. mission within the Indian contingent. “We have offered them [Bhutan] to join the mission in South Sudan but they want to be part of the mission in Lebanon. But we already have Kazakh contingent there. We are discussing that,” he said.

Indian troops are much sought after in U.N. missions. “We have around 5,500 troops in eight countries of Africa and West Asia. They work tirelessly to maintain peace in conflict zones. Their contribution has been applauded by all and Indian troops are most sought after,” said a Major General MK Katiyar, Additional Director General Staff Duties, after addressing an Indian battalion set to leave for South Sudan end of this month. During the COVID pandemic, the field hospitals there have done great job, he said.

The first batch of 200 personnel from the contingent to South Sudan is scheduled to leave on November 27. As part of COVID precautions, all personnel going for U.N. missions are being tested for COVID by Reverse Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction(RT-PCR) method 21 days before departure and then quarantined. A second test is conducted 72 hours before departure and only those testing negative go on deployment.



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Biden’s Big Job in East Asia


If, as finally looks certain, the Democratic candidate Joe Biden is named US President, hopes of a reinvigorated US presence in Asia are probably ephemeral at best, leaving China, with all of its scabs and scars, as the dominant force.

The one major advantage, however, is that sanity is likely to return to US foreign policy, with no sudden gambits like sending love letters to Kim Jong-un, or inviting Najib Razak to the White House for golf, which mercifully was short-circuited by the 2018 Malaysian general election.

There is a general consensus that most countries will be happy to see the US back to protecting the sea lanes and countering increasing aggression from China, ranging from its belligerence in areas like Ladakh on the Line of Actual Control between China and India to its bellicosity against Vietnamese, Filipino and other vessels in the South China Sea.

Over the past four years the Trump administration has badly weakened US influence in the region, not only by its ruinous trade war with China and the president’s decision to opt out of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, but US reluctance to exert its influence diplomatically in a long list of controversial situations – the Chinese crackdown on Hong Kong, its treatment of Uyghur dissidents in Xinjiang, for two. Trump too often has shown personal admiration for thugs like Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines as well as Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping.

Biden, who won the presidency with a bare majority, faces the same problem his Democratic predecessor Barak Obama faced. While the Democrats hold a healthy if diminished majority in the House of Representatives, the Senate, against most predictions, is likely to remain in Republican hands with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, if he hews to his previous philosophy, set to obstruct any initiatives the Democrats may want to take.

The laundry list of what has to be done is staggering. Over the past years the Trump administration has irrevocably weakened US influence in the region, not only by its ruinous trade war with China, which has resulted in the disruption of multinational trade links, but through the appointment of first Rex Tillerson, an oil company executive, and Mike Pompeo, a political hack, as secretaries of state respectively. The two drove legions of seasoned, capable diplomats out of the State Department across the world. Pompeo especially has romped across Asia issuing threats that the US is no longer capable of backing up.

It is uncertain how long it will take to rebuild the agency. The rebuilding is going to have to take into consideration that the US is no longer the dominant force in Asia. US influence had begun to fade well before Trump came to power. Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia” was never executed in any real sense, in no small part because a recalcitrant US Congress dominated by Republicans refused to come up with the money. But reality in the form of geography and China’s growing economic and military clout have intruded. Thailand, Cambodia and the Philippines have gradually swung into China’s orbit

Beyond that, neither Pompeo nor Tillerson – let alone Trump – was capable of understanding the painstaking work that went into building relationships. Trump himself blundered across the landscape believing he could charm Xi Jinping and Kim Jong-un into acknowledging the US as the world’s preeminent power. Both ran circles around him.

In the US absence, China, which is the only country in the world to have attained full control over the Covbid-19 virus, instead has taken primacy through its multi-trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, which is building railways in the Philippines, Laos, Indonesia and Thailand among other countries, ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka and other infrastructure in Africa and elsewhere – and making a pretty penny in the process. The American riposte, the so-called Blue Dot Network, is late, inadequate and has never got off the ground.

While the Biden administration appears likely to seek to return to Obama-esque diplomatic and trade philosophy to rebuild the alliances, accords and trade links abandoned by the Trump administration, it is questionable how much influence the US can have. Sometime in the next few weeks for instance, the members of ASEAN plus Australia, Japan. South Korea and New Zealand – and, significantly, China – are expected to sign the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which covers about 40 percent of global trade and some 45 percent of the world’s population.

The United States has not been involved in formulating the RCEP, which looks likely to favor China over US interests. It is also unsure how receptive the 11 nations will be in what is now known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP, to seeing the Americans knocking on their door to get back in. Although hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic, the US remains the world’s biggest consumer market and trade destination, so it is attractive. But the other signatories are liable to ask a price.

Biden campaigned on “reshoring” US manufacturing and supply chains and a tough attitude toward China on trade enforcement. It is a valid argument. Many economists and political analysts have pointed out that Trump struck a nerve by threatening to reverse the flight of manufacturing overseas and the loss of US jobs, especially in the midwestern Rust Belt, even if the mighty tech engines of Silicon Valley and Seattle created astonishing wealth for tech participants.

There is also legitimate concern over China’s coercing multinationals into giving up trade secrets and theft of intellectual property, both of which the Trump administration made an issue, and those concerns should remain and the US should seek coordinated assistance from other nations that have fallen victim, including the Germans and other members of the eurozone.

But every president except Trump going back to Harry Truman, and especially since China began its rise in the 1980s, has campaigned on a tough attitude toward China and ended up increasing trade entanglements between the two.

The tariffs Trump put in place may stay there for a bit, benefiting countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh and others that have prospered from Trump’s attacks on China, according to Tao Wang, economist for UBS, but the temperature is likely to cool and the Biden administration will likely look the other way if multinationals start to rebuild relationships with suppliers in China. It is a country after all with far more sophisticated technology and support mechanisms than some of the countries to which multinationals have migrated.

But tensions between the US and China are unlikely to disappear, nor should they. China’s bullying of the littoral nations in the South China Sea, its genocidal treatment of the Uyghur and Tibetan minorities and its Anschluss against Hong Kong need to be resisted. It would be nice to see the US use the kind of steady diplomacy practiced by the George H.W. Bush administration in building global coalitions to let China know it can’t continue to bully the world. Susan B. Rice, the frontrunner to become Secretary of State, while though abrasive, is expected to be much more skillful than either of her predecessors.

The US military remains fairly well positioned, with the Trump administration having paid particular attention to modernizing the fleet and pushing back against China. There are more than 370,000 US troops and civilian contractors in the region, at least 200 submarines and ships including state-of-the art littoral Independence-class combat ships and some 2,000 aircraft of various capabilities.

As tensions have increased over China’s controversial ‘nine-dash line” and China’s attempts to intimidate Taiwan, the US has pushed back sharply, which, no matter how you feel about Trump, has been laudatory. Taiwan remarkably remains perhaps the most viable democracy in Asia and is deserving of support although such support has to be managed skillfully to avoid the possibility of outright war. This is where security and diplomatic arrangements like the Quad – Australia, India, Japan and the US become important.

The US has to rebuild its relations with South Korea and Japan, which foundered over US demands for huge rental increases to keep US bases on their soil – and keep the two from each other’s throats over 70-year-old World War II atrocities, which festered without US attention to them. South Korea went so far as to consider security arrangements with China as relations deteriorated with the US.

This article is among the stories we choose to make widely available. If you wish to get the full Asia Sentinel experience and access more exclusive content, please do subscribe to us.



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New South East Melbourne Phoenix NBA import Ben Moore arrives with big wraps from Jeff Van Gundy, Larry Brown


Van Gundy made the case for Moore to have a bigger role in the NBA while he was stuck on the bench with Indiana in 2018.

“[He’s a] straight winner. He could be on any team in the NBA,” Van Gundy said.

“[He brings] energy, passion, enthusiasm, defence, tenacity, rebounding. [He’s] tough, hard-nosed, nasty competitive. I love Ben Moore … he plays so hard, so athletic.”

Naismith Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown mentored Moore at Southern Methodist University and honed his work ethic, the pair still speak regularly.

Players that match Van Gundy’s praise are what any NBL side is looking for and the Phoenix are excited about how they can pair Moore with Mitch Creek and Dane Pineau in their front court next season.

Moore is also fired up to show what he can do to springboard his way back into the big league.

“Defensively, I’m going [to] bring a lot to the team and I’m going to try to embody the [team] culture,” Moore said.

“I’m going to bring it every day to practice. I’m just going to have a great work ethic and doing what I can for the team.

“I’m a blue-collar kind of player, that’s what they [the fans] can expect.”

Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell said he was excited to see what Moore would bring to the side when he arrives for pre-season training in December.

“He came extremely recommended,” Mitchell said.

“Larry Brown coached him in college and rated him the best team player he’s ever coached. When you get a Hall of Famer talking up a kid like that, then you take notice.

“I think he’s a bit of a Swiss Army Knife in that he can perform multiple roles; he can play the five [centre] spot, certainly plays the four [power forward] spot and can play the three [small forward] as well. He’s inside, outside and brings constant energy.

“We just felt like he ticks so many boxes for us. We love his length, we love his athletic ability, we love his versatility, and we think he’s going to be the guy for us.”

The Phoenix roster so far: Mitch Creek, Cam Gliddon, Ben Moore (import), Kyle Adnam, Yanni Wetzell, Dane Pineau, Adam Gibson, Kendall Stephens, Reuben Te Rangi and Izayah Mauriohooho-Le’afa (development player).

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Chhetri welcomes ATK MB and SC East Bengal to the ISL fold


Bengaluru FC (BFC) star Sunil Chhetri welcomed SC East Bengal and Mohun Bagan (rechristened as ATK Mohun Bagan) to the Indian Super League (ISL), hailing the clubs for their monumental stature. Having played for both Kolkata giants earlier in his career, Chhetri is well aware of the passionate fan following they bring to the table.

Huge thing

“Mohun Bagan and East Bengal coming in is a huge thing. I have been in Indian football for 19 years. Both clubs are monumental in stature, and synonymous with Indian football. For them to play alongside the top Indian players in the ISL is huge.

“It is a shame that their fans will not be there in the stadium, but I am sure that they will make themselves heard on other platforms. The tournament will be very competitive with their entry,” Chhetri said, in a media interaction on Thursday.

This season of the ISL, which commences on November 20, will be held in three venues at Goa, robbing BFC of the chance to play in front of their adoring home fans. Chhetri admitted that it will be tough to adjust to the new normal, but added that this was just a small price to pay to get back on the football field.

“Yes, there are many challenges this season. We will not be able to play at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. Our fans, who also travel to watch away matches, will not be there this season. Not having our fans is a big miss. We also have to stay for five months in the bubble, which is not going to be easy.

“There were murmurs in our dressing room about the strict bubble, but I told them that it is a very small price to pay to be able to play a big tournament.

“Not many people in the world enjoy the benefits that we do. In a country where people are fighting for fundamental things, we are being allowed to play a football tournament and do what we enjoy,” the 36-year-old said.

Injury management

Chhetri stated that given the long lay-off that players have faced, injury management is crucial.

“In just 16 days, we will play our first ISL game. But we’re yet to train properly with the full team.

“The only thing I’m skeptical about is players getting injured when we start training with the full team. The chances of getting injuries are really high. We must avoid injuries in order to do well,” Chhetri said.



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Denisovan ancestry and population history of early East Asians


DNA analyses of an early East Asian

Ancient, anatomically modern humans interbred with the archaic hominins Neanderthals and Denisovans. However, the extent of this interbreeding and how it affects modern populations is not well understood. Massilani et al. generated genome-wide data from a 34,000-year-old female individual from the Salkhit Valley in eastern Mongolia and conducted a detailed modeling of her ancestry with regard to other Pleistocene human genomes. They found evidence for Denisovan ancestry in ancient human genomes from at least 6000 years before the Salkhit individual lived and determined that the Denisovan contribution differed from that of another ancient Asian individual, as well as from the ancient Denisovan contribution to extant Australasians. This reference point helps us to understand the early history of our species in Eurasia, especially Eastern Eurasia, for which genomic evidence remains scarce.

Science, this issue p. 579

Abstract

We present analyses of the genome of a ~34,000-year-old hominin skull cap discovered in the Salkhit Valley in northeastern Mongolia. We show that this individual was a female member of a modern human population that, following the split between East and West Eurasians, experienced substantial gene flow from West Eurasians. Both she and a 40,000-year-old individual from Tianyuan outside Beijing carried genomic segments of Denisovan ancestry. These segments derive from the same Denisovan admixture event(s) that contributed to present-day mainland Asians but are distinct from the Denisovan DNA segments in present-day Papuans and Aboriginal Australians.



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