Rachel O’Donoghue – January 21, 2018
Forces entered the country’s Afrin province today just 24 hours after pounding the region with airstrikes.Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim reportedly said they are targeting US-backed Kurdish fighters.Shocking pictures show dozens of tanks and armoured vehicles crossing over the border in a terrifying display of military might.
But the Syrian-Kurdish YPG militia has denied there is a full-scale invasion underway, claiming forces clashed in Afrin but Turkish soldiers were beaten back.
YPG official, Nouri Mahmoudi, said “all the Turkish military’s ground attacks against Afrin have been repelled so far and they have been forced to retreat.”
A statement from the militia said: “Our people are holding on to their land and do not accept surrender… we repeat our determination to protect our people in Afrin against the attacks.”
Sputnik News – January 21, 2017
The historic Élysée Treaty, signed by former President of the Fifth Republic Charles de Gaulle and then-German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer on January 22, 1963, remains a major pillar of Paris-Berlin relations and European integration, providing the basis for trust-based cooperation between the two nations.
On the 55th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty of friendship and cooperation, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged to enhance bilateral ties.
“Our ambition is to define common positions on all important European and international issues,” a joint statement read.
It added that the two nations “will study and jointly propose effective policies and new technological approaches, particularly in the areas of climate protection, energy, mobility, biotechnology and artificial intelligence.”
Anugrah Kumar – January 20, 2018
The Trump administration has announced that it’s revoking the Obama-era policy of restricting state governments from denying Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood on the grounds that they are abortion providers.
Department of Health and Human Services under Obama issued the warning in 2016 when 24 states denied Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood following an undercover investigation by the Center for Medical Progress exposed the abortion provider’s alleged business of selling aborted babies’ body parts.
The Trump administration rescinded the guidance Friday in a letter to state Medicaid directors, which said the guidance favored abortion providers, according to The Hill.
Deer across North America are dying from a mysterious disease that gradually destroys the animals’ nervous systems.
And scientists are concerned that the infection could make its way to humans.
Chronic wasting disease — or “zombie deer disease” — was first observed in 1967 in Fort Collins, Colorado, and has since infected wild herds in 24 states and Canada, as well as in South Korea and Norway, NPR reported.
“CWD passes from animal to animal through prions, misfolded proteins that cause other proteins to misfold around them,” NPR reported. “Different prion diseases tend to only harm certain species, but can evolve to overcome those limitations.”
In some herds, as many as half of the animals carry prions.
TW – January 21, 2018
A strong earthquake registered by the CSN Chile as M6.3 hit northern Chile at 01:06 UTC on January 21, 2018 (22:06 local time, January 20). The agency is reporting a depth of 105.3 km (65.4 miles). USGS is reporting M6.3 at a depth of 110.8 km (68.8 miles); EMSC M6.4 at 110 km. The quake was preceded by M3.0 at 22:45 UTC, January 20.
According to the USGS, the epicenter was located 76.6 km (47.6 miles) S of Putre (population 0), 85.2 km (52.9 miles) ESE of Arica (population 185 999), Chile and 117.8 km (73.2 miles) SE of Tacna (population 280 098), Peru.
There are 230 000 people living within 100 km (62 miles) and less than 1 000 within 10 km (6.2 miles).
According to the USGS, some 128 000 people are estimated to have felt moderate shaking.
However, CSN Chile reports very strong shaking in Arica and in the village of Codpa. Strong shaking was reported in Cuya, Pocon Chile and Putre.
DW – January 20, 2018
Turkish warplanes on Saturday carried out airstrikes against Kurdish positions in the northwestern town of Afrin as Turkish-backed Syrian rebel fighters launched a ground offensive.
Military officials quoted by Turkey’s state-run news agency said jets had hit more than 100 targets in the region.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the start of the operation, dubbed “Olive Branch,” adding that it would soon be expanded to other areas.
“This will be followed by Manbij,” he said, referring to a Syrian town to the east held by US-backed Kurdish militias.
The Turkish army said the land and air assault aimed to hit positions held by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and “Islamic State” (IS) militants. However, IS is not known to have a presence in Afrin.
Both Afrin and Manbij are under the control of the YPG, which Ankara classes as a terrorist organization allied with the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), a group that is waging a long-running insurgency in Turkey.
RT – January 20, 2018
The Syrian government has condemned “Turkish aggression on Afrin” following the operation launched by Ankara. Kurdish YPG forces responded by saying they have “no choice but to resist.”
The Syrian government also denied that Ankara informed Damascus of the operation, despite Turkish media reporting that such notification was forwarded “in writing,” Syrian state media reported, citing an official source.
The Kurdish YPG militia said the Turkish airstrikes have forced it to fight back. “We will defeat this aggression, like we have defeated other such assaults against our villages and cities,” the group said, as quoted by Reuters. It claims that Ankara had hit civilian neighborhoods and urged men and women in northern Syria to join its ranks to protect Afrin.
DW – January 16, 2018
The Palestinian Central Council, the second-highest decision-making body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), backed a measure to suspend recognition of Israel until it recognizes a Palestinian state.
In addition to recognizing Palestine, Israel should stop settlement building and rescind its annexation of East Jerusalem, Central Council chairman Salim Zanoun read in a statement late on Monday after the council voted in favor of the measure.
Although the move would spark an international backlash and disrupt 25 years of formal relations between the Palestinian and Israeli governments, it was not clear whether the Central Council’s vote was binding.
The Central Council’s previous vote in 2015 to suspend security coordination with Israel was never implemented. That vote, however, was also reaffirmed on Monday.
Edwin Mora – January 17, 2018
Christians and other minorities in Pakistan are bolting away from the predominantly Muslim nation by the “thousands” as Islamabad ignores harassment at the hands of Islamic extremists, reports Asia Times.
“Thousands of Christians, Ahmadis, and Hindus are fleeing as the government turns a blind eye to Islamic groups’ harassment of other faiths and beliefs; even atheists have now gone quiet,” notes the news outlet, adding “A closer look at the situation reveals that religious minorities and atheists are at a higher risk than ever.”
The report comes soon after U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration placed Pakistan on a U.S. watchlist for countries of “particular concern” over “severe violations of religious freedom” after the commander-in-chief blasted Islamabad for harboring jihadists.
“This is only going to get worse,” Ibn Abdur Rehman, secretary-general of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, told Asia Times, referring to the persecution of religious minorities. “The state has surrendered to the radical Islamists and plans on gradually taking away every last bit of freedom from its citizens.”
Strange Sounds – Jan 19, 2018
Saiga antelopes have been roaming Central Asia since the time of the woolly mammoth. But now, “total extinction” may be on the horizon. Scientists were dumbfounded to see nearly two-thirds of the global saiga population – about 200,000 antilopes – wiped out in a few weeks. Now scientists have found that the antilopes were killed by a MUTANT bacteria – usually harmless in the animals’ bodies -, which fatally altered during 10 days of high heat and humidity preceding the deaths.
From there, the bacteria entered the bloodstream, causing a disease known as hemorrhagic septicemia, which is so toxic and so devastating that the animal doesn’t show a lot of pathology actually. Suddenly they’d start looking a little bit unhappy and stop feeding. Within about three hours they die.
Only 30,000 saigas in Kazakhstan survived, likely because they were outside the area of high heat and humidity. But they might not be so lucky if such an event occurs again. And this apocalyptic scenario is very, very likely given that mass die-offs of saigas also occurred in 1981 and 1988.