Russia Knew About Syria’s Chemical Weapons Strike Before It Happened: U.S. Officials

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

Russia Knew About Syria’s Chemical Weapons Strike Before It Happened: U.S. Officials

3:41 PM ET

(WASHINGTON) — A senior U.S. official says the United States has concluded that Russia knew in advance of Syria’s chemical weapons attack last week.

The official says a Russian-operated drone flew over a hospital in Syria as victims of the attack were rushing to get treatment.

Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons.

Until Monday, U.S. officials had said they weren’t sure if the drone was operated by Russia or Syria. The senior official said it still wasn’t clear who was flying the jet that bombed the hospital.

The official said the presence of the drone couldn’t have been a coincidence, and that Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment.

The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on intelligence matters and demanded anonymity.

South Korea’s President Warns That North Korea Is About To Test 6th Nuclear Weapon

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

By Ju-min Park | SEOUL

South Korea’s acting president warned on Tuesday of “greater provocations” by North Korea as tension on the Korean peninsula rises over concern the North may conduct a test of its military hardware in coming days.

A U.S. Navy strike group led by a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is en route to the western Pacific with talk of military action by the United States gaining traction following its strikes last week against Syria.

South Korean acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn ordered the military to intensify monitoring of the North’s activities and to ensure close communication with the ally the United States.

“It is possible the North may wage greater provocations such as a nuclear test timed with various anniversaries including the Supreme People’s Assembly,” said Hwang, acting leader since former President Park Geun-hye was removed over a graft scandal.

The North convenes a Supreme People’s Assembly session on Tuesday, one of its twice-yearly sessions in which major appointments are announced and national policy goals are formally approved.

Saturday is the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country’s founding father and grandfather of current ruler, Kim Jong Un.

A military parade is expected in the North’s capital, Pyongyang, to mark the day. North Korea often also marks important anniversaries with tests of its nuclear or missile capabilities.

The North’s foreign ministry, in a statement carried by its KCNA news agency earlier on Tuesday, said the U.S. navy strike group’s move near the Korean peninsula showed America’s “reckless moves for invading had reached a serious phase”.

“We never beg for peace but we will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms and keep to the road chosen by ourselves,” an unidentified ministry spokesman said.

SANCTIONS WARNING

Delegates from around the North have been arriving in Pyongyang ahead of the assembly session. They visited statues of previous leaders Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il, state media reported.

North Korea is emerging as one of the most pressing foreign policy problems facing the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

The Trump administration is reviewing its policy toward North Korea and has said all options are on the table, including military strikes.

The U.S. Navy strike group Carl Vinson canceled a planned trip to Australia and was moving toward the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean peninsula as a show of force, a U.S. official told Reuters over the weekend.

Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, met in Florida last week and Trump pressed Xi to do more to curb North Korea’s nuclear program.

China and South Korea agreed on Monday to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea if it carried out nuclear or long-range missile tests, a senior official in Seoul said.

As well as the anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth, there are several other North Korean anniversaries in April that could be opportunities for weapon tests, South Korean officials have said.

The North is seen ready to conduct its sixth nuclear test at any time, with movements detected by satellites at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site.

(Editing by Jack Kim, Robert Birsel)

Brazil To Allow 100% Foreign Ownership Of Domestic Airlines

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

Brazil to sign decree for full international ownership in airlines: source

Brazilian President Michel Temer will sign on Tuesday a decree allowing foreign companies to own 100 percent of local airlines, as part of measures aimed at increasing investment in the tourism industry, a government source told Reuters on Monday.

Temer will sign the decree at a ceremony with the Tourism Minister Marx Beltrão, the source said.

Reuters first reported in January that the government was drafting the measure.

Last year, former President Dilma Rousseff issued a decree lifting the limit on foreign ownership of airlines to 49 percent from 20 percent.

As part of the new measures the government will also, according to the source, subsidize airlines to fly to remote areas that are poorly served by flights, such as parts of the Amazon.

(Reporting by Lisandra Paraguassu; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

A Mountain Lion Kitten Is Found, Leading To Excitement And Concern

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR)

A Mountain Lion Kitten Is Found, Leading To Excitement And Concern

This is mountain lion kitten known as P-54 found in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. It is the only known kitten from P-23’s third litter, according to the National Park Service.

Courtesy of the National Park Service

Admit it. You only clicked on this story because of the photo of that insanely cute mountain lion kitten. You just wanted to gaze into her (yes, it’s a her) milky blue eyes.

That’s fair.

But there’s more to the story of this kitten. Researchers have named her P-54. She’s no more than a few months old. And – this is the sad part – it’s likely that she’s the product of inbreeding.

The kitten was born amidst the urban sprawl of Southern California in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the largest urban national park in the country. The recreation area is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, agricultural fields and greater Los Angeles.

“Think of it like an island,” says Jeff Sikich, a biologist for the National Park Service, who’s been tracking the park’s mountain lions in its steep chaparral-covered canyons for more than a decade. “[The mountain lions] are pretty much hemmed in by freeways and development on all sides.”

As a result, few cats – or other wildlife, for that matter – are able to come and go, so adult mountain lions resort to inbreeding. Researchers know that the kitten’s mother is P-23. And they suspect the father is P-23’s half-brother, P-30. They’re waiting for genetic testing to confirm their suspicions.

Sikich says it’s unlikely that P-30 or other mountain lions know they’re inbreeding. Male mountain lions don’t stick around to raise their kids. But the results of inbreeding could be devastating to the population’s future.

Limited genetic diversity can lead to mutations and abnormalities. Sikich points to the Florida panther, a population that almost went extinct from inbreeding. Researchers started to find genetic defects in the animals – holes in the heart, kinked tails and low sperm counts – before wildlife managers introduced outside panthers into the population to mix things up.

The same thing could start to happen in the Santa Monica Mountains. Sikich says they’ve only seen one outside mountain lion come into the park in the last 12 years. Others have been turned away by the freeways or killed by passing cars.

“If that was to stay the same into the future, we could get to that Florida panther level in roughly 35 years,” he says. “And then once we hit those levels, we can see pretty much 99 percent extinction within roughly 15 years.”

P-54 is a healthy kitten, Sikich says. And she’ll have a better chance at long-term survival than she would if she was a boy. Most male mountain lions are killed by the park’s dominant cats when they get old enough to leave their mother. Without a way to disperse outside of the mountains, they’re put in competition with the older males.

And it’s not all bad. Sikich and other researchers are encouraged and excited that the kitten was born.

“They are successfully reproducing and raising their young, which is a good thing,” Sikich says.

That’s impressive, he says, when you consider they’re large carnivores living just outside the second-largest urban area in the U.S. And the lessons they’re learning by studying the animals and how they survive in an urban and fragmented habitat could be used in other parts of the country. The National Wildlife Federation says that habitat loss, like that caused by fragmentation, is the biggest threat to wildlife in the U.S.

Park officials and wildlife advocates are hoping to address the fragmentation by building a wildlife overpass, which would connect the Santa Monica Mountains with other wilderness in Southern California. The proposed overpass would bridge over Route 101, a busy highway.

There are challenges to getting the project done, but Sikich is optimistic that the overpass will be built, giving future mountain lion kittens a better chance at long-term success.

Let us wake up ! | Réveillons-nous !

Aphadolie

Time : 4 mn 20

Synopsis :

Parce qu’il est temps de nous unir et d’agir pour faire face aux problématiques de notre système et de notre développement.

Parce qu’il ne nous reste certainement plus bien longtemps avant d’atteindre la zone de non-retour.

Il est nécessaire pour chaque être humain de se sentir concerné par les problématiques de notre temps et d’agir à son niveau pour essayer d’améliorer les choses.

Gardez cela en tête, si nous ne faisons rien, il ne se passera rien…

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Stockholm Sweden: Moment Of Silence Observed For Victims Of Terrorist Attack

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS GROUP ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Minute of Silence Observed for Stockholm Attack Victims

People attend a memorial ceremony at Sergels Torg plaza in Stockholm, close to the point where a truck drove into a department store two days before on April 9, 2017. AFP

Sweden on Monday observed a minute of silence for the victims of last week’s truck attack by a man whom police believe is a jihadist sympathizer and who had gone underground after receiving a deportation order.

A solemn ceremony was held outside Stockholm’s City Hall, under grey and rainy skies with flags flying at half-mast, attended by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, King Carl XVI Gustaf and most of the royal family, as well as other representatives of Swedish society.

After the minute of silence, the Swedish army’s music corps played a solemn piece then Stockholm Mayor Karin Wanngard gave an address.

“We will never give in to violence. We will never let terror prevail,” Wanngard said, adding: “Stockholm will remain an open and tolerant city.”

To the families of the victims, Prime Minister Lofven said: “You are not alone, we are thinking of you. All of Sweden stands with you.”

In Friday’s attack, the assailant ploughed a hijacked beer truck down a pedestrian street in the heart of Stockholm before crashing it into the facade of the busy Ahlens department store.

Four people were killed and 15 were wounded.

Outside the department store, a huge crowd also observed the minute of silence, some visibly moved with tears streaming down their cheeks.

The motive for the attack was not known, but the method resembled previous attacks using vehicles in London, Berlin and Nice, all of them claimed by ISIS.

Sweden’s police chief Dan Eliasson said he remained confident that the person in custody is the truck driver.

“I am confident and certain that we have the right perpetrator. Then it is up to the prosecutor to prove this in court,” Eliasson told a news conference.

The main suspect has been identified as a 39-year-old Uzbek who went underground when he received a deportation order after his permanent residency application in 2014 was rejected.

Swedish media have identified the suspect as Rakhmat Akilov, a construction worker and father of four children living with their mother in Afghanistan.

Two sources who had worked with Akilov independently identified him to Reuters from images distributed by police as the manhunt got underway on Friday.

Two police spokespersons declined to confirm his identity as did the suspect’s court-appointed lawyer.

Many Swedes were on Monday back at work for the first time since the attack, while the department store into which the truck slammed had already reopened.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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Amid growing US criticism, families of Palestinian terrorists seek larger payments

Relatives of ‘martyrs’ want allowance they are paid by PLO to be linked to cost of living

Source: Amid growing US criticism, families of Palestinian terrorists seek larger payments

Amid growing US criticism, families of Palestinian terrorists seek larger payments

Relatives of ‘martyrs’ want allowance they are paid by PLO to be linked to cost of living

Source: Amid growing US criticism, families of Palestinian terrorists seek larger payments

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