Thousands Of Islamic Refugees Enter EU Through Open Door In Turkey

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

Greek authorities say that they have deterred thousands of refugees and migrants trying to enter the European Union following clashes on its border with Turkey on Saturday. A Deutsche Welle reporter at the Pazarkule border crossing in the Turkish state of Edirna said that tear gas and pepper spray were used by police on the migrants who had gathered there. Agence France-Press reported that migrants then hurled stones at the police in response.

The migrant push for the border followed a message by Turkey that, in the wake of the killing of at least 33 Turkish troops in Idlib, northern Syria, following bombardment by Syrian and Russian forces, it would no longer stop refugees trying to enter the EU.

Migrants at Greek border
Migrants react as Greek anti-riot police officers use tears gas on the buffer zone Turkey-Greece border, at Pazarkule, in Edirne district, on February 29, 2020. The clashes take place while as many as 4,000 migrants attempted to cross into the EU.OZAN KOSE/GETTY IMAGES

Turkey’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said Turkey had “no choice” but to ease border controls because it had not got enough support in hosting Syrian refugees, which number more than 3.4 million, the BBC reported.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is worried that the continued attacks on Idlib will draw hundreds of thousands of more refugees to Turkey, a state inundated by those fleeing regional conflicts. The move to set migrants into the EU may be a ploy to pressure the west and NATO into helping stop the Syrian advance, Sky News reported.

Erdogan said Turkey can not support more people fleeing Syria, telling reporters on Saturday, according to AFP, “We will not close those doors … Why? Because the European Union should keep its promises,” referring to a 2016 deal with Brussels to stop refugee flows in return for aid.

DW described the scene at the border, saying that some tried to cross under a fence into the border area and many had tears in their eyes as they felt the effects of the sprays used by police. Sky News posted video to Twitter of the fracas at the border which included terrified children being carried by their parents.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, according to the BBC, that despite the numbers of migrants at the border “no illegal entries into Greece will be tolerated.”

Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said his country “came under an organized, mass, illegal attack… a violation of our borders and endured it,” adding “we averted more than 4,000 attempts of illegal entrance to our land borders.”

The former American special envoy to Syria, Frederic C. Hof, has said that the U.S. should step in to help Ankara’s operations against Syrian and Russian forces, telling Newsweek that Washington should “be prepared to offer combat air support if Turkish forces come under air assault from any quarter.”

LEGALIZING CANNABIS LINKED TO LESS OPIOID PRESCRIPTIONS

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LEGALIZING CANNABIS LINKED TO LESS OPIOID PRESCRIPTIONS, COULD HELP COMBAT EPIDEMIC, SCIENTISTS SAY

There are less opioid prescriptions on average in U.S. states where medical and recreational marijuana are legal, research has revealed.

Access to recreational cannabis in the U.S. was tied with a 11.8 percent lower rate of opioids prescriptions each day, and 4.2 percent for medical marijuana. The authors of the paper published in the Journal of Health Economics said recreational weed laws could make it easier for patients to access the drug, and use it to treat pain and other conditions.

Both types of law also appeared to cut down the total number of patients receiving opioids, as well as the total days opioids were supplied, and the likelihood of a healthcare provider prescribing the painkillers. The study also showed family physicians gave out more opioids than any other healthcare specialty, such as dentists or nurses.

The authors looked at data on over 1.5 billion individual opioid prescriptions between 2011 and 2018, representing around 90 percent of all of this type of drug given out over the time period.

The research comes amid the opioid overdose epidemic in the U.S., which kills 130 Americans every day according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Cannabis access laws could be a useful tool in combating the prescription opioid epidemic,” the researchers wrote.

“While state governments have enacted various policies to curtail opioid prescriptions, e.g., prescription drug monitoring programs, many of these policies simply limit access to opioids and may push individuals already dependent on prescription opioids to more dangerous drugs, such as heroin,” they said.

“Thus, policies that reduce opioid prescriptions without leading individuals to substitute more dangerous drugs may be preferable to policies that simply restrict opioid prescriptions.” One option could be legalizing cannabis, the researchers argued.

Addressing concerns that cannabis may be a gateway drug which could lead users to opioids in the long-term, the team said: “While cannabis may be a gateway drug that encourages use of opioids in some patients, on balance for the population generally both recreational and medical cannabis access laws decrease opioid use.”

The researchers said the study was limited because they did not have access to data on patients because of confidentiality, meaning they couldn’t look for patterns of problematic patterns of opioid prescription. They also couldn’t examine which conditions the painkillers were given for.

The authors wrote: “While the results here do not suggest that cannabis access laws are the only tool to address prescription opioid use, they do suggest that cannabis access laws could play a meaningful role in addressing the opioid epidemic.”

Benjamin J. McMichael, assistant professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, told Newsweek: “While we expected that recreational cannabis access laws would have a stronger effect on opioid prescriptions, I would say we were surprised that the effect was so much larger than medical cannabis access laws.”

McMichael said: “This study is significant because it analyzed more data that provided more specific information than has been available in previous studies. It therefore provides more precise estimates of the effect of cannabis access laws on opioid prescriptions and controls for more potential confounding factors than prior work.

“Because this research provided insight into the effect of cannabis access laws across payers (e.g., Medicare and private insurance) and medical specialties, it can provide policymakers with specific targets in how they evaluate cannabis access laws.”

Ian Hamilton, an expert in drug use and mental health at the Department of Health Sciences at the U.K.’s University of York who did not work on the research, told Newsweek the study builds on others exploring the impact of opening up access to cannabis on opiate prescribing, but using a larger data set and more sophisticated analyses.

“The main problem with this study is that it doesn’t take into account the efforts made by many states and prescribers at reducing opiate prescriptions in light of the record numbers overdosing on opiates,” said Hamilton.

“Over the last few years awareness of inappropriate opiate prescribing has increased, so it could be that some of the reduction in opiate prescriptions is due to concern by doctors and healthcare providers rather than individuals switching to cannabis,” he argued.

Hamilton cautioned that as the awareness of cannabis products has increased in recent years, so have the claims about its health benefits—despite some being untested.

He said: “The problem with switching to cannabis is that there is very limited research so far to suggest that it is beneficial for anything other than a few minor health problems.

“That may change as evidence emerges but as it stands some people could be disappointed with the results of using cannabis and may risk their health deteriorating if they delay obtaining the right treatment,” Hamilton said.

Earlier this year, a separate team of researchers pinpointed a different way that cannabis could help tackle the opioid crisis. Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive chemical in marijuana, was found to ease the cravings and anxiety associated with giving up heroin in former addicts. It also appeared to lessen signs of stress, such as an increased heart rate and levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The findings were published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

This article has been updated with comment from Benjamin J. McMichael.

Russia Says Trump Putin Meeting Will Happen At G20

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RUSSIA DOESN’T BELIEVE DONALD TRUMP ABOUT WHY HE CANCELED PUTIN MEETING AND SAYS IT’LL HAPPEN ANYWAY

Russian government officials said President Donald Trump canceled his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Argentina because he was having trouble with the “U.S. domestic political situation.”

On Thursday, Trump announced he was canceling the meeting he had scheduled with Putin because of Russia’s refusal to release Ukrainian sailors who were detained last Sunday during a standoff between Ukrainian and Russian troops in the Kerch Strait, which separates the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov. The confrontation led caused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to declare martial law in 10 of Ukraine’s regions that are in proximity to Russian military capabilities.

But Russian officials said that the situation in Ukraine wasn’t the real reason that Trump opted to cancel the much-anticipated meeting with Putin.

“Was the provocation organized by Kiev in this region the real reason for cancellation?” Maria Zakharova, the Kremlin’s spokeswoman, asked during a press conference. “Publicly, we heard just such an explanation; we took note of it. Is this a reality?…I think that you still need to look for answers in the U.S. domestic political situation.”

gettyimages-1066356068-594x594Michael Cohen, former personal attorney to President Donald Trump, exits a New York City federal court on November 29.DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES

On Friday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, known to be Putin’s right-hand man, suggested that the two leaders would engage in a “brief and impromptu” meeting at the G20, even if an official meeting is not scheduled, according to reports.

Trump’s cancellation came just hours after Michael Cohen, the president’s former longtime lawyer and fixer,  pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about his attempts to launch a Trump Tower project in Moscow at the same time Trump was running for president. Cohen had originally testified that he had dropped the proposal in January 2016, but recently admitted that negotiations had continued until June 2016.

Cohen began cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, since he pleaded guilty in August to eight felonies. He is considered a key witness in the Mueller case and, having worked with Trump for more than a decade, could reveal many details about the inner workings of Trump’s business empire and its ties to Russia.

Trump said his longtime colleague was lying to obtain a reduced sentence, and continued to call the investigation into collusion with Russia a “witch hunt.”

Nevertheless, the Mueller investigation appears to be gaining speed since Trump submitted written answers to the investigators’ questions through his lawyers. Mueller is believed to be focusing his attention on the Trump Tower deal and connections between Trump associates and the radical transparency organization Wikileaks.

It’s possible, however, that the Russia investigation and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which is now almost in its fifth year, will derail the relationship between Trump and Putin entirely.

Donald Trump: What I am Most Thankful On Thanksgiving is: Myself

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

Donald Trump said he was most thankful for himself on Thanksgiving as he spent the holiday weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The president was on a phone call with members of the media and the military early Thursday morning when one reporter asked him what he was “most thankful for” this year.

“For having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country,” Trump responded. “I made a tremendous difference in the country. This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you won’t believe it.”

The president continued, adding, “And I mean, you see it, but so much stronger that people can’t even believe it. When I see foreign leaders, they say we cannot believe the difference in strength between the United States now and the United States two years ago. Made a lot of progress.”

His response contrasted sharply with that of his Oval Office predecessor, Barack Obama, who said on Wednesday that he was thankful for the future “generation of leaders.”

“I am grateful for the next generation of leaders—the young people who are tolerant, creative, idealistic and doing the work to create the world as it should be. Who understand that hope requires action. From the Obama family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving,” Obama posted on Twitter.

Obama’s comment came after he made a surprise appearance at a Chicago food bank, where he volunteered ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

trump/thanksgiving/phone/call/militaryPresident Donald Trump speaks to military members via teleconference from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on November 22. Trump told reporters on the call that he was most thankful for the “tremendous job” he’s doing for the country.MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

On the phone call Thursday morning, Trump also addressed American service members who were spending Thanksgiving at the southern border awaiting the arrival of the migrant caravan. The president has ordered nearly 6,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to prepare for the caravan of asylum-seekers, which Trump claimed, with no evidence, was filled with dangerous gang members, drug dealers and terrorists.

During the holiday call, Trump took the opportunity to slam the federal courts for ruling against his decisions on immigration. He directly referred to the judge who had issued a temporary restraining order blocking the White House from barring immigrants who crossed the border illegally from seeking asylum.

“It’s a terrible thing when judges take over your protective services, when they tell you how to protect your border. It’s a disgrace,” Trump said. He also gave the military permission to use lethal force along the border.

In a video message posted on Twitter, Trump gave tribute to the military members overseas, police officers, first responders and firefighters, saying: “These are brave people, these are great people, these are special people.”

Trump Now Lying About Remains Of Soldiers Being Returned From North Korea

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U.S. STILL HASN’T RECEIVED SOLDIERS’ REMAINS FROM NORTH KOREA, SAYS POMPEO

Despite President Donald Trump’s boast at a rally that he had secured the remains of U.S. troops killed during the Korean War, his secretary of state says North Korea is yet to send any.

Around 7,700 U.S. soldiers remain unaccounted for from the conflict, the majority of whom are presumed dead in North Korea. As the U.S. military moved 100 wooden coffins to the border between North and South Korea in preparation last week, Trump told a rally in Minnesota: “We got back our great fallen heroes, the remains, in fact today already 200 have been sent back.”

Speaking to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not confirm the president’s comments, when Senator Cynthia Shaheen raised the issue of the Korean War dead. Shaheen asked on behalf of charity workers who have dedicated years to repatriating the remains of U.S. soldiers missing in action.

“I am optimistic that we will begin to have two opportunities: One is to receive some remains in the not-too-distant future, but then there is a great deal of work with companies like the one you described, nonprofits,” Pompeo said. Asked if this meant that the U.S. had in fact not yet received the remains, Pompeo confirmed that was correct. “We have not yet physically received them,” he said.

RUSSIA MILITARY SAYS U.S. CEASEFIRE IS OVER IN SYRIA

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

RUSSIA MILITARY SAYS U.S. CEASEFIRE IS OVER IN SYRIA AS ISRAEL REPORTEDLY ATTACKS IRAN WEAPONS IN DAMASCUS

The Russian military’s main air force base in Syria announced on Tuesday an end to a ceasefire agreement reached with the U.S. and Jordan in southwest Syria, citing breaches by insurgent groups. The decision comes at a time when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stages a new offensive to retake one of the last rebel-held regions in the country.

The Hmeymim base, an airfield located in the west coast province of Latakia, is one of two major Russian-leased military installations in Syria, the other being a naval base about 40 miles down the coast in Tartous. Russian warplanes—likely based in Hmeymim—reportedly struck targets Monday in the southwestern province of Daraa, where Russia and Syria had agreed last year to a ceasefire with rebel groups attempting to overthrow Assad since a 2011 uprising backed by the U.S., Turkey and Gulf Arab states.

“The end of the period of reduced escalation in southern Syria can be confirmed after it was breached by extremist groups and illegitimate armed groups operating against Syrian government forces, while the agreement remains in the Syrian province of Idlib,” the Central Channel for the Hmeymim Military Base wrote on Facebook.

The base also denied reports of civilian casualties in a later message, maintaining that “Russian bombers do not target civilian sites by any means. Our missions are limited to the destruction of the terrorist bases belonging to the Nusra Front and ISIS [Islamic State militant group] terrorists, in order to support friendly land forces advancing on the ground.”

GettyImages-984308400Smoke rises above opposition-held areas of Daraa during airstrikes conducted by the Syrian military, June 26, 2018. Russia-backed Syrian troops have for weeks been preparing an offensive to retake Syria’s south, a strategic zone that borders both Jordan and the Israel-occupied Golan Heights.MOHAMAD ABAZEED/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The news, which was also reported by Saudi Arabian newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, came as elite Syrian troops stormed through southern towns and villages held by various rebel groups, including elements of the Free Syrian Army and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadi coalition recently added to the list of U.S.-recognized terrorist organizations due to its Al-Qaeda ties. Quick government gains have prompted Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to issue a series of statements calling on rebel factions to unite against the military and condemned those currently attempting to broker reconciliation deals with Damascus.

The ceasefire collapse also occurred as airstrikes reportedly struck Damascus International Airport on Tuesday. While the attack remains unclaimed, it has been widely blamed on Israel, who rarely takes responsibility for strikes against Iranian and pro-Iran targets in neighboring Syria. The U.K.-based, pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Israeli warplanes struck “a shipment of Iranian weapons” that had arrived at the airport, while Russia’s state-run Sputnik News highlighted reports claiming an Iranian cargo plane may have been the target.

Related: Iran Says ‘War’ with U.S. and Israel Is ‘Possibility’ But It Has ‘a Plan for Every Possible Threat’

The official Syrian Arab News Agency said that two Israeli missiles fell near the country’s main airport, without specifying the target. The channel connected the suspected Israeli attack to the Syrian military’s retaking of large swathes of territory in the Al-Lajat region in Daraa, where international powers have rushed to prevent an even larger escalation between Iran and Israel.

Anticipating last year’s ceasefire agreement to unravel as the Syrian military retook rebel enclaves outside the capital, the U.S. and Russia entered quiet negotiations with Jordan aimed at excluding Iranian and pro-Iran forces from taking part in the Syrian campaign. Israel considers their presence a provocation and has for years bombed military assets allegedly associated with Iran. When these forces reportedly responded to a deadly pre-emptive Israeli attack last month by launching rockets at the Israel-occupied Golan Heights, Israel retaliated with its largest aerial assault on Syria since the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

GettyImages-890107316Russian President Vladimir Putin (3r-L), his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad (4th-R), and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (L) pose with Russian air force pilots during their visit to the Russian air base in Hmeymim in the northwestern Syrian province of Latakia, December 11, 2017. Russian air support has been vital in helping the Syrian military and its allies defeat insurgents and jihadis.MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Despite their opposition to Assad, the U.S. and Jordan have stepped back their support for rebel groups as they became increasingly saturated with jihadi movements. Washington told Free Syrian Army commanders that “you should not base your decisions on the assumption or expectation of a military intervention by us” in a stern message published Saturday by Reuters. Jordan has repeatedly stated that it would not grant entry to any fighters or civilians fleeing to Syria’s southern border with the kingdom, with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi asserting “our borders will remain closed” in a tweet Tuesday.

Iran-backed groups, such as the Lebanese Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement, have reportedly pulled back from southwestern Syria as part of a recent agreement, but Iran has maintained that it would not leave Syria unless asked to do so by the local government. The latest airstrikes in Damascus, however, may indicate that the deal has fallen apart or did not preclude Israeli attacks elsewhere in the country. Last week, unclaimed airstrikes blamed on both the U.S. and Israel reportedly killed dozens—including Iraqi militias—in Syra’s far eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

Assad has welcomed both Russia and Iran as partners in the battle against insurgents and jihadis, but he has called the U.S. and Turkey to withdraw their forces immediately. Iraq, while deeply critical of U.S. and Israeli targeting of pro-Syrian government forces, has managed to maintain close relations with both the Syria-Russia-Iran axis as well as the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.

HOW DOES ISRAEL’S MILITARY COMPARE TO IRAN?

(THIS ARTICLE SI COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

HOW DOES ISRAEL’S MILITARY COMPARE TO IRAN?

Relations between Israel and Iran are at breaking point. The multinational nuclear deal signed with Iran is on the verge of collapsing—partly thanks to Israeli lobbying against it. Iranian leaders have warned that if it fails, the country will resume its uranium enrichment program, a step Israel considers a threat to its very existence.

Meanwhile, multiple Israeli strikes have sought to dislodge Iranian forces from Syria, where Tehran enjoys increasing influence. Israeli leaders are fighting hard to stop Iranian soldiers deploying along its northern border.

Though it would appear that neither nation wants a full-scale war, the potential for miscalculation and escalation remains. Both nations have considerable military clout, and any prolonged confrontation between them would be bloody.

RTS1IFO9Israeli forces are seen near a border fence between the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights and Syria, on November 4, 2017. Israel is wary of Iran’s growing influence across its northern border.REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD

Iran is a much larger country with a far higher population than Israel, but numbers alone do not dictate military capability—combat technology and experience are vital factors too. Technological capability is even more important in an era where technology is changing the way war is waged, allowing nations to hit each other harder, from further away and with less human involvement.

A small nation with a population of just 8.5 million, Israel’s military punches significantly above its weight. Formed amid a war with seven Arab neighbors, the country’s short history is punctuated with conflicts fought for its survival. This tough history combines with a burgeoning technology sphere and close relations with powerful western nations to create one of the world’s most formidable fighting forces.

According to Global Firepower, Israel has approximately 170,000 active personnel with a further 445,000 in reserve. Conscription exists for all non-Arab citizens of Israel over the age of 18, giving the country a large and well-trained pool of fighters to call up in the event of war.

Though less sophisticated than Israel, the Iranian military is a force to be reckoned with. Its large population—around 82 million—enables Tehran to maintain a standing force of around 534,000 soldiers, with a further 400,000 in reserve, making it the largest force in the Middle East.

In a drawn-out engagement, national manpower becomes an important issue. Iranian available manpower is around 47 million compared with just 3 million for Israel. Of course, how important this is will depend on the nature of any war being fought.

RTXYQI5Members of Iranian armed forces march during the Army Day parade in Tehran on April 18, 2013.REUTERS/HAMID FOROOTAN/ISNA/HANDOUT

In 2017, Israel spent $16.5 billion on its armed forces, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Iran was not far behind on $14.5 billion. Though this does not seem like a big gap, the fact that Israel is spending billions more than Iran on a smaller military indicates the gulf in the quality of equipment used.

Israel fields more tanks than Iran—2,760 compared to 1,650. Israel wins this matchup on quality as well as quantity, the latest version of its Merkava tank being one of the best and most heavily defended in the world. Iran is mostly using second-rate tanks, though it has announced the development of the new Karrar platform, which it claims will be able to compete with top-class opponents.

The Israeli air force is one of the best in the world, equipped and trained to the highest level. Its pilots are experienced too, having regularly conducted missions against targets in Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and even Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Its 250 or so fighters include a handful of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft, one of just four fifth-generation fighter planes in the world. Israel will eventually have 50 F-35s.

By contrast, Iran fields around 160 fighter jets, none of which are as advanced as the F-35. Furthermore, its pilots are less well-trained and experienced than their Israeli counterparts.

Neither nation is a significant maritime power. Iran has more than 30 submarines, five frigates, three corvettes and more than 200 patrol craft. Israel currently has five submarines, three corvettes, eight missile boats and 45 patrol boats. Considering the geography, the naval theater is unlikely to play any significant role in a potential conflict.

RTX2UPSIAn Israeli soldier sits inside a F-35 fighter jet after it landed at Nevatim air base in southern Israel on December 12, 2016.REUTERS/AMIR COHEN

In the event of an all-out war, Israel holds the nuclear trump card. Notoriously secretive about its nuclear arsenal, the country is believed to possess between 75 and 400 warheads. The weapons can be delivered using Israel’s Jericho ballistic missiles, submarine-launched cruise missiles or even fighter planes.

Iran has no nuclear capability. Even if talks break down, it will take many years before Tehran joins the nuclear club. Iran is working hard to improve its ballistic missile arsenal, already one of the most potent in the region and well-able to hit Israel.

But Iran has other tricks up its sleeves. Financial and military support for anti-Israeli militant groups across the Middle East give it an unconventional way to hit its rival in the event of conflict. The Shiite Lebanese Hezbollah group, especially, is a worry for Israeli leaders. Hezbollah has a well-trained and well-equipped military, far more powerful than the Lebanese army and able to operate freely.

Hezbollah’s experience fighting alongside regime forces in Syria has given it vital combat exposure. The group maintains a huge rocket arsenal, and its weapons can hit anywhere in Israel. Iran also provides support to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad groups in Gaza, which maintain smaller, but still significant, rocket capabilities.

Mystery Wolf-like Creature Shot and Killed In Montana Puzzles Experts

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF YAHOO NEWS AND NEWSWEEK)

 

U.S.

Mystery Wolf-like Creature Shot and Killed In Montana Puzzles Experts

 Aristos Georgiou,Newsweek 10 hours ago

CHINA SNUBS TRUMP, SAYS RUSSIA TIES BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT IN WORLD

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CHINA SNUBS TRUMP, SAYS RUSSIA TIES BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT IN WORLD

 

China’s envoy to Russia has praised the increasingly powerful relationship between the two countries as both the strongest and most important ties between two major states. Beijing’s man in Moscow also took the opportunity to offer a veiled slight at Washington.

Chinese Ambassador to Russia Li Hui spoke Wednesday at a government news conference organized in response to the results of the 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress in October. Russia and China, the two leading diplomatic and military rivals of the U.S., have pursued closer relations in past years while embarking on initiatives to modernize their forces and assume a more assertive role in international politics.

Related: U.S. and Western Europe could lose badly in a war against Russia without China’s help

“The Chinese-Russian relations of comprehensive strategic cooperation and partnership are the most important bilateral relations in the world and, moreover, the best relations between big countries,” Li told the state-run Tass Russian news agency, which hosted the gathering.

“One can say that they are a classic example of the healthiest and most mature interstate relations and an important force to protect peace and stability throughout the world,” Li added.

RTX3MLVU Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Zhang Youxia, China’s Central Military Commission vice chairman, at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, on December 7. China has described its relationship with Russia as the strongest and most important in the world, leaving out the U.S. altogether.SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS

One of the key reasons the diplomat cited as being responsible for Russia and China’s success was that they “abandon the thinking of the Cold War” and a “zero-sum game” policy. Both countries have frequently criticized the U.S. for viewing the world in black-and-white, portraying Russia and China as enemies rather than partners in global affairs.

Moscow’s post-Soviet relationship with Washington has been tumultuous but was thought to have been salvaged with the election of President Donald Trump, who promised a reset after the administration of his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, witnessed heightened tensions and historic military mobilizationsbetween U.S.-led Western military alliance NATO and Russia across Europe. Ongoing investigations into Trump’s alleged conspiracy to win the election with the help of the Kremlin and differing views between the Republican leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, have damaged the chance of a future U.S.-Russia alliance.

Russia has denied any interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential race and has portrayed efforts of U.S. authorities to produce evidence of such a plot as being reminiscent of the anti-Communist wave of the 1940s and 1950s.

Unlike Russia, China was an early and frequent target of Trump’s and his allies’ both before and after the billionaire real estate tycoon took office earlier this year. The Trump campaign accused China of currency manipulation and stealing U.S. jobs. As he prepared to assume the role of secretary of state, Rex Tillerson suggested the U.S. should potentially use military force to deny Beijing its vast territorial claims in the disputed seas of the Western Pacific.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping expanded his nation’s sphere of influence, his country has accused the U.S. of portraying this rise as a malicious one. Trump has tried to boost cooperation between the two, but mostly in regard to the nuclear crisis between the U.S. and North Korea, during which China has appeared most eager to work with Russia to reach a political framework.

RTX3LKDSChinese armed police and Russian national guards take part in a joint counterterrorism drill in Yinchuan, the capital of China’s Ningxia Hui autonomous region, on December 5. Both countries have criticized the U.S. for pursuing policies they view as destabilizing in the Middle East and contributing to a rise in extremist movements.STRINGER/REUTERS

China and Russia’s joint simulated anti-missile drills, geared at deflecting potential U.S. or North Korean missiles, on Monday were also the latest evidence of the burgeoning military cooperation between the two powers. The countries have been deeply suspicious of the U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific, and although both Beijing and Moscow share Washington’s opposition to a nuclear North Korea, they have urged Trump to pursue direct talks and avoid provocative shows of force in the tense region.

China and Russia also have joined forces against the West in other parts of the world, including in Syria, where they both backed the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against jihadist and rebels who received international support. Over the summer, Russia and China also launched their first joint drills in the Baltic Sea, near one of the tensest flash points between NATO and Russian forces in Europe.

As China and Russia empower their partnership as well as their respective militaries, the Rand Corporation noted in a report earlier this week that despite superior technology and defense spending, “U.S. forces could, under plausible assumptions, lose the next war they are called upon to fight.”

MONSTER SHARKS: FOUR FIERCE GIANTS

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MONSTER SHARKS: FOUR FIERCE GIANTS THAT RIVAL GREENLAND’S ANCIENT BEAST

Sharks have been making headlines recently after a 2016 report of a Greenland shark that was around 512 years old resurfaced this week. In November, a dinosaur-era frilled shark was on our minds. The ocean’s deadliest sharp-toothed predators are both loved and feared. They are also an incredibly diverse and successful group, appearing in the fossil records millions of years before dinosaurs and even insects.

Here are just a few of the most terrifying examples of sharks from across time.

MegalodonOnly the jaws of megalodon fossilized, but put to the scale of a great white shark, this prehistoric creature must have grown to 60 feet long.ETHAN MILLER/GETTY IMAGES

Megalodon
Carcharocles megalodon is the star of such B thrillers as Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, Megashark vs. Mechashark, and Attack of the Jurassic Shark. Before its movie days, real megalodons lived all over the world in the Miocene and Pliocene epochs.

Megalodon would have put the shark in Jaws to shame, with teeth as big as your hand and a body as long as a bowling lane. Sixty feet of shark is nothing to mess with, and it probably ate whales.

HelicoprionHelicoprion was an ancient ratfish, not a shark, but was just as scary, with a whorl of teeth like a buzz saw.WILLIAM WEST/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Helicoprion
Though not technically a shark, this shark-like ratfish had an unforgettable maw. Scientists first found this animal’s teeth in a bizarre spiral, and for years, they could only speculate as to how the teeth actually fit in its mouth.

Luckily for swimmers, it lived and died 270 million years ago.

A Thresher shark hunts fish by whipping its long tail at a school.PLOS MEDIA

Whip-Tailed Shark
Also known as a common-thresher, Zorro thresher shark, swiveltail, and slasher, this modern shark makes the list for its odd hunting style. This shark swims toward schools of fish, then at the last minute, whips its bizarrely long tail at its prey to stun or kill them.
Whale_sharkThis picture taken on August 1, 2014, shows a dead whale shark being carried on a tractor in a seafood wholesale market in Xiangzhi township in Quanzhou, east China’s Fujian province. Local fishermen caught the whale shark which they thought was a “sea monster” and reported to local police after returning from the sea, local media reported.STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Whale Shark
You would think that the largest living shark would be the most terrifying. This monster can weigh 20 tons and grow 18-32 feet long. But these wide-mouthed creatures, with spots on their backs resembling constellations in the night sky, have very small teeth and eat only plankton.
https://www.instagram.com/p/Ba2QKc5HKH4/embed/captioned/?cr=1&v=7&wp=822#%7B%22ci%22%3A0%2C%22os%22%3A1016.5950000000001%7D512-Year-Old Greenland Shark
In 2016, scientists documented the world’s oldest living vertebrate: a Greenland shark that had been alive for 512 years, give or take. While other long-lived animalshave been discovered, a shark that has lived for half of a millennium takes the cake for incredible survival skills.

11_10_Frilled_shark_head2This living fossil has remained unchanged for 80 million years.BY OPENCAGE (HTTP://OPENCAGE.INFO/PICS.E/LARGE_13408.ASP) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (HTTPS://CREATIVECOMMONS.ORG/LICENSES/BY-SA/2.5)], VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Frilled Shark
The frilled shark is even older than megalodon, having evolved 80 million years ago. But the especially concerning thing about the frilled shark is that they still exist.

Fortunately frilled sharks live deep in the ocean and aren’t known to attack humans. If they did, their rows of extremely-sharp teeth would be sure to leave a mark.

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