Monthly Archives: December 2015

Austrian police warn of a possible terror attack between Christmas and New Year

Police in Vienna has stepped up security following a warning about a potential terror attack employing explosives or firearms between the Christmas and New Year holidays. According to police, the warning was issued to several European capitals.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Austrian police said that the warning came from an unidentified “friendly intelligence service” just days before Christmas, offering mostly general information about the possible attacks without specifying potential targets or exact dates.

It added that “several possible names of potential attackers were mentioned, who were checked and the investigation based on (these checks) has so far yielded no concrete results.”

“We do not know if these people exist in real life, or if they are only names with no real person behind them. We have no evidence that they are in Vienna, and we have no evidence that they are even in Europe,” Christoph Poelzl, a spokesman for Vienna police, said as quoted by the Guardian.

Poelzl refused to give any further details concerning the terror warning as he did not reveal the list of European capitals mentioned in the warning.

In the view of the warning, Vienna authorities said that no public events would be canceled but police surveillance will increase in the places expected to attract large numbers of people during the specific period.

Police will also pay closer attention to suspicious bags.

Meanwhile, France remains on high alert since Paris attacks in November. Last week, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve ordered police and security forces to be especially watchful during festive church services.

 

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Christmas Miracle: British Couple Cloned their Dog 12 Days After its Death

A couple from North Yorkshire, England, paid $100,000 to South Korean scientists to clone their dog almost two weeks after it died, an unprecedented procedure heralding the next phase in bio-technology.

Getting a puppy for Christmas is usually an old story but not for Laura Jacques and Richard Remde who received a brand new cloned boxer called Chance on December, 25.

The story prompted unbelievable public outrage as the canine was recreated from the DNA of Remde’s old b

oxer Dylan which died 12 days before the successful samples were taken. Usually, the cloning procedure requires samples from a living or just recently deceased dog.

The 8-year-old Dylan died of a heart attack caused by an inoperable brain tumor a half year ago.

While wallowing in her sorrow, Jacques, 29, watched a documentary movie about Rebecca Smith who cloned her dog. Jacques immediately shared the story with her partner saying that could be a way for them to have Dylan around again.

“I didn’t know how I would be able to cope [without Dylan],” Jacques told the UK’s Telegraph. “I thought I would have to throw myself off a bridge or something.”

That prompted 43-year-old Remde to, the very next day, go to South Korea, where he handed over Dylan’s DNA samples to Sooam labs, widely known for successfully cloning 700 dogs.

The high hopes for reunification were dashed when it didn’t work out the first time but they didn’t give up and travelled once again with a biopsy from the dog’s abdomen.

“This is the first case we have had where cells have been taken from a dead dog after a very long time,” David Kim, a scientist at Sooam, told The Guardian. “Hopefully it will allow us to extend the time after death that we can take cells for cloning.”

Dylan’s DNA gave “birth” two little ones. Chance was cloned by one surrogate on Friday, while the second surrogate is still pregnant with the second pup, Shadow, which the couple also plans to adopt, adding to their four dogs and 11 other animals.

“It is a controversial topic and there will be people who don’t agree with it but there will be loads of people that would love to be able to do it,” said Jacques.

When Chance joined his new family, Jacques couldn’t help but talk about the pup’s resemblance with Dylan.

“I can’t believe how much he looks like Dylan,” added Jacques. “All the colorings and patterns on his body are in exactly the same places as Dylan had them.”

Dylan’s remains have still been kept in the animal-loving couple’s freezer at their house in Skipton as they plan to bury them in a newly renovated garden.

The standard cloning of a pet requires a sample from the abdomen or cheek that is transmitted into a culture with the animal’s DNA and then put in a surrogate dog’s unfertilized eggs. Nine weeks later you have a little clone.

Syrian army destroys leader of “Syrian Revolutionaries Front” in Damascus province

The Syrian army has destroyed the leader of the “Syrian Revolutionaries Front” Mohammed al-Masaalm, Syrian Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Ali Maihub said on Sunday.

Maihub told journalists that al-Masaalm was killed in the province of Damascus. “A large number of terrorists were destroyed, including the leader of the so-called ‘Syrian Revolutionaries Front’ Mohammed al-Masaalm,” he said.

“The Syrian army destroyed armored vehicles with terrorists and three vehicles equipped with heavy machine guns to the south of the Al-Manchiya district in the city of Daraa, and delivered strikes at terrorist groups in a refugee camp to the south of the Busra Square, to the south of a boy’s school, to the south of the Energy Company building, along the road of Daraa-Mahapta,” Maihub added.

US Police Fatally Shot Almost 1,000 Civilians in 2015 – Report

US law enforcement has mortally wounded nearly 1,000 civilians this year, according to a recent study by local media.

Some 965 US citizens were fatally shot by US policemen, 564 of whom were armed with a gun, The Washington Post study published Saturday revealed.

According to the newspaper, almost 100 people did not have weapon of any kind during a confrontation with police.

The study also suggested that race remains one of the main reasons of police brutality, as 40 percent of fatal police shootings were aimed at unarmed black men.

Overall, people who died from a bullet fired by policemen were either bearing arms, suicidal, mentally troubled, or refused to halt at police’s request and ran, the report said.

Over the past year, the United States has seen numerous protests following high-profile cases of police brutality around the country. The incidents have set off mass protests around the country and triggered a national debate about racial inequality and police violence in African-American communities.

 

Iraqi Army Captures Daesh Leader in Ramadi – Reports

Iraqi soldiers have detained one of the leaders of the Islamic State jihadist group, in the Iraq’s Ramadi, local media reported.

The identity of the leader of Daesh militants has not been disclosed, Sky News Arabia reported Saturday.

On Tuesday, Iraqi troops launched an offensive in Anbar against the Daesh jihadists. The main aim of the offensive is to liberate Ramadi, the biggest city of the province, from the militants.

Daesh, which is outlawed in Russia and many other countries, has seized large areas in Syria and Iraq and declared a caliphate on territories under its control. The group is currently considered to be one of the main threats to global security.

Daech : la France va-t-elle aussi intervenir en Libye ?

La nécessité de contenir l’EI en Libye est désormais jugée urgente. Paris prépare les plans d’une intervention et tente de mettre sur pied une coalition internationale.

Quand, comment, engager le fer contre Daech en Libye? Et qui, pour se lancer dans ce combat que l’on présente désormais à Paris comme nécessaire et urgent? Si l’état-major des armées (EMA) reste logiquement fort discret sur les plans de campagne qui s’élaborent à Balard, les pistes existent pour tenter d’esquisser des réponses plausibles à cette série de questions.

L’horizon temporel, en premier lieu, s’est précisé au cours des dernières semaines. Pour éradiquer le «cancer Daech et ses métastases libyennes», une action militaire est jugée indispensable à l’horizon de six mois, voire avant le printemps, entend-on à la Défense.

Des vols de reconnaissance ont corroboré la poussée de Daech, depuis les rivages de Syrte, vers les sites pétroliers et la zone des trafics transfrontaliers du Sud. L’extension des zones contrôlées par l’État islamique, à quelques centaines de kilomètres des côtes de l’Europe, le «basculement» en Libye de djihadistes venus du Levant, mais aussi du Yémen et du Soudan, la menace de Touaregs et de tribus du Sud, constituent aussi des paramètres de cette équation complexe – et devenue une priorité. D’où les encouragements prodigués par Paris au nouvel envoyé spécial de l’ONU, Martin Kobler, et à l’entente des parties libyennes. À charge pour celles-ci de mener ensuite la lutte contre Daech, grâce aux pays qui proposeront leurs troupes. Une autre hypothèse ne peut être exclue, euphémise-t-on à l’Hôtel de Brienne: faute d’un accord politique entre Libyens, la France «poursuivrait son travail» pour mettre sur pied une coalition militaire.

 

Daesh Leader’s Mobile Phone Holds Proof of Turkey’s Support

An Iraqi volunteer force commander said a mobile phone found on the person of a deceased Daesh militant proves that Turkey’s intelligence agency is providing support for the group.

“The mobile phone was found with one of the killed ISIL leaders in the Northern parts of Salahuddin province two days ago,” Jabbar al-Ma’mouri told Soumeriya news on Monday.

He said the phone contains messages from Turkish intelligence proving that Ankara supports Daesh, also known as ISIL/Islamic State, by providing security at the points used by militants traveling from Turkey to Iraq.

“The mobile phone also contains other important information which cannot be disclosed now, and it has been delivered to the specialized security groups for further scrutiny,” Ma’mouri said.

Russian Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov in November revealed that Turkey has played an “ambiguous” role in the campaign against Daesh while acting as an accomplice to the terrorist group’s activities.

Last month, former US State Department senior advisor David Phillips said Turkey provided material support to Daesh because Ankara shares an ideological connection with the group, along with a mutual enemy in Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“Turkey’s role has not been ambiguous – it has overtly supported the ISIL,” said Phillips, who currently serves as director of Columbia University’s Peace-building and Rights Program. “It has provided logistical support, money, weapons, transport and healthcare to wounded warriors.”

Phillips said Turkey has been supporting Daesh to remove Assad from power and because of a “spiritual bond” that exists between Turkey’s governing party and the jihadists.

Chinese FM: Downing of Russian Su-24 bomber in anti-ISIS op in Syria undermines intl efforts

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong asks journalists for questions during a news conference in Beijing

The downing of the Russian Su-24 bomber over Syria while carrying out anti-terrorist operations is a great loss to the international efforts in the fight against terrorism, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. “We have taken note that the downed Russian plane was fulfilling a mission… It was downed while destroying terrorist targets in Syrian territory,” Hong Lei said

Late last month, China said the downing of the Russian jet-fighter by Turkey needed to be “further clarified.”

“China is deeply concerned about this issue,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told a press briefing when asked to comment, according to Xinhua.

Hong Lei said: “China supports all international efforts on anti-terrorism,” adding that Beijing wants more communication between those involved.

Last week, Moscow started analyzing the Su-24’s flight recorder. It was opened live in front of international experts and journalists during a press conference. The Russian military has invited experts from 14 nations to work on the black box, but only China and British experts have so far agreed to take part, Lieutenant General Sergey Dronov, deputy commander of the Russian Air and Space Forces, told the media on Friday.

On November 24, a Turkish F-16 downed a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber, killing one pilot and seriously straining relations between Moscow and Ankara. Turkey refused to apologize, insisting the Russian warplane had violated its airspace and had been warned many times before the F-16 fired its air-to-air missile. The Russian military has repeatedly stated the aircraft was shot down over Syria and that the Turkish fighter jet attacked from behind.

In the wake of the incident, Moscow introduced multiple sanctions against Ankara, banning agricultural trade with Turkey, reintroducing a visa regime and suspending most bilateral economic projects.

Source: Chinese FM: Downing of Russian Su-24 bomber in anti-ISIS op in Syria undermines intl efforts — RT News

This is the End: Outer Space Comets Could Destroy Humanity

Astronomers warn that a threat from outer space is more possible than expected, and the sudden end of humanity may be caused not by climate change or space rocks regularly sailing by the Earth, but by a random escapee from the huge distant space bodies orbiting in the Oort Cloud, far beyond Neptune, currently the most distant planet from our Sun.

Centaurs, massive space rocks orbiting on the outskirts of our Solar System, could be very hazardous to the Earth, a group of astronomers said Tuesday, as reported by Phys.org.

These space bodies, composed of ice and dust, and being up to some 50-100 kilometers wide, were discovered several decades ago. Astronomers state that centaurs should be counted as a greater threat than comets, as the “assessment of the extraterrestrial impact risk, based solely on near-Earth asteroid counts, underestimates its nature and magnitude.”

Bill Napier, an astronomer from the University of Buckingham, said that scientists have been thoroughly analyzing the possibility of a collision between the Earth and asteroids for the last 30 years, and have included distant celestial bodies, including centaurs.

“If we are right, then these distant comets could be a serious hazard, and it’s time to understand them better,” Napier claimed.

The centaurs’ orbits, believed to be extremely unstable, cross inside the orbits of enormous gas giants like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, about once every 40,000-100,000 years. When it happens, scientists say, the planets’ powerful gravity fields can deflect the centaurs toward the Sun.

On their way to the Sun asteroids begin to fracture, ultimately turning into cometary debris which makes “impacts on our planet inevitable.” Individual centaurs, they point out, can have an estimated mass higher than that of all the comets documented to date.

“The disintegration of such giant comets would produce intermittent but prolonged periods of bombardment lasting up to 100,000 years,” researchers wrote in Astronomy and Geophysics, the journal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

If comet debris enters the Earth’s atmosphere, astronomers suggest, it would cause a heavy meteor shower and trigger dramatic climate change, threatening life on the planet.

“A centaur arrival carries the risk of injecting, into the atmosphere… a mass of dust and smoke comparable to that assumed in nuclear winter studies,” scientists said.

Under that scenario, humanity would follow in the footsteps of dinosaurs, believed to have died out as a result of an asteroid strike. And despite that there is no proof that a collision is imminent, “its ranking among natural existential risks [for humanity] appears to be high,” some astronomers suggested.

Iraqi troops start attack to recapture Ramadi from ISIS

The Iraqi Army has launched an attack to recapture the center of Ramadi from Islamic State terrorists, a counter-terrorism spokesman, Sabah Al-Numani has told Reuters. The government forces lost control of the city in May.

“Our forces are advancing toward the government complex in the center of Ramadi,” Al-Numani said, as cited by Reuters. “The fighting is in the neighborhoods around the complex, with support from the air force.”

Ramadi is a key urban settlement in the country and is the capital of the western Anbar province.

On Monday, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) militants were reported to prevent civilians from leaving the city as they anticipated an attack.

“There is intelligence information from inside the city that they [Islamic State] are preventing families from leaving; they plan to use them as human shields,” Naseer Nuri, a spokesman for the Iraqi Defense Ministry, was quoted as saying by Reuters. Nuri’s remarks indicate the Iraqi military may have gained intelligence from several families that managed to escape Ramadi.

An unnamed Iraqi Army chief also said on Monday that an attack to liberate the city was imminent.

“The operation to free Ramadi will begin in the coming hours,” the official was cited as saying in a headline on screen. No further details were given, and the officer was not identified by name, Reuters reported.

Iraqi intelligence believes there are between 250 and 300 IS terrorists in the center of Ramadi.

Iraqi government forces lost control of the city in May, despite significant US aerial support. Immediately after its fall, Danny Makki, of the Syrian youth movement in the UK spoke to RT and said it could take over a decade to win back control of Ramadi.

“Ramadi is an area nearing Anbar which is of such significant nature to ISIS. They focus a lot of their efforts and strategic planning on taking this particular city in what is a very large defeat for the Iraqi government and for the anti-ISIS coalition led by the US. If the US was truly fighting ISIS as with many other Arab countries and world countries, Ramadi wouldn’t have fallen because it is such a significant city with such an importance on the Iraqi battlefield,” he said.