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Sep 26, 2017, 08:31 AM
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 on: Sep 22, 2017, 04:31 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

In Tallinn, EU energy, transport ministers discuss climate goals
Šefčovič urges member States to focus on the development of national energy and climate plans

By Kostis Geropoulos
New Euorpe

Energy and transport ministers from the European Union Member States held a joint session chaired by Commission Vice-President for Energy Union Maroš Šefčovič during their informal meeting in Tallinn where they discussed the implementation of clean energy and climate goals.

“We had a very intensive debate on the governance,” Šefčovič told a press conference on September 20 in Tallinn, standing next to EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete. “What kind of tools we have for all the proposals we put on the table, that climate goals for 2030 will really be implemented, that we will not have free riders in Europe and that all the countries would do the honest effort to achieve our results,” Šefčovič added.

He stressed that a big part of that exercise should focus on the development of national energy and climate plans. “This is something like national energy and climate strategies. How member states want to achieve the targets, want to transform their economies, what kind of steps they are ready to do. And I think that from the ministers we clearly heard that they realise how important it is but they are still a bit diverging views how ambitious they could be, what would be the best timeline,” Šefčovič said.

He praised Estonia and “quite a few other member states” for progressing the development of their strategy. “I think it would be a good signal to others and more importantly it would be a strong signal to investors to come to invest to those countries who know exactly how they want to transform their economy, how they want to develop their energy market,” he said.

Regarding the future of Energy Union agenda, Šefčovič said he hopes, “by the end of the year, the Estonian Presidency will achieve a so-called general approach, meaning approval by the member states our proposal which will allow us to start the negotiations with the European Parliament and really start the new decade under the new management and with a new legislative framework for this energy and climate transformation of European economy”.

For the second Energy Union Tour, Šefčovič met Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, Environment Minister Siim Kiisler, as well as Parliament Speaker Eiki Nestor, discussing the work of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU related to the Energy Union, including the progress on a number of legislative proposals, such as those under the Commission’s Clean Energy for All Europeans’ package.

Šefčovič also attended a high-level conference on Europe´s Future Electricity Market, with the focus on the governance of the Energy Union.

He also held an interactive discussion with students of the Tallinn University of Technology.

 on: Sep 22, 2017, 04:27 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Clues to Africa’s Mysterious Past Found in Ancient Skeletons

Carl Zimmer
SEPT. 22, 2017

It was only two years ago that researchers found the first ancient human genome in Africa: a skeleton in a cave in Ethiopia yielded DNA that turned out to be 4,500 years old.

On Thursday, an international team of scientists reported that they had recovered far older genes from bone fragments in Malawi dating back 8,100 years. The researchers also retrieved DNA from 15 other ancient people in eastern and southern Africa, and compared the genes to those of living Africans.

Their analysis, published in the journal Cell, reveals important clues to Africa’s mysterious prehistory, including details of massive migrations that shaped the populations we know today.

“There are some amazing insights that come from it,” said George Busby, a geneticist at the University of Oxford who was not involved in the new study.

Europe was the first place where scientists were able to use ancient DNA to illuminate the deep past. Huge archaeological collections in museums held DNA that, once reconstructed, shed light on the genetic prehistory of the continent as far back as 40,000 years.

Africa proved a bigger challenge. There were fewer skeletons in museums, and most searches for genetic material failed. The environment was partly to blame: DNA is more likely to survive in colder places.

“It’s been mad, watching all the advances in what we understand about European prehistory,” said Jessica C. Thompson, an archaeologist at Emory University who does field work in Malawi.

Dr. Thompson was heartened by the discovery of ancient DNA in Ethiopia in 2015. Those scientists succeeded for two reasons: The skeleton they discovered had been lying for thousands of years in a cool cave in the Ethiopian highlands, and the researchers developed new technological methods increasing the odds of finding even tiny bits of DNA.

More recently, Dr. Thompson teamed up with experts in ancient DNA and began searching for skeletons in Malawi. Much of the country comprises tropical lowlands, but it also includes high-elevation plateaus where nighttime temperatures can plunge below freezing.

Eventually she and her colleagues discovered DNA-bearing skeletons as old as 6,000 years in caves in the highlands. Other bones were discovered by archaeologists working in African countries, as well as in museum collections.

David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard Medical School and a co-author of the new study, and his colleagues analyzed DNA from 16 of these fossils, along with the one previously found in Ethiopia, comparing the genetic material to that of living people throughout Africa as well as on other continents.

This analysis allowed them to determine how living Africans descended from ancient populations, which are older in Africa than anywhere else on Earth.

“Africa is now going to be fully included in the ancient genomics revolution,” Dr. Reich said. “We’re going to be able to do a lot of things in Africa that we’ve been able to do in Europe and elsewhere.”

Africa is where our species evolved at least 300,000 years ago. Previous genetic analysis of living Africans had suggested that their ancestors began splitting into distinct groups over 200,000 years ago. Roughly 70,000 years ago some Africans moved out of Africa, becoming the ancestors of non-Africans.

In earlier studies, researchers had concluded that the hunter-gatherers who live today in the Kalahari Desert and other parts of southern Africa descend from the branch believed to be the first to have divided from other Africans.

But the new study suggests that there may be even older branches in the tree. “Something more complicated is going on,” Dr. Reich said.

Dr. Reich and his colleagues found that some people in West Africa share a unique collection of genetic variants that suggest an even deeper ancestry, raising the possibility that an earlier population of humans in West Africa diverged from rest.

“That’s quite a big new idea,” Dr. Busby said.

The new study also sheds light on exactly which Africans spread to other continents. The 4,500-year-old Ethiopian man discovered in 2015 had DNA linking him to non-Africans.

Today, only a single, small population of living Africans shares the same genetic link: Tanzanian hunter-gatherers called the Hadza.

“They’re the group of living Africans most closely related to non-Africans,” Dr. Reich said.

Once humans expanded out of Africa, there was little or no flow of genes between Africans and non-Africans for tens of thousands of years, the new study indicates.

But Dr. Reich and his colleagues discovered that a 3,100-year-old girl in Tanzania was profoundly different from the older East Africans. A third of her ancestry could be traced to early farmers in the Near East.

Previous studies of living East Africans had hinted at some Near Eastern ancestry. But the new analysis shows that people from the Near East spread into East Africa at least 3,100 years ago.

“This puts a time stamp on this connection,” said Pontus Skoglund, a postdoctoral researcher in Dr. Reich’s lab and co-author of the new study.

Near Eastern genes were also found in a skeleton from South Africa about 1,200 years old; according to the researchers, some living South Africans carry this DNA today.

In all, these genetic patterns suggest that early farmers or herders from the Near East swept down through Egypt into East Africa several thousand years ago. They then kept expanding over the centuries until their descendants reached the southern edge of the continent.

Around the same time, another expansion driven by agriculture was taking place in West Africa.

A people known as the Bantu spread from the region around present-day Cameroon and Nigeria. They left a trail of distinctive iron tools that archaeologists have used to trace their migration into southern and eastern Africa about 2,000 years ago.

Archaeologists have studied this expansion for decades to learn what happened as the Bantu arrived in other parts of the continent. The new genetic findings suggest that in some places, they may have pushed out the hunter-gatherers.

Up until 2,000 years ago, Dr. Thompson and her colleagues found, people in Malawi belonged to the same ancestral group as hunter-gatherers in southern Africa. “This was a hugely widespread population,” she said.

But something happened: Living Malawians have no genetic connection to those who lived there before. These ancient people must have disappeared virtually without descendants in Malawi.

It’s possible, Dr. Thompson said, that Bantu farmers drove hunter-gatherers out of places like Malawi. The surviving hunter-gatherers ended up in deserts and other places that weren’t good for crops and livestock.

In East Africa, the transition may not have been so stark. There, modern people can trace much of their ancestry to the Bantu, suggesting a blending of populations.

But some people also inherited a mix of other ancestries, including genes from the Near East and some from the ancient East African hunter-gatherers.

Dr. Thompson is now digging into archaeological sites for evidence of the Bantu arrival in Malawi, looking for tools, bones and perhaps even more DNA.

“We want to see if we can catch the timing of that transition and see if there was trade between the groups, or if the whole area was taken over,” she said.

Ancient DNA in skeletons from western Africa would be just as valuable; it may hold profound secrets about the early history of our species.

But it won’t be easy to find: The early archaeological record there is sparse, and there are few cold caves to search. “It is the major gap in our ancient DNA coverage,” Dr. Skoglund said.

 on: Sep 22, 2017, 04:24 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
NASA’s Osiris-Rex Spacecraft Is Headed for a Flyby With Earth

NY Times

A NASA spacecraft, Osiris-Rex, is speeding toward Earth after a year looping around the sun. On Friday afternoon, it will miss the planet by about 11,000 miles, zooming underneath our blue orb at 19,000 miles per hour, passing over Australia and Antarctica.

The near miss is deliberate.

The Earth’s gravity will fling the spacecraft upward by about six degrees so that its trajectory will match the tilt of the orbit of its destination: a small near-Earth asteroid named Bennu.

“We’re essentially stealing a bit of the Earth’s momentum as we go by,” said Michael Moreau, who leads Osiris-Rex’s navigation team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

As a consequence, Earth’s tilt will change ever so slightly, too small to be worth calculating. “It would be a very small number,” Dr. Moreau said.

Osiris-Rex — a shortening of Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, and Security, Regolith Explorer — was launched last year and circled the sun, returning for Friday’s flyby. It is to arrive at Bennu in about a year. The asteroid periodically crosses Earth’s orbit, and there’s even a 1-in-2,700 chance that it could hit Earth between 2175 and 2196.

Scientists believe that Bennu, a dark asteroid about 500 yards in diameter, is full of carbon-rich molecules dating back to the birth of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago. Those molecules might have been the ingredients that led to life on Earth. Osiris-Rex will attempt to collect a few pounds of rock and dirt from Bennu by gently bouncing off the surface like a pogo stick and collecting material that it disturbs with a burst of nitrogen gas. It will bring the samples back to Earth in 2023 for closer study.

For the flyby, there is no chance that Osiris-Rex, about the size of an S.U.V., will veer off course and slam into Earth. Spacecraft navigators have become adept at using precise flybys as slingshots to steer spacecraft through the solar system. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, for example, added nearly 9,000 miles per hour to its speed with a Jupiter flyby in 2007, shortening its travel time to Pluto (It still took another eight years to get there).

On Sept. 2, the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona spotted NASA’s Osiris-Rex spacecraft as it approached Earth. That was the first time the asteroid-chasing probe has been seen from Earth since it launched last year. Large Binocular Telescope Observatory

Dr. Moreau said Osiris-Rex will pass within a kilometer of the targeted spot above Earth. The timing is precise too, within a few tenths of a second. It will make its closest approach to Earth at 12:52 p.m. Eastern time on Friday.

Dr. Moreau said his team will face larger navigational challenges once Osiris-Rex gets to Bennu in 2018. “It’s the smallest object that has ever been orbited by a spacecraft,” he said. “And that’s exciting.”
Multimedia Feature: NASA Launches the Osiris-Rex Spacecraft to Asteroid Bennu

The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft spent a couple of years exploring Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, a comet about 2.5 miles wide. Bennu is about one-eighth that diameter, and Osiris-Rex will come within a kilometer of the center of Bennu, Dr. Moreau said.

“We are much closer to the object than Rosetta was,” he said. “It means a lot of the errors in your estimation of the trajectory and navigation are less forgiving.”

With gravity near the asteroid so slight, the navigators need to keep track of even very minute forces, including heat from the spacecraft radiators and the momentum imparted by particles of light hitting the solar panels.

For Friday, the Osiris-Rex team is encouraging amateurs to photograph the passing spacecraft and share the images on the mission website.

The Desert Fireball Network, a project based at Curtin University in Perth, Australia, will use high-end digital single lens reflex cameras to photograph Osiris-Rex from different angles. Usually, the project tracks meteors burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

This time, the different angles will allow scientists to reconstruct the three-dimensional path that Osiris-Rex took as it swung by.

 on: Sep 22, 2017, 04:20 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Sea Turtles Appear to Be Bouncing Back Around the World

SEPT. 22, 2017
NY Times

On this planet, so many plants and animals are disappearing that scientists worry we’re experiencing a sixth mass extinction. Many of these organisms are taking hits from a variety of angles — habitat loss, climate change and more — that it’s hard to get a grasp on how to stop their declines. Conservation success stories are rare.

But sea turtles may be an exception, according to an comprehensive analysis of global sea turtle abundance published Wednesday in Science Advances.

Antonios Mazaris, an ecologist at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and a team of international researchers found that globally, most populations of sea turtles are bouncing back after historical declines. Their research helps clarify why some conservation and research groups have reported both increases and decreases for individual nesting sites over the past decade.

The Grand Sea Turtle Experiment on Padre Island

Every year, National Park Service employees release an average 17,000 Kemp’s ridley sea turtle hatchlings into the sea. You might be able to catch a release this week.

Dr. Mazaris and his colleagues analyzed existing public data of sea turtle nesting sites around the world over time periods ranging from six to 47 years. They standardized individual data sets and evaluated each site separately and then combined them into regional populations to look at changes. Even small populations, which normally have a tough time recovering, are capable of being restored, they found.   

But they also learned that some sea turtles are still declining — like leatherbacks in the Eastern and Western Pacific. Their findings support assessments made by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which lists six of seven species as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.

In contrast with some other at-risk species, perhaps sea turtles have been easier to manage because their threats are more tangible: They are accidentally trapped by fishermen or harvested by others as delicacies, aphrodisiacs or decoration. In the most extreme cases, like in Tortuguero, Costa Rica, nearly all female green turtles at one point had been exported for turtle soup.

But conservation efforts there dating back to the 1950s made an impact, and protecting beaches, regulating fishing and establishing marine protected areas have helped save turtles in many locations. This isn’t often the case in conservation stories of animals, like endangered caribou, which face threats that are more difficult to manage.

But to truly know how well conservation is working, the researchers found, it’s best to look at long-term trends (although short-term data has its uses). That’s because most sea turtle species only nest when foraging is good, and from year to year, the number of nests found on a beach can vary dramatically. Detecting whether a juvenile sea turtle survives long enough to make babies can take 10 to 30 years while it matures.

They were surprised to find that with adequate protection, even small populations of turtles have a chance of survival. In an area called French Frigate Shoals in Hawaii, for example, green sea turtles increased nest numbers from around 200 in 1973, when the Endangered Species Act was signed, to around 2,000 in 2012. This species is now considered of “least concern,” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Yet research is still lacking. For all sea turtles, most male to female ratios are unknown, which is an important aspect of reproduction and appears to be altered with increasing sand temperatures, skewing births toward more females. And a huge initiative to collect more data on flatback turtles in and around Australia may be complicated by a recent announcement that the country will shrink its marine protected areas.

Dr. Mazaris said his paper is a tale of “cautionary optimism.” He commends conservationists working to save turtles over the past 70 years, but “long term efforts need to be supported.”

 on: Sep 22, 2017, 04:17 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Sexual rivals can influence the size of a duck’s penis

by Brian Galloway
Red Orbit

Odds are, most people haven’t spent a lot of time pondering the specifics of duck penises, but a researcher from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts has spent more than a decade investigating their genitalia and has published a new study detailing her findings.

As study author Patricia Brennan, a visiting lecturer of biological sciences at the institution, told National Geographic earlier this week, she didn’t even realize until near the end of her graduate school work that birds could even have penises. In fact, 97% of them do not, she explained.
Male ducks are one of the exceptions, and unlike most species, they grow a new one each year. Most of the time, they are hidden, but you can convince a duck into showing you his by turning him over onto his back and applying pressure to his belly, Brennan noted. “If you know exactly where to press, you can pop the penis out. They’re quite cooperative.”

The topic of her latest research, however, involves investigating the factors into what determines the size of a duck’s penis – which interestingly enough, is corkscrew shaped, Brennan explained. Specifically, she wanted to see whether or not competition with other males would cause a duck to grow a larger penis than those facing less – ahem – stiff competition from rivals.

Trying to ‘sneak in some copulations’ before the group leader

As Brennan and her colleagues reported in the journal The Auk: Ornithological Advances, they gathered two different types of ducks with two vastly different mating systems (ruddy ducks and lesser scaups) and split them into either pairs or groups of five females and eight males.

Ruddy ducks, she explained, are highly promiscuous, usually copulate by force, never naturally form pair bonds and tend to have larger penises, the researchers explained in a statement. Lesser scaups, on the other hand, do tend to form seasonal pair bonds, typically have small penises and are far less likely to try to force themselves onto females.

All of the ducks were kept in outdoor aviaries during the breeding season over a two year span, and the study authors found that, as expected, lesser scaups tended to have longer average penis length when they were housed in larger groups containing multiple other males.

However, things were a little more complex with the ruddy ducks, as a significant number of males failed to reach sexual maturity until year two of the experiment. Once they did, those in groups grew their penis more quickly, but the timing of penis growth varied from duck to duck and only one alpha male maintained his reproductive organ for an extended period of time.

“Everybody else grows a penis very quickly,” Brennan told Nat Geo, “trying to sneak in some copulations before the [dominant] male starts beating them up.” Once they did so, their penises quickly returned to a non-reproductive state, making the ruddy duck one of the rare species that modifies its genitalia in response to its social environment.

 on: Sep 21, 2017, 12:29 PM 
Started by Cantewasake - Last post by Cantewasake
Hola Gonzalo, buen día.

Creo que lo escribí mal, me refería a si había algún motivo para que fuese así la dinámica en la carta, de que un planeta este en determinado signo regido por una casa, pero dicho planeta este en otra casa.
(plutón en casa XII regida por libra pero plutón en escorpio rigiendo casa I.
ó el Sol en géminis , géminis rigiendo casa VIII pero el sol este en casa VII )

Una pregunta sobre Quirón, en la carta representa por casa y signo la más grande herida? por así decirlo, y a la vez el camino para sanarla?
por ejemplo, al estar en casa VIII de escorpio tendría que ver con sentimientos de rechazo, sentirse indigno, etc? y quizá alguna terapia para sanar esos sentimientos sea terapia de Rebirthing ?

Y otra pregunta, la casa IV y X, la IV tiene que ver con la figura materna y X con la paterna, es así? en algunos he leído al revés, que en casa X se vive la experiencia de la madre y IV del padre, y de pronto no me ha quedado claro.

GraCias Gonzalo,
muchas bendiciones.

 on: Sep 21, 2017, 05:44 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Germany's general election: all you need to know

Vote on 24 September will decide if Merkel gets a fourth term as chancellor which, with Macron in France, could usher in far-reaching EU reform

by Jon Henley

Germany goes to the polls on 24 September in national elections that will return a new parliament – the Bundestag – and decide whether Angela Merkel remains chancellor for a fourth consecutive term.

Comfortably re-elected in 2013 and the leader of Europe’s largest economy since 2005, “Mutti” or “mummy” Merkel is seen as the ultimate safe pair of hands at home, and as a uniquely powerful stabilising force on the continent – at a time when world political nerves are jangling.

Boosted by a steady economic recovery and alarming developments abroad, in particular the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election in the US, her popularity has bounced back after dipping during the 2015 migration crisis.

Hopes in Europe are now high that a Merkel victory – her CDU (Christian Democrat Union) party has a double-digit lead in the polls – could, with France’s reformist president, Emmanuel Macron now installed in the Élysée, usher in far-reaching, and necessary, EU reform.

Which parties are standing and how are they faring?

The CDU, with its Bavarian sister the Christian Social Union (CSU), is Germany’s main centre-right party and heads the outgoing coalition government. Led by Merkel, it is popular mostly among older, rural, conservative and Christian voters, and is currently polling at an average of 37%.

The Social Democratic party (SPD) is the country’s main centre-left party and the junior partner in the outgoing CDU-led coalition. Strong mainly in industrial western Germany, the party is led by the former European parliament president Martin Schulz, whose return from Brussels sparked an initial surge in support that has now subsided. The party lost a traditional stronghold, North Rhine-Westphalia, in a regional election in May, and is heading for 22-23% of the vote.

Four smaller parties should cross the 5% threshold (though remember, even if they fail they can still end up with seats if they win district contests). Die Linke is a more radical leftwing party formed in 2007. Strongest in the former East Germany, it has never been part of a governing coalition at national level and is currently the largest opposition party. It looks likely to win about 10%.

The free-enterprise, pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) have spent more time in government than any other party, but failed to enter parliament in 2013 for the first time. Now thriving under a new leader, Christian Lindner, they are polling at around 9%. The Greens still find support in west Germany’s university cities but, on 8%, are not the force they were in the early 2000s, when they governed with the SDP.

Finally the nationalist, Eurosceptic Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – which welcomed both Brexit and Trump – looks likely to enter the Bundestag for the first time in its four-year history. The anti-immigration, anti-Islam party is now represented in every German state in parliament and, while it has been hit by infighting and seen its support fall from 15% at the height of the refugee crisis, is still polling at 110-11% and could, in the event of a repeat CDU-SDP coalition, be the largest opposition party.

How does the system work (and who elects the chancellor)?

Germany’s recently amended electoral system, combining direct and proportional representation, is fiendishly complicated. Its 61.5 million voters get two votes on a single ballot paper: the first for a local representative, the second for a party.

Roughly half the Bundestag’s seats are guaranteed to go to the 299 representatives of the country’s electoral districts, each chosen by their constituents with their Erststimme, or first vote, in a straight first-past-the-post contest.

The rest are allocated according to the national vote share won by every party that clears a 5% threshold in the second vote, or Zweitstimme – which is also used to determine the overall number of seats each party winds up with: if a party scores 25% of the national vote, it must get 25% of the seats.

Sometimes parties return more Erststimme representatives than they are entitled to, according to the Zweitstimme. So to compensate, the other parties get extra seats – which means the Bundestag, theoretically made up of 598 representatives, could expand to as many as 800 (it currently has 631).

Once a governing coalition has been formed, which can take up to a month, Germany’s president (a largely ceremonial role) nominates the chancellor – usually the leader of the largest party – who is confirmed by parliament in a secret ballot.

What are the big issues and party platforms?

Broadly trusted and respected on the economy and as a world leader, Merkel’s unexpectedly liberal open-door policy towards refugees and migrants, which led to about 900,000 newcomers arriving in 2015, cost her the support of part of her CDU base (though it appealed to some younger voters).

Along with immigration, security is also a theme after a series of terror attacks, including the Berlin Christmas market truck attack that killed 12 people. But with her popularity now restored, Merkel’s campaign is about not rocking the boat.

Her CDU has promised tax cuts and full employment by 2025, while the SPD is focused on wealth distribution and social justice (it also opposes a promised increase in defence spending to the Nato target of 2% of GDP, which the CDU backs).

Die Linke wants tougher market regulation and a higher minimum wage; the FDP is promising tax cuts and a push for greater EU integration; and the AfD is mostly about preserving “traditional” German culture and anti-immigration measures, including immediate deportation for failed asylum-seekers.

What might the government look like?

Given the choice, the CDU’s favoured coalition partner would be the FDP – a return to the “Black-Yellow coalition” that ruled Germany for 16 years under Helmut Kohl. But polls suggest that alliance may fall short of a majority.

An alternative could be a Black-Green coalition – though that, too, looks unlikely to get to 50%, and has proved shortlived when tried at state level. That could clear the way for a Black-Yellow-Green (known as “Jamaica”) coalition of the CDU, FDP and Greens, which has worked at municipal and state level but would demand huge concessions from the Greens nationally.

If the CDU fares much worse than expected and the SPD much better, possible centre-left coalitions include Red-Red-Green (SPD, Die Linke and the Greens – the alliance now governing Berlin), or a Red-Yellow-Green “traffic light” alliance of SPD, FDP and Greens. Both are considered difficult given the parties’ differences.

For obvious political reasons, both the CDU and SPD would much prefer to govern in coalition with one or more smaller parties. Germany’s voters, however, may well mandate another “grand coalition” uniting the country’s two biggest parties in what amounts to a marriage of necessity.

All other parties have so far ruled out working with AfD.

 on: Sep 21, 2017, 05:41 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Mueller's Russia team reportedly seeks White House records on Trump actions

Investigation appears to enter new phase amid reports of request for documents related to Trump’s most controversial actions since taking office

Lauren Gambino and Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington
Thursday 21 September 2017 00.11 BST

The special counsel Robert Mueller has asked the White House to provide documents related to Donald Trump’s most controversial actions since taking office in January, according to two reports on Wednesday.

The inquiry from Mueller’s team, who is leading the investigation into whether Trump associates coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election, suggests that the investigation is moving into a new phase, inching closer to the president.

According to anonymous White House officials, the New York Times reported, Mueller’s team sought more information related to 13 areas, including the circumstances around the firing of Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and of the FBI director, James Comey.

The team is also interested in an Oval Office meeting between Trump and Russian officials in May, a day after he fired Comey. During that meeting, Trump reportedly told Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the United States, that Comey’s dismissal had relieved “great pressure” on him.

The Washington Post confirmed the request had been made to the White House, and reported that Mueller had also requested that the White House turn over documents related to the FBI interview of Flynn in January, days after Trump took office. They are also interested in a late January conversation in which Sally Yates, then the acting attorney general, raised concerns about Flynn with the White House counsel, Don McGahn. Additionally, they are looking at how the White House responded to a Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr and a Russian lawyer in June 2016.

The list of actions by the president and his close associates that Mueller’s team is reportedly scrutinizing suggests that investigators are looking at whether Trump sought to shut down the investigation into Flynn. Mueller’s team is also examining whether Trump or others in the White House attempted to obstruct justice when the president fired Comey, who had been leading the Russia investigation until his dismissal.

The Washington Post also reported that Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, offered to provide briefings on the state of the election to a Russian billionaire with links to the Kremlin. Citing people familiar with the discussions, the Post report said Manafort had made the offer in an email to an intermediary, whom he asked to relay the message to Oleg Deripaska, an aluminum magnate with whom Manafort had done business.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort reportedly wrote in an email from 7 July 2016, which was read to the Washington Post along with other correspondence from that time.

The story said that the emails were among tens of thousands of documents turned over to Mueller’s team and congressional investigators as part of the inquiry into Russian meddling in the US election.
Late-night on Trump and Russia: 'Why can't Don Jr pick one lie and stick to it?'
Read more

There have been several indications that Mueller’s investigation is not simply escalating, but also increasing its scrutiny on how the Trump White House has handled matters pertaining to Russia.

Donald Trump Jr’s meeting at Trump Tower in July 2016 with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya has emerged as a pivotal moment for both the federal inquiry as well as parallel investigations in Congress. According to emails released to the public in July, he was informed prior to the meeting of an effort by the Russian government to help elect his father. Trump’s eldest son also suggested he was open to accepting incriminating information about Hillary Clinton from Moscow.

Earlier this month, the special counsel’s team reportedly sought interviews with White House staffers who were aboard Air Force Once in July, when the president himself helped to craft a highly misleading statement about the nature of his son’s meeting. The statement initially claimed Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with Veselnitskaya, which was also attended by Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was to discuss a policy banning Americans from adopting Russian children.

In August, Mueller convened a grand jury in Washington through which subpoenas were issued in relation to the June 2016 meeting. The FBI also used a search warrant to carry out a raid of Manafort’s home in late July to seize documents relevant to the Russia investigation.


Maddow untangles Trump’s Russia web all the way back to the ‘unsexy’ RNC convention

Noor Al-Sibai
Raw Story
20 Sep 2017 at 22:59 ET                  

On Wednesday night’s installment of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the MSNBC host recounted how “dogged reporting on an unsexy topic” like the Republican National Convention “can sometimes start to uncover the small edge of something that eventually crescendos into the biggest political scandal in a generation.”

Last summer, Maddow noted, the Washington Post published an article on a noteworthy but not salacious occurrence at the RNC in Cleveland — that then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign reversed the party’s “anti-Russia stance on Ukraine.” In that piece, writer Josh Rogin noted that “campaign chairman Paul Manafort had in fact worked as lobbyist for Russian-backed former president of Ukraine for more than a decade.”

Less than a month later, in August 2016, the New York Times published revelations that Manafort’s name appeared in a Ukranian party’s “secret ledger of off-the-books payments” as someone owed $12.7 million. Maddow noted that four days late, a Politico profile about “Manfort’s man in Kiev” which delved deeper into the campaign manager’s dealings in Ukraine, was published. The day after the Politico piece was published, Manafort resigned.

The revelations continued — the now-infamous drip, drip, drip of information about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia — but didn’t pick up speed until March of 2017, when reporter Ken Vogel reported that the former campaign manager dealt with his agent in Ukraine while working for Trump.

After recounting more of the many news breaks that have taken place since the leaky hose of the Manafort-Russia connection started spewing, Maddow noted how the story went from a “small ball report” on a “non-consequential political oddity” at the RNC to news that broke today — that Manafort offered up “private briefings” to a Kremlin-linked Russian oligarch when heading the campaign.

Watch Maddow uncover the Manafort links stone-by-stone below, via MSNBC.

Part 1: https://vid.me/wpkrz

Part 2: https://vid.me/BGp7X


Ex-CIA chief stuns Nicole Wallace: It’s ‘absolutely’ possible Russia ‘dispatched Manafort to the Trump campaign’

Noor Al-Sibai
Raw Story
20 Sep 2017 at 19:55 ET                  

As headlines surrounding former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, a former defense and intelligence official raised the possibility that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be investigating how he joined the campaign in the first place.

“It’s possible that Russia actually sent and dispatched Paul Manafort to the Trump campaign,” Jeremy Bash, who formerly served as chief of staff for the Defense Department and the CIA, told MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace. “Or at least that once Paul Manafort attached himself to the Trump campaign, the Russians said, okay, now our agent is inside.”

The Kremlin, Bash argued, might have “manipulated the campaign not just through propaganda…but also through agents of influence.”

“Wait wait wait,” Wallace said. “Are you saying it’s possible that [Mueller] wants to find out if Manafort was a Russian plant?”

“Absolutely,” he replied. “They’re going to want to know if there were ties between Paul Manafort and Russia, whether they were financial or otherwise, that caused him to in effect do Russia’s bidding.”

The investigation may look into whether Manafort, liked fired national security adviser Mike Flynn, worked on behalf of the Russians “wittingly or unwittingly” within the Trump campaign.

“The ultimate question,” he continued, “is whether or not Trump himself knew about it…and once he found out that the bureau was investigating them, why did he try to shut down that investigation?”

Watch Bash outline the reasons Manafort may be a Russian plant below, via MSNBC: https://vid.me/HOeHF


Manafort offered Russian oligarch with ties to the Kremlin ‘private briefings’ on status of Trump campaign: report

Elizabeth Preza
Raw Story
20 Sep 2017 at 17:19 ET                  

Former Donald Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort offered to give “private briefings” on the status of the election to a Russian billionaire with ties to the Kremlin, the Washington Post reports.

Manafort, who’s home was raided earlier this summer by federal investigators probing the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russian operatives, reportedly offered to brief Basic Element founder Oleg Deripaska through an intermediary less than two weeks before Trump accepted the Republican nomination.

“If he needs private briefings we can accommodate,” Manafort wrote on July 7, 2016.

Investigators–who’ve reviewed the correspondences as part of the trove of documents turned over to Special Counsel Robert Mueller and multiple Congressional panels–believe they represent a “potential opening for Russian interests at the highest level of a U.S. presidential campaign,” the Post reports.


Morning Joe warns GOP to stop lying about ‘inhumane’ health care bill: ‘You think I’m a son of a b*tch?’

Travis Gettys
Raw Strory
21 Sep 2017 at 07:48 ET                   

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough hammered his Republican friends for lying about the “inhumane” health care bill they’re trying to pass quickly and with almost no debate.

The “Morning Joe” host said the bill has almost no support outside the GOP quarters on Capitol Hill, and he said Republican lawmakers have been misleading the public about its catastrophic effects.

“I don’t understand how they think they will get away with that, and how some of my friends — and they are friends, that’s why it hurts so much — are getting on TV and lying every day to the American people, lying through their teeth about what’s in that bill and what’s not in this bill,” Scarborough said.

Scarborough said the Graham-Cassidy bill appears to be close to passing, when the U.S. Senate votes by the end of next week — but he warned GOP lawmakers of a looming electoral disaster if it does.

“That’s insanity — nobody knows what’s in this bill,” he said. “What’s so stunning about this, I’ll just say this, what is so inhumane about this is, there are people who depend on Medicaid, on the sort of health care that we are talking about, about the guarantees that have been given, that are going to be stripped away.”

Scarborough called on GOP lawmakers to debate the bill on its merits and stop trying to hide it under the cover of lies.

“Have that process, have those hearings, let the senators, let the congressmen hear who is going to be hurt by the bill, instead of just seeing this in stories six months after a bill passes,” he said. “I promise you, Republicans, you’re the ones that are going to pay in the end. You think I’m being a son of a bitch right now? No, you should listen to me. What you’re doing is radical, and you will end up paying horribly in the end. I don’t know what pressure you think you are under right now (but) wait until you go back to your voters supporting this bill. It’s inhumane.”

 on: Sep 21, 2017, 05:31 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Three people held in Brazil on suspicion of British kayaker's murder

Police investigating disappearance of Emma Kelty, 43, say they have arrested two 17-year-olds and another man are looking for four others

Nicola Slawson in London and Dom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

Three people have been arrested over the murder of a British woman who went missing in Brazil while kayaking alone from the source of the Amazon to the Atlantic.

Emma Kelty, a 43-year-old primary school headteacher, was last heard from when she triggered a distress signal last Wednesday while in a notoriously dangerous area.

In a statement, police in the state capital Manaus said they had arrested one 17-year-old male on Monday in Codajás, 150 miles (240km) away, and a second 17-year-old on Tuesday in Lauro Sodré, where Kelty was killed. That Amazon community lies two hours from the town of Coari, where police arrested the third man, who has been named as Erinei Ferreira da Silva. They are also seeking four other suspects.

“People knew she had disappeared and indicated possible authors of her disappearance,” José Afonso Barradas Júnior, chief detective in Coari, told the Guardian.

The first arrested teenager told police Kelty was camped on Boieiro Island, which faces Lauro Sodré, when two people approached her. Five others then arrived and the group stole her belongings. She was shot twice with a sawn-off, 20 calibre shotgun and her body thrown in the river.

According to the teenager, the group then tried to sell her two mobile phones, a tablet computer and a GoPro camera in local communities.

Residents of Lauro Sodré reported having seen Kelty sail past the community in her canoe while still alive. Fire officers and the Brazilian navy are continuing to search for her body and have searched the area where it was allegedly thrown.

Kelty, from Finchley in north-west London, resigned as head of Knollmead primary school in Surbiton before going travelling and had kayaked on her own for 42 days of the 4,000-mile trip when she went missing.

She is believed to have pitched her tent before she set off her emergency locator flare last Wednesday, alerting the Brazilian navy. A massive search operation involving 60 people, including expert deep divers scouring the riverbed, was launched. On Friday, her abandoned kayak and belongings were found between Coari and Codajás.

River pirates are known to operate in the area. Local media reported two men were arrested in July after carrying out pirate attacks around Lauro Sodré and nearby communities.

“This region is a problematic region for pirates,” Barradas Júnior said. “It is a region that has pirates, they do robberies, and it is a disputed region because there are a lot of drugs coming from Colombia.” He said pirates had been known to attack Colombian and Peruvian drug traffickers, steal their supplies and throw their bodies in the river.

A struggle between rival Brazilian drug gangs to control the lucrative drug trade flowing down the Solimões river was blamed for a massacre in which 56 people were murdered in a prison in Manaus, capital of the state of Amazonas, on New Year’s Day. Dozens more were killed in reprisal attacks.

The remote stretch of the Solimões where Kelty is thought to have gone missing is the same section where police chief Thyago Garcez disappeared in December last year, after he and other police officers got into a firefight with drugs traffickers. His body has never been found.

The Foreign Office confirmed it was supporting the family of a woman who had died in Brazil and said it was in contact with the Brazilian authorities.

The family of the adventurer said they were “extremely proud” of her, in a statement released by the Foreign Office.

Kelty’s brothers Piers and Giles and her sister Natasha said their “active and determined sister” had recently challenged herself with adventures on the Pacific Coast Trail in the US, as well as in the South Pole and finally the Amazon river.

“In a world that is today a much smaller place, the explorer in our sister found herself seeking ways to prove that challenges were achievable,” the statement said. “We are extremely proud of our sister who was dearly loved by us all and her strength will be sorely missed.”

Posting on Facebook days before she disappeared, Kelty joked about a warning she had been given about the stretch of river she was about to enter. In the post written on 10 September, she said: “So in or near Coari 100km away I will have my boat stolen and I will be killed too. Nice.”

On 12 September she said she was “in the clear” followed by a smiley-face emoji. But a few hours later she posted a message about an encounter she had had on her journey: “Turned corner and found 50 guys in motor boats with arrows!!! My face must have been a picture!! (Town was uber quiet... too quiet!!) all go ...

“OK 30 guys ... but either way ... that’s a lot of folks in one area in boats with arrow and rifles.”

The British consulate provided the navy with details about the missing Briton last Thursday. Frigate captain of the 9th naval district, Paulo Veiga, added: “A distress flare was triggered by the British traveller, but we could not locate where it had been fired from via GPS.

“Local people in the area where the sportswoman’s vessel was found said they saw a woman on the river but they couldn’t tell what direction she was going in.

“We started our search last Thursday and there is no forecast end to how long we will look for the missing woman ... We are focusing on the Solimões river.”

Olie Hunter Smart, an explorer who completed a similar route in 2015, met Kelty before her trip to help her plan for the journey.

He said: “The Emma that I met was an incredibly brave and courageous person who lived life to the full. My thoughts go out to her close friends and family at this very sad time.”

In 2010, British journalist Helen Skelton travelled more than 2,000 miles along the Amazon river in around six weeks. But she did not make the journey alone and was followed by a support boat for her safety.

Kelty was no stranger to solo adventures. She had previously skied solo to the south pole, becoming only the sixth woman to achieve the feat and had also completed a 2,600-mile hike on her own across the US, among other challenges.

In the blog she writes: “My outside adventures were the yang to my work but in so many ways it mirrored it too.

“I always saw this as my sanctuary away from a very demanding and focused career that spanned across the education system from preschool to further education, special education, learning BSL and becoming a headteacher (another life dream).”


Leader of gang suspected of murdering British kayaker in Brazil is killed

Evanilson Gomes da Costa, leader of ‘Water Rats’ gang, died in hospital of gunshot wounds, says suspect arrested over death of Emma Kelty

Dom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

One of the leaders of the gang of river pirates who robbed and murdered a British kayaker in the Amazon has been killed, Brazilian police have said.

Evanilson Gomes da Costa, known as Baia, 24, was shot in the early hours and later died of his wounds in hospital, according to a statement by one of the suspects, who said the dead man had fired shots at former primary school headteacher Emma Kelty.

Kelty, 43, was canoeing alone from the source of the Amazon to the Atlantic when she went missing in the Solimões area, as the upper stretches of the river are known. The area is notorious for its pirates and drug trade.

She triggered a distress signal last Wednesday, but despite an extensive search by Brazilian police and navy, her body has not yet been found. Kelty knew she was heading into a dangerous area and even joked on her Facebook about the risks she faced.

Kelty is believed to have pitched her tent on Boieiro island, facing the remote community of Lauro Sodré, before she set off her locator flare last Wednesday. A suspect arrested on Monday in Codajás said Kelty was approached by two people. Five others arrived and the group stole her belongings.

She was shot twice with a sawn-off shotgun and dumped in the river before the gang stole her mobile phones, money, a drone, a tablet and GoPro camera and tried to sell them, according to the suspect. Police named him on Wednesday as Jardel Pinheiro Gomes, known as Kael, and corrected his age to 19, not 17 as he had previously claimed.

An unnamed 17-year-old was also arrested as well as a third man, named as Erinei Ferreira da Silva, 28.

Police were hunting four further suspects, including Gomes, but learned on Wednesday that he had been hit by gunfire inside his house in Coari, a city around two hours from Lauro Sodré where Kelty is believed to have been murdered.

“According to investigations, people supposedly linked to the drug trade in the area were named as responsible for the execution of the offender, who was 24. He was rescued, taken to a hospital in the municipality, but succumbed to his injuries and died around 8.30am today,” police said in a statement. Gomes was one of the leaders of the ‘Water Pirates’ or ‘Water Rats’, a gang who stole merchandise, killed people and were connected to the drug trade, the police statement said.

José Barradas Júnior, chief detective in Coari, told the Guardian he believed da Costa was killed by rival gangsters for the possessions his gang had taken from Kelty and before dying named the man who shot him.

Barradas Júnior said one of the investigating officers had told him that locals reported seeing Kelty pass by in her kayak hours before she was killed. They had tried to warn her of the danger she could be in and offered their houses for her to sleep in for safety, but she did not understand.

“Neither she nor they could communicate. They were trying to tell her the risk she was running,” he said.

He said Gomes da Costa and his accomplice Arthur Gomes da Silva, known as Beira, were two of the leaders of the Water Rats.

A third man, one of three police are still searching for, acted as a lookout, advising them if anyone was camping nearby. Arthur Gomes da Silva is still at large, as are two others, named as Erimar and Nilson Ferreira da Silva, both brothers of Erinei.

According to the testimony, Gomes da Costa and da Silva approached Kelty’s tent and shot her with a shotgun, wounding her. When she shouted in pain, they assumed she was Peruvian and possibly carrying drugs.

Barradas Júnior said: “They are used to robbing Peruvians on the river, they have already done this with other foreigners who passed there, generally strangers who carry drugs.”

Wounded, yet conscious Kelty was shot again dragged to the river and attacked with a machete, then “they threw her in the middle of the river, which is the deepest part”.

Barradas Júnior said the authorities should warn other Britons planning to visit the Amazon to travel in organised groups, and not alone – especially in the Solimões river area, which is a major trafficking route for drugs from Peru and Colombia that are heading to Europe.

On Wednesday Kelty’s brothers Piers and Giles and her sister Tash posted a tribute on her Facebook. It said: “Emma was an active and determined sister who challenged herself, latterly through her adventures on the Pacific Coast Trail, as well as in the South Pole and Amazon River.

“In a world that is today a much smaller place, the explorer in our sister found herself seeking ways to prove that challenges were achievable. We are extremely proud of our sister who was dearly loved by us all and her strength will be sorely missed. We wish to give our immense thanks to the Brazilian navy, police and Foreign Office for their action and support,” they wrote, adding links to three charities Kelty had been fundraising for: Cancer Research UK, Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Teach Africa.

 on: Sep 21, 2017, 05:27 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Iran has publicly hanged a man for the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl

21 Sep 2017 at 06:25 ET     

Iranian authorities hanged a man in public on Wednesday after he was found guilty of raping and murdering a seven-year-old girl in a case that has caused uproar in the Islamic Republic.

The 42-year-old man, Esmail Jafarzadeh, allegedly confessed to the brutal murder after the body of the girl, Atena Aslani, was found in the garage of his house. She disappeared on June 19 when she was separated from her father, a market vendor.

The case provoked the anger of Iranians on social media and Jafarzadeh was killed in front of a cheering crowd in a square in the northwestern town of Parsabad, Ardebil Province, according to AFP news agency.

Prosecutor in Ardebil, Naser Atabati, said the execution took place in public “to restore citizens’ sense of security and relieve their troubled minds.” The public prosecutor in Parsabad, Abdollah Tabatabayi, also said the suspect confessed to another woman, that of a woman who disappeared two years ago and whose body has never been found.

The case became so high-profile in the country that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani even intervened, calling it “horrendous” and demanded that justice be handed to the perpetrator. Tried in late August, Jafarzadeh was quickly convicted by the Supreme Court on September 11.

Executions have been on the rise in the Islamic Republic, which despite not providing official figures of the number carried out in the country has regularly found itself in the top five countries for executions in the world, according to rights groups.

In 2015, they rose to almost 1,000, according to United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Iran Ahmed Shaheed. That figure was a two-fold increase on executions in Iran for 2010. Amnesty International said it was the highest number executed for almost two decades. In 1989, more than 1,500 people were executed.

Many of those executed are done so for drug-related offenses, but other crimes such as murder and rape are punishable by death. Iran has also executed people for homosexuality.

Human Rights Watch warned in January that there had been an “alarming trend” of rising executions across the Middle East. Kuwait hanged several people in January, including a member of the royal family, the first since 2013. Jordan ended an eight-year moratorium in December 2014, executing 11 people. Bahrain executed three people in January after ending a six-year moratorium.

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