‘Operational pause’: Pentagon freezes anti-ISIS battle in Syria amid Turkish offensive

On January 20, Turkey, with the help of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), launched Operation Olive Branch, a massive cross-border operation to clear Kurdish militias and remnants of jihadist fighters from Afrin, Syria. For over a month, the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the backbone of which is formed by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), have split their efforts between battling the Turkish incursion and supporting the US agenda in northern Syria.

On Monday, the Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning acknowledged that the Turkish offensive had affected the US-led fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists on the ground, effectively leading to an “operational pause.”

Ground operations against Islamic State in the Euphrates River Valley have been temporarily suspended, Manning told reporters, stressing, however, that US airstrikes in the area are continuing.

“It is an extraordinary situation because you have US proxy army in Syria, i.e. the Kurds, have departed the battlefield that the US has them on to go fight a US ally, a NATO ally Turkey,” Daniel McAdams, the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute, told RT.

“Some fighters operating within the SDF have decided to leave operations in the middle Euphrates river valley to fight elsewhere, possibly in Afrin,” Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, another Pentagon spokesman, admitted on Monday. “They’re not fighting ISIS anymore, and that basically meant that they’re not taking territory back from ISIS as quickly as they had been in the past.”

The Turkish operation in Afrin has strained relations between the US and its major NATO ally. Ankara considers the Kurdish militias to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been outlawed in Turkey as a terrorist organization. Turkey has long been anxious about the autonomy ambitions of the Kurds, who seized control of vast territories in northern Syria with the help of the Pentagon. Tensions have continued to rise since the US announced the plan to sponsor the creation of a 30,000-strong border security force, half of which would be recruited from Kurdish-led forces.

Despite Ankara’s objections, Washington remains committed to using the SDF to secure their objectives in Syria. “The nature of our mission in Syria has not changed,” Manning said on Monday, reaffirming that SDF remains a “major partner” on the ground in Syria.

The Syrian government has repeatedly condemned the Turkish operation as yet another violation of the country’s sovereignty, following years of “aggression” against the Syrian people by the US-led coalition. Further complicating the situation in the area, pro-Damascus militias were also been deployed to Afrin late last month after an appeal from the Kurds to reinforce locals in their resistance against the Turks.

“What is the US doing in Eastern Syria if it is not fighting ISIS?” McAdams asked, questioning Washington’s stated goals. “Does the US hope that the Syrian government gets further drawn into the fight with the Kurds against Turks? Then the US can swing back around and help its Turkish ally in fighting the Syrian government and Kurds as well?”

According to Ankara, at least 2,795 “terrorists” have been killed as a result of Operation Olive Branch. Turkey aims to create a 30 kilometer (19 mile) “safe zone” in northern Syria’s Afrin province. The operation continues as planned, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag noted on Monday, after Ankara rejected a February 24 United Nations Security Council resolution demanding a full month-long ceasefire across Syria. According to Turkey, the FSA has “liberated” 147 locations including three town centers, 112 villages, 30 strategic mountains and hills and two YPG bases so far.

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منبع مطلب : https://www.rt.com/news/420557-pentagon-syria-operational-pause/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS

Another Republican senator to resign, setting up November election that could further expose party divisions

Republican Senator Thad Cochran has announced he will resign on April 1, setting up another election in November that could further expose divisions in the Republican Party.

Mr Cochran’s resignation only complicates matters for Republicans in what’s expected to be a dramatic and vicious battle for control of the US Senate and House of Representatives this year.

The 80-year-old is one of the longest-serving senators in US history. He has been dealing with health problems in recent months and was absent for several weeks in the Senate last fall as he recuperated from a urinary tract infection. 

“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge,” Mr Cochran said in a statement. “I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle, after which I will formally retire from the US Senate.” He is currently chairman of the Appropriations Committee, a powerful panel with jurisdiction over government spending. 

In November, Democrats only need a net gain of two seats to win a majority in the 100-member upper chamber. Meanwhile, the party needs a net gain of 24 to retake control of the 435-member House.

Significant losses of seats could further impede President Donald Trump’s agenda, which has already struggled under the slim Republican majority in the Senate. 

Mississippi will now have two Senate seats up for grabs, with the special election for Mr Cochran’s seat being held on the same day as the regularly scheduled midterms.

But the tough races may come well before November. Hard-right conservative Chris McDaniel, who lost to Mr Cochran in a nasty 2014 primary, announced last week that he would run against incumbent Republican Senator Roger Wicker. 

On Monday, Mr MrDaniel did not rule out switching to running for Mr Cochran’s seat. 

“I am currently focused on my campaign against Roger Wicker, but all options remain on the table as we determine the best way to ensure that Mississippi elects conservatives to the United States Senate,” Mr McDaniel said.

The conservative firebrand represents possibly one of the last chances for ex-White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon to see the fruit of his efforts to wage war against the Republican establishment.

So far, Mr Bannon has been unsuccessful. In last year’s Alabama Senate special election, Mr Bannon backed Roy Moore, whose campaign was upended after the evangelical voter favourite was accused of sexual misconduct. Mr Moore vehemently denied the allegations. 

The conservative state ultimately ended up electing Democrat Doug Jones to the Senate, making him Alabama’s first Democratic US senator in more than 25 years. 

منبع مطلب : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/thad-cochran-november-midterms-election-republican-steve-bannon-trump-a8241511.html

More U.S. kids landing in ICU from opioids

MONDAY, March 5, 2018 — A growing number of U.S. kids are ending up in the intensive care unit after overdosing on prescription painkillers or other opioids, a new study finds.

Researchers found that between 2004 and 2015, the number of children and teens admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit for an opioid overdose nearly doubled. That included teenagers who’d abused the drugs, and young children who’d accidentally gotten hold of them.

“These admissions are entirely preventable,” said lead researcher Dr. Jason Kane, of the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. “These kids shouldn’t be there.”

The findings, reported online March 5 in the journal Pediatrics, offer the latest look at the U.S. opioid epidemic.

An estimated 2.4 million Americans have an opioid use disorder, according to federal estimates. That includes abuse of prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin, as well as illegal drugs like heroin.

But while the focus is usually on adults, children have become “the second wave of victims,” Kane said.

One recent study found that a growing number of children and teenagers are showing up in emergency rooms dependent on opioids. In 2013, roughly 135 kids per day were testing positive for opioid dependence in the nation’s ERs, according to the study.

The new study looked at pediatric intensive care unit (ICU) admissions, which would capture the most serious overdose cases. Some kids landed there in respiratory distress, in need of a ventilator, Kane said. Others needed medications to raise their blood pressure from dangerously low levels.

The findings are based on records from 31 U.S. children’s hospitals. Between 2004 and 2015, there were more than 3,600 children and teenagers admitted to the hospital for an opioid overdose — and 43 percent of them had to be taken the ICU.

In contrast, the study found, only 12 percent of children hospitalized for any reason had to be admitted to the ICU.

Over time, ICU admissions for opioids rose: from 367 kids for the years 2004-2007, to 643 between 2012 and 2015. Most were teenagers, but about one-third were children younger than 6 — who would have accidentally gotten their hands on someone’s medication, Kane said.

Close to 2 percent of children who overdosed ultimately died.

The findings highlight another tragic side of the nation’s opioid epidemic crisis, Kane said: “Almost 2 percent of these kids died of a completely preventable illness.”

The findings also point to a drain on health care resources, he added. “There are only about 4,000 pediatric ICU beds nationwide,” Kane said.

His team found that over time, the cost of care for each child actually dipped — from over $6,200, to over $4,500. “Pediatric ICUs have found a way to care for them at less cost,” Kane said.

But, he added, since the sheer number of kids needing care rose, the overall financial burden increased.

Dr. Sheryl Ryan is chief of adolescent medicine at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

“This epidemic is not limited to adults,” said Ryan, who wrote an editorial published with the study.

What can parents do? Ryan said that when they have legitimate prescriptions for opioids, they need to keep the medication out of the sight and reach of young children.

In one study finding, it turned out that about one-fifth of young children who landed in the ICU had ingested methadone. Methadone can be a drug of abuse, but it’s also legitimately prescribed to treat opioid dependence.

So, Ryan said, it is important for providers who prescribe methadone to talk with patients about safely using the medication at home.

But parents of older kids also need to keep a watchful eye over any prescription opioids, Ryan stressed. For instance, they could use a “lockbox” to store the medication, she said.

And parents should never hang on to any extra painkiller pills — but dispose of them appropriately, Ryan advised. In some communities, she noted, police departments have drug take-back programs where people can take their unused opioid prescriptions.

More generally, Ryan said, it’s vital for parents to look at their own behavior. If your kids see you inebriated after too much alcohol, she noted, that can send a message that substance abuse is acceptable.

Parents should also start talking to their kids about substance abuse early on, Ryan said — around the ages of 8 to 10.

“I think parents often underestimate the power of communicating their values to their kids,” she said. “But it’s so important.”

More information

For advice on protecting kids from opioid misuse, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

منبع مطلب : https://www.upi.com/Health_News/2018/03/05/More-US-kids-landing-in-ICU-from-opioids/3961520306497/

Former Russian spy critically ill in UK ‘after exposure to substance’

One of the two people critically ill in a Salisbury hospital after “suspected exposure to an unknown substance” is a Russian man who was exchanged in a high-profile “spy swap” in 2010, the Guardian understands.

Sergei Skripal, 66, was one of four Russians exchanged for 10 deep cover “sleeper” agents planted by Moscow in the US.

Wiltshire police said that a man in his 60s and a woman in her 30s were found unconscious on a bench in the Maltings shopping centre in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon.

Temporary assistant chief constable Craig Holden said that the pair were believed to have been known to each other and were in a critical condition. He added: “This has not been declared as a counter-terrorism incident and we would urge people not to speculate.

“However, I must emphasise that we retain an open mind and we will continue to review this position.”

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Who is Sergei Skripal?

Sergei Skripal is a former Russian army colonel convicted of passing the identities of Moscow agents working undercover in Europe to MI6 in 2006. He arrived in the UK as part of a high-profile spy swap in 2010.

Skripal was sentenced to 13 years in jail for spying for Britain in August 2006 in Russia after being convicted of “high treason in the form of espionage”. Russian prosecutors said he had been paid $100,000 by MI6 for information, which he had been supplying since the 1990s when he was a serving officer. 

In July 2010, the then Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, pardoned Skripal and the former colonel was one of four spies exchanged for 10 deep cover “sleeper” agents planted in the US by Moscow, including Anna Chapman, the daughter of a Russian diplomat who became the most recognisable of the group after her former husband sold photographs to the press detailing her social life and travels. 

Skripal and another Russian were flown to the UK after the exchange and were debriefed by MI5 and MI6 officers. It was assumed that Skripal had since been given a new identity, a home and a pension.

A passerby, Freya Church, saw the pair at the shopping centre. She told the BBC: “On the bench there was a couple – an older guy and a younger girl. She was leant in on him. It looked like she’d passed out. He was doing some strange hand movements, looking up to the sky. I felt anxious, like I should step in but they looked so out of it. They looked like they had been taking something quite strong.”

Zizzi restaurant on Castle Street in the city centre has been closed in connection with the incident “as a precaution” while the investigation continues, police said.

“Public Health England are aware of this and have reiterated that, based on the evidence to date, there is no known risk to the public’s health. However, as a precaution they have advised that if you feel ill contact the NHS on 111 … [or] 999.”

A police van was outside Skripal’s home in Salisbury on Monday night. James Puttock, a neighbour, said that he had lived in the area for more than seven years. He was “very quiet”, he said. “If I see him in the street I say hello. Police have been here since Sunday afternoon. They’re in the house asking questions now.”

Puttock, 47, added: “He [Skripal] said hello if he walked past, and seemed like a nice chap. When he moved in he invited us all over for a housewarming party – I imagine he invited the whole street.

“He had been here for quite a while. People came and went from the house but I didn’t pay much attention.

“He was always walking past, but he did sometimes drive his BMW 3 Series. He never really looked smart, he looked very casual.”

A police van outside of the house of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.



A police van outside of the house of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal. Photograph: Caroline Bannock for the Guardian

The sudden and unexplained illness will invite comparisons with the poisoning in 2006 of another Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, whose death sparked a major international incident.

Skripal is a former Russian army colonel who was convicted of passing the identities of Russian agents working undercover in Europe to MI6 in 2006. He arrived in the UK as part of a high-profile spy swap in 2010.

He was sentenced in August 2006 in Russia to 13 years in jail for spying for Britain after being convicted of “high treason in the form of espionage”. Russian prosecutors said he had been paid $100,000 (£72,000) by MI6 for information he had been supplying since the 1990s when he was a serving officer.

He was flown to the UK as part of an exchange that involved the notorious group of deep cover “sleeper” agents planted by Russia in the US, which included Anna Chapman, a diplomat’s daughter, being taken to Moscow.

It had been assumed that Skripal had been given a new identity, home, and pension. However, Land Registry documents show his house was registered in his real name and was bought for £260,000 with no mortgage on 12 August 2011, just over a year after the spy swap.

Igor Sutyagin, who was swapped at the same time as Skripal and is now in the UK, said it was too early to tell whether Skripal was the victim of foul play. “We don’t know. It’s all hypothetical,” he told the Guardian.

But Sutyagin said the Kremlin’s view of defectors was clear. “Vladimir Putin was once asked what type of people populate the world. He said traitors and enemies. I was told once by a Russian diplomat in London that Putin compared me to Judas. That is their attitude.”

Sutyagin said he had chatted with Skripal for several hours when they were flown to Austria in 2010 as part of the spy swap. “He talked about his family. It seemed to me it was his family which was his major joy.” They didn’t keep in touch, Sutyagin said, adding that Skripal’s career profile suggested he had served abroad undercover as an officer with military intelligence.

Earlier on Monday there were suggestions that fentanyl, a synthetic opioid many times stronger than heroin, which can be fatal in small doses, may have been involved in the incident.

Litvinenko – a former officer with the FSB spy agency – fell ill in November 2006 after drinking a cup of tea laced with radioactive polonium. He met his killers in a ground-floor bar of the Millennium hotel in Mayfair, central London.

The pair were Andrei Lugovoi – a former KGB officer turned businessman, who is now a deputy in Russia’s state Duma – and Dmitry Kovtun, a childhood friend of Lugovoi’s from a Soviet military family.

Litvinenko’s murder caused international scandal and led to years of estrangement between Moscow and London. Putin denied all involvement and refused to extradite either of the killers from Moscow.

A public inquiry in 2015 and 2016 heard five months of evidence, including secret submissions from UK spy agencies. Its chairman, Sir Robert Owen, concluded that the FSB had murdered Litvinenko, assigning Lugovoi and Kovtun to carry out the mission.

Owen also ruled that Putin had “probably approved” the operation, together with the FSB’s then chief Nikolai Patrushev.

Alex Goldfarb, a friend of Litvinenko who helped him escape Russia in 2000, said the Skripal case was suggestive of a Russian plot.

“What’s interesting now is that this happens just before Russia’s presidential election,” he said. “Putin awarded Lugovoi a state honour and made him a national hero. He apparently sees positive electoral gain from this kind of activity.

Goldfarb added: “Russia is a nationalistic country where state-run propaganda portrays the UK as the enemy and people like Skripal as traitors.”

Some in Russia suggested the Salisbury incident was a British attempt to discredit Putin, who is all but certain to win a new six-year term of office at this month’s ballot.

“The Anglo-Saxons have arranged Litvinenko 2.0 ahead of the elections,” Alexander Kots, a journalist for the pro-Kremlin Komsolskaya Pravda newspaper, wrote on Twitter.

Asked for a comment on the story, a spokesman for the Russian embassy said: “Neither relatives nor legal representatives of the said person, nor the British authorities have addressed the embassy in this regard.”

منبع مطلب : https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/05/salisbury-incident-critically-ill-man-is-former-russian-spy-sergei-skripal

Kim Jong-un wants to ‘write new history’ with South Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said he wants to “vigorously advance” relations with South Korea, telling a visiting delegation from Seoul he hoped to “write a new history of national reunification”.

Kim made the comments during a two-day trip by the delegation led by Chung Eui-yong, the head of the South’s national security office. The officials are the most senior South Koreans to meet Kim since he came to power in 2011 after the death of his father.

“He … made an exchange of in-depth views on the issues for easing the acute military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and activating the versatile dialogue, contact, cooperation and exchange,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported.

“He repeatedly clarified that it is our consistent and principled stand and his firm will to vigorously advance the north-south relations and write a new history of national reunification by the concerted efforts of our nation to be proud of in the world.”

South Korean envoy delegation meets North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at Kobangsan Guesthouse in Pyongyang, North Korea.



South Korean envoy delegation meets North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at Kobangsan Guesthouse in Pyongyang, North Korea. Photograph: South Korean Presidential Office Handout/EPA

It was not clear what a “satisfactory agreement” meant and despite a standing invitation for Moon to visit Pyongyang, no date has been set. The two sides have remained in a technical state of war since the end of the 1950-53 Korean war.

The visit follows two months of easing tensions with North Korea and is the first of its kind since Moon’s liberal government was sworn in last year. The officials delivered a letter from Moon and Kim issued orders for “practical steps” to be taken, KCNA said without giving details.

Kim and his wife also personally hosted a dinner for the group at the Workers’ party headquarters, the first time South Korean officials have visited the building, according to Seoul’s presidential office. Kim’s younger sister and close advisor Kim Yo-jong also attended the meal, which lasted more than four hours.

A photo of Kim posing with five members of the South Korean delegation was splashed across the front page of the Rodong Shinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers’ party.

Before leaving for Pyongyang, Chung said he would stress the need to “denuclearise the Korean Peninsula” and said he would encourage direct dialogue between North Korea and the US.

While Pyongyang has repeatedly announced it is ready to talk to US officials, president Donald Trump has so far resisted those overtures. Washington has continued its “maximum pressure” campaign, and on Monday announced a new round of largely symbolic sanctions over the North’s use of chemical weapons.

The US has said any talks must centre on North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile program, while Pyongyang views the weapons as necessary for its survival.

منبع مطلب : https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/06/north-korea-says-kim-jong-un-keen-for-vigorous-efforts-to-calm-military-tensions

Former Trump aide says president ‘may have done something illegal’

In a pair of extraordinary interviews on Monday, former Donald Trump aide Sam Nunberg said he would defy a grand jury subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller but also said the president “may have done something” illegal.

Speaking first to the Washington Post and then on MSNBC, Nunberg vowed to defy Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 US election and alleged collusion between Trump aides and Moscow.

Mueller has indicted 13 Russians and four former Trump aides, three of whom have entered plea deals involving co-operation.

Nunberg, however, said he would tear up his subpoena live on Bloomberg TV.

He also told MSNBC host Katy Tur, the author of a bestselling book on the Trump campaign, that he thought the candidate “may have done something” illegal during the election.

He added: “I don’t know that for sure.”

Nunberg, a protégé of veteran political operative Roger Stone, was Trump’s political adviser prior to the start of his White House run.

He was fired in August 2015, over racially charged Facebook posts, after he and Stone lost a internal power struggle with then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

Sam Nunberg.



Sam Nunberg. Photograph: CNN/screen shot

Nunberg was sued by Trump on the eve of the 2016 Republican convention, for allegedly leaking information about Lewandowski’s relationship with close Trump aide and future White House communications director Hope Hicks. However, Nunberg has remained close to many in Trump’s orbit.

Speaking to the Post, Nunberg dared Mueller to act if he refused to appear before a grand jury on Friday.

“Let him arrest me,” he said.

Speaking to MSNBC, Nunberg said: “I think it would be funny if they arrested me.”

Nunberg told Tur he would not co-operate with Mueller, saying: “It’s a witch hunt and I’m not going to cooperate.

“Why do I have to spend 80 hours going over my email? That I’ve had with Steve Bannon and Roger Stone? Why does Bob Mueller need to see my emails when I send Roger and Steve clips and we talk about how much we hate people?”

Nunberg also said that had Trump not won the Republican primary, “he was probably going to endorse Hillary Clinton”.

He also showed the Post a copy of what appeared to be his subpoena, the newspaper reported, which included a list of names of those about whom the special counsel is seeking information. Hicks, former White House strategist Steve Bannon, Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Lewandowski and Stone were among the names listed.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders dismissed Nunberg’s comments.

“I’m not going to weigh into someone who doesn’t work at the White House,” she said. “From our perspective, we’re going to cooperate with the special counsel’s office and the reason we’re so comfortable doing so is there was absolutely no collusion with the Trump campaign.”

Nunberg also asked Tur for advice, saying: “What do you think Mueller is going to do to me?”

Tur responded: “I’m not a lawyer, I don’t know but given the circumstances you might be held in contempt of court.”

In a separate television interview, Nunberg told CNN that Mueller “thinks Trump is the Manchurian Candidate” though the former aide said he disagrees.

Nunberg said he believes investigators are interested in learning more about the Miss Universe pageant Trump held in Moscow in 2013.

“They probably want to know about Miss Universe 2013, if I had to guess,” Nunberg said. “There was nothing there, but they want to hear the testimony. They want to hear what other people said, and perhaps other people told them different things than I heard.”

It was during this visit to Moscow that Trump is said to have discussed potential business opportunities in Russian. Nunberg said he was asked about Trump Tower Moscow, which was under discussion but never built.

Investigators also asked him about the goings on inside Trump Tower in New York, where Trump lived and worked before moving into the White House.

“They asked questions to me in terms of did I hear Russian spoken around Trump Tower? No, Gloria, I never heard Russian spoken around Trump Tower, OK? Now, I understand why they have to ask that, but it was pretty ridiculous to me,” Nunberg said, referring to CNN’s political analyst, Gloria Borger.

منبع مطلب : https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/mar/05/trump-sam-nunberg-interview-mueller-illegal-claims

China’s Tiangong-1 space station will crash to Earth within weeks

China’s first space station is expected to come crashing down to Earth within weeks, but scientists have not been able to predict where the 8.5-tonne module will hit.

The US-funded Aerospace Corporation estimates Tiangong-1 will re-enter the atmosphere during the first week of April, give or take a week. The European Space Agency says the module will come down between 24 March and 19 April.

In 2016 China admitted it had lost control of Tiangong-1 and would be unable to perform a controlled re-entry.

The statement from Aerospace said there was “a chance that a small amount of debris” from the module will survive re-entry and hit the Earth.

“If this should happen, any surviving debris would fall within a region that is a few hundred kilometres in size,” said Aerospace, a research organisation that advises government and private enterprise on space flight.

Aerospace warned that the space station might be carrying a highly toxic and corrosive substance called hydrazine on board.

The report includes a map showing the module is expected to re-enter somewhere between 43° north and 43° south latitudes. The chances of re-entry are slightly higher in northern China, the Middle East, central Italy, northern Spain and the northern states of the US, New Zealand, Tasmania, parts of South America and southern Africa.

However, Aerospace insisted the chance of debris hitting anyone living in these nations was tiny. “When considering the worst-case location … the probability that a specific person (ie, you) will be struck by Tiangong-1 debris is about one million times smaller than the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot.

“In the history of spaceflight no known person has ever been harmed by reentering space debris. Only one person has ever been recorded as being hit by a piece of space debris and, fortunately, she was not injured.”

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist from Harvard University and space industry enthusiast, also sounded a note of caution. He said fragments from a similar-sized rocket re-entered the atmosphere and landed in Peru in January. “Every couple of years something like this happens, but Tiangong-1 is big and dense so we need to keep an eye on it,” he told the Guardian.

A chart showing the descent of the Tiangong-1

A chart showing the descent of the Tiangong-1 Photograph: Jonathan McDowell

McDowell said Tiangong-1’s descent had been speeding up in recent months and it was now falling by about 6km a week, compared with 1.5km in October. It was difficult to predict when the module might land because its speed was affected by the constantly changing “weather” in space, he said.

“It is only in the final week or so that we are going to be able to start speaking about it with more confidence,” he said.

“I would guess that a few pieces will survive re-entry. But we will only know where they are going to land after after the fact.”

The Tiangong-1 or Heavenly Palace lab was launched in 2011 and described as a “potent political symbol” of China – part of a scientific push to become a space superpower.

It was used for both manned and unmanned missions and visited by China’s first female astronaut, Liu Yang, in 2012.

In 1991 the Soviet Union’s 20-tonne Salyut 7 space station crashed to Earth while still docked to another 20-tonne spacecraft called Cosmos 1686. They broke up over Argentina, scattering debris over the town of Capitán Bermúdez.

Nasa’s 77-tonne Skylab space station came hurtling to Earth in an almost completely uncontrolled descent in 1979, with some large pieces landing outside Perth in Western Australia.

منبع مطلب : https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/mar/06/chinas-tiangong-1-space-station-will-crash-to-earth-within-weeks

USS Lexington: aircraft carrier lost in 1942 is finally found

Wreckage from the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier that sank during the second world war, has been found in the Coral Sea by a search team led by the Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

The wreckage was found on Sunday by the team’s research vessel, the R/V Petrel, about 3,000m (two miles) below the surface and more than 500 miles (800km) off the eastern coast of Australia.

The team released pictures and video of the wreckage of the Lexington – one of the first ever US aircraft carriers – and some of the planes that went down with it.

Remarkably preserved aircraft could be seen on the seabed bearing the five-pointed star insignia of the US Army Air Forces on their wings and fuselage.

On one aircraft an emblem of the cartoon character Felix the Cat can be seen along with four miniature Japanese flags presumably depicting “kills”.

The search team also released pictures and video of parts of the ship, including a nameplate and anti-aircraft guns covered in decades of slime.

The Lexington and another carrier, the USS Yorktown, fought against three Japanese aircraft carriers from 4 to 8 May 1942 in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the first ever between carriers.

Remarkably preserved aircraft could be seen on the seabed bearing the five-pointed star insignia of the US Army Air Forces on their wings and fuselage.



Remarkably preserved aircraft could be seen on the seabed bearing the five-pointed star insignia of the US Army Air Forces on their wings and fuselage. Photograph: Douglas Curran/AFP/Getty Images

The badly damaged Lexington, nicknamed “Lady Lex”, was deliberately sunk by another US warship at the conclusion of the battle. More than 200 members of the crew died in the battle but most were rescued by other US vessels before the Lexington was scuttled.

Admiral Harry Harris, who heads up the US military’s Pacific Command (Pacom) – and whose father was one of the sailors evacuated – paid tribute to the successful research effort. “As the son of a survivor of the USS Lexington, I offer my congratulations to Paul Allen and the expedition crew of Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel for locating the ‘Lady Lex’, sunk nearly 76 years ago at the Battle of Coral Sea. We honor the valor and sacrifice of the ‘Lady Lex’s’ Sailors – and all those Americans who fought in World War II – by continuing to secure the freedoms they won for all of us.”

The Lexington was carrying 35 aircraft when it went down. The search team said that 11 planes had been found including Douglas TBD-1 Devastators, Douglas SBD-3 Dauntlesses and Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats.

Search teams led by Allen have discovered the wreckage of a number of historic warships including the USS Indianapolis, a US heavy cruiser that sank in the Philippine Sea in July 1945 after being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.

منبع مطلب : https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/06/uss-lexington-aircraft-carrier-scuttled-in-1942-is-finally-found

No deal, no steel: US trade envoy threatens to sink NAFTA

On Monday, Lighthizer warned that time was running “very short” for the talks in Mexico City to finalize changes to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “We would prefer a three-way tripartite agreement,” he said, but: “If that proves impossible, we are prepared to move on a bilateral basis.”

The Washington envoy held out exemptions from the looming tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent imported aluminum, which are set to be formally announced this week, as an incentive for the two neighboring countries to agree on a new deal.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, who represented his government at the talks, tweeted that including Mexico and Canada in the import tax regime was not the way to a “new NAFTA.”

“We should be excluded because the most integrated steel industry in the world is the North American steel industry,” Guajardo told reporters later.

Trump, however, believes that tariffs should only be lifted once a “new and fair NAFTA” agreement is signed. In a series of tweets, Trump also accused Mexico and Canada of harming the US agricultural industry and also accused Mexico of not doing enough to stop narcotrafficking.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luís Videgaray tweeted back that halting drug trafficking was a “shared responsibility.”

The US President also faced opposition from the Republican party in Congress over the tariffs. “We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin). Senator Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) also warned against a “trade war.”

Canada and Mexico are the second and third greatest US trading partners, each accounting for more than $500 billion in trade per year, almost rivaling China and the 28 European Union member states combined. NAFTA, signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1994, has been criticized as a disastrous deal for US manufacturing jobs by the same labor unions that backed his election campaign as well as his wife, Hillary’s.

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منبع مطلب : https://www.rt.com/usa/420556-mexico-canada-nafta-steel/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS