Turkish forces take control of a Kurdish enclave, Afrin
Syrian Kurds are threatening a new stepped-up guerilla war after Turkish forces and their Syrian allies took control of the northern Syrian town of Afrin, a Kurdish enclave.
“Our forces all over Afrin will become a constant nightmare for them,” top Syrian Kurd official Othman Sheikh Issa said. “These forces will strike the positions of the Turkish enemy and its mercenaries at every opportunity.”
Turkey and their Syrian allies raised flags in central Afrin early Sunday, declaring they are in full control of the town after meeting no resistance from the People’s Defense Units, the Kurdish militia.
“Most of the terrorists have already fled with their tails between their legs, In the center of Afrin, symbols of trust and stability are waving instead of rags of terrorists,” a gleeful Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday.
Turkey regards the YPG as part of the Kurdistan Workers Party — the guerilla group that has been fighting for a separate Kurdish state that would include part of Turkey.
Turkey has outlawed the PKK, considering it to be a group of terrorists.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the fight to drive Kurds out of Afrin sent more than 150,000 civilians fleeing from their homes in the past week.
Turkish warplanes and shells struck the region despite what is supposed to be a 30-day cease-fire across Syria.
Erdogan vowed to stop the Kurds from setting up what he calls a “terror corridor” along the Turkish-Syrian border. He threatened to take the fight further east in Syria, where U.S. forces are aiding their Kurdish allies — setting up the possibility of even more tension between the U.S. and Turkey.
Putin is set to win Russian elections–Russia, Politics–
Mr Putin, who has ruled the country as either president or prime minister since 1999, got more than 76% of the vote, official results show.
The main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was barred from the race.
The scale of victory – which had been widely predicted – appears to be a marked increase in his share of the vote from 2012, when he won 64%.
Mr Putin’s nearest competitor, millionaire communist Pavel Grudinin, received about 12%.
The race also included Ksenia Sobchak, a former reality TV host, and veteran nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky – they got less than 2% and about 6% respectively.
Video recordings from polling stations showed irregularities in a number of towns and cities across Russia. Several showed election officials stuffing boxes with ballot papers.
Ella Pamfilova, head of the Russian Central Election Commission, has said that there were no major violations during the vote, and that only “minor and local complaints” were received.
Putin was first elected to the Kremlin in 2000, and again four years later. Constitutionally barred from serving more than two consecutive terms, he did not run in 2008, the same year presidential terms were extended from four years to six years. Putin won 63.6 percent of the vote in 2012, and, if the early results are confirmed, he will now stay in his post until 2024, the year he turns 72.
Jupiter’s great red spot is dying –Space–
The incredibly intense storm, which is large enough that it could swallow Earth whole, is being closely watched by NASA’s Juno spacecraft. Juno has been orbiting Jupiter for over six years, and in since arriving it’s made some stunning observations regarding the planet’s impressive weather patterns. The Great Red Spot is a result of powerful jet streams which spin in opposite directions, but they won’t be able to keep churning forever.
Juno’s latest images have revealed some surprising changes to the storm, which is now smaller in diameter than has ever before been observed. Its swirling winds are reaching higher into the planet’s atmosphere than before, stretching the storm taller as they swirl upward. At the same time, its iconic crimson hue is becoming more orange, likely as a result of the highest gasses being exposed to ultraviolet radiation.
The Great Red Spot is still great. It can still swallow the entire Earth whole, which is a pretty impressive feat for any weather feature, but it’s definitely less impressive than it once was. As NASA notes, a century and a half ago it was so wide that you could fit four Earths inside of its footprint, so it’s clearly losing a lot of steam.
Observations of Jupiter stretching as far back as the 1660s pointed to the presence of a completely different storm that may have preceded the Great Red Spot. That storm, which exists only in astronomy records from the time, is thought to have been the remains of a dying storm that completely vanished long before modern imaging would have allowed it to be captured on film.
Human tools and trade dates back further than previously believed–Science, Archeology–
Anthropologists at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and an international team of collaborators have discovered that early humans in East Africa had—by about 320,000 years ago—begun trading with distant groups, using color pigments and manufacturing more sophisticated tools than those of the Early Stone Age. These newly discovered activities approximately date to the oldest known fossil record of Homo sapiens and occur tens of thousands of years earlier than previous evidence has shown in eastern Africa. These behaviors, which are characteristic of humans who lived during the Middle Stone Age, replaced technologies and ways of life that had been in place for hundreds of thousands of years.
The tools were discovered in southern Kenya, include primitive handheld axes which were fashioned into rough teardrop shapes. These hand axes would have made quick work of branches, but may also have been used to process game killed during hunting.
In addition to the larger axes, smaller, more specialized tools were discovered that may have been crafted for different purposes, potentially even as projectile weapons. What’s particularly interesting about these smaller implements is that they are made of obsidian and volcanic stones which were not naturally occurring in the area. This suggests that the stones were actually traded between ancient peoples living many miles apart.
“This change to a very sophisticated set of behaviors that involved greater mental abilities and more complex social lives may have been the leading edge that distinguished our lineage from other early humans,” said Rick Potts, director of the National Museum of Natural History’s Human Origins Program.