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Anti-Terror Raids Across Europe

ANTI-TERROR SWEEP ACROSS EUROPE
Suspected terrorists were arrested in France, Belgium and Germany in a series of dawn operations aimed at preventing future attacks. According to Le Figaro, 12 people were arrested in several outlying towns around the French capital, with some of the suspects believed to have provided weapons, hideouts and cars to to Said and Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly before last week’s terror attacks in Paris. More operations are underway.

  • Belgian authorities have detained 13 people who were said to be planning attacks on the police, in a series of raids against a group of Islamist fighters who recently returned from Syria, newspaper Le Soirreports. Another 2 suspects were arrested in France and will likely be extradited soon. The operation began yesterday in Verviers, a town close to the eastern Belgian city of Liège, which ended in a shootout that left two suspected terrorists dead. Jewish schools in Belgium and in Amsterdam decided to stay closed today as a precautionary measure.
  • The German police arrested two people in Berlin on suspicions that were planning to carry out an attack in Syria, Deutsche Welle reports.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris this morning where he met and hugged President François Hollande before visiting the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket where attacks took place last week. He apologized for his absence at last Sunday’s march and said that he shared “the pain and the horror” of what France went through.
  • Clashes erupted near the French Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan after Friday’s Muslim prayers. The police used water cannons, tear gas and shot in the air to disperse anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters who reportedly wanted to hand a written protest to consulate officials. Yesterday, Pakistani politicians passed a motion condemning France’s satirical magazine for publishing on its front page a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

POPE FRANCIS ON FREEDOM OF SPEECH
Pope Francis made a somewhat unexpected contribution to the ongoing debate over freedom of speech, saying that you can’t offend or ridicule the faith of others. By way of comparison, he said that if somebody insulted his mother, “he can expect a punch.”

U.S. NAVY OFFICIALS BRIBED
A Malaysian military contractor pleaded guilty to corruption charges in what The Washington Post describes as a “scandal of epic proportions” for the U.S. Navy. Leonard Glenn Francis, a Malaysian businessman, admitted he had bribed “scores” of Navy officials with thousands of dollars in cash, prostitutes and luxury hotel rooms in exchange for access to classified information. Francis also overcharged the U.S. Navy for Asian port visits and bribed officials to avoid being caught. He has agreed to forfeit $35 million in ill-gotten proceeds and could face up to 25 years in prison.

MY GRAND-PÈRE’S WORLD


A NATIONAL UNITY GOVERNMENT FOR LIBYA
Representatives of Libyan rival parties have agreed on an agenda to form a national unity government after two days of talks with a UN mission in Geneva, AFP reports. Under the agreement, the warring parties will seek “the necessary security arrangements to end the fighting,” and will free abducted people. Libya has been gripped by civil war between terrorist groups fighting for control over territories and oil wells since the overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
A Chinese man came face-to-face with the two masked gunmen who killed 12 people at Charlie Hebdo"s offices on Jan. 7., and lived to tell his story. But he says the Chinese state TV version of his account makes him look like a coward: “An anchor was saying, ‘We talked to a special witness, a Chinese person, who refused to take media interviews after the homicides, and only put away his apprehension and agreed to have an exclusive interview with us after learning that the two killers had been shot dead.’ ...I was shocked and stupefied. I remember giving her a different answer, but why is she lying?”
Read the full article, The Strange Tale Of A Chinese Interview With A Charlie Hebdo Witness.

U.S. TO SEND TROOPS TO TRAIN SYRIAN REBELS
The U.S. military is planning to send some 400 troops to help train the “moderate” Syrian opposition in their fight against ISIS, USA Today reports. According to a Defense Department spokeswoman, the training will likely take place in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar and will begin in the spring. Meanwhile, two Italian aid workers who had been held hostage by the al-Nusra Front for five months were freed and are now back in Italy.

2
A deadly virus has claimed the lives of two of China's beloved giant pandas and left a third in critical condition

STOCKS CONTINUE SLIDE AFTER SWISS FRANC DECISION
Swiss stocks resumed their fall this morning after a surprise move from the country’s National Bank to abandon the cap on the currency’s value against the euro. Shares fell by more than 5% in early trading, after closing down 8.7% yesterday, The Guardian reports. Experts expect the move will have many global casualties, but according to Bloomberg, the biggest could be the European single currency.

LONG LOST BEAGLE2 PROBE FOUND ON MARS
The NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found the Beagle2 robot probe, which had been missing since it attempt to land in 2003, on the red planet’s surface. Scientists assumed until now that the landing had failed and the lander was destroyed, but it appears to be intact. Read more from the BBC.

ON THIS DAY

Get your 57-second shot of history in our daily video feature — today featuring Kate Moss.

NEW ISLAND
The Tongan archipelago has gained a new island after a month-long volcano eruption created a substantial landmass more than one kilometer wide, two kilometers long and about 100 meters high.

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Future

Benjamin Button For Real? Scientists Are Close To Cracking The Code To Reverse Aging

The discovery that earned Japan's Shinya Yamanaka the 2012 Nobel Prize in Medicine has paved the way for new research proving that aging is a reversible process. Currently just being tested on lab mice, will the cellular reprogramming soon offer eternal youth?

A discovery about cellular reprogramming could help reverse aging.

Yann Verdo

PARIS — Barbra Streisand loved her dog Samantha, aka Sammy. The white and fluffy purebred Coton of Tulear was even present on the steps of the Elysée Palace, the French President’s official residence, when Streisand received the Legion of Honor in 2007.

As the singer and actress explained inThe New York Times in 2018, she loved Sammy so much that, unable to bring herself to see her pass away, she had the dog cloned by a Texas firm for the modest sum of 50,000 dollars just before she died in 2017, at the age of 14. And that's how Barbra Streisand became the happy owner of Miss Violet and Miss Scarlet, two puppies who are the spitting image of the deceased Samantha.

This may sound like a joke, but there is one deeply disturbing fact that Harvard Medical School genetics professor David A. Sinclair points out in his book Why We Age – And Why We Don’t Have To. It is that the cloning of an old dog has led to two young puppies.

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Writing contest - My pandemic story
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