Thursday, October 16, 2014
ISIS RETREATING FROM PARTS OF KOBANI
ISIS fighters were retreating this morning from parts they previously occupied in the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, on Turkey’s border, a Kurdish official told AFP, explaining that the terrorists now “control less than 20%.” The same official told German news agency DPA that they were running low on medical supplies, as well as ammunition and weapons. This comes after U.S. officials announced yesterday a sharp increase in the number of strikes against ISIS in Kobani, where “several hundred” jihadists were killed, The New York Times reports. Pentagon spokesman Admiral John Kirby warned, however, that the town “could still fall.”
From Kobani, NPR reports that the Kurds are trapped between ISIS fighters and Turkish authorities, who so far have failed to intervene and are instead detaining young Kurdish men on suspicion of terrorism. Turkey is said to be weary of a strong Syrian Kurdish bastion on its border, which would reinforce its enemy, the Kurdish Worker’s Party PKK. But the debate in Turkey over president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to stand by and watch continues, while an opposition leader accused the government of providing logistical, military and medical support to ISIS. “But, this will boomerang back on Turkey,” he warned. Read more from English-speaking newspaper Today’s Zaman.
Kurdish forces were joined recently in their fight by the No Surrender gang, a group of Dutch motorbike riders, Haaretz reports. The gang was encouraged by the Dutch public prosecutor, who said they were allowed to go as long as they were not fighting against the Netherlands.
The U.S. is wrongly imprisoning too many people for watching child pornography, novelist John Grisham said in an interview with The Telegraph to promote his new book. The best-selling thriller writer’s attack on the American judicial system drew furor and backlash.
WHO PLAYS DOWN FEARS OF EBOLA IN WEST
The World Health Organization has ruled out a major Ebola outbreak in the U.S. and the rest of the West as “unlikely,” given their strong health systems, the BBC reports. This comes amid what the The Washington Post describes as a “drumbeat of bad news,” with the revelation that the Centers for Disease Control allowed a second Ebola-infected nurse to fly on a commercial plane one day before she was diagnosed with the disease, even though she was reporting a low-grade temperature. The 29-year-old nurse has since then been transferredto a special bio-containment unit in Atlanta.
As the nurse was helped on board her flight to Atlanta wearing protective gear, live NBC footage showed a plainclothes man standing amid hazmat-suited workers holding a clipboard. It has left people wondering who the man was and why he too wasn’t properly outfitted. Read more.
President Barack Obama has called for a “much more aggressive” response to the disease, which has killed close to 4,500 people in West Africa. “If we do these protocols properly ... the likelihood of widespread Ebola outbreaks in this country are very, very low,” Voice of America quotes Obama as saying.
Meanwhile, USA Today reports that the Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on Ebola scams. At least three companies have been issued warnings in the past month for trying to cash in on fears by selling treatments or therapies against the deadly virus, even though no drugs have so far been approved.
São Paulo-based radio station Mix FM is offering a prize of 1,000 liters of water to the person who submits the best "rain dance" video, as an unprecedented drought continues to hit the Brazilian mega-city.
EUROPEAN STOCKS SEE WORST DAY IN YEARS
European stocks resumed their slide this morning, quickly surrendering early gains after yesterday’s panic that wiped close to $672 billion from global shares. Asian shares also fell, with Japan reaching a four-and-a-half month low after losing more than 2%. The Financial Times notes, however, that “Japan aside, the mood on Thursday is comparatively calmer,” although worries over a global growth slowdown continue. In New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped sharply after European markets closed Wednesday, slumping 420 points – 2.5% – and dipping below 16,000 before rebounding to 16,141.
French actress and Nouvelle Vague icon Marie Dubois died yesterday at age 77 following a long battle with multiple sclerosis.
ASIA-EUROPE SUMMIT IN MILAN
Fifty-three government leaders from Asia and Europe are gathering in Milan today and tomorrow for the 10th Asia–Europe Meeting, officially centered on “Building a Responsible Partnership and Promoting Sustainable Growth and Security,” Xinhua reports. The summit, which “has rarely been in the spotlight” in the past, will attract more media interest this time, according to Deutsche Welle, due to the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko. The presidents are expected to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the summit sidelines to discuss a lasting ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and gas supplies.
As Calcalist’s Uzi Blumer reports, an Israeli company says it has developed a simple blood test for detecting breast cancer that it intends to market under the name Octava Pink. “When a blood sample containing cancer antibodies comes in contact with a specific protein, a reaction occurs a few hours later that can be observed in a microscope scan,” the journalist writes. “This indication can lead the doctor to look for a tumor using more traditional breast cancer diagnosis techniques, such as a mammogram, ultrasound or an MRI, which, on their own, can sometimes be inconclusive.”
Read the full article, Israeli Researchers: We Can Detect Breast Cancer With Simple Blood Test.
MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD
APPLE IPADS UNVEILED
Apple is expected to introduce its latest versions of the iPad and iPad mini at a press event later today, although the company stole its own thunder by accidentally revealing the new tablet models ahead of time in a user guide, The Verge reports. Both models will include a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Here’s a list of what else to expect.
HONG KONG LEADER OFFERS NEW TALKS
Hong Kong leader Leung Chun-ying reopened his offer of “a dialogue to discuss universal suffrage” with student leaders as early as next week, after new clashes between protesters and the police last night. Read more from the BBC.
Jacques Brel’s "Amsterdam," one of the most famous French-language songs, turns 50 today. The Belgian singer didn’t think much of the song’s quality and never recorded it in the studio. In fact, the only recorded version of this masterpiece, later covered by David Bowie, is from Brel’s live concert at the Olympia in Paris in 1964. Watch expand=1] it here.