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French Manhunt Continues, Ebola Slows, Super Antibiotic

Thousands gathered at the Place de la République for a vigil Wednesday night.
Thousands gathered at the Place de la République for a vigil Wednesday night.

Thursday, January 8, 2014

The search continues in France for the two gunmen who killed 12 people in the course of attacking the offices of satirical paper Charlie Hebdo with Kalashnikovs yesterday, a terrorist attack that Le Monde describes on today’s front page as “France’s 9/11.” Here are 31 front pages from around the world.

The two Islamist suspects, brothers and French citizens Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, have reportedly been seen at a gas station in northern France. According to AFP, they are carrying heavy weaponry and were identified after one of them apparently left his ID card in the getaway car that they eventually abandoned. They said were from “al-Qaeda in the Yemen,” according to a witness to the shooting. Chérif was apparently known to the police and intelligence agencies for his involvement in terror activities and had been sentenced to jail in the past.

In what could be an early sign of escalation, there was another shooting early this morning in the southern Paris suburb of Malakoff. A female police officer was killed and another person was wounded. The suspect is on the run, and so far no link has been established between this and yesterday’s attack. But at least three mosques in different parts of France have been targeted by explosions and gunshots since yesterday evening.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced this morning that several homes had been raided since yesterday, leading to at least seven arrests. He said that France was facing an “unprecedented terrorist threat” and urged the media to be “particularly cautious” in their coverage and not interfere with the investigation.

Today has been declared a French day of mourning, and more demonstrations and vigils are expected after yesterday’s public support for the victims, including from our team. President François Hollande is receiving opposition leaders at the Elysée Palace, among whom his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, in a show of national unity. It comes amid alarming analysis suggesting that the attack could trigger a clash of civilizations or a civil war. A New York Times article sums up the current situation.

One journalist for Charlie Hebdo, meanwhile, told AFP that the controversial magazine will publish a new edition next week. Time has selected 17 of the newspaper’s most notable covers.

Beijing plans to fine drivers and companies who provide transportation services via apps such as Uber or its Chinese competitors DiDi Taxi and Kuaidi up to 20,000 yuan ($3,200) as part of a crackdown on unlicensed taxis. Such services have already been banned in other major Chinese cities, including Shanghai.

Sri Lankan voters are electing their next president today in what the BBC describes as an “unexpectedly close election” in which incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has been in office since 2005, is facing one of his former allies, ex-Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena. Security has been increased in and around polling stations.


Scientists have discovered a new antibiotic that they say is capable of fighting a wide range of infections without being rendered ultimately less effective because of resistance, The Wall Street Journal reports.

As Les Echos Julien Dupont-Calbo writes, the "devs" who code our digital world are so rarefied and vital they can dictate their own terms. Companies will do almost anything to recruit them, but like birds, they tend to fly. “Without these digital creators, an iPhone would just be an expensive empty shell,” the journalist writes. “‘Digital is devouring the planet, and devs are living in the golden age,’ says Nicolas Petit, the No. 2 at Microsoft France. So with the winds of history in their favor, it’s not surprising that they’re taking advantage of that fact.”
Read the full article, Developers, Rock Stars Of The Digital Age.

The World Health Organization said yesterday that the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone, the country worst affected by the deadly virus, is showing signs of slowing despite 248 new cases reported in the past week. But the situation in West Africa still remains critical, with a total of 8,235 deaths stemming from 20,747 cases. A clinical trial for a treatment drug has started in Liberia.

Most of the world’s fossil fuel reserves should remain where they are and not be burned if we are to prevent global temperatures from rising over the safety limit of 2 °C (35 °F), The Guardian reports. Researchers have said that 82% of coal reserves, as well as 49% of gas and 33% of oil, should not be exploited if we want to mitigate climate change.

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Happy birthday to Stephen Hawking. And see what other events have shaped Jan. 8 in our daily video feature On This Day.

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The Problem With Always Blaming Climate Change For Natural Disasters

Climate change is real, but a closer look at the science shows there are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters. It is important to raise awareness about the long-term impact of global warming, but there's a risk in overstating its role in the latest floods or fires.

People on foot, on bikes, motorcycles, scooters and cars navigate through a flooded street during the day time.

Karachi - People wade through flood water after heavy rain in a southern Pakistani city

Xinhua / ZUMA
Axel Bojanowski


BERLIN — In September, thousands of people lost their lives when dams collapsed during flooding in Libya. Engineers had warned that the dams were structurally unsound.

Two years ago, dozens died in floods in western Germany, a region that had experienced a number of similar floods in earlier centuries, where thousands of houses had been built on the natural floodplain.

Last year saw more than 1,000 people lose their lives during monsoon floods in Pakistan. Studies showed that the impact of flooding in the region was exacerbated by the proximity of human settlements, the outdated river management system, high poverty rates and political instability in Pakistan.

There are many factors that contribute to weather-related disasters, but one dominates the headlines: climate change. That is because of so-called attribution studies, which are published very quickly after these disasters to highlight how human-caused climate change contributes to extreme weather events. After the flooding in Libya, German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described climate change as a “serial offender," while the Tageszeitung wrote that “the climate crisis has exacerbated the extreme rainfall."

The World Weather Attribution initiative (WWA) has once again achieved its aim of using “real-time analysis” to draw attention to the issue: on its website, the institute says its goal is to “analyse and communicate the possible influence of climate change on extreme weather events." Frederike Otto, who works on attribution studies for the WWA, says these reports help to underscore the urgent need for climate action. They transform climate change from an “abstract threat into a concrete one."

In the immediate aftermath of a weather-related disaster, teams of researchers rush to put together attribution studies – “so that they are ready within the same news cycle," as the New York Times reported. However, these attribution studies do not meet normal scientific standards, as they are published without going through the peer-review process that would be undertaken before publication in a specialist scientific journal. And that creates problems.

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