Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Archaeology discovery: Major 59,000-year-old find sparks redefinition of Siberian history
SCIENTISTS uncovered ancient tools found in a cave high in the Siberia mountains that tell the story of an epic trek made by Neanderthals.
By JOEL DAY PUBLISHED: 03:13, Wed, Jan 29, 2020 |
Neanderthals: Expert discusses why species went extinct

The Neanderthals, an extinct species of archaic humans, trekked nearly 2,000 miles to some 59,000 years ago across Europe to their final destination - a cave in Siberia deep in the forest, at the foothills of the towering Altai Mountains. Now, an analysis of the tools found that the tools to have been formed in the same way as those used by Neanderthals in eastern Europe, rather than those commonly found elsewhere in Siberia.

The striking similarity has led researchers to conclude that there were two separate long-distance migrations of Neanderthals into Siberia, some 40,000 years apart.

The bombshell discovery reinforces the unfolding view within academic circles that Neanderthals were a sophisticated people who were skilled survivors and capable of such long journeys.

The Chagyrskaya Cave, first excavated in 2007, has since become an epicentre for pre-historic finds.

Some 90,000 stone artefacts and the remains of plants and animals have been recovered from the site, as well as 74 Neanderthal fossils.

The discovery rewrites our understanding of Neanderthals (Image: GETTY)


The Chagyrskaya Cave in Siberia (Image: Kolobova et al)

The Russian Academy of Sciences carried out analyses on more than 3,000 stone tools from the cave, Kseniya Kolobova among a team of experts who secularise in Neanderthal material culture.

The team used a method of time stamping known as optical dating, which measures the last time that individual grains of quartz were exposed to sunlight, to determine when different sediments, artefacts and fossils were deposited from the cave.

The method has proved especially useful to geologists and archaeologists alike in pinpointing when such an event in history occurred.

The recovered plant and animals remains also enabled researchers to recreate the environmental conditions of that time,

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An overview of the remains found in Chagyrskaya Cave (Image: Kolobova et al)

From this, a cold and dry climate was realised, one that Neanderthals would have used to their advantage to hunt bison and horses to survive.

And, separator to this discovery was how closely the tools - which date back to 59,000 to 49,000 years ago - resemble the so-called Micoquian tools used by Neanderthals in Eastern Europe, over 1,000 miles to the west of the cave.

Named after the La Micoque dig site in Dordogne, southwestern France, the Micoque was a period in history dating back 130,000 to 60,000 years ago which was characterised by distinctly asymmetrical two-faced tools.

Writing in the Conversation, Dr Kolobova wrote: “Their distinctive stone tools are dead ringers for those found thousands of kilometres away in eastern and central Europe.”


Neanderthal lower jaw bone fragments (Image: Kolobova et al)


Some of the items recovered from the cave (Image: Kolobova et al)

Meanwhile, in stark contrast, the team note that the tools found in the nearby Denison Cave are not Micoquian, despite it being home to Neanderthals more than 10,000 years ago.

The tools found there instead resemble the so-called Levallois style, in which flakes were cut off tools off of a pre-prepared stone core.

The researchers wrote: “The presence of Micoquian artefacts at Chagyrskaya Cave suggests at least two separate dispersals of Neanderthals into southern Siberia.

“Sites such as Denisova Cave were occupied by Neanderthals who entered the region before 100,000 years ago, while the Chagyrskaya Neanderthals arrived later.”


Neanderthals from different periods created flints and tools in different ways (Image: GETTY)

DNA analysis of the Neanderthal fossils provided and supported a link between the Chagyrskaya Cave population and their counterparts in eastern Europe.

The team explained: “The Chagyrskaya Neanderthal [shares] closer affinities with several European Neanderthals than with a Neanderthal from Denisova Cave.

“When the Chagyrskaya toolmakers (or their ancestors) left their Neanderthal homeland in eastern Europe for central Asia around 60,000 years ago, they could have headed north and east around the land-locked Caspian Sea.”

This, they explained, “was much reduced in size under the prevailing cold and arid conditions”.

Neanderthals are now thought to have been much more intelligent than what was first thought (Image: GETTY)

The significance, then, is overwhelming, as the researchers noted the lack of any evidence for long-distance trekking and transcontinental journeys over thousands of miles from Neanderthals.

On this, the study added that it “highlights the value of stone tools as culturally informative markers of ancient population movements.

“Our discoveries reinforce the emerging view of Neanderthals as creative and intelligent people who were skilled survivors.

“If this was the case, it makes their extinction across Eurasia even more mysterious. Did modern humans deal the fatal blow? The enigma endures, for now."
French firefighters faced off against riot police in Paris on Tuesday. 

The riot police deployed water cannons, smoke grenades and erected large metal barriers to block off the fire service protestors.
The riot police continue to use crowd control grenades despite controversies stemming from their use against both the Yellow Vest protestors and the pension reform protesters.
The video footage shows the moment riot police hit protestors with their batons.
Some firefighters can be seen stumbling and attempting to get back up at their feet while pushing the riot police back.
Emmanuel Macron protest
Macron’s riot squad break into violent clash with protesting firefighters - VIDEO (Image: Bryan MacDonald )
Emmanuel Macron Protest
Multiple videos have been circulating on social media showing violent clashes break out between the two groups. (Image: Bryan MacDonald )
Multiple videos have been circulating on social media showing violent clashes break out between the two groups.
The police argued that many protesting firefighters had abandoned the prearranged route which ultimately resulted in fierce clashes with the riot police.
At one point during the protest, multiple firefighters symbolically set themselves on fire.
Firefighter protest
At one point during the protest, multiple firefighters symbolically set themselves on fire. (Image: Reuters)
Professional firefighters represent just 16 percent of the 247,000 firefighters in France, with the remainder comprising volunteers and military personnel.
Tuesday’s march was the second national demonstration by the professional firefighter's unions in less than four months; the strike movement began back in June 2019 after proposed reforms to the national pension scheme were announced.
France protest Macron
Emmanuel Macron’s riot police have continuously come under criticism for using too much force against protestors. (Image: Bryan MacDonald )
Emmanuel Macron’s riot police have continuously come under criticism for using too much force against protestors.
Police have defended these actions by insisting officers had to “systematically intervene” to stop “abuses committed by violent groups.”
Yellow Vest protests have been taking to the streets to protests every weekend since November 2018 with many calling for Mr Macron to step down as President.

France: Clashes in Paris as firefighters and police face off

Published on Jan 28, 2020
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Tension erupted as police forces and firefighters clashed on a day of mass protests in Paris, on Tuesday.

Scuffles broke out when police reportedly fired water cannons at firefighters who had rallied in the French capital to demand better working conditions and a pay raise. Footage filmed on Tuesday shows police beating the firefighters with sticks and using what it appeared to be pepper spray.

Firefighters are demanding an increase from 19 per cent to 25 per cent in their 'risk pay', as they claim staff shortages have been making their job more difficult.

A previous protest held by French firefighters in October was marred by clashes with police in Paris and in the southern city of Dijon. 

French riot police clash with protesting firefighters in Paris

French riot police clashed with uniformed firefighters at protests in Paris on Tuesday, in extraordinary scenes where police used batons and shields against crowds of angry fire officers in helmets.
Thousands of firefighters held a demonstration in the French capital, as part of long-running protest movement asking for better pay and conditions, including an increase in their hazard bonus which has not changed since 1990.
Some firefighters set their uniforms alight as a symbolic gesture before colleagues put out the fires. But as a group of fire officers attempted to lead their demonstration into a sidestreet, riot officers pushed them back. Teargas was fired and scuffles broke out.

Firefighters simulate setting themselves on fire during the protest in Paris.
 Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

Videos of the clashes went viral on social media amid
 growing pressure on the government over French 
police tactics of crowd control at demonstrations.

A number of recent videos showing what appeared to be unjustified
 police violence at other demonstrations have sparked outrage
 on social media. Afterscores of serious injuries from police
 weapons during the gilets jaunes anti-government
 protests last year, and complaints of heavy-handedness at
 pensions protests, lawyers have begun accusing the French
 president, Emmanuel Macron, of presiding the most heavy-handed 
approach to street demonstrationsin France since the protests
of May 1968.

More than 200 alleged abuses related to police handling of the 
yellow vest protests have been signaled to the General Inspectorate
 of the National Police watchdog – and the media estimate there 
have been been dozens of serious injuries among protestors,   
including lost eyes and at least five severed hands.

For months, the government has held firm, defending police
 tactics and policy but, as local elections approach this 
spring, Macron’s tone has begun to change.

The president warned last week that the “unacceptable behaviour”
 of some officers risked undermining the “credibility and dignity” of
 the force. But he also denounced the violence of some extremist
 protesters, who have hurled pavingstones and other projectiles 
at security forces during protests.

The French interior minister, Christophe Castaner, this week announced
 that France would withdraw from use of one particular brand of 
explosive teargas grenade used by riot police, which has been
blamed for injuring numerous protestors. But rights groups and lawyers
 immediately criticised the government for a “political announcement”, 
saying that this particular model of grenade had already been 
discontinued by manufacturers. They said other equivalent grenades 
would remain in use by French police to the same effect.

The “sting-ball” grenades contain 25g of TNT high-explosive. 
France is the only European country where crowd-control police 
use such powerful grenades, which deliver an explosion 
of small rubber balls  that creates a stinging effect as well
as launching an additional load of teargas. The grenades
create a deafening effect that has been likened to the sound
 of an aircraft taking off.

One French lawyer handling several cases of alleged 
police violence said: “Withdrawing one type of grenade 
doesn’t change anything, other grenades which are still in use
 do the same thing.”

Marion Guémas from Action by Christians Against Torture, which has
 campaigned to end the use of all such grenades, said: “We observe
 that the use of certain weapons is not appropriate for maintaining 
public order and can lead to an escalation in violence”.

She called for a review of the French police’s use of weapons in crowd-control.

French police brutality under scrutiny

Published on Jan 24, 2020
In recent months, France has seen a wave of protests - from the Yellow Vest movement
 to demonstrations against pension reform. While alleged cases of police brutality
 are on the rise, with videos of suspected police misconduct widely shared on 
social media, many police officers argue they're only matching the level of violence 
they're facing from protesters. Our team reports.

French firefighters face off with French riot police as they demonstrate
 to protest against working conditions, in Paris, France, January 28, 2020. 
REUTERS/Charles Platiau

French police clash with firefighters on Paris streets as protests turn violent

Police deploy tear gas and batons against protesters as firefighters demand better working conditions

Anthony Cuthbertson Paris @ADCuthbertson


Firefighters in Paris have clashed with police amid protests over working conditions and a lack of pay reforms.

Violent scenes were shared across social media, showing police using tear gas and batons against the protesters.

The firefighters are demanding an increase to their hazard bonus to bring it in line with those granted to the police and gendarmes.

Firefighter unions called for an increase in risk pay from 19 per cent to 28 per cent of the basic salary, as well as guarantees that their current pension plans remain in place.

“We are the last link in emergency services in France, and we are overwhelmed by calls and interventions,” Frédéric Perrin, president of the SPASDIS-CFTC union, told the news agency Agence France-Presse.

“We need more manpower and the means to respond to it, but also the guarantee that we focus mainly on our missions, the emergency, and not serve as supplements to absent health services.”

France strikes: Chaotic scenes as unrest continues
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It is the second time in four months that firefighters have protested in the French capital, having demonstrated in October for similar reasons.

French firefighters have also been a consistent presence at nationwide protests against sweeping pension reforms in recent weeks, often marching at the front of the procession in order to prevent police and protesters from clashing.

Tuesday’s protests are expected to end at 6pm at Place de la Nation.

The Paris police department posted a video appearing to show firefighters attempting to force down a barrier.

“Respect for the rules applies to everyone, no matter the nature of the protest,” the force tweeted.


Michelle Obama fury: Ex-FLOTUS named as shock choice for Vice President if Biden wins

MICHELLE OBAMA has just won a Grammy award for her memoir ‘Becoming' and now she has been named as Joe Biden's choice for Vice President if he is elected President.

Mr Biden replied: “Yeah, I would, but I don’t think he’d do it.”
The man who asked the question then said: “Second question is: which Obama?”
The crowd then responded with applause and laughter at the question.
Mr Biden replied: “Well I sure would like Michelle to be the Vice President.
michelle obama
Michelle Obama news: Ex-FLOTUS named as shock choice for Vice President if Biden wins (Image: GETTY)
michelle obama
The crowd then responded with applause and laughter at the question (Image: GETTY)
“They’re both incredibly qualified people.
“And they’re such decent, honourable people.
“And I found it strange yesterday in that Republican presentation that they talked about how Obama should have been impeached. Wow.”
Mr Biden then pulled a shocked face as he made his speech.
michelle obama

Many have speculated whether Michelle might run for President or any office (Image: GETTY)
Many have speculated whether Michelle might run for President or any office.
But sources close to the former First Lady have said she has no interest in running for public office.
The Obamas are still very popular within the Democratic Party.
Michelle took home the trophy for the Grammys’ spoken-word category for her spoken word edition of 'Becoming'.
michelle obama
By March 2019, the book had sold 10million copies (Image: GETTY)
The Obamas are still very popular within the Democratic Party (Image: GETTY)
Her 2018 memoir about her life and days in the White House took the world by storm on its publication in 2018, selling 1.4million copies in its first week.
By March 2019, the book had sold 10million copies.
In winning this year's memoir award, Michelle joins her husband, Barack Obama, who won the award in 2006 and 2008.
Those millions who bought and read the book were enlightened about Michelle’s early life growing up on the South Side of Chicago through to her entrance to and first years as the FLOTUS.
The award was picked up as part of the early announcements in the pre-show.
Michelle attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School (Image: GETTY)
Before becoming First Lady, Michelle attended Princeton University and Harvard Law School.
She had a career as an attorney at a Chicago Law firm called Sidley & Austin, where she also met her husband Barack Obama.
She then worked at the Chicago mayor’s office, the University of Chicago and the University of Chicago Medical Centre.
Her best-selling memoir, 'Becoming', sold more copies than any other book published in the US in 2018.

Michelle Obama shock: Trump warned of stunning victory by ex-FLOTUS ahead of 2020 election

MICHELLE OBAMA could win the 2020 presidential election in the US, the professor who predicted Donald Trump’s stunning victory in 2016 has warned.

 her fans to attempt to seal the Democrat nomination, she continually refuses to enter the race.

But election expert Allan Lichtman has warned Michelle would have a better chance of winning this year’s election as opposed to her Democratic rivals.
According to the Daily Caller, he said: “She comes out extraordinarily well with the Democratic rank and file.
“She has the charismatic potential. She has the pizzazz the [current] candidates don’t have. [Independent Vermont Sen.]
“Bernie Sanders has pizzazz, but he’s like Trump.
Michelle Obama news: Ex-FLOTUS would make stunning victory expert warns Trump fans
Michelle Obama news: Ex-FLOTUS would make stunning victory expert warns Trump fans (Image: GETTY)
Michelle Obama latest news
Michelle and Barack with the Trumps (Image: GETTY)
“He appeals only to a narrow slice of the electorate.
“He’s not a Franklin Delano Roosevelt or a Ronald Reagan.”
But he added: “There are rules that would prevent her from being nominated at the convention, but rules can be changed.
“I think it’s a long shot, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility.”
Michelle Obama latest news  
Michelle Obama: Fans want the ex-FLOTUS to run (Image: GETTY)
It comes after Michelle left Instagram fans begging for her to run for President after she dropped an adorable update on the social media platform.
The ex-FLOTUS saw hundreds of Instagram users ask her to consider a tilt at next year’s election.
Many hope she will consider becoming the Democrat nominee and run against current US President Donald Trump.
The post that sparked the wave of outpouring shared the Obamas Christmas card.
The post was shared thousands of times.
Among the fans asking for her to consider running, one wrote: “Please come back.
“The planet has not been the same since your sweet family was in the spotlight, and we could see your faces so frequently.
"We cried when you left the White House."
Michelle Obama latest news
Michelle Obama: Ex-FLOTUS with husband Barack (Image: GETTY)