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Oil interest heats up maritime dispute between Israel and Lebanon

A long-running dispute between Israel and Lebanon over a maritime border in the Mediterranean Sea has reached boiling point as both sides want to secure multibillion-dollar energy investments from the oil and gas rich area. Lebanese politicians have reacted with anger over a bill in the Israeli parliament that would seek to establish the country's sovereignty over the territory.

Sun halo awes visitors to Anhui province in China

On March 26, a solar halo appeared in the sky above the historic city of Huangshan, in east China's Anhui Province. According to local media, the halo appeared at around 11am and lasted for almost two hours. Photographers were able to snap some stunning pictures, as the bright halo rings reflected rainbow colors. China Meteorological Administration describes solar halos as optical phenomena that form when hexagonal ice crystals in cirrus clouds refract and reflect the sun light. Solar halos often appear in spring and summer. This was the first solar halo to be observed in Huangshan's Shexian county since 2012.

Rivers of lava flow onto slopes of Mount Etna after eruption

Scorching lava can still be seen flowing onto the slopes of Mount Etna, more than one week after the Italian volcano dramatically erupted. Stunning Ruptly footage shows huge amounts of magma oozing from the 3,329 meter-high mountain. The fast-flowing lava was filmed on Tuesday, seemingly proving that Europe's most active volcano has little desire to settle down after erupting twice in less than one month.

Just rumors? Washington's greater Middle East project 'aims at creating Kurdish state'

The United States has pursued a strategy that entails creating an independent Kurdish state in the Middle East, Chairman of the Kurdish National Council (ENKS) Muslim Mihemed told Sputnik Turkey, commenting on recent rumors that Washington has promised to support Kurdish independence in exchange for Raqqa's liberation. "We believe that Washington's Greater Middle East project is aimed at creating Kurdistan among other things. There is a possibility of the US establishing a Kurdish state in Syria and Iraq. This depends on the one who came up with this initiative, Washington. We think that if this project truly exists, it must take into account the rights of all Kurds. Otherwise, establishing a Kurdish state would not be possible," he said.

State of Michigan to pay city of Flint $87 million to replace lead-tainted pipelines

A deal between the state of Michigan, the city of Flint, several Flint-based pastors, and the American Civil Liberties Union, has resulted in the state paying $87 million to replace lead-tainted pipelines with galvanized steel pipes. The state of Michigan will provide Flint up to $87 million to upgrade water pipes and set up water bottle distribution centers so that residents can have clean drinking water under the terms of the settlement proposed on Monday. The deal requires that $47 million of the $87 million not come from the same sources approved last year by Congress and President Barack Obama for $40 million, Booth Michigan reported.

Russian MoD reports some 800 militants head to Syrian border after leaving Mosul, Iraq

At least 800 militants have left the Iraqi city of Mosul and headed toward the Syrian border over the past week, chief of the Russian General Staff Main Operational Directorate Col. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy said Tuesday. Russian military has repeatedly said that Daesh terrorists would leave Mosul for Syria amid an Iraqi offensive supported by the US-led coalition. "According to our data, at least 800 militants have left Mosul over the past week toward the Syrian border," Rudskoy said at a briefing.

Farmland bird population in Netherlands decreased by 70 percent in 50 years

The number of farmland birds in the Netherlands decreased by over 2.5 million since 1960, which means about 70 percent of the total population disappeared. Some species are almost impossible to find in the Netherlands any longer, Statistics Netherlands revealed on Monday. An estimated 750 thousand of the 1.1 million skylark breeding pairs disappeared. The partridge population dropped by 93 percent, the summer dove population by 92 percent, the tree sparrow population by 93 percent and the black tailed godwit by 68 percent. Statistics Netherlands attributes the decrease partly to agricultural land in the Netherlands being replaced with housing or roads. An increase in fertilization and mowing of the land also reduces the amount and diversity of insects these birds eat. Bird nests are also often damaged or destroyed by intense fertilization or mowing.

Major search underway for 'extinct' Tasmanian tiger after series of plausible sightings

A major scientific search is underway in Queensland, Australia for the Tasmanian tiger, thought extinct for over 80 years. A series of possible 'plausible' sightings have triggered hope a rare species has returned from the brink. Camera traps are being deployed across Cape York Peninsula by James Cook University researchers to survey sites where the creature, also known as the Tasmanian wolf, was reportedly spotted. Native to continental Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea, the last of the thylacine species is thought to have died in a zoo in Hobart, Tasmania in 1936.

Pilotless drones set to hit the skies of Israel

A drone that can fly without the help of humans is one step closer to hitting the skies of Israel. Optimus can fly for half an hour without a human pilot on the controls. Its creator, Airobotics, recently became the first in the world to be granted permission to fly an automated drone. Ran Krauss, CEO of Airobotics, said: 'Our core technology is truly autonomous'. 'That means drones are launched and landed automatically, without need for a pilot.' The vehicle is launched from an automated 'airbase' which is pre-programmed using computer software. 'Our system is easily operated by anyone from anywhere,' he said. 'And drones are deployed from a click of a button.' The drone is fitted with military-grade avionics for precise control and can be pre-programmed to carry out 'missions'. It is fitted with a robotic arm that is capable of swapping batteries, which removes the need for humans to recharge the vehicle.The large-size unmanned vehicle is fitted with a camera capable of streaming real-time aerial video.

Mother slams TSA for 'treating family like dogs' after hour long security screening at DFW causes them to miss flight

A US mother says her family were "treated like dogs" and "deliberately" kept from their flight by Dallas Fort Worth International Airport security, who carried out a pat down screening on her child. Jennifer Williamson's angry Facebook post said her family had "been through hell" after her son Aaron - who suffers from a neurological disorder - was pulled aside by agents from the Transportation Security Administration and subjected to a security screening. Williamson said TSA agents delayed the boy for over an hour, thus missing their flight and being re-routed.

Dead whale removed from beach in Cape Town, South Africa

A beached whale carcass has been removed from a beach between Strandfontein and Muizenberg. On Wednesday afternoon last week the NSRI Strandfontein duty crew and two NSRI Strandfontein rescue swimmers were dispatched to help at Sonwabi beach where officials of the City of Cape Town were dealing with the whale carcass in the breaker surf line. There were no incidents and the City workers removed the whale from the beach.

Lightning bolt kills couple in Mindanao, Philippines

As heavy rains and strong winds battered Cotabato City and nearby towns on Sunday, a couple was reportedly killed by lightning, while more than dozen houses in open fields were destroyed Spouses Kabasalan and Maisa Minulan were killed when lightning struck through their shanty in Barangay Nalinan in Sultan Kudarat town, reported the Philippine Star. "They were killed instantly according to investigators in the Sultan Kudarat municipal police station," Senior Superintendent Agustin Tello, director of the Maguindanao provincial police was quoted to have said in the report.

Unwanted in Trump's America, Indian IT sector finds a suitor in bitter rival China

An unlikely romance between Chinese industry and Indian IT may just be what the doctor ordered for these two perennially bickering nations. It's a little weird to think of India and China as buddies. There has been at least a half-century of rank hostility between the two most populous nations in the world, ostensibly kicking off when India gave the Dalai Lama refuge, post the Chinese invasion of Tibet. A short but debilitating border war in 1962; claimed occupation of territories by both sides; China's alliance with Pakistan and its efforts to influence other countries in India's backyard -- they all ensure that these two fast-developing nations will never cosy up to each other. And yet, the irony is that there has never been a better time for increased economic cooperation between the two. What is interesting is that this is something the two nations are increasingly doing despite the confrontational rhetoric that seems to perennially dominate the state of affairs between them.

Powerful winds, large hail strike U.S. Southern Plains

Forecasters say strong storms that swept through parts of Texas and Oklahoma are just the beginning of what's expected to be a busy week of severe weather. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, says the storm system that struck the Southern Plains on Sunday will take aim Monday at Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley states. Forecasters say damaging winds and large hail are the biggest threats Monday, particularly in western Kentucky, northern Mississippi and western Tennessee, including the Memphis area. Bad weather is again in the forecast Tuesday and Wednesday in Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Colorado Islamic center vandalized but community rallies in support

A man tried to break into the Islamic Center of Fort Collins with rocks, outdoor furniture, and even a Bible, resulting in heavy damage to the building's doors and exterior. About 1,000 people gathered later in the day to show support. At about 4:00am local time on Sunday, a man did "quite a bit of damage" to the Islamic Center of Fort Collins, the center said on its Facebook page. The vandal threw large rocks and other objects to break glass doors outside a prayer room, though he did not enter the building. No one was in the facility at the time of the incident. No injuries have been reported, according to local news outlets.

Britain's SAS special forces to increase 'permanent presence' in London after terror attack

Following Wednesday's terrorist attack on the Westminster estate, Britain's SAS special forces will have an expanded permanent presence in the capital, according to reports. The rumors follow the attack on the Houses of Parliament which saw four people killed in a combined car and knife incident. The attacker was shot dead at the scene. The claims were made in the Daily Star tabloid but have not been confirmed.

Where the Trump-bashing & anti-Russian hysteria is leading us

They said the election of Donald Trump would usher in an era of political repression in which the First Amendment would come under attack - and they were right, although not in the way they meant it: "Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories - some fictional - that favored Donald Trump's presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say. "Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as 'bots,' to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said." Aside from sites run by the Russian government, like Russia Today and Sputnik, the targets of the investigation are Breitbart.com, the pro-Trump web site formerly managed by Steve Bannon - now an advisor to the President - and Infowars.com, the "conspiracy" site made famous by entertainer Alex Jones, although the purview of the witch hunt "investigation" is bound to broaden.

'It's a madhouse': Navalny protests were senseless & aimless

Ruslan Ostashko, Live Journal - translated by J. Arnoldski - It's always nice in the morning to read the reactions of the political, media, and spin doctor crowd to some token public event. The unifying characteristic of the wave of analysis thrown into social networks is complete unwillingness by most authors to at least in some sense understand the subject of discussion. They're faced with an entirely different task, namely entering Sunday's events into a specific expert's already ready-made agenda. It turns out that almost everyone spits on the truth. Some are busy promoting the message that "the regime will soon fall and Putin is warming up the helicopter to flee to North Korea" while others are pushing the thesis "Volodin is guilty of everything, he's the one that didn't allow Navalny into the Duma, who needed to be kept handy there as a beacon of democracy." Still others say that too much money is being allocated to propagandize spiritual values in school, yet it turns out that students are en masse coming out for Navalny. It's a madhouse.

Study reveals Britain's poorest children constantly moving house and going hungry

Children growing up in Britain's poorest families are frequently made to move home, travel long distances to school and spend extended periods indoors because of how unsafe their neighborhoods are. In a new study, the Children's Society interviewed 60 children on the problems of living in a low-income family. It found that although poverty affected younger children's social development, the situation became worse for teenagers, as many of them are going hungry in school.

Iraqi President admits civilian deaths in Mosul are miscalculations and mistakes

Though civilians are being killed in Mosul as Iraqi special forces supported by US-led airstrikes retake the city from jihadists, Iraq's president explained in an interview that those deaths are the result of "miscalculations" and "unintended mistakes." "There is coordination between the US coalition and Iraqi security forces, but sometimes it fails. Even after American troops arrived on the ground in Iraq, an incident happened where a group of Peshmerga fighters was killed and their commander survived, but can no longer walk or speak. It was reportedly friendly fire," Fuad Masum told RIA Novosti. "For instance, in the old city there are no proper streets, only paths maybe two meters wide or less. Armor cannot go there and neither can cars. And IS is using this terrain, using people as a human shield," he explained, adding that the terrorists "fire at planes from rooftops and their snipers shoot at Iraqi troops from there. And if we hit them with airstrikes, many people would die."

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