Saving Ukraine: Looking for a world leader to stup


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The world has rallied behind the Churchillian figure of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for his bravery resilience in the defense of his country. Zelenskyy in his speeches has thrown down the gauntlet to world leaders by telling them to stup do more to help.

“Slava Ukraini (glory to Ukraine),” was how Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson ended a video address to Ukrainians last week. His opening remarks were also in Ukrainian. Johnson speaks regularly to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, observers think he could be the world leader to shine in absence of strong U.S. leadership.  

Last week following the Russian attack on the Ukrainian nuclear station Johnson immediately called for a U.N. Security Council meeting on the attack, Monday in London, Johnson seemed to be leading the way as he stood alongside the Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte Canada’s Justin Trudeau to rally international support for Ukraine.  

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During his press conference Johnson announced that so far, the U.K. had given around $500,000 of aid to Ukraine said the moment had come for “Ukraine’s friends to create a coalition of humanitarian, economic defensive military support to ensure that Putin fails.” 

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to deliver an address on the attack by Russia on Ukraine
(Jeff Mitchell /Pool Photo via AP)

Speaking as if he had taken it upon himself to lead a type of coalition of the willing, Johnson noted that Putin “has underestimated the unity of the West. And we will continue to strengthen that unity in the days ahead to ensure that Putin fails in this catastrophic invasion of Ukraine.” 

Johnson was part of a secure video call with President Biden the leaders of France Germany on Monday, during which they discussed the latest in the crisis, according to a readout from the White House, as well as underscoring their commitment to assist Ukraine. Observers worry that while the U.S. is playing a leading pivotal role in the Ukraine crisis, there is still a perceived lack of leadership coming from the president. 

“Biden is not the leader of the free world right now, for an American president to cede that role is career-threatening,” Alan Mendoza the executive director of the Henry Jackson Society in Engltold Fox News Digital. 

Mendoza believes Boris Johnson is one world leader who could be capable of filling the void on the world stage, even with an embarrassing scandal during the COVID crisis noting his impressive leadership skills. 

 “With the future of the free world in the balance, we clearly have bigger problems than debating the minutiae of coronavirus regulations. But I think the crisis also plays to his strengths as a communicator a visionary — Boris has always been good about creating a clear message about an issue, creating the intellectual space for it in a public forum, then working with others to provide the detail. It was the secret of his success as London mayor, for the first time he has been able to transpose it to the world stage.” 

Clifford May, founder, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD,) told Fox News Digital, “Johnson has been articulate as always. More substantively, he’s pushing for the expulsion of ‘every Russian bank from SWIFT.’ He’s recognized that Europe needs to ‘wean itself off’ Russian oil gas. And he’s on the record opposing ‘creeping normalization’ of Putin’s aggression. All that is helpful.” 

Other world leaders who are getting some notice on the world stage include Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. Bennett traveled to Moscow for a surprise visit with Putin over the weekend. Bennett was reportedly given the blessing by the U.S. for the meeting to try mediate between the two sides.   

Israel has good relations with both Ukraine Russia, Bennett is seen as having good ties to Zelenskyy, whom he has been in constant contact with over the last few days. Bennett also flew to meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz before going back to Israel, according to the Associated Press. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
(Sputnik/Evgeny Biyatov/Kremlin via REUTERS)

Clifford May said Bennett needed to be applauded but that his task isn’t an easy one. 

“Bennett is doing his best to be an honest broker. The Israelis are in a tough position because Russian military forces are — literally, not figuratively — just across their northern border in Syria, a nation that has been ravaged thanks to Putin of course his friends in Tehran. Will Bennett’s diplomatic efforts succeed? Highly doubtful but I give him an A for effort.” 

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is another name being touted as someone who has taken a ston Russia having changed a years-old policy path on his country’s dealings with them. May told Fox News Digital, “The most dramatic transition we’ve seen is Germany. Olaf Scholz now appears to recognize that Putin is a threat to Germany the European Union.” 

Yet while Scholz has changed his country’s post-war policy of not supplying lethal weapons to war zones by allowing weapons to be sent to Ukraine. The Associated Press reported that those included the shipment 1000 anti-tank weapons 500 Stinger surface-to air-missiles. 

Yet still an Achilles heel for the Germans some others in the European Union is their dependency on Russian energy. Reuters reported that Scholz on Monday said in a statement that sanctioning the Russian energy sector was still not on the cards.  

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivers a speech on the Russian invasion of the Ukraine

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivers a speech on the Russian invasion of the Ukraine
(AP Photo/Michael Sohn)

The FDD’s May concluded that Scholz “seems to understand, as his predecessor, Angela Merkel, never did, that close commercial ties with Russia would not be of mutual benefit. Scholz needs to do more — for example, he needs to persuade former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder to sever his lucrative links with Putin — but what we’ve seen over recent days is encouraging.” 

Yet while France tries to play a role in the crisis, especially on the humanitarian front, Alan Mendoza from the Henry Jackson Society says Macron has been an under-performer so far. 

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“Macron is playing domestic politics for his re-election is being typically different to the rest of Europe in order to show his voters France still has a voice,” Mendoza said, adding that it’s working since nobody thinks he is any danger of losing the election that is set for this coming April. 





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Russian-born U.S. citizen slams censorship, says for many Russians, ‘the war doesn’t exist’


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As Russian forces lay siege to Ukrainian cities shell sites throughout the country, Russians to the north are largely unaware of how severe the war has become due to rampant censorship misinformation, according to a Russian-born U.S. citizen who now lives in Texas. 

Putin has cracked down on dissenting voices who don’t toe the Kremlin’s line, blocking foreign social media platforms in the country shutting down independent news outlets. 

As a result, normal Russians are being fed a warped view of the Ukrainian invasion, which Russian authorities insist must be called a “special military operation” under threat of up to 15 years in prison. 

“Russians don’t understthe whole severity of the situation. I’m looking at their social media stuff they’re posting, it’s almost like the war is not happening,” Vadim Ismakaev, who was born in Omsk, Russia, moved to the U.S. when he was 18-years-old, told Fox News Digital. 

“They’re going about their lives, they’re posting pictures from restaurants all those things that, to me, is kind of bewildering, because of the severity of everything that is going on. But that’s the reality, for so many people, the war doesn’t exist.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin has attempted to silence non-state media.   
(Yuri Kochetkov/Pool Photo via AP)

Putin Russian intelligence agencies are infamous for their ruthless information warfare tactics, which were on full display during the Russia-Georgia war in 2008, Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. 

“This whole information strategy that Russia has been implementing now for many years — it’s doing its job it goes to show you just how dangerous something like this is,” Ismakaev said, noting that he still maintains close contact with friends family back home in Russia. “Even when something is so black white, it’s still possible to make a large chunk of the population be either indifferent or be on the wrong side of the story.” 

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As fierce resistance from Ukrainian soldiers appeared to slow down the Russians’ advance, authorities to the north decided to step things up. 

“[Russians] went ahead just figured, ‘Let’s ban any potential source of truth out there let’s make sure that it’s going to be heavily penalized,’” Ismakaev said. “The divide keeps on growing in how the general Russian population sees the war how the rest of the world sees the war.”

Russia’s state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor cut access to several foreign news outlets last week, including the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Voice of America. Russians can also no longer access several social media platforms, such as Facebook Twitter. 

“Soon millions of ordinary Russians will find themselves cut off from reliable information, deprived of their everyday ways of connecting with family friends silenced from speaking out,” Nick Clegg, the president of global affairs at Facebook’s parent company, Meta, said last week. 

ZELENSKYY CALLS FOR NO-FLY ZONE OVER UKRAINE, ‘BOYCOTTS’ OF RUSSIAN OIL ON DAY 12 OF INVASION

Some Russians have taken to the streets to protest Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but Ismakaev said it would take more coordinated efforts awareness to make a difference. 

“If you think about Moscow, a city of almost 20 million people – how many people went out to protest? It’s a very small number,” he said. 

Russian Police officers detain a woman during an unsanctioned protest rally against the military invasion on Ukraine, March, 6,2022, in Central Moscow, Russia. 

Russian Police officers detain a woman during an unsanctioned protest rally against the military invasion on Ukraine, March, 6,2022, in Central Moscow, Russia. 
(Konstantin Zavrazhin/Getty Images)

While Russians have been cut off from any information that isn’t pre-approved by state media, harsh sanctions coordinated by the U.S. Europe are already hitting everyday Russians. 

“This war is terrible tragedy — it already forever changed the world,” Ismakaev, whose girlfriend is Ukrainian, said Monday. 

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“At the same time, while we all are well aware about the tragedy that’s happening in Ukraine, we need to understthat there is a whole other tragedy happening in Russia as well with a lot of people who are actually against the war,” he said. “The economy is crumbling. The regular state of things is no longer there. People are still processing what exactly that new reality is going to look like.”



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Russian official says ‘Iran got much more than it expected’ in revived nuclear talks


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A Russian diplomat taking part in renewed talks with Iran said Tehran got much more than anyone expected as it negotiated with other nations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

“Iranian colleagues are fighting for [their] national interest like lions,” Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov said in a video interview posted online by Polaris NatSec. “They fight for every comma, every word, as a rule, quite successfully.”

IRAN NEARING NUCLEAR THRESHOLD, WITH US OPTIONS TO STOP IT NARROWING, REPORT WARNS 

A nuclear agreement involving the United States, China, Russia Iran is expected within days, officials previously told Fox News. The talks have been mired in uncertainty after Russia made last-minute demands that assure guarantees that the sanctions it faces over its invasion of Ukraine will not hurt trade with Iran. 

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) set limits on Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for a significant rollback of international sanctions. The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the deal amid concerns that the agreement did not do enough to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions — including the sunset clauses on restrictions.

Iran pulled out of the deal after the Trump administration imposed sanctions. 

In the video, Ulyanov praised the Chinese over their role in the negotiations said they worked well with Russia during the talks. 

“I am absolutely sincere in this regard when I say that Iran got much more than it could expect,” he said. “Our Chinese friends were also very efficient useful as co-negotiators.”

“I can recollect dozens of such cases when on rather serious, significant questions, we managed together to get positive results close to what we wanted to achieve,” he added. 

The Biden administration has sought to revive the nuclear deal, but talks stalled after Iranian leaders demanded a significant reduction in sanctions. 

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Over the weekend, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said sanctions on Russia over its Ukraine invasion were not related to the potential nuclear deal with Iran. 

“These things are totally different just are not, in any way, linked together. So I think that’s irrelevant,” Blinken said in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Fox News’ Rich Edson Adam Shaw contributed to this report. 



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Spiders that hunt in groups synchronise their movement to catch prey


Some spider species that live in groups of thousands on enormous webs synchronise their movements to catch insects up to 700 times heavier than an individual spider

Life



7 March 2022

Some spider species hunt in packs, moving as one to catch their prey

Spiders that hunt in packs use web vibrations to coordinate their attacks, allowing them to kill prey hundreds of times larger than they could on their own.

Of the 50,000 known spider species, just one or two hunt as a group, with thousands of individuals spread across webs that can span several cubic metres. When prey insects lon their web, the spiders synchronise their attack, moving as one to catch animals up to 700 times heavier than an individual arachnid.

To better understhow this works, researchers disturbed the webs of two colonies of Anelosimus eximius, a social spider species. They mimicked the movement of prey by creating vibrations in different parts of the webs, while filming the spiders’ movements.

The team then analysed the movements frame by frame, finding that the spiders pause their motion towards prey, restart it, at the same time.

The stopping time corresponded with the amount of “noise” in the web, according to computer models of the spiders’ motion. The arachnids only stayed still for as long as they had to in order to distinguish the vibrations caused by their fellow spiders from those of their prey.

“It’s like when there are lots of people talking in a crowded room then there’s this other noise, like a telephone that rings, everyone has to hush to find the source of the noise,” says Raphaël Jeanson at the University of Toulouse, France. “Of course, the louder the telephone’s ring, the less people have to be quiet to find the phone it’s the same thing with these social spiders.”

“Depending on the size of the prey – the vibrations that the prey creates on the web – the spiders have to be more or less quiet still in order to localise the prey without getting disturbed by the vibrations of other spiders that are moving around,” says Jeanson.

After the spiders come to a collective halt, the group starts moving when one or two individuals become mobile, with there being no sign of a leader among the pack. “We don’t know how it works exactly, but when one of them moves, it sets them all moving,” he says. “It’s really a snowball effect.”

Synchronised hunting means the spiders can catch butterflies, grasshoppers other flying insects, which struggle to free themselves from the web.

The webs of these social spiders aren’t sticky, so the spiders have to act quickly to avoid their prey escaping. The stop-start approach does extend the hunt, but it may be time well spent. “If they all arrive at the same time, there’s a strength in numbers that’s really beneficial compared to a disordered arrival of individual spiders that get lost in the web along the way. There’s a clear advantage of synchronisation despite the costs of the waiting time,” says Jeanson.

The spiders also time when they eject an immobilising glue from their hind legs bite their prey, injecting a venom.

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Domestication: Geese may have been the first birds kept by humans 7000 years ago


Goose bones from Stone Age China suggest the birds were being domesticated there 7000 years ago, which could mean they were domesticated before chickens

Humans



7 March 2022

Chinese geese (Anser cygnoides f. domestica)

blickwinkel/AGAMI/M. Guyt/Alamy

Geese may have been domesticated as early as 7000 years ago in what is now China, according to a study of preserved goose bones. That may make them the first bird to be domesticated, before chickens – although the timing of chicken domestication is uncertain.

The finding extends the history of goose domestication potentially the history of domestic poultry as a whole, says Masaki Eda at Hokkaido University Museum in Sapporo, Japan.

Eda is part of a team that has excavated an archaeological site in east China called Tianluoshan, which was a Stone Age village between about 7000 5500 years ago. Its inhabitants “were basically hunter-gatherers”, says Eda, but they also grew rice in paddy fields.

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The researchers have identified 232 goose bones at Tianluoshan say there are multiple lines of evidence that some of the geese were at least partially domesticated.

Four of the bones belonged to immature geese that were less than 16 weeks old, with the youngest probably less than eight weeks old. This implies they must have hatched at Tianluoshan, says Eda, because they were too young to have flown in from elsewhere. However, no wild geese breed in the area today it is unlikely they did so 7000 years ago, he says.

Some of the adult geese also seem to have been locally bred, based on the chemical make-up of their bones, which reflects the water they drank. These locally bred birds were all roughly the same size, indicating captive breeding. Finally, the researchers carbon-dated the bones found that the locally bred geese lived about 7000 years ago.

Taken together, the findings suggest the geese were at an early stage of domestication, says Eda.

“It’s a major study in our understanding of poultry domestication,” says Ophélie Lebrasseur at the Centre for Anthropobiology Genomics of Toulouse in France. “They’ve been very thorough.”

“The main thing that stood out for me is the fact they actually did radiocarbon dating on the bird bones,” says Julia Best at Cardiff University in the UK. This makes the dating much more reliable than if they had simply dated the surrounding sediment.

If geese were domesticated 7000 years ago, that would make them the first bird to be domesticated, says Eda. The other candidate is chickens, but there has been a dispute over when where this first happened.

Chickens were probably domesticated from wild birds called red junglefowl, which live in southern Asia. However, genetics has complicated the story, revealing that domestic chickens subsequently interbred with other birds like the grey junglefowl.

A study published in 2014 reported that chickens were domesticated in northern China as early as 10,000 years ago, based on DNA from bones. However, it isn’t clear that red junglefowl ever lived that far north, says Lebrasseur. Furthermore, the bones weren’t directly dated “a lot of the things they claimed were chickens were pheasants”, says Best. Firm evidence of domestic chickens only appears from around 5000 years ago, she says.

This implies geese were domesticated before chickens, says Lebrasseur. “With the evidence we currently have, I think it is true,” she says. But she adds that bird domestications are understudied compared with those of mammals like dogs cows, so the story could well change as more evidence emerges.

It is very difficult to say why the geese were domesticated, says Eda. Meat, eggs, feathers bone tools are all possibilities, they may have been used in ritual ceremonies. “One of the things we see with chickens is they’re often held in high esteem when they’re first domesticated,” says Best.

Journal reference: PNAS, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2117064119

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