An older missing link

Missy posted this fascinating article:

A new find in the Eastern Mediterranean has led some scientists to believe that there is a possibility that humankind began there rather than in Africa as previously believed.

The fossil find is approximately 200,000 years earlier than believed to be the beginning of humans. The scientists believe that this find shows the beginning of the change from apes to humans.

That’s an accurate description, less so the headline and opening paragraph.

From: Europe was the birthplace of mankind, not Africa, scientists find

The history of human evolution has been rewritten after scientists discovered that Europe was the birthplace of mankind, not Africa.

That’s not what was found. The new discovery is of human fossils from Europe that are older than the oldest ones found in Africa, but that doesn’t rule out older human ancestors having lived in  Africa or elsewhere.

The new discovery just sets the timeline back a bit more, but there is still a lot that’s unknown.

Currently, most experts believe that our human lineage split from apes around seven million years ago in central Africa, where hominids remained for the next five million years before venturing further afield.

But two fossils of an ape-like creature which had human-like teeth have been found in Bulgaria and Greece, dating to 7.2 million years ago.

The discovery of the creature, named Graecopithecus freybergi, and nicknameded ‘El Graeco’ by scientists, proves our ancestors were already starting to evolve in Europe 200,000 years before the earliest African hominid.

An international team of researchers say the findings entirely change the beginning of human history and place the last common ancestor of both chimpanzees and humans – the so-called Missing Link – in the Mediterranean region.

It doesn’t “entirely change the beginning of human history”, it just provides another piece of the jigsaw that pushes knowledge back a another couple of hundred thousand years – if the dating is accurate.

The article also says as much.

“To some extent this is a newly discovered missing link. But missing links will always exist , because evolution is infinite chain of subsequent forms.

Probably  El Graeco’s face will resemble a great ape, with shorter canines.”

Someone has had a shot at visualising that.

An artist's impression of Graecopithecus 

An artist’s impression of Graecopithecus 
Credit: National Museum of Natural History – Sofia, Assen Ignatov

Fascinating, but this is unlikely to be the first link in the human chain.

And another point:

During the period the Mediterranean Sea went through frequent periods of drying up completely, forming a land bridge between Europe and Africa and allowing apes and early hominids to pass between the continents.

If the Mediterranean was dried up completely then Africa and Europe were effectively not separate continents, they were part of a continuous land mass.

UK & Europe

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UK & Europe – French election

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The first round of the French presidential election is due to be held next weekend, on 23 April. There are 11 candidates, and if no candidate wins a majority the top two candidates will have a run-off election on 7 May.

Current president François Hollande of the Socialist Party (PS) has had low approval ratings and won’t stand for re-election.

Front running candidates:

Fillon’s chances took a hit when it was alleged that he has used family members in fictitious jobs as parliamentary assistants in what became known as Penelopegate.

And now French prosecutors seek to lift Le Pen immunity over expenses inquiry

French prosecutors have asked the European parliament to lift the immunity of the far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen over an expenses scandal, deepening her legal woes on the eve of the election.

The move comes just nine days before France heads to the polls for a highly unpredictable vote, with Le Pen – who heads the Eurosceptic Front National (FN) – one of the frontrunners in the 23 April first round.

The request was made at the end of last month after Le Pen, who is a member of the European parliament, invoked her parliamentary immunity in refusing to attend questioning by investigating magistrates.

From the Guardian: French elections: all you need to know

UK & Europe – Maundy Thursday

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Missy posts from London:

I know many on here don’t care about the Royal Family – or christianity, but I do love the traditions around both, and Maundy Thursday is one such tradition.

Today HM went to Leicester Cathedral to dispense coins for Maundy Thursday – though these days they are not a case of distributing coins to the poor, but rather a ceremony of dispensing especially minted coins to those specially selected who serve the community.

The Queen has now conducted Maundy service in every Anglican Cathedral.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/13/smiling-queen-charms-maundy-money-recipients-leicester-cathedral/


Daily Mail: Germany urges Kosovo to pass border deal with Montenegro

Germany’s foreign minister urged Kosovo’s political parties on Thursday to approve the border demarcation agreement with Montenegro to end their status as the only Western Balkan country without free travel rights in Schengen zone countries.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-4408800/Germany-calls-Kosovo-pass-border-deal-Montenegro.html#ixzz4e9IVgDO5
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-4408800/Germany-calls-Kosovo-pass-border-deal-Montenegro.html
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

 

UK & Europe

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BBC: No G7 deal on Russia sanctions over Syria

The UK proposal fails to win support, with the US secretary of state now in Moscow for talks.

BBC: Syria: Boris Johnson denies defeat over sanctions call

The UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has denied he suffered a “defeat” after the G7 group of nations rejected his proposal for sanctions against Russia.

The two-day meeting of foreign ministers was aimed at hammering out a unified approach to Syria before the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went to Moscow.

The plan was put forward at the G7 summit in Italy in the wake of a deadly chemical attack the countries say was carried out by Moscow’s ally, Syria.

Italy’s foreign minister said the group did not want to back Russia into a corner and preferred dialogue.

The Lib Dem leader Tim Farron called it a “failure of British diplomacy”.

Mr Johnson denied he had suffered a defeat, saying there was support for sanctions if further evidence of the chemical attack were gathered.

One thing that did appear to unite the group was the future of Mr Assad.

Mr Tillerson summed it up, saying: “It is clear to all of us that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end.”

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BBC: Russian arrested in Spain ‘over US election hacking’

Spanish police have arrested a Russian programmer for alleged involvement in “hacking” the US election, Spanish press reports have said.

Pyotr Levashov, arrested on 7 April in Barcelona, has now been remanded in custody.

A “legal source” also told the AFP news agency that Mr Levashov was the subject of an extradition request by the US.

El Confidencial, a Spanish news website, has said that Mr Levashov’s arrest warrant was issued by US authorities over suspected “hacking” that helped Donald Trump’s campaign.

Mr Levashov’s wife Maria also told Russian broadcaster RT that the arrest was made in connection with such allegations.

Several cybersecurity experts, including Brian Krebs, have also linked Mr Levashov to a Russian spam kingpin, who uses the alias Peter Severa.

 

UK & Europe

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The Syrian missile attacks have blown up UK-Russian relations.

Guardian: Russia hits back at UK and Boris Johnson over cancelled Moscow visit

Russian officials have launched a scathing attack on the UK over Boris Johnson’s decision to cancel an upcoming trip to Moscow due to increased tensions about Syria, threatening to bring relations to a new low.

The foreign secretary faced criticism at home and abroad on Sunday for postponing the visit, prompting his allies to say critics had put “polls and politics above sorting out a civil war”.

With the repercussions continuing from last week’s chemical weapons attack on civilians in Khan Sheikhun and a retaliatory US strike on a Syrian government airbase, the Russian foreign ministry and embassy in London belittled Britain’s role in the crisis.

The move showed a “fundamental misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of the events in Syria, Russia’s efforts to settle that crisis and the general objectives of diplomacy”, the Russian foreign ministry said. “The decision to call off Johnson’s visit to Moscow confirms once again doubts in the presence of added value in speaking to the UK, which does not have its own position on the majority of present-day issues, nor does it have real influence on the course of international affairs, as it remains ‘in the shadow’ of its strategic partners. We do not feel that we need dialogue with London any more than it does.”

Russia’s embassy in London, meanwhile, said it was “deplorable” that Johnson felt unable to meet his counterpart Sergei Lavrov. It tweeted mocking polls, including one that sought views on Donald Trump “as a wartime leader and Johnson as his lieutenant”.

Not a good sign.

A war of tweets is a new way to carry out international insults diplomacy – Trump already has a legacy.

UK & Europe

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe. Article 50 (Brexit) formally triggered.

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Missy has been posting on the news of the truck attack in Sweden (thanks), here is an updated from The Guardian:

Stockholm truck drives into crowd, killing three people

At least three people have been killed and eight injured after a truck drove into pedestrians in a busy shopping area of central Stockholm, according to police.

Officers said they were treating the incident as terror-related and the prime minister, Stefan Löfven, said everything indicated it was a terror attack.

The truck, a delivery vehicle belonging to the brewery Spendrups, was hijacked earlier in the day. The company confirmed it was stolen on Friday morning when a man jumped into the cab and drove it away.

Police also confirmed shots were fired at another location, according to media reports. When the truck drove into the crowd, a man fled carrying a weapon, according to a reporter at the scene.

In recent years, several hundred young Swedes have travelled to Syria to join Isis, making Sweden one of the main sources of European recruits to the Islamist group.

If the event is confirmed to be a terrorist attack, it will be the first in Sweden since an Iraqi-born Swedish man exploded two bombs in Stockholm in 2010, one of which killed him. No one else was injured.

UK & Europe

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe. Article 50 (Brexit) formally triggered.

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UK & Europe – Brexit financial impact

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe. Article 50 (Brexit) formally triggered.

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An impact of Brexit could be the loss of ” euro-denominated clearing” from London.


Guardian: Up to 100,000 UK jobs at risk as Merkel and Juncker ally warns on euro clearing

The future of an estimated 100,000 jobs has been plunged into doubt after a close political ally of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and president of the European commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, warned that a prized sector in the City of London must relocate to EU soil after Brexit.

Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre-right European people’s party – the largest political group in the European parliament, to which both the German chancellor and the commission president belong – told reporters that euro-denominated clearing could no longer be undertaken in the City when the UK leaves the EU.

“EU citizens decide on their own money,” Weber said during a press conference in Strasbourg on Tuesday. “When the UK is leaving the European Union it is not thinkable that at the end the whole euro business is managed in London. This is an external place, this is not an EU place any more. The euro business should be managed on EU soil.”

Such a development would be a huge blow to the British economy. Six months ago, the head of the London Stock Exchange, Xavier Rolet, said at least 100,000 positions could be lost if the City’s clearing houses lost their ability to process euro-denominated transactions.

Clearing houses are independent parties that sit between the two parties in a trade and are tasked with managing the risk if one side defaults on payment. London clears around three-quarters of all euro-denominated trades.

Brexit was always going to have some down sides for the UK.