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Islamic State and the crisis in Iraq and Syria in maps

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The US-led coalition against so-called Islamic State (IS) says 98% of territory once claimed by the jihadist group across Iraq and Syria has been recaptured.

Iraq’s government announced in December 2017 that its war against IS was over, almost four years after the group first seized parts of the country.

That month also saw Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announce a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria, after IS was left controlling only a few pockets of land.

The capture of Raqqa by a US-backed alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters in October was seen as a major victory in the battle against IS. The city was the de facto capital of the “caliphate” the group declared.

A few months earlier, in July 2017, Iraqi government forces retook the second city of Mosul, which fell to IS in 2014 when militants routed the Iraqi army.

At its peak, some 10 million people were living in territory under IS control.

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The battle for Raqqa

INTERACTIVEThe Clock tower roundabout in central Raqqa where IS performed several public executions

October 2017

The Clock tower roundabout in central Raqqa where IS performed several public executions

February 2014

The Clock tower roundabout in central Raqqa before IS seized the city

An intensive aerial bombardment by the US-led coalition helped secure victory in Raqqa for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which was formed in 2015 by the the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) militia and a number of smaller, Arab factions. Since early June, coalition planes have carried out almost 4,000 air strikes on the city.

Estimates of the number of casualties vary. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said at least 3,250 people had been killed, among them 1,130 civilians. Other groups say the total was higher.

The UN estimates about 270,000 people fled their homes during the SDF offensive.

The immense task of rebuilding the city may take years. Clearing operations are already under way to uncover any jihadist sleeper cells and remove landmines.

INTERACTIVEThe stadium was the hub of IS intelligence operations in Raqqa

October 2017

The stadium pictured after IS were forced out of Raqqa, October 2017

February 2014

The sports stadium in central Raqqa in February 2014

Rebuilding Mosul is being seen as a major challenge for the Iraqi government. One Iraqi official estimated it would cost $1bn, others have put the figure far higher.

The top US commander in Iraq has also urged the government to “reach out and reconcile with the Sunni population” to prevent “ISIS 2.0 from emerging”.

How did IS spread across Iraq and Syria?

The jihadists exploited the chaos and divisions within both Syria and Iraq.

IS grew out of what was al-Qaeda in Iraq, which was formed by Sunni militants after the US-led invasion in 2003 and became a major force in the country’s sectarian insurgency.

In 2011, the group joined the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, where it found a safe haven and easy access to weapons.

At the same time, it took advantage of the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, as well as widespread Sunni anger at the sectarian policies of the country’s Shia-led government.

In 2013, the group began seizing control of territory in Syria and changed its name to Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis or Isil).

The following year, Isis overran large swathes of northern and western Iraq, proclaimed the creation of a “caliphate”, and became known as “Islamic State”.

A subsequent advance into areas controlled by Iraq’s Kurdish minority, and the killing or enslaving of thousands of members of the Yazidi religious group, prompted the US-led coalition to begin air strikes on IS positions in Iraq in August 2014.

As IS is now being forced out of Iraq and Syria, another problem is the likely resurgence of hostilities between rival groups. In October 2017, Iraqi forces pushed Kurdish Peshmerga fighters back from land they took during the fight against IS around Kirkuk.

Casualties

Exact numbers of casualties from the conflict with IS are not available.

The UN says at least 3,298 civilians were killed in acts of violence in Iraq in 2017, fewer than the 2016 total of 6,878 – although the true figure is likely to be higher as the organisation has been unable to verify some reports of casualties in the Mosul area.

According to Iraq Body Count, the total number of civilian deaths in Iraq since 2014 stood at 68,260 up to the end of February 2018. The annual number of casualties has decreased slightly each year since 2014, from a high of 20,218 in that year to 13,187 in 2017.

The UN no longer keeps track of casualty figures in Syria due to the inaccessibility of many areas and the conflicting reports from the various parties to the war there.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, reported in March 2018 that it had documented the deaths of more than 353,900 people, including 106,000 civilians, since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began 2011.

But it noted that the figure did not include 56,900 people who were missing and presumed dead. It estimated a further 100,000 deaths had not been documented.

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Who is fighting IS?

The US-led coalition has conducted more than 13,300 air strikes against IS targets in Iraq since August 2014.

Most attacks have been carried out by US aircraft, but those from Australia, Belgium, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands and the UK have also taken part. By the end of 2017, 74 countries were said to have joined the US-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria.

In Syria, the air campaign began in September 2014. Since then, more than 14,600 strikes have been carried out by coalition forces, which include Australia, Bahrain, France, Jordan, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and the UK.

The number of strikes each month rose steadily in Iraq up to a peak in January 2016 and then began to fall as the number of strikes in Syria increased dramatically, reaching a high of just over 1,400 in August 2017.

Russia is not part of the coalition, but its jets began air strikes against what it called “terrorists” in Syria in September 2015.

Bar chart showing monthly air strikes in Iraq and Syria

There is little information from official sources about the Russian air strikes. The Institute for the Study of War said evidence suggested Russian planes targeted deep into opposition-held territory, and helped Syrian government forces to retake control of the city of Aleppo in December 2016.

However, Russia warned the US coalition that it would treat its aircraft as targets after the US shot down a Syrian military plane during the assault on Raqqa. The incident led to a suspension of communications between the two sides aimed at avoiding clashes in the air.

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Global reach of IS

Map showing global reach of IS and Al-Qaeda

With the proclamation of a caliphate at the end of June 2014, IS signalled its intention to spread beyond Iraq and Syria.

By August 2016, IS was reported to be operational in 18 countries across the world, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to evidence seen by the US National Counterterrorism Center. It also found signs of what it called “aspiring branches” in Mali, Egypt, Somalia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Since 2016, IS has claimed attacks in a number of countries, including Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, France, Belgium, Germany, the US, Finland and Bangladesh. In 2017, IS claimed to be behind at least two attacks in the UK.

Bar chart showing how many foreign fighters have travelled to Iraq and Syria

The proclamation of the caliphate triggered a surge in the number of foreign fighters travelling to Syria and Iraq to join IS.

According to the head of the UK’s intelligence service, MI5, more than 800 people have travelled from UK to join the conflict in Iraq and Syria – and 130 of them had died.

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How does IS get its funding?

Oil was once the biggest single source of revenue for IS. The group seized control of many oil fields in Syria and Iraq, and sold oil on the black market.

But revenue has fallen since IS lost control of oil-producing areas in northern Syrian and western Iraq, and US-led coalition and Russian air strikes began targeting oil infrastructure.

Bar chart showing how IS revenue has declined since 2014

Income from taxes and fees has also fallen as IS has lost control of major cities like Mosul and Raqqa.

Money obtained by looting and fines initially increased, especially when IS seized Mosul in 2014, but has since declined.

At one point, IS was reported to be so short of funds that it was imposing random fines for offences like driving on the wrong side of the road.

According to a report by IHS Markit, territorial losses are the main factor contributing to IS’s loss of revenue. It says the group’s ability to compensate for financial losses by increasing the fiscal burden on the population it controls appears to have reached its limits.

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Where are the refugees?

Map showing where Syrian refugees have fled to
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More than 5.6 million Syrians have fled abroad to escape the fighting in Syria, according to the UN. Most have ended up in neighbouring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

Almost one million Syrians applied for asylum in Europe between April 2011 and July 2017, according to UN figures.

There are also estimated to be 6.1 million Syrians who have been displaced inside Syria and are living in camps or other makeshift accommodation.

For the first time since the beginning of the crisis in Iraq in December 2013, the number of people returning to their area of origin in the country has surpassed the number of people displaced in the country. By the end of 2017, some 3.2 million people had returned home, while a 2.6 million remained displaced, according to the International Organization for Migration.

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Why is there a war in Syria?

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Why is there a war in Syria?

A peaceful uprising against the president of Syria seven years ago has turned into a full-scale civil war. The conflict has left more than 350,000 people dead, devastated cities and drawn in other countries.

How did the Syrian war start?

Anti-government protesters on the streets of the Syrian city of Deraa on 23 March 2011

Even before the conflict began, many Syrians were complaining about high unemployment, corruption and a lack of political freedom under President Bashar al-Assad, who succeeded his late father Hafez in 2000.

In March 2011, pro-democracy demonstrations erupted in the southern city of Deraa, inspired by the “Arab Spring” in neighbouring countries.

When the government used deadly force to crush the dissent, protests demanding the president’s resignation erupted nationwide.

The unrest spread and the crackdown intensified. Opposition supporters took up arms, first to defend themselves and later to rid their areas of security forces. Mr Assad vowed to crush what he called “foreign-backed terrorism”.

The violence rapidly escalated and the country descended into civil war.

How many people have died?

Child in hospital in Eastern Ghouta

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group with a network of sources on the ground, had documented the deaths of 353,900 people by March 2018, including 106,000 civilians.

The figure did not include 56,900 people who it said were missing and presumed dead. The group also estimated 100,000 deaths had not been documented.

Graphic showing the 353,900 people killed and 56,900 missing in the Syrian civil war, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights,
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Meanwhile, the Violations Documentation Center, which relies on activists inside Syria, has recorded what it considers violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, including attacks on civilians.

It had documented 185,980 battle-related deaths, including 119,200 civilians, by February 2018.

Charts showing the 185,980 battle-related deaths recorded by the Violations Documentation Center broken down by cause
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What is the war about?

Children in Eastern Ghouta, Syria

It is now more than a battle between those for or against Mr Assad.

Many groups and countries – each with their own agendas – are involved, making the situation far more complex and prolonging the fighting.

They have been accused of fostering hatred between Syria’s religious groups, pitching the Sunni Muslim majority against the president’s Shia Alawite sect.

Such divisions have led both sides to commit atrocities, torn communities apart and dimmed hopes of peace.

They have also allowed the jihadist groups Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda to flourish.

Syria’s Kurds, who want the right of self-government but have not fought Mr Assad’s forces, have added another dimension to the conflict.

Who’s involved?

Free Syrian Army fighters

The government’s key supporters are Russia and Iran, while the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia back the rebels.

Russia – which already had military bases in Syria – launched an air campaign in support of Mr Assad in 2015 that has been crucial in turning the tide of the war in the government’s favour.

The Russian military says its strikes only target “terrorists” but activists say they regularly kill mainstream rebels and civilians.

Iran is believed to have deployed hundreds of troops and spent billions of dollars to help Mr Assad.

Thousands of Shia Muslim militiamen armed, trained and financed by Iran – mostly from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, but also Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen – have also fought alongside the Syrian army.

The US, UK, France and other Western countries have provided varying degrees of support for what they consider “moderate” rebels.

A global coalition they lead has also carried out air strikes on IS militants in Syria since 2014 and helped an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) capture territory from the jihadists.

Turkey has long supported the rebels but it has focused on using them to contain the Kurdish militia that dominates the SDF, accusing it of being an extension of a banned Kurdish rebel group in Turkey.

Saudi Arabia, which is keen to counter Iranian influence, has also armed and financed the rebels.

Israel, meanwhile, has been so concerned by shipments of Iranian weapons to Hezbollah in Syria that it has conducted air strikes in an attempt to thwart them.

How has the country been affected?

Children fleeing Eastern Ghouta

As well as causing hundreds of thousands of deaths, the war has left 1.5 million people with permanent disabilities, including 86,000 who have lost limbs.

At least 6.1 million Syrians are internally displaced, while another 5.6 million have fled abroad.

Chart showing the 6.1 million Syrians internally displaced and the 5.6 million who are now refugees
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Neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where 92% of them now live, have struggled to cope with one of the largest refugee exoduses in recent history.

The UN estimates 13.1 million people will require some form of humanitarian help in Syria in 2018.

The warring parties have made the problems worse by refusing aid agencies access to many of those in need. Almost 3 million people live in besieged or hard-to-reach areas.

Map showing where Syrian refugees have fled to
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Syrians also have limited access to healthcare.

Physicians for Human Rights had documented 492 attacks on 330 medical facilities by the end of December 2017, resulting in the deaths of 847 medical personnel.

Chart showing 492 attacks on medical facilities by the end of December 2017, resulting in the deaths of 847 medical personnel

Much of Syria’s rich cultural heritage has also been destroyed. All six of the country’s six Unesco World Heritage sites have been damaged significantly.

Entire neighbourhoods have been levelled across the country.

INTERACTIVESee how Jobar, Eastern Ghouta, has been destroyed

February 2018

Satellite image shows many buildings have been destroyed in the residential neighbourhood of Jowbar

August 2013

Satellite image shows part of the residential neighbourhood of Jowbar in 2013

A recent UN assessment found 93% of buildings had been damaged or destroyed in one district of the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus.

How is the country divided?

A boy in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta

The government has regained control of Syria’s biggest cities but large parts of the country are still held by rebel groups and the Kurdish-led SDF alliance.

The largest opposition stronghold is the north-western province of Idlib, home to more than 2.6 million people.

Map showing territory control in Syria
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Despite being designated a “de-escalation zone”, Idlib is the target of an offensive by the government, which says it is targeting jihadists linked to al-Qaeda.

A ground assault is also under way in the Eastern Ghouta. Its 393,000 residents have been under siege by the government since 2013, and are facing intense bombardment as well as severe shortages of food and medical supplies.

The SDF meanwhile controls most territory east of the River Euphrates, including the city of Raqqa. Until 2017, it was the de facto capital of the “caliphate” proclaimed by IS, which now controls only a few pockets across Syria.

Will the war ever end?

Eastern Ghouta under bombardment

It does not look like it will any time soon but everyone agrees a political solution is required.

The UN Security Council has called for the implementation of the 2012 Geneva Communique, which envisages a transitional governing body “formed on the basis of mutual consent.

But nine rounds of UN-mediated peace talks – known as the Geneva II process – since 2014 have shown little progress.

President Assad has appeared increasingly unwilling to negotiate with the opposition. The rebels still insist he must step down as part of any settlement.

Meanwhile, Western powers have accused Russia of undermining the peace talks by setting up a parallel political process.

The so-called Astana process saw Russia host a “Congress of National Dialogue” in January 2018. However, most opposition representatives refused to attend.

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Gaza violence: Israel defends actions as 55 Palestinians killed

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said his military was acting in self defence during violence on the Gaza border that left dozens of Palestinians dead.

Some 55 were killed and 2,700 wounded by Israeli troops, Palestinian officials said, on the deadliest day of violence since the 2014 Gaza war.

The Palestinian Authority’s leader condemned a “massacre”. The UN spoke of “outrageous human rights violations”.

The violence came as the US opened a controversial embassy in Jerusalem.

The move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv has incensed Palestinians, who claim eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

They see the US move as backing Israeli control over the whole of the city, which Israel regards as its indivisible capital.

What happened at the Gaza border?

Palestinians were demonstrating on Monday as they have been for six weeks as part of a protest, orchestrated by Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, called the “Great March of Return”.

However, Monday’s protests – and more planned for Tuesday – are the culmination, as they mark the anniversary of Israel’s creation in 1948 and what Palestinian’s term the Nakba or Catastrophe, referring to the hundreds of thousands of their people who subsequently fled their homes or were displaced in the war that followed.

Monday also coincided with the dedication ceremony for the US embassy.

Israel said some 40,000 Palestinians had taken part in “violent riots” at 13 locations along the Gaza Strip security fence.

Palestinians hurled stones and incendiary devices, while the Israeli military used tear gas and live fire from snipers.

Mr Netanyahu defended his military, saying: “Every country has an obligation to defend its borders.

“The Hamas terrorist organisation declares its intention to destroy Israel and sends thousands to breach the border fence in order to achieve this goal. We will continue to act with determination to protect our sovereignty and our citizens.”

Map

An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman said soldiers fired on those engaged in “terrorist activity and not on demonstrators, who were dispersed by usual means such as tear gas and according to the rules of engagement”.

Announcing three days of mourning, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said: “Today once again, the massacres against our people continue.”

What has the international reaction been?

There has been a sometimes fiercely conflicting response:

  • White House spokesman Raj Shah said: “The responsibility for these tragic deaths rests squarely with Hamas… Hamas is intentionally and cynically provoking this response”
  • EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and the UK called for restraint
  • Germany said Israel had the right to defend itself but should do so proportionately
  • France’s President Emmanuel Macron condemned violence by the Israeli military against the protesters
  • Turkey said the US shared responsibility with Israel for a “vile massacre” and that it was recalling its ambassadors from both the US and Israel
  • One of the strongest statements came from UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who condemned the “shocking killing of dozens, injury of hundreds by Israeli live fire”
  • South Africa also recalled its ambassador to Israel, condemning “the indiscriminate and grave manner of the latest Israeli attack”

Was the violence linked to the opening of the embassy?

There were clashes between Israeli police and protesters who raised Palestinian flags outside the new embassy in Jerusalem and several protesters were detained.

Hamas had said the border protests were being stepped up for Monday and Tuesday anyway, but Mr Abbas’s response to the US embassy move showed the anger among Palestinians.

He said: “We hear that they opened an embassy today. It is a settlement, not an embassy. A US settlement in East Jerusalem.”

The atmosphere at the dedication ceremony was certainly in stark contrast to that at the Gaza border.

President Donald Trump sent a video message to the event, saying Israel had the “right to determine its own capital”.

US Jerusalem embassy map

His daughter, Ivanka, unveiled the seal of the embassy, and her husband, Jared Kushner, said in his address: “When President Trump makes a promise he keeps it.”

Mr Netanyahu said: “President Trump, by recognising history, you have made history.”

Why is the embassy move so controversial?

The status of Jerusalem goes to the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem is not recognised internationally and, according to the 1993 Israel-Palestinian peace accords, the final status of Jerusalem is meant to be discussed in the latter stages of peace talks.

Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since the 1967 Middle East war. It effectively annexed the sector, though this was not recognised by any countries until Mr Trump’s declaration in December 2017.

Since 1967, Israel has built a dozen settlements, home to about 200,000 Jews, in East Jerusalem. These are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

Various countries once had embassies based in Jerusalem but many moved after Israel passed a law in 1980 formally making Jerusalem its capital.

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Business

Facebook Stock Drops after Reports of FTC – Mark Zuckerberg Is Worried

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It’s no surprise that Zuckerberg’s focusing his attention on improving Facebook. Since it’s officially become the largest past time of the world, fake news has become a menace — something that the Russians allegedly exploited to influence the 2016 US election. Publisher pages cluttering up people’s newsfeed is eclipsing updates from friends and loved ones — a growing complaint amongst Facebook users.

“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent,” Zuckerberg wrote, before reiterating his personal challenge for 2018 is all about fixing these important issues.

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Zuckerberg to sell almost $13 billion worth of shares by mid-2019

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Facebook is facing its biggest test ever—and its lack of leadership could sink the company

Facebook in Congressional crosshairs amid data scandal

Facebook is facing an existential test, and its leadership is failing to address it.

Good leaders admit mistakes, apologize quickly, show up where they’re needed and show their belief in the company by keeping skin in the game. Facebook executives, in contrast, react to negative news with spin and attempts to bury it. Throughout the last year, every time bad news has broken, executives have downplayed its significance. Look at its public statements last year about how many people had seen Russian-bought election ads — first it was 10 million, then it was 126 million. Top execs dodged Congress when it was asking questions about Russian interference. They are selling their shares at a record clip.

The actions of Facebook execs now recall how execs at Nokia and Blackberry reacted after the iPhone emerged. Their revenues kept growing for a couple years — and they dismissed the threats. By the time users started leaving in droves, it was too late.

There’s no outside attacker bringing Facebook down. It’s a circular firing squad that stems from the company’s fundamental business model of collecting data from users, and using that data to sell targeted ads. For years, users went along with the bargain. But after almost a year of constant negative publicity, their patience may be waning.

Facebook did not initially respond to questions or a request for comment from CNBC.

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Trump Plans To Have Death Penalty For Drug Traffickers

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Trump Drug Plan

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s plan to combat opioid drug addiction calls for stiffer penalties for drug traffickers, including the death penalty where it’s appropriate under the current law.

Administration officials say Trump also wants Congress to pass legislation reducing the number of drugs necessary to trigger mandatory minimum sentences on traffickers who knowingly distribute certain illicit opioids.

The president is scheduled to unveil his plan Monday in New Hampshire, a state hard-hit by the crisis. He’ll be accompanied by first lady Melania Trump, who has shown an interest in the issue, particularly as it pertains to children.

Trump has mused openly in recent weeks about subjecting drug dealers to the “ultimate penalty.”

His three-part plan includes multiple steps to raise awareness, cut the illicit drug flow and expand proven treatment options.

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Stephen Hawking, Dead At Age 76

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Stephen Hawking

World famous theoretical physicist, author, and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, passed away in his Cambridge home, earlier today.

One of the foremost minds in his industry, Hawking was not only an important scientific mind but an icon. His book, A Brief History of Time, helped to explain dense scientific concepts to a world of eager readers, and is considered a must-read science primer, even thirty years after its release.

Coupled with his groundbreaking critical academic work on black holes, his life’s work was extraordinary.

Join us, as we take a closer look at Stephen Hawking’s life, his work, and his sad passing.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking, Personally

Stephen Hawking, born in Oxford in 1942, was the son of not one but two University of Oxford attendees. One of three paternal siblings and an adopted brother, Stephen grew up in an intelligent household. The family often spent mealtimes, vacations, and weekends all silently reading.

Spurred on by a school teacher (and his huge natural aptitude), Hawking studied mathematics at Cambridge starting in 1962. Here, he actually quickly became despondent, unimpressed with his supervisor, and disappointed in his own ability to apply mathematics to work in general relativity and cosmology.

In spite of an early diagnosis of motor neuron disease, Hawking used his time at Cambridge to write a thesis on singularities that, essentially, showed how the Big Bang Theory of creation was possible, physically. He won an Adams Prize award (for his essay “Singularities and the Geometry of Space-Time”), obtained his Ph.D., and kickstarted his career with a research fellowship at Gonville and Caius College.

Stephen Hawking, Professionally

In a professional life as long and storied as Stephen Hawking’s, it might be better to list his major accomplishments off than spend too much time on each one, lest I keep you reading for days and weeks.

Here are just ten of his numerous accomplishments and contributions to the world of science:

Co-discovering the four laws of black hole mechanics, a set of properties that black holes are thought to embody. He won the Gravity Research Foundation Award for his essay, “Black Holes”.

His theory that black holes emit Hawking radiation. This is significant because, before this, it was thought that nothing escaped from black holes, and that evidence of the things that had been destroyed by them was always completely lost. This was a controversial theory but is still considered extremely important within the scientific community.

The Hartle-Hawking state model, which proposed that, before the big bang, time did not exist. This is an extremely popular element to the big bang theory and renders the question of “what was the beginning of the universe” essentially meaningless.

A Brief History Of Time, his famous book, in which he discusses cosmology, the big bang, light cones and black holes in a non-technical language. This made it accessible to average readers, which may be why it lived on the bestseller list for 237 weeks. He also wrote numerous other books, before his death,

His contribution to the cosmic inflation theory. Another theory which has since become widely accepted, this idea is that, after the initial big bang that set the universe in motion, there was actually exponential growth in the universe, before it settled into a slower expansion.

Stephen Hawking, On His Illness and Passing

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”

Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963, after becoming increasingly uncoordinated and developing slurred speech. This is a condition that affects and weakens the muscles and impairs your physical ability.

Doctors at the time gave him a life expectancy of two years. With hard work, some clever maneuvering, and the support of his family, he outlasted the condition well into his seventies.

At the time of writing this article, Hawking’s family had not released any information on how he passed away.

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Entertainment

2018 Daytona Bike Week 77th Anniversary Goes Wild

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Daytona Bike Week

Daytona Beach celebrates its 77th Bike Week Anniversary this week. Thousands of bikers from all over the United States headed to the heart of the celebration at Main Street in Daytona Beach. This is by all means one of Daytona’s biggest boost in the local economy. Planning on making your way to Daytona Bike Week? Here are some tips that can come handy.

WHERE?
Daytona Beach is located on the central East Coast of Florida. It is 88 miles south of Jacksonville and 60 miles northeast of Orlando.

WHEN IS BIKE WEEK?
Bike Week centers around the Daytona 200 motorcycle race and a variety of motorcycle racing events and shows at the Daytona International Speedway as well as activities throughout the area.

HOW MANY PEOPLE ATTEND?
Our visitors come from all over the world. There are more languages spoken at Bike Week than at any other time of the year. In 2005, an estimated 700,000+ people came for Bike Week. They stay in hotels, motels, condominiums, and at campgrounds throughout the county.

WHAT IS THERE TO DO?
The Speedway offers a full week of racing excitement including the BMW “Legends of Racing”, dirt track races, the Daytona Supercross by Honda, the Harley-Davidson TwinSports, 600cc SuperSport International Challenge and the Daytona 200 by Arai. Other events include the Harley-Davidson Museum, indoor show and Dresser Light Show, and several other motorcycle shows including vintage and custom bikes, European & Japanese motorcycles, sidecars and trikes. There are concerts, fashion shows, technical seminars and demo rides. You can join in a Poker Run, go to a motorcycle swap meet, learn how to “Stud Your Duds,” or enjoy one of the several free bar-b-ques.

While visiting here, the cyclists travel north to St. Augustine, south to the Kennedy Space Center and west to Orlando and even Tampa. However, one of the biggest activities of Bike Week is watching the other people and their machines, especially on Main Street in Daytona Beach.

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Business

Broadcom’s Qualcomm Takeover Blocked by President Donald Trump

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Broadcom's Qualcomm Takeover Blocked by President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump has blocked Broadcom’s $117 billion bid for Qualcomm, citing national security concerns. The United States is particularly worried that the takeover could boost China’s influence in 5G technology. We asked foreign investment and technology research experts to share their thoughts on the decision.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Monday blocking the impending takeover of the chipmaker Qualcomm by its Singapore-based rival Broadcom.

In doing so, he most likely sent millions in advisory fees for those working on the bid up in smoke.

Moelis & CompanyCitiDeutsche BankJPMorganBank of America Merrill Lynch, and Morgan Stanley were advising Broadcom on the merger. Those banks would have shared $110 million to $135 million in fees if the deal had completed, Jeffrey Nassof, a director at the consulting firm Freeman & Co., told Business Insider in November when the bid was first announced.

Bank of America, Citi, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, and Morgan Stanley were also helping arrange debt financing, while Silver Lake Partners had agreed to supply $5 billion in convertible debt financing.

Qualcomm had resisted the takeover offer, hiring Goldman Sachs and Evercore to aid its defense. Had the deal gone ahead, Goldman Sachs and Evercore could have made $120 million to $145 million in fees, according to Nassof.

Now that the deal has been blocked, Qualcomm’s advisers are likely to see some payout, though it’s not clear how much.

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Business

World’s biggest Cryptocurrency ‘theft’

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World's biggest Cryptocurrency 'theft'

One of Japan’s largest digital currency exchanges says it has lost some $534 million worth of virtual assets in a hacking attack.

The largest cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck, was hit by the biggest such theft on record, eclipsing the estimated $400 million in bitcoins stolen from Mt Gox in 2014.

The stolen Coincheck assets were said to be kept in a “hot wallet” – a part of the exchange connected to the internet. That contrasts with a cold wallet, where funds are stored securely offline. Coincheck says it had the digital address of where the assets were sent.

The exchange promised to use cash from its own funds to pay out $534 million toward covering its users’ losses. That’s about 25% less than the total value of the virtual cryptocurrencies that were stolen.

Details on how the breach happend! 

Hackers broke in at 02:57 on Friday, the exchange company said in a statement, but the breach was not discovered until 11:25, nearly eight and a half hours later. Company chief operating officer Yusuke Otsuka said 523m NEMs had been sent from Coincheck’s NEM address during the breach.

He told reporters at the Tokyo Stock Exchange that “It’s worth 523 million based on the calculation at the rate when detected.”

Coincheck said that the hack “has caused immense distress to our customers, other exchanges, and people throughout the cryptocurrency industry.” The exchange said, “We would like to offer our deepest and humblest apologies to all of those involved.” It has currently suspended trading in all virtual currencies apart from bitcoin.

Among the other crypto-currencies, Bitcoin dropped 5% and Ripple retreated 10% on Friday, according to prices seen by the price analysts. More was lost on Friday than in 2014, when MtGox lost what it thought was 850,000 bitcoins stollen.

“In a worst-case scenario, we may not be able to return clients’ assets,” an unnamed Coincheck representative was quoted as saying on Saturday by Japan’s Kyodo news agency. After the collapse of MtGox shook the digital currency world, a licensing system was introduced in Japan to increase oversight of local currency exchanges such as Coincheck.

 

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Vine 2 Release Date | Is Vine 2 A Thing?

Ako Stark

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Vine 2 Realse Date

Quick history: Vine was developed by Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll in June 2012. Vines were short looping videos that have inspired, entertained, and given rise to a creative community since 2012. From break-out comedians to musicians to fandom edits and sports, Vine had an incredible amount of growth and hype during its first 12 months of existence.

The Vine app was discontinued by Twitter (its parent company) on January 17th 2017, after failing to keep up with competing apps like Instagram. Given that the app still had a relatively active community, users were obviously really disappointed to hear the new—especially given that so many great videos had been shared on the platform over the years.

Twitter decided to turn Vine into a camera app (available for IOS and Android) so that users could at least still have some kind of app that would allow them to create fun, six-second videos that they could post to Twitter or save to their devices. Unfortunately that did not work out to well as majority of the community disliked the new implementation and gave the app horrible reviews which decrease the Vine camera reviews to 1.5 stars. 

They also put the website Vine.co online which is still available to access but website only features the old vines that had massive hits.

Now it looks like the dead Vine could be set to make a dramatic comeback.

This makes many people wonder “Is Vine 2 A Thing? 

Dom Hoffman, has been tweeting about-hinting that his been working on developing the new version of original Vine.  He stated “I’m going to work on a follow-up to vine. I’ve been feeling it myself for some time and have seen a lot of tweets, dms, etc.”

Hoffman, called it the “Vine 2” which is now 100% official!

He also tweeted the follow-up tweet that quote “I’m funding it myself as an outside project, so it doesn’t interfere with the (quite exciting) work we’re doing at the company, which is my first priority.”

Vine 2 Realse Date is not yet set but Hoffman launched the V2 community forums on January 17.

What are these forums for?

V2 Community forums were created to gather feedback and discuss ideas everyone has, but Hoffman anticipate’s that much of the conversation on these forums will be initiated by the community itself. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are a few ideas:

  • Artists and creators: Their experiences, hopes, and dreams
  • Viewers: Meaningful conversation and analysis about their favorite kinds of videos
  • Peoples thoughts on online videos in general
  • Peoples ideas and wishes for the service
  • Improvements that they could make to the V2 forum to make it more fun and easier to use

As of right now V2 does not have anything official. There is No official Vine 2 release date. There is NO official Instagram account. There is NO official merchandise. There is NO official chat. There are** NO** other official sites, Twitter accounts, beta offers, or apps.

Only way to get any informative information about the Vine 2 Release Date is to follow Dom Hoffman on tweeter or become the member of the Vine 2 Forum community where he himself and the staff actively update the announcements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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