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Monday, Dec 18, 2017
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Strange duck-like dinosaur discovered; Halifax remembers 1917 great explosion; neo-fascists attack newspaper; more in world news

France

What the duck?

With a bill like a duck but teeth like a croc’s, a swanlike neck and killer claws, a new dinosaur species uncovered by scientists looks like something Dr. Seuss could have dreamed up. It also had flippers like a penguin, and while it walked like an ostrich, it also could swim. That’s the first time swimming ability has been shown for a two-legged, meat-eating dinosaur. The creature, only about 18 inches tall, roamed 75 million years ago in what is now Mongolia. Its full curled-up skeleton was found in a sandstone rock. "It’s such a peculiar animal," said Dennis Voeten, a paleontology researcher at Palacky University in the Czech Republic. In a study released Wednesday by the journal Nature, Voeten and co-authors named it Halszkaraptor escuilliei or "Halszka" after the late Polish paleontologist Halszka Osmolska. Paleontologist Kristi Curry Rogers of Macalester College in Minnesota, who didn’t participate in the study, called it "a pretty crazy chimera." Its mashup body let it run and hunt on the ground and fish in fresh water, said study co-author Paul Tafforeau. He’s a paleontologist at France’s ESRF, a powerful X-ray generator where numerous tests were made on the fossil. Researchers used the Synchrotron to create three-dimensional images of the fossil, which showed the creature was a single animal and not a concoction built up from several sources.

Canada

City remembers a century after Halifax’s great explosion

To much of the world, Halifax is linked to the sinking of the Titanic because many of its victims’ bodies were brought here to be buried. But residents of Halifax, and Canadians in general, associate the city with an even more deadly maritime disaster: an explosion in 1917 after a seemingly minor harbor collision between a French munitions ship and a Norwegian vessel carrying food aid to Belgium. The blast leveled much of the north end of the city, killed about 2,000 people and injured perhaps 10,000 others, including nearly 600 people who were blinded, mainly by shattered glass. The explosion brought the terror and death of World War I to North America. Some experts say not until the atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima did the world witness an artificial explosion that produced more casualties, covered a larger area, destroyed more property and produced more explosive force. Reminders of the explosion’s centennial were impossible to escape this week. Plays, special exhibitions, films, events and other commemorations are spread throughout the city. On Wednesday, as is the case every Dec. 6, a crowd gathered amid heavy rain in the heart of the blast zone, which was left unbuilt to serve as a memorial park. Exactly who was to blame for the explosion still remains unclear. This year, effort is being made to tell stories that have long been overlooked, such as the accounts from the large black population in Halifax’s Africville neighborhood and from the First Nations community of Mi’kmaw living in Tufts Cove.

England

Good Samaritans fly home woman’s ashes

An American couple returned the cremated remains of a British woman to her relatives in England, nearly 40 years after she was killed in South Dakota. Lena White Hat was attacked and strangled in 1977 in Rapid Valley, but she had no family in the U.S. other than her American husband, who died two years later. Sharon Papen learned about her aunt’s ashes while researching family history. She claimed the ashes earlier this year but lacked the money to fly them to England. So Bob and Vikki French, who live near Rapid Valley, delivered the ashes during a planned trip to England last month, the Rapid City Journal reported. Papen said she’s grateful to those who helped coordinate the safe return: "It’s not often you find such good people. You have helped me close this chapter in this book."

Russia

Putin to run again

President Vladimir Putin declared his intention Wednesday to run for re-election, essentially guaranteeing a new six-year term for the Kremlin leader. Although 30 others have declared their candidacy ahead of the March election, there is little doubt the Kremlin’s political machine would not allow an upset. "He wants to be in power for 21 years," anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny tweeted Wednesday. "... I suggest that you disagree with him." Putin has been the de facto leader of Russia since Boris Yeltsin resigned on New Year’s Eve 1999. The only post-imperial Kremlin leader who served a longer term was Joseph Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union for 29 years.

Italy

Neo-fascists attack newsroom in ‘war’

A neo-fascist party attacked with flares the headquarters of the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper Wednesday and declared "war" against its publisher, the latest in a series of extremist, far-right and anti-immigrant incidents across Italy. A dozen masked Forza Nuova supporters attacked while carring the party’s flag and a banner reading "Boycott L’Espresso and Repubblica." Repubblica has reported regularly on an escalation of attacks by Forza Nuova and other right-wing and skinhead movements targeting immigrants and refugees. Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi and Interior Minister Marco Minnitti expressed solidarity with the paper. Editor-in-chief Mario Calabresi said he wasn’t cowed but is concerned for Italy, where "this resurging fascism feels legitimized to raise its head and threaten those who fight for rights." — tbt* wires

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