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NEED TO KNOW:
It isn't hard to see how the Islamic State keeps dissent in check. This week, it ordered a recruit to kill his own mother — and he did, in front of the post office where she worked in Raqqa, Syria.
Ali Saqr, 21, reported his mother after she desperately tried to get him to leave IS and flee Raqqa. As a result, IS said she was guilty of "apostasy" and ordered her killed. Her son had to do it because that's the worst thing imaginable. Hundreds of people watched because that gets the group's message across.
This isn't even the first time an IS recruit has killed a parent on the group’s orders, according to The New York Times. Last year, a Lebanese father traveled to Raqqa to try to bring back his son, an IS fighter. The son reported the father in much the same fashion as Ali Saqr, and the father was detained and killed.
Meanwhile, there are counterforces at play. Belgian investigators say they found a fingerprint of Salah Abdeslam, the fugitive jihadist who participated in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, in an apartment in Brussels. They also found three suicide vests and traces of explosives, police said in a statement Friday.
Belgian prosecutors said they believed Abdeslam used the apartment as a hideout in the days after the attacks, which killed 130 people.
WANT TO KNOW:
Macau, China’s sole gambling mecca, is kind of like the inverse of Las Vegas. Its tiled promenades are pan handler-free. There are no flashing pyramids. People inside the casinos drink milk tea instead of Jack Daniel's.
In recent times, Macau has been so successful that a few of its casinos rake in more cash than the whole of the Vegas strip. But no longer.
Macau's run of good luck looks to be over. The coastal enclave, long flush with mainland Chinese cash, was recently declared the world’s fastest-plummeting economy. The blame for Macau's “death spiral” is to be shared by China’s overall economic slump, and by Xi Jinping's corruption crackdown.
But when it's done pointing fingers, what is Macau to do? It seems to be taking a lesson from Vegas after all: family-friendly entertainment. One casino complex recently opened the world’s first Ferris wheel shaped like a figure 8.
It took a meteor to end the dinosaurs, but human beings have managed to render the Earth unalterably changed with no help from the heavens. That's right, folks, thanks to our imprint, we've messed up the planet on into a new geological time period.
Goodbye, Holocene, it was a nice 11,700 years. We are now officially in the Anthropocene epoch, or human epoch, according to a paper published in the most recent edition of Science.
Scientists say the Anthropocene actually started somewhere around 1950, and that the geological record already includes these things called "technofossils," which sound like they can dance but are basically preserved bits of uniquely human products such as concrete, plastics and nuclear waste.
“Human activity is leaving a pervasive and persistent signature on Earth,” the authors declare in Science. Here are five striking examples.