French bothered by the sounds of mating frogs

But they stand by their position that the pond needs to go. As for the frogs, well, there’s a “do not disturb” sign on their door. It’s well below freezing in Boston. But it’s nice noise. And it wasn’t long before   the anti-frog bloc became victims of internet trolling. PRI.org

So, spare a thought for people who live near one pond in the Dordogne in southern France — a   pond that is home to just 20 frogs. That’s about the level of an air conditioner. On the other hand, they can get kind of noisy.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. But owners of the pond, Michel and Annie Pecheras, say   the so-called noise is just part of living in the country. “Here the wild boar come drink at the pond. What we’d give to open the bedroom windows to hear the summer sounds of crickets and tree frogs. He has proof the pond was there before him, and he just re-dug it a new spot, farther away from the neighbors. “Stop the racket!”
But rallying behind the owners of the pond are the local farmers, who can’t seem to understand the complaints. No two ways about it — winter is coming. “Fill it in with rubble,” they say. And Michel Pecheras says it’s not like the frogs are the only sounds out in nature. The fate of the pond   now rests with the law: France’s supreme court is set to decide   whether the pond must be filled in, after all. “It’s a living place with noises and smells where animals live and people work.”
(And an   online petition   has garnered over 100,000 signatures in favor of the pond owners.)
Likewise, Michel Pecheras remains defiant. “In the summertime, the birds sing very early in the morning. These neighbors argue that the pond was built without permits — the unforeseen consequence being, it’s become a swingers club for amphibians. You can see their tracks in the mud there,” he   told Paris-based BBC reporter John Laurenson. But   when they mate, they   create an intolerable racket for some nearby homeowners. (The legal battle began in 2012.) The Pecharas   are hoping the court will overturn the judgment from a regional court in   Bordeaux that ruled in favor of their neighbors. Officials measured the froggy lovemaking at 63 decibels. It’s noise. It’s not sanitized,” says a local farmer. “The countryside isn’t a museum. If you don’t like it, stay in the towns.”
A pro-frog Facebook page popped up supporting the pond.

A new film in France spurs conversations and hopes of preventing future attacks

Nadia Remadna works to prevent radicalization in Sevran outside Paris where she’s seen many youth leave for Syria. “I thought this was a strong and remarkable film,” she said, “and I’d even suggest it’s beneficial to the public at large because the characters give clues to understanding certain weaknesses that could allow radicalization to take over, even in unsuspecting lives.”
But some critics think the film’s emphasis is misplaced.  
So, Mention-Schaar   set out to make a film about the phenomenon, enlisting the help of a big star, Sandrine Bonnaire, who plays the mother of a teenage girl. Journalist Alexandre Devecchio of Le Figaro, says the film, by focusing on non-Muslim girls who convert to Islam, ignores the reality of radicalization in France. Melanie begins to latch on to conspiracy theories. “I found many answers. They deserved it, right?”
At the screening, Mention-Schaar told the audience she meant for her film to be used as prevention. Credit:

Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

The director’s fictional protagonists break gender and background stereotypes. 16 last year, three days after the Paris attacks, which gave the film a renewed sense of urgency. Her “prince,” as she calls him, sends her links to violent YouTube videos that support his thesis. Actor and director Sandrine Bonnaire delivers a speech to support Martine Aubry (not pictured), one of the two Socialist Party presidential primary election candidates in France, at a political rally in Lille, northern France, on Oct. In fact, she has been pushing for the film to be shown in high schools across the country. That included a heart-wrenching scene in which devastated parents confront authorities to ask them what they’ve done to find their daughter in Syria. Melanie is a good student, plays the cello and has down-to-earth friends. 13, 2011. The director could not understand what would motivate a teenage girl to do such a thing.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. He wrote that the filmmaker embraced a “Care Bears vision of Islam.”
At a recent screening in central Paris, however, the audience was impressed. They’re nonobservant Christians. In a scene set at a fast food restaurant, Melanie tries to convince her schoolmates that the Sept. The other protagonist, 17-year-old Sonia, played by Noémie Merlant, is also a teenager from a nonreligious family. Students from local high schools, including senior Clara Jestin,   said they loved the film. She says the film carries an important message. “Are we all waiting for them to croak? After her failed attempts to leave for Syria and help prepare an attack on French soil, she is placed under house arrest. Filming began on Nov. “What’s [going on] today with youth who are loved, have a comfortable life, friends and an education? What have we missed, what can we do better to prevent this or other deadly phenomena to take root into youth? PRI.org

“With boys we can refer to conventional images of war and weapons to explain it,” she said, “you can see how this could be the attraction. it concerns everybody.”
France’s minister of education, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, agrees. “I was really moved,” Jestin said. “I thought that this film was interesting because it says that radicalization is not exclusively an issue for young Muslims in underprivileged neighborhoods,” she said, “and that, unfortunately, it’s everyone’s problem, Catholic families, atheist families … I don’t know anyone who became radicalized, but you hear so much about it with the terrorist attacks, it was good to learn something.”
A mother in the audience said she thought the helplessness and despair of the parents in the film felt authentic. But for girls, what could possibly tempt them?”
Something is tempting them. Melanie plunges deeper into fanaticism. Melanie, 16, and played by Naomi Amarger,   lives alone with her divorced mother. All these questions are very important for me in the film.”
The film’s end credits display a   French government   toll-free number and web address. She secretly converts to Islam, stops playing the cello   and refuses to eat her mother’s cooking. She demonstrates that some dollar bills, when folded a specific way, reveal hidden messages about the twin towers, proving, in her mind, that the attack was planned ages ago. 11   attacks were staged by mysterious entities in order to manipulate public opinion about Muslims. And her rehabilitation struggle takes a huge toll on the family. But shortly after her grandmother’s death, she connects online with a stranger who speaks of the alleged oppression of Muslims worldwide. According to the French Ministry of the Interior, 700 French citizens, including 280 women   (half of whom are converts to Islam), are currently active with ISIS in Syria and Iraq. It’s a helpline and link to a new interactive campaign against radicalization — a stark reminder that fiction can only go so far in addressing the magnitude of France’s problems with terror and extremism. Early last year, filmmaker Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar read a news story about a young French man desperately looking for his sister who had left home to join ISIS in Syria. But her friends make fun of her, saying she is paranoid. “What’s my country doing for my daughter, and for all the kids who are about to turn, or to leave?” this mother asks. Another thousand people in France are said to be willing to join ISIS. “The film also takes stock of what’s happening in our society,” she says. “Le Ciel Attendra” was released in October and has been touted as a beneficial tool for raising awareness.

Former CIA chief calls Trump ‘Moscow’s useful idiot’

And we want to go about defending those processes by finding out exactly what happened and staring truth squarely in the face.”
“He just needs to get over the fact that some people on the fringe might use this to challenge his legitimacy, which the center of the country is not doing.”
Hayden is the only man ever to head both the NSA (1999-2005) and the CIA (2006-2009). In an opinion piece in the Washington Post, just before the election, Hayden called Trump “Russia’s useful fool.” He says he came to that conclusion after analyzing what the Trump campaign had said and not said. Bush took briefings daily. Trump is taking only one intelligence briefing a week, while both Obama and Georg W. “It’s about our democratic processes. PRI.org

The former head of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency, Michael Hayden, told PRI’s The World that Trump and his team need to realize this is not about them. Sovereignty matters. Overall, Hayden says he is concerned about the next four years, “but I also know my country has very strong institutions.”
“I also know that the president-elect was elected by the American people. “Look,” Hayden asserts, “good intelligence creates the left-hand and right-hand boundaries of logical policy discussion. Listen to the full interview. “I don’t go back for briefings, but I do read what is publicly available and I know the words that are used, when they’re used, and what the people still in government mean. … President Barack Obama says the US will retaliate against Russia for allegedly hacking and trying to influence the US election. Hayden suggests Pence could act as a filter for the president in the same way Zbigniew Brzezinski did as national security adviser for Jimmy Carter. And when good senior public officials attach their reputations to a phrase like ‘we have high confidence that the Russian Federation did all those things that we’ve listed,’ I take away from it a high confidence that that is indeed the truth.”
Hayden has a bigger worry, though, than the allegations of Russian meddling in the election, and that’s the fear that Trump will continue to refuse to accept the assessments of the intelligence community. That is amazingly disruptive.”
Hayden says he himself has high confidence in the intelligence assessment. He was one of 50 senior national security officials who served in Republican administrations to sign an open letter earlier this year to say that Trump was not qualified to be president. He deserves a chance to govern.” “They got that. He says that although the intelligence community likes to protect its sources, the current situation is one of those rare occasions where the public interest might make it necessary to reveal the evidence behind the assessment. If we deny ourselves those boundaries that intelligence creates, we run a much higher risk of being very unwise in how we respond [to] or lead global events.”
Vice President-elect Mike Pence is receiving briefings six days a week, according to sources cited by Reuters. In terms of Russia’s motives, Hayden says “if their objective was to mess with our heads, this has got to be the most successful covert influence campaign in history.”
“I mean did they really expect that the president-elect of the United States would be condemning, criticizing, or at a minimum refusing to accept the high-confidence judgement of his intelligence community, 35 days before he enters office. “This is not about their legitimacy,” he says. But President-elect Donald Trump refuses to acknowledge the intelligence assessment that Putin’s Russia did anything of the kind.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. So, if anything, that’s been reinforced.”
“I’m trying to be both respectful and understanding here, but my ‘polezni durak’ — useful fool, useful idiot — description, as I said at the end of my article, is actually the most benign explanation I can come up with.”
As head of the NSA when the intelligence community concluded that Saddam Hussein had programs to build weapons of mass destruction, Hayden is aware of the limitations of intelligence. It’s not about them.”
“It’s about us,” Hayden emphasizes. He’s also a former four-star general in the Air Force. The “polezni durak” or “useful idiot” was a concept from Soviet times, Hayden writes, some naïve soul who’s   “manipulated by Moscow, secretly held in contempt, but whose blind support is happily accepted and exploited.”
“Since I wrote that five weeks ago,” Hayden told PRI’s The World, “the [Trump] campaign has still refused to utter any criticism of Vladimir Putin, and then reject[ed] the high confidence judgement of a pretty good intelligence community. He’s going to be president, and that’s fine. That’s the way it is.

This Rolling Stones cover is climbing the charts and raising money for slain British MP Jo Cox

Cox was 41 years old when she died and had just been elected to parliament. “People are getting behind this because they were moved, really, by the story of Jo.”
The Rolling Stones have waived their claim on royalties from the cover version of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
The track, which features Ricky Wilson of the Kaiser Chiefs, KT Tunstall, David Gray, Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel, and the cross-party parliamentary band MP4, is intended to raise money for the foundation created in her name. Thomas Mair was convicted of her murder and   sentenced to life imprisonment. The Jo Cox Foundation was set up “to advance the values and causes that Jo fought for in her life.” PRI.org

It’s a cover of the Rolling Stones classic, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” —   but this version is sung by musicians and politicians. A pop song with a familiar riff is climbing the charts in the UK. The Christmas charity single was released this week in memory of Jo Cox, the   member of the British Parliament who was   fatally shot on June 16, 2016, by a man who held neo-Nazi beliefs. “At the end of what’s been a terrible year, this is something joyous and positive we can all do which will help to highlight her foundation, which has been set up to further her work,” Brennan says. On Thursday, British Prime Minister Theresa May encouraged people to buy the charity song recorded in Cox’s honor.                  Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. And Kevin Brennan, who’s a member of the parliamentary band that plays on the single, says he’s been overwhelmed by the support.

The Aleppo tragedy has left one Arab satirist with nothing to say

#Aleppo’s Agony: Pleas from trapped civilians reveal life in an inferno (Cartoon by Vasco Gargalo). “We were constantly pounded and shelled. I think there’s a sense of when you’re playing to an audience of fellow Syrians, even if you’re doing satire at a very bleak moment in the history of your country, there’s more immediacy to it than playing to an abstract international audience.”

For Sharro, Aleppo   and the war in Syria are about something larger:   the sense of paralysis, stagnation, autocracy and the   near-civil war in some countries affected by the Arab Spring uprisings. I’m not there. SYRIA – The Tragedy of Aleppo at Christmas shames the West. pic.twitter.com/2UuCnXoUKV
— Gary Clement (@garyjoelclement) December 16, 2016
The tragedy in Aleppo is what many satirists are trying to grapple with at the moment. “It’s quite an unequal situation and that’s why it creates, I think, a lot of bitterness,” he says. He grew up during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990). https://t.co/LPFHIKyGGe pic.twitter.com/vr306GO6Jr
— Paul Aufiero (@aufierp) December 16, 2016
Conflict involving Syria is also personal for Sharro. I remember us making jokes about the situation all the time and kind of coping.” That experience makes him even more reluctant to apply satire to Aleppo. I’m not saying abandon it, but is there a more clever way of doing it that’s more specific instead of making them flattened out victims in an ongoing tragedy.” PRI.org

Turns out that Assad is actually quite a merciful mass-murdering butcher. pic.twitter.com/Bv6EFolUcN #Aleppo #Syria
— Global Cartoons (@globalcartoons) December 14, 2016
But Aleppo is a topic that has vexed Karl Sharro, a popular Lebanese satirist who goes by the name Karl reMarks. “That tends to draw more media attention,” says Sharro, “but then people start to demand easy answers, and I think a lot of satirists and cartoonists in those situations are kind of tending to want to provide those easy answers.”
Aleppo is having its moment now, but the eastern part of the city has been under siege literally for years. “There’s almost a sense of the futility about satire. I dare you to look away.”
RT @emadhajjaj: Very moving and apt cartoon by Emad Hajjaj of Jordan. It comes with a lot of moral posturing,” he says. Sharro thinks the dark tale of Aleppo requires nuance and complexity that’s not usually a strength of satire. Ceasefires are called and just as quickly lifted or broken. “We satirists and cartoonists tend to be blunt. “It’s like one of those abstract slogans that we can all talk about without actually saying what it is that we want people to do. pic.twitter.com/rrt6Av0N7n
— flexTayo Fatunla (@tfatunla) December 14, 2016
Sharro says one popular, easy line many satirists offer these days is that the world has lost interest and doesn’t care about Syria. Satire is not always funny ha-ha. “It’s kind of too close to home. This is happening right now. When he was 10 years old and already a budding satirist, his hometown was besieged by the Syrian army for three months. The protracted and violent resolution to the battle there — a barrage by Syrian troops with help from Russian air power — has reached the world through videos of trapped residents making direct appeals for help. “Maybe it’s a critical moment in terms of reflecting about the role of satire. Sharro the satirist has decided that retreating from writing or drawing about Aleppo is better than having a knee-jerk response. It’s often funny as in, devastating, dark — a comment or image that makes you wince or even squirm because its message is so on point.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadListen to the Story. Help us.  
‘2016 is the worst year ever’ pic.twitter.com/LpeCHdWhMr
— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) December 16, 2016
He fears that the “we care about you” approach to raising awareness about Syria is based not on a universal sense of solidarity but on a dynamic between the victimized and those with the voice to express their concerns. The Arabic title translates to “Chronicles of the Pressure Cooker.”   Sharro says Siin’s monologues, audio plays and absurdist skits try to make sense of the Syrian civil war. The war in Syria is about to enter its sixth year, and there’s no resolution in sight. The default message in many political cartoons is a plaintive cry: “Take notice. It’s almost like you can’t give yourself the right to joke about the situation if you’re not in it.”  
#Aleppo#Alep#حلب_تباد pic.twitter.com/OcrQDT4ddq
— hani abbas (@hanimabbas) December 16, 2016
One satirist who is there is Jiim Siin, a Syrian mostly living in exile who produces a satirical audio blog. We’re more successful at things that appeal   to a deeper emotional level.”  
I do a western truth-seeker trying to explain Syria: The absolute definite real TRUTH about Syria https://t.co/BKlkbgcW1h via @YouTube
— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) December 16, 2016
International attention to Syria comes in waves. It’s not afraid to take sides politically and morally. It’s a city I’m familiar with. “It’s quite bleak, quite dark. I’m not talking about whether it’s appropriate or not. I just think in terms of its usefulness   at the moment,” he says. There’s moral outrage on all fronts. “For the first time, I’m kind of starting to see that satire has almost exhausted itself in terms of what it’s able to say,” he says.

‘Unpresidented’ Trump tweet on China sets off deluge of mockery

Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 17, 2016
“Dear world, most Americans really wish we could be #unpresidented,” another Twitter user wrote. Trump has repeatedly infuriated Beijing in recent weeks, questioning longstanding US policy on Taiwan, calling Beijing a currency manipulator and threatening Chinese imports with punitive tariffs. “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters — rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented [sic]   act,” the real estate magnate wrote on his favorite platform. US President-elect Donald Trump is getting plenty of attention — but not the kind he was looking for — after a tweet Saturday calling out China for its seizure of an unmanned US naval probe. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2016
While many mocked the deeply divisive political novice, famous for his verbal tics and gaffes, supporters jumped to his defense and said critics were piling on about a typo while ignoring the bigger problem. Rowling tweeted:
TrumpSpellCheck™️Unpresidentedly effective. The Pentagon on Friday called on Beijing to “immediately” return the probe that it had “unlawfully seized.”
Read more:   No, Mr. “Harry Potter” author J.K. Update:   China says it’s giving the US its ocean drone back, so stop ‘hyping’ the incident
“Unpresidented” quickly became a top trending topic on Twitter in the United States, as online wags savaged the incoming president for the unfortunate misspelling. Trump, China did not build a ‘massive fortress’ in the sea — Donald J. pic.twitter.com/9leL9aIei1
— J.K. Trump was referring to China’s seizure on Thursday of an unmanned US naval probe in international waters of the South China Sea, a serious provocation as tensions rise between the two superpowers. Trump deleted the tweet after about an hour, replacing it with one correctly using the word “unprecedented.”
China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act.

What are the best snow boots to wear?

Researchers discover most winter boots are too slippery to walk safely on icy surfaces Listen to the full interview. The other technology is even more high-tech, Westhead says. “So, you have a rubber sole with crystals protruding through it.”
In essence, this means the sole of the boot has very small cleats that allow the boot to grip the ice. But the technology is there, and it will be available next year. The good news is that some new technologies are already on the market, and two of them perform particularly well, Westhead says. “Embedded in the rubber are glass fibers, and these glass fibers create, basically, little grippers. The sole is made of a soft rubber compound with a combination of microgrooves. PRI.org

“Unfortunately, we tested over 100 boots, and only nine of them passed,” says Barry Westhead, director of research engineering at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. A new study has looked at the effectiveness of winter boot soles and found that very few of them measure up.Player utilitiesPopout
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downloadThis story is based on a radio interview. So, are the other 90 or so makers of boots looking at these techniques and saying, “Hey, maybe we should try this?”
“Yes, they are,” Westhead says. One is called Green Diamond Technology. “And a lot of the retailers are very responsible and no doubt disappointed that their boots didn’t make it this year. That’s the bad news. And that was our intent.”
This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Science Friday with Ira Flatow. Thousands of injuries and even some deaths occur when people slip and fall on winter ice. I’m sure that the entire footwear landscape for winter footwear will look quite a bit different next year. “It involves taking a hot boot sole and sprinkling granules of silicon dioxide onto it, and then covering it with a thin layer of rubber and sanding off some of the rubber, so that the crystals are exposed,” Westhead explains. So when you rub your hand on the material, it feels a little rough, like fiberglass, and they do a great job of gripping on ice,” he says.

Modern-day tribes still carry traces of colonial devastation in their DNA

“The interesting part is that it’s actually shown in our genetics. The results, published in Nature Communications, show that a genetic shift took place in an area of the genome related to immune function — correlating, researchers say, to European-borne epidemics that swept the region in the 19th century. “I have a few projects going on in British Columbia, California   and Alaska, but I’m most involved in the Alaska project right now with Alaska natives,” he says. “With the yearly results reporting, we think it might actually inspire some of the younger members to go into sciences.”
Meanwhile, Malhi is working with indigenous communities around the continent to uncover more genetic history — including other legacies of European contact here. “There were things that we wanted to get out of it, as well,” Petzelt says. “And so these genetic variants changed dramatically as a result of that in the living community members,” Malhi adds. According to Malhi, partnerships like the one between his team and Coast Tsimshian communities have historically been all too rare. “We are actually looking at epigenetics, or how the environment can change or mark your genome and the expression of genes. “And we’re looking at the epigenetics of European contact and colonization to see how this dramatic change in the environment and social lives of indigenous peoples in Alaska may have been affected by European conduct and colonization.”
This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s   Science Friday. Working with Coast Tsimshian communities in northwestern British Columbia, researchers compared genetic samples from living community members with ancient remains. For Barbara Petzelt, treaty coordinator for the Metlakatla Treaty Office and a co-author on the study, not all of the study’s findings are news. “It rarely happens in anthropology and genetics, a partnership between a   team of researchers at an academic university and indigenous communities,” he says. And so what we did is met with the communities, decided what would be a mutually beneficial study, and then we would come back year after year to report on our results and discuss the results with community members.”
Petzelt says that Metlakatla community members and researchers spent quite a bit of time discussing informed consent and ethics before committing to the study — “because there’s nothing more personal than your DNA.” In the end, community members decided there were advantages to participating in the research. “You know, like proving the genetic link between Metlakatla modern descendants and the ancient ancestors from sites within the territory, and also, aid in the advancement of science.”
She says there may be also unexpected benefits to collaborating on the study, as well. “This is, at least in the Americas, the first time that we’ve been able to show — through study of the   genetics of a continuous population before and after European contact — what the effect of European colonization was,” says Ripan Malhi, the study’s lead author. “We didn’t want to follow that model. “Considering a lot of this information was passed down in our oral histories and through the archaeological record, not much of it is actually surprising,” she says. “What’s happened a lot in the past is that researchers would go into a community, get the samples that they needed, and then they would leave, rarely coming back to report any results. Malhi says one possible explanation is the ancient genetic variants — which were well-adapted to local pathogens — weren’t adapted to diseases brought over by Europeans. But these same immune-related variants are rare in modern Tsimshian community members. So, that part is a little surprising and pretty exciting.”
The Metlakatla community is one of seven Tsimshian First Nations, and one of two working with Malhi’s team on this research. Malhi, a genetic anthropologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, explains that when his team looked at samples from individuals who lived before Europeans arrived, they found signals of natural selection in certain immune-related genes. A demographic model created by Malhi’s team supports this theory about when the genetic shift took place; it suggests that over half of the Tsimshian population was wiped out following European   contact, as epidemics of smallpox and other diseases ravaged the area. “This suggested that the ancient individuals were actually adapted to any pathogens in their ancient environments,” he says. The arrival of European colonists in the Americas brought   smallpox and other illnesses that devastated indigenous communities.Player utilitiesPopout
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Now, research suggests that evidence of those populations’ devastation is still visible in the DNA of their descendants.

China says it’s giving the US its ocean drone back, so stop ‘hyping’ the incident

Its military has conducted several “freedom of navigation” operations in which ships and planes have passed close to the sites Beijing claims. The Pentagon said it had registered its objection to the probe’s seizure. While the US takes no position on sovereignty claims in the South China Sea, it has repeatedly stressed all maritime claims must comply with international law. The incident comes amid escalating tensions between China and the United States, with President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly infuriating Beijing by questioning longstanding US policy on Taiwan, calling Beijing a currency manipulator and threatening Chinese imports with punitive tariffs. Read more: ‘Unpresidented’ Trump tweet on China sets off deluge of mockery  
China’s defense ministry said it would give back the device “in an appropriate manner,”   without providing details of the handover. China said Saturday it would return a US naval probe seized in international waters, as it slammed the “hyping” of the incident as “inappropriate and unhelpful.”
The unmanned underwater vehicle was taken around 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay in the Philippines late on Thursday, according to the Pentagon, which called the capture unlawful and demanded its immediate return. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have competing claims in the South China Sea, which is laced with the world’s most heavily travelled international trade routes. “The hyping up from the American side is inappropriate and unhelpful to the swift resolution of the problem,” the ministry said. China said it “strongly opposed” US reconnaissance activities and had asked Washington to stop them. “The Chinese side will take the necessary steps in response,” the statement added. “Through direct engagement with Chinese authorities, we have secured an understanding that the Chinese will return the UUV to the United States,” spokesman Peter Cook said Saturday. There are broader tensions in the South China Sea, where China has moved to fortify its claims to the region by   building out tiny reefs and islets into much larger artificial islands.