30 Mar 2013
Reforms in Burma have revealed a sectarian divide between Buddhists and ethnic Muslims whose villages are being destroyed in brutal clashes with echoes of similar clashes in the Balkans, parts of Africa and Northern Ireland.
The Muslim Rohingya minority are being targeted by Burmese Buddhists and driven from their villages in their thousands. Their plight was highlighted during his recent visit by the US President Barack Obama, but hopes that Burma's most prominent civil rights campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi may support their cause have so far proved fruitless.
29 Mar 2013
When a German shoe company sensed it was facing discrimination in America due to its religious, or rather, irreligious affiliation—it turned to science to find the truth. ATHEIST Shoes, a Berlin-based startup touting footwear for the Godless, conducted a study. The results suggest the United States Postal Service harbors a bias against non-believers.
As the company describes on a dedicated Web page, the idea for the study arose when they noticed a lot of its US customers waited longer than average for deliveries—that is, when the shoes even made it to their destinations. ATHEIST became suspicious:
And, when some of our customers asked us not to use ATHEIST-branded packing tape on their shipments, we started to wonder if the delays were caused by the US Postal Service taking offence at our overt godlessness…
ATHEIST Shoes sent out “178 packages to 89 people, in 49 states,” sending each person one box labeled “atheist” and one box bare. The results were disturbing. As revealed in a highly-educational infographic, labeled boxes took on average three days longer to arrive and went missing 10 times as often as plain packages. The company conducted control experiments in Germany and elsewhere in Europe without noticing any delivery discrimination, concluding, “The problem appears to lie in the USA and is likely explained by the differential handling of packages by the employees of the US Postal Service.”
28 Mar 2013
The skeletal remains of an individual living in northern Italy 40,000-30,000 years ago are believed to be that of a human/Neanderthal hybrid, according to a paper in PLoS ONE.
If further analysis proves the theory correct, the remains belonged to the first known such hybrid, providing direct evidence that humans and Neanderthals interbred. Prior genetic research determined the DNA of people with European and Asian ancestry is 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal.
“From the morphology of the lower jaw, the face of the Mezzena individual would have looked somehow intermediate between classic Neanderthals, who had a rather receding lower jaw (no chin), and the modern humans, who present a projecting lower jaw with a strongly developed chin,” co-author Silvana Condemi, an anthropologist, told Discovery News.
Condemi is the CNRS research director at the University of Ai-Marseille. She and her colleagues studied the remains via DNA analysis and 3D imaging. They then compared those results with the same features from Homo sapiens.
The genetic analysis shows that the individual’s mitochondrial DNA is Neanderthal. Since this DNA is transmitted from a mother to her child, the researchers conclude that it was a “female Neanderthal who mated with male Homo sapiens.”
Two years after Fukushima's triple nuclear meltdown forced tens of thousands of residents to flee, it is possible to take a virtual journey deep into the exclusion zone to one of the towns they left behind. Google Street View has published striking images of the devastation visited on Namie by the March 2011 tsunami and nuclear meltdown: abandoned homes, shops and restaurants, fields blanketed in grass and weeds.
Google's camera-equipped vehicles began filming in Namie this month at the invitation of its mayor, Tamotsu Baba, whose sadness at his town's fate is matched by fears that the rest of the world is forgetting about Fukushima. For residents from towns and villages near the crippled power plant, the crisis is far from over. About 160,000 who fled the 12-mile evacuation zone, including 21,000 from Namie, are still living in temporary housing.
27 Mar 2013
Earlier this month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg perfectly described a day in the life of your average homeless New Yorker. “You can arrive in your private jet at Kennedy Airport, take a private limousine and go straight to the shelter system and walk in the door and we've got to give you shelter," he said on his radio show, addressing the record rate of homelessness in the city.
50,000 people, including 21,000 children, are currently crowded into the city's emergency shelters, a 61 percent rise from when the Mayor took office, according to the Coalition for the Homeless.
Last month, the Mayor had assured reporters that "Nobody's sleeping on the streets," a claim easily refuted by a look at the city's homelessness statistics and/or going outside in New York. As it turns out, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) had recently suspended a program making it easier for homeless families to get into shelters when the temperature dips below freezing. The DHS did not share this information widely; it came to light after a New York Daily News report highlighted the case of 23 year-old Junior Clarke, who told the News that he, his wife, and 4 year-old daughter were turned away from the city's intake center on a freezing day. When they refused to leave, staff threatened to call the police.
“They tried to make us leave and we refused,” Clarke told the Daily News. “You know some people leave, walk away and go sleep on the train with their families.”
As the 7th richest man in America finishes his final term in office, he leaves behind one of the biggest wealth gaps in the country: income inequality in Manhattan is the second worst in the US, according to the New York Times. New York's poverty rate has risen to the highest level in a decade, the Times also noted. 1 in 3 New York kids live below the poverty line. In parts of the Bronx, two thirds of residents live in areas of extreme poverty.
A Somali girl who said she had been raped has been stoned to death in Somalia after being accused of adultery, a human rights group has said. Amnesty International said in a press release on Friday that the victim, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, had been 13 years old - not 23 as earlier reports had suggested.
Duhulow was stoned to death on October 27 by dozens of men in a stadium packed with 1,000 spectators in the southern port city of Kismayo, Amnesty International and Somali media reported, citing witnesses. The armed group in charge of Kismayo had accused her of adultery after she reported that three men had raped her, Amnesty said.
"This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups who currently control Kismayo," David Copeman, Amnesty International's Somalia campaigner, said in a statement. Initial local media reports said Duhulow was 23, but her father told Amnesty International she was 13.
25 Mar 2013
Police in Rio de janeiro evicted two dozen Amazon natives on Friday from an old Indian museum that will be demolished to clear areas adjacent to Brazil's legendary Maracana soccer stadium, the main venue for next year's World Cup.
The Indians from different Amazon tribes had been living on the grounds of the Rio de Janeiro museum since 2006 and were resisting its demolition, which caused further delays to the overhaul of the stadium complex.
Riot police handcuffed the Indians, some of whom wore feathered headdresses and body paint, and used tear gas to disperse street demonstrations by sympathizers trying to block the eviction.
Brazil is on deadline to deliver stadiums that will host the 2014 World Cup, a global sporting event that is a chance to showcase the South American nation's emergence as a world economic powerhouse. It is also a challenge for its deficient infrastructure that could become an international embarrassment.
24 Mar 2013
Rüschlikon is a village in Switzerland with a very low tax rate and very wealthy residents. But it receives more tax revenue than it can use. This is largely thanks to one resident - Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, whose copper mines in Zambia are not generating a large bounty tax revenue for the Zambians. Zambia has the 3rd largest copper reserves in the world, but 60% of the population live on less than $1 a day and 80% are unemployed. Based on original research into public documents, the film describes the tax system employed by multinational companies in Africa.
23 Mar 2013
"All they want is to be treated fairly. But unlike most of you, they have to come again here year after year and explain over and over why their love is equal to yours."
22 Mar 2013
"In 2012, European researchers visited a scrap metal site in Al Zubayr, an area near Basrah in southern Iraq. A local police officer told them that the site had at one time held military scrap metal from the bloody battles waged during the American invasion. A local guard told the researchers that children had been seen playing on the scrap during that time, and both adults and children had worked disassembling the military leftovers. At one point, the guard said, members of an international organization with equipment and white suits showed up, told guards that the site was very dangerous and "quickly ran off."*
The depleted uranium usage in Iraq left lasting effects, on our own troops and in babies born with horrifying deformities in Fallujah and Basra. Is this the legacy of the war, and should people be paying more attention to these awful consequences?
21 Mar 2013
Cyber-warfare is all well and civilized when it's confined to a tit-for-tat hacking of banks, but it's got the potential to spiral out of control real fast. To try and prevent that, and save the world from a hacked-WoW-account-induced apocalypse, NATO's comissioned a set of international laws to try and make cyber-warfare more…civilized.
Despite how it might seem, war's actually relatively civilized. Agreements like the Geneva Conventions and Ottowa Treaty lay down laws as to how warfare should be conducted - be nice to your prisoners and no blowing people up with landmines, for example - and the UN charter explains when war might be justified, say for self-defence. But none of those were written with cyber-warfare in mind, which is difficult when the Americans are going round hacking the Iranians, the Koreans are hacking each other and China's just hacking everyone.
In an attempt to make some sense of the mess, NATO (basically the Western powers-that-be) commissioned a report from a bunch of legal experts at the ‘NATO Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence' to suggest some rules for cyber-warfare. Well, the report's in, and the suggestions are kinda surprising.
Basically, cyber attacks which cause "physical damage, injury or death" constitute a ‘use of force', and thus can be retaliated to with real physical weapons. Equally surprising is the classification of civilian hacktivists as legitimate targets during war.
20 Mar 2013
19 Mar 2013
The US military may have played a role in the 1997 death of Princess Diana as she was campaigning for a worldwide ban on landmines, says the author of The Murder of Princess Diana.
Noel Botham told Press TV that Princess Diana, during her visit to the US in 1997, succeeded in persuading former US President Bill Clinton to vote in favor of a global ban on landmines at the Oslo Conference, which was due to take place on the 19th of September of that year.
However, the idea did not appeal to US military officials and they knew that Clinton "would not change his mind with Diana alive," said the author.
"There was enormous pressure from the military in America to get him (President Clinton) to stop that (the international treaty on a worldwide ban on landmines) and change his mind, enormous lobbying in the White House," Botham added.
"Of course, after her death, 19 days later, Bill Clinton went to Oslo and voted against a ban on landmines," he further explained.
British Bloggers could face high fines for libel under the new Leveson deal with exemplary damages imposed if they don't sign up to the new regulator, it was claimed on Tuesday. Kirsty Hughes, the chief executive of Index on Censorship, which campaigns for press freedom around the world, said it was a "sad day" for British democracy. "This will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on everyday people's web use," she said.
She said she feared thousands of websites could fall under the definition of a "relevant publisher" according to the rules passed in the House of Commons on Monday night as part of the courts bill. Under the rules sites that generate news and are written by several authors could risk exemplary damages. Hughes said: "Bloggers could find themselves subject to exemplary damages, due to the fact that they were not part of a regulator that was not intended for them in the first place."
18 Mar 2013
17 Mar 2013
Under the palm trees of Larnaca's waterfront promenade, George Kyprou was staring out to sea and scratching his head. "I don't know what to do," he said. Like most Cypriots, he was astonished to wake up one bank holiday weekend morning to discover the government had seized up to 10% of everyone's savings from their bank accounts without warning.
Kyprou, 62, born in Larnaca, had worked most of his life as a chauffeur and driver in England, proudly buying his London council flat and scrimping to put aside money in Cyprus for when he returned for holidays and eventually to retire. "I'd put aside £50 here, £20 there, all my life," he said. Over decades, he had built up around €6,000 (£5,200) in a Larnaca account. "It was a state building society; I assumed it was safe." But now, as depositors holding less than €100,000 are made to pay 6.75% and those with more than €100,000 9.9% as part of a €10bn (£8.7bn) bailout agreed in Brussels, Kyprou stands to lose €400 overnight. "That's a lot for someone like me," he said.
When he heard the news on Saturday morning, he rushed to the cashpoint and queued with others who were panicking and trying to take out as much money as they could. The media reported a run on ATMs that were depleted by mid-afternoon. But with Cyprus taking immediate steps to prevent any money transfers over the weekend, ordinary savers realised there was little they could do to lessen the blow.
16 Mar 2013
Zimbabwean police are interrogating children aged 4-6 at school about whether their parents have radios
The illegal seizure of wind-up radios reached new levels this week with reports that the police are now using primary school pupils to source information about the receivers.
Villagers in Lupane revealed that the police have been visiting schools and asking little children in Grade 0 and Grade 1(aged between 4 and 6 years) whether their parents own or listen to any radios. This follows reports that suspected state security agents on Tuesday raided several homesteads at Mpofu village in the Gwampa area and confiscated the wind-up radios.
Speaking to SW Radio Africa one villager who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said the police have been going to schools, writing down names, and then visiting those suspected of owning the radios by night. She said although the agents will be wearing civilian clothes, the villagers know it is the police since they have been announcing their ban on radios.
Our source said she suspects the police are aware of the popularity of shortwave radios in the area, hence they are now confiscating them. “The police have been announcing that villagers should not be in possession of these radios. Their reason is that we listen to news broadcasts from outside the country which criticise ZANU PF.
David Brent returned to our screens last night, and it was as if he had never been away.
For Comic Relief, Ricky Gervais unwrapped his iconic alter ego, and we caught up with the last decade for Wernham Hogg's former boss - "What's happened, what hasn't happened?" he asked viewers, rhetorically, in his local pub. "Mostly repping."
15 Mar 2013
A disgraced Indiana megachurch leader who seduced his teenage parishioner evidently told her Jesus wanted them to have sex. As part of the government’s sentencing memorandum, federal prosecutors this week released incriminating letters between Jack Schaap, the former pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Ind., and his teen victim.
“In our ‘fantasy talk,’ you have affectionately spoken of being ‘my wife,’” Schaap wrote in one letter, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “That is exactly what Christ desires for us. He wants to marry us + become eternal lovers!”
Egypt's ruling Muslim Brotherhood warns that a U.N. declaration on women's rights could destroy society by allowing a woman to travel, work and use contraception without her husband's approval and letting her control family spending.
The Islamist movement that backs President Mohamed Mursi gave 10 reasons why Muslim countries should "reject and condemn" the declaration, which the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women is racing to negotiate a consensus deal on by Friday.
The Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party propelled Mursi to power in June, posted the statement on its website, www.ikhwanweb.com, and the website of the party on Thursday.
Egypt has joined Iran, Russia and the Vatican - dubbed an "unholy alliance" by some diplomats - in threatening to derail the women's rights declaration by objecting to language on sexual, reproductive and gay rights.
The Muslim Brotherhood said the declaration would give "wives full rights to file legal complaints against husbands accusing them of rape or sexual harassment, obliging competent authorities to deal husbands punishments similar to those prescribed for raping or sexually harassing a stranger."
14 Mar 2013
During Argentina's "dirty wars," which took place under a military dictatorship, 1976-1983, political opponents of the regime were routinely disappeared while American aid dollars rolled in to the junta. Throughout it all, most of Argentina's bishops remained silent, including Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis).
But Hugh O'Shaughnessy, writing two years ago in the Guardian, suggests that Bergoglio may have been more complicit than merely silent:
The extent of the church's complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina's most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence). He recounts how the Argentine navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship's political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate. The most shaming thing for the church is that in such circumstances Bergoglio's name was allowed to go forward in the ballot to chose the successor of John Paul II. What scandal would not have ensued if the first pope ever to be elected from the continent of America had been revealed as an accessory to murder and false imprisonment.
The cardinal's spokesman denied the charges, and, according to the U.K. edition of the International Business Times, "no evidence was presented linking him to the kidnapping" of the two priests he was accused of hiding.
13 Mar 2013
Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, appeared on a British radio show to say that he was "privileged enough to be in on the fact that we've been visited on this planet and the U.F.O. phenomena is real."
Mitchell, a member of the Apollo 14 team, has long held these beliefs despite the fact that he himself has never seen neither an alien or a U.F.O. The Times' story has an excellent collection of more information on Mitchell's beliefs. Mitchell's resurgence in the media was prompted by a radio interview that he did yesterday with a British radio show.
Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay inmates have claimed "all but a few men" are on a hunger strike over their Qurans being taken away. The condition of the strikers "appears to be rapidly deteriorating and reaching a potentially critical level," they said. Most of 130 people housed in Camp 6 of Guantanamo Bay may be involved in the strike. More on RssiaToday
If recent elections have taught us anything, it’s that young Americans have taken a decided turn to the left. Young voters delivered Obama the election: the under-44 set voted Obama and the over-45 set broke for Romney. The youngest voters, age 18-29, gave Obama a whopping 60% of their vote.
Now Republicans have a plan to try to recapture the youngest voters out there: Take over the curriculum in public schools, replace education with a bunch of conservative propaganda, and reap the benefits of having a new generation that can’t tell reality from right-wing fantasy.
Here’s a list of 11 lies American kids may be in danger of learning in school.
Lie #1: Racism has barely been an issue in U.S. history and slavery wasn’t that big a deal.
Lie #2: Joe McCarthy was right.
Lie #3: Climate change is a massive hoaxscientistshave perpetuated on the public.
The prime minister of Luxembourg, Jean-Claude Juncker, has warned Europe risks descending into a conflict similar to the First World War as a result of the eurozone crisis.
In an interview with Der Spiegel, Juncker, who used to head the Euro Group of eurozone ministers, said the single currency was about "forging peace" but too many EU members states were "returning to a regional and national mindset".
"The way some German politicians have lashed out at Greece when the country fell into the crisis has left deep wounds there," he said."I was just as shocked by the banners of protesters in Athens that showed the German chancellor in a Nazi uniform. "Sentiments suddenly surfaced that we thought had been finally relegated to the past. The Italian election was also excessively anti-German and thus un-European."
Junker said that "anyone who believes that the eternal issue of war and peace in Europe has been permanently laid to rest could be making a monumental error". He added: "The demons haven't been banished; they are merely sleeping, as the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo have shown us. I am chilled by the realization of how similar circumstances in Europe in 2013 are to those of 100 years ago."
12 Mar 2013
Bradley Manning Speaks: In Leaked Court Recording, Army Whistleblower Tells His Story for First Time
A leaked audio recording has emerged of the statement Army whistleblower Bradley Manning delivered at his pre-trial hearing in military court late last month. Manning acknowledged he gave hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, saying he wanted to show the American public the "true costs of war" and "spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan." This is the first time Manning's voice has been heard publicly since he was arrested nearly three years ago. We air excerpts of his remarks, hearing Manning describe in his own voice the moment he decided to release the documents, and the outrage he felt at the "Collateral Murder" video of an Apache helicopter attack in Iraq.
An official report has confirmed that police in Burma used smoke bombs that contained phosphorus during a crackdown on anti-mine protesters last year that left 108 people with burns. The report also recommended the controversial Chinese-backed project continue.
The report by an investigation commission appointed by President Thein Sein and chaired by the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was released on Monday, more than three months after the incident at the Letpadaung copper mine in north-western Burma. It was the biggest use of force against protesters in Burma since Thein Sein's reformist government took office in March 2011.
Protesters say the joint-venture between China's Wanbao mining company and a Burma military conglomerate causes environmental, social and health problems. They want it halted and are demanding punishment for those who hurt peaceful protesters. The findings are likely to disappoint opponents of the project and could reignite demonstrations.
Authorities had said they used water cannon, teargas and smoke grenades to break up the 11-day occupation of the mine last November, but protesters said burns were caused by incendiary devices. They described "fire balls" being shot at them during the night-time raid on their encampment. A separate, independent report released last month by a lawyers' network and an international human rights group said police dispersed the protesters by using white phosphorous, an incendiary agent generally used in war to create smoke screens.
Ukrainian pop sensation Kazaky releases their latest video titled ‘Crazy Law’, a possible rebuttal to Russia’s anti-gay propaganda laws
The Ukranian all-boy-band, a group of muscled dancers who don stiletto heels to headline performances that include Diesel fashion shows and Madonna music videos, has released a new video titled “Crazy Law’.
Bolivian President Evo Morales is blaming "imperialists" for the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Morales said Tuesday that "if they can't achieve their goal democratically or with a putsch ... then they're trying different methods — that is ending someone's life."
Chavez's death last week from cancer has spawned conspiracy theories about his demise. Morales called for an investigation, telling reporters that Chavez was "only 58 years old and he died so quickly." He says that "sooner or later it will be proven that there was an attempt on his life. Because it is always like that when presidents or union leaders open their mouth to demand their rights."
France's surprise intervention in northern Mali against Islamist fighters involved in lucrative drug-running has disrupted cocaine supply to Europe but smugglers are already finding new routes, analysts said. The former colonial power sent its jets and troops exactly two months ago to eliminate Al-Qaeda-linked groups that had been controlling northern Mali for nine months and were threatening to move south towards the capital.
The jihadist network in Mali's north has funded itself by taking foreign hostages but also by levying a tax on smugglers running drugs from Latin America to feed Europe's ever-growing market. Poverty and the lack of government presence in the vast desert expanse has provided an ideal ground for smugglers.
This video examines a possible conspiracy regarding UFO contact and government collusion at the highest levels. The presentation includes stunning NASA footage of orbital and lunar alien encounters, interviews with physicists and defense ministers, and even mysterious comments by Buzz Aldrin himself concerning a monolith found on the Martian moon. The generation now alive is "privileged" to see the greatest transition in the history of the human race -- to a Planetary Type 1 civilization.
11 Mar 2013
The Iranian president's domestic opponents reacted furiously after photos emerged of him giving Elena Frias de Chavez, 78, a consoling hug at last Friday's funeral in Caracas - at which he also kissed Mr Chavez's coffin. Religious conservatives said the act insulted Iran's religious dignity and amounted to "haram" – a term used to describe a religiously forbidden act under Islamic rules.
Mohammad Taghi Rahbar, the Friday prayer leader of Iran's second city, Isfahan, told Mehr news agency that Mr Ahmadinejad had "lost control". He added: "Shaking hands with a non-mahram (unrelated by family) woman, under any circumstances, whether young or old, is not allowed. Hugging or expressing emotions is improper for the dignity of the president of a country like the Islamic Republic of Iran."
The Insurgents in Syria the FSA have uploaded a video of themselves beating, torturing and humiliating an old man, known around Aleppo as the 'yellow man' for wearing all yellow. They accuse him of snitching about them to the Army, as they beat and harass him. In 2010 he was a small time celebrity around Aleppo. "I chose yellow because it's a colour that gives people happiness and joy. People loved me from the beginning and I want to repay them that love. "
10 Mar 2013
A Brief History of Market Manipulation
As the major stock indices hit new record highs, many are left wondering how such a bull market can develop while the average worker faces layoffs, lower wages and rising costs. The answer presents itself in the documented, admitted and openly acknowledged manipulations of the markets by governments, central bankers, and institutional banks.
Ed Miliband (UK Leader of the Labour Party) has pledged to protect Jewish customs including brit milah and shechita if he becomes Prime Minister. Speaking at a Board of Deputies event the Labour leader said he was opposed to boycotts of Israel and warned of the need to be “ever-vigilant”against antisemitism.
Asked whether he would work to ensure religious slaughter and circumcision practices could continue in Britain, Mr Miliband said: “Yes, these are important traditions. The kosher issue has recently been brought to my attention. Ways of life must be preserved.” He added: “I take antisemitism very seriously. Any kind of delegitimisation of Israel is something we should call out for what it is and not tolerate it.
“I think the boycotts of Israel are totally wrong. We should have no tolerance for boycotts. I would say that to any trade union leaders.” But Mr Miliband warned the audience that while he was opposed to anti-Israel activities in this country, people must “understand the anger and dismay about settlements”.
He said that he considered himself a Zionist but was critical of some Israeli government policies. Asked about Labour’s support for the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations, Mr Miliband said he wanted to “encourage moderate” Palestinians and work in an “even-handed” way
Columbus, credited with the discovery of Americas, may not have been the first to set foot on the continent, says a British explorer, claiming that Phoenicians actually beat him by 2,000 years. Christopher Columbus, the poster boy Renaissance explorer found fame and fortune by sailing from the ‘Old World’ to the ‘New’, crossing the great unknown waters between Spain and the Caribbean in 1492.
In an ambitious voyage that could challenge maritime history, former Royal Navy officer Philip Beale hopes to sail a replica Phoenician boat 10,000 kilometres across the Atlantic. Beale aims to demonstrate that the Phoenicians – a Semitic civilisation that prospered between 1500BC and 300BC on the Mediterranean coast – sailed to the Americas first, CNN reported.
“It is one of the greatest voyages of mankind and if anyone could have done it [before Columbus], it was the Phoenicians,” said Beale. “Of all the ancient civilisations they were the greatest seafarers – Lebanon had cedar trees perfect for building strong boats, they were the first to use iron nails, and they had knowledge of astrology and currents,” he said.
9 Mar 2013
Forget Hamas and Iran. This may be Israel’s most pressing problem. As tensions grow between secular Jews and the ultra-Orthodox, many Israeli feel it is the most troubling conflict the country faces.
The country’s 1 million ultra-Orthodox, also known as Haredim, account for about 19 per cent of the country’s Jewish population of 5.4 million. Many Haredim, a Hebrew word meaning those who tremble before God, marry in their teens. Academics say they typically have eight children, compared with two for secular couples.
In 1960, 15 per cent of Israeli primary students attended schools in the Arab or Haredim systems, rather than non-religious state-run schools. Now it’s about 50 per cent, and is on pace to reach 78 per cent by 2040, according to the Taub Centre, an Israeli think-tank. By 2050, 25 per cent of Israel’s population will be Haredim, the International Monetary Fund estimates.
On Tuesday, members of the European Parliament will vote on the worthy yet mundane-sounding Report on Eliminating Gender Stereotypes in the EU. But bloggers this week pounced on an article in the report that calls for “a ban on all forms of pornography in the media”, and urged their supporters to bombard all 754 MEPs with emails condemning the “unacceptable political invasion of people’s bedrooms”.
While Tuesday’s vote in Strasbourg is merely an expression of support and would not be legally binding, critics worry that it could be the first step towards draconian policing of the internet in Europe. It comes after Iceland began drafting legislation to ban all online pornography, prompting cries of censorship.
Rickard Falkvinge, a founder of the libertarian Swedish Pirate Party, said the text coming before the European Parliament was a “horrendous attack on our fundamental freedoms of speech and expression” while a Pirate Party MEP, Christian Engstrom, warned that “the devil is in the detail” – in particular a call in the report for “a charter to which all internet operators will be invited to adhere. This is quite clearly yet another attempt to get the internet service providers to start policing what citizens do on the internet, not by legislation, but by ‘self-regulation’,” he wrote on his blog. “This is something we have seen before in a number of different proposals, and which is one of the big threats against information freedom in our society.”
Back in 2007, Hugo Chávez created a unique time zone, ordering Venezuela's clocks back half an hour, but on Friday his heirs improvised a funeral like no other to stop the clocks and immortalise the comandante eternal.
Dozens of presidents, prime ministers and princes from around the world joined hundreds of thousands of pilgrims at the military academy in Caracas to bid farewell to a leader who simultaneously inspired, enchanted and repelled during his 14-year rule.
They came not to bury but enshrine him, for the funeral was a prelude to an indeterminate period of lying in state before Chávez's body is embalmed and displayed in perpetuity at the Museum of the Revolution.
"We have decided to prepare the body … so that it remains open for eternity for the people. Just like Ho Chi Minh. Just like Lenin. Just like Mao Zedong," said Nicolás Maduro, the vice-president who was due to be sworn in as president at sunset after the ceremony.
Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, left, Venezuela's interim President Nicolas Maduro, second from left, Uruguay's President Jose Mujica, third from left, Bolivia's President Evo Morales, fourth from left, and Mujica's wife, Uruguayan Senator Lucía Topolansky stand next to the flag-draped coffin containing the body of Venezuela's late President Hugo Chavez. List of more attendees.
8 Mar 2013
The world is now warmer than at almost any time since the end of the last ice age and, on present trends, will continue to reach a record high for the entire period since the dawn of civilisation, a study has found.
A reconstruction of global temperatures going back 11,300 years, which covers the historical period from the founding of the first ancient cities to the space age, has concluded the biggest and most rapid change in the climate has occurred in the past century.
Scientists found that the warm period following the end of last ice age, called the Holocene, peaked about 5,000 years ago when the world began to get cooler. However, this cooling went into a dramatic and sudden reversal about a century ago when global temperatures shot up to levels not seen for thousands of years, the scientists found.
7 Mar 2013
Golden Dawn, the extreme right-wing party in Greece, won 18 seats in the country's last election. Since then support for the party has doubled as it pushes tough new anti-immigrant laws, including banning non-ethnic Greeks from the military and police.
The Vatican, Iran and other religious states are resisting efforts by a U.N. conference, which started Monday, to demand tougher global standards to prevent violence against women and children.
More than 6,000 non-governmental groups are registered at the annual U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, one of the biggest events held at the U.N. headquarters and one that regularly turns into a diplomatic battle. This year’s meeting has been made more emotive after an attack in October by the Taliban on 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai for her attempts to promote girls’ education in Pakistan and widely publicized gang rapes in India and South Africa.
Diplomats said the Holy See, Iran and Russia are leading attempts to wipe out language in a final statement that says religion, custom or tradition must not be used as an excuse to avoid a government’s obligation to eliminate violence. They have also opposed references to rape by a woman’s husband or partner, diplomats said. “Violence against women must be seen as a human rights issue and that has nothing to do with culture or religion,” Norway’s Gender Equality Minister Inga Marte Thorkildsen told AFP.
“The Vatican, conservative religious forces within the United States and Europe, Catholic and Muslim countries are joining forces to stop women from gaining sexual rights,” the minister said, predicting tough negotiations during the two-week conference.
The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the "dirty wars" in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country's descent into full-scale civil war.
Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic shows.
After the Pentagon lifted a ban on Shia militias joining the security forces, the special police commando (SPC) membership was increasingly drawn from violent Shia groups such as the Badr brigades.
A second special adviser, retired Colonel James H Coffman, worked alongside Steele in detention centres that were set up with millions of dollars of US funding.
Coffman reported directly to General David Petraeus, sent to Iraq in June 2004 to organise and train the new Iraqi security forces. Steele, who was in Iraq from 2003 to 2005, and returned to the country in 2006, reported directly to Rumsfeld.
The allegations, made by US and Iraqi witnesses in the Guardian/BBC documentary, implicate US advisers for the first time in the human rights abuses committed by the commandos. It is also the first time that Petraeus – who last November was forced to resign as director of the CIA after a sex scandal – has been linked through an adviser to this abuse.