The Crimean War (October 1853 - February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire. The war was part of a long-running contest between major European powers for influence over territories of the declining Ottoman Empire.
It is sometimes considered to be one of the first "modern" wars as it "introduced technical changes which affected the future course of warfare", including the first tactical use of railways and the electric telegraph.
The Crimean War was one of the first wars to be documented extensively in written reports and photographs: notably by William Russell (for The Times newspaper). News from war correspondents reaching Britain from the Crimea kept the public informed of the day-to-day realities of the battlefield for the first time.
28 Feb 2014
The Crimean War (October 1853 - February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire. The war was part of a long-running contest between major European powers for influence over territories of the declining Ottoman Empire.
Egypt's military leaders have come under ridicule after the chief army engineer unveiled what he described as a "miraculous" set of devices that detect and cure Aids, hepatitis and other viruses.
The claim, dismissed by experts and called "shocking to scientists" by the president's science adviser, strikes a blow to the army's carefully managed image as the saviour of the nation. It also comes as General Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, who toppled Mohammed Morsi in July after the Islamist leader ignored mass protests calling for him to step down, is expected to announce he will run for president.
The televised presentation – which was made to Sisi, the interim president Adly Mansour and other senior officials – raised concerns that the military's offer of seemingly inconceivable future devices will draw Egypt back into the broken promises of authoritarian rule, when Hosni Mubarak frequently announced grand initiatives that failed to meet expectations.
26 Feb 2014
Part contemporary investigation and part historical inquiry, documentary follows the quest of one journalist in search of justice. The film focuses on Christopher Hitchens' charges against Henry Kissinger as a war criminal - allegations documented in Hitchens' book of the same title - based on his role in countries such as Cambodia, Chile, and Indonesia.
25 Feb 2014
Why do they hate us? With these five words in a controversial magazine article, Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy shot to fame, unleashing a devastating critique of womens rights in the Arab world.In the season premiere of Head to Head , Mehdi Hasan challenges Eltahawy on her views regarding the status of women in Arab states.Are Arab or Muslim societies inherently patriarchal? And how does the narrative of Islam as sexist play into geo-politics and Western stereotypes of the Middle East?
24 Feb 2014
"The right-wing women's group Concerned Women for America (CWFA) expressed outrage on Sunday that President Barack Obama condemned a Ugandan anti-LGBT bill that would punish homosexual behavior with lifetime imprisonment.
According to the Joe My God blog, CWFA spokesperson Janice Shaw Crouse said that the president's "arrogance is breathtaking" for saying that Ugandan government should stop imprisoning and torturing men it suspects of being gay.
On Sunday, Obama released an official White House statement condemning Uganda's proposed law outlawing same sex marriages and imposing lifetime prison sentences for repeated homosexual acts."
Bill O'Reilly has several issues regarding the Bible.
The most obvious one is how he thinks that somehow it becomes moral for someone to be killed for picking up sticks on the wrong day of the week, as long as its 'God' doing the killings.
Firstly he accepts that there are a lot of laws about slavery in the old testiment (Judeo-Christian), but then goes on to say that this Judeo-Christian philosophy is what the US constitution and declaration of independance was built around.
23 Feb 2014
Unless you're a die-hard fan of comics, you may not have heard of Rocket Raccoon just yet, but by this time next year you'll probably own the action figure. The first trailer for Marvel's latest superhero franchise film, Guardians of the Galaxy, appeared online this week – and many expect its break-out star to be the gun-toting, wise-cracking raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper.
Marvel's most recent movie, Thor: The Dark World, has passed the $200m (£120m) mark at the US box office, and the studio could earn up to a half a billion more from Rocket and co when Guardians is released in August. The character was originally created in 1976 by Bill Mantlo, but Marvel's ownership of the title means Mr Mantlo will not benefit directly from the movie's anticipated success.
That fact is all the more poignant because Mr Mantlo – once one of Marvel's most beloved contributors – has been seriously disabled since a hit-and-run accident in 1992. His family has struggled to pay his medical bills, and thanks to the vagaries of the US healthcare system, he now lives in unsatisfactory long-term care at an assisted-living facility in New York.
Bill Mantlo was a legendary writer for Marvel Comics in the 1970s and 1980s. But today, he inhabits a broken body abandoned by both the health insurance industry and the federal healthcare reform meant to help people like him. This is his story on Tragic Tale.
22 Feb 2014
Is the genie out of the bottle?
As one disgraced president fled Kiev in the early hours of Saturday morning, so another aspiring one had landed in the city by evening. Within a few hours of being released from her prison hospital in the eastern city of Kharkiv, Yulia Tymoshenko had flown to Kiev and was being wheeled into Independence Square to address the crowds.
Hunched in a wheelchair, needed because of back problems, but with a resolute expression and her hair pulled into her trademark plait, she yelled rousing words from the stage to the crowd, telling them they must stay in central Kiev until their work was over, and those responsible for the violence are punished.
"If we let those who shot bullets into the hearts of our heroes escape responsibility, if we forgive them, it will be our shame for ever," she said, in a voice cracked with emotion. She had earlier said she plans to run for president, in elections that could now come as early as May. "Our homeland will from today on be able to see the sun and sky as a dictatorship has fallen," she added.
21 Feb 2014
The Arizona Senate this week passed a Republican-backed bill that would allow people and businesses to refuse to serve homosexuals, for religious reasons.
Democrats and civil rights groups, including the ACLU, said Senate Bill 1062 would hurt Arizona's economy by, for instance, causing groups to cancel conventions and hold them elsewhere. Sponsor Steve Yarbrough of Chandler told the Arizona Republic, "This bill is about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith." The people living out their faith, presumably, would be the businessmen and -women who disapprove of the way other people have sex.
Ronald McNair grew up in Lake City, S.C. He grew up to become an astronaut. He was on the Challenger mission, which tragically exploded seconds after takeoff on Jan. 28, 1986. This is the actually funny story of how he started his journey in a time of great racial strife, as told by his brother to StoryCorps. And despite the tragedy, there's a little bit of a happy ending.
20 Feb 2014
A fatwa issued by Gulf imams has ruled it is un-Islamic to promote or be involved in a a one-way trip to the Red Planet.
According to reports in the Khaleej Times, a fatwa committee under the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the UAE, prohibits Muslims from being involved in such a journey as it would pose "a real risk to life" and is tantamount to suicide.
The report emerged after more than 500 people from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries were said to have signed up for a spot on the Mars One mission. The Mars One mission aims to establish a permanent human settlement on the red planet.
"Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse 4/29 of the Holy Koran: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful," the committee, chaired by Professor Dr Farooq Hamada, said.
Путин научит тебя любить Родину
Putin will teach you how to love
50 billion and a gay-driven rainbow,
Rodnina and Kabaeva will pass you those flames
In prison they will teach you how to obey
Salut to all bosses, hail, duce!
Putin will teach you how to love the motherland
Sochi is blocked - Olympic surveillance
Special forces, weapons, crowds of cops
FSB is an argument, the police is an argument
State tv will run your applause.
Putin will teach you how to love the motherland
Spring to Russia comes suddenly
Hello to the messiah as a shot from Avrora
The prosecutor will put you down
Give him some reaction and not those pretty eyes
A cage for the protests, vodka, matrioshka
Prison for May 6, more vodka and caviar
The Constitution is lynched, Vitishko's in prison
Stability, the prison meal, the fence and the watchtower
For TV Rain they've shut down the airwaves
They took gay pride down the washroom
A two-ass toilet - a priority
Sentence to Russia, medium security, 6 years
Putin will teach you how to love the motherland
Brutal footage of what appears to be Ukrainian special forces shooting dead protesters in Kiev has emerged. Residents in the capital have been warned not to go outside while snipers have been spotted firing into crowds.
Sky reporter David Bowden, who is in Kiev said: "Police are hitting back and are shooting – probably not at random – but they are shooting with live rounds at the protesters.
19 Feb 2014
The war in Syria is dragging neighbouring Lebanon to the edge of the abyss, and nowhere is the growing chaos more stark than in the second city of Tripoli. Sunni militants aligned with the Syrian rebels frequently clash with fighters from the city's encircled Alawite minority, who support the Assad regime, in bitter street fighting the country's weak government is powerless to stop. With the rule of law no longer in effect in Tripoli, warlords like Sunni commander Ziad Allouki are now the city's real rulers, so VICE hung out with him and his fighters for a week to discover why they're fighting, and whether the country really is on the brink of civil war.
Pussy Riot band Members have been attacked by Cossacks with batons, pepper spray and whips, as the young women attempted to perform a song near the seaport in the Olympic host city, Sochi.
In their tall, fur hats and embellished traditional jackets, hundreds of Cossacks are patrolling the streets of Sochi, Russia, as the 2014 Winter Olympic Games approach.
These Russian soldiers, whose ancestry dates back thousands of years, are known in the West for their gravity-defying dance style. Closer to home, the Cossacks have long symbolized rebellion and military might in Western and Southern Russia and Ukraine.
After the Bolsheviks (who later became Communists) came to power, they massacred many Cossacks for their opposition to the revolution. Since the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 20th century, there has been a revival of Cossack culture and pride in Russia and the former Soviet states. Russia has been turning to the Cossacks to help bolster security, even before Sochi was named as the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Thousands of riot police moved against the Maidan, the main protest camp in Kiev on Tuesday, attacking demonstrators with water canons and stun grenades, and setting fire to thousands of tents. Eighteen people have reportedly died in the fighting, a figure that includes several members of the Ukrainian police, while hundreds have been left injured as the clashes over the nation’s future turned into what increasingly resembles outright war.
Three months of confrontation in Ukraine between the president and a large protest movement reached its peak on Tuesday night in the worst bloodshed since the country separated from Moscow more than two decades ago, with more than 20 people reported killed as riot police moved in to clear Kiev's Independence Square, the crucible of the anti-government activism.
Hopes for a settlement of the crisis went up in smoke amid scenes of rioting, burning buildings, police bombings and rubber bullets that also left up to 500 people injured.
18 Feb 2014
A trade ban on lacy lingerie has Russian consumers and their neighbors with their knickers in a twist. The ban will outlaw any underwear containing less than 6 percent cotton from being imported, made, or sold in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. And it has struck a chord in societies where La Perla and Victoria's Secret are panty paradises compared to Soviet-era cotton underwear, which was often about as flattering and shapely as drapery.
On Sunday, 30 women protesters in Kazakhstan were arrested and thrown into police vans while wearing lace underwear on their heads and shouting "Freedom to panties!" The ban in those three countries was first outlined in 2010 by the Eurasian Economic Commission, which regulates the customs union, and it won't go into effect until July 1. But a consumer outcry against it already is reaching a fever pitch.
Suspected Boko Haram Islamists have killed more than 100 people in an attack on a village in Nigeria, a local senator said.
The attackers stormed the village in Nigeria's restive northeastern Borno state on Saturday, slaughtering scores of civilians and sending many others fleeing.
"A hundred and six people, including an old woman, have been killed by the attackers, suspected to be Boko Haram gunmen," senator Ali Ndume told AFP.
"Sixty of the dead have been buried while the rest are awaiting burial," he said, adding the attacks in the area were becoming "deadlier and more frequent by the day."
The raid took place on Saturday in the mostly Christian village of Izghe in Borno, which has been under emergency rule since May last year in a bid to stop an Islamist rebellion that has claimed thousands of lives since 2009.
A local farmer who escaped by scaling the fence of his house and crawling on his belly for 40 minutes said the attackers had gone door-to-door looking for those hiding in their houses. "The attackers came around 9:30 PM (20.30 GMT) in six trucks and some motorcycles. They were dressed in military uniform," Barnabas Idi said.
"They asked men to assemble at a place, and began hacking and slaughtering them." There were no security forces in the town at the time of the attack, he said.
An asylum seeker has been killed and at least 77 injured in the second riot this week at a detention centre in Papua New Guinea used to process asylum seekers, Australia's Immigration Minister said.
One person was in critical condition with a head injury and another sustained gunshot wounds during the clashes on a small island in impoverished Papua New Guinea.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says the riot began when detainees forced their way out of the centre, but refugee advocates insist it was sparked when Manus Island residents and police stormed the facility, attacking the asylum seekers.
The facility is part of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's tough stance against asylum seekers but it has come under fire over human rights concerns.
17 Feb 2014
Banaz Mahmod was murdered by her own family, in an honour killing. This film tells Banaz’s story, in her own words, for the first time – and tells the story of the extraordinary police team who refused to give up, and finally brought her killers to justice.
This is a documentary film chronicling an act of overwhelming horror – the honour killing of Banaz Mahmod, a young British woman in suburban London in 2006, killed and “disappeared” by her own family, with the agreement and help of a large section of the Kurdish community, because she tried to choose a life for herself.
US ignorance at its best.
During the filming of a story about chronic homelessness, Anderson Cooper met a lot of people who live on the street. He got to know many of them on a personal level, which made him aware that he didn’t even acknowledge a homeless person in his own neighborhood.
16 Feb 2014
The grim statistic comes from the Pravasi Nepali Co-ordination Committee, a respected human rights organisation which compiles lists of the dead using official sources in Doha. It will pile new pressure on the Qatari authorities – and on football's world governing body, Fifa – to curb a mounting death toll that some are warning could hit 4,000 by the time the 2022 finals take place.
It also raises the question of how many migrant workers in total have died on construction sites since Qatar won the bid in 2010. Nepalese workers comprise 20% of Qatar's migrant workforce, and many others are drafted in from countries such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
A focus on the Nepalese deaths has seen Fifa and Qatar battling a PR crisis that threatens to cast a long shadow over the event. Last week, appearing before EU officials, Theo Zwanziger, a senior Fifa executive who has publicly criticised the decision to award the tournament to Qatar, pledged that his organisation would be carrying out "on-the-spot visits" to ensure that workers' rights were being respected.
15 Feb 2014
Cartoons are dangerous. Did you know that? In fact, Chevron wants a US Federal Court to believe cartoons are even more dangerous than dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into the Ecuadorian Amazon and then suing the very people it poisoned. Suppressing free speech, crushing critics with legal attacks, and violating the 1st Amendment – also less scary than cartoons, according to Chevron.
Pulitzer Prize winning animator Mark Fiore discovered this when we pointed out that Chevron's latest legal filing in their bogus RICO action against the Ecuadorians and their supporters included these lines:
Chevron Has Suffered, and Will Continue to Suffer, Ongoing Injuries
...Chevron continues to be threatened with a variety of "real, immediate, and direct" injuries.
...they have already unleashed a barrage of near-daily press releases, letters to government officials and shareholders, web videos, and cartoons in an effort to extort a payoff from Chevron.
Fiore explains it on his blog in Part 1 and Part 2. He (@MarkFiore and @The_Donny_Rico) then created a Twitter-storm and it's been picked up by Salon.com among others. It was only a matter of time before he too joined the ranks of the "global conspirators" in Chevron’s eyes. Yep, Donny Rico nailed it! You see, the juiciest irony here is that the "cartoon" is a satirical parody of a mobster – Donny Rico – explaining how "he and Chevron" can show other corporations how to silence the critics of their environmental and human rights crimes.
A UN panel has reportedly found crimes against humanity have been committed in North Korea and will call for an international criminal investigation. The commission says it has found evidence of an array of crimes, including "extermination," crimes against humanity against starving populations and a widespread campaign of abductions of individuals in South Korea and Japan.
The UN has not yet confirmed the report's accuracy but North Korea's UN mission in New York has rejected the report's findings. North Korea's ally, China, would be likely to block any referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The commission conducted public hearings with more than 80 victims and other witnesses in Seoul, Tokyo, London and Washington, but was not allowed into North Korea itself, recommends that the UN Security Council refer its findings to the ICC in The Hague. Testimony by North Korean defectors at last year's hearings produced accounts of systematic rape, murder and torture, and suffering during the famine of the late 1990s.
The report refers to murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortion, sexual violence, forcible transfers and forced disappearances, and persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds. It also cites the overall system of political repression, the 'songbun' class system that discriminates against North Koreans on the basis of their family's perceived loyalty to the regime, and executions and punishment through forced labor in the North's gulag.
Other than speaking to defectors, the commission heard from experts about North Korea's network of camps, estimated to hold 80,000 to 120,000 political prisoners, and about access to food in the country, where many children suffer stunted growth because of malnutrition.
14 Feb 2014
The Putin System - a point-of-view documentary that presents an ominous view of what Putin is willing to do to ensure Russia regains its position on the world stage.
The Putin System chronicles the remarkable life of Putin, a tough, young leader who is not afraid to make harsh decisions and holds a secret purpose-to restore the old Russia of his dreams.
The Putin System is directed by Jean-Michel Carré in association with Jill Emery for the French production company Les Films Grain De Sable.
13 Feb 2014
Elena Klimova, the journalist and creator of the " Children 404", is prosecuted under Article 6.21 of the Administrative Code
Elena Klimova, the journalist and creator of the "Children 404", is prosecuted under Article 6.21 of the Administrative Code ("Promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors") by the Russian Interior Ministry in Nizhny Tagil.
Elena is blamed for "the creation of the group in social Russian internet network VK , which promotes non-traditional sexual relations." In March 2013 she published a series of articles on the situation of adolescents who aware of their homosexuality. After this publication she began to receive a large number of responses from these adolescents. They talked about their experiences and the challenges they faced. Elena launched the project "Children 404", where these letters were published, and it eventually became the meeting place for LGBT teens. "If it is closed, LGBT teens lose the only place where they can talk openly about themselves and get advice to help them live. It would be a disaster," - says Elena Klimova.
Elena had her first questioning on January 17 this year. Then "propaganda" had not been seen in the Klimova’s project. What was the reason for the change of the decision remains a mystery. Last report doesnt specified, on what basis made officers decided that she had created the group "promoting unconventional sexual relationship."
12 Feb 2014
Alexei stops in his tracks as he sees a half-breed Labrador snooping around at a cafe's back door.
The dog comes obediently on his whistle. Alexei strokes it and in one swift movement takes it in his arms like a newborn baby.
Rushing past surprised passers-by, Alexei carries the equally-surprised dog to his car parked round the corner and places it gently on the back seat.
Alexei is one of a dozen people in the emerging movement of animal activists in Sochi alarmed by reports that the city has contracted the killing of thousands of stray dogs before and during the Olympic Games. Activists have been picking up dogs from the streets and putting them up at their homes or in temporary shelters before finding an owner elsewhere.
Stray dogs are a common sight on the streets of Russian cities, but with massive construction in the area the street dog population in Sochi and the Olympic park has soared. Useful as noisy, guard dogs, workers feed them to keep them nearby and protect buildings. The dogs — friendly rather than feral — soon lose their value and become strays.
Tonight, a few dogs will be taken on their way to a new life.
11 Feb 2014
with Shirley Temple
Baby Burlesks is the collective series title of eight thematically unrelated one-reeler films produced in 1932 and 1933. The eight films are satires on major motion pictures, film stars, celebrities, and current events, and are sometimes racist and sexist. Cast members are preschoolers clad in adult costumes on the top and diapers fastened with large safety pins on the bottom.
Many of the children employed in the series were recruited from Meglin's Dance School in Hollywood, and, when not rehearsing or shooting, were sent out by the studio as advertising models for a variety of products (including breakfast cereals and cigars) in order to underwrite the costs of film production.
The series is notable for featuring three-year old Shirley Temple in her first screen appearances. In her 1988 autobiography, the actress describes the Baby Burlesks as "a cynical exploitation of our childish innocence". She also said the films were "the best things I ever did". (Wikipedia)
10 Feb 2014
This is a first-hand account of life inside an Australian immigration detention facility, told from the perspective of a former employee of Serco, the ubiquitous multinational service provider that runs the nation’s onshore centres. Realised in a comic-book style and drawn from exclusive interviews and diary entries from the ex-employee, A Guard’s Story offers rare insight into how Australia’s outsourced detention facilities are run.
Like all Serco employees, our informant signed a confidentiality agreement and has taken a significant personal risk by talking to us. Prior to being employed by Serco, our source was sympathetic to the plight of asylum seekers in Australia’s detention facilities and took on a job as a “client support worker” to try to help people from inside the system.
This is the horrific moment schoolchildren crowded around to watch as the body of a perfectly healthy giraffe was chopped up before being fed to lions. Despite more than 20,000 people signing an online petition to save two-year-old Marius, staff at Copenhagen Zoo yesterday went ahead and shot the animal with a bolt pistol. Young children stood at arm’s length as his carcass was skinned and dissected before the meat was thrown to the lions.
American political leaders of both parties are war mongering psychopaths. They do not care about you, your family, or the lives of innocent people. Watch as they laugh and make jokes about suffering and death.
"One of Russia's leading gay activists was arrested on Friday while taking part in a protest shortly before the opening ceremony of the £30bn Winter Olympics. Anastasia Smirnova was one of four activists detained in St Petersburg on the opening day of the Sochi Games as the group photographed a banner citing the Olympic Charter's words against discrimination. Further arrests were later made in Moscow where 10 people were arrested, two of them believed to be Swedish. The arrests came amid international concern at Russia's treatment of gays, especially newly enacted laws which make gay "propaganda" among minors and offence. Calls to boycott the Games have largely been ignored but some athletes are understood to be planning to hold up six fingers when the cameras are on them to bring attention to the Olympic Charter's Principle 6...".* Cenk Uygur, Dave Rubin (host, The Rubin Report), Ben Mankiewicz (co-host of What The Flick?! and TYT Sports) and comedian Jimmy Dore break it down on The Young Turks.
Read more here from Lewis Smith / The Independent:
9 Feb 2014
These are the facts of the case:
1. It's now admitted (June 2013) that there was a police bomb training at the EXACT time and location where the "bombs" when off
2. The captured brother was videotaped carrying a WHITE, not a black one
3. An eye witness reported that the killed brother was hit by a police car and then shot - he was not run over by his fleeing brother
4. The captured brother was photographed functional and non-bloody when he surrendered. He went to the hospital on a gurney, covered in blood with a wound to his throat so serious he was put in intensive care
5. One of the friends of the accused - who was unarmed and on crutches - was shot by an FBI agent SEVEN times during an interview and this murder is still unexplained. The original report said he attached the agent with a samurai sword. A lie.
If you still think Boston was real, watch this: The story of the Boston "hero"
Hashem Shaabani, was executed on January 27th by the order of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. From Radio Free Europe: An Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal reportedly had sentenced the poet to death, along with 14 others, last July on charges that included “waging war on God.”
Press reports said Shaabani was hanged after his sentence was approved by President Hassan Rohani. In a statement on February 5, Freedom House said Shaabani was subjected to severe torture and interrogation during his three years in prison.
Human Rights Voices also reports on the execution, writing: To those who knew him, Hashem Shaabani was a man of peace and understanding struggling to extend spaces of individual freedom within the despotic Khomeinist system…In one of his letters from prison, made available to use through his family, Shaabani says he could not have remained silent against ‘hideous crimes against Ahvazis perpetrated by the Iranian authorities, particularly arbitrary and unjust executions.’ He adds “I have tried to defend the legitimate right that every people in this world should have which is the right to live freely with full civil rights. With all these miseries and tragedies, I have never used a weapon to fight these atrocious crimes except the pen.’”
8 Feb 2014
Paracas is a desert peninsula located within the Pisco Province in the Ica Region, on the south coast of Peru. It is here were Peruvian archaeologist, Julio Tello, made an amazing discovery in 1928 – a massive and elaborate graveyard containing tombs filled with the remains of individuals with the largest elongated skulls found anywhere in the world. These have come to be known as the ‘Paracas skulls’. In total, Tello found more than 300 of these elongated skulls, which are believed to date back around 3,000 years. A DNA analysis has now been conducted on one of the skulls and expert Brien Foerster has released preliminary information regarding these enigmatic skulls.
The results of a DNA analysis of one of the skulls are now back, and Brien Foerster, author of more than ten books and an authority on the ancient elongated headed people of South America, has just revealed the preliminary results of the analysis. He reports on the geneticist's findings: It had mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) with mutations unknown in any human, primate, or animal known so far. But a few fragments I was able to sequence from this sample indicate that if these mutations will hold we are dealing with a new human-like creature, very distant from Homo sapiens, Neanderthals and Denisovans. The implications are of cause huge. “I am not sure it will even fit into the known evolutionary tree,” the geneticist wrote. He added that if the Paracas individuals were so biologically different, they would not have been able to interbreed with humans.
7 Feb 2014
A Dutch snowboarder is the first athlete to protest against Russia’s anti-gay laws, at an Olympic event in Sochi yesterday. Cheryl Maas, one of just six openly gay athletes at the Games, made the protest at the Ladies’ Slopestyle event.
After finishing her run, she approached the camera and showed off her rainbow-and-unicorn decorated gloves, before walking off defiantly.
Thousands of Saudis vented their anger online over a report Thursday that staff at a Riyadh university had barred male paramedics from entering a women's-only campus to assist a student who had suffered a heart attack and later died.
The Okaz newspaper said administrators at the King Saud University impeded efforts by the paramedics to save the student's life because of rules banning men from being onsite. According to the paper, the incident took place on Wednesday and the university staff took an hour before allowing the paramedics in.
Amna Bawazeer suffered a heart attack and collapsed suddenly on the campus on Wednesday. Her death sparked a debate on Twitter by Saudis who created a hashtag to talk about the incident. In the debate, many Saudis said the kingdom's strictly enforced rules governing the segregation of the sexes were to blame for the delay in helping Bawazeer. Saudi Arabia follows a strict interpretation of Islam. Sexes are segregated in schools and almost all Saudi universities. Women also have separate seating areas and often separate entrances in "family" sections of restaurants and cafes where single males are not allowed. The kingdom's top cleric has warned against the mixing of the genders, saying it poses a threat to female chastity and society.
With the world debating the rights and wrongs of the Olympics taking place in a country where a law banning gay education was recently passed, and activists opposing the ban are treated harshly by the state, the UK television station has made its feelings known.
In addition, they've produced this striking new trailer - 'Gay Mountain' - to wish good luck to ALL athletes competing at the Games – gay or straight – with the message “good luck to everyone out in Sochi”. Bravo!
6 Feb 2014
Iraqi authorities are detaining thousands of women illegally and subjecting many to torture and ill-treatment, including the threat of sexual abuse, Human Rights Watch said in a report published on Thursday.
Many women were detained for months or even years without charge before seeing a judge, HRW said, and security forces often questioned them about their male relatives' activities rather than crimes in which they themselves were implicated.
In custody, women described being kicked, slapped, hung upside-down and beaten on the soles of their feet, given electric shocks, threatened with sexual assault by security forces during interrogation, and even raped in front of their relatives and children.
"The abuses of women we documented are in many ways at the heart of the current crisis in Iraq," said HRW's deputy Middle East and North Africa director Joe Stork in a statement accompanying the report, titled: "'No One Is Safe': Abuses of Women in Iraq's Criminal Justice System."
"These abuses have caused a deep-seated anger and lack of trust between Iraq's diverse communities and security forces, and all Iraqis are paying the price."
Turkey's Parliament approved a law on Thursday that would grant sweeping new powers to the government to censor and monitor the Internet traffic of citizens.
The law, which still requires final approval by the country's president, would permit the government to quickly shutter a website deemed inappropriate, and orders Internet companies to store traffic and other data for two years.
The user data storage provisions of the bill are reminiscent of plans discussed by the Obama administration to require cellular phone companies to store the "metadata" of citizens for a set period of time. That data could later be ordered to be turned over to investigating government agencies, and could be used to track or otherwise monitor phone users. In the U.S., those discussions came in the aftermath of the revelations leaked by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
In Turkey, the new law comes amid a difficult period for the country's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has faced challenges to his rule from a popular protest movement, as well as a murky powerbroker with ties to the security state. The government has increasingly responded to attacks on its authority with crackdowns, especially on free speech and the press.
A military ceremony in the Central African Republic ended in violence Wednesday after soldiers lynched a man to death who they suspected of being a former rebel, according to AFP journalists. Minutes after the departure of officials from the ceremony in the capital Bangui, including interim President Catherine Samba Panza, the soldiers attacked a young man in civilian clothes, hitting, stabbing and throwing stones at him.
His body was then dragged though the streets as African Union troops looked on. Pictures showed a soldier stamping on the bloodied head of the man while another prepared to stab him in the side. The lynching was carried out under the noses of soldiers from the African Union-led MISCA mission, which was providing security at the event.
An activist who has been monitoring environmental fallout from the Sochi Olympics has been jailed for five days for resisting police, apparently part of a continuing harassment campaign against local activists.
Igor Kharchenko was grabbed on the street in the regional capital of Krasnodar late Tuesday afternoon as he left his house and found his car smashed, an associate, Olga Soldatova, said Wednesday. Police charged him with resisting police orders. Soldatova, who was with him at the police station, said Kharchenko was given a blank sheet of paper instead of a protocol sanctioning his detention.
Kharchenko was put on trial behind closed doors Wednesday and sentenced to five days in jail for disobeying police orders. "They were leading Kharchenko out, and he told us he got 5 days, without a proper trial, lawyer or witnesses," said Soldatova, who was at the courthouse.
5 Feb 2014
A U.N. human rights committee denounced the Vatican on Wednesday for adopting policies that allowed priests to rape and molest tens of thousands of children over decades, and urged it to open its files on the pedophiles and the churchmen who concealed their crimes.
In a devastating report, the U.N. committee also severely criticized the Holy See for its attitudes toward homosexuality, contraception and abortion and said it should review its policies to ensure children's rights and their access to health care are guaranteed.
On sex abuse, "the committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by, and the impunity of, the perpetrators," the report said.
It called for the sex abuse commission that Pope Francis announced in December to conduct an independent investigation of all cases of priestly abuse and the way the Catholic hierarchy has responded over time, and urged the Holy See establish clear rules for the mandatory reporting of abuse to police.
A new Afghan law will allow men to attack their wives, children and sisters without fear of judicial punishment, undoing years of slow progress in tackling violence in a country blighted by so-called "honour" killings, forced marriage and vicious domestic abuse.
The small but significant change to Afghanistan's criminal prosecution code bans relatives of an accused person from testifying against them. Most violence against women in Afghanistan is within the family, so the law – passed by parliament but awaiting the signature of the president, Hamid Karzai – will effectively silence victims as well as most potential witnesses to their suffering.
"It is a travesty this is happening," said Manizha Naderi, director of the charity and campaign group Women for Afghan Women. "It will make it impossible to prosecute cases of violence against women … The most vulnerable people won't get justice now."
4 Feb 2014
Saudi Arabia put into effect a sweeping new counterterrorism law Sunday that human rights activists say allows the kingdom to prosecute as a terrorist anyone who demands reform, exposes corruption or otherwise engages in dissent.
The law states that any act that "undermines" the state or society, including calls for regime change in Saudi Arabia, can be tried as an act of terrorism. It also grants security services broad powers to raid homes and track phone calls and Internet activity.
Human rights activists were alarmed by the law and said it is clearly aimed at keeping the kingdom's ruling Al Saud family firmly in control amid the demands for democratic reform that have grown louder since the Arab Spring protests that shook the region in 2011 and toppled longtime autocrats.
Saudi activist Abdulaziz al-Shubaily described the law as a "catastrophe." And Human Rights Watch researcher Adam Coogle warned: "The new law is draconian in spirit and letter, and there is every reason to fear that the authorities will easily and eagerly use it against peaceful dissidents." The measure was approved by the Cabinet on Dec. 16 and ratified by King Abdullah. It was published in its entirety for the first time on Friday in the government's official gazette Um Al-Qura.
3 Feb 2014
An activist who has reported on the environmental fallout from construction for the Sochi Olympics was found guilty Monday of swearing in public and ordered jailed for 15 days, his lawyer said. Yevgeny Vitishko, who is serving a three-year, suspended sentence for spray-painting a fence, had planned on traveling to Sochi to present an environmental report.
Alexander Popkov, a lawyer for Vitishko in Sochi, told The Associated Press that his client was arrested as he was about to leave the town of Tuapse, 72 kilometers (45 miles) northwest of Sochi along the Black Sea coast, after formally filing for permission to travel to the Olympic city. He was found guilty of swearing at a bus stop, a hooliganism charge.
Vitishko and another activist, Suren Gazaryan, were found guilty in 2012 of "deliberate destruction of property" for spray-painting the fence of what they said was a local governor's property in a national forest where construction is forbidden. Both men received a suspended sentence, but Gazaryan was later threatened with more charges and fled Russia. He was granted political asylum in Estonia. Vitishko is a member of the Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus, a group that has been key in shedding light on environmental damage in the Sochi area. The organization is expected to present a new report on Sochi later this month.
Valery Khachaturyan, another activist who was present at Vitishko's trial, told the AP that the court session lasted barely four minutes. The judge refused Vitishko's motion to summon witnesses who said he was swearing in public. Vitishko told the court he was visiting authorities of the penitentiary at the time when the unidentified witness claimed he was swearing at a bus station, Khachaturyan said.
The 15-day sentence means that Vitishko won't be in the Sochi area for most of the Olympics, as well as the torch relay through Tuapse. Although Russians swear abundantly in public, it is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine or up to 15 days in jail. It is an offense that is rarely enforced.