Category Archives: International News

Giant Head of Pharaoh Unearthed in Egypt – Best Preserved Face of King Ever Found!

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A colossal red granite head of one of Egypt’s most famous pharaohs has been unearthed in the southern city of Luxor, officials said.

The 3,000-year-old head of Amenhotep III – grandfather of Tutankhamun – was dug out of the ruins of the pharaoh’s mortuary temple.

Experts say it is the best preserved example of the king’s face ever found.
The 2.5m (8ft) head is part of a larger statue, most of which was found several years ago.

Antiquities officials say the statue is to be reconstructed.

“Other statues have always had something broken – the tip of the nose, or the face is eroded,” said Dr Hourig Sourouzian, who has led the Egyptian-European expedition at the site.

“But here, from the top of the crown to the chin, it is so beautifully carved and polished, nothing is broken.”

Egypt’s antiquities chief, Zahi Hawass, described it as “a masterpiece of highly artistic quality”.
Amenhotep III ruled Egypt from about 1387 to 1348 BC and presided over a vast empire stretching from Nubia in the south to Syria in the north.

Scientists using DNA tests and CT scans on several mummies have identified him as the grandfather of Tutankhamun – the boy-king born of an incestuous marriage between Akhenaten and his sister, both the offspring of Amenhotep III.

The massive mortuary temple in Luxor was largely destroyed, possibly by floods, and little remains of its walls.

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Japan’s Nuclear Power Plant Can’t Cool Down after 8.9 Earthquake!

Tokyo (CNN) — Officials ordered an evacuation Friday of residents living near a Japanese nuclear power plant, saying there has been no sign yet of leaks but indicating a struggle to “cool down” one of the atomic facilities.

A 8.9-magnitude earthquake led to cooling problems and a fire at two of Japan’s nuclear plants closest to its epicenter, said government officials.

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Late Friday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters that people within 2 to 3 kilometers (1.2 to 1.8 miles) of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant have been told to leave the area. Those closer by — within 3 to 10 kilometers — were asked to stay home. Japan’s Kyodo News Agency estimated that the evacuation order directly affected about 3,000 people.

“This is a precautionary instruction for people to evacuate,” Edano said. “There is no radioactive leakage at this moment outside of the facility

Yet Edano said the Fukushima Daiichi reactor “remains at a high temperature,” because it “cannot cool down.” The Kyodo agency reported Friday that the radiation level was rising in a turbine building at the plant.

That plant and three others were shut down following the quake, after Japan declared a state of atomic power emergency.

Cham Gallas, a professor of disaster management at the University of Georgia, said that it wouldn’t be surprising if reactors get “both thermally hot and radioactively hot” after the reactors were shut down.

“When they shut down reactors, it takes a long time for them to go down,” said Dallas. “It does not necessarily mean radioactive material got out of the reactor.”

While authorities are “bracing for the scenario,” the minister said, “At this moment, there is no danger to the environment.”

Fire broke out at a second facility, the Onagawa plant, but crews were able to put that fire out, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The trouble at the Fukushima plant happened after the plant successfully shut down, Edano said. Crews had difficulty generating enough electricity to pump water into the facility to cool it, he said.

Janie Eudy told CNN that her husband, Joe, was working at the plant and was injured by falling and shattering glass when the quake struck. As he and others were planning to evacuate, at their managers’ orders, tsunami waves struck and washed buildings from the nearby town past the plant.

“To me, it sounded like hell on earth,” she said, adding that her husband ultimately escaped.

The government said earlier that it was sending senior officials and the defense force’s Chemical Corps to Fukushima power plant, according to the Kyodo news agency.

IDF soldier convicted of killing U.K. activist in Gaza released from jail

Read more: Gaza Strip, United Kingdom, Home News

Electric Vehicles Face One Crucial Hurdle: Where To Plug In?

Now a new generation of drivers is set to embark on a similar kind of experiment. Until recently, most electric vehicles, or EVs as they are often known, have had a range of just a few dozen miles, limiting their usefulness and appeal. That’s a big reason the long-talked-about era of electric vehicles has been, well, talked and talked about for so long with little real-world progress.

Read more: Hsbc, J.D.Power Automotive, Tesla Motors, Tesla Roadster, J.D. Power and Associates, Cars, Electric Vehicles, Mitsubishi, Japan, Ford, Ford Motel T, Business News

Max Blumenthal: “There Are No Civilians During Wartime.” Rachel Corrie’s Family Confronts the Israeli Military in Court

Cindy, Sarah, and Craig Corrie in the Haifa District Court for the second round of hearings in their civil suit against the Israeli government Cindy, Sarah, and Craig Corrie in the Haifa District Court for the second round of hearings in their civil suit against the Israeli government

In a small courtroom in Haifa’s District Court, a colonel in the Israeli engineering corps who wrote a manual for the bulldozer units that razed the Rafah Refugee Camp in 2003 offered his opinion on the killing of the American activist Rachel Corrie.

“There are no civilians during wartime,” Yossi declared under oath.

Yossi made his remarkable statement under withering cross examination by Hussein Abu Hussein, the lawyer for the family of Corrie, who was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer in Rafah on March 17, 2003. In the back of the courtroom were Rachel’s parents, Craig and Cindy, and her sister, Sarah, back in Israel for the second round of hearings in their civil suit against the state of Israel. They were joined by supporters, friends and a handful of reporters, including me. No reporters from the Israeli media were present — the case has been virtually ignored inside Israel.

In the immediate wake of Corrie’s killing, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, then the chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, instructed Corrie’s parents to demand a “thorough, fair and transparent investigation” from the Israeli government. Since then, the Israelis have stonewalled them, refusing to provide key details of their investigation, which was corrupted from the start by the investigators’ apparent attempts to find evidence that a bulldozer did not in fact kill Rachel.

A 2003 bill introduced in the House International Relations Committee calling for a thorough Israeli investigation in Corrie’s killing and for American efforts to prevent such killings from happening again garnered 78 signatures in support (Rahm Emanuel was the only Jewish signer). However, Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, one of the Israel lobby’s closest allies in Congress, prevented the bill from getting out of the committee. President George W. Bush could have pressed for a full floor vote on the bill but he did nothing. The bill died as a result.

Having been obstructed by the Israelis’ opaque investigation and betrayed by their own government (with notable exceptions like former Rep. Brian Baird), the Corries have been forced to take matters into their own hands. And so they have filed suit against the Israeli government for criminal negligence. Whether or not they will be able to secure the ruling they seek, Rachel Corrie’s family has already elicited a number of damning revelations about the Israeli army’s abuses in Gaza in 2003 and the machinations it has relied on to obscure evidence of its criminal conduct.

“I think we are in a situation similar to South Africa. What we are trying to make clear is that the truth has to be pursued diligently or we won’t make it to the point of reconciliation,” Craig Corrie told me, referring to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that enabled South Africa to peacefully transition from an apartheid system to representative democracy. “We need to understand and acknowledge the truth first.”

So far, the truth has not been easy to come by. The Corries are saddled with a judge who is said to have never ruled in favor of any plaintiff in a civil rights-related suit. And the defense has claimed unspecified state security concerns in its successful bid to avoid revealing the full contents of the investigation into Rachel Corrie’s killing — the family’s lawyers have only been allowed to view a summary. But the Corries’ legal efforts have not been in vain.

On the first day of hearings, the Corries’ lawyers were able to confirm through testimony from “Oded,” one of the investigators of Rachel Corrie’s killing, that Major General Doron Almog, then the head of the Israeli army’s Southern Command, had attempted to stop the military investigators from questioning the bulldozer operators who killed Rachel. When asked why he did not challenge Almog’s apparently illegal intervention, Oded stated that he was only 20-years-old at the time, with no college education and only a few months of training as an investigator. He was intimidated by the high-ranking officer who stormed into the room and menaced him and the other investigators. (Almog once canceled a trip to Britain after being warned that he would be arrested on arrival for ordering the destruction of 59 homes in the Rafah refugee camp in 2002).

Among the most disturbing aspects of Corrie’s case is the abuse of her body by Israeli authorities after she was killed. Craig Corrie recalled to me a panicked phone conversation he had with Will Hewitt, a friend and former classmate of Rachel Corrie who had just witnessed her killing.

“It’s getting dark over here and there are no refrigeration units for her body in Gaza,” Hewitt told Craig Corrie.

“Just leave it until tomorrow,” Craig replied. “We don’t want you or anyone else to get killed.”

“But her body is starting to smell,” Hewitt pleaded.

Somehow Hewitt and his fellow activists from the International Solidarity Movement were able to get Rachel Corrie’s body out of Gaza. But first Hewitt was ordered by Israeli troops to remove the body from the casket and carry it across a border checkpoint. Only Hewitt was allowed to escort Corrie’s body in the ambulance; the rest of the activists who witnessed her death were forced to hitchhike home in the desert. Finally, Corrie’s body was transported to the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute in Tel Aviv where the notorious Dr. Yehuda Hiss autopsied her.

Who is Dr. Hiss? The chief pathologist of Israel for a decade and a half, Hiss was implicated by a 2001 investigation by the Israeli Health Ministry of stealing body parts ranging from legs to testicles to ovaries from bodies without permission from family members then selling them to research institutes. Bodies plundered by Hiss included those of Palestinians and Israeli soldiers. He was finally removed from his post in 2004 when the body of a teenage boy killed in a traffic accident was discovered to have been thoroughly gnawed on by a rat in Hiss’s laboratory. In an interview with researcher Nancy Schepper-Hughes, Hiss admitted that he harvested organs if he was confident relatives would not discover that they were missing. He added that he often used glue to close eyelids to hide missing corneas.

When Craig and Cindy Corrie learned that Hiss would perform an autopsy on their daughter, they stipulated that they would only allow the doctor to go forward if an official from the American consulate was present throughout the entire procedure. An Israeli military police report stated that an American official did indeed witness the autopsy. However, when the Corries asked American diplomatic officials including former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzner if the report was true, they were informed that no American was present at all. The Israelis had lied to them, and apparently fixed their own report to deceive the American government.

On March 14, during the first round of hearings in the Corries’ civil suit, Hiss admitted under oath that he had lied about the presence of an American official during the autopsy of Rachel Corrie. He also conceded to taking “samples” from Corrie’s body for “histological testing” without informing her family. Just which parts of Corrie’s body Hiss took remains unclear; despite Hiss’s claim that he “buried” the samples, her family has not confirmed the whereabouts of her missing body parts.

“It’s so hard to know that Rachel’s body wasn’t respected,” Rachel’s sister, Sarah, told me. “Doctor Hiss and the Israeli government knew what our family’s wishes were. The fact that our wishes were disregarded and a judge hasn’t done anything is absolutely horrifying.”

The treatment of Rachel Corrie’s body is peripheral to her family’s lawsuit. But it demonstrates the degree to which she and those whose homes she died defending have been dehumanized — “there are no civilians during wartime,” as Colonel Yossi declared. Rachel Corrie’s family is seeking only one dollar in symbolic punitive damages from the Israeli government. Their real goal is to force a country in a perpetual state of warfare to treat its innocent victims as human beings, and to be held accountable if it does not.

“It is incredibly expensive for us to carry this case on both emotionally and financially,” Craig Corrie remarked. “It is a whole lot to ask of a private citizen. But as a family we still have the ability to do a lot, so we are going to carry this cause on for everyone who cannot.”

Read more: Palestine, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Gaza, George W. Bush, Rachel Corrie, Idf, Zionism, Israel, Israel Gaza Operation, Brian Baird, World News

Michael Russnow: Cutting Meat and Switching Hands to Eat: It’s the American Way, Though Not in Films or TV

On a recent trip to Germany, I was cutting my pizza with a knife and fork, and as I brought the food to my mouth, my friend, German TV star Andreas Stenschke, said, “What are you doing?”

He’d previously criticized me for wanting to slice the pizza in sections, admonishing me not to pick up the slice in my hands in a proper Italian restaurant. “This is not Pizza Hut!” he exclaimed. It seemed a little bossy, but he is quite Teutonic, though Andreas is normally amiable (take a look at him). Since I was doing what I was told I was starting to become neurotic.

Apparently what caught Andreas’ attention was that I cut my pizza with my right hand, holding the fork in my left and then, having done so, put the knife down and placed the fork in my right hand as I speared the food on its way to be eaten.

When I realized what he was talking about, I was still confused until he demonstrated while eating his own meal that, after cutting his meat, he kept the fork in his left hand and simply grasped a piece, which he directed to his mouth.

I’d never noticed this behavior before after almost twenty trips to Europe and many more points elsewhere on other continents and somehow figured I’d been eating wrong my entire life. But how could this have happened? Aren’t we all trained to follow certain customs, such as the proper way to hold a fork between your middle and forefinger?

He was so amazed at how I was eating, and I was so unnerved after the previous criticism that I asked him tentatively if what he’d just noticed was as bad as eating the pizza with my hands? “No,” he said still a bit irritated, while shaking his head at my strange comportment.

The rest of the trip went okay, but it gnawed at me a lot until I got home, wondering if I were the only one in the world who ate that way. So, just to make sure, I did the only thing I could think of. I did a search on the Internet.

It’s incredible what you can learn just by inserting some words or an odd question. In my case, “What is the proper way to cut and eat your meat?” Amazingly, even such a relatively long search request revealed a response. In a video, according to Phyllis Davis, President of Executive Mentoring and Coaching, Inc., she revealed that I was eating in the proper fashion. Other search results said the same, referring to the way I was eating as the “zig-zag” style and explaining that Europeans did it differently. The way Andreas was eating.

It also indicated that a relatively small percentage of Americans eat a la the Europeans. Yet almost all the movies and TV series I’ve lately been watching show American characters eating the “continental” way instead of the predominant American manner.

The question is why?

Okay, I’ve become a bit obsessed in my observations, but here are some examples from films and TV shows. In Revolutionary Road, Leonardo DiCaprio eats his steak the European way, as do the kids eating pancakes on ABC’s Desperate Housewives. Meryl Streep gobbles her food that way in Julie and Julia and so do the characters on the CW’s 90210 and Supernatural , Fox Network’s Master Chef, as well as recent films such as The Kids Are All Right, Flipped, The Other Guys and The Switch. Even David Letterman, in a bit on CBS’ The Late Show recently, ate a piece of steak as Andreas did.

Now, it’s one thing if there are occasional examples of Americans eating as Europeans do, but in the media it appears unanimous. It’s as if no one, not one single person that I’ve seen on a show or film eats as I do or the folks I dine with, and while some of you may eat in that manner, can you really say that just about everyone in the USA does, too?

Maybe there’s some sort of high fallutin’ thing going around in the creative community, that it’s hip to eat like a Frenchman or savvy to chow down like a German or Brit? It’s not like it’s more genteel. I still can’t get the image out of my mind of Queen Elizabeth shoveling food in her mouth that way. I will admit it’s more efficient. And perhaps there are those who feel it’s uncool and a waste of time to put down your knife and switch hands when you could be using the few seconds saved to text your friends.

Anyway, it’s real odd, and I broached the subject on my trip to France last May, where I challenged my young cousin David to watch what I was doing. I cut my chicken and then asked him. “Tu as changé ta main,” he said, realizing I’d switched the fork to my right hand. I shrugged and then, quite intrigued, noticed his father, after cutting his meat, was eating with his right hand. Could it be cousin Patrice was eating like an American? Turned out he was just left-handed.

Sacre bleu!

Michael Russnow’s website is ramproductionsinternational.com

Read more: Abc, Film, Germany, Late Night Shows, Family, The Other Guys, Eating Out, Phyllis Davis, Andreas Stenschke, Nbc, Fox, Zig-Zag Style of Eating, Cbs, Queen Elizabeth II, France, Julie and Julia, Satire, Master Chef, Supernatural, The Late Show, The KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, Meryl Streep, Great Britain, Michael Russnow, Desperate Housewives, Flipped, Revolutionary Road, Leonardo Dicaprio, Ram Productions, Cw, David Letterman, Europe, United Kingdom, Entertainment News

Japan approves new Iran sanctions

Tokyo imposes restrictions on Iranian business interests over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.

Read more: Tokyo-Japan, Japan, Tehran-Iran, Iran, Islamic Republic of Iran, Home News

Stacie Krajchir: The World’s Poshest Pools (PHOTOS)

There’s no argument, hotel pools are downright exciting; there’s something slightly tempting about all that glistening water set in a myriad of unfamiliar and seductive surroundings.

Some pools are hailed for their exclusive design or location, others for privacy, and of course there are those known solely for its serious social scene. Regardless of your pool personality, take a plunge into some of the world’s poshest pools.

Read more: South Africa, India, Thailand, Jackson Hole, France, Bali, Iceland, Miami, Slidepollajax, Swimming Pools, Travel News

David Harris: Is Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu a “Master Manipulator”?

The New York Times thinks so.

In a recent lead editorial entitled “President Abbas and Peace Talks,” ostensibly about the Palestinian leader, the paper couldn’t resist the temptation to take a swipe — or two or three — at Netanyahu. It could barely contain its rage, suspicion, and doubt about the Israeli prime minister. But, then again, that’s par for the course.

Go figure.

Since taking office, Netanyahu has moved his Likud Party squarely into the two-state camp. That’s no mean feat. The party fiercely resisted the idea since its inception. Indeed, previous Likud leaders Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert had to leave in order to stake out more centrist positions. Netanyahu has taken the party — at least important segments of it — with him in this historic turnaround both for him and his faction.

He has also removed dozens of security checkpoints on the West Bank, permitting freer movement of people and goods, and helped encourage the dramatic growth spurt in the Palestinian economy.

And he did what no predecessor ever had, agreeing to a temporary freeze on all new construction in West Bank Jewish settlements. Done at the behest of President Obama, this was intended as a goodwill gesture to help restart peace talks with the Palestinians. The domestic political price that had to be paid didn’t stop Netanyahu.

Meanwhile, he is juggling some staggering challenges.

First, when he assumed office in 2009, he faced a new U.S. administration that sent decidedly mixed signals about its attitude toward Israel. Indeed, many speculated that an early goal was to rejigger the Israeli government, perhaps removing Netanyahu in the process. Given the outsized role of America in Israel’s life, the bilateral issue alone kept Netanyahu rather busy.

Second, thanks to Israel’s outdated electoral laws, he has an awkward, time-consuming coalition that seeks to pull him in various, often contradictory, directions. While a different government make-up may be desirable, that has eluded Netanyahu to date.

Third, Iran is moving relentlessly toward the nuclear goal line, posing an unprecedented threat to Israel’s security. Any Israeli leader would be equally preoccupied with this menace and how to deal with it.

Fourth, Iran’s proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, are gaining in military strength. Both sit on Israel’s borders, and both are preparing themselves for new rounds of conflict with Israel, which, in their minds, has no right to exist. Hamas, in fact, has already stepped up deadly acts of terror in response to the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

And fifth, Syria is flexing its muscles once again, seeking advanced Russian weaponry and casting a long shadow on neighboring Lebanon’s affairs.

Moreover, Netanyahu presides over a country that has grown more skeptical of peace prospects over the past decade. That does not suggest any decline in the yearning for peace, only greater doubt that it can be achieved.

Three events in particular explain this attitudinal change.

There was the dramatic offer by Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in 2000, with the full support of President Bill Clinton, for a two-state settlement. The result? A Palestinian “intifada” that killed more than one thousand Israelis. In proportional terms, that would be the equivalent of 40,000 American fatalities.

There was the Israeli withdrawal from the security zone in southern Lebanon, also in 2000. The result? Hezbollah filled the vacuum, brought weaponry closer to the border, and triggered the 2006 war.

And then there was the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, giving local residents the first chance in their history to govern themselves. The result? Hamas took over, kicked out the Palestinian Authority in a bloody civil war, smuggled in heavy weapons, and fired thousands of missiles and mortars at Israel.

All this said, Netanyahu is serious about the direct peace talks launched a few days ago in Washington.

If the Times doesn’t think so, the paper may be the victim of its own journalistic blinders. It seems unwilling — or unable — to recognize that a political leader like Netanyahu can prove a dynamic, not a static, figure.

But then again, the paper — and many others as well — were slow to see how Ariel Sharon changed. Today, he’s viewed as a practically heroic figure for having confronted Israeli settlers in Gaza — the very settlers he encouraged to move there in the first place — and ordering the full withdrawal of Israeli soldiers and settlers from Gaza. Indeed, he had to create a new political party to carry out this policy.

Go back and read how Sharon was repeatedly derided as a “warmonger,” “bulldozer,” “hard-liner,” and “right-wing extremist” after he took office as prime minister in 2001 — even as the changes in his outlook became noticeable to anyone who cared to look.

Too many editorial boards, ivory towers, and foreign ministries, however, were too invested in the image of the “old” Sharon to grasp the changes before their very eyes.

And the same principle applied to the Obama administration when confronted, in March 2009, with the reality of Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister. He was viewed — and found wanting — through the prism of his first term as Israel’s leader a decade earlier.

Only recently has the administration come to realize that not only is Netanyahu’s position in Israel quite secure, but also that he has matured as a leader, charted a centrist path, and resolved — whatever the odds of success — to seek a peace accord with the Palestinian Authority.

No less importantly, if any Israeli leader can achieve an agreement today, Netanyahu is a pretty good bet for the role.

Given the Israeli public’s understandable skepticism about the chances for genuine peace with the Palestinians, it takes someone like Netanyahu — with his distinguished military background, hawkish views on security, and, as he likes to put it, lack of naiveté about the region — to give it a try. And if progress in the talks should entail further Israeli sacrifices, the deal will need to be sold to the Israeli people, another job tailor-made for him.

“The Jewish people is no stranger in our homeland, the land of our forefathers,” Netanyahu said in Washington last week. “But we recognize that another people share this land with us. And I came here today to find a historic compromise that will enable both peoples to live in peace, security and dignity.”

The words of a “master manipulator”?

Hardly.

The only manipulators here, sad to say, are those editorial writers at the Times who came up with the phrase.

Read more: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, New York Times, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel, World News, World News

Yoani Sanchez: The Unbearable Roundness of A Golf Ball

2010-09-03-GarradeLeonGolf.jpeg
As if cutting a cake before it is even baked, our government has extended to 99 years the right of foreign investors to use our land. Pieces of this nation will pass into the hands of those who hold foreign passports; meanwhile local entrepreneurs are granted the use of agricultural land, in usufruct, for a mere ten years. The Official Gazette speaks of the “real estate business” when we all know that land — our land — is not available to Cubans who would like to acquire a small sliver on which to build.

Another recent surprise has been the announcement of the creation of several golf courses throughout the island. With the objective of promoting classy tourism, they will open the greens and manicured lawns, surrounded by luxurious amenities. When I told a friend about the coming of these expanses for entertainment, the first thing she asked me was with what water are they planning to maintain the green freshness of the grass. She lives in a neighborhood where such provisions only come twice a week, and to her, the thought of water pumps spraying the precious liquid between one hole and another is a painful one. You’ll have to get used to it, my friend, because the abyss between the dispossessed citizens and those who come from abroad with bulging wallets…

I can already imagine the rest of the movie: to work on one of those golf courses will be a privilege for the most trustworthy; men in suits and ties, microphones attached, will be stationed all around to keep watch and ensure that locals cannot enter and… live and learn… the most prominent and faithful servants will also have their turn with the stick to complete a round with the ball. Hence, they are in training for that morning they plan to enjoy, when they will be on the golf course in their Bermuda shorts while we look on from the other side of the fence.

Read more: Golf in Cuba, Tourism-in-Cuba, Cuba, Land Owndership in Cuba, Water Shortges in Cuba, World News