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November 4, 2009

Tropical Storm Mirinae kills 90 in Vietnam

Filed under: Archived,Asia,Disasters and accidents,Vietnam,Weather — admin @ 5:00 am

Tropical Storm Mirinae kills 90 in Vietnam

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

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Vietnamese media reported on Wednesday that at least 90 people have been killed after Tropical Storm Mirinae passed through the country. Another 22 people were reported to be missing.

According to Vietnam News, the storm completely destroyed 154 houses, damaged 2,500 others, and flooded 1,800 hectares of farmland. Some dikes in the Phu Yen province were overloaded with water, further exacerbating the damage.

Around 2,000 soldiers were dispatched to assist with rescue efforts, and local authorities had asked for food aid from the government.

The Vietnamese disaster committee said that “it’s the most devastating flooding in more than 30 years in Phu Yen.”

Two people were also killed by Mirinae in neigbouring Cambodia, and a further 27 in the Philippines.



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Staffordshire hoard goes on display in British Museum in London, England

Staffordshire hoard goes on display in British Museum in London, England

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Archaeology
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Some of the notable pieces from the gold and silver hoard which was found in a private field in Staffordshire, England by a metal-detector user have been put on display in the British Museum in the city of London.

A photo of one of the gold pieces found in the Staffordshire hoard

Approximately 1,500 pieces were found in July of this year; the discovery was reported by news sources in September. The value of the hoard itself is still being checked. 18 of the pieces have now gone on display in the museum in London, England, and can be seen by members of the public.

Fred Johnson, who is the owner of the land in which the hoard was found, said: “It’s been an incredible experience. I’m overwhelmed by it all. They say this will change the history books; it’s a strange thought that came from something lying in my field all this time. I’m trying to keep a level head about it. I’m trying not to think at all about the value of it.” Johnson will share the sum of the value of the hoard with Terry Herbert, who found the pieces. The hoard is believed to date back to the 7th century.

“People laugh at metal detectorists,” Herbert said in late September. “I’ve had people go past and go ‘beep beep, he’s after pennies’. Well no, we are out there to find this kind of stuff and it is out there.”

Cquote1.svg What is interesting about the hoard as a whole is all the objects are associated with war to some or a greater extent. Cquote2.svg

—Michael Lewis, Deputy Head of Department of Portable Antiquities in the British Museum

Michael Lewis is the deputy head of the Department of Portable Antiquities in the British Museum. Speaking to BBC News about this event, he said: “The view is that it was probably in some sort of container but that has not survived and it was deliberately hoarded, put into the ground, what is unclear is why, and I suppose what we find is they would have been objects that had been stripped from the enemies’ weapons.

“What is interesting about the hoard as a whole is all the objects are associated with war to some or a greater extent. What the hoard consists of is mainly gold objects, there are some silver ones, basically they have been stripped from whatever they were on for instance sword fittings. What it demonstrates is that the Anglo-Saxons as a people were very able to do amazing things with objects and I reckon people nowadays attempting to make these objects would have great difficulty in doing so.”



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Sierra Leone rebel convicts sent to Rwandan jail

Sierra Leone rebel convicts sent to Rwandan jail

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

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Sierra Leone has transferred eight convicted former rebel leaders to Rwanda’s Mpanga prison to serve out their sentences.

Eight former rebels, convicted of atrocities committed during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war, have been transferred to a Rwandan prison to serve their sentences.

Last Sunday, the convicts were sent to Rwanda’s Mpanga prison, a facility that meets the minimum international standards for incarceration. The prisoners included both rebel and loyalist militia leaders, convicted of war crimes, including amputation, enlisting child soldiers, and sexual slavery.

The acting registrar for Sierra Leone’s Special Court, Binta Mansaray, said that there are no prisons in Sierra Leone that meet international standards. However, Rwanda is able and willing to enforce the sentences.

“They have excellent facilities as far as a prison is concerned,” Mansaray said. “Whereas in Sierra Leone, while the country is moving in the right direction in terms of strengthening democratic institutions, especially the security sector, we have been advised by past governments that the country is not yet in a position to enforce sentences due to weak institutional arrangements.”

Rwanda established the Mpanga prison to accommodate prisoners convicted of war crimes committed during the 1994 genocide. In March, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda signed an agreement with its fellow Special Court to hold prisoners convicted by the Sierra Leonean tribunal.



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Seventeen year old accused of raping four year old in Kherwadi, Mumbai

Filed under: Asia,India — admin @ 5:00 am

Seventeen year old accused of raping four year old in Kherwadi, Mumbai

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A seventeen year old resident of a slum in Bandra, Mumbai, India, along with his sixteen year old friend, has been accused of raping his four year old neighbour in his home when his parents were away yesterday around 22:00 (+5.5 UTC). The boys, both minors, are scheduled to appear in juvenile court today.

The four year old girl was called to Bindu’s home to mop some spilled water where he and his friend allegedly raped her. They then warned her not to tell anything about what happened there. The girl was left deserted in front of her home by the boys later.

Her mother was shocked to see the girl bleeding all over. Their parents, along with the child, rushed to V. N. Desai hospital where she is being treated. One of the neighbours said, “Though Bindu [the accused] was very mischievous, we never expected that he would do such a thing.” Bindu’s father was also unreachable.



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Polls held for US state and local elections, with incomplete GOP success

Polls held for US state and local elections, with incomplete GOP success

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

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Voters went to the polls on Tuesday for several US state elections seen by some as a referendum on the policies of President Barack Obama one year after his election (and by others as a purely local election). A few key races in the elections are in states the president carried last year.

Bob McDonnell was projected as the winner of the Virginia elections

In Virginia, results indicated that Republican candidate Bob McDonnell won over Democrat Creigh Deeds in the governor’s race. Polls suggested that many independent voters in the state who last year voted for Obama supported McDonnell.

Another race being closely watched was in New Jersey, normally a safe Democratic area. The New Jersey State Assembly remained Democratic, but the Republican challenger won the governorship. Democratic Governor Jon Corzine was competing with Republican challenger Chris Christie.

Obama has campaigned for both Democratic candidates, trying to avoid a result that Republicans would interpret as a rejection of his policies on the economy, health care and other issues.

Political analysts say Republican victories in both New Jersey and Virginia would energize the Obama administration’s opponents and set up a major battle for control of Congress in the 2010 midterm elections.

Elsewhere in the country, a closely watched special congressional election in upstate New York has exposed tensions between moderates and conservatives within the Republican party. A Democrat apparently won that seat, which the Republican candidate supported after retiring from the race.

In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is expected to easily win a third term in office. (He won, but by a closer margin than expected.) Mayoral races also are on the ballot in the cities of Atlanta, Houston, Boston, Detroit and Pittsburgh.

In a number of states, the public will vote on controversial issues such as legalized gambling, same-sex marriage (which lost) and allowing marijuana use for medical reasons (which won).



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Palestinian state set to be abandoned, says Erekat

Filed under: Israel/Palestine Conflict — admin @ 5:00 am

Palestinian state set to be abandoned, says Erekat

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Other stories on the Israel/Palestine conflict
Symbol for peace between Israel and Palestine.

Symbol for peace between Israel and Palestine.

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File photo of Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestine Liberation Organisation
Image: World Economic Forum.

According to the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, Palestinians may need to abandon their goal of creating an independent state should Israel continue expanding Jewish settlements on contested land. Erekat stated it was time for Mahmoud Abbas to “tell his people the truth, that with the continuation of settlement activities, the two-state solution is no longer an option”.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unsuccessfully asked Abbas to negotiate with Israel in order to solve the settlement issue, saying “[g]etting into final status negotiations will allow us to bring an end to settlement activity.” On a visit to Cairo, Clinton mentioned that Washington wanted an end to the activities in Israel.

Erekat commented that Clinton was only leading to more settlements in the following two years.

To “refocus their attention on the one-state solution where Muslims, Christians and Jews can live as equals”, Erekat said, is the only door open for the Palestinians. “It is very serious. This is the moment of truth for us.”

Erekat said Netanyahu told Abbas, “Jerusalem will be the eternal and united capital of Israel, that refugees won’t be discussed, that our state will be demilitarised, that we have to recognise the Jewish state, that it’s not going to be the 1967 borders, that the skies will be under his control”.



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French structuralist Claude Lévi-Strauss dies at age 100

French structuralist Claude Lévi-Strauss dies at age 100

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

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Claude Lévi-Strauss, French anthropologist who developed structuralism as a method of understanding human society and culture, has died in Paris at the age of 100.

Lévi-Strauss was born on November 28, 1908 in Brussels, Belgium. Lévi-Strauss studied law and philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Lévi-Strauss lived in Brazil from 1935 to 1939. It was during this time that he undertook his first ethnographic fieldwork, conducting periodic research forays into the Mato Grosso and the Amazon Rainforest. He studied first the Guaycuru and Bororo Indian tribes, actually living among them for a while. Several years later, he returned for a second, year-long expedition to study the Nambikwara and Tupi-Kawahib societies. It was this experience that cemented Lévi-Strauss’s professional identity as an anthropologist. Edmund Leach suggests, from Lévi-Strauss’s own accounts in Tristes-Tropiques, that he could not have spent more than a few weeks with any place and was never able to converse easily with any of his native informants in their native language.

The war years in New York were formative for Lévi-Strauss in several ways. His relationship with Roman Jakobson helped shape his theoretical outlook (Jakobson and Lévi-Strauss are considered to be two of the central figures on which structuralist thought is based). In addition, Lévi-Strauss was also exposed to the American anthropology espoused by Franz Boas, who taught at Columbia University on New York’s Upper West Side. In 1942 in fact, while having dinner at the Faculty House at Columbia, Boas died of a heart attack in Lévi-Strauss’s arms. This intimate association with Boas gave his early work a distinctive American tilt that helped facilitate its acceptance in the U.S. After a brief stint from 1946 to 1947 as a cultural attaché to the French embassy in Washington, DC, Lévi-Strauss returned to Paris in 1948. It was at this time that he received his doctorate from the Sorbonne by submitting, in the French tradition, both a “major” and a “minor” thesis. These were The Family and Social Life of the Nambikwara Indians and The Elementary Structures of Kinship.

Lévi-Strauss’ later works are more controversial, in part because they impinge on the subject matter of other scholars. He believed that modern life and all history was founded on the same categories and transformations that he had discovered in the Brazilian back country – The Raw and the Cooked, From Honey to Ashes, The Naked Man (to borrow some titles from the Mythologiques). For instance he compares anthropology to musical serialism and defends his “philosophical” approach. He also pointed out that the modern view of primitive cultures was simplistic in denying them a history. The categories of myth did not persist among them because nothing had happened – it was easy to find the evidence of defeat, migration, exile, repeated displacements of all the kinds known to recorded history. Instead, the mythic categories had encompassed these changes.

Lévi-Strauss is survived by his wife Monique Roman and two sons.



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Equatorial Guinea coup plotters pardoned, released from jail

Filed under: Africa,Archived,Crime and law — admin @ 5:00 am

Equatorial Guinea coup plotters pardoned, released from jail

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Equatorial Guinea
Other stories from Equatorial Guinea
  • 6 December 2009: Obiang reelected as president of Equatorial Guinea after elections
  • 4 November 2009: Equatorial Guinea coup plotters pardoned, released from jail
  • 20 June 2008: Guinea coup trial defendant names co-conspirators
  • 7 September 2005: UN holding recruitment exams in under-represented countries
  • 17 July 2005: Plane crash in Equatorial Guinea kills 55
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British mercenary Simon Mann was released from a jail in Equatorial Guinea after being pardoned for attempting to overthrow the government.

A map of Equatorial Guinea.

Mann, along with several dozen other suspected plotters, was arrested five years ago on charges of trying to start a coup to overthrow president Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. Their plans were foiled, however, and Mann was arrested after arriving in Zimbabwe to purchase firearms and grenades.

The conspirators had planned to install exiled opposition leader Severo Moto as president and to gain control over the country’s vast oil supplies. Equatorial Guinea is Africa’s third biggest oil producer.

The government said that the decision was made on compassionate grounds, seeing as Mann, aged 57, was reportedly not in good health. It stated that Mann had “shown sufficient and credible signs of repentance and a desire to take his place in society.”

Amnesty was also given to four other co-conspirators, among them Nick Du Toit, from South Africa. Mann was arrested along with 63 others in 2004 when his plane landed in Zimbabwe allegedly to collect arms bought from the country’s state arms manufacturer. He was extradited to Equatorial Guinea in 2008.



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