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May 31, 2013

Highly preserved mammoth presents scientists with blood sample

Highly preserved mammoth presents scientists with blood sample

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Friday, May 31, 2013

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A woolly mammoth on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
Image: Kevin Burkett.

An extremely well preserved woolly mammoth has been found by Russian scientists in Siberia, announced Wednesday.

The adult female was found with blood preserved still intact in ice cavities. When palaeontologists excavated the animal, blood flowed from the space below the animal’s abdomen.

The discovery was made on the Lyakhovsky Islands by scientists from the North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, who estimated the animal’s age at 10,000 years.

The temperature of the ice at time of excavation was estimated between −7 °C (19 °F) and −10 °C (14 °F). This has led scientists to believe mammoth blood may contain some cryoprotectant, making it resistant to freezing.

Scientists are currently discussing the possibility of resurrecting extinct animals from their DNA. Along with blood samples taken from the site, scientists also discovered well-preserved muscle tissue described as the color of fresh red meat.

The scientists hypothesise the mammoth had fallen into a swamp or water, where she was trapped and eventually died. The remains are to be transported to Yakutsk and tested to ensure there are no dangerous diseases present.

Researchers said this mammoth is the best-preserved ever discovered.



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May 27, 2013

Catholic pilgrimage in Donglü blocked by Chinese police again

Catholic pilgrimage in Donglü blocked by Chinese police again

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Chinese police
Image: Setois3.

As every May in past seventeen years, Donglü is surrounded by blue police tents again. The authorities used roadblocks to isolate this Chinese village from the rest of the world, in order to prevent Catholic pilgrims from attending the yearly Virgin Mary parade. The village itself is monitored by security officials. Red banners urge the citizens to maintain order.

Donglü lies only 100 miles from Beijing. According to local parishioners, a Virgin Mary apparition took place here in 1900. At that time, Chinese Christians were one of the targets of the Boxer Uprising violence, so the miracle was an important spiritual boost for locals.

In 1995, more than 30 thousand pilgrims reportedly witnessed an apparition of Mary prompting the Chinese government to use thousands of troops to isolate the village for the whole May. Since then, this has became a regular image of Donglü in May.



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May 26, 2013

Kamchatka deep-focus underwater earthquake reaches Moscow

Kamchatka deep-focus underwater earthquake reaches Moscow

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Friday, an undersea earthquake off the far east coast of Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula was felt in the capital city of Moscow, 10,000 kilometers away. The earthquake occurred 600km below sea level in the Okhotsk Sea and recorded an 8.2 magnitude on the Richter Scale, with the Moscow shock measured as 1.0 on the scale. No casualties or damage were reported.

Citizens in Moscow said that the tremors were not “really strong” but they were enough to shake things hanging on walls. The last time such a shock was felt in Moscow was in 1984.

Alexei Lyubushin, chief researcher of the Institute of Physics of the Earth at the Russian Academy of Sciences said it is common for such quakes to have large scale but low damage, “This is a so-called deep-focus earthquake, that’s why it was felt at such a large territory. If an earthquake happens at such a low depth, the waves move along low layers, practically the mantle, but weaken significantly before reaching the earth surface. This is why there usually is no injuries or casualties in such cases. … The waves can even move through the Earth’s core.”

Sahkalin Island was under a tsunami warning on Friday, however, it was lifted soon after. The island may have to prepare for a tsunami situation again, with another under sea earthquake predicted in the next week with a magnitude of over 7.0.



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May 25, 2013

Rugby union: Noosa thrash Caloundra in Caloundra

Rugby union: Noosa thrash Caloundra in Caloundra

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A nominal crowd on hand to witness Noosa defeat Caloundra to the tune of 40 points.
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Caloundra, Queensland — Today in A-grade rugby union on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, a five-try second half has seen Noosa thrash Caloundra by 40 points — 62 points to 22. Caloundra opened the scoring with a converted try but Noosa hit back with two tries of their own to lead 14–7.

Caloundra 22
Noosa 62
Lighthouse Park
Caloundra, Queensland
Australia

Noosa scored two further tries to half time while Caloundra could only score penalty goals. The half time score was 26–19 in Noosa’s favour. Caloundra opened the scoring in the second half kicking a penalty goal but would not score again for the rest of the match.

The score remained steady until the final fifteen minutes. Through a combination of poor defense at times from Caloundra and expansive running rugby, Noosa was able to run in five tries, of which four were converted. Final score — Noosa 62, Caloundra 22.

In other results, Caboolture defeated University 34–10 and Fraser Coast forfeited to Nambour.



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May 22, 2013

Same-sex marriage passes third reading in House of Commons

Same-sex marriage passes third reading in House of Commons

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Maria Miller: “Let us make equal marriage possible because it’s the right thing to do, and then let us move on.”
Image: Department for Work and Pensions.

The UK House of Commons voted yesterday to approve the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at third reading, with 366 MPs supporting and 161 MPs opposing. The Bill proceeds today to the House of Lords. The legislation continues to draw strong criticism from right wing Conservative MPs and has caused political trouble for Prime Minister David Cameron.

Opponents of the Bill led by Tim Loughton MP submitted an amendment to allow opposite sex couples to enter into civil partnerships, which were introduced in 2004 as an alternative to marriage for same sex couples. The government warned that Loughton’s amendment was an attempt to wreck the passage of the Bill. Sir George Young, the Conservative chief whip, asked Labour whips to oppose the amendment despite the Labour Party previously supporting the amendment.

A Labour Party source quoted in The Guardian said they “had an eleventh hour appeal from the government that they did not have the numbers to defeat the Tim Loughton amendment” and that Labour leader Ed Miliband considered it an “overriding priority […] to ensure that the bill gets on to the statute book. Ed and Yvette Cooper will therefore be voting against the Tim Loughton amendment. We expect a large number of MPs to join Ed and Yvette. Since there was a genuine threat to the bill Ed decided the best thing to do was to act in this way.”

A rival amendment put forward by the Labour Party would bring in a review of whether civil partnerships ought to be extended to opposite sex couples but would not delay the implementation of marriage for same sex couples. This amendment was approved 391 to 57 by the Commons.

Opponents of the Bill including David Burrowes and Peter Bone are hoping the House of Lords will reject the law: Burrowes stated Lords would have the right to reject the bill as “there was no clear manifesto commitment, no coalition agreement, no green paper — just a sham consultation”. The Conservative Party’s 2010 “contract for equalities” reads, “We will also consider the case for changing the law to allow civil partnerships to be called and classified as marriage.”

Norman Tebbit in 2008.
Image: James Robertson.

In an interview with The Big Issue, former cabinet minister and Conservative peer Norman Tebbit expressed concern about the possibility that a law legalising gay marriage would cause confusion regarding royal succession: “When we have a queen who is a lesbian and she marries another lady and then decides she would like to have a child and someone donates sperm and she gives birth to a child, is that child heir to the throne?”

Tebbit also argued the new law “would lift my worries about inheritance tax because maybe I’d be allowed to marry my son. Why not? Why shouldn’t a mother marry her daughter? Why shouldn’t two elderly sisters living together marry each other?”

During the debate, Gerald Howarth referred to Conservative MP Margot James as representative of an “aggressive homosexual community”: “I warn you, and MPs on all sides of the house, that I fear that the playing field has not been levelled. I believe that the pendulum is now swinging so far the other way and there are plenty in the aggressive homosexual community who see this as but a stepping stone to something even further”. Howarth’s comments sparked a trending topic on the social networking site Twitter.

David Cameron has been on the political defensive since rumours circulated that Conservative Party co-chairman Lord Feldman referred to Conservative activists as “mad, swivel-eyed loons”. Conservative Grassroots chairman Miles Windsor remarked, “This week has begun a civil war in conservatism, it may rumble on for years — but as things stand, Nigel Farage is winning it at a stride.”

Maria Miller, the government minister responsible for equality, tweeted after the vote on the third reading: “Just won Third Reading vote of Equal Marriage Bill – After all the hard work, its moment to be proud of. It’s the Right Thing”. Labour MP Diane Abbott said: “I did not think I would live to see the day this reached third reading.”

On BBC Radio 4, David Cameron welcomed the passage of the bill: “I think we should think about it like this — that there will be young boys in schools today who are gay, who are worried about being bullied, who are worried about what society thinks of them, who can see that the highest Parliament in the land has said that their love is worth the same as anybody else’s love and that we believe in equality. I think they will stand that bit taller today and I’m proud of the fact that that has happened.”



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May 21, 2013

Report finds Canberra and Northern Territory have most expensive cocaine in Australia

Filed under: Archived,Australia,Oceania,Original reporting — admin @ 5:00 am

Report finds Canberra and Northern Territory have most expensive cocaine in Australia

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

In a report released yesterday by the Australian Crime Commission titled “Illicit Drug Data Report 2011–12”, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the Northern Territory have the highest price of cocaine found in Australia’s states and territories. 1 gram costs AU$500 in the Northern Territory and runs between AU$300 and 500 in the ACT. This compares to AU$450 in Victoria, AU$250 to 400 in New South Wales, AU$300 to AU$400 in Queensland, and AU$350 in Tasmania.

One tab of methamphetamine
Image: United States Department of Justice.

The Northern Territory also has the highest national prices for 1 gram of amphetamine at AU$400 to 800, and MDMA at AU$30 to 60 for one tablet. Crystal meth goes for 1 gram at a national high of AU$1,000 to 2,000 in the Northern Territory, but Northern Territory ties with Western Australia at AU$100 to 200 for one street deal of 0.1 grams. Northern Territory has a national high price for hydroponic head (non-leaf) cannabis at AU$30 to 100 for one street deal of approximately 1 ounce. Data was not available for the Northern Territory for the powdered form of methamphetamine, with Queensland having the highest price at AU$50 to 150 for one street deal of 0.1 grams, and South Australia having the highest price for 1 gram at AU$700 to 900.

The report — the commission’s tenth annual report of Australian illicit drug data — also notes a ten-year 580% increase in performance and image enhancing drugs detected at the national border by Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officials. Cannabis accounts for a large portion of Australia’s illicit drug related activities, accounting for 65.5% of all drug related arrests in 2011–2012, and total seizures at 68.1%. Drugs other than cannabis, amphetamine, cocaine, and opioids such as heroin had the greatest seizures by weight at 56.8%. The total number of drug related arrests in the 2011–2012 is the highest in the past decade with over 90,000 total arrests. It is also the first time the reported total number of drug seizures topped 70,000.



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May 19, 2013

White House releases Benghazi emails

Filed under: Archived,North America,United States — admin @ 5:00 am

White House releases Benghazi emails – Wikinews, the free news source

White House releases Benghazi emails

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

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The United States White House released roughly a hundred pages of emails on Wednesday related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the United States diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya. The assault killed four US personnel, including US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. The documents show conversations the administration had in preparing to discuss the attacks publicly.

File photo of the White House in Washington, DC, February 2008.
Image: Юкатан.

The emails show conversations between the White House, the US State Department, and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) over what the government should say about the attack. They show the CIA director at the time, David Petraeus, disagreed with the choice of information delivered by United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice on September 16, 2012 during appearances on Sunday talk shows because he wanted to see more detail on the attack released, “No mention of the cable to Cairo, either?… Frankly, I’d just as soon not use it then.” he said in an email.

Along with the emails was a handwritten document made by Petraeus’s deputy, Mike Morell, after a meeting at the White House. It appears that Morell eliminated references to al-Qaeda, Libya-based Islamic extremists, and a warning to the Cairo embassy about a potential demonstration by jihadists lead by the brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri. While some talking points of the demonstration remained intact on the document, any mentioning of Islamic extremists were deleted at a deputies meeting at the White House the next day.

An email by then-State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also expressed reservations about the disclosure of information about the attacks because of the opportunity it would give congressional Republicans means to undermine the White House. The email, sent by Nuland on September 14 at 7.39pm to the White House, State Department and CIA, stated “The line of ‘knowing’ there were extremists among the demonstrators will come back to us at podium”.

Republicans had asserted the White House was engaged in a cover-up, ignoring the role of an al-Qaeda inspired group in the attack and suggesting instead the assault was the result of a demonstration by a group against an American-produced anti-Islam film.



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Noosa defeat University in Sunshine Coast Rugby Union round nine

Noosa defeat University in Sunshine Coast Rugby Union round nine

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May 18, 2013
Noosa 22
University 0
Dolphin Oval
Sunshine Beach, Queensland
Australia

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunshine Beach, Queensland — Noosa defeated University 22 points to 0 in their week 9 A-Grade rugby union match yesterday on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. Noosa lead 12 – 0 at half time, scoring two more tries in the second half.

Other Results
Caboolture defeated Caloundra 19 – 14
Maroochydore defeated Fraser Coast 34 – 10

Bye
Nambour

Both Teams are coming off home wins — Noosa defeating Caboolture 21 to 14, University defeating Nambour 17 to 7.

In other results, Caboolture defeated Caloundra 19–14 and Maroochydore defeated Fraser Coast 34–10.

Noosa rugby cars.jpg Cars line the sideline at the rugby in Noosa
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Noosa v Uni ruck.jpg Noosa and University contest possesion
Image: Patrick Gillett.

Noosa v Uni scrum.jpg Noosa and Univserity at scrum time
Image: Patrick Gillett.
Uni vs. the crowd.jpg “Have a go Uni”: the Noosa fans raise their concerns with the University team
Image: Patrick Gillett.
Uni defence v Noosa.jpgUniversity’s defence was solid at times but allowed four tries
Image: Patrick Gillett.
Injured player.jpg Man down: Several players needed treatment for cramp
Image: Patrick Gillett.
Noosa Rugby Clubhouse.jpg Spectators watch from the clubhouse
Image: Patrick Gillett.
Noosa v Uni Lineout.jpg Noosa v Uni lineout
Image: Patrick Gillett.



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May 18, 2013

Kangaroo injures Australian politician

Kangaroo injures Australian politician – Wikinews, the free news source

Kangaroo injures Australian politician

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

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File photo of an eastern grey kangaroo.
Image: JJ Harrison.

File photo of ACT politician Shane Rattenbury.
Image: Champion Blue.

A kangaroo injured Australian politician Shane Rattenbury in the Australian capital, Canberra, on Thursday. Mr. Rattenbury was taking a morning jog in the Canberra suburb of Ainslie when the kangaroo surprised him, and in the ensuing confrontation, Mr. Rattenbury was scratched several times on the leg.

By Mr Rattenbury’s account, the kangaroo was an eastern grey kangaroo, which is a common species in Australia. Neither the kangaroo nor Mr. Rattenbury saw each other until they were close, when they both were surprised by each other. The kangaroo, which had been behind a hedge, then started hopping around and Rattenbury ducked for cover. The kangaroo bounced on him while he was still on the ground. He was left lying in the street while another pedestrian went to his assistance. He was driven home and visited a hospital, receiving a tetanus shot. He attended parliament later that day, where his colleagues made kangaroo jokes about him.

Rattenbury is a member of the ACT Greens, a sitting member of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly, and was an expedition leader of a Greenpeace anti-whaling expedition in 2006.

There are many kangaroos living in wildlife reserves around the Australian capital, which often enter suburban areas. The attack follows previous incidents in 2009 when a kangaroo smashed inside a Canberra home, and in 2010 when a kangaroo knocked a jogger unconscious in nearby Mount Ainslie. Kangaroo culls in the Australian capital have been held annually for several years, which have drawn protests. Kangaroo management in Canberra was the subject of a television documentary in 2011 called Kangaroo Mob.



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  • “Kangaroo knocks jogger unconscious in Canberra, Australia” — Wikinews, March 21, 2010
  • “Southern Ocean whale slaughter to resume” — Wikinews, January 3, 2006

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May 14, 2013

National Rugby League Women in League Round celebrates sons

National Rugby League Women in League Round celebrates sons

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A women’s rugby team from Australia in the 1930s
Image: Sam Hood.

Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) is to celebrate “Women in League” week, starting yesterday, with themes including sons, raising funds for breast cancer support, and club-related specials to encourage women to attend rugby league games. The week-long celebration of women was started in 2006 to highlight the importance of women to the sport and make the game female-friendlier.

The NRL is planning to celebrate the week in a number of ways, including having teams compete in pink uniforms, and having fans vote for the NRL player fans believe “acts as a role model for mothers and families; someone who continues to impress us on the field, however their off-field characteristics embody what it is we love about rugby league”. Additionally, funds are to be raised for the McGrath Foundation, a charity dedicated to breast cancer support and education, and the Women in League Achievement Award will be given out with the winner earning a AU$5,000 gift card to Harvey Norman, an Australian electronics store.

The 2005 Brisbane women’s rugby league grand final between Brothers Ipswich vs West Centenary.
Image: Leigh McMahon.

The NRL has been promoting the event on their Women in League Facebook page. In the past month, their Facebook updates have included posts featuring male players discussing support they received from women in their lives, sales of pink coloured NRL merchandise, plugs encouraging people to vote for their favourite son, pictures of men supporting Women in League, NRL club promotions for tickets and other events connected to Women in League, and information on a school visit promoting anti-bullying. The Facebook page has also promoted women’s participation and profiles of women’s players as recently as a month ago, when on April 9, it promoted the Girls ‘Come and Try’ Day in Canberra. Prior to that, women were last promoted as players on February 10 when pictures were shared of the Women’s All Stars team match with the Indigenous All Stars team.

140,000 women in Australia are involved with rugby league as players, sport administrators, coaches, employees, club members, or volunteers. Karen Hardy of The Canberra Times estimates this number could easily be quadrupled if wives, girlfriends, mothers, and other female family members who support male players were included. Participation is also increasing, with almost a thousand new female players taking up the sport between 2011 and 2012 for 5,801 total registered female players in 2012.



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