Category Archives: FEATURED STORIES

Environmental Minister of Japan Calls for Closing Down All Nuclear Reactors to Prevent Another Disaster Like Fukushima

Japan’s newly installed environment minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, wants the country to close down nuclear reactors to avoid a repeat of the Fukushima catastrophe in 2011.

The comments by the son of former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, himself an anti-nuclear advocate, are likely to prove controversial in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which supports a return to nuclear power under new safety rules imposed after Fukushima.

“I would like to study how we will scrap them, not how to retain them.”
—Shinjiro Koizumi, Japanese environmental minister

“I would like to study how we will scrap them, not how to retain them,” Shinjiro Koizumi said at his first news conference late on Wednesday after he was appointed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Japan’s newly appointed environment minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, held a news conference on Wednesday at his ministry in Tokyo. (Photo: KYODO)

Japan’s nuclear regulator is overseen by Koizumi’s ministry.

Three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi station run by Tokyo Electric Power melted down after being hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, spewing radiation that forced 160,000 people to flee, many never to return.

Let’s have a look on what happened in 2011.

The Great East Japan Earthquake of magnitude 9.0 at 2.46 pm on Friday 11 March 2011 did considerable damage in the region, and the large tsunami it created caused very much more.

Image on 16 March 2011 of the four damaged reactor buildings. From left to right: Unit 4, 3, 2, and 1. Hydrogen-air explosions occurred in Unit 1, 3, and 4, causing structural damage. A vent in Unit 2’s wall, with water vapor/”steam” clearly visible, prevented a similar large explosion. Drone overflights on 20 March captured clearer images.

The earthquake was centred 130 km offshore the city of Sendai in Miyagi prefecture on the eastern cost of Honshu Island (the main part of Japan), and was a rare and complex double quake giving a severe duration of about 3 minutes.

IAEA experts at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Unit 4, 2013

An area of the seafloor extending 650 km north-south moved typically 10-20 metres horizontally. Japan moved a few metres east and the local coastline subsided half a metre. The tsunami inundated about 560 sq km and resulted in a human death toll of about 19,000 and much damage to coastal ports and towns, with over a million buildings destroyed or partly collapsed.

Eleven reactors at four nuclear power plants in the region were operating at the time and all shut down automatically when the quake hit. Subsequent inspection showed no significant damage to any from the earthquake.

Fukushima I Nuclear Powerplant site close-up

The operating units which shut down were Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (Tepco) Fukushima Daiichi 1, 2, 3, and Fukushima Daini 1, 2, 3, 4, Tohoku’s Onagawa 1, 2, 3, and Japco’s Tokai, total 9377 MWe net. Fukushima Daiichi units 4, 5&6 were not operating at the time, but were affected. The main problem initially centred on Fukushima Daiichi units 1-3. Unit 4 became a problem on day five.

The reactors proved robust seismically, but vulnerable to the tsunami. Power, from grid or backup generators, was available to run the residual heat removal (RHR) system cooling pumps at eight of the eleven units, and despite some problems they achieved ‘cold shutdown’ within about four days. The other three, at Fukushima Daiichi, lost power at 3.42 pm, almost an hour after the quake, when the entire site was flooded by the 15-metre tsunami.

This disabled 12 of 13 back-up generators on site and also the heat exchangers for dumping reactor waste heat and decay heat to the sea. The three units lost the ability to maintain proper reactor cooling and water circulation functions. Electrical switchgear was also disabled. Thereafter, many weeks of focused work centred on restoring heat removal from the reactors and coping with overheated spent fuel ponds. This was undertaken by hundreds of Tepco employees as well as some contractors, supported by firefighting and military personnel.

Some of the Tepco staff had lost homes, and even families, in the tsunami, and were initially living in temporary accommodation under great difficulties and privation, with some personal risk.

A hardened emergency response centre on site was unable to be used in grappling with the situation, due to radioactive contamination.

Three Tepco employees at the Daiichi and Daini plants were killed directly by the earthquake and tsunami, but there have been no fatalities from the nuclear accident.

Among hundreds of aftershocks, an earthquake with magnitude 7.1, closer to Fukushima than the 11 March one, was experienced on 7 April, but without further damage to the plant. On 11 April a magnitude 7.1 earthquake and on 12 April a magnitude 6.3 earthquake, both with epicenter at Fukushima-Hamadori, caused no further problems.

In June 2016 Tilman Ruff, co-president of the political advocacy group, the “International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War” argues that 174,000 people have been unable to return to their homes and ecological diversity has decreased and malformations have been found in trees, birds, and mammals. Although physiological abnormalities have been reported within the vicinity of the accident zone, the scientific community has largely rejected any such findings of genetic or mutagenic damage caused by radiation, instead showing it can be attributed either to experimental error or other toxic effects.

Five years after the event, the Department of Agriculture from the University of Tokyo (which holds many experimental agricultural research fields around the affected area) has noted that “the fallout was found at the surface of anything exposed to air at the time of the accident. The main radioactive nuclides are now caesium-137 and caesium-134”, but these radioactive compounds have not dispersed much from the point where they landed at the time of the explosion, “which was very difficult to estimate from our understanding of the chemical behavior of cesium”.

In February 2018, Japan renewed the export of fish caught off Fukushima’s nearshore zone. According to prefecture officials, no seafood had been found with radiation levels exceeding Japan safety standards since April 2015. In 2018, Thailand was the first country to receive a shipment of fresh fish from Japan’s Fukushima prefecture. A group campaigning to help prevent global warming has demanded the Food and Drug Administration disclose the name of the importer of fish from Fukushima and of the Japanese restaurants in Bangkok serving it. Srisuwan Janya, chairman of the Stop Global Warming Association, said the FDA must protect the rights of consumers by ordering restaurants serving Fukushima fish to make that information available to their customers, so they could decide whether to eat it or not.

Japan towns, villages, and cities in and around the Daiichi nuclear plant exclusion zone. The 20 and 30 km (12 and 19 mi) areas had evacuation and shelter in place orders, and additional administrative districts that had an evacuation order are highlighted. However, the above map’s factual accuracy is called into question as only the southern portion of Kawamatadistrict had evacuation orders.

In July 2018, a robotic probe has found that radiation levels remain too high for humans to work inside one of the reactor buildings

Protest against nuclear power in Berlin, Germany, March 2011

Most of Japan’s nuclear reactors, which before Fukushima supplied about 30% of the country’s electricity, are going through a re-licensing process under new safety standards imposed after the disaster highlighted regulatory and operational failings.

Japan has six reactors operating at present, a fraction of the 54 units before Fukushima. About 40% of the pre-Fukushima fleet is being decommissioned.

Power Grid of Japan

Shinjiro Koizumi’s father, a popular prime minister now retired from parliament, became a harsh critic of atomic energy after the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

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Depression and Suicide are REAL, Learn to deal with them

Today, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day—a day dedicated to raising awareness of the risks of suicide and the challenges faced when trying to prevent death by suicide.

According to the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP), every year suicide is among the top 20 leading causes of death globally. It is responsible for over 800,000 deaths, which equates to one suicide every 40 seconds. In America, it was the 10th leading cause of death, with over 47,000 people dying by suicide in 2017, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

IASP estimates that for every person that dies by suicide, 135 people suffer “intense grief or are otherwise affected.” This amounts to 108 million people per year. Further, the organization says that for every suicide, 25 people make a suicide attempt and many more have serious thoughts of suicide.

Last week, new statistics showed the male suicide rate rose in the UK for the first time since 2013 after 4,903 men killed themselves in 2018 at a rate of 17.2 per 100,000 of the population. It marks an increase of 521 suicides on 2017 – the biggest change in the suicide rate since 1998.

But despite making some grounds in helping to reduce the overall suicide rate, the headlines surrounding the subject continue.

Earlier this year, news that former ‘Love Island’ star Mike Thalassitis died at the age of 26 shocked the UK.

His death followed that of fellow contestant Sophie Gradon who was found dead at her parents’ home after a battle with anxiety and depression.

In June, last year, the fashion world mourned the tragic death of handbag designer Kate Spade, who reportedly took her life in her New York home.

Days later, news of the suicide of American TV chef, Anthony Bourdain, emerged.

The high profile deaths offer proof that the battle to help improve suicide rates is far from over.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) say: “Suicide is complex. It usually occurs gradually, progressing from suicidal thoughts, to planning, to attempting suicide and finally dying by suicide.”

It isn’t always easy to know whether you or someone close to you is feeling suicidal, and in some cases, there are no signs at all.

To help, and in a nod to World Suicide Prevention Day, the wellbeing experts at CABA offer their advice on spotting the signs that you or someone close to you might be experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Spotting the signs in yourself

According to the mental health charity Mind, many people think about suicide at some point in their lives. Here are some of the things you may think or feel:

  • Everything’s hopeless – what’s the point in living?
  • There’s nothing positive in your life, everything’s negative
  • Everyone would be better off without you
  • You’re useless, unwanted or unneeded by others
  • Your unbearable pain is never going to end
  • You’re physically numb – you feel cut off from your body
  • Taking your own life is your only option

Spotting the signs in others

Spotting when someone else is thinking about suicide can be difficult. But, if you notice any of your loved ones exhibiting the following signs, then it might be time to step in:

  • They talk about feelings of hopelessness
  • They have sudden episodes of rage and anger
  • They act recklessly and take part in risky activities with no concern for the consequences
  • They say they feel trapped, and that they can’t see their way out of their problems
  • They self-harm (this includes misusing drugs or alcohol)
  • They become increasingly withdrawn or appear anxious and agitated

Meanwhile, you may also experience things like sleeping problems (including waking too early), changes in your appetite and you may lose or gain weight.

Your self-esteem may also be very low, and you may try to avoid contact with other people, and feel no need to take care of yourself (including your physical appearance).

A famous German poet and novelist, Hermann Hesse experienced personal turmoil and conflict with his parents in the early age. As a result, at the age of 15 in 1892, he attempted suicide. However, he was saved. After a long struggle, he became a great writer and in 1946 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

This story is to remind everyone that life is a great gift and it should be cherished every day. The world is full of opportunities. If someone fails in doing something, he should take it as a temporary setback or an inordinate delay, and not as a final failure.

If life seems to be running out of track, find reasons for it and correct it. As it is said, ‘when one door closes, another opens.’ Instead of giving up and accepting the failure, one should continue the search for a possible solution. Eventually, one should open up to someone or the other. Sometimes, when our mind is too chaotic to find an answer, someone might find it rather easily.

Always remember, everyone is born with some purpose, and suicide is not on the list.

The Sky Tower will be lit yellow tonight as a mark of respect for families who have lost loved ones to suicide.

According to a release from SkyCity Auckland, the Sky Tower will shine yellow from sunset tonight until sunrise tomorrow morning.

The lighting is timed to mark World Suicide Prevention Day.

SkyCity often lights the Sky Tower for charities or community initiatives that the company supports financially, to mark national holidays, milestones or other celebrations or events, or as a symbol of respect or solidarity.

“Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers – for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are.” — Osho

“Everybody goes through difficult times, but it is those who push through those difficult times who will eventually become successful in life. Don’t give up, because this too shall pass.” ― Jeanette Coron

Swami vivekananda was totally against superstitions or anything which makes you weak or fearful. his talks are full of courage and taking charge of your life.

according to him anything which makes you weak is evil and anything which makes you and your soul strong is good. the ultimate source of fearlessness is to realize your true nature or to be in touch with your inner voice or soul.

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Stolen Bronze, Dancing Shiva on his way back Home; India Celebrating Krishna Janmashtami with Returned Navaneetha Krishna Bronze

A 16th century bronze Nataraja idol, which was stolen from Kallidaikurichi temple, Tirunelveli, in 1982, is set to be repatriated soon. And on August 15 regained possession of a priceless bronze Navaneetha Krishna

In this regard, Australian authorities have met Indian officials and discussed the modalities for repatriation.

The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) Foundation acquired the 75.7 cm bronze idol from Oliver Forge and Brendan Lynch Limited in 2001. After deaccession of the artwork recently, the AGSA said it followed standard protocols for its acquisition that were widely accepted as professionally rigorous in 2001.

Following the 2014-16 revision of the AGSA Due Diligence Policy, the curator, Asian Art, commenced provenance research on the dancing Siva idol although there had been no prior indication or reason to assume that the statue had been improperly acquired.

It is understood the bronze, bought in 2001 with $436,000 in donated funds and weighing 100 kilograms, was reported missing in July 1982.

In September 2016, during research in the French Institute of Pondicherry archives, the curator identified a 1958 photograph of the Nataraja paired with a statue of the consort goddess Sivakamisundari at the Sri Kulasekaramudayan Temple, Kallidaikurichi.

The statue was stolen from this Indian temple.

The next year, the curator travelled to Kallidaikurichi and met the temple priest who was able to identify the Nataraja idol as formerly being in the temple’s possession.

The Dancing Shiva is one of four statues believed to have been taken by thieves

Special officer of Idol Wing and former Inspector General of Police A.G. Ponn Manickavel sent a copy of the FIR report to AGSA with a formal request for the statue’s repatriation from the High Commission of India, Canberra.

The officials from both sides met in New Delhi and discussed the process for repatriation of the statue as soon as possible. The idol may be returned at the end of this month, said sources in the Idol Wing.

“It has been five years since we first raised questions on this bronze to the AGNSA and finally they are returning it to India. However India should take up with the original seller m/s Forge and Lynch of London to reveal the detailed provenance papers as there are still a number of bronzes stolen from the same temple that are still missing,” said S. Vijaya Kumar, art enthusiast and founder of India Pride, Reported by The Hindu.

The statue has been linked to a temple in the southern Indian city of Nellai, where a photograph shows it in place in 1958.

Close look at the old photo (Taken in indian Temple) Vs the current one By S. Vijay Kumar

The Dancing Shiva is the first antiquity India has claimed from 24 potentially problematic pieces identified by AGSA in 2014.

A national problem

The latest controversy comes in 2018 as the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) is in the middle of investigating more than 2,000 items in its Asian collection.

The 2016 Crennan Report found the NGA had done insufficient research before spending more than $10 million with the alleged antiquities trafficker and former New York dealer, Subhash Kapoor, who has been detained in India since 2011. His case has not yet been heard.

Three statues from Mr Kapoor, acquired for more than $6 million — plus one bought by the Art Gallery of NSW — have already been repatriated to India without compensation.

A $1 million Buddha the NGA bought from another dealer, Manhattan-based Nancy Wiener, has also been dispatched back to India.

Ms Wiener refunded the purchase price to the Canberra gallery. She was later charged for dealing in stolen goods by US police. Her case has not yet commenced.

After he built up AGSA’s Asian antiquity collection during his 13 years as director until 2004, Mr Radford oversaw many Indian antiquity purchases at the NGA while director from 2004 until 2014.

A London-based collector has returned artefacts bought from Subhash Kapoor.

On 15 August 2019, a limestone carved relief sculpture from Andhra Pradesh, dated between the first century BCE and the first century CE, and a Navaneetha Krishna bronze sculpture from 17th century Tamil Nadu were repatriated to the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Ruchi Ghanashyam.

34 such artefacts have been returned in the past five years and over 200 promised to be returned to India. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abott personally returned a Chola Shiva Nataraja and German Chancellor Angela Merkel returned a 10th century Durga Mahisasuramardini, in acts of repatriation of objects of cultural importance.

With just a week to go for the festival of Krishna Janmashtami, India on August 15 regained possession of a priceless bronze Navaneetha Krishna, thanks to a rare instance of moral courage by an art collector from London.

After U.S. authorities charged Indian antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor with possession of stolen property last June, the London-based connoisseur, who had bought a few artefacts from him, came forward to U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), expressing a desire to surrender the pieces. The artefacts were recovered in June this year.

On Thursday, authorities in the U.S. and U.K. formally handed over a lime stone relief, originally from Andhra Pradesh, and the bronze Krishna to the Indian High Commissioner in London. Kapoor is lodged in Tiruchi prison and faces criminal cases for illegally exporting idols and artefacts from temples in Tamil Nadu. He was also charged by U.S. HSI for operating a massive smuggling ring, allegedly run from his New York gallery.

Pursuant to an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), with participation from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), the art collector whose name was withheld, returned the limestone carved relief and the bronze Navaneetha Krishna.

The two artefacts from India are linked to one of the most prolific art smugglers in the world, who was recently charged in Manhattan, New York. An individual in the United Kingdom who possessed the items came forward to HSI expressing a desire to surrender the pieces.

In June 2019, working with the MPS, the individual cooperated and turned over the artefacts to authorities.

A preliminary examination has dated the limestone relief to between the first Century BC to first Century AD. The Krishna bronze is estimated to be from 17th Century from Tamil Nadu. Both items will be subject to further examination by domain experts at a later date to establish their exact period and original location.

The repatriated antiques are just two of more than 2,600 antiquities that have been recovered around the world. The investigation remains ongoing, the Home Land Security Investigation said in a release.

Vijay Kumar’s investigations have contributed to the return of dozens of antiquities.

“The cultural significance of artefacts looted from around the world extends beyond a monetary value. The pieces, like those recovered through this operation, are stolen fragments of history; and it is an honour to return them to their rightful home country,” Peter C. Fitzhugh, of the HSI in New York, said.

S. Vijay Kumar, art enthusiast and founder of India Pride that tracks Indian antiques, said there is strong reason to believe that the relief could be from Buddhist Vaddamanu site near Guntur. “The theft from the Buddhist site in Andra Pradesh comes close on the heels of thefts from the Chandavaram site. Very little is known about Vaddamanu site and to see that robbers have targeted the freshly excavated sites is shocking,” he said, as reported by The Hindu.

Photo Credits to S. Vijay Kumar, a real life hero, Indian Media house The Hindu, ABC, and CNN.

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Starving 70-Year-Old Elephant Collapses From Exhaustion After Sri Lankan Festival

Tourists in Sri Lanka have been urged to boycott religious parades because of concerns over the mistreatment of elephants.

Remember Tikiri, the starving seventy year old elephant? Pictures of her emaciated body had gone viral on Facebook a few days ago.

A Facebook page dedicated to the conservation of elephants had posted a picture of Tikiri, along with a detailed caption which specified the level of torture she’d been exposed to.

Animal rights’ campaigners made the call after pictures emerged of emaciated Tikiiri, a 70-year-old female Asian elephant.

She was one of 60 animals made to march through the city of Kandy during the Esala Perahera, a ten-day Buddhist festival.

Her skeletal frame was hidden by a large costume. For ten days she works until late at night amid the noise, fireworks and smoke.

Campaigners said the exploitation of the elephant in Sri Lanka must stop.

“She walks many kilometres every night so that people will feel blessed during the ceremony,” said Lek Chailert, the founder of the Save Elephant Foundation, a Thai charity.

“No one sees her bony body or her weakened condition because of her costume.

“No one sees her difficulty to step as her legs are short-shackled while she walks.”

Chailert was backed by Elisa Allen, UK director of Peta, the animal welfare charity.

She said that the exploitation of elephants was common at tourist traps across Sri Lanka.

“Elephants don’t naturally obey human commands or allow humans to ride on their backs.

“They do so because mahouts [handlers] carry bullhooks — iron rods with a sharp hook — to dig into their flesh and other weapons that they learnt as babies to fear,” she said.

“Tourists can help elephants by refusing to ride them and by avoiding any attraction that offers elephant rides, keeps the animals chained or forces them to perform,” she added.

A spokesman for the Sacred Tooth Relic, the Buddhist temple that hosts the festival, said that Tikiiri had been seen by a vet.

The activist said elephant owners are ‘powerful people’ in Sri Lanka, but there is a growing movement trying to stop the animals being used in Perahera festivals.

In a statement, a temple spokesperson said Tikiri’s owner had ‘specifically requested’ her part in the festival as there is an ‘ancient belief’ that such religious offerings can cure weak animals.

They said: ‘It is an ancient belief that the performing of Pooja (Offerings) to gods by sick or weak elephants has healing powers.

‘Hence, given the digestive ailment of Tikiri, her owner specially requested the Diyawadana Nilame of the Vishnu Devala [chief of the temple] to allow Tikiri to take part in this year’s procession in hope of curing her.

‘Taking into account the great service performed by Tikiri to the Esala procession, the request was accepted in terms that she is proved to be fit to take the streets after a thorough examination.

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Quick Revenge : Snake dies after biting man who bit back

An Indian man who was bitten by a snake got his revenge on the reptile by biting it back and killing it, the man’s father said on Monday (July 29).

The man, Mr Raj Kumar, was relaxing at home, enjoying a drink on Sunday, when a snake slithered into his house in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, and bit him, said his father.

“My son was drunk … he bit the snake and crunched it into pieces,” Mr babu Ram told Indian media. Doctors said he had been moved to another hospital for treatment.

The man’s family took him to hospital where media said his condition was critical. The snake that bit him was reported to have been a rat snake, which experts regard as usually not venomous.

“This is definitely weird,” said Mr Raj Kumar’s doctor, Dr N.P. Singh.

“I’ve seen people coming in with snakebites, but never somebody who bit a snake and then brought it with him in a bag.”

Mr Kumar’s family reportedly cremated the snake after the incident.

It is not the first time a human being has snapped back at a snake.

Just last month a 60-year-old Indian man was wiped out by a reptile bite in the Gujarat state, but killed the attacking snake with a bite of his own shortly before his death.

Credits to Indian Media and Reuters

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Facebook-Driven Area 51 Storming May Be Countered With Force, Says US Air Force

Over 700,000 have pledged to find out. A Facebook event named Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us has become an internet sensation. At the time of writing, 750,000 users have signed up to attend the event, located in the deserts of Nevada, and another 677,000 are “interested” in attending

Fun and games on Facebook may have serious consequences for the foolish. That was the message delivered by the US Air Force, who have responded to a Facebook’s group’s efforts to have 450,000 people storm a top secret military base.

Conspiracy theorists have always believed that Area 51 in Nevada holds information about extra-terrestrial activities on our planet, possibly including actual alien remains and aircraft. That belief spawned a Facebook group suggesting that a wave of humanity could overwhelm the defenses at the base and discover the truth.

ok event page calling for storming Area 51, with many more indicating interest. The proposed event is scheduled for Sept. 20.

“We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry,” the event description reads. “If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens.”

Naruto Run refers to the unique running style of the protagonist Naruto Ozumaki in the Japanese anime series Naruto, where he is often depicted sprinting with his hands behind him to decrease wind resistance.

The Washington Post on Friday asked how officials will deal with anyone showing up for the event. Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews declined to elaborate on specific details of the military’s plans.

However, she did issue a warning.

“[Area 51] is an open training range for the US Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces,” McAndrews said. “The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”

Here’s What Would Happen If Thousands of People Really Did “Storm Area 51”?

The first real obstacle anyone faces trying to enter the restricted area surrounding the Nevada Test Range is distance. If you start your trip to Area 51’s outer perimeter from Las Vegas and head toward Creech AFB in Clark County, Nevada, you drive about 45 miles on US 95. The last place you’ll be able to buy gas along the route before skirting the massive southwestern perimeter of the Nevada Test and Training Range is across from Creech AFB in Indian Springs. From here, the drive gets serious. Interstate 95 between Indian Springs and the next town, Beatty, is 73 miles of the worst driving in the world. The area is remarkably desolate, with no cell service during most of the trip. Daytime temperatures in the summer are almost always above 100-degrees. There is little traffic on the road and nothing on either side of the road but empty desert.

The second obstacle is the terrain. The area is remarkably unforgiving. With loose sand, rock, cactus, venomous snakes and a series of desert mountains surrounding the Nevada Test and Training Range, only a well trained and equipped person experienced in desert travel could cover the distance from the outer perimeter to get anywhere near Groom Lake where Area 51 is located. Most people untrained in desert travel would have difficulty crossing even a single mile on foot during the day in the open desert, let alone the 26 miles from Highway 95 near Goldfield to the classified airfield at Area 51.

Finally, there is the issue of logistics. Every town surrounding the Nevada Test and Training Range is very small, most with either one or two small stores stocking water and food with public bathroom facilities. There are very few hotels in the area since there is little to see and such oppressive security. The few convenience stores around the outer perimeter of the area likely only have a few hundred bottles of water in stock, nowhere near enough food and water to support a crowd of more than 50 people at a time. So, if you plan to be one of the several hundred thousand people “storming Area 51”, be sure to bring your own snacks and a cooler. And ice. Plenty of ice.

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Historic Tower Collapses In Ghazni, Afghanistan

The ancient towers of Ghazni have stood through centuries of war and upheaval — until last month.

An ancient tower in the Afghan city of Ghazni has collapsed, raising questions over the government’s ability to protect the country’s artefacts.

Footage uploaded to social media shows a fort in the old city crumbling.

The tower was one of dozens already destroyed in the city. Officials blamed heavy rain, but some critics accuse the government of negligence.

Ghazni’s Islamic and pre-Islamic architecture is widely admired although war has taken its toll.

Mohammad Saber Mohmand, a spokesman for the ministry of information and culture, told Tolo News the fort was “vulnerable to rainfall and mostly damaged by rain”.

“The main highway is located near the fort, which affects the towers,” he added. As reported by BBC.

Mahbubullah Rahmani, acting director of culture and information in Ghazni, said heavy rain and recent fighting had contributed to the tower’s collapse but said the government was working on a plan to protect the site from complete destruction.

He said a German archaeologist had worked at the site as recently as 2013.

Ghazni was a thriving Buddhist centre up until the 7th Century. But in 683 AD, Arab armies brought Islam to the region. In the 13th Century it was destroyed by the Mongol armies of Genghis Khan, led by his son Ogedei Khan.

In video posted to social media, dust is seen billowing from beneath the tower in the ancient fort, before the structure starts to crumble, sending bystanders fleeing.

The old citadel known as Ghaznain Fort originally had 36 towers, but 14 of the towers had collapsed in recent years due to decades of war, heavy rain and neglect.

The fort is one of dozens of unique historic sites in Afghanistan — ranging from the pre-Islamic Buddhist center in the Bamyan valley to the 12th-century minaret of Jam in a remote area of Ghor province — in urgent need of protection.

Officials in Ghazni, which nearly fell to the Taliban last year in some of the heaviest fighting seen in the war, said the tower collapsed on Tuesday following heavy rain. A short video posted on social media shows it crumbling but local residents say negligence also contributed to its collapse.

The province and its cultural heritage was officially declared as Asian Capital of Islamic Culture in 2013 by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a Morocco-based body created in 1981, supported by UNESCO.

The collapse of the tower in Ghazni follows concern over the condition of the 900-year-old Minaret of Jam, in Ghor, which has been on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Properties in Danger since 2002.

The Taliban during their austere regime from 1996-2001, before they were toppled by the U.S. and coalition force in late 2001, blew up two giant Buddha statues in central Bamiyan province, calling them idols.

The ancient city has been designated an Asian city of Islamic Culture by the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation.

However, many of the city’s ancient buildings have been difficult for outsiders to visit due to the Taliban insurgency.

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Despite Ownership Controversy, king Tut Sculpture sells for 6 Million USD

A 3,300-year-old sculpture of Tutankhamun’s head has been auctioned off at Christie’s for $6 Million, despite claims from the Egyptian government that the relic was stolen.

The 11-inch-tall bust, made from brown quartzite, has damage to the nose, ears, and chin, but is in otherwise excellent condition, according to Christie’s, a London-based auction house. The sculpture is a depiction of the ancient Egyptian god Amen, and fashioned to look like the pharaoh Tutankhamun. An unnamed collector purchased the stunning 3,300-year-old relic for £4,746,250 ($5,936,372) at an auction on July 4.

“This face is recognizable among a thousand Egyptian royal faces,” noted Laetitia Delaloye, London Head of Ancient Art & Antiquities, at the Christie’s website, pointing to the pharaoh’s almond-shaped eyes, high cheekbones, and prominent top lip. “We are honoured to present this head to auction for the first time in its history. It has been very well known on the market, and has been published and exhibited many times over the past 35 years,” she said.
Christie’s went ahead with the auction despite protests from Cairo and appeals to the British government by Egypt’s ambassador in London.

The north African country claims rightful ownership of the piece, saying it holds the rights under its laws, according to ABC News. Prior to the auction, the Egyptian foreign ministry demanded that Christie’s disclose documentation detailing the statue’s ownership.

“They never tell us about the origin, about how they bought it from Egypt, who has ownership of this piece,” said Zahi Hawass, the former Egyptian antiquities minister, as reported by CBS news. “They have no evidence of that but we do think that this is a part of our heritage.”

Indeed, the history of this relic is shrouded in mystery. Since the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in the 1920s, the bust has passed through several owners, finally landing in a private German collection in 1985. The relic has now moved on to yet another owner, despite claims from Egypt that the relic was stolen.

Christie’s disagreed, saying it carried out “extensive due diligence” to prove the ownership of the statue, and that it went “beyond what is required to assure legal title,” according to the Associated Press. A U.K. government official said “they expect all sales to go in accordance with the law and that this is a matter for Christie’s,” reported CBS.

This is not the first time Egypt has demanded the return of an artifact, nor is it likely to be the last. The Rosetta Stone kept at the British Museum, for example, is one such item. This latest incident is part of a growing trend, in which nations are demanding the return of ancient artifacts taken from their territory by foreign archaeologists and collectors.

Indeed, a strong case can be made that ancient relics, human remains, and other items of archaeological, historical, and cultural significance, if taken without consent, should be repatriated when a country asks for their return. Sadly, too many countries are finding it hard to shake their imperialistic habits.

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Pink City Jaipur gets UNESCO World Heritage tag

The historic walled city of Jaipur in Rajasthan, was founded in 1727 AD under the patronage of Sawai Jai Singh II. It serves as the capital city of the culturally-rich state of Rajasthan

The Walled City of Jaipur, known for its iconic architectural legacy and vibrant culture, Saturday made its entry into the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

Amer Fort, Jaipur

“Just inscribed as @UNESCO #WorldHeritage Site: Jaipur City in Rajasthan, #India. Bravo,” UNESCO tweeted Saturday afternoon. The announcement was made after the 43rd Session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, underway at Baku (Azerbaijan) from June 30 to July 10, examined the nomination of the Walled City of Jaipur for inclusion in the World Heritage list as reported by Hindustan Times.

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed happiness that the city has been recognised as a World Heritage Site. “Jaipur is a city associated with culture and valour. Elegant and energetic, Jaipur’s hospitality draws people from all over. Glad that this city has been inscribed as a World Heritage Site by @UNESCO,” Modi tweeted.

Amer Fort, Jaipur

A senior official said, ICOMOS (The International Council on Monuments and Sites) had inspected the city in 2018, post its nomination, adding, the WHC in Baku examined the nomination and inscribed it in UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

The historic walled city of Jaipur in Rajasthan, was founded in 1727 AD under the patronage of Sawai Jai Singh II. It serves as the capital city of the culturally-rich state of Rajasthan.

Jal Mahal Palace, Jaipur
Jal Mahal Palace, Jaipur

“The city was proposed to be nominated for its value of being an exemplary development in town planning and architecture that demonstrates an amalgamation and important exchange of ideas in the late medieval period.

“In town planning, it shows an interchange of ancient Hindu, Mughal and contemporary Western ideas that resulted in the form of the city,” UNESCO Office in New Delhi had earlier said.

Amber Fort Jaipur

In addition, Jaipur City is an exceptional example of a late medieval trade town in South Asia and defined new concepts for a thriving trade and commercial hub.

Fortification walls, merlons and stepped pond, Nahargarh fort, Jaipur Built atop a hill this fort is ‘Giri-Durga’ class of fortification mentioned in Arthashastra, Manasara etc. Pointed arch shaped merlons are depicted in Shunga bas-reliefs of ~2nd century BCE.

In addition, the city is associated with living traditions in the form of crafts that have national and international recognition, it said.

Amber fort, Jaipur

“The World Heritage Committee is composed of representatives of 21 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention who meet annually. The Committee is in charge of implementing the Convention. To date, 1,092 sites in 167 countries have been inscribed on the World Heritage List,” it said.

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Facebook, Instagram and other platforms experiencing issues worldwide

Facebook, which owns all three apps, said it was aware of the issue and was “working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible”.

The company’s main social network, its two messaging apps and image-sharing site Instagram have billions of users.

Rival platform Twitter also had issues, with some users not able to send direct messages or receive notifications.

Facebook has stopped working properly, at the same time as WhatsApp.

Rather than a total or global outage, the Facebook issue appears to be specific to certain features. Users report that specific posts or photos don’t show, but that the page might load, leading to international frustration.

Issues are being reported all across the world, according to the tracking website Down Detector.

Users in Europe, the US, South America and Japan were particularly affected, with thousands of users across the globe running into problems.

The problems come at the same time as a similar issue on WhatsApp. There, files appear to be running into problems sending – meaning that photos, videos and voice messages won’t show up properly.

And users also report that Instagram has stopped working, with photos also failing to load on that site.

Facebook’s “Platform Status” page, which is intended to track problems with the site, shows a message indicating that the service “is Healthy”. But that site can be slow to reflect problems, especially when they are less widespread, as reported by The Independent News agency.

Last time all three of Facebook’s major services broke, the outage lasted for many hours. It later blamed that problem on a server issue that had a knock-on effect on Instagram and WhatsApp, as well as Facebook, since the three use shared infrastructure.

As a result of a server configuration change, many people had trouble accessing our apps and services,” Facebook posted on Twitter after that previous outage was fixed. “We’ve now resolved the issues and our systems are recovering. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience and appreciate everyone’s patience.”

When those problems happened in March, they were said to be perhaps the biggest outage in the history of the internet, hitting millions of people.

“By duration, this is by far the largest outage we have seen since the launch of Downdetector in 2012,” Tom Sanders, co-founder of Downdetector, told Techcrunch in the wake of that outage. “Our systems processed about 7.5 million problem reports from end users over the course of this incident. Never before have we such a large scale outage.”

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