@

 
   
   
   
   
   
HOME
NEWS  
NEWS FEATURES  
INTERVIEWS  
POLITICAL COLUMN  
THIS IS MY NATION  
MILITARY MATTERS  
EDITORIAL  
SPORTS  
CARTOON  
BUSINESS  
EYE - FEATURES  
LETTERS  
EVENTS  
SOUL - YOUTH MAG  
KIDS - NATION  
ENTERTAINMENT  
NATION WORLD  
NATION 2  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

  Nation World  


 

Twin suicide bombs kill 25 in Karachi

Suicide bombers rammed into a bus in Karachi on Friday then hit a hospital where casualties were rushed for treatment, killing 25 people in the second assault on Shiites in the Pakistani city in weeks.

The attacks in a city largely isolated from Islamist violence highlighted the instability in Pakistan, which is on the frontline of the US war on Al-Qaeda and where militants have killed more than 3,000 people since 2007.

Women and children were among the 12 people killed when a suicide attacker rammed a motorbike bomb into a bus carrying Shiites on one of Karachi’s busiest roads, gutting the bus and sending glass flying, officials and witnesses said.

A second bomber killed 13 people, damaging ambulances and the entrance to the casualty department at Jinnah Hospital, where the victims of the first attack were being treated and anxious relatives were gathering.
Sectarian violence periodically flares between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, who account for about 20 percent of Pakistan’s 167-million-strong population. Such violence has killed more than 4,000 people since the late 1980s.

Police said they defused a third bomb rigged inside a television and left in the hospital car park.
Witnesses and officials said the bus was packed with Shiite Muslims heading to a religious procession to mark the last day of the holy month of Muharram in Karachi, a southern port city of 16 million people on the Arabian sea.

“I heard a deafening explosion. I saw stretchers flying in the air. Two men fell just in front of me. I think they died,” said Azam Ali, 26, who went to the hospital to inquire about a cousin wounded in the bus attack.
“Those killed and injured were mostly Shiites. They were relatives of those hurt in the first blast.”
Ambulances were heavily damaged outside the hospital, blood stained the bus and wreckage strewed the ground after both attacks, witnesses said.

Twelve people died in the first blast and 13 in the second, with more than 100 people wounded, said Sagheer Ahmed, health minister for the southern province of Sindh.
“The dead included two women and two children,” he told AFP.
The US embassy in Islamabad condemned the “terrorist attacks” and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani appealed for calm in the politically volatile city, where violence has killed up to 85 party activists so far this year.

Police said they were investigating who was responsible for an apparently sophisticated and well-organised attack designed to inflict maximum casualties.
“The perpetrators knew Jinnah Hospital was the nearest to the site of the first attack and ensured a follow-up attack when they saw significant numbers of people gathered there,” said senior police official Mazhar Mishwani.

Doctor Seemi Jamali, head of Jinnah Hospital, urged the government to provide security assistance and training for a war-like situation, saying that staff, patients and relatives were terrified after the attack.
“The hospital is at standstill. Patients are scared, relatives are scared, all hospital employees are scared.
“We are trained as doctors, paramedics and nurses... If it goes on like this, working in a war, then we should have training,” she told reporters.

It was the deadliest bombing in Pakistan since 101 people were killed at a volleyball match in the northwestern district of Lakki Marwat on New Year’s Day, and follows a recent decline in militant activity.
On December 28, a bombing killed 43 people and reduced to a bloodbath a parade marking the holiest Shiite day of Ashura, earlier in Muharram.

Pakistan’s feared Taliban network claimed responsibility for that attack, sparking riots that caused huge financial losses.
US officials believe Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, who oversaw a major increase in bomb attacks and plotted with Al-Qaeda to kill five CIA agents in Afghanistan, was probably killed in a US drone attack last month.
Security had been stepped up in Karachi as a wave of political violence killed at least 37 activists from rival parties in the local government in the last five days, following 48 similar killings last month. – (AFP)

 

Iraq war haunts Tony Blair

By Thanapathi
In an unprecedented development last week, the world witnessed for the first time in modern history a leader of a developed nation having to defend at a public inquiry his actions to take his country to war. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair made the much-anticipated appearance before an inquiry into the Iraq War on January 29 which was tipped to be the climax of a hearing that has been tasked to look into the circumstances that saw Britain join its traditional ally the United States in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. An estimated crowd of a million people protested in London against their country being dragged into the conflict.

Yet their Prime Minister is popularly believed to have had a pact with President George W. Bush and committed British troops for the mission. Many believe that Britain was not kept fully briefed of the invasion plans by the Americans and had little influence on the decision making in the pre-invasion stage.

Inquiry gaining more attention

The Inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot was set up by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to look into the Iraq war covering a period from 2001–2009. The hearings are being held in public unless there are “compelling reasons” for witnesses to be heard in private. The inquiry which started its hearings in July 2009 has been a rather boring affair until now with hours of testimony being recorded from the key British players in the Iraq invasion. However, in recent weeks the Inquiry had been gaining more attention due to the high profile stakeholders appearing before it. The highlight of the proceedings was the appearance of Tony Blair, former leader whom most Brits hold responsible for dragging their country into an unjust war.

Seven years after the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, and almost three years after Blair handed over to Gordon Brown, the decision to wage war in Iraq still provokes anger. Families of some of the 179 soldiers killed in Iraq joined the anti-war demonstrations outside the building while Tony Blair was appearing before the inquiry and demanded that the former prime minister be charged as a war criminal and tried for his actions.

Valiantly defending his action

If anyone assumed that Tony Blair would be in the dock during his appearance they were to be bitterly disappointed. For six hours he tried valiantly to defend his actions arguing that after the 9/11 attacks against the US it was not an option to do nothing about Iraq which was perceived as a rogue nation that was posing a threat to the rest of the world. Rather than showing remorse or regret for his actions the former prime minister remained defiant. He denied making a covert deal with President George Bush to invade Iraq. He denied that he ever said that he would have supported the invasion of Iraq even if Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction. He also said he believed the invasion was authorised by the United Nations Resolution 1441 even though many world powers did not agree with the US /UK interpretation of the resolution that gave them the right to use military power against Iraq.

When asked whether he has any regrets the answer was a definite “no” added with how a tough decision had to be made with regard to the invasion of Iraq. It was, in fact, a courageous show by the former PM who demonstrated why he is regarded as one of the brightest politicians in modern British history. Yet for all his achievements, Tony Blair would go down in history as the man who dragged Britain in to war in Iraq, a decision which remains deeply unpopular to this day. For Tony Blair in 2003, facing anti-war demonstrations on the streets, the decision to deploy troops alongside American forces was a profoundly risky gamble, based on a hope that the battle would end quickly and cleanly in a victory resonating as much in the ballot-box as in the historical record. He was reassured by a similar course of action in Kosowo in 1997. In that instance the joint NATO action swiftly ended the war and restored peace in what was the only bloody conflict in Europe.

Went to war with faulty intelligence

So far the Chilcot inquiry has heard that Britain went to war along with the US mainly on faulty intelligence. At the time of launching the invasion the Americans and the British had claimed that an attack from Iraq was imminent. Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) was the manthra on which the two allies invaded. The Inquiry heard from senior civil servants who said intelligence in the days before the March 20, 2003 invasion indicated that Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction had been dismantled. It was also revealed at the inquiry that Britain was not ready militarily to launch the Iraq war in 2003 and its soldiers went in without adequate equipment. The country’s defence chief Jock Stirrup, who was deputy chief of staff in charge of equipment at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, told the Inquiry that the government had been warned of the risk that its troops would not be fully equipped in time. Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup said top military planners “simply didn’t have enough time, as it turned out, to do ¬everything we needed to do before the operation started”. He added “We made it absolutely clear to ministers that if we were not allowed to engage with industry – and that was the critical element – we could take these no further and that there was a serious risk that they would not all be delivered by the assumed start of operations.”

Retired officers and soldiers’ relatives have complained that British troops were sent into war with inadequate equipment, putting their lives at risk. This was a charge that was vehemently denied by Tony Blair when he was pressed for details on the matter.

Not a tribunal

To the disappointment of many the Chilcot Inquiry has taken a fact finding mandate rather than an actual tribunal and its final report is not due to be presented till next year. The individuals who appear before it do not face prosecution or do not stand accused of a crime. For those who believe that war crimes were committed by the British government along with its United States ally in invading Iraq, the Chilcot Inquiry has been a letdown. However, on the other hand it can be seen as an unprecedented step by a liberal democracy to hold its leaders accountable for their actions. Even though the findings of the Inquiry are not legally binding the very fact that a head of government is now facing such a public hearing itself is a great leap forward in a world where such accountability is expected from others but usually not from the greater powers. Even if Tony Blair or George W. Bush would never see a day in court for the crimes they have committed in Iraq, these few weeks have proven that the blanket immunity that was supposed to cover them is no longer impenetrable. It would definitely be a point to ponder for any future leader before they take such an illegal unilateral decision in the future.

 

Bombs and beatings: Life among the Taliban

In Pakistan an account of life with the Taliban has emerged from a 13-year-old girl called Meena, who says her own family tried to turn her into a suicide bomber.
There is no independent confirmation of her account but police say they believe she is telling the truth, and her information could be valuable.
Meena told her story to our Pakistan correspondent Orla Guerin.
My brother used to tell me that the place for a woman is either at home or in the grave. I was always restricted to home.

He said: “If you leave the house I’ll cut off your head and put it on your chest.”
My brother had been to the local school and beaten the girls and the teachers. He said anyone who wanted to study was a friend of America.

I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted it so much that once I dreamt I was sitting in a hospital, working as a doctor. I wanted to help the poor, those who cannot afford medical fees.
Taliban commanders used to come to our house. There was an underground bunker beside the house, with electricity. It was concrete and very strong. Cars would drive on top but no-one would realise what was underneath. In that hideout they used to train suicide bombers.
Most were children of my age or younger than me. They were used for these activities because they were too young to know any better.
I used to see these children getting on a vehicle to go for their missions. They used loud Islamic CDs to motivate them. And I would think, “My God, more Muslims are going to be buried”. Then the news would come that more Muslims were wiped out.

My brother used to prepare bombs and my sister-in-law did too. He told me that he would teach me this. I told him no. I would not even look at what they were doing. My father and brother told me to carry out a suicide attack. They were pressuring me to do this.
They told me: “If you do it you will go to paradise long before us.” I replied: “Why don’t you tell me I will go to hell long before you?”

Everyday they used to tell me this. Everyday. I was very young when they started telling me this. I said to them: “What about all the people I will kill? They are all Muslims.”
They started beating me when I refused. They beat me non-stop. They made my life hell. I never had a single moment of happiness. They did everything other than kill me.
They said: “The bomb will be connected with a button, or something like the remote control of a TV. We will give you this kind of remote, and you will go to the place. “We will also give you a mobile, and we will ring that phone, and press the remote, and you will be blown up with this bomb.”
They told me they would use such a large amount of explosives that no-one would even know if it was a man or a woman. They told me that I had to do it.

There was a kind of medicine they used to give to the bombers that made them go around smiling, in a trance. They said they would give me that medicine, and then I would go running to die - with a smile. I was so scared I decided to prepare my own tea, and my own food.

I was afraid they would mix that medicine with my food.
They attached a bomb to my sister Nahida. They tied rectangular pieces to both her arms, and a black strip was wrapped around both her legs.

Then they connected the whole thing. She told my brother the bomb was heavy and she could not walk.
He said she would be comfortable once she was sitting down in the car. They gave her medicine. But she was crying very loud for my mother. She kept going to her and hugging her. When my sister looked down at the bomb, she shivered.
Then my brother and my father started beating my mother, and they were shouting: “Why you are distracting the girl from her mission?”
I heard my sister saying: “Where is Meena? I want to see her.” But I didn’t have the strength. My heart couldn’t take it.

My mother fainted when they put her in the car. My brother said my sister’s attack was in Afghanistan.
I always think about my sister. She was healthy and a very nice girl. She was younger than me, but she was wiser. My mother used to tell me that I was an idiot, but she was very wise.
My brother was involved in the Khyber Bazaar bombing (in the frontier city of Peshawar in October 2009, in which more than 50 people were killed). It was discussed in the house.
When someone was sent somewhere they would talk about the target.

They would say: “We are sending this group there.”
After the bombings they would celebrate. They would garland each other with flowers as people do when they come back from the Haj.
When former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto died, my brother started calling everybody. They started firing, and saying “Benazir has died, Benazir has died”. Everybody started firing - they celebrated until it was very late.
My brother visited a friend’s house after many years and was given a goat and a motorbike which he brought home.

They used to get animals as gifts because there were so many Taliban to be fed. He asked me to take care of the goat but she ran out of the gate. I went after her.
Our house was on a ridge. There was a stream down below. She went down to the stream and I followed her. A plane came making a lot of noise, and vibrations. (This was an attack by a helicopter gunship.)
When I looked back up to my place all I could see was a lot of smoke rising. My house was turned into rubble.
I didn’t have a clue about how many of my family members were dead or alive. Since that place was full of arms and explosives I could hear big bangs.

Then I started walking and by the evening prayers I had reached a local town.
People say I have a strong heart. I’ve had to be strong. What can I do? God won’t even let me die.
If my brother gets hold of me, I will poison him and myself.
The Taliban slaughter other people’s children. They turn women into widows. They should be made to suffer too. I want these Taliban to be burned alive. - (BBC News)

 

Iran ‘close to uranium fuel deal’

Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki said his country is close to reaching a deal with world powers on sending Iran’s low-enriched uranium abroad in return for nuclear fuel.
It is the second time in a week that a top Iranian official has spoken positively about the international nuclear fuel deal.
For months the agreement has appeared stalled with increasing pressure amongst Western powers to step up sanctions on Iran.
Speaking at a security conference in Munich, Germany, Mottaki said the conditions existed for an exchange in the not-too-distant future.
“The most important point is this political will and personally I feel this political will is there,” he said.
“Both sides’ agreement will be done before the starting of producing 20 per cent enriched uranium. Here, there must be guarantee for both sides.”
But he remained vague about the timing, which has been a key issue, and said the quantity of fuel involved should be up to Iran.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd confirmed the government had blocked three shipments of cargo to Iran, but refused to say what they contained.
Defence Minister, John Faulkner used powers under the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act to stop the shipments amid fears their contents could be used in the country’s nuclear program.
Rudd said Senator Faulkner’s actions were entirely appropriate.
“We are party to international obligations, we exercise those obligations, because we believe we must play the role of a responsible international citizen,” he told ABC Radio’s AM. – (ABC)

 

Turkish girl ‘buried alive’ in family garden

A Turkish teenager found dead in a hole next to her house was probably buried alive, a post-mortem examination has revealed.
Medine Memi, 16, was found in the hole in December. Large amounts of soil were in her lungs and stomach, according to a source who has seen the report.
Her father and grandfather have been arrested, but not charged.
So-called “honour killings” take place every year in Turkey despite government moves to stamp out the practice.
Two months after police found Medine’s body buried in the garden of her family home, a team of doctors at a university in Malatya has completed the post-mortem examination.
According to a source who has seen their report, there was only minor bruising on her body, and no evidence of her being drugged.

Concrete covered

Her hands had been tied behind her back, and they discovered large amounts of soil in her lungs and stomach.
The autopsy has concluded that she was almost certainly buried alive.
The police went to her home after a neighbour reported that Medine had not been seen for a month.
They found her body in a hole, newly covered with concrete, next to the hen-house.
A local organisation that campaigns against honour killings said the victim, one of 10 children, had gone three times to the police to complain that she was being beaten, but she was sent back to her family each time.
A member of the organisation visited Medine’s mother a few days after her body was found, but she was too distraught to give them much information.

Conservative community

Medine, who had never been to school, lived in Kahta, a town in the mainly Kurdish south-east of Turkey, where most honour killings have taken place.
The town is known for being very conservative and religious; it is a stronghold of the once powerful Naksibendi Islamic sect, which was banned by modern Turkey’s founding father Ataturk in 1925 but has revived in recent years.

But while it is true that most such killings are carried out in conservative Muslim communities, the practice is linked more to the customs of this region of Turkey, than to religious belief.
When girls or women are deemed to have stained the family honour, by behaviour as innocent as simply talking to boys, there is strong peer pressure from the community on the male members of the family to restore their honour, say groups working on the issue in the south-east.
The only way allowed by their code is to kill the girl or woman - usually a young man is given the task after a family council meeting, and the method and location of the killing are discussed in detail.

Emotional state

Afterwards, the family will try to pretend she never existed.
The government has tried to curb the practice by changing the guidance given to judges.
In the case of honour killings, they are no longer allowed to use mitigating factors like the accused’s emotional state to reduce sentences. But this has so far had a limited impact.
According the statistics from the prime minister’s office, there were 16 honour killings in Medine’s province of Adiyaman between 2003 and 2007. NGOs say the official figures are almost certainly too low.
Last year a Turkish man was sentenced to life imprisonment in London for the murder of his 15-year-old daughter a decade earlier. Her body has never been found. - (BBC News)

 

Bill Clinton pledges to improve Haiti aid distribution

Haiti faces a massive task helping those who lost homes and livelihoods in the recent earthquake, former US President Bill Clinton has admitted.
Named by the UN as international aid co-ordinator, Clinton was visiting Haiti’s damaged capital Port-au-Prince.
Protesters gathered as he met the country’s president for talks on how to improve the sluggish delivery of aid. Clinton visited as 10 US citizens facing child abduction charges were denied conditional release. The five men and five women, all Baptist missionaries, were sent back to jail with no further hearing scheduled for several days at least. They deny allegations they tried to smuggle 33 children across the border to the Dominican Republic.
At least one million people currently need aid in Haiti after the magitude 7.0 earthquake that officials say killed 212,000.
Visiting Port-au-Prince, Clinton apologised for the delay in delivering and coordinating relief efforts. “I’m sorry it’s taken this long but these people are working hard and what I’m trying to do now is to identify the things that aren’t being done and need to be speeded up and fill those blanks. I’m doing the best I can,” he said.
According to the UN, many people are living near the rubble of their homes and some half a million are packed into some 315 makeshift camps which have sprung up around the city. - (BBC News)
 

 

News in brief

Michael Jackson’s doctor to be charged

Los Angeles prosecutors will file a criminal case against Michael Jackson’s doctor on Monday in connection with the singer’s death, officials say.
Unnamed police officials also said prosecutors plan to charge the 56-year-old with involuntary manslaughter.
The announcement came shortly before Dr. Conrad Murray had planned to surrender himself at a Los Angeles courthouse.
Details of charges will be officially released Monday, the LA district attorney’s office said.
Involuntary manslaughter occurs when a death is the indirect result of negligence or recklessness.
If Dr. Murray is charged, a judge would consider the evidence and decide whether Dr. Murray should go on trial. - (BBC news)

Bombings hit Iraq Shia pilgrims

Two suicide bombers have killed at least 40 people and injured more than 140 on the outskirts of the Iraqi city of Karbala, police reports say.
About a million Shia Muslim pilgrims are in the city to visit the Imam Hussein shrine. About 60 pilgrims were killed in two other attacks this week.
Friday is the last and most important day of the Arbaeen, 40 days of mourning for the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.
Meanwhile, 25 people were killed in an attack on Shias in Karachi in Pakistan. Police said the Karbala attack was a double suicide bombing - two cars packed with explosives were detonated on either side of a bridge across which pilgrims were making their way in and out of the city.
Some reports said the car bomb attack was followed up by mortar rounds.
In addition to the 11 dead, about 50 people were injured.
The Shia-Sunni schism originates from a dispute soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad over who should lead the Muslims. - (BBC news)

Eastern US brace for major snowstorm

Government offices, courts and schools have closed early in Washington DC to allow workers to get home ahead of a major snowstorm.
Forecasters have predicted up to 2ft (60cm) of snow which would make it the snowiest winter in the capital for a century.
Shops in the US capital and surrounding areas are said to be running low on staple supplies as residents stock up.
Blizzard warnings are in effect in much of Delaware and New Jersey.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency two days ago to allow extra preparation time for emergency and road crews.
According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, 94% of the state’s snow removal budget has already been spent, after a major blizzard hit the area in December.
Officials said they would have to use emergency funds to pay for snow removal after this latest storm. - (BBC news)

 

Health Watch

Fish oil beat mental illness

Taking a daily fish oil capsule can stave off mental illness in those at highest risk, trial findings suggest.
A three-month course of the supplement appeared to be as effective as drugs, cutting the rate of psychotic illness like schizophrenia by a quarter.
The researchers believe it is the omega-3 in fish oil - already hailed for promoting healthy hearts - that has beneficial effects in the brain.
A “natural” remedy would be welcomed, Archives of General Psychiatry says.
“The finding that treatment with a natural substance may prevent, or at least delay, the onset of psychotic disorder gives hope that there may be alternatives to antipsychotic drugs,” the study authors said.
Antipsychotic drugs are potent and can have serious side effects, which puts some people off taking them.
Fish oil supplements, on the other hand, are generally well tolerated and easy to take, say the scientists.
The international team from Austria, Australia and Switzerland tested the treatment in 81 people deemed to be at particularly high risk of developing psychosis. Their high risk was down to a strong family history of schizophrenia, or similar disorders, or them already showing mild symptoms of these conditions themselves. For the test, half of the individuals took fish oil supplements (1.2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids) for 12 weeks, while the other half took only a dummy pill. Neither group knew which treatment they were receiving.
Dr Paul Amminger and his team followed the groups for a year to see how many, if any, went on to develop illness.
- (BBC News)

Internet addiction linked to depression

There is a strong link between heavy internet use and depression, UK psychologists have said.
The study, reported in the journal Psychopathology, found 1.2% of people surveyed were “internet addicts”, and many of these were depressed.
The Leeds University team stressed they could not say one necessarily caused the other, and that most internet users did not suffer mental health problems.
The conclusions were based on 1,319 responses to an on-line questionnaire.
Recruitment was via links on social networking sites. People were asked how much they used the internet and for what purposes.
They were also asked a series of questions to assess whether they suffered from depression. The respondents were aged 16 to 51, with an average age of 21.
The authors found that a small number of users had developed a compulsive internet habit, replacing real life social interaction with online chat rooms and social networking sites.
They classed 18 respondents - 1.2% of the total - as “internet addicts”.
This group spent proportionately more time on sex, gambling and online community websites. Lead author Dr Catriona Morrison said: “The internet now plays a huge part in modern life, but its benefits are accompanied by a darker side.
“While many of us use the internet to pay bills, shop and send e-mails, there is a small subset of the population who find it hard to control how much time they spend online, to the point where it interferes with their daily activities.”
The internet addicts were significantly more depressed than the non-addicted group, with a depression score five times higher. - (BBC News)

Artificial pancreas hope for children with diabetes

Scientists in Cambridge have shown that an “artificial pancreas” can be used to regulate blood sugar in children with Type1 diabetes.
A trial found that combining a “real time” sensor measuring glucose levels with a pump that delivers insulin can boost overnight blood sugar control.
The Lancet study showed the device significantly cut the risk of blood sugar levels dropping dangerously low.
Experts said the results were an important “step forward”.
Type 1 diabetes is a chronic, life threatening condition, in which the pancreas does not produce insulin - the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
In total, 17 children and teenagers with Type 1 diabetes took part in the study over 54 nights in hospital.
Individually, the glucose monitoring system and the insulin pump used in the study are both already widely used and commercially available.
But in order to turn them into a “closed loop” system which monitors the patient’s condition and delivers treatment accordingly, the researchers developed a sophisticated algorithm to calculate the appropriate amount of insulin to deliver based on the real-time glucose readings.
They then measured how well the artificial pancreas system controlled glucose levels compared with the children’s regular continuous pump, which delivers insulin at pre-selected rates. Study leader Dr Roman Hovorka said: “This is the first randomised study showing the potential benefit of the artificial pancreas system overnight using commercially-available sensors and pumps.
“Our study provides a stepping stone for testing the system at home.” - (BBC News)

 

Oddly enough

Finders weepers

Two Chinese men who found a horde of priceless antiques in an ancient tomb did not realise their value and sold them for pennies.
One of the artworks was a pottery figure of a woman worth nearly £100,000 which they sold for the equivalent of 28p.
Feng and Zheng of Guying town, Henan province, say they found the tomb while hunting hares in a field near their homes.
“We saw a 50cm diameter opening in the field. Curiosity drove us to dig deep,” Feng told the Zhengzhou Evening Post.
They dug out more than 20 antiques from the tomb, and sold them to a collector for just over £1,000 altogether.
“We don’t know the value of these things. The collector said the pottery meant nothing, so we virtually gave it away,” added Feng.

Website for beautiful people kicks off fatties

BeautifulPeople.com said it acted after users posted photos of themselves celebrating Christmas and the New Year - revealing they had “let themselves go”.
“We responded to complaints by moving the newly chubby members back to the rating stage. This is the same as having them re-apply,” said Greg Hodge, the managing director.
“Their re-applications were reviewed by existing members and only a few hundred were voted back in. Over 5,000 were rejected.”
Most of those expelled came from the US and Canada, but nearly 900 were from Britain, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The social networking site, which boasts 550,000 members worldwide, allows its members to decide on who should be allowed to join.
Hodge said: “Every year we see that some of our members from western cultures eat and drink to excess over the holidays and clearly their looks suffer,” he said.
“The USA has been grossly over-indulging since Thanksgiving - it’s no wonder that so many members have been expelled from the network. We hope they will be back after shedding the festive pounds.
“In the UK and Canada, Christmas and the New Year are all about over-eating, over-drinking and watching TV on the sofa.”

Trainee hypnotist puts himself into a trance

A newly trained hypnotist accidentally put himself into a trance for five hours while practising in front of a mirror.
Helmut Kichmeier, 27, was found by wife, Joanna, staring into thin air in their north London home, reports the Daily Telegraph.
Kichmeier, whose stage name is Hannibal Helmurto, had learned to put himself into a trance to help him swallow swords on stage.
He had been taught the skill by hypnotherapist Dr Ray Roberts to assist in a new act for the Circus of Horrors show.

But as he practiced the skill in front of the mirror at 10am he set himself into a deep sleep until 3pm, when he was found by his wife.
It was only after she phoned Dr Roberts and put the receiver to Kichmeier’s head that he was able to be talked out of the trance.

Mrs Kichmeier said her husband had looked just like a zombie when she came into the room to find him.
She said: “I tried to ask him what was wrong but he didn’t answer and it was then I looked at the sofa behind him and saw a book named Hypnosis Medicine of the Mind.
“It was opened on page 45 and a chapter named hypnotic anaesthesia and I realised there was something wrong. (source: Annova)