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Ayman's blog

Translation of 3,000-Year-Old Egyptian Will Reveals Family Disputes Similar to Today

Unlike ancient Latin and Greek texts, Egyptian hieroglyphs have been mostly inaccessible for the average ancient history enthusiast. But this is beginning to change with a collection of texts that have been translated into English for modern readers and put into one volume for the first time. Stories and legal documents included in the work paint a clearer picture of what everyday life was like for the ancient Egyptians.

The new book, called Writings from Ancient Egypt is the work of Egyptologist Toby Wilkinson, a fellow of Clare College at Cambridge University. Wilkinson created the volume to enable the general public to witness the beauty and, as the Guardian says “rich literary tradition” that was created over 3,500 years, and covers countless papyri and tomb walls. Wilkinson told The Guardian, “What will surprise people are the insights behind the well-known facade of ancient Egypt, behind the image that everyone has of the pharaohs, Tutankhamun’s mask and the pyramids.”

Stele of Minnakht, chief of the scribes during the reign of Ay (c. 1321 BC).

Stele of Minnakht, chief of the scribes during the reign of Ay (c. 1321 BC). (Clio20/CC BY SA 3.0)

Featured in Ripley`s Believe It or Not!

Russian Mosquito Festival

MINI BELIEVE IT OR NOT –

Each summer, the Russian town of Berezniki hosts the Russian Mosquito Festival.

  • The festival was started four years ago as a joke
  • Prizes are given to the person with the most mosquito bites
  • In previous years, there were contests for who could catch the most mosquitos
  • Unusually hot and dry weather has limited the mosquito population, but didn’t cancel the festival

MINI BION

“BIONs” – short for Believe It or Not – is the word we use at Ripley’s to refer to anything that is unbelievable and worthy to become part of Ripley’s lore and collection.

Source: There’s a Mosquito Appreciation Festival in Russia

Featured in Ripley`s Believe It or Not!

civil war tails

The Civil War

If you live in the South, Civil War reenactments are commonplace. You can’t go more than a few months without hearing about another one. In all fairness, the Civil War Tails museum doesn’t actually do reenactments. What they’ve produced are dioramas of key moments from the war, and depictions of life during that time. But the dioramas all feature cats instead of people!

However, Civil War reenactments with kittens do sound like an adorable idea, and someone should get on that. Can you imagine them all silly in their outfits gamboling towards one another to play and wrestle? Too cute!

Civil War Tails

Located in Gettysburg, the museum offers a unique and fun take on history. But that’s not to say that the founders of the museum, Rebecca and Ruth Brown, don’t take their subject matter seriously. They create their scenes while thinking about soldiers, their families and loved ones, while they craft it.

If anything, the museum strives to give people a view into an important history while not getting too bogged down in the horror and tragedy of that history.

civil war tails

In some of the diorama scenes, the fact that the people are actually cats is obvious. But in others, the cats are not the first thing you notice.

civil war tails

This is because the fact that the soldiers are cats is, in a lot of ways, secondary. The point of the dioramas is still to teach people about life during the Civil War, and in the midst of some of the more gruesome scenes, that intention comes through loud and clear.

All in all, Civil War Tails Museum presents a unique and interesting look at the Civil War. Sometimes whimsical, sometimes heartbreaking, but always featuring cats.

civil war tails

civil war tails

civil war tails

civil war tails

Source: At Civil War Tails, the Civil War is Reenacted With Cats

pablo-mariam malak

Egyptian student Mariam Malak, known in the media as the “zero schoolgirl,” received an overall score of 94.02 percent on her Thanaweyya Amma (general high school) examinations this year, Al-Shorouk reported.

According to Malak’s brother, Mina, Malak’s scores prove that she was wronged last year, when she received an overall score of zero and was accused of fabricating a story of wrongdoing.

Malak made national and international headlines last year when she received a score of zero on all of her Thanaweyya Amma examinations, despite an otherwise stellar academic record. According to Malak, the answer booklet upon which she was reportedly graded was not in her handwriting and only contained a few lines, whereas she insisted she had written several pages.

Immediately, Malak appealed to the education authority in Assiut. When the authority dismissed her complaint, she moved up the ladder to the prosecution service, which ordered a forensics team to examine the test booklet and determine whether the handwriting matched that of Malak.

However, Malak was shocked once again when the forensics team determined that the handwritings matched, causing her case to be dismissed for the second time.

Malak’s plight became symbolic of Egyptian struggle against corruption, particularly when her continued efforts to navigate these bureaucratic hurdles and challenge the scores were unsuccessful.

Her story quickly gained traction across social media platforms, where users developed the hashtag “I believe Mariam Malak,” highlighting their disbelief of the medical reports and lack of support for the court rulings.

Her lawyer now says that her ability to secure a high overall score in this year’s examinations should remove any shadow of doubt that she was telling the truth before.

Laborers marched to Tahrir Square and the neighboring Shura Council during the Labour Day 2013. Credit: Virginie Nguyen

Laborers marched to Tahrir Square and the neighboring Shura Council during the Labor Day 2013. Credit: Virginie Nguyen

The number of Egyptians receiving permits from the Ministry of Interior to travel abroad for work has increased by 0.9 percent in 2015 compared to 2014, official statistics showed on Tuesday.

According to a statement from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), approximately 1.33 million Egyptians received work permits in 2015, compared to 1.32 million the year before.

In 2015, 97.5 percent of Egyptians applying to work abroad received permits for Arab countries.

Most Egyptian migrant labor is based in Saudi Arabia. Approximately 54.3 percent of Egyptians applying to work abroad in 2015 headed to Saudi Arabia, while about a third of them went to Kuwait.

Italy, on the other hand, has the most Egyptian migrant labor compared to the rest of the European continent, with over 20,000 Egyptians applying for work permits to head there last year.

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Egyptian prosecutors have launched an investigation into allegations that an official at a South Sinai resort attempted to ban a woman from wearing a burkini in the resort swimming pool, state-owned Ahram Online reported.

The victim, whose identity has not been revealed, filed a legal complaint claiming that the official demanded she leave the swimming pool and then verbally abused her after she refused to comply.

She says that he insulted her and her friends, calling her burkini – a full-body swimsuit – “disgusting” and escalated by throwing chlorine into the pool and ordering resort workers to swim next to the woman in their underwear.

It remains unclear whether the resort has official policies in place that outlaw the burkini.

Although Egypt is a Muslim-majority country, many restaurants and nightlife venues are known to bar veiled women from entering because they “violate” their clothing regulations.

The burkini, which was originally invented in Australia and is donned by many Muslim women around the world as a modest alternative to revealing swimwear, has stirred much controversy in recent weeks.

Some French towns, meanwhile, began to implement a ban on the burkini and images of French police at a beach forcing a burkini-clad woman to take off parts of her clothing have since gone viral, with many slamming the ban as an infringement on women’s freedom and an attempt to control their clothing.

A French court overturned the ban on the burkini on Friday.

7,000-Year-Old Ceramic Fragment with Signs, Symbols and Swastika May Be One of the Oldest Examples of Writing

While excavating the ancient Roman site of Ad Putea in modern Riben, Bulgaria, researchers made a startling discovery – an artifact that they believe may be one of the earliest attempts of writing in the world. This intriguing piece was found in a previously unknown settlement that lay below the Roman site.

Archaeology in Bulgaria reports that the artifact in question is a fragment of a ceramic vessel that has been dated back to the Chalcolithic period (Aeneolithic, Copper Age) some 7,000 years ago. The piece is said to depict pictographic signs, including a swastika, amongst other “pre-alphabetic” signs.

Before discussing the current find further, it is important to note that as John Black has written on Ancient Origins, although the swastika is a controversial symbol today and often associated in the western world with crimes against humanity; it is a symbol that has been revered by Hindus and Buddhists across the Asian continent (and by their followers around the globe).  The symbol has also been used by ancient Greeks, Nordic tribes, and some early Christians such as the Teutonic Order. Obviously they held a different opinion of this ancient symbol. John Black explains:

“The word ‘swastika’ is a Sanskrit word (‘svasktika’) meaning ‘It is’, ‘Well Being’, ‘Good Existence, and ‘Good Luck’ […] In Buddhism, the swastika is a symbol of good fortune, prosperity, abundance and eternity. It is directly related to Buddha and can be found carved on statues on the soles of his feet and on his heart.  It is said that it contains Buddha’s mind.”

The recently discovered cactus, possibly belonging to the hallucinogenic species San Pedro (Echinopsis pachanoi).

Chuquitanta or El Paraíso (The Paradise) are the modern names for a monumental archaeological complex located in the Chillon River valley, several kilometers north of downtown Lima and dated to the Late Archaic Period (3500-1800 BC). More specifically, different radiocarbon dates place the site to between the years 2300 and 1400 BC.

Discovered in 1950 by Louis Stumer, it was Thomas C. Patterson and Edward P. Lanning who, in 1964, managed to identify about nine structures and labelled it as a preceramic site.

A year later, in 1965, Frederic Engel conducted explorations and excavations at the site and identified another 8 buildings scattered over a large area, so he defined the site as a great architectural complex and one of the largest in ancient Peru. Subsequently, following neglect by authorities, the area began to be protected by nearby residents, although this was not enough to avoid destruction and the inevitable disappearance of the huacas.

One of the pyramids of the El Paraíso or Chuquitanta complex.

One of the pyramids of the El Paraíso or Chuquitanta complex. (Dibojutri/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Featured in Ripley`s Believe It or Not!

Krystle Missildine

Krystle Missildine

Here at Ripley’s, we love realistic paintings. By those standards, Krystle Missildine is already right at home in the Ripley’s collection. Her paintings of animals are wonderfully realistic and evocative. But it’s not her paintings on canvas that brought her to our attention.

Missildine paints portraits of animals on bird feathers!

Krystle Missildine

Boston Terrier on a Hyacinth Macaw Feather

How it’s Done

Anyone who’s held a feather can see it’s not the ideal surface for a painting. Feathers aren’t solid like leaves or butterfly wings. All of the little individual hairs on the feather are called barbs, and those barbs have even smaller pieces coming off of them called barbules. If you’ve ever rubbed a feather against the grain, you’ve seen the effect of those barbs being disturbed. So how would one go about painting them?

For starters, Missildine uses acrylic paint. In comparison to the more classic oil paints, acrylic dries in hours, sometimes minutes, while oils can take days to dry. Getting the base layer of paint onto the feather and dry helps the process move along.

She has to paint everything on the feather freehand because there’s nothing to fit a sketch onto. You’d think painting with the grain of the barbs instead of against it would make the process easier, but Missildine says differently.

It is actually easier to paint at the start by going across the strands rather than with the grain, and helps to fill it in more solidly with the paint. 

How about color selection? When you’re painting a clown fish, the colors kind of choose themselves. Missildine’s realism means that she sticks as closely as possible to the real coloration of her subjects. But feathers have a color and iridescence of their own. How does she take that into consideration when painting?

I generally choose colors that contrast against the natural color of the feather, with spots that are light against dark etc.

All of these elements combine to make some of the most detailed and beautiful paintings you’ll find. These feather paintings can take anywhere from three to 10 hours to complete. You can find out more about Krystle Missildine on her website or Facebook page, and see her art on her Instagram.

Painted Feathers

Krystle Missildine

Krystle Missildine

Silky the Cat on a Wild Turkey Feather

Krystle Missildine

European Robin on a blue and gold Macaw Feather

Krystle Missildine

Tiger on a Wild Turkey Feather

Krystle Missildine

Rainbow Lorikeet on a Macaw Feather

Krystle Missildine

Red Panda on a Macaw Feather

Source: Krystle Missildine Makes Amazing Paintings on Feathers

Part of the Russian airplane that crashed in Egypt`s North Sinai being inspected by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail. Credit: AP

Part of the Russian airplane that crashed in Egypt’s North Sinai being inspected by Prime Minister Sherif Ismail. Credit: AP

Russian and German experts arrived in Egypt on Monday to examine the wreckage of the Russian plane that was shot down over Sinai last October, Al Shorouk newspaper reported, quoting a statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The team aims to pinpoint the starting point of disintegration in the fuselage.

“All parts of the aircraft were transferred earlier to a safe place at Cairo International Airport; this comes to prelude the process of lining up the wreckage, integrating and assembling its parts, and arranging them in a natural figuration,” the statement reads.

According to the ministry’s statement, representatives from each of Ireland (the state of registration) and France (the state of design) are expected to join the examination, in addition to an accredited representative of the United States of America (the manufacturer of the engine), one expert in aircraft engines, and another from Airbus company, in order to participate in the realignment process.

The Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the plane crash, which killed 224 passengers onboard. Following the incident, Russia halted all of its flights to Egypt, contributing to an acute decline of tourism arrivals to Egypt.

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The 2016 Summer There Games collectibles are only available for purchase in the Auctions for a few more days and then the items will be retired. Make sure to grab a copy for your There Games collection!

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1046968261 1046968224 1046968233

 

 


Archive photo

Archive photo

Cairo prosecution ordered the arrest of a low-ranking policeman earlier on Monday, pending investigation, after he allegedly killed a microbus driver in Maadi Sunday night.

According to the Ministry of Interior, the policeman interfered in a quarrel between two drivers on the Autostrad road and fired a warning shot with his gun, resulting in the “accidental” death of one driver.

Earlier on Monday, microbus drivers held a strike in the El-Arab area in Maadi protesting the incident.

The driver, identified only as Gamal, was shot in the neck, state owned Al Ahram reported eyewitnesses as saying.

This follows a series of similar incidents in the past few months. In February, a driver was killed in the district of Al-Darb Al-Ahmar by a police officer for a dispute over the fare, and in April, a tea vendor was shot dead by a low ranking police man in the city of Rehab.

sharm

The number of tourists visiting Egypt in July dropped by 41.9 percent, compared to the same month last year, according to the latest numbers from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

The most significant countries that influenced the rate of decline are Russia at 60 percent, followed by the United Kingdom at 17.5 percent, Germany at 10.4 percent and Poland at 3.8 percent, Al Shorouk newspaper reported, quoting an announcement by CAPMAS.

According to CAPMAS’s monthly bulletin assessing tourism, the highest number of tourists in July came from Middle Eastern countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, which dispatched 40.5 percent of tourists arriving in Egypt. In second place came Western Europe, led by Germany with 26.2 percent, followed by Eastern European. Meanwhile, the rate of arrivals from the Americas, Africa, East Asia and the Pacific and South Asia, and other countries recorded 21.3 percent.

The bulletin further pointed out that the number of tourists arriving from Arab countries increased by 28.1 percent year-on-year, amounting to 233.5 thousand tourists during the past month, compared to 182.2 thousand tourists during the same period last year, thus comprising 44.1 percent of the total tourist arrivals.

The tourism sector, a vital source of foreign currency and a cornerstone of Egyptian economy, has been hard-hit following the crash of a Russian airliner killing 224 people onboard last year. The incident was claimed by a group affiliated with the Islamic State and Russia halted all flights to Egypt since then.

In late February, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said Egypt’s tourism revenues had dropped by approximately USD 1.3 billion since the crash. However, a recently appointed tourism minister later announced Egypt would aim to attract as many as 12 million tourists by the end of 2017, through a six-point plan, including increasing the presence of the national airline EgyptAir abroad, cooperating with low-cost airlines and improving services.

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The very first step in dealing with a problem is acknowledging that it exists. This is exactly the problem that Egypt faces when it comes to prostitution and the sex worker industry. As a result of Egypt’s social conservativeness, discussion of the general topic of prostitution is often ignored or looked down upon when even brought up. This is not only the way society views the illicit industry, but it is also the way the government does, which opens the door for a barrage of problems that actually do all the damage associated with prostitution.

For starters, it needs to be understood that the mere existence of any illicit and unregulated industry will result in much more damage to a country than if the very same industry were regulated, regardless of whether said industry is prostitution or the illicit dealing and distribution of cheeseburgers. This lack of regulation allows the people involved in the industry to find new and illicit ways to increase profit and satisfy greed, and these ways almost always are harmful to at least a certain party involved, which is exactly the case with prostitution.

Let’s look at the damages that unregulated prostitution causes. For starters, sex workers are entitled to absolutely no rights when it comes to the industry, due to the fact that a sex worker can be subjected to inhumane amounts of violence for a variety of reasons, and does not have any legal industry to rely on for protection because what he/she is doing is considered illegal to begin with. Then you have the fact that unregulated sex work increases the chance of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STDs and STIs), for both the customer and the sex worker. Digging even deeper, you can notice that prostitution is often associated with other illicit activities such as drug dealing, in the sense that many sex workers are often under the influence of drugs during work, sometimes by force, or work for “pimps” who also dabble in the drug industry. Unregulated prostitution also opens the door for the industry to attract children and minors who have not even reached the age of 18.

From an economic perspective, the unregulated prostitution industry in Egypt pumps lumps of money into the hidden economy, which are not accounted for in the nation’s official economic statistics, nor are they taxed. This industry also forces many people into prison; these people then consume tax money in prison for the food they eat, the water they drink and the space they occupy. This is all money that can be used for the development and bettering of the Egyptian standard of living.

The argument against legalizing prostitution, meanwhile, is that, religion – whether Islam or Christianity – prohibits adultery. Even if we were to overlook religion, social standards in Egypt consider adultery, especially prostitution, a taboo of epic proportions. I am completely in agreement with the fact that adultery and prostitution are religiously prohibited; I am not claiming that they aren’t but the reality we face in our country is that this industry exists, and it causes much more damage unregulated than it would if it were regulated.

Legalizing prostitution would take the following form: To begin with, official, recognized and legally regulated brothels would be established, with management directly from the Ministry of Interior. This management would make sure that the sex workers are of age and voluntarily work in the brothels and are not forced or coerced by anyone to do so. Security measures would also be in place to protect sex workers from violent customers. The sex workers would also have to submit to periodic STD tests, to ensure their own safety and that of customers. Each brothel would be taxed and would submit to annual investigations and reviews like every institution in the country. The brothel industry would also be owned by the government to avoid the privatization of the industry, which may lead to the same problems that resulted from a lack of regulation.

Legalizing sex work would also decrease the number of sexually-encouraged crimes, such as rape or harassment, an epidemic that the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality reports that 99.3 percent of Egyptian woman have been subjected to, due to the fact that men would now be able to legally satisfy their urges without harassing or sexually insulting others.

The legalization and regulation of sex work, though, does not mean giving the green light to pimps and sex traffickers to do as they please but would actually allow the government to crack down on prostitution that is not regulated, that still denies sex workers their rights and puts all involved parties in danger. Giving the industry a chance to legally exist under regulations would give the government the justification to harshen consequences for those who still choose to do it illicitly.

Now there are some who may argue that the government should just crack down on the entire industry and terminate it without going through the process of legalizing or regulating it. This makes sense, until you realize seconds later that sex is a natural urge, which creates a natural demand, and for every demand, a supplier will always appear to make money off of it.

The reality is that the industry is always going to exist and if the government wants to curb the damage it makes and maybe eventually terminate it, then it should legalize it, because putting down a mad dog on a leash is much easier than killing a mad dog that’s on the loose.

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Egypt’s cabinet of ministers approved a draft bill to increase prison time for the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), health minister Ahmed Emad announced on Sunday.

According to the new bill, jail time for those who carry out the outlawed procedure will be increased to a minimum of five years and a maximum of seven years. Previous legislation had stipulated that the punishment for performing FGM would be a prison sentence ranging from three months to two years and a fine of EGP 5,000.

The new bill also seeks to punish those who submit girls for an FGM procedure, often a girl’s mother, by sentencing them to prison for no less than one year and no more than three years.

The draft bill must be ratified by parliament before being incorporated into Egypt’s legislation.

Last year, a doctor stood trial for involuntary manslaughter after a young girl he was conducting an FGM operation on bled out and died during the procedure. Although he was sentenced to two years in prison in what was considered a “groundbreaking” instance of practitioners of FGM being penalized, it later came to light that the doctor only served a portion of his sentence, after evading authorities for a year and a half.

FGM continues to be a widespread practice in Egypt, despite being banned in 2008. Article 242 of Egypt’s Penal Code criminalizes the circumcision of girls and the punishment for performing FGM is a prison sentence ranging from three months to two years or a fine of EGP 5,000.

According to the 2015 Egypt Health Issues Survey (EHIS), around 9 in 10 women aged 15-49 have undergone the procedure. This number is only four percent lower than statistics from a 2008 survey.

The study found a greater prevalence of the practice among those with lower levels of education and those living in rural areas, compared to respondents living in urban areas and with higher levels of education and wealth.

According to the World Health Organization, Egypt, Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti and Sierra Leone have the highest rates of FGM. A 2013 UNICEF report found that Egypt has the world’s highest total number of FGM sufferers, with 27.2 million women having undergone FGM.

Today marks the last day of competitive events for the Summer There Games season! Log on and get in-world to help earn those last minute points for your team.

pebbie

Photo Credit: PrincessPebbie

There are several Quests still going! Gather your team members and help each other out. You can find other team members online by joining your Name Tag Color Team group and opening the in-world IM.

TSG Butterfly and Rebus Quests

TWO different TSG quests start in the Shorah Pavilion. Finish one or both of these quests by Sun Aug 28th to earn a point for your team. Quests are scored separately.

TSG Mascot Hunt & Quests Day 10

Come search for today’s location of the There Games butterfly. Save the location and tell your team members about it to earn as many points possible for your name tag color. Group photos are encouraged.

TSG Summer Squatch

This is a 24-hour quest. Make sure to read the rules at the event.

Other events for the last day of There Games include TSG Skeeball hosted by Orielle at the Rain Forest Plateau starting at 1:30 PM PST and TSG Avie Golf which includes shooting the ball (avie) around the course with paintguns hosted by Susanszy starting at 4:00 PM PST.

Join us on Monday, August 29th at 6:00 PM PST for the Summer There Games Closing Ceremony.


gohar

Egypt’s rising star Nouran Gohar and world champion Ramy Ashour dominated the 2016 Hong Kong Open, with each finishing with the top prize.

Gohar, 18, clenched her first World Series title while Ramy Ashour scored his third Hong Kong Open title.

During the competition, Gohar, who was recently crowned the World Junior Champion, defeated Nicol David in the semi-finals, ending David’s 10-year winning streak in Hong Kong.

On Sunday, Gohar defeated the USA’s Amanda Sobhy 6/11, 12/10, 11/7, 11/7 in a 43-minute long game to claim the top prize.

“I was down, I just had to fight to get back into it I can’t believe it!” said Gohar after winning her first World Series title.

Meanwhile, Ashour defeated fellow Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad 11/9, 8/11, 11/5, 5/11, 11/6 in an intense match that lasted 75 minutes. Gawad’s performance has been praised, particularly as it was the 25-year-old’s first appearance in a World Series tournament final.

Ashour had been happy to reach the finals after falling short in 2015.

“Last time I was here, I got kicked out of the quarter-finals, so to be in the final is a great feeling,” said Ashour ahead of the finals after defeating Hong Kong’s Max Lee.

Egypt has traditionally had a strong presence in squash. Today, players of all ages continue to thrive locally and internationally.

Labrets are a kind of jewelry, which can be made of shell, bone, or stone, and is inserted into the lip as an ornament in some cultures. Picture here and below: Krasnoyarsk Geoarkheologiya

Ancient items of jewellery found by archeologists on Taymyr peninsula are stone labrets which were inserted into the face below the bottom lip.

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A video released on Friday by the Islamic State shows five children, including one alleged to be Egyptian, carrying out the execution of Kurdish fighters with handguns.

The five children are identified in the video as British, Egyptian, Turkish, Tunisian and Uzbek. Dressed as ISIS fighters, they appear standing behind kneeling prisoners in orange jumpsuits.

“To the Atheist Kurds, what lies between me and you are days that make young men get old,” shouts the child captioned as Abu Al Baraa Al Tunisi (The Tunisian).

“The war with you has not yet begun. And you cannot be saved by America, France, Britain, or Germany … so dig up your graves and prepare your coffins and wait for a fate like that of these men,” the child carries on, before the others raise their guns and shoot the kneeling men in the back of the head.

The children, who seem to be aged 10-12 years, are identified as Abu Ishaq al-Masri (the Egyptian), Abu Abdullah al-Britani (the British), Abu Fu’ad al-Kurdi (the Kurd), Yusuf al-Uzbaki (the Uzbek), and Abu Al Baraa Al Tunisi (The Tunisian).

The 9-minute video is believed to have been recorded in Raqqa in Syria, according to the British Daily Mail, and it shows several mass execution scenes and carries a threatening message from the Islamic State.

pablo-khedr

I usually skip the Facebook memories part till today.

Two years ago my life changed. Two years ago, I traveled, thinking I was a good guy on a quest to help young kids when I discovered that they’re the good kids that helped a lost soul of a 25-year-old Egyptian guy: Me. Two years ago, I used to document this trip under the hashtag ‘lost young souls’ before I discovered that I was the lost young soul.

Two years ago, I was lucky to be part of a group that spent some time in a Syrian refugee camp full of young, amazing, and full of potential Syrian kids in Lebanon. I was not the man I am today; I was a scared, young kid. I was scared of these kids. I was lost. I didn’t know the purpose of my life and I didn’t know if what I am doing was effective or not. I was incapable of acknowledging the blessings surrounding me, I was freaking scared of the unknown, of the future, of that camp. Before traveling I tried to apologize and leave the group not once, nor twice, but three times because I was scared. Little did I know, this camp would change my life.

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I still remember my first day there. When I first entered the camp I was scared of these kids, not knowing if I would even be able to help them with my ‘good guy’ knowledge and love. The moment I entered, all my concerns vanished. I was welcomed by the laughter and smiles of kids jumping around and hugging us. The kids were so open and so courageous. They were capable of love despite everything they had experienced; they were capable of living, loving, and trusting people. They trusted us with both their painful stories and their lovely memories.

I thought my 25-year-long life – with two near death experiences (including falling off a mountain and breaking my back, and two years later getting accidentally electrocuted), the Egyptian revolution, and losing friends over the years – was a hard life. But again, little did I know.

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We stayed in a camp where a daily shower, more than four hours of electricity per day, and fresh water were all luxuries. We were there to talk to them about art, music, sports, human rights, and how they can change the world. We were divided into groups focusing on each of these topics. What started as me and my friend, May, trying to teach them Origami, music, painting, and filmmaking, turned into deep talks about their dreams, aspirations and memories.

One child I met was Wesam. He was so small that I would carry him with one hand and swoop him around as if he was flying. Whenever we talked about what he really loves, his answer would always be kebabs. Another child I met always dreamt of becoming a mechanical engineer like his dad and uncle. Others dreamt of becoming pilots, actors, chefs and more.

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They used to tell us stories about their homes, how they lost members of their families, and how they walked for days to find safety. One would think that because they were kids they didn’t really understand, but I believe they did. After each day with them, we used to go back to our tents to rest, but they never did. They would follow us around, asking us for more stories, more games and more songs. Sleeping was the hardest thing to do with kids shouting and laughing in front of your tent. I used to ask them all the time to leave me to grasp few minutes of sleep but they never listened. But, I am kind of happy now that they never did.

I remember them whispering their dreams into the Origami they made; their very simple dreams. I remember them painting their dreams on pieces of white paper; pieces of paper that turned into books wise old men could not write. We talked about movies and music. We sang together, we played, we ran and we even talked about one of the people I respect the most: Malcolm X.

I spent weeks in this camp learning to appreciate life, laughter, and hardships. I learned to acknowledge all my blessings and to appreciate the things we take for granted: water, electricity, Internet, shelter, family, and the love surrounding us. I even learned to appreciate the sense of time passing by. Spending days in a refugee camp not doing anything but talk to these children you forget the dates. After a few days in that camp I had to check my cellphone to know how many days had passed.

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These kids were more than just refugees, they were even more than just kids, they were mentors, teachers, and life coaches. I owe a lot to them.

Now, I live my life with their faces in my mind; their names, their tears, their laughs, their stories and their hidden pain. Last month I was in Berlin for business and my phone stopped working. I went to have it fixed and I met a man with an Arabic tattoo that read “The Memories Remain”. When I asked him if he spoke Arabic, he told me that he was half German and half Syrian. And that’s when it all hit me again, that’s when it breathed life into all of my memories. He might have had this tattoo because he broke up with his girlfriend, he might have had it for any reason, but for me it was connected to Syria.

On your way back home every day, never forget that there are people full of life and pain living in tents somewhere in the world. They have a lot to give and they will have an impact someday. The memories I made will always remain.

Longest Ancient Etruscan Inscription Reveals Name of Virtually Unknown Goddess

Researchers working in Poggio Colla, a key ancient Etruscan settlement in Italy, have found a 120-character inscription, described as one of the most significant Etruscan discoveries in decades. The ancient script names the goddess Uni. Her name was inscribed on a stone slab that was unearthed recently.

“The discovery indicates that Uni—a divinity of fertility and possibly a mother goddess at this particular place—may have been the titular deity worshipped at the sanctuary of Poggio Colla, a key settlement in Italy for the ancient Etruscan civilization,” says Phys.org.

The stele or stone slab was reportedly part of a temple wall at Poggio Colla. The Phys.org story says many Etruscan artifacts have been found at the settlement, “including a ceramic fragment with the earliest birth scene in European art. That object reinforces the interpretation of a fertility cult at Poggio Colla,” said Gregory Warden, an archaeologist with Southern Methodist University.

The 500-pound (226.8 kg) stele is described in the Phys.org article as possibly the longest Etruscan inscription at 120 “or more” characters.

The painting “Cloelia and Her Companions Escaping from the Etruscans” was done by Frans Wouters in the 17th century.

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Reporting by Mohamed Hamdy

A suspected terror attack in Turkey’s south east killed 11 police officers and injured 78, including three civilians.

The attack was reportedly executed by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) using a truck bomb in the Cizre district of the southeastern province of Şırnak early on 26 August.

According to Turkish media, the truck bomb targeted a police checkpoint which is 50 meters away from a riot police station in the Konak neighborhood located on the Cizre-Şırnak highway.

The explosions caused severe damage to the riot police station and to neighboring buildings. Turkish police forces conducted an operation to quickly apprehend the fleeing executors.

After the attack, Health Minister Recep Akdağ confirmed that 11 police officers had been killed.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the attack, adding that it would only increase his country’s determination to eliminate terrorism.

“The terror attack on the police station will not lead to anything but more determination to fight extremists and terrorists,” said Erdogan.

The attack comes as turmoil between the Government and the PKK, which is considered as a terrorist organization in Turkey, continues.

Deriv; Left, Roman legionnaire reenactor in period gear. Right, Jabbaren rock painting (Via author)

There are thousands of rock engravings at the dramatic rocky landscape of Jabbaren, Algeria. Jabbaren is an archaeological site in the Tassili N`ajjer National Park in Algeria with some of the most important groupings of prehistoric cave art in the world. The Jabbaren site is situated on the lower level of the Tassili plateau, and in the Tamahaq language Jabbaren means “giant”. It is interesting to note that some of the engraved figures from Jabbaren appear to be Roman soldiers. 

Rock Art of the Tassili n`Ajjer, Jabbaren, Algeria.

Rock Art of the Tassili n`Ajjer, Jabbaren, Algeria. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Algerian desert - Tassili National Park.

Algerian desert - Tassili National Park. (CC BY 2.0)

Anthropology researcher and Tassili N’ajjer park director, Malika Hachid has dated many of the rock engravings at Jabbaren to be thousands of years old. They include pictures of cattle and people.

Dancing figures and animals.

Featured in Ripley`s Believe It or Not!

fire extinguisher

MINI BELIEVE IT OR NOT –

Two students from George Mason University invented, and got a patent for, a fire extinguisher that uses sound waves to put out fire.

  • Viet Tran and Seth Robertson were seniors when they had a radical idea for their final project
  • Their invention extinguishes fire using nothing but sound waves
  • Initially, they thought higher frequencies would be better, but they found that bass worked best
  • Their audio fire extinguisher would be a better option than regular extinguishers
  • The extinguisher doesn’t rely on chemicals and wouldn’t cause water damage
  • There’s even an idea to attach it to a drone and using it to fight forest fires

MINI BION

“BIONs” – short for Believe It or Not – is the word we use at Ripley’s to refer to anything that is unbelievable and worthy to become part of Ripley’s lore and collection.

Source: George Mason Students Invent a Soundwave Fire Extinguisher

Featured in Ripley`s Believe It or Not!

Lee-HarveyThumbnail

In This Episode

For over 50 years people have been fascinated with the circumstances and mystery surrounding the assassination of the 35th President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Today we unbox the bedroom set of Lee Harvey Oswald, the man accused of assassinating JFK.

Today: Lee Harvey Oswald’s Bedroom Set


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Ripley’s Lee Harvey Oswald Collection

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was only 46-years-old when on November 22, 1963, he was tragically shot while traveling in a presidential motorcade. Ripley’s has long been fascinated with the Kennedy assassination. Throughout the years we’ve picked up a few interesting items.

We acquired the mortician’s toe tag of Lee Harvey Oswald directly from the Oswald family via Herman Darvick Auctions of New York in 1994. Shown here is the actual identification toe tag signed by the doctor, nurse, and mortician. A lock of Oswald’s hair clipped by the attending nurse is also affixed to the tag. The tag is currently on display at our San Antonio Odditorium.

We also own the machine used to embalm Oswald. We have a Letter of Authenticity for each item by the Funeral Director, Allen Baumgardner, who assisted on Oswald’s embalming.

toe-tag

Lee Harvey Oswald’s morgue toe tag

Medical tools to embalm Oswald

Medical instruments used in the embalming of Lee Harvey Oswald

But Perhaps the Strangest…

One of the strangest items in or collection is the bedroom set of Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald lived in many locations around the Dallas and Irvine Texas areas months leading up to the assassination of JFK. We acquired this bedroom set from the St. Augustine, Florida’s Tragedy in US History Museum after they closed their doors in 1998. The bedroom set has been shelved in our warehouse ever since, never having gone on display – until today.

oswald-bed

Oswald’s bed

We have eight pieces of furniture and five framed papers from the room where Lee Harvey Oswald planned President Kennedy’s assassination.

  • Mattress and box spring (pictured above)
  • Wood slat chair
  • Small end table
  • Dresser with mirror
  • Wire mesh trash can
  • Oil lamp
  • Bed with head and foot boards
  • Blanket with two pillows
  • Vanity dresser

Mary Bledsoe

This bedroom set’s owner is actually Mary Bledsoe, who rented the room to Lee Harvey Oswald for just one week a month and a half before the assassination.

Home of Mary Bledsoe at 621 N Marsalis Avenue in Dallas

Home of Mary Bledsoe at 621 N Marsalis Avenue in Dallas

Mary Bledsoe sitting in the room she rented to Lee Harvey Oswald

Mary Bledsoe sitting in the room she rented to Lee Harvey Oswald

At first Mary, had no issues with her new tenant.

At first he seemed very nice, clean, very neat in the way he kept his room and dressed.

But very quickly her opinion changed.

At this time is When I begin to think he was somewhat unbalanced. He would seclude himself in his room, only coming out to get drinking water from the refrigerator, very nervous, mad he would talk in a foreign language. He would make secret like phone calls, talking in foreign language.

Being an elderly woman in her sixties, she became fearful of her new tenant and asked him to leave. She did not see him again until a month and a half later, on November 22nd…the day of the assassination…stating that he looked excited, nervous and startled.

Read Mary’s Full Affidavit

Mary Bledsoe`s Affidavit

Mary Bledsoe’s Affidavit

The Car that Drove Oswald

Buell Wesley Frazier was Lee Harvey Oswald’s neighbor and close friend. Oswald did not have a driver’s license and regularly had Frazier drive him to work.

On the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, Frazier drove Oswald to the Texas School Book Depository. In the back seat of this car wrapped in papers was the 12 rifle that Oswald used to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. Frazier thought the package contained curtain rods.

Oswald-Car

Stricken with grief and haunted by the memory, Frazier sold the car years later for a mere 10. This car is also on display at the San Antonio Odditorium.

Read Frazier’s Full Affidavit

Buell Wesley Fraizer`s Affidavit

Buell Wesley Fraizer’s Affidavit

The Shot Heard Around the World

Was Oswald working alone? What is all a government cover-up? Was it the Russians, Cubans, or even the C.I.A.?November 22nd will be forever remembered as one of the great tragedies for the American people. The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy by Lee Harvey Oswald was shocking, and conspiracy theories circle this event.

Ripley’s has collected these theories, and other unbelievable facts, figures, and statistics, in our annual, Dare To Look!

Click to open in high-rez

Click to open in high-rez

Source: Unboxing Lee Harvey Oswald & the Kennedy Assassination

Featured in Ripley`s Believe It or Not!

hverabrauð

MINI BELIEVE IT OR NOT –

Hverabrauð, or hot-spring bread, is a traditional Icelandic bread that’s cooked by burying it in a geothermal spring for 24 hours.

  • Another name for Hverabrauð is thunder bread
  • It’s a kind of rye bread, and every Icelandic family has their own recipe
  • The bread is cooked in a greased pot, wrapped in cling wrapped, and buried in the ground around a hot spring
  • The springs reach sustained temperatures of 100° F (37° C) and bake the bread over the course of 24 hours
  • After cooking, thunder bread is served with smoked trout, salmon, herring, or just plain butter

MINI BION

“BIONs” – short for Believe It or Not – is the word we use at Ripley’s to refer to anything that is unbelievable and worthy to become part of Ripley’s lore and collection.

Source: In Iceland, You Can Get Bread Baked in the Ground

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My mother died from Alzheimer’s disease three years ago. While deeply religious, she disapproved of the veil and never veiled. I remember a time when she, defiantly, remained the only unveiled woman in her apartment building.

When my parents moved to that building in the early eighties, few of the women in this five story building were veiled. By the late nineties, my mother was the only unveiled woman there. She received advice and other forms of proselytization from some of the other women in the building and invitations to attend religious lessons. Group religious lessons were the primary way many women in the urban centers of Egypt became veiled.

In her last years, my mother became increasingly confused because of the Alzheimer’s. She’d often start prayers and forget that she had just finished, so she’d start again and go into endless cycles of prayers. At times she became extremely confused, unsure whether she was veiled or not. In her last two years, on the rare occasions when she went out of her apartment, she asked for a veil and I would assure her that she wasn’t veiled. A couple of times I helped her remove it as she smiled. A couple of other times she’d put it on and then mid-journey she’d ask ‘what is this thing on my hair?’

Too many women, less fortunate than my late mother, had no choice and were forced to veil against their own will. The veil in Egypt was imposed socially, but not legally. Few women were able to resist the societal pressure. The state colluded with the societal pressure; even progressive revolutionary unveiled women who confront the government and end up facing legal charges almost always take up the veil in courts. In the last few years, unveiling started, but the vast majority of Egyptian women remain veiled and the pressure to veil remains immense.

Mahienour El Masry in court

Mahienour El Masry in court

What’s interesting about the veil is that it is viewed as an affirmation or a negation of women’s bodies and freedom, depending on the ideas one is holding. Advocates of veiling market the idea that only through modesty can women liberate themselves from being objects of desire and may then be viewed as human beings for their brains and personalities.

Meanwhile, opponents view the veil as the ultimate in objectification and subjugation. Opponents believe veiling treats women’s bodies as mere objects to cover and faults them for arousing desire in men. Veiling also assumes, opponents say, that women can’t have desires of their own and such desires are implicitly denied and suppressed.

As I look to the French ban on veils on the beach I feel conflicted. I’m happy that France is taking an affirmative answer to the objectification of women’s bodies and minds. But I’m also sad that France is fighting ideas, unnatural and deviant as they may be, by force of law. France is descending into an Iran or a Saudi Arabia in an inverse battle over the bodies of women. France would have denied my mother the free will to choose to veil or not.

One argument is that the ideology of violence and terrorism, which France has been suffering from in recent years, is the very same ideology behind the veil. This argument is contrary to the most fundamental of principles of human rights. For people are ultimately only responsible for their own actions. Individual responsibility lies at the very heart of liberty.  A veiled woman on the beach in Nice can’t be held responsible for the violent acts of a veiled woman in a park in Reims.

The French ban disregards another important consideration. Leila Ahmed, in her book A Quiet Revolution, argues that many veiled Muslim women in the USA and in Egypt advance feminist causes in their societies. She argues that women use the veil as shield to allow them to participate in a world full of patriarchy. Had the Olympics not allowed the Egyptian athlete to veil while playing beach volleyball, she simply would not have been allowed to compete and wouldn’t have been allowed to make it to Rio in the first place.

The veil has been a tool of liberation for many women hailing from conservative homes. The French ban does not stop the patriarchy at the homes of these women, but rather adds a new patriarchy in the opposite direction over control of their bodies. The veiled women of France are now being punished by the authorities and are denied the feel of the wind on their faces.

`The cultural layer was eroded by wind and we found the fragment of the cup.

The find of the fragment of the medieval bronze cup - from modern-day Iran - was made by scientists on an expedition to monitor permafrost on the Gydan Peninsula for the first time in a quarter of a century.

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Egyptian Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Khaled Hanafy resigned on Thursday evening amid a probe into corruption in the Ministry.

“The experience has proven that accepting any position is no longer an asset or a picnic, especially as some of the issues raised were personal ones,” said Hanafy after submitting his resignation to the cabinet, reported Aswat Masriya.

In July, a fact-finding commission was established by Egypt’s parliament to investigate reports of corruption in domestic supplies of wheat.

A report issued by the commission last week concluded that up to 200,000 tonnes of wheat had gone “missing” at private storage sites. The commission called on officials, including the Minister, to be held responsible and contacted the Attorney-General.

It is estimated that the amount of corruption measures up to EGP 1 billion. Egypt’s prosecution believes that the 220,000 tonnes which were meant to be bought from local farmers was never actually purchased. Instead, ministerial officials are alleged to have taken the cash for themselves, falsely reporting that the purchases were made.

Reacting to the resignation, Egypt’s Prime Minister appointed Tarek Kabil as a temporary Minister of Supply and Internal Trade.

 

Part of a panel from a version of the Book of the Dead. Photo: Dalya Alberge

Part of a panel from a version of the Book of the Dead. Photo: Dalya Alberge

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs have been published in modern English for the first time in a book by a Cambridge academic who translated ancient texts found on papyri and rock faces.

The book was published on Wednesday by Penguin Classics, which described it as a “groundbreaking publication.”

“These writings have never before been published together in an accessible collection,” The Guardian quoted the publishing house as saying.

Speaking to The Guardian, Toby Wilkinson, the academic behind the book, said he started working on ancient Egyptian texts because “there was a missing dimension in how ancient Egypt was viewed.”

Because hieroglyphs depend on pictures and symbols, and very few experts and specialists have been able to read it, the writing tradition that lasted almost 3500 has remained inaccessible and largely overlooked.

“What will surprise people are the insights behind the well-known facade of ancient Egypt, behind the image that everyone has of the pharaohs, Tutankhamun’s mask and the pyramids,” Wilkinson told the Guardian, adding that the ancient writings have been treated for long as “a mere decoration” or “artifacts” rather than texts.

The task was challenging for the author, who pointed out that the rich Egyptian language is not easy to express in English.

“Take, for example, the words ‘aa’ and ‘wer’, both conventionally translated as ‘great’. The Egyptians seem to have understood a distinction – hence a god is often described as ‘aa’ but seldom as ‘wer’ – but it is beyond our grasp,” Wilkinson explained.

The book gathers literary fiction texts such as “The Tale of the Shipwrecked Sailor” telling the story of a magical island, letters that date from 1930 BC and official inscriptions that record a “cataclysmic thunderstorm.”

“I was here with my brothers and my children … we totaled 75 snakes … Then a star fell and they were consumed in flames … If you are brave and your heart is strong, you will embrace your children, you will kiss your wife and you will see your house,” the tale reads.

malekadly-e1465671935693

South Benha Criminal Court ordered the release of rights lawyer Malek Adly after he spent 130 days behind bars.

The prosecution responded by appealing the court’s decision to release the prominent lawyer.

Adly had filed a complaint against the handover of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia after gathering thousands of petitions.

He was later arrested over charges of “spreading rumors that would disrupt public security” and “harming national unity,” among other charges, and was not released.

Adly’s lawyer, Mokhtar Mounir, told Egyptian Streets that he expects authorities will hinder the process of his release.

Adly had spent the entirety of his detainment period in solitary confinement.

This story is developing.

islamchristian_s640x427

Non-profit organization Coptic Solidarity has filed formal complaints with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIFA alleging that Coptic Christian athletes in Egypt face “systematic religious discrimination.”

Coptic Solidarity is “a non-profit organization supporting those in Egypt working for upholding values of freedom and equality, and the protection of the fundamental rights of all Egyptian citizens.”

According to a press release from the organization, numerous Coptic athletes have submitted complaints regarding their “exclusion” from Egyptian sports, including football, which is Egypt’s most popular and most widely-followed sport.

“Despite successfully passing all selection stages, these athletes have been excluded from national and international competition for no reason other than their religious background,” the press release reads.

The organization goes on to say that Egypt’s Olympic Mission to the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and the 2012 Olympics in London did not include any Copts, while Copts have also been excluded from holding coach and trainer positions in any clubs in the country’s premier league.

As a result of these circumstances, which Coptic Solidarity maintains cannot be a statistical anomaly and is instead the result of “deep-rooted discrimination” in Egyptian society, the organization has called on the IOC and FIFA to urgently send investigative committees to Egypt to look into this matter.

“The infusion of religious bigotry into sports has become all too pervasive in Egypt, and is undermining the very meaning of sportsmanship. The shameful action of Egypt’s judoka, Islam El Shehaby in refusing to shake hands with his Israeli counterpart at the 2016 Olympic Games was condemned worldwide, yet in Egypt celebrated as a contrived religious victory,” the statement reads. “Religious intolerance and discrimination are contrary to the values and principles upon which the Olympics and FIFA were founded.”

Coptic Christians comprise approximately 16 percent of Egypt’s overall population but many feel that the Christian community is often marginalized from public life. Sectarian tension between Muslims and Christians has also been rife over the past decade, with Muslims often instigating violence against Christians, particularly in rural areas of the country.

Ring of Brodgar, a Neolithic stone circle and henge monument, with the Loch of Harray in the background. Detail: Aerial view of the newly-uncovered structure.

A mysterious Stone Age building has been unearthed at the Ness of Brodgar in Orkney, Scotland. Researchers discovered it while excavating a Neolithic midden (rubbish dump.) It is located near one of Scotland`s most famous rings of standing stones – the Ring of Brodgar.

According to The Herald Scotland, the site contains a Stone Age temple, and the discovery of the structure helped to re-date the location.

While digging at the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney, the researchers found the layout of a series of slabs which are unlike anything previously found on the island. The structure is 4 meters (13 ft.) long and it was unearthed amongst the remains of Neolithic rubbish.

Aerial view of the structure.

Aerial view of the structure. (James Robertson/Orkneyskycam.co.uk)

The walls of the construction are 10 meters (33 ft.) wide and the researchers say that the structure is about 5,000 years old. They speculate that the building was covered over by the huge midden, but it could possibly be a chambered tomb. The researchers also found human remains – a human arm bone.

Eighth Priestess and Precious Grave Goods Unearthed in Famous San Jose de Moro Tomb

The remains of a Moche priestess have been unearthed at the famous tomb site of San Jose de Moro in Northwestern Peru. She is the fifth Moche priestess to be found at the site (an additional three priestesses belonging to the Transitional Period have also been discovered there). This has led to an increase in the interest surrounding the Moche culture. The priestess had been buried wearing an elaborate headdress and necklace, along with precious grave goods including a ceremonial knife and silver goblet.

The Moche period priestesses have been previously discussed in "Performance and Power"; this article intends to examine the later priestesses from San Jose de Moro (dating from the Transitional period) in relation to the most recent Moche finding.

The newest Moche priestess was once again discovered by Luis Castillo, one of the primary investigators responsible for the original priestess findings in 1992-3. As this new tomb possessed symbols of the high-status of the priestess as well as human burials, it was not difficult to recognize the tomb for what it was meant to express—the power and prestige of one of the final priestesses of the Moche Empire.

Representation of a Moche priestess.

Representation of a Moche priestess. (cinabrio blog)

Featured in Ripley`s Believe It or Not!

Ruby Roman Grapes

MINI BELIEVE IT OR NOT –

Ruby Roman grapes grown only in Ishikawa, Japan are the most expensive grapes in the world with a bunch going for over 11,000.

  • The grapes are grown and marketed entirely in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan
  • They’re red in color and about the size of a ping-pong ball
  • There are strict rules a grape must adhere to before it can be called a Ruby Roman:
    • Each grape must be over 20g
    • Its sugar content must exceed 18%
    • Each grape should resemble a cherry tomato-red color
  • In July, 2016, a bunch of 30 Ruby Roman grapes sold for £8,350 (11,053.73)

MINI BION

“BIONs” – short for Believe It or Not – is the word we use at Ripley’s to refer to anything that is unbelievable and worthy to become part of Ripley’s lore and collection.

Source: A Bunch of Ruby Roman Grapes can Cost More Than 11,000

Featured in Ripley`s Believe It or Not!

vulture bees

MINI BELIEVE IT OR NOT –

Vulture bees are the only bees that don’t eat pollen or nectar; they survive on rotting flesh.

  • Vulture bees are a subspecies of bee in the Trigona genus
  • Trigona bees are the largest genus of stingless bees
  • They don’t like fully rotten meat, but prefer something a little fresher
  • Like flies, they eat by regurgitating saliva and a honey-like substance onto the food and then lap it up

 

MINI BION

“BIONs” – short for Believe It or Not – is the word we use at Ripley’s to refer to anything that is unbelievable and worthy to become part of Ripley’s lore and collection.

Source: Vulture Bees are the Only Bees That Eat Rotting Meat

Featured in Ripley`s Believe It or Not!

La Paz, Bolivia

MINI BELIEVE IT OR NOT –

In June of 2014, the government of La Paz, Bolivia ordered that the numbers on the clock on the congress building be reversed.

  • The hands turn to the left, and the numbers were inverted
  • Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca dubbed it the “clock of the south”
  • The clock was made to show Bolivian people that it’s good to be creative and question norms
  • The government has said that they will not require everyone in Bolivia to change their clocks

MINI BION

“BIONs” – short for Believe It or Not – is the word we use at Ripley’s to refer to anything that is unbelievable and worthy to become part of Ripley’s lore and collection.

Source: In 2014, the Clock in La Paz, Bolivia Started Running Backwards

Featured in Ripley`s Believe It or Not!

Dianthus Flower

MINI BELIEVE IT OR NOT –

In the same way that the word orange described a fruit before a color, the color pink got its name from the Dianthus flower. 

  • Dianthus isn’t actually a single flower but a genus of about 300 species
  • The flower is native to Europe and Asia, but it can be found in North Africa too
  • In the 16th Century, the Dianthus Plumarius was commonly referred to as a pink
  • The verb “to pink” dates back to the 14th century and means “to decorate with a perforated pattern”
  • The color pink got its name not simply because the flowers are pink, but because the edges of their petals are “pinked”

MINI BION

“BIONs” – short for Believe It or Not – is the word we use at Ripley’s to refer to anything that is unbelievable and worthy to become part of Ripley’s lore and collection.

Source: The Color Pink is Named After the Dianthus Flower

A supporter of President Sisi waves a of portrait of him as protesters gather outside the Journalists` Syndicate headquarters in Cairo on May 4, 2016. (Photo/AFP)

A supporter of President Sisi waves a of portrait of him as protesters gather outside the Journalists’ Syndicate headquarters in Cairo on May 4, 2016. (Photo/AFP)

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi will run for a second presidential term in 2018 if the Egyptian people want him to, he announced on his official Facebook page on Tuesday.

“I can never not respond to the will of Egyptians. I’m under the will of the Egyptian people, and if it is their will that I run for presidency again, I will,” the president declared.

Sisi won Egypt’s presidential elections in 2014 in a landslide victory, reaping 96 percent of the valid votes, after leading the popularly-backed military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi one year prior.

He is currently two years into a four-year term and can be reelected for another term, according to the Egyptian constitution.

Although the general-turned-president ascended to the presidency amid widespread public support, Sisi’s popularity has since waned, particularly in the wake of a series of incidents of police abuse and the arrest of several activists, human rights defenders, literary figures and other critics of the regime over the past several months.

Anticipation surrounding the 2018 elections began to mount after Egyptian space scientist and former presidential advisor for scientific affairs Essam Heggy announced his initiative for a presidential program in July, with further details to be announced.

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In Egypt, presidents last until further notice. They tend to stay in power beyond their tenure, as if they have an instinct for it.

In an attempt to initiate an era of democracy, by embracing a multi-party system under civilian rule and with no army intervention, the first Egyptian President, Mohamed Naguib (1953-1954), was overthrown by a coup d’état. Accordingly, Egypt’s first democratic thinking president, who could have paved a distinct path, ruled for no more than a year. Naguib was later confined to an isolated house until 1972, when Egypt’s third president, Anwar El Sadat, freed him.

With Naguib out of the picture came Gamal Abdel Nasser who governed the country for 14 years, exhausting everything in his power to establish an absolute system of one-man rule. He announced a new constitution, which allowed him to appoint and dismiss officials under a single party presidential system. He was nominated as both president and prime minister. And he was warranted authority to dissolve the People’s Assembly. Following Egypt’s scandalous defeat against Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967, Nasser stepped down to the dismay of the people chanting his name in the streets and begging him to stay. Returning to power, Nasser remained as President until his death on 28 September 1970.

Egyptian Presidents’ tendency to hold on to their chairs carried on with El Sadat’s 11-year rule, and Hosni Mubarak’s lion share of 30 years in power. Each president would replace his predecessor without fair or monitored elections; and the Egyptian people largely remained silent.

This political conundrum is not a unique experience in Egypt. On the top of the list, for instance, is the world’s longest serving leader, President Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. President Mbasogo has been in office for 36 years.

We, as in any pro-democracy person, do not want to experience this anymore.

Egypt’s current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi managed to jump on top through a so-called “revolution.” However, promises of a better Egypt have not been fulfilled. Moreover, our lie detector tool, time, has already proven the president wrong.

Presidential decisions and actions, such the declaring  of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir as Saudi Arabian without the consent of neither the Parliament nor the Egyptian people, the rapid increase in prices, and the case of Giulio Regeni call for an elaborate explanation. Promised laws that would combat police brutality and protect the rights of the press remain unfulfilled, while thousands of detainees remain behind bars. The dilemma of the Ethiopian Dam and the country’s economic deterioration are yet to be resolved. The democratic dream, envisioning freedom of expression, independence of the judiciary and devolution of power, seems to have been smashed. No one would doubt this. But we feel so apprehensive to speak up.

On the 8th of June 2014, Sisi was officially sworn as Egypt’s 6th president. For two years, he has been promising the public a bright-unseen future. But nothing much has been done so far.

It is not merely his authoritative power that is keeping Sisi from failing but more remarkably, the votes he controls and the minds he manipulates. The issue here is that he could stick to the position he fought for; he could request or order a constitutional amendment after his term is over and he could very well remain in office until God knows when.

In a typical democratic atmosphere, after two terms, the ruler should pass on his place to another. But in our case, I am afraid that this will not happen. Even if he pulled out, the successor would probably be another military official: A different person with the same underlying ideology.

Who can stop this from happening? We can.

A very serious matter that I have noticed in this unbalanced period of power between the people and the leadership was that at the end of the day, we are not really afraid of anything. We simply do not speak up unless guns are pointed straight to our own heads.

The Doctors Syndicate only revolted when clashes took off between some doctors and the police. The Journalists Syndicate started a strike when two journalists were arrested for the first time in Egyptian history from inside the Syndicate’s headquarters. The Thanaweya Amma students marched onto the streets when their exam dates were changed. Every one of us lives peacefully unless something affects us directly; only then do we start to act. We are not so terrified, but we need to stand up a little bit for each other.

The people are why revolutions succeeded and why coups fail. Why do presidents last beyond their expiration dates? Because we let them.

pablo (89)

Cairo International Airport has received the ISO 9001/2008 quality management system standard certification, Aswat Masriya reported, quoting an announcement by the Cairo Airport Company.

The International Swiss Company SGS granted the certification after a critical assessment of the airport’s performance in accordance with international requirements and standards.

“Such a testimony puts the airport in a global classification that fits the Egyptian state and its geographical distribution and position in the Middle East,” Aswat Masriya quoted Ashraf al-Zuhairi, Director-General of the International Certification Company SGS, as saying.

Mohamed Saeed, Chairman of Cairo Airport Company, said there will be a final review of the “environment” and “occupational safety and health” systems in accordance with the standards and international measurements of the ISO in the coming period, followed by an assessment of these systems within the company to qualify for the ISO certificates in both systems.

“These steps will achieve the main goal of the company by receiving international certificates of conformity in the integrated quality, environment and occupational health and safety management systems in accordance with international standards,” Saeed said.

Egypt’s airports have been under close scrutiny over the past year as a string of aviation incidents, including the downing of a Russian passenger plane over Sinai and the hijacking of an internal EgyptAir flight, cast doubt on security measures and the management of the country’s airports.

The government has been working in recent months to restore confidence in Egypt’s airports by reviewing security measures in airports across the country.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaking at a press conference. (i24 News)

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaking at a press conference. (i24 News)

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said he would issue pardons for more than 300 detainees within the upcoming days, local newspapers reported Tuesday.

In an interview with the country’s three main state-owned newspapers – Al Ahram, Al Akhbar and Al Gomhoureya – that the list of pardons includes prisoners “with medical conditions and youth who participated in protests.”

The pardons, which will coincide with the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha, would also include a number of journalists, according to the president.

Sisi issued a presidential decree during the same time last year pardoning 100 prisoners, including Al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, as well as activists who had been arrested for violating the protest law.

“There are no political prisoners in Egypt, there are only people who are held in custody pending investigations,” Sisi said.

“Only those who carry out violent acts against the state, such as terrorism and bombings, get detained,” he added.

The president said that in the “presence of a faction that fights the state and the people,” the risk of the collapse of security institutions becomes greater than the human rights abuses that may occur.

“We’re more keen on human rights and freedoms in our country than those who talk about it abroad,” he said.

Egypt’s human rights record has been facing wide national and international criticism during the past three years.

“Egyptian authorities are using national security threats to crush dissent among Egypt’s youth,” Nadim Houry, the deputy Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, said last May.

“This is a policy of insecurity, not security, leaving young people unable to find the smallest space for peaceful dissent that won’t land them in jail,” Houry added.

Egyptian authorities have led a crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood leaders and supporters, as well as political activists, who have often found themselves behind bars or facing court cases.

After the military ouster of then-president Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against his rule, Egypt listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization and insists it is behind the wave of militancy that has targeted security personnel since July 2013. The Brotherhood continuously denies the accusations.

Content from Aswat Masriya, edited by Egyptian Streets

Crusader Hand Grenade and Bronze Knife Among Archaeological Treasures Retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea

A treasure trove of priceless artifacts, the earliest of which are 3,500 years old, were recently turned over to the state of Israel by a family that inherited them from their father who passed away.

One of the most striking gems the family had hung onto is a beautifully decorated hand grenade, of a type commonly used during the Crusader, Ayyubid and Mamluk periods.

Hand grenades filled with Greek fire (burning naphta) was a Byzantine invention that spread to the Muslim armies in the Near East.

They were filled with Greek fire and sealed so that all a soldier needed to do was throw the grenade toward the enemy to eliminate him. Characteristics that made it singular include its ability to burn on water and stick onto surfaces, extinguishable with sand, vinegar, or–bizarrely–old urine. Some historians believe it could be ignited using water.

Although the technology has changed over the centuries, the concept remains that all the soldier need to do was to hurl the grenade toward the enemy and it´s disseminate burning naphtha at impact. The hand grenades we have now are a direct descendent of these contraptions; we’ve just updated the concept by using explosives instead.

An Israel Antiquities Authority employee examining the finds.

An Israel Antiquities Authority employee examining the finds. Photographic credit: Amir Gorzalczany, Israel Antiquities Authority.

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