Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Afghan gold: How this country's heritage was saved

A remarkable tale of human ingenuity and bravery lies behind an exhibition of treasures from Afghanistan that opens at the British Museum this week.

In 17 many years of war after the 1989 Soviet withdrawal, and 5 many years of Taliban rule, the majority of the Afghan national museum's riches have been looted and some have been deliberately destroyed.

However the most important objects survived, in a vault deep beneath the presidential palace, thanks to 5 men - amongst them museum director Omar Khan Massoudi.

"He stored his nerve through the Taliban's rule of Afghanistan and displayed tremendous courage in not submitting to their demands and threats to reveal its place," says British Afghan specialist and member of parliament Rory Stewart.

"It was an act of extraordinary courage and he done a fantastic service to his region."

The Kabul national museum is positioned a couple of kilometres south with the funds, in a location that repeatedly altered hands as mujahideen militias vied for affect within the early 1990s.

Every time it had been used, the museum was looted once again. From the approximated one hundred,000 object on display in 1979, some 70% had gone by the mid-1990s.

A rocket destroyed a 4th Century wall painting in 1993. Priceless merchandise, some looted to order, altered hands about the global artwork marketplace. Other individuals have been buried in rubble or burned as firewood.

However the legendary Bactrian gold - which professionals feared had been stolen and melted down - had in reality been packed up, together with several important objects from your collection, and moved to a Central Bank vault within the Presidential Palace in 1989.

Mr Massoudi was among 5 men who had keys for the vault. All 5 keys have been essential to open it - and every with the men risked their lives not to hand them over for the militants.

The holders with the keys stored their places top secret - if a important holder died, it had been agreed, the main element could be passed on for the keeper's eldest kid.

In that way, the priceless artefacts have been preserved.

"Mr Massoudi and his employees are unquestionably unsung heroes," says exhibition venture curator Constance Wyndham.

"Without his initiative its very unlikely this great collection could be about nowadays."

Ms Wyndham says the Soviet-backed President Mohammad Najibullah, whose federal government fell in 1992, also played a part, however it remains unclear exactly how closely he was concerned.

"All that we do know is the fact that the selection was created by a committee and President Najibullah ordered the objects to get moved for the presidential palace," she explained.

Right after the ingenuity with the rescue arrived the bravery which was necessary to help keep the hoard secure.

Mr Massoudi and his employees have within the intervening many years remained modest - and relatively reticent - about their achievement.

But his feedback within the museum's guidebook give some idea with the hazards of retaining the treasure secure from "terror, violence, civil war as well as the Taliban".

Regardless of currently being subjected to different threats by the Taliban - usually at gunpoint - individuals who realized with the top secret place gave absolutely nothing absent.

It was not until finally 2003 the retailer of 22,000 gold and glass objects have been exposed.

"Today together with the grace of Allah Almighty, we've got succeeded in seeing the central treasure of Afghanistan," President Hamid Karzai declared.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Chelsea's Torres wants goal against 'pool

Chelsea's new £50m signing Fernando Torres has said it could be "destiny" to score against former club Liverpool when the teams meet on Sunday.

By coincidence, the Spaniard could make his debut for the Blues against the side he left on Monday.

The 26-year-old striker has not asked to be left out of the Premier League clash and stated: "It is like destiny."

He admitted: "It just isn't best but if I have the chance to play, I will do my finest and hopefully I can score."

Torres' departure from Anfield, where he spent the very best part of four years, was greeted with anger by quite a few fans, some of whom burnt replica shirts bearing their former hero's name.

But the player stressed: "I only have good words about Liverpool. They made me a top player and gave me the chance to play at the top level.

"I will never say anything poor about Liverpool. I have been extremely happy there but now the history is distinct and I am playing for Chelsea."

Torres, who scored 81 goals during his spell on Merseyside, risked further annoying fans of his former club when he told Chelsea TV: "I am joining a team which is at the top level. There is not yet another level after Chelsea.

"I am joining with massive names like [John] Terry, [Frank] Lampard, [Didier] Drogba and [Nicolas] Anelka and I may be part of this wonderful team."

Torres admitted he had not yet met up with the Blues manager Carlo Ancelotti but said: "I wanted to join simply because Chelsea always have shown a massive respect for me.

"They truly want me and it really is crucial whenever you have the support of the people within the club, along with the support of the fans who always showed respect to me when I came to Stamford Bridge and at Anfield.

"Now I am extremely happy to be a Chelsea player."

Fans of the Stamford Bridge outfit will be relieved not to have Torres lining up against them for once, after he proved to be a thorn in their side with seven goals against them although playing for Liverpool.

The striker added: "I have good memories and poor memories of games against Chelsea. All of the goals are good memories simply because all of them are unique.

"If they are happy also simply because I am not going to score any much more against them then it really is good."


Saturday, 15 January 2011

US President Barack Obama has said he will ease polices on US citizens travelling to Cuba.

The president stated he had instructed the pertinent federal government departments to permit religious groups and students to travel in direction of the communist-run island.

President Obama stated he believed the brand new, more peaceful, rules which also make it less difficult to deliver remittances to Cuba will help civil society there.

The changes will not finish the decades-old US trade embargo.

The rules will be modified to, among other issues:

* Enable religious organisation to sponsor religious travel to Cuba below a widespread licence
* Enable accredited institutions of increased schooling to sponsor travel to Cuba
* Enable any US person to deliver remittances (as much as $500 per quarter) to non-family members in Cuba to help personal financial activity
* Enable remittances to become sent to religious institutions in Cuba in help of religious routines
* Enable US airports to utilize to supply companies to licensed charters

'Improved contact'

In a very assertion, President Obama stated the changes had been aimed at creating "people-to-people" contacts through more academic, cultural and religious exchanges.

The moves follows an easing from the trade embargo in April 2009, once the president ordered curbs on remittances and travel by Cuban-Americans visiting family members members members on the island to become peaceful.

But Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen stated the changes would not help improve the situation in Cuba.

"They will not make the Castro regime show respect for human rights, plus they certainly will not help the Cuban people free themselves from your despotic tyranny which oppresses them," she stated. see also

The changes are expected to arrive into force in roughly 3 weeks.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Room tourism jet perform carries on

The European venture to create a room jet for fare-paying passengers is still really much alive, says EADS Astrium.
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The aircraft, which would make quick hops above the atmosphere, was introduced in 2007 and then almost immediately set on maintain because of the world-wide downturn.

But Astrium, Europe's greatest room business, says internal development function continues and it is going to spend a further 10m euros (£9m) on the principle in 2011.

"We preserve the investment going," explained Astrium CEO Fran├žois Auque.

"We continue to mature the principle, maintaining the minimal crew, in order that when we come across the appropriate partnership we are prepared and also have progressed sufficiently," he instructed reporters on Wednesday with the company's rocket production facility at Les Mureaux just north of Paris.

The Astrium motor vehicle will be about the size of a enterprise jet and would get off from a common runway, utilizing standard aircraft engines to climb to about 12km. It would then ignite a liquid oxygen-methane rocket to push the motor vehicle to about 100km.

At this altitude, the 5 passengers onboard could experience a few minutes of weightlessness ahead of strapping themselves back in their seats for that return flight to the floor.

Astrium has done substantial function by now on the Romeo rocket engine that might electrical power the climb to room, and wind tunnel testing has proven the aerodynamic form.

What is presently lacking will be the investment of a spouse that might move the venture from principle to manufacturing.

"As you realize, we had discussions within the Gulf ahead of there was a alter within the fiscal situation. Now we've other discussions in other areas of your planet and I'm really optimistic," explained Mr Auque.

Far more innovative is British billionaire Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic venture. This will use an American rocket aircraft produced by California's Scaled Composites business to deliver fare-paying passengers on sub-orbital trips.

Enterprise, as this rocket aircraft is acknowledged, is by now constructed and conducting glide exams. It is expected Enterprise will fire its rocket motor and make demonstration flights above the atmosphere later this 12 months.

Mr Auque was speaking with the annual New Year press conference of your European Aeronautic Defence and Room (EADS) group. Furthermore to possessing the Astrium satellite and rocket concern, EADS also owns the airline manufacturer Airbus.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Arizona shooting suspect arrested

US authorities have charged a 22-year-old guy more than Saturday's Arizona shooting by which a congresswoman was significantly wounded and six folks died.

Federal prosecutors charged Jared Loughner with seeking to assassinate Gabrielle Giffords, forty, and killing two other federal government officials.

Mr Loughner, who is resulting from seem in court, could encounter the death penalty.

Ms Giffords is inside a essential situation after currently being shot from the head at a public meeting in Tucson.

She had been holding an open-invitation meeting with constituents exterior a supermarket when a guy holding a gun approached and opened fire.

She was shot from near variety by the gunman, who then began shooting in to the crowd.

Among the dead were a nine-year-old lady and also a federal judge. A complete of 14 folks were injured, additionally to your six who were killed.

Local Sheriff Clarence Dupnik stated a woman tackled the gunman as he experimented with to reload, snatching a magazine of bullets.

Patricia Maisch, who was waiting to have her photograph taken with all the congresswoman, grabbed the bottom from the suspect's weapon to prevent him from reloading.

He managed to reload with an additional magazine, but the gun malfunctioned and two guys then restrained him.

"Somebody stated 'Get the magazine!' so I acquired the magazine, and I was capable to safe that," Ms Maisch stated. "That's what essential to become performed."

The sheriff stated they'd prevented a considerably larger tragedy.

Police browsing Mr Loughner's Tucson residence stated they'd found an envelope with messages saying "I planned ahead", "my assassination", along with the name Giffords.

So far, Mr Loughner has long been charged only with offences relating to your attack on federal government employees, which is the duty of federal prosecutors.

They charged him with two counts of first-degree murder for your killings of Federal Judge John Roll and Gabe Zimmerman, an aide of Ms Giffords.

He was also charged with attempted assassination more than the shooting of Ms Giffords, and two counts of trying to murder two other aides.

The justice division stated he would seem in court in Phoenix on Monday.

State authorities are anticipated to deliver expenses towards him later for attacking non-government employees.

An unidentified guy, whose image was captured on the security digital camera shortly prior to the attack and who had been suspected of acting as an accomplice, was cleared on Sunday of any involvement from the attack, Mr Dupnik stated.

The guy was a cab driver who walked in to the supermarket with Mr Loughner simply because he did not have adjust for any $20 note. The shooting occurred just after the two exchanged funds, Mr Dupnik extra.