One law for Bahraini royals, another law for non-royal women


This video is called Government of Bahrain torturing detained in prison until death.

In Bahrain, there is one law for the royal family, and quite another law for commoners.

From eTurboNews:

Bahraini prince arrested for being drunk and disorderly on BA flight

July 29, 2012

So much for Ramadan… A drunk Arab prince was threatened with 50,000-volt Tasers by gun cops after trying to storm the flight deck of a British Airways jet.

The billionaire, 28 — who was sozzled by 10am — had jumped up from his £2,700 First Class seat to complain to the captain about “poor” service before the Boeing 777 took off from Heathrow to Bahrain.

Crew members called armed cops, who pointed stun guns at the prince after he refused to calm down.

The royal — said to be a close relative of Bahrain’s King Hamed bin Isa Al Khalifa — was hauled off Flight BA125 and taken to the West London airport’s police station. The prince had his DNA, mugshot and fingerprints taken before being released on bail.

A passenger said: “We were terrified when the armed police came on and started pointing Tasers at him.”

A BA spokesman confirmed a customer “was off-loaded from the London to Bahrain service” and appeared to be “intoxicated”. Scotland Yard said a man was arrested on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly.

From Digital Journal:

The consumption of alcohol is allowed in Bahrain, but only for non-Muslims. In 2010 the Shura Council approved a ban on all Muslims drinking alcohol in the tiny Gulf state. Under Bahraini law the penalty for a Muslim drinking alcohol is a three-year jail sentence. However, Gulf royals often flout the Islamic rules they impose on their subjects, indulging in alcohol and other prohibited activities.

Now, about non-royals.

From International Business Times:

Bahrain: Woman Charged With Smoking in the Day During Ramadan

By Ludovica Iaccino

July 9, 2014 14:39 BST

A woman has been charged with insulting Ramadan as she smoked a cigarette during daylight hours while she was being questioned at Bahrain International Airport.

According to Gulf Daily News, the 32-year-old Egyptian woman, whose name was not disclosed, was stopped by the airport’s officers who wanted to search her luggage.

As she refused, the officers escorted her to the lieutenant’s office for questioning.

The woman allegedly insulted the lieutenant, knocked off his hat and then smoked a cigarette.

“I had a cigarette as I was not fasting because I was travelling,” the woman said in her statement to prosecutors.

“I needed to travel back to my home country for Ramadan and I was late to board my flight.

“I accidentally knocked off the policeman’s hat because I was waving my hands around trying to explain to him that I was late for my flight and that’s why I did not want a thorough examination of my luggage.”

As well as smoking a cigarette during daylight hours, the woman was also charged with insulting a police officer.

She was released on 500 Bahrain dinar (£775; $1326) bail by the Lower Criminal Court.

The trial was adjourned until 14 July.

Nabeel Rajab: ‘Bahrain Has Turned into Dictatorship Kingdom‘.

Britain: Home Office Poised to Deport Bahraini Teen Isa Haider Alaali Despite Torture and Imprisonment Risk.

Bahrain Strengthens Punishment for Insulting King Hamad: here.

A visiting American government official was ordered to leave Bahrain immediately after he met with a few prominent Shi’ite opposition leaders earlier this week: here.

Bahrain should immediately drop charges against two prominent opposition members for meeting with a US diplomat on July 6, 2014. Bahrain should repeal the law that bars leaders of political societies from meeting with foreign diplomats without government permission: here.

Amnesty International issued the following Urgent Action yesterday on behalf of Dr. Sa’eed Mothaher Habib Al-Samahiji, who is to serve a one-year sentence for “publicly insulting the King of Bahrain”. Dr. Sa’eed Al-Samahiji is a prisoner of conscience and jailed solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression: here.

Bahrain: Deteriorating Human Rights Situation: here.

Bahrain’s recent expulsion of a U.S. State Department official after visiting with a Shiite opposition leader was the result of pressure from Saudi Arabia, indicating relations between the U.S. and Riyadh are further deteriorating: here.

English PEN has joined a coalition of 29 NGOs to call on the newly appointed Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to reassess the Foreign Office position on Bahrain as a matter of urgency. Read the full text of the letter here.

Ancient sarcophagus discovery in Luxor, Egypt


This video is about sarcophaguses and coffins in ancient Egypt.

From Ahram Online in Egypt:

Rare wooden anthropoid sarcophagus discovered in Luxor

A 17th dynasty painted sarcophagus belonging to a top governmental official was unearthed at Draa Abul-Naga necropolis on Luxor‘s west bank

Nevine El-Aref, Thursday 13 Feb 2014

A Spanish-Egyptian archeological team working on Luxor’s west bank has discovered a rare wooden human-shaped sarcophagus from the 17th dynasty.

The find came during routine excavation work at the tomb of Djehuty, treasure holder for Queen Hatshepsut, at Dra Abul-Naga necropolis.

The sarcophagus is important for the detailed depictions of bird feather shapes and sizes painted on its lid, motifs that have earned it the title of Feathers Sarcophagus, according to Egypt’s antiquities minister Mohamed Ibrahim.

The 2 metre long, 42 cm tall sarcophagus is in very good condition, Ibrahim said, and also engraved with titles of the deceased, which archeologists have not yet been able to identify.

Studies reveal that the sarcophagus belongs to a top governmental official from the 17th dynasty, whose mummy was enclosed inside, said Ibrahim.

The archeological team found two other burials at the site, which were both empty. It is believed that they were robbed in antiquity.

The Spanish mission began excavation work at Djehuty’s tomb 13 years ago, when many artefacts from New Kingdom dynasties were found.

Last year the team unearthed a sarcophagus of a 17th dynasty child, along with a number of clay pots and ushabti figurines wrapped in linen.

Excavation at the site remains in full swing, said Gose Galan, head of the Spanish team.

Archaeologists working in the western desert of Egypt have discovered a school dating back about 1,700 years that contains ancient Greek writings on its walls, including a text about ancient drug use that references Homer’s “The Odyssey”: here.

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Egyptian fossil relatives of Madagascar bats discovered


This video from the USA says about itself:

26 Sep 2012

Dr. Nancy Simmons specializes in the morphology and evolutionary biology of bats (Chiroptera). Together with several collaborators, she is developing a data set of morphological characters scored in species representing all major clades of bats. These data include new information gained from high-resolution CT scans of rare bats and are being combined with DNA sequence data to develop a robust higher-level phylogeny for Chiroptera.

With collaborators, she is doing an in-depth study of the evolution of megabats — flying foxes and their relatives — using both molecular and morphological data. Dr. Simmons is also working with an expert on echolocation behavior to develop a method for coding features of echolocation calls for phylogenetic analysis.

From the American Museum of Natural History in the USA:

Sucker-Footed Bat Fossils Broaden the Bat Map

by AMNH on 02/04/2014 05:00 pm

Today, Madagascar sucker-footed bats are found only on their island home, but new research from the American Museum of Natural History and Duke University shows that wasn’t always the case. The discovery of two extinct relatives in northern Egypt suggests the unusual creatures, which evolved sticky footpads to roost on slick surfaces, are primitive members of a group of bats that evolved in Africa and ultimately went on to flourish in South America.

A team of researchers described the two bat species from several sets of fossilized jawbones and teeth unearthed in the Sahara. The findings, reported on February 4 in the journal PLOS ONE, represent the first formal description of the family in the fossil record and show the sucker-footed bat family to be at least 36 million years older than previously known.

“We’ve assumed for a long time that they were an ancient lineage based on DNA sequence studies that have placed them close to very old groups in the bat family tree,” said Nancy Simmons, co-author on the study and a curator in the Department of Mammalogy.

But until now, scientists lacked any fossil evidence to confirm it.

Today, the sucker-footed bats consist of two species, Myzopoda aurita (see images of these bats here) and M. schliemanni, endemic to Madagascar. In contrast to almost all other bats, they don’t cling upside-down to cave ceilings or branches. Sucker-footed bats roost head-up, often in the furled leaves of the traveler’s palm, a plant in the bird-of-paradise family. To stick to such a smooth surface, the bats evolved cup-like pads on their wrists and ankles. Scientists previously suspected the pads held the bats up by suction, but recent research has demonstrated the bats instead rely on wet adhesion, like a tree frog.

The two extinct species, Phasmatonycteris phiomensis and P. butleri, date to 30 and 37 million years ago, respectively, when the environment was drastically different. Northern Africa was more tropical, said Dr. Simmons, and home to a diverse range of mammals, including primates and early members of the elephant family.

“The habitat was probably fairly forested, and there was likely a proto-Nile River, a big river that led into the ancient Tethys Ocean,” said Gregg Gunnell, director of the Duke University Lemur Center‘s Division of Fossil Primates and a co-author on the paper.

The fossilized teeth imply that, like their living relatives, the ancient bats fed on insects. It’s impossible to know from the fossils if the extinct species had already evolved their characteristic sucker-feet, but the teeth shed light on another aspect of bat evolution. The presence of sucker-footed bats in Africa at least 37 million years ago supports the theory that this family is one of the most primitive members of a lineage that now dominates South America.

From vampires to fruit- and nectar-eaters to carnivores, the majority of South America’s bats belong to one large superfamily, known as Noctilionoidea.

“We think that the superfamily originated in Africa and moved eastward as Gondwana was coming apart,” Gunnell said. “These bats migrated to Australia, then actually went through Antarctica and up into South America using an ice-free corridor that connected the three continents until about 26 million years ago.”

According to this hypothesis, the sucker-footed bat fossils showed up right where scientists expected to find them: at the literal and figurative base of the Noctilionoidea family tree.

“Now, we can unambiguously link them through Africa,” Simmons said.

You can read the scientific paper here.

Like Darwin’s Finches, But Weirder, Bat Faces Showcase Amazing Adaptations: here.

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Unknown Sappho poems discovered?


This video is called Sappho, Biography.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Sappho: two previously unknown poems indubitably hers, says scholar

University of Oxford papyrologist convinced poems preserved on ancient papyrus are by seventh-century lyricist of Lesbos

Read one of the poems here

Charlotte Higgins, chief arts writer

Wednesday 29 January 2014 19.45 GMT

Sappho is one of the most elusive and mysterious – as well as best-loved – of ancient Greek poets. Only one of her poems, out of a reputed total of nine volumes’ worth, survives absolutely intact. Otherwise, she is known by fragments and shards of lines – and still adored for her delicate outpourings of love, longing and desire.

But now, two hitherto unknown works by the seventh-century lyricist of Lesbos have been discovered. One is a substantially complete work about her brothers; another, an extremely fragmentary piece apparently about unrequited love.

The poems came to light when an anonymous private collector in London showed a piece of papyrus fragment to Dr Dirk Obbink, a papyrologist at Oxford University.

According to Obbink, in an article to be published this spring, the poems, preserved on what is probably third-century AD papyrus, are “indubitably” by Sappho.

Not only do elements of the longer poem link up with fragments already known to be by her, but the metre and dialect in which the poems are written point to Sappho.

The clincher is a reference to her brother, Charaxos – whose very existence has long been doubted, since he is mentioned nowhere in previously discovered fragments of Sappho.

However, Herodotus, the fifth-century BC historian, named the brother when describing a poem by Sappho that recounts the tale of a love affair between Charaxos and a slave in Egypt.

In this poem – though it is not the precise one that Herodotus mentions – the writer addresses her audience, seeming to berate them for taking Charaxos’s return by ship from a trading trip for granted.

Pray to Hera, says the narrator, “so that Charaxos may return here, with his ship intact; for the rest let us leave it all to the gods, for often calm quickly follows a great storm”.

The poem goes on to say that those whom Zeus chooses to save from great storms are truly blessed and “lucky without compare”. The poem ends with the hope that another brother, Larichos, might become a man – “freeing us from much anxiety”.

According to Tim Whitmarsh, a professor of ancient literature at Oxford University, the poem could be read as a play on Homer‘s Odyssey, and the idea of Penelope waiting patiently at home for the return of Odysseus. Sappho frequently reworked Homeric themes in her poems.

Sappho, who was born in about 630BC, is known for her lyric verse of longing, often directed at women and girls – the bittersweet feeling of love, impossible-to-fulfil desire and the sensation of jealousy when you see the object of your obsession across the room, talking intimately with someone else.

She was admired in antiquity for her delicate, passionate verses. The only evidence for her biography comes from within her poems – and the naming of her brothers, Charaxos and Larichos, adds substantially to a sketchy knowledge of the poet’s life.

Sappho’s poems, which were lost from the manuscript tradition and were not collated and copied by medieval monks as were so many surviving ancient texts, have been preserved by two main means: either through quotation by other authors (often as examples of particular syntactical points by ancient grammarians) or through the discovery of fragments written on ancient papyrus. There is hope yet for more poems to come to light, preserved in the Egyptian sands.

Obbink’s article, with a transcription of the original poems, is to be published in the journal Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik.

Only a few poems of the Greek poetess Sappho’s work have survived but thanks to a leading scholar’s investigation two new works have just been recovered—and gives experts hope to find more: here.

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