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Mystery of the mummy's Chinese travel ban

mummy,Beauty of Xiaohe
© AP
The 'Beauty of Xiaohe', which China has pulled out of an exhibition in the US

For her advanced years, she looks remarkable. Despite nearing the ripe old age of 4,000, long eyelashes still frame her half-open eyes and hair tumbles down to her remarkably well-preserved shoulders.

But the opportunity for new audiences in the United States to view the "Beauty of Xiaohe" - a near perfectly preserved mummy from an inhospitable part of western China - has been dealt a blow after it was pulled from an exhibition following a sudden call from the Chinese authorities on the eve of opening. The reason for pulling the mummy and other artefacts from the show remained unclear yesterday (Chinese officials were on New Year holiday) but there were suggestions that the realities of modern Chinese politics may have had a part to play.

The mummy was recovered from China's Tarim Basin, in Xinjiang province. But her Caucasian features raised the prospect that the region's inhabitants were European settlers.

Crusader

Pope's Organs are Too Holy to Donate to Mortals, Says Church

Pope Benedict
© AFP
As a cardinal he carried a donor card and as Pontiff he showed his commitment to the cause by attending a congress on organ donation
Benedict XVI has tried to scotch rumours that he carries an organ donor card after his secretary revealed that his ascension to the position of Holy Father means he is no longer able to bequeath his body parts to lesser mortals.

On the pontiff's instructions, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, Benedict's personal secretary, fired off a letter to quell the rumours that started in the Pope's native Germany.

"It's true that a simple cardinal can have an organ donor card but, despite public declarations to the contrary, it ceased to apply when he was elected head of the Catholic Church," Mgr Gaenswein said.

In 1999, the then-Cardinal Ratzinger said he was on an organ-donor list. "I am available to offer my organs to whoever might need them. It is an act of love, of affection and generosity," he said at the time.

And as recently as 2008, three years after being elected pontiff, Benedict attended an international congress on donor transplantation where he repeated his support for organ donors. "It's a special way of showing charity," he said, though he added that donations had to be "free, voluntary [and] respectful of the health and dignity of the donor".

Sherlock

Google Exec Who Went Missing In Egypt Now A Spokesman For Opposition Group

Image
© Unknown
Wael Ghonim
A Google executive who has gone missing in Egypt has been "symbolically" named the spokesman for an opposition group, in an attempt to free him from being held by Egyptian authorities, CBS News reports.

Wael Ghonim, Google's head of marketing for the middle east, flew into Egypt last week to participate in the demonstrations against the government. At some point he went missing, and one of his last tweets ominously read, "we are all ready to die."

The Egyptian government will not comment on whether it has Ghonim or not, but many suspect he is being held.

The demonstration where he Ghonim may have been captured was organized "largely" by the April 6 movement, CBS News reports. The April 6 movement is a youth movement in Egypt formed almost three years ago.

Cloud Lightning

Texas Dems accuse Perry of 'California dreamin'' during ice storm

Rick Perry
© unknown
Rick Perry
Gov. Rick Perry took heat from Texas Democrats on Thursday for being in California while Texans back home were dealing with icy streets, rolling power blackouts and the lowest temperatures in years.

"RICK PERRY WAS CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' WHILE TEXANS ENDURED BLACKOUT NIGHTMARE," screamed the headline of a news release from Texas Democratic Party spokeswoman Kirsten Gray. Perry is in California to participate in the 100th anniversary of President Ronald Reagan's birth. But spokesman Mark Miner said Perry was monitoring storm-related developments back home.

"It shows the Democrats are out of touch," Miner said. "He's been in constant communication with the office and is dealing with the weather situation and other issues facing the state on a regular basis."

Rocket

US missile misses Bin Laden, hits Afghan woman and her kids

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An Afghan woman has been injured along with her five young children when a missile fired by US-led forces struck their house in Afghanistan's northeastern province of Kunar.

A US-led convoy, rolling through Sarkani district of Kunar Province, came under attack by Taliban militants on Friday. The forces responded by firing a missile which missed the target and hit the residential building.

Parts of the structure were damaged in the incident, a Press TV correspondent reported on Friday.

The incident comes as violence in Afghanistan has spiked to record high levels since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Statistics about the civilian death toll in Afghanistan are not available. However, it is estimated that between 14,000 and 34,000 Afghan civilians have lost their lives since the US-led invasion.

Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have reportedly lost their lives as the result of displacement, starvation, disease, exposure, lack of medical treatment, crime and lawlessness resulting from the war.

Che Guevara

More protests as Jordanians call for reforms

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Hundreds of Jordanians have gathered outside the prime minister office in the capital, Amman, calling for wide and quick political and economic reforms.

Around 1,000 protesters marched toward the prime ministry following the Friday Prayers and urged Jordan's newly-appointed Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit to bring in the public on the country's decision making process.

Demonstrators said they demand more government reforms than the appointment of a new prime minister. The protest was organized by the Islamic Action Front (IAF), the political arm of Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood.

On Tuesday, after three weeks of anti-government protests, King Abdullah sacked the prime minister, Samir Rifai, and appointed Marouf Bakhit in his place, instructing him to "take practical, quick and tangible steps to launch true political reforms."

The opposition, however, says Bakhit is not a reformist.

"We want seriousness on the ground. We want a genuine reform. We want initiatives and now so that people feel they are partners in decision making," Secretary General of IAF Hamzeh Mansour said.

Bandaid

Azerbaijan considers sacking ministers as mass protests loom

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Azeri Prime Minister Artur Rasizade
Reports from Azerbaijan indicate the Baku government is preparing for a cabinet reshuffle for fear that the country may plunge into protests similar to Egypt and Tunisia.

A report published in the Azeri newspaper Yeni Musavat on Friday said Baku is well aware of the severity of the people's dissatisfaction with the ruling establishment in the former soviet republic, an IRIB correspondent reported.

The Azeri government is therefore considering a 'plan B' to sack Prime Minister Artur Rasizade and dismiss his cabinet or even hold a snap parliamentary election, the paper added.

In neighboring Kazakhstan, President Nursultan Nazarbayev has pledged elections after two decades.

Panah Hussein, who leads Azerbaijan's Public Chamber Movement, said regarding the latest developments in the world, Baku would have to announce early general elections.

Hussein said if 45 lawmakers choose to resign, the parliament elected in 2010 would automatically be dissolved and new election would be inevitable.

But a lawmaker from President Ilham Aliyev's ruling New Azerbaijan Party dismissed calls for a 'popular parliament' and snap election, insisting that Azeri lawmakers would never volunteer to resign.

Comment: We wonder if this is related?

Azeri embassy staff killed in Egypt by unknown assailants


Family

Anti-Mubarak demo held in New York

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© Unknown
Egyptian-Americans rally in Times Square, New York to express support for the Egyptian protesters' call for President Hosni Mubarak to step down.
Egyptian-Americans have held a demonstration in Times Square to coincide with the massive demonstrations that were held in Egypt calling for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Hundreds of people gathered behind police barricades in Times Square on Friday afternoon chanting "Mubarak must go." One demonstrator held up a sign saying, "Long live the Egyptian intifada."

The larger demonstrations in Egypt were named the "Day of Departure" for Mubarak.

The U.S. government says close to 60,000 Egyptian-Americans live in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. Community members say the real number is twice that figure.

Over the past week, Egyptian-Americans have gathered in coffee shops and restaurants in a neighborhood of Queens, New York known as Little Egypt, glued to TV sets broadcasting bloody clashes in Cairo. Many are worried about family and friends in their ancestral homeland.

The demonstration in New York began at 3:30 p.m. local time. The protesters later marched to the Egyptian Consulate, which is located on 59th Street and 2nd Avenue.

Light Saber

World rallies to support Egypt revolution

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© Agence France Presse
Hundreds of Malaysian protesters gathered in front of the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to show their solidarity with the Egyptian anti-government protesters on February 4, 201.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have held rallies to support the revolutionary drive of Egyptians and call for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

In the Tunisian capital Tunis, protesters rallied near the Egyptian Embassy. They told President Mubarak to leave just like ousted Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

In the Turkish city of Istanbul, protesters called for an immediate regime change in Egypt.

In Lebanese capital, Beirut, people gathered outside the Egyptian Embassy, calling for political reform in Egypt.

Thousands of Malaysian protesters, who took to the streets to show support for the Egyptian revolution, clashed with police while staging a march to the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Eye 2

Mubarak sends snipers after protesters

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Reports say that plainclothes police officers and snipers have launched a crackdown on millions of anti-government protesters in central Cairo.

This comes as anti-government demonstrators are gathering in Liberation Square as protests against embattled President Hosni Mubarak continue for an eleventh consecutive day.

Latest reports, however, say there are running street battles between protesters and security forces in some areas in Cairo.

At least 30 protesters have been arrested, reports say.

Two French journalists have been missing in Cairo for the last 24 hours and an Egyptian journalist has been killed.