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Egypt Archaeology Chief Zahi Hawass to Appeal Jail Term on Bookshop Plan

Dr Zahi Hawass
© unknown
Dr Zahi Hawass
Zahi Hawass, Egypt's minister of state for antiquities, said he will appeal a one-year jail sentence imposed on him yesterday.

The sentence is related to a lawsuit accusing him of refusing to carry out a court ruling, the state-run Middle East News Agency said today. The court had ordered a halt to bidding from companies to run a bookstore in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Hawass said today in his blog.

"Tomorrow, the head of the legal affairs department at the Ministry of Antiquities will go to the court to file our appeal," Hawass said in the Web log. "He will present evidence that the bid for the bookstore contract was finished before the original court ruling, so therefore we could not follow the ruling to stop the bidding."


"Technology can't replace God": Pope

Pope Benedict XVI
© Reuters/Stefano Rellandini
Pope Benedict XVI holds a palm as he arrives to lead the Palm Sunday mass at the Vatican April 17, 2011.
Pope Benedict led Roman Catholics into Holy Week celebrations, telling a Palm Sunday crowd that man will pay the price for his pride if he believes technology can give him the powers of God.

Under a splendid Roman sun, the German pope presided at a colorful celebration where tens of thousands of people waved palm and olive branches to commemorate Jesus' entry into Jerusalem the week before he was crucified.

The pope, who turned 84 on Saturday, wove his sermon around the theme of man's relationship with God and how it can sometimes be threatened by technology.

"From the beginning men and women have been filled -- and this is as true today as ever -- with a desire to 'be like God', to attain the heights of God by their own powers," he said, wearing resplendent red and gold vestments.

"Mankind has managed to accomplish so many things: we can fly! We can see, hear and speak to one another from the farthest ends of the earth. And yet the force of gravity which draws us down is powerful," he said.

Take 2

Sarkozy could play roles like Bogart's says Woody Allen

© Agence France-Presse
French President Nicolas Sarkozy listens during a round table discussion on Thursday in Bagneres-de-Luchon, southern France. Film director Woody Allen says he could see Sarkozy playing a role like those of Humphrey Bogart, who was famous for his cynical and hardboiled anti-heroes.

Film director Woody Allen could see French President Nicolas Sarkozy playing a role like those of Humphrey Bogart, who was famous for his cynical and hardboiled anti-heroes.

Allen has already directed Sarkozy's wife, supermodel turned singer Carla Bruni, in a cameo role in his latest movie Midnight in Paris, which will premiere next month at the Cannes Fim Festival in southern France.

Asked by the French weekly Journal du Dimanche whether he could imagine casting Sarkozy himself in a future production, Allen said he could.


US: Ohio man who killed 3 says he has 'evil thoughts'

A man sentenced to life in prison without parole for murdering his girlfriend's daughter and an elderly couple said in his videotaped confession that he constantly has "evil thoughts" and thinks about killing.

Samuel K. Littleton II, of western Ohio, pleaded guilty to three counts each of aggravated murder and gross abuse of a corpse in a deal with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty for the three February slayings.

He shed some light on his thinking during hours of taped interrogations after he was arrested in West Virginia, The Columbus Dispatch newspaper reported Sunday.

"I think evil thoughts all the time. I mean, there ain't one minute that I don't say or think about how to snap somebody's neck, crush their head," Littleton, 37, told investigators. "Why would a person have that kind of thoughts all the time?"

Littleton lowered his head and sobbed as investigators showed him pictures of 84-year-old Richard Russell and 85-year-old wife Gladis Russell and then pleaded with him to reveal where their bodies were. Authorities believe he killed the Russells at their rural Lewiston home, put their bodies in the trunk of their car and drove south. Their bodies later were found in Tennessee and Georgia. Their car was found in Princeton, W.Va., where Littleton has relatives.


Mexico's Tamaulipas police chief sacked after killings

© The Associated Press
The Mexican navy captured the alleged mastermind of the killings on Saturday
The Mexican state of Tamaulipas has dismissed its head of security following the discovery of 145 bodies in mass graves earlier this month.

Former army Gen Ubaldo Ayala Tinoco has been replaced by another former soldier, Capt Rafael Lomeli Martinez.

The state governor said the new chief would improve coordination with the army and federal police in the fight against drugs gangs.

The killings have been blamed on the Zetas drug cartel.

More than 20 suspected cartel members have been arrested in connection with the killings, including the alleged mastermind of the massacre.

But 16 state policemen have also been arrested on suspicion of protecting the criminals.


US: Holly Bobo Search: Hundreds of Volunteers Comb the Woods

Police Searching for Missing Tennessee Woman Are Getting Leads From Across the Country

Hundreds of police and volunteers combed the woods in three Tennessee counties today searching for any sign of Holly Bobo, the 20-year-old college student abducted outside her home.

Some 600 volunteers joined police Saturday, working until midnight to find any trace of the young woman, whose brother saw the abduction Wednesday, but only realized too late that the man leading her into the woods was not her boyfriend.

Family, friends and concerned residents of Holly Bobo's hometown of Parsons, Tenn., and neighboring communities came out again this morning to continue the search.

"We got lots of volunteers and we're continuing to do searches throughout the county in other areas and looking any type of leads that could help us in bringing Holly back," Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent John Mehr said.

"We also are getting tremendous amount of leads from all over the country throughout the United States. And so, we're following up on those leads as they come in and prioritizing the ones that aren't the urgent leads," he said. "We're continuing to ask people to call in and give us information on this case because we want to bring Holly back."

A reward of $25,000 of information leading to Bobo's return and the arrest of her kidnapper was announced Saturday evening.

Bizarro Earth

20 Signs That A Horrific Global Food Crisis Is Coming

starving child
© Unknown

In case you haven't noticed, the world is on the verge of a horrific global food crisis. At some point, this crisis will affect you and your family. It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, but it is going to happen. Crazy weather and horrifying natural disasters have played havoc with agricultural production in many areas of the globe over the past couple of years. Meanwhile, the price of oil has begun to skyrocket. The entire global economy is predicated on the ability to use massive amounts of inexpensive oil to cheaply produce food and other goods and transport them over vast distances. Without cheap oil the whole game changes. Topsoil is being depleted at a staggering rate and key aquifers all over the world are being drained at an alarming pace. Global food prices are already at an all-time high and they continue to move up aggressively. So what is going to happen to our world when hundreds of millions more people cannot afford to feed themselves?

Most Americans are so accustomed to supermarkets that are absolutely packed to the gills with massive amounts of really inexpensive food that they cannot even imagine that life could be any other way. Unfortunately, that era is ending.

There are all kinds of indications that we are now entering a time when there will not be nearly enough food for everyone in the world. As competition for food supplies increases, food prices are going to go up. In fact, at some point they are going to go way up.


Inside Syria: Secret police tell parents of arrested protesters to forget their children and have some more

Khalid was not a political activist, just an ordinary middle-class man inspired by the tide of change sweeping across the Arab world. Three weeks ago he joined a group that met at a Damascus mosque and protested against their government. Speakers stressed they had no weapons and hundreds chanted: 'Peacefully, peacefully, we want freedom peacefully.'

The response was immediate and vicious. Secret police attacked the men and women daring to defy a repressive regime that has ruled with fear for 40 years
women block highway
© AP
Flashpoint: Women block a highway in protest at the arrest of local men in Banias on Wednesday
But, in an astonishing turn of events, the watching crowd turned on the loathed security forces and beat back their oppressors. Soon, however, reinforcements were called and cracked down hard, hauling dozens of people off to police cells.

Among them was Khalid. His family despaired, knowing what happens in these suburban torture chambers. His mother toured police stations for information on his whereabouts but abandoned her quest after a volley of aggressive abuse. She feared she might never see her son again

Six days later, Khalid turned up. He had been dumped in a back street with about 50 fellow protesters. Like the others he had been hideously beaten. His battered body was even covered with bite marks left by his captors. He will not protest again but his brother is furious.

'We are not political people, but politics has come into our house,' he told me.

This demonstration was just one of scores that have erupted across Syria, leaving 200 people dead, hundreds missing and the nation tremulous. In January, President Bashar Assad boasted he had no cause for concern over the popular protests in the Arab world as his dynastic dictatorship reflected 'the beliefs of the people'. Most observers shared his confidence, if not his disingenuous diagnosis.

Now Syrians debate if the regime will survive and diplomats watch nervously. For this explosion of anger not only has the potential to rip apart Syria - it could shake the entire region, given the country's pivotal role in events from Israel and Lebanon to Iraq, Iran and even Turkey.


A chilling account of the brutal clampdown sweeping Bahrain

Mahmoud, a Shia who lives near Bahrain's capital tells how Saudi soldiers wage a campaign of sectarian violence
Sanabis police

Riot police in Sanabis, Bahrain.
Since the Gulf soldiers came to Bahrain, life in the Shia villages and suburbs of the capital, Manama, has been non-stop intimidation, violence and threats. Even trying to move around in normal ways has become life-threatening. They are trying to beat down the opposition with a long campaign against us.

I live in one of the villages near Manama. One night about 7.30pm, I parked in front of my father-in-law's house and walked towards the door, when at least 50 armed and masked thugs - they were not in security forces uniform - appeared from one of the village lanes and told me to stop, pointing their shotguns at me. I ran away and they followed, but I managed to hide in one of the houses and they did not see me.

I heard them talking to each other, saying: "Don't worry, we will find him." I was taking a look from the window and they stayed at the car park opposite the house I was hiding in, and they were smashing the windows of parked cars and wrecking and stealing from them. Some had Saudi accents; they are very different from Bahraini and easy to tell.

At 8pm most nights people go up on their roofs and chant Allahu Akbar ["God is greatest"] and the thugs start shooting randomly in the air and at the top of the roofs. That night the area was covered with tear-gas grenades and rubber bullets, while the roads around the house were deserted except for thugs.


Japan nuclear operator aims for cold shutdown in 6-9 months

Japanese nuclear power plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) hopes it will be able to achieve cold shutdown of its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant within six to nine months, the company said on Sunday.

The firm said the first step would be cooling the reactors and spent fuel to a stable level within three months, then bringing the reactors to cold shutdown in six to nine months. That would make the plant safe and stable and end the immediate crisis, now rated on a par with the world's worst nuclear accident, the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

TEPCO, founded 60 years ago, added it later plans to cover the reactor buildings, damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami that struck on March 11.

The latest data shows much more radiation leaked from the Daiichi plant in the early days of the crisis than first thought, prompting officials to rate it on a par with Chernobyl, although experts were quick to point out Japan's crisis was vastly different from Chernobyl in terms of radiation contamination.

TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said he was considering resigning over the accident, but that he couldn't say when.