Home' Greymouth Star : August 31st 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
6 - Monday, August 31, 2015
The hardline Islamic State group
has destroyed part of an ancient
temple in Syria’s Palmyra city, a
group monitoring the conflict said
The militants targeted the
Temple of Bel, a Roman-era
structure in the central desert
city, the Syrian Obser vatory for
Human Rights said.
It is the second temple Islamic
State has targeted in Palmyra
this month. The group detonated
explosives in the ancient Baal
Shamin temple on August 25, an
act that cultural agency UNESCO
has called a war crime aimed at
wiping out a symbol of Syria’s
diverse cultural heritage.
The extent of the damage at the
Temple of Bel was not known, the
Obser vatory said.
Activists on social media also
reported the destruction at the
temple, one of Palmyra’s most
Islamic State seized Palmyra in
May from government forces in
a sudden offensive and is tightly
controlling communications in the
city, according to activists.
The group, which has proclaimed
a caliphate in territory it holds
across Syria and Iraq, has regularly
considers sacrilegious as well as
carrying out mass killings.
beheaded the 82-year-old Syrian
archaeologist who had looked after
Palmyra’s ruins for four decades,
and hung his body in public,
according to Syria’s antiquities
chief. — Reuters
European Union ministers have been
summoned to meet in two weeks’ time to
seek urgent solutions to a migration crisis
unprecedented in the bloc’s history, as the
mounting death toll on land and sea forced
governments to respond.
Luxembourg, which holds the rotating EU
presidency, called interior ministers from all
28 member states to an extraordinary meeting
on September 14, saying: “ The situation of
migration phenomena outside and inside
the European Union has recently taken
unprecedented proportions. ”
Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier called on
her EU neighbours to do more as Germany
expects the number of asylum seekers it receives
to quadruple to about 800,000 in 2015.
“If Europe has solidarity and we have also
shown solidarity towards others, then we need
to show solidarity now,” she told reporters in
Berlin. “Everything must move quickly.”
Luxembourg said the meeting would focus on
policies on sending some migrants home and
measures to prevent human trafficking.
A boat carrying migrants sank off Libya’s
Mediterranean coast, killing at least 37 people,
a local official said overnight, the second such
fatal accident within days.
“ We had reports this morning that there are
seven bodies of illegal migrants that sank off
Khoms (east of Tripoli) but we don’t have any
details how many migrants were on board,”
Mohamad al-Misrati, a spokesman for the Red
Crescent in Tripoli, said.
Fishermen later discovered 30 more bodies
in the same area near Khoms, a town some
100km east of the capital, he said. Red Crescent
volunteers were trying to recover the dead.
On Thursday, a vessel packed with migrants
hoping to make it from Libya to Italy sank in
waters off the Libyan town of Zuwara, killing
up to 200 people.
Lawless Libya has turned into a major transit
route for migrants fleeing conflict and poverty
by boat to Europe. Smugglers exploit the
country’s chaos to bring Syrians into Libya via
Egypt or nationals of sub-Saharan countries via
Niger, Sudan and Chad.
The migrants pay thousands of dollars for
the land and sea passage with smugglers often
beating and torturing them to press for more
money for the final leg of the trip by sea in
unseaworthy vessels, rights groups say.
The number of refugees and migrants crossing
the Mediterranean to reach Europe has passed
300,000 this year, up from 219,000 in the whole
of 2014, the United Nations refugee agency
UNHCR said on Friday.
More than 2500 people have died making the
crossing this year, not including those feared
drowned off Libya in the past 24 hours, it said.
That compares with 3500 who died or went
missing in the Mediterranean in 2014.
The horrors faced by migrants were brought to
the heart of the European mainland on Friday
when 71 bodies, including those of a baby girl
and three other children were found in an
abandoned refrigeration truck in Austria.
Hungarian police arrested a fifth suspect,
a Bulgarian citizen, in connection with the
deaths. Three Bulgarians and one Afghani had
already been arrested.
Criticism of Europe’s disparate laws and
approaches to dealing with asylum seekers has
mounted. Some governments have refused to
take in refugees and resisted EU proposals to
agree on a common plan. Others are toughening
their asylum policies and border security,
sometimes because of rising anti-immigration
and nationalist sentiment.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
accused eastern European States, notably
Hungary, which is building a fence against
migrants along its border, of a “scandalous” policy.
“They are extremely harsh. Hungary is part of
Europe, which has values and we do not respect
those value by putting up fences,” Fabius said.
But British interior minister Theresa May
blamed Europe’s borderless system, known as
“Schengen”, for fuelling the crisis and demanded
tighter EU rules on free movement.
“ When it was first enshrined, free movement
meant the freedom to move to a job, not the
freedom to cross borders to look for work or
claim benefits,” May said. “ We must take some
big decisions, face down powerful interests and
reinstate the original principle. ” — Reuters
Finland’s Santa Claus Office
has avoided bankruptcy thanks
to the help of a new owner.
Lapland Safaris Group said
it had bought a majority of
shares in Dianordia Oy, the
company behind the Santa’s
office attraction in Lapland, and
cleared its tax bill.
“ With this arrangement we
want to ensure that the story of
Santa Claus will continue,” Jyrki
Niva, the managing director of
Lapland Safaris, which organises
reindeer and snowmobile safaris,
Santa Claus Office last week
said it had just days left to avoid
closure over its 200,000 euro
($225,000) tax bill. The problems
stemmed from a drop in visits
from recession-hit Russians,
once its best customers.
The attraction, which offers
a year-round chance to be
photographed with Santa in
exchange for a fee, is one of
businesses in Lapland, northern
It had some 300,000 visitors
last year and revenues of about
two million euros. — Reuters
Santa spared bankruptcy
IS destroys another Palmyra temple
Record reign matched by travel
With just 10 days to go until
the Q ueen overtakes Q ueen
Victoria as Britain’s longest-
ser ving monarch, the comparisons
between their reigns will be
There is, however, one aspect
of their tenures where there
can be no comparison — their
experience of foreign travel.
While Victoria reigned over
more than 70 countries, she never
left Europe. Queen Elizabeth
II, monarch of 16 realms, has
set foot in 116 countries during
265 official visits. Not bad for
someone who does not possess a
Put another way, the Queen has
been to Canada more times than
all of Victoria’s official foreign
She has been to New Zealand
10 times. Her last visit was in
2002, as part of her Golden
On September 9, the day the
Queen overtakes Victoria’s record
reign of 63 years, seven months
and two days, her milestone will
be celebrated with no more than
a trip to the Scottish Borders,
where she will open a new
railway, largely as a nod to the
public’s demand to see her on the
The Q ueen herself has always
made it clear she did not want a
“fuss” made over the day, telling
courtiers it should be “ business as
The Duke and Duchess of
Cambridge, however, may have
other plans as they are expected
to be staying at Balmoral on
September 9, giving them the
chance to surprise her, perhaps
with a celebratory cake.
The Queen will be powerless
to stop celebrations in the 53
Canada has had by far the
largest number of royal visits,
at 24, with Australia a distant
second at 16 and New Zealand in
third with 10.
Her Majesty’s duty to visit
Commonwealth countries means
she has been to Barbados, Fiji and
Jamaica six times each, compared
with just five visits each to France,
Germany, India and the United
Such major world players as
China, Russia, Brazil and Japan
have been visited only once.
Unlike the rest of us, the Q ueen
is not free to travel just anywhere.
Israel and Greece remain beyond
her reach for political reasons,
Israel because of the never-ending
tensions in the region, and Greece
because it exiled the Duke of
Edinburgh and his family when
he was a child.
Despite her experience of what
the world has to offer, the Queen
has never hinted she would like to
have lived anywhere else.
Queen Victoria, however, once
said that if it had not been for her
position in life, she would rather
have lived in Bavaria, a place she
visited seven times.
Queen Elizabeth, who is 89,
has remained energetic and
busy throughout her 63 years
(and counting) on the throne.
This year she made a State visit
to Germany and in November
she will fly to Malta for the
Commonwealth Heads of
Victoria, on the other hand,
was so infirm by the time of
her Diamond Jubilee in 1897
that she was unable to get out
of her carriage for a service
of thanksgiving at St Paul’s
Cathedral. Instead, the ser vice
had to be held outside so that
the congregation could assemble
The previous year, 1896, Queen
Victoria had surpassed her
grandfather, George III, as the
And like Q ueen Elizabeth, she
did not want any fuss, asking
that any special celebrations
be delayed until the Diamond
Victoria died on January 22,
1901, at Osborne House on the
Isle of Wight, where she spent
every Christmas. She had reigned
for 23,226 days, 16 hours and 23
The Queen will overtake her
record about 5.30pm (UK time)
on Wednesday, September 9.
It will be a record that may
never be surpassed. — PA
Chad has executed 10 members
of Nigerian Islamist militant
group Boko Haram by firing
squad, a day after they were
sentenced on terrorism charges,
security sources said yesterday.
“They were shot at the
Massaguet firing range,” said one
of the sources, referring to a city
about 60km north-east of the
Among the executed was
Mahamat Moustapha, a 30-year-
old Cameroonian who was
accused of masterminding a
series of attacks on N’Djamena.
More than 40 people were killed
in those attacks in June and July,
prompting Chadian President
Idriss Deby to introduce a series
of tough new anti-terror laws.
Chad is a leading country in
a regional 8700-strong military
task force fighting Boko Haram.
Deby says the jihadist insurgent
movement could be destroyed by
year end. — Reuters
Boko Haram militants shot
Poland said it was almost
certain it had located a Nazi train
rumoured to have gone missing
near the close of World War Two
loaded with guns and jewels.
ground-penetrating radar equip-
ment showed a train more than
100m long, the first official
confirmation of its existence,
Deputy Culture Minister Piotr
The vehicle was armoured,
suggesting it was carrying a
special cargo, “probably military
equipment but also possibly
jewellery, works of art and archive
documents”, he told journalists in
“I am over 99% sure that such a
train exists,” he said.
However, historians and other
experts would be certain only
once they managed to uncover
the vehicle. — Reuters
More pointers to treasure train
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