Home' Greymouth Star : October 29th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 5
Arch-rivals Saudi Arabia and
Iran announced they would attend
international talks in Vienna tomorrow
night on the Syrian conflict, in what will
be their first meeting to discuss the four-
Saudi Arabia said it aimed to gauge
during the talks the willingness of Iran
and Russia, the main backers of Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad and his
government, for a peace deal, Foreign
Minister Adel al-Jubeir said overnight.
“The view of our partners was that we
should test the intentions of the Iranians
and the Russians in arriving at a political
solution in Syria, which we all prefer,”
al-Jubeir told a news conference in the
Saudi capital Riyadh.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad
Javad Zarif and three of his deputies
will travel to Vienna, Iranian State news
agencies said. It will be the first time
that Tehran has been represented in
international discussions on the Syrian
Iran says it supports a political solution
in Syria, but says Assad should be part
of the process. Opposition groups, and
their regional backers including Saudi
Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, say Assad
must leave power as a precondition for
Al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia and its
allies would hold a separate meeting
tomorrow night to seek “the time and
means of Bashar al-Assad’s exit”.
The White House said the peace talks
could work only if “all key stakeholders”
were invited, adding that Iran’s
participation should not overshadow the
efforts to end the Syrian crisis.
“The United States is prepared to work
with any nation, including Russia and
Iran, to resolve the conflict in Syria,”
White House spokesman Eric Schultz
Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, Lebanon, the
European Union and France also said
they would attend the talks, which
come a day after a smaller round of
negotiations between the US, Russia,
Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Around a dozen participants are
expected in total.
It was not clear whether any invitation
had been issued to either the Syrian
government or the opposition. Neither
side was present at the last talks in
Speaking at a news conference in
Riyadh with his Saudi counterpart,
British foreign minister
Hammond said he hoped the meeting
would encourage dialogue between
the rivals, who back opposing sides in
conflicts across the Arab world.
“Saudi Arabia and Iran are the two
most important and powerful countries
in this region. It is very much in the
long-term interests of the region that
eventually these two countries are able
to talk to each other, are able to discuss
differences, are able to seek solutions
peacefully,” Hammond said.
The secretary of Iran’s Supreme
National Security Council, Ali
Shamkhani, told reporters during a visit
to Pakistan that Tehran would join the
talks “with no pre-conditions”.
A senior western diplomat in New
York said overnight: “ We have got to
start from a fairly low base given that
you’ve got Russia and Iran on one side
and everyone else on the other.”
“It would be successful if (the meeting)
came off and didn’t completely fall
apart,” he added.
Turkey, which backs the anti-Assad
opposition, has no objection to Iranian
participation in the Syria talks, a
diplomatic source in Ankara said.
Turkish foreign ministry officials were
not immediately available for comment.
Fighters from Iran and its Lebanese
ally Hizbollah are currently taking part
in ground offensives being waged by the
Syrian army and its allies with Russian
Revolutionary Guards Deputy
Commander Hossein Salami said in an
inter view on State television on Monday
that Iran had increased its military
presence in Syria in recent months to
help its army in response to a request
from the Assad government.
An Iranian political analyst based in
Frankfurt, Ali Sadrzadeh, said: “Iran
was always saying that without it the
talks on the Syrian crisis would not
succeed. What has changed is that
Russia and the USs have come to the
He said the July nuclear deal between
Iran and world powers paved the
way for Tehran’s participation in the
international arena, adding: “ The Vienna
talks will be Iran’s first test.” — Reuters
War crimes, forced cannibalism in South Sudan
Both the government and rebels in
South Sudan have carried out war
crimes against civilians and should
face justice, an African Union human
rights investigation has found.
The AU’s commission of inquiry on
South Sudan lists a string of abuses,
including forced cannibalism and
dismemberment, according to the
report published yesterday.
It also presents testimony that the
ethnic violence, which began in the
capital Juba in December 2013, may
have been premeditated.
“There are reasonable grounds to
believe that acts of murder, rape
and sexual violence, torture and
other inhumane acts . . . have been
committed by both sides to the
conflict,” the report said.
However it added that there were
“no reasonable grounds to believe that
the crime of genocide has occurred”.
“The commission believes that war
crimes were committed in Juba, Bor,
Bentiu and Malakal,” the 342-page
report read, referring to key towns in
internationally backed, African-led
court to try those responsible for the
violence. It said a “highly confidential
list ” of “possible alleged perpetrators”
will be submitted to the AU’s Peace
and Security Council.
Among the most shocking of many
acts of “extreme cruelty” identified in
the report were claims of “draining
human blood from people who had
just been killed and forcing others
from one ethnic community to drink
the blood or eat burned human flesh”.
The commission, led by former
Obasanjo, carried out its research in
But publication was delayed as
African leaders and AU officials
feared the report might undermine
peace talks. A peace deal was finally
signed by President Salva Kiir and
rebel leader Riek Machar in August
this year, but a ceasefire has been
repeatedly broken. — AFP
Six Russian women have
clambered into a mock spaceship
to begin a unique experiment
testing how an all-female crew
would interact on a trip to the
Moon and back.
For eight days, the female
volunteers will live inside a
wood-panelled suite of rooms
at Moscow ’s
Biomedical Problems, renowned
for its unusual research into the
psychological and physical effects
of space travel.
The institute in 2010 locked six
male international volunteers in
an isolation experiment lasting
520 days, to simulate a flight to
Mars and back.
“Such a crew is taking
part for the first time in a
simulation experiment. It ’s
interesting for us to see what is
special about the way a female
Ponomaryov, the experiment ’s
super visor, said overnight.
“It will be particularly
psychology,” institute director
Igor Ushakov said.
scientific researchers, a doctor
and a psychologist.
The test period simulates a
flight to the Moon and back,
with the women carrying out 10
experiments covering psychology
and human biology.
Russia sent the first woman
into space, Valentina Tereshkova,
in 1963 but has lagged behind
since. Last year it sent its fourth
female cosmonaut into space,
Serova complained of a
flurry of media interest in
how she would wash her hair
aboard the International Space
Station, pointing out that male
cosmonauts did not face the
same line of questioning.
Despite the mission being
presented as a giant step for
gender equality, the women found
themselves fielding questions at
a press conference about how
they would cope without men or
make-up for eight days.
“ We are very beautiful without
Her colleague Anna Kussmaul
was more direct: “ We are doing
work. When you’re doing your
work, you don’t think about men
Luchnitskaya said she expected
the women to deal with any
“ I’m sure we all have the
education, personal qualities and
the upbringing, at the end of the
day,” she said.
“So far I can’t imagine what
would rattle us.” — AFP
crew starts tests
for flight to Moon
A high-tech United States military
blimp designed to detect a missile
attack came loose early today (NZT)
and wrought havoc as it floated from
Maryland into Pennsylvania, dragging
its 3000m-long cable behind it and
knocking out power to thousands.
The US military scrambled two armed
F-16 fighters to keep watch as the
blimp travelled into civilian air space
after coming loose shortly after midday
(local time) from its mooring station at
Aberdeen Proving Grounds, a US Army
facility 65km north-east of Baltimore.
It came down several hours later
in two parts in Montour County,
Pennsylvania, the US military’s
North American Aerospace Defence
Command (NORAD) said.
First, the tail portion of the blimp
detached and came to the ground
“ with no reports of other damage or
casualties,” navy captain Scott Miller
“The remainder of the aerostat
has also grounded itself in Montour
County,” Miller said.
It was not immediately clear how
the blimp became detached from its
mooring station at Aberdeen Proving
PPL Electric Utilities Corp said
there were about 17,800 customers
without power in Columbia County,
Pennsylvania, with another 9000 out in
The office of Pennsylvania Governor
Tom Wolf released a statement
to let the public know the State
was monitoring the situation and
discussing it with federal officials, State
police and emergency officials and the
The blimp is known as the Joint
Land Attack Cruise Missile Defence
Elevated Netted Sensor System and
was part of a $2.8 billion development
project. — Reuters
Runaway military blimp causes havoc
The partially-deflated blimp nears the ground.
A Raytheon blimp on the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
The United Nations has warned that a
deadly surge in violence between Israelis
and Palestinians is headed toward
“c atastrophe” as new knife attacks took
place in the volatile West Bank.
An Israeli woman was stabbed and
moderately wounded in one such attack
overnight, while a Palestinian allegedly
tried to stab an Israeli soldier and was
shot dead in another, the police and
UN High Commissioner for Human
Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said the
latest flare-up in violence in the six-
decade-old conflict was “dangerous in
“The violence between Palestinians and
the Israelis will draw us ever closer to a
catastrophe if not stopped immediately,”
he said during a meeting of the UN
Human Rights Council in Geneva.
World leaders desperately want to
revive moribund Israeli-Palestinian
peace talks that last collapsed in April
2014, to avoid a deeper slide into
violence that many fear could lead to a
third Palestinian intifada.
But Palestinian president Mahmud
Abbas said overnight that it was
“no longer useful to waste time in
negotiations” and warned that a
continuation of the current violence
could “kill the last shred of hope for the
He called on the UN “to set up a special
regime for international protection for
the Palestinian people”.
Abbas accused Israel of “extrajudicial
killings of defenceless Palestinian
civilians, (and having) detained their
corpses, including children”.
Withholding the bodies of attackers is
one of a series of measures approved by
the Israeli government to try to dissuade
the attacks against Jews, which began
in early October as tensions over the al
Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem
Palestinians have long feared Israelis
are planning to change the rules
governing the site that is sacred to both
Muslims and Jews, and lies in a majority
Palestinian area annexed by Israel in
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu has repeatedly denied
seeking to allow Jews to pray at the
compound, which they refer to as the
Only Muslims are allowed to pray
within the compound, while non-
Muslims can visit but not pray there.
Palestinian organisations say the
bodies of 25 attackers and an Israeli
Arab have not been returned to families.
They are among 61 killed since
October 1. Palestinian medics say some
2000 Palestinians have been injured
since the outbreak of violence. — AFP
A judge in Salem, Massachusetts,
has granted a self-proclaimed witch’s
request for a restraining order to keep
a self-proclaimed warlock and business
rival from harassing her.
Lori Sforza, 75, who calls herself a
psychic and a “hereditary high priestess”
had appealed to Salem District Court
Judge Robert Brennan to issue an
order stopping Christian Day, who
calls himself the “world’s best-known
warlock” and owns magic-themed stores
in Salem and New Orleans from making
what she said were harassing phone calls.
The two are well-known in Salem,
infamous as the site of 17th century trials
that led to the executions of 20 people
found guilty of witchcraft. Modern-
day Salem capitalises on its morbid
reputation with tourist attractions both
ghoulish and historic that help the city
draw about a million visitors a year,
with crowds peaking in the run-up to
Sforza, who ser ves as founder and
Head Mother of Our Lord and Lady
of the Trinacrian Rose Church, in the
waterfront city 26km northeast of
Boston, welcomed the ruling.
“I love Salem so much,” she told
reporters after leaving the courthouse.
“ No one should ever be abused, man or
Day said he had never harassed Sforza.
“All of this comes from business
competition. All of this comes from
when you’re the best at what you do,
you’re going to have people who want
you to fail,” Day said. “ We get people
who get jealous. Might I have had a
snarky comment on the internet once
in a while? Sure, but that ’s free speech.
Do I call people with private numbers?
Day hosts a “Festival of the Dead” in
Salem, where participants can learn to
become a paranormal investigator, hear
from departed loved ones, or cast a
magic circle on Salem Common.
Salem’s tourism office estimated
that tourism brought $100 million in
economic activity to the city of almost
43,000 people last year. — Reuters
Restraining order on ‘warlock’
Middle East heading for catastrophe: UN
Vatican ‘makes life
hell for gays’
A high-ranking Polish Catholic
priest who was sacked after he
came out as gay has accused the
Vatican of making the lives of
homosexuals “a hell”, in a letter
sent to the Pope.
Krzysztof Charamsa thanked
Pope Francis for his positive
words and gestures but criticised
what he called the Vatican’s
hypocrisy in banning gay priests
even though he said the clergy
was “full” of homosexuals.
“Have a minimum of mercy. At
least leave us alone, allow civil
societies to make our lives more
human, while you, with your
church, have managed to make
the lives of us homosexuals a
hell,” he wrote in the letter dated
October 3 and seen overnight.
Charamsa sparked outrage at
the Vatican that day by publicly
declaring his homosexuality
and presenting his Spanish
boyfriend Eduardo Planas — on
the eve of a bishops’ synod which
touched on the divisive issue of
the Church’s relationship to gay
A Polish bishop last week
defrocked the 43-year-old priest,
who now lives in Barcelona with
Charamsa had held a senior
position working for the Vatican
office for protecting Catholic
dogma, the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith.
He wrote that after a “ long and
tormented period of discernment
and prayer”, he had taken the
decision to “publicly reject the
violence of the Church towards
homosexual, lesbian, bisexual,
“ Today I have put myself on the
side of the fantastic homosexual
people, who have during
centuries been humiliated by a
fanatical Church,” he added.
While Charamsa can no longer
perform priestly duties, he has
not been excommunicated, a
move that would entirely banish
him from the Catholic Church.
The Pontiff met a gay former
student of his during his recent
visit to the United States and has
previously said that gay people
should not be marginalised in
society. — AFP
A Chinese bank robber turned multi-
millionaire property developer has been
arrested 16 years after he committed the
crime, State media report.
The man, identified only by his surname
Shi, led a five-strong gang which stole
2.08 million yuan (about $486,789) in
December 1999 from a bank branch
in the central province of Henan, the
official Xinhua news agency reported.
Shi took his share of the money
from the robbery and turned it into a
business empire exceeding “hundreds
of millions” of yuan and spanning
“property development, commerce and
amusement farms”, the Zhengzhou
Evening News reported overnight.
The thieves fired eight shots during
the heist, seriously injuring a guard and
a bank teller, and the crime became a
It was not clear how the police had
cracked the case, with the Zhengzhou
Evening News saying only that the
investigative team spent more than 10
months investigating, using “scientific
data and human intelligence”.
Three of the men were apprehended
by more than 80 armed police last week,
according to the newspaper, while Shi
and another man were captured three
days later at a friend’s house. — AFP
Chinese bank robber became millionaire
Ankara blasts ‘ordered by IS’
A sleeper cell acting on orders from
the Islamic State (IS) group carried out
the massive bombings on a peace rally
in Ankara this month to try to disrupt
Turkey ’s election, prosecutors say.
The Ankara prosecutor’s office said
overnight there was “strong evidence”
the cell was also behind other attacks in
the country, including one on the border
with Syria in July, and was planning
“The cell received permission from the
terrorist group in Syria to attack all PPK
(Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and anti-
Daesh targets inside Turkey,” it said in a
statement, using the Arabic acronym for
the IS group.
The October 10 attack targeted a peace
rally staged by pro-Kurdish activists
and leftists, and was the worst so far
on Turkish soil, killing 102 people and
raising tensions ahead of this Sunday ’s
“Disrupting political stability by
sabotaging the upcoming elections
and complicating the formation of a
government . . . that would emerge after
the elections,” was one of the motives,
the prosecutor’s statement said.
It said the sleeper cell was based in the
south-eastern province of Gaziantep
which borders war-torn Syria.
Turkish officials had said previously
the attack was carried out by two suicide
bombers, including at least one Turk, and
that the IS group was the No 1 suspect.
The prosecutors said information
extracted from electronic devices had
revealed “crucial information” about
the organisation behind the carnage,
including the flow of funds to cells in
Turkey from bases in Syria.
Police this week launched raids on
suspected IS hideouts in several parts
of the country, including an operation
in the main Kurdish city of Diyarbakir
which resulted in the death of two
Turkish policemen and seven militants.
Rescuers plucked more than 1000
migrants from overcrowded boats near
Libya overnight, Italy’s coast guard said,
the most reported saved in a single day
in three weeks.
The flow of migrants crossing the
Mediterranean in rickety boats from
Libya towards Italy’s southern tip had
been abating with deteriorating weather
conditions and as more people chose
alternative routes into Europe.
About 140,000 have reached Italy this
year in boats from Africa out of a total
of about 700,000 who have come to
Europe by sea, mostly through Greece.
British, Irish, Slovenian and German
navy ships took part in the rescues
along with the Italian coast guard and
a ship operating under the auspices
of European Union border agency
Italy and Greece have struggled to cope
with arrivals as civil war in Syria and
deprivation and human rights abuses
in Africa has driven the biggest wave of
migration towards Europe since World
War Two. — Reuters
Over 1000 refugees saved from sea
announced the unexpected
discovery of large quantities
of oxygen on a comet which
streaked past the sun in August
with a European spacecraft in
The find came as a “ big surprise”,
theories on the formation of
our solar system, scientist Andre
Bieler of the University of
Michigan said overnight.
the Rosetta probe suggested
that oxygen molecules in the
67P comet ’s gassy halo must
have existed “before or at ” its
formation, he said.
This may have implications
for mankind’s understanding of
the chemistry involved in the
formation of the Solar System
some 4.6 billion years ago.
“ We believe this oxygen is
primordial, which means it is
older than our solar system,”
Scientists had previously ruled
out the presence of oxygen
(O2) on comets such as 67P/
subject of intensive prodding and
probing by a European robot lab.
As O2 mixes easily with other
elements, “we never thought
that oxygen could ‘sur vive’ for
billions of years” in a pristine
state, Kathrin Altwegg, of the
University of Bern, who co-
authored a study in the journal
“This evidence of oxygen as
an ancient substance will likely
discredit some theoretical models
of the formation of our solar
system,” she said.
The comet is being tracked on
its deep space journey around
the Sun by the European Space
Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft.
The historic mission seeks to
unlock the mystery of the origins
of life on Earth.
Scientists believe that comets
“seeded” early Earth with some
of the ingredients for life.
The team monitored the ratio
of oxygen to water on the comet
for several months to see if the
gas molecules would dissipate as
solar winds ripped away layers of
They did not — proving the
oxygen was embedded in the
comet, not just hanging around
its surface. — AFP
Discovery of oxygen on
comet stuns scientists
Links Archive October 28th 2015 October 30th 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page