Monthly Archives: December 2015

Γράμμα ενός προσφυ – γόπουλου στον Άγιο Βασίλη

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“Αγαπημένε μου Άγιε Βασίλη, συγχώρεσέ με αν κάνω ορθογραφικά λάθη”

Αγαπημένε μου Άγιε Βασίλη,

Σου γράφω αυτό το γράμμα γιατί ξέρω πως μόνο εσύ θα το διαβάσεις και μόνο εσύ θα με ακούσεις. Συγχώρεσέ με αν κάνω ορθογραφικά λάθη, αλλά δυστυχώς δεν πρόλαβα να πάω στο σχολείο για πολύ καιρό, γιατί με πήραν οι γονείς μου και φύγαμε από το σπίτι, και στην τσάντα μου δε χωρούσαν τα βιβλία μου και τα καινούρια μου μολύβια.

Πριν φύγουμε, μάλιστα, από το σπίτι, με αγκάλιασαν και οι δύο, με φίλησαν και κλαίγοντας μου ζήτησαν συγγνώμη γιατί δε μπόρεσαν να μου δώσουν όλα αυτά τα οποία ήθελαν, και πως κάποια στιγμή στο μέλλον όταν θα καταλάβω, ελπίζουν να τους συγχωρήσω. Εγώ πάντως, να ξέρεις πως τους έχω συγχωρέσει ήδη, αν και δεν καταλαβαίνω τι κακό έκαναν. Και αυτά δε στα λέω για να σου δείξω πως είμαι καλό παιδί και για να μου φέρεις δώρο.

Δώρο δε θέλω φέτος. Γιατί δεν έχω διεύθυνση, δεν έχω σπίτι για να έρθεις. Κάθε ημέρα που περνάει δε ξέρω που θα είμαι, σε ποια πόλη, σε ποια χώρα. Κάθε βράδυ, μόνο, κοιτάζω τον ουρανό με την ελπίδα να σε δω και να σου φωνάξω, αλλά ξέρω πως σε σκηνές χωρίς καμινάδες δεν πηγαίνεις, αλλά μόνο σε σπίτια. Αυτό που θέλω, λοιπόν, να σου ζητήσω δεν είναι ούτε καινούριο ποδήλατο, ούτε παιχνίδια.

Αυτό που θέλω, όχι για εμένα, αλλά για τους γονείς μου, είναι μια καινούρια διεύθυνση, ένα σπίτι, και μέσα σε αυτό, ένα γραφείο για να βολέψω τα βιβλία του σχολείου και τα καινούρια μου μολύβια. Μόνο αυτό. Ξέρω πως εδώ που βρίσκομαι τώρα δε θα με βρεις, αλλά ελπίζω πως όταν φτάσουμε στον προορισμό μας να μας περιμένει ένα μικρό, ζεστό σπιτάκι. Για εμένα και τους γονείς μου.

Σε ευχαριστώ πολύ.

*Αναδημοσίευση από ΤΟ ΒΗΜΑ

Πηγή:Νέος Κόσμος

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Αυστραλία:Γκάφα με πτήση της Malaysia Airlines

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Αν δεν εντόπισε το λάθος ο πιλότος θα προσγειωνόταν στη Μελβούρνη αντί Κουάλα Λούμπουρ

Έντονη έκπληξη δοκίμασε ο πιλότος μιας πτήσης που αναχώρησε τη μέρα των Χριστουγέννων από το αεροδρόμιο του Όκλαντ με προορισμό την Κουάλα Λουμπούρ, όταν διαπίστωσε ότι το σχέδιο πτήσης που του είχαν δώσει, οδηγούσε το αεροπλάνο στη διαμετρικά αντίθετη κατεύθυνση που θα έπρεπε να πετάει.

Περίπου οκτώ λεπτά μετά την απογείωση, ο πιλότος της πτήσης MH132 διαπίστωσε ότι το αεροσκάφος αντί να κατευθύνεται βόρεια, όπως θα έπρεπε, κατευθυνόταν νότια, προς τη Μελβούρνη.

Σύμφωνα με την εφημερίδα «New Zealand Herland», αποφάσισε τότε να επικοινωνήσει με τους ελεγκτές εναέριας κυκλοφορίας στο Όκλαντ, προκειμένου να μάθει γιατί το σχέδιο πτήσης που του είχαν δώσει δεν ακολουθούσε τη συνηθισμένη πορεία, πετώντας απευθείας προς τη Μαλαισία.

Όπως τον πληροφόρησαν από το κέντρο ελέγχου, επρόκειτο για λάθος και έτσι ο πιλότος πήρε τον χειροκίνητο έλεγχο του αεροσκάφους, του άλλαξε πορεία και διέσχισε τη Θάλασσα της Τασμανίας με βορειοδυτική κατεύθυνση προς τη μαλαισιανή πρωτεύουσα.

Όπως αναφέρει ο τοπικός Τύπος, οι επιβάτες δεν ενημερώθηκαν για το μπέρδεμα κατά τη διάρκεια της πτήσης, ενώ εκπρόσωπος της Airways, του παρόχου υπηρεσιών πλοήγησης αεροσκαφών της Νέας Ζηλανδίας, δήλωσε ότι το συμβάν θα διερευνηθεί από τον τομέα της που είναι υπεύθυνος για την ασφάλεια.

«Το σχέδιο πτήσης είχε προορισμό την Κουάλα Λουμπούρ, αλλά μέσω διαφορετικού δρομολογίου από εκείνο που είχε συνηθίσει ο πιλότος», είπε ο εκπρόσωπος.

Αν και οι πτήσεις που αναχωρούν από το Ώκλαντ, μερικές φορές κάνουν «παράκαμψη» πετώντας πάνω από τη νότια Αυστραλία για να αποφύγουν τους μετωπικούς ανέμους, αυτή τη φορά επρόκειτο σίγουρα για λάθος, αφού το αεροσκάφος έφτασε πολύ μακριά.

«Ο πιλότος έκανε πολύ καλά που το παρατήρησε και υπέβαλλε ερώτημα αντί να ακολουθήσει το σχέδιο τυφλά και να βρεθεί στον Νότιο Ωκεανό», παρατήρησε ο Peter Clark, Νεοζηλανδός δημοσιογράφος.

Πηγή:Νέος Κόσμος

Στον ομογενή Πολ Αλιβιζάτο το Εθνικό Μετάλλιο Επιστημών των ΗΠΑ

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Θεωρείται διεθνώς αυθεντία στη νανοτεχνολογία

Ο πρόεδρος των ΗΠΑ, Μπαράκ Ομπάμα, θα τιμήσει τον ομογενή καθηγητή Χημείας του Πανεπιστημίου της Καλιφόρνια-Μπέρκλεϊ, Πολ Αλιβιζάτο, σε ειδική τελετή στον Λευκό Οίκο, όπου θα του απονείμει το Εθνικό Μετάλλιο Επιστημών, το ανώτατο βραβείο για τους κορυφαίους επιστήμονες των ΗΠΑ, το οποίο απονέμεται για την μακροχρόνια προώθηση των επιστημών και της τεχνολογίας στη χώρα, όπως ανακοινώθηκε από τον Λευκό Οίκο.

Ο Δρ. Αλιβιζάτος, που κατέχει την θέση του διευθυντή του Εθνικού Εργαστηρίου, Λόρενς Μπέρκλεϊ, θεωρείται διεθνώς αυθεντία στη νανοτεχνολογία, κυρίως στην κατασκευή νανοκρυστάλλων και τη χρήση τους σε εφαρμογές ηλιακής ενέργειας. Θα τιμηθεί μαζί με άλλους τέσσερις επιστήμονες μετά το Νέο Έτος.

Οι άλλοι βραβευθέντες είναι ο Δρ. Μάικλ Άρτιν από το MIT, ο Δρ. ‘Αλμπερτ Μπαντούρα από το Στάνφορντ, ο Δρ. Στάνλεϊ Φάλκο από την Ιατρική Σχολή Στάνφορντ και η Δρ. Σίρλεϊ Ανν Τζάκσον από το Πολυτεχνείο Rensselaer.

Πηγή:Νέος Κόσμος

Αυστραλία:Συνεχίζεται η καθίζηση της δημοτικότητας του Bill Shorten

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Σε ιστορικά χαμηλά επίπεδα η δημοτικότητα του αρχηγού της αντιπολίτευσης, ακόμα και στη Βικτώρια.

Σταθερό προβάδισμα του Συνασπισμού και μεγάλα ποσοστά επιδοκιμασίας του έργου που έχει επιτελέσει μέχρι τώρα ο πρωθυπουργός της χώρας, Malcolm Turnbull, από τους ψηφοφόρους αποκαλύπτει συγκριτική ανάλυση των δημοσκοπήσεων που διεξήγε η Newspoll για την εφημερίδα «The Australian», καθώς o κ. Turnbull κατάφερε να «κατατροπώσει» τον πολιτικό του αντίπαλο, Bill Shorten, ακόμα και στην Πολιτεία του, τη Βικτώρια. Όπως προκύπτει, από πέρυσι τον Δεκέμβριο έως τώρα ο κ. Shorten έχασε 14 ποσοστιαίες μονάδες και η δημοτικότητά του στη Βικτώρια βρίσκεται στο 25%, το χαμηλότερο ποσοστό που έχει παρατηρηθεί τα τελευταία 12 χρόνια, για αρχηγό του Εργατικού Κόμματος στην Πολιτεία αυτή.

Σύμφωνα, μάλιστα, με πολιτικούς αναλυτές, αν συνεχισθεί η «κατολίσθηση» της δημοτικότητας του κ. Shorten στη Βικτώρια, θεωρείται σχεδόν βέβαιο ότι το κόμμα του θα χάσει τις έδρες McEwen, Bruce, Bendigo και Chisholm.

Όπως προκύπτει από τη συγκριτική ανάλυση των τελευταίων δημοσκοπήσεων του έτους, ο κ. Turnbull μέσα στις πρώτες 100 μέρες από την ημέρα που ανέλαβε την πρωθυπουργία κατάφερε -σε κάποιες περιπτώσεις- να διπλασιάσει τον αριθμό των ψηφοφόρων που δηλώνουν ικανοποιημένοι με το έργο του, σε σχέση με αυτούς που εξέφραζαν την ικανοποίησή τους για το έργο του προκατόχου του, Tony Abbott.

Πιο αναλυτικά, σε όλες τις Πολιτείες της Αυστραλίας, το Κόμμα Φιλελευθέρων προηγείται ενώ το ποσοστό που συγκεντρώνει το Εργατικό Κόμμα σ’ αυτές είναι μικρότερο του 40%. Στο Queensland το ποσοστό των ψηφοφόρων του Εργατικού Κόμματος έπεσε κατά 5% και κυμαίνεται στο 35%, όπως και στη Δυτική Αυστραλία. Στη Νότια Αυστραλία το ανάλογο ποσοστό κυμαίνεται στο 36%, ενώ στην Νέα Νότια Ουαλία σημείωσε πτώση δύο μονάδων και το Εργατικό Κόμμα συγκεντρώνει μόλις το 34% των προτιμήσεων των ψηφοφόρων.

Σε αντίθεση, η συγκριτική ανάλυση των δημοσκοπήσεων της Newspoll καταγράφει άνοδο της ψήφου της κυβέρνησης στην πρώτη καταμέτρηση κατά εννέα ποσοστιαίες μονάδες, διαμορφώνοντάς την στο 48% στη Δυτική Αυστραλία. Την ίδια στιγμή, στη Βικτώρια το ποσοστό ψήφου υπέρ της κυβέρνησης ανέβηκε στο 44%, ενώ στις Πολιτείες του Queensland και της Νέας Νότιας Ουαλίας η ψήφος της κυβέρνησης σημείωσε, επίσης, ανοδική πορεία και διαμορφώνεται στο 45 και 46% αντίστοιχα.

Πηγή:Νέος Κόσμος

Who really is Santa Claus?

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Saint Nicholas of Asia Minor might be able to shed some divine light on this matter.

Santa Claus, that rather paunchy, silver-haired guy who magically appears every Christmas, is one of the great cultural icons of modern times. So popular is he that commercial industries are created around him and even our esteemed national leaders get in on the act. But where did this guy come from? Was he just another invention of international shopping conglomerates to sell more products at the end of the year? You will be rather surprised by his origins.

My tour guide to the ancient Greek site of Ephesus, near Kusadeci (highly-recommended site to visit), told me that Santa Claus had originated from Turkey. Intrigued but not entirely convinced, I decided to find out what I could about Santa Claus, or rather Saint Nicholas, who indeed existed in what today is known as Turkey.

Saint Nicholas is arguably the most revered saint in the Orthodox and Catholic worlds, and in keeping with my fascination with Byzantine (medieval) Greece, I discovered that he was alive and prominent during the early Byzantine years. That period commenced in AD324, when the great Byzantine Emperor Constantine renamed the city of Byzantium, Constantinople. The empire of the Greeks would last for over 1,100 years, until 1453.

Saint Nicholas was born in the Greek village of Patara in Asia Minor (Mediterranean Turkey) to a very wealthy merchant family, perhaps in the year AD280. Nicholas became the bishop of Myra, another Greek city in Asia Minor, and dedicated his life to helping the poor and the vulnerable, with a soft spot for working with women at risk of prostitution and children.

Nicholas spent his entire fortune on providing secret gifts to people, the beginning of the Santa gift-giving phenomenon (well before it was greatly encouraged by toy factories and department stores).

Nicholas was also an advocate for prisoners and those who were unfairly denied justice, perhaps a prelude to modern day legal aid. (If only he could pay a visit to Guantanamo Bay.) Life was not always simple for Nicholas. He spent time in exile and prison for his religious beliefs, as there were various occasions before the rise of Byzantine Emperor Constantine when pagan Roman emperors felt it necessary to punish ‘non-believers’.

There are many stories to tell of Nicholas, and while he was certainly no old guy with grey hair who loved nothing better than scoffing pudding and milk, he was in fact an energetic man who performed a number of miracles.

As protector of children, he brought back to life a number of children who were killed by an evil innkeeper. Nicholas had had a dream whereby the evil innkeeper killed the children and placed them in a barrel. The next day he used his magic and a few prayers to bring them back to life and so it is that today, Nicholas is the patron saint of children. He is also the patron saint of sailors, students, criminals, captives, merchants, paupers, travellers … the list goes on.

Another story that I came across relates to the dowries of young women. If a family was poor, and they could not offer their daughters to prospective husbands, inevitably it meant these women would find themselves in a world of prostitution and unsavoury men. In order to protect the women in his city, Nicholas would secretly throw bags of money through windows and chimneys – giving rise to the myth that Santa Claus comes down the chimney.

Nicholas, which means ‘victory to the people’ in Greek, would certainly live up to his name during his lifetime. The Bishop of Myra dedicated his entire life to worthy ideals and died of natural causes on December 6, AD343. He is the patron saint not only for Greece and many other Orthodox countries, he is also revered in places such as Belgium, Italy, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, and France. Across the world, there are over 2,000 churches named in his honour. After the baptism of Vladimir I of Russia in Constantinople in the 900s, the Tsar brought back countless stories of Nicholas for his people to hear, ensuring that he became the patron Saint of Russia.

Nicholas’ tomb is surprisingly not in modern day Turkey, it is actually in the Italian city of Bari. It was taken to this former Byzantine stronghold by Bari sailors in 1087 against the wishes of the Greek clergy in order to safeguard his bones from the growing power of the Ottoman Turks, who had by this time made an appearance in Asia Minor. The feast day of Saint Nicholas is held on December 6 and every year cities and villages in Europe celebrate while parents secretly provide presents (or is it actually Nicholas?). In Bari, the sailors enjoy a regatta in the harbour to mark his feast day.

So how did he evolve into Santa Claus from the humble Greek bishop? Saint Nicholas was changed to Sentz Miklos to fit into the German vernacular. Early settlers to America continued the traditions, while the name developed to Santa Claus. The Americans have a knack for storytelling and imagination, and by the 20th century, Santa Claus had developed a peculiar look and a very unique outfit.

As for why the celebration of Santa Claus was moved to December 25, one can argue that businesses and merchants came to realise that it would be a clever commercial decision, while others have said that it was intentional to ensure that it did not clash with the existing date for Saint Nicholas’ feast day celebrations. Whatever the reason, he brings enormous joy and a sense of fun to children. This can never be underestimated.

The down side in all of this is the fact that very few people (myself included) were actually aware of his origins. These days the city of Myra is known as Demre in Turkey and there are two statues proudly on display in his honour, one donated by the Russian government and the other from local authorities.

It is disappointing that the Greek origins of Nicholas have largely been forgotten. Even in Greece, the significant role that Saint Nicholas played in creating the mythical Santa Claus is not widely understood.

*Billy Cotsis is a freelance writer and director of Draconian Decision of the German Drachma.

source:neos kosmos

Remembering the ANZAC POWs at Pylos and Methoni:ANZAC veteran honoured

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On Sunday 13 December the government of the Hellenic Republic, represented by the Hellenic Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Mr Charalampos Dafaranos, and accompanied by a small gathering, celebrated the 98th birthday and honoured the service of Bill Rudd, an Anzac veteran from the Second World War.

Essendon-born Bill Rudd served in the Middle East as a Sapper in the 2/7th Field Company, Royal Australian Engineers. He was captured by the Germans during a ferocious engagement as part of the great battle of El Alamein – a battle which began the defeat of the Axis powers in North Africa.

In August 1942 Bill was transported from Benghazi in Libya aboard the Nino Bixio, an Italian transport ship, along with 2,000 other Allied POWs, headed for an internment camp in Italy. POW ships were not identified as such and were often victims of enemy attack.

In waters south west of Greece, 12 nautical miles south west of Pylos, at 4.33 pm on 17 August, Bill’s ship was torpedoed by an Allied submarine. Around 400 of Bill’s comrades were killed in the ensuing tragedy. Many were killed or died in the holds of the ship, as water gushed in and debris crashed on top of them.

At Pylos, the dead and wounded were removed from the ship, the dead being buried temporarily at Pylos. Some of the wounded were taken on Italian hospital ships to Italy. The survivors were taken to the great castle at Pylos. Later they would be transported north and eventually to Italian POW camps.

Bill would escape his captors and see out the war in neutral Switzerland.

The Allied dead and those missing presumed dead would eventually be buried at Athens’ Allied War Cemetery at Phaleron, in war cemeteries in Italy or memorialised at the El Alamein War Cemetery in Egypt.

The Allied submarine – the HMS Turbulent – had only days before its tragic encounter with Bill’s ship been engaged in taking on and dropping off Allied SOE agents and Greek resistance fighters off Crete and Pylos.

Bill has dedicated his life to ensuring that the story of his fellow Allied POWs in Europe is not forgotten, creating and maintaining an excellent website that is linked to the Australian War Memorial.

But particularly, Bill has been hoping that the service and lives of those who suffered in the tragedy of the Nino Bixio in 1942 – and the earlier similar tragedy of the Sebastiano Venier in December 1941 off Methoni – are commemorated in Greece.

A special guest was Mr Nick Georgopoulos, who as an adolescent in Methoni had helped bury some of the dead of the Sebastiano Venier in 1941. He recounted how he had never forgotten that day and the brave Allied soldiers he helped to lay to rest. But one of his fondest memories was of the survivors marching out of Methoni giving the ‘V’ for Victory sign and singing loudly the British marching song, It’s A Long Way To Tipperary.

Mr George Iliopoulis, president of Melbourne’s Panpylian Brotherhood of Navarino, along with Cr Jim Grivokostopoulos, president of the Pantryfilian Association of Melbourne and Victoria, and Paul Sougleris, secretary of the Federation of Messinian Organisations Melbourne and Victoria, are working to make Bill’s desire for a memorial at Pylos and Methoni a reality. In this, they are being assisted by myself.

They are also working to this end with Sydney-based Ms Rhonda Cousens-Georgopoulos and her husband, Peter Georgopoulos, the nephew of Nick Georgopoulos, who have completed much field research into the story.

Mr Iliopoulos, a native of Pylos, presented Bill with a birthday present including produce from the Pylos-Methoni region.

He said that it was an honour both for him and the Panpylian Brotherhood to assist in the erection of a memorial to those like Bill who suffered in these two POW tragedies off the coast of Pylos and Methoni.

“Bill represents one of the enduring links between Greece and Australia. His dedication to the memory of his comrades does great credit to him and is stimulus for us to complete his vision,” he said.

Bill celebrated his 98th birthday with his family on 7 December. Days later, on 9 December, it was the 74th anniversary of the torpedoing of the Sebastiano Venier off Methoni.

The ambassador said that it was honour to meet Mr Rudd and that he had earned the title of palikari.

Among others present at the gathering were Mr Peter Ford, whose father Frank fought with the 2nd NZ Expeditionary Force in Greece and Crete in the Second World War, and Mr Steve Kyritsis of the RSL Hellenic Sub-Branch.

Those interested in supporting the proposal to build a lasting memorial to the Anzac POW’s of Methoni and Pylos should contact Mr George Ilipoulos via email – giliopou@bigpond.net.au

* Jim Claven is a historian, freelance writer and secretary of the Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee. A Philhellene, he has written extensively on the Hellenic link to Anzac and worked to raise awareness of this link across two world wars in Australia and Greece. One of the major projects he has worked on is The Lemnos Gallipoli Memorial in Albert Park, unveiled in August 2015. He is now completing a major new commemorative book on Lemnos and Gallipoli, and assisting the above project to honor the memory of those Allied soldiers who suffered in the Nino Bixio and Sebastiano Venier tragedies off Pylos and Methoni.

source:neos kosmos

Brussels cancels NYE celebrations, Turkey attack plots foiled with arrests

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Washington: New Year’s Eve celebrations have been cancelled in Belgium’s capital, Brussels, due to fears of a militant attack, as the city remains on high alert following the Paris terrorism attacks in November.

Brussels mayor Yvan Mayeur told Belgian broadcaster RTBF public festivities planned in the heart of the city would not go ahead.

“Unfortunately we have been forced to cancel the fireworks and all that was planned for tomorrow [Thursday] evening and that would have brought a lot of people together in the centre of Brussels, following a risk analysis by the crisis centre,” Mr Mayeur told Belgian broadcaster RTBF.

Authorities said on Tuesday that two men had been arrested during house searches in different parts of the country in connection with suspected plots to unleash Islamic State-inspired attacks in Brussels.

Belgium’s state security agency said the planned attacks had “the same style” as last month’s rampage in Paris that killed 130 people. IS asserted responsibility for the Paris attacks.

“Together with the interior minister, we’ve decided to not have the celebrations on Thursday evening,” Mr Mayeur said.

The two people arrested, who were likely to appear in court on Thursday, belong to the Kamikaze Riders, a motorbike club whose members are mostly of North African origin and whose bike stunts can be seen in various online videos.

Two of the Paris suicide bombers, Brahim Abdeslam and Bilal Hadfi, had been living in Belgium. On Wednesday, a source close to the French investigation confirmed a report that said at least one man was suspected of having co-ordinated the attacks by mobile phone from Belgium as they were being carried out.

Brussels last cancelled its New Year fireworks in 2007, when it was also on high alert after a plan was foiled to free Tunisian Nizar Trabelsi, convicted of plotting to blow up a military base.

It comes as security concerns plague New Year’s Eve celebrations around the world.

Police in Turkey have detained two suspected IS extremists over a suicide bombing plot during New Year’s Eve celebrations in the country’s capital of Ankara, state media reported on Wednesday.

“They were caught before they had the opportunity to take action,” the Turkish prosecutor’s office said.

The raid underscored the sweeping security precautions in place across the world for holiday events beginning on Thursday. Nearly all major cities plan stepped-up police patrols and surveillance, ranging from London’s fireworks display to New York’s Times Square festivities.

The Ankara prosecutor’s office said the men – both Turkish citizens – had staked out possible attack locations in Ankara. The state-run Anadolu Agency, quoting police and judiciary officials, said the potential bombing sites included areas near bars and a shopping mall.

Turkey’s private NTV news channel, quoting security sources, said the two had “frequently” travelled to and from Syria, where IS holds territory and maintains its stronghold in the city of Raqqa. The report said security officials had been monitoring their movements for at least a month.

Turkish authorities said they seized a bomb-rigged vest for an apparent suicide attack, and a backpack containing an explosive device packed with ball bearings and metal shards.

Turkey, a NATO ally, had been a main pathway for IS recruits and supply lines, including oil smuggled from Syrian fields under the militants’ control. Turkey has not joined the US-led coalition conducting air strikes against IS targets in Syria and Iraq.

But Turkish officials allow US warplanes to use a base near the Syrian border and have taken steps to tighten border controls.

In October, two suicide attackers detonated bombs outside Ankara’s main train station during a peace rally, killing more than 100 people. Turkish officials claim the attack was linked to IS.
source:smh.com.au

 

 

Tasmanian Devils’ Mysterious Cancer May Come in Two Varieties

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The Tasmanian devil has long been known to suffer from an unusual type of cancer that can spread from animal to animal, but now researchers say the endangered species is plagued by at least two kinds of infectious cancer.

The finding suggests that Tasmanian devils are especially prone to the emergence of contagious tumors, and that transmissible cancers may arise more frequently in nature than previously thought, scientists added.

Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) are marsupials, like kangaroos and opossums; females have pouches to carry and suckle newborns. The furry, dog-size mammals are found only on the island of Tasmania, which sits about 150 miles (240 kilometers) south of Australia. Fossil evidence suggests that Tasmanian devils were once spread across the Australian mainland, but disappeared from the area about 400 years ago.

Devils are known for their offensive smell, disturbing screeches and viciousness while eating. These creatures became the largest living carnivorous marsupial in the world after another species, called the thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, went extinct in 1936.

Farmers considered the devils pests to livestock, and many of the animals were killed before the species became officially protected in 1941. The Tasmanian devil is not only a key tourism icon for Tasmania, but also ecologically critical to the island’s native ecosystem.

Now, the devils are bedeviled by contagious facial tumors that kill the animals within a year of reaching maturity. The disease was first reported in 1996 at a site in northeast Tasmania. By 2007, the disease had spread across more than half of the devils’ home range. Some populations of the animal have lost up to 89 percent of their members because of this epidemic. Researchers say extinction of devils is possible unless officials can find a way to eradicate the disease.

The disease is spread through biting during fights over food and during mating. (The only other known infectious cancer that can spread through bites occurs in dogs and is known as canine transmissible venereal tumor.)

Previous research suggested that the cancer, which is called devil facial tumor disease (DFTD), originated from a genetic mutation in nerve cells in a single, female Tasmanian devil. In devils that have the disease, cancerous lesions around the mouth, face and neck grow to the point that they prevent the animals from eating, and eventually starving them to death. There are no treatments for the cancer, and it is currently 100 percent fatal.

In the new research, scientists discovered that devils are actually suffering from at least two different transmissible cancers.

“Transmissible cancers are extremely rare, but for two [to occur] in the one species, astonishing,” said study co-author Gregory Woods, an immunologist at the University of Tasmania. “Maybe transmissible cancers are more common than we believe.”

This second type of transmissible cancer in devils, known as DFT2, has been detected in eight devils in southeast Tasmania. It causes facial tumors just like the disease seen before, now dubbed DFT1.

However, DFT2 is genetically distinct from DFT1. For instance, DFT2 possesses a Y chromosome, which means it came from a male and not from a female, as DFT1 did.

The researchers made the discovery when they were growing DFTD1 cells in lab dishes in order to study them, and noticed the cells were behaving slightly unusually, Woods told Live Science. “When we discovered and confirmed the second case, we were absolutely astonished. We almost didn’t believe our own work.”

It remains uncertain why devils are especially susceptible to such cancers. Previous research suggested one culprit is the extremely low level of genetic diversity in the devil population, which is due to their small numbers. Since all living devils are so genetically similar, their immune systems may not easily recognize invading tumor cells as foreigners.

Scientists are seeking to develop a vaccine to help the devils fight against DFT1, but those plans may now need an update, researchers said. “Our vaccine research may have to include this new cancer,” Woods said.

Future research investigating whether transmissible cancers are more widespread than currently thought should analyze “species that are frequently in physical contact,” Woods said.

The scientists detailed their findings online Dec. 28 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

source:livescience.com

Australia:National road toll rises to 25

A police car monitors traffic at the launch of the nation wide police campaign RAID in Canberra, Friday, Nov. 21, 2008. RAID (Remove All Impaired Drivers) is aimed at detecting and removing all alcohol and/or drug affected drivers from the nation's roads in the period leading up to the Christmas and New Year holiday period. (AAP Image/Alan Porritt) NO ARCHIVING

A police car monitors traffic at the launch of the nation wide police campaign RAID in Canberra, Friday, Nov. 21, 2008. RAID (Remove All Impaired Drivers) is aimed at detecting and removing all alcohol and/or drug affected drivers from the nation’s roads in the period leading up to the Christmas and New Year holiday period. (AAP Image/Alan Porritt) NO ARCHIVING

Three separate crashes in NSW and Victoria have pushed the country’s national holiday road toll to 25.

A female driver was killed when two cars collided head-on in Whittingham, northwest of Newcastle yesterday afternoon.

Hours later, a 28-year-old motorcyclist died after hitting a tree in Matraville.

While in Melbourne two people were killed after their car slammed into a tree and burst into flames.

The Northern Territory is the only state or territory not to have recorded any road deaths during the holiday toll period, which began last Wednesday.

The national road toll period runs from 0001 December 23, 2015 to 2359 January 3, 2016 local times

source:skynews.com.au

Cesc Fabregas on the way to Italy!

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Cesc Fabregas high of last season came crashing down as he was embroiled in all kind of negativity this season around at Chelsea FC and it appears two Italian giants will be looking to land him in the summer.

The 28-year-old midfielder had a drastic change in fortunes this season for the Blues as he went from being the number one assist maker in the Premier League last season to finding himself on the bench on numerous occasions this time around.

Fabregas is even rumored to have handed in a transfer request at Chelsea FC, which would not be surprising as he has found himself in the eye of the storm during the Jose Mourinho sacking saga. He was reported as one of the players who was against the Portugese manager and was one of the trio of Blues players, including Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, who were labelled as rats and booed by their own fans following Mourinho’s departure from the club.

Italy calling

The former Arsenal and Barcelona player could well be on the move to Italy, as local newspapers there have suggested that he is attracting interest from Italian clubs Juventus and Internazionale and one of the two could well be his next destination, if his status in Chelsea does not change.

According to The Daily Mail, “Milan or Turin could suit the 28-year-old… Juventus lost a number of key players in the summer and with Paul Pogba constantly linked with a move to Spain, Fabregas could prove a worthy addition if he can rekindle his form.

A new and improved Inter Milan may need to prepare for Champions League football next season, with Roberto Mancini’s side currently top of the league.”

source:theheraldtackel.com