London, Dec 12 (IANS) Anti-apartheid hero and South Africa’s first black President Nelson Mandela, currently being treated in a hospital for a lung infection, has made progress, BBC reported Wednesday.
Mandela, 94, was rushed to a military hospital in Pretoria Saturday.
Doctors attending him were “satisfied with the way he is responding to treatment”, said a statement from President Jacob Zuma’s office.
Mandela is one of the world’s most-loved figures after spending 27 years in prison during the apartheid.
The former president, fondly referred to as Madiba, led the struggle against white-minority rule before being elected the first black president in 1994.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
“We continue to request that Madiba and his family be accorded the necessary space and privacy and thank the media and the public for cooperation,” the statement from the presidency said.
Mandela was last admitted to hospital in February when he was treated for abdominal pain. In January 2011, he was treated for a serious chest infection.
While in prison in the 1980s, Mandela was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and his lungs are said to have been damaged when he worked in a prison quarry.
Mandela retired from public life in 2004.
Moscow, Dec 12 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Russian President Vladimir Putin in his state-of-the-nation address Wednesday warned against foreign interference in the country’s domestic affairs.
Putin also targeted local political actors who get money from abroad.
“Direct or indirect interference from outside in our internal political processes is unacceptable,” he said.
Someone “who receives money from abroad for his political activity, and in doing so certainly serves other (countries’) national interests, cannot be a politician in the Russian Federation”, he said.
With this, Putin reiterated concerns over foreign meddling in Russian politics that have been particularly acute since the outbreak of mass public protests last year.
At the time, Putin, then prime minister, made international headlines for claiming the street protests had been funded by the US State Department, a charge Washington has denied.
A current high-profile criminal case against one of the protest leaders involves accusations that he received funding to overthrow the Russian government from a Georgian politician. All the accused have also denied wrongdoing.
Putin asserted that, in politics, Russia has no option but democracy, but emphasised that the country has “its own traditions of popular self-rule”, and Russian democracy does not mean “the implementation of standards imposed on us from outside”.
Moscow, Dec 12 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The recognition by the US of Syria’s opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people shows that Washington is gambling on a military victory by the coalition, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday.
“I was somewhat surprised to learn that the US, through its president, has recognised the national coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people,” he said.
“That is at odds with the agreements recorded in the Geneva communique calling for an all-Syria dialogue between the country’s government representatives on the one hand and the opposition on the other,” Lavrov said.
Syria’s opposition coalition has declared its refusal to negotiate with the government and defined its chief goal as regime change, Lavrov recalled.
Moscow will seek clarification of the US position on Syria, he added.
“In the course of consultations (three days ago in Geneva), we had the impression that the Americans understand the need for an all-Syrian dialogue with the government’s participation,” Lavrov said.
US President Barack Obama said Tuesday the US has decided formally to recognise the Syrian opposition rebel coalition that is fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
“We’ve made a decision that the Syrian Opposition Coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in opposition to the Assad regime,” Obama said in an interview with the ABC TV network.
He described the move as a “big step”.
In a summary of the interview posted on its website, ABC news said the move did not include a decision to provide weapons to the Syrian rebels but opened the door to that possibility in the future.
The National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was formed Nov 11 in Doha, Qatar, and proclaimed itself the legitimate representative of the Syrian people. Its legitimacy has since been recognized by France, Britain and several other countries.
“Obviously, with that recognition comes responsibilities,” Obama said.
“To make sure that they organise themselves effectively, that they are representative of all the parties, (and) that they commit themselves to a political transition that respects women’s rights and minority rights.”
Copenhagen, Dec 12 (IANS) All trains at the Copenhagen Central Station were suspended Wednesday after a suspicious package was found inside the station, Xinhua reported.
Police said they received a call from a station staff member at 12.42 p.m., saying a suspicious package was found inside a train on Track 5.
The entire station was evacuated and all rail traffic to and from the station was ceased, Denmark’s railway firm DSB said.
Police were trying to locate the owner of the package.
London, Dec 12 (IANS) A digital version of a fragile 2,000-year-old copy of the Ten Commandments will be put online, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.
The Nash Papyrus – one of the most significant religious documents in the world – will be placed on the internet by Cambridge University.
It is among 25,000 new images made available by the university library.
Other manuscripts include one of the most remarkable ancient copies of the New Testament, The Codex Bezae, thought to date from the fourth century.
Another important historic text that has been released is the tenth-century Book of Deer, which is widely believed to be the oldest surviving Scottish manuscript and contains the earliest known examples of written Gaelic, according to the Mail.
Cambridge is also beginning to release digital versions of its library’s Islamic and Sanskrit collections, which include both secular and religious texts.
The Islamic manuscripts collection includes some of the earliest surviving Qurans, while the Library’s Sanskrit manuscripts cover all the major religious traditions of South Asia and include some of the oldest known manuscripts of key religious texts.
The Polonsky Foundation charity has helped to fund the digitisation of much of the new content on the website, the Mail added. It aims to make the world’s intellectual treasures freely available to a global audience.
London, Dec 12 (IANS) A teacher in France has been suspended after asking a class of teenagers to write suicide notes.
The man, who has not been named, is a French teacher at the Antoine-Delafont school in Montmoreau-Saint-Cybard, near Angouleme, France, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.
He told the 13- to 14-year-olds to imagine what they would say to themselves if they were about to end their lives out of “disgust” for their lives.
The assignment, set in October, read: “You’ve just turned 18. You’ve decided to end your life. Your decision is definitive.
“In a final surge you decide to put in words the reason behind your decision. In the style of a self-portrait, you describe the disgust you have for yourself. Your text will retrace certain events in your life at the origin of these feelings.”
Jean-Marie Renault, the school head, confirmed that the teacher had now been “officially notified” of his suspension, following complaints from parents, the Mail added.
London, Dec 12 (IANS) Trafficking of wildlife products is one of the world’s biggest illegal trades worth 12 billion pounds ($19 billion) a year, conservationists have warned.
Species such as rhinos, elephants and tigers are being poached in Africa and Asia, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said.
Exhibits of rhino heads at British museums have also been targeted by thieves as criminals seek to cash in on demand for rhino horn as a cancer medicine or “hangover cure” in Asia, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.
Across the world, illegal trade in wildlife including timber and unregulated and unreported fishing has become a lucrative business for criminal syndicates, with profits that can be used to finance civil conflicts and terrorism, a report for WWF found.
It is also pushing some species to the brink of extinction, hitting local communities in some of the poorest parts of the world and raising the threat of spreading infectious diseases.
The internet is also making it easier for criminals to trade in illegal products around the world, the research by Dalberg Global Development Advisors warned.
The report warned that species with high value to illegal traders had seen dramatic declines in recent years.
London, Dec 12 (IANS) A cockerel threatened with the chop over his noisy crowing has been saved after the sole complainant was driven out of the village in Britain where he lived, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.
Reg the rooster was branded a potential “noise nuisance” by his Weymouth and Portland Council after a newcomer to the rural community took issue with the bird’s 5 a.m. wake-up call.
Officials warned Simon Grant-Jones, owner of the rare leghorn exchequer specimen, that checks would be made to see if Reg’s crowing was excessive and action could be taken.
But the threat sparked a village revolt against the unidentified “townie” who complained, starting with a petition, according to the Mail.
It was signed by 160 people, more than half of the village population, and such was the ill-feeling towards the plaintiff it was said that he went into hiding.
He and his wife have now moved out of pretty Sutton Poyntz in Dorset after selling their large detached house for 430,000 pounds.
As a result the complaint is no longer valid and Reg has been spared, the newspaper added.
London, Dec 12 (IANS) We could refreeze the Arctic, and it wouldn’t even cost that much, say scientists. Two studies explore the possibility that a solution could be found to the problem of global warming melting the ice caps on the North Pole.
The scientist who is lead author of both the studies claims that “any significant nation” could find the resources to carry out the operation, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.
The only significant question, he says, is whether we should.
The amount of ice in the Arctic Ocean shrank to an all time low in September, with the total area covered now half what it was in the eighties.
David Keith, professor of applied physics at Harvard University, is lead author on papers published in Nature Climate Change and Environmental Research Letters which speculate as to how we could restore the polar ice, according to the Mail.
“The really hard questions here aren’t mostly technical. They’re questions about what kind of planet we want and who we are,” he told Canadian newspaper The Windsor Star.
Professor Keith used climate models to suggest that injecting reflective particles into the atmosphere could reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth, engineering a regional effect that could bring ice back to the Arctic.
His paper claims that by reducing the penetration of sunlight by just 0.5 percent could be possible to restore the sea-ice around the North Pole back to pre-industrial era levels.
London, Dec 12 (IANS) A Briton who fled the country two decades ago after a bitter divorce has resurfaced – as a Siberian peasant, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.
Michael Ware, originally from Exmoor, chose a dramatic change of lifestyle when he went to live in the far-flung village of Dubinka, three time-zones east of Moscow.
Ware, now 55, flew to Russia months after the fall of the Soviet Union and married a local girl, Tatiana, then 18.
Locals say they can no longer tell him apart from anyone else, but the farmer left one very important part of his life behind in Somerset – three children from his first marriage.
He said that missing his children was his only sorrow about his life in a land where temperatures this week are forecast to sink below -40 degrees Centigrade.
He adopted his new wife’s son from a previous relationship, Nikolai, and they had two more children together – Alexander, 18, and Veronika, 16, according to the Mail.
Ware, known as Mikhail, has 40 sheep, 14 cows, 10 hens and chickens, and two pigs, on the modest smallholding he runs with his wife. Some years, he has a horse for ploughing.
The village, population 15, lies 50 km down a dirt track that is impassable for much of the year, the Mail said.
He insists he will stay in his cold paradise for the rest of his life, but says he remains British.
London, Dec 12 (IANS) Six out of 10 men admit that it takes them just one minute to wrap a present – barely enough time to slap on a few pieces of sticky tape, a Dutch survey has found.
Women, however, are rather more thorough. Just over half say they spend at least three minutes on each present, adding ribbons and bows to make it look special, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.
The same effort – or lack of it – goes into the unwrapping.
A third of men rip the paper off a gift in 10 seconds or less, while only a fifth unwrap it carefully so they can use the paper again.
The figures are reversed for women, with a fifth counting themselves as “speedy rippers”, and just over a third saying they unwrap the paper carefully to reuse it.
The survey, of around 2,100 adults, was conducted by satnav firm TomTom.
London, Dec 12 (IANS) Patients at high risk of developing cancer could be prescribed regular doses of aspirin as a preventative measure, British experts say.
There is widespread evidence that taking the pain-killer on a daily basis can cut the chances of developing the illness by up to a third, the Daily Mail reported Wednesday.
Next year, Britain will consider whether certain patients at risk of some cancers should be prescribed aspirin as a preventative measure.
The pain-killer has been shown to be particularly effective against bowel cancer – one of the most common forms of the disease – particularly if patients have a family history of the illness.
But it also causes stomach bleeds and ulcers, which are not usually fatal but often require hospital treatment.
As such, doctors would need to weigh up whether the protective benefits of aspirin outweighed its side-effects.
The plan emerged as the government’s cancer director warned that survival rates still lag behind other western countries, despite drastic efforts.