Archive for April, 2016

Sculptures and carvings dating back more than 1,700 years have been discovered in the remains of a shrine and its courtyard in the ancient city of Bazira. The sculptures illustrate the religious life of the city, telling tales from Buddhism and other ancient religions.

Also called Vajirasthana, Bazira is located the in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. It was first constructed as a small town, during the second century B.C., and eventually developed into a city located within the Kushan Empire. At its peak, this empire ruled territory extending from modern-day India to central Asia.

The Kushan Empire declined during the third century A.D., at the same time that a series of earthquakes ravaged Bazira. The damage caused by the earthquakes — and the financial problems brought about by the decline of the Kushan Empire — meant that Bazira gradually fell into ruin, with the city abandoned by the end of the third century.

Today, the ruins of Bazira are located near the modern-day village of Barikot. The Italian Archaeological Mission has been excavating Bazira since 1978, gradually unearthing remains of the ancient city. [See Photos of the Ancient City Ruins and Sculptures]

Source: Buddhist Sculptures Discovered in Ruins of Ancient Shrine

SAMANTHA Cameron has faced calls to step down as an ambassador for the charity Save the Children after her husband’s government refused to give shelter in Britain to 3,000 lone child refugees who had made their way to Europe from Middle East wars.

Nick Dearden, director of the development organisation Global Justice Now, formerly the World Development Movement, said her position as ambassador of a children’s charity was at odds with her husband’s refusal to protect desperate youngsters.

“It’s hard to see how Samantha Cameron can continue as an ambassador of an organisation like Save the Children when that position is a result of David Cameron’s role as Prime Minister in which he has decided to leave 3,000 unaccompanied children to their fate,” said Dearden.

“European governments like our own seem to be at war with refugees. Migrants entering Europe are being met with rubber bullets, war ships and militarised border fences. Now, the Westminster government has expended serious political capital simply to prevent 3,000 children entering this country. They should be ashamed of themselves.

“We cannot build a decent and humane society on the demonisation of other people – particularly when those people are suffering the after-effects of British foreign and economic policies.”

Source: Call for Samantha Cameron to give up ambassadorial role with Save the Children | News | The National

Spain’s Ferrovial said it won’t offer in future the service of running Australia’s controversial offshore detention centers for refugees and asylum seekers, after buying a controlling stake in the Australian firm that operates the centers.

Australia’s detention of refugees and asylum seekers in offshore detention centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru has previously drawn criticism from the United Nations. In a statement on Friday, Ferrovial said the company had completed a buyout of 59 percent of shares in Australia-listed Broadspectrum.

On Wednesday, Papua New Guinea’s Supreme Court ruled that a detention center in Manus Island housing more than 800 Australia-bound refugees was unlawful and the country’s government said it would shut the camp. Broadspectrum runs the facility.

“In relation to the provision of services at the regional processing centers in Nauru and Manus province, these services were not a core part of the valuation and the acquisition rationale of the offer, and it is not a strategic activity in Ferrovial’s portfolio,” the company said in a statement. “Ferrovial’s view is that this activity will not form part of its services offering in the future”.

Source: Ferrovial says won’t run Australia offshore detention centers in future | Reuters


Source: Paul Causton


A map showing Lawrence of Arabia’s proposals for the reconstruction of the Middle East following World War I is set to be displayed for the first time.

The newly-found map shows TE Lawrence opposed the allied agreement which eventually determined the borders of Iraq as it is now.

He said separate governments should operate in the predominantly Kurdish and Arab areas in what is now Iraq.

The map is to go on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.

It is just one of a number of previous unseen items in the museum’s new exhibition, Lawrence Of Arabia: The Life, The Legend.

Lawrence, who presented his proposals to the Eastern Committee of the War Cabinet in November 1918, also mooted the idea of separate governments for the Mesopotamian Arabs and Armenians in Syria.

Allied agreement

These proposed borders would have replaced those drawn up in the 1916 allied agreement, which was negotiated between Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot on behalf of Britain and France.

Lawrence’s stance was formed during the Arab Revolt of 1916/18 when he heard the views of men from across the Middle East who were serving in the army of Britain’s Arab allies against Turkey.

He was also in contact with other British experts on the region, such as DG Hogarth and Gilbert Clayton.

But Lawrence’s suggestions came across opposition by the British administration in Mesopotamia.

Jeremy Wilson, Lawrence biographer and historical adviser to the exhibition, said the discovery of the map was “particularly interesting” because “it suggests that Lawrence’s proposals were taken fairly seriously, at least in London”.

Mr Wilson added that the proposals “would have provided the region with a far better starting point than the crude imperial carve-up agreed by Sykes and Georges-Picot”.

Meanwhile, Hania Farhan, regional director of the Middle East and North Africa, Economist Intelligence Unit, said: “The map shows that the opinions of those who knew the region well were often ignored, as the colonial powers in London and Paris had their own agendas and did not appear to care about the facts on the ground or the people of those areas.

“Lawrence’s proposed borders differ substantially from those that ended up being put in place.”

The exhibition will run from 14 October to 17 April 2006.

It will also include the Brough Superior SS100 motorcycle Lawrence was riding when he had his fatal accident on 13 May 1935.

Source: BBC NEWS | UK | Lawrence’s Mid-East map on show

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