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Archive for January, 2011

Easy way to check your health

Good health is the key for a long and happy life, but how often do we go to the doctor and check our body from top to toe? Luckily for us, there are a few steps we can do ourselves at home.

1. Check your resting heart rate.

Resting heart rate indicates how effectively your heart is. When you exercise and get in better physical shape, your heart will be ever more efficient, pumping more blood around the body with each heartbeat. What you coach at the endurance exercise, oxygen uptake, endurance, and it is primarily the heart’s stroke volume – how much blood the heart pumps out per stroke – that increases and improves maximal oxygen uptake or improved condition. Resting heart rate is reduced when stroke volume increases; therefore, resting heart rate is an indication of fitness. An average heart beats about 60-80 beats each minute when the body is at rest.

How to test:
When you wake up in the morning before you stand up from bed, check your resting heart rate by placing the forefinger and middle finger lightly over the main arteries of the wrist or neck artery, which is about 2.5 cm from the trachea, on each side of the neck. Count your strokes in 15 seconds and multiply the number by four to get the number of beats per minute.
You can also test by using a heart rate monitor.

  • 30-40 beats per minute: Very well trained, at the elite level athlete.
  • 40-50 beats per minute: You are very healthy and well trained.
  • 50-60 beats per minute: Wanted: people usually have a resting pulse below 60, then you’re doing well.

65 + beats per minute: 60-70 beats per minute is considered normal. Is resting heart rate 75 or higher, then that is a sign of increased risk of heart attack, according to a Norwegian study. In other words, there is good reason to aim to reduce the resting heart rate with exercise. Be aware that some medications / drugs will affect heart rate. Some are born with naturally high resting heart rate even if the shape is good.

2. Check your eyes

The eyes can give you an indication of your cholesterol level. White matting around the edge of the iris of the eye could be a sign that the cholesterol is too high. High levels of cholesterol in the blood increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, like heart attacks

How to check your eyes:

Look at the iris of your eyes in a mirror. Is there white matting around the edge of the iris of the eye or a little inside? If so, this may be a sign of high cholesterol. Go to the doctor and take a blood test, and make sure your diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and oats, which lower the cholesterol.

3. The secret is in the waist measurement, the bigger the waist, the higher the risk for heart diseases.

Measurement of the waist:

Measure around your stomach between the lower rib and iliac crest while standing without any clothes on. It is important that you relax, do not hold your breath and breathing in the abdomen or exhale and balusters on the stomach.

* Women should be aware if the waistline is about 80 cm, and should take some measures if the waistline is about 88 cm or more.
* Men should be aware if the waistline is about 94 cm, and should do something if the waistline is about 102 cm or more.

A European study found that the risk of premature death is about twice as large for people with a lot of fat around the waist (more than 120 cm for men and more than 100 cm for women), compared with those with a narrow waist (smaller than 80 cm for men and less than 65 cm for women). The researchers behind the study believe the increased risk of premature death due to abdominal fat secretes substances and hormones that can help you develop chronic diseases, especially heart disease and cancer.

4. Check your responsiveness
How fast do you manage to grab something that is falling?

How to test?

Get somebody to hold a 30 cm long stick in front of you. The person shall keep the stick at the end where it says 30 cm, and the stick should be facing down. Place your hand on a level with 0-marked, with the thumb and index finger ready to intervene. Without warning, your friend will drop the ruler. You should grab it as quickly as you can, before it goes to the floor. Then, note the length of your finger where you grabbed the ruler.
Under 5 cm: Great
Under 10 cm: Average
Between 10 0g 29 cm: Are you sure that you get enough exercise and rest?
Boom: You can have low levels of potassium and need to exercise more.

5. Check your flexibility. One side of the body may be softer than the other.

To test your flexibility:
Stand with your right arm straight up in the air, bend your elbow so your hand hangs behind you. Raise your left arm up behind his back, as if to scratch between the shoulder blades, and try to obtain the other hand, as if you shake hands on yourself behind your back. Repeat on other side. Can you grasp your hands, you are very smooth. To touch the fingertips is the next best. By practicing this, you can improve your flexibility. It is normal to be softer on one side.

6. Check your brain

Your brain needs exercise just as much as the body to work and to strengthen your memory.

To test the brain:
Count backward from 100 for seven figures at a time (100 – 93 – 86 and so on) and try to get as low as you can without stopping. If you come down to 65 is considered a good result. To keep your mind focused, try to solve crosswords daily or read books as often as you can.

Note: These advices are just indicators and may not tell you how your health is 100%, though the best thing is to seek a professional doctor.

Important events on January 31st

  • 314 – Silvester I begins his reign as Pope of the Catholic Church, succeeding Pope Miltiades.
  • 1504 – France cedes Naples to Aragon.
  • 1606 – Gunpowder Plot: Guy Fawkes is executed for his plotting against Parliament and James I of England.
  • 1747 – The first venereal diseases clinic opens at London Lock Hospital.
  • 1814 – Gervasio Antonio de Posadas becomes Supreme Director of Argentina.
  • 1846 – After the Milwaukee Bridge War, Juneautown and Kilbourntown unified as the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • 1848 – John C. Fremont is court-martialed on grounds of mutiny and disobeying orders.
  • 1849 – Corn Laws are abolished in the United Kingdom (following legislation in 1846).
  • 1862 – Alvan Graham Clark discovers the white dwarf star Sirius B, a companion of Sirius, through an 18.5-inch telescope now located at Northwestern University.
  • 1865 – American Civil War: The United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, abolishing slavery, submitting it to the states for ratification.
  • 1865 – American Civil War: Confederate General Robert E. Lee becomes general-in-chief.
  • 1867 – Maronite nationalist leader Youssef Karam leaves Lebanon on board a French ship for Algeria
  • 1876 – The United States orders all Native Americans to move into reservations.
  • 1891 – The first attempt at a Portuguese republican revolution breaks out in the northern city of Porto.
  • 1900 – Datu Muhammad Salleh is assassinated in Kampung Teboh, Tambunan, ending the Mat Salleh Rebellion
  • 1915 – World War I: Germany uses poison gas against Russia
  • 1917 – World War I: Germany announces its U-boats will engage in unrestricted submarine warfare.
  • 1918 – A series of accidental collisions on a misty Scottish night leads to the loss of two Royal Navy submarines with over a hundred lives, and damage to another five British warships.
  • 1919 – The Battle of George Square takes place in Glasgow, Scotland.
  • 1929 – The Soviet Union exiles Leon Trotsky.
  • 1930 – 3M begins marketing Scotch Tape.
  • 1942 – World War II: Allied forces are defeated by the Japanese at the Battle of Malaya and retreat to the island of Singapore.
  • 1943 – German Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus surrenders to the Soviets at Stalingrad, followed 2 days later by the remainder of his Sixth Army, ending one of World War II’s fiercest battles.
  • 1944 – World War II: American forces land on Kwajalein Atoll and other islands in the Japanese-held Marshall Islands.
  • 1944 – World War II: During Anzio campaign 1st Ranger Battalion (Darby’s Rangers) is destroyed behind enemy lines in a heavily outnumbered encounter at Battle of Cisterna, Italy.
  • 1945 – US Army private Eddie Slovik is executed for desertion, the first such execution of an American soldier since the Civil War.
  • 1946 – Yugoslavia’s new constitution, modeling the Soviet Union, establishes six constituent republics (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia).
  • 1950 – President Harry S. Truman announces a program to develop the hydrogen bomb.
  • 1953 – A North Sea flood causes over 1,800 deaths in the Netherlands.
  • 1957 – Eight people on the ground in Pacoima, California are killed following the mid-air collision between a Douglas DC-7 airliner and a Northrop F-89 Scorpion fighter jet.
  • 1958 – Explorer program: Explorer 1 – The first successful launch of an American satellite into orbit.
  • 1958 – James Van Allen discovers the Van Allen radiation belt.
  • 1961 – Project Mercury: Mercury-Redstone 2 – Ham the Chimp travels into outer space.
  • 1966 – The Soviet Union launches the unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft as part of the Luna program.
  • 1968 – Viet Cong attack the United States embassy in Saigon, and other attacks, in the early morning hours, later grouped together as the Tet Offensive.
  • 1968 – Nauru gains independence from Australia.
  • 1971 – Apollo program: Apollo 14 Mission – Astronauts Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell, aboard a Saturn V, lift off for a mission to the Fra Mauro Highlands on the Moon.
  • 1971 – The Winter Soldier Investigation, organized by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War to publicize war crimes and atrocities by Americans and allies in Vietnam, begin in Detroit, Michigan.
  • 1990 – The first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union opens in Moscow.
  • 1995 – President Bill Clinton authorizes a $20 billion loan to Mexico to stabilize its economy.
  • 1996 – An explosives-filled truck rams into the gates of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka in Colombo, Sri Lanka killing at least 86 and injuring 1,400.
  • 2000 – Alaska Airlines flight 261 MD-83, experiencing horizontal stabilizer problems, crashes in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Point Mugu, California, killing all 88 persons aboard.
  • 2001 – In the Netherlands a Scottish court convicts Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi and acquits another Libyan citizen for their part in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.
  • 2003 – The Waterfall rail accident occurs near Waterfall, New South Wales, Australia.
  • 2007 – Suspects are arrested in Birmingham in the UK, accused of plotting the kidnap, holding and eventual beheading of a serving Muslim British soldier in Iraq.
  • 2009 – In Kenya, at least 113 people are killed and over 200 injured following an oil spillage ignition in Molo, days after a massive fire at a Nakumatt supermarket in Nairobi killed at least 25 people.

Weekly headlines 24.01.2011 – 30.01.2011

24.01.2011 France is investigating Ben Ali assets

The Paris state prosecutor’s office has issued a statement that they have opened a preliminary investigation into the property assets belonging to Zine al-Abidine in France when after three rights group filed a legal case against the former President. The groups; Sherpa, Transparency International France and the Arab Commission for Human Rights, accuse Mr Ben Ali of corruption, misusing public funds and money-laundering. Ben Ali, who has sought refuge in Saudi Arabia, has not so far commented on the allegations. Last week, Tunisian prosecutors decided to investigate the foreign assets of Ben Ali and his family, including illegal transactions and foreign bank accounts. 33 members of Ben Ali family were also arrested before they managed to leave the country, under suspicion that they might have plundered the nation’s sources. All this was sparked by Swiss officials who ordered to freeze all the funds Ben Ali had to ensure that a new Tunisian government would be able to retrieve any assets in case they were taken illicitly.

Gaza-based group behind church bombing

Egypt claims that a small Palestinian group with links to Al-Qaeda was behind the New Year’s Day bombing in Alexandria which resulted in 23 people being killed. According to Interior Minister Habib al-Adli, Cairo has “decisive proof” that the group carried out the attack but the group denied all responsibility so far.

Karbala, Iraq – Two separate car bombs kills 25

The attacks in Karbala happened as millions of Shia pilgrims gathered together to mark the end a 40 day of mourning period for the death of one of Shia sect’s most prominent figures, Imam Hussein in a 7th century battle. The first bomb exploded at a bus terminal at the al-Ibrahimi area, 12.5 miles (20km) east of the city killing 7 and injuring more than 18. Four hours later, a second car bomb struck some 9 miles (15km) south of the city killing 18 and injuring more than 50 people. Last week was one of the bloodiest as three suicide bombers killed 56 people and wounded 180 others. During the holy period, police officials have imposed vehicle ban in Karbala, so pilgrims are dropped off in car parks and walks in.

Moscow, Russia – Suicide bomber in Russian airport kills 31

More than 31 people was killed and more than 100 injured on Monday as a suicide bomber hit the busiest airport 40 km (25 miles) South East in Moscow. The blast happened at the baggage reclaim area of the international arrivals hall and Russia’s chief investigator said that the explosion was the work of terrorists and the President has ordered to increase the security across Russia’s capital and at other airports as he called an emergency meeting with top officials. March, last year, Moscow’s underground system was a target when two female suicide bombers from Dagestan region detonated their explosives on the busy metro system during a rush hour killing 40 and injuring more than 80 people.

Islamabad, Pakistan – Kidnapped former Pakistan intelligence agent dies

The once kidnapped former Pakistani agent Col. Sultan Amir Tarar (Col. Imam) who once worked together with the CIA and became a Taliban supporter has died in North Waziristan, one of the districts of Pakistan’s tribal region by the Afghan border. Some Pakistani media have reported that Tarar was killed by his captors but it is not certain how he died. Tarar was kidnapped last year while he was travelling to Pakistan’s tribal region with another former Pakistani intelligence agent, Khalid Khawaja and a Pakistani filmmaker they acted as guides for. The kidnappers demanded the release of three Afghan Taliban leaders in return for the release of three hostages but in April last year, Pakistani officials confirmed that they found Khawaja’s body in a village in North Waziristan. He was shot three times in the chest and a letter was found next to him accused him of being a government spy signed by a little known militant group called the Asian Tigers. “This is Khalid Khawaja who has been working for ISI and the CIA, the biggest enemy of Muslims,” the letter said, referring to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, the country’s top spy agency, and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

In September, Pakistani government officials said the filmmaker had been released but could not give any details of Tarar’s whereabouts and condition. Tarar was a retired ISI member and played a vital role with the CIA in training the Afghan mujahedeen during the 1980’s against the Soviet Union. After the Soviet Union drew out, Tarar became a strong supporter of the Taliban regime in Kabul and criticized the U.S. government and the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan after 9/11.

6.1 magnitude earthquakes hit Tajikistan

A 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit Tajikistan on Monday and the quake’s epicentre was 90 km (55miles) southwest of Karakul, Tajikistan. The earthquake was also felt in parts of Pakistan such as Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Kashmir, Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad. Monday morning’s quake was not related to an earthquake that hit Pakistan’s Baluchistan province on Wednesday.

25.01.2011 Protesters in Egypt clashed with police

Thousands were reported to join the protests after an internet campaign inspired by the same in Tunisia as they marched in Cairo chanting anti-government slogans such as “down with Mubarak”. Some chants also referred to Mubarak’s son Gamal, who is believed to be groomed as his father’s successor. There was a series of violent confrontations including in front of the parliament building where police with riot shields, tear gas and water cannon clashed with protesters who were throwing rockets. There were also reports of protests in Alexandria and Ismailia. Egypt has had many of the same problems that the Tunisians had regarding food prices, high unemployment and frustration over corruption.

Beirut, Lebanon – Hezbollah backed Najib Mikati appointed as PM

Lebanon’s president appointed Najib Mikati who is backed by the Shia Islamist group Hezbollah and its allies as prime minister despite all the demonstrations from thousands of supporters of the outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri. This has raised concern among many Sunni Muslims as they are worried about Hezbollah’s growing political power and accuse Hezbollah for being supported by Iran for staging a coup. Only 68 out of 125 members of the parliament expressed support for Mikati. After his appointment, Mikati said he hoped that the new government would serve all of Lebanon and protect its unity and sovereignty. Lebanon has a power sharing system and the post of Prime Minister is reserved for a Sunni, the President must be a Maronite Christian and the speaker of the parliament, a Shia. “I am not at all related to Hezbollah by any means, I am a moderate politician and I am always at equal distance from everybody,” he said. Hezbollah’s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, meanwhile urged him to form a coalition including all political and sectarian factions. The protesters anger increased because they think that they have been outmanoeuvred by Hezbollah, and it was triggered by allegations that Hezbollah figures were behind Rafik Hariri’s murder. The question now is what kind of Prime Minister Mikati will be and what kind of government he will head.

Lahore & Karachi, Pakistan – Shias target of a suicide bomber

9 people, including three police officers were killed and over 50 people injured when a suicide bomber detonated his bomb. The victims were taking part in a Shia Muslim procession and the blast took place in a Shia marked to mark the end of their holy month, Muharram. According to a senior police officer, the bomber was around 13-16 year old boy who tried to rush in and throw a bag into the crowd. When he was stopped, he blew himself up. Meanwhile a suicide bomber on a motorcycle killed two policemen in the Southern city of Karachi. Two policemen were killed and several casualties were said to be in a critical condition. A police officer said the bomber had tried to hit a bus carrying Shia devotees but the attacker targeted a police Jeep instead after it blocked his way.

Kabul, Afghanistan 6 Pakistanis accused of plotting attacks arrested

Six Pakistani men accused of being terrorists and planning suicide attacks on the Indian embassy in Kabul was arrested according to a statement from the spokesman of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security. At a press conference Tuesday, Lutfullah Mashal said the terrorist group was the main group responsible for the biggest attacks in Kabul. “After investigations we found out that all the six terrorists were from Pakistan and they were linked with Sirajuddin Haqani Network,” Lutfullah Mashal said. Sirajuddin Haqqani, or Siraj Haqqani, is a senior Taliban commander and a long-time ally of al Qaeda; the group operates on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. “This is not the only terrorist group which was working in Kabul, but we hope with the arrest of this main terrorist group, the level of terrorist attacks will decrease,” Mashal added.

Tehran, Iran Iran hangs 2 men who made videos of post-election turmoil

Two men were hanged on Monday for their actions during the post-election protests in 2009. The men were described as terrorists and members of the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO) by the Iranian Press TV. Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Haj Aqaei were hanged “for distributing placards and photos of the terrorist group, making videos and images during the post-election unrest in Iran in 2009 and chanting slogans in favour of the MKO,” the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. In August 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Iranian government to stop the executions of the men who were “exercising their right to free expression.”

26.01.2011 Kabul, Afghanistan, Parliament opened

President Hamid Karzai failed to delay the opening of the parliament to investigate the September’s disputed election as the elected MPs claimed that it was unconstitutional and they were backed by the international community which was worried the standoff could spill onto the streets. Analysts say that Karzai is not happy with the results of the parliamentary poll, which has produced a lower house with a larger, more vocal and coherent opposition. The 249-member lower house of parliament – the Wolesi Jirga – was originally scheduled to open on Sunday.

“With regard to holding election, safeguarding the people’s votes, preventing abuse and foreign interventions, we have been facing serious problems,” he told MPs.

Tunis, Tunisia – Revolt erupting

About 800 people have been arrested throughout Egypt in the anti-government protests. Police clashed with the protesters in two different cities. One protester and one policeman was killed in Cairo, while in Suez, a government building was set on fire and the interior ministry stated that public gatherings will not be tolerated anymore. Protesters have been inspired by the uprising in Tunisia as they vowed to stay on the streets until the government falls. They have been using social networking sites to call for fresh demonstrations but Twitter and Facebook has been blocked from time to time. The government has denied that they have anything to do with the blocking of the webpage’s. “I want to see an end to this dictatorship, 30 years of Mubarak is enough – we’ve had enough of the state of emergency, prices are going up and up,” Mostapha al-Shafey, Protester.

Other developments

  • Egyptian Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid cancels his visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
  • Activists have called on protesters to observe “Anger Friday”, by going to rallies after praying in mosques and churches
  • In the northern city of Machala, police have cordoned off the headquarters of the Democratic Front opposition party, which is threatening a hunger strike
  • Hundreds have been arrested in Alexandria, activists say, as police prevent organised rallies
  • Stone-throwing
  • Following a “day of revolt” across Egypt on Tuesday, in which four people died, protesters attempted to stage new demonstrations in Cairo on Wednesday.
  • Police moved to break up demonstrations as they happened
  • There were scuffles outside the journalists’ union building in central Cairo as hundreds of people gathered to protest.
  • Police beat some with batons and fired tear gas when they tried to break through a cordon.
  • Protesters burned tyres and threw stones at police.
  • Reuter’s news agency reported more clashes outside a central court complex in the city.
  • Witnesses said riot police had been charging demonstrators throughout the day wherever in Cairo they happened to gather.
  • Doctors said a policeman and a protester were killed in the clashes, apparently during stone-throwing in a poor neighbourhood of the city.
  • However, security officials said the deaths were unrelated to the protests.
  • Meanwhile, in the eastern city of Suez, protesters threw petrol bombs at a government building, setting parts of it on fire, witnesses said.
  • The headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party in the city was also attacked.
  • Earlier, protests were held outside the morgue where the body of a victim of Tuesday’s protests was being kept. At least 55 people were injured in the city.
  • One of Tuesday’s demonstrators, Mostapha al-Shafey, told the BBC he planned to join protests again on Wednesday.
  • “I want to see an end to this dictatorship. Thirty years of Mubarak is enough. We’ve had enough of the state of emergency. Prices are going up and up,” he said.
  • Demonstrations are illegal in Egypt, which has been ruled by President Mubarak since 1981. The government tolerates little dissent and opposition demonstrations are routinely outlawed.
  • Social media’s role
  • Tuesday’s protests were co-ordinated through a Facebook page, where organisers say they are taking a stand against torture, poverty, corruption and unemployment. One page called for protesters all over Egypt to gather after prayers on Friday.
  • However, Wednesday brought reports that Facebook was being blocked inside Egypt.
  • Twitter also played a key part, with supporters inside and outside Egypt using the search term #jan25 to post news on Tuesday, but it was blocked later in the day.
  • BBC technology correspondent Mark Gregory said that while this clampdown had undoubtedly restricted access to information, technically minded protesters had found ways of evading the restrictions.
  • Many have stayed in touch by routing their messages through proxy servers – web facilities based in other countries.
  • The government blamed the violence on the banned Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood, although this group was reported to have been ambivalent about the protests.
  • One opposition leader, Mohamed ElBaradei, had called on Egyptians to take part in the protests.
  • US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “We urge the Egyptian authorities not to prevent peaceful protests or block communications including on social media sites.
  • “We believe strongly that the Egyptian government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political, economic and social reforms to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”
  • Tunisia’s President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted from power and fled the country earlier this month, after weeks of protests in which dozens of people were killed.
  • Egypt has many of the same social and political problems that brought about the unrest in Tunisia – rising food prices, high unemployment and anger at official corruption.
  • However, the population of Egypt has a much lower level of education than Tunisia. Illiteracy is high and internet penetration is low.
  • There are deep frustrations in Egyptian society, our Cairo correspondent says, adding that Egypt is widely seen to have lost power, status and prestige in the three decades of President Mubarak’s rule.

27.01.2011 Baghdad, Iraq – 40 people killed in bombing

A series of bombings left 40 people dead and a dozen wounded in different neighbourhoods. At least 37 people were killed and 78 wounded when a parked car bomb detonated near a funeral tent in the Shiite neighbourhood of Shula in northwest Baghdad. The blasts came after Wednesday night’s assassination of three government employees by gunmen using pistols equipped with silencers in three neighbourhoods in Baghdad. Two of the three government employees worked at Iraq’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the third employee worked at the Ministry of Housing and Reconstruction. A roadside bomb exploded next to a police patrol in southern Baghdad, killing a civilian and wounding seven people, including three police officers. In another attack in south-eastern Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded near a government convoy. It missed the convoy but killed one civilian and wounded three others. In central Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded on a busy road, killing one civilian and wounding four others.

Australia – Aftermaths and costs of the flood

The cost of repairing the flood damage in Australia will cost AUS $5.6 billion (US $5.58 billion), according to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who proposed a one-year tax to help fund the reconstruction.”The great floods of this summer have been a national tragedy, not just a natural disaster, because of the awful loss of human life,” Gillard said Thursday. “The great floods of this summer have destroyed billions of dollars of wealth and robbed us of billions of dollars of income. In time they may prove to be the most expensive disaster in Australian history.”

Gillard said the money will come from $2.8 billion (US $2.79 billion) in spending cuts, $1 billion (US $995.6 million) in delayed infrastructure projects and $1.8 billion (US $1.79 billion) raised through a progressive, one-year income tax on people earning more than $50,000. Flooding in Australia, primarily in the state of Queensland, has affected more than 3 million people, making it one of the most costly disasters in the nation, the federal treasurer said over the weekend. The floods have devastated crops, tourism, retail and manufacturing, and have disrupted major urban areas like Brisbane, according to Swan.

Davos, Switzerland – Davos hotel hit by a minor blast

There was a small explosion at the Post Hotel Morosani in Davos which is hosting the high-powered annual World Economic Forum this week. Fon Mahturos, a WEF spokesman, said “a small firework went off at the back entrance” of the hotel. One window was damaged, and police are investigating but the hotel is fully operational and accessible as there were no reports of injuries. Someone at the hotel for a meeting said the blast was so minor that most guests and visitors would not know that anything had happened.

Lahore, Pakistan – Us diplomat kills two Pakistanis

An American diplomat in the Pakistani city of Lahore has shot and killed a Pakistani motorcycle rider and his pillion passenger in self-defence as the men were pursuing the diplomat’s vehicle police said. A pedestrian was also killed by a speeding car from the US consulate which came to help, and the police is now investigating whether the two men on the motorcycle were robbers as weapons has been recovered from the bodies. The American diplomat had stopped at a traffic light when the two men stopped near his car. Local TV has also showed footage of the American official’s car and it had several bullet holes in the windscreen. He had used a wireless radio to call for help immediately after the shooting and a second consular car came to help. The diplomat was taken into custody by the police. Officials at the US embassy in Islamabad said that they are still investigating the incident and cannot comment further. More than 100 people blocked the road after the incident by setting tires on fire to protest against the killing. The protest later moved to picket the police station where the car involved in the incident was impounded. Now this incident may bring more to the anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. Questions are certain to be asked as to why the American was carrying arms and why, if he was a diplomat, he was not provided with armed protection.

Sanaa, Yemen – Thousands in the street demonstrating

Thousands of people were gathered in the streets as they called for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down after ruling for more than 30 years. This was followed by a mass demonstrating in Tunisia and Egypt. The protesters called for economic reforms and an end to the corruption as well as anti-government slogans. Yemenis has complained long about the increasing poverty growing among the young people and frustration over lack of political freedom. The country has also been plagued by a range of security issues, including a separatist movement in the south and an uprising of Shia Houthi rebels in the north. There are also fears that Yemen will become a leading Al-Qaeda haven because of the high number of unemployed youth seen as potential recruits.

Protesters gathered several locations of the city on Thursday morning shouting that it was time for change referring to Ben Ali. President Saleh, who is a western ally, became leader of North Yemen in 1978 has ruled since the North and South merged in 1990 and he was re-elected in 2006. Yemenis are angry over that Saleh might loosen the rules on presidential term limits and appoint himself as president for life as he also is accused to wanting to hand over the power to his eldest son, Ahmad who rejected this. “We are a republic. We reject bequeathing [the presidency],” he said in a televised address.

Economic and social problems

  • Poorest country in the Middle East with 40% of Yemenis living on less than $2 (£1.25) a day
  • More than two-thirds of the population under the age of 24
  • Illiteracy stands at over 50%, unemployment at 35%
  • Dwindling oil reserves and falling oil revenues; little inward investment
  • Acute water shortage
  • Weak central government

28.01.2011 Kabul, Afghanistan – Kabul’s finest supermarket hit by bomb attack

8 people have been killed when a suicide attacker detonated his bomb in a supermarket that is popular with foreigners in Kabul. The bomber opened fire in the store before detonating his explosives. The market is not far from the British embassy and located roundabout a police checkpoint and many stores that are armed with Afghan guards. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack stating “We claim responsibility for the attack, and it was carried out at a time when foreigners were shopping, including the head of a security company,” said Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid.

29.01.2011 Kandahar, Afghanistan – Kandahar deputy governor killed in suicide attack

A suicide bomber attacked Abdul Latif Ashma’s convoy as he was being driven to work in Kandahar city by slamming his motorcycle into the deputy governor’s car. The deputy governor died and three of his bodyguards were wounded.

Islamabad, Pakistan – Explosion in Pakistan

7 people died and 15 were wounded when a car bomb exploded in Kohat tunnel in Northwest Pakistan in the area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in late Friday.

Teheran, Iran – Dutch-Iranian woman hanged

The Dutch-Iranian woman, Sahra Bahrami, 46, was arrested after taking part of anti-government protests in Iran, has been hanged for drug smuggling. She was held in jail for 1 year after being arrested while she visited some relatives. Her execution is number 66 this year. During a search of her house, authorities found 450g cocaine and 420g opium, the Teheran prosecutor stated. They also added that Bahrami was a member of an international drug gang who smuggled cocaine into the country using her Dutch connections. Bahrami’s daughter has said that the drug charges were fabricated against her mother. “She doesn’t even smoke cigarettes, let alone possessing drugs. How could someone who participates in [post-] election gatherings and endanger her life, engage in such actions against her country?” Dutch officials were denied access to her because Tehran does not recognise her dual nationality. A Dutch foreign ministry spokesman has said that they could not yet confirm her death as they had yet to be approached by the Iranian authorities.


Cairo, Egypt – 50 people defy curfew
Tens of thousands gathered at Tahrir Square in Cairo. Al Jazeera has reported that over 100 people have been killed and over 1000 injured as well as cafés and shops have been looted. The police are no longer to be seen in Cairo. Reports have been saying that looters also have used weapons to occupy homes. Residents try to defend themselves and protect their homes. It has been speculated that several of the criminals were released by the authorities. 50 000 people defied the curfew and continued the demonstrations. As the whole city stands still, the authorities are losing control. Criminals also broke into Cairo’s museum and destroyed two Mummies Pharaohs late Friday but didn’t manage to steal anything as some residents blocked the entrance. The former Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei has been seen as a visible leader for the people and as an opposition leader. For the first since 1981, when Mubarak himself went from being vice President to take over power, he now appointed a Vice President. Omar Suleiman was until now the country’s intelligence chief. Previously it has been in the cards that Mubarak’s son Gamal Mubarak, was to be appointed new president ahead of the planned presidential election in years. Now the speculation of whether Suleiman is the Mubarak plan to take over at a later date. Mubarak is trying to meet the demands of the people about the reforms but Suleiman is one of the persons who will be accepting people in Egypt, said a representative from the Mubarak government party. Suleiman has also been a general in the army. In recent days the army has not attacked the demonstrators, unlike the police security forces. Omar Shafeeq, the former commander of Air Force, has been appointed the new Prime Minister.

Cairo, Egypt – Rumors say Mubarak’s family has left the country

There were rumours that Mubarak’s two sons had escaped the country during the ongoing demonstrations demanding their father to step down, but half an hour later this was denied by the Egyptian state channel. According to twitter messages, Gamal Mubarak was based in London planning a demonstration outside where he is believed to owe an apartment. Gamal Mubarak was seen as the successor to his father but after appointing Omar Suleiman, his chances are minor. Now other rumours say that 82 year old Mubarak has a failing health and sources say that he is dying.

Cairo, Egypt – 28 dead after one episode

The employees at the mortuary said that they received 28 dead bodies on Sunday when protesters tried to storm the Egyptian Interior Ministry. Most of them had died from gunshot wounds as the troops from inside the building opened fired. After first having attempted to drive away the protesters with rubber bullets and teargas, the police eventually used live ammunition. Eyewitnesses have also told that the snipers were on the roof of the building, firing at anyone attempting to approach. How many people exactly lost their lives during the fighting around the ministry building, and the violence in general is very uncertain but Al Jazeera has confirmed that at least 100 have died since Friday. The police brutality and they killing dozens of protesters has become a burden to the President. Neither the appointment of a new government cabinet, with his right hand Omar Suleiman as vice president, helped to calm fears as thousands of protesters defied the curfew last night which was introduced as early as at 4 o’clock. “There must be full respect for human rights and democratic freedoms,” wrote Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a joint request to Mubarak yesterday. “Avoid at all costs the use of violence against unarmed civilians,” admonished the three state leaders Mubarak.

30.01.2011 – The internet is about to run out of IP addresses

At the moment there are only 17,636,446 available IP addresses of the current format, according to calculations carried out by Hurricane Electric. The IP addresses are a group of numbers that make you unique on the internet as a phone number for computers and other Internet devices. It could be read on Hurricane Electric’s Twitter account; “It is about 4 days left to IPocalyse, and “the world is basically not ready to move from the current solution, IPv4, to tomorrow’s solution, IPv6.”

Juba, Southern Sudan – 99% wants to divide

Numbers show that 99% of the voters in South Sudan have voted yes to form their own state according to final figures. The official results of the count from the referendum earlier in January were presented by the Election Commission of Southern Sudan on Sunday. They show that a total of 98.83 per cent voted yes to secession. Only the votes from South show 99.57%. There have also been protests in Khartoum that has raised concerns. Stability in the north is very important for the entire disengagement process. There is a widespread feeling in the world community that Bashir has delivered in relation to the referendum, which he should get “paid” for,” said a Minister. Bashir took power in Sudan in a military coup in 1989 and has ruled with a heavy hand side. The Sudanese president is both indicted for genocide and accused of corruption in the billions.

Important events on January 30th

  • 1048 – Protestantism: The villagers around today’s Baden-Baden elect their own priest in defiance of the local bishop. Later, in a move that would not be seen before the Protestant Reformation, he is also elected Pope by acclamatio, just to die that same day. It is rumored that Ildebrando di Soana heard of the acclamatio and used it later to get elected himself as Pope Gregory VII.
  • 1648 – Eighty Years’ War: The Treaty of Münster and Osnabrück is signed, ending the conflict between the Netherlands and Spain.
  • 1649 – King Charles I of England is beheaded.
  • 1661 – Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England is ritually executed two years after his death, on the anniversary of the execution of the monarch he himself deposed.
  • 1667 – The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth cedes Kiev, Smolensk, and left-bank Ukraine to the Tsardom of Russia in the Treaty of Andrusovo.
  • 1703 – The Forty-seven Ronin, under the command of Ōishi Kuranosuke, avenge the death of their master.
  • 1790 – The first boat specializing as a lifeboat is tested on the River Tyne.
  • 1806 – The original Lower Trenton Bridge (also called the Trenton Makes the World Takes Bridge), which spans the Delaware River between Morrisville, Pennsylvania and Trenton, New Jersey, is opened.
  • 1820 – Edward Bransfield sights the Trinity Peninsula and claims the discovery of Antarctica.
  • 1826 – The Menai Suspension Bridge, considered the world’s first modern suspension bridge, connecting the Isle of Anglesey to the north West coast of Wales, is opened.
  • 1835 – In the first assassination attempt against a President of the United States, Richard Lawrence attempts to shoot president Andrew Jackson, but fails and is subdued by a crowd, including several congressmen.
  • 1841 – A fire destroys two-thirds of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico.
  • 1847 – Yerba Buena, California is renamed San Francisco.
  • 1858 – The first Hallé concert is given in Manchester, England, marking the official founding of the Hallé Orchestra as a full-time, professional orchestra.
  • 1862 – The first American ironclad warship, the USS Monitor is launched.
  • 1889 – Archduke Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria, heir to the Austro-Hungarian crown, is found dead with his mistress Baroness Mary Vetsera in Mayerling.
  • 1902 – The first Anglo-Japanese Alliance was signed in London.
  • 1911 – The destroyer USS Terry (DD-25) makes the first airplane rescue at sea saving the life of James McCurdy 10 miles from Havana, Cuba.
  • 1911 – The Canadian Naval Service becomes the Royal Canadian Navy.
  • 1913 – The United Kingdom’s House of Lords rejects the Irish Home Rule Bill.
  • 1925 – The Government of Turkey throws Patriarch Constantine VI out of Istanbul.
  • 1930 – The world’s second radiosonde is launched in Pavlovsk, USSR.
  • 1933 – Adolf Hitler is sworn in as Chancellor of Germany.
  • 1943 – World War II: Second day of the Battle of Rennell Island. The USS Chicago (CA-29) is sunk and a U.S. destroyer is heavily damaged by Japanese torpedoes.
  • 1944 – World War II: United States troops land on Majuro.
  • 1945 – World War II: The Wilhelm Gustloff, overfilled with refugees, sinks in the Baltic Sea after being torpedoed by a Soviet submarine, leading to the deadliest known maritime disaster, killing approximately 9,000 people.
  • 1945 – World War II: Raid at Cabanatuan: 126 American Rangers and Filipino resistance liberate 500 prisoners from the Cabanatuan POW camp.
  • 1948 – Indian pacifist and leader Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi is assassinated by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu extremist.
  • 1956 – American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.’s home is bombed in retaliation for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
  • 1960 – The African National Party is founded in Chad, through the merger of traditionalist parties.
  • 1964 – Ranger program: Ranger 6 is launched.
  • 1968 – Vietnam War: The Tet Offensive begins when Viet Cong forces launch a series of surprise attacks in South Vietnam.
  • 1969 – The Beatles’ last public performance, on the roof of Apple Records in London. The impromptu concert is broken up by the police.
  • 1971 – Carole King’s Tapestry album is released, it would become the longest charting album by a female solo artist and sell 24 million copies worldwide.
  • 1972 – Bloody Sunday: British Paratroopers kill fourteen unarmed civil rights/anti internment marchers in Northern Ireland.
  • 1972 – Pakistan withdraws from the Commonwealth of Nations.
  • 1979 – Varig 707-323C freighter, flown by the same commander as Flight 820, disappears over the Pacific Ocean 30 minutes after taking off from Tokyo.
  • 1982 – Richard Skrenta writes the first PC virus code, which is 400 lines long and disguised as an Apple boot program called “Elk Cloner”.
  • 1989 – The American embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan closes.
  • 1994 – Péter Lékó becomes the youngest chess grand master.
  • 1995 – Workers from the National Institutes of Health announce the success of clinical trials testing the first preventive treatment for sickle-cell disease.
  • 1996 – Gino Gallagher, the suspected leader of the Irish National Liberation Army, is killed while waiting in line for his unemployment benefit.
  • 1996 – Comet Hyakutake is discovered by Japanese amateur astronomer Yuji Hyakutake.
  • 2000 – Off the coast of Ivory Coast, Kenya Airways Flight 431 crashes into the Atlantic Ocean, killing 169.

Smoking kills

How did smoking start?

The idea of smoking has varied over time and from one place to another as holy and sinful, sophisticated and vulgar and as deadly health hazard. Only relatively recently, and primarily in industrialized Western countries, has smoking come to be viewed in a decidedly negative light. Today medical studies have proven that smoking tobacco is among the leading causes of many diseases such as lung cancer, heart attacks, COPD, erectile dysfunction and can also lead to birth defects. The inherent health hazards of smoking have caused many countries to institute high taxes on tobacco products and anti-smoking campaigns are launched every year in an attempt to curb tobacco smoking.

The history of smoking dates back to as early as 5000 BC in shamanistic rituals and has also been recorded in many different cultures across the world. Smoking was used as offerings to deities, in cleansing rituals or for shamans and priests to alter their minds for purposes of spiritual enlightenment. Many ancient civilizations like the Babylonians, Indians and Chinese would burn incense as a part of religious rituals followed by the Israelite s, Catholics and Orthodox Christians. After the European exploration and conquest of the Americas, the practice of smoking tobacco quickly spread to the rest of the world. In regions like India and Sub-Saharan Africa, it merged with existing practices of smoking (mostly of cannabis). In Europe, it introduced a new type of social activity and a form of drug intake which previously had been unknown.

As the cigarette production started to be modernized together with the increasing of life expanses during the 1920s, health effects became more prevalent. In Germany, anti-smoking groups started to publish advocacy against the consumption of tobacco in the journal Der Tabakgegner in 1912 and 1932. In 1929, Fritz Lickint of Dresden in Germany published a paper containing formal statistical evidence of a lung cancer-tobacco link. Adolf Hitler did also condemn his previous smoking habits as a waste of money and this was strengthened with the Nazi reproductive policy as women who smoked were viewed as unsuitable to be wives and mothers in a German family. By the end of the Second World War, American cigarette manufactures quickly re-entered the German black market and illegal smuggling of tobacco became very common and leaders of the Nazi anti-smoking campaign were assassinated.  As part of the Marshall Plan, the United States shipped free tobacco to Germany; with 24,000 tons in 1948 and 69,000 tons in 1949.

In 1950, Richard Doll published a research in the British Medical journal showing a close link between smoking and lung cancer. Four years later, in 1954, the British Doctors Study consisting of 40 doctors over 20 years confirmed that smoking and lung cancer was related to each other. As scientific evidence mounted in the 1980s, Tobacco companies neglected the health effects because of the economical gain. The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement between the four largest US tobacco companies and the Attorneys General of 46 states did manage to restrict certain types of tobacco advertisement and required payments for health compensation which then ended in the largest civil settlement in the US history. Today Russia leads as the top consumer of tobacco followed by Indonesia, Laos, Ukraine, Belarus, Greece, Jordan, and China. The World Health Organization has begun a program known as the Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI) in order to reduce rates of consumption in the developing world.

Health effects

Tobacco related diseases are some of the biggest death reasons in the world today. Only in the United States, about 500,000 deaths each year are related to smoking caused diseases and a recent study estimated that China’s 1/3 male population will have their life shortened due to smoking. Male and female smokers do lose an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life. At least half of all lifelong smokers die earlier as a result of this. Male and female smokers lose an average of 13.2 and 14.5 years of life, respectively. At least half of all lifelong smokers die earlier as a result of smoking.

  • The risk of dying from lung cancer before age 85 is 22.1% for a male smoker
    11.9% for a female current smoker
  • The corresponding estimates for lifelong non-smokers are a 1.1% probability of dying from lung cancer before age 85 for a man of European descent and a 0.8% probability for a woman
  • Smoking one cigarette a day results in a risk of heart disease that is halfway between that of a smoker and a non-smoker.

Many governments are trying to deter people from smoking with anti-smoking campaigns in the mass media telling about the harmful long-term effects of smoking. Passive smoking/second hand smoking affects people immediately and is the reason of the smoking bans. This has changed the law and banned smoking indoors in public places such as bars, pubs and restaurants to discourage people from smoking by making it more inconvenient and to stop harmful smoke being present in public spaces. But surveys show that rates of smoking has declined in the developed countries and continued to rise in the developing world.

Even though nicotine is a highly addictive drug and its effects, its effects is not as intense as other drugs like cocaine, amphetamines or any other opiates including heroine or morphine.

Smoking is also a risk factor in Alzheimer’s disease but smoking more than 15 cigarettes a day has also shown to worsen symptoms of Crohn Disease. So what happens when we inhale the vaporized gas from a cigarette? The drug is delivered very fast into the bloodstream as the gas diffuses directly into the pulmonary vein, then into the heart and from there to the brain and affects the user within less than a second of the first inhalation. Explained with details; our lungs consists of several million tiny bulbs called alveoli that altogether have an area of over 70 m². The inhaled substances, a cigarette in this case, triggers a chemical reaction in nerve endings in the brain due to being similar to naturally occurring substances such as endorphins and dopamine’s, which are associated with sensations of pleasure. The result is what is usually referred to as a “high” that ranges between the mild stimulus caused by nicotine to the intense euphoria caused by heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines. There are also several other toxic compounds in tobacco that constitute serious health hazards to long-term smokers from a whole range of causes; vascular abnormalities such as stenosis, lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes, impotence, low birth weight of infants born by smoking mothers. 8% of long-term smokers develop the characteristic set of facial changes known to doctors as smoker’s face.


Most smokers begin smoking during early adulthood and it has something to do with risk taking, rebellion and friends, although many young adults are also affected by their parents that smoke. Teenagers may also be influenced by high-status models, actors or singers who smoke as it encourages them. One common thing the smokers say is that the cigarette helps them to relieve the feeling of stress even though the stress levels of adult smokers are higher than the non-smokers and it actually increase stress. This is confirmed in the daily mood patterns described by smokers as they have normal moods during smoke and it worsens between the cigarettes.

Psychologists Hans Eysenck developed a personality profile for the typical smoker explaining that smokers tend to be more sociable, impulsive, risk taking and excitement seeking people. During the early stages, smoking dos provide pleasurable sensation (because of the dopamine system that serves positive reinforcement). When a person has smoked for years, the negative reinforcement becomes higher. And also because people who smoke are aware of the negative effects smoking has on their body, they do rationalize their behaviour as they rationalize and justify why they must smoke. Smokers who need a cigarette first thing in the morning will often quote the positive effects, but will not accept that they awake feeling below normal levels of happiness (lower levels of dopamine) and merely smoke to return themselves to a “normal” level of happiness (“normal” level of dopamine).

Statistic on deaths caused by smoking worldwide

Around 5.4 million deaths a year are caused by smoking. Here are some numbers;

  • Smoking is set to kill 6.5 million people in 2015 and 8.3 million humans in 2030, with the biggest rise in low-and middle-income countries.
  • Every 6.5 seconds a current or former smoker dies, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) and an estimated 1.3 billion people are smokers worldwide (WHO).
  • Over 443,000 Americans (over 18% of all deaths) die because of smoking each year. Second-hand smoke kills about 50,000 of them.
  • 1.2 million people in China die because of smoking each year. That’s 2,000 people a day.
  • 33% to 50% of all smokers are killed by their habit. Smokers die on average 15 years sooner than non-smokers.
  • Between 33% and 50% of all smokers will die an average of 15 years sooner than non-smokers, the Tobacco Atlas from the World Lung Foundation and the American Cancer Society believes.
  • Around 100 million people died because of tobacco use in the 20th century.
  • 10 years of life are robbed from smokers because they die 10 years earlier than non-smokers. Smoking causes more death and disability than any single disease (World Health Organization).
  • In India, about 900,000 Indians a year die from smoking-related diseases that are nearly one in 10 of all deaths in India. Half of Indian males use tobacco and it is becoming more popular with younger people. Nearly 6 lakh people die from bidi-smoking every year in India, according to the Caught in a Death Trap: A Study on Bidi Rollers of West Bengal and Gujarat study.
  • In Russia, smoking kills between 400,000 and 500,000 Russians every year from smoking ailments.
  • In Japan, smoking is the leading cause of death and is responsible for 20% of all cancers. 50 percent of men and 14 percent of women smoke.
  • In Indonesia, an estimated 200,000 people die each year of smoking-related diseases.
  • About a quarter of deaths in 2005 were from smoking and 80% of lung and respiratory cancer cases were due to smoking.
    About 220 million cigarettes were smoked by Indonesians in 2006.
  • About 140,000 Germans die every year from tobacco-related illnesses. Nearly 1 in 3 German adults smokes regularly.
  • In the UK, 90,000 people die from smoking each year.
    6,000 people in Wales are killed by smoking every year.
  • In Turkey, around 110,000 people each year die of smoking-related illnesses, according to official figures.
  • In Nigeria, 6.5 million citizens are expected to die from smoking over time.
  • In Pakistan, 100,000 people die each year because of smoking.
  • In France, there are about 66,000 smoking-related deaths each year and up to 5,800 deaths from passive smoking, inhaling the smoke of smokers. About 12 million people are a smoker, that’s 25% of the population.
  • Mexico has around 65,000 cigarette-related deaths a year. The country has 105 million people.
  • In Spain, there are 50,000 smoking-related deaths annually. About 30% of Spaniards smoke.
  • In South Korea, an estimated 49,000 people die each year of smoking-related diseases, according to the private Korean Association of Smoking and Health.
  • 50,000 Iranians die each year from tobacco related illnesses, according to the government. Some say the number of deaths is 60,000 a year. 200,000 Iranian projected to die from smoking by 2019.
  • In Malaysia, nearly 40,000 people died of smoking-related diseases in the last 5 years, now it is around 10,000 a year.
  • In Vietnam, 40,000 citizens die every year due to diseases caused by smoking.
  • In Canada, 37,000 people die from smoking every year, according to the Ministry of Health.
    In Egypt, there are 34,000 tobacco-related deaths each year.
  • 33,000 Romanians die every year because of smoking. There were 6.5 million smokers aged 25 to 44 years old in Romania.
  • In Saudi Arabia, 22,000 Saudis die of smoking related diseases every year, according to the Anti-Smoking Society.
  • In Greece, where 45% of the population smokes, an estimated 20,000 people die of smoking-related diseases each year. 600 people die every year from passive smoking and the number of smokers in Greece has gone up 10% in 10 years.
  • In South Africa, 44,000 adults die each year from smoking, according to the National Council against Smoking (NCAS).
  • In Australia, 15,000 to 19,000 Australians deaths each year are caused by smoking and almost 20% of the Australian population smokes. Aboriginal life expectancy is 17 years less than non-indigenous Australians. Their high smoking rate gets part of the blame. Government officials are trying to address the issue.
    13,000 Scots are killed every year by tobacco where about 30% of the population smokes. Up to 2,000 people die of passive smoking annually.
    Smoking kills 6 times more Scots than accidents, murder, suicide, falls and poisoning combined (Edinburgh Evening News).
  • In Ireland, 6,000 people die each year from smoking-related diseases.
    Smoking-related illnesses kill 2,500 people in Northern Ireland each year.
  • In the Philippines, 20,000 Filipinos die from smoking-related illnesses each year (that’s 2 every hour). Smoking is linked to 5 of the top 10 leading causes of deaths, according to Government data.
  • Croatia with 4.4 million people, nearly 13,000 of them dies each year because of smoking. 3,000 of those deaths are from passive smoking.
  • Some 6,000 Cubans die from smoking-related illnesses.
  • In New Zealand, around 5,000 kiwis die every year because of smoking-related diseases.
  • About 7 people die each day in Uruguay from smoking-related causes including lung cancer, emphysema and other illnesses, anti-smoking groups estimate.
  • In the Western Pacific region, tobacco kills more than 3000 people each day. It’s the leading cause of death. The Western Pacific has one third of the world’s smokers, the highest rate of male smokers and the fastest increase of smoking among children and young women.

Give yourself a chance to live longer

41% of men who smoked a pack or more a day died in middle age, compared to 14% of those who never smoked.

26% of women who smoked heavily died in middle age, compared to 9% of those who never smoked.

44.5 million Americans, currently smoke or about 21% of American adults, according to estimates from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

168,000 Americans died of cancer due to tobacco use in 2007 (American Cancer Society).

Up to 2.5 million people in China will die annually by 2025, if growing tobacco use in China continues at current trends the Beijing Daily Messenger reported, citing World Health Organization (WHO) estimates.

Harmful Effects of Smoking

The mixture of nicotine and carbon monoxide in each cigarette you smoke temporarily increases your heart rate and blood pressure, straining your heart and blood vessels.

This can cause heart attacks and stroke. It slows your blood flow, cutting off oxygen to your feet and hands. In worst case some smokers end up having their limbs amputated.

Tar coats your lungs like soot in a chimney and causes cancer as a 20-a-day smoker breathes in up to a full cup (210 g) of tar in a year. Some believe that if they change into light cigarettes with low-tar it would help but the fact is that it doesn’t because smokers usually take deeper puffs and hold the smoke in for longer, dragging the tar deeper into their lungs.

Carbon monoxide robs your muscles, brain and body tissue of oxygen, making your whole body and especially your heart work harder. Over time, your airways swell up and let less air into your lungs. The strain of smoking effects on the body often causes years of suffering. Emphysema is an illness that slowly rots your lungs. People with emphysema often get bronchitis again and again, and suffer lung and heart failure.

Nicotine Damages Brain Cell Quality

Neurotoxicology and Teratology, 16(4) 1994

Human reports as well as animal studies have recorded accelerated motor activity, learning and memory deficits in offspring’s of mothers exposed to nicotine during pregnancy. This study, conducted by Dr. T. S. Roy, Department of Anatomy, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India, is the first to investigate actual physiological changes of the cerebral cortex of rats after prenatal nicotine exposure. Several groups of experimental rats were exposed to varying levels of nicotine reaching up to that experienced by a heavy smoker. Animals were examined at different periods after birth. Observable effects included significantly reduced thickness of the cerebral cortex, smaller cerebral cortex neurons, and reduced brain weight. Also noted was an overall decrease in “dendrite branching” (connections to other brain cells), as seen in the camera lucida drawings at right. The present study also shows that the greater the dose of nicotine, the greater the biological effects upon the offspring. This research provides an excellent biological model to support the many other studies linking increased hyperactivity, attention deficits, lower IQ, and learning disabilities in children with parents who smoked during pregnancy.

Dr. T. S. Roy
Department of Anatomy, All India Institute of Medical Sciences New Delhi, India
Effects of Prenatal Nicotine Exposure on the Morphogenesis of Somatosensory Cortex

Types of cancer caused by smoking

People usually think of lung cancer when it comes to smoking and the fact is that most cases of lung cancer deaths, 90% in men and 80% in women are caused by smoking.  But there are also several other forms of cancer related to smoking as well, and they include cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bladder, stomach, cervix, kidney and pancreas, and acute myeloid leukemia.

  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death and was among the first diseases causally linked to smoking.
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, and cigarette smoking causes most cases.
  • Compared to non-smokers, men who smoke are about 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer and women who smoke are about 13 times more likely. Smoking causes about 90% of lung cancer deaths in men and almost 80% in women.
  • In 2003, an estimated 171,900 new cases of lung cancer occurred and approximately 157,200 people died from lung cancer.
  • The 2004 Surgeon General’s report adds more evidence to previous conclusions that smoking causes cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, lung and bladder.
  • Cancer-causing agents (carcinogens) in tobacco smoke damage important genes that control the growth of cells, causing them to grow abnormally or to reproduce too rapidly.
  • Cigarette smoking is a major cause of esophageal cancer in the United States. Reductions in smoking and smokeless tobacco use could prevent many of the approximately 12,300 new cases and 12,100 deaths from esophgeal cancer that occur annually.
  • The combination of smoking and alcohol consumption causes most laryngeal cancer cases. In 2003, an estimated 3800 deaths occurred from laryngeal cancer.
  • In 2003, an estimated 57,400 new cases of bladder cancer were diagnosed and an estimated 12,500 died from the disease.
  • For smoking-attributable cancers, the risk generally increases with the number of cigarettes smoked and the number of years of smoking, and generally decreases after quitting completely.
  • Smoking cigarettes that have a lower yield of tar does not substantially reduce the risk for lung cancer.
  • Cigarette smoking increases the risk of developing mouth cancers. This risk also increases among people who smoke pipes and cigars.

New cancers confirmed by Surgeon General’s report;

  • The 2004 Surgeon General’s report newly identifies other cancers caused by smoking, including cancers of the stomach, cervix, kidney, and pancreas and acute myeloid leukaemia.
  • In 2003, an estimated 22,400 new cases of stomach cancer were diagnosed, and an estimated 12,100 deaths were expected to occur.
  • Former smokers have lower rates of stomach cancer than those who continue to smoke.
  • For women, the risk of cervical cancer increases with the duration of smoking.
  • In 2003, an estimated 31,900 new cases of kidney cancer were diagnosed, and an estimated 11,900 people died from the disease.
  • In 2003, an estimated 30,700 new cases of pancreatic cancer were diagnosed, attributing to 30,000 deaths. The median time from diagnosis to death from pancreatic cancer is about 3 months.
  • In 2003, approximately 10,500 cases of acute myeloid leukaemia were diagnosed in adults.
  • Benzene is a known cause of acute myeloid leukaemia, and cigarette smoke is a major source of benzene exposure. Among U.S. smokers, 90% of benzene exposures come from cigarettes.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

How does smoking cause ageing of the skin?

It is not certain exactly how smoking cause’s early ageing of the facial skin but theories include that;

  • Heat from the cigarette directly burning the skin
  • Changes in the elastic fibers of the skin
  • Narrowing of blood vessels (vasoconstriction), which reduces blood supply to the skin and can cause changes in skin elastic fibers and loss of collagen
  • Reducing Vitamin A levels and moisture of the skin
  • Smoking ages the skin
  • Smoking can accelerate the skin aging process in the skin. Aging of the skin means that it droops, develops wrinkles and lines and can become dry and coarse with uneven skin coloring and broken blood vessels (telangiectasia). Smokers can appear gaunt and develop an orange or gray complexion.

Since the 1970’s studies have shown that smoking results in more premature facial wrinkling than sun exposure. Lines around the eyes called “crow’s feet” can develop at an earlier age. Multiple vertical lines around the mouth also occur and are called “smoker’s lines”. These effects continue into old age. By the age of 70 years, smoking 30 cigarettes a day could lead to the equivalent of an extra 14 years of skin ageing.

Another thing smoking causes is that it delays wound healing including skin injuries and surgical wounds as it increases the risk of wound infection, graft or flap failure, and death of tissue and blood clot formation. The reasons for this are;

  • Vasoconstriction and lack of oxygen reaching skin cells
  • Decreased collagen synthesis
  • Delayed growth of new blood vessels within the wound.

It’s never too late to quit smoking

Quitting smoking reduces the risk of cancer and other diseases, such as heart disease and COPD, caused by smoking. People who quit smoking, regardless of their age, are less likely than those who continue to smoke to die from smoking-related illness:

  • Age 30: Studies have shown that smokers who quit at about age 30 reduce their chance of dying prematurely from smoking-related diseases by more than 90%.
  • Age 50: People who quit at about age 50 reduce their risk of dying prematurely by 50% compared with those who continue to smoke.
  • Age 60: People who quit at about age 60 or older, live longer than those who continue to smoke.

What are the immediate benefits of quitting smoking?

The immediate health benefits of quitting smoking are substantial:

  • Heart rate and blood pressure, which are abnormally high while smoking, begin to return to normal.
  • Within a few hours, the level of carbon monoxide in the blood begins to decline. (Carbon monoxide reduces the blood’s ability to carry oxygen.)
  • Within a few weeks, people who quit smoking have improved circulation, produce less phlegm, and don’t cough or wheeze as often.
  • Within several months of quitting, people can expect substantial improvements in lung function.
  • In addition, people who quit smoking will have an improved sense of smell, and food will taste better.
  • Within the first 20 minutes of quitting, the healing process begins. The benefits will continue to improve your health and quality of life for years.

If you want to know what substances each cigarette contains, take a look at;


Important events on January 29th

  • 904 – Sergius III comes out of retirement to take over the papacy from the deposed antipope Christopher.
  • 1676 – Feodor III becomes Tsar of Russia.
  • 1814 – France defeats Russia and Prussia in the Battle of Brienne.
  • 1834 – US President Andrew Jackson orders first use of federal soldiers to suppress a labor dispute.
  • 1845 – “The Raven” is published in the New York Evening Mirror, the first publication with the name of the author, Edgar Allan Poe
  • 1850 – Henry Clay introduces the Compromise of 1850 to the U.S. Congress.
  • 1856 – Queen Victoria institutes the Victoria Cross.
  • 1861 – Kansas is admitted as the 34th U.S. state.
  • 1863 – Bear River Massacre.
  • 1886 – Karl Benz patents the first successful gasoline-driven automobile.
  • 1891 – Liliuokalani is proclaimed Queen of Hawaii, its last monarch.
  • 1900 – The American League is organized in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with 8 founding teams.
  • 1916 – World War I: Paris is first bombed by German zeppelins.
  • 1936 – The first inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame are announced.
  • 1940 – Three trains on the Sakurajima Line, in Osaka, Japan, collide and explode while approaching Ajikawaguchi Station. 181 people are killed.
  • 1943 – The first day of the Battle of Rennell Island, U.S. cruiser Chicago is torpedoed and heavily damaged by Japanese bombers.
  • 1944 – USS Missouri the last battleship commissioned by the United States Navy is launched.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Battle of Cisterna takes place in central Italy.
  • 1944 – World War II: Approximately 38 men, women, and children die in the Koniuchy massacre in Poland.
  • 1944 – In Bologna, Italy, the Anatomical Theatre of the Archiginnasio is destroyed in an air-raid.
  • 1963 – The first inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame are announced.
  • 1967 – The “ultimate high” of the hippie era, the Mantra-Rock Dance, takes place in San Francisco and features Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, and Allen Ginsberg.
  • 1979 – Brenda Spencer kills two people and wounds eight at the Grover Cleveland Elementary School shootings.
  • 1985 – Final recording session of We Are The World, by the supergroup USA for Africa.
  • 1989 – Hungary establishes diplomatic relations with South Korea, making it the first Eastern Bloc nation to do so
  • 1996 – President Jacques Chirac announces a “definitive end” to French nuclear weapons testing.
  • 1996 – La Fenice, Venice’s opera house, is destroyed by fire.
  • 1998 – In Birmingham, Alabama, a bomb explodes at an abortion clinic, killing one and severely wounding another. Serial bomber Eric Robert Rudolph is suspected as the culprit.
  • 2001 – Thousands of student protesters in Indonesia storm parliament and demand that President Abdurrahman Wahid resign due to alleged involvement in corruption scandals.
  • 2002 – In his State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush describes “regimes that sponsor terror” as an Axis of Evil, in which he includes Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
  • 2005 – The first direct commercial flights from mainland China (from Guangzhou) to Taiwan since 1949 arrived in Taipei. Shortly afterwards, a China Airlines flight lands in Beijing.
  • 2006 – India’s Irfan Pathan becomes the first bowler to take a Test cricket hat-trick in the opening over of a match.

Some useful advice for travelers


Saudi Arabia

Relationships & Communication

Saudis do not require as much personal space as most western cultures. As such, they will stand close to you while conversing and you may feel as if your personal space has been violated. Hey also prefer to work with people they know and trust, but they will also spend a great deal of time on the getting-to-know-you part of relationship building, and the secret is to be patient. Since Saudis will most likely judge you on appearances, dress and present yourself well.

Business Meeting Etiquette

Appointments are necessary and should be made several weeks to one month in advance if it is possible. When meeting with government officials, a firm date will not be settled upon until you are physically in the country and try to schedule meetings in the morning. Remember to arrive at meetings on time, although it is an accepted custom to keep foreigners waiting. Meetings are generally not private until after a relationship of trust has been developed. This means you may expect frequent interruptions as others may wander into the room and start a different discussion. You may join in, but do not try to bring the topic back to the original discussion until the new person leaves. Business meetings start after prolonged inquiries about health, family, etc. Never inquire about a Saudi’s wife.

Business Negotiating

Decisions are made slowly, so do not try to rush the process because the society is very bureaucratic and most decisions require several layers of approval as several visits to accomplish simple tasks is necessary.
Saudis are tough negotiators and business is hierarchical and decisions are made by the highest-ranking person and do not use high-pressure tactics.
When discussing price, Saudis will often make an initial offer that is extremely low when they are buying. Conversely, when they are selling, their initial offer will be extremely high and you may need to compromise on a point if someone’s dignity is at stake. Business travelers involved in commercial disputes with a Saudi company or individual may be prevented from leaving the country until the dispute is resolved

Dress Etiquette

Most Saudis wear long white thobes and you would be expected to wear a suit as dressing well makes a good impression. Business women should make certain that their collarbones and knees are covered and that their clothes are not form-fitting.

Gift Giving Etiquette

Gifts are not the norm as in many other countries so if you are invited to a Saudi’s house bring something small as a thank you. Flowers do not make good gifts from a man, although a woman could give them to her hostess.
Never give alcohol unless you are positive they partake and gifts are not opened when received.

Dining Etiquette

  • Saudis socialize primarily in restaurants and international hotels when entertaining expatriates whom they do not know well and after some time you will be invited to the home.
  • Entertainment will generally be same-sex only but if both sexes are included, they will be in separate rooms.
  • If you are invited to a Saudi’s house:
  • You would usually remove your shoes.
  • Dress conservatively.
  • Try to arrive at the invited time. Punctuality is appreciated but not crucial.
  • Show respect for the elders by greeting them first.
  • Accept the offer of Arabian coffee and dates even if you do not normally drink coffee.
  • If you are invited for a meal, understand that there will be a great deal of socializing and small talk before the meal is served.

Table manners

  • If the meal is on the floor, sit cross-legged or kneel on one knee.
  • Eat only with the right hand as the left is considered unclean.
  • Try a bit of everything that is served.
  • Meals are generally served family-style.
  • Honored guests are often offered the most prized pieces such as a sheep’s head so be prepared
  • There is often more food than you can eat. Part of Saudi hospitality and generosity is to shower guests with abundance.
  • There is little conversation during meals so that diners may relish the food.

Consumption of Alcohol, illegal drugs and other

The importation and use of alcohol is forbidden. Possession of alcohol may result in imprisonment and corporal punishment. There are strong penalties for possession of or dealing in illegal drugs, including in some cases the death penalty. Preaching religions other than Islam may result in imprisonment and/or deportation.

The import and use of pork products and pornographic material is forbidden and can lead to imprisonment.


It should be noted, on marriage to a Saudi national that under the country’s customs the family has strong power over the individual, therefore if a woman wants her right of movement guaranteed, she must insist on a premarital settlement, stipulating this right. Such an agreement is binding, and can be used in court to settle a possible dispute. Men and women must not hold hands and/or kiss in public.

Dress Code

In public, ladies should wear an Abaya, a full-length black over-garment. It is also advisable to have a head scarf although it is not, strictly speaking, required.  Men are also expected to dress modestly in full length trousers and shirts with sleeves, even if short.

Road Safety

Driving standards in Saudi Arabia are very poor and the annual death toll on Saudi roads is extremely high. Care should be taken when traveling by vehicle and seat belts should be worn at all times.

Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. For male drivers, driving can be difficult, particularly since road signs may not be in roman letters.

Given the relatively low cost, most visitors will use taxis or chauffeur-driven cars. Female travelers should only travel in pre-booked taxis known to be safe and should normally avoid hailing a taxi in the street.


Iran is an Islamic Republic. Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in the country’s customs, laws, and regulations and common sense and discretion should be exercised in dress and behavior. Visitors should dress conservatively (men should not wear shorts or sleeveless shirts; women must cover their head with a scarf and conceal the body’s contours by wearing a loose fitting knee length outer garment and trousers). Respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.

Strict rules

It is prohibited to import alcohol or pork products.

Photography near military, government installations and many other areas are also strictly prohibited and there may be warnings signs displayed to this effect. Any transgression may result in detention and serious criminal charges.

During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), visitors should refrain from drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset.


Travelers have occasionally been victims of petty theft. Avoid displays of affluence and ensure personal belongings, passports, and other travel documents are secured at all times.

Road safety

The standard of driving in Iran, particularly in urban centers, is poor and can be challenging to newcomers. Iran has one of the highest rates of road accidents in the world and travelers should drive with great care. If you are involved in an accident, no matter how minor, do not leave the scene. You should wait until the police arrive to make their report.

Cash Banking

Visitors should bring sufficient hard currency (Euros or US dollars) with them to fund their stay.


The UAE is a Muslim country in which Islamic law is enforced. Women should dress in a modest way, particularly in Sharjah and Ajman emirates where Islamic law is rigorously enforced.  Clothes should cover the tops of the arms and legs, and underwear should not be visible.  Public displays of affection are frowned upon, and there have been several arrests for kissing in public. Sex outside of marriage is illegal, as is cohabitation, adultery and homosexual behavior. Swearing or making rude gestures is considered an obscene act and offenders can be prosecuted.

Strict rules

The importation of narcotics, pork products and pornographic books and material is totally forbidden. Fraud, including bouncing cheques and the non-payment of bills (including hotel bills), is regarded seriously in the UAE and can often result in imprisonment and/or a fine. Bail is generally not available to non-residents of the UAE who are arrested for crimes involving fraud. Convicted debtors will not generally be released from jail until the debt is paid or waived.

Consumption of alcohol

Liquor licenses can be obtained by residents to consume alcohol in private homes, and alcoholic drinks are served in licensed hotels and clubs. But it is a punishable offense to drink or to be drunk in public.

Illegal drugs

The penalties for drug trafficking, smuggling and possession are severe. Drug trafficking penalties can include the death sentence or life imprisonment. The presence of drugs in the body constitutes possession and carries a minimum sentence of four years.

Any such medication is not allowed into the UAE without prior permission from the UAE Ministry of Health. Medication on the website is listed by its generic name, so travelers should check the generic name of their medication with a doctor or pharmacist. Further queries should be directed to the local Embassy or Consulate of the UAE.

Road Safety

Excursions to the desert can be dangerous unless undertaken in adequately equipped 4 x 4 vehicles. You should always travel in convoy with other cars, take a supply of water and a mobile telephone if you have one and leave travel plans with friends or relatives. It is an offense in the UAE to drink and drive. There is zero tolerance for drinking and driving, and the penalties can be severe. Insurance is likely to be invalidated, leaving the driver to pay claims by other parties involved.


Egypt is a conservative society, and modest dress should be observed.  Women’s clothes should cover their legs and upper arms. Public displays of affection are frowned upon. During Ramadan, eating, drinking or smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims, who make up the majority of Egypt’s population. To avoid offense you may wish to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public during this time.

Possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs is a serious offense and can, even for possession of small amounts, lead to long prison sentences (25 years) or the death penalty.

Road Safety

Driving conditions in Egypt can be hazardous and travelers are advised to avoid driving at night outside major cities. There have been a series of bus crashes in Egypt in recent years, which have resulted in the death of a considerable number of Egyptians and foreign tourists.


You should not become involved with drugs of any kind. Penalties for possession of narcotic substances can be severe. There is a minimum sentence of six months for possession of small amounts for personal consumption only. However, a 10 year sentence for possession of other amounts applies. The slow judicial process means that lengthy pre-trial detention, usually of several years, is the norm.

Table manners

Table manners are formal but the formality is tempered by the religious beliefs of the various groups and most of the places, food is eaten with fingers.

  • Wait to be told where to sit.
  • If utensils are used, they are generally a tablespoon and a fork.
  • Guests are often served in a particular order: the guest of honour is served first, followed by the men, and the children are served last. Women typically serve the men and eat later.
  • You may be asked to wash your hands before and after sitting down to a meal.
  • Always use your right hand to eat, whether you are using utensils or your fingers.
    In some situations food may be put on your plate for you, while in other situations you may be allowed to serve yourself from a communal bowl.
  • Leaving a small amount of food on your plate indicates that you are satisfied. Finishing all your food means that you are still hungry.

Dress Etiquette

Business attire is conservative and men should wear dark colored conservative business suits. The weather often determines clothing. In the hotter parts of the country, dress is less formal, although dressing as suggested above for the first meeting will indicate respect.


  • Indians revere titles such as Professor, Doctor and Engineer.
  • Status is determined by age, university degree, caste and profession.
  • If someone does not have a professional title, use the honorific title “Sir” or “Madam”.
  • Titles are used with the person’s name or the surname, depending upon the person’s name.
  • Wait to be invited before using someone’s first name without the title.


Pakistan is a Muslim state and local customs, such as dress and behavior, should be respected. Always dress modestly as men and women should cover their shoulders and legs when in public. Women should cover their heads when entering mosques or other holy places, and when traveling in more rural areas.

Importing alcohol and pork products is illegal. Possession of even small quantities of illegal drugs can lead to imprisonment and drug smuggling can attract the death penalty.

You are advised not to take photographs at military establishments, airports or any infrastructure, including bridges and dams or from aircraft.


Criminal violence, including armed car-jacking, robbery, kidnap and murder, is common, especially in Karachi and therefore travelers have been offered drugged food and then robbed.  You should be very careful and confident of your personal security arrangements throughout your visit. Much of Baluchistan, rural Sindh and the North West Frontier Province, including the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas and Agencies, have a high incidence of lawlessness. Beware of the risk of street crime and take personal security measures.  Take particular care to safeguard your passport and bank cards, particularly when traveling by public transport and when walking in crowded areas.


Turkey has strict laws against the use, possession or trafficking of illegal drugs.  If you are convicted of any of these offences, you can expect to receive a heavy fine and a prison sentence of up to 15 years. Normally, the dress code in Turkey is the same as in Europe, however, you should dress modestly if visiting a mosque or a religious shrine (long trousers or dress and women should wear a headscarf). Do not take photographs near military or official installations and seek permission before photographing individuals.


Incidents of violent crime against tourists in Turkey are rare. Street robbery and pick pocketing are common in the major tourist areas of Istanbul. There have been a number of cases of theft from apartments in some of the coastal resorts. Visitors should heed the advice of their local tour operator representative.

Road safety

You should take particular care when traveling by road throughout Turkey, as road conditions and driving standards can be poor. Serious traffic accidents are common particularly at night.

Some other countries;

Clothing: Wearing shorts in public is generally not acceptable in most parts of the world, including some European countries. In Arab countries, low necklines, sleeveless shirts, and short skirts are definitely a bad idea. When in doubt, dress conservatively. Also, while it is tempting to dress in the local style, like wearing a sari in India, be sensitive to the culture – sometimes the local citizenry will appreciate your attempt to fit in; sometimes it will be considered an insult.

Greetings/touching: Handshakes are an almost universally accepted form of greeting, although in some countries, like Japan, a traditional bow from the waist down is preferred. Be careful how you address someone; don’t use first names unless you are invited to do so. In some countries, you’ll see a lot of hugging and kissing going on among the locals (Greece, Italy, Latin countries, Slavic countries); an affectionate hug or peck on the cheek that you share with a new acquaintance is fine, but usually if you are responding to, not initiating it.

Language/Gestures: Taking a crash course in the language of the country you will be visiting rarely results in the mastery of the language. Instead, learn some polite expressions (hello-goodbye-thank you) and relax. English is pretty common worldwide, especially in tourist areas, and you can always include body language to get your message across. However, some American gestures have totally different meanings in other countries. For example, in Bulgaria, shaking your head horizontally means “yes”; shaking it vertically means “no”. Also using the American gesture for “OK” (the thumb and forefinger making a circle with the other fingers pointing up) can be embarrassing. In Brazil that gesture means “screw you”: in Japan it means “money”: in Southern France it means “zero” or “worthless”.

Food/Drink: You may find yourself staring down at a local delicacy – snake soup in China, a yak burger in Tibet, sheep’s eyes in Saudi Arabia, calves’ brains in France – and wonder what to do, particularly if you are a guest in someone’s home. Be brave, take small bites, and pretend it tastes like something you like. When presented with a strong alcoholic drink, like ouzo in Greece, take small sips and stop when you must (you can refuse, citing medical reasons as your excuse). Remember that Hindus and some Buddhists don’t eat beef (the cow is sacred); Muslims don’t eat pork, and strict Muslims abstain from alcohol. If you are eating with Muslims, never touch food with your left hand (the left hand is for bathroom use and is considered unsanitary; using it would be very offensive).

Socializing/conversations: If you are acquainted with the history and culture of the country, you shouldn’t get unnerved. In general, some topics can be touchy or controversial, like money, religion, politics, and sex. But the particular nature of the people is critical. The Japanese do not want to talk about World War II; the French scowl at the classic American question: “What do you do for a living?”; the Chinese call their country “China” or the “People’s Republic of China” – not “the Mainland”; people in Scotland are “Scots” or “Scotsmen,” not “Scotch” (the drink) or “Scottish” (the language or the terrier).

Something to remember

Do not blow your nose in public as it is a sign of bad manner in Japan. The best would be to sniffle until you are alone. It is also seen as bad manners to open a gift you receive in front of the gift giver. The best would be to thank and wait until opening it when you are alone. When it comes to business cards, you should read it before you put it in your pocket or wallet.

Dinner in the evening? Then take a long shower or relax at home before you arrive. People do not arrive right on time in France or Latin America as people tend not to be on time because arriving right on time seems like you are greedy rather than being polite. Last, know your time as when the first people leave the table, the others follow after. Staying late will make you look like you are misusing the hosts hospitality.

In China, the food is eaten with chopsticks, therefore never leave the chopsticks vertical on the rice bowl but  horizontal because it will remind of incense the Chinese use under funerals and seem rather offensive. And if you are served fish, do not turn the fish around cause according to superstition belief, if you turn the fish, the fishing boat will turn over in the sea as a result of an accident. But it is good to drink as Chinese people enjoy the company where alcohol is floating since peoples true colors come forward when they are drunk.

It is important to be careful in when traveling in Russia. Try to avoid these;

Do not shake hands in the doorway, light a cigarette from a candle or whistle inside. It is also important to not kiss someone on the forehead and give flowers containing of a even number as this is done for the deceased.

Important events on January 28nd

  • 1077 – Walk to Canossa: The excommunication of Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor is lifted.
  • 1521 – The Diet of Worms begins, lasting until May 25.
  • 1547 – Henry VIII dies. His nine year old son, Edward VI becomes King, and the first Protestant ruler of England.
  • 1573 – Articles of the Warsaw Confederation are signed, sanctioning freedom of religion in Poland.
  • 1624 – Sir Thomas Warner founds the first British colony in the Caribbean, on the island of Saint Kitts.
  • 1724 – The Russian Academy of Sciences is founded in St. Petersburg by Peter the Great, and implemented by Senate decree. It is called the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences until 1917.
  • 1754 – Horace Walpole coins the word serendipity in a letter to Horace Mann.
  • 1760 – Pownal, Vermont is created by Benning Wentworth as one of the New Hampshire Grants.
  • 1813 – Pride and Prejudice is first published in the United Kingdom.
  • 1820 – A Russian expedition led by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Petrovich Lazarev discovers the Antarctic continent approaching the Antarctic coast.
  • 1846 – The Battle of Aliwal, India, is won by British troops commanded by Sir Harry Smith.
  • 1855 – The first locomotive runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean on the Panama Railway.
  • 1871 – Franco-Prussian War: the Siege of Paris ends in French defeat and an armistice.
  • 1878 – Yale Daily News becomes the first daily college newspaper in the United States.
  • 1887 – In a snowstorm at Fort Keogh, Montana, the world’s largest snowflakes are reported, 15 inches (38 cm) wide and 8 inches (20 cm) thick.
  • 1896 – Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent became the first person to be convicted of speeding. He is fined 1 shilling, plus costs, for speeding at 8 mph (13 km/h), thus exceeding the contemporary speed limit of 2 mph (3.2 km/h).
  • 1902 – The Carnegie Institution is founded in Washington, D.C. with a $10 million gift from Andrew Carnegie.
  • 1909 – United States troops leave Cuba with the exception of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base after being there since the Spanish-American War.
  • 1915 – An act of the U.S. Congress creates the United States Coast Guard.
  • 1916 – Louis D. Brandeis becomes the first Jew appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
  • 1917 – Municipally owned streetcars take to the streets of San Francisco, California.
  • 1918 – Finnish Civil War: Rebels seized control of the capital, Helsinki, and members of the Senate of Finland go underground.
  • 1921 – A symbolic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is installed beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to honor the unknown dead of World War I.
  • 1922 – Knickerbocker Storm, Washington D.C.’s biggest snowfall, causes the city’s greatest loss of life when the roof of the Knickerbocker Theater collapses.
  • 1932 – Japanese forces attack Shanghai.
  • 1933 – The name Pakistan is coined by Choudhary Rehmat Ali Khan and is accepted by the Indian Muslims who then thereby adopted it further for the Pakistan Movement seeking independence.
  • 1934 – The first ski tow in the United States begins operation in Vermont.
  • 1935 – Iceland becomes the first Western country to legalize therapeutic abortion.
  • 1938 – The World Land Speed Record on a public road is broken by driver Rudolf Caracciola in the Mercedes-Benz W195 at a speed of 432.7 kilometres per hour (268.9 mph).
  • 1941 – French-Thai War: Final air battle of the conflict. Japanese-mediated armistice goes into effect later in the day.
  • 1945 – World War II: Supplies begin to reach the Republic of China over the newly reopened Burma Road.
  • 1958 – The Lego company patents the design of its Lego bricks, still compatible with bricks produced today.
  • 1965 – The current design of the Flag of Canada is chosen by an act of Parliament.
  • 1977 – The first day of the Great Lakes Blizzard of 1977, which severely affects and cripples much of Upstate New York, but Buffalo, NY, Syracuse, NY, Watertown, NY, and surrounding areas are most affected, each area accumulating close to 10 feet (3.0 m) of snow on this one day.
  • 1980 – USCGC Blackthorn collides with the tanker Capricorn while leaving Tampa Florida and capsizes killing 23 Coast Guard crewmembers.
  • 1981 – Ronald Reagan lifts remaining domestic petroleum price and allocation controls in the United States helping to end the 1979 energy crisis and begin the 1980s oil glut.
  • 1982 – US Army general James L. Dozier is rescued by Italian anti-terrorism forces from captivity by the Red Brigades.
  • 1984 – Tropical Storm Domoina makes landfall in southern Mozambique, eventually causing 214 deaths and some of the most severe flooding so far recorded in the region.
  • 1985 – Supergroup USA for Africa (United Support of Artists for Africa) records the hit single We Are the World, to help raise funds for Ethiopian famine relief.
  • 1986 – Space Shuttle program: STS-51-L mission – Space Shuttle Challenger breaks apart after liftoff killing all seven astronauts on board.
  • 2002 – TAME Flight 120, a Boeing 727-100 crashes in the Andes mountains in southern Colombia killing 92.
  • 2010 – Five murderers of President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman of Bangladesh: Lieutenant Colonel Syed Faruq Rahman, Lieutenant Colonel Sultan Shahriar Rashid Khan, Major AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, Major Bazlul Huda and Lieutenant Colonel Mohiuddin Ahmed were hanged.

Important events on January 27th

  • 98 – Trajan becomes Roman Emperor after the death of Nerva.
  • 661 – The Rashidun Caliphate ends with death of Ali.
  • 1142 – Execution, believed wrongful, of noted Song Dynasty General Yue Fei.
  • 1186 – Henry VI, the son and heir of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, marries Constance of Sicily.
  • 1343 – Pope Clement VI issues the Bull Unigenitus.
  • 1593 – The Vatican opens seven year trial of scholar Giordano Bruno.
  • 1606 – Gunpowder Plot: The trial of Guy Fawkes and other conspirators begins, ending with their execution on January 31.
  • 1695 – Mustafa II becomes the Ottoman sultan in Istanbul on the death of Ahmed II. Mustafa rules until his abdication in 1703.
  • 1785 – The University of Georgia is founded, the first public university in the United States.
  • 1825 – The U.S. Congress approves Indian Territory (in what is present-day Oklahoma), clearing the way for forced relocation of the Eastern Indians on the “Trail of Tears”.
  • 1870 – The Kappa Alpha Theta fraternity is founded at DePauw University.
  • 1888 – The National Geographic Society is founded in Washington, D.C..
  • 1909 – The Young Left is founded in Norway.
  • 1918 – The first hostilities occur in the Finnish Civil War.
  • 1939 – First flight of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning.
  • 1943 – World War II: The VIII Bomber Command dispatched ninety-one B-17s and B-24s to attack the U-Boat construction yards at Wilhemshafen, Germany. The first American bombing attack on Germany.
  • 1944 – World War II: The 900-day Siege of Leningrad is lifted.
  • 1945 – World War II: The Red Army liberates the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland.
  • 1951 – Nuclear testing at the Nevada Test Site begins with a one-kiloton bomb dropped on Frenchman Flat.
  • 1967 – Apollo program: Apollo 1 – Astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee are killed in a fire during a test of their spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center.
  • 1967 – More than sixty nations sign the Outer Space Treaty banning nuclear weapons in space.
  • 1973 – The Paris Peace Accords officially end the Vietnam War. Colonel William Nolde is killed in action becoming the conflict’s last recorded American combat casualty.
  • 1974 – The Brisbane River breaches its banks causing the largest flood to affect the city of Brisbane in the 20th Century
  • 1980 – Through cooperation between the U.S. and Canadian governments, six American diplomats secretly escape hostilities in Iran in the culmination of the Canadian caper.
  • 1983 – The pilot shaft of the Seikan Tunnel, the world’s longest sub-aqueous tunnel (53.85 km) between the Japanese islands of Honshū and Hokkaidō, breaks through.
  • 1984 – Pop singer Michael Jackson suffers second and third degree burns to his scalp during the filming of a Pepsi commercial in the Shrine Auditorium.
  • 1996 – In a military coup Colonel Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara deposes the first democratically elected president of Niger, Mahamane Ousmane.
  • 1996 – Germany first observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
  • 2003 – The first selections for the National Recording Registry are announced by the Library of Congress.
  • 2006 – Western Union discontinues its Telegram and Commercial Messaging services.

Important events on January 26th

  • 1340 – King Edward III of England is declared King of France.
  • 1500 – Vicente Yáñez Pinzón becomes the first European to set foot on Brazil.
  • 1531 – Lisbon, Portugal is hit by an earthquake–thousands die.
  • 1564 – The Council of Trent issues its conclusions in the Tridentinum, establishing a distinction between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism.
  • 1565 – Battle of Talikota, fought between the Vijayanagara Empire and the Islamic sultanates of the Deccan, leads to the subjugation, and eventual destruction of the last Hindu kingdom in India, and the consolidation of Islamic rule over much of the Indian subcontinent.
  • 1589 – Job is elected as Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.
  • 1699 – Treaty of Carlowitz is signed.
  • 1700 – The magnitude 9 Cascadia Earthquake takes place off the west coast of the North America, as evidenced by Japanese records.
  • 1736 – Stanislaus I of Poland abdicates his throne.
  • 1788 – The British First Fleet, led by Arthur Phillip, sails into Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to establish Sydney, the first permanent European settlement on the continent. Commemorated as Australia Day
  • 1808 – Rum Rebellion, the only successful (albeit short-lived) armed takeover of the government in Australia.
  • 1837 – Michigan is admitted as the 26th U.S. state.
  • 1838 – Tennessee enacts the first prohibition law in the United States
  • 1841 – The United Kingdom formally occupies Hong Kong, which China later formally cedes.
  • 1855 – Point No Point Treaty is signed in Washington Territory.
  • 1856 – First Battle of Seattle. Marines from the USS Decatur drive off American Indian attackers after all day battle with settlers.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: The state of Louisiana secedes from the Union.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: General Ambrose Burnside is relieved of command of the Army of the Potomac after the disastrous Fredericksburg campaign. He is replaced by Joseph Hooker.
  • 1863 – American Civil War: Governor of Massachusetts John Albion Andrew receives permission from Secretary of War to raise a militia organization for men of African descent.
  • 1870 – American Civil War: Virginia rejoins the Union.
  • 1885 – Troops loyal to The Mahdi conquer Khartoum.
  • 1905 – The Cullinan Diamond is found at the Premier Mine near Pretoria in South Africa.
  • 1907 – The Short Magazine Lee-Enfield Mk III is officially introduced into British Military Service, and remains the oldest military rifle still in official use.
  • 1911 – Glenn H. Curtiss flies the first successful American seaplane.
  • 1911 – Richard Strauss’ opera Der Rosenkavalier receives its debut performance at the Dresden State Opera.
  • 1918 – Finnish Civil War: A group of Red Guards hangs a red lantern atop the tower of Helsinki Workers’ Hall to symbolically mark the start of the war.
  • 1920 – Former Ford Motor Company executive Henry Leland launches the Lincoln Motor Company which he later sold to his former employer.
  • 1924 – St.Petersburg is renamed Leningrad
  • 1930 – The Indian National Congress declares 26 January as Independence Day or as the day for Poorna Swaraj (Complete Independence) which occurred 20 years later.
  • 1934 – The Apollo Theater reopens in Harlem, New York City.
  • 1934 – German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact is signed.
  • 1939 – Spanish Civil War: Troops loyal to nationalist General Francisco Franco and aided by Italy take Barcelona.
  • 1942 – World War II: The first United States forces arrive in Europe landing in Northern Ireland.
  • 1950 – The Constitution of India comes into force, forming a republic. Rajendra Prasad is sworn in as its first President of India. Observed as Republic Day in India.
  • 1952 – Black Saturday in Egypt: rioters burn Cairo’s central business district, targeting British and upper-class Egyptian businesses.
  • 1958 – Japanese ferry Nankai Maru capsizes off southern Awaji Island, Japan, 167 killed.
  • 1960 – Danny Heater sets a worldwide high school basketball scoring record when he records 135 points for Burnsville High School (West Virginia)
  • 1961 – John F. Kennedy appoints Janet G. Travell to be his physician. This is the first time a woman holds this appointment.
  • 1962 – Ranger program: Ranger 3 is launched to study the moon. The space probe later misses the moon by 22,000 miles (35,400 km).
  • 1965 – Hindi becomes the official language of India.
  • 1966 – The Beaumont Children go missing from Glenelg Beach near Adelaide, South Australia.
  • 1978 – The Great Blizzard of 1978, a rare severe blizzard with the lowest non-tropical atmospheric pressure ever recorded in the US, strikes the Ohio – Great Lakes region with heavy snow and winds up to 100 mph (161 km/h).
  • 1980 – Israel and Egypt establish diplomatic relations.
  • 1991 – Mohamed Siad Barre is removed from power in Somalia, ending centralized government, and is succeeded by Ali Mahdi.
  • 1992 – Boris Yeltsin announces that Russia will stop targeting United States cities with nuclear weapons.
  • 1998 – Lewinsky scandal: On American television, U.S. President Bill Clinton denies having had “sexual relations” with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
  • 2001 – An earthquake hits Gujarat, India, causing more than 20,000 deaths.
  • 2004 – President Hamid Karzai signs the new constitution of Afghanistan.
  • 2004 – A whale explodes in the town of Tainan, Taiwan. A build-up of gas in the decomposing sperm whale is suspected of causing the explosion.
  • 2005 – Glendale train crash: Two trains derail killing 11 and injuring 200 in Glendale, California, near Los Angeles.

Vitamins and Minerals

We all know that we need these important vitamins and minerals. Some of us get too little and others enough or more. But do we know which one that is in our food?


What Are Vitamins and Minerals?

Vitamins and minerals make people’s bodies work well. Although you get vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat every day, some foods have more vitamins and minerals than others.

Vitamins fall into two categories: fat soluble and water soluble. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K — dissolve in fat and can be stored in your body. The water-soluble vitamins C and the B-complex vitamins (such as vitamins B6, B12, niacin, riboflavin, and folate) need to dissolve in water before your body can absorb them. Because of this, your body can’t store these vitamins. Any vitamin C or B that your body doesn’t use as it passes through your system is lost so that’s why we need a fresh supply of these vitamins every day.

Whereas vitamins are organic substances (made by plants or animals), minerals are inorganic elements that come from the soil and water and are absorbed by plants or eaten by animals. Your body needs larger amounts of some minerals, such as calcium, to grow and stay healthy. Other minerals like chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc are called trace minerals because you only need very small amounts of them each day.

What Do Vitamins and Minerals Do?

Vitamins and minerals boost the immune system; support normal growth and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs. For example, you’ve probably heard that carrots are good for your eyes. It’s true! Carrots are full of substances called carotenoids that your body converts into vitamin A, which helps prevent eye problems.

Another vitamin, vitamin K, helps blood to clot (so cuts and scrapes stop bleeding quickly). You’ll find vitamin K in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and soybeans. And to have strong bones, you need to eat foods such as milk, yogurt, and green leafy vegetables, which are rich in the mineral calcium.


Vitamin What the vitamin does Significant food sources
B1 (thiamin) Supports energy metabolism and nerve function spinach, green peas, tomato juice, watermelon, sunflower seeds, lean ham, lean pork chops, soy milk
B2 (riboflavin) Supports energy metabolism, normal vision and skin health spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, eggs, milk, liver, oysters, clams
B3 (niacin) Supports energy metabolism, skin health, nervous system and digestive system spinach, potatoes, tomato juice, lean ground beef, chicken breast, tuna (canned in water), liver, shrimp
Biotin Energy metabolism, fat synthesis, amino acid metabolism, glycogen synthesis widespread in foods
Pantothenic Acid Supports energy metabolism widespread in foods
B6 (pyridoxine) Amino acid and fatty acid metabolism, red blood cell production bananas, watermelon, tomato juice, broccoli, spinach, acorn squash, potatoes, white rice, chicken breast
Folate Supports DNA synthesis and new cell formation tomato juice, green beans, broccoli, spinach, asparagus, okra, black-eyed peas, lentils, navy, pinto and garbanzo beans
B12 Used in new cell synthesis, helps break down fatty acids and amino acids, supports nerve cell maintenance meats, poultry, fish, shellfish, milk, eggs
C (ascorbic acid) Collagen synthesis, amino acid metabolism, helps iron absorption, immunity, antioxidant spinach, broccoli, red bell peppers, snow peas, tomato juice, kiwi, mango, orange, grapefruit juice, strawberries
A (retinol) Supports vision, skin, bone and tooth growth, immunity and reproduction mango, broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, tomato juice, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, beef liver
D Promotes bone mineralization self-synthesis via sunlight, fortified milk, egg yolk, liver, fatty fish
E Antioxidant, regulation of oxidation reactions, supports cell membrane stabilization polyunsaturated plant oils (soybean, corn and canola oils), wheat germ, sunflower seeds, tofu, avocado, sweet potatoes, shrimp, cod
K Synthesis of blood-clotting proteins, regulates blood calcium Brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetables, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, liver


Mineral What the mineral does Significant food sources
Sodium Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, supports muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmissions salt, soy sauce, bread, milk, meats
Chloride Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, aids in digestion salt, soy sauce, milk, eggs, meats
Potassium Maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, cell integrity, muscle contractions and nerve impulse transmission potatoes, acorn squash, artichoke, spinach, broccoli, carrots, green beans, tomato juice, avocado, grapefruit juice, watermelon, banana, strawberries, cod, milk
Calcium Formation of bones and teeth, supports blood clotting milk, yogurt, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, tofu, sardines, green beans, spinach, broccoli
Phosphorus Formation of cells, bones and teeth, maintains acid-base balance all animal foods (meats, fish, poultry, eggs, milk)
Magnesium Supports bone mineralization, protein building, muscular contraction, nerve impulse transmission, immunity spinach, broccoli, artichokes, green beans, tomato juice, navy beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas,  sunflower seeds, tofu, cashews, halibut
Iron Part of the protein hemoglobin (carries oxygen throughout body’s cells) artichoke, parsley, spinach, broccoli, green beans, tomato juice, tofu, clams, shrimp, beef liver
Zinc A part of many enzymes, involved in production of genetic material and proteins, transports vitamin A, taste perception, wound healing, sperm production and the normal development of the fetus spinach, broccoli, green peas, green beans, tomato juice,lentils, oysters, shrimp, crab, turkey (dark meat), lean ham, lean ground beef, lean sirloin steak, plain yogurt, Swiss cheese, tofu, ricotta cheese
Selenium Antioxidant.  Works with vitamin E to protect body from oxidation seafood, meats and grains
Iodine Component of thyroid hormones that help regulate growth, development and metabolic rate salt, seafood, bread, milk, cheese
Copper Necessary for the absorption and utilization of iron, supports formation of hemoglobin and several enzymes meats, water
Manganese Facilitates many cell processes widespread in foods
Fluoride Involved in the formation of bones and teeth, helps to make teeth resistant to decay fluoridated drinking water, tea, seafood
Chromium Associated with insulin and is required for the release of energy from glucose vegetable oils, liver, brewer’s yeast, whole grains, cheese, nuts
Molybdenum Facilitates many cell processes legumes, organ meats

Important events on January 25st

  • 41 – After a night of negotiation, Claudius is accepted as Roman Emperor by the Senate.
  • 1327 – Edward III becomes King of England.
  • 1494 – Alfonso II becomes King of Naples.
  • 1533 – Henry VIII of England secretly marries his second wife Anne Boleyn.
  • 1554 – Founding of São Paulo city, Brazil.
  • 1573 – Battle of Mikatagahara, in Japan; Takeda Shingen defeats Tokugawa Ieyasu.
  • 1575 – Luanda, the capital of Angola was founded by the Portuguese navigator Paulo Dias de Novais.
  • 1755 – Moscow University is established on Tatiana Day.
  • 1787 – American Daniel Shays leads a rebellion to seize Federal arsenal to protest debtor’s prisons.
  • 1791 – The British Parliament passes the Constitutional Act of 1791 and splits the old province of Quebec into Upper and Lower Canada.
  • 1792 – The London Corresponding Society is founded.
  • 1858 – The Wedding March by Felix Mendelssohn becomes a popular wedding recessional after it is played on this day at the marriage of Queen Victoria’s daughter, Victoria, and Friedrich of Prussia.
  • 1879 – The Bulgarian National Bank is founded.
  • 1881 – Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell form the Oriental Telephone Company.
  • 1890 – Nellie Bly completes her round-the-world journey in 72 days.
  • 1909 – Richard Strauss’ opera Elektra receives its debut performance at the Dresden State Opera.
  • 1915 – Alexander Graham Bell inaugurates U.S. transcontinental telephone service, speaking from New York to Thomas Watson in San Francisco.
  • 1918 – The Ukraine declares independence from Bolshevik Russia.
  • 1919 – The League of Nations is founded.
  • 1924 – The 1924 Winter Olympics opens in Chamonix, France (in the French Alps), inaugurating the Winter Olympic Games.
  • 1937 – The Guiding Light debuts on NBC radio from Chicago. In 1952 it moves to CBS television, where it remains until Sept. 18, 2009.
  • 1941 – Pope Pius XII elevates the Apostolic Vicariate of the Hawaiian Islands to the dignity of a diocese. It becomes the Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu.
  • 1942 – World War II: Thailand declares war on the United States and United Kingdom.
  • 1945 – World War II: The Battle of the Bulge ends.
  • 1946 – The United Mine Workers rejoins the American Federation of Labor.
  • 1949 – At the Hollywood Athletic Club the first Emmy Awards are presented.
  • 1955 – The Soviet Union ends state of war with Germany.
  • 1960 – The National Association of Broadcasters reacts to the Payola scandal by threatening fines for any disc jockeys who accept money for playing particular records.
  • 1961 – In Washington, D.C. John F. Kennedy delivers the first live presidential television news conference.
  • 1969 – Brazilian Army captain Carlos Lamarca deserts in order to fight against the military dictatorship, taking with him 10 machine guns and 63 rifles.
  • 1971 – Charles Manson and three female “Family” members are found guilty of the 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders.
  • 1971 – Idi Amin leads a coup deposing Milton Obote and becomes Uganda’s president.
  • 1971 – Himachal Pradesh becomes the 18th Indian state.
  • 1981 – Jiang Qing, the widow of Mao Zedong, is sentenced to death.
  • 1986 – The National Resistance Movement topples the government of Tito Okello in Uganda.
  • 1990 – The Burns’ Day storm hits northwestern Europe.
  • 1993 – Five people are shot outside the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia resulting in two murders.
  • 1994 – The Clementine space probe launches.
  • 1995 – The Norwegian Rocket Incident: Russia almost launches a nuclear attack after it mistakes Black Brant XII, a Norwegian research rocket, for a US Trident missile.
  • 1996 – Billy Bailey became the last person to be hanged in the United States of America.
  • 1998 – During a historic visit to Cuba, Pope John Paul II demands the release of political prisoners and political reforms while condemning US attempts to isolate the country.
  • 1998 – A suicide attack by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on Sri Lanka’s Temple of the Tooth kills 8 people and injures 25 others.
  • 1999 – A 6.0 Richter scale earthquake hits western Colombia killing at least 1,000.
  • 2001 – A 50-year-old Douglas DC-3 crashes near Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela killing 24.
  • 2002 – Wikipedia switches to the new version of its software (“Phase II”), aka Magnus Manske Day.
  • 2004 – Opportunity rover (MER-B) lands on surface of Mars.
  • 2005 – A stampede at the Mandher Devi temple in Mandhradevi in India kills at least 258.
  • 2006 – Three independent observing campaigns announce the discovery of OGLE-2005-BLG-390Lb through gravitational microlensing, the first cool rocky/icy extrasolar planet around a main-sequence star.
  • 2010 – Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 crashes into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after take-off from Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport, killing all 90 people on-board.

Part 2, Origin of Sufism

Part 2

Origin of Sufism

Sufism is the mystical dimension of Islam based on the “inner-meaning” of its scripture, mainly the Qur’an. The followers seek to find divine truth and love through direct encounters with God. Sufism’s central doctrine is based on a verse of the Qur’an; in which God says, “I created man and breathed My spirit into him.” This “Divine spark” placed into every individual, says the Sufi, must be nurtured and cherished. Secondly, each individual’s spirit was separated from the Universal Spirit, and desires to return and reunite with the Universal spirit. This is confirmed by another verse in the Qur’an, which says “from God we came, and to God shall we return.” This “returning” is vital and central to the Sufi doctrine. Today, the Sufi’s are on a spiritual journey known as the Sufi Path; a path of devotion and love; which leads to none other than God.

1. Origin and Background

The word “Sufi is derived from the Arabic word “suf,” meaning “wool,” because garments woven from wool were generally worn by early mystics, who came to be known as “Sufis.” A Sufi is a mystic, if by “mystic” we mean a person who strives towards intimate knowledge or communion with God; through contemplation, meditation and/or “inner-vision.”

The origin of Sufism goes back to Prophet Muhammad, when he received the Divine Revelation “Qur’an,” over a period of 23 years altogether. The Holy Qur’an is a revelation with verses that can be interpreted literally, metaphorically, philosophically, and mystically. The Prophet used to explain and clarify the meaning of each chapter and verse of the Qur’an to his immediate friends and companions as he received them but to a few selected of his Companions he explained the mystical interpretation of the verses by starting a “chain of transmission” of the esoteric meaning of the Qur’an. This was conveyed “word of mouth” from master to pupil/disciple. Later this oral tradition has continued from generation to generation to the present day. It is interesting to note that the “Sufi pledge” between a Sufi-master and his disciple is still done orally but it was much later that Sufi teaching and practices were formally laid down in writing for future generations to come.

In the time of Umayyad caliphate (661-750 CE), Sufism began as a reaction to the materialistic and wealthy living and focused on altruistic love and union with God. Sufi teachers had started to attract large numbers of followers and settled down in established communities as they shared ideas.

During the colonial time, Sufi orders achieved a great military success as they resisted European dominance and colony ship in Africa. Others resisted the Russian expansion in the Caucasus and Central Asia as they had close ties to the Islamic Mughal and Ottoman Empire. One of the biggest reasons that Islam was fast growing and spreading in Africa and Asia, was the teachings of that all people from all faiths can experience the divine presence.

But there was also opposition within the Muslim world in the 20th century, when reformers started to criticize mysticism and superstition, an example when Turkish reformer Mustafa Kemal Atatürk banned the Sufi orders in 1925, but Sufism never stopped flourishing, especially in Africa and South Asia.

Sufi mysticism grew out of early Islamic scholars as the Muslim communities were expanding. Sufism has been known in Transoxania and Khorasan since its very beginning and some of the greatest and most known Sufi’s came from these regions such as Al-Farabi (9th century CE), Al-Ghazali (12th century CE) and Jalāl-ad-Dīn Rūmī (13th century CE). Some scholars traced the origin of Sufism back to the 8th and 9th century AD, when new emphasis began to develop within the religion of Islam. For many Muslims, the Shari’ah, as necessary as it was for them didn’t satisfy their deepest spiritual longings and desires. The search for a deeper meaning led to the development of a mystical side of Islam known as “tasawwuf” or “Sufism”.

Islamic mysticism had several stages of growth. The first stage of Sufism appeared in pious circles as a reaction against the worldliness of the early Umayyad period (AD 661-749). From the practices they performed by constantly mediating on the Qur’anic words, the worshippers became known as “those who always weep” and those who considered this world “a hut of sorrows”. The introduction of love, changed ascetism into mysticism is described by Rabi’ah al- Adawiyah (d.801), a woman from Basra, Iraq who fist formulated the Sufi ideal of love of God. In the years after Rabi’ah, mystical trends and traditions grew everywhere in the Islamic world and some generations concentrated their efforts upon tawakhul “absolute trust in God” which later became a central concept of Sufism.

2. Formative Years

The formative years of Sufism were between 620 and 1100 AD, as the Sufi masters, known in Arabic as “Sheikhs,” as they started to form the first Sufi orders but they were met with great hostility and resistance from certain sections of the Muslim communities when it came to interpretation of Islamic Theology and Law. Some early Sufis were even persecuted on account of their mystical utterances and beliefs as well, but there were also those who achieved great eminence because of their piety and practices. Between these we can find names such as Rabi’yah Basri (a female Sufi teacher, whose beautiful prayers and poems helped transform Sufism to a tradition of mystical love), Junaid Ibrahim Adheim and Hasan Basri. The most famous Sufi-martyr was Al-Hallaj of Basra in Iraq. The most notable one was the great theologian and philosopher Al Ghazalli who lived in Syria in the year of 1100 AD. His works, such as “Reconstruction of Religious Sciences,” the “Alchemy of Happiness,” and other works, convinced the Islamic world that Sufism and its teachings originated from the Qur’an and were compatible with Islamic thought and theology. With this he bridged the gap between traditional and mystical Islam.

3. Orders and lodges

Under the rule of kings and sultans, prominent Sufi masters received financial grants to build lodges and hospices to house the masters; their disciples, students, novices and even travellers. The lodges, soon after developed into schools of Sufi learning and scholarship, and attracted more. Attached to the lodges were other places of learning, such as colleges and universities; where students could learn Islamic law, theology, philosophy, and natural sciences. One of the well-known orders is the “Qadiryya” founded by the great Sufi-master Abdul Qadir Gilani in Iraq. Others were founded in different parts of the Islamic world by Sufi-masters such as Jalāl-ad-Dīn Rūmī in Turkey (originally from Balkh in Afghanistan), Suharwardy in Asia Minor, and Muinuddin Chishti in India. Although they were in different regions, their basic teachings and practices remained fundamentally the same and because of this, a mutual respect and admiration exists between various orders. It is estimated, that presently, there are some 40 Sufi Orders in the world.

4. Rituals and Practices

The Holy Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad and his hadith’s (narrations concerning the words and deeds of the Prophet) are sacred and very important to Sufi’s and they refer to the Prophet as their Master from whom they derive their spirituality and devotional practice where they strive after and focus on achieving a mystical union with God (described as the Beloved). They describe God’s unity, mercy and beauty in a loving way. Islam teaches that Muslims are on a path that will guide them close to God and paradise after the final judgment but it’s possible to experience the divine presence in this life as well.

The practices vary from prayers to chanting. Tombs of saints and great scholars are popular places for prayer, pilgrimage and festivals in South Asia. Dhikr (remembrance) involves repetition of God’s name or phrases from the Qur’an. These are the most important aspects and helps to draw us closer to God but to achieve this, there must be performed daily devotional exercises and rituals. Those who want to become Sufi’s, must first become disciples to a master (sheikh), who instructs in important terms such as humility, self-denial and patience. The disciple has to follow the master until he/she has and experiences an inner understanding of God and universal love.

It is very difficult to summarize all the practices and rituals associated with the various orders however; there are certain practices that are common in all orders:

1. Ritual prayer and fasting according to Islamic injunctions.
2. Remembrance of the “spiritual lineage” of each order. It is based on the Qur’anic verse in which God says; “Remember Me and I will remember you. It ultimate’s to create a spiritual awareness and love for God. It should be remembered that dhikr is not only performed by Sufi’s but of all Muslims as a part of the Islamic prayer and devotion.
3. The practice of “dhikr,” (remembrance) of God, by invocation.
4. Meditative and contemplative practices, including intensive spiritual training, in “spiritual retreats” from time to time.
5. Listening to musical concerts, to enhance mystical awareness.

Aspiring Sufi’s had to undergo a period of very intense training in self-discipline as they had to learn to control their instincts and desires while they were being guided by their Sufi-master, because it was the master who decided if they were ready to be initiated into the order. The initiation was and still is a “solemn pledge” by the novice as he/she has to obey the master implicitly in all matters both spiritually and morally. The master pledges in turn to teach and guide the new novice along the Sufi path and to find an “inner truth” which stems from the heart not from the mind. It is Sufism who has developed religious practices as it focuses on strict self-control to enable psychological and mystical insights as well as a loss of self to unite with God. The leaders must also train and assist their disciples in writing and reciting poetry and hymns as some of the most beautiful literature of the Islamic world has been written by Sufi’s for devotional purposes and there are many translated into different languages worldwide.

Another ritual and practice includes the recitation of God’s names as well as bodily rituals such as the “Whirling Dervishes,” a Turkish Sufi order that practices meditation and contemplation of God through spinning. The founder of Maulavi order in Turkey in 1200 AD, Jalāl-ad-Dīn Rūmī permitted this “mystical dance.” It’s not only a dance but has a deep symbolic and interpretation and meaning. Devout Sufi masters who led highly devotional and spiritual lives were elevated to sainthood. The Sufis believe in that a Sufi saint (although he has been dead for hundreds of years) can still make his “spiritual presence” to his disciples. It is therefore a common practice among Sufis to visit the tombs of Sufi saints to pay respect, recite Sûrah Fatiha (the first chapter in the Holy Qur’an) and/or other Quranic verses, pray to God for isa-e-thawab (praying to God that the rewards of such recitations be bestowed on the dead), and ask for the deceased saint’s blessings.

Other practices include prayer, fasting and meditation as they are directed by and under strict guidance of their master, enter into a “spiritual retreat” (usually between 3-40 days or for 24 hours) under strict prayer and meditation and daytime fasting. Through these practices, the Sufi is prepared to enter the spiritual journey on a path that leads towards God through love and devotion.

5. The Path and its teachings

A Sufi believes that every individual person’s spirit has a desire to unite with God after death but also that it’s possible to “experience God’s presence” in this life. This is the goal of every Sufi but only a few of the elite has experienced it in such way. The Sufi that seeks God must go through some stages like “repentance”, “abstinence”, “renunciation”, “poverty”, “patience” and “trust in God”.

The main teaching in Sufism is love, divine love. The Qur’an states that “God’s mercy is greater than His wrath”. The Sufi has the fear of God and “God’s wrath of the Day of Judgment.” For this, the Sufi maintains strict obedience to God’s commands, but not out of fear, but rather for the desire and pleasure and bounties of the reward of Paradise and with the sincere motive and intention of attaining unity with God. Something that is worth to be mentioned is that the Sufi longs for what is beyond Paradise, the vision of God himself that is considered as the ultimate reward after entering Paradise. Nothing is sweeter to them when the Lord removes his “veil”, the garb of grandeur.

God has created the man with free will and love and therefore the main thing in Sufism is love. Based on this, the Sufi walks on the path of love as he/she becomes a lover and God the beloved. This “love affair” ends with the ultimate union with the Beloved as it is described in the Sufi literature and poetry.

The primary teaching in Sufism is called “tawheed” in Arabic and emphasizes in the Oneness and Uniqueness of God. Sufi writers have through the year’s written volumes on this subject explaining immanence and transcendence. Further, Sufism also teaches that there is both an outer law, the Shar’iah and an inner law that consists of rules of repentance and a virtuous and pious character. Sufism is the product of Islam’s native soil and verses in the Qur’an backs up the mystical interpretation.

Last, Sufism is also more open to the leadership of women as there have been hundreds of female Sufi teachers and women seen as saints and some have even had built shrines in their honour.

6. Literature and Poetry

Sufism in earlier time was transferred orally from master to disciple but around 1000 AD, its teachings were put into writing for the next centuries to come and flourished into forms of mystic tales, anecdotes, philosophy, metaphysic and mystical poetry.

The Sufi manuals were written for the purpose of being instruction of practice for the new disciples on correct behaviour and conduct within the order as well as dealing with strict obedience to the master, methods of remembrance (dhikr), mediation and devotion to God. A famous manual was written by Ibn Arabi called “Journey to the Lord of Power,” a handbook for spiritual retreat.

Tales and anecdotes written as literature are meant for the purpose of “teaching tales” to achieve morality. A classical example is Attar’s “Conference of the Birds.”

The Sufi poetry is recited to enhance a mystical awareness. Jalāl-ad-Dīn Rūmī is best known in the West for his poetry called “Masnavi” and “Divan-I-shams.”

7. Sufi Music and Dance

The practice of music and dance in Sufism is not universally accepted by all Sufis as some Sufi orders frown upon it. Others meditate in the recitation of mystical poetry, accompanied by musical instruments and performed as part of their prayers and devotions. Some Sufis consider such music as “mystical ecstasy,” and these Sufis maintain that music can arouse passion – either sensual or spiritual. It is spiritual passion, desiring and longing for God that is the Sufi’s goal to reach. The Sufi dance, founded by the Sufi master Jalāl-ad-Dīn Rūmī is called “whirling dervishes.”

8. Aspects

There are two aspects of Sufism, “practical Sufism” that deals with the practice and “philosophical Sufism,” that deals with the way and how Sufism is practiced. An example is; a philosopher looks at the water and describes its properties while a Sufi drinks it to quench his thirst.

Sufism was in fact brought to the west within a period of 200 years by several different western scholars who were Christian missionaries. It is now that the western scholars look and study Sufism within the framework of Islamic theology and traditions as they present it as “the mystical dimension of Islam.”

For the devotional type of Sufi, there is enough inspiring material in the Quran itself, but the Prophet is believed to have left for his select disciples a good deal more than what is embodied in the Holy Book. It is believed that he taught certain doctrines to a few selected companions, and that Sufism is actually based on these doctrines. Who told him about these mysteries in the first place many will wonder. The answer is the “awliyà”, the saints, those invisible spiritual guides Sufis believe.

It is said that he taught certain esoteric doctrines to a few select companions and that Sufism is based on those doctrines. The question arises, who initiated him in those mysteries? The answer is, the awliyā the saints, the invisible spiritual guides and the masters of compassion, in whose existence and benign dis­pensations the Sufis believe.

Important events on January 24st

  • 41 – Gaius Caesar (Caligula), known for his eccentricity and cruel despotism, is assassinated by his disgruntled Praetorian Guards. Claudius succeeds his nephew.
  • 1438 – The Council of Basel suspends Pope Eugene IV as Prelate of Ethiopia, arrives at Massawa from Goa.
  • 1679 – King Charles II of England disbands Parliament.
  • 1742 – Charles VII Albert becomes Holy Roman Emperor.
  • 1776 – Henry Knox arrives at Cambridge, Massachusetts with the artillery that he has transported from Fort Ticonderoga.
  • 1826 – Mississippi College is founded in Clinton, becoming the first college in the state of Mississippi.
  • 1848 – California Gold Rush: James W. Marshall finds gold at Sutter’s Mill near Sacramento.
  • 1857 – The University of Calcutta is formally founded as the first full-fledged university in south Asia.
  • 1859 – Political union of Moldavia and Wallachia; Alexandru Ioan Cuza is elected as ruler.
  • 1862 – Bucharest proclaimed capital of Romania.
  • 1878 – The revolutionary Vera Zasulich shoots at Fyodor Trepov, the Governor of Saint Petersburg.
  • 1885 – Edge Hill College opens in Liverpool
  • 1916 – In Brushaber v. Union Pacific Railroad, the Supreme Court of the United States declares the federal income tax constitutional.
  • 1918 – The Gregorian calendar introduced in Russia by decree of the Council of People’s Commissars effective from February 14(NS)
  • 1924 – Petrograd, formerly Saint Petersburg, Russia, is renamed Leningrad.
  • 1942 – World War II: The Allies bombard Bangkok, leading Thailand to the decision of war declaration against the United States and United Kingdom .
  • 1943 – World War II: Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill conclude a conference in Casablanca.
  • 1952 – Vincent Massey is sworn in as the first Canadian-born Governor-General of Canada.
  • 1961 – 1961 Goldsboro B-52 crash: A bomber carrying two H-bombs breaks up in mid-air over North Carolina. The uranium core of one weapon remains lost.
  • 1966 – An Air India Boeing 707 jet crashes on Mont Blanc, on the border between France and Italy, killing 117.
  • 1972 – Japanese Sgt. Shoichi Yokoi is found hiding in a Guam jungle, where he had been since the end of World War II.
  • 1977 – Massacre of Atocha in Madrid, during the Spanish transition to democracy.
  • 1978 – Soviet satellite Cosmos 954, with a nuclear reactor onboard, burns up in Earth’s atmosphere, scattering radioactive debris over Canada’s Northwest Territories. Only 1% is recovered.
  • 1984 – The first Apple Macintosh goes on sale.
  • 1986 – Voyager 2 passes within 81,500 km (50,680 miles) of Uranus.
  • 1993 – Turkish journalist and writer Uğur Mumcu is assassinated by a car bomb in Ankara.
  • 1996 – Polish Premier Jozef Oleksy resigns amid charges that he spied for Moscow.
  • 2003 – The United States Department of Homeland Security officially begins operation.

Headlines 17.01.2011 – 23.01.2011

17.01.2011 Juba, Sudan – Referendum and election

The Sudanese people have lived with war, survived intense violence and lived in small refugee camps with lack of basic needs. With the ongoing elections, many Sudanese people have hopes for their country and situation. Officials in Southern Sudan said that according to the 60% of registered voters nationwide was enough for the needed referendum to be valid but it could reach 91%. The 3.1 million of Southern Sudan’s 3.7 million registered voters had been weighed at Friday evening. According to some voters, they have been waiting for a long time to separate as the government has been dominated by Arab Muslims in the north fighting the Christians in the South in a civil war that killed 2 million and left many in hunger and unbelievable poverty. Thousands moved to Southern Sudan hoping for a better life and better future.

Islamabad, Pakistan – Blasphemy law will not be amended says PM

The PM announced on Monday that the government has no intend of changing the country’s controversial blasphemy law. PM Yousaf Raza Gilani announced this news as the pressure is increasing from the various religious groups almost 2 weeks after the assassination of the liberal governor who was campaigning to change the law. There have been several demonstrations in the streets protesting against tampering and changing the law as well as not to release the Christian woman Asia Bibi.

Jerusalem, Israel – Ehud Barak leaving the Labour faction

Barak made the announcement on Monday that he and 4 other members, Matan Vilnai, Einat Wilf, Orit Noked and Shalom Simchon are leaving their party to form a new faction called Atzmaut (Independence), describing it as an “centrist, Zionistic and democratic party.” Barak has been criticised for staying too much in the right-wing coalition government of PM Netanyahu and that the dispute inside the party was drifting left.

“The government became a lot stronger today. It became stronger in governance and its stability and this is very important for the state of Israel. The whole world knows that this government will be here for the next coming years, including the Palestinians,” the PM said to reporters on Monday. “And this government is the one they need to negotiate a peace deal with on the basis of security and peace. We will operate as a responsible government that takes care of the state of Israel.” The Labour party, headed by Barak, held a total of 13 Knesset seats. With the announcement of a new faction, Barak and his colleagues are expected to stay in Netanyahu’s governing coalition. Netanyahu will be left with a coalition of 66 members, down from the current 74. One of the major criticisms against Barak was his refusal to quit the coalition after peace-making efforts with the Palestinian’s broke down in September but even though he decided to leave, the Labour Party accused its members of disloyalty. Tzipi Livni, head of the opposition and Kadima Party, said in a conference on Monday, “I believe this is a day of hope for Israel because the breakup of the Labour party will be followed by the breakup of the government and we will have elections.” Eitan Cabel, a Labour Knesset member, spoke about Barak’s decision to leave in an Israeli radio interview Monday.”Those leaving have decided to destroy the Labour party,” he said. “They need to come and ask our forgiveness for everything they have done and said against the party. The Labour party has finished the way as an alternative. The curtain has come down on the glorious Labour movement.”

18.01.2011 New Delhi, India – Concerns about corruption

India, having the world’s second-fastest growing major economy has concerned many of the top business leaders in the country, as they are urging the Nations political establishment to tackle the ongoing corruption as well as other scandals. “We are alarmed at the widespread governance deficit almost in every sphere of national activity covering government, business and institutions,” the 14-member group wrote in what it called an “open letter” to national leaders on Monday.

The members included executives from companies like Godrej Group, Wipro, the Housing Development Finance Corporation and Mahindra and Mahindra. In its second term, PM Manmohan Singh’s coalition government is facing massive criticism for their handling of the country’s endemic corruption. According to the government audit, the treasury lost up to $31 billion from under-valuation of airwaves and the scam, seen as the biggest to hit India in these times, has forced the country’s telecom minister A. Raja to resign. Raja, member of a key regional ally of Singh’s Congress party, denies the charges.

Baghdad, Iraq – Suicide bomber strikes again

A suicide bomber wearing a vest with explosives attacked a police recruitment centre in Northern Iraq on Tuesday killing 65 and wounding 160. The attacker was standing at a checkpoint where people wait for their turn to enter in and the explosion was so heavy that it caused a fire at a gas station nearby. Most of the killed and wounded were young men who had come to join the police force.  The government issued a three-day mourning period in Salaheddin province. Iraqi recruitment centres have been targeted frequently over the past few years and 48 was killed on August 17, when a suicide bomber attacked a military recruitment centre in Central Baghdad. U.S. troops have ended their mission but stays to advice and train. On Saturday, 3 U.S. soldiers were killed in the Northern Iraq and another one in the central Iraq. There are fewer than 50,000 American service members and they are expected to leave the country by the end of this year.

West Bank, Palestine – Russian President visits the Palestinian territories

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited the Palestinian territories on his “historic trip” on his Middle East tour. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed him on Tuesday in Jericho, West Bank, where the two are expected to hold a press conference. Both Presidents will sign three agreements in agriculture, sports and communications and Medvedev will later inaugurate a new Russian art museum in Jericho. Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erakat sees this trip as a “historic state visit” that gives a message to the world that Palestinians are ready for statehood and independence as Russia was one of the first countries to recognise the Palestinian state and the Palestinians have full diplomatic representation in Moscow. Medvedev cancelled an official visit to Israel this same month because of the strike by the Foreign Ministry employees who refused to organize the visit as they demand higher wages. Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor said that the strike is harming Israeli interests as he blamed the finance ministry for ignoring the workers demands. President Shimon Peres phoned the Russian President apologizing for the cancellation visit, but thanked him for his involvement in the Middle East peace process. They agreed to meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Nigeria – Iran accused of providing Nigeria with weapons

UN weapons experts have arrived in Nigeria to investigate an Iranian arms shipment that was seized in the port of Lagos last October. The container was labelled as building materials but instead consisted of various weapons, rocket launchers and grenades destined for the capital Abuja after its arrival in Lagos. Nigerian officials charged an alleged member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and three Nigerian citizens over the illegally imported weapons since Iran is under UN sanctions because of its nuclear programme and is banned from supplying, selling or transferring arms. The shipment was intercepted when an attempt was made to re-export to Gambia, as Gambia’s neighbour Senegal contacted its ambassador to Teheran over the incident fearing that the weapons was destined to separatist rebels. Teheran on their side said that the cargo was shipped by a private company to a “West African country” and this was an incident of a misunderstanding that now was cleared up.

Johannesburg – 40 people killed in South African floods

At least 40 people have been killed and 6,000 displaced by the flooding since December. Officials estimated that the damages to infrastructure and agriculture will cost the country millions of dollars and the forecasts have predicted more rain to come. Many of the country’s poorest residents are the worst affected by the floods and on Monday, authorities had to evacuate more than 30 people, and the government declared 28 municipalities in 7 provinces as disaster areas.

Islamabad, Pakistan – 7.2 magnitude earthquake hits southwest Pakistan

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.2 struck on Wednesday morning in Southwest Pakistan, but reports have reported that there was no major damage. Director of the Pakistan Meteorological Department, Arif Mahmood, said that the earthquake had been felt in Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan provinces in Pakistan as well as in Iran, India and moderate shaking for 30 seconds in Dubai. As for the area, it is not uncommon for the region to have earthquakes since it is the place where two tectonic plates come together.

Cairo, Egypt – Self- immolations across the Arab world

One man, Ahmad Hashem Sayed died and another one was injured after setting themselves on fire in Egypt on Tuesday. Sayed was unemployed and the other person burned himself in front of the parliament building because his ex-wife refused to allow him from seeing his daughters. Self-immolations were sparked by Mohammad Bouazizi, a 26 year old unemployed college graduate who set himself on fire after the police had confiscated his only income, a fruit chart. He died on January 4. Now there has been reported of self-immolations in Mauritania and Algeria as riots and demonstrations have erupted.

19.01.2011 Hillary Clinton says Iran may face further US sanctions

Hillary Clinton made this comment after admitting that some Chinese “entities” were failing to comply fully with sanctions and that US is now pushing China as the Chinese President is on a diplomatic trip to the US. Six world powers; US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany are to hold discussions and negotiations with Iran in the Turkish city Istanbul.

Afghanistan – WFP’s new Afghan Strategy

United Nations World Food Programme and the Afghan government are working on a common strategy to provide food aid to millions of Afghans over the next three years, mainly in the rural areas.

Kabul, Afghanistan – President Hamid Karzai postponed the opening of the parliament
Karzai postponed the opening of the country’s parliament by a month after allegations to probe of fraud in September’s parliamentary elections requested a postponement. The 5 judge tribunal established in December had to review complaints from hundreds of losing candidates announced that they needed more time to investigate and it will be opened on 22 February. Last September’s parliamentary poll and the Presidential election of 2009 were overshadowed by fraud allegations that damaged the credibility of President Karzai and his government.

Beirut, Lebanon – Saudi Arabia abandons mediation talks with Lebanon

Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s minister of foreign affairs, said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia has abandoned mediation talks to resolve Lebanon’s political crisis that caused the government’s collapse last week describing the political situation in Lebanon as “dangerous”. Turkish and Qatari foreign ministers arrived in Lebanon on Tuesday to pick up where the Syrian and Saudis left off and met President Michel Suleiman and caretaker PM Saad Hariri.

Kabul, Afghanistan – Journalist victim of acid attack

Police in Afghanistan has started an investigation in search for a man who attacked Afghan journalist Razaq Mamoon by spraying acid on his face as Mamoon was on his way home on Tuesday. His eyes were saved from major injuries by the glasses he was wearing at the time. Speaking from his hospital bed, Mamoon said that Iran is behind the attack because of his latest book; “The Footprint of Pharaoh”, where he documents Iranian sabotage and intelligence activities trying to divide Afghanistan. The publishers were also threatened by the officials of the Iranian embassy in Kabul, he told. “They tried to ban the book but when they couldn’t I had a feeling they would do something. I don’t think this will be the first and last”, he said. The Iranian embassy in Kabul has not commented on Mamoon’s allegations.



Paktika, Afghanistan – Roadside bomb in Paktika kills 13 civilians

The interior minister stated that 13 people, mostly women and children were killed when a motorised rickshaw was hit in the morning. It is not known who carried out the attack but the area on the Pakistan’s border is known for its stronghold of Taliban. Paktika governor Mohibullah Samim said that families were taking their children to the local health clinic. The clinic has been targeted because the nearby road is close to the governor’s office is used by Afghan and international troops. On Saturday, 6 people were killed in a roadside bomb in Helmand and 9 people attending a wedding were killed by a roadside bomb in Baghlan on Sunday.

20.01.2011 – Suicide bomber kills 32 Shiite pilgrims in Karbala

Around 50 people were killed and 150 others injured in two heavy explosions that was targeting the Shiite pilgrims on Thursday in Karbala, 60 miles (100km) south of Baghdad. It was the latest attack across Iraq this week that have totally killed 118 people and wounded 450. Tens and thousands of Shiite pilgrims were on their way to the city Arbaeen, a religious observation that follows for 40 days of mourning of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, felled in a 7th century battle.

Tunisia – Members of Ben Ali family arrested

33 members of the Ben Ali family have been arrested over the past few days as they tried to leave the country. Interim leader Fouad Mebazaa wowed to a “total break” with the past. The State television showed the gold and jewellery that was found during raids on the family member’s properties and Tunisian government estimates that $620 million have been put into Swiss banks. In Paris, the anti-government group Transparency International France and two other associates had filed a legal case against Ben Ali and his wife. In Geneva, Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey announced to freeze funds of Ben Ali. Calmy-Rey also said Bern acted to prevent assets being withdrawn and to ensure that a new Tunisian administration would be able to retrieve assets taken illicitly. Even though the situation still is tense, curfew hours are reduced, traffic increasing and shops are open.

Bristol, UK – Man faces extradition hearing accused for hiring hit man

Shrien Dewani from Bristol is facing extradition hearing as his wife was murdered on their honeymoon in South Africa. Dewani is accused for hiring a hit man to kill his wife Anni in Cape Town. Mrs. Dewani, 28 was shot when the taxi she and her husband were travelling in was hijacked on November 13. Mr. Dewani, 31, denies any involvement in the killing of his wife.


21.01.2011 – Bin Laden threatens France

The person speaking on the audiotape, claiming to be Osama Bin Laden, warned that the release of the two French journalists that was abducted hinges on Frances’s military role in Afghanistan. “The release of your prisoners from the hands of our brethren depends on the withdrawal of your soldiers from our countries,” he said. Then he warned the French government that its alliance with USA will cost them. “The dismissal of your President Sarkozy to get out of Afghanistan is the result of his subservience to the United States and this (dismissal) is considered to be the green signal to kill your prisoners without delay,” the speaker said. France on their side said that the message would not make them deter from their Afghan strategy. “We are determined to stay in Afghanistan with our allies for the Afghan people,” said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero. Taliban militants captured the journalists Herve Ghesquiere and Stephane Taponier were captured on December 20009 and threatened to kill if their demands were not met. France has 3,750 troops in Afghanistan, according to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

Gaza, Palestinian territory – Mob attacked FM car

The car of French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie was attacked Friday in Gaza by a mob of around 20 people consisting of the family members of Palestinians in Israeli jails as the foreign minister was visiting and was leaving to visit the French Cultural Center. They also threw eggs and shoes at the vehicle. The foreign minister was being protected by her own security as Hamas was not present. The families were frustrated and angered by a demand made by the foreign minister that Hamas leadership led Red Cross representatives visit kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who holds Israeli and French citizenship. Palestinian militants crossed into Israel from Gaza on June 25, 2006, and kidnapped Shalit, who was 19 at the time. Israel and Hamas have been negotiating his release through third-party mediators from Egypt and Germany, but talks have started and stalled numerous times.

22.01.2011 Iran – Women band from watching live soccer

Iranian authorities have ordered a ban on women from watching live broadcasts of football matches at public movie theatres claiming that “the presence of women and families at movie theatres increases security risks and inappropriate behaviour.” Movie theatres in Iran’s major cities have broadcast matches from this year’s Asian Cup, where Iran’s national football team has advanced to the quarterfinals after winning its first three matches. Women are already banned from attending men’s football matches at stadiums. Hard-line government officials and clerics say the presence of women at men’s sporting events is not compatible with Islam.

Algiers, Algeria – Protesters defied ban

Algerian security forces clashed with protesters on Saturday who defied a ban and protested on the streets demanding a political reform. 11 protesters and 8 policemen were injured and 9 protesters were arrested. The government called the demonstration for small and unauthorized as it was consisting of 250 people. A law adopted in 2001 indefinitely bans all demonstrations in Algiers, according to the monitoring group Human Rights Watch. A nationwide state of emergency in effect for nearly two decades allows the government to ban any event that is “likely to disturb public order and tranquillity.” The protests broke out because of the food costs and were sparked by the demonstrations in Tunisia where the government collapsed.

Pakistan – 3 killed in roadside bomb

2 police officers and a pedestrian were killed and 7 others injured in northwest Pakistan on Saturday. The bomb was along a road in a village in Orokzai, one of the seven districts in Pakistan’s tribal region along the Afghan border. Orokzai became a battleground as the fight continues against Taliban when Pakistan launched an offensive there targeting militants.

23.01.2011 – 32 people killed in bus crash in Sindh province in Pakistan

32 people lost their lives as a bus lost control after speeding and drove into an oil tanker bursting into flames. Most of the victims were passengers trapped inside the bus.

Islamabad, Pakistan – 6 people die in protests against missiles

Pakistani villagers were protesting on Sunday against missile strikes from US drones when 6 suspected militants were killed in two separate attacks. Around 900 people had met up at the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan organized by a group of local villagers chanting “Anyone who is a friend of the U.S. is a traitor,” among other slogans against Washington and the Central Intelligence Agency. Most of the local businesses were shut down due to the protest, which had support from students, businessmen and shopkeepers.

“If drone strikes are not stopped, we will take gun instead of pen against the US,” one student protester said. In the first strike, suspected drones fired two missiles on the militants’ vehicle in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan, one of the seven districts in Pakistan’s volatile tribal region bordering Afghanistan. The militants in the second attack were riding on a motorcycle near Datta Khel when they were hit by a missile from the unmanned drone, officials said. The Obama administration has stepped up drone strikes targeting Pakistan’s tribal region with more than 100 attacks last year, mostly targeting North Waziristan.

The United States is the only country in the region known to have the ability to launch missiles from drones, which are controlled remotely.

Baghdad, Iraq – 6 people die in car explosion

6 people were killed and 30 injured when car bombs exploded in different neighbourhoods. The bombs occurred over a three-hour period Sunday morning, and appeared to be part of a coordinated attack that showed the hallmarks of al Qaeda in Iraq. One police officer was among the dead and four police officers were among the wounded, police officials said. The attacks come as key security ministry positions remain vacant in Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s government amid political wrangling. Al-Maliki serves as acting defence, interior and national security minister.

Important events on January 23

  • 393 – Roman Emperor Theodosius I proclaims his nine year old son Honorius co-emperor.
  • 971 – In China, the war elephant corps of the Southern Han are soundly defeated at Shao by crossbow fire from Song Dynasty troops.
  • 1368 – In a coronation ceremony, Zhu Yuanzhang ascends to the throne of China as the Hongwu Emperor, initiating Ming Dynasty rule over China that would last for three centuries.
  • 1510 – Henry VIII of England, then 18 years old, appears incognito in the lists at Richmond, and is applauded for his jousting before he reveals his identity.
  • 1533 – Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII of England, discovers herself pregnant.
  • 1546 – Having published nothing for eleven years, François Rabelais publishes the Tiers Livre, his sequel to Gargantua and Pantagruel.
  • 1556 – The deadliest earthquake in history, the Shaanxi earthquake, hits Shaanxi province, China. The death toll may have been as high as 830,000.
  • 1570 – The assassination of regent James Stewart, 1st Earl of Moray throws Scotland into civil war.
  • 1571 – The Royal Exchange opens in London.
  • 1579 – The Union of Utrecht forms a Protestant republic in the Netherlands.
  • 1656 – Blaise Pascal publishes the first of his Lettres provinciales.
  • 1719 – The Principality of Liechtenstein is created within the Holy Roman Empire.
  • 1789 – Georgetown College, the first Roman Catholic college in the United States, is founded in Georgetown, Maryland (now a part of Washington, D.C.)
  • 1793 – Second Partition of Poland: Russia and Prussia partition Poland for the second time.
  • 1849 – Elizabeth Blackwell is awarded her M.D. by the Medical Institute of Geneva, New York, becoming the United States’ first female doctor.
  • 1855 – The first bridge over the Mississippi River opens in what is now Minneapolis, Minnesota, a crossing made today by the Father Louis Hennepin Bridge.
  • 1870 – In Montana, U.S. cavalrymen kill 173 Native Americans, mostly women and children, in the Marias Massacre.
  • 1879 – Anglo-Zulu War: the Battle of Rorke’s Drift ends.
  • 1897 – Elva Zona Heaster is found dead in Greenbrier County, West Virginia. The resulting murder trial of her husband is perhaps the only case in United States history where the alleged testimony of a ghost helped secure a conviction.
  • 1899 – Emilio Aguinaldo is sworn in as President of the First Philippine Republic.
  • 1900 – The Battle of Spion Kop between the forces of the South African Republic and the Orange Free State and British forces during the Second Boer War resulted in a British defeat.
  • 1904 – Ålesund Fire: the Norwegian coastal town Ålesund is devastated by fire, leaving 10,000 people homeless and one person dead. Kaiser Wilhelm II funds the rebuilding of the town in Jugendstil style.
  • 1907 – Charles Curtis of Kansas becomes the first Native American U.S. Senator.
  • 1912 – The International Opium Convention is signed at The Hague.
  • 1920 – The Netherlands refuses to surrender ex-Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany to the Allies.
  • 1937 – In Moscow, 17 leading Communists go on trial accused of participating in a plot led by Leon Trotsky to overthrow Joseph Stalin’s regime and assassinate its leaders.
  • 1941 – Charles Lindbergh testifies before the U.S. Congress and recommends that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Adolf Hitler.
  • 1943 – World War II: Troops of Montgomery’s 8th Army capture Tripoli in Libya from the German-Italian Panzer Army.
  • 1943 – World War II: Australian and American forces finally defeat the Japanese army in Papua. This turning point in the Pacific War marks the beginning of the end of Japanese aggression.
  • 1943 – Duke Ellington plays at Carnegie Hall in New York City for the first time.
  • 1943 – World War II: The Battle of Mount Austen, the Galloping Horse, and the Sea Horse on Guadalcanal during the Guadalcanal campaign ends.
  • 1945 – World War II: Karl Dönitz launches Operation Hannibal.
  • 1950 – The Knesset passes a resolution that states Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
  • 1958 – Overthrow in Venezuela of Marcos Pérez Jiménez
  • 1960 – The bathyscaphe USS Trieste breaks a depth record by descending to 10,911 m (35,798 feet) in the Pacific Ocean.
  • 1963 – Guinea-Bissau War of Independence offially begins when PAIGC guerrilla fighters attacked the Portuguese army stationed in Tite.
  • 1964 – The 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution, prohibiting the use of poll taxes in national elections, is ratified.
  • 1967 – Diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Ivory Coast are established.
  • 1968 – North Korea seizes the USS Pueblo (AGER-2), claiming the ship had violated their territorial waters while spying.
  • 1973 – President Richard Nixon announces that a peace accord has been reached in Vietnam.
  • 1973 – A volcanic eruption devastates Heimaey in the Vestmannaeyjar chain of islands off the south coast of Iceland.
  • 1986 – The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts its first members: Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.
  • 1997 – Madeleine Albright becomes the first woman to serve as United States Secretary of State.
  • 1997 – Antonis Daglis, a 23-year-old Greek truck driver is sentenced to thirteen consecutive life sentences, plus 25 years for the serial slayings of three women and the attempted murder of six others.
  • 2002 – “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh returns to the United States in FBI custody.
  • 2002 – Reporter Daniel Pearl is kidnapped in Karachi, Pakistan and is subsequently murdered .
  • 2003 – Final communication between Earth and Pioneer 10
  • 2009 – Dendermonde nursery attack occurred in Dendermonde, Belgium.

Important events on January 22nd

  • 565 – Eutychius is deposed as Patriarch of Constantinople by John Scholasticus.
  • 1506 – The first contingent of 150 Swiss Guards arrives at the Vatican.
  • 1521 – Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, opens the Diet of Worms.
  • 1771 – Spain cedes Port Egmont in the Falkland Islands to the United Kingdom.
  • 1824 – Ashantis defeat British forces in the Gold Coast.
  • 1849 – Second Anglo-Sikh War: The Siege of Multan ends after nine months when the last Sikh defenders of Multan, Punjab, surrender.
  • 1863 – The January Uprising breaks out in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. The aim of the national movement is to regain Polish-Lithuanian-Ruthenian Commonwealth from occupation by Russia.
  • 1877 – Arthur Tooth, an Anglican clergyman is taken into custody after being prosecuted for using ritualist practices.
  • 1879 – Anglo-Zulu War: Battle of Isandlwana – Zulu troops defeat British troops.
  • 1879 – Anglo-Zulu War: Battle of Rorke’s Drift – 139 British soldiers successfully defend their garrison against an intense assault by four to five thousand Zulu warriors.
  • 1889 – Columbia Phonograph is formed in Washington, D.C.
  • 1890 – The United Mine Workers of America is founded in Columbus, Ohio.
  • 1899 – Leaders of six Australian colonies meet in Melbourne to discuss confederation.
  • 1901 – Edward VII is proclaimed King after the death of his mother, Queen Victoria.
  • 1905 – Bloody Sunday in St. Petersburg, beginning of the 1905 revolution.
  • 1906 – SS Valencia runs aground on rocks on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, killing more than 130.
  • 1915 – Over 600 people are killed in Guadalajara, Mexico, when a train plunges off the tracks into a deep canyon.
  • 1917 – World War I: President Woodrow Wilson of the still-neutral United States calls for “peace without victory” in Europe.
  • 1919 – Act Zluky is signed, unifying the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the West Ukrainian National Republic.
  • 1924 – Ramsay MacDonald becomes the first Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
  • 1927 – First live radio commentary of a football match anywhere in the world, between Arsenal F.C. and Sheffield United at Highbury.
  • 1941 – World War II: British and Commonwealth troops capture Tobruk from Italian forces during Operation Compass.
  • 1944 – World War II: The Allies commence Operation Shingle, an assault on Anzio, Italy.
  • 1946 – Iran: Qazi Muhammad declares the independent people’s Republic of Mahabad at Chuwarchira Square in the Kurdish city of Mahabad. He is the new president; Hadschi Baba Scheich is the prime minister.
  • 1946 – Creation of the Central Intelligence Group, forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.
  • 1947 – KTLA, the first commercial television station west of the Mississippi River, begins operation in Hollywood, California.
  • 1957 – Israel withdraws from the Sinai Peninsula.
  • 1957 – The New York City “Mad Bomber”, George P. Metesky, is arrested in Waterbury, Connecticut and is charged with planting more than 30 bombs.
  • 1959 – Knox Mine Disaster: Water breaches the River Slope Mine near Pittston City, Pennsylvania in Port Griffith; 12 miners are killed.
  • 1962 – The Organization of American States suspends Cuba’s membership.
  • 1963 – The Elysée treaty of cooperation between France and Germany is signed by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer.
  • 1968 – Apollo 5 lifts off carrying the first Lunar module into space.
  • 1968 – Operation Igloo White, a US electronic surveillance system to stop communist infiltration into South Vietnam begins installation.
  • 1969 – A gunman attempts to assassinate Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.
  • 1970 – The Boeing 747, the world’s first “jumbo jet”, enters commercial service for launch customer Pan American Airways with its maiden voyage from John F Kennedy International Airport to London Heathrow Airport.
  • 1971 – The Singapore Declaration, one of the two most important documents to the uncodified constitution of the Commonwealth of Nations, is issued.
  • 1973 – The Supreme Court of the United States delivers its decision in Roe v. Wade, legalizing elective abortion in all fifty states.
  • 1973 – A chartered Boeing 707 explodes in flames upon landing at Kano Airport, Nigeria, killing 176.
  • 1984 – The Apple Macintosh, the first consumer computer to popularize the computer mouse and the graphical user interface, is introduced during Super Bowl XVIII with its famous “1984” television commercial.
  • 1987 – Pennsylvania politician R. Budd Dwyer shoots and kills himself during a televised press conference, leading to debates on boundaries in journalism.
  • 1987 – Philippine security forces open fire on a crowd of 10,000–15,000 demonstrators at Malacañang Palace, Manila, killing 13.
  • 1990 – Robert Tappan Morris, Jr. is convicted of releasing the 1988 Internet Computer worm.
  • 1991 – Gulf War: Three SCUDs and one Patriot missile hit Ramat Gan in Israel, injuring 96 people. Three elderly people die of heart attacks.
  • 1992 – Rebel forces occupy Zaire’s national radio station in Kinshasa and broadcast a demand for the government’s resignation.
  • 1995 – Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Beit Lid massacre – In central Israel, near Netanya, two suicide bombers from the Gaza Strip blow themselves up at a military transit point killing 19 Israelis.
  • 1999 – Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons are burned alive by radical Hindus while sleeping in their car in Eastern India.
  • 2002 – Kmart becomes the largest retailer in United States history to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
  • 2006 – Evo Morales is inaugurated as President of Bolivia, becoming the country’s first indigenous president.
  • 2007 – At least 88 people are killed when two car bombs explode in the Bab Al-Sharqi market in central Baghdad, Iraq.
  • 2011 – Kieren Mihaly & Samantha Cuffe married & engage in coitus. Melbourne, Australia.

Important events on January 21st

  • 1525 – The Swiss Anabaptist Movement is founded when Conrad Grebel, Felix Manz, George Blaurock, and about a dozen others baptize each other in the home of Manz’s mother in Zürich, breaking a thousand-year tradition of church-state union.
  • 1643 – Abel Tasman becomes the first European to reach Tonga.
  • 1720 – Sweden and Prussia sign the Treaty of Stockholm.
  • 1749 – The Verona Philharmonic Theatre is destroyed by fire. It is rebuilt in 1754.
  • 1789 – The first American novel, The Power of Sympathy or the Triumph of Nature Founded in Truth, is printed in Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 1793 – After being found guilty of treason by the French Convention, Louis XVI of France is executed by guillotine.
  • 1840 – Jules Dumont d’Urville discovers Adélie Land, Antarctica.
  • 1861 – American Civil War: Jefferson Davis resigns from the United States Senate.
  • 1864 – The Tauranga Campaign begins during the Maori Wars.
  • 1887 – 465 millimetres (18.3 in) of rain falls in Brisbane, a record for any Australian capital city.
  • 1893 – The Tati Concessions Land, formerly part of Matabeleland, is formally annexed to the Bechuanaland Protectorate, now Botswana.
  • 1899 – Opel manufactures its first automobile.
  • 1908 – New York City passes the Sullivan Ordinance, making it illegal for women to smoke in public, only to have the measure vetoed by the mayor.
  • 1911 – The first Monte Carlo Rally takes place.
  • 1915 – Kiwanis International is founded in Detroit, Michigan.
  • 1919 – Meeting of the First Dáil Éireann in the Mansion House Dublin. Sinn Féin adopts Ireland’s first constitution. The first engagement of Irish War of Independence, Sologhead Beg, County Tipperary.
  • 1921 – The Italian Communist Party is founded at Livorno.
  • 1925 – Albania declares itself a republic.
  • 1931 – Sir Isaac Isaacs is sworn in as the first Australian-born Governor-General of Australia.
  • 1948 – The Flag of Quebec is adopted and flown for the first time over the National Assembly of Quebec. The day is marked annually as Quebec Flag Day.
  • 1950 – Alger Hiss is convicted of perjury.
  • 1954 – The first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, is launched in Groton, Connecticut by Mamie Eisenhower, the First Lady of the United States.
  • 1958 – The last Fokker C.X in military service, the Finnish Air Force FK-111 target tower, crashes, killing the pilot and winch-operator.
  • 1960 – Little Joe 1B, a Mercury spacecraft, lifts off from Wallops Island, Virginia with Miss Sam, a female rhesus monkey on board.
  • 1960 – Avianca Flight 671 crashes and burns upon landing at Montego Bay, Jamaica, killing 37. It is the worst air disaster in Jamaica’s history and the first for Avianca.
  • 1968 – Vietnam War: Battle of Khe Sanh – One of the most publicized and controversial battles of the war begins.
  • 1968 – A B-52 bomber crashes near Thule Air Base, contaminating the area after its nuclear payload ruptures. One of the four bombs remains unaccounted for after the cleanup operation is complete.
  • 1971 – The current Emley Moor transmitting station, the tallest free-standing structure in the United Kingdom, begins transmitting UHF broadcasts.
  • 1976 – Commercial service of Concorde begins with the London-Bahrain and Paris-Rio routes.
  • 1977 – President Jimmy Carter pardons nearly all American Vietnam War draft evaders, some of whom had emigrated to Canada.
  • 1981 – Production of the iconic DeLorean DMC-12 sports car begins in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland.
  • 1985 – The inauguration of President Ronald Reagan to a second term, already postponed a day because January 20 fell on a Sunday, becomes the second inauguration in history moved indoors because of freezing temperatures and high winds. The parade is cancelled altogether.
  • 1997 – Newt Gingrich becomes the first leader of the United States House of Representatives to be internally disciplined for ethical misconduct.
  • 1999 – War on Drugs: In one of the largest drug busts in American history, the United States Coast Guard intercepts a ship with over 4,300 kilograms (9,500 lb) of cocaine on board.
  • 2000 – Ecuador: After the Ecuadorian Congress is seized by indigenous organizations, Col. Lucio Gutierrez, Carlos Solorzano and Antonio Vargas depose President Jamil Mahuad. Gutierrez is later replaced by Gen. Carlos Mendoza, who resigns and allows Vice-President Gustavo Noboa to succeed Mahuad.
  • 2002 – The Canadian Dollar sets all-time low against the US Dollar (US$0.6179).
  • 2003 – A 7.6 magnitude earthquake strikes the Mexican state of Colima, killing 29 and leaving approximately 10,000 people homeless.
  • 2004 – NASA’s MER-A (the Mars Rover Spirit) ceases communication with mission control. The problem lies in the management of its flash memory and is fixed remotely from Earth on February 6.
  • 2005 – In Belmopan, Belize, the unrest over the government’s new taxes erupts into riots.
  • 2008 – Black Monday in worldwide stock markets. FTSE 100 had its biggest ever one-day points fall, European stocks closed with their worst result since 11 September 2001, and Asian stocks drop as much as 14%.


Journalism, act of risk

In 2009;

  • 76 journalists killed (60 in 2008)
  • 33 journalists kidnapped
  • 573 journalists arrested
  • 1456 physically assaulted
  • 570 media censored
  • 157 journalists fled their countries
  • 1 blogger died in prison
  • 151 bloggers and cyber-dissidents arrested
  • 61 physically assaulted
  • 60 countries affected by online censorship

These are the numbers that proves how dangerous and risky one of the world’s most important job is. I’m referring to the attack on Afghan journalist and author, Abdul Razzaq Mamoon who was returning home on January 18 when a masked man attacked him with a knife and sprayed Mamoon with acid on his face and hands. Mamoon, a former Radio Free Afghanistan and now Editor in Chief of Bost Bastaan News Agency, was saved his eyes from serious injuries by wearing his glasses at the time of the attack.

Mamoon, a native from Northern Panj Shir, is known for his controversial political views, says he is sure that the attack was in relation to his latest book; “In footprint of Pharaoh”, which is critical of Teheran’s policies towards Afghanistan and that they are seeking the disintegration of the Afghan Nation. Iran showed their dissatisfaction as the Iranian embassy invited the publisher of the book to the embassy “to answer some questions”. Hamid Karzai has condemned the attack and offered to send Mamoon abroad for medical treatment at the same time as he has urged law-enforcement agencies to investigate the attack and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Besides the threat the journalist’s experience, the risk to local journalists and especially to those journalists who work within the borders of their country has risen but we notice more of the crime against them because of Western-based international observer groups that updates. From 1992, 72% of 831 journalists was killed while they were on duty according to data from New York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), such as killed by a gunman escaping on the back of a motorcycle, shot or stabbed to death near their home or office, or found dead after having been abducted and tortured.

Unsolved crimes and cold cases

In most of the attacks, the killer gets away with the murder in 9 out of 10 cases and in 89% of journalist murders worldwide, there has been little or no prosecution but only in 4% of the murder cases, the assassin and those who ordered the hit has been brought to justice. To give us an estimate of this global problem, CPJ has developed an Impunity Index where the index calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of the specific nation’s population. The latest Impunity Index covers the years 2000 through 2009. (CPJ figures are also provided by Reporters without borders and Brussel based Federation of journalists. When it comes to journalist murders, CPJ includes only those cases where researchers have investigated the murder of a journalist murdered in relation to his/her work. http://www.cpj.org/reports/2010/04/cpj-2010-impunity-index-getting-away-with-murder.php

Afghan scholars and journalists

Since 2002, 20 Afghan journalists have been murdered and more than 200 violent physical attacks against journalists have been reported. Some have fled the country with their families, others arrested, sentenced to death and several more still remains in jail today. Radio and television stations have rapidly been attacked, blocked, damaged and burned to the ground by the government and other agents or groups.

Kamran Mir Hazar, founder of Kabulpress.org, was granted political refugee status by the UN and he settled in Norway, where he also wrote the book, “Censorship in Afghanistan”, published in Norway as e-Book. Book was written in Dari and explores the systematic suppression of free speech. Kamran experienced when he founded Kabulpress.org aimed to reveal corruption in the Afghan government and the NGO’s that miss-handled millions of development dollars. Because of him being outspoken, Kamran was detained several times by government agents as well as receiving numerous times of warnings.

A Radio Free Europe (RFE/RL) report states that Afghanistan’s independent media sector has grown hugely since the fall of Taliban in late 2001 but the intolerance still remains as the journalists and media workers, especially women are regularly target of threats and harassment from former warlords and conservative people. It’s concerning numbers on such intellectual people that worries the global world. Here is a list over the 8 most prominent journalists that have been receiving death threats.

Razaq Mamoon

Razaq Mamoon is one of Afghanistan’s best known writers and journalists. He worked for BBC as a journalist, was editor of Radio Azadi and hosted a program called “discussion” for Tolo TV. Here he challenged high ranking officials like finance minister Anwarhulhaq Ahadi which led to pressure from Karzai’s team and the president of the lower house of parliament. Tolo TV and its managers discharged Mamoon after this. He has authored 3 books, “Raz-e-Khabida”, a documented story about Dr. Najibullah, the late communist president, who was under U.N. protection at the time of his abduction and murder by a member of the Taliban.“Zelzela”, meaning earthquake, and last “In the footprints of Pharaoh”. In his last book Mamoon criticizes Iran’s policies towards Afghanistan, and also the book that led to the recent attack with acid sprayed in his face. Razaq Mamoon receives death threats on a regular basis from different sources. One episode is where the alleged murderer of Dr. Najibullah, Gharzai Khakhogi, was incriminated by documents in Mamoon’s book and planned to murder him. Khakhogi was working as the vice-mayor in Kabul and allegedly paid two terrorists to kill Mamoon but security organizations discovered the plot before it could be done.

Mir Ali Asghar Akbarzada

Akbarzada had a well-known program called “Mirror of the city” on Afghan national TV, but was fired from the network in August 2008 by cultural minister Karim Khoram. The reason behind this was that Akbarzada had exposed corruption regarding the Intercontinental Hotel involving high ranking officials such as national security advisor to the president, Zalmay Rasool, and commerce minister Mohammad Amin Farhang. President Karzai had granted a no-bid contract to operate the hotel to a company called Freecom for 30 years at $100,000.00 each year and for 4 years, The Intercontinental Hotel was contracted by Freecom costing millions of dollars in lost government revenue. He is unemployed now and was threatened by gunmen several times being targeted near the office of chief police in Kabul, but the attack was unsuccessful.

Mohammad Amin Haqjoo

Mohammad Amin Haqjoo is the director of the program on Afghan National TV called “Seeking the truth” where they follow cases of murders and kidnapping. For this, Haqjoo has been threatened several times by armed groups.

Mohammad Hakim Nazari Paryani

Paryani worked as news editor for “Payman” newspaper. After publishing a document in “Payman”, writing that Mullah Omar had a hand in killing Mullah Dadullah, he was threatened so much that he had to live in his office and at a friend’s house for 15 days. Unknown people have visited his house, asking for him and he is worried about the safety of his family.

Mobarak Shah Shahram

Shahram has worked for Tolo TV on a political satire program named “Lahzaha” but works currently for “Payman” newspaper. Very recently, Shahram was tried kidnapped while returning home in a taxi.

Sayed Nasir Taghadosi

After publishing several critical articles about Karzai’s cabinet and the deteriorating political situation in the newspaper “Omid e Farda”, government attorneys opened a case against him that led to that he no longer can find job in the government or in NGO organizations as he faces financial difficulties.

Zahra Moosawi

Ms. Moosawi was a news announcer on Tolo TV, but after receiving various and continuing threats, she is now afraid to leave her home and had to quit Tolo TV.  Before working in Tolo TV, Ms. Azadi worked for Radio Azadi for 5 years and had a program called “Morabay e Morch”.

Soheila Weda Khamoosh

Ms. Khamoosh works for the newspaper “Cheragh” and some years ago, she wrote an article about how security services tortured children detained at a demonstration in Kabul against Americans. This article got her detained in the general’s office for 30 minutes where she was threatened with violence if the article got published. After publishing it, Ms. Khamoosh received threatening phone calls and followed by cars without licence plate following the car she was sitting in. as she was preparing a report on document forgery in the office of Official Reform, Jamila Aman, an advisor in the office attacked her. She continues receiving threats from unknown people and cars with blacked our windows regularly follow her on the street.

In June 2007, Zakia Zaki, the head of Peace Radio, who had been threatened by warlords for criticizing them and the Taliban, shot dead in front of her 2 year old son in the Northern Province of Parwan. Zaki had run the radio since it was founded in 2001 and worked as the head of a local school. Sada-e-Sulh (Peace Radio) was the only independent radio in Parwan province broadcasting on important issues such as human rights, education and women’s rights. In an interview in 2002 to Radio Free Europe, Zaki told that she had received death threats from several Mujahedin chiefs and local leaders of the Jamiat-e-Islami had banned her from interviewing women in the streets. This murder followed the murder of Shakiba Sanga Amaj, a reporter working for Pashtu channel Shamshad TV. Some suspects were arrested for the murder.

Who is behind all these murders and threats? The shocking truth is that government officials have killed almost as many as terrorist or political movements and groups, and if we add government supported paramilitary groups to the list of murders, then they have killed more journalists than any other terrorist or anti-government groups.

Parwiz Kambakhsh, 20 year old student and journalist was sentenced to death and then the death sentence was changed to 20 years in prison, but he has been freed and now left Afghanistan. It is unlikely that he will return because of the threats to him and his family for alleged “blasphemy”. His imprisonment sparked an international pressure from governments around the world as others wondered why they were supporting a country that violated international standards for freedom of speech and women’s rights. Karzai was caught in the middle as many fundamentalists wanted to keep the young journalist behind bars and others who question the president’s authority.

The most dangerous countries to work as a Journalist

CPJ has given result on numbers that anti-governmental political groups and movements, including terrorist organizations for 30% or 180 cases out of 599 murders since 1992. Civilian government official’s as perpetrators of 24% of journalist murders, military government officials responsible for 5% and pro-government paramilitary groups responsible for 7% or 41 murders over the same period. The murderers don’t only kill to silence the journalists, but they send out a message to others that they or their family members will be next. Even though many has been warned before killed, there is also those who has been murdered without a warning. Times and trends has also switched as in 1980’s, many journalists were murdered as they covered human right abuses but in the past two decades, more journalists have lost their lives while reporting on corruption like collusion between government actors and organized crime.

Another Impunity Index developed by CPJ in 2008 shows us the 12 countries where journalists are regularly murdered. As many of the cases are solvable, the perpetrators have been identified but authorities don’t have the political will to prosecute the case.


The deaths of the 88 journalists over the last 10 years stay unsolved making Iraq nr 1 for the 3rd year in a row.


Journalists are regularly threatened by Al-Shabaab insurgents and government troops. The weak federal government has failed in prosecuting the suspects in any of the murders listed. More than half of the journalist who died (53%) was not killed in fire fight or bombing attack but individually murdered.


In 2009, the massacre of 30 journalists and 2 media support workers in Maguindanao province doubled the country’s impunity rating from the previous years. In total 55 unsolved murders over the last decade has been reported and a Supreme Court spokesman recently dismissed death threats against reporters as “ridiculous”.

Sri Lanka

Ten journalists have been murdered over the last decade for covering the civil war, human rights, politics, military affairs and corruption. None of the cases has been solved or brought to justice. The newspaper editor Lasantha Wickramatunga, who predicted his own murder in a piece he wrote shortly before his death because of the huge amount of deadly violence. Many journalists have also moved to exile.


Colombia ranks as number 5 with 13 unsolved murders since 2000.


Between the violence and corruption, authorities have managed to do little for solving these cases. Although 90% of the journalists and media workers has been murdered or threatened, there are also many international reporters among the murdered.


Nepal’s historic political shift from monarchy to a coalition-ruled democratic republic brought no solution to the attacks against media workers. 6 journalist murders have taken place, all unsolved. In January, Uma Sing was attacked and murdered by 15 men armed with knives at his home. Colleagues said that police ignored Singh’s journalism as a motive for fear of political repercussions.


A total of 18 journalists have been murdered since 2000. One of the names is Natalya Estemirova who was abducted from her home and shot dead in North Caucasus region. The government has done little to solve these murders.


The numbers of violence against journalists covering crime, drug trafficking and government corruption is astonishing. One of the victims, Eliseo Barrón Hernàndez, who was beaten and abducted in front of his wife and children on May 2009. His body was later found tortured and shot 11 times in an irrigation ditch.


Authorities managed to win conviction in only one case in the past decade, the murder of U.S. reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. The rest of 12 other journalists have gone unsolved. In 2009, television correspondent Musa Khankhel was abducted and executed while covering a peace march in Swat area. On January 2011, the young reporter Wali Khan Babar was shot in his car by a gunman on a motorcycle.


While there has been no murder since 2005, there have also been no convictions won in any of the 7 unsolved murders before that. The most recent case was the murder of Gautam Das, who was found strangled in his office on November 2005. Police arrested several suspects but none has been convicted.


CPJ research has shown that India with a robust democracy has failed address impunity in 7 journalist murders over the past decade. Violence and intimidation of reporters who covers crime, corruption and human rights issues are targeted.

Other forms of violence, physical assaults and threats have risen up by a third (from 929 cases in 2008 to 1,456 in 2009). Journalists are most at risk in the Americas (501 cases), being exposed to drug-trafficking. Asia comes next with 364 cases of this kind with Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The number of censored media is escalating alarmingly with nearly 570 cases of newspapers, radio or TV stations banned from putting out news or forced to close. This happened to a satirical magazine in Malaysia, a score of reformist newspapers in Iran, Radio France Internationale in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the BBC World Service in Rwanda.

Choosing exile to stay Alive

Reporters without Borders have released annual roundup numbers that includes figures for journalists who have been forced to leave their countries because of threats to their lives or liberty. A total of 157 journalists went into exile in the past year, often in very harsh conditions. Among the countries where the exodus of journalists and bloggers was particularly dramatic was Iran, with more than 50 fleeing, and Sri Lanka, with 29. In Africa, some 50 journalists fled the chaos in Somalia while scores of Eritreans sought refuge abroad for fear of being targeted for reprisals by the continent’s worst dictatorship. Journalists also fled Guinea, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mexico, Colombia and Ethiopia. 167 journalists were in prison around the world at the end of 2009 and the sentences given to journalists in Cuba, China, Sri Lanka and Iran are so harsh that it is similar to those who are imprisoned for terrorism or violent crime. One journalist is assaulted or arrested every day in the Middle East and more than 60 journalists were physically attacked or arrested in Iraq in 2009. In Gaza, more than 50 journalists were detained by Hamas and Fatah in the West Bank. In Asia, the arrests are low for now, but foreign or local journalists are still arrested when they cross “the red lines” they are suppose to observe. For 11 years, China was the world’s leading jailer of journalists but Iran has managed to overcome these numbers after jailing dozens of journalists. Cuba is next on the list followed by Eritrea.

A total of almost 160 journalists in all continents were forced to go into exile to escape prison or death. The Iranian press photographers crossed the Turkish border to escape arrest and the Somali radio journalists fled to neighbouring countries to avoid certain death had all reported essential news and information that some people would go to any lengths to suppress.

Election violence and arrest

Two important events happened in 2009. One was the huge massacre of journalists in one day (30 killed) by the private militia of a governor in the southern Philippines and the other was the mass arrest of journalists and bloggers during President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election. This shows how dangerous it has become to cover war and elections as journalists themselves are being targeted facing kidnapping, torture and murder.

Taoufik Ben Brik, a Tunisian journalist was imprisoned in the days following President Ben Ali’s re-election, while is colleague, Slim Boukhdhir, was brutally assaulted. Several journalists were attacked and others received death threats in Gabon following President Ali Bongo’s re-election. Around six media were also temporarily shut down for reporting on the post-election violence and criticising members of the new government.


Although China continued to be the leading Internet censor in 2009, Iran, Tunisia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and Uzbekistan have also resorted to frequent blocking of websites and blogs and surveillance of online expression as for example Turkmen Internet remains under total state control. Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer is still in jail, while the famous Burmese comedian Zarganar still has 34 years of his prison sentence to serve of his sentence. Several European countries are working on new ways to control the Internet to battle illegal downloads and Australia has said it will set up a compulsory filtering system that poses a threat to freedom of expression. Turkey’s courts have increased the number of websites, including YouTube, which are blocked for criticising the republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

We should remember that behind every figure there is a face, and a family, friends, and colleagues, all of whom suffer from a journalist’s persecution or death. The courage shown by the journalists has earned them imprisonment, torture, assault, threats and many has paid with their lives.

Important events on January 20

  • 250 – Emperor Decius begins a widespread persecution of Christians in Rome. Pope Fabian is martyred.
  • 1265 – In Westminster, the first English parliament conducts its first meeting held by Simon de Montfort in the Palace of Westminster, now also known colloquially as the “Houses of Parliament”.
  • 1320 – Duke Wladyslaw Lokietek becomes king of Poland.
  • 1356 – Edward Balliol abdicates as King of Scotland.
  • 1502 – The present-day location of Rio de Janeiro is first explored.
  • 1523 – Christian II is forced to abdicate as King of Denmark and Norway.
  • 1576 – The Mexican city of León is founded by order of the viceroy Don Martín Enríquez de Almanza.
  • 1649 – Charles I of England goes on trial for treason and other “high crimes”.
  • 1783 – The Kingdom of Great Britain signs a peace treaty with France and Spain, officially ending hostilities in the American Revolutionary War (also known as the American War of Independence).
  • 1788 – The third and main part of First Fleet arrives at Botany Bay. Arthur Phillip decides that Botany Bay is unsuitable for the location of a penal colony, and decides to move to Port Jackson.
  • 1801 – John Marshall is appointed the Chief Justice of the United States.
  • 1839 – In the Battle of Yungay, Chile defeats an alliance between Peru and Bolivia.
  • 1841 – Hong Kong Island is occupied by the British.
  • 1885 – L.A. Thompson patents the roller coaster.
  • 1887 – The United States Senate allows the Navy to lease Pearl Harbor as a naval base.
  • 1920 – The American Civil Liberties Union is founded.
  • 1921 – The first Constitution of Turkey is adopted, making fundamental changes in the source and exercise of sovereignty by consecrating the principle of national sovereignty.
  • 1929 – In Old Arizona, the first full-length talking motion picture filmed outdoors, is released.
  • 1934 – Fujifilm, the photographic and electronics company, is founded in Tokyo, Japan.
  • 1936 – Edward VIII becomes King of the United Kingdom.
  • 1937 – Franklin Roosevelt is inaugurated for a second term as U.S. President. This is the first inauguration on January 20. The date was changed from March 4 by the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.
  • 1941 – Franklin Roosevelt is the only President inaugurated for a third term.
  • 1941 – A Nazi officer is murdered in Bucharest, Romania, sparking a rebellion and pogrom by the Iron Guard, killing 125 Jews and 30 soldiers.
  • 1942 – World War II: At the Wannsee Conference held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, senior Nazi German officials discuss the implenetation of the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”.
  • 1945 – World War II: Hungary agrees to an armistice with the Allies.
  • 1945 – World War II: Germany begins the evacuation of 1.8 million people from East Prussia, a task which will take nearly two months.
  • 1945 – Franklin Roosevelt’s fourth and final inauguration is held at the White House due to wartime considerations.
  • 1949 – Point Four Program a program for economic aid to poor countries announced by United States President Harry S. Truman in his inaugural address for a full term as President.
  • 1953 – Dwight D. Eisenhower is inaugurated as the first Republican President in twenty years.
  • 1954 – The National Negro Network is established with 40 charter member radio stations.
  • 1959 – The first flight of the Vickers Vanguard.
  • 1960 – Hendrik Verwoerd announces a plebiscite on whether South Africa should become a Republic.
  • 1961 – John F. Kennedy is inaugurated as the youngest elected and first Roman Catholic President of the U.S. His inaugural address is one of the most memorable of the 20th century.
  • 1968 – The Houston Cougars defeat the UCLA Bruins 71-69 to win the Game of the Century.
  • 1969 – East Pakistani police kill student activist Amanullah Asaduzzaman. The resulting outrage is in part responsible for the Bangladesh Liberation War.
  • 1977 – Jimmy Carter is inaugurated as the 39th President of the United States. He is the last President inaugurated at the east front of the Capitol, which had been the traditional site for Presidential inaugurations since 1829.
  • 1981 – Twenty minutes after Ronald Reagan is inaugurated, at age 69 the oldest man ever to be inaugurated as U.S. President, Iran releases 52 American hostages. It is the first Presidential inauguration to be held at the west front of the Capitol.
  • 1986 – Martin Luther King, Jr. day is celebrated as a federal holiday for the first time.
  • 1987 – Church of England envoy Terry Waite is kidnapped in Lebanon.
  • 1990 – Tragedy at Baku – The Red Army killed Azerbaijani people in Baku.
  • 1991 – Sudan’s government imposes Islamic law nationwide, worsening the civil war between the country’s Muslim north and Christian south.
  • 1992 – Air Inter Flight 148 crashes near Strasbourg, France, killing 82 passengers and 5 crew.
  • 1999 – The China News Service announces new government restrictions on Internet use aimed especially at Internet cafés.
  • 2001 – Philippine president Joseph Estrada is ousted in a nonviolent 4-day revolution, and is succeeded by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
  • 2006 – Witnesses report sightings of a Bottlenose whale swimming in the River Thames, the first time the species had been seen in the River Thames since records began in 1913.
  • 2007 – A three-man team, using only skis and kites, completes a 1,093-mile (1,759 km) trek to reach the southern pole of inaccessibility for the first time since 1958 and for the first time ever without mechanical assistance.
  • 2009 – Barack Obama inaugurated as the 44th and first African-American President of the United States.

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