Sunday, October 30, 2022

Ancient Wonders of Archaeology, Art History & Architecture ·

Egyptian archaeologists unearthing mummies at an ancient tomb in Luxor. #Ancient_Archaeology #Egyptian #Tomb #mummies #ancient_tomb

By Damian Zane BBC News: UK museums willing to return skulls to Zimbabwe

London's Natural History Museum and Cambridge University have said that they are ready to co-operate with Zimbabwe to return human remains that were taken in the colonial era. The fresh statements come after a delegation from Zimbabwe held talks with officials from both institutions. The Zimbabweans are looking for the skulls of late-19th Century anti-colonial heroes, which they believe could be in the UK. But these have not yet been found. The authorities in Zimbabwe have long suspected that the remains of some of the leaders of an uprising against British rule in the 1890s - known as the First Chimurenga - were taken to the UK as trophies. The most significant among them was a woman who became known as Mbuya Nehanda. She was executed in what is now the capital, Harare and is revered as a national heroine. In doing a search of its archive, the Natural History Museum did uncover 11 remains "that appear to be originally from Zimbabwe" - but its records do not connect them with Nehanda. These include three skulls taken in 1893, thought to be from Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, as well as remains uncovered in mineshafts and archaeological digs and later donated. Cambridge University's Duckworth Laboratory has not been so specific, simply saying it has "a small number of human remains from Zimbabwe", but in a statement sent to the BBC it said it had not identified any of these as belonging to First Chimurenga figures. The Natural History Museum, with 25,000 human remains, and the Duckworth Laboratory, with 18,000, have some of the largest such archives in the world. These have come from a variety of sources including archaeological excavations of ancient sites, but for many the exact origins have been obscured by time. During the colonial era, body parts were sometimes removed from battlefields or dug up from graves either as trophies or for research into a now-discredited scientific field. In the 19th Century, phrenology, which investigated the idea that human characteristics could be determined by the shape of the skull, was very popular in the UK and other parts of Europe. Phrenological societies would collect skulls to help develop the theory, which for some extended to racial classification. Some researchers set out to show that skull shape indicated that people from different parts of the world were inherently inferior. Some of the archives that now exist in the UK are amalgamations of what had been amassed by defunct phrenological societies as well as private collectors. Zimbabwe's government believes that somehow the skulls of the country's heroes ended up in the archives of a British museum. Chief among them were spiritual leaders, including Charwe Nyakasikana, who became known as Mbuya (Grandmother) Nehanda as she was the medium of the revered ancestral spirit Nehanda. She was arrested after being accused of murdering a British official. Nehanda was then hanged and her body decapitated, it is believed. What happened next is not clear, but in recent years, Zimbabwean officials have made several public statements saying it ended up in the Natural History Museum. With a death cry of "my bones will surely rise", Nehanda became an increasingly potent symbol for those fighting against white-minority rule in what was then known as Rhodesia from the late 1960s. Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980. Statue of Mbuya Nehanda
A three-metre statue of Nehanda now stands over a major road in the centre of Harare. At its unveiling in 2021, President Emmerson Mnangagwa pledged to continue to call for the return of her skull and others from the Natural History Museum. For Zimbabweans, the removal of the head "means that you have literally punished the person beyond the grave", Godfrey Mahachi, who led the delegation to the UK, told the BBC in 2020 when the visit was being planned. "If the head is separated, that means that the spirit of that person will forever linger and never settle." Despite not finding what the Zimbabwean delegation was looking for, both the Natural History Museum and Cambridge University say they are committed to working with the Zimbabwean government to repatriate what was found. As part of its policy of repatriation, earlier this year, the Natural History Museum returned ancestral Moriori and Maori remains. In a press statement following a recent cabinet meeting, Zimbabwe's government said that the delegation that went to the UK was satisfied that "there are indeed human remains of Zimbabwean origin in the UK". "Government will spare no effort to ensure the repatriation of our ancestors," it added. The Zimbabwean delegation also held talks with the British Museum, Oxford University's Pitt Rivers Museum, the University of Manchester Museum and the UK's National Archives. But no details are given about what was discussed. Despite the lack of success in this trip to the UK, the historical significance to Zimbabwe of the remains of Nehanda and others means that the search will continue.

Culled from Ancient Knowledge: 2000 Year-old Children's Shoes

A pair of 2000 year-old children's shoes found in ruins of Roman city of Palmyra, Syria. Palmyra; founded near a fertile natural oasis, it was established in 3rd millennium BC, as settlement of Tadmor, and became a leading city of Near East and major trading post on Silk Road.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Culled From History And Archeology: The Mysterious Mummy

Mysterious mummy found in tomb in Peru with hands covering its face . In 2021 , A mummy, fully bound in ropes and with its hands covering its face, has been discovered in an underground tomb in Peru. Archaeologists from the National University of San Marcos found the mummy in good condition in Cajamarquilla, a significant site 15.5 miles inland from the coastal city and capital Lima, Peru. The mummy is estimated to be between 800 and 1200 years old. Although the mummy’s striking pose – bound by ropes and in the foetal position – appears chilling at first sight, researchers believe it is a southern Peruvian funeral custom. The tomb also contained ceramics, vegetable remains and stone tools.

Monday, October 17, 2022


The Veluwemeer Aqueduct in the Netherlands is a stunning work of architecture and engineering. This waterway measures up at a short 25m long by 19m wide and is located in Harderwijk, Eastern Netherlands. During the design of this unique passage engineers chose to construct the waterway over the N302 Road, where 28,000 vehicles pass each day. The design implemented in this aqueduct allows for constant traffic flow on both the water & road. How cool is this!! A true architectural and engineering masterpiece culled from Burchills Engineering Solution

Thursday, October 13, 2022

From BBC Sports News- Australian Open: Novak Djokovic 'welcome' to compete if he can obtain visa

Novak Djokovic was not allowed to defend his Australian Open title this year The Australian Open cannot press its country's government into allowing Novak Djokovic to play in January's opening Grand Slam event of 2023, says tournament director Craig Tiley. Nine-time winner Djokovic, who is unvaccinated against Covid-19, is banned from re-entering Australia until 2025 after he was deported this year. The Australian government can waive the ban at its discretion. "It's not a matter we can lobby on," said Tiley. "Novak and the federal government need to work out the situation and then we'll follow any instruction after that. "It's a matter that definitely stays between the two of them and then depending on the outcome of that we would welcome him to the Australian Open." Former world number one Djokovic, a 21-time Grand Slam champion, also missed this year's US Open because of his vaccination status, following his victory at Wimbledon in the summer. Australia's former Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said this week she was opposed to the government lifting Djokovic's ban, saying it would be a "slap in the face" for Australians who have been vaccinated. Meanwhile, Russian and Belarusian players will be allowed to compete in Melbourne, although Russian players will not be allowed to represent their country. "They cannot participate in any activity such as the anthem of Russia and they have to play as independent players under a neutral name," said Tiley. Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Russian and Belarusian players are banned from international team competitions. But despite Wimbledon's ban they were permitted to compete as neutral athletes at both this year's French Open and US Open.

Culled from BBC- Ukraine war: UN General Assembly condemns Russia annexation

The United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia's attempts to annex four regions of Ukraine. The resolution was supported by 143 countries, while 35 states - including China and India - abstained. As well as Russia, four countries rejected the vote, namely Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Nicaragua. Although symbolic, it was the highest number of votes against Russia since the invasion. Last week, in a grand ceremony in the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin signed documents to make the eastern Ukrainian regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson part of Russia. The agreements were signed with the Moscow-installed leaders of the four regions, and came after self-proclaimed referendums in the areas that were denounced as a "sham" by the West. Soldiers go door-to-door for votes in 'referendums' The resolution calls on the international community not to recognise any of Russia's annexation claims and demands its "immediate reversal". It welcomes and "expresses its strong support" for efforts to de-escalate the conflict through negotiation. The countries which voted with Russia all have a longstanding stance of criticising Western governments. Belarus is considered a satellite state of its neighbour and ally, and its territory was used in Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February. As well as China and India, which have attempted to remain neutral on the conflict, parties that abstained from the vote included 19 nations in Africa. Many African countries have avoided taking sides in the war - which has been seen as a reflection of efforts to maintain longstanding trade ties, or of historic non-alignment policies. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was grateful to the countries that did support the resolution. "The world had its say - [Russia's] attempts at annexation is [sic] worthless and will never be recognised by free nations," he tweeted, adding that Ukraine would "return all its lands". US President Joe Biden said the vote sent a "clear message" to Moscow. "The stakes of this conflict are clear to all, and the world has sent a clear message in response - Russia cannot erase a sovereign state from the map," he said. Dame Barbara Woodward, Britain's ambassador to the UN, said Russia had failed on the battlefield and at the UN, adding that countries had united to defend the world body's charter. "Russia has isolated itself, but Russia alone can stop the suffering. The time to end the war is now," she said. The General Assembly vote was triggered after Russia used its veto power to prevent action at the Security Council - the body in charge of maintaining international peace and security. As permanent members, China, the United States, France and the United Kingdom also hold vetoes on the council. There have been calls for Russia to be stripped of its veto power after the Ukraine invasion.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Ishaq Khalid's BBC Abuja Article Titled ''Nigeria boat accident kills at least 76 fleeing floodwater in Anambra''

Nigeria boat accident kills at least 76 fleeing floodwater in Anambra Published 13 minutes ago Submerged cars in a rural townImage source, Reuters Image caption, Flooding has hit large areas of Nigeria in recent weeks - such as this scene in Makurdi, nearly 300km from the Anambra accident, a week ago By Ishaq Khalid BBC News, Abuja At least 76 people have been reported dead after a boat accident in Nigeria's south-eastern state of Anambra. The boat, which was carrying at least 80 people, capsized on Friday in the Ogbaru area in Anambra state. Most of the victims were women and children, trying to reach safety after their community had been inundated by floodwater. Benard Achonu told the BBC he was devastated: "My life has fallen apart," he said. The 60-year-old lost his wife and all three of his children, aged between two and six. They were among those fleeing floodwaters in the area, he said. Another former resident, Precious Umeh, told BBC Pidgin that the situation was extremely bad. "Some people whose family members have died in the boat accident are wondering how to bury the bodies because there is no dry land in their area." President Muhammadu Buhari offered his condolences to the families of the victims in the "tragic" accident. He also ordered a review of safety measures across the country's water transport system, and said emergency services must do everything to account for those missing. Mr Buhari called on government agencies "to check the safety protocols on these transport ferries to make sure such incidents are avoided in the future". Local media reports say those aboard the boat were heading to the Nkwo market in Ogbakuba before it capsized. Some officials said the boat had suffered an engine failure and hit a bridge before capsizing. Thickman Tanimu, south-east coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency, told the AFP news agency: "The water level is very high and too risky for a smooth search and rescue operation". Anambra governor Charles Soludo added that the accident had been a shock for both residents and the state's government, offering his sympathies to the victim's families. Boat accidents are relatively common in Nigeria, although most are blamed on overloading or poor safety measures.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Angela Andaloro's article :Khloé Kardashian Calls Out Kanye West Over Niece Chicago's Birthday as He Claims Family Are 'Liars'

Khloé Kardashian Calls Out Kanye West Over Niece Chicago's Birthday as He Claims Family Are 'Liars' Khloé Kardashian commented directly on an Instagram post where Kanye West sniped at the Kardashian family over daughter Chicago's birthday party earlier this year By Angela Andaloro Published on October 5, 2022 03:55 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Khloe Kardashian, Kanye West Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty; Kevin Mazur/Getty Khloé Kardashian is speaking out in defense of her sister. On Wednesday, Khloé commented on an Instagram post by Kanye West where the rapper talked about his affiliation with Candace Owens and praised her for being "the only public figure to say that it was wrong for the Kardashians to keep me from seeing my daughter." In her comment, Khloé addressed the controversy around niece Chicago's fourth birthday — a joint birthday party with cousin Stormi Webster — earlier this year, which the rapper has repeatedly claimed ex Kim Kardashian did not invite him to. "Ye, I love you. I don't want to do this on social media but YOU keep bringing it here. You are the father of my nieces and nephews and I'm trying to be respectful but please STOP tearing Kimberly down and using our family when you want to deflect," the Good American founder wrote. Noting that "everyone's tired" of the birthday narrative, Khloe added, "Enough already. We all know the truth." Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. Khloé Kardashian Calls Out Kanye West over Chicago's Birthday as He Claims Family Are 'Liars' Instagram "You know exactly where your children are at all times and YOU wanted separate birthdays. I have seen all of the texts to prove it. And when you changed your mind and wanted to attend, you came," she wrote. "Like you have pointed out yourself, she is the one taking care of your kids 80% of the time," Khloé continued. "Please leave her and the family out of it so that the kids can be raised peacefully. 🙏🏽 I come from a place of love and I am happy to continue this conversation privately if you wish 🤍" At the time of West's initial claims about the birthday party, a source told PEOPLE he is "always welcome and does come to family events."
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty; Kevin Mazur/Getty The Yeezy founder posted a screenshot of Khloé's comment and responded, "You are lying and are liars." In his all caps reply, he said that the Kardashians "basically kidnapped Chicago on her birthday so she could remember her father not being there." Kanye West Says Kim Kardashian Is Raising Their Children '80 Percent of the Time' Khloé Kardashian Calls Out Kanye West over Chicago's Birthday as He Claims Family Are 'Liars' Instagram He also reiterated his previous claim that Kylie Jenner's boyfriend, Travis Scott, was the one to share the party's location with him, noting, "that's how y'all play with black fathers." West then accused the family of throwing a party "before Psalm's birthday when I was flying back from Japan to be there for his birthday," adding that he learned about the celebration by "seeing pics of the party on line." "Also I should see my children 100% of the time, but since there's a separation it should have been 50% of the time," he concluded, adding, "Y'all wouldn't have played with Donda like that, in Jesus name." Kanye West children Kanye West and kids. Kim Kardashian/Instagram In addition to Chicago and Psalm, the SKIMS founder and the rapper share son Saint, 6, and daughter North, 9. During an exclusive interview with ABC News that aired in part on Good Morning America two weeks ago, the 45-year-old rapper opened up to Linsey Davis about his relationship with Kim, who filed for divorce in February 2021 after nearly seven years of marriage. "This is the mother of my children, and I apologize for any stress that I have caused, even in my frustration because God calls me to be stronger," West told Davis. "But also, ain't nobody else needs to be causing no stress either. I need this person to be least stressed and at best sound mind and as calm as possible to be able to raise those children." When asked whether West feels he has "a voice while co-parenting," he said he has to "fight for it."

Cullled From Associated Press: North Korea fires 2 missiles toward sea as U.S. redeploys carrier near Korean Peninsula

North Korea fires 2 missiles toward sea as U.S. redeploys carrier near Korean Peninsula The launch comes days after the North fired an intermediate-range missile over Japan for the first time in five years. North Korea on Tuesday fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years, forcing Japan to issue evacuation notices and suspend trains, as the North escalates tests of weapons designed to strike regional U.S. allies. A TV screen at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, shows a news program Tuesday reporting North Korea's missile launch with file video of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.Lee Jin-man / AP Oct. 6, 2022, 12:54 AM WAT / Updated Oct. 6, 2022, 6:51 AM WAT / Source: Associated Press By The Associated Press SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters Thursday after the United States redeployed an aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula in response to Pyongyang’s previous launch of a nuclear-capable missile over Japan. The latest missile launches suggest North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is determined to continue with weapons tests aimed at boosting his nuclear arsenal in defiance of international sanctions. Many experts say Kim’s goal is to eventually win U.S. recognition as a legitimate nuclear state and the lifting of those sanctions, though the international community has shown no sign of allowing that to happen. The latest missiles were launched 22 minutes apart from the North’s capital region and landed between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. The first missile flew 217 miles and reached a maximum altitude of 50 miles and the second flew 497 miles on an apogee of 37 miles. The flight details were similar to Japanese assessments announced by Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, who confirmed that the missiles didn’t reach Japan’s exclusive economic zone. He added that the second missile was possibly launched on an “irregular” trajectory. It is a term that has been previously used to describe the flight characteristics of a North Korean weapon modeled after Russia’s Iskander missile, which travels at low altitudes and is designed to be maneuverable in flight to improve its chances of evading missile defenses. U.S., allies respond to North Korea’s missile test over Japan Oct. 5, 202201:35 South Korea’s military said it has boosted its surveillance posture and maintains readiness in close coordination with the United States. The U.S. Indo Pacific Command said the launches didn’t pose an immediate threat to United States or its allies, but still highlighted the “destabilizing impact” of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was expected to hold a telephone call with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol over the North Korean threat later Thursday, said the North’s continued launches were “absolutely intolerable.” Yoon’s office said his National Security Director Kim Sung-han discussed the launch at an emergency security meeting where members discussed plans to prepare for further North Korean hostilities, including military provocations. The launches were North Korea’s sixth round of weapons tests in less than two weeks, adding to a record number of missile launches this year that has prompted condemnation from the United States and other countries. South Korean officials the North may up the ante soon by testing an intercontinental ballistic missile or conducting its first nuclear test explosion since 2017 and seventh overall, escalating an old pattern of heightening tensions before trying to wrest outside concessions. Moon Hong Sik, a South Korean Defense Ministry spokesperson, said North Korea’s accelerating tests also reflect an urgency to meet Kim Jong Un’s arms development goals. Kim last year described an extensive wish list of advanced nuclear weapons systems, including more powerful ICBMs, multiwarhead missiles, underwater-launched nuclear missiles and tactical nuclear arms. North Korea is “moving accordingly with the timeline it set for itself,” Moon said. Get the Morning Rundown Get a head start on the morning's top stories. This site is protected by recaptcha Privacy Policy | Terms of Service On Tuesday, North Korea staged its most provocative weapons demonstration since 2017, firing an intermediate-range missile over Japan, forcing the Japanese government to issue evacuation alerts and halt trains. Recommended U.S. news Purdue University student is arrested on a murder charge after his roommate is killed in a residence hall U.S. news Four family members kidnapped in California have been found dead, sheriff says Experts said the weapon was likely a Hwasong-12 missile capable of reaching the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam and beyond. Other weapons tested earlier included Iskander-like missiles and other ballistic weapons designed to strike key targets in South Korea, including U.S. military bases there. Thursday’s launches came as the U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan returned to waters east of South Korea in what South Korea’s military called an attempt to demonstrate the allies’ “firm will” to counter North’s continued provocations and threats. The carrier was in the area last week as part of drills between South Korea and the United States and the allies’ other training involving Japan. North Korea considers such U.S.-led drills near the peninsula as an invasion rehearsal and views training involving a U.S. carrier more provocative. North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday that the redeployment of the Reagan strike group poses “a serious threat to the stability of the situation on the Korean peninsula and in its vicinity.” The ministry said it strongly condemns U.S.-led efforts at the U.N. Security Council to tighten sanctions on the North over its recent missile testing, which it described as a “just counteraction” to joint U.S.-South Korean drills. After the North’s intermediate-range missile launch, the United States and South Korea also carried out their own live-fire drills that have so far involved land-to-land ballistic missiles and precision-guided bombs dropped from fighter jets. But one of the tit-for-tat launches nearly caused catastrophe early Wednesday when a malfunctioning South Korean Hyumoo-2 missile flipped shortly after liftoff and crashed into the ground at an air force base in the eastern coastal city of Gangneung. South Korea’s military said no one was hurt and civilian facilities weren’t affected. After Tuesday’s North Korean launch, the United States, Britain, France, Albania, Norway and Ireland called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. But the session Wednesday ended with no consensus, underscoring a divide among the council’s permanent members that has deepened over Russia’s war on Ukraine. Russia and China during the meeting insisted to fellow Security Council members that U.S.-led military exercises in the region had provoked North Korea into acting. The United States and its allies expressed concern that the the council’s inability to reach consensus on North Korea’s record number of missile launches this year was emboldening North Korea and undermining the authority of the United Nations’ most powerful body. North Korea has fired more than 40 ballistic and cruise missiles over more than 20 launch events this year, using the stalled diplomacy with the United States and Russia’s war on Ukraine as a window to speed up arms development.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Culled from BBC News- Andrew Harding's article on the Somalia drought

Somalia drought: The fight for survival as famine looms Published 12 hours ago Related Topics 2022 East Africa drought Dahir, a young boy, is seen with his sister and mother in front of a makeshift tent in Baidoa Image caption, Dahir (pictured left with his sister and mother) recently lost his brother to starvation By Andrew Harding BBC News, Baidoa, Somalia Young children are dying in growing numbers in Somalia amid the worst drought to hit the country in 40 years. Government officials say that an even greater catastrophe could sweep the country within days or weeks unless more help arrives. Short presentational grey line The tears tumbled down 11-year-old Dahir's hunger-hollowed cheeks. "I just want to survive this," he said quietly. Seated beside the family's makeshift tent, on the dusty plain outside the city of Baidoa, his weary mother, Fatuma Omar, told him not to cry. "Your tears will not bring your brother back. Everything will be fine," she said. Fatuma's second son, 10-year-old Salat, died of starvation two weeks ago, shortly after the family reached Baidoa from their village, three days' walk away. His body is buried in the rocky earth a few metres from their new home - the grave already covered in litter and increasingly hard to spot as new arrivals set up camp around them. "I cannot grieve for my son. There is no time. I need to find work and food to keep the others alive," Fatuma said, cradling her youngest daughter, nine-month-old Bille, and turning to look at six-year-old Mariam as she gave a rasping cough. On the other side of the dirt road that loops to the south-east, towards the coast and Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, other displaced families told more grim stories of long treks across a drought-parched landscape in search of food. 'No strength to bury my daughter' A new survey has shown that almost two-thirds of young children and pregnant women in the camps are suffering from acute malnutrition, which, along with a high death rate, could indicate that a localised declaration of famine is already overdue. "I saw my daughter [three-year-old Farhir] die before me and I could do nothing," said Fatuma, who had walked for at least 15 days with her nine children from a village called Buulo Ciir to reach Baidoa. "I had been carrying her for 10 days. We had to leave her by the side of the road. We had no strength to bury her. We could hear the hyenas closing in," she continued. Habiba (a woman wearing a blue headscarf) is seen with a piece of string Image caption, Habiba Mohamud says her home village is unrecognisable "I've brought nothing with me. There is nothing left at home. The cattle are dead. The fields are dry," said Habiba Mohamud, 50, clutching a piece of twine in one hand, and acknowledging that she will never return to her village. A succession of droughts, turbo-charged by climate change, is now threatening to end a pastoral way of life that has endured for centuries across the Horn of Africa. Like other new arrivals, Habiba was busy erecting a tent for her family from branches, twigs, and scavenged scraps of cardboard and plastic sheeting, hoping to finish it before the chill of night. Only after that could she turn to finding food and medical help for some of her five children. On the admissions ward in the city's main hospital, Dr Abdullahi Yussuf moved between beds, checking on his tiny, emaciated patients. Most were children between two months and three years old. All were severely malnourished. Some had pneumonia and many were battling a new outbreak of measles too. Few infants had the strength to cry. Several had badly damaged skin, broken by the swelling that sometimes accompanies the most extreme cases of hunger. "So many die before they even reach a hospital," said Dr Abdullahi, watching his team struggling to connect an intravenous tube to the arm of a moaning two-year-old. 'It's terrifying, people are dying' Although Somali officials and international organisations have been sounding the alarm for months about an impending famine in this south-western region, Dr Abdullahi said his hospital was already short of basic items including nutritional supplements for children. "Sometimes we lack supplies. It's terrifying, actually, because people are dying, and we can't support them. Our local government is not handling this well. It has not been planning for the drought or for the arrival of displaced families," he said, with visible frustration. A local government minister conceded there had been failings. "We need to be faster than we are, and we need to be accurate… and more effective," said Nasir Arush, Minister for Humanitarian Affairs for South West state, on a short visit to one of the camps around Baidoa. But more international support, he insisted, was key. Somalia famine graphic "If we don't receive the aid we need, hundreds of thousands of people will die. The things we're doing now we needed to do three months ago. In reality we are behind. Unless something happens [fast] I think something catastrophic will happen in this area," he said. The process of formally declaring a famine can be a complicated one, reliant on hard-to-pin-down data, and, often, political considerations. Britain's ambassador in Mogadishu, Kate Foster, described it as "essentially, a technical process". She pointed out that during the 2011 drought "half of the 260,000 deaths happened before famine was declared". Man walking on arid land leading donkeys pulling a cart of wood. There are women, some carrying babies, behind himImage source, BBC/ Ed Habershon Image caption, Locals have been migrating from their villages to Baidoa in search of resources and medical care The presidential envoy leading Somalia's international effort to secure more funding thanked the US government, in particular, for recent new funding, saying it "has given us hope". But Abdirahman Abdishakur warned that without more help, a localised crisis in one part of Somalia could quickly spin out of control. "We were raising the alarm… but the response of the international community was not adequate," Mr Abdishakur said. "Famine is projected. It happens [already] in some places, some pockets, in Somalia, but still we can prevent the catastrophic one," he continued, speaking by phone during a stopover in Toronto, Canada. Women fleeing, men stay behind Although estimates vary, the population of Baidoa has roughly quadrupled in the past few months, to around 800,000 people. And any visitor will quickly notice one striking fact: almost all the new adult arrivals are women. Somalia is at war. The conflict has endured, in different guises, since the central government collapsed three decades ago, and it continues to affect almost every part of the country, tearing men away from their families to fight for an array of armed groups. Like most of those arriving in Baidoa, Hadija Abukar recently escaped from territory controlled by militant Islamist group al-Shabab. "Even now I'm getting calls on my phone from the rest of my family. There is fighting there - between the government and al-Shabab. My relatives have run away and are hiding in the forest," she said, seated beside her sickly child at a small hospital in Baidoa. Other women spoke of husbands and older sons being blocked from leaving areas controlled by the militants, and of years of extortion by the group. Baidoa itself is not quite surrounded by al-Shabab, but it remains a precarious place of refuge. International aid organisations, and foreign journalists, require heavy security to move around, and any travel beyond the city limits is considered extremely risky. "We're looking at populations that are under siege. Sometimes it feels quite hopeless," said Charles Nzuki, who heads the UN children's fund, Unicef, in central and southern Somalia. Baby being weighed Image caption, Women and children are leaving areas where they cannot get humanitarian assistance According to some estimates, more than half the population affected by the current drought remains in areas controlled by al-Shabab. Strict US government rules blocking any assistance from benefitting designated terrorist groups have complicated efforts to reach many desperate communities. But international organisations, and the Somali authorities, are working with smaller local partners to increase access and are now planning air drops into some contested territories. Still, one aid worker, speaking off the record, acknowledged that it was almost impossible to guarantee that no food or funds were reaching al-Shabab. "Let's not be naïve, [al-Shabab] taxes everything, even cash donations," they said. Over the years, the militant group has established a reputation not just for violence and intimidation but for delivering justice in a country with a hard-earned reputation for official corruption. In at least four villages close to Baidoa, al-Shabab runs a network of Sharia courts that are routinely used by the city's residents and, reportedly, by people in Mogadishu and beyond, to settle business and land disputes. Further to the north-east, a sudden uprising against al-Shabab has seen local communities and clan militias - now heavily backed by the central government - drive the group out of dozens of towns and villages in recent weeks. The military successes have prompted a surge of optimism, but it is not clear if that will help in the fight against famine, or simply distract the Somali government. "It might, or it might not [help]. I think it may create more [civilian] displacement. Or the government might liberate more areas and people might have more access [to aid]. So, we're looking at it from all sides," said local minister Nasir Arush. Birds-eye view of BaidoaImage source, BBC/ Ed Habershon Image caption, Baidoa is providing a safe haven for those fleeing villages with no resources In Baidoa itself - a busy city of narrow, cobbled streets scarred by decades of conflict and neglect - the prices of basic goods, like rice, have doubled in the past month. Many residents blamed the drought, but others also looked further afield. "Flour, sugar, oil - they've all risen by about the same amount. Sometimes we have to skip meals. I heard about the war between Russia and Ukraine. People say that is the root cause of these problems," said Shukri Moalim Ali, 38, walking over to her dry well, and barren vegetable patch. While the fight to ward off a deeper, spreading famine is the immediate focus in this region, Somalia's new government is also looking ahead, seeking to address more existential questions about the future. "It is a challenging task, to respond to the drought, to fight against al-Shabab, and to campaign to access [international] climate justice finance," Abdirahman Abdishakur said. "We have a young population, an enormous diaspora, and vibrant entrepreneurial skills. So that gives us hope. It's challenging, but we don't have an alternative."


5.2k The New York Times Russia's Small Nuclear Arms: A Risky Option for Putin and Ukraine Alike David E. Sanger and William J. Broad Tue, October 4, 2022 at 12:56 PM·9 min read In this article: Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin President of Russia WASHINGTON — For all his threats to fire tactical nuclear arms at Ukrainian targets, President Vladimir Putin of Russia is now discovering what the United States itself concluded years ago, U.S. officials suspect: Small nuclear weapons are hard to use, harder to control and a far better weapon of terror and intimidation than a weapon of war. Analysts inside and outside the government who have tried to game out Putin’s threats have come to doubt how useful such arms — delivered in an artillery shell or thrown in the back of a truck — would be in advancing his objectives. The primary utility, many U.S. officials say, would be as part of a last-ditch effort by Putin to halt the Ukrainian counteroffensive, by threatening to make parts of Ukraine uninhabitable. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe some of the most sensitive discussions inside the administration. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times The scenarios of how the Russians might do it vary widely. They could fire a shell 6 inches wide from an artillery gun on Ukrainian soil, or a half-ton warhead from a missile located over the border in Russia. The targets could be a Ukrainian military base or a small city. How much destruction — and lingering radiation — would result depends on factors including the size of the weapon and the winds. But even a small nuclear explosion could cause thousands of deaths and render a base or a downtown area uninhabitable for years. Still, the risks for Putin could easily outweigh any gains. His country could become an international pariah, and the West would try to capitalize on the detonation to try to bring China and India, and others who are still buying Russian oil and gas, into sanctions they have resisted. Then there is the problem of prevailing winds: The radiation released by Russian weapons could easily blow back into Russian territory. For months now, computer simulations from the Pentagon, U.S. nuclear labs and intelligence agencies have been trying to model what might happen and how the United States could respond. It is no easy task because tactical weapons come in many sizes and varieties, most with a small fraction of the destructive power of the bombs the United States dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. In a fiery speech last week full of bluster and menace, Putin said those bombings “created a precedent.” The modeling results, one official familiar with the effort said, vary dramatically — depending on whether Putin’s target is a remote Ukrainian military base, a small city or a “demonstration” blast over the Black Sea. Great secrecy surrounds Russia’s arsenal of tactical arms, but they vary in size and power. The weapon Europeans worry the most about is the heavy warhead that fits atop an Iskander-M missile and could reach cities in Western Europe. Russian figures put the smallest nuclear blast from the Iskander payload at roughly one-third of the Hiroshima bomb’s explosive power. Much more is known about the tactical weapons designed for the U.S. arsenal back in the Cold War. One made in the late 1950s, called the Davy Crockett after the frontiersman who died at the Alamo, weighed about 70 pounds; it looked like a large watermelon with four fins. It was designed to be shot from the back of a jeep and had about one-thousandth of the power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. But as the Cold War progressed, both the United States and the Soviets developed hundreds of variants. There were nuclear depth charges to take out submarines and rumors of “suitcase nukes.” At one point in the 1970s, NATO had upward of 7,400 tactical nuclear weapons, nearly four times the current estimated Russian stockpile. By that time, they were also part of popular culture. In 1964, James Bond defused a small nuclear weapon in “Goldfinger,” seconds before it was supposed to go off. In 2002, in “The Sum of All Fears,” based on a Tom Clancy novel, a terrorist wipes out Baltimore with a tactical weapon that arrives on a cargo ship. The reality, though, was that while the blast might be smaller than a conventional weapon would produce, the radioactivity would be long-lasting. On land, the radiation effects “would be very persistent,” said Michael G. Vickers, the Pentagon’s former top civilian official for counterinsurgency strategy. In the 1970s, Vickers was trained to infiltrate Soviet lines with a backpack-sized nuclear bomb. Russia’s tactical arms “would most likely be used against enemy force concentrations to stave off a conventional defeat,” Vickers added. But he said his experience suggests “their strategic utility would be highly questionable, given the consequences Russia would almost assuredly face after their use.” For deadly radiation, there is only one dramatic, real-life comparison on Ukrainian soil: what happened in 1986 when one of the four Chernobyl reactors suffered a meltdown and explosions that destroyed the reactor building. At the time, the prevailing winds blew from the south and southeast, sending clouds of radioactive debris mostly into Belarus and Russia, although lesser amounts were detected in other parts of Europe, especially Sweden and Denmark. The radiation dangers from small nuclear arms would likely be less than those involving large reactors, like those at Chernobyl. Its radioactive fallout poisoned the flatlands for miles around and turned villages into ghost towns. Eventually the radiation caused thousands of cases of cancer, although exactly how many is a matter of debate. The ground around the deactivated plant is still somewhat contaminated, which made it all the more remarkable that the Russians provided little protection to troops that moved through the area in the early days of Moscow’s failed bid to seize Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, in February and March. Chernobyl, of course, was an accident. The detonation of a tactical weapon would be a choice — and likely an act of desperation. While Putin’s repeated atomic threats may come as a shock to Americans who have barely thought about nuclear arms in recent decades, they have a long history. In some respects, Putin is following a playbook written by the United States nearly 70 years ago, as it planned how to defend Germany and the rest of Europe in case of a large-scale Soviet invasion. The idea was to use the tactical weapons to slow an invasion force. Colin Powell, the former secretary of state and chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recalled being sent to Germany in 1958 as a young platoon leader, where his primary responsibility was tending to what he described in his memoir as “a 280-millimeter atomic cannon carried on twin truck-tractors, looking like a World War I Big Bertha.” Decades later, he told a reporter “it was crazy” to think that the strategy to keep Western Europe free was for the United States and its NATO allies to risk using dozens or hundreds of nuclear weapons, on European soil, against advancing forces. The very name “tactical weapons” is meant to differentiate these small arms from the giant “city busters” that the United States, the Soviets and other nuclear-armed states mounted on intercontinental missiles and pointed at one another from silos, submarines and bomber fleets. It was the huge weapons — far more powerful than what destroyed Hiroshima — that prompted fear of Armageddon, and of a single strike that could take out New York or Los Angeles. Tactical weapons, in contrast, might collapse a few city blocks or stop an oncoming column of troops. But they would not destroy the world. Ultimately, the large “strategic weapons” became the subject of arms control treaties, and currently the United States and Russia are limited to 1,550 deployed weapons each. But the smaller tactical weapons have never been regulated. And the logic of deterrence that surrounded the intercontinental missiles — that a strike on New York would result in a strike on Moscow — never fully applied to the smaller weapons. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration feared that a terrorist group like al-Qaida might get a nuclear weapon and use it to destroy the New York subways or irradiate downtown Washington. The CIA went to great lengths to determine whether al-Qaida or the Taliban had obtained the technology for small nuclear bombs, and the Obama administration held a series of “nuclear summits” with world leaders to reduce the amount of loose nuclear material that could be turned into a small weapon or dirty bomb, essentially radioactive waste that could be dispersed around a few city blocks. As the Cold War ended, NATO admitted publicly to what insiders had long concluded, that the rationale for any nuclear use was exceedingly remote and that the West could dramatically reduce its nuclear forces. Slowly it removed most of its tactical nuclear weapons, determining they were of little military value. Roughly 100 are still kept in Europe, mostly to appease NATO nations that worry about Russia’s arsenal, estimated at 2,000 or so weapons. Now the question is whether Putin would actually use them. The possibility that he would has sent strategists back to examine a war doctrine known as “escalate to de-escalate” — meaning routed Russian troops would fire a nuclear weapon to stun an aggressor into retreat or submission. That is the “escalate” part; if the enemy retreated, Russia could then “de-escalate.” Of late, Moscow has used its tactical arsenal as a backdrop for threats, bullying and bluster. Nina Tannenwald, a political scientist at Brown University who studies nuclear arms, recently noted that Putin first raised the threat of turning to his nuclear weapons in 2014 during Russia’s invasion of Crimea. She added that, in 2015, Russia threatened Danish warships with nuclear destruction if Denmark were to join NATO’s system for fending off missile strikes. In late February, Putin called for his nuclear forces to go on alert; there is no evidence they ever did. Last week, the Institute for the Study of War concluded that “Russian nuclear use would therefore be a massive gamble for limited gains that would not achieve Putin’s stated war aims. At best, Russian nuclear use would freeze the front lines in their current position and enable the Kremlin to preserve its currently occupied territory in Ukraine.” Even that, it concluded, would take “multiple tactical nuclear weapons.” But it would not, the institute concluded, “enable Russian offensives to capture the entirety of Ukraine.” Which was, of course, Putin’s original goal. © 2022 The New York Times Company