Friday, July 10, 2009

News bad and good

According to a posting on Harry's Place, citing an article in The Times, the Tamil death toll ‘is 1,400 a week’ at Manik Farm camp in Sri Lanka. This is one of the places that the Sri Lankan government sent Tamil refugees at the end of the war with the Tamil Tigers. The Times reports:
The death toll will add to concerns that the Sri Lankan Government has failed to halt a humanitarian catastrophe after announcing victory over the Tamil Tiger terrorist organisation in May. It may also lend credence to allegations that the Government, which has termed the internment sites “welfare villages”, has actually constructed concentration camps to house 300,000 people.
The Sri Lankan government is telling international aid agencies, like the International Committee of the Red Cross, to scale down their activities, with the explanation that since the war is over, their services are not needed any more. One of the commenters on Harry's Place expressed skepticism about the high number of deaths, but the Times article explained it this way:
Aid workers and the British Government have warned that conditions at the site are inadequate. Most of the deaths are the result of water-borne diseases, particularly diarrhoea, a senior relief worker said on condition of anonymity.

Witness testimonies obtained by The Times in May described long queues for food and inadequate water supplies inside Manik Farm. Women, children and the elderly were shoved aside in the scramble for supplies. Aid agencies are being given only intermittent access to the camp. The Red Cross was not being allowed in yesterday.

In Iran, on the other hand, protestors took to the streets yesterday by the thousands in Tehran.
Thousands of Iranians poured into the streets of Tehran on Thursday, clapping, chanting, almost mocking the authorities as they once again turned out in large numbers in defiance of the government’s threat to crush their protests with violence.

As tear gas canisters cracked and hissed in the middle of crowds, and baton-wielding police officers chased protesters up and down sidewalks, young people, some bloodied, ran for cover, but there was an almost festive feeling on the streets of Tehran, witnesses reported in e-mail exchanges.

Protests Resume in Iran
Associated Press

And for a third, interesting story from Israel, check out the ancient mosaic floor that has been discovered in Lod:

The late-Roman-era mosaic floor, one of the largest and finest in Israel, was unveiled by the authorities last week for just the second time since it was discovered 13 years ago in the dilapidated eastern section of this poor town near the international airport, south of Tel Aviv.

Some 1,700 years old, the magnificent tiled floor spreads over almost 2,000 square feet, shaded from the harsh summer sun by a thin awning and surrounded by a canvas fence. A panoply of colorful depictions of birds, fish, exotic animals and merchant ships, the mosaic conjures up an intriguing reminder of Lod’s more glorious past.

The archaeologists of the Israel Antiquities Authority believe the mosaic, which lacks any inscriptions, was commissioned by a wealthy individual who owned a grand villa here. Lod, which is mentioned in the Bible, was an important center in ancient times, and this part of it is known to have been a neighborhood of the rich.

Today, the site is overlooked by drab apartment blocks with laundry hanging on lines out of windows, surrounded by garbage-strewn yards. A mixed city of Jewish immigrants and Muslim and Christian Arabs, modern Lod is usually associated with hardship, its diverse population largely of low socioeconomic standing and often described by local officials as a challenge.

Now, though, the authorities here hope to revitalize Lod and turn it, of all things, into a major tourist destination thanks to the treasures lurking under the city’s more modern layers of earth.

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