Could this support recent genetic evidence that modern Homo sapiens and their Neanderthal cousins interbred, perhaps in the Middle East and most likely between 65,000 and 47,000 years ago?
Although I may not always agree with Wells Fargo’s Business Practices, this #MyUntold Project is really worth checking out.
This story-telling initiative offers a glimpse of what it means to be African-American today. View the stories & share your own using #MyUntold.
***THIS JUST IN***
UPDATED 10/17/14, 3:43 P.M. EST: According to Nigerian government officials, in addition to the ceasefire, the nearly 300 schoolgirls — who were kidnapped as they took exams in Chibok — will be released, reports the BBC.
Nigerian presidential aide Hassan Tukur told BBC Focus on Africa that the agreement was sealed after a month of negotiations, mediated by Chad.
As part of the talks, a government delegation twice met representatives of the Islamist group.
Mr Tukur said Boko Haram had announced a unilateral ceasefire on Thursday and the government had responded.
“They’ve assured us they have the girls and they will release them,” he said.
“I am cautiously optimistic.”
While the Nigerian government hasn’t revealed what concessions they have made to secure the girls, they have said that they will be having a meeting next week to hash out the particulars of the release.
ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria’s government and Islamic extremists from Boko Haram have agreed to an immediate cease-fire, officials said Friday, in a move that could end five years of insurgency that has killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands homeless in Africa’s most populous nation and its biggest oil producer.
The fate of more than 200 missing schoolgirls abducted by the insurgents six months ago remains unclear. Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Chris Olukolade said their release is still being negotiated.
Boko Haram negotiators “assured that the schoolgirls and all other people in their captivity are all alive and well,” Mike Omeri, the government spokesman on the insurgency, told a news conference.
The chief of defense staff, Air Marshal Alex Badeh, announced the truce and ordered his troops to immediately comply with the agreement.
“Already, the terrorists have announced a cease-fire in furtherance of their desire for peace. In this regard, the government of Nigeria has, in similar vein, declared a cease-fire,” Omeri said.
There was no immediate word from Boko Haram, which limits its announcements almost exclusively to videos of its leader Abubakar Shekau. Last year, when a government minister charged with negotiations announced an agreement, the group quickly published a video denying it. Leader Shekau said at that time that whoever the government negotiated with did not speak for him and that he would never talk to infidels.
It could take days for word to get to fighters of Boko Haram, which is broken into several groups. They include foreigners from neighboring countries Chad, Cameroon and Niger, where the insurgents also have camps.
There have been unconfirmed reports that at least some of the girls have been carried across borders, and some forced to marry their captors. A Boko Haram video in May showed two of the girls explaining why they had converted from Christianity to Islam.
Omeri confirmed there had been direct negotiations this week about the release of the abducted girls. Another official said the talks took place in neighboring Chad. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to reporters.
Boko Haram had been demanding the release of detained extremists in exchange for the girls. President Goodluck Jonathan originally said he could not countenance a prisoner swap.
Boko Haram – the group’s nickname means “education is sinful” – attracted international condemnation with the April 15 kidnapping of 276 girls and young women writing final examinations at a boarding school in the remote northeastern town of Chibok.
Dozens escaped on their own in the first couple of days, but 219 remain missing. Their plight drew protests around the world with demands that the military and government get them free.
The United States, Britain, France and China sent experts to help find the girls, and U.S. drones flew over the area they are believed captive. But Badeh said months ago that they feared a military campaign to free the girls would lead to many of their deaths.
Dozens more schoolgirls and boys, young women and men have been kidnapped by the extremists in a 5-year-old insurgency.
Jonathan told the United Nations last month that the extremists have killed 13,000 civilians.
Hundreds of thousands have been driven from their homes, many of them farmers, causing a food emergency in the northeast of the country where the insurgency is centered.
But Boko Haram has struck elsewhere, with suicide and car bombing attacks in northern cities, in Abuja, the capital in the center of the country, and one failed car bomb in Lagos, the commercial capital in the southwest.
This week, nearly 100 soldiers have been on trial before a court-martial for mutiny and conspiracy to mutiny by refusing to fight the insurgents.
Demoralized troops have told The Associated Press that Boko Haram is better equipped and better armed, and that their officers steal some of their pay. They complain that they are abandoned to fight in the bush with no food or water.
In August, Boko Haram began seizing and holding territory where it declared a caliphate, apparently copying the Islamic State group fighting in Iraq and Syria.
But the tide appears to have turned in recent weeks, with the military wrestling some towns from the extremists and reporting to have killed hundreds of Boko Haram fighters.
French President Francois Hollande on Friday welcomed the announcement of an accord on the Nigerian schoolgirls as “good news.” He said during a press conference in Paris that “we have information that allows us to think that (the release of the girls) could happen in the coming hours and days”. He didn’t give details.
By Abena Agyeman-Fisher
Saqqara, in Egypt, is the oldest stone complex ever built by humans—and within it sits the oldest pyramid in Egypt. It’s a piece of irreplaceable history that’s been crumbling for 4,600 years. But according to one local report, it’s currently being destroyed by the company hired to “restore” it.
In fact, the company hired by Egypt’s Ministry of Antiquities may have even committed a crime in its restoration. According to the Egypt Independent, preservation laws require that any new construction be less than 5 percent of the preserved structure. Instead, the company—which has reportedly never worked on a preservation project before!—constructed a number of new walls and structures that exceed the limit.
Now, that might not be such a huge deal. Buildings can be torn down. But according to activists speaking in the story, the new construction is actually contributing to the collapse of the pyramid, which is considered the oldest cut stone structure in the world.
You see, back in 1992, a major earthquake hit the region, and it nearly destroyed the pyramid. It sent “tons” of stone, broken free from the structure, down into the base, and created a “dome-shaped” void at its top, in the words of archaeologist Peter James, who says it was “liable to collapse at any time.”
At the time, James’ company installed an ingenious temporary balloon-style support called WaterWall. “The internally-reinforced PVC product can be inflated with air and then filled with water,” writes James. “It was this product that was used to support the inverted dome of stone.” The system worked well, and over time, restoration specialists planned to install steel rods to strengthen the pyramid permanently.
But funding ran out. And kept running out, it seems, as sociopolitical upheaval wracked Egypt. The company that was hired to take up the job has reportedly never restored an ancient structure before—in fact, it’s never completed a successful project at all. Speaking to Al-Masry Al-Youm and translated by the Egypt Independent, one advocate said the company is actually responsible for a collapse of one section of the structure already.
It’s a sad, and unfortunately very common throughout history, occurrence. But hopefully a structure that survived the past 4,600 years of history can weather this particular storm, too. [Egypt Independent; Co.Design]
Not that “Africa” is a country, of course, but it helps to look at broad, continent-wide trends. People are reluctant to the idea of demographics as the great driver of history. In the general case, this might be true. But the 21st century will see an unprecedented situation: one where every continent will face large-scale aging and slowing demographic growth. Every continent, that is, except one: Africa (or, to be more specific, sub-Saharan Africa). Africa is young whereas the rest of the world is graying, and any strategic thinking about the 21st century must take this into account.
A new report by The Intercept news site reveals the National Security Agency is secretly providing troves of data to nearly two dozen government agencies using a “Google-like” search engine. Documents from Edward Snowden provide proof that for years the NSA has made data directly available to domestic law enforcement agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI. The search tool, known as ICReach, contains information on both foreigners and millions of U.S. citizens who have not been accused of wrongdoing. It is designed to share more than 850 billion records — that is more than twice the number of stars in the Milky Way. We speak with Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept reporter who broke the story. We also ask Gallagher about his report on how the U.S. military has banned all employees from reading The Intercept and has begun blocking the website on work computers, purportedly because it has published classified material. “That kind of policy in the age of Manning, in the age of Snowden, just is totally archaic, and it doesn’t fit the modern world,” Gallagher says. “You can have a situation where an intelligence analyst in the government with a top-secret security clearance is in a position that they can’t read public news reports.”