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News Article | February 7, 2017
Site: globenewswire.com

Additional roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba on Norwegian Sky begin June 2017 All 30 voyages will feature an overnight call in the capital city of Havana MIAMI, Feb. 07, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Norwegian Cruise Line announced today that it will extend its offering of weekly roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba aboard Norwegian Sky, the largest vessel sailing to Cuba, through December 2017. Together with the five previously announced cruises in May 2017, these 25 additional cruises, which start in June 2017, all feature an overnight stay in Cuba’s historical and culturally-rich capital of Havana. “We are thrilled to be the first cruise line able to offer weekly sailings from Miami to Cuba through the fall of 2017, all with overnights in the beautiful city of Havana,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer for Norwegian Cruise Line. “We have seen great demand from our guests for sailings to Cuba and we look forward to providing more opportunities for them to experience this incredibly culture-rich destination on a weekly basis.” Norwegian Sky will sail four-day roundtrip cruises from Miami each Monday, featuring an overnight in the capital of Havana as well as a call on Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas. The ship will dock right in the heart of Havana, offering guests the opportunity to visit historical sites such as Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; view incredible art and listen to the vibrant local music scene; and visit with Cuba’s warm and friendly residents through people-to-people exchanges. Norwegian will offer a selection of 15 half and full-day OFAC-compliant shore excursions, where guests aboard Norwegian Sky will have the opportunity to have a farm to table dining experience, explore the flora and fauna of Soroa, see modern Havana in an American classic car and much more. Norwegian Sky’s sailings to Cuba will also feature a call to Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island destination in the Bahamas that was recently enhanced to offer guests exciting new ways to enjoy the island, with additional features to be added through summer 2017. Great Stirrup Cay is a private island paradise, with white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, watersports galore and lushly landscaped beachside cabanas available for daily rental for those who wish to have a more exclusive island experience. Along with the freedom and flexibility that only Norwegian Cruise Line can provide, guests sailing on Norwegian Sky will also enjoy unlimited complimentary beverages as a part of the ship’s all-inclusive program. Norwegian Sky’s four-day cruises to Cuba will open for sale on February 21.  For additional information or to book a cruise to Cuba on Norwegian, as well as documentation requirements, Frequently Asked Questions and more, please visit www.ncl.com/cruises-to/cuba-cruises. About Norwegian Cruise Line Norwegian Cruise Line is the innovator in cruise travel with a 50-year history of breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising.  Most notably, Norwegian revolutionized the cruise industry by offering guests the freedom and flexibility to design their ideal cruise vacation on their schedule. Today, Norwegian invites guests to “Feel Free” to explore the world on one of 14 purpose-built ships, providing guests the opportunity to enjoy a relaxed, resort style cruise vacation on some of the newest and most contemporary ships at sea. Recently, the line was named “Europe’s Leading Cruise Line” for the ninth consecutive year, as well as “Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Line” for the third time and “World’s Leading Large Ship Cruise Line” for the fifth straight year by the World Travel Awards. For further information on Norwegian Cruise Line visit www.ncl.com; contact us in the U.S. and Canada at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784); or follow us on the following social channels for the latest company news & exclusive content: Facebook, Instagram and Youtube: @NorwegianCruiseLine; Twitter, Periscope and Snapchat: @CruiseNorwegian; and WeChat: @gonclcn. High resolution, downloadable images are available at www.ncl.com/media-center. Cautionary Statement Concerning Forward-Looking Statements Certain statements in this release constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. federal securities laws intended to qualify for the safe harbor from liability established by the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. All statements other than statements of historical facts contained in this release, including, without limitation, those regarding our business strategy, future itineraries, plans, prospects and objectives of management for future operations, are forward-looking statements. Many, but not all, of these statements can be found by looking for words like "expect," "anticipate," "goal," "project," "plan," "believe," "seek," "will," "may," "intend," "future," and similar words. Forward-looking statements do not guarantee future performance and may involve risks, uncertainties and other factors which could cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from the future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied in those forward-looking statements. Examples of these risks, uncertainties and other factors include, but are not limited to the impact of: adverse general economic and related factors, such as fluctuating or increasing levels of unemployment, underemployment and the volatility of fuel prices, declines in the securities and real estate markets, and perceptions of these conditions that decrease the level of disposable income of consumers or consumer confidence; the risks and increased costs associated with operating internationally; an impairment of our tradenames or goodwill which could adversely affect our financial condition and operating results; our efforts to expand our business into new markets; adverse events impacting the security of travel, such as terrorist acts, acts of piracy, armed conflict and threats thereof and other international events; breaches in data security or other disturbances to our information technology and other networks; the spread of epidemics and viral outbreaks; adverse incidents involving cruise ships; changes in fuel prices and/or other cruise operating costs; and other factors set forth under "Risk Factors" in our most recently filed Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q and subsequent filings by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The above examples are not exhaustive and new risks emerge from time to time. Such forward-looking statements are based on our current beliefs, assumptions, expectations, estimates and projections regarding our present and future business strategies and the environment in which we will operate in the future. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date made. We expressly disclaim any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statement contained herein to reflect any change in our expectations with regard thereto or any change of events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement was based, except as required by law.


News Article | February 21, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

LONDRES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--L'unité de recherche sur les mammifères marins (Sea Mammal Research Unit, SMRU) de l'Université de St Andrews développe des marqueurs télémétriques intelligents équipés de la technologie Narrow Band-IoT (NB-IoT) pour suivre et surveiller le mouvement des phoques communs, et pour effectuer des recherches sur leur population en déclin. Le NB-IoT est une technologie LPWA (faible consommation, longue portée) qui a été normalisée par l'Initiative Mobile IoT de la GSMA et qui jouera un rôle fondamental dans l'émergence de « l'Internet des mers" en collectant des données qui contribueront à surveiller le changement climatique. Les nouveaux capteurs en cours de développement par la SMRU seront fixés aux phoques sans la moindre douleur afin d'obtenir des données détaillées sur le comportement des animaux, comme leur emplacement et la profondeur de leurs plongées, ainsi que la température, la salinité, mais aussi les sons sous-marins. Les dispositifs à faible consommation et les réseaux dans un spectre dédié améliorent grandement le suivi de la faune grâce à des marqueurs de suivi plus efficaces, plus petits et moins intrusifs. « La GSMA soutient les Objectifs de développement durable des Nations Unies en cherchant comment la technologie mobile peut être utilisée pour obtenir des informations vitales et soutenir les projets de préservation de la faune dans le monde entier, et pour protéger les océans, les mers et les espèces vivant dans leurs milieux », explique Alex Sinclair, responsable de la technologie à la GSMA. « Le rapprochement entre les technologies IoT mobiles et les projets de préservation internationaux comme celui-ci donne lieu à des initiatives à la fois prometteuses, souples et efficaces et jouera un rôle fondamental pour avoir des océans en bonne santé et prospères. » La technologie NB-IoT peut également être utilisée pour soutenir le Système mondial d'observation de l'océan (GOOS), un programme de l'UNESCO qui coordonne les données des océans à l'échelle mondiale en provenance de divers organes de gouvernance. La NB-IoT peut aider à surveiller le changement climatique par le biais de capteurs à faible consommation et de canaux de relais de données qui collectent des informations sur la température et la salinité des océans. Regroupées et normalisées avec les données d'autres systèmes de monitoring marin, les données obtenues grâce à la technologie NB-IoT fourniront aux scientifiques et aux océanographes des informations précises sur les océans de la planète. Le suivi d'animaux à l'aide de marqueurs intelligents peut également aider les scientifiques à utiliser leurs capacités en matière de mobilité et de plongée pour explorer des zones océaniques éloignées et profondes. « La technologie NB-IoT est le futur de nos recherches et nous permet de rebondir sur le succès rencontré par nos précédents travaux utilisant la technologie M2M et de collecter des données bien plus détaillées d'une manière bien plus efficace », déclare Dr Bernie McConnell, Sea Mammal Research Unit, Université de St Andrews. « De nombreuses espèces, aussi bien marines qu'aquatiques, sont menacées. La NB-IoT répond à tous les critères pour être un vecteur mondial d'informations sur les animaux, qui fournira des données cruciales pour informer et pour soutenir la préservation de la faune aux quatre coins du monde. » La SMRU a été contactée par le Gouvernement écossais pour étudier pourquoi la population des phoques sur la côte est de l'Écosse et dans les Îles nordiques connaît un sérieux déclin (diminution de 70 pour cent au cours des dix dernières années). L'habitat naturel des animaux dans le monde est touché par le changement climatique, qui perturbe les chaînes alimentaires et la biodiversité. Les recherches sont en cours, mais les raisons possibles du déclin pourraient être la rareté de la nourriture, la maladie, les attaques de phoques gris, la prédation des épaulards, et l'empoisonnement à cause des efflorescences algales nuisibles. Il sera essentiel de trouver où les phoques menacés se nourrissent en mer. Les réseaux LPWA sont un secteur à forte croissance de l'IoT, conçus pour des applications M2M qui ont de faibles débits de données, nécessitent des batteries longue durée et fonctionnent sans supervision pendant des périodes prolongées, bien souvent dans des zones reculées. Ils seront utilisés pour une grande variété d'applications, comme le suivi des actifs industriels, la surveillance de sécurité, le comptage d'eau et de gaz, les réseaux intelligents, le parking urbain, les distributeurs automatiques et l'éclairage urbain. L'Initiative de l'IoT mobile de la GSMA est destinée à accélérer la disponibilité commerciale des solutions LPWA dans un spectre sous licence. Ces normes sous licence permettent aux opérateurs d'optimiser leur infrastructure de réseau mobile existante grâce à une mise à niveau vers LTE-M pour les réseaux LTE, et la technologie NB-IoT peut aussi bien utiliser les spectres 2G que 4G. L'initiative est actuellement soutenue par 30 des plus grands opérateurs mobiles mondiaux, équipementiers, sociétés de chipset, de modules et d'infrastructure. L'Initiative de l'IoT mobile de la GSMA soutient l'industrie grâce à de nombreux projets pilotes à l'échelle mondiale avec des solutions commerciales exhaustives attendues sur le marché dans le courant de l'année. Lors du Mobile World Congress à Barcelone, le programme Vivre connectés de la GSMA accueillera le Sommet international de l'IoT mobile de la GSMA, avec des experts de l'industrie le dimanche 26 février de 13h00 à 17h30. La session examinera comment les acteurs de l'industrie travaillent ensemble pour réaliser le plein potentiel de l'IoT mobile. Une autre session intitulée « Mobile IoT (LPWA) – Open for Business » se déroulera le mercredi 1er mars de 13h30 à 15h30 et permettra d'en savoir plus sur les derniers déploiements, lancements et projets pilotes commerciaux. Diverses démonstrations de la technologie LPWA seront aussi faites dans la Ville de l'Innovation de la GSMA, située dans le Hall 4 à la Fira Gran Via. Pour plus d'informations, veuillez visiter www.gsma.com/connectedliving/event/mobile-world-congress-2017/ ou téléchargez le guide IoT - Vivre connectés du MWC 2017: La GSMA représente les intérêts des opérateurs de téléphonie mobile dans le monde entier. Elle réunit près de 800 opérateurs et 300 sociétés appartenant à l'écosystème mobile élargi, dont des fabricants de téléphones et de dispositifs, des éditeurs de logiciels, des fournisseurs d’équipements, des fournisseurs de services Internet ainsi que des organismes actifs dans les secteurs connexes. La GSMA organise également les plus grands événements du marché, tels le Mobile World Congress, le Mobile World Congress Shanghai, le Mobile World Congress Americas et les conférences Mobile 360 Series. SMRU (http://www.smru.st-andrews.ac.uk/ @_SMRU_) est un département de l'École de biologie de l'Université de St Andrews, en Écosse. Son personnel et ses étudiants réalisent tout un éventail d'études fondamentales et appliquées dans les domaines de la biologie, de l'écologie, de la physiologie et du comportement des mammifères marins, dans le monde entier. Ses activités centrales sont financées par le Natural Environment Research Council (http://www.nerc.ac.uk/) Avec plus de 40 membres du personnel et étudiants, la SMRU représente une concentration formidable d'expertise et de talent dans l'étude des mammifères marins et, plus généralement, dans l'écologie marine. En reconnaissance du rôle de leader mondial joué par notre équipe de chercheurs dans l'approfondissement de la compréhension et de la protection des océans, la SMRU a reçu le prix Queen’s Anniversary en 2011. Le groupe d'instrumentation de la SMRU (SMRU-IG) (http://www.smru.st-andrews.ac.uk/Instrumentation/Overview/) conçoit et construit une gamme de dispositifs électroniques se fixant aux animaux pour collecter, compresser et transmettre des données. Ces dispositifs sont utilisés par la SMRU et un grand nombre de clients et de collègues à l'échelle internationale. Le SMRU-IG est un groupe de recherche financé par la vente de marqueurs électroniques, avec un chiffre d'affaires annuel d'environ 1 million de livres sterling. Fondée au 15e siècle, St Andrews est la première université d'Écosse et la troisième plus ancienne dans le monde anglophone. L'enseignement a débuté dans la communauté de St Andrews sur la côte est de l'Écosse en 1410 et l'Université a été officiellement créée par la publication d'une bulle papale en 1413. L'Université est à présent l'un des plus grand site de recherche en Europe: plus du quart de son chiffre d'affaires provient de bourses et de contrats de recherche. St Andrews figure parmi les universités les mieux classées d'Europe pour la recherche, la qualité de l'enseignement et la satisfaction des étudiants, et se hisse constamment parmi les cinq meilleurs établissements britanniques dans les classements indépendants publiés par The Sunday Times, The Times, The Guardian et The Complete University Guide.


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A major new research programme will be launched today at the University of East Anglia (UEA) to help improve understanding about how adult learning can address inequalities in the poorest communities of the world. The university has been invited by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to join its prestigious University Network and establish the first UNESCO Chair in Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation. Led by Chairholder Anna Robinson-Pant, professor of education at UEA, the international collaboration with researchers in Nepal, Ethiopia and Egypt will focus in particular on women and young adults, investigating how or why adult literacy and learning programmes might better respond to processes of social transformation, including women's empowerment. The Chair programme aims to strengthen the interaction between formal, non-formal and informal learning in research, policy and programmes and will build directly on the expertise of the UEA Literacy and Development Group, which brings together researchers in education and international development from across the university. Today's launch will be opened by UEA Vice-Chancellor Prof David Richardson, with speakers including James Bridge, chief executive of the UK National Commission for UNESCO. The event will feature presentations by the UEA UNESCO Chair team, Prof Alan Smith (UNESCO Chairholder in Education for Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy, University of Ulster), Prof Mary Hamilton (University of Lancaster), Prof Gemma Moss (Institute of Education, University College London), Mari Hartl (International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD) and Mari Yasunaga (UNESCO Paris). Among the topics to be discussed at the launch will be indigenous women and adult literary, as well as a joint IFAD-UNESCO project on learning knowledge and skills for agriculture to improve rural livelihoods. Prof Robinson-Pant led the project, which prompted the initial proposal for a Chair in this area. This UNESCO Chair programme is a partnership with university departments specialising in adult literacy and community learning in Ethiopia (Bahir Dar University), Nepal (Kathmandu University and Tribhuvan University Research Center for Educational Innovation and Development, CERID) and Egypt (Ain Shams University). Prof Robinson-Pant recently visited Nepal to meet with colleagues at Kathmandu University, CERID, the Ministry of Education and key development agencies to discuss possible collaborative research projects around adult literacy and education and community learning. Prof Robinson-Pant said: "We are delighted to launch this programme today. Adult education can become a force for change in the poorest communities of the world and this is a real opportunity to work closely with colleagues in Ethiopia, Egypt and Nepal who share that view. "Our programme of collaborative research and training should also contribute to the 2030 sustainable development agenda, highlighting the central role of adult learning and literacy in areas like health and agricultural development." The chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Beth Taylor, said: "I am delighted to welcome the Chair in Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation to the UK's UNESCO Chairs Network. The Chair will join a well-established network of 16 UK UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks in diverse subjects ranging from Sustainable Mountain Development to Archaeological Ethics. Being accepted to the Network is in recognition of the University of East Anglia's academic excellence and the contribution of its research to UNESCO's core mission of promoting peace in the minds of men and women. "I hope that the designation will help provide a national and global platform for the Chair's research, and will add value for the university. Recent research by the UK National Commission found that UK Chairs generated an estimated £14.4 million in 2014/15 through their association with UNESCO." The UEA team consists of Prof Robinson-Pant, Prof Nitya Rao, Dr Sheila Aikman, Dr Catherine Jere, Prof Alan Rogers and Dr Spyros Themelis. The expertise of the group includes literacy and women's empowerment, migration and education, the influence of education on social and economic mobility, and cultural and linguistic change in low income countries. The aim of the Chair is to strengthen qualitative research capacity in the field of adult literacy, learning and social transformation through collaborative research and curriculum development activities. It also sets out to develop new initiatives with key policy organisations in this field - particularly the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg - the aim being to promote greater interaction between research and policy in areas such as vocational skill development, health and agriculture. A series of research workshops is proposed as part of the new Chair, as well as an international conference in 2018. The team also hope to work with organisations involved in adult education in Norwich - such as New Routes, an established NGO working with recently settled migrants - to inform some of the international activities.


News Article | February 22, 2017
Site: www.businesswire.com

CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Hyatt Hotels Corporation (NYSE: H) announced today the official opening of Hyatt Regency Andares Guadalajara, the fourth Hyatt Regency hotel in Mexico. With this hotel, the Hyatt Regency brand is marking its return to the city of Guadalajara as part of the mixed use Andares development, a successful luxury commercial complex. “We are very pleased with the opening of this new hotel and with the return of the Hyatt Regency brand to Guadalajara,” said Myles McGourty, senior vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, Hyatt. “Andares is a luxury commercial complex in the beautiful city of Guadalajara, which will nicely complement the globally-recognized Hyatt Regency brand and the excellent service and amenities offered by the hotel.” Hyatt Regency Andares Guadalajara has been designed to connect today’s travelers to who and what matters most. The hotel is located in Zapopan in the exclusive Andares shopping area, and provides direct access to recognized local and international attractions and endless entertainment options, including UNESCO world heritage site Hospicio Cabañas, Tlaquepaque and Tonala, Lake of Chapala, and Magical Towns (Pueblos Mágicos) of Tequila, Mazamitla and Tapalpa. Additionally, the hotel is located 20 minutes from Expo Guadalajara, a large-scale convention center, and less than 45 minutes from Guadalajara International Airport. “It is very exciting for everyone here at Hyatt Regency Andares Guadalajara to welcome our guests,” said Cesar Moreno, the hotel’s general manager. “This hotel has been thoughtfully designed to make guests feel welcome, comfortable and relaxed, so that they can socialize, connect and celebrate any occasion with us.” Hyatt Regency Andares Guadalajara features 257 guestrooms, including 25 suites that offer access to the hotel’s Regency Club lounge and exclusive benefits. Each offers high tech amenities and an eclectic decor with soft tones inspiring harmony, in addition to large windows overlooking the vibrant and energizing district of Zapopan. Elegant touches of local culture, such as blown glass, woven headboards, and organic amenities, complement the experience for guests. The gastronomic offerings at Hyatt Regency Andares Guadalajara focus on providing personalized experiences with the premise that each guest has different preferences, offering different national and international dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Cassola offers traditional Mexican dishes with a distinctly contemporary twist in an elegant, modern setting. The chef’s interpretation of local cuisine is presented and decorated in a fun and innovative style. Cassola also offers an exclusive private dining room, ideal for corporate or social events. Its intimate atmosphere and elevated cuisine by Chef de Cuisine Jonathan Felix make Cassola the best kept secret of Zapopan. Andares Lounge provides light snacks and signature cocktails, including a great variety of tequilas and distilled drinks honoring the region. The terrace facing the Andares shopping center will be an ideal place to see and be seen. Whether it be between city tours or business meetings, the indoor pool at the Hyatt Regency Andares Guadalajara boasts abundant natural light and views overlooking the Andares complex, making it a perfect place to relax, cool off or swim. Hyatt Regency Andares Guadalajara features a 24-hour StayFit™ fitness center so guests can maintain their fitness routine while on the road. Choose from state-of-the-art exercise machines or strength training equipment within our convenient facilities. Hyatt Regency Andares Guadalajara offers more than 18,675 square feet (1,735 square meters) of event space, including a magnificent 7,900-square-foot (734-square-meter) ballroom, making it the perfect venue for a variety of events such as weddings, social banquets, exhibitions, meetings, and conferences. Each of the 10 event spaces is equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The hotel’s event coordinators are available to meet all the expectations of guests and help them choose from luxurious interior spaces to outdoor terraces. For more information, please visit hyattregencyandaresguadalajara.com. For career opportunities at Hyatt Regency Andares Guadalajara, please visit hyatt.jobs. The term “Hyatt” is used in this release for convenience to refer to Hyatt Hotels Corporation and/or one or more of its affiliates. The Hyatt Regency brand prides itself on connecting travelers to who and what matters most to them. More than 175 conveniently located Hyatt Regency urban and resort locations in over 30 countries around the world serve as the go-to gathering space for every occasion – from efficient business meetings to memorable family vacations. The brand offers a one-stop experience that puts everything guests need right at their fingertips. Hyatt Regency hotels and resorts offer a full range of services and amenities, including the space to work, engage or relax; notable culinary experiences; technology-enabled ways to collaborate; and expert event planners who can take care of every detail. For more information, please visit hyattregency.com. Follow @HyattRegency on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and tag photos with #AtHyattRegency. Hyatt Hotels Corporation, headquartered in Chicago, is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 13 premier brands. As of December 31, 2016, the Company's portfolio included 698 properties in 56 countries. The Company's purpose to care for people so they can be their best informs its business decisions and growth strategy and is intended to create value for shareholders, build relationships with guests and attract the best colleagues in the industry. The Company's subsidiaries develop, own, operate, manage, franchise, license or provide services to hotels, resorts, branded residences and vacation ownership properties, including under the Park Hyatt®, Miraval®, Grand Hyatt®, Hyatt Regency®, Hyatt®, Andaz®, Hyatt Centric®, The Unbound Collection by Hyatt™, Hyatt Place®, Hyatt House®, Hyatt Ziva™, Hyatt Zilara™ and Hyatt Residence Club® brand names and have locations on six continents. For more information, please visit hyatt.com.


News Article | March 3, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

FILE -This file image posted online on Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, by the Aamaq News Agency, a media arm of the Islamic State group, purports to show a general view of the ancient ruins of the city of Palmyra, in Homs province, Syria, with the Citadel of Palmyra in the background. Syrian state media said on Thursday, March 2, 2017 that military forces have entered Palmyra in the quest to again take the town from the Islamic State group. Palmyra, home to some of the world's most prized Roman ruins, was seized again by IS in December. (Amaq News Agency via AP, File) BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian government forces battling the Islamic State group re-entered Palmyra on Thursday in their quest to again take the historic town they had lost to the militants in December, state media reported. The SANA news agency reported that government troops entered the town's archaeological site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, around mid-day, then the town itself, as IS militants fled the area. The Syrian government's push has relied on the support from Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group and Russian air cover, according to Hezbollah's media outlets. IS defenses had begun to crumble on Sunday, with the government troops reaching the town's outskirts on Tuesday. Activist-run Palmyra News Network said the advancing forces pounded the desert town — famed for its ancient Roman monuments and grand stone theater — with artillery and airstrikes during the day. This is the government's second campaign to retake the desert town. It seized Palmyra from Islamic State militants last March only to lose it again 10 months later. Before the civil war gripped Syria in 2011, Palmyra was a top tourist attraction, drawing tens of thousands of visitors each year. The town, according to Mohammed Homsi, the director of the activist-run Palmyra News Network, is almost entirely deserted. Islamic State fighters reportedly evacuated the last of their relatives on Sunday, he said. Archeologists have decried what they say is extensive damage to its ruins. For more news videos visit Yahoo View, available now on iOS and Android. Drone footage released by Russia's Defense Ministry earlier this month showed new damage to the facade of Palmyra's Roman-era theater and the adjoining Tetrapylon — a set of four monuments with four columns each at the center of the colonnaded road leading to the theater. A 2014 report by a U.N. research agency disclosed satellite evidence of looting while the ruins were under Syrian military control. Opposition factions have also admitted to looting the antiquities for funds. The IS group has twice used the town's Roman theater as a stage for mass killings, most recently in January, when they shot and beheaded a number of captives they said had tried to escape their December advance. Other IS killings were said to have taken place in the courtyard of the Palmyra museum and in a former Russian base in the town. The developments in Palmyra came against the backdrop of Syrian peace talks which are underway in Geneva but without any tangible breakthroughs so far. Diplomats and negotiators have set their sights on modest achievements in the latest round of negotiations, after a week of discussions centering on setting an agenda for future talks. On Thursday, U.N. Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura is due for another round of meetings with both the government delegation and opposition groups. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told reporters Wednesday that "the parties have agreed to ... discuss all issues in a parallel way, on several tracks." After a Damascus request, the issue of terrorism is also on the table, he had said. Russia is a key sponsor of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government in Damascus. A top Syrian opposition negotiator, Nasr al-Hariri, said the talks would likely culminate in a closing ceremony on Friday and the parties may be back in Geneva for further discussions in a few weeks. Setting the agenda and strategy to guide discussions has proven difficult as the main conflicting parties dig in their heels over form and semantics. In Turkey, the country's foreign minister said that with the completion of an operation to retake the IS-held town of al-Bab in northern Syria, Turkish troops will head to the Syrian town of Manbij next, to oust U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces that Ankara views as terrorists and a threat to Turkey. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday that Turkey would not shy away from attacking the Kurdish group that dominates the Syria Democratic Forces, which captured Manbij last year after weeks of deadly fighting with IS. He renewed calls for the new U.S. administration not to support the Kurdish forces. Cavusoglu stressed that an operation to take Manbij had not started yet, but acknowledged that skirmishes between Turkish-backed forces and the Kurdish fighters may have occurred.


News Article | February 15, 2017
Site: www.nature.com

A museum show of sumptuous treasures from a ninth-century shipwreck is being denounced by researchers, who say that commercial salvage of the artefacts irreversibly damaged the wreck’s scientific value. On 6 February, the Advisory Council on Underwater Archaeology sent a letter of opposition to the Asia Society, the non-profit group that is mounting the show of Chinese Tang-dynasty porcelains, gold vessels and other objects from the wreck at its New York City museum. Critics fear that the exhibition, slated to open on 7 March, will encourage exploitation of wrecks by for-profit firms. Museums that show salvaged treasures don’t intend to promote treasure-hunting, “but that’s the effect it has”, says Marco Meniketti, an archaeologist at San José State University in California who leads the advisory council. Artefacts from the Belitung wreck, named after the Indonesian island close to the ship’s final resting spot, were scheduled to go on display at the Smithsonian Institution's Sackler Gallery in Washington DC in 2012. The institution cancelled the exhibition in December 2011 after vocal opposition from Smithsonian scientists and others. But the problems presented by exhibiting the spoils of commercial salvage remain, says maritime archaeologist Filipe Castro at Texas A&M University in College Station. That type of excavation “silences all the questions that a vessel like that could answer”, he says, reeling off a list of data that should have been collected at the Belitung site. In a statement, the Asia Society said that “American audiences should have an opportunity to see this material because of its significance”. In recognition of “the sensitivities” around the exhibition, the society is co-sponsoring a public symposium about the ethics of archaeology and commercial salvage. And the head of Seabed Explorations, the company that salvaged the wreck, defended his team’s work. “Without Seabed Explorations there wouldn’t be any data existing at all about the Belitung shipwreck,” says Tilman Walterfang. With 17,000 islands and a location central to maritime trade, Indonesia is rich in shipwrecks. But it is less endowed with resources to protect and study them. After fishermen found the Belitung wreck nearly 20 years ago, looters began to circle the site. Seabed Explorations of Nelson, New Zealand, received a contract to excavate the wreck after the Indonesian government granted a cargo-recovery license. Seabed staff discovered a spectacular hoard on a Middle Eastern ship bound for an empire that included present-day Iran and Iraq. The wreck confirms that sea-based commerce between China and West Asia was thriving more than a millennium ago. Workers recovered some 60,000 artefacts during field seasons in 1998 and 1999. In 2005, a subsidiary corporation set up by the government of Singapore purchased the cargo for US$32 million. The artefacts now belong to Singapore’s Asian Civilisations Museum. Archaeologists tracking the Belitung objects point to a 2001 convention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which states that “underwater cultural heritage shall not be traded, sold, bought or bartered as commercial goods”. Such commerce results in the destruction of archaeological sites, says Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, an archaeologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and president of the Society for American Archaeology, which opposes the New York show. (Indonesia, Singapore and the United States are not parties to the UNESCO convention, which calls for sanctions against violators.) Researchers also say that when salvage companies control a site, they have an incentive to focus on eye-catching treasures instead of scientifically valuable items such as potsherds, which can be easily overlooked. The New York show is “creating a precedent for continued destruction of sites”, says maritime archaeologist Jeremy Green at the Western Australian Museum in Fremantle, near Perth. Officials from Seabed acknowledge that a good portion of the artefacts were salvaged without precise documentation, but they say that the Indonesian government’s demands and the threat of looting required them to do the first round of fieldwork in haste. Moreover, Walterfang says, political instability made it difficult to recruit archaeologists to work on the first round of excavation. During the second round, however, the locations of objects were precisely recorded, says Michael Flecker, who oversaw the second field season for Seabed and is now a maritime archaeologist at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute of Singapore. That fieldwork quickly led to a paper about the ship in a peer-reviewed journal1. But removing so many objects from the wreck without full knowledge of their original positions means that much of the ship’s scientific potential will never be realized, says maritime archaeologist Elizabeth Greene of Brock University in St Catharines, Canada. “The project is described as one of the most important archaeological revelations of the twentieth century. It’s not,” she says. “It’s perhaps one of the most important sabotaged treasures of the twentieth century.” When the Smithsonian cancelled its show in 2011, museum officials said that they would pursue further excavation of the Belitung site. But Flecker says that when he saw the wreck in 2013, “the entire hull had been ripped apart” by looters. Even if the Smithsonian had been given permission to excavate, “there would have been nothing left to record”.


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News Article | February 20, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Michelin. The name has become synonymous with fine dining (and tires). And if a recent mix-up is any indication, it still exerts tremendous pull for gourmands near and far. Last week, Bouche à Oreille, a café in Bourges, central France, found itself suddenly in possession of a Michelin star. The eatery, which serves hearty dishes of beef bourguignon and lasagna to its clientele of locals, was taken aback by the arrival of swarms of new visitors. “Suddenly, we were rushed off our feet,” café owner Véronique Jacquet told The Telegraph. “Reporters were coming in … I had regulars and friends phoning up and asking why I hadn’t told them we’d won a Michelin star.” But the star, it turned out, had actually been intended for a different Bouche à Oreille – an upscale Paris restaurant that offers dishes like calf’s head and lobster flan. Thanks to their identical names, and eerily similar street addresses, the Michelin website had listed the Bourges café on its website by mistake. (The error did not appear in the print Michelin guide or on the mobile app.) In the two days it took to correct the mistake, diners from near and far had flocked to Bourges. Though the two proprietors took the mixup in stride, reportedly sharing their amusement in a phone call, the Michelin ratings are no laughing matter for many chefs and foodies. That’s particularly true in France, where brothers André and Edouard Michelin founded the guide in 1900. Originally intended for motorists, it became a gourmand’s Bible, making Michelin stars a holy grail of sorts for aspiring top chefs. As the case of Bouche à Oreille demonstrated, a star can make a tremendous difference to an establishment’s popularity. “When you get your first star, your second star, your third star, your life changes, your customer base changes,” Michael Ellis, the international director of Michelin guides, told Vanity Fair in 2015. Michelin ratings focus on food, but also take a restaurant’s atmosphere into account. With that in mind, some French chefs concerned about maintaining their ratings have begun to crack down on the phenomenon of photographing restaurant food. Heavy social media use, they told The Christian Science Monitor, negatively impacts the ambiance and interferes with the traditional French dining experience, which UNESCO in 2010 named one of the intangibles of world cultural heritage. Recommended: 14 great books for foodies, recommended by the James Beard Foundation The photos themselves may also sway critics – and not for the better, chefs worry. “The photos are not professional, have terrible lighting, and make the food look bad,” François Pasteau, chef at Epi Dupin, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris, told the Monitor. “They go onto the Internet and stay there forever. This can contribute to a poor critique of the restaurant.” Though gourmet remains the name of the game in France, American influence is growing. On the streets of Paris, chefs prepare everything from burgers to artisanal tacos. Tastes are changing in restaurants, too, Monitor correspondent Sara Miller Llana observed in 2014: The evolution has raised the question: Can Michelin keep up? To critics, Michelin’s army of full-time anonymous testers place too much emphasis on consistency and traditional French presentation, which they complain can lead to staid predictability. “It’s basically robotic cuisine; they cannot afford to change, because that was the winning formula,” chef Daniel Boulud told Vanity Fair. His restaurant, Daniel, lost one of its 3 stars in 2014 for a perceived lack of consistency. “Emotionally, I’m going to want to cook something else than what I’ve done.” Bourges’ Bouche à Oreille may never win a star in its own right. But heart – which Penelope Salmon, the café’s cook, identified as the key to her dishes – may play a growing role in Michelin’s formula. In 2016, the Michelin guide awarded a star to two Singaporean street food stalls, where a meal costs around $2. “In terms of the quality of the ingredients, in terms of the flavors, in terms of the cooking techniques, in terms of just the general emotions, that they are able to put in their dishes ... that is something that I think is really unique to Singapore,” Mr. Ellis said, according to PRI. Become a part of the Monitor community


News Article | March 1, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

Members of the civil defense rescue children after what activists said was an air strike by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo. REUTERS/Sultan Kitaz GENEVA(Reuters) - Syrian government aircraft deliberately bombed and strafed a humanitarian convoy, killing 14 aid workers and halting relief operations, U.N. investigators said on Wednesday in a report identifying war crimes committed by both sides in Syria's war. Syrian and Russian forces conducted daily air strikes on rebel-held eastern Aleppo between July and its fall on December 22, killing hundreds and destroying hospitals, they said. Orphanages, schools and homes were "all but obliterated", panel chairman Paulo Pinheiro told a news conference. Opposition groups shelled government-controlled western Aleppo, killing and injuring dozens, the report said. They prevented civilians from fleeing besieged eastern Aleppo, using them as human shields - a war crime. "The scale of what happened in Aleppo is unprecedented in the Syrian conflict. Much of Aleppo, once Syria's biggest city and its commercial and culture center and a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been reduced to rubble," Pinheiro said. He called for ensuring that "those responsible for this ruinous situation one day are brought to justice". His team was ready to share its confidential list of suspected war criminals on all sides with a new U.N. body on Syria being set up in Geneva to prepare criminal prosecutions. "It cannot pass without having this step toward justice, because of the great numbers of victims," panel member Carla del Ponte said. "What we have seen here in Syria, I never saw that in Rwanda, or in former Yugoslavia, in the Balkans. It is really a big tragedy," she added. "Unfortunately we have no tribunal." Cluster munitions were "pervasively used" and air-dropped into densely populated areas, the report said, amounting to the war crime of indiscriminate attacks. "We have established very clearly in the report that the Syrian air force is responsible for these attacks, we don't have any evidence linking Russia to those attacks with forbidden chemical weapons," Pinheiro said. The investigators also did not attribute any specific war crime investigated to Russian forces but Pinheiro said they would to assign responsibility "if and when we can prove it". The U.N. Commission of Inquiry's report - released as Syrian peace talks continue in Geneva - covers the July-December period and is based on 291 interviews with victims and witnesses, as well as analysis of forensic evidence and satellite imagery. Syrian helicopters unleashed toxic chlorine bombs "throughout 2016" on Aleppo, a weapon that caused hundreds of civilian casualties there, it said. At least 5,000 pro-government forces had encircled eastern Aleppo in a "surrender or starve" tactic. Thousands of civilians had to leave the city under an evacuation agreement between the warring parties that amounted to the war crime of forced displacements, it said. "This represents - and we have said this in the past - a worrying pattern that has occurred in other areas of the country including Deraa and Moadamiya," Pinheiro said. The investigators accused the Syrian government of a "meticulously planned and ruthlessly carried out" air strike on a U.N. and Syrian Red Crescent convoy at Orum al-Kubra, in rural western Aleppo on Sept. 19 that killed 14 aid workers. At the time, the Syrian army and Russia denied responsibility for the attack. A previous U.N. inquiry had been unable to determine who conducted the strike. "By using air-delivered munitions with the knowledge that humanitarian workers were operating in the location, Syrian forces committed the war crimes of deliberately attacking humanitarian relief personnel, denial of humanitarian aid, and attacking civilians," the report said.


News Article | March 2, 2017
Site: news.yahoo.com

FILE PHOTO: Syrian army soldiers stand on the ruins of the Temple of Bel in the historic city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate, Syria April 1, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki/File Photo BEIRUT (Reuters) - Russian-backed Syrian government forces and their allies fought their way into Palmyra on Wednesday, driving back Islamic State militants who have held the historic city since December, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported. A Hezbollah-run media outlet earlier reported that the Syrian army and its allies had recaptured the Palmyra citadel, on the city's western outskirts, and seized a modern palatial complex to the southwest. Islamic State has captured Palmyra, whose ancient ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, twice during Syria's six-year conflict. The army recaptured the city from the ultra-hardline group in March last year, but Islamic State seized it again in December. The group has razed ancient monuments during both of its spells in control of Palmyra - destruction the United Nations has condemned as a war crime. A Syrian military source told Reuters earlier on Wednesday: "The army's entry to the city will begin very soon." The army said it had captured an area known as the "Palmyra triangle" a few kilometers (miles) west of the city after rapid advances in recent days backed by Russian air strikes. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based organization that reports on the war, said government forces were expected to storm Palmyra at "any moment". Russia has said its aircraft are supporting the army offensive in Palmyra. Photos published on an Islamic State Telegram account on Wednesday showed the group's fighters firing at the Syrian army with rockets and a tank. Reuters could not verify the authenticity of the photos. Islamic State first captured Palmyra from the government in 2015. During its first period in control of the site, the jihadists destroyed monuments including a 1,800-year-old monumental arch. Most recently, Islamic State has razed the landmark Tetrapylon - a platform with four columns at each corner - and the facade of Palmyra's Roman Theatre. Palmyra, known in Arabic as Tadmur, stood at the crossroads of the ancient world. The government and its allies lost Palmyra as they focused on defeating Syrian rebel groups in eastern Aleppo. The rebel groups were driven from eastern Aleppo in December, the government's biggest victory of the war.

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