Celebrating the Baptism of Christ, every January 19th (January 20 during leap year), Timkat is the greatest colorful festival of Orthodox Christians in Eritrea. It celebrates the Baptism of Christ in the River Jordan by John the Baptist. Timkat is a three-day affair and all the ceremonies are conducted with great pomp. The eve of Timket is called Ketera. This is when the Tabots of each church are carried out in procession to a river or pool of water where the next day’s celebration will take place. A special tent is set up where each Tabot rests as members of the church choirs chant hymns. This is accompanied by a special dance by the priests with their prayer sticks and sistera, the beating of drums, ringing of bells, and blowing of trumpets.
The Tabot symbolizes the Ark of the Covenant and the tablets of the Law, which Moses received on Mount Sinai. It is the Tabot rather than the church building, which is consecrated, and it is accorded extreme reverence. When the Tabot is carried out, it is wrapped in brocade or velvet “like the mantle of Christ” and carried on the head of a priest with colorful ceremonial umbrellas shading it. The priests pray through out the cold night and mass is performed about 2:00 am the next day. Near dawn the people go to the water and attend the prayers. After the prayer, a senior priest uses a golden processional cross to bless the water and extinguishes a burning consecrated candle in the water. Then he sprinkles the water on the assembled congregation in commemoration of Christ’s baptism. Many of the more fervent leap fully dressed into the water to renew their vows.
After the baptism, the Tabots of each church, start their way back to their respective churches. The elders march solemnly, accompanied by singing, leaping priests and young men, the beating of staffs and prayer sticks recalling the ancient rites of the Old Testament (11 Sam.Chap.6)
Islamist militant group Boko Haram has said it was behind Monday’s twin suicide bombing at a university in north eastern Nigeria which killed two people.
A video featuring an audio recording purporting to be leader Abubakar Shekau was posted on social media late on Monday. Reuters was unable to verify if the voice was indeed his.
“The bomb that exploded on Monday morning, it’s our brothers responsible for it,” the recording said.
A professor at the University of Maiduguri and a child were killed and 17 people wounded in a twin suicide bombing, officials said on the day of the attack.
The group has stepped up attacks in the past few weeks as the end of the rainy season facilitates movements in the bush. Maiduguri is the provincial capital of northeast Nigeria’s Borno state and the epicenter of Boko Haram’s seven-year armed attempt to create a regional Islamic caliphate.
Boko Haram’s insurgency has killed about 15,000 people and displaced more than 2 million. In early 2015, the group controlled an area the size of Belgium but has been pushed out from most of territory by the Nigerian military with help from neighboring countries.
The group split in two last year, with one faction led by Shekau from the Sambisa forest and the other, allied to Islamic State and led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, based in the Lake Chad region.
(Reporting by Ardo Abdullahi in Bauchi and Ahmed Kingimi in Maiduguri; Writing by Paul Carsten; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)
7th Commencement of the Orotta School of Medicine and Dentistry
Asmara, 16 January 2017 – In its 7th Commencement the Orotta School of Medicine and Dentistry graduated 36 doctors on 14 January following 8 years of education in General Medicine.
The Minister of Health, Ms. Amina Nurhussein underlined that the institution is producing medical professionals equipped with specialized skills.
Pointing out that producing quality human resource in medical sector is part and parcel of the investment being made in the national reconstruction and development programs, Minister Amina reminded the graduates of the heavy responsibility that is awaiting them in delivering quality health services.
Dr. Haile Mihtsun, Dean of the Orotta School of Medicine and Dentistry on his part pointed out the speedy advancements observed in medical science has significant impact in the development of health services in the country. He further underlined that the graduates have passed the international standard examinations with great success.
Reaffirming commitment to serve the people with dedication, the graduates commended the exemplary role and support parents and instructors displayed during their 8 years of learning experience.
Established in 2004, the Orotta School of Medicine and Dentistry has to-date graduated 243 doctors in General Medicine and 20 in Dentistry.
Car salesman Andrew Hall suffered second-degree burns and lost seven teeth in the horrific incident.
The explosion happened on the weekend when Andrew was enjoying a few toots of electronic smoke while getting ready for work.
Andrew wrote on Facebook that he was vaping in his bathroom when his vape pen exploded. The blast was so powerful that it shattered his bathroom sink.
Posting from the hospital ICU ward, Andrew wrote that he’d been pulling chunks of plastic, teeth and foreign objects from his mouth, throat and lips.
Andrew said he had been vaping for about a year and had properly maintained the battery of his vape pen. He added that he’d never had an issue with overheating.
He said he wanted his experience to serve as a warning to others.
Real Madrid to Sign Alexander Isak
Real Madrid and AIK Solna agreed to pen 5-year deal for Alexander Isak
alexander isak to sign 5-year deal with Real Madrid
The new Zlatan. 17-year-old Swedish striker currently registered with AIK Solna to sign a deal with Real Madrid for the next five seasons.
Despite being under the restrictions of a transfer ban, Real Madrid continue to plan for the future with the signature of Alexander Isak, dubbed the new Zlatan, likely to come soon.
The 17-year-old Swedish striker is currently registered with AIK Solna, yet it is expected that in the next week he will commit to Los Blancos for the next five seasons.
Zinedine Zidane’s scouts at the club have been following the teenager’s development and performances for months stretching back to the summer, but it is only in recent days that negotiations have intensified.
An agreement has been reached with the Swedish club and the player and only finalising details remain.
Under the terms of the Spanish giants’ ban, the club can actually sign players, but they cannot be registered to any of the organisations teams within the current transfer window.
Real Madrid’s interest is little surprise given the promise the forward has shown, as it was just this week he became Sweden’s youngest ever goalscorer courtesy of a strike against Slovakia in a friendly.
He is powerful and physically domineering at 6ft 2in but also has a clever touch which leads to the comparisons with Manchester United’s current leading scorer.
Isak visited Valdebebas in November 2016 as a whole host of Europe’s elite clubs battled for his signature.
Bayern Munich, Juventus and Chelsea all made him offers yet it was the allure of Real Madrid which helped the Swede make up his mind and with Martin Odegaard in tow there are hopes of a bright future at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
Trump has promised to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem [aljazeera]
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has written to US President-elect Donald Trump telling him not to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to official Palestinian media reports.
Trump has said at various times that he plans to relocate the embassy, and last month chose David Friedman, a right-wing lawyer who has pledged to move the mission to Jerusalem, as his ambassador to Israel.
‘The settlers and the guards harass us and our children’
In an official letter, Abbas gave warning that such a move would have a “disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region”, Palestinian news agency Wafa said on Monday.
Wafa, which did not specify when the letter had been sent, said Abbas aimed to explain the “risks” of moving the embassy to Jerusalem.
Abbas also sent letters to other world powers, including Russia, China and the European Union, calling on them to “spare no effort” to prevent the US from making the move, Wafa said.
A potential relocation is severely opposed by Palestinians as a unilateral action while the status of the city remains contested.
Israel supports the move and has encouraged previous presidents to take similar steps to no avail.
The Palestinians regard Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, while Israel proclaims the entire city as its undivided capital.
The US and most UN member states do not recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the city’s status is one of the thorniest issues of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Last month Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s spokesperson, told a US radio station that moving the embassy was a “very big priority” for the president-elect.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967 and subsequently annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.
Furious Trump rejects Russian intelligence report claims as ‘witch hunt’
President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday furiously denied US media reports that Russian intelligence has deeply compromising personal and financial information about him.
Trump rejected the media reports as a “political witch hunt” after CNN said that intelligence officials briefing him last week on allegations of Russian meddling in the US election had also given him a two-page synopsis of the unverified claims.
“FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!” the president-elect tweeted.
“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” he added.
President Barack Obama was also briefed on the issue, CNN said.
Sex tapes, bribes and spies?
Several US media outlets published — without corroborating the contents — a 35-page dossier of memos on which the synopsis is based. This information had been circulating in Washington circles for months.
The memos describe sex videos involving prostitutes during a 2013 visit by Trump to a Moscow hotel. They also suggest Russian officials proposed lucrative deals in order to win influence over the real estate magnate.
CNN said the memos contained in the dossier were originally compiled by a former British MI-6 intelligence operative hired by other US presidential contenders to do political “opposition research” on Trump in the middle of last year.
Trump was reportedly informed of the existence of the dossier last Friday, when he received a briefing from US spy chiefs on alleged Russian interference in the presidential election.
The classified two-page synopsis also included allegations that there was a regular flow of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and Russian government intermediaries.
“If these allegations are true, allegations of coordination between Trump campaign officials and Russian intelligence officials, and allegations that the Russians have compromised President-elect Trump’s independence, that would be truly shocking,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons said on CNN.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation had been given the information in August, more than two months before the November 8 election, according to CNN.
Since then, CNN reported, US intelligence agencies have checked out the former British intelligence operative and his network, and found him credible enough to include some of the information in the presentation to Trump.
The existence of compromising information on Trump in Russian hands had been rumored since before the election.
The rumors gained support when then Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said in a letter to FBI Director James Comey a week before the vote: “It has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information.”
Comey was one of four top officials who briefed Trump on Friday, along with the heads of the Directorate of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.
Asked in a Senate hearing Tuesday about the allegations of sustained contacts between Russia and the Trump team, Comey refused to confirm or deny that his agency was investigating such links.
US intelligence has already made the accusation that Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to tip the electoral scales in Trump’s favor by ordering a hack of Democratic Party email servers.
The Russian project, intelligence concluded, aimed first to boost the campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton with embarrassing leaked emails, and then to boost Trump once they thought he had a chance to win.
Trump has repeatedly dismissed the conclusion that Moscow influenced the election, while calling for a push to mend bilateral relations deeply strained during the Obama presidency.
Russia dismisses ‘pulp fiction’
Responding to the reports Wednesday, Russia denied that it had gathered compromising information on Trump, saying the allegations were aimed at damaging Moscow’s relations with Washington.
“The Kremlin does not have compromising information on Trump,” Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told journalists.
He called the claims a “total fake” aimed at “keeping relations (with the United States) in a state of deterioration,” instead of becoming constructive.
He also denied allegations that the Kremlin gathered compromising information on Clinton, saying that “the Kremlin does not work on gathering compromising information”.
The Kremlin spokesman described the dossier as “pulp fiction,” adding that “undoubtedly you need to react to this with a degree of humour”.
He said it showed that “there are people whipping up hysteria in order to maintain this atmosphere of a witch hunt”.
India to launch over 100 satellites in single mission
India is planning to launch 103 satellites in February in a single mission, breaking the record currently held by Russia. Most of them are CubeSat nanosatellites measuring 10x10x11cm.
The record payload will be carried by India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Sriharikota spaceport, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.
“We are making a century by launching over 100 satellites at one go,” ISRO director S. Somnath told a science convention in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, according to the Press Trust of India.
The 100 nanosatellites are a secondary payload to the primary cargo of three Indian satellites, the 730kg Cartosat-2D, and two smaller satellites, INS-1A and INS-1B, weighing 10kg each. The CubeSat platform is popular for amateur and small-scale satellite projects. The standard model of the nanosatellite weighs less than 1.33 kg and measures 10x10x11.35cm.
ISRO had previously planned to launch 83 satellites.
A national record for the number of satellites launched in a single mission (20) was set last June.
The current world record for the most prolific payload is held by the June 2014 Russian launch of a Dnepr rocket, which carried 37 satellites and directly deployed 33, while delivering four to the ISS. Most of them were nanosatellites of various models, including CubeSats.
The largest number of satellites placed into orbit in a single mission came on board the ISS resupply freighter SpaceX CRS-3 in April 2014. On its way to the space station, the rocket deployed a triple-sized CubeSat container packed with 104 postcard-sized “femtosatellites.”
They were supposed to be deployed by spinning the CubeSat and sending short radio messages back to earth. But space radiation reset the deployment timer, ultimately resulting in mission failure. The KickSat project backed by crowdfunding is set to make a second attempt sometime in the near future.
Bluefin tuna sells for £500,000 at Japan auction amid overfishing concerns
Huge fish sells for 74m yen as conservationists call for moratorium to help stabilise plunging
Bluefin tuna auctioned for £517,000 at Tokyo market
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
A bluefin tuna has fetched 74.2m yen (£517,000) at the first auction of the year at Tsukiji market in Tokyo, amid warnings that decades of overfishing by Japan and other countries is taking the species to the brink of extinction.
The 212kg fish, caught off the coast of Oma in northern Japan, was bought by Kiyomura, the operator of the Sushi Zanmai restaurant chain, after its president, Kiyoshi Kimura, outbid rivals for the sixth year in a row.
The first auction of the year at Tsukiji always attracts high bids from restaurants hoping to turn the publicity associated with the event into a marketing opportunity. Kimura’s bid, which works out at 350,000 yen per kilogram, is the second highest since the market started keeping records in 1999. The 155.4m yen Kimura paid for a bluefin in 2013 is the highest bid ever recorded.
At the price he paid on Thursday, a single piece of fatty tuna sushi would cost about 25 times the 400 yen his dozens of restaurants usually charge for the same cut.
Kimura, whose bids have earned him the nickname “tuna king”, said the fish was “a bit expensive, but I am happy that I was able to successfully win at auction a tuna of good shape and size”.
Kimura added he was looking forward to serving it at his restaurants. “I want everyone to taste this delicious tuna,” he said as he posed with his prize bluefin.
A tuna displayed at Tsukiji wholesale fish market on Thursday during the first auction of 2017.
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A tuna displayed at Tsukiji wholesale fish market on Thursday during the first auction of 2017. Photograph: Aflo / Barcroft Images
Conservationists said the publicity surrounding the auction risked overshadowing the plight of the Pacific bluefin tuna. They have called for a two-year moratorium on fishing to rescue the Pacific bluefin population, which is estimated to have plummeted by 97% from its historic high due to decades of overfishing.
“People should be thinking about that when they see news about the auction,” Jamie Gibbon, officer for global tuna conservation at the Pew Charitable Trusts, told the Guardian.
Last month, 25 tuna-fishing nations plus the European Union agreed on the need for an urgent bluefin tuna recovery plan, but Japan is expected to resist drastic cuts in catch quotas or a moratorium to give stocks the opportunity to recover.
About 70% of Pacific bluefin are less than a year old when caught, according to Gibbon, and 95% are caught before they reach three years old – a practice that damages the species’ ability to reproduce.
The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission tightened international limits in 2015 as the species remained under threat, halving the catch of bluefin tuna under 30 kilograms from the average caught between 2002 and 2004.
“If fishing continues at its current rate, then Pacific bluefin stocks will fall to levels that are commercially unsustainable, but Japanese officials continue to say that catch reductions will place too big a burden on fishermen,” Gibbon said. “Short-term profits are being put ahead of long-term conservation.”
About 80% of the global bluefin catch is consumed in Japan, where it is commonly served raw as sashimi and sushi. A piece of otoro – a fatty cut from the fish’s underbelly – can cost several thousand yen at high-end restaurants in Tokyo.
The global popularity of Japanese food is fueling an appetite for bluefin in other countries, including China.
Thursday’s auction could be the last at Tsukiji, whose planned relocation to more spacious premises at the end of last year has been delayed by at least 12 month, and could be scrapped altogether. Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, delayed the move due to concerns over soil and air pollution at the new market, which stands on the former site of a gas plant.