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South Korea Nuclear Safety, NYPD Division, Freed Orangutan

Pakistani Christians in Lahore praying for the victims of the Peshawar school massacre.
Pakistani Christians in Lahore praying for the victims of the Peshawar school massacre.
Worldcrunch

Monday, December 22, 2014

SOUTH KOREA NUCLEAR PLANTS THREATENED
South Korea’s nuclear plant operator has launched a two-day drill to check the safety of the country’s four power plants after a hacker leaked non-critical data and threatened further leaks yesterday, news agency Yonhap reports. It’s unclear whether it was connected to North Korea and the Sony Pictures hacking.

North Korea, meanwhile, reacted angrily to accusations that it was behind the Sony hacking and to President Barack Obama’s vow to “respond proportionally” to it. A long statement published by the official Korean Central News Agency once more denied responsibility for the cyber attacks and threatened unspecified attacks against “the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland,” describing it as “the cesspool of terrorism.”

Commenting on the attacks and the movie The Interview, a Chinese official said the country condemned cyber attacks but that was no proof North Korea is to blame.

PAKISTAN RESUMES TERRORIST EXECUTIONS
Pakistan officials targeting Taliban militants have arrested five more people, including a key commander, Dawn reports. This comes after the country resumed executions of convicted terrorists by lifting a 2008 moratorium in the aftermath of last week’s massacre that killed 141 people, 132 of them children. Six people have already been hanged, but a senior government official told AFP this morning that Pakistan is planning to execute about 500 militants in the coming weeks.

POLICE MURDERS CREATE WIDER NY DIVISION
New details of the Saturday murders of two New York police officers indicate that the gunman told onlookers moments before the attack to “watch what I'm going to do,” the police department's chief of detectives, Robert Boyce, said. The shooter, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, had a lengthy rap sheet, with at least 19 arrests, and said on social media that the attack was in retaliation for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of the police. He turned the gun on himself moments after killing the policemen. “There is no more important job ahead for Mayor de Blasio than to lead and unite the city,” The New York Times wrote in an editorial. “He cannot allow it to fracture into opposing camps of those who support outraged protesters and those who stand with aggrieved cops. Never has his ‘one city’ promise been so urgently and so sorely tested.” Meanwhile, the president of the officers’ union accused City Hall of having “blood on their hands.”

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
As Die Welt’s Julia Friese writes, so-called “mermaiding” is now something very real for enchanted girls and women who can don tails and dive in. But some are better at it than others. “This is no time for second thoughts,” Friese writes. “So I keep that monofin going, sending water splashing everywhere, getting wetter and wetter. In the pool's aluminum-covered ceiling I can see blurry images of us mermaids. Pushing off with our hands from the pool rim, we plunge below water, colorful, graceful (in theory), our hair flowing. The fascination with mermaids — aside from the fact that they are half fish, half human — is that they are bewitchingly beautiful but unable to engage in any sort of heavy eroticism. They are teases personified.”
Read the full article, Yes, Mermaiding Is A Thing.

ISLAMIST ATTACKS RAISE FEAR IN FRANCE
Police officers shot and killed a 20-year-old man Saturday in the French town of Joué-lès-Tours after he attacked a police station with a large knife while shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”). Three police officers were injured, two of them seriously, but their lives are no longer in danger, La Nouvelle République reports. The man, a French national born in Burundi who recently converted to Islam before turning to radicalism, was known to the police for common law crimes but was not on the radar of French intelligence services. His Facebook page apparently displayed an Islamic State flag before the attack.

There was another attack Sunday evening in the city of Dijon when a man in his forties deliberately ran down pedestrians in his car, injuring 11 people, two seriously. Some witnesses say he also shouted “Allahu Akbar,” although others say they simply heard a shout. The man, said to be unbalanced and to have been placed in mental health hospitals, including very recently, was arrested after targeting pedestrians in five different parts of the city. His motives remain unclear for now, but a source told Le Monde he mentioned the “Islamic war” and the “children of Palestine.”

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD



SPANISH PRINCESS CRISTINA TO APPEAR IN COURT
Cristina de Borbon, the sister of Spain’s monarch Felipe VI, will stand trial for tax fraud as part of an investigation into her husband’s business dealings, El País reports. A former Olympic handball player, Inaki Urdangarin is accused of embezzling millions of euros in public funds through his non-profit organization. The pair have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. It will be the first time in the country’s history for a member of the royal family to face trial. Read more in English from the BBC.

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION DISPUTE IN TUNISIA
The two candidates in the second round of Tunisia’s first free presidential election have both claimed victory ahead of today’s release of official results, Le Monde reports. Beji Caid Essebsi and his secular alliance, which also won the country’s general election in October, announced his victory minutes after the polling stations closed. His opponent, incumbent President Moncef Marzouki, rejected the claim. On its front page, newspaper La Presse de Tunisie writes that yesterday’s vote was one for “pride, ambition and hope” as the country makes its last step towards full democracy four years after an uprising that ousted authoritarian leader Ben Ali and paved the way for the “Arab Spring”.

ORANGUTAN GRANTED BARE RIGHTS NECESSITIES
An Argentine court has ruled that a 20-year-old orangutan held in a zoo can be freed and transferred to a sanctuary, recognizing it as a “non-human person” with the right to freedom.

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Tour Of Istanbul's Ancient Yedikule Gardens, At Risk With Urban Restoration

The six-hectare gardens in the center of Istanbul, which are more than 1,500 years old, have helped feed the city's residents over the centuries and are connected with its religious history. But current city management has a restoration project that could disrupt a unique urban ecosystem.

Photo of Muslims performing Friday prayer in the garden of Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul.

Last March, Muslims performing Friday prayer in the garden of Suleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul.

Tolga Ildun via ZUMA Press Wire
Canan Coşkun

ISTANBUL — The historic urban gardens of Yedikule in Istanbul are at risk of destruction once again. After damage in 2013 caused by the neighborhood municipality of Fatih, the gardens are now facing further disruption and possible damage as the greater Istanbul municipality plans more "restoration" work.

The six-hectare gardens are more than 1,500 years old, dating back to the city's Byzantine era. They were first farmed by Greeks and Albanians, then people from the northern city of Kastamonu, near the Black Sea. Now, a wide variety of seasonal produce grows in the garden, including herbs, varieties of lettuce and other greens, red turnip, green onion, cabbage, cauliflower, tomato, pepper, corn, mullberry, fig and pomegranate.

Yedikule is unique among urban gardens around the world, says Cemal Kafadar, a historian and professor of Turkish Studies at Harvard University.

“There are (urban gardens) that are older than Istanbul gardens, such as those in Rome, but there is no other that has maintained continuity all this time with its techniques and specific craft," Kafadar says. "What makes Yedikule unique is that it still provides crops. You might have eaten (from these gardens) with or without knowing about it."

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