Pompeii restoration unearths ‘surprise’ treasures

Pompeii restoration unearths ‘surprise’ treasures

Pompeii (Italy) (AFP) – Vivid frescoes and never-before-seen inscriptions were among the treasures unearthed in a massive years-long restoration of the world-famous archeological site Pompeii that came to a close Tuesday. The painstaking project saw an army of workers reinforce walls, repair collapsing structures and excavate untouched areas of the sprawling site, Italy’s second most visited tourist destination after Rome’s Colosseum.New discoveries were made too, in areas of the ruins not yet explored by modern-day archaeologists at the site — frequently pillaged for jewels and artefacts ove… (more…)

‘Tiger widows’ shunned as bad luck in rural Bangladesh

‘Tiger widows’ shunned as bad luck in rural Bangladesh

Shyamnagar (Bangladesh) (AFP) – Abandoned by her sons, shunned by her neighbours and branded a witch.  Mosammat Rashida’s crime? Her husband was killed by a Bengal tiger. Women like her are ostracised in many rural villages in Bangladesh, where they are viewed as the cause of their partner’s misfortune. “My sons have told me that I am an unlucky witch,” she told AFP in her flimsy plank home, in the honey-hunters’ village of Gabura at the edge of the Sundarbans — a 10,000-square-kilometre (3,860-square-mile) mangrove forest that straddles Bangladesh and India.Her husband died while out collect… (more…)

Unchained melody: Traditional music revived as security improves

Unchained melody: Traditional music revived as security improves

Peshawar (Pakistan) (AFP) – For years the distinctive twang of Pashtun music was drowned out by rattling gunfire and deafening explosions as musicians in Pakistan’s northwest were targeted by militants. But, as security improves, a centuries-old tribal tradition is staging a comeback.Performances that once took place in secret are returning. Shops selling instruments are open and thriving again, while local broadcasters frequently feature rising Pashto pop singers in their programming. And new, up and coming bands like Peshawar’s Khumariyaan have reached rare, nationwide acclaim after appearin… (more…)

Why is Hong Kong full of white elephant monuments and what can we do about them?

Why is Hong Kong full of white elephant monuments and what can we do about them?

By Eric WongThe landslide loss of seats by the so-called “loyalist” district councillors in November’s District Council Elections was followed by queries over whether they have faithfully served the community over the years while in power. One of the areas most criticised by the incoming councillors, and indeed the electors at large, has been how too many white elephant monuments have been erected during their rule. These objects seemed to publicise the names of these outgoing councillors and their pals in the government whilst serving dubious, if non-existent, benefits to the district at larg… (more…)

Ancient “ghost” DNA identified in living humans

Ancient “ghost” DNA identified in living humans

Ancient human fossilsare often found in Africa, but ancient human DNA is scarce.Intense heat and humidity destroy DNA, so ancient fossil DNA is rarely found on the continenthumans came from. But in a new study, researchers reveal that the genomes of living West Africans may hold clues to a mysterious, ancient hominin — a “ghost” human species that currently can’t be identified.The data add another layer of complexity to the story of human history. They also add to our growing understanding of which ancient human species’ genetic signatures remain in present-day African genes — just as modern-d… (more…)

How Oscar-winner ‘Parasite’ reveals gold spoon and dirt spoon class divide in South Korea

How Oscar-winner ‘Parasite’ reveals gold spoon and dirt spoon class divide in South Korea

The invisible, indelible boundary drawn by smell depicts the severe inequality in South Korea through two families in the Oscar-winning film “Parasite.” But the movie dives more into the country’s social problems, running deep and wide.The South Korean film won big Sunday at the 92nd Academy Awards, including becoming the first non-English language film to win best picture. Bong Joon-ho, who won best director and best original screenplay, became the first Korean filmmaker to win those prizes. Fans were jubilant on Twitter and Instagram.“Parasite” stunned the audience with an adrenaline-inducin… (more…)