Large Mayan Pyramid Used to Make Gravel
A road-building company recently bulldozed the Noh Mul Mayan temple in Belize, turning the remains into gravel. According to Professor Normand Hammond, emeritus professor of archaeology, “bulldozing Maya mounds for road fill is an endemic problem in Belize.” But this pre-Colombian temple was first established around 350BCE and was one of the largest and most unique in the country. At one time Noh Mul occupied about 12 square miles of privately owned sugar cane fields, though all archeological treasures are owned and protected by the national government. Today only a small core of limestone cobblestones remain. “It’s a feeling of incredible disbelief because of the ignorance and the insensitivity … they were using this for road fill,” said the head of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, Jaime Awe. “It’s like being punched in the stomach, it’s just so horrendous.” Police are investigating.
Kenyan Demonstrators Criticize Greedy ‘MPigs’
A protest in Kenya today saw dozens of pigs released outside the Parliament building in Nairobi. Demonstrators spray painted the pigs with the names of specific MPs and poured blood onto the sidewalk to call attention to a proposed law that would raise wages for parliamentarians. This salary increase is the first act of the new parliament since its members were elected in March. “We will not allow members of parliament to increase their salaries at will,” said Okiya Omtatah. “They are greedy just like the pigs we have brought here.” Kenyan legislators are already some of the best paid in Africa, earning more than $80,000 tax-free each year, although the previous parliament had a tax-free salary of more than $150,000. In January, the previous parliament attempted to pass a $107,000 bonus for themselves as their last legislative effort before the elections. That effort was vetoed by then President Mwai Kibaki. Around 10 protestors were arrested after police broke up today’s peaceful protest with clubs, tear gas, and water cannons.
Russia Expels U.S. Diplomat for Spying
This morning Russia expelled U.S. Embassy Third Secretary Ryan Fogle for spying. According to Russian officials, the U.S. diplomat had been caught with disguises, special equipment, and significant sums of cash as he tried to recruit a Russian intelligence agent to work for the CIA. Fogel also allegedly carried a letter in Russian addressed to a “Dear Friend.” That letter offered an upfront payment of $100,000 and $1m a year for long-term cooperation. While U.S. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said this incident would not dramatically change the nature of Russo-American relations, the Russian statement expelling Fogel admonished the U.S., saying, “such provocative actions in the spirit of the Cold War will by no means promote the strengthening of mutual trust.” Although the Cold War has been over for two decades, spies in the U.S. and Russia are regularly caught. In 2010, Anna Chapman and nine others were arrested for working for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR); they were deported to Russia before being formally tried.
Boats Carrying One Hundred Rohingya Refugees Capsize
A group of three boats carrying roughly 100 Rohingya Muslims fleeing Cyclone Mahansen capsized Monday night. A spokesperson for UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said only one survivor has been found. The victims were already refugees, part of the over 130,000 Rohingya displaced by the anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar last year. They had been evacuating from their makeshift camp in the Pauktaw township of the Rakhine state to safer ground ahead of Mahansen, which is expected to reach Myanmar on Thursday with winds exceeding 80 miles per hour. Officials in Myanmar have already evacuated 13,000 refugees so far, but Brad Adams, the director of Human Rights Watch Asia, suggests that the government has been sluggish in its response. “The Burmese government didn’t heed the repeated warnings by governments and humanitarian aid groups to relocate displaced Muslims ahead of Burma’s rainy season. If the government fails to evacuate those at risk, any disaster that results will not be natural, but man-made,” he said.