Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 9:45 am
A hundred years ago this week, the Ottoman Empire began the killings and forced marches of Armenians in what most historians call the first genocide of the 20th century.
Turkey staunchly denies that label, saying the deaths — estimated by historians at around 1.5 million — were part of widespread ethnic fighting in a civil war.
Regardless of the label used, the result was destruction of virtually every Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed after the war. What was left of the country transitioned into the modern-day Republic of Turkey.
Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 6:03 pm
Emad al-Masaadi, a 41-year-old house painter and taxi driver, fled Damascus with his wife and three young boys after their home was bombed in late 2012, just one of the countless hard-luck stories generated by Syria's civil war. They landed in Beirut, but after more than a year without work or cash, Masaadi wanted out.
"So I asked my friends, 'How can we get to Europe?' " says Masaadi, an industrious and optimistic man with a gracious smile.
The answer was clear: "Smugglers were the only way," he recalls.
Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 2:54 pm
Updated at 4:53 p.m. ET
The Saudi-led military operation in Yemen is shifting gears, moving from airstrikes against Houthi rebels to a new phase that will include diplomatic and political efforts alongside military operations, Saudi military spokesman Brig. Gen. Ahmed Asiri said.
"The coalition will continue to prevent the movement of Houthi militias from moving or undertaking any operations inside Yemen," Asiri said at a news briefing in Riyadh.
He said coalition airstrikes had destroyed the ballistic missiles operated by the Shiite Houthis.
Originally published on Thu April 23, 2015 10:56 am
Imagine yourself clinging to a cliff face with nothing but uneven, worn wooden planks and chains to keep you from plummeting 7,000 feet to your untimely demise. Don't worry: You can rent a little red safety harness for $5. No one will make you wear it, though.
Oh, and you will probably encounter someone coming the other way, in which case you will have to maneuver around your neighbor as if playing a deadly game of Twister. Someone has to go on the outside, so I hope you're good at not blinking first.
You wouldn't do this for all the tea in China, you say?
Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 1:03 pm
Looks like many of us don't have the right stomach for a paleodiet. Literally.
Two studies give us a glimpse into our ancestors' microbiome — you know, those trillions of bacteria that live in the human gut.
And the take-home message of the studies is clear: Western diets and modern-day hygiene have wiped a few dozen species right out of our digestive tracts. One missing microbe helps metabolize carbohydrates. Other bygone bacteria act as prebiotics. And another communicates with our immune system.
Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 8:31 am
The ancient Rabban Hermizd Monastery, on a hill overlooking the northern village of al-Qosh, is a testament to the long history of Christians in Iraq. Stone walls leading up the hill are decorated with iconography, and the 7th-century monastery is covered with the ancient Syriac language, still spoken today by the people of al-Qosh.
"Christians have been here in the Ninevah plains for thousands of years. It would be a tragedy if we just disappeared," said Athra Kado, a local Syriac language teacher.
Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 9:18 am
Less than two years after he was removed from power by the military, an Egyptian court has sentenced former President Mohammed Morsi to 20 years in prison for the arrest and torture of protesters during his tenure.
The charges stem from the months of protests between late 2012 and July 2013, when Morsi was kicked out of office.
Twelve other defendants were also found guilty and received the same sentence as Morsi; they include former Muslim Brotherhood legislator Mohamed al-Beltagi and Essam al-Aryan, the group's former spokesman.
Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 1:18 pm
Palm oil is in everything, from pizza dough and chocolate to laundry detergent and lipstick. Nongovernmental organizations blame it for contributing to assorted evils, from global warming to human rights abuses.
But in the past year, this complex global industry has changed, as consumers put pressure on producers to show that they're not destroying forests, killing rare animals, grabbing land or exploiting workers.
Originally published on Wed April 22, 2015 12:21 pm
"They're running a little late," chides an elderly gentleman, tapping his watch at 12:02 p.m. He's come to this farm near the Danish city of Ikast, along with about 1,500 others, to celebrate what has become something of a national holiday in Denmark. It's the Sunday in mid-April when thousands of organic dairy cows at 75 farms across the country are released into the green fields of spring. At exactly noon. Eh hem.