Middle East peace talks under way

Negotiations begin in earnest, with Obama and Kerry praising Israeli-Palestinian summit but warning of big challenges

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are beginning intensive talks in Washington on Tuesday aimed at reviving the moribund Middle East peace process amid warnings that this could be the last chance to reach an agreement to end the historic conflict.

As the two teams met on Monday evening for an iftar meal hosted by the US secretary of state, John Kerry, to mark the end of the Ramadan fast, the preliminary talks were welcomed in the first formal, albeit cautious, statement from President Barak Obama since the two sides agreed 10 days ago to sit down together.

Taliban attack Pakistan prison

Heavily armed militants thought to have been trying to free associates when they stormed Dera Ismail Khan jail

  • theguardian.com, Tuesday 30 July 2013 07.28 BST

Dozens of Taliban militants armed with guns, grenades and bombs have attacked a prison in north-west Pakistan, freeing more than 250 prisoners, including 25 “dangerous terrorists”, according to officials said.

The militants killed six policemen, six Shia Muslim prisoners and two civilians during the attack on Monday night in the town of Dera Ismail Khan, said the town’s commissioner, Mushtaq Jadoon. One of the Shias was beheaded, said Jadoon, and 15 policemen were wounded.

Around 70 militants arrived at the prison by car and motorcycle at around 11.30pm and their assault lasted for about four and a half hours until most of the fighters escaped, said intelligence officials.

Drugs and alcohol in child victim reveal sacrificial secrets of the Incas

Analysis of mummy’s hair by UK team shows teenage girl was given coca and alcohol before ritualistic death

Archaeologists are piecing together the real-life tragedy of a 13-year-old girl chosen as a gift to the gods, who was killed more than five centuries ago on the summit of a sacred four-mile-high mountain in South America.

By pioneering a remarkable bio-chemical analytical process to extract data from her hair, British scientists have been able to trace the nature of her food and drink consumption over the final 24 months of her life.

Much of the key data was revealed yesterday in the US scientific journal  the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), augmenting other data from the same research team, published six years ago.

Undercover Report: Apple Faces Fresh Criticism of Factories

By Hilmar Schmundt and Bernhard Zand

Apple might have abandoned manufacturing supplier Foxconn in the wake of a scandal over deplorable working conditions in its Chinese factories, but it seems that labor rights violations are also rife at Pegatron, its new partner.

Tim Cook has tried to be a better person. Or at least, to look like one. Last year, Apple’s CEO personally flew to China to have a look around Foxconn, the company’s controversial supplier. Reports about migrant laborers’ deplorable working conditions and low pay, as well as a spate of suicides were damaging Apple’s image, so Cook promised improvements and also scouted around for new factories where the company’s iPads, iPhones and computers could be produced. One of Apple’s new partners is the Taiwanese electronics manufacturing company Pegatron, which operates several factories in China. But it recently transpired its workers are even worse off than those at Foxconn.


Daughters win long court battle over Maharaja’s billions

July 30, 2013 – 9:55AM

Dean Nelson in Delhi

Two elderly Indian princesses have inherited a £2.5 billion ($4.2 billion) fortune after winning one of the country’s longest-running royal legal battles.

The two surviving children of the Maharaja of Faridkot, Sir Harinder Singh Brar, will now take control of one of the country’s largest surviving royal fortunes after a court ruled that they had been cheated out of their inheritance by palace staff who forged his final will.

The maharaja died aged 74 in 1989 after a long decline following the death of his son and heir Tikka in a motor accident. He left a vast fortune including Faridkot House in the heart of Delhi, Manimajra Fort in Faridkot, his mountain retreat at Mashobra, near the Viceroy’s summer residence in the foothills of the Himalayas, and a fleet of vintage cars in properties in Shimla. He owned a number of Rolls-Royces, military cars and several Second World War aircraft which he kept at his 22-acre aerodrome.

Zimbabwe’s elections explained

30 JUL 2013 06:00 RAY NDLOVU

With Zimbabwe’s national election taking place on July 31, we take a look at some of the pertinent questions and key players involved.

On Wednesday, Zimbabwe will hold national elections to elect a new government. President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will face off in the contest for the third consecutive time after encounters in the 2002 and 2008 elections. But as things stand, there are other stakeholders who will be watching the outcome of the election contest from the periphery. Voters, Zimbabweans living in the diaspora, South Africans, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the rest of the world will have their eyes on Zimbabwe to see whether Mugabe will succeed in his bid for another five year-term office, his seventh consecutive term since independence in 1980.