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World's newest republic maintains a unique century-old culture - Nepalese girl, 3, begins life as "living goddess"

a 3-year-old girl who was appointed a living goddess in Nepal - Matani Shakya received approval from the priests and President Ram Baran Yadav

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Nepal became the world's newest republic in 2006, and in May 2008 ended the country's 240-year monarchy. However, the centuries-old Hindu-Buddhist tradition of worshipping a young virgin as the living embodiment of a powerful goddess has survived, and the Nepalese president now receives blessings from the girl - “living goddess”.

people watch as the guard of honor for Nepal's President Ram Baran Yadav stands at attention during the Indrajatra festival in Kathmandu September 14, 2008

The three-year-old daughter of a Nepalese watch repairer became a "living goddess" after being approved by the country's new atheist government. Despite Nepal being a Maoist republic after the monarchy was unseated in May, the centuries-old tradition of worshipping a young virgin as the living embodiment of a powerful Hindu goddess has survived.  read more »

Feb 1964, Beatles 1st tour in US; Jan 30 2009 on London rooftop, Beatles final public concert 40 yrs ago recreated

The Beatles: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr

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Live rooftop concert shuts down part of Dundas Street
Re-enactment of The Beatles famous last concert together

Downtown London got back to 1969 over the noon hour as hundreds of fans cheered a band playing a re-creation of the Beatles' final public performance 40 years ago to the day. Led by London musician and Beatles expert Yuri Pool, the group played the songs in the same order, starting and finishing with versions of Get Back, the Beatles played in their legendary concert on the roof of Apple Records in London, England on Jan. 30, 1979. Hundreds of fans, standing in the cold, lined up 10 or 12 deep along a block of Dundas Street in downtown London.

The Beatles

How The Beatles Conquered America: the story of how the Beatles first became successful in America is a fascinating tale - filled with astonishing coincidences.

Friday January 10th 1964  read more »

Nature perturbed: icy darkness in N Amer; 1st-time-in-100-yrs heatwave cooks egg on court at Australia Open in 60C

Australian Open tennis tournament

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Above: players and fans at the Australian Open tennis tournament did their best to keep cool.

heatwave: cooking an egg in 10 minutes on an outside court at the Australia Open, 2009
An egg cooked after ten minutes on an outside court where air temperatures reached 60C. The official temperature in the shade at 4.53 pm was 45.4C, the hottest since 1908.

heatwave in Australia buckles rail lines
A heatwave scorching southern Australia, causing transport chaos by buckling rail lines and leaving more than 140,000 homes without power, is a sign of climate change, the government said.

one of the worst heatwaves in recent history in Australia
"It is the worst heatwave most will have lived through," senior forecaster Terry Ryan said in a front-page story headlined "Heat Wave Hell". But this lot looked like they were enjoying it.

Heatwave in Melbourne plays havoc with the Australian Open  read more »

"SOS Amazon": 1st action of Amazon tribes, sending message "Wake Up, World!" at 2009 World Social Forum in Brazil

while world leaders are gathering in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, an alternative meeting is taking place in Brazil

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BELÉM, Brazil, Jan 27 (IPS) - A human banner made up of more than 1,000 people, seen and photographed from the air, sent the message "SOS Amazon" to the world, in the first action taken by indigenous people hours before the opening in northern Brazil on Tuesday of the 2009 World Social Forum (WSF).

gathering in Belém, a city at the mouth of the Amazon, for the six-day World Social Forum (WSF)

The mass message reflects "our concern about global warming, whose impact we will be the first to feel, although we, the peoples of the Amazon, have protected and cared for the forests," Francisco Avelino Batista, an Apurinán Indian from the Purus river valley in the Brazilian Amazon, told IPS.

September 1988, Rondonia State, Brazil: Newly cleared land. Soya farming is one of the primary drivers of deforestation in the Amazon  read more »

"SOS Amazon": every second we lose 1.5 acres of rainforests once covering 14% of earth land surface, now a mere 6%

SOS: save the Amazon

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The Disappearing Rainforests

We are losing Earth's greatest biological treasures just as we are beginning to appreciate their true value. Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth's land surface; now they cover a mere 6% and experts estimate that the last remaining rainforests could be consumed in less than 40 years.

June 1989, Brazil: The forest burns

* One and one-half acres of rainforest are lost every second with tragic consequences for both developing and industrial countries.

* Rainforests are being destroyed because the value of rainforest land is perceived as only the value of its timber by short-sighted governments, multi-national logging companies, and land owners.

left: walking leaves (Phyllidae) are closely related to stick insects. Crater Mountain, Papua New Guinea; right: only the inappropriate perch gives away these leaf bugs (Phromnia) in Ankarafantsika National Park, Madagascar

* Nearly half of the world's species of plants, animals and microorganisms will be destroyed or severely threatened over the next quarter century due to rainforest deforestation.  read more »

A newborn giraffe, on the very first day, looking at the world without fear, but innocent curiosity

new giraffe calf born January 26, 2009

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SAN FRANCISCO -- A reticulated giraffe calf was born at the San Francisco Zoo on Jan. 26, and both mother and calf appear to be doing well, zoo officials announced. The calf was born sometime between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. and was standing on all fours and appeared to be healthy today, zookeepers said. "The calf appears to be really strong and was getting up and down on its own," said Ingrid Russell-White, curator of mammals at the zoo.

It was nursing about every 30 minutes today and appeared well-hydrated, Russell-White said. Its mother, Bititi, was showing a strong nurturing instinct and gently nudging the youngster to show it how to nurse, according to zoo officials.

Momma Bititi gives baby giraffe a kiss

They have also been keeping another female giraffe nearby to help keep Bititi calm, Russell-White said. Zookeepers are hoping the second female, Kristin, will pick up a few tips from Bititi, Russell-White said, because keepers suspect she may be pregnant as well. The calf is Bititi's second. Her first, a male named Bulldozer, was born July 11, 2007. The newborn is its father Floyd's fifth offspring.

Giraffes have a 14-to 15-month gestation period and calves can be up to 6 feet tall at birth. Female giraffes give birth standing up, their calves facing a daunting, 6-foot drop into the world. The newcomer is the fifth giraffe to be born at the zoo since 2004.

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Photos courtesy of SF Zoo / Flicker  read more »

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