Rebels commanders unite
Rebel commanders from across the country have joined forces under a united command they hope will increase coordination between diverse fighting groups and streamline the pathway for arms essential to their struggle against President Bashar al-Assad. Disorganization has bedeviled the rebel movement since its birth late last year. Scores of rebel groups battle al-Assad’s forces across the country, many coordinating with no one outside of their own area. The new body, expected to be announced officially yesterday, hopes to form the basis of a united rebel front.
Elections bring uncertainty
The center-left government is expected to win a comfortable victory after yesterday’s parliamentary elections, but the result could lead to more of the political instability that has plagued the impoverished Balkan nation this year. President Traian Basescu must nominate the prime minister, and he has indicated he may not reappoint Prime Minister Victor Ponta even if his coalition wins a majority. The two have been embroiled in a bitter personal feud since Ponta tried and failed to impeach the center-right Basescu in July. If Basescu refuses to reappoint Ponta, it would cause a political standoff. Basescu could nominate someone else, but his choice would have to be approved by parliament. If his candidate fails in two rounds of voting, parliament could be dissolved.
Medvedev jokes about aliens
Men in Black agents K and J may be about to recruit a new assistant: Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev has spoken about top secret files on aliens that may have landed in the country. In footage recorded on Friday after a TV interview, the former president joked that each leader gets two folders with information about extraterrestrials that visited our planet — and stayed. Unseen on camera footage, he is heard telling a Ren TV journalist he could not tell “how many of them are among us, because it may cause panic.” He said more details could be found in Barry Sonnenfeld’s Men in Black films.
Gypsies’ roots analyzed
In parts of Europe, they are still shunned as disruptive outsiders or patronized as little more than an exotic source of music and dance, but scientists have now proved the continent’s Gypsies have ancient roots stretching back more than a millennium. A genetic analysis of 13 Gypsy groups around Europe, published in the Current Biology journal, has revealed that the arrival on the continent of Gypsy forebears from northern India happened far earlier than was thought, about 1,500 years ago. The earliest population reached the Balkans, while the spread outward from there came about nine centuries ago, according to researchers at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology and elsewhere. Gypsies were originally thought to have come from Egypt and some of the earliest references to them in English, dating back to the 16th century, call them “Egyptians.” Early European references describe wandering, nomadic communities who were known for their music and skill with horses. They arrived in Spain in the 15th century or earlier records of groups and held on despite attempts to expel them or imprison those who refused to give up their language and culture. The study shows not only that they share common ancestry from northwest India, but also that they have mixed extensively with other Europeans.