November 15, 2007 — Vol. 43, No. 14
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Ancient Peruvian temple, mural excavated

LIMA, Peru — Carbon dating tests and excavation of a colorful pre-Incan temple indicate that it was built thousands of years ago by an advanced civilization, a prominent archaeologist said in comments published Sunday by a Peruvian newspaper.

Unearthed in Peru’s archeologically rich northern coastal desert, the temple has a staircase leading to an altar that was used for worshipping fire and making offerings to deities, Walter Alva, who headed the three-month excavation, told El Comercio.

Some of the walls of the 27,000-square-foot site — almost half the size of a football field — were painted, and a white and red mural depicts a deer being hunted with a net.

Alva said the temple was apparently constructed by an “advanced civilization” because it was built with mud bricks made from sediment found in local rivers, instead of rocks.

“This discovery shows an architectural and iconographic tradition different from what has been known until now,” said Alva, who discovered and is the museum director for another important pre-Incan find, the nearby Lords of Sipan Moche Tombs.

The carbon dating tests, conducted in the United States, indicate that the site is 4,000 years old, he claimed.

The oldest known city in the Americas is Caral, also near the Peruvian coast, which researchers dated to 2627 B.C.

U.S. military deaths in Iraq at 3,861

As of Sunday, Nov. 11, 2007, at least 3,861 members of the U.S. military had died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes eight military civilians. At least 3,146 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.

The AP count is four higher than the Defense Department’s tally, last updated Friday, Nov. 9 at 10 a.m. EDT.

The British military has reported 171 deaths; Italy, 33; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 21; Bulgaria, 13; Spain, 11; Denmark, seven; El Salvador, five; Slovakia, four; Latvia, three; Estonia, Netherlands, Thailand, Romania, two each; and Australia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, South Korea, one death each.

Ex-head of Oprah’s school denies knowledge of abuse allegations

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The former headmistress of Oprah Winfrey’s school for disadvantaged girls has denied being aware of allegations that a dormitory matron sexually assaulted and abused pupils.

Winfrey announced last Monday that Nomvuyo Mzamane’s contract would not be renewed, indicating that school officials had ignored complaints from the girls and tried to keep allegations of abuse from her.

“Contrary to reports, I had no knowledge of abuse. I did not and would never participate in any such cover up,” Mzamane said in a statement issued last Thursday through her U.S.-based lawyer.

Mzamane was suspended last month when allegations of abuse by one of the dormitory matrons surfaced.

Tiny Virginia Makopo, 27, faces 13 charges of indecent assault, assault and criminal injury committed against at least six students aged 13-15 and a 23-year-old at the school. Makopo, who said she was innocent, was freed on bail last Monday.

Winfrey, who was a victim of child abuse herself, promised an overhaul of the school and said she had apologized to parents.

Winfrey opened her Leadership Academy for Girls outside Johannesburg on Jan. 2, with celebrities including Tina Turner and Spike Lee in attendance, as well as former President Nelson Mandela.

The lavish $40 million school was the fulfillment of a promise she made to Mandela six years ago, and aims to give girls from deprived backgrounds a quality education in a country where schools are struggling to overcome the legacy of apartheid.

K.C.-area group tries to help peace efforts in Sudan

LENEXA, Kan. — When Rebecca Mabior left Sudan, she was filled with bitterness toward the Arab Muslims who mistreated her throughout her childhood because she was a black Christian.

Mabior lived in the north, which was dominated by Arabs and Muslims, making her a target for abuse from children and adults.

“Some of [the teachers] showed me love, some of them didn’t,” said Mabior. “They were calling me like I’m a bad person because I was a Christian. They didn’t know how bad an effect that had on me. Because I grew up hating them.”

All that has changed since Mabior arrived in the U.S. five years ago and began rebuilding her life. She is planning to leave her husband and 3-year-old son in the Kansas City suburb of Gladstone for a month, to teach English to Muslims who have fled the violence around Darfur.

While Mabior was growing up in Sudan, a war was raging in the south, where Christians were murdered, captured as slaves or forced to flee by mostly Muslim soldiers sent by a government trying to impose strict Islamic law.

That civil war, which killed more than 2 million people and created 4 million refugees, ended in 2005. By then, Muslims from western Sudan had begun a rebellion against the government. Many of the Muslims now suffering in refugee camps in Darfur and neighboring Chad had been soldiers who inflicted so much pain on southern Christians during the civil war.

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