Wikinews:Briefs/June 1, 2010

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Today on Wikinews : Egypt allows aid to cross into the Gaza strip; ancient Chinese relics are discovered at The Ruins of St. Paul; Patrick Gillett gives us his account of the latest match in the Gippsland Football League and, in history, Yang Yuhuan, beloved consort to Chinese emperor Xuanzong is born.

Today is Tuesday, June 1st, 2010. I'm Dan Harlow and this is Wikinews.



As United Nations officials have demanded an end to the Gaza blockade, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has ordered the opening of the Rafah Border Crossing into the Gaza Strip allowing for humanitarian and medical aid to pass through. Food and medical supplies will be allowed, but not concrete or steel. It will also be made available for ill and injured Palestinians seeking medical treatment.

Rafah is the only point on the Gaza border not controlled by Israel; a 2005 agreement put both the Palestinian's and Israel in charge of the border, with observation from the European Union.

The opening comes after international criticism of the death of activists when Israeli commandos raided Turkish ships in international waters that were carrying some 10,000 tonnes of supplies and were planning to breach the Gaza blockade.

Relics dating back to the Qing Dynasty were found under the civil servants' quarters adjacent to The Ruins of St. Paul, a 17th century Portuguese cathedral, in Macau, China by archaeological teams at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Since St Paul's College is believed to have been located under those quarters, the Macau government will demolish them in order to assist with the experts' findings at the Ruins of St. Paul. A 2 block area around the cite was already demolished in March to make room for the archaeological project.

The relics included Chinese-styled porcelain tiles, eave tiles, potteries and iron artillery shells. Furthermore, part of an ancient wall was found at a nearby construction site.

The walls are confirmed as part of the Ruins of St. Paul, matching maps dating back to 1760, 1886 and 1912. Examinations of the walls have shown they were constructed with at least by 5 layers of stone, on top of them 2 layers of blue bricks, as well as rammed earth each measuring at least 10 centimeters thick.

The remaining 2 buildings in the area will be demolished next week for further investigation.

In our continuing coverage of the Gippsland Football League, we have a special report from Wikinews reporter Patrick Gillett on the latest standings in the league.

Read by Patrick Gillett (transcript not avaiable).

Thank you, Pat.

Now, moving from football to ice hockey,

the Chicago Blackhawks scored two goals just 28 seconds apart late in the second period to take a 2–0 series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 2 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals Monday night in Chicago, United States.

Ben Eager scored the game-winner on a wrist shot from 38 feet at the 17:37 mark of the second period.

Unlike the first game, this one was marked by impressive defensive efforts from both sides. Chicago goalkeeper Antti Niemi made 32 saves, earning the Player-of-the-Game honor from the National Hockey League. His counterpart, Michael Leighton, who was pulled in Game 1 after giving up five goals, collected 24 saves.

Chicago and Philadelphia will continue their best-of-seven series on Wednesday night at Philadelphia's Wachovia Center. The Stanley Cup will determine the 2009–10 National Hockey League champion after the top 16 teams earned the right to compete in the postseason. The NHL has 30 teams in the United States and Canada and attracts many international players.

On this day in history (4:24)


In 719, one of the Four Great Beauties of ancient China is born; her name is Consort Yang Yuhuan.

In her era, Yang was known for having a full and fleshy figure, which was a much sought-after quality at the time, but must not be viewed in the modern context of someone who is extremely overweight. Her story too is quite beautiful but as with each of the Four Great Beauties who gained their reputation from the influence they exercised over kings and emperors three of the Four Beauties brought kingdoms to their knees, and the lives of all four ended in tragic or under mysterious circumstances.

Yang Yuhuan was born early in the reign of her future husband Emperor Xuanzong, the seventh and longest reigning emperor of the Tang dynasty in China. Her father served as a census official at Shu Prefecture and appeared to be sonless, but he had four daughters, all known to history and who were also beautiful. Yet her father died when she was still young and so she was raised by her uncle who was a low-level official at Henan Municipality.

In 733, Yang Yuhuan married the son of Emperor Xuanzong and Consort Wu, Li Mao the Prince of Shou when she was 16. She thus carried the title of Princess of Shou but after Consort Wu died in 737, Emperor Xuanzong was greatly saddened by the death of his then-favorite concubine. Though it is unknown how, Princess Yang somehow came into the Emperor's favor and he decided to take her as his own consort.

However, since Princess Yang was already the wife of his son, Emperor Xuanzong stealthily arranged her to become a Taoist nun in order to prevent criticisms that would affect his plan of making her his concubine. Yang then stayed, for a brief time, as a Taoist nun in the palace before Emperor Xuanzong made her an imperial consort after bestowing his son Li Mao a new wife, the daughter of a general. Yang hence became the favorite consort of the emperor like Consort Wu before her.

Yang Yuhuan was held in such high esteem as consort by the emperor that he created a new rank of Guifei, which was even greater than the previously highest rank of Huifei, held by Consort Wu. He also bestowed posthumous honors on her father and gave high offices to the uncle who had raised her. Her three sisters were each made Ladies of Han and it was said that whenever the noble women were summoned to imperial gatherings, even Emperor Xuanzong's highly honored sister, the Princess Yuzhen, did not dare to take a seat more honorable than theirs.

Consort Yang became so favored that whenever she rode a horse, the powerful eunuch Gao Lishi, believed to have been richer than many of the nobility of the era, would personally attend to her. 700 laborers were conscripted to sew fabrics for her and officials and generals flattered her by offering her exquisite tributes.

Apparently, having a strong willed personality, in 746, there was an occasion when she angered the Emperor by being jealous and rude to him, and he had her sent to her cousin's mansion. However, later that day, his mood was such that he could not eat, and the servants were battered by him for minor offenses. Gao Lishi knew that he missed Consort Yang, and Gao requested that the treasures in Consort Yang's palace be sent to her. The Emperor agreed and even added that imperial meals be sent to her. That night, Gao requested that the Emperor welcome Consort Yang back to the palace, a request he easily agreed to. Thereafter, she was even more favored, and no other imperial consort drew more favor from the Emperor.

4 years later, she once again offended the Emperor, who at first sent her away, then regretted the decision, sent her imperial meals once more and as she ate, she cried to the eunuchs delivering the meal, stating:

"My offense deserves death, and it is fortunate that His Imperial Majesty did not kill me, but instead returned me to my household. I will forever leave the palace. My gold, jade, and treasures were all given me by His Imperial Majesty, and it would be inappropriate for me to offer them back to him. Only what my parents gave me I would dare to offer."

She cut off some of her hair and had the hair taken back to Emperor Xuanzong. Emperor Xuanzong had Gao escort her back to the palace, and thereafter loved her even greater.

Her influence and cunning had become so great that in 752, when her powerful cousin Yang Guozhong was requested to defend against an attack in what is now modern day Chengdu, Sichuan, she interceded on his behalf, and the requesting chancellor soon died, allowing Yang Guozhong to become the new chancellor.

Yet her cousin and another powerful military commander, An Lushan, were soon in conflict with each other and when Yang Guozhong provoked his rival into rebelling, the situation became so dire in the region that the Emperor considered abdicating the throne to an enemy of Yang Guozhong but Consort Yang intervened again and the emperor relented.

Unfortunately the situation grew worse and soon An Lushan had the upper hand militarily forcing the emperor to personally escort Yang Guozhong as he fled towards Chengdu. On 15 July, 756, the emperors imperial guards became angry that they had not been fed, and, fearing Yang Guozhong was planning treason, attacked and killed him. The soldiers then surrounded Emperor Xuanzong's pavilion and demanded that Consort Yang also be put to death believing her enormous influence with the emperor had created the situation in the first place. The the emperor initially declined, Gao Lishi, the powerful eunuch, changed the emperor's mind and so Gao Lishi took her to a Buddhist shrine and strangled her.

Consort Yang was buried without a coffin, but instead with masses of fragrances and was wrapped in purple blankets. A year later, the emperor wanted to locate her body and rebury her with honor but was advised against doing so. Yet secretly he sent eunuchs to rebury her with a coffin. When they found the body, it had decomposed, but the fragrance bag buried with her was still fresh. When the eunuchs returned with the fragrance bag and presented it to the emperor, he wept bitterly.

In the following generation, a long poem, "Song of the Everlasting Sorrow" was written by the poet Bai Juyi describing the Emperor's love for her and perpetual grief at her loss. It became an instant classic, known to and memorized by Chinese schoolchildren far into posterity. The poem also became highly popular in Japan and served as sources of inspiration for the classical novel The Tale of Genji which begins with the doomed love between an emperor and a consort who is likened to Consort Yang.

A Japanese rumor states that Lady Yang may have even been rescued, escaping to Japan and lived her remaining life there.



And those are the top headlines for Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

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