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It's believed to be the oldest pub in England – but now Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is facing a call to change its name. Citing modern society's compassion for the birds, the UK's People for Ethical Treatment of Animals suggests an alternate name: Ye Olde Clever Cocks.

From PETA:

"We wrote to the pub owners 0asking them to consider changing the establishment's name to Ye Olde Clever Cocks – in recognition of society's growing compassion for animals and in celebration of intelligent, sensitive chickens."

The owners of the pub that has roots in the 8th century say they won't be changing its name. Ye Olde Fighting Cocks is in St. Albans, northwest of London.

Pub landlord Christo Tofalli tells local newspaper The Herts Advertiser:

"Every time someone comes in to this pub, they are being exposed to a bit of the country's history and we celebrate the fact that cock fighting was abolished more than 150 years ago.

"From the feedback we have received we can see that our customers from wherever they are feel strongly that it's important to preserve our national identity as well as local history."

In its lengthy history, the pub has had at least two other names, including its original title of the Round House. After cock fighting was banned in 1849, the pub was called The Fisherman — but that change was relatively short-lived. In 1872, it was back to Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, according to the pub's website.

On the pub's Facebook page, its owner thanked its customers for their support, summarizing the public's response as "1. History rocks 2. Pubs rock 3. Chicken jokes."

Mashable says, "Feedback on PETA's website ranged from 'you are all completely bonkers' to 'there are more important issues.'"

PETA says that even if the pub's not going to change its name, it wants to raise awareness of the plight of chickens, which it calls "one of the most abused animals on the planet."

More than 10 months after Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian was detained on vaguely defined espionage charges, his trial began Tuesday in a closed court in Tehran. Rezaian is a citizen of both Iran and the U.S.

Noting the trial's start, Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency notes that Rezaian, 39, "is accused of espionage for the US government and activity against the Islamic Republic of Iran."

The agency did not note other details about the charges. The Post reports, "The proceedings were adjourned after about two hours," citing IRNA. The newspaper adds that no "family members or independent observers were permitted inside the courtroom — bringing denunciations from press freedom groups and others."

Rezaian is a native of California. He was working as the Post's Tehran bureau chief when he was arrested last July along with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, an Iranian correspondent for Abu Dhabi's newspaper The National, and another person. Salehi was later released on bail; she was in court today, according to The National.

Rezaian's brother Ali tells the BBC:

"They say he was following the internal politics and the foreign politics of the government. So essentially, he was watching the news and reporting on the news – and they're calling that espionage. They also told us that he was collaborating with a hostile power. And their main charge there is that he basically applied for a job with the White House."

At the time of his arrest, Rezaian had filed a story about talks over Iran's nuclear program; the day before, he published a piece about baseball's status as a favorite pastime for some Iranians.

Rezaian has remained in jail since his arrest, with only one visit from a lawyer, the Post says.

His trial is being heard by Revolutionary Court Judge Abolghassem Salavati, who is nicknamed "the judge of death" for the way he hands out sentences, according to NPR's Peter Kenyon.

From Istanbul, Peter recently told Morning Edition that Judge Salavati is "used to handling politically sensitive cases."

An Iranian who fled the country after being in the revolutionary court told Peter that the trial "seemed very scripted with the judge just reading what was put in front of him."

Rezaian's case has lingered amid the prolonged and complicated process of international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program – a process that has also highlighted divisions between Iran's own political system.

President Obama is among those who have urged Iran to release Rezaian, citing his status as a credentialed member of the media. Obama highlighted the case this spring, along with those of other Americans who are being held in Iran — Idaho's Saeed Abedini and Michigan's Amir Hekmati — along with Robert Levinson, a former FBI agent who disappeared more than eight years ago.

Jason Rezaian


In what is being described as an embarrassing release of a confidential email, the Bank of England may have inadvertently revealed that it is making financial plans for the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, should that ever come to pass.

Conservative Victory Moves U.K. Closer To EU Exit






Earlier this month, the newly reelected British Prime Minister David Cameron reiterated his party's commitment to hold a referendum by the end of 2017 on continued membership in the EU.

According to The Guardian, on Friday the Bank of England — the British equivalent of the Federal Reserve — "accidentally emailed details" to the newspaper of a contingency plan in the works on how to extricate the U.K. from the EU, "including how the bank intended to fend off any inquiries about its work."

The plan has been dubbed "Operation Bookend," according to the newspaper.


Jon Cunliffe, center, then Britain's International Economic and EU Advisor, stands behind Prime Minister David Cameron in November 2011 as he speaks with U.S. President Barack Obama, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a G20 Summit. The Guardian reports that Cunliffe's secretary accidentally leaked to the paper Great Britain's plan for a possible exit from the European Union. Charles Dharapak/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Charles Dharapak/AP

Jon Cunliffe, center, then Britain's International Economic and EU Advisor, stands behind Prime Minister David Cameron in November 2011 as he speaks with U.S. President Barack Obama, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a G20 Summit. The Guardian reports that Cunliffe's secretary accidentally leaked to the paper Great Britain's plan for a possible exit from the European Union.

Charles Dharapak/AP

The Guardian reports that "the email, from [Deputy Governor for Financial Stability Sir Jon] Cunliffe's private secretary to four senior executives, was written on 21 May and forwarded by mistake to a Guardian editor by the Bank's head of press, Jeremy Harrison.

"It says: 'Jon's proposal, which he has asked me to highlight to you, is that no email is sent to [the team of James Talbot, the head of the monetary assessment and strategy division] ... or more broadly around the Bank about the project.'

"It continues: 'James can tell his team that he is working on a short-term project on European economics in International [division] which will last a couple of months. This will be in-depth work on a broad range of European economic issues. Ideally he would then say no more.'"

While the United Kingdom is one of 28 EU member states, it maintains its own currency and is not part of the Eurozone.


Central Banking


British Prime Minister David Cameron

United Kingdom

European Union

In 2013, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie ordered state agencies to do whatever it took to build an engineered dune system along the entire Jersey Shore to protect from storms like Sandy.

Most oceanfront property owners have signed the necessary easements and dune-building is finally starting this spring on Long Beach Island.

However, even as the state starts eminent domain proceedings, hold-outs concerned about personal property rights are refusing to sign over permission to build dunes on their land, leaving a giant hole in the shore's protections as hurricane season approaches.

Dune-building started this month on Long Beach Island, a skinny piece of land connected to mainland New Jersey by a bridge.

Giant dredging boats far off the coast are sucking up sand from the bottom of the ocean where it's then pumped to the wide, sandy beach. Earth-moving machines push it into tall hills in front of shorefront homes. Eventually, long grasses will be planted to slow erosion.

Angelo Giafaglione watches the process with approval. "We need the dunes, build 'em up, make the beach bigger."

For nearly a decade in the tiny borough of Ship Bottom, inland residents such as Giafagliane have been pitted against oceanfront property owners who refused to allow dunes to be built on their property.

"I feel they were stupid," he says. "You gotta think of everybody else, you can't just think of yourself. So I'm glad that this is getting done now."

Among the last hold-outs in the area were Dorothy and Ted Jedziniak. They finally gave their permission in June, in part because the state offered assurances that a boardwalk and bathrooms would not be built on their quiet beachfront property.

"OK, we give in, we're not going to fight anymore," Dorothy says. "Just so long as the home rule and owning property is respected, and they assured us it was. So that's it!"

Since 2013, state and local officials have convinced property owners like the Jedziniaks to sign nearly 2,500 easements that allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build dunes on private land. But today, nearly 400 of those easements are still outstanding.

Most of those outstanding easements are in northern Ocean County.

"We prefer to take care of our problems with our own money as opposed to wasting taxpayer money," says Thacher Brown, who's standing in front of his house on a dune he rebuilt after Sandy.

"We, along with 14 neighbors — there were 15 of us — put in a rock revetment, and we then covered those rocks with several feet of sand, and we covered the sand with dune grass," he explains.

The Army Corps of Engineers says one uniform dune system will protect the shore better than a piecemeal one built by individuals and towns. But Brown and his neighbors oppose signing easements they see as transferring parts of their private land to the public, forever.

"The government wants to take a perpetual interest in our beaches," Brown says, "which are privately owned even though we allow the public on them."

Gov. Christie has repeatedly said he's not trying to turn private beaches into public attractions, but many hold-outs are distrustful.

Last month, N.J. Commissioner of Environmental Protection Bob Martin said the state would take Brown and his Bay Head neighbors to court over the issue.

"Out of 124 easements we need, all we have is two," he says. "We've got a lot of people that are being very selfish right now."

The state attorney general's office expects to start filing for eminent domain, or the compulsory public acquisition of private land, within the next several weeks.

As they watch how legal challenges elsewhere on the shore progress, Bay Head residents are already planning their defense strategy: they say it might include pushing for millions of dollars of compensation they don't think New Jersey has in its budget.


New Jersey

Jersey Shore


Police in Malaysia say they have uncovered more evidence of human smuggling, with the discovery of at least 139 graves along the country's border with Thailand.

The bodies were found in 28 abandoned forest camps that authorities believe smugglers built to hide migrants who are from Myanmar and Bangladesh. Refugees are sometimes held by smugglers until their relatives come up with more money.

Malaysia's national police chief Khalid Abu Bakar said investigators searching the dense jungle found crudely erected barbed-wire pens and wooden cages. They also found a teddy bear and small-sized sandals, a sign that children were held in the camps.

"It is a very sad scene," Khalid told reporters at a police outpost in the town of Wang Kelian several miles from the camps, one of which appeared large enough to hold about 300 people. "I am shocked. We never expected this kind of cruelty."

The first mass graves of migrants were discovered earlier this month in southern Thailand. Rohingya migrants Burma typically travel by boat to Thailand, hoping to make their way to Malaysia, which is more tolerant of the Muslim refugees.

Autopsies conducted on those remains indicate the victims had starved to death or had died of disease. Investigators say the graves likely contain the remains of Burmese fleeing harsh conditions in Myanmar.

Rohingyas are considered one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Though they have lived in Myanmar for generations, they are denied citizenship and are segregated from the rest of the population in Rakhine state. Many are prevented from holding jobs, traveling or even marrying.

The United Nations estimates that more than 100,000 Rohingya have fled since clashes in 2012 between Myanmar's Buddhist community and the Rohingya minority. They usually leave in overcrowded boats and, amid a region-wide crackdown on human traffickers, are increasingly abandoned on the high seas. As no country in the region wants them, they are prevented from landing. The Thai Army has been known to tow refugee boats out to sea and set them adrift.

After images of starving migrants adrift in the seas off Southeast Asia emerged this month, several countries loosened their stands on helping survivors. Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to temporarily take in migrants at sea. Thailand refuses to allow migrant boats to land, but will now allow its navy to assist with medical needs.

Though many refugees have been rescued since the change in policy, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that more than 3,500 migrants are still at sea in perilous conditions.


Rohingya Muslims

human trafficking



Defense Secretary Ash Carter says that Iraqi forces lack the "will to fight" the self-declared Islamic State and that they lost western Anbar province to the extremist group despite outnumbering their opponents.

Speaking on CNN's State of the Union, Carter said that although Iraqi forces, or ISF, "vastly outnumber" ISIS in western Anbar, and in their loss of the provincial capital, Ramadi, last week, "What apparently happened is the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force."

The capture of Ramadi was followed quickly by the fall of the ancient city of Palmyra to ISIS.

"We can give them training, we can give them equipment — we obviously can't give them the will to fight," Carter tells CNN.

As The Associated Press notes: "The harsh assessment [raises] new questions about the Obama administration's strategy to defeat the extremist group that has seized a strategically important swath of the Middle East."

The defense secretary's remarks echoed those made by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said last week that "The ISF was not driven out of Ramadi ... They drove out of Ramadi."

But Iraqi lawmaker Hakim al-Zamili, the head of the parliamentary defense and security committee, fired back at Carter's comments. He was quoted by the AP as calling them "unrealistic and baseless."

"The Iraqi army and police did have the will to fight IS group in Ramadi, but these forces lack good equipment, weapons and aerial support," he told the AP.

The BBC reports that the Iraqi government has deployed Shiite militias to the area and that on Saturday those forces had retaken Husayba, east of Ramadi and that heavy fighting was continuing in the area.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter


Islamic State

Gen. Martin Dempsey



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