Will the world end in 100 days? Sounding of ancient trumpet in York warns of Viking apocalypse on 22 February 2014

If Vikings were here today, the sounding of a distinctive horn in York would have created chaos.

The ancient instrument, blown last night, signalled exactly 100 days until the end of the world, according to Norse mythology.

Legend has it that the Norse God, Heimdallr, would blow the mythical Gjallerhorn to warn of the Viking apocalypse, also known as ‘Ragnarok’.

The end of the world was signalled in York last night as a horn was blown to herald the beginning of the apocalypseThe end of the world was signalled in York last night as a horn was blown to herald the beginning of the apocalypse

Only legislation will stop minerals being traded at the expense of human rights

Conflict minerals found in cars, electronics and other products will only be eradicated with new laws and business buy-in

One of the key drivers underpinning some of the world’s worst ongoing violent conflicts over the past few years is the extraction and trade of natural resources.

Recently in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Séléka rebels, who have carried out acts of violence against their people, have taken advantage of the diamonds trade to consolidate their power. This has led to the exclusion of the CAR from the Kimberley process aimed at tackling conflict diamonds.

Meanwhile in the Democratic Republic of Congo the extraction of cassiterite, gold, tungsten and coltan has financed warring factions for the past two decades, in a conflict that has already resulted in millions of victims.

Shinzo Abe: is Japan’s PM a dangerous militarist or modernising reformer?

As East China Sea tensions escalate, nobody knows for sure which way the 59-year-old would jump if push came to shove

The escalating battle of nerves between Japan and China over a disputed island chain has focused the international spotlight on Shinzo Abe, Japan’s pugnaciously conservative prime minister, who is carrying the heavy responsibility of war and peace on his hunched shoulders.

As east Asia’s leading nations talk tensely of war and peace, Abe’s critics say it is his brand of unrepentant, rightwing nationalism that has helped push the region to the brink. His supporters say Abe is rightly, finally standing up for Japan.

How Abe might react if China’s unilaterally imposed “air defence zone” over the Senkaku islands in the East China Sea triggers armed clashes is a serious international concern. The US is pledged to come to Japan’s aid should it be attacked, while hardliners in China’s military leadership would welcome a fight over what they call “core interests”. There is potential for a head-on superpower collision.

US snow storm enters final stages after battering midwest and east coast

Snowfall in the region ranged from 2 to 8in in Connecticut and Rhode Island to almost 17in on Maine’s southern coast

A large winter storm that dumped snow across the US midwest and east coast swept into its final stage as it passed over New England on Sunday, with forecasters predicting a foot or more of snow in Maine.

Snowfall in the region ranged from 2 to 8in in Connecticut and Rhode Island to almost 11in in northern Massachusetts and nearly 17in on Maine’s southern coast, according to the National Weather Service.

Car accidents were reported across the region, including a crash in central Pennsylvania that killed two people late Saturday morning. Police told the Altoona Mirror that an SUV was traveling too fast for weather conditions when it lost control and slid into the path of an oncoming pickup truck. The two people in the SUV died and the truck driver was seriously injured.

Farewell to the Age of Free Trade


Since the end of World War II and the birth of the modern global economy, business leaders have come to accept an iron law: International trade always expands faster than economic growth. Between the late 1940s and 2013, that assumption held true. Trade grew roughly twice as fast as the world economy annually, as fresh markets opened up, governments signed free-trade pacts, new industries and consumers emerged, and technological advances made international trade cheaper and faster.

Now this iron law may be crumbling. Over the past two years, international trade has grown so slowly that it has fallen behind the growth of the world economy, which itself is hardly humming. Major potential trade deals, such as the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between Europe and North America, are at risk of falling through. At an early December meeting in Bali, representatives of the 159 members of the World Trade Organization agreed to move forward with basic trade facilitation measures but failed to reach any consensus on what should be on the table for the next WTO round, instead just deferring action on substantial items.

Gaza receives first fuel shipment in weeks after winter storm

Two Palestinian men make their was along a flooded street in Gaza CityFuel shortages and power cuts have hampered rescue and recovery efforts, after thousands fled their flooded homes

The Gaza Strip received its first shipment of industrial fuel in 45 days on Sunday, bringing much-needed relief in the wake of a rare winter storm that caused havoc across many parts of the Middle East.

Fuel shortages have hampered rescue and recovery efforts in Gaza, where thousands of residents fled their flooded homes. The storm relented on Saturday, but authorities in the region still struggled to clear roads and repair power lines.

Israel ships fuel to Gaza on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, but Hamas has refused to accept the shipments, saying they cannot afford the new tax they would incur.

Palestinian border official Raed Fattouh said Sunday’s fuel shipment was paid for by Qatar, which has aided Hamas in the past.

Israel has maintained a blockade of Gaza since Hamas came to power in 2007, but over the weekend it sent diesel for heating and water pumps as a humanitarian gesture.