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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Prehistoric women had stronger arms than elite female rowing teams do today thanks to the daily grind of farming life, researchers have revealed, shedding light on their role in early communities.

The study of ancient bones suggests that manual agricultural work had a profound effect on the bodies of women living in central Europe between about the early neolithic and late iron age, from about 5,300BC to AD100.

"We think a lot of what we are seeing is the bone's response to women grinding grain, which is pretty much seated but using your arms really repetitively many hours a day," said Dr Alison Macintosh, co-author of the research from the University of Cambridge.

The study also reveals that the strength of women's arm bones dropped over time – probably as technology was developed to ease manual labour. By medieval times, the strength of women's arm bones was on a par with that of the average woman today. read more


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Searching For The Next Generation Of Warfighters In A Divided America read more


Trump is "actively considering" how to follow through on his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Vice President Pence said Tuesday, reopening a divisive question that puts the president at odds with military and diplomatic advisers and close allies.

Pence drew whoops and applause at an event marking the 70th anniversary of the United Nations vote paving the way for establishing the state of Israel when he contrasted the Trump administration's stance on the embassy to that of past U.S. administrations. read more


The prevailing interpretation of Donald Trump, shared by all his enemies and many of his allies, is that he is a con man. It is a theory that explains both his career in business and politics, and has carried through his many reversals of position and acts of fraud against customers and contractors. It remains quite plausible. But new reporting has opened up a second possibility: The president has lost all touch with reality. read more


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sarah Binder, Foreign Affairs: It is tempting to blame Trump's legislative failures on his lack of government experience, his indifference to the details of policy, and his tempestuous personality. But focusing only on personal characteristics misses the political and institutional dynamics at play. The two parties are deeply polarized, Republicans hold only a slim Senate majority, and Republican conferences in both chambers cannot agree on key issues. A more disciplined and popular president might have managed to bring Republicans together. But huge obstacles would still have remained. As it stands, Trump is heading into his second year in office with little to show in terms of legislative victories -- and few reasons to believe his agenda will fare any better in the future. read more


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Theresa May Calls Trump's Anti-Muslim Retweets ‘Wrong'
www.huffingtonpost.com

British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday condemned President Donald Trump as "wrong" for retweeting of anti-Muslim videos, reviving tensions between the two governments.

"It is wrong for the President to have done this," May's office said in response to the retweeted videos, initially posted by British far-right leader Jayda Fransen of Britain First.

"Britain First seeks to divide communities through their use of hateful narratives which peddle lies and stoke tensions," May said in a statement obtained by the Independent. "They cause anxiety to law-abiding people."

She continues: "British people overwhelmingly reject the prejudiced rhetoric of the far right which is the antithesis of the values that this country represents ― decency, tolerance and respect."

May's rebuke adds strain to what had been one of the world's strongest modern alliances and reignited calls from British politicians to cancel Trump's planned visit to the U.K. Several members of the British Parliament spoke out against Trump for spreading the videos, with several calling his actions "disgraceful."

"So why? Why did a president who has time after volatile time railed against leakers, who has attacked Hillary Clinton for playing fast and loose with classified information, cozy up to a couple of Russian bigwigs in the Oval Office and breezily offer government secrets?"

Any answer is at best conjecture. Yet in the search for an important truth, consider these hypotheses, each of which has its own supporters among past and current members of the U.S. intelligence community.

The first is a bit of armchair psychology. In Trump's irrepressible way of living in the world, wealth is real only if other people believe you're rich. If you don't flaunt it, then you might as well not have it.

So there is the new president, shaky as any bounder might be in the complicated world of international politics, sitting down to a head-to-head with a pair of experienced Russians. How can he impress them? Get them to appreciate that he's not some lightweight, but rather a genuine player on the world stage?

There's also the school of thought that the episode is another unfortunate example of Trump's impressionable worldview being routinely shaped by the last thing he's heard, be it that morning's broadcast of Fox & Friends or an intelligence briefing in the Oval Office. As advocates of this theory point out, the president was likely told that one of the issues still on his guests' minds would be the terrorist explosion back in October 2015 that brought down a Russian passenger plane flying above Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. With that seed planted in the president's undisciplined mind, it's a short leap for him to be off and running to the Russians about what he knew about an ISIS scheme to target passenger aircraft.

Yet there is also a more sinister way to connect all the dots. There are some petulant voices in official Washington who insist that the president's treachery was deliberate, part of his longtime collaboration with the Russians. It is a true believer's orthodoxy, one which predicts that the meeting will wind up being one more damning count in an indictment that Robert Mueller, the special counsel, will ultimately nail to the White House door.

But, for now, to bolster their still very circumstantial case, they point to a curiosity surrounding the meeting in the Oval Office -- U.S. journalists were kept out. And, no less an oddity, the Russian press was allowed in. It was the photographer from TASS, the state-run Russian news agency, who snapped the only shots that documented the occasion for posterity. Or, for that matter, for the grand jury.

And...

Secular humanists won't be spared a sobering intellectual reckoning with first contact. Copernicus removed Earth from the center of the universe, and Darwin yanked humans down into the muck with the rest of the animal kingdom. But even within this framework, human beings have continued to regard ourselves as nature's pinnacle. We have continued treating "lower" creatures with great cruelty. We have marveled that existence itself was authored in such a way as to generate, from the simplest materials and axioms, beings like us. We have flattered ourselves that we are, in the words of Carl Sagan, "the universe's way of knowing itself." These are secular ways of saying we are made in the image of God.

We may be humbled to one day find ourselves joined, across the distance of stars, to a more ancient web of minds, fellow travelers in the long journey of time. We may receive from them an education in the real history of civilizations, young, old, and extinct. We may be introduced to galactic-scale artworks, borne of million-year traditions. We may be asked to participate in scientific observations that can be carried out only by multiple civilizations, separated by hundreds of light-years. Observations of this scope may disclose aspects of nature that we cannot now fathom. We may come to know a new metaphysics. If we're lucky, we will come to know a new ethics. We'll emerge from our existential shock feeling newly alive to our shared humanity. The first light to reach us in this dark forest may illuminate our home world too.

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