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Thursday, November 09, 2017

President Trump said this morning that he and President Xi of China could solve all the world's problems. "I look forward to many years success and friendship, working together to solve not only our problems but world problems," he said after a lavish reception in Beijing. "I believe we can solve almost all of them, probably all of them." read more


As America has turned away from searching for extraterrestrial intelligence, China has built the world's largest radio dish for precisely that purpose... read more


fugitive polygamist from Arizona has been arrested with four wives and a "concubine" on the grounds of a conservative religious community in the northern Mexican desert highlands.

More than two dozen U.S. citizens, apparently disciples of the polygamist's "commune," have been detained in the same hamlet in Mexico's Chihuahua state.

And it's all linked to the slayings of three young Americans, two of them sons of the polygamist, shot dead weeks earlier in a nearby rural enclave called "Black Ranch." read more


Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Since becoming president, Trump has largely ceded the decision-making of America's wars to the generals he derided while running for office. Trump has not entirely vacated the office of commander-in-chief. Yet, as with so many other aspects of the job, he occupies it on only an occasional basis and rarely with the requisite skill. read more


Mammals only started being active in the daytime after non-avian dinosaurs were wiped out about 66 million years ago (mya), finds a new study led by UCL and Tel Aviv University's Steinhardt Museum of Natural History.

A long-standing theory holds that the common ancestor to all mammals was nocturnal, but the new discovery reveals when mammals started living in the daytime for the first time. It also provides insight into which species changed behaviour first.

The study, published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution, analysed data of 2415 species of mammals alive today using computer algorithms to reconstruct the likely activity patterns of their ancient ancestors who lived millions of years ago. read more


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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.

Saudi prince killed in helicopter crash near Yemen border
www.bbc.com

Here's the interesting bit:

"Prince Mansour was the son of Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, a former intelligence chief who was crown prince between January and April 2015, when he was pushed aside by Prince Mohammed's father, King Salman, now 81."

"The document took so long to produce, however, and the process of its production was so tortuous, that it had unanticipated results. First of all, by the time it was released, the United States had already entered the war, and Russia was irrevocably on the way out. Contrary to the wishes of those who framed it, the Balfour Declaration did not influence the outcome of World War I. But surely it influenced what happened after."

During the war, the British government had been attempting to win over the Zionists with one hand, while coaxing Arabs into serving its interests with the other. It successfully encouraged Husayn ibn Ali, the sharif of Mecca, to rebel against their common enemy, the Ottoman Empire. When the sharif launched his insurrection, he did so believing that the United Kingdom had promised to support the establishment of an independent Arab kingdom, including Palestine, of which he would be the leader -- not a home in Palestine for the Jewish people. He therefore viewed the Balfour Declaration as a great betrayal. After November 2, 1917, neither he nor his followers would trust "perfidious Albion."

Nor would many Zionists (although Weizmann remained an Anglophile all his life). This is because they had discovered that even as the British government was promising Palestine to them, it was bound by the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 to cede the north of the country to France and the holy cities to government by international condominium. Of course, Zionists did not view the Balfour Declaration as a betrayal, but they knew now that the British government was capable of forsaking them.

What they never learned was that Lloyd George had been prepared to betray them even as they celebrated the declaration he made possible. In January 1918, mere weeks after issuing it, he had sent an emissary to speak with the Turks about a separate peace. Having Turkey out of the war would be a greater contribution to an Allied victory than anything concerning Jews and Arabs. Lloyd George offered the Turks various inducements. One was that if the Ottomans deserted Germany, their flag could continue to fly over Palestine. Had they accepted this offer, no one would be referring to the Balfour Declaration today.

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