Month: February 2016

Textiles from the time of King David found in ancient Israeli mine

Scientists have uncovered an extensive fabric collection from the era of Kings David and Solomon in an ancient copper mine located deep in Israel’s Arava Valley. This is the first discovery of textiles dating from the era of David and Solomon, and sheds fresh light on the historical fashions of the Holy Land. The textiles – tiny pieces of fabric that vary in color, weaving technique and ornamentation – also offer insight into the complex society of the early Edomites, the semi-nomadic people believed to have operated the copper mines at Timna. “No textiles have ever been found at excavation sites like Jerusalem, Meggido and Hazor, so this provides a unique window into an entire aspect of life from which we’ve never had physical evidence before,” Tel Aviv University’s (TAU) Ben-Yosef, who led excavation team, said of the textiles that originated from bags, clothing, tents, ropes and cords. “The wide variety of fabrics also provides new and important information about the Edomites, who, according to the Bible, warred with the Kingdom of Israel,” he said in a statement. “We found simply woven, elaborately decorated fabrics worn by the upper echelon of their stratified society. Luxury grade fabric adorned the highly skilled, highly respected craftsmen managing the copper furnaces. They were responsible for smelting the copper, which was a very complicated process.” The mines were producing copper, a critical component in weapons and tools in ancient societies. To support huge mining communities in the middle of the desert, food, water and textiles had to be transported long distances. The textiles help unravel the trade practices and the regional economy back then, researchers said. “We found linen, which was not produced locally. It was most likely from the Jordan Valley or Northern Israel. The majority of the fabrics were made of sheep’s wool, a cloth that is seldom found in this ancient period,” TAU masters student Vanessa Workman said. “This tells us how developed and sophisticated both their textile craft and trade networks must have been.” The arid conditions of the mines have led to a trove of important discoveries in the past, including the remarkable preservation of 3,000-year-old organic materials, including seeds, leather and fabric, and other extremely rare artifacts. Along with the textiles, researchers also recently discovered thousands of seeds of the Biblical “Seven Species” at the site — the two grains and five fruits considered unique products of the Land of Israel. Some of the seeds were subjected to radiocarbon dating, providing robust confirmation for the age of the site. “This is the first time seeds from this period have been found uncharred and in such large quantities,” Ben-Yosef said. “With the advancement of modern science, we now enjoy research options that were unthinkable a few decades ago. We can reconstruct wine typical of King David’s era, for example, and understand the cultivation and domestication processes that have been preserved in the DNA of the seed.”

Very cool!    🙂

Legal: The Minister and the Justice

In 1998, Justice Antonin Scalia attended the funeral service for Justice Lewis Powell at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Richmond, Virginia. At the luncheon afterwards Scalia looked for the church’s pastor, the Rev. James Goodloe. Unable to find him, Scalia wrote Goodloe a letter telling him “how reverent and inspiring I found the service.” Scalia said this from the perspective of one who in his “aging years” has attended so many funerals of prominent people as to become “a connoisseur of the genre.” In services for the deceased, he observed, “there is not much to be said except praise for the departed who is no more. But even in Christian services . . . for deceased Christians I am surprised at how often eulogy is the centerpiece, rather than (as it was in your church) the resurrection of Christ, and the eternal life which follows from that.” The service for Powell did include three brief eulogies. But the centerpiece of the service clearly lay in Goodloe’s 12-minute sermon: “The greatest good news that the world has ever heard is that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead,” declared the minister early in the sermon. And, toward the end, he explained how “Christ’s resurrection is a rescue for us, an escape from sin, death, and evil, a journey to a life of fellowship with God and his Christ.” In his letter, Scalia said he had been told that in Roman Catholic canon law encomiums at funeral masses weren’t permitted, “though if that is the rule, I have never seen it observed except in the breach.” There “is much to be said,” he continued, for such a prohibition, “not only because it spares from embarrassment or dissembling those of us about whom little good can truthfully be said, but also because, even when the deceased was an admirable person—indeed especially when the deceased was an admirable person—praise for his virtues can cause us to forget that we are praying for, and giving thanks for, God’s inexplicable mercy to a sinner.” Scalia then added a witty parenthetical comment: “(My goodness, that seems more like a Presbyterian thought than a Catholic one!)” Scalia wondered whether “clergymen who conduct relatively secular services are moved by a desire not to offend the nonbelievers in attendance—whose numbers tend to increase in proportion to the prominence of the deceased.” Scalia’s strong opinion about that: “What a mistake. Weddings and funerals (but especially funerals) are the principal occasions left in modern America when you can preach the Good News not just to the faithful but to those who have never really heard it.” Scalia ended his letter by thanking Goodloe for the service. “It was a privilege to sit with your congregation,” he wrote. Goodloe, who is now executive director of the Foundation for Reformed Theology in Richmond, told me he “was completely surprised” when he first opened and read the letter. “It seemed to me to be evidence [of Scalia’s] robust and remarkably reformed Christian faith.” Yes, Goodloe did use the word “reformed,” since Scalia attributed to himself thinking (concerning “God’s inexplicable mercy to a sinner”) that he described as seeming more Presbyterian–and therefore Reformed–than Catholic. For Goodloe, there was nothing unusual about the funeral sermon he gave for Lewis Powell. “It was really the way I do this,” regardless of the prominence of the deceased. Scalia’s letter didn’t become public until after the Justice’s death. Friends of Goodloe’s who knew about it encouraged the minister to put it out. He sent it to The Charlotte Observer, but when the paper moved slowly on it, Goodloe opted for Facebook. Scalia was buried on February 20. And in the homily at the funeral Mass on that day, Rev. Paul Scalia, Antonin Scalia’s son, brought up the letter the justice wrote “years ago” to “a Presbyterian minister whose funeral service he admired.” In it the justice “summarized quite nicely,” said Rev. Scalia, “the pitfalls of funerals and why he didn’t like eulogies”—and why, it may be added, there weren’t any at his funeral Mass.

What a great story!  Thanks to Terry Eastland for sharing it with us!   🙂





CNN Harasses Donald Trump on Twice-Repudiated KKK ‘Endorsement’

Republican frontrunner Donald J. Trump declined to condemn white supremacist David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. He had done so already in August, as reported by Politico, and had even done so on Friday, as reported by The Hill. But CNN’s Jake Tapper thought it fair game to ask him again, and Trump, apparently caught off guard, dodged the question, claiming not to know who these people and groups are. Opponents and critics immediately seized on Trump’s response as evidence that he actually supports the KKK and other white supremacists, or at least does not wish to risk losing their support. This is exactly the same game the media play against Republicans every single election, regardless of the candidate. It’s called “Pin the racists on the Republicans,” and it will be used against Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) or Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as readily as Trump. The media showed no interest in Barack Obama’s active participation in Jeremiah Wright’s racist church, until it was too late–and then it praised his speech embracing Wright as some kind of Lincoln-esque oration that should be studied by schoolchildren. The media do not ask Hillary Clinton about whether she is prepared to denounce Al Sharpton, or to dissociate herself from crony Sidney Blumenthal over the antisemitic fulminations of his son, Max. Arguably, Trump could have answered better: “I’ve already answered that, Jake, and of course I condemn those groups. I don’t want their support.” But he clearly knew he was being set up — with a quote from the liberal Anti-Defamation League — and therefore he was cagey. Inevitably, as is the pattern with Trump, he will issue some clarification. His support will not fade, nor will his rivals relent. But if they win — watch! — their turn is coming.

Agreed!  Trump and his advisers need to prep for questions that originate from agenda-driven, leftist groups like the ADL, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), and liberal racist organizations like the NAACP.  They are gunning for the Donald BIG time because they see a potential vulnerability.

15-foot python among 106 snakes caught in Florida hunt

The 106 Burmese pythons captured over a monthlong hunt won’t help control Florida’s invasive snake population, but wildlife officials said Saturday that doesn’t matter as much as the awareness they bring to the state’s environmental concerns. Thousands of pythons, far from their natural habitat in Southeast Asia, are believed to be stalking Florida wildlife in the beleaguered Everglades. The tan, splotchy snakes can be elusive in the wetlands, but Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials say volunteer python removal programs and two state-sanctioned hunts since 2009 are focusing more eyes to the problem. “Whether they’re fishermen or they’re hunters or they’re hikers or they’re birdwatchers — they’re all looking for the python,” said wildlife commissioner Ron Bergeron. “The success of the ‘Python Challenge’ has broadened out to thousands of people now.” The longest python caught during the hunt that ran between Jan. 16 and Feb. 14 was 15 feet long. It was caught by a team led by Bill Booth of Sarasota. Booth’s team also took home a prize for largest haul of snakes: 33 pythons. Over 1,000 people from 29 states registered to remove pythons from South Florida’s wetlands. Daniel Moniz of Bricktown, New Jersey, suffered bites to the face, neck and arm from the 13-foot-8.7-inch python that won him a prize for the longest python caught by an individual. Faced with a winter layoff from his landscaping job, he completed the wildlife commission’s online training and spent a month biking over 40 miles a day over levees through the wetlands, eventually bagging a total of 13 pythons. The longest one tried to swim away, until he dove on top of it. “I got it under control and stuffed it in a pillow case,” he said. Frank Mazzotti of the University of Florida said the stomach contents of the captured pythons are still being analyzed, but so far the prey has included a fawn and a wood stork and other large wading birds. Once the necropsies are complete, the hunters can reclaim their dead snakes. About a third of have been turned over to Brian Wood of All American Gator in Hollywood. Half the hunters want him to make something from the pythons they caught — a wall hanging, a pair of boots, or a purse for the wife at a fraction of the cost of a python clutch bearing a luxury designer logo. The other half are selling him their dead snakes for up to $150 apiece — about the same price Wood pays for fully processed, tanned and dyed python skins imported from Asia. (In Wood’s store, swatches show python skins dyed teal, rose pink, pale yellow and metallic gold, among other hues.) Wood also turned about 20 pythons caught during the 2013 Python Challenge into accessories. Pythons that once slithered through the Everglades now slide out of pockets as black-and-white billfolds or hang off arms as roomy purses. A couple now stride down sidewalks, transformed into pairs of Chuck Taylor sneakers. “It’s kind of cool to be able to get something that’s invasive, not something that’s endangered,” Wood said. He says he regularly supplies European luxury brands with alligator skins, but they aren’t interested in Florida’s pythons. The state’s invasive snakes aren’t tracked by international trade conventions, and the volume can’t compare with the hundreds of thousands of python skins supplied each by about 10 countries in Southeast Asia. They’re also looking for sustainable sources of python skins, while Florida just wants to be rid of its python supply. Unfortunately, pythons are not Wood’s only supply of invasive species leathers. “I’m trying to promote this lizard we have that’s taken over,” he says, meaning iguanas, which his sons are hired to hunt in South Florida’s urban and suburban environments.

SE Asian foreign ministers voice concerns on South China Sea

Foreign ministers from the 10 countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations said Saturday that they were “seriously concerned” by recent developments in the disputed South China Sea region and will seek a meeting over the issue with China. At the end of their annual retreat, held this year in the Laos capital of Vientiane, they noted their worries and reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, security and stability in the area. The strategically important South China Sea is at the center of a territorial dispute involving China on one side and a number of ASEAN countries on the other, including Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia. Tensions have ramped up since China began a massive land reclamation program in 2013. Recent satellite imagery suggests that China has installed surface-to-air missiles in a disputed area in the Paracels chain, prompting accusations that Beijing is militarizing the area. A joint statement said the ASEAN foreign ministers “remained seriously concerned over recent and ongoing developments and took note of the concerns expressed by some members on the land reclamations and escalation of activities” in the South China Sea. The statement added that the activities have “eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region.” Vietnam’s foreign minister, Pham Binh Minh, told reporters as he left the meeting that he was “seriously concerned about the situation” and called for the “non-militarization” of the South China Sea. Cambodia’s foreign minister, Hor Namhong, said ASEAN would seek a meeting with China over the matter, though no date or venue had been set. Other matters were on the agenda too. The ministers reiterated their perennial call for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. They also addressed Islamic extremism, in the wake of an attack in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta in January that left eight people dead. “The threat is real. It’s no longer fictitious or mere imagination,” said Malaysia’s foreign minister, Anifah Aman.

Indeed..  We’ll, of course, keep an eye on this one..

Black Milwaukee sheriff takes on Black Lives Matter movemen

David Clarke, the African-American sheriff of Milwaukee County, is a man on a mission – to rebut allegations that U.S. police have been too quick to use deadly force against blacks in a spate of killings from New York to Ferguson, Missouri. The 38-year law enforcement veteran has become one of the most polarizing black critics of the “Black Lives Matter” movement that grew out of protests against the police killings of unarmed black men, which he describes as anomalies in an otherwise effective criminal justice system. “My mission right now is defending cops. It’s a full-time mission,” the 59-year-old, cowboy hat-wearing, sheriff said during a recent interview. “I’ve got to defend this profession, because no one else is or very few are.” Clarke has taken on the national movement in appearances on Fox News and on Twitter, often calling the group “Black Lies Matter,” and labeling its members “subhuman creeps” and calling for the movement’s eradication “from American society.” His stance has drawn the ire of black activists. “If there was a white sheriff making those statements, they would have demanded his resignation by now,” said Fred Royal, president of the Milwaukee chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “His remarks have racist overtones to them. He’s in total denial of the condition the average citizen in this community is being subjected to,” Royal said. Black Lives Matter contends black Americans are more likely to face violence at the hands of police than their white counterparts.

And yet, FBI statistics show that more whites are killed by police officer in shootings with law enforcement, than blacks.  Sheriff Clarke is exactly right when he calls the movement, “Black Lies Matter.”  It’s all smoke and mirrors.  “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” was based on a lie, and yet they still promote and chant it…along with “Death to Cops.”  Black Lives Matter is simply a black racist, and domestic terrorist, organization full of socialist, entitlement-minded thugs..  Kudos to Sheriff Clarke for saying what needs to be said!  🙂

Universal unveils details about its new King Kong ride

The “King Kong” franchise is getting a major reboot with an all-new attraction at Universal Studios Orlando. Skull Island: Reign of Kong, a new ride which Universal says is one of the longest it has ever created, is expected to open this summer at Islands of Adventure. Universal says it will be unlike the park’s earlier King Kong attraction, Kongfrontation, which opened in 1990 and closed in 2002, or any of the ”King Kong” movies. There were few details Thursday when the park unveiled artist renderings and a website with a cable-TV-type adventure story, “Myth Explorer: The Quest for Kong.” Skull Island doesn’t focus on the giant ape attacking New York, but rather will take guests to Kong’s home turf. “The adventure begins as you set out to explore an island rife with prehistoric creatures of unknown origin — and the legend of a beast still undiscovered,” a news release says. Visitors will board a safari-like expedition vehicle and learn about the great beast as they explore the mysterious island and presumably see Kong up close. “Your only hope is the most colossal ape ever to walk the earth. As the gargantuan beasts fight for dominance, you will just fight to survive. Skull Island: Reign of Kong — a multi-sensory, multi-dimensional new ride for your life,” the website reads. To tease things out, Universal’s website which feature episodes of adventurer Erin Ryder and her exploration of Skull Island. Only the first episode is available so far. The “King Kong” film was first made in 1933 and remade twice, in 1976 and again in 2005 –the latter of which was directed by “The Lord of the Rings’” Peter Jackson and starring Naomi Watts.

And that last one would have been pretty good, if not for the obnoxious Jack Black who ruined it.  My vote goes to the one that came out in ’76 with Jeff Bridges.  Anyway, this new addition to Universal Studios Orlando sounds fun!!  🙂

‘Super lice’ outbreak hits 25 states

A strain of so-called ‘super lice’ has hit a reported 25 states, causing concern and frustration among parents because the bugs can’t be killed with most over-the-counter treatments. The treatments, known as pyrethroids, had a 100 percent success rate in 2000 against lice but now only work in 25 percent of cases, reported. A new FDA-approved treatment called AirAlle, which was developed by Lice Clinics of America, has been found to be effective against the super lice, with treatments costing about $170. “We use heated air, and we dehydrate the lice and the eggs in a single treatment,” Claire Roberts, CEO of Lice Clinics America, told “It takes about an hour, and we guarantee it.” While some insurance companies will cover the cost of treatment, experts say the likely best medicine in this situation is prevention. Parents should teach their children about the repercussions of sharing hats, hairbrushes and contact with another’s hair, reported. For those parents whose children do come home with lice, experts caution not to panic and to stick to what they know. Old-fashioned nit-picking will help but may take longer than usual. Experts instruct parents to vacuum where hair has fallen, wash bedding in hot water, and throw stuff animals and clothing in a hot dryer for 20 to 30 minutes.

U.S. Has Record 10th Straight Year Without 3% Growth in GDP

The United States has now gone a record 10 straight years without 3 percent growth in real Gross Domestic Product, according to data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The BEA has calculated GDP for each year going back to 1929 and it has calculated the inflation-adjusted annual change in GDP (in constant 2009 dollars) from 1930 forward. In the 85 years for which BEA has calculated the annual change in real GDP there is only one ten-year stretch—2006 through 2015—when the annual growth in real GDP never hit 3 percent. During the last ten years, real annual growth in GDP peaked in 2006 at 2.7 percent. It has never been that high again, according to the BEA. The last recession ended in June 2009, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. In the six full calendar years since then (2010-2015), real annual GDP growth has never exceeded the 2.5 percent it hit in 2010. “The average growth rate for economic recoveries since the 1960s is 3.9 percent ranking the Obama recovery, with an average GDP growth rate of just 2.1 percent, among the slowest in history,” said Sen. Dan Coats (R.-Ind,), who chairs the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress. Before this period, the longest stretch of years when real GDP did not grow by at least 3.0 percent, as calculatd by the BEA, was the four-year stretch from 1930 to 1933—during the Great Depression. In addition to that four-stretch from 1930-1933, there have also been four three-year stretches where the real annual growth in GDP did not go as high as 3.0 percent. Those periods were 1945-1947 (in the immediate aftermath of World War II); 1956-1958; 1980-1982; and 2001-2003. The longest consecutive stretch of years in which the United State saw real GDP grow by 3.0 percent or better was the seven year period from 1983-1989, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan. The second longest stretch of years in which the U.S. saw real GDP grow by 3.0 percent or better was the six-year period from 1939 through 1944. (World War II started in Europe in 1939 and the U.S. entered the war in December 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.) In the last two years, annual growth in real GDP hit a plateau of 2.4 percent.

More bad economic news in this Obama economy..  This is what happens when Democrats like Obama, Hillary, and Bernie push for bigger government, higher taxes, more regulations/red-tape, and attack certain sectors of our economy like clean-coal plants.  To read the rest of this depressing article, click on the text above.

US flexes muscle, tests ICBM off California coast

An unarmed Minuteman 3 nuclear missile was shot into the California night sky Thursday amid tensions with North Korea and Russia. The missile was fired at 11:01 p.m. off the California coastline and was carrying a payload of test instruments. It was aimed toward the waters of the Kwajalein Atoll, an island chain about 2,500 miles southwest of Honolulu. Col. Craig Ramsey, commander of the 576th Flight test Squadron, said the re-entry vehicle that carries the missile’s payload reached its target 30 minutes after the launch. This was the second missile test the Air Force conducted this month in a series designed to confirm the reliability of the Cold War-era missile and all its components. The Minuteman 3, first deployed in 1970, has long exceeded its original 10-year lifespan. It is so old that vital parts are no longer in production. The Air Force operates 450 Minuteman missiles — 150 at each of three missile fields in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota. A few times a year, one missile is pulled from its silo and trucked to Vandenberg, minus its nuclear warhead, for a test launch. Minuteman test launches are the U.S. military’s way of sharpening the message that forms the foundation of U.S. nuclear deterrence theory — that if potential attackers believe U.S. nuclear missiles and bombs are ready for war at all times, then no adversary would dare start a nuclear fight. The credibility of this message can be damaged by signs of weakness or instability in the nuclear weapons force. In 2013-14 the Associated Press documented morale, training, leadership and equipment problems in the Minuteman force, and in January the Air Force acknowledged to the AP that errors by a maintenance crew damaged an armed Minuteman in May 2014. Work said in an interview ahead of Thursday’s launch that he sees good progress in fixing the problems in the nuclear missile corps. He also said the Vandenberg test launches are critically important. “It is a signal to anyone who has nuclear weapons that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country, if necessary,” he said, adding later, “We do it to demonstrate that these missiles —- even though they’re old — they still remain the most effective, or one of the most effective, missiles in the world.” Work also mentioned that the launch sends a message to strategic rivals – including Russia, China and North Korea. He said “that’s exactly why we do this,” according to Reuters. “We and the Russians and the Chinese routinely do test shots to prove that the operational missiles that we have are reliable. And that is a signal … that we are prepared to use nuclear weapons in defense of our country if necessary.” Air Force official claim the test launches are a morale booster because they give launch crews and others a chance to leave their usual duties to participate in an actual launch. Otherwise, officials do 24-hour shifts, year-round, in underground missile posts, hoping the call to combat never comes. Together, the United States and Russia control the vast majority of the world’s nuclear weapons, and both countries regularly conduct ICBM test launches. The Russians generally do them more often, at least in part because they have new missiles in development whereas the Minuteman 3 is the only U.S. ICBM. The U.S. Air Force is planning a new-generation ICBM, but it is not scheduled to begin entering the force until about 2030. Pavel Podvig, an independent analyst of Russian nuclear forces and publisher of the blog, said in an interview that Moscow puts less stock in the public messaging aspect of missile test launches than does Washington. “They (the Russians) do want to make sure the missiles are still functioning,” he said, “But the message is as much for themselves as for the outside world.” North Korea, on the other hand, aims for maximum political impact when it conducts missile test launches or detonates a nuclear device, as it did Jan. 6. The potential for North Korea to field a nuclear warhead small enough to fit atop an intercontinental missile is among the worries American officials cite as justification for investing tens of billions of dollars in a new fleet of U.S. ICBMs and other types of nuclear weaponry.