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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Militants bomb 2,700-year-old Nineveh Wall in Iraq

Militants of the Islamic State have destroyed a large portion of the ancient Nineveh wall in Mosul, which dates back some 2,700 years. The tragic loss adds to a series of archaeological, historical, and religious sites of great historical value that have been reduced to ruins. 

The Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reported last week that the militants used explosives to blow apart the wall located in the al-Tahrir region on the left coast of Mosul. “ISIS militants blew up today large parts and expanses of the archaeological wall of Nineveh,” media official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Mosul, Saed Mimousine, told IraqiNews.com last Tuesday. “The Wall of Nineveh is one of the most distinctive archaeological monuments in Iraq and the Middle East,” he added. 

View of Adad Gate at Nineveh from the North.

View of Adad Gate at Nineveh from the North. (Wikimedia Commons) Nineveh (modern-day Mosul, Iraq) was one of the oldest cities in antiquity, having been settled as early as 6000 BC. By 3000 BC, it had become an important religious center for worship of the goddess Ishtar. Under the reign of King Sennacherib (704 – 681 BC), the city grew dramatically in size and grandeur, who made Nineveh capital of his Assyrian Empire. Sennacherib ordered the construction of a massive protective wall around the city, measuring around 7.5 mile (25 km). Inside, he built aqueducts, irrigation canals, public gardens, and spectacular monuments. Simplified plan of ancient Nineveh showing city wall and location of gateways. Image created by Fredarch. (Wikimedia Commons) 
Simplified plan of ancient Nineveh showing city wall and location of gateways.

The wall consisted of a 6 meter (20ft) high stone retaining wall surmounted by a 10 meter (33ft) high and 15 meter (49ft) thick mudbrick wall. The wall had projecting stone towers spaced about every 18 meters (59ft), and fifteen monumental gateways, which served as checkpoints, barracks, and armories. 

The bases of the walls of the vaulted passages and interior chambers of the gateway were lined with finely cut stone orthostats about 1 meter (3ft) high. To date, only five of the fifteen gateways have been excavated by archaeologists. Assyrian wall carving of horses and grooms. From Nineveh, South West Palace, 790BC - 592BC. In the British Museum. (Wikimedia Commons) Nineveh was the largest city in the world for some fifty years, until a period of civil war in Assyria, in which a coalition of Babylonians, Medes, Persians, Chaldeans, Scythians and Cimmerians sacked the city in 612 BC, leaving much of it in ruins. 
The remains of the wall and city have laid there ever since, standing as a lasting reminder of the once great city of Assyria. However, when militants captured Mosul in June last year, they proceeded to destroy shrines and tombs important to Christians and Muslims because they allegedly “distort Islam.” The destruction of part of the Nineveh wall is the culmination of many such attacks on historic monuments in the city.
Credit to Ancient origins.net

- See more at: http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/tragedy-militants-bomb-2700-year-old-nineveh-wall-iraq-002632#sthash.OBNBaC4d.dpuf

"Vampire Shark" Emerge From The Deep...The Darkness Manifested

China's 2nd aircraft carrier nears construction phase

China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, docks at a military port in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province. (Photo/CNS)

The construction of China's second aircraft carrier appears to be imminent, reports the Global Times, a tabloid under the auspices of the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily.

On Saturday, the official microblog of the Changzhou city government in east China's Jiangsu province posted that a local company, Jiangsu Shangshang Cable Group, has won a tender to supply cabling for "China's second aircraft carrier."

The post was backed up by a report by the Changzhou Evening News on the same day, though both the microblog post and the article were deleted shortly after publication.

According to the Global Times, Jiangsu Shangshang Cable Group was a supplier of China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, a refitted former Soviet carrier which was commissioned in September 2012.

In the international arena, most countries usually require three aircraft carriers — one on duty, one for training, and one in maintenance, the Global Times said. In April 2013, Song Xue, the chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army Navy, said that China will eventually have more than just one aircraft carrier, but denied reports that a shipbuilder had already commenced work in Shanghai. In August later that year, Chinese defense ministry spokesperson Yang Yujun concurred that while the Liaoning is China's first aircraft carrier, it certainly won't be the last.

Modern aircraft carriers require a major long-term investment that involves complex analyses, design, construction and testing, the Global Times said. Chinese military commentary Li Xiaojian told the tabloid that the tender process for a new aircraft carrier will only begin after the overall planning and design process has been completed, suggesting that the recent reports mean China's second aircraft carrier could soon be entering the construction phase.

It remains unclear whether the new aircraft carrier will be conventionally or nuclear powered, though according to the Voice of Russia, China intends to have two conventionally-powered aircraft carriers to accumulate the necessary experience to boost the PLA Navy's offshore attack capabilities.
Credit to China Times

Pope Francis Openly Communist

The Mark Of The Beast Could Be Here Anytime After The Next 12 Months

Biometric markers could surpass passwords within 12 months. 

That would mean a shift from notoriously weak letter-and-number combinations to stronger, less hackable protection measures like fingerprint authentication. Services such as Apple Pay — which requires users to scan their fingerprint to enable transactions — are already preparing the public for that transition, which could blossom in the next 12 to 24 months, Nelsen said after the event. “It’s moving beyond the password as a way to authenticate yourself and really adopting more of those biometrics,” Nelsen said. 

He pointed to Braintree, the Chicago-based payments processor and software developer acquired by PayPal in 2013, as the type of company that could make the technology needed for this shift more accessible

Mark Nelsen, senior vice president of risk products and business intelligence at Visa, who was in town Thursday to join a panel on keeping customer trust.

What's the best payment system for your small business?

Services such as Apple Pay — which requires users to scan their fingerprint to enable transactions — are already preparing the public for that transition, which could blossom in the next 12 to 24 months, Nelsen said after the event.

“It's moving beyond the password as a way to authenticate yourself and really adopting more of those biometrics,” Nelsen said.

He pointed to Braintree, the Chicago-based payments processor and software developer acquired by PayPal in 2013, as the type of company that could make the technology needed for this shift more accessible.

“They would be one that would be trying to either develop applications that can use that kind of stronger authentication,” Nelsen said.

For example, Braintree could create a program that allows people to log into their accounts with their voice, Nelsen said. The company could then license that out to others who want to offer the same capability.

(Braintree wouldn't discuss specifics about any such plans, but noted: "Technologies like biometrics present exciting opportunities for payments and other industries to improve their user experience. ... Our parent company, PayPal, has worked with Samsung to allow users to login and pay using their fingerprint on their newest Samsung smartphones and tablet devices — the Galaxy S5, Tab S and Note 4.”)

Widespread adoption of biometric authentication for processes that involve personal data or financial transactions will require something some consumers have lost in recent months: trust. Nelsen said as awareness of and education about the superior security of technologies such as fingerprint scanning grows, so will people’s willingness to use them.

Companies will likely continue to offer traditional authentication alongside biometric options to give consumers a choice. But they should at the very least raise their protection standards for the data they hold, Nelsen said.

Credit to Raidersnewsupdate and Chicago Tribune

North Korea holds drill targeting US aircraft carrier

US aircraft carrier USS George Washington. (File photo/CNS)

Kim Jong-un personally commanded a North Korean military exercise in late January, which was centered around the attack of a US aircraft carrier, reports China's Global Times.

Kim urged the Korean People's Army to increase its combat readiness against US aircraft carrier striking groups. The dictator is confident that the carriers can be beaten if the army diligently studies and improves its strategies for guerrilla warfare and looks for weaknesses in the enemy, the report said.

During the exercise, Kim learned about the deployment methods and orders in an island invasion scenario. The island reportedly doubled as an mock aircraft carrier. The first order that Kim gave was sending out the North Korean Air Force.

He said the country's enemies have been arrogant because of their state-of-the-art military technology. However, a country's military power should not simply be assessed by its weapons and physical strength alone but also on its spirit and ideology, said the report.

Kim denounced the group of "mad dogs" calling North Korea's ideology and system totalitarianism and claiming that they will change the country's socialist system, the report said. Kim said the country will face the US in any war, in any battle and prepare for any condition, conventional or nuclear.

South Korea's Arirang TV said the exercise was the second one that Pyongyang has held in last month. The first was held on Jan. 23.

Credit to China Times

Delusional America

Submitted by Paul Craig Roberts,
Robert Parry is one of my favorite columnists. He is truthful, has a sense of justice, and delivers a firm punch. He used to be a “mainstream journalist,” like me, but we were too truthful for them. They kicked us out.
I can’t say Parry has always been one of my favorite journalists. During the 1980s he spent a lot of time on Reagan’s case. Having been on corporate boards, I know that CEOs seldom know everything that is going on in the company. There are just too many people and too many programs representing too many agendas. For presidents of countries with governments as large as the US government, there is far more going on than a president has time to learn about even if he could get accurate information.
In my day Assistant Secretaries and chiefs of staff were the most important people, because they controlled the flow of information. Presidents have to focus on fund raising for their reelection and for their party. More time and energy is used up with formalities and meetings with dignitaries and media events. At the most there are two or three issues on which a president can attempt leadership. If an organized clique such as the neoconservatives get into varied positions of authority, they can actually “create the reality” and take the government away from the president.
As I have reported on many occasions, my experience with Reagan left me with the conclusion that he was interested in two big issues. He wanted to stop the stagflation for which only the supply-side economists had a solution, and he wanted to end, not win, the cold war.
Both of these agendas put Reagan at odds with two of the most powerful of the private interest groups: Wall Street and the military/security complex.
Wall Street for the most part opposed Reagan’s economic program. They opposed it because they understood it as Keynesian deficit pump-priming that would cause an already high inflation rate to explode, which would drive down bond and stock prices.
The CIA and the military opposed any ending of the Cold War because of the obvious impact on their power and budget.
Left-wing journalists never picked up on this, and neither did right-wing journalists.
The left could not get beyond Reagan’s rhetoric. For the left, Reagan was trickle-down economics, Iran/Contra, and the fired air traffic controllers.
The right-wing liked Reagan’s rhetoric and blamed him for not delivering on it.
For the left, the Reagan years were a traumatic time. Robert Parry has never recovered from them. He can scarcely write a column about events today, which are horrific in comparison, without dragging Reagan into it. Parry doesn’t realize it, but if it is all Reagan’s fault, little wonder it has been impossible to hold Clinton, Bush 1 and 2, and Obama accountable.
Having written these lines, I already detect the denunciations coming my way for again attempting to “rehabilitate Ronald Ray-Gun.” Reagan does not need rehabilitating. This column is not about Reagan, and it is not a criticism of Parry. It is praise for Parry’s column, “‘Group-thinking’ the World into a New War.”  Read it.
The pattern since Milosevic (and before) has been to demonize a foreign head of state and to take the US to war to get rid of him. That way the secret agenda is achieved under the cover of the necessity of deposing a bad or dangerous ruler.
Parry describes this well. Group-Think plays the important role of preventing any dissent, any suspicion of the case against the demonized person, and any examination of the real agenda that is being pursued.
Now it is Russian President Vladimir Putin who is being demonized. As Parry and I and Stephen F. Cohen, the most knowledgeable of the Russian experts, appreciate, Putin is not Saddam Hussein and Russia is not Iraq, Libya, Syria, Serbia, or Iran. To foment conflict with Russia that could lead to war is worse than irresponsible. Yet, as Parry writes, “from the start of the Ukraine crisis in fall 2013, the New York Times, the Washington Post and virtually every mainstream U.S. news outlet have behaved as dishonestly as they did during the run-up to war with Iraq.”
When Professor Cohen pointed out, correctly, that the lies about Russia, Ukraine, and Putin were hot and heavy, the propagandists had to get rid of the man with the facts. The New Republic, a hang-out for low IQ fools, called America’s leading Russian expert “Putin’s American toady.”
From Parry’s reporting, it appears that Group-Think has spread from the media and foreign policy community into the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, which has decided that academic careers require adherence to the government’s propaganda line, which means the neoconservatives’ line.
As I have written on a number of occasions, facts no longer play a role in American political life. Fact-based analysis is also disappearing from academic life and no longer plays a role in official economic reporting. A matrix has been created, an artificial reality that channels the energies and resources of the country into secret agendas that serve the interests of the ruling private interest groups and neoconservative ideology.
The United States government and the American people cannot contend with reality, because they do not know what the reality is.
In America’s make-believe world, neoconservative toadies such as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, set the Group-Think tone, while knowledgeable experts such as Stephen Cohen are tuned out.
In effect, America is both blind and deaf. It lives in delusions. Consequently, it will destroy itself and perhaps the world.
Credit to Paul Craig Roberts

DNA nanobots to target cancer cells in test patients

Iran says it launches domestically-made satellite into orbit

Iran said Monday that it has successfully launched a domestically-produced satellite into space.

According to Iran's semi-official Press TV, the launch of "Fajr" marked the fourth Iranian-made satellite put into orbit.

The launch came after Iranian Vice President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari said Sunday that the satellite would go into orbit this week.

The satellite's function, according to an Iranian official quoted by Iran's Fars news agency is to transmit images of the Earth's surface to ground stations.

The Islamic Republic plans to launch three more satellites into orbit during the course of the next Iranian calendar year (March 2015-March 2016), according to Fars.

Credit to Jerusalem Post

Russia Plans Joint Military Drills with N.Korea

Russia has announced plans for joint military drills with North Korea this year, VOA reported on Saturday.

Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, said at a meeting with top brass at the Russian Defense Ministry on Friday that he would hold talks with defense ministry officials from Brazil, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam, adding Russia would stage joint drills with those countries mobilizing its Army, Navy, and Air Force.

This is likely to create fresh tensions reminiscent of the Cold War on the Korean Peninsula since South Korea in turn conducts several massive military drills with the U.S. every year.

Cho Han-bum of the Korea Institute for National Unification said, "Russia and the North have common interests in that Russia wants to resist U.S. pressure and the North opposes the joint South Korea-U.S. exercises."

Left: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (center) visits a naval unit to observe a drill in this photo released by [North] Korean Central News Agency on Saturday; Right: A torpedo is discharged from a North Korean submarine during a drill on Saturday. /Newsis

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un watched a joint Navy-Air Force exercise to prepare for strikes on hypothetical U.S. military targets at sea on Saturday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.

During the exercise, Kim reportedly said the North will not sit still while "the rabid dogs are openly barking."

The drill comes after U.S. President Barack Obama predicted the eventual collapse of the North Korean regime.

Credit to The Chosunilbo

White House Considers Sending Antitank Missiles, Small Arms And Ammo To Ukraine "To Deter Russia"

While the US government has yet to opine on the recently leaked information during Joe Biden's November trip to Ukraine that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the US is already providing lethal aid to Kiev, and certainly has said absolutely nothing about the presence of US soldiers - either taxpayer funded or mercenary - on Ukraine soil, the topic of legitimizing lethal weapons is once again on the front of the White House agenda.
According to the WSJ, "The U.S. government is considering providingJavelin antitank missiles, small arms and ammunition to Ukraine, part of an effort to try to deter further aggression by Russia-backed rebels there, according to U.S. officials."
Why now? The official story is that "The Pentagon has long supported providing some lethal aid, but until recently the White House has signaled little interest in such a move to avoid escalating the confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.... An administration official said Susan Rice , the White House national-security adviser, has reopened the discussion, though officials cautioned that no decision has been made."
The one thing holding back the US is the question whether, in the words of the WSJ, "a decision to provide “defensive lethal arms” would prompt Mr. Putin to reduce his support for the pro-Moscow rebels or trigger him to ramp it up, further destabilizing the country."
The unofficial story is that having been caught red-handed in Ukraine, whose proxy civil war between the US and Russia is clear to anyone with half a brain by now, the US is tired of hiding its direct, and quite lethal, involvement and it prepared to risk the diplomatic fallout from officially supporting with weapons yet another foreign nations. Because the US support of Iraq's army wasn't enough of a lesson, if only for US taxpayers: recall that to General Dynamics, the ISIS tragicomedy has played out precisely as expected, and has been quite lucrative to boot.
And so Ukraine is about to make the shareholders of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, the manufacturers of the Javelin missile, that little richer as a result of spreading democracy and the American wayaround the globe. Perhaps boost US GDP in the process as well. After all the ghost of Keynes is alive, and breaking windows, or as the case may be, firing anti-tank missiles deep in the night.
What is odd, is America's desire to get involved into yet another war on a different continent, especially when the purveyors of western ideals on said continent themselves are quite unwilling to get involved:
In Budapest on Monday, Ms. Merkel said Germany won’t supply arms to Ukraine because it was still banking on a peaceful solution, despite the recent escalation of hostilities.
That, and she knows quite well that the German borderline recession will be full-blown once Russia again retaliated to western Europe's own escalation, a key driver behind Europe's collapse into a triple-dip recession last year.
And finally, as to Obama's intention to engage Putin, even if unilaterally, perhaps the following interview by the president with CNN's Fareed Zakaria from this weekend will provide some clues. In it, rather distinctly, the US president admits that "Mr. Putin made this decision around Crimea and Ukraine — not because of some grand strategy, but essentially because he was caught off-balance by the protests in the Maidan and [Ukraine's then-President Viktor] Yanukovych then fleeing after we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine."
Of course, in a normal and democratic nation, some would even inquire why the US was brokering "power transition" deals in Ukraine - allegedly a sovereign country - and whether as some have suggested, the US was behind the bloody events of the Euromaidan from precisely one year ago.
Then again, this is neither, and is instead a nation where the crowning achievement of the current administration was passed thanks to the "lack of transparency" and courtesy of the "stupidity of the American voter"...