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Monday, April 17, 2017

Russia Moves Troops Within Striking Distance of South Korea

Mike Pence The "Bad Cop" : End Of Strategic Patience With North Korea

Lavrov schools Tillerson in basic lessons of history

Could Scientists Clone Jesus? Professors Say They Are “Closing In On The DNA Of Christ”

Image result for jesus dna

It was the first stop on an extraordinary journey. On a bright but bitterly cold January afternoon earlier this year, I found myself on a small island in the Black Sea, just off Sozopol on the east coast of Bulgaria. Sveti Ivanhas long been a destination for travellers: it boasted a temple of Apollo in ancient times. But I was there to speak to an old Bulgarian archaeologist about the most important find of his career.

In 2010, Kasimir Popkonstantinov discovered what he believes are the bones of one of the most famous of all saints: John the Baptist. I was interested in what DNA analysis could tell us about these bones, and other ones. Together with biblical scholar Joe Basile, I was travelling around the world filming a documentary about the religious and scientific evidence linking archaeological artefacts to Jesus Christ himself.

Popkonstantinov made his discovery when excavating a sixth centurychurch on the island, built on top of a basilica from the century before. As he carefully scraped through the mud where the altar would have been, he came across a stone slab and was amazed to find a small marble box underneath. He immediately knew what it was. For a church to be consecrated in this part of Europe in the fifth century, it needed to contain a relic from a holy saint or religious person. This box, known as a reliquary, would have housed such a relic.

He continued to dig around and found another, smaller box about a metre away. On the edge of the inferior box was an inscription: “May God save you, servant Thomas. To Saint John.” When Kasimir later opened the reliquary, he found five bone fragments. The epitaph on the smaller box, probably used to carry the bones when travelling, was the key piece of evidence that led him to believe that the bones could perhaps be those of John the Baptist. The finding is hugely important, partly because John the Baptist was both a disciple of Jesus and his cousin – meaning they would share DNA.

Early morning on the Mount of Olives looking over the old city of Jeruasalem. George Busby

Thanks to a number of scientific advances, the field of ancient DNA – the extraction and analysis of genetic material from bones and fossils of organisms dug up out of the ground – is booming. We now have DNA sequences from hundreds of people who are long since dead, and analysis of these sequences is further refining our understanding of human history.
DNA as proof of identity

I was initially sceptical about what the Bulgarian bones could teach us. For a start, no DNA test can prove that these were bits of John the Baptist, Jesus or any other specific person. We can’t extract and analyse an unknown DNA sample and magically say that it belonged to this or that historical character. To do that, we’d need to have a DNA sample that unambiguously came from John the Baptist that we could compare the bones to. So sequencing DNA in itself is not going to be too helpful.

Another major consideration is the risk of contamination. In an ideal scenario, ancient material we want to use for genetic analysis should be untouched by anyone since that person had died. The best ancient samples are dug out of the ground, put into a bag, and then sent straight to an ancient DNA lab. In the 500 years between John’s death and the bones being sealed in the church, any number of people could have handled them and left their DNA behind.

But this doesn’t mean that all is lost. DNA degrades over time, so we can test any DNA extracted from ancient remains for telltale signs of degradation. That means we can differentiate modern contamination from ancient genomes. We can also try to take DNA from the inside of bonesand sequence DNA from the people who are known to have come into contact with the artefacts to help tell the ancient DNA and modern contaminants apart.
What DNA can tell you

DNA should be used as an additional tool to archaeology. In my opinion, there are two clear benefits that the analysis of DNA can bring to this particular party. We can compare the DNA from a relic to DNA from other relics. If we find other relics purported to be from John the Baptist, or a close relative like Jesus, then we could use genetics to compare the two to see if they are likely to have come from the same or related people. Also, we have growing collections of DNA sampled from people around the world, which we can use to make a guess on the geographical origins of the relics.

So what did the Bulgarian bones tell us? Radio carbon dating suggested they were indeed 2,000 years old. Their DNA sequence appeared to show an affinity to modern day Middle Eastern populations.

Unfortunately, when I spoke to the geneticist who did the research, he told me they had since discovered that the DNA sequence matched the person who’d actually extracted the bone material – meaning it was more than likely contamination. And they only had a small amount of material to work with, so it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to use DNA to get to the bottom of who the bones belonged to.
Material from the James Ossuary, which some believe carried the remains of Jesus’s brother, is currently being sequenced by geneticists. English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

However, I also visited other scientists who had other relics, where DNA analysis could be possible. For example, recent research identified multiple people’s DNA on the The Turin Shroud, which is a piece of cloth that some believe wrapped Jesus when he was taken down from the cross.

In Jerusalem, we also met with a man who is in the process of sequencing material from the James Ossuary, a first century chalk box which may have held the bones of Jesus’s brother. We also met an archaeologist in Israel with several crucifixion nails, one of which was still embedded in a poor crucified soul’s heel bone. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to extract DNA from rusty iron.

While DNA analysis can’t prove that these are the artefacts some believe them to be, the hope is that these and other items could one day provide insight into the relationships between them and their modern descendants. Let’s assume for a moment that contamination could be completely ruled out and that DNA analysis demonstrated that DNA from the Shroud was a familial match to DNA from the James Ossuary – and that they are both related to the Bulgarian bones. Could this then have been the DNA of Jesus and his family?

Credit to theconversation.com


China, Russia Dispatch Naval Vessels To Track USS Carl Vinson To Korean Peninsula

Video has been released allegedly showing a mass military mobilization in Vladivostok, Russia, just eight miles from the border with North Korea, as the world edges towards war.

As The Express reports, the dramatic move, unconfirmed by the Russian government, was spotted by residents in the border city and posted on social media.
According to the reports, a military convoy of eight surface-to-air missiles, part of Russian Air Defence, were on the move.

The S400 anti-aircraft missiles were moved to Vladivostok, where Vladimir Putin already has a major navy base.
Furthermore, As the following footage shows (beginning at aorund 1:20 below) Chinese military assets are also being moved to the North Korean border...

In addition to military forces, AP reports China and Russia have dispatched intelligence-gathering vessels from their navies to chase the USS Carl Vinson nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is heading toward waters near the Korean Peninsula, multiple sources of the Japanese government revealed to The Yomiuri Shimbun.
It appears that both countries aim to probe the movements of the United States, which is showing a stance of not excluding military action against North Korea. The Self-Defense Forces are strengthening warning and surveillance activities in the waters and airspace around the area, according to the sources.
The aircraft carrier strike group, composed of the Carl Vinson at its core with guided-missile destroyers and other vessels, is understood to be around the East China Sea and heading north toward waters near the Korean Peninsula.
The dispatch of the intelligence-gathering vessels appears to be partly aimed at sending a warning signal to the United States.
Yonhap reports that the USS Carl Vinson is expected to reach South Korea's east coast by April 25th.

Credit to Zero Hedge

"Out Of Cash" - More Than 90% Of India ATMs Run Dry

Five months have passed since the demonetisation drive, but the people of India continue to face a shortage of cash in banks and ATMs. The Times of India reports that more than 90% of the ATMs in the northern region do not have cash, and in the southern states as many as 65% of ATMs have run dry.
Speaking to TOI, State Bank of India (SBI) deputy general manager Ajoy Kumar Pandit said the customers are losing confidence in them due to the crisis. "Nearly 70 per cent of our 648 ATMs in the three districts are out of cash. The rest will also become dry in the next few days as we do not have cash to refill the machines. We are helpless from our side," he said.
A banking source said the RBI has diverted most of the cash to north India due to the recent elections. This has affected the southern parts of the country. "The government's intention is to encourage smart payment systems, but the infrastructure is not up to the mark," the source said. Many ATMs have not been upgraded with the new software required for handling the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 denominations, the source added.
India.com notes that the worst hit is the common man, who has been suffering the pinch even as the government has made an effort to make available sufficient cash in ATMs across the nation. The post-demonetisation woes continue to haunt the common man in the country as many ATMs in metro cities seem to be running low on cash for the last one week.
"No Cash" signs hang across ATMs across India...
One of the reasons why ATMs would be short of cash is because of the charges that have been levied in the coming months on ATM withdrawals. Currently, a customer has to pay Rs 20 per ATM withdrawal after five free transactions a month from a bank one has an account in.  Customers using ATMs of banks they don’t have an account in are charged Rs 20 after three free withdrawals. However, banking officials said on Thursday that banks may slash the number of free ATM withdrawals or hike the charges levied to discourage people from using cash.
According to a survey conducted by the LocalCircles citizen engagement platform, it was reported that the availability of cash at ATMs has worsened in the last two months or so in many parts of the country. It reported that eighty-three per cent citizens who visited ATMs last week in Hyderabad, could not find the cash while it was 69 per cent in Pune.
C.H. Venkatachalam, general secretary of All India Bank Employees Association was quoted by Free Press Journal saying, “Actually, the problem is directly linked to demonetisation. Many ATMs are yet to be recalibrated. Plus, people have started hoarding Rs 2,000 notes. There is still a huge mismatch in the demand and supply of currency notes.” Meanwhile, Ashish Gupta, research analyst at Credit Suisse was quoted by Financial Times saying, “The government wants to slow down the cash money in the economy. They want the new equilibrium level in the economy to be lower”.

Credit to Zero Hedge