Hate: Is It Ignorance Being Fulfilled?

 

This afternoon in London England there was another ‘terrorist incident’, this time just outside the entrance to their Parliament Building. The last I heard before I started this commentary there are four dead and about 20 wounded. One of the dead is the attacker, another is a Police Officer.  The other two dead people were killed by being driven over by the attacker. What a typical  example of ones hate being forced upon others lives. Folks, when a person chooses to murder someone, do you think they are doing this because they are ‘happy’ with the one they decide to kill? I tend to think, no, how about you? Killing other people, outside of contract obligations such as when you are in your Nation’s Military, or in the case of self-defence, murder is usually done through or because of hate. So, today the actions of one man ended the lives of three others and harmed and scarred many others. One man’s actions caused a lot of chain reactions not just in heroic goodness of some, but in the actions of the Press there in London informing we the people of the events, step by step. Yes they did a rather good job of informing me of the steps that (England’s) has in place that security protocol is designed to function within. In this case a person filled with hate could best figure out where to form a multi-tiered attack. Think of the pure hate concept of bringing an ambulance to a bomb or mass shooting location, filled with C-4 just so you can kill as many First Responders as you possibly can. Folks, this is not the way of a rational mind, nor of a God! It is not a mind filled with any form of morality, it is a mind filled with Evil, hate. When we humans decide to degrade other human beings to a ‘less than’ human status it becomes easier and easier to degrade, hurt or even kill them.

 

Friends this type of hate that we witnessed this afternoon in London is not just a hiccup in human history that we are living in, this is the reality for humans for ever more. Europe is being forced to deal with this hatred toward their own people and toward their own cultures. Here in the U.S. we have suffered several examples of hatred also toward our people and our chosen ways of life. Yet Europe and her people are a tender underbelly to a region full of hatred, for you and your way of life. I believe that the U.S. and all of the ‘America’s’ are just starting to see the damage caused by hatred. The olden days (our version of the good old days), they’re gone, they are not going to return, but why not? The answer is hatred folks. Hatred has a great helpmate which also causes so much heartache and that is ignorance. No one on this planet will ever have a totally unmonitored lifestyle again, nor will we ever be free of people hating you/us. Welcome to the new world everyone, the one filled with unending security measures brought on because of threats that are real or imagined. You see, fear caused by hatred can easily be  duplicated in the one who fears as a way to grow into another hate filled, ignorant, Satan serving beast. A person who is hate filled creates and early grave for themselves and those around them, and a footstool in Hell.

Freak accident at Ghana waterfall kills at least 18

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Freak accident at Ghana waterfall kills at least 18

Rescuers search for survivors trapped underwater after a tree fell at Kintampo waterfall in Ghana on March 19, 2017.

(CNN)A freak accident at a popular waterfall in Ghana has killed at least 18 people, according to local authorities.

A huge tree appears to have fallen amid a brutal storm trapping swimmers at the base of Kintampo waterfalls in the country’s Brong Ahafo region on Sunday afternoon, Kintampo District Police commander chief Desmond Owusu Boampong told CNN.
14 students from Wenchi Methodist Senior High School in Ghana are among the 18 people killed, Boampong added. The students were on an excursion to the popular spot at the time of the incident, another police spokesperson said.
Authorities said a further 22 individuals are currently being treated at a local hospital for injuries sustained in the accident.
Emergency teams — comprised of both local Ghana police and the Ghana National Fire Service — responded to the scene shortly after to rescue the trapped victims and aid the injured.
Eyewitnesses told local police that the incident happened around 4 p.m. (12 p.m. ET) during a severe rainstorm which caused three large trees to fall to the ground.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has offered his condolences on Twitter.
“I have learned with great sadness, the unfortunate incident that occurred at Kintampo Waterfalls yesterday. (1/2)”
Following up with a second post, he added: “My deepest condolences to the families of all those affected by this unfortunate and tragic incident. (2/2)”
Kintampo waterfalls — one of the highest in the country — is located in Ghana’s Brong Ahafo region, around 400 kilometers (almost 250 miles) north of the capital, Accra. Situated on the Pumpum River, it is one of the most visited tourist sites in the country.

31 Killed When Airstrike Hits Refugee Boat Near Yemen’s Coast

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

31 Killed When Airstrike Hits Refugee Boat Near Yemen’s Coast

SANAA, Yemen — A boat packed with Somali migrants came under attack overnight off Yemen’s coast close to a strategic Red Sea strait, in an incident that killed 31 people, a U.N. agency and a Yemeni medical official said Friday.

According to the International Organization for Migration, the victims carried UNHCR papers. Laurent De Boeck, the IOM chief in Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, said the agency believes all the people on board the stricken vessel were refugees but it was not immediately clear where they came from in Somalia.

The SABA news agency in Yemen, run by the country’s Shiite rebels, said the attack was an airstrike that took place off the coast of Hodeida province, close to the Bab al-Mandab strait. It did not say who was behind the airstrike.

De Boeck added that 77 survivors who were pulled out of the water were taken to a detention center in Hodieda. He said the IOM is in contact with the hospital, clinics, and the detention center to provide the necessary medical care the victims.

In Geneva, IOM spokesman Joel Millman told reporters that he was unable to confirm news reports indicating that an Apache helicopter gunship was responsible for the attack. “Our confirmation is that there are dozens of deaths and many dozens of survivors brought to hospitals,” he told The Associated Press.

The Saudi-led coalition, which is fighting alongside Yemen’s internationally recognized government, has accused the Shiite Houthi rebels of using Hodeida as a smuggling route for weapons. There was no immediate comment from the coalition.

The coastal province has been under heavy airstrikes over the past two years since the coalition joined the conflict in support of the government. African migrants continue to head to Yemen, a transit point to Saudi Arabia where they seek jobs and a better life.

A Yemeni medical official in Hodeida said bodies of the dead were being retrieved from the sea and taken to the morgue of a hospital in al-Thawra. Only 14 bodies had arrived at the morgue so far, the Yemeni official said, adding that women were among the dead.

There were also 25 wounded, including those who lost arms and legs, who were brought to the hospital, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak to the media.

On its Twitter account, the UNHCR said it was “appalled by this tragic incident, the latest in which civilians continue to disproportionately bear the brunt of conflict in Yemen.”

A Scourge To Human Morality: 110 Women And Children Have Starved To Death In Somalia In Last 48 Hours

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS AND THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

MAR 5 2017, 3:06 PM ET

Somalia: 110 Dead From Hunger in Past 48 Hours in Drought

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somalia’s prime minister announced Saturday that 110 people have died from hunger in the past 48 hours in a single region as a severe drought threatens millions of people across the country.

It was the first death toll announced by Somalia’s government since it declared the drought a national disaster on Tuesday. The United Nations estimates that 5 million people in this Horn of Africa nation need aid, amid warnings of a full-blown famine.

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire spoke during a meeting with the Somali National Drought Committee. The death toll he announced is from the Bay region in the southwest part of the country alone.

Somalia was one of four regions singled out by the U.N. secretary-general last month in a $4.4 billion aid appeal to avert catastrophic hunger and famine, along with northeast Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. All are connected by a thread of violent conflict, the U.N. chief said.

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, was expected to visit Somalia in the next few days.

Image: Abdullahi Mohamud, 5, cries next to his mother Sahro Mohamed Mumin, 30, and brother, Abdulrahman Mahamud, 2, as a nurse struggles to find a vein for an injection at a government run health clinic in Shada, Somalia.
Abdullahi Mohamud, 5, cries next to his mother Sahro Mohamed Mumin, 30, and brother, Abdulrahman Mahamud, 2, as a nurse struggles to find a vein for an injection at a government-run health clinic in Shada, Somalia. Andrew Renneisen / Getty Images

Thousands have been streaming into Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, in search of food aid, overwhelming local and international aid agencies. Over 7,000 internally displaced people checked into one feeding center recently.

The drought is the first crisis for Somalia’s newly elected Somali-American leader, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Previous droughts and a quarter-century of conflict, including ongoing attacks by extremist group al-Shabab, have left the country fragile. Mohamed has appealed to the international community and Somalia’s diaspora of 2 million people for help.

About 363,000 acutely malnourished children in Somalia “need urgent treatment and nutrition support, including 71,000 who are severely malnourished,” the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Famine Early Warning Systems Network has warned.

Because of a lack of clean water in many areas, there is the additional threat of cholera and other diseases, U.N. experts say. Some deaths from cholera already have been reported.

The government has said the widespread hunger “makes people vulnerable to exploitation, human rights abuses and to criminal and terrorist networks.”

The U.N. humanitarian appeal for 2017 for Somalia is $864 million to provide assistance to 3.9 million people. But the U.N. World Food Program recently requested an additional $26 million plan to respond to the drought.

Mogadishu Somalia: Car Bomb Rips Apart Open Air Market: 18 Dead And 25 Injured

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

By Feisal Omar | MOGADISHU

A blast from a suicide car bomb ripped through a market in Somali capital Mogadishu on Sunday, killing 18 people and wounding at least 25, a local official said, days after the country elected a new president.

Casualties were confirmed by Ahmed Abdulle Afrax, the mayor of Wadajir, the district of the city where the bombing happened.

“I was staying in my shop when a car came in into the market and exploded. I saw more than 20 people lying on the ground. Most of them were dead and the market was totally destroyed,” witness Abdulle Omar said.

Al Shabaab, the Islamist insurgent group that is fighting the U.N.-backed Somali government, did not immediately claim responsibility.

Al Shabaab has been able to carry out increasingly deadly bombings despite losing most of its territory in the country to African Union peacekeepers supporting Somali government.

This month, Somalia elected a new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. The dual U.S.-Somali citizen and former prime minister is better known by his nickname, “Farmajo”.

The Horn of Africa country has been torn apart by civil war since 1991. Aid agencies are warning that a severe drought has placed large swathes of the country at risk of famine.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; editing by Jane Merriman)

Rape: Is There Such A Thing As A ‘Culture’ Of Rape?

 

A couple of days ago one of our fellow Word Press Bloggers ( chanportuguesa.wordpress.com ) left me a comment about an article I had reblogged a couple of weeks before. The article I had reblogged was out of Portugal and the content matter was about a 67-year-old homeless woman who was raped and beaten by a ‘refugee’ who was from North Africa. The article said this man who is in his twenties was a person that was supposed to have been sent to Italy but Italy refused to let him in so Portugal ended up having to keep him. The articles spoke of how messed up Portugal’s political system is in that their own citizens like this 67-year-old woman were having to sleep in the streets yet the government was giving food, clothing and housing to refugees. I know that this is exactly how things are done here in the U.S. so what he was saying sounds familiar as this is how our government has operated for decades now.

 

The following comment is the reason that I thought to do this article today, they make a very good point and I promised I would do this article concerning his comment. When I had posted this reblogged article I had made a comment about the ‘rape culture’ concerning the ‘refugee’, here is the quote. “I am curious to know which culture is that? What  is your though on this article? French troops raped starving children in Central Africa.” Before I started this article I decided to look up the word rape in the online dictionary to see exactly how it is defined, the following is what it had to say. “Rape: origin of rape: Middle English/Anglo-French/Latin from 1250-1300 A.D..” Noun: unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vigina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ or other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.” The article said that this young man beat her in the face breaking several facial bones and he forced sex upon her. To me, it does sound like this young man without a doubt is guilty of what could be described as a ‘text book’ rape of this poor old lady, but this is just my opinion, others may somehow have a different opinion though.

 

Our fellow Blogger said at the end of his comment “French troops raped starving children in Central Africa.” This may be true, it may not, I do not personally know one way or the other. If this has happened it would not surprise me though. It does seem that I remember reading an article or two about a year ago where such things were mentioned, but were those articles truthful, I wasn’t there, I do not know. I also remember reading articles over the past few years where U.N. troops were blamed for this exact same crimes/sins. Were those true? Unfortunately it sounded like it was. I know that in many cultures during armed conflicts that soldiers from many different countries have used rape as a weapon against the people they are fighting against. Here in the States our ‘National Culture’ says that none of our troops would ever do such a thing, but there is always some tares among the wheat. To me, rape is a moral issue. Many will say I am wrong, it is only a physical issue, really, it is both. But if a person, soldier or not, is a moral person, they will not touch another person in this manner. What I am saying is that if a person is brought up in a religion that teaches that rape is a sin and the person who commits such a sin must be executed, a devout person of that religion will never do such harm to another person.

 

Now, back to this refugee in Portugal who raped and beat this 67-year-old homeless woman. I know that some people will jump to the conclusion that because he is from North Africa that I am coming down on African or upon Black culture, no, that is not correct. The culture I was referring to in this case is his religion which is that of Islam. I know that I just angered a lot of folks with that statement yet if you will keep reading for a couple more moments you will see more clearly why I have said that. Look at the street level of the Islamic countries, look at that culture concerning women, look at how they are treated. I know that there are some folks who believe in Islam who are educated and kind toward their wives and children so this is not a ‘blanket’ condemnation of Islam. There are good and bad people within every religion on Earth. But, think about this reality for a moment please. Think about the Islamic countries where a woman can not go out of her house without a male relative beside her. I have heard and read articles from Islamic men who believe that if a woman goes out of her house on her own she is just asking to be raped, why else would they go out alone they say. Even if they are hand in hand with their husband and they are showing more skin than a Burka allows, they are a whore. Is this a morality issue on the part of women? Or is it a maturity or moral fallacy of the men, or even of their religion that they were raised in?

 

There is no doubt that morality throughout the world is decreasing rapidly and not just in the Islamic world. Here in the States there was a time when women dressed much more modestly, and so did the men. There was a time when it was considered a sin if you could see a woman’s ankle below her dress and dresses with a v-neck which showed cleavage was scandalous. Yet there was also a time when the men always wore long-sleeved shirts and only long pants, no shorts were allowed and men never took off their shirts in public. Yet it is my assertion that those who sexually attack others are themselves very morally weak. Even if you come from a culture like Islam it is not okay for anyone to force themselves upon another person. It is an obvious truth that when you take Islamic men out of  an Islamic culture and place them in a culture like France, Italy, or Portugal that a huge amount of these morales adult male children think it is perfectly okay to assault ‘single’ women and even very young girls. The world is facing a moral decline yet this article today is only about the evil in the lack of sexual morals. We have also read several times during the past couple of years where in India where Hindu men have been gang raping young women and girls literally to death. It is rather common to hear of the rape cultures within the body of Africa where no religion seems to be at fault. Here in the States we usually only hear of cases where Priests commit these sins on young children.

 

No group is without sin because each group, each religion, is made up of individuals, we stand or fall on our individual merit, or the lack thereof. The reason that today’s article highlights the Islamic culture is because of their teachings. Not so much the teachings of the Quran which is a “Book of the Saying” of the Prophet Muhammad, the huge issues are concerning the Book called the “Hadith” which is the “actions” of the Prophet Muhammad. They are taught from birth that a ‘good’ believer must emulate the actions of their Prophet. Please read this book folks, their Prophet should be the very last person that any parent would ever want their child to act like. The people of Islam know these facts, they tend to try to hide this truth from ‘the western world’. If you really wish to understand why I believe Islam teaches its male followers to perform their lives with such violence toward everyone, especially women and young girls. I know of no other major ‘religion’ that tells their followers to be so violent toward other people that is why many folks I have spoken with do not even consider Islam to be a ‘religion’, they believe that it is no more than a Demonic Cult.

Do The Skulls Of Monkeys And Neanderthals Look More Human Than Our Human Ones Do?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

“It looks like a monkey,” exclaims an excitable young boy, looking at a replica of a skull.

We are standing in a busy gallery at the Natural History Museum in London, UK. Here, a selection of skulls that once belonged to our prehistoric ancestors have been cast in metal and put on display. Children run their hands over the skulls’ heavy brows and protruding jaws.

These reconstructed faces look impassive, but a range of emotions are painted onto the visitors’ faces. One small girl looks shy as she peeks around the legs of an adult. Joy covers the faces of three boys running wildly past, anger flickers onto the face of the teacher who scolds them, and tears flood from another child who was pushed over in their haste.

The children are all living, breathing examples of how extraordinarily expressive our faces are. Human faces convey a huge range of emotion and information through subtle shifts in the muscles around our eyes and mouth. No other animal has such an expressive face.

What’s more, each of us can instantly recognise another member of our species with a glance at their face. No other species shares our flat face, high forehead, small jaw and jutting chin – not even the many human-like species that went before us.

The question is, when did humans start to look like we do today? New scientific techniques and discoveries are starting to provide answers. But they are also revealing that our distinctive facial features may be far older than many anthropologists originally believed.

Our hominin relatives all lived within the last 10 million years (Credit: Richard Gray)

Our hominin relatives all lived within the last 10 million years (Credit: Richard Gray)

“As the last surviving species of humans on the planet, it is tempting to assume our modern faces sit at the tip of our evolutionary branch,” says Chris Stringer, an anthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London, as he joins me in the gallery.

The Neanderthal face was huge, with an enormous nose

“And for a long time, that has been what the fossils seemed to indicate,” he continues. “Around 500,000 years ago, there was a fairly widespread form of Homo heidelbergensis that has a face somewhat intermediate between that of a modern human and Neanderthals. For a long time, I argued this was our common ancestor with Neanderthals.”

Stringer shows me the cast of a real H. heidelbergensis cranium that was found at Broken Hill in Zambia in the 1920s, and which is now kept safely in the museum’s fossil collection. It is the same skull that the little boy stood in front of earlier.

With a bit of guidance, it is easy to see why this species could be the common ancestor of modern humans and our extinct cousins the Neanderthals, who died out around 40,000 years ago.

The skull of a Homo heidelbergensis (Credit: Javier Trueba/MSF/Science Photo Library)

The skull of a Homo heidelbergensis (Credit: Javier Trueba/MSF/Science Photo Library)

Modern humans have small noses and our jaws sit beneath the rest of our skull. Our cheek bones are angled and each cheek has a distinctive hollow beneath the eye socket, known as the canine fossa.

In a sinkhole in the mountains, fragments of a small, flat-faced skull were unearthed

By comparison the Neanderthal face was huge, with an enormous nose and the front of the face pulled forward. Around the cheeks the skull curved outwards, rather than being hollowed out. To our eyes, this would have given them a puffy appearance. They also had a far flatter forehead than we do, while above their eyes was a pronounced double arch of the brow-ridge that hung over the rest of their face.

H. heidelbergensis had a slightly flatter face than the Neanderthal and a smaller nose, but no canine fossa. They also had an even more pronounced brow-ridge than that seen in Neanderthals.

For decades, most anthropologists agreed that Neanderthals had retained many of these features from H. heidelbergensis as they evolved and developed a more protruding jaw, while our own species went in a different direction. That was until the 1990s, when a puzzling discovery was unearthed in the Sierra de Atapuerca region of northern Spain.

Excavations at the Atapuerca site (Credit: Javier Trueba/MSF/Science Photo Library)

Excavations at the Atapuerca site (Credit: Javier Trueba/MSF/Science Photo Library)

In a sinkhole in the mountains, fragments of a small, flat-faced skull were unearthed, alongside several other bones. The remains were identified as belonging to a previously unknown species of hominin. It was called Homo antecessor.

It was assumed that it would fill out and grow into something resembling heidelbergensis

The face of this new species of human ancestor appeared to be far more like our own, and even had the distinctive hollowing of the canine fossa. Yet it lived 850,000 years ago, well before H. heidelbergensis.

At first, this apparent contradiction was hand-waved away. The Atapuerca skull belonged to a child, aged around 10 to 12 years old. It is difficult to predict what this youngster’s face would have looked like in adulthood, because as humans age their skulls grow and change shape. “It was assumed that it would fill out and grow into something resembling heidelbergensis,” says Stringer.

However, later discoveries suggest this is not the case. “We now have four fragments from antecessor adult and sub-adult skulls,” says Stringer. “It looks like they maintain the morphology we see in the child’s skull.”

Homo antecessor remains from Atapuerca (Credit: Javier Trueba/MSF/Science Photo Library)

Homo antecessor remains from Atapuerca (Credit: Javier Trueba/MSF/Science Photo Library)

It is still difficult to make direct comparisons between hominin skulls. For one thing, many are incomplete. But even setting that aside, a phenomenon known as allometry means that changes in size also lead to changes in shape, because different body parts grow at different rates.

It seems the Neanderthals are more evolved in their own direction than modern humans

To get around this problem, Jean-Jacques Hublin of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, and his colleagues have created computer models that let them “grow” skulls virtually.

“When we do this, we can explain the variation in shape between Neanderthals,” says Hublin. “But if we grow a modern human skull to the size of a Neanderthal, we don’t have something that looks like a Neanderthal. You get something different.”

Hublin thinks that modern humans have retained a lot of primitive features from our distant ancestors. “It seems the Neanderthals are more evolved in their own direction than modern humans,” he says. “They would have looked very peculiar to our eyes.”

In other words, the faces of modern humans may not be all that modern at all.

Many hominin species came before us (Credit: Richard Gray)

Many hominin species came before us (Credit: Richard Gray)

“The term ‘modern’ is somewhat misleading,” says Hublin. “When you say ‘modern’, people assume you mean ‘more evolved’, but in fact in our case it may mean ‘more primitive’.”

Our bones are continually renewed and remodelled

Hublin and his team can also use their software to mature the skulls of children, giving an idea of what they would have looked like when they became adults

When they applied it to the skull fragments of H. antecessor, they got something that looked both primitive and modern at the same time.

“The face has more prominence than modern humans,” says Hublin. “But it doesn’t have the derived features we see in the Neanderthal.”

Something even more surprising emerged when the fossilised skulls of H. antecessor were placed under a microscope.

A reconstruction of a Homo antecessor child (Credit: Richard Gray)

A reconstruction of a Homo antecessor child (Credit: Richard Gray)

Throughout life, our bones are continually renewed and remodelled. This leaves distinct patterns on the bone, which can reveal how it grew and formed. In particular, cells that deposit bone, known as osteoblasts, create a smooth surface – whereas those that absorb bone, called osteoclasts, leave it pitted with microscopic craters.

In modern humans, the area beneath the nose and around the upper jaw – known as the maxilla – is rich in cells that absorb bone. But in Neanderthals, H. heidelbergensisand other early hominins like Australopithecus, this area had lots of cells that deposit bone, causing the face to protrude forwards.

We last shared a common ancestor with Neanderthals around 700,000 years ago

“Modern humans show widespread areas of resorption all over the maxilla,” says Rodrigo Lacruz of the New York University College of Dentistry, who has led much of this work with his colleague Timothy Bromage.

“It is this resorption that helps maintain the human face where it is under the cranium, rather than protruding far forward.”

Similar patterns of bone resorption can be seen around the canine fossa in modern humans, whereas Neanderthal skulls show widespread bone deposition.

So when Lacruz, Bromage and their colleagues popped the skull fragments from H. antecessor under the microscope, they were staggered to find that the maxilla and canine fossa were heavily pitted. Not only that, but the pattern of bone reabsorption they noticed was similar to that seen in modern humans.

These similarities suggest that one of the key developmental changes responsible for the characteristic face of modern humans can be traced back to H. antecessor,” says Lacruz. “This is important, because antecessor not only showed this human-like growth pattern, but also shows some human-like morphology around 800,000 years ago.”

The skull of a Homo antecessor (Credit: Richard Gray)

The skull of a Homo antecessor (Credit: Richard Gray)

That date is significant, because the most recent studies of the human family tree suggest that we last shared a common ancestor with Neanderthals around 700,000 years ago – not long after H. antecessor‘s time.

Faced with all these findings, Stringer and many of his colleagues are now reassessing their ideas about the evolution of the human face.

Speaking at a conference in Madrid in September 2016, Stringer and several other leading experts argued that H. antecessor, or a close relative yet to be discovered, may be a better fit as the common ancestor of our species and Neanderthals than H. heidelbergensis.

The skull of a Homo heidelbergensis (Credit: Richard Gray)

The skull of a Homo heidelbergensis (Credit: Richard Gray)

H. antecessor is thought to have appeared at around the time of the first exodus of hominins from Africa, between 1.8 and 0.8 million years ago.

This would mean that our face is actually quite primitive compared to H. heidelbergensis and Neanderthals

Some of the oldest footprints to be found in Europe – discovered at Happisburgh in the UK in 2013 – are thought to have been left by H. antecessor.

Some Spanish remains also initially attributed to H. antecessor – a molar and part of a mandible – have been dated to 1.2 million years ago, although the team that discovered them has since become more cautious about their identity.

Under the new evolutionary tree that is being proposed, our species evolved from H. antecessor. Meanwhile, H, heidelbergensis diverged around 500,000 years ago and evolved independently, leading to Neanderthals.

“This would mean that our face is actually quite primitive compared to H. heidelbergensis and Neanderthals,” says Stringer.

If that is true, it would help to explain many of the differences we see between us and our evolutionary cousins.

The skull of a Neanderthal (Credit: E. R. Degginger/Science Photo Library)

The skull of a Neanderthal (Credit: E. R. Degginger/Science Photo Library)

While modern humans and Neanderthals both evolved big brains, made tools, hunted, used fire, created jewellery and developed culture, our bodies evolved in different ways. Even our brains were different shapes.

Something in those archaic hominins required them to have a large nose

Paul O’Higgins of the University of York, with Ricardo Godinho and Penny Spikins, has tried to unravel why these differences appeared. Using engineering principles, they have analysed the fossilised remains of prehistoric hominins, and modern humans, using 3D computer models.

The team was surprised to find that, despite their big jaws, H. heidelbergensis were much less efficient at biting than modern humans with our smaller, flatter faces. The shape of the H. heidelbergensis skull and the position of its muscles means they cannot physically generate intense bite forces, even though their bones are capable of withstanding them. Similar work has shown the same pattern in Neanderthals.

“The bone in modern humans fractures much earlier,” says O’Higgins. “It suggests efficient biting we get from our flat faces was not the result of natural selection, but something else.”

It now seems that our powerful bites are related to the size of our noses.

Neanderthal (left) and human (right) (Credit: Pascal Goetgheluck/Science Photo Library)

The skulls of a Neanderthal (left) and modern human (right) (Credit: Pascal Goetgheluck/Science Photo Library)

“Something in those archaic hominins required them to have a large nose, which requires a large face,” says O’Higgins. “Whether that was energetic demands or climate we are not entirely sure. But when you lose the need for a large nose, we found the face begins to tuck under the brain, and bite force increases incidentally.”

H. heidelbergensis and Neanderthals had gigantic brow ridges

The popular explanation for Neanderthals’ big noses is that they were an adaptation for the cold climates of the Pleistocene ice ages. The large nasal cavity would have warmed the cold air before it reached their lungs.

However, in a 2010 paper Stringer showed that Neanderthal sinuses did not lie outside the size range found in modern European humans. Instead, it appears the large noses seen in H. heidelbergensis and later Neanderthals may have appeared “by accident” through genetic drift, after they split from their common ancestor with modern humans.

Another prominent difference between modern humans and our ancestors may have vanished from our lineage for a different reason.

A reconstruction of a Neanderthal face, with a large brow ridge (Credit: Richard Gray)

A reconstruction of a Neanderthal face, with a large brow ridge (Credit: Richard Gray)

H. heidelbergensis and Neanderthals had gigantic brow ridges,” says O’Higgins. “It was like having a peaked cap on the top of the forehead.”

With big brow ridges, the movement of the eyebrows is limited

In research presented at the Madrid conference, he and his colleagues used their computer models to shave away the brow ridges, then looked at how this affected the structure of the face and skull. They found that the brow ridges did not provide any structural advantage. Instead, they believe these prominent arches of bone above the eyes may have served to signal dominance to other members of the species, much like the huge antlers of modern male moose.

Stringer has also suggested this, comparing ancestral hominins to olive baboons. These monkeys raise their eyebrows as part of their dominance displays. Similarly, mandrills also use bright colours on their eyebrows and snouts to indicate their rank in their group.

At the 2016 meeting, O’Higgins and his colleagues presented preliminary findings suggesting that, when our ancestors lost these aggressive-looking brow ridges, they gained a subtler form of communication.

Olive baboons (Papio anubis) (Credit: Frans Lanting, Mint Images/Science Photo Library)

Olive baboons (Papio anubis) also have large brow ridges (Credit: Frans Lanting, Mint Images/Science Photo Library)

“With big brow ridges, the movement of the eyebrows is limited,” says O’Higgins. But that changes when the ridges disappear. “When you have a flat face, you have a vertical forehead and suddenly you can move your eyebrows up and down. This means you introduce much more nuanced social communication. You can tell if someone is cross, happy or angry.”

Our faces are among our most valuable tools

If that is true, it implies that it was our status as a social, cooperative species that led us to keep our primitive faces.

Our facial expressions form a key part of our social interactions, helping us instinctively work out what someone is feeling or thinking. O’Higgins’s research suggests that we would not be able to do that if we had evolved faces like those of the Neanderthals.

Ultimately, research like this could tell us which of our hominin ancestors were able to smile, frown or show disgust with their faces as we do.

It is also a reminder that our faces are among our most valuable tools. If they were different, we could not communicate with each other as effortlessly as we do.

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Berlin Truck Attacker Shot And Killed In Milan Italy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

ISIS-linked news agency releases video of Berlin attacker swearing allegiance to the radical group

Suspected Berlin attacker killed in Milan
 
Tunisian migrant Anis Amri was shot and killed in Milan early on Dec. 23, after a massive manhunt. The 24-year-old suspect of the Berlin Christmas market attack shot a police officer in Italy before he killed in a shoot-out. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)
December 23 at 10:39 AM
BERLIN — The suspect in the Berlin Christmas market attack was shot dead Friday by an Italian police trainee after an identity check in Milan, ending an international manhunt but raising new fears as an Islamic State video purported to show the attacker calling for more bloodshed in Europe.The 24-year-old Tunisian, Anis Amri, was killed following a dramatic encounter in the Piazza I Maggio in the Sesto San Giovanni area outside Milan, after a two-man patrol stopped him for questioning around 3:15 a.m. on suspicion of burglary.One of the officers requested his identification. Amri responded by pretending to fish in his backpack for documents. Instead, he pulled a gun, shooting one officer in the shoulder.Amri, who spoke Italian, then ducked behind a car, shouting “poliziotti bastardi” — police bastards. The second patrolmen — trainee Luca Scatà — fired back, killing Amri, according to Italian officials.

“He was the most-wanted man in Europe” said Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti. “There is absolutely no doubt that the person killed is Anis Amri.”

In Germany, Federal Attorney General Peter Frank said fingerprints confirmed Amri was the man killed. But German and European authorities grappled with how Amri — who Italian authorities say traveled by train through France — managed to slip out of Berlin and make it all the way to Milan almost three days after he was named as the prime suspect.

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday thanked Italian authorities, while adding “the Amri case raises a number of questions . . . We will now press ahead and look into in how far state measures need to be changed.”

Hours after the shootout, the Islamic State-linked news agency, Amaq, released a video the purports to show Amri swearing allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State.

Speaking in black-hooded windbreaker on Berlin bridge, only 1.5 miles from the German chancellery, he called on Muslims in Europe to rise up and strike at “crusaders.”

“God willing, we will slaughter you like pigs,” he said in the video, whose date and location was not given but looked like it was filmed in winter weather.

He added, “to my brothers everywhere, fight for the sake of Allah. Protect our religion. Everyone can do this in their own way. People who can fight should fight, even in Europe.”

The authenticity of the video could not be independently confirmed, but previous material released by Amaq has been credible.

Earlier, a statement carried on Amaq described Amri as inspired by the Islamic State.

In Oueslatia, Amri’s bleak home town in Tunisia, news of his death had reached his mother, five sisters and three brothers, who until the end held hopes that the German authorities were after the wrong guy.

His 30-year old brother Walid Amri sounded distressed and was struggling to speak over the phone. Women were wailing in the background.

“This is a very difficult time for the entire family,” he said, before his voice broke.

While Amri’s death ended the hunt for the suspect who drove a truck into a teeming Christmas market on Monday, killing 12 and wounding dozens, it also raised a whole new set of questions.

Amri appeared to travel right under the noses of European authorities, through a circuitous route.

After leaving Berlin, Amri is believed to have traveled by train through the French city of Chambery and appears to have stopped in Turin, Italy, before arriving in Milan, said Alberto Nobili, coordinator of the anti-terrorism department at the district attorney’s office in Milan. Milan police say they have surveillance video placing Amri at Milan’s train station around 1 a.m.

German officials said the investigation would accelerate toward possible accomplices and the route Amri took to escape Berlin. “If there are others who are guilty or accomplices, we will hold them accountable,” Merkel said.

Nobili said Italian authorities were sharing ballistic information with the Germans to ascertain whether the gun used to shoot the Italian police officer was the same one used to slay the Polish driver whose truck Amri is believed to have hijacked on Monday before slamming into the Christmas market, killing 12 and wounding dozens.

His death in Italy also raised serious questions about the handling of the case by German authorities. German investigators only uncovered their single biggest clue — his wallet with identification left in the truck’s cabin — the following day after the attack, suggesting the delay may have facilitated his flight from Germany.

“We need to increase international collaboration against terrorism,” Gentiloni said.

Minniti said he had phoned the wounded Italian officer, Cristian Movio, and Scatà, an agent-in-training. Already, Facebook sites and other social media sites were popping up, including ““give Luca Scatà a medal” and “Luca Scatà world HERO.”

“Thanks to him Italians can have a Merry Christmas,” Minniti said.

By heading to Italy, Amri was, to some extent, retracing his steps. He had first arrived in Europe in April 2011 on the Italian island of Lampedusa, and spent four years in jail in Sicily, where Italian officials believe he was radicalized.

The news of Amri’s death came as German police said they had thwarted yet another terrorist attack planned against a shopping mall and arrested two brothers from Kosovo.

Authorities detained the brothers, aged 28 and 31, after receiving an intelligence tip-off, according to North Rhine Westphalia police. Security at the Centro Mall in the western German city of Oberhausen has been beefed up.

Amri had a criminal record in Europe and his native Tunisia, where he was accused of hijacking a van with a gang of thieves. Italian authorities jailed him in 2011 for arson and violent assault at his migrant reception center for minors on the isle of Sicily.

There, his family noted, the boy who once drank alcohol — and never went to mosque — suddenly got religion.

He began to pray, asking his family to send him religious books. The Italian Bureau of Prisons submitted a report to a government ­anti-terrorism commission on Amri’s rapid radicalization, warning that he was embracing dangerous ideas of Islamist ­extremism and had threatened Christian inmates, according to an Italian government official with knowledge of the situation. The dossier was first reported by ANSA, the state-run Italian news service.

The Italians tried to deport Amri but could not. They sent his fingerprints and photo to the Tunisian consulate, but the authorities there refused to recognize Amri as a citizen. The Italians, officials there say, could not even establish his true identity. Italy’s solution: After four years in jail, they released him anyway — giving him seven days to leave the country.

He had previously known links to Islamist extremists, and German efforts to deport him also failed because Tunisia had initially refused to take him back.

In Germany, the case was already having serious repercussions — with talk of pushing through stricter legislation on the deportation of migrants, particularly those with criminal records. The Germans are especially seeking to deport North Africans who have claimed asylum, and whose countries of origin have refused to take them back.

Merkel said Wednesday she had earlier spoken on the phone with Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi.

“I told the president that we have to significantly speed up the return process and continue to increase the number of returnees.” she said. “We can be relieved at the end of this week that an acute danger has ended. The general threat of terrorism, however, continues to exist, as it has for many years.”

Pitrelli reported from Rome. Stephanie Kirchner in Berlin contributed to this report.

Blast at Egyptian Coptic cathedral kills at least 25

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Blast at Egyptian Coptic cathedral kills at least 25

December 11 at 4:04 PM
A bomb ripped through Cairo’s Coptic cathedral complex during Sunday Mass, killing at least 25 people and injuring 49, and delivering the bloodiest attack on Egypt’s Christian minority in recent years, according to Egyptian officials and Christian community leaders.The explosion unfolded inside St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral at the 100-year-old Botrosiya Church, also known as the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, shortly after the 200 or so worshipers had stopped reading Bible verses and the priest was getting to ready to start his sermon, witnesses said.About 9:45 a.m., “everything turned black suddenly,” Qelliny Farag said.

As of Sunday evening, there had been no claims of responsibility. But suspicion immediately fell on Islamist extremists, including Egypt’s Islamic State branch, who have staged numerous attacks across the country this year targeting soldiers, police and government officials. Sunday’s carnage came less than 48 hours after a bomb killed six police officers and injured an additional three on a road leading to Egypt’s famed Great Pyramids complex.

The bombing came on a public holiday here, commemorating the birthday of the prophet Muhammad.

Coptic Christians gather at site of blast that killed 25 in Cairo

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Voicing anger toward the police and Egyptian government, Coptic Christians demonstrate outside the Coptic cathedral complex in Cairo where an explosion killed at least 25 and injured 49 on Dec. 11. (Heba Mahfouz / The Washington Post)

Although that is a Muslim celebration, the church was filled with more than the usual number of congregants taking advantage of the day off.

When the bomb detonated, Farag, 80, was seated on the left side of the church. His wife, Samiha Tawfik, was on the right side, along with the other female congregants.

“I could not see anything,” Farag said. “We were all in shock, covered in dust, running through corpses that got thrown by the intensity of the blast.”

Unable to breathe from the dust, his head pounding, he stumbled around the pews. Soon, he began to see, and understand, what had happened.

“A minute passed by and I started to see flesh scattered everywhere around us,” he said. “Even the ceiling had collapsed.”

He couldn’t find his wife.

Pattern of violence

Egypt’s Orthodox Coptic Christian community, which makes up 10 percent of the population, has long felt discrimination at the hands of the country’s Muslims, as well as successive secular but authoritarian regimes. Attacks on Christians have intensified since the 2011 populist revolt that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. At least 26 sectarian assaults have targeted the community this year alone, according to human rights activists.

Sunday’s bombing was the gravest sectarian attack on Christians in recent years. The cathedral complex houses the headquarters of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt, as well as the home of its leader, Pope Tawadros II.

Over the past six years, numerous attacks on Christians have left scores dead. On Jan. 1, 2011, the Church of Saints Mark and Peter in the northern city of Alexandria was bombed, killing 23 people as they left the New Year’s Day service. Ten months later, Egypt’s security forces killed 28 Christians protesting the demolition of a church, claiming the protesters first attacked them.

In 2013, Christians were targeted in a spate of attacks after Egypt’s elected Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, was ousted in a military coup.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former general who led the coup, condemned Sunday’s attack and declared three days of mourning.

“Vicious terrorism is being waged against the country’s Copts and Muslims,” he was quoted as saying on local television networks. “Egypt will emerge stronger and more united from this situation.”

In Washington, the State Department said that the “United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack today on Christian worshipers outside St. Mark’s Cathedral.” In New York, the U.N. Security Council likewise condemned “the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack.”

Analysts focusing on Egypt’s religious divides said the government has made previous promises to apprehend the perpetrators of hate crimes. But it has shown few results.

“Sectarian tensions in Egypt is ongoing and this attack, although shocking in its scope, is not an aberration,” said Amira Mikhail, a fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. “Despite the shift in public rhetoric by President Sisi in which he has called for religious reform and has visited the cathedral on several occasions, little has been done to actually change the institutionalized sectarianism in the government and the continued violence perpetrated by nonstate actors.”

Some reports on local television networks suggested that a bomb was concealed inside a handbag in a section of the church designated for female worshipers. A large proportion of the victims were women, according to local reports.

Senior Egyptian officials, including the prime minister and interior minister, arrived at the church shortly after the attack. They were greeted by a small group of angry protesters who railed against the continual attacks on Christians, as well as security forces’ failure to stop the attacks.

“The police are thugs,” some in the crowd chanted.

“The people demand the removal of the regime,” others shouted.

Farag and other witnesses said they noticed no police or guards at the entrance to the church, although there is typically a heavy security presence at the cathedral to provide protection for the pope.

A frantic search

At El-Demerdash Hospital, where most of the victims were taken, doctors said the bulk of the casualties were women and children, most suffering from lacerations.

Farag, too, was there. He was searching for his wife.

“I asked everywhere, there is no trace of her,” he said, his face masked with anguish. “I think she was blown away to pieces and they cannot even find her corpse.”

Eyes filling with tears, he recalled how he had told his wife that he was tired and asked her if they could skip the service.

“But she told me not to give in to my weakness, and insisted we go to the mass today,” he said Farag, as he sat with other family members.

Nearby, Muslims and Christians gathered, some to donate blood, others to comfort their loved ones and check on the injured.

In a wheelchair near the hospital entrance, 65-year-old Tahany Gobraiel was one of the fortunate ones. She had attended the Mass with her daughter and a cousin, Suad Atta.

“Only two benches separated me from my cousin Suad,” ­Gobraiel said. “She was in the front bench near the altar, and I was seated two benches behind her. She died, while my daughter and I were only injured.”

Atta, also 65, had insisted on attending the Mass to commemorate her late husband. Sunday marked one year since his death.

As darkness enveloped the city, nearly eight hours after the bombing, Farag finally found his wife. She was in the intensive care unit of the hospital, battling for her life.

Carol Morello in Washington contributed to this report.

Biblical sheep in Israel for first time in millennia

119 Jacob’s sheep, a heritage breed mentioned in Genesis, began arriving last week

Source: Biblical sheep in Israel for first time in millennia  (This article is the courtesy of the Times of Israel News Paper)  (Please click the ‘source link’ above to get the full story)

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