Hebron shooter Azaria to be freed in May



Hebron shooter Azaria to be freed in May after sentence reduction

IDF’s parole board orders former soldier released after he completes two-thirds of his 14-month prison term

Former IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the West Bank city of Hebron, appears before a parole board in the army's Tel Aviv headquarters on March 14, 2018. (Flash90)

Former IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in the West Bank city of Hebron, appears before a parole board in the army’s Tel Aviv headquarters on March 14, 2018. (Flash90)

The army’s prison parole board on Monday ordered Elor Azaria, a former IDF soldier convicted of manslaughter, released from prison in May, when he will have served two-thirds of his sentence.

Azaria is to be released on May 10, after completing 10 months of his 14-month sentence for killing an incapacitated Palestinian attacker in the West Bank city of Hebron in 2016, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The development came after last week Azaria appeared before the military parole board to ask for early release from prison, having served half of his sentence — the minimum amount of time before such a request can be made in the army criminal system. In civilian proceedings, convicts have to serve two-thirds of their sentence before seeking parole.

During the hearing, military prosecutors said they would agree to the early release.

Azaria, the so-called “Hebron shooter,” was found guilty last year of killing Abdel Fattah al-Sharif, who several minutes earlier had attacked two IDF soldiers with a knife. In February 2017, Azaria was sentenced to an 18-month prison term, which IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot later shortened by four months. Azaria began serving his prison term on August 9.

During last Wednesday’s proceedings, which took place in the army’s Tel Aviv headquarters, Azaria’s attorney Yoram Sheftel argued that his client had behaved well in prison.

Military prosecutors, meanwhile, said the soldier’s punishment had already been limited by the judges in his initial sentence and then shortened by Eisenkot, so a further reduction was not warranted at this time. Still, they said they would not oppose a parole request in two months’ time, after Azaria had served two-thirds of his sentence.

An IDF soldier loading his weapon before he appears to shoot an unarmed, prone Palestinian assailant in the head following a stabbing attack in Hebron on March 24, 2016. (Screen capture: B’Tselem)

Azaria has never expressed regret for his actions, something the military prosecutors also noted in their arguments. Then-Sgt. Azaria shot and killed Sharif on March 24, 2016, some 11 minutes after Sharif had been shot and disarmed when he and another Palestinian man attacked two IDF soldiers.

Azaria maintained that he opened fire because he believed Sharif had a bomb hidden under his clothes. A military court, however, dismissed that claim, citing the soldier’s nonchalance in the moments before he killed Sharif, and his statements to fellow soldiers that the assailant deserved to die for attacking his comrades.

The Hebron shooter case revealed deep divisions in Israeli society over the army’s activities in the West Bank, with some — mostly on the right — arguing that he had behaved heroically in killing the Palestinian assailant, while others said he had broken the law and deserved a harsher sentence than he received.

The former soldier — he was released from the military part of the way through his trial — garnered support from leading politicians, who expressed hope that they could sway President Reuven Rivlin to grant Azaria clemency.

In November 2017, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Welfare Minister Haim Katz, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Interior Minister Aryeh Deri and approximately 50 other lawmakers signed a petition saying that Azaria should be released.

“The Azaria affair is tearing Israeli society apart, creating polarization and division, and your decision can put an end to all this and calm the discourse,” the petition read. “It is impossible to ignore the feelings of the general public, that Elor Azaria is a scapegoat who has become a symbol and paid an especially high price.”


French consular employee charged in Gaza gun-running scheme



French consular employee charged in Gaza gun-running scheme

Prosecutors say Romain Franck knew he could take advantage of lax checks on his diplomatic vehicle to spirit dozens of pistols and two rifles from the Strip to the West Bank

French consulate worker Romain Franck, a French employee of France's Consulate in Jerusalem, covers his face during a hearing at the district court in in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, March 19, 2018. (Sebastian Scheiner/AP)

French consulate worker Romain Franck, a French employee of France’s Consulate in Jerusalem, covers his face during a hearing at the district court in in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, March 19, 2018. (Sebastian Scheiner/AP)

An employee at the French consulate in Jerusalem was indicted on Monday for using a diplomatic vehicle to smuggle dozens of guns from Gaza to the West Bank.

In addition to Romain Franck, five residents of the West Bank and East Jerusalem were also charged. A total of nine suspects have been arrested in the case.

According to the indictment, Franck, 24, was aware of the reduced security checks for vehicles with diplomatic license plates, which he allegedly used to illegally transport weapons out of Gaza and into the West Bank.

Franck, who worked as a driver at the consulate, spoke through an interpreter to confirm his identity during the brief court appearance. Two French diplomats were at the court to monitor the proceedings.

He allegedly made five smuggling runs, bringing 70 pistols and two assault rifles to the West Bank from a Palestinian employee at the French Cultural Center in Gaza, Zuheir Abed Abdeen. A contact in the West Bank then sold the weapons to other arms dealers, investigators say.

French consulate in Jerusalem employee Romain Franck. (Shin Bet)

Franck was already transporting various valuables in his car on behalf of Abdeen when in September 2017 the Palestinian propositioned him to join a gun-running ring run by Gaza resident Mahmad Jamil al-Haladi, the indictment said.

Franck later brought Mahmad Siad, an Israeli citizen employed at the French consulate in Jerusalem, into the operation and the two would allegedly travel together to deliver the weapons in the West Bank.

Prosecutors say Franck would usually take delivery of the guns from Aabdin and then place them in the trunk of his vehicle. At the border checks he would then falsely declare that all of the bags belonged to him or his passengers and that he was not carrying any weapons.

He was paid several thousand shekels for each delivery, depending on the number of guns he carried across the border.

The Shin Bet security agency said Franck was motivated by financial gain and that his superiors at the French consulate in Jerusalem were unaware of his actions. He was arrested February 15, but the case only became public on Sunday.

Details of the case were released hours ahead of the arraignment Monday, days before French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was set to visit Israel.

Among the others indicted Monday were East Jerusalem residents Moufak al-Ajluni and Mohamed Katout.

French national Romain Franck (R), 24, a worker at the French consulate, and Palestinians Moufak al-Ajluni (L) and Mohamed Katout (C) appear in court in the Israeli city of Haifa on March 19, 2018, to face charges of smuggling guns from Gaza (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

The Foreign Ministry earlier denounced the “very serious” arms smuggling charges against Franck but said the incident would not compromise diplomatic ties between the two countries.

“This is a very grave incident in which the immunity and privileges granted to foreign missions in Israel was cynically exploited for smuggling,” a Shin Bet official said, adding the weapons could have been used in attacks on civilians and security forces.

Echoing the Shin Bet, the Foreign Ministry said “this is a very serious incident which we are treating severely.”

It also thanked French authorities for cooperating with the investigation.

“The ties with France are excellent and the affair doesn’t adversely affect them,” the Foreign Ministry stressed.

A spokesman for France’s embassy in Israel said on Sunday that “we take this case very seriously and are in close contact with the Israeli authorities.”

Franck “has benefited and continues to enjoy the consular protection” provided to French nationals, he said.

According to the Le Monde daily, France won’t block prosecution, but Franck may serve his sentence in France and not Israel.

AFP contributed to this report.


Something shocking just happened deep in space



Something shocking just happened deep in space

Something shocking just happened deep in space

Astronomers have detected what they are calling the strong burst of radio waves observed in space since all the way back in 2007.

An incredible strong fast radio burst from deep in outer space, the strongest recorded since 2007, has stunned scientists who are trying to figure out the cause. FRBs refer to radio waves that flash from some distsnace point in space for just a few milliseconds, and they can contain as much energy as 500 million suns.

They are so mysterious because they are impossible to predict, or trace to an individual source. They happen without warning and last for just a few milliseconds. These lastest bursts were detected by the Parkes radio telescope in Australia, once on March 1, again on March 9, and a third time on March 11.

The strongest was the one on March 9, which hit 411 on the signal to noise ratio. As comparison, the previous ratio record was 90, and many FRBs are less than 20. Scientists don’t know much about FRBs or what causes them, although they speculate incredibly powerful events like the collision of black holes or neutron stars might cause them.

The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia on FRBs.

In radio astronomy, a fast radio burst (FRB) is a high-energy astrophysical phenomenon of unknown origin manifested as a transient radio pulse lasting only a few milliseconds. The first FRB was discovered by Duncan Lorimer and his student David Narkevic in 2007 when they were looking through archival pulsar survey data, and it is therefore commonly referred to as Lorimer Burst. Many FRBs have since been found, including a repeating FRB.

When the FRBs are polarized, it indicates that they are emitted from a source contained within an extremely powerful magnetic field.[5] The origin of the FRBs has yet to be determined; proposals for its origin range from a rapidly rotating neutron star and a black hole to extraterrestrial intelligence.

The first FRB, the Lorimer Burst FRB 010724, was discovered in 2007 when Duncan Lorimer assigned his student David Narkevic to look through archival data taken in 2001 by the Parkes radio dish in Australia.[13] Analysis of the survey data found a 30-jansky dispersed burst which occurred on 24 July 2001,[11] less than 5 milliseconds in duration, located 3° from the Small Magellanic Cloud. The reported burst properties argue against a physical association with the Milky Way galaxy or the Small Magellanic Cloud. The burst became known as the Lorimer Burst.[14] The discoverers argue that current models for the free electron content in the universe imply that the burst is less than 1 gigaparsec distant. The fact that no further bursts were seen in 90 hours of additional observations implies that it was a singular event such as a supernova or merger of relativistic objects.[11] It is suggested that hundreds of similar events could occur every day and, if detected, could serve as cosmological probes.

Because of the isolated nature of the observed phenomenon, the nature of the source remains speculative. As of 2016, there is no generally accepted explanation. The emission region is estimated to be no larger than a few hundred kilometers (because of causality). If the bursts come from cosmological distances, their sources must be very bright.

One possible explanation would be a collision between very dense objects like merging black holes or neutron stars. It has been suggested that there is a connection to gamma-ray bursts. Some have speculated that these signals might be artificial in origin, that they may be signs of extraterrestrial intelligence.

In 2007, just after the publication of the e-print with the first discovery, it was proposed that fast radio bursts could be related to hyperflares of magnetars. In 2015 three studies supported the magnetar hypothesis.

Blitzars were proposed in 2013 as an explanation.[51] In 2014 it was suggested that following dark matter-induced collapse of pulsars,[62] the resulting expulsion of the pulsar magnetospheres could be the source of fast radio bursts.[63] In 2016 the collapse of the magnetospheres of Kerr-Newman black holes are proposed to explain the origin of the FRBs’ “afterglow” and the weak gamma-ray transient 0.4 s after GW 150914. It has also been proposed that if fast radio bursts originate in black hole explosions, FRBs would be the first detection of quantum gravity effects.

Repeated bursts of FRB 121102 have initiated multiple origin hypotheses.[67] A coherent emission phenomenon known as superradiance, which involves large-scale entangled quantum mechanical states possibly arising in environments such as active galactic nuclei, has been proposed to explain these and other associated observations with FRBs (e.g. high event rate, variable intensity profiles).

As anniversaries loom, Palestinian ‘lone wolf’ attacks likely to gain traction



As anniversaries loom, Palestinian ‘lone wolf’ attacks likely to gain traction

Upcoming Land Day and Nakba Day protests set stage for violence engineered by Hamas from Gaza and abroad

Avi Issacharoff
Palestinians wave Hamas flags as they celebrate the prisoner swap deal reached between Israel and Hamas in East Jerusalem. Oct 18, 2011.(Kobi Gideon / Flash90)

Palestinians wave Hamas flags as they celebrate the prisoner swap deal reached between Israel and Hamas in East Jerusalem. Oct 18, 2011.(Kobi Gideon / Flash90)

The data available to Israel’s security establishment regarding the thwarting of so-called Palestinian “lone wolf attacks” is telling.

In 2017 alone, more than 1,300 such attacks —  those without the support or operational backing of any terror group — were prevented. This marked a significant decline as compared to 2016, when more than 2,200 lone-wolf attacks were foiled.

But this year’s figures already show a persistent trend, with some 200 lone wolf attacks attempted in the past two months alone.

And while the data suggests the motivation among young Palestinians to carry out such attacks is on the decline, Friday’s attack demonstrated that it is still very much present, and liable to be lethal.

According to the Shin Bet security service, the interrogation of the car-rammer Ala Qabha along with other findings indicate it was a nationalistically motivated attack.

Israeli soldiers inspect a car at the scene where two Israeli soldiers were killed and another two were injured in a car-ramming terror attack near Mevo Dotan, in the West Bank, March 16, 2018. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

Qabha, who was released from Israeli prison just under a year ago, carried out the attack on the 100-day anniversary of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a day in which several Palestinian terror organizations — led by Hamas — sought to exact a price in blood.

Unfortunately, the coming months have no shortage of such anniversaries, and the motivation among Palestinians to carry out terror attacks will only increase.

At the end of this month, huge protests are being planned for “Land Day” under the theme of “processions of the great return,” which will likely feature Palestinians storming the West Bank security barrier as well as Israel’s border with Gaza.

These protests will be followed by similar events to commemorate Nakba (“Catastrophe”) Day — how Palestinians refer to Israel’s Independence Day — which falls around the same time as the holy month of Ramadan this year.

On top of all of these “festive” occasions, there are additional conditions in place that will surely increase motivation for attacks on the Palestinian side, especially among its youth: the lack of a diplomatic horizon, the dearth of hope, the leadership crisis on the Palestinian side, Israeli settlement construction, and the failure of the internal Palestinian reconciliation process.

Each of these conditions have been seen to amplify Palestinian despair.

Many times, however, this despair leads — as we have seen in recent years — to apathy. Accordingly, most West Bank Palestinians have largely remained in their homes, even during the most tense commemoration days.

On the other hand, this despair also motivates quite a few young Palestinians to want to carry out terror attacks: car-rammings, stabbings, shootings. And while obtaining the improvised weapons used in these attacks is not as easy as it used to be, there are still enough weapons in the West Bank to carry out shootings, without any terrorist organizational backing.

Hamas attempts to step up attacks

Along with these lone wolf attacks, one must add the organized effort — primarily from Hamas — to ignite the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority has maintained its security coordination with Israel and has continued to prevent a considerable amount of attacks.

PA security forces have taken a number of steps in recent years to prevent harm to Israelis, while simultaneously targeting sources of funding from Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Ahmad Nassar Jarrar, 22, head of the terror cell who shot dead Rabbi Raziel Shevach in the West Bank on January 9 (Twitter)

However, Hamas, along with other terror groups, has continued in their efforts to carry out more organized, “classic” terror attacks.

For this purpose, Hamas has been operating from two bridgeheads.

One from Gaza, where the ironically labeled “West Bank Headquarters” operates the group’s terror infrastructure east of the Green Line. The branch is made up largely of former security prisoners who were deported to Gaza after being freed in the swap for captive IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011.

Ahmed Jarrar, the terrorist who murdered Rabbi Raziel Shevach near the Havat Gilad outpost in the northern West Bank in January, received financial assistance from this very headquarters.

The second branch, the “West Bank Office,” operates with an identical goal and is similarly run by former security prisoners released in the Shalit exchange. However, these past convicts were deported abroad and operate from capitals such as Istanbul.

Together, the two branches and the looming anniversaries create an unstable environment for the next few months in our region, to say the least.


State Department’s new undersecretary was in a Gaza tunnel when boss was fired



State Department’s new undersecretary was in a Gaza tunnel when boss was fired

Sidelined by Tillerson, whose firing caught her in a terror tunnel during a trip to Israel, Heather Nauert now finds herself nearly atop Foggy Bottom

Then-State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington on August 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

Then-State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington on August 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — When the ax fell on US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, his spokeswoman was half a world away, a distance he and his inner circle preferred and enforced.

Now, it’s Tillerson who’s on his way out after his unceremonious firing by President Donald Trump, and Heather Nauert whose star is ascendant.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Nauert are among the few women in the Trump administration with high-profile voices on foreign policy. Only three State Department officials — all men — now outrank Nauert, a former Fox News anchor who declined comment for this story.

Nauert’s meteoric rise comes even though just a week ago she seemed not long for the job. Then Tillerson lost his.

US Foreign Secretary Rex Tillerson speaks during a joint press conference with Jordanian foreign minister in Amman on February 14, 2018.(AFP PHOTO / Khalil MAZRAAWI)

She was denied the kind of close access to the boss that all recent successful State Department press secretaries enjoyed. So Nauert tried to defend Trump’s top diplomat and explain his activities to reporters from around the world without being able to travel on any of Tillerson’s international trips or attend most of his Washington meetings.

Frustrated at being sidelined, Nauert almost quit several times. She had been telling associates she was ready to move on.

The moment that Trump canned Tillerson by tweet, Nauert was in a Hamas-built tunnel on the border near the Gaza Strip, on a tour organized by the Israeli military to show US officials the smuggling routes used by militants. Caught by surprise by the move back in Washington, Nauert and the rest of the delegation cut the tour short and returned to Jerusalem to deal with the crisis. Soon, Trump also fired the undersecretary of state who publicly defended Tillerson.

Palestinian terrorists from the Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, squat in a tunnel, used for ferrying rockets and mortars back and forth in preparation for the next conflict with Israel, as they take part in military training in the south of the Gaza Strip, on March 3, 2015. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

The president named Nauert to that suddenly vacant position, near the top of the hierarchy of American diplomacy.

Nauert told associates she was taken aback and recommended a colleague for the job. But when White House officials told her they wanted her, she accepted.

The new role gives Nauert responsibilities far beyond the regular news conferences she held in the briefing room. She is overseeing the public diplomacy in Washington and all of the roughly 275 overseas US embassies, consulates and other posts. She is in charge of the Global Engagement Center that fights extremist messaging from the Islamic State group and others. She can take a seat, if she wants, on the Broadcasting Board of Governors that steers government broadcast networks such as Voice of America.

Less than a year ago, Nauert wasn’t even in government.

Nauert, who was born in Illinois, was a breaking news anchor on Trump’s favorite television show, “Fox & Friends,” when she was tapped to be the face and voice of the administration’s foreign policy. With a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she had come to Fox from ABC News, where she was a general assignment reporter. She hadn’t specialized in foreign policy or international relations.

It was almost clear from the start that Nauert wasn’t Tillerson’s first choice.

She resisted the ex-oilman’s efforts to limit press access, reduce briefings and limit journalists allowed to travel with him. Tillerson had preferred Genevieve Wood at the conservative Heritage Foundation, according to several individuals familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss Tillerson’s personnel decisions.

When Nauert arrived at the State Department in April 2017, she found relations between Tillerson and the diplomatic press corps in crisis. No longer were there daily briefings that had been a State Department feature for decades. Journalists accustomed to traveling with Republican and Democratic secretaries for decades found they were blocked from Tillerson’s plane. Department spokespeople had no regular access to Tillerson or his top advisers.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington, August 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Shut out from the top, Nauert developed relationships with career diplomats. Barred from traveling with Tillerson, she embarked on her own overseas trips, visiting Bangladesh and Myanmar last year to see the plight of Rohingya Muslims, and then Israel, after a planned stop in Syria was scrapped. Limited to two briefings a week, she began hosting a program called “The Readout” on State Department social media outlets in which she interviewed senior officials about topics of the day.

All the while, she stayed in the good graces of the White House, even as Tillerson was increasingly on the outs. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders described Nauert as “a team player” and “a strong asset for the administration.”

Sarah Sanders speaks during the daily briefing at the White House, on March 12, 2018, in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO)

And she didn’t shy from taking on foreign foes.

“The idea that Russia is calling for a so-called humanitarian corridor, I want to be clear, is a joke,” Nauert said at one recent briefing where she took Moscow to task for its actions in Syria, where it has used military power to support President Bashar Assad’s government.

Such comments have earned her the wrath of Kremlin officials and state-run media. Faced with pointed questioning by reporters from Russian news outlets at her briefings, Nauert often has lashed out, accusing them of working for their government.

“You’re from Russian TV, too. OK. So hey, enough said then. I’ll move on,” Nauert told a reporter last month after Russian President Vladimir Putin presented an animated film clip showing a missile headed toward the US

The comment sparked an intercontinental war-of-spokeswomen.

“If the StateDept dares to shun our journalists alongside with calling them Russian journalists one more time, we will carry our promise. We will create special seats for so called ‘US journalists,’” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova tweeted.

It didn’t end there.

First, the Russian Embassy in Washington congratulated Nauert “and, of course, all female employees” of the State Department on International Women’s Day. Nauert responded with gratitude and a dig, saying Moscow should use the day to “live up to its international commitments & stop bombing innocent men, women & children in #Syria.”


How Cheese, Wheat and Alcohol Shaped Human Evolution



How Cheese, Wheat and Alcohol Shaped Human Evolution

Over time, diet causes dramatic changes to our anatomy, immune systems and maybe skin color

image: https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/KMEqfbQGQFYtdyVZ69ZD7TsAHE4=/800×600/filters:no_upscale()/https://public-media.smithsonianmag.com/filer/55/6f/556ffd27-0041-438b-8fba-ca7401f26f40/dpnh1x.jpg


Human evolution is ongoing, and what we eat is a crucial part of the puzzle. (photosil / Alamy)

You aren’t what you eat, exactly. But over many generations, what we eat does shape our evolutionary path. “Diet,” says anthropologist John Hawks, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, “has been a fundamental story throughout our evolutionary history. Over the last million years there have been changes in human anatomy, teeth and the skull, that we think are probably related to changes in diet.”

As our evolution continues, the crucial role of diet hasn’t gone away. Genetic studies show that humans are still evolving, with evidence of natural selection pressures on genes impacting everything from Alzheimer’s disease to skin color to menstruation age. And what we eat today will influence the direction we will take tomorrow.

Got Milk?

When mammals are young, they produce an enzyme called lactase to help digest the sugary lactose found in their mothers’ milk. But once most mammals come of age, milk disappears from the menu. That means enzymes to digest it are no longer needed, so adult mammals typically stop producing them.

Thanks to recent evolution, however, some humans defy this trend.

Around two-thirds of adult humans are lactose intolerant or have reduced lactose tolerance after infancy. But tolerance varies dramatically depending on geography. Among some East Asian communities, intolerance can reach 90 percent; people of West African, Arab, Greek, Jewish and Italian descent are also especially prone to lactose intolerance.

Northern Europeans, on the other hand, seem to love their lactose—95 percent of them are tolerant, meaning they continue to produce lactase as adults. And those numbers are increasing. “In at least different five cases, populations have tweaked the gene responsible for digesting that sugar so that it remains active in adults,” Hawks says, noting it is most common among peoples in Europe, the Middle East and East Africa.

Ancient DNA shows how recent this adult lactose tolerance is, in evolutionary terms. Twenty-thousand years ago, it was non-existent. Today, about one-third of all adults have tolerance.

That lightning-fast evolutionary change suggests that direct milk consumption must have provided a serious survival advantage over peoples who had to ferment dairy into yogurt or cheese. During fermentation, bacteria break down milk sugars including lactase, turning them into acids and easing digestion for those with lactose intolerance. Gone with those sugars, however, is a good chunk of the food’s caloric content.

Hawks explains why being able to digest milk would have been such a boon in the past: “You’re in a nutrition limited environment, except you have cattle, or sheep, or goats, or camels, and that gives you access to a high energy food that infants can digest but adults can’t,” he says. “What it does is allow people to get 30 percent more calories out of milk, and you don’t have the digestive issues that come from milk consumption.”

recent genetic study found that adult lactose tolerance was less common in Roman Britain than today, meaning its evolution has continued throughout Europe’s recorded history.

These days, many humans have access to plentiful alternative foods as well as lactose-free milk or lactase pills that help them digest regular dairy. In other words, we can circumvent some impacts of natural selection. That means traits like lactose tolerance might not have the same direct impacts on survival or reproduction that they once did—at least in some parts of the world.

“As far as we know, it makes no difference to your survival and reproduction in Sweden if you can digest milk or not. If you’re eating out of a supermarket (your dairy tolerance doesn’t affect your survival). But it still makes a difference in East Africa,” Hawks says.

Wheat, Starch and Alcohol

These days, it isn’t uncommon to find an entire grocery store aisle devoted to gluten-free cookies, bread and crackers. Yet trouble digesting gluten—the main protein found in wheat—is another relatively recent snag in human evolution. Humans didn’t start storing and eating grains regularly until around 20,000 years ago, and wheat domestication didn’t begin in earnest until about 10,000 years ago.

Since wheat and rye became a staple of human diets, however, we’ve have had a relatively high frequency of celiac disease. “You look at this and say how did it happen?” asks Hawks. “That’s something that natural selection shouldn’t have done.”

The answer lies in our immune response. A system of genes known as the human leukocyte antigens take part in the fight against disease, and frequently produce new variations to battle ever-changing infections. Unfortunately, for individuals with celiac disease, this system mistakes the human digestive system for a disease and attacks the lining of the gut.

Yet despite the obvious drawbacks of celiac disease, ongoing evolution doesn’t seem to be making it less frequent. The genetic variants behind celiac disease seem to be just as common now as they’ve been since humans began eating wheat.

“This is a case where a selection that is probably about disease and parasites has a side effect that produces celiac disease in a small fraction of people. That’s a trade-off that recent evolution has left us and it wasn’t an adaptation to diet—it was an adaptation in spite of diet,” Hawks says. Unintended trade-offs are common in evolution. For example, the genetic mutation to red blood cells that helps humans survive malaria can also produce the deadly sickle cell disease.

Other examples of our continuing evolution through diet are intriguing but uncertain. For instance, Amylase is an enzyme that helps saliva digest starch. Historically, agricultural peoples from West Eurasia and Mesoamerica have more copies of the associated gene. Were they selected to digest starches better? “That makes a compelling story and it may be true. But biology is complicated and it’s not totally clear what’s at work or how important it is,” Hawks says.

More than one-third of East Asians—Japanese, Chinese and Koreans—have a flushing reaction when they metabolize alcohol, because the process creates an excess of toxic acetaldehyde enzymes. There’s strong genetic evidence that this was selected recently, during the last 20,000 years, Hawks notes.

Because its appearance in the genome may roughly coincide with rice domestication 10,000 years ago, some researchers suggest that it stopped people from over indulging in rice wine. The timelines aren’t precisely determined, however, for either the mutation or rice domestication. It has also been suggested that acetaldehyde offered protection from parasites that were unable to stomach the toxin.

“It mattered in some way, to past populations, because it wasn’t common and now it is,” says Hawks. “It’s a big change, but we really don’t know why.”

More Important Than We Think?

Even the color of human skin may be shifting, at least in part, as a response to diet (other factors, studies suggest, include sexual selection). The current diversity of human skin colors is a relatively recent development. The standard hypothesis focuses on the prevalence of UV rays at equatorial latitudes. Our bodies need vitamin D, so our skin produces it when soaked by UV rays. But too much UV can have detrimental effects, and darker skin pigments are more effective at blocking them.

As humans moved into darker, colder latitudes, the idea goes, their skin no longer needed protection from too much UV and lightened so that it could produce more beneficial vitamin D with less sunlight.

But DNA studies comparing modern Ukrainians with their prehistoric ancestors show that European skin color has been changing over the past 5,000 years. To explain this, another theory suggests that skin pigmentation could have been under the influence of diet, when early farmers suffered from a lack of vitamin D their hunter-gatherer ancestors once got from fish and animal foods.

Nina Jablonski, a skin color researcher at Penn State University, told Science that new research “provides evidence that loss of regular dietary vitamin D as a result of the transition to a more strongly agricultural lifestyle may have triggered” the evolution of lighter skin.

It’s difficult to see evolution in action. But new technologies like genome sequencing—and the computing power to crunch massive piles of data—are making it possible to spot tiny genetic tweaks that can add up over many generations to real evolutionary shifts. Increasingly, databases of genetic information are also paired with information like medical histories and environmental factors like diet, which may allow scientists to observe the ways they interact.

Hakhamanesh Mostafavi, an evolutionary biologist at Columbia University, authored one such genome study that analyzed DNA from 215,000 people to try to see how we continue to evolve over the span of just a generation or two. “Obviously our diet is radically changing today, so who knows what evolutionary effect that may have,” Mostafavi says. “It may not necessarily have a direct selection effect but it may interact with genes that control a trait.”

Mostafavi’s genetic research also revealed that some variants that actually shorten human life, like one that prompts smokers to increase their consumption above smoking norms, are still being actively selected against.

“We see a direct effect of that gene on the survival of humans today,” he explains. “And potentially you can imagine that diet might have the same kind of effect. We have so many recent dietary changes, like fast food for one example, and we just don’t know yet what effects they may or may not have.”

Fortunately, thanks to the work of scientists like Mostafavi and Hawks, it might not take 20,000 years to find out.


Agriculture Digestive System Evolution Food Food History Human Evolution

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-cheese-wheat-and-alcohol-shaped-human-evolution-180968455/#weHPq8IKeIkHiMdk.99
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img_1964HUMAN RELATIONS!! It sounds to be a thing of past isn’t it?

Yess..!! It has become immemorial. The ethics, relations which existed in the past are diminishing at an alarming rate .People are barely respecting and valuing their co fellows feelings and thoughts. In this world of internet relations are getting intense and cumbersome towards electronic devices. People are developing unconditional love towards their gadgets. They are hardly attending their family get together because they are completely engaged with their work .So in order to bridge this gap they are opting social media. Though this social media makes them closer it cannot give the real feeling of togetherness. The present generation kids have no idea of what a parental relationship is. They get scarcely interacted with their relatives and even sometimes times with their  parents. The relational bond, affection has totally transformed into commercial relationship. People expect some profit out…

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Better That 7 Rulers Die Than 7 Billion Citizens?

Better That 7 Rulers Die Than 7 Billion Citizens?


Those of you who know me know that I am a person who does not condone any form of violence toward another human. I had to word that sentence the way I did because I do eat some meat and when you are slaughtering live stock for your dinner table, you do condone some forms of violence upon another living thing. Now back to the base of this article today. I can only name about 12-15 State leaders so this is the reason that I am going to name the 7 that I do. I have chosen 7 that are in my opinion very corrupt and very evil but this does not mean that I wish these 7 would die, I just wish that they would become less crooked and less evil. So, this is totally a what if article.


That the general public knows of there are 8 Nuclear Countries and I thought about choosing 7 of these Nations Leaders for my examples today but I decided to choose 7 Leaders that I believe are crooked and evil instead. If you had a vision where an Angel of God was speaking with you and He said to you that you had to make a choice between you fingering 7 Rulers for God to kill, or, if you didn’t then 7 billion of Earths citizens would die in a world war that these 7 start, what would you do? Now imagine that He gave you that list of 7 and that your own Nations Leaders name was on the list, and maybe even another 2 or 3 names of Leaders that you personally like, what then? Would you condone the death of 7 to save 7 billion? Now what if all seven on the Angels list were people that you feel are crazy and totally evil, even if your Leader was one of the 7, would that change your mind? What if you could choose the 7, or, if you had to choose the 7, would you?


Personally I believe that the citizens of the world have some very, very dangerous Rulers of countries today, but then again, hasn’t that always been so? What if we could go back through history and pick out 7 former Rulers that you personally had to throw into Hell, could you, would you do it? The first name on my history list would be Hitler, then probably Stalin, Lennon, Chairman Mao, the former Shaw of Iran, and the last Leader of Communist East Germany and the last Communist Leader of Hungry would probably be folks that I could think of. Yet honestly I would still rather one of God’s Angels pull that trap door lever than me having to do it. Am I a coward because I would prefer not to have to sentence these men to Hell? If you are a person whom knows me, you know better than that. I just know that I have committed a whole bunch of horrible sins in my life so I don’t want to ever have to sit in judgement of another.


Just for trivia’s sake if you had to make up a list of 7 current Rulers that you were required to give to the Angel of Death, who would they be? Now take into context the reality that I only know the names of about 12-15 Rulers of Countries today, the following would be my ‘off the top of my head’ list.

1.) Turkey: Erdogan

2.) Russia: Putin

3.) Iran: Ali Khomeini

4.) North Korea: Kim Jong Un

5.) China: Xi Jinping

6.) Syria: Assad

7.) America: Trump

I guess this would be my “dirty 7” list that I would give to the Angel. Well, what do you think, who would be your 7 dastardly dudes, or ladies? Do you agree with any of mine? Or, would you tell the Angel to go ahead and let the 7 evil Leaders start a war that would see 7 billion die? I just thought of another angle, would this change your answer? What if the Angel told you that God said the you personally had to kill the 7 on your list, could you do it? Would you do it even if you were told that God would give you total immunity along with knowledge that you would totally get away with it without any harm coming to you or your family, could you, would you do it? If you have ever been in the military, think of it from that view, would you sacrifice a squad to save a Company? As I said at the beginning of this article, I do not condone any harm ever coming to anyone, I totally wish that the world had no violence in it. I wish that the 7 men on my list would see the Light of God and change from their evil ways before they do meet God face to face. It is not like I am without sin myself and I truly do hope that I never have to pull the trigger on anyone but I do know that if I felt I had to, I would not even hesitate if it meant saving a loved one or an innocent person. Okay, that is the end of the trivia for the day, hope that you enjoyed the read.

Life Is A Journey

Lepre-Cartoon: THE WEE MEN (Paramount 1947) Complete Cartoon

cracked rear viewer

THE WEE MEN is a wee bit o’blarney about Leprechauns, one of Paramount Picture’s Noveltoons series. It’s the story of Paddy, just turned 121 years old, and entrusted with the important task of leaving new shoes on doorsteps for St. Patrick’s Day… until the Greediest Man Alive captures him and demands to be taken to that fabled pot o’gold! Directed by former Disney animator Bill Tytla, enjoy THE WEE MEN (and yes, it’s in the Public Domain!):

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