April 26, 2008

Humans lived in tiny, separate bands for 100,000 years


Apr 25 06:11 AM US/Eastern

Human beings for 100,000 years lived in tiny, separate groups, facing harsh conditions that brought them to the brink of extinction, before they reunited and populated the world, genetic researchers have said.

"Who would have thought that as recently as 70,000 years ago, extremes of climate had reduced our population to such small numbers that we were on the very edge of extinction," said paleontologist Meave Leakey, of Stony Brook University, New York.

The genetic study examined for the first time the evolution of our species from its origins with "mitochondrial Eve," a female hominid who lived some 200,000 years ago, to the point of near extinction 70,000 years ago, when the human population dwindled to as little as 2,000.

After this dismal period, the human race expanded quickly all over the African continent and emigrated beyond its shores until it populated all the corners of the Earth.

The expansion marked the end of the Stone Age in Africa and the beginning of a cultural advancement that has led several archeologists to consider it the start of modern man, with the advent of language and complex and abstract thought.

The migrations out of Africa are estimated to have begun some 60,000 years ago. But little was known about the human trajectory between Eve and that period.

Published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, the study analyzed the maternally-transmitted mitochondrial DNA of human populations in southern and eastern Africa who appear to have diverged from other groups 90,000 to 150,000 years ago.

The researchers said paleoclimatological data suggests that Eastern Africa went through a severe series of droughts between 135,000 and 90,000 years ago that may have contributed to population splits.

Tiny bands of early humans developed in isolation from each other for as much as half of our entire history as a species, explained the study's chief authors Doron Behar, a genographic associate researcher based at Rambam Medical Center, Haifa, Israel, and Saharon Rosset, of IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, New York and Tel Aviv University.

"It was only around 40,000 years ago that they became part of a single pan-African population, reunited after as much as 100,000 years apart," said Behar.

"This new study ... illustrates the extraordinary power of genetics to reveal insights into some of the key events in our species' history," said Spencer Wells, of the National Geographic Society.

"Tiny bands of early humans, forced apart by harsh environmental conditions, coming back from the brink to reunite and populate the world. Truly an epic drama, written in our DNA," he added.

From a band of about 2,000 individuals, human beings have grown to a current population of about 6.6 billion.

Begun in 2005, the research was funded by National Geographic Society, IBM, the Waitt Family Foundation and the Seaver Family Foundation.

Machine Gun-Toting Officers To Patrol NYC Subway

M4 Carbine Rifles, MP5 Submachine Guns & Bomb Sniffing Dogs Part Of New "Torch Team" Anti-Terror Efforts

NEW YORK (CBS) ― The NYPD is pulling out all the stops to beef up safety of the subways. On Thursday it launched a new anti-terror effort called "Operation Torch," but the cost of the program is raising some eyebrows.
The NYPD's new firepower consists of cops with Mp5 submachine guns, rifles, body armor and bomb-sniffing dogs.
Starting Thursday, five or six teams a day will patrol the major transit hubs in the city in the new program, all thanks to a 50 percent increase in a Homeland Security grant.
"Times Square, Grand Central, Penn Station … the locations you would expect, but not only those locations. The assignments will vary and will be following no discernible pattern," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
Many straphangers were thrilled to see the city going all the way to protect its citizens.
"It's a very good idea," Patricia Knight Williams said. "It's like a deterrent. It's going to make me feel safer, much safer, yes it will. It's a good idea."
The city's massive subway system, With 5 million riders a day, has long been considered a potential terror target ever since Sept. 11, 2001.
Similarly equipped NYPD units known as "Hercules" teams have been patrolling the ground on Wall Street, the Empire State Building and other city landmarks.
Everyone seems to like the idea of an added police presence, particularly to fight terrorism on subway platforms, but then when you mention the price tag -- $151 million – then people aren't so sure.
"I think it's a waste of money," Michael Rivers said. "If someone wants to put a bomb in the subway how do you stop it?"
"It's a hard time for a lot of people. That's a lot of money to spend," Ellen Payne added.
"Everybody has their opinion," Kelly said. "We think this is a reasonable expenditure of funds. We're doing everything that we think is appropriate to prevent another attack."
Of the $151 million in the federal grant, $30 million will be used for this underground anti-terrorist program for the next two years.
In case you're thinking you've seen this kind of police patrol on the subways, you're right. Units like the Hercules teams have been sent underground during times of heightened security.

April 12, 2008

The Twilight Zone



"There is a fifth dimension beyond that
which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as
space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle
ground between light and shadow, between science and
superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's
fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the
dimension of imagination. It is an area we call
The Twilight Zone."

Why China is the REAL master of the universe



Cecil Rhodes, the businessman-imperialist of Africa, the creator of Rhodesia, suffered no flicker of doubt about who were the masters.

"To be born an Englishman," he mused, "Is to win first prize in the lottery of life."

It wasn't idle boasting. In the jingoistic triumphalism of the late 19th century, when waving the Union Jack was a simple pleasure, people sang: "Rule Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves" without any irony. It was a statement of fact.

A quarter of mankind lived under the British flag in the largest empire the world had ever known.

And many of those parts that weren't under Britain's rule - such as the U.S. - had been created by Britain.

British missionaries had opened up the Dark Continent almost unchallenged.



The British Army found it easier to invade troublesome nations - or most of them - than it does nowadays.

Britain was the workshop of the world, dominating science, manufacturing and trade.

To many Victorians, unquestioning of the ideology that underpinned much imperialism, British supremacy was a simple matter of racial supremacy - Europeans, and the English in particular, were fated to be the masters.

The truth is that we are masters of the world no more.

The global power shift from the West to the East is no longer just a matter of debate confined to learned journals and newspaper columns - it is a reality that is beginning to have a huge impact on our daily lives.

What would those Victorian masters of old have made of the fact that Chinese security men were on the streets of London this week, ordering our own police about and fighting running battles with British protesters while bewildered athletes carried the Olympic torch on its relay through the capital?

It was a brazen display of how confident China has become of its new place in the world, just as the British Government's failure to take a firm stand on Chinese abuses of human rights shows how craven we have become.

The dire warnings from the International Monetary Fund this week that the West now faces the largest financial shock since the Great Depression, while the Asian economies are still powering ahead, simply underlines our vulnerability in this new world order.

The desperately weakened American dollar appears to be on the verge of losing its global dominance, in the same way as sterling lost it a lifetime ago.

The credit crunch has brought home to all of us in Britain how over-reliant our country has become on financial services. Meanwhile, the loss of our manufacturing industries to Asia continues unabated.

Last month, an Indian company, Tata, bought up what was once the cream of British manufacturing - Jaguar and Land Rover.

A couple of years ago, Nanjing Automotive, a Chinese company, snapped up MG Rover.

Just as the 19th century was the British century, and the 20th century was the American century, the 21st century is the Asian century.

But the handover of global power from the UK to the U.S. was trivial compared to what is happening now.

The U.S. was Britain's offspring, based on the same values and the same language.



It, too, was an Anglo-Saxon country, and passing the baton across the Atlantic ensured the continuation of the Anglo-Saxon world order, based on democracy, free trade and a belief in human rights, upheld through international institutions that both powers supported.

But the world order we have grown used to - and comfortable with - over the last century is coming to an end.

Napoleon III compared China to a sleeping giant and warned: "When China awakes, she will shake the world."

After a long hibernation, China, and her 1.3 billion people - twice the population of the U.S. and EU combined - is awaking almost overnight.

And not just China. The world's second most populous country, India, is industrialising at a historically unprecedented pace.

Their economies are growing on a long-term basis about four times the speed of the UK's and that of the United States. Goldman Sachs, the bank, recently predicted that by 2050, China and India would have overtaken the U.S. to be the world's first and second biggest economies.

We have long heard about the benefits this brings, in terms of plentiful cheap goods from toys to TVs, and huge opportunities for Western companies to sell their wares in these booming markets.

But there are also downsides, which are becoming more apparent. Unskilled workers in the West have become unsettled by the threat to their jobs as production moves East.

The most vulnerable Western workers have found their wages stagnate as they struggle to compete in an increasingly global market place.

And competition for raw materials is pitting East against West.

The economic explosion of China, and to a lesser extent India, has given them an almost overpowering hunger for raw materials with which to build their factories, homes and cars.

Wherever you turn, the rise of Asia is making its impact felt on our existence.

Every time you complain about the price of petrol being over £1 a litre, it is to the Far East you have to look to find the culprits.



There are even reports that manholes in Britain have been disappearing to feed the monstrous appetite for scrap steel in the other side of the world.

China is spending 35 times as much on crude oil as it did eight years ago, and 23 times as much on copper.

As it builds gleaming skyscrapers on its fields, China alone consumes half the world's cement and a third of its steel.

What is happening is so extraordinary that economists have had to invent a new word for it - this is not an economic cycle, but a supercycle, a shift in the world economy of historic proportions.

When demand increases and supply stands still, prices shoot up. Iron, wheat and oil are all at record prices, despite slackening demand in the faltering Western economies.

The cost of living in Britain is now rising faster than wages, making the British on average poorer year on year.

Asia's expansion means that its influence is starting to be felt more directly around the world.

Asian countries are not just buying up foreign raw materials, but as their companies try to become global leaders, they are buying up Western companies.

It is not just Land Rover, Jaguar and MG Rover. The Malaysian company Proton owns Lotus. Indian company Tata owns Corus, once British Steel, as well as Tetley Tea.

The hunger for raw materials is also making China lose its shyness and venture out into the world. Like Germany and Russia, China has traditionally been a land empire, focusing its expansionist energies on countries it had borders with, and it eschewed the world-conquering exploits of Europe's sea-faring maritime nations.

Europeans have, for half a millennium, been unchallenged as the global colonisers, but last month the respected Economist magazine dubbed the Chinese "The New Colonists".

While the Congo in central Africa was once over-run by Belgians, it is now the Chinese that can be found wondering around its mining belts.

In Lubumbashi, the capital of the Congo's copper-rich region Katanga, the Economist reported "a sudden Chinese invasion".

Troubled Angola recently shunned Western financial aid because of the amount of Chinese money pouring into it, in return for commodities.

From Kazakhstan to Indonesia to Latin America, Chinese firms are gobbling up oil, gas, coal and metals.


Canadian authorities were recently alarmed to find the Chinese interested in exploring the Arctic Ocean, in a bid to get a share of the minerals beneath the thawing icecap.

In eastern Siberia, Russians worry that China is by default taking over their empty land.

The West has long seen Africa as its backyard, but Western diplomats now worry that not just Africa, but South America, too, is being lost to China.

And Western governments are concerned that the rules of the game are changing. Most worryingly, as China's brutal suppression of the once independent Tibet shows, this is not a superpower that respects Western standards on human rights.

From Darfur to Myanmar, China is cuddling up to murderous dictators.

At home, it holds mass executions of criminals with bullets in the back of the head while transplant surgeons stand by to harvest their still pulsating organs.

Yet Western governments have been in such awe of China's looming power that their response has not been to challenge its abuses, but to try to silence their own protesters at home.

From the UN to the IMF to the World Bank, the international institutions that attempt to govern the planet were made in the image of the victors of World War II. Now power is shifting from West to East, the whole liberal democratic world order will face its first serious challenge in decades.

Many fear that things could get ugly.

There is only one thing worse than an unchallenged superpower - it is a superpower with a victim mentality, which feels the world owes it a favour.

And the bitter truth is that, after centuries of humiliation in foreign affairs, there is a nationalist mood in China that the country's time has come again, that it can again claim its rightful place as the world's most powerful country.

Its comparative weakness over the last few centuries is, in fact, but a blip in the last 2,000 years, during which China was the world's most economically and culturally advanced nation.


It is an accident of history that Europeans took advantage of their window of opportunity in the last half of the second millennium to take over the world.

The cause was a combination of factors such as the development of maritime technology in Europe, the competition between European countries that drove them to look outwards and find new ways to increase prosperity, and the fact China remained firmly locked in its agrarian, introspective past.

Now things have changed, and already the shift in the world economy is starting to have dramatic effects on migration patterns.

The emigration of poor people from China and India to the West is slowing down, as their citizens see more hope in their own rapidly advancing nations.

Instead, their expanding middle classes are paying large fees for their children to enjoy a Western university education, before returning home.

There are now 60,000 Chinese students in Britain, more than from any other country.

Westerners have become accustomed to being the only tourists in the world's tourist hotspots, but the Chinese and Indians want to enjoy the fruits of their labour by expanding their horizons, too.

Chinese tourists are likely to replace American tourists as popular irritants in Britain, and replace the Germans as competitors for the ski lifts.

As the opportunities flow from West to East, so too do the people.

India is luring the global Indian diaspora back, with laws that would be judged racist in Britain, offering visas to anyone living in the West with Indian blood in their veins.

Even some non-Indian Westerners are heading East for opportunities greater than they find at home.

The West's cultural supremacy is likely to be as challenged as its economic supremacy.



As their economic confidence grows, Asians are discovering pride in their own cultures and are less inclined to mimic Western ones.

There is an infectious confidence in Bollywood, and the price of Chinese antiques is rocketing as the newly rich Chinese decide they want a slice of their history. Western culture, like the dollar, will soon find its heyday behind it.

But Western attitudes will change as well, with a likely shift to the political Right. White liberal guilt, the driving force behind political correctness, will subside as Westerners feel threatened by the global order changing, and their supremacy slipping away.

Anti-Americanism will disappear as Europeans realise how much better it was to have a world super power that was a democracy (however flawed) not a dictatorship.

There is even speculation that the intense economic pressure on countries such as Britain will cause them to trim down their bloated welfare state, simply because it will no longer be affordable at present levels.

Western attitudes of superiority to China and the rest of the East will also subside, as Westerners realise they are no longer the masters of the world.

The U.S. company Orient Express complained when Tata tried to buy it, that any association with the Indian company would damage the Orient Express's premium brand.

Responding, R K Krishna Kumar, a senior Tata executive, thundered that "Indian companies ... will take their rightful place in the international arena.

"Enterprises and individuals must recognise and adapt to these fundamental economic changes. We believe that those with a fossilised frame of mind risk being marginalised."

In a world in which we are no longer masters, it is a warning that we ignore at our peril.

Jesse Ventura - Questions Regarding 9/11




On April 2nd, 2008, Jesse Ventura expressed doubts on the Alex Jones radio show about some of the events of the 9/11 attacks.[35]. He said that he felt that many unanswered questions remain, such as how World Trade Center Building 7, which was not struck by a plane, could have collapsed on the afternoon of 9/11 in a manner which resembled a perfectly executed controlled demolition[36] Ventura stated:

"Two planes struck two buildings . . . but how is it that a third building fell 5 hours later? How could this building just implode into its own footprint 5 hours later - that's my first question - the 9/11 Commission didn't even devote one page to that in their big volume of investigation . . . In my opinion, there is no doubt that that building was brought down with demolition."[37]

He also expressed bewilderment at how the Twin Towers appeared pulverized and wondered how they could drop at virtually free-fall speed, when no other massive steel-framed buildings had ever collapsed in this manner due to fire before. He stated:

"How could those buildings fall at the speed of gravity - if you put a stopwatch on them, both of those World Trade Center buildings were on the ground in ten seconds - how can that be? ... [Also] jet fuel is four-fifths kerosene, which is not a hot-burning fuel: and they want us to believe that it melted these steel-structured girders and caused these buildings to pancake-collapse to the ground?! I was on the site within two weeks after it happened, and I saw none of these 'pancakes'. Wouldn't they all be piled up in a huge mass on the ground? And yet everything was blown into dust! When you look at it from that aspect, none of it makes any sense, if you apply common sense to it ..."

Keys Talks About Her Conspiracy Theories





Keys Talks About Her Conspiracy Theories

NEW YORK (AP) - There's another side to Alicia Keys: conspiracy theorist. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter tells Blender magazine: "'Gangsta rap' was a ploy to convince black people to kill each other. 'Gangsta rap' didn't exist."

Keys, 27, said she's read several Black Panther autobiographies and wears a gold AK-47 pendant around her neck "to symbolize strength, power and killing 'em dead," according to an interview in the magazine's May issue, on newsstands Tuesday.

Another of her theories: That the bicoastal feud between slain rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. was fueled "by the government and the media, to stop another great black leader from existing."

Keys' AK-47 jewelry came as a surprise to her mother, who is quoted as telling Blender: "She wears what? That doesn't sound like Alicia." Keys' publicist, Theola Borden, said Keys was on vacation and unavailable for comment.

Though she's known for her romantic tunes, she told Blender that she wants to write more political songs. If black leaders such as the late Black Panther Huey Newton "had the outlets our musicians have today, it'd be global. I have to figure out a way to do it myself," she said.

The multiplatinum songstress behind the hits "Fallin'" and "No One" most recently had success with her latest CD, "As I Am," which sold millions.