August 9, 2005

News for August 9, 2005

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Biblical Pool Uncovered in Jerusalem (August 09, 2005) - Workers repairing a sewage pipe in the Old City of Jerusalem have discovered the biblical Pool of Siloam, a freshwater reservoir that was a major gathering place for ancient Jews making religious pilgrimages to the city and the reputed site where Jesus cured a man blind from birth, according to the Gospel of John. The pool was fed by the now famous Hezekiah’s Tunnel and is “a much grander affair” than archeologists previously believed, with three tiers of stone stairs allowing easy access to the water, said Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, which reported the find Monday. “Scholars have said that there wasn’t a Pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit” to illustrate a point, said New Testament scholar James H. Charlesworth of the Princeton Theological Seminary. “Now we have found the Pool of Siloam … exactly where John said it was.” more...


Syrian president visits Iran (August 09, 2005) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad arrived here Sunday for a two-day official visit, the official IRNA news agency reported. Bashar, who is heading a high-ranking delegation, was welcomed by his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Presidential Office, the report said. During his stay in Tehran, Bashar is scheduled to hold talks with high-ranking Iranian officials on issues of mutual interest. Earlier, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said that Assad’s visit to Tehran was taking place on two topics -- offering felicitations to Ahmadinejad and holding negotiations on bilateral and regional issues. Assad became the first head of state visiting Iran after Ahmadinejad took office on Wednesday, according to IRNA. Iranian media on Saturday branded Syria as a strategic ally and highly praised the visit, saying it will have a significant impact on political and economic fronts for Iran, Syria and Lebanon. Syrian Prime Minister Mohammed Naji Otri paid a visit to Iran in February, during which the two sides called for a united front to confront economic sanctions imposed on them by the United States. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ahmad Azizi said in March that Iran-Syria cooperation had no military or security nature.After the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on Feb. 14, Syria was forced to withdraw all of its troops from Lebanon in late April in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1559, ending a 29-year military presence in its neighbor. Iran maintains close relations with pro-Syrian Hezbollah, a Shiite militant group which helped end Israeli occupation in south Lebanon in 2000.


Hints of quake under central USA (August 09, 2005) - The sleeping giant of American earthquake faults, the New Madrid zone in the middle of the country, may be showing new signs of activity. The journal Nature reported in June that a University of Memphis study had detected a half-inch of fault shift in the past five years. The movement, detected with the Global Positioning System (GPS), could be a sign that pressure is building toward a significant quake in a region that’s home to millions. “We go from nothing moving to a little movement. That’s a huge difference,” says Arch Johnston, director of the university’s Center for Earthquake Research and Information. more...


Why Great Minds Can’t Grasp Consciousness (August 09, 2005) - At a physics meeting last October, Nobel laureate David Gross outlined 25 questions in science that he thought physics might help answer. Nestled among queries about black holes and the nature of dark matter and dark energy were questions that wandered beyond the traditional bounds of physics to venture into areas typically associated with the life sciences. One of the Gross’s questions involved human consciousness. He wondered whether scientists would ever be able to measure the onset consciousness in infants and speculated that consciousness might be similar to what physicists call a “phase transition,” an abrupt and sudden large-scale transformation resulting from several microscopic changes. The emergence of superconductivity in certain metals when cooled below a critical temperature is an example of a phase transition. In a recent email interview, Gross said he figures there are probably many different levels of consciousness, but he believes that language is a crucial factor distinguishing the human variety from that of animals. Gross isn't the only physicist with ideas about consciousness. more...


Russian Warships Heading to China for Joint War games (August 09, 2005) - The warships of the Russian Pacific Fleet which will take part in the joint exercises with China left Vladivostok for China on Sunday, according to the Itar-Tass news agency. The ships include BDK-11 large landing ship, the Marshal Shaposhnikov large anti-sub ship and the Burny destroyer, a source in the Pacific Fleet press center was quoted as saying. The first-ever joint exercises conducted by Russia and China will be held on Aug. 18-25, and its first phase is scheduled for Aug. 18-19 on territory of the Far Eastern military district. Chiefs of Russian and Chinese Staffs will gather in Vladivostok for consultations. The second phase is planned for Aug. 20-22 on the Chinese territory. There will be a shooting training on Aug. 23-25, and the Russian and Chinese defense ministers will watch it. more...


Bishop caught in battle over living Buddha (August 09, 2005) - The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, was at the centre of an unholy row last night after he participated in an exotic spiritual ceremony with a disputed living Buddha. Bishop Chartres welcomed six other faith leaders to the celebration “of friendship and trust” at St Ethelburga’s, a London church transformed into a peace centre since it was bombed by the IRA in 1993. Thaye Dorje’s prescence caused a dispute among senior Buddhists. But the bishop, who was supposed to have taken a full part in the event, was forced to minimise his role amid the controversy. He was represented by a stand-in as showers of rose petals were thrown, prayers were read in Latin and Sanskrit and a colourful Japanese tapestry was unveiled. The spirit of enlightenment had been seriously disturbed after senior Buddhists denounced the presence at the event of His Holiness Thaye Dorje. The 22-year-old’s claim to be the 17th Karmapa, one of the most revered figures in Buddhism, is fiercely disputed. more...


Atlantic braces for record hurricane season (August 09, 2005) - This year is set to be one of the worst on record for hurricanes, scientists say, amid spectacular new evidence about the power of these storms and fears that global warming is intensifying them. Less than halfway through the six-month tropical-storm season, experts are already warning that the brooding western Atlantic may serve up as many as 21 severe storms and hurricanes this year. If so, that would be more than twice the average annual tally since records began in 1851. “The 2005 hurricane season could rival historically significant years such as 1887, which had 19 named storms; 1933, which had 21 named storms; and 1995, which had 19 named storms,” says Barry Keim, assistant professor of geography and anthropology at Louisiana State University, and a climatologist for the state. more...


Scientists now creating exotic ‘mutant mice’ with ease (August 09, 2005) - They’re being bred now by the millions, the mutants, created to carry the ghastliest of diseases for the benefit of the human race. Since researchers published the mouse’s entire genetic make-up in map form three years ago, increasingly exotic rodents are being created with relative ease. There’s the Schwarzenegger mouse -- injected with muscle-building genes. The marathon mouse, which never seems to tire. Researchers recently engineered some mice to be extremely addicted to nicotine, and others to be immune to scrapie, a close cousin to the brain-wasting mad cow disease. And scientists are in hot pursuit of a Methuselah mouse, able to cheat death long after its natural brethren meet their maker. Millions of these and other mutant mice are routinely created now, by injecting disease-causing genes or “knocking out” genes in mouse embryos. Their decreasing cost and increasing availability is helping researchers in pursuit of all manner of disease cures. more...


Al-Qaida’s next base Jewish homes? (August 09, 2005) - With Israel slated to withdraw its Jewish communities from the Gaza Strip this month, and analysts warning Hamas may gain control of the area, there have been growing indications the Palestinian terror group’s ideological “friend” al-Qaida may be invited to use Gaza as the next base from which to stage its global jihad. As WND reported, a group claiming to be “Al-Qaida-Palestine, Jihad Brigades in the Border Land,” announced last week the establishment of a cell in the Gaza Strip. The group said it carried out a recent attack using a new kind of rocket – the Sinjal – against Neve Dekalim, the largest community in Gaza’s Gush Katif slate of Jewish neighborhoods. more...