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A New Generation Takes up the Hunt for Dead Sea Scrolls

In the cliffs high above the Dead Sea archaeologists chip away with pick axes, hoping to repeat one of the most sensational discoveries of the last hundred years – the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The scrolls, a collection of manuscripts, some more than 2,000 years old, were first found in 1947 by local Bedouin in the area of Qumran, about 20 km east of Jerusalem.

They gave insight into Jewish society and religion before and after the time of Jesus, and spurred a decade of exploration, before the search fizzled.

Recent finds have stirred fresh excitement however, and archaeologists are probing higher and deeper than before. Hundreds of caves remain unexcavated and the experts are racing against antiquities robbers.

“In the last few years we noticed new pieces of scrolls and parchments arrive on the black market,” said Oren Gutfeld, an archaeologist at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

“It drove us to return to the caves,” he said, sitting at the entrance of a cliffside grotto known to his team as “52B”.

In 2017 his team discovered remains of storage jugs in a previously-unexcavated cave at Qumran, though any scrolls they may have held were missing.

At about 200 meters (656 ft) above the level of the Dead Sea, 52B is higher than where the scrolls were found in the 1950s, which may or may not have made it an ideal hiding place.

Towards the back of the cave is a narrow burrow, packed with debris from centuries of wind and flash floods, that when cleared could extend about 10 meters. Volunteers sift through buckets of dirt.

“People thought there was nothing left to find … there just wasn’t incentive to do this,” said Randall Price, a professor at Liberty University, a Christian campus in the United States, who helped fund the dig.

But 52B did not appear on previous surveys and could yield precious secrets, Price said.


In the narrow streets of the open-air shuk (market) of Jerusalem’s Old City, Eitan Klein of the Israel Antiquities Authority stops by dealers to make sure their goods appear in an official registry and are not being traded on the black market.

Klein is deputy director of the authority’s robbery prevention unit, which in late 2016 recovered a fragment of text on a piece of papyrus mentioning the word ‘Jerusalem’ from the 7th century B.C. that had been plundered from a cave by antiquities robbers.

Following the papyrus’ discovery and other intelligence operations, Klein said “the assumption is that there are still artifacts inside the caves waiting to be found. The question is, who will discover them?”

New discoveries could also help solve the debate over who authored the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Expanding the search to further possibilities is the Copper Scroll, found in Qumran in 1952. Unlike its companions that were written on parchment or papyrus, this was a list of 64 hiding places for gold and valuables, etched on copper.

Hebrew University’s Gutfeld said the treasure referred to may be from the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem. In 2006 he finished excavating two manmade tunnels not far from Qumran that he believes matched a description in the Copper Scroll of the so-called Valley of Shadow.

One of the tunnels, a two-meter high, shoulder-width corridor, extended 125 meters underground. No treasure was found, but Gutfeld promised to continue searching in new spots.

“I’m not a treasure hunter. I’m an archaeologist,” Gutfeld said. But he added: “We hope to find any hint or relationship to what we know from the text of the Copper Scroll.”


‘Roma,’ ‘The Favourite’ Lead Oscar Nomination With 10 Nods

Oscar voters on Tuesday showered Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” and Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite” with a leading 10 nominations to the 91st Academy Awards, while two dominant but contentious Hollywood forces — Netflix and Marvel — each scored their first best picture nomination.

Though many expected “A Star Is Born,” Bradley Cooper’s tear-inducing revival of one of Hollywood’s most oft-remade show-business myths, to top nominations, Cooper was surprisingly overlooked as director and the academy instead put its fullest support behind a pair of smaller films by international directors.

With “Roma,” Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought. Cuaron tied the record for most decorated Oscar nominee ever for one film with four nods for his black-and-white, memory-drenched masterpiece. The Mexican-born director earned nods for direction, cinematography, original screenplay and best picture. Only Orson Welles (“Citizen Kane”) and Warren Beatty (“Reds,” ″Heaven Can Wait”) have landed four.

Lanthimos’ period romp “The Favourite” resounded most in the acting categories thanks to its trio of actresses: Olivia Colman in the best actress category, and Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone in supporting.

Along with “Roma” and “The Favourite,” the nominees for best picture are: “A Star Is Born,” ″Green Book,” ″Black Panther,” ″BlacKkKlansman,” ″Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Vice.”

Marvel also joined the club with “Black Panther,” the first superhero movie ever nominated for best picture. Despite the overwhelming popularity of comic book movies, they had previously been shunned from Hollywood’s top honor, to the consternation of some industry insiders. After “The Dark Knight” was snubbed, the academy expanded the best picture category from five to up to 10 nominees.

There has also been some resistance among some academy members to Netflix films since the company typically bypasses movie theaters. Steve Spielberg has said Netflix films are more like TV movies and deserve an Emmy, not an Oscar. Netflix altered its policy for “Roma” and two other films, premiering them first in theaters.

Spike Lee was nominated for his first directing Oscar 30 years after a writing nod for 1989′s “Do the Right Thing.” Notably left out of the category was Bradley Cooper, whose “A Star Is Born” landed eight nominations, including best actress for Lady Gaga, but was overlooked for Cooper’s direction. The other nominees were Lanthimos, Cuaron, Pawel Pawlikowski (“Cold War”) and Adam McKay (“Vice”).

On behalf of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, presenters Kumail Nanjiani and Tracee Ellis Ross unveiled nominations Tuesday morning from Los Angeles’ Samuel Goldwyn Theatre.

The nominees for best actor are Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale (“Vice”), Willem Dafoe (“At Eternity’s Gate”), Rami Malek (“Bohemian Rhapsody”) and Viggo Mortensen (“Green Book”).

Up for best actress are Yalitza Aparicio (“Roma”), Glenn Close (“The Wife”), Olivia Colman (“The Favourite”), Lady Gaga and Melissa McCarthy (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”).

The nominees for best supporting actress are Amy Adams (“Vice”), Marina De Tavira (“Roma”), Regina King (“If Beale Street Could Talk”), Emma Stone (“The Favourite”) and Rachel Weisz (“The Favourite”). Tavira was something a surprise, while Claire Foy of “First Man” was left out.

Up for best supporting actor are: Mahershala Ali (“Green Book”), Adam Driver (“BlacKkKlansman”), Sam Elliott (“A Star Is Born”), Richard E. Grant (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) and Sam Rockwell (“Vice”). Notably snubbed was Timothy Chalamet (“Beautiful Boy”).

The lead-up to Tuesday’s nominations was rocky for both the film academy and some of the contending movies. Shortly after being announced as host, Kevin Hart was forced to withdraw over years-old homophobic tweets that the comedian eventually apologized for. That has left the Oscars, one month before the Feb. 24 ceremony, without an emcee, and likely to stay that way.

Some film contenders, like Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” and the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” have suffered waves upon waves of backlash, even as their awards tallies have mounted. On Saturday, “Green Book” won the top award from the Producers Guild, an honor that has been a reliable Oscar barometer. In the 10 years since the Oscars expanded its best-picture ballot, the PGA winner has gone on to win best picture eight times.

The season’s steadiest contender — Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” — looked potentially unbeatable until it got beat. Despite an enviable string of awards and more than $400 million in worldwide box office, Cooper’s lauded remake was almost totally ignored at the Golden Globes. Still, “A Star Is Born” was the sole film to land top nominations from virtually every guild group.

The academy is reportedly planning to go host-less following Hart’s exit, something it has tried only once before in an infamous 1989 telecast that featured a lengthy musical number with Rob Lowe and Snow White.

The Oscars last year hit a new ratings low, declining 20 percent and averaging 26.5 million viewers. Though ratings for award shows have generally been dropping, the downturn prompted the academy to revamp this year’s telecast. Though initial plans for a new popular film category were scuttled, the academy is planning to present some awards off-air and keep the broadcast to three hours.

AP-NORC Poll: Disasters Influence Thinking on Climate Change

When it comes to their views on climate change, Americans are looking at natural disasters and their local weather, according to a new poll.

Lately, that means record deadly wildfires in California, rainfall by the foot in Houston when Hurricane Harvey hit and the dome of smog over Salt Lake City that engineer Caleb Gregg steps into when he walks out his door in winter.

“I look at it every day,” Gregg said from Salt Lake City, where winter days with some of the country’s worst air starting a few years ago dinged the city’s reputation as a pristine sports city and spurred state leaders to ramp up clean-air initiatives. “You look out and see pollution just sitting over the valley.”

“I’ve never really doubted climate change – in the last five-ish years it’s become even more evident, just by seeing the weather,” the 25-year-old said. “We know we’re polluting, and we know pollution is having an effect on the environment.”

The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago finds 74 percent of Americans say extreme weather in the past five years — hurricanes, droughts, floods and heat waves — has influenced their opinions about climate change. That includes half of Americans who say these recent events have influenced their thinking a great deal or a lot.

About as many, 71 percent, said the weather they experience daily in their own areas has influenced their thinking about climate change science.

The survey was conducted in November, a few days before the federal government released a major report revving up scientific warnings about the impact of climate change, including the growing toll of extreme storms and droughts.

The share of Americans who said they think the climate is changing has held roughly steady over the last year — about 7 in 10 Americans think climate change is happening. Among those, 60 percent say climate change is caused mostly or entirely by humans, and another 28 percent think it’s about an equal mix of human activities and natural changes.

Overall, 9 percent of Americans said climate change is not happening, and another 19 percent said they were not sure.

The poll finds Americans’ personal observations of real-time natural disasters and the weather around them have more impact than news stories or statements by religious or political leaders.

“It speaks to what we know of what people trust. They trust themselves and their own experiences,” said Heidi Roop, a climate scientist at the University of Washington’s Climate Impact Group who focuses on the science of climate change communication.

For a long time, the idea that the acrid black billows from car and truck tailpipes and power plant smokestacks were altering the earth’s atmosphere still seemed abstract, with any impacts decades away.

“With the extreme events that we’ve been seeing, we’re increasingly able to attribute, or pull out, how human-caused climate change is making those more severe,” Roop said.

When wildfires get bigger and more frequent, floods bigger and smog more entrenched, it begins to hit “the things that we all hold dear, and that’s when people get affected and begin to connect the dots,” Roop said.

But a minority of Americans still connect to different dots: While the poll finds most of those who believe in climate change say it’s caused by human activity or an equal mix of human activity and natural causes, roughly 1 in 10 attribute climate change to natural changes in the environment.

In West Haven, Connecticut, 69-year-old Alan Perkins says he can see the climate is in fact changing — the Atlantic beaches a few blocks from his house are about a third smaller than when he used to play on the sand as a kid, Perkins said by phone. Scientists say climate change will mean warming oceans expand and waves get rougher, eating away at shorelines.

“I see erosion along our shorelines. Our beaches are getting smaller. I see that,” Perkins said.

“I’m just not sure exactly how much we can do about that. I think nature takes care of a lot of it. Like when it rains it cleans the air. I think nature kind of takes care of itself,” Perkins said. “A lot of it is just in God’s hands, and he’s in control.”

Elizabeth Renz, a 62-year-old homemaker in Cincinnati, says the rise in temperatures globally and the surge in natural disasters in the United States is “just happening naturally.”

“Our earth is cycling through it, and I don’t know there’s much we can do about it,” she said.

She points to communities expanding into deserts and other unwelcoming terrain.

“We’re living in areas that we shouldn’t be living in,” she said.

The poll shows Americans are ready to pay more to deal with the changing climate — but not to pay very much.

A majority of Americans, 57 percent, would support a proposal that would add a $1 monthly fee to their electricity bills to combat climate change. But most oppose proposals that would increase their own monthly costs by $10 or more.

The poll also examined views on one of the Trump administration’s proposals to roll back future mileage standards for cars and light trucks. That would hit one of the Obama administration’s key efforts to reduce climate-changing fossil fuel emissions.

When told the proposal to freeze standards could lower the cost of vehicles — the Trump administration’s argument for the rollback — 49 percent said they support the proposal, compared with 17 percent who were opposed. Another third said they neither support nor oppose.

But when the question suggested the freeze could mean greenhouse gas emissions would not be reduced, 45 percent said they oppose the proposal, compared with 21 percent who were in favor.

The poll also found majorities of Americans would support a tax on emissions of carbon-based fuels, such as coal, natural gas and oil, if the money generated were used to fund research and development for renewable energy (59 percent), to restore forests and wetlands (67 percent) or to boost public transportation (54 percent).

For Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the willingness of Americans to pay at least some extra money to tackle climate change is “actually still a pretty strong signal.”

When climate change becomes “a problem in general but also specifically their problem, then people are going to have more ownership of it,” Swain said.

US Singer Chris Brown Detained in Paris After Rape Complaint

U.S. singer Chris Brown and two other people are in custody in Paris after a woman filed a rape complaint, French officials said Tuesday.

Brown was detained Monday on potential charges of aggravated rape and drug infractions and remained in custody Tuesday, a judicial official said. Investigators have another two days to decide whether to let him go or file preliminary charges.


Brown’s publicists at Sony Music would not immediately comment on the complaint or say what Brown, 29, was doing in Paris.


Brown has been in repeated legal trouble since pleading guilty to the felony assault in 2009 of his then-girlfriend, Rihanna. He completed his probation in that case in 2015.


One of Brown’s bodyguards is among the others detained, according to a Paris police official.


The woman who filed the complaint said she met Brown and his friends at the club Le Crystal in the 17th arrondissement of northwestern Paris on Wednesday, and then they all went to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel near the Concorde Plaza in central Paris, according to the official.


Neither official was authorized to be publicly named discussing the investigation.



Australian Open: Світоліна зіграє з Осакою в ніч на 23 січня

Перша ракетка України Еліна Світоліна, яка вдруге в кар’єрі пробилася до чвертьфіналу турніру серії «Великого шолому» Australian Open, найближчої ночі буде боротися за вихід у півфінал турніру з японкою Наомі Осакою.

Матч Світоліна – Осака відбудеться в австралійському Мельбурні в ніч на 23 січня за київським часом. Початок – близько 2-ї ночі.

Світоліна й Осака раніше грали одна проти одної п’ять разів: три перемоги на рахунку українки, двічі сильнішою була японська тенісистка.

ВООЗ: відмова від вакцинації є глобальною загрозою людству

Всесвітня організація охорони здоров’я вперше внесла у щорічний список глобальних загроз людству відмову від вакцинації.

У ВООЗ зазначили, що імунізація запобігає 2-3 мільйонам смертей у світі щороку, а якщо охоплення щепленнями збільшиться, врятувати можна буде ще 1,% млн людей.

«Найгірше, що може зробити людина, коли у доступі є вакцина, відмовитись від неї. Адже вакцинація є одним із найбільш ефективних способів захисту від смертельно небезпечних хвороб. Коли 95% населення щеплені від вакцинокерованої хвороби, захищена уся країна – віруси не поширюються. Саме тому вакцинація – це питання національної безпеки країни. МОЗ України продовжує боротися з популістичними заявами деяких політиків, які маніпулюють цією темою і антинауковими твердженнями ставлять під загрозу життя мільйонів людей», – заявили у міністерстві охорони здоров’я України.

В Україні передбачено вакцинацію проти 10 захворювань: туберкульозу, поліомієліту, дифтерії, кашлюка, правця, кору, гепатиту В, гемофільної інфекції, краснухи, епідемічного паротиту.

«Держава закуповує вакцини за Календарем і таким чином гарантує можливість українцям отримати безоплатні щеплення проти цих хвороб і захистити своє життя і життя своєї дитини», – ідеться у повідомленні.

У МОЗ нагадали, що в Україні майже два роки триває спалах кору. При цьому найвищий рівень захворювання зафіксований в тих регіонах, де найнижчі показники рівня охоплення щепленнями, – у Львівській, Івано-Франківській, Закарпатській, Одеській областях.

«МОЗ України спільно з місцевою владою розпочинає спецоперацію по вакцинації у Львівській області, щоби охопити щепленнями дітей 6-18 років, які з різних причин пропустили планові щеплення. Після Львівської області подібні спецоперації плануються в інших регіонах України», – повідомили у відомстві.

Переглянути список вакцин, які закуповує держава, і перевірити залишок вакцин у певному регіоні можна у спеціальній таблиці.