Camel carvings in Saudi ArabiaSaudi Stone Camel Carvings Date to Stone Age: Archaeologists
September 16, 2021
The stone camels date to the Stone Age. A dozen life-size stone camels discovered in the Saudi desert were carved 8,000 years ago, archaeologists now say. That would put the date of carving firmly in the Stone Age, rather than later. When the group of French and Saudi scientists excavating in the Al Jouf province found the carvings, in 2018, they dated them to 2,000 years ago because they were similar findings to those found at Petra, in what is now Jordan. However, using more cutting-edge dating techniques (including portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry) in conjunction with analyzing tool marks and assessing erosion patterns led the archaeologists to revise their estimate of the age of the carvings, to the Neolithic Period, or New Stone Age. Such carvings predate the construction of Stonehenge and the Pyramids at Giza.

Egypt Finishes Restoration of Step Pyramid Builder's Tomb
September 13, 2021
Djoser Soutern Tomb restoration Egypt has finished a major restoration of the Southern Tomb structure of the famous King Djoser, who lived 4,500 years ago and ordered built the Step Pyramid, the world's oldest pyramid. The king was buried deep within the pyramid, in a chamber of granite, and not within the newly restored structure. However, Djoser did have provenance over the Southern Step PyramidTomb, a mostly underground complex of passageways and a central funeral shaft, with tiles and hieroglyphs adorning the walls. A burial chamber deep inside contains a large granite sarcophagus and a well, both of which echo similar structures inside the Step Pyramid. The Southern Tomb structure is at the southwest corner of Djoser's very large funeral complex. The restoration, which began in 2006, focused on refurbishing those carvings and reinforcing the walls of the passageways. Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism said that workers also installed lights, so that the public could revel in the splendor.

Canada-Mexico-U.S. Rail Merger Back to Original Suitors
September 12, 2021
Canadian Pacific Kansas City railway map The Canada–U.S.–Mexico railway merger appears to be back on track, after the original partners again came to an agreement. In March, Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern agreed to a merger that would have seen the former buy out the latter for $29 billion and create a new company titled Canadian Pacific Kansas City, with three headquarters: a global one in Calgary, Alberta; a U.S. one in Kansas City; and a shared Mexico one in Mexico City and Monterrey. However, Canadian National, the country's largest rail network, then offered Kansas City Southern a higher bid, of $33.7 billion. Either merger needed approval from the Surface Transportation Board, a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Because Canadian National's bid was higher, the Surface Transportation Board ruled on the Canadian National-Kansas City Southern; in the Board's ruling, it said that the intended voting trust for that merger would fall afoul of industry regulations. As a result, Kansas City Southern went back to its original suitor, Canadian Pacific, which increased its bid to $31 billion. The boards of the original companies had approved the original merger. What is left is approval from shareholders of both companies and from the Surface Transportation Board, which had already approved that merger's voting trust, which was different from the one in the Canadian National deal.

Roman Naval Battering Rams Rise from the Seafloor
September 5, 2021
Roman naval battering ram Archaeologists have found, at the bottom of the sea, battering rams used by the Romans against their ancient archenemy the Carthaginians. One of the ways that the Romans were so successful in that struggle was by equipping their warships with blade-tipped battering rams. A fisherman in 2010 discovered off the coast of Sicily the first of what is now two dozen such battering rams. Investigations have taken place since then. Each bronze ram weighed 450 pounds and sported three blades on each side. Thrusting the ram against the hull of an enemy ship allowed the blades to ravage that ship's hull.

U.N. Climate Change Outlook Grimmer Than Ever
August 24, 2021
Wildfire Global warming has accelerated, a United Nations report has found. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released an assessment of climate science. The findings of that report, itself an amalgam of many other reports and current scientific information, has found dramatic evidence of global warming-driven climate change. The last 10 years have been the hottest in 125,000 years, the report found. Alarming to many was the finding that ocean levels were rising at twice the rate as they were just 15 years ago. If the current conditions continue, the researchers predicted a 3.6-degree (on the Fahrenheit scale) increase in global temperatures in the next two decades. One result of that is the extreme weather that people in many countries around the world have already experienced.

Pompeii Snack Bar to Reopen Nearly Two Centuries Later
August 15, 2021
Pompeii snack bar wall Coming soon to a Roman ruin near Mount Vesuvius: a new snack bar. Officials at Pompeii, one of the cities pummeled by the eruption of the nearby volcano in 79, have announced that they are repurposing a thermopolium ("a place where something hot is sold") and opening in its location a snack bar, to feed tourists visiting the ruins. Archaeologists announced the discovery in 2019. It was one of several already discovered at Pompeii and elsewhere. The thermopolium was a staple around the Roman world, with several already discovered at Pompeii and elsewhere. Customers could get a drink or a bite of hot food, just like at today's snack bars. Such places were popular, especially with the poor, who usually could not afford a private kitchen; as well, people who didn't have time to cook at home would frequent a thermopolium.

Barbie Dolls Honor Female Scientists Fighting COVID-19
August 6, 2021
Barbie dolls honoring women scientistsMattel has produced six new Barbie dolls that honor women from around the world who have been at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19. The women honored are doctors, nurses, and scientists from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Stonehenge Sediments Date to Days of Dinosaurs: Scientists
August 6, 2021
Stonehenge The tall standing stones of Stonehenge predate the dinosaurs, scientists have found. A piece of a core that went missing in the 1950s has been returned, and scientists running tests on it have found that the stone's origins were in sandy sediments that were deposited during the Mesozoic era (252 million years ago to 66 million years ago), when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Rare Harry Potter Book Brings in £80,000 at Auction
July 29, 2021
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone A first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has sold for £80,000 at auction. The first book in the seven-part Harry Potter series, written by J.K. Rowling, it begins the story of the boy who discovers that he has magical powers and then refines those powers, in and out of a school for witchcraft and wizardry. The book sold at the Yorkshire auction was one of 500 hardback versions printed in 1997. A Nottingham bookshop sold the book, which credits the author at that very early stage in her career as "Joanne Rowling" and is known more a handful of minor misprints.

Positive Coronavirus Tests Growing at Olympics
July 19, 2021
2020 Summer Olympics logo A growing number of Olympic athletes have tested positive for COVID-19. Among the U.S. athletes who will miss the Games after testing positive for the coronavirus were tennis player Coco Gauff and gymnast Kara Eaker. Also slated to miss at least part of the Games are Czech beach volleyball player Ondrej Perusic and two members of the South African men's soccer players. Olympics officials reported that others testing positive included those in the media and those on various levels of Olympic staffing. The total of Games-related infections has topped 60 since July 1, when more than 20,000 people began arriving in preparation for the Games.

California Grants Free School Lunch for All Public School Students
July 19, 2021
California is launching the nation's largest free school lunch program. The state has America's largest population overall and the largest public school population, at more than 6 million. When those students return to their school buildings in the fall, they will all have access to school lunch without having to pay, thanks to a large infusion from the state government.

Girl, 14, 1st African-American Winner of Spelling Bee

2021 Spelling Bee winner Zaila Avant-garde, a 14-year-old girl from New Orleans, has won the 93rd Scripps National Spelling Bee. She is the event's first African-American champion. Her winning word was murraya, "a genus of tropical Asiatic and Australian trees having pinnate leaves and flowers with imbricated petals." Chaitra Thummala, 12, placed second; coming in third was 13-year-old Bhavana Madini. Avant-garde was also Louisiana's first-ever Spelling Bee champion.

Dubai Debuts Deepest Diving Pool
July 10, 2021
Deep Dive Dubai pool Dubai has opened the world's deepest dive pool. At 196 feet, it surpasses the previous record-holder by a full quarter of the distance. (Poland's DeepSpot, at 148 feet, opened in 2020.) The new diving pool is part of Deep Dive Dubai, a pool that has 3.7 million gallons of fresh water, the equivalent of six Olympic-sized pools. The water temperature is 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

Samoan High Court Aims to End Constitutional Crisis

The Supreme Court of Samoa has told both of the country's major political parties to end the stalemate that is preventing the formation of a Parliament. The party that has ruled for many years has refused to recognize the results of the most recent election, which resulted in the other main party's gaining a majority. The high court has threatened contempt of court if lawmakers do not convene a Parliament and work out their differences.

'Little Sister' to Join Statue of Liberty in N.Y. Harbor
June 22, 2021
Statue of Liberty Little Sister Lady Liberty is getting a smaller sibling. France has sent a smaller replica of the Statue of Liberty to the U.S. The two will face each other for July 4. Petite Soeur ("Little Sister"), as it is known, is a one-sixteenth size replica of the famous steel and cooper statue that France sent as a gift to the U.S. in the late 19th Century.


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David White