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Afghanistan's Taliban meets Chinese government in Beijing

Afghanistan's Taliban meets Chinese government in BeijingA Taliban delegation met China's special representative for Afghanistan in Beijing on Sunday to discuss the group's peace talks with the United States, a spokesman for the Islamist insurgency said. The meeting comes after U.S. President Donald Trump's eleventh-hour cancellation earlier this month of the negotiations between his country and the Taliban, which many had hoped would pave the way to a broader peace deal with the Afghan government and ending a 17-year war. The Taliban's nine-member delegation travelled to Beijing and met Deng Xijun, China's special representative for Afghanistan, said Suhail Shaheen, the Afghan group's spokesman in Qatar, on his official Twitter account.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 22, 2019 9:57 AM

Police suspect longstanding 'beef' led to deadly shooting at South Carolina bar

Police suspect longstanding 'beef' led to deadly shooting at South Carolina barPolice say a longstanding "beef" turned deadly Saturday, leading to a shooting that killed two and injured several in South Carolina.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 21, 2019 10:09 PM

The Amex Business Platinum perks are so good it makes me want to start my own company

The Amex Business Platinum perks are so good it makes me want to start my own companyBGR has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. BGR and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.Please note: the offers mentioned below are subject to change at any time and some may no longer be available.One of our favorite rewards credit cards for ordinary consumers is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which combines a big up-front welcome offer of 60,000 points (after using the card to spend $5,000 in your first three months) with a ton of luxe perks. The benefits range from an airline fee credit of up to $200 to American Express Concierge travel service, and much more. Business owners, meanwhile, fear not. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express is a companion version of the charge card tailored to the needs of business people, and it not only has a similarly impressive lineup of benefits.You've also got until December 4, 2019, to take advantage of a limited-time, increased welcome bonus of up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points.Who needs this card: If you rack up frequent travel expenses over the course of your business operations, or even if you simply charge thousands of dollars a month in business expenses to a charge card, it's hard to argue the Amex Business Platinum doesn't deserve a spot in your wallet.Why you should sign up for one right now: The current welcome points offer means if you can put $25,000 in charges on this card in your first three months of card ownership (and before December 4), the 100,000 Membership Rewards points bonus can be yours. Yes, that's a big outlay in order to get the welcome reward, but since this is a business card we're talking about that's not an unreasonable amount of expense to put on a charge card.Moreover, based on the most recent monthly valuations from The Points Guy, 100,000 Membership Rewards points are worth $2,000 in travel, which makes this card's bonus an extremely lucrative one and potentially worth the high spending levels. We should also add -- you'll earn the welcome points in two tiers.Spent $10,000 on qualifying purchases in the first 3 months of card membership, and you'll earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points. Once you put another $15,000 on this card (for qualifying purchases) after that initial $10,000 -- and, again, still before the first three months are up -- then you'll earn an additional 50,000 points.If you read our previous post outlining the slew of lucrative benefits available to Amex Platinum cardmembers, you're already familiar with many of the benefits of the Amex Business Platinum. Both cards share perks like: * Up to $200 airline fee credit each year * Access to Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta) * Access to other lounges in the American Express Global Lounge Collection * Gold elite status with Hilton Honors and Gold elite status with Marriott Bonvoy * Upgrade with Points to request an airline ticket upgrade on select airlines * 5 points per dollar spent on flights and prepaid hotels (both must be booked through Amex Travel on the Business Platinum)However, here are some of the benefits you get that are exclusive to the business version of the Platinum card: * 10 free Gogo inflight Wi-Fi passes each year * 1.5x points on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million additional points per year) * A complimentary year of Platinum Global Access with WeWork (enrollment must be done by December 31, 2019) * Up to $200 in annual statement credits for Dell technology purchases, split into a $100 credit for January through June and another $100 credit for July through December The final wordWhile this card does come with a $595 annual fee that can seem hefty at the outset, if you take advantage of the $200 airline fee credit and the annual up to $200 Dell credit, you'll effectively pay a net of only $195 a year for the card. This card proves its worth and then some for any businessperson engaged in regular travel. From lounge access at almost any airport in the world to elite status at Hilton and Marriott hotels, plus helping you get onto the internet while in the air during flights, this card has tons of benefits (not to mention that welcome bonus that's higher than ever) just waiting for you to take advantage of.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 21, 2019 2:17 PM

History buff finds ships that sank in 1878 in Lake Michigan

History buff finds ships that sank in 1878 in Lake MichiganA diver and maritime history buff has found two schooners that collided and sank into the cold depths of northern Lake Michigan more than 140 years ago. Bernie Hellstrom, of Boyne City, Michigan, said he was looking for shipwrecks about 10 years ago when a depth sounder on his boat noted a large obstruction about 200 feet (60 meters) down on the lake bottom near Beaver Island. "I've made hundreds of trips to Beaver Island and every trip I go out the sounder is on," he told The Associated Press on Friday.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 20, 2019 9:41 PM

Mike Pence takes eight-vehicle motorcade across island where cars have been banned for a century

Mike Pence takes eight-vehicle motorcade across island where cars have been banned for a centuryFor more than a century, motorised vehicles have been banned from Mackinac Island in Michigan - giving the former Revolutionary War battle site a unique charm and turning it into a tourist haven.The ban is so strictly enforced that when President Gerald Ford visited in 1975, he and first lady Betty Ford travelled by horse-drawn carriage.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 22, 2019 11:00 AM

Israel Could Not Survive Hamas' Missiles Without The Iron Dome

Israel Could Not Survive Hamas' Missiles Without The Iron DomeIsrael lives in a dangerous neighborhood.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 21, 2019 4:30 AM

UAE's first official synagogue to open in multi-faith complex in 2022

UAE's first official synagogue to open in multi-faith complex in 2022Construction on the United Arab Emirates' first official synagogue will begin next year and be completed by 2022, according to local media reports. The synagogue will be part of the multi-faith "Abrahamic Family House" complex in Abu Dhabi, which will also feature a mosque and church of which full construction will be completed in 2022, Abu Dhabi newspaper the National reported on Sunday. The complex was announced in February following a visit by Pope Francis to the UAE, the first by a pontiff to the Arabian Peninsula.




POSTED SEPTEMBER 22, 2019 2:27 AM

Iran's president warns America to 'stay away' as it unveils long range missiles that could strike US bases

Iran's president warns America to 'stay away' as it unveils long range missiles that could strike US basesIran’s president has warned American and other foreign forces to “stay away” from the region, as Tehran paraded long-range missile capable of reaching American bases.  Hassan Rouhani said the presence of such troops in the Gulf has always brought “pain and misery”, in a speech made at an annual military parade to commemorate the war with Iraq. Mr Rouhani spoke in response to an announcement made by the US on Friday that it was sending more troops to Saudi Arabia after an attack on Saudi oil facilities both nations blame on Iran. "Wherever the Americans or our enemies have gone, there has been insecurity afterward,” the Iranian president said. “The farther you keep yourselves from our region and our nations, the more security there will be." At the parade, the Islamic republic displayed the Khordad-3 air defence system that shot down a US drone in June. It also showcased the long-range, surface-to-air Bavar 373 missile that can travel more than 1,250 miles, bringing it in range of US bases in the region and arch-foe Israel. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is seen during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade in Tehran Credit: Wana News Agency  Saudi Arabia and the US accuse Iran of attacking Saudi oil facilities on September 14, the biggest such assault on the world’s top oil exporter. Iran denies involvement in the attack, which was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi movement, a group aligned with Iran and currently fighting a Saudi-led alliance in the civil war. US President Donald Trump had said it would step up to protect Saudi but would take its cue from Saudi. Riyadh has said it has evidence Iranian missiles were used in last weekend’s attack and that they were launched from the north, but did not go so far as to say they came from Iranian territory. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani delivers a speech during the ceremony of the National Army Day parade in Tehran Credit: Wana News Agency  Should the accusation be proven, it would mark such a serious escalation in the long-running conflict between Saudi and Iran that the former could be forced to retaliate. "We hold Iran responsible because the missiles and the drones that were fired at Saudi Arabia were Iranian-built and Iranian-delivered," Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, said on Sunday. "But to launch an attack from your territory, if that is the case, puts us in a different category... this would be considered an act of war," he told CNN. Both sides are holding their nerve, hoping to make their case to the United Nations General Assembly later this week. Mr Rouhani, along with US sanctioned Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, will travel to New York on Monday, to present what he called a security plan for the Gulf. President Hassan Rouhani, left, listens to chief of the Revolutionary Guard Gen. Hossein Salami at a military parade marking 39th anniversary of outset of Iran-Iraq war Credit: Office of Iranian Presidency "In this sensitive and important historical moment, we announce to our neighbours that we extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood to them," he said. It is unclear what this would look like, with the president saying only that peace in the Strait of Hormuz could be achieved "in co-operation with various countries." The US has already formed its own maritime coalition in the Gulf to secure one of the world’s most vital oil trade routes with the UK, Saudi, Bahrain and even the UAE, which has tried to keep good relations with Tehran since the most recent tensions began. Members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) standing in formation during the annual "Sacred Defence Week" Credit: AFP British former diplomats said Iran, which has been hit by wave after wave of US sanctions after Mr Trump pulled the country out of the landmark nuclear deal last year, is counting on the US and Saudi not wanting to start war. “I think it is a matter of the hardliners in Iran looking to shore up their influence by keeping tensions with the US high, while still maintaining just enough deniability to preempt a full US response,” Charles Hollis, a British former diplomat in both Riyadh and Tehran, told the Telegraph. “Assisted by a growing belief that Trump may talk tough but is not willing to act.” In the US, Mike Pompeo, the American Secretary of State, squarely laid the blame for the attacks on the Saudi oil fields on Iran. “No reasonable person doubts precisely who conducted these strikes, and it is the Intelligence Community’s determination that it is likely the case that these were launched from Iran,” he said on  Face the Nation. “This was a sophisticated attack. These weapons systems had ranges that could not have come from the Houthis. It is crazy for anyone to assert that they did. Mike Pompeo dismisses Iranian denial of responsibility for oil field attacks Credit: Susan Walsh/AP “I mean, it is literally nuts on its face to make an assertion that this was an attack by the Houthis. This was Iran true and true, and the United States will respond in a way that reflects that act of war by this Iranian revolutionary regime.” Mr Pompeo dismissed the denial of responsibility by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “I don’t know why anybody listens to the Iranian foreign minister. He has nothing to do with Iranian foreign policy and he has lied for decades, and then he resigned. “It’s just – it’s not even worth – it’s not even worth responding to him. It’s beneath the dignity of anyone in the world to listen to someone who repeatedly makes the claim that the Houthis launched this attack.” Speaking on the same programme, Mr Zarif was pessimistic that conflict with the US could be prevented. "No, I'm not confident that we can avoid a war," Zarif said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. "I'm confident that we will not start one but I'm confident that whoever starts one will not be the one who finishes it."




POSTED SEPTEMBER 22, 2019 2:42 PM

Have Archaeologists Found Where Jesus Fed the 5,000?

Have Archaeologists Found Where Jesus Fed the 5,000?University of HaifaArchaeologists excavating near the Sea of Galilee may have discovered the site where Jesus is said to have miraculously fed a crowd of five thousand people using only five loaves and two fish. The miracle, which is mentioned in all four of the canonical Gospels, is regarded by some historians as one of the more ancient traditions associated with Jesus.The new claim is based on discoveries made by scientists from the University of Haifa. During excavations at the Byzantine era “Burnt Church” in the Hippos National Park (the church is named because it was one of seven churches destroyed as part of the Sasanian conquest in 614 CE).  Archaeologists uncovered a 1,400 year old mosaic on the floor of the church that depicts the feeding miracle.According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus and his disciples withdrew to a “deserted place” in the Galilee region after the death of John the Baptist in order to rest (Mark 6:31). The location must have been relatively close to the shore of the Sea of Galilee because they used a boat to get there. Once the group came ashore they were swamped by a crowd of people who had followed them there. The ever-practical disciples advised Jesus to send the crowd away as it was growing late and there was nothing for people to eat.The miracle that follows is by biblical standards a rather low-key affair. Jesus had the disciples gather up the nutritional resources of the group. Then, Jesus looked up to heaven, blessed and broke the bread, and had the loaves and fishes evenly distributed among the people. “And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.” (Mark 6:42-44). The story is repeated in Matthew, Mark, and John. There’s even a similar incident in Mark and Matthew known as the Feeding of the Four Thousand and even more food is left over.Traditionally, people have believed that the feeding of the five thousand miracle took place in Tabgha, Capernaum, on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. There’s even a church there, called the Church of the Multiplication, that celebrates the event. The earliest evidence of Christian worship in Tabgha dates to the mid-fourth century but the mosaics that refer to the feeding of the five thousand come from around 480 A.D.Hippos, the site of the newest discovery, is on the southeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. The history of the city there dates back to the turn of the era and there’s some evidence of occupation there as early as the third century B.C. There are several mosaics from the Burnt Church that appear to refer to the miracle story. The first depicts Jesus performing the miracle; the second shows twelve baskets filled with bread and fruit. Dr. Michael Eisenberg, who oversaw the excavation on behalf of the University of Haifa, noted that these may be a reference to the baskets of bread that were left over after the multitude had eaten.Eisenberg cautiously hypothesized that perhaps Hippos was the place that the miracle supposedly took place. He told The Jerusalem Post:“Nowadays, we tend to regard the Church of the Multiplication in Tabgha on the northwest of the Sea of Galilee as the location of the miracle, but with careful reading of the New Testament, it is evident that it might have taken place north of Hippos within the city’s region.” If Eisenberg’s theory is correct this would mean that Christians had been, to borrow a phrase from Indiana Jones, celebrating the miracle ‘in the wrong place.’Before jumping to conclusions, however, it is important to evaluate precisely what kinds of evidence we have for both the site in Hippos and that in Tabgha. Both sites contain mosaics of the miracle of the multiplication and these mosaics (and the churches that contained them) date to the fifth century.The earliest evidence for Christians visiting any site associated with the miracle comes from the Pilgrimage diary of Christianity’s first female travel writer, Egeria, who visited the Holy Land ca. 381 A.D. According to her diary, the site she visited, “where the Lord fed the people with the five loaves and the two fishes” was near Capernaum. Even if the Church of the Multiplication is the same place visited by Egeria (and it is likely to be in the general vicinity), she was still traveling some 350 years after Jesus is reported to have performed this miracle. None of the archaeological or literary evidence can confirm either that the miracle took place, or where it took place.What we do have evidence for is a trend in the artistic and theological program of late fifth century Christians living in the Holy Land. Whether or not those who commissioned the mosaics intended to claim that this was where the feeding miracle was performed, they are both very interested in this story about the divine provision of food. (Interestingly the artist who produced the mosaic in Tabgha was not a local fisherman: the mosaics there show the fish with two dorsal fins while fish from the Sea of Galilee only have one dorsal fin).Both these churches were constructed during a period in which Christians made pilgrimages to religious sites looking for the alleviation of physical suffering. This suffering was usually related to sickness but people also asked for help with the hardships that resulted from crop failure, famine, taxation, and conflict. Perhaps what we have here are different religious centers that competed for and catered to the needs of pilgrims and tourists. These churches might have been equally appealing to members of the local fishing industry, who relied upon good hauls of fish in order to sustain themselves and their families. Bread and fish are evocative symbols for early Christians, but, for those who lived around the Sea of Galilee or were agrarian workers they also had a great deal of practical economic significance.Equally, the discovery of multiple churches claiming a connection to the feeding of the five thousand story might just be directing us to the importance of food in ancient religion and religion in general. We tend to define religion as about religious books and prayers, but food has often played an important role in our relationship with the cosmic and supernatural order. As Meredith Warren, a lecturer at the University of Sheffield and author of Food and Transformation in Ancient Mediterranean Literature, told the Daily Beast “Eating is one of the most fundamental ways that humans interact with the world, so it is no surprise that food and meals feature so prominently in the creation of meaning by early Christians.”Have we discovered where the feeding of the 5000 actually took place (assuming that you believe that it happened)? Probably not. But archaeologists may well have unearthed another location where Christians genuinely believed Jesus had performed this miracle and remembered and commemorated that event. The discovery of these new mosaics can tell us a great deal about was important to Christians living in the region, the Bible stories that appealed to them, and the ways that various religious centers competed with each other.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. 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POSTED SEPTEMBER 22, 2019 5:12 AM

Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Rhinos

Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Rhinos




POSTED SEPTEMBER 22, 2019 9:00 AM

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