Philistines were more sophisticated than given credit for, say archeologists

2016-07-18 21:48:42

ASHKELON, Israel Philistines were no "philistines", say archaeologists who unearthed a 3,000-year-old cemetery in which members of the biblical nation were buried along with jewelry and perfumed oil.Little was known about the Philistines prior to the recent excavation in the Israeli port city of Ashkelon. The famed arch enemies of the ancient Israelites -- Goliath was a Philistine -- flourished in this area of the Mediterranean, starting in the 12th century BC, but their way of life and origin have remained a mystery.That stands to change after what researchers have called the first discovery of a Philistine cemetery. It contains the remains of about 150 people in numerous burial chambers, some containing surprisingly sophisticated items.The team also found DNA on parts of the skeletons and hope that further testing will determine the origins of the Philistine people.We may need to rethink today's derogatory use of the word philistine, which refers to someone averse to culture and the arts, said archaeologist Lawrence Stager, who has led the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon since 1985. "The Philistines have had some bad press, and this will dispel a lot of myths," Stager said.Stager's team dug down about 3 meters (10 feet) to uncover the cemetery, which they found to have been used centuries later as a Roman vineyard.On hands and knees, workers brushed away layers of dusty earth to reveal the brittle white bones of entire Philistine skeletons reposed as they were three millennia ago. Decorated juglets believed to have contained perfumed oil were found in graves. Some bodies were still wearing bracelets and earrings. Others had weapons. The archeologists also discovered some cremations, which the team say were rare and expensive for the period, and some larger jugs contained the bones of infants. "The cosmopolitan life here is so much more elegant and worldly and connected with other parts of the eastern Mediterranean," Stager said, adding that this was in contrast to the more modest village lifestyle of the Israelites who lived in the hills to the east.Bones, ceramics and other remains were moved to a tented compound for further study and some artifacts were reconstructed piece by piece. The team mapped the position of every bone removed to produce a digital 3D recreation of the burial site.Final reports on the finds are being published by the Semitic Museum at Harvard University. (Editing by David Goodman)

Madonna visits Malawi hospital her charity is funding

2016-07-11 18:13:53

BLANTYRE, Malawi Pop star Madonna paid a visit to a hospital project funded by her charity in Blantyre, Malawi at the weekend, inspecting progress on the construction of a pediatric surgery and intensive care unit.Madonna, whose Raising Malawi charity says the children's unit in Queen Elizabeth Central hospital will open in early 2017, arrived with her two children adopted from Malawi, David and Mercy."We certainly have the support of the government, morally, but in terms of funding and fundraising I am not going to do it by myself," Madonna said of the project on Sunday. "I am gonna have lots of fundraising events and we have other donors and we're gonna continue to do fundraising." (Reporting By Reuters Television)

Slick Murray downs Kyrgios as title expectations grow

2016-07-05 00:39:22

LONDON Andy Murray saw off the mercurial challenge of Australian Nick Kyrgios with little fuss on Monday, before just as smoothly playing down growing expectations that a second Wimbledon title is his for the taking.The second-seeded Scot's straight sets win over a dangerous opponent maintained his standing, following the shock third round exit of world number one Novak Djokovic, as the bookies' odds-on favorite to lift the Challenge Cup again on Sunday.Murray, who in 2013 beat Djokovic to became the first British man to win Wimbledon since 1936, has finished runner-up to the Serbian in both of this year's grand slams in France and Australia.On Monday he reached his ninth consecutive Wimbledon quarter-final, hanging on to Kyrgios's coat-tails for much of a pulsating first set before the Australian lost focus to concede the second and third sets tamely in a 7-5 6-1 6-4 defeat.Murray has not yet dropped a set -- but neither has Roger Federer, who beat the Scot in last year's semi-final.The presence of the Swiss seven-times champion looms large on the other side of the draw, which goes a long way toward explaining why the thought of lifting the trophy again has yet to enter Murray's head. PASSING THE TESTDescribing Monday's win as "very good", the Briton said his only focus was on his next match, a quarter-final against French 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga."I know the next one is a very tough match against Tsonga. He's a really, really good grass court player, very, very dangerous," Murray told reporters. "I'm aware I'll have to be playing at my highest level to win." For much of Monday's first set on a packed Centre Court, Murray played second fiddle to 15th seed Kyrgios, who thudded down serves at close to 140 mph that the world number two struggled to reach let alone control.Murray's serve, meanwhile, was misfiring and, under darkening skies and roared on by a partisan crowd, he had to dig deep to stay on terms with the Australian. The set and the match turned in the 12th game, when a combination of Kyrgios errors and two inspired Murray backhands presented the Scot with three break points. Kyrgios saved the first two with booming serves but Murray converted the third.Thereafter Kyrgios went walkabout, the Briton breaking him twice in a second set that flew by in 26 minutes. He broke once more in the third, closing out the contest with an ace on his third match point.The Australian, who described his performance after the first set as "pretty pathetic", has now -- in common with a multitude of Britons -- hitched his wagon to the Murray camp."I hope (Murray wins)... I hope so, definitely. I think he's definitely got a great chance," Kyrgios told reporters. (Reporting by John Stonestreet; editing by Ken Ferris)

Apple wins dismissal of lawsuit over MacBook logic boards

2016-06-28 01:54:41

Apple Inc won the dismissal on Thursday of a lawsuit accusing it of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook laptop computers that contained "logic boards" it knew were defective, and which routinely failed within two years.U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco said the plaintiffs, Uriel Marcus and Benedict Verceles, failed to show that Apple made "affirmative misrepresentations," despite citing online complaints and Apple marketing statements calling the laptops "state of the art" or the "most advanced" on the market."Plaintiffs have failed to allege that Apple's logic boards were unfit for their ordinary purposes or lacked a minimal level of quality," Alsup wrote. "Both plaintiffs were able to adequately use their computers for approximately 18 months and two years, respectively."Alsup gave the plaintiffs until Jan. 22 to amend their lawsuit, which sought class-action status, against the Cupertino, California-based company. Omar Rosales, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Apple did not immediately respond to a similar request.The plaintiffs claimed that Apple's sale of MacBooks since May 20, 2010, violated consumer protection laws in California and Texas, where the lawsuit began last May before being moved.They also contended that Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook was told about the defective logic boards in 2011, but did nothing. Logic boards contain computer circuitry and are sometimes known as motherboards.A separate and still pending lawsuit in California accuses Apple of defrauding consumers by selling MacBook Pro laptops in 2011 that contained defective graphic cards, causing screen distortions and system failures. MacBooks are part of Apple's Mac line of desktop and laptop computers. The company reported unit sales in that business of 18.91 million in its latest fiscal year.The case is Marcus et al v. Apple Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 14-03824. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon)

Serena concerned over Zika, but puts faith in Olympic support team

2016-06-23 21:31:52

LONDON Tennis star Serena Williams says she is concerned about the Zika outbreak ahead of August's Rio Olympics, but has faith in the support team dealing with worries about the mosquito-carried virus.A number of major names, including golfer Rory McIlroy, have pulled out of the Games because of health fears over Zika.The World Health Organisation last week said there is a "very low risk" of further spread of the virus as result of the sporting event held in Brazil."Obviously it does (worry me). The U.S. (team) has talked to all the athletes, they have been going through a lot of protocol to make sure everyone is okay and comfortable and if not there is no pressure to go," Williams, who will be competing for the United States at the Games, told Reuters in London. "We are all looking forward to it and we are all worried about it but the athletes that are going are definitely taking the right precautions."Williams was speaking at a party ahead of Wimbledon, where she swapped her racket for a microphone to sing some karaoke. Williams will be looking to claim her seventh title at Wimbledon, which she said was her favorite tournament."I like the tradition. I really do. I like that it is so traditional," she said. The 21-times grand slam singles champion is seeded number one for Wimbledon, which starts on Monday. (Reporting By Jack Tarrant)

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