TIME archeology

Here’s What a 55,000-Year-Old Skull Teaches Us About Human Migration

Ancient Skull
Clara Amit—AP This undated photo provided by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Jan. 27, 2015, shows a partial human skull excavated from a cave in Israel's western Galilee region

The rare bone find is the first to connect humans in Africa and Europe

Part of a female human skull, found in a cave in Israel and believed to be around 55,000 years old, is giving researchers clues as to when humans migrated out of Africa, leading to the eventual colonization of Europe.

The partial skull, found in Manot Cave in western Galilea, is the first recorded instance of modern humans being in the Levant region during that time period, archeologists claim in the journal Nature. These early people may have been the first to pass through the region on their way to cooler latitudes.

“It’s amazing. This is the first specimen we have that connects Africa to Europe,” said Israel Hershkovitz of Tel Aviv University.

Neanderthal remains have previously been found in locations close to Manot Cave, dating between 50,000 and 65,000 years of age, so that places the two species in the same place at the same time.

Non-African humans have a tiny bit of Neanderthal DNA and studies suggest the mix happened 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.

Scientists say the new discovery offers the possibility that a spell of interbreeding between Neanderthals and early humans occurred at this time and in this region.

[Nature]

TIME Morning Must Reads

Morning Must Reads: January 28

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

The Big Dig

New Englanders savaged by a blizzard packing knee-high snowfall and hurricane-force winds began digging out as New Yorkers and others spared its full fury questioned whether forecasts were overblown

Drink to Your Health

The sun is the biggest culprit in causing skin cancer, but there’s a beverage that may thwart some of the tumor-causing effects of ultraviolet rays

Meet the Kingmakers

A new analysis by the Center for Public Integrity reveals that the top 50 political contributors spent more than $440 million in 2014

Elton John to Do Musical-Drama Pilot for HBO

The music legend is producing the pilot of a musical drama to be named Virtuoso, set in 18th century Vienna. True Blood creator Alan Ball is set to write and direct the show, which follows a class of young musical prodigies at the Academy of Musical Excellence

Apple Shines With Record Earnings

A larger-than-expected bump in holiday iPhone sales propelled Apple to record sales and the best quarterly earnings of any company ever. The tech giant racked up $74.6 billion in revenue last quarter, a 29.5% gain on the same period a year before

Hizballah Attacks Israeli Convoy

Several Israelis soldier were injured, possibly killed, when anti-tank missiles were fired at an Israeli convoy on the Golan Heights from Lebanon on Wednesday. Israel retaliated by firing dozens of artillery shells into Lebanon and convened a emergency security meeting

Who Ya Gonna Cast? Ghostbusters Stars Revealed

Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig have reportedly been cast in the long-awaited, all-female reboot of the beloved ’80s classic, alongside Saturday Night Live‘s Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. Paul Feig, who directed Bridesmaids, will helm the new movie

Budget Cuts Hit Red States Hardest, Say Analysts

Funding for a range of discretionary grant programs has fallen 40% in Republican states compared to a drop of only 25% in swing states or states that tend to support the Democrats, according to new research

WHO Appoints New Africa Chief

The World Health Organization appointed Botswana’s Dr. Matshidiso Moeti to head its Africa region on Tuesday. The physician is tasked with revamping the organization’s operations on the continent in the wake of the Ebola outbreak

Ancient Solar System Discovered

Astronomers have discovered an ancient solar system very similar to our own that dates back to the “dawn of the galaxy.” Using NASA’s Kepler telescope, a team of international scientists found a star and five orbiting planets that are similar in size to Earth

Jordan Ready for ISIS Prisoner Exchange

Jordan’s information minister says his government is set to swap an Iraqi woman held in Jordan for a Jordanian pilot captured by extremists from the Islamic State group — but made no mention of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, who is also being held by ISIS

Prepare for Future Pandemics as for War, Says Bill Gates

Bill Gates, whose charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation disburses nearly $4 billion worldwide, has cautioned that a technology-based action plan is needed to guard against future pandemics similar to how we “prepare ourselves for war”

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TIME Middle East

Escalation Feared as Hizballah Attacks Israeli Convoy

Israeli soldiers carry an injured comrade after an anti-tank missile hit an army vehicle in an occupied area on the border with Lebanon on Jan. 28, 2015.
Jalaa Marey—AFP/Getty Images Israeli soldiers carry an injured comrade after an anti-tank missile hit an army vehicle in an occupied area on the border with Lebanon on Jan. 28, 2015.

Israel fires dozen of shells into Lebanon after its vehicles were attacked

At least two Israeli soldiers were killed Wednesday when anti-tank missiles were fired at an Israeli convoy on the Golan Heights from Lebanon.

Israel retaliated by firing dozens of artillery shells into southern Lebanon and convened a emergency security meeting in Tel Aviv.

Israeli military said an anti-tank missile was fired at Israeli military vehicle near Lebanese border, the Associated Press reports, leaving two soldiers dead. Lebanese security officials then said Israel fired 25 artillery shells into Lebanon.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister tweeted: “At this moment the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] responds to events in the North. We will not allow terrorists to disrupt the lives of our citizens and threaten their security. We will respond forcefully those who try to challenge us.”

Hizballah claimed on al-Manar TV in Lebanon that they had attacked an Israeli military convoy. In a statement, Hizballah said its fighters destroyed a number of Israeli vehicles that were carrying Israeli officers and soldiers and caused casualties among “enemy ranks.”

It said the attack was carried out by a group calling itself the “heroic martyrs of Quneitra,” — referring to an area in Syria where Israel killed six members of Hizballah and an Iranian general on Jan. 18.

Wednesday’s attack took place near Mount Dov and Shebaa Farms, a disputed tract of land where the borders of Israel, Lebanon and Syria meet.

[AP]

TIME White House

White House Chief of Staff Reaffirms ‘Deep and Abiding’ U.S.-Israel Ties

Meet the Press - Season 68
William B. Plowman—NBC/Getty Images Denis McDonough White House Chief of Staff appears on "Meet the Press" in Washington D.C. on Jan. 25, 2015.

Amid reports of a rift with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough repudiated reports of a widening rift between the Obama administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday’s morning talk shows.

An unnamed administration official was quoted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz as saying Netanyahu “spat in our face publicly” when he agreed to accept an invitation to speak to the United States Congress in March without President Obama having been consulted first.

But McDonough said on NBC’s Meet the Press that the alliance between the U.S. and Israel remained strong. “Our relationship with Israel is many-faceted, deep and abiding,” he said. “It’s focused on a shared series of threats, but also, on a shared series of values that one particular instance is not going to inform overwhelmingly.”

The White House Chief of Staff said he could not “guarantee” that an administration official hadn’t made the remarks about Netanyahu, but said he had no idea who might have said them. “It’s not me. It’s not the President,” McDonough told interviewer Chuck Todd.

House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to deliver an address to a joint session of Congress when he visits the U.S. in March, without informing the White House first. The trip coincides with negotiations between the U.S. and others with Iran on their nuclear capabilities, which are strongly opposed by Israel and by some in Congress.

The White House said President Obama would not be meeting with Netanyahu during his visit, out of concerns that it might influence the Israeli elections due to take place two weeks after his trip.

The decision has been portrayed as a snub by the Israeli media, though McDonough said on Meet the Press that the principle would be the same for any other ally. “We think as a general matter we in the U.S. stay out of internal politics of our closest allies,” he said.

In a separate interview on ABC’s This Week Sunday, McDonough urged Congress not to pass new sanctions on Iran while the nuclear negotiations are ongoing.

“We’ve asked Congress for forbearance, for some time to allow us to run these negotiations so that it is we who are, united with our allies, maintaining Iran isolated, rather than going with some kind of premature action up there on the Hill that would risk really splintering the international community, making it we, not the Iranians, who are isolated,” he said.

TIME World

Israeli Barber Designs ‘Magic’ Hairy Yarmulke That is Basically a Toupée

Israeli hairdresser Shalom Koresh places a yarmulke, a skullcap made of hair samples, on a man's head in the city of Rehovot, Israel on Jan. 21, 2015.
Dan Balilty—AP Israeli hairdresser Shalom Koresh places a yarmulke, a skullcap made of hair samples, on a man's head in the city of Rehovot, Israel on Jan. 21, 2015.

Blends in with the wearer's hair

An Israeli barber has designed a hair-covered skullcap so that devout Jews can cover their heads without advertising their religion.

Shalom Koresh says he designed the “magic” yarmulke (also known as a kippa) to help Jews avoid trouble amid rising anti-Semitism in Europe. The yarmulke, which is designed to look just like hair on your head, has already attracted considerable interest in France and Belgium.

“This skullcap is washable, you can brush it, you can dye it,” Koresh told the Associated Press. “It was created so people could feel comfortable going to places where they are afraid to go, or places where they can’t wear it, and feel secure.”

While it’s not explicitly designed for this purpose, the “magic” yarmulke could have the added benefit of helping some men cover up signs of encroaching baldness, since it can be custom made to fit in exactly with hair color or texture.

The “Magic Kippa” is sold online. A synthetic hair kippa costs around $56, and a real-hair one costs around $91.

[AP]

 

 

TIME White House

Obama Won’t Meet With Netanyahu During Washington Visit

US-ISRAEL-OBAMA-NETANYAHU
Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images US President Barack Obama(R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on March 3, 2014.

White House blames upcoming elections in Israel

President Obama will not meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next month when he is in Washington to address a joint session of Congress, the White House said Thursday.

“As a matter of long-standing practice and principle, we do not see heads of state or candidates in close proximity to their elections, so as to avoid the appearance of influencing a democratic election in a foreign country,” National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said in a statement. “Accordingly, the President will not be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu because of the proximity to the Israeli election, which is just two weeks after his planned address to the U.S. Congress.”

MORE These Are the Elections to Watch Around the World in 2015

On Wednesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that Netanyahu had accepted an invitation to address Congress on Feb. 11, but neither the Republican leader nor the Israelis informed the White House, in a move Press Secretary Josh Earnest called a breach from protocol. The personal relationship between the U.S. and Israeli leader has deteriorated in recent years, even as both leaders argue that the professional relationship has never been stronger.

“The typical protocol would suggest that the leader of a country would contact the leader of another country when he’s traveling there,” he said. “That certainly is how President Obama’s trips are planned when we travel overseas. So this particular event seems to be a departure from that protocol.”

His address comes as congressional Republicans are pressuring Obama over the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran. During his State of the Union Address this week, Obama threatened to veto any additional sanctions legislation passed by the GOP-controlled Congress while talks are ongoing.

“The President has been clear about his opposition to Congress passing new legislation on Iran that could undermine our negotiations and divide the international community,” Meehan said. “The President has had many conversations with the Prime Minister on this matter, and I am sure they will continue to be in contact on this and other important matters.”

In a statement announcing the address, Boehner called Netanyahu “a great friend of our country.” “In this time of challenge, I am asking the Prime Minister to address Congress on the grave threats radical Islam and Iran pose to our security and way of life,” he said. “Americans and Israelis have always stood together in shared cause and common ideals, and now we must rise to the moment again.”

Read next: Yemen’s President Resigns as Capital Remains in Hands of Rebels

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TIME Israel

See the Aftermath of the Tel Aviv Bus Stabbing

Three Israelis were in serious condition Wednesday after a 23-year-old Palestinian man from the West bank attacked bus passengers with a knife. Police are calling it a terrorist attack

TIME Israel

Escape to Israel Is Not Always an Easy Answer For French Jews

Life goes on at this Jewish bakery in the Marais, a traditionally Jewish quarter in Paris, France, Jan. 11, 2015.
Julien Pebrel—MYOP for TIME Life goes on at this Jewish bakery in the Marais, a traditionally Jewish quarter in Paris, France, Jan. 11, 2015.

Some return home after finding it difficult to adapt to life in Israel

A few months ago, Pnina and Raphael Kaufmann decided enough was enough. Their six-year experiment of life in Israel was at an end. They decided to move to Strasbourg, a French city near the German border. Though it’s where Raphael Kaufmann grew up, moving back to France wasn’t what they’d expected when they moved to Israel in 2008.

At the time, Kaufmann and his wife Pnina, both lawyers, saw a disturbing rise of anti-Semitism in France and thought that Israel would be a far better place to raise their growing family.

The jobs they had found had little security and were paid far less than they were paid in France. Raphael found a new position in France last year and started commuting twice a month, meaning he was away from his family at least half the time. It was especially hard on their four children.

“There are many French Jews who emigrate to Israel, and afterwards many of them go back, because it’s too hard to make a living in Israel,” says Pnina Benjamin Kaufmann, who, along with her husband, found it difficult to requalify as a lawyer in Israel. “There are tons of people who have university degrees and professions and they find it’s impossible to work in the field, or the pay for other jobs is just too low.”

Theirs is a real but less celebrated side of the story of Jews leaving France for Israel, a trend that is predicted by the Jewish Agency, the organisation that encourages migration to Israel, to increase following the killing of four French Jews in an attack at a Paris supermarket last Friday. In 2014, 7,000 French émigrés arrived in Israel, twice the number from the year before. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky estimates French immigration will more than double this year to 15,000. The Israeli government doesn’t keep track, however, of how many new immigrants ultimately leave. And while Israel gives a wide-ranging benefits package to its newcomers to enable an easy landing in the country, for some people it’s not enough.

“When you hear Sharansky come out and say they’ll get 100,000 French Jews coming to Israel,” or close to a fifth of the Jews living in France overall, “I say, but then what? How are they going to integrate all of those people?” Benjamin Kaufmann asks. “They need to improve the way they recognize foreign diplomas and open up the job market properly.”

Mickael Bensadoun agrees that new arrivals need support. He left France for Israel in 2001 and for the past eight years he’s been the CEO of an organization called Gvahim, which helps ease the transition of young and well-educated French immigrants into the Israeli labor market by finding them internships and job placements. It’s challenging enough for Israelis to find good jobs, he notes, and most immigrants have the additional handicap of not having native-level Hebrew. What’s more, the cultural gap means the French “don’t interview well,” he says.

“The number-one problem is employment. You interview very differently in France than in Israel,” Bensadoun tells TIME. “In French culture, you’re very modest about saying you’re good at something, but in Israel it’s different, you talk yourself up and you need to sell yourself very aggressively.” Israeli employers, meanwhile, often look at a resume and see names of schools in France they don’t recognize, and end up undervaluing the level of education the newcomers arrive with, or won’t recognize their qualifications in heavily regulated professions.

With the French economy in a slump in the last few years, there has been an additional lure for French Jews to come to Israel. The economy in Israel is growing but the country has rather low wages compared to other OECD countries, putting Israel on a par with countries such as Spain, Slovenia, and Greece. Throw in the high cost of living and exorbitant real estate prices, and many find it difficult to survive. Exasperation with these trends led to a massive social protest across Israel in 2011 that resulted in few noticeable reforms. In recent months, there has been much controversy over Israelis moving abroad — to Berlin in particular — after having grown exasperated with the Israeli economic situation.

“A very important element is that for young people it is almost impossible to buy apartments unless you have very well-to-do parents. The housing in Berlin is much cheaper,” says Uri Avinery, a peace activist and former politician who regularly comments on the plight of new immigrants. Avinery says that he sees the impact of the situation when he asks after his friends’ children, and finds many of them are in Europe or the U.S.

“There’s a big outcry for the French to come here, but there is no affordable housing and there are no jobs,” he tells TIME. “It’s a gut reaction to call on them to come, but this gut reaction does not translate into initiatives, and many of them will find it impossible to stay.”

Joel Bloch, a hi-tech entrepreneur who came to Israel in 2006 and opened his fifth start-up about two years ago, says that many French immigrants like him are staying tied, professionally and economically, to France. Bloch’s company Tag’by is based in Tel Aviv but most of its business in France. That means that he flies to France at least once a month, sometimes twice.

“When you keep your business in France completely, and your personal life is here, that makes it difficult to integrate. It makes for a kind of schizophrenia,” says Bloch.

Besides the economic struggle, of course, there is the challenge of living in a place with a perennially unsolved conflict, and wars that seem to erupt nearly every two years. “When we had the war here this summer, all our family back in France was afraid for us,” says Bloch, “but right now we’re afraid for them.”

TIME U.K.

Majority of British Jews Polled Feel They Have No Long-Term Future in Europe

Jewish men talk in Golders Green, London, Jan. 10, 2015.
Paul Hackett—Reuters Jewish men talk in Golders Green, London, Jan. 10, 2015.

A poll has found that more than half of British Jews feel anti-Semitism is on the rise

A survey of Jewish people in the U.K. has found that a quarter have considered leaving the country within the last two years and more than half feel they have no long-term future in Europe.

The poll, which was carried out by YouGov for the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), asked 2,230 British Jewish people their thoughts on the country’s attitudes toward Jewish people. More than half of the Jewish Brits polled said they felt that “anti-Semitism now echoes the 1930s” and “that they have witnessed more anti-Semitism in the past two years than they have witnessed ever before.”

The poll also asked 3,411 British adults whether or not they agreed with certain antisemitic stereotypes — such as “Jews chase money more than other British people” — and found that such beliefs are widely prevalent with 45 percent of Britons polled agreeing with at least one anti-Semitic sentiment.(A quarter of those polled agreed with the statement about money.)

Gideon Falter, the chairman of the CAA, said in a foreword to the report, “Britain is at a tipping point: unless anti-Semitism is met with zero tolerance, it will continue to grow and British Jews may increasingly question their place in their own country.”

TIME France

Masses Mourn Paris Terror Victims in France and Israel

These photographs are Tuesday's funeral services for both police officers and civilians killed in last week's terror attacks in Paris

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