British Youth Reject Religion

Somewhere, they have been failed:

Religious figures have the least influence on the lives of young Britons – and more say religion is a force for evil than a force for good.

Rest at YouGov.




Obama Heads to South Africa as Mandela Still Critical

News 24:

Pretoria – US President Barack Obama flies to South Africa on Friday hoping to pay homage to the legacy of his critically ill hero Nelson Mandela, who is critically ill in hospital.

Mandela’s ill health means the two men, who shattered racial boundaries on either side of the Atlantic, are not expected to have a long-anticipated meeting for the cameras.

Still, reflections on Mandela’s extraordinary journey from prisoner to president are likely to permeate Obama’s three-day stay.

Critical condition

Mandela, who turns 95 next month, was rushed to hospital three weeks ago with a recurrent lung disease and has since appeared close to death.

On the eve of the visit, Mandela was said to be in a critical condition, but had stabilised since a scare forced President Jacob Zuma to cancel a trip to neighbouring Mozambique.

“He is much better today,” said Zuma after seeing Mandela on Thursday for the second time in less than 24 hours.

Yet South Africans, including Mandela’s family, remain braced for the worst.

“I won’t lie. It doesn’t look good,” daughter Makaziwe Mandela said. But “if we speak to him he responds and tries to open his eyes – he’s still there”.

“Anything is imminent, but I want to emphasise again that it is only God who knows when the time to go is,” she said.

Mandela’s plight has lent a deeply poignant tone to the visit, around which Obama has built a three-nation Africa tour, and his plans could yet be upended by sudden developments in the ex-president’s condition.


“The president will be speaking to the legacy of Nelson Mandela and that will be a significant part of our time in South Africa,” said deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes.

“The president will treasure any opportunity he has to celebrate that legacy.”

The White House says it is in the hands of the Mandela family and the South African authorities on any aspect of the visit.

“We will obviously be very deferential to the developments that take place and the wishes of the family and the South African government,” Rhodes said.

A visit by Obama to Mandela’s former jail cell on Robben Island, off Cape Town on Sunday would now take on extra “profundity”, he added.

‘Hero of the world’

Speaking in Senegal on the first leg of his long-awaited African trip, Obama described Mandela as “a personal hero.”

“I think he is a hero for the world, and if and when he passes from this place, one thing I think we all know is that his legacy is one that will linger on throughout the ages.”

The US president recalled how Mandela had inspired him to take up political activity, when he campaigned for the anti-apartheid movement as a student in the late 1970s.

South Africans have also been marking the life of a man who led their country out of apartheid.

Outside Mandela’s hospital a wall of messages and flowers has become the focal point for a nation saying a long goodbye to one of the greatest figures of the 20th century.

“There is no sadness here. There is celebration. He is a giant,” said Nomhlahla Donry, 57, whose husband served time with the revered leader.

Mandela has been hospitalised four times since December, mostly for a stubborn lung infection.


Bible Archaeology

Two Thousand Year Old Evidence of the Siege in Jerusalem

Some more Biblical Archaeology with which to starts the day (depending on where on earth you live). Far better than the other filth doing the rounds. In an archaeological excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority near the Western Wall:


The Antiquities Authority on Thursday unearthed for the first time a small  2,000-yearold cistern near the Western Wall that connects an archeological find  with the famine that occurred during the Roman siege of Jerusalem during that  era.

The cistern – found near Robinson’s Arch in a drainage channel from  the Shiloah Pool in the City of David – contained three intact cooking pots and  a small ceramic oil lamp.

According to Eli Shukron, the excavations  director for the Antiquities Authority, the discovery is  unprecedented.

“The complete cooking pots and ceramic oil lamp indicate  that the people went down into the cistern where they secretly ate the food that  was contained in the pots, without anyone seeing them,” he said. “This is  consistent with the account provided by Josephus.”

In his book The Jewish  War that describes the Roman siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE, the Jewish scholar  Josephus detailed the resulting hunger that ensued.

In his account,  Josephus, also known as Yosef ben Matityahu, wrote of Jewish rebels who sought  food in the homes of other starving Jews confined to the city. Fearing these  rebels would steal their food, many Jews used cisterns to conceal their meager  provisions, and later ate in hidden places within their homes.

“As the  famine grew worse, the frenzy of the partisans increased with it,” Josephus  wrote.

“For as nowhere was there corn to be seen, men broke into the  houses and ransacked them,” he continued.

“If they found some, they  maltreated the occupants for saying there was none; if they did not, they  suspected them of having hidden it more carefully and tortured  them.”

Josephus recounted that many Jews suffering from starvation would  barter their possessions for small quantities of food in order to stay  alive.

“Many secretly exchanged their possessions for one measure of  corn-wheat if they happened to be rich; barley if they were poor,” he  wrote.

“They shut themselves up in the darkest corners of their houses,  where some, through extreme hunger, ate their grain as it was; others made  bread, necessity and fear being their only guides. Nowhere was a table  laid.”

The artifacts will be on display during a July 4 conference on the  City of David, organized by the Megalim Institute.

Earlier in the week,  the Antiquities Authority uncovered in Beit Hanina a well-preserved section of  an 1,800- year-old road leading from Jerusalem to Jaffa during a routine  excavation prior to the installation of a drainage pipe in the northern  Jerusalem neighborhood.