Heaven announces the new Michael Jackson Welcome Tour!

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Heaven made a very special press release earlier today. They announced that Michael Jackson, who arrived earlier today after been processed at the Pearly Gates, has agreed to perform a tour this season, attending all 250 arenas all across Heaven.

The response has been immense. Tickets sold out within minutes. Some people were quoted as saying: “I would give my soul for a ticket”. Heaven administrators are contemplating organising another tour, before some of Heaven’s residents become tempted with doing something they shouldn’t, just to be able to attend one of the concerts.

A Heaven spokesperson released the following statement earlier:

“Not since the deaths of Jimmy Hendrix and Elvis Presley has there been such a demand for concert tickets in Heaven. That was one of the reasons why we built and extra 150 stadiums, bringing the total up to 250, to meet the growing demand for concerts of recently deceased super stars. We strive to keep the entertainment standards in Heaven on a very high par. We don’t want the competition, we all know who they are, to start to sound more apealing to people, alive and dead. We are currently talking to God about the possibilities of having Michael Jackson perform until everybody in Heaven who wants to see him, gets their chance. After all, Elvis still hasn’t had even one day to put his feet up, since he is still touring Heaven because of the huge demand. We believe we made the right decision not to let his (Elvis’) manager into Heaven, because lawyers always make thing way too complicated. Michael Jackson’s lawyer will be treated the same way.”

Unofficial sources told us about rumors that Michael Jackson got into Heaven because of hundreds of millions of prayers that was directed at God and Jesus right after his death. Heaven saw the opportunity and the benefits of letting this hugely popular super star into Heaven right away. It has been a while since an adult passed through the processing facility at The Pearly Gates this quickly.

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Evolution faster when it’s warmer

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By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News

Rainforest

The results could help explain why the warm tropics are so species-rich

Climate could have a direct effect on the speed of “molecular evolution” in mammals, according to a study.

Researchers have found that, among pairs of mammals of the same species, the DNA of those living in warmer climates changes at a faster rate.

These mutations – where one letter of the DNA code is substituted for another – are a first step in evolution.

The study, reported in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, could help explain why the tropics are so species-rich.

DNA can mutate and change imperceptibly every time a cell divides and makes a copy of itself.

But when one of these mutations causes a change that is advantageous for the animal – for example, rendering it resistant to a particular disease – it is often “selected for”, or passed down to the next few generations of that same species.

Such changes, which create differences within a population but do not give rise to new species, are known as “microevolution”.

The idea that microevolution happens faster in warmer environments is not new. But this is the first time the effect has been shown in mammals, which regulate their own body temperature.

“The result was unexpected,” said Len Gillman from Auckland University of Technology, who led the study.

“We have previously found a similar result for plant species and other groups have seen it in marine animals. But since these are ‘ectotherms’ – their body temperature is controlled directly by the environment – everyone assumed that the effect was caused by climate altering their metabolic rate.”

Scientists believe that this link between temperature and metabolic rate means that, in warmer climates, the germ cells that eventually develop into sperm and eggs divide more frequently.

“An increase in cell division provides more opportunities for mutations in the population over a given time,” explained Dr Gillman.

“This increases the probability of advantageous mutations that are selected for within the species.”

‘Sister species’

“We suspected the same effect might be happening in mammals, because seasonal changes affect the animals’ activity,” Dr Gillman told BBC News.

Lemur

Lemurs were one of the 130 pairs of closely related mammals investigated

He and his team compared the DNA of 130 pairs of mammals, looking at genetically similar “sister species” – where each of the pair lived at a different latitude or elevation.

They tracked changes in one gene that codes for a protein known as cytochrome b, comparing the same gene in each of the pair of mammals to a “reference” gene in a common ancestor.

By looking for mutations in the DNA code for this gene – each point where one letter in the code was substituted for another – the researchers were able to see which of the two mammals had “microevolved” faster.

Animals living in environments where the climate was warmer, had about 1.5 times more of these substitutions than the animals living in cooler environments.

Dr Gillman explained that, at higher latitudes where environments are colder and less productive, animals often conserve their energy – hibernating or resting to reduce their metabolic activity.

“In warmer climates annual metabolic activity is likely to be greater, so this will lead to more total cell divisions per year in the germline.”

These results support the idea that high tropical biodiversity is caused by faster rates of evolution in warmer climates.

Two thirds of teenagers don’t believe in God

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Published: 4:22PM BST 22 Jun 2009

Teenagers even say family, friends, money, music and even reality television are more important than religion.

It also emerged six out of ten 10 children (59 per cent) believe that religion “has a negative influence on the world”.

The survey also shows that half of teenagers have never prayed and 16 per cent have never been to church.

The study of 1,000 teenagers aged 13 to 18 was carried out by Penguin to mark this week’s publication of controversial novel ‘Killing God’ by Kevin Brooks.

The book is about a 15-year-old girl who questions the existence of God.

Kevin Brooks, the author, said: “I can’t say I am surprised by the teenagers’ responses.

“Part of the reason that I wrote Killing God was that I wanted to explore the personal attitudes of young people today, especially those with troubled lives, towards organised religion and the traditional concept of God.

“How can the moralities of an ancient religion relate to the tragedies and disorders of today’s broken world? And why do some people turn to God for help while others take comfort in drugs and alcohol?

“These are just some of the questions I wanted to consider… And I wasn’t looking for answers.”

The research also found 55 per cent of young people are not bothered about religion and 60 per cent only go to church for a wedding or christening.

Only three out of 10 teenagers believe in an afterlife and 41 per cent believe that nothing happens to your body when you die, but one in 10 reckon they come back as an animal or another human being.

A Church of England spokesman said: “Many teenagers aren’t sure what they believe at that stage of their lives, as is clear from the number who said they don’t know whether they believe in God.

“On the other hand many of these results point to the great spirituality of young people today that the Church is seeking to respond to through new forms of worship alongside tradition ones.”

Hanne Stinson, chief executive of The British Humanist Association, said: “It confirms that young people – like adults – do not need a religion to have positive values.

“The ‘golden rule’, which is often claimed by religions as a religious value, is in reality a shared human value – shared by all the major religions and the non-religious and almost every culture – that predates all the major world religions.”

Buchan aan die woord voor 3 000 ignorant mans in Engeland

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Buchan aan die woord voor 3 000 mans
Marlene Malan


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Kaapstad

Sowat 3 000 mans trek sedert Vrydag in Engeland saam om na die boodskap van die Suid-Afrikaanse prediker en aartappelboer, mnr. Angus Buchan, te luister.

’n Groep in Engeland wat hulself Healing the Land noem, het Buchan genooi om die eerste groot Christelike saamtrek van mans in dié land te lei omdat hulle by die Suid-Afrikaanse Mighty Men-byeenkomste (MMC) “ ’n volk voor ons oë sien verander het”.

Só het mnr. Richard Nicol, een van die organiseerders van die afgelope naweek se byeenkoms met die tema Father & Sons op ’n plaas naby die stad Worcester in Engeland, Vrydag aan Rapport gesê.

“Nadat ons in Suid-Afrika ’n volk voor ons oë sien verander het by die MMC-byeenkomste in 2006, 2007, 2008 en 2009 het ons ons geroepe gevoel om dieselfde soort samekoms met dieselfde gebedsgesindheid in Brittanje te reël om te sien wat God vir ons wil doen.”

Die tema verwys na die verhouding waarin mans met God behoort te staan. Buchan het dit Vrydagaand geopen.

Dit word, net soos in Greytown, vandag met ’n gesinsbyeenkoms afgesluit.

’n Groep van 25 Suid-Afrikaners en 5 Namibiërs het Vrydag hier aangekom om die saamtrek by te woon.

Mnr. André Greyling van Krugersdorp, wat die toer gereël het, het gister die saamtrek as “astronomies, ongelooflik, amazing” beskryf.

Volgens hom was daar ’n hele paar Suid-Afrikaners wat in Engeland woon in die tentedorp op die plaas Top Barn, in die Worcester-distrik.

“Ek hoor Afrikaans hier, maar dis duidelik die Buchan-verskynsel het nou ook in Engeland posgevat. Die gelowiges hier het kennis geneem van Angus Buchan.”

Greyling het gister aan Rapport gesê Buchan het die gehoor Vrydagaand vertel van die toevalle wat hy in April tydens die MMC-konferensie gehad het en gesê dit het hom nog nader aan God gebring.

“Hy het gesê hy het sy saak met God reggemaak, want sy siekte het hom laat besef hoe nietig hy is. Dis wat elkeen behoort te doen.”

Volgens Nicol is Healing the Land in 2002 gestig as ’n bedieningsarm van die Top Barn-trust, ’n Christelike liefdadigheidsorganisasie op die plaas Top Barn, wat aan mnr. David Harper behoort.

’n Groot tent waarin Buchan preek, is opgeslaan en die mans gaan onder meer in ’n tentedorp op ’n oop stuk grond tuis.

Geen toegangsgeld word gevra nie en etes, tee en koffie is ook gratis verskaf.

“In 2002 was die landbougemeenskap teen die grond deur die siekte bek-en-klouseer wat hul diere die vorige jaar getref het.

“David was so geïnspireer toe hy Angus se boek, Faith like Potatoes, gelees het dat hy hom toe die eerste keer genooi het om sy storie aan die boere hier te kom vertel sodat hulle weer moed kan skep.

“Angus het toe voor 12 groepies oor die hele land gepraat. Top Barn werk deesdae nou saam met die Shalom-trust in Suid-Afrika.”

Greyling het aan Rapport gesê hy hoop om aanstaande jaar baie meer Suid-Afrikaners saam te neem.

“Jy sal nie glo wat hier aangaan nie. Ons mans praat met mekaar oor God as ons Vader, wat Hy vir ons doen, wat ons kan saamneem huis toe.

“Almal hier stem saam dat die Buchan-byeenkomste dalk die begin is van ’n Christelike, Goddelike revolusie.

“Hier in Engeland staan die Christelike boodskap sterk, maar daar is ’n behoefte aan die verkondiging van die Woord onder afvalliges.”

New dinosaur gives bird wing clue

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Limusarus fossil (James Clark)

The Limusaurus fossil sits among small crocodile fossils

A new dinosaur unearthed in western China has shed light on the evolution from dinosaur hands to the wing bones in today’s birds.

The fossil, from about 160 million years ago, has been named Limusaurus inextricabilis.

The find contributes to a debate over how an ancestral hand with five digits evolved to one with three in birds.

The work, published in Nature, suggests that the middle three digits, rather than the inside three, remain.

Theropods – the group of dinosaurs ancestral to modern birds and which include the fearsome Tyrannosaurus rex – are known for having hands and feet with just three digits.

It’s a really weird animal – it’s got no teeth, had a beak and a very long neck, and very wimpy forelimbs
James Clark, GWU

It has been a matter of debate how the three-fingered hand developed from its five-fingered ancestor. Each digit among the five was composed of a specific number of bones, or phalanges.

Palaeontologists have long argued that it is the first, second, and third fingers from that ancestral hand that survived through to modern birds, on grounds that the three fingers in later animals exhibit the correct number of phalanges.

However, developmental biologists have shown that bird embryos show growth of all five digits, but it is the first and fifth that later stop growing and are reabsorbed.

The remaining three bones fuse and form a vestigial “hand” hidden in the middle of a bird’s wing.

‘Weird animal’

James Clark of George Washington University in Washington DC and Xing Xu from the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing hit an palaeontologist’s gold mine in the Junggar Basin of northwestern China.

Previous digs have unearthed the oldest known fossil belonging to the tyrannosaur group and the oldest horned dinosaur among several others.

Limusarus fossil (Portia Sloan)

The dinosaurs had beaks and may have had feathers

This time, the ancient mire has yielded a primitive ceratosaur, a theropod that often had horns or crests, many of whom had knobbly fingers without claws.

“It’s a really weird animal – it’s got no teeth, had a beak and a very long neck, and very wimpy forelimbs,” Professor Clark told BBC News.

“Then when we looked closely at the hand, we noticed it was relevant to a very big question in palaeontology.”

The fossil has a first finger which is barely present, made up of just one small bone near the wrist. The fifth finger is gone altogether.

It is a fossil that appears to offer a snapshot of evolution, proving that the more modern three-fingered hand is made up of the middle digits of the ancestral hand, with the outer two being shed.

The third finger is made up of the four phalange bones that the second should have, and it is presumed that the second would lose one bone to become like the first finger that was missing in the fossil.

This process of shifting patterns of gene expression from one limb or digit to another is known as an “identity shift”, and was again caught in the act – making the conflicting theories of bird hand origin suddenly align.

“This is amazing – it’s the first time we’ve seen this thing actually starting to disappear,” Jack Conrad, a palaeontologist at the American Museum of Natural History, told BBC News.

“There’s been this fundamental rift – there was no way to make peace between the good data we were seeing from the developmental biologists and the palaeontological evidence that showed with every fossil we found we were seeing [fingers] one, two and three.”