In Brief | Nation & World 8-15-13


Petroglyphs in Nevada dated to more than 10,000 years old

PYRAMID LAKE, Nev.— Ancient rock etchings along a dried-up lake bed in Nevada have been confirmed to be the oldest recorded petroglyphs in North America, dating back at least 10,000 years.

The petroglyphs found on limestone boulders near Pyramid Lake in northern Nevada’s high desert are similar in design to etchings found at a lake in Oregon that are believed to be at least 7,600 years old. Unlike later drawings that sometimes depict a spear or antelope, the carvings are abstract with tightly clustered geometric designs — some are diamond patterns, others have short parallel lines on top of a longer line.

Scientists can’t tell for sure who carved them, but they were found on the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe’s reservation land.

“We initially thought people 12,000 or 10,000 years ago were primitive, but their artistic expressions and technological expertise associated with these paints a much different picture,” said Eugene Hattori, the curator of anthropology at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City.

The petroglyphs could be as much as 14,800 years old, said Larry Benson, a geochemist who used radiocarbon testing to date the etchings and was the lead author of the research paper.

Michael Jackson’s ex-wife testifies about singer’s fear of pain, trust of doctors

LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson’s ex-wife broke into tears on Wednesday when she took the witness stand in a civil case and described the singer’s fear of pain and reliance on physicians.

Debbie Rowe said the pop star trusted doctors to prescribe pain medication to him, but they sometimes tried to outdo each other while losing sight of Jackson’s care.

“Michael had a very low pain tolerance and his fear of pain was incredible,” Rowe said. “I think the doctors took advantage of him that way.”

She said she was with Jackson when he received treatments from his longtime dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein and from plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Hoefflin.

They would try to out-do each other, with each one prescribing different drugs while trying to persuade Jackson their recommendations were better to manage his pain, she said.

Bolivian records say Aymara herder is oldest person ever at 123

FRASQUIA, Bolivia — If Bolivia’s public records are correct, Carmelo Flores Laura is the oldest living person ever documented.

They say he turned 123 a month ago.

The native Aymara lives in a straw-roofed dirt-floor hut in an isolated hamlet near Lake Titicaca at 13,100 feet, is illiterate, speaks no Spanish and has no teeth.

Al-Qaida threat that closed US embassies was discussed in online jihadi chat room

WASHINGTON — Al-Qaida fighters have been using secretive chat rooms and encrypted Internet message boards for planning and coordinating attacks — including the threatened if vague plot that U.S. officials say closed 19 diplomatic posts across Africa and the Middle East for more than a week.

It’s highly unlikely that al-Qaida’s top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, or his chief lieutenant in Yemen, Nasser al-Wahishi, were personally part of the Internet chatter or, given the intense manhunt for both by U.S. spy agencies, that they ever go online or pick up the phone to discuss terror plots, experts said.

But the unspecified call to arms by the al-Qaida leaders, using a multi-layered subterfuge to pass messages from couriers to tech-savvy underlings to attackers, provoked a quick reaction by the U.S. to protect Americans in far-flung corners of the world where the terror network is evolving into regional hubs.

For years, extremists have used online forums to share information and drum up support, and over the past decade they have developed systems that blend encryption programs with anonymity software to hide their tracks. Jihadist technology may now be so sophisticated and secretive, experts say, that many communications avoid detection by National Security Agency programs that were specifically designed to uncover terror plots.

A U.S. intelligence official said the unspecified threat was discussed in an online forum joined by so many jihadist groups that it included a representative from Boko Haram, the Nigerian insurgency that has loose and informal ties to al-Qaida. Two other intelligence officials characterized the threat as more of an alert to get ready to launch potential attacks than a discussion of specific targets.

By wire sources