Jesus' baptism happened in the Jordan River (Matthew 3:13), but exactly where in the river is a long-running debate. Today, however, UNESCO designated an area on the east bank of the Jordan as a World Heritage site, saying it “is believed to be” the actual location of Jesus' baptism. There are tourist sites on both the east bank (located in Jordan) and the west (located in the Israeli-occupied, Palestinian-claimed west bank). Expectedly, the decision is popular in Jordan, but a Palestinian official said the west bank site should have been included. Experts say there is no archaeological evidence that the east bank was the true location, but many churches accept it as the authentic location. And UNESCO apparently agrees, too. Discuss
Just two weeks after 30-year-old Alaa Bader Abdullah al-Hashemi was found guilty of murdering an American schoolteacher, officials in the United Arab Emirates executed her. Al-Hashemi was convicted of a grisly attack on an American woman at a high-end shopping mall, killing her in a restroom with a butcher knife. American Ibolya Ryan was working as an elementary school teacher in the country where she lived with her 11-year-old twins. Al-Hashemi also tried to kill an American doctor in the country with a homemade bomb (which did not detonate as planned), and the courts found her guilty of sending money to al-Qaida in Yemen. Discuss
Remember when we downgraded Pluto from a planet to a dwarf planet (whatever that is)? Well, the space object doesn’t appear to hold it against us. In a recent photo taken by NASA's New Horizons probe—from five million miles away—the little non-planet shows us its heart. Or maybe it’s a geographical white patch on its surface. Either way, thank you, Pluto. We wish you were still a planet.
Oh, and apparently the image also reveals a dark object that NASA is calling "the whale." Discuss
A guy in Yannan China apparently raised a pair of puppies for two years. And then he found out those puppies are bears. The man, Wang Kayui, unsurprisingly bought the "puppies" from strangers, but he didn’t see anything unusual about his new pets. So Kayui took them home and even bathed and groomed them everyday, like a good dog-bear owner. Then he noticed growing appetites and, well, growing animals. The reality check came when the “puppies” began killing and eating Kayui’s pet chickens, because he also owns pet chickens. Then a pamphlet about endangered bears confirmed that his pets are actually Asian black bears. This all goes to prove that old Chinese proverb: Make sure your dogs aren’t bears. Discuss
Canada, the country where somehow Nickelback remains legal and riding a moose across a lake is against the law, is now cracking down on another so-called “crime”: Strapping more than 100 helium balloons to a $20 lawn chair and flying thousands of feet in the air to promote your cleaning business. Twentysomething Dan Boria piloted the Up-like creation carrying a banner advertising his cleaning company and learned the hard way that the Canadian legal system makes no sense whatsoever. Though high winds blew him off course and he missed his target of some local chuckwagon races (which are evidently a thing in Canada), Boria has managed to drum up some publicity for his company.
He’s made international news, but only after being arrested by the Canadian fun police who charged him with “mischief causing danger to life.” Despite the arrest, the Canadian hero is still in good spirits after being released on bail. He told The Calgary Sun, “I can’t specify the altitude I went to. I was looking down at a 757; it was a surreal experience … It was awesome. It was the most fun thing I’ve ever done.” Discuss
This weekend, the radical Islamic group ISIS released a new video, showing what appeared to be the execution of 25 men by a group of boys. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, ISIS gathered a large crowd at the ancient amphitheater in Plamyra and executed the individuals who had been accused of being part of the Syrian government’s forces. Last week, ISIS also released a statement saying it had intentionally destroyed several artifacts from the 2,000-year-old UNESCO World Heritage site. Discuss