US Press Review: Syria dominates Congress, new history of ancient Egypt
By Bishoy Ramzy

Headlines of U.S. media outlets on Monday reported that Syria will dominate the coming sessions of the U.S. Congress at the expense of other pressing issues; Egypt will buy wheat at higher prices;  and new facts about ancient Egypt unfold.

U.S. Washington Examiner newspaper said Syria will take center stage in Congress this week when lawmakers return from summer recess to face critical vote on whether to authorize President Barak Obama to launch a military strike against the war-torn nation.

It added that the debate over Syria has swiftly shifted attention away from other pressing matters, at least temporarily, including the need for a new temporary government funding bill, a looming debt ceiling fight and the debate over a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

It stressed that the fate of the war resolution is far from clear. It clarified that the debate on Syria will begin in the democratically controlled Senate, where a 60-vote threshold will likely be needed to pass the measure and many Democrats and Republicans remain either opposed to it or uncommitted.

The U.S. newspaper continued that lawmakers in the Republican-led House have not drafted their own resolution authorizing a strike, although the top House leaders in both parties have endorsed such a measure.

The newspaper signaled that lawmakers attended hearings and classified briefings over the past week at which White House officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, worked to convince them that they should give Obama the green light to attack Syria.

Science News revealed a new study to assign precise dates to ancient Egypt’s earliest years and finds that the transition from widely dispersed, small communities to a centralized state with powerful rulers took centuries less than previously thought.

According to the newspaper, the new study published in the Sept. 4 Proceedings of the Royal Society A, assigns precise dates to that chronology based on statistical analysis of data collected from about 150 artifacts. It added that chronologist Michael Dee of the University of Oxford in England and colleagues called up museums and acquired dozens of reeds, textiles, hairs and bones found in burial sites predating the pyramids. They broke off small pieces, dating each using radiocarbon methods.

It continued that Dee’s team relied on statistics to assemble these clues into reliable dates. They plugged the data into a computer algorithm, which came up with millions of possibilities for dates that matched all the criteria. For each set of artifacts that were roughly the same age, most of those possibilities coalesced around a specific range of dates, allowing the researchers to come up with estimates they were confident of.

It added that For the most part, the results were consistent with previous approximations. But two dates stood out: 3700 B.C. and 3100 B.C. for, respectively, the first permanent agricultural villages and the assumption of power by the first monarch, Aha. The researchers concluded that Egypt took only 600 years to evolve from a migrating population of cattle owners to a centralized state.

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