Archaeologists in southwest China's Sichuan Province said Monday they had found a jar of rice and unbroken eggs that date back more than 500 years.
The jar was discovered from a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) tomb in a park in the city of Guang'an, said Tang Yunmei, curator of the Guang'an City Museum. Its epitaph suggests the tomb belonged to Yang Ming, who died in 1501, and his two wives.
The eggs with intact shells were buried in the rice within the jar. Their number was yet to be verified, researchers said.
Tang said the stone tomb was well sealed and had good anti-moisture and corrosion designs, including a 2-5 cm lime layer inside its wooden coffins. The jar of rice and eggs is also protected by a lid.
"The eggs are well preserved thanks to the careful construction of the tomb, which creates a confined space with constant temperature and humidity," said the curator.
Discoveries of unbroken eggs from ancient tombs are extremely rare in China. In one of the few reported cases, archaeologists in March unearthed a jar filled with eggs, with only one broken, from a 2,500-year-old tomb in east China's Jiangsu Province.
In 2015, archeologists in southwest China's Guizhou Province found an egg from a tomb dating back more than 2,000 years, but the shell cracked upon the touch of the researchers' cleaning brush.
Historians are still debating the cultural connotations of putting eggs in tombs. One theory is that it symbolizes continuity of life through numerous progeny, while others suspected that the tomb owners might just have enjoyed eating eggs when alive.
Tang said the newly found egg jar had been sealed for lab analysis using infrared rays, which is expected to verify their number and condition without causing damage.
More Syrians are benefiting from cross-border humanitarian operations than ever before, said a UN spokesman on Monday.
In November alone, the United Nations provided over 1.1 million people with food through cross-border deliveries, doubling the number in January, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The operation from Turkey has grown by more than 40 percent compared with the same time last year. Life-saving assistance such as medicine is being sent from Iraq into northeast Syria, providing assistance that otherwise cannot reach people in that area, Dujarric told a daily press briefing.
Since 2014, the UN has sent nearly 30,000 truckloads of humanitarian assistance across the four border crossings named in the Security Council Resolution 2165 (2014), he said.
Nearly 2,000 trucks have passed through those crossings in October and November this year, he added.
Some 4 million people in need across northern Syria are supported by the UN cross-border humanitarian assistance mechanism, including 2.7 million people in the northwest who rely solely on the operation for life-saving assistance, according to Dujarric.
The cross-border operations in Syria are among the most closely scrutinized aid delivery systems in the world today. The UN continues to take every step possible to ensure that the operations meet the highest standards for accountability, said the spokesman.
Over 20 of Spain's leading banks on Monday signed a commitment to take measures that will bring them in line with the aims of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition said.
The agreement was signed in the Spain pavilion during the session "Collective Commitment of Spanish Banks with Climate Action" during the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid.
The act was presided over by Jose Maria Roldan, head of the Spanish Banking Association (AEB) and other representatives of the Spanish banking sector.
As part of the agreement, the banks have committed to contribute to "measures that limit the increase in global temperature, as well as reducing vulnerability to the effects of climate change."
They will also deliver annual progress reports on how these commitments are being implemented.
Meanwhile, the next 12 months will see the banks "accelerate the shift towards lower carbon emissions and greater climate resilience through sustainable technologies and business models."
The agreement seeks to bring Spain's banks in line with the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Generally, foreigners are not allowed to buy guns in the United States. But there are exceptions written into federal law, which may explain how the Saudi flight student who shot three servicemen to death at the Pensacola naval base was able to purchase a weapon.
For example, a foreigner who manages to obtain a state hunting license and can show proof of residency in that state can legally buy a gun.
"It seems every day we find a new loophole," said Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law and an expert on gun laws and politics.
Authorities have not disclosed precisely how 21-year-old Mohammed Alshamrani, a Royal Saudi Air Force officer undergoing months of flight training at the Florida military base, obtained the Glock 9 mm handgun he used in the attack Friday that ended with him being killed. But the FBI said it was purchased legally in Florida.
In the aftermath of the rampage, which the FBI is treating as a terrorist attack, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis questioned whether foreigners should be allowed to buy guns. The Republican governor said he supports the Second Amendment but it "does not apply to Saudi Arabians."
Law enforcement officials from nations friendly to the United States who are here on official business as well as foreigners who have entered the U.S. through the visa waiver program are among those exempted from the laws against foreigners buying weapons.
In Florida, like many other states, foreigners and non-residents can buy a hunting license. Getting one requires no background check, and it can be done online. With that license in hand, a foreigner can then purchase a firearm, provided the would-be buyer can show the dealer proof that he or she is living in the state.
It is at that point that the person would have to undergo a background check.
There have been instances of foreigners seeking to exploit American gun laws.
In one case in 2017, more than half a dozen Chinese students at the University of Arizona obtained hunting licenses and then purchased firearms. In that particular case, it did not appear to be for nefarious purposes but out of a desire to do something not allowed in their home country: possess a gun.
That same year, a Canadian man intent on carrying out an attack at the Flint, Michigan, airport twice tried to buy a weapon at a gun show, expecting it wouldn't require a background check. When that failed, he bought a knife and used it in an attack at the airport that injured two people.
The attacker, who was born in Tunisia and traveled to the U.S. with his Canadian passport, was sentenced to life in prison. At his sentencing, he told the judge: "Do I regret what I did? Never. I regret I didn't get that machine gun. I regret I didn't kill that cop."
UCLA's Winkler said these cases, underscored by the Pensacola attack, expose failings in American gun laws.
"Terrorists see our lax gun laws as an opening for terrorist attacks, that they don't need to use bombs, they don't need to commit suicide and blow themselves up. All they need to do is come to America and have easy access to guns," he said.
Gun-rights supporters said there are valid reasons for allowing foreigners to obtain guns for hunting. Just as Americans travel overseas to hunt big game, foreigners are keen to travel to the U.S. to bag animals that don't exist in their home countries.
"There is a vibrant hunting industry that happens here in the United States," said Mark Oliva, spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. "There are species that are iconic to North America."
That said, NSSF, which represents the gun industry, is also trying to find out more about how Alshamrani got his weapon and whether any laws were broken when he obtained it.
Obtaining the hunting license wouldn't guarantee a foreigner a gun; buying one would still require demonstrating valid residency and passing a background check.
Still, gun-control advocates suggest there are limits to what a background check might flag when looking into the past of a foreigner. In the U.S., people prohibited from purchasing a firearm include convicted felons, domestic abusers, substance abusers and those involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
"Obviously our background check system is largely not going to pick up criminal histories from abroad," said David Chipman, a retired agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive who is now a senior policy adviser with Giffords, the gun-control group.
"There are obviously loopholes in our gun laws," he said. "We live in a country where the priority is easy access to the sale of guns because of a powerful lobby that has set it up that way because they want to profit from it."
The FBI was justified in opening its investigation into ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia and did not act with political bias, the Justice Department's internal watchdog declared Monday, undercutting President Donald Trump's repeated claims that he has been the target of a "witch hunt."
The long-awaited report rejected theories and criticism spread by Trump and his supporters, though it also found "serious performance failures" up the bureau's chain of command that Republicans are citing as evidence that Trump was targeted by an unfair investigation.
The affirmation of the investigation's legitimacy, balanced by criticism of the way it was conducted, ensured that partisan battles would persist over one of the most politically sensitive investigations in FBI history. Another review of the origins of the probe continues, and the prosecutor picked by Attorney General William Barr to lead that effort hinted Monday he'll take a harder view of the FBI's actions.
Monday's review by Inspector General Michael Horowitz knocked down multiple lines of attack against the Russia investigation, finding that it was properly opened and that law enforcement leaders were not motivated by political bias. Contrary to the claims of Trump and other critics, it said that opposition research compiled by an ex-British spy named Christopher Steele had no bearing on the decision to open the investigation known as Crossfire Hurricane. And it rejected allegations that a former Trump campaign aide at the center of the probe was set up by the FBI.
It found that the FBI had an "authorized purpose" when it opened its investigation in July 2016 into whether the Trump campaign was coordinating with Russia to tip the election in his favor. The report said the FBI had cause to investigate a potential national security threat.
FBI Director Chris Wray, in an interview with The Associated Press, noted that the report did not find political bias but that it did identify problems that are "unacceptable and unrepresentative of who we are as an institution."
The FBI is implementing more than 40 actions aimed at fixing some of the bureau's most fundamental operations, such as applying for surveillance warrants and interacting with confidential sources.
Those changes are in response to some of the report's criticisms. They largely centered on how law enforcement officials set about eavesdropping on a former Trump campaign aide who they said they feared was being targeted for Russian government recruitment.
The inspector general identified 17 "significant inaccuracies or omissions" in applications for a warrant and later renewals from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The watchdog found that the FBI had overstated the significance of Steele's past work as an informant and omitted information about one of his sources who he said "may engage in some embellishment." Those errors, the report said, resulted in "applications that made it appear that the information supporting probable cause was stronger than was actually the case."
Republicans have long criticized the process since the FBI relied in part on opposition research from Steele, whose work was financed by Democrats and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and that fact was not disclosed to the judges who approved the warrant.
Though the surveillance has been central to Republican objections about the investigation, the eavesdropping was not necessarily central to the probe itself — which had been underway for months before the warrant was sought.
The report also details that the FBI used an informant to set up and record a September 2016 meeting with a high-level Trump campaign official. The official wasn't identified by name, but was not a subject of the Russia investigation, the report said. While the information collected wasn't used during the Russia probe, it does lend support to the assertions by Trump and Barr that the Trump campaign was spied upon.
The document's release, coming as a House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing centers on the president's interactions with Ukraine, brought fresh attention to the legal and political investigations that have entangled the White House from the moment Trump took office.
Political divisions were evident in responses to the report.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said it makes clear that the basis for the FBI's investigation was "valid and without political bias."
Trump, in remarks at the White House, claimed it showed "an attempted overthrow and a lot of people were in on it."
The president has repeatedly said he is more eager for the report of John Durham, the prosecutor Barr selected to investigate how intelligence was gathered. Both Barr and Durham issued statements disputing the inspector general's conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to open the FBI investigation. The attorney general's reaction was especially unusual in that the head of the Justice Department typically would not take issue with an internal investigation that clears a department agency of serious misconduct.
"The Inspector General's report now makes clear that the FBI launched an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions that, in my view, were insufficient to justify the steps taken," Barr said in a statement.
Durham, in a brief statement, said he had informed Horowitz that he also didn't agree with the conclusion that the inquiry was properly opened, and suggested his own investigation would back up his disagreement.
The FBI's Russia investigation, which was ultimately taken over by special counsel Robert Mueller, began in July 2016 after the FBI learned that a former Trump campaign aide, George Papadopoulos, had been saying before it was publicly known that Russia had dirt on Democratic opponent Clinton in the form of stolen emails. Those emails, which were hacked from Democratic email accounts by Russian intelligence, were released by WikiLeaks before the election in what U.S. officials have said was an effort to harm Clinton's campaign and help Trump.
The report concluded that that revelation was a sufficient basis for opening the investigation. It knocked down claims by Papadopoulos that he was set up by the FBI or that the professor who told him about the hacked emails was an FBI informant.
Months later, the FBI sought and received the Page warrant. Officials were concerned that Page was being targeted for recruitment by the Russian government, though he has denied wrongdoing and has never been charged with a crime.
The inspector general also found that an FBI lawyer is suspected of altering an email to make it appear that an official at another government agency had said Page was not a source for that agency, even though he was.
Agents were concerned that if Page had worked as a source for another government agency, the FBI would have needed to tell the surveillance court about that, the report said, and contacted the other agency to obtain additional information. But the FBI lawyer "did not accurately convey, and in fact altered, the information he received from the other agency."
The lawyer is not identified by name in the report, but people familiar with the situation have said he is Kevin Clinesmith. The inspector general's report said officials notified the attorney general and FBI director and provided them with information about the altered email.
The inspector general conducted more than 170 interviews involving more than 100 witnesses.