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According to leaked Sony emails, Ben Affleck asked PBS producers not to reveal one of his ancestors was a slave-owner.

Ben Affleck, 42, was taking part in PBS’ Finding Your Roots series, where experts research a celebrity’s family history, when the discovery was made.

The public television says in a statement that they didn’t censor the slave-owner details.

It is “very common” to find slave-owning ancestors during research, the show’s host says.

“For any guest, we always find far more stories about ancestors on their family trees than we ever possibly could use,” Prof. Henry Louis Gates says in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

Photo PBS

Photo PBS

Prof. Henry Louis Gates says both film director Ken Burns and journalist Anderson Cooper also found out while making Finding Your Roots that relatives of theirs had owned slaves.

The details of Ben Affleck’s slave-owning family member were not included when his episode of Finding Your Roots was broadcast.

“In the case of Mr. Affleck – we focused on what we felt were the most interesting aspects of his ancestry – including a Revolutionary War ancestor, a third great-grandfather who was an occult enthusiast and his mother who marched for Civil Rights during the Freedom Summer of 1964,” says Prof. Henry Louis Gates in a statement on the PBS website.

Earlier this year, Ben Affleck received a People’s Choice award for his humanitarian work in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The email chain between Prof. Henry Louis Gates and Sony Pictures co-chairman and chief executive Michael Lynton was one of many thousands of emails and documents from last year’s Sony hack that WikiLeaks put into a searchable online archive on April 16.

“Here’s my dilemma: confidentially, for the first time, one of our guests has asked us to edit out something about one of his ancestors – the fact that he owned slaves,” Henry Louis Gates wrote on July 22, 2014.

“Now, four or five of our guests this season descend from slave owners, including Ken Burns. We’ve never had anyone ever try to censor or edit what we found. He’s a megastar. What do we do?”

Michael Lynton replies the same day, saying: “I would take it out if no one knows, but if it gets out that you are editing the material based on this kind of sensitivity then it gets tricky. Again, all things being equal I would definitely take it out.”

After further exchanges Henry Louis Gates and Michael Lynton seem to agree that censorship is a bad idea.

“It would embarrass him and compromise our integrity. I think he is getting very bad advice,” Henry Louis Gates writes.

“Once we open the door to censorship, we lose control of the brand.”

Ben Affleck is never referred to by name in the emails – instead he is called “megastar” or “Batman”. At the time of the exchange Ben Affleck was filming Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.


Nationality, ethnicity and citizenship

The persons who share an ancestor, a homeland, a heritage that includes language, culture (often including traditions, food preferences and the same religion) can be called ethnic group. The group is recognized as being distinctive from other groups. The young members become conscious of belonging to that ethnic group as they grow up, they seek the other members’ approval, and often they are proud to be part of that group.

A group of persons with the same language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history can be called nation. Also the people who live on the same territory and under the same government, no matter what ethnicity they have, may be called nation. A country or a sovereign state may be referred to as nation in international relations.

Being part of a political, social, national community (a country or a city) makes a person a citizen. A person without a citizenship is stateless. However, trade organizations, non-governmental organizations, multi-national corporations, cross the national and geographical boundaries and a person can be “citizen of the world”, having the sense, being conscious of belonging to the entire mankind.


 The state of being a citizen, or the citizenship, implies a number of rights and obligations.


Generally, the citizenship implies a social contract between the community (through certain representatives, the state) and the citizen. The citizen is entitled to receive protection from the community, and in the same time he or she has responsibilities (to obey the law, to pay taxes, to vote).

Citizenship is viewed as a link between an individual and a state in the eyes of law. International law sees citizenship as synonymous to nationality, but these terms may have different meanings under national law.

Citizenship can be obtained through jus sanguinis (“right of blood”) policy and through jus soli (“right of soil”) policy. Jus sanguinis implies a certain ancestry or ethnicity. Through jus soli policy anyone born on the territory of the state can obtain citizenship. Also there is a hybrid birthright requirement of local nativity and citizenship of at least one parent. Citizenship can also be obtained through jure matrimonii (marriage to a citizen), or through naturalization (holding a legal status as a full-time resident for a period of time and promise to obey and uphold country’s laws). The dual citizenship is allowed, or forbidden, depending on the state’s law.

Every human being needs to be a part of a group. The group, no matter its size, can provide protection, and recognition, satisfying the person needs. Also a person wants to be similar to, yet different from other persons. You cannot choose where to be born, but you can choose where to live on the Earth. In modern times, the terms of ethnicity, nationality, and citizenship are beginning to loose their strong significance and although ethnicity cannot be change, one can choose his/her nationality.

A research team has discovered what is believed to be the world’s oldest animal life, sponge-like fossils unearthed in rocks in a national park in Namibia.

According to researchers, the find in Etosha National Park proves that sponges are the earliest forms of animal life.

The fossils were found in rocks between 760 million and 550 million years old.

They are tiny speck-sized, vase-shaped creatures.

The experts analyzed thousands of the fossils using X-rays and scanning electron microscopes.

A research team has discovered what is believed to be the world's oldest animal life, sponge-like fossils unearthed in rocks in a national park in Namibia

A research team has discovered what is believed to be the world's oldest animal life, sponge-like fossils unearthed in rocks in a national park in Namibia

The discovery places the emergence of animals 100 to 150 million years earlier than scientists had previously thought.

The scientists describe the fossils as our “great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother”.

Scientists had predicted that the earliest life would take the form of sponges.

Earlier fossil finds in Australia had seemed to confirm this.

“If one looks at the family tree and projects this backward to where you have what’s called the stem group, the ancestor of all animals, then yes, this would be our great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother,” says researcher Tony Prave of the University of St Andrews.

“The aspect of this that’s rather satisfying, at least intellectually, is that it is in broad agreement with what geneticists would tell us based on looking at molecular clocks when we should see the first advent of large multi-cellular life forms.”

“This proves that the early lineages of animals go back considerably further in time,” say the researchers.

“The age of the fossils age places the advent of animals some 100 to 150million years earlier than proposed, and prior to the extreme climatic changes of Ediacaran time,” say the researchers.

These findings support the predictions based on genetic sequencing and inferences drawn from biomarkers that the first animals were sponges.