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The secret history of Alaska: How Russia was led to sell its American stronghold

© Flickr / Teddy Llovet
There is still a lot of controversy about Alaska's cession to the United States by Russian Emperor Alexander II; some experts call the treaty in question, suggesting that Alaska may hypothetically be returned to Russia.

The real story of the cession of the Russian Possessions in North America — Alaska — by "his Majesty the Emperor of all the Russians" Alexander II to the United States of America is still shrouded in mystery.

The Treaty of Cession of Alaska was inked 148 years ago, on March 30, by Russian and American plenipotentiaries: the Privy Councillor Edward de Stoeckl and US Secretary of State William H. Seward, respectively.

Comment: For more secret history, check out:


Top Secret

Top 10 Secret US Military bases

It should come as no surprise that with an annual military budget of over $610 billion, the United States invests in some gargantuan black ops and top secret facilities. These include warfare testing, nuclear bunkers, chemical experimentation, Continuance of Government (COG) command centers, and a wide variety of both known and unknown contingency preparation. Some of the facilities, like the infamous Area 51, are well-branded into our collective imagination; other are less known and considerably more vexing. It stirs and scares the mind to think about an entire underground network of tunnels connecting giant government facilities. Yet they are out there, down there, controlling this nation's future military responses and engaging in technological and weapons testing that most of us cannot even begin to fathom.

1. The Cheyenne Mountain Complex, Home of NORAD

Early construction inside mountain

Nuke

Nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, Nagasaki was unjustified - US experts

© Agence France-Presse
A photo dated September 1945 of the remains of the Prefectural Industry Promotion Building after the bombing of Hiroshima, which was later preserved as a monument.
Seventy years have passed since the infamous bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States; however, it seems that the historical lesson still remains unlearned.

Seventy years ago, in early August 1945, the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and in so doing became the first and only nation in history to launch atomic weapons of mass destruction against civilians.

"The whole truth of what the Nuremburg tribunal would later help define as an international war crime and a crime against humanity has been heavily censored and mythologized ever since war-weary Americans in 1945 accepted the propaganda that the bombings were necessary to shorten the war and prevent the loss of a million US soldiers during the allegedly planned November 1945 invasion," American researcher Dr. Gary G. Kohls pointed out.

The massive nuclear strike resulted in the death of tens of thousands of peaceful Japanese civilians.

On August 6, 1945 American pilot Paul Tibbets attacked the city of Hiroshima with the atomic bomb "Little Boy." Over 70,000 died immediately, including 16 American prisoners of war. About 200,000 died in agony from the radiation sickness months later.

On August 9 another American B-29 bomber called Bockscar released "Fat Man," the plutonium bomb named after Winston Churchill, over the port city of Nagasaki. About 75,000 Japanese civilians died from the blast, while over 70,000 were seriously wounded.

Attention

Iran? What about Israel? JFK tried and failed to demand inspections of Dimona nuclear facility

In July 1963, President Kennedy demanded of the newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister that he allow U.S. inspections of the Israeli nuclear facility at Dimona to make sure that the plant was "devoted exclusively to peaceful purposes." U.S. support for Israel would be "seriously jeopardized" if the U.S. could not get information on doings at the facility, Kennedy said.

Kennedy stated his demands in a letter to Levi Eshkol dated July 5, 1963, less than ten days after Eshkol became prime minister of Israel. The document is in the Israel State Archive, and is online at the National Security Archive, in a section titled Israel and the Bomb. Text below (thanks in part to the Jewish Virtual Library).

Comment: Unfortunately, Israel had no interest in "resolving all doubts" concerning the peaceful intent of Dimona, because there was no peaceful intent. Remember, before a nuclear weapon was but a twinkle in the eyes of Iran's leaders, Israel was stocked up and as belligerent as ever. Iran isn't the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East; Israel is. And they'll take the world down with it, if it comes to that.


Question

Bizarre egg-shaped skull unearthed from 4,000 years ago in Arkaim, Russia

Image
© CEN
Mystery skull: Archaeologists believe the skull belonged to a woman who was in the tribe that was part of what is now modern day Ukraine
A skeleton which has been found on a site known as Russia's Stonehenge has sparked fresh ideas about extra terrestrial visitor to earth.

The elongated skull shaped slightly like an egg on an otherwise humanoid form has brought garnered enthusiasm from UFO watchers rushed who insist it's proof that aliens had once visited Earth.

Archaeologists, however, have insisted that the skeleton, which belonged to a female from a 4,000 BC settlement, had a perfectly reasonable explanation for the skull which looks elongated.

They state that the tribe which had lived in Arkaim near the modern-day city of Chelyabinsk in central Russia used to bind the head to make it grow out of shape.

UFO watchers have countered with the claim that if this was the case, it was simply a way of mimicking the skulls of the alien visitors, offering proof of visitation.

Comment: See in addition -

Arkaim: Russia's Stonehenge and a puzzle of the ancient world

Anomalous zones of Russia: Arkaim town


Info

Mystery over deaths of Napoleonic soldiers in mass grave has been solved

© The Independent, UK
Archaeologists believe starvation was the cause of death for the 3,000 men found buried in Lithuania.
A longstanding mystery surrounding the deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army found in a mass grave in Lithuania has been solved.

The jumbled bones of the men who died on the French leader's ill fated attempt to march on Moscow in 1812 show signs of starvation, according to archaeologists from the University of Central Florida.

According to Forbes, buttons found on the site, which was first discovered in Lithuanian capital Vilnius in 2002, show over 40 different regiments were represented from Napoleon's army as they made their desperate dash back across Europe.

Around 500,000 in the Emperor's army began their long march to Moscow in June 1812, but by the time they were stumbling back to Vilnius in retreat six months later only 40,000 had survived.

Around 20,000 men were believed to have died of hypothermia, starvation and typhus in Vilnius alone.

This failure was seen as the beginning of Napoleon's downfall from power in France, which led to his temporary exile in 1814 before his imprisonment by Britain following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Info

Gruesome Find: 100 bodies stuffed into ancient house in China

© Chinese Archaeology
The 5,000-year-old house found in China was about 14 by 15 feet in size.
The remains of 97 human bodies have been found stuffed into a small 5,000-year-old house in a prehistoric village in northeast China, researchers report in two separate studies.

The bodies of juveniles, young adults and middle-age adults were packed together in the house — smaller than a modern-day squash court — before it burnt down. Anthropologists who studied the remains say a "prehistoric disaster," possibly an epidemic of some sort, killed these people.

The site, whose modern-day name is "Hamin Mangha," dates back to a time before writing was used in the area, when people lived in relatively small settlements, growing crops and hunting for food. The village contains the remains of pottery, grinding instruments, arrows and spearheads, providing information on their way of life.

"Hamin Mangha site is the largest and best-preserved prehistoric settlement site found to date in northeast China," a team of archaeologists wrote in a translated report published in the most recent edition of the journal Chinese Archaeology (the original report appeared in Chinese in the journal Kaogu). In one field season, between April and November 2011, the researchers found the foundations of 29 houses, most of which are simple one-room structures containing a hearth and doorway.

Binoculars

Archeologists find evidence of ancient cities in Amazon rainforest

© Mario Tama/Getty
Dreamscape: the Amazon was once lined with fields and plazas
The first Europeans to penetrate the Amazon rainforests reported cities, roads and fertile fields along the banks of its major rivers. "There was one town that stretched for 15 miles without any space from house to house, which was a marvellous thing to behold," wrote Gaspar de Carvajal, chronicler of explorer and conquistador Francisco de Orellana in 1542. "The land is as fertile and as normal in appearance as our Spain."

Such tales were long dismissed as fantasies, not least because teeming cities were never seen or talked about again. But it now seems the chroniclers were right all along. It is our modern vision of a pristine rainforest wilderness that turns out to be the dream.

What is today one of the largest tracts of rainforest in the world was, until little more than 500 years ago, a landscape dominated by human activity, according to a review of the evidence by Charles Clement of Brazil's National Institute of Amazonian Research in Manaus, and his colleagues.

Comment: See also:


Info

Human evolution's biggest questions may find answers in new analysis

© Brett Eloff. Picture courtesy of Lee Berger and the University of Witwatersrand
Fossils of Australopithecus sediba suggest it had a mix of human and more primitive traits, including a small yet advanced brain a modern pelvis and more primitive ankle and foot bones.
Recent controversies about human evolution — such as what the ancestor of the human lineage might have been, whether the mysterious "hobbit" was a different species and whether ancient humans were all one species — could find answers in new analyses of human fossils, researchers say.

This research, based on statistical analyses of a newly compiled data set of ancient human fossils, supports the proposal that the recently unearthed species Australopithecus sediba may be the ancestor of the human lineage, that the hobbit was a different species and not just a deformed modern human, and that early humans were made up of two species, not one, scientists added.

Although modern humans are the only surviving members of the human family tree, others once inhabited the Earth. However, deducing the relationships between modern humans and these extinct hominins — humans and related species dating back to the split from the chimpanzee lineage — is difficult because fossils of ancient hominins are rare.

"There are lots of competing ideas and incomplete data," said study co-author Mark Collard, a biological anthropologist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Books

Pobedonostsev: The intellectual giant from the Golden Age of Russian thought

"A close friend to Dostoevsky and a bête noire to Tolstoy, Pobedonostsev is still considered the foremost proponent and representative of an 'unshakeably' autocratic Romanov rule. His name is very often synonymous with monarchical absolutism."



If one studies late Romanov Russia, or the Golden Age of Russian thought, poetry and literature, there is one name in statesmanship and political philosophy that, alongside the literary giants Tolstoy, Turgenev, Chekhov, Gorky and Dostoevsky, you probably can't get away from. Konstantin Petrovich Pobedonostsev, the éminence grise of Russian statecraft under Tsar Aleksandr III and Tsar S. Nikolai II, and Chief Procurator of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, was probably the most influential figure in Russia's civic, cultural and political life toward the end of the long 19th century. A close friend to Dostoevsky and a bête noire to Tolstoy, Pobedonostsev is still considered the foremost proponent and representative of an 'unshakeably' autocratic Romanov rule. His name is very often synonymous with monarchical absolutism.

Yet, his Reflections of a Russian Statesman, a broad-ranging work of essays and literary sketches that primarily explores questions of political philosophy, education and statesmanship, paints a somewhat more nuanced picture. It would be foolish to deny that Pobedonostsev's politics are reactionary, but it is a reaction grounded in an instinct which closely resembles that of the Slavophils whom he occasionally critiques. Through each page of his Reflections burns an ardour, what reminds one of an all-consuming erotic lust for truth, as defined by and as borne out in the integrated whole of lived experience. This romantic ardour is matched only by a detestation of those falsehoods which present themselves as thin facsimiles of truth - logical formulae, abstract theories, ideological credos and oversimplifications of complex issues. He rightly points out the hypocrisies of the intellectuals of his time who seek to perform public obsequies for the idols of voluntaristic rationalism, materialism, utilitarianism, modern education, free love, eugenics, the ideology of capital, church-state separation, press freedom and democracy.