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Mon, 08 Feb 2016
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Secret History


Infamous Zodiac Killer finally unmasked as convicted serial killer

© IG/Getty
Dennis Rader (right) has never been questioned about the Zodiac Killer's crimes
The Zodiac Killer murdered at least seven people and possibly up to 20 in northern California between December 1968 and October 1969 and it has remained one of the world's greatest unsolved crimes.

The case has spawned dozens of books and a film, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Mark Ruffalo. The Zodiac nickname was derived from a series of cryptic and taunting letters which were posted to the media from the San Francisco Bay area. They included ciphers and only one of the four has been decoded.

But now a former detective, Kimberly McGath, has identified the Zodiac as Dennis Rader. Rader, now 70, is better known as the BTK Killer. He derived his grisly nickname from the fact that he Bound, Tortured and Killed his ten victims in Wichita, Kansas between 1974 and 1991. Rader was in the US Air Force from 1966 and 1970 before settling down with a wife in Kansas.

The BTK Killer sent numerous letters to the media but suddenly stopped. He then vanished until 2004 when he suddenly started sending letters again. The following year Rader was arrested after he sent police a floppy disk, which was traced back to him. Faced with a mountain of forensic evidence Rader confessed to being the BTK Killer and is now serving life imprisonment with no parole. But he has never been questioned about the Zodiac killings.

Ms McGath has been studying links between the two killers for two years, especially the letters they both wrote, and she told Daily Star Online : "There are just so many similarities between Zodiac and BTK."

She said the authorities ruled out a link because of a "general alibi" assuming Rader was serving in the US air force in Japan at the time of Zodiac's crimes. But she said he could easily have travelled back to California to carry out the killings and she points out in her book how close many of the killings were to air force bases.


Europe's hunter-gatherers who endured the last ice age were largely replaced by populations from warmer areas further south

© L. Lang
DNA was taken from ancient human bones, like this skull, from the Dolni Vestonice burial site in the Czech Republic
Europe went through a major population upheaval about 14,500 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, according to DNA from the bones of hunter-gatherers.

Ancient DNA studies published in the last five years have transformed what we know about the early peopling of Europe. The picture they paint is one in which successive waves of immigration wash over the continent, bringing in new people, new genes and new technologies.

These studies helped confirm that Europe's early hunter-gatherers - who arrived about 40,000 years ago - were largely replaced by farmers arriving from the Middle East about 8000 years ago. These farmers then saw an influx of pastoralists from the Eurasian steppe about 4500 years ago, meaning modern Europe was shaped by three major population turnover events.

Waves of immigration

The latest study suggests things were even more complicated. About 14,500 years ago, when Europe was emerging from the last ice age, the hunter-gatherers who had endured the chilly conditions were largely replaced by a different population of hunter-gatherers.

Comment: Europeans are a mixture of 4 ancestral populations


Will the true origins of cranial deformation ever be revealed?

Societies around the world portray distinct characteristics which define their culture. From the clothes worn; the language spoken and the customs and traditions that are passed from generation to generation, each of these can provide insights into a cultural group. There are, however, a number of universal customs that are practiced on each continent around the globe. They include circumcision, death and burial rituals and cranial deformation. These traditions originated in our remote past. Their purpose and meaning seemingly lost to the sands of time.

It was once believed that head modifications developed in Egypt, and then spread around the world. Researchers have concluded that this phenomenon was not isolated to one geographic area and then disseminated out into the surrounding areas. Instead, this bizarre hallmark of ancient societies sprang up around the world in different cultural groups independently. Many have come to believe it to be an inherent step in the evolution of a group's culture.

Comment: See also:


WSJ Dave Satter's new low in anti-Russian media lies: The Ostankino and Chechen 'Maidans' were all Yeltsin's fault

© RIA Novosti/Strelnikov
The conflict between two branches of Russian power on September 21-October 4, 1993 led to the forcible cessation of the powers of the Russian Supreme Soviet, and was accompanied by armed clashes in the streets of Moscow.
On January 21st the Wall Street Journal's editors allowed on its editorial pages an opinion piece with one of the most glaring distortions of post-Soviet Russian history and politics ever produced by contemporary American 'rusology.' David Satter issued forth yet another of his caricatures of analysis in an exegesis from which he hoped readers would take away: 'eternally totalitarian, imperialistic, and murderous Russia.' The only murder here, however, was Satter's murder of truth and the historical record. In addition to an uniformed analysis of the complicated and unresolved Litvinenko case as well as Russian politics under President Vladimir Putin, he issued forth both a full-fledged perversion of politics under Russia's first post-Soviet president Boris N. Yeltsin and a complete inversion of the history of October 1993.

Satter wrote:
"The first unexamined episode was the massacre at the Ostankino television tower in 1993, in the wake of Boris Yeltsin's illegal order abolishing the Russian parliament. Thousands of unarmed pro-parliament protesters near the tower were fired on with automatic weapons, leaving 46 dead and 124 wounded. Yeltsin then persuaded the army to attack the parliament building and, in the wake of military victory, introduced a super-presidency with near-dictatorial powers.

With no check on executive power, Yeltsin launched the first Chechen war in 1994 and facilitated the widespread corruption that drove Russia into poverty and hardship" (David Satter, "The Russian State of Murder under Putin," Wall Street Journal, 21 January 2016).
Let's take the four elements in Satter's compound distortion one at a time.


4,500-year-old funerary boat found near pyramids

© Archives of the Czech Institute of Egyptology, V. Dulíková
The 4,500-year-old funerary boat as it is excavated.
A unique ancient funerary boat has been unearthed near the Abusir pyramids, Egypt's Antiquities Minister said in a statement.

The vessel dates to about 2550 B.C. and was discovered by archaeologists excavating a large mastaba, or ancient tomb, in a cemetery of the Old Kingdom officials in Abusir, south of the Giza plateau.

The 59-foot-long boat was found in the area south of the mud-brick tomb by a team of the Czech Institute of Archaeology at Charles University in Prague, led by excavation director Miroslav Bárta.

Covered with the wind-blown sand, the 4,500-year-old remains of the wooden vessel were lying on a bed of stone with ropes and wooden components still in their original position.

The wooden planks, joined with wooden pegs, were found intact. The desert sand preserved the plant fibers that covered the planking seams, while some of the ropes that bound the boat together were also found in their original position with all their details intact.


Learning from the past: Vladimir Putin's comments on the 'time-bomb' Lenin placed under Russia

Vladimir Putin speaking to All-Russia People’s Front on Jan 25, 2016
The following is an excerpt of a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the subject of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and its central leader, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, specifically on the nationalities policies of Lenin and the governments he led. The speech was delivered on January 25, 2016 to a plenary session of an interregional forum of the Russian Popular Front [All-Russia People's Front-Wikipedia] public movement. The excerpt (below) is from the full speech as published on the website of the President of Russia.

The comments by Putin on January 25 followed the controversy stirred by comments he made on January 22 to a meeting of the Presidential Council on Science. There, he cited a line from a poem about Lenin, saying the revolutionary leader and other leaders of the Russian Revolution had "planted an atomic bomb under the structure called Russia, and it then exploded".

The president was referring to the controversy and debate in the early Soviet Union over nationalities policy, specifically the divergences between Lenin (who died in January 1924 and was gravely ill for more than one year before that) and future Soviet leader Joseph Stalin over the right of nationalities in Russia to political self-determination, including full independence.[1] Here is how RT.com reports the controversy, on Jan 26, 2016:

Comment: There is no doubt that there has been a great deal of revision of Russia's history, especially as seen from the West. Putin mentions that "history should be carefully analyzed so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past". And indeed, his governments appear to have taken that to heart over the last 15 years.

Putin also brings up the Romanov family. The following revisits in pictures who they were:

In pictures: Russia's imperial Romanov family


Forgotten history: 'Japanese Schindler' film premieres in US

© Chiune Sugihara / Wikipedia
The actions Chiune "Sempo" Sugihara took to save 6,000 Jews fleeing Poland in 1939 have been largely forgotten by history, but now a new feature film recognizes the heroism of the man often called the "Japanese Schindler".

The film, "Persona Non Grata", makes its US premiere at the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Sunday.

Shot largely in Poland, the multilingual film has already topped the box office in Japan, but it's the first time American audiences get to see it.


Siberian researchers eager to identify 'mystery girl' in century-old pictures

© Krasnoyarsk Regional Museum / The Siberian Times
One striking image shows the girl posing on a rooftop in front of famous Krasnoyarsk Railway Bridge, opened in 1899, which carries the Trans Siberian railway over the Yenisei River
Museum workers in Krasnoyarsk were astonished when they digitalized local photos from the early 1900s only to find an identical figure in all of them - a solemn girl, dressed in all white, striking an identical pose.

So far, the mystery girl has been found in at least 20 photos and four glass negatives, which researchers at the Krasnoyarsk Regional Museum of Local Lore believe were taken between 1906 and 1908, judging from the state of the buildings in the photos.
© Krasnoyarsk Regional Museum / The Siberian Times
"It was only modern equipment that allowed us to notice the girl. When you look at the old pictures, you do not see her. She is rather small there. When we made high resolution scans and zoomed in, we saw her more closely, along with the details of her clothes and hairstyle," said Ilya Kuklinsky, senior researcher at the museum. "It is quite strange that no one noticed her before, though the pictures were widely used as illustrations."

Snakes in Suits

Nazi Holocaust mastermind Eichmann's last clemency letter release: 'I don't feel guilty'

Israeli police flank Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi S.S. colonel who headed the Gestapo's Jewish Section and was responsible for millions of Jews' deaths in Nazi concentration camps, as he stands trial inside a bulletproof booth in a Jerusalem court.
Nazi Holocaust organizer Adolf Eichmann who was executed by Israel back in 1962 for numerous war crimes, considered himself "a mere instrument in the hands of the [Nazi] leaders," a letter to the then-president asking for clemency reveals.

The information was released on Wednesday by the office of Israel's President Reuven Rivlin. The documents will be officially made public at a ceremony at Rivlin's official Jerusalem residence at International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The request of one of the masterminds of the 'Final Solution', a German plan for the extermination of the Jews during World War II, was made to then president Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.


Ancient Babylonian astronomers found Jupiter 1,400 years before Europeans did

© Trustees of the British Museum/Mathieu Ossendrijver
Ancient Babylonian cuneiform tablet text A provided essential clues to understanding four other tablets numbered text B to text E.
The earliest known examples of mathematical and geometric astronomy have been identified in a series of ancient Babylonian cuneiform tablets.

An analysis of the tablets, reported in the journal Science, reveals ancient Babylonians were able to calculate the position of Jupiter using geometric techniques previously believed to have been first used some 1,400 years later in 14th century Europe.

"These texts are the earliest evidence we have from antiquity of mathematical astronomy," said the study's author Dr Mathieu Ossendrijver, a historian on Babylonian astronomy with the Humboldt University in Berlin.

"It describes Jupiter's velocity across the sky and how that changes with time."

The tablets, which are housed at the British Museum, are believed to have been unearthed from an archaeological dig in what is now modern day Iraq sometime in the 1800s.

The almost completely intact tablets are thought to have been written in Babylon between 350 and 50 BCE.

The tablets are part of a larger collection of 450 astronomy tablets from Babylon and Uruk containing celestial data arranged in rows and columns, together with instructions.

Dr Ossendrijver examined five tablets numbered as trapezoid text A to trapezoid text E, four of which deal with geometrical trapezoid shapes, but nobody understood what they were about.