Secret History


Has Jack the Ripper's identity really been revealed using DNA evidence?

Jack the Ripper
© The Independent, UK
With sensational claims emerging today that London's darkest 120-year-old mystery has been solved, Steve Connor takes a forensic look at the evidence.
An amateur sleuth with a book to sell and a scientist working in his spare time claimed to have solved one of the biggest murder mysteries in history by naming Jack the Ripper as a Polish immigrant in the 19th Century after discovering what they said was conclusive DNA evidence.

Aaron Kosminski, a Polish Jew whose family had emigrated to London to escape pogroms, is "definitely, categorically and absolutely" the man behind the grisly series of murders in 1888 that left at least five women dead and mutilated in the streets of London's East End, said Russell Edwards, the author of the latest in a long-line of speculative books on the affair.

"I've got the only piece of forensic evidence in the whole history of the case. I've spent 14 years working, and we have definitely solved the mystery of who Jack the Ripper was. Only non-believers that want to perpetuate the myth will doubt. This is it now - we have unmasked him," Mr Edwards said.

First pictures of U.S. warplane lost over Siberia in 1943

The Douglas A-20 Havoc (DB-7) loaned to the USSR under the World War II Lend-Lease programme.
© Kuznetsk Alatau natural reserve
'The main thing they managed to detect was the plane's tail number which was F216'.
The American military aircraft was lost in the taiga over Kemerovo region in western Siberia 71 years ago en route to the eastern front in Europe from Alaska.

Wreckage of the bomber had been spotted by a hunter in the taiga 48 years ago but despite some parts being clearly visible from the air, he was unable to retrace his steps to the crash site in the 4,129 square kilometre Kuznetsky Alatau wildlife reserve.

The crashed plane was found and pictured on 3 July on the slopes of the Zelyonaya mountain by a research team engaged on other work headed by the reserve's director Alexey Vasilchenko, 52.

'Remains of the crew were not found,' said spokeswoman Nadezhda Eliseeva. 'The wreckage was discovered during research on other work. It was a chance discovery in the north of the reserve'.

World's oldest pyramid ruined by incompetent restorers

© Semhur/Wikipedia Commons
The Pyramid of Djoser is at risk of being destroyed
Activists are angry with Egypt's Minister of Antiquities, Mamdouh Eldamaty, for choosing to re-hire a company to restore one of Egypt's oldest pyramids after the firm caused damage and major deterioration to the structure while trying to repair it.

According to the Non-Stop Robberies movement, the famous Step Pyramid of Djoser, located in the Saqqara necropolis, sustained serious damage while being restored by a company called Shurbagy. This led to major deterioration and the collapse of a section of the pyramid.

"Technically, the company and officials of the Supreme Council of Antiquities committed a full-fledged crime," Amir Gamal, a representative of Non-Stop Robberies, told the Egypt Independent.

"New walls were built outside the pyramid as if the pyramid were a modern construction, which is opposite to international standards of restoration, which prevents adding more than 5% of construction to antiquities if necessary."

"Adding the modern construction is a large pressure on the decaying pyramid, which threatens catastrophe."

The activists say that in addition to causing great damage to the famous monument, the company has no experience in restoring archaeological sites.

Shurbagy had been contracted to provide construction work on six archaeological projects, and according to Gamal all of its previous work on these jobs is now under investigation.

'Last Supper' papyrus may be one of oldest Christian charms

Greek papyrus
© University of Manchester, John Rylands Research Institute
A Greek papyrus dating back some 1,500 years from an ancient Egyptian city refers to Jesus' Last Supper and manna from heaven.
A 1,500-year-old fragment of Greek papyrus with writing that refers to the biblical Last Supper and "manna from heaven" may be one of the oldest Christian amulets, say researchers.

The fragment was likely folded up and worn inside a locket or pendant as a sort of protective charm, according to Roberta Mazza, who spotted the papyrus while looking through thousands of papyri kept in the library vault at the John Rylands Research Institute at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom.

"This is an important and unexpected discovery as it's one of the first recorded documents to use magic in the Christian context and the first charm ever found to refer to the Eucharist - the Last Supper - as the manna of the Old Testament," Mazza said in a statement.

The fragment likely originated in a town in Egypt.

The text on the papyrus is a mix of passages from Psalm 78:23-24 and Matthew 26:28-30, among others, said Mazza, who is a research fellow at the institute.

"To this day, Christians use passages from the Bible as protective charms so our amulet marks the start of an important trend in Christianity."

Huge tomb from the era of Alexander the Great discovered

Greek Mosaic Floor
© Greek Ministry of Culture
This image, released Aug. 31, shows the mosaic floor revealed at Amphipolis.
At a site under excavation in Greece, archaeologists have uncovered mosaic floors that pave the entrance to a huge tomb from the era of Alexander the Great.

The freshly revealed floor covers the antechamber behind the sphinx-guarded entrance to the tomb at Amphipolis in Macedonia, a historical region of Greece, photos released by the Greek Ministry of Culture show. Small, irregular fragments of white marble are embedded against a red background in the floor, which is preserved in excellent condition, the excavators said.

No graves have been discovered yet at the so-called Kasta Hill site at Amphipolis. But that hasn't stopped tourists, journalists and politicians from flocking to the ancient village to get a glimpse of the excavation. Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras toured the site last month and told reporters he was standing in front of an "extremely important discovery."

Some local media outlets have derided the media circus. The Greek Reporter charged that Amphipolis has become "archaeological Disneyland." [See Photos of the Alexander-Era Tomb Excavation]
Blue Planet

Super sized dinosaur discovered

© Lacovara et al/Scientific Reports 2014
SUPER SIZED A plant-eating dinosaur named Dreadnoughtus schrani has claimed the record for most massive land animal discovered to date.
A newly discovered dinosaur species makes Tyrannosaurus rex look like a munchkin. The towering behemoth, which stretched a bit longer than a 25-meter swimming pool and as tall as a two-story building, weighed about 59,000 kilograms - more than seven T. rexes. And the animal was still growing, researchers report September 4 in Scientific Reports.

Though the creature dined on plants, its brute size and burly tail made it more formidable than any meat eater. It may have even lived up to its name. Dubbed Dreadnoughtus schrani by its discoverers, paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara of Drexel University in Philadelphia and colleagues, the animal's genus name comes from Old English for "fear nothing."

Dreadnoughtus lived 66 million to 84 million years ago, during the Late Cretaceous period, in what is now Argentina. It is the largest land animal reported to date. Researchers have dug up other massive dinosaurs before, but those animals' fragmentary remains made their sizes hard to estimate.
© Lacovara et al/Scientific Reports 2014
BIGGEST BEAST Dreadnoughtus schrani, a dinosaur dug up in Argentina, had thigh bones about as tall as a person. The fossil bones found are shown in white.

Archaeologists confirm that Stonehenge was once a complete circle

Stonehenge in Wiltshire.
Though archaeologists have long suspected that the huge neolithic stones of Stonehenge once formed a complete circle, evidence in support of the claim has remained elusive. Now, owing to a spat of dry weather, the mystery appears to have been solved.

Stonehenge's current configuration is that of an incomplete circle. In an effort to prove that it was once complete, historians have performed countless high resolution geophysical surveys and excavations, but with no luck.

Now, thanks to a dry summer and a watering hose that was too short, the answer has unexpectedly emerged in the form of ghostly outlines - patches of parched grass where the megaliths once lay. Usually, the ground around the ancient structure is watered by stewards, but this year their hose was too short to reach the entire site. Quite by chance, the incomplete section of the inner stone circle was left to dry out.
Treasure Chest

Ancient Rome currency reform

© Unknown
In the Western world, modern civilizations are often thought of in comparison to those of the ancient world. The Roman Empire is typically the first considered, and arguably the most natural reference point owing to its many achievements, complexity and durability. It stands in history, widely considered the high water mark of the ancient world; one against which contemporary political, economic and social questions can be posed. Much of the world is still living with the consequences of Roman policy choices in a very real sense, in matters ranging from the location of cities to commercial and legal practices to customs.

The global economic downturn of 2008, in particular its monetary facet, readily invites comparison between the troubles of the modern world and those of the Roman Empire; just as Western currencies have declined precipitously in value since their commodity backing was removed in stages starting roughly a century ago, Roman currencies were also troubled, and present a cautionary tale.

Comment: Listen to the SOTT Talk Radio show Babylon, Ancient Rome and the American Empire for more on this fascinating topic.


Back to school in B.C.

It's back-to-school season, and you know what that means: Despite receiving a king's ransom in new clothes, electronics and school supplies, children across the country are already complaining about the burden of regularly attending an affordable system of formal education.

If the "back in my day" speech hasn't set them straight, why not let them know of how much worse back-to-school season could have been for them had they been born a couple thousand years ago?
Bsck to School
© iStockphoto
Before we get rolling, it's important to mention that in just about all of the following ancient societies, formal education was typically the privilege of wealthy families.

Born from the Ashes and Blood or, How FDR, Churchill, and Stalin butchered Poland

Comment: Laura's note: This piece is excerpted from a longer work that I wrote back in 2000 or so. Obviously, my perspectives on a lot of things have changed since then. However, the main point, that Poland was screwed over by all three countries, with FDR being the real sell-out and back-stabber, still stands. I thought it might be useful to remind the Poles of this fact now, at a time when great care should be taken regarding alliances, and on the anniversary of the invasion. Political situations can change dramatically as a people grow and change and acquire governance in accordance with that growth. Russia has changed for the better; the USA has changed for the worse; so too, it seems, has Poland.

At the annual party rally held in Nuremberg in 1935, the Nazis announced new laws which institutionalized many of the racial theories prevalent in Nazi ideology. The laws excluded German Jews from Reich citizenship and prohibited them from marrying or having sexual relations with persons of "German or related blood." These became known as the infamous "Nuremberg Laws."

Many husbands and wives of Jews in Germany were forced to choose between divorce or concentration camps. Hitler would not allow "interracial" marriages and those that chose to remain married were punished by imprisonment in camps where many died. There were also many couples who committed suicide together.

Three years later, at 11: 55 p.m. on November 9, Gestapo Chief Heinrich Mueller sent a telegram from Berlin to all security police stations and units in Germany. The following paragraph is an excerpt from that telegram:
In shortest order, actions against Jews and especially their synagogues will take place in all of Germany. These are not to be interfered with... Preparations are to be made for the arrest of 20-30,000 Jews in the Reich. Primarily propertied Jews are to be selected...
The Terror had begun in earnest.

The Nazis engineered the Kristallnacht attacks so that they would appear to be unplanned and set off by the anger of the German people over the assassination of a German official in Paris at the hands of a Jewish teenager.

In two days, over 1,000 synagogues were burned, 7,000 Jewish businesses were trashed and looted, dozens of Jewish people were killed, and Jewish cemeteries, hospitals, schools, and homes were looted while police and fire brigades stood by. The pogroms became known as Kristallnacht, or the "Night of Broken Glass, " for the great quantity of shattered glass from the store windows that littered the streets of Germany.