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New study shows Australopithecus africanus had human-like hands

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© T. L. Kivell
Top row: First metacarpals of the thumb in (from left to right) a chimpanzee, fossil hominins Australopithecus africanus (StW 418) and two specimens belonging to either a robust australopiths or early Homo (SKX 5020 and SK 84), and a human. The bottom row shows 3D renderings from the microCT scans of the same specimens, showing a cross-section of the trabecular structure inside. Ma, million years ago.
New research suggests pre-Homo human ancestral species, such as Australopithecus africanus, used human-like hand postures much earlier than was previously thought.

Anthropologists from the University of Kent, working with researchers from University College London, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (Germany) and the Vienna University of Technology (Austria), have produced the first research findings to support archaeological evidence for stone tool use among fossil australopiths 3-2 million years ago.

The distinctly human ability for forceful precision (e.g. when turning a key) and power "squeeze" gripping (e.g. when using a hammer) is linked to two key evolutionary transitions in hand use: a reduction in arboreal climbing and the manufacture and use of stone tools. However, it is unclear when these locomotory and manipulative transitions occurred.

Dr Matthew Skinner, Senior Lecturer in Biological Anthropology and Dr Tracy Kivell, Reader in Biological Anthropology, both of Kent's School of Anthropology and Conservation, used new techniques to reveal how fossil species were using their hands by examining the internal spongey structure of bone called trabeculae. Trabecular bone remodels quickly during life and can reflect the actual behaviour of individuals in their lifetime.

The researchers first examined the trabeculae of hand bones of humans and chimpanzees. They found clear differences between humans, who have a unique ability for forceful precision gripping between thumb and fingers, and chimpanzees, who cannot adopt human-like postures. This unique human pattern is present in known non-arboreal and stone tool-making fossil human species, such as Neanderthals.

Comment: Human ancestor guys stayed home while gals cruised


Rose

Russian peasants and their craft jobs

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Sometimes now you might hear the word "artisan" which often said to make things look skillfully made and good. However hundred something years ago all over the world things mainly were "artisan" - made by local craftsman. If we know some traditional craftsmen of the West and their craft survived till our days (this is what they sell as "artisan" now) the old Russian crafts on contrary is very much lost, mostly due to the Soviet intent for collectivization and industrialization. However there are still some old photos depicting old Russian artisans - mainly peasants at their craft with captions what exactly they do. For example the man on the photo on top is a master barrel maker at work.

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Memories of Auschwitz haunt a Polish town

© Jacek Nadolny
Bogumila recalls how as a small girl growing up in the Polish town of Oswiecim she saw prisoners beaten by Nazi guards and watched with her mother the distant glow of the crematorium fires of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

"Everyone sat in their homes in silence, windows shut as tightly as possible," she said.

The 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, to be attended by world leaders and survivors, raises painful questions for residents of Oswiecim where Nazi occupiers created one of the most relentless extermination machines in history, claiming the lives of an estimated 1.5 million people.

How did their parents go about their daily business when such inhumanity was taking place just the other side of a barbed wire fence? How much did they know of what was going on?

Comment: See also: Holocaust 2.0: Coming soon!


Black Magic

Manufacturing the Deadhead: A product of social engineering

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In 2012 Jan Irvin made an important discovery. In the course of re-publishing The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross by the Dead Sea Scrolls scholar John Allegro,[1] Irvin had been researching the letters of one of Allegro's most prominent critics, Gordon Wasson, at various university archives (including Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, and the Hoover Institute at Stanford) when he came across primary documents - letters actually written by Wasson - showing that he had worked with the CIA.[2]

Though Gordon Wasson was both chairman for the Council on Foreign Relations and the Vice President of Public Relations for J.P. Morgan Bank, he is most famous as the individual who "discovered", or more accurately popularized, magic mushrooms. An article in Life magazine described fantastic visions and experiences Wasson claimed to have had while under their influence (see Life, May 13, 1957 - Seeking the Magic Mushroom). Wasson's claims were the first description of the effects of psilocybin ("magic") mushrooms presented to the general public.

Irvin saw troubling implications in his discovery. He was aware, of course, of the CIA's infamous Project MK-ULTRA, in which the organization had given LSD to unsuspecting U.S. citizens. He also knew of the many conspiracy theories claiming that the government has been somehow involved with the creation of the "drug culture." He was also aware of Dave McGowan's research on the drug and music movement that had come out of Laurel Canyon in the 1960's, which showed that many of the "rock idols" who created it were the children of members of military intelligence.[3]

Pistol

From bad, to worse, to murder: The harassing of MLK by J. Edgar Hoover and Lyndon B. Johnson

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Amidst all the brouhaha related to the allegedly "false" portrayal of Lyndon B. Johnson in the movie Selma caused by the LBJ Library's director, Mark Updegrove, it is noteworthy to call to the public's attention how the "LBJ defenders" have attempted to absolve President Johnson from involvement with that sordid chapter in American history. Updegrove's article was quickly followed by one from Joseph Califano, printed in the Washington Post, that even claimed the Selma march was Lyndon Johnson's idea. All of it was quite opposite of the truth, and no amount of "LBJ revisionism" will make it fact.

From the time that Martin Luther King Jr.'s name came to national prominence in December, 1955, J. Edgar Hoover began monitoring his activities, even as King and his closest associates mistakenly presumed, according to Andrew Young, that "we thought of the FBI as our friends, the only hope we had."[1] By 1959, Hoover had decided, on his own and without higher authorization, to order his agents to burglarize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) offices to obtain personal information about Dr. King and install telephone wire taps as well as "bugs" to record non-telephonic conversations and assorted other noises. This brazenly illegal activity, of which there were many other cases in addition to King's, continued into the Kennedy administration. By 1961, the freedom rides that had begun that year revealed which side the FBI was really on, and it was not King's. Attorney General Robert Kennedy had attempted to bring the wiretapping under control, however by that time the SCLC and King had begun fighting back, culminating in a special report attacking the FBI on January 8, 1962. By then, the FBI had obtained evidence that two people in King's entourage, Stanley Levison and Jack O'Dell, had ties to the American Communist Party, making it difficult for the Kennedys to cooperate with King until that issue was dealt with or, conversely, for them to end the surveillance under the continuing pressure wielded by Hoover.[2]

Comment: For further information about the MLK assassination, see:

MLK assassinated by US Government: King Family civil trial verdict


USA

The epochal consequences of Woodrow Wilson's war

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© flickr
Patriotic postcard from World War I.
Committee for the Republic

Washington DC January 20, 2015

My humble thesis tonight is that the entire 20th Century was a giant mistake.

And that you can put the blame for this monumental error squarely on Thomas Woodrow Wilson - a megalomaniacal madman who was the very worst President in American history........well, except for the last two.

His unforgiveable error was to put the United States into the Great War for utterly no good reason of national interest. The European war posed not an iota of threat to the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE, or Worcester MA or Sacramento CA. In that respect, Wilson's putative defense of "freedom of the seas" and the rights of neutrals was an empty shibboleth; his call to make the world safe for democracy, a preposterous pipe dream.

Question

Speculation rages about dead in Greek mystery tomb

© Greek Ministry of Culture
Stabbed to death: A bone with cut marks belonging to the 35-year-old male.
The surprise announcement on Monday that at least five corpses lay buried in the Alexander the Great era tomb in Amphipolis, in northern Greece, has deepened the mystery around the massive and lavishly decorated burial.

As expected, speculation is running wild about who the five people buried there are.

So far, forensic investigation has determined that 157 out of 550 bones found in Greece's largest ancient tomb belong to a woman who was older than 60 years, two men aged 35 and 45, a newborn baby and a cremated adult whose gender could not be verified.

According to Andrew Chugg, author of The Quest for the Tomb of Alexander the Great, the remains of the woman in her 60s should be considered the principal burial among those interred.

"It is stated that the skull and mandible and the majority of the larger bones are hers, that her skeleton is the most complete and that her bones were found mainly in the bottom of the cist burial," Chugg told Discovery News.

Chugg, the first scholar who suggested Olympias, Alexander the Great's mother, as the tomb occupant, believes the Persephone mosaic, the caryatids (female statues that serve as architectural support) and the female sphinxes found in the tomb all indicate the original burial was dedicated to a woman.

"A lady in her 60s is consistent with Olympias," Chugg said. "We do not know the year of her birth, but she died in 316 B.C., and she married Philip in about 357 B.C. She would have been 20 when she gave birth to Alexander in 356 BC, if she died at 60."

"There are no other historically prominent female members of the royal family who died in the time frame of the last quarter of the fourth century B.C. as far as we know," he added.

The Olympias hypothesis runs high also on Greek media, although several admit it's a rather puzzling one.

"If indeed the woman in the grave is Olympias and the tomb was erected in her honor, then Macedonians not only violated their customs, but they also did something that seems absurd and unthinkable: They built one of the largest and most elaborate tombs of the known world for a woman, honoring her as a demigoddess or hero," wrote the Greek Reporter, a news agency.

Cloud Lightning

X-rays may reveal words in Herculaneum papyri

© E. Brun
Scientists have read ancient scrolls not opened since they were carbonized by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius almost 2,000 years ago. Although only a few letters have been deciphered so far, classical scholars hope that the advance could lead to the rediscovery of lost Greek or Roman works of literature in hundreds of papyri that are too fragile to unroll and read.

"It is a revolution for papyrologists," says Vito Mocella, a physicist at the Institute of Microelectronics and Microsystems in Naples, Italy, and a co-author of the study, which is published in Nature Communications.

The eruption of Vesuvius in ad 79 obliterated the nearby towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. But the volcanic ash preserved what it destroyed - including, in Herculaneum, a library in a lavish villa thought to have belonged to Julius Caesar's father-in-law. The library contains hundreds of papyrus scrolls, dried and blasted by hot gases into what look like twisted logs of charcoal, and then buried deep under the ash.

Info

Five facts regarding World War II internment camps

© unknown
The Crystal City Internment Camp in World War II.
The general history of America's internment of its own citizens during World War II has focused on the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese, 62 percent of them American-born, who were forcibly evacuated from the Pacific coast after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

But few people know that Executive Order 9066, signed by President Roosevelt, which permitted the roundup of Japanese and their American-born children, also paved the way for the arrest of Germans and Italians who the FBI considered security risks and labeled as "enemy aliens." Indeed the day before Roosevelt signed the order FBI agents had arrested 264 Italians, 1,296 Germans, and 2,209 on the East and West Coast. The hunt for perceived enemies was on.

Comment: Will history repeat itself by the U.S. interning those with "extremist views" in FEMA camps?


Pistol

Mysterious 1997 death of Hollywood screenwriter solved: Gary Devore was about to make movie exposing real reason US invaded Panama in 1989

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© Getty Images
When the skeletal remains of Hollywood screenwriter Gary Devore were found strapped into his Ford Explorer submerged beneath the California Aqueduct in 1998 it brought an end to one of America's most high profile missing person cases.

The fact that Devore was on his way to deliver a film script that promised to explain the 'real reason' why the US invaded Panama, has long given rise to a slew of conspiracies surrounding the nature of his 'accidental' death.

It didn't help that Devore's hands were missing from the crash scene, along with the script, and that investigators could offer no plausible explanation as to how a car could leave the highway and end up in the position it was found a year after he disappeared.

Now the Daily Mail can exclusively reveal that Devore was working with the CIA in Panama and even a White House source concedes his mysterious death bears all the hallmarks of a cover-up.

The findings, published in a new documentary The Writer With No Hands, are the first testimonies ever aired that give credence to the theories that surrounded the case in the late 90s.

Comment: A word about "conspiracies", quoted from Richard Dolan's book UFOs and the National Security State: Chronology of a Coverup, 1941-1973:
The very label serves as an automatic dismissal, as though no one ever acts in secret. Let us bring some perspective and common sense to this issue.
The United States comprises large organizations - corporations, bureaucracies, "interest groups," and the like - which are conspiratorial by nature. That is, they are hierarchical, their important decisions are made in secret by a few key decision-makers, and they are not above lying about their activities. Such is the nature of organizational behavior. "Conspiracy," in this key sense, is a way of life around the globe.