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Ancient human with 10 percent Neanderthal genes found

© Wikimedia Commons
A recreation of a Neanderthal.

DNA from a man who lived 40,000 years ago in Romania reveals that up to 11 percent of his genome came from Neanderthals.

Because large segments of the individual's chromosomes are of Neanderthal origin, a Neanderthal was among the man's ancestors as recently as four generations back in his family tree, reports a study published in the latest issue of the journal Nature.

The finding reveals that some of the first members of our species who came to Europe interbred with the local Neanderthals.

To this day, individuals of European and Asian heritage retain Neanderthal DNA in their genomes, but whether or not Neanderthals went extinct or simply were absorbed into the modern human population remains a matter of definition, senior author Svante Pääbo told Discovery News.

"Some Neanderthals clearly became incorporated in modern human societies," said Pääbo, director of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. "It is still unclear exactly how much of the complete Neanderthal genome exists today in people, but it seems to approach something like 40 percent."

"But, of course, the Neanderthals are clearly extinct in the sense that they do not exist as an independent, separate group since some 30,000 or 40,000 years."

David Reich from Harvard Medical School coordinated the population genetic analysis of the study, which was an international effort. At the center of the research were the remains of the man, named "Oase 1," unearthed at a cave system called Peștera cu Oase in Romania.

The researchers believe that the man derived from the same expansion out of Africa as other modern people, but was likely to have been part of an early "pioneer foray into Europe," ahead of other migrations that were to come later.

Under what conditions his relatives, and those of other early Neanderthal-human hybrids, interbred is a big question.

Top Secret

WWII: Minority troops used in chemical experiments

© Shutterstock
The Pentagon admitted decades ago to using American troops to conduct experiments with mustard gas, but a recent investigative report revealed the military grouped subjects by race and compared the results against "normal" whites.

The military tested mustard gas and other chemical agents with about 60,000 enlisted men serving as proxies for enemy troops, reported NPR.

Those troops were broken into racial groups, with white soldiers used as scientific control groups to establish what a "normal" reaction would be, and those results were compared to the reactions of other ethnicities.

"They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on black skins," said Rollins Edwards, a 93-year-old black veteran who took part in the experiments.

Binoculars

World's most inaccessible art found in the heart of the Colombian jungle could be 20,000 years old

© Francisco Forero Bonell/Ecoplanet
Images of rock art that could be 20,000 years old, found in Chiribiquete national park, Colombia.
A British wildlife film-maker has returned from one of the most inaccessible parts of the world with extraordinary footage of ancient rock art that has never been filmed or photographed before.

In an area of Colombia so vast and remote that contact has still not been made with some tribes thought to live there, Mike Slee used a helicopter to film hundreds of paintings depicting hunters and animals believed to have been created thousands of years ago. He said: "We had crews all over the place and helicopters filming all over Colombia. As a photographer, Francisco Forero Bonell discovered and took the pictures for my movie."

The extraordinary art includes images of jaguar, crocodiles and deer. They are painted in red, on vertical rock faces in Chiribiquete national park, a 12,000 square kilometre Unesco world heritage site that is largely unexplored. There are also paintings of warriors or hunters dancing or celebrating. "It is the land that time forgot," Slee told the Observer.

There had previously been only vague reports of rock art in the area, which is known as Cerro Campana, he said: "There's no information, maps or communication. It's such a massive central part of Colombia." Though some paintings had previously been found and photographed elsewhere in Chiribiquete, this Cerro Campana art has never been filmed or photographed, Slee said: "It was an absolutely stunning moment to be able to get the footage."

Question

Are we able to do the right thing?

© Wikimedia Commons
Does anyone want to make the world a better place? Do you know anyone who does? Have you known of anyone who has? Think carefully about these questions, because things are not always as they seem.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued an Executive Order as a wartime measure freeing the slaves in the ten states that were in rebellion. It freed about three quarters of the four million slaves in the United States at the time. The remainder were not freed until the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1865. The order did not outlaw slavery and did not confer citizenship on those freed. It was merely a strategic measure, not a humanitarian gesture. Nevertheless, Lincoln has become known in American history as the Great Emancipator.

The war during which the order was issued resulted in the deaths of approximately three quarters of a million people, and the freedmen, as the former slaves were called, were left to fend for themselves. Many joined the army and after the war were sent West to fulfill America's Manifest Destiny by killing Indians. What a magnificent event the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation was. Men were freed from slavery so they could become Indian slayers. What a great contribution to the improvement of the human condition that was!

Bomb

The glorious imbecility of war

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© Painting by Paul De La Roche, 1814
Napoleon Bonaparte, born in Ajaccio, Corsica, later emperor of France and famous (and usually victorious) general, and later still, pensioner on the island of St. Helena.
The U.S. stock market continues to lollygag along...

Nothing much has changed so far this summer... bar another new panic over Greece. (More on this in Market Insight below...)

Today, on the eve of the bicentennial of the Battle of Waterloo, we do not celebrate war. Only a fool would celebrate something so horrible. But we pay our respects to the glorious imbecility of it.

War may be dreadful, little more than a racket in many ways, but it is also a magnificent undertaking. It engages the heart and the brain at once and exposes both the genius of our race and its incredible stupidity.

Bad Guys

The seeds of fascism in America

© National Archives of Norway
In 1937 Hitler was at the very peak of his power. Ordinary Germans were content and opposition was being ruthlessly crushed.

I have in my library dozens of books that were written about the history of fascism and its politics, economics, religious affiliations and psychology that makes it succeed so often.


That includes the varieties of fascism that were studied in Italy, Germany, Spain, Japan, Britain and America, among others. To my recollection, none of the lessons I learned from my books had been even mentioned during my high school education or even my college careers. I don't recall hearing any of my teachers talk about American-style fascism. And none of my teachers led me to doubt the validity of the anti-democratic, pro-fascist and very unethical Monroe Doctrine, Manifest Destiny, Laissez Faire capitalism, the Dred Scott decision or any of the wartime atrocities that were so commonly perpetrated by American troops in any of its wars (ex: inventing water-boarding on innocent Filipinos and then massacring them during the Spanish-American War).

Info

DNA links 8,500-year-old Kennewick Man to native tribes

© Brittney Tatchell, Smithsonian Institution
This sculpted bust of Kennewick Man by StudioEIS is based on forensic facial reconstruction by sculptor Amanda Danning.
Kennewick Man, one of the oldest and best-preserved skeletons ever found in North America, is closely related to Native Americans, says a year-long genetic study on the 8,500-year-old bones.

The international study, published in the journal Nature, is likely to reignite a bitter legal and scientific battle over the ultimate fate of the skeleton.

"Kennewick Man's genome sequence is closer to that of Native Americans than any other contemporary people's including the Ainu and Polynesians," senior author Eske Willerslev, from the University of Copenhagen's Centre for GeoGenetics, told Discovery News.

The researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Stanford University School of Medicine used the latest in DNA isolation and sequencing techniques to analyze the genetic material in the ancient bones.

"Although the exterior preservation of the skeleton was pristine, the DNA in the sample was highly degraded and dominated by DNA from soil bacteria and other environmental sources," lead author Morten Rasmussen said.

"With the little material we had available, we applied the newest methods to squeeze every piece of information out of the bone," he added.

Willerslev, Rasmussen and colleagues compared the DNA sequences from the skeleton with those of modern Native Americans.

They concluded that, although it is impossible to assign Kennewick Man to a particular tribe, he is closely related to members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in Washington.

Light Sabers

Battle of Waterloo bicentenary: Birth of the Anglo-American Empire

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© HarperCollins Publishers
Two hundred years ago, Napoleon Bonaparte and The Duke of Wellington met at Waterloo, in what is now Belgium. At stake was world dominance.

Many books have been written about this epic battle but most have concentrated on military tactics and strategy. In Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles, Bernard Cornwell, author of the best-selling Sharpe series of historical novels, has made his first foray into non-fiction to tell the story of ordinary soldiers caught up in the chaos and terror of the battle.

Talking from his home on Cape Cod, he explains why Waterloo made Great Britain the dominant, global power for the next 100 years; how Wellington's keen eye for geography was a decisive factor in the battle; and recalls his strange childhood in Britain with a fundamentalist sect known as the "Peculiar People."

Bad Guys

Irish documentary: 'Collusion' reveals British elite directed terrorist groups in Northern Ireland

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© Sputnik/ Vladimir Vyatkin
Following the broadcast of an Irish documentary, a number of human rights groups are calling on London to take responsibility for its role in colluding with paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland. These actions allegedly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Catholics, all to support the Crown.

In 1974, a coordinated attack was launched in the Irish cities of Dublin and Monaghan. On May 17, three car bombs were detonated during rush hour in the nation's capital. Only 90 minutes later, a fourth explosion went off in Monaghan, just south of the border with Northern Ireland. Thirty-three people were killed. An estimated 300 were injured.

The loyalist paramilitary group Ulster Volunteer Force claimed responsibility for the attack, and in a recent Irish documentary, "Collusion," a member of the group claims that the bombings were conducted under direction from the British Army. The goal: to implement a civil war.

This is only one of several claims levied against the Thatcher government for its role in the Troubles, and in the face of "overwhelming evidence of collusion," human rights groups and Irish officials are calling for the British government to own up.

"As a result of the RTE programme 'Collusion' showing the knowledge by British Prime Ministers of the murder of Catholics with British army assistance, it is time for the Irish Government to stop asking and start demanding," said Senator Mark Daly, according to Irish Central.

Comment: See also Joe Quinn's Sott Focus:
The British Empire - A Lesson In State Terrorism


Rocket

June 16, 1963: Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space

Former textile factory worker Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space, as well as the first civilian astronaut, when her spacecraft Vostok VI was launched on this day in 1963.

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Ms Tereshkova began her historic journey blasting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in modern-day Kazakhstan. The launch took place just days after the take-off of Vostok V, piloted by Valery Bykovsky. The two craft would come within just over three miles of each other during their mission.

A camera in her cockpit transmitted pictures of Ms Tereshkova back to Russia, and she took part in a radio conversation with Soviet premier Nikita Khruschev (pictured with Tereshkova, below). She would spend nearly three days in space, orbiting the Earth 49 times.
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Her journey was the result of an initiative from Sergey Korolyov, the Soviet Union's chief rocket engineer, who believed that garnering information on the effects of space flight on the female body would be useful, as well as being a great public relations coup.

Five female trainee cosmonauts were chosen from over four hundred applicants; all were trained parachutists. They would undergo a year of weightless flights, isolation tests, centrifugal tests, engineering and rocket flight theory, as well as parachute jumps and pilot training.