Secret History


Vietnam War: The critical role of Russian weapons

© Wikipedia
North Vietnamese Air Force MiG-17 pilots walk by their aircraft.
Exactly 40 years ago the Vietnamese burst into Saigon, catching the Americans in their underpants. As well as mounting a brave defence of their country, the Vietnamese used one superpower's firepower to defeat another.

To get a sense of how viciously the Vietnam War was fought and - more importantly - the sweeping nature of Vietnamese victory, chew on this: during the conflict the Americans lost more than 2,000 aircraft; the Vietnamese lost just 131 planes.

This astounding record notched up by the Vietnamese against a superpower with virtually unlimited military resources - and which could also count on combat support from allies such as Australia, South Korea and New Zealand - was possible because of the almost superhuman fight put by the Vietnamese military and civilians.

Георгиевская ленточка

"Life is such a simple thing and cruel": The President of Russia talks about his parents in the war, his brother, and all the amazing coincidences

The President of Russia Vladimir Putin in his column for the magazine Russian Pioneer talks about his parents in the war, about his brother, about all the amazing coincidences of his life.

In nine days all of Russia will celebrate, and further immortalize an historic victory for a homeland, and for the world. Whether or not any foreign leaders attend Victory Day celebrations in Red Square on May 9th, a great people have reason for unshakable pride. So too, it may come to pass that the leader of this dynamic nation will one day be remembered alongside the fallen heroes of Stalingrad and Leningrad.

Here's a view of Vladimir Putin I'll bet not many out there know of or understand.

We were scanning the news today when my partner Mihaela discovered a story about Vladimir Putin, and a column he wrote for the magazine Russian Pioneer (or Русский пионер in Russian). The article's title, translated for feeling reads, "Life Is Such a Simple Thing and Cruel", and it reflects not only Vladimir Putin's personal take on the Great Patriotic War, but interestingly, Russia's as well. In the piece Putin candidly discussed the coincidences that have informed his life. He goes on to confirm all the stories I and other writers have spoken of at times, of his family, his home, and the Nazi siege of Leningrad that took so many hundreds of thousands. Most striking though, is that the now celebrated leader is still confused that his parents never wanted to hate the enemy. In this resides perhaps the best quality of Russians, some miraculous capacity for forgiveness. And Putin speaks of it all reverently, in an almost childlike way, from a position of a "fly on the wall" listening to dark conversations of grownups. The effect is mesmerizing actually. Observing Putin from the standpoint of being his father's son, rather than TIME Magazine's most influential person, is riveting.

Our past and our family usually shape or contribute to who we are now. And we can certainly see how various events in Putin's life, including the past of his parents contributed to his perception and view of the world. If you would like to understand Putin more, we recommend reading First Person: An Astonishingly Frank Self-Portrait by Russia's President
First Person is an intimate, candid portrait of the man who holds the future of Russia in his grip. An extraordinary compilation of over 24 hours of in-depth interviews and remarkable photographs, it delves deep into Putin's KGB past and explores his meteoric rise to power. No Russian leader has ever subjected himself to this kind of public examination of his life and views. Both as a spy and as a virtual political unknown until selected by Boris Yeltsin to be Prime Minister, Putin has been regarded as a man of mystery. Now, the curtain lifts to reveal a remarkable life of struggles and successes. Putin's life story is of major importance to the world.
Also, we don't want to go Biblical and all, but the saying "many are called but few are chosen" fits Putin like a glove. As famous Russian journalist, Vladimir Solov'ev, said about Putin recently: "He sees his presidency not as a job, but as a service to others."


Mysterious Nazca line geoglyphs formed ancient pilgrimage route

© adwo/
The Nazca Lines, a group of hundreds of mysterious geoglyphs etched into the desert in Peru, have mystified archaeologists and scientists for decades. Now researchers analyzing the style and type of geoglyphs say they were made by two different groups of people taking different pilgrimage routes to an ancient temple. Here, one of the most famous of the geoglyphs, an enigmatic supernatural creature called "The Astronaut".
San Francisco — The Nazca Lines, a series of fantastical geoglyphs etched into the desert in Peru, may have been used by two separate groups of people to make pilgrimage to an ancient temple, new research suggests.

But the purpose of the desert etchings may have changed over time.

The earliest Nazca Lines were created so pilgrims could view the markings along a ritual processional route, the researchers said. But later people may have smashed ceramic pots on the ground where the lines intersected as part of an ancient religious rite, according to a study presented here on April 16 at the 80th annual meeting of the Society for American Archeology.

What's more, the Nazca Lines may have been created by at least two different groups of people who lived in different regions of the desert plateau, researchers said.


SOTT Radio Network: Behind the Headlines - Babylon, Ancient Rome and the American Empire

Corruption, lies, manipulation and murder on a massive scale. These words describe the modern American Empire, what it has done and what it continues to do today. But has the American Empire, like many before it, extended its hubris too far and is its collapse imminent? Russia stands alone as the only major nation attempting to throw off the shackles of a unipolar world, assert its independence from the Empire and bring some balance back to our global society. Can Putin and co. succeed in bringing some long-overdue justice to an unjust world? And if not, is there still hope for some retribution from a 'higher power'?

This week on Behind the Headlines, we explored the nature and fate of the Roman Empire, and its parallels to our modern world, with historian Laura Knight-Jadczyk.

Here's the transcript:


Lapita colonised Tonga within two generations

© Dave Burley
Lapita pottery was decorated with these characteristic dentate stamped patterns.
It only took a generation or two for the first settlers of Polynesia to spread from their original colonisation site in Tonga, a new study has found.

The rapid spread could have been driven by resource depletion and sibling rivalry, says archaeologist Professor Marshall Weisler of the University of Queensland.

"We now have a precise chronology for the settlement of Tonga and the radiating out and occupying the islands of Tonga," says Weisler.

"Within one human generation or so the first settlers explored the rest of the archipelago and put down additional daughter communities."

In 2012, Weisler worked with Professor David Burley of Simon Fraser University to establish that the first humans to colonise the Pacific arrived at Nukuleka, on the Tongan island of Tongatapu, around 2838 years ago.

Their conclusions were based on uranium isotope dating of coral abraders used by the Lapita people to make fish hooks, ornaments and tools.

Now, in a paper published in PLOS ONE, Weisler and colleagues have got a picture of how long it took the Lapita to spread to other islands in Tonga, and how long daughter populations stayed in touch with the founder population.

The researchers dated 65 samples (including coral abraders, animal bones, shell tools and charcoal from ovens) from 20 Lapita sites across the Tongan archipelago.


Researcher discovers oldest surviving non-biblical manuscript from Scotland

Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy.
A researcher at the University of Glasgow has discovered the oldest surviving non-biblical manuscript from Scotland.

The find was made in the University of Glasgow's Special Collections by Dr Kylie Murray, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow from the English Faculty and Balliol College, Oxford, currently at Glasgow on a Visiting Fellowship.

The manuscript is a twelfth-century copy of the Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius, a statesman of the late Roman Empire. The Consolation of Philosophy, thought to have been written in 524 AD by Boethius while he was awaiting execution for a crime he did not commit, was Medieval Europe's best known intellectual text, second in influence only to the Bible. It discusses free-will, fate, and the idea of the wheel of fortune in a meditation on how to cope with adversity and injustice.

Although the Boethius manuscript, which dates to c.1130-50, was known and had previously been catalogued, scholars had believed it to be English, with Durham being the most likely place of origin. However, closer inspection has revealed that the manuscript's handwriting and illustrations do not match those of Durham, or other English books, from this period.

Dr. Murray argues that instead the manuscript suggests a connection with the Scottish kingdom. Its unique illustrations more closely resemble the famous Kelso Charter, written at Kelso Abbey in 1159. This charter, which portrays an image of David I (1124-53) and Malcolm IV (1153-65), is the earliest illustrated documentary charter in the history of the British Isles.


Large area of 100mn-year-old dinosaur footprints discovered in Canada

© Reuters / David Mercado
Hundreds of prints from extinct carnivores and herbivores likely to be 100 million years old have been unearthed in northeastern British Columbia, pressed into a surface spanning an area the size of three Canadian football fields, local media reported.

Many of the three-toed prints discovered near Williston Lake about 1,500km northeast of Vancouver reportedly resemble the Toronto Raptors logo.

"We're looking at a few hundred foot prints that were exposed when I visited the site. If it keeps up that density and we are able to peel back a bit of the surface and expand it by another 1,000 square meters we're likely to find there are thousands of foot prints," paleontologist Rich McCrea told CBC News.


Anzac Day; Perpetuating the myth

Viscount Alfred Milner, unquestioned leader of the Secret Elite.
In 1916, when the British government set up the Dardanelles Commission, they turned first to the most important member of the Secret Elite, Viscount Alfred Milner. Prime Minister Asquith and conservative leader, Bonar Law, both asked him to be its chairman, [1] but Milner turned the offer down in favour of more immediate work with Lord Robert Cecil at the Foreign Office. [2] Anyone could supervise a whitewash. Alfred Milner's influence want well beyond that of a commission chairman and he could ensure the conclusion without the need for his personal involvement. They turned to another friend and associate of the Secret Elite, Evelyn Baring, Lord Cromer, who accepted the position knowing full well that 'it will kill me'. [3] And kill him it did. He died in January 1917 and was replaced by Sir William Pickford.

Others volunteered willingly. The position of Secretary to the Commission was taken by barrister Edward Grimwood Mears, who agreed to the post provided he was awarded a knighthood. [4] He had previously served on the Bryce Committee which falsified reports and generated volumes of lies about the extent of German atrocities in Belgium. [5] The British Establishment trusted Mears as a reliable placeman. Maurice Hankey, Cabinet Secretary and inner-circle member of the Secret Elite [6] 'organised' the evidence which politicians presented to the Commission. He rehearsed Lord Fisher's evidence, and coached Sir Edward Grey, Herbert Asquith and Lord Haldane. [7] Asquith insisted that War Council minutes be withheld and thus managed to cover up his own support for the campaign. Churchill and Sir Ian Hamilton collaborated on their evidence and planned to blame the disaster on Lord Kitchener. [8] Unfortunately for them, that strategy sank in the cold North Sea when Kitchener was drowned off the coast of Orkney in 1916, and was henceforth confirmed for all time as a great national hero; an untouchable.

Churchill informed the Commission that Vice-Admiral Sackville-Carden's telegram (in which he set out a 'plan' for a naval attack) was the most crucial document of all, [9] but there is no acknowledgement in the Commission's findings that Churchill had duped Carden into producing a 'plan' or had lied when telling him that his 'plan' had the overwhelming support of 'people in high authority.' [10] Every senior member of the Admiralty had advised Churchill that a naval attack on its own would fail, but he made no reference to that and scapegoated the ineffective Carden. General Hamilton conveniently added that the only instructions he had received from Kitchener before his departure was that 'we soldiers were clearly to understand that we were string number two. The sailors said they could force the Dardanelles on their own, and we were not to chip in unless the Admiral definitely chucked up the sponge.' [11]


Search for ancient Teotihuacan king's tomb takes mercurial twist

A six-year search for a royal tomb may have finally paid off for an archaeologist excavating a tunnel deep underneath a towering pre-Aztec pyramid in Mexico. At the end of the tunnel, he discovered a shimmering pool of liquid mercury.
© Cosmos News
Pyramid of the Feather Serpent in the ancient Mesoamerican city of Teotihuacan.
Mexican archaeologist Sergio Gomez announced on Friday he had discovered "large quantities" of liquid mercury below the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent, the third largest of the pyramids in Teotihuacan, an ancient city in central Mexico.

Gomez has spent the last six years excavating the tunnel, a slow and arduous process. It was only unsealed in 2003, after being buried for 1,800 years. Six months ago, Digital Journal reported that Gomez and his team announced they had found three chambers at the 300-foot end of the tunnel, 60-feet underground.


Found in 14th century manuscript, Yoda was

© British Library
In most versions of the Biblical story of Sampson, the ancient Israelite gained incredible strength through his hair, but if a 14th century image currently making the rounds on the Web is accurate, he might have also had some help from a certain Jedi master.

It's hard to deny that this illustration of a monk bears a striking resemblance to the popular Star Wars character Yoda, as Mashable pointed out on Thursday. Yoda was spotted in the Decretals of Gregory IX with gloss of Bernard of Parma (also known as the Smithfield Decretals) by historian Damien Kempf while he was researching for his book Medieval Monsters.

According to the website, Kempf said during a recent interview that he "actually couldn't believe it" when he spotted the Yoda-like monk in a 700-year-old manuscript. Julian Harrison, curator of pre-1600 historical manuscripts at the British Library, told NPR that the artist who illustrated the manuscript "clearly had a vivid imagination."