Secret History

Cow Skull

Underwater fossil graveyard suggests greater toll of human-caused animal extinctions

© Janet Franklin/Arizona State University
A graveyard of fossils was found at the bottom of a flooded sinkhole known as Sawmill Sink, located on Abaco Island.
If humans had never set foot in the Bahamas, the islands today might be teeming with Cuban crocodiles, Albury's tortoises and rock iguanas.

These creatures survived the thawing of the last ice age, but not the arrival of people, a new study finds. On Abaco Island, a graveyard of fossils at the bottom of a flooded sinkhole suggests that humans caused more animals to go extinct than natural changes in the climate, the researchers said.

The new study, published today (Oct. 19) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that 17 species, all of them birds, disappeared from Abaco during the transition from the Pleistocene to the Holocene epoch. But when humans showed up about 1,000 years ago, 22 more species of reptiles, birds and mammals vanished. [6 Extinct Animals That Could Be Brought Back to Life]

"These animals could make it through the natural changes of the ice age to the modern climate—the island getting smaller, the climate getting warmer and wetter —but the human-caused changes were too much for them," said David Steadman, an ornithologist and paleontologist at the Florida Museum of Natural History, who led the study.

The fossils were collected from Sawmill Sink, a forbidding blue hole in a pine forest on Abaco Island. The top 30 feet (9 meters) of the sinkhole is filled with clear freshwater that's easy to dive in. But underneath that is a 15- to 20-foot (4.5 to 6 m) layer of opaque water saturated with hydrogen sulfide that blocks out all light and is corrosive to human skin. Still below that is a layer of salt water depleted of the oxygen that would otherwise fuel the growth of bone-decaying fungus and bacteria.

Comment: See also:


Massive historic steamship that sank in 1862 storm discovered in Lake Ontario

© Hons/AP
This August 2015 photo taken from video provided by Roger Pawlowski, shows the bow of the sunken ship Bay State in Lake Ontario near Fair Haven, New York.
The wreck site of one of the earliest propeller-driven steamships to sail the Great Lakes has been found in Lake Ontario more than 150 years after it sank in a storm, killing everyone on board, a team of New York-based shipwreck hunters said on Tuesday.

Jim Kennard and Roger Pawlowski, both of the Rochester area, said the wreck of the Bay State is in water hundreds of feet deep, about seven miles off Fair Haven in central New York, 155 miles west of Albany. The Bay State departed nearby Oswego in November 1862 with a cargo of general merchandise destined for Ohio. But a storm turned into a gale, forcing the ship's captain to turn back. "That was the beginning of the end," Kennard, who has been searching for shipwrecks since 1970, told the Associated Press.

The 137 ft-long, two-tiered ship vessel started coming apart, losing sections of its upper decks to the high winds and waves before eventually sinking and leaving a debris field about a quarter-mile long on the lake bottom. Seven passengers and between nine and 11 crew members were lost. Kennard said records of the exact number of crew were not kept, but the captain and at least four crewmen were from Oswego. The Bay State, owned by a Cleveland, Ohio, company, was built in Buffalo in 1852, a decade after the first propeller-driven steamers joined paddle-wheelers on the Great Lakes, the explorers said.

Kennard and Pawlowski, with underwriting support from National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio, were searching for wrecks along the lake's south-eastern shore in late August when their side-scan sonar revealed a debris field in several hundred feet of water about seven miles from shore. At the eastern end of the field the sonar detected a large object, which turned out to have the same dimensions as the Bay State, Kennard said.

Book 2

History of Russian relations to the East


Battle of Manzikert - Great Byzantine Defeats.
Russia's military campaign in Syria is front page news at the moment, so it is perhaps appropriate that this week my class 'Russia and the West' will be taking a break from the history of Russian-Western relations to take a look at Russia's interactions with the rest of the world. What such a look reveals is that the historical relationship between Russia and non-European/non-Christian peoples has been somewhat different than that between Western Europe (and later also North America) and most of the rest of the world.

While the Muslim world was more advanced than Western Europe, Europeans don't seem to have looked up to it as something to emulate. Rather it was for many centuries a civilization to be feared, and then once it ceased to be feared (roughly from the relief of the siege of Vienna in 1683 onwards) it became something to look down upon. As European power spread around the world in the era of colonialism, the West acquired a belief in its own superiority and others' inferiority, which to some extent persists to this day and is reflected in the foreign policy obsession with spreading Western liberal democratic norms around the world.


Bones found in Welsh pub could belong to Catholic saint John Plessington

© Reuters
Bones from a quartered body found 140 years ago in a Welsh pub could be those of a lost Catholic saint who was executed for his religious activities, bishops and scientists suspect.

The bones are thought to belong to St John Plessington, a Catholic priest who preached in secret before being unmasked and then hanged, drawn and quartered in Chester in 1679. He was canonized by Pope Paul IV in 1970. One of forty English martyrs from the 1600s and 1700s elevated to sainthood because of their refusal to abandon their faith in the face of oppression.

The Rt Rev Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury, has called for a campaign to see that DNA tests are carried out to confirm the identity of the partial skeleton which was found in an old trunk in the Old Star Inn in the village of Holywell.

Davies' current diocese includes the area of Plessington's former ministry. "By his faithfulness to the point of death, St John Plessington stands out as the great witness to the priestly life and mission in Shrewsbury Diocese," Davies told the Telegraph newspaper.

"As one of England's 40 martyrs he points to the long continuity of our Catholic faith and our unswerving loyalty to the See of Peter. "If funds could be found to identify and authenticate his relics it would allow our connection to his heroic ministry and martyrdom to become visible and tangible in a new way for generations to come," he added.
© Simon Caldwell/Diocese of Shrewsbury/PA
What is believed to be the skull of a Catholic martyr from the 16th or 17th century.

Comment: See also: From Christian faith to nihilistic void

Cloud Grey

A historical act of war: The illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation

© DMZHawaii
On the 116th anniversary of the U.S. invasion and overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, thousands of Kanaka Maoli and allies marched through Waikiki and held a rally to protest the continuing U.S. occupation and to resist the state’s attempts to sell the stolen Crown and Government lands of the Hawaiian Kingdom
It is easy to find the courage necessary to support a moral position if that position benefits oneself. True moral courage, however, is proven when one chooses to support that which is morally and ethically right even when such a position is to one's one detriment.

The people of the United States find themselves in such a position right now, forced to choose between a moral and ethical position that carries with it the potential for "inconvenience", or supporting the status quo and having to admit to themselves that they are not the champions of justice they imagine themselves to be. By the end of this article, you will know for yourself which one you are.

Most folks have heard that Hawaii is a state, one of the United States of America. Most people, including those who live in Hawaii, accept that statement as a fact.

But the reality is that in a world in which nations are as bound by the rule of laws as are the citizens of nations (if not more so), the truth is quite different!

Black Magic

The ancient belief in ghosts, malevolent phantoms, corpse brides, and ancestor spirits

© Glass_House/CC BY-ND 2.0
A misty phantom.
Ghosts and malevolent spirits haunted the ancients, and so they relied on careful rituals and exorcisms to keep the supernatural at bay.

The concept of a spiritual afterlife connects cultures across time and around the world. The idea of a ghost—the spirit or soul of a dead person that returns from the grave and connects the living—has been part of human belief systems from the beginning. Ancient writings told of ghosts, ranging from deceased and beloved family members, to ominous harbingers, and the evil specters who terrorized or killed.

Known by countless names such as: phantom, wraith, spook, shade, and poltergeist, ghosts are thought to stem from the beliefs of animism (that all things possess a spirit) and ancestor worship in the earliest cultures. The idea that the spirit survived death and the veneration of the dead, was a central part of ancient religions, no matter the society. Reasons why a soul or corpse would wander depended upon the 'rules' of death and the afterlife as established by a culture.

Headache? Blindness? Mental Disorder? You've Seen a Mesopotamian Ghost

In the ancient religions of Sumer, Babylon and Assyria, ghost of the deceased were called gidim or etemmu. At death, the ghosts would retain their personality and memories of their lives, and travel to a netherword ruled over by the dark queen Ereshkigal. Mesopotamian gods, the Anunnaki, would decide the fate of the soul. While it was believed there were dangerous beasts and demons in the netherworld, ghosts could live peacefully in afterlife houses, greeting old friends and family. They would be allowed to return to the living if they needed to complete a mission or right a wrong.


Is this $2 photograph junk-shop find a $5 million treasure of Billy the Kid?

© Kagin's
He may have been a legendary outlaw in the Old West, but Billy the Kid apparently enjoyed playing croquet.

A newly uncovered photo bought for $2 by collector Randy Guijarro at a secondhand store in Fresno, California, could be worth millions as authenticators believe it is only the second confirmed image of the famed outlaw.

"It's the holy grail of not just western photography. It's the holy grail of photography," Jeff Aiello, executive director of the documentary Billy the Kid: New Evidence, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It is the rarest photograph in the world and it was found in a Fresno junk shop."

The image appears to show The Kid and his gang, The Regulators, playing croquet at a wedding in Lincoln County, New Mexico, late in the summer of 1878, according to Kagin's, the numismatic company that authenticated it.

Bad Guys

You won't believe how recently Africans and Native Americans were caged exhibits in zoos

Throughout the late 19th century, and well into the 1950's, Africans and in some cases Native Americans, were kept as exhibits in zoos. Far from a relic from an unenlightened past, remnants of such exhibits have continued in Europe as late as the 2000's.

Throughout the early 20th century, Germany held what was termed a, "Peoples Show," or Völkerschau. Africans were brought in as carnival or zoo exhibits for passers-by to gawk at.

Only decades before, in the late 1800's, Europe had been filled with, "human zoos," in cities like Paris, Hamburg, Antwerp, Barcelona, London, Milan, and Warsaw. New York too saw these popular exhibits continue into the 20th century. There was an average of 200,000 to 300,000 visitors who attended each exhibition in each city.

Carl Hagenbeck of Germany ran exhibits of what he called, "purely natural," populations, usually East Asian Islanders, but in 1876, he also sent a collaborator to the Sudan to bring back, "wild beasts and Nubians." The traveling Nubian exhibit was a huge success in cities like Paris, London, and Berlin.

Comment: Sickening. It's mind-boggling to think that millions of people in Europe and the U.S. would visit, much less support, these human zoos.

Of course, in a world primarily ruled by pathological individuals, inhuman treatment of humans by other humans can become 'normal'.

As Polish psychiatrist Andrzej Łobaczewski wrote in Political Ponerology, p. 119:
Any human group affected by the process described herein is characterized by its increasing regression from natural common sense and the ability to perceive psychological reality. Someone considering this in terms of traditional categories might consider it an instance of "turning into half-wits" or the development of intellectual deficiencies and moral failings. A ponerological analysis of this process, however, indicates that pressure is being applied to the more normal part of the association by pathological factors present in certain individuals who have been allowed to participate in the group because the lack of good psychological knowledge has not mandated their exclusion.

Thus whenever we observe some group member being treated with no critical distance, although he betrays one of the psychological anomalies familiar to us, and his opinions being treated as at least equal to those of normal people, although they are based on characteristically different view of human matters, we must derive the conclusion that this human group is affected by a ponerogenic process and if measures are not taken the process shall continue to its logical conclusion.

We shall treat this in accordance with the above described first criterion of ponerology, which retains its validity regardless of the qualitative and quantitative features of such a union: the atrophy of natural critical facilities with respect to pathological individuals becomes an opening to their activities, and, at the same time, a criterion for recognizing the association in concern as ponerogenic.

Such a state of affairs simultaneously consists as a liminal (watershed) situation, whereupon further damage to people's healthy common sense and critical moral faculties becomes even easier. Once a group has inhaled a sufficient dose of pathological material to give birth to the conviction that these not-quite-normal people are unique geniuses, it starts subjecting its more normal members to pressure characterized by corresponding paralogical and paramoral elements.

Snakes in Suits

How America's modern shadow government can be traced back to one single psychopath - Allen Dulles

Many of you will be intimately familiar with the name Allen Dulles. Younger readers, of my generation or below, will be far less so. It is precisely because the youth of this nation remain so ignorant of the nefarious characters in America's past, that David Talbot's recently published book, The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government, is so incredibly important.

Mr. Talbot has been recently conducting invaluable interviews about the book with various media organizations. One of the best I've seen is with Mother Jones. Here's some of what he had to say about America's longest serving CIA director:

Comment: As far as psychopaths in positions of power of the last hundred years or so go, Allen Dulles deserves special recognition. It seems he not only shaped, built, and gave the CIA its pathological identity - but left a legacy that few of his ilk can surpass in the sheer depth and breadth of the Evil he was able to execute. Interesting that Dulles and FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover both headed their respective agencies for very long terms, roughly during the same periods, and were both individuals exceedingly bereft of conscience.

See also: Allen Dulles and the Ukrainian fascists: Did the CIA/MI6 use of Nazis in Ukraine during the Cold War ever stop?


Researchers discover rare 125-million-year-old mammalian fossil in Spain

Researchers have found 125-million year old mammalian fossil at a site in central Spain. The fossil belongs to a species called Spinolestes xenarthrosus which looks like an African rodent. The discovery is rare and marks the oldest known mammalian fossil till date, found at Las Hoyas Quarry in central Spain.

The fossil is well-preserved and the research team was able to even ascertain the hair structures and inner organs. The discovery of a 125-million-year-old fossil has revealed a furry chipmunk-sized mammal which probably went extinct around 66 million years back, said the research team. Researchers estimate that the small mammal could have weighed around 50-70 grams. The mammal was thriving on the planet during the age of dinosaurs and went extinct nearly 66 million years ago.

The rare fossil was discovered by a team led by Angela Buscalioni from the Autonomous University of Madrid, in Spain.