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Mon, 26 Sep 2016
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The hidden origins of the wars in Korea and Vietnam


Oliver Stone's "Heaven and Earth", a forgotten classic about the war in Vietnam.
The Korean war is often called the forgotten war. Of course there are many more wars far more forgotten, for example the massive U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic that smashed the new democracy there from 1965-1966. However, what has been forgotten is the massive bloodbath that resulted from the Korean War, during which 3.5 million Koreans died. The Vietnam war is far more well known because it awakened a generation to the vicious nature of American imperialism. Growing up (I was born a couple years after it ended) it was the last major war the U.S. had waged; since then, America's overt wars were kept brief specifically to avoid another Vietnam. The brief wars of the '80s and '90s: Grenada, Libya, Panama, and Iraq. The long wars were the covert wars: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Angola.

Vietnam was chiefly known to my generation through Hollywood movies like Apocalypse Now and Platoon. Thus like most back then I never really even thought to ask, why did the war begin in the first place? What was it all about? Never once in these films did they ever have a Viet Cong explain what they were fighting for. Actually, in fairness to Platoon director Oliver Stone, I should mention that he did eventually make the brilliant Heaven and Earth, which attempted to tell the story of the war from the perspective of a Vietnamese woman. Of course, not even this film is told from the perspective of the NLF, the National Liberation Front. Instead the protagonist survives by collaborating with the Americans, eventually marrying an American soldier who turns out to be a war criminal, a special forces soldier who committed all manner of atrocities as part of America's psychological operations against the Vietnamese. Sorry for the early tangent but I can't help but mention this forgotten classic. My point is that while the Vietnam war used to receive a great deal of attention, the actual reasons for the war have been less discussed.

Recently I did a bit of research on the origins of both these wars - the "hottest" wars of the Cold War. I relied on two classic but suppressed books on the subject. First there is The Hidden History of the Korean War 1950-1951 by I.F. Stone. Next, The War Conspiracy by Peter Dale Scott. Both works seek to re-examine the forces that led us into these wars. I was rather surprised at certain similarities between the origins of these wars and the origins of the so-called war on terror. The players had changed but the game remained much the same.

Comment: For more on Nick Turse's research on Vietnam war crimes, see his interview with Bill Moyers:




Ice Cube

Mystery: Iceman killed after sneak attack from behind?


Ötzi The Iceman
The murder of Ötzi the Iceman was likely committed at the end of a harsh personal conflict, researchers at a three-day mummy congress in Bolzano, north Italy, concluded.

Launched to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Iceman's discovery in the Ötztal Alps in South Tyrol, the meeting presented new insights on the 5,300-year-old mummy, including a profile carried out with latest criminological methods.

Heart - Black

Irish: The forgotten white slaves

© unknown
They came as slaves: human cargo transported on British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by thehundreds of thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children.

Whenever they rebelled or even disobeyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. Some were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.

We don't really need to go through all of the gory details, do we? We know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade.

But are we talking about African slavery? King James VI and Charles I also led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain's Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one's next door neighbor.

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Info

Ring-shaped geoglyphs found in Peru

© Photo courtesy Justin Jennings
One of the complex circular geoglyphs the team mapped at Quilcapampa, in the Sihuas Valley in Peru, has at least six rings arranged in an irregular pattern.
Dozens of circular geoglyphs, some comprising several intertwined rings, have been identified and mapped near the ancient Peruvian town of Quilcapampa, revealing that these earthen designs were created near ancient pathways used for trade.

Geoglyphs are designs, which often form shapes or images, on the landscape. They are found all over the world; the most famous examples are located at Nazca, where thousands of such designs — from real and imaginary creatures to geometric shapes — have been etched into the Peruvian desert.

The newly mapped geoglyphs may have had symbolic significance, possibly representing the flow of people and goods through the town at the time, according to Justin Jennings, a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto who is one of the team leaders. [See Images of the Mysterious Geoglpyhs in the Ancient Town of Peru]

Bizarro Earth

Earth wobble climate change may have driven ancient humans out of Africa

© Tobias Friedrich
A computer model simulated human density 80,000 years ago, showing the arrival of humans in eastern China and southern Europe as well as migrations out of Africa along vegetated paths in Sinai and the Arabian Peninsula.
Ancient human migrations out of Africa may have been driven by wobbles in Earth's orbit and tilt that led to dramatic swings in climate, a new study finds.

Modern humans first appeared in Africa about 150,000 to 200,000 years ago. It remains a mystery as to why it then took many millennia for people to disperse across the globe. Recent archaeological and genetic findings suggest that migrations of modern humans out of Africa began at least 100,000 years ago, but most humans outside of Africa most likely descended from groups who left the continent more recently — between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago.

Previous research suggested that shifts in climate might help explain why modern human migrations out of Africa happened when they did. For instance, about every 21,000 years, Earth experiences slight changes to its orbit and tilt. These series of wobbles, known as Milankovitch cycles, alter how much sunlight hits different parts of the planet, which in turn influences rainfall levels and the number of people any given region can support.

Now scientists have developed a new computer simulation of Earth to pinpoint how these changes in orbit and solar radiation levels might have affected rainfall, temperature, sea levels, glacial ice, vegetation, carbon dioxide levels and global modern human migration patterns over the past 125,000 years. The researchers noted that this model's predictions agree well with previous findings regarding ancient climates.

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Sherlock

DNA reveals possible link to mysterious branch of humanity

© Preben Hjort, Mayday Film
Researchers have found that Aboriginal Australians are some of the oldest living populations on Earth. Here, Eske Willerslev talks to Aboriginal elders n the Kalgoorlie area in southwestern Australia in 2012.
A group of humans migrating out of Africa some 40,000 to 70,000 years ago mingled with an as-yet unknown branch of humanity, researchers say.

Modern humans originated about 150,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa. However, scientists have long debated when and how the modern human lineage spread out of Africa to nearly every corner of the globe. Nearly everyone outside Africa descended from an exodus that occurred between 40,000 and 70,000 years ago, but recent archaeological findings and climate models suggest that migrations of modern humans from Africa began at least 100,000 years ago.

One way to find out whether, in the past, modern humans dispersed from Africa in one wave or many — and to see if they intermingled with any other human lineages along the way — is to examine the genomes of present-day modern humans.

"We're interested in understanding how our species has come to be how it is through the lens of ancient DNA," said Swapan Mallick, bioinformatics director at Harvard Medical School in Boston and lead author of one of the three studies appearing in the Sept. 22 issue of the journal Nature.

Previous human genetic databases often sampled a relatively narrow range of populations, which could skew results or miss key details about the migrations of modern humans out of Africa. Now, three studies have collected new, high-quality data from 787 human genomes from more than 280 geographically diverse populations around the world, including typically understudied and rapidly disappearing groups.

Among the understudied groups researchers looked at are African populations, which have considerable genetic, linguistic and cultural diversity. They also examined genomes from Australia, where previous research uncovered some of the earliest archaeological and fossil evidence of modern humans outside Africa.

Comment: Related: Indian study of genetics of Andaman Islanders uncovers new human ancestor


Map

Laser scans reveal network of ancient cities in Cambodia

© Billy H.C. Kwok for The New York Times
A woman at work beside ruins in the Angkor region of Cambodia.
For decades, archaeologists here kept their eyes on the ground as they tramped through thick jungle, rice paddies and buffalo grazing fields, emerald green and soft with mud during the monsoon season.

They spent entire careers trying to spot mounds or depressions in the earth that would allow them to map even small parts of Angkor, the urban center at the heart of the Khmer empire, which covered a vast region of what is now Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos from roughly A.D. 802 to 1431. In modern times, little material evidence existed beyond a network of monumental stone temples, including the famed Angkor Wat, and the sprawling settlements that presumably fanned out around the temples long since swallowed up by the jungle.

But earlier this year, the archaeologists Shaun Mackey and Kong Leaksmy were armed with a portable GPS device containing data from an aerial survey of the area that is changing the way Angkor is studied. The device led them straight to a field littered with clods of earth and shot through with tractor marks. It looked to the naked eye like an ordinary patch of dirt, but the aerial data had identified it as a site of interest, a mounded embankment where the ancestors of today's Cambodians might have altered the landscape to build homes.

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Magnify

Archaeologists use drones to reveal ancient Roman settlement in the Apennine Mountains

© A. Hamel
Interpretation of where an ancient sites might be in an aerial drone photo taken in the Le Pianelle area.
Ancient Roman ruins that lie hidden below the surface at the Apennine Mountains of Italy have largely escaped discovery because the rugged terrain makes them difficult to spot by foot and dangerous to find by airplane.

Now, using small airborne drones, archaeologists have found that an ancient settlement in the Apennines was much more dense and organized than previously thought, a new study reveals. The study offered evidence that drones could help uncover more unknown sites in mountains worldwide.

Scientists investigated the area of Le Pianelle in the Tappino Valley in the mountainous southern Italian region of Molise. This area was known as Samnium in antiquity.

"The way this mountain society was organized remains poorly understood," said study author Tesse Stek, a Mediterranean archaeologist at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

Previously, construction accidentally unearthed two ancient temples in the area. However, "there was no good knowledge about other sites, such as villages, farms, villas, graveyards and so on, that could tell us more about the ancient inhabitants in the area that visited the cult sites," Stek told Live Science. "They seemed to be cathedrals in the desert, so to say."

Star of David

The violence, intolerance, monotheism nexus: Made in Ancient Israel


The Mosaic Distinction... Psychopathy in action.
With increasing clarity scholars of history and religion are coming to perceive a disturbing trifecta--a nexus that links monotheism, intolerance, and violence. Today the jihadists are the most prominent exponents of this noxious triad. As will be seen below, however, the Hebrew Bible is the originating locus.

To be sure, violence is a human universal. To take an extreme example, consider the wars conducted by the Aztecs to procure victims for their rituals of human sacrifice. These conflicts were bloody, but they were not undertaken to maintain and extend an intolerant monotheistic faith. The Aztecs were quite content to leave the polytheistic beliefs of their own nation, and those of their neighbors, just as they were.

Matters were different among the ancient Israelites. As the Egyptologist Jan Assmann notes: "[t]he accounts of the Exodus from Egypt, violently forced upon Pharaoh by God-sent plagues--and even more so the conquest in Canaan--depict the birth of the Israelite nation and the rise of monotheism (these two being aspects of the same process) in terms of extreme violence." The prominent place of these motifs in the historical memory of the people who created the Hebrew Bible makes them highly significant. In addition to the glorification of violence, these narrative reveal a demonization of the Egyptians and the Canaanites. And demonization is often a prelude to aggression.

Archaeology

13th century Maya codex, long shrouded in controversy, proves genuine

Brown University's Stephen Houston and a team of leading researchers in anthropology and Maya archeology methodically verify the authenticity of the oldest known manuscript in ancient America.

© Justin Kerr
This is an image from the Grolier Codex, the oldest known manuscript in ancient America.
The Grolier Codex, an ancient document that is among the rarest books in the world, has been regarded with skepticism since it was reportedly unearthed by looters from a cave in Chiapas, Mexico, in the 1960s.

But a meticulous new study of the codex has yielded a startling conclusion: The codex is both genuine and likely the most ancient of all surviving manuscripts from ancient America.

Stephen Houston, the Dupee Family Professor of Social Science and co-director of the Program in Early Cultures at Brown University, worked with Michael Coe, professor emeritus of archeology and anthropology at Harvard and leader of the research team, along with Mary Miller of Yale and Karl Taube of the University of California-Riverside. They reviewed "all known research on the manuscript," analyzing it "without regard to the politics, academic and otherwise, that have enveloped the Grolier," the team wrote in its study "The Fourth Maya Codex."

The paper, published in the journal Maya Archaeology, fills a special section of the publication and includes a lavish facsimile of the codex.

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