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Wed, 24 Aug 2016
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Secret History


70 years ago the U.S. set off a nuke underwater and it went very badly

Seventy years ago, on July 26, 1946, the U.S. military tried a new type of nuclear test.

A joint Army/Navy task force had suspended a nuclear device, oddly named Helen of Bikini, 90 feet below the surface of the water, in the middle of Bikini Atoll, one of the isolated rings of coral and land that make up the Marshall Islands. Arrayed around the 21-kiloton bomb were dozens of target ships.

The Navy had a point to prove. In this new era of nuclear warfare, in which the Air Force could rain down explosives on entire cities, what use was a naval force? The military leaders who proposed the test wanted to show that their ships could ride out a nuclear attack and that the fleet was not obsolete.

But the underwater test was controversial, perhaps even more so than land-based test blasts. Even nuclear scientists questioned its point—would it offer useful, scientific information or was this all just for show?

Comment: Read more: America's shame - the N-bomb guinea pigs


Seven ancient cultures that history forgot

© Creative Commons, Courtesy of Wikipedia
The ancient Egyptians had their pyramids, the Greeks, their sculptures and temples. And everybody knows about the Maya and their famous calendar.

But other ancient peoples get short shrift in world history. Here are a handful of long-lost cultures that don't get the name recognition they deserve.

The Silla

© Creative Commons, Courtesy of Wikipedia
The Silla Kingdom was one of the longest-standing royal dynasties ever. It ruled most of the Korean Peninsula between 57 B.C. and A.D. 935, but left few burials behind for archaeologists to study.

Comment: It's highly likely that many ancient cultures and civilisations were destroyed by cometary bombardment. For more information on this hypothesis, be sure to read Laura Knight-Jaczyk's Comets and Catastophes series, as well as her books, The Secret History of the World and How to Get Out Alive and Comets and the Horns of Moses.

Heart - Black

'Witch' prison revealed in 15th-century Scottish chapel

© Open Space Trust/Mither Kirk Project
An 1868 drawing of the former prison for witches, St Mary's Chapel, after it was restored to religious use.
An iron ring set in the stone pillar of a 15th-century chapel in the Scottish city of Aberdeen may not look like much, but historians say it could be a direct link to a dark chapter in the city's past — the trial and execution of 23 women and one man accused of witchcraft during Aberdeen's "Great Witch Hunt" in 1597.

"I was skeptical, to be honest — the ring is not all that spectacular, but it is actually quite genuine," said Arthur Winfield, project leader for the OpenSpace Trust in the United Kingdom, which is restoring the chapel as part of a community-based redevelopment of the East Kirk sanctuary at the historic Kirk of St Nicholas, in central Aberdeen.

Winfield told Live Science that two places within the kirk (the Lowland Scots word for "church") had been equipped as a prison for witches snared in the Aberdeen witch hunt: the stone-vaulted chapel of St Mary, and the tall steeple of the kirk, which was at that time the tallest structure in the city.

Comment: If you would like to understand more about how such practices as witch-hunts and burning those convicted at the stake could possibly come about, read Wars, Pestilence and Witches, an article written by Laura Knight-Jadczyk as part of her Comets and Catastrophes series.


Caribbean cave art illuminates encounters with Europeans

© Antiquity Publications Ltd.
Indigenous carvings found in caves on Mona Island were made by people dragging their fingers or tools across the surfaces of the soft limestone caves.
Puerto Rico's Mona Island is famous for its vast network of caves. In these dark underground chambers, archaeologists have discovered engravings by indigenous people and early European colonizers alike.

These cave markings may offer a rare glimpse at individual, perhaps even spiritual, first encounters that took place in the Caribbean nearly 500 years ago between indigenous and European people, according to a new study.

Led by Jago Cooper, of the British Museum in London, and Alice Samson, of the University of Leicester, a group of researchers spent years documenting the subterranean artwork at Mona Island —which is about halfway between the main island of Puerto Rico and Hispaniola. The small island has been occupied by humans for at least 5,000 years, and Christopher Columbus stopped there during his second voyage in 1494.

Comment: Further reading:


Researcher claims Dyatlov pass mystery victims could have been on KGB mission

© Wikipedia
A view of the tent as the rescuers found it on February 26, 1959: the tent had been cut open from inside, and most of the skiers had fled in socks or barefoot.
Hikers in the 1959 Igor Dyatlov expedition, who mysteriously died in the Ural Mountains could have been on a KGB mission, Head of the Dyatlov Group Memory Public Fund Yuri Kuntsevich told TASS on Thursday.

This conclusion is based on recent information about the ties between the KGB and the Dyatlov expedition members who died under bizarre circumstances near the remote Otorten Mountain in the North Urals overnight to February 2, 1959, the researcher said.

"It turned out that there were two KGB officers in the Dyatlov group. Quite possibly, they were carrying out a mission to provide support for a technology-induced experiment. The tourists were carrying a large batch of photo equipment, which was completely atypical of highly complex expeditions that require maximally alleviating their load," Kuntsevich said.

Comment: More stories on this case:


DNA testing proves genealogy of indigenous Americans is one of the most unique in the world

The suppression of the Native Americans and the decimation of their culture is a black page in the history of the United States. The discrimination and injustices towards this ancient race, which had lived on the American continent long before the European conquerors came to this land, are still present to this day despite the efforts of different groups and organizations trying to restore the justice.

The destruction of their culture is one of the most shameful aspects of our history, the extent of the damage that was done is still being down-played and denied entry into textbooks and history-lessons to this day.

The origin and history of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas have been studied for years by researchers from different countries, and a recent DNA study showed that the genealogy of the western aboriginals is one of the most unique in the world.

The question of whether Native Americans derived from a single Asian population or from a number of different populations has been a subject of research for decades. Now, having compared the DNA samples from people of modern Native American and Eurasian groups, an international team of researchers concluded on the validity of the single ancestral population theory.

Book 2

The Polka-Dot File and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy

A review of Fernando Faura's The Polka-Dot File: on the Robert F. Kennedy Killing

There is a vast literature on the CIA-directed assassination of President John Kennedy. Most Americans have long rejected the Warren Commission's findings and have accepted that there was a conspiracy. There is much less research on the assassination of JFK's brother, Senator Robert Kennedy, and, if asked, far fewer people would say it was a conspiracy and a cover-up. They may not even know the alleged assassin's name.

But the assassination of Robert Kennedy did involve a conspiracy and a cover-up. There is abundant evidence that the accused, Sirhan Sirhan, who was standing 1-3 feet in front of Kennedy when he was shot and who has been languishing in prison since June 5, 1968, did not kill RFK. And there is overwhelming evidence that there was at least a second shooter who shot Kennedy from the rear. The autopsy concluded that Kennedy was shot four times from the rear exclusively (three entering his body) and that the fatal shot was fired upward at a 45 degree angle from 1-3 inches behind his right ear. Sirhan's handgun held 8 bullets. Visual and acoustical evidence shows that up to 13 shots were fired. Thus Sirhan could not have been the killer.

Comment: See also the excellent documentary series 'Evidence of Revision':


Making the world safe for psychopaths: America, Britain and Australia were complicit in Indonesian genocide in which 500,000 were killed during 1960s purge

A panel of judges has determined the anti-communist purge in Indonesia in which 500,000 people were killed was genocide, and that U.S. Britain and Australia were all complicit
A panel of judges has determined the anti-communist purge in Indonesia in which 500,000 people were killed was genocide, and that U.S. Britain and Australia were all complicit.

At least half a million people died in the months-long purge across the Southeast Asian archipelago that started after General Suharto blamed a coup on the communists on October 1, 1965.

The tribunal concluded these were crimes against humanity, saying the U.S. aided by providing a list of alleged communist party officials to the Indonesians and said that the U.K. and Australia recycled Indonesia's army propaganda.

At least half a million people died in the months-long purge across the Southeast Asian archipelago that started after General Suharto put down a coup blamed on the communists on October 1, 1965


Please don't shoot our UK peace activists against the deployment of US nuclear cruise missiles: Cold War mentality in 1983-1985

© Flickr/ Robert Karma
Secret UK Cabinet files released by the National Archives in Kew, west London on Thursday reveal that at the height of protests against the deployment of US nuclear cruise missiles in 1983-1985 the government of Margaret Thatcher was horrified by a prospect of US military shooting British peace activists.

Throughout the 1980's Britain was in a grip of mass peace protests against the deployment of American cruise missiles tipped with nuclear warheads.

While publicly dismissing the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and other peace groups as "unrepresentative" of the British people, privately Thatcher and her Ministers were agonizing over the ways of "combatting" them, as the declassified files show. The Defense Secretary Michael Heseltine established a pro-government "peace" group to challenge CND's "unilateralism", while the Secret Service was charged with "exposing" the CND's foreign backers. They failed to find any. Apparently, they hadn't yet mastered the art of creating "dodgy dossiers" at the time.


16,000 year-old pre-Clovis tools discovered in Texas

© Gault School of Archaeological Research
The pre-Clovis artifacts include more than 90 stone tools, such as bifaces and blades, and more than 160,000 flakes left over from the point-making process.
Archaeologists in Texas thought they'd made an important discovery in the 1990s, when they unearthed a trove of stone tools dating back 13,000 years, revealing traces of the oldest widespread culture on the continent.

But then, years later, they made an even more powerful find in the same place — another layer of artifacts that were older still.

About a half-hour north of Austin and a meter deep in water-logged silty clay, researchers have uncovered evidence of human occupation dating back as much as 16,700 years, including fragments of human teeth and more than 90 stone tools.

In addition to being some of the oldest yet found in the American West, the artifacts are rare traces of a culture that predated the culture known as Clovis, whose distinctively shaped stone tools found across North America have consistently been dated to about 13,000 years ago.

Indeed, an entire generation of anthropologists was taught that Clovis represented the continent's first inhabitants.

But, along with a handful of other pre-Clovis finds, the Texas tools add to the mounting evidence that humans arrived on the continent longer ago than was once thought, said Dr. D. Clark Wernecke, director of the Gault School of Archaeological Research.

"The most important takeaway is that people were in the New World much earlier than we used to believe," Wernecke said.

"We were all taught [North America was first populated] 13,500 years ago, and it appears that people arrived 15,000 to 20,000 years ago."

The location in Texas where the new finds were made, known as the Gault site, was first identified in the 1920s, but it wasn't until the 1990s that archaeologists discovered the first tools, like tapered-oval spear heads, that were clear signs of the ancient Clovis culture.

It was those finds that Wernecke and his colleagues went to investigate further, when they began working at the Gault site in 2002.