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Death bed confession sheds light on Operation Gladio connection to violent gang in Belgium during 1980s

A deathbed confession has shed light on the identities of a violent criminal gang who terrorized Belgium in the 1980s. Independent researcher Tom Secker has told Sputnik the group was likely connected to "Operation Gladio" - a NATO effort that saw secret groups carry out false flag attacks in European countries throughout the Cold War.

A murder mystery that has gripped Belgium for three decades may be on the verge of resolution after a former policeman confessed on his deathbed to being one of the "Crazy Brabant Killers" - a violent criminal gang that killed 28 and left a further 40 injured in a string of robberies in the early 1980s.

Comment: One meaning such past events have for the present is that similar strategies are used today.
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Condemning US imperialism: Elián González and Cuban contingent speak at the World Festival of Youth

The fisherman who found five-year old Elián González in 1998 thought he'd been saved by angels and dolphins. His mother put him on an inner tube before she and everyone else on the boat drowned. They were trying to get to Florida. It was US Thanksgiving. The Cuban boy became a household name.

© Foto: Roberto Suárez/ Cubadebate
Elián González, now 24 years old at the World Youth Festival in Sochi, Russia.
This week, at 24, Elián González, speaking in Russia, condemned US imperialism. 1 He talked about the lies he was told in Florida. He called them a violation. In early 1999, the media showed a small boy in a huge toy car, surrounded by colorful children's paraphernalia, saying he didn't want to return to Cuba.


Chart Bar

Socialism, Land and Banking: 2017 compared to 1917

© Nagarjun Kandukuru
Socialism a century ago seemed to be the wave of the future. There were various schools of socialism, but the common ideal was to guarantee support for basic needs, and for state ownership to free society from landlords, predatory banking and monopolies. In the West these hopes are now much further away than they seemed in 1917. Land and natural resources, basic infrastructure monopolies, health care and pensions have been increasingly privatized and financialized.

Instead of Germany and other advanced industrial nations leading the way as expected, Russia's October 1917 Revolution made the greatest leap. But the failures of Stalinism became an argument against Marxism - guilt-by-association with Soviet bureaucracy. European parties calling themselves socialist or "labour" since the 1980s have supported neoliberal policies that are the opposite of socialist policy. Russia itself has chosen neoliberalism.

Few socialist parties or theorists have dealt with the rise of the Finance, Insurance and Real Estate (FIRE) sector that now accounts for most increase in wealth. Instead of evolving into socialism, Western capitalism is being overcome by predatory finance and rent extraction imposing debt deflation and austerity on industry as well as on labor.


Shipwreck offers 500yo maritime astrolabe, oldest ever found

© David L.Mearns / AFP
The world's oldest maritime astrolabe, which guided Portuguese explorers on a perilous voyage to India at the beginning of the 16th century.
A shipwreck explorer has revealed the discovery of the oldest ever maritime astrolabe. The navigational tool dates back more than 500 years to Europe's 'Age of Discovery'.

The astrolabe, which mariners used to measure the altitude of the sun, was discovered on a Portuguese explorer called the Esmerelda. The ship sank off the coast of Oman during a storm in May 1503.

The 'Esmerelda' is the earliest shipwreck from Europe's 'Age of Discovery' to be found and scientifically investigated by a team of archaeologists. It pre-dates the nearest Iberian shipwreck in age by 30 to 50 years. It was part of a fleet led by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama, who discovered the sea route from Europe to India via the 'Horn of Africa.'

The astrolabe was discovered by David Mearns, from Blue Water Recoveries, in 2014. Marine scientist Mearns, who wrote a book called The Shipwreck Hunter, initially described the artifact as "an important copper-alloy disc." On Monday he revealed that the disc is actually an astrolabe. The disc is marked with the Portuguese royal coat of arms and the personal emblem of King Dom Manuel I.


Archaeologists in Iraq excavate cache of cuneiform tablets dating back to Assyrian Empire

© Peter Pfälzner, University of Tübingen
3,250-year-old cuneiform tablets were found inside a clay vessel at the archaeological site of Bassetki in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq.
Excavations led by a University of Tübingen archaeologist at the site of a recently-discovered Bronze Age settlement in the Kurdistan region of Iraq have uncovered almost 100 clay tablets dating back to the period of the Middle Assyrian Empire (1250 BC).

The cache of clay tablets was found at the archaeological site of the ancient city of Bassetki, which was discovered in 2013 by University of Tübingen Professor Peter Pfälzner and colleagues.

"Our finds provide evidence that this early urban center in northern Mesopotamia was settled almost continuously from approximately 3000 to 600 BC," Professor Pfälzner said.

"That indicates that Bassetki was of key significance on important trade routes."


Watch 'Spooks and Cowboys', 1975 documentary on US 'Phoenix Program' in Vietnam

Michael Maclear's 1975 documentary, Spooks and Cowboys, Gooks and Grunts (Part 1) is more relevant now than ever. Forty-two years after its release, it exposes the suppressed, shameful truths that have corrupted America since the Vietnam War. The documentary makes it perfectly clear that "we" have always known what was going on - and that "we" have perfected the means of denying and obfuscating it.

Maclear's documentary stands in stark contrast to the current Ken Burns documentary, The Vietnam War, which is nothing more than historical revisionism, sprinkled with massive doses of cognitive dissonance, served up as healing.

While Burns assiduously avoids connecting the conflicts of the Vietnam War to America's on-going experiment in technofascism, Maclear's documentary is straightforward in stating several shameful truths. Foremost, that the CIA has corrupted not only the military, but America's political and judicial systems; and that, through its secret control of the media, the CIA's power to create the official version of history has left veterans of the Vietnam War, as well as every subsequent generation of Americans as well, in a state of neurotic delusion.


How an Ottoman Sultan defied the British Empire to send humanitarian aid to starving Ireland


Khaleefah Abdul-Majid I, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, which would later be broken up by the British and French empires.
t has none of the show and glamour of a Paris, Rome or Barcelona, and it lacks the shadowy mood of a Prague or Vienna, but it pleased me with its sense of easy calm, and the casual way in which it balances the ancient and the modern, its clean, vibrant centre set against a crumbling periphery still wealthy with remnants of its Hatti, Hittite, Phrygian and even Roman past. Touched by King Midas and conquered by Alexander the Great, this is ground that has known life virtually since life began. The winds of change have shaped the faces of its rock, but the rock itself endures.

As someone deeply fascinated by antiquity, my heart beats loudest when I can stand and listen to ancient places. Yet as rich in story as Ankara might be, it remains, in essence, a stacking of dirt, stone and sky. What truly gives this place life is its people; it is they who make for a history worth recalling.

Ireland and Turkey lie a continent apart, but while we might look and sound different, and while our minds might be shaped by different troubles, we breathe the same air. What I found in the Turkish people I met were the traits that I'd always assumed defined Irishness: the open-hearted embrace for a stranger, an interest in his journey and a desire to understand his background. Most of all, the hospitality of a warm and friendly welcome.


Mass grave discovered at WWII Nazi concentration camp in Poland

© DD News, India
Decades after WWII, archaeologists still discover bodies at Nazi concentration camp.
Archaeologists in Poland have uncovered a mass grave of prisoners at the Nazi death camp Gross-Rosen, on what is now the site of a memorial museum.

In September 2017, human remains were found in what used to be an anti-aircraft trench and conservation works were suspended. Archaeologists estimated the number of people buried there to exceed 300. "The discovery of human remains matches the account of one of the former prisoners of the camp, a Belgian man who was the camp doctor and was on the site during the last months before the liberation evacuation," said Doctor Katarzyna Pawlak-Weiss, a historian studying Nazi concentration camps located by occupying German forces in Poland. "In his report he mentioned 300 people buried here."

So far archaeologists have uncovered bones belonging to approximately 30 people, whom the team hopes to be able to identify. According to reports by survivors, the bodies of prisoners who died of illnesses and starvation were thrown into the trench in the last days of the camp's operation, but the first unearthed bones had what archaeologists think are markings from bullet wounds.

Eye 1

The mysterious tribe of blue-eyed Native Americans who appeared Caucasian in nature

A drawing of a Mandan tribeswoman by George Catlin
History holds many oddities that we may never fully understand, either through incomplete documentation, disinterest at the time, or simply a big question mark that hangs over all. Among these are mysterious tribes of people that have been encountered and confronted in all corners of the globe, often vanishing before we really understand them and leaving us perplexed at just who they were or where their origins lie.

One such tribe was a mysterious group of Native Americans who appeared to explorers as something quite European in nature, although their ways and beginnings have always been cloaked in shadows. Known mostly from historical accounts, their origins remain murky, their lineage uncertain, and they are a historical curiosity we may never fully understand.

During the era of early European contact, the native peoples of North America held many curiosities for explorers and settlers coming to this new, wild land. These tribes were numerous, and displayed rich variety between different cultures, as well as myriad languages, customs, and traditions that inspired awe, wonder, curiosity, bafflement, and even fear in the European adventurers who bravely delved into this uncharted new world and tried to tame it. Yet as fascinating as these new peoples were, perhaps the most interesting was an alleged tribe of natives who were said to look decidedly Caucasian in nature.


Archaeologists discover signs of ritual violence in Peruvian highlands

© Nagaoka et al, PLOS ONE, 2017
Buried individuals with signs of trauma.
A team of archaeologists has uncovered early evidence of ritual violence in Peru's northern highlands, providing new clues to what lay behind the development of bloody ceremonial mutilation in ancient Andean civilisation.

According to an article published in the journal Plos One, archaeologists examined the remains of 104 individuals from a site called Pacopampa, a place home to "impressively large, ceremonial architecture," that may have played host to "a complex society founded on ritual activity."

Seven of the people showed signs of trauma; and while those buried at Pacopampa were from both elite and commoner classes, all those with evidence of trauma were probably from lower castes.

Analysis of their injuries showed a large proportion of the trauma was sustained by blows to the head and face, rather than the hands and feet. So while the mountainous environment would have been a potentially dangerous place to live, the researchers argue, it is likely that many of the injuries were intentional.