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Sat, 01 Oct 2016
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Biohazard

U.S. conducted biological weapons research at least until 2003 despite 1969 presidential order, 1972 treaty

President Richard Nixon ordered the destruction of all US biological weapons in 1969. His White House declaration, Statement on Chemical and Biological Defense Policies and Programs, declared that «the United States shall renounce the use of lethal biological agents and weapons, and all other methods of biological warfare. The United States will confine its biological research to defensive measures such as immunization and safety measures». With that and the ratification of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention by the United States, Soviet Union, and Great Britain, the US biological weapons program came to an end. Or did it?

Pursuant to Nixon's order to end America's biological warfare program, the US Army's Biological Warfare Laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland changed its name to the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). The facility made headlines in the weeks after the 9/11 attacks when the weaponized anthrax strain sent through the US postal system was found to have originated at USAMRIID. A USAMRIID scientist, Dr Bruce Ivins, was named as a «person of interest» in the anthrax attack, even though the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had scant evidence to charge the scientist. After Ivins allegedly «committed suicide» in 2008, the FBI declared Ivins the chief perpetrator and closed the case.

Info

Tsunami wall found in ancient Harappan town

© The Hindu
Research by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) has provided evidence for the burial of parts of the Harappan port town of Dholavira, Gujarat, by marine sediments possibly transported by a tsunami.

Dholavira was the site of the largest port-town of the Harappan period Dr. Rajiv Nigam, former Deputy Director of NIO, told press persons here on Monday.

Located within India's borders, Dholavira was a well-planned urban settlement that flourished for about 1,500 years from about 3,450 to 5,000 years ago, said Dr. Nigam.

A unique feature of Dholavira is the presence of a 14-18-metre-thick wall, apparently built as a protective measure.

Walls of such thickness are not found even in historic times, the real purpose of the Dholavira wall has generated considerable debate.

Recently, a group of scientists deputed by NIO and led by Dr. Nigam, suggested the wall was built to protect the town from extreme oceanic events such as storm surges and tsunamis. Ancient Indians (in the Harappan settlement) were aware of tsunami and storm protection measures, said Dr. Nigam, giving a new interpretation of thick walls at Dholavira.

He said tsunamis are known to have hit the region during the historical period. For instance, the Makran earthquake of November 28, 1945, generated a huge tsunami, over 10 metres in height, which devastated large areas along the northern shores of the Arabian Sea. The exact timing of the sediments deposited in Dholavira is yet to be established, he said. "The thick wall in Dholavira shows that the Harappans were not only aware of the potential threats from tsunamis, but they were also pioneers in coastal disaster management," said Outgoing Director, SWA Naqvi.

Map

Paris catacombs: The dark and enigmatic underworld of the French capital

The capital of France, known also as the City of Lights, serves as home to one of the most famous underground complexes in the world — the Paris Catacombs.
© AFP 2016/ Boyan Topaloff
The catacombs are a part of a much larger ancient network of tunnels known as the Mines of Paris.

Info

Italian researcher claims to have solved Atlantis mystery

© Sputnik/Igor Boyko
Reproduction of Atlantis painting (1979) by artist Vladimir Smirnov.
A journalist from the Italian newspaper La Repubblica says he has solved the mystery of Atlantis, a mythical island described by ancient and Renaissance writers.

A journalist in Italy believes he has solved the mystery of Atlantis, an island that was first mentioned by ancient Greek philosopher Plato in the fourth century BC.

Sergio Frau, author of The Pillars of Hercules, believes that the legend of the "lost" island has its basis in reality, and that the key to finding the real island behind the myth lies in locating the pillars described by Plato.

Frau told Sputnik Italia that while the Pillars of Hercules are commonly believed to refer to what is now known as the Strait of Gibraltar, they are actually located in the Strait of Sicily. He says the island referred to by Plato is in fact Sardinia.

"Plato was talking about the island of Atlas, where the rise of Greek civilization took place. Atlas had a brother, Prometheus, who lived (chained to a rock) in the Caucasus Mountains, so there was one brother who lived in the mountains at sunrise and one who lived at sunset in the middle of the sea," Frau explained.

Sheriff

Slavery and the Origins of American Police: A Brief History

The birth and development of the American police can be traced to a multitude of historical, legal and political-economic conditions. The institution of slavery and the control of minorities, however, were two of the more formidable historic features of American society shaping early policing. Slave patrols and Night Watches, which later became modern police departments, were both designed to control the behaviors of minorities. For example, New England settlers appointed Indian Constables to police Native Americans (National Constable Association, 1995), the St. Louis police were founded to protect residents from Native Americans in that frontier city, and many southern police departments began as slave patrols. In 1704, the colony of Carolina developed the nation's first slave patrol. Slave patrols helped to maintain the economic order and to assist the wealthy landowners in recovering and punishing slaves who essentially were considered property.

Comment: The very foundation of the United States was built upon racism, genocide, and militarism, so it's no surprise that the American empire has become the brutal force it is today, what some call the "World Police." Our law enforcement is merely a reflection of the pathological powers that rule the empire, which has effectively become what Andrej Lobaczewski defined as a "pathocracy." A highly recommended book everyone should read is "American Heart of Darkness: Volume I: The Transformation of the American Republic into a Pathocracy (Volume 1)" by Robert Kirkconnell, which traces these roots of racism, genocide, and militarism all the way back to the beginning, long before the Revolution.


Archaeology

Israel: Crusade-era hand grenade found amidst family's artifacts

© twitter.com
1000-year-old hand grenade from the Crusades era
An impressive private collection of artifacts was recently handed over to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), including a 1000-year-old engraved hand grenade from the Crusader era. The objects had been collected since 1973 by Marcel Mazliah from Hadera, a city on the northwest Mediterranean coast of Israel. Working at the Orot Rabin power station, the man found the majority of the items in the sea, probably lost in shipwrecks. After his death, the Mazliah family contacted the IAA and handed over his collection of archaeological treasures.

© www.dailymail.co.uk
An expert from the antiquities authority examined the artifacts' assortment and was surprised to find some significant pieces that were more than 3,500 years old. The finds include a toggle pin, the head of a knife from the Middle Bronze Age and a hand grenade, which was in common use by Islamic forces during the crusades of 1099-1187. Such grenades were filled with petroleum, naphtha or Greek fire and thrown at the enemy.

Among the objects, there were also ancient mortars, pestles and candlesticks, which were apparently manufactured in Syria in the eleventh century and brought to Israel. According to the experts, this is a significant evidence of the metal trade that was conducted during those times.

Comment: The relics of war, the unending legacy of man.


Question

Why is there 1000-year-old dogs buried under the Lima zoo?

© Luckez Olmos
Archaeological excavations in Lima’s zoo have revealed more than 100 well-preserved dogs.
Karina Venegas Gutiérrez was digging between the zebra and the hippo pens at the Parque de las Leyendas zoo here when she uncovered something strange. Like much of Peru's capital city, the zoo is built atop layers of settlements that stretch back millennia. Venegas Gutiérrez and her colleagues in the Division of Archaeology at the Parque de las Leyendas are charged with excavating that history. She has found scores of buildings and artifacts, and even a few human mummies. But in 2012, she unearthed something she still can't quite explain: the remains of more than 100 dogs, resting alongside a similar number of humans. The unusual discovery may help archaeologists understand the roles of dogs in pre-Columbian Peru—including their potentially important role as sacrificial victims.

During the World Congress on Mummy Studies here last week, Venegas Gutiérrez led a tour of the site for several scientists (and one curious journalist). As a particularly angry-sounding zebra bellowed nearby, she discussed her still puzzling find. Over the course of their excavation, she and her team unearthed the skulls of 126 humans and 128 dogs. They found small dogs, large dogs, and everything in between. Most belonged to three types of street dogs that still roam Peru's towns and cities today. One skeleton showed a distinct underbite reminiscent of a tiny bulldog. Some of the dogs still had skin and hair; a few were so well-preserved that they still had noses and ears. All of them had been arranged in peaceful postures, as if they had fallen asleep, and were wrapped in textiles for burial, just as most humans were at that time. Nearby ceramics and other artifacts suggest both dogs and humans were buried around 1000 C.E. Venegas Gutiérrez plans to radiocarbon date the remains next year.

Info

Etruscan goddess name found inscribed on stele

© Mugello Valley Project
A close-up of a stele found at Poggio Colla, a site of religious ritual for the ancient Etruscans.
An ancient tablet recently unearthed in Tuscany has revealed its first secret: the engraved name of a goddess linked to fertility.

The 500-pound (227 kilograms) stone slab, or stele, was unearthed earlier this year at Poggio Colla, a sixth century B.C. site built by the Etruscans. The stele bears a long inscription in a language that has not been used for 2,500 years, project archaeologist Gregory Warden, a professor emeritus at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, told Live Science in April.

Now, translation is underway and archaeologists have discovered that the tablet references the goddess Uni.

"We can at this point affirm that this discovery is one of the most important Etruscan discoveries of the last few decades," Warden said in a statement. "It's a discovery that will provide not only valuable information about the nature of sacred practices at Poggio Colla, but also fundamental data for understanding the concepts and rituals of the Etruscans, as well as their writing and perhaps their language."

Music

Listen to the Illiad in ancient Greek

© Lexicon of Greek Personal Names
Iliad VIII 245-253 in codex F205 (Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana), late 5th or early 6th c. AD.
The classic Greek epic poem The Illiad attributed to Homer regales the listener with tales of the siege of ancient Troy. "The World According to Sound" podcast reads the poem how it was intended — aloud and in ancient Greek.


Archaeology

Mysterious 5,000 old structure discovered near Scotland's famous Ring of Brodgar stone circle

© Stevekeiretsu/CC BY SA 3.0 / James Robertson
Ring of Brodgar, a Neolithic stone circle and henge monument, with the Loch of Harray in the background. Detail: Aerial view of the newly-uncovered structure.
A mysterious Stone Age building has been unearthed at the Ness of Brodgar in Orkney, Scotland. Researchers discovered it while excavating a Neolithic midden (rubbish dump.) It is located near one of Scotland's most famous rings of standing stones - the Ring of Brodgar.

According to The Herald Scotland , the site contains a Stone Age temple, and the discovery of the structure helped to re-date the location.

While digging at the Ring of Brodgar on Orkney, the researchers found the layout of a series of slabs which are unlike anything previously found on the island. The structure is 4 meters (13 ft.) long and it was unearthed amongst the remains of Neolithic rubbish.

Comment: More about the vast temple complex at the Ness of Brodgar: