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Thu, 14 Dec 2017
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Secret History


A treasure trove of birch notes became the Rosetta Stone for Medieval Russia

Birch bark old Russia, rosetta stone medieval russia
Have you read Evgenii Vodolazkin's excellent novel Laurus? If you haven't, you've deprived yourselves of a rare experience of serious, contemplative fiction in the grand tradition of Christian humanism. (See my review if you need an extra push). Those of you who read it will probably remember the main character's most prized possession. It's the thing that grounds him, that gives him meaning in a world of plague and chaos. Ultimately, it's also the thing he must abandon on his path toward sanctity.

What is it? It's a bag full of notes written on birch bark. Everything from a excerpts from popular novel about Alexander the Great to the writings of the Holy Fathers to practical advice about treating common ailments-it's all there. It turns out that these birch notes aren't some fiction invented by the author. They are a historical reality. More than that, they are a kind of Rosetta Stone for Medieval Rus.

I use the term Rosetta Stone loosely here, to mean a key to a cypher. In 1951, an archaeological expedition in Novgorod found a treasure trove of these birch notes, and they became a historical sensation. They completely changed the historical thinking surrounding the everyday life of medieval Russians. (This post is adapted from an original Russian post in Foma magazine)


Essenes may have authored Dead Sea Scrolls - Israeli anthropologist

Dead Sea Scrolls
© Reuters
A facsimile of the Isaiah Scroll, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, is displayed inside the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls over 70 years ago, numerous theories have abounded about who wrote the ancient manuscripts. Now over 30 newly-excavated skeletons may finally provide an answer.

The first of the scrolls were found by Bedouin goat herders in the Qumran area of the West Bank in 1946 and, over the course of the following decade, scrolls were found in 11 different caves in the area. A 12th cave yielded another find as recently as February this year.

Throughout this time, archaeologists have struggled to find conclusive proof to determine who wrote or protected the scrolls.

This failure has paved the way for seemingly endless theories about the inhabitants of Qumran including that they were craftsmen, Iron Age people, Bedouins and Roman soldiers. However the excavation of the skeletons has added great weight to the view that the manuscripts were watched over by a Jewish sect of celibate men called the Essenes.

Comment: See also:


Remember that time when the US pushed nuclear development onto Iran?

Iranian security man
An Iranian security man stands next to journalists outside the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran on August 21, 2010 during a ceremony initiating the transfer of Russia-supplied fuel to the facility after more than three decades of delay.
In defence of his recent decision to decertify the Iranian nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump explained: "We will not continue down a path whose predictable conclusion is more violence, more terror and the very real threat of Iran's nuclear breakout."

This was, of course, pretty rich coming from the leader of a nation that has unleashed all manner of violence -including nuclear-against the inhabitants of this planet.

Because the Islamic Republic has dared to complicate US-Israeli designs in the Middle East, it has found itself repeatedly portrayed as an apocalyptic threat to life on earth

But hey: the September 2017 Iranian missile launch-that-wasn't - news of which Trump himself broke on Twitter - could have been really violent!

Star of David

Rogue state: Declassified Israeli docs spell out 60-year-long strategy to ethnically cleanse Arabs

Israel Gaza Strip Palestine
Israel has released declassified documents from after the Six Day War which reveal the government's plans to starve Gaza and its controversial plans to deal with the Palestinians.

The declassified documents were released on the Israel State Archives on Thursday and include hundreds of pages of minutes from cabinet meetings between August and December 1967, soon after the Six Day War ended the previous June.

The Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors ended with Israel capturing East Jerusalem and the West Bank from Jordan, the Gaza strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria.

Comment: A fascinating insight into the barren, bleak landscape of the Israeli mind.


Oswald killer Jack Ruby told FBI informant to 'watch the fireworks' the day JFK was shot

Lee Harvey Oswald
© Dallas Police Department / Reuters
Freshly released FBI records show that Jack Ruby, the man who killed Lee Harvey Oswald, asked an FBI informant if he wanted to "watch the fireworks" just hours before President John F. Kennedy's assassination in 1963.

The document, which was among 10,744 files released by the National Archive on Friday, outlines what an FBI informant told officials about Ruby, hinting that the nightclub owner may have known that Kennedy was going to be targeted.

In March 1977, nearly 14 years after JFK's assassination, the chief of the intelligence division of the Internal Revenue Service, Robert J. Potrykus, hand delivered a letter to the agent Ted L. Gunderson of the FBI's Dallas office which outlined that Ruby telephoned the informant on the morning of the fatal shooting of the president and asked him if he wanted to go to watch the presidential parade.

"The informant stated that on the morning of the assassination, Ruby contacted him and asked if he would 'like to watch the fireworks,'" the letter reads.

"He was with Jack Ruby and standing at the corner of the Postal Annex Building facing the Texas School Book Depository Building at the time of the shooting. Immediately after the shooting, Ruby left and headed toward the area of the Dallas Morning News Building."

Comment: More on thee released documents:

Bad Guys

Jonestown survivor recalls brainwashing, blackmail & mass suicide (AUDIO)

© Reuters
The entrance to the Jonestown commune in Guyana.
Sprung from a church in 1950s Indiana, the People's Temple was hailed by its charismatic founder Reverend Jim Jones as a vehicle for a utopia called Jonestown, where solidarity could thrive, sickness be cured, and the ills of the world left at the door.

But on November 18, 1978, the church became a conduit for murder and mass suicide when in Guyana, South America, the American preacher marshalled hundreds of his followers to drink Kool-Aid laced with cyanide.


Snakes in Suits

House of horrors: The CIA, Dr. Gottlieb and MK-Ultra

© Jose Mesa | CC BY 2.0
The death (or possibly murder) of Frank Olson was but a hint of the enormous secret CIA program of research into techniques of mind alteration and control. The whole enterprise was assigned the code-name MK-ULTRA and was run out of the CIA's Technical Services Division, headed in the 1950s by Willis Gibbons, a former executive of the US Rubber Company. In the division's laboratories and workshops researchers labored on poisons, gadgets designed to maim and kill, techniques of torture and implements to carry such techniques to agonizing fruition. Here also were developed surveillance equipment and kindred tools of the espionage trade. All of these activities made the Technical Services Division a vital partner of the covert operations wing of the Agency.

Within Technical Services MK-ULTRA projects came under the control of the Chemical Division, headed from 1951 to 1956 by Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, a New York Jew who received his doctorate in chemistry from California Tech. Born with a clubfoot and afflicted with a severe stammer, Gottlieb pushed himself with unremitting intensity. Despite his physical affliction he was an ardent square dancer and exponent of the polka, capering across many a dance floor and dragging visiting psychiatrists and chemists on terpsichorean trysts where appalling plans of mind control were ruminated amidst the blare of the bands.

Comment: Project MK-Ultra & Dr. Ewen Cameron "stole my mother away from me"

Eye 2

Declassified Israeli transcripts discuss ethnic cleansing

Palestinian refugees Israeli occupation war 1967

Palestinian refugees crossing the Allenby Bridge following the Israeli occupation and war of 1967.
Declassified cabinet meeting minutes show that top Israeli cabinet officials contemplated an ethnic cleansing of the Gaza Strip and Galilee, rewriting history textbooks in favor of a pro-Zionist version of history, and censoring political speech in newspapers to deal with the fallout of the Six-Day War in 1967.

The material posted to the Israeli archives website shows hundreds of pages of previously classified cabinet meeting minutes, including those between August and December of 1967, which followed closely after the Six-Day War in June. From this archive, Israeli officials demonstrated a lack of direction following the war in which the Israeli military conquered and illegally occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai Peninsula.

Officials initially contemplated the difficulties of administering the illegally occupied lands.

Comment: It is hard to imagine something more despicable than planning the ethnic cleansing and genocide of 1.4 million people so you can keep their land. But that's exactly how Israel was created.

We recommend Ilan Pappe's excellent book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.


From music to a movement: How punk got caught up in politically ideological hijinks

When the punk rock thought police ruled the scene

punk rock
© Kenneth Salerno
In September 1984, the widely read punk zine Maximum Rocknroll published its review of Victim in Pain, the debut album by a New York City band called Agnostic Front.

"I'm approaching this band with caution," it warned. "Unfortunately, much of the narrow-mindedness, fanatical nationalism, and violence that has destroyed the New York punk scene seems to have revolved around Agnostic Front."

The author of that review was the publication's founder and editor, Tim Yohannan, a 40-something ex-Yippie who thought punk music should march in lockstep with left-wing politics. As Ray Farrell, a punk veteran who once worked at the independent record label SST (run by Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn), told Steven Blush, author of American Hardcore: A Tribal History, "there was an ideological development at Maximum RockNRoll, making everything move towards a Socialist bent."

Comment: Also see:

Bad Guys

Liberal Israelis were already planning Palestinian genocide in 1967

Levi Eshkol

Levi Eshkol, prime minister of Israel in the 1960s.
"Perhaps if we don't give them enough water they won't have a choice, because the orchards will yellow and wither."
That is what Israeli Prime Minster Levi Eshkol said in 1967 about Gaza, as revealed in newly declassified documents from the time. Ofer Aderet of Haaretz reported about this today.

As I have already written, Eshkol, the leftist 'liberal Zionist,' was very willing to send Palestinians to the moon: