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Sat, 03 Dec 2016
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Secret History


2 Stolen Van Gogh paintings recovered from drug dealer's home

© Mario Laporta / AFP
A sting operation targeting organized crime in Naples, Italy, has recovered two Vincent van Gogh paintings that were stolen in 2002 in one of the most infamous heists the art world has seen in recent years.

Fourteen years ago in a move akin to something out of a Hollywood blockbuster, thieves entered the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam from the roof, avoiding security and cameras.


A solar blast from the past: The Geomagnetic Blitz of September 1941

© Mason City Public Library
A photograph of the aurora over Mason City, Iowa, 18 September 1941.
Seventy-five years ago, on 18 - 19 September 1941, the Earth experienced a great magnetic storm, one of the most intense ever recorded. It arrived at a poignant moment in history, when radio and electrical technology was emerging as a central part of daily life and when much of the world was embroiled in World War II, which the United States had not yet officially entered.

The illuminated night sky exposed an Allied convoy to German attack. Auroras danced across the night sky as voltage surged in power grid lines. A radio blackout interrupted fan enjoyment of a baseball game, while another radio program was interrupted by private phone conversations. Citizens, already on edge, wondered if neon lights were some sort of antiaircraft signal. And far away in the North Atlantic, the illuminated night sky exposed an Allied convoy to German attack.

These effects raised awareness within the scientific community and among the public of the societal significance of the effects that the Sun and outer space can have on the Earth—what we now call space weather.


Petra's long forgotten miraculous gardens rediscovered after 2,000 years

© Leigh-Ann Bedal
The monumental 2,000-year-old pool in Petra, a waste of water that was a sign of sheer power in the desert.
Recent excavations at Petra have revealed a startlingly advanced irrigation system and water storage system that enabled the desert city's people to survive - and to maintain a magnificent garden featuring fountains, ponds and a huge swimming pool. The engineering feats and other luxuries attest to the ancient Nabatean capital's former splendor and wealth some 2,000 years ago.

Petra is perhaps best known for its sandstone canyon that leads directly to Al Khazneh, The Treasury, seen in the climax to "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" where the hero archaeologists, played by Harrison Ford and Sean Connery, ride out of the canyon and into the Treasury in their quest for the Holy Grail.

However, 2,000 years ago, Petra was renowned for completely different reasons. It was one of the most famous water stops in the Middle East, where camel caravan routes linked distant cities. Now archaeologists are discovering the Nabataean capital, situated in the southwestern deserts of Jordan, once was adorned with an exquisite, artificially irrigated garden. It featured paths likely shaded by vines, trees and date palms, and grasses, which were cultivated next to a huge, 44-meter wide swimming pool.

The Nabataeans' ability to tame nature, and conspicuous consumption of a precious resource, water, was pure propaganda. It was a means to display wealth and power, which they could do thanks to the ingenious hydraulic system they invented, which allowed the people not only to reserve enough water for their own needs, but to water the lavish garden with fountains and an open-air pool. It had previously been unthinkable that water, a scarce resource in the desert wastes, would have been used for anything but necessity.

Comment: The sophisticated water technologies of the ancient Nabataeans

Bad Guys

America's long history of support for Ukrainian fascists

© Unknown
George H. W. Bush shaking hands with Yaroslav Stetsko, who was the leader of the terrorist "Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists" from 1968 to 1986. The US ruling class embraced fascists of all stripes since even before the guns in WW2 fell silent, since Washington was already pivoting to fight "the Communist menace." The 'Cold War' was soon initiated by the Washington-London axis.
No sooner had U.S. and Soviet troops shook hands and embraced at Torgau on the River Elbe at the close of World War II in Germany, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), was already lining up the support of Ukrainian allies of Nazi Germany to target the Soviet government in Kiev. The details of the establishment by the OSS of an anti-Soviet infrastructure that included Ukrainian Insurgent Army (OUN) followers of Adolf Hitler ally Stepan Bandera are contained in a formerly «SECRET CONTROL» document from October 1946. The document was prepared by U.S. Army Intelligence (G2) on behalf of the OSS. The following year, the OSS officially was transformed into the CIA.

Comment: Director of the OSS, then CIA, Allen Dulles, operating from his lair in Bern, Switzerland, actively recruited fascists during WW2: Allen Dulles and the Ukrainian fascists: Did the CIA/MI6 use of Nazis in Ukraine during the Cold War ever stop?

The report, titled «The Ukrainian Nationalist Movement: An Interim Study», was prepared by William Holzmann and Zolt Aradi. Little is known about the two authors except for the fact that Zolt Aradi also spelled his name «Zsolt» and was born in Hungary and was a Hungarian historian. The authors cited the Ukrainian nationalist movement as a potentially advantageous ally of U.S. anti-Soviet activities: «Whether these groups operate in the homeland or in exile in Europe and the Western hemisphere; whether they are of socialist, democratic, monarchist or fascist persuasion; whether they agree on methods, policies and tactics, or whether they are engaged in internecine, factional struggles, they all stand for an independent Ukrainian state... They are unified only through their concept of Ukrainian independence and in the face of their common enemies».


5,000-year-old rock art in Scotland remains a mystery

© University of Glasgow
The Cochno Stone, which dates back to around 3000 B.C., contains a type of artwork called "cup and ring marks."
Archaeologists in Glasgow, Scotland, briefly excavated and then reburied a 5,000-year-old slab of stone that contains incised swirling geometric decorations.

The Cochno Stone, which measures 43 feet by 26 feet (13 by 8 meters), contains swirling decorations, also called "cup and ring marks." The stone and its decorations have been known to people in the area since at least the 19th century. Decorations similar to these swirls have been found at other prehistoric sites around the world; however, the examples incised in the Cochno Stone are considered to comprise "one of the best examples" of such art in Europe, according to a statement by the University of Glasgow, which led the new study.

The stone slab was fully unearthed in West Dunbartonshire by Rev. James Harvey in 1887. By 1965, the stone had been vandalized with graffiti and damaged by the elements, so a team of archaeologists buried it beneath the dirt in order to protect the artwork . This summer's two-week re-excavation allowed archaeologists to use modern-day surveying and photography techniques to better record the artwork.

For instance, digital-scanning and mapping experts from the Factum Foundation used cutting-edge 3D-imaging technology to make a detailed digital record of the site, according to the university statement.


Declassified files reveal British double agent spying on Nazis was training to be used against Soviet Union

© mi5.gov.uk / Wikipedia
Joan Pujol Garcia
British spymasters planned to redeploy their top anti-Nazi double agent, known by the codename Garbo, against the Soviet Union after the war, newly released files show.

Documents released to the National Archives indicate Agent Garbo, real name Juan Pujol Garcia, was being primed to take on the Communists even before Hitler was defeated.

The son of a Catalan industrialist, Pujol is still held by the British security services to be "the greatest double agent of the Second World War."

After tricking the Germans into thinking he wanted to spy for them, he relocated to the UK and there worked with MI5 to create a fictional network of agents and feed false intelligence back to the Nazis.

He was central to convincing the Nazis the D-Day landings would happen at Calais rather than Normandy.


Clouds of secrecy: Over and over again, the military has conducted dangerous biowarfare experiments on Americans, without their knowledge

© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
San Francisco
On September 20, 1950, a US Navy ship just off the coast of San Francisco used a giant hose to spray a cloud of microbes into the air and into the city's famous fog. The military was testing how a biological weapon attack would affect the 800,000 residents of the city.

The people of San Francisco had no idea.

The Navy continued the tests for seven days, potentially causing at least one death. It was one of the first large-scale biological weapon trials that would be conducted under a "germ warfare testing program" that went on for 20 years, from 1949 to 1969. The goal "was to deter [the use of biological weapons] against the United States and its allies and to retaliate if deterrence failed," the government explained later. "Fundamental to the development of a deterrent strategy was the need for a thorough study and analysis of our vulnerability to overt and covert attack."

Of the 239 known tests in that program, San Francisco was notable for two reasons, according to Dr. Leonard Cole, who documented the episode in his book Clouds of Secrecy: The Army's Germ Warfare Tests Over Populated Areas.


Mythical Saraswati river did exist claim Indian scientists

© Hindustan Times
Scientists at the Dehradun-Based Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology (WIHG) have debunked established belief that river Saraswati is just a 5,000-year-old myth.

They claimed to have found after extensive research that the river did exist during ancient times, but got buried because of tectonic changes in the Himalayas.

The mythical Saraswati forms the Hindu holy triumvirate along with the Ganga and Yamuna, and the hypothetical confluence of these three rivers in Allahabad is the source of humanity's biggest gathering every 12 years during the Kumbh Mela.

Scientists said the Saraswati flowed from its origin at Adi Badri in the Shivalik range of Haryana's Yamunanagar to its meeting point with Chautang river in the plains.

This is the course the river followed when it flowed in the Vedic era.

They confirmed that tectonic activities along the Shivalik Himalayas separated the river course from Adi Badri and it was never recharged because of a series of climatic disasters.

The river died eventually. But rainwater collected at scattered hollow locations above the buried river gives proof of Saraswati's existence and the course it took.

Physical and chemical analysis of nearly 22 samples from a 60-km buried water stream confirmed that of it was indeed the ancient Saraswati, now entombed by five feet of top soil, the scientists said.


A chance for Arab Unity thrown away: The USSR and the Arab

© Aljazeera
T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) famously assisted The Arab Revolt against their Ottoman Turk overlords on the basis that Britain would aid the Arabs to create a unified Arab state upon victory.
The notion of a unified Arab state has been one of the defining political questions of the 20th century. It first arose during the First World War when T. E. Lawrence ('Lawrence of Arabia)' famous assisted The Arab Revolt against their Ottoman Turk overlords on the basis that Britain would aid the Arabs to create a unified Arab state upon victory.

This promise was broken before it had the opportunity to be kept, as the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 between France and Britain split the Arab lands into incongruous new states whose borders continue to cause problems to this day.

Shortly after the October Revolution, Russia's new Bolshevik government became the first country to expose this secret deal to the world. This would not be the first time that the Soviets would expose Western betrayals in the Middle East.

Comment: See also:


Ancient Roman coins excavated from castle ruins in Okinawa

© Kyodo
A coin used in ancient Rome that was recently excavated from the ruins of a castle in Okinawa is shown to the media at the Uruma Municipal Government office.
Coins issued in ancient Rome have been excavated from the ruins of a castle in a city in Okinawa Prefecture, the local education board said Monday, the first time such artifacts have been recovered from ruins in Japan.

The education board of the city of Uruma said the four copper coins believed to date back to the Roman Empire in the third to fourth centuries were discovered in the ruins of Katsuren Castle, which existed from the 12th century to the 15th.

Okinawa's trade with China and the Southeast Asian region was thriving at the time and the finding is "precious historical material suggesting a link between Okinawa and the Western world," the board said.

Each coin measures 1.6 to 2 centimeters in diameter. The designs and patterns on both sides are unclear due to abrasion.

Based on X-ray analysis, however, the education board said the coins appear to bear an image of Constantine I and a soldier holding a spear.

Other relics unearthed from the same site include a coin of the 17th century Ottoman Empire, and five round metallic products that appear to be coins.

The ruins of Katsuren Castle were registered in 2000 on the World Heritage list as part of the "Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu," a group of ancient monuments and castle ruins in the island prefecture.

The coins will be displayed at Uruma City Yonagusuku Historical Museum in central Okinawa until Nov. 25.