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Mon, 20 Mar 2023
The World for People who Think

Secret History


50 years after leaving Vietnam, the US keeps getting involved in wars without understanding them

kissinger vietnam leader
US National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger (R) shakes hand with Le Duc Tho, leader of North Vietnamese delegation, after the signing of a ceasefire agreement in Vietnam war, 23 January in Paris
In January 1973, the US signed an agreement that saw it pull out of Vietnam, abandoning its South Vietnamese partners. In August 2021, history repeated itself in Afghanistan.

Vietnam being one of the theaters of the Cold War, the US decided to intervene to face the progression of communists in the country. According to the domino theory, Vietnam needed to stay within the Western sphere of influence. For the sake of democracy all over the world, obviously.

The year 1965 was the beginning of a massive US involvement. Until then, Washington had limited itself to sending supplies and about 900 military observers and trainers. But after the controversial Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, the American engagement became way more serious. At its peak in 1969, the US intervention included more than 540,000 troops on the ground. However, the large scale 1965-68 Operation Rolling Thunder, during which the US dropped 864,000 tons of bombs on North Vietnam, ended up a failure. The surprise Tet Offensive launched by the North Vietnamese was also a failure, but it seriously damaged South Vietnam's infrastructure and the US' reputation as a trustworthy ally.

By the end of the '60s, the US population had grown tired of the conflict, and more and more protests against the war were organized throughout the country. President Richard Nixon had campaigned in 1968 on the promise to end the war in Vietnam with peace and honor - the idea was to gain time and arm the South Vietnamese in order for them to defend their positions on their own. However, Nixon had failed to deliver this peace and, in 1972, was facing re-election. As the Americans had already proved during WWII when they constantly postponed the opening of a second front in Europe, a 'democratic war' is always closely linked to elections and internal political fights.


Cryptic lost Canaanite language decoded on 'Rosetta Stone'-like tablets

Two ancient clay tablets from Iraq contain details of a "lost" Canaanite language.

Ancient Clay Tablets
© Courtesy David I. Owen
The tablets were found in Iraq about 30 years ago. Scholars started studying them in 2016 and discovered they contain details in Akkadian of the "lost" Amorite language.
Two ancient clay tablets discovered in Iraq and covered from top to bottom in cuneiform writing contain details of a "lost" Canaanite language that has remarkable similarities with ancient Hebrew.

The tablets, thought to be nearly 4,000 years old, record phrases in the almost unknown language of the Amorite people, who were originally from Canaan — the area that's roughly now Syria, Israel and Jordan — but who later founded a kingdom in Mesopotamia. These phrases are placed alongside translations in the Akkadian language, which can be read by modern scholars.

In effect, the tablets are similar to the famous Rosetta Stone, which had an inscription in one known language (ancient Greek) in parallel with two unknown written ancient Egyptian scripts (hieroglyphics and demotic.) In this case, the known Akkadian phrases are helping researchers read written Amorite.

"Our knowledge of Amorite was so pitiful that some experts doubted whether there was such a language at all," researchers Manfred Krebernik and Andrew R. George told Live Science in an email. But "the tablets settle that question by showing the language to be coherently and predictably articulated, and fully distinct from Akkadian."

Krebernik, a professor and chair of ancient Near Eastern studies at the University of Jena in Germany, and George, an emeritus professor of Babylonian literature at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, published their research describing the tablets in the latest issue of the French journal Revue d'assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale (Journal of Assyriology and Oriental Archaeology).

Gold Coins

Ancient savings: Why hoards are vital to our understanding of history

roman coins hoard britain largest hoard
© Lincolnshire County Council
July, 2017: The Rauceby hoard of early 4th Century Roman coins is believed to be the largest of its type ever discovered in Britain.
QUESTION: Why do you buy hoards? It is interesting. Just curious.

ANSWER: The coinage is the ONLY way to truly confirm the history. Much of the most important periods like the 3rd century AD, the fall of the Republic, or the Revolution during the Debt Crisis of the 1st century BC known as the Social War, can only be properly understood through the coinage, lacking really detailed accounts of financially what was taking place. By recreating the monetary system using coinage, I was able to answer the question - How did Rome Fall? Gradually? Or Catastrophically? By assembling all the coinage, and testing it out, I could establish what nobody else could due using documents or archaeological digs. Rome collapsed in just 8.6 years.
collapse roman silver money
© Martin Armstrong
When I assembled the coinage worldwide, what was then observed in testing and using the same methods around the world was the very same timing patterns. The collapse of the English coinage that inspired Gresham's Law, bad money drives out good, also took just 8 years.


Eugenics, then and now

© Unknown
The catastrophic Covid response has many people wondering whether we should really turn over public policy — which deals with fundamental matters of human freedom — much less public health, to a state-appointed scientific establishment. Must moral imperatives give way to the judgment of technical experts in the natural sciences? Should we trust their authority? Their power?

There is a real history here to consult.

There's no better case study than the use of eugenics: the science, so called, of breeding a better race of human beings. It was popular in the Progressive Era and following, and it heavily informed US government policy. Back then, the scientific consensus was all in for public policy founded on high claims of perfect knowledge based on expert research. There was a cultural atmosphere of panic ("race suicide!") and a clamor for the experts to put together a plan to deal with it.

The American Society of Human Genetics recently issued a report apologizing for its past role in eugenics. The statement is fine as far as it goes and provides a brief overview of eugenic history. However, the report, if anything, is too narrow and too weak.

Eugenics was not merely bigotry with a gloss of science. Over time it became the driving force behind segregation, sterilization, labor-market exclusion of the "unfit," the careful management of immigration, marriage and procreation licenses, demographics, and far more. The underlying presumption always concerned the biological health of the whole population, which these elites imagined to be their exclusive purview. Based on that core idea, eugenic ideology came to be deeply embedded in ruling-class circles in academia, courts, elite media, and finance. Indeed, it was so orthodox that it was hardly disputed in polite company. Eugenic dreams filled the pages of newspapers, journals, and magazines - nearly all of them.

Comment: See also:


Bronze shield discovered in Turkey reveals the name of an unknown country

Bronze shield of King Argişti
© Courtesy of Kadir Has University Rezan Has Museum
Bronze shield of King Argişti.
The inscription on a bronze shield purchased by the Rezan Has Museum revealed the name of an unknown country.

It is thought that the bronze shield belonging to the Urartian King Argişti was found within the borders of Ağrı-Patnos or Muş in eastern Turkey.

At the panel "Evaluations on the Urartian Collection of Rezan Has Museum," organized by Kadir Has University, Van Yüzüncü Yıl University Faculty Member Associate Professor Orhan Varol said they had identified the name of a previously unknown country on the bronze shield belonging to Argişti, one of the Urartian kings.

Associate Professor Orhan Varol said that on the bronze shield belonging to Argişti, one of the Urartian kings and currently in Rezan Has Museum, the existence of a new country called Qarini, written with the KUR ideogram, which is the country sign, was detected.

Orhan Varol, who stated that most of the Urartian inscriptions consisted of the military campaigns and victories of the kings inscribed on stone blocks such as andesite, basalt, and limestone, or on rocky areas, said, "We also get information about war and victory in Urartian war tools. It is understood that besides the use of Urartian shields on the battlefield, they could also function as a badge of victory for the kings. It is sometimes indicated on the shield that the conquered country or weapon of war was dedicated to the chief god. In the hands of the king or a great warrior, the shield, which plays an important role in winning the war, gains a symbolic meaning and value by being processed in cuneiform," said.

Bad Guys

How I tried to prevent the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, and why I failed - Scott Ritter

Scott Ritter
FILE PHOTO: Scott Ritter (3rd L), the head of a UN arms inspection team and a former major in the US Marine Corps, walks with members of his team and Iraqi soldiers 13 January outside the UN headquarters in Baghdad.
In fulfillment of his solemn, constitutionally-enshrined obligation, the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, on January 28, 2003, stood before the rostrum in the chambers of the United States Congress and addressed the American people.

"Mr. Speaker," the President began, "Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished citizens and fellow citizens, every year, by law and by custom, we meet here to consider the state of the union. This year," he intoned gravely, "we gather in this chamber deeply aware of decisive days that lie ahead." The "decisive days" Bush spoke of dealt with the decision he had already made to invade Iraq, in violation of international law, for the purpose of removing the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, from power.


Code in 14th Century medieval almanac finally deciphered, reveals lunar calendar use & unusual zodiac

medieval almanac

For centuries a medieval almanac has baffled historians with its confusing array of liturgical and astronomical calendars
For centuries a medieval almanac has baffled historians with its confusing array of liturgical and astronomical calendars, depictions of monthly activities and figures of the zodiac.

It also details a strange-looking code, with Os, Cs and dots.

But three centuries later, a team of archivists have finally understood this 14th-century manuscript's history.

The manuscript, designated MS/45, was donated by Robert Moray FRS to the Royal Society in 1668. He dubbed the artefact a 'curious Almanack'.

Comment: It is curious that the zodiac above associates signs with different months than we do today.

See also:


Is the reason some wealthy people oppose democracy deeper than we think?

Wealth Magnet
© Udo J. Keppler/Library of Congress
The Magnet, from Puck, 1911
Why are America's plutocrats funding efforts to weaken our democracy and replace it with plutocracy and oligarchy? Is it just about money? Or is there something much deeper that most Americans rarely even consider?

An extraordinary investigative report from documented.net tells how morbidly rich families, their companies, and their personal foundations are funding efforts to limit or restrict democracy across the United States.

In an article co-published with The Guardian, they noted:
"The advocacy arm of the Heritage Foundation, the powerful conservative think tank based in Washington, spent more than $5m on lobbying in 2021 as it worked to block federal voting rights legislation and advance an ambitious plan to spread its far-right agenda calling for aggressive voter suppression measures in battleground states."
Their efforts have had substantial success, as you can read in Documented's article.

This effort, of course, is not unique to the one think tank they called out. From Donald Trump all the way down to the lowest Republican county official, efforts to make it harder for what John Adams called "the rabble" to vote and otherwise participate in democracy are in full swing across America.

But why? Why are some wealthy people so opposed to expanding democracy in America?


Never forget the Soviet heroes who liberated Auschwitz

© Sputnik
Jewish prisoners in transit camp
The SS guards abandoned the guard posts surrounding Auschwitz during the night of 20-21 January 1945.

At its height, in the summer of 1944, the Auschwitz complex, which comprised three basic camps — the main camp, Birkenau and Monowitz — and another 40 sub-camps, housed over 105,000 registered prisoners, mostly Jews, and around 30,000 unregistered Jewish inmates of so-called transit camps.

By January 20, 1945, there were approximately 9,000 prisoners remaining. In the days that followed the evacuation, SS guards would patrol the camps, shooting 400 prisoners to death, and burning another 300 alive in their barracks. On January 25, the SS gathered approximately 150 prisoners from Birkenau and marched them out of the camp. The next day the SS blew up some warehouses and abandoned the facility altogether.

Most of the surviving prisoners were starving, sick, and on the verge of death. The camp medical staff, assisted by the healthier prisoners, did their best to care for the bedridden patients. The camp was besieged by a howling winter storm, with temperatures well below zero and snow drifting around the camp. The survivors were afraid to move around too much — regular German troops, falling back in the face of an advancing Soviet Army, made their way through the camp, pillaging as they went, and everyone feared the return of the SS.


Archaeologist hails possibly 'oldest' mummy yet found in Egypt

Saqqara necropolis oldest mummy
© Reuters
People work at the site after the announcement of the discovery of 4,300-year-old sealed tombs in Egypt's Saqqara necropolis, in Giza, Egypt, January 26, 2023
Egyptologists have uncovered a Pharaonic tomb near the capital Cairo containing what may be the oldest and "most complete" mummy yet to be discovered in the country, the excavation team leader said on Thursday.

The 4,300-year-old mummy was found at the bottom of a 15-metre shaft in a recently uncovered group of fifth and sixth-dynasty tombs near the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, Zahi Hawass, director of the team, told reporters.

An Egyptian archaeologist restores antiquities after the announcement of new discoveries in Gisr el-Mudir in Saqqara, in Giza, Egypt, January 26, 2023. — Reuters

The mummy, of a man named Hekashepes, was in a limestone sarcophagus that had been sealed in mortar.