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Mon, 19 Nov 2018
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Former Prime Minister of Israel Menachem Begin: The Nobel Laureate and the father of modern terrorism

Menachem Begin:
Menachem Begin: The Nobel Laureate who bragged about being the Father of Terrorism in the World

It seems that terrorism and political violence have become more prevalent and intense. Not a single day goes by without at least one story about grotesque violence mostly perpetrated against innocent civilians. Somehow, terrorism became a normal part of our everyday life, but this was not always the case.

More worryingly, the absence of debate about the root causes of terrorism have given way to casual media reporting which most likely encourages further terrorism by feeding it the oxygen of publicity.
"How does it feel, in the light of all that's going on, to be the father of terrorism in the Middle East?" "In the Middle East?" he [Begin] bellowed, in his thick, cartoon accent. "In all the world!" - Russell Warren Howe interview with Menachem Begin, January 1974

Most of us today, associate terrorism with Muslim fanatics that have ever morphing acronyms such as ISIS, ISIL, Al-Qaeda and so forth. A few decades ago, it was either Palestinian individuals or Iranian fanatics and before that very few people remember the IRA, Red Brigade or the many other European groups who too were described in the very same media as evil Terrorist, and only a tiny minority even have an inkling of other cases of terrorism, let alone the definition, history or roots of this scourge of society.

Comment: Actually, we can't give Begin and Israel all the credit:


Lasers reveal 60,000 ancient Mayan structures hidden in Guatemalan forest

maya guatemala
© PACUNAM/Estrada-Belli
Laser technology helped detect more than 60,000 previously unknown structures in northern Guatemala.
Laser technology helped detect more than 60,000 previously unknown structures in northern Guatemala.

The largest-ever survey of a region from the Maya civilization has located over 60,000 previously unknown structures in northern Guatemala. The survey, conducted with the help of lasers, challenges long-held assumptions that this area was poorly connected and sparsely populated.

The structures researchers identified include farms, houses and defensive fortifications, as well as 60 miles of causeways, roads and canals connecting large cities across the civilization's central lowlands. Sarah Parcak, an archaeologist who uses satellite technology, had this reaction on Twitter when preliminary images became public: "This is HOLY [expletive] territory." (Parcak was not involved with this study).

The ancient Maya civilization stretched from southern Mexico down to Guatemala and Belize, flourishing between 1000 B.C. and 1500 A.D. The recent study focused on 830 square miles of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Petén, Guatemala. Scientists used a laser technology called lidar, or light detection and ranging, to penetrate the thick tree canopies in the area and discover archaeological remains beneath them.

Comment: Recent findings point to the Mayan civilization being much more extensive than previously thought: New finds reveal Mayan elite lived in Teotihuacan, "City of the Gods" - 1000km from center of civilization

See also:


A CIA lucky break? How the death of the 'Smiling Pope' in 1978 helped Washington win the Cold War

Pope John Paul I
The sudden death of Pope John Paul I, exactly 40 years ago today, stunned the world. The 'Smiling Pope' had only served for 33 days. His demise and replacement by John Paul II marked an important turning point in the old Cold War.

The year 1978, as I argued in a previous op-ed, was the year today's world was made.

There was nothing inevitable about the ascendancy of Reagan and Thatcher, the rise of groups like Al-Qaeda and IS, and the downfall of the Soviet Union. The neoliberal, neoconservative world order and its associated violence came about because of key events and decisions which took place 40 years ago. The Vatican was at the heart of these events.


The metric system: Child of the French Revolution

France metric system
© PjrTravel/Alamy
One of the last remaining 'mètre étalons', or standard metre bars, can be found below a ground-floor window on the Ministry of Justice in Paris
It is one of the most important developments in human history, affecting everything from engineering to international trade to political systems.

On the facade of the Ministry of Justice in Paris, just below a ground-floor window, is a marble shelf engraved with a horizontal line and the word 'MÈTRE'. It is hardly noticeable in the grand Place Vendôme: in fact, out of all the tourists in the square, I was the only person to stop and consider it. But this shelf is one of the last remaining 'mètre étalons' (standard metre bars) that were placed all over the city more than 200 years ago in an attempt to introduce a new, universal system of measurement. And it is just one of many sites in Paris that point to the long and fascinating history of the metric system.

"Measurement is one of the most banal and ordinary things, but it's actually the things we take for granted that are the most interesting and have such contentious histories," said Dr Ken Alder, history professor at Northwestern University and author of The Measure of All Things, a book about the creation of the metre.


Love birds? Mysterious Egyptian 'love spell' deciphered after 1,300 years

egypt love spell
© Twitter: LiveScience
An ancient Egyptian papyrus, depicting bird-like creatures connected via what appears to be a phallus, has been deciphered after 1,300 years, revealing what researchers say is likely an incantation or magic 'love' spell.

"The most striking feature of [the papyrus] is its image,"said Dr Korshi Dosoo, of Julius Maximilians Universitaet of Wuerzburg in Germany, who has published the papyrus in the Journal of Coptic Studies.

The scroll, which dates back to the Christian period of Egypt's history, depicts an image of two winged-creatures, one with its beak in the others' mouth, bound by what could be a chain, bond or possibly a penis, and with feathers or scales on the front of their bodies.

"From an observer point of view, we could say that the image might have enhanced the performative aspect of the spell - the client might find the weird drawings an impressive addition to the overall atmosphere and impression created by the ritual," Dosoo adds.

Comment: See also:


New finds reveal Mayan elite lived in Teotihuacan, "City of the Gods" - 1000km from center of civilization

Mayan mask Teotihuacán
© Mauricio Marat, INAH
A team of archaeologists has uncovered evidence indicating that Mayan elites lived in the pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacán, located northeast of Mexico City more than 1,000 kilometers from the center of their civilization.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) said in a statement that the remains of a Mayan-style mural and offering as well as fragments of Mayan ceramics and bones of thousands of sacrificed people were found in the Plaza of the Columns, which is positioned between the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon.

The discoveries confirm the existence of a relationship between the Mayan and Teotihuacán civilizations, which were geographically separated by 1,300 kilometers, INAH said.

The project to explore the site began four years ago under the supervision of Saburo Sugiyama, Verónica Ortega Cabrera, Nawa Sugiyama and William Fash.

Comment: See also:


London's storied 'Lucky Stone' - referenced by Shakespeare, Blake and others, set to return to rightful place

London stone lucky
© Wikimedia Commons
London Stone sat largely unnoticed behind this iron grill for roughly 50 years
There are a host of theories surrounding the origins of the London Stone-an unassuming, nearly two-foot wide chunk of limestone that's been linked for centuries with the changing fortunes of England's capital city. Is it a remnant of a Roman monument? An ancient altar employed in Druidic human sacrifice? Or could it even be the stone that yielded King Arthur's legendary Excalibur?

Despite all of the enigma surrounding it, the London Stone has lived a relatively quiet life in recent years; as the Guardian's Charlotte Higgins reports, it has been nestled behind a protective iron grill on a Cannon Street building (which was, in various incarnations, a Bank of China office, a sporting goods store and, most recently, the stationery chain WHSmith) since 1962. In 2016, ongoing construction forced authorities to temporarily move the stone to the Museum of London, but as Mark Brown reports for a separate Guardian story, the historic block of limestone is now set to return to 111 Cannon Street on October 4.


Roman-era painted tomb unearthed in Jordan

Ancient Painting
© Julien ALIQUOT/HiSoMA 2018 Share
The clearing of the site of Capitolias, with the assistance of Dionysos and other gods.
In northern Jordan, a Roman-era painted tomb has been unearthed by the Department of Antiquities. An extraordinary document of religious, political, and social history that three historians and epigraphists have had an opportunity to examine, and are striving to interpret.

The archaeologists cannot bless roadwork enough. Especially in Jordan. It's just that certain thrusts of the mechanical shovel, such as the one in late 2016 at the school entrance in the village of Bayt Ras, in the north of the country, have a knack for unearthing secrets from the depths of the past. In the present case, it is a Roman tomb that was dug into the side of a hill, and whose existence was just revealed by the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, after securing access to the site.

"This tomb, which consists of two funerary chambers and contains a very large basalt sarcophagus, is in an excellent state of conservation, even though it appears to have already been 'visited.' It is part of a necropolis located to the east of an imposing theater that was recently unearthed," says with enthusiasm Julien Aliquot, one of the three researchers from the research unit Histoire et sources des mondes antiques (HiSoMA),1 which had investigated this hypogeum in the spring of 2017 and 2018, as part of two on-site surveys. "The tomb is located on the site of the ancient city of Capitolias, which was founded in the late first century CE, and was part of the Decapolis, a region that brought together Hellenized cities (provided with Greek-style institutions but belonging to the Roman Empire) in the southeastern area of the Near East, between Damascus and Amman."


New book gathers high-level testimony that CIA/NSA actively prevented sharing of intel that would stop 9/11

watchdogs didn't bark
The book The Watchdogs Didn't Bark by John Duffy and Ray Nowosielski, with new insider interviews and documentary evidence, convincingly establishes that named people at the CIA and NSA actively prevented the FBI from learning information that could have disrupted the 9/11 plot. Principals at these agencies manipulated government investigations to cover up responsibility, and to exploit the public's fear after 9/11 in order to justify the so-called 'war on terror', the Iraq invasion, torture, the NSA's massive warrantless domestic spying programs, indefinite detention and extrajudicial killing even of Americans. The authors don't claim to have proved that US government officials deliberately allowed or facilitated the 9/11 plot, but that's what the actions and inactions of key people accomplished, and the Establishment has rewarded their incompetence or criminality. The authors quote Stafford Beer: "The purpose of a system is what it does." While 'serendipity' for the Military-Industrial Complex may be in the range of theoretical possibility, official responsibility for 9/11 and its evil consequences remains an urgent issue for the People of the US and the world, along with establishing effective public oversight of government and elite power.

This case has been made effectively by others*, but the Duffy-Nowosielski Watchdogs book is significant, as it's the kind of book that 'serious people' take seriously. So seriously, that when the authors posted their Richard Clarke video "Interview #7" in 2011, DCI George Tenet, CTC Director Cofer Black and CIA Alec Station (Bin Laden Unit) Chief Rich Blee released a joint public statement denying Clarke's shocking allegations - that they had been running an illegal domestic CIA spy operation with Saudi help. So seriously, in fact, that the CIA threatened the authors with criminal prosecution if they revealed some of the names in this book (7-9, 239-245). Other journalists have declined to name these public officials, while reporting on their criminal involvement.


Dalai Lama's recent remarks on migrants follow a CIA, Nazi and slavery-linked history

© unknown
Tibetans celebrating Serfs Emancipation Day.
This past week the 14th Dalai Lama, Tibet's 83-year old self-declared spiritual leader in exile, made controversial remarks at a press conference in Malmö recognizing the 80th anniversary of the founding of Individual Humanitarian Aid, a Swedish development and philanthropic assistance program that took in Buddhist refugees after the Chinese annexed Tibet in 1959. His comments came as he addressed the European migrant crisis and his choice of words immediately sparked criticism because they seemed to express an attitude typically shared by the European Union's far right. With the exception of his detractors, the views he expressed to most were unexpected coming from a monk known for preaching enlightenment and inner peace around the globe. "His Holiness", AKA Tenzin Gyatso, stated:
"Recently large numbers of refugees, many from the Middle East, have fled to Europe in fear for their lives. They have been given shelter and support, but the long-term solution should include providing training and education, particularly for their children, so they can return to rebuild their own countries when peace has been restored.I think Europe belongs to the Europeans. ... Receive them, help them, educate them ... but ultimately they should develop their own country."