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Judi Lynn

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Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 143,092

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'Brazil is at war': election plays out amid homicidal violence

Latin America’s largest democracy suffered a record 63,880 homicides last year and the phenomenon is driving some to support the hardline policies of candidate Jair Bolsonaro

by Tom Phillips in Feira de Santana

Thu 4 Oct 2018 01.00 EDT

Francine Farias had just completed a census of her tumbledown favela on the outskirts of one of the world’s most violent cities when she heard a volley of gunfire and her count was rendered suddenly out of date.

One unpaved street away, her nextdoor neighbour, 17-year-old Ruan Patrick Ramos Cruz, lay dead in the dirt after being repeatedly shot in the head and chest by unknown assassins.

“First I heard four [shots], then two more,” recalled Farias, a community leader in Loteamento Alameda das Árvores, a rundown 288-home settlement on the southern fringes of Feira de Santana.

. . .

Many are horrified at the rise of a pro-torture populist notorious for his vicious and incendiary remarks about women, black people, indigenous communities, human rights and Brazil’s LGBT community.


The Universe's Strongest Material is a Cosmic Lasagna

A new study suggests that the “nuclear pasta” found in neutron stars is 10 billion times stronger than steel

By Jason Daley
September 20, 2018

Humans have looked for harder, stronger substances for millennia, replacing rock with iron, steel, composites and now graphene. But it may be awhile before we figure out how to use what a new study suggests is the strongest material in the universe, known as “nuclear pasta” and it’s found in the crusts of neutron stars, reports Brandon Specktor at LiveScience.

Just like campfires and goldfish, stars eventually die. If they are about the size of our sun or smaller they eventually burn up their fuel, swell into a red giant, then cool off into a relatively boring white dwarf. If they are larger than the sun, however, they go out in style. As they die, their immense gravity collapses them, setting off a giant supernova explosion. Depending on its size, the remaining core either collapses in on itself creating a black hole or forms a super-dense neutron star.

According to Bob Yirka at Phys.org, physicists have theorized that the material that makes up neutron stars is incredibly dense. While the diameter of these stars is about 12 miles across, they have a mass 1.4 times that of the sun. A single teaspoon would weigh a billion tons. It’s also believed that the material would be incredibly strong, perhaps the strongest in the universe. Researchers have also theorized that the outer crust of the neutron star would crystallize, surrounding a liquid core.

The densely packed protons and neutrons in that crust would take on novel shapes; researchers have proposed many such shapes may resemble members of the pasta family including gnocchi, lasagna and spaghetti. The question is, which is stronger, the material that makes up the outer crust or the “nuclear pasta” just below it?

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/universes-strongest-material-cosmic-lasagna-180970358/#fHl2iOwoj4q7Z7Yx.99

An Unknown Ancient Civilization in India Carved This Rock Art

Hikers are cataloging the petroglyphs in the western part of Maharashtra state

Ratnagiri rock art
One of the human figures depicted in the newly documented petroglyphs (Ratnagiri tourism)

By Marissa Fessenden
October 2, 2018

A passion for hiking first brought two engineers into the hills and plateaus of India’s picturesque Konkan coast. But now they return for clues to the identify of a lost civilization.

As BBC Marathi’s Mayureesh Konnur reports, the duo, Sudhir Risbood and Manoj Marathe, have helped catalog hundreds of rock carvings etched into the stone of hilltops in the western part of India’s Maharashtra state. The depictions include a crocodile, elephant, birds, fishes and human figures. They may date back to 10,000 B.C., and they come from the hands of people who belonged to an as-yet-unknown civilization. Some of the petroglyphs were hidden beneath soil and mud deposited during the intervening millennia. Others were well-known by locals and considered holy.

Risbood and Marathe have been hiking for years, leading a small group of enthusiastic explorers to interview locals and rediscover this lost art. “We walked thousands of kilometers,” Risbood tells BBC Marathi. “People started sending photographs to us and we even enlisted schools in our efforts to find them. We made students ask their grandparents and other village elders if they knew about any other engravings.”

The region had three documented petroglyph sites before the hikers started their search, reported Mayuri Phadnis for the Pune Mirror in 2015. The duo initially identified 10 new sites home to 86 petroglyphs. “Judging by the crudity, they seem to have been made in the Neolithic era,” Sachin Joshi, a researcher with Pune’s Deccan College of Archeology said. Just a few months later, in a follow up story for the Pune Mirror, Phadnis reported that thanks to support from the district administration, the hiking group identified 17 more sites, and its petroglyph count had reached above 200.

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/unknown-ancient-civilization-india-carved-strange-hilltop-rock-art-180970441/#IKSx0L25HM2jBIyQ.99

"They're killing us:" Colombia's social leaders take their case to Washington

by Adriaan Alsema October 3, 2018

Social leaders traveled from Colombia to Washington DC this week to meet with the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) and US officials to seek protection after the assassination of more than 340 since 2016.

Around the time President Ivan Duque met his American counterpart Donald Trump in New York, social leader Hector Marino Carabali from Cauca arrived at the iACHR offices to talk about the mass killing of land claimants, human rights defenders and other activists.

While all the camera crews were in New York, Carabali met with State Department officials, US senators and human rights organizations to draw attention to the plight of Colombia’s social leaders.

“The world must know that they are killing us and the government does nothing,” Carabali told newspaper El Espectador.


One Colombian woman may have shifted the trajectory of the US Supreme Court

by Megan Janetsky October 1, 2018

As sexual assault accusations swirling around a United States Supreme Court nominee turn Washington DC into a deafening roar, one voice may have risen above the noise: Colombian activist Ana Maria Archila.

A Senate committee was ready to pass through the nomination of judge Brett Kavanaugh, who testified Thursday about an alleged sexual assault, when Archila confronted one of the committee’s senators on Capitol elevator.

“What you are doing is allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit in the Supreme Court,” she yelled at Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. “This is not tolerable. You have children in your family. Think about them. I have two children. I can’t imagine that for the next 50 years they will have to have someone in the Supreme Court who has been accused of violating a young girl. What are you doing, sir?”

Flake, a Republican who acts as a Congressional “swing vote,” is one of the most powerful voices in the Senate right now. Earlier in the day, Flake announced he was voting for the appointment of Kavanaugh. But as Archila and other sexual assault victims told their stories to him, Flake shrunk into the corner of the elevator. Archila is a Colombian activist for the organization Center for Popular Democracy and has lived in the US since 1997.


Hooray for Ana Maria Archila!

Nearly the entire sky in the early universe is glowing with Lyman-alpha emission

MUSE spectrograph reveals uncovered vast cosmic reservoirs of atomic hydrogen
October 1, 2018

A universe aglow.
Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, ESO/ Lutz Wisotzki et al.

An unexpected abundance of Lyman-alpha emission in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) region was discovered by an international team of astronomers using the MUSE instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT. The discovered emission covers nearly the entire field of view -- leading the team to extrapolate that almost all of the sky is invisibly glowing with Lyman-alpha emission from the early Universe [1].

Astronomers have long been accustomed to the sky looking wildly different at different wavelengths, but the extent of the observed Lyman-alpha emission was still surprising. "Realising that the whole sky glows in optical when observing the Lyman-alpha emission from distant clouds of hydrogen was a literally eye-opening surprise," explained Kasper Borello Schmidt, a member of the team of astronomers behind this result.

"This is a great discovery!" added team member Themiya Nanayakkara. "Next time you look at the moonless night sky and see the stars, imagine the unseen glow of hydrogen: the first building block of the universe, illuminating the whole night sky."

The HUDF region the team observed is an otherwise unremarkable area in the constellation of Fornax (the Furnace), which was famously mapped by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope in 2004, when Hubble spent more than 270 hours of precious observing time looking deeper than ever before into this region of space.


Guatemala ex-soldier goes on trial for Civil War abuses

Source: Associated Press

Sonia Perez D., Associated Press
Updated 5:28 pm CDT, Monday, October 1, 2018

Photo: Luis Soto, AP
FILE - In this Aug. 10, 2016 file photo, Santos Lopez Alonzo is escorted by Interpol agents after landing at the Air Force base in Guatemala City. Lopez Alonzo is charged with crimes against humanity for his role in the 1982 massacre of more than 200 people in the Guatemalan village Dos Erres during the height of the country's civil war. His trial started Monday, Oct. 1, 2018.

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Guatemalan ex-soldier deported from the United States two years ago went on trial Monday for the massacre of at least 200 villagers during the Central American nation's civil war.

Santos Lopez Alonzo, who appeared in court shackled and behind bars, is accused of belonging to an elite squad known as the "kaibiles," which carried out the 1982 killings in the northern town of Dos Erres. He is charged with murder and crimes against humanity.

Prosecutors contend the squad came looking for weapons that guerrillas had stolen from the army. Finding none, they say, the troops separated the men and women, torturing and killing the men and raping women and girls. The bodies were tossed into a well.

. . .

According to a U.N. truth commission, about 200,000 people were killed and another 45,000 disappeared during Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war, with nearly all of those coming at the hands of the army and allied paramilitaries.

Read more: https://www.chron.com/news/crime/article/Guatemala-ex-soldier-goes-on-trial-for-Civil-War-13272857.php

Dos Erres massacre

. . .

The events of December 1982
In October 1982, guerrillas ambushed an army convoy near Palestina, in the vicinity of Dos Erres. They killed 21 soldiers and took 19 rifles. On 4 December, a contingent of 58 Kaibiles (the elite special forces commandos of the Guatemalan Army) was flown into the area. The following day, they received orders to disguise themselves as guerrillas, deploy to Dos Erres and kill the inhabitants, who were considered guerrilla sympathizers. Dressed as guerrillas, the Kaibiles arrived in the hamlet at 02:30 hrs on 6 December. They forced the inhabitants out of their homes, corralling the men in the schoolhouse and the women and children in the hamlet's two churches. A subsequent search uncovered no sign of weapons or guerrilla propaganda. At 06:00, officers consulted superiors by radio, then informed the commandos they would be "vaccinating" the inhabitants after breakfast.[1]

In the early afternoon, the Kaibiles separated out the children, and began killing them. They raped women and girls, and ripped the fetuses out of pregnant women. They bashed the smallest children's heads against walls and trees, and killed the older ones with hammer blows to the head. A baby was the first to be killed, by dumping the baby live into a deep 4 meter well, along with the rest of the bodies then after. Then the commandos interrogated the men and women one by one, raped some of the women again, then shot or bashed them with the hammer, and dumped them in the well. The massacre continued throughout 7 December. On the morning of 8 December, as the Kaibiles were preparing to leave, another 15 persons, among them children, arrived in the hamlet. With the well already full, they took the newcomers to a location half an hour away, then shot all but two of them. They kept two teenage girls for the next few days, raping them repeatedly and finally strangling them. Only one person survived this massacre, a small child who managed to escape. [1]


The Deadliest Massacre in Reconstruction-Era Louisiana Happened 150 Years Ago

In September 1868, Southern white Democrats hunted down around 200 African-Americans in an effort to suppress voter turnout

Klan newspaper cartoon
A cartoon from a U.S. newspaper from 1880 reads: ’Terrorism in the South. Citizens beaten and shot at.” (Granger)
By Lorraine Boissoneault

SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 7:00AM
“E.B. Beware! K.K.K.”

So read the note found on the schoolhouse door by its intended recipient: Emerson Bentley, a white school teacher. He found the message in early September 1868, illustrated with a coffin, a skull and bones, and a dagger dripping with blood. The straightforward message represented a menacing threat to Bentley, who was teaching African-American children in Louisiana at the time. Little could the Ohio-born Republican have predicted just how soon that violence would come about.

Bentley, an 18-year-old who also worked as one of the editors of the Republican paper The St. Landry Progress, was one of the few white Republicans in the Louisiana parish of St. Landry. He and others came to the region to assist recently emancipated African-Americans find jobs, access education and become politically active. With Louisiana passing a new state constitution in April 1868 that included male enfranchisement and access to state schools regardless of color, Bentley had reason to feel optimistic about the state’s future.

But southern, white Democrats were nowhere near willing to concede the power they’d held for decades before the Civil War. And in St. Landry, one of the largest and most populous parishes in the state, thousands of white men were eager to take up arms to defend their political power.

The summer of 1868 was a tumultuous one. With the help of tens of thousands of black citizens who finally had the right to vote, Republicans handily won local and state elections that spring. Henry Clay Warmoth, a Republican, won the race for state governor, but the votes African-Americans cast for those elections cost them. Over the summer, armed white men harassed black families, shot at them outside of Opelousas (the largest city in St. Landry Parish), and killed men, women and children with impunity. Editors of Democratic newspapers repeatedly warned of dire consequences if the Republican party continued winning victories at the polls.

Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/story-deadliest-massacre-reconstruction-era-louisiana-180970420/#XRc0KihAYtgiPHzV.99

Don't forget, Southern Democrats became Republicans during the 1960's because they refused to accept Civil Rights legislation which was achieved  by  mentally stable Democrats.

The Great Aztec Temple

The Great Aztec Temple
Archaeologists analyze ruins in the heart of Mexico City.
By Bridget Alex

Temple 7.0
The temple began as a modest structure in the 1300s, but as the Mexica, the ethnic group that came to rule the Aztec Empire, amassed wealth and territory, they enlarged the monument. By the time Spaniards arrived in 1519, Templo Mayor had undergone six major renovations, becoming a 10-story pyramid, with earlier structures nestled inside. This latest and greatest phase is the most poorly preserved: Only fragments of the floor remain because the Spanish razed the temple for materials to build their colonial city.
DEA PICTURE LIBRARY/De Agostini/Getty Images

In 1978, utilities workers digging in Mexico City unearthed a colossal stone relief, depicting an unmistakable figure: the Aztec goddess Coyolxauhqui, naked, dismembered and decapitated, after being slain by her brother, Huitzilopochtli, the god of sun and war. Archaeologists realized the carving must be part of Templo Mayor, the Great Temple of the Aztec Empire, known to lie somewhere below the city center based on colonial-era accounts and previous limited digging projects.

The setting had deterred earlier archaeological investigation because the Aztec ruins were buried under functioning buildings, some erected in Spanish colonial times, themselves protected as historic landmarks. However, the Coyolxauhqui relief sparked such national excitement that archaeologists were permitted to embark on long-term excavations, first led by Eduardo Matos Moctezuma of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History.

The government initially allowed the team to demolish 13 buildings of limited historical value. Since then, excavations have continued in fits and starts, in collaboration with construction and maintenance projects. Today, remains of the main temple are exposed for visitors, right in the city center — a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

“It’s a beautiful, lively Mexican scene where you’ve got modern Mexico City, colonial Mexico City and also pre-Columbian Mexico,” says Davíd Carrasco, a scholar of Mesoamerican religions at Harvard University. The site is so rich that research could “go on for another 100 years,” says Carrasco, who studies the temple. Some recent spectacular finds follow.


Suicide, Sacrifice, And Mutilations In Precolumbian Cemetery Questioned By Archaeologists

Sep 24, 2018, 10:39am
Suicide, Sacrifice, And Mutilations In Precolumbian Cemetery Questioned By Archaeologists

Kristina Killgrove
Senior Contributor

Archaeologist, Writer, Scientist

Just outside of Panama City, a precolumbian cemetery excavated in the 1950s was originally interpreted as containing extensive evidence of suicide, sacrifice, and mutilated bodies. A new analysis by archaeologists who specialize in human remains, however, questions the presence of anything irregular about the burials.

The archaeological site of Playa Venado (also called Venado Beach) was identified in 1948 when the U.S. Navy began digging in the target practice area of now-decommissioned Fort Kobbe, adjacent to Howard Air Force Base in the Panama Canal Zone. Because of its location, the site was quickly ransacked for antiquities belonging to the long-lived prehistoric Coclé culture that included fine goldwork, carved bone and ivory, semi-precious gemstone jewelry, and intricately decorated pottery.

In 1951, archaeologist Samuel Lothrop of Harvard University's Peabody Museum directed an excavation at Playa Venado and recovered 202 skeletons and grave artifacts. An additional 167 skeletons were later unearthed by avocational archaeologists. Lothrop published his thoughts on the cemetery, which dates to 550-850 AD, in a 1954 American Antiquity article he titled "Suicide, sacrifice, and mutilations in burials at Venado Beach, Panama." Unfortunately, in this time period, bioarchaeology was not yet an established discipline and Lothrop's conclusions about the culture, drawn largely from the writings of 16th century Spanish historian Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo, did more harm than good, being widely and incorrectly cited as evidence of violence, cannibalism, and trophy head-taking in precolumbian Panama.

A newly published report in the journal Latin American Antiquity by Nicole Smith-Guzmán and Richard Cooke of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, however, calls into question Lothrop's sensationalistic interpretation of the Playa Venado skeletons through a reanalysis of archival documents, photographs, ethnohistoric accounts, and a subset of 77 skeletons that Lothrop sent back to the U.S., now stored at Harvard University.

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