Jun 2, 2021


Canada mourns as remains of 215 children found at indigenous school

A mass grave containing the remains of 215 children has been found in Canada at a former residential school set up to assimilate indigenous people.

The children were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia that closed in 1978.

The discovery was announced on Thursday by the chief of the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was a "painful reminder" of a "shameful chapter of our country's history".

The First Nation is working with museum specialists and the coroner's office to establish the causes and timings of the deaths, which are not currently known.

. . .

Canada's residential schools were compulsory boarding schools run by the government and religious authorities during the 19th and 20th Centuries with the aim of forcibly assimilating indigenous youth.

America's Satanic Panic Returns — This Time Through QAnon

The first time sociologist Mary de Young heard about QAnon, she thought: "Here we go again."

De Young spent her career studying moral panics — specifically, what became known as the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980s, when false accusations of the abuse of children in satanic rituals spread across the United States.

Decades later, echoes of that same fear had emerged in QAnon. The seemingly novel conspiracy theory has grown in far-right political circles since November 2017. Adherents of QAnon believe that a shadowy cabal kidnaps children, tortures them and uses their blood in satanic rituals. The alleged perpetrators in the QAnon conspiracy theory are Democratic politicians — not preschool teachers, as had been the case in the 1980s — but the accusations are eerily similar.

"Every moral panic has to have a folk devil," says de Young, the author of The Day Care Ritual Abuse Moral Panic. "It has to have a person — or more likely a group of people, whether real individuals or fantasized individuals — who are the devils in the middle of all of this."

QAnon infects churches

QAnon conspiracy theories have burrowed so deeply into American churches that pastors are expressing alarm — and a new poll shows the bogus teachings have become as widespread as some denominations.

Why it matters: The problem with misinformation and disinformation is that people — lots of people — believe it. And they don't believe reality coming from the media and even their ministers.

Russell Moore, one of America's most respected evangelical Christian thinkers, told me he's "talking literally every day to pastors, of virtually every denomination, who are exhausted by these theories blowing through their churches or communities."

  • "Several pastors told me that they once had to talk to parents dismayed about the un-Christian beliefs of their grown children," Moore added. But now, the tables have turned.

An Evangelical Battle of the Generations: To Embrace Trump or Not?

For years, there was an adage around Liberty University that if God split Jerry Falwell in half, you would have his sons Jerry and Jonathan.

Jerry Jr. inherited his father’s desire to be a force in American politics, and his post as Liberty University president, while Jonathan inherited his father’s gift for evangelical uplift and became pastor of his church.

. . .

“Liberty University is a reflection of evangelicalism at large. Good, and bad, and everything,” said Karen Swallow Prior, a professor at Liberty for 21 years before leaving in 2020. “There’s a battle going on between the pro-Trump, pro-conspiracy theory, anti-vaccine crowd and Christians who might or might not have some overlap with those things, but who care most about the ministry.”

Since Jerry Jr. was pushed out of Liberty’s leadership last August, after claiming he was being blackmailed by a former pool attendant who had an affair with his wife, the university’s seven-member trustee executive committee has been struggling to determine how to take the university forward, according to interviews with more than 15 current and former Liberty students, faculty members, administrators and trustees. A Liberty spokesperson did not respond to questions from POLITICO for this story.

Wormhole Tunnels in Spacetime May Be Possible, New Research Suggests

In the early days of research on black holes, before they even had that name, physicists did not yet know if these bizarre objects existed in the real world. They might have been a quirk of the complicated math used in the then still young general theory of relativity, which describes gravity. Over the years, though, evidence has accumulated that black holes are very real and even exist right here in our galaxy.

Today another strange prediction from general relativity—wormholes, those fantastical sounding tunnels to the other side of the universe—hang in the same sort of balance. Are they real? And if they are out there in our cosmos, could humans hope to use them for getting around? After their prediction in 1935, research seemed to point toward no—wormholes appeared unlikely to be an element of reality. But new work offers hints of how they could arise, and the process may be easier than physicists have long thought.

The original idea of a wormhole came from physicists Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen. They studied the strange equations that we now know describe that unescapable pocket of space we call a black hole and asked what they really represented. Einstein and Rosen discovered that, theoretically at least, a black hole’s surface might work as a bridge that connected to a second patch of space. The journey might be as if you went down the drain of your bathtub, and instead of getting stuck in the pipes, you came out into another tub just like the first.

Ministry of Defence could relaunch team of UFO hunters after US release Pentagon report

A team of UFO hunters could be relaunched by the Government to monitor the skies over Britain in the wake of a report by the US into extra-terrestrial life, a source has said.

The now-defunct Ministry of Defence division, which was axed in 2009 after nearly 60 years of official research and investigations, could once again relaunch depending on the findings of a looming Pentagon report into UFOs.

The report from the Director of National Intelligence will be sent to the US Congress next month, with an unclassified version being made available to the public.

Pentagon officials have made clear that their real interest is in whether UFOs, or unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), could represent actual threats here on earth.

The release of the report could now pave the way for the Ministry of Defence's UFO desk to be revived.

Research sheds light on origins, age of massive impact crater

Hidden beneath a kilometer of ice in northwestern Greenland, an impact crater that could swallow a city the size of London, Ont. is the subject of much debate about its origins and age.

Now, Western planetary scientist Elizabeth Silber has published new research suggesting the crater could be young—as craters go—having formed during the Pleistocene geological epoch, between 11,700 and 2.6 million years ago.

The impact of the asteroid thought to have created the Hiawatha crater would have produced so much heat that the ice sheet would have released a massive volume of meltwater "in pretty much an instant," Silber said. She estimates it would have produced enough water to fill Lake Tahoe, which straddles California and Nevada.

. . .

"Because it is very well preserved, it points to a possibly very young age, as young as the onset of the Younger Dryas period (between 11,500 and 14,500 years ago)," said Silber. "Or alternatively, if old, it tells us about the erosional processes that might have taken place in that area."

26 MAY 2021
Enigmatic Designs Found in India May Be The Largest Images Ever Made by Human Hands

Hidden in the vast, arid expanses of India's Thar Desert lie mysterious old drawings carved into the land.

These newly discovered designs are of such immense scale, they were likely never able to be glimpsed in their entirety by those who made them, researchers say.

The huge motifs are examples of geoglyphs – giant hand-made depictions and patterns built upon or carved into the land, often occupying such scope that the true appearance of their forms can only be appreciated from far above.

Amongst all known geoglyphs of historical relevance – including the famous Nazca Lines of Peru – the Thar Desert formations appear to stand alone, however, representing what may actually be the largest-ever graphical depictions designed by humans.

"So far, these geoglyphs, the largest discovered worldwide and for the first time in the Indian subcontinent, are also unique as regards their enigmatic signs," researchers explain in a new paper detailing the find.

Archaeologists uncover oldest human burial in Africa

Archaeologists have identified the oldest known human burial in Africa during field work that uncovered the remains of a child laid carefully to rest in a grave nearly 80,000 years ago.

The arrangement of the bones shows the three-year-old – named Mtoto after the Swahili word for child – was placed with legs tucked to chest, and perhaps wrapped in a shroud with their head on a pillow, before being gently covered in soil.

Researchers discovered the delicate and degraded bones while excavating the floor beneath a sheltered overhang at the mouth of the Panga ya Saidi cave in the tropical uplands of Kenya’s coastal plain about 10 miles from the shore.

“This is quite spectacular,” said Michael Petraglia, a professor of human evolution and prehistory at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. “It is the oldest human burial in Africa. It tells us something about our cognition, our sociality and our behaviours and they are all very familiar to us today.”

'Magic' jar holding dismembered chicken used as a curse in ancient Athens

A 2,300-year-old ceramic jar filled with the bones of a dismembered chicken was likely part of an ancient curse to paralyze and kill 55 people in ancient Athens, archaeologists say. The finding reveals new evidence for how people tried to use "magic" in the city.

They discovered the jar, along with a coin, beneath the floor of the Agora's Classical Commercial Building, which was used by ancient craftspeople. "The pot contained the dismembered head and lower limbs of a young chicken," Jessica Lamont, a classics professor at Yale University, wrote in an article published in the journal Hesperia.

At the time, around 300 B.C., the people who made the curse also gouged a large iron nail through the vessel.

"All exterior surfaces of the [jar] were originally covered with text; it once carried over 55 inscribed names, dozens of which now survive only as scattered, floating letters or faint stylus strokes" Lamont wrote, noting that the Greek writing contains words that may mean "we bind." The nail and chicken parts likely played a role in the curse. Nails are commonly found with ancient curses and "had an inhibiting force and symbolically immobilized or restrained the faculties of [the curse's] victims," Lamont wrote.

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