Oct 24, 2021


In tree rings and radioactive carbon, signs of the Vikings in North America

Vikings from Greenland — the first Europeans to arrive in the Americas — lived in a village in Canada’s Newfoundland exactly 1,000 years ago, according to research published Wednesday.

Scientists have known for many years that Vikings — a name given to the Norse by the English they raided — built a village at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland around the turn of the millennium. But a study published in Nature is the first to pinpoint the date of the Norse occupation.

The explorers — up to 100 people, both women and men — felled trees to build the village and to repair their ships, and the new study fixes a date they were there by showing they cut down at least three trees in the year 1021 — at least 470 years before Christopher Columbus reached the Bahamas in 1492.

“This is the first time the date has been scientifically established,” said archaeologist Margot Kuitems, a researcher at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and the study’s lead author.

Have Sumatran fishing crews found the fabled Island of Gold?

It was a fabled kingdom known in ancient times as the Island of Gold, a civilisation with untold wealth that explorers tried in vain to find long after its unexplained disappearance from history around the 14th century. The site of Srivijaya may finally have been found – by local fishing crews carrying out night-time dives on the Musi River near Palembang on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Their extraordinary catches are treasures ranging from a lifesize eighth-century Buddhist statue studded with precious gems – worth millions of pounds – to jewels worthy of kings.

Dr Sean Kingsley, a British maritime archaeologist, said: “In the last five years, extraordinary stuff has been coming up. Coins of all periods, gold and Buddhist statues, gems, all the kinds of things that you might read about in Sinbad the Sailor and think it was made up. It’s actually real.”

He described the trove as definitive evidence that Srivijaya was a “waterworld”, its people living on the river like modern boat people, just as ancient texts record: “When the civilisation ended, their wooden houses, palaces and temples all sank along with all their goods.”

Stunning carvings of human figures and heads are uncovered at Karahantepe - one of the important settlements of the Neolithic period - revealing the artistic skills of people who lived in Turkey 11,000 years ago

The discovery at Karahantepe, in Turkey's southeastern province of Şanlıurfa, reveals the artistic skills of people who lived there 11,000 years ago.

So far more than 250 T-shaped megaliths featuring animal depictions have been found, along with a number of three-dimensional human sculptures.

Digging at the site first began in 2019 and has also led to the discovery of a building with a diameter of 75ft (23 metres), a large part of which is carved into the bedrock and reaches a depth of 18ft (5.5 metres).

This suggests it was built with the help of many people, archaeologists said.

Head of excavations at Karahantepe, Professor Necmi Karul, told state-run Anadolu Agency that the artefacts found were similar to those discovered at the ancient Gobekli Tepe site, which was built by a prehistoric people 6,000 years before Stonehenge.

Wild New Paper Claims Earth May Be Surrounded by a Giant Magnetic Tunnel

Mysterious structures in the sky that have puzzled astronomers for decades might finally have an explanation – and it's quite something.

The North Polar Spur and the Fan Region, on opposite sides of the sky, may be connected by a vast system of magnetized filaments. These form a structure resembling a tunnel that circles the Solar System, and many nearby stars besides.

"If we were to look up in the sky," said astronomer Jennifer West of the University of Toronto in Canada, "we would see this tunnel-like structure in just about every direction we looked – that is, if we had eyes that could see radio light."

. . .

More work is needed to first confirm the findings, and then model the structure in greater detail. But doing so may help to solve an even bigger mystery: the formation and evolution of magnetic fields in galaxies, and how these fields are maintained. It could also, the researchers said, provide context for understanding other magnetic filamentary structures found around the galaxy.

A European-Japanese spacecraft snapped the clearest photo of Mercury in 6 years as it flew past the planet

Mercury is finally back in the spotlight, with a space probe zooming past its cratered surface for the first time in six years.

As it flew past Mercury on Friday, the BepiColombo spacecraft snapped the above photo from 1,500 miles (2,418 kilometers) away, about 10 minutes after skimming past the planet. The image shows ancient lava fields in Mercury's northern hemisphere.

This is BepiColombo's first good look at its target planet since it launched in 2018. The spacecraft is a joint mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It's on track to fall into orbit around Mercury in 2025, when it will map the planet's surface, analyze its composition, and sense its magnetic field. Scientists hope all this data will reveal the history of the closest planet to the sun.

But first, BepiColombo has to swing past Earth, Venus, and Mercury, leveraging the planets' gravity to pull itself toward its ultimate orbital path. The spacecraft has already flown past Earth and Venus. Friday marked the first of six Mercury flybys.

U.S. Wildlife Service Declares 23 Animal Species Extinct

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has declared 23 species extinct, including America's largest woodpecker and 11 species that hailed from Hawaii and Guam.

The best-known of the species to have been declared extinct is the Ivory-billed woodpecker. It was America's largest woodpecker and had been listed as endangered since 1967, although the last official sighting was in 1944. The Bachman's warbler is also on the list and has been considered endangered since 1967. It was last seen in the U.S. in 1962 and the last sighting ever was in Cuba in 1981. Both species are believed to have gone extinct from loss of forest habitat and collection.

The list also includes eight species of freshwater mussels, all from the Southeast. Freshwater mussels are some of the country's most imperiled species — and half of the world's species live in the waters of Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Georgia.

. . .

The Service announced this week that it is proposing to officially remove these 23 species from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Wildlife officials warn that in addition to factors like habitat loss and invasive species, climate change could continue to exacerbate loss of endangered species across the country.

Google's former executive sends doomsday warning as researchers are 'creating God'

Mo Gawdat, who joined the tech giant in 2007, has shed new light on Google's mysterious research branch in a candid new interview. According to the Silicon Valley guru, researchers could be on track to develop the sort of artificial intelligence that has terrified filmgoers since 1991's Terminator 2. During his stint at Google, Mr Gawdat served as the Chief Business Officer for Google's secretive research and development facility known then as Google X.

. . .

Last year he claimed it would take AI less than five years to overtake humanity.

He said: "My assessment about why AI is overlooked by very smart people is that very smart people do not think a computer can ever be as smart as they are. And this is hubris and obviously false.

"We’re headed toward a situation where AI is vastly smarter than humans and I think that time frame is less than five years from now."

He has also expressed his fears about the line between AI and human consciousness becoming increasingly blurred before the end of the century.

Amazon’s ‘Total Surveillance’ Supermarkets Have Arrived – and Could Have Dangerous Consequences

“Four years ago, we started to wonder: what would shopping look like if you could walk into a store, grab what you want and just go?” asks the voiceover in a glossy promotional video for Amazon Go, Amazon’s chain of convenience stores that launched in the US in 2017. The venture – which has since been rebranded as Amazon Fresh – launched in the UK earlier this year, with the most recent opening in Hackney, London just this month.

With Amazon Fresh stores at the cutting edge of surveillance shopping, the tech giant has worked hard to avoid any fanfare about the opening of its new UK stores, likely due to the anticipated controversy around the use of such technology. Campaigners, however, are keen to raise the alarm about the stores’ potential implications – for privacy, workers’ rights, food sovereignty and the wellbeing of local communities.

. . .

According to an investigation by betterRetailing, Amazon’s “stealth tactics” include hiring commercial landlords to apply for planning permission and licenses on its behalf in order to keep its name out of public records.

betterRetailing also revealed that the Metropolitan Police, Islington council and local councillors had all complained about Amazon’s secretive approach for its Islington store, ultimately forcing the company to disclose that it was behind the planning application for the site – a fact that it had previously taken steps to obscure.

MAGA Gun Church That Worships With AR-15s Has Bought a Giant Mountain Property in Tennessee

The MAGA-loving religious sect that worships with AR-15s has purchased a 130-acre property on a mountain in eastern Tennessee to serve as a “training center” and holy ground for its devoted, gun-toting followers, VICE News has learned.

The latest property acquisition is more evidence that Pastor Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon, a fervent conspiracy theorist and son of an accused cult leader, is determined to expand his reach into the American Heartland.

Moon’s congregation, Rod of Iron Ministries, also known as The World Peace and Unification Sanctuary, is a gun-centric spinoff of the much larger Unification Church, founded by his late father, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a self-proclaimed messiah and businessman whose followers were famously known as “Moonies.” The younger Moon, who also goes by “The Second King,” split from the main church amid a dramatic falling-out with his mother about who, between the two of them, was the rightful heir to his father’s empire.

In 2017, Moon founded his church in Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, siphoning off hundreds of followers from the main congregation who were willing to make the seemingly radical leap of incorporating high-powered rifles into their spiritual life. He did this with the backing of his older brother, Kook-jin “Justin” Moon, the CEO of Kahr Arms, a gun manufacturing company headquartered nearby. In recent years, he’s made headlines for recreating the mass wedding ceremonies that his father’s church was famous for, with the addition of AR-15s.

NXIVM doctor who branded women loses medical license

Many of the counts stem from Roberts using a cauterizing device to brand “KAR” on the women in their pelvic region without anesthesia “to intentionally cause them pain,” according to the decision released this week.

The brands were meant to symbolize the women’s status as sex slaves for the now imprisoned self-help guru.

Roberts deviated from the standard of care and “dangerously operated” the branding device on the women, according to the decision first reported by the Times-Union of Albany.

The committee said Roberts was evasive and defiant during her testimony. Roberts “denies being brainwashed, yet she expressed no real remorse, which represented to the hearing committee her distorted reality and the very real concern that others remain vulnerable to her future brandings,” according to the decision.

Nuns Raped Girls With Crucifixes as Female Pedophilia Was Covered Up by the Church

The abuse lasted the whole year. At the age of 35, “Marie” told her mother again about the abuse. “My mother blissfully told me that it was impossible for a nun to whom she entrusted her daughter to abuse a girl,” she says. “Female pedophilia exists and unfortunately the media never talk about it.”

“Marie” was certainly not alone. Dozens of other victims of priests, nuns, and Catholic school personnel in France form the basis of a 2,500-page report released Tuesday by a special commission led by Jean-Marc Sauvé. While 80 percent of the victims were young boys between the ages of 10 and 13, many young girls were abused as well, and not only by priests. Nuns used crucifixes to rape little girls or forced boys to have sex with them, too.

The commission spent nearly three years combing through complaints and press reports and interviewing victims going back to the 1950s. Of the 3,000 abusers identified by the commission, two-thirds are priests. They found that priests and nuns alone abused around 216,000 children, but that the number climbs to 330,000 when they counted abuse at the hands of non-clergy who worked in Catholic schools and other institutions. The report only covers minors; the authors, who include scholars, psychologists, and law enforcement officials, say there could be many young men and women over the age of 18 who were also victims.

Their summary is damning, determining that the Catholic Church in France showed “a deep, cruel indifference toward victims.”

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