Some like to argue about alleged haplogroup age estimates based on various versions of the molecular clock hypothesis. I just shrug at that. I find geographic and (pre-)historical patterns to be much more substantive. In what regards to me, they should use them to modify their estimates appropiately and maybe that way they would reach to some reasonable MC estimation system.
It's just common sense. For example, Dienekes was recently arguing that haplogroup E-V13 (E1b1a2 by the 2008 nomenclature) had to be of the Bronze Age (he has his own even shorter version of MCH) but I protested that the distribution pattern is only consistent with Neolithic spread (and by no means with Greek historical coastal colonization). A map is worth a thousand words:
The above map's pink shades show the density of E-V13 (the increase towards Finland is just an effect of lack of data for that region though). On it I have added blue lines representing the extent of Balcanic-derived Neolithic waves in Europe. BN stands for Balcanic Neolithic (including Sesklo-derived, Eastern Lineal Pottery and Grey-Black Pottery cultures), and the thick oval in it is the Thessalian region of origin (notice that Sesklo-Dimini, at the origin of most European Neolithic, is as high in E-V13 as Albania, if not even more). DN stands for Danubian Neolithic (aka Western Lineal Pottery) and MN for Mediterranean Neolithic (aka Cardium Pottery), both more or less clearly related to Sesklo and the Balcanic Neolithic.
For me the pattern is very clear: it is a Neolithic clade. And there is no way it can have another explanation.
Another clade often subject to discussion among the MCH fans is the most common Western European haplogroup: R1b1b2 (formerly R1b1c). Some argue it should be Neolithic or even more recent. But its distribution pattern is by no means coincident with Neolithic expansion.
Again a map is worth a thousand words. Even better: two maps:
The above maps show (roughly) the density of R1b1b2 (red-pink shades). Map A shows the origin (purple oval and star) and expansion (blue lines) of Magdalenian culture, as well as of epi-Magdalenian derivates (green). I understand that the Magdalenian-origin interpretation is the only possible one, the patterns being almost exact.
Map B illustrates the only possible Neolithic (or rather Chalcolithic) explanation for R1b1b2 spread: Western Megalithism. The purple oval and star indicate the origin, the blue lines max. expansion and the green lines those areas lost to Indoeuropean expansion c. 2400 BCE. Nevertheless, I understand that Megalithism was not related to any major demic expansion but it was mostly a cultural phenomenon spreading into native groups. We cannot exclude some localized colonizations and it is even possible that some haplotypes might have spread with this cultural/religious phenomenon - but that would be all.
The only intriguing issue is the relatively high R1b1b2 in Italy, that was not part of Magdalenian culture but was of Western Gravettian, where the clade may have its ultimate source. It could be argued that higher density in the subalpine area means Indoeuropean infiltration in proto-historical times from the other side of the Alps. Alternatively it could mean that the origin of R1b1b2 is a Western Gravettian founder effect (with R1b1b1 being maybe part of Eastern Gravettian). Whatever the case, there is no logical way it could be of Neolithic or Chalcolithic origin.
And that's all for today.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Basque Nationalist Left bloc spokesman, Arnaldo Otegi, was set free yesterday after spending 15 months in prision on political charges. Upon his release he declared that:
Fifteen months ago I entered prision and then there was, like there has been for so many years, a political problem in this country. This problem remains being real, it is an unsolved problem that, in my opinion, can only be adressed through dialogue and negotiation. And through dialogue and negotiation this country needs to meet a scenary of peace and democracy that allows us to decide on our future and, simultaneously, achieve freedom for all Basque political prisioners. That will be my task.
Notice that the term political prisioners is used indistinctly by this movement to refer to all prisioners whose arrest is related to political activities of any sort, no matter if they have been charged with opinion crimes or with violent ones.
Meanwhile another person, Maider Caminos, was arrested in Astrain upon orders of special judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska, without clear charges of any sort. This judge of the special tribunal Audiencia Nacional was recently also involved in the arrest of two other people without defined charges, who have denounced brutal tortures while in police custody.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Radioacive iodine has leaked in substantial ammounts from a nuclear lab in Southern Belgium (Fleurus, near Charleroi), reports BBC. The authorities, who first played down the risks, now consider the danger "serious" and have asked people not to eat locally grown food.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Big picture: global warming
Annual context: relatively "cold" year, solar minimum (no sunspots in 2 years) , La Niña.
Arctic ice: NW Passage opened in 2007, ice decline initially less fast this year (like 2005, second fastest decline) but now much faster approaching the levels of 2007.
Source: Arctic ice is at tipping point (BBC).
Conclusion: even in expectedly "cold" years the Arctic ice is in danger, with all the implications it has as both example of what is going on in other areas and as global cooling element not anymore so active. I don not really want to think in what will happen as soon as La Niña is gone and the Sun recovers its freckles, causing the yearly climated to warm up even more.
Sincerely, I am not ready for a major climatic swift in few decades and I do not think anybody on Earth is. I am scared.
My apologies for writing this way. No coffee= lazy neurones.
Update: more of the same at Science Daily today (aug 29): Arctic Ice On The Verge Of Another All-time Low. In fact the NW Passage has been open for some time again this year already (second time in history):
The Amudsend route (dotted line) is open in 2008, as was in 2007.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
From the Center for Research on Globalization, a very interesting read: The Eurasian Corridor: Pipeline Geopolitics and the New Cold War, by Michel Chossudovsky.
It deals with which are the geopolitical stakes at the war of Osetia. Specially on what is the USA trying to secure in that area with the Silk Road Strategy. More than just the Caucasus what is being fought there (and in Afghanistan and probably in Iraq too) is Central Asia, maybe a secondary interest for the USA but a major one for Russia and China, its main rivals.
While Russian oil and gas is theirs, at least by the moment, that is not so clear with regards to Central Asian resources. Additionally all the area affected y the SRS (Urkaine, southern Caucasus and Central Asia) are weak spots for Russia, too tempting to let them fall to the traditional and now renewed geostrategical rival.
All this is splashed of pipelines, geostrategical energy routes built even in the narrow access of Israel to the Red Sea, and the diplomacy and military maneouvres associated with them remind too much to the pre-WWI Baghdad railroad maneouvres, as well as the old imperial tensions between Russia and the, now translated, British Empire in Central Asia too.
By the way, at the same site, you can also find a somewhat different opinion by Ellen Brown, who thinks that the war of Osetia has been engineered to create a smoke curtain to the deep economical crisis. In one thing at least she is right: Saakashvili would not have begun that war, that he could only expect to lose, unless he had orders from Washington D.C.
Monday, August 25, 2008
It seems that Ötzi has not beend the only archaeological finding of relevance these last years in the Alps. Much more stuff is appearing as the Alpine glaciers, specifically the Schnidejoch, melt down. The stuff recovered ranges from 4500 BCE to the Roman period, from shoes and bow quivers to imperial coins.
The very fact of these findings confirms that the Alpine glaciers have not been so low in the last 6500 years, supporting the painful conclussion that man-made global warming is way too real.
Shoe reconstructions, nearly identical to Basque abarkak.
Sourc: BBC: Alpine melt reveals ancient life.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
The Israeli Navy just allowed them in. Time to repeat the feat with more massive means, I guess.
For background info, read this other post.
Further info, with the comments of some of the activists at Al Jazeera.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Take a look at the original research by blogger Stryde Hax (found via The Register). There are still copies of official online info that He Kexin is 14 years old, not 16 as claimed in her passport.
The rules forbidding athletes under 16 are meant to prevent exploitation of children. If these issues persist, probably the best option would be to totally scrap off those fancy sports from the Olympics. Anyhow, who watches them?!
As you probably know, Gaza Strip, also known as the largest concentration camp on Earth, is subject to extreme and inhuman blocakde by Israel and Egypt.
Right now two ships of the NGO Free Gaza are sailing from Cyprus in an open attempt to breach this blockade peacefully. They carry 200 hearing aids for children and, well, 500 balloons. The expectation is that the Israeli navy will intercept them but lawyers are already preparing charges of kidnapping, would that be the case, I guess that on the grounds that those are not Israeli territorial waters. It could be piracy too, I figure.
In any case, it seems that the important thing here is to challenge the illegal and criminal blockade itself. Nonviolent struggle has a lot of power but requires perseverance, patience. And obviously Palestinians have no more patience left.
- Al Jazeera
Thursday, August 21, 2008
I guess I don't have many investors among my readers but... who knows? It seems that this material is going to become a central component of new technologies and therefore it will probably see its value increasing.
Two days ago I posted on how this metal was central to plant photosynthesis as well to a newly discovered similar but artificial way of generating energy from the Sun, now I read that manganese is also key to a new type of electronic alloy that displays intermediate characteristics between magnet and semiconductor. This silicon, iron and manganese alloy appears to be very promising for soon-to-come new types of electronic circuits.
Manganese also has an array of other "traditional" applications. It's mined primarily in Australia, Burkina Faso, R.D. Congo, Brazil and Gabon.
Just an idea anyhow. Something alternative to the crisis bubble dynamics of "invest in gold".
Yesterday I mentioned that Peruvian natives were protesting actively against a law that allows selling the forest land to multinationals, and that President García had declared the emergency rule in the affected provinces. Today I read that they have stopped the protests, not as result of military intervention but because the Congress has supressed those laws.
The laws were decreed by the President under temporary special powers but have been now revoked by a congressional comitee, much to the frustration of the pseudo-socialist (neo-con) Alan García.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
2006 SQ372 is a small, comet-like object that is right now closer to the Sun than Neptune. But that's just the closer to the Sun it ever comes. Its orbit is actually similar to that of Sedna, being at its most distant point in the Inner Oort Cloud. While this object is much smaller than Sedna it supports the idea that there are objects whose orbit's major axis reaches to that inner area of the Oort cloud. It also seems to suggest that there is still a lot to find out there, beyond the Kuiper Belt.
Source: Science Daily.
Peru is among the South American states that has worse reputation in regard to indigenous rights. Yesterday I read at BBC (not major headlines, you can guess) that the goverment has decided to declare the mergency rue in several Amazonian provinces in order to annihilate the protests of some 65 native ethnicities that have arisen against oil multinationals, blocking the abusive developements in the area that are killing the enviroment and the peoples who live in it.
This uprising has been triggered by the new land sale law promoted by US vassal Alan García after signing a free trade agreement with the empire of the North. Native Peruvians consider this law to be just a blank cheque for multinationals to exploit and destroy the jungle at the expense of the enviroment and their lives and, therefore, decided to blockade hydroelectric, oil and gas industries in the area.
The reaction of the government has been military rule in the affected provinces.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Science Daily reports that researchers from Monash University have managed to replicate the natural process of photosynthesis, using a catalist made of manganese (the same chemical used by plants), a small steady current and sunlight. While the process still needs to be improved in its efficiency, it is the first time ever that the biological process of photosynthesis is replicated artificially, holding huge promises of cheap renewable energy for the short term.
Persistent free radicals have been detected in the air in ammounts that are very dangerous. So far it was believed that free radicals in the air were soon transformed in other more stable and less harmful materials but a new study reveals that many of them actually persist for long, reaching our body systematically. The result is that everybody seems to be "smoking" all the time as we breath:
In the five minutes it takes a typical smoker to finish a cigarette, he or she will breathe in an equal number of PFRs from the air and the smoke itself.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is beginning the process of delimitation of indigenous lands in order to legalize native ownership of them. This process is unprecedented in Latin America, where the few shy steps given in this direction have never been implemented properly.
This is the final step in the process that began in 2001 with the approval of the Law of Demarcation and Guarantee of the Habitat and Lands of the Indigenous Peoples and Communities and followed up by the Law of Indigenous Peoples and Communities of 2005.
The comission in charge has already assigned 34 poperty titles to three different ethnicities: Pumé-Jivi, Kariña and Warao, benefitting 8,932 individuals and attributing 905,582.86 hectareas. The comission has recieved so far 67 requests of demarcation but only eight of them with all the bureaucratic requirements. They complain that a major problem that is delaying the process is the lack of qualified personnel in many provinces.
Source: Rebelión: Venezuela reconoce más de 900.000 hectáreas a los pueblos indígenas.
Just found a quite nice site in French on European Paleolithic, that may be of much help in revieweing European Prehistory, specially for the common reader without archaeological background. Authored by Thierry Koltes the site is Ma Préhistoire (my prehistory).
I'll borrow some maps from there for the purpose of this post. They may not be perfect but are good enough to illustrate European Upper Paleolithic:
Since c. 41,000 BP. This culture probably originated in West and/or Central Asia but finds its finished form only in Central Europe (Hungary), from where it expands rapidly westward into Moravia, Germany and the Franco-Cantabrian region, as well as Italy and other less populated regions (southern Iberia, southern Britain, some Eastern offshots), displacing and eventually driving the Neanderthals to extinction.
A more detailed map of Aurignacian sites (not perfect either) can be found here. See also this post.
Genetics: mtDNA haplogroup U seems old enough to have participated in this first colonization of Europe. Haplogroup U8a has been directly associated with it but U5 and U6, as well as other U subclades maybe, could well have been involved as well.
Anthropometry: the human type associated with Aurigancian is an archaic-looking dolicocephalic person like Combe-Capelle man.
Since c. 30,000 BP. The origins are uncertain but again we found it evolved in Central Europe. From there it expands to the West and also to the East. It is the last pan-European culture. Areas like Italy or Eastern Europe will thereafter use Gravettian derived technologies.
Genetics: mtDNA haplogroup H (or its HV precursor) could perfectly have been involved in this second wave. Y-DNA R1b shows a similar star-like pattern and distribution, so I speculate that maybe R1 could have arrived then, spreading eastward as R1a and westward as R1b. Another possibility is that only R1b was involved in this phenomenon, with R1b1b2 and R1b1b1 heading respectively to East and West.
Anthropometry: the type associated with this wave is Cro-Magnon.
Since c. 22,000 BP. Evolved in SW Europe, probably in Dordogne, and its main area is the Franco-Cantabrian region. In Mediterranean Iberia a local Gravetto-Solutrean evolves instead. While not shown in the map, a late Hungarian Solutrean is also known to have existed as well.
Solutrean peoples developed art and technology a lot. They had needles and fishing hooks, for example.
Since c. 17,000 BP, transitional forms since c. 19,000 BP.
The ultimate origins of the transition may have been in Germany, where Aurignacian pervivences are known to have existed till very late, but the transitional culture itself, known as Badegoulian is mainly from SW Europe.
Magdalenian replaced Solutrean in the Franco-Cantabrian region. Then it seems to have recolonized Central Europe, as the climate became slightly warmer after the last glacial maximum. A Magdalenian of late date is also found in southern Iberia - it has the peculiarity of lacking bone tools. It represents the cultural apogee of PaleolithicEurope, specially for its fascinating art.
Genetics: Many authors have argued that the Magdalenian recolonization of Central Europe represents the expansion of DNA markers from SW Europe, specifically Y-DNA R1b and mtDNA H clades, both of which show a clear star-like pattern suggesting a fast expansion.
Anthropometry: the Magdalenian human type has fully modern traits, even with impacted wisdom teeth (a byproduct of more narrow jaws). A good reference is Chancelade man.
The site does not follow up with Late Prehistory and I will leave it here as well. Just to mention a handful of issues:
Epipaleolithic cultures of Western and Northern Europe stem all from Magdalenian but experience a major reduction of size of tools, something also noticeable in other contexts of the same period (North Africa, West and South Asia). Cultures of SE and Eastern Europe instead stem mostly from Gravettian (epi-Gravettian cultures).
Mediterranean connections. Some groups in North Africa and West Asia have more or less clear apparent connections with European late UP cultures.
a. Anatolian Baldibian culture shows rock art that seems related with that of Europe, maybe reflecting a backflow through the Balcans.
b. The Epipaleolithic culture of the Zagros mountains, known as Zarzian, is derived from the Eastern European epi-Gravettian. Similarly to the Central European case, the Irano-Mesopotamian area seems to have been deserted in the LGM, and then recolonized, this time through the Caucasus.
c. North African Oranian (also Iberomaurusian) culture has been argued repeatedly to stem from some southern Iberian one (Solutreo-Gravettian?). The presence of Cromagnid types in North African late UP, as well as some genetic connections (mtDNA U6, H and V specially) may support this theory, that anyhow is contested by some who argue that Oranian is, like its Capsian successor, derived from cultures of Upper Egypt/Nubia. Nevertheless the strange "erratics" of Y-DNA R1b found both in Sudan and south of Lake Chad, together with the parallel African patterns of mtDNA U6, seem to suggest that the interactions and migrations were more complex and bidirectional.
d. Recently it has been discovered that late UP Upper Egyptians also practiced a realistic type of mural art that resembles that of Europe.
For a small collection of Paleolithic European and other skulls, see this post. For older general considerations on European UP, read this one.
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I'm too old to be all day and night partying, so guess I won't totally disconnect from the PC these days. But be warned anyhow: Marijaia, the goddess of the local fiestas, will arrive this evening at Bilbao and... well I may not be so active in the Net for the next nine days or so.
Yes, nine fiesta days!
Believe it or not, specially considering how 9/11 attacks have served as pretext for nearly any kind of wrongdoings and abuses, a US court has declared four Saudi aristocrats immune from prosecution in spite that they donated large ammounts to a "charity" that financed Al Qaeda in the eve of the New York drama.
The court ruled that they cannot be prosecuted because Saudi Arabia has not been designed as "terrorist state" by the US State Department.
This rulings, of course, appears gives even stronger backing to those who think that the whole 9/11 affair was a covert operation by US secret services and their puppet organizations in the Muslim World.
I have avoided so far to discuss the conflict of South Ossetia because it is such a complex issue extending all through the Caucasus and involving the power ambitions of at least two great powers (Russia and the USA) that I felt overwhelmed. Initially, all I could think was in the bombing of civilians by both sides and wish them to stop at once.
Also I was somewhat reluctant to give credibililty to mainstream western media, as they are not neutral in such issues normally. But when more distanced media such as Al Jazeera reports that Ossetian and Khazak dead squads, protected by Russian occupation troops, are involved in mass rapes and robbings in the villages around Gori, I feel I cannot remain silent anymore.
There is a most worrying trend in modern war to become "totalist", i.e. not to be anymore a matter of armed clashes for the control of the territory but to involve and attack the civilian populations. That is not war but genocide and is certainly illegal under all international conventions.
Overall, just to make clear my stand, I support the righ of self-determination of all peoples, and that applies to Ossetians and Abkhazians as well as to Chechens. One cannot use double standards in such issues: if it is self-determination, it must be for all without exceptions.
The West Bank is divided by the Oslo agreements in three areas: A, B and C. A+B zones make up the Bantustan: a fragmented territory of cities and villages under Palestinian civil administration; zone C is totally under Israeli control, and it includes most of the West Bank (and, of course, all Zionist colonies) .
Reference maps from PASSIA:
- West Bank per the Oslo agreement, 1995 (first outline of the Palestinian bantustan)
- West Bank and Gaza status at 2000 (slightly expanded bantustan)
- Rejected "final status" Zionist proposal at Camp David 2000 (still most of the West Bank would remain Israeli, the Bantustan would remain discontinuous)
Right now, among many other quoitidiain abuses of the Zionist Apartheid regime, the colonialist forces are going to demolish an entire Palestinian village in zone C, Al 'Aqabah, dating from the British mandate period, pretxting lack of planning documents. Meanwhile Zionist colonies grow impunely and the attacks to Palestinians by settlers' dead squads have increased scaringly.
Friday, August 15, 2008
Charlemagne was not really defeated in his lifetime but once. It was not far from here, exactly 1230 years ago (except for the Gregorian calendar correction of 10 days).
The evening of August 15th of the year 778, after a failed attempt to capture Zaragoza from the Moors and after a pretty much annoying decission of demolishing the walls of Pamplona, the capital of the unruly southern Basques, the rearguard of his army was ambushed and annihilated at the Pyrenean passes. The best knights of the Frankish Empire were killed on the spot, these were not only famous Roland, Margrave of Brittany and cousin of Charlemagne, but also such important ministers as Anselmus, Mayor of the Imperial Palace, and Eghinard, Count Palatine. When Charlemagne with the main army could return the day after found only corpses and vultures feeding on them.
This battle is known to the world as the Battle of Roncevaux (or Roncesvalles in Spanish), meaning "Roland's Valley", but to the Basques the placename is recalled as Orreaga. It probably was not in the commemorative spot of later date at Ibaineta but somewhere east of it, as the ancient Roman road, still in use in the 19th century, did not follow the modern road but flatter, yet narrower, passages through the Pyrenean summits, perfect for such a guerrilla attack.
History manual's depiction of Charlemagne founding is cousin's corpse
Why did the Basques attack the Franks? Obviously the direct trigger was Charlemagne's decission to destroy the Pamplonese walls, decission that would cause the city to fall to Muslims soon after (though they were eventually expelled by a rebellion). But there were deeper issues: before the Carolingian ascendance and the Muslim invasion, Vasconia, in personal union with the Duchy of Aquitaine, had enjoyed almost a century of de facto independence. It was only the Muslim disruption and the need to seek foreign support what led the Basque-Aquitanian Dukes to accept formal submission to the Franks. Since then the interference of Franks in the internal affairs of Vasconia had became increasingly annoying, naming Frankish Dukes and demoting the national dynasty to mere Earls.
Left: monument erected under Fascism in memory of Roland (notice that Franco means "Frankish"). Right: current state after popular vandalism.
The southern Basques were not even clearly integrated in the Frankish administrative order anyhow. After this first and most famous battle of Roncevaux, there were still other two combats of the same name (and surely in the same strategic place). The second one happened in 812, still in Charles' lifetime, that ended in stalemate due to Frankish precautions. The third and most decissive one was in 824, when the Basques, supported by the Emirate of Tudela (under a Basque dynasty as well) smashed a Frankish army led by the Earl of Auvergne, Eblus, and the Earl of Vasconia and Aragon, Aznar. The latter was spared because of family ties but Eblus was sent to Cordoba where he was beheaded. I speculate that Earl Aznar may have acted as double agent, specially because his brother and successor Seguin arose against the Franks in the North soon after and managed to re-unify northern Vasconia (Gascony and the Northern Basque Country) that was for some time independent again (Viking raids helped anyhow). The result of this third Battle of Roncevaux was the formation of the Kingdom of Pamplona, that would become the main Basque polity for the rest of the Middle Ages.
Locator map. Notice that the actual battle was probably somewhat to the East of the current road.
French oysters are dying en masse, specially the young, apparently because of one or two plagues favored by very warm sea temperatures. The phenomenon started a few days ago and has so far affected all factories in France, excepting a small area at Arcachon.
The reason is particularly warm seas this summer but, according to EuroNews, oysters have been colonizing the North Sea in the last decades and are a best indicator of climatic change. Also this summer should not have been so warm anyhow: we are in a Solar minimum, and that implies that, statistically, the weather should be colder - and it is not, not at all.
I just do not want to think what may happen when we reach the Solar maximum circa 2017, specially after reading the recent catastrophic predictions of James Lovelock, who claims that it is just too late to stop climate change and that by 2040 middle Europe, places like Paris or Berlin, will be like the Sahara and that US citizens will have to migrate to Canada.
A fascinating yet somewhat disturbing research at the University of Reading has created a robot that is directed only and exclusively by an array of cultured rat neurones. Their aim is to experiment how brains learn. No results announced by the moment though
Source: News Daily: Robot With A Biological Brain: New Research Provides Insights Into How The Brain Works.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
That is what a team of researchers has concluded after re-dating the last known large animal remains of the Australian island: it happened after humans had arrived (c. 43,000 BP) and in a context of climatic stability. Giant kangaroos and marsupial lions were among the exterminated species.
Source: BBC: Extinction 'by man, not climate'.
Another, maybe better, article can be found in Science Daily: Humans Implicated In Prehistoric Animal Extinctions With New Evidence.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has been ratified by popular suffrage in referendum, getting a support that seems (still awaiting overall official results) higher than 63% nationwide and as high as 78% in some of the most populous departments, while getting also very good results in the restive provinces controlled by the opposition. Most other governors have been too but a handful have seen the people demanding their resignation, these include to opposition politicians and one guvernamental one.
The destituted governors include two from the opposition and one from the guvernamental Movement towards Socialism (MAS). The governor of Cochabamba, conservative, rejected the poll as "illegal" and challenged the government to replace him.
While President Morales made a call to dialogue and collaboration in the aftermath of the referendum, Rubén Costas, governor of Santa Cruz and most vocal opposition leader, insulted the President calling him "dictator" and "macaque" and denounced the constitutional reform project that is being debated as a product of "Aymara fundamentalism", vowing to continue with his project of autonomy for his white and mestizo dominated gas-rich province.
Bolivia is one of the few countries of America that still has an indigenous majority(55%), nevertheless Morales is the first Native American President of the republic and one of the very few of his kind in the history of Latin America, dominated by white and (secondarily) mestizo politicians and businessmen.
The anti-indigenous discourse of the opposition leaders is clearly becoming more and more racist, as their backers are mostly white Bolivians (est. 15% of the total population) who fear that their economical and political hegemony, inheritance of Spanish colonial rule and US neocolonialism, is going to be removed forever under the policies that are nationalizing the strategical sectors like oil and gas to protect them from multinationals' voracity and private mismanagement.
This is the actual context of eastern provinces' claims for autonomy, a claim that never existed before when the whole country was under creole control.
Source articles (in Spanish):
- Gara: Morales ofrece negociación a los opositores tras su triunfo
- Rebelión: Evo Morales alcanza récord histórico y el mandato de ir por la Constitución
- Rebelión: Las tres salidas de la derecha
For the 6th consecutive year scores of young people provided with home made rafts and dressed as pirates have landed in the classy beach of Kontxa in the Basque city of Donostia (San Sebastian) claiming more popular and participative festivities, something that does exist in all other Basque cities and most towns and villages but that is lacking in elitist Donostia, where "fiestas" seem to mean little more than fireworks and standarized parades.
The popular participation for this event has been growing since it began to be organized six years ago.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Arantxa Etxebarri writes today in Gara an essay named Eight wrong ideas on Basque language normalization. It is a long article but it is also quite interesting, so I'll try to summarize her ideas, the eight wrong concepts and why they seem to be wrong, here:
1. The real problem of Basque language is that those who know it speak it rarely. The reality is that it is too common that Basque speakers (all bilingual, with the odd elderly rural exception) cannot use the national language, either in the public services or in daily life. Out of almost 3 million Basques only 700,000 are fluent in Basque language and the rest are very likely to consciously or unconsciously impose their language.
But stats indicate that the Basque speaker tends to use Basque language as much as they can. The problem is that there are way too many monolinguals (Spanish or French monolinguals with little knowledge of Basque) and that each time one of them gets in any social circle the language is switched for courtesy or mere need of communication.
2. Linguistic policies are dependant on the social and political consensus and of free will. Etxebarri claims that, even at risk of being politically incorrect, this cannot be the case; that the survival and normalization of the Basque language demands a policy with capital letters; that there are linguistic rights that cannot be negotiated. The Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights states that everybody has the right to get information in their native tongue, that means that everything, including product tags must be in Basque language, not on voluntary basis but by law. Nobody has done anything to guarantee that right. Neither product tags, nor publicity, nor instruction manuals, nor movies offer have seen significatively increase their offer in Basque language on voluntary grounds in the last 25 years.
3. The advance of Basque language in the last years has been a success. Etxebarri says that way too much has been left undone, that administrations systematically vulnerate the rights of Basque-speakers, that such an important institution as the public health service Osakidetza (Western Basque Country only) has been left without a language normalization process until four years ago. She says that if this would have been done early on, when it was being formed, the situation would be much different.
She directly attacks right-wing "nationalist" politician Azkuna, current mayor of Bilbao and previously director of Osakidetza for this wrongdoing. But she also denounces that under his rule, Bilbao, the largest Basque city, lacks of translation of the municipal ordinances to the Basque language. Unbelievable!
4. The legal frame that regulates lingusitic normalization is the appropiate one. No private institution is legally bound to guarantee any service in Basque language. Neither companies nor religious sects are obligued to provide their services in Basque at all (they must do in Spanish though) and therefore all complaints in this regard are dismissed.
Etxebarri demands a POLICY with capital letters in this regard, so the rights of Basque speakers are protected properly.
5. Basque language must be normalized basically on public grants. She claims that rules must be at least parallel to them, that voluntarism is not enough. That without clear specific rules, the linguistic rights are not guaranteed even by the public institution dedicated to Basque language, Elebide.
6. Basque language can be normalized without defined deadlines, progressively. Etxebarri protests that "progressively" means nothing and that this term is used as excuse for going slowly, much more slowly that it is possible. She claims that clear deadlines and goals, both final and intermediate, must be defined in order to measure the success or failure of the actual policies.
7. The demand of knowledge of Basque language in the public administration is discriminatory. Etxebarri states that it is exactly the opposite, that the lack of that demand discriminates against Basque speakers, forcing them to change to Spanish.
There is an apaprent conflict between labor rights and linguistic rights but apparently this conflict is always solved against the latter. Some labor unions work hard to make sure that the demand of knowledge of Basque language for public servants is kept at minimal levels, that way they assure that their affiliates, who mostly don't speak Basque and have no interest in learning it, are not "discriminated".
She says: I cannot speak German, I admit it, and, if the German goverment doesn't hire me for that reason, they are not discriminating against me, they are just informing me that I cannot attend their citizens with minimal guarantees.
In other words: speaking Basque fluently should be a requirement for Basque public servants.
8. The increase in knowledge of the language assures its normalization. The great bet in this aspect has been the younger generations, as many adults have considered themselves (because of Fascist persecution) a lost generation. The result is that the social and laboral spaces has not seen any major increase in the use of Basque language. Etxebarri suggests that the only way to achieve this normalization is by bringing the Basque language back to these social spaces, making easier to Basque speakers to live their lives in the old language. This, she insists, cannot be done by mere voluntarism but by serious policies.
She concludes that, in spite of the inistitutional marketing, living in Basque language is still a pain, full of obstacles an unsurmontable difficulties.
As for me, I can only say that I agree with her: that the recovery of the ancient language can only be achieved by political means. We certainly need our own sovereignity in order to be able to create laws independently of France and Spain, which have different interests and objectives, but we also need a political class that is not shy and reluctant of making clear advances towards the recovery of Basque language and the defense of linguistic rights.
From Science Daily: Complete Neanderthal Mithocondrial Genome Sequenced from 38,000 Year Old Bone. Based on R. Green et al, 2008 (abstract only, full article behind a paywall).
As expected, the sequence falls at good distance of H. sapiens mtDNA range, discarding any matrilineal ancestry by that side. They estimate the age of the last common grandmother of our two species being some 660,000 years old (+/- 140,000 years), somewhat approaching the archeological record in this aspect but still falling short by some 240,000 years maybe.
This may be a reference for fine tunning of the molecular clock hypothesis, that (in my opinion) gives too young ages almost all the time, suggesting (in this case) a correction factor of roughly +28% (this is quite coincident with the correction required by Bonobo-Chimp divergence, by the way).
An interesting finding is that one specific protein encoded by mitochondrial DNA (subunit 2 of cytochrome c oxidase of the mitochondrial electron transport chain or COX2) has experienced a huge number of mutations in humans since the divergence. It is not clear what this means yet but it is clearly part of the small but meaningful genetic fraction that defines us for what we are as species.
Overall Neanders had evolved less than us from our common ancestors (guess they use Chimp genome for that comparison) what seems to imply that they had smaller population sizes, narrowing their genetic pool and limiting the effect of selection in it (what in the long run may have become a serious handicap for them). Nevertheless it is not fully clear if this narrowing of genetic diversity was an original Neanderthal feature or something caused by a bottleneck in their late history (notice that 38,000 years ago, they had already been displaced from most of their original range by our ancestors).
The researchers announce too that they are working in full sequencing of the Neanderthal genome. When this is achieved we will be better able to determine if there is any Neanderthal admixture in H. sapiens or not.
Well, only the Third Law, not the whole theory - not yet.
The third law states that, as materials approach to absolute zero temperature, their enthropy also approaches zero.
But which is the maybe most fascinating, yet common, material of all: water, has been shown to break this rule. It is not the only one: other non-crystaline materials also breach the same "law". And now artificially generated meta-materials that mimic the behaviour of water ice have been shown to do exactly the same. The third law of thermodynamics seems therefore to be more like a guideline, not any absolute law.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
From Science Daily.
Jupiter and Saturn have an helium-hydrogen metallic liquid alloy in their cores. It seems this discovery arises new mysteries because if helium is fixated that way inside the giant planets it cannot be part of the explanation for their release of energy, greater than what they take from the Sun.
Milky Way's dark matter is being finally mapped - even if not yet really understood either. Scientists have found lumps and streams of the intriguing substance lurking out there just in the neighbourhood of the Solar System. Dark matter is in any case a long way from being well understood.
A dark matter density map
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Just read at BBC (link 1, link 2) that a woman has spent five years in a secret US prision, apparently in Afghanistan. She has been accused in the past of links to Al Qaeda but none of those accusations stand now when she's going to face trial. After being kidnapped for five years by US forces, and probably tortured, she has been brought to trial in the USA accused only of assault while in custody.
Aafia Sidiqui could face 20 years if convicted. Nobody is going to judge the people who kidnapped her: neither the US soldiers, nor the US president who approved all those terrorist operations, nor the Pakistani or Afghan collaborators.
Where is democracy and human rights? Where is justice? We are falling through a deep dark pit of lack of ethics that can only end with the collapse of our civilization. Who sows terror, harvests horror.
How are we going to get out of this hole of shit? I have no trust in US or European leadership but neither in the leadership of other great powers. You look around and you see only a handful of Latin American leaders (and the movements behind them) with some common sense. That's all.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Another horror story from the last Apartheid: Israeli secret services are conditioning the, always exceptional, medical care to Gazans who agree to become an informant. Read full article in BBC.
Israel, with the connivence of Egypt, is keeping a deadly blockade against the Gaza strip denying them everything and using convenient exceptions to blackmail individuals and the whole society. this is just another outraging case of the systematic abuses of the Zionist colony against the natives, abuses that incredibly don't seem to arise the outrage they should, much less to trigger the obvious UN sanctions that such a systematic violator of international law should be punished with.
Instead they are allowed exceptionally to play in European competitions of all sorts, they have economic agreements with EU and the USA and get immense subsidies without which they would not survive. Why is Israel such a privileged fascist regime? Why does it not get the medicine that so easily has been provided for so many others on much more feeble grounds?
The answer is far from obvious. South Africa was also a western colony but was ostracized, at least symbolically. For Israel there is nothing of the sort: only blessings.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Spanish language counter-info site Rebelión is always worth a good read. But guess most of my readers are not fluent in this language and that's actually a very good reason to abstract some of their articles in Leherensuge. Right now there are four items that specially called my attention:
1. Interview with Marie-Monique Robin, author of the best-selling book "The world according to Monsanto", focused on Argentine agriculture.
(...) Nowadays the [transgenic soy] production uses 18 million hectareas. What does this mean? Just one thing: increase of monocultive. It is a fact that, for me is, unquestionable and confirms what I had already noticed in another visit I three years ago. The sentence: 'A people that is dedicated to monocultive is comintting suicide' is patent in this case. What we have to understand is that the expansion of transgenic soy is detrimental for small and middle farmers, who are forced to abandon food production for the people. First, because the seeds provided by Monsanto multinational known as Roundup Ready (RR Soy), are fumigated with the herbicide Roundup, causing the rest of the lands to become polluted, because it is a very volatile herbicide. That means that the small farmers must abandon their farms because their crops are simply destroyed by the herbicide. The soy itself causes severe health problems, and this has been confirmed by a report of the Italian Hospital of Rosario. But it also becomes a horrible social problem. Not regulating the production of transgenic soy is giving the key of national agriculture to investors that have nothing to do with farming.
What is the so-called 'substance equivalence principle', adopted by Argentina?
This principle, intially accepted by the USA, has no scienfic basis to validate it. Nevertheless, by impeding that the GMOs are considered as food additives, the biotechnological companies could avoid toxicological tests and prescind of special tagging of their products. This decission, that allowed to commercialize the GMOs without any evaluation, was accepted also in Argentina. Thanks to these lies, the GMOs arrived to the country and from it invaded Brazil and Paraguay, where they were not authorized. As Brazil did not accept the transgenics, Monsanto set its headquarter in Menem's Argentina and from it elaborated its strategy that ended up polluting a good deal of South America.
In Argentina the media do not mention that Monsanto has been declared guilty in the USA and France for false publicity, that they have not anymore the right to claim that their products do not affect the enviroment. I have confirmed in several countries the modus operandi of Monsanto: they bribe... In the book and the film it is demonstrated that there were scientists that were bribed for more than 20 years to tell lies. Now we know that Roundup causes cancer. It is clear that it will be forbidden eventually, as happened with so many other Monsanto products in the past (PCBs, dioxines, among others), which polluted the planet for forty years and were finally forbidden. Roundup is extremely toxic, in Argentina more than half of the croplands are sprinkled with a product that is not biodegradable, that reaches the freatic layers, that pollutes the soil. At the present rythm, the soil will become useless in the mid-term. (...) When an Argentine mother gives soy milk to her children, she is giving them a product contaminated with a toxic product.
What Monsanto is interested in is in selling Roundup and keep the patents on the seeds to later demand rolaties from other peoples' production. Today in countries like India, there are only trasgenic seeds. Monsanto bought all seed producing companies and farmers must pay royalties to Monsanto every time they use their GM seeds. Otherwise they send the police in. It is a perfect business. The same has been attempted by Monsanto in Argentina. irs claimed they would not demand royalties but in 2005 they changed their discourse by that one of: either you pay us or we are heading for a major conflict.
2. Tom Kuchard of Ecologistas en Acción writes on the WTO new failure: WTO is not the solution but the problem.
It is excellent news those of the failure of the of the last (exclussive, anti-democratic and illegiimate) meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The antiglobalization movement s pleased that it has been blocked by the moment a new liberalization of world trade.
He claims that the WTO goals can only favor the northern powers like the USA and EU. While some southern countries could also gain something from cheaper exports to the north, they would lose huge income in import taxes that they need desperately for public spending in key issues such as healthcare and education. Besides there has been no evaluation on how free imports would affect the local labor, probably just dumped into poverty and job unstability by decissions they cannot influence.
We face masive global crisis affecting food, energy, the financial system and the consequences of global warming, that intensify each other reciprocally. The commerce model promoted by the WTO deepens the crisis even more. The inability to end with hunger is another evidence of the failure after three decades of deregulation of agricultural markets. Neither the WTO nor other free trade treaties, bilateral or regional, that are being negoiated at this time, will be able to solve the food crisis, because the trade liberalization has eroded the ability of the nations to feed themselves.
He puts a lot of blame in the European Union because the agreements it is promoting further international competition without any sort of guarantee, creating new and greater conflicts only. He also accuses EU of ignoring the danger of global warming and doing nothing of value to stop the Earth from warming more than 2ºC. He argues that the global trade (ignored in carbon emissions "contability") is the main causant of global warming, that EU is doing nothing to supress the imports of products such as soy or palm oil, grown on deforested areas, in spite of deforestation being one of the main sources of hothouse-causing C02 emissions.
3. Herberto López Blanch writes on the threat of privatization of PEMEX, the Mexican public oil company.
He mentions that referenda in 9 states and the federal district sent a very clear message to Congress: 86% voted against allowing the private sector to participate in pertroleum extraction, refining, transport, distribution and storage; 84% rejected the approval of the privatization laws that are being debated now in the federal Congress. Andrés López Obrador (arguably the democratically elected President of Mexico, as the last elections are mostly considered massively rigged) declared: 'They have privatized more than one thousand major public companies, among them Teléfonos de México, national railroads, ports, airports, mines, banks, they are giving away the national electric industry and now what they ambition most is to grab the national oil wealth and that cannot be allowed'.
Privatization has been pentrating the Mexican economy even before the FTA was signed and the conservative PAN took power in 2000. The extremely controversial US company Haliburton, formerly with Dick Cheney as CEO, alone has already achieved drilling rights in more than 170 locations valued in some 4,000 million dollars.
Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution expressly forbids giving away concessions or contracts for the extraction of petroleum or radioactive minerals. Mexican oil was nationalized in 1938.
4. Former colonel denounces publically the dark business of the King of Spain.
Amadeo Martínez Inglés, who was colonel of the Spanish Army until he fell off with the government in the early 90s, has written a public letter to the President of the Cortes (parliament) denouncing the chief of state King Juan Carlos I for the follwing issues:
- Participation in the military coup of February 13 1981, a wll known but seldom discussed affair, where he worked in collaboration with many politicians and high level generals in a strange maneouvre that they eventually abandoned when one of the involved soldiers, litutenant-colonel Tejero decided to go on his own.
- Participation in the creation of the death-squads known as Grupos Antiterroristas de Liberación (GAL), who were responsible of the murder (and sometimes kidnappng and tortures) of many Basque citizens in the 80s and early 90s.
- Acquiring private wealth in an exaggerated and illegal manner, making his family one of the wealtiest in Europe and the World and recieving many millionaire bribes for obscure favors, benefitting ilegally of his statute and immunity before the law. The wealth of the Spanish royal family reaches the 1790 million euros, according to several foreing publications (in Spain this issueis taboo)
- Being systematically corrupt, accepting all sorts of bribes.
- Channeling millions from the reserved state funds for his many romances and also paying off extortions from some of them. (Popular wisdom knows well that the king is a drunkard and a whore-goer but nothing of this is ever discussed in the mainstream media).
- A possible murder. In March 1956 he killed in very dark circumstances never really investigated his younger brother Alfonso, then 14, who apparently enjoyed the favors of his father who was against Franco and disliked the submission of prince Juan Carlos to the dictator. The fascist authorities then ruling Spain made everything possible to make that appear as an accident.
He finishes with the following remark: Spain cannot have anymore a in the post of chief of state a person of such awful moral stature, confessed manslaughterer, presumpt murderer, and also, presumptly by the moment as well, conspirator in military coup, corrupt and terrorist.
A new and most important finding by MIT researchers allows to store solar energy in a way very similar to how plants do. The newly developed energy storage system, uses solar energy to decompose common water into oxygen and hydrogen, with this one resulting available to be used as clean combustible when sunlight is not available.
The invention is a new catalyst made up of cobalt and phosphate and powered by an electrode (that would be solar fed) combined with another catalyst made of platinum. The resulting device is cheap and clean and therefore is basically bound to overcome all conservative resistences to green tech.
This giant leap (in the words of photosynthesis expert J. Barber) adds up to another recent major developement in solar energy, also achieved by MIT researchers, that allows solar power generation to be ten times more effective. The combination of these new revolutionary technologies (plus whatever that may still come) will almost unavoidably make solar energy the dominant power source in the next decade or so.
NASA probe Phoenix has confirmed its presence in Martian soil via chemical detection. It was already almost sure but now it's certfied.
I can only imagine that this is more important than it may look on first sight. If there's water out there (there's some chance of ice water at Moon too and there are other asteroids and satellites that probably have it) the issue of supplying for water and oxygen may be solved and that can push ahead increased Solar System exploration and maybe even some sort of limited colonization (Antarctica-like).
There are still many issues anyhow like the incredibly long duration of travel that would really require submarine-like crews, the huge threat of solar radiation and what the heck can be Mars and other Solar System bodies of use for (other than mere scientific research). And most importantly: how to transport enough supplies across the huge distances of open space to provide for even the tiniest of crews. But guess this discovery can only push ahead the people who is crazy about going to Mars and stuff like that.
I have never been enthusiastic about outer space colnization (there's nothing like Earth out there, really) but guess our species has got too used to be always looking ahead (as remedy against looking inside and fixing our real problems down here) that it's almost unavoidable that the uncertain path of space colonization will be explored sooner than later.
Maybe even the next economic bubble is about Martian real state. Not tomorrow in any case, of course.
More in the sort-run, it looks like the next big scientifical question must be: is there life in Mars. Microorganisms of course.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Via Tim (not yet at Remote Central due to technical issues but soon to come).
The 51st issue of the International Newsletter on Rock Art (PDF) reveals the impressive findings at Qurta, not far from Edfu, in Upper Egypt, described as the Côa of Africa.
The open-air art complex includes many engravings like the one above, mostly of bovids. Unlike later pre-Dynastic art, these images show a strong sense of naturalism and movement, they also tend to represent individuals rather than scenes, the figures can be pretty large (as much as 80 cm) and sometimes they integrate the irregularities of the wall in the drawing itself. Human figures (rare) are, unlike animal ones very schematic. In all this they resemble other late UP art of Europe and Anatolia.
The author, Dirk Huyge, suggests a date of 16-15,000 years BP, based on the C14 datations of the UP settlements found just under them and in nearby areas, belonging to the Ballanian-Silisian culture, whose members hunted precisely the animals represented in these murals.
Huyge ponders that the style similitudes with Western European art are impressive though the kind of influence that could have moved this style through such long distances is impossible to determine on light of the available evidence (scarce for North African Paleolithic). They says that only one expert has criticised this datation, Jean-Loïc Le Quellec, who claims instead an stylistic connection with the so-called Bubaline-Naturalistic art of the Saharan Neolithic. The author replies arguing that this style is not as naturalistic as its name suggest but rather somewhat caricaturesque of the criatures imaged and pondering the diferent kind of fauna depicted and archaeologically known to have existed in Upper Egypt in the different periods.
Another discovery mentioned is the increase in more of 500 items in the account of the rock art of the Yagour area of Moroccan Western High Atlas. The overall importance and diversity of the North African rock art is also considered in yet another article.
There is also an article on the very serious conservation issues at Lascaux cave (Aquitaine), plus another on the Interpretation Center of Candamo cave (Asturias), that has opened a replica of the original cave for visitors.
Today in Gara (article in Basque language) they narrate a visit to the magnificient mines of Oiasso. It begins with the words that German engineer Wilhelm Thalacker wrote in 1803: Even four hundred men working for two hundred years do not seem enough to have digged all these mines.
The mines nevertheless have been in use for some two milennia, since the Iron Age until the 20th century. But the Romans did the most important and relevant work maybe around the 1st century CE; they digged some 50 km of tunnels in search of silver mineral. They also made major canalizations for leaking water (it rains a lot over here) to be evaquated from the galleries into huge lake-like water deposits. Their main tool was fire, which they used for illumination of course but also to break the rock.
The mines were finally closed in 1984 and nowadays the only people working inside them are archaeologists. They can be visited, according to the article, every weekday except mondays, in the morning and afternoon.
See also my previous post on these mines, that includes some relevant links.
Additionally, a secondary article (this one in Spanish, same webpage) that the mining area of Aizpea (Zerain, Gipuzkoa). These open mines are known to have been exploited for iron ore since the 12th century at least. The product suministered the many small foundries that existed in Western Gipuzkoa and that are at the origin of the industrialization of the area later on. More recently, in the late 19th and early 20th century it was exploited by a British company, until 1932, when it was acquired by a German consortium, eventually ending in the local hands of Patricio Echeverría that exploited them till their exhaustion in 1952.