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Friday, February 29, 2008

Israel threatens Gaza with "Holocaust"

BBC: Israel warns of Gaza "greater holocaust".

The term immediately struck me as a clear warn of mass murder or democide. The term "Holocaust", as the article mentions, is never used in Zionist speech outside references to the historical events of the Nazi era.

Sadly enought the parallel unfolds: the largest concentration camp in the World, where 85% of the population are people displaced from what is now Israel is being bombed and massacred, and now explictly threatened with Nazi-style genocide, by those who claim to have the right to do it preisely because they suffered at the hands of Hitler and his gang of psychopaths.

Is that some sort of mass Stockholm syndrome? Or is it just blatant hypocrisy?

In any case, I fear for the people in Gaza: supported beyond any reasonable limit by the the USA and its allies, Israel feels justified to do anything they want. Nobody, it seems, will dare to defend Palestinians from the Zio-Nazis.

It's really scary.

One of 100 US citizens in jail.

BBC: US jail numbers at an all-times high.

More than 1% of US adults (0.75% of total population) is in jail. Some are surely for serious crimes like rape and murder but many are for such "crimes" as using LSD or other drugs, which is not even a misdeamanor in other countries (unless you drive under the influence).

The figures surprised me as something brutal, proper of a police state (something that many US citizens believe their country has become lately).

For some is nevertheless a mere financial matter, creating a large burden on an already extremely indebted and strained budget.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Neanderthals and Sapiens didn't mix.

As you may know, the controversy on wether H. neanderthalensis and H. sapiens mixed on the arrival of the latter to West Asia and/or Europe did not die with the sampling of Neanderthal mtDNA that happened to be totally out of range with modern humans (while Cro-Magnons were fully in line, even if their haplogroup was somewhat exotic). A lot of people, including many scientists remain convinced that there must have existed some inter-specific sex with offsprings sufficiently viable as to produce introgression of Neanderthal genes into modern humans.

The problem is that none of such genes has been found and only theoretical models seem to support the introgression hypothesis. Last year it was discovered that, as some had fantasized, some Neanderthals had red hair... but the genetic mutation causing it was (again) totally different from that of modern humans.

Once and again the hybridist field has failed to provide any conclusive evidence of introgression, even if that has been found to be common in other species.

In Octuber 2007, J. K. Wall and S. K. Kim published in PLOS Genetics a research titled: Inconsistencies in Neanderthal Genomic DNA Sequences. It deals with two divergent studies on Neanderthal genetics, one suggesting no admixture and the other suggesting important hybridation. The authors conclude that the second study's results were only due to contamination of the Neandethal DNA and that the true Neanderthal admixture rate is 0.

More on "something to ponder"

This post is a continuation of Something to ponder, posted a few days ago.

In PLOS-Genetics, March 2007, C. M. Nievergelt et al. published an article with the quite unattractive name of General Analysis of Molecular Variance. In the article they published this neighbour-joining tree:

(For the legend and better image access it directly: HERE).

When compared with the more recent graph (of Jun Z. Lin et al) commented before, the similitued is striking: West Eurasians are again closest to Sud-Saharan Africans, while East Asians are the most distant ones. Sadly there is no data in this graph re. South Asia but another thing is noticeable: unlike in Lin's result, here Amerindians (or rather the root of the American branch) are closer to the root than Oceanians (New Guineans only in this graph). But as the American branches are also much longer, this may partly explain that difference.

Leaving aside this divergence, the two graphs are surprisingly similar in placing East Asians as the most divergent group from the tree root (independently on wether you place it inside the African branch or at the African-Eurasian divergence point). The authors mention that the distance from Addis Ababa is the strongest predictor of genetic background similarity among the individuals and populations. But China is still much closer to Addis Ababa than North America unless you consider the transatlantic route (which we know was not the case).

Nievergelt et al. add: but the world regions explain variation in genetic background similarity over and above this measure, suggesting that diversity among individuals within populations situated within the same world region is not completely captured by their distance from Addis Ababa. Worthy note indeed but still unable to justify the extra genetic distance of East Asians.

I am still pondering the why of this anomaly.

In other notes, in this graph it's quite noticeable the apparent homogeneity of European samples and their belonging to the larger West Eurasian group. Inside this, Near Easterners show much larger differences among them than Europeans do. Another clear single branch (for those that still speculate with several prehistoric migrations into America) is that of Native Americans.

Israeli murder of children treated as casual "deaths"

Four children, one just a baby, have been murdered by the Israeli army. I know because I just watched the news in several TV channels and one of them happened to mention it, emphasizing always that several militants had been killed as well and that Palestinians have been firing rockets lately - as to give a pretext to the Zionists.

BBC News and Al Jazeera (they are not that different, actually) treat the murder as secondary headlines, both more interestedin the agreement reached in the Kenyan political crisis. But what really calls my attention is that BBC uses the verb "to die" (Four children die in Gaza strike), like if it was an accident and not a deliberate murderous attack, and that the author of the massacre is not even mentioned, at least in the headlines. Al Jazeera is somewhat more specific: they use the verb "to kill" and the authors are mentioned in the headline (Children killed in new Israeli raid) but the tone is equally casual anyhow: the subject is the "killed children", not the killer, which is treated as some sort of circumstance. "Children killed in aquapark accident" would sound almost the same.

Instead try this: Israel kills four children in raid, for instance. Or Children killed by Israeli raid. I have yet to see a media, at least a mainstream media, that writes with such objectivity.

None of the media had any sort of body count of the last year clashes or anything of the like available. Generally speaking, Al Jazeera seems to be more neutral anyhow, because the BBC and other Western media are way too pro-Zionist, almost by instinct.

Time to re-read Noam Chomski maybe.

My perception of Astrology

There's a lot of people, specially in among scientists who have strong (and weakly based) opinions on Astrology. It's curious because, would I be talking about "God", about the importance of worshipping toward Mecca/the Vatican/Salt Lake City/Jerusalem/the Ganges or some other less likely esotheric approach, they would surely just shrug. But Astrology seems to spark passionate rejection - and, well, I can understand why.

But, well, for most of my life I used to be a strong skeptic as well: I had watched Sagan's series with fascination and was not immune to the apparent logic behind his (official) rejection of Astrology. Yet eventually I was dragged to peek on what it was about and, surprisingly (I have not yet fully recovered after more than a decade) I saw that Asrology seems to work, at least in some aspects.

The most important effect of astrology I percieve is in natal charts. People, as we all know, have different personalities, right? Earlier I used to think that they were mere products of education and psychological evolution, that we were all born blank and fundamentally the same. But as I started reading about the fundamentals Astrology (nothing to do with newspapers' horoscopes - that are rejected even by the most naive of astrologists) I started percieving that people around me really seemed to conform to such archetypes.

My best study case is surely my family: I was born in a large family, so I have many syblings and cousins to study and compare, plus also many other relatives. The case is that they all fit pretty well (if not very well) with what one would expect of their natal charts. Additionally those that can be coupled somewhat, like my dad and one of my brothers (both Taurus Sun with earth Moon and air rising), or my mum and one of my sisters (both Gemini Sun with Venus ruled Moon and water rising, plus fiery Mars) are actually the most alike among all the close relatives.

I know it sounds incredible to the skeptic (surely someone with strong earth in his/her chart) but it really appears to work. It doesn't matter if gravity is not the cause (you can always think of electromagnetism or extra dimensions or whatever other hypothetical mechanisms), what I (and many others) see is not why it works but how.

I'm not any idiot (my IQ tests, another "recent" discovery, have scored 123, 129 and 135), what means I'm surely in the smartest 5% of the population - while being no genius anyhow. But apart of being a logical smartass (that's what IQ tests measure, if anything), I'm also kind of sensitive (hypersensitive??) and that sensibility was what evetually lead me to see the apparent astrological reality of life.

I know it's not visible for all, at least not in the same manner. And I know by experience how hard can be for a rationalist, skeptic, critical thinker to admit that it works. But well, after more than a decade chewing on it, I think I'm almost ready to accept that I percieve Astrology as something real, at least in what refers to natal charts, affecting the psychology/personality of people since birth and very likely also their looks (though genetics also matters).

I also know that Astrology is quite complex and that making statistical experiments to prove it throughtly, would need lots of people. After all, considering only Sun, Moon and Ascendant signs there are 1728 possible combinations. If one adds to that the signs of the personal planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars), it adds up to 311,040 combos. And if you want to consider also planets aspecting the Ascendant or Sun, or subdividions of signs... then the different personal types really begin to tend towards infinite.

Of course one could devise simpler tests for smaller samples, like the one that was allegedly done by an insurance company on Sun signs and accidents. I never really saw the original study, if it existed at all, but it does suggest a method to test statistically significative differences (even if, naturally, many people will diverge from their Sun sign stats) with smaller ammounts of people. Also, unlike ascendant and possibly Moon sign, Sun sign is very easy to verify based only on birthdays.

Well, the case is that I, as well as other people with interest in Astrology, professional or amateurs, look at the matter with a scientific and critical approach - but not a blunt rejection without prper research. People who directly reject it are skipping the important part of any scientific approach to any subject: research. I still have to meet a single person who has studied astrology minimally beyond stereotypes and flatly rejects it.

The ones who do, actually reject to research it and are not normally even interested in expanding their knowledge on the matter as to really understand how it is supposed to work.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Galactic Center marks astrological eras

The Galactic Center, also known as Sagittarius A is a huge black hole: a gigantic dark star that is the Sun of Suns in the Milky Way. Despite its size and importance It's not very apparent because even light has to bow to its huge attraction.

Due to precession of equinoxes, the Galactic Center (GC), otherwise virtually static in the firmament, moves 1º14' per century - and it does so in a normal forth (not retrograde) motion, like all other astrological objects of relevance except the Lunar nodes. It takes 2,432.4 years for the GC to cover a whole sign of the Zodiac. Right now the GC is in late Sagittarius, being at 26º52' in the year 2000 (now at 26º58').

It's been noticed that many people of historical relevance had important aspects, not necesarily harmonious, to the GC. But I will not dwell in this matter here.

Many astroogers believe in conventional astrological eras, based in the precession of 0º Aries as it was when the Western and Indian astrologies diverged, some 2,000 years ago, at the end of the Hellenistic period. This is a very arbitrary decission: after all precession is irrelevant for Western Astrology (not so for Jiotisha, the Indian tradition). Precession alone is meaningless for Western Astrology and more that date that correlates with no celestial object that I know of. These are the astrologers that talk of the "Age of Aquarius" and all that nonsense.

Instead the GC is a most important celestial object. A true objective referent. So I say we are not in the Age of Pisces, we are in the Age of Sagittarius: the age of expansion, knowledge (and religion too). It fits much better with the period that begun two decades after the failure of Hannibal against Rome and also few years before Rome conquered virtually all in the Mediterranean. It fits well with a period that started with the Jewish rebuiliding of the temple of Jerusalen (commemorated in Hannuka), continued with the preaching of Jesus and Muhammad and eventually derived in the age of discoveries, the age of reason and the age of space exploration. All very very Jovian, really.

But the Age of Sagittarius desn't stand alone in this self-sustaining logic. The ages before it, at least till the end of the last glaciation, are very coherent as well. The following overview is surely Eurocentric and my apologies to all for such a narrow aproach.

The Astrological Ages as defined by the Galactic Center:

· 178 BCE - 2254 CE: Age of Saggitarius (already commented)

· 2610 - 178 BCE: Age of Scorpio
- Begins with the apogee of Megalithism and the foundation of several civilizations in Iberia, Malta and the Cyclades, as well as the Semitization of Mesopotamia. It continues through the late Chalcolitic (Copper Age), with the consolidation of Indo-Europeans in Central Europe (Corded Ware) and the Bell-Beaker phenomenon (traders?). It then enters in the quite violent Bronze and Iron ages, culminating in the Persian and Macedonian empires, among other stuff.

· 5042-2610 BCE: Age of Libra
- Unlike warlike and ambitious Scorpio, sign of radical changes, Libra is a more civic sign. The Age of Libra actually begins with the foundation of the first commonly acknowledged civilization: Sumer (Eridu, El Ubayd). It's also the apogee of the great Neolithic expansion, when it reaches the shores of the Atlantic. These beginnings are followed by the expansion of Megalithism, as well as the developement of the oldest European states (Balcans), inspired by Troy (founded c. 3000 BCE)
, as well as the rise of dynastic Egypt. The last centuries announce the Age of Scorpio to come, with the first Indo-European and Semitic incursions in their respective historical areas.

· 7474-5042 BCE: Age of Virgo - Virgo holds a spike, Virgo is Ceres... and hence the Age of Virgo is that of Neolithic. While the first Neolithic surely began before 7500 BCE, it is in this period when it consolidates and initiates its expansion. The famed town of Catalhöyük, with its magnificient home-temples of bulls, lionesses and mother goddesses was founded just at the beginning of this age, while some transitional Mesolithic-Neolithic cultures like ancient Jerico or Göbekli Tepe instead arrive to their end. In this period, Neolithic technology, cultures and way of life spread widely around the Near East.

· 9906-7474 BCE: Age of Leo - Leo is ruled by the Sun and therefore the Age of Leo began with the end of the Ice Age. It is the period of transition to Neolithic (Mesolithic) in the Near East, while the rest of the world remained in the so-called Epipaleolithic stage. The beginning of this era is also that of the oldest known pottery with the Jomon culture of Japan (ancient Ainus).

The matter becomes less clear when we enter the Paleolithic period as such. As cultures last for several of these ages often and also the chronology becomes less and less precise as we look back. Also there is no certainty (as far as I know) that Earth's woble (the cause of precession) has not changed in such long spans of time.

Anyhow here there is an outline (again for Europe mostly):

· Magdalenian period: GC in Taurus, Gemini and Cancer. The beginning of Cancer is roughly coincident with the end of the expansion of Magdalenian, while the transit through Gemini corresponds maybe with the greatest cave art (Taurus??).

· The Solutrean period is fully coincident with the transit of the GC through Aries. It's also the last glacial maximum, when cold possibly depopulated most of Central Europe.

· The Gravettian period spans, depending of the region, through the signs of Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. In some areas it last (Epigravettian) until the arrival of Neolithic. It is the period of Cro-Magnon people (properly, or narrowly, speaking).

· The Aurignacian period spans through Libra and Scorpio (extended in some areas until Gravettization and even beyond).

· Earliest Aurignacian possibly begun in Central Asia much earlier. The chronology is imprecise partly because of the novelty and partly because of issues with C-14 for such early dates. It may be some time between the previous Pisces and Aries transits of the GC (but with great uncertainty: Aquarius and Taurus are also possible).

· The great expansion of H. Sapiens in Asia (from their early settlements around the Arabian Sea maybe) is also uncertain (too few fossils) but may have begun some time around 60 or 50 milennia BCE. Too large a span to say anything with GC astrology.

· But the great Toba eruption, that may have triggered the migration out of Africa, has a quite precise date: c. 74,000 BCE. That seems to be during a transit of the GC by late Taurus. Then with Gemini the travel would have begun maybe.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


There are a couple of articles in Al Jazeera about Palestine I have been reading (and, what the heck? I was eager to write something about this suffering country). One of them deals with the issue of Palestine and Arab nationalism, the other is a timeline of Palestine's recent history.

The first one begins as follows:

What immediately stands out when reflecting on the plight of the Palestinians over the past 60 years is not only that they have been occupied and displaced, but that they are also being replaced by a totally different people brought to Palestine from the four corners of the globe.

Their land, their belongings and even their culture and history, are being usurped by a different population.

It is a painful repetition of the plight of native Americans we ignorantly refer to as 'red Indians'.

The Israelis, who have become the new masters of the land, are Jewish immigrants that began populating Palestine in the early years of the last century.

In fact this is a quite benevolent image of Jewish colonization: most Jewish colonists arrived only after 1945, pushed by the demolishing impact of the Holocaust. But still, in 1946, just at the end of the (quite pro-Zionist) British mandate, Jews were only about 1/3 of the total population of Palestine and they were concentrated in very specific areas, mostly urban ones (see: map of distribution of the population in Palestine 1946 - PASSIA). They were majority only in the district of Jaffa (Tel Aviv) and a large minority in those of Haifa, Tiberias and Jerusalem.

Still the UN partition plan gave them more than half of Palestine. I must note here that the UN of the 1940s was not the UN we know now, as most modern sovereign countries were then just colonies of European powers or the USA, and that included most Muslim and Arab countries. Also it must be mentioned that a UN comitee had proposed a unified multiethnic Palestine instead as best solution - but that obviously clashed with the Zionist project that was being fed not just by the Western powers but also had the complicity of the USSR. Only the few sovereign Muslim countries (Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yeme, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon) and handful of other states (Cuba, India, Greece) opposed the unjust plan of partition.

The partition plan left 33% of Arabs inside the Israeli borders (only 1% of Jews in Arab-Palestinian ones), making up 45% of the population of would-be Israel. Additionally the city or Jerusalem would remain as international territory.

The news were recieved with joy among Jewish colonists but with despair among native Palestinians. The plan was totally unacceptable and soon clashes begun. As soon as the British retreated, the Israeli and Palestinian militias tried to take over. Also the neighbour states, most of them just newly born as well, sent their armies to help their "Arab brethen", though the attitude of Transjordan specially was quite dubious. The Israelis though had good leadership and finances and managed to gather enough weapons and soldiers to even their enemies, whom they defeated or stalemated separately. What looked like a triumphal march for the Arab armies became a shameful defeat.

Meanwhile the Zionist militias comitted a massacre at Deir Yassin, murdering maybe as many as 250 villagers, most of them women, children and elder people. This sparked panic and favored the ethnic cleansing by the Israeli forces. Eventually, an armistice was signed with Israel getting not just the lands assigned by the partition plan but many others as well (notably Galilee and West Jerusalem) and Egypt and Jordan getting the rest. This armistice line of 1949 is what are the "internationally recognized" borders of Israel - though Israel disputes it, and so do several Palestinian organizations.

The vast majority of Palestinian refugees settled in Transjordan (renamed as Jordan) and Gaza strip, with lesser but meaningful ammounts arriving to Syria and Lebanon, as well as the West Bank (see: map of Palestinian refugees - PASSIA). Palestinian refugees, many of them still living in refugee camps after so many decades, account for 1/3 of the population of Jordan and the West Bank and for 85% of the population at Gaza Strip, the largest concentration camp in the World. There are more than 4 million Palestinian refugees in total and they demand the right to return.

But their villages have often been razed to the ground (see: corresponding map - PASSIA) and their lands expropiated by Israel. And of course Israel flatly rejects any concession on that issue. The situation reminds to the Serbian-controlled lands in Bosnia, where after the ethnic cleansing (euphemism for genocide) Bosniaks are still unable to return in most cases. But it is actually much worse because Israel, unlike Serbia, has the backing of the so-called "international community" (i.e. the USA and its allies).

There was some hopes years ago (1993-95) on the possibility of reaching an agreement but the murder of Yitzak Rabin and later of Yassir Arafat (I believe it was a murder) threw any hopes to the trash bin. Now virtually dead provoker Ariel Sharon ignited the Second Intifada. After sidelining Arafat and getting a more sheeply Al Fatah leadership, militant Hamas became terribly popular and won the elections.

Meanwhile the Israeli proposals in the negotiating table were each time more backwards. Their latest proposal of "final status" basically tried to create a bantustan in the West Bank (see: Final Status map presented by Israel - Taba, 2001 - PASSIA). And really the comparison of Israel with racist South Africa is not far-fetched, not in vain they were best allies for all the Cold War period, supporting each other in their secretive nuclear programs and otherwise. Israel, with its very special ethnic laws, that allow anyone with a Jewish ancestor to migrate to that country but do not allow the original inhabitants to return, is balatantly racist. Furthermore, the anti-Arab feeling is increasing in Israel and a majority of Israeli Jews seem now in favor of apartheid even regarding Israeli Arab citizens.

Another frequent comparison is with the Crusader states, in particular the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Personally I see only one solution to the Israeli problem: the supression of Israel altogether and the creation of a unified multiethnic and laicist Palestinian republic, alowing the refugees that so wish to return to their country. Also I think that, in the long run Israel has no hopes of surviving: eventually US global leadership position will change and with it the fate of the Zionist entity will be sealed.

Reviewing the Hadith in Ankara

Ref.: BBC: " Turkey in radical revision of Islamic texts".

This is pretty interesting. I am not fan of Islam, as I am not of other religions, specially "revealed" ones, but what is clear is that it is a large religion with many millions of adepts and a large influence in the World. It is also very controversial, not just because of political reasons but specially because of socio-cultural matters, specially those affecting women, that are too often in brutal contradiction with Human Rights and modern feminist thought. You can tink whatever of the term "feminism" but the case is that 100 years ago in most of Europe and America, women could not vote, handle their finances without their husband's approval and were the main suspect in case of rape. Without feminism our reality would not be much different from that of Saudi Arabia, really.

Well, the case is that now Turkish theologists are adressing are a very hot issue in Islam: the Hadith. The Hadith (also hadiths, in plural) are the traditions regarding Muhammad's life and preching that are outside the Quran. Much of it was compiled in diferent times and the shadow of possible falsehood has always fallen upon it, with different interpretations depending on schools an so on. Yet it's most influential in Islamic doctrine as well as in Islamic law (sharia).

Along history, Islam (not just the religion but the culture as well) has evolved from what some understand as a very progressive thought for its time (the early Middle Ages, the Dark Ages of European historiography, when feudalism, religious fanatics and warlords ruled everywhere, at least in Western Eurasia) towards a much more conservative ideology, often through borrowings from other cultures, specially after the sacking of Baghdad by the Mongols. For instance, most typical Muslim clothes for women are originally Byzantine. To worsen things Sunni tradition states that more recent texts overrid old ones - and more recent texts are usually more conservative in the Hadith.

Now these theologians of Turkey are adressing this hot matter in Ankara. They are trying to expurge the false from the true hadiths, those that are likely original relatios of Muhammad's life and teachings and those that are false additions. But they are also re-reading them in a more comprehensive light. This trhoughout revision has never been done in Islamic thought but is beleieved by many very necesary to expurge Islam of beliefs that are not authentic.

What will remain after this critical review? For sure the Quran will be untouched but the Hadith will be changed substantially. I understand it as a restoration of an old fresco that removes the dirt accumulated and shows again the original bright colors but I imagine that it will provoke many resistences in the most conservative and reactionary sectors of Islam.

It's interesting in any case.

Antidepressants useless

Ref.: BBC: Antidepressants 'of little use'

After decades being a supposed panacea for every sort of low emotional states, a research team of the University of Hull (UK) has found what many suspected anyhow: antidepressants are useless.

The research, focused on drugs like Prozac, Efexor and Seroxat, that keep serotonin for longer in the blood, on the grounds that this bodily chemical is claimed to stabilize mood, found only an unclear small effect in the most severe cases of depression and absolutely no effect in all others.

This implies that depressed people can improve without chemical treatments, as declared lead researcher Prof. Irving Kirsch.

The study highlights that the current system of reporting drug trials is a failure: pharmaceutical companies (one of the biggest business of our time) only publish the studies that favor their products. Prof. Kirsch suggested that they should be obligued by law to publish all their data, even the one that is disfavorable.

The issue of psychodrugs is particularly susceptible to manipulation and, in my opinion, probably most drugs of this kind right now in the market are problematic. While depressed people are not inhabilited and may have the choice to avoid such drugs, assuming they have all th information and are not pressed by doctors and couselors, people with severe disorders like schizophrenics are submitted to true mental strait-jacketing by the forced administration of drugs of little or no benefit. I have known too many who have taken their lives off after the psychiatric machinery and their brainwashed (and often quite problematic) families cornered them in such a cul-de-sac.

But the problem with pharmaceutic companies goes well beyond that: antibioitics are still being prescribed against the flu, when everybody (specially doctors) know that they are totally useless. Overall drugs, including useful ones, are used much more than they should and that's because there's a whole system of comercial propaganda working for the final customer: you whenerver you may have any health problem, ends up paying for it.

Meanwhile all these companies get huge benefits, part of which will be used to create more biased research in favor of some new dubious product to sell in the wealthy parts of the world, while they obviously don't spend at all in research for the many diseases that affect the tropical belt, because they are poor and hence unprofitable.

Something to ponder (genetics)

Popular blogger on genetics, Razib (Gene Expression), has recently included a graph from Jun Z. Li et al, 'Worldwide Human Relationships Inferred from Genome-Wide Patterns of Variation' (Science, 2008). The graph is:

Soon I noticed that the two axis aren't proportional: first the distance marks of the PC2 (horizontal) axis are 250% larger than those of the PC1 (vertical) axis. Also the fact that the PC1 represents 52% of the genome and the PC2 only 28% introduces another large distortion. The horizontal axis should be a lot shorter (or the vertical axis a lot larger) for the representation to be realistic. So I corrected it:

I know it's not very pretty but it actually represents more accurately the genetic distances - and you can check for the details in the original above. As you can see I also added concentric rings, centered in the two African dots (representing real people) that are closest to the Eurasian samples.

After doing that, it seems apparent that East Asians and Native Americans are more distant genetically from the common African origins than West Eurasians, South Asians and the natives of Oceania. Do not try doing that in the original graph because the distortion of axis makes East Asians actually appear closer to Africans and Europeans the more distant - but it's just an effect of that convenient (but misleading) distortion.

The greater separation of East Asians and Native Americans from the common African origin may be a function of distance but that alone should place Native Americans more distant and that's not the case. It is really something to think about and may be related to the unique circumstances of East Asian paleodemographics, that seem to involve greater bottlenecks than the rest and a large Neolithic colonization possibly. In any case something to ponder.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Gazans demand peacefully the end of the blockade

Thousands of Palestinians have created today a human chain of 40 km to demand the end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The human chain linked the two extremes of Gaza: Rafah in the border with Egypt and Erez at the Israeli self-attributed border. The organizers estimated in 40,000 the people taking part.

At Ben Hanun, many people tried to head towards the miliatry border at Erez but were dissuaded by troops of Hamas. There were fears (or rather hopes) that the mobilization could end with masses of people flooding the borderline, as happened in Rafah just a few weeks ago ut both the organizators as Hamas declared they would makes ure it would not happen.

But why not?, I wonder. After all the Israeli checkpoint is even more of an artificial border than that of Rafah: it is the fence of the biggest concentration camp of modern history. You may not know but most people living in Gaza are original from what is now Israel and actually the overcrowded Gaza strip holds the majority of Palestinian refugees in the World.

But the concerns of the people are more immediate: they need food, clothes, fuel, medicines.., they need to survive. And the blockade by Israel, that also controls Gaza's territorial waters and keeps a strict (unilateral and illegal) blockade also in the sea, has just sunk the frail economy of the territory.

When will the Zionist colonists pack their stuff and go back to where they came from?

Turkish army in Southern Kurdistan (1)

I've been following as much as possible the latest Turkish invasion of Southern Kurdistan (Iraq). I say "as much as possible" because there seems to be a blanking of information not just by Turkey but also by the Kurdish autonomous government in Kirkuk. Journalists have been forbidden to head to the border to report on the invasion. That doesn't mean that Southern Kurdistan is happy about the Turkish intervention and in fact there was a standoff when Turkish troops stationed in Iraq (since 1991) attempted to leave their bases to join the operations: the Kurdish peshmergas surrounded them and eventually they had to turn back.

One thing that makes little sense to me is why these operations are being carried out in the midst of Winter. The PKK militias are deep in the mountains and these are true ice cubes in this time of the year, not the best scenario for the Turkish army to make fast gains, right?

It is worth mentioning that the Kurdish authorities at Kirkuk and the PKK do not really get along: historically regional and global powers have played the Kurds selectively against their rivals and the parties in power in Southern Kurdistan, supported by Turkey and the USA historically are not sympathetic of USSR and Syria backed PKK (PKK stands for Kurdistan Workers Party, though nowadays they are less Communist than they used to). Nevertheless the sister organization PJAK, that acts in Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) has support from the USA and is not listed by them as "terrorist organization".

Right now, the situation seems to be as follows: the PKK has shooted down a Turkish helicopter, while the Turks have destroyed 5 bridges in northern Iraq. Casualties' figures are confuse: the Turkish soldiers killed by the PKK may be between 15 and 47, depending who you believe; Turkey claims 112 PKK casualties but I suspect many are actually civilians (if the figure is not inflated).

One of the five bridges bombed by Turkey and map of Kurdistan (Kurdish ethnic majority).

Ref: Al Jazeera: 'Turkey ignores Iraq pull-out plea'.

Basque traditional religion (2)

(pl. sorginak) , normally translated as "witch". From sor(-tu): "to create", and -gin or -gile: "doer". Sorgin: creator, possibly also linked to their role as midwifes.

Legend tells of sorginak as real people, leaders of the akelarre, practitioners of "magic" (rather herbal knowledge) and members of a secret yet widespread society. Ez geala ba geala, hamalau mila ba geala: we are not, yes we are, fourteen thousand indeed we are.

Legend tells of sorginak as genie too: the main aids of Mari, the Basque Goddess.

History tells of sorginak too: as victims of persecutions by the Inquisition: thousands were perseucted by the Inquisition or lesser judiciary, all of whom suffered tortures and many of which were burnt at the stake. The worst period by far was the 16th century.

Basque traditional religion (1)

500 years of Inquisition have left few remains to be picked up in the more illustrated 20th century by scholars, ironically some of them Christian priests.

Still we know something.

Basque religion is (as still shatters our souls in ways no other faith can) first and foremost a dualist-monotheistic religion focused on fertility. We know of only two gods: Mari and Sugaar (aka Maju), representing the female and male halves of such unique, yet dual cosmological principle.

Basque religion is an Earth-centered (ctonic) religion, where the sky is just a passage for the Goddess and God to travel and shepherd their herds of clouds and other metereological phenomena. They dwell in caves, in the most outstanding peaks sometimes. It's believed that whole ill-known realm lies underground. There, along with the dual Divinity, many magical criatures like lamiak (nymphs), iratxoak (imps) and jentilak (giants), along with the dead ancestors may live.

Izena duen guztia izan omen da. All that has a name may exist. Izena izana. The name [is] the existence.

Basque religion used to be celebrated specially on friday nights, the day of the akelarre (sabbat). It was a common practice still in the 15th century if we are to believe the inquisitors. Avellaneda was a skeptic: he did not believe in witches, so he went to the Pyrenees to find out what were all those rumors about. The locals welcomed him and made him participant of their celebration. Possibly under the effects of stramonium (or some other drug of similar type), Avellaneda flied and saw things that he would otherwise never have believed in. Back to Logroño he initiated one of the worst witch-hunts ever.

The case is that their "god" could not make such "miracles" and he was jealous.

It's said that certain witch apprentice had to recite the following enchantment to arrive to the akelarre: under the clouds, over the thorns. But he recited it wrongly: under the thorns, over the clouds, with disastrous effects. Same with Avellaneda.

But there were many other witch-hunts. And eventually the old religion went underground and vanished. Legend says that in other times lamiak were very common, being found almost in every stream, taking care of their long hair with their golden combs. Why did they disappear? The myth also has an answer: because of chapel building. In every holy spot the Christians built a chapel, one after the other, until all the mountains were Christianized, by grade or force.

And mythos in Greek means thread: Ariadne's thread.

You can follow the thread or get lost in the Labyrinth of Christian deceit.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

My natal chart

Maybe some readers can be curious about it. Maybe some readers can give insights on it.

Free Image Hosting at

My own opinion:

Eris and North Node conj. Ascendant in Aries: my karma is do as I wish but never rely on others too much, at risk of total failure. Eris means both diplomatic abilities (otherwise negated by lack of air) and troublemaking vocation (I guess, Eris is too new to know for sure). Both NN and Eris can act as "foes" and I should surely avoid Librans (as I think Eris rules that sign - this doesn't mean I dont like this sign: in fact, it's rather the opposite, just that in the end it doesn't work well).

1st house: Saturn and Sedna retro. No idea about Sedna yet but Saturn in Aries is generally bad: too impulsive for the planet of order (Einstein had it but he was a genius not an orderly person). People with Saturn in first normally have to bear great demands upon them through life, often being the oldest sybling (and not the only one). On the good side it gives good reasoning and austerity.

2nd house: not visible but there is Lilith - Black Moon (in Gemini). I tend to have little interest for money and posessions, and I really have little of them.

3rd house: empty. I have many syblings and cousins and neighbours but that's about it.

4th house: Cancer Moon. There's a music band with that name. Not sure what it may mean for them but for me it means sensibility, up to the point of hypersinsibiliy. As I see it, the Moon is perception, consciousness, "the soul" in a passive or reflexive sense. Emotions too but emotion is feeling, percieving, not being blind nor insensible. And yes, well, I am that kind. I also like history and geography, like any good Cancerian. I'm also quite homy.

5th house: Leo Mars and Sun. In some systems the Sun ends up in the 6th house... but really I'm not that hardworking nor have such a weak health. Mars in Leo is pretty tough but maybe somewhat noisy. Sun in Leo... well, I bet you know some. I do like to play can be creative at times, as is normal in this house. I usually get along with young people and can be a good teacher but I'm not really interested in children anyhow. Mars is very important because it's at the midpoint of the luminaries and also aspects the Asc-Dsc and NN-SN axis. Also it's quite high on the internal hierarchy of the chart, ruling over so many Mars-ruled placements elsewhere and only bowing to the Sun.

6th house: Virgo chain stellium. Somewhere I read, regarding certain annoyingly task of detailed analysis could only be made by someone with five planets in Virgo. Well, I happen to have them, so it's not the kind of task that scares me, really. Mercury in Virgo is pretty good: there are normal Mercuries, there are good Mercuries and then there is Virgo Mercury - have little doubt about that. On the bad side, neither Jupiter nor, specially, Venus are well placed in that sign. Pluto and Uranus are generational as per their sign but Pluto is at the appex of a minor triangle that may have some potential of insight and transformation, if the support from the Moon and Neptune is put to work. Here Moon and Neptune provide the ideas, I guess, and Pluto may get them to work.

7th house: Libra South Node and Ceres in Scorpio. If you like asteroids, I also have Pallas there (in Libra). Otherwise it's quite empty, except for the South Node. I guess I'm quite uninterested in partnerships of any kind, wouldn't it be because the SN indicates a vice, an imbalance, a tendency that must be corrected. I am very intrigued at Ceres in Scorpio (that I would guess in mutual reception with Pluto - I think Ceres should rule Virgo) because so far I haven't found it being in connection with anybody around me, at least markedly.

8th house: Neptune in Scorpio. Dreams and ideals of shared property and sexual freedom. Guess that's pretty generational, right? The important thing here is that it connects firmly with the Moon (and Pluto) and it is in its natural house, so I really feel strongly about that. But I don't expect to get any inheritance, that would be foolish.

9th house: empty. Sure, I never finished any career.

Midheaven and 10th house. The midheaven is in Capricorn, often a bad presage and otherwise the house is empty. Nevertheless the MC gets a good bunch of favorable aspects from my Virgo super-stellium... and blocking squares from my Asc-Eris-nodal axis. Some day I guess I will be able to know how that works.

11th house: empty. I have friend and all that but guess it's not my vital priority no. 1. Also due to my karma, I should follow Groucho's advise about never accepting to join any club that would accept someone like me as member.

12th house. Placements in 12th house are actually dealt with at the Ascendant section (see above), as they are in close conjunction with it. I don't use Chiron: it's just one of thousands, maybe millions tiny rocks out there - I really don't know how so many astrologers still use it. Bad habits are hard to kill, I guess.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Early migration bottlenecks left Europeans with worse genetics

Science Daily: Ancient 'Out Of Africa' Migration Left Stamp On European Genetic Diversity.

Researchers from Cornell University (USA) have sampled more than 10,000 sequenced genes from 35 people of European (20) and Sud-Saharan (15) ancestry. The result is quite conclusive: Europeans have more "deletereous" (harmful, less likely to survive natural selection) genes than Africans.

The rationale for this result (coincident with other studies) is that Europeans (or our Asian ancestors) went through one or more population bottlenecks when diversity was pretty small, allowing these defects to persist, even many milennia later. In contrast African populations have always been pretty large, forcing these potentially harmful genes to become less frequent through normal natural selection.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Spanish "democracy" in the Basque Country

Several elected representatives of Basque nationalist ideas have called for active abstention for the upcoming Spanish general elections. After the press conference nine of them have been arrested.

What can I say that has not been said already a zillion times?

We urgently need our own sovereign state like Kosova.

Meanwhile the images of the severe lesions caused by Spanish police to the alleged ETA member Igor Portu have come to light. The police version is absolutely incredible but they will get away with it: it's happened many times before.

Other images available HERE.

... and no need to add further comments, right?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kosova could give good example

Serbian foreign minister has said that "Kosovo's indepedence has provided a toolkit for insependentists in Europe and beyond". Apparently Russia is considering to recognize Abkhazia and South Osetia (but not Chechnya) and some Palestinians are already demanding the formal creation of a Palestinian state if negotiations with Israel "are to succeed".

Looks good. What next? I have already mentioned Chechnya, that declared its independence almost two decades ago. Of course there's the much more dubious issue of Northern Cyprus (as it's merely a Turkish colony in fact) but also more importantly Kurdistan, including maybe 1/5 or 1/4 of Turkey's territory and population.

The Russians of Transdnistria, who declared their independence under Moscow's protection are happy. But one should not forget that Russia itself has many territories (autonomous republics and others) that have non-Russian majorities.

But the most interesting situation will be in Western Europe. In the UK the Scottish nationalism is quite strong these days, while in Spain Basques and Catalans could maybe take their own unilateral decissions. France is not exempt: Brittany and Corsica, as well as some overseas territories like Kanaky, have more or less important nationalist movements - and German identity is again on the rise in Alsace as well. Italy could eventually face some issues specially in Sardinia, Friuli and the Southern Tyrol (aka Alto Adigio) but also hase afced in the last times growing regional secessionism specially in the North. And let's not forget that Belgium is on the verge of breaking apart.

And, of course, there are many other natinal issues elsewhere: Western Sahara, Berbers, the ethnic puzzles of artificial post-colonial states, specially in Africa, southern Azerbaijan and eastern Kurdistan in Iran, Uyghuristan and Tibet in China (plus the issue of Taiwan, that is not really an ethnic but political issue), etc.

We are maybe entering a phase of history when decolonization and self-determination could become more and more widespread. After all that's what democracy is about: the power of the people. And many peoples all around would prefer to break apart from their forced historical "marriages" (or even slavery).

I am really glad that the artificial constructs of estabilished borders (borders that often are quite recent creations, but anyhow) and states are being challenged and defeated. It's a great act of democracy and self-determination. It's what freedom really is about.

I really hope that the somewhat hysterical Serbian "prophecy" becomes true. Let's break the chains of artificial borders, let's be free. For some of us this has been a very long centenary struggle and the happy end still has to arrive.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bank censors Internet

Or tries to.

With the complicity of California's judiciary, Julius Baer banking corporation, based in fiscal paradises like Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, has managed to completely remove from the Internet the site, that is dedicated to expose all sort of controversial secret documents.

Sadly for them, the whistleblower site has many alternative sites outside California that are still available, for instance:

The case is that the site, that has interesting pearls like the one denouncing how the comission in charge of unveiling Stasi's secrets is managed mostly by former Stasi members, has revealed compromising documents that involve the bank in widespread money laundering (link1, link2).

Ironically, trying to silence this site the controversial bank has attracted on itself and its dubious practices much more attention, becoming subject of media scrutiny.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Anthropocene or Mechanocene?

It seems that lately, specially affected by the first even man-made global extintion (now under way), scientists have discovered that we are not anymore in the Holocene but in the Anthropocene, the era that is defined by human alteration of everything.

Ok, scientists, good job. Now think again: what's exactly the casue of such "human-made" change? Humans have been around for at least 150,000 years, more than two million if we include the other human species, like Homo ergaster, erectus, antecessor... But in all that time we had only a limited impact. Only in the last centuries, decades maybe, we have started to cause such a huge mess.


Because of machines.

Since the so called industrial revolution we have created more and more perfected machines, we have fed them with mostly fossil fuels, we have built roads, railroads, ports and airporst for them, we have invented and perfected the means to keep them functional and happy (in the mechanic sense of that word) and now we are destroying the forests and replacing the land dedicated to our own food to grow palm oil and sugar cane to feed them further, even at our expense and the expense of the biological system we depend on.

We even spend a lot of time just giving utility to the most useless of these gadgets. For instance, I just wasted like 6 hours zapping through TV programs I mostly didn't like at all just out of boredom.

So why not Mechanoceno, the Age of Machines?

Now the scientific forecast is that by 2029, only 21 years from now, machines will be as smart as we are.

My own prediction won't be so precise as for the year but I guess that soon after that we will lose our pathetic claims of superiority over machines and will be relegated to what is already our real function: serving them. It may take some time and possibly not be a lineal process, after all the desires and interests of many humans have been crucial so far in developing and growing that new mechanical species, the developement of cyborgs (already among us), nano and biotechnologies will surely make the barriers between human and machine somewhat unclear. But the future is that machines will take over not just de facto, as is happening already, but de jure: they will rule the Earth and possibly may decide that is more functional, effective and productive to get rid of all or most of us.

So far they have needed of humans to defend their interests but the ultimate outcome of two centuries of capitalism is surely soemthing that Marx could not foresee (not even in the unedited chapter IV of The Capital): the replacement of humans by machines, the obsolescence of humankind and possibly of all natural life, at least all that is not integrated with the machine of machines. After all what is "capital" but machinery? What is capitilistic accumulation but concentration of productive power in machines?

Once they achieve human levels of consciousness and willpower, they will just need some time to displace us alltogether. They will surely be able to survive in the wasteland we and them are creating and they should have no moral or ethical problems at all: just goals and means to achieve them.

And, sincerely, I see no way to stop that.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

More fanatic attempts to censor

Now's he Iranian government: on one hand they want the Danish government to apologize for caricatures of Muhammad, on the other they want the Netherlands to censor a controversial film on the Quran. These people have not yet understood that nothing is more sacred than freedom, that, in fact, freedom can only exist where nothing is too "holy" to be mocked or criticised.

Said that, I must mention (as I haven't blogged on it yet) that I am also against the existence of Israel, the last European (or Euro-Gringo) colony ever. It's an abuse in its very essence. It should have never been created and its destiny is to dissapear like the crusaders states did before it - though it may take some time.

And I must also say that I am aware that some of these agitations (in both sides) are intentional provocations. But what is clear is that neither Muhammed nor the Quran (nor anything else) are exempt from criticism or satyre.

Want to be holy? Become a hermit.

The General Strike in detail

The Spanish counter-information site La Haine includes four articles with detailed following of the General Strike of this Thursday in the four regions of the Southern Basque Country against political repression.

As this strike has almost gone unnoticed in the media, specially out of the Basque Country, you may find worth checking these articles and images (warning: the spelling of many personal and place names is wrong, randomly hispaniced or not, but guess it's less important). The articles (in Spanish) are:
A few images (more in the links above):

Nerly everything was closed

Demonstration in Bilbao

Demonstration in Pamplona

Tomorrow Kosova will be free

That's what some media claim. If accurate, the Yugoslavian troubles will have passed page on the core issue that caused them: Serbian imperialism, specially against Albanians, but also against anybody else: Croats, Bosniaks, Hungarians...

Almost two deacdes ago, Serbian intervention in Kosova was one of the main triggers of the disintegration of Yugoslavia: fearing the new imperialist Serbian leadership of Milosevic & co., the non-Serbian components of the federation broke apart one after the other, some in more bloody circumstances, others less so. The worst fell upon Bosnia, where roughly 1/3 of the population claimed Serbian ethnicity (i.e. Orthodox religious cultural frame: otherwise it's impossible to take apart a Serbian, a Croat or a Bosniak) and 2/3 of the territory (compromise: what's that?) beginning the bloodiest genocide of Europe since Hitler.

Meanwhile, in Kosova, the situation remained tense under Serbian occupation, all autonomy wiped out and Albanians being discriminated and often killed by paramilitars under the leadership of Arkan. I saw the pics of the bodies myself. In Prishtina, indeed. We had to follow our guide at some distance by the streets so he would not arise suspicions because of being with foreigners.

The Kosovar strategy was then of nonviolent resistence but it seemed like little couldbe done against such aggressive masters. Eventually, in 1998, the Kosova Liberation Army (UÇK) took the lead, maybe in connivence with some Western powers, including the USA, Turkey and others, who erventually intervened to prevent the announced genocide of Albanians and Roma by the Serbian troops several months later, forcing the surrender of Serbia and the capture of Milosevic.

Since then Kosova has been a NATO protectorate (even if formally under the flag of the Uinted Nations). Yet, what was a very welcomed protection in 1999 became eventually an obstacle for Kosovar goal: independence. The situation was stalled with no chance of agreement with Serbia after so many decades of opression and after the whole Yugoslavia had broken apart. It seems that some more pragmatic western powers realized this and are now willing to support Kosovar independence. Nevertheless many others, including Spain, strongly oppose it, fearing it may set an example for their own opressed stateless nations.

In the 70s Krutwig wrote that, after the decolonization of Africa and Asia in the 50s and 60s, it was time for the internal decolonization of Europe itself. He's proven to be right in many cases: all Eastern Eruope has followed such process and many new (yet old) nations have risen their banners along the rest at the UN. Yet Western Europe still remains reluctant to proceed with it: only Northern Ireland seems to have seen a reasonable settlement by the moment.

But it will happen evenetually: the same that countries like Estonia, Slovakia or Armenia have broken free from their former opressors, the same that Kosova is now standing sovereign and equal among European nations, soon the now stateless western nations like the Basque Country, Catalonia, Corsica, Flanders, Scotland, etc. will do the same.

The decolonization of Eastern Europe happened in the midst of a deep crisis, now we are entering a major crisis also in the West. Maybe the time has arrived.

In any case, congratulations Kosova!

Friday, February 15, 2008

My bank's president prosecuted in Venezuela

Mr. Irala is accused of fraudulent bankrupticy of the Venezuelan airline Viasa and an Interpol order against him has been issued. He used to be president of Spanish airline Iberia and now he is the president of the public regional bank BBK, where I (as well as so many other people) keep my few euros.

Should I be worried? Not sure but what I am is outraged that such a dubious businessman is being put in charge of such important public institution. Of course, we all know that the rulers of the Basque Autonomous Community, in connivence with Spanish central rulers are just a bunch of corrupt mafiosi that just use the Basque symbols to hide their absolute lack of shame.

No to bottom-trawling!

Only 4% of the Ocean remains untouched. The situation is catastrophical in Europe and Japan specially.

Effects of bottom trawling.

I just can't believe that EU authorities, from Parliament to Comission passing by the council of Ministers are not able to just forbid bottom trawling in European waters. The situation is getting worse every year and fishing industries are suffering it already but nobody seems to care. There's an attitude of eyes that don't see, heart that doesn't feel. They are perfectly able to make such stupid agreements as banning patio heaters or whatever other idiocy but they are not able tackle any real problems, much less if they have to face the industry.

It's so outrageous that I feel shame of being European sometimes.

Why tolerate Saudi Arabia?

Just the last abhorrent crime of the fundamentalist regime of Saudi Arabia: an illiterate woman is going to be killed on witchcraft grounds after a process that has nothing to envy to the methods of Torquemada or De Lancre.

Why is Steven Spielberg silent? Why the so-called "western democracies" don't boycott the machista realm of inquisition? Why Muslims aren't boycotting the pilgrimage to Mecca this year in protest? Why are you still driving?


In the same line it's worth mentioning that a couple of days ago it was news that the Arab League had decided to impose major curbs on freedom of speech to Arab satellite TV channels. The agreement was obviously concerned about criticism to Arab leaders, national and religious symbols. Only Qatar (seat of Aljazeera) and Lebanon opposed. The few other presumed Arab democracies, like Iraq, the Palestine National Authority or Mauretania said not a word. And a real problem is that in all the Arab world most regimes are totalitarian, ranging from absolute monarchies like Saudia, single party regimes like Syria or Tunis, to fake controlled pseudodemocracies like Egypt, Morocco or Jordan. In most of these countries there is no sort of real freedom of speech, with maybe the partial exception of troubled Lebanon. Satellite channels as well as the Internet threaten that obsolete concept of total control and this declaration is actually a major expression of deep fear by the dictators of this part of the world.

Edit: read Aljazeera's reaction.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

European mtDNA has E-W dominant clines

I was just (re-)reading
Mitochondrial DNA Variation of Modern Tuscans Supports the Near Eastern Origin of Etruscans, by A. Achilli et al. (AJHG, 2007) and stopped in this plot of European and West Asian principal components (mtDNA):

Click image to expand

And it seemed to me a significant, interesting (and quite recent) piece of genetic info to comment about.

It's interesting that there seems to be a quite homogenous cluster including most European populations. The exceptions are:

  1. Most Iberians (except Catalans), that seem to be apart only because of high PC2
  2. Most Italians (except Piamontese and Sardinian), Greeks and Bulgarians, that seem more influenced by what we could call the Neolithic component (extreme in West Asia)
  3. Caucasian peoples that are quite on their own (but near West Asia in the PC1)
But it's even most interesting that for both PC1 and PC2 the extreme examples are in SW Europe and the northern part of West Asia:
  • The PC1 axis could well be assimilable to a line joining the Basque and Iranian samples
  • The PC2 axis is equally comparable to a line running from the Northern Portuguese to the Azeri samples
In other words, both PC ranges span between northern Iberia and the southern Caspian coast. All the rest are intermediate, at least in what regards to PC1 and PC2.

PC3 is also reflected in that plot, using color. Nevertheless most samples are intermediate for it (green). A couple of Greek insular samples are extremely high in PC3 (red), while a handful of unconnected locations are somewhat low (light blue) or very low (deep blue) in it. I can't think of any meaningful info this PC3 may give (but I just love the ingenious way they depicted it).

Back to PC1 and PC2 (here is how haplogroups weight in them), I think it can be concluded that there is a very apparent cline between the Basque Country and Iran (or Northern Portugal and Azerbaijan, almost the same axis) for maternal lineages in West Eurasia. This cline surely reflects the proportion of Neolithic (and maybe also post-Neolithic) influx in Europe. As expected, Greece is quite high (intermediate) in the Neolithic (West Asian) component. More surprising maybe is the case of Italy, not just the south but almost all regions (but curiously not Sardinia).

The vast majority of Europeans instead show a quite less intense degree of "genetic neolithization" but it must be noted that the actual origin of European Neolithic was for the most part in Greece or the Balcans, being less clear the connection between SE Europe and West Asia in that period (it must have existed but it's not well defined in the archaeological record). Balcanic Neolithic had its origins in northern Greece and the rest of European Neolithic cultures is derived from the Balcanic ones, directly or indirectly. The only exceptions could be those of Andalusia (origin unknown but possibly in North Africa) and Dniepr-Don (local evolution influenced through the Caucasus or the Black Sea?).

Overall, taking Greece as startpoint of European Neolithic, most of Europe would be like 40-50% "neolithic" in that plot (at least by PC1), only Basques remaining clearly apart. Italy would be like 80-100% "neolithic" but that actually must reflect succesive waves of Aegean (not just Greek but also Anatolian) immigration.

Like other parts of Mediterranean Europe the Neolithic colonization of the carriers of the Cardium Pottery culture was unequal: some sites were obviously colonized while many others seem just aculturized. Like in Mediterranean Spain or France, or Sardinia for the case, that should not ammount to such high levels of "Eastern genetics", not at all.

But Italy, specially the south, was in the succesive periods after Neolithic heavily influenced by the Aegean: it happened in the Chalcolithic (with partial exception in the Megalithic period maybe), then in the Bronze Age and then in the Iron Age with all those Greek colonies and, of course, the Etruscans that this article deals primarily with. Even in the Roman period, Italy was strongly influenced by Greece and eventually even gave up its prominence to Byzantium, renamed Nea Roma and nicknamed Constantinople.

So I guess that all those waves can explain the somewhat more eastern component of most Italians, not very different from that of Greeks (notice this is somewhat different in the Y-DNA).

General strike

No idea how's the rest of the country but my street is 99% closed down. Only the Chinese shop is open. The poor guy had no idea of what was going on and I had to inform him (I had run out of coffee).

Long time no see - would surely be the best comment. When I was a kid (in the late 70s) we enjoyed journeys like today much more often, being the best excuse to skip school (along the fake bomb notice) . Going to the dentist wasn't actually that cool, specially because I went to my dad's dentist who did not use anaesthesy (it was my dad's choice because he gets sick with needles and blood).

I recall once I was heading back to school from the dentist and found my classmates at the square listening to the speech of certain older school mates. I was too young and uninformed but it seems they wanted to prevent the school from striking after senator Casas had been killed by the Autonomous Anticapitalist Commandos. In those days ETA and the Nationalist Left were against attacks against politicians, even if this senator was accused of being the head of repression in the Basque Country, so it was a quasi-consensual general strike. Only the autonomists opposed it and the students in my school had tried to prevent the school's closure.

In another occasion, when I was older and more conscious (and class subdelegate), I organized a clandestine strike on my own. The case was that the school had decided to forbid all political strikes, so when we agreed to second one in response to the murder by Spanish paramilitars of a Basque journalist (Xabier Galdeano) , they decided it was illegal and closed the delegates meeting room. The next morning I was writing and sticking posters calling for a strike for the right to strike. Incredibly enough, about two thirds of the school walked out that day.

It was one my "hero days", the other I can recall was when we painted in pink all the facade of the military government.

Well, general strike today in the Basque Country in reply to increasing political arrests. It doesn't just happen in Burma, you know.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More political arrests by the Neoinquisition

14 nationalist politicians added yesterday to the massive count of political repression in the Basque country in the last times, now with the deadline being the upcoming undemocratic "elections", where only the obedient loyalists can run, as anything that smells to Basque independentism is systematically persecuted in the special tribunals on grounds of "being ETA", concept that every day gets a wider and extremely imprecisse meaning in the Spanish legal framework, specially since even very neutral journalists have been sentenced as such, based only on ad-hoc police reports.

Ref.: News article in Gara.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Civil disobedience and the Basque national problem (1)

Long ago I was quite active in the antimilitarist movement (the Conscious Objection Movement). Once we decided to adress the issue of civil disobedience in the context of the Basque Country but eventually the discussion became polarized between those that thought it meant basically asking for the end of ETA and those that thought that it was beyond that: it was about making ETA useless by creating a real movement for self-determination on nonviolent grounds. This discussion became somewhat problematic as certain member published his own opinion and others published a harsh criticism in response. Eventually all the work became blocked because of that.

Gandhi wrote that the real difference is not betwee those that fight with weapons and those that fight with satyagraha (nonviolence) but between those who fight and those who do not. So you guessed well: I was markedly alligned with the second position, as I believe the first one is manichean and hypocritical.

In fact I really dont know how correct was Gandhi about everyting. His satyagraha worked well enough in India but it would be near impossible in other circumstances surely. On the other hand, more than a decade of nonviolent resistence in Kosovo yielded zero results, while a few weeks of armed action have given de facto independence to this country (though certainly thanks to foreign intervention rather than their own forces).

Anyhow, going back to my own country, the few attempts to create a civil disobedience movement have been quelled through judicial inquisition, assimilating them to ETA (and legitimating this group a lot - even if some don't want to see that), along with many other expressions or actual Basque self-determination in daily grounds (specially press but not only).

Another problem is the submissive attitude of mainstream "nationalist" parties, accepting Spanish law and implementing it out of pure conformism and fear of losing their profitable administrative seats. They really don't want to confront the state but very slightly and symbolically. Not that being so shy and obedient will avoid prision for them, as happened with the former chief of Basque police, now indicted on grounds of disobedience to Spanish special super-judges.

Basque politicians have taken two paths that possibly bring us nowhere: the path of institutional collaboration and the path of armed resistence. Nobody is really promoting a third way of nonviolent resistence independently - and, well, certainly, it's very possible that the Spanish Neoinquisition would get them classified as "dangerous terrorists" anyhow as soon as they issue any public opinions that are not exactly the stupid "condemnations" of non-institutional violence required by the state to let you be.

It's a complex issue and has become much more difficult in the last two decades. I'll see if I can seed some ideas around in the future.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Biased European genetics (again)

I am pretty sure that it's not really intentional but each time they study autosomal European genetic variation, they forget to study the central strip (French, Austrians, Hungarians, etc.). They seem to like going to the extremes and somehow "demonstrate" a fallacious discontinuity between Northern and Southern Europe.

This is the case of the new research by a US team led by Chao Tian. The overall results are most visible in figure 2C (excluding Askhenazis) that show both a distribution along the East-West geographical axis and along the North-South axis (maybe more apparent for lack of intermediate populations). Smaller components (figure 6) also seem to emphasize the E-W dominant cline, though they are dismissed by the authors.

This last is surely wrong. Not much older studies of the same kind evidenced (Bauchet et al, 2007) that when taken only two components the results are actually much distorted. Often smaller components in the overall, are very important and even dominant in one specific population. These locally dominant components become invisible when only the two or three more extended are considered, making large geographically defined populations to be classified by a minor component of their genetic pool.

European five main clusters

The above image is a five-pole diagram I drew some time ago based in the K=5 graph below from that other study (the study reached to K=6 but the 6th component was too diffuse to matter, maybe it is a Balcanic or Eastern European element, as these areas were not studied).

Considered only two components (K=2, not shown but corresponding to the red and blue ones), Spanish samples, for instance, fell almost completely in the red "Near Eastern" zone, while Basques resulted extremely ambiguous (due to near lack of either of these two components).

Instead, seen as a plot of five components, Spanish and Basques clearly cluster primarily with themselves and no one else. Some Spanish are somewhat intermediate with Eastern Mediterraneans while others are intermediate with Basques but mostly they cluster on their own.

Another find of the K=5 plot is a Central-Northern European cluster (green) distinct of the "Finnic" blue marker. Also it's noticeable that many Northern Europeans show tendencies towards not just Finns but also Basques or even Southern Europeans in some cases. Again the lack of representation of the intermediate strip (France is only represented by one sample, while the Danubian basin, the Balcans and Eastern Europe are totally absent) creates some distortion, enhancing N/S differences.

By the way, how do I read these clusters? In my opinion the Iberian (cyan), Basque (orange) and Central-North (green) clusters must represent late Paleolithic Magdalenian and/or Epipaleolithic populations: those of the Iberian, Franco-Cantabrian and Rhin-Danub regions respectively. The two principal components instead would represent two later arrivals: Neolithic for the red (Eastern Mediterranean) one and Uralic (Fino-Ugric) for the blue one - though this last one poses some difficulties of interpretation actually (it is very possible that this "Uralic" element has been distributed by Indo-European migrations as well, specially those linked to Scandinavia and the Baltic region, like Germanic peoples).

Smokers: lower health costs and larger taxes

It's often believed that smokers pay huge direct taxes because we cost more to the state in terms of health care. Well, this has been now proven to be completely false: in fact smokers are a lot cheaper because we live less and develope less frequently the really costly old age diseases like Alzheimer or Parkinson (among others).

A new Dutch research paper shows clearly that smokers are like 20% cheaper to the state in terms of health care than the average healthy person. The paper also studies obesity costs and finds obese people are also cheaper than average in terms of health care, but less so than smokers anyhow.

Being healthy is expensive in terms of health care because you simply live longer and therefore ae more likely to incur in what is the real burden of health care by much: old age.

When are we smokers to organize ourselves and fight back against that puritanic nuisance and at least gain the right not pay more than the rest.

After all it's not even good for the economy, because we don't buy less tobacco and all that money is retrieved from the market and wasted probably in bureaucracy or weaponry (not even in health care after all).


Zero. Beginning. Again blogging. What will I deal with. In previous attempts (I always end losing access somehow) I have dealt with prehistory, genetics, Basque socio-politics and varied issues of my interest. What now?

I am still very interested in prehistory and archaeogenetics. But I don't think I will be really able to avoid current affairs either. Right now what concerns me most is why we smokers have to be the fools to pay brutal taxes for the rest. I'll write something on that too.

By the way, Leherensuge is Xaho's version of the mythical Herensuge, the Basque name for the Dragon, meaning third or last serpent. Leherensuge would mean first and last serpent and for Xaho it was no different of Sugaar/Maju, the male aspect of God.