New blogs

Leherensuge was replaced in October 2010 by two new blogs: For what they were... we are and For what we are... they will be. Check them out.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Gibbon-human genomes compared.

This could be the image of the week or the year, if this blog had such a section. A comparison between two very different representatives of the Hominoidea superfamily, also known as apes or primates without tail.

It comes from the paper Evolutionary Breakpoints in the Gibbon Suggest Association between Cytosine Methylation and Karyotype Evolution, by Lucia Carbone et al. And represents the traslocations of genes in gibbons relative to humans. In their own words:

The lines in the inner circle represent inter-chromosomal (red) and intra-chromosomal (blue) rearrangements in gibbon relative to human. The outer circles provide genomic context. The outermost circle displays human chromosomes along with genomic coordinates and G-banding stains (NCBI Build 36.1). Purple lines represent human segmental duplications from the UCSC Segmental Dups Track. ( Orange lines represent gibbon segmental duplications we predicted based on read coverage. Green lines represent human genes from the UCSC RefSeq Genes Track (

They suspect that hypomethilation, an epigenetic phenomenon, may have been the responsible of so many translocations.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Transgenerational persistence of epigenetics

A new open access study highlights that epigenetic changes can persist through many generations. While the researched worked with plants, the situation is surely very much the same with animals and humans.

F. Johannes et al., Assessing the Impact of Transgenerational Epigenetic Variation on Complex Traits. PLoS Genetics, 2009.

Loss or gain of DNA methylation can affect gene expression and is sometimes transmitted across generations. Such epigenetic alterations are thus a possible source of heritable phenotypic variation in the absence of DNA sequence change. However, attempts to assess the prevalence of stable epigenetic variation in natural and experimental populations and to quantify its impact on complex traits have been hampered by the confounding effects of DNA sequence polymorphisms. To overcome this problem as much as possible, two parents with little DNA sequence differences, but contrasting DNA methylation profiles, were used to derive a panel of epigenetic Recombinant Inbred Lines (epiRILs) in the reference plant Arabidopsis thaliana. The epiRILs showed variation and high heritability for flowering time and plant height (~30%), as well as stable inheritance of multiple parental DNA methylation variants (epialleles) over at least eight generations. These findings provide a first rationale to identify epiallelic variants that contribute to heritable variation in complex traits using linkage or association studies. More generally, the demonstration that numerous epialleles across the genome can be stable over many generations in the absence of selection or extensive DNA sequence variation highlights the need to integrate epigenetic information into population genetics studies.

Not all is hardcoded in the genome, the program can be and is in fact altered by "softer" means, means that have nevertheless certain transgenerational persistence. This way the phenotype is changed without need for the genome to mutate. Non-genetic variants appear around a basic genic core, increasing variability and potentially adaptability in the short run too.

Zionist settlements to court... in Canada

This may sound silly but Canada is the most Zionist state outside Israel itself (and ahead of the USA). So it is a judicial landmark that could force Canadian (and by extension all Western) companies to pull out of the Zionist colonization effort, which is against international law.

Al Jazeera: Canada to consider settlement suit.

Activists filed the suit against Green Mount International and Green Park International - two Canadian companies contracted to build in the settlement of Modiin Illit, in a Montreal court, where the companies are registered.

In the three-day hearing at Quebec Superior Court in Montreal beginning on Monday, they will argue Bilin's land is subject to the rules and obligations of international law because the West Bank has been under Israeli military occupation since 1967.

The suit asks the court to halt all construction and to demolish the homes the companies have reportedly built in the settlement.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Military coup in Honduras

Is it the first military coup in Latin America since the Reagan era?
Excepting the invasion of Haití and the failed coup attempt against Chávez and the foiled murder attempt against Morales... that's it.


BBC: Troops arrest Honduran president.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Free Gaza sails again

Again a ship from Free Gaza is heading to the besieged ghetto of Palestine to deliver humanitarian aid. They carry medical supplies, crayons, toys and cement (all revised by the Larnaca port authorities). The Israeli authorities have been notified of their arrival and warned not to attack them, putting the lives of their tripulants in danger.

More info at Free Gaza.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Nice Y-DNA map of Africa

Argiedude at Anthroforum has been making a huge effort compiling the available Y-DNA data for Africa south of the Sahara. The following map is the result:

(click to expand, large image)

A smaller version can be found HERE (useful for rapid comparisons but the legend is not readable and lacks the locator inset).

I think it is a most interesting piece of info and therefore I reproduce it here with permission.

Source: Anthroforum (you can find the raw data there as well). Author Argiedude.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Alfonso Sastre on trial for opinion

The neofascist anti-Basque organization Manos Limpias ("Clean Hands") has denounced the octogenarian writer and recent candidate to the European Parliament, Alfonso Sastre, for an opinion article. According to ML, the article makes "threats" and hence they require he is judged for "collaboration with armed gang" (source).

Once and again freedom of speech and even will of peace is quelled by the friends of the eternal war between that abhorrence called Spain and the peoples imprisioned inside. Because all that Sastre does in that article is to express his more than reasonable worries about the perpetuation ad infinitum of the Hispano-Basque war and even the risk of worsening, as the neofascists may decide any day to begin some sort of genocide (in reference to the express wish of PP leader A. Iturgaiz that Basque nationalist be "fumigated"). He in fact suggested that such genocidal threat by the noefascist leader should be prosecuted by the public attorneys. But see how things are in the Spanish "democracy": it is Sastre, like Brecht before him, the one prosecuted in the end.

He makes a, not too hopeful, appeal to the PSOE (social-democrats) to "recover some of their lost honor" and not to allign with the gas chambers dreams of Iturgaiz.

Would it be that way, God protect us!, because we would be awaited and threatened by times of great pain instead of peace, which will never happen obviously if what you decide is to annihilate a larger or smaller fraction of us in those gas chambers inspired by that petty individual Iturgaiz. Then, bad for us but also for you!

This is the only passage that could be maybe interpretated as some sort of threat. But it is obviously not any threat but either doomsaying (doomsaying surely justified on the light of what is actually going on) or a warning of moral sinking (also perfectly justified).

You can surely understand from this particular case the extreme lack of fundamental rights such as freedom of speech we Basques are suffering at the hands of Spain, who decides on arbitrary grounds who can issue threats (its friends) and who cannot even denounce them (its rivals), who decides who can run to elections and who cannot.

There is still a lot of grief ahead, I fear. But that won't stop us from standing for what is just and true.

Visitor map reset and year recount

Just got notification that the ClustrMaps geographic visitor counter is going to be reset. Seems it's been counting visitors for a whole year now, so the counter starts over.

So guess it's a good reason to post the current yearly stats for Leherensuge:

(click to expand)

9156 unique visits have stopped by (between the 08-09 Summer solstices) from the following administrative divisions:

  • More than 3000: USA.
  • More than 500: Spain, France and UK.
  • More than 100: Canada, Netherlands, India, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, Belgium and Italy.
  • More than 50: Finland, Portugal, Turkey, China, Sweden, Brazil, Israel (sic) and Mexico.
  • More than 25: Poland, Morocco, Norway, Greece, Japan, Czechia, Switzerland, Russia, Rumania, Hungary, South Africa and Singapore.
  • More than 10: UAE, Croatia, Ireland, Serbia, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Austria, South Korea, Bangladesh, Jordan, Denmark, Bulgaria, Latvia, Iran, Malaysia, Thailand, Argentina, European Union (eu domain probably), Pakistan, Slovakia and Egypt.
  • More than 5: Slovenia, Colombia, Chile, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Peru, Palestine Territory, Hong Kong, Lithuania, Tunisia, Lebanon, Taiwan and Algeria.
  • And many many other places with 5 hits or less.

For the ongoing counter, just scroll all the way down any page at Leherensuge.


Skull and Bones. Geronimo's ones, it seems.

Very curious, albeit brief, news item I just spotted at BBC:

US tries to stop Geronimo lawsuit

US officials have moved to block a legal bid by descendants of Apache leader Geronimo to have his remains reburied.

Geronimo's relatives say some body parts were stolen almost 100 years ago by members of a society linked to Yale University to keep in their clubhouse.

The relatives want to rebury the warrior, who died in 1909, near his birthplace in New Mexico.

But the justice department has asked a federal judge to dismiss their lawsuit.

The society, known as Skull and Bones, is alleged to have stolen some of Geronimo's remains from a burial plot in Oklahoma in 1918.

Remember when the electoral debate was raging in the USA some five years ago and the aspirant Mr. Kerry was asked what did it mean that both he and Mr. Bush had been members of the same elitist secret society at Yale Uniuversity? He rapidly dismissed the issue with a sharp answer: "nothing". But this did not stop people from researching and speculating on the meaning and importance of this society.

Since 1982 the records of members of this society are secret.

It is at least surprising that the US justice department has been so quick in intervene in this issue, confirming somehow the suspicions that float around the club.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Doublespeak on Israel

Doublespeak (sometimes called doubletalk) is language constructed to disguise or distort its actual meaning, often resulting in a communication bypass. Doublespeak may take the form of bald euphemisms (e.g., "downsizing" for layoffs) or deliberate ambiguity.

From Wikipedia.

This issue was already adressed by Noam Chomsky in his 1980s pamphlet on Palestine, so it's nothing new, at least for me. But Intifada blog has a good and brief article on it:

The language that absolves Israel.

Take a look.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Review of the electoral fraud at the EP elections

First of all, it seems I had dreamed of such thing well in advance (whoa with my psychic powers!), see
the post at my Dream's Dairy of May 31, one week before the fraud. Just noticed it, as I had not posted any other dream since then and got me quite surprised when I found it today.

Now that I have (once again) discovered that matter is not all that matters, we can go on with the factual part:

Inciativa Internacionalista (II-SP) has appealed to the provincial and central electoral boards (juntas) and has announced that it will follow the whole legal process, going to court and even to the European tribunals if need be.

As I reported previously there were three different types of manipulations, mostly but not only against II-SP:
  1. Votes counted in the acts that did not appear in the government official results (they had been transfered to other lists). These have been restored to their legitimate recievers in the Basque Country but is anything but clear elsewhere in the state.
  2. Votes declared blank, possibly by means of just dropping the ballot inside to the floor. These are destroyed and cannot be reviewed. These were apparently the bulk of the fraud, with a massive increase of them state wide, in spite of no force calling for this kind of protest vote.
  3. Votes declared null on any pretext or consensual caprice by the local electoral board. These are preserved and could in theory be reviewed at the provincial boards. These were the second most important vector of fraud.
Additionally, it has been reported in many cases, notably in the Catalan Countries, that people who had voted for II-SP found later that there was not a single vote for this list at their polling stations' acts.

So II-SP has legally attempted to go to the provincial boards to get such null votes as well the other irregularities reviewed. In vain. In many cases they have not even been allowed in at all, in other cases they have been expelled and, finally, in the vast majority of cases, they have been simply denied access to the votes altogether.

All these irregularities are legally more than enough to get a repeat of the European elections in Spain. But knowing how the Spanish regime works, without any real check and balances nor democratic guarantees of any sort (at least not for those who are not in the official consensus), we can expect that the complain will be rejected once and again at all instances.

· Gara (in Spanish)
· Berria (in Basque)
· Previous posts: Democracy?, Massive vote rigging at EP elections in Spain.
· Iniciativa Internacionalista (mostly in Spanish)

Monday, June 15, 2009

My computer broke down

This Saturday. It would not even start at all. After much going around, trying this and that, I decided it was the BIOS. Guess it was just old enough for a computer: 6 years and a half. What happened with those machines that lasted for a whole lifetime?

I was quite worried because a typical new PC, even if prices have gone down somewhat is rather expensive for my surivalist economy. But luckily today I found one for only 189 euros, 220 after taxes. A brand new Athlon e-Machine with two years guarantee. And with Ubuntu installed and all. Just that it came without screen - but no big deal, really.

It's quite small and makes almost no noise. What an improvement in relation with the previous one!

This post is absolutely the first activity since I regained Internet access, just few minutes ago. My apologies for all the comments unanswered here or elsewhere. I will get to that later. Tomorrow probably.


Thursday, June 11, 2009


The situation of
massive vote rigging in the EP elections in Spain is very worrisome and basically means that democracy is just an empty word, something that is only valid for the institutional parties and not for any dissidents.

At the moment of writing this representatives of Internationalist Initiative - Solidarity among the Peoples had been expelled from the provincial recount at Barcelona (one of the provinces where this list would have got largest support and where vote tampering has been particularly notable) and forbidden access to the more than suspicious null votes in several other provinces, notably Guadalajara (but yesterday was also mentioned Valladolid).

Private citizens have now been able to confirm that in many cases their vote to this list was not even registered in the acts. This is the case at least in Valencia and Valladolid, though the information will surely grow as the official recount continues, for which the law allows for as much as four days.

It was also known today that, even if abstention has increased, the vote by mail has grown 2.5% but that in embassies like the one in Luxemburg, the list of II-SP was simply not an available option.

But even more worrisome is how ALL Spanish media are ignoring this issue altogether. Basque newspaper Gara even talks of a state omertá (omertá is the accomplice and fearful silence that surrounds the activities of the mafia in southern Italy). This includes media that in other circumstances would try to appear as critical.

Personally I think more in terms of institutional coup, because if such a political force like II-SP would happen to become a real alternative force throught the state, a true tool for fraternity among the peoples of Spain against the post-fascist pseudo-democratic regime, we could even start dreaming of a confederal republic, a socialist one, and that is something that the regime fears more than anything.

"I leave it all well tied up", these are arguably the most famous words of the former Spanish dictator F. Franco. The possibility of radical change in Spain is institutionally impossible, as is a more balanced power-sharing among the different ethnicities. If there is any slight chance that such hing could ever happen, then the institutional bloc will rally together against it, criminalize it, silence it and, if all that doesn't work, cheat in elections against it.

That is what happened this last Sunday.

And that is why democratic means in Spain are just off the counter for anyone who thinks different. So what options do we have left?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

USA: a bank-owned state

Interesting article of Al Jazeera's Samah el-Sahat:
Why America is a bank-owned state.

By "America" she means the USA, not the continent. She also mentions the UK, with a comparable economy.

Some interesting figures:

[In the USA] one per cent of the population have a quarter of all the wealth.

[In the UK] Back in 1989, chief executives pocketed 17 times more than average earners. By 2007, those same "captains of industry" were earning 75 times more than the average worker.

Now you know why your country may be rich but you're poor anyhow.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Massive rigging at EP elections in Spain

As I mentioned before there seems to have been way too many irregularities in this poll, apparently all with the sole objective of removing votes from the Internationalist Initiative list (II-SP), backed by the Basque Nationalist Left (among others).

While the whole details are still unclear, the total amount of suppressed votes in Spain as whole could be close to the 200,000, what would have given this list at least one seat in the Strassburg, possibly even more.

The total increase on suspicious null and blank votes in the state has been of 182,000, in spite of increased abstention. The blank vote has become this way "the third political force" in Spain, in spite that nobody was calling for such kind of protest vote modality.

This alone should raise eyebrows but the case is that the evidence of irregularities is at this stage much more detailed and clear. As I already wrote, in many Basque municipalities the votes to II-SP, as registered in the electoral acts, have been assigned by the government to other parties such as neofascist Democracia Nacional or other totally irrelevant lists, some of which have suddenly become formally the first political forces in towns like Amezketa, where they never ever before got a single vote.

This fraud is particularly concentrated in Gipuzkoa, within the Basque borders, though it has also been spotted in some Navarrese towns. The ammount of the vote rigging may be as large as to make II-SP the third political force in the whole southern Basque Country (while the official figures place it fourth instead).

But the situation is even much worse beyond the historical Basque borders. To begin with in many polling stations through Spain II-SP's ballots were not even present, what is in itself totally illegal. In many other cases the ballots had printing errors, what could have been served as pretext to declare them null. In several towns like Gandía, Málaga or Castelló it has been actually denounced that the same kind of transfer of votes spotted in Gipuzkoa has happened as well. In Barcelona province alone 33,000 null votes more than in the past election have appeared out of the blue, much of the same can be said of Madrid, where II-SP had some meaningful backers. In the different Castilian regions, the traditional vote for Izquierda Castellana (Castilian Left), that supported II-SP in these European polls, has fallen officially between 50 and 70%.

The cases are becoming more and more specific as I write: II-SP reports that in many polling stations in Catalonia, for example, voters of this list, who in some cases went together with friends or family to vote, have found that not a single vote was attributed to their option.

This kind of massive vote rigging has no precedent in a century and shows to what extremes is the Spanish post-fascist regime willing to reach to suppress democratic opposition if radical enough.

Luis Ocampo, speaker of II-SP asked all electoral agents of the list to go to the official provincial recounts that will take place today. He said that if the apparent irregularities are confirmed, they could even demand legally at court the nullification of the whole election, what, if accepted, would cause the process to be repeated. Nevertheless, if they have bothered to go so far, I guess that this is beyond the realistic possibilities.

The delegitimization of this rotten post-fascist democracy is reaching levels that were not really believed that could happen ever before. What next? And, another question, is the European Union going to turn a blind eye to this? If so, what level of degradation and corruption of democracy will they be ready to accept?

Sources: Gara, Iniciativa Internacionalista, EiTB.


The vast majority of the media is silencing this massive vote tampering. Today the official recount in all 52 Spanish provinces will take place and those irregularities that can be proven should be adressed there.

But that will not solve the issue of the 150,000 extra "blank votes" that probably were for II-SP in fact and that make up the bulk of the fraud.

Podcast: Interview with Luis Ocampo, speaker of II-SP on this issue at InfoZazpi Irratia.

The iregularities have not only affected II-SP: the coalition Europe of the Peoples-Greens, that incorporates several independentist parties from various nations of the Spanish state, has also reported similar irregularities in some towns.

Monday, June 8, 2009

European elections in the Basque Country and overall

Overview of the elections to the European Parliament follows.

In the Basque Country

As an exception, a list backed by the Basque Nationalist Left was allowed to run (not without difficulties) in the state of Spain. This list obtained very good results in the Southern Basque Country, well within the historical range of electoral support for this bloc. In the North, the independentists also kept their positions in comparison with the last EP polls five years ago. Overall the radical independentists got 14% of the vote in the Basque Country and are clearly the third force in Gipuzkoa and Navarre.

Above (click to enlarge): EP electoral results in the Basque Country in 2009 and 2004. From left to right:
- Green: Basque Nationalist Left (including votes declared null in 2004)
- Blue: Basque Nationalist Party (christian-democrats)
- Orange: other left-wing Basque Nationalists
- Light Brown: Spanish/French real Left (Ecologists, IU)
- Red: Spanish/French Social-Democrats (unionists)
- Light Blue: Spanish/French Right Wing (unionists; mostly neo-Gaullists and post-Francoists)
- Black: other/blank/null

In the North, the Europe Ecologie list, including a candidate of Abertzaleen Batasuna (Patriots' Union) and supported by another Basque social-democratic nationalist party (EA), totally displaced the PSF as second force. The Neo-Gaullist UMP remains as the first force though.

Spanish vote rigging

Alfonso Sastre did not get his EP seat but there have been many reports of irregularities, notably in Spain and Catalonia (EP polls have only one state-wide circunscription in Spain) but also in some towns of the Basque Country.

In these places (Villabona, Mungia, Usurbil, Elgoibar, Eibar, Legazpia, Mendaro, Orereta, Amezketa, etc.), the votes of II-SP were anotated in the acts under a different list, notably the Spanish fascist Democracia Nacional, list that has never gained any votes in these towns.

Out of the Basque Country the situation was much worse: there are reports of hidden ballots and other irregularities nearly in every polling station. Officially II-SP only got some 25,000 in the state (out of the Basque Country) in spite of having mobilized masses to campaign meetings in some cases.

As happened in the past in similar cases, it is more than likely that in most towns around Spain the votes for the Radical Left have been just dumped by agreement among the local election board members, wherever they did not have observers.

Hence it is almost sure that the actual support for II-SP, both in the southern Basque Country and in the rest of the state, was much higher in fact. It is very possible that a EP seat has been robbed by these means.

Europe: growth of New Left and Liberals

Overall the new EP shows few blocs clearly growing. These are: liberals (+15 seats, +23%), ecologists (+15 seats, +38%) and Europe of the Nations (+9, +35%). Socialdemocrats plummet (-40 seats, -20%) while conservatives and neo-communists keep their positions.

It is notable, I think, to see how the people is abandoning the classical "left" option of socialdemocracy, lately way too close to the right, in favor of new options like ecologists and ethnic nationalists but also in favor of the center-right.

Source: Gara (link 1, link 2 - PDF).

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Bilderberg Meeting 2009

I have already mentioned
the secretive meeting of the Western elite at Athens this year. Now Andrew G. Marshall reviews what seem to have been the contents of this meeting, centered in the economy (available at Global Research Center and at Voltaire Network).

It seems that the core issues of this secretive aristocratic meeting have included as central issue the current gloomy economic situation, and whether this will be a sharp and short depression or a long looming structural crisis, as most forecast. It seems that the Bilderberg billionaires and proconsuls want to make this a sharp crisis leading to an increased global government, by pushing ahead the more centralized but terribly undemocratic version of the EU, reinforcing the WHO and the IMF and expanding the NAFTA (ALCA) elsewhere into Latin America.

Nevertheless there seem to be opposed fractions within the hyper-rich and hyper-powerful. Some actually fear that the crisis will cause the collapse of their own power and the unsustainability of the system overall and want by any means a rapid recovery. While others seem to prefer to use the economic downturn into their benefit and push ahead even more radical imperial plans within this context.

One of the most troubling rumors is maybe that a plan has been proposed to dramatically reduce global population to some 2 billion people, in what would be the largest ever genocide of history. The worst thing about this is that they actually seem to have reached a consensus in this matter, though the details are unclear.

Another apparent consensus have been reached into destroying the US dollar's hegemony and creating a global currency instead, based on the expansion of IMF's special drawing rights (SDRs).

As I mentioned before, it is surprising that with the huge US military representation at the conspirational meeting, no informations have been leaked at all regarding the Iraq-Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan issues. This is odd to say the least and makes me suspect that the informations that are being leaked, even if accurate, are only part of the whole issue. The fact that next year's meeting will be held in Israel, suggests that Zionist global and regional projects, including this sensitive Euphrates-Indus region are high in the Bilderberg agenda in spite of not being unofficially even mentioned.

Also there is an interview with investigative journalist Daniel Estultin on the Athens meeting:


Peru massacres natives in oil-related protests

20-22 citizens and 9-12 policemen are said to have died in violent incidents at the Amazonian town of Bagua, near Ecuador. Other 30-36 civilians were also injured. Figures vary depending on sources.

The locals had been protesting against the new Peruvian laws that would allow for easier exploitation of Amazonian oil, lumber and mining resources by multinational corporations with no respect for the ecology of the rainforest or the health and rights of the natives.

Eventually the Peruvian government sent armed helicopters that opened live fire on the protesters killing many. This act has been denounced as the largest genocidal action in the alst 20 years.

The new ultracapitalist laws that the Peruvian parliament is set to approve have been massively rejected by the natives, who make up a sizeable fraction of all Peruvians, and the subsequent revolts have brought the government to declare the state of emergency in 5 regions.

Sources: Rebelión , BBC, Al Jazeera.

The Role of Geography in Human Adaptation

This is the title of an interesting new paper published at PLoS Genetics (open access):

G. Coop et al.,The Role of Geography in Human Adaptation. PLoS Genetics, 2009.

It is an extensive paper dwelling on the differences and smilitudes between human populations worldwide.

A major shortcoming is that only Pakistan has been sampled in South Asia and that the NE Africa, another important region in human population history has only one sample. Even if you don't want or can set a joint venture lab in Mumbai to go around the Indian laws on genetic material, you can always sample strategical places like Bangla Desh and Sri Lanka. And undersampling of the Nile valley and the Horn has no excuse whatsoever other than poor planning or intellectual laziness.

But these defects are way to common in global studies like this one so guess it's ok. It is still a worthy study anyhow.

Another possible shortcoming is that they use FST distances to estimate divergence when actually this measure can be very misleading, as far as I know.

One interesting finding is that genic alleles (i.e. those that do express in phenotype) are much more likely than non-genic ones to have extreme differences between populations at global level. This implies that these genes have been under effective selection. (See fig. 1)

Another one is that the populations studied can easily be classified in three groups: Africans (south of the Sahara), West Eurasians (including South Asians) and East Asians. These three groups show clear genetic differences (within human variability). Also East and West Eurasians share some genetics in contrast with Africans. (See fig. 3).

In this sense, figure 4 suggests different pigmentation adaptations (and their corresponding founder effects) for West and East Eurasians. This largely replicates the general structural findings even for some specific genes: Eurasians overall share the derived allele of hair-color related gene KITLG, but the derived allele of SLC24A5 (skin-color related) is almost exclusive of West Eurasians, while the derived allele of MC1R (related also to skin and hair color) is only dominant among East Asians and Native Americans (but not Melanesians). This seems to ratify the already known fact that the pigmentation evolution followed two somewhat different paths in West and East Asia, what in turn ratifies the coastal model of Eurasian expansion and rather rejects the alternative hypothesis of a Central Asian/Siberian corridor early on.

Finally, in the discussion section, they argue that while there is some clear evidence for positive selection of genic traits, this is comparatively weak and that random events such as founder effects and drift in early population history have been much more decisive in determining the differences between populations. That local parallel mutations, such as the ones found in pigmentation strategies, are clearly much more important than transfer of genes between populations.

The article also suggests that there may have been some gene flow between Africa and West Eurasia of which East Asia has been instead excluded. This, they argue, could explain the greater FST distance of East Asians, as they know of no other possible processes behind this phenomenon.

Cultural complexity generated by mere numbers

And not any internal evolutionary change such as brain size or whatever.

Late Pleistocene Demography and the Appearance of Modern Human Behavior
Adam Powell, Stephen Shennan, Mark G. Thomas

The origins of modern human behavior are marked by increased symbolic and technological complexity in the archaeological record. In western Eurasia this transition, the Upper Paleolithic, occurred about 45,000 years ago, but many of its features appear transiently in southern Africa about 45,000 years earlier. We show that demography is a major determinant in the maintenance of cultural complexity and that variation in regional subpopulation density and/or migratory activity results in spatial structuring of cultural skill accumulation. Genetic estimates of regional population size over time show that densities in early Upper Paleolithic Europe were similar to those in sub-Saharan Africa when modern behavior first appeared. Demographic factors can thus explain geographic variation in the timing of the first appearance of modern behavior without invoking increased cognitive capacity.

Full article is behind paywall but you can read a press synthesis at Science Daily anyhow:

In the study, the UCL team found that complex skills learnt across generations can only be maintained when there is a critical level of interaction between people. Using computer simulations of social learning, they showed that high and low-skilled groups could coexist over long periods of time and that the degree of skill they maintained depended on local population density or the degree of migration between them. Using genetic estimates of population size in the past, the team went on to show that density was similar in sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and the Middle-East when modern behaviour first appeared in each of these regions. The paper also points to evidence that population density would have dropped for climatic reasons at the time when modern human behaviour temporarily disappeared in sub-Saharan Africa.


Dr Mark Thomas, UCL Genetics, Evolution and Environment, says: "When we think of how we came to be the sophisticated creatures we are, we often imagine some sudden critical change, a bit like when the black monolith appears in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In reality, there is no evidence of a big change in our biological makeup when we started behaving in an intelligent way. Our model can explain this even if our mental capacities are the same today as they were when we first originated as a species some 200,000 years ago.

"Ironically, our finding that successful innovation depends less on how smart you are than how connected you are seems as relevant today as it was 90,000 years ago."

This should be only so terribly obvious for us modern humans immersed in both high speed globalization and equally fast techno-cultural developement since some five centuries ago but still the monolith (i.e. the Judaistic myth of intelligence being a divine or otherwise extraterrestrial quality) remains stuck in our imaginary: we think of Paleolithic people as nearly chimpanzees who could not even light a fire (please!), when in truth they were just like you and me, just that their social-cultural enviroment was much more restricted: there were no public libraries back then, nor telephone, nor TV nor Internet: all knowledge was oral and you could only meet so many people in your life.

It seems that there were then some moments and places where population density thrived beyond what was normal for UP standards. This happened in Africa c. 100,000 years ago, when, coincident with a wet period, the first ornaments are found in almost identical styles from North to South of the continent. This happened in SW Europe through the Upper Paleolithic, notably Magdalenian, when cave art first appeared and reached heights that are still admired. And this happened in West Asia in the eve of Neolithic as well. And there are probably other cases as well.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Financial crisis: Venezuela sets example

While Washington and London, for example, are giving away public resources to banks without any clear payback, Caracas instead is not happy with private banks not fulfilling their economic role:

The Associated Press news agency quoted Chavez as saying that banks needed to intervene in the financial system and provide credit to people buying houses or producing food, rather than generate massive earnings for their owners.

Chávez has threatened with sanctions if banks keep draining instead of helping the economy. What seems the way to go rather than massively indebting a whole nation for the benefit of a handful of corrupt greedy bankers.

From Al Jazeera.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Most ancient pottery could be Chinese

From Yuchanyan cave, at
Hunan, to be precise. New research by a US-Israeli team at this important southern Chinese cave suggests that the pottery fragments found there may be older than those found in Japan. They claim that the Yuchanyan pottery must be some 17,500-18,300 years old, while the Japanese pottery is from the 17th milennium BP, somewhat more recent.

The research goes beyond pottery age and it attempts to deal with the complex problematic of stratigraphy in caves, where often the very human activity that left the remains was also disturbing them at the same time.

Some of the studied pottery fragments (from BBC)

According to co-author D. Cohen:

The way people move around and mess up caves is very difficult to see archaeologically. Imagine you have a fire and then people come in again have another fire and another, so you have the ashes of all these fires building up but at the same time people are digging and clearing, pushing things to the side; this messes things up.

If you have an open-air site, you sometimes get a very clean 'layer cake' stratigraphy. Archaeologists before haven't looked at this closely enough to realise what's going on in caves so they interpret this stratigraphy as a layer cake. But in actuality, it's 'lenses' of stuff that's been mixed up and moved around.

Research paper: E. Boaretto et al., Radiocarbon dating of charcoal and bone collagen associated with early pottery at Yuchanyan Cave, Hunan Province, China. PNAS 2009. (Open access PDF).

In the press: BBC: 'Oldest pottery' found in China.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Israeli terrorism live

You won't probably see this on your TV, what tells a lot about the neutrality of corporate and "public" media and the supression of real freedom of speech in the West and elsewhere.

From: In Gaza.

Inuit throat singing

I was just watching some documentary on TV, a documentary on Inuits, and suddenly saw... well heard... something that really affected me in a quite unusual way. I'd say it awakened my kundalini - yes, it was quite clearly that - all of sudden.

I had never heard that before: Inuit throat singing. It was fascinating, otherworldly, the singers were like making love. Flippant.

They said that women learn that kind of unique singing style from birdmen whose bodies are covered in tatoos. And that reminded me a lot of the legend of Sedna.

So the film ended and I decided tho research it. First target YouTube, of course. I found quite impressive performers but, sadly, nothing like what I found in that documetary - not so revealing, so to say.

Maybe the closest thing I found could be this performance (low quality image but great music):