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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

19th century replica iron cargo boat

Built by Itsas Begia, a society from Ziburu (Lapurdi) focused in the preservation and recovery of Basque mariner history, the boat Brokoa arrived yesterday to Zumaia (Gipuzkoa) after several days of coasting from Portugalete (Biscay).

The Brokoa is a replica of 19th century cargo boats, known as txalupa haundi (broad boat), that sailed along the Basque coast carrying prime quality iron ore from the area of Bilbao to the many forges spread through the country (they were built not where lumber was aboundant and rivers could power their machinery, the ore could always be brought from elsewhere).

The ship is 13.7 m long and 3 m wide, with a max. depth of 80 cm, holding two masts 12 and 8 m high. It could carry some 10 tons of material, normally iron but was also common to complement the cargos with other less important merchandises, known as pacotilla (mariner word that now means in common Spanish "fake" or "low quality").

The journey they are now replicating began at the Biscaine port of Portugalete, north of Bilbao, where the original txalupa haundiak used to load the iron from nearby Somorrostro Valley. There the ancestors of the Brokoa were revised by the "ticket-seller major", who made sure that 8 maravedis per iron quintal were paid to the provincial government as taxes. From Portugalete they sailed to Muskiz and Castro Urdiales, where they visited a historical forge in good preservation state. From Castro they sailed to Plentzia, where are the forges of Butron (Gatika) and then to Lekeitio, where steel bars for naval construction used to be made.

And from Leketio, they made it to Zumaia in just three hours. The port of Zumaia used to supply all the industry of Western Gipuzkoa, along the Urola basin. In this locality they visited an old store still preserved.

Today they must have already done their last coastal journey to Donibane Lohitzune (St. Jean-de-Luz) in Lapurdi, also in some 3 hours. From Donibane, the iron used to be carried up the river Urdazubi to Azkaine in Navarre, where the iron ore was stored for its use at the forges of the low Pyrenees, like the one at the Monastery of San Salvador of Urdazubi. In that monastery will the iron end its journey this time too, after an oxen-pulled cart brings it to its destiny like more than a century ago.

Historian Gonzalo Dúo explains that this type of coastal navigation was only made in summertime, when the sea was calm, and always in daylight. It was a way to make some money for people that in winter worked as fishermen in the same kind of ships. They carried as much mineral as they could, sometimes causing the ship's wreckage.

This kind of traffic, he argues, caused much stronger connections between the people of the coast, finding surnames of various local origins, scattered along the Basque coast, something that did not happen in the interior.

In July 2010 the Brokoa will be at the meeting of old ships at Brest (Brittany) and its owners are already planning a longer journey for it along the whole coast of the Bay of Biscay: from the Galician Bayona (at the border with Portugal) to the Basque Baiona (Bayonne) in Lapurdi. Maybe for 2011.

Source: Gara.

Ignorance is daring... specially when it claims itself holy

What follows would be quite funny, wouldn't it be because it's directly linked to the deaths of hundreds of people in what seems to be a somewhat serious threat to the secular system in Nigeria.

The "Taliban", as they are known in Nigeria, have raised in arms in order to suppress "Western" (secular) education that dares to claim such dangerous and erroneous things like that Earth is not flat and that rain is created by evaporation in the water cycle. The Nigerian "Taliban" leader, Mohammed Yusuf states it clear:

Like rain: we believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain. Like saying the world is a sphere. If it runs contrary to the teachings of Allah, we reject it. We also reject the theory of Darwinism.

Having a feeling of deja-vu... in Wacko, Texas... you know.

The Nigerian "Taliban" are right now being shelled by the army in their stronghold of Maiduguri, after they initiated a violent campaign that has claimed the lives of at least 140 people in just three days.

Source: BBC.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

South Asian microliths, second round

Thanks a lot to Ibra (and Manjunat, who is the original source, it seems) for sending me a copy of Petraglia's last paper, that otherwise should be publicly available in six months.

The research actually has two parts that somehow Petraglia wants to fuse: genetics and archaeology. I forewarn that I do not agree, on first read, with the genetic interpretation and that petraglia himself is an archaeologist, not a geneticist. There are important geneticists in the team though, like Toomas Kivisild and Mait Metspalu.


In any case, I fail to see how from the referenced genetic papers, the most recent one being Sun 2005, they conclude that South Asian M sublineages expanded so late. This must be inspired by a recent paper that did suggest a late expansion for SA M sublineages in comparison to the East, paper that I did not pay really any attention because it was behind a paywall. I can't even recall the authors (though guess it's from the Estonian team, considering its influence on this one).

I must note here that these estimates are contradictory with the model proposed by Atkinson 2007, that suggests that South Asia was already experiencing high and continuous demic expansion rates already since 55-50,000 BP.


The really important part, the one that takes most of the space and really provides important data, is the archaeological section, including a very interesting reconstruction of the climate and vegetation of South Asia some 30,000 years ago.

But the real substance is in the lithic sequences of the Jurreru Valley (Jwalapuram, Andra Pradesh, Southern India), where we can witness the following:

1. There is apparent human presence since c. 74,000 BP (also before, from Petraglia's older work in the same area). These people already used stone blades, characteristic of the UP cultures in West Eurasia (and in some East Asian cases too).

2. The existence of microblades (microliths) can be dated safely to at least 38,000 BP, though they do not become the dominant type of tool until c. 34.000 BP, when the presence of microblade cores is clear indication that they were made intentionally and not just by accident.

Other sites researched are:

Patna (Maharashtra Pradesh), where an ostrich egg-shell gave a radiocarbon date of c. 30,000 BP. Here flake blades are found since the early (>30 kya) stages, though the technology is described as being Middle Paleolithic. A trend towards microlithism is also detected since c. 30,000 BP.

A series of sites in Western Sri Lanka (Sabaragamuva province), dated from 38-36,000 BP to 28.500 BP, that have also yielded some microblade technology. These caves also provided the earliest known Homo sapiens remains of South Asia.

Southern Sri Lankan sites, Bundala and Patirajevala, show an early MP technlogy TL-dated since 70-64,400 BP, showing a gradual reduction of size of the artifacts. In the upper layer (dated to c. 28.500 BP) there is a clear change towards geometric microlithism.

Hence it seems reasonably clear that microlithic technology seems to have expanded from southern India and maybe Western Sri Lanka, where it may have begun as early as c. 38,000 BP (uncalibrated, should be before 40 kya after calibration), with strong signs of quotidiain usage c. 35,000 BP, and is found at Patna (a reference for possible expansion into other West and Central Eurasian regions), c. 30,000 BP (uncalibrated too).

From Archaeonews: oldest Taiwan hearth, Starcevo Neolithic 1000 years older

From Stone Pages'
Archaeonews we get some brief entries of significance this week:

1. Oldest Taiwan hearth is 20,000 years old. The Baisandong hearth is the oldest sign of human presence in the island, pushing the known arrival of humans back by 5000 years.

2. Dig at Vinkovci (Croatia) re-dates the Neolithic Starcevo culture as 1,000 years older. The new datation is from c. 6000 BCE (or 8000 years ago).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Did South Asians invent microliths some 38,000 years ago?

Also found
at Anthroforum, thanks to Ayepod, and sourced to Scientific American.

It seems that Michael Petraglia, who already surprised us some years ago with his discovery of pre- and post-Toba continuity at Jawalpuram, has now come to find that microliths are found in the subcontinent dating to c. 38,000 years ago.

South Asian microliths (below) compared with older tools (above). Each segment of the scale is 1 cm.

This may be one of the oldest worldwide dates for this curious technological phenomenon of blade reduction on Earth and may help to explain, maybe, the spread of Y-DNA macrohaplogroup P and its derived lineages R and Q, whose origins seem to be in the subcontinent.

Update: I have located the original paper and another divulgative article on it. Apparently Petraglia argues for 35-30,000 years ago (though these may be uncalibrated BP - unsure).

M. petraglia et al. Population increase and environmental deterioration correspond with microlithic innovations in South Asia ca. 35,000 years ago. PNAS 2009 (behind paywall by the moment).

And also check this article at New Scientist.

More inheritable epigenetic evidence

Hobo Girl
at Anthroforum points me to new research on how semi-inheritable epigenetic alters the psyche. The source being at Technology Review.

It reviews two recent researches:

In Feig's study, mice genetically engineered to have memory problems were raised in an enriched environment--given toys, exercise, and social interaction--for two weeks during adolescence. The animals' memory improved--an unsurprising finding, given that enrichment has been previously shown to boost brain function. The mice were then returned to normal conditions, where they grew up and had offspring. This next generation of mice also had better memory, despite having the genetic defect and never having been exposed to the enriched environment.
Nevertheless they lost the epigenetic improvement after few months of lack of stimulation.

In a second study, researchers found that rats raised by stressed mothers that neglected and physically abused their offspring showed specific epigenetic modifications to their DNA. The abused mice grew up to be poor mothers, and appeared to pass down these changes to their offspring.
This happened to some extent also when the epigenetically altered rats were fostered by other not stressed or violent rats.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Honduras coup turning into revolution

Honduran President, Manuel "Mel" Zelaya returned to Honduras via Nicaragua yesterday where he was welcomed by thousands of Hondurean citizens but also by a very strong military display, that attacked the people and eventually caused Zelaya's return to Nicaragua, as he declared he did not want to be "cause of violence".

The situation is still confuse and it is possible that the army has murdered citizens again, as the troops used live fire, injuring several.

Class war takes over Honduras

Meanwhile the situation in Honduras is turning into a popular revolution, as reported by local journalist Oswaldo Martínez to Gara:

After 24 days resistence is permanent. This is something unpredent in the history of the country. I am a block away from a barricade placed at the very center of San Pedro Sula, the industrial capital of the country. Resistence is very strong and organized. We have reports that the people has breached several military checkpoints. Road blockades begin at 9:00 and do not end till the night. There is a determined class war. This can't be stopped.

Yesterday was the second day of general strike in support for the President, that has been ranked as "a success" by the president of the Unitary Workers' Confederation of Honduras, Juan Barahona. The main harbours were completely blocked and the roads leading to Tegucigalpa were blocked for hours as well. Several emblematic buildings have been occupied by demonstrators as well.

For Oswaldo Martínez, the coupists never expected such a reaction from the people. They got their calcualtions totally wrong.

Clinton barks

I just watched at BBC International to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton barking at Zelaya's attempt to restore legality and democracy in the Central American country. She said that he was being "reckless" and that he should abide by the already defunct plan of mediation by Costarrican President Oscar Arias, a loyal ally of the United States, according to Fidel Castro, who believes this mediation is nothing but a delaying tactic.

Obviously the USA is stepping out of their calculated ambiguity and becoming more expressly supportive of the coupists.

Sources: Gara, BBC, Al Jazeera and Voltairenet (for Castro's interesting opinions on recent Central American history).

Update Jul 26: Pedro Magdiel Martínez, 23, supporter of the President, was found death with signs of torture near the border with Nicragua. According to neighbours he was arrested the day before accused of "smoking marihuana". Police denies that the arrested and the victim are the same person.

Zelaya remains at the border looking for another opportunity to cross into Honduras but it's not clear if tiredness may catch the supporters. Some apparently regretted bitterly that he did not continue into the heart of the country when he had the chance

Source: Gara.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Oldest African pottery found in Mali

Swiss archaeologists have uncovered what could be the oldest African ceramic fragment, provisionally dated to c. 9400 BCE, which they describe as "very ornate". The discovery was made in the Dogon Country. Now they are digging at Ounjougou, a location they believe has a lot of potential.

Source: SwissInfo, via Archaeoforums.

Dirty war is back

The cases of illegal kidnappings, tortures, beatings and even one "disappeared" are back to the daily account of Basque news. The last is a construction worker, a formerly imprisoned activist, Alain Berasategi, who was kidnapped for some 7 hours at a forest at Irunberri, Navarre, and tortured there.

Berasategi was lured into the ambush by a call asking for a budget for a supposed reform of an old abandoned farmhouse. When he arrived there, 10 masked and heavily armed men, probably police officers.

He was tortured with the method known as "the bag", where they put a plastic bag on your head, restricting at will your ability to breath and bringing you repeatedly to terrorific near death situations. He was also beaten and threatened for all the time he remained captive.

One of the captors, apparently the leader, was as arrogant as to remove his mask while making threats, specifically that they had police evidence against him that they would use if he did not cooperate. They even showed him the police dossier against him, all of which makes very credible the suspicion that they were police agents.

He was only set free when he agreed to fix another date to collaborate with the agents.

Alain Berasategi was one of the many people inprisoned by Neoinquisition judge Baltasar Garzón, in the series of political trials that have affected Basque politics in the last years. He was set free without charges 10 months later.

This is not the first case of this kind:

In December 2008, Juan Mari Mujika was kidnapped by people claiming to be French police agents at Donapaleu. He was brought to a mountain area and threatened and pressed there. They told him that in the past "they would have just put a bullet in his head but that nowadays they prefered to lenghthen his suffering".

In May this year, Lander Fernández was kidnapped, beaten and threatened several times in his neighbourhood of Bilbao by people claiming to be police agents. Until he decided to denounce it to the tribunals. After that he was arrested and jailed and now is on bail waiting for trial.

In April, ETA reported that their member Jon Anza had gone missing. It is known that he took a rain at Baiona in the direction to Tolousse, where he had an arranged meeting of the organization. He has never been seen again. Probably he refused to cooperate with police and was simply killed.

Source: Gara.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Neanderthal killed by humans?

Was Shanidar 3 deadly injured by a projectile thrown from afar? Was this projectile the creation of Homo sapiens?

This is the fascinating criminological question that has been asked by Steven Churchill and colleagues (abstract) and that I have come to known by Mundo Neandertal (in Spanish, with interesting discussion in the comments section) and Science Daily.

Shanidar 3 is a Neanderthal male specimen from Iraqi Kurdistan, who died at the age of 40-50 after he suffered a puncturing wound in his chest, wound that was not immediately lethal (the injury had began to heal) but that surely caused his death in a matter of days or weeks. He is dated very loosely to 75-50,000 years ago.

Shanidar cave

According to the experiments realized by Churchill's team, the injury must have been caused by an object that hit in a descending 45 degrees angle, with low energy and momentum. This is inconsistent with a close fight injury, such as one caused by a knife or a spear at short range, instead it seems caused by a projectile thrown from a distance.

The injured rib

So far it seems convincing.

Was this caused by a modern human, a Homo sapiens individual, or was just domestic violence among Neanderthals? This is not so clear but there are indications that point in that direction: it has been argued that modern humans in Gravettian Europe had femur deformities consistent with a life of hurling spears or other weapons and, importantly, that Neanderthals did not show such traits.

Churchill showing the possible murderous weapons: a Neanderthal wooden spear and an atlatl used by modern humans (though not documented until later times)

Also if Shanidar 3 lived in the latest dates of the estimated range, c. 50,000 year ago, that would be coincident with the probable dates of human migration from South Asia into the west, migration that would have got them into Neanderthal territory unavoidably, with possible clashes like the one suspected here.

And that is it. We cannot really reach to further solid conclusions on light of the available evidence. The suspicion stands anyhow: granpa did it. Did he?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More evidence for Clovis-age meteorite impact

The controversial extra-terrestrial explanation for the extinction of North American megafauna some 13,000 years ago, has now got further evidence.

A team lead by Douglas J. Kennet has found nanodiamonds mixed with sooth in sediments dated to 12,900 years ago at the Channel Islands of California. These nanodiamonds are typically created under the massive pressures and heat of a meteoric impact, as the one some believe caused the pre-Clovis extinction.

The smoking gun?

The date of this event matches with the extinction of the of so many American large mammals, like the horse. Earlier this year, the same team found similar nanodiamonds at several North American locations.

The findings suggest that it was not humans who massacred the megafauna but actually something much more powerful arriving from outer space.

Source: Science Daily.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The AMH colonization of Europe

The colonization of Europe by anatomically modern humans (AMH, technically Homo sapiens) is generally accepted to be clear with the rapid Aurignacian expansion, c. 41-40 millennia ago (kya). But the real implications of the MP-UP transition are often controversial.

In this sense, John F. Hoffecker has made a nice review of the matter, to which I've been directed twice in the last weeks by Dienekes and Tim respectively, and that I feel it's about time to comment on here as well.

John F. Hoffecker, The spread of modern humans in Europe. PNAS, 2009.

The author reviews in few pages the available data on the MP-UP transition in Europe and their possible relations with each of the human species extant at the time.

In the conclusion, he argues for two waves of AMH colonization of Europe: first, beginning c. 48 kya, the Bohunician (that for him includes Bachokirian), that would originate in the Emirian culture of Levant, extending into the East Balcans, parts of Central Europe and even Eastern Europe. Second would be the proto-Aurignacian, originating in the Ahmarian culture (derived from Emirian) and extending specially southern European areas, like Italy and the Pyrenees. The Aurignacian proper would be a European culture, possibly originated in the Balcans (though others have argued Central Europe).

Let's review the sequence and groups in more detail:

Group A: would include the Szletian (Central Europe) and Chatelperronian (Western Europe) cultures. At least the later is clearly associated with Neanderthal remains and, by extension, many believe that Szletian would be too.

Group B: would include the Bohunician (SE, Central and Eastern Europe) and its possible ancestor the Emirian of the Near East (specially the sites of Bocher Tachtit in Palestine, Ksar Akil in Lebanon and Üçagizli in southern Turkey). The Bohunician dates to c. 48 kya (Bacho Kiro, Bulgaria) and the latest dates are of c. 40 kya. There are no clear forsenic remains associated to it but some indications of it being of AMH creation are the presence of ornaments in some sites and the relation between Emirian and Ahmarian, this one clearly product of H. sapiens.

Group C: would include the proto-Aurignacian of Bulgaria (Temnata) Italy, Pyrenees and other southern European sites (and even Kostenki 14 in Eastern Europe) and the Ahmarian of the Near East. This one is clearly the product of AMH and Hoffecker argues that some of the oldest H. sapiens remains of Europe (Pestera cu Oase and others in Rumania) could belong to this techno-cultural group, even if they are devoid of any direct artifactual associations. Some Italian proto-Aurignacian also shows personal ornaments and bone industry, which again suggest AMH manufacture. The proto-Aurignacian dates to c. 45-40 kya.


The Uluzzian of Italy (since c. 48 kya) again is not directly associated to any particular human species. For this reason many think it could be a Neanderthal creation. But Uluzzian shows again personal ornaments and bone industry and could therefore be associated to H. sapiens on mere cultural grounds.

The Kostenki culture of Eastern Europe (since c. 44 kya) is clearly of AMH creation and, while original, shows occasional similitudes with Italian proto-Aurignacian (Kostenki 14) and the later Aurignacian. It is rich in bone industry and includes the first eyed needles known.

The Aurignacian. Hoffecker suggests a Balcanic origin for this culture though it's best documented first in Central Europe (c. 40-38 kya), overlying the transitional industries. It is possible that its expansion was favored by the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption, the most catastrophic volcanic event in the area in some 200 milennia, which is dated to c. 40 kya. Guess it could be included in group C.

Victor Grauer's archaeology of music

Some of the readers of this blog may have noticed that one of several links in the blogroll has goon suddenly active again after almost a whole year of hibernation. It's Music 000001 of Victor Grauer whose fascinating research on the possibility of an archaeology of music caught my attention since I first stumbled with that blog.

Somewhat confusingly, the blog is written like a book, so one would have to go to the oldest post and read from the beginning to fully grasp what Victor is talking about. Luckily he has now added an index at the top of the blog, which is very helpful.

But what really brought me to write this entry is that his latest post includes links to three of his academic papers that include the essentials, if not most, of his exploration. He has been granted authorization by the publishers to make them freely available to his blog readers and that means, I guess, it would not be ethical to directly link them from here.

But I can link to his post where he provides the links, check it:

Music 000001 - 173. Articles now available for download.

Neanderthals extinct by competition, not climate

Tim (
remote central) points me to a study by Banks, d'Errico and colleagues that reviews the hypothesis suggesting that Neanderthals went extinct due to climatic constrain:

William E. Banks et al. Neanderthal Extinction by Competitive Exclusion. PLoS ONE, 2008.


Despite a long history of investigation, considerable debate revolves around whether Neanderthals became extinct because of climate change or competition with anatomically modern humans (AMH).

Methodology/Principal Findings

We apply a new methodology integrating archaeological and chronological data with high-resolution paleoclimatic simulations to define eco-cultural niches associated with Neanderthal and AMH adaptive systems during alternating cold and mild phases of Marine Isotope Stage 3. Our results indicate that Neanderthals and AMH exploited similar niches, and may have continued to do so in the absence of contact.


The southerly contraction of Neanderthal range in southwestern Europe during Greenland Interstadial 8 was not due to climate change or a change in adaptation, but rather concurrent AMH geographic expansion appears to have produced competition that led to Neanderthal extinction.

Their modelling shows that in the warm and wet GI8 climatic period (c. 38-35,000 BP) Neanderthals could exploit nearly all Europe but in fact were restricted to parts of Iberia, as shown in this map:

Red: surely apt, Pink: probably apt, Grey: possibly apt, Dots: actual Neanderthal sites

Saturday, July 18, 2009

How many people lived in Paleolithic Europe?

The latest news on Neanderthal genetics suggest that they were not too many. The figure mentioned is of 1500-3500 effective female population size (in Europe), so guess some 5000-10000 total. Does this make sense? And for Homo sapiens too?

In truth I really don't know but I've been making some amateurish estimates for the Franco-Cantabrian region, which apparently was the most populated region of Upper Paleolithic Europe. The Old Country had some 240,000 square kilometers (calculated by adding the areas of regions and provinces/departments that were inhabited back then) and, roughly, a hunter-gatherer group would typically use some 10,000 square kilometers (100 km x 100 km) in Canada (Gamble 2001) but apparently only some 1600 square kilometers (40 km x 40 km) in Cantabrian Magdelenian (Marín Arroyo 2009), roughly what would be now a "comarca", valley or district.

The latter figure fits well with Gamble's findings for Neanderthal foraging areas in Aquitaine (83% of materials from a radius of less than 20 km, no materials from further than 100 km) but would be small for the Carpathian area (48% from less than 20km, 81% from less than 80 km). The colder and drier Central Europe would then require the exploitation of areas closer in range to those of Inuits. Still the situation of the Rhin (only one case mentioned) would be more similar to that of the SW than to Moravia.

So for the Franco-Cantabrian region we could get as many 150 bands or clans, at least for Magdalenian times, when the use of the territory was most intense, each one with their territory of c. 1600 square kilometers.

My biggest doubt is how many people would these bands include: would they be simple bands of c. 30 individuals (20 to 80 following Gamble) or would they be larger groups of maybe 100 people including several of these bands, forming some sort of clan (more than 50 according to Gamble)? Maybe some of my readers has the solution but at the moment I do not. I guess that in earlier times (Aurignacian), these bands could be smaller and that by the end of the Paleolithic (Magdalenian) they would be larger instead.

Just in case here are the results using both figures for band: 30 and 100 people (as reasonable medians):

a. 150 x 30 = 4500 people
b. 150 x 100 = 15,000 people

If you think my estimate for the number of clans is a little high, then sand the figures down a bit. A conservative estimate could be 3000-10,000 people for the Franco Cantabrian region maybe.

The Franco-Cantabrian region (red dots are rock art locations)

And for all Europe? Well, the FC region was without doubt the most densely populated back then, so guess that multiplying this figure by 2, 3 or 4, you'd get a decent estimate. Let's estimate that 1 out of 3 UP Europeans lived in the FC region, that would make the total population of Europe something like 9000-30,000 individuals.

I began this post saying that there were some 5000-10,000 Neanderthals in Europe prior to the arrival of AMHs, based on the most recent genetic data. Does this fit with what I have elaborated? Yes. Even too well I fear.

And I say "I fear" because I really expected AMHs, who after all outcompeted the Neanderthals, to be significatively more efficient, so I do fear to have sinned of conservatism when doing these estimates. But well, this is nothing but an exercise without further pretenses: some thoughts to share with my readers.

So... enjoy.



After writing this, I re-read Bocquet-Appel's paper (already linked in text but only to justify the FC region as the most populated one) and I just realized he also makes his own popualtion estmates (with different and surely more serious methods). His conclusions are not that different from my own:

Aurignacian: 4400 ppl. (1700-28,400)
Gravettian: 4800 ppl. (1800-30,600)
Glacial Maximum: 5900 ppl. (2300-37,700)
Late Glacial: 28,700 ppl. (11,300-72,600)

Figures in parenthesis are considering the 47.5% confidence interval.

Spanish nationalists attack farmhouse

The farmhouse of the Goikoetxea family in Getxo, Biscay, was attacked yesterday in open light by some parapolicial commando. They graffitied the walls with pro-Spanish slogans and death threats and set fire to the house. The rapid intervention of a neighbour prevented it to spread beyond its origin.

The family was outside celebrating the birthday of Zigor Goikoetxea, who was sent to prision for two years for "threats" against all the evidence (police agents themselves declared they had not heard any threat) in another example of Spanish "justice". His brother Arkaitz, in prision, is awaiting trial for allegedly leading an ETA cell.

The Councilor of Interior "by the grace of God" (i.e. without any democratic backing), Rodolfo Ares, made declarations in this regard that were extremely ambiguous, including insults against the victims of the attack, in another example that for Spanish nationalists there are two standards: one for them, teribly laxe, and another for the rest, as strict and demanding as their sick imaginations can figure.

Source: Gara (links in text).

Friday, July 17, 2009

More Neanderthal mtDNA

Found at
Dienekes and Mundo Neandertal.

The Pääbo team, that already delivered on the first sequenced Neanderthal genome of Vindija cave (see this and this previous posts), has managed to mass-copy and analyze five more Nenderthal mtDNA sequences.

Their conclussions are that Neanderthals had much lower mtDNA diversity than modern humans and even lower than modern Europeans. Two of the sequences are in fact identical (Feldholder, Neanderthal-1 of Germany, and Vindija, Croatia) meaning they were close relatives by maternal side.

They estimate an effective population size of 1500 to 3500 women in Europe (no Asian Neanderthals have been studied so far). They also believe that the "Neanderthal Eve" would have lived some 120,000 years ago.

This is more recent than the "Homo Sapiens Eve" but would still be much older than the European or even Eurasian "Eve" (L3) by the usual estimates.

The sequences studied are from El Sidrón (Asturias, Spain), Feldhofer (Nordrhineland-Westfalen, Germany - Neanderthal 1), Vindija (Croatia - 2 sequences with the other specimen studied before) and Mezmaiskaya (Caucasus mts., Russia - 2 sequences as well).

Original paper: Adrian W. Briggs et al., Targeted Retrieval and Analysis of Five Neanderthal mtDNA Genomes. Science 2009. Behind paywall, supplemental material freely accessible.

Divlugative article at Live Science.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid

That is the conclusion of an independent South African committee, enlisted by the Human Sciences Research Council to verify the claims of apartheid in Palestine.

The committee concludes, following international jurisprudence that race is a social construct relative to local perceptions and that, in this sense, Jewish and Palestinian are racial categories in the Near East.

It then goes on to examine Israeli practices on light of the article 2 of the Apartheid Convention.

Finding that:

Section a) Denial to a member or members of a racial group or groups of the right to life and liberty of person.- YES: Israel’s policies and practices include murder, in the form of extrajudicial killings; torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees (...) All of these practices are discriminatory in that Palestinians are subject to legal systems and courts which apply standards of evidence and procedure that are different from those applied to Jewish settlers living the OPT and that result in harsher penalties for Palestinians.

Section b) Deliberate imposition on a racial group or groups of living conditions calculated to cause its or their physical destruction in whole or in part.- NO: Not satisfied, as the Israel’s policies and practices in the OPT are not found to have the intent of causing the physical destruction of the Palestinian people.

Section c) Measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups.- YES:

i) (...) Restrictions on the Palestinian right to freedom of movement are endemic in the West BankPalestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not allowed to visit the other territory and are not allowed to enter East Jerusalem with a pass.

ii) The right of Palestinians to choose their own place of residence within their territory is severely curtailed by systematic administrative restrictions on Palestinian residency and building in East Jerusalem, by discriminatory legislation that operates to prevent Palestinian spouses from living together on the basis of which part of the OPT they originate from, and by the strictures of the permit and ID systems.

iii) Palestinians are denied their right to leave and return to their country. Palestinian refugees displaced in 1948 from the territory now inside Israel who are living in the OPT (approximately 1.8 million people including descendents) are not allowed to return to their former places of residence. Similarly, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced to surrounding states from the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967 have been prevented from returning to the OPT. (...) Political activists and human rights defenders are often subject to arbitrary and undefined ’travel bans’, while many Palestinians who travelled and lived abroad for business or personal reasons have had their residence IDs revoked and been prohibited from returning.

iv) Israel denies Palestinians in the OPT their right to a nationality by denying Palestinian refugees from inside the Green Line their right of return, residence, and citizenship in the State (Israel) governing the land of their birth. Israel’s policies in the OPT also effectively deny Palestinians their right to a nationality by obstructing the exercise of the Palestinian right to self-determination through the formation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza Strip.

v) Palestinians are restricted in their right to work (...)

vi) Palestinian trade unions exist but are not recognised by the Israeli government or by the Histadrut (the main Israeli trade union) and cannot effectively represent Palestinians working for Israeli employers and businesses. Although these workers are required to pay dues to the Histadrut, it does not represent their interests and concerns, and Palestinians have no voice in formulating Histadrut policies. (...)

vii) The right of Palestinians to education is not impacted directly by Israeli policy, as Israel does not operate the school system in the OPT, but education is severely impeded by military rule. (...)

viii) The right of Palestinians to freedom of opinion and expression is greatly restricted through censorship laws (...).

ix) Palestinians’ right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association is impeded through military orders. (...) Most Palestinian political parties have been declared illegal and institutions associated with those parties, such as charities and cultural organisations, are regularly subjected to closure and attack.

x) The prevention of full development in the OPT and participation of Palestinians in political, economic, social and cultural life is most starkly demonstrated by the effects of Israel’s ongoing siege and regular large-scale military attacks on the Gaza Strip. Although denied by Israel, the population of the Gaza Strip is experiencing an on-going severe humanitarian crisis.

Section d) Measures designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups, the prohibition of mixed marriages among members of various racial groups, the expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof.- YES:

i) Israel has divided the West Bank into reserves or cantons in which residence and entry is determined by each individual’s group identity. Entry by one group into the zone of the other group is prohibited without a permit. The Wall and its infrastructure of gates and permanent checkpoints suggest a policy permanently to divide the West Bank into racial cantons. Israeli government ministries, the World Zionist Organisation and other Jewish national institutions operating as authorised agencies of the State plan, fund and implement construction of the West Bank settlements and their infrastructure for exclusively Jewish use.

ii) Article 2(d) is not satisfied regarding a prohibition on mixed marriages between Jews and Palestinians.

iii) Israel has extensively appropriated Palestinian land in the OPT for exclusively Jewish use. Private Palestinian land comprises about 30 percent of the land unlawfully appropriated for Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Presently, 38 percent of the West Bank is completely closed to Palestinian use, with significant restrictions on access to much of the rest of it.

Section e) Exploitation of the labour of the members of a racial group or groups, in particular by submitting them to forced labour.- NO: Not significantly satisfied, as Israel has raised barriers to Palestinian employment inside Israel since the 1990s and Palestinian labour is now used extensively only in the construction and services sectors of Jewish-Israeli settlements in the OPT. (...)

Section f) Persecution of organizations and persons, by depriving them of fundamental rights and freedoms, because they oppose apartheid.- YES: Arrest, imprisonment, travel bans and the targeting of Palestinian parliamentarians, national political leaders and human rights defenders, as well as the closing down of related organisations by Israel, represent persecution for opposition to the system of Israeli domination in the OPT, within the meaning of Article 2(f).

Additionally the committee finds the following similitudes of Israeli policies with the three pillars of South African apartheid:

1. Demarcation of South Africans into formal racial groups, with different legal systems applying to each of them (Population Registration Act of 1950).
2. Segregation of these racial groups in separate geographic areas, culminating in the formation of the bantustans (Group Areas Act of 1950 and Pass Laws of 1952-69).
3. Draconian security laws and policies to enforce the system, including extra-judicial killings, torture and degrading treatment.

Israel does all this:

1. It divides the population into Jews, "Israeli Arabs" and Palestinians, privileging naturally the Jewish settlers (and all Jews worldwide are entitled to Israeli citizenship, while the native Palestinians are not). Palestinians are even banned from family reunification if the spouses live in distinct areas under this system.
2. It creates separate areas for Palestinians and Jews, the first with a clear tendency to shrink and the latter to grow. The first fragmented and marginalized and the latter well connected and serviced. It has also segregated East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.
3. It does have, upholds and enforces a series of special laws that allow and encourage brutal and degrading treatment of Palestinians. Torture and extra-judicial killings are the norm, not any exception.

The committee concludes that Israel is guilty of the crime of apartheid.

Source and further details at Voltairenet: Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid?, by Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. Also available as PDF.

Fascist rule in the Western Basque Country (1)

It seems we are going to see an increased re-fascistization of our little "autonomous" slice of a country. Now streets are to be named after well known Spanish torturers like the infamous Melitón Manzanas, killed by ETA in 1968, just because they are "victims of terrorism" but Basque victims of Spanish death squads, like Argala because they once had some relation with ETA.

In fact José Miguel Beñaran Ordeñana, Argala, who was legally exempt of all charges by the 1977 general amnesty, and was murdered by a Spanish death squad in 1978. Argala, who took part in the much applauded execution of Franco's dauphin, Admiral Carrero Blanco, is widely considered a hero through the Basque country and certainly a victim of Spanish terrorism.

Well for the new Basque Ombudsman, appointed by a parliament that has zero democratic credentials, this is exactly what Basque towns have to do: erect monuments and name plazas to hated criminals like Carrero and Manzanas but not to heroes like Argala.

The Chechenization of the Basque Country is quite worrisome and can only lead to an encroachment and increase of the antagonism and not to any democratic solution.

Source: Gara.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Paleolithic Chinese ate fish regularly

At least it was the case of Tianyuan 1, a Paleolithic individual from Northern China who lived some 40,000 years ago. Isotope analysis from the teeth show that this person was a regular consumer of fish. This finding determines that ancient humans had the ability of fishing on regular basis at least as early as that date.

Yaowu Hu et al., Stable isotope dietary analysis of the Tianyuan 1 early modern human. PNAS, 2009. Open access.

Divulgative article also at Science Daily.


Ezana at Anthropology Forum points me to another older evidence of coastal food-gathering habits: Eritrea c. 125,000 years ago:

Robert C. Walter et al., Early human occupation of the Red Sea coast of Eritrea during the last interglacial. Nature, 2000. It's behind a paywall but you can access the tables and figures freely.

A divulgative article can be found here.

It seems that there is a lot of evidence accumulating in favor of early humans using the coastal landscape quite naturally. This, of course, supports the coastal migration model.

Another humanitarian convoy to Gaza blocked

It seems that the siege of Gaza is becoming tighter, while in February both humanitarian aid convoys (one of Free Gaza by sea and another of Viva Palestina by land) were allowed in by Israelis and their Egyptian allies. Now they both have been blocked.

Read more at Viva Palestina US.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bread for today, hunger for tomorrow

I just love the economic opinion section of Samah El-Shahat at Al Jazeera. She has such a clear and sharp mind... and pen that I can't but agree with most of what she writes.

Yesterday's article again nails it. Shahat explains that, if before the financial crisis, the banking sector was already very concentrated and protected, now, after the new laws and loads of gratis taxpayer money because they are "too big to fail", it is even more concentrated and also more protected by law. But not better regulated at all.

So we went from having 15 banks to having around six. And these remaining banks have more power as their importance is now set in regulatory stone - and they know it.

The IMF, the guardian of economic neoliberalism, has also been strenghened.

So, all in all, our leaders multilateral solutions to the crisis have been about entrenching the existing world economic order rather than changing it.

But where does this leave us? You know, us in the real economy.

Well, the banks haven't yet started lending. All the money, as you will see from my previous posts, remains constipated within the new banking behemoths.

The level of toxic debt on their balance sheets is still unknown and, because of that, we will never get a recovery.

She argues that the contrast of recent financial "good news" and employment "very bad news" does not mean as some pretend that employment is lagging behind the overall recovery but that there is no recovery at all in fact.

So, in brief, we are living in a delusion of recovery: the bad news are set to ome back soon enough because nothing has been done to make the banks less all-powerful, but exactly the opposite.

It's probably a matter of months, a few years in the "best" case, before the bad financial news begin accumulating again, specially as the demand is unable to recover without a people-oriented (and not super-rich-oriented) stimulus package. We're used to think that the workers depend on the capitalists but, in most aspects, it's the other way around: because capitalists need to sell and for that they need demand, which can only be sustained by workers with decent salaries and healthy credit lines.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Complexity is simple: proteins auto-assemble just naturally

Researchers from the United States have discovered that bacterial proteins self-assemble stochastically (that is: randomly) and not directed by any centralized force of any sort. This random system is probably also found in eukaryotic cells like ours.

In spite of this randomness, patterns emerge and the system just works fine, as Alan Turing had predicted for a different context some 60 years ago.

According to co-researcher Jan Liphardt:

Random lateral protein diffusion and protein-protein interactions are probably sufficient to generate the observed complex, ordered patterns. This simple stochastic self-assembly mechanism, which can create and maintain periodic structures in biological membranes without direct cytoskeletal involvement or active transport, may prove to be widespread in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

Source: Science Daily

Research paper (open access): Greenfield D, McEvoy AL, Shroff H, Crooks GE, Wingreen NS, et al. (2009) Self-Organization of the Escherichia coli Chemotaxis Network Imaged with Super-Resolution Light Microscopy. PLoS Biol 7(6): e1000137. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000137

Author Summary:

Cells arrange their components—proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids—in organized and reproducible ways to optimize the activities of these components and, therefore, to improve cell efficiency and survival. Eukaryotic cells have a complex arrangement of subcellular structures such as membrane-bound organelles and cytoskeletal transport systems. However, subcellular organization is also important in prokaryotic cells, including rod-shaped bacteria such as E. coli, most of which lack such well-developed systems of organelles and motor proteins for transporting cellular cargoes. In fact, it has remained somewhat mysterious how bacteria are able to organize and spatially segregate their interiors. The E. coli chemotaxis network, a system important for the bacterial response to environmental cues, is one of the best-understood biological signal transduction pathways and serves as a useful model for studying bacterial spatial organization because its components display a nonrandom, periodic distribution in mature cells. Chemotaxis receptors aggregate and cluster into large sensory complexes that localize to the poles of bacteria. To understand how these clusters form and what controls their size and density, we use ultrahigh-resolution light microscopy, called photoactivated localization microscopy (PALM), to visualize individual chemoreceptors in single E. coli cells. From these high-resolution images, we determined that receptors are not actively distributed or attached to specific locations in cells. Instead, we show that random receptor diffusion and receptor–receptor interactions are sufficient to generate the observed complex, ordered pattern. This simple mechanism, termed stochastic self-assembly, may prove to be widespread in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

String Theory experimentally confirmed

Finally the so promising "Theory of All" (that allegedly conciliates Einstein's Relativity with Quantum Physics, even if at the expense of our three-dimensional perception of reality), the
String Theory has proven its worth. And it has done so in a crucial technological field: high-temperature superconductors.

A magnet levitating on a "warm" superconductor

As you probably know, superconductors (materials in which electrons travel without any resistence whatsoever) were initially found to work only at extremely low temperatures close to absolute zero but, recently, more and more cases of "warm" superconductors have been found. This was not possible to explain with quantum mechanics.

And here is where String Theory came to save the day: three physicists from Leiden University (Netherlands) decided to apply the controversial "Theory of All" to this problem and have been so successful that, initially, not even themselves could believe it too much.

But after proper revision, everything was right: the "quantum soup" state of warm superconductors is finally explained only by Maldacena's AdS/CFT correspondence within String Theory.

Hey... Maldacena!

According to co-researcher Jan Zaanen:

AdS/CFT correspondence now explains things that colleagues who have been beavering away for ages were unable to resolve, in spite of their enormous efforts. There are a lot of things that can be done with it. We don't fully understand it yet, but I see it as a gateway to much more.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

US gives carte blanche to Israel on Iran

That is what Joe Biden, the US vice-president, declared in a TV interview:

Israel has a sovereign right to decide how to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions whether the United States agrees or not.

I always find interesting, albeit scary, these kind of declarations in support of the Apartheid regime in Palestine, an illegitimate nuclear power itself, even if that means attacking another state and causing an international crisis of unknown dimensions.

In contrast of those who have raised hopes that the Obama administration could put pressure on Israel to finally solve the regional conflicts, what I see is that behind Obama's smile there is a truly ultra-Zionist apparatus that will support the Zionist regime no matter what, even if maybe trying to show a more amicable face to the World.

It seems that the Zionist racist and nuclear regime has sovereign right, while others like the Palestinian Authority lead by Hamas or Iran, or say North Korea or whatever, do not have any sort of sovereign right whatsoever. If the USA would be fair, all these totalitarian regimes should be treated equally and not give a red carpet to the Zionist regime trying to isolate and boycott the rest.

Uyghuristan explodes

The ultracapitalist totalitarian regime of China is having more and more problems. Last year was the Tibetan revolt, quelled bloodily, and (aka Xinjiang, aka East Turkestan). These two countries, together with Inner Mongolia, are the largest ethnically distinct nations under Chinese control (see note below) and Beijing has made repeated efforts to sinicise them, by means of colonization and aculturation.

Additionally the most populous state on Earth and allegedly the second economic power after the USA, is facing many other problems in the majoritary Han country as well. From a disastrous ecology, with ample economic implications, to widespread corruption, from a segregation policy between urban and rural dwellers that equates to internal colonialism to the instability of its attempts to control all communications and thoughts in the Internet era, China is a country that promotes wild capitalism under a red banner that nowadays has almost only a nationalist meaning.

As rather succesful capitalist country, it has faced but so far quelled the demands by the peoples of democracy and transparency that usually accompany such Buregueois processes. For how long will the unusual Chinese regime be able to contain the waters of that river of Chinese and other nationalities that demand more freedom, more transparency and less opression and totalitarian control?

I suspect that for not much longer.Though it can still be some years, specially as the regime can still claim the rather impressive success of the last decades. But eventually it will have to meet the demands of the people: it is unavoidable and should be good for the country.


Note: actually they are not the largest by number, as Ebizur made me notice in a comment, but they are by extension. The Zhuang, who live north of Vietnam are the largest nation in China after the Han themselves.


Update: troops have been sent into Urumqi and there are reports that suggest this is the deadliest clampdown in China since the Revolution. Official figures mention 159 deaths, mostly Han, but Uyghur sources say that the figure is much much larger and that almost all are ethnical Uyghurs.

Ethnic Han irregular squads have been reported attacking people (though at least in one case police intervened against them) and there are reports of thousands, mostly Uyghurs, arrested indiscriminately.

Source: BBC.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Honduras: Zelaya could not land, coup turns bloody

A huge multitude was waiting for the return of Honduran President Gabriel Zelaya at the international airport of Tegucigalpa. The military nevertheless made impossible for his plane to land in spite that he ordered them the opposite as supreme commander of the armed forces.

A large multitude awaited in vain to their President

While the military-backed de facto government was still yesterday claiming that not a single person has died in the coup, it seems it is not actually the case and informations are already arriving of deaths at the hands of the soldiers and disappeared people.

Al Jazeera reports of a 10 years old boy killed by the troops in the protests that surrounded the failed attempt of Zelaya to return. Gara mentions, quoting human rights groups, hundreds arrested, scores missing and at least five deaths.

The military is using violence against the protesters

Zelaya, who flew from Washington D.C., seems to have finally landed in neighbouring Nicaragua and has vowed to try to return again on Monday or Thursday.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Zionists burn library in Paris

The library Résistences has been burnt in an attack by a squad of a dozen masked people who claimed openly to belong to the
Ligue de Defénse Juive (Jewish Defense League).

The attack apparently was intended specifically against a conference on nonviolent resistence in Palestine, by Mahmoud Suleiman, from the village of Al Masara. But the library, that offers many books on Palestine and Israel has been threatened and attacked before by this Zionist terror gang, well known to the police but apparently acting with full impunity.

Les Verts and other groups have called for a demonstration of solidarity, denouncing that book burning is the one of the vilest crimes.

Source: Chroniques de Palestine.

I'm really starting to hate Sarkozy, sincerely.

Zelaya will return with continental support

The Organization of American States (OEA-OAS) has suspended Honduras' membership.

Ousted President Manuel "Mel" Zelaya has already announced his return for tomorrow Sunday. The presidents of Argentina, Cristina Fernández, and Ecuador, Rafael Correa, will accompany him. He has called to the Honduran people to support his return in a nonviolent manner.

The military-backed government and the Catholic primate have threatened with a bloodshed.

Source and more info at Al Jazeera.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Txupinera vetoed for being sister of a prisioner

In a yet another incredible twist of the advance of Spanish neofascism in the Basque Country (by undemocratic means, of course), an unprecedented situation has happened yesterday, as the Great Week of Bilbao is getting ready one year more: the person proposed to be this year's
txupinera (the person, traditionally a woman, who ignites the firecracker marking the beginning of the festive journey, which is known as txupin) has been vetoed by the Spanish-nationalist tory town councilors (remember that last elections were undemocratic as important options were forbidden from running, what heavily distorts the representation in favor of Spanish nationalist forces).

But the most outraging fact is why has she been vetoed: because her brother is imprisioned by Spain and she collaborates in organizing travels for family members to the remote prisions where Basque prisioners are sent.

The Fiestas of Bilbao (Bilboko Jaiak), known officially as Bilboko Aste Nagusia (Great Week of Bilbao) are celebrated the week after August 15th, lasting ten days in fact. Since the fall of fascism they have been co-organized by the Town Hall and the Coordination of Kompartsak (self organized fiesta groups), this has allowed them to become the most popular and wild fiestas ever anywhere on Earth. The fiestas are presided by a couple of persons: the pregonero/-a (speaker, someone notable that is honored with cheering up the masses with his/her discourses) and the txupinera (traditionally a woman, as pregoneros were in the past usually men). The latter is appointed by the Coordination of Kompartsak, a wholly autonomous entity, normally just ratifying the nominated person proposed by the kompartsa that takes the turn that year.

last years' txupinera (left) and pregonero (right) in their uniforms

This year it was the turn of Eguzkizaleak (the Guardians of the Sun), a kompartsa organized around ecologist NGO, Eguzki (the Sun). Being txupinera is just a honorary position as her main role is just being there dressed in her red uniform and igniting the festive rockets now and then. At most she may be asked to say something for the local TV. That's all.

Never before was a txupinera vetoed by the Town Hall. And this year's veto (or threat of it so far) doesn't forecast anything good for the future of the fiestas under this arrogant undemocratic Town Hall.

We'll see what happens. I don't really see the kompartsak yielding in this issue.

Source: Gara.

Paleolithic artists could have been women

Sounds terribly obvious but somehow it seems you have to think consciously about it to realize, because our patriarchal culture is so strong that makes difficult at times to assign women other roles than that of mothers.

Well, the case is that, as Martin Cagliari reports, a new study confirms that a good deal of the hand impressions on cave walls, normally near other artwork, maybe as sort of signature, are femenine.

Example of hands painted along with other artwork at Pech Merle cave

Original source: National Geographic.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Free Gaza tripulation charged with "illegal immigration"

As you may know, the Free Gaza aid ship sailing to Gaza Strip with the express intention of avoiding Israeli waters was intercepted by the Zionist navy two days ago and its load of hope (and also practical items such as cement, medicines, toys and crayons) lays now idle at some colonial military facility.

But the irony is that, even if they wanted altogether to avoid Israeli territorial waters, they have been charged with "illegal immigration". Two of the 21 tripulants have been released but the rest remain in jail.

You can spam an aide to the Zionist Prime Minister at this adress:

Gazasolidarity, which is the source of this information, also offers an array of phones and faxes that you can spam with demands of freedom for Gaza Aid members and asking to allow the ship to enter Gaza, that is not Israeli territory in any case.


Protests against Israeli piracy actions and the criminal blockade of Gaza have succeeded in the last days. It is noticeable that the very UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, Richard Falk has described this action, as well as Gaza blockade, as a crime.

Cynthia McKinney, tripulant of the ship and former US Congress Representative, declared on this Zionist act of piracy:

We were in international waters on a boat delivering humanitarian aid to people in Gaza when the Israeli Navy ships surrounded us and illegally threatened us, dismantled our navigation equipment, boarded and confiscated the ship.

All of us on board were then taken off the ship and into custody, and brought into Israel and imprisoned. Immigration officials in Israel said they did not want to keep us, but we remain imprisoned. State Department and White House officials have not effected our release or taken a strong public stance to condemn the illegal actions of the Israeli Navy of enforcing a blockade of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians of Gaza, a blockade that has been condemned by President Obama.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Honduras: unrest persists and Zelaya wows to return

It seems that the coupists have less support than they would like, other than the wealthy elite. The situation remains very tense with continuous riots.

Source: Al Jazeera. See also: Honduras' Zelaya wows to return.

European Tribunal rules against Basque democracy

In a new twist of the very annoying neofascist trend that seems to be more and more dominant worldwide and also here in Europe, the European Tribunal of Human Rights has fully supported the sentences of the Spanish Neoinquisition that have repeteadly barred a major sector of Basques (and Spaniards in general) from running to elections.

The tribunal does not even consider the lack of evidence in the whole case, as it argues that it's not its role to replace local courts, but it concludes that:

The action of the demandants (HB and Batasuna) must be analyzed as part of an strategy to ahcieve their political project, in essence opposed to the democratic principles included in the [Spanish] Constitution. This fulfills the requirements for dissolution estabilished in the article 9, section 2c, of the Law of Political Parties, in other words: complement and support the action of terrorist organiations with the goal of perturbing the constitutional order or seriously damage public peace. Also, in what regards to the claim of the demandants that these facts must be considered protected by the right to freedom of speech, the Tribunal considers that the methods used do not respect the limits estabilished by the jurisprudency of the Convention, that is: the legality of the means used to exert this right and their compatibility with the fundamental democractic principles.

In other words: exposing that there is a political conflict in the Basque country is a crime under the new fascist EU.

Let's get out of here... but let's bring our country with us.

Source: Gara.