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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Aymeric Picaud on Basques (12th century)

This is a classical: one of the oldest extensive references to Basques. It includes most of the last book of the
Codex Calixtinus (a pilgrim guide to St. James Way). Aymeric Picaud is merciless and full of hateful bigotry towards Basques and in fact with all other peoples south of his native Poitou: Santes, Girondines, Gascons, Castilians and even Galicians are all represented as barbaric, greedy, drunkard, irate and prone to banditry. But most of the fifth book (Liber Peregrinationis) is ironically dedicated to Basques (Northern Basques) and Navarrese (Southern Basques).

Later, already close to Pass of Cize [Ibaineta, Roncesvaux pass], we find the Basque Country that has at its coast to the north the city of Bayonne. This land is barbaric for its language, full of forests, mountainous, lacking in bread, wine and all food for the body except the consolation of apples, cider and milk. In this land, near the Pass of Cize, in the town of Ostabat and those of Saint-Jean [Donibane Garazi, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port] and Saint-Michel-Pied-de-Port, there are some villanous pass guards, who are totally condemned because they jump to the way of pilgrims with two or three spears and make them pay forcibly unjust taxes. And if any traveller rejects to pay the deniers he's asked for they pay him with the spears and take them anyhow, insulting him and registering even the pants.

They are ferocious and the land where they dwell is also ferocious, wild and barbarous: the ferocity of their faces, and the grunts of their barbarous language sow terror in the hearts of those who see them. Even if legally they should take taxes only from the traders, they get it unjustly from pilgrims and all travellers. When they must tax anything four or six deniers, they demand eight or twelve, that is: double. (...)

In the Basque Country there is a very high mountain named Pass of Cize, either because that is the gate of Spain [Iberian peninsula] or because through that mountain goods are carried from one land to the other; and its way up has eight miles and its way down eight as well. Its height is such that seems to reach heaven. Those who climb it think they can almost touch heaven with their hands. From its summit the British [English Channel] and Western [Atlantic Ocean or Bay of Biscay] seas can be seen, and the lands of three countries: Castile, Aragon and France. (...)


1. I believe it is just impossible to see the English Channel from anywhere on the Pyrenees, so either Picaud was misled by some legend or he meant as "British Sea", the waters bordering Brittany by the south, i.e. the Bay of Biscay or part of it.

2. The description of the "three countries" implies that this journey was made in the period of the First Partition, when the Kingdom of Pamplona had been briefly divided between Castile and Aragon, that is: in 1076-1134. Probably in the late phase of this partition, as the word Navarre only came to use in that period of Aragonese rule.

In this very mountain, before Christianity grew fully by Spanish lands, the heathen Navarrese and Basques used not just to rob the pilgrims that journeyed to Saint James but also ride them as donkeys and kill them. (...)

After this valley Navarre begins, land considered happy for the bread and wine, the milk and cattle. The Navarrese and the Basques [Northern Basques] are very similar in what refers to food, clothes and language, but Basques are have fairer faces than Navarrese. These wear with short black clothes to the knees, like Scots, and use a type of shoes called albarcas [abarkak], made with uncured hairy leather, tied to the foot with strings, covering only the base of the foot and leaving the rest bare. They wear some black and short clothes long to the elbows and wavy like paenulae, that they call sayas. They eat, drink and wear like pigs; because all the family of a Navarrese home, the lord as the servant, the lady as the maid, usually eat their food mixed from a pot, not with a spoon but with their hands, and drink from a cup. If you saw them eating, you'd think them as dogs or pigs eating, and, if you heard them talking they would remind you the barking of dogs, becasue theyr language is completely barbaric. To God they call Urcia [Urtzi or Ost: an ancient impersonation of the sky with no myths attached]; to God's Mother, Andrea Maria [= Lady Mary]; to bread, orgui [ogi]; to wine, ardum [ardo]; to meat, aragui [haragi]; to the house, echea [etxe]; to the lord of the house, iaona [jauna]; to the lady, andrea; to the church, elicera [eliza, elizara = "to the church"]; to the presbyter, belaterra that means beautiful land [?]; to wheat, gari; to water, uric [ur, urik= partitive declination, used in negative]; to the king, ereguia [erregea]; to Saint James, iaona domne Iacue [jauna done Jakue: the lord St. James].

This is a barbaric people, distinct to all others in uses and way of life, full of evils, dark in color, of scary aspect, depraved, pervert, perfidious, disloyal and false, lusty, drunkard, in all kind of violences skilled, ferocious, wild, evil and reprobate, heathen and rough, brawler, lacking in any virtue and dexterous in all vices and iniquities; similar in evilness to the Getes and Saracens, and enemy of our people Gaulish in all. For just a denier a Basque or a Navarrese kills, if he can, a Frenchman. In some of its regions, specially in Alava and Biscay, the Navarrese man and woman show each other their shameful parts while they get warm. The Navarrese also use of the beasts in impure copulations, because it is said that a Navarrese hangs a lock from the legs of his mule or mare so nobody but himself can approach it. He also kisses lustly the sex of the woman and the mule. For all said the Navarrese have to be censored in all aspects. Nevertheless they are considered good in open battle, bad in assaulting castles, just in the payment of the tithe [religious tax] and asiduous in their offerings to the altars. Because every day, when they go to church, they make an offer to God of either bread, wine or wheat, or some other product. Every time that a Basque or Navarrese goes on journey, he hangs from the neck a horn like do hunters, and carries in his hands, as is customary, two or three spears that they call azconas. When entering or leaving home he whistles like a kite. And, when hidden in some occult place to rob, he wishes to call silently to his mates, he either hoots like an owl or howls like a wolf.

It is said that they descend of the lineage of the Scots because they are similar to them in uses and aspect. It is fame that Julius Caesar sent to Spain, to subdue the Spaniards, who did not want to pay tribute to three peoples: Nubians, Scots and Cornish, commanding them to kill all males and only respect the women. And having them invaded by sea that land, after destroying all their ships, they devastated it with blood and fire from Barcelona to Zaragoza and from the city of Bayonne to Moutains of Oca. They could not trespass those limits because the Castilians [sic] gathered and threw them away from their lands in fight. Fleeing, therefore, they reached the coastal mountains that are between Najera, Pamplona and Bayonne, that is: to the coast in the lands of Biscay and Alava, where they settled and built many fortresses, and they killed all the males and kidnapped the women, with whom they engendered children, who in turn were called Navarrese by their successors. Hence Navarre means not truthful, that is: engendered from not truthful lineage or non-legitimate ascendancy. The Navarrese also take their name primitively from a city called Naddaver, that is in the lands from where the apostle and evangelist Saint Matthew originally came from, in the early times.

Note: Obviously all in this last paragraph is a mere libellous and ahistorical farce but is anyhow interesting to transcribe here because it shows how defamation also worked in the Middle Ages and how many legends may have been created by griots and bards only to please this or that magnate and his particular version of history. This myth seems to have been circulating with enough strength in the time as to cause Picaud to believe it.

The word Navarre is surely Nabarra originally and means "the brownish" (land) and it was in times of this codex a very novel term applied to the short-lived County of Navarre that included part of the lands of modern Navarre. The term surely means the Mediterranean climate area that is not green all year long like the rest of the Basque Country. It is interesting anyhow that it had already become a common word to mean all Southern Basques, even if it was such a new idiom.

It is also interesting the mythical link made with Scots and other Atlantic-Celtic peoples, also in clothing and customs. It seems to me that even before blood groups and then modern genetics noticed some striking biological similitudes, customs and appearance already caused some to imagine some sort of link. There is another myth dating probably to this same Medieval period that tells that the lineage of the Lords of Biscay, instituted by Castile after conquest, originated as God Sugaar (aka Maju) had an affair with a Scottish princess in the fishing village of Mundaka, near the once important harbour of Bermeo. But that's about it in what regards to mythical links between Basques and Scots or any other people.

Whatever the case, it is a funny and sometimes interesting depiction of Basques. While I have skipped the paragraph on Gascons, they are described in very similar terms. The rest of the peoples visited are just barely mentioned but none causes a too favorable impression in Picaud either, except his native folk of Poitou. A bigot.

Source: posted by jeromor at (in Spanish).


Women rights law vetoed in Mali

Yet another discouraging setback by the fanatic ultraconservatives of this our planet: the president of Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré, has vetoed a law that recognizes more or less equal rights to men and women. Muslim groups had protested it.

The law acknowledged rights that are considered basic and normal almost anywhere that is not an ultra-machoist remain from the Middle Ages: it acknowledges that wifes are not slaves of their husbands but that marriage implies mutual loyalty and protection, it betters women's inheritance rights and marriage is not allowed in most circumstances below the age of 18.

Ironically one of the concepts that Muslims have protested most against is the recognition of marriage as a secular institution. I say ironically because, unlike in Catholicism and other Christian sects, marriage in Islam has always been a secular institution.

Apparently, President Touré was a strong backer of the new law, but, as it's happening with the estabilishment of public healthcare in the USA, a lot of misinformation and outright lies have been circulating confusing the matter, causing him to send the law back to parliament. Feminist groups, that had been campaigning for such a reform for a decade or more, are "discouraged" indeed.

Source: BBC.


Just a heads up: there is an interesting (albeit divulgative) review of the issue of dimensions (spatial, temporal and "higher" dimensions) at New Scientist. Of course what caught my attention were the sub-articles on 5 or more dimensions and their utility in real life physics.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nestlé labor unionists murdered in Colombia

The Swiss multinational corporation
Nestlé is already quite infamous for its brutal policies like promoting artificial foods for babies among the poor (causing infant malnutrition), benefitting from slave labor at cocoa plantations around the world and closely collaborating with the racist Israeli regime.

But there is yet another dark chapter for Nestlé now: 12 workers of their company Nestlé Purina PetCare de Colombia S.A. have been murdered in the last years for being active in the labor union SINALTRAINAL, murders that, of course, are not being investigated by the corrupt regime of Bogotá. The last victim is Gustavo Gómez, murdered this August 21st by sicarios who put 10 bullets in his body.

SINALTRAINAL denounces the attitude of the government of Álvaro Uribe, which does not investigate, persecute nor punish such criminals, while whitewashing the reality towards the foreign public opinion and, at the same time, actively persecuting unionists in the press and the tribunals.

Source: Rebelión.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Worst game ever

This is quite funny:

Posted originally by frustrated Shadowbaner (Tremblewick) at SBEmulator forums. Shadowbane was of course the best game ever... but now is dead.

And still another critical role for vitamin D

As I said yesterday, it's been known for decades that it's critical in bone formation, recently was found that it is also
critical in neural development and yesterday I read that it is also important in disease prevention and recovery.

And now I read that it has yet another function: it allows macrophages to ignore cholesterol, what prevents these vital defense cells from becoming "foam cells", a central element of atherosclerosis, the degenerative disease that clots blood vessels.

So, well, there are loads of reasons for depigmentation north of the tropics, where winters exist and cause a serious decrease of the natural intake of this crucial vitamin.

History of solidarity with Basques marks Uruguay elections

Fifteen years ago the Uruguayan left went to the streets massively against the extradition of three Basque refugees. These mobilizations were supported by the
Frente Amplio (Ample Front), today in power, and were brutally quelled by the right-wing President Luis Alberto Lacalle, killing one, Fernando Morroni, and injuring dozens.

This institutional murderer is still at large and running again for President. For that reason today a demonstration has been called in Montevideo, demanding that Lacalle is judged for his crimes, that history is not whitewashed and ratifying the solidarity with the struggle of the Basque Country for independence and that of all peoples for self-determination.

Because self-determination is democracy and democracy is self-determination.

Source: Gara.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yet another critical role of vitamin D

For those who still think that vitamin D is not important enough to justify depigmentation, regardless that it's crucial for bone and neural development, specially in phoetal and child stages of development, here comes yet another critical role: it regulates bactericidal proteins.

In primates and related animals, like squirrels, this anti-bacterial innate reaction is largely dependant on some highly preserved Alu insertion that is regulated by vitamin D. Low vitamin D hence may mean that we get sick more easily and with worse consequences.

Source: Science Daily.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Anti-copyright-madness party growing in Europe

You might have heard of Pirate Bay, a Swedish site dedicated to share all kind of e-stuff with total disregard for the so-called "intellectual property" that has been harshly persecuted recently. Well, people of the same ideas organized a party for the last Euro polls and got a seat with 7.1% of votes in the Scandinavian kingdom.

But the anti-copyright snowball may have just began to roll: some weeks later a German MP deserted the SDP to become the first Pirate member of the Budestag. Now the news is that the brand new British Pirate Party is adding some 100 members per hour to its ranks. Due to economic constrains, they may not be able to run in all districts in the next general elections.

The Pirates want to legalize non-commercial file sharing and cut excessive Internet surveillance, they also want to reform the copyright laws that do not benefit the creators but the corporations.

There are registered or unregistered Pirate Parties in most EU and NATO countries, as well as in Russia, Australia, South Africa, Peru and Chile. I wonder if this crucial issue of who controls the every day more virtual capitalist property is a new fact of the secular Class War. It certainly fits very well within what Toni Negri wrote a couple of decades ago claiming that the crucial struggle nowadays is that for control of the production.

Map showing the countries where there are registered (black) or unregistered (blue) Pirate Parties or where these are being considered (red).

Sources: The Register (links in text) and Wikipedia.

Elderly citizen to prision for waving a Basque flag

In yet another twist of this surrealistic neofascist situation we are being forced into, Kontsuelo Agirrebarrena, 61, has been sentenced to four years of prison for carrying a flag in a protest against the undemocratic municipal government of Lizartza, Gipuzkoa.

In the last elections of 2007, the illegal Basque Left list got 187 votes, while the Spanish Conservative one got 27. Hence the Spanish Conservatives got the local administration with only 10% of the actual votes. This brutal injustice has obviously caused loads of protests and tension in the small town, with the neofascists denouncing everybody around, even against the local priest, who dared to ask the illegitimate mayor's bodyguards not to enter the church armed.

In one of such protests, Mrs. Agirrebarrena was denounced for "aggression" against the mayor. In the trial the accusation was lowered to "attempt" and the sentence gathers that all she did was waving a Basque flag while the officers passed by without any hit or anything of the like. But, in spite of that, the tribunal (Supreme Tribunal at Madrid) sentences that the crime of "attack to authority" must be applied because "who knows that intimidates or charges against a person who has authority has, therefore, the intent of attacking that person".

She has been sentenced to four years in prison and a fine of 1800 euros.

In practice, Lizartza is partly self-ruled now regardless of the official government, because the people has boycotted every single initiative of the unelected mayor Regina Otaola. All cultural activities are in fact out of the official muncipal sphere.

Source: Gara.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Israel official protest draws attention on yet another organ traffick scandal

The Judeonazi Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigador Liebermann, has sparked a diplomatic row with Sweden that reminds somewhat to the pressure put on Denmark a few years ago on the issue of Mohamed cartoons. In a crucial aspect the case is the same: a newspaper publishes something and some freaky Middle Eastern extremist claims to heavens about it. The rest of the details are different.

Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet published a story that tells of Israeli soldiers have repeatedly kidnapped Palestinian youths and returned their bodies days later - the lack of the organs was discovered in the preparations for the funerals. According to the newspaper, the most important of Sweden, these inccidents date back to 1992.

Liebermann, who is widely known for his extremist racist genocidal rantings, accuses the newspaper of "blood libel", whatever that means, and has demanded that the Swedish government intervenes. The foreign minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt (oil magnate and regular of the Bilderberg Group, hence probably a very influential patrician within the Atlantic Empire) has been forced to ratify the right of freedom of speech in Sweden. This in itself is another signal, I understand, of increased, but still limited, clash between important sections of the Zionist Mafia and the more pragmatic elements within the Empire.

The scandal comes to add to the similar and probably connected case in the USA where an organ trafficking network involving influential rabbis and centered in Israel was dismantled by the FBI.

But the Zionists still feel as impune as to openly protest the denounciation of such macabre business as "antisemitism". They do not care at all about the Jewish racism implicit in such operations, so similar to Hitler's disdain for non-German lives, but they claim that anyone denouncing it is a racist. How hypocritical!

Israel is sadly famous now for these organ trafficking schemes but has been for long denounced as a Mecca of female slavery, all protected by the racist laws and powers that govern the controversial country.

Sources: BBC, Intifada-Palestine, Palestine Free Voice, When being anti means being for coexistence, human rights and peace.

"Freedom of Speech" demo banned

In the line of the latest fascist developments in the Basque Country, a demonstration demanding freedom of speech that will take place today has been forbidden by the Spanish tribunals.

The fascist unelected government of the Western Basque Country, ironically, says that the people calling to the demonstration are "intolerant" and has the shamelessness to say that, if they "keep the challenge it will be proven once again that what they want is confrontation and the opportune measures will be taken to avoid it". What basically means that they will throw the cops against the demonstrators no matter how many victims they cause (I know it sounds like they will avoid doing precisely that but they are that type of shameless hypocrites: peaceful demonstration is violence, police brutality is peace... could be an Orwellian slogan indeed, in the line of "war is peace, freedom is slavery").

In the same line, yesterday, police intervened against the txosnak (festive bars of the kompartsak, festive groups that are the backbone of the fiestas) at Bilbao, removing all photos of Basque prisoners and a totally unrelated item: a banner in solidarity with the Gaztexte, the popular social center. The resistence was peaceful: the repressive action was countered by music with love messages for each of the prisoners and people kept dancing in spite of the tension. Booing, whistling and cries of "go to Madrid" got the policemen stressed and they beat some people (this "detail" has not been broadcasted on TV). Eventually they retired under cries of "keep on, keep on... until you reach Madrid".

Masked riot policemen (known as beltzak: the black ones) deployed at the txosnak.

As fascist pressure mounts up, it has also been known that a municipal worker of Orkoien found his work van grafittied with fascist symbols and death threats. Watch out the "democrats" are coming!

Reads: caution Julio, look under (meaning there could be a bomb)

Let's see what happens today but, considering what we saw in Donostia last week, I expect a brutal intervention against the txosnak with many injured and arrested (hopefully there will be no deaths but you never know) and the interruption of the fiestas, as it happened once in the early 80s.

Source Gara (links in text).

Update: the demonstration was officially un-called at the police station and in a press release. In spite of it three spontaneous demonstrations took place: one was rapidly smashed by the police causing some riots, another, the original one, was prevented by masses of cops and finally a third one managed to walk through Autonomia street, one of the main arteries of Bilbao, gathering thousands and managing to reach the usual destination at the Arenal. At least three people have been arrested an it's reported huge police deployement in the city. I can hear a helicopter as I write this. Sources: Gara and verbal reports.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Police aggression in fiestas "excessive", major says

In yet another sad development of the hyper-repressive tendency of the new undemocratic Western Basque government,
the major of Gernika had to denounce as "excessive" the intervention of the autonomous police corps in the middle of the fiestas of the Biscayne town that caused many injured and four arrested (already released but charged with "apology of terrorism", "breach of judicial order" and "alteration of public order").

The police aggression was intended against a festive-political action known as "triki-poteo" in solidarity with Basque prisoners, which surely consisted in going from bar to bar drinking normally with some sort of commemorative paraphernalia like the now forbidden photos of these prisoners.

Basque "political prisoners", not all members of ETA or even guilty of any sort of violent action nowadays, are scattered throughout the Spanish geography and submitted to draconian prison measures (extended penalties, often amounting to de facto live sentences, isolation, threats, tortures...), forcing their relatives and friends to put up with lengthy journeys every weekend or so in order to be able to visit them, maybe in Cádiz, more than 1000 km away from the Basque Country. Many relatives have suffered deadly traffic accidents in such travels. The demand is that they are sent back to the Basque Country (Euskal presoak Euskal Herrira: Basque prisoners to the Basque Country).

Recently the Neoinquisition special tribunal (Audiencia Nacional, heir of Franco's Tribunal de Orden Público) decreed that showing photos of these prisoners or otherwise showing solidarity with them ammounts to "apology of terrorism" and is therefore illegal. Many taverns have been forced to remove them or fined for not doing it. This campaign of solidarity with Basque prisoners has been going since always and, naturally, counts with many supporters, including most relatives and acquaintances of those prisoners, amounting to a large fraction of the Basque people therefore (this is a very small country), but only now, since the death of fascist dictator Franco, has been declared illegal in any form.

In the past, when such iconic elements have been declared illegal, they have been re-legalized de facto by armed action. When the Basque banner was illegal in the 70s bomb-flags were placed in many places, causing the death of several police officers who attempted to remove them. After a recent campaign against nationalist propaganda, bombs were attached to some political banners, causing that these banners are seldom removed anymore. I would therefore expect soon to see bomb-photos if this new repressive trend does continues.

Cosas veredes... (things thou shall see, from the Cantar del Mío Cid, Castilian medieval literature).

Photo from Gara

By the moment, anyhow, the resistence has been mostly pacific: with the posters removed by police being replaced just hours later and the memory of Basque prisoners becoming omnipresent. The police repression is therefore having exactly the opposite effect than the one intended. After all it's classic guerrilla manual: action > repression > increased mobilization and consciousness.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Afghanistan legalizes rape within marriage

In spite of widespread condemnantion inside and outside the country,
the Afghan Parliament has approved a law that allows Shia men to starve their wifes if they refuse to have sex.

This is the kind of stuff you can get with thoughtless "multiculturalism" becoming more important than human rights or mere common sense. And this is the kind of "liberation" that the oppressed women of the World can expect from the US Empire.

The Great Week of Bilbao begins in most tense environment

The Aste Nagusia (Great Week) of Bilbao finally began yesterday, as the one of Donostia (San Sebastian) is almost drowned in blood, rather than dying peacefully as usual. Another elderly man, totally unrelated with any protest, was injured yesterday as police charged again against a demonstration in solidarity with Basque prisoners in Donostia. Three people have been arrested.

Image of the demonstration before police intervened (Gara)

Meanwhile the death threats against Bilbao txupinera, Sonia Polo, sister of a prisoner herelf, have fed the tension even more. But finally the Aste Nagusia began yesterday as close to normality as possible while the (Spanish) Bishop of Bilbao used the pulpit to make pro-Spanish anti-ETA politics, demonstrating that the Catholic Church is anything but neutral in this milennary conflict between the Basque People and the neighbouring opressor empires.

Sonia Polo (in red) fires the inaugural rocket (txupin)

Noticeably, this August 15, celebrated by Catholics as day of Virgin Mary, is precisely the day that Basques fought their most celebrated battle of all times, smashing the knightly rearguard of the imperialist army of Charlemagne at Orreaga (Roncevaux). Some people went to the Pyrenean pass of Ibaineta to commemorate it, deploying a huge Navarrese banner:

Source: Gara (links in text).


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Police charges against everybody at Donostia fiestas

In a yet another crazy repressive attempt, the Western Basque police corps,
Ertzaintza, charged wildly against a demonstration in solidarity with Basque prisoners, subject to exceptional punishment measures, and then against everybody at the fiestas of Donostia (San Sebastian).

Two injured, one of them an 85 years old man who was watching a dance exhibition.

The demonstration was held in total silence, with hundreds carrying the photos of Basque prisioners, who are scattered through the Spanish imperial geography, forcing their relatives and friends to go on lengthy journeys to be able to visit them even if only now and then. The march was opened by a banner reading "Basque prisoners and refugees back home".

After being identified by the policemen and when they were already packing their stuff as it was obvious they would not be allowed to go on, police charged forcing everybody to run away and search refuge wherever possible. But policemen were in the mood of wreaking havoc and charged indiscriminately against everyone, shooting rubber bullets at short distance, causing two injured.

After this craze, a group of younger people (the original demonstration was mostly held by relatives, often of advanced age) grabbed the photos and attempted again to held the demonstration, also suffering a charge.

Today there will be another larger demonstration with the same goal.

In spite of the recent prohibition by the controversial inquisitorial super-judge Baltasar Garzón, dozens of such "illegal" demonstrations have happened throughout the Basque geography. For instance, a similar demo in Tafalla, Navarre, happened without problems thanks to the police not bothering showing up. Other places where such demos have taken place are: Arbizu, Etxarri-Aranatz, Bilbao, Lekeitio, Mundaka, Lazkao, Pamplona, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Hernani, Bera and Orereta. All without problems.

This new unprecedented prohibition has also caused the suppression of the traditional fiestas opening discourse in Gernika, because it was explicitly forbidden for being Etxerat (back home) one of the popular organisms in charge of it, along with the local rugby team, that has also been criminalized by the Spanish Neoinquisition because photos of prisioners are often shown at their matches. In protest the first part of the inaugural parade was held without music and among cries of solidarity with the Basque prisoners.

Source: Gara.

Major archaeology news from Britain and Ireland

Via Archaeology in Europe, a most interesting blog I only recently discovered.

Megalithic "cathedral" discovered in Orkney.

Apparently part of the huge complex, possibly of religious relevance, found in Orkney (including the Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stennes) a huge building of 82x65 feet (approx. 26x21 meters), dated to c. 3000 BCE, has been unearthed at Orkney at the Ness of Brodgar site. The walls, some 16 ft thick (5 m) stand still to up one meter and must have been much higher in the past.

The building includes a cross-shaped "sanctum", including stone furniture, a surrounding paved outer passage, and an unusual menhir or standing stone split by a hole with an hour-glass shape.

In the same area a large wall, dubbed "the Great Wall of Brodgar", was discovered last year. The whole site is thought as huge religious complex of some sort.

Read more at News.Scotsman.

For more complete information on the archaeological research, Toos, points me to Orknejar.

Precisely I was discussing this matter a few weeks ago with my apartment mate. My question was basically: what the heck was doing such a huge temple in such a remote place? For him the religious and maybe astronomical reasons were enough, while I feel the need to find a more materialist explanation such as cod fisheries (sometimes claimed to be the culprit of Megalithic expansion) or even strategic reasons (would control the northern sea route). Naturally both explanations are not contradictory.

Other news are:

  • Oldest British Neolithic home, 9000 years old, found at the Isle of Man. Read more at Daily Mail.
  • Oldest Scottish settlements at Biggar, from 14,000 years ago, throughtly digged thanks to massive volunteer assistance. Read more at Hamilton Advertiser.
  • Neolithic (Chalcolithic by pan-European standards) settlement at Derry is 5000 years old. Read more at Derry Journal.

An update: as this post goes about British Neolithic archaeology, it's worth noting that there has been yet another discovery, this one in London: a timber platform pathway apparently used by the locals to cross a peat bog at the Thames has been dated to almost 6000 years ago. A similar structure dating to c. 5000 years ago was already known. Read more at Science Daily.

News from Palestine

I have been following for many months the
Palestine Blogs Aggregator, which is one of the best information sites on what is going on in Palestine from a variety of sources. The only downturn is that it is kind of overwhelming, with dozens of new items every day. This makes me difficult to comment on all them or even on the most relevant ones.

On the other hand direct regular info on what is going on behind the "kosher curtain" is not really available in the media. So I guess it is worth a try making a new section such as this one, briefly gathering an linking the most relevant news items, often outraging violations of human rights by the Zionist regime, on a regular basis.

Here it goes the first one:

  • Israel auctions refugees' land. The land robbed by Israel in 1948-49 and held by the state as "absentee property" (of course, refugees are banned from returning and claiming what is theirs, as they are not Jews) will be sold off under Israeli racist laws that will only allow Jews from anywhere to bid for it. -> Ramallah Online
  • Hamas rounds up extremist Islamist group linked to Al Qaeda, that had proclaimed an "emirate" in Gaza. Calls it Zionist puppet and says that Gaza belongs to Gazans. -> Irishh4Palestine, -> BBC
  • New Palestinian guerrilla group, the Jerusalem Army, claims capture of Israeli soldier near Ben Gurion airport, Tel Aviv. Israel says the claim is false. -> Gaza Solidarity -> The Palestine Center
  • Fatah veterans set to found new group, accuse Abbas of collaboration with the occupants. -> Gaza Solidarity
  • Hundreds demonstrate against arrests and intimidation campaing at the harassed town of Bil'in, center of nonviolent resistence against the occupation, separated from its lands by the wall of shame. International supporters also present. -> International Solidarity Movement, -> Bil'in, a village of Palestine
  • Human Rights Watch denounces Zionist defamation campaign. -> Derechos de todos (in Spanish)
  • Spaniards in alternative "holidays": rebuilding the homes demolished by the Zionist bulldozers. Campaign: Tú la tiras, nosotros la reconstruimos (you pull it down, we rebuild it). -> Derechos de todos (in Spanish). Related: Israeli protests against Spanish subsidies to NGOs that help Palestinians rebuild their homes -> El nido del cuco (in Spanish)
  • Israel involved in Colombia and other fascist networks in Latin America (not really hot news but worth recalling) -> El nido del cuco (in Spanish)
  • HRW, ICC: Israel killed white banner carrying civilians in Gaza (loads of links, check the aggregator)
I will try to keep with this informative section with some regularity.

Friday, August 14, 2009

God, the Universe and everything else

I was just watching one of those chapters of Richard Dawkins' series on evolution and religion. Naturally I share nearly every point of Dawkins' discourse, after all I was quite a typical atheist for some 15 or 20 years of my life, since I reached puberty till I neared my thirties.

In my opinion, Dawkins' discourse is one step behind and probably need some psychedelic experiences to get refined. Or at least some good re-reading of Spinoza's Ethics' first chapters.

Thanks largely to Spinoza, I have for a decade now overcome in my discourse and thought the monotheistic or theistic (I call that "alientheism" in fact) monopoly of God. God is not some peculiar Judaistic (or whatever) cultural and ideological interpretation of God but, philosophically speaking the ultimate cause of existence.

This ultimate cause has not yet been satisfactorily explained via science but much less via religion. Naturally, I do not pretend to understand It to the ultimate detail either but it's obvious from scientific knowledge (not just evolutionary biology but nearly everything else (tectonics, astronomy, archaeology...) that the traditional religious myths are totally wrong.

So the alientheist religions basically lie about God and therefore they are a form of idolatry: idolatry of words. Their golden calf is a book or series of books that just utter nonsense. Ok some of those myths may still keep some truth in regard to Hebrew history or, arguably, some good ethical advise. But otherwise they are just nonsense and those who defend them are blatant liars. And those who have faith are mere idolaters who worship words, not God.

The only valid "scripture" of God is in the facts of life and existence. Of course lies like those uttered in the Bible, the Talmud or the Quran are also facts of life (no more than, say, The Satanic Verses or Les Fleurs du Mal), what tells me that God also enjoys some deceit. Nothing that Spinoza would argue against, obviously, because for him God has infintite attributes, including deceit and manipulation. A perfect and absolute God cannot lack anything, as the Manicheistic preachers want us to believe.

So what's the truth about God? Just look around you in the facts of life, like the biological dance and the cosmological one as well. That is what we know about God.

For some God would be not really present but alien to all this reality, yet its conscious creator. But to these I can't but argue that the artist is always in the artwork, that the two cannot be detached. Who is Van Gogh? Some "crazy" redhair with a troubled life or his marvelous paitings that shatter every soul? Or both? At least we know something about Van Goghs real life. But what about Homer? Like with God, we can only judge him for his works.

So, lacking any evidence of the existence of an alien creator God, I argue that it is pointless and fundamentally not different from an ominpresent holistic God: the Pan Theos. Pantheism is, of course, not essentially different from atheism, just that we pantheists don't let the idolaters of words and doctrines to monopolize such a fundamental concept. Also we are less concerned about death than both atheists and alientheists because we are quite consicous that our individuality is mostly a short temporal illusion and what really matters, if anything, is the whole: the cosmic dance, God, of which we are just manifestations.

Actually I need this understanding in order to relax from the incredible dramatic self-destruction we are engaged in. After all, if we cannot stop it, if humankind and life-as-we-know-it is going to vanish in the next decades or so, I can be confident that the Universe as such will keep going. We can only cause so much destruction after all. It would be a terrible pity that we'd misuse such fantastic cognitive and creative capabilities as we have as species and the lusty thriving beauty of Earth and I hope we can still reverse the process. But if these hopes happen to be wrong, I know that the essence behind all that will still be there. It could be worse, I guess.

Enough for today. Enjoy.

Not yet metallurgy but the same basic concept... 75,000 years ago

New archaeological research at Pinnacle Point, South Africa, evidences that people living there some 75,000 years ago had elaborate techniques of fire usage in order to alter the properties of rock (silcrete specifically) to best fit their manufacturing needs.

Lead researcher, Kyle Brown, from Arizona University, experimented with their hypothesis, based on field evidence: he left a piece of silcrete beneath their fire pit and the next morning he found the color had changed exactly as with their material evidence and the rock had become much more easy to flake and work into replicas of the prehistorical tools they had been studying.

For him:
Here are the beginnings of fire and engineering, the origins of pyrotechnology, and the bridge to more recent ceramic and metal technology.

Read more at Science Daily.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Death threats against Bilbao txupinera

Remember that the
txupinera of my hometown fiestas was being pressed to step down because her brother is in jail for political reasons? Well, the political campaign against her failed and she will perform her role normally... but the issue does not end here it seems. Some within the Neofascist unionist bloc have gone one step further, one step too far: they have sent her a letter with a bullet inside.

Spanish unionist terror is back, as I have been forced to report in the past (see this and this posts) and it is a worrisome trend, yet a situation we have lived with in the past and that has not reported any benefits to the enemies of the Basque People. To date no one has been officially murdered (though there is one missing and probably dead) since the GAL (police an mercenary commandos under direct Spanish guvernamental control) died off in the early 90s but the threats are there and we know well that the killings can begin again at any moment. I just hope to be worng, sincerely.

Hopefully we will have some resemblance of normality this upcoming Great Week (starts August 21st this year). In any case, my total support to Sonia Polo, who doesn't deserve this, obviously.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Brittany's green toxic tide, the horses and the cart

An otherwise innocuous alga has become, thanks to the massive agricultural pollution, in a major threat to the ecosystem, tourism and even lives. The now widespread green toxic tide of sea lettuce remains forms a crust under which a deadly gas, hydrogen sulphide, forms, threatening the lives of those who may dare to walk on it.
A horse has already died and its human rider could only barely be saved from the same destiny.

The culprit? Pollution. Nitrogen pollution from the many farms throughout a country that is the major producer by far of pork (60%), poultry (45%) and dairies (30%) in the French Republic. The nitrogen high residues from these farms hyper-fertilize the coastal sea causing overgrowth of these weeds and the subsequent problems that threaten the tourism industry, as well as people's lives and cause a huge cost in the municipalities that desperately try to keep the tide away from their beaches.

More at BBC.

The real problem, I understand, is that these destructive "industries" are being allowed to pollute without paying for their damage. This makes their products "competitive" but the costs are only transferred to Nature and the public.

It is obvious that industrial or agricultural pollution should not be tolerated, certainly not beyond a minimal threshold, and that instead of investing so much public money in ecologically-friendly projects, authorities should be punishing destructive practices instead. This would result in healthier budgets and, of course, environments.

Some would argue that this would make industries less competitive, which only has an answer: eco-protectionism: forbid imports from polluting countries and/or make them pay high taxes. But first we have to clean our home, so we can ask the same from others.

But the opposite practice is what prevails.

Here for decades, we have been paying to electric companies an special "tax" just because they were forbidden to build new nuclear facilities. Logically, they should be the ones paying us for the facilities already built, which cause clear damage to the environment (either by leaks, the ever present danger of an accident and the totally unmanageable residues). Same for the conventional burner facilities.

That would make ecologically friendly electricity to be competitive. But the interest of the monopolistic industry remains, instead of that of the consumers, taxpayers and environment. And nope: electricity is anything but cheap.

What about water? In southern Spain for example, edible water is being misused brutally in golf courses and intensive industrial farming, causing, along with global warming, the rapid desertification of the area. Yet edible water is there a lot cheaper than here, where it rains every other day, and farmers and tourism entrepreneurs still demand more anti-natural water transfers from other hydrographical basins.

Again the interest of the industry and not that of the country (environment, people) is favored. The cart is once and again put before the horses in a never satiated capitalist accumulation process in which the wealth is extracted from Nature and the people into the pockets of a privileged class of vampires.

And I could continue but I have to stop at some point.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Like bacteria in a Petri dish

What do a culture of bacteria in a
Petri dish and Humankind have in common? That both die off in a sea of their own waste.

That's what Andy Coghlan ponders at New Scientist: like bacteria, we also use up all resources available voraciously and like the Petri dish Earth has boundaries that we cannot practically overcome. We are just doing exactly what our distant unicellular relatives, and all other species do: consume voraciously. But unlike other species, humans do not anymore have effective competitors or predators that could control our size. We have also become so terribly efficient that we consume at rhythms and amounts inconceivable for other species.

We have achieved all that thanks to our unique intelligence and the technological achievements derived from it. But we seem unable to use these unique advantages to control ourselves. Certainly not within a Capitalist context.

Other comparisons mentioned in the Ecological Conference of Albuquerque, just liken our species and our cities to a cancer. After all cancer are just feral cells, so to say: cells that have gone wild and do not anymore respond to the needs of the body but to their primal unicellular instincts.

Quite worrisome is that a very nearby date: 2025, 16 years from now, is mentioned as an absolute limit.

But it's not just our wild instincts, it is also the crisis of Capitalism: a crisis that has been "solved", actually just delayed and complicated, several times by a political decision leading to over-consumerism:

According to Rees, the change took place after the second world war in the US, when factories previously producing weapons lay idle, and soldiers were returning with no jobs to go to.

American economists and the government of the day decided to revive economic activity by creating a culture in which people were encouraged to accumulate and show off material wealth, to the point where it defined their status in society and their self-image.

Of course this is not different of what Thatcher and Reagan did in the 80s, leading to the current credit crisis. It is a runaway forward that basically intends: everything but a real solution, everything but socialism:

But there is hope, however slim, according to Rees, both from the top down and the bottom up. The hope from above is that governments will finally realise that never-ending economic growth is incompatible with the finite material resources Earth has to offer, and begin to manage those resources more fairly and equitably through some kind of world government.

And while it's not mentioned by this name, the only solution is in fact capping individual consume, what is exactly as getting rid of the upper (and middle) classes and begin again to live in much less pretentious way. A way that can perfectly produce happiness anyhow, because once the essentials are satisfied, greater consumption only produces minimal amounts of happiness, exactly like an addict who can barely get any pleasure anymore from the drug he/she is slave to.

But there is good reason for pessimism:

Pararelli is even more pessimistic. The only hope, he says, is a disaster of immense scale that jolts us out of our denial. "My sense is that only when the brown stuff really hits the fan will we finally start to do something."

The next years and decades will be decisive: will we die off like the lab bacteria or will we learn and radically correct more than a century of brutal abuse of our motherland, our only motherland: Earth.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Italian fascism reinforced

As you may know I'm quite worried about the rise of fascism in Europe. Not so much about the marginal extremist parties, that too, but specially about the sliding into totalitarianism without almost noticing, carried by "perfectly normal" conservative or even socialist parties.

In the case of Italy, where there is no free press de facto (all the relevant media belongs to Berlusconi, a system almost identical to the regime of Milosevic in Serbia: allows voting but misinformation reigns), where the ruler has got away from justice way too many times by pushing legal reforms that would make him immune to prosecution, where he is strongly suspected to be in collussion with the Mafia and member of the former totalitarian and violent masonry the Logia P2, the situation has gone awry long ago.

Sadly the EU has not been able or willing to impose a quarantine on his regime, the same it did with that of Haider in Austria some years ago. But the situation is way too similar. And one can't ignore that the neofascists of Fini are a pillar of Berlusconi's ruling bloc.

Today we learn with deep sadness and worry that Italy has gone one, or rather two steps further into full fledged fascism: it is the first EU country to make illegal immigration a punishable crime, not just for immigrants but also for "collaborators", like people who might rent homes to these refugees, who can be punished with up to five years in prision. Simultaneously "citizen patrols" have been legalized.

I have been very much concerned in particular about Italy's democratic demise in the las two decades and I suspect that this year and these laws will be soon considered by historians as an inflection point in the slide of old Italy to a new form of fascism.

What is even more worrisome is that the same kind of trends you see everywhere in EU: France, Britain, Spain... all these states and many others are more and more becoming less democractic and more totalitarian. Civil rights are less and less and we are almost forced to look outside Europe, maybe to countries like Brazil or Bolivia in order to find references for democracy in the 21st century.

A very sad decade for Europe indeed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Zionist Anthropology Forum (2)

This post continues
the previous post of the series. As the other one it is mainly intended for the people in that sad site to know the truth of what happened. The truth they will never be allowed to know there.

What follows (in blue) is a copy (with minor format modifications: just those needed to change from BBcode to HTML - nothing else) of the post that was first agreed I could post (the exact content was not discussed) and then censored. It explains the events from the beginning until a hopeful point in which I thought I would be able to stay:

I am NOT leaving (and why)

First of all and most importantly: I AM FINALLY NOT LEAVING.

I'm going to try to explain the matter as briefly and fairly as possible here.

Also, thanks to all the people who replied with messages of sympathy. I'm not sure I can really reply to all - though I'll try. My apologies for the "false alarm" but I was determined to leave at the moment. Things have changed since then though.

Let's go step by step.

As you may know, certain moderator with whom I have got lengthy discussions on Zionism, decided last Thursday that certain paragraph of mine was "racial slur". The paragraph in question was this one:

It's clear that Zionism is not good for Jews either, at least not for working class Jews. It's probably good for the financial and political aristocracy and the occasional Madoff (how many of the rest are just Madoffs filling their pockets and grabbing positions of power with the pretext of Zionism?)

Though the first sentence was cropped from the sanction notice. Judge yourself.

I felt (also for previous warning/threats) that he was acting inquisitorially from an ideological viewpoint and just looking for anything that could be somehow sanctionable. Additionally he was both judge and part. Not finding anything else, he picked this sentence that apparently excited his imagination.

I was quite pissed off, as you can imagine, but followed the procedure. I appealed to him to no avail (rule 14) and then I was given the choice to appeal to one out of three administrators (rule 15): Ayepod, Augustus Khan and Aino Tuitti. I had thought to appeal to Ezana (who's presence as admin here was the main reason I decided to join first of all) but it was then when I learned he was not anymore and admin.

After careful consideration, I chose Aino. Who had only recently promoted to admin. I argued my innocence and asked the removal of the sanction and the disciplining of the mod in question for abuse of power.

I was rather disappointed when she wrote back saying she was going to consult with Ayepod. I protested that by rule 15 it was one admin and not the whole administrative board who should consider the matter. I got no reply.

Beforehand, I had already decided that, if the system was not able to impart justice in this so clear matter, I would leave. I told that to Artbro, who did not care, but I omitted in my appeal (did not want to pressure the system more: if it failed, it was clear that I was in the wrong place).

So yesterday, as many of you already know, I got notice from Ayepod saying that the sanction was to stay. I wrote a lengthy reply announcing my leave and the whole set of irregularities of this process. I also posted a copy with a brief explanation to all members I could think I had some sort of sympathy for, who are many.

I was obviously determined to quit, otherwise would not have sent so many PMs. I was attending to some concerned replies when I got replies from Ayepod and Aino. Actually there was a cut of service in between and only after it I got these replies.

They will surely explain themselves better but essentially Ayepod said he should not have interfered and that they were willing to follow the procedure this time. After some consideration, I replied that ok and that, in order to allow for a fair retrial, I could only take compromise on not leaving on this matter, whatever the final result.

I also mentioned that I would have to make a post like this one in order to explain.

The mark is not the issue, obviously, but the fairness and neutrality of the process. I felt under some sort of Zionist inquisition willing to split the non-existent hairs of Yul Brynner's head in order to "scare" me or even get rid of me altogether. Obviously I was not in the mood of taking part in such a mockery of justice nor there was any point in suffering under such a system when it's so easy to just take the door and leave.

At this moment the sanction has been reppealed by Aino anyhow. But, as I said and repeat here, I felt it was needed that I revoked my decision completely in order for a fair appeal to take place without any pressure. They were willing to correct their errors and I could not take any other stand that was fair for all.

So I'm staying.

I'll try to reply individually to all who have written but, if I fail to, please accept my apologies. Also my apologies for whatever confusion I may have created.

Sadly, the issue did not end here: minutes later I learned from Ayepod himself that the post had been deleted (Artbro I guess). Some time later he said that the post had been properly deleted: that I was challenging a moderator.

Hm, whatever. Are you going to let common users be persecuted ideologically and the perpetrators to remain beyond scrutiny? In my concept of democracy and justice, people invested with power are much more subject to public scrutiny and have to bear the weight of their decissions much more than those that, like me, are just commoners.

I was just being gagged again, this time in order to protect some Torquemada. So I could not stay. I have been thinking on the matter for some 48 hrs and could not come to any other conclussion.

Minutes ago I noticed I could not even reply to private messages in the site anymore. The Inquisition at its best. Sadly for them their power does not reach beyond their petty forum. Here I can write freely and nobody seems to want to gag me.

Good riddance!

Zionist Anthropology Forum (1)

The following was written some three days ago but stored as draft as new events unfolded. This and the upcoming posts of this series are mostly intended to give the explanations I could not give in the proper channels to the other members of that site. They won't find this issue explained anywhere in the site, except maybe in the backstage rumor mill that sadly enough seems the only reliable source of information there.

This post is about an infamoust Zionist-controlled site I'm leaving behind,, and why.

But I should start from the beginning. Why I joined it first of all. Well, as my readers surely know I am very interested in anthropology, prehistory and human genetics. So along the last years I've been member of several forums, not many anyhow because it's difficult to find nice places that deal with such matters (that sadly enough seem to attract racist bigots like honey does with flies). In the past I was hence member for some time of a now extinct site called Human Biodiversity Forum (HBF for short) that I eventually left tired of the abusive behaviour that was allowed to all kind of trolls, notably all kind of racist idiots.

But there was some nice people there too, not necesarily people that agreed with me in everything (not at all) but people with whom you could have decent serious constructive debates. Among them there was an Ethiopian nicknamed Ezana, a person I considered serious, hardworking and fair. When there was a vote to propose new moderators I voted for him but at the time he declined the responsability.

Years later, this spring, I saw a comment by Ezana in some other blog with a link to this Anthroforum site. I followed the link out of curiosity and found he was an administrator there. That was enough to persuade me to join.

So I've been active at that site for some time. Till today.

Things started going awry some days ago, as certain moderator, known as Artbro, who had been arguing with me rather heatedly on Zionism, sent me an informal warning for comparing Zionism with Nazism and arguably falling into ad-hominem attack because I included the sentence "You are a Nazi" in this context. No big deal, largely because it was not an infraction by the rules, that require "repeated personal attacks". But it got me paranoid about this guy and, as resulted eventually, with good reason.

Some days later, in the very same discussion thread, he decided that the following paragraph was "racial slur":

It's clear that Zionism is not good for Jews either, at least not for working class Jews. It's probably good for the financial and political aristocracy and the occasional Madoff (how many of the rest are just Madoffs filling their pockets and grabbing positions of power with the pretext of Zionism?)

According to him criticising the Jewish capitalist class, even if it's obviously in contrast to the Jewish working class, is racial slur.

It was such a blatant injustice that really got me pissed off. I nevertheless followed the procedure and appealed, first to Artbro himself (what was doomed from the beginning) and then to an administrator of my choice. I wanted to appeal to Ezana but it was then when I discovered that he was not anymore administrator. Later I found via gossip that Ezana and another administrator, Kadu, had been deposed by the site owner some days before, apparently because they wanted to punish some abusive white supremacists and the owner did not.

At that moment I felt that my presence on that site was virtually over. But I had to finish the procedure first, just to check the system and see if the rumors were correct or what? I could choose between thre administrators: Ayepod, the Jewish or half-Jewish owner of the site and the person responsible for Ezana's demotion and white racists being allowed to run amok, Augustus Khan, a Nordicist right-winger, and Aino Tuitti, a reflexive Finnish woman who was surely already a little molest with me for arguing that there was Siberian genetics specially among Uralic Europeans, and also among others.

I chose the later, requesting the infraction to be removed and Artbro to be disciplined for abuse of power. Minutes later I got a reply that she had to consult with Ayepod. I protested that she was supposed to rule on the appeal on her own but to no avail. Today I recieved a notification from Ayepod saying that the infraction stayed:

After some debate amongst the moderators, the consensus is that the infraction should stand. Although it should have been accounted in your infraction at the time, the 'Zionazi' jibe is also on our minds. The infraction is on the harsh side. So that it does not occupy your User CP forever, you can PM me in 5 or 6 weeks, and the infraction can be deleted from appearing in your User CP.

I replied that I was leaving and explaining in detail why (Zionist inquisitorial persecution, Ezana's demotion, feeling insulted about being called "racist", lack of a proper procedure, etc.) I also let that be known to everyone who matters in private communications.

(to be continued)

Ancient Guanche Y-DNA

Dienekes I have just come to know of a fascinating new research on ancient Y-DNA from the Canary Islands. It is most precious information, as it informs us not only of the patrilineal genetics of the aboriginal Guanches (the matrilineages had already been researched previously) but also, by extension, about the pre-Arabic Y-DNA of North Africa to some extent.

Rosa Fregel et al., Demographic history of Canary Islands male gene-pool:
replacement of native lineages by European. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2009 (provisional PDF - open access).

The authors managed to extract Y-DNA from 30 individuals, most of them from La Palma, from the pre-colonial period. Additionally 42 individuals from the period of Castilian conquest were also sampled succefully.

The aboriginal Guanches (n=30) had the following haplogroups (sorted by numerical importance):

E1b1b1b (M81) - 8 - 26.7%
E1b1b1a (M78) - 7 - 23.3%
J1 (M267) - 5 - 16.7%
R1b1b2 (M269) - 3 - 10%
K(xP) (M9) - 3 - 10%
I (M170) - 2 - 6.7%
E1a (M33) - 1 - 3.3%
P(xR1) - 1 - 3.3%

1. K* may be T. But notice that there are important amounts of K(xP,T) in modern Cape Verde, probably some odd founder effect and that the Canary Islands were briefly Portuguese at the very beginning of the colonial period. I'm wondering if it is some novel K sublineage, not yet described, specific of Canary Islands or rather North Africa.
2. P* is what? Could be R2, R(xR1,R2), Q or P(xQ,R) but all them are nearly unheard of so far west in the Old World.

In contrast, the Canarians of the conquest period were already in the process of Iberization: K*, I and P* were not identified anymore (this is admittedly odd for the case of I), the dominant "North African" lineages E1b1b1b, E1b1b1a and J1 show some clear reduction in their importance, R1b1b2 (very common in Iberia) increased massively up to 42.9% and R1a and E1b1a appeared for the first time (the latter probably as result of the African slave trade). This impact of colonization is much more marked than the one detected for mtDNA, emphasizing what we already knew that the colonization was largely a process carried on by men, as in Latin America.

What most interests me anyhow are these revelations:

1. J1 is pre-Arabic in North Africa. The same that the ancient Guanche mtDNA results showed that at least 50% of L(xM,N) pre-dates the slave trade, both in the Canary Islands and, by extension, mainland North Africa, this research shows that most of the North African J1 pre-dates the Muslim/Arabic conquest of the 7th century. It was something I already suspected (too common, clustered mostly in a distinct haplotype branch) so I am glad to see this suspicion confirmed.

2. "European" lineages R1b and I existed in North Africa prior to the Modern Age and probably prior to historical times altogether. Origins? If you're ready to challenge the TRMCA cult, maybe as old as Oranian (like their mtDNA counterparts H and V), if you're not, then blame Neolithic sailors maybe. The apportion detected 16.6% (5/30) for the sum of both lineages is just too high to be just erratics in any case.

In general, thank to these "fossil" records, we get a clear impresion that the modern DNA of North Africans is much like it used to be in the deep past and has been only minimally altered in the historical period.

The oldest map of Western Europe

The oldest map of Western Europe has 13,660 years (C
14) and represents the area of Arraitz in Northern Navarre.

It was engraved in a rock block by people of Magdalenian culture and has now been deciphered as such map, representing the local streams, mountains and some circles that probably represent areas which became swamps seasonally.

The rock map, a drawing of it and an interpretation with legend in German

The cave in which it was found is Abauntz Lamizulo, literally the hole of the lamias (mythological bird-footed nymphs) of Abauntz. It is rather to the south of the Magdalenian exploited area what may mean they used it seasonally or even just some good years, hence the importance of keeping a record of the geography, I guess.

The map also shows an engraved female deer and a deer head. Another block has an engraved horse head. These two blocks, property now of the Museum of Navarre, have bee temporarily ceded to the University of Zaragoza for their study.

In all Europe there are only two older known maps: these were found in Moravia engraved in bone.

The cave of Abauntz Lamizulo was surely a strategical location for Magdalenian hunter-gatherers. It discretly dominates the canyon under it, which the animals that lived in the rich valley of Zaldazain, like the now extinct aurochs, had to cross necessarily.

Sources: Gara, Pileta de Prehistoria.
Research paper: P. Utrilla et al., A palaeolithic map from 13,660 calBP: engraved stone blocks from the Late Magdalenian in Abauntz Cave (Navarra, Spain). Journal of Human Evolution, 2009 (paywall).

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dog origin anywhere in Eurasia

It was claimed some years ago (Savolainen et al., 2002) that dog domestication had happened apparently in East Asia, reasoning based on the genetic diversity of the animals sampled in that region. But now new research by Adam Boyko and colleagues challenges this after having sampled numerous dogs through Africa, while in honeymoon, Boyko has found that the diversity there is comparable to that found in East Asia.

But the study does not challenge the fundamental notion that the domestic dog descends from the Eurasian grey wolf (Canis lupus), so Africa cannot be the place where it was first domesticated. Where then? The question remains unanswered by the moment and East Asia could still be the place but the evidence is inconclusive.

The highest diversity found in Africa and East Asia so far doesn't seem to correspond to anything but the fact that village dogs, in contrast to purebreeds and mixes from these breeds, are intrinsecally much more diverse genetically. It is rural disinterest for dog breeding what has preserved that higher diversity, not any aboriginal pervivence.

It may be worth remembering here too that the oldest dogs found in the archaeological record belong to the Aurignacian culture of Europe, specifically in modern Belgium. It is also interesting to mention in this regard that this dog is apparently not the direct ancestor of modern dogs, at least matrilineally. (Note: I found another media article claiming that there are dog remains from Britain from before 100,000 BP, what would make the domestication a Neanderthal achievement - I cannot confirm this claim though).

Source: BBC.