New blogs

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

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Epipaleolithic wooden dock found in southern England

Very interesting, unique and intriguing archaeological discovery this one that I found
at Archaeology in Europe: the remains of a large wooden structure (maybe a dock), a log boat and lots of other artefacts (flint tools, strings, hazelnuts, charcoal...) have been discovered underwater at the Isle of Wight, in southern England. They date from the Epipaleolithic (also called sometimes "Mesolithic") period, before farming or pottery arrived to the area.

More details at

Defending centenary beeches against the high speed train

A group of people has climbed to three centenary beech trees at Ordizia in a nonviolent attempt to defend nature against that idiotic project of the Basque high speed train. They have declared they have no intention whatsoever to get down the trees. The information doesn't have much more detail as of yet.

Source: Gara.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hoduras: the usurper decrees the state of siege

Not sure if such term exists in English but it does in Spanish: it is the most extreme case of emergency and, as it name suggests, it implies that the town (or in this case the whole country) is under siege and hence all normal liberties are severely limited.

The decree implies that for the next 45 days, freedom of speech and movement will be extremely restricted, public gatherings are totally forbidden as well. The decree also commands the forcible evacuation of any public building occupied by demonstrators, closure of media "that offend human dignity, public servants or breach the law" and the arbitrary arrest of "suspect" people.

The decree was approved on September 22nd, just after the legitimate President Manuel Zelaya returned from his forced exile, but has only been published today and publicly broadcast in all TV and radio networks.

Zelaya in turn has protested the measure as "a barbarity" and has appealed to Parliament to suspend it and reach out to his offer of dialogue. He has also made an appeal for a pacific demonstration lasting for the next 24 hours.

Source: Gara.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Spanking children makes them dumb

That is the conclusion of
a study (paywall) by US researchers: that regular spanking is extremely altering and causes traumatic post-stress disorder reducing the young brain's ability to cope and develop normally.

The good news is that, as the practice of corporal punishment is steadily decreasing worldwide, the intelligence of the new generations is improving overall. In fact, it may be an important factor in the Flynn effect.

Source: Science Daily.

Antifascist memorial acts forbidden

The dynamics of re-fascistation in this little Basque Country are reaching unimagined levels: yesterday the Spanish political tribunal (Audiencia Nacional) declared illegal all acts by the perfectly legal association
Ahaztuak ("the forgotten ones") that is dedicated to restore the memory of those fallen fighting against fascism or impunely murdered by it. Gudari Eguna (the day of the fighter) was estabilished for this reason in September 26th, to remember the Basque anti-fascist fighters, known as gudariak (fighters or warriors).

This date is also used by ETA supporters to commemorate those militants fallen or imprisoned but the two activities are unrelated.

Yesterday though some of the many demonstrations held by Ahaztuak throughout the country found themselves with police harassment because the Neoinquisitor Eloy Velasco has arbitrarily decided they were illegal. Ahaztuak has wowed to appeal the resolution but this year's acts have found themselves banned anyhow. They have also demanded from the authorities to forbid the fascist demonstration scheduled for the upcoming November 11th in Pamplona.

There is a traditional hymn usually sang in this occasion:

Eusko Gudariak gara
Euskadi askatzeko,
gerturik daukagu odola
bere aldez emateko.

Irrintzi bat entzun da
mendi tontorrean
goazen gudari danok
Ikurriñan atzean.

Faxistak datoz eta
Euskadi da altxatzen.
goazen gudari danok
gure aberria askatzen.


We are the Basque fighters,
for the freedom of the Basque Country,
the blood we have ready
to be given for it.

A war cry is heard
on top of the mountain,
let's go all the fighters
after our flag.

Because the fascists are coming
the Basque Country rises up,
let's go all fighters
to liberate our fatherland.

The song was proposed in 1983 to become that of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (Western Basque Country) but a different one was chosen instead.

Translation notes:
Irrintzi (from irri=laughter) is the traditional high pitched cry of Basques, somewhat similar to that of Berber women but expressed with the throat only, not using the tongue, it is more often associated with joy and celebration but can also have that connotation of war cry and I think it has that meaning here.
Ikurriña (from ikur=sign, ensign) is a proper name (a neologism by Sabino Arana) for the Basque flag, other flags are not called that way (bandera instead, from Spanish), so "our flag" is a logical translation.
Aberri is another neologism by Sabino Arana that means fatherland, even if the etymology is maybe more based on Sumerian (aba=father, cow) than on real Basque. The root aba- does appear in a couple of Basque words, namely apaiz (priest, surely from the same root as abbot and surely of West Asian origins itself but a recent loanword from Romance in any case) and abere (cattle, domestic animal), from which aberatz (wealth). This one is, in my opinion, a truly old West Asian loanword that surely comes from Neolithic times.
Gudari is arguably also a neologism, from guda, war but only in the sense of legitimate war or popular upsrising, in particular for the Basque struggle for freedom. For regular wars, the Romance loanword gerra is the correct one. The professional suffix -ari is similar to that one found in other languages (like English -er, Spanish -ero/-era, etc.) but in Basque ari is also an auxiliar verb meaning activity. The etymology of guda is not known but to me it reminds of bagauda, which is said to be a Celtic word (??) but in Basque could well mean emphatically (ba-) "we have" [rights or whatever]. It also reminds me of that typical cry of "gora gu ta gutarrak!": up with us and ours [our people]!

News source:

Saturday, September 26, 2009

India: two ancestral populations and many founder effects

There's a new seemingly important paper around but it is behind a paywall so I can only make a shallow comment: David Reich, Kumarasamy Thangaraj, Nick Patterson, Alkes L. Price & Lalji Singh,
Reconstructing Indian population history. Nature, 2009.

A divulgative review can be read at Science Daily.

Apparently the research has found or confirmed two important elements in the Indian genetic background:

1. That there were two ancestral populations in the subcontinent: a northern one (ANI), not very different from Western Eurasians and a southern one (ASI) totally unique to India and whose only pure remainder are the Andamanese. Otherwise both distinct ancestral populations are nowadays found mixed at various apportions.

2. That tribes and castes are really not that different, with castes seemingly being formed out of recycled ancient tribes. This means that there are many tribal/caste founder effects that make each of these groups rather unique and inbred, with likely relevant health consequences like those found among other similarly isolated populations, such as Jews or Finns.

Nothing too new, because I do have the feeling that this was vaguely known but never really established in such categorical terms. For example, in some previous global studies South Asians have often appeared as a mixture of two components: one the same as West Eurasians and another unique of them. Even the anthropometrists of old used to talk of "Caucasoid" and "Australoid" (or sometimes "Veddoid") Indians, even if we know now that the use of the term "Australoid" in the past was all but clarifying, mostly meaning anything Eurasian that is not specifically Western or Eastern.

For me, this confirmation of the existence of two distinct ancestral populations, suggests that they formed in the early period of Eurasian spread of humankind, before what we conventionally call now "races" formed. As West Eurasia was colonized since c. 50,000 BP, that provides a most recent time limit for such population divergence, because it must have happened before, probably quite a bit of time before, some of the ANI peoples migrated to West Asia, North Africa and Europe. The "Indian remix" must then have happened after this westward migration.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Moon has water!

Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan has found that the Lunar dust has a small apportion of water moisture, about 0.1%. Apollo project samples of Lunar dust were known to have that tiny amount of water but it was uncertain until now whether the moisture had formed in the journey to Earth or was genuine.

This finding may make the possibility of estabilishing a scientific Lunar base more feasible, as you could in principle extract the water from the soil and use it as such water, or electrolyse it into oxygen, even more necessary for human life, or even use the water molecular components, oxygen and hydrogen as portable fuel for rockets or whatever.

It is also possible that some craters, specially towards the poles, could hold significative amounts of water ice, as suggested by the strong hydrogen signal detected by NASA's Lunar Prospector towards the poles.

Source: BBC. See also this article at SD, more detailed in some aspects.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Honduras: usurper desperate, attacks the people

The final and much awaited return of President Zelaya to Tegucigalpa has indeed caused an increase of the popular revolt, with thousands defying the curfew to support their legitimate President at the Brazilian embassy. The usurpers can probably feel by now the end of their illegal and widely delegitimized (inside and outside) regime coming to an end and are going even more violent.

The armed forces bloodily quelled the popular demonstration at the Brailian embassy, with at least 20 injured and strong rumors of several killed and have also gone wild in the poor neighbourhoods of the capital, throwing tear gas inside homes with newborns inside and who knows what (the information is not yet too precise).

According to journalist Tim Russo, this doesn't look good; repression will only make people even angrier with Micheletti and the National Police.

The coupist regime has cut water and electricity to the Brazilian embassy, where at least some 20 supporters of Zelaya have entered, and seems to be preparing a long siege. What is not clear is if they will themselves withstand the siege that the Honduran people has estabilished on them.

I foresee a coup against the coup very soon.

Sources: Gara, BBC.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Ceylon death camps

280,000 Tamils (men, women, children...) are still imprisoned in the so-called "refugee camps" of Sri Lanka. The situation has been these days denounced as awful, death threatening and secretive. Humanitarian organizations working in the camps are forbidden to speak of what happens there but the facts are anyhow getting to be known in those so-called "refugee camps" that are in fact mass open air prisons.

It is not just that the people can't freely return to their homes after many months that the war is over, or that the nutritional needs of children are not been met at all, but the fact that most of such camps are plainly flooded and children and adults alike are forced to live in water and side by side to their own excrements. People are dying right now on contagious diseases that they would probably never catch outside.

While the Sinhalese government has promised to liberate the refugees after "screening", in all these months only a handful of elderly or incapacitated have been in fact liberated, while instead some 10,000 have been sent to secret prisons. And it would seem that unless a clamor rises against this fascist and racist treatment of the people, the Sinhalese government won't do anything but just let those many thousand Tamils die.

I'd suggest not buying tea from Ceylon to begin with, as that is their main export.

On a side note, the UN has declined to provide the total figure of deaths in the war in order "to avoid a diplomatic conflict", what is unprecedented, but it is known that some 20,000 people, mostly civilians, were killed by government forces in the last month of the war, 10,000 of them in a single day: May 17th.

Source: Gara.

Zelaya returns to Tegucigalpa.

The legitimate President of Honduras, Manuel 'Mel' Zelaya, has finally managed to return to the country's capital, Tegucigalpa, and is refuged in the Brazilian embassy.

This new step promises to heat up the protests in the Central American country, where the situation has been very tense, with continuous clashes between the people and the coupist authorities in what some have described as a revolutionary situation.

The news are still confuse but it seems that masses are gathering around the Brazilian embassy to welcome and support the President. I can only imagine that soon the coupists will have to flee the country or at least negotiate a return to legality, but guess that violence can ensue and the outcome is not fully clear yet.

Source: BBC, Rebelión.

Xabi Aretxaga free after 11 years

Being so inactive these rainy days, I missed the welcome act but the case is that this old friend, Xabi Aretxaga Llona, is again free... or as free as you can be living in the Basque Country these days.

Of Autonomist origins (activist, just like many of my friends of that time in areas like antimilitarism, social centers, counter-information or cultural diffusion), and my neighbour for some years. At some point he apparently joined ETA as "legal member" (not known to the police), being in charge of a garage where the local commando store the vehicles. Soon after all the cell were rounded up and he was too.

A common friend used to joke in the line that: "it's ok if you go to jail for killing someone or at least trying... but for washing cars?" Whatever the case, he is an old friend and a respectable activist who has spent 11 years in prison (the full sentence: not a single day reduction), in remote locations of Castile (Carabanchel, Valdemoro, Arnjuez and Valladolid), and briefly in Langraitz (Basque Country) and has finally been liberated.

I'm happy about that because, well, prison sucks and he is a free spirit. Though I'm not sure if what he finds at returning will be so great anyhow.

In any case: welcome back, ongi etorri Txabi!

Source: Gara.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Morocco: religious freedom activists threatened

A group of people who have begun a campaign of civil disobedience against the constrictions placed by religious law in Ramadan in Morocco have not just been arrested but also received many death threats.

As you may know it is customary and a Muslim religious obligation to strictly fast during daylight in the month of Ramadan. In most countries of Muslim majority, which normally also have some sort of religious law seriously affecting civil life, even for non-believers or followers of other religions, individuals cannot freely choose whether to follow this religious imposition or not, at least in public: they must bend to the dictate of the mullahs and behave as devote Muslims, even if they are not.

It's like, in a country of Catholic tradition, meat would be forbidden in restaurants and all sort of public meals on fridays, and butcheries would be forced to close such day. Of course this would cause atheists and other religious freelancers to go out to the streets in protest because freedom of religion is a human right and secularism a most important value, so nobody should be imposed the values and precepts of any particular sect. If you want to impose them upon yourself, then it's your problem, of course.

So Radi Omar and other Moroccans have created the Movement for Individual Freedoms (MALI in its French acronym), that counts with some 1200 members in its Facebook site. They attempted an act of civil disobedience, organizing a meal at the train station of Mohammedia, near Dar-el-Beida (Casablanca) but suffered a police charge and six of its members were arrested. Accused of breaching the compulsory religious precept, they face severe fines and up to six months in prison.

But worse is that Radi Omar has reported receiving a hundred death threats this week for this courageous attitude of disobedience. It must be a really difficult situation to be for human rights and freedom in Morocco in general, where the pseudo-democratic system is just a whitewash for an autocratic police regime, where criticism is hardly allowed. For that reason I can't but cherish and send a most supportive hug to these brave Moroccans who are trying to forge secularism at the other side of the strait.

Source: BBC.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Carbon nanotubes: efficient solar cells

In yet another step in the development of the much needed solar energy, scientists from Cornell University have found that the so much discussed about newest nanomaterial: carbon nanotubes (also promising in the field of electronics in general) generate electricity naturally when exposed to light.

This carbon nanotube, a single molecule thick rolled graphene sheet, is exactly the same as a carbon diode, which are being researched for their eventual electronic applications, just that the Cornell team have discovered that applying light to it (in the form of lasers) actually generates electricity.

Unlike current solar cells, made of silicon, the graphene does not need cooling, as it does not waste so much luminous energy in the form of heat.

Of course, there will be engineering issues to be able to make graphene nanotubes in a cheap way but the technology is there, and is in any case a technology that needs practical development for reasons other than energy generation. So I guess it will be done... eventually.

Source: Science Daily.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Neoinquisition prosecutes 23 more

Judge Dredd, I mean Baltasar Garzón, is bringing to trial at the Audiencia Nacional of Madrid (the Neoinquisition, the former infamous Tribunal de Orden Público of fascism) to 23 more people, most of them related to the electoral platform Democracy 3 Million (D3M), that was banned from running to the last elections in the Western Basque Country (causing an undemocratic government to be formed for the first time since fascism) and also some of the prisoners' rights platform Askatasuna (freedom).

The formal step of persecuting members as "belonging to terrorist organization" is technically necesary in order to declare a party or electoral list illegal. In the case of the historical party Basque Nationalist Action (EAE-ANV), it was only done when the trial against the historical party was in its last stages, as the defense protested it was illegal to ban a party whose members were all clear. At that point Garzón made up accusations against three random members and voilá: the magic of Spanish justice!

Source: Gara.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Acheulean much older than thought in Europe

Martín Cagliari's blog, Mundo Neandertal, brings me to a quite interesting discovery: Acheulean findings of Iberia are much older than believed so far.

The sites of Solana de Zamborino (Granada) and Cueva Negra (Murcia) happen to be much older than believed so far. Until now these sites had been dated only based on their industry style, and therefore believed to have been from 400,000 BP on but the new sutdy by Gary R. Scott and Luis Gibert has found that, on geochronological grounds, the findings must be dated to c. 900,000 (Cueva Negra) and 780,000 BP (Zamborino).

This pushes the arrival of Acheulean to Europe back to the same date as the (believed) arrival of Pebble Culture and the oldest known H. erectus in the area (Homo georgicus, dated to c. 800,000 BP, considered intermediate between H. habilis and H. erectus, it seems).

Primitive navigation?

It also raises again the issue of whether H. erectus could have crossed the Gibraltar Strait from Africa to Europe. This was already believed based on the fact that both Pebble and Acheulean tools are found earlier in southern Iberia than further north.

But Gibraltar Strait was never totally closed in the Ice Age, so these Erectus people must have built some sort of boats or rafts to cross it. The other case suggesting some sort of boating skills in hominins is found at the other corner of Eurasia: in Flores. Homo floresiensis arrived to a remote island in Indonesia (also never directly linked to the contintent) somehow and surely it was not by means of mere swimming (how could whole bands do that, with children and everything?). These two seem to be the major documented feats of navigation by Homo species other than ours (for some reason, Neanderthals don't seem to have done anything of the like - the Bosphorus at best).

· “The oldest hand-axes in Europe”. Gary R. Scott & Luis Gibert. NATURE| Vol 461|3 September 2009.
· EFE news article.