November 24, 2017
Scientists analysed data on plastic from 79 sampling sites along 57 rivers. Their results showed that 10 rivers account for the majority of plastic. Eight of these are in Asia, including the Yangtze and Indus rivers. Targeting these rivers could halve the amount of plastic waste, experts predict.
Up to 95 per cent of plastic polluting the world’s oceans pours in from just ten rivers, according to new research.
The top 10 rivers – eight of which are in Asia – accounted for so much plastic because of the mismanagement of waste.
About five trillion pounds is floating in the sea, and targeting the major sources – such as the Yangtze and the Ganges – could almost halve it, scientists claim.
Massive amounts of plastic bits that imperil aquatic life are washing into the oceans and even the most pristine waters.
But how it all gets there from inland cities has not been fully understood.
Now a study shows the top 10 rivers – eight of which are in Asia – accounted for 88 to 95 per cent of the total global load because of the mismanagement of waste.
Complete text and video linked here.
November 23, 2017
The full story behind the Gadsden Purchase.
Two American presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, began their lives as surveyors, a skill in short supply when the U.S. tried to draw its boundary with Mexico following the victory in 1848. The 1850 survey party that walked in their footsteps fully understood that the future of the U.S. and Mexico hung on them successfully mapping the nebulous border.
Their service was marred by a poorly worded treaty that started the boundary from the village of El Paso in Texas, resulting in the American surveyors drawing wildly inaccurate maps. Showing El Paso eight miles north of its actual location, the maps led to confusion and conflict over the U.S.-Mexico border in this remote corner of the continent.
The full story offers up backroom dealings, a growing conflict between free and slave states prior to the Civil War, the flawed man behind the name on the map and the bargain that finally ousted a dictator who had not been brought down by losing a war.
The Mexican-American War, like Vietnam more than a century later, was not uniformly popular in the United States. Northerners suspected the real aim of the war was to extend slavery to the west. Southerners welcomed Texas as a slave state and were ready to take on more territory, including Cuba and large parts of Mexico.
Complete text linked here.
November 21, 2017
Astronomers recently scrambled to observe an intriguing asteroid that zipped through the solar system on a steep trajectory from interstellar space—the first confirmed object from another star.
Now, new data reveal the interstellar interloper to be a rocky, cigar-shaped object with a somewhat reddish hue. The asteroid, named ‘Oumuamua by its discoverers, is up to one-quarter mile (400 meters) long and highly-elongated—perhaps 10 times as long as it is wide. That aspect ratio is greater than that of any asteroid or comet observed in our solar system to date. While its elongated shape is quite surprising, and unlike asteroids seen in our solar system, it may provide new clues into how other solar systems formed.
The observations and analyses were funded in part by NASA and appear in the Nov. 20 issue of the journal Nature. They suggest this unusual object had been wandering through the Milky Way, unattached to any star system, for hundreds of millions of years before its chance encounter with our star system.
“For decades we’ve theorized that such interstellar objects are out there, and now – for the first time – we have direct evidence they exist,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This history-making discovery is opening a new window to study formation of solar systems beyond our own.”
Immediately after its discovery, telescopes around the world, including ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and other observatories around the world were called into action to measure the object’s orbit, brightness and color. Urgency for viewing from ground-based telescopes was vital to get the best data.
Complete text linked here.
November 7, 2017
This scene from Tombstone was dead-on with history.
Remember a scene in Tombstone where Wyatt Earp leads gambler Johnny Tyler out of the Oriental and into the street? Something like that really happened.
Tyler was head of a gambling group called The Slopers. In mid-February 1881, he pulled a gun on a dealer at the Oriental, trying to take over the game. That was when Earp disarmed Tyler, grabbed him by the ear and threw him out—while Doc Holliday kept Tyler’s friends at bay with a pistol. Tyler left town a couple of months later as the Earp faction controlled gambling in Tombstone.
November 5, 2017
“Throughout the ensuing years and until this date King has continued to carry on his sexual aberrations secretly while holding himself out to the public view as a moral leader of religious conviction.”
The National Archives published more than 600 new records Friday relating to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy — and some addressed civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and his multiple alleged affairs.
The FBI document, titled “Martin Luther King, Jr. A Current Analysis” and dated March 12, 1968, compiled background information on King, including his influences, associates, alleged affairs and more. King was assassinated April 4, 1968.
“The course King chooses to follow at this critical time could have momentous impact on the future of race relations in the United States,” the 20 page document’s introduction reads. “And for that reason this paper has been prepared to give some insight into the nature of the man himself as well as the nature of his views, goals, objectives, tactics and the reasons therefor.”
One of the sections in the document in the section titled “King’s Personal Conduct” mentioned alleged affairs, which were alluded to in the 2014 film “Selma” and an infamous letter from the FBI urging King to commit suicide.
Complete text linked here.
November 3, 2017
“The big void is completely closed,” he added, which means anything inside it would not have been “touched by anyone after the pyramid (was) built”.
A passenger plane-sized “void” has been discovered in the middle of the Great Pyramid of Egypt, where it has lain secret and untouched for 4,500 years, scientists revealed on Thursday.
The space is one of four cavities, along with the king and queen’s chambers and “Grand Gallery”, now known to exist inside the giant monument constructed under pharaoh Khufu of ancient Egypt.
“It is big,” said co-discoverer Mehdi Tayoubi of the ScanPyramids project, which has been exploring Khufu’s pyramid since October 2015 with non-invasive technology using subatomic particle scans.
“It’s the size of a 200-seater airplane, in the heart of the pyramid,” Tayoubi told AFP of the discovery, published in science journal Nature.
Towering over the Giza complex on Cairo’s outskirts alongside smaller pyramids for kings Menkaure and Khafre and the Great Sphinx, the Khufu’s pyramid is the oldest and only surviving construction among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and one of the largest buildings ever erected on Earth.
Complete text linked here.
October 25, 2017
It gave the Europeans the chance they needed. Breaching the city’s gates, they poured through.
During the Third Crusade, the city of Acre (today in Israel) was surrounded. Occupying the city was a Muslim garrison, besieged by a Christian army, in turn, surrounded by a Muslim force. It was a stalemate. So what finally ended it? Bees.
Acre is one of the oldest, still inhabited cities in the world. It may have been founded as far back as 4,000 years ago. Its success lies in its location on the northern extremity of Haifa Bay along the Mediterranean Sea. It has a natural harbor, which is why just about everyone has fought over it – Persians, Greeks, Romans, etc.
The Byzantines held Acre until 638 when they lost it to the Rashidun Caliphate. The new rulers turned it into a naval base in 861, but they lost it to the Europeans during the First Crusade (1095–1099).
King Baldwin I of Edessa, Boulogne, and Jerusalem captured it in 1104. He turned it into Palestine’s chief port and the Crusader’s primary gateway to the rest of the Levant. Acre also gave the Europeans access to the Asiatic spice trade which helped finance their expansion and continued grip over the region.
Complete text linked here.
The haunting faces of prisoners worked to death in Stalin’s slave camps emerge as 100th anniversary of 1917 Bolshevik takeover approaches.
Trudging through mud in sub-zero temperatures, digging the earth with their bare hands and heaving huge rocks with the most primitive of tools, these horrifying photos have revealed life inside Joseph Stalin’s gulag prisons, where people were worked to death in Soviet labour camps through the mid-1900s.
This year marks 100 years since the 1917 Russian Revolution, which led to Vladimir Lenin taking control of the Soviet Union. When Lenin died in 1924, Stalin rose to power and became the state’s authoritarian leader.
Between 1929 and the year of Stalin’s death in 1953, 18million men and women were transported to Soviet slave labour camps in Siberia and other outposts of the Red empire – many of them never to return.
Prisoners worked in the most extreme climates, facing temperatures of -20C (-4F), as they cut down trees with handsaws and dug at frozen ground with primitive pickaxes.
Others mined coal or copper by hand, often suffering painful or fatal lung diseases from inhaling ore dust while on the job.
Labourers in the prisons worked up to 14 hours a day on massive projects, including the Moscow-Volga Canal, the White Sea-Baltic Canal, and the Kolyma Highway.
By the time the last Soviet gulag closed its gates, millions had died. Starvation was not uncommon, as prisoners were barely fed enough to sustain such difficult labour. Other prisoners were simply dragged out to the woods and shot by guards.
Complete text and more images linked here.
October 23, 2017
The National Archives and Records Administration is releasing documents previously withheld in accordance with the JFK Assassination Records Collection Act. The vast majority of the Collection (88%) has been open in full and released to the public since the late 1990s. The records at issue are documents previously identified as assassination records, but withheld in full or withheld in part.
This release consists of 3,810 documents, including 441 formerly withheld-in-full documents and 3,369 documents formerly released with portions redacted. The documents originate from FBI and CIA series identified by the Assassination Records Review Board as assassination records. More releases will follow.
To view the entire file, you may visit the National Archives at College Park and request access to the original records.
Click here to access the documents.
October 21, 2017
Long before Hollywood imagined the Wild West, Los Angeles was a real frontier town of gunslingers, lynch mobs, and smoke-belching locomotives. This episode examines L.A.’s efforts to reckon with its violent past by examining hanging trees, remnants of vigilant justice; the massacre of eighteen Chinese immigrants that took place in 1871 near what is now Olvera Street; and railroad promotional campaigns that painted a picture of Los Angeles as a verdant paradise.
Click here to watch Wild West Season 2, Episode 2.