Category Archives: Hidden History

July 10, 2017

How Olivia de Havilland Bucked Dalton Trumbo And Helped Save Hollywood From Itself

Somehow, the celebrations of the 101-year-old two-time best actress Oscar winner overlooked her finest moment.

Legendary actress Olivia de Havilland received many tributes when she celebrated her 101st birthday on July 1. Appearing in 49 feature films spanning 1935 to 1988, she was Errol Flynn’s romantic partner in movies like The Adventures of Robin Hood, nominated for a supporting actress Oscar for Gone With The Wind (1935) and was the winner of best actress Oscars for To Each His Own (1946) and The Heiress (1949). Also noted were her successful efforts to break the old studio system, known as the studio-contract system, where actors were bound to work solely for the company that had signed them.

Chafing against the inferior roles she believed Warner Bros. was giving her, she sued the firm in 1943. It was, The Los Angeles Times noted, a “landmark lawsuit that altered the business of Hollywood forever” resulting in the collapse of the long-term contract system by which Hollywood operated. In her honor, it is referred to as “the De Havilland Law.”

But she received little recognition for the other important political battle she fought and won—ending the alliance of Communists and liberals in Hollywood. During WWII, the United States and the Soviet Union were allies in the war against fascism and liberals and Communists worked together to support the war effort and the Roosevelt administration.

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July 6, 2017

When the Civil War Came to San Diego

As for San Diego County, in 1859, by a vote of 207-24, voters overwhelmingly supported the idea of splitting the state into two, with Southern California becoming the Territory of Colorado. There was talk that the new territory might cozy up to the slave states, but the war snipped the plan in the bud.

Union troops were more than a little suspicious when they ran into a group of 16 men traveling east through San Diego’s backcountry in the early days of the Civil War. The men declared they were peaceful miners, but they each packed a rifle and a pair of revolvers instead of shovels and picks.

Most of them were Southerners, and their leader, a red-headed Confederate sympathizer named Dan Showalter, was famous. A few months earlier, this “fascinating and baffling character” had fired a bullet straight into a fellow state legislator’s mouth at 40 paces. Now, he was heading east to slaughter Yankees.

This confrontation — near the landmark Dudley’s Bakery in Santa Ysabel where modern-day drivers grab loaves of date nut raisin bread on the way home from Julian — wasn’t destined to be bloody. Showalter’s gory end was still to come, just not that day in 1861. But the story of his collusion with the enemy shines a light on how the Golden State was mightily divided over the Civil War, so much so that the Union sought to derail the “underground railroad” of Confederate sympathizers heading east to fight the North.

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3D imaging reveals the face of a female Peruvian ruler 1,700 years after her elaborately tattooed body was wrapped in 20 layers of fabric and buried with a treasure trove of gold

The Lady of the Cao was found in Peru in 2005 buried with weapons and gold. Her arms and legs were covered with tattoos of snakes and spiders. Scientists have now recreated her face using digital forensics technology. The aristocrat first had her picture taken with a handheld laser scanner. Researchers then used her skull to reconstruct her face into a full-scale model.

She died in her twenties some 1,700 years ago and ruled over a desert valley in ancient Peru, where her elaborately tattooed body was wrapped in 20 layers of fabric and buried with weapons and gold objects.

But a glimpse of the former priestess, the Lady of Cao, can now be seen in a replica of her face unveiled by culture officials and archaeologists on Monday.

Using 3D forensics technology, the replica was based on the Lady of Cao’s skull structure and took 10 months to create.

The international team of researchers behind the effort, led by experts at Peru’s El Brujo museum where the mummy is currently on display, first took pictures of the Lady of Cao’s remains with a state-of-the-art, handheld laser scanner.

The scanner was designed for industrial use and is now commonly used in forensic investigations.

The scanned data was then entered into a computer, which digitally stripped away her facial skin to reveal her skull bones.

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July 4, 2017

Scientists explain ancient Rome’s long-lasting concrete

“Contrary to the principles of modern cement-based concrete,” said lead author Marie Jackson from the University of Utah, US, “the Romans created a rock-like concrete that thrives in open chemical exchange with seawater.”

Researchers have unlocked the chemistry of Roman concrete which has resisted the elements for thousands of years.

Ancient sea walls built by the Romans used a concrete made from lime and volcanic ash to bind with rocks.

Now scientists have discovered that elements within the volcanic material reacted with sea water to strengthen the construction.

They believe the discovery could lead to more environmentally friendly building materials.

Unlike the modern concrete mixture which erodes over time, the Roman substance has long puzzled researchers.

Rather than eroding, particularly in the presence of sea water, the material seems to gain strength from the exposure.

In previous tests with samples from ancient Roman sea walls and harbours, researchers learned that the concrete contained a rare mineral called aluminium tobermorite.

They believe that this strengthening substance crystallised in the lime as the Roman mixture generated heat when exposed to sea water.

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July 2, 2017

Tower of human skulls in Mexico casts new light on Aztecs

“Something is happening that we have no record of, and this is really new, a first in the Huey Tzompantli,” he added.

A tower of human skulls unearthed beneath the heart of Mexico City has raised new questions about the culture of sacrifice in the Aztec Empire after crania of women and children surfaced among the hundreds embedded in the forbidding structure.

Archaeologists have found more than 650 skulls caked in lime and thousands of fragments in the cylindrical edifice near the site of the Templo Mayor, one of the main temples in the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, which later became Mexico City.

The tower is believed to form part of the Huey Tzompantli, a massive array of skulls that struck fear into the Spanish conquistadores when they captured the city under Hernan Cortes, and mentioned the structure in contemporary accounts.

Historians relate how the severed heads of captured warriors adorned tzompantli, or skull racks, found in a number of Mesoamerican cultures before the Spanish conquest.

But the archaeological dig in the bowels of old Mexico City that began in 2015 suggests that picture was not complete.

“We were expecting just men, obviously young men, as warriors would be, and the thing about the women and children is that you’d think they wouldn’t be going to war,” said Rodrigo Bolanos, a biological anthropologist investigating the find.

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June 28, 2017

The Battles of Adobe Walls

In a dusty Panhandle camp near Canyon, Texas, Plains Indians and white combatants clashed in two historically crucial battles, separated by a decade, at the same site.

Today, it’s mostly parcels of sectioned-off ranch land, set apart from other dusty Texas Panhandle acreage by only a few historical plaques and a medium-size bluff. But peering at a cluster of cottonwoods lining a narrow nearby creek, it’s easy to imagine the scene there just at daybreak on June 27, 1874, when hundreds of Comanche, Cheyenne, and Kiowa warriors eased their mounts from behind the trees and prepared to attack a hunting camp known as Adobe Walls. Only 28 men and a woman (all white?—?she was the wife of one of the men) were currently in the camp. Besides outnumbering their enemies by at least 10-to-1, perhaps as much as 20- or even 30-to-1 (the number of Indian assailants has never been determined), Comanche mystic Isa-tai promised an additional advantage: His magic would ensure that all the whites would still be sleeping when the pre-dawn assault took place, assuring easy victory.

But some in the camp were awake, and the subsequent Battle of Adobe Walls was so extraordinary?—?from the legendary frontier figures who fought in it to the miracle shot that essentially marked its conclusion?—?that it’s easy to forget it was the second time vastly outnumbered whites faced a determined tribal coalition in the same rugged vicinity.

The original intent of Adobe Walls and its later iteration was commerce, not combat. In the mid-1840s, a trading firm built an outpost in isolated Hutchinson County just below the Canadian River. The original building was made of logs, but it was soon replaced by a better, broader structure of adobe bricks, which provided the camp’s name. Hunters and trappers passed through, and pioneers headed farther west. But Indians who considered the region their homeland made periodic raids. Peril trumped profit, and by 1849 proprietor William Bent had had enough. He closed down his operation and moved on. The adobe walls of the abandoned post soon tumbled, and scattered stacks of bricks were the only evidence that the trading post had ever existed. Few remembered it until November 1864.

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June 24, 2017

Apache White Captive Child Santiago McKinn

“A group of young boys raged together freely and safely around; one of them seemed to be of Irish and Mexican descent. After a little persuasion, he told …… that his name was Santiago Mackin (sic) and he had been kidnapped in Mimbres, New Mexico; of his young companions, he seemed to be treated kindly, and no one tried to stop our conversation … Beyond its smart looks which made it clear that he had fully understood everything we told him in Spanish and English, he took no further notice of us.”

On a balmy September morning in the little valley east of the Mimbres Mountains in southwest New Mexico, seventeen-year-old Martin McKinn and his eleven-year-old brother Santiago were herding cattle near their ranch on Gallina Creek, a tributary to the Mimbres River. The two McKinn boys were the sons of an Irish father John and their Mexican mother, Luceria. That morning their father had gone to Las Cruces with some neighbors to purchase supplies.

It was about eleven o’clock on September 11th and the boys were taking a break for lunch. Martin was sitting beneath a shade tree reading a book and Santiago had gone down to play in the creek. Suddenly, Santiago heard a rifle shot then he saw an Apache he later identified as Geronimo, run up and crush Martin’s head with a rock. Geronimo then removed his brother’s shirt and coat and put them on. Santiago tried to run away but they caught him.

Searchers found later Martin’s body but Santiago was missing, something that gave them hope that he might be a captive.

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June 17, 2017

Chicanos, Aztlán and the Tierra Amarilla courthouse raid

Out of this convention came the “Plan Espiritual de Aztlán,” which called for the liberation of the lands once hailed as Mexico in the Southwest and gave Vasquez a new way to look at life.

From an early age, Chicana activist and author Enriqueta Vasquez knew something was wrong about signs in front of businesses around her hometown in Colorado reading, “No Mexicans or Dogs allowed.” Vasquez also knew something was amiss in her fourth-grade classroom when the teacher said the Southwest belonged to the United States. As a matter of fact, that land was stolen from Mexico, she pointed out to the teacher, just as her mother had pointed it out to her.

The daughter of Mexican immigrants who settled in Southern Colorado, Vasquez was raised with an acute political conscience, a different way of thinking in a country that considered her as undesirable as a dog.

Vasquez moved from Denver, Colorado, to a little adobe home in San Cristobal, just north of Arroyo Hondo, with her young children in the summer of 1968 – a politically fervent time across the country. The civil rights movement had been rocked by the assassination of Martin Luther King by a sniper in Memphis, Tennessee, earlier that year.

Vasquez came to Northern New Mexico already versed in the budding political and cultural revolution that would eventually call itself the Chicano movement. Her charge was to start a school in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains where young Mexican-Americans could learn their history, language, music, mythologies and sense of national identity.

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June 15, 2017

The Secret History of the 21st Century

“The country will increasingly tend to divide itself up into family-oriented red states with low housing costs and amenity-oriented blue states with high housing costs.”

The insightful blogger who goes by the moniker Spotted Toad has created a series of charts explaining the 2016 Electoral College results as a result of average home price in each state.

The pattern is much the same as it has been in every election since 2000: In states where younger white people can better afford to buy a home, they are more likely to be married, have more children, and vote more Republican. In states where whites are less able to afford a home, they marry later, have fewer children, and vote more Democratic.

For example, the state with the most expensive homes on average is Hawaii, at a self-estimated mean during 2010–14 of $505,400 (according to Census Bureau data). Not coincidentally, Donald Trump did worse in Hawaii than in any other state, garnering only 30.0 percent of the vote.

In contrast, in the state with the cheapest housing—West Virginia, with its mean home value of just $100,200—Trump enjoyed his biggest majority: 68.5 percent.

These aren’t fluke outliers, either.

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June 8, 2017

America’s Hidden H.I.V. Epidemic

Why do America’s black gay and bisexual men have a higher H.I.V. rate than any country in the world?

Early on a balmy morning last October, Cedric Sturdevant began his rounds along the bumpy streets and back roads of Jackson, Miss. Sturdevant, 52, has racked up nearly 300,000 miles driving in loops and widening circles around Jackson in his improvised role of visiting nurse, motivational coach and father figure to a growing number of young gay men and transgender women suffering from H.I.V. and AIDS. Sturdevant is a project coordinator at My Brother’s Keeper, a local social-services nonprofit. If he doesn’t make these rounds, he has learned, many of these patients will not get to the doctor’s appointments, pharmacies, food banks and counseling sessions that can make the difference between life and death.

Negotiating a maze of unpaved roads in Jackson in the company car, a 13-year-old Ford Expedition with cracked seats and chipped paint, he stopped to drop off H.I.V. medication at a couple’s home. One of the men was H.I.V.-positive, the other negative; they lived in the neighborhood locals call the Bottom, where every fifth or sixth home is abandoned, with broken windows, doors hanging off hinges, downed limbs and dry leaves blanketing front yards. Sturdevant banged on the door of a small house, its yard overgrown with weeds; he knew not to leave the package on the doorstep, where it could be stolen. After a while a young man emerged, shirtless, shrugging off sleep. He had just gotten out of jail. Sturdevant handed him the package, shook his hand and told him to “stay out of trouble.”

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