Colombian Uribe death squad scandal


This video is called Colombian President’s Brother May Have Lead Death Squads.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Uribe ‘should face investigation’ over death squad chief video

Thursday 08 September 2011

Video testimony from a jailed death-squad chief accusing former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe of sponsoring his illegal armed group was presented to congress on Wednesday.

In the video Pablo Hernan Sierra said he organised a militia operating from the Guacharacas ranch in 1996.

The ranch in Antioquia state, where Mr Uribe was then governor, was owned by the ex-president’s family.

Representative Ivan Cepeda, who presented the tape, said the video was recorded last month when he visited the prison where Mr Sierra is imprisoned for murder.

“I believe the time has come that the country launches an investigation into former president Alvaro Uribe for the presumed creation of paramilitary groups and for criminal acts that these groups committed in Antioquia and in many other places across the nation,” Mr Cepeda said at a news conference.

Mr Cepeda’s aides said Mr Sierra had been convicted of killing an indigenous leader.

See also here.

Colombia’s Congress opened a formal investigation this week into allegations that former president Alvaro Uribe bribed members in 2004 to back a constitutional amendment allowing him to run for a second term in 2006: here.

Colombian Senator: Death Squads Met At Uribe’s Ranch: here.

The former head of Colombia’s secret police was convicted September 14 of homicide and conspiracy in connection with the death squad murder of a popular sociology professor and human rights activist: here.

Kakapo die in New Zealand


This video is called Kakapo – Last Chance to See, Stephen Fry.

From Wildlife Extra:

Two kakapo found dead

Two Critically Endangered kakapo have died

September 2011. Two young female kakapo have been found dead – one on Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, off Stewart Island, the other on Anchor Island in Fiordland.

Kakapo Recovery programme manager Deidre Vercoe Scott said the two birds were discovered by rangers doing transmitter changes during the weekend. The first, Purity, hatched during the bumper 2009 breeding season. It was estimated she had been dead around ten days. The other, Monoa, which hatched in 2002, was found Sunday on Anchor Island. She had been dead for quite some time, indicating the two deaths were not linked.

Cause of death unknown

“At this stage, we have no idea what the cause of either death is. Initial autopsies have been carried out at Auckland Zoo and showed no obvious reasons,” she said.

Tissue samples had been sent to Massey University. “We now have to wait for further results.”

Come and meet Sirocco

The news comes during the same week “star” bird Sirocco officially launched his career as an advocate for Kakapo Recovery. Sirocco is on display at Orokonui Ecosanctuary, near Dunedin, for most of September before he heads to ZEALANDIA, in Wellington.

131 Kakapo alive

Ms Vercoe Scott said the kakapo deaths were a reminder that, although Kakapo Recovery had achieved much during the past 21 years – increasing the total population from 49 to 131 this year – the kakapo was still a critically endangered species and vulnerable.

“While it is such a shame to lose two young females, it’s a fact that, as kakapo numbers increase, we can expect a natural increase in mortality rates for a variety of reasons. The good news is more than half the kakapo population is young breeding age birds, so the recovery of kakapo is still in good shape.”

A male kakapo believed to be around 80 years old has been found dead at an already disappointing time – when the birds are not expected to breed this year. The male, known as Waynebo, was found on January 2 on Codfish Island, off Southland, where the Kakapo Recovery Programme is taking place: here.

Genetic link suspected in kakapo death: here.

Kakapo island threatened by rat: here.

April 2012. The transfer of seven critically endangered kakapo to Little Barrier Island is a significant move to help secure the species’ survival, according to NZ Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson: here.

Prehistoric painting discovery in Catalhoyuk, Turkey


This video is called Welcome to Catalhoyuk.

From Stone Pages Archaeo News:

8 September 2011

The best preserved painting found at Catalhoyuk

A team of archaeologists are excavating a 9,000-year-old Neolithic village at Catalhoyuk (Turkey) and recently they found a painting on a wall with deep reds and reddish oranges thought to be made with red ochre and cinnabar. British archaeologist Ian Hodder, called the discovery ‘very exciting’ and ‘particularly intriguing’. “The pattern initially didn’t look like very much: We often find just specks of paint or a wall of all-red paint,” Dr. Hodder said, “But this time it gradually emerged that this was a complete painting, and the best preserved painting that I’ve ever seen at Catalhoyuk, with wonderfully fresh, bright colors and very neat lines. It is by far the most intricate and elaborate painting we have found during our excavations here since the mid-90s,” he added.

But Stone Age paintings don’t come with labels explaining what they are. “The paintings at Catal are very enigmatic and full of ambiguity and difficult to read,” Dr. Hodder commented, “But the two main contenders for what this new discovery might show are that it’s simply a geometric design whose meaning is not clear,” he said. “An alternative is that it’s not just a geometric design, but that it is a representation of bricks, some sort of structure,” maybe an early blueprint of some sort.” Houses were “a very important symbol socially and a focus of life at Catal,” he added. “Maybe they were trying to draw the relationship between them and the house but it’s not easy to make sense of it. We have to do more work on it.”

Another find this summer was a row of 11 handprints inside a house and above a burial platform. Still another was the discovery of a young calf’s head that had been painted red and installed in a house, above a platform that covered nine burials. “One sort of pattern that we noticed is that the paintings seem to be concentrated around burial platforms,” Dr. Hodder said. “We don’t really understand what that relationship is. Is it a way to communicate with the dead? Another idea would be that the paintings are there to protect people from the dead, or to protect the dead from people.”

“We are trying to understand why they chose this spot to live. We look at what we call their art,” said Shahina Farid, the project’s field director from University College London, “Why were they so interested in bulls? Why were they using certain geometric designs? What were daily activities and what were ritual activities? We try to define this,” she said. “Are we looking at the beginnings of religion? And what is all this symbolism telling us about the beginnings of civilization?”

An international team of people from 22 countries worked on the site this year, led by experts based at Stanford University in California and University College London in Britain. The area was first excavated in the 1960s by another Briton, James Mellaart, now 85, who established that it had been home to an advanced culture of people transitioning from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle to a more settled farming life.

“We’ve only excavated 4 percent of Catal,” Dr. Hodder said. “What we’ve done is like digging a very small part of New York and then inferring from that what life was like.”

Edited from The New York Times (7 September 2011)

Stone with 1,200 prehistoric engravings uncovered in Portugal: here.

Excavation of islands around Britain to establish origins of Neolithic period: here.

Ancient DNA from Hunter-Gatherer and Farmer Groups from Northern Spain Supports a Random Dispersion Model for the Neolithic Expansion into Europe: here.

Most genetic studies on modern cattle have established a common origin for all taurine breeds in the Near East, during the Neolithic transition about 10 thousand years (ka) ago. Yet, the possibility of independent and/or secondary domestication events is still debated and is fostered by the finding of rare mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups like P, Q and R. Haplogroup T1, because of its geographic distribution, has been the subject of several investigations pointing to a possible independent domestication event in Africa and suggesting a genetic contribution of African cattle to the formation of Iberian and Creole cattle. Whole mitochondrial genome sequence analysis, with its proven effectiveness in improving the resolution of phylogeographic studies, is the most appropriate tool to investigate the origin and structure of haplogroup T1: here.

Oldest Grave Flowers Unearthed in Israel: here.

Australian dingo new research


This video from Australia is called Wallaroo vs dingo – BBC wildlife.

By Bob Beale:

Dingo came earlier and by different route: study

September 8, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) — Australia’s native dog – the dingo – may have arrived here much earlier and by quite a different route than previously thought, a new study has found.

The study found genetic evidence that dingoes and New Guinea’s native singing dogs originated in South China and travelled through Southeast Asia and Indonesia to reach their destinations – not, as previously believed, through Taiwan and The Philippines, which would have required multiple sea crossings.

“Clearly, the land route is much more feasible for dogs than the sea route,” says UNSW geneticist Dr Alan Wilton, one of an international team of researchers who report their findings in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Although the earliest archeological record of dingoes is about 3,500 years old, new genetic studies suggest it last shared a common ancestor with the domestic dog at least 5,000 years ago, says Dr Wilton, a senior lecturer in the UNSW School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences.

The study made genetic comparisons of more than 900 dogs and dingoes, plus three New Guinea singing dogs. The samples came from far and wide across place and time – from South China, mainland Southeast Asia, Indonesia, New Guinea, the Philippines and Taiwan, as well as genes previously identified among ancient, pre-European samples from Polynesia and the Australian dingo.

It confirmed South China as the most likely origin of domestic dogs, probably about 10,000 to 16,000 years ago. Genetic variants found only in dingoes and New Guinea singing dogs suggest their dispersal occurred earlier than the dogs that accompanied the first people to colonise Polynesia, from about 3000 years ago.

The study notes that the dog is unique in that it was the only domestic animal accompanying humans to every continent in ancient times and was the only domestic animal introduced into ancient Australia.

“The dispersal of dogs is also linked to the human history of the region, and may contribute knowledge about, for example, the geographical origins of the Polynesian population and its Neolithic culture, and the extent of contact between the pre-Neolithic cultures of Australia with the surrounding world,” it says.

Dingoes and New Guinea singing dogs share a genetic marker in common with other dogs but lack a mutation found elsewhere, notably in East Asia, suggesting that the dingo population was founded from a small number of dogs.

Dr Wilton was also involved in an earlier study in the journal Nature, suggesting that the dingo and the New Guinea singing dog may be the world’s oldest dog breeds and are most closely related to wolves.

Provided by University of New South Wales

Prehistoric genomes reveal European origins of dogs: here.