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Earliest Human Engravings

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Indonesian shell has ‘earliest human engraving’

The markings were more clear in the digital photos than they had been to the naked eye

Zig-zag patterns found on a fossilised shell in Indonesia may be the earliest engraving by a human ancestor, a study has claimed.

The engraving is at least 430,000 years old, meaning it was done by the long-extinct Homo erectus, said the study.

The oldest man-made markings previously found were about 130,000 years old.

If confirmed, experts say the findings published in the journal Nature may force a rethink of how human culture developed.

One of the report’s authors, Stephen Munro, told the BBC it could “rewrite human history”.

“This is the first time we have found evidence for Homo erectus behaving this way,”

Source: BBCNews Read and see more

The meaning of Mongol

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Uuganaa with her Mongolian parents and niece

Uuganaa Ramsay was raised in Mongolia but now lives in Scotland. She has recently been exploring why her ethnicity is linked to Down’s syndrome, a condition diagnosed in her son.

“I don’t like that word,” says a woman sitting opposite me on the train, pointing at the title of the book I am holding. “Horrible word.”

It’s my memoir, but she doesn’t know that. It was me who gave it the one-word title, Mongol.

I chose it because it has a deep meaning for me. It’s the word I grew up using to describe who I am, reading it in poems, singing it in songs, writing stories with it and drawing pictures about it – it represents my identity and culture.

“Where are you originally from?’ the lady asks. “Mongolia,” I say. “Oh, of course. Of course you are,” she says. I could see in her face that she had realised something that was now obvious but hadn’t previously occurred to her.

The word Mongol is rarely used politely these days and is often unpleasantly shortened to “mong” but how on Earth did my ethnic identity end up becoming a slang word for stupid? Even worse, used by comedians to “push boundaries”.

Source: BBCNews Read more

Lost and Gone Forever

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Banksy wanted Clacton-on-Sea to confront racism

– instead it confronted him

Tendring district council has destroyed a painting that eloquently challenged views on immigration – was it too close to home?

‘If this Banksy picture scared anyone it must be because the pigeons’ views are just too close to real opinions in the air – the satire is so accurate that it can be mistaken for reality.’ Photograph: Universal News And Sport (Europe)

It must say something about the swirling currents of prejudice, fear and anger in modern Britain that even Banksy cannot predict their next bizarre lurch.

From Bristol to New York, this street artist has made his reputation by wittily mocking power and money. In Manhattan he satirised McDonald’s (not, perhaps his most original target) and in Cheltenham, near GCHQ, he painted spies snooping on a phone box. Usually people love him for it. The political content of Banksy’s art is generally so accepted and enjoyed that it has become tame. Far from being challenged, people gush at the prices it fetches.

It comes as a genuine shock, then, that a council has removed one of his paintings instead of calling in the valuers. Tendring district council says it destroyed the new painting that materialised in Clacton-on-Sea – where Tory defector Douglas Carswell is about to fight a byelection for his new party Ukip – after getting a complaint that it was “offensive and racist”. Was it?

Not in a million years. This is the best Banksy I have never seen: a clever and succinct satire on some currents of feeling in contemporary Britain, terrified of “migrants”, menaced by otherness. Far from being by any stretch of the imagination “racist”, it is – was – a witty putdown of the drab, dour vision of Britain touted by those who would push down diversity and hold back the tide of modern human movement.

A grumpy gang of grey pigeons aim their outrage at a beautiful green migratory swallow. “Migrants not welcome”, say their placards: “Go back to Africa”; “Keep off our worms.”

Did a member of the public really see these banners and take offence? If so, they misunderstood what is quite plainly an eloquent attack on racism.

The contrast between the ugly pigeons and the pretty swallow could hardly be starker or more telling. Plainly, we’re meant to be on the side of the swallow. Banksy has cleverly exploited two contrasting wall textures to put the pigeons and the swallow in contrasting worlds: the place where the pigeons are is not very attractive and yet they defend it brutally, to the last worm.

Clearly, the African swallow is not a threat but an enriching presence. It’s the “locals” who are grim. And the joke goes deeper. Banksy is pointing out that migration is not just a good thing – it is a natural fact. Migratory birds have been part of our landscape for a very long time. The little Britain defended by those who fear outsiders is an illusion – even the birds in our trees are citizens of the world.

This satire is in the tradition of Aesop’s fables or St. Francis of Assisi when he preached to the birds – it’s a lovely little vignette. For birds do not, of course, wave racist placards. Only humans do.

Source: TheGuardian Read more

Who are the Yazidis?

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Who, What, Why: Who are the Yazidis?

Among the many victims of the advance of The Islamic State (IS) in the Middle East are a group of up to 50,000 Yazidis, who are trapped in the mountains in northwest Iraq without food or water. Diana Darke explains who these mysterious religious adherents are.

Suddenly thrust into the limelight by their plight, the Yazidis will not welcome the glare of international attention. On account of their unusual beliefs, they are often unjustly referred to as “devil worshippers“, and have traditionally held themselves apart in small communities mainly scattered across northwest Iraq, northwest Syria and southeast Turkey.

Estimating their current numbers is difficult, with figures ranging from 70,000 to 500,000. Feared, vilified and persecuted, there is no doubt the population has dwindled considerably over the course of the past century. Like other minority religions of the region, such as the Druze and the Alawis, it is not possible to convert to Yazidism, only to be born into it.

The Yazidis’ holiest temple is in Lalesh, situated in a valley 430kms northwest of Baghdad

The ongoing persecution in their heartland of the Mt Sinjar region west of Mosul is based on a misunderstanding of their name. Sunni extremists, such as IS, believe it derives from Yazid ibn Muawiya (647-683), the deeply unpopular second caliph of the Umayyad dynasty. Modern research, however, has clarified that the name is nothing to do with the loose-living Yazid, or the Persian city of Yazd, but is taken from the modern Persian “ized”, which means angel or deity. The name Izidis simply means “worshippers of god“, which is how Yazidis describe themselves.

Their own name for themselves is Daasin (plural Dawaaseen), which is taken from the name of an old Nestorian – the Ancient Church of the East – diocese, for many of their beliefs are derived from Christianity. They revere both the Bible and the Koran, but much of their own tradition is oral. Due in part to its secrecy, there have been misunderstandings that the complex Yazidi faith is linked to Zoroastrianism with a light/dark duality and even sun worship. Recent scholarship, however, has shown that although their shrines are often decorated with the sun and that graves point east towards the sunrise, they share many elements with Christianity and Islam.

Children are baptised with consecrated water by a pir (priest). At weddings he breaks bread and gives one half to the bride and the other to the groom. The bride, dressed in red, visits Christian churches. In December, Yazidis fast for three days, before drinking wine with the pir. On 15-20 September there is an annual pilgrimage to the tomb of Sheikh Adi at Lalesh north of Mosul, where they carry out ritual ablutions in the river. They also practice sacrifice of animals and circumcision.

Their supreme being is known as Yasdan. He is considered to be on such an elevated level that he cannot be worshipped directly. He is considered a passive force, the Creator of the world, not the preserver. Seven great spirits emanate from him of which the greatest is the Peacock Angel known as Malak Taus – active executor of the divine will. The peacock in early Christianity was a symbol of immortality, because its flesh does not appear to decay. Malak Taus is considered God’s alter ego, inseparable from Him, and to that extent Yazidism is monotheistic.

Images of Malak Ta’us, or the Peacock Angel, appear on temples, shrines and graves

Yazidis pray to Malak Taus five times a day. His other name is Shaytan, which is Arabic for devil, and this has led to the Yazidis being mislabelled as “devil-worshippers”. The Yazidis believe that souls pass into successive bodily forms (transmigration) and that gradual purification is possible through continual rebirth, making Hell redundant. The worst possible fate for a Yazidi is to be expelled from his community, as this means their soul can never progress. Conversion to another religion is, therefore, out of the question.

In remote areas of southeast Turkey towards the Syrian and Iraqi borders, their once-abandoned villages are starting to come back to life, with new houses being built by the communities themselves. Many Yazidis are returning from exile now that the Turkish government leaves them undisturbed. Despite centuries of persecution the Yazidis have never abandoned their faith, testimony to their remarkable sense of identity and strength of character. If they are driven from Iraq and Syria by IS extremists, the likelihood is that more will settle in southeast Turkey where they are left to live out their beliefs in peace.

Source: BBCNews Read more, see more photos

The women having a laugh in Turkey

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Hazal Naz Besleyici doesn’t want the government telling her whether she can laugh or not

Women should not laugh in public. So said Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc in a speech on Monday about “moral corruption” in Turkey. “Chastity is so important,” he said. “She will not laugh in public.”

His comments have prompted a big backlash from women on social media in Turkey, with thousands posting photos of themselves laughing and smiling on Twitter and Instagram. There have been more than 300,000 tweets using the term “kahkaha” – the Turkish word for “laughter” – and on the hashtags “Resist Laughter” (#direnkahkaha) and “Resist Woman” (#direnkadin).

Many suggested the government should focus on issues like rape, domestic violence and the marriage of girls at a young age – rather than women laughing in public.

Source: BBCNews Read more

ET – phone home, not a good idea

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Stephen Hawking warns over making contact with aliens

Mr Hawking says it is ‘perfectly rational’ to believe in aliens

Aliens almost certainly exist but humans should avoid making contact, Professor Stephen Hawking has warned.

In a series for the Discovery Channel the renowned astrophysicist said it was “perfectly rational” to assume intelligent life exists elsewhere.

But he warned that aliens might simply raid Earth for resources, then move on.

“If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” he said.

Prof Hawking thinks that, rather than actively trying to communicate with extra-terrestrials, humans should do everything possible to avoid contact.

He explained: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.”

In the past, probes have been sent into space with engravings of human beings on board and diagrams showing the location of our planet.

Radio beams have been fired into space in the hope of reaching alien civilisations.

Prof Hawking said: “To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational.

“The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like.”

The programme envisages numerous alien species including two-legged herbivores and yellow, lizard-like predators.

But Prof Hawking conceded most life elsewhere in the universe is likely to consist of simple microbes.

Source: BBC News Read more

Opinion:

Well, called.

If the aliens that come here are as much megalomaniacs as we are, but with technology that we don’t have (obvious, because they got here, we didn’t get there) we are not in deep space, we are in deep shit.

SometimesCalvinHobbes

His analogy with Europeans arriving in America is very apt.

 

You and I saved some people from extinction!

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The Awá: an historic victory

In 2012 we launched a global campaign to save a little-known tribe in the Amazon, one of the last nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes left in Brazil. With more than 30% of their forests destroyed by illegal logging, we asked you to help save the Earth’s most threatened tribe.

You responded in your thousands, and, because of your emails, Awáicons and donations, the campaign made headlines around the world. Brazil’s Minister of Justice was forced to act, sending in troops and federal agents to expel the loggers.

The operation has just been completed; all loggers and ranchers have been removed from the Awá indigenous territory. This is an incredible victory which would never have happened without your help.

Here is your story>Watch the film watch this, we can win.

The story is currently on the front page of the BBC website and will be featured in BBC2’s leading in-depth TV news programme, “Newsnight”. UK supporters can watch it tonight (Thursday 22 May) at 10.30pm (BST). The story will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday at 11.30am (BST).

Awa tribe

Source: Catherine’s Creations and Concerns

I couldn’t load the Survival video, but here is a similar

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