Virgen de Guadalupe ~ NYT

MEXICO CITY — His mother was grievously ill, nearing death. So Jesús Vicuña, 17, made a deal with the heavens. In his prayers for her recovery, he vowed to make a certain painful sacrifice in exchange.

Which is how he found himself the other day walking on his knees, under the weight of a heavy backpack, along a crowded sidewalk in Mexico City.

He winced with each step, and every few paces he fell onto his arms with a groan, seeking a moment of relief that never came.

But more than 20 blocks after he began this ordeal — the last stage of a three-day journey — he knee-shuffled the last few yards into the New Basilica of Guadalupe, Mexico’s most important shrine, and collapsed face down on the cool stone floor, gasping for air. Mr. Vicuña had reached his goal.

 

Jesús Vicuña, 17, walking on his knees toward the basilica. His friends, José Arturo Rojas Perez, 19, left, and Javier Francisco Camacho, 20, right, help him on the last leg of his trip. Credit Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times
A balcony on the top of Tepeyac Hill overlooking the basilicaCredit Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

 

Mr. Vicuña’s trial came as part of an enormous annual pilgrimage to honor the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Over the course of several days this month, an estimated nine million people visited the basilica, with some seven million of them filing through the building between Tuesday and Wednesday, to celebrate what believers say was the appearance of the Virgin Mary before an indigenous Mexican peasant named Juan Diego in 1531.

It is hard to overstate the singular importance of the Virgin of Guadalupe to the Mexican identity.

She serves as a binding force that transcends the country’s varied and dramatic sociodemographic divisions, and her image is ubiquitous — in portraits hanging on the walls of homes; in small shrines found in shops, gas stations and parking lots; and on objects as varied as kitchenware, jewelry, lamps, satchels, refrigerator magnets and bottle openers.

“She’s everywhere,” said Davíd Carrasco, a professor of Latin American studies at Harvard Divinity School. “She’s everybody’s mother in Mexico. My daughter calls her ‘the No. 1 Mother.’ ”

And even as Latin Americans have defected in enormous numbers from Catholicism to evangelical congregations, the deep devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe, also known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, has helped to slow this tendency in Mexico and throughout the Mexican migrant diaspora.

“The Virgin of Guadalupe is a symbol of hope and peace: Whatever happens, she’s going to be here,” said Gabriela Treviño, head of the basilica’s guided tour department. “The harder the situation, the stronger the devotion.”

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Interior Secretary Zinke resigns amid investigations ~ NYT

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Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke submitted his resignation to the White House Saturday, facing intense pressure to step down because of multiple probes tied to his real estate dealings in his home state of Montana and his conduct while in office.

Zinke — the first Montanan to serve in a presidential Cabinet — is the fourth Trump Cabinet member to resign under an ethics cloud in less than two years. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt also relinquished their posts after coming under scrutiny for how they spent taxpayer dollars on their travel, among other allegations.

For Zinke the key moment in his loss of support at the White House came in October when Interior’s inspector general referred one of its inquiries to the Justice Department, according to two senior administration officials.

That probe, which is still ongoing, is examining whether a land deal Zinke struck with the chairman of oil services giant Halliburton in his hometown of Whitefish, Mont., constituted as a conflict of interest.

The secretary’s final public appearance was Thursday night at his Christmas party, which he told White House staffers he wanted to have before his dismissal. He invited lobbyists and conservative activists to his executive suite, where he posed for photos in front of a large stuffed polar bear wearing a Santa cap, according to an attendee. Mounted animals on the wall were fitted with ornaments.

“This Is Not a Normal Time”: Trump and the Rapidly Expanding “Witch Hunt” ~ The New Yorker

The criminality of the key figures in the President’s inner circle is now established, and they have started to implicate Trump himself.

Shortly after 11 a.m. on Thursday, Senator Jeff Flake, of Arizona, took to the Senate floor for his farewell speech. One of President Trump’s few remaining public critics in the Republican Party on Capitol Hill, Flake used the chance for one more lament about the perilous state of American democracy in the Trump era. “We all know well that this is not a normal time and that the threats to our democracy from within and without are real,” Flake said. “None of us can say with confidence how the situation that we now find ourselves in will turn out.” As Flake was still speaking, Trump tweeted out the two-word slogan that more than any other captures the current political agenda in the capital of the most powerful nation in the world. “witch hunt!” the President wrote. No explanation offered, none needed.

Trump’s critique is familiar by now. By one count, that tweet marked the hundred-and-forty-second time he has complained on social media about the investigations into his possible collusion with Russian interference in the 2016 election; he started in March of 2017, not even two months into his White House tenure. By May 18, 2017, he was already calling it “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history.” By late November of this year, Trump was asking, almost plaintively, “When will this illegal Joseph McCarthy style Witch Hunt, one that has shattered so many innocent lives, ever end-or will it just go on forever?”

Given the constant, repetitive nature of Trump’s “witch hunt” tweets, it might be tempting to ignore them. That would be a mistake. The chief executive’s attention is the most valuable resource of any Administration—what a President spends his time on reflects, more than anything else, an Administration’s true priorities. By those standards, the “witch hunt” is the overriding priority of the Trump White House, and it will be even more so in the new year, when the special counsel, Robert Mueller, moves toward a conclusion and a new, Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, with the power and the votes to subpoena and impeach Trump, takes office. The uncertainty that Flake captured, then, is not about the political agenda of Washington in 2019, which Trump’s tweet perfectly summed up; it is about what those who run the battered, gridlocked, dysfunctional institutions of American democracy will do about it. Events may soon force them to take action.

This is a week, after all, in which President Trump, or “Individual-1,” as the prosecutors of the Southern District of New York are now calling him, was implicated in federal court as the leader of a criminal conspiracy to pay off two women to hide his affairs in the run-up to the 2016 election. Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, the fixer who once bragged he would take a bullet for the President, has turned on him, and on Wednesday Cohen received a three-year prison sentence for violating campaign-finance laws with the payoffs. The President’s tabloid friends at the National Enquirer who participated in the scheme have admitted to it in a deal with the prosecutors, and new details were reported this week that place the President directly in the room when the hush-money plan was being discussed. His campaign chairman is also going to prison, as a result of a separate case. His first national-security adviser has pleaded guilty. All of them are coöperating to various degrees with Mueller.

In other words, the criminality of key figures in the President’s inner circle is now established, by their own admissions, as they start to implicate the President himself. And this is even before Mueller issues findings or criminal charges related to the central subject of his inquiry into whether Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russians in 2016. Additional damning evidence against Trump is increasingly likely to emerge from outside of the Mueller investigation, as in the case of Cohen, or as a consequence of aggressive investigations and oversight by the new Democratic House. For example, on Thursday, the de-facto incoming Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said that the Ways and Means Committee will use its subpoena powers to demand Trump’s tax returns, which, given the extensive reporting in the Times about his family’s decades-long tax dodges, could produce an untold wealth of damaging information.

Largely overlooked in the daily flood of Trump-era news, a week ago, his former Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said in an interview that Trump had repeatedly pressed him to violate the law. “I’d have to say to him, ‘Mr. President, I understand what you wanna do, but you can’t do it that way. It violates the law, it violates treaty.’ He got really frustrated,” Tillerson said. “I think he grew tired of me being the guy who told him, ‘You can’t do that.’ ” The coverage of Tillerson’s interview with the journalist Bob Schieffer focussed more on Trump’s outraged response than on the underlying revelation. “Tillerson calls Trump undisciplined. Trump calls Tillerson ‘dumb as a rock,’ ” one headline, in the Washington Post, read. But Tillerson’s allegation was more than just another bout of Trump-era name-calling between a former Secretary of State who once called his boss a “fucking moron” and the President who fired him by tweet. Imagine Tillerson before Congress come January, testifying under oath and live on television, about which laws Trump told him to break. Speaking of testimony, I can hardly wait for that of the two White House chiefs of staff who Trump also fired—the latest one, John Kelly, just this week. When asked about the chaos of the Trump White House, Reince Priebus, Kelly’s predecessor, who was dumped by tweet while on Air Force One, once told the author Chris Whipple, “Take everything you’ve heard and multiply it by fifty.”

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We thought the Incas couldn’t write. These knots change everything ~ New Scientist

A lost language encoded in intricate cords is finally revealing its secrets – and it could upend what we know about Incan history and culture

 

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The Inca system of writing in khipus, or knotted cords

©The Trustees of the British Museum

THE Incas left no doubt that theirs was a sophisticated, technologically savvy civilisation. At its height in the 15th century, it was the largest empire in the Americas, extending almost 5000 kilometres from modern-day Ecuador to Chile. These were the people who built Machu Picchu, a royal estate perched in the clouds, and an extensive network of paved roads complete with suspension bridges crafted from woven grass. But the paradox of the Incas is that despite all this sophistication they never learned to write.

Or did they? The Incas may not have bequeathed any written records, but they did have colourful knotted cords. Each of these devices was called a khipu (pronounced key-poo). We know these intricate cords to be an abacus-like system for recording numbers. However, there have also been teasing hints that they might encode long-lost stories, myths and songs too.

In a century of study, no one has managed to make these knots talk. But recent breakthroughs have begun to unpick this tangled mystery of the Andes, revealing the first signs of phonetic symbolism within the strands. Now two anthropologists are closing in on the Inca equivalent of the Rosetta stone. That could finally crack the code and transform our understanding of a civilisation whose history has so far been told only through the eyes of the Europeans who sought to eviscerate it.

The Spanish conquistadors, led by Francisco Pizarro, first encountered the Incas at the start of the 1530s. They were awestruck by the magnificent stone cities, the gold and treasure. But as the Spanish began to take over the Inca empire and impose their own customs, they became equally enthralled by the way the society was organised.

Machu Picchu

The Inca royal palace of Machu Picchu

Ralph Lee Hopkins/National Geographic Creative

The Incas governed the 10 million people in their realm with what amounted to a federal system. Power was centred in Cusco, in the south of what is now Peru, but spread through several levels of hierarchy across a series of partially self-governing provinces. There was no money and no market economy. The production and distribution of food and other commodities was centrally controlled. People had their own land to farm, but every subject was also issued with necessities from state storehouses in exchange for labour, administered through an impressive tribute system.

“Break the khipu code and we might finally read an indigenous Inca history”

Historians have argued variously that the Inca empire was a socialist utopia or an authoritarian monarchy. But no one disputes its efficiency. “It was an extraordinary system,” says Gary Urton, an anthropologist at Harvard University. “Administratively speaking, it was very sophisticated and it seems to have worked well.”

Key to that success was the flow of reliable data, in the form of censuses, tribute accounts and storehouse inventories. For that, the Incas relied on the khipumayuq, or the keepers of the khipus, a specially trained caste who could tie and read the cords.

artwork

Jonny Wan

The majority of surviving khipus consist of a pencil-thick primary cord, from which hang multiple “pendant” cords and, in turn, “subsidiaries”. The Spanish described how they were used to record all manner of information. The poet Garcilaso de la Vega, son of an Inca princess and a Spanish conquistador, noted in a 1609 account that they had “an admirable method of counting everything in the Inca’s kingdom, including all taxes and tributes, both paid and due, which they did with knots in strings of different colours.”

There are reasons to think khipus may record other things, including stories and myths – the sort of narrative information that many cultures write down. De la Vega was among many chroniclers who hinted as much, writing in one passage that the Incas “recorded on knots everything that could be counted, even mentioning battles and fights, all the embassies that had come to visit the Inca, and all the speeches and arguments they had uttered”. True, he was prone to ambiguity and contradictions. But about a third of the khipus in collections seem to have a more elaborate construction than the others, as if they contain a different sort of information. For decades the point was moot, however, because no one could read any of them.

The first hints of revelations from khipus came in the 1920s, when anthropologist Leland Locke analysed a bunch of them housed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. He noticed that the knots are organised in rows almost like beads on an abacus (see diagram). He demonstrated that each row of knots at a certain height denoted units, tens, hundreds and so on. That made sense, fitting with the decimal system the Inca used to divide up groups for tribute purposes.

Written in knots

Hard knot to crack

The discovery sparked a wave of interest in khipus. By the 1990s, though, we still had no idea what the numbers meant. “Say you read off the number 76 – what does it refer to?,” asks Urton.

To answer that, you would ideally have a translation of a khipu into a familiar language. It would be an equivalent of the Rosetta stone, which contained a translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics into ancient Greek and unlocked that picture language. In the absence of that, Urton has spent the last 25 years tracking down and carefully digitising the details of every khipu he could find in museums and private collections across the world. Today, his Khipu Database Project contains details of more than 900 of them.

There are all sorts of varying factors in khipus: the colour of the strings, the structure of the knots and the direction in which they were hitched. Having spent countless hours poring over them, Urton began to think that binary differences in these features might be encoding information. For example, a basic knot tied in one direction could mean “paid”, while in the other it would mean “unpaid”. By 2012, he had developed a more specific hypothesis, proposing that the direction in which knots were tied, the colours of the strings, or some combination of the two, corresponded to the social status of the people whose tributes they recorded, and even individuals’ names. Without a khipu translation, however, the idea looked destined to remain untested.

Then in 2016, Urton was browsing his personal library when he picked out a book that contained a Spanish census document from the 1670s. It was what the colonists referred to as a revisita, a reassessment of six clans living around the village of Recuay in the Santa valley region of western Peru. The document was made in the same region and at the same time as a set of six khipus in his database, so in theory it and the khipus were recording the same things.

Checking it out, Urton found that there were 132 tribute payers listed in the text and 132 cords on the khipus. The fine details fitted too, with the numbers on the cords matching the charges the Spanish document said had been levelled. It seemed to be the match he had been looking for.

Even so, Urton was struggling to pick apart the detail of the connections between the Santa valley khipus and the Spanish documents. He ended up letting a Harvard undergraduate student named Manny Medrano take a look. He turned out to have the perfect complement of skills for the job. He was a native Spanish speaker and, majoring in economics, he was a whizz with spreadsheets. Medrano painstakingly generated tables of the khipu data and combed through them in search of matching patterns. This year, he and Urton showed for the first time that the way pendant cords are tied onto the primary cord indicates which clan an individual belonged to.

“It is a really important achievement,” says Jeffrey Splitstoser at George Washington University in Washington DC, who specialises in khipus from the Wari empire that preceded the Inca. “It gives us a new way to interpret these sources. Gary has made things a lot more tractable.” Yet the question of whether the khipus also contain stories still hung there.

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Serving Trump Revealed Who They Really Are … The Atlantic

JOSHUA ROBERTS / REUTERS

 

 

John Kelly’s forthcoming departure as White House chief of staff is a reminder of an important but underpublicized distinction among those who have chosen to support or work for President Donald Trump.The distinction is between those whom Trump has made bad, and those who have been revealed as bad through their association with this man. (There’s also a small “not yet bad” category, which I will get to later on.)

In the first category,“made bad,” are people who in other circumstances might have taken a harder, higher-minded path. They might have chosen to stand on principle, to take the long view, to seek out reasonable compromises, to defend the norms and values of American institutions—and, overall, to behave in a way they’d be happy to talk about later on. Many of these people have actually made those choices at previous times in their life.

The way Trump has made them bad is to put them in a corner where day-by-day they have to choose: Do they maintain their place within his organization, sheltered against his ridicule or wrath? Do they remain, even if it means accepting Trump’s lies, lying when necessary themselves, ignoring the standards they’d apply to any other leaders, and renouncing the policy goals they had defended through their previous careers? For today’s Republicans, those goals would include at least a lip-service interest in reducing deficits, a ferocious opposition to talk of trade wars and tariffs, at least a rhetorical reverence for the military, and an assumption that immigration was overall a plus for the United States. This is to say nothing of the modern GOP’s hair-trigger willingness to investigate possible conflicts of interest or abuses of executive power by the Clinton and Obama administrations.

To stay connected to Trump, Republicans have had to detach themselves from their previous lives and values. In making that choice, some people who in other circumstance would have been “good”—by their own lights, and the outside world’s—have been made bad.

 

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The Insect Apocalypse

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Sune Boye Riis was on a bike ride with his youngest son, enjoying the sun slanting over the fields and woodlands near their home north of Copenhagen, when it suddenly occurred to him that something about the experience was amiss. Specifically, something was missing.

It was summer. He was out in the country, moving fast. But strangely, he wasn’t eating any bugs.

For a moment, Riis was transported to his childhood on the Danish island of Lolland, in the Baltic Sea. Back then, summer bike rides meant closing his mouth to cruise through thick clouds of insects, but inevitably he swallowed some anyway. When his parents took him driving, he remembered, the car’s windshield was frequently so smeared with insect carcasses that you almost couldn’t see through it. But all that seemed distant now. He couldn’t recall the last time he needed to wash bugs from his windshield; he even wondered, vaguely, whether car manufacturers had invented some fancy new coating to keep off insects. But this absence, he now realized with some alarm, seemed to be all around him. Where had all those insects gone? And when? And why hadn’t he noticed?

Riis watched his son, flying through the beautiful day, not eating bugs, and was struck by the melancholy thought that his son’s childhood would lack this particular bug-eating experience of his own. It was, he granted, an odd thing to feel nostalgic about. But he couldn’t shake a feeling of loss. “I guess it’s pretty human to think that everything was better when you were a kid,” he said. “Maybe I didn’t like it when I was on my bike and I ate all the bugs, but looking back on it, I think it’s something everybody should experience.”

I met Riis, a lanky high school science and math teacher, on a hot day in June. He was anxious about not having yet written his address for the school’s graduation ceremony that evening, but first, he had a job to do. From his garage, he retrieved a large insect net, drove to a nearby intersection and stopped to strap the net to the car’s roof. Made of white mesh, the net ran the length of his car and was held up by a tent pole at the front, tapering to a small, removable bag in back. Drivers whizzing past twisted their heads to stare. Riis eyed his parking spot nervously as he adjusted the straps of the contraption. “This is not 100 percent legal,” he said, “but I guess, for the sake of science.”

Riis had not been able to stop thinking about the missing bugs. The more he learned, the more his nostalgia gave way to worry. Insects are the vital pollinators and recyclers of ecosystems and the base of food webs everywhere. Riis was not alone in noticing their decline. In the United States, scientists recently found the population of monarch butterflies fell by 90 percent in the last 20 years, a loss of 900 million individuals; the rusty-patched bumblebee, which once lived in 28 states, dropped by 87 percent over the same period. With other, less-studied insect species, one butterfly researcher told me, “all we can do is wave our arms and say, ‘It’s not here anymore!’ ” Still, the most disquieting thing wasn’t the disappearance of certain species of insects; it was the deeper worry, shared by Riis and many others, that a whole insect world might be quietly going missing, a loss of abundance that could alter the planet in unknowable ways. “We notice the losses,” says David Wagner, an entomologist at the University of Connecticut. “It’s the diminishment that we don’t see.”

Because insects are legion, inconspicuous and hard to meaningfully track, the fear that there might be far fewer than before was more felt than documented. People noticed it by canals or in backyards or under streetlights at night — familiar places that had become unfamiliarly empty. The feeling was so common that entomologists developed a shorthand for it, named for the way many people first began to notice that they weren’t seeing as many bugs. They called it the windshield phenomenon.

To test what had been primarily a loose suspicion of wrongness, Riis and 200 other Danes were spending the month of June roaming their country’s back roads in their outfitted cars. They were part of a study conducted by the Natural History Museum of Denmark, a joint effort of the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University and North Carolina State University. The nets would stand in for windshields as Riis and the other volunteers drove through various habitats — urban areas, forests, agricultural tracts, uncultivated open land and wetlands — hoping to quantify the disorienting sense that, as one of the study’s designers put it, “something from the past is missing from the present.”

When the investigators began planning the study in 2016, they weren’t sure if anyone would sign up. But by the time the nets were ready, a paper by an obscure German entomological society had brought the problem of insect decline into sharp focus. The German study found that, measured simply by weight, the overall abundance of flying insects in German nature reserves had decreased by 75 percent over just 27 years. If you looked at midsummer population peaks, the drop was 82 percent.

Riis learned about the study from a group of his students in one of their class projects. They must have made some kind of mistake in their citation, he thought. But they hadn’t. The study would quickly become, according to the website Altmetric, the sixth-most-discussed scientific paper of 2017. Headlines around the world warned of an “insect Armageddon.”

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The Mayan trainwreck … The Washington Post

Mayan ruins in the southern state of Chiapas, Palenque, Mexico. (National Institute of Anthropology and History/Reuters)
Victor Lichtinger is Mexico’s former secretary of the environment and was the first director of the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation. Homero Aridjis is a writer, environmentalist and former ambassador to UNESCO. His latest books are “News of the Earth” and “Maria the Monarch.” This article was translated by Betty Ferber.

MEXICO CITY — During his inauguration speech on Dec. 1, Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, made bold promises to “purify public life in Mexico” and ensure that the “poor come first.” As part of his image as a man of the people, AMLO, as he’s known, has ordered two national referendums since his party, MORENA, took control of Congress on Sept. 1.

The latest one, which took place on Nov. 24 and 25, included a controversial vote on the construction of a train that would link Mayan archaeological and tourist sites in five southeastern states — and will also be used for freight. When the results came in a day later, 850,527 voters, a scant .65 percent of Mexico’s population of 130 million, made “the people’s will” known in favor of the “Mayan Train,” even as environmentalists and indigenous peoples fiercely protested. As “democratic” as the referendum may seem, it has no validity under current law, and the speed at which this initiative was put to a vote and the lack of public information on a project that will cost $6 to $8 billion are extremely concerning.

Despite such concerns, AMLO has stated he plans to move forward with the train. It is intended to run on 932 miles of track, nearly one third to be laid through tropical forests. It will pass through Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and the Yucatán, where some of Mexico’s most important natural and archaeological treasures are located. These states are also home to critical habitats of stunning biodiversity. Mexico is one of 17 megadiverse countries, hosting the world’s second largest number of ecosystems. But its forests and mangroves are disappearing at an alarming rate.

On Nov. 15, hundreds of scientists, environmentalists, human rights defenders, cultural figures and non-governmental organizations addressed a letter to AMLO, condemning decision-making by inadequate public consultation and asking for a cancellation of the referendum. “High biodiversity sites must be preserved according to the most stringent international standards,” they wrote, “taking into account the indigenous peoples who have been the guarantors of their territories and custodians of the natural and cultural wealth of our country.” In response, AMLO uploaded three videos touting the train to his Twitter and Facebook followers and accused the signers of the letter of elitism, telling them they needed to “rub shoulders with the people.” The train is meant to promote economic development in and around the region’s principal tourist centers.

An endeavor of the train’s magnitude cannot proceed without a wide-ranging evaluation of its environmental, cultural and archaeological impacts. The environmental impact assessment must then be evaluated by federal authorities and open to public consultations. It also requires permission from the indigenous peoples through whose territory the train will run. The 1989 Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention states that indigenous communities must give free, prior and informed consent “to legislative or administrative measures which may affect them directly.” Mexico’s National Indigenous Network threatened legal action if work begins on the train in violation of international law. As Mayan communities in the Yucatán peninsula have said, “There’s nothing Mayan about the train.”

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A New Study About the World’s Worst Mass Extinction Should Make You Very Nervous for Our Future ~ Mother Jones

Climate change is a path the Earth has been on before. Just ask scientists studying “The Great Dying.”

MHJ/Getty

Appropriately, scientists nicknamed the event the “Great Dying” (also known in science speak as the “Permian-Triassic extinction”). But despite the magnitude of the disaster, only in the past two decades did paleontologists find clues of it in the fossil record—and discover it coincided with a massive volcanic event in modern-day Siberia.

Still, there was a major blind spot in scientists’ understanding of the Great Dying: While they knew about the extinction and they knew about the volcanic eruption, it was unclear just how the two were related and what exactly caused the massive die-off. Scientists had long suspectedthe volcano’s release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere played a role, though they didn’t know the precise mechanism by which it happened. (It’s sort of like how a doctor may know that a person died in a car accident but can’t pinpoint the exact cause of death.)

 

Now, a new study published Thursday in the journal Science suggests the culprit of the Great Dying—and the connection between the two events—was likely something the planet is all too familiar with today: global warming, and, as a result, high ocean temperatures and a loss of oxygen in the water.

And, it turns out, this millions-year-old event might be able to serve as a warning for our own future. The authors write that the combination of those two factors—warming water and low oxygen—“can account for more than half the magnitude of the ‘Great Dying’” in the ocean. Both factors, of course, are still at play right now.

“These extreme events are so important because they give us some view—what are the limits of climate change?” Woodward Fischer, a professor of geobiology at Caltech who reviewed the paper and was not involved with the study, tells Mother Jones. “What are the limits of environmental change? And how do those feedback on the biosphere? It’s kind of like a way of asking, ‘Well, what is possible?’”

Here’s how the authors got their result: While scientists had long guessed a warming climate played a part in the Great Dying, they hadn’t come up with a way to prove it. In order to test the theory, the team simulated ancient global warming with a model of Earth’s climate and predicted how ocean warming and oxygen loss would affect where ancient marine species could survive, based on the tolerance levels of animals alive today, including fish, crustaceans, sharks, corals, and mollusks. It wasn’t a perfect model (no model is), but it served as an approximation of how sensitive ancient species may have been to a warming climate at the time. Then, to see how the model stood up, they compared it with the fossil record.

It performed spectacularly. Not only did it match up with the fossil record, but it even predicted something that paleontologists had never noticed: that creatures living near the equator were slightly more likely to survive a major warming event than ones near the poles. Presumably, those living at the equator could travel north to cooler waters as the temperatures rose, while those at the poles were trapped. (That’s not to say the tropics are a useful refuge; the majority of species still died there.)

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Manafort, Cohen, and Individual 1 Are in Grave Danger ~ The Atlantic

 

Federal prosecutors filed three briefs late on Friday portending grave danger for three men: the former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, the former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, and President Donald Trump. In an age when Americans usually get mere squibs of breaking news from Twitter, Facebook, and red-faced cable shouters, many started their weekend poring over complex legal filings and peering suspiciously at blacked-out paragraphs. The documents were stunning, even for 2018.

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Goalie’s best friend: Dog saves shot on wide open goal in Argentine soccer match

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~~~  WATCH  ~~~

Belgrano keeper Brian Leandro Olivera made a terrific blunder. He scooped up a loose ball in the box and went to clear it downfield, except he punted in the ball directly into the back of a Juventud player. The ball bounced right to the attacker’s feet for a golden chance to extend Juventud’s lead, with the goal unattended.

But then, what is this? What is this furry blur darting across the pitch? Who is this shadowy hero patrolling the goal mouth? Could it be, A DOGGY?