The HOSTILE behind trump’s hatred of immigrants

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WASHINGTON — When historians try to explain how opponents of immigration captured the Republican Party, they may turn to the spring of 2007, when President George W. Bush threw his waning powers behind a legalization plan and conservative populists buried it in scorn.

Mr. Bush was so taken aback, he said he worried about America “losing its soul,” and immigration politics have never been the same.

That spring was significant for another reason, too: An intense young man with wary, hooded eyes and fiercely anti-immigrant views graduated from college and began a meteoric rise as a Republican operative. With the timing of a screenplay, the man and the moment converged.

Stephen Miller was 22 and looking for work in Washington. He lacked government experience but had media appearances on talk radio and Fox News and a history of pushing causes like “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.” A first-term congresswoman from Minnesota offered him a job interview and discovered they were reading the same book: a polemic warning that Muslim immigration could mean “the end of the world as we know it.”

Scientists decry ‘ignorance’ of rolling back species protections in the midst of a mass extinction ~ The Washington Post

At least 277 plant and animal species have gone extinct in North America since the 1700s, data show

Areas in red show where indigenous organism populations have dropped below the “safe” limit of ecological stability, according to a 2016 study. (Christopher Ingraham/The Washington Post. Data from the Natural History Museum)
August 16 at 8:52 AM



This week, the Trump administration finalized changes intended to weaken key provisions of the Endangered Species Act.

As Darryl Fears writes for The Washington Post, the changes would “allow the administration to reduce the amount of habitat set aside for wildlife and remove tools that officials use to predict future harm to species as a result of climate change. It would also reveal for the first time in the law’s 45-year history the financial costs of protecting them.”

The changes have drawn widespread condemnation from the scientific community, including complaints the administration is weakening protections for vulnerable species just as scientific consensus is converging on the idea that Earth is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction event, a man-made disaster with radically destabilizing consequences.

In North America alone, at least 277 plant and animal species have gone extinct since Europeans first arrived on the continent, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, regarded by scientists as the gold standard for data on threatened and endangered species.

the gold standard for data on threatened and endangered species.

The list of the fallen includes some relatively familiar creatures, such as the passenger pigeon and the Steller’s sea cow. But it’s composed primarily of mollusks, insects and other more obscure organisms. Most importantly, it’s egregiously incomplete: Biologists estimate that only about 10 percent of the world’s plant and animal species has been identified and categorized, meaning that many are being killed off before humans are even aware of their existence.

“We’re obliterating landscapes before we’ve even had a chance to catalogue the species that lived there,” said Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. The true number of species that we’ve wiped out, she says, is “completely unknown.”

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

Why a Medieval Woman Had Lapis Lazuli Hidden in Her Teeth ~ Pocket

This set of teeth had a secret hidden in the tartar. Photo by Christina Warinner.

What Anita Radini noticed under the microscope was the blue—a brilliant blue that seemed so unnatural, so out of place in the 1,000-year-old dental tartar she was gently dissolving in weak acid.

It was ultramarine, she would later learn, a pigment that a millennium ago could only have come from lapis lazuli originating in a single region of Afghanistan. This blue was once worth its weight in gold. It was used, most notably, to give the Virgin Mary’s robes their striking color in centuries of artwork. And the teeth that were embedded with this blue likely belonged to a scribe or painter of medieval manuscripts.

Who was that person? A woman, first of all. According to radiocarbon dating, she lived around 997 to 1162, and she was buried at a women’s monastery in Dalheim, Germany. And so these embedded blue particles in her teeth illuminate a forgotten history of medieval manuscripts: Not just monks made them. In the medieval ages, nuns also produced the famously laborious and beautiful books. And some of these women must have been very good, if they were using pigment as precious and rare as ultramarine.

If pigments can be preserved in tartar—the gunky yellow stuff on teeth that dental plaque hardens into—that means that fibers, metals, and other dyes could be, too. “This is genuinely a big deal,” says Mark Clarke, a technical art historian at Nova University Lisbon who was not involved in the new study. You could imagine identifying metalworkers, carpenters, and other artisans from the particles embedded in tartar, Clarke says. “It’s opening up a new avenue in archaeology.”

Radini and her co-author, Christina Warinner, did not set out to study the production of illuminated manuscripts. Radini, now at the University of York, was initially interested in starch granules in tartar as a proxy for diet, and Warinner, a microbiome researcher at the Max Planck Institute, wanted to study the DNA of ancient oral bacteria. But the blue particles were too striking to ignore.

The semiprecious rock lapis lazuli is ground up to create a pigment called ultramarine, tiny particles of which can be found in dental tartar. Photo by Christina Warinner.

“Can you imagine the kind of cold calls we had to make in the beginning?” says Warinner. “‘Hi, I’m working with this thing on teeth, and it’s about 1,000 years old, and it has blue stuff in it. Can you help me?’ People thought we were crazy. We tried reaching out to physicists, and they were like, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ We tried reaching out to people working in art restoration, and they were like, ‘Why are you working with plaque?’” She eventually reached physicists at the University of York who helped confirm the blue did indeed come from the mineral lazurite, derived from lapis lazuli.

But art experts were still skeptical. Some dismissed the idea that a woman could have been a painter skilled enough to work with ultramarine. One suggested to Warinner that this woman came into contact with ultramarine because she was simply the cleaning lady.

Warinner eventually reached out to Alison Beach, a historian at Ohio State University who studies female scribes in 12th-century Germany. Over the past couple of decades, Beach and other scholars have cataloged the overlooked contributions of women to medieval book production. The challenge, Beach says, is that while most manuscripts with signatures are signed by men, the vast majority of manuscripts are unsigned. But a small number of surviving manuscripts are signed by women, and scholars have found correspondence between monks and nuns about book production.

Beach even came across a letter dated to the year 1168, in which a bookkeeper of a men’s monastery commissions sister “N” to produce a deluxe manuscript using luxury materials such as parchment, leather, and silk. The monastery where sister “N” lived is only 40 miles from Dalheim, where the teeth with lapis lazuli were found. Beach also identified a book using lapis lazuli that was written by a female scribe in Germany around a.d. 1200. The pigment would have traveled nearly 4,000 miles from Afghanistan to Europe via the Silk Road. All the evidence suggests that female scribes were indeed making books that used lapis lazuli pigment in the same area and around the same time this woman was alive.

An illuminated page from the Scivias, a 12th-century book written by the nun Hildegard of Bingen and painted by two anonymous artists. The blue pigment comes from lapis lazuli. Photo from the Heidelberg University Library / Cod. Sal. X,16 / page 2r.

The team considered a number of alternative ways lapis lazuli could have gotten into the woman’s dental plaque. Could the particles have come from repeated kissing of an illuminated manuscript? This practice didn’t become popular until three centuries after this woman likely died. Could it have come from lapis ingested as medicine, as suggested in Greek and Islamic medical texts? There’s little evidence that prescription was followed in 12th-century Germany. The lapis lazuli particles were also especially fine, which requires a laborious grinding process. This detail in particular suggests that the stones were purposefully made into pigment.

The team concluded that two scenarios are most likely: The woman was a painter who could have ingested ultramarine paint while licking her brush to a point, or she breathed in the powder while preparing pigment for herself or someone else. You can almost begin to picture her, Beach says, sitting by herself laboring over a manuscript day after day. “For a medieval historian,” she adds, “this kind of clear material evidence of something from the life of an individual person is so extraordinary.”

Cynthia Cyrus, a professor at Vanderbilt who has also studied medieval scribes, told me that reading the paper was “the highlight of my day.” Like many monasteries, she noted, the one where this woman was buried was eventually destroyed in a medieval fire. There’s little evidence of what life was like there. But the woman’s teeth suggest that it could have been a site of highly skilled book production.

Warinner is continuing to study the particles embedded in old tartar. She and others have found everything from insect parts and the pollen of exotic ornamental flowers to opium, bits of wool, and milk proteins—all of which tell stories about what people ate and how they lived. The detritus of everyday life accumulates in the gunk that modern dentists are so vigilant about scrubbing off. “They aren’t thinking of future archaeologists,” Warinner jokes.

Sarah Zhang is a staff writer at The Atlantic.

Extreme climate change has arrived in America ~ The Washington Post

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LAKE HOPATCONG, N.J. — Before climate change thawed the winters of New Jersey, this lake hosted boisterous wintertime carnivals. As many as 15,000 skaters took part, and automobile owners would drive onto the thick ice. Thousands watched as local hockey clubs battled one another and the Skate Sailing Association of America held competitions, including one in 1926 that featured 21 iceboats on blades that sailed over a three-mile course.

In those days before widespread refrigeration, workers flocked here to harvest ice. They would carve blocks as much as two feet thick, float them to giant ice houses, sprinkle them with sawdust and load them onto rail cars bound for ice boxes in New York City and beyond.

New Jersey’s average temperatures have risen nearly 2 degrees Celsius since 1895 — double the average for the Lower 48 states.

“These winters do not exist anymore,” says Marty Kane, a lawyer and head of the Lake Hopatcong Foundation.

That’s because a century of climbing temperatures has changed the character of the Garden State. The massive ice industry and skate sailing association are but black-and-white photographs at the local museum. And even the hardy souls who still try to take part in ice fishing contests here have had to cancel 11 of the past dozen competitions for fear of straying onto perilously thin ice and tumbling into the frigid water.

Click any temperature underlined in the story to convert between Celsius and Fahrenheit

New Jersey may seem an unlikely place to measure climate change, but it is one of the fastest-warming states in the nation. Its average temperature has climbed by close to 2 degrees Celsius since 1895 — double the average for the Lower 48 states.


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Over the past two decades, the 2 degrees Celsius number has emerged as a critical threshold for global warming. In the 2015 Paris accord, international leaders agreed that the world should act urgently to keep the Earth’s average temperature increases “well below” 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 to avoid a host of catastrophic changes.

The potential consequences are daunting. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that if Earth heats up by an average of 2 degrees Celsius, virtually all the world’s coral reefs will die; retreating ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica could unleash massive sea level rise; and summertime Arctic sea ice, a shield against further warming, would begin to disappear.

But global warming does not heat the world evenly.

A Washington Post analysis of more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark.

— Today, more than 1 in 10 Americans — 34 million people — are living in rapidly heating regions, including New York City and Los Angeles. Seventy-one counties have already hit the 2-degree Celsius mark.

— Alaska is the fastest-warming state in the country, but Rhode Island is the first state in the Lower 48 whose average temperature rise has eclipsed 2 degrees Celsius. Other parts of the Northeast — New Jersey, Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts — trail close behind.

— While many people associate global warming with summer’s melting glaciers, forest fires and disastrous flooding, it is higher winter temperatures that have made New Jersey and nearby Rhode Island the fastest warming of the Lower 48 states.

The average New Jersey temperature from December through February now exceeds 0 degrees Celsius, the temperature at which water freezes. That threshold, reached over the past three decades, has meant lakes don’t freeze as often, snow melts more quickly, and insects and pests don’t die as they once did in the harsher cold.

The freezing point “is the most critical threshold among all temperatures,” said David A. Robinson, New Jersey state climatologist and professor at Rutgers University’s department of geography.

The uneven rise in temperatures across the United States matches what is happening around the world.

Rhode Island is the first state in the Lower 48 whose average temperature rise has eclipsed 2 degrees Celsius.

In the past century, the Earth has warmed 1 degree Celsius. But that’s just an average. Some parts of the globe — including the mountains of Romania and the steppes of Mongolia — have registered increases twice as large. It has taken decades or in some cases a century. But for huge swaths of the planet, climate change is a present-tense reality, not one looming ominously in the distant future.

To find the world’s 2C hot spots, its fastest-warming places, The Post analyzed temperature databases, including those kept by NASA and NOAA; peer-reviewed scientific studies; and reports by local climatologists. The global data sets draw upon thousands of land-based weather stations and other measurements, such as ocean buoys armed with sensors and ship logs dating as far back as 1850.

In any one geographic location, 2 degrees Celsius may not represent global cataclysmic change, but it can threaten ecosystems, change landscapes and upend livelihoods and cultures.

In Lake Hopatcong, thinning ice let loose waves of aquatic weeds that ordinarily die in the cold. This year, a new blow: Following one of the warmest springs of the past century, harmful bacteria known as blue-green algae bloomed in the lake just as the tourist season was taking off in June.

~~~  CONTINUE  ~~~

trump administration said it was moving these agencies for efficiency. Now the truth comes out. ~ The Washington Post

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney in the Oval Office on Jan. 31. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
August 10 at 6:46 PM

“WHAT A wonderful way to streamline government,” said acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney at a gala last week, referring to the Agriculture Department’s plan to move two of its science agencies out of the D.C. area to the Kansas City region. In celebrating this controversial decision, Mr. Mulvaney laid bare the thinly veiled motivations behind uprooting researchers: not efficiency, but to drive talented workers out.

Since the relocation announcement in June, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue has defended the controversial proposal, arguing that relocation will bring researchers closer to the subjects of their research and save the agency millions in employment costs and rent. But the haste and amateurishness of the process raised suspicions about true motives. And, now, Mr. Mulvaney has confirmed those suspicions by celebrating the gutting of the Economic Research Service, a federal statistics agency, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which oversees grant money for agricultural research. The motivation fits with the administration’s broader hostility toward experts, science and honest data.

In June, a Politico analysis found that the Trump administration barred dozens of climate-change-related investigations from being publicized. Politico also discovered that the research service issued news releases on only two studies directly related to climate change — both of which were favorable to the meat industry.

Even if relocation were justifiable, the USDA’s handling of the process has, so far, been deplorable. The more than 500 agency employees affected by the move were given 33 days to decide between their career and the lives they had established in the District. Approximately two-thirds chose resignation over reassignment. The loss of talent and institutional knowledge creates an irreparable tear in the fabric of the agency — and an entirely foreseeable one. If the USDA’s plan was to “drain the swamp,” as Mr. Mulvaney put it, then it certainly is succeeding — if by swamp, as Post columnist Catherine Rampell wrote, they mean civil service expertise. But if the department wants to carry out its true mission of helping rural America, it should rethink this move.

Research by the USDA is vital to farmers. As economic challenges mount with the ongoing trade war with China, and as climate change poses a growing threat to farmlands worldwide, the work by the ERS and NIFA is indispensable. They not only help farmers improve efficiency and productivity but also help smooth access to international markets.

The relocation is not a done deal. The USDA’s watchdog, the Office of Inspector General, published a report this month that challenges the relocation, which is meant to be completed by Sept. 30. By acting without budgetary approval from Congress, the USDA may have violated the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act. Rather than waiting for a judicial rebuke, the department should cancel the relocation now.

Perseid meteor shower peaks Monday, Tuesday nights ~ The Washington Post

It is considered by many to be the best meteor shower of the year

A Perseid meteor streaks over Washington in August 2015, seen from Arlington, Va.
August 11 at 10:10 AM

There are few things more special than watching a shooting star streak across the sky on a warm summer evening. Viewers across the United States will have a chance Monday and Tuesday nights, when a dozen meteors per hour and possibly up to 50 or more at its peak are slated to dazzle the heavens after dark.

Meteor showers occur when Earth enters a spattering of space-borne debris. The debris usually stems from a larger object — namely a comet or asteroid — that passed by long ago. The Perseids occur as Earth passes through the debris trail of the comet Swift-Tuttle.

The reason we see the meteor shower at the same time each year is because Earth moves through the same area of debris at this point in its annual orbit around the sun.

When a piece of debris strikes the outer atmosphere about 60 miles high, friction causes it to burn up. Most of the shooting stars you see actually come from pebbles the size of a grain of rice or smaller.

“But if you see a fireball, it’s probably bigger,” says Bill Cooke, who leads NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “Those ones are about a centimeter across.”

Where to look

You’re unlikely to catch more than a few sporadic shooting stars during twilight, before about 10 p.m. After that, there’s no specific place to look — just up! Some people seek out the show’s radiant, which marks the point from which all the shooting stars appear to originate. That would be the constellation Perseus, hanging low in the northern/northeastern sky.

There’s no special benefit to looking there, however. In fact, many skywatchers look away from the radiant to see shooting stars that have the longest, most spectacular-looking tails.

The Perseids are the most popular meteor shower of the year, in large part because they occur during the summer.

“They’re convenient,” Cooke says. “The Geminids produce more meteors, but they’re in mid-December. With the Perseids, the nights are comfortable, and you can watch them without freezing your carcass off.”

Where to watch the Perseids

Watching a meteor shower is a bit like real estate; it’s all about location, location, location.

The Perseids will be visible across the United States and elsewhere, and the best viewing will be found away from light pollution. For example, if you live in D.C. and are looking for the best show, try the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, or farther east along the shores of the Rappahannock River.

Bring a blanket or towel to sit on, and some snacks and bug spray. (And maybe a flashlight to inspect for potential spider-related hazards before settling down.)

The moon will act to dim the show

The Perseids will be limited this year, however, by moonlight, which will effectively block viewing of many of the fainter meteors. Moonrise Monday night is at 6:33 p.m., and it doesn’t set until 4:20 a.m., meaning it will be up for most of the shower.

However, the Perseids are known for their fireballs, or extremely bright meteors, which will still shine through the moonlight.

If you see one, you’ll certainly know it! Sometimes fireballs are caused by the object that hits Earth’s atmosphere being greater in size; other times it’s a result of the meteor penetrating deeper into the atmosphere. Most of the time it’s both.

The colors you see depend on the composition of the meteor. “Perseids show a strong sodium signal,” Cooke says. “That’s why they often appear yellow.”

Although it’s tough to determine their elemental composition, some meteors have been known to contain magnesium, iron, carbon and silicon. Colors can also come from ionization of the surrounding air.



What’s up in the August sky? Look for the “shooting stars” of the annual Perseid meteor shower for some stargazing delights, but be warned — the bright Moon will overwhelm the fainter meteors during the show peak on August 12 & 13 this year. Watch & learn: 

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The Perseid meteor shower has a peak that lasts a few days, so if you miss the peak Monday night, don’t fret. You’ll still be able to catch some more shooting stars over the next few nights.

Showing up to work a bit drowsy Tuesday or Wednesday is a small price to pay for such a stunning celestial spectacle. Weather permitting, it should be a decent, albeit more-muted-than-average, show.

Chile suffers the worst drought in 60 years ~Al Jazeera

Chile’s populated capital Santiago, as well as the Valparaiso region, could be left without drinking water by 2030.


Central Chile is suffering the worst drought in 60 years. That includes the capital Santiago, home to nearly half the country’s population of 18 million.

Experts predict climate change, over-exploitation by agriculture and other factors means the shortage of water will be permanent.



Chile droughts: Private water system under pressure

Water is becoming increasingly scarce in Chile due to drought, the overuse of aquifers and a dysfunctional system of private water ownership.


Droughts are common as the precious resource becomes scarce.

In Chile, a unique law that dates back to the country’s military dictatorship separates water and land rights.

And its free market system is increasingly coming under fire as water becomes scarcer.

~~~  WATCH  ~~~




How Chile Should Prepare For A Future Without Water

SANTIAGO – Lack of drinking water, disappearing lakes, heat records: every year seems worse than the one before when it comes to drought in Chile. Few countries will get hit by a water deficit as hard as Chile in the decades to come. The country should prepare for a new future: one without water.

Martin Bernetti / AFP / Getty Images



The harsh situation Chile is facing couldn’t be portrayed more graphic. Lake Aculeo, one hour from capital Santiago, was once a popular summer destination for those looking for a relaxed day of swimming and sailing. Those who visit what’s left of the lake in Paine that once had four times the surface of New York’s Central Park will be shocked.

It has completely dried up in less than 10 years. The before-and-after photos and the satellite images of the lake throughout the last decade tell the story of Chile. Because what happened to Lake Aculeo could happen anywhere.

Record After Record

The Ministry of Public Works released a report this month, showing the extreme situation Chile is dealing with. This year promises to become another record-breaking one: in the central-northern area the decrease in rainfall exceeded 80 percent.

2018 was one of the driest years in half a century for Santiago, the period between 2010 and 2015 was labeled a mega drought, and according to the Chilean meteorological service the period between 2003 and 2014 was the driest decade in the last 150 years and the warmest ever recorded in the country.

According to a World Resources Institute investigation, Chile will be among the most water-stressed countries in the world by 2040. Record after record and pessimistic investigations all convey the same message: Chile is drying up and facing extreme water stress.

Everyone Suffers

The destructive effects of drought came to light during the mega drought. Although weather phenomena such as La Niña played a role, a large part could be contributed to climate change.  According to a government report focusing on Central Chile, such long periods without rain damage everything from the economy, nature and vegetation and the quantity and quality of the drinking water.

In the years of the mega drought “the average flow rate deficit in rivers in Coquimbo and Valparaíso regions was as high as 70 percent. The quantity of water stored in drinking water reservoirs was at historical lows for over three years. Satellite images showed a reduction in vegetation growth along coastal areas and interior valleys, from Coquimbo Region to O’Higgins Region.”

According to the same report, “the number of large-scale forest fires (more than 200 hectares) from Valparaíso to La Araucanía regions increased by 27 percent compared to the historical average. Another impact of drought was the constant lengthening of the forest fire season. During the last decade, the forest fire season expanded to cover the entire 12 months of the year (from July 1st to June 30th of the following year).”

Chile’s Future: Solutions In The Obstacles

Although the report focused on the mega drought, the government quickly realized that drought was to stay. Then president Michelle Bachelet vowed in 2015 that the government would invest US $170 million “to access underground water sources, build and upgrade canals and improve irrigation systems.” But is that enough?

Climate change can’t be stopped. Rain isn’t coming back. Drought is here to stay. These realities still seem hard to understand for a society in which investment and economy have always come first. Even after the destructive mega drought, many state officials, the private sector and citizens saw such droughts as extraordinary, something transient.

But if Chile wants to prepare the best way possible for permanent water stress that will hit the country harder than any forest fire, it should look to these three groups.

Economically important sectors such as mining and the agriculture both suffer from and contribute to the droughts in Chile. To regulate the private sector and its use of water, the Water Code should be changed. Access to and consumption of clean water is a human right. Throughout Chile, dozens of conflicts between citizens and companies over the rights of water access continue to boil.

The bureaucracy is another obstacle on the way to a working reform of the Water Code. At the moment, various agencies, government bodies, public-private companies and organizations want their say on Chile’s water resources. One administrative entity should control this entire situation.

But the biggest change is needed in mentality, society and culture. Awareness campaigns to raise awareness among Chilean citizens, a more focused aid program for the more vulnerable people in the country and involving different actors when looking for solutions: Chile needs to change itself to prepare for a new future.

Don’t forget to take your hat off in Montana …

A man assaulted a 13-year-old because he was ‘disrespecting the national anthem,’ witness says

August 6 at 6:44 PM

A Montana man allegedly slammed a boy’s head to the ground at a county fair because the 13-year-old kept his hat on during the national anthem, a witness told local news outlets.

In a news release, Mineral County Sheriff Mike Boone said witnesses identified the suspect as 39-year-old Curt James Brockway. Brockway was apprehended at the fairgrounds, located in the western Montana town of Superior, and charged with assault on a minor — a felony crime.

The sheriff’s office declined to provide additional information on the alleged assault, including motive. But Taylor Hennick, who attended the event, told local news outlets that she overheard the attack near the Mineral County Fair and Rodeo’s entrance, just as the national anthem began to play.

The woman said she heard a “pop,” and turned to see the boy writhing on the ground.

“He was bleeding out of his ears, seizing on the ground, just not coherent,” Hennick told the Missoulian. As startled spectators closed in on Brockway, Hennick said he offered a simple defense for his actions.

“He said [the boy] was disrespecting the national anthem, so he had every right to do that,” she added.

Police say the child was rushed to a hospital Saturday, then flown to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane, Wash. KPAX, a CBS-affiliated news station, reports the boy suffered temporal skull fractures in the incident. His mother told the station her son’s ears bled for six hours after the alleged assault.

By Tuesday, the boy was released from the hospital and recovering at home, she said.

“It’s just a lot of pain in my head. I don’t remember anything — the rodeo — the helicopter — nothing,” the 13-year-old said in an interview with the station.

Burning of Mayan City Said to Be Act of Total Warfare ~ NYT

By linking an ancient text, environmental analysis and ruins, archaeologists have documented a brutal attack.

3-D models of two stone stelae collected from an ancient Mayan site in present-day Guatemala. One of the stelae bears a heiroglyph that says the city of Bahlam Jol “burned for the second time.”
tCredit A. Tokovinine

On May 21, 697, according to Mayan hieroglyphs, the city of Bahlam Jol “burned for the second time.”

But, like much of Mayan writing and history, the record remained mysterious to modern Maya researchers. Where was Bahlam Jol? What exactly were the Mayans describing with the hieroglyph that is translated as “burn”? There are many kinds of burning.

A team of researchers that began their work with a study of lake sediments in Guatemala has found that Bahlam Jol is the Mayan name of ruins that archaeologists call Witzna in northern Guatemala, and they concluded that the fire was devastating.

They reported Monday in the journal Nature Human Behaviourthat the burning of Bahlam Jol was an example of total war, including ordinary city residents as targets, and not the more rule-bound conflict that focused on taking important prisoners that was thought to be the dominant form of warfare at that time in their history.