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Wicked Blue

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Maryland
Home country: United States
Member since: Tue Aug 11, 2020, 09:58 PM
Number of posts: 5,334

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Homo naledi were burying their dead at least 100,000 years before humans

Ars Technica
Jennifer Ouellette - 6/5/2023, 2:00 PM

Some 25 miles outside of Johannesburg, South Africa, there is a famous paleoanthropological site known as the Cradle of Humankind. So many hominin bones were found in the region that it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999. Among the many limestone caves in the region is the Rising Star cave, where cavers discovered fossils representing a new hominin species, Homo naledi, in 2015. Only H. naledi remains were found in the cave, suggesting the possibility that the bodies had been placed there deliberately, although this hypothesis proved to be a bit controversial.

Now the same expedition team has announced the discovery of H. naledi bodies deposited in fetal positions, indicating intentional burials. This predates the earliest known burials by Homo sapiens by at least 100,000 years, suggesting that brain size might not be the definitive factor behind such complex behavior. The team also found crosshatched symbols engraved on the walls of the cave that could date as far back as 241,000–335,000 years, although testing is still ongoing.

Taken together, the discoveries provide evidence of a major cognitive step in human evolution in terms of mortuary practices and meaning-making. The team described these new findings during a virtual press conference and in three new preprints posted to the BioRxiv, which will be published later this year in the journal eLife.

"I think we are facing a remarkable discovery here of hominids with brains a third the size of living humans, and slightly larger than chimpanzees, burying their dead—something previously only found in large-brained hominids—as well as etching meaning-making symbols on the wall," said Lee Berger, a paleoanthropologist and National Geographic Explorer in Residence who leads the Rising Star Project. "This would mean not only are humans not unique in the development of symbolic practices, but [they] may not even have invented such behaviors."


Newly discovered stone tools drag dawn of Greek archaeology back by a quarter-million years


June 2, 2023, 4:39 AM EDT / Source: Associated Press
By Associated Press

Deep in an open coal mine in southern Greece, researchers have discovered the antiquities-rich country’s oldest archaeological site, which dates to 700,000 years ago and is associated with modern humans’ hominin ancestors.

The find announced Thursday would drag the dawn of Greek archaeology back by as much as a quarter of a million years, although older hominin sites have been discovered elsewhere in Europe. The oldest, in Spain, dates to more than a million years ago.

The Greek site was one of five investigated in the Megalopolis area during a five-year project involving an international team of experts, a Culture Ministry statement said.

It was found to contain rough stone tools from the Lower Palaeolithic period — about 3.3 million to 300,000 years ago — and the remains of an extinct species of giant deer, elephants, hippopotamus, rhinoceros and a macaque monkey.


What did Stonehenge sound like?

By Anna Muckerman
2nd June 2023

Through the doors of a university building, down a concrete hallway and inside a foam-covered room stands a shin-high replica of one of the most mysterious monuments ever built: Stonehenge.

These miniature standing stones aren't on public display, although they might help give the million annual visitors who come to the real site a better understanding of the imposing, lichen-covered stone structure built roughly 5,000 years ago. Instead, this scale model is at the centre of ongoing research into Stonehenge's acoustical properties, and what its sound might tell us about its purpose.

"We know that the acoustics of places influence how you use them, so understanding the sound of a prehistoric site is an important part of the archaeology," said Trevor Cox, professor and acoustics researcher at the University of Salford in Manchester.


Thanks to Cox's recent studies, however, we now know a fascinating detail about one of the world's most enigmatic sites: it once acted as a giant echo chamber, amplifying sounds made inside the circle to those standing within, but shielding noise from those standing outside the circle. This finding has led some to ponder whether the monument was actually constructed as a ritual site for a small and elite group.


Drones attack Russian oil refineries near major oil port Novorossiisk

Source: Reuters

MOSCOW, May 31 (Reuters) - Drones attacked two oil refineries just 40-50 miles (65-80 km) east of Russia's biggest oil export terminals on Wednesday, sparking a fire at one and causing no damage to the other, according to Russian officials.

Drone attacks deep inside Russia have intensified in recent weeks with strikes on Moscow, oil pipelines and even the Kremlin ahead of a Ukrainian counter-offensive.

At around 0100 GMT a drone struck the Afipsky oil refinery in Russia's Krasnodar region, causing a fire which was later extinguished, Governor Veniamin Kondratyev said.

The Afipsky refinery lies 50 miles east of the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk, one of Russia's most important oil export gateways. The plant can process around 6 million tonnes (44 million barrels) of oil each year.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/fire-oil-refinery-russias-krasnodar-likely-caused-by-drone-governor-2023-05-31/

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to announce his 2024 presidential campaign Tuesday

Source: NBC News

May 31, 2023, 8:50 AM EDT / Updated May 31, 2023, 9:11 AM EDT
By Vaughn Hillyard and Summer Concepcion

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is set to announce his 2024 presidential campaign Tuesday at a town hall in Manchester, New Hampshire, a source confirmed to NBC News.

This marks the second presidential campaign for Christie, who stumbled to a sixth-place finish in the 2016 New Hampshire primary.

Axios was the first to report the timing of Christie's 2024 campaign announcement.

After dropping out of the race eight years ago, Christie, in a then-stunning move, endorsed Donald Trump just days before Super Tuesday, lending a credible name to Trump’s momentum at the time.

Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2024-election/former-new-jersey-gov-chris-christie-set-announce-2024-presidential-ca-rcna87004

I can hardly wait for someone to dig out that photo of him lounging on the beach on Long Beach Island after ordering everyone else off the island for a holiday weekend.

Friday's weirdness

Months after residents sound the alarm, Pennsylvania 'cracks' down on Shell plant

NBC News
May 25, 2023, 7:29 PM EDT
By Katarina Sabados, Kenzi Abou-Sabe and Hannah Rappleye

This story was produced in partnership with the Global Reporting Centre.

MONACA, Pa. — Shell has agreed to pay $10 million to Pennsylvania for exceeding emissions limits during the troubled launch of its massive new plastics plant in Beaver County. The sum includes a nearly $5 million civil penalty and another $5 million to fund local environmental projects.

“With this agreement, the Department of Environmental Protection is taking steps to hold Shell accountable and protect Pennsylvanians’ constitutional right to clean air and water while encouraging innovation and economic development in the Commonwealth,” said acting Secretary Rich Negrín.

The “ethane cracker,” as the plant is called, is a 384-acre-wide industrial complex that heats ethane — a byproduct of fracking in the region — and “cracks” it under high pressure into ethylene to produce polyethylene pellets, a building block for plastic.


The enforcement action comes three weeks after NBC News and the Global Reporting Centre first started asking Shell and DEP questions about the plant, and not long after environmental advocacy groups sued Shell over its excess emissions. The agency’s consent order details a range of violations. In addition to repeatedly breaching emissions limits for VOCs, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide and “hazardous air pollutants” — otherwise known as air toxics — DEP cited a slew of malfunctions at the plant dating back to June 2022.


Inside the Florida nonprofit pushing to slash food stamp rolls nationwide

NBC News

By J.J. McCorvey

“We’ve been hiding in plain sight all along,” Tarren Bragdon said of his 12-year-old nonprofit, the Foundation for Government Accountability.

The Naples, Florida-based think tank has been publicly cheerleading GOP efforts to tighten work requirements for food stamps and Medicaid as part of high-wire debt ceiling talks in Washington. But without the clout or funding of major conservative K Street institutions that also support shrinking the federal safety net, the FGA has largely pursued a state-level strategy that has been quietly racking up wins.

As a result, low-income Americans in many states face narrowing access to key benefits programs, regardless of whether the curbs House Republicans passed in their debt ceiling bill last month wind up in a final deal with Democrats and the White House.

In recent interviews, half a dozen hunger relief groups across the country named the FGA as their top adversary in an escalating policy fight over safety net benefits, citing the group more frequently than any other. One aid organization feared drawing attention to its efforts, worried about triggering an FGA lobbying blitz to curb food stamp payments in its home state.



We need a little weirdness

A little weirdness for you

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