This one cartoon captures the crisis in the Mediterranean we’re all ignoring

Every year, thousands of people drown while attempting to migrate across the Mediterranean Sea into Europe. In the most recent tragedy, hundreds died Saturday when a 70-foot boat carrying as many as 700 people capsized in Libyan waters. Just days before, nearly 400 drowned in a similar incident. And Europe is actively turning a blind eye.

Short-eared owl
Asio flammeus

Short-eared owls migrate back to Finland in March-April, although they occasionally spend the winter in Finland. The breeding population is estimated to be 2000-10,000 pairs with highest densities in Ostrobothnia

photo by Mika Rantaharju

The European Union plans to use military force to curb the influx of migrants from Libya. According to leaked details, the E.U. will destroy boats used for transporting migrants and refugees on Libyan territory, thereby preventing them from reaching Europe. “They are intending to at least risk killing people in blowing up these boats,” says Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. Watch our exclusive interview with Assange on Democracy Now! today.

The Vikings Sacrificed to the Gods in Rivers and Lakes

A doctoral dissertation from 2009 shows that the Vikings sacrificed valuable and beautiful objects to the Norse gods and their forefathers at bridges and fjords because they believed they were the boundary between the living and the deceased.

The thesis by Julie Lund, Lecturer at the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History at the University of Oslo – offers an insight into sacrificial customs of the Viking Age lasting from year 793 – 1066 AD.

Previously it was believed that this type of sacrifices came to an end in the Migration Period around year 500, but it turns out that the tradition continued into the Viking Age.

Bridges and Fjords

The Vikings used special places in the landscape for these rituals. Bridges and fjords were particularly important because they served as a boundary between the living and the deceased. Viking settlements and burial sites were almost always close to water or connected by a bridge.

Lund examined the findings from about thirty sacrificial sites in Scandinavia, from the River Thames in Southern England and the River Shannon in Ireland. Places that came under Scandinavian influence in the Viking Age. Many of the sacrifices or ritual closures took place at bridges.

Many of the sacrificial sites were named after Norse gods, such as Tissø in Denmark, i.e. Tyr’s lake – the god of war and the one who decided who won battles.

An important discovery is that these special places often are highlighted in Norse sources as central to how people perceived the world.

Keep reading

Humans may have migrated out of Africa in phases based on the weather

Considerable debate surrounds the migration of human populations out of Africa. Two predominant hypotheses concerning the timing contrast in their emphasis on the role of the Arabian interior and its changing climate. In one scenario, human populations expanded rapidly from Africa to southern Asia via the coastlines of Arabia approx. 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. Another model suggests that dispersal into the Arabian interior began much earlier (approx. 75,000 to 130,000 years ago) during multiple phases, when increased rainfall provided sufficient freshwater to support expanding populations.

Ash Parton and colleagues fall into the second camp, “The dispersal of early human populations out of Africa is dynamically linked with the changing climate and environmental conditions of Arabia. Although now arid, at times the vast Arabian deserts were transformed into landscapes littered with freshwater lakes and active river systems. Read more.

Pictured is a Hermit thrush, a migratory bird that has be been spotted during recent Museum bird walks in New York’s Central Park. John Burroughs, a celebrated nature writer, wrote the following poem about the Hermit thrush in December of 1900. 

In the primal forest’s hush

Listen! … the hermit thrush!

Now he winds his silver horn,

While the dew is on the morn.

Voicing in its lucid tones

All the grey old forest owns.

Voicing joy in summer days, 

And solitude in leafy ways,

Voicing love where none molest

And minstrels pride in mate and nest. 

Or, pausing in the twilight dim,

Hear him lift his evening hymn,

Hear it ring from mountain crest

Pulsing out from speckled breast. 

Learn more about John Burroughs.