The CIA told apartheid South Africa coppers where to find and arrest Nelson Mandela in 1962

Nelson Mandela’s arrest in 1962 came as a result of a tip-off from an agent of the US Central Intelligence Agency…

The revelations, made in the Sunday Times newspaper, are based on an interview with ex-CIA agent Donald Rickard shortly before he died.

Mandela served 27 years in jail for resisting white minority rule before being released in 1990.

He was subsequently elected as South Africa’s first black president…

Rumours have circulated for years that the CIA trailed Mandela but the agency resisted previous attempts to shine a light on its alleged involvement in his arrest. Rickard’s admission will bring renewed pressure to declassify documents from the time…

ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said: “That revelation confirms what we have always known, that they are working against [us], even today.

Mandela, president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, was on a US terror watch list until 2008.

Before that, along with other former ANC leaders, he was only able to visit the US with special permission from the secretary of state, because the ANC had been designated a terrorist organisation by the former apartheid government…

President Ronald Reagan had originally placed the ANC on the list in the 1980s.

It doesn’t take a 19th Century paranoid like Reagan to enforce and support racist global policies. You don’t even need one of the Dulles brothers working their dead butt off to aid failing colonial regimes. In case you don’t remember – or know enough history – the CIA was operating in 1962 under the guidance of a liberal Democrat, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

6 small cavers, 15 skeletons, and 1 new species of ancient human

Lee Berger put his ad up on Facebook on October 7th, 2013. He needed diggers for an exciting expedition. They had to have experience in palaeontology or archaeology, and they had to be willing to drop everything and fly to South Africa within the month. “The catch is this—the person must be skinny and preferably small,” he wrote. “They must not be claustrophobic, they must be fit, they should have some caving experience, climbing experience would be a bonus.”

“I thought maybe there were three or four people in the world who would fit that criteria,” Berger recalls. “Within a few days, I had 60 applicants, all qualified. I picked six.” They were all women and all skinny—fortunately so, given what happened next. Berger, a palaeoanthropologist at the University of the Witwatersrand, sent them into the Rising Star Cave, and asked them to squeeze themselves through a long vertical chute, which narrowed to a gap just 18 centimeters wide.

That gap was all that separated them from the bones of a new species of ancient human, or hominin, which the team named Homo naledi after a local word for “star.” We don’t know when it lived, or how it was related to us. But we do know that it was a creature with a baffling mosaic of features, some of which were remarkably similar to modern humans, and others of which were more ape-like in character.

This we know because the six women who entered the cave excavated one of the richest collections of hominin fossils ever discovered—some 1,550 fossil fragments, belonging to at least 15 individual skeletons. To find one complete skeleton of a new hominin would be hitting the paleoanthropological jackpot. To find 15, and perhaps more, is like nuking the jackpot from orbit.

RTFA. It is a delightful read. Science, adventure, perseverance.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Darwin Award candidate found on roof of building in Richmond, England


Click to enlargeJustin Tallis/AFP

A suspected stowaway has been found on the roof of a west London office building after plunging to his death from a British Airways flight.

The man is believed to have climbed on to the Boeing 747 before it flew more than 8,000 miles from Johannesburg in South Africa to Heathrow.

The victim fell on to the offices of the online marketplace Notonthehighstreet.com on a busy road below the flight path in Richmond, south-west London, on Thursday morning. Flight data reveals the plane would have been at an altitude of around 1,400ft when it passed over the area.

A second man, understood to be 24 years old, survived the journey and is in a serious condition in hospital. He is believed to have been found unconscious in the undercarriage of the plane at Heathrow before the other man’s body was discovered…

There was sympathy, too, from Hadt Khoshkbar, who runs a printing business next door to the Notonthehighstreet.com offices, recounting how he had come to the UK from Iran in 1976.

This is at least the third time that bodies have fallen from aircraft in this area. The other one I can remember was in Mortlake,” he said…

Colin Naidoo, a spokesman for Airports Company South Africa, which manages Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport, said authorities were still investigating how the stowaways made it past security…

There have been previous cases of stowaways plunging to their deaths in west London after smuggling themselves on to planes. They hide in the landing gear where they are exposed to the elements and endure sub-zero temperatures. Most are killed by the cold and lack of oxygen at high altitude.

Someone tells somebody else about this great idea about how to get to England or wherever dream jobs supposedly exist. And another someone who doesn’t know better tries it. And dies.

BRICS nations found bank to rival Western-dominated World Bank and IMF

The so-called BRICS countries agreed to form an international development bank with aspirations to challenge the dominance of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa said Tuesday that the New Development Bank will start with $50 billion in capital and $100 billion as a currency reserve fund for liquidity crises…

Still, the BRICS bank, which could add more member nations, represents a bid to expand the influence of the BRICS emerging markets and act as a counterbalance to institutions run by the U.S. and other developed nations…

As developing countries began playing a larger role in the world economy, their leaders repeatedly complained that they have not been given correspondingly larger voices in international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF, both based in Washington. The U.S. typically appoints the World Bank president, and European countries appoint the IMF chief.

“International governance structures designed within a different power configuration show increasingly evident signs of losing legitimacy and effectiveness,” said the official statement signed by the BRICS leaders, who met in Fortaleza, Brazil, on Tuesday. “We believe the BRICS are an important force for incremental change and reform of current institutions toward more representative and equitable governance.”

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma hammered out some of the final details before signing the agreement Tuesday.

Among the terms are that the bank will be in Shanghai, its first president will be from India, and the first chair of the board of directors will be from Brazil…

Analysts expect that other countries – like Indonesia, Mexico or Turkey – will join the bank over time. Certainly, they and their neighbors have no shortage of conflicts with restrictions important to the fiscal bears directing the IMF or the World Bank.

I doubt anyone expects either of the banks under the thumb of the US [and to a lesser extent, the EU] to modernize, to actively support the developing nations in any goal beyond being a source of cheap labor, raw materials, for Western corporations.

African study on biodiversity in GM maize finds insects abundant


nature/Fotolia

Previous studies from China, Spain, and the United States on genetically modified (GM) rice, cotton, and maize have concluded that the biodiversity of insects and related arthropods in GM crop fields was essentially the same as that among conventional crops. Now a new study from South Africa shows similar results…

“The aims of the study were to compile a checklist of arthropods that occur on maize in South Africa and to compare the diversity and abundance of arthropods and functional groups on Bt maize and non-Bt maize,” the authors wrote. “Results from this short-term study indicated that abundance and diversity of arthropods in maize and the different functional guilds were not significantly affected by Bt maize, either in terms of diversity or abundance…”

“The results of our study indicate that arthropod diversity, even in high-input farming systems, is as high as in subsistence farming systems” said Dr. Johnnie van den Berg, a professor at North-West University and one of the co-authors of the article. “More recently, surveys of arthropod and plant beta-diversity inside and adjacent to maize fields have been completed during which 30,000 arthropods and 15,000 plant individuals were surveyed along a 1,000 kilometer transect. It seems that maize field diversity is homogenized and field margins had a high beta diversity,” he added.

Oh, the heartbreak for folks convinced this shouldn’t be so.

The sad bit is folks who try to cloak their Luddite predilection end up practicing something akin to creationist “science”. They first determine the result they seek – then, try to distort scientific study to suit that belief.

Needless to say, they rarely show up to challenge peer-reviewed work with competing studies. Anymore than the True Believers who latch onto these fears are likely to read the peer-reviewed studies in the first place.

Jesse Jackson: Mandela beat apartheid by choosing reconciliation

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said former South African President Nelson Mandela beat apartheid by choosing reconciliation over revenge.

Mandela, 95, died Thursday after a lengthy battle with a recurring lung infection. He was imprisoned for 28 years for plotting to overthrow South Africa’s apartheid government, and was elected president in 1994.

In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Jackson said Mandela was successful in his fight against apartheid because he wasn’t motivated by revenge.

“Well, he was shaped by persecution and internal will and dignity and … he did not internalize the system. And to that extent, he was gracious because of victory. He won the battle over skin color apartheid and political right to vote and legal apartheid and international world opinion after he had a choice at that point to choose revenge or reconciliation. He chose reconciliation as a victor over that system,” Jackson said.

“Because at that moment … if he had chosen revenge, then you would have had a bloodshed. He chose to go forth by a kind of hope and not by fear. Those are choices the man made,” he added.

Mandela was a stellar example of the winner in a fight for freedom rejecting revenge. Now, try to communicate the value of that ethic to American neo-Confederates, the losers in our civil war to preserve the union and end slavery – who are still trying to exact revenge for that loss.

Search for crocodiles freed in southern Africa floods continues

As many as 10,000 farmed crocodiles are still on the loose in the Limpopo river between Botswana and South Africa, following the worst floods in more than a decade.

Surging waters forced the owners of the farm where some 15,000 of the animals are kept to open flood gates to stop the crocodiles being crushed.

The farmers say the hunt for the escaped crocodiles is continuing each night, and they have urged locals who spot any not to try to capture them without help.

I can’t keep a straight face. The BBC weather dude reminds me of no one more than Eric Idle.

Murder suspect arrested with victim’s penis in his wallet – WTF?


Is that your nephew’s penis in your wallet or are you glad to see me?

South African police have arrested a 42-year-old man found carrying human genitalia in his wallet, four days after his nephew went missing in the south of the country…

Suspecting the man had a hand in the disappearance of his 18-year-old nephew, police…interrogated him until he led them to a spot in the small town of Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape province.

“We found that the hands, the head and legs were cut off from the body and we then recovered the private parts in his wallet,” Mzukisi Fatyela, police spokesman for the Eastern Cape Province, told AFP.

He refused to disclose the wallet size nor the state of the human parts, but said the man will face murder charges.

I was wondering about the size of his wallet, too.

Archbishop Tutu refuses to share a platform with Tony Blair

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has pulled out of an event because he refuses to share a platform with Tony Blair.

The veteran peace campaigner said Mr Blair’s support for the Iraq war was “morally indefensible” and it would be “inappropriate” for him to appear alongside him.

The pair were due to take part in a one-day leadership summit in Johannesburg, South Africa…

In a statement, Dr Tutu’s Office said: “Ultimately, the archbishop is of the view that Mr Blair’s decision to support the United States’ military invasion of Iraq, on the basis of unproven allegations of the existence in Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, was morally indefensible.

“The Discovery Invest Leadership Summit has leadership as its theme. Morality and leadership are indivisible.

“In this context, it would be inappropriate and untenable for the archbishop to share a platform with Mr Blair…”

Tony Blair’s office responded by saying – blah, blah, blah…

Desmond Tutu reminds all of us that there have always been leaders whose religious standards care most of all about fighting for peace and freedom. A special contradiction this week as we get to witness Cardinal Dolan making a special appearance at the Republican Convention to emphasize their shared ideology on the repression of women, willingness to deny civil rights to folks in the LGBT community. No doubt he wouldn’t have the least problem sharing the stage with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Kudos to the Archbishop with a heart and conscience.

Near-complete human ancestor in an ignored fossil rock


Click on image to enlarge

South African scientists say they’ve discovered the most complete skeleton ever of an early human ancestor – in a rock that had lain unnoticed in a lab for years.

It was only when a technician noticed a tooth protuding from the stone last month that an investigation revealed significant parts of Australopithecus sediba, discovered in 2009 at the Malapa site in South Africa, and identified as a new hominin in 2010.

The new additions to the original find make the skeleton – dubbed Karabo – astonishingly complete. Once the remains, encased in a rock about one metre across, were noticed, they were examined with a CT scanner.

“We have discovered parts of a jaw and critical aspects of the body including what appear to be a complete femur (thigh bone), ribs, vertebrae and other important limb elements, some never before seen in such completeness in the human fossil record,” says Professor Lee Berger of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

This discovery will almost certainly make Karabo the most complete early human ancestor skeleton ever discovered. We are obviously quite excited as it appears that we now have some of the most critical and complete remains of the skeleton, albeit encased in solid rock. It’s a big day for us as a team and for our field as a whole.”

The university now plans to build a lab at the site where the public can observe archaeology in action…

Bravo!