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Just what the year 2020 needs: Locusts

 Crises from all over the world seemed to be competing to grab the headlines in January: Australia’s devastating bushfires, the impeachment trial in America, Brexit finally becoming reality, and the coronavirus outbreak in China. But Africa, often starved for attention, has a growing crisis of its own: a swarm of locusts, already the largest in []

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Why scientists think they have identified the remains of Vesuvius victim Pliny the Elder

 In the year 1900 Italian civil engineer Gennaro Matrone uncovered a cluster of bodies (73 eventually recovered) under volcanic rubble near the mouth of the Sarno River which flows from Mt. Vesuvius down to the Bay of Naples. This was only a few kilometers from Pompeii and Herculaneum, the twin towns famously buried in lava []

From Nobel Peace Prize winner to genocide enabler?

 The town of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh was once a popular trading post, named for Captain Hiram Cox of the East India Company in the early days of the British Raj, sited on a coast which boasts the longest stretch of sandy beach on the planet. The district was a violently contested no man’s land []

Iconic sequoia dies 500 years before it should in another sign of the climate apocalypse

[California’s majestic sequoias are dying early]

“Lazarus” is the name given to an iconic specimen of giant sequoia, in the Giant Forest located in Sequoia National Park. These magnificent trees can reach 300 feet (90 meters) during a lifespan that can exceed 3,000 years, and are famously resistant to droughts and fires. Lazarus,more than 2,000 years []

Peruvian idol surprisingly turns out to have escaped conquistador destruction

 In 1533 Hernando Pizarro completed his conquest of Peru, and destroyed many symbols of the Inca Empire’s royal dynasty and religion. He ordered that the people break open the vault containing the giant wooden statue of Pacha Kamaq (“Earth Maker”), father of the popular goddess Pacha Mama (“Earth Mother”), and destroy its idol, which the []

‘Baby Jesus’ finds the way home to Bethlehem after 40 years

 A library book due in 1980 was returned a couple of weeks []

Stone age monument defaced with ‘alien’ figures by unidentified vandals

 In the second week of January, Cheryl Straffon of the Cornish Ancient Sites Protection Network (CASPN) announced that the megalithic structure Mulfra Quoit had been marred by graffiti, which should wash off, but will require professional restorers to work carefully, as this is a registered historic site. []

A curious case of missing stars recalls an ancient mystery about the brightest star of all

 A team of astronomers has been comparing sky surveys done decades apart and keeps finding examples of stars that have seemingly []

Handcuffed for trying to open a bank account while indigenous

[Maxwell Johnson, photo: CBC/Jeff Houstey]

Maxwell Johnson is a member of the Heiltsuk nation on the central coast of British Columbia. From time immemorial the Heiltsuk have set up frames containing kelp fronds in the sea, to attract herring to lay their eggs there, and they relish this caviar-like delicacy. []

Mormon church sitting on $100 billion in reserves against tax law, says ex-employee

 Fascinating report in the Washington Post today about the Mormon church having much more money than anyone seems to have []