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Viking runestone linked to fears of climate change: study

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One of the world’s most famous runestones is now believed to have been erected by Vikings fearing a repeat of a previous cold climate crisis in Scandinavia, a new study said Wednesday.

The Rok stone, raised in the ninth century near the lake Vattern in south central Sweden, bears the longest runic inscription in the world with more than 700 runes covering its five sides.

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It is believed to have been erected as a memorial to a dead son, but the exact meaning of the text has remained elusive, as parts are missing and it contains different writing forms.

The stone refers to the heroic acts of “Theodoric,” which some scholars believe refers to Theodoric the Great, a sixth century ruler of the Ostrogoths in what is now Italy.

Researchers at three Swedish universities now suspect the inscriptions are more of an allusion to an impending period of extreme winter, as the person who erected the stone tried to put their child’s death into a larger perspective.

“The inscription deals with an anxiety triggered by a son’s death and the fear of a new climate crisis similar to the catastrophic one after 536 CE,” the authors wrote.

The sixth century crisis is believed to have been caused by a series of volcanic eruptions which dramatically influenced climate with lower average temperatures, ruined crops and ensuing hunger and mass extinctions.

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It has been estimated that as a result the population of the Scandinavian peninsula decreased by at least 50 percent, and the researchers point out that the memory of those events may have been passed down and even influenced the mythology.

– ‘Extremely ominous’ –

The new interpretation is based on a collaborative approach between researchers from several disciplines, including philology, archaeology and the history of religion.

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Passages from the stone suggest the text refers to battles over a hundred years.

But the researchers suggest it could be speaking of a different kind of battle: “The conflict between light and darkness, warmth and cold, life and death.”

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They also take into account a number of events in the author of the text’s lifetime, which could “have seemed extremely ominous.”

“A powerful solar storm coloured the sky in dramatic shades of red, crop yields suffered from an extremely cold summer, and later a solar eclipse occurred just after sunrise,” said Bo Graslund, professor in archaeology at Uppsala University.

“Even one of these events would have been enough to raise fears of another Fimbulwinter,” Graslund added referring to a winter lasting three years in Norse mythology, a sign of the coming of Ragnarok.

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2020 Election

If Democrats fight right-wing ‘fake news’ fire with fire, we all lose

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Democrats are increasingly worried about losing the 2020 presidential election to Donald Trump. The party is in seeming disarray from the botched Iowa caucuses and the failure of an "electable" frontrunner to emerge early in the primary season. Trump's fundraising and digital operations are humming, buoyed in part by his acquittal at the Senate trial which refused to remove him from office for soliciting foreign interference in the 2020 elections and obstructing the House's investigation of it.

This article first appeared in Salon.

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Activism

Nevada GOP activist reveals how he ‘caucused for Bernie’ to help Trump win: ‘It would be a dream election’

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Conservative activist Chuck Muth said that he temporarily switched parties to vote for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the Nevada caucuses.

Muth, who spoke to the Las Vegas Journal-Review while wearing a red Keep America Great hat, explained that he had crossed over to “vote for the weakest candidate possible of the Democrats.”

“It was kind of a way of demonstrating how absurd I think it is to have same-day registration as well as early voting for a caucus,” Muth explained. “So my wife and I last Sunday went to an early voting site, we changed parties right there on the spot. We caucused for Bernie.”

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Soledad O’Brien shames 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice’ hockey team for photo-op with Trump while wearing MAGA hats

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In an early Sunday morning tweet, award-winning journalist Soledad O'Brien expressed her dismay with members of the 1980 Gold Medal-winning Olympic hockey team for celebrating their historic win over the then-Soviet Union -- dubbed the "Miracle on Ice" -- with Donald Trump while wearing "Make America Great Again" hats.

According to O'Brien, seeing them hand Trump a photo-op filled her with "disappointment."

Taking to Twitter, she wrote, " Ugh.... so disappointed by the @1980MiracleTeam . I loved watching that game as a kid with my dad. Loved watching the movie with my kids. To see them on a stage, in maga hats—kinda crushing I have to say."

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