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Walrus shortage led to medieval Norse collapse: study

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Greenland’s medieval Norse society vanished from the Earth in the 15th Century after they hunted walrus populations to near extinction, researchers said Monday in a possible explanation for the mysterious disappearance.

Norse communities thrived for more than 400 years in the Arctic, hunting walruses for their tusks, a valuable medieval commodity.

But a mixture of overexploitation and economic pressure from a flood of elephant ivory into European markets in the 13th Century contributed to their downfall, according to a new study.

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A team of researchers from the universities of Cambridge, Oslo and Trondheim examined pre-1400s walrus tusk artefacts from across Europe and found that almost all of them came from walruses hunted in seas only accessible to Greenland Norse communities.

They also found that later items were hunted from smaller animals — likely females and infants — signalling that stocks were rapidly dwindling.

“Norse Greenlanders needed to trade with Europe for iron and timber, and mainly had walrus products to export in exchange,” said James Barrett, from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Archaeology.

“Norse hunters were forced to venture deeper into the Arctic Circle for increasingly meagre ivory harvests.”

As the walrus populations declined, so did the Norse communities.

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Authors of the study, published in the Quarternary Science Reviews journal, said there were likely other factors that contributed to the eventual disappearance of Norse Greenlanders.

These include climate change as the northern hemisphere underwent a “Little Ice Age”, and unsustainable farming techniques.

“If both the population and price of walrus started to tumble, it must have badly undermined the resilience of the settlements,” said Bastiaan Star of the University of Oslo.

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“Our study suggests the writing was on the wall.”


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Buffalo has a long history of protecting cops from criminal charges: report

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On Saturday, The Daily Beast documented the recent history of use of force in the Buffalo Police Department, which is reeling from controversy as two officers face assault charges for shoving a 75-year-old protester to the ground.

"As shocking as this all may be to outsiders, the shoving of demonstrator Martin Gugino and the defiant response of officers to an effort to discipline two of their own is indicative of the state of police affairs in Buffalo," wrote Jim Heaney. "Has been for a long time, not that you have to go back too far to find other episodes of brutality that have been captured on video."

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Internet disgusted after Buffalo first responders cheer cops charged with assaulting 75-year-old protester

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Commenters on Twitter expressed both contempt and disgust for Buffalo firefighters and police officers who turned out in front of Buffalo City Court to support two suspended police officers with applause and cheering.

Moments after officers Aaron Torglaski and Robert McCabe were charged with second-degree assault and then released without having to post bail, they were greeted as heroes outside the courthouse.

After a video was posted showing the celebration, commenters on Twitter vented at cops and firefighters for defending the two officers who assaulted the 75-year-old man who had to be rushed to a hospital after they shoved him to the ground where he sustained a head injury.

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Donald Trump’s lurch toward fascism is backfiring spectacularly

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

During the 2016 campaign, as Donald Trump railed against "Mexican rapists" and other "criminal aliens," pollsters found that the share of Americans who said that immigrants worked hard and made a positive contribution to our society increased significantly, and noticed a similar decline in the share who said they take citizens' jobs and burden our social safety net. After Trump was elected and began pursuing his Muslim ban, the share of respondents who held a positive view of Islam also increased pretty dramatically. I'm not aware of any polling of the general public about transgender troops serving in the military before Trump decided to discharge them, but Gallup found that 71 percent of respondents opposed his position after he did.

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