AP Photos: In Brazil’s Amazon, worship with psychedelic tea

  • In this June 22, 2016 photo, a boatman gets ready to cross the Purus river near the city of Boca do Acre, Amazonas state, Brazil. The Purus river provides the main access to the community of Ceu do Mapia in a trip of more than four hours deep in the Amazon jungle of western Brazil. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

    In this June 22, 2016 photo, a boatman gets ready to cross the Purus river near the city of Boca do Acre, Amazonas state, Brazil. The Purus river provides the main access to the community of Ceu do Mapia in a trip of more than four hours deep in the Amazon jungle of western Brazil. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres) (The Associated Press)

Canoes slide through a narrow river, dodging branches and trees for more than four hours to reach a tiny village deep in the Amazon jungle of western Brazil.

The community’s culture revolves around an ancient psychedelic tea locals know as the Holy Daime. The Ayahuasca brew is sacred to Ceu do Mapia villagers, who use it in rituals that blend Indian beliefs with Roman Catholicism.

The Cult of the Holy Daime was started in 1930 by a descendant of slaves. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that rubber tapper Sebastiao Mota de Melo, nicknamed Godfather Sebastiao, took hundreds of followers deeper into the forest to create a new village that would live by the doctrine of the Ayahuasca tea. People here believe the drink heals the body and expands the mind.

“There was nothing here. We had this cleansing ceremony with a candle and we built a house for everyone, for all the people who arrived first. We were all family,” said Rita Gregorio de Melo, wife of Sebastiao and the village’s matriarch.

Melo died in 1990, but his wife, who is now 91, still heads the sect with her two sons.

Brewing the sacramental tea is a ritual in itself. Men chant to a steady rhythm, banging mallets on jungle vines called Jagube. In a giant pot, a man cooks the juice that comes out of the hammered vines and mixes it with a plant with hallucinogenic properties named Psychotria viridis.

The tea is used several times during religious ceremonies, but otherwise not usually more than weekly. While the hallucinogenic effects are usually moderate, drinkers say it helps facilitate spiritual connections.

On a recent evening, villagers gathered for a celebration. Women wore shiny white crowns on their heads, green sashes over their shoulders and green belts around their waists.

At the church, Alfredo Gregorio de Melo, son of the village founder and spiritual leader of Holy Daime, lit candles on a table shaped like the Star of David. Men and women lined up in two separate rows to drink the tea after making the sign of the cross. They then sang together prayers and psalms in a large circle.

“The Daime is everything to me. It saved me from death,” said Luiz Lopes de Freitas, a village man. “I found a world that heals and teaches faith.”

Eric Shawn Reports: How Frank Sheeran killed Jimmy Hoffa

NOW PLAYINGEric Shawn Reports: Jimmy Hoffa and Frank Sheeran

It all started, and ended, on this day 41 years ago.

It was a hot July afternoon, nearly 92 degrees, when Teamsters president and labor icon Jimmy Hoffa is said to have opened the rear door of a maroon 1975 Mercury in the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. and climbed in.

He was never seen again.

The FBI has expended countless resources in the ensuing decades in the hopes of finally solving this enduring American mystery with no success.

But I believe, based on my 2004 investigation, that Frank Sheeran did it.

“Suspects Outside of Michigan: Francis Joseph “Frank” Sheeran, age 43, president local 326, Wilmington, Delaware. Resides in Philadelphia and is known associate of Russel Bufalino, La Cosa Nostra Chief, Eastern Pennsylvania,” reads the 1976 HOFFEX memo, the compilation of everything investigators knew about Hoffa’s disappearance that was prepared for a high level, secret conference at FBI headquarters six months after he vanished.

Sheeran, known as “The Irishman,” told me that he drove with Hoffa to a nearby house where he shot him twice in the back of the head. Our investigation subsequently yielded the corroboration, the suspected blood evidence on the hardwood floor and down the hallway of that house, that supports Frank’s story.

No one who has ever boasted about knowing what really happened to Jimmy Hoffa has had their claims tested, scrutinized, and then corroborated by independently discovered evidence … except Frank.

He is also the only one of the FBI’s dozen suspects who has ever come forward and talked publicly about the killing, let alone admitted involvement.

Every other claim that you have ever heard about, from Hoffa being buried in the end zone of Giants Stadium to being entombed under a strip of highway asphalt somewhere, came from people who were never on the bureau’s list of people suspected of actual involvement.

For that reason, Frank stands alone.

Six weeks after Hoffa disappeared, Frank, along with the other suspects, was summoned before the Detroit grand jury investigating the case. He took the Fifth.

When I met him in the spring of 2001, Frank freely talked.

My meeting with Frank was arranged so that I could take his measure, and he mine, for a possible in-depth investigation, interview and news story about his claims. He was accompanied by his former lawyer Charlie Brandt, the author of Frank’s then-proposed biography, which tells the Hoffa story. Charlie had been able to spring Frank from a Mafia-related federal racketeering prison sentence, and for that reason was taken into Frank’s confidence.

It would be three years before the book, “I Hear You Paint Houses: Frank ‘The Irishman’ Sheeran And Closing The Case On Jimmy Hoffa” would be published by Steerforth Press, and before the first of my many news stories about Frank, and our investigation, would air on television.

Frank’s story is this: He and others were ordered by the Mafia to kill Hoffa to prevent him from trying to run again for the presidency of the Teamsters union. Hoffa had resigned after serving prison time for jury tampering, attempted bribery and fraud convictions. Frank picked Hoffa up at the restaurant, accompanied by two others, to supposedly drive Hoffa to a mob meeting. When they walked into the empty house together, with Frank a step behind Hoffa, he raised his pistol at point-blank range and fired two fatal shots into his unsuspecting target, turned around and left. He said Hoffa’s body was then dragged down the hall by two awaiting accomplices, and that he was later told Hoffa was cremated at a mob-connected funeral home.

Frank had an imposing, old-school mobster way about him that even his advanced years — he was 80 at the time of our first meeting — did not betray. His menacing aura was also not diminished by a severe case of arthritis that crippled him so badly that he hunched over when he slowly walked with two canes, struggling to put one foot in front of the other.

I found Frank tough, determined, steely.

As I listened to his matter-of-fact recounting of what he said went down at that house, and giving such detail, I remember thinking what he was saying could actually be true.

Here’s why:

There is no doubt that Frank was a close confidant of Hoffa, someone who Hoffa trusted. And Hoffa didn’t trust very many people.

Frank was both a top Teamsters Union official in Delaware and an admitted Bufalino crime family hit-man, a top aide to the boss himself.

The FBI admits that Frank was “known to be in Detroit area at the time of JRH disappearance, and considered to be a close friend of JRH,” as the HOFFEX memo states.

Hoffa’s son, current Teamsters President James P. Hoffa, told me in September 2001 that his father would have gotten into the car with Frank. He said that his father would not have taken that ride with some of the other FBI suspects whom I mentioned.

In the book, Frank says that he sat in the front passenger seat of the car as a subtle warning to Hoffa, who habitually sat there. He felt a deep friendship and loyalty to Hoffa, yet knew what his own fate would be if he failed to carry out the lethal order from his mob masters. So he sat in the front seat hoping Hoffa would realize something was wrong. Hoffa did not.

The FBI did find “a single three-inch brown hair…in the rear seat back rest” of that car that matched Hoffa, and three dogs picked up “a strong indication of JRH scents in the rear right seat.”

I asked Frank if he remembered how to get to the house where he said he killed Hoffa. I thought finding where Hoffa was shot, and investigating everything about the house, could be key to the case. Frank rattled off the driving directions from the restaurant and described the house’s interior layout.

Killers may not remember an exact address of a murder scene, but they never forget how they got there and what they did when they arrived.

“Sheeran gave us the directions,” Charlie wrote in the book. “This was the first time he had ever revealed the directions to me. His deepened voice and hard demeanor was chilling, when, for the first time ever, he stated publicly to someone other than me that he had shot Jimmy Hoffa.”

A year after our meeting, Charlie and Frank drove to Detroit to try to find the house, and when they did Frank pointed it out to Charlie. They did not go inside.

Three years later, in 2004, Charlie, Fox News producer Ed Barnes and I first set foot into the home’s foyer, looked around the first floor and saw that Frank’s description fit the interior to a tee.

Ed and I arranged with the homeowners to take up the floorboards in the foyer and hallway and remove the press-on vinyl floor tiles that they had put down over the original hardwood floors when they bought the house in 1989.

We hired a forensic team of retired Michigan state police investigators to try to find any blood evidence. They sprayed the chemical luminol on the floors, which homicide detectives routinely use to discover the presence of blood.

We found it.

The testing revealed a specific pattern of blood evidence, laid out like a map of clues to the nation’s most infamous unsolved murder. Little yellow numbered tags were placed throughout the first floor foyer and hallway, to mark each spot where the investigators’ testing yielded positive hits.

The pattern told the story of how Hoffa was killed.

The greatest amount of positive hits were found right next to the front door, where Hoffa’s bleeding head would have hit the floor.

Seven more tags lined the narrow hallway toward the rear kitchen, marking the drops that perfectly mimic Frank’s story of Hoffa’s lifeless body being dragged to the kitchen by the two waiting accomplices, who then stuffed it into a body bag and carried it out the back kitchen door.

We arranged for the Oakland County prosecutor’s office to remove the floorboards for DNA testing by the FBI, though Oakland County Prosecutor David Gorcyca cautioned that it would be “a miracle” if Hoffa’s DNA was recovered.

I knew those odds. A DNA hit was beyond a long shot.

Experts told me that such tiny samples of genetic material, degraded by the passage of 29 years and exposure to air and the elements under a homeowner’s heavily trafficked floor, would likely not provide enough material to result in a DNA match.

The FBI lab report says that chemical tests were conducted on 50 specimens; 28 tested positive for the possible presence of blood, and DNA was only recovered from two samples.

The FBI compared what was recovered to the DNA from a known strand of Hoffa’s hair. One sample was found to be “of male origin,” but it was not determined from whom. The other result was “largely inconclusive.”

Was I disappointed that a DNA match was not possible? Yes. Was I surprised? No. Did I think this disproved Frank’s claim? No.

Think about it.

What are the chances of any random house in America testing positive for blood traces from more than two dozen samples, in the exact pattern that corroborates a man’s murder confession?

What would luminol reveal under your home’s floor?

There are other reasons to believe why Frank’s scenario fits.

The house was most likely empty on the day Hoffa died. It was built in the 1920’s and owned for five decades by a single woman, Martha Sellers, a teacher and department store employee. By the summer of 1975, Sellers was in her 80s, and not living there full time. Her family told The Detroit News and Free Press that she had bought another home in Plymouth, Mich., where she would move permanently the next year.

Frank says that a man he called “a real estater” lived in the house. The Sellers family remembered that boarder, who they recalled resided in an upstairs bedroom. He was described as “a shadowy figure…who would disappear. He never said more than a few words and they know nothing about him, not even his name.”

It is quite possible that “the real estater,” was the link between the house and the Detroit mob, providing an empty house as needed, when Sellers was absent, for whatever purpose — including using it as a Mafia hit house to murder Jimmy Hoffa.

The FBI clearly believed Sheeran had credibility. Agents visited him in his final years in an unsuccessful attempt to secure his cooperation.

While we were conducting our investigation in Detroit in 2004, the FBI, I was told, had tried to find the house even before we aired our story.

And the views of those closest to Jimmy Hoffa, his son and daughter, seem especially relevant when assessing Frank’s credibility.

Not only did James P. Hoffa confirm that his father would have driven off with Frank, but his sister, Hoffa’s daughter, Barbara Crancer, wrote Frank a poignant letter begging him to come clean about their father’s fate.

In the one-page handwritten note dated March 5, 1995, she wrote:

“It is my personal belief that there are many people who called themselves loyal friends who know what happened to James R. Hoffa, who did it and why. The fact that not one of them has ever told his family — even under a vow of secrecy, is painful to me…”

She then underlined: “I believe you are one of those people.”

Crancer confirmed to me that she wrote that letter.

Sadly for the Hoffa family, Frank never directly honored her request. When I sat with him, he said that his No. 1 priority was not to go back to “college,” meaning prison. He decided that the best way to avoid that possibility, while also revealing his story, was to share his secrets for the book and my reporting.

Frank died on Dec. 14, 2003. He was 83.

While authorities no doubt will continue to respond to more tips, as they should, I believe that we already know what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

Frank described the most precise and credible scenario yet to be recounted, and the evidence that we found in the house backs up his confession.

In the four decades since, Hoffa’s life and legacy as a pivotal part of the American labor movement has been overshadowed by his disappearance. But it seems clear that organized crime bosses did not want him to resume the mantle of the Teamsters presidency, and went to the ultimate length to prevent his return.

Today Hoffa’s union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, represents 1.4 million workers and continues to be headed by his son. Last year, a milestone was marked in its attempts to shed any specter of possible organized crime. Federal Judge Loretta Preska approved the Department of Justice and union agreement that will end the U.S. government oversight of the Teamsters that has lasted for more than 25 years.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said at the time that the union had made “significant progress” in “ridding … the influence of organized crime and corruption,” though he cautioned that “the threat … persists.”

Hoffa called it “an historic agreement … our union is committed to the democratic process, and we can proudly declare that corrupt elements have been driven from the Teamsters.”

Sadly, it was those corrupt elements that took the life of his father as he tried to take back his union.

“Jimmy Hoffa raised millions of workers and their families out of poverty and into the middle class,” noted the Teamsters Union in a statement to Fox News.

“He gave his life while fighting to remove corrupt elements from the union and return power to the members. This tragic anniversary is particularly difficult on his family who lost a father and grandfather much too soon. They want nothing more than to have the closure that they so deserve.”

Frank’s story will soon be told in a major motion picture, “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro as Frank, directed by Martin Scorsese and produced by Irwin Winkler. Tribeca Films, in association with Paramount Pictures, will bring this story to the big screen in 2018. Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel are also reported to also have roles, uniting the legendary actors of the mob movie genre in one film.

Follow Eric Shawn on Twitter @EricShawnTV

Eric Shawn is a New York-based anchor and senior correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He anchors “America’s News Headquarters” on Saturdays at 6 pm and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m to 5 p.m ET. and “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.” He anchors frequently during the week on the Fox News Channel and reports on politics, terrorism, and foreign affairs. Shawn has provided live coverage from both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions since 1992 and anchored convention coverage this summer. In 2004 he led the Fox News investigative team that uncovered new evidence in the murder of Jimmy Hoffa, based on the claims of hit-man Frank Sheeran.

Click here for more information on Eric Shawn.

DNA from ancient Phoenician stuns scientists

A wax figure of "The Young Phoenician Man of Carthage" is seen during the opening of a special exhibition at the American University of Beirut (AUB) Archaeological Museum in Beirut January 29, 2014. (REUTERS/Jamal Saidi)

A wax figure of “The Young Phoenician Man of Carthage” is seen during the opening of a special exhibition at the American University of Beirut (AUB) Archaeological Museum in Beirut January 29, 2014. (REUTERS/Jamal Saidi)

A study of the first DNA obtained from an ancient Phoenician reveals that the man had European ancestry.

The research team, which was co-led by Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith of the University of Otago in New Zealand, sequenced the first complete mitochondrial genome of 2,500-year-old Phoenician buried in North Africa. Experts studied a man dubbed the “Young Man of Byrsa” or “Ariche,” whose remains were taken from a sarcophagus in the ancient city of Carthage, just outside Tunis, the Tunisian capital. Carthage was the center of the Phoenician civilization.

Analysis shows that the man belonged to a rare European haplogroup – a genetic group with a common ancestor – indicating that his maternal ancestry is linked to locations on the North Mediterranean coast, probably on the Iberian Peninsula.

Related: Archaeologists think they’ve found Aristotle’s tomb

The findings offer the earliest evidence of the European mitochondrial haplogroup U5b2c1 in North Africa, according to Matisoo-Smith, dating its arrival to at least the late sixth century B.C.

“U5b2c1 is considered to be one of the most ancient haplogroups in Europe and is associated with hunter-gatherer populations there,” she explained, in a press release. “It is remarkably rare in modern populations today, found in Europe at levels of less than one per cent. Interestingly, our analysis showed that Ariche’s mitochondrial genetic make-up most closely matches that of the sequence of a particular modern day individual from Portugal.”

Researchers note that, while the Phoenicians are thought to have originated from the area that is now Lebanon, their influence spread across the Mediterranean and the Iberian Peninsula. The Spanish cities of Malaga and Cadiz, for example, were founded by Phoenicians.

Related: Scientists unearth 5,000-year-old Chinese beer recipe

Experts analyzed the mitochondrial DNA of 47 modern Lebanese people and found none were of the U5b2c1 lineage. U5b2c1 has already been found in two ancient hunter-gatherers recovered from an archaeological site north-Western spain, according to Matisoo-Smith.

“While a wave of farming peoples from the Near East replaced these hunter-gatherers, some of their lineages may have persisted longer in the far south of the Iberian peninsula and on off-shore islands and were then transported to the melting pot of Carthage in North Africa via Phoenician and Punic trade networks,” she said, in the press release.

The study was published in the journal Plos One.

Titanic artifacts reveal gruesome discovery of tragic ship’s last lifeboat

The Titanic lifeboat recovered by crewmembers from RMS Oceanic (Henry Aldridge & Son).

The Titanic lifeboat recovered by crewmembers from RMS Oceanic (Henry Aldridge & Son).

Photos and a handwritten note detailing the grisly discovery of Titanic’s last lifeboat will be auctioned in the U.K. later this week.

The three photos were taken on May 13, 1912, almost a month after Titanic’s sinking, and show crewmembers from RMS Oceanic attempting to recover one of the doomed liner’s lifeboats. Inside the lifeboat, thought to be the last to leave the sinking ship, were the decomposing bodies of three Titanic passengers.

One photo shows a boat from Oceanic being lowered, another shows the boat approaching the drifting lifeboat. A third picture shows Oceanic crewmembers on the Titanic lifeboat.

Related: First letter written onboard the Titanic up for sale

Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. ship’s time on April 14 1912 and sank just over two hours later with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

A handwritten account of the lifeboat recovery by an unidentified Oceanic passenger describes the gruesome discovery of three corpses. One corpse was wearing a dinner jacket and the bodies of two Titanic firemen were wedged under the lifeboat’s seats, it explained, adding that one corpse’s arms came off in the hands of the Oceanic’s boarding officer. A woman’s ring was also found on the lifeboat, according to the note.

“It’s an incredibly graphic account of the recovery,” Henry Aldridge & Son auctioneer Andrew Aldridge told FoxNews.com. “Titanic was ‘the ship of dreams’ but this is the ship of nightmares – it’s the horrific elements of what happens in a disaster.”

Related: Molly Brown’s Titanic cup sold at auction for $200,000

A number of Titanic passengers made it to the lifeboat, known as ‘Collapsible A’ when it washed off the ship’s deck, partly submerged, but not all survived. The bodies found by Oceanic were left on the lifeboat when Collapsible A’s survivors were picked by another lifeboat.

The corpse in the dinner jacket was identified as Titanic first class passenger Thomson Beattie. The wedding ring belonged to Swedish passenger Elin Gerda Lindell, who briefly reached Collapsible A, but later drowned, according to Encyclopedia Titanica. Her husband Edvard Bengtsson Lindell held Elin’s ring before he died on Collapsible A. His body was never recovered.

The photos and handwritten note are among a host of Titanic artifacts that will be sold at auction in Devizes, U.K. on April 23. The lot containing the photos, note and an Oceanic log abstract has a pre-sale estimate of between $2,879 and $4,318.

Related: Sextant used in rescue of Titanic survivors up
for sale

Other Titanic memorabilia up for auction include a rare ticket stub from the liner’s launch in Belfast 1911 and a photo of the drawing office where the ship was designed, showing a model of the ship. Both lots have pre-sale estimates of $8,636 to $14,393. The first letter written onboard the Titanic, penned just hours before the ship embarked on its doomed maiden voyage, will also be sold.

Last year a cup presented by Titanic survivor Molly Brown to the captain of rescue ship Carpathia sold for $200,000 in a major auction of Titanic memorabilia held by Henry Aldridge & Son. A photo purportedly showing the iceberg that sank the Titanic also sold for $32,000 in the auction.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

NOW PLAYINGA glimpse of Titanic history

Rare collection of Shakespeare plays turns up in Scottish mansion

 The First Folio was discovered in the collection of the Mount Stuart house, on Scotland's Isle of Bute.

The First Folio was discovered in the collection of the Mount Stuart house, on Scotland’s Isle of Bute. (Mount Stuart)

William Shakespeare’s First Folio —the Bard of Avon’s first collected edition of 38 plays, published in 1623, shortly after his death —is among the world’s rarest and most valued books. Without it, we might not have ever known “Macbeth.”

Now, a previously unknown copy has turned up in a Gothic mansion.

The folio was discovered in the collection of the Mount Stuart house, on Scotland’s Isle of Bute, and ithas been authenticated by Emma Smith, a professor of Shakespeare at the University of Oxford. [History’s 10 Most Overlooked Mysteries]

At the time of Shakespeare’s death, at age 52 in 1616, only about half of his plays had been published. They typically appeared in quartos, which were small stand-alone editions that could be printed cheaply. Then in 1623, John Heminges and Henry Condell —who were part of the King’s Men acting troupe —collected Shakespeare’s comedies, histories and tragedies for a large-format folio edition.

Had the First Folio never been published, more than half of Shakespeare’s plays might have been lost to history. “Julius Caesar,” “Twelfth Night,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and 15 other plays all appear in print for the first time in this collected edition.

The First Folio also includes as its frontispiece the Martin Droeshout portrait of Shakespeare, which is considered one of the rare reliable likenesses of the great playwright, as it was approved and published by his friends.

Scholars think that, at most, 750 copies of the First Folio were printed, according to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Of those, 234 are known to have survived, including the newly authenticated version. Slight differences in each copy are partly blamed on theproofingthat happened during printing. According to a statement from Mount Stuart, their version is unusual because it is bound in three volumes, with many pages left blank for illustrations, as well as for annotations and notes from its onetime owner Isaac Reed, who edited versions of Shakespeare’s works in the 18th century.

“This is an exciting discovery because we didn’t know it existed and it was owned by someone who edited Shakespeare in the 18th century,” Smith said in the statement.

Reedapparently bought his copy of the First Folio in 1786 and records suggest it was sold after Reed’s death in 1807 for a mere $54. Sometime after that, it ended up in Mount Stuart’s collection.

The last time a new copy of the First Folio was authenticated was in 2014, whenone of the books turned up at a public library near Calais in France.

When it comes to Shakespeare, authentication is crucial because forgeries and apocryphal works have been around for basically as long as Shakespeare. In the late 18th century, William Henry Ireland famously forged Shakespeare documents as well as a “lost play” called “Vortigern and Rowena,” which was revealed to be a hoax soon after it was performed and ridiculed by the audience.

As for faking Shakespeare documents today, it seems the incentive is pretty clear: The auction record for a First Folio was set in 2001, when the New York auction house Christie’s sold a copy for $6.16 million.

Ireland recalls fateful Easter Rising against British rule

  • Thousands of soldiers march through the streets of Dublin, Ireland, Sunday, March 27, 2016.  Thousands of soldiers marched solemnly Sunday through the crowded streets of Dublin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Ireland's Easter Rising against Britain, a fateful rebellion that reduced parts of the capital to ruins and inspired the country's eventual independence. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    Thousands of soldiers march through the streets of Dublin, Ireland, Sunday, March 27, 2016. Thousands of soldiers marched solemnly Sunday through the crowded streets of Dublin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising against Britain, a fateful rebellion that reduced parts of the capital to ruins and inspired the country’s eventual independence. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison) (The Associated Press)

  • Thousands of soldiers march through the streets of Dublin, Ireland, Sunday, March 27, 2016.  Thousands of soldiers marched solemnly Sunday through the crowded streets of Dublin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Ireland's Easter Rising against Britain, a fateful rebellion that reduced parts of the capital to ruins and inspired the country's eventual independence. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

    Thousands of soldiers march through the streets of Dublin, Ireland, Sunday, March 27, 2016. Thousands of soldiers marched solemnly Sunday through the crowded streets of Dublin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising against Britain, a fateful rebellion that reduced parts of the capital to ruins and inspired the country’s eventual independence. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison) (The Associated Press)

Thousands of soldiers marched solemnly Sunday through the crowded streets of Dublin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising against Britain, a fateful rebellion that reduced parts of the capital to ruins and fired the country’s flame of independence.

The Easter parade through Dublin featured military ceremonies at key buildings seized in 1916, when about 1,200 rebels sought to fuel a popular revolt against Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom.

The five-hour procession paused at noon outside the colonnaded General Post Office on O’Connell Street, the rebel headquarters a century ago, where commander Padraig Pearse formally launched the revolt by proclaiming to bemused Dubliners the creation of a “provisional” Republic of Ireland.

A soldier in today’s Irish Defence Forces, Capt. Peter Kelleher, stood in front of the restored post office Sunday to read the full, florid text of Pearse’s 1916 proclamation.

“In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom,” Kelleher said to an audience that included Ireland’s leaders and scores of grandchildren of the rebels.

Many donned their ancestors’ Easter Rising bronze service medals, which Ireland issued in 1941 on the rebellion’s 25th anniversary.

British forces, among them many Irishmen focused on fighting Germany in World War I, were caught off guard by the seizure of largely unguarded buildings in 1916. Most officers were attending horse races in the Irish countryside. But Britain quickly deployed army reinforcements who were cheered by some locals as they marched into Dublin. Artillery based at Trinity College and a gunboat on the River Liffey which bisects the city shelled the post office and other rebel strongholds, forcing their surrender within six days.

The fighting left nearly 500 dead, most of them civilians caught in the crossfire or shot — by both sides — as suspected looters. Some 126 British soldiers, 82 rebels and 17 police were slain.

Many Dubliners opposed the insurrection as an act of treason in time of war, but public sentiment swiftly swung in the rebels’ favor once a newly arrived British Army commander decided to execute Pearse and 14 other rebel leaders by firing squad in Dublin’s Kilmainham Jail.

A 16th figure, Roger Casement, who days before the Easter Rising was caught trying to smuggle German weapons by sea to Ireland, was hanged inside a London prison.

In the rebellion’s immediate wake, the poet W.B. Yeats reflected Ireland’s conflicted feelings about how violent nationalism appeared to be hastening Ireland’s journey to political freedom but at a debatable cost. His “Easter, 1916” poem, among the most quoted works in all of Irish literature, listed the names of executed Rising commanders and concluded that Ireland had “changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.”

Building where Bill of Rights was born partially demolished

A building where the Bill of Rights is believed to have been born was partially demolished.

A building where the Bill of Rights is believed to have been born was partially demolished. (Michael Bupp, The Sentinel)

It was a historic mistake.

A Pennsylvania building believed to be the birthplace of the Bill of Rights was partially demolished earlier this month because developers didn’t know the origin of the site, The Sentinel reported.

The building, originally known as the James Bell Tavern, hosted a meeting in 1788 of anti-Federalists opposed to the ratification of the new nation’s Constitution. The group began calling for changes to the document, and their plea was eventually heard when the Bill of Rights was adopted in 1791.

But while several documents from the original 1788 meeting are preserved, and the tavern was initially deemed qualified for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a formal designation wasn’t sought, PennLive reported.

“Whether intentional or by error in 1995, the Bell Tavern was not listed as an historic, protected building on the Township’s Cultural Features Map and Historic Buildings List referred to in our zoning ordinance,” a news release from Silver Spring Township officials said.

That decision proved costly.

The property’s owner, Triple Crown Corporation, obtained a permit from the Township for demolition of the two-story stone structure that most recently served as an auto sales store, according to The Sentinel.

But a member of the Township’s Conservation and Preservation Committee, Christine Musser, was alerted to the building’s significance by an “outside source” and worked to get the demolition put on hold.

“Triple Crown apparently had no clue of the building’s historical significance,” Musser told The Sentinel. “It was an oversight.”

available here

Samurai Secrets: 1888 martial arts manual for cops revealed

 There is no mention of handcuffs in the book. Instead it has an entire section devoted to rope tying techniques. Some of the rope techniques used on suspects are elaborate, as seen in this illustration.

There is no mention of handcuffs in the book. Instead it has an entire section devoted to rope tying techniques. Some of the rope techniques used on suspects are elaborate, as seen in this illustration. (Image from book, in public domain)

A newly translated 19th-century book, written by samurai, describes martial arts techniques designed to help police officers of the time. The highly guarded practices included how to tie suspects up using paper string and fighting techniques that allowed officers to defeat suspects without killing them.

The book, which contains illustrated instructions, was published in 1888, a time when the samurai class had lost many of its privileges and the formally secretive martial art schools that taught the samurai were willing to divulge their secrets.

This book drew on the expertise of 16 martial arts schools operating in Japan in 1888. “Each school revealed their inner secrets and demonstrated their expertise,” wrote Tetsutaro Hisatomi, the author of the book and a samurai himself. Those techniques deemed helpful to police officers were “incorporated into this volume which we have decided to call ‘Kenpo,’ or ‘Fisticuffs,'” wrote Hisatomi, according to the translation by Eric Shahan, who specializes in translating 19th- and 20th-century Japanese martial arts texts. [See Images from the ‘Illustrated Martial Arts Book]

At the beginning of the book, a samurai named Ohara Shigeya urges those who are studying to become police officers to use the techniques without causing unnecessary harm.

“Things granted to us by heaven should not be wasted or used carelessly,” wrote Shigeya. “Life is precious. One should walk the road of charity and benevolence. The crime should be hated, not the person. Everything should be based on the law.”

Decline of the samurai

In 1868, the Japanese shogun (a hereditary ruler) was overthrown and Japan’s government became centralized under the emperor in an event known as the Meiji Restoration. A series of military reforms followed the restoration and included the samurai class gradually losing its privileges.

“Works like Kenpo with step-by-step illustrations weren’t really around until after the Meiji Restoration. They were made in response to declining interest in martial arts,” said Shahan. “Some groups began to publish information in a manner accessible to the general public. All this was an effort to encourage people of the benefits of martial arts training.”

Samurai teaching the police

The illustrations in the book often show a police officer armed with a sword. Neither the police officer nor the assailants is shown using firearms. [In Photos: The Western Martial Art of the Sword]

“The left hand should always be holding the ‘tsuka,’ or handle of the sword, while the right hand hangs at your side,” wrote Hisatomi.

The book contains several techniques for preventing an assailant from taking hold of a police officer’s sword. In the book, the officer never uses the sword to slash at the suspect, instead using a variety of blocks, holds, strikes and throws to stop the suspect without killing him.

Hisatomi highlights the importance of correct breathing and posture, noting that power comes from the abdomen, not the chest. “Your power should all be in ‘saika,’ just below the navel, and indeed, the abdomen as a whole should be filled with this power.”

Don’t forget the rope

Hisatomi doesn’t mention handcuffs and instead has a section on “hojo” rope-binding techniques. “Hojo is typically done by threading the cord to restrain the right arm first,” wrote Hisatomi, noting that the majority of people are right-handed. “His right arm should always be forced to your left.”

Hisatomi noted that it is important for an officer to carry enough rope when on duty.

In case an officer didn’t have enough rope, or forgot to bring it, Hisatomi wrote that one should “tie the middle fingers together at the base with a double knot,” by using “motoyui,” which is “a paper cord used for tying hair up” or “kamiyori,” which is a “general-use kind of paper string.”

The accompanying illustration shows a person with the two middle fingers tied tightly together.

Resuscitation secrets

In addition to fighting and rope-binding techniques, there is a section on “kappo,” which are resuscitation techniques. These could help police officers heal people who had been in accidents, such as nearly drowning or falling off carts.

“Traditionally, the way these methods are done is kept secret by the various ‘ryuha’ [martial art schools],” Hisatomi wrote. One of the kappo techniques, called “tanyu,” can “be applied to a person who has become suffocated by water and drowned,” wrote Hisatomi.

The author said that the left shinbone should be planted firmly on the ground while the right shinbone should be against part of the victim’s back, behind the solar plexus.

Both arms are passed beneath the victim’s armpits, and both hands are placed slightly below the navel. “Joining the hands together at this point, you should pull backwards and up. At the same time, press in hard with the shin,” Hisatomi wrote.

Useful today?

Some of the techniques, Shahan said, could be beneficial to modern-day police officers.

“All the [fighting] techniques deal with responding to sudden lunging attacks. Being familiar with techniques for defending against such attacks as well as joint manipulation would seem to be of use,” Shahan said.

However, Shahan advised against today’s cops using throws to take down a suspect. “Throwing techniques might not be good, as they allow the attacker to make contact with the body, potentially enabling them to seize a weapon on the officer’s belt.”

Shahan, who holds a San Dan (third-degree black belt) in Kobudo, has self-published his English translation of the training book.

Beethoven sleuths find old page that sheds light on a work in progress

This photo shows the old Beethoven score.

This photo shows the old Beethoven score. (Bob Luckey Jr. /Hearst Connecticut Media via AP)

Appraiser Brendan Ryan was at a house in Greenwich, Conn., to take a look at furniture and other items the owner wanted to sell, but it was a framed document hanging on a wall that caught his attention.

“I said to myself, ‘Oh my God, that’s Beethoven,” Ryan tells ABC News. Beethoven’s handwriting is “unmistakable,” explains Ryan, who is also a composer. His hunch panned out, and what turned out to be a rare 1810 Beethoven sketch leaf of Beethoven’s opus 117, König Stephan, sold at auctionin November for $120,000, the Journal News reports.

But before that could happen, the sketch leaf had to be authenticated and the music identified, and Ryan is providing new details about the weeks-long process.

“I equate it to trying to find a word in the dictionary without knowing the first letter,” says Ryan, who sought the help of his former music professor, Mel Comberiati of Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY. The pair pored over the digital archives of Beethoven’s works from the Beethoven Haus in Bonn, Germany. Most composers threw out their notes, but luckily, “Beethoven didn’t throw anything out,” Comberiati told Greenwich Time. One important clue came in the form of three small holes on the side of the leaf that matched up perfectly with known samples from the complete sketchbook. The sketch leaf sheds light on Beethoven’s process, showing ideas in pencil getting tweaked and then made permanent with ink, reports ABC News. “It’s kind of a mess,” Comberiati tells theJournal News. “He’s working out the music.

He writes a line, crosses it out.” It’s like the “moment you get to see inside the composer’s mind.” (Beethoven’s heart arrhythmia may have influenced his music.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Beethoven Sleuths: Old Sheet Shows How He Worked

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Orville Wright’s letter, other patent documents to be auctioned

A 1916 patent document related to Orville Wright's invention of the airplane will be auctioned off Thursday. (Nate Sanders Auctions)

A 1916 patent document related to Orville Wright’s invention of the airplane will be auctioned off Thursday. (Nate Sanders Auctions)

Several documents offering rare insight into Orville Wright will be auctioned Thursday.

A 1916 patent transfer document for Wright’s invention of the airplane and one in which the inventor defends his reputation will be auctioned by Nate D. Sanders Auctions in Los Angeles. Bidding for the patent transfer document and letter will begin at $25,000 and $12,500 respectively.

The first document confirms Orville Wright mortgaged five patents to New York investors led by William Boyce Thompson and that he had been paid – thus ensuring any challenges to the patents were relayed to the new owners. The Wright Company had entered into a loan agreement with the Thompson investors in return for $1 million.

The first patent was critical, since many inventors legally challenged the Wright Brothers’ airplane invention. After failing to obtain a patent for their first airplane, they secured a patent (No. 821,293) in 1906 that covered the three-axis control system used on the original 1902 glider, rather than the plane. Every plane today uses the Wright Brother’s control system.

There are three documents in this lot. They include an October 25, 1916, notarized letter signed by Orville Wright, a notarized statement from the same date signed by a Dayton notary public and an acknowledgment of receipt of the letter by the United States Patent Office dated October 28, 1916.

A letter Orville Wright sent in 1928 to Connecticut Senator Hiram Bingham will also go on the block. In that typewritten letter, Wright appeared angery with the Smithsonian Institute for discrediting the Wright Brothers as inventors of the first flying machine.

The Smithsonian recognized ex-Smithsonian Secretary Samuel P. Langley as the inventor of the airplane in their 1914 annual report.

”The important point at issue is as to who was the inventor of the first successful flying machine. The Smithsonian for the past seventeen years has kept up constant propaganda to take the credit for this away from my brother and myself,” Wright wrote in the letter. “Such practice as this is beneath the dignity of a scientific institution … I believe there was no one else in the world at that time beside Wilbur and myself that had the scientific data for building a machine that would fly.”

Fourteen years later, the Smithsonian Institute resolved the dispute with the Wright brothers, purchased the “Wright Flyer” and displayed it at the National Museum on December 17, 1948.