Guatemala City, Sept 15 (AP/UNB) — An altar found at Guatemala's La Corona site suggests the Mayan dynasty of Kaanul, known as the Snake Kings, acted like its namesake in slowly squeezing the rival kingdom of Tikal, archaeologists said Friday.
A team led by Marcello Canuto of Tulane University uncovered the carved stone altar in the northern Peten region near the Mexico border.
When it was first found in 2017, the altar was encased in the roots of a tree in a collapsed temple. It took a year to painstaking pry the massive stone slab from the roots, fully excavate it and move it to Guatemala City, where it was presented this week at a museum.
The altar is dated A.D. 544 and depicts the Tikal ruler Chak Took Ich'aak conjuring two local gods from a shaft in the form of a snake.
The same man appears 20 years later as a vassal of the Kaanul dynasty and the ruler of the larger, nearby city of Peru-Waka. But the gods associated with him are different local deities associated with that place.
Canuto said the altar suggest Kaanul's eventual victory was the result of decades of astute politicking and cultural appropriation, not just battles.
Chak Took Ich'aak and his son "are trying to show that they are praying or conjuring up gods that were there way earlier to give them that kind of legitimacy," Canuto said. "It's almost like they're setting up franchises, but using the same recipes of local gods, claiming they had access to local deities. There's an attempt to render this whole process legitimate by appealing to local interests."
A princess from the Kaanul dynasty — based in Dzibanche and later Calakmul, in neighboring Mexico — had been married into the La Corona ruling family two decades before.
It's unlikely that La Corona could have simply conquered El Peru, which was much more powerful, unless it had backing from someone even more powerful.
"This would be equivalent to Cuba defeating the United States in a war. They could only have done that ... if they had had the backing of the Soviet Union," Canuto said.
The enormous city-state of Tikal, whose towering temples still stand in the jungle, battled for centuries for dominance of the Maya world with the Kaanul dynasty. Just a few decades after the altar was carved, Kaanul apparently defeated Tikal by amassing a string of allied cities that encircled and eventually strangled Tikal. The symbol of the Kaanul dynasty were stone masks carved in the form of grinning snakes.
Francisco Estrada-Belli, a Tulane University archaeologist who was not involved in the La Corona discovery, said: "Its broader significance is that it shows the behind-the-scenes ... machinations of the Snake Kings as they are expanding their empire in the direction of Tikal."
"Not long ago, we thought the victory over Tikal was the result of a sort of out-of-the-blue blitz," Estrada-Belli said. "It is fascinating to learn more about how Maya empires expanded, just like in the 'Game of Thrones.'"
Tomas Barrientos, an archaeologist at the University of the Valley of Guatemala noted that "for several centuries during the Classic period, the Kaanul kings dominated much of the Maya Lowlands," until the Maya civilization collapsed for reasons that still aren't clear.
"This altar contains information about their early strategies of expansion," Barrientos said.
Las Vegas, Sept 15 (AP/UNB) — Bullet fragments are still lodged in Robert Aguilar's back, but almost a year after he was wounded in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, he can walk with the help of a cane and has a very special group of people to thank: the health care providers at a Las Vegas area hospital.
Aguilar and other survivors did just that Friday, when they reunited with the doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who cared for them at Sunrise Hospital. They shared emotional stories in person or prerecorded videos of their days and weeks at the hospital and the time since they were discharged.
"I can't thank them enough," said Aguilar, who was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in his right side, a bullet stuck in his spine. "It feels weird to be back... (But) it is good to see everybody up and about and moving after seeing them hurt and bandaged."
Aguilar, a resident of Rancho Cucamonga, California, texts and talks on the phone with his surgeon at least once a month.
He is among the more than 200 victims the hospital handled the night of Oct. 1, when a high-stakes gambler broke the windows of his Las Vegas Strip casino-resort suite and opened fire into a crowd at an outdoor country music festival. He killed 58 people and injured hundreds more before taking his own life.
Testimonials from victims and their relatives, as well as health care providers, left many of the more than 100 attendees teary. Some of the victims also reunited with others who were taken to the hospital in personal vehicles.
Dr. Chris Fisher, the hospital's medical director of trauma services, said it is sometimes difficult to recognize some of his patients because he saw them at their worst. But days like Friday, when patients look great and like anybody else, "are the best days for a trauma surgeon."
"It's the most rewarding part of the job," Fisher said of moments when he reunites with patients. "It's so hard to go through that experience not only as a patient but as a physician. The reward for that is to see them come back; to see them living normal lives again, to see them experiencing all that life has to offer with their family and their friends."
Kortney Spencer of Los Angeles was shot in the right leg and spent 11 nights at the hospital. She said she wanted to find a nurse who helped her, but couldn't remember her name because of the condition she was in while at the hospital.
"It's hard to try to reconnect," Spencer said. "But they were really amazing, and I wanted to make sure they get recognized and that I could say thank you."
London, Sept 14 (AP/UNB) — London is starting its stint at the center of the fashion universe as industry leaders express concerns about the potential impact of Brexit.
Top designers including Burberry, Christopher Kane, Victoria Beckham, Erdem and others will be showing new collections in a series of shows that start on Friday.
Anticipation is high, especially with a new creative director at Burberry and a rare London catwalk show by Beckham, the former Spice Girl who has won plaudits for her designs.
But British Fashion Council chairwoman Stephanie Phair told the BBC Friday there are wide concerns about the impact of Britain leaving the European Union.
She says the uncertainty of Brexit plans is making it difficult for the fashion industry to develop a strategy. Britain is scheduled to leave the EU in March.
Dhaka, Sept 13 (UNB) - Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury has been named President of the COSMOS Foundation, the philanthropic arm of COSMOS Group.
He will assume the position, which is an honorary one, with immediate effect.
Dr Chowdhury, who resides in Singapore, is the Principal Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) at the National University of Singapore.
He has been associated with that prestigious think-tank since April 2009.
At ISAS, he leads research on Multilateral Institutions and International Linkages.
An internationally reputed analyst, he has published numerous articles and a number of books on subjects such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He has also taught diplomacy at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore and lectured at universities and think-tanks in the US, the UK, France, Australia, the Gulf States and South East Asia. He holds MA and PhD degrees in International Relations from the Australian National University.
Dr Chowdhury had been Foreign Advisor to a Bangladesh Caretaker Government. He had also served as Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN and WTO, and has also been Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
He had been elected Chair of a number of significant UN committees, and has been a recipient of international awards and distinctions.
He and his late wife, Nicole Sherin Chowdhury, have one daughter, Naureen Chowdhury Fink, who is a Senior Advisor at the UK Mission to the UN in New York.
Harrisonville, Sep 13 (AP/UNB) — A 10-year-old Missouri boy is recovering after he was attacked by insects and tumbled from a tree, landing on a meat skewer that penetrated his skull from his face to the back of his head.
But miraculously, that's where Xavier Cunningham's bad luck ended. The skewer had completely missed Xavier's eye, brain, spinal cord and major blood vessels, The Kansas City Star reports .
Xavier's harrowing experience began Saturday afternoon when yellow jackets attacked him in a tree house at his home in Harrisonville, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Kansas City. He fell to the ground and started to scream. His mother, Gabrielle Miller, ran to help him. His skull was pierced from front-to-back with half a foot of skewer still sticking out of his face.
Miller tried to reassure her son, who told her "I'm dying, Mom" as they rushed to the hospital. He eventually was transferred to the University of Kansas Hospital, where endovascular neurosurgery director Koji Ebersole evaluated the wound.
"You couldn't draw it up any better," Ebersole said. "It was one in a million for it to pass 5 or 6 inches through the front of the face to the back and not have hit these things."
There was no active bleeding, allowing the hospital time to get personnel in place for a removal surgery on Sunday morning that was complicated by the fact that the skewer wasn't round. Because it was square, with sharp edges, it would have to come out perfectly straight. Twisting it could cause additional severe injury.
"Miraculous" would be an appropriate word to describe what happened, Ebersole said.
Doctors think Xavier could recover completely.
"I have not seen anything passed to that depth in a situation that was survivable, let alone one where we think the recovery will be near complete if not complete," he said.