History’s homegrown plague

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Scientists have always assumed that two epidemics that swept the Yucatan peninsula in 1545 and 1576, killing 80 percent of the native inhabitants, were diseases brought by colonists from Spain. According to the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC NEWS, new evidence suggests the culprit was in fact an indigenous virus rather than a European disease like smallpox or measles. But you can still blame the Spanish.

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The Spanish didn’t just maim and pillage when they came to the New World. They also disrupted traditional living patterns and agricultural practices, moving people from scattered villages to urban centers and introducing new crops. Ambitious building and land-clearing led to deforestation.

A University of Arkansas researcher believes these changes in land use, combined with a severe drought, brought rats into areas occupied by humans. The rats carried a virus –related to today’s hanta virus — which caused hemorrhagic fever and ultimately killed about 17 million natives.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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