Thousands of artefacts from first US inhabitants uncovered in incredible dig

A "once in a lifetime" opportunity for archeologists to study the first people to inhabit the US has taken place after thousands of ancient artefacts were discovered – almost completely by accident.

The Department of Transportation in Connecticut were constructing a bridge over the Farmington River in Avon when workers discovered the historic site, which dates back 12,500 years to a time known as the Paleoindian Period.

The project required deep excavation for the construction of the bridge, which is the only reason this ancient site was discovered, with archeologists normally unable to dig so deep due to the prohibitive costs.

Archaeologists were given the rare opportunity to look at a site six feet under the surface, where they found an open fire pit and a number of posts from temporary housing, along with 15,000 artefacts that were mostly primeval tools.

Catherine Labadia, a staff archaeologist with the State Historic Preservation Office, told The Hartford Courant : "This is the once-in-lifetime opportunity to look [at a site of this age] in Connecticut.

“This site has the potential to make us understand the first peopling of Connecticut in a way we haven’t been able to.”

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The team uncovered 15,000 artefacts, most of which are ancient tools, and 27 features.

The features are remnants of what the team calls 'human activity' and are much rarer to find.

These features include holes and walls – what Senior Archaeologist David Leslie described as "traces of behaviour" that have been recorded in the earth.

Archaeologists also found an open fire pit or hearth, and a number of posts from temporary houses.

Leslie noted that just a few Paleoindian features have ever been discovered in this part of the country and the Avon site revealed more than 24.

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The site shows evidence of the earliest known population in Connecticut, she said.

Labadia said that archaeologists working on their own would normally not be able to conduct such a deep dive because of how expensive it is to do.

Although Department of Transportation workers had not been expecting to discover the site – there was one archaeologist who did think the area was of significant historic value.

The artefacts may have been left undiscovered if not for the work of the late Brian Jones, an archaeologist who worked at Archaeological & Historical Services and later became the state archaeologist.

Jones, who tragically died over the summer after a battle with cancer, had a “knack” for finding Paleoindian sites, Leslie said.

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“Many other archaeologists, I think, have missed sites that are deeply buried because we’re used to only investigating the top few feet,” Leslie said. "But Brian had a feeling that there could be the potential for archaeology here.”

Thankfully Jones did get the opportunity to see the fruits of his labour before his death, and even after his cancer diagnosis he would regularly visit the site to offer his advice and expertise to the archaeological crews.

“Brian was battling cancer throughout the past year … and yet he still found time almost every week to be on site with us,” Leslie said.

Labadia said the site discovery felt like a final ode to Jones’ years of dedicated work.

She said: “It was almost like a gift that was given to him.”

To honor Jones and his work, the Avon site has been dubbed the Dr. Brian D. Jones Paleoindian Site.

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Drilling resumes at Falcon's Australian prospect after long inquiry delay

Drilling has resumed at the huge Australian gas fracking prospect of Dublin-based Falcon Oil & Gas after a long delay that had threatened to kill the project.

The Northern Territories government had imposed a moratorium on all fracking but lifted the temporary ban following the results of a scientific inquiry ordered by the government.

That cleared the way for work on the huge Beetaloo basin prospect to recommence.

Falcon, headed up by exploration veteran Philip O’Quigley, has a 30pc share of the prospect, with the remaining 70pc owned by major Australian energy group Origin.

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Drilling of two horizontal wells is now under way on a target that is spread across a vast 18,500 square kilometre tract of Northern Territories bush.

“Ongoing evaluation of the Kyalla 117 N2-1 vertical appraisal well is very encouraging,” said O’Quigley. “The drilling of a 1,000 to 2,000 metre horizontal well in the Lower Kyalla shale has started and we will continue to update the market as soon as more results become available.”

Origin Energy CEO Frank Calabria said that a well that had been drilled prior to the moratorium had indicated the presence of six trillion cubic feet of gas in one small area.

He said that the company was “excited” to be back in the Beetaloo following the moratorium as it had the potential to bring cheaper gas into the domestic Australian market.

“It is exciting and we are looking forward to it,” Calabria said.

“The prospects are significant,” he said, adding that first results would be known by the final quarter of 2020 but that it was early days with potential for “a wide range of outcomes”.

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Winnipeg puts home win streak on the line against Philadelphia

Philadelphia Flyers (17-10-5, fifth in the Metropolitan Division) vs. Winnipeg Jets (19-11-2, fourth in the Central Division)

Winnipeg, Manitoba; Sunday, 5 p.m. EST

BOTTOM LINE: Winnipeg hosts Philadelphia looking to continue its four-game home winning streak.

The Jets are 9-5-1 at home. Winnipeg has converted on 15.5% of power-play opportunities, scoring 15 power-play goals.

The Flyers are 7-8-1 in road games. Philadelphia has scored 19 power-play goals, converting on 17.4% of chances.

The matchup Sunday is the first meeting of the season between the two teams.

TOP PERFORMERS: Mark Scheifele leads the Jets with 32 points, scoring 14 goals and registering 18 assists. Kyle Connor has scored six goals over the last 10 games for Winnipeg.

Philippe Myers leads the Flyers with a plus-14 in 18 games played this season. Scott Laughton has scored four goals over the last 10 games for Philadelphia.

LAST 10 GAMES: Flyers: 6-3-1, averaging three goals, 5.2 assists, three penalties and 6.9 penalty minutes while allowing 2.1 goals per game with a .924 save percentage.

Jets: 6-3-1, averaging 3.3 goals, 5.9 assists, 4.6 penalties and 11.7 penalty minutes while giving up 2.1 goals per game with a .932 save percentage.

INJURIES: Jets: None listed.

Flyers: Tyler Pitlick: day to day (undisclosed), Scott Laughton: day to day (undisclosed), Oskar Lindblom: out for season (upper-body), Travis Konecny: out (upper body).

The Associated Press created this story using technology provided by Data Skrive and data from Sportradar.


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Negotiators work through the night to salvage U.N. climate summit

MADRID (Reuters) – Negotiators worked into the early hours of Sunday to try to salvage a strong global commitment to fight climate change after some of the most vulnerable nations said they were being sidelined at a marathon U.N. summit in Madrid.

Talks were scheduled to conclude on Friday but lurched into a second extra day as major economies and smaller states struggled to resolve outstanding issues under the 2015 Paris Agreement to tackle global warming.

Kevin Conrad, Papua New Guinea’s climate envoy, told delegates the talks had to be “open and transparent,” echoing concerns expressed by some other developing countries that their voices were not being heard.

“Over the last 24 hours, 90% of the participants have not been involved in this process,” Conrad said.

Carolina Schmidt, a Chilean minister presiding over the two-week annual gathering, appealed to the more than 190 countries in the Paris accord to come together to send a clear signal of support ahead of a crucial implementation phase in 2020.

“We are almost there. It’s hard, it’s difficult, but it’s worth it,” Schmidt told participants, many of whom had barely slept during the grueling final phase.

Earlier, Chile faced fierce criticism after it drafted a version of the summit text that campaigners complained was so weak it betrayed the spirit of the Paris deal.

Supporters of strong climate action warn the Paris agreement could unravel unless countries at the Madrid summit signal they are ready to honor the deal by rapidly strengthening plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists warn the world will only have a chance of avoiding catastrophic warming if countries move fast to slash emissions under the Paris process, which hinges on parties ratcheting up their targets in 2020.

This summit has revealed a wide gulf between demands for action by an increasingly vociferous global climate activism movement and inertia in major economies, even as carbon dioxide emissions have hit record highs.

The talks in Madrid have become mired in disputes over potential loopholes in rules governing international carbon trading, favored by wealthier countries to reduce the cost of cutting emissions.

Carlos Fuller, chief negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, said the 44 low-lying nations in the bloc wanted strict rules but were being sidelined as larger countries dominated the talks.

“Are we a party to this process or not?,” Fuller asked reporters outside a meeting hall.

Schmidt said she was committed to transparency and would personally facilitate attempts to break the deadlock over carbon trading as others worked to resolve another set of disputes over financial aid for poorer countries ravaged by climate impacts.

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China suspends planned tariffs scheduled for Dec. 15 on some U.S. goods

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China has suspended the planned additional tariffs on some U.S. goods that were meant to be implemented on Dec. 15, the State Council’s customs tariff commission said on Sunday, after the two countries agreed a “phase one” trade deal on Friday.

The statement was issued on the websites of government departments including China’s finance ministry as well as by state media outlets such as Xinhua.

China hopes, on the basis of equality and mutual respect, to work with the United States, to properly resolve each other’s core concerns and promote the stable development of U.S.-China economic and trade relations, the statement added.

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Thailand opposition party rallies thousands, urging them to stand up for democracy

Several thousand supporters of a popular opposition party in Thailand that is under threat of dissolution rallied Saturday in the nation’s capital in one of the largest political demonstrations since a 2014 coup.

The crowd, which gathered mostly on an elevated walkway connecting malls and mass transit stations and spreading out to the streets below, heard the leader of the Future Forward Party, Thanathorn Juangroongruangkrit, make an impassioned speech urging them to stand up and fight for democracy.

The party came from nowhere to finish third in this year’s general election, the first poll since the military in 2014 staged a coup that was led by Prayuth Chan-ocha, the current prime minister. Its progressive, anti-military agenda has needled Thailand’s conservative establishment but has struck a chord with the young.

Since the election, Future Forward has faced a string of legal cases. Last month, the constitutional Court stripped Thanathorn of his lawmaker status, ruling that he violated a regulation on media ownership.

This past Wednesday, the Election Commission ruled that the party had broken the law by accepting an illegal loan from Thanathorn, who is a billionaire, and recommended it be dissolved. Few people expect the constitutional Court, which is seen as closely aligned with the country’s military-royalist establishment, to disagree.

The concerted legal moves have angered supporters of the opposition party, who believe it is the victim of a conspiracy.

“I think it shows that people will not tolerate dictatorship anymore,” Thanathorn said of the large turnout as he left the rally.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Bangkok earlier this month, Thanathorn said that the legal cases against him and his party were “irrelevant” compared with an effort by the establishment to not allow “peaceful transitions through democracy to happen.”

“Nobody knows what could happen when people lost faith in the parliament system, where there is no hope left, where there is no possibility to win the power peacefully,” Thanathorn said.

“The establishment, the junta, they seem certain that they could contain it, that they could control it. But many think otherwise. Many I talked to are not convinced. I think this is a very dangerous gamble,” he said.

Political battles caused serious turmoil in Thailand from 2006 to 2014, including two coups and massive street protests involving contending groups, police and the military.

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Wall Street predicts a high-single-digit gain next year, but history shows that is likely wrong

  • CNBC's strategist survey shows a median predicted 2020 S&P 500 gain of 6.5% to 3375.
  • Since 1928, the S&P has only showed a gain of between 5-10% six out of the 91 calendar years – suggesting the consensus forecast for a high-single-digit rise in 2020 has a 93% chance of being wrong.
  • Wall Street predicts a recession will be avoided in 2020 and the global economy will pick up in coming months, with U.S. GDP returning toward long-term trend growth around 2%. The first part of the year should be strong, they predict, but expect more volatility ahead of the election.

(This story is part of the Weekend Brief edition of the Evening Brief newsletter. To sign up for CNBC's Evening Brief, .)

A long-ago world leader famously called politics "the art of the possible."

Wall Street strategists, for their part, practice "the art of the plausible." Knowing that financial markets in any given year are inherently unpredictable, they construct a reasonable forecast using uncontroversial assumptions.

Yet what is perfectly plausible is, in most ways, not at all probable as the ultimate outcome.

The consensus strategist forecast for the S&P 500 for any given year typically falls in the 5% to 10% range. Right now, CNBC's strategist survey shows a median predicted 2020 S&P 500 gain of 6.5% to 3375. The average forecast is up 5%, and the maximum target right now is 3450 by BTIG's Julian Emmanuel, which would be about a 9% advance.

Sounds perfectly sensible and defensible, right? After all, the long-term average annualized gain for U.S. stocks is right in that zone around 8%.

Yet in a counterintuitive quirk, the short term almost never conforms to the long-term average. Since 1928, the S&P has only showed a gain of between 5-10% six out of the 91 calendar years – suggesting the consensus forecast for a high-single-digit rise in 2020 has a 93% chance of being wrong.

A year ago, strategists as a group were looking for an 11% gain for 2019 – but the forecasts was likely as high as it was because stocks had already fallen sharply since October of last year – and the then-aggregate target of 2940 for the S&P was merely a call that the index would recover back to its prior record high.

Unusual year

This was not the popular outlook: "Stocks in 2019 will surge by more than 25% for their best year since 2013 while corporate earnings finish about flat and long-term Treasury bonds will return more than 10%, as the Fed turns tail to cut interest rates three times and successive rounds of tariffs are imposed on China until halfway through December." Hardly a plausible-sounding story at the time, but exactly what happened.

Oh, and this year's huge run higher in stocks despite flattish earnings followed last year's negative equity return in a year when profits surged by 20%.

None of which is to denigrate the performance of brokerage-house strategists, for whom arbitrary index targets are a small and thankless part of the job, and who try most often to steer clients to the right parts of the markets rather than nail the number.

But it does help to observe the widely shared expectations for the year to come, if only to gain a sense of what potential trends or market behavior might most surprise the majority.

How Wall Street sees 2020

Sifting through the run of 2020 year-ahead dispatches, the collective best guess goes something like this:

Recession will be avoided and the global economy will pick up in coming months, with U.S. GDP returning toward long-term trend growth around 2%. Corporate earnings will improve to a mid- to high-single-digit growth rate, which should allow for similar progress for an already fully valued equity market. Overseas stocks have a good chance to outperform after years of severely lagging the S&P 500. Within the U.S. market, cyclical sectors should do better than defensive or secular-growth areas. Bond yields probably won't move much with the Fed on indefinite hold. The first part of the year should be strong – but expect more volatility ahead of the election.

BlackRock Investment Institute comes close to distilling this general view: "Growth should edge higher in 2020, limiting recession risks. This is a favorable backdrop for risk assets. But the dovish central bank pivot that drove markets in 2019 is largely behind us. Inflation risks look underappreciated, and the lull in U.S.-China trade tensions could end. This leaves us with a modestly pro-risk stance for 2020."

Here's RBC Capital's Lori Calvasina: "We expect 2020 to be a year of moderation, turbulence, and transition in the US equity market… Down years are rare in the US equity market, outside of periods associated with growth scares, recessions, or financial market bubbles. With those scenarios unlikely in the year ahead, we expect 2020 to be another positive year for the US equity market. But we do think full year returns will be less robust than 2019 and that the year will end up being closer to trend."

That down years are rare is certainly worth remembering. If indeed there is no recession coming into view, stock markets tend to be able to find a way to make progress, and there are reasons to think this economic expansion can carry on for a while.

Track record after big gains

One notable tendency: As J.C. O'Hara of MKM Partners points out, since 1950 there have been 18 years when the S&P has gained at least 20%. The following year was up 15 of those times, for an average total return (including dividends) of 11%. Of the three down years following a 20%+ gain, two involved a recession (1981 and 1990) and the other (1962) was a rare non-recession mini-bear-market.

Another pattern to toss out there: The very broad NYSE Composite Index last week made a new record high for the first time in nearly two years. LPL Financial's Ryan Detrick points out that since 1980, it's gone more than a year without a new highs eight times. One year after a new record was finally set, the index was up one year later all eight times, for a median gain near 14%.

Nothing is ever assured, of course, and this market doesn't owe investors anything after a 14% annualized total return the past three years and a 18% yearly take since the March 2009 bear-market low. Stock valuations in the U.S. genuinely do appear stout, if not at egregious extremes. And there remain some indicators that look wobbly and resemble prior pre-recession phases.

But with stocks reaching record highs with credit markets sturdy, a perceived scarcity of cash-flow-producing assets globally and no outright overconfidence yet being shown by investors, stocks enjoy some tailwinds that keep alive the prospect that the market could start running well ahead of that plausible pace now predicted by Wall Street's handicappers.

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Edmonton’s Stanley A. Milner Library delayed; no date set for opening

The Stanley A. Milner Library will be delaying its opening, according to a tweet from the Edmonton Public Library on Saturday.

“We’ve been working hard to make our downtown library the best it can be, and want to ensure when we open our doors it’s as special as we’ve always imagined,” the tweet read.

“We’ll share a new opening date in the new year.”

The original date set for the downtown library’s opening was planned for Feb. 14, 2020.

The library was closed on Dec. 31, 2016 to undergo a major renovation including an exterior makeover, asbestos removal, mechanical and electrical upgrades and floor-to-ceiling second-floor windows.

Then in 2017, city council was told that unexpected problems would raise the initial price from $69 million to $84.5 million.

The library’s official city website said Saturday the grand opening of the revitalized building will take place in spring 2020.


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From factory building to furniture: how a Toronto company is salvaging old-growth wood from Napanee

As the saying goes, “What’s old is new again”.

And that is exactly what is happening to old-growth timbers from a factory in Napanee, Ont., once Canada’s oldest furniture maker.

The hope is the old-growth wood from the Gibbard Furniture Factory will return to the community.

“These are Douglas fir posts and beams,” says Niko Kougias, owner of Deadstok Reclaimed, pointing to several 12-foot-long timbers a foot wide. “That would have come from the West Coast, probably 100 years ago, once the railroad started happening in the 1890s.”

Deadstok Reclaimed is a Toronto-based company that salvages old-growth wood.

“The excitement about old-growth wood is that it doesn’t really exist anymore in the limber market,” says Kougias, “so the only way to procure the materials is to pull them out these (Gibbard Furniture Factory) old buildings.

“It is very exciting because you get to see what people were doing with craftsmanship 150-years ago.”

Built in 1835 and once the oldest furniture maker in Canada, the Gibbard Factory operated for 173 years before closing in 2009.

Some of the Gibbard buildings are being demolished to make way for a new condominium development, and Kougias, also a furniture maker, saw an opportunity and struck a deal with the developer to buy the wood in the old factory.

“We’re taking wood from an old furniture factory and turning it into furniture again,” says Kougias.

Kougias is also a reacquiring character on Salvage Kings on the History Channel.

Part of Kougias’s mindset is to return the wood to the communities he salvaged it from.

Products produced from the old wood could go back into the new condo units in Napanee, purchased by owners, in the form of furniture, countertops and even flooring.

“We’ve had overwhelming support, so it’s something we want to continue with development companies and communities to make sure that they can bring wood back to these developments, that were originally here,” says Kougias. “It’s a heritage thing.

“I think it is extremely important and historical.”

According to Kougias, some of the timbers in the historic buildings are more than a thousand years old.

Very dense wood — very rare to find today.

“The old-growth trees have very tight rings,” says Kougias. “It’s evidence of the tree struggling to grow over a period of time. Taking in water, light and air.”

Kougias says thousands of dollars worth of rare old-growth wood has been rescued from the Gibbard Furniture Factory.

The Gibbard District condominium project is expected to be completed in 2022.


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New Calgary report shows complaints, injuries and destinations related to explosion in e-scooter use

A new report released by the city of Calgary shows there were 750,000 recorded e-scooter trips from July to October this year.

The city conducted a survey this fall looking for feedback. Over 9,000 Calgarians responded.

Over half of shared e-scooter and e-bike destinations were within one of the city’s business improvement zones like Kensington and East Village.

“We appreciate people travelling whichever way pleases them to come to shop and spend time in Kensington,” said Annie MacInnis, executive director of the Kensington Business Improvement Area.

Approximately 60 per cent of e-scooters and e-bikes used the pathway network to get to a destination. The rest of the trip volume was on sidewalks and roads.

“Around 30 per cent of the time, people said they would’ve used some form of car trip instead of a scooter trip and we think that’s great to reduce vehicle traffic, which ultimately reduces congestion,” said Bird Canada CEO Stewart Lyons in an interview with Global News on Saturday.

Lime and Bird Canada offered e-scooters in Calgary over the summer while Lime also had e-bikes.

Some bumps and bruises were recorded along the way. Thirty-three injuries were reported: 32 were scooter riders and one was a pedestrian.

“They’re pretty safe. They are about as safe as bicycles, if not a bit safer. Clearly, we would like the injury rate to be zero; that’s our goal to improve upon for next year. For our first year, for people just getting used to scooters, the injury rates were OK,” Lyons said.

There were 281 calls to 311 related to shared e-scooters this summer. The complaints included abandoned and improperly parked scooters, double riding, sidewalk riding and not yielding to pedestrians.

Administration has a number of recommendations including low-speed zones in high pedestrian areas, designated parking zones in high demand parking areas, new bylaws and more education and enforcement.

“We were a little concerned about the speed sometimes and two people on a scooter and inexperienced riders sometimes. So there was the odd precarious moment and so we did note it might be helpful if there were some lower speed limits and a few more regulations associated with that just for safety,” MacInnis said.

The report will go before council’s transportation and transit committee on Wednesday.


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