News Tropical disturbance creeps closer to Florida Doyle Rice•A tropical disturbance that formed Wednesday near the Bahamas is spinning toward Florida. The National Hurricane Center gives the system a 30% chance of tropical development within the next five days.”Additional slow development is possible during the next several days while the system moves northwestward toward the Florida peninsula at 5 to 10 mph and then turns northeastward off the southeastern coast of the United States,” the hurricane center said.If the storm’s winds reach 39 mph, it would become Tropical Storm Dorian.Exactly where the storm goes is uncertain until it actually forms, AccuWeather said. Its proximity to the coast and steering winds, however, could guide it ashore and into the U.S., AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said.Regardless of development, locally heavy rains are possible over portions of the southern Florida peninsula during the next day or two.Because of the heavy rain, „some flooding will be possible across the region on Friday and into the upcoming weekend especially in the low-lying and poor drainage areas,” the National Weather Service in Miami said.More hurricanes? The hurricane season has been rather quiet. Will it last?Meanwhile, far out in the Atlantic, Tropical Depression Chantal is wandering far from land. The hurricane center said the storm should fade over the next couple of days.And in the eastern Pacific Ocean, Tropical Storm Ivo could become a hurricane later Thursday or Friday. It poses no threat to any land area and is expected to stay well off the west coast of Mexico. As of midday Thursday, the center of Ivo was 550 miles south-southwest of the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Tropical disturbance creeps closer to Florida
NewsTS Ivo grows in Pacific off Mexico; Chantal ebbs in Atlantic•MEXICO CITY (AP) — Tropical Storm Ivo gained strength off the southwestern coast of Mexico on Thursday but wasn’t expected to threaten land, while the once-Tropical Storm Chantal meandered in the Atlantic as a tropical depression far from North America.The U.S. National Hurricane Center had said Ivo was likely to become a hurricane by Friday, but the agency’s afternoon forecast predicted that would not happen. Regardless, Ivo was expected to remain well clear of shore as it moved northwestward roughly parallel to the coast.The storm had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph (100 kph). It was centered about 545 miles (875 kilometers) south-southwest of the tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula and moving to the west-northwest at 9 mph (15 kph).Meanwhile, Chantal in the North Atlantic also posed no threat to land as it weakened out in the North Atlantic, the hurricane center said. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph) and was centered about 805 miles (1,295 kilometers) southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland.
Fires in the Amazon could be part of a doomsday scenario that sees the rainforest spewing carbon into the atmosphere and speeding up climate change even more
- The Amazon rainforest provides 20% of the world’s oxygen, but its destruction could cause it to not only stop helping the planet, but start releasing carbon and worsening climate change.
- In a „dieback” scenario, rising temperatures could dry trees, meaning they absorb less carbon and become more flammable, eventually turning the rainforest into a savannah and releasing billions of tons of stored carbon.
- Researchers have debated the likelihood of the scenario, but fears have heightened under Brazil’s new president, who has advocated expansion of industry in the region, which involves burning and cutting down trees.
- A record number of fires have hit the Amazon this year — more than 70,000 — and experts say they are due to human activity.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The record number of fires raging across the Amazon rainforest in 2019 could be part of a doomsday „dieback” scenario in which the rainforest spews carbon into the atmosphere and speeds up climate change even more.More than 70,000 fires have been recorded this year in the rainforest, which produces more than 20% of the world’s oxygen — threatening its future, the billions of plants and animals that call it home, and possibly the entire planet’s health.If more of the Amazon is destroyed, not only would it stop producing this oxygen and supporting wildlife, but it could create a feedback loop that worsens climate change.Read more: Here’s what you can do to help the burning, ravaged Amazon rainforestA dieback process, in which climate change speeds up the loss of trees and changes the landscape, could start with just some of the Amazon’s destruction, Business Insider’s Aylin Woodward reported.Losing 20% of Brazil’s rainforest could result in such a feedback loop, which would dry trees, leaving them unable to absorb as much carbon and much more flammable and likely to spread fires, researchers from three British universities wrote in a post for The Conversation.A tract of Amazon jungle burns as it is being cleared by loggers and farmers in Novo Airao, Amazonas state, Brazil August 21, 2019. REUTERS/Bruno Kell Reuters–This tipping point could lead the Amazon to devolve into a barren, savannah-like landscape that not only fails to produce oxygen but could cause the release of the 140 billion tons of carbon stored in the rainforest into the atmosphere, the Rainforest Trust said in a 2017 post.Rising global temperatures also threaten the future of remaining trees in aiding the planet. A 2000 study found that rising temperatures could stop trees in the Amazon from absorbing oxygen by as early as 2050 and that they could start to emit carbon instead.Brazil amazon wildfire indigenous group REUTERS/Ranu Abhelakh Some studies have described this scenario as „improbable,” but fears for the rainforest’s future have been heightened as human destruction of the Amazon speeds up.Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has advocated industrial development in the Amazon and has tried, without evidence, to blame nongovernmental organizations for the fires.Read more: The Amazon is burning at a rate not seen since we started keeping track. The smoke is reaching cities 2,000 miles away.According to The Guardian, July saw significantly increased deforestation in the Amazon as farmers and logging companies heightened their presence in the region.Satellite data from July showed that a soccer-pitch-sized area of the rainforest was being cleared every minute, the BBC said.amazon deforestation in brazil AP Photo/Andre PennerWildfires have always occurred in the Amazon, but they are sped up by hot, dry conditions. And some of the fires are started by those engaging in farming and logging.Earlier this week, the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, 2,000 miles from the rainforest, was plunged into darkness as smoke from the fires obscured the sun.Read more: Brazil’s president baselessly claimed that NGOs set the Amazon on fire on purpose to make him look badRicardo Mello, the head of the World Wide Fund for Nature’s Amazon Program, said that the fires were „a consequence of the increase in deforestation seen in recent figures,” the BBC reported.NOW WATCH: What apple cider vinegar really does to your body, according to a doctorWhat You Should Know About The Fires Raging In The Amazon Nick Visser•The Amazon Rainforest Is On Fire The Amazon is on fire.Brazil’s space agency said this week that more than 72,000 fires had broken out across the Amazon rainforest since the start of the year, imperiling one of the planet’s last refuges of biodiversity and raising concern about the region’s ability to combat climate change amid a rollback of environmental protections by the country’s far-right leader.Here’s what you need to know about the destructive blazes and how they could affect the rest of the planet.There are far more fires than usual.Brazil’s space research agency, known as INPE, said this month that as of Wednesday, the Brazilian Amazon had seen 75,336 fires since January. Those numbers far outstrip the number of fires last year and represent more than an 85% increase over 2017.The figures also dwarf those seen in 2016, when there were 67,790 fires by this point in the year. 2016 was linked to a strong El Niño ocean pattern that saw the region face extreme drought conditions, The Washington Post notes.This satellite image provided by NASA on Aug. 13 shows several fires burning in the Brazilian Amazon forest. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research said the country has seen a record number of wildfires this year, counting 74,155 as of Tuesday. (Photo: NASA via ASSOCIATED PRESS) The Amazon is often referred to as the “lungs of the planet”The Amazon rainforest is one of the richest areas of biodiversity on the planet and covers 2.12 million square miles. It’s often touted as one of the planet’s biggest oxygen suppliers as well as a key mechanism to absorb carbon dioxide and thereby slow the effects of climate change. The world’s forests suck up 2.4 billion tons of carbon annually, with the Amazon alone absorbing about a quarter of that.But the rainforest’s ability to do so has been weakening, according to a 2015 study. Scientists have warned that even without fires and deforestation, the Amazon won’t be able to keep up with the skyrocketing levels of greenhouse gas emissions released into the atmosphere every year.The blazes aren’t accidental.INPE research Alberto Setzer told Reuters this week that, although fires can be more common in particularly dry years, humans were primarily to blame for the rampant level in recent months. Farmers, emboldened by Brazil’s far-right leader, Jair Bolsonaro, have been setting illegal blazes to clear land for cattle and crops. The Brazilian leader has scaled back his government’s efforts to rein in the destruction, instead promising to open up protected lands to development in order to spur economic growth. “There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average,” Setzer told Reuters. “The dry season creates the favorable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident,”Mikaela Weisse, a manager at Global Forest Watch, an initiative of the World Resources Institute, told The New York Times this week that natural fires were relatively rare in the Amazon.“So all, or almost all, the fires we are seeing are set by humans,” Weisse told the Times.Global Forest Watch@globalforests #Fires have been #burning in the Brazilian #Amazon for weeks. Smoke from the uptick in fires caused a blackout in #SaoPaulo on Monday. Track the fires in real time and access historical fire data on #GFWFires: http://bit.ly/2zbwqzN They can be seen from space.The fires have grown exponentially over the past two months during the arrival of the dry season in Brazil. NASA’s Earth Observatory released images of smoke from the fires blanketing the Amazon basin, and the haze grew so bad at one point that it darkened the skies above São Paulo in the middle of the day.Shannon Sims@shannongsimsJust a little alert to the world: the sky randomly turned dark today in São Paulo, and meteorologists believe it’s smoke from the fires burning *thousands* of kilometers away, in Rondônia or Paraguay. Imagine how much has to be burning to create that much smoke(!). SOS The sudden darkening prompted an outcry on social media, with some residents declaring the “apocalypse” had come while others organized around the hashtag #prayforamazonia.Environmental groups link them to the policies of Brazil’s far-right leader. Bolsonaro has been in power only since January, but the Amazon had already lost more than 1,330 square miles of forest cover by July as the Brazilian government pulled back on enforcing environmental policies, the Times reported last month.Environmental groups have cast the Bolsonaro government’s policies as a driving force behind the destruction in the Amazon.“The unprecedented fires ravaging the Amazon are an international tragedy and a dangerous contribution to climate chaos,” Christian Poirier, the program director of Amazon Watch, an environmental nonprofit, said in a statement. “This devastation is directly related to President Bolsonaro’s anti-environmental rhetoric, which erroneously frames forest protections and human rights as impediments to Brazil’s economic growth. Farmers and ranchers understand the president’s message as a license to commit arson with wanton impunity, in order to aggressively expand their operations into the rainforest.”Love HuffPost? Become a founding member of HuffPost Plus today.Greenpeace Brasil@GreenpeaceBR Queimadas e desmatamento na Amazônia. Por que acontece? O que você pode fazer para ajudar? Uma thread. (Foto de Outubro/2018)
This is heartbreaking. The headline doesn’t make it clear… but these fires are being intentionally set to clear forests to illegally graze cattle. We NEED these forests if we’re going to fight the climate crisis. These forests are NEEDED as the home to the people Indigenous to the lands. The Amazon are the lungs of the planet, this is just beyond heartbreaking.
Bolsonaro has blamed environmental groups in turn, claiming in a Facebook Live broadcast this week, without evidence, that nongovernment organizations were setting the fires. The Brazilian government recently slashed funding to green groups in line with Bolsonaro’s anti-environment agenda. “Maybe — I am not affirming it — these [NGO people] are carrying out some criminal actions to draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil,” Bolsonaro said in the broadcast, according to a translation by The Associated Press. “There is a war going on in the world against Brazil, an information war.”Related Coverage WhatsApp Is Radicalizing The Right In Bolsonaro’s Brazil Wildfires Raging Across Amazon Rainforest Hit Record High Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Without Proof, Accuses NGOs Of Setting Amazon Rainforest On FireThis article originally appeared on HuffPost.
Although officials have said that dry weather and natural factors are behind the massive fires ravaging Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, others are suggesting that humans are likely to blame.
Numerous environmentalists say the blazes, which have been burning at a record pace for weeks, threatening wildlife and Earth’s oxygen, were set by cattle ranchers and farmers in an attempt to clear the land for their own use, according to CNN.
“The vast majority of these fires are human-lit,” Christian Poirier, the program director of non-profit organization Amazon Watch, told the outlet, pointing out that the humid rainforest doesn’t catch fire easily.
“This year’s fires fit into an established seasonal agricultural pattern,” added CNN meteorologist Haley Brink. “It’s the best time to burn because the vegetation is dry. [Farmers] wait for the dry season and they start burning and clearing the areas so that their cattle can graze. And that’s what we’re suspecting is going on down there.”
Officials with Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) have said humans, dry weather and natural factors are to blame for the uptick in blazes.
“There is nothing abnormal about the climate this year or the rainfall in the Amazon region, which is just a little below average,” INPE researcher Alberto Setzer said, Reuters previously reported. “The dry season creates the favorable conditions for the use and spread of fire, but starting a fire is the work of humans, either deliberately or by accident.”
Activists have also blamed Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro for the devastation, noting that the surge of fires began when he took office in January, according to Reuters.
Bolsonaro, who famously fired INPE leader Ricardo Galvão after Galvão spoke out about high deforestation rates, has vowed to explore the Amazon’s economic potential and condemned deforestation warnings that could interfere with trade negotiations.
Recently, the president has suggested the Amazon blazes could have been set in an attempt to make him look back.
“Maybe — I am not affirming it — these [NGO people] are carrying out some criminal actions to draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil,” he told reporters on Wednesday, without providing any evidence, according to USA Today.
According to many local media reports, last week numerous farmers organized a “fire day,” which was inspired by Bolsonaro’s words, Amazon Watch said in a statement, according to CNN.
Fires are “just the most visible symptom” of his policies, the Observatorio do Clima (Climate Observatory) said in a statement, the outlet reported.
There have been 72,843 fires in Brazil this year, marking an 83 percent increase since last year, and satellite images have spotted 9,507 new forest fires in the county — mostly in the Amazon basin — since Aug. 15, according to CNN and Reuters, both citing the INPE.
The Amazon, known as “the planet’s lungs,” produces 20 percent of Earth’s oxygen and is a key factor in combating climate change, CNN noted.
Organizers with the World Wildlife Fund have said that if the Amazon reaches “a point of no return,” it could begin emitting carbon, which is “the major driver for global climate change.”
‘Two-mouthed’ fish: New York angler catches ‘bizarrely beautiful’ trout Ryan W. Miller and Joel Banner Baird•When Debbie Geddes was reeling in her line, she knew she had a good catch. While she thought she had a big fish, she never expected a trout with two mouths.In a Facebook post that has since gone viral, a fish caught on Lake Champlain in upstate New York appears to have two mouths, fueling speculation about the one-of-a-kind catch.”When I was reeling it in, it felt like a good fish,” Geddes told USA TODAY. „I made the comment, ‘I hope this is as big as it feels.'”When Geddes and her husband actually saw the fish, they were shocked. „I had never seen anything like it,” Geddes said. The fish’s bottom „mouth” had been hooked, and it appeared to have a normal mouth on top and a gaping hole that connected to its body on the bottom.Geddes said the fish, a young lake trout, appeared to be in good health: „Obviously it was still trying to eat,” she added. She and her husband typically catch and release, but they made sure to take a few photos of the rare find first.Adam Facteau, who lives in Plattsburgh, is Geddes’ co-worker and posted a photo of the fish on his Facebook page, Knotty Boys Fishing, which he helps run for a group of local competitive bass fishers.Glow shark: Tiny shark species that squirts glow-in-the-dark liquid from its pockets discovered„It was bizarrely beautiful,” he said. „It’s definitely not fake. It is definitely real.”Geddes said she believes the fish may have been injured by another angler who ripped the bottom of its mouth when they pulled it in. Facteau said he’s seen other theories in the comments of the post, including that it could have a genetic defect or pollution from Canada and Vermont could have affected how its mouth attaches.‘Salmon Cannon’: Twitter is obsessed with the ‘Salmon Cannon,’ a tube that shoots fish over dams. Here’s how it works„That’s the cool part, no one really knows,” Facteau said. Geddes and Facteau both said they never expected to draw so much attention from the fish. „I’m astonished,” she said.The trout’s all-too-brief brush with humanity leaves plenty of room for speculation, agrees Ellen Marsden, a professor of fisheries at University of Vermont’s Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources.Debbie Geddes of Peru, NY, displays a trout she caught on Lake Champlain in this undated photo.But she’s quite certain, after looking at the pictures and discussing the trout with colleagues: „It’s definitely got two mandibles, two lower jaws.”Marsden, an expert in fish behavior in Lake Champlain, speculates that a random, embryonic mutation prompted the growth.Such departures from the normal happen fairly frequently in nature, she said, „but most are lethal.”Possibly a pollution-linked mutation?”I wouldn’t leap to that conclusion,” Marsden cautioned. „There are many, many causes for abnormalities.”Could it be an evolutionary advantage in the making?Unlikely: Trout rely on a streamlined, unblemished face for speed, she said.Still, Marsden is puzzled. How did Gedde’s two-mouthed trout adapt to its apparent handicap, especially while feeding?”It’s remarkable,” she said. „It’s really cool. And as a biologist, I really wish she’d kept that fish.”USA TODAY has reached out to New York’s Department of Environmental Conversation for comment.Follow Ryan Miller and Joel Banner Baird on Twitter @RyanW_Miller and @VTgoingUp.This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fish with two ‘mouths’ caught on Lake Champlain in New York
How an accidental encounter brought slavery to the United StatesRick Hampson•Four hundred years ago this summer, a few weeks and 35 miles apart, two epochal events occurred. One was the inaugural meeting of the General Assembly of the Virginia colony – the first elective representative body of its kind in North America.The other was the first recorded arrival of enslaved Africans in mainland English America.Slavery alongside democracy; oppression amidst freedom. The contradiction would shape the nation that emerged from the Virginia colony.How and why slavery, America’s original sin, came to these shores and took hold is a story of accident and coincidence. It didn’t have to happen the way it did.Not if a 17th-century Portuguese king hadn’t dreamed of a trans-African empire; if an obscure African kingdom had been more stable; if two pirate ships looking for gold hadn’t, in the vastness of the Gulf of Mexico, stumbled instead on a slave ship; if the pirates hadn’t sold the enslaved to settlers in a colony desperately short of labor.Slavery’s explosive growth, in charts: How ’20 and odd’ became millions And the story of where the enslaved people came from is one that most Americans have never heard and that historians in recent decades have had to radically alter.Once, scholars believed the first blacks to arrive in the Jamestown settlement probably came from the West Indies. Where they had originally come from in Africa was anyone’s guess.But two decades ago, a researcher found a shipping document in the Spanish national archives that told of a raid by two pirate ships in July 1619 on a slave ship, the San Juan Bautista, en route to Mexico. The pirates absconded with about 60 enslaved Africans.The timing coincided with the arrival in Virginia a month later of two ships, the White Lion and the Treasurer, carrying the enslaved whom the pirates sold to several leading settlers.The shipping document’s biggest revelation was the San Juan Bautista’s port of departure: what is today Angola.Share your story: Help record black history by leaving us a message Augmented reality experience: Step into the 1619 journey of America’s first enslaved Africans ‘The land of the dead’Seven thousand miles from Jamestown, on a rise overlooking the Atlantic just south of Angola’s capital city, Luanda, sits an old two-story white building. With a cross on its pediment and a sand-colored baptismal bowl inside, it might seem that its function, centuries ago, was sacred.But this was a slave-trading hall. Tens of thousands of people were forcibly baptized, marched out the door and eventually put on ships headed west toward what Europeans called the Americas and Angolans called “the land of the dead.’’In 1619, many of these enslaved Africans had been taken prisoner in Portugal’s war against the Kingdom of Ndongo, whose capital was about 150 miles inland.When the enslaved were marched from their homes, this was one of the slave trading halls where they were held until they could be transported into boats that sailed to the New World.It was part of a fight that the Portuguese king hoped would open a corridor to his colonies in East Africa. To this end, his governor forged an alliance with a group of fearsome nomadic African mercenaries who practiced cannibalism and infanticide.Weakened by decades of internal strife and battles with rival kingdoms, Ndongo succumbed. The mercenaries sacked the capital and took thousands of captives.The prisoners were marched to the coast. Adults were yoked together with forked tree branches; children too small to keep up were carried in bags. About a fifth of the captives died en route.Those who reached Luanda were branded and jammed into pens until there was room for them on one of 36 slave ships that left in 1619 for the New World, carrying a total of about 15,000 enslaved people. “Never in the history of the Atlantic slave trade would so many Africans from so small an area be taken in so short a time,’’ Tim Hashaw writes in his book „The Birth of Black America.”In May, about 350 Angolans were loaded onto the San Juan Bautista, chained head to foot below deck. They were headed for Mexico, and a life – probably short – of forced labor in mines.Though treated savagely, they were not savages. Ndongo had a long tradition of self-rule, with a sophisticated royal court and administrative bureaucracy. The population of Kabasa, the capital, approached 50,000. Many residents had been exposed to Europeans, and some knew Portuguese.A harrowing journeyThe San Juan Bautista transported enslaved Africans across the ocean before coming under attack in the Bay of Campeche. Privateers aboard the White Lion and the Treasurer took captured Africans north to Virginia, landing there in 1619.SOURCE slavevoyages.org Coming to America The Atlantic crossing of the San Juan Bautista was troubled even by the harsh standards of the Middle Passage; nearly half of the enslaved died by the time the ship reached the Gulf of Mexico.Then it was attacked by two English privateers – pirate ships licensed under a foreign flag of convenience – who were searching for gold and silver.The pirates found prisoners instead and took about 60 of the Africans and headed north toward Virginia, the closest port.According to a letter by tobacco planter John Rolfe (widower of Pocahontas), in late August a ship (the White Lion) landed in the 12-year-old Jamestown settlement. It “brought not anything but 20, and odd, Negroes, which the Governor and the Cape Merchant bought for victuals’’ – provisions.Some of the Africans were first identified by name in a 1624 census. They included an Anthony and an Isabella – names forced on them by the Europeans – who were part of the household of Captain William Tucker, a military commander and settler.The following year the two appear again in a census, this time along with “William theire Child Baptised’’ – the first identified child born of Africans parents on the mainland of English America.USA TODAY’s commitment: Why we went to Angola to tell the story of 1619 Although the colony had no law permitting or banning slavery, the Africans became slaves in fact, if not law. But slavery was not part of the original plan for the colony. The men who founded the Virginia Company of London had dueling visions – a community of planters versus a commercial and trading center, with a subspecialty in raiding Spanish shipping. Neither envisioned slavery as its linchpin.The slave trading hall is now the National Museum of Slavery in Morro Da Crus, Angola.Indeed, piracy was virtually the only way the Africans could have come to Virginia; the Portuguese and Spanish monopolized the Atlantic slave trade and had already transported about 500,000 enslaved to the Caribbean and Latin America.In 1619, with King James of England trying to improve relations with Spain, such raids were out of official favor. But the colony was too poor and laborers were too needed. Jamestown was on the verge of collapse; winter was known as “the starving time.’’ English colonies had disappeared before, and there was every indication this one could, too.Left, a historic illustration of the Brookes slave ship, on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The image shows the human cargo packed in accordance with government regulations outlined in the Regulated Slave Trade Act of 1788. Right, slave shackles from the late 17th century on display at the Hampton History Museum in Hampton, Virginia.‘Proper and cheap’ labor Some of the new arrivals were skilled at farming, herding or ironworking. And they arrived just as a new, sweeter strain of tobacco was becoming a profitable crop for export to England. As the governor of Bermuda wrote, slaves were “the most proper and cheap instruments’’ for raising tobacco.That still did not guarantee that Virginia would become dependent on slavery. In fact, the number of enslaved people declined over the next few years, probably because of disease, hunger or an Indian war. White servants comprised the bulk of the colony’s labor force into the 1670s.But for all the random contingencies of slavery’s arrival in Virginia, it took root with a vengeance because of broad underlying forces – an abundance of cheap land; the rise of cash crops; and a shortage of labor to harvest them. By the end of the century, the supply of white English subjects willing to work as indentured servants – contract workers – had collapsed.Samantha Lewis wipes away tears after reflecting on the As tobacco, rice and finally cotton exports boomed, the forced labor of the first Africans and their descendants helped fuel the Industrial Revolution. It also, as the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates points out, created the economic foundation for America’s ‘’great experiment in democracy.’’Continue the conversation: Get email updates about more stories like this And it all started in 1619, in Angola. Today, the old slave-trading hall outside the capital is a museum with whips and manacles and other artifacts of human bondage. You can stand in the same door through which the captives were marched off toward slavery in the New World.Relatively few Americans visit. But when the writer Christopher Hitchens did in the mid-1980s, he noticed outside the museum some pieces of tree bark with inscriptions in Spanish. They’d been left by black Cuban soldiers who’d come to fight in Angola’s civil war.Several bore the same inscription, as apt now as it was then: „We have come home.”Contributing: Deborah Barfield Berry Explore more 1619 stories Were Wanda Tucker’s ancestors America’s first slaves? A difficult search for answers in far-away AngolaThe founding family you’ve never heard of: The black Tuckers of Hampton, VirginiaSlavery’s explosive growth, in charts: How ’20 and odd’ became millions Augmented reality: Experience the harrowing journey of the first enslaved Africans to land in AmericaSlavery in America: Behind USA TODAY’s 1619 series on black historyBlack history 1619 project: Call our Google number, share your storyThis article originally appeared on USA TODAY: American slavery began in 1619: Project documents brutal journey