REHOVOT, Israel — With a hand on her chest, 82-year-old Rivka Fringeru battled back tears as she reeled off a list of names she has rarely voiced in the past 70 years: her father, Moshe, then her mother, Hava, and finally her two older brothers, Michael and Yisrael.
All perished in the Holocaust after the Harabju family from Dorohoi, Romania, was rounded up in 1944 and sent to ghettos and camps. Only Rivka and her brother Marco survived, and like many others, they spent the rest of their lives trying to move on and forget.
Now, Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial and museum, is asking them to remember.
Decades after the Holocaust, experts have documented the names of about 4.2 million of the roughly 6 million Jews who were killed by the Nazis in World War II, and officials are going door-to-door in a race to record the memories of elderly survivors before their stories are lost forever....
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 12:34
COSTA MESA, Calif. — A book about surfers in the early 1900s is expected to sell for about $40,000.
A copy of “The Surf Riders of Hawaii” will go before bidders Saturday at the Surfing Heritage Vintage Surf Auction. The auction will include more than 60 vintage surfboards and other items.
The book is one of eight made by hand by A.R. Gurrey Jr. between 1911 and 1915. Gurrey is considered the father of surf photography. The book helped spread surfing’s appeal from Hawaii to the mainland.
It is composed of six leaves of heavy brown woven paper, with eight mounted gelatin-silver photographs of native Hawaiians surfing Waikiki. Among them is Duke Kahanamoku, the Olympic medalist swimmer who helped popularize the sport....
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 12:33
TOKYO — Japan does not plan to revise past apologies to neighboring countries for atrocities committed by its Imperial Army before and during World War II, top government officials said Wednesday.
The comments by the chief government spokesman and the foreign minister appear intended to allay criticisms of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s earlier vows to revise the apologies, including an acknowledgement of sexual slavery during the war.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Japan recognizes the harm it caused during its invasion and occupation of much of Asia, and that it has repeatedly and clearly stated that position.
“The Abe government has expressed sincere condolences to all victims of the war, in and out of the country, and there is no change in that,” Suga told reporters. “We have repeatedly said we have no intention of making this a diplomatic and political issue, but I’m afraid this may not be fully understood.”...
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 12:27
SHARPSBURG, Md. — A Maryland producer is hoping an online campaign will help him create a documentary about annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial Illumination
Michael Wicklein recently started a campaign to raise $23,110 to help fund the documentary through the website Kickstarter. The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown reports (http://bit.ly/13yIK6e) that “Gods and Generals” author Jeff Shaara announced this week that he plans to match up to $5,000 in contributions to help fund the documentary.
Wicklein hopes to finish early next year after filming the 25th annual illumination. During the December event, volunteers place 23,000 luminarias at the battlefield to represent the casualties from the bloodiest single-day battle on American soil....
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 12:25
TOKYO — Japan has acknowledged that it conducted only a limited investigation before claiming there was no official evidence that its imperial troops coerced Asian women into sexual slavery before and during World War II.
A parliamentary statement signed Tuesday by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged the government had a set of documents produced by a postwar international military tribunal containing testimony by Japanese soldiers about abducting Chinese women as military sex slaves. That evidence apparently was not included in Japan’s only investigation of the issue, in 1991-1993.
Tuesday’s parliamentary statement also said documents showing forcible sex slavery may still exist. The statement did not say whether the government plans to consider the documents as evidence showing that troops had coerced women into sexual slavery.
Over the past two days, top officials of Abe’s conservative government have appeared to soften their stance on Japan’s past apologies to neighboring countries for wartime atrocities committed by the Imperial Army, saying Japan does not plan to revise them....
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 12:22
What do Bob Dylan, J.D Salinger, Harrison Ford, Jon Stewart, Barbara Walters, Barbara Hersey, and Leonard Nimoy all have in common, aside from being awesome?
They're all Jewish Americans.
May is Jewish American Heritage Month, and this year's theme is American Jews in entertainment.(With apologies to William Shatner, who was born in Canada, and judging by his acting he's probably not kosher anyway.)
Jewish American Heritage Month was established by presidential decree in 2006, after lobbying efforts by the Jewish Museum of Florida, the South Florida Jewish community, Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter (Fittingly, Manischewitz is one of the major corporate sponsors.)
The Library of Congress, the National Archives, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, the National Park Service, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum have partnered to create a website for JAHM, featuring selections from their digital collections on Jewish American history, oral histories, and online exhibits. NEH has its own collection of American Judaica on their EDSITEment! website, and the JAHM foundation has its own website, complete with a national events listing. They are also sponsored an essay contest for high school students and, in a nod to modernity, JAHM even has a dedicated Twitter feed.
And though the sequester has taken a bite out of cultural budgets in Washington, D.C. (unlike past years, there will be no White House reception for JAHM), the nation's capitol will still host a number of events to commemorate Jewish heritage. Some highlights:
Thursday, May 9, 7:00pm: Gerda Wasserman Klein, a Holocaust survivor who was the subject of the Academy Award-winning HBO documentary One Survivor Remembers, will discuss her life after a screening of the film. National Archives, William McGowan Theater.
Monday, May 13, noon: Documentary filmmaker Aviva Kempner will discuss The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, the baseball Hall of Famer known as “the Hebrew Hammer.” Library of Congress, Pickford Theater.
Thursday, Mary 16, 7:30pm: Pamela Nadell, chair of the history department at American University, will lead a discussion on Jacob Riis's landmark work of photojournalism How the Other Half Lives, which exposed the terrible living conditions in New York City's slums. American University.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 10:51
Celestine V, the hermit pope who set precedent for Benedict XVI, has been given a new face and fate by researchers who have examined his skeletal remains.
The last pontiff not chosen by a conclave — and the first to declare that a pope could rightfully resign — Celestine V is regarded as one of the Catholic Church’s most enigmatic popes.
His remains, kept in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L’Aquila, Italy, did not show his real face, but a wax mask with the likeness of Cardinal Carlo Confalonieri, the Archbishop of L’Aquila from 1941 to 1950....
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 - 08:47
Glenn Beck roused the National Rifle Association's annual convention this weekend with his attacks on New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but he also aroused criticism by a major Jewish group for depicting the mayor giving what appears to be a a Nazi salute.
The head of the Anti-Defamation League called Becks' comments "deeply offensive on so many levels," and B'nai B'rith called for Beck to apologize.
"Glenn Beck, the keynote speaker at the NRA's annual convention, trivializes the Holocaust when he compares New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to Adolf Hitler," B'nai B'rith told ABC News.
"The casual use of Nazi imagery or words serves to undermine the atrocities of the Holocaust. Glenn Beck should apologize," the organization said....
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 18:35
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco International Airport is not going to be renamed after slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk, after all.
Supervisor David Campos says he has abandoned the idea of putting a ballot measure on the city ballot asking voters to approve the name change he proposed in January....
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 16:07
LONDON — The Irish government is to reverse what has been described as a historic injustice by granting a pardon to soldiers who deserted their units to fight the Nazis in World War II.
An amnesty and immunity bill, scheduled to be enacted on Tuesday, includes an apology to some 5,000 men who faced post-war sanctions and ostracism after they quit the defense forces of neutral Ireland to join the allied war effort against Hitler.
The measure comes too late for most of the deserters — only about 100 are believed to be still alive — but it was welcomed by their families and supporters....
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 10:59
WASHINGTON — While most Americans have never seen Ernest Hemingway’s home in Cuba where he wrote some of his most famous books, a set of 2,000 recently digitized records delivered to the United States will give scholars and the public a fuller view of the Nobel Prize-winning novelist’s life.
A private U.S. foundation is working with Cuba to preserve more of Hemingway’s papers, books and belongings that have been kept at his home near Havana since he died in 1961. On Monday at the U.S. Capitol, U.S. Rep. James McGovern of Massachusetts and the Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation announced that 2,000 digital copies of Hemingway papers and materials will be transferred to Boston’s John F. Kennedy Library.
This is the first time anyone in the U.S. has been able to examine these items from the writer’s Cuban estate, Finca Vigia. The records include passports showing Hemingway’s travels and letters commenting on such works as his 1954 Nobel Prize-winning “The Old Man and the Sea.” An earlier digitization effort that opened 3,000 Hemingway files in 2008 uncovered fragments of manuscripts, including an alternate ending to “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and corrected proofs of “The Old Man and the Sea.”...
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 10:54
WASHINGTON — A request by the Bulgarian Embassy to name a Washington intersection after a favorite native son — a man credited with helping save the country’s Jewish population from deportation — has gotten tangled up in a broader debate about whether the nation is accurately accounting for the actions of its leaders during the Holocaust.
A tense exchange between the embassy and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has played out behind the scenes as the D.C. Council prepares to consider honoring Dimitar Peshev this month. The debate underscores not only the complexities of Holocaust history but also the difficulty countries can face reconciling the heroic deeds of an individual during World War II with the record of a nation as a whole. It also comes as historians and Jewish organizations continue encouraging nations to take unvarnished stock of their actions in Nazi-era Europe....
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 10:48
A historian claims he has found the site of a Dutch settlement about 100 kilometres north of Perth, that pre-dates the First Fleet.
Henry Van Zanden believes the survivors from the Dutch shipwreck Gilt Dragon in 1656 came ashore and started a tribe which may have thrived into the 19th century.
A so-called white tribe was mentioned in a newspaper report in the 1830s but it has often been dismissed as a hoax.
Mr Van Zanden believes it refers to the group of 68 survivors of the Gilt Dragon who disappeared after coming ashore....
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 10:06
Coded letters sent from a British prisoner of war to his parents in Cornwall have been deciphered thanks to academics at Plymouth University.
Sub Lt John Pryor was captured at Dunkirk in 1940 and sent to a German prisoner of war (PoW) camp.
He was held for the next five years but as a reward for good behaviour he was allowed to send letters home to his parents in Saltash.
Those letters contained secret messages for the British military.
The research began after military intelligence expert Barbara Bond, a pro-chancellor at the university, heard about the letters from Sub Lt Pryor's son Stephen, a university governor....
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 09:57
Richard Bridges seemed like a typical college kid in his letters home: He tells his family he may need more money and definitely more clothes, talks about hanging out with old friends from home and sounds a little homesick at times.
Through his letters, this one-time University of Mississippi student has returned to the Oxford campus 150 years later.
Mike Martin of Madison, his sister Pat Owen of Rankin County and two of their cousins in Memphis — Bridges’ great-great nephews and nieces — recently donated to the university the 27 letters that Bridges wrote when he served in the University Greys, the unit organized by students to fight in the Civil War....
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 - 09:56
“None of us know the Lord’s will,” Burtis J. “Bert” Dolan wrote to his wife about his journey on the new airship, the Hindenburg. He had purchased his ticket for the trip on May 1, 1937, two days before setting off from Frankfurt, Germany. It cost him 1,000 RM, equivalent to about $450 during the Great Depression, according to the National Postal Museum. His ticket survived the disaster on May 6, 1937. He did not. He died, along with 35 others.
The exhibit, “Fire and Ice,” which opened in spring 2012 for the 75th anniversary, included never-before-seen discoveries like the map of the Hindenburg’s route across the Atlantic, but now, thanks to the Dolan family, it will also include what may be the only surviving passenger ticket from the disaster....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 16:23
A LEAN FIGURE cast in bronze kneels beside a child, a tiny lancet in his hand poised to strike at the girl’s left shoulder. Another patient waits her turn, upper arm revealed. The memorial, outside the World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, celebrates the global conquest of smallpox in 1980, a milestone that belongs on any list of reasons to be cheerful: Variola major gorged on our species for thousands of years, blazing a trail of hideous pustules that disfigured victims’ bodies and faces and wiped out communities. Children and the elderly were especially vulnerable, and those not felled by the disease were sometimes blinded by it.
The Geneva memorial honours the physician as warrior in the eradication of smallpox. On a Pfizer campus in Pennsylvania, a twin statue tells a different story, positioning Big Pharma as the hero. Neither monument, however, recalls the many casualties of smallpox, and this says a great deal about what we choose to remember.
One of the last major outbreaks in Canada began in the spring of 1862 when a ship from San Francisco arrived in Victoria and patient zero stepped ashore. Throughout the summer and autumn, smallpox raced north and east, up the coast and inland through canyons of tightly packed settlements that were perfectly suited to its appetite....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 16:10
If it had not been for a crushingly bad stroke of luck, Christopher Carlyon would likely be remembered as one of aviation’s greatest pioneers.
As it was, the colliery worker from south Wales became one of history’s nearly men when a storm smashed his experimental aircraft before its first major flight, robbing him of a place in the record books.
More than 100 years on though, his biplane is being built from scratch finally to take to the skies – or at least 10ft off the ground – and ensure Carlyon gets the recognition he deserves....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 15:41
Languages spoken by billions of people across Europe and Asia are descended from an ancient tongue uttered in southern Europe at the end of the last ice age, according to research.
The claim, by scientists in Britain, points to a common origin for vocabularies as varied as English and Urdu, Japanese and Itelmen, a language spoken along the north-eastern edge of Russia.
The ancestral language, spoken at least 15,000 years ago, gave rise to seven more that formed an ancient Eurasiatic "superfamily", the researchers say. These in turn split into languages now spoken all over Eurasia, from Portugal to Siberia.
"Everybody in Eurasia can trace their linguistic ancestry back to a group, or groups, of people living around 15,000 years ago, probably in southern Europe, as the ice sheets were retreating," said Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at Reading University....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 15:32
A 93-year-old man who was deported from the US for lying about his Nazi past was arrested by German authorities on Monday on allegations he served as an Auschwitz death camp guard, Stuttgart prosecutors said.
Hans Lipschis was taken into custody after authorities concluded there was "compelling evidence" he was involved in crimes at Auschwitz while posted there from 1941 to 1945, prosecutor Claudia Krauth said.
Lipschis has acknowledged being assigned to an SS guard unit at Auschwitz but maintains he only served as a cook and was not involved in any war crimes....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 15:24
NEW YORK — It may be the first time a dead dinosaur is flying for free.
U.S. authorities in New York are returning a 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus skeleton to the Mongolian government this week.
The artifact will be flown to its native land free of charge via Korean Air, U.S. and Mongolian officials said Monday while announcing the repatriation of the priceless artifact.
"We are very pleased to have played a pivotal role in returning Mongolia's million-dollar baby," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. "Of course, that million-dollar price tag, as high as it is, doesn't begin to describe the true value of an ancient artifact that is part of the fabric of a country's natural history and cultural heritage."...
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 15:17
NUEVA GERMANIA, Paraguay — The year was 1887 when two of the best-known German anti-Semites of the time put down stakes here in Paraguay’s remote jungle with 14 German families screened for their racial purity.
The team of Bernhard Förster and his wife, Elisabeth, the sister of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, had an ambitious plan: nothing less than the establishment of a colony from which an advance contingent of Aryans could forge a claim to the entire South American continent.
But the continent had other plans for this new Fatherland....
While there are still a few blond-haired children running around, after generations of intermarriage, many of the town’s 4,300 residents have German surnames but are indiscernible from other Paraguayans. Nueva Germania’s dominant language is Guaraní, the indigenous language widely spoken in Paraguay; even those families who still hew to old ways, speaking German at home, mix it with high-pitched, nasal Guaraní and some Spanish....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 15:13
Long before Austin became a bustling hub of live music, technology and food trucks, it was a simple capital city, dominated by politicians and lobbyists. That city was the Austin of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s day. Though Johnson did not live in Austin for much of his life, the city made a mark on him from an early age. He was only 10 when he began accompanying his father, a state representative, to the Capitol, where he became enchanted with the legislative process.
Johnson returned to the city frequently for the rest of his life, often for politics but also for refuge.
“As soon as father landed in Austin, he began to feel relief,” said Luci Baines Johnson, 65, the president’s younger daughter. “Two days in the Hill Country did more for his soul than two weeks in the Caribbean would’ve done.”...
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 15:11
Beirut — A Shiite king ruled northern Syria more than a millennium ago from behind the towering walls of the citadel in the city of Aleppo. In later centuries, Arab armies repelled medieval crusaders from the hilltop fortress, Mongol invaders damaged it and Ottomans used it as a military barracks.
By 2011, the citadel had settled into what seemed a comfortable retirement as a UNESCO world heritage site and tourist attraction, illuminated at night by artistic ground lights and surrounded below by the bustling cafes of Aleppo’s old city.
But today, in the third year of a bloody civil war that has killed more than 70,000 Syrians, the hulking citadel has resumed its strategic role of earlier eras. President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have taken position in it to shell their enemies, and Syrian opposition fighters say they are desperate to capture it. For both sides, what was true in war then is true now: Those who control the citadel have the power to alter the front lines....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 15:03
JERUSALEM – An ancient limestone tablet covered with a mysterious Hebrew text that features the archangel Gabriel is at the center of a new exhibit in Jerusalem, even as scholars continue to argue about what it means.
The so-called Gabriel Stone, a meter (three-foot)-tall tablet said to have been found 13 years ago on the banks of the Dead Sea, features 87 lines of an unknown prophetic text dated as early as the first century BC, at the time of the Second Jewish Temple.
Scholars see it as a portal into the religious ideas circulating in the Holy Land in the era when was Jesus was born. Its form is also unique -- it is ink written on stone, not carved -- and no other such religious text has been found in the region....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 13:36
In a 2012 speech to the New York Rifle & Pistol Association, where he also refers to President Obama as a “fake president” and calls Attorney General Eric Holder “rabidly unAmerican,” incoming National Rifle Association President Jim Porter applied an odd label to the war that ended slavery in the United States and put down the single greatest act of treason in our nation’s history:
The NRA was started, 1871, right here in New York state. It was started by some Yankee generals who didn’t like the way my southern boys had the ability to shoot in what we call the “War of Northern Aggression.” Now, y’all might call it the Civil War, but we call it the War of Northern Aggression down south.
But that was the very reason that they started the National Rifle Association, was to teach and train the civilian in the use of the standard military firearm. And I am one who still feels very strongly that that is one of our most greatest charges that we can have today, is to train the civilian in the use of the standard military firearm, so that when they have to fight for their country they’re ready to do it. Also, when they’re ready to fight tyranny, they’re ready to do it. Also, when they’re ready to fight tyranny, they have the wherewithal and the weapons to do it....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 13:31
NEW YORK (AP) — Faced with hefty operating costs, the foundation building the 9/11 museum at the World Trade Center has decided to charge an admission fee of $20 to $25 when the site opens next year.
The exact cost of the mandatory fee has not yet been decided.
Entry to the memorial plaza with its twin reflecting pools still will be free.
The decision to charge for the underground museum housing relics of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has been greeted with dismay by some relatives of 9/11 victims....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 11:54
No trace of the Hanging Garden has ever been found in Babylon for the simple reason that this wonder of the ancient world was never there in the first place, according to an Oxford researcher.
Instead, the Hanging Garden was actually created 300 miles further north in Ninevah, a feat of artistic prowess achieved by the Assyrian civilisation under King Sennacherib, writes Stephanie Daley, a Research Fellow at Somerville College, Oxford.
For centuries, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia, has been credited with the birth of a lavishly watered paradise in the fertile crescent of what is now central Iraq in the 6th century BC.
But there is one problem: no remains of the Hanging Garden have ever been found in Babylon. When a German team spent 19 years excavating the site during the last century, Ms Daley writes that they "expected to find inscriptions of Nebuchadnezzar confirming that he built the garden"....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 10:13
For nearly a century it has stood as a monument to the sacrifice of those killed in the First World War.
Now the Cenotaph in London will undergo a restoration ahead of the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.
The monument is one of hundreds being cleaned and repaired in readiness for the anniversary next year.
The £60,000 work on the Cenotaph, which started last week, is being paid for by English Heritage, which is also funding work on scores of other memorials....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 10:09
Historians and campaigners have also criticised the tone of the plans unveiled so far; they believe politicians and officials are focusing too much on British defeats and the carnage and futility of the war, because they are too anxious to avoid upsetting Germans and want to make sure the events are not considered triumphalist.
However, the critics argue that by doing so, the Government is presenting only the modern, orthodox view of the conflict: that it was avoidable and unnecessary. It thus ignores arguments that, like the Second World War, it was a fight for survival.
They say that under the current plans, the Government has missed an opportunity to explain why the war was fought and failed fully to recognise the achievement of British forces.
The historians also compare the proposals unfavourably with more ambitious events being organised by Australia, Canada and New Zealand, whose men fought alongside the British....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 10:07
Less than two months after British forces captured Savannah in December 1778, patriot militiamen scored a rare Revolutionary War victory in Georgia after a short but violent gunbattle forced British loyalists to abandon a small fort built on a frontiersman's cattle farm.
More than 234 years later, archaeologists say they've pinpointed the location of Carr's Fort in northeastern Georgia after a search with metal detectors covering more than 4 square miles turned up musket balls and rifle parts as well as horse shoes and old frying pans.
The February 1779 shootout at Carr's Fort turned back men sent to Wilkes County to recruit colonists loyal to the British army. It was also a prelude to the more prominent battle of Kettle Creek, where the same patriot fighters who attacked the fort went on to ambush and decimate an advancing British force of roughly 800 men....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 10:05
...[A]stronomers say they know why [Confederate troops] couldn't identify [Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville] — it's all because of the moon. Astronomer Don Olson of Texas State University and Laurie E. Jasinski, a researcher and editor at the Texas State Historical Association, report their findings in the May 2013 issue of Sky & Telescope magazine.
"I remembered reading long ago that Stonewall Jackson was wounded by 'friendly fire' and that it happened at night," Olson told SPACE.com in an email. Olson decided to pursue the mystery on the occasion of the battle's 150th anniversary.
Olson and Jasinski calculated the moon's position and the lunar phase using astronomical software, and figured out exactly where Jackson's party, as well as the 18th North Carolina regiment, would have been at the time of the shooting, around 9 p.m. that night. They used Confederate almanacs in Richmond at the Virginia Historical Society, as well as battle maps by Robert Krick, a military historian who is an expert on the Battle of Chancellorsville, Stonewall Jackson and the Civil War in Virginia....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 10:03
The first evidence of agriculture appears in the archaeological record some 10,000 years ago. But the skills needed to cultivate and harvest crops weren't learned overnight. Scientists have traced these roots back to 23,000-year-old tools used to grind seeds, found mostly in the Middle East.
Now, research lead by Li Liu, a professor of Chinese archaeology at Stanford, reveals that the same types of tools were used to process seeds and tubers in northern China, setting China's agricultural clock back about 12,000 years and putting it on par with activity in the Middle East. Liu believes that the practices evolved independently, possibly as a global response to a changing climate.
The earliest grinding stones have been found in Upper Paleolithic archaeological sites around the world. These consisted of a pair of stones, typically a handheld stone that would be rubbed against a larger, flat stone set on the ground, to process wild seeds and tubers into flour-like powder....
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 10:00
Sidi Lamine gently opens the creaky wooden door that leads to his collection of manuscripts. Housed in a dark, windowless room, hundreds of medieval texts line handsome wooden bookshelves that reach to the ceiling. A musty smell lingers over everything. On an ornate table under dusty glass rest the rarest books in his collection, several of which he quietly mentions were written in 1010.
"I haven't visited this room in more than 10 months," he says, "because I was scared the Islamists would know that I have manuscripts like these, and they would destroy them. I thank God they are still OK."
Mr. Lamine, who says he's at least 70 years old and has been helping to preserve the texts since he was 10, recounts how Islamist militants took over this city recently, threatening the precious works. "Under the occupation," he says, "Islamists found families with manuscripts, and those manuscripts have not been seen since."...
Monday, May 6, 2013 - 09:45
To those who knew him, or thought they knew him, he was a cerebral, fun-loving gadfly who hosted boozy gatherings for Hollywood's political conservatives. David Stein brought right-wing congressmen, celebrities, writers and entertainment industry figures together for shindigs, closed to outsiders, where they could scorn liberals and proclaim their true beliefs.
Over the past five years Stein's organisation, Republican Party Animals, drew hundreds to regular events in and around Los Angeles, making him a darling of conservative blogs and talkshows. That he made respected documentaries on the Holocaust added intellectual cachet and Jewish support to Stein's cocktail of politics, irreverence and rock and roll.
There was just one problem. Stein was not who he claimed. His real name can be revealed for the first time publicly – a close circle of confidants only found out the truth recently – as David Cole. And under that name he was once a reviled Holocaust revisionist who questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers. He changed identities in January 1998....
Sunday, May 5, 2013 - 17:20
Though the Alabama Legislature has cleared the way for posthumous pardons of the Scottsboro Boys, much work — from legal documents to public hearings — remains before the names of the nine black teens wrongly convicted more than 80 years ago are officially cleared.
The Scottsboro Boys were convicted by all-white juries of raping two white women on a train in Alabama in 1931. All but the youngest were sentenced to death, even though one of the women recanted her story. All eventually got out of prison. Only one received a pardon before he died.
The case became a symbol of the tragedies wrought by racial injustice. It inspired songs, books and films. A Broadway musical was staged in 2010, the same year Washington opened a museum dedicated to the case. The Scottsboro Boys' appeals resulted in U.S. Supreme Court decisions that criminal defendants are entitled to effective counsel and that blacks can't be systematically excluded from criminal juries....
Saturday, May 4, 2013 - 14:33
Hidden beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, archaeologists have discovered a 1,700-year-old Roman cemetery that seemed to show no religious bias.
The new discovery, found at the junction of Newarke and Oxford Streets, includes numerous burials and skeletal remains from 13 individuals, both male and female of various ages. The cemetery is estimated to date back to around A.D. 300, according to University of Leicester archaeologists who led the dig.
"We have literally only just finished the excavation and the finds are currently in the process of being cleaned and catalogued so that theycan then be analyzed by the various specialists," John Thomas, archaeological project officer, told LiveScience in an email....
Friday, May 3, 2013 - 14:58
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Preservationists working on a Renaissance fresco in the Vatican have uncovered what experts believe is the first European representation of Native Americans, from 1494.
Writing on April 27 in the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, the director of the Vatican Museum, Antonio Paolucci, said the previously unnoticed detail was discovered in a Resurrection scene painted by the Renaissance master Pinturicchio.
Covered by centuries of soot, the restoration of the painting revealed a small depiction of naked men with feathered headdresses who appear to be dancing. A man on horseback is also visible....
Friday, May 3, 2013 - 11:48
HARGEISA, Somaliland — The world’s most famous prehistoric art is in caverns in Europe, but the most recently discovered ancient cave paintings are in a country no other nation recognizes in a region of Africa associated mostly with terrorism, pirates and famine.
The Laas Geel cave paintings in Somaliland in the Horn of Africa are not as old or famous as the art in France’s Lascaux or Spain’s Altamira caves, but the quality is just as good, archaeologists say.
Unlike the European caves, however, Laas Geel has no chance of international protection as a site on the UNESCO World Heritage List because of the region’s complicated diplomatic situation....
Thursday, May 2, 2013 - 09:38
More than three decades ago, David Rumsey began building a map collection. By the mid-90s he had thousands and thousands of maps to call his own -- and his alone. He wanted to share them with the public.
He could have donated them to the Library of Congress, but Rumsey had even bigger ideas: the Internet. "With (some) institutions, the access you can get is not nearly as much as the Internet might provide," Rumsey told Wired more than a decade ago. "I realized I could reach a much larger audience with the Internet."
Bit by bit, Rumsey digitized his collection -- up to 38,000 maps and other items -- along the way developing software that made it easier for people to explore the maps and 3D objects such as globes online. Today, the Digital Public Library of America announced that Rumsey's collection would now be available through the DPLA portal, placing the maps into the deeper and broader context of the DPLA's other holdings....
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 23:10
Content on the Internet is ephemeral. A website can be online one minute, and taken down the next. As permanent as we think our Internet footprints are, the Web is perpetually changing. Much of the early Internet has been lost.
One very important webpage, however, has been rescued from history. Yesterday, European particle physics laboratory CERN returned the first ever Internet website to its rightful place on the Web.
Originally created by CERN in 1992, the world’s first website invokes a time long past when pages were just plain text on a white background. There are no advertisements, no pictures, and certainly no video. It’s an entirely utilitarian site rendered in Times New Roman, the most default of fonts....
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 22:15
On Saturday evening, I was a very happy attendee of the Computer History Museum’s Fellow Awards, an inspiring annual event which celebrates the contributions of individuals whose work has changed the course of computing history. Three people were honored this year: Ed Catmull, Harry Huskey and Bob Taylor.
Ed Catmull, as I knew, started out as a computer graphics scientist, became one of the founders of Pixar and is now the president of both that extraordinary company and Walt Disney Feature Animation. I was also well aware that Bob Taylor headed up the research efforts at ARPA and Xerox PARC which produced the Internet, the modern graphical user interface, Ethernet, the laser printer and other utterly essential technologies.
But Harry Huskey? I’d never heard of the man. Turns out that he did an awful lot — and, having been born in 1916, he did much of it in the very early days of the computing industry, even before the word “computer” came into use....
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 22:13
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A top literary journal founded in 1925 has hired a Library of Congress director to be its new editor.
The Virginia Quarterly Review announced Wednesday that W. Ralph Eubanks will take over as editor, effective June 3....
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 21:43
BERLIN — They were feasts of sublime asparagus — laced with fear. And for more than half a century, Margot Woelk kept her secret hidden from the world, even from her husband. Then, a few months after her 95th birthday, she revealed the truth about her wartime role: Adolf Hitler’s food taster.
Woelk, then in her mid-twenties, spent two and a half years as one of 15 young women who sampled Hitler’s food to make sure it wasn’t poisoned before it was served to the Nazi leader in his “Wolf’s Lair,” the heavily guarded command center in what is now Poland, where he spent much of his time in the final years of World War II.
“He was a vegetarian. He never ate any meat during the entire time I was there,” Woelk said of the Nazi leader. “And Hitler was so paranoid that the British would poison him — that’s why he had 15 girls taste the food before he ate it himself.”...
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 21:34
NEW YORK — Using a pulley system and sheer brawn, police removed a suspected 9/11 plane part from between two buildings near the World Trade Center site, and the medical examiner said no potential human remains had been found there.
About a dozen officers raised the jagged, 255-pound metal piece, which contains cranks, levers and bolts from the ground. They took it over a three-story wall, lowered it into a courtyard and they carried it through the basement of a planned mosque, where it was discovered by an inspector last week.
Onlookers across the street took pictures as they heaved it onto a truck taking it to a Brooklyn police facility. The process took about two hours....
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 21:31
The first chops, to the forehead, did not go through the bone and are perhaps evidence of hesitancy about the task. The next set, after the body was rolled over, were more effective. One cut split the skull all the way to the base.
“The person is truly figuring it out as they go,” said Douglas Owsley, a physical anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution.
In the meantime, someone — perhaps with more experience — was working on a leg. The tibia bone is broken with a single blow, as one might do in butchering a cow.
That’s one possible version of an event that took place sometime during the winter of 1609-1610 in Jamestown. What’s not in doubt is that some members of that desperate colony resorted to cannibalism in order to survive....
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 12:33
NEW YORK — The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem have jointly acquired a 15th-century illuminated Hebrew manuscript, they announced Monday.
The Mishneh Torah is a rare manuscript with text by the Middle Ages Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides. It is a synthesis of Jewish law and the second of a two-volume manuscript featuring six large illustrations plus 32 smaller images and marginal decorations. The first volume is housed in the Vatican.
The two institutions said they would share the Mishneh Torah on a rotating basis.
The manuscript was created in 1457 in the style of Northern Italian Renaissance miniature painting. It was restored at the conservation lab of the Israel Museum, where it has been on loan since 2007 and on public view since 2010....
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 09:36
For centuries, the Japanese have identified with Mt. Fuji in a way few other nationalities have revered a single landmark. The iconic volcano has been at the center of Japanese art, spiritual worship and geographical orientation, while seeming to keep a watchful eye on the nation’s capital from a distance.
For many foreigners, too, the majestic mountain holds a great allure, with a sighting of its exquisite curving lines almost serving to authenticate a visit to Japan.
Now the 3,776 meter peak and surrounding associated sites are headed for official global recognition. The United Nations cultural organization UNESCO is set to approve Mt. Fuji as a World Heritage site when it meets in June, Japan’s Cultural Affairs Agency said late Tuesday....
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 09:18
DETROIT — When Eva Nelson-McClendon first moved to Detroit’s Birwood Street in 1959, she didn’t know much about the wall across the street. At 6 feet tall and a foot thick, it wasn’t so imposing, running as it did between houses on her street and one over. Then she started to hear the talk.
Neighbors told her the wall was built two decades earlier with a simple aim: to separate homes planned for middle-class whites from blacks who had already built small houses or owned land with plans to build.
“That was the division line,” Nelson-McClendon, now, 79, says from the kitchen of her tidy, one-story home on the city’s northwest side. “Blacks lived on this side, whites was living on the other side. ... That was the way it was.”
That’s not the way it is anymore. But the wall remains, a physical embodiment of racial attitudes that the country long ago started trying to move beyond....
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 09:12
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A small patch of prairie sits largely unnoticed off a desolate road in southwestern South Dakota, tucked amid gently rolling hills and surrounded by dilapidated structures and hundreds of gravesites — many belonging to Native Americans massacred more than a century earlier.
The assessed value of the property: less than $14,000. The seller’s asking price: $4.9 million.
Tribal members say the man who owns a piece of the Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is trying to profit from their suffering. It was there, on Dec. 29, 1890, that 300 Native American men, women and children were killed by the 7th Cavalry in the final battle of the American Indian Wars....
Wednesday, May 1, 2013 - 09:08