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This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used.
This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used. Because most of our readers read the NYT we usually do not include the paper's stories in HIGHLIGHTS.
Name of source: Chronicle of Higher Education
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (9-7-06)
The archives drew fire last April, when an audit report revealed that it had struck agreements with other federal agencies, such as the Air Force and the Central Intelligence Agency, to remove and reclassify documents, leaving no record that they had once been freely available to researchers.
At the time, the archivist, Allen Weinstein, promised to stop making secret agreements on document withdrawals (The Chronicle, April 19). Mr. Weinstein, a former professor who had only recently become the archivist, also pledged to work with federal agencies on improving declassification practices. As part of that work, the archives started the National Declassification Initiative.
In a progress report released on Wednesday, Mr. Weinstein said that only seven documents had been withdrawn from open shelves since April 26, and the withdrawals are all noted in open files. One of those documents was later declassified and put back on the shelf for public access, according to a news release.
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (9-2-06)
Allen said he recalls little of the stories he was told as a child about his grandfather Luther Price, a fair-skinned black postmaster who ran a general store in a black neighborhood at the turn of the last century. But he remembers being scared to death of the stories _ and of the South.
"I thought the South was the most horrible place in the world," said the 64-year-old now living in Asheville, N.C., whose family moved to New England after the riot.
"I didn't want anything to do with the South. I thought it was primi tive, backward," he said.
A century ago, on a hot September Saturday, many of Atlanta's blacks and whites started to riot in a bloody downtown battle that would become known as the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot. The situation exploded after months of hostility between the races in the city fueled by state politics and local media, which conjured stories of black men attacking white women.
SOURCE: AP (9-5-06)
In both cases, it was the right decision to fight and see the wars through, Rice, who is black and is from Alabama, said in an interview with Essence Magazine.
Asked if she still thought the decision to go to war in Iraq in 2003 was right, considering the cost in lives and treasure, Rice said, "Absolutely."
Rice then offered a parallel between critics of the administration's Iraq policies and "people who thought it was a mistake to fight the Civil War (in this country) to its end and to insist that the emancipation of slaves would hold."
"I'm sure that there were people who said, "why don't we get out of this now, take a peace with the South, but leave the South with slaves."
"Just because things are difficult, it does't mean that they are wrong or that you turn back," Rice told the magazine, which has a large audience among African-Americans.
Rice, a former academic, said she spent the summer reading biographies of the Founding Fathers and said she was certain "there were people who thought the Declaration of Independence was a mistake" as well.
SOURCE: AP (9-2-06)
The furry puppet, created by Jim Henson and used on television in the 1970s and 1980s, is among tens of thousands of exhibits and artifacts that will be carefully stored as the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History prepares for a massive, two-year renovation.
The museum closes Tuesday, and it has been buzzing with activity. Many items in the way of the construction will be relocated to the building's wings, where they will be protected from the dust. They include Oscar, the first ladies' evening gowns and 4,000 lighting devices dating from the early 17th century.
"It's similar to moving your china cabinet, but not really," associate curator Stephen Velasquez said with a laugh, after spending most of August moving the lighting devices to temporary storage space in a former gallery. "We very carefully, emphasize carefully, transfer each object."
Protecting the museum's massive collection has been an enormous undertaking. Most tourists see only a small percentage of the museum's 3.5 million items, like the Star-Spangled Banner, the 30- by 42-foot flag that inspired the words for the national anthem.
Many of the items were already stored at the museum and at facilities in suburban Virginia and Maryland; others are part of exhibits on loan to the Smithsonian's partners.
And even as the museum searches for enough storage space--it's still collecting items.
Simply put, "we collect stuff," said William Yeingst, chair and curator of the museum's division of Home and Community Life.
Curators and conservators have been making plans for more than six months, and it can take weeks to move a vast collection of silver tea sets, flatware and ordinary Tupperware into temporary storage.
As for the Star-Spangled Banner, it will be carefully rolled up and placed in a crate. And Oscar the Grouch should be safe with extra padding inside his body to prevent any new wrinkles on the aging puppet.
The biggest construction worries for conservationists are humidity and temperature changes, excessive dust and potential vibrations from the construction. Several objects are so large they will have to be protected in place.
The largest artifact is a 21/2-story timber-framed house that stood for 200 years in Massachusetts. It is now just inches from the museum construction zone, so museum staff members will build a plywood box around it, with hopes that building vibrations don't cause damage. Seismographs will be used to monitor the area.
"There are no standards in the conservation field for vibrations," said Richard Barden, the museum's chief conservator. "This is a good test case."
The exact relocation and storage costs aren't available, but they have been imbedded in the museum's operating budget and in the $85 million renovation project.
The renovation comes four years after a blue-ribbon commission report sharply criticized the museum's layout and presentation--calling them confusing.
So, starting this fall, workers will slice through five floors of the building to create a new skylight and atrium that will be the core of the new exhibition space scheduled to open in 2008. The Star-Spangled Banner will be the centerpiece, with a dramatic new gallery that will use special lighting to depict "the dawn's early light."
Designers will also add new exhibit walls and open spaces to make the country's largest history museum easier to navigate.
The project will bring the most significant changes since the museum opened in 1964 as the Museum of History and Technology.
"It's a very exciting time for the museum," Yeingst said. "It's not often a museum goes through this kind of change."
Several exhibits already have closed, including "The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden" gallery and the popular "First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image" exhibit. Eight gowns from former first ladies remain on temporary display until Tuesday.
Some of the most popular objects are being cleaned and prepared for exhibition elsewhere while the museum is closed. Dorothy's ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz" will be part of the exhibit opening Nov. 17 at the nearby National Air and Space Museum, along with R2D2 and C3PO from "Star Wars," President Lincoln's top hat and new artifacts from Hurricane Katrina.
Labor Day is the last chance to see the museum before its closing. Beth Austin, an American who lives with her husband and children just outside of Paris, made it just in time with her youngest daughter, 10-year-old Chloe.
"I thought this would be a good time to bring her down to see some significant Americana," Austin said on a recent visit. "When in her regular French life does anyone talk about the Star Spangled Banner?"
Name of source: Hartford Courant
SOURCE: Hartford Courant (9-5-06)
The rule of thumb among educators is that most editions of history textbooks last five to 10 years before a school system replaces them. By that formula, it's reasonable to assume that plenty of students are studying from books that deal with the events of 9/11 and its five-year aftermath. The significance of this is that an event's treatment in the news changes daily, but a textbook's handling of it can become the interpretation of record for a generation.
ut how to write about something that hasn't reached its conclusion? Or about something so politically and culturally charged that any interpretation is bound to meet objections?
"To be honest, I would say that writing about 9/11 isn't all that different from other emotionally and politically charged events, such as the Civil War, Pearl Harbor, the Vietnam War and so forth," Lizabeth Cohen says in an e-mail.
One of the authors of the high school-level "The Brief American Pageant," Cohen acknowledges that it is challenging to write about something everyone still remembers vividly. But even events from the distant past still stir strong opinions, she says. ...
James W. Loewen, author of "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong," says the history books' treatment of 9/11 is in step with everything else wrong with textbooks: It's boring.
"One of the reasons that American history textbooks are so boring is that they don't really have a storyline," he says.
It's all facts and no analysis. "The books don't treat the question `Why?'" he says. "For example, why did the terrorists attack the U.S. - why not Sweden? That's a reasonable question."...
Name of source: Secrecy News, written by Steven Aftergood, is published by the Federation of American Scientists
This so-called"sole organ" doctrine has frequently been invoked by the executive branch"to define presidential power broadly in foreign relations and national security, including assertions of an inherent executive power that is not subject to legislative or judicial constraints," writes constitutional scholar Louis Fisher in a new Law Library of Congress study.
"When read in context, however, Marshall's speech does not support an independent, extra-constitutional or exclusive power of the President in foreign relations."
"The concept of an Executive having sole power over foreign relations borrows from other sources, including the British model of a royal prerogative," Fisher concludes.
Fisher's analysis of the sole organ doctrine is the first in a series of new studies of inherent presidential power prepared at the request of Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV). A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.
See"The 'Sole Organ' Doctrine" by Louis Fisher, Law Library of Congress, Studies on Presidential Power in Foreign Relations, Study No. 1, August 2006.
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (9-7-06)
The letters ask that the five-hour movie, scheduled for broadcast Sunday and Monday, be either edited for accuracy or canceled, and ABC gave a small indication yesterday that some changes might be made.
One of the officials, former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, said in her letter to the Disney executive, Robert A. Iger, that although she had requested a copy of the film, ABC had not given her one. But, Ms. Albright said, she has been told by people who have seen it that it “depicts scenes that never happened, events that never took place, decisions that were never made and conversations that never occurred.”
“It asserts as fact things that are not fact,” she wrote.
The concerns of Ms. Albright, as well as those expressed in letters from Samuel R. Berger, former national security adviser, and Bruce R. Lindsey, a Clinton White House aide now with the Clinton Foundation, were echoed yesterday by several Democratic members of Congress.
SOURCE: NYT (9-7-06)
But why do between a quarter and a third of voters, according to recent opinion polls, agree with him? One reason is history.
After decades of one-party rule sustained by fraudulent elections, many Mexicans still deeply distrust their institutions and courts. But it is also because Mexicans have a very different notion of electoral fraud than voters in the United States, a notion that goes beyond stuffing ballot boxes.
That is not to say that there was no hint of conventional fraud.
Mr. López Obrador pointed out that more than half of the tally sheets from the nation’s 130,000 election precincts contained errors in arithmetic, a sign of widespread incompetence among poll workers or of extra ballots magically appearing in some boxes and disappearing from others.
The seven-member electoral tribunal rejected that argument, chalking up the irregularities to human error, which they said had affected all parties, and so could not be fraud. They also denied the left’s request for a full recount based on the errors.
But the Mexican conception of fraud is strikingly expansive, compared with United States traditions, and by those lights the cries of fraud become more plausible.
For instance, most of Mr. López Obrador’s supporters complain bitterly about the “intervention” of President Fox in the election. They talk about “a state election” and the “imposition” of the candidate from Mr. Fox’s conservative party, Felipe Calderón, whom the electoral tribunal finally proclaimed president-elect on Tuesday.
There is no doubt that Mr. Fox used his position as president and his official tours to campaign vigorously against Mr. López Obrador. Though he never mentioned the leftist candidate by name, he used code words for him, railing against populism, demagogy and false messiahs.
The president also warned against “changing riders” in midstream and said that government handouts to the poor, a centerpiece of the leftist’s campaign, would bankrupt future Mexicans. Meanwhile, the Fox administration spent extravagantly on public service messages praising the government’s achievements.
Such use of the bully pulpit may seem tame in the United States, but in Mexico it is against the law for a president or any elected official to use public resources to campaign for his party’s candidate. The law is rooted in history. For seven decades before Mr. Fox’s election in 2000, Mexico was ruled by one party, with the sitting president choosing his successor and spreading government largesse to make sure he was elected.
The election law does not explicitly forbid a president to express support for a candidate, but the magistrates said in their ruling on Tuesday that Mr. Fox had come dangerously close to putting the election’s validity in doubt.
Worse in many leftist’s minds were the actions of various business leaders. Toward the end of the campaign, the largest business association, as well as some big companies, spent more than $19 million on advertisements aimed at undermining Mr. López Obrador, who promised to raise taxes on the rich and on business.
The advertisements never mentioned candidates by name. But some of them said, for instance, that Mexico did not need a dictator like Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, to whom Mr. López Obrador is often compared by his enemies. Others noted that Mexico’s economy had been stable for 10 years and said that “betting on change” could bring back the days of economic crisis.
The judges called the ads “black propaganda.”
United States voters are used to these “soft money” campaigns and take them in stride. But here, once again, such spending is illegal under the election law and is plausibly considered to be fraud by many of Mr. López Obrador’s supporters. The magistrates agreed, saying the business leaders had broken the law. But they said the impact was too slight to warrant annulling the election.
Beyond those big arguments are a host of smaller ones that have sewn doubt among the faithful in the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution.
The magistrates’ decision not to see the errors on tally sheets as evidence of fraud has fed suspicions that the court cannot be trusted, a theory that Mr. López Obrador reiterates in every speech and which is fortified by the country’s long history of corrupt judges, though no proof has been presented.
Mr. López Obrador’s followers also have no confidence in the Federal Electoral Institute, which organized the election. In October 2003, when congressional leaders were making deals to appoint new members to the institute’s governing board, Mr. López Obrador’s party was shut out. Since then the leftists have regarded just about every decision the electoral institute makes with suspicion.
In the end, the court ruling may have put Mr. Calderón in the president’s office, but it has not dispelled feelings among Mr. López Obrador’s supporters that they were robbed. “What more proof do you need?” said one López Obrador supporter, Enrique Ramírez, after the ruling. “At his rallies, Andrés Manuel has given us the proof of fraud, and we believe him, or at least I do.”
Mr. López Obrador is now calling for a “national convention” this month to mount a civil disobedience campaign to “re-found the republic” and reform “institutions that don’t deserve any respect.”
How far the movement can go and whether it can remain peaceful remains to be seen and may depend on how deep the suspicions of fraud, as seen in Mexico, run.
What is sure is that Mr. López Obrador has defined himself for many voters as the candidate who lost the election, not through his own errors but because the entire apparatus of the state was against him. That is an old tune in Mexico, one that many know the words to.
SOURCE: NYT (9-5-06)
Politicians, however, are nothing if not fickle in their affections. So it was that last week the California Legislature, at the behest of a Republican lawmaker, decided that a statue of King should be replaced in the National Statuary Hall at the United States Capitol by one of a more modern Republican with a similar gift for public speaking: Ronald Reagan.
The measure, which passed nearly unanimously just before the end of the legislative session on Thursday night, was hailed by State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth, its Republican author, as a fitting nod to the Great Communicator.
“We have a lot of tributes that are existing and to come for Ronald Reagan,” said Mr. Hollingsworth, from Murrieta, between Los Angeles and San Diego. “But this is California’s contribution.”
Yet among those who remember King’s deeds — admittedly a select lot — there were hurt feelings.
“I find it very sad,” said Glenna Matthews, a King biographer and visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. “The whole idea of patriotic Republicans’ wanting to bump a patriotic Republican is trashing what history’s all about.”
SOURCE: NYT (9-6-06)
American history is being studied less as the story of a neatly packaged nation state and more in a global context, as part of something much larger, many historians say. The idea of America as an empire, too, is in vogue. And historians are giving new attention to topics like the turbulent history of civil liberties in the United States.
There is growing interest in the history of terrorism, of Muslims in America, of international cultural conflicts and exchanges. The history of foreign policy is being rethought, some historians said, with less emphasis on the cold war and more on post-colonial politics. The Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis from 1979 to 1981 seem like significant turning points in ways that they had not before.
“For historians, history is never set in stone,” said Joanne Meyerowitz, a professor of history and American studies at Yale who edited “History and September 11th” (Temple University Press, 2003), a collection of essays. “It’s written and rewritten in each generation. The events of the present, of the contemporary age, always help us reframe the events of the past. And the events of the past always help us to reframe the age we’re living in.”
Some of the shift has come in response to strong interest from students. In vivid detail, professors recalled classes they taught immediately after the attacks — their students’ hunger to understand, their sense of 9/11 as a watershed in their lives, their sudden sense of vulnerability. In the days and months that followed, historians said, they found themselves using history to shed light on a baffling present.
“For our students, it is quite clear that in everything — from what it feels like in an airport, or dealing with Muslim neighbors in school or college, or what they think about when they think about going abroad for junior year — there is that sense that their Americanness is not safe from the rest of the world, or is deeply influenced by the United States’ role and its relationships to the rest of the world,” said Melani McAlister, an associate professor of American studies and international affairs at George Washington University.
Scholars disagree on the direction of the reframing of American history, sometimes along ideological lines. While many historians say 9/11 accelerated a push toward “internationalizing” American history — looking at what Thomas Bender, a professor of history at New York University, called “a common history with common causes for central events in American history” — some others said 9/11 had renewed their interest in an almost opposite idea, that of American exceptionalism.
American exceptionalism, the view that the United States is fundamentally different from other developed countries and has a special role in the world, fell out of favor around the time of the rise of the new social history in the late 1960’s, said Stephan Thernstrom, a history professor at Harvard who describes himself as a neoconservative. But since 9/11, he said, he has found himself increasingly drawn to the idea.
He compared his reaction to the current moment to the way “the massive conflict with fascism and then the cold war focused attention on what is our civilization, why is it different from others. With that came a certain sense of heightened attachment to our civilization and a desire to defend it and protect it.”
Historians often find that contemporary events influence the study of history. Disillusionment with World War I inspired a revisionist interpretation of the Civil War, that the war was unnecessary, said Professor Bender and others; that view was then challenged in the aftermath of World War II. The Reagan revolution brought new interest in the history of American conservatism; the women’s movement helped make women’s history a field of its own.
In the 1990’s, globalization encouraged what is known as the internationalizing of American history, with a growing emphasis on comparative and transnational approaches. For example, some historians said, they began to see the American Revolution as the result of widespread fiscal pressures brought on by a contest among imperial powers, not simply as a product of British taxation.
“We’ve been a little backward in recognizing how important the outside world has been to our domestic life,” said Joyce Appleby, a past president of the American Historical Association. “It requires a change of consciousness. You’re not just telling the story of American history and where it links up with another country; you see America in the world, affecting the world.”
That trend has accelerated since Sept. 11, 2001. Jan Lewis, a historian at Rutgers University in Newark who is writing a book about American history between 1760 and 1830, said she has been working on several chapters about the French and Indian War and the origins of the revolution. She found her attention drawn to the story of European soldiers sent to North America “to fight one episode of a huge international war.”
“I don’t think I’d have been as attuned to that dimension of the history a few years ago,” she said. “I realized that what I found particularly interesting was the conflict among British officials between those I would have called idealists and those who were realists. Certainly, similar issues come up with the Iraq war.”
Since late 2004, a half-dozen books on aspects of America as an empire have been published. Amy Kaplan, a former president of the American Studies Association, said American imperialism, once seen as a preoccupation of the left, has become a subject across the political spectrum.
“Are we an empire? If we are, in what sense?” said Michael H. Hunt, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, describing the debate. “Is it comparable to other empires? Is it like Rome?
“Tangled with that empire question is the hegemony question: Do you understand empire only in formal terms of control or is it more global and systemic and maybe not territorial necessarily?”
Mary L. Dudziak, a professor of law, history and political science at the University of Southern California Law School, said that her students demanded that their professors pay attention to the place of the United States in the world. They were suddenly interested in Islam. When Professor McAlister of George Washington University started teaching in 1996, she said, “You kind of had to make an argument for why someone in an American history class would have to think about global issues.”
The history of civil liberties, too, has attracted new interest. Eric Foner, a professor of history at Columbia University who describes himself as a liberal, said the years since 9/11 have focused attention on what he called the “up and down in the history of liberty in our country. It’s not a constant feature in American society; respect for civil liberties is really rather recent, and it’s fragile.”
Thomas L. Haskell, a Rice University historian who calls himself independent-minded politically, uses excerpts from Alexis de Tocqueville’s writings about tyranny of the majority in his course on American intellectual and cultural history. After watching media coverage of the attack on the World Trade Center, he recalls going immediately before his class and making a prediction that civil liberties would “take a beating.”
He based his forecast or declaration on the past — the Haymarket episode in Chicago in 1886, the “first Red scare” after World War I, the incarceration of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor. In an interview, Professor Haskell said he disapproved of professors propagandizing but believed they owe it to their students to identify their values. So, he said, he had made a point of bringing the issue of torture to his students’ attention.
Having spent 11 months in Saigon as an adviser to the Vietnamese navy during the Vietnam War, he said he believed he was in a position to challenge the Bush administration’s suggestions that the nature of the terrorist threat justifies loosening the rules on interrogation methods. He said he has looked for opportunities in the material he teaches to raise that issue.
He said he had experienced something of a turnaround in his own thinking.
“The appalling crudity and brutality involved in the settlement of Virginia back in the 17th century does take on a new relevance,” he said. “I think all those episodes of majoritarianism run amok do begin to fall into a pattern that has to make us wonder: What is it about American culture that puts us into this position time after time?”
SOURCE: NYT (9-3-06)
Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld invoked the term in speeches to veterans, a not-so-subliminal effort to liken critics of President Bush’s Iraq policy to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who disastrously tried to reason with Hitler in Munich in 1938.
In Mr. Rumsfeld’s words, Mr. Bush’s critics had not “learned history’s lessons.” Can Americans, he asked, “truly afford to believe that somehow, some way, vicious extremists can be appeased?”
The response from Democrats was swift.
“It’s a calculated political argument to throw people off the real facts, which is a military that’s stretched to the breaking point, a strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan that doesn’t seem to be working well,” Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, told reporters. “It’s selective history of the worst kind.”
But if it seemed that Republicans had hit on a new campaign theme, not much was new about it. Presidents since Franklin Roosevelt have invoked Munich for political effect, even as some of them fretted over being branded Chamberlains themselves.
SOURCE: NYT (9-1-06)
Socialism has been reduced to a single, short chapter in the senior high school history course. Chinese Communism before the economic reform that began in 1979 is covered in a sentence. The text mentions Mao only once — in a chapter on etiquette.
Nearly overnight the country’s most prosperous schools have shelved the Marxist template that had dominated standard history texts since the 1950’s. The changes passed high-level scrutiny, the authors say, and are part of a broader effort to promote a more stable, less violent view of Chinese history that serves today’s economic and political goals.
Name of source: Hankyoreh (South Korea)
SOURCE: Hankyoreh (South Korea) (9-7-06)
A state-funded Chinese research center, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) has argued that Koguryo (37 B.C.-A.D.668) and its successor Balhae were vassal states of China's ancient central government.
South Korean media and scholars say the Chinese government has hired history experts to systemically distort the history of the Korean kingdoms in case territorial disputes flare up after the possible collapse of North Korea, or if the communist country is merged with South Korea.
"It is too early to conclude that the distorted view of history held by the CASS reflects the Chinese government's official stance," a Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity. "The (South Korean) government will make a formal response when it becomes China's official position."
He added that Beijing is believed to be abiding by its 2004 agreement with Seoul not to take any government-level action on the Koguryo issue.
At that time, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Web site described the Koguryo Kingdom as part of China's history, and relations with South Korea deteriorated to their lowest ebb since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1992.
China's state media also trumpeted the significance of the addition of Koguryo relics in the country to the list of World Heritage sites.
After weeks of tension, the two sides managed to reach a provisional agreement to handle the issue through academic research.
Seoul's wait-and-see attitude on the sensitive history issue, however, drew harsh bipartisan criticism at home.
The ruling and opposition parties labeled China's move as a "grave concern" that undermined the identity of the Korean people.
"The government is taking a lukewarm response to China's history distortions, which are tantamount to an act of invasion," Rep. Kim Yong-kap of the main opposition Grand National Party, said.
Rep. Choi Sung of the ruling Uri Party said that, "We are paying heed to the fact that China is distorting the root of our history."
Name of source: US News & World Report
SOURCE: US News & World Report (8-27-06)
Name of source: CSM
SOURCE: CSM (9-6-06)
The trend that began vexing cartographers a decade ago when Bombay became Mumbai, Madras became Chennai, and Calcutta became Kolkata has only gained speed. Last month, the "French Riviera of the East" decided it wasn't so French after all, dropping its Francophile name, Pondicherry, for Puducherry.
In part, India is merely sweeping clean the last corners of colonialism - offending few beyond upper-class English-speaking Indians and outsiders who have wrapped India's identity in its anglicized names. In part, its politicians are using words as a tool - sometimes more to divide than to unite.
But underneath all is a new and unprecedented Indian self-assurance. More than half a century after the British left, India is making a statement that can be seen from politics to its economics: We are now a power in our own right, and the world must come to accept us on our own terms - whether that is nuclear weapons or a high-tech hub that might sound like baby talk to the foreign ear.
"This is a particular conjunction that is happening," says sociologist T.K. Oommen, citing changes in the Indian culture, polity, and economy. "We are gaining in confidence."
The changes sometimes take the guise of reclaiming historic names hopelessly mangled by colonial conquerors. Pondicherry was the best that the Gallic lips could do with Puducherry, and the British simply hit the eject button with Thiruvananthapuram, instead opting for the less tongue-twisting Trivandrum.
Advocates for Bengaluru say this is the case with Bangalore, where the cost of changing names would not be huge, the state chief minister has said. In fact, the local-language press had difficulty even reporting the proposed change: Bangalore is Bengaluru in the local tongue, so the papers duly pronounced that Bengaluru was changing its name to Bengaluru.
In some respects, the revisions are hardly surprising. From Myanmar (still widely known as Burma) to Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon), newly independent nations frequently find colonial names as ill-fitting as breeches and pointy admiral's hats. What is curious in India's case is that it took 50 years for the purge to start in earnest.
It is a measure of the admiration for Britain that many of India's early leaders shared, says Mr. Oommen - as well as a sign of how much the atmosphere has begun to shift to a new sense of self-worth.
What has emerged is also the logical culmination of a decision by India's first prime minister. In 1956, Jawaharlal Nehru decided that the country's states should be organized along linguistic lines, essentially creating more than a dozen nationlets within India - each with its own distinct language, culture, and recipe for curry.
For example, Bangalore is the capital of Karnataka, where the local language is Kannada - part of India's mix of 23 official languages, 800 unofficial languages, and an estimated 2,000 dialects. "If in a state that was made to preserve a certain language you can't even call the capital by the name in Kannada," there is something amiss, says Ramachandra Guha, a historian who lives in Bangalore.
Yet some of the other changes take a different tenor. India has slowly found firmer footing as a nation after the tumult of partition with Pakistan and the uncertainty caused by former leader Indira Gandhi's authoritarian rule in the 1970s and '80s. In this collective exhale, new and not always inclusive forms of national and regional politics have found space to expand.
Foremost among them has been more extremist strains of Hindutva: the doctrine that India - with an 80 percent Hindu majority - is a Hindu nation and should start acting like it. Some nationalists argue it's time to strip India's place names down to the studs. "The culture of India is not 200 years old," says Santosh Gangwar, a member of India's lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha. "Our culture and heritage is more than 5,000 years old."
By this measure, he says, Delhi is Indraprasth - harking back its name in the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata. Even "India" is not beyond revision. After all, India's namesake - the Indus River - has been in Pakistan since partition. Mr. Gangwar suggests Hindustan. Others favor Bharat.
The past is not all that stirs would-be name-changers, though. The faceless forces of a more globalized future, turning India into nothing but a long succession of McDonald's and KFCs, also give pause. The switch to Mumbai in 1995 was largely the work of Shiv Sena, an ultraconservative party founded on the idea that within the state of Maharashtra (where Mumbai is the capital), Maharashtrians should have more rights than others.
"In some cases, [the changes] reflect local paranoia that they will be swept away by outsiders," says Mr. Guha.
There are shades of this discontent in Bangalore, even though the change to Bengaluru has been promoted not by right-wing politicians, but by an award-winning local writer. Forgotten amid the tumult of the New India is a different Bangalore, author U.R. Ananthamurthy laments. By some estimates, less than 30 percent of the population speaks Kannada.
"There are actually two towns here: Bangalore and Bengaluru," says Professor Ananthamurthy, noting the split between the Kannada-speaking locals and outsiders drawn by start-ups and call centers.
"The elite classes have to realize that there is also a Bengaluru," he adds, suggesting that the correct spelling should actually be Bengalooru. "The [name change] is a step towards making visitors come to terms with the place."
Occasionally, however, Indians themselves can't agree on which name and whose version of history to use. In 2000, the people of the hill country northeast of Delhi celebrated the creation of their new state - only to discover that the federal government had chosen to name it Uttaranchal.
The women and students who had lined the streets calling for a new state had united under the banner of Uttarakhand. Even the holy texts of the Hindu faith, perhaps written as early as 2,500 B.C., speak of the area as Uttarakhand.
But in a country where every state is a potential breakaway republic, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) worried that the name Uttarakhand might only encourage the state's sense of itself as separate and unique. So it settled on a new creation with no history outside the modern Indian nation, and Uttaranchal was born.
To Sanjay Kothiyal, it was nothing less than domestic colonialism. "It hurt the people as a whole that they changed the name for which people were fighting," he says.
With a different party in power, the name is returning to its ancestral antecedent. Says Mr. Kothiyal: "This is a question of pride."
Name of source: BBC
SOURCE: BBC (9-6-06)
It stretches from 700,000 years ago and the first known settlers at Pakefield in Suffolk, through to the most recent incomers just 12,000 years or so ago.
The evidence comes from the Ancient Human Occupation of Britain Project.
This five-year undertaking by some of the UK's leading palaeo-experts has reassessed a mass of scientific data and filled in big knowledge gaps with new discoveries.
The project's director, Professor Chris Stringer from London's Natural History Museum, came to the British Association Science Festival to outline some of the key findings.
What has been uncovered has been a tale of struggle: "In human terms, Britain was the edge of the Universe," he said.
The project has established that a see-sawing climate and the presence of intermittent land access between Britain and what is now continental Europe allowed only stuttering waves of immigration.
And it has extended the timing of what was regarded to be the earliest influx by 200,000 years.
More than 30 flint tools unearthed in a fossil-rich seam at Pakefield, Lowestoft, on the east coast, represent the oldest, unequivocal evidence of humans in northern Europe.
But the story from then on is largely one of failed colonisation, as retreating and advancing ice sheets at first exposed the land and then covered it up.
"Britain has suffered some of the most extreme climate changes of any area in the world during the Pleistocene," said Professor Stringer.
"So places in say South Wales would have gone from something that looked like North Africa with hippos, elephants, rhinos and hyenas, to the other extreme: to an extraordinary cold environment like northern Scandinavia."
Name of source: WaPo
SOURCE: WaPo (9-4-06)
Nazi agents relayed sensitive military information using the dots and dashes of Morse code incorporated in the drawings. But British secret service officials were aware of the ruse and issued censors with a code-breaking guide to intercept them.
The book -- part of a batch of British secret service files made public for the first time -- included an example of a code hidden in a drawing of three young models. "Heavy reinforcements for the enemy expected hourly," reads a message disguised as a pattern in the stitching of their gowns, hats and blouses.
The files reveal other ingenious ways spies tried to send coded notes through the post. Invisible ink, pinpricks and indentations on letters were all used to convey details of troop movements, bombing raids and ship-building.
Spies hid codes in sheet music, descriptions of chess moves and symbols disguised as handwriting. Postcards were spliced, stuffed with wafer-thin notes and resealed.
Agents also used secret alphabets and messages that could only be read by taking the first letter of certain words. The capture of German agents in 1942 uncovered two such codes that British intelligence had failed to crack, the files reveal.
Britain's wartime spy chief David Petrie described the failure as "somewhat disturbing." The code was used in a letter from "Hubert" to "Aunt Janet" to conceal the message: "14 Boeing Fortresses arrived yesterday in Hendon (London). Pilots expect to raid Kiel (Germany)."
Telltale signs of a spy's handiwork included rambling letters with no apparent point, often sent to neutral countries with too many stamps.
Name of source: Washington Post
SOURCE: Washington Post (9-3-06)
Now, new scholarship and transatlantic detective work have solved the puzzle of who they were and where their forced journey across the Atlantic Ocean began.
The slaves were herded onto a Portuguese slave ship in Angola, in Southwest Africa. The ship was seized by British pirates on the high seas -- not brought to Virginia after a period of time in the Caribbean. The slaves represented one ethnic group, not many, as historians first believed.
The discovery has tapped a rich vein of history that will go on public view next month at the Jamestown Settlement. The museum and living history program will commemorate the 400th anniversary of Jamestown's founding by revamping the exhibits and artifacts -- as well as the story of the settlement itself.
Although historians have thoroughly documented the direct slave trade from Africa starting in the 1700s, far less was known of the first blacks who arrived in Virginia and other colonies a century earlier. A story of memory and cultural connections between Africa and the early New World is being unearthed in a state whose plantation economy set the course for the Civil War.
"We went entirely back to the drawing board," said Tom Davidson, senior curator of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. "The problem has always been that all of the things that make for a human story [of the Africans] were missing. . . . Now we can talk about the Africans with the same richness we talk about the English and the Powhatans."
Behind him, an Angolan man was depicted stripping bark from a baobab tree in a re-created village featured in the museum's new 30,000-square-foot gallery, which will open Oct. 16. It's double the space of the previous one, to cover a long span of the 17th century and the African story, which was barely featured before.
How the story of the charter generation of Africans in Virginia has come to life in a new $25 million museum wing is a tale of two scholars who helped connect two coasts of the Atlantic Ocean.
Name of source: LA Times
SOURCE: LA Times (9-1-06)
Although Farnsworth and other officials of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the monument, suspect that the looters scored a valuable haul from the site, they can't back up their hunch.
"I have no idea," said Farnsworth, the BLM's sole archaeologist at Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado's southwest corner.
Farnsworth and other officials can't say what's missing because they know so little about what was there. Only about 18 percent of Canyons of the Ancients has been inventoried to assess historic, cultural or scientific values. That's more than the BLM knows about a great many of the places it administers. Less than 6 percent of the 262 million acres managed by the agency has been inventoried for cultural resources.
Although about 263,000 cultural properties have been documented, some archeologists calculate there are more than 4 million sites across the BLM's lands in the West.
With 100 archaeological sites per square mile, Canyons of the Ancients is regarded as the richest trove in an area famous for its remnants of American prehistory. Yet it has only one law enforcement officer to police the monument's 250 square miles.
At many federally managed cultural sites, damage is widespread, from casual pilfering by arrowhead collectors to excavating by professional thieves. Some haul power tools into canyons to cut out rock art panels.
A study released this summer by the National Trust for Historic Preservation determined that the BLM was too cash-strapped and understaffed to meet the challenge.
The report by the National Trust highlights the disparity in funding between the two land management agencies within the Interior Department: the BLM and the National Park Service. The park service administers Mesa Verde National Park, about 20 miles southeast of Canyons of the Ancients.
There, funding averages about $19 an acre. In contrast, Canyons of the Ancients operates at $2.27 an acre, though it is three times larger than Mesa Verde.
According to monument manager LouAnn Jacobson, more than 30 percent of Canyons' budget is funded through grants or gifts.
The National Trust report notes that in 2004 the park service spent $74 million on cultural resource management, though the BLM's 2006 budget for the same kind of work is $15 million. Recently, the Bush administration recommended a $5 million cut to the budget of the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System.
Critics of the BLM say the agency seldom pays for an inventory of its land until it is a candidate for energy leasing, when proposed surface disturbances are required to be studied. But Sally Wisely, the Colorado state BLM director, said protecting far-flung resources cannot be achieved with money alone.
"Even if we had a whole lot of additional resources, the nature of public lands in the West makes it difficult and challenging to protect," Wisely said. "The ultimate answer is an individual stewardship ethic, with every individual understanding what these resources are and what they mean to us. It means people behaving themselves out there and keeping themselves to a higher standard."
But agency officials conceded that people had been behaving badly.
Name of source: David Greenberg in the NYT
SOURCE: David Greenberg in the NYT (9-3-06)
The year ended in a blowout at the polls. Republicans picked up 55 House and 13 Senate seats and took control of both houses. Richard M. Nixon and Joseph R. McCarthy suited up and headed for Washington. Senator J. William Fulbright, Democrat of Arkansas, urged Truman to name a Republican as Secretary of State and then resign, so the new appointee could become president (as succession rules then dictated). Truman scoffed, belittling the senator as “Halfbright.” Prospects for his liberal agenda were shattered, while bills like the Taft-Hartley Act, which weakened labor unions, came on the docket.
President Bush is having a bad year, too. And like Truman in 1946, he has cause to worry about the coming midterm elections.
The party occupying the White House almost always loses seats in midterms. One theory political scientists give to explain this tendency is called “surge and decline.” It notes that most presidents have coattails when they are elected, carrying the party’s candidates into Congress. But in other years those legislators have to run without the presidential surge, and many lose.
Name of source: History Carnival (blog)
SOURCE: History Carnival (blog) (9-1-06)