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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: BBC
SOURCE: BBC (12-15-07)
Impatiently, she wipes the glass with her sleeve and shakes her head, perplexed.
"I don't recognise anything," she mutters and sits back on her seat, indignant at having been deceived by the slipperiness of memory.
Tereska Torres is a French writer who worked with General de Gaulle's Free French forces in London during World War II.
I have joined her on a nostalgic visit to the settings of her 1951 novel, Women's Barracks, which broke taboos by telling of unmarried mothers and lesbian affairs.
SOURCE: BBC (12-14-07)
Stone panels from the royal palace at Khorsabad run along the walls.
The carvings on the friezes depict daily life in the Assyrian royal court, which at its height about 3,000 years ago controlled a region stretching across much of the modern Middle East.
In one panel a distinctly regal king looks at his subjects as a courtier fans him. Another panel shows priests carrying out religious rituals.
The workmanship on the friezes is delicate. The carefully placed spotlights bring the carvings to life and it is easy for your mind to be transported to ancient Mesopotamia.
Recent work in the hall has included the addition of a modern arch, which is flanked by ancient bulls with eagle wings and human heads.
It forms the entrance to the hall, which gives you the sense of walking into an Assyrian palace.
SOURCE: BBC (12-14-07)
George MacKenzie Samson from Carnoustie in Angus was awarded the decorations, including a Victoria Cross, for his bravery during World War One.
In 1915, during the Gallipoli landings, he helped rescue wounded men despite coming under heavy fire.
The medals were expected to fetch £180,000 at most but were bought by a private collector for £247,000.
SOURCE: BBC (12-13-07)
Paddy the pigeon was bred in Moyleen, Carnlough.
He was decorated for being the first bird to fly back with news of the D-Day landings in Normandy in World War II.
Paddy is one of 62 animals who received the PSDA Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the Victoria Cross, for bravery in the war.
SOURCE: BBC (12-12-07)
Lady Victoria Colliery in Newtongrange, Midlothian, beat off competition from nine other sites, including Rosslyn Chapel, featured in the Da Vinci Code.
More than 20,000 votes were cast after a shortlist of 10 places was selected.
Name of source: WaPo
SOURCE: WaPo (12-15-07)
Teams of experts have been laboring since Harry Truman was president in the late 1940s to compile and annotate the letters, correspondence and documents of George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. About $58 million has been spent in the past 30 years alone.
Yet, according to a study by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, the Washington papers will not be finished until 2023, with 54 volumes published and 35 more to go. The Adams papers, 29 volumes shy of the planned 59-volume set, will not be done until 2050.
Only the papers of Alexander Hamilton have been finished, largely because scholars did not have as many papers to comb through. Hamilton died at age 49 after a duel with Aaron Burr.
SOURCE: WaPo (12-13-07)
The finding is an extraordinary event. There are only about 125 known photographs of Lincoln.
"A new photograph of Lincoln is very precious and very rare," said Harold Holzer, vice chairman of the forum and a leading authority on Lincoln. "In all probability, this is a Lincoln image, but you just want to yell, 'Turn around!' so we could see his full face."
John Richter and Bob Zeller, officers of the nonprofit Center for Civil War Photography, included the discovery in a dramatic presentation of a series of stereographs on Lincoln and the Civil War.
The audience wore 3-D glasses to transform the stereographic paired images into a single three-dimensional image. In the midst of 162 images are two back-to-back images of the crowd at the cemetery dedication, taken by Alexander Gardner.
SOURCE: WaPo (9-16-07)
Almost 40 years ago, a 21-year-old Mitt Romney watched as his father's presidential campaign stumbled to a halt. George Romney's 1968 bid for the White House failed for several reasons -- his notorious remark that U.S. generals had brainwashed him into supporting the Vietnam War, the surprise entry into the race of fellow liberal Republican Nelson Rockefeller, Richard M. Nixon's establishment appeal. But his Mormonism wasn't among them.
"I don't recall ever having been asked about his beliefs or about the Mormon church," says Charles Harmon, the elder Romney's press secretary at the time. Walter DeVries, Romney's chief strategist during the race, never considered his boss's religion a political liability. "I just don't remember it coming up," he notes.
George Romney's candidacy did spark some news stories about the refusal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to allow blacks to join the priesthood, a policy that was reversed in 1978. But his strong civil rights record as governor of Michigan inoculated him against charges of racism, and reporters otherwise paid virtually no attention to his religion.
So how, four decades later, has Mormonism become a major factor, and perhaps the defining challenge, in Mitt Romney's race for the White House? Is it possible that the country has grown less tolerant? When it comes to putting a Mormon in the White House, the answer may be yes. In February, a Gallup poll showed that more than a third of Americans would not vote for a Mormon or had reservations about doing so.
"George Romney ran in the shadow of the Kennedy election in 1960, when the country decided religion didn't matter," says Richard Lyman Bushman, a Mormon scholar and professor emeritus of history at Columbia University. "Now it seems like we are working through all the issues that troubled Kennedy, but in a Mormon mode."...
Name of source: NYT Editorial
SOURCE: NYT Editorial (12-16-07)
The obelisk, which resembles the Washington Monument, is one of the oldest of its kind in the country. It was dedicated in 1830, and the mortar holding the stones has been deteriorating so quickly that it is a common occurrence for park officials arriving in the morning to pick up pieces of the mortar that fell out during the night. The bond money will be used to stabilize the monument, which can be seen for miles, and for new sidewalks.
The monument commemorates a battle on the Sept. 6, 1781, in which British troops, led by Benedict Arnold, attacked Fort Griswold, the same day they burned New London. Most of the 165 men defending Fort Griswold were either related to one another or were neighbors and friends who lived in the area. More than half of the men were killed after their leader, Col. William Ledyard, surrendered the fort to the British. More than 200 children lost their fathers that day. The community as a whole was traumatized. The ramparts where the men fought remain, as are other earthworks surrounding the fort, which looms over the Thames River.
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (12-16-07)
Which is what makes this Republican presidential contest so striking. It is hard to think of another campaign when Republicans have seemed less excited about their choices. That was the unmistakable lesson of the rapid ascension in recent polls of Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, the latest in a line of Republican flavors of the month. A New York Times/CBS News poll last week found that none of the Republican candidates — not even the suddenly hot Mr. Huckabee — was viewed favorably by even half of Republican voters.
SOURCE: NYT (12-17-07)
Four decades after the Central Intelligence Agency hired thousands of jungle warriors to fight Communists on the western fringes of the Vietnam War, men who say they are veterans of that covert operation are isolated, hungry and periodically hunted by a Laotian Communist government still mistrustful of the men who sided with America.
“If I surrender, I will be punished,” said Xang Yang, a wiry 58-year-old still capable of crawling nimbly through thick bamboo underbrush. “They will never forgive me. I cannot live outside the jungle because I am a former American soldier.”
SOURCE: NYT (12-14-07)
Although there may have been a kernel of truth in his question, Mr. Huckabee’s confessed ignorance about Mormonism is widely shared.
Americans are notoriously uninformed about faiths other than their own, and they are particularly perplexed about Mormon beliefs. Mormons make up 2 percent of the American population, and their faith, which emerged 177 years ago in upstate New York, is a relative newcomer.
SOURCE: NYT (12-12-07)
Aside from a brief opening in late 2003, when officials and other guests were invited in, the museum has been shuttered since the invasion. But there has been a great push to reopen it of late. Its directors have managed to recover 4,000 missing pieces, among them gems, Islamic coins and carved stones. The pace of recovery picked up as word spread that rewards were offered for items returned.
Still, the executive director, Amira Eidan, said Tuesday that she could not forecast when the museum might reopen again because restoration efforts had been slowed by insufficient financing. The cost of recovering the artifacts has consumed the bulk of her museum’s budget, and pieces sometimes have turned up at foreign auctions and been too expensive or difficult to retrieve, she said.
SOURCE: NYT (12-10-07)
In the last few weeks Ben Zimmer, an Oxford University Press dictionary editor, appeared on numerous radio shows and on a syndicated public radio program to talk about the word contest. The selection of locavore also had 25 mentions in major newspapers like The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Washington Post.
“There are very few good ways to get publicity for a dictionary,” said Erin McKean, a lexicographer at Oxford. While publishers can rely on coverage for new entries in just-published dictionaries, some reference books go for as long as a decade between revisions. “We are constantly surveilling the language to see what new words people are coming up with,” Ms. McKean said.
SOURCE: NYT (12-11-07)
After Ms. Plumstead died in 1994, the document was sold at an estate auction. It changed hands several times, ending up with a private collector in Virginia who paid $475,000 for it in 2001. Now Maine is seeking to reclaim it, citing a state statute that says a public document remains public until explicitly relinquished by the government.
“In our view it belongs to the community,” said William Stokes, a deputy state attorney general who will represent Maine at a trial next month in a suit filed by the collector. “It got separated from the community through the passage of time, but our position is it never belonged to anyone other than the town of Wiscasset.”
Name of source: National Coalition for History blog
SOURCE: National Coalition for History blog (12-14-07)
Name of source: New Zealand Herald
SOURCE: New Zealand Herald (12-14-07)
"We were foolish enough to be Catholics under Elizabeth I." says the present baronet, Sir Thomas Ingilby, with a smile that suggests he's actually rather proud of his pig-headed ancestors.
"We were strong supporters of the king in the Civil War.
"We spent a lot of money buttering up James I when he gained the throne but then got involved in the Gunpowder Plot.
"I think it reached the stage where if a conflict broke out people would postpone deciding which side to support until they saw which way the Ingilbys were going ... and then they'd pick the other one."
Name of source: China View
SOURCE: China View (12-13-07)
"We commemorate the day, to ponder upon the past, which can provide guidance in days to come, to take history as a mirror and look forward to the future, and to cherish peace," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang in response to a question at a regular press conference.
"The Chinese government advocates developing a lasting neighborly relationship of friendly cooperation with Japan, based on the spirit of taking history as a mirror and looking forward to the future," said Qin.
He invited the press corps to observe a moment of silence with him for those killed in the Nanjing Massacre before he answered.
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (12-13-07)
The museum offered about $100,000 for the collection, topping 35 other bids, said suburban Chicago auctioneer Mastro Auctions.
SOURCE: AP (12-11-07)
La Fondation de Chambrun, in Chateau La Grange, Lafayette's home 30 miles east of Paris, beat out two other bidders.
"The medal is a symbol of the bond and friendship between America and France," said Christophe Van de Weghe, a Manhattan art dealer who represented the foundation.
The medal, shaped like an eagle and believed have its original ribbon and red leather box, will be displayed in Lafayette's bedroom, Van de Weghe said. It also might be displayed at Mount Vernon, Washington's former home and slave plantation in Virginia.
Name of source: National Security Archive
SOURCE: National Security Archive (12-14-07)
"It is remarkable that the government wants to stop the public from trying to protect records that belong to the people of the United States, particularly records that tell the story of this country’s policies," stated Meredith Fuchs, the Archive's General Counsel. "When records are wiped out of existence, it is impossible to ever fully understand the government’s decisionmaking."
The Archive's latest filing comes in a lawsuit brought against the Executive Office of the President (EOP), the White House Office of Administration (OA), and the National Archives after White House spokesperson Dana Perino acknowledged this year that over 5 million e-mails generated within the White House from 2003-2005 are missing. The lawsuit seeks to compel the Archivist of the United States and the heads of the EOP and the OA to fulfill their responsibilities to restore e-mails improperly destroyed and prevent future destruction. A virtually identical lawsuit was subsequently filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and has been consolidated with this case. Last month, Judge Henry Kennedy granted a temporary restraining order, directing the EOP to preserve all e-mail backup media until the case is resolved.
"After failing to manage its federal and presidential records properly, the government now is trying to use its own unlawful conduct as a shield against this suit. The fact that there may be presidential records on the same servers and backup media as the federal records we are trying to preserve is not a reason to deny us an opportunity for relief," explained attorney Sheila Shadmand, from the law firm Jones Day LLC, which represents the Archive.
The National Security Archive, an independent non-governmental organization based at the George Washington University, brought the original White House e-mail lawsuit (which included a wide range of scholarly, library and public interest co-plaintiffs) against Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. That lawsuit produced landmark rulings in the early 1990s that e-mail had to be treated as government records. Those rulings led to the preservation of more than 30 million White House e-mail messages from the 1980s and 1990s.
SOURCE: National Security Archive (12-10-07)
Today's posting includes the internal Soviet deliberations leading up to the summit, full transcripts of the two leaders' discussions, the Soviet record of negotiations with top American diplomats, and other historic records being published for the first time.
The documents show that the Soviet Union made significant changes to its initial position to accommodate the U.S. demands, beginning with "untying the package" of strategic arms, missile defense, and INF in February 1987 and then agreeing to eliminate its newly deployed OKA/SS-23 missiles, while pressing the U.S. leadership to agree on substantial reductions of strategic nuclear weapons. Gorbachev's goal was to prepare and sign the START Treaty on the basis of 50 percent reductions of strategic offensive weapons in 1988 before the Reagan administration left office. In the course of negotiations, the Soviet Union also proposed cutting conventional forces in Europe by 25 percent and starting negotiations to eliminate chemical weapons.
The documents also detail Gorbachev's desire for genuine collaboration with the U.S. in resolving regional conflicts, especially the Iran-Iraq War, Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Nicaragua. However, the documents show that the U.S. side was unwilling and unable to pursue many of the Soviet initiatives at the time due to political struggles within the Reagan administration. Reading these documents one gets a visceral sense of missed opportunities for achieving even deeper cuts in nuclear arsenals, resolving regional conflicts, and ending the Cold War even earlier.
The documents paint the fullest declassified portrait yet available of the Washington summit which ended 20 years ago today and centered on the signing of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty--the only treaty of its kind in actually eliminating an entire class of nuclear weapons. By eliminating mainly the missiles based in Europe, the treaty lowered the threat of nuclear war in Europe substantially and cleared the way for negotiations on tactical nuclear and chemical weapons, as well as negotiations on conventional forces in Europe.
Under the Treaty, the Soviet Union destroyed 889 of its intermediate-range missiles and 957 shorter-range missiles, and the U.S. destroyed 677 and 169 respectively. These were the missiles with very short flight time to targets in the Soviet Union, which made them "most likely to spur escalation to general nuclear war from any local hostilities that might erupt." These weapons were perceived as most threatening by the Soviet leadership, which is why the Soviet military supported the Treaty, even though there was a significant opposition among them to including the shorter-range weapons.
The Treaty included remarkably extensive and intrusive verification inspection and monitoring arrangements, based on the "any time and place" proposal of March 1987, which was accepted by the Soviets to the Americans' surprise; and the documents show that the Soviets were willing to go beyond the American position in the depth of verification regime. The new Soviet position on verification not only removed the hurdle that seemed insurmountable, but according to then-U.S. Ambassador to the USSR Jack Matlock, became a symbol of the new trust developing in U.S.-Soviet relations, which made the treaty and further progress on arms control possible.
The documents published here for the first time give the reader a unique and never-previously-available opportunity to look into the process of internal deliberations on both sides and the negotiations both before and during the summit in December 1987.
SOURCE: National Security Archive (12-10-07)
The new DIA cable was released on the Archive Web site along with other declassified documents that shed light on human rights crimes under Fujimori's government, his close ties to his intelligence chieftain, Vladimiro Montecinos, and the two cases for which the imprisoned former president is now being prosecuted: the death squad kidnapping and disappearance of nine students and one professor at La Cantuta University in July 1992, and the massacre of a group of 15 leftists and an eight-year-old child during a neighborhood community barbeque in Barrios Altos in November 1991.
The documents were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by analysts at the Archive's Peru Documentation Project. The project has provided declassified evidence drawn from U.S. records to Peruvian human rights advocates and officials for over a decade.
"The prosecution of Alberto Fujimori is nothing less than a historic event in the history of the human rights movement in Latin America," according to Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst on Latin America at the Archive. "It is a major step toward truth and justice in Peru and the Western Hemisphere."
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-14-07)
The leader of the Front National party is due to face charges of conspiring to justify war crimes and to deny Nazi crimes against humanity, both violations of France's Holocaust denial legislation. He faces a maximum one-year prison term, a £32,000 fine and a possible ban from holding elected office.
The case centres on an interview he gave to the far-Right paper Rivarol in 2005, in which he was quoted as saying: "In France at least, the German occupation was not especially inhumane, even if there were a number of excesses - inevitable in a country of 550,000 sq km (220,000 sq miles).
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-13-07)
The Scottish kings pursued a policy of alliance with France, England's traditional enemy.
Then, by an accident of dynastic succession, James VI, King of Scots, inherited the English throne as James I, at the Union of the Crowns in 1603.
James inherited as the great-grandson of James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII.
What had actually been, for most of Shakespeare's lifetime, a peninsula became in geopolitical reality "this sceptr'd isle". ...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-13-07)
The museum has admitted that The Faun sculpture is not by the 19th century French artist but is the work of the Greenhalgh family, who swindled an estimated £1.5 million from museums, galleries and auction houses.
A private dealer bought the sculpture at Sotheby's, London, for £20,700 in 1994. The Art Institute purchased it from the dealer three years later....
Shaun Greenhalgh, 47, who was jailed earlier this month on fraud charges, created it at his parents' home in Bolton, Greater Manchester.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-11-07)
Udo Voigt, the head of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD), also demanded the return of land lost after the Second World War.
"Six million cannot be right. At most, 340,000 people could have died in Auschwitz," he said in an interview with Iranian journalists.
"The Jews always say: 'Even if one Jew died that is a crime.' But of course it makes a difference whether one has to pay for six million people or for 340,000."
Conservative estimates put the number of dead at the camp at more than a million people.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-11-07)
The poll suggests the concept of 'Britain' still retains a deep hold on the affections of English people
An even greater proportion - 69 per cent - want to keep the historic Union between England and Scotland, while only 24 per cent want the two countries to separate.
However, the ICM survey for The Sunday Telegraph also reveals great concern about the future of the Union, and only 48 per cent believe it will survive a maximum of 25 years.
Name of source: Times (London)
SOURCE: Times (London) (12-13-07)
Today The Times can reveal that the site of Venta Icenorum, which dates primarily from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD – and which may have been home to Boadicea, the ancient British queen – is far more significant than anyone had realised.
The latest scientific technology shows that the town, which today lies at Caistor St Edmund, south of Norwich, is one of “stunning international archaeological importance”, archaeologists say.
Name of source: Reuters
SOURCE: Reuters (12-13-07)
But Australia's War Memorial is using the exhibit to highlight the overlooked role of Australian troops and their commander Henry Chauvel, who played a crucial role in the defeat of Turkish Ottoman forces in Palestine and Syria.
In his famous war memoir Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Thomas Edward Lawrence, known as T. E. Lawrence, ignored the role of Australia's Light Horse in securing Damascus, instead claiming the victory for his Arab forces.
"Essentially it was Chauvel who took the town as the overall commander," exhibition curator Mal Booth told Reuters.
"What Lawrence was trying to do was make the best case he could for Arab self-determination. I think he inflates the Arab claims in Damascus."
Name of source: Baltimore Sun
SOURCE: Baltimore Sun (12-11-07)
But the state's recommendation yesterday to demolish or move a 19th-century home on the Annapolis waterfront to make way for the estimated $20 million facility sets up a potential battle between two groups closely identified with the Colonial capital: sailors and historic preservationists.
The recommendation, released yesterday in a report commissioned by the Maryland Stadium Authority, said trying to incorporate the modest home, one of the original pieces of the waterfront streetscape and now used as office space for the Department of Natural Resources Police, would be "too challenging."
"This is the single most prominent piece of real estate in the city. ... It's the last piece of vernacular property on the Annapolis harbor. So what they do on that property needs to be of interest to everybody who lives in Annapolis," said Gregory A. Stiverson, former president of the Annapolis Historic Foundation.
Name of source: Chronicle of Higher Ed (video)
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (video) (12-13-07)
Name of source: David Corn and Jonathan Stein at the website of Mother Jones magazine
SOURCE: David Corn and Jonathan Stein at the website of Mother Jones magazine (12-10-07)
Now that he has his moment in the political spotlight, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee does not want his days at the pulpit to be scrutinized.
As Huckabee has surged to the front of the Republican pack in Iowa, his religious views have drawn media and voter attention. After all, Huckabee, a former Baptist pastor, has been campaigning as a "Christian leader." But he has vacillated on how far to interject faith into politics. At an early debate, he indicated he does not believe in evolution, but at a more recent debate, when he was asked by Wolf Blitzer if the creation of the Earth occurred six thousand years ago and only took six days, as stated in the Old Testament, Huckabee said, "I don't know. I wasn't there." During a question-and-answer session with students at fundamentalist Liberty University last month, he asserted that his rise in the polls has an explanation that is "beyond human" and is due to the power of his supporters' prayers. Afterward, he backtracked slightly, adding, "I'm saying that when people pray, things happen.... I'm not saying that God wants me to be elected." (At a victory rally held after Huckabee won a 1993 special election for lieutenant governor, Huckabee told his supporters that he had only won because God had intervened, according to the Texarkana Gazette.)
Name of source: Chronicle of Higher Ed
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Ed (12-12-07)
Highlights of the archive include “an exceedingly perceptive and enormously affectionate run of letters from Samuel Beckett,” the library said, as well as “a charming and highly amusing exchange of letters with Philip Larkin, and a draft of Pinter’s unpublished autobiographical memoir of his youth, ‘The Queen of All the Fairies.’”
“It is thrilling for the British Library to have acquired the archive of our greatest living playwright,” Jamie Andrews, head of the library’s division of modern literary manuscripts, said in the statement.
Name of source: LiveScience
SOURCE: LiveScience (11-26-07)
To test what effect doctored photos might have, researchers from the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Padua in Italy showed 299 people aged 19 to 84 either an actual photo or an altered photo of two historical events, the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing and the 2003 anti-war protest in Rome.
The original Tiananmen Square image was altered to show a crowd watching at the sidelines as a lone man stands in front of a row of tanks. The Rome anti-war protest photograph was altered to show riot police and a menacing, masked protester among the crowd of demonstrators.
When answering questions about the events, the participants had differing recollections of what happened. Those who viewed the altered images of the Rome protest recalled the demonstration as violent and negative and recollected more physical confrontation and property damage than actually occurred.
Participants who viewed the doctored photos also said they were less inclined to take part in future protests, according to the study, detailed in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology.
SOURCE: LiveScience (12-13-07)
The underwater archaeology team, from Indiana University, says they have found the remains of Quedagh Merchant, actively sought by treasure hunters for years.
Charles Beeker of IU said his team has been licensed to study the wreckage and convert the site into an underwater preserve for the public.
It is remarkable that the wreck has remained undiscovered all these years given its location, just 70 feet off the coast of Catalina Island in the Dominican Republic in less than 10 feet of seawater.
Name of source: Washington Times
SOURCE: Washington Times (12-13-07)
A new plaque would describe the Maryland native's career and the landmark 1857 ruling that some historians consider a catalyst for the Civil War.
The wording of the plaque hasn't been decided, but Guy Djoken, president of the Frederick County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said it will be thorough.
Name of source: HNN Staff
SOURCE: HNN Staff (12-12-07)
"Tree of Smoke" by Denis Johnson
"The Yiddish Policeman's Union" by Michael Chabon
"The Father of All Things" by Tom Bissell
"Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations" by Georgina Howell
"Legacy of Ashes: A History of the CIA" by Tim Weiner
Two of the novels involve Vietnam. The other one concerns Jews, Alaska, and the Holocaust. Whaaat?
"During World War II, the Roosevelt administration briefly considered resettling Europe's Jewish refugees in Alaska. Michael Chabon's soulful alternate-history novel dreams up what the world might have looked like if that scheme had played out. In a bustling, if well-bundled, Yiddish-speaking community in Sitka, a burnt-out homicide cop named Meyer Landsman investigates the death of a junkie chess-player who might have been the promised Messiah, and gets on the bad side of the district's Hassidim-run organized crime syndicate. The novel offers lots of genre fun -- snappy dialogue, action and suspense -- yet it's all seamlessly married to a searching consideration of Jewish identity. What would it mean to be a Jew in a world where the Holocaust never happened and the state of Israel didn't exist? Are human beings the products of history, or does our essence transcend it? These are weighty questions for a book that's so entertaining, but Chabon's themes never overload his frame. Like the very best dancers and magicians, he makes it look easy."
Name of source: McClatchy Newspapers
SOURCE: McClatchy Newspapers (12-12-07)
"I really hate the Japanese," Zhang said, dissolving into tears."I have repeated this thousands of times. I really, really hate them."
Now 81, Zhang was only 11 during the infamous Japanese rampage, a seizure so violent that it's also known as the Rape of Nanking, the city's former name.
For Zhang, that's an accurate description, for she, too, was raped.
China this week marks the 70th anniversary of the massacre, reopening the Memorial Hall to the Victims after a two-year $33 million face-lift. But China treads a fine line as it promotes condemnation of the massacre while trying to protect trade and diplomatic relations with Japan , which are on the mend after years of severe stress.
Name of source: Daily Mail
SOURCE: Daily Mail (12-11-07)
Now Paul Maria Hafner is the subject of a TV documentary called "Hafner's Paradise" which chronicles his life in exile – and how he manages to draw pensions from three countries.
Operation Last Chance, the campaign to round up the last Nazis in Europe organised by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Israel, has him on their wanted list.
Name of source: Secrecy News, written by Steven Aftergood, is published by the Federation of American Scientists
The case involves records sought by journalist Jefferson Morley that he believes will provide new insight into the assassination.
"This decision, if the CIA respects it, will shed new light on one of the murkiest areas of the Kennedy assassination story: the CIA intelligence collection operations that picked up on Lee Harvey Oswald in the weeks before JFK went to Dallas," Mr. Morley said.
FOIA decisions against the CIA are relatively rare. The latest decision does not immediately imply any new release of records, but requires the CIA to perform a new search and to provide further justification for its opposition to disclosure.
See"CIA Loses Case at DC Circuit" in The FOIA Blog, December 7:
"The Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate, in consultation with the Director of the Congressional Research Service, shall make available through a centralized electronic system, for purposes of access and retrieval by the public ... all information described in paragraph (2) that is available through the Congressional Research Service website," the Resolution states.
Exemptions from disclosure are included for copyrighted and personal information, and for reports that are prepared confidentially for an individual member or committee.
The resolution, S. Res. 401, was jointly introduced by Senators Joe Lieberman, John McCain, Susan Collins, Patrick Leahy, John Cornyn and Tom Harkin.
The Legislative Branch must"increase its transparency and expand its interactive relationship with the public," said Sen. Lieberman yesterday.
"In this spirit, Senators McCain, Collins and I are introducing today legislation to require the Congressional Research Service to make its extremely valuable reports public. No method currently exists for the public to access them quickly and easily. As a result, many businesses collect the reports and sell them to paying customers. Our bill would allow members and Committees to easily post all CRS reports on their websites to anyone with internet access," Sen. Lieberman said.
This arguably overstates the case on several points --"extremely valuable,""no method," and"many businesses." And similar legislative initiatives have proved fruitless in the past. But this one may fare better, particularly since it does not appear to require coordination with the House of Representatives.
Rep. Waxman asked Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein to render a judgment as to whether the destruction of the videotapes was consistent with the law.
"I would like your opinion on whether the CIA's destruction of these videotapes was in accordance with the Federal Records Act and your implementing regulations," Waxman wrote on December 11.
CIA's records management failures, including inadequate preservation of audiovisual records, are a longstanding concern of the National Archives and Records Administration.
"Videos stored in the ARC [CIA Agency Records Center] are in danger of catastrophic loss due to tape binder failure and/or fungal contamination," the Archives found in a 2000 audit of CIA records management practices.
And some CIA employees seemed oblivious to the laws governing record preservation, NARA reported.
"Some of the agency personnel who create and maintain special media do not recognize them as federal records that may be disposed only in accordance with NARA-approved schedules," the Archives audit found.
The 2000 audit of"Records Management in the Central Intelligence Agency," cited in Rep. Waxman's letter, was obtained by the Federation of American Scientists under the Freedom of Information Act and may be found here:
Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) yesterday asked the White House to explicitly
confirm that a White House directive to preserve records related to the
destruction of CIA videotapes encompassed all White House records.
"In light of the Office of the Vice President's record of fatuous
arguments that it is not subject to the authority of the President,
please also confirm that the directive included the Office of the Vice
President and that the Office of the Vice President intends to comply,"
Sen. Biden wrote.
Sen. Biden was apparently referring to the Vice President's position,
recently endorsed by the Justice Department, that his Office is not an"executive branch entity" for purposes of classification oversight.
Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) yesterday asked the White House to explicitly confirm that a White House directive to preserve records related to the destruction of CIA videotapes encompassed all White House records.
"In light of the Office of the Vice President's record of fatuous arguments that it is not subject to the authority of the President, please also confirm that the directive included the Office of the Vice President and that the Office of the Vice President intends to comply," Sen. Biden wrote.
Sen. Biden was apparently referring to the Vice President's position, recently endorsed by the Justice Department, that his Office is not an"executive branch entity" for purposes of classification oversight.
Name of source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
SOURCE: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (12-10-07)
The Americans took him into custody. They fed him and clothed him, and took him to a foxhole with them. A short time later, he asked if anyone spoke French.
One soldier did, and all of a sudden, the Americans realized they had captured a high-ranking man -- with a lot of knowledge of Japanese plans -- who was willing to cooperate with them. He told them where other enemy soldiers were hiding in the area and eventually was taken to Washington, D.C. The intelligence he provided was invaluable.
Conversely, it was bad intelligence that led to the current war in Iraq, said Don Guter, a retired rear admiral and former Navy judge advocate general.
After capturing a Libyan trainer for al-Qaida shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States turned him over to Egypt.
"They tortured him," said Mr. Guter, now the dean of Duquesne Law School.
It was Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi who made the connection between Iraq and al-Qaida, a principal justification for the invasion of Iraq.
"He later recanted, but it was too late," Mr. Guter said.
Those two examples are being used by a group of 49 retired admirals and generals who want to meet with all the presidential candidates to discuss why they believe the United States cannot engage in torture.
Name of source: http://rawstory.com
SOURCE: http://rawstory.com (12-10-07)
White House press secretary Dana Perino has been front and center of the White House's push to continue to label Iran a rogue state for its pursuit of uranium enrichment technology.
This comes against the backdrop of a new intelligence estimate positing that the Islamic state abandoned its nuclear weapons in 2003.
Turns out she doesn't know quite so much about nuclear weapons as she supposes. And we're not talking about Iran.
Appearing on National Public Radio's quiz show, "Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me," this weekend, Perino admitted a story she'd previously only shared in private: When a reporter asked her a question during a White House briefing in which he referred to the Cuban Missile Crisis -- she didn't know what it was.
"I was panicked a bit because I really don't know about . . . the Cuban Missile Crisis," said Perino, who at 35 was born about a decade after the 1962 U.S.-Soviet nuclear showdown. "It had to do with Cuba and missiles, I'm pretty sure."
Name of source: Newsweek
SOURCE: Newsweek (12-17-07)
Then he did. Asked if he thought Scriptural revelations from God ended when the Bible was completed, Huckabee said: "I don't have any evidence or indication that he's handed us a new book to add to the ones, the 66, that were canonized in 325 A.D. … It was a careful process that adopted those books. That was something I did study in college and seminary … the process by which we ended up with those books. I don't know that there's any other books."
Name of source: Boston Globe
SOURCE: Boston Globe (12-9-07)
Mormons control politics in one state, Utah, and hold considerable clout in others, such as Arizona and Idaho. And if Mitt Romney becomes president, then the country's top Republican and one of its top Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, will both be Mormons.
With the LDS church growing in membership and power, Americans are no longer at liberty to think of Mormons as some distant sect. The institution that most Americans used to know only through the pairs of clean-cut young men knocking on our doors as missionaries now has national and international reach.
Feeding Americans' curiosity about this home-grown religion are Jon Krakauer's best-selling 2003 book Under the Banner of Heaven and PBS's recent documentary The Mormons. ...
Name of source: http://www.thetimes.co.za
SOURCE: http://www.thetimes.co.za (12-9-07)
The future of the Durban Cultural and Documentation Centre, which houses valuable pieces of Indian history, hangs in the balance.
The centre, home to artefacts, musical instruments, traditional clothing, important documents, books and photographs, some dating back to the 1800s, was opened in 1996.
It was once a hive of activity and regarded as a tourist attraction, but the condition of its contents — most of which were donated by Indian families around the country — has deteriorated over the years.
Name of source: AFP
SOURCE: AFP (12-10-07)
After more than five years of analysis of human remains culled from the pit, also called an apothetes, researchers found only the remains of adolescents and adults between the ages of 18 and 35, Athens Faculty of Medicine Anthropologist Theodoros Pitsios said.
"There were still bones in the area, but none from newborns, according to the samples we took from the bottom of the pit" of the foothills of Mount Taygete near present-day Sparta.
Name of source: Earth Times
SOURCE: Earth Times (12-9-07)
But the oaken boat, found 12 metres below the surface during excavations a few days ago for an underground mass-transit line, is something special, offering scientists a new window into life in this cold northern Roman province.
A piece of the vessel's flat bottom, about 8 square metres in size, with huge iron nails poking out of it, is still in the mud between modern building machinery and materials.