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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: Fox News
SOURCE: Fox News (10-30-09)
The Golan Heights was seized by Israel in the 1967 war. Syria and Egypt attacked Israel in 1972 to try to get the Golan back but didn’t succeed. An armistice was eventually signed in 1974 and Israel pulled out of most of the city of Quneitra, the then regional seat of the Golan Heights, but kept the rest under its control. The U.N. monitors the situation to this day.
As such, a small sliver of the Golan remains under Syrian control, but the bulk of it is under Israeli occupation.
You can’t just go to the Syrian side of the Golan. It requires permission. It is a semi-military zone, in clear sight of Israeli checkpoints up in the highest part of the Heights.
Prior to taking the Golan, Israeli farmers were often shot from Syrian gun positions, and that was always the reason Israel cited for seizing the land. But a friend who took me on a tour of the Syrian side of the Golan made much of recordings, released by an Israeli reporter 12 years ago, which quote the late Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan as saying the seizure of the Golan was actually not about self defense — Israeli kibbutzniks simply wanted the land.
In the recordings, part of an interview Dayan gave in 1976, he also claims that Israelis often provoked Syrians into shooting down from the Golan Heights at Israelis. That is the version of events it seems most Syrians give credence to. Many Israeli historians have taken issue with the recordings, some saying they were really not part of a formal or official interview, and that the quotes were not as definitive as has been suggested...
SOURCE: Fox News (10-28-09)
Rocco Landesman rendered unto Obama that considerable compliment in a little-noticed speech to a group of art philanthropists in Brooklyn, N.Y., last week, praising the president as an "Optimist in Chief" who is developing "the most arts-supportive administration since Roosevelt."
Putting the president in the pantheon with such pencil-pushing powerhouses as the man who was, literally, the Czar of all Czars, Landesman said that since Obama "actually writes his own books," he's the most powerful man to be a true writer in the 2,000 years since Caesar strode the narrow earth.
"That has to be good for American artists," he said.
But one man's praise is another's dagger, say presidential historians, who called the speech a "bizarre" and illiterate attempt to praise a political patron -- and a big misfire for the NEA chief.
"Julius Caesar is historically the last person in the world that American presidents would want to be compared to," said historian Richard Brookhiser, who has written widely on the Founding Fathers. "He tried to subvert the republic -- that's why he was killed."
Though Caesar has been justly celebrated for his commentaries on Rome's Gallic and Civil Wars, he has been cursed by democrats for centuries for his role in the systematic destruction of Rome's republican government.
"Caesar ... was certainly the symbol during the whole founding period of the despot, of the aspiring despot," said Brookhiser. "The Founders insulted each other by calling each other Caesar."
A spokesman for the NEA called the chairman's comparison a "bit of an overstatement" -- a "rhetorical flourish" that still scored an important point.
SOURCE: Fox News (10-29-09)
Syrians are proud of the fact that Christians and Muslims have traditionally lived together in harmony in Syria. The historical monuments alone tell the story of the intertwining of faiths.
Massive columns, the remains of a pagan temple, which was at once the Temple of Hadad — and later the Temple of Jupiter — face the entrance to Damascus’ Umayyad Mosque, one of the holiest shrines in Islam. The mosque you see today was actually built on the site of the old temple. But there was yet another interlude.
When Christianity became the official religion of the Byzantine Empire, a basilica to St. John the Baptist was built on the site. In fact, reportedly the head of St. John the Baptist is buried in the mosque.
When the Muslims entered Damascus in 636 AD, Islamic places of worship were cobbled onto the site, and Christians and Muslims shared the space for prayer. In the early eighth century, with Damascus now the capital of the Muslim world, the basilica was converted entirely to a mosque at enormous cost and grandeur, with rich mosaics and precious stones. Some say it took seven years of tax to pay for the grandiose building.
Though now it is exclusively a Muslim place of worship, non-Muslims are welcome to visit. The mosque is always buzzing with visitors, from Americans to Iranian pilgrims.
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (10-31-09)
The three-year, $1.4 million project restored the Aslam al-Silahdar Mosque, built in 1344-1345 by Aslam al-Bahai, an amir or nobleman who rose to the position of "silahdar," or "swordbearer" for Sultan al-Nasir Mohammed, one of the most powerful of Egypt's Mamluk rulers.
It is tucked into Cairo's al-Darb al-Ahmar district, a dense warren of narrow, dusty alleyways. Many of its 92,000 inhabitants are among the poorest in Egypt, living on less than $1 a day, according to the Canadian Development Agency, which works in the community.
SOURCE: AP (10-31-09)
On Oct. 30, 1944, the all-Japanese-American 442nd Regimental Combat Team broke through the German lines in the Vosges Mountains of northern France and relieved 1st Battalion, 141st Regiment, 36th Infantry Division.
Together, the veterans will mark the 65th anniversary of the rescue at a Sunday fundraising gala hosted by the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation at Houston's Hyatt Regency Hotel.
SOURCE: AP (10-29-09)
Bergier received wide renown for leading an international panel in a major study that in 2001 concluded Switzerland "got involved in (Nazi) crimes by abandoning refugees to their persecutors" even though the Swiss government knew by 1942 of the Nazis' "final solution" and that rejected refugees would likely face deportation and death.
The Swiss government has formally apologized to Jews for its World War II policies.
Name of source: Discovery News
SOURCE: Discovery News (10-19-09)
The markings reveal how ancient artisans could have crafted the mosaic during the Roman period.
Spreading over 180 square meters (215 square yards), the mosaic -- apparently the floor of a lavish Roman villa -- was uncovered 13 years ago at Lod, south of Tel Aviv, only three feet under an asphalt road not far from Ben-Gurion Airport.
Name of source: The Washington Post
SOURCE: The Washington Post (10-31-09)
The addition contains three new attractions: the Victory Theater, which will show a 35-minute immersive and literally seat-shaking 4-D film of the epic battles of the war; the Stage Door Canteen, which will re-create the entertainment that took place in famous wartime venues; and the American Sector restaurant, which will serve 1940s-inspired food by John Besh, one of New Orleans's top chefs (and a veteran of the Persian Gulf War).
The three days of opening festivities that begin Friday have been dubbed "Experience the Victory," a reference to not just the war but also the comeback of New Orleans's cultural institutions and tourism since Hurricane Katrina. According to the city's Convention and Visitors Bureau, the number of visitors has not yet reached pre-Katrina levels, but it's increasing every year. The city now has more restaurants -- at least 1,000 -- than ever and more weekend festivals than you can shake an alligator sausage at. Nearly every month, it seems, some Katrina-closed institution reopens.
The new building, one of four slated to be added to the museum by 2015 at a total cost of $300 million, is the largest addition to the city's cultural landscape since the 2005 hurricane.
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
The disclosure will reignite the row over the release of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds despite his conviction for the murder of 270 people when Pan Am flight 103 exploded in mid-air over Lockerbie in 1988.
Megrahi, who is suffering terminal prostate cancer, was sent home to Libya to die after medical experts concluded in a report on July 30 he had just three months left to live. The time span was crucial because only prisoners with three months or less to survive are eligible for release on compassionate grounds.
But three months on from Prof Sikora's diagnosis, Megrahi is well enough to "walk and talk" and shows no sign of deterioration, according to a senior source involved in his release.
The three statesmen, who played key roles in the fall of the Wall, exchanged warm greetings as they met near the site of the Wall.
Age had taken a toll on the three - Mr Kohl was in a wheelchair while Mr Bush, who arrived with his wife Barbara, walked with a cane. Notably absent was Baroness Thatcher, the then British prime minister, who is in ill health but was also initially highly sceptical of the merits of German unification.
Celebrations will reach a peak in Berlin next Monday. Ahead of the anniversary, the Telegraph's former Berlin correspondent Philip Sherwell returned to the city to assess what has changed in the last 20 years.
Government officials want to look at the claims of Tony Gauci, the shopkeeper who identified the Libyan as the man responsible for placing explosives on Pan Am Flight 103.
Mr Gauci ran a clothes shop, in Swieqi, Malta in 1988, and claimed Megrahi purchased an incriminating piece of clothing found among the debris of the aircraft.
But he has long been dogged by accusations that he concocted the story to receive a multi-million payout from the US.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-30-09)
"Even now you can hear people say that what happened to the many victims was justified by certain higher government aims," said a sombre-faced Mr Medvedev.
"[But] nothing can be placed higher than the value of human life. There can be no justification for the repressions."
It was vital to remember and mourn the millions of victims, he added.
Mr Medvedev's words will anger many older Russians who still hero-worship Stalin, arguing that he masterminded the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany and turned the country into a superpower...
Point de Vue presents the 41-year-old wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy as a daffy multi-millionaire socialite who does very little real work and is completely out of touch with ordinary people.
The attack by the Paris weekly, which specialises in covering the lives of aristocrats and European royalty, will come as a huge blow to Mr Sarkozy as he fights to deflect accusations of a monarchical style.
While Marie Antoinette relied on court artist Elisabeth Vigee-Le Brun for her flattering portraits, Miss Bruni gets hers done by American photographer Annie Lebovitz, who charges thousands of dollars a picture.
Under the plan, the Iraqi fighters were given orders to attack Baghdad's Green Zone and the headquarters of the US Marines at the capital's airport, before raiding his jail at Camp Cropper near the airport, according to Khalil al-Dulaimi who wrote Saddam Hussein Out of US Prison: What Happened.
Dulaimi said the plan was dropped "after a shooting incident outside (Saddam's) detention centre, which led to fortifying the facility and boosting security measures."
Six months later, Saddam was dead. He was hanged in December after being convicted of crimes against humanity for the killing of 148 Shiite civilians following an assassination attempt against him in 1982.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-30-09)
Fritz Darges died at the weekend aged 96 with instructions for his manuscript about his time spent at the side of the Führer to be published once he was gone.
Darges was the last surviving member of Hitler's inner circle and was present for all major conferences, social engagements and policy announcements for four years of the war.
Experts say his account of his time as Hitler's direct link to the SS could discount the claims of revisionists who have tried to claim the German leader knew nothing of the extermination programme. Right-wing historians have claimed the planing for the murder of six million Jews was carried out by SS chief Heinrich Himmler.
Mainstream historians believe it inconceivable that Hitler did not issue verbal directives about the mass killings in Darges' presence. Other courtiers, such as armaments minister Albert Speer and propaganda chief Josef Goebbels, had their diaries published post war with no reference to hearing Hitler ordering the "Final Solution".
Darges died on Saturday still believing in the man who engineered the Jewish Holocaust as "the greatest who ever lived." His memoirs will be published now in accordance with his will.
When archaeologists arrived at Isar Marvinci in southern Macedonia, an ancient seat of power which flourished under the ancient Greeks but was razed to the ground by the Romans, they had hoped to begin excavations, but instead faced an unpleasant surprise.
Police officials are reluctant to estimate whether the amount of archaeological thefts has risen in recent years, but say that the business could be worth several million dollars a year. In the last two years, police have recorded 21 cases of cultural heritage theft, 16 of which have been solved.
Thieves are mostly interested in smaller pieces like money, silver, copper or ceramic pots, and stone figures. A wide-ranging network is believed to be organised through regional crime gangs, while buyers are easily found in Greece, Austria and Germany.
Organisers of the event in San Antonio, Texas say guests can also buy a group ticket which will allow them to "send your entire office" to see the former leader of the free world for $19 (£11.50).
Mr Bush features as the "special guest speaker" at the "Get Motivated!" seminar, a popular US programme of "motivational mega-shows" run by Peter and Tamara Lowe.
The picture was taken by William Fox Talbot, who helped to develop the newborn practice with his discovery, in 1840, of the calotype process which creates negative images.
The famous study of Trafalgar Square also shows St Martin-in-the-Field and Morley’s Hotel, later South Africa House, in the background.
The picture is one of 250 daguerreotypes, calotypes, negatives, X-ray and spirit photographs exhibited in Points of View, the British Library's first ever major photographic exhibition.
The pictures are drawn from its extensive collection of some 300,000 images and shows how the practice developed from its invention in 1839 by Frenchman Louis Daguerre to gentleman's pursuit then the primary means of visual expression in the modern age.
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (10-30-09)
Some of the assertions by Mr. Cheney in his interview with the prosecutor on May 8, 2004, appeared to conflict with testimony at the 2007 trial of his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice and whose sentence was later commuted by President George W. Bush.
SOURCE: NYT (10-29-09)
At a ceremony on the future site of the memorial across the Tidal Basin from the Jefferson Memorial, Ken Salazar, the Interior secretary, signed the construction permits, along with Harry E. Johnson, the memorial project’s chief executive.
“It is time to honor Martin Luther King Jr. right here in the nation’s front door,” Mr. Salazar said.
The signing ceremony was attended by the slain civil rights leader’s oldest and only living sibling, Dr. Christine King Farris; Representatives Sheila Jackson-Lee and Barbara Lee; Lisa Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator, and members of Mr. King’s college fraternity, Alpha Phi Alpha, including Senator Roland Burris of Illinois.
SOURCE: NYT (10-28-09)
Instead of collecting information only on people about whom they had a tip or links to the teenager, agents fanned out to scrutinize Somali communities, including in Seattle and Columbus, Ohio. The operation unfolded as the Bush administration was relaxing some domestic intelligence-gathering rules.
The F.B.I.’s interpretation of those rules was recently made public when it released, in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit, its “Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide.”; The disclosure of the manual has opened the widest window yet onto how agents have been given greater power in the post-Sept. 11 era.
Name of source: The Chronicle of Higher Education
SOURCE: The Chronicle of Higher Education (10-25-09)
The former U.S. president's alma mater, a small liberal-arts college in central Illinois, has a Reagan society, a Reagan museum, and a Reagan Physical Education Center. An annotated map on the college's Web site notes where Mr. Reagan gave his first public speech (the Chapel, 1928) and where he competed on the swim team (Pritchard Hall).
Next month the college will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in another campus landmark named for the Illinois native: the Ronald Reagan Peace Garden, where a portion of the wall stands in his honor.
"I think Ronald Reagan had a closer relationship with Eureka College than just about any president has had with his or her alma mater," says John D. Morris, director of development for the Ronald W. Reagan Leadership Program and the Ronald Reagan Museum at the college.
Name of source: Austrian Times
SOURCE: Austrian Times (10-31-09)
Irene Forstner-Müller, the head of the Austrian Archaeological Institute’s (ÖAI) branch office in Cairo, said today (Thurs) the find had occurred at the site of the ancient town of Avaris near what is today the city of Tell el-Dab’a in the eastern Nile delta.
The Hyksos conquered Egypt and reigned there from 1640 to 1530 B.C.
She said a recently-discovered cuneiform tablet had led archaeologists to suspect there had been contact between the Babylonians and the Hyksos.
Forstner-Müller added that Manfred Bietak had begun archaeological research on the period of Hyksos dominance at the remains of a Hyksos palace at Avaris in 1966.
Name of source: Salon/Lost in Berlin
SOURCE: Salon/Lost in Berlin (10-29-09)
When Europe was “moral”
Today it is difficult to conceive that the hedonistic Europe consistently denounced by the American Right – who delight in pointing their fingers at the excesses of the likes of Roman Polanski or at the “green” brothels of Berlin – was once as straight-laced as the Oral Roberts University campus, at least when it came to childrearing. The German weekly youth magazine Bravo from the Kindler & Schiermeyer publishing company in Munich was no exception to the squeaky clean image the post-war Federal Republic was endeavoring to present to the world. Founded in 1956, the original Bravo revolved almost solely around the world of pop stars and entertainment (the first issue displayed Marilyn Monroe on the cover). A lackluster romance advice column was added in 1962, but otherwise the magazine maintained its overall wholesomeness throughout the Beatles era. But all of that changed in October of 1969, when the publishers added a new column, “What Moves You: A Consultation with Dr. Jochen Sommer,” which tackled youthful readers’ sex questions head-on.
Those kids sure had plenty of questions – an average of 3,000 a week, in fact – and Dr. Sommer’s answers ushered in a sexual revolution among German youth. These were still the days when parents blushed at the mere thought of discussing reproductive issues with their children. Today’s mandatory (and perfunctory) sex education in the schools was still a utopia. In fact, according to a recent survey one out of six German adults today attribute their understanding of the birds and the bees to Dr. Sommer’s columns and personal responses. The real figure is probably much higher.
What made his columns stand out was their refreshing openness. Dr. Sommer did not hesitate to call body parts and functions by their real names. In an age where many parents and teachers still warned teenagers that masturbation would drive them insane – or at least cause hair to grow on the palms of their hands – he also shattered a profound taboo by proclaiming the practice to be completely harmless and even natural. As a result, government authorities banned two issues of the magazine in 1972. “Sexual maturity alone does not authorize one to start up one’s sexual organs,” the child welfare agency sniffed. School teachers regularly confiscated it from students and the East German government banned the magazine altogether until 1990.
But times were changing fast, and by the end of the decade Germany was scarcely recognizable when it came to public attitudes about sex. This was to a large extent due to Dr. Sommer and the youth revolution he set into motion. Later columns touched on concerns such as condom etiquette, premature ejaculation, the elusive “G-spot,” and multiple partners. When I first encountered Bravo as a student in the 1980s it appeared to me to be nothing but a youthful version of Cosmopolitan...
Name of source: The Local (Sweden)
SOURCE: The Local (Sweden) (10-29-09)
Parts of a bow, a paddle, and the wooden shaft of an axe are among the discoveries recently unearthed from the Stone Age settlement Kanaljorden outside of Motala, according to local media reports.
“Totally unbelievable,” project leader Fredrik Hallgren with the Stiftelsen Kulturmiljövård Mälardalen (‘Cultural Preservation Society of Mälardalen’) told the local newspaper Motala & Vadstena Tidning.
All of the artifacts except for the axe blade are made of wood. The objects have been preserved for thousands of years because a layer of peat covered the mud in which they were found.
The discovery is unique for central Sweden, and the bow is the first of its kind ever discovered in Sweden.
Name of source: Live Science
SOURCE: Live Science (10-29-09)
Like Halloween itself, the display and carving of pumpkins – from the lanterns placed inside to the scary faces we pick – has pagan origins that morphed with the passage of time as well as the crossing of an ocean.
The modern traditions of Halloween have roots in a Celtic holiday called Samhain, which was celebrated throughout Western Europe (but especially Ireland) every Oct. 31 to mark the end of the summer and the final harvest.
Name of source: BBC
It was too late for the vet to save Tino and Zorrita. The Labradors died from poison which had been left on the doorstep of their owner's home in a middle-class Lima suburb.
Then came the telephone calls. "What we did to your dogs. We are going to do to you," said the deep-voiced caller.
Salomon Lerner, a university rector, is not, you might think, the typical target for death threats. Some years ago, he was president of Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an exhaustive investigation into the country's bitter civil war between 1980 and 2000.
Now, along with Peru's most famous author, Mario Vargas Llosa, he is part of a commission to create a museum of remembrance for the victims.
But memory is controversial in Peru.
Three decades ago, dead dogs were hung from lampposts - symbols of the capitalist state which the Shining Path proclaimed it would overthrow in a popular revolution, irrigated by a river of blood.
But the Shining Path do not kill dogs anymore.
Salomon Lerner's Labradors were, it appears, poisoned by an extreme faction of Peru's political right who disagree, sometimes violently, with the conclusions of the commission he presided over...
The first was 14 years - that is the amount of time she has now spent in detention during the past two decades.
The second was to meet Western diplomats and begin talks with Burmese military leaders - talks which some think could see her released.
"Given the impasse of the last 20 years, what has happened in the last three months gives us the hope there will be some movement," says Derek Tonkin, a former British ambassador and current Burma activist...
... Soon after the trial ended, Senator Jim Webb became the most senior US official to meet Burma's top general, Than Shwe.
He was also allowed to see Aung San Suu Kyi - something even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon could not do.
As a man reporting back directly to President Barack Obama, his message that "sanctions hadn't worked" was what the generals wanted to hear...
Desire Munyaneza, 42, was found guilty in May in the first court case brought under Canada's 2000 War Crimes Act.
He was convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in 1994.
Munyaneza was accused of leading a militia whose members raped and killed dozens of Tutsis, and of orchestrating a massacre of 300-400 Tutsis in a church.
But during his first official visit to Scotland Louis Susman also highlighted America's disappointment.
Mr Susman said the relationship with the UK was like a marriage but also strong enough to thrive.
SOURCE: BBC (10-28-09)
According to police reports, the three men were among the Bosnian Serb forces who overran the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica in July 1995.
They then allegedly took part in the execution of some 8,000 Muslims.
It is the only episode of the Bosnian war that has been ruled a genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
Carl-Wolfgang Holzapfel was arrested by the police in the 1960s while at a demonstration in East Berlin.
He spent nine months in a secret Stasi prison, where he was abused and tortured.
He plans to spend seven days living in the small cell with all his movements broadcast live on the internet.
Name of source: Time
SOURCE: Time (10-30-09)
As his legend has grown ever larger, Mandela has been faced with all of these situations. (The Mandela Burger — 200 grams of beef, topped with salad, tomato, cheddar cheese, and accompanied by fries and a choice of guacamole, salsa or jalapeños — costs a whopping $24 at Café Mandela in Copenhagen.) Increasingly, however, Mandela's handlers are fighting back.
Earlier this month, Republic of the Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso included a 53-word excerpt from a speech Mandela is said to have given on a visit to the Republic of the Congo as a foreword to his autobiography, Straight Speaking for Africa. In it Mandela praises Nguesso as "not only one of our great African leaders ... but also one of those who gave their unconditional support to our fighters' demand for freedom, and who worked tirelessly to free oppressed peoples from their chains and help restore their dignity and hope."
The Nelson Mandela Foundation, based in Johannesburg, vehemently denied that the former South African leader endorsed the book by Nguesso (who first came to power in 1979, was ousted in an election in 1992 and seized control again in a 1997 coup). "Mr. Mandela has neither read the book nor written a foreword for it," the foundation said in a statement. "We condemn this brazen abuse of Mr. Mandela's name." Officials of the Republic of the Congo — also known as Congo-Brazzaville — said the remarks came from a speech Mandela gave at a banquet in 1996, though the foundation said it has no record of it.
Mandela, who will be 91 this year, rarely appears in public and increasingly relies on the managers of his foundation to manage his affairs. Now they're grappling with a tricky issue: At what point does a very famous man become a private brand, a legacy to be protected? And is it possible to copyright history?...
SOURCE: Time (10-29-09)
The agency has declined comment on the Times story, but Karzai's CIA connection "has been an open secret in Afghanistan for many years," says Gretchen Peters, author of Seeds of Terror, an authoritative account of Afghanistan's opium-terrorism nexus. In Kandahar, the former Taliban stronghold where Karzai is alleged to have helped the agency stand up a local paramilitary, Kandahar Strike Force, that group has long been half-jokingly known by locals as "the CIA's bastards." (See pictures of the battle against the Taliban.)
Karzai has not been formally charged with any involvement in drugs, but allegations about his connections to the opium trade — which also helps finance the Taliban and al-Qaeda — are legion. Even if true, they would hardly disqualify him from being a CIA asset. "If you want inside information on shady dealings, you have to deal with shady people," says Amy Zegart, a UCLA professor and national-security expert. "Nobody should expect to find Boy Scouts on the agency's payroll." (Read "Why the CIA Can't Be Picky About Afghan Partners.")
Name of source: The Daily Beast
SOURCE: The Daily Beast (10-29-09)
Name of source: WSJ
SOURCE: WSJ (10-30-09)
More than a decade later, long after the two men reached a truce, Neizvestny sculpted Khrushchev's tombstone. The monument, commissioned by Khrushchev's family and erected in Moscow's Novodevichy Cemetery, features black granite colliding with white marble in cubist formations that bracket Khrushchev's bronze head. The design represents the conflicted ying-and-yang of Khrushchev's character -- the bright, progressive reformer who denounced Josef Stalin and closed the Gulag, intertwined painfully with the dark, shoe-banging man who stuck to retrograde tactics and encouraged building the Berlin Wall. Visitors took to the candid monument, which became, so to speak, dog-doo de rigueur. The Soviet authorities closed Novodevichy Cemetery to the public in the 1970s soon after Khrushchev was interred there, only reopening it in 1987 during Perestroika.
Standing at Khrushchev's grave, one need only look around the graveyard, in the shadow of the dark salmon cupolas of the 16th-century Novodevichy Convent, to unearth an intriguing, tortured history. There's the grave of Nadezhda Alliluyeva, found dead in an apparent suicide after a spat with her husband, Stalin; there's the tomb of Nikolai Gogol, whose remains arrived at the cemetery from Danilov Monastery, which the secret police converted to a detention center in the 1930s; and there's the grave of Anton Chekhov, whose tubercular body was reportedly transported back to Moscow from Western Europe in 1904 in a railcar reserved for fresh oysters. The Russian cemetery, like its grand European counterparts, is a tapestry of cultural history that brings to bear the idiosyncrasies and paradoxes of individual personalities. But it also illustrates, in shades of stone grey, a vexed social topography of the past.
Across Europe, historically minded tourists are increasingly appreciating the allure of grand cemeteries like Novodevichy. Vienna's Zentralfriedhof, with over three million graves, including those of the twice-exhumed Ludwig van Beethoven and musical modernist Arnold Schönberg, has seen an increase in visitors recently. So has Venice's Isola di San Michele, the crowded, cypress-speckled funerary Isle of the Dead, a former prison island that was transformed into a cemetery at the behest of Napoleon and now houses the graves of Ezra Pound and Sergei Diaghilev. It is easy to understand the appeal. As Mark Twain noted after seeing the eerily expressive funerary sculptures of Genoa's Staglieno Cemetery, "To us these far-reaching ranks of bewitching forms are a hundredfold more lovely than the damaged and dingy statuary they have saved from the wreck of ancient art and set up in the galleries of Paris for the worship of the world." Compared to dingy museums, Europe's landscapes of the dead are infinitely more alive...
SOURCE: WSJ (10-30-09)
Both the Democrat and Republican candidates are African-American, with Democrat Kim Bracey, York's former director of community development and a relative newcomer to politics, the favorite to win in a city where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by nearly 2 to 1.
Republican Wendell Banks failed to appear at the only scheduled debate earlier this month, later saying that he was ill. He couldn't be reached to comment.
It has taken a long time for this city to heal from the racial strife, in part because of lingering echoes of the riots. More than 30 years passed before any charges were brought -- after new evidence came to light and an investigation was revived -- in the 1969 killings of a white police officer and an African-American woman during weeks of violence between white and black youths.
In 2001, York's mayor, who had been a police officer during the unrest, was charged with murder for allegedly inciting white gangs involved in killing the African-American woman. The mayor resigned before being acquitted in 2002. Others were convicted of murder, in separate cases, of the woman and the police officer.
"It took a while to clean that slate," said John Brenner, York's current mayor, adding that the coming election "is something for us to celebrate."
Civil-rights historians say the election is an important symbolic shift for the city and credit decades of antidiscrimination initiatives and the more recent influx of minorities, particularly Hispanics, who have eroded the dominance of white voters. Those gradual changes received a boost from last year's election of President Barack Obama, which energized the African-American community here and led to increased voter registration...
Name of source: LA Times
SOURCE: LA Times (10-30-09)
Members of South Korea's ruling Grand National Party met informally in Seoul this month with counterparts from the majority Democratic Party of Japan. One of the main topics was whether a joint history textbook could now be developed with government cooperation.
Kang Yong-seok, a GNP lawmaker, was among the South Korean politicians who approached the Japanese.
"We [told DPJ] members that it would be very meaningful to write a common textbook," Kang said, citing a history textbook created through German-French cooperation.
"We didn't think the idea was impossible, but the countries have been unable to agree on historical matters," said DPJ member Masashi Mito. "We agreed to revisit and delve into the differences of historical perspectives and look into how realistic such a project can be."
Unrelated to the talks between the politicians, Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents' Club this month that a trilateral textbook could help mend fences on historical matters.
Name of source: Newsweek
SOURCE: Newsweek (10-29-09)
Winners—of prehistory no less than history—get to write the textbooks. So it is no surprise that we, the children of the humans who replaced Neanderthals, "portray ourselves in the role of victors and reduce the rest [of the human lineage] to the lower echelons of vanquished," Finlayson writes. "To accept our existence as the product of chance requires a large dose of humility." But in a provocative new book, The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals Died Out and We Survived, he argues that chance is precisely what got us here. "A slight change of fortunes and the descendants of the Neanderthals would today be debating the demise of those other people that lived long ago," he argues.
Evolutionary biologists have long recognized the role serendipity plays in which species thrive and which wither on the Darwinian vine. Without the asteroid impact 65 million years ago, for instance, mammals would not have spread so soon into almost every ecological niche on Earth (dinosaurs were in the way). Yet when the subject strikes as close to home as why our ancestors survived and Neanderthals did not, scientists have resisted giving chance a starring role, preferring to credit the superiority of ancient H. sapiens. Both are descendants of Homo erectus: some spread across Eurasia beginning 1.8 million years ago and evolved into Neanderthal by 300,000 years ago, and others evolved in Africa, becoming anatomically modern by 200,000 years ago and reaching Europe some 45,000 years ago...
Name of source: CNSNews.com
SOURCE: CNSNews.com (10-29-09)
Obama approved the new rules -- most of which he proposed in May -- as part of a $680 billion defense policy bill that cut some pricey and overlapping military weapons programs.
Name of source: BBC History Magazine
SOURCE: BBC History Magazine (10-20-09)
Professor Arne Westad, London School of Economics:"There is no automatic cut-off point for when history stops and current affairs begin."
Professor Keith Laybourn, University of Huddersfield:"1968. Before that there was history, after that we began to enter the modern world of current affairs."
Professor Patricia Hudson, University of Cardiff:"There is no chronological cut-off point between history and current affairs."
Professor Margot Finn, University of Warwick:"I’m minded to turn the question on its head. When does ‘current affairs’ begin?"
Professor Avner Offer, University of Oxford:"History is not a period in time, but a quest for the truth."
Professor Arne Westad, London School of Economics: "There is no automatic cut-off point for when history stops and current affairs begin. History is a set of methodologies and approaches that all, in various ways, underline the need for sources. As long as you have enough sources to critically interpret the past, then you can write history. A number of very talented young people are already writing the history of the post-1989 world, and they are doing it very well!"
Professor Paul Fouracre, University of Manchester: "History requires that there be a certain distance between event and analysis if the latter is to assess the former in terms of significance and consequence. That analysis also requires the assembly of all possible relevant information. History ends and current affairs begin at the point at which consequence is unknowable, documents are unavailable and at which moment reaction rather than memory informs oral testimony. In Britain an obvious definition of that point would be the 30-year rule on the release of information."
Professor Keith Laybourn, University of Huddersfield: "My own cut-off point would be 1968. Before that there was history, after that we began to enter the modern world of current affairs. It was the year of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and the year of student disturbances in Paris, the United States, and even Britain. People in all parts of the world were demanding that there should be greater transparency in politics and more equality in society. It was also the year (4 April 1968) when Martin Luther King was shot in Memphis, Tennessee. It was a year of great hope, and great despair for democratic rights and the challenges to racism. We have gone a long way on from then, although the recent problems of the British parliamentary system suggest not far enough. However, after 1968 things began to change, although often slowly at first."
Dr Sabine Lee, University of Birmingham: "Contemporary history, even in its loosest definition, refers to events in the recent past, the effects of which have an immediate impact on and relevance for the present. In contrast, current affairs are ongoing cultural, political and social events of importance and interest at the present time. There is no clear point in time at which a current event ‘becomes’ historical – the boundary is fluid and dependent on the nature of the event in question. A single, self-contained event in the very recent past may be classed as historical whereas an ongoing process starting earlier than that single event and carrying forward into the present may be regarded as a current affair."
Professor John Childs, University of Leeds: "Starting from the most recently lapsed nanosecond, history studies the totality of the past. Initial accounts and interpretations will be journalistic and under-considered but, gradually, the passage of time makes available additional sources enabling increasingly mature and comprehensive constructions. However, just as recorded music takes colour from the instruments of reproduction, so history undergoes colouration from the intellects and contemporary perspectives of generations of historians. There is no boundary between current affairs and history, only progress along a continuous road."
Professor Patricia Hudson, University of Cardiff: "There is no chronological cut-off point between history and current affairs. Whatever just happened, earlier today, yesterday, or in recent or distant decades is all similarly in the past. Whether this or that part of the past then becomes the object of historical study is the important question. This will depend upon current as well as past issues and questions that historians are drawn to and whether the investigative tools of the historian throw light on events in ways not easily replicated by journalism, sociology, economics or other present-centred disciplines. The task of the historian is to point to similarities and differences between past and present phenomena in order to avoid the trap of thinking that all can be understood simply by observing the here and the now."
Professor Margot Finn, University of Warwick: "Where does history end and current affairs begin? When I was a PhD student at Columbia in the 1980s, we were told very sternly that our discipline’s territory stopped in the 1950s – everything after that was ‘political science’. Since that time, the turn away from high political history has contributed – together with developments such as postmodernism – to the deconstruction of such rigid views. I’d now venture that history (not current affairs, and certainly not political science) is what is happening as I type this reply. Your question is amenable to historical analysis and my response is saturated by the past. So I’m minded to turn the question on its head. When does ‘current affairs’ begin?"
Professor Avner Offer, University of Oxford: "Purists at Oxford used to insist that history should be studied entirely for its own sake. That implied stopping a good way from the present. From another point of view, history is not a period in time, but a quest for the truth. It investigates change over time, and concentrates on unrepeatable chains of events, which can nevertheless be studied using the approaches of both humanities and social sciences. The present has come out of the past, and needs a knowledge of the past in order to be understood. If historical understanding is valid for the past it is valid for the present as well. My own practice as a scholar and teacher has no temporal boundaries. Indeed, the future is also constrained by the past; it will change over time, and is therefore suitable for investigation with the approaches of history."
Professor Evan Mawdsley, University of Glasgow: "For historians of modern Russia this question has an easy answer: history ended on 19 August 1991, with the coup against Mikhail Gorbachev and the beginning of the collapse of Russian communism. Everything changed after that: the political system, historical perspectives, and the availability of sources. Those of us who studied ‘Soviet’ history were now in a new world. I suppose this could be extended for others to the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989. All these events were nearly 20 years ago, and they reflect a personal perspective and a particular society, but in general it takes about a generation (20 years) after an event before the source-base and perspective make ‘history’ with any lasting value possible. On the other hand, I understand it can be hard to wait that long: just now I’m reading The Gamble by Thomas Ricks (Penguin, 2009), a ‘history’ of events that occurred a year or two ago in Iraq."
SOURCE: BBC History Magazine (10-30-09)
The very recent past should be considered history. That’s the result of a BBC History Magazine survey, which found that the majority of respondents believe the cut-off between current affairs and history occurred no more than ten years ago. Close to a third insisted that even a second before the present counts as history.
We commissioned this poll to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall, a momentous event that has perhaps only recently begun to be thought of as history. We asked members of BBC Magazines Insiders (formerly the Reader panels), “When in your view to events in the past become history?”
The survey results in full:
A second ago – 31%
10 years ago – 28%
20 years ago – 6%
30 years ago – 4%
40 years ago – 1%
50 years ago – 4%
Over 50 years ago – 4%
Before I was born – 4%
When no-one is alive who experienced that event – 5%
Other – 12%
Of the 1897 respondents 31% stated that a single second in the past could be considered history. The most common argument for this point of view was summarised by one individual who wrote: “One second ago is the past, and the past is history.”
Of course not everyone shared this view. The second most popular response, with 28% of the vote, was that a decade ago was when events shifted into the realm of history. “I believe 10 years is sufficient time to develop some useful perspective on the event yet not dismiss it simply because it happened too recently.” said one respondent.
Earlier options were distinctly less popular. Only 6% felt the cut off was 20 years ago, 4% opted for 30 years ago and a mere 1% believed that 40 years ago represented the boundary between history and current affairs. The days when anything after the Second World War was considered too recent for history appear to be long gone as just 4% plumped for history having begun 50 years ago, with a further 4% arguing it began earlier than that.
Some people preferred a more personal response. Of those surveyed, 4% felt that history began before their own birth. “If I can place myself with regard to the events, even if I was very young, I can't look backwards to it,” said one.
Others thought that broader human memory was an important factor, believing that history comes into being when nobody is left alive who experienced an event. This answer was chosen by 5% of those surveyed, one of who wrote: “For me, history is anything which is not within living memory. If someone can still remember and talk about an event, it is still current and alive and could be classed as ‘recent past’ events. If it has to be read about or heard via [a] second generation or more, then it has passed into history.”
Name of source: Medieval News
SOURCE: Medieval News (10-28-09)
Bosworth, fought in 1485 and ending in the death of Richard III, was believed to have taken place on Ambion Hill, near Sutton Cheney in Leicestershire. But following a three-year project, the Battlefields Trust said the discovery of ammunition two miles to the south west proved the location was wrong.
The battle ended decades of civil war which is now known as the Wars of The Roses. The death of Richard ended the Plantagenent dynasty and ushered in the Tudors.
The traditional site has a flag at the crest of the hill, a stone to mark the spot where Richard fell and a recently renovated visitors' centre. But debate over the actual site of the battle had been going on for more than 25 years before a project, with £154,000 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, was set up to settle the matter.
Dr Glenn Foard, from the Battlefields Trust, said: "The battle was not fought on Ambion Hill at all, we have found the battlefield two miles away, down in the valley. That is where the Wars of the Roses were decided."
Name of source: USA Today
SOURCE: USA Today (10-28-09)
Well, Count von Zeppelin, it turns out.
And now we're celebrating a century of his 1909 bright idea: passenger airline travel.
"Really, it was sort of a desperation measure," says historian Ron Davies of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. "He couldn't sell enough of his zeppelins to the military, so he decided to sell tickets."
Once Europe's most famous man, Count Ferdinand Adolf Heinrich August Graf von Zeppelin started up the first air service for paying passengers this month in 1909, says Davies, author of Lufthansa: An Airline and Its Aircraft. From 1910 to 1914, more than 34,000 passengers, many of them military officers sizing up airships as weapons, sailed the friendly skies aboard zeppelins.
The technology died away, not that there aren't some who would love to resurrect the civility of such gentle air travel today. But the echoes of Zeppelin's creations are seen still in the blimps (which differ from zeppelins in their lack of a rigid structure) floating over sporting events, and NASA's eight-hour flight Oct. 6 to monitor environmental conditions over San Francisco from the Zeppelin NT004 Eureka, owned by Airship Ventures of Moffet Field, Calif.
Name of source: boston.com
SOURCE: boston.com (10-29-09)
Officially, Rhode Island is called “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,’’ which some say conjures painful images of slavery in a state whose captains once grew wealthy off the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Critics of the move to shorten the state’s formal moniker argue the unwieldy name merely shows how several settlements merged into one colony.
After years of debate, House lawmakers decided yesterday to approve a referendum allowing voters to decide whether to delete “Providence Plantations’’ from the name. The Senate approved the measure this year.
SOURCE: boston.com (10-29-09)
A short time later, Greene heard that United Flight 93 had crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pa. “My first reaction was, ‘Good, it didn’t hit another target,’ ’’ Greene recalled.
But Greene’s world soon began to dissolve when a brother called with the news that another sibling, Donald Freeman Greene, was on that plane. “I can’t really describe how dark and horrible that was,’’ Greene said.
Eight years later, as a roiling debate unfolds about US strategy in Afghanistan, Greene said she feels no need to sacrifice more American troops in a country where the 9/11 attacks were hatched.
“There has to be a way to build more bridges rather than destroy them,’’ Greene said. “I think the media assume that the families want revenge, like that’s respecting the family and the family member’s memory.’’
But just as the proposal to send more troops to Afghanistan has divided Washington and the country, the loved ones of the victims of Sept. 11 react in different ways despite their common bond of sudden, terrible tragedy.
Some believe that Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies must be defeated to ensure American security. Others believe that the American military effort in Afghanistan is a counterproductive drain of US blood and treasure. And another faction thinks that withdrawal would imperil a vulnerable nation that now needs US protection...
Name of source: Caribbean Life
SOURCE: Caribbean Life (10-20-09)
The six bronze figures standing atop a granite base, in downtown Savannah, Ga., represent more than 500 free black volunteers from Haiti who fought for American independence in the revolutionary war battle of Savannah.
“Maybe it was their first fight. Maybe it was many fights later, but I had to put myself in the position of being a fighter. Whether holding that musket or what kind of emotions they were experiencing. So that’s what I try to capture in their faces,” said sculptor James Mastin, as the monument was officially unveiled over the weekend.
“I’m very proud of my country, and I’m very proud to be Haitian; and, I want all Haitians to be proud of themselves,” said Daniel Fils-Aime, chairman of the Miami-based Haitian American Historical Society. “We have a lot of history.
“This is a testimony to tell people we Haitians didn’t come from the boat,” he added. “We were here in 1779 to help America win independence. That recognition is overdue.”
Name of source: UC Santa Cruz
SOURCE: UC Santa Cruz (10-28-09)
"I took it on a whim my sophomore year and ended up loving it," recalled Baker-Rabe. "It was an 8 a.m. class, but it ended up being my favorite. I realized this is what I want to do forever."
Taught by assistant professor of anthropology J. Cameron Monroe, the class opened a door that led Baker-Rabe to West Africa, where she spent seven weeks this past summer as part of UCSC's first undergraduate archaeological expedition to Benin.
Under Monroe's leadership, Baker-Rabe and seven other undergraduates spent nearly two months unearthing beads, bits of pottery, and other artifacts that yield clues to the everyday lives of Africans during the 18th and 19th centuries. Galvanized by the experience, she now plans to apply to graduate school and pursue a Ph.D. in archaeology.
"I was pretty excited to find my first sherd of ceramic, and about three weeks into the dig, I found a blue bead," recalled Baker-Rabe, now a senior. Lessons from the class flooded back to her as the team uncovered fragments of tobacco pipes, glass bottles, European porcelain, ironware, and ritual items.
Artifacts, oral histories, and scant documentary evidence are all that remain of the precolonial history of the kingdom of Dahomey (pronounced DAH-hoe-may) in the southern portion of the Republic of Benin. The region is of great historical significance because approximately 20 percent of all enslaved Africans bound for the New World passed through the area, according to Monroe.
Much of what is known about the region is based on documents related to the transatlantic slave trade, including shipping records, account books, and the diaries of European slave traders, merchants, and missionaries. But there is very little evidence of what communities were like in the West African interior.
Archaeology can shed light on this lost history, said Monroe, who is tracing evidence of past settlements to learn how villagers interacted, traded, and moved between the coast, cities, and the countryside.
"It was a tense and terrifying time for people" as slave raiders swept up tens of thousands of Africans and displaced many more, said Monroe, whose work is contributing to the understanding of how Africans coped with the pressures of the slave trade.
"The village of Cana, where we're working, has a deep history of migration and immigration from distance regions," he said. "It became a heterogeneous, diverse community. Like Los Angeles in the 20th century, nobody was from there."
Since 2000, Monroe has focused his research on excavating former palace sites and remnants of villages in an effort to assemble evidence of what buildings looked like, how goods flowed, and even what rituals were performed.
"When times get tough, people get creative--about networks, the exchange of goods, and moving to safe areas," said Monroe. "Beads can say enormous things about what sorts of connections people were making."
In the field this summer, Monroe shared his passion for unlocking this "silent history" with an international team of students from four countries, including Benin. Monroe is the director of the UC Abomey Plateau Archaeological Project, which sponsored the expedition in collaboration with the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA.
The trip marked the first archaeological dig for each participant, including Baker-Rabe.
"Having that access to Cameron was really amazing," she said. "The history he's finding has never been recorded. No one would ever know."
The work was physically taxing: Participants rose at dawn and worked eight hours a day in the tropical sun, excavating deep pits with picks and hoes, hauling buckets of dirt, and cleaning and analyzing hundreds of artifacts.
"The first week, I was really sore," said Baker-Rabe, pointing to the well-defined "troweling muscles" of her right forearm. "I was tired and sore and sunburned, and I got malaria. It wasn't easy, but I was still happy."
The shared experience of working hard and learning together was deeply satisfying, and the pace of life slowed enough that Baker-Rabe said she was able to think deeply about her future. "We talked about graduate school, letters of recommendation, and different fields of archaeology," she recalled. "I had the time and the silence to think about these things critically and in terms of who I want to be."
Baker-Rabe still thinks about the trip every day. And she still gets her hands in the dirt every week as part of a class excavating the Cowell Lime Works Historic District at the base of campus.
For Monroe, the expedition advanced a pressing research agenda. The team spent several weeks excavating rural sites he discovered in 2007. Upon closer examination, two sites appear to have been quarries where iron-rich, pebbly earth was removed, probably for use in the construction of royal palaces. As such, they may represent evidence of African slave-labor camps, a significant discovery.
"If these sites were work camps, we can get in and see the inner workings of a precolonial slave community in West Africa for the first time," said Monroe. "Slavery existed in Africa before the Europeans, and this kingdom was heavily entrenched in the slave trade. It's terribly exciting." He plans to conduct intensive excavation of the sites next summer, when he expects to enroll 15 students and volunteers in the field program.
"I like training students," he said. "It's good experience for them, and their work contributes to broader research questions."
Monroe is eager for answers to those questions.
"We know a lot from historians and anthropologists," he said. "But archaeology can reveal complex settlement patterns, and when we get answers to those questions, we'll know a lot more about the everyday lives of precolonial Africans."
Name of source: Yahoo News
SOURCE: Yahoo News (10-29-09)
"It's the 40th year since the infant Internet first spoke," said University of California, Los Angeles, professor Leonard Kleinrock, who headed the team that first linked computers online in 1969.
Kleinrock led an anniversary event at the UCLA campus that blended reminiscence of the Internet's past with debate about its future.
"There is going to be an ongoing controversy about where we have been and where we are going," said Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the popular news and blog website that bears her name.
"It is not just about the Internet; it is about our times. We are going to need desperately to tap into the better angels of our nature and make our lives not just about ourselves but about our communities and our world."
Name of source: CNN
SOURCE: CNN (10-29-09)
But then-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was more seriously considering picking Clinton as his running mate than any of his senior aides realized, according to a forthcoming book by former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe.
Yet in the end, it may have been her husband President Clinton -- who had made headlines for his outbursts on the campaign trail during the primary season -- that ultimately scuttled the possibility.
In the book, excerpts of which are running in the new issue of Time magazine, Plouffe said Obama took both him and senior aide David Axelrod by surprise when he insisted on including Clinton on the initial list of potential picks for the No. 2 spot on the ticket.