Breaking NewsFollow Breaking News updates on RSS and Twitter
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: Medieval News
SOURCE: Medieval News (12-30-09)
In "Lycanthropy in Byzantine times (AD 330–1453)," four scholars from the University of Athens examine the writings of six Byzantine physicians to see what they believed lycanthropy was and how it should be treated.
SOURCE: Medieval News (12-29-09)
In her article, "Desirable teeth: the medieval trade in Arctic and African ivory," Kirsten Seaver criticizes that idea, and puts forward her own theory about why the Norse settlers mysteriously vanished from Greenland sometime during the 15th century.
In 1998, Danish archaeologist Else wrote an article which suggested that in the beginning of the fourteenth century, a surplus of reasonably priced elephant ivory from Africa caused ivory from walrus tusks to lose its market share, which were so catastrophic that it eventually led to the collapse of the entire Norse Greenland colony.
Name of source: Lee P Ruddin
SOURCE: Lee P Ruddin (12-30-09)
A wreath was laid at the Gladstone memorial in St John’s Gardens before a specially commissioned exhibition dedicated to his life and work was opened in St George’s Hall, less then a mile from his birthplace.
Items on show in the Grade I-listed building include diaries and books from the Grand Old Man’s career, newspaper cuttings of the Victorian day and a bust donated by Liverpool John Moores University.
The exhibition in the Gladstone Gallery runs until March 27, 2010.
Name of source: Atlantic
SOURCE: Atlantic (12-29-09)
The last decade has been no exception: we’ve published some 2,000 articles, and many turned out to be eerily prophetic. Nine years after James Fallows’s cover story “The 51st State,” Uncle Sam is, as our cover image anticipated, staggering under the weight of a smoldering Iraq. But inevitably, our crystal ball has its flaws. Here are five thoughtfully argued Atlantic predictions that never quite came to pass.
Name of source: The Economist
SOURCE: The Economist (12-31-09)
The presenter is Neil MacGregor, the BM's director, who has moved from the study of art to the contemplation of things. "Objects take you into the thought world of the past," he says. "When you think about the skills required to make something you begin to think about the brain that made it." From the first moment (the ghostly magnetic pulse from a star that exploded in the summer of 1054, as recorded at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics) this series is radio at its best: inventive, clever, and yet always light on its feet.
Mr MacGregor is less interested in advertising the marvels of the 250-year-old universal museum he heads than in considering who made the objects he discusses. That involves drawing together evidence of how connected seemingly disparate societies have always been and rebalancing the histories of the literate and the non-literate. "Victors write history; the defeated make things," he says. This is an especially important distinction when considering Africa. The great Encyclopedia Britannica" of 1911 assumed that Africa had no history because it had no written history. The statues of black pharaohs that Mr MacGregor discusses in an early programme, for example, are the best visual evidence that a Nubian tribe once seized control of ancient Egypt and that Africans ruled over the Nile for more than a century.
Of the 100 objects, only one has not been selected yet. Mr MacGregor is waiting until the last possible moment to pick out the best symbol of our own time. Suggestions, please, on a postcard to: British Museum, London WC1B 3DG.
Name of source: More Intelligent Life
SOURCE: More Intelligent Life (12-31-09)
The traditional story runs like this: Lady Jane Grey was born in 1537, the daughter of Henry VIII's royal niece, Frances, and her husband, Harry Grey, Marques of Dorset. The stout, bejewelled woman in a double portrait by Hans Eworth is still used to illustrate Frances's nature. "Physically she bore a marked resemblance to Henry VIII," notes Alison Weir, a best-selling historian, in her book "The Children of Henry VIII". Here was a woman, "determined to have her own way, and greedy for power and riches," who "ruled her husband and daughters tyrannically and, in the case of the latter, often cruelly."
The myth is encapsulated in Paul Delaroche's 1833 portrait of Jane, bound and dressed in white on the scaffold, a painting with all the erotic overtones of a virgin sacrifice.
So how did the myths begin? The answer is with Jane. Aware of the damage being done to the Protestant cause by its association with treason, she announced on the scaffold that while she was guilty in law of treason, having been proclaimed queen, she had never sought the throne but merely accepted it. From this kernel of truth wider claims about Jane's innocence took root. In the 17th and 18th century her story was influenced by the feminine passivity deemed appropriate in a young girl. A sexual dimension is evident in Edward Young's 1714 poem, "The Force of Religion", which invites men to gaze on a pure Jane in her "private closet". In the following decade the portrait of Lady Dacre was mislabelled as Frances.
The effigy of the slim and elegant woman on Frances's tomb in Westminster Abbey has since been ignored in favour of spurious comparisons to Henry VIII. She was far more useful as a sexist archetype, the powerful, sexual, ambitious and mannish mother, to be pitted against Jane, her helpless, chaste and feminine daughter. Although Mary Tudor inspired John Knox's diatribe against "the monstrous regiment of women", she was a less useful counterpoint to Jane as she was seen as being led by male figures–her foreign husband, priests and so forth. The re-invented Frances, by contrast, "ruled her husband".
Name of source: Yorkshire Evening Post (UK)
SOURCE: Yorkshire Evening Post (UK) (12-30-09)
Archaeologists found the artefact in a remote part of Dartmoor as part of a student field exercise.
The cross was first thought to be a gatepost, but after some research experts found it probably served as a Christian signpost or boundary stone.
The team, led by Win Scutt and Ross Dean of City College Plymouth, stumbled on the object when surveying the ruins of a medieval settlement on the slopes of Gutter Tor.
No longer upright, the 13th century cross was not identified until the last day of the survey.
Mr Scutt said: "We had assumed it was a gatepost until examining the shape of the stone and the incisions. We were bowled over when we realised what it actually was.
"They are found variously around Devon and Cornwall and have different functions. Some go back to Saxon times and are signposts to church.
"They are reminders to Christians in the more remote parts of the parish, so people are reminded to go to church. It is almost like an advert. A constant reminder."
Parishioners would already know the way to church so the cross was probably there to keep worship in people's minds.
Similar symbols are found today in country hillside roads in Greece, he added.
Although probably unfinished, the cross has been chiselled from a two-metre long block of granite.
The head has three arms, while the shaft is decorated with a long incised channel.
The cross lies close to the ruins of two medieval long houses that date to the same period.
The survey was carried out as part of a training exercise for students on the University of Plymouth's Foundation Degree in Archaeological Practice.
Name of source: Discovery News
SOURCE: Discovery News (12-28-09)
It's the equivalent of the English phrase "speak of the devil."
More than 1,700 years after his death, Cao Cao, warlord and ruler of northern China during the Three Kingdoms period, has indeed appeared, according to China Daily.
According to the report, Chinese archaeologists might have found the body of the legendary general in a 8,000 square foot tomb complex.
Unearthed in Xigaoxue village near the ancient capital of Anyang in central China's Henan Province, the tomb featured a 130-foot passage leading to an underground chamber.
In the chamber lay the remains of three individuals: a man aged about 60 and two women, one in her 50s and the other between 20 and 25 years.
The archaeologists believe the male was Cao, who died at age 65 in 220, the elder woman his empress, who died in 230, and the younger woman her servant.
A frequent character in Peking opera, recently portrayed in John Woo's blockbusters "Red Cliff" and "Red Cliff 2," Cao Cao (155–220) was a poet and a military genius. He unified much of northern China after the collapse of the Han dynasty.
Indeed, his adventures are recorded in one of the classics of Chinese literature, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, while his few remaining poems are still taught in schools throughout China.
Ever since the tomb was first excavated in December last year, more than 250 relics have been unearthed. They include pottery and objects made of gold and silver.
Among the various items, the researchers found several stone paintings depicting social life during Cao's time, stone tablets featuring inscriptions of sacrificial objects, and Cao's personal belongings.
"Based on what we've got, we can tell for sure that the mausoleum belongs to Cao Cao," Guan Qiang, deputy director of the department of cultural heritage conservation at the State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH), told a press meeting in Beijing.
Furnished austerely, the burial matches historical accounts, which reveal that the legendary ruler wanted a simple tomb on "on non-arable highland" with "no treasures of gold and jade in it."
According to archaeologist Liu Qingzhu, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the strongest Cao connection is engraved in several stone tablets. Seized from people who had apparently stolen them from the tomb, the tablets carried the inscription "King Wu of Wei", Cao's posthumous title.
"No one would or could have so many relics inscribed with 'Cao' posthumous reference in the tomb unless it was Cao's," Liu Qingzhu told China Daily
SOURCE: Discovery News (12-29-09)
The text consists of 260 glyphs carved into a series of seashell earrings and manta ray stingers found inside a burial urn.
The urn, which also contained the remains of an important Maya priest, wrapped in bright red cloth, was uncovered during excavations 11 years ago in Comalcalco, in southeastern Tabasco state, the institute said in a statement.
"It is the longest Maya hieroglyphic script ever found to date in Tabasco" and the first relating a high priest, instead of a Maya ruler and his wives, INAH said.
The text covers 14 years in the life of a Maya priest who lived in the eighth century A.D. It includes references to blood sacrifices and acts of penance preceding the spring solstice.
Maya priests used manta ray stingers to pierce their earlobes, tongue, forehead, penis and other parts of the anatomy, in painful, bloodletting sacrifices to induce a hallucinogenic state in which they believed they could talk to their gods, INAH said. One of the glyphs refers to the equivalent modern date of January 31, 771. The Maya dynasties flourished between 426 and 820 throughout much of Central America and south eastern Mexico. They excelled in architecture, astrology, mathematics and in keeping several, extremely accurate calendars.
Name of source: BBC News
Margaret Thatcher visited Tokyo for an economic summit in June 1979 - a month after winning the general election.
After Japanese officials confirmed the "karate ladies" story, the Lord Privy Seal wrote to the Foreign office.
He said Mrs Thatcher wanted "to be treated in exactly the same manner" as other leaders and not "singled out".
The letter, written on 21 May 1979, is among government papers released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule.
It begins by relating concerns of the then Cabinet Secretary, Sir John Hunt, about a report on British TV about the plan to have 20 "karate ladies" attend Mrs Thatcher in Tokyo.
The letter went on: "Sir John Hunt raised this with his Japanese colleague at last week's Washington Sherpas' meeting; the latter told him that this report is in fact true.
"Sir John said that Mrs Thatcher will attend the summit as prime minister and not as a woman per se and he was sure that she would not want these ladies; press reaction in particular would be unacceptable."
It continued: "The prime minister would like to be treated in exactly the same manner as the other visiting Heads of Delegation; it is not the degree of protection that is in question but the particular means of carrying it out.
"If other delegation leaders, for example are each being assigned 20 karate gentlemen, the Prime Minister would have no objection to this; but she does not wish to be singled out. She has not had in the past, and does not have now, any female Special Branch officers."
The Japanese public were interested in Mrs Thatcher's status as a working mother.
SOURCE: BBC News (12-31-09)
Cast your mind back to 31 December 1999. In Moscow, it is the last day of a century that has seen revolution and the collapse of communism.
Everyone in the Russian capital is waiting for reassurance from regions further east, where the new millennium has already started, that Russia's nuclear power stations are still safe - now that the date on their computers has changed to 2000.
“ He is a street boy turned into a very sophisticated political functionary and manipulator ”
Sergei Karaganov Moscow Higher School of Economics
The main news of the day comes as a surprise.
Boris Yeltsin, Russia's first post-Soviet leader, announces his resignation.
Vladimir Putin takes over as acting president.
There is war in Chechnya.
The economy is still reeling from Russia's defaulting on its debt a year earlier.
Tough, and rough
Mr Putin "came into a virtual failed state", says Sergei Karaganov, a former advisor to Mr Yeltsin, and now dean of Moscow's Higher School of Economics.
“ He was, and is, an old KGB officer who leads, or tries to evaluate all events and future from that angle: how to control society ”
Mikhail Kasyanov Former prime minister
He has watched both Mr Putin, and Russia, change.
"He is bright, even brilliant, very tough, sometimes rough. He is a street boy turned into a very sophisticated political functionary and manipulator."
This description sums up Vladimir Putin's great versatility as a politician: he can seem equally comfortable wearing an expensive suit and discussing economic issues with world leaders, or sharing a joke with soldiers and speaking their slang.
He has divided the opinion of those who have lived through his 10 years at the top.
Many ordinary Russians - and, of course, Russia's new super-rich - thank him for bigger paycheques. Others see this as having come at too high a cost to political and press freedom.
Calm after chaos?
One of Vladimir Putin's first moves was to appoint Mikhail Kasyanov as his prime minister. Today, Mr Kasyanov is Mr Putin's implacable opponent.
"He was, and is, an old KGB officer who leads, or tries to evaluate all events and future from that angle: how to control society, how not to allow people to directly participate because that brings risks," says Mr Kasyanov of his former boss.
Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian parliament's foreign affairs committee, disagrees.
He puts Mr Putin's political success down to an electorate fed up with the chaos it associated with Russia's immediate post-Soviet democracy.
"[They] believed... that one needs to have a strong leader. And then Mr Putin appeared, and he was immediately supported by very many Russians who still had expectations for life changing for the better.
"This is how Mr Putin from the very beginning of his era received very strong support from society, from the Russian citizens."
At times he has needed it - dealing with incidents like the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in 2000; the Moscow theatre siege two years later; the killings of Beslan schoolchildren in 2004.
The arrest, and subsequent jailing, of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was once Russia's richest man, has been one of the most controversial cases of the Putin era.
In 2006, Russia held the G8 presidency. Vladimir Putin welcomed world leaders to his home town, St Petersburg.
The country felt it was reclaiming the superpower role it had lost with the demise of the Soviet Union. Still, under Mr Putin, Russia's relations with the West have at times been tense. The eastward expansion of Nato has infuriated Moscow.
Russia's war with Georgia saw the United States and many European politicians support Georgia.
"Russia has emerged for the West as something very alien, and it's not really a partner, it's not a threat, and the relationships are very ambiguous," says Oksana Antonenko, a Russia expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
She believes, though, that Mr Putin has already done enough to guarantee his legacy.
"Putin certainly has already assured himself a very favourable place in Russian history," she suggests.
"Fifty, 100 years, 200 years from now he will be seen in Russian history as the man who saved Russia from the brink of collapse."
Sergei Karaganov sees a more complicated picture.
"The cost of progress became higher and higher: blatant corruption, over-centralisation, and a decrease of incentives for economic growth," he argues.
"If that is reversed somehow in the next several years, he will be seen as a controversial, but a great politician.
"If not, we will be facing a decline, and he will then be seen as a person who was relatively successful but then failed."
The National Archives files show the murder of Lord Mountbatten by the IRA in 1979 did not prompt the response from the US that the UK had hoped for.
While president Jimmy Carter expressed his "profound sadness" at the death, he made no reference to terrorism.
Downing St privately said his failure to condemn the IRA was a "deficiency".
The murder of Lord Mountbatten by the IRA on 27 August 1979 sparked shock and anger around the world.
The Queen's cousin and former governor of India was killed in a bomb blast on his boat off County Sligo.
One of Lord Mountbatten's twin grandsons and a 15-year-old local boy also died in the explosion.
President Carter wrote to then prime minister Margaret Thatcher expressing his "profound sadness" at the "tragic death" of the 79-year-old earl.
But an internal Foreign Office letter shows officials were thrown into a quandary.
"President Carter's message is notable for making no reference to the circumstances of Lord Mountbatten's death," said a Foreign Office official.
"There's no mention of murder or terrorism, no condemnation of those who indulge in violence."
“ The Americans must be brought to face the consequences of their actions ”
Words of Margaret Thatcher, according to a 1979 transcript
The US State Department's initial response to the murder was "similarly deficient", the letter says, but the department later issued a second statement "condemning the organisations which indulge in violence and asking Americans not to support them".
A letter was also sent from Mrs Thatcher's office to the Foreign Office, noting: "Like you we have been struck by the lack of reference in the message to the circumstances of Lord Mountbatten's death: no mention of murder or terrorism, no condemnation."
The office suggests drawing attention to the second State Department remarks in the reply to President Carter, adding: "This might serve to show that we have noted the deficiency in the president's form of words."
The Mountbatten incident followed an already tense few weeks in Anglo-American relations.
Documents show that in July 1979, a row broke out over the provision of weapons to Northern Ireland's police force, the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC).
The US government refused to approve a request from Britain for new Ruger guns for RUC officers - prompting consternation across the Atlantic.
British politicians feared there would be serious repercussions, given that pro-IRA Irish-American groups were supplying paramilitaries with weapons and money.
Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington sent a telegram to the then Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, asking: "I wonder whether you have given full weight to the consequences of such a decision becoming public knowledge.
"It would certainly be seen as a sharp shift in US policy, and could only greatly encourage the Provisional IRA.
"I must leave you in no doubt of the appalling effect I believe such a decision would have on British public opinion and of the consequential damage to Anglo-American relations."
The documents show Mrs Thatcher was also becoming angry at what she saw as interference by the US.
In 1979, Governor Hugh Carey, a prominent Irish-American, invited Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Humphrey Atkins, and the Irish foreign minister to New York to discuss the Troubles - much to the PM's annoyance.
Notes show Mrs Thatcher insisted that "Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom and she herself would not think of discussing with President Carter, for example, US policy towards their black population".
When Mr Atkins tried to argue that the governor could be a key ally in trying to achieve peace, documents show the PM was unmoved.
"She was not in the habit of discussing the internal problems of the US with the Americans and they should not attempt to do so with us," minutes state.
"The Americans must be made to realise that for so long as they continued to finance terrorism, they would be responsible for the deaths of US citizens as well as others.
"Governor Carey had already got away with a great deal so far as UK public opinion was concerned. The Americans must be brought to face the consequences of their actions."
'Handled the gun'
The row over the RUC's weapons was still raging in December that year and was the subject of a discussion at the White House between Mrs Thatcher and President Carter.
Records of the conversation show that the PM insisted "the RUC was not a sectarian force" and it already had 3,000 of the guns in question, so it "seemed very strange" to deprive those yet to get them "of the right to defend themselves effectively".
The file notes that she told the president: "She herself had handled both the gun which the RUC at present used and that which was on order. There was no doubt that the American Ruger was much better."
President Carter said he himself wanted to approve the supplies, but did not believe a sufficient number of Congressmen agreed, given the strength of the Irish-American lobby.
Denis Avey, 91, who lives in Derbyshire, helped save Ernst Lobethall, a German Jew from Breslau.
He is being considered for the title of "Righteous Among the Nations" by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem.
The story emerged following a recent BBC investigation.
Mr Avey said it would be "marvellous" if he were chosen for the title, which is awarded to those who helped save Jewish people.
It is an accolade previously awarded to the likes of Oskar Schindler, the German businessman who is thought to have saved more than a thousand Jews from the Holocaust and whose story was immortalised in the Hollywood film Schindler's List.
“ He could just as well have said 'I am a prisoner of war, I don't know when I will see my family, I am in no position to help anyone else' ”
Irena Steinfeldt, Yad Vashem
Some 22,000 individuals, mostly from central and eastern Europe, have received the treasured title so far, but if he is successful Mr Avey will become only the 15th British citizen to be honoured in Jerusalem's Garden of the Righteous.
The standard is high, the conditions are rigorous and their research is only now beginning. In the end a commission headed by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Israel has to make the decision.
The authorities at Yad Vashem took up the case after BBC viewers and listeners contacted them directly on hearing his moving story.
Mr Avey described the news that he was being considered for the award as "fantastic".
He was no ordinary British soldier and he became an extraordinary prisoner of war. He had fought with special forces against General Rommel's Africa Korps behind enemy lines in the desert.
He was wounded and captured by the Germans, and the ship transporting to him to captivity was sunk. He escaped into the sea and survived the explosion of depth charges close by.
After 20 hours in the water he made it to land in southern Greece. He then hiked the length of the Peloponnese before being recaptured and sent to Germany as a POW.
After two spells in a punishment camp and being sent to work down a mine, he was transported to a compound for British prisoners connected to a sprawling concentration camp. Its name - then unremarkable - was Auschwitz.
There the "fiery" soldier with red hair and a Van Dyck beard saw at first hand the suffering of the Jewish victims of Hitler's slave labour programmes.
Although in the British camp they enjoyed better conditions, by day they worked alongside the Jewish prisoners.
He told the BBC how he had hatched an audacious plan to swap clothes with a Jewish inmate to smuggle himself into their sector of the camp.
He fully intended to get as far as Birkenau, where the gas chambers and crematoria were constantly in operation, belching acrid fumes.
He only made it as far as Auschwitz III, where he spent the night on two occasions. Detection, he said, would have meant death.
"They'd have shot me out of hand", he said. "I took a hell of a chance."
He was determined to bear witness with the intention of telling the world after the war. He recalled the camp as being "evil" like "Hell on earth".
But it is for his part in helping Mr Lobethall, later Ernie Lobet, that he could yet be honoured. Through letters to his mother, Mr Avey succeeded in contacting Ernst's sister Susana, who had escaped to England before the war.
He arranged for cigarettes - as valuable as gold in the camps - to be sent to him, which he then smuggled in to Ernst in the Jewish camp.
But he had always assumed that his erstwhile friend had died in the icy death march when the camps were cleared by the SS as the Russians advanced.
Only after the BBC investigation did Mr Avey learn that Mr Lobethall had survived and that it was his smuggled cigarettes that had given him his chance.
The evidence corroborating Mr Avey's story appeared in a video interview that Mr Lobethall had given to the Shoah Foundation, which gathers the testimonies of the camp survivors. He had recorded it towards the end of his life in 1995.
In it he described the soldier he knew only as "Ginger" who smuggled cigarettes, chocolate and even a letter from his sister in England into the Jewish camp for him. He said it was like being given the "Rockefeller Centre".
Trading the cigarettes for favours, Mr Lobethall had heavy soles put on his boots, and that saved his life during the death march in 1945 when tens of thousands had died. Anyone who stumbled had been shot.
"They fell like flies," he recalled in the video.
A special commission in Jerusalem will determine on the basis of the evidence whether Mr Avey receives the honour and becomes one of the "righteous".
'Very high honour'
Successful or not, his remarkable story is now getting the attention it deserves.
"This title is really a very high honour," says Irena Steinfeldt of Yad Vashem. "Apparently this story touched people.
"Denis Avey never knew this (Mr) Lobethall. He could just as well have said 'I am a prisoner of war, I don't know when I will see my family, I am in no position to help anyone else.'.
"It is a noble and extraordinary act."
After the war Mr Lobethall made it to the United States, and enjoyed a successful and prosperous life.
And despite being drafted into the Korean War, he remained a man of "unfailing good cheer" until the end of his days, according to a life-long friend who also heard the original broadcast and contacted the BBC.
He died in 2002 and never found out the real name of the soldier he called "Ginger" whose buccaneering spirit gave him a chance to live.
SOURCE: BBC News (12-29-09)
The 3rd Century saint - on whom Santa Claus was modelled - was buried in the modern-day town of Demre in Turkey.
But in the Middle Ages his bones were taken by Italian sailors and re-interred in the port of Bari.
The Turkish government said it was considering making a request to Rome for the return of the saint's remains.
While Christmas is by and large not celebrated in Muslim Turkey, the Christmas figure of Santa Claus certainly is in the Mediterranean town of his birth.
He was born in what was then the Greek city of Myra in the third century, and went on to become the local bishop, with a reputation for performing miracles and secretly giving gold to the needy - on one occasion being forced to climb down a chimney to leave his donation.
SOURCE: BBC News (12-27-09)
The hard men of the KGB were glued to the TV screen. Upstairs, President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev were dealing with great power confrontation.
But down in the basement, Mr Gorbachev's protection detail were watching a different confrontation - between Tom and Jerry.
Behind them smoke started to emerge from the wastepaper basket where one had dropped his cigarette - but they were so engrossed in the Western decadence they were sworn to protect against that nobody noticed.
The all-wooden building would have gone up in flames if the sharp nosed Icelandic caretaker had not ignored diplomatic protocol and stepped into the Soviet sanctum to douse the flames.
Name of source: CNN
SOURCE: CNN (12-30-09)
Public bathing dates back to the Greeks and the Romans. And though the tradition faded in much of the Western world, hammams remained popular in the Middle East, flourishing under the Ottomans --hence their English name "Turkish baths."
The first Islamic hammams were annexed to mosques to facilitate these ablutions. They soon became "very key urban facilities" said Sibley, promoting health and hygiene and providing a social meeting space, particularly for women.
Hammams vary widely in function and form, but the majority are strictly segregated between sexes and have three connecting rooms -- one hot, one warm and one cold. Typically hot is for steaming, warm for scrubbing, and cooler rooms are for lounging and relaxing. Public versions exist far and wide, from North Africa to Asia Minor, and from Spain to Eastern Europe.
SOURCE: CNN (12-31-09)
If he survived, he vowed, he would dedicate his life to public service.
"I'd always thought of going into government service," Robert M. Morgenthau recalled recently. "But when my ship was torpedoed off Algiers and I was floating around in the water, I made promises to the Almighty."
He kept those promises. For more than a generation, Morgenthau was the district attorney in Manhattan, making him the face of law and order in the nation's most densely populated county.
Today is Morgenthau's final day in office. He is 90 and ran the office for 35 years, serving longer than any other prosecutor in New York.
Morgenthau took office in January 1975, after spending nine years as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York -- an appointment from his boyhood friend, President John F. Kennedy.
At the time, New York was in the throes of a fiscal crisis -- and a crime wave. As he leaves office, another fiscal crisis looms, but street crime is down. In 2009, there were fewer murders in New York than at any time in recent memory.
Over the years, Morgenthau racked up the high-profile prosecutions, trying celebrities, mobsters, terrorists, money launderers, socialites and Wall Street scoundrels with equal zeal. The 500-plus lawyers in the Manhattan DA's office handle about 100,000 cases each year.
It has been called the nation's premier prosecutor's office and is the model for the television series "Law and Order." The show's first fictional district attorney, Adam Schiff, played for 10 years by the actor Steven Hill, was said to be based on Morgenthau. The real-life Morgenthau also had a cameo role in the show as a judge.
Morgenthau recalled meeting Hill: "I was mad at him because I understood that he was getting $25,000 an episode, and I told him when he quit I wanted his job, and he didn't tell me."
As the real D.A., Morgenthau created 34 bureaus and units, specializing in labor racketeering, identity theft, firearms trafficking, Asian gangs and cold cases, to name a few.
The sex crimes unit, in its infancy when Morgenthau took office, grew with the help of an $80,000 grant into the prototype for similar units across the country. Most recently, the elder abuse unit handled the trial of Anthony Marshall, who was convicted of bilking his aging mother, the late millionaire philanthropist Brooke Astor, of millions and sentenced to up to three years in prison.
Read more about the Astor case
The office did receive one prominent black eye -- prosecuting the wrong people for rape in the 1989 Central Park jogger case. When DNA evidence surfaced incriminating someone else in the rape, Morgenthau went to court in 2002, agreeing with the defense's request to dismiss the charges.
Attorney Michael Warren who headed the effort to throw out the rape convictions, said Morgenthau didn't go far enough: "As a prosecutor who assesses innocence and guilt, he should declare not only to the New York community but to the nation and the world their innocence."
Morgenthau said he had gone far enough by consenting to a dismissal.
Morgenthau wears two hearing aids and shuffles when he walks, but he's still sharp. "He's the same at 90 as he was at 60," said Elkan Abramowitz, an attorney and long-time friend who worked under Morgenthau as a federal prosecutor.
His wood-paneled office is a cluttered nest of memorabilia. During a visit in late October, Morgenthau pointed to the photos hanging on the walls -- of his father with Franklin D. Roosevelt, and himself with President Kennedy and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
He described watching history unfold while having lunch with Robert Kennedy on November 22, 1963, at Kennedy's Virginia home. The phone rang and Kennedy answered it. From a distance, Morgenthau saw Kennedy cup his hand over his mouth in shock.
"He came back and said, 'That was J. Edgar Hoover,' and he said Jack had been shot in Dallas," Morgenthau recalled.
Despite his Zelig-like relationship with history, Morgenthau said he has no plans to write his memoirs, that he "doesn't look back, only forward."
In hindsight, though, it's clear that Morgenthau changed the way the office handles felony cases. The old system resembled a conveyor belt, with different prosecutors handling different stages of a case.
"As many as five different prosecutors could handle a case before it was resolved," recalled Linda Fairstein, a best-selling author who headed the sex crimes unit for years. "It was inefficient, cumbersome, and harmful to the substance of the case."
Under the old system, dismissal rates were high and conviction rates were too low, in Morgenthau's opinion.
He reorganized the office, implementing a method known as "vertical prosecution." A single prosecutor stays with a case from start to finish. It is easier on the victims and makes the prosecutors better lawyers, Morgenthau often said. Ultimately, it also reduced the dismissal rates and increased the rate of conviction.
The world's most important financial markets and institutions are in Manhattan and, on a quiet day, about $4 trillion passes through Manhattan, Morgenthau estimates. Therefore, financial crimes that originate here can have global reach.
He made white-collar crime a priority, allowing the office to reach into some deep pockets. Soon, ill-gotten gains were seized and rolling into the state and city coffers.
After prosecuting individuals, unions and mob-controlled trash-collection companies, for example, the DA's office and the NYPD each received a third of $26 million in forfeited illegal profits.
"We pay our own way," Morgenthau boasted at a recent event. Earlier this year, his office received $175 million in a settlement with Lloyd's bank, which had been accused of wire fraud in the way it handled wire transfers from Iran. Last year, the office sent $181 million to the city and $119 million to the state -- in total about four times the DA's city budget.
Despite his popularity and fat Rolodex, Morgenthau has his critics. Some say he was adept at playing the media. Some allege the office is elitist, filled with Ivy League snobs.
"They regularly ignore the rules and are notoriously unwilling to admit errors," said defense attorney Ron Kuby, protégé of the late William Kunstler.
Morgenthau was opposed twice in his re-election bids -- in 1985 by civil rights attorney C. Vernon Mason and in 2005 by former prosecutor and judge Leslie Crocker Snyder.
The 2005 race got ugly as the Democratic primary loomed. The New York Times endorsed Snyder in an editorial with the headline: "When to End an Era," suggesting Morgenthau had stayed in office too long.
Still, Morgenthau beat Snyder, who ran again in 2009, losing to Cy Vance, Jr. who had Morgenthau's endorsement as well as that of the Times.
Most recently, Morgenthau was embroiled in a budget dispute with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The DA's office holds millions of dollars -- collected from grants, fines, and forfeitures -- in as many as 60 bank accounts. Last month, Bloomberg accused Morgenthau of maintaining "secret bank accounts," and the mayor insisted that all of the money should go to the city, not the state of New York.
Morgenthau called the accusation "false and irresponsible," maintaining that the city has always known about the bank accounts. He says his office has reached a truce with City Hall and will cooperate fully in a review by the City Comptroller's office.
Morgenthau's office has had a far-reaching influence. At least 80 prosecutors from there have risen to the bench, most notably Sonia Sotomayor, who was sworn in over the summer as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Other well-known alums include the late John F. Kennedy Jr., Andrew Cuomo and Eliot Spitzer.
The incoming DA, Cyrus Vance Junior, son of President Jimmy Carter's secretary of state, has big shoes to fill, political observers say.
"The hardest thing in the world is to replace a legend," said Rudy Giuliani, another high-profile former federal prosecutor who went on to become mayor of New York City and run for president.
But in this case, Giuliani noted, "Vance has the benefit of taking over a talented office -- one of the best, if not the best, in the country."
SOURCE: CNN (12-30-09)
In his first statement since the December 25 terror attempt on a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit, Michigan, Cheney hit Obama for what he described as the president's "low-key" response to the events last week and criticized the administration's broader approach to national security.
Cheney said Obama outwardly "pretends we aren't [at war]," and the former vice president repeated his months-long criticism that the new president has made America "less safe."
SOURCE: CNN (12-27-09)
As a businessman, Sutton was credited with leading the revitalization of Harlem, including the restoration of the famous Apollo Theater. In a statement issued after Sutton's death Saturday night, New York Gov. David Paterson called the former Manhattan borough president "a friend and mentor."
native of Texas, Sutton served as an intelligence officer for the famed Tuskegee Airmen during World War II before becoming an attorney. He represented Malcolm X until the onetime Nation of Islam leader's 1965 assassination, and continued to represent his widow, Betty Shabazz, until her death in a 1997 fire. He then defended Shabazz's 12-year-old grandson, who admitted to starting the fatal blaze.
In the 1970s, Sutton was a member of the Harlem circle dubbed the "Gang of Four," which included U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel; Paterson's father Basil, who became New York's secretary of state; and future New York Mayor David Dinkins. He served as Manhattan borough president from 1966 to 1977, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered flags at city offices to fly at half-staff on Monday.
Name of source: Woai.com (Texas)
SOURCE: Woai.com (Texas) (12-31-69)
This mysterious battle is missing in action, so to speak. Historians have never been able to agree where exactly it took place. Some say near Poteet, others say it was near Pleasanton.
News 4 WOAI found a man who says they all have it wrong. He says he has found evidence the massacre happened in Somerset. You could say Stephen Ash, a retired teacher who taught public school Texas for 23 years, has discovered a treasure chest right under his feet. It is a vast collection of mysterious artifacts that might rewrite history.
On his four acres in Somerset, just south of San Antonio, Stephen has unearthed old weapons including an old hatchet and large knives, antique silverware, and what he believes are human bones.
“I would think this is just an accident that I'm running into this stuff but when I found this [button] over Thanksgiving, when I clearly saw 1813, that rang a bell, " Stephen said.
Stephen believes he found a silver button inscribed with 1813, that was once worn by an army officer. If it is, that button may pinpoint the location of the infamous Battle of Medina.
"Something went on here. Something definitely went on here," Stephen said. “The knife, the ax, the silverware, were they camping here? Were they eating? Did they have to leave in a hurry and left stuff behind? It's a mystery to me."
According to Bruce Moses, an archeologist at UTSA, little to no artifacts have ever been found linking the Battle of Medina to an exact location. Stephen is convinced his land has a good story to tell. Whether it is the real story of the Battle of Medina remains a 197-year-old secret.
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-31-09)
– A related game, Cross and Pile, was played in medieval England. The cross was the major design on one side of many coins, and the Pile was the mark created by the hammer used to strike the metal on the other side.
– One of the most significant coin tosses in the United State's history involved the naming of the city of Portland, Oregon in 1845. Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove, who owned the claim to the land that would later become Portland, each wanted to name their new town after their respective hometowns of Boston, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine. Pettygrove prevailed in the coin flip, and the town was named Portland.
– In 1903, the Wright brothers flipped a coin to see which one of them would take to the air in the first ever powered flight. Wilbur won the toss but his attempt was only partially successful. Orville's later flight was considered the first example of powered flight.
– In the 1968 European Football Championship the semi-final between Italy and the Soviet Union finished 0-0 after extra-time. Penalty shoot-outs had not been invented and it was decided to toss a coin to see who reached the final, rather than play a replay. Italy won, and went on to become European champions.
The New Zealand lottery game Big Wednesday uses a coin toss. If a player matches all 6 of their numbers, the coin toss will decide whether they win a cash jackpot or a bigger jackpot with luxury prizes.
– In August 2001, Nasser Hussain, the England cricket captain, lost the toss for the 14th successive time.
– Some elections have been decided by the toss of a coin when no candidate has secured a majority. In May 2007, Conservative Christopher Underwood-Frost only held on by winning on the toss of a coin after he tied with his Lib Dem rival on 781 votes for the Lincolnshire seat.
Orwell was born Eric Arthur Blair on June 25 1903 in Motihari, a tiny town in the impoverished eastern Indian state of Bihar, near the border with Nepal.
For years, the family's simple white colonial bungalow has been left to decay; damaged in an earthquake it was an occasional home to stray animals and, more recently, a state school teacher.
Now, after years of dithering and failed attempts by Orwell enthusiasts to restore the building, the provincial government says it is coming to the rescue in a bid to lure tourists to one of the most underdeveloped areas of India.
Polish media have been reporting that the theft was commissioned by a collector living in Sweden, but investigators have not confirmed that.
Earlier this week allegations concerning who ordered the theft, and why, surfaced in Swedish newspaper reports after the former leader of a Swedish Nazi group claimed that it had been stolen to order for a collector in England, France or the United States.
In a July 1978 letter to Jim Callaghan, then prime minister, she said one should “never admit to anything unless you have to”.
Lady Thatcher was responding to plans to allow post-war documents mentioning the secret intelligence service to be published.
Before then, papers referring to the continued existence of MI6 or the Joint Intelligence Committee were exempt from the “30 year rule”.
She wrote: “I was taught a very good rule by my two Masters at Law, both of whom are now Judges: never admit to anything unless you have to; and then only for specific reasons and within defined limits.
“It is a rule that has stood me in very good stead in many a complicated matter, and in the absence of further advice I should be inclined to stick to it now.”
The lifting of the ban went ahead. The ongoing existence of MI6 and MI5 was officially recognised in the 1994 Intelligence Services Act.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-29-09)
The 23-year-old suspect in the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Flight 253 is reported to have shocked friends with his hardline views as far back as 2001.
He is said to have justified the plane attacks by saying that US troops stationed in Saudi Arabia since the 1991 Gulf War had "humiliated" Muslims.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-29-09)
The official statement from the Chinese embassy said the "strong resentment" felt by the Chinese public to drug traffickers was in part based on "the bitter memory of history".
Jonathan Fenby, the author of The Penguin History of Modern China, said it was a reference to the two Opium Wars fought between China and Great Britain and its allies in the middle of the 19th century and the wider opium trade.
The trade in opium, often grown in India, boomed in China despite efforts to ban it with large amounts of the drugs being shipped into the country by British merchants.
Attempts by the Chinese government to disrupt the trade were met with force and Britain twice went to war to protect its stranglehold on the market and expand its reach into a country which had been closed off to western influence.
British merchants forced the Chinese to grant them access to Chinese ports and won the right for their citizens to be exempt from Chinese law.
Mr Fenby said: "The unequal treaties, as they became known, caused a great deal of resentment in late 19th century and 20th century China among Chinese nationalists.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-28-09)
The onyx Cartier pocket watch is inscribed "Easter 12/4/36" and is one of four items being auctioned off in the sale.
Other items belonging to the Duchess of Windsor include a silver-gilt seal box, which has a guide price of £50,000 pounds, an 18ct pencil holder which is expected to fetch £12,000 pounds and a 14ct pocket magnifying glass with a guide of £8,000 pounds.
King Edward VIII abdicated the throne on December 11, 1936 so that he could marry the twice-divorced American.
She died in 1986 and is buried next to her husband in Frogmore, Windsor, Berks.
Name of source: New York Times
SOURCE: New York Times (12-31-09)
Founded in 1997, Underworlds is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the documentation and preservation of Berlin’s vast network of subterranean spaces. It funds its projects by giving tours of bunkers, sewers, air raid shelters and catacombs. The tours are offered in a variety of languages, including English.
The 300-plus members of the association include history buffs, hobbyists and scholars of all ages. “Basically, people who all enjoy crawling around in the dark,” said Robin Williams, 32, one of the organization’s English-language guides.
Since many of Berlin’s underground structures were developed during the Nazi period, the association’s main work is based around World War II, Mr. Williams said. One popular tour (simply titled the “Classic Tour”) that guides you through a wartime bomb shelter is a history lesson from the perspective of German civilians living in fear of Allied bombs. The experience is made all the more unsettling by the fact that the shelter is located below the bustling Gesundbrunnen U-Bahn station, above.
Similar organizations exist in other cities, including Hamburg and Vienna. But the Berlin Underworlds Association owes its success in large measure to the continued fascination with World War II and the Cold War that followed.
Many people ask whether the association gives tours of Hitler’s bunker, according to Mr. Williams. A note on the association’s Web site explains that the remains of the demolished Führerbunker are beneath a parking lot in Mitte, marked only by an informational plaque.
The association does, however, offer tours through Cold War-era bomb shelters, abandoned U-Bahn lines and subterranean escape routes from East to West Berlin.
The Underworlds’ newest tour explores the Fichtebunker, one of Europe’s oldest gasometers. The structure, located on a quiet residential street in Kreuzberg, has served various purposes over the last hundred years: as a war bunker, a prison, an old age home, a homeless shelter; it is currently being turned into luxury apartments. “We’re showing Berlin’s history from the perspective of this particular building,” Mr. Williams said.
SOURCE: New York Times (12-25-09)
Bogdan Zdrojewski, the culture minister, said late Wednesday that the government would contribute about $138,000 after a furor over the lack of security at the camp, which covers over 500 acres.
The thieves first tried to steal the 16-foot sign, whose message translates to “Work sets you free,” on the evening of Dec. 17. But after they discovered that they did not have the right tools, they left, only to return early the next morning, the police said.
Surveillance cameras at the site were not working properly, and no security personnel were patrolling that part of the site, officials said.
Name of source: Haaretz (Israel)
SOURCE: Haaretz (Israel) (12-31-09)
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco upheld a lower court ruling that said the Vatican bank was immune from such a lawsuit under the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which generally protects foreign countries from being sued in U.S. courts.
Holocaust survivors from Croatia, Ukraine and Yugoslavia had filed suit against the Vatican bank in 1999, alleging that it stored and laundered the looted assets of thousands of Jews, Serbs and Gypsies who were killed or captured by the Nazi-backed Ustasha regime that controlled Croatia.
They sought an accounting from the Vatican, as well as restitution and damages.
The court didn't rule on the allegations. In its decision, the court said the Vatican bank, formally known as the Institute for the Works of Religion, or IOR, was a sovereign entity entitled to the protections of the foreign sovereign immunities act, and that therefore U.S. courts had no jurisdiction.
The pope himself has been granted such protections in U.S. courts hearing clerical sex abuse cases.
Jeffrey Lena, who represented the Vatican Bank in the case, said he was gratified with the ruling since the court decided not only that the IOR was a sovereign entity but that as such it was immune from U.S. jurisdiction.
"In defending the lawsuit, the IOR did not challenge the allegations of the plaintiffs that they had suffered terrible losses at the hands of the Ustasha," he told The Associated Press. "Rather the challenge was simply to the jurisdiction of U.S. courts over the IOR."
Jonathan Levy, who represents the survivors, said he thought he had sufficiently shown that the Vatican bank engaged in commercial activities in the United States, which can serve as an exemption to the protections granted by the immunities act.
"The reason we're disappointed is the court found that dealing in gold teeth from concentration camps was not a commercial act," he said.
In its ruling, the court said that the Vatican banks' U.S. commercial activities were too tangentially related to their legal claims to be considered the basis for the suit.
Levy said he didn't plan to appeal the judgment. "The victims are also suing the Franciscans, the Roman Catholic order, on identical charges, and that portion of the lawsuit is going ahead," he said.
The survivors filed suit against the Vatican Bank a year after Swiss Banks agreed to pay some $1.25 billion to Nazi victims and their families who accused the banks of stealing, concealing or sending to the Nazis hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Jewish holdings.
Many of the survivors named as plaintiffs in the suit live in the United States.
The Vatican bank was famously implicated in a scandal over the collapse of Italy's Banco Ambrosiano in the 1980s. Roberto Calvi, the head of the Banco Ambrosiano, was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London in 1982. The circumstances remain mysterious.
More recently, Italian news reports said last month that Italian financial police were scrutinizing tens of millions of euros worth of Vatican bank transactions to see if they violated money laundering regulations.
Name of source: Sun Advocate
SOURCE: Sun Advocate (12-30-09)
Those words are the introductory phrase inscribed on the Wilberg Coal Mine disaster monument located at SR-10 and the Wilberg mine road. The monument was placed on a piece of ground near the mine to memorialize the 26 men and one woman who lost their lives 25 years ago in the mine.
The fire which began on Dec. 19, 1984 at the Wilberg mine claimed the lives of: Bert Bennett, Ricci Camberlango, Curtis Carter, Robert Christensen, Gordon Conover, Randy Curry, Owen Curtis, Roger Ellis, Brian Howard, Gary Jennings, Lee Johansen, Joel Nevitt, Kelly Riddle, Lynn Robinson, Ray Snow, John Waldoch, Lester Walls Jr., John Wilsey, Nannette Wheeler, Phillip Bell, James Bertuzzi, David Bocook, Vic Cingolani, James Hamlin, Leroy Hersh, Barry Jacobs, and Alex Poulos.
On Dec. 19 of this year, the 25th anniversary of the disaster, United Mine Workers of America hosted a memorial and dinner for all who attended the ceremony which began at the memorial site and proceeded to Emery High School auditorium. Mike Dalpiaz, International Vice President of District 22, opened the evening at the miners memorial.
"After the tragedy 25 years ago, we decided we needed a place to honor these fallen miners. This place is sacred ground, and we need to honor and respect these fallen and this monument," said Dalpiaz. "We are here to pay a sad tribute of love to our fellow miners."
Everyone in attendance then placed an evergreen sprig on the monument as a token of respect to the fallen miners. "Their memory will be with us always and to the families of these miners, look to God for comfort," concluded Dalpiaz.
The ceremony then moved to the high school auditorium where everyone gathered in a much warmer atmosphere. Dalpiaz noted that Cecil Roberts, International President of the UMWA could not be at the ceremony due to the severe snowstorm happening in Washington D.C.
"He sends his heartfelt sympathy and sorrow to the families and friends of the fallen miners," said Dalpiaz. "We talk together often and we talk of this tragedy and how we can work to see a tragedy like this never happens again."
Along the front of the auditorium where the stage begins, 27 miners hard hats with cap lamps attached, were positioned. The lighting ceremony was conducted by Dalpiaz, with union representatives and friends of the fallen miners turning on the cap lamps. The names were read and lamps lighted in memory of each miner. At the conclusion of the lighting ceremony, 27 rays of light beamed across the dark auditorium.
"On Dec. 19, just after 10 p.m., I heard about the events going on at the Wilberg. My life, along with all of yours, was changed forever," Dalpiaz stated. "This was absolutely needless and we have learned from it and must work to see that it never happens again. There have been many changes in mine safety because of these types of accidents. We need to get more involved and speak out to make sure these safety changes take place. One very important change happened just recently. Joe Main was named, by Pres. Obama, to be the assistant to the director of Coal Mine Safety. He is a miner and a hands-on type of guy. Things are changing already. Gov. Huntsman, because of the Crandall Canyon disaster, formed the State Office of Coal Mine Safety. Our hearts are with the families of Crandall Canyon and we will continue to help you."
Kevin Stricklin, Administrator of Coal Mine Safety, MSHA Department of Labor was the next speaker. He began by reading a letter from Main, who could not be there. The letter told how Main was at the Wilberg Mine soon after the news of the fire.
"I would like to think those miners did not die in vain," Main wrote in the letter. "Many changes have taken place since then due to this tragedy. As assistant to the administrator, I pledge to do everything possible to enforce the principles of the Mine Safety and Health Administration so tragedies like this won't happen again."
Stricklin said he has been in mining for more than 27 years and was also at the Wilberg during the fire. He came in to aid the effort to keep the rescuers safe during the attempt to rescue the miners. "Those 27 miners lost in the Wilberg are the most I have seen in the years I have been working in mining. We are committed to change things and will do everything in our power so no more families have to endure what you have had to endure," said Stricklin.
Garth Nielsen, Director of the Utah State Office of Coal Mine Safety was the concluding speaker for the evening.
"I have worked in the coal industry for 37 years," he said. "We must never get complacent about mine safety. We must be alert for anything we can do to keep the miners safe. The best people walking around this earth are coal miners. I went to work at the Wilberg-Cottonwood mine after the fire and I have very good memories of those times. While I was standing at the memorial today, I looked up the canyon to the mine and many other memories flooded back. I could almost hear the voices of the miners from those days. Now, as the director of coal mine safety, the division is committed to help make mines safer. I thank God for having known those miners."
Dalpiaz presented the hard hats, which had the names of the fallen miners inscribed on them, to the members of the families.
The evening concluded with a dinner in the cafeteria along with more visiting and memories being passed around between those attending.
Name of source: Deutsche Welle
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (12-29-09)
"This is to inform you that for reasons well known to everybody ... I resign from my post" (as head of the unit), Ljajic said in the letter submitted to Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic.
But this does not mean Ljajic is giving up completely. He will remain head of the National Council for Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal, a separate body. He will also stay on as Serbia's labor minister.
Name of source: Guardian (UK)
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (12-30-09)
But today it emerged that Swedish investigators are helping Polish detectives investigate the theft of the sign from Auschwitz, amid reports that the robbery was linked to a rightwing terror plot.
The wrought iron plaque reading Arbeit Macht Frei (work sets you free) which spanned the entrance at the former Nazi death camp was wrenched from the gate on 18 December, and recovered three days later, cut into three pieces, in a forest in northern Poland.
Name of source: NPR
SOURCE: NPR (12-30-09)
Name of source: BBC
SOURCE: BBC (12-29-09)
The World Heritage South West website aims to make travel between them easier and more environmentally friendly.
The four sites are the City of Bath, the Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape, the Jurassic Coast and Stonehenge and Avebury.
A key feature of the website is an interactive sustainable transport map.
Dermot Nally, 82, who served under five taoiseachs, died suddenly in St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin.
As well as leading Irish officials in the Anglo Irish deal talks he was also involved in the negotiations preceding the 1993 Downing Street Declaration.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen said his death will be "noted with regret" by all those he worked with over the years.
When it was signed the Anglo Irish Agreement was the most important development in British-Irish relations since the 1920s and was aimed at helping establish a devolved administration.
The British and Irish Governments, led by Margaret Thatcher and Garrett FitzGerald, respectively, confirmed that there would be no change in the status of Northern Ireland without the consent of a majority of its citizens.
Rome police tracked the sculpture down to the businessman's apartment in Pomezia, a town south of the capital.
The businessman, who was not named, was charged with fraud and is now on bail.
Picasso gave the piece to an Italian artist, Giuseppe Vittorio Parisi. He then lent it to the businessman, who was to make a glass showcase for it.
The plan was for the priceless piece to go on display at the civic museum in Maccagno, a small town on Lake Maggiore in northern Italy where Parisi was born.
But the piece disappeared after Parisi handed it over two years ago. When Parisi died in January this year his widow told police that it was still in the businessman's hands.
The Little Guitar will now go on display at the museum in Maccagno, Italy's Ansa news agency reports.
Wahid, who was often referred to by his nickname Gus Dur, ruled the country between 1999 and 2001.
He was the first elected president after the fall of the 32-year Suharto regime in 1998.
Wahid had been suffering from a number of medical problems in recent years. He was a diabetic and was known to have had a series of strokes.
SOURCE: BBC (12-29-09)
Events across the nation marked the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, celebrating a man widely seen as the greatest US president - the secular saint who redeemed America's original sin of slavery.
Mr Obama has been compared to Lincoln - the lanky junior politician from Illinois who captured the presidency on the strength of his oratory, proving that anyone can make to the White House.
But amid the commemorations, it is easy to forget that Lincoln - a civil-war president - never lacked for critics. Even in this anniversary year, there has been vigorous debate over his legacy.
SOURCE: BBC (12-28-09)
The Bull of Foundation is one of a series of six letters from the Pope, sent in 1413, which brought the institution into existence.
It took experts three weeks to restore the Papal Bull, including surface cleaning, repairing edge tears and the realignment of the document's silk tag.
The document will now be able to be displayed to the public.
Name of source: Stuff (New Zealand)
SOURCE: Stuff (New Zealand) (12-28-09)
Among the 150-odd books he wrote were multi-volume atlases of Central Asia.
In 1905 Hedin was appointed one of 18 judges on the Nobel Prize Committee. He continued voting on nominees until 1949.
In the 1930s, he came to admire Adolf Hitler and often visited him.
"Whenever I wanted to see Hitler I would call Prince Wissen of the German embassy here in Stockholm, a fine fellow, on Monday.
"He would call Berlin the same day, phone me back several hours later, and say Hitler would lunch with me on Friday. I would leave Thursday so as not to be late, and then see Hitler.
"He was a hypnotic talker, a fascinating man. I also made friends with Goebbels, Himmler, Goering and Doenitz."
Now one would think that Nobel prize judges would be the most upright, august, wise, fair-minded and incorruptible people on Earth but, in an interview in 1946, Hedin told American writer William Irving that committee members were as prejudiced, irrational and vain as the rest of us.
Hedin explained that the anti- Semitism of one judge kept the prize from Albert Einstein when Einstein was expected to win it. The judge said that the theory of relativity was not actually a discovery, had never been proved, and was valueless.
So they withheld the prize from Einstein for seven years, by which time the dissenting judge's influence had waned, and Einstein won the prize in 1921.
Another judge so hated Russians that he prevented Tolstoy, Chekhov Andreyev and Gorky from winning prizes. H G Wells? "Too minor and journalistic." Somerset Maugham? "Too popular and undistinguished." James Joyce? Hedin was puzzled. "Who is he?"
Most committee members were prejudiced against American novelists because wives tried to nominate their husbands officially. French and Italian writers Gide and D'Annunzio were denied the prize because they behaved immorally.
Hitler bestowed many honours on Hedin in the 1930s and asked him to make a pro-Nazi address at the Olympic Games in 1936. For his 75th birthday, they bestowed the Order of the German Eagle on him.
During World War II, Hedin was one of few prominent Swedes who urged Sweden to abandon its neutrality and support Nazi Germany. Even when Germany lost the war, Hedin pressed for America to join forces with a resurrected Germany in a third world war against Russia.
After the war, Hedin became an aged embarrassment to the Nobel Committee but he never regretted his pro-Nazi stand. He claimed that his direct line to Hitler and Himmler enabled him to free many Jewish intellectuals and their families from the Nazi concentration camp at Sachsenhausen.
But his science lives on. The Chinese Government still uses his 80-year-old maps to construct railways and canals, and to pinpoint mineral deposits.
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (12-25-09)
The 18th-century Rancho de las Cabras complex, with its stone building remains, was a birthplace of the large commercial ranching operations that would help define the state. Preservationists have long hoped it could be fully excavated and opened to the public, but the site has been unable to attract the money it would need from Congress or the National Park Service’s stretched budget.
Texas park officials realized in the 1980s that they couldn’t afford to protect the ruins, so they covered the walls with sand in an effort to prevent them from disintegrating before archeologists could fully document and shore up the site. Until a month ago, no one had seen them since.
SOURCE: AP (12-29-09)
Boguslawa Marcinkowska, a spokeswoman for Krakow prosecutors, says her office will send a formal request for help Wednesday to the Swedish Justice Ministry in Stockholm.
Polish media have been reporting that the theft was commissioned by a collector living in Sweden, but investigators have not confirmed that.
SOURCE: AP (12-29-09)
He returned home to Florida suffering severe post-traumatic stress disorder and frequent panic attacks so violent he would launch into seizures and even fractured his own wrist several times as he flailed, sister Natala Gokool said Tuesday.
One of the brothers he lived with found him dead in their home last Wednesday, just a week after his 31st birthday, Natala Gokool said. His cause of death was unknown, though she said foul play was not suspected. The family believes the seizures just became too much for his body to handle.
Name of source: Time Magazine
SOURCE: Time Magazine (12-28-09)
His approval ratings have fallen, and ideologically, liberals seem almost as unhappy with Barack Obama as do conservatives. Those on the right think Obama has revealed himself to be a flaming liberal (the word socialist has been tossed around), while those on the left have expressed disappointment with Administration decisions ranging from the troop surge in Afghanistan to the potential abandonment of a public insurance option for those without health care coverage. Rating Obama's first-year performance in terms of ideology, therefore, rests in a purely subjective realm.
Rating the President on competence, however, is another matter. Obama proved his executive proficiency by running a successful underdog campaign against the more experienced Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Having inherited from the previous Administration a battered economy, two wars and a range of other thorny problems, it is fair to say that what success Obama has achieved so far in his new job owes to a level of skill his 2008 rivals predicted he would lack (rather than blind luck).
But while the nation's 44th President has not been overmatched, he has not yet mastered the role either. Here, then, is a review of Obama's first year on the job.
Name of source: Times (UK)
SOURCE: Times (UK) (12-27-09)
The fate of Freud and his family in Vienna hung in the balance after Hitler’s forces took over Austria in 1938. The psychoanalyst was first protected, then helped to escape to Britain, by Anton Sauerwald, a Nazi who had been put in charge of his assets.
In twists of Freudian complexity, Sauerwald was put on trial after the second world war accused of plundering the Freud family wealth — only to be saved after the intervention of one of Freud’s daughters.
The full story has emerged thanks to research by David Cohen, author of The Escape of Sigmund Freud, published by JR Books.
By the 1930s Freud was famous in Europe and the United States for his pioneering work on the unconscious. He had founded the International Psychoanalytical Association with Carl Jung and helped to start a publishing business.
His success had brought financial rewards and the family lived comfortably in Vienna. However, the Nazis ordered all Jews to declare their wealth and asserted that “all Jewish assets are assumed to have been improperly acquired”.
Name of source: Smoking Gun
SOURCE: Smoking Gun (12-28-09)
Name of source: Live Science
SOURCE: Live Science (12-23-09)
Perhaps the earliest known example of the intentional creation of water pressure was found on the island of Crete in a Minoan palace dating back to roughly 1400 BC. In the New World, the ability to generate water pressure was previously thought to have begun only with the arrival of the Spanish.
Scientists investigated the Mayan center at Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico. At its height, this major site, inhabited from roughly 100 to 800 AD, had some 1,500 structures - residences, palaces, and temples - holding some 6,000 inhabitants under a series of powerful rulers.
The center at Palenque also had what was arguably the most unique and intricate system of water management known anywhere in the Maya lowlands. These involved elaborate subterranean aqueducts to deal with the spring-fed streams that naturally divide the landscape and could otherwise cause flooding or erosion.
Name of source: Tampa Bay Online
SOURCE: Tampa Bay Online (12-23-09)
In summer 2007, Odyssey located more than half a billion dollars in gold and silver coins on the floor of the Atlantic in a wreck ultimately identified, most likely, as the Mercedes warship, carrying freight from South America to Spain in the 18th century.
The coins now sit in a vault in an undisclosed location somewhere in Florida -- outside Tampa, Odyssey officials say. Spanish officials have protested, claiming the treasure is Spanish government property, and must be returned.
The case involves complex admiralty and international salvage law, partly over whether the vessel was a warship carrying noncommercial property at the time it sank. Tuesday, a federal judge in Tampa effectively kicked the issue to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
Name of source: CBS
SOURCE: CBS (12-27-09)
That's the mystery surrounding Robert Capa's "Falling Soldier." An analysis of the photo conducted earlier this year has reignited a decades-long debate about whether the image - supposedly of a man being shot during the Spanish Civil War - was staged. Director of the International Center of Photography, Willis Hartshorn says it's a debate that may never truly be solved.
"You want the negative of the falling soldier, we don't have that negative, you want the negative of the shot after the falling soldier we don't have that negative," Hartshorn says.
Photography historian Philip Gefter says the debate over photo-editing dates back to at least 1860 and a specific photo: When Abraham Lincoln's head was attached to John C. Calhoun's body. Calhoun's pose was thought to be more presidential.
"That's kind of pre-Photoshop, that is what Photoshop is today," Gefter says.