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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 (12-18-09)
Zuffa LLC, which owns World Extreme Cagefighting and the Ultimate Fighting Champioship, is standing by its decision to ban apparel made by Hoelzer Reich, a California apparel company, due to the "offensive" images on the clothing that invoke symbols of Nazi Germany.
World Extreme Cagefighting general manager Reed Harris told FoxNews.com the decision was a "no-brainer" after a Dec. 5 bout in which UFC fighter Joe Brammer wore a Hoelzer Reich shirt featuring an iron cross.
SOURCE: Fox News (12-15-09)
What started as a conservative protest klatch has evolved into a political force with enough muscle to potentially alter the course of the 2010 mid-term elections.
The tea party activists rallied for smaller government and lower taxes again on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon -- among the headliners were Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and former Texas Rep. Dick Armey, whose FreedomWorks group has acted as somewhat of an umbrella organization.
Various tea party groups and supporters, including FreedomWorks, are launching political action committees to back candidates financially in the 2010 elections.
Name of source: Medieval News
SOURCE: Medieval News (12-18-09)
In an article for The Historian, a publication by the Historical Association, Chris Dennis argues that Harold Godwinson was actually hacked to death by a group of knights that may have included William the Conqueror.
The traditional view is that Harold was killed by an arrow that struck his face or eye. The scene is part of the Bayeux Tapestry, and is found in chronicle accounts as early as 1080.
But Dennis points to other works, such as Bishop Guy of Amiens' Song of the Battle of Hastings, written one year after the battle, and a 12th century work by a historian named Wace, which state that during the critical part of the battle, William assembled several knights and charged at the Anglo-Saxon king. When they reached Harold, they hacked him to death.
Dennis explains that the story of the arrow in the eye may actually have been deliberate propaganda put out by King William's court: "For Duke William, it was a convenient way for the king to have met his end. If Harold had been killed by a fateful arrow, his death could be directly attributed to the will of God."
Furthermore, because Harold had been crowned and anointed in a church ceremony, his reign had the officially blessing of the Catholic church and the Papacy, so their were legal problems over whether or not William was a legitimate ruler. "The new king did want to be implicated in Harold's violent end," writes Dennis, "nor could he afford to undermine the legitimacy of his own accession by admitting responsibility for an anointed king's death."
Name of source: BBC
A panel of judges found 39 of the 1,223 defendants guilty of trying to topple the government and constitution, and sentenced them to life imprisonment.
The charges against other defendants were dropped because of the time that had elapsed.
They were all alleged members of an extreme left-wing organisation, Dev-Sol, who were arrested in the wake of the country's 1980 military coup.
SOURCE: BBC (12-16-09)
A court official said the charges against Ieng Sary and Nuon Chea relate to their treatment of Cambodia's Vietnamese and Muslim minorities.
The two men are already in pre-trial detention charged with crimes against humanity, but it is thought their trial will not start until 2011.
The two men were both high-ranking members of Pol Pot's government in the late 1970s.
A court official confirmed that the allegations were the related to the treatment of two minority groups: Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese people.
Archaeologists have discovered a bunch of meadowsweet blossoms in a Bronze Age grave at Forteviot, south of Perth.
The dark brown heads were found, along with a clump of organic material which archaeologists now say is the stems of the flowers.
The bunch had been placed by the head of the high-status individual known to have been buried in the grave.
Diggers also found pieces from a birch bark coffin in the grave, and a bronze dagger with a gold hilt band.
The 44 letters were sent by Peter Sutcliffe from Broadmoor high-security hospital in Berkshire to a woman in Birmingham between 1985 and 1990.
Sutcliffe, 63, murdered 13 women across northern England in the 1970s and 80s.
The son of one of his victims has criticised the auction by Manchester-based Trafford Books. The auctioneers declined to comment.
SOURCE: BBC (10-15-09)
The exact number killed in the tragedy is hard to know, as many bodies were buried under the mud or washed into the sea.
But there are estimates that between 10,000 and 30,000 people lost their lives. Tens of thousands more were made homeless.
The Avila mountain has become even more denuded over the past 10 years as those who lost their homes in the floods have set up houses further up the hillsides.
The item is engraved with the English author's initials. It was sold by heirs to the Barnes and Noble family.
The pre-sale estimate was $3,000 to $5,000. The auctioneer, Bonhams, said the buyer did not want to be named.
An authentication letter from Dickens's sister-in-law says the author of Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol used the toothpick up to his death in 1870.
He told the Chilcot inquiry the UK was a "minor partner" and did not have enough clout to affect key decisions.
The broadcast of Tuesday's hearing was cut off for more than a minute by its chairman on national security grounds.
Now a leading expert believes the pastel might be Prince Henry Benedict instead of Charles Edward Stuart.
The gallery said it was not uncommon for re-attributions to be made.
It follows a two-year row over the identity of the man in the painting since London art dealer Bendor Grosvenor claimed it was not Bonnie Prince Charlie.
SOURCE: BBC (12-14-09)
The castle was put up for private hire on the online auction eBay with a reserve price of £25,000.
It will be the first time in 31 years that Christmas has been celebrated at the castle, which is the only day of the year it is closed to the public.
The Earl of Warwick sold it in 1978 to the Merlin Entertainment group.
SOURCE: BBC (12-14-09)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said the organisation would not recognise Israel and would not stop fighting.
Supporters filled the streets, waving banners and portraits of assassinated Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.
The event comes almost year after a deadly three-week conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Name of source: LA Times
SOURCE: LA Times (12-15-09)
Gregory Hinton, an independent historian who conceived and organized "Out West" for the museum, said the Autry was getting into potentially risky territory with the program.
One aspect of "Out West" that the Autry handled with special care was the title. An early suggestion was "Gay and the West" but the team at the museum rejected it partly because it was too "hard-hitting," according to Hinton. Officials at the museum said they disliked that title because it didn't include bisexuals and transgender people.
Another title, "Equality and the West," was rejected because it sounded too political.
So far, the Autry hasn't received any complaints about the series either from the public or internally, according to museum leaders. One trustee they wouldn't name voiced concern that the program might portray conservatives as bigots in the vein of the character played by Randy Quaid in "Brokeback Mountain."
The first installment, which took place Sunday at the Autry, was a discussion titled "What Ever Happened to Ennis Del Mar?" The title refers to the Ledger character from "Brokeback" who lived a closeted life in rural Wyoming.
SOURCE: LA Times (12-31-69)
For a time, the Fujiokas of Los Angeles lived a life of almost unimaginable abundance for a Japanese immigrant family in the early 20th century. There were white mink stoles and a Steinway grand piano, beachfront property and vacations to Catalina, even enough money to sponsor an Indianapolis 500 racer.
Then came Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor and suddenly, the family lost nearly everything.
They lost their freedom when patriarch Fred Jiro Fujioka was hauled away by the FBI and other family members were sent to a desolate Wyoming internment camp.
They lost the family's Oldsmobile dealership, trucking business, real estate and other assets estimated at $18 million. And son William lost his chance to graduate from UC Berkeley and fulfill his mother's dream for him to become a doctor.
But the family will regain a measure of their loss today when UC Berkeley awards honorary degrees to William Fujioka and about 100 other Japanese Americans whose educations were interrupted by the internment and the war.
When President Roosevelt ordered 120,000 Japanese Americans interned during World War II, more than 2,500 students were forced to pull out of California's institutions of higher education, according to state Assemblyman Warren Furutani (D-Gardena), who wrote the bill that became law in October calling for the honorary degrees.
The three other UC campuses that existed at the time -- UCLA, UC Davis and UC San Francisco -- have also extended degrees or made plans to do so since the UC Board of Regents voted to grant them earlier this year. Similar efforts are underway in the Cal State and community college systems.
"This validates his whole life experience," said William Fujioka's eldest son, Fred, who will accept the posthumous award along with his brother and mother. "I am thrilled that he's being remembered again."
Fred Fujioka said the honorary degree would complete the one piece of unfinished business in the family's remarkable turnabout from post-war ruins to prominent public service.
Fred Fujioka, 58, is a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge. William T Fujioka, 57, is chief executive of Los Angeles County. And their role model and mother, Linda, went back to school in her 40s, earned her teaching credential in her 50s and at age 81 still works as a substitute teacher at Fishburn Avenue Elementary School in Maywood.
Those successes could not have been foreseen in the bleak days of World War II, an experience that the family says profoundly altered William Fujioka, who died of cancer in 1992.
The trauma of war
Fujioka's father was a wealthy businessman whose trucking firm supplied vehicles to the Japanese immigrant farmers who were thriving along the West Coast.
After attending classes at Caltech, the patriarch brought his design for a coal oil fuel engine to Japan with the aim of manufacturing cars there, Fred Fujioka said. A major earthquake in 1923 destroyed his entire operation, but his efforts to rebuild the region caught the eye of the Japanese emperor, who bestowed on him a sword, cuff links and honorary title.
When Pearl Harbor was attacked Dec. 7, 1941, William Fujioka was taking pre-med classes at Berkeley. He had graduated from Garfield High School at age 16. When his family was shipped off to the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming, Fujioka enlisted in the U.S. Army and joined the fabled 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
The highly decorated unit of second-generation Japanese Americans, known as Nisei, won enduring fame for liberating a Texas battalion trapped in France; the battle left more than half the regiment dead or injured.
Fujioka, a member of the Cannon Company, was injured twice and earned two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star, among other decorations. He survived a shelling that killed a close friend driving in the same truck and later found the body of a dear cousin on the battlefield.
The gory violence, the personal losses and the abrupt turn in his family fortunes shocked and scarred him, his family says.
"The war really messed him up," Linda Fujioka said during an interview at her tidy San Gabriel Valley home last week. "He just wasn't ready for all that gore."
When Fujioka returned home to Los Angeles, he didn't go back to college. He abandoned his ambition of becoming a doctor. He worked at a produce market, an insurance company, a trucking firm and in city government.
The war haunted him until the end. Even as he was dying of cancer five decades later, he lamented the loss of his comrades, the family said.
But the family hardships proved a driving force for Fujioka's two sons. Raised in Boyle Heights and then Montebello, Fred and William T Fujioka said they always aimed to restore their family legacy and become "great" like their grandfather.
Fred was always driven to excel, his mother said, waking up at 5 a.m. to practice piano and forgoing weekend ski trips to study.
A graduate of USC and UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, he said he had wanted to be a lawyer since fourth grade -- and his family and community history were major reasons for that.
"If we had had more lawyers, judges and politicians, the internment never would have happened," Fred Fujioka said. "It was a perfect storm of powerlessness."
William T was more happy-go-lucky and returned from UC Santa Cruz with a sociology degree, long hair and holey jeans, his mother recalled.
But as he worked his way through top administrative jobs at healthcare facilities, the city of Los Angeles and now the county, he too has been propelled by his family history.
"My grandfather would tell me that our family lost a lot during the war and we needed to restore the Fujioka family name," he said. "For me, it's been a big motivation."
When the family receives the honorary degree with William Fujioka's name today, the honor will at last bring closure and completion.
"For us, this is very special," William T Fujioka said. "I'm going to make a copy of the damn thing and bury it under my father's headstone."
Name of source: CNN
SOURCE: CNN (12-16-09)
The find is of importance because tests on the shroud and the body it wrapped revealed the earliest proven case of leprosy in the Old City of Jerusalem.
And in addition, the weave of the shroud raises fresh doubts about the Shroud of Turin, which many people believe was used to wrap the body of Jesus.
According to researchers involved in the excavation and subsequent testing, the recently discovered shroud lends more credible evidence that the Shroud of Turin does not date to Roman times when Jesus died but from a later period.
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-16-09)
The stone, which was discovered by Napoleon and given to Britain as part of a peace settlement more than 200 years ago, contains translations which first enabled archaeologists to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs.
As one of the British Museum's most valuable and extraordinary items, trustees are unwilling to give it up on a permanent basis, and argue that it legally belongs to Britain.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-16-09)
The project on a remote hillside outside the southern city of Granada was intended to trace of the nation's most celebrated modern poet and playwright.
But the two-month excavation of an area of parkland about the size of half a football pitch will come to an end this week and as yet no human remains have been unearthed.
Digging started in Alfacar at the end of October after years of campaigning by relatives of those believed to be buried alongside Lorca.
The family of the poet, who has become the most emblematic victim of Franco's repression, originally opposed the exhumation claiming little could be achieved through digging up the past.
But they relented after a local judge ruled it would serve public interest and they agreed to provide DNA samples to identify the poet's remains if and when he was found.
The lack of results has fuelled speculation over the fate of Lorca, who was killed by supporters of General Francisco Franco at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (11-15-09)
Mr Liu is facing up to 15 years in jail for organising a pro-democracy petition and writing essays critical of the ruling Communist Party.
The case of the 53-year-old former literature professor, who is accused of "inciting subversion of state power", is now attracting a growing international outcry from governments and civil rights groups campaigning for his release.
Mr Liu, who spent 20 months in jail for supporting the students during the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, was arrested in December 2008 for his role as architect of the Charter 08 petition calling for an end to one-party rule in China.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-15-09)
"Celebrating the birth of a Jewish baby was unthinkable for the Nazis," said Juergen Mueller, the chief researcher behind the exhibition.
"But Christmas was too popular to be banned. They therefore decided to corrupt it."
Nazi officials "invented a Germanic origin" for Christmas, renaming it "Julfest" and claiming that yuletide traditions stemmed from ancient rituals surrounding the winter solstice four days earlier, Mueller added.
Baby Jesus was turfed out of the crib and Santa Claus was reincarnated as a Viking knight.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-15-09)
Mr Sumption said the two High Court judges had “charged in” when they decided that seven paragraphs summarising intelligence provided by the Americans should be published.
The Foreign Secretary is appealing against the decision but Mr Sumption said the material was no longer necessary because the documents were handed to Mr Mohamed’s defence team and Mr Mohamed was subsequently released on February 23.
“Proceedings have essentially been taken over to serve a wider and in some respects political agenda,” Mr Sumption said.
Mr Mohamed, 31, who was arrested in Pakistan in April 2002 claims MI5 knew he was being tortured and fed questions to his interrogators through the CIA.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-31-69)
Darwin often became a virtual recluse during the worst episodes.
Previous theories regarding the cause of his illness have included hypochondria or panic disorders, while others claimed the problems lay with ‘repressed anger towards his father’, nervousness about his relationship with his wife or guilt over conflict with his earlier religious beliefs.
However, writing in the British Medical Journal online, Prof John Hayman, claimed it was probably cyclical vomiting syndrome. As well as vomiting, the condition causes nausea, headaches, stomach and skin problems - all symptoms from which the On the Origin of the Species aothor suffered.
Prof Hayman, of Monash University, Melbourne, wrote: “Darwin was not aware of mitochondria or of genes and genetic mutations but he was very much aware of random variations within species ….. His personal inherited genetic variation made him substantially ‘less fit’ but his survival prospects were greatly increased by his driving intellect, loyal colleagues, a devoted wife, family and household servants and his personal wealth.”
Name of source: Harvard
SOURCE: Harvard (12-16-09)
In the final days of the 2009 dig, Peabody Museum archaeologists and Archaeology of Harvard Yard students uncovered a 17th-century trench situated on the parcel of land where the Indian College stood. The trench was filled with stone, clay roof tile, and vast quantities of brick, including a special brick used as an architectural ornament that may have supported a column. The location, size, and structure of the trench, along with the materials found inside, indicate that it was once a wall foundation for a building—either part of the Indian College building or a closely related structure.
The trench included other significant finds related to the Indian College: two pieces of 17th-century printing type, likely from the first printing press in British colonial America and housed in the Indian College, as well as several pieces of 17th-century ceramic. The large quantities of brick in the trench further tie the trench to the Indian College—Harvard’s first brick building. The ornamental brick points to an investment in architectural detail for the building.
Name of source: Pew Research Center
SOURCE: Pew Research Center (12-17-09)
What's really exceptional at this stage of Obama's presidency is the extent to which the public has moved in a conservative direction on a range of issues. These trends have emanated as much from the middle of the electorate as from the highly energized conservative right. Even more notable, however, is the extent to which liberals appear to be dozing as the country has shifted on both economic and social issues.
Pew Research surveys throughout the year have found a downward slope in support both for an activist government generally and for a strong safety net for the needy, in particular. Chalk up these trends to a backlash against Obama policies that have expanded the role of government.
More surprising is declining support for gun control, a fall in support for abortion rights, and a rise in public doubts about global warming. Much of the change on these issues has come from independents, a category now populated by many former self-identified Republicans. But a lack of passion among Democrats -- and liberals in particular -- is also a part of the story of this conservative trend among the public at large.
For example, over the course of the year, strong opposition to health care reform has topped strong support in every survey Pew Research has conducted. Our December poll brought this intensity gap into a sharp -- and highly partisan -- focus. While 39% of Republicans said they would be angry if current reform proposals were enacted, just 22% of Democrats said they would be very happy if the measures succeeded.
On abortion, for the first time in many years we find a close division of opinion between those who support the pro-choice position and those who do not. The issue has receded in importance among the public -- our most recent poll finds that the contentious Congressional debate over an abortion funding amendment to the health care bill barely registered with the public when it was asked its opinion of the bill -- but the decline in enthusiasm about the abortion issue is sharpest among liberals, while opposition to abortion has grown firmer among conservatives.
Similarly, belief that there is solid evidence of global warming, expressed by 70% or more of the public in recent years, has now slipped to 57%, a trend particularly pronounced among Republicans and independents, but also apparent to some extent among Democrats, too.
And for the first time since the Columbine school shooting in 1999, nearly as many people believe it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns (45%) than to control gun ownership (49%). As recently as April 2008, the public judged gun control more important by a 58%-37% margin. This shift is apparent among independents and Republicans, but not among Democrats.
Leadership anxiety -- worries about a liberal president -- may well account for the conservative shift among Republicans and independents on some of these issues. More puzzling is why liberals seem asleep on issues like health care and abortion. Are they dozing because they take comfort that one of their own is in the White House? Or are they disillusioned because they think Obama is not liberal enough?
On that last question, there is some indication that liberals may be feeling a bit ignored by the administration. When asked in December, most Republicans (66%) think Obama is listening most to his party's liberals. But just 20% of liberal Democrats believe that. For the most part, they think the president is listening to moderates (54%) or that they are not sure who has his ear (25%).
Nonetheless, an overwhelming proportion of liberal Democrats (84%) say Obama is doing an excellent or good job "in standing up for the traditional positions of the Democratic Party." A smaller majority of conservative and moderate Democrats (69%) say that Obama is doing an excellent or good job in advocating for the party's traditional positions.
Whether it is disillusionment, apathy or over confidence, the administration and the Democratic Party will need a lot of help from liberals in 2010, given the public opinion trends on issues and the rising anti-incumbent sentiment abroad in the land. Many key elements of Obama's base (young voters, minorities) do not have a particularly good record for turnout in off years, as Republican victories last month in Virginia and New Jersey illustrated. Obama's challenge is to avoid further scares to skittish independents, while lighting a fire under lethargic liberals.
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (12-17-09)
The pylon, which once stood at the entrance to a temple of Isis, is to be the centerpiece of an ambitious underwater museum planned by Egypt to showcase the sunken city, believed to have been toppled into the sea by earthquakes in the 4th century.
Divers and underwater archaeologists used a giant crane and ropes to lift the 9-ton, 7.4-foot-tall pylon, covered with muck and seaweed, out of the murky waters. It was deposited ashore as Egypt's top archaeologist, Zahi Hawass, and other officials watched.
The pylon was part of a sprawling palace from which the Ptolemaic dynasty ruled Egypt and where 1st Century B.C. Queen Cleopatra wooed the Roman general Marc Antony before they both committed suicide after their defeat by Augustus Caesar.
The temple dedicated to Isis, a pharaonic goddess of fertility and magic, is at least 2,050 years old, but archaeologists believe it's likely much older. The pylon was cut from a single slab of red granite quarried in Aswan, some 700 miles (more than 1,100 kilometers) to the south, officials said.
"The cult of Isis was so powerful, it's no wonder Cleopatra chose to make her living quarters next to the temple," said coastal geoarchaeologist Jean-Daniel Stanley of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
Egyptian authorities hope that eventually the pylon will become a part of the underwater museum, an ambitious attempt to draw tourists to the country's northern coast, often overshadowed by the grand pharaonic temples of Luxor in the south, the Giza pyramids outside Cairo and the beaches of the Red Sea.
They are hoping the allure of Alexandria, founded in 331 B.C. by Alexander the Great, can also be a draw.
Cleopatra's palace and other buildings and monuments now lie strewn on the seabed in the harbor of Alexandria, the second largest city of Egypt. Since 1994, archaeologists have been exploring the ruins, one of the richest underwater excavations in the Mediterranean, with some 6,000 artifacts. Another 20,000 objects are scattered off other parts of Alexandria's coast, said Ibrahim Darwish, head of the city's underwater archaeology department.
In recent years, excavators have discovered dozens of sphinxes in the harbor, along with pieces of what is believed to be the Alexandria Lighthouse, or Pharos, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
The pylon is the first major artifact extracted from the harbor since 2002, when authorities banned further removal of major artifacts from the sea for fear it would damage them.
"The tower is unique among Alexandria's antiquities. We believe it was part of the complex surrounding Cleopatra's palace," Hawass said, as the crane gently placed the pylon on the harbor bank. "This is an important part of Alexandria's history and it brings us closer to knowing more about the ancient city."
Hawass has already launched another high-profile dig connected to Cleopatra. In April, he said he hopes to find the long-lost tomb of Antony and Cleopatra — and that he believes it may be inside a temple of Osiris located about 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Alexandria.
The pylon extracted Thursday was discovered by a Greek expedition in 1998. Retrieving it was a laborious process: For weeks, divers cleaned it of mud and scum, then they dragged it across the sea floor for three days to bring it closer to the harbor's edge for Thursday's extraction.
A truck stood by to ferry the pylon to a freshwater tank, where it will lie for six months until all the salt, which acts as a preservative underwater but damages it once exposed, is dissolved.
Still in its planning stages, the underwater museum would allow visitors to walk through underwater tunnels for close-up views of sunken artifacts, and it may even include a submarine on rails.
A collaboration between Egypt and UNESCO, the museum would cost at least $140 million, said Darwish. The above-water section would feature sail-shaped structures that would complement the architecture of the harbor and have the city's corniche seabank in the backdrop, with the splendid Alexandria Library on the other end of the bay, Darwish said.
"To me, the greatest draw would be that visitors would be able to see these amazing objects in their natural surrounding, not out of context on some museum shelf," said Stanley, who has carried out excavations around Alexandria but is not involved in the underwater dig.
Speaking to The Associated Press by phone from Washington, Stanley cautioned that the dangers to such a museum would be twofold — from storms, which in wintertime have been known to sink ships in Alexandria's harbor, and from earthquakes.
Egypt and UNESCO are still studying the feasibility of building such an underwater museum. No one knows where the money would come from, but there is hope construction could start as early as late 2010.
"If the study shows it's possible, this could become a magical place, both above and underwater," Hawass said. "If you can smell the sea here, you can smell the history."
Darwish, one of seven Egyptian archaeologists who are also qualified divers, said the country has had to rely on foreign expertise, mostly French and Greek, for diving archaeology expeditions around Alexandria. That will change, he says, as the Alexandria university educates more underwater archaeologists.
A temporary downtown museum will house the Isis pylon extracted Thursday and some 200 other objects removed from the sea here in the last decade.
SOURCE: AP (12-31-69)
The cable network says the eight-hour series is called "The Kennedys" and will be told in a multigenerational manner akin to "The Godfather." The network says the series will depict a manipulative, egocentric father living out his ambitions through his sons.
The personal drama of the clan will be included in the saga as well as the era's major events. Some of those include the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban missile crisis and the civil rights struggle.
No casting has been announced for the series. It is scheduled to air in 2011.
SOURCE: AP (12-14-09)
President Nicolas Sarkozy showed one of the fragments — a pockmarked slab with sepia and blue tones featuring two figures in profile — to his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak on Monday, after the two men had lunch in Paris.
Egypt's antiquities czar Zahi Hawass cut ties with the Louvre in October, saying the famed Paris museum had refused to return the fragments. Egyptian officials said the artifacts, from a 3,200-year-old tomb near the ancient temple city of Luxor, were stolen in the 1980s.
Name of source: Science Daily
SOURCE: Science Daily (12-15-09)
Scholars have argued for nearly 70 years over the provenance of what's called the Archaic Mark, a 44-page miniature book, known as a "codex," which contains the complete 16-chapter text of the Gospel of Mark in minuscule handwritten text. The manuscript, which also includes 16 colorful illustrations, has long been believed to be either an important witness to the early text of the gospel or a modern forgery, said Mitchell, Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature.
"The mystery is now solved from textual, chemical, and codicological (bookmaking) angles," said Mitchell, who first became intrigued by the codex when she saw it as a graduate student in 1982. Comprehensive analysis demonstrates that it is not a genuine Byzantine manuscript, but a counterfeit, she said, "made somewhere between 1874 and the first decades of the 20th century."
Mitchell said experts from multiple disciplines made the findings possible. "Our collective efforts have achieved what no single scholar could do -- give a comprehensive analysis of the composite artifact that is an illustrated codex. The data collected in this research process has given us an even deeper understanding of the exact process used by the forger," said Mitchell. "It will, we hope, assist ongoing scholarly investigation into and detection of manuscripts forged in the modern period."
Since 1937, when Edgar J. Goodspeed a University of Chicago biblical scholar, acquired the Archaic Mark, the manuscript has been an enigma. As early as 1947, scholars speculated about its authenticity. Because it is the closest of any known manuscript to the venerable 4th-century Codex Vaticanus for the text of Mark's Gospel, Mitchell said, it was believed to be "either a very important textual witness (from the 14th Century) or a forgery based upon some late 19th-century critical edition of the Greek New Testament incorporating the readings of the Vatican manuscript." The modern blue pigment in the illustrations, indentified in 1989, would support the latter, but Mitchell explained this finding was not definitive because the pigment could have come from a restoration effort on an earlier manuscript.
In 2006, the University of Chicago Library digitized the Archaic Mark, making it available to scholars worldwide (goodspeed.lib.uchicago.edu) and stimulating renewed interest in it. The following year, in response to that growing interest in the mysterious manuscript, Alice Schreyer, Director of the Special Collections Research Center, convened a committee to lead a complete and definitive examination of the material components of the Archaic Mark.
The Library commissioned materials analysis from McCrone Associates, and enlisted the aid of Abigail Quandt, a rare books expert and preservationist at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore.
Last January, Joseph G. Barabe, a senior scientist at McCrone, took 24 samples of parchment, ink and a range of paints used in illustrations. Barabe analyzed the samples using an array of techniques -- polarized light; energy dispersive X-ray spectrometry; the scanning electron microscope for elemental analysis; X-ray diffraction; Fourier Transform infrared spectroscopy; and Raman spectroscopy. Under microscopic analysis, Barabe and his colleagues found no evidence of retouching of any kind in the manuscript, disproving earlier suspicions of restoration attempts.
Barabe determined the Archaic Mark was created after 1874 -- using materials not available until the late 19th century -- on a parchment substrate dating from about the middle of the 16th century. Carbon dating determined the animal hide was from some time between 1485-1631.
The rest of the authentication team confirmed and helped interpret Barabe's findings.
Quandt carefully reconstructed the steps the modern forger took to produce the manuscript, from preparing the parchment, to the painting of images and inscription of text, as well as the application of the modern coating, cellulose nitrate. Quandt also identified specific ways in which its production defies usual Byzantine procedures, and she determined that the reused parchment contains no recoverable text underneath.
Mitchell completed the analysis with a study of the textual edition the forger had used. She confirmed and refined Stephen C. Carlson's proposal that the modern edition from which the forger copied the text was the 1860 edition of the Greek New Testament by Philipp Buttmann. Mitchell identified telltale readings in the Archaic Mark that arose from the original 1856 edition of Buttmann's critical text, reproducing errors later corrected in the flurry of collations of the famous manuscript Vaticanus between 1857 and 1867.
Mitchell, Barabe and Quandt have detailed these findings in a paper scheduled for February publication in the journal Novum Testamentum.
Name of source: BBC News
SOURCE: BBC News (12-31-69)
James Bain spent 35 years in jail after being found guilty of kidnapping and raping a nine-year-old boy in 1974.
On his release from prison in Florida on Thursday, he told the BBC he was not angry and his faith had helped him.
He has always maintained his innocence, but was only allowed a review of his case following an appeal.
During his final court hearing signalling his release, Mr Bain wore a T-shirt with the words "Not Guilty" on it.
The 54-year-old, who was jailed at the age of 19, told the BBC's World Today programme that he felt very emotional and "extremely great".
'In God's hands'
He said his first duty upon his release was to see his mother.
"I felt so good but because of her [my mother's] health I had to go to the house. She never gave up, the same as [me]."
He said the support of his family and his religious faith had helped him get through his ordeal.
“ He walked out of the courthouse, a free man, a free man in America ”
"[It] just was the right time for God to release me from this. I just had to be very patient for that... I cannot feel angry. I put all that in God's hands," he said.
After leaving Polk County courthouse, Mr Bain said he hoped to return to school and he was looking forward to eating fried turkey and drinking Dr Pepper.
The Innocence Project of Florida helped co-ordinate Mr Bain's release. It says that he was imprisoned for far longer than any of the other 246 inmates exonerated by DNA evidence across the US.
Mr Bain was freed after filing several petitions asking for his case to be reviewed and DNA tests to be carried out.
Most of these were thrown out but following an order by a judge, test results which came in last week showed Mr Bain was innocent.
He had been convicted mainly on the strength of the victim identifying him out of a line-up, although tests available at the time did not definitely link him to the crime, the Associated Press reported.
Mr Bain said he had been watching television with his twin sister when the crime occurred.
Innocence Project of Project lawyer Seth Miller told the World Today: "He walked out of the courthouse, a free man, a free man in America.
"And the family's excited to have Jamie back with them and this is the first day of the rest of his life and we're excited to be able to share it with him."
Last year Florida passed a law that means Mr Bain is entitled to $1.75m (£1.08m) for the time he spent in jail while innocent.
SOURCE: BBC News (12-31-69)
The wrought iron sign, whose words mean "Work Sets You Free", was unscrewed and pulled down from its position above the gate in the early hours of Friday.
Polish authorities denounced the theft, while Israel's Holocaust museum branded it an "act of war".
More than a million people - 90% of them Jews - were murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz during World War II.
Investigators say at least two people would have been needed to steal the five-metre-long (16ft), 40kg (90lb) sign.
The theft occurred between 0330 and 0500 local time on Friday, police spokeswoman Katarzyna Padlo told AP news agency.
“ If they are pranksters, they'd have to be sick ”
Michael Schudrich Poland's chief rabbi
Jarek Mensfelt, from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum, told the BBC: "It is more than just stealing something. It is a desecration.
"Somebody who did this must have been a person who had a knowledge of our security system because all the area is closed at night and patrolled and there is a system of cameras," he added.
"This was not an incident - this was a deliberate and organised action."
Avner Shalev, director of Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, said the theft "constitutes a true declaration of war".
He added: "We don't know the identity of the perpetrators but I assume they are neo-Nazis."
Polish ex-President Lech Walesa described the theft as "unthinkable", while Poland's chief rabbi said he could not imagine who would do such a thing.
"If they are pranksters, they'd have to be sick," said Michael Schudrich.
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom labelled the theft "abominable".
"This act demonstrates once again hatred and violence against Jews," he is quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
The BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw says police are interviewing security guards and viewing closed circuit television footage.
It is not clear why it was stolen but museum officials say the widely recognised sign would be difficult to sell.
It is the first time the sign, made by Polish prisoners, has been stolen since it was erected in 1940.
Occasionally removed by officials for conservation work, it has been replaced by a replica.
A 5,000-zloty ($1,700; £1,050) reward has been offered for information leading to the capture of the thieves, reports AP.
The cynical slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei" was also used at the entrances to other Nazi camps, including Dachau and Sachsenhausen, although the one at Auschwitz is perhaps the best known.
Hundreds of thousands of prisoners passed under the sign into the camp during the Holocaust, but the majority were murdered or worked to death.
The theft comes just days after the German government pledged 60m euros ($86m) to an endowment fund to help preserve the camp.
Auschwitz, which receives more than a million visitors a year, has been run as a state museum since 1947.
Name of source: Live Science
SOURCE: Live Science (12-15-09)
These changes may also promote brain development and make us less vulnerable to diseases of aging, such as cancer, heart disease and dementia.
Chimpanzees and great apes are genetically similar to humans, yet they rarely live for more than 50 years. Although the average human lifespan has doubled in the last 200 years - due largely to decreased infant mortality related to advances in diet, environment and medicine - even without these improvements, people living in high mortality hunter-forager lifestyles still have twice the life expectancy at birth as wild chimpanzees do.
These key differences in lifespan may be due to genes that humans evolved to adjust better to meat-rich diets, biologist Caleb Finch at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles suggested.
The oldest known stone tools manufactured by the ancestors of modern humans, which date back some 2.6 million years, apparently helped butcher animal bones. As our forerunners evolved, they became better at capturing and digesting meat, a valuable, high-energy food, by increasing brain and body size and reducing gut size.
Over time, eating red meat, particularly raw flesh infected with parasites in the era before cooking, stimulates chronic inflammation, Finch explained. In response, humans apparently evolved unique variants in a cholesterol-transporting gene, apolipoprotein E, which regulates chronic inflammation as well as many aspects of aging in the brain and arteries.
SOURCE: Live Science (12-14-09)
But even after so long on the lam they've retained at least one mark of domestication: an ability to read human gestures.
At the tender age of four months, ordinary dogs will spontaneously investigate objects that we point to or even just gaze at. In contrast, wolves-even when reared by people-only attend to such gestures after months of intensive training.
Bradley P. Smith and his graduate adviser, Carla A. Litchfield of the University of South Australia in Magill, wondered how dingoes measure up. They presented seven tame but untrained dingoes with two flowerpots, one containing meat. (Both were meat-scented to preclude olfactory clues.) In a series of trials, an experimenter tried out ten gestures to indicate the pot hiding the treat. The dingoes raced straight to it in response to most of the gestures, such as pointing at, tapping on, or standing directly behind the pot. When the experimenter merely gazed at it, however, the dingoes didn't get the message.
SOURCE: Live Science (12-11-09)
Almost all of the temples constructed on the island of Sicily during its Greek period over 2,500 years ago are oriented toward the eastern horizon, according to a new study by Alun Salt, an archaeoastronomer with the University of Leicester, in England.
Though many temples on mainland Greece also line up with the sunrise, it is less frequent on the mainland than on outlying colonies, implying an effort by outlying colonies to strengthen their ties to the home territory, Salt told LiveScience.
Sicily became a Greek state in the 8th century B.C., when the ancient powerhouse founded its first settlement on the Mediterranean island, now a province of Italy. It did not take long for local Sicilians to adopt many of their colonizer's customs, including those related to architecture and religion.
Name of source: Guardian (UK)
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (12-15-09)
Around 22m messages spanning more than 90 days were declared missing in 2007, shortly after a scandal arose over the decision to fire nine federal prosecutors who had not toed the White House line.
The Obama administration said that its computer technicians had successfully recovered the lost data, in what campaigners called a victory in the attempt to clear up the "electronic data mess" left behind by Bush officials.
The White House is legally obliged to maintain copies of all the communication it sends, including email, under the Presidential Records Act - brought in after the Watergate scandal in the 1970s as a way of preserving evidence of activities conducted by presidential staffers.
Name of source: Sky News
SOURCE: Sky News (12-14-09)
The US President, who took office on January 20, added there was still work to be done.
"B+ because of the things that are undone. Health care is not yet signed," Mr Obama said.
"If I get health care passed, we tip into A-."
Mr Obama said his administration had "inherited the biggest set of challenges of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt", which they were still working on.
Name of source: Times (UK)
SOURCE: Times (UK) (12-16-09)
The bound volume of cartoons by James Gillray, the 18th and 19th century artist whose satirical etchings were the forerunner of modern political cartoons, was once considered so obscene that it was seized by police.
Yesterday the pornography and obscenity team at the Ministry of Justice conceded that times have changed and handed it over to the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The cartoons were considered bawdy fun when they were first published individually in the late 18th century, but by the 1840s, when they were printed as a collection, they were sufficently outrageous for the publisher to withhold his name from the title page. The police of the Victorian era agreed. They impounded the book and handed it to government officials.
Name of source: History Today
SOURCE: History Today (12-14-09)
These were some of the questions raised by an impressive panel of speakers at a conference held at the residence of the French Ambassador to the UK last week. The conference, entitled ‘France, Britain, German unification and European construction: Twenty years after the Fall of the Wall’, was organised to mark the launch of the latest book by Frederic Bozo, Mitterrand, the End of the Cold War, and German Unification. Bozo is professor in contemporary history and international relations at the Sorbonne. Speakers included Bozo himself, Professor Michael Cox from the LSE, Professor Patrick Salmon, chief historian at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and Jean Mendelson, the director of the French national archives. The hugely engaging and stimulating discussion was chaired by James Blitz, the Diplomatic Editor of the Financial Times.
In his book, Bozo argues, against the dominant view, that Mitterrand was against German unification, and that he sought to oppose it. The French president’s alleged opposition was a ‘legend’. French policies were undoubtedly different to German and American policies and these differences, at times, caused disagreement between the three countries. Historiography is also dominated by the American viewpoint, which has caused French policies of German unification, in favour of a unified Germany within a European framework, to be largely overlooked.
Name of source: Azzaman (Iraq)
SOURCE: Azzaman (Iraq) (12-31-69)
The site, in the outskirts of Baghdad, was fenced and seen as one of the country’s most important ancient landmarks prior to the invasion.
Only recently the Antiquities Department has remember Harmal, where Iraq’s most renowned archaeologist Taha Baqer had unearthed an ancient library of about 300 cuneiform documents in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Baqer did not only excavate the city but reconstructed some of its most important buildings where visitors could feel, touch and even smell the grandeur of a Babylonian site.
This highly significant site was left unattended “because of lack of financial resources”, according to Abdulzahra al-Talaqani, the department’s spokesman.
Ordinary people could enter the site and illegal digs have been reported to have taken place there.
Encroachments in the form of illegal buildings and cultivation have been freely conducted at the site in the past few years.
However, Talaqani said the department was determined to “remove all violations” and has appointed guard to protect the site.
But what could one single guard do amid the mounting violence that has engulfed Baghdad.
Talaqani said the site will be fenced once again and urged residents in neighborhoods close to it not to dump their garbage there.
Talaqani did not say whether the magnificent ancient temples which Baqer had reconstructed have escaped damage.
Earlier, local newspaper said insurgents used the massive site as a launching pad for their mortar and rocket attacks on U.S. occupation troops and Iraqi government offices.
Last time a foreign excavation team was at Tall Harmal was in 1997 when a team from the German Archaeological Institute dug new soundings to shed more light on older civilizations that inhabited the site before the Babylonians had it turned into a major settlement.
Name of source: Inside Higher Ed
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (12-31-69)
Not only are more students enrolling, but different kinds of students. "Our core has always been those with a love of the literature and we are still getting them, but now we are getting students with all sorts of other interaction with Russian culture," said Amy Adams, associate professor of Russian.
She has Reserve Officers' Training Corps students who want careers in intelligence. She had parents of one student tell her recently that their daughter wants to be a sports lawyer and hopes to deal with Russian hockey players. She has a group of seniors who want to go into the business world in Moscow after they graduate. She has some "heritage speakers" who are from immigrant families and grew up speaking the language, but never learned to read and write it.
"Students view Moscow as glittering and exciting, and they want to be there as young people," said Adams.
The move from one to two sections may seem small compared to the numerous sections of Spanish one can find at many colleges. Indeed, Russian professors are the first to admit that increases of 50 or 100 percent are possible in part because the base was small.
But Russian programs at colleges around the country are reporting such gains, some starting last year but many seeing the gains take off this year. The increases are particularly welcome to those teaching Russian, given the vulnerability during a recession of programs that don't have meaningful enrollments. And the increase could yield a much larger cohort of potential experts to study language, culture, history, politics and society of an obviously important country.
Stetson University last year marked the first time ever it filled two sections of introductory Russian. Indiana University went from three sections of introductory Russian to four. Union College, which used to enroll 5 or 6 students in its introductory Russian course, now has 13, and for the first time in years, there are enough students that the college is offering third year Russian.
The University of Kentucky in the last year saw enrollment in introductory Russian go to 32 from 16 and the Russian department's courses on Russian folklore and culture (taught in English) are at capacity. At the University of Pittsburgh, enrollment in first year Russian has gone to 57 from 39 in the last year, and enrollment in fourth year Russian has gone to 9 from 5. At Portland State University, enrollment in all Russian language courses is 257 this fall, up from 161 a year ago and 112 two years ago.
There are no current national data available on Russian enrollment. But many Russian professors have been trying to figure out what's happening, since it is in such contrast to a post-Cold War depression in interest. The Modern Language Association's periodic surveys of foreign language enrollments provide the best national data, and those figures were last collected in 2006, prior to the recent surge. The MLA data show that Russian enrollments went up only marginally between 1998 and 2006, a period that saw huge gains for languages such as Chinese and Arabic.
The recent increase has implications for many fields. William Taubman, president of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, said that advanced work in many disciplines depends on graduate students and professors with ability to do research in Russian. Taubman is a political scientist at Amherst College, which is also seeing an increase in Russian language enrollments, and he said that Russian studies is seeing a notable growth in work by sociologists and anthropologists -- in addition to work by historians, literary scholars and political scientists -- and that all of them need the language.
"This is very, very good news for Russian studies," he said.
Why Russian Now?
Many Russian professors, while thrilled with the surge in interest, want to figure it out. Some, like Adams at Holy Cross, point to a confluence of factors. Cynthia A. Ruder, associate professor of Russian at Kentucky, agrees. The U.S. government has classified Russian as a "critical language" and that designation helped attract three Air Force ROTC students to Kentucky's program; more of her students have friends who are immigrants from Russia; others have career goals, such as the art history major planning a career in art research or the international relations major who wants to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Other experts, who note that American students flocked to Russian during the Cold War, say that a friendly Russia (as in the immediate post-Soviet era) is less interesting to students than an in-your-face Russia in which leaders joust (verbally) with the United States and (not verbally) in places like Georgia.
Eugene Huskey, director of Russian studies at Stetson, quoted the Russian saying chem khuzhe, tem luchshe (the worse, the better) as applying to the field. "The worse U.S.-Russian relations are, or the worse the conditions are inside Russia, the more likely students are to read about the country," Huskey said. "The current generation of high school students is growing up with the perception of a more menacing Russia, and that has piqued their curiosity in a way that is not dissimilar to what I experienced as a boy growing up in central Florida during the Cuban missile crisis."
Jeffrey D. Holdeman, Slavic language coordinator at Indiana University, when asked whether the interest is more due to Pushkin or Putin, said that it's both, and added Pasha (a common Russian nickname) as a third reason. When he started teaching Russian in 1996, as a graduate student at Ohio State University, he said Pushkin would have been the answer because literature was the draw. "It was common for students to say that they wanted to be able to read Tolstoy or Dostoevsky in the original," he said.
Holdeman got in the habit of asking students each year why they enrolled in Russian, and he still hears about literature, but also other reasons. Of late, he said, he hears "more practical and personal reasons," such as "our neighbors are Russian," "my hockey coach is Russian," "I got to go to Russia in high school," "this video game I play has a lot of Russian in it," "my best friend is Russian and I spent all of my time over at his house, his parents feeding me, and I even picked up some words." That's what he thinks of as the Pasha explanation.
As for Putin, Holdeman said that he also hears students say things like, "I think Russian is still relevant in the world" and "Russia is still an important country."
Huskey, of Stetson, said that whatever draws students to Russian, the difficulty for most Americans of learning a language with a different alphabet from the one they know puts a lot of pressure on the professors who teach beginning students, and Huskey credited people like Michael Denner -- an associate professor at Stetson who teaches these students -- with keeping the students. "Every vibrant Russian program has a stellar professor to bring students in the door," Huskey said.
Adams, of Holy Cross, said that because the attraction of Russian language comes from interest in culture and society, not just politics, the classroom and non-classroom offerings can be broad -- and that builds more interest. Holy Cross has a lecture series that has featured a Russian journalist, a Russian novelist, and a Russian professor who is an expert on rock music.
In classes, Adams said doesn't speak any English, and uses YouTube videos of Russian musicians to illustrate some concepts. While some of her students are reading Pushkin, the program "isn't about Pushkin's Russia," she said. At the same time, she was quick to add that once students are engaged with Russia, they embrace the literary classics. One of her former ROTC students recently told her about reading Pushkin during down time in a tank in Iraq.
Some Russian programs may have focused in the past decade on just serving a small number of students, but Adams said that this is the time for these programs to be more visible on campuses. "We have so many professors who can really light up a room, and we need to let people know," she said. "These enrollments are ours to lose."
One of her students is typical of many of the trends Adams and her colleagues elsewhere see.
Nicholas Pope, a freshman at Holy Cross, said he's thinking of going into diplomacy or teaching English as a second language -- and that Russian has appeal for either choice. His mother is Czech, so he has some familiarity with a similar language and grew up "with a fascination of Russia." As more students study Russian, teaching activities that require a critical mass (and that are fun) are also possible. Pope's song and dance routine didn't win this year's "Russian Idol" contest at Holy Cross, but he's hoping for next year.
Name of source: Washington Post
SOURCE: Washington Post (12-31-69)
The diamond, which weighs 31.06 carats, has not been on public display since an exhibition in Brussels in 1958. The museum announced Monday that the current owner, Laurence Graff, chairman of Graff Diamonds International, is lending the brilliant gem not only for exhibition but also research. Graff bought the diamond last December at auction for $24.3 million, a record price for a single stone at the time.
The Wittelsbach-Graff Diamond is believed to be from the same mine in India as the world famous Hope Diamond. The Hope, which weighs 45.52 carats, has been one of the most popular attractions at the Smithsonian Institution for 50 years. The Smithsonian gemologists, under Jeffrey Post, curator of the National Gem Collection, plan to conduct experiments to see whether the smaller stone has the same properties as the Hope.
Besides its origin, the blue diamond has an intriguing past. In 1664 it was given to Infanta Margarita Teresa by her father, Philip IV of Spain, when she married Emperor Leopold I of Austria. Then it was owned by the House of Wittelsbach, a Bavaria ruling family, until their jewels were sold at Christie's in 1931.
The gemstone will be on display from Jan. 28, 2010, to Aug. 1, 2010.
Name of source: New Scientist
SOURCE: New Scientist (12-10-09)
The traditional view is that before the arrival of the Spanish and Portuguese in the 15th century there were no complex societies in the Amazon basin – in contrast to the Andes further west where the Incas built their cities. Now deforestation, increased air travel and satellite imagery are telling a different story.
Their discovery, in an area of northern Bolivia and western Brazil, follows other recent reports of vast sprawls of interconnected villages known as "garden cities" in north central Brazil, dating from around AD 1400. But the structures unearthed at the garden city sites are not as consistently similar or geometric as the geoglyphs, Schaan says.
Excavations have unearthed ceramics, grinding stones and other signs of human habitation at some of the sites but not at others. This suggests that some had purely ceremonial roles, while others may also have been used for defence.
Name of source: National Geographic News
SOURCE: National Geographic News (12-13-09)
The famed Norse warriors, many of whom settled parts of eastern and northern England in the Middle Ages, recycled as they fought, new excavations in the United Kingdom suggest.
An 11th-century metalworking site recently discovered in the city of York (map) is likely evidence of a makeshift recycling center, where Vikings took weapons for reprocessing after battle, according to historian Charles Jones, organizer of the Fulford Battlefield Society, which advocates preserving the battle site against potential development.
Jones and his team have found hundreds of pieces of ironwork—including axes, sword parts, and arrowheads—along with lumps of melted-down iron and the remains of smelting pits.
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (12-14-09)
An ice cube tray has gone on sale in which drinkers can make a replica of the Titanic - complete with four icebergs. The product is called the Gin And Titonic Ice Tray.
The manufacturer says it allows drinkers to 're-create history' by making the two objects collide in the glass, but one critic has branded the idea 'sick and distasteful'.
Titanic historian Brian Ticehurst has gone so far as to suggest the product is akin to making light of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Manufacturer Fred and Friends is renowned for its off-beat household items. The packaging for Gin and Titonic reads: 'Ice ahoy! Gin and Titonic is guaranteed to be an unsinkable addition to your next party.
Name of source: The Australian
SOURCE: The Australian (12-14-09)
In the third volume of his The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, Windschuttle claims that two of the three girls the subject of the 2002 film were removed in 1931 for their own safety, because of alleged promiscuity with white station workers, not as part of a systematic breeding program.
Director Phillip Noyce and screenwriter Christine Olsen provided a letter from Western Australia's chief protector of Aborigines Auber Octavius Neville, which said one of the girls, Daisy Kadibill, 8, was removed to stop her from mating with an full-blood Aboriginal man.
Name of source: WCVBTV (Boston)
SOURCE: WCVBTV (Boston) (12-14-09)
The bronze plaque marked the location of the Old Belfry that was used to sound the alarm on April 19, 1775, at the beginning of the American Revolution.
The Old Belfry was originally built in 1762 and then moved to the Battle Green in 1768. Its bell was used to summon townspeople to worship or warn them of danger.
The plaque was stolen some time between Thursday and Friday. Pieces of the stone that housed the plaque could be seen strewn about the grounds of the Lexington Battle Green Monday.
The copper plaque might have been stolen by thieves seeking to profit from the high price of copper, police said.
Name of source: New York Times
From the heroic Bernini bust of the young French king in 1665, a noble face framed in tumbling curls; to the florid poseur in his coronation robes, painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud in 1701, Louis XIV was the role model for creating an image and a myth.
It is hard to believe that the palace at Versailles, the king’s actual and spiritual home, has never held an exhibition focused on the man who created this illustrious tourist magnet.
Yet “Louis XIV, l’homme et le roi” (Louis XIV, The man and the king, which runs through Feb. 7) is the chateau’s first attempt to put its founder in perspective. The exhibition covers the royal cultural enthusiasm for furnishings, artworks, tapestries, and the busts and bas-reliefs that propagated his image and spread the myth.
An exceptional amount of material remains from this period, even if the French Revolution, a century after the apogee of Louis’s reign, shattered the royalist dream — literally, in the case of a marble equestrian statue that was smashed so thoroughly only Louis’s ankle remains.
You would not expect Versailles to put its Sun King in anything but a flattering light. One of the most beguiling displays among the eight rooms is dedicated to music and dance, and it includes an image of Louis at 15 costumed as “Le Roi Soleil,” his hair spreading into golden beams to match the sunburst shoes and the fringed edge to a peacock feather skirt.
One of the most arresting aspects of the royal images through a 72-year reign is that Louis allowed himself to be depicted as growing old, warts and all — or, in the case of a ghostly wax portrait by Antoine Benoist in 1705, with even the scars of childhood smallpox imprinted on his cheeks.
The acceptance of aging as part of majesty, shown by a thickening figure and blemished skin, is epitomized by Rigaud’s famous and flamboyant Louis X1V portrait. Below the ermine and fleur-de-lis robe, his corpulent figure is balanced on bowed and buckled shoes. But the king was not, as had been claimed, fresh off the dance floor in his famous Hall of Mirrors, according to the exemplary research by the exhibition’s curators, Nicolas Milovanovic and Alexandre Maral.
The taste and craftsmanship of royal objects — some like a Baroque marquetry cabinet on loan from the Duke of Northumberland and back at Versailles for the first time since the French Revolution — enforce the triple image of the Roi Soleil. He is depicted as a patron of the arts, a valiant leader in war and a scrupulous supporter of religion. The sheer volume of objects at the highest level include cameos, gilded Boulle tables, equestrian portraits, historic tapestries and images of performing arts like music and ballet.
The king or his courtiers also seem to have clicked on the 17th-century version of the “manage my image” long before the most basic of media communications.
In the final room are busts and statues that were disseminated across France, often taking as a template the Bernini bust that sets the standard at the show’s opening. Although many of the noble equestrian creations disappeared during the Revolution and the Terror that followed, remaining bas-reliefs enforce the message that this was a king whose image was paramount.
Who was Louis the man? At the entrance to the exhibition, the romantic vision is of the young man as Apollo — the original sun god — surrounded by nymphs in a marble grotto sculpture by François Girardon and Thomas Regnaudin.
Since the famous portrait by Rigaud was originally done as a gift for the king’s grandson, it is possible to imagine that Louis embraced his family as much as his lineage.
Yet the greatest monument to Louis XIV is Versailles itself. From the imposing chateau (its cornices freshly gilded) to the park and garden landscapes by André Le Nôtre, the Sun King created an image that has him up there in the stratosphere of the immortals.
Like all famous brands, just “Louis” is enough, three and a half centuries on, to define a man, enduring French taste and a historic period in time.
His death was announced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which Mr. Samuelson helped build into one of the world’s great centers of graduate education in economics.
In receiving the Nobel Prize in 1970, Mr. Samuelson was credited with transforming his discipline from one that ruminates about economic issues to one that solves problems, answering questions about cause and effect with mathematical rigor and clarity.
When economists “sit down with a piece of paper to calculate or analyze something, you would have to say that no one was more important in providing the tools they use and the ideas that they employ than Paul Samuelson,” said Robert M. Solow, a fellow Nobel laureate and colleague.of Mr. Samuelson’s at M.I.T.
Mr. Samuelson attracted a brilliant roster of economists to teach or study at the university, among them Mr. Solow as well as such other future Nobel laureates as George A. Akerlof, Robert F. Engle III, Lawrence R. Klein, Paul Krugman, Franco Modigliani, Robert C. Merton and Joseph E. Stiglitz.
Mr. Samuelson wrote one of the most widely used college textbooks in the history of American education. The book, “Economics,” first published in 1948, was the nation’s best-selling textbook for nearly 30 years. Translated into 20 languages, it was selling 50,000 copies a year a half century after it first appeared.
“I don’t care who writes a nation’s laws — or crafts its advanced treatises — if I can write its economics textbooks,” Mr. Samuelson said.
His textbook taught college students how to think about economics. His technical work — especially his discipline-shattering Ph.D. thesis, immodestly titled “The Foundations of Economic Analysis” — taught professional economists how to ply their trade. Between the two books, Mr. Samuelson redefined modern economics.
The textbook introduced generations of students to the revolutionary ideas of John Maynard Keynes, the British economist who in the 1930s developed the theory that modern market economies could become trapped in depression and would then need a strong push from government spending or tax cuts, in addition to lenient monetary policy, to restore them. No student would ever again rest comfortably with the 19th-century nostrum that private markets would cure unemployment without need of government intervention.
That lesson was reinforced in 2008, when the international economy slipped into the steepest downturn since the Great Depression, when Keynesian economics was born. When the Depression began, governments stood pat or made matters worse by trying to balance fiscal budgets and erecting trade barriers. But 80 years later, having absorbed the Keynesian preaching of Mr. Samuelson and his followers, most industrialized countries took corrective action, raising government spending, cutting taxes, keeping exports and imports flowing and driving short-term interest rates to near zero.
Lessons for President Kennedy
Mr. Samuelson explained Keynesian economics to American presidents, world leaders, members of Congress and the Federal Reserve Board, not to mention other economists. He was a consultant to the United States Treasury, the Bureau of the Budget and the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.
His most influential student was John F. Kennedy, whose first 40-minute class with Mr. Samuelson, after the 1960 election, was conducted on a rock by the beach at the family compound at Hyannis Port, Mass. Before class, there was lunch with politicians and Cambridge intellectuals aboard a yacht offshore. “I had expected a scrumptious meal,” Mr. Samuelson said. “We had franks and beans.”
As a member of the Kennedy campaign brain trust, Professor Samuelson headed an economic task force for the candidate and held several private sessions on economics with him. Many would have a bearing on decisions made during the Kennedy administration.
Though Professor Samuelson was President Kennedy’s first choice to become chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, he refused, on principle, to take any government office because, he said, he did not want to put himself in a position in which he could not say and write what he believed.
After the 1960 election, he told the young president-elect that the nation was heading into a recession and that Mr. Kennedy should push through a tax cut to head it off. Mr. Kennedy was shocked.
“I’ve just campaigned on a platform of fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets and here you are telling me that the first thing I should do in office is to cut taxes?” Professor Samuelson recalled, quoting the president.
Kennedy eventually accepted the professor’s advice and signaled his willingness to cut taxes, but he was assassinated before he could take action. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, carried out the plan, however, and the tax cut reinvigorated the economy.
Adding a Bite to Academia
In the classroom, Mr. Samuelson was a lively, funny, articulate teacher. On theories that he and others had developed to show links between the performance of the stock market and the general economy, he famously said: “It is indeed true that the stock market can forecast the business cycle. The stock market has called nine of the last five recessions.”
His speeches and his voluminous writing had a lucidity and bite not usually found in academic technicians. He tried to give his economic pronouncements a “snap at the end,” he said, “like Mark Twain.” When women began complaining about career and salary inequities, for example, he said in their defense, “Women are men without money.”
Remarkably versatile, Mr. Samuelson reshaped academic thinking about nearly every economic subject, from what Marx could have meant by a labor theory of value to whether stock prices fluctuate randomly. Mathematics had already been employed by social scientists, but Mr. Samuelson brought the discipline into the mainstream of economic thinking, showing how to derive strong theoretical predictions from simple mathematical assumptions.
His early work, for example, presented a unified mathematical structure for predicting how businesses and households alike will respond to changes in economic forces, how changes in wage rates will affect employment, and how tax rate changes will affect tax collections.
His relentless application of mathematical analysis gave rise to an astonishing number of groundbreaking theorems, resolving debates that had raged among theorists for decades, if not centuries.
Early in his career, Mr. Samuelson developed the rudimentary mathematics of business cycles with a model, called the multiplier-accelerator, that captured the inherent tendency of market economies to fluctuate. The model showed how markets magnify the impact of outside shocks and turn, say, an initial one-dollar increase in foreign investment into a several-dollar increase in total domestic income, to be followed by a decline.
The Stolper-Samuelson Theorem
Mr. Samuelson provided a mathematical structure to study the impact of trade on different groups of consumers and workers. In a famous theorem, known as Stolper-Samuelson, he and a co-author showed that competition from imports of clothes and similar goods from underdeveloped countries, where producers rely on unskilled workers, could drive down the wages of low-paid workers in industrialized countries.
The theorem provided the intellectual scaffold for opponents of free trade. And late in his career, Mr. Samuelson set off an intellectual commotion by pointing out that the economy of a country like the United States could be hurt if productivity rose among the economies with which it traded.
Yet Mr. Samuelson, like most academic economists, remained an advocate of open trade. Trade, he taught, raises average living standards enough to allow the workers and consumers who benefit to compensate those who suffer, and still have some extra income left over. Protectionism would not help, but higher productivity would.
Mr. Samuelson also formulated a theory of public goods — that is, goods that can be provided effectively only through collective, or government, action. National defense is one such public good. It is non-exclusive; the Navy, for example, exists to protect every citizen. It also eliminates rivalry among its many consumers; that is, the amount of security that any one citizen derives from the Navy subtracts nothing from the amount of security that any other citizen derives.
The features of public goods, Mr. Samuelson taught, stand in direct contrast to those of ordinary goods, like apples. An apple eaten by one consumer is not available to any other. Public goods, he concluded, cannot be sold in private markets because individuals have no incentive to pay for them voluntarily. Instead they hope to get a free ride off the decisions of others to make the public goods available.
Mr. Samuelson pushed mathematical analysis to new levels of sophistication. His “correspondence principle” showed that information about the stability or instability of a theoretical economic system — whether, after a disruption, the economy returns to fixed levels of prices and output or, instead, flies out of control — could be used to predict the aggregate outcome of decisions taken by consumers and business firms. He showed, for example, that only a stable economic system would undergo ordinary business cycles like those captured by Mr. Samuelson’s multiplier-accelerator model.
He analyzed the evolution of economies with a mathematical model, called an overlapping generations model, that scholars have since used to study, for example, the functioning over time of the Social Security System and the management of public debt.
He also helped develop linear programming, a mathematical tool used by corporations and central planners to calculate how to produce pre-set levels of various goods and services at the least cost.
Late in his career, Mr. Samuelson laid out the mathematics of stock price movements, an analysis that became the basis for Nobel-prize-winning research by his student Mr. Merton and Myron S. Scholes. They designed formulas that Wall Street analysts use to trade options and other complicated securities known as derivatives.
But beyond his astonishing array of scientific theorems and conclusions, Mr. Samuelson wedded Keynesian thought to conventional economics. He developed what he called the Neoclassical Synthesis. The neoclassical economists in the late 19th century showed how forces of supply and demand generate equilibrium in the market for apples, shoes and all other consumer goods and services. The standard analysis had held that market economies, left to their own devices, gravitated naturally toward full employment.
Economists clung to this theory even in the wake of the Depression of the 1930s. But the need to explain the market collapse, as well as unemployment rates that soared to 25 percent, gave rise to a contrary strain of thought associated with Lord Keynes.
Mr. Samuelson’s resulting “synthesis” amounted to the notion that economists could use the neoclassical apparatus to analyze economies operating near full employment, but switch over to Keynesian analysis when the economy turned sour.
Paul Anthony Samuelson was born on May 15, 1915 in Gary, Ind., the son of Frank Samuelson, a pharmacist, and the former Ella Lipton. His family, he said, was “made up of upwardly mobile Jewish immigrants from Poland who had prospered considerably in World War I, because Gary was a brand new steel town when my family went there.”
But after his father lost much of his money in the years after the war, the family moved to Chicago. Young Paul attended Hyde Park High School, where as a freshman he began studying the stock market. At one point he helped his algebra teacher select stocks to buy in the boom of the 1920s.
“Hupp Motors and other losers,” he remembered in an interview in 1996. “Proof of the fallibility of systems,” he explained.
He left high school at age 16 to enter the University of Chicago. “I was born as an economist on Jan. 2, 1932,” he said. That was the day he heard his first college lecture, on Thomas Malthus, the 18th-century British economist who studied the relation between poverty and population growth. Hooked, he began taking economics courses.
The University of Chicago developed the century’s leading conservative economic theorists, under the later guidance of Milton Friedman. But Mr. Samuelson regarded the teaching at Chicago as “schizophrenic.” This was at the height of the Depression, and courses about the business cycle naturally talked about unemployment, he said. But in economic-theory classes, joblessness was not mentioned.
“The niceties of existence were not a matter of concern,” he recalled, “yet everything around was closed down most of the time. If you lived in a middle-class community in Chicago, children and adults came daily to the door saying, ‘We are starving, how about a potato?’ I speak from poignant memory.”
After receiving his bachelor’s degree from Chicago in 1935, he went to Harvard, where he was attracted to the ideas of the Harvard professor Alvin Hansen, the leading exponent of Keynesian theory in America.
As a student at Chicago and later at Cambridge, Paul Samuelson had at first reacted negatively to Keynes. “What I resisted most was the notion that there could be equilibrium unemployment” — that some level of unemployment would be impossible to eliminate and have to be tolerated. “I spent four summers of my college career on the beach at Lake Michigan,” he explained. “It was pointless to look for work. I didn’t even have to test the market because I had friends who would go to 350 potential employers and not be able to get any job at all.”
Eventually he was converted. “Why do I want to refuse a paradigm that enables me to understand the Roosevelt upturn from 1933 to 1937?” he asked himself.
A Bold Dissertation
Mr. Samuelson was perceived at the outset of his career as a brilliant mathematical economist. He shot to academic fame as a 22-year-old l’enfant terrible at Harvard when he began a boldly sweeping and highly technical doctoral dissertation, published as a book in 1947 by Harvard University Press.
At Harvard, as at Chicago, he was not shy about critiquing his professors — “respecting neither age nor rank,” according to James Tobin, a Nobel laureate of Yale University. The young Mr. Samuelson’s chief complaint against economists was that they preoccupied themselves with finer economic principles while all around them people were being thrown into bread lines.
His attitudes did not endear him to the austere chairman of the economics department at Harvard, Harold Hitchings Burbank, with whom he had a rocky relationship.
But the publication of his dissertation was an immediate success. It won him the John Bates Clark Medal awarded by the American Economic Association to the economist showing the most scholarly promise before the age of 40; it would eventually help him win his Nobel Prize, and it was frequently reprinted despite the heavy resistance of Professor Burbank, selling to economists around the world for more than 20 years. (“Sweet revenge,” Mr. Samuelson said.)
Among Mr. Samuelson’s fellow students was Marion Crawford. They married in 1938. Mr. Samuelson earned his master’s degree from Harvard in 1936 and a Ph.D. in 1941. He wrote his thesis between 1937 and 1940 as a member of the prestigious Harvard Society of Junior Fellows. In 1940, Harvard offered him an instructorship, which he accepted, but a month later M.I.T. invited him to become an assistant professor.
Harvard made no attempt to keep him, even though he had by then developed an international following. Mr. Solow said of the Harvard economics department at the time: “You could be disqualified for a job if you were either smart or Jewish or Keynesian. So what chance did this smart, Jewish, Keynesian have?”
Indeed, American university life before World War II was anti-Semitic in a way that hardly seemed possible later, and Harvard, along with Yale and Princeton, was a flagrant example.
During World War II, Mr. Samuelson worked in M.I.T.’s Radiation Laboratory, developing computers for tracking aircraft, and was a consultant for the War Production Board. After the war, having resumed teaching, he and his wife started a family. When she became pregnant the fourth time, she gave birth to triplets, all boys.
Marion Samuelson died in 1978. Mr. Samuelson is survived by his second wife, Risha Clay Samuelson; six children from his first marriage: Jane Raybould, Margaret Crawford-Samuelson, William and the triplet sons Robert, John and Paul; a brother, Robert Summers, a professor emeritus of economics at the University of Pennsylvania, and 15 grandchildren.
A Keynesian Textbook
The birth of the triplets doubled the number of children in the Samuelson household, which soon found itself sending 350 diapers to the laundry per week. His friends suggested that Mr. Samuelson needed to write a book to earn more money.
He decided on writing an economics textbook, but one that would not only be compelling for students but also sophisticated and complete. And he wanted to center it on the still poorly understood Keynesian revolution. President Herbert Hoover, he noted, had never referred to Keynes other than as “the Marxist Keynes.”
“I never quite understood that venom, Mr. Samuelson said.
He said he “sweated blood” writing his book, employing detailed charts, color graphics and humor. He wrote: “Economists are said to disagree too much but in ways that are too much alike: If eight sleep in the same bed, you can be sure that, like Eskimos, when they turn over, they’ll all turn over together.”
It would be difficult to overestimate the influence of “Economics.” Business Week, taking note of the textbook’s publication in Greek, Punjabi, Hebrew, Russian, Serbo-Croatian and other languages, once said that it had “gone a long way in giving the world a common economic language.” Students were attracted to its lively prose and relevance to their everyday lives. Many textbook authors began to copy its presentation.
“Economics,” together with shrewd investing, made Mr. Samuelson a millionaire many times over.
Friendship and Rivalry With Friedman
A historian could well tell the story of 20th-century public debate over economic policy in America through the jousting between Mr. Samuelson and Milton Friedman, who won the Nobel prize in 1976. Mr. Samuelson said the two had almost always disagreed with each other but had remained friends. They met in 1933 at the University of Chicago, when Mr. Samuelson was an undergraduate and Mr. Friedman a graduate student.
Unlike the liberal Mr. Samuelson, the conservative Mr. Friedman opposed active government participation in most areas of the economy except national defense and law enforcement. He thought private enterprise and competition could do better and that government controls posed risks to individual freedoms.
Both men were fluid speakers as well as writers, and they debated often in public forums, in testimony before congressional committees, in op-ed articles and in columns each of them wrote for Newsweek magazine. But Professor Samuelson said he always had fear in his heart when he prepared for combat with Professor Friedman, a formidably engaging debater.
“If you looked at a transcript afterward, it might seem clear that you had won the debate on points,” he said. “But somehow, with members of the audience, you always seemed to come off as elite, and Milton seemed to have won the day.”
Mr. Samuelson said he had never regarded Keynesianism as a religion, and he criticized some of his liberal colleagues for seeming to do so, earning himself, late in life, the label l’enfant terrible, emeritus. The experience of nations in the second half of the century, he said, had diminished his optimism about the ability of government to perform miracles.
If government gets too big, and too great a portion of the nation’s income passes through it, he said, government becomes inefficient and unresponsive to the human needs “we do-gooders extol,” and thus risks infringing on freedoms.
But, he said, no serious political or economic thinker would reject the fundamental Keynesian idea that a benevolent democratic government must do what it can to avert economic trouble in areas the free markets cannot. Neither government alone nor the markets alone, he said, could serve the public welfare without help from the other.
As nations became locked in global competition, and as the computerization of the workplace created daunting employment problems, he agreed with the economic conservatives in advocating that American corporations must stay lean and efficient and follow the general dictates of the free market.
But he warned that the harshness of the market place had to be tempered and that corporate downsizing and the reduction of government programs “must be done with a heart.”
Despite his celebrated accomplishments, Mr. Samuelson preached and practiced humility. The M.I.T. economics department became famous for collegiality, in no small part because no one else could play prima donna if Mr. Samuelson refused the role, and, of course, he did. Economists, he told his students, as Churchill said of political colleagues, “have much to be humble about.”
“I came here in ’69, and I determined that I would give Nixon a year to see what he could do, because he had inherited the war, so I bit my tongue for a year,” Mr. Obey said, recounting how he reminded the current president of the mistakes of that earlier war. “I said the same thing with Obama.”
In fact, Mr. Obey, a Wisconsin Democrat, did not wait quite a year — Mr. Obama has been in office just 11 months. And his is not an isolated complaint. As the third-most senior member of the House, Mr. Obey gives voice to what Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls the “serious unrest” in her caucus over Mr. Obama’s troop buildup plan for Afghanistan. And as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, which controls how tax money is spent, he is in a position to constrain the president through the power of the purse.
With the president estimating that the buildup will cost $30 billion, Mr. Obey is proposing a “war surtax.” The idea is unlikely to pass, but it is already reminding the nation of the high cost of an increasingly unpopular war. At the White House, officials are bracing for the president’s first real battle with fellow Democrats.
“We have some work to do,” conceded Rob Nabors, a former top aide to Mr. Obey who is now the deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. “Other people talk about forcing the administration to jump through hoops. Mr. Obey is not going to force us to jump through hoops, but he is going to force us to confront some of the most uncomfortable questions having to do with Afghanistan, and he’ll force us to do it in a very public setting.”
The debate could get its first real airing on Capitol Hill this week, when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates appear before members of the appropriations panel to testify on the new Afghanistan strategy and its cost. The hearing will be led by Representative John P. Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat who, like Mr. Obey, supports a war tax.
“Obama is going to have to do a real sales job,” said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist who spent years as a senior aide on Capitol Hill. “You have people who are uncomfortable with the policy, and people who are uncomfortable with how to pay for it. And Obey, as chairman of the committee that holds the purse strings, is uncomfortable with both.”
At 71, Mr. Obey (pronounced OH-bee), who represents the rural northwest corner of Wisconsin, is something of a character on Capitol Hill. With a beard and bifocals, he has the slightly rumpled look of the college professor he once aspired to be. (He was pursuing a graduate degree in Russian studies when he left academia for politics.) When he is animated, as is often the case, he tends to squint and lace his conversation with mild profanity, as in, “I am damn tired of a situation in which only military families are asked to pay any price whatsoever for this war.”
Even his friends call him prickly, and he is prone to scuffles with colleagues. Once, Mr. Obey so irritated Tom DeLay, the former House Republican leader, that Mr. DeLay shoved him. “Pushing me,” Mr. Obey said wryly, “is not the worst thing Tom DeLay ever did for this institution.”
He relaxes by playing the harmonica (he is in a band called the Capitol Offenses); his rendition of “Amazing Grace” at a friend’s funeral “had everybody in tears,” said Gov. James E. Doyle of Wisconsin. His aides are fiercely loyal. “People around him put up with his peculiarities,” said Scott Lilly, who spent nearly 30 years with Mr. Obey, “because they really do like him.”
In Congress, Mr. Obey has spent decades championing federal spending on health, education and social programs, an agenda rooted in his Catholic faith, which, he has said, demands that he try to “make this an equal society for everybody.” A campaign poster of Franklin Roosevelt — “my hero,” he says — looks over his shoulder in his sun-streaked Capitol office, where a window offers testimony to his power: a view of the Washington monument.
“The main thing for Obey is his longstanding commitment to the domestic policies that he cares about, especially when the competition for the money is a war he disagrees with,” said David Canon, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin.
So at a time when Congress “has been lectured ad nauseam” about paying for a health care overhaul without raising the deficit, Mr. Obey says the same standard must be applied to the war. He knows he will have difficulty getting his surtax passed; Ms. Pelosi opposes it. But he will have little trouble getting Democrats to scrutinize the president’s war budget request.
“His questions are very similar to those within our caucus: Do we have credible partners in Afghanistan and Pakistan? What is the mission? What’s the risk?” said Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat and member of the House leadership. She sees the surtax as Mr. Obey’s way of forcing the nation to think about “shared sacrifice,” adding, “He’s a smart, savvy legislator.”
But Mr. Obey is also a loyal Democrat, which puts him in a ticklish position. Before he proposed the surtax, he called Mr. Nabors to give the president a heads-up. That resulted in the president’s call. Mr. Obey used the conversation to ask the president if he had seen a documentary by the public television journalist Bill Moyers featuring archival audiotapes of President Lyndon B. Johnson wrestling with escalating the Vietnam War.
“It is stunning,” he remembers telling Mr. Obama, “to listen to Johnson talk to Dick Russell, the conservative old wise head in the Senate from Georgia — it is terrible, gut-wrenching to listen to them both say, ‘Well, we know this is damn near a fool’s errand, but we don’t have any choice.’ ”
If Mr. Obama objected, he did not say. But in a speech at West Point outlining his Afghanistan strategy, he pointedly rejected the Vietnam analogy, saying it “depends on a false reading of history.”
Mr. Obey came away from the speech unconvinced that Mr. Obama’s strategy could succeed — not because he doubts the president, he said, but because he has little faith in the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan. After 40 years in Congress, a career that has spanned eight presidents, he is not about to quit asking questions now.
“I didn’t come here to be Richard Nixon’s congressman, Reagan’s congressman, Obama’s congressman,” Mr. Obey said. “I’m here representing the Seventh District of Wisconsin.”
Name of source: Telegraph, UK
SOURCE: Telegraph, UK (12-31-69)
Experts claim that the philanthropist St Nicholas of Myra is entombed at the 12th century abbey after his body was moved there 800 years ago.
The saint, revered for his extraordinary generosity, lived during the 4th century and was Bishop of Lycia in what is now Turkey.
Due to his habit for leaving anonymous gifts for the poor, he was declared a saint soon after his death in 346, and inspired the legend of Father Christmas.
The bishop was buried in the cathedral church in Myra, which became a pilgrimage site, but Irish historians claim the early crusaders brought his remains back to Jerpoint Abbey.
Philip Lynch, an historian and chairman of Callan Heritage Society in Co Kilkenny, said: "It is an amazing story and yet very few people in Ireland know about St Nicholas's connection with this country.
“Every year now we get visitors to the site, but still not that many.
"There is a great story about a notorious old miser. He never gave the children any Christmas presents, instead he delighted in bringing them to Jerpoint and showing them Father Christmas's grave."
Born into a wealthy family, his parents died when he was young and Nicholas dedicated his life to serving God.
Inspired by Jesus's teachings to "Sell what you own and give the money to the poor," he spent all his inheritance helping the sick and needy.
One story tells of a poor peasant with three daughters, who could not afford the dowry to ensure they married and were saved from a life of slavery.
As he began to despair, on three separate nights as they came of age, bags of gold appeared in his home, seemingly tossed through a window or down the chimney as they slept, landing in shoes left by the fire.
The story inspired the tradition of children leaving out their stockings to be filled by Father Christmas.
It has previously been held that St Nicholas’s remains were taken to Bari in southern Italy in the 11th century after his grave was looted by Italian sailors.
However, Mr Lynch claims there is evidence to suggest that a French family who settled in Ireland shortly after 1169 were responsible for moving his remains.
He believes that the crusading family, called the de Frainets, exhumed the tomb after they were routed by their enemies, and brought the content to southern Italy, which was then Norman lands.
When they were subsequently forced out of Italy by the Genoese, the remains were entrusted to relatives in Nice, who moved them to family lands in Kilkenny for safe keeping.
Nicholas de Frainet built a dedicated Cistercian Abbey at Jerpoint where St Nicholas’s remains were then interred in 1200.
"St Nicholas Church is still standing and there is a slab on the ground which marks St Nicholas's grave," said Mr Lynch.
Name of source: MyCentralJersey.com
SOURCE: MyCentralJersey.com (12-12-09)
The slide-sized photographs, her grandmother told her, belonged to her late grandfather, Julius Dobrzynski, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II and whose duties included defusing live bombs.
Ciak took the photos home with her that February day, placed them in her hutch, and didn't look at them again until after her grandmother passed away in September.
"The photos were interesting, they were very interesting, but I really didn't know what I
was looking at,'' the 23-year resident of East Brunswick said. "It was time I found out.''
Last month, still puzzled by the photos, Ciak, a 1985 graduate of St. Mary's High School — now Cardinal McCarrick High School — in South Amboy, sought the help of her former history teacher, Frank Yusko, now a teacher at Spotswood High School.
After receiving an e-mail from his former student, Yusko and his colleague, German teacher Dianna Altmiller, met with Ciak and they both determined the photos were of the 1936 Nuremberg rally.
"I was able to explain to Kim that every one of the Nuremberg rallies has a theme, and this rally was themed "The Rally of Honor,''' Altmiller said. "The photos had been taken in 1936, the third year after the rallies had moved to Nuremberg.''
Ciak said each photo is numbered. The number goes up to 100, but 20 photos are missing, she said.
She doesn't know how her grandfather obtained the images. However, according to Yusko, it was common for military members to collect various souvenirs during their travels.
According to Altmiller, the photos were taken by Otto Schonstein, a Nazi sympathizer.
"He was a photographer who was very innovative, one of the people in the forefront of a stereoscopic photography, which was meant to show scenery and is the predecessor of our panoramic view,'' Altmiller said. "He was part of Hitler's unspoken propaganda team.''
Altmiller added the photos were likely part of an "elaborate" hardcover commemorative book that included transcripts of speeches, tickets to rallies and numerous newspaper articles.
"In the front cover, there would be this little door that opened up, and inside the door,
there would be a 3-D viewer,'' she said. ""You would take the viewer out and look at the book. It was a souvenir book similar to what you would pick up at the World's Fair, but this was the deluxe model.''
Ciak said she found the photographs ""surprising.''
"It makes things hit home more, because you're not seeing these photos in a text book,'' she said. ""Now you're seeing actual photos of these people.''
"They were absolutely chilling to look at,'' she said. ""I teach this, I've seen video,
I've read books, and I have been in Germany to study, but when you have seen someone's actual photos, it almost puts you in that place at that time.''
Both Altmiller and Yusko said they have since shared the images with their classes. Altmiller said her classes were "taken back'' when they saw the pictures.
As for the missing images, both instructors told Ciak to keep searching.
"I told her that a museum or a historical society would be very interested in having
these,'' Yusko said. "When she first told me about them, I was expecting them to just be old photographs that perhaps a German family had taken, but when I saw them, I knew immediately that she had something extraordinary. It was a pretty historic find.''