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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: NPR
SOURCE: NPR (12-13-09)
Now the original Orient Express is itself about to become part of history. On Monday, the route will disappear from European railway timetables, a victim of high-speed trains and cut-rate airlines.
Name of source: CNN
SOURCE: CNN (12-12-09)
In an excerpt from a BBC interview to be aired Sunday, Blair said: "I would still have thought it right to remove him. I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments, about the nature of the threat."
Blair, who left office in 2007 and now serves as a special envoy to the Middle East, will be questioned next year at an inquiry into Britain's role in the 2003 conflict.
At the time of the conflict the British government based its decision to go to war on evidence, contained within a dossier it published in September 2002, that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) ready to deploy within 45 minutes.
SOURCE: CNN (11-12-09)
The head archivist of Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) -- the successor to the former Soviet Union's KGB -- confirmed for the first time the chain of events that led to the disposal of Hitler's body, and who ordered the operation, in an exclusive interview with Russia's Interfax news agency.
Gen. Vasily Khristoforov told Interfax in an interview published Monday that previously secret documents show that KGB chief Yuri Andropov, with prior consent from the Soviet Communist Party leadership, ordered a top secret operation to destroy the remains of Hitler, his wife Eva Braun, Nazi Germany's propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels; and Goebbels' entire family.
Khristoforov said according to the documents, Andropov's decision to destroy the remains of the Nazi leaders and their family members was motivated by the fears of the KGB and Soviet Communist Party leadership that Hitler's burial site could become a place of worship for supporters of fascist ideas.
Neither the FSB nor Khristoforov were immediately available to comment on the secret documents, when asked by CNN.
The operation, code-named "The Archives," was carried out by a group of special KGB agents in Magdeburg, East Germany, where the bodies had been secretly buried February 21, 1946, on the territory of a Soviet military facility, Khristoforov said.
Two protocols were compiled after the operation was carried out on April 4, 1970, the general said. The first documented the opening of a grave that contained the remains of the Nazi leaders and their family members, and the other one detailed their physical destruction.
"The remains were burnt on a bonfire outside the town of Shoenebeck, 11 kilometers away from Magdeburg, then ground into ashes, collected and thrown into the Biederitz River," the second document reads, according to Khristoforov.
The bodies of Hitler, Braun and the Goebbels family had been discovered by the Soviet Army in May 1945. The bodies of Goebbels and his wife were found May 2 in the garden of Nazi Germany's Reich Chancellery. The bodies of the couple's children were recovered the next day, and the corpses of Hitler and Braun were discovered May 5 in a crater from an artillery shell outside his bunker in Berlin.
According to historical accounts, Hitler's death was a combination of a suicide by gunshot and cyanide poisoning on April 30, 1945, when the Soviet Army entered the Nazi Germany capital.
In early June of that year, the Soviets buried the bodies in a forest near the town of Rathenau, Germany. Eight months later, they secretly re-buried the remains in the Soviet Army's garrison in Magdeburg.
But in March 1970, the Soviets decided to abandon the garrison and pass it over to the East German civilian authorities.
As long as the burial place of the Nazi leaders was in the territory of a Soviet garrison, it could be kept secret and barred from strangers. But following relocation of the Soviet Army unit, the decision was made not to rebury Hitler's remains but to burn them, Khristoforov explained, calling it "perhaps a reasonable decision" given the circumstances.
Khristoforov said that all that remains of Hitler's corpse are fragments of his jawbone and skull, items that are kept in Russia.
The general said the Russian FSB has no doubts that the bone fragments are genuine. No other fragments of the German dictator exist in other countries, he said.
"Hitler's jaw is kept at the FSB archives, and the fragments of Hitler's skull are at the State Archive. There are no other parts of Hitler's body apart from these samples seized on May 5, 1945.
"Everything [else] that remained of Hitler was burnt in 1970," he added. "Those fragments are ... the only documented evidence of Hitler's death, which is why they are kept at the Russian FSB Central Archive as being particularly valuable."
Commenting on recent media reports that archeologist and bone specialist Nick Bellantoni and genetics professor Linda Strausbaugh of the University of Connecticut expressed doubts about the authenticity of the parts of Hitler's skull, Khristoforov said, "The U.S. researchers did not file such requests [for taking DNA samples] with the Russian FSB Central Archive.
"But even if you take the fragments kept in our custody, it is unclear what these data can be compared with."
In April 2000, a fragment of what was presented as Hitler's skull, complete with a bullet hole in it, was first displayed in Moscow at a World War II exhibition.
At the time, Sergei Mironenko, head of the Russian State Archives, told CNN that he is absolutely confident that the skull was authentic, and that there are many documents the Russian archives also put on display along with the skull to support that.
"Those documents provide convincing proof that all those speculations that Hitler could have survived and escaped, that he could have had plastic surgery, are absolutely groundless. He was a totally depressed man who was incapable of making political or any other kinds of decisions. He understood that his bunker, the crater [where he was found dead], would become his last refuge. And that's exactly what happened," Mironenko said.
Name of source: BBC
SOURCE: BBC (12-11-09)
A first trial ended with accusations the special courts had shown little interest in the victims' testimony.
This conference is a chance for victims to air their concerns to officials before a second case goes to trial.
As many as two million Cambodians died in the late 1970s because of Khmer Rouge policies.
SOURCE: BBC (12-11-09)
Blackwater said it was "never under contract to participate in covert raids with CIA or Special Operations".
It was employed to provide security at bases for CIA staff.
In response to the New York Times article, a spokesman for Blackwater - now called Xe Services - said: "Blackwater USA was never under contract to participate in covert raids with CIA or Special Operations personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else.
"Any allegation to the contrary by any news organisation would be false."
SOURCE: BBC (12-12-09)
Without WMD claims it would have been necessary to "use and deploy different arguments," he told the BBC.
Mr Blair is expected to face the Iraq war inquiry early next year.
In September 2002 the UK government published a dossier which contained the now discredited claim that Iraq could use weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) within 45 minutes of Saddam's order.
SOURCE: BBC (12-9-09)
Papers relating to the Second Matabele War in 1896 say Baden-Powell, then a Colonel in the British Army, ordered the shooting of an African chief.
The chief, Uwini, had been promised his life would be spared if he surrendered.
The papers reached double their expected price at auction in South Cerney, Gloucestershire.
SOURCE: BBC (12-8-09)
Under the deal the interior department will share $1.4bn (£859m) among 300,000 tribe members as compensation.
The tribes claim they have been cheated out of billions of dollars worth of natural resources since 1887.
The agreement ends a case which has been running for 13 years. The secretary of the interior department said it would aid reconciliation.
Name of source: Jewish Telegraph Agency
SOURCE: Jewish Telegraph Agency (12-10-09)
Some 2,200 years after the Maccabees' revolt, historians and archaeologists are uncovering new information about their era.
This year's biggest discovery is a correspondence between Seleukes IV, whose brother and heir was Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Chanukah story, and one of Seleukes' chiefs in Judea found on parts of an ancient stele.
Professor Dov Gera of Ben-Gurion University, who studied the stone's inscription, said it confirms the account by the Jewish historian Josephus regarding the tightening grip of the Greek-Syrian empire over its subjects' religious practices.
"[The text reveals] Seleukes appointed one of the members of his court as an official to oversee worship in the area and equate religious services throughout the empire," Gera said."Such an appointment might have been considered by the Jews to be offensive."
In the book of Maccabees II, Josephus tells the story of a Greek-Syrian official in a similar position who tries to rob the Temple of its gold. The stele is believed to date from 178 BCE, just over a decade before Judah Maccabee rededicated the Temple in Jerusalem....
Name of source: Honolulu Advertiser
SOURCE: Honolulu Advertiser (7-12-09)
About 200 people gathered yesterday at a cracked, potholed, weedy strip of concrete at 'Ewa Field, where part of the opening salvo in that long, brutal fight was fired.
'Ewa Field has a history that time has obscured. When the carrier-launched warplanes of the Japanese Empire roared in to attack Pearl Harbor, they also hit the Marine Corps Air Station in 'Ewa, where several hundred Marines were stationed and nearly 50 aircraft were on the ground at 'Ewa Field. Four Marines and two civilians at nearby 'Ewa Plantation were killed, one of them a 6-year-old girl.
In two strafing waves and other sporadic attacks, Japanese planes destroyed or damaged most of the aircraft on the tarmac. None got into the air. Machine gun and 20mm strafing gouges and burn marks can still be seen on the concrete area where the planes were tied down.
'Ewa Beach historian John Bond, who is spearheading efforts to preserve the battle site, said the attack at 'Ewa Field may have preceded the Pearl Harbor bombing by a few minutes. So it is possible that the first U.S. shots fired at Japanese forces in World War II were at 'Ewa Field.
Those on hand yesterday, mostly veterans, military members and public officials, heard speeches about the sacrifice of American lives to preserve liberty. They paid tribute to the deserted place where they had gathered, the speakers said, sacred ground defined by the loss of American blood, where others had fallen so they could stand for liberty.
During the ceremony, wreaths were laid, a bugler played taps, a color guard marched onto the field, and Marines fired a 21-gun salute to honor the spot called a cornerstone of local and national history.
One of the men who squeezed off a few rounds that Sunday morning was on hand for yesterday's ceremony.
break out the ammo
John Hughes, 90, a retired Marine major from Orange County, Calif., said he was sitting at 'Ewa Field waiting for the morning newspaper when: "I looked up and saw planes with a red ball on the side and a torpedo underneath flying low over the mountains. I knew what that meant, and I ran for the guard shack and told them to start breaking out ammo."
Hughes, who enlisted in the Corps in 1937 at the age of 18, was a sergeant when he was stationed on O'ahu in 1941.
He said he ran to the barracks, roused the troops and passed out belts of ammunition. The men were armed with 1903 Springfield rifles.
"I got off a few rounds, maybe three shots," Hughes said. "Then we would start moving the planes. Some planes were on fire and we moved the other ones away from them so they wouldn't explode. We'd fire a few shots and then move the planes. Then go back to firing shots."
He said the attack lasted for about two hours.
After the Pearl Harbor attack, Hughes trained to be a pilot at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida. At the time, enlisted men could serve as Marine pilots.
He said he flew 150 missions in the Philippines and the Solomon Islands as a dive-bomber pilot in World War II and was a helicopter pilot in the Korean War. The Distinguished Flying Cross is among his decorations. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1964.
Hughes was never wounded. "That wasn't my job," he said grinning. "My job was to do that to the other guys."
Daniel Martinez, chief historian of the USS Arizona Memorial, told the crowd that 'Ewa Field was the birth of Marine aviation in the Pacific "and that is why this place is important."
Some of the forces that helped turn the tide of the Pacific War at the Battle of Midway had been at 'Ewa Field, Martinez said, and it was "the last piece of American territory where they set foot on American soil, before they sailed off into history to give their lives for their nation and become part of our national memory."
Hughes, who stood on that field so long ago with his bolt-action Springfield taking on Zero fighters spewing machine gun fire, will be at today's much larger ceremony at Pearl Harbor.
"He appreciates the ceremony, the ritual," said his daughter Nancy, who made the trip to Hawai'i with her father, "because it keeps history alive."
Name of source: Science Daily
SOURCE: Science Daily (9-12-09)
While the physiological state wasn't properly named until the 1930s, new research from The University of Western Ontario proves stress has plagued humans for hundreds, and perhaps thousands of years.
The first study of its kind, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, detected the stress hormone cortisol in the hair of ancient Peruvians, who lived between 550 and 1532 A.D.
When an individual is stressed -- due to real or perceived threats -- cortisol is released into nearly every part of the body, including blood, saliva, urine and hair.
Emily Webb, a PhD candidate at Western in Archaeological Science and the study's lead author, says the findings are important because it will allow us to better understand how ancient people behaved and felt during their time on Earth but more importantly, to better understand stress and how it affects us today.
"By studying the lives of people using traditional archeological methods like surveying and excavation and combining that with new research techniques like sampling ancient hair specimens, we can get a good picture of what life was like and how our ancestors may have responded to life-changing experiences like illness and disease," explains Webb.
Analysis of cortisol levels in ancient hair allows researchers to assess stress during a short, but critical, period of an individual's life. For this pilot study, the Western researchers selected hair samples from 10 individuals from five different archaeological sites in Peru, and analyzed them in segments to determine cortisol levels.
While many of the individuals studied showed high stress levels right before death, Webb noted that a majority also experienced multiple episodes of stress throughout their final years of their life, again proving that much like today, stress was very much apart of ancient Peruvian's daily lives.
Contributing to the Western research were members of the Faculty of Social Science and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry including Webb, Steven Thomson (Department of Physiology and Pharmacology), Andrew Nelson (Department of Anthropology), Christine White (Department of Anthropology, Canada Research Chair in Bioarchaeology and Isotopic Anthropology), Dr. Gideon Koren (Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology, Medicine, Paediatrics, Ivey Chair in Molecular Toxicology), Dr. Michael Rieder (Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology, Medicine, Pediatrics, Lawson Research Institute, Robarts Research Institute, CIHR-GSK Chair in Paediatric Clinical Pharmacology) and Dr. Stan Van Uum (Department of Medicine and Lawson Research Institute).
SOURCE: Science Daily (12-7-09)
The remains of a Minoan-style wall painting, recognizable by a blue background, the first of its kind to be found in Israel, was discovered in the course of the recent excavation season at Tel Kabri. This fresco joins others of Aegean style that have been uncovered during earlier seasons at the Canaanite palace in Kabri. "It was, without doubt, a conscious decision made by the city's rulers who wished to associate with Mediterranean culture and not adopt Syrian and Mesopotamian styles of art like other cities in Canaan did. The Canaanites were living in the Levant and wanted to feel European," explains Dr. Assaf Yasur-Landau of the University of Haifa, who directed the excavations.
The remains of a Canaanite city from the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1550 B.C.) have been exposed at Tel Kabri, next to Kibbutz Kabri near Nahariya. A palace for the city's rulers stands in the center of the city, which was the most important of the cities in the Western Galilee during that period. Excavations began at Tel Kabri in 1986, conducted by the late Prof. Aharon Kempinski, and were halted in 1993. Over the past years, excavations have been renewed by teams directed by Dr. Yasur-Landau of the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa and Prof. Eric Cline of The George Washington University.
Tel Kabri is unique in that after the city was deserted, no other city was built over its remains. Therefore, this is the only Canaanite city that can be excavated in its entirety. The palace too, which has been measured with geophysical tools at 1 to 1.5 acres, is the only such palace of this period that can be excavated fully. "The city's preservation enables us to get a complete picture of political and social life in the Canaanite period. We can reveal whether or not it had a central government, whether taxes were levied, what sort of agriculture there was and how politics were conducted at the time," Dr. Yasur-Landau explains.
The recent excavation season has enabled researchers to conclude what the rulers' cultural preferences were. While excavations at Tel Hazor in the northern Galilee, the largest Canaanite city of that period, revealed numerous remains of sculpture works of Syrian and Mesopotamian style, no such evidence of this style of artwork were discovered at Tel Kabri. Until now the remains of a fresco in a style that had been common on the island of Santorini (Thera), discovered during previous seasons at the Tel Kabri site, might have been considered a solitary occurrence. However, the remains of additional works reinforce the conjecture that this was a city that not only had trade relations with Mediterranean kingdoms, but also preferred to be culturally associated with them. "Unlike Hazor, which held trading and cultural ties with Syria and Mesopotamia, the rulers of the city at Tel Kabri consciously chose the Mediterranean alternative, relating to Aegean cultures, which doubtlessly seemed more exotic to the local inhabitants," Dr. Yasur-Landau explains.
Additional findings during the past season illuminate other angles of day-to-day life in the Canaanite city. The researchers discovered that the rulers confiscated privately owned lands in order to build both the palace and a ceremonial path encircling the palace. The researchers also began digging a corridor that had been discovered last year and found tens of pottery vessels there, such as storage jars, shallow bowls, cups, and jugs. The corridor, which probably served as a storage area, was blocked off by the ancient inhabitants, and therefore remnants of the substances held in these pottery vessels still remains, as did many animal bones. "We sent the bones and substance remains to be examined, so we should soon be able to know more about the standard diet of that time and in this particular area," Dr. Yasur-Landau added.
Name of source: Scotsman.com
SOURCE: Scotsman.com (11-12-09)
When Yitzhak Ganon, 85, came around from the anaesthetic at the hospital near Tel Aviv, he was informed that he had only one kidney.
"I know," he replied. "The last time I saw the other one it was pulsating in the hand of Josef Mengele. He was a doctor too."
Mr Ganon revealed to his stunned family why he had never visited a doctor since he was freed from Auschwitz death camp in January 1945. None of them knew of his suffering there at the hands of the infamous Mengele.
A Greek Jew, Mr Ganon was deported to Auschwitz in 1944, along with his mother and father and five brothers and sisters.
His father died en route, and his mother and siblings were gassed within hours of arrival. But he was chosen by Mengele, the SS doctor who met every transport that arrived so he could pick human guinea pigs for his experiments.
"He cut into me, without drugs," said Mr Ganon. "The pain was indescribable. I felt every slice of the knife.
"Then I saw my kidney pulsating in his hand. I cried like a madman. I cried out the prayer, 'Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one…'
"And I prayed to die, that I might not suffer this agony any more."
But Mengele, whose quest was eventually to clone perfect supermen for his Führer, had not finished with Mr Ganon.
"After the operation, I was given no painkillers and put to work," he said. "I cleaned up after the other bloody operations carried out by Mengele."
Six months later, Mengele called for him again. He was immersed in a tub of freezing water and intermittently inspected by Mengele, who said he wanted to check on how his lungs were functioning.
"Then I was selected for gassing because my body was no longer any use to them," he said.
Mr Ganon was the 201st man sent to the gas chambers one morning – but it was full after 200. "That saved my life," he said.
TOP NAZIS FEARED A HUMBLE TRIP TO THE DENTIST
HE ORDERED the deaths of millions in the extermination camps, invaded countries and instigated a brutal rule of terror enforced by his Gestapo and the Schutzstaffel (SS).
But if there was one thing Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, pictured, could not face, it was a trip to the dentist.
He once insisted his dentist draw out simple root-canal work over eight days because he "couldn't stand the pain", while he had "terribly bad breath, abscesses and gum disease".
These and other fascinating details about the Führer – and other top Nazis whom dentist Johannes Blaschke counted among his patients – are revealed in a new book out in Germany entitled Dentist of the Devil by Menevse Deprem-Hennen.
Hermann Göring, the Luftwaffe chief who founded the dreaded Gestapo in 1934, was such a coward that Mr Blaschke noted: "He cried before he even got in the chair."
Name of source: BBC News
SOURCE: BBC News (11-12-09)
Many in Albania - which has Europe's fastest-growing economy and aspirations to join the EU - feel the former dictatorship has come a long way fast, reports the BBC's Paul Henley from Tirana.
Lufti Dervishi is old enough to compare living in Albania today with how life used to be.
Whenever he thinks the road towards European integration is not a fast enough one, he stops to remind himself how far his country has come since it threw off what was the continent's strictest communist regime only 19 years ago.
"I can remember the terrible things of the past", he says. "There were times when you could end up in prison just for learning English."
He describes how conversation with a foreigner could be harshly punished and how any mention of "sensitive information", like the fact there were no potatoes in a shop, could result in a long jail sentence.
"And there was awful poverty," he says. "I myself - we were four in the family, four children - can remember the time when my parents could only afford one egg between us for breakfast.
"But when I tell this story to my son who is 12 years old, he just laughs, he cannot understand the reality of the past."
Rule of law
Nowadays, Mr Dervishi is executive director of Transparency International in Albania, working to establish a more democratic, prosperous country whose citizens feel integrated with Europe.
“ There are standards we still want to achieve in order to become a member of the EU family... we don't have the tradition of rule of law ”
Lutfi Dervishi Transparency International in Albania
"We have a new generation now and it has many aspirations," he says. "They expect Google, iphones, ipods and high-definition TV. And the country should look to this generation, not to mine."
Technically, Albania can currently boast Europe's fastest-growing economy.
According to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), which is the biggest institutional investor in Albania, the national economy grew by 7% in 2008 and 6% in the first quarter of 2009, driven largely by investment in public infrastructure and in the telecommunications industry.
It is not recession-proof, but foreign investment is increasing, as is confidence in the banks. And all predictions are for the country to stay in the black.
Albanians have been used to power cuts for years, but things have improved to such an extent that, in the spring of this year, the state-owned power company started exporting electricity to neighbouring Greece.
Hardship and widespread unemployment are far from eradicated, though. And in Transparency International's Corruption Index, Albania ranks a less-than-distinguished 95th out of 180 countries, below Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
"The country does have its problems," says Mr Dervishi. "There are standards we still want to achieve in order to become a member of the EU family. And when I talk about standards, I mean the rule of law.
"We don't have the tradition of rule of law. For five centuries, Albania lived under the Ottoman Empire and for four and a half decades under the communist regime. So in that respect we are still in transition".
The speed of that transition is obvious in the capital, Tirana, a city barely recognisable from even a decade ago. The ever-intensifying love-affair of ordinary citizens with the car is obvious in the noisy and often smog-bound streets.
“ Tirana before was like a woman lying in a bed because of a very serious disease - and now it is like a woman who got up, made herself up and is walking again with pride ”
Edi Rama Mayor of Tirana
But all over town, drab, grey communist-era buildings have been given a multi-coloured make-over, as part of a policy spear-headed by Tirana's mayor, former artist Edi Rama, now in his third elected term.
He defends his clean-up and repainting as being far more than superficial. In the streets that have become patchworks of green, scarlet, yellow and purple, tax collection has become completely successful, he says.
He adds that pride in newly planted public spaces has been restored and with it a civic optimism. And he has many more ambitious design and construction plans.
Mr Rama is cynical about the promising economic statistics and dismisses many as the political calculation of the Albanian government.
He calls national growth "jobless" and says too many people still want to leave their native Albania in search of a better standard of living. More than a third of Albanians are currently in voluntary exile.
Walking with pride
But Mr Rama does not for a moment question popular support for Albania's bid for membership of the EU.
And he points to surveys suggesting more than eight out of 10 residents want his makeover of the capital to continue - more, bizarrely, than confess to actually liking the new look.
"After many years of a totally rigid, collectivistic society, we found ourselves in an atomised, individualistic society," he says.
"So the deal now is to try to reconstruct a sense of belonging to the city and its public spaces, along with a sense of responsibility for them.
"Tirana before was like a woman lying in a bed because of a very serious disease. And now it is like a woman who got up, made herself up and is walking again with pride."
SOURCE: BBC News (10-12-09)
The 2m-long dinosaur, named Tawa hallae , was found in a "bone bed" on the Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, US.
The discovery of this early theropod, reported in the journal Science, sheds light on early dinosaur evolution.
The team says the find also highlights how dinosaurs dispersed across what was then the "supercontinent" Pangaea.
Sterling Nesbitt, a researcher at the University of Texas at Austin in the US, led a team from a number of US research institutes that studied the fossilised dinosaur bones.
The researchers named the 215 million-year-old dinosaur Tawa after the Native American Hopi word for the sun god.
“ When we saw [the specimens], our jaws dropped ”
Sterling Nesbitt University of Texas at Austin
Dr Nesbitt told BBC News that the bone bed was first excavated in 2004, but his team made a larger excavation in 2006, discovering articulated dinosaur skeletons that were between 90% and 95% complete.
These remarkable specimens enabled the researchers to confirm, without doubt, that Tawa was a new type of dinosaur.
"When we saw the [specimens], our jaws dropped," said Dr Nesbitt. "A lot of these theropods have really hollow bones, so when they get preserved, they get really crunched. But these were in almost perfect condition."
" Tawa has an interesting combination of different characteristics," he said. "There's no single huge difference, but in combination, the characteristics show that Tawa is brand new."
The bipedal dinosaur had relatively short forelimbs with sharp claws, and downward curving teeth.
"The teeth have little serrations - like a steak knife - so we're fairly confident that it was a carnivore," said Dr Nesbitt.
" Tawa is a little bit of a relic of the early evolution of dinosaurs," Dr Nesbitt told BBC News. "It's about 215 million years old and our oldest dinosaurs are about 230 million years old."
He explained that it filled a gap in the fossil record, demonstrating that dinosaurs split into their three major groups - theropods, sauropodomorphs and ornithischians - very early in their evolution.
"These three groups then persisted until at least 65 million years ago," said Dr Nesbitt.
The finding provides strong evidence for an existing hypothesis that dinosaurs originated in what is now South America, and very soon diverged into three major lines.
The theropods were bipedal dinosaurs, and were mainly carnivores. The line included the iconic Tyrannosaurus rex and velociraptor .
Sauropodomorphs included ground-shaking giants like Apatasaurus , and ornithischians included a range of dinosaurs, such as Stegosaurus and Triceratops .
Dr Nesbitt and his team found other theropods in the same bone bed as Tawa . These simultaneous discoveries allowed them to reconstruct a picture of how the early dinosaurs dispersed throughout the world.
"The closest relatives of the other theropods [we found] were dinosaurs that are found in South America.
"So Tawa shows us that dinosaurs moved between South and North America," he said.
This was at the time of the supercontinent Pangaea, when "you could walk from the North to the South Pole," Dr Nesbitt told the Science podcast.
David Martill, a palaeontologist from the University of Portsmouth in the UK, who was not involved in this study, said this was a "very exciting discovery".
"This... rewrites the evolutionary tree for meat-eating dinosaurs," Dr Martill told BBC News.
"This beast shows how important it is to keep going in to the field looking for fossils.
"Just one lucky discovery can make such a difference to the way we perceive the evolution of dinosaurs, and any other creature for that matter."
SOURCE: BBC News (11-12-09)
Mr Papadopoulos' body was removed after his grave in Nicosia was broken into overnight, officials said.
Mr Papadopoulos died of lung cancer in Nicosia in 2008, aged 74.
The theft from the Deftera village cemetery in Nicosia was discovered a day before the first anniversary of his death.
The desecration was discovered by one of Mr Papadopoulos's former guards who lights a candle in the cemetery every morning, the official Cyprus News Agency reports.
Eloquence and anger
The theft has been widely condemned. Marios Garoyan, leader of the former president's centre-right Diko party, condemned the act as a "heinous and terrible crime", AFP reported.
Andros Kyprianou, the head of Cyprus' ruling Akel party, described it as "macabre and utterly condemnable".
"I am honestly still trying to comprehend what kind of warped minds could even think of doing such a thing, let alone actually carry it out," he said.
Kypros Chrysostomides, who served as justice minister under Papadopoulos, said "such barbarous acts only do damage to Cyprus".
The motive for the theft remains unclear, investigators say. But it is bound to stir up passions over a UN-led peace effort aimed at reuniting the Turkish and Greek parts of the island, says the BBC's Malcolm Brabant in Athens.
Mr Papadopoulos was vehemently opposed to the peace plan, and his eloquence and anger convinced a resounding majority of Greek Cypriots to vote against it in a referendum, while Turkish Cypriots voted overwhelmingly in favour.
A veteran of Greek Cypriot politics, he became president in 2003 but lost a bid for a second term in 2008. He was defeated by Demetris Christofias, a former coalition partner.
One of the former president's achievements was to oversee the Republic of Cyprus's entry into the European Union in 2004.
SOURCE: BBC News (9-12-09)
The flood occurred when Atlantic waters found their way into the cut-off and desiccated Mediterranean basin.
The researchers say that a 200km channel across the Gibraltar strait was carved out by the floodwaters.
Their findings, published in Nature, show that the resulting flood could have filled the basin within two years.
The team was led by Daniel Garcia-Castellanos from the Research Council of Spain (CSIC).
He explained that he and his colleagues laid the foundations for this study by working on tectonic lakes.
“ This... may have involved peak rates of sea level rise in the Mediterranean of more than 10m per day ”
Daniel Garcia-Castellanos Research Council of Spain
They developed a model of how the mountain lakes quickly "cease to exist" when erosion produces "outlet rivers" that drain them.
This same principle, Dr Garcia-Castellanos said, could be used to explain the Zanclean flood that reconnected the Mediterranean with the rest of the World's oceans.
"We could for the first time link the amount of water crossing the channel with the amount of erosion causing it to grow over time," he told BBC News.
Using existing borehole and seismic data, his team showed how the flood would have begun with water spilling over a sill.
The water would have gradually eroded a channel into the strait, eventually triggering a catastrophic flood, Dr Garcia-Castellanos explained.
He and his colleagues created a computer model to estimate the duration of the flood, and found that, when the "incision channel" reached a critical depth, the water flow sped up.
In a period ranging from a few months to two years, the scientists say that 90% of the water was transferred into the basin.
"This extremely abrupt flood may have involved peak rates of sea level rise in the Mediterranean of more than 10m per day," he and his colleagues wrote in the Nature paper.
Previous estimates of the duration of the flood were very variable, said Dr Garcia-Castellanos, because scientists "had to assume the size of the channel" rather than measure it.
Some estimates suggested that the flood continued for as long as 10,000 years.
Rob Govers, a geoscientist from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, who was not involved in this study, said that the findings were important.
"I think the authors have been very creative using existing data and making sense of it in a completely new way," he said.
Dr Govers said the next important step would be to measure the volume of breccia, or ancient eroded material, in the strait, to confirm whether there was enough material there to have filled the flood channel.
SOURCE: BBC News (10-12-09)
St George's Distillery, a family-run Norfolk company, is behind the drink.
Managing Director James Nelstrop said production of the whisky, which is being sold for £35 a bottle, was the culmination of a "45-year-old dream".
The distillery was built in Roudham, south Norfolk, in 2006, and now, after three years maturing its first batch, it has produced whisky.
Mr Nelstrop, who is a farmer, explained that he had fulfilled an ambition handed down to him from a previous generation.
"My father was a barley farmer who always said it should be something we should do," he said.
"Barley has historically been sent from here to Scotland to make whisky, this was a 45-year-old dream and we've done it."
The single malt is not chill-filtered or coloured, so is paler in colour than other forms of whisky.
Some 2,000 decanter-style bottles have already been ordered by collectors.
The image of St George slaying a dragon on the label highlights the drink's English credentials.
And Mr Nelstrop believes the drink's English heritage provides an alternative to Scotch whisky.
He told the BBC's Mike Cartwright: "There is fabulous Scotch out there and there is also some that is very average.
"I'm afraid there are people who think if it is not made in Scotland then it is not worth buying or drinking and that is absolute rot.
"This year we expect to sell in the region of 2,500 bottles, next year around 45,000.
"All the evidence is that we will beat our targets this year and next on the basis we're already sending material to Canada, Japan, France and Germany."
In order for their £3.5m investment to be a success, the company will need to sell around 100,000 bottles a year.
'World whisky family'
The Scotch Whisky Association confirmed it was the first time English whisky had been produced for a century.
It said there were distilleries in London, Liverpool and Bristol in the late 19th Century.
A Scotch Whisky Association spokesman said: "It is testament to the global success of Scotch that other countries are also looking to make whisky and we welcome our Norfolk friends to the world whisky family.
"With record investment in Scotch Whisky at the moment, there is real optimism across the sector about growing opportunities. New distilleries are being opened, old distilleries expanded, and silent stills brought back into production."
Despite the breakthrough, England still has a long way to go before catching up with Scotland.
The spokesman said there are 109 distilleries in Scotland, one in Northern Ireland and one in Wales.
Five new distilleries have opened in Scotland since 2005 and another seven are currently planned.
SOURCE: BBC News (9-12-09)
The drawing by Raphael, Head of a Muse, sold for £29.2m, a world record price for any work on paper to go under the hammer, Christie's said.
It was also a world record price for the artist.
The Rembrandt painting, entitled Portrait of a Man, Half-Length, With His Arms Akimbo, fetched £20.2m, a record price for the artist at auction.
Christie's Old Masters and 19th-century art sale on Tuesday night fetched a total of £68,380,250 from 28 lots sold.
The auction house said it was the highest total for an auction of Old Masters.
'Glimpse into genius'
Raphael's Head of a Muse was drawn as a study for a figure in Parnassus, one of the series of four frescoes in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican which was commissioned by Pope Julius II and which was executed between 1508 and 1511.
The drawing, which was offered at public auction for the first time in more than 150 years, had been expected to sell for £12m to £16m.
It was bought by an anonymous client on the telephone.
The previous record price for a work on paper was Danseuse au repos, a pastel by Edgar Degas, which sold in New York in November last year for US dollars 37,042,500.
Benjamin Peronnet, from Christie's, said: "Raphael is universally recognised as one of the greatest artists in history, and we are extremely excited to have sold a beautiful drawing by his hand which played a major part in the execution of one of the masterpieces of European art.
"This truly exceptional drawing offers us a glimpse into the working mind of a genius.
"The drawing is not only a work of genius in its own right but is also related to one of the artist's great frescoes in the Vatican and has come down to us in remarkable condition."
Rembrandt's painting went under the hammer for the first time since 1930, when it sold for £18,500 - a noteworthy sum at the time.
Before the pre-sale exhibition the late portrait had not been publicly displayed for 40 years.
It was also bought by an anonymous client bidding by telephone.
The previous world record price for a work by Rembrandt sold at auction was £19.8m.
Portrait of a Lady Aged 62 was sold at Christie's in London in December 2000.
Portrait of a Man, Half-length, With His Arms Akimbo, was painted in 1658 during one of Rembrandt's most artistically inventive periods.
It depicts an unknown sitter facing the artist with a defiant pose and hands on hips.
Name of source: Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH)
SOURCE: Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH) (12-9-09)
The watchdog group, OMB Watch has prepared an in-depth summary of the new initiative which is presented here with their permission.
The content of the directive reflects many of the transparency recommendations collaboratively developed by the right-to-know community during a two-year process coordinated by OMB Watch. Those 70 detailed recommendations were delivered to the Obama transition team in a report called Moving Toward a 21st Century Right-to-Know Agenda. Among those recommendations were requests for creating incentives for openness, interagency coordination, and publication of high-priority data that is currently unavailable – all of which are addressed in the new directive.
The directive has been in development since the first day of the Obama administration, when the president issued a memo tasking OMB and other key officials to develop the directive. The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) oversaw a three-phase online dialogue to publicly generate, discuss, and develop policy ideas for the directive. The three phases attracted a great deal of public participation.
The directive continues to emphasize the three principles outlined by President Obama in his original memo – transparency, participation, and collaboration. The directive is comprised of four main components centered on very simple but important themes – publishing information; creating a culture of openness; improving data quality; and updating policies to allow for greater openness. Each section tasks agencies and other key offices with specific goals, complete with deadlines and clear requirements that the public be informed and permitted to participate in almost every project.
1. Publish Government Information Online
The section on publishing government data online reinforces and broadens the presumption of openness discussed in Attorney General Eric Holder’s new guidance on implementing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Agencies are instructed to “proactively” make information available instead of waiting for specific requests under FOIA. “With respect to information, the presumption shall be in favor of openness (to the extent permitted by law and subject to valid privacy, confidentiality, security, or other restrictions),” according to the directive. The section also breaks new ground by instructing agencies, to the extent practicable, to publish information in open formats that can be “retrieved, downloaded, indexed, and searched by commonly used web search applications.”
The section also sets clear deadlines for agencies, including publishing three previously unreleased, “high-value datasets” on Data.gov in 45 days and establishing an Open Government webpage on each agency website within 60 days. The Open Government webpages are to serve as the primary vehicle for each agency to communicate with and get input from the public on open government issues on an ongoing basis.
2. Improve the Quality of Government Information
This section stresses the need to identify and correct data quality problems, with an emphasis on immediate action on the quality of federal spending data. The section specifically requires agencies to designate within 45 days a “high-level senior official” to be accountable for the quality of federal spending data for the agency. Within 60 days, OMB is to issue guidance on quality of federal spending data that includes a requirement for agencies to submit plans describing internal controls for data quality. At some point, the need for additional data quality guidance for other types of information will be reviewed. Finally, within 120 days, OMB is to issue guidance related to fiscal transparency, including a “longer-term comprehensive strategy” that addresses reporting methods and data quality.
3. Create and Institutionalize a Culture of Open Government
This section establishes the key deliverables to encourage genuine and consistent progress on open government issues. First, the agencies must produce a detailed Open Government Plan within 120 days that will be used to measure progress. These plans are to be updated every two years. The directive provides details on what is to go into each agency’s plan with regard to transparency, participation, and collaboration. Additionally, the agency plans are to identify at least one new “flagship initiative” that addresses transparency, participation, or collaboration. The agencies must also establish a process for soliciting public and employee feedback on the plan and respond to that feedback.
Second, the Federal Chief Information Officer and Chief Technology Officer will create an Open Government Dashboard on the White House website within 60 days that will provide access to the agency plans and track key metrics of openness for each agency. Although not specifically mentioned, it is possible that one example could be a FOIA Dashboard that monitors agency implementation of the law.
Third, an inter-agency working group on open government issues will be established within 45 days to provide a forum for sharing best practices and coordinating interagency efforts.
Fourth, within 90 days, OMB will issue guidance on the use of competitions, prizes, and other incentive strategies for encouraging progress on open government.
4. Create an Enabling Policy Framework for Open Government
This section acknowledges that current policies governing information management are largely antiquated and in need of updating. The section requires that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) review existing policies “such as Paperwork Reduction Act guidance and privacy guidance” to identify problems and issue revisions to allow openness to move forward. This policy review may prove critically important in addressing gaps on policies, such as those regarding disclosure of agency logs on meetings with people outside of government.
Name of source: Chronicle of Higher Education
SOURCE: Chronicle of Higher Education (12-6-09)
It was during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and Mr. Livingston, a professor of philosophy at Emory University and raised in South Carolina, decided there should be more thoughtful discourse on the topic of secession.
A political philosopher who specializes in David Hume, he searched philosophy papers published since 1940 and turned up only seven on the matter of secession from federal unions: five reviews of a book and two articles about Quebec. Thinking he had the market to himself, he held a conference on secession at the 1991 meeting of the American Philosophical Association.
He was right about his share of the market. Nobody came.
Today Mr. Livingston is drawing slightly larger crowds. In 2003 he started the Abbeville Institute, named after the South Carolina birthplace of John C. Calhoun, seventh vice president of the United States and a forceful advocate of slavery and states' rights. The institute now has 64 associated scholars from various colleges and disciplines. They gather to discuss topics about the South that they feel are misrepresented in today's classrooms. Feeling a chilly reception to its ideas—officials of the Southern Poverty Law Center say its work borders on white supremacy—the group has kept a low profile. Mr. Livingston's own department chair, as well as a number of Emory history professors, say they have never heard of it...
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (6-12-09)
Ninety-one years after Von Richthofen died after being shot down near the River Somme in France Maciej Kowalczyk, a genealogist, found the document in archives belonging to the western Polish town of Ostrow Wielkopolski.
Mr Kowalczyk explained that the town, which in 1918 was part of Germany, issued the death notice in accordance to German law.
"Imperial regulations from 1879, relating to military personnel, who had left their permanent residence on mobilisation and were later killed, dictated that their death was registered at their last residence before heading to the front," he told the PAP news agency.
In 1914 Von Richthofen, then a cavalry officer with the 1st Lancers, was stationed in Ostrow Wielkopolski and gave it as his last official address before going to serve on the eastern front.
After transferring to imperial Germany's air force, Von Richthofen went on to become the Great War's most successful fighter pilot with 80 kills to his name, and winning the respect of both friends and foe alike.
Shot down behind British lines in April 1918 by either aircraft of the Royal Air Force or ground fire from Australian troops he was given was given a military funeral with full honours.
The discovery of the death certificate in Poland will strengthen the unusual but growing ties between the country and the German war hero.
Swidnica, the site of the Von Richthofen family seat, boasts memorials to the fighter ace, and local officials now tout the town's Red Baron connection as reason to visit, and even a local sports club has adopted his name.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-12-09)
A report by an American charity documents 380 politically motivated rapes committed by 241 individuals across all of Zimbabwe's 10 provinces.
Aids-Free World, which is led by the former United Nations envoy on Aids, Stephen Lewis, said that those behind the attacks on supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change had even set up central facilities where several women could be gang-raped simultaneously.
Campaigners painted a harrowing picture based on interviews with 72 survivors and witnesses. The perpetrators allegedly included members of the Zanu-PF youth militia, and so-called "war veterans" loyal to Mr Mugabe.
In some cases women were held at Zanu-PF supporters' bases and were violated in the same room as others, the report said.
"The room was large, with many other women MDC members and Zanu-PF men inside," a woman from Harare told campaigners. "All three of them were rough when they raped me. Around the room there were other men raping other girls. All the men in that room were either raping or waiting to rape women."
At least nine of the women interviewed believe they were infected with HIV when they were raped. A 23-year-old in Masvingo said her attackers told her: "You say [MDC leader Morgan] Tsvangirai is good. We want you to know that Tsvangirai is not good. We want to give you diseases and see if Tsvangirai will take care of your children."
In other cases family members, even young girls, were also targeted. A woman from the capital said: "When the tenth man finished raping me they said they were going to rape my daughter. I cried out but I could not even stand up at this time.
"After they finished with me, they raped my daughter when I was there and I couldn't do anything to stop them. My daughter was five years old."
Mr Mugabe and Zanu-PF have consistently denied responsibility for the violence that took place in Zimbabwe last year. They now share power with the MDC.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-12-09)
The pocket-sized book of psalms dates from the 11th century and has been described as Scotland's version of the celebrated Book of Kells in Dublin.
It contains hand-written psalms in Latin, with Celtic and Pictish illustrations of dragons and other “beasts” and has previously only been available to scholars.
It is thought to have been produced at the monastery on the island of Iona and although the original binding has been lost, the script is clear and the text can still be read today.
The psalter will go on display in the main library at the University of Edinburgh for the next three months, with other items including an edition of Romeo and Juliet that was published during Shakespeare's lifetime.
Jospeh Marshall, the university's rare book librarian, said people had been reluctant to show the book in the past, but its special display case allowed it to have its "first public outing in 1,000 years".
He added: "It is a riot of colour. You would think someone had gone over it with a felt-tip pen."
It is thought to have been commissioned for a figure of great importance, possibly St Margaret, Queen of Scotland.
It will part of a new display in the library's refurbished exhibition room.
Name of source: Times (UK)
SOURCE: Times (UK) (12-8-09)
Adam Holloway, a former army officer and Conservative MP for Gravesham, told The Times last night that he had been given information that the taxi driver’s recollections of the conversation in the back of his taxi had helped to form part of the dossier. The controversial dossier was published in September 2002 and supported the Government’s case for invading Iraq the following March.
When the information was acquired by MI6, a footnote was written on the page of an intelligence report sent to No 10 stating that the claim was “verifiably inaccurate”. “But the footnote was ignored by Downing Street,” Mr Holloway claimed.
SOURCE: Times (UK) (12-8-09)
The tunnels, reminiscent of the lair of a James Bond villain, are reported to contain railway lines, a water supply and even vegetation. According to Hwang Jang Yop, formerly North Korea’s chief political philosopher, they connect areas as far as 30 miles (50km) away from Pyongyang, enabling the country’s leaders to escape the capital and ultimately sail to China via a West coast port.
“There were fresh water and grass growing within an underground tunnel that linked Pyongyang to a nearby mountain,” Mr Hwang told Radio Free Asia, a station supported by the US Government, which broadcasts into North Korea for three hours a day. “In particular, an ultra-deep underground tunnel was built to connect one of Kim’s residences in Pyongyang to [the then port city of] Nampo.”
Mr Hwang said that the tunnels also connect to Yeongwon, the site of a mountain villa, where Kim Il Sung, Mr Kim’s father and North Korea’s founding president, died of a heart attack in 1994. They also travel to Suncheon, north of Pyongyang, which is reported to be the site of a uranium mine.
Name of source: Yahoo News
SOURCE: Yahoo News (12-7-09)
President Truman called it "the little White House" – and it was here, while he was in Berlin for the Potsdam Conference, that word arrived of the first atom bomb test in New Mexico July 14. With strong urging from Winston Churchill, the Americans sent a letter to Japan, asking for surrender, or a "terrible destruction." The reply: mokusatsu – roughly, forget it.
Thus a new history began, a cold-war era stamped with a mushroom cloud.
During the cold war, Truman's villa was a propaganda tool for Soviet East Germany – labeled "nightmare house" for the American imperialists' decision to drop the atomic bomb. The Berlin Wall ran through its back garden, adding symbolic punch. Yet when the wall fell, the East German view of the home and its meaning did not.
The Potsdam city government, former communists, tried to make it a Hiroshima memorial. American expats and diplomats lobbied against a depiction of Truman, who initiated the Marshall plan and rebuilt Europe, as someone whose central legacy is destroying two Japanese cities and their inhabitants.
The place was sold to a think tank for the Free Democrats, the liberal party now in a ruling coalition with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The dispute seemed to fade. ...
Name of source: Jaunted
SOURCE: Jaunted (12-8-09)
Thanks to the buzz from the Mayan calendar prophecies, local tour operators and hotels are upgrading their services. El Camino Real, a luxury hotel near the Tikal ruins, is now pushing Mayan cultural tours to the forefront and beginning to offer cultural nights with Mayan elders telling stories of the doomsday prophecy.
Mayan recipes are being resurrected and brought back onto the restaurant menu.
“I come from the restaurant side,” said Xavier Cid, the new hotel manager. “So I am completely redoing the menu, going out to the community meeting the older women and asking them what ingredients they use, what traditional dishes we can include in our menus.”
Cid, who worked in Guatemala City previously, says he will never go back to city living. “Where else can I be woken up by the ‘toc...toc..toc’ of a toucan pecking at my window.”
Tikal is not, however, an easy place to visit. First a flight to Guatemala City (you can stay overnight at The Radisson) then another flight north to the town of Flores, then a drive out to the ruins. Most travelers stay just two nights – a big mistake.
Four nights is a far more reasonable visit, especially if you are culturally inclined, have read a few books and care to pause and take pulse of what is a romantic and mysterious destination. Even in current day Guatemala a total of 22 languages are still spoken. For the tourist they all add up to a single voice – adventure and diversity. Security in Guatemala is an issue, so driving back country roads at night is ill advised.
Yet Tikal lives up to its mysterious reputation. Thanks to an extensive written history, archeologists have pieced together intriguing facts about this ancient culture. As lakes nearby dried up or were drained, the Mayans built a massive system of slanted terraces which collected rain water and delivered it to a series of cisterns.
Archeologist Richard Hansen, from the US, has spent decades researching and excavating ruins in and around Tikal theorizes that the Mayan culture collapsed because they over exploited the local forests. To make pyramids the Mayans used massive amounts of firewood to make the stucco.
Hansen sees the Mayan collapse as a classic example of overpopulation and unsustainable growth. From a peak of 70,000-150,000 in 800 AD, the Mayan civilization at Tikal collapsed and by 1000 AD the city was abandoned. Doomsday Tourism can't bring Mayan civilization back but we can still learn about, while there's still some time left. maybe this could change?
Name of source: Air Education and Training Command
SOURCE: Air Education and Training Command (12-4-09)
But the day the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked U.S. naval ports and Army Air Corps bases on Hawaii, it also brought the realization that America was not prepared for war. The 82nd Training Wing's historian said that day was a revelation for the military, as well as the American public.
"We used to just build up our military when we saw a need for one, and then let the numbers die down afterward," Historian Todd Schroeder said. "We needed to be vigilant and prepared. This day showed us the importance of constant readiness."
More than 1,280 people were wounded and more than 4,200 lives were lost that day.
"Pearl Harbor Day is a day to remember the victims that perished in the attack and also to reflect on the lessons learned from it," Mr. Schroeder said.
In addition to the incredible loss of life and those injured, the attack on Pearl Harbor also affected the U.S. Armed Forces in several ways. The Pacific Fleet was severely crippled and more than 180 aircraft were damaged or destroyed.
Mr. Schroeder said Pearl Harbor Day contributed to the realization that a nation should always have a standing military.
Bill English, a World War II veteran and P-51 Mustang pilot in the Pacific Theater, said after the attacks on Pearl Harbor the choices were to join the military or be drafted.
"When Pearl Harbor hit, it was indicated the Armed Forces needed people badly," he said. "So rather than being drafted, I chose to voluntarily join the (Army Air Corps) Reserves. That way I could at least choose my branch of service and the job of my preference -- flying."
Although Sheppard Field was established prior to World War II, the effects of the country's involvement were felt as the U.S. began building up its military might.
Sheppard was created in 1941 as an Air Corps technical training center with the objective to merely train individuals as needed. However, the attacks on Pearl Harbor increased the need for trained service members.
According to "A Brief History of Sheppard and the 82nd Training Wing" on the base Web site, by April 1942, training officials had to start a class every six days to meet training requirements. By October, the school had to implement a 24-hour training day of three continuous shifts to accommodate the more than 7,700 aviation mechanics that Sheppard trained during World War II.
Mr. Schroeder said the events of Pearl Harbor also changed opinions about the military.
"Sometimes people don't appreciate military men and women. What those people fail to realize is that people in the military don't want to fight any more than others do. However, they are willing to put their lives on the line so that America's always ready for situations like Pearl Harbor," he said.
Mr. Schroeder said that Sheppard currently produces proud Warriors (Airmen) and other service members, preparing them to go out there and prevent incidents like Pearl Harbor from happening in the future and has been doing so since May 1941.
"I feel good about my part in service to country back then," Mr. English said. "I was able to help it in finishing the war. I'm proud I was able to serve my country honorably."
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (12-10-09)
The RIA Novosti and ITAR-Tass news said the Moscow City Court on Thursday rejected Yevgeny Dzhugashvili's appeal of October's ruling by a district court.
Its verdict rejected Yevgeny Dzhugashvili's claim that Novaya Gazeta damaged Stalin's honor and dignity in an article that referred to him as a "bloodthirsty cannibal."
SOURCE: AP (9-12-09)
Making his way through the Berghof, Hitler's home near Berchtesgaden, Germany, Pistone noticed a table with shelves underneath. Exhilarated by the certainty of victory over the Nazis, Pistone took an album filled with photographs of paintings as a souvenir.
"It was really a great feeling to be there and we knew, by that time, he was on his last leg," Pistone told The Associated Press.
Sixty-four years after Pistone brought the album home to Ohio, the 87-year-old has learned its full significance: It's part of a series compiled for Hitler featuring art he wanted for his "Fuhrermuseum," a planned museum in Linz, Austria.
Pistone's album is expected to be formally returned to Germany in a ceremony at the U.S. State Department in January. Germany has 19 other albums discovered at the Berchtesgaden complex that are part of a 31-album collection of works either destined for or being considered for the Linz museum.
Pistone's 3-inch thick, 12-pound album's journey from obscurity began this fall when a friend became curious about the book sitting on Pistone's bookshelf.
The friend discovered after some Internet searching that the Dallas-based Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art was involved in 2007 in the restitution of two other albums that were part of a series documenting art stolen by the Nazis from Jewish families.
Its founder, Robert Edsel, who while living in Italy for a time after selling his oil and gas business became interested in what was done to protect art in World War II, traveled to Ohio this fall to examine Pistone's album. Seeing it convinced him that Pistone had one of the missing albums of the series on the planned museum.
Stamped on the album's spine is "Gemaldegalerie Linz" — Gemaldegalerie means picture gallery in German — and the Roman numerals for 13. It still has a sticker from the book's binder in Dresden.
Birgit Schwarz, a German art historian from Vienna who has written books about Hitler and art, including a book called "Hitler's Museum" describing the series album, is convinced the album is authentic. She said she recognized paintings in the album along with the volume number and title.
"It's absolutely clear!" she wrote in an enthusiastic e-mail to the AP after reviewing scanned photographs of the album. "Hans Makart's 'Pest in Florenz' (Plague in Florence), for example, the first picture of album XIII, Hitler got as a gift from Mussolini!"
Souvenir hunting was routine by soldiers during the war, and problems arise when people try to sell rather than return culturally important items, said Thomas R. Kline, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer who specializes in art restitution and works for the foundation.
"It's really important that as people go through their attics and they find the things that grandpa brought home, people are aware that something as simple as a book of pictures could have a cultural significance," Kline said.
Ambassador J. Christian Kennedy, special envoy for holocaust issues at the State Department, said the agency is happy to help return of objects taken during the war. "This is all about doing the right thing," Kennedy said.
Edsel started his foundation in 2007 to honor and continue the work of the original Monuments Men, the roughly 345 men and women from 13 nations who helped Allied forces protect cultural treasures during World War II. After the war, they began trying to find the rightful owners of pieces of art looted by the Nazis, hundreds of thousands of which are still missing.
"It's my desire to see the works of the Monuments Men completed," said Edsel, who wrote two books detailing the group's work.
The discovery of albums could help. In Pistone's case, experts had the names of artwork featured in his album but the photographs could help match them to the correct piece of art, Edsel said.
"They are key documents from the crime scene," he said of the albums.
He said the art Hitler wanted for his museum was bought, stolen or confiscated. The 13th album contains works by some of Hitler's favorite German painters, including a photo of Adolf von Menzel's painting of Frederick the Great that hung in Hitler's office in Munich.
Edsel said his office gets about a call a day from someone curious about an item brought home after the war.
"We're looking for people with goodwill who don't know what they have," Edsel said.
Pistone, album in hand, returned home after surviving the battlefields in Europe. He finished college, got into the restaurant business and had five children. The album mostly stayed up on a shelf at his home in Beachwood, Ohio, but he'd occasionally take it down and let family members look through it.
Once he met Edsel and learned about the Monuments Men, he knew it should be returned to Germany. "I just wanted to get it in the right hands," he said.
Before the book makes the trip overseas, it and one of two other albums the foundation helped discover will go on display for about three months at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans following the State Department ceremony, Edsel said.
Edsel said that of the two albums from 2007, one has already been donated to the U.S. National Archives to join the other albums in that series used as evidence of Nazi looting in the Nuremberg trials. He said that the second will go to the National Archives in the next three years.
"When soldiers and their families realize what they have and come forward to return it, there's never an issue. It's a happy moment and there's celebrations of one kind of another," Kline said. "We owe a huge debt to this generation that saved the world from Naziism."
Name of source: The Denver Channel
SOURCE: The Denver Channel (12-9-09)
This is the second year gold coins have been dropped throughout the city. Each of the three coins is valued between $1,200 and $1,700.
The first coin, a rare 1902 $20 Liberty gold coin, was dropped in a Salvation Army kettle at the Stapleton Sam’s Club on Dec. 3. On Monday, another gold coin was dropped in the kettle outside the Pavilions Corner Bakery on the 16th Street Mall, apparently by the same donor. That coin was a 1904 $20 Liberty Gold Piece. Then, on Tuesday, a 1979 South African Krugerrand was dropped in the same red kettle on the 16th Street Mall, in front of the Corner Bakery.
The two U.S. gold coins were wrapped in an identical plastic covering. But the second coin discovered on Monday included a note with a list of gold coins dropped each year. The list included the coin dropped on Dec. 3.
Name of source: Ottawa Citizen
SOURCE: Ottawa Citizen (7-12-09)
Gilbert Whiteduck, chief of the Kitigan Zibi Anishniabeg in Maniwaki, 130 kilometres north of Ottawa, said the National Capital Commission should have consulted Quebec Algonquins about the dig in Ottawa that uncovered aboriginal artifacts dating from 300 BC to 700 BC.
Whiteduck said the Algonquins from Golden Lake — 140 kilometres northwest of Ottawa — can't demand the artifacts for themselves because the material belongs to all Algonquins. Robert Potts, a lawyer representing the Golden Lake Algonquins in one of Canada's largest land claims, said the band wants the artifacts back.
The aboriginal camp included stone tools, animal bones and decorated pottery shards.
Jacqueline Fisher, an archeologist responsible for the dig, said what happens to the artifacts is up to the city.
Name of source: Yahoo
SOURCE: Yahoo (12-7-09)
Brian Balogh, a history professor at the University of Virginia, pointed out that 9/11 demonstrated the power of non-state actors and has kept us talking about “homeland security,” a term not widely used before the attacks. Hoffman said 9/11 revealed that the U.S. didn’t have a post-Cold War strategic vision.
But before the attacks, there was the unforgettable presidential election of 2000, a close race followed by a recount and momentous Supreme Court decision. And while the full historical significance of these major events and their aftermaths may largely remain to be seen, both reflect a growing trend in the century’s first decade: heightened political partisanship.
As a result of 9/11, the political polarization was amplified, said Julian Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton University and author of “Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security — From World War II to the War on Terrorism.”
Balogh added that the 2000 election contributed to political partisanship because the close race caused each side to use “any weapon in their arsenal.” Nowadays there are fewer political moderates and fewer legislative compromises — a trend exemplified in the current debate over health care reform. Bills emerged from Congress with the support of just one Republican. In the 1960s, Balogh noted, Democrats got more GOP support to pass landmark civil-rights legislation.
Zelizer said he thinks evolving media technology — and the development of the 24/7 news cycle, thanks in part to the rise of Internet blogging and social-networking sites — has helped increase partisan bickering this decade.
Name of source: National Geographic News
SOURCE: National Geographic News (12-9-09)
Clay tablets inscribed with cuneiform, an ancient script once common in the Middle East, were unearthed in summer 2009 in an ancient palace in present-day southeastern Turkey.
Palace scribes jotted down seemingly mundane state affairs on the tablets during the Late Iron Age—which lasted from roughly the end of the ninth century B.C. until the mid-seventh century B.C.
But these everyday details, now in the early stages of decoding, may open up some of the inner workings of the Assyrian government—and the people who toiled in the empire, experts say.
A team led by University of Akron archaeologist Timothy Matney has been excavating the massive mud brick palace, once inhabited by the governor of the empire's Tushhan Province, for more than a decade.
The palace is located in Ziyaret Tepe, one of three fortified cities that the Assyrians built in the northern reach of their empire on the banks of the Tigris River.
Name of source: The Times (UK)
SOURCE: The Times (UK) (12-9-09)
Military forces of several nations are in discussions with conservationists over pooling surveillance resources to enforce the changes.
The “freedom of the seas” has given mariners legal rights to roam the high seas — a boundary that usually occurs 200 nautical miles from shore — at will. Specialists gathered at a London conference are saying that fishermen have been pushing the concept too far.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea came into force in 1983 and enshrined the 17th-century concept of the freedom of the seas. But while being on the high seas puts ships outside the jurisdiction of any one country, the small print of the law dictates that nations ensure that no undue damage is caused.
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (12-8-09)
Penned up in the royal kraal, the bull trotted around for a while, looking nervously for an escape. Then it hesitated, and the warriors — all in their late teens or early twenties — moved in, their hands reaching for anything to grasp, the tail, the legs, those horns.
The killing of the bull is part of Ukweshwama, an annual ceremony that celebrates a new harvest. It is a day of prayer when Zulus thank their creator and their ancestors. By tradition, a new regiment of young warriors is asked to confront a bull to prove its courage, inheriting the beast’s strength as it expires. It is believed this power then transfers to the Zulu king.
Usually, the Ukweshwama is viewed by outsiders as little more than a curiosity. King Goodwill Zwelithini is largely a ceremonial figure these days, his monarchy more an emotional bond than a political reality. But this year, a South African animal rights group took up the cause of the doomed bull, assailing the slaying as unnecessarily cruel. Fissures were pried open in South African society, and the back-and-forth between the two sides became ugly.
Critics of the ritual were condemned as neo-colonialists trying once again to stamp out African culture. “This is reminiscent of the arrival of European settlers on our shores who declared that our people were barbaric heathens who needed to be civilized,” wrote Zizi Kodwa, a spokesman for President Jacob Zuma, who is Zulu himself and a passionate defender of Zulu traditions...
SOURCE: NYT (12-8-09)
There was no immediate sign of the fiery cataclysm that erupted overhead starting at 8:46. But out of a baby-blue sky suddenly stained with smoke, a plane’s landing-gear assembly the size of a World War II torpedo crashed through the roof and down through two empty selling floors of the Burlington Coat Factory.
The Sept. 11, 2001, attack killed 2,752 people downtown and doomed the five-story building at 45 Park Place, two blocks north of the World Trade Center, keeping it abandoned for eight years.
But for months now, out of the public eye, an iron gate rises every Friday afternoon, and with the outside rumblings of construction at ground zero as a backdrop, hundreds of Muslims crowd inside, facing Mecca in prayer and listening to their imam read in Arabic from the Koran.
The building has no sign that hints at its use as a Muslim prayer space, but these modest beginnings point to a far grander vision: an Islamic center near the city’s most hallowed piece of land that would stand as one of ground zero’s more unexpected and striking neighbors...
SOURCE: NYT (12-7-09)
Because of government barriers to immigration, the share of foreign-born workers dipped from a 20th-century high of 21 percent in 1910 to barely 5 percent in 1970, but has been rising since then, to the current 16 percent.
In 2007, immigrants accounted for more than one in four workers in California (35 percent), New York (27 percent), New Jersey (26 percent) and Nevada (25 percent).
For the first time, the Census Bureau also compared immigrants by generation. Generally, income and other measures of achievement rose from one generation to the next, although educational attainment peaked with the second generation.
SOURCE: NYT (12-7-09)
From 1528 until 1992, a squat, nondescript mosque sat on this spot. But 17 years ago this week, a mob of Hindu activists tore the building to pieces with little more than their bare hands. Their goal was to clear the ground for a grand temple to Ram on the patch of ground they claimed was his birthplace.
That frenzied act of destruction, and the political movements that flowed from it, presented the biggest challenge to India’s identity as a secular, multi-ethnic democracy since the country was created by the bloody partition of British India in 1947. Even today the site is so sensitive that even the smallest changes require the approval of India’s Supreme Court.
Last week the government finally made public the report of a commission investigating the tumultuous events that led to this strange tableau. The report is a behemoth of 1,029 pages that sum up 400 meetings over 17 years of inquiry, during which almost $2 million was spent calling about 100 witnesses. Its findings have thundered across the political stage, causing shoving matches in Parliament and shout-fests on cable television talk shows...
Name of source: Politico
SOURCE: Politico (12-9-09)
He came to the Senate to be Ted Kennedy’s chief of staff, expecting to help guide home Kennedy’s careerlong ambition of national health care reform. He ended up being the liberal lion’s last skipper.
Now Mogilnicki finds himself serving Kennedy’s replacement, Sen. Paul Kirk (D-Mass.), the most junior Democrat on the Armed Services and Homeland Security committees.
Mogilnicki’s job now is part mop-up duty for a temporary senator, part carrying on the legacy of his beloved former boss. The office space shrank, the authority lessened, but he’s kept on with a sense of mission.
Mogilnicki said it’d be special for him if Kennedy’s cause célèbre could see its realization before Kirk’s term ends and before Mogilnicki’s Hill career sees the curtains fall at the end of next month.
But with the clock ticking fast, the ultimate twist is this: Mogilnicki resisted Kennedy’s entreaties for a long while, and now he and Kirk have to close up shop on the Kennedy era. And the scant few weeks seem to be flying by too fast.
Name of source: Fox News
SOURCE: Fox News (12-9-09)
The former vice president called Attorney General Eric Holder's decision in November to try Mohammed and four other 9/11 suspects in a civilian federal court near ground zero "a huge mistake."
The trial will put Mohammed "on the map," he contended.
The Republican, who has previously accused President Obama of "dithering" on the war in Afghanistan, sharply criticized the president for bowing to foreign leaders during recent overseas trips.
On Afghanistan, setting a 2011 date to begin withdrawal is "better than withdrawal now," he said, though he added that he thinks it vindicates Al Qaeda strategy that "if you kill enough Americans, you can change American policy."
Name of source: AFP
SOURCE: AFP (7-12-09)
"The FSB archives hold the jaw of Hitler and the state archives a fragment of Hitler's skull," said Vassili Khristoforov, head of the FSB archives, told Interfax.
"With the exception of these remains, seized on May 5, 1945, there exist no other bits from the body of Hitler," he added.
In September academics from the University of Connecticut, in the United States, said their DNA analysis showed the skull fragment to be that of a woman, aged between 20 and 40.
They did not test the jawbone.
The researchers had not approached the FSB archives about testing the jawbone, said Khristoforov.
"And even if they had the DNA of our fragments, with what could they then have compared it?" he asked.
"These remains are unique, there is nothing comparable. We are talking about the only evidence of this kind of the death of Hitler, and that is why the FSB had kept it in its archives," he said.
Some Russian officials and scientists had in any case already expressed doubts about the skull fragment.
But the latest comments came against a background of doubts over what really happened in Berlin during the last days of the Nazi regime.
For decades, there has been speculation that Hitler might have escaped -- despite reports from both Soviet troops and British intelligence agents at the time that concluded that Hitler and his mistress Eva Braun died in the bunker.
Name of source: Artdaily.org
SOURCE: Artdaily.org (12-8-09)
Bush is expected at the museum in Fredericksburg on Monday, the 68th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks. Bush was a World War II naval aviator and survived being shot down by the Japanese over the Pacific.
The museum expansion has been planned for about a decade. It takes visitors on a chronological journey using multimedia and has thousands of artifacts, including one of two existing Japanese mini-submarines used on Pearl Harbor.
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (12-8-09)
Vassili Khristoforov, head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), said: ‘The FSB archives hold the jaw of Hitler and the state archives a fragment of Hitler’s skull.
‘With the exception of these remains, seized on May 5, 1945, there exist no other bits from the body of Hitler.’
In September academics from the University of Connecticut, in the US, said their DNA analysis showed the skull fragment to be that of a woman, aged between 20 and 40.
But they did not test the jawbone, and that, say the Russians, is positively male.
Name of source: The National Security Archives
SOURCE: The National Security Archives (12-8-09)
"Operation Mexico" was the codename for a clandestine Argentine rendition program aimed at kidnapping and disappearing leaders of the Montoneros living in exile in Mexico City in the late 1970s. In 1978, members of that militant group who had already been taken prisoner and were being held in a clandestine prison in Rosario were forced to travel with intelligence agents to Mexico to identify their colleagues. The operation was intercepted and disrupted by Mexican authorities. To cover up the failed mission, the Argentine secret police executed 14 of the 15 prisoners who were aware of Operation Mexico.
The documents include a secret Argentine report that confirmed that Jaime Dri was the lone survivor of the prisoners who knew about the secret Mexico rendition mission. According to the document, "DRI JAIME 'Pelado'" was present when "the commission that accompanies 'TUCHO'" Valenzuela—one of the prisoners forced to accompany the intelligence operatives to Mexico City to identify his colleagues—"returned from Mexico."
Name of source: Physorg
SOURCE: Physorg (12-7-09)
Alongside the campaigners, freedom-fighters and assassins, ordinary people such as doctors, missionaries, farmers and police officers give intimate reminiscences of Empire, Indian independence, and of partition.
The collection is owned by the University's Centre of South Asian Studies and contains more than 500 hours of audio material and 10,000 pages of interview transcripts. The entire collection is being made available in full, for free, as streamed audio at http://www.s-asian.cam.ac.uk . Themed collections of excerpts are also available for download from the University's iTunesU channel and at http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/news/special/20091205/
The recordings were made in the 1960s and 70s as part of a wider project to preserve the memories of the British in India, members of the Indian independence movement, and people who had known Gandhi. The original cassettes and reel-to-reel tape had become unusable because of fears that playing them regularly would cause irrevocable damage...
Name of source: The Japan Times Online
SOURCE: The Japan Times Online (12-8-09)
Before starting the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, the Japanese government ignored a tip that a Russian politician long considered a key war advocate was trying to avoid the conflict by proposing an alliance with Japan, according to papers uncovered by a University of Tokyo historian.
The finding could lead to a revision of the widely accepted view in Japan that it was goaded by Russia into starting the 1904-1905 war, which stemmed from the two countries' rival imperial ambitions over Manchuria and Korea, experts say.
It may also attract attention in Japan because NHK in November began airing a three-year TV drama series based on a saga by the late novelist Ryotaro Shiba that depicts the Russo-Japanese War as one of self-defense for Japan.
A draft of the abortive alliance was discovered at the Russian State Historical Archive in St. Petersburg. It bears the signature of Aleksandr Bezobrazov, an informal trade minister and trusted adviser to Czar Nicholas II, according to Haruki Wada, the professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo who found the document.
Name of source: Live Science
SOURCE: Live Science (12-4-09)
The Toba eruption, which took place on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia about 73,000 years ago, released an estimated 800 cubic kilometers of ash into the atmosphere that blanketed the skies and blocked out sunlight for six years. In the aftermath, global temperatures dropped by as much as 16 degrees centigrade (28 degrees Fahrenheit) and life on Earth plunged deeper into an ice age that lasted around 1,800 years.
In 1998, Stanley Ambrose, an anthropology professor at the University of Illinois, proposed in the Journal of Human Evolution that the effects of the Toba eruption and the Ice Age that followed could explain the apparent bottleneck in human populations that geneticists believe occurred between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago. The lack of genetic diversity among humans alive today suggests that during this time period humans came very close to becoming extinct.
Name of source: U.S News & World Report
SOURCE: U.S News & World Report (10-7-09)
Over the years, America's youngest presidents have had mixed records. Only one—Theodore Roosevelt, the youngest chief executive in history, who took office in 1901 at the age of 42 years and 10 months—qualifies to be in the great or near-great categories, according to historians. Roosevelt's age was a joking matter even for his friends and advisers because he seemed so preposterously young. Secretary of War Elihu Root told him on his 46th birthday in 1904: "You have made a very good start in life, and your friends have great hopes for you when you grow up." At that point, he had been commander in chief for three years.
Rounding out the youngest five were John F. Kennedy, who was 43 years and 7 months old when he was inaugurated; Bill Clinton at 46 years and 5 months; Ulysses S. Grant at 46 years and 10 months; and Obama at 47 years and 5 months.
Kennedy still has a hold on the popular imagination as a young leader whose potential was cut short by assassination. The reputations of Clinton and Grant were marred by scandal. Obama, in office less than a year, has yet to make a definitive mark.