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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: CNN
SOURCE: CNN (12-3-09)
Buckles, the last surviving U.S. veteran of the war that ended in 1918, came to Capitol Hill in support of legislation to pay tribute to his comrades.
Lawmakers are considering whether to help fund a national rededication of an old city monument already on the Mall or to forgo such support in favor of a monument project under way in Kansas City, Missouri.
SOURCE: CNN (2-12-09)
Some say comparing President Bush's decision to send an additional 20,000 troops into Iraq four years into that war and President Obama's announcement that he's sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan is comparing apples with oranges.
By most assessments, Bush's decision in 2007 to implement a "surge" of troops into Iraq was deemed successful: Violence was significantly reduced in Baghdad and the Al Anbar Province.
But analysts point out it wasn't just the surge that helped stabilize the country, which was going through sectarian violence that was becoming a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. They say it was a combination of factors.
"The Anbar Awakenings were happening simultaneously as [Iraqi political leader] Muqtadr Al Sadr was laying down his militias," said CNN Security Analyst Peter Bergen. "The surge kind of became a force multiplier with a whole set of underlying circumstances that weren't entirely predictable."
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* Barack Obama
Unlike 2007, this is not the first surge of troops into Afghanistan.
"It's surge number three [in Afghanistan]. That's a big difference between this surge and the Iraq surge," Bergen said. "Obama already authorized 21,000 [in March]. And before that there was a Bush mini-surge of 10,000."
Michael O'Hanlon, national security expert at the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan think tank, said this is the first time the U.S. has had forces deployed to Afghanistan "based on a detailed assessment of local needs."
"That makes this time promising," he added.
But Iraq and Afghanistan are vastly different countries with unique political problems.
The U.S. was seen as a broker in helping end a brutal civil war among the Iraqi population. In Afghanistan, however, it's American and NATO forces fighting back against the Taliban.
"The  surge started as Iraq was in the middle of one of the nastiest civil wars in the modern era," Bergen said. "Afghanistan has got problems, but it's not in the middle of a vicious sectarian civil war."
In February 2007, six U.S. helicopters were shot down, deadly bombings were common and hundreds of bodies were found in Baghdad. At the time, Bush said the concept behind the surge was to give Iraqis help in defending, uniting and sustaining themselves.
That idea is similar to the plan the Obama administration is working on in Afghanistan.
Obama said the additional 30,000 troops would concentrate on population centers and target the insurgency. The idea is to provide Afghanis a sense that the U.S. is there to help protect them from the Taliban.
"Most of the  surge went into Baghdad and the belts around Baghdad, which were the center of gravity for the Iraq war," Bergen said. "This surge is going into Kandahar and Helmand, which is the center of gravity of this war. They are going into population centers, and they are supposedly protecting the population."
Frederick Kagan, director of the Critical Threats Project for the American Enterprise Institute, a nonpartisan institution, agreed.
"The ability to reach out to the tribal leaders has a lot to do, not only with our actual success on the ground, but also with the perception of our power," Kagan said.
Share your view on Obama's plan
Part of that perception of power is not just adding troops, but also working with local leaders, which is what happened in Iraq.
"Yes he did add more troops, but we also made deals with the so-called 'Sons of Iraq,' the former insurgents," said Lawrence Korb, with the Center for American Progress. "We changed how we were using the troops. We put them out more into the cities."
And like Iraq, deals are also being made in Afghanistan.
There are funds in the 2010 defense appropriations bill that finances a Taliban reintegration provision, which essentially would pay Taliban fighters to switch sides. CERP funding also is intended for humanitarian relief and reconstruction projects at commanders' discretion.
The buyout idea, according to the Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is to separate local Taliban from their leaders, replicating a program used to neutralize the insurgency against Americans in Iraq.
"Afghan leaders and our military say that local Taliban fighters are motivated largely by the need for a job or loyalty to the local leader who pays them and not by ideology or religious zeal," Levin said in a Senate floor speech on September 11. "They believe an effort to attract these fighters to the government's side could succeed, if they are offered security for themselves and their families, and if there is no penalty for previous activity against us."
SOURCE: CNN (2-12-09)
Katherine White doesn't believe it.
White, herself a sufferer of Addison's disease, has studied Austen's own letters and those of her family and friends, and concluded that key symptoms just don't match what's known about the illness.
The disease -- a failure of the adrenal glands -- was unknown in Austen's day, first having been identified nearly 40 years after she died in 1817 at the age of 41.
It was a doctor named Zachary Cope who first proposed that Addison's disease had killed Austen -- a much beloved novelist whose social comedies continue to sell briskly and inspire movies starring the likes of Keira Knightley, Donald Sutherland, Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant. (That's not to mention homages like the Bollywood-inspired "Bride and Prejudice" and this year's unlikely bestseller "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.")
Cope's article, published in the British Medical Journal in 1964, came to White's attention a couple of years ago.
"When I read the summary that Zachary Cope had done of her symptoms, I thought, well, that's not right," White told CNN.
She zeroed in on a comment Austen made in a letter to a friend less than two months before she died: "My head was always clear, and I had scarcely any pain."
That's not what Addison's sufferers normally say, White says.
"People tend to get a thumping headache and feel like they have the hangover from hell," she said.
Saint Elizabeth of the Trinity, who died of Addison's disease in 1906, compared her own suffering to being crucified, White observed.
Patients also tend to have difficulty remembering words, and suffer from slurred speech, sleepiness and confusion.
Austen, by contrast, dictated a 24-line comic poem to her sister less than 48 hours before she died.
White is not the first to dispute the theory that Addison's disease killed Austen. British biographer Claire Tomalin suggested in a 1997 book that lymphoma was the culprit.
White finds that, too, unlikely.
She suspects the answer is much simpler: tuberculosis.
Tomalin "was still thinking [of] first world [diseases]. She went for lymphoma on the advice of doctors," White argued.
"If you think about TB [tuberculosis], which was rife in Jane Austen's day, statistically speaking, [the cause of death] was far more likely to have been TB from unpasteurized milk rather than an obscure condition like lymphoma," White said.
Austen biographer John Halperin isn't sure it matters what killed Austen -- but whatever it was, it affected her writing as her life drew to a close, he said.
Her last completed novel, "Persuasion," is "a far more sad and autumnal book than any of the others," he said. "You get the sense that decisions delayed never return. That came home to her very clearly in 'Persuasion.' The tone is a very sad one, even though the heroine does marry the man she loves in the end," Halperin said.
In fact, Austen's papers show she considered another ending in which the heroine did not marry the man she loved.
Halperin believes Austen died of Addison's disease, he said, though he points out that his biography, "The Life of Jane Austen," was first published in 1984, and that there has been significant research into the disease since then.
White, who is trained as a social scientist, not a doctor, is the coordinator for the Addison's Disease Self-Help Group's clinical advisory group in the United Kingdom. She published a paper this week in the journal Medical Humanities making her case.
The paper, "Jane Austen and Addison's Disease: an unconvincing diagnosis," admits that some of Austen's symptoms were consistent with adrenal failure, and points out that we may not know all of Austen's ailments because her sister Cassandra edited or destroyed many of Jane's letters.
But Kenneth Burman, an endocrinology expert at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, finds White's argument plausible.
Like White, he speculates that Austen could have suffered for years from some disease that affected her adrenal glands but that the actual cause of death was different.
"It's most likely that she had chronic adrenal insufficiency and that the final cause could have been secondary infection such as TB," he said.
He, too, doubts Austen had lymphoma, which tends to produce enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, swelling in the stomach because of enlarged liver or spleen, and salt cravings -- none of which were documented in Austen's final days.
"I agree completely" that it's simply statistically more likely that the novelist would have had tuberculosis than lymphoma, he said.
But, he cautioned, we'll never know for sure.
"Retrospective diagnosis is very speculative," he said. "It's unknowable with certainty."
Or, as Austen herself wrote, "Seldom, very seldom, does complete truth belong to any human disclosure; seldom can it happen that something is not a little disguised, or a little mistaken."
SOURCE: CNN (12-2-09)
Gen. Victor Yermakov commanded the Soviet Union's 40th army in Afghanistan from May 1982 to November 1983, one of six commanders to preside over the Soviet task force after its 1979 invasion.
The Kremlin's bloody nine-year campaign to support the Marxist government in Kabul cost the lives of more than 15,000 troops and brought the Soviet economy to its knees before its 100,000-strong army was forced into a humiliating withdrawal.
The strategy of imposing its will on Afghanistan militarily had failed in the face of an unyielding guerilla insurgency, backed ironically by U.S. money and weapons. Afghanistan had become Moscow's "Vietnam War."
SOURCE: CNN (12-2-09)
Rumsfeld said Wednesday that during his time as Bush's Secretary of Defense, he was "not aware of a single request of that nature."
But Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since October of 2007, said Wednesday that the former top commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, had requested more troops during the previous administration, but they were sent to Iraq instead.
SOURCE: CNN (12-1-09)
Obama addressed those critics, who believe the area cannot be stabalized and think the United States should cut their losses and rapdily withdraw, by highlighting what he beileves are major differences between Vietnam and Afghanistan.
"Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action," Obama said during his speech at West Point Tuesday night. "Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border."
Experts say while there are similarities between the two conflicts, there are more differences...
... Peter Beinart, who wrote an article in October called, "Bury the Vietnam Analogy" on TheDailyBeast.com, has said there is a real sense of national identity for Afghans that wasn't seen in South Vietnam.
"Afghanistan is a real country that Afghans generally believe in. They have an Afghan national identity. That didn't exist in South Vietnam," he said, adding that the Taliban is much less popular in Afghanistan than the Viet Cong was in South Vietnam.
In Vietnam, the Communists controlled the nationalist movement and had the nationalist legitimacy. The Taliban, meanwhile, is not as organized as the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army were...
Name of source: BBC
The club cancelled a screening of the film on legal advice that they could face charges.
The journalists died as Indonesian troops invaded East Timor in 1975.
Jakarta maintains they were killed accidentally in cross-fire. But an Australian coroner found in 2007 that the journalists had been executed.
The 186 coins, found in Brackley in 2005, were sold at Morton and Eden by the metal detector enthusiast who found them and the owner of the field.
It is thought they were hidden in the summer of 1465 by someone who went into hiding during the dynastic civil war.
They were sold in separate lots for £29,900 at the auction house.
The genocide tribunal appointed British-born Mr Cayley several months after the resignation of his Canadian predecessor, Robert Petit.
Mr Cayley recently defended the former Liberian President Charles Taylor at his war crimes trial.
Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni formally appointed Mr Cayley, according to a court statement.
Name of source: Politics Daily
SOURCE: Politics Daily (12-3-09)
The Pew survey found 49 percent of Americans holding that view. The previous highs were 41 percent in both 1995 and 1976. Forty-four percent in the poll disagreed.
Those who believe the U.S. should go its own way and not worry about whether other countries agree reached 44 percent , which was the highest number since 1995, when 34 percent took that position. Still, 51 percent disagreed with that point of view.
Name of source: Sydney Morning Herald
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald (1-12-09)
That is the intriguing question a crack team of maritime archaeologists, divers and marine scientists hope to answer when they sail tomorrow for a remote reef 450 kilometres off the coast of Queensland.
The expedition leader, Kieran Hosty, describes the 200-year-old mystery of Wreck Reef as one of the great untold sagas of our maritime history.
The story began in 1803, after Matthew Flinders had completed his epic circumnavigation of Australia and was returning to England. He was a passenger on HMS Porpoise, a 10-gun sloop under the command of Lieutenant Robert Fowler. The ship was travelling in convoy, accompanied by Cato, an armed cargo ship, and Bridgewater, a cargo ship owned by the East India Company.
But disaster struck close to midnight on August 17 when Porpoise hit an uncharted reef in the dark. Fowler ordered a cannon to be fired to warn the other ships. In the confusion Cato and Bridgewater were heading for a catastrophic collision until Captain Park, on the Cato, changed course, even though that meant hitting the reef about 400 metres from the Porpoise.
To his shame, the captain of the Bridgewater made no effort to rescue the two shipwrecked crews, ignominiously sailing on to India. ''The Bridgewater's captain did the dirty,'' says Hosty. ''His crew were so revolted by his actions that some of them jumped ship in India, refusing to sail with him.''
Flinders and Fowler stayed on board the Porpoise that night, rescuing those still in the water - only three men out of 98 died - and salvaging whatever might aid their eventual survival.
But on the treeless sand island itself, other crew members made a startling discovery: the timber remains of a previous wreck.
Sadly for science, they immediately burnt the timber as firewood. But among their number were the master's mate and a ship's carpenter, both expert witnesses with an intimate knowledge of marine technology.
''They knew what they were talking about,'' says Hosty. ''They said the timber came from the stern of a 400-ton, sturdily built ship … It had clearly been on the reef a long time.''
When Flinders heard of the discovery he deduced the wreckage must be the remains of La Perouse's Astrolabe or Boussole, which had gone missing after leaving Botany Bay in 1788.
However, we now know La Perouse's ships came to grief on the Santa Cruz islands. So who did the mystery wreck belong to?
Not the Dutch, says Hosty: they confined themselves to Australia's west and north coast. Possibly the Portuguese, or the Spanish who had settled Espiritu Santo, part of modern day Vanuatu, in 1606. It might have been British, though no suitable ship is recorded missing.
''I think it is most likely to have been American,'' Hosty concludes. ''There were certainly American whalers in that area around that time.''
He is confident they will find it: ''Our trip is to continue to explore the Porpoise, confirm the wreck of the Cato and, hopefully, locate the pre-1803 wreck.
''We presume it did the same thing as the Porpoise and Cato: came up on the southern side of the reef - where the wreckage was found - then sank in between 10 and 20 metres of water.''
The best case scenario is that they find a wreck which predates Cook's voyage along the east coast of Australia in 1770. But Hosty says it won't rival the Duyfken, the first known vessel to anchor in Australian waters in 1606. ''The guys from the Porpoise would have recognised if the wreckage was that old.''
Name of source: The Times (UK)
SOURCE: The Times (UK) (12-2-09)
They hope to discover remains of clothing, documents and even household waste. The dig is at New Place, where he lived from 1597 until his death in 1616.
Richard Kemp, of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said: “We are hoping to find organic debris that will teach us what the great man had for dinner. Our dream find would be the first draft of The Tempest, which we know Shakespeare did write here.”
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust says that it will provide information for a large archaeological project in 2010.
The house was razed to the ground by an eccentric later owner, Reverend Francis Gastrell. In 1759 he attacked a tree planted by Shakespeare, provoking other Stratford residents to smash his windows.
A Victorian antiquarian, James Halliwell-Phillipps, excavated parts of the site in 1862 but modern techniques are expected to yield better results.
SOURCE: The Times (UK) (12-12-09)
Now you see him, now you don’t. Stalin was a past master at the art of airbrushing. In one classic set of photographs, there Stalin is with his secret police chief, Nikolai Yezhov — and in the next photo, there Yezhov isn’t (he was executed in 1940, with his boss’s approval). And now, in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the airbrushing of history seems to be all the rage again.
If you look hard enough — and we travelled for 5,000 miles around the former Soviet Union — you can find old Soviet airbrushing in concrete. Not far from the railway station in Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, are three giant faces on the frieze of a building: Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Next to them is a strange shadow, a memory of a fourth face no longer there. Stalin’s visage was chiselled off, sometime after Nikita Khrushchev’s “secret speech” of 1956, in which he denounced Stalin to a closed session of the party congress.
But that is in the sticks, where folk are behind the times. In Kursk underground station in Moscow, a frieze saluting Stalin was removed after the “secret speech”. This summer, after an absence of half a century, it mysteriously reappeared. Stalin is back, his name high above the heads of Muscovites heading down into the underground, with a line from the old Stalinist Soviet anthem: “Stalin brought us up and inspired us to carry out heroic deeds.” Russia seems to be not de-Stalinising but re-Stalinising.
In Russian schools, something even more troubling appears to be happening. They call it “positive history” and the man behind it is Putin. In 2007, the former secret police chief told a conference of Russian educationists that the country needed a more patriotic history. Putin condemned teachers for having “porridge in their heads”, attacked some history textbook authors for taking foreign money — “naturally they are dancing the polka ordered by those who pay them” — and announced that new history textbooks were on their way. Within weeks, a new law was passed giving the state powers to approve and to disallow history textbooks for schools. What does Igor Dolutsky, the author of a history textbook that has been dropped by the Kremlin, make of “positive history”? “It’s an appalling idea which hinders proper teaching in schools. School history should not create patriots, it should teach children to think. Putin’s task is to rule a state edging towards totalitarianism.”
Name of source: Fox News
SOURCE: Fox News (12-3-09)
The Swinford bridge brings in about 320,000 in toll payments from about 4 million vehicle crossings a year.
Due to a quirk in British law, toll revenue collected from the picturesque stone structure about 65 miles northwest of London can be collected tax-free.
Name of source: The National Security Archive
SOURCE: The National Security Archive (12-2-09)
The National Security Archive’s Kate Doyle presented the documentation as evidence in the international genocide case, which is under investigation by Judge Santiago Pedraz in Madrid. Ms Doyle testified today before Judge Pedraz on the authenticity of the documents, which were obtained from military intelligence sources in Guatemala. Earlier this year, Defense Minister Gen. Abraham Valenzuela González claimed that the military could not locate the documents nor turn them over to a judge in Guatemala, as ordered by the Guatemalan Constitutional Court in 2008.
After months of analysis, which included evaluations of letterheads and signatures on the documents and comparisons to other available military records, Doyle said, “we have determined that these records were created by military officials during the regime of Efraín Ríos Montt to plan and implement a ‘scorched earth’ policy on Mayan communities in El Quiché. The documents record the military’s genocidal assault against indigenous populations in Guatemala.”
Name of source: Yahoo News
SOURCE: Yahoo News (12-3-09)
Not so fast, say contributors to the Conservative Bible Project.
The project, an online effort to create a Bible suitable for contemporary conservative sensibilities, claims Jesus' quote is a disputed addition abetted by liberal biblical scholars, even if it appears in some form in almost every translation of the Bible.
The project's authors argue that contemporary scholars have inserted liberal views and ahistorical passages into the Bible, turning Jesus into little more than a well-meaning social worker with a store of watered-down platitudes...
... "This is not making scripture understandable to people today, it's reworking scripture to support a particular political or social agenda," said Timothy Paul Jones, a professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., who calls himself a theological conservative...
SOURCE: Yahoo News (12-2-09)
An Italian government representative is taking possession of them at a ceremony Wednesday. The artifacts are a Pompeii plaster wall painting and a Corinthian vase for mixing water and wine.
SOURCE: Yahoo News (12-1-09)
Zeituni Onyango (zay-TUH'-nee awn-YAHN'-goh) told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview that she is troubled that her immigration woes have made her a political liability to her nephew.
Onyango, the half sister of Obama's late father, said she has exiled herself from the family after attending Obama's inauguration because she didn't want to become fodder for his foes. Obama and his family have not reached out to her either, she said.
"Before, we were family. But right now, there is a lot of politics, and me, I am not interested in any politics at all," said Onyango, whose appeal for asylum from her native Kenya is before an immigration judge in Boston.
The Obamas are her only family in the United States, she said.
SOURCE: Yahoo News (11-27-09)
"We consumed your resources, dehumanized your people and disregarded your culture, along with your dreams, hopes and great love for this land," the Rev. Robert Chase told descendants from both sides. "With pain, we the Collegiate Church, remember our part in these events."
The minister spoke on Native American Heritage Day at a reconciliation ceremony of the Lenape tribe with the Collegiate Church, started in 1628 in then-New Amsterdam as the Reformed Dutch Church.
The rite was held in front of the Museum of the American Indian in lower Manhattan, where Dutch colonizers had built their fort near an Indian trail now called Broadway, just steps away from Wall Street.
Name of source: Azcentral
SOURCE: Azcentral (12-2-09)
Now, more than a half-century later, it turns out that Hayes' image also was captured in death - secretly cast in plaster while he lay in a Phoenix mortuary awaiting burial.
The heroic and tragic story of Hayes, a Pima Indian from Bapchule, was depicted in books, Hollywood films and popular music. The death mask, only recently discovered by Hayes' family, adds one more chapter to the historic odyssey, a postscript with its own controversy and cultural questions.
This month, Kenneth Hayes, 78, received his brother's final impression as a donation from the Gilbert Ortega Museum Gallery in Scottsdale, where the mask had been on display for years, unbeknownst to relatives. Family members laid the object to rest last week on the Gila River Reservation where Hayes was born and died. The surviving relatives say the burial allows Hayes' spirit to go free into the next world.
The death mask itself represents something of a mystery, from its unauthorized creation to its public display.
Name of source: Pew Research Center
SOURCE: Pew Research Center (12-3-09)
The quadrennial survey finds both the general public and members of the Council on Foreign Relations apprehensive and uncertain about America’s place in the world. In particular, there is considerable pessimism about prospects for long-term stability in Afghanistan. However, while 50% of CFR members favor increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan, just 32% of the public agrees; the survey was conducted before Obama’s Dec. 1 speech outlining his plans for a troop increase for Afghanistan.
Growing numbers in both groups see the United States playing a less important role globally, while acknowledging the increasing stature of China. But the public takes a less benign view of China’s rise than do members of the Council on Foreign Relations. A majority of the public (53%) continues to see China’s emerging power as a major threat to the U.S.; just 21% of CFR members express that view, down from 38% in 2001. Moreover, most Council members (58%) predict that China will be a more important U.S. ally in the future – up from 31% in 2005.
Meanwhile, a plurality of the public now says that China, not the United States, is the world’s leading economic power. Currently, 44% of the public says China is the world’s leading economic power, while just 27% name the United States. As recently as the beginning of last year, 41% said the U.S. was the top economic power while 30% said China.
The poll also finds:
- Both isolationism and unilateralism have reached four-decade highs among the public. While nearly half of the public says the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally,” nearly as many (44%) say the U.S. should go its “own way” in international matters and not worry about whether other countries agree.
- Obama receives much higher ratings on most foreign policy issues from Council members than the public. But just 42% of CFR members approve of Obama’s job performance on Afghanistan, which is only somewhat higher than his rating among the public (36%). Afghanistan and Pakistan also are mentioned most frequently by CFR members as the worst thing about Obama’s foreign policy.
- Fully 85% of the CFR members surveyed say that political instability in Pakistan is a major threat to the U.S.; just 49% of the public agrees. By comparison, greater percentages of the public than CFR members regard China’s growing power and North Korea’s nuclear program as major threats.
- CFR members assign a far lower priority to several globally oriented policy goals than they did at the beginning of the decade. Promoting democracy abroad, defending human rights, strengthening the United Nations and improving living standards in developing countries are all viewed as less important priorities by CFR members.
-- Despite widespread anxiety over the economy, public support for free trade agreements has increased since 2008. A modest plurality now sees free trade agreements as good for the U.S.; in April 2008, a plurality said such agreements were bad for the country.
-- France’s image among the American public has recovered dramatically since the early days of the Iraq war. Fully 62% of the public says they have a favorable opinion of France, up from just 29% in May 2003.
--Favorable ratings of Pakistan, by contrast, have become more negative just in the past year. Currently, just 16% of the public expresses a favorable opinion of Pakistan, down from 37% in the spring of 2008.
The survey was conducted this fall among 2,000 members of the public and 642 members of the Council on Foreign Relations. The survey is for immediate release and is available on our website: http://www.people-press.org. For a direct link to the full report, go to: http://people-press.org/report/569/americas-place-in-the-world. It includes a related commentary by Council on Foreign Relations Director of Studies James M. Lindsay.
Name of source: Bloomberg
SOURCE: Bloomberg (2-12-09)
We were in ancient Mesopotamia’s greatest city, on the grounds of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The gardens are long gone, and I was looking at a reconstruction of their foundation. Animals, and possibly their caretakers, had moved in, one example of the chaos visited upon Iraq’s archaeological treasures since the U.S.-led invasion.
Ancient Babylon, dating back to 2,300 B.C., lies about 50 miles south of Baghdad, near the town of Al-Hillah. It was one of many civilizations of Mesopotamia, which is Greek for “between the rivers,” the Tigris and Euphrates.
Babylon is best known for the Tower of Babel and King Nebuchadnezzar II, who destroyed Jerusalem. Reigning from about 605 to 562 B.C., he created the gardens for his wife, Amytis of Media, a mountainous region of modern-day Iran, to remind her of home. Shortly after his death, the empire fell to invading Persians.
Like most ruins, Babylon isn’t much more than piles of mud bricks. Imagination and a desire to connect with history make the site. Unless, of course, you’re a demented dictator who believed himself Nebuchadnezzar’s reincarnation.
Saddam Hussein, to the horror of archaeologists, rebuilt many of the ancient ruins, damaging the site in the process. My guide, Ghanum Duleme, took me through the most impressive reconstruction, Nebuchadnezzar’s palace. Modern brick walls soared overhead, but Duleme pointed to the ground, where the line of ancient bricks still visible two to three feet above the ground sagged under the weight of the modern walls built over them. The rebuilt palace was a barren, monochromatic fantasy, devoid of detail and spirit.
Hussein is inescapable. He emulated the practice in Nebuchadnezzar’s time of stamping bricks with the king’s name, and virtually every other brick in the reconstruction is inscribed in Arabic with, “In the time of President Saddam, 1988.” One of his palaces looms above the ruins, visible from every point, even from the Lion of Babylon, an enormous basalt carving of a lion vanquishing an enemy.
It is the perfect spot for a photo but one you could never take during Hussein’s rule, because of security concerns about the palace.
“If you took a picture here, the guards would come down from the hill and beat you, smash your camera, and sometimes take you away,” Duleme said.
Authorities no longer beat up tourists visiting Babylon. In fact, having them around is a key goal of the Iraqi State Ministry for Tourism and Antiquities Affairs, which is working with the U.S. government.
I met Diane Siebrandt, an archaeologist and cultural- heritage liaison for the U.S. State Department at the new U.S. Embassy complex in Baghdad. As we spoke, a window gave a view to the ancient Tigris and its swaying palms. Her delight in working here is obvious.
“I just really do enjoy being in this country,” Siebrandt said, adding that archaeology “reconnects this country with the rest of the world.”
She said there are more than 12,000 documented archaeological sites in Iraq, but Babylon is a priority. The State Department has invested $700,000 in the Future of Babylon Project, a joint project of the World Monuments Fund and Iraq’s State Board of Antiquities to work on a site management plan for Babylon.
The two-year project includes areas such as stabilization of Babylon’s ruins, crowd management, English training for guides, and toilets. Siebrandt acknowledged that historic preservation aside, the goal was getting visitors into the ruins.
“Tourism at the end is going to be one of the big economic boosts for this country, because it is the cradle of civilization,” Siebrandt said.
The country already has 4,500 employees at museums and archaeological sites, according to Abdul Zahra al-Talaqani, the spokesman for the Iraqi State Ministry for Tourism and Antiquities Affairs.
He and I met in the lobby of the Al-Rasheed Hotel, located in Baghdad’s Green Zone, among local politicians in badly tailored suits, sheiks in traditional outfits, voluptuous newscasters in tight skirts, fair-haired Americans in polo shirts and khakis, and soldiers in fatigues. Observing this scene out of a cliched war movie are mysterious, cigar-puffing men.
Al Talaqani mostly discussed Shia Muslim religious pilgrimages, the country’s most important tourism, which in 2008 drew one million Iranians into the country. He also mentioned the British agency Hinterland Travel bringing European groups to Babylon, stressing that they “visited all this area, and they went back to their homes and to Europe safe.”
Al Talaqani also felt that the war has made Americans curious.
“In the future an American might come to visit a religious shrine, or an ancient civilization. Many American people want to come see the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers,” he said.
Without question, communing with antiquity is what makes Iraq’s tourism potential so compelling. I had seen Babylon exhibits in museums the world over, from Baghdad’s own reopened National Museum to Berlin’s Pergamon, with its rebuilt Ishtar Gate.
The Real Thing
Yet nothing compares to the real thing -- pacing in the hot desert sun along the stones of Nebuchadnezzar’s imperial procession route and approaching the portions of the Ishtar Gates extant. Weather-beaten, their blue glazing long gone, the mythical bulls, lions and dragons still stare down from overhead. To touch the 2,600-year-old crumbling surface is to connect with ancient Babylon in the most visceral way.
And Babylon brings alive empires and invading armies past and present. On the return to Baghdad, I came across a monument to Hussein, several stories high, his face etched in stone. Though strafed by bullets, it still stands. Thousands once existed, but since the invasion, the U.S. and the new Iraqi government dismantled all they could.
Like the bricks of Babylon, I felt the need to touch it, to run my hands across its rough surface, to make this part of history real. One day, the sands will swallow this monument. Saddam Hussein, the U.S. invasion, the chaos Iraq finds itself in now -- all of it will be one more lost legend in the sands of Mesopotamia.
Name of source: BBC News
SOURCE: BBC News (3-12-09)
The Musee d'Orsay, housing world-famous Impressionist paintings, is also shut.
The protest is over French government plans to trim the civil service by replacing only one in two retiring staff.
The Pompidou Centre, housing a rich collection of modern art, has been closed by the action since 23 November.
Standing outside the Louvre's landmark glass pyramid, Gavin Lam and his girlfriend Ranma Mo, from China's southern province of Guangzhou, were disappointed not to see acclaimed works such as the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.
"There are some great paintings inside, some masterpieces," Mr Lam told AFP news agency on the couple's maiden trip to Paris. "Some people come a long way - if people are striking, surely they'll be disappointed."
Also affected by the strike were the famed Arc de Triomphe war monument, the Rodin museum and the Gustave Moreau museum.
Talks between union leaders and France's Culture Minister, Frederic Mitterrand, on Wednesday evening failed to resolve the dispute.
Mr Mitterrand said the planned job cuts would go ahead.
"This reform is being enacted by a government that was duly elected," he told France 2 television. "This reform will be implemented."
Name of source: Rasmussen Reports
SOURCE: Rasmussen Reports (12-1-09)
In November, 36.0% of American adults said they were Democrats. That’s down from 37.8% a month ago and the lowest number of Democrats since December 2005. See the History of Party Trends from January 2004 to the present.
The number of Republicans inched up by just over a point in November to 33.1%. That’s within the narrow range that Republicans have experienced throughout 2009 - from a low of 31.9% to a high of 33.6%.
SOURCE: Rasmussen Reports (12-2-09)
... Before the president’s speech, voters were essentially evenly divided over whether the United States could still win the war in Afghanistan and whether all the troops there should be brought home within a year. Forty-five percent (45%) favored bringing troops home immediately or within a year while 43% opposed such a timetable.
The number of those questioning America’s ability to win and of those supporting a troop withdrawal had been increasing steadily since September when the internal Obama administration debate over Afghanistan became public. That debate was prompted by a request from General Stanley McChrystal, the chief commander in Afghanistan, for a troop surge, but politically speaking, particularly in the president’s own party, an expansion of the war wasn’t a hugely popular idea.
Prior to the speech, Democrats were far more supportive of a troop withdrawal and less confident of winning in Afghanistan than were Republicans and voters not affiliated with either major party.
At the same time, overall voter confidence in America’s conduct of the War on Terror has now fallen to its lowest level since the first week of January in 2007...
Name of source: American Revolution Center
SOURCE: American Revolution Center (12-3-09)
These are among the questions raised by a recent national survey, sponsored by The American Revolution Center, which revealed an alarming lack of knowledge of our nation's founding history, despite near universal agreement on the importance of this knowledge.
The study, conducted in the summer of 2009 among a demographically representative random sample of U.S. adults, is the first national survey of adult knowledge of the American Revolution and its ongoing legacy. It reveals that Americans highly value, but vastly overrate, their knowledge of the Revolutionary period and its significance. Asked to grade themselves on their knowledge, 89 percent of adults polled believed they could pass a basic test on the American Revolution. However, 83 percent failed the test that covered the underlying beliefs, freedoms, and liberties established during the Revolution. "The disappointing scores clearly indicate a need that ought to be addressed," notes Dr. Bruce Cole, president and CEO of The American Revolution Center. "This shouldn't be taken as an indictment of those who took the survey, but rather a wake-up call for all of us."
The survey findings, released today, are a call-to-action for The American Revolution Center and for its efforts to address this "historical amnesia." The American Revolution Center, a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization, plans to construct The Museum of the American Revolution in historic Philadelphia. This will be the first national museum to tell the entire story of the American Revolution and its enduring legacy. The American Revolution Center has already launched a website (www.AmericanRevolutionCenter.org) that provides resources on the American Revolution, including a searchable database of lesson plans, and links to over 70 American Revolution sites and organizations, and an interactive timeline.
"The American Revolution defined what it means to be an American. It forged those principles that unite us as a nation," says Dr. Cole. "Unfortunately, those principles that enabled the United States to flourish intellectually and economically are fading from memory." This is critical, Dr. Cole notes, because rights undefined and misunderstood cannot be defended or appropriately conveyed to new generations. "Knowledge of the ideas on which our constitutional system is built is essential to maintain the relevance and vibrancy of our government that is of the people, by the people, and for the people." he says. "Many Americans are unaware that the everyday freedoms and liberties they enjoy - reading newspaper editorials, expressing a dissenting opinion while attending a public meeting, or worshipping at a religious institution of their choice - are the legacy of the American Revolution. For future generations to continue to enjoy these freedoms, we must know and preserve the promise of the American Revolution."
The survey reveals that more than 90 percent of Americans - across all major demographic groups - think it is important for U.S. citizens to know the history and principles of the American Revolution. "This is a compelling number," observes Dr. Cole. "Other surveys tend not to ask this type of attitudinal question, which makes this finding truly significant. We are greatly encouraged by our citizens' level of enthusiasm for teaching and understanding the founding principles of our nation."
Some noteworthy findings from the report, titled "The American Revolution. Who Cares? Americans are yearning to learn, failing to know,"include the following:
--In spite of pledging allegiance to "the republic for which it stands," equal numbers of American adults mistakenly believe the Constitution established a government of direct democracy, rather than a democratic republic. (While this basic fact is included on the naturalization exam for immigrants to qualify for U.S. citizenship, more than half of the Americans polled do not know it.)
--More than 50 percent of Americans wrongly attributed the quote, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" to George Washington, Thomas Paine, or President Barack Obama, when it is in fact a quote from Karl Marx, author of "The Communist Manifesto."
--Many more Americans remember that Michael Jackson sang "Beat It" than know that the Bill of Rights is part of the Constitution.
--60 percent of Americans can correctly identify the number of children in reality-TV show couple Jon and Kate Gosselin's household (eight), but more than one-third do not know the century in which the American Revolution took place. Half of those surveyed believe the Civil War, Emancipation Proclamation, or War of 1812 occurred beforethe American Revolution.
--Especially notable at a time when thousands of political protesters hold "tea parties" around the nation, more than half of Americans do not know that the outcome of the Boston Tea Party was not a repeal of taxes, but rather that it prompted British actions that ignited American patriotism and sparked the Revolution.
More . . .
--One-third of Americans do not know that the right to a jury trial is covered in the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights, while 4-in-10 mistakenly think that the right to vote is.
Many high schools now forego teaching the American Revolution and its enduring legacies in civics or American history classes in favor of more global studies, The American Revolution Center notes. In addition, other studies have reported that even the nation's top universities and colleges do not include American history as a required course of study. Through a series of questions about major events in America's War for Independence, the survey reveals that Americans do not have an even basic understanding of the chronology, scale, duration or human cost of the military conflict that secured our nation's independence.
"You can't remember what you don't know," remarks Dr. Cole, "so it is not hard to recognize why many adult Americans understand far less about the American Revolution than they think they do or think they should. What needs to be kept in mind is that knowledge of our nation's founding principles is critical because it enables citizens to participate wisely in government, to understand the historical global context of our country's origins, to embrace a diversity of ideas, and to commit to the quest for freedom and equal rights."
While planning for the new museum in Philadelphia, The American Revolution Center is expanding its virtual presence with educational outreach efforts capable of reaching millions through a robust website that offers a searchable database of lesson plans and online access to its collection through an interactive timeline. Classroom and interactive delivery of teaching resources for grades K-12 and students of all ages is also planned. "The American Revolution Center has the opportunity to bring together for the first time, in one place, a museum dedicated to enhancing understanding and perpetuating the legacy of our Founding Generation," says Dr. Cole. "The Museum of the American Revolution will honor the sacrifices of generations past, while engaging rising generations in the ongoing story that is America's democracy."
For more information about the survey, or about the mission and activities of The American Revolution Center, visit www.AmericanRevolutionCenter.org.
# # #
About the survey
Survey respondents were asked 27 multiple-choice questions to gauge their actual knowledge of key documents, events, people and ideas from the revolutionary period. A few contemporary questions were included in an attempt to understand the magnitude of the difference in resonance between popular culture topics in headlines today and those pertaining to our nation's founding history and principles. Several questions were taken from the 2006 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in U.S. history for students in grades 4, 8, and 12. Also included was a question on Constitutional rights asked of adults and tracked for the last 10 years in other national surveys. The research was conducted in July of 2009, using telephone interviews of a random sample of 1,001 U.S. general population respondents, which included adults aged 18 and older, male and female, from all regions of the United States, spanning various income levels, education, and political affiliations. Sampling error is estimated at +/- four percent. The survey was developed with the assistance of notable authorities on the American Revolution under the guidance of Kenneth Dautrich, Ph.D., founder and former director of the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut, and administered by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, a research-based communications firm.
About The American Revolution Center
The American Revolution Center is a non-partisan, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to engaging the public in the history and enduring legacy of the American Revolution. It plans to establish The Museum of the American Revolution - the first national museum telling the entire story of the American Revolution and its enduring legacy - in historic Philadelphia. The Museum will showcase the Center's distinguished collection of objects, artifacts and manuscripts, highlights of which can be seen on its website and in special exhibitions.
Washington Office: 202-828-4150
Wayne Office: 610-975-4948
Name of source: Press of Atlantic City
SOURCE: Press of Atlantic City (12-1-09)
She remembers him as a Ukrainian soldier, working in a Nazi death camp in Poland when she was a captive there in 1943. He would bring ammunition into the armory, where it would be fed into chains for machine guns. He would then leave with the ammo, and she’d hear the firing squads execute camp prisoners. Demjanjuk would return with the spent ammo.
“He wasn’t the tops,” Raab said. “He helped with transport. He put in the bullets. He went with the machine (gun).”
“When they caught him in America,” Raab said, “I said, ‘I remember him.’”
Today, Demjanjuk stands trial in Munich, Germany, for alleged war crimes in arguably the world’s most watched trial, as German prosecutors bring forth a case that, according to the German magazine focus, will have no eyewitnesses.
Meanwhile, the 88-year-old Raab sits more than 4,000 miles away in her adopted hometown of Vineland, with no part in the trial. She spent nine months at the Sobibor death camp in Poland before escaping in 1943 during a successful uprising there and hiding in a family friend’s barn for months. She later came to the U.S. with her husband, Irving, and they settled in Vineland, where their chicken farm grew to become Vineland Kosher Poultry, which bills itself as one of the nation’s three largest kosher chicken slaughterhouses.
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (11-29-09)
In the 15 midterm elections since Harry S. Truman won the White House in 1948, the sitting president’s party lost House seats 13 times. The exceptions were in 1998, when Democrats benefited from a robust economy and a backlash against the Republican drive to impeach President Bill Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair, and in 2002, when Republicans capitalized on President George W. Bush’s post-Sept. 11 fight against terrorism.
So both parties expect the Democrats’ House majority, now 258 seats, to shrink. Less clear is whether the highest unemployment in a generation will expand the loss to well beyond the average, 22 seats in each midterm election since 1950.
After matching data on joblessness and elections, Seth Masket, a political scientist at the University of Denver, asserted in a recent blog post, “There’s not much evidence unemployment has any effect at all.”
Reagan-era Republicans lost 26 House seats amid the high joblessness of the 1982 recession. Yet Democrats lost a comparable number under Mr. Truman in 1950, as did Republicans under Mr. Bush in 2006, when unemployment remained low.
Name of source: Courier-Journal (Kentucky, Indiana)
SOURCE: Courier-Journal (Kentucky, Indiana) (12-1-00)
Left behind after the 1861 Battle of Rowlett’s Station near Munfordville, Ky., the monument was recently rescued and restored following decades of exposure that nearly destroyed it at Cave Hill Cemetery, where it has rested since 1867.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the National Cemetery Administration selected the Frazier based on its Civil War exhibit plans, controlled environment, financial stability, annual visitation and proximity to Cave Hill National Cemetery.
“It’s a very good spot for it,” said Sara Amy Leach, senior historian with the cemetery association, who has said the monument is of great national significance, especially as the nation prepares to mark the war’s 150th anniversary...
Name of source: WSJ
Yet despite this country's well-known love of Cadbury PLC chocolate—sometimes called the taste of British childhood—Felicity Loudon's battle to preserve the company's independence is more of a Quixotic fight rather than a populist cause.
Ms. Loudon, an interior designer and Mr. Cadbury's great-great granddaughter, is opposed to Kraft's proposed acquisition on the basis of both style and substance.
But amid rising costs to fulfill its mission, the trust is also taking on an unlikely role in a major international takeover battle: Though it could involve shouldering $10 billion more in debt, the trust's board has pushed Hershey to consider outbidding Kraft Foods Inc.'s $16.5 billion offer for British rival Cadbury PLC despite initial resistance from Hershey management, people familiar with the matter say...
... LeRoy Zimmerman, chairman of the Milton Hershey School & School Trust and a company director, declined to comment on a possible Hershey bid for Cadbury. But he did say that ensuring that the boarding school can survive and accept more students has driven the board to focus aggressively on increasing the trust's income. The trust, which controls about 30% of Hershey's stock outstanding and 80% of the voting rights, is "as demanding about [our assets'] performance as anyone on Wall Street," he said. "We just have a long-term perspective."
Chocolate baron Milton Hershey founded the school 100 years ago for orphan boys, declaring that it should operate forever. Initially, a handful of students lived and studied in the house where Mr. Hershey was born. According to the original deed of trust, they were to learn math, science, agriculture, gardening and trades that would enable them to earn a living.
The school expanded quickly, and Mr. Hershey converted nearby barns and farmhouses into classrooms, woodworking s+hops and dormitories. In 1918, he stashed about $60 million of the chocolate company's stock in a trust to benefit the school. By 1937, more than 1,000 students were attending, according to "Milton Hershey School," a book by James D. McMahon Jr.
"It was pretty much a chore-centered life that we lived, along with school," says J. Bruce McKinney, 72 years old, who enrolled in 1948 when he was 11.
By the fall of 1968, the school had expanded to nearly 1,600 students and was including nonwhite boys. In the next decade, girls and children from low-income households who didn't get adequate care at home were also admitted...
The action triggered chaos in the isolated country on Monday and Tuesday, according to news outlets in South Korea that specialize in obtaining information from the North. Millions of people rushed to banks and offices of the ruling Workers Party to get information, make exchanges or trade existing North Korean won for euros and U.S. dollars.
North Korea has issued new currency four previous times since it was founded in 1948, most recently in 1992, usually at times of financial distress. But it has also used new currency issues as a political weapon, by limiting how much can be converted or distributing new notes unevenly, says Marcus Noland, a senior research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington.
"It's basically a way of rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies," Mr. Noland says.
Name of source: Talking Point Memo
SOURCE: Talking Point Memo (12-1-09)
But Cheney rejected any suggestion that Obama had to decide on a new strategy for Afghanistan because the one employed by the previous administration failed.
Cheney was asked if he thinks the Bush administration bears any responsibility for the disintegration of Afghanistan because of the attention and resources that were diverted to Iraq. "I basically don't," he replied without elaborating.
Name of source: Salon
SOURCE: Salon (12-1-09)
Name of source: Time
SOURCE: Time (12-2-09)
It is Europe's dirty secret that the list of nuclear-capable countries extends beyond those — Britain and France — who have built their own weapons. Nuclear bombs are stored on air-force bases in Italy, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands — and planes from each of those countries are capable of delivering them. The Federation of American Scientists believes that there are some 200 B61 thermonuclear gravity bombs scattered across these four countries. Under a NATO agreement struck during the Cold War, the bombs, which are technically owned by the U.S., can be transferred to the control of a host nation's air force in times of conflict. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Dutch, Belgian, Italian and German pilots remain ready to engage in nuclear war.
These weapons are more than an anachronism or historical oddity. They are a violation of the spirit of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — the 1968 agreement governing nuclear weapons that acts as one of the linchpins of global security by providing a legal restraint on the nuclear ambitions of rogue states. Because "nuclear burden-sharing," as the dispersion of B61s in Europe is called, was set up before the NPT came into force, it is technically legal. But as signatories to the NPT, the four European countries and the U.S. have pledged "not to receive the transfer ... of nuclear weapons or control over such weapons directly, or indirectly." That, of course, is precisely what the long-standing NATO arrangement entails.
Name of source: The Press (UK)
SOURCE: The Press (UK) (1-12-09)
A ten-year project aimed at discovering the site of the battle of Fulford, which preceded the better known battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings, has uncovered more than 1,000 pieces of iron.
Historian Chas Jones, who led the research, said the items included arrowheads and axe heads, but there was also strong evidence of metal working indicating the reprocessing of weapons used in the battle.
“We found several ‘smithing hearth bottoms’ – the remains of the molten metal which dribbles down during the reprocessing of the weaponry ironwork,” he said.
“You could say this was York’s first metal recycling centre!”
Mr Jones said the finds were currently undergoing X-ray fluorescence examination at the University of York’s Department of Archaeology, at Kings Manor.
“The X-ray fluorescence allows the precise metal composition to be determined and this will help eliminate modern iron alloys and match related pieces of metal,” he said.
“The iron finds support the idea that metal was gathered and recycled in the area just behind where the fighting took place, after the battle was over.
“Scandinavian experts suggest what we have found are items that the Norse victors at Fulford were in the process of manufacturing into other pieces when the Battle Of Stamford Bridge took place, and the site was abandoned.
“This is why we think so much material has been left behind.”
He said the recycling area was close to the proposed access route into the 720-home Germany Beck housing development at Fulford.
But he said this had been raised at a public inquiry and dismissed by developers before the scheme was given outline planning permission. “The next stage will be a detailed planning application,” he said.
He said the ten-year project had involved members of the Fulford Battlefield Society and of the York Metal Detectorists Club, and a detailed report on the results of the project would be published in February.
Name of source: Britannica Blog
SOURCE: Britannica Blog (12-1-09)
Related data from the Department of Energy (based on Census Data) in the chart show that the percentage of households owning two or more vehicles increased from 34.8% in 1970 to 57% in 2000, and has likely increased since then.
What’s most impressive though is the comparison of the living standards of households living below the poverty line in 2005 to all U.S. households in 1971. By almost every measure of appliance ownership, poor American households in 2005 had much better living conditions than the average American household in 1971, since poor households in 2005 had much higher ownership rates for basic appliances like clothes dryers, dishwashers, color TVs, and air conditioners than all households did in 1971.
As Steve Horwitz concludes “Life for the average American is better today than 35 years ago, life for poor Americans is much better than it was 35 years ago, and poor Americans today largely live better than the average American did 35 years ago. Hard to square with a narrative of economic stagnation or decline.”
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-2-09)
A doctor examining the 89-year-old said Demjanjuk had a fever which continued to rise despite medication and the judge decided it was not safe to transport him from hospital. to court.
Ralph Alt, presiding, said the trial would resume on 21 December.
Wednesday was to have featured more testimony, which began on Tuesday, from some of the approximately 40 relatives of victims who have joined the trial as co-plaintiffs as allowed under the German legal system.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (11-29-09)
The small central African country applied last year to join the group of 54 nations, all of which - aside from Mozambique - have historic links to Britain dating back to the colonial era.
Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has lobbied hard for his country to join the Commonwealth as part of a policy of moving towards the Anglophone world and away from the influence of France.
Rwanda was both a Belgian and French colony, but Mr Kagame has a long-running dispute with Paris over its alleged complicity in the 1994 genocide, which only ended when Mr Kagame's rebel army took control of the country.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (12-1-09)
Sark’s parliament, the Chief Pleas, used to be made up of hereditary members. It voted in February to switch to an elected chamber.
Opponents led by Sir Frederick and Sir David challenged the reform, arguing that it kept the “relics of feudalism” because two key members were still not elected.
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (12-31-69)
Finland lost the war, but its resistance against the massive Soviet war machine with its white-clad "ghost army" stunned Moscow, which had planned to occupy its western neighbor within a few weeks, into accepting peace.
Some 27,000 Finnish soldiers were killed and 43,000 wounded in a population of 3.7 million. The Soviet Union put its losses at 217,500 dead or wounded.
Many froze as temperatures dipped to as low as minus 49 degrees Fahrenheit (-45 C) during the three months of hostilities — one of the coldest wars in history. The extreme weather caused frostbite and hallucinations that forced a drop in guard duty from two hours to 30 minutes.
Viljo Kontio, 95, served in a signals battalion near the border when Soviet troops invaded.
"Grenades rained on us and the Russians came straight at us in open areas. In the thick forest, the Soviet boys didn't dare fight because they feared the snow-camouflaged Finns," Kontio said. "I saw with my own eyes how the Russians motivated their fighters differently to us — withdrawing soldiers were coldly shot."
The Soviet losses and unsuccessful campaign forced Stalin to reassess his plans and agree to a truce, leading to a peace treaty signed by Finland and the Soviet Union on March 12, 1940.
The question of who began the war had been contentious until the breakup of the Soviet Union when Russian historians admitted Stalin was to blame.
On Nov. 26, 1939, Soviet Foreign Minister V.M. Molotov accused Finnish troops of firing at the Russians across the 800-mile (1,300-kilometer) border near the village of Mainila, in southeastern Finland.
The Finns have consistently denied firing the "Mainila Shots," and Russian historians now acknowledge that the Red Army fired the shots and Stalin used the alleged incident as a pretext to invade Finland four days later.
Though the Russians were well equipped, many historians considered their strategy and planning as poor. But after three months of holding off Soviet forces, which at the outset numbered 450,000, the Finns began to tire due to a lack of adequate backup and ammunition.
Field Marshal C. G. Mannerheim, the commander of the Finnish troops, rejected an offer of assistance from the Western powers, saying it was "too little, too late," and recommended that Finland negotiate peace after a Soviet offensive in March 1940.
The peace treaty forced Finland to cede 11 percent of its land, mostly large areas of eastern Karelia, and more than 400,000 Karelians were resettled in Finland.
Monday's ceremonies included wreath laying at tombs and graveyards, exhibitions, special events in schools and a memorial service in Helsinki Cathedral attended by President Tarja Halonen.
SOURCE: AP (12-31-69)
Though you would never know it from the unremarkable view, thousands of men died here 145 years ago in one of the fiercest fights of the Civil War.
Confederate Private Sam Watkins, wounded in the battle that July day in 1864, recalled bodies, horses, wagons and cannon "piled indiscriminately everywhere" and "streams of blood."
"'Twas a picture of carnage and death," he wrote. It was a day and a place he would never forget.
But Atlanta did forget. Since the war, the city has sprawled out in every direction with buildings, roads and traffic, paving over this battleground and others.
Today most people assume any archaeological record of the clash of two enormous armies more than 160,000 men has been obliterated by modernity.
Not so fast.
A small but growing number of Georgia archaeologists and history buffs are starting to use high-tech gear, ground-penetrating radar, metal detectors, new software programs and detective-style techniques to detail with amazing precision what happened when U.S. Gen. William T. Sherman made good on his promise to "make Georgia howl."
Decades ago, archaeology was about spades, notebooks and educated guesses. You found a field where you thought something might have been, and you dug pits. Trying to piece together what happened on a battlefield for several hours of one day more than a century ago seemed preposterous.
This was especially true in metro Atlanta, where bulldozers have been working overtime for decades. But now this loose group of experts call them Civil War CSI are on the case. They still use historical records and spades, but they also use a whole lot more.
Garrett Silliman, a 35-year-old archaeologist at an environmental consulting firm, has started giving talks to experts in the area and in other states on new approaches that are helping find new Civil War sites and new information in this megalopolis of drywall and asphalt.
"A lot of this technology has been around for years, but now it's a lot cheaper and easier to use," he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "For some of us, it's becoming standard operating procedure."
The technology includes:
GIS: geographic information systems technology detailed mapping software that can give a three-dimensional view of an area, and impose old Civil War maps on modern maps.
GPS: global positioning system, which uses satellite to pinpoint the location of a found object or entrenchment.
Ground-penetrating radar. Developed by the U.S. Army to find enemy tunnels during the Vietnam War, the technology used to require a truck and many people to operate it. Today, one person can carry it on his back. The radar can find disturbances many feet underground, revealing Civil War earthworks or battles.
Soil and relic testing. Lab testing can give detailed reports on everything from the age of an item to traces of blood.
Metal detectors that are far more precise than the clunky ones popular with Civil War relic hunters.
Several Georgians are embracing these new tools.
William Drummond, a professor at Georgia Tech's College of Architecture, has spent years promoting GIS technology for use in identifying, analyzing and preserving battlefields.
Dan Elliott, an archaeologist who has been doing Revolutionary War research and some Civil War research in coastal and central Georgia, was trained to use ground-penetrating radar about eight years ago. At the time, only four people in the state knew how to use it — and almost no one was using it for archaeology. Today, more than 20 people in the state are trained and it is a common tool for archaeologists.
"Basically we're stealing ideas that medical technology had 20 years ago," he said. "It gives you Superman eyes to see under the ground."
Lu Ann De Cunzo, president of the Society for Historical Archaeology and a professor at the University of Delaware, said these technological advances have given archaeologists an exactitude no one could have imagined only a few years ago.
"We can really fine-tune what we are seeing," she said.
The precision this technology offers is startling. To demonstrate, Silliman picked up a small plastic bag on his desk. Inside was a bullet that he recently recovered from a site at Tanyard Creek in Buckhead. Through global positioning he knew the exact location where the bullet was found. Examining its markings, he was able to tell it was a British-made bullet fired from model 1853 Enfield rifle. Because it was slightly marked, he could tell it had been rammed into a gun that had been fouled, probably from being shot a lot that day. Because the lead bullet didn't have any impact marks, he could tell it had not hit a target, but probably just traveled through the air, then dropped to the ground. Military records showed fighting at that location. Using mapping software showing modern Atlanta overlaid with Civil War fortifications, he traced back 1,100 to 1,300 yards the distance an Enfield-fired bullet would travel — to Rebel earthworks.
Silliman held up the little gray missile and declared confidently it was fired between 2 and 4 p.m. on July 20, 1864, by a retreating Confederate soldier. The Rebel missed whatever he was trying to hit.
A reporter asked Silliman if he was sure.
Silliman smiled slightly.
"Plus or minus 120 feet," he said.
Sitting in his small but ordered office in Smyrna, Silliman pulled up on his computer a topographic map of modern Atlanta. He then superimposed historical maps of Union and Confederate defenses, soldiers' camps and where battles took place. Red lines signified Confederate areas; blue showed Union areas. Purple showed areas that have been surveyed by archaeologists. Very little of metro Atlanta was purple.
Silliman, who with his lanky build and goatee could pass for a Union corporal, hopes to see that change with new technology.
He said for years traditional archaeology has focused on small sites that were inhabited for long periods, such as Native American villages. The Civil War, he said, requires a different approach especially in Georgia. Silliman, who was raised in New Hampshire but earned his graduate degree at Georgia State University, is the resident Civil War expert at Edwards-Pitman, a subcontractor that does environmental and historical assessments for companies and government agencies that are planning to develop land. Most of his work is in metro Atlanta for the Georgia Department of Transportation or agencies looking to see if any area has historical significance. Silliman insists that huge swaths of metro Atlanta do. The whole area for about a month in 1864 was one gigantic war zone.
"Essentially everything from here up to Chattanooga was battlefield," he said.
That includes the low hill near the Moreland exit, and hundreds of other places where the two armies fought around Atlanta. Under the earth, evidence of the fighting survives.
Douglas Scott, an archaeology professor in Nebraska nationally known as one of the pioneers in battlefield archaeology, said this technological transformation of archaeology "really has exploded, pun intended, in the last three or four years."
He said battlefield archaeologists in Europe, the eastern United States and the West have started using these tools, and now the South is embracing them. He said historical accounts, just like eyewitness testimony in a criminal case, couldn't always be trusted.
"There's a precision that goes with finding stuff on the ground," he said. "Think of historians as detectives; these tools help us find the forensic evidence."
SOURCE: AP (12-1-09)
U.S. honor guards carried the four American flag-draped aluminum cases holding the remains onto the U.S. military transport plane at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. The remains were headed to a lab in Hawaii for forensic testing.
One set of remains was recovered by joint excavation teams in the northern province of Ninh Binh over the past month. The other three — one from northern Lang Son province and the others from the Central Highlands, were handed over by Vietnamese citizens, said Ron Ward, spokesman for the U.S. Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command detachment in Hanoi.
Name of source: MTI
SOURCE: MTI (1-12-09)
Tibor Paluch, archaeologist of Szeged's Ferenc Mora Museum, said that the relics - thin gold sheets to cover the eyes and mouth of a dead person - had been found in one of eight early graves.
The archaeologist said that the purpose of applying the covers was to protect the soul of the dead. He added that warriors had been buried in six graves, which included the sculls of their horses.
Hungarian experts have only once found similar relics before: at an excavation near Eger (N) in the 1960s, Paluch said.
Name of source: Reuters
SOURCE: Reuters (12-1-09)
The mysterious killing of Stalin's rival Sergei Kirov on December 1, 1934 has remained one of the Kremlin's most closely guarded riddles for decades because many of the key documents were immediately classified by the secret police.
Kirov, a fiery Bolshevik revolutionary whose popularity among ordinary Communist Party members by far outshone that of Stalin, was shot dead in a corridor near his office in Leningrad, now St Petersburg, by a man called Leonid Nikolayev.
Historians have long suspected that Stalin had Kirov killed to eliminate a rival and a potential threat.
But documents released on Tuesday by Russia's domestic intelligence agency -- including Nikolayev's diary, published with the permission of his son -- painted a picture of a disillusioned Communist Party functionary acting alone, out of bitterness and revenge.
SOURCE: Reuters (11-30-09)
A debt crisis in Dubai has undercut investor confidence in the brash emirate's ambitions. It remains to be seen whether the UAE's oil-producing powerhouse Abu Dhabi will seize the chance to puncture the dreams of its freewheeling neighbour.
Balloons in the green, white, red and black of the UAE flag adorn myriad shopping malls for Wednesday's independence anniversary. Streets and trees are ablaze with fairy lights.
But beyond the fanfare, many in the seven emirates that united in 1971 when the British departed will be wondering what the future holds, especially for Dubai's bold attempts to build itself into a glittering financial, trade and tourism magnet.
Name of source: The Washington Times
SOURCE: The Washington Times (12-1-09)
The end of full-time, on-site access will likely ignite complaints in Congress, with insiders from both parties arguing over whether the George W. Bush or the Obama administration is responsible.
Republicans are worried by the previously undisclosed agreement between the Obama administration and the Kremlin in October, which formalizes the inspectors' departure this Saturday. This, they warn, would cripple Washington's ability to police Moscow's compliance with agreed reductions in its nuclear arsenal.
Democrats, on the other hand, insist they were "stuck" with an agreement reached late last year between the Bush administration and Moscow but not made public. This, they said, left the Obama team no choice.
Name of source: CNSNews
SOURCE: CNSNews (11-30-09)
Those are the results of a poll conducted by "60 Minutes" and Vanity Fair magazine and issued Sunday.
The radio host was picked by 26 percent of those who responded, followed by Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck at 11 percent. Actual politicians -- former Vice President Dick Cheney and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin -- were the choice of 10 percent each.
Asked to choose from among seven presidents, Americans tapped John F. Kennedy as the one they'd like to see added to Mount Rushmore. Kennedy polled 29 percent, with Ronald Reagan second at 20 percent.
Name of source: ANI
SOURCE: ANI (12-31-69)
Voetboog was a three-mast flyboat, which left the port of Batavia (now Jakarta) for The Netherlands with a 109-member crew on board, the expedition leader Attila K. Szaloky told MTI, a Hungarian news agency.
Owned by the Dutch East India Company, the Fluyt ship carried silk, spices, tea, Japanese and Chinese porcelain as well as nearly 180,000 pieces of Dutch golden ducats.
"The estimated value of the wreckage is about 1 billion dollars," said Szaloky.
Sailing on the Atlantic, the ship was probably caught by a storm and its only chance to get home was to stick close to the Brazilian coast.
For reasons unknown, however, it sank near the coast of Pernambuco state on May 29, 1700.
The team of Octopus Association for Marine Archaeology found the wreckage in October 2008, but announced the discovery only after the first phase of examinations came to an end.
The objects found in the depths suggest that it is indeed the wreckage of Voetboog, which is lying on the seabed under several metres thick of sediment.
"Over the past 309 years, the ship has virtually disintegrated," Szaloky said.
The finds will be brought to surface and conserved in line with Brazilian law.
Name of source: NPR
SOURCE: NPR (12-1-09)
There are many questions; fewer answers.
More important, many Democrats are demanding a say in the process. Only five times in the nation's history, and not since World War II, has Congress used its power to declare war.
In the past half-century, U.S. troops have been fighting, and dying, in faraway places like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan — all without a declaration of war by Congress. And as familiar as it is to hear a president sending Americans overseas to fight, it is equally familiar to hear lawmakers demanding a say in the process. And that goes back as far as Vietnam.