Breaking NewsFollow Breaking News updates on RSS and Twitter
This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used.
This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used. Because most of our readers read the NYT we usually do not include the paper's stories in HIGHLIGHTS.
Name of source: New York Times
SOURCE: New York Times (1-10-10)
So, with a wife’s assent, began a famous challenge to Hitler. At the height of the Nazi victories, Count Helmuth James von Moltke invited about two dozen foes of Nazism, many of them aristocrats like himself, to imagine a new, better postwar Germany.
For him, his wife’s participation was essential, as she remembered the conversation in “Courageous Hearts: Women and the Anti-Hitler Plot of 1944,” a 1997 book by Dorothee von Meding.
The dissidents met at the count’s ancestral estate, Kreisau, which Bismarck had given his legendary great-great-uncle, Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, for his victories over Austria and France.
It was a perilous act of resistance. As many as half of the dissidents were later executed, some for actively plotting to kill Hitler, others for thinking the unthinkable: they had marshaled logical, moral and religious arguments to question the legitimacy of the Third Reich. Their high-minded planning for a future without Nazis angered a regime that expected to endure 1,000 years.
Mrs. Moltke, who disdained the title of countess, was the last living active participant in the group. She died of a viral infection on Jan. 1 at her home in Norwich, Vt., her son Helmuth said. She was 98.
In his book “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” (1960), William L. Shirer said the Kreisau circle had provided “the intellectual, spiritual, ethical, philosophical and, to some extent, political ideas of the resistance to Hitler.”
They initially rejected violence, if only for fear of making Hitler a martyr. But as the killing went on, support for assassinating him grew. Indeed, military conspirators were pushing ahead. At 12:40 p.m. on July 20, 1944, a bomb they had planted in a suitcase beneath a table at which Hitler was sitting at the Wolf’s Lair field headquarters exploded. Hitler suffered only minor wounds.
Mrs. Moltke said she believed that her husband would have backed that assassination attempt — had he not already been in jail for warning a friend, Dr. Otto Kiep, who was plotting violence against Hitler, that Dr. Kiep risked imminent arrest. Count Moltke was never released. He was hanged, most likely by piano wire, in January 1945 after Gestapo agents had linked the assassination attempt at Wolf’s Lair to the Kreisau circle.
In fact, there is strong evidence that Count Moltke was in contact with the July 20 conspirators. Andreas Hermes, one of the few ringleaders who were not executed, told The New York Times in July 1945 that he “vividly” recalled Count Moltke’s participation.
Women who joined their husbands to oppose Hitler treaded the same dangerous ground as the men. Mrs. Moltke could have faced the death penalty simply for serving food and drinks to the conspirators. Her husband relied on her first impressions of people to make life-and-death judgments. She contributed ideas, particularly on legal issues, and her expertise.
In an enduring contribution, she gathered up Kreisau circle documents and letters from her husband and hid them in the estate’s beehives. In 1990 she published them as “Letters to Freya.” The papers have proved valuable to scholars for their gripping portrayal of heroic, almost certainly futile resistance, as well as for their glimpses at daily life in the Third Reich. In her later years, when the German government and others came to recognize her contributions, Mrs. Moltke expressed gratitude on behalf of other resistance widows as well. “We were all wives of our husbands,” she said.
Mrs. Moltke’s son said in an interview that the only surviving wife of a Kreisau circle member is Clarita von Trott, whose husband, Adam, played a central part in the July 20 plot and was executed in 1944.
Freya Deichmann, whose father was a banker, was born in Cologne on March 29, 1911. She attended idealistic work camps that brought young people of all classes together to share ideas and dreams. At 18, while on a vacation to Austria’s lake district, she met Count Moltke.
They married two years later, in 1931. He studied in Germany and Britain to become an international lawyer. In 1939, he was drafted to work in military intelligence. His boss, Adm. Wilhelm Canaris, a covert foe of Hitler, encouraged him to use his legal and political expertise to save Jews and curb German atrocities. On trips abroad, he met with Allied officials to discuss a possible coup.
Mrs. Moltke was haunted by the first time she saw Hitler in 1931 or 1932. She had noticed a man in a dark movie theater, she told Ms. von Meding in “Courageous Hearts.” “I thought to myself, what terrifying eyes,” she said.
When the house lights went on, she saw who he was.
Mrs. Moltke earned a doctorate in law from Humboldt University in Berlin in 1935. She then took over management of Kreisau, then in eastern Germany and now part of Poland. The Kreisau circle began informally among friends, then became more serious as members assembled in small groups in Berlin to discuss specific subjects, like a new constitution. Larger meetings at Kreisau occurred in the spring and fall of 1942 and the spring of 1943.
The circle and the Moltke family benefited from the immense prestige of Count Moltke’s military ancestor. Another protection was the fervent pro-Nazi views of the manager of the estate; his local stature helped contain public denunciations of a family that refused to say “Heil Hitler.”
Mrs. Moltke’s letters to Count Moltke in prison concerned farm matters, like the wisdom of keeping a pair of ducks. She told her husband that the Gestapo officer who read all his letters had spoken nicely to her on a visit.
“They’re not really so bad,” she ventured.
“Except when they tear out your fingernails,” Count Moltke answered (though he was not tortured in that way, he said).
After the war, Mrs. Moltke moved to South Africa and did social work, but she grew to hate the country’s official system of racial segregation and eventually returned to Germany.
She moved to Vermont in 1960 to join the philosopher Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, whose wife had died. They had met in the youth camp movement and, after reuniting, remained companions until his death in 1973.
In 1998, she helped turn Kreisau — Krzyzowa in Polish — into a center to promote understanding between Germany and Poland. In 2004, a foundation named after her was set up to support it.
Besides her son Helmuth, Mrs. Moltke is survived by six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Another son, Konrad, died in 2005.
The letters Mrs. Moltke hid in the beehives remain poignant. In the last one he wrote before his execution, Count Moltke said he would “gladly accompany” his wife “a bit further on this earth.”
“But then I would need a new task from God,” he continued. “The task for which God made me is done.”
Name of source: Discovery News
SOURCE: Discovery News (1-8-10)
The colorful mollusk shells, which date to 50,000 years ago, were recently found in Murcia Province, Spain. Since the shells were painted 10,000 years before modern humans are believed to have settled in Europe, this leaves little doubt that Neanderthals made the still eye-catching pieces.
Humans in Africa at the time created comparable objects, so lead author Joao Zilhao and his team believe both groups of hominids were on equal intellectual footing.
Although most of the stained shells were perforated, the researchers think the holes occurred naturally, and that Neanderthals preferentially gathered the necklace-ready objects on nearby beaches.
SOURCE: Discovery News (1-4-10)
This question has puzzled dinosaur experts studying the 3.3-foot-long dino Lesothosaurus diagnosticus, but the mystery may have just been solved.
Fabien Knoll, Kevin Padian and Armand de Ricqles studied the remains of Lesothosaurus and other fabrosaurid dinosaurs. (Maybe it's just me, but I like the fact that a scientist named Fabien studies fabrosaurids.) These were beaked, plant-eating bipedal dinosaurs that lived from the Early to Middle Jurassic Period.
The findings, published in this month's Gondwana Research, support the fact that some dinosaurs lived fast and died young. Another famous dinosaur in the Kurt Cobain-type group is Tyrannosaurus rex. Although T. rex was one of the planet's largest meat eaters, it too likely lived fast before biting the dust at a relatively young age- 28 or so.
SOURCE: Discovery News (1-7-10)
A paper in the February issue of Medical Hypotheses argues that these "dinosaurs" could very well, in fact, have been birds. The group includes what are now called troodontids and oviraptorids.
All birds are technically avian dinosaurs, but there's still controversy over exactly how and when the first actual birds emerged.
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (1-9-10)
Giuliani somehow neglected to mention the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as he was contrasting President Barack Obama's handling of terrorism with that of Bush in light of the failed Christmas Day attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound flight. The Sept. 11 attacks toppled New York's World Trade Center, killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania and earned Giuliani accolades as "America's mayor."
That statement set off waves of protest in the blogosphere. And it echoed a recent claim by former Bush press secretary Dana Perino. GOP strategist Mary Matalin also recently said the Bush administration "inherited the most tragic attack on our soil in our nation's history," implying that the 9/11 attacks resulted from mistakes by the Clinton administration.
SOURCE: AP (1-8-10)
Though sure to be derided by the church's many critics, its followers say the materials amount to an opportunity to deepen understanding of the religion and to release the last known unpublished Hubbard works dealing with Scientology and Dianetics.
The new materials were announced in a New Year's celebration at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles that was broadcast to churches around the world last week and include 1,020 lectures and hundreds of corresponding booklets from courses and other sessions with Scientology ministers from 1953 to 1961. They include discussions of how Hubbard arrived at the principles of Dianetics and his research on everything from decision-making to personal responsibility.
SOURCE: AP (1-6-10)
Starbucks says it is working with Mexico to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. It says the mugs have been removed from its shop shelves pending the discussions.
The mugs show images of the Aztec calendar stone and the Pyramid of the Moon from the pre-Aztec ruins of Teotihuacan, near Mexico City.
The government archaeological agency said Wednesday it will decide by next week whether Starbucks should pay any fees.
A company statement says the supplier of the mugs felt it made good faith efforts to offer payment and obtain permits.
Name of source: BBC
SOURCE: BBC (1-9-10)
Or so the conspiracy theory goes.
The theory that has developed on the web since 9/11 is that US intelligence services are manufacturing the Bin Laden statements to create an evil bogeyman, to justify the so-called war on terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and back at home.
Bruce Riedel, who chaired President Barack Obama's Afghanistan/Pakistan policy review, and who has seen the intelligence on Bin Laden, says the trail has not so much gone cold as "frozen over".
Numerous audio and video statements purporting to be from Bin Laden have been released, but their authenticity has been continually questioned.
Planning chiefs must now reconsider an application to redevelop the 19th Century warehouse on Queen Street.
It was accepted a conservation area architect should have been consulted, and that a report did not include the costs for alternative schemes.
Heritage campaigners who mounted the challenge have welcomed the decision.
The legal bid to stop the Athletic Stores site from being torn down and rebuilt was brought by the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society.
Carlisle Property Developments Ltd wants to transform it into a nine-storey complex with 69 apartments, street level shops and basement parking facilities.
The Society challenged the decision to pass the application by claiming Planning Service failed to consider the price of refurbishment work on a building located within the Belfast City Centre Conservation Area.
The Ben Uri London Jewish Museum of Art bought the work, titled Apocalypse in Lilac, Capriccio, for a bargain £26,000 at an auction in Paris last year.
The gallery bought the work in a secret operation designed to avoid alerting the world's big galleries to the existence of the painting.
It will be unveiled at the Osborne Samuel gallery, in Mayfair, on Friday.
The 1945 work is one of only 10 by Chagall, created between 1938 and 1945, to feature a Jewish Christ.
SOURCE: BBC (1-7-10)
The new court would speed up the way genocide cases are tried where the suspect is on French territory but the process involves several jurisdictions.
The unit is to include linguists and specialists with historical knowledge.
French authorities are currently hearing several cases against Rwandan genocide suspects living in France.
The study, published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, suggests it helped to protect against eye disease.
The key appears to be lead salts contained in the make-up.
At very low levels, salts produce nitric oxide, which boosts the immune system to fight off bacteria which can cause eye infection.
For Dr Vito Franco, from Palermo University, she shows clear signs of a build-up of fatty acids under the skin, caused by too much cholesterol.
He also suggests there seems to be a lipoma, or benign fatty-tissue tumour, in her right eye.
Dr Franco says his medical examinations reveal more than artistic viewings.
SOURCE: BBC (1-7-10)
David Ross, 51, a writer and convenor of the Society of William Wallace suffered a heart attack at his home in East Kilbride on Saturday.
He was known as the "biker historian" as he visited historic sites across Scotland on his motorcycle.
First Minister Alex Salmond is among those who have paid tribute to Mr Ross.
The Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust owns documents of voyages by 18th and 19th Century explorers such as Captain Cook and Matthew Flinders.
The trust says the money raised will help safeguard the treasures which remain in its collection.
The collection is estimated to sell for £200,000 in Edinburgh next Wednesday.
Tests aimed at reproducing the blast appear to undermine the case's central forensic link, based on a tiny fragment identified as part of a bomb timer.
The tests suggest the fragment, which linked the attack to Megrahi, would not have survived the mid-air explosion.
Newsnight has been reviewing that evidence, and has exposed serious doubts about the forensics used to identify the fragment as being part of a trigger circuit board.
The fragment was found three weeks after the attack. For months it remained unnoticed and unremarked, but eventually it was to shape the entire investigation.
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-9-10)
Avenir de la langue française (Future of the French language) and eight other groups called on the government to put a stop to the Anglo-onslaught in a pair of opinion pieces in two national daily newspapers on Friday.
As France is embroiled in a heated government-led debate about national identity, the group cited a recent poll suggesting that 80 per cent of the French see their language as crucial to national cohesion.
France introduced the "Toubon" law in 1994, making the use of French obligatory in official government publications, in state-funded schools, in advertisements and French workplaces. This means, for example, that all English words on billboards come with a French translation in a footnote.
However, according to the groups, companies have exploited loopholes in the law to "Anglicise" a host of well-known shop and brand names. Thus, the supermarket chain Auchon has changed the names of its smaller stores from Atac to "Simply Market".
Independent Russian investigators say they have uncovered crucial new evidence which finally reveals how the world's first man in space died aged just 34.
The study claims Gagarin's death during a routine training flight in 1968 was caused by his panicked reaction after realising an air vent in his cockpit was open.
He threw his MiG-15 fighter jet into such a steep dive that he blacked out and crashed into a forest below killing himself and his co-pilot.
Igor Kuznetsov, a retired Soviet air force colonel, believes his findings will end years of conspiracy theories ranging from claims Gagarin was drunk to allegations the accident was staged by jealous Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.
He has spent the past nine years with a group of aviation specialists, piecing together the circumstances using modern accident investigation techniques.
They were used to illustrate an article about Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist whose home was broken into by an Islamist armed with an axe a week ago.
It printed six out of the 12 drawings that infuriated Muslims around the world when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten first published them in 2005.
Several of the drawings were seen as linking Islam and its revered prophet to terrorism and suicide bombings, with Westergaard's cartoon showing him wearing a turban in the shape of a bomb.
On Jan 2, an axe-wielding 28-year-old man broke into Westergaard's home screaming for "revenge" and "blood". Police - alerted by the cartoonist who had hidden in a panic room - shot and arrested him.
Tens of millions of the Liberty Head coins were made between 1883 and 1912 but the design changed to depict an American Indian in 1913.
However, five nickels with the old design were secretly were made at the Philadelphia Mint that year and eventually sold to collectors.
The coin became famous when it was featured in an episode of Hawaii Five-O entitled The $100,000 Nickel in 1973.
Even the admission that the records exist is a breakthrough as previous Japanese governments had steadfastly refused to admit that they had survived the war. The documents will detail the 200,000 Koreans who worked without pay at mines and factories and list the amount each should have received.
Before it was elected into power in August, the Democratic Party of Japan promised that it would "address the POW problem" as well as issues surrounding Asian women forced into prostitution for the Imperial Japanese Army and people from neighbouring Asian nations forced to work as slave labourers.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-7-10)
The multi-millionaire British composer had been due to sell The Absinthe Drinker at Christie’s in New York in November 2006 and donate the proceeds to his charity, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Art Foundation.
However a judge halted the sale on the eve of the auction after Professor Julius Schoeps claimed Paul Von Mendelssohn Bartholdy, a Jewish banker from Berlin, had sold the painting in 1934 as a "consequence of Nazi persecution".
Mr Von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, the nephew of the composer Felix Mendelssohn, had been effectively coerced into selling the Picasso in a depressed art market, along with his collection of Van Gogh, Manet and Picasso paintings, before he died in 1935.
Last night both sides announced that the long running dispute, which has cost hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees as it went through the US courts, had been settled. The terms of the deal were confidential.
A spokesman for the composer's foundation said the trustees were “pleased” that “Professor Julius Schoeps and all other heirs of Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Elsa von Kesselstatt have settled and relinquished any and all claims of title” to the painting.
Prof Schoeps and his family said in a statement: “The terms of the settlement are confidential in their entirety. The heirs now relinquish any and all claims of title to this painting.
“For the first time ever, a US court recognized that victims of Nazi persecution who lost artworks and perhaps other materials as a result of Nazi duress and pressure have a viable judicial remedy to reclaim their property without needing to establish that Nazi authorities seized it directly or ordered a particular sale.
“The Mendelssohn heirs are gratified to have participated in a case that expands dramatically the potential opportunities of Holocaust victims and heirs to recover property wrongfully taken from them.”
The settlement will clear the way for a sale of the masterpiece, with all the funds benefiting Lord Lloyd-Webber's foundation.
Picasso had painted Angel Fernandez de Soto, a Barcelona anarchist, in 1903 sitting at a table with a half-empty glass of absinthe.
Lord Lloyd-Webber had always insisted that he had “purchased the picture in good faith in 1995” for £19.3million at Sotheby’s.
At the time it was the highest price paid for a painting at auction in five years and the highest ever paid for a Picasso.
The painting was then exhibited several times at the National Gallery, and Royal Academy of Arts in London. However since the dispute blew up it was hung privately by Lord Lloyd-Webber as galleries refused to display it.
In November The Daily Telegraph revealed that Lord Lloyd-Webber had paid out nearly £1.5million from his art charity to HM Revenue and Customs to settle a long running dispute over a gift aid claim on a 19th century masterpiece.
The multi-millionaire composer has also quit the board of the Andrew Lloyd Webber Art Foundation, brought in four new trustees and set up a new standalone website following the settlement further clarifying the separation between his personal interests and those of the charity.
The charity’s accounts show that it paid out £2.3million in legal and professional fees in 2007 and 2008 fighting the Picasso claim and the gift aid case.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-6-10)
"Europe will pay dear for having left its spiritual foundations and that this is the last period that will not continue for decades when it may still have a chance to do something about it," he said.
"The Muslims definitely have many reasons to be heading here. They also have a religious one – to bring the spiritual values of faith in God to the pagan environment of Europe, to its atheistic style of life.
"Unless the Christians wake up, life may be Islamised and Christianity will not have the strength to imprint its character on the life of people, not to say society."
The 77-year-old cardinal made his remarks in an interview to mark his retirement after spending 19 years as the leader of the Czech Church.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-7-10)
A new book written by one of Ward's descendants claims that the man buried in his grave is not Ward, but his uncle Harry, the Indpendent reports. Ward himself escaped to the Californian goldfields and then settled in Canada, where he lived a quiet life before dying in 1903, his family ebelieve.
Ward - also known as Captain Thunderbolt - was nicknamed the "gentleman bushranger" because he never used violence and was always polite to his victims.
Barry Sinclair, whose great-great-grandmother was the bushranger's mother, claims in his book, Thunderbolt: Scourge of the Ranges, that police quickly realised they had killed the wrong man but concealed their mistake – a cover-up that has continued for 140 years.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-6-10)
Polish police arrested five local men in December just days after the theft of the sign, which means "work sets you free" and is a symbol of the Holocaust committed by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Police also recovered the sign, which had been cut into three pieces to fit into the thieves' getaway car.
But on Wednesday, Polish police said two Swedes had orchestrated the attack after visiting the Nazi death camp last month.
The museum will hold celebrations on January 27 to mark the 65th anniversary of the camp's liberation by Soviet troops.
Name of source: Fox News
SOURCE: Fox News (1-9-10)
Ahmadinejad said he'd write to U.N. secretary General Ban Ki-moon to ask for compensation for damages caused to Iran during the war, and for use of its territory and resources by allied powers, the Post reported.
Britain and the Soviet Union invaded Iran on August 26, 1941, to secure oil fields and supply lines for the Soviets. The Post notes the Iranians suffered when food, fuel, and other essentials were given to the invading powers.
SOURCE: Fox News (1-7-10)
Joseph Conrad, whose "Heart of Darkness" and "Lord Jim" have been scrutinized by English students on multiple continents for decades, wrote a lesser known novel in 1897 called "The Nigger of the Narcissus."
Now, in what critics are calling a blatant act of politically correct censorship, a Netherlands-based publisher has reprinted the novel under a new name: "The N-word of the Narcissus."
Name of source: AFP
SOURCE: AFP (1-7-09)
The pottery shard with five lines of text in the proto-Canaanite script that was used by Hebrews, Philistines and others in the region was discovered 18 months ago.
The writing was decrypted by Gershon Galil of the University of Haifa who "has shown this is a Hebrew inscription," said a statement from the university.
SOURCE: AFP (1-8-10)
The site, in the southern province of Dhi Qar, is in the desert near ancient Ur, the biblical birthplace of Abraham.
Hamdani said the artefacts, which included sickles and knives, largely dated back to around 2000 BC, during the rule of King Amarsin, the third king of the third Sumerian dynasty.
SOURCE: AFP (1-6-10)
The invader is called bornavirus, a brain-infecting pathogen that was first identified in 1970s.
The disease owes its name to the German town of Borna, where a regiment of cavalry horses was wiped out in 1885 by a mysterious "heated head" disease.
Name of source: The Times of India
SOURCE: The Times of India (1-8-10)
In an official release, deputy director of archaeology and museums, S K Potnis, said that the stone was rare as it was a memorial to a brave soldier and his wife who laid down her life after a `Sati' (bride burning) ritual. The stone was erected during the reign of king Veera Harihara Rama of the Vijayanagara kingdom.
Labourers digging a pit for cremating a monkey found the stone and informed the ZP officials, who in turn contacted the archeology officials. They studied the stone and deciphered its significance.
The 1.85-metre-long and 55-cm-wide stone has sculptures in four levels. At the lowest level, a soldier is injured in a war. He and his wife, who had committed `Sati', are carried in a palanquin in the second level. This is the depiction of death, according to experts. At the third level, the couple is seen looking at each intimately, while sitting in the palanquin. This time, the carriers are women guards `approaching the gates of heaven'. At the final level, the brave couple is sitting before a Shiva Linga. They are joined by a priest, Nandi, the Sun and the Moon. This is seen as the depiction of heaven.
While veeragallus are erected in memory of brave soldiers, mastigallus represent women who sacrificed their life on the pyre of their husbands. However, this stone is unique as it is a single structure erected in the memory of a brave soldier and his wife, a `Maha Sati'.
Name of source: Times (UK)
SOURCE: Times (UK) (1-8-10)
“Le Vieux Lion,” as the British leader was known, has found new popularity thanks to two bestselling books — a fresh translation of his Second World War memoirs and a prize-winning biography.
Enthusiasm for Churchill is being fed by new interest in the war era among a generation born since France preferred to forget the trauma of the Nazi occupation. Recent war documentaries, including a spectacular colour series on the France2 channel last autumn, have brought the period closer to modern France, said François Kersaudy, author of the new biography Winston Churchill.
“The younger generation knew very little about Churchill but they are beginning to discover him through the memoirs,” Mr Kersaudy told The Times. His book, which won the Grand Prix for political biography last year, depicts the Prime Minister as a towering figure in European history.
SOURCE: Times (UK) (1-7-10)
Now that charge is to be tested by one of the men who was closest to the heart of power during the Tony Blair years — his former chief of staff Jonathan Powell. Mr Powell has signed up to write The New Machiavelli: How to Wield Power in Modern Britain for The Bodley Head, an imprint of Random House, the book group that also published Alastair Campbell’s diaries.
For 12 years after he joined Mr Blair as an adviser in 1995 the former diplomat had a ringside seat at the hub of British politics. He was witness to three election triumphs, the Northern Ireland peace process, the slide into war in Iraq, the Blair-Brown feud and the various sackings of Peter Mandelson before he stepped aside after Mr Blair’s resignation in 2007. His book will be part analysis, part insider’s account, using his own experience of the workings of government in Britain and the United States to explore where power lies and how it is deployed.
It is “basically a take-off of The Prince”, he told The Times last night. Cynics and opponents of the Blair government will rejoice. The Prince, Niccolò Machiavelli’s best-known work, is perhaps the most notorious book of political philosophy ever published, as well as the most influential. Written for Lorenzo de’ Medici, the ruler of Florence, in 1513, it became a favourite text of Napoleon, Bismarck and Stalin, among others. Banned at the time by the Roman Catholic Church, it is a strikingly unsentimental manual for maintaining autocratic rule.
SOURCE: Times (UK) (1-6-10)
Confidential correspondence between the Prince and Tony Blair about the decision to go to war should also be handed over to the Chilcot inquiry, campaigners said.
The calls follow a report that the Prince privately lobbied against the invasion of Iraq and feared the war would damage Britain’s standing in the Middle East.
The anti-monarchy campaign group Republic has made a formal submission of evidence to the inquiry about a recent report that the Prince allegedly pressed for a rethink about the plans to overthrow Saddam.
SOURCE: Times (UK) (1-7-10)
A senior Ministry of Defence civil servant said that officials held talks with leaders of the al-Mahdi Army militia about a truce from spring 2007.
The al-Mahdi Army, also known as Jaish al-Mahdi (JAM), a Shia militia loyal to the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, was heavily involved in the insurgency that erupted after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Jon Day, the Ministry of Defence’s director-general of operational policy at the time, told the Chilcot inquiry that “understandings” with the insurgents had run from June 2007.
Three months later British troops withdrew from central Basra Palace to the main coalition military base at the airport outside the city.
Name of source: Hürryet Daily News (Turkey)
SOURCE: Hürryet Daily News (Turkey) (1-7-10)
The Marmaris Chamber of Commerce, or MTO, Muğla University Archeology Department, Turunç Municipality and The Union of Tourism and Infrastructure in Marmaris and its Environs, or MARTAB, have joined forces for the project.
Speaking at the amphitheater of the 4,000-year-old city of Amos, located approximately 20 kilometers from Marmaris, MTO President Mehmet Baysal said the organization was proud to become a part of the efforts. “Amos was a part of the Caria civilization and one of the most important elements of the the Rhodes union,” he said. “We are very happy that now it can serve as a tourism hotspot.”
Baysal said no excavations will be performed in the city for now, and only landscaping works will be done, focusing on the 1,000 people capacity amphitheater.
Miray Apak, MTO’s foreign relations director, said the works in Amos were part of the chamber’s ongoing project “Where will Marmaris be in 2010.”
“We have applied for the necessary permits,” said Apak. “The construction works will start once the permits are granted, which I believe will be very soon.”
Turunç Mayor Ali Fuat Fidan, a member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, said projects for the ancient city of Amos have been on the district’s agenda for years. “Today we are making a start,” he said. “I want to thank all the parties involved in the project and promise the municipality will support them in the best way it can.”
The head of Muğla University’s archeology department, Professor Adnan Diler, who acts as a scientific consultant to the project, noted not enough attention is shown to the historical assets of the Muğla region. “The ministry and gendarmerie cannot be enough; the local officials and nongovernmental organizations should take care of these remains,” said Diler.
Diler said he was excited with the stage of the ancient amphitheater. “I will support the project as a consultant,” he added. “For years, we have argued ‘don’t do that there, declare this area a protected zone,’ but this is not the way to preserve the ancient remains. We must do the right things and show that preservation is not that difficult.”
The ruins of the ancient city of Amos can be reached from Asarcık Hill, northwest of Kumlubük Bay. Amos dates to the Hellenistic era and now consists of an amphitheatre on the side of the hill, a temple and statue pedestals. Surrounded by ramparts dating back to the same time, this amphitheater is in good condition, including its seating area, side walls and stage with three chambers. Excavations in 1948 by Professor George Evards Bean revealed four inscriptions, which mentioned three rental contracts, thought to date from around 200 B.C.
Name of source: Washington Post
SOURCE: Washington Post (1-6-10)
The Ukrainians finally achieved independence when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Now many in this fledgling nation would like to formally recognize those earlier nationalists -- the "brave defenders of the Motherland," as President Viktor Yushchenko has called them. Newly introduced legislation would honor members of the underground and provide them with benefits accorded to war veterans.
But the movement to pay tribute to the insurgent fighters has set off a national debate about exactly what happened more than six decades ago. Many say the underground collaborated with the Nazis, killed thousands of Jews and perpetrated a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Poles.
The legacy of the underground flows through Ukrainian culture today. Its best-known banner -- a red-and-black flag -- is seen at the rallies of nationalist politicians. In this western Ukrainian city, where the insurgency was active, members of the underground are buried in elaborate marble tombs in a historic cemetery. Street vendors sell memorabilia commemorating the resistance. There is even an underground-themed restaurant outfitted as a bunker. In one corner, diners can do target practice using a picture of Stalin.
While those involved in the debate over the underground are somewhat polarized, they agree on one thing: It's complicated.
To begin with, the underground was made up of many factions, subfactions and rivals. In hindsight, some look better than others. Meanwhile, for the majority of Ukrainian families, the experience of "the Great Patriotic War" was fighting with the Red Army to defend the homeland. Some descendants of Red Army soldiers view members of the underground as traitors.
The effort to recognize the insurgents also is taking place against the backdrop of centuries of persecution of Jews in Ukraine, where pogroms were common.
The Cossack chieftain Bogdan Khmelnytsky, whose statue stands in the Ukrainian capital, fought for independence during the 17th century. But he also presided over the killings of tens of thousands of Jews, said Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny, head of the Religious Union for Progressive Jewish Congregations of Ukraine. "Was he a hero or an anti-hero? Even after 350 years, it is difficult to know," Dukhovny said.
Considerable research on the underground is underway in Ukraine and Canada, a center of the Ukrainian diaspora.
One of the key figures involved in the research is Peter J. Potichnyj. Born in a Ukrainian family in a village in what was then eastern Poland, Potichnyj experienced the horrors of the war firsthand. Soviet secret police executed his father. Poles massacred most of the people in his village.
In 1945, at age 14, he joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or UPA, and fought against the Soviets until 1947. He eventually became a historian at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and helped edit 77 volumes about the Ukrainian underground.
Potichnyj, 79, said that although the underground may have had brief strategic alliances with the Germans, it was mostly fighting the Soviets. He said much of the anti-underground talk these days is orchestrated from Russia.
"You know the Russians don't want to admit there were people fighting them -- not because they were cooperating with the Germans but because they were fighting for their own culture and the liberation of their own countries," he said.
As for the killings of Jews and Poles, Potichnyj argues that no matter where guerrillas fight for liberation, it's a messy affair. The Poles provoked the Ukrainians, he said.
"With respect to Jews," he said, "obviously, in the situation there must have taken place some killing of the Jews, although in 1943, when the UPA was quite strong, there were hardly any Jews left because the Germans had, unfortunately, killed them all off. But there were some remnants, and the remnants were either working with the Ukrainian underground or they were working with the Soviets." Those allied with the Red partisans were obviously enemies of the underground, he said.
Potichnyj said the underground made a terrible mistake in not condemning the Germans' efforts to exterminate the Jews. But he strongly denies that there is any document showing that the underground ordered the "systematic" killing of Jews.
John-Paul Himka, a historian at the University of Alberta, believes there was a systematic killing of Jews in some Ukrainian areas. Himka has written extensively on the Holocaust and Ukrainian history. He said he has read hundreds of accounts, composed in different places and at different times, of Jews who survived; many mention killings by the Ukrainian militia.
Of the plan to honor UPA fighters, he says: "This is really a problem area because they killed so many people, civilians." In addition to Jews, he said, they killed 60,000 to 100,000 Poles, as well as political opponents, Orthodox clergymen, teachers of Russian and many prisoners of war from eastern Ukraine. He estimates that UPA fighters killed several thousand Jews, "but perhaps the number was much higher."
"Although what UPA did to the Jews may not have been, in the larger scheme of things, a major contribution to the Holocaust, it remains a large and inexpugnable stain on the record of the Ukrainian national insurgency," he said.
Olexiy Haran, a professor of comparative politics at the University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, said Russian "propaganda" distorted the extent of the atrocities. The Ukrainian insurgents were fighting for independence, he insists.
"I believe that these people deserve to be veterans, maybe with the exception of those who committed crimes," he said. "This was guerrilla warfare, and it's difficult to imagine guerrillas without atrocities."
Many academics say the debate over the underground is part of a larger tug of war over Ukraine's national identity. Russia ruled most of what is now Ukraine for more than three centuries. But relations between the countries have been testy, and since Yushchenko's election in late 2004, Ukraine has distanced itself from Russia while moving toward the West.
Yaakov Bleich, whose title is chief rabbi of Ukraine, said of Yushchenko's effort to legitimize the insurgents: "His goals are noble; the means stink."
"What I mean is that we all understand that Yushchenko is trying to build up national pride, and we all understand that that is needed," Bleich said. "After 350 years that the Ukrainian people were subjugated, they have to rebuild national pride.
"But should we take things that are controversial -- heroes that are still of questionable repute -- and use them to do that?" he said. "At this point you have people out there living today [who suffered], and the image is one that would hurt people. The Ukrainian insurgents fought alongside the fascists. And maybe their intentions were good, but I will say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions."
Name of source: Inside Higher Ed
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (1-8-10)
But that doesn't mean Google Books wasn't criticized. In a discussion at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, scholars questioned the way Google has organized the books project and whether it was doing enough in quality control. At the same time, though, many comments suggested deep appreciation for the company's efforts. And some suggested that Google has become something of an unfair target for academics who pay little attention as other companies charge college and university libraries high fees for their materials. Over the course of the discussion, not only did Google take a few hits, but so did librarians and professors (although the Google representative left it to the academics to criticize themselves).
Dan Cohen, director of the Center for History and New Media, at George Mason University, kicked off the discussion with a strong defense of Google's book digitization efforts.
"Is Google good for history? Of course it is," he said. "We historians are searchers and sifters of evidence. Google is probably the most powerful tool in human history for doing just that. It has constructed a deceptively simple way to scan billions of documents instantaneously, and it has spent hundreds of millions of dollars of its own money to allow us to read millions of books in our pajamas. Good? How about great?"
Cohen argued that Google is both expanding access and improving the quality of research. He noted that while he was trained at universities whose libraries had "Google Books scale," most aren't. "I’m now at an institution that is far more typical of higher ed, with a mere million volumes and few rare works. At places like Mason, Google Books is a savior, enabling research that could once only be done if you got into the right places," Cohen said. He reported that he regularly has students "discover new topics to study and write about through searches on Google Books."
From a research perspective as well, he said, the advances are significant. The vastness of the Google project will fight the "widespread problem of anecdotal history," in which scholars lack the points of comparison to determine the real significance of an event, text or person. "As more documents are scanned and go online, many works of historical scholarship will be exposed as flimsy and haphazard," Cohen said "The existence of modern search technology should push us to improve historical research. It should tell us that our analog, necessarily partial methods have had hidden from us the potential of taking a more comprehensive view."
Cohen stressed that he was under no illusions that Google is perfect. He is among those who -- before everyone was doing it -- shared a find he made of a scanned book by Google that featured a human hand that shouldn't have been visible. And he admitted -- anticipating the criticism that would follow -- that there are numerous mistakes in Google, of titles and categories (especially in the metadata used to classify books for search purposes).
But he said errors are inevitable and was more critical of Google for not releasing more of the tools it has created to classify books so that scholars could better understand them and use them. He said Google was uncharacteristically secretive about the digitization project, although he acknowledged that this is no doubt in part because of all the litigation over it.
Generally, Cohen said, academics are too quick to attack Google or any large corporation. Historians "can find fault with virtually anything," he said, and "this disposition is unsurprisingly exacerbated when a large company, consisting mostly of better-paid graduates from the other side of campus, muscles into our turf." Cohen said that "had Google spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build the Widener Library at Harvard, surely we would have complained about all those steps up to the front entrance."
And he questioned why so many academics are so angry at Google. "While it seems that an obsessive book about Google comes out every other week," he asked where the volumes were about other "large information companies that serve the academic market in troubling ways," arguing that "these companies, which also provide search services and digital scans, charge universities exorbitant amounts for the privilege of access. They leech money out of library budgets every year that could be going to other, more productive uses." (Cohen posted the text of his remarks on his blog.)
Paul Duguid, adjunct professor at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley and a professorial research fellow at the University of London, argued that in fact it's difficult to criticize Google or its various projects without being accused of being a Luddite or otherwise old-fashioned.
Duguid argued that the incorrect misclassification of work is too widespread not to be treated as a huge flaw. He note that when the Google Books Blog recently boasted about new tools to use illustrations for new book covers, he found errors in the books used as examples. For instance, he said that Studies of American Fungi had been classified as a cooking book. And he talked about how Google had once located King Lear in upstate New York (due to the Duke of Albany), and that Google had given Duguid credit for writing a book that appeared in 1879. (A podcast with Duguid, focusing heavily on his concerns about errors in Google Books, may be found here.)
Details like dates should matter to historians, Duguid said. "If you mess up dates, you guys, you haven't a lot left."
Once, when he published an essay critical of Google, Duguid said, a scholar wrote to him that he loved Google digitization because he didn't need to go to the library anymore. Duguid called that tragic, and said if that is the argument being used by scholars (and some librarians) to defend digitization, they should be ashamed. (Generally, he said librarians have been too quick to embrace Google.)
Digitization done right, Duguid suggested, could in fact be a great advance. But he said that Google has completely taken over the space. And he said that libraries with important holdings have called off digitization projects on the assumption that "Google will do it." Scholars "with expertise in what they are doing" are being told to stand aside for those who don't, he added.
Despite all of those concerns, Duguid said he worried as well about the possibility that Google might abandon its effort. What if Google should end the project, realizing that it took on more than it could handle, he asked. The result is that no one will ever do digitization right. “This is probably a once and for all scanning," he said. "Nobody is ever likely to take this task on again." (In the question and answer session, the same concern was raised by a historian who is much more enamored of the Google digitization than is Duguid, with this scholar saying he feared the day when "the suits" take over Google and could eliminate the program.)
Brandon Badger, project manager for Google Books, said that the scholars need not worry. He said that there is "passion" for book digitization throughout the company.
Badger didn't directly engage most of the criticisms, but he repeatedly talked about Google's desire to help scholars. When one historian talked about how easy the Web makes digital piracy, Badger said he saw Google Books creating the means to sell serious books to far more people in digital versions. He compared the idea to iTunes, in which the availability of music you can purchase in an instant created an alternative to downloading pirated versions.
On the topic of errors, Badger said Google was committed to improvements that would speed corrections. He said that he envisioned a system down the road where, if two scholars point out an error, it would be automatically corrected. But he also said that some errors (such as photos of the hands of those scanning books) were inevitable and were a cost of moving ahead on the project. Holding up a book he read on his flight to the conference, he said that Google could focus entirely on making perfect scans of every page of every book, with classifications that couldn't be disputed and perfect images without anyone's hands visible. But he said it would take 100 years "and we'd all be dead."
The book that Badger held up was later cited in the question period as an example of the culture clash between Google and academe. Google is in fact proud of a non-corporate culture, and Badger was the least formally dressed person on the panel. But although Badger could have passed for a graduate student, the book he held up -- tips on golf -- wasn't what an aspiring grad student would have read on a flight where future department colleagues might spot him.
The professor who cited the book said that when Badger held it up, "you could hear people's eyes roll." And the professor expressed fear that Google and academics might not be engaged in the conversation they need because of a culture clash. He asked Badger whether Google ever considers hiring academics or people who think like academics to handle such discussions and to contribute to the creation of projects.
Badger said that in fact he viewed the historians in the audience as "power users" and came to meetings such as this to learn from them. He said that Google doesn't want to produce products only for "geeky engineers." Badger joked that he would post something on Craigslist right away to seek out more academic advice. The professor, noting the culture clash once again, suggested H-NET might be a better place to seek advice from academics than would be Craigslist.
Name of source: Artdaily.org
SOURCE: Artdaily.org (1-7-10)
Michael Zabrin of Northbrook admitted sometimes paying between $1,000 and $1,500 for counterfeit limited edition fine art prints produced in Spain and Italy and reselling them on eBay for many times that amount.
In his signed plea agreement with prosecutors, 57-year-old Zabrin said he would send away to his Italian source for fake Picassos, saying: "I need some P's." When he needed bogus works by Roy Lichtenstein, he would say: "I need some L's."
Name of source: Deutsche Welle
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (1-6-10)
Mackay, writing in an article coauthored by Royal Navy Commander Steve Tatham and published by the British Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) Defense Academy, called for fresh thinking on the battlefield and highlighted a need for more focus on "behaviorist" strategy when dealing with the complex structure of Afghan society.
He added that the military "consistently failed" to understand the motivations of local Afghans which was undermining Western efforts while strengthening the resistance, saying that Western efforts had to focus on understanding the culture, economy and psychology of the Taliban if allied forces were to be truly successful in battle.
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (1-6-10)
"Today the leadership of the Ulster Defence Association can confirm that all weaponry under its control has been put verifiably beyond use," said UDA political representative Frankie Gallagher.
The disarmament was verified by two independent witnesses, the former Church of Ireland primate, Robin Eames, and the former chairman of the Ulster Bank, George Quigley. Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen welcomed the UDA's announcement as "a further significant milestone in the peace process."
Name of source: CNN
SOURCE: CNN (1-7-10)
But those snapshots actually come from another war: The Philippine-American War, which lasted from 1899 to 1902. The war is largely forgotten today, but it was a bloody preview of the type of warfare that the U.S. military faced in Asia and now in Afghanistan, historians say.
Obama faces the same challenge that American leaders faced at the start of the war in the Philippines: How to mobilize public support. A recent poll shows that Obama is already losing support for the war in Afghanistan.
History can teach but it also can mislead. Scholars and military experts concede that there are crucial differences between the Philippines and Afghanistan.
The Philippines had already been colonized by Spain before its war with the United States, while Afghanistan has resisted conquest by various nations for centuries.
Yet the U.S. still can learn several lessons from its war in the Philippines, scholars and military historians say.
One is what not to do. The U.S. military can’t employ the brutal tactics it once did against Filipinos in a world where there is a 24-hour news cycle, historians say.
SOURCE: CNN (1-6-10)
Von Brunn, 89, a self-avowed white supremacist, was a known Holocaust denier who created an anti-Semitic Web site called "The Holy Western Empire."
Kramer said officials from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons transferred von Brunn to an undisclosed hospital, apparently realizing his condition was worsening. Before being moved, von Brunn was undergoing mental competency tests at a prison facility in Butner, North Carolina.
The cause of death wasn't immediately known.
Name of source: NY Daily News
SOURCE: NY Daily News (1-5-10)
Monday was the eighth anniversary of the first American combat death in Afghanistan - and there's no end in sight.
Eight long years since Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Chapman became the first solider to die going after those responsible for 9/11.
"How important is it? Do you want to go?" his wife, Renae Chapman, would recall asking him when he volunteered.
"Yes," her 31-year-old husband replied. "I have to go."
Before leaving their home in Washington state, they took a family photo with their 2-year-old daughter, Amanda, and 1-year-old son, Brandon, neither old enough to remember him. "Honey, there's a fifty-fifty chance I'm not coming home," Chapman told his wife.
The odds got better soon after Chapman arrived in Afghanistan. Just months after 9/11, Special Forces virtually trapped senior Al Qaeda leaders in Tora Bora.
The good guys had not suffered a single combat fatality and things looked so bleak for the bad guys that Osama Bin Laden made out his will. "Our prayers were not answered," he radioed his followers. "I am sorry for getting you involved in this battle."
Of course, Bin Laden could not have imagined the Bush administration would rely on Afghan mercenaries to augment the 90 Special Forces operators.
"We're going to lose our prey if we're not careful," CIA chief of counterterrorism Henry Crumpton warned President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. "How bad off are these Afghani forces, really?" Bush inquired, as recounted in a Senate report. "Are they up to the job?"
"Definitely not," was the reply.
Crumpton repeated the plea to send in Marines and Rangers who were definitely up to the job. The plea was ignored; Bin Laden fled.
Special Forces kept up the hunt. Chapman seemed still in his usual high spirits two weeks later, when he made a Christmas Day call home with a satellite phone.
"I'm with my second family; they're a great bunch of guys," he said.
His kids had a video message that Chapman sent his first family. "I sure miss you guys," he said.
On Jan. 3, 2002, the hunt took Chapman and a small team to Khost. The next day, they approached a checkpoint set up by a local warlord. Gunfire erupted; Chapman was fatally wounded.
By one report, Chapman was shot by a 14-year-old Al Qaeda sympathizer who fled into Pakistan. Many believe he was killed on orders from the warlord, who was angry the Americans had chosen to do business with a rival.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai later appointed the warlord a provincial governor. He's now in the Afghan legislature.
Meantime, an American outpost in Khost was named Forward Operating Base Chapman. A suicide bomber burst in last Wednesday, killing seven CIA operatives, including the station chief, a mother of three. That was five days after a Nigerian extremist carried explosives onto a plane, triggering memories of pre-9/11 intelligence failures.
Today, our new President reviews how we are addressing a threat that has grown in the years since we had Bin Laden cornered and a fine young father became the first to die in combat.
"The day he left we all cried and cried," Chapman's wife remembered in a 2002 interview. He gave her a heart-shaped pendant that they broke, so each could take half.
"And he left."
Name of source: NPR
SOURCE: NPR (1-7-10)
But many African-Americans find it insulting.
-- "It's almost like a slap in the face," Nikyle Fitzgerald tells WTOL in Toledo.
-- "I am a little offended," Dawud Ingram says to WCBS-TV.
-- "It's a bad vibe word," Kevin Bishop says in the New York Daily News.
Name of source: China View
SOURCE: China View (1-7-10)
For centuries, despite Cao's record as a fair ruler and military genius who treated his subordinates like family and was also skilled in poetry and martial arts, he suffered from a bad reputation.
Few people have openly acknowledged they were Cao's descendants over the past centuries, making Cao's family tree an untraceable one, an unusual phenomenon considering his historical importance.
However, after last month's release of the discovery of Cao's tomb in Anyang county, Henan province, Cao Jian'ou, from Jiangxi province, claimed he was one of Cao's 82nd generation descendants. In the next few days, a few dozen people said they too had descended from the former ruler.
Over the past decades, however, thanks to the development of Chinese archaeology and an increasing public interest in history, there have been attempts to revise this negative image, the most recent and successful one being CCTV's hit TV program Lecture Room, featuring Professor Yi Zhongtian lecturing on the Three Kingdoms.
Name of source: San Diego Union Tribune
SOURCE: San Diego Union Tribune (1-7-10)
The annual convention of the 125-year-old American Historical Association, held here for the first time, will feature a 15-session “mini-convention” on various aspects of matrimony, including how its definition has evolved through time.
These free meetings, which start today and are open to the public, came about because of where the convention is being held — the Manchester Grand Hyatt on San Diego’s waterfront.
The 1,625-room resort has been the subject of a boycott by gay-rights activists since July 2008. They targeted the hotel after its owner, developer Doug Manchester, contributed $125,000 to Proposition 8, the successful ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California.
Name of source: artdaily.org
SOURCE: artdaily.org (1-7-10)
Studies of paint found in the pores of the stones confirmed that Mexica sculpture, as Greek and Roman, was polychrome. An interdisciplinary team coordinated by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), has determined the nature of pigments and agglutinants, pictorial techniques and symbolism of Mexica polychromy.
At the last conference of the V Jornadas Permanentes de Arqueologia (Fifth Permanent Conferences of Archaeology) organized by INAH Direction of Archaeological Studies, Leonardo Lopez Lujan explained that results of a series of investigations have determined that the chromatic range used by Mexica on their sculptures was integrated by 5 colors: red, ochre, blue, white and black.
He declared that numerous sculptural pieces lodged in the National Museum of Anthropology and Templo Mayor Archaeological Zone and Site Museum conserve vestiges of their original paint.
The "Sun Stone" is a good example: “It was cleaned and analyzed in 2000, as part of the remodeling of Mexica Hall, at MNA, celebrations. Although it was exposed to the elements almost a century, a group of INAH restorers directed by Mari Carmen Castro achieved to detect rests of red and ochre pigments in the stone pores.
“In 2007, the team leaded by archaeologist Fernando Carrizosa made the same observations at the lunar deity Coyolxauhqui monolith, finding evidence of red, ochre, blue, white and black paints. Other studies confirm it, concluding that Mexica palette was limited to these 5 colors; shades like brown or pink were never used in sculpture or mural painting”.
Lopez Lujan informed that studies made in 2008 and 2009 on the paint over Tlaltecuhtli monolith, found in October 2006 in Mexico City Historical Center, have deepened; “Soon after Tlaltecuhtli was exhumed by members of the Urban Archaeology Program, we took abundant samples of the pictorial layer, which had an excellent conservation state.
“A high-level multidisciplinary team, integrated by archaeologists, restorers, geologists and chemists conducted analyses with state-of-the-art technology, both in Mexico and the United States. These analyses determined raw material used by Mexica to elaborate pigments and agglutinants. We also identified pictorial techniques used by Tenochtitlan artists more than 500 years ago”.
The INAH archaeologist explained that among previous attempts to reconstruct chromatically the Sun Stone and Coyolxauhqui, some specialists like Robert Sieck Flandes, in 1942, and Carmen Aguilera, in 1985, based their studies on codices images, achieving interesting results.
The results presented now, however, part from using analytical methods and technological resources, proving that the palette of Tenochtitlan sculpture is more reduced that that from codices; in the future, reconstructions will have to be done based on direct observation of monoliths.
Lopez Lujan remarked that Mexica sculptors used mainly volcanic stone as basalt, andesite and tezontle, which natural hues are blackish, grayish and pinkish.
“These are the colors that dominate in pieces exposed at museums. Most sculptures have lost most of the pictorial layer, due to action of soil elements when buried, and once exhumed, to the action of weathering”.
This is why it is important to make computer chromatic reconstructions public, and be able to transmit today the visual sensations Mexica had during the Prehispanic period.
The last investigations in the field are part of Templo Mayor Project, headed by Leonardo Lopez Lujan, Maria Barajas and Fernando Carrizosa. The project has counted on with the important contributions of Jaime Torres, from the National School of Conservation, Restoration and Museography (ENCRyM) and Giacomo Chiari, from the Getty Conservation Institute, in Los Angeles.
Main results from investigations, announced Lopez Lujan, are to be published in Arqueologia Mexicana magazine and the books Monte Sagrado-Templo Mayor (Sacred Mount-Main Temple) written with Alfredo Lopez Austin, and Escultura monumental mexica (Monumental Mexica Sculpture), written with Eduardo Matos Moctezuma.
Name of source: LA Daily News
SOURCE: LA Daily News (1-7-10)
Both are seeking to save four historic buildings, from a Lankershim Ranch reading room to a North Hills church.
And both are working to name each a city Historic-Cultural Monument, which would protect such landmarks as the onion-domed Sepulveda Unitarian church and the barrel-shaped bar once known as the Idle Hour Cafe.
The nominations for monument status, including three by the Kennedy High students, will be considered today by the Cultural Heritage Commission. If approved, the applications will likely clear the City Council this spring.
"It's particularly exciting to have four remarkable San Fernando Valley landmarks in a single Cultural Heritage agenda," said Ken Bernstein, manager of the city Office of Historic Resources.
"It's tremendously exciting that a Valley architectural magnet school is preparing an entirely new generation of preservationists to take responsibility for Valley history."
Fewer than 10 percent of the city's nearly 1,000 historic-cultural monuments are located in the San Fernando Valley.
It was Aaron Kahlenberg, a teacher at Kennedy High School's Architecture & Digital Arts Magnet, who won historic-cultural status for his pristine post-war home in Granada Hills.
But it was his 20 architectural students who, working with the Los Angeles Conservancy, researched, wrote and presented nominations for three other Valley landmarks:
The Lankershim Reading Room, an octagonal folk-Victorian built in 1904 on the sprawling Lankershim Ranch, now located behind the Pico Adobe in Mission Hills.
The Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society sanctuary - a landmark that locals know as "The Onion" - that was designed by Neutra student Frank Ehrenthal in 1964 and became a renowned haven for Vietnam War protesters.
The Corbin Palms House, an impeccable ranch-style house in Woodland Hills built in 1955 by William Krisel and Dan Palmer. The duo designed many modernist homes in the Valley and Palm Springs.
"They're taking pride in their community," Kahlenberg said of his students. "They're working together to save valuable architecture for the future.
"The neatest thing about this is that, in high school, most people don't do things that are long lasting."
Each nomination, including the Idle Hour Cafe, has the support of its property owners.
It was Nichols, an urban architecture buff, who scoured Los Angeles for its last remaining barrel building.
The Idle Hour Cafe of North Hollywood, commissioned in 1941 by former hobo Michael D. Connolly, is also among the city's last so-called "programmatic" buildings - shaped like hot dogs, doughnuts and derby hats - for which it was once world-famous.
The cafe-tavern would later become a flamenco dinner-theater called La Ca a, which closed in 1984.
"Los Angeles used to be known for being creative, outstanding for building these crazy things," said Nichols, an associate editor for Los Angeles magazine, who lives in Altadena. "It's pretty outstanding to be stopped, driving down the street, by a giant barrel.
"I didn't want to see it turned into a mini-mall."
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (1-6-10)
The clues to which particular piece it belongs are all there – the date, destination and passenger name.
They were September 29, 1938, Munich and the Rt Hon Neville Chamberlain – and this is a plane ticket that has been tucked away for safe-keeping for nearly three-quarters of a century.
The memorabilia, which was used by the then prime minister on his notorious 1938 'peace for our time' trip to meet Adolf Hitler, is being auctioned – and is expected to raise up to £7,000.
The two leaders met at the now-infamous Munich conference - between Britain, Germany, Italy and France - during which the European powers agreed Germany could take de facto control of Czechoslovakia.