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This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used.
This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used. Because most of our readers read the NYT we usually do not include the paper's stories in HIGHLIGHTS.
Name of source: Fox News
SOURCE: Fox News (2-22-10)
President George Washington’s Farewell Address was not really an address. Nor was it really a true farewell. The message was printed in a Philadelphia newspaper on September 19, 1796, more than five months before the nation’s first president turned over his office to its second, John Adams.
The document, “in language that was plain and intelligible,” was intended clearly to indicate that Washington was leaving office and that another American must be elected to succeed him. The Farewell was entitled “Friends and Fellow Citizens,” and was addressed directly to the American people – not to members of Congress as most presidential documents were in those days. The paper was designed to be a definitive statement of Washington’s political beliefs and his considered advice for his fellow Americans after two terms in the presidency.
Name of source: Stanford Report
SOURCE: Stanford Report (2-1-10)
For French Professor Jean-Marie Apostolidès, briefly a penpal of the notorious Unabomber and a translator of his writings, these very questions are a scholar's terroir.
He was intrigued by the killer's anti-technology stance, and says that on that score, Theodore Kaczynski may have been right. "Technology transformed humanity into something different than it was before, into a new creation – flesh and technè," he said.
"We are mutants now. What will come out of it nobody knows. It's something unprecedented – and scary," he said. Science fiction, in many cases, is simply "presenting the fears of the metamorphosis."
Apostolidès recently published in book form a French translation of the Unabomber's manifesto, Industrial Society and Its Future. He is currently working on a philosophical and psychological study, Of Ink and Blood: The Writings of Theodore Kaczynski. The author of 1999's L'Affaire Unabomber also has written the recently published The Metamorphoses of Tintin: Or, Tintin for Adults....
Despite some sympathy for Kaczynski's views on industrial society, Apostolidès embraces technology – "because I think there is no other way. It brings positive and negative things. They cannot be separated....
The translation of Kaczynski's 1995 manifesto, which Apostolidès began the day after he read it in the Washington Post, was the first step in a longer journey. The next began with a secret....
"They thought I would be a perfect penpal," he said. Apostolidès was told to keep the correspondence secret even from his family. Thus began a brief, lopsided correspondence screened by Kaczynski's lawyers and the FBI.
The brief correspondence did not go smoothly: "He did not want to talk to me; he wanted to preach. I detest that," he said. "On one side he was scolding me, on the other side complimenting me."...
Name of source: Times Online (UK)
SOURCE: Times Online (UK) (2-22-10)
He had struck a deal with the elders of the port: any of his 70 men that he managed to pass in his post-decapitation walk should be spared. The quivering corpse passed 11 fellow pirates before the executioner put out a foot and tripped him up.
Little wonder, then, that the skull of Störtebeker has fascinated Germans for so long — and that its theft from a Hamburg museum last month has kept police busy.
They interrogated members of the often reckless FC St Pauli fan club and dug deep into the city’s Goth scene before concentrating on a new possibility: that the pirate’s skull has become a trophy in the turf wars between rival biker gangs. On Saturday night a skull was placed outside the offices of the Hamburger Morgenpost with “No Tacos” written on its crown. “Tacos” is slang for the biker group Bandidos, which is challenging the Hell’s Angels for control over northern Germany’s lucrative drugs trade.
Ralph Wiechmann, head of archaeology at the Hamburg Museum, was called in to examine the skull and ruled that it belonged to a more recent corpse than that of Störtebeker. The pirate’s skull has a gaping hole on its right side, where it was nailed to a wooden stake outside the harbour gate to deter people from piracy. The latest skull bore axe wounds but no nail hole.
Even so, the local press continues to insist that a Hell’s Angels chapter is the likely culprit. The Morgenpost cites an “insider from the biker scene” as saying that the skull was offered to the Hell’s Angels free of charge by an unnamed thief. “The piratical skull and crossbones is certainly part of the insignia of aggressive motorcycle gangs,” a police investigator said. “Störtebeker is a hero for some of these people.”
Störtebeker is regarded as a Robin Hood or even a Che Guevara figure by many northern Germans, because he robbed the rich merchant ships of the Hanseatic League. However, there is little evidence of him redistributing his booty to the poor. Indeed, legend has it that after his execution Hamburg senators found that the masts of his ships had cores of gold and silver.
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (2-22-10)
A team of anthropologists hope to prove their theory by carrying out DNA tests on bones which they believe are the remains of the Renaissance artist.
Caravaggio was renowned for his hot temper, heavy drinking and violent temperament and was forced to go on the run in 1606 after killing a man in a tavern brawl, a crime for which he was condemned to death by Pope Paul V.
He died in July 1610 at the age of 39, with mystery surrounding the circumstances of his death ever since.
It has been suggested he contracted syphilis or even that he was assassinated but anthropologists from the universities of Pisa, Ravenna and Bologna are studying other theories – that he contracted malaria while travelling in Italy or that he suffered from lead poisoning.
"Lead poisoning accentuates traits like aggressive and nervous behaviour, which Caravaggio displayed during his life," said Silvano Vinceti, the team leader....
They are the images that affirmed Henry Moore as one of the greatest artists of the 20th century, inspired, he claimed, by a moving journey on the London Underground during the Blitz.
But a major new exhibition on Moore's work is to cast doubt on the artist's inspiration for some of his most famous works.
Henry Moore, a retrospective of the artist's work at Tate Britain, will suggest that several of his drawings completed during the Second World War were not inspired by Moore's own wartime experiences, but copied from photographs in a magazine.
Known as the Shelter Drawings, Moore's powerful depictions in gouache and ink of Londoners sheltering in the London Underground from the Blitz, made between 1940 and 1941, proved hugely popular.
The creatures lived on an island – a kind of pigmy Jurassic Park – and were up to eight times smaller than some of their mainland cousins.
One of the island-dwelling dinosaurs, named Magyarosaurus, was little bigger than a horse, but was related to some of the largest creatures to ever walk the Earth – gigantic titanosaurs such as Argentinosaurus, which reached up to 100 feet long and weighed around 80 tons.
Another of the dinosaurs was found to be a primitive dwarfed species similar to large duck-billed herbivores like Iguanodon, which could grow to be up to 10 feet long and weighed more than three tons.
Fossils from the dwarf dinosaurs were found in what is now modern day Romania, in an area known as Hateg, which, 65 million years ago – when the creatures were living there – was an island.
Professor Michael Benton, from the University of Bristol, who carried out the research with scientists at the Universities of Bucharest and Bonn, said the dinosaurs seemed to have evolved smaller bodies after becoming marooned there.
Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, who is suffering from terminal prostate cancer, no longer receives hospital treatment after ending the course of chemotherapy that he had been given after returning to his homeland last August.
Professor Karol Sikora, the London-based doctor who examined Megrahi and predicted he would be dead by last October, admitted this weekend that the fact the bomber is still alive might be "difficult" for the families of the 270 victims of the attack.
The flag, signed by Mr Mandela and fellow South African presidents Thabo Mbeki and FW de Klerk, was flown at the landmark presidential inauguration in May 1994.
Bonhams, the auction house, had been due to auction it later this month.
But the auction said on Thursday that it had brokered a deal with an anonymous London-based South African businessman and philanthropist ''for an undisclosed amount''.
The deal is on the understanding that the flag will be returned to South Africa and handed over to the South African government.
The Prince was given the chance to examine three items from the Staffordshire Hoard, including a crumpled cross and a sword handle, during a visit to the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent.
Accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall, the Prince also chatted with the farmer on whose land the Hoard was found near Lichfield last summer.
Museum officials said the Prince and the Duchess had been fascinated by the craftsmanship of the processional cross, even inquiring whether it could be straightened out.
More than 100 pieces of the treasure, which has been dated to the seventh century and is believed to have belonged to ancient kings, are currently on show at the museum.
The museum's principal collections officer, Deb Klemperer, showed the royal couple around the exhibition during their visit to mark the centenary of the federation of Stoke-on-Trent's six towns.
One hundred years ago Sir George Reid, a former prime minister, was appointed as Australia's first high commissioner to the UK - the nation's inaugural overseas post to represent their interests.
Today the role is filled by John Dauth, who served the Queen as an assistant press secretary for three years until 1980.
A new exhibition and complementary book showcasing the work of the high commissioners over the last 100 years and highlighting Anglo-Australian relations was viewed by the Queen and Duke before they left.
The rebellious nun who was revered for her work with children is to become Australia's first Roman Catholic saint on October 17, the Pope said on Friday.
In December, Benedict recognised a miracle in which MacKillop apparently cured a woman of cancer, paving the way for the canonisation of a nun who is already a national icon in Australia.
MacKillop, who died in 1909, passed the first stage to sainthood when pope John Paul II beatified her in 1995 after recognising a first miracle attributed to her, in which a woman was said to have been cured of terminal leukaemia.
Up to ten prominent "information stands" featuring Stalin's portrait and information about his wartime role will spring up across the Russian capital ahead of May 9, he added. That is the date when Russia celebrates the Soviet Union's defeat of Nazi Germany and this year, the 65th anniversary, promises to be the biggest event of its kind since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Human rights activists said they were sickened by the idea of portraits of Stalin hanging throughout Moscow.
Name of source: Independent (UK)
SOURCE: Independent (UK) (2-18-10)
It went down around 900 BC carrying a precious cargo of tin and copper ingots from the continent, and has lain undetected on the seabed in just eight to ten metres of water in a bay near Salcombe ever since. Experts have hailed the discovery – one of only four Bronze Age vessels found in British waters – as “extremely important,” and “genuinely exciting.”
Investigation and recovery work on the boat’s cargo was carried out by archaeologists from South West Maritime Archaeological Group (SWMAG) between February and November 2009, but the find was only made public this month at the annual International Shipwreck Conference in Plymouth.
295 artefacts – with a combined weight of 84 kilograms – have been retrieved so far, including weapons and jewellery, alongside abundant raw metal.
Name of source: AFP
SOURCE: AFP (2-19-10)
With Iraq ravaged by war and strife since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, Baghdad's struggling government has had greater priorities than funding large-scale digs at Ur, where only small teams have been working since 2005.
Inside he found some of the greatest treasures of antiquity, including a golden dagger encrusted with lapis lazuli, an intricately carved golden statue of a ram caught in a thicket, a lyre decorated with a bull's head and the gold headdress of a Sumerian queen.
Name of source: Artdaily.org
SOURCE: Artdaily.org (2-21-10)
Notable among the 21 buildings that will make up the replica of Tenochtitlan, a city founded in the 14th century and one of the biggest of its day, will be the pyramids of Coacalco, Cihuacoatl, Chicomecoatl and Xochiquetzal, the Temple of the Sun and courts for the pre-Columbian ball game that played a central role in Aztec culture, all of them surrounded by a canal.
"Rescuing history" is the key to this project, which will occupy some 300 hectares (740 acres), and where besides the pre-Columbian-style buildings there will also be offices, two Hilton hotels and two shopping malls, one of them dedicated to international designer fashions.
The buildings of the "sacred premises" will preserve the original dimensions, colors and paintings that, according to the observations of chroniclers like the Spanish conquistador Bernal Diaz del Castillo, decorated the Aztec capital.
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (2-21-10)
SOURCE: NYT (2-19-10)
Politicians in both parties would display a little more regard for one another, and the institutions they serve. The institutions themselves would impose a little more discipline and efficiency. Voters would give leaders a little more trust.
In fact, that’s a pretty good description of how Washington functioned for two decades after World War II, with strong results. Republicans and Democrats joined forces to enact the Marshall Plan, establish the federal highway system, advance civil rights, create Medicare and preside over robust economic growth. The war itself had much to do with that record, by helping pull the nation out of its economic problems as the United States led the Allies to victory over the Axis powers. The common efforts of what’s now called the Greatest Generation deepened faith in American institutions....
Can Washington again find that “seriousness and common purpose,” as President Obama put it last week? Or do partisan polarization, special-interest money, snarling news outlets and public disaffection ensure gridlock into the indefinite future?...
One year later, despite drawing a larger popular-vote majority than Ronald Reagan did in 1980 and with his party controlling Congress, Mr. Obama confronts an angry public, re-energized Republicans and the possibility of crippling midterm defeats in November. In Washington, the moderate Democratic Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana cited the Capitol Hill muddle in announcing last week that he would not seek re-election....
SOURCE: NYT (2-20-10)
And, yet — as I listened to the presenters talk about documented misdeeds being just the tips of icebergs; the “corruption tax” we pay in more expensive services; and the virtual non-efforts of Cook County’s state attorneys — I couldn’t help recalling a distant night in El Salvador. It was in the late 1980s, during the civil war in which the United States supported an often-odious government. I was at a spaghetti dinner in the capital, San Salvador, with veteran foreign correspondents who debated this: Who’s the biggest crook ever?
There were citations of billion-dollar thefts and whole industries nationalized to enrich a single family. There were many strong candidates, but not one American was mentioned.
It’s partly why one might wonder about the unceasing refrain from Rush Limbaugh and his ideological confreres in Washington about “the Chicago way” of doing business. It’s all tied to bashing President Obama and top aides as being products of a culture of chicanery.
Invoking the phrase is too facile by half, even conceding the convictions of 31 Chicago aldermen since the 1970s and the fact that former Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich awaits trial as his predecessor, George Ryan, sits in prison. You can stipulate to the corrosive nature of money in Illinois politics but still argue convincingly that we’re minor players on the world stage of public perfidy....
Name of source: Guardian (UK)
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (2-22-10)
After years of stonewalling, Warsaw's air control service confirmed that at least six CIA flights had landed at a disused military air base in northern Poland in 2003.
"It is time for the authorities to provide a full accounting of Poland's role in rendition," Adam Bodnar, of the Warsaw-based Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, said.
"These flight records reinforce the troubling findings of official European inquiries and global human rights groups, showing complicity with CIA abuse across Europe."
For years, European and human rights investigators have believed Poland played a key role in the secret renditions programme, which became a human rights scandal for the George Bush administration.
Name of source: WRAL (SC)
SOURCE: WRAL (SC) (2-21-10)
Archaeologists Heather Cline and Mary Socci say the 900-square-foot house was owned by Scottish immigrant William McKimmy and was built about 1790.
Name of source: Bennington Banner
SOURCE: Bennington Banner (2-19-10)
The announcement, made by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, includes a list of 41 parks and 14 historic sites to be closed outright, with service reductions to be made at 23 parks and one historic site.
Eileen Larrabee, a spokeswoman for the parks office, said that if the cuts are approved, it would save $6 million from the state’s budget. She said the recommendations from the office of parks to Gov. David Paterson’s office also include $4 million in fee increases at the remaining sites.
Closure means different things for different sites, she said, adding that "Every park and every historical site is unique."...
Name of source: News10Now (Newton, NY)
SOURCE: News10Now (Newton, NY) (2-22-10)
The park is part of the site of the battle of Newtown from the American Revolution. It hosts re-enactment events and offers visitors an opportunity to learn about local history, an opportunity that would be missed by the community....
Name of source: The Leaf Chronicle (TN)
SOURCE: The Leaf Chronicle (TN) (2-21-10)
For some African-American veterans of World War II, the segregation and animosity between the two races was something of a mystery.
Lloyd Morrison, 92, grew up near Boston, and he didn't know much about segregation until he tried to enter the military.
Morrison scored a 98 percent on his written entry exam for the Army Air Force and his vision was rated at 20/21. He was a perfect specimen to join the Army Air Force. Only the Army Air Force didn't see it that way. He was denied entry for his vision.
"I was stunned," Morrison said.
After asking around, Morrison learned he wasn't accepted because of his skin color, disappointing to a man of intelligence, holding a Harvard degree.
"I was upset by the attitudes of the so-called people in authority," he said....
Name of source: Stafford County Sun (VA)
SOURCE: Stafford County Sun (VA) (2-19-10)
The public meeting was held on Feb. 3.
Representatives from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield and Orange residents are challenging the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ decision to approve the supercenter near a historic battleground....
Name of source: Morristown Daily Record (NJ)
SOURCE: Morristown Daily Record (NJ) (2-16-10)
Dated: "Camp near Morristown April 16th 1780,'' Cpl. John Allison, a 25-year-old soldier in the 5th New York Regiment, sought the highest commander's relief to his plight, asking to be discharged as his three-year enlistment had expired.
"To His Excellancy Genl Washington Commander and Chief of the United States of North America -- Now Please your Excellancy I implore that you would deeme justice done in this affair and your Petitioner in Duty bound shall Pray.''
Robert A. Mayers, 79, of Watchung, found the letter -- which was written by his
great-great-great-grandfather -- in New York Public Library archives.
"I am amazed by this evidence that common soldiers believed that they had a personal relationship with the commander in chief,'' Mayers said.
The letter appears in Mayers' book, "The War Man,'' published by Westholme Publishing last year, which chronicles his ancestor's eight years in the Continental Army. A retired human resources executive, Mayers also served in as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during the Korean conflict....
Name of source: CNN
SOURCE: CNN (2-22-10)
But as the United States marks its first president's birthday, a new poll indicates that 74 percent of the public thinks the father of our country did lie to the public while he served as president. It's an indication that Americans think the government has been broken for a very, very long time.
The CNN/Opinion Corporation survey was released Monday on the 278th anniversary of Washington's birth.
Three quarters of people questioned in the survey think that modern-day federal officials are not honest, a figure that is essentially unchanged since 1994. But the poll suggests that Americans think the problem of dishonesty is not a new one.
And it's not just George Washington; 71 percent think that Abraham Lincoln, known as "Honest Abe," also lied to the public while serving in the White House.
SOURCE: CNN (2-20-10)
Fingers -- in the media and the intelligence community -- point toward Israel's spy agency Mossad as responsible. The agency is keeping quiet but has a history of operations in the Middle East, South America and Europe.
Dubai's police chief told the Dubai newspaper, The National, he was confident that a Mossad hit squad was behind the assassination of Mahmoud al Mabhouh.
In Israel, editorials have already moved on from asking if Mossad was responsible to querying if Mossad has made a mistake. An editorial in The Haaretz newspaper read: "Assassinations are neither effective nor legal and sometimes not moral -- when the target is a political leader or someone who could have been detained."
But Mossad and the Israeli government has stuck to the policy of ambiguity -- neither confirming nor denying a role in killing Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. By remaining silent, there are less likely to be international repercussions and any intelligence agency in the world likes to keep its enemies guessing.
But many operations in the past have been credited to Mossad. Undoubtedly one of the agency's greatest achievements was capturing Adolf Eichmann, an architect of the Holocaust....
SOURCE: CNN (2-20-10)
Haig, 85, was admitted to the Baltimore, Maryland, hospital on January 28 and died at 1:30 a.m. Saturday, hospital spokesman Gary Stephenson said.
Haig was a top official in the administrations of three presidents -- Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan.
Alexander Meigs Haig Jr. was born December 2, 1924, in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. He attended the University of Notre Dame for two years before transferring to the U.S. Military Academy in 1944. After his graduation in 1947, he served in Japan. He later served on Gen. Douglas MacArthur's staff in Japan during the Korean War.
Name of source: BBC
It will present the family of the poet, Miguel Hernandez, with an official letter rehabilitating his memory.
Hernandez was imprisoned as a traitor 70 years ago for supporting the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War, and died in prison at the age of 31.
The family applied for his rehabilitation under a 2007 law.
SOURCE: BBC (2-21-10)
The centuries-old minaret fell as hundreds of worshippers were attending Friday prayers at a mosque in the central city of Meknes.
Rescue workers recovered the last body from the rubble on Saturday.
There has been public criticism of the apparent lack of maintenance of the minaret.
SOURCE: BBC (2-21-10)
The 619-metre peak near Malibu, became Ballard Mountain after John Ballard, a blacksmith and former slave.
Dozens of Ballard's relatives attended the renaming ceremony on Saturday.
The name originally contained an even more offensive racial slur which appeared on federal maps, but was changed to "negro" in the 1960s.
Nearly 75 years after his death, the poet and author Rudyard Kipling remains as celebrated and controversial as ever.
And now, plans to turn the house in Mumbai where he was born in 1865 into a museum have been abandoned in the face of a huge political row. Kipling's birthplace is instead set to showcase paintings by local artists.
Up to 270 residents lost their lives between 19-21 February 1941, with hundreds more being injured or made homeless.
A collaboration between Swansea Museum and Create Solutions, a local project which works to turn around the career prospects of people dealing with mental health issues, has produced a documentary.
Andrew Steele, who is overcoming feelings of anxiety and depression, was the lead producer of Three Nights Blitz of February 1941 and says it's played a major part in his ongoing recovery.
The calls come six months after Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill freed terminally ill Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds.
Labour and the Tories have again hit out at the decision to return Megrahi to Libya, calling it a grave error.
A senior RAF officer visited retired waitress Florence Green at her home in King's Lynn, Norfolk, to present her with a cake and handwritten card.
Mrs Green joined the Women's RAF (WRAF) in September 1918 - two months before the Great War ended and six months after the RAF and WRAF were formed.
She served as a mess steward at Norfolk RAF bases in Marham and Narborough.
SOURCE: BBC (2-18-10)
The exhibition is built around his masterpiece The Dream (Il Sogno), bequeathed to the gallery in 1978.
It depicts a naked young man, thought to represent Tommasso de Cavalieri, being roused from sleep by a spirit.
The Michelangelo Dream exhibition, which also features handwritten sonnets to Cavalieri, will run until 16 May.
Bosworth, fought in 1485, which saw the death of Richard III, was believed to have taken place on Ambion Hill, near Sutton Cheney in Leicestershire.
But a study of original documents and archaeological survey of the area has now pinpointed a site in fields more than a mile to the south west.
A new trail will lead from the current visitor centre to the new location.
The celebrated but fair-skinned screen star, Gerard Depardieu, had to darken his skin and wear a curly wig to play the part in L'Autre Dumas.
Critics argue the French movie industry has deliberately undermined the 19th Century novelist's ethnicity.
They say a mixed race actor should have been chosen to play the national hero.
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (2-21-10)
That's about to change. For the first time in the school's history, Goshen College will play an instrumental version of the U.S. national anthem before many campus sporting events.
The decision to reverse the ban on the anthem is aimed at making students and visitors outside the faith feel more welcome, but it has roiled some at the 1,000-student college who feel the song undermines the church's pacifist message and puts love for county above love for God.
SOURCE: AP (2-20-10)
The truce between the rebel Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese government takes effect immediately, said Idriss Deby, Chad's president, in a statement.
The rebel group has been the most significant holdout in efforts to end the seven-year conflict in Darfur, in which 300,000 people have lost their lives to violence, disease and displacement.
Name of source: Irish Times
SOURCE: Irish Times (2-17-10)
Today is the last day for making submissions to An Bord Pleanála, which will adjudicate on the scheme under the 2006 Strategic Infrastructure Act.
Depending on the number of objections, the board may decide to hold an oral hearing.
The proposed route, running east of Slane, is being opposed by the newly formed Save Newgrange campaign, led by Vincent Salafia, who was prominent in the protracted struggle against the M3 motorway because of its proximity to the Hill of Tara.
Yesterday, Mr Salafia called on An Bord Pleanála to extend the deadline, arguing that the public notice was inadequate, that more time was needed by the public and that access to information on the project had been “unreasonably curtailed”....
Name of source: Jakarta Post
SOURCE: Jakarta Post (2-17-10)
Irfan Wintarto, an official at the Lahat Culture and Tourism Agency's Historical and Archeological Preservation Department, said local residents had discovered around 36 types of rocks on a 150-by-300-meter plot in the middle of a 2-hectare coffee plantation. The site is currently being investigated by the Archeological Region Conservation and Heritage Center (BPPP)....
Name of source: New Scientist
SOURCE: New Scientist (2-17-10)
Few researchers, though, had given any serious thought to the relatively small and inconspicuous marks around the cave paintings. The evidence of humanity's early creativity, they thought, was clearly in the elaborate drawings.
While some scholars like Clottes had recorded the presence of cave signs at individual sites, Genevieve von Petzinger, then a student at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, was surprised to find that no one had brought all these records together to compare signs from different caves. And so, under the supervision of April Nowell, also at the University of Victoria, she devised an ambitious masters project. She compiled a comprehensive database of all recorded cave signs from 146 sites in France, covering 25,000 years of prehistory from 35,000 to 10,000 years ago.
What emerged was startling: 26 signs, all drawn in the same style, appeared again and again at numerous sites (see illustration). Admittedly, some of the symbols are pretty basic, like straight lines, circles and triangles, but the fact that many of the more complex designs also appeared in several places hinted to von Petzinger and Nowell that they were meaningful - perhaps even the seeds of written communication....
Name of source: Archaeo News
SOURCE: Archaeo News (2-21-10)
Yangshao Culture is a Neolithic culture that flourished along the Yellow River, which runs across China from west to east. The culture was named after Yangshao, the name of the first village discovered of the culture, in 1921 in central China's Henan Province. Archaeologists used to believe the ceramics were applied to architecture in the Shang Dynasty (1600 BCE-1100 BCE), which had been proved wrong by the new discovery, Yang said....
Name of source: Salon
SOURCE: Salon (2-20-10)
Beck spends a lot of his time on his TV show talking about the 1920s; his CPAC speech was no different. It didn't take long before he had scrawled the real menace's name onto his chalkboard: "Progressivism." Woodrow Wilson and his allies have their tentacles deeply wound around today's politics, it seems; after all, liberals call themselves progressives, and if Wilson's bunch can be discredited, so can modern liberalism. QED! "After the Progressives got into office with Woodrow Wilson... he gives us the Fed -- how's that working out for us?" he said. "Then he gives us the -- let's remember this, America -- progressive income tax." He drew the word out into three or four extra syllables' worth of S's, sneering as he drew his theories out in chalk. "Everything's changed since the Progressives came," he said.
And if Wilson is the bad guy, Calvin Coolidge had to be the hero. Beck roused the crowd into a lengthy ovation for tax cuts Coolidge advocated nearly 90 years ago, which brought the nostalgia at CPAC to new highs. He mocked the media, accusing reporters of some sinister conspiracy to cover up the fact that the Roaring Twenties were good. And then suddenly he was jumping back to the modern day, bashing U.S. bond sales to China. It was hard to follow if you were trying to find any logic to it all, but that didn't seem to be a problem for many of the people in the room. It certainly wasn't for Beck....
Name of source: The Register
SOURCE: The Register (2-19-10)
Forensic nuke scientists at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) traced the two pieces of metal - described as a cube and a plate - back to their exact origins and dates. Apparently both came from ores extracted at the "Joachimsthal" mine in what is now the Czech Republic, though the two are from different production batches.
The cube, according to specialists at the JRC's Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU), was produced in 1943 for the Nazi nuclear programme and was used in the lab of famous boffin Werner Heisenberg (of uncertainty principle fame). The plate was apparently part of experiments by Heisenberg's collaborator Karl Wirtz.
Most historical analysis, with hindsight, suggests that the Nazi nuclear research programme never got very close to developing an atomic weapon. There was no equivalent of the Manhattan Project; rather, different lines of research were followed in different labs. Furthermore the Germans were hampered by having driven many top physicists out of the country with their anti-Semitic policies, and also by drafting other boffins into the army to fight as ordinary soldiers.
Not content with that, the Nazi leadership also chose to clash with the few top brains they had left. At one point Reichsfuhrer Himmler suggested that Heisenberg should be treated as a "White Jew", with presumably fatal consequences. Himmler later changed his mind, but this climate can hardly have encouraged Heisenberg to do his best work.
The halting progress of the Germans was largely unknown to the Allies, however, a factor which prompted the crash efforts of the Manhattan project. In particular, German plans to acquire large quantities of heavy water from Norway for use as a reactor moderator aroused intense worry among the Allies. A sequence of clandestine operations and bombing raids - by the French and British secret services, Norwegian resistance fighters, spec-ops troops and allied air forces - took place, which saw heavy water and its production tech stolen, repeatedly blown up and in one case sunk aboard a sabotaged ferry.
Though the Telemark operations were some of the greatest spec-ops successes ever seen, they may not in fact have been all that critical. After the war, Heisenberg said that he and his colleagues had always been doubtful of the potential of nuclear fission as an explosive. Furthermore, they had taken good care not to big that aspect of the research up to their Nazi masters, for reasons of self-interest.
"We definitely did not want to get into this bomb business," said Heisenberg. "I wouldn't like to idealize this; we did this also for our personal safety. We thought that the probability that this would lead to atomic bombs during the War was nearly zero. If we had done otherwise, and if many thousand people had been put to work on it and then if nothing had been developed, this could have had extremely disagreeable consequences for us."
Nowadays the Allied nations are once again deeply concerned about hostile countries developing nuclear weapons. According to the Euro nuke-forensics team at the JRC-ITU:
A key international topic today is the work of preventing the spread of nuclear weapon technology and illicit trafficking of nuclear materials that can be used for the production of nuclear weapons or so-called dirty bombs.
They've just set up
a new "large geometry secondary ion mass spectrometer" which they're very proud of, which should be very handy for nobbling nuclear malefactors.
Name of source: Science Daily
SOURCE: Science Daily (2-18-10)
The findings -- based on the first published analysis of the skeletal remains found in Carthaginian burial urns -- refute claims from as early as the 3rd century BCE of systematic infant sacrifice at Carthage that remain a subject of debate among biblical scholars and archaeologists, said lead researcher Jeffrey H. Schwartz, a professor of anthropology and history and philosophy of science in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences and president of the World Academy of Art and Science. Schwartz and his colleagues present the more benign interpretation that very young Punic children were cremated and interred in burial urns regardless of how they died.
"Our study emphasizes that historical scientists must consider all evidence when deciphering ancient societal behavior," Schwartz said. "The idea of regular infant sacrifice in Carthage is not based on a study of the cremated remains, but on instances of human sacrifice reported by a few ancient chroniclers, inferred from ambiguous Carthaginian inscriptions, and referenced in the Old Testament. Our results show that some children were sacrificed, but they contradict the conclusion that Carthaginians were a brutal bunch who regularly sacrificed their own children."
Schwartz worked with Frank Houghton of the Veterans Research Foundation of Pittsburgh, Roberto Macchiarelli of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, and Luca Bondioli of the National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography in Rome to inspect the remains of children found in Tophets, burial sites peripheral to conventional Carthaginian cemeteries for older children and adults. Tophets housed urns containing the cremated remains of young children and animals, which led to the theory that they were reserved for victims of sacrifice.
Schwartz and his coauthors tested the all-sacrifice claim by examining the skeletal remains from 348 urns for developmental markers that would determine the children's age at death. Schwartz and Houghton recorded skull, hip, long bone, and tooth measurements that indicated most of the children died in their first year with a sizeable number aged only two to five months, and that at least 20 percent of the sample was prenatal.
Schwartz and Houghton then selected teeth from 50 individuals they concluded had died before or shortly after birth and sent them to Macchiarelli and Bondioli, who examined the samples for a neonatal line. This opaque band forms in human teeth between the interruption of enamel production at birth and its resumption within two weeks of life. Identification of this line is commonly used to determine an infant's age at death. Macchiarelli and Bondioli found a neonatal line in the teeth of 24 individuals, meaning that the remaining 26 individuals died prenatally or within two weeks of birth, the researchers reported.
The contents of the urns also dispel the possibility of mass infant sacrifice, Schwartz and Houghton noted. No urn contained enough skeletal material to suggest the presence of more than two complete individuals. Although many urns contained some superfluous fragments belonging to additional children, the researchers concluded that these bones remained from previous cremations and may have inadvertently been mixed with the ashes of subsequent cremations.
The team's report also disputes the contention that Carthaginians specifically sacrificed first-born males. Schwartz and Houghton determined sex by measuring the sciatic notch -- a crevice at the rear of the pelvis that's wider in females -- of 70 hipbones. They discovered that 38 pelvises came from females and 26 from males. Two others were likely female, one likely male, and three undetermined.
Schwartz and his colleagues conclude that the high incidence of prenate and infant mortality are consistent with modern data on stillbirths, miscarriages, and infant death. They write that if conditions in other ancient cities held in Carthage, young and unborn children could have easily succumbed to the diseases and sanitary shortcomings found in such cities as Rome and Pompeii.
Name of source: Discovery News
SOURCE: Discovery News (2-18-10)
Hawass added that new light was shed on the cause of death for Tutankhamun with the discovery of DNA from the parasite that causes malaria; it is likely that the boy king died from complications resulting from a severe form of this disease.
However, some outside mummy experts contacted by Discovery News are sceptical, and question the claim that malaria and bone necrosis might have caused King Tut's demise.
SOURCE: Discovery News (2-17-10)
The very basic process is that when an animal, or multiple species, die out, others can come in to fill the previously occupied ecological niche. (It makes me wonder what animal(s) would fill the ecosystem void left by humans, should we become extinct.)
Matthew Phillips, an evolutionary biologist at the Australian National University, and his colleagues analyzed DNA for flightless birds, along with other data, to determine how the birds evolved. The study, published in the latest issue of the journal Systematic Biology, found that the ancestors of these birds, palaeognaths, could all fly. These ancient birds then all independently lost this ability around 65 million years ago, just as dinosaurs were going extinct. A coincidence? No.
SOURCE: Discovery News (2-17-10)
Keep in mind that animals can evolve similar traits independently. The accepted transition from dinosaur to bird, or in this proposed case—bird to dinosaur—didn't necessary follow a simple path from large beast to tiny, feathered flier. For example, some dinosaurs are thought to have had feathers and beaks, traits we now tend to associate with birds. It's also believed that some dinosaurs increased in size, shrunk, and then became large again. The evolutionary paths, in other words, don't always follow certain, predictable courses, since animals are constantly adapting to ever-changing habitats and climates.
The new PNAS paper doesn't entirely surprise me, because there have been recent discoveries of very bird-like dinosaurs that weren't even very closely related to birds. Check out our story on Haplocheirus sollers, for example. I tend to agree with Jonah Choiniere, lead author of that Science paper, who believes the first birds emerged out of the Maniraptora, aka "hand snatcher," clade, but birds and dinosaurs from that point on then went down different evolutionary paths.
John Ruben, a professor of zoology at Oregon State University, authored a commentary on the PNAS paper. Ruben doesn't dispute that birds and dinosaurs likely shared a common ancestor. Per the study, however, he suggests that once birds started down their own evolutionary path they may have given rise to raptors. This is where the debate heats up because he and others contend that very bird-like 'dinosaurs,' such as Velociraptor, may have actually been more bird than dinosaur.