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This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used.
This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used. Because most of our readers read the NYT we usually do not include the paper's stories in HIGHLIGHTS.
Name of source: CNN
SOURCE: CNN (2-5-10)
Boa Sr, who was around 85 years of age, died last week in the Andaman islands, about 750 miles off India's eastern coast, Survival International said in a statement.
The London-based group, which works to protect indigenous peoples, said she was the last member of one of ten distinct Great Andamanese tribes, the Bo.
"The Bo are thought to have lived in the Andaman islands for as long as 65,000 years, making them the descendants of one of the oldest human cultures on earth," it noted....
There were believed to be 5,000 of them when the British colonized the archipelago in 1858. Most of those tribal communities were subsequently killed or died of diseases, says Survival International....
"Boa's loss is a bleak reminder that we must not allow this to happen to the other tribes of the Andaman islands," Survival director Stephen Corry said in the statement. Andaman and Nicobar Islands authorities put at least five tribes in their list of vulnerable indigenous communities....
Among the tribes are the Sentinelese, who inhabit a 60-square-kilometer island.
Officials believe the group is probably the world's only surviving Paleolithic people without contact with any other community. They said the Sentinelese are very hostile and never leave their Island. Very little is known about them....
SOURCE: CNN (2-3-10)
If Mayor Nick Valentine gets his way, the town of 30,000 will host the terror trial of accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged accomplices.
About 60 miles up the Hudson River from New York City, Newburgh struggles with poverty, unemployment and crime. In 2004, the town was dubbed the third worst metropolitan area in the country.
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (1-29-10)
Strict racial segregation existed when Archer volunteered to be a pilot. He and like-minded African-Americans were at first rejected because many people thought black men lacked intelligence, skill, courage and patriotism. Eventually, in June 1941, a series of legislative moves by the US Congress forced the Army Air Corps to form an all-black combat unit, despite the War Department's reluctance. The pilots trained at a segregated Army Air Corps unit at Tuskegee Army Airfield, Alabama, and for ever more became known as the "Tuskegee Airmen".
Lee A Archer was born on September 6 1919 in Yonkers and raised in New York's Harlem district. He left New York University to enlist in the air corps in 1941 but, after rejection, trained in the infantry and then as a signaller. In December 1942 he was accepted for pilot training and left for Tuskegee. He graduated in July 1943, first in the order of merit, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant....
Archer lived long enough to see the service of Tuskegee airmen fully, if belatedly, acknowledged. In March 2007, about 350 airmen and widows received the Congressional Gold Medal of Honour from President George W Bush at a ceremony in the US Capitol. The present-day 99th Flying Training Squadron's aircraft are adorned with red tails in honour of the black airmen. Many streets and parklands bear their name, and in August 2008 the city of Atlanta officially renamed a portion of the state's Route 6 in their honour....
Honoured by the American Fighter Pilots' Association, Archer was described by a colleague as "extremely competent, sometimes stubborn but with a heart of gold. He treated people with respect and demanded respect by the way he carried himself."...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (2-5-10)
A group of Japanese musicians have been loaned the piano from its owner Yoko Matsuba, an 84-year-old survivor of the nuclear bombing.
The piano will be used in a concert taking place in the autumn at the United Nations headquarters in New York in order to promote global peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.
The instrument was in the Hiroshima home of Matsuba when United States aircraft dropped the first atomic bomb over the city on 6 August, 1945.
Around 140,000 people were estimated to have been killed and 60 per cent of buildings in the city were destroyed, but both the piano and its owner managed to survive.
The piano, bought by Matsuba's mother in 1933, and sustained only slight damage after being toppled over by the explosion, despite its location only 1.3 km from ground zero.
Matsuba, who now lives in Sendai, north Japan, agreed to rent the piano to the group for one year, describing such a use as an "honour", according to Kyodo News.
Musicians involved in the piano project plan to perform concerts with peace-themed music in as many as 40 places in Japan using the historic instrument, including Kyoto and Nara.
The concerts will aim to raise the 20 million yen funds necessary to finance transportation costs for the performance to take place in the US in September, according to Makoto Kajita, 50, who has launched the project with backing from Hiroshima city government.
''We hope to convey how precious peace is through the beautiful sound of the 'atomic bomb piano' which survived that horrible experience," Mr Kajita told Kyodo News.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (2-2-10)
Giving evidence before the Chilcot Committee into the war, she repeatedly accused the former prime minister of personally “misleading” and “conning” her, and of being “deceitful” with Cabinet, Parliament, and the public.
Miss Short claimed that Mr Blair broke the ministerial code by misleading Parliament, and accused Lord Goldsmith, the former attorney general who gave the “green light” to war, of failing to tell the Cabinet the truth of his reservations about the legality of an invasion.
When she tried to ask questions in Cabinet, Miss Short was “jeered” at, and Mr Blair told her to “be quiet”.
Yet the redoubtable duchess has hit out at the "sloppy-sentimental" culture of "self-pity and self-esteem" which has overtaken modern society, and lamented the demise of Britain's traditional stiff upper lip.
The duchess, who will celebrate her 90th birthday in March, said she did not see the point of dwelling on misfortune. The wartime generation just got on things. "Grief - it is part of life. The disaster of someone dying was talked about for a bit and the person was mourned, but you didn't go on about it and take pills and have to be counselled.
"Money and illness and sex were not talked about in those days and they are the only things people talk about these days, aren't they?
"Self-pity and self-esteem, which are now the key things in schools, were not allowed. Self-esteem? Nanny used to say, 'Who's going to look at you?"
The Mitford sisters famously wrote hundreds of letters to one another, with a lightness of touch which sometimes seemed at odds with the events they discussed.
Under the post-1945 German constitution, the dissemination of Nazi philosophy has been a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment.
But the copyright, held by the state of Bavaria where the Nazi movement began life in the 1920s, expires in 2015, 70 years after the death of its author in his Berlin bunker.
On Thursday the Munich-based Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) pledged to publish an "annotated version" with historical notes that it hopes will see the book used in schools and colleges.
With the help of his wife, a French lawyer whom he married in prison, Sánchez has demanded that the producers hand over the master copy of the footage for her to check for errors and potentially make changes before it is broadcast on the French Canal+ channel, the Guardian reports.
Better known as Carlos the Jackal, Sánchez once claimed, in front of the television cameras, to have killed more than 1,500 people in the pursuit of Palestinian liberation.
But the Venezuelan revolutionary, serving life imprisonment for the murder of two French intelligence officials and their informant in 1975, recently seems to have decided to shun the media.
John Demjanjuk is accused of being a guard at Sobibor camp in occupied Poland and aiding the murder of 27,900 Dutch Jews who were gassed during his alleged time there.
Mr Vaitsen, a Jewish veteran paratrooper who is seriously ill after several heart attacks, was shown a photograph of John Demjanjuk by a reporter.
Mr Vaitsen is the first living witness to positively identify Demjanjuk, who is on trial in Munich in what is likely to be the last major case dealing with war crimes by the Nazi regime.
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (2-2-10)
The group are seeking damages for crimes committed during the 1893-1899 war in the northwestern Bunyoro region.
Their lawyer Crispus Ayena Odongo said: "Before this war the population of Bunyoro was stated to be 2.5 million. But by the end of the war there were only 150,000 Bunyoro that could be accounted for.
When the British began their colonial project in present-day Uganda they were received warmly by one the country's largest tribes, the Buganda, according to several historical works.
However, the Bunyoro, the other dominant kingdom in the area, was resistant.
Mr Lucas, who is also believed to be the world’s third oldest man, said he had never smoked, enjoys only the odd glass of sherry, and had never travelled far.
He has received seven cards from the Queen, the first when he was aged 100, and one every year from 105 to 110.
Mr Lucas, who was born on Jan 15, 1900, played bowls for Cornwall in the 1970s, and continued the sport until he was over 100.
An appeals chamber ordered that evidence which could support a genocide indictment must be looked at again after it was discarded during earlier hearings.
The International Criminal Court charged Mr Bashir with seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes in March last year.
But prosecutors' requests that three counts of genocide be added to that charge sheet were denied by the Court's judges.
Returning from lunch, James Milner was told that an elderly man had "shot himself and a woman in the East Wing," he wrote in a typed report dated 26 February 1909.
The tale is from the gallery's archive, dating back to its founding in 1856, which have until now only been available to view by appointment.
It is being catalogued to be put online thanks to an £18,000 public grant. A third of the archive has been catalogued so far and work continues on the rest.
The sculpture, considered to be one of the most important by the 20th century Swiss artist, was estimated to sell for between £12 million and £18 million.
The previous record was a Picasso painting, Boy with a Pipe, which was his haunting Rose Period portrait of a youngster called "Little Louis", who used to hang around his studio in Paris, which was sold for $104million (£58.5m) in 2004.
It eclipsed the previous record of $82.5 million paid for Van Gogh's Portrait of Dr Gachet in 1990 and also became the first $100million painting
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (2-5-10)
“We hope to prevent neo-Nazi publications by putting out a commented, scholarly edition before that,” said Edith Raim, a historian at the institute. “‘Mein Kampf’ is one of the central texts if you want to explain National Socialism, and it hasn’t been available in a commented edition at all in Germany.”
But the Bavarian government opposed the idea, citing respect for victims of the Holocaust. In a statement Thursday, the Bavarian Finance Ministry said that permits for reprints would not be issued, at home or abroad. “This also applies to a new annotated edition,” said the statement, adding that the state would use “all means at its disposal to proceed against any violations.”...
SOURCE: NYT (2-3-10)
In recent years, “Collection World” and a dozen other similar shows — with names like “Treasure Appraisal” and “Art Collector” — have been luring both serious collectors and armchair enthusiasts, offering information on collecting trends and appraisal techniques, and encouraging a new wave of treasure hunting.
While some in the antiques world laud these programs for turning antiquing into a national pastime, others are skeptical of their educational value. As Yan Zhentang, the president of the Chinese Collectors’ Association, noted, “These shows certainly help get ordinary people interested in antiques, but the bottom line is they are just entertainment, and they make mistakes.”...
Nevertheless, the shows have attracted a devoted following. Zhou Yajun, a long-distance truck driver and collector from Hebei Province, near Beijing, said he watched “Collection World” and other antiques shows every week, testing his appraisal skills against those of the judges in the hope that he could learn to outwit the counterfeiters who prey on the country’s amateur antiquarians....
Perhaps wisely, Mr. Zhou has come up with his own way of evaluating authenticity: “After I buy something, I put it in my home for two days,” he said. “If I start to like it, it’s real. If not, it’s counterfeit.”...
Name of source: WaPo
SOURCE: WaPo (2-5-10)
On Wednesday night on a plain stage at the National Museum of American History, a floor below where an eight-foot-long portion of that same lunch counter is on exhibit, stood living history. Now only three remain, Jibreel Khazan (formerly Ezell Blair Jr.), Franklin E. McCain and Joseph A. McNeil; together they heard, over and over again, but respectfully, how they had sat down so others could stand up....
After the ceremony, McCain, whose home is in Charlotte, sat by the old counter, posing for pictures and signing slips of paper. "The whole concept of honoring the 50th anniversary is humbling. It causes some introspection. People have made some conclusions, and I have to ask, 'Did I measure up?' " said McCain, a chemist who is now chairman of the North Carolina A&T State University board of trustees....
Name of source: Voice of America
SOURCE: Voice of America (2-5-10)
Ansary begins with two lists of the pivotal periods in human history – as seen both through Western eyes and through Islamic eyes. For both, it is the year 3500 BC (before Christ in the Western calendar) – or 3500 BCE (before the Common Era, as it’s known in both Muslim and Jewish traditions). “The first traces of what you might call ‘civilization’ emerged along the Tigris and Euphrates River and a little later in Egypt,” Ansary said. “Writing is part of it; cities are part of it; irrigation systems and inventions like the wheel.”...
In terms of cultural identity, the most critical historical period for Muslims is the birth of Islam – specifically the Hijra, the flight of the Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE. “About 610," Ansary recounts, “the Prophet went to a cave and meditated. And he felt he had been visited by the angel Gabriel, who told him he was the messenger of Allah. That message was that there is only one God. You shouldn’t worship idols. This one God has given humanity freedom of choice, but will hold them responsible for their choices. Time will end and there will be a day of judgment, and people will be sorted into those who have done good, who will go to heaven, and those who have done evil, who will go to hell – for eternity.”
“When the Prophet fled to Medina because he was being persecuted in Mecca,” Ansary said, “he became not only a preacher but also the leader of a political community, the Muslim community, and that marks the turning point of history.”...
By the end of the 11th century of the Common Era, the dream of a universal Muslim community at the political level had failed, according to Ansary. “It crumbled because the Caliphate got too big. The technology of the time was not sufficient to have one capital administering a realm that stretched from India to Spain,” he said....
The next major period from an Islamic perspective was that of the three great empires. Of these, the Ottoman Empire was the largest. “It encompassed North Africa, Asia Minor to the edge of what is now Iran, and it spilled over into Eastern Europe,” Ansary said. The Persian Safavid Empire in Central Asia was a bit larger than modern-day Iran. And the Moghul Empire in South Asia included what are now India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and part of Afghanistan....
“When the West came to the East, the East was at the peak of its power, in terms of how it felt about itself, so the Muslims didn’t perceive the Western traders as a threat,” Ansary said. Throughout this period, when the West was becoming dominant in the East, he suggests, that domination was not primarily in terms of military conflict. “In fact, the wars that were going on were generally those between different Muslim powers,” he explains....
The rise of secular modernists in the Islamic world – such as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Turkey, Mohammed Ali Jinnah in Pakistan, and Gamal Abdul Nasser in Egypt – is a 20th century phenomenon. Ansary describes Ataturk as a “radical extremist” in the Islamic context. “In many ways he overthrew the idea of a traditional Islamic society in favor of a secular Western idea. He said that Turks could practice Islam as a religion, but it had nothing to do with the government,” Ansary explained. And in Turkey, he noted, it became the job of the army to guarantee the secularism of the government....
“I’m not suggesting that books like mine should be part of the curriculum in the schools of the West,” Ansary said. “But I do think it is supplementary reading, and that could also encompass Indian and Chinese and other histories,” Ansary suggested.
SOURCE: Voice of America (2-4-10)
Six astronauts rocketed toward orbit and the international space station. The mission had special meaning for Dr. Robert (Bobby) Satcher and Leland Melvin. They became the first African-American men to fly together on a shuttle mission.
Astronaut Bobby Satcher became the second African-American to space walk. He also made NASA history, becoming the first orthopedic surgeon in space, conducting a number of medical experiments. He says the future is bright for black astronauts.
"There is still a lot of firsts for us [black astronauts] to do and hopefully we will run out of those firsts pretty quickly because it is certainly my desire that one of the legacies that I would certainly like to leave behind is bringing in more African-American astronauts," said Bobby Satcher....
Since 1983 there have been 20 black astronauts in the U.S. space program. Both Melvin and Satcher say they hope there will be many more African-American space explorers inspired by what they've accomplished, not only in outer space but on Earth.
Name of source: Belfast Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Belfast Telegraph (UK) (2-5-10)
DUP leader Peter Robinson said his party's elected representatives at the Stormont Assembly had backed a deal with Sinn Fein and can now move forward on devolution of policing and justice.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown and taoiseach Brian Cowen are expected to travel to Belfast this morning to put their seal on the deal.
The deal on policing, justice and parades comes after nearly two weeks of round-the-clock talks at Hillsborough Castle, Co Down....
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (2-5-10)
The photograph, shot in 1939, is probably the last taken of him before he was murdered in the Holocaust.
A group in the boy's hometown of Lublin is using the social networking site to breathe virtual life into Henio's stolen childhood and give people around the world the chance to get to know him -- as well as mourn the millions of others killed by Nazi Germany.
With nearly 3,000 friends, Henio's page is one of the most striking examples of a new phenomenon in which people are setting up Facebook memorials for the victims of the past century's greatest tragedies. Another project in Belgium attempts to create Facebook pages for each of the 27,594 Allied soldiers who were killed in Belgium during WWII, and Anne Frank and the Auschwitz memorial site are also on Facebook.
Facebook and MySpace users have long been creating memorial pages for friends and family, but these new projects aim to rekindle lives of the more distant dead who might otherwise be forgotten.
"Henio was an eyewitness and a victim to the Nazis' actions. Because he was murdered, he could never provide his testimony," his page says in a post written by Neta Zytomirski Avidar, a cousin of Henio's who lives in Israel and has helped build the site. "We try to guess what might have been his testimony."
On Henio's page, postings made by Henio's cousin and other administrators shift between third-person descriptions of his life and posts in the voice of dead boy.
One of Henio's pictures shows a Hebrew-language book -- the kind Henio would have studied from if the war hadn't broken out on what was to have been his first day of school, preventing him from ever attending.
The caption in Polish reads: "It will be September soon. I will go to school. I wonder what's it like at school. I'm a bit afraid. Daddy says there is no need to be afraid. After all -- he is a teacher. Today I saw my textbook."
Some historians and educators fear the use of the social media in war remembrance could trivialize tragedies like the Holocaust, or that postings like those in Henio's name could blur the boundaries between fact and fiction.
Adam Kopciowski, a historian at Lublin's Marie Curie-Sklodowska University who specializes in Jewish studies, believes posts written in the dead boy's voice raise ethical questions and amount to "abuse toward a child that has been dead for the past 70 years."
"This is an act of pretending to be a person that has died, but we cannot be sure whether he spoke that way, whether he thought that way, whether he acted that way," Kopciowski said.
Certainly amid the postings for Henio, some mundane, even silly, messages can be found on his Wall, such as invitations to play the popular Facebook game Mafia Wars. Some send him little virtual gifts: a bouquet of flowers, honey from Israel, dreidels at Hanukkah.
Joy Sather-Wagstaff, a cultural anthropologist at North Dakota State University, said the virtual gifts should not necessarily be seen as frivolous.
"I look at this as a virtual version of what they would leave if they actually went to a place where there was a monument to him. I bet they would leave little notes and toys -- the physical material version of what you see them leaving on Facebook."
Sather-Wagstaff co-facilitated an informal December conference in Washington, D.C., co-hosted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum entitled "Conscience Un-conference: Using Social Media for Good" -- in which Henio's page was a focus of discussion.
She said she sees the Henio phenomenon as one way people today grapple with what death means in an era of great tragedies of scale, from the Sept. 11 attacks to the recent earthquake in Haiti.
Pawel Brozek, a history student who helps administer the site, said that when the project was launched last summer, it initially drew criticism from several Poles who said it insulted Henio's dignity. But those voices were quickly hushed by an outpouring of positive reaction from around the world.
Anthropologist Mark Auslander, a Brandeis University professor who specializes in the use of ritual and art in commemorating the dead, said he believes social media like Facebook are "vital new technologies" that hold great promise in education, and that Henio's site is one of the most captivating he has seen.
He discussed Henio in a recent blog, writing that "thousands of people log on in order to enter in to some sort of symbolic exchange with the Dead, to engage in an act of nurturing directed towards the other world."
"The phenomenon is very fascinating," Auslander told The Associated Press. "It tells us something profound about our deep desire around the world to be linked to one another through these fragile traces of memory. And this is potentially a very wonderful and beautiful thing."
Technically speaking, Henio's page goes against Facebook rules: Profile pages are meant primarily for individuals who are still living, to communicate with one another, share photos, play games. For users who have died, it's possible to set up a "memorialized" account so friends and family can pay tribute.
Pages for businesses, celebrities and other public figures, meanwhile, generally have "fans" instead of "friends" -- and that should also be the case for victims of historic tragedies like Henio, said Facebook spokesman Brandee Barker.
A big reason for this is that Facebook limits the number of "friends" individual users can have to 5,000. Fan pages for businesses and public figures have no such limit, so any number of Facebook users could join as fans in tribute to the individual's life, Barker said.
She added that in "certain cases," Facebook will work with users to "migrate" a profile page to a fan page.
Henio and his family were forced in 1941 by the Nazis to live in Lublin's ghetto -- one of the hellish places where many Polish Jews died from a lack of food, diseases or random executions.
At some point in 1942 Henio and his father Szmuel were sent to the nearby Majdanek death camp, and it is believed he died there by early 1943. His father was killed there soon after.
Henio's Facebook page evolved from earlier commemorative projects launched by the group "Grodzka Gate-NN Teater" that uses theater and other forms of performance to resurrect the memory of the 40,000 Jews who lived in the eastern Polish city before the war -- a third of the city's population.
Henio was chosen because a trove of family pictures and letters was made available to the Lublin group by his cousin.
"Forty-thousand names and faces ... cannot be memorized," Henio's profile says, urging people instead to: "Remember just one of them."
In a typical response, an Italian Facebook "friend" of Henio's wrote this month: "Little Henio, I think about you often. I consider your presence on Facebook a great opportunity to reflect, more real than many friendships granted to real people. Thank you, Henio. I hope you can have many friends."
Piotr Kadlcik, the leader of Poland's Jewish community, said that in today's rapidly changing world he welcomes the effort.
"Absolutely all forms that help us spread information about the past should be used and encouraged," Kadlcik said. "These are not times for honoring people with huge marble monuments and official ceremonies."
A similar drive is also behind a new Belgian attempt to create Facebook pages for each of the 27,594 Allied soldiers who were killed in Belgium during WWII and are buried in Belgian cemeteries, men from countries including the U.S., Britain, France and Australia.
High school students are each being asked to research the lives and battles of a chosen soldier and -- with the help of archives kept by the Institute for Veterans -- produce a Facebook page for each one with photos, audio and video. It is hoped relatives of the dead soldiers will submit whatever documents and other evidence they have.
The first Facebook page created as part of that project honors Lance Cpl. Thomas Leslie Cartwright of High Wycombe, England. Cartwright was killed in fighting in 1944 and is buried in the Kasterlee War Cemetery in northern Belgium along with 99 comrades of the British Army's Royal Scots.
The plan is to have each soldier documented on Facebook by 2014, when the country will mark the 70th anniversary of Belgium's liberation.
"You are only dead if no one talks about you anymore," said Pol Van Den Driessche, a Belgian senator who launched the project, known as "Live and Remember."
SOURCE: AP (2-2-10)
Erna Solberg, the head of Norway's Conservative Party, put forth Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina and Memorial, a prominent rights group she works with.
Kwame Anthony Appiah, president of the PEN American Center and a Princeton philosophy professor, said in a statement that he had nominated Liu Xiaobo, a recently jailed Chinese dissident, for his "distinguished and principled leadership in the area of human and political rights and freedom of expression." The Chinese government urged the jury to disregard the submission....
Former Illinois Governor George Ryan — now imprisoned after being convicted of federal corruption charges — was nominated by Francis A. Boyle, a law professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, for his campaign to abolish the death penalty.
The Internet was proposed by the Italian version of Wired magazine, which cited its use as a tool to advance "dialogue, debate and consensus through communication" and to promote democracy. Organizers said signatories to its petition backing the nomination include 2003 peace laureate and exiled Iranian activist Shirin Ebadi — which would make it a legitimate entry.
SOURCE: AP (2-4-10)
James Wenneker Von Brunn, a white supremacist, died in January; a court filing Wednesday asks that the federal case against him be closed.
The filing says that a medical examiner provided Von Brunn's certificate of death and that he died naturally but as a result of a variety of medical conditions.
SOURCE: AP (2-3-10)
Presiding Judge Ralph Alt said the doctors at the prison hospital where Demjanjuk is being held reported he was suffering from dangerously low hemoglobin levels and needed treatment.
However, doctors thought the proceedings would be able to resume Thursday as scheduled, Alt said.
SOURCE: AP (2-3-10)
The move could temporarily defuse a major source of tension ahead of key March elections, but leaves the ultimate issue of a political blacklist unresolved.
The list — which has more than 450 names — was widely criticized by Sunni political leaders who claimed it was being used as a political tool to marginalize them by the Shiite-led government.
Name of source: BBC News
John Bullard and Maxwell Anderson, directors of museums in New Orleans and Indianapolis, waged the online betting match on Twitter.
The pair agreed to loan paintings - by JMW Turner and Claude Lorrain - to the other, if their team loses on Sunday.
The Super Bowl painting exchange will last for three months.
A Colts win would bring Ideal View of Tivoli, by French painter Claude Lorrain, to the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA).
Conversely, the IMA will lend The Fifth Plague of Egypt, by the 19th Century English landscape artist Turner, to the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) if the Saints are victorious.
The Twitter exchange was sparked at the end of January by arts blogger Tyler Green, of Modern Art Notes, who tweeted: "Would love to see @IMAmuseum and @NOMA1910 make a Super Bowl bet. Like a painting-loan-to-the-winning city."
The challenge was accepted and quickly escalated to an all-out betting war.
Mr Anderson opened the stakes by offering a contemporary artwork by Ingrid Calame to NOMA, in the event of a Saints victory, but Mr Bullard dismissed it and upped the ante by offering first its Renoir painting - Seamstress at Window, circa 1908 - then a jewel-encrusted cup by French artist Jean-Valentine Morel.
But it was dismissed by Mr Bullard as "that gaudy chalice", adding: "Let's get serious. Each museum needs to offer an artwork that they would really miss for three months. What would you like, Max? A Monet, a Cassatt, a Picasso, a Miro?"
Mr Anderson offered the Turner in response, and NOMA eventually pledged Lorrain's 1644 work, Ideal View of Tivoli.
The Super Bowl wager was sealed on Wednesday with Mr Anderson's tweet: "@NOMA1910 Deal - Claude for Turner. Two masters in spirited competition across the channel, and between our fair cities. Go Colts!"
The annual Super Bowl is the biggest event in the US sporting calendar.
Reginald Earnshaw was aged 14 years and 152 days when he died under enemy fire on the SS North Devon on 6 July 1941.
The merchant navy cabin boy had lied about his age, claiming he was 15, so he could join the war effort.
His sister Pauline Harvey, 77, will mark his birthday on Friday by laying flowers at his grave in Comely Bank Cemetery, Edinburgh.
Official confirmation of Mr Earnshaw's age by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) was made after his sister responded to their nationwide appeal for his relatives to come forward.
During the graveside visit, Mrs Harvey and her great-niece Jenny will also meet relatives of Douglas Crichton and Reg Mitchell, who were also killed in the attack off the Norfolk coast.
Mrs Harvey, a retired teacher from Epworth in North Lincolnshire, was nine when her brother was killed.
She said: "Reggie's death at such a young age and after just a few months at sea came as a great shock to the whole family.
"I am immensely grateful to so many people who helped research my brother's forgotten story, and to the War Graves Commission for providing his grave with a headstone."
Mr Earnshaw's story came to light after a shipmate conducted research to find out what happened to his friend.
Former machine gunner Alf Tubb was 18 when their merchant ship was bombed by German planes on its way to Tyneside in July 1941.
He returned fire before rushing to the engine room to find Mr Earnshaw, but was beaten back by steam. Five other people died in the attack.
More than four years ago Mr Tubb, 86, of Swansea, decided to find out where his friend had been laid to rest and tracked down information through an internet appeal.
He discovered Reggie's body had been buried in an unmarked grave in Edinburgh and, following Mr Tubb's efforts, a permanent granite headstone was erected by the CWGC last year.
It is now known that Mr Earnshaw was born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, on 5 February 1927 to Dorothy Earnshaw.
She later married Eric Shires and the couple had two daughters, Pauline and Neva. The family moved to the Granton area of Edinburgh in 1939 when Mr Earnshaw was 12.
He attended Bellevue School and left, aged 14, to join the merchant navy in February 1941.
Ranald Leask, of the CWGC, said: "Having last year erected a headstone at Reggie's grave, we at the War Graves Commission are very pleased that Mrs Harvey contacted us.
"She will now be able to choose an inscription for her brother's headstone and provide Reggie with a fitting final tribute."
The youngest known service casualty of World War II was previously recorded as Raymond Steed, another merchant seaman who was killed aged 14 years and 207 days.
My journey as a scientist exploring the world's vanishing languages has taken me from the Siberian forests to the Bolivian Altiplano, from a McDonald's in Michigan to a trailer park in Utah. In all these places I've listened to last speakers - dignified elders - who hold in their minds a significant portion of humanity's intellectual wealth.
Though it belongs solely to them and has inestimable value to their people, they do not hoard it. In fact they are often eager to share it. What can we learn from these languages before they go extinct? And why should we lift a finger to help rescue them?
As the last speakers converse, they spin individual strands in a vast web of knowledge, a noosphere of possibilities. They tell how their ancestors calculated accurately the passing of seasons without clocks or calendars. How humans adapted to hostile environments, from the Arctic to Amazonia.
We imagine eureka moments taking place in modern laboratories or classical civilizations. But key insights of biology, pharmacology, genetics, and navigation arose and persisted solely by word of mouth, in small, unwritten tongues. Finally, this web of knowledge contains feats of human ingenuity -epics, myths, rituals - that celebrate and interpret our existence.
Pundits argue that linguistic differences are little more than random drift, minor variations in meaning and pronunciation that emerge over time (the British say 'lorry', Americans 'truck'; Tuesday is CHEWS-day, for Brits, TOOZ-day for Americans).
These reveal nothing interestingly different about our souls or minds, some claim. But that's like saying that the Pyramid of Cheops differs from Notre Dame Cathedral only by stone-cutting techniques that evolved randomly in different times and places; revealing nothing unique in the ancient Egyptian or Medieval French imagination.
All cultures encode their genius in verbal monuments, while considerably fewer do so in stone edifices. We might as well proclaim human history banal, and human genius of no value to our survival.
The fate of languages is interlinked with that of species, as they undergo parallel extinctions. Scientific knowledge is comparable for both domains, with an estimated 80% of plant and animal species unknown to science, and 80% of languages yet to be documented.
But species and ecosystems unknown to science are well-known to local people, whose languages encode not only names for things, but also complex interrelations among them.
Packaged in ways that resist direct translation, this knowledge dissipates when people shift to speaking global tongues. What the Kallawaya of Bolivia know about medicinal plants, how the Yupik of Alaska name 99 distinct sea ice formations, how the Tofa of Siberia classify reindeer. Entire domains of ancient knowledge, only scantily documented, are rapidly eroding.
Linguistic survivors hold the fates of languages in their minds and mouths.
Johnny Hill, Jr of the Chemehuevi tribe of Arizona is a big, imposing man, but he instantly wins people over with his gentle humility. Designated "last speaker" of Chemehuevi, Johnny achieved celebrity in the 2008 documentary film The Linguists.
Although he had never previously travelled far from his reservation or flown on an airplane, Johnny mesmerized film festival-goers with his life story. Raised by his grandmother who spoke only Chemehuevi, Johnny learned English at school seeking a path out of isolation.
At the other end of his lifespan, Johnny finds himself linguistically isolated once again. "I have to talk to myself," he explains resignedly. "There's nobody left to talk to, all the elders have passed on, so I talk to myself... that's just how it is."
Johnny has tried to teach his children and others in the tribe. "Trouble is," he sighs, "they say they want to learn it, but when it comes time to do the work, nobody comes around."
Speakers react differently to loss - from indifference to despair - and adopt diverse strategies. Some blame governments or globalization, others blame themselves. Around the world, a growing wave of language activists works to revitalize their threatened tongues. Positive attitudes are the single most powerful force keeping languages alive, while negative ones can doom them.
Two dozen language hotspots have now been identified globally, and new technologies are being mobilised to the cause.
A Torres Straits' Islander in Australia told me: "Our language is standing still, we need to make it relevant to today's society. We need to create new words, because right now we can't say 'computer'."
The lowly text message may lift obscure tongues to new levels of prestige, translated software may help them cross the digital divide. Hip-hop performed in threatened tongues, as I've heard among young Aka speakers in India, infuses new vitality.
Language revitalisation will prove to be one of the most consequential social trends of coming decades. This push-back against globalization will profoundly influence human intellectual life, deciding the fate of ancient knowledge.
What hubris allows us, cocooned comfortably in our cyber-world, to think that we have nothing to learn from people who a generation ago were hunter-gatherers? What they know - which we've forgotten or never knew - may some day save us.
We hear their voices, now muted, sharing knowledge in 7,000 different ways of speaking. Let's listen while we still can.
"Given the original recipe no longer exists this may open a door into history." The alcohol was removed from the ice by the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust, which had initially believed there to be just two crates. Al Fastier from the trust said:"To our amazement we found five crates, three labelled as containing whisky and two labelled as containing brandy."The unexpected find of the brandy crates, one labelled Chas Mackinlay & Co and the other labelled The Hunter Valley Distillery Limited, Allandale, are a real bonus." Ernest Shackleton. Copyright Shackleton Foundation Shackleton's expedition to reach the South Pole was unsuccessful Mr Fastier said the trust was confident the crates contained intact alcohol, given that liquid could be heard when the crates were moved. The smell of whisky in the surrounding ice also indicated full bottles of spirits were inside, albeit that one or more might have broken. Shackleton's expedition ran short of supplies on their long trek to the South Pole from Cape Royds in 1907-1909 and they eventually fell about 100 miles (160 kilometres) short of their goal. Shackleton's expedition sailed from Cape Royds hurriedly in 1909 as winter ice began forming in the sea, forcing them to leave some equipment and supplies, including the whisky, behind. However, no lives were lost. The pole was first reached in 1911 by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen.
It is the first Russian ceremony to mark the murdering by Soviet secret police of more than 20,000 Polish prisoners of war in April 1940.
The invitation is being hailed in Poland as a breakthrough that could lead to improved bilateral ties.
Mr Putin said he understood the significance of the massacre to Poles.
He told Mr Tusk in a telephone call that their joint appearance at the ceremony in April would be an important symbolic gesture, said a Polish government spokesman.
A former Polish foreign minister, Adam Rotfeld, who now heads a committee tackling difficult issues between the two countries, hailed Mr Putin's invitation as an important event in the normalisation of Polish-Russian relations.
The mass execution of Polish army and police officers in the forests of Katyn and other sites has long been one of the most difficult issues between the two countries.
For half a century the Soviet Union blamed the killings on the Nazis.
In 1990, Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev finally admitted Soviet responsibility.
More recently, Moscow's refusal to declassify the archives, and a Russian court ruling that the massacre did not warrant the term genocide, has angered many in Poland.
A lower court had previously awarded charities the money - but that decision was overturned on 12 January and the ruling released on 3 February.
However, the Swiss government has blocked the release of the money until a law is passed to return it to Haiti.
The exile, known as Baby Doc, allegedly looted millions. He denies wrong-doing.
The court decision was made hours before the Haiti earthquake killed at least 150,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless.
The three-week delay before the ruling had been released was a common feature of Swiss courts, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
The Federal Supreme Court reversed the lower court's ruling that the money should go to aid groups in Haiti because the statute of limitations on any crimes committed by the Duvalier clan expired in 2001.
The court decision cannot be appealed.
But the Swiss Foreign Ministry said it would continue to block the release of the money while it formulated a better law dealing with assets of "criminal origin".
The government was keen "to avoid the Swiss financial centre serving as a haven for illegally acquired assets," it said in a statement.
"We assume that this money doesn't belong to the Duvalier family," said Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, according to AP.
"We've blocked the money again... to prevent that it goes somewhere that it shouldn't for political reasons.
"We really hope that this money finally goes back to the country."
The Duvaliers ruled Haiti from 1957, when Papa Doc came to power, helped by his brutal private militia, the Tontons Macoutes.
On his father's death in 1971, 19-year-old Baby Doc was named president for life.
Haiti first asked for the money to be returned in 1986 shortly after Baby Doc fled unrest and settled in France.
But Switzerland refused to return it because the Haitian government was not pursuing Mr Duvalier under its own justice system.
And as an alternative, the Swiss government had proposed giving the money to aid groups working in Haiti.
"This is a dinosaur, this is amazing," he enthuses.
"We're talking about salamanders that usually fit in the palm of your hand. This one will chop your hand off."
As a leader of Conservation International's (CI) scientific programmes, and co-chair of the Amphibian Specialist Group with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Dr Gascon has seen a fair few frogs and salamanders in his life; but little, he says, to compare with this.
Fortunately for all of our digits, this particular giant salamander is in no position to chop off anything, trapped in a tank in the visitors' centre in Maniwa City, about 800km west of Tokyo.
But impressive it certainly is: about 1.7m (5ft 6in) long, covered in a leathery skin that speaks of many decades passed, with a massive gnarled head covered in tubercles whose presumed sensitivity to motion probably helped it catch fish by the thousand over its lifetime.
If local legend is to be believed, though, this specimen is a mere tadpole compared with the biggest ever seen around Maniwa.
A 17th Century tale, related to us by cultural heritage officer Takashi Sakata, tells of a salamander (or hanzaki, in local parlance) 10m long that marauded its way across the countryside chomping cows and horses in its tracks.
A local hero was found, one Mitsui Hikoshiro, who allowed the hanzaki to swallow him whole along with his trusty sword - which implement he then used, in the best heroic tradition, to rend the beast from stem to stern.
It proved not to be such a good move, however.
Crops failed, people started dying in mysterious ways - including Mr Hikoshiro himself.
Pretty soon the villagers drew the obvious conclusion that the salamander's spirit was wreaking revenge from beyond the grave, and must be placated. That is why Maniwa City boasts a shrine to the hanzaki.
The story illustrates the cultural importance that this remarkable creature has in some parts of Japan.
Its scientific importance, meanwhile, lies in two main areas: its "living fossil" identity, and its apparently peaceful co-existence with the chytrid fungus that has devastated so many other amphibian species from Australia to the Andes.
"The skeleton of this species is almost identical to that of the fossil from 30 million years ago," recounts Takeyoshi Tochimoto, director of the Hanzaki Institute near Hyogo.
"Therefore it's called the 'living fossil'."
The hanzaki (Andrias japonicus) only has two close living relatives: the Chinese giant salamander (A. davidianus) , which is close enough in size and shape and habits that the two can easily cross-breed, and the much smaller hellbender (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis) of the south-eastern US.
Creatures rather like these were certainly around when dinosaurs dominated life on land, and fossils of the family have been found much further afield than their current tight distribution - in northern Europe, certainly, where scientists presumed the the lineages had gone extinct until tales of the strange Oriental forms made their way back to the scientific burghers of Vienna and Leiden a couple of centuries ago.
"They are thought to be extremely primitive species, partly due to the fact that they are the only salamanders that have external fertilisation," says Don Church, a salamander specialist with CI.
The fertilisation ritual must be quite some sight.
Into a riverbank den that is usually occupied by the dominant male (the "den-master") swim several females, and also a few other males.
The den-master and the females release everything they have got, turning incessantly to stir the eggs and spermatozoa round in a roiling mass.
Maybe the lesser males sneak in a package or two as well; their function in the ménage-a-many is not completely clear.
When the waters still, everyone but the den-master leaves; and he alone guards the nest and its juvenile brood.
It is not an ideal method of reproduction.
Research shows that genetic diversity among the hanzaki is smaller than it might be, partly as a result of the repeated polygamy, which in turn leaves them more prone to damage through environmental change.
But for the moment, it seems to work.
Outside the breeding season, the salamander's life appears to consist of remaining as inconspicuous as possible in the river (whether hiding in leaves, as the small ones do, or under the riverbanks like their larger fellows) and snapping whatever comes within reach, their usual meandering torpor transformed in an instant as the smell of a fish brushes by.
The adults' jaws are not to be treated lightly.
Among Dr Tochimoto's extensive collection of photos is one of bloodied human hands; and as he warns: "you may be attacked and injured; please be careful".
When the chytrid fungus was identified just over a decade ago, indications were that Japan would be an unlikely place to look for its origins.
With the discovery of chytrid on museum specimens of the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) , an out-of-Africa migration spurred by human transportation of amphibians once seemed the simple likelihood.
But just last year, a team of researchers led by Koichi Goka from Japan's National Institute for Environmental Studies published research showing that certain strains of chytrid were present on Japanese giant salamanders, and only on Japanese giant salamanders, including museum specimens from a century or so back; and that the relationship seemed benign.
The hanzaki-loving strains of chytrid appear to differ from those that are proving so virulent to amphibians now.
Unravelling all that, says Don Church, might tell us something about the origins and spread of chytrid - and there is so much diversity among Japanese chytrid strains that the country is now being touted as a possible origin, as diversity often implies a long evolutionary timeframe.
More importantly, the discovery might also provide options for treating the infection.
"In the case of the North American salamanders, what was found was that they have bacteria living on their skin that produce peptides that are lethal to the amphibian chytrid fungus," says Dr Church.
"And those bacteria might be able to be transplanted to other species that can't fight off the fungus."
This is a line of research that is very much in play in laboratories around the world.
It appears likely now that studies of the Japanese giant salamander can expand the number of chytrid-fighting bacteria known to science, and so extend the options for developing treatments for an infection that currently cannot be controlled in the wild.
But that can only come to pass if the giant salamanders endure; something that is not guaranteed, with the challenges they face in modern Japan including, perhaps, new strains of chytrid itself.
There is as yet no modern hero able to still the pace of habitat loss or prevent invasion from rival species.
Name of source: Guardian (UK)
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (2-4-10)
The Monty Python knights who craved a shrubbery were not so far off the historical mark: archaeologists have uncovered startling evidence of The Great Stonehenge Hedge.
Inevitably dubbed Stonehedge, the evidence from a new survey of the Stonehenge landscape suggests that 4,000 years ago the world's most famous prehistoric monument was surrounded by two circular hedges, planted on low concentric
The best guess of the archaeologists from English Heritage, who carried out the first detailed survey of the landscape of the monument since the Ordnance Survey maps of 1919, is that the hedges could have served as screens keeping even more secret from the crowd the ceremonies carried out by the elite allowed inside the stone circle.
Their findings are revealed tomorrow in British Archaeology magazine, whose editor, Mike Pitts, an archaeologist and expert on Stonehenge himself, said: "It is utterly surprising that this is the first survey for such a long time, but the results are fascinating. Stonehenge never fails to reveal more surprises."
Name of source: BBC
Its developer says he is removing it after legal threats.
But the application has also faced protests from Jewish groups and Holocaust survivors who described it as offensive.
IMussolini, as the application is known, has become the most popular iPhone download in Italy.
SOURCE: BBC (2-4-10)
Professor Anvita Abbi said that the death of Boa Sr was highly significant because one of the world's oldest languages - Bo - had come to an end.
She said that India had lost an irreplaceable part of its heritage.
Languages in the Andamans are thought to originate from Africa. Some may be 70,000 years old.
Gareth Jones and Steve Vizard have been keen to unravel the mystery of the missing aircraft.
They believe it's buried underground on the site of City of Derry Airport, the former RAF Eglinton air base.
In 1941 the air base was established to defend Londonderry from German attack.
Ninety-eight years ago, three men lay dying inside a lonely tent battered by howling winds on the frozen wastes of Antarctica.
Robert Falcon Scott, "Birdie" Bowers and Dr Edward Wilson were the last remaining members of the five-man party that lost the race to the South Pole. They arrived five weeks after their rivals, led by Roald Amundsen had planted the Norwegian flag there.
Two other Britons - Lawrence "Titus" Oates and Edgar Evans, had already died on Scott's return journey and hunger, exhaustion and frostbite would eventually claim the lives of Scott and his two remaining companions.
Edward Wilson hailed from Cheltenham and his statue stands proudly on The Promenade in the town. A sledge and snowsuit used by Wilson on a previous expedition are already on display at the Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum and later today the Wilson collection will receive another boost with a donation from his great-nephew David Wilson.
After putting together a consortium of family members and Antarctic historians, he was able to buy new documents and memorabilia from Bonham's the auctioneers. It cost them around £18,000.
The documents include the only known copy of Wilson's penultimate letter to his wife Oriana written in the tent as Scott lay next to him with a frozen foot.
There are also two scrapbooks kept by his sister Ida, including press cuttings from the time.
Name of source: Der Spiegel
SOURCE: Der Spiegel (2-1-10)
The world has become a smaller place for the notorious bishop. Since he denied the existence of the Holocaust on television more than a year ago, causing serious problems for Pope Benedict XVI and almost triggering a revolt against Rome by the Catholic faithful, the ultra-conservative SSPX has kept him in virtual quarantine at its Wimbledon headquarters. Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the SSPX, likens Williamson to uranium: "It's dangerous when you have it," he says, but you can't "simply leave it by the side of the road."
Fellay knows what he is talking about. Williamson has no intention of revising his views on the gas chambers. When Nazi hunter Beate Klarsfeld sent him a book about the history of the Holocaust last year, he set it aside, unread. "The fact is that the 6 million people who were supposedly gassed represent a huge lie," he wrote recently to his fellow members of the SSPX, noting that "a completely new world order was built" on this "fact." The Jews, he added, "became ersatz saviors thanks to the concentration camps."...
Williamson, after refusing to pay a fine of €12,000 ($16,800), faces charges of inciting racial hatred in a trial in the southern German city of Regensburg set to begin on April 16. Although it is unclear whether he will appear at the trial in person, the bishop has already assembled a legal team that includes German lawyer Matthias Lossmann and the British attorney who once represented former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in his fight against extradition....
The bishop has a reputation for being unpredictable. Sometimes he gives the staff instructions to tell visitors that he is not home, but on one occasion he sat down next to a Christmas tree for an interview with a video blogger. An interview with SPIEGEL, which had been scheduled for some time, happened to fall on a bad day. Williamson was only willing to appear on a stair landing, and even then, all that was visible of him were one of his arms and his hand wearing his bishop's ring. His voice was easy to recognize, but he refused to speak directly with his interviewers, leaving Lindström to run up and down the stairs, delivering the questions and answers.
Later, Williamson decided to continue the interview with SPIEGEL by e-mail -- even though he was only in the next room. The visit had made him very angry. "We are at war," he raged, "and you are on the wrong side." German liberal intellectuals are as distasteful to him as short skirts on the tennis court. "These men are, at least objectively, rats," he wrote in a reference to SPIEGEL journalists....
Name of source: CNS News
SOURCE: CNS News (2-2-10)
"If the pope was silent, it was not out of fright or self-interest, but concern for worsening the situation of those oppressed" by the Nazi regime, it said.
With continuing criticism of Pope Pius' wartime activities, especially given the advancement of his sainthood cause, the newspaper Feb. 2 republished an article that had first appeared in a special June 28, 1964, edition of the Vatican's weekly periodical, L'Osservatore della Domenica....
Name of source: CNN.com
SOURCE: CNN.com (2-2-10)
1. The Pope cracks down on smoke
Pope Urban VII's papacy began on September 15, 1590. It ended with his death from malaria less than two weeks later.
Although he didn't spend much time as the head of the Catholic Church, Urban VII was around long enough to make his feelings on tobacco known. He banned all tobacco "in the porchway of or inside a church, whether it be by chewing it, smoking it with a pipe or sniffing it in powdered form through the nose....
2. King James' ideal version of England is smoke-free
King James I of England was no fan of tobacco, but instead of whining about it, he picked up his pen. In 1604, James wrote the treatise "A Counterblaste to Tobacco", and true to form for early 17th century pamphlets, the king didn't pull any punches, writing, "What honour or policie can move us to imitate the barbarous and beastly maners of the wilde, godlesse, and slavish Indians, especially in so vile and stinking a custom?"...
3. The Sultan puts out smokers
When Sultan Murad IV took over the Ottoman Empire in 1623, he inherited a land filled with corruption and decadence. He took care of it quickly, though, and by 1633 Murad had banned all tobacco, alcohol, and coffee from his empire. Murad IV made Pope Urban VII look like a pushover, too; his punishment for breaking the ban was death....
Name of source: Politico
SOURCE: Politico (2-3-10)
With desperate Georgians begging for American help in closing down the key route through which Russian soldiers were pouring into the country, Bush’s national security aides outlined possible responses, including “the bombardment and sealing of the Roki Tunnel” and other “surgical strikes,” according to a new history of the conflict and independent interviews with former senior officials.
“In that moment of desperation these issues came onto the table, and came to the principals committee” consisting of Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and top Cabinet members, said Ron Asmus, a Clinton administration State Department official whose book, out this week, is called “The Little War That Shook the World.”...
That the question arose at all is a mark of the scale of the crisis that appeared to burst out of nowhere in the summer of 2008 and of the continuing risks posed by a region of the world that draws little American public attention....
Name of source: Copenhagen Post (Denmark)
SOURCE: Copenhagen Post (Denmark) (2-4-10)
The riddle of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe's death in 1601 may now have a good chance of being solved
Prague's cultural department has finally given researchers permission to open the tomb of Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, which lies in the city’s Tyn Cathedral.
A group of Danish and Czech experts will therefore soon be able to carry out detailed analyses of the astronomer’s bone, hair and clothing remains to find the answer to a centuries-old mystery as to whether he was murdered.
Although historians have generally attributed his death to either bladder problems or kidney stones, some believed he may have been poisoned. Many researchers now believe he probably died of mercury poisoning – either accidentally or deliberately by another’s hand.
The issue was revived in recent years, after a Swedish professor discovered a diary in which Tycho Brahe's distant relative, Erik Brahe, claimed that the astronomer was poisoned.
Researchers had been trying for years to get the go-ahead from Prague’s city council for the exhumation.
‘I'm really glad that all the people involved in this project can now see that our meetings, emails, letters and telephone calls have not been in vain,’ archaeologist Jens Vellev, who will lead the Danish research team, told Politiken newspaper.
Vellev’s day job is as associate professor in the University of Aarhus’ Department of Medieval and Renaissance Archaeology. He has been interested in Tycho Brahe’s life and death for many years, and he said it was a long and difficult process to get the approval.
Not only did the team have to deal with the Catholic Church, which owns Tyn Cathedral, but it also had to get clearance from the city council, because the building is a national monument administered by the cultural administration.
After initial resistance, the team believed it would be given permission to perform the exhumation last May. But it was only this week that the official okay was finally given.
Vellev expects to start analyses of the body in November. He has high expectations that with modern methods, the study will shed light on Brahe's ultimate cause of death.
‘The very opening of the grave is obviously something significant. But for archaeologists, anthropologists and other scientists, the subsequent work will be just as interesting,’ Vellev said.
Name of source: Scientific American
SOURCE: Scientific American (2-4-10)
Researchers found his body on an imperial Roman estate and took dental samples. Why examine teeth? Well, the water you drink at birth leaves a distinct signature in your teeth. That water signature is in the form of oxygen isotopes, atoms of oxygen with different numbers of neutrons. Isotopes say something about the latitude and elevation of your birthplace—which in the case of our mystery man definitely wasn’t southern Italy.
Then the researchers tested his mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down through your maternal lineage. And this fellow had east Asian genes. The finding appears in the Journal of Roman Archaeology.
Name of source: Discovery News
SOURCE: Discovery News (2-3-10)
Consider an older gentleman whose skeleton lay in one of more than 200 tombs recently excavated at a 2,000-year-old cemetery in eastern Mongolia, near China's northern border. DNA extracted from this man's bones pegs him as a descendant of Europeans or western Asians. Yet he still assumed a prominent position in ancient Mongolia's Xiongnu Empire, say geneticist Kyung-Yong Kim of Chung-Ang University in Seoul, South Korea, and his colleagues.
On the basis of previous excavations and descriptions in ancient Chinese texts, researchers suspect that the Xiongnu Empire -- which ruled a vast territory in and around Mongolia from 209 B.C. to A.D. 93 -- included ethnically and linguistically diverse nomadic tribes. The Xiongnu Empire once ruled the major trading route known as the Asian Silk Road, opening it to both Western and Chinese influences.
Researchers have yet to pin down the language spoken by Xiongnu rulers and political elites, says archaeologist David Anthony of Hartwick College in Oneonta, N.Y. But the new genetic evidence shows that the 2,000-year-old man "was multi-ethnic, like the Xiongnu polity itself," Anthony remarks.
Name of source: CBS News
SOURCE: CBS News (2-4-10)
The announcement at the 1,600-year-old St. Anthony's Monastery came a month after Egypt's worst incident of sectarian violence in over a decade, when a shooting on a church on Orthodox Christmas Eve killed seven people.
The attack raised heavy criticism of the Egyptian government abroad and at home, by critics who say it has not done enough to address tensions between the country's Muslim majority and its Christian population, estimated at 10 percent of the 79 million population.
Name of source: FOX News
SOURCE: FOX News (2-3-10)
Under the proposed change, the ninth-graders would take a course called global studies, focusing in part on issues such as the environment. The 10th grade still would study civics and economics, but 11th-graders would take U.S. history only from 1877 onward....
"The answer isn't to throw out fundamental portions of U.S. history," said Mike Belter, a U.S. history teacher and social studies director. "This is not preparing our kids to have a deep historical perspective that can be used to analyze modern events for themselves."...
Name of source: Missoulian
SOURCE: Missoulian (2-2-10)
But moving the 26-ton artillery piece to its new home at Fort Missoula was no easy task.
Scott Wolff, owner of Iron Horse Towing and Repair in Missoula, tried to move the tank with a 50-ton tow truck, but couldn't muster the needed traction to budge the monster. Plan B was to bring in another 30-ton tow truck, using both wreckers to lift the M7 high enough off the ground to drive a flatbed under it.
Plan B worked. Thanks to Wolff, who donated his time and equipment, the tank now rests in front of the Rocky Mountain Museum of Military History at Fort Missoula.
"I bet I shot $5,000 worth of ammunition through that howitzer," said Jerry Kurzenbaum, who dropped by the armory Tuesday morning to watch the move. Kurzenbaum was a forward observer with the 443rd Field Artillery Unit and remembers issuing firing orders to the M7's crew on training missions back in the 1950s.
"It's powered by a 3,600-horsepower radial aircraft engine," Kurzenbaum said. "The transmission takes 52 quarts of oil."
The British purchased more than 5,000 M7s during WWII and soon nicknamed it the "Priest," after its pulpit-shaped machine-gun turret.
Built in 1944, this M7 spent most of its history with the Montana National Guard's 443rd Artillery Unit. According to retired Brig. Gen. Bo Foster of Missoula, the 443rd Artillery Unit had six to eight of the newly minted M7s.
"We took them all over Montana to train," remembers Foster, who served as the first commander of the unit. "We even drove them to Boise. We used the barrow pits and some trails. We didn't think they would make the trip, but they did. They turned out to be pretty fine machines. We're sure glad to have one back in front of the museum."
The Montana National Guard in Missoula will be moving to its new location at Highway 93 North near the Wye sometime in June or July, according to Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Fulcher with the Montana National Guard.
Name of source: Irish Central
SOURCE: Irish Central (1-28-10)
Dempsey, an uileann piper, was invited to play for Hitler and propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels during a visit to Berlin in 1936 after being told that Hitler was an Irish folk music fan....
The bizarre scene was revealed for the first time in a new exhibition of Irish photographs from that era called 'Ceol na Cathra.' The exhibition opened in Dublin and was collected by legendary fiddle player Mick O’Connor.
Name of source: The Washington Post
SOURCE: The Washington Post (3-2-10)
As children, even if they grew up envisioning clandestine heroics, they knew not to ask many questions. As adults, they often didn't want to intrude. Now, they are learning that after a loved one's death, decades of unslaked curiosity can be only partially satisfied.
The first generation of employees of the secretive agency and its forerunner, the Office of Strategic Services (established in 1942), is dying off. In the past two years, more than 130 obituaries of retired or former CIA or OSS staff members have appeared in The Washington Post describing the employees as officer, spy or something blander yet tantalizing -- project director or analyst.
Even after employees die, the CIA generally does not disclose their former duties or involvement in history's major moments. CIA spokeswoman Marie E. Harf said many employees' successes from that first generation "can't be shared publicly even now." But unlike the families of the CIA officers killed in Afghanistan, relatives of deceased CIA employees contacted for this article said they have not been ordered to keep silent about their loved one's career or life. "In all cases, the judgment of the individual employee is key," Harf said, adding that time can ease the restrictions on some secrets: "Operational equities and sensitivities, of course, can lessen with the passage of time."
Name of source: Indepedent (UK)
SOURCE: Indepedent (UK) (3-2-10)
Built by the 30th Dynasty king Nectanebo I (380-362 BC), the avenue is 2,700 meters long and 76 meters wide, and lined with a number of statues in the shape of sphinxes. Queen Hatshepsut recorded on her red chapel in Karnak temple that she built six chapels dedicated to the god Amun-Re on the route of this avenue during her reign, emphasising that it was long a place of religious significance.
The Avenue of Sphinxes is one of the most important archaeological and religious paths in Luxor, as it was the location of important religious ceremonies in ancient times, most notably the Beautiful Feast of Opet.
Dr. Hawass said that developing the Avenue of Sphinxes is part of the SCA’s collaboration with the Luxor government - one of the issues is to tackle air pollution damaging the monuments - to develop the whole city into an open-air museum.
Along the avenue there were originally 1350 sphinxes. Many of the stone guardians were removed and reused during the Roman period and the Middle Ages.
The excavation also revealed reliefs and the cartouches of several kings and queens. One of the reliefs bears the name of Queen Cleopatra VII. Dr. Hawass believes that this queen likely visited this avenue during her Nile trip with Mark Anthony and implemented restoration work that was marked with her cartouche.