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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 (2-23-11)
A man who looked an awful lot like the guy on the $5 bill arrived by carriage at Camden Station in a re-enactment of a secret transit by President-elect Abraham Lincoln exactly 150 years earlier.
Following his election in November 1860, Lincoln was making his way to Washington for his March 1861 inauguration when he learned of a possible assassination plot.
Lincoln canceled a midday public arrival in the divided city of Baltimore on February 23, 1861, instead passing through in the wee hours of the morning, according to Sara Hisamoto, director of public relations for Visit Baltimore, the city's tourism bureau....
SOURCE: CNN (2-22-11)
The two hours of morning arguments found the 62-year-old Thomas rocking in his high-backed leather chair, often consulting legal papers in front of him. He stroked his hair a few times, looked up at the ceiling, and whispered with Justice Stephen Breyer, a close colleague despite their ideological differences.
His "just say nothing" approach harkens back to a time many decades ago, when justices spoke very rarely at public sessions, allowing lawyers to argue their case for hours, sometimes days on end, without interruption. Arguments today are a rapid-fire question-and-answer free-for-all, with the court peppering attorneys standing before them with hypotheticals, precedents, and their own personal views on the case at hand. Thomas alone refuses to jump into the fray.
Legal blogs and various commentators have been busy the past few weeks leading up the dubious anniversary, wondering what Thomas' silence means for the court itself, in its broader decision-making process. Written opinions remain the main way the court expresses its precedent-setting power, but oral arguments can serve an important function -- helping to focus an appeal's flaws along the fringes of constitutional limits, an exercise for the benefit of the public and the justices themselves. These public sessions are often an ideal way to test often novel legal theories and to help a justice answer any lingering issues that prove decisive in the opinion-writing process to follow.
Thomas does occasionally speak from the bench, when announcing opinions he has written, but before arguments commence. Off the bench, especially in friendly audiences, the justice can be gregarious, fun, inquisitive, and often self-reflective. He has a booming voice, and his hearty laugh is easily recognizable....
Name of source: The Daily Caller
SOURCE: The Daily Caller (2-22-11)
On President’s Day — standing where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream Speech” — Phillip Howell, 25, recited Lincoln’s famous address and was quickly stopped by a Park Police officer. He told Howell that he could not give speeches on the steps of the memorial without a permit.
“He called me Abe, and then I turned around and he said, ‘Do you have a permit?’ I said ‘no’ and he said, ‘well you can’t do that here then,’” Howell told The Daily Caller. “Then I said, ‘I’m just giving the Gettysburg Address, come on, it’s President’s Day.’ And he said, ‘I don’t care what you’re giving, You’re not allowed to do that here. I don’t care what speech or what agenda you want to give.’”...
Name of source: Fox News
SOURCE: Fox News (2-23-11)
Libya’s ex-justice minister claims the country’s leader, Muammar al-Qaddafi, ordered the Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people, according to the Swedish tabloid Expressen.
Mustafa Abdel-Jalil was quoted Wednesday telling an Expressen correspondent in Libya that he has “proof that Qaddafi gave the order about Lockerbie."
Abdel-Jalil, who stepped down as justice minister to protest violence against anti-government demonstrations, did not describe the proof. He told Expressen that Qaddafi gave the order to Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 on December 21, 1988. The airliner exploded over Scotland and all 259 people aboard and 11 on the ground died when it crashed into the town of Lockerbie. Most of the victims were Americans....
Name of source: Medievalists.net
SOURCE: Medievalists.net (2-22-11)
The churches include St Peter’s, Wilburton, in the Diocese of Ely, which has a tower dating from the 13th century. It has been offered at grant of £105,000 towards repairs to the tower spire, which was last repaired in 1903, as well as timber repairs to the spire and louvres, reglazing and masonry repairs to the tower parapets and stairs.
Reverend Fiona Brampton of St Peter’s, Wilburton said, “We are delighted that English Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund have been able to help us. Our church is not only a beautiful treasure, but also a focal point for the community here in Wilburton, Cambridgeshire.”...
Name of source: Guardian (UK)
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (2-22-11)
The cemetery, founded in the 1660s as a burial ground for nonconformists, radicals and dissenters, holds the remains of John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim's Progress, Daniel Defoe, who wrote Robinson Crusoe, and the poet and artist William Blake, among thousands of others.
In the 19th century, when it had already become a place .of pilgrimage for nonconformists and radical reformers, the poet Robert Southey called it the Campo Santo (holy ground) of the dissenters. By the time it was finally declared full and closed in 1853, at least 120,000 people had been interred in the four acres....
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (2-16-11)
The first of the films, titled So Real You Can Touch It, features shots of sizzling stereoscopic bratwursts on a barbecue while the second, named Six Girls Roll Into Weekend, features actors Mora believes were probably stars from Germany's top wartime studio, Universum Film.
"The quality of the films is fantastic," Mora told Variety.com. "The Nazis were obsessed with recording everything and every single image was controlled – it was all part of how they gained control of the country and its people."...
Name of source: CBS News
SOURCE: CBS News (2-22-11)
A former Soviet soldier during World War II, the 90-year-old Demjanjuk is standing trial on 28,060 counts of accessory to murder on allegations that he agreed to serve as a guard in the Sobibor death camp after being captured. The retired Ohio autoworker denies having ever served as a guard....
Name of source: WaPo
SOURCE: WaPo (2-22-11)
One raids houses and carries a gun. But right now he's handing out innocuous-looking brochures to the relic hunters walking by, as the sweet smell of glazed nuts wafts from a concession stand. "Does that document belong in the National Archives?" the brochure asks.
The agents have flown to a fairground outside Nashville to the country's biggest Civil War show to hunt for stolen treasure - robbed right from the nation's attic.
Whether they know it or not, the dealers may be trafficking in stolen government property. The heist may have taken place in 1865. Or last week. Or a document may not have been looted at all, but made its way into private hands instead of the Archives.
With the Civil War 150th anniversary drawing new interest, the trail could be warm.
"We're friendly," says Paul Brachfeld, inspector general of the Archives, who has gotten out of the office this December weekend to see his team in action. For the dealers, "it's an authenticity thing," he says. "If you traffic in stolen documents, it taints everything."...
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (2-22-11)
SOURCE: NYT (2-17-11)
George had popped up entirely from out of the blue. Not once from the very conception of the world’s mightiest suspension span had anyone intended to call it the George Washington Bridge. Not once, not over the three decades it took for the pols of New York and New Jersey to decide to build the thing in the first place, not over the several more years that followed the September 1927 groundbreaking, as workers lustily bored and poured and hammered and riveted and strung up cables, was it ever known as anything but the Hudson River Bridge.
And then suddenly, in January 1931, as the great construct neared completion, the Port of New York Authority announced that it was going to be called the George Washington Memorial Bridge instead....
SOURCE: NYT (2-12-11)
There is a fear in the West, one rarely echoed here, that Egypt’s revolution could go the way of Iran’s, when radical Islamists ultimately commandeered a movement that began with a far broader base. But the two are very different countries. In Egypt, the uprising offers the possibility of an accommodation with political Islam rare in the Arab world — that without the repression that accompanied Mr. Mubarak’s rule, Islam could present itself in a more moderate guise.
Egypt’s was a revolution of diversity, a proliferation of voices — of youth, women and workers, as well as the religious — all of which will struggle for influence. Here, political Islam will most likely face a new kind of challenge: proving its relevance and popularity in a country undergoing seismic change.
“Choosing a regime will become the right of the people,” Ali Abdel-Fattah, a Muslim Brotherhood leader, said Saturday. “The nature of the regime will be decided by elections. And I think Egyptians agree on the demands and how to realize them.”...
SOURCE: NYT (2-13-11)
“The Long March was a success in large part due to Maotai,” the rebel commander Zhou Enlai later told historians. In 1949, after becoming prime minister of the newly established People’s Republic, Mr. Zhou designated the sorghum-based liquor, called Moutai, China’s “national wine,” giving it an undeniable marketing edge over the other gullet-searing grain spirits, collectively known as baijiu, tossed back at banquet tables across the nation.
But when the retail price hit nearly $200 a bottle last month, a 50 percent increase over two years, Chinese drinkers erupted in outrage, accusing the state-owned distillery of discarding its revolutionary roots to gouge the little guy. It did not help when media reports revealed that the same bottle sold for half that much in the United States and Europe.
“I hear most of it gets delivered to Zhongnanhai,” said Wang Yonghui, 32, a bank teller and baijiu aficionado, referring to the Beijing compound that houses the country’s top leaders. “We pay more, and they get it for free.”...
SOURCE: NYT (2-20-11)
That’s what Republican political strategists are asking as party leaders and presidential prospects keep raising the bar in their quest to curb government deficits. As thrilling as that process feels for Tea Party members and conservative intellectuals, its merit as an electoral formula remains unproven at best.
Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Budget Committee, set the tone when he warned of fiscal catastrophe in his response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. Govs. Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Chris Christie of New Jersey have grown progressively more blunt in calling for big changes to Medicare and Social Security....
Every presidential campaign has its own distinct backdrop. Four years ago, the contest began after midterm elections that were dominated by the Iraq war.
In early 1999, the economy was booming and the federal government had just recorded its first budget surplus in three decades. George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, assumed the good times would continue in calling for “prosperity with a purpose.”
In early 2011, high unemployment and enormous budget deficits have Republicans warning of national decline, as they did during Jimmy Carter’s presidency.
“I would compare it somewhat to 1980,” Mr. Khachigian said. If the analogy holds, Republican candidates will use fiscal issues to compete for the mantle of bold conservative leadership that Mr. Reagan captured.
But another lesson of 1980 is that unexpected events can rapidly shift the agenda. Nine days before Mr. Reagan announced his candidacy in November 1979, Iranian revolutionaries seized American diplomats in Tehran — the start of the hostage crisis that became a major factor in that race.
Moreover, the primary calendar may shape the campaign’s dialogue in unexpected ways. “Social conservatives still drive the bus in Iowa,” Mr. Reed noted....
Mr. Bashir seized power in 1989 in a military coup and has ruled with an iron fist ever since, crushing or trying to crush numerous rebellions across Sudan. But now, Mr. Bashir “has no will to be a president again,” said the spokesman, Rabie A. Atti.
“He said the chance should be given to the next generation,” Mr. Rabie said. “He will work to establish a real democratic system in our country.”
Mr. Rabie said the decision — and timing — had “nothing, nothing at all” to do with the popular revolts against longstanding autocrats now erupting across the Arab world, which have inspired relatively small but spirited protests in Sudan as well.
By 2000, the census found that the Italian-American population had dwindled to 6 percent. Only 44 were Italian-born, compared with 2,149 a half-century earlier.
A census survey released in December determined that the proportion of Italian-Americans among the 8,600 residents in the same two-dozen-square-block area of Lower Manhattan had shrunk to about 5 percent.
And, incredibly, the census could not find a single resident who had been born in Italy....
The Little Italy that was once the heart of Italian-American life in the city exists mostly as a nostalgic memory or in the minds of tourists who still make it a must-see on their New York itinerary....
Never mind that the federal holiday observed on Monday didn’t go by any of those names — not officially, anyway. It was Washington’s Birthday, observed on the third Monday of February, as dictated by a 1968 law. But that statement of fact is a lost cause by now. So let us turn to a more cosmic matter:
Is it not possible, at long last, to settle on a broadly accepted use, or nonuse, of the apostrophe to describe the day? It is, after all, a major holiday, even if it is devoted more to shopping than to contemplating the relative merits of the 43 men who have held the country’s highest public office.
That apostrophe floats more than the dollar does in international currency markets. In the process, logic is sometimes held hostage....
But in two interviews this month, the younger Mr. Reagan said he never meant to suggest that his father had dementia before leaving office in 1989. And he graciously took the blame for not being more explicit in a passage that described a few personal observations along with comments from the former president’s doctors.
A “rather small section of the book has attracted outsize attention,” he said in a telephone interview from Seattle, where he lives....
On Sunday, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, which is just off Tahrir Square and which served as an embattled backdrop during the protests, opened its doors again, and museum workers handed roses to the few visitors who came to see its treasures. The galleries of the museum, which are usually bustling, were nearly empty throughout the day, however, as tourism continues to suffer in the wake of the unrest, Reuters added....
Name of source: Ekathimerini (Greece)
SOURCE: Ekathimerini (Greece) (2-23-11)
Archaeologists believe that remnants found during construction in the area of the Ancient Agora, on the northwestern slope of the Acropolis, belong to the famed Altar of the Twelve Gods, one of Athens’s most ancient monuments and a landmark that marked the very center of ancient city, from which all distances were measured -- like an ancient Syntagma Square, which marks the starting point in terms of street numbers.
The find has created a lot of excitement among Greek archaeologists, who believe that it will change the map of Ancient Athens as we know it. “Thucydides mentions only a handful of monuments in his historical works,” explained archaeologist Androniki Makri. “Of these, even fewer have actually been found and they are located in the archaeological sites surrounded by the mass of this densely built city. If I had to say what kind of attitude we, all Greeks, should have toward these monuments, I would obviously answer that we should be guarding and protecting them, promoting them and showing them off in any way possible.”...
Name of source: NY Times
SOURCE: NY Times (2-17-11)
We came to this site after completing 17 years of work at another Maya site in the same region, Aguateca. Our options were to start a new project in a different part of the Maya area or to stay in the same region. We chose the latter over the beaches in Quintana Roo and the cool, mosquito-free weather of the highlands mainly because we wanted to continue to foster relations with the local people whom we have been working with — in particular, underprivileged Q’eqchi’ Maya farmers. In this case, Ceibal was an obvious choice. It holds a special place in the history of Maya archaeology. In the 1960s, the site was explored by a team of archaeologists from Harvard University. Their survey and excavation revealed one of the longest occupation sequences in the southern lowlands, laying the groundwork for our understanding of pre-Hispanic Maya culture and society....
Name of source: Artinfo/AFP
SOURCE: Artinfo/AFP (2-17-11)
The ruins of Carthage and the village of Sidi Bou Saïd are located next to the modern city of Tunis, and were designated UNESCO heritage sites in 1979. At the time, the Tunisian government classified them as "non-construction" zones because of their archeological and historic interest. Now, Abdelmajid Ennabli, an archeologist who was head of the Carthage site during excavations from 1972 to 1992, and Jellal Abdelkafi, an urban planner who has studied urbanization and land use, are accusing Ben Ali and his family of removing large swaths of these zones from this protective category so that they could build a luxury apartment complex....
Name of source: Fandomania
SOURCE: Fandomania (2-22-11)
Would we still be remembering the martyrs behind the “Valkyrie” assassination plot or celebrating an earlier end to World War II? On a lighter note, Kari, Grant, and Tory dabble in a bit of slapstick comedy as they test a popular saying — can you really “slap some sense” into someone when they’re hysterical or otherwise temporarily impaired? Keep reading to find out!...
Name of source: Der Spiegel (Germany)
SOURCE: Der Spiegel (Germany) (2-22-11)
John Demjanjuk, accused of helping to kill 27,900 Jews in the Holocaust, will go on a hunger strike unless the Munich court allows him to present documents that could exonerate him, his lawyer Ulrich Busch said on Tuesday.
Busch, who is defending the 90-year-old against charges of assisting in killings at the Sobibor Nazi death camp in Poland, said Demjanjuk would begin the hunger strike within the next two weeks.
Busch said there are documents in a KGB file from Russia and Ukraine that could prove Demjanjuk is innocent. He read a statement for Demjanjuk in which he accused Judge Ralph Alt of conducting a political "show trial."
"This is a mockery of justice," Busch said in a statement on Demjanjuk's behalf. "There is only one way left for me to show the world what a travesty of justice this is."
In the statement, he accused the German authorities of trying to "wipe out" his dignity and his life, and to "find him guilty for the crimes ccommitted by Germans in World War II."...
Name of source: BBC News
Gamsakhurdia died from a gunshot to the head after being ousted from power and pursued by an enemy militia.
The authorities previously concluded that he had killed himself.
The commission wants a new official inquiry. But there are some doubts about its research, as it is run by Mr Gamsakhurdia's son and his associates.
The commission says witness statements from the time are contradictory and the wounds inflicted by the bullet suggest someone else was holding the gun.
Mr Gamsakhurdia was elected president after Georgia's independence in 1991, but was soon ousted after allegations of authoritarianism....
The German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, said the awakening in the Arab world was a "historic watershed". "Nothing," in his view, "will be as it was before".
The UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said it was "a historic test for the EU". If democracy and stability could take root in North Africa then it would be "the greatest achievement for the EU since enlargement". He was referring to the events after 1989, when the broken-down countries of Eastern Europe were gradually lifted up and folded into mainstream Europe.
Everyone recognises that in the cities of North Africa something has been unleashed that cannot be contained. It is in part a yearning for freedom, but it is also incoherent. And in its incoherence opportunity mingles with fear. For if those countries freed of their autocratic leaders descend into chaos then there are risks to Europe.
"If we don't succeed," said Hague,"the dangers to the EU of instability or extremism on our frontiers are immense". The Italians are warning of the risk of "hundreds of thousands of people crossing into Europe". Their foreign minister Franco Frattini said "we have to mobilise European funds...because frankly speaking, if you allow economies in their countries to collapse, we will be paying the price"....
Fossil remains recovered from a quarry in Utah, US, are fragmentary but enough to tell researchers the creature must have possessed extremely powerful legs.
The new species, described in the journal Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, is a sauropod - the family of dinosaurs famous for their long necks and tails.
It could have given other animals a hefty kick, say its discoverers.
"If predators came after it, it would have been able to boot them out of the way," said Dr Mike Taylor, from University College London, UK.
The team has named its dinosaur Brontomerus mcintoshi - from the Greek "bronto", meaning "thunder"; and "merós", meaning "thigh".
The fossilised bones of two specimens - an adult and a juvenile - have been dated to be about 110 million years old.
They were rescued from the Hotel Mesa Quarry in Grand County, Utah.
The site has been looted by commercial fossil-hunters and so scientists have probably been denied the full range of material from which to make their classification.
Nonetheless, those bones they do have sport tell-tale features that mark out an extraordinary species....
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (2-20-11)
The ancient riddle, which has captivated storytellers, has just been dramatised by Hollywood in The Eagle, starring Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell.
Now, experts have revealed that the children’s book on which the film is based is more fact than fiction.
Historians were left baffled how thousands of heavy infantry soldiers could simply disappear. They suggested that the most likely explanations were that the legion disbanded and its members joined other units, or it was deployed to an eastern part of the empire.
Meanwhile, the myth-making continued. In 1954, children’s author Rosemary Sutcliff published The Eagle Of The Ninth, an adventure novel in which the heroic legion was massacred by Pict hordes in hostile mountainous terrain.
Now a group of experts say the elite infantry force was indeed defeated by a band of ‘barbarians’ in a military catastrophe that shamed the empire, prompting a conspiracy of silence.
The dramatic new evidence hinges on a single gravestone tribute and was brought to light by historian and film-maker Phil Hirst, whose documentary Rome’s Lost Legion will be screened next month....
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (2-18-11)
When British First World War pilots were asked to destroy German Zeppelins, they did not turn to guns - but a giant exploding dart.
Now one of the foot-long steel-tipped darts is being sold at auction, without the explosives, and is expected to fetch £1,200.
British biplane pilots would fly above the giant airships - filled with highly flammable hydrogen - lean over the side of the cockpit and drop the darts on top of them.
The projectile was designed to puncture the canvas skin of the balloon, drop inside and then explode, igniting the hydrogen....
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (2-21-11)
But more than a century on, boxer Jack Johnson's family say there is still a ‘stigma’ hanging over him after his relationship with a white woman landed him in prison.
Lawmakers are pushing a posthumous presidential pardon campaign for the boxer, whose flamboyant lifestyle and romantic ties with white women flamed racial tension.
Authorities targeted his relationship with wife Lucille Cameron, but after she refused to co-operate they got another white witness, Belle Schreiber, to testify against him....
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (2-19-11)
Today, Chetham's Library is the oldest surviving public library in Britain, housed in the centre of Manchester in a medieval sandstone building which used to be a prison and arsenal.
It was created at the behest of Humphrey Chetham, a successful cloth merchant, whose will stipulated that the Library should be 'for the use of schollars and others well affected', and instructed the librarian 'to require nothing of any man that cometh into the library'.
The trustees started a collection covering a wide range of knowledge, for the doctors, lawyers and clergy of Manchester and its surroundings but, with the advent of libraries supported by rates, the collection changed direction.
It now specialises in works on the North West, with more than 120,000 printed items, of which more than half pre-date 1850....
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
The work, entitled The Blind Sea Captain, has only emerged once before - with no title except a label on the back - at an exhibition 80 years ago.
Sickert, who Patricia Cornwell has investigated at length and named as the serial killer, was notorious for his paintings of nudes.
Four of these were controversially entitled The Camden Town Murder, after a well publicised and gruesome murder of a prostitute in 1907.
But this gained him attention and he became a prominent member of the Camden Town Group of artists.
The Blind Sea Captain is far more sentimental in theme, but in the outbreak of World War One it would have been an appropriate subject for Sickert....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (2-22-11)
The Prime Minister said that popular uprisings now flaring across the Middle East showed the West had been wrong to back dictators and undemocratic regimes.
Britain and other Western countries supported Hosni Mubarak, ousted by protests in Egypt earlier this month.
Under Labour from 2004, Britain also strengthened relations with Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, whose regime is now crumbling amid violent scenes. Both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown met the Libyan dictator to promote British energy firms' interests in the country: around 150 British firms have since done business there.
The US and Britain have also been long-standing supporters of authoritarian regimes in the Gulf region including Saudi Arabia, making only limited efforts to push those rulers towards democratic reform....
The new unit, modelled on MI6 and the CIA, will also be tasked with gathering information to prevent terrorist attacks against Japanese targets, according to a US government cable obtained by WikiLeaks.
The cable, which records an October 2008 discussion between Hideshi Mitani, Japan’s Cabinet Office intelligence chief and Randall Fort, the former head of the US State Department’s Bureau of Research and Intelligence, reveals that Tokyo believes having a “human intelligence collection capability” has become a priority.
Mr Mitani told his US counterpart that Japan had negligible knowledge of what was going on in North Korea. Its best insights, he said, came from the North Korean ruler Kim Jong-il’s former sushi chef, a Japanese national who escaped and later wrote a memoir.
The leaked cable shows that the decision to set up a spy service was made in 2008 by the then-Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda’s Liberal Democratic Party government....
Two things make these mosaics so astounding. One is that their colour is bright and fresh, for we are tend to think of ancient objects as faded and stained. The other thing is that the mosaics covering the interiors of seven churches in Ravenna from this period are so accomplished that one is forced to think that there has been no artistic progress in the centuries since.
"The marble flourishes with bright rays and all the stones in starry purple shine richly," says a Latin inscription at the chapel entrance. "Small things confined in space are made so beautiful that they surpass the large. To Christ, whose temples exist in the human heart, nothing is small and he dwells happily confined by these walls."
These churches were meant as houses of prayer and gates of heaven. The human figures represented are often in an attitude of worship – that is to say, with hands uplifted with palms turned outward. This conventional bodily attitude is familiar in stone carvings and paintings in England too, as late as the 16th century. Sometimes when Apostles are shown with upheld hands before the risen Christ, for example, their gestures are now mistaken for surprise. But this ancient attitude of prayer is still used by the priest today at the altar in the central rite of the Eucharist....
I have invited him to my house in a village on the edge of the Cambridgeshire fens and set him a challenge: find me some artefacts. A colosseum complete with the bones of a Christian in the mouth of a lion would be ideal, but I will settle for a chariot.
First, Francis gives me the bad news: my garden is five metres above sea level. While there are Roman remains in the fens, they are generally found at between one and two metres above sea level. Above that, he tells me, we are more likely to find medieval bits and bobs – perhaps some unglazed or green-glazed pottery.
Another likely find is broken clay pipes, which were smoked by the “night-soil men” employed to spread human and animal excrement on the fields in the days before proper sanitation. The tobacco, they believed, would neutralise harmful odours. The pipes changed design so often that it is possible to date them to within 10 years....
Name of source: BBC
SOURCE: BBC (2-21-11)
The site in western Tokyo is said to be linked to Unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army, which used prisoners for biological warfare experiments.
The excavation was ordered after a former nurse came forward.
Toyo Ishii said workers were made to bury dozens of bodies there after the surrender at the end of World War II....
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (2-20-11)
In a puzzling twist, most of these people are black. The 2000 U.S. census counted 163,036 people with the surname Washington. Ninety percent of them were African American, a far higher black percentage than for any other common surname.
Some historians theorize that large numbers of blacks chose the name Washington in the process of asserting their freedom after the Civil War....
SOURCE: AP (2-17-11)
JACKSON, Miss. – Does Haley Barbour have a Confederate problem?
It's a question hounding Mississippi's Republican governor as he gears up for a possible 2012 presidential run. Barbour refused this week to condemn a proposed state license plate to honor Nathan Bedford Forrest, a Confederate general who was also an early Ku Klux Klan leader.
Barbour wouldn't say what he thinks about Forrest, a Tennessee native who's venerated by some as a brilliant military strategist and reviled by others for leading the 1864 massacre of black Union troops at Fort Pillow, Tenn.
"Look," Barbour told The Associated Press,"if you want a lesson on Nathan Bedford Forrest, buy a book."
Was Barbour's decision not to denounce a divisive historical figure a political calculation to appeal to conservative voters in early presidential primary states such as South Carolina? Or was he simply showing his well-known stubborn streak?...
SOURCE: AP (2-22-11)
Scholars are now poring through the 28 titles and 74 volumes, searching for the occasional handwritten note from the nation's third president. And librarians say it's possible more of Jefferson's books will be found in the school's collection.
The school announced the discovery Monday, on the Presidents Day holiday in the U.S.
Librarians say Jefferson's books were sold after his death to settle debts. His granddaughter, Ellen Wayles Randolph Coolidge, bid on many of the books....
Name of source: Canada Free Press
SOURCE: Canada Free Press (2-21-11)
As they struggled against the violence and racism of the mid-1800s, it’s likely they thought the inheritance they left would continue to improve the lives of their descendants.
Their legacy is the Republican Party.
For decades, Black people have given over 90 percent of their votes to the Democrat Party. The Democrats can always count on strong support from the Black Community.
But that certainly wasn’t the case during the mid-1800s. During that time, the Republican Party led the fight against strong Democrat opposition to pass the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. The amendments abolished slavery, granted blacks citizenship and the right to vote. It was clear to all Black people who their friends were in the political arena....
Name of source: Yahoo News
SOURCE: Yahoo News (2-18-11)
The Vatican also warned the faithful around the world not to fall prey to fraudsters, particularly on the Internet, who are selling tickets to the beatification ceremony on May 1.
"For the beatification Mass of Pope John Paul II, as made clear from the outset, no tickets are required," the Vatican said.
It said people should also steer clear of tour operators promising to procure tickets as part of their packages.
Italian authorities and Church officials say perhaps more than a million people may attend the mass at which John Paul, who died in 2005, will be declared a blessed of the Church and move one step closer to sainthood....
Name of source: Lee White at the National Coalition for History
The Administration’s FY 2012 budget request to Congress for the Smithsonian is $861.5 million, an increase from the $761.1 million appropriated to the Institution in fiscal year 2010. The Salaries and Expenses request for FY 2012 is $636.5 million (nearly the same as 2010) and the Facilities Capital budget is $225 million, which includes $125 million for the construction of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Most of the Facilities Capital funds for FY 2012 ($225 million) are directed toward construction of the new museum. The additional $100 million is for revitalization projects and design, including $17 million for continued renovation of the National Zoo; renovation of the west wing of the National Museum of American History ($11 million); funds for the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md. ($17.4 million); and $8 million for the revitalization of public and non-public spaces in the National Museum of Natural History.
The $100 million revitalization total includes planning and design for future projects ($14.6 million).
A budget summary for the FY 2010 appropriation and FY 2012 requests follows:
Salaries and Expenses (S&E)
- Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriation–$636,161,000
- Fiscal Year 2012 Request–$636,530,000
- Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriation-$125,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2012 Request–$225,000,000
- Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriation–$761,161,000
- Fiscal Year 2012 Request–$861,530,000
On February 14, the Administration released the proposed fiscal year 2012 budget for the National Intelligence Program (NIP). NIP would receive $55 billion in FY ’12 versus $53.1 billion in FY ’10. The NIP includes funding for most of the non-military spy agencies and is not subject to the President’s freeze on non-security discretionary spending.
The $55 billion is the aggregate number for the intelligence agencies and no further detailed information was released.
President Obama broke precedent, becoming the first president to ever release the intelligence numbers on the same day as the rest of the federal budget. The president is required by law to disclose the total, but only after the current fiscal year ends. The president can choose not to release the numbers if he explains why doing so would harm national security.
President Obama has requested $242.6 million in fiscal year 2012 for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). This is a $40 million cut from the $282.2 million the agency received in FY ’10. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.
The President requested $193.2 million for IMLS library programs. Of that amount, approximately 84 percent ($161.3 million) is distributed to the states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and freely associated states, according to a population-based formula. These grants help libraries meet community needs, use technology to develop new service models and reach underserved populations. Library programs received $213.5 million in FY ’10.
For IMLS museum programs, the President requested $32.3 million. Museum programs received $33.7 million in FY ’10.
On February 14, President Obama asked Congress for $146.2 million to fund the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for fiscal year (FY) 2012, a $21.3 million cut from the FY 10 appropriated level of $167.5 million.
The President’s request includes:
$102,700,000 for the Endowment’s grant programs in support of research, preservation, public programming, and teaching in the humanities, including:
- $40,100,000 for the operations, projects, and programs of the 56 state and territorial humanities councils;
- $4,000,000 to support NEH’s special initiative—Bridging Cultures—that will enhance Americans’ understanding of the nation’s rich cultural heritage, as well as the cultural complexity of the world in which we live;
- $11,500,000 in funds to help stimulate and match private donations in support of humanities institutions and organizations; and
- $28,055,000 for salaries and expenses needed to operate the agency.
FY 12 Proposed NEH Funding by Program (FY 12 proposed vs. FY 10 enacted)
(Amounts in thousands)
- $4,000 – Bridging Cultures (new initiative) +$4,000
- $40,100 – Federal/State partnership ($40,370) -$270
- $15,600 – Preservation and access ($17,116) -$1,516
- $13,800 – Public programs ($15,616) -$1,816
- $14,900 – Research programs ($16,866) -$1,966
- $13,500 – Education programs ($15,616) -$2,066
- $500 – Program development ($750) -$250
- $0 – We The People Initiative grants ($14,500) -$14,500
- $4,250 – Digital Humanities Initiatives ($4,866) -$616
$106,700—Subtotal Definite Funds————-($125,700) -$19,000
- $2,750 – Treasury funds ($4,800) -$2,050
- $8,750 – Challenge grants ($9,500) -$750
$14,050– Subtotal Indefinite Funds—-($14,300) -$250
$28,055 – Administration ($27,500) +$555
$146,255 – TOTAL HUMANITIES ($167,500) -$21,245
On February 14, President Obama submitted to Congress his proposed fiscal year 2012 budget for the National Park Service. History-related programs were particularly hard hit with the proposed elimination of two preservation programs (Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America) and a 50 percent cut in Heritage Partnership programs.
The National Park Service (NPS) would receive $2.9 billion in FY ‘12. This represents a $137.8 million increase over the FY 2010 level.
Funding for historical and preservation-related programs at the Park Service are summarized below. Please note below that for comparison purposes, the FY 10 enacted/2011 continuing resolution funding level will be included in parentheses after the administration’s proposed FY ’12 number.
Historic Preservation Fund–$61 million ($79.5 million) -$18.5 million. The Fund includes:
- Historic Preservation Grants–$61 million ($54.5 million) This includes $6.5 million in new funding from the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.
- Save America’s Treasures program–eliminated ($25 million) -$25 million: These funds are used to make small one-time grants for specific local historic preservation projects to preserve a building or artifact which might otherwise be lost.
National Recreation and Preservation–$51.6 million ($68.4 million) -$16.8 million. This account includes:
- Heritage Partnership programs–$8 million ($16.8 million) -8.8 million. These funds finance grants to local non-profit groups in support of historical and cultural recognition, preservation and tourism activities.
- Preserve America program—eliminated ($4.6 million) -$4.6 million: This program provides small grants to local communities in support of heritage tourism, education and historic preservation planning activities.
American Battlefield Grants Program–$10 million ($9 million) +$1 million. The budget includes $10 million for the American Battlefield Protection Grants, which require a dollar-for-dollar match with non-Federal funds to help State and local governments and nonprofit organization partnerships to purchase and protect threatened Civil War and other battlefields.
On February 14, President Obama sent to Congress a proposed Fiscal Year 2012 budget request that calls for $422.5 million for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The amount represents an 8.2 percent decrease from the FY 2011 President’s Budget request of $460.2 million.
For the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) , the grant-making arm of the National Archives, the President’s request is $5 million, a 50 percent reduction from the FY 2011 request.
Budget savings will come from the earlier decision to stop development of the Electronic Records Archives (ERA) and move directly into an operations and maintenance mode. This transition at the end of FY 2011 will reduce program expenditures by $36.3 million. Beginning in FY 2012, ERA will become an operational system and will be moved back into the Operating Expenses (OE) appropriation.
In FY 2012, the President is requesting $403.7 million for the merged OE and ERA appropriation. This is a net decrease of 7 percent or $30.4 million from the combined FY 2011 President’s Request for OE and ERA of $434 million. While the majority of the decrease is within the ERA program, NARA followed Administration guidance in reducing or eliminating a variety of programs to ensure that available resources are going towards critical mission requirements.
New priorities that the National Archives will be able to accommodate within available funding include:
- hiring 15 new employees to improve government-wide and internal electronic recordkeeping;
- obtaining storage space for archival records to address the critical shortage of records storage space in the Washington, DC, area;
- supporting records storage space requirements for archival records at the new National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, MO;
- continuing to build and expand the IT infrastructure for the National Declassification Center; and
- hiring 11 employees to improve research room holdings protection in the
Washington, DC, area.
The President also recommends a 3.5 percent decrease in the budget for NARA’s Inspector General which returns their funding to FY 2010 levels of $4.1 million.
For Repairs and Restoration (R&R) to NARA-owned buildings, the President is seeking $9.6 million, a decrease of 18.5 percent from the FY 2011 request. These resources will be applied to NARA’s base R&R requirements. The Budget also requests the removal of restrictions placed on $6.3 million in previous fiscal year building project funding.
NARA will use $341,000 to support base R&R requirements and the remaining $6 million will be used for the top priority project in NARA’s Capital Improvements Plan, which calls for changes to the infrastructure on the ground floor of the National Archives Building in Washington. This will complete the work planned to begin in FY 2011 with Congressional support to prepare the infrastructure for creation of an orientation plaza to improve visitor circulation to the Charters of Freedom, Public Vaults, McGowan Theater, and Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery temporary exhibit gallery. It will also create space for a new Freedom Hall gallery and expand the gift shop. The Foundation for the National Archives has committed to raising matching funds for this project.
The Republican leadership in the House of Representatives today brought to the floor a massive continuing resolution (H.R. 1) that would fund the federal government for the remainder of FY ’11. Agencies and programs important to the history and archival communities, such as Teaching American History Grants, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and others would see their funding slashed or eliminated.
Here is a sample of some of the more draconian cuts:
- Teaching American History Grants—program eliminated; -$119 million
- National Endowment for the Humanities–$22 million cut down to a level of $145 million. Amendments have been filed to further reduce that number or completely eliminate funding for NEH.
- National Historical Publications and Records Commission–$6 million cut down to a level of $4 million. An amendment has been offered to eliminate funding for the NHPRC.
Agencies are currently operating at the FY 2010 funding level. H.R. 1 includes $100 billion in cuts below President Obama’s fiscal year 2011 budget request, which was never enacted by Congress, and $58 billion in cuts from the current level of spending. Some of the proposed cuts are already in the bill that emerged from the House Appropriations Committee and other programs face cuts or elimination by amendment on the floor.
The current continuing resolution expires on March 4 and Congress must enact either a funding bill that runs through the end of this fiscal year on September 30, or pass another in a series of short-term extensions. To clarify, the proposed budget released by the White House on February 14 is for Fiscal Year 2012 which does not begin until October 1.
The CR is expected to pass the House easily. However, Senate Democrats and the White House have already signaled they will not concur in the deep cuts passed by the House. The threat of a shutdown of the federal government, as occurred during the Clinton administration, remains a real possibility.
Name of source: Spokesman Review (ID)
SOURCE: Spokesman Review (ID) (2-20-11)
The two were sharing a room at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center when Wood discerned the priest’s Dutch accent. They struck up a conversation, and soon these two men, ages 89 and 88, uncovered a shared experience from decades ago that molded their lives.
They had never met until their chance encounter in the hospital last Nov. 11 – Veterans Day. But they spoke intimately of Sept. 17, 1944, in Nijmegen, one of Holland’s oldest cities.
Wood was among more than 40,000 U.S. Army soldiers who boarded a fleet of C-47 airplanes in England, flew several hundred miles on a crisp clear day, and parachuted into a daring military plan drawn up to liberate the Dutch, outflank the enemy and seize the industrial heartland of Nazi Germany.
The priest, Arnold Schoffelmeer, was a seminary student at the time. He lived quietly, sometimes hiding to avoid being conscripted into the occupying German army or sent to labor camps....