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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: WaPo
SOURCE: WaPo (10-13-11)
While the National Women’s History Museum waits for authorization from Congress, its organizers are launching a series of lectures on scholarly topics.
The subjects are a window into the range of materials a museum might cover and a pointed way of reminding the public the museum remains a vital effort.
“The Past, Present, and Future of U.S. Women’s History” kicks off October 18 with a talk by Dr. Vicki Ruiz, the dean of the School of Humanities at the University of California at Irvine. Ruiz, a social historian and professor of History and Chicano/Latino Studies, will discuss milestones of Latino history in the U.S....
SOURCE: WaPo (10-12-11)
After spending 90 minutes debating his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, Rick Perry decided to go over to the Beta Theta Pi fraternity house and talk a little history and states’ rights, a favorite topic of the 10th amendment enthusiast.
NBC’s Carrie Dann reported that Perry suffered a “head-slapping gaffe” after the debate when he answered a young woman’s question by saying that one of the “reasons we fought the revolution in the 16th century was to get away from the kind of onerous crown.”
But as most history buffs know, the American revolution was fought in the 18th century....
SOURCE: WaPo (10-10-11)
Occupy Wall Street has arrived. Facebook is all-aflutter, and Twitter is all-atweeter, as news of “occupations” and clashes with the powers-that-be spread like wildfire around the country.
Now entering its fourth week, the Wall Street occupation has become a national phenomenon. The president is interested, celebrities are popping by, and pizza shops are adding the OccuPie to their menus. There is even an Occupy video game in development. The movement has spawned hundreds of Occupy locales in a national Occupy Together network. And now there is talk of going global: Occupy the World.
Inquiring minds want to know: Who are these people? What exactly are they demanding? Who is leading this thing?
On these issues, the movement has been clear: This is a leaderless movement without an official set of demands. There are no projected outcomes, no bottom lines and no talking heads. In the Occupy movement, We are all leaders....
Name of source: USA Today
SOURCE: USA Today (10-13-11)
American history is dotted with popular movements like the "Occupy Wall Street" protest -- particularly during times of great economic hardship.
Several movements from the Great Depression of the 1930s and the major economic crises in the 1890s seem to parallel the "Occupy Wall Street" phenomenon, Iowa historians said.
In each case, they said, average people united and called on the federal government to ease financial hardships or correct what they perceived to be structural inequalities caused by the concentration of wealth. Here are a few of them:
Coxey's Army: The protest known as Coxey's Army may hold the strongest parallels to the Occupy movement, said University of Iowa history professor Shelton Stromquist.
The movement, led by Ohio populist Jacob Coxey, united unemployed workers in a march to Washington, D.C., in 1894 to demand that Congress inflate the U.S. currency and use the newly created wealth to create public-works jobs for the unemployed....
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-3-11)
The American files show that chancellor Ludwig Erhard, despite being credited as one of the men behind West Germany's post-war economic miracle, was prepared to hand over a huge sum of money to Moscow for the prize of reunification.
A document seen by the German news magazine Der Spiegel records a conversation between a German government official and George McGhee, the US ambassador to Bonn, in October 1963. The American was told Germany was prepared to pay over $2 billion a year for a decade to Moscow in return for East Germany: a sum which then amounted to about a quarter of West Germany's GDP.
The conversation ties in with a CIA report from the same year, which said Mr Erhard had "suggested he was willing to offer 'substantial' sacrifices by West Germany perhaps in the form of economic aid in return for Soviet concessions on reunification".
Under the so-called "Erhard plan", in return for the money Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader, would agree to a phased withdraw from East Germany, leading to self-determination and eventual reunification....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-10-11)
The severed head of King Henri IV of France, lost during the Revolution and formally identified last year, should be reunited with his body, the pretender to the throne of France has demanded.
Louis de Bourbon said the embalmed head, identified by forensic scientists in December, should now be reinterred with his body so that one of France's best-loved monarchs can "rest in peace".
Henri IV was 57-years-old when he was assassinated by a Catholic militant in 1610.
He was buried alongside France's other kings in the Basilica of Saint Denis, outside Paris. French revolutionaries dug up his body in 1793 but a mystery admirer of "Good King Henri" managed to make off with his head.
Over the next 200 years, it was lost from view until a private collector finally handed it over to Louis de Bourbon, 37, the Duke of Anjou, a banker and King Henri's direct descendant....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-11-11)
Spain may exhume the remains of dictator Francisco Franco from the vast mausoleum erected using the forced labour of political prisoners in the hills near Madrid and convert the site into a museum of reconciliation.
Under proposals to be considered by the Spanish government the dictator's corpse could be transferred from the controversial Valley of the Fallen to the El Pardo cemetery in central Madrid and buried alongside his wife, Carmen Polo.
The remains of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of Franco's Falangist party, which currently lie next to the late dictator, would be removed from the basilica and placed in a separate grave within the complex.
The proposals have been made by a commission of experts tasked with deciding the fate of a memorial that even 36 years after the death of the General still casts a dark shadow over Spain....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-6-11)
The World Monuments Fund (WMF), a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of historic buildings and attractions, included the sites on its annual watch list.
They include Newstead Abbey, the ancestral home of Lord Byron, the ruins of Coventry’s old cathedral, which was struck by bombs during the Second World War, the isolated island of St Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean, where Napoleon was imprisoned and died, and Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight.
Birmingham Central Library, The Hayward Gallery in London and Preston Bus Station, a trio of concrete buildings grouped under the umbrella “British Brutalism”, were also declared under threat.
“The World Monuments Watch is a call to action on behalf of endangered cultural heritage sites across the globe,” said Bonnie Burnham, the WMF president, at a press conference in New York....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (9-21-11)
Did he or didn’t he? That is the question. The debate over whether William Shakespeare could write his own name, let alone the body of works considered among the greatest in English literature, has consumed minds for more than 150 years.
Now a new film, Anonymous, by Independence Day director Roland Emmerich, is about to throw more fuel on the fire.
Anonymous, released on October 28, is set in the political snake-pit of Elizabethan England. It asserts that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, was the true author of the Bard’s plays. And Shakespeare, an actor, was a mere provincial frontman for the plays so Oxford’s authorship could remain secret.
The film includes a masterful performance from Rhys Ifans as the brooding genius Oxford, with the mother-and-daughter team of Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave playing the young and old Queen Elizabeth. Ifans might seem a more obvious choice for the comic role of the buffoonish, scheming Shakespeare, but that part is taken by Rafe Spall, son of Timothy.
Anonymous is no wordy but drab costume drama. Emmerich brings his epic style to bear on the exterior shots, swooping over Tudor London in all its teeming glory and culminating in Elizabeth’s funeral procession along a frozen Thames, an icy finality to the story....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-5-11)
In an uncharacteristically unguarded admission, the Russian prime minister's spokesman conceded that the amphorae had been planted in shallow water for Mr Putin to find by well-meaning archaeologists keen to please the Russian strong man.
"Putin did not find the amphorae on the sea bed that had been lying there for thousands of years," said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman. "That is obvious. They were found during an (archaeological) expedition several weeks or days beforehand. Of course they were then left there (for him to find) or placed there. It is a completely normal thing to do."
The archaeologists had wanted the 58-year-old politician to experience what it was like to be on an expedition, he added....
Name of source: Reuters
SOURCE: Reuters (10-12-11)
BERLIN (Reuters) - The newly published diary of an indignant small-town official in Nazi Germany has stirred the sensitive debate over how much ordinary Germans knew of atrocities committed under Hitler, creating a wave of interest at home and abroad.
The diary of Friedrich Kellner "'All Minds Blurred and Darkened' Diaries 1939-1945" came to prominence thanks to the intervention of the elder former U.S. President George Bush.
Filled with scathing commentaries on events, newspaper clippings and records of private conversations, Kellner's 940-page chronicle gives an insight into what information was available to ordinary Germans.
Kellner, a mid-ranking court official who was in his mid-50s when he started writing, vents his anger at Hitler, hopes his country will be defeated in the war and laments reports of mysterious deaths at mental homes and mass shootings of Jews....
SOURCE: Reuters (10-7-11)
(Reuters) - When Paul Friedman met the rag-tag youth camped out near Wall Street to protest inequality in the American economy, he felt he was witnessing the start of a protest movement not seen in America since the 1960s.
And Friedman should know. The 64-year-old was a student organizer during the anti-Vietnam War movement, protesting from 1964 for 11 years until the war ended. He also joined Civil Rights actions against racial segregation in America.
On Wednesday, as thousands of union workers marched to show solidarity with the movement called Occupy Wall Street, he walked shoulder-to-shoulder with dreadlocked college dropouts, unemployed youth and students, who for three weeks have camped out near Wall Street and who have no plans to leave.
"It felt in my gut very much like what I was a part of in the 1960s," Friedman said. "What people are expressing ... is an experience that their opportunities are shrinking, not growing and their hopes are shrinking, not growing, and that is an unnatural feeling for the young," he said.
The protesters object to the Wall Street bailout in 2008, which they say left banks enjoying huge profits while average Americans suffered under high unemployment and job insecurity with little help from the federal government.
What the Occupy Wall Street movement has in common with the 1960s, he said, was that the weak economy hits home, just like racism or the chance that you or your boyfriend or brother or your son might be drafted to fight in Vietnam.
Most protests since the 1960s - against U.S. actions in Central America in the 1980s or against free trade in the 1990s or the impending Iraq War in 2003 - were in solidarity with an ideal. This, like Civil Rights and Vietnam, is personal.
That more than anything else is why the Occupy Wall Street movement could spread, Friedman said....
Name of source: Fox News
SOURCE: Fox News (10-12-11)
After nearly six decades, a Korean War veteran in California received a Purple Heart for rescuing a wounded Marine during a fierce firefight -- one in which he was injured, too, and then returned to the fight only to be hurt again, The Mercury News reported.
On July 27, 1953, Eugene Bradford, now 77 and living in Palo Alto, rescued an unconscious Marine laid out over a rice paddy, the paper reported. Bradford, who earlier was injured during a fight with a knife-wielding enemy, charged toward the Marine through a hail of bullets and managed to pull him to safety. But not before he absorbed three pieces of shrapnel in his body, the paper reported.
“After that, I took about a half-hour break,” Bradford quipped to the paper. He reportedly took command of the platoon for the next five hours, until “the inevitable happened” and he was “knocked out” when a got too close to him....
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (10-12-11)
After the Black Death reached London in 1348, about 2,400 people were buried in East Smithfield, near the Tower of London, in a cemetery that had been prepared for the plague’s arrival. From the teeth of four of those victims, researchers have now reconstructed the full DNA of a microbe that within five years felled one-third to one-half of the population of Western Europe.
The bacterium that causes plague, Yersinia pestis, is still highly virulent today but has different symptoms, leading some historians to doubt that it was the agent of the Black Death.
Those doubts were laid to rest last year by detection of the bacterium’s DNA in plague victims from mass graves across Europe. With the full genome now in hand, the researchers hope to recreate the microbe itself so as to understand what made the Black Death outbreak so deadly.
So far, the evidence points more toward the conditions of the time than to properties of the bacterium itself. The genome recovered from the East Smithfield victims is remarkably similar to that of the present-day bacterium, says the research team, led by Kirsten I. Bos of McMaster University in Ontario and Johannes Krause of the University of Tübingen in Germany....
SOURCE: NYT (10-13-11)
LAKE HAVASU CITY, Ariz. — When Arizona executes prisoners, it uses lethal injection — not drawing and quartering, hanging or beheading, all of which have fallen out of favor since they were used with some regularity in Europe centuries back.
But for a brief period this week, the state will be simulating that gorier era, when the most notorious outlaws have their heads put on stakes and displayed for all to see. Red food dye will take the place of real blood, of course, and plastic mannequin heads will be used instead of actual skulls.
Forty years have passed since Robert P. McCulloch, an Arizona real estate developer with a penchant for pie-in-the-sky ideas, bought the actual London Bridge that once spanned the Thames, dismantled it, transported it halfway around the world and had it rebuilt, stone by stone, in this desert oasis near the California line....
SOURCE: NYT (10-11-11)
Sea explorers announced Monday the discovery of a new sunken treasure that they plan to retrieve from the bottom of the North Atlantic.
Off Ireland in 1917, a German torpedo sank the British steamship Mantola, sending the vessel and its cargo of an estimated 20 tons of silver to the seabed more than a mile down. At today’s prices, the metal would be worth about $18 million.
Odyssey Marine Exploration, based in Tampa, Fla., said it had visually confirmed the identity of the Mantola with a tethered robot last month during an expedition and had been contracted by the British Department for Transport (a successor to the Ministry of War Transport) to retrieve the lost riches....
SOURCE: NYT (10-9-11)
BEIJING — Jiang Zemin, the former Chinese president who was said to have fallen gravely ill in July, appeared at a ceremony in Beijing on Sunday, fanning speculation about his health and the role he might play in power struggles accompanying the long-planned shift in the top leadership next year.
A visibly frail Mr. Jiang, 85, was seen on state television on Sunday morning standing with other Chinese leaders in the Great Hall of the People and singing the national anthem along with others to honor the 100th anniversary of the revolution that ended the Qing Dynasty. One photograph showed Mr. Jiang, dressed in a dark suit and red tie and wearing square-rimmed glasses, waving as he took a seat.
Reports of Mr. Jiang’s failing health emerged in the Hong Kong news media on July 6, days after he did not appear at a celebration for the 90th birthday of the Chinese Communist Party. Chinese officials tried to block or limit online discussion of Mr. Jiang’s health, and Xinhua, the state news agency, called talk of Mr. Jiang’s death “pure rumor.”...
SOURCE: NYT (10-10-11)
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, who often waxes nostalgic about his small-town roots, grew up in an almost all-white rural area where many referred to slingshots as “niggershooters.” One elderly black resident recalls being introduced by her boss at a party decades back as “my maid, Nigger Mae Lou,” while just four years ago, a black high school student found a noose in his locker.
In 1968, Mr. Perry left home for Texas A&M, a deeply conservative university whose yearbooks early in the century included Ku Klux Klan-robed students and a dairy group called the Kream and Kow Klub. The school, having just graduated its first two black undergraduates, was in the early throes of desegregation; at the end of Mr. Perry’s four years there, blacks still made up less than 1 percent of the student body.
By the time he inherited the governorship from George W. Bush in 2000, Mr. Perry appeared to have moved well beyond his racially sheltered background....
Even his fiercest critics in Texas say that racism is not on their short, or even long, list of Mr. Perry’s sins. But Mr. Perry, whose advocacy of states’ rights sounds to some like a yearning for the Old South, has now been forced to show that he has overcome his early surroundings....
Name of source: Medievalists.net
SOURCE: Medievalists.net (10-3-11)
A graveyard dating back to the 7th century has been discovered just of Dublin. The site was uncovered as part of construction on an underground electrical line in the village of Rush by Eirgrid, Ireland’s state-owned electric power transmission operator.
The burial site was discovered in June and tests conducted at Queen’s University, Belfast date the graveyard to between 617 to 675 AD, the pre-Viking era which saw the conversion of the country to Christianity.
John Fitzgerald, project director with Eirgrid, said: “It is an interesting historical discovery for the project, local archaeologists and the local community. We are working with Fingal County Council and the National Monuments Service, and will provide more detailed information to the public about the archaeological site as soon as we know more.”...
Name of source: BBC
SOURCE: BBC (10-4-11)
Experts believe rare 12th Century slate inscriptions found on a castle were probably made to protect against evil.
The dozen scratchings were uncovered during a three-week excavation at Nevern in Pembrokeshire.
Archaeologists think the stars and other designs were made by a serf, labourer or soldier some time between 1170 and 1190 when the castle was built.
They say they also give an insight into the beliefs of medieval working men....
SOURCE: BBC (10-8-11)
A rail consultant has told of his surprise at finding a Victorian engineer's proposals for a rail link between Scotland and Ireland.
Edinburgh-based David Spaven believed the plans for a tunnel, causeway or an undersea bridge between Stranraer and Belfast were not widely known today.
The plans feature in a new book, Mapping the Railways, Mr Spaven has co-written with author Julian Holland.
It also includes abandoned ideas for light railways on Skye and Lewis.
Published for the The Times by Collins, the book has been described as the most comprehensive collection of British railway maps dating from 1819 to the present day....
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (10-11-11)
Two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese submarine shot a torpedo at an American oil tanker just off the California coast, sinking the ship and sending three million gallons (11.36 million litres) of crude to the ocean bottom.
All 38 people on board were rescued in what remains an overlooked chapter of World War II - it was one of several attacks by Japanese and German forces on the U.S. mainland during the war.
The SS Montebello has sat mostly intact 900 feet below the surface with the oil remarkably still on board after seven decades.
A mission to see how much of the oil remains in the hold of the 440-foot ship launches this week to help officials determine how to prevent the crude from leaking and marring the celebrated central California coastline.
A catastrophic release, such as an earthquake, could crack the hull of the wreck and send the crude spewing into the ocean....
Name of source: Shoreline Times
SOURCE: Shoreline Times (10-12-11)
ESSEX – A “ship’s knee” found in the mud of the Connecticut River may have come from the wreck of an American ship that was run aground by the British Navy some 200 years ago, marine historians say.
And, the discovery of this mystery relic may help the Connecticut River Museum with their quest to get their property designated a national historic battle site and to get the state to name Essex (more specifically, the peninsula where the town is located), a state historic battle site.
While this discovery was made in June, the artifact has only been on display at the Connecticut River Museum the past two weeks.
At the museum, the old ship’s knee is kept in a tank of fresh water that is changed every two weeks to leech the salt water out, in an effort to preserve the aged wood, according to Jerry Roberts, director of the museum. Once the 200-year-old ship’s knee was taken out of the water and exposed to the air, salt would only damage the wood, crystallizing on its surface, turning the wood sponge-like, he adds.
“The salt water is very dangerous to the wood,” he says....
Name of source: Bristol University
SOURCE: Bristol University (10-10-11)
An extremely rare Egyptian coffin, possibly belonging to the son of a king or a very senior official, has been ‘discovered’ at Torquay Museum by an archaeologist at the University of Bristol.
Dr Aidan Dodson, a senior research fellow in Bristol’s Department of Archaeology and Anthropology made the discovery while undertaking a long-term project to catalogue every single Egyptian coffin in English and Welsh provincial museums.
Dr Dodson said: “When I walked into Torquay Museum for the first time I realised that the coffin was something really special. Not only was it of a design of which there is probably only one other example in the UK (in Bristol), but the quality was exceptional.
“Cut from a single log of cedar wood, it is exquisitely carved, inlaid and painted. For a child to have been given something like that, he must have had very important parents – perhaps even a king and queen. Unfortunately, the part of the inscription which named the boy and his parents is so badly damaged that we cannot be certain.
“The inscription had been re-worked at some point for a new owner – a 2,500 year old mummified boy, anonymous but given the name Psamtek by his current custodians, that came to Torquay Museum with the coffin when in was donated in the 1950s. ‘Psamtek’ is in fact nearly 1,000 years younger than the coffin itself.”...
Name of source: UPI
SOURCE: UPI (10-12-11)
WASHINGTON, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- The transcript of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon's testimony to the Watergate grand jury will be made public Nov. 10, a man who pushed for the release said.
Historian Stanley Kutler told The Washington Post the Nixon Presidential Library and Archives in California will release a series of recordings and documents in addition to the grand jury transcript.
Kutler was among a group of historians who sued to make the materials available to the public.
Previously Nixon's testimony had been redacted under laws that shield grand jury materials.
Steven Aftergood, who directs the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists, called the upcoming release "a missing piece or the puzzle about the Nixon administration."...
Name of source: ScienceNews
SOURCE: ScienceNews (10-6-11)
South America’s ancient Inca rulers didn’t establish the largest empire in the New World by being sweethearts. But their reputation as warmongers, at least according to some influential 16th- and 17th-century Spanish accounts of Inca history, appears to be undeserved, a new study of skeletal remains suggests.
It’s more likely that Inca bigwigs adopted a range of largely nonviolent takeover tactics starting around 1000, say anthropologists Valerie Andrushko of Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven and Elva Torres of the National Institute of Culture in Cuzco, Peru, once the capital of the Inca empire. Head injuries suggestive of warfare appear on only a small proportion of skeletons previously excavated at Inca-controlled sites located near Cuzco, the researchers report in a paper published online September 30 in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.
“It appears that the Inca relied less on warfare to conquer other groups and more on political alliances, bloodless takeovers and ideological control tactics,” Andrushko says....
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (10-11-11)
A modern wedge of glass, concrete and steel rips through a 135-year-old former armory building for the armies of Kaiser Wilhelm I, its silvery shimmer and stark lines contrasting sharply with the neoclassical building that it now bisects.
American architect Daniel Libeskind knew when he won the bid to redesign Dresden's Museum of Military History that he wanted to create a radical departure — something symbolic of Germany's rigid authoritarian past giving way to the liberal democracy of today.
"He said from the beginning that we must transform the building," said Libeskind's project leader Jochen Klein, in a preview of the building Tuesday ahead of its official reopening to the public on Saturday. "We needed to give the old building a new meaning....
Name of source: Agence France-Presse
SOURCE: Agence France-Presse (10-11-11)
The winners of this year’s Nobel prize in economics said yesterday that the eurozone crisis is mainly a political issue, not an economic one.
New York University’s Thomas Sargent, who with Princeton University colleague Christopher Sims captured the annual prize for economics, said the founding of the United States shows what the issues and solutions are.
“There are no new issues in economic theory with Europe and the euro... the difficult thing is the politics,” Sargent told a news conference in Princeton. “In the 1780s, the United States is a basket case,” he added, with 13 sovereign governments, each of which could raise taxes and print money.
In contrast, the nation had a very weak center, not having yet established a central bank or gained taxing power....
Name of source: Toronto Star
SOURCE: Toronto Star (10-11-11)
As long ago as 1842, with the War of 1812 just three decades in the rear-view mirror, Major John Richardson was already lamenting that its heroism and import were being forgotten in Canada.
“It is a humiliating yet undeniable fact,” Richardson harrumphed, “that there are few young men of the present generation who are at all aware, except by vague and inaccurate report, of the brilliant feats of arms, and sterling loyalty displayed by their immediate progenitors.”...
The War of 1812 has been called by U.S. historians “Our Strangest War,” “A Forgotten Conflict” and “Mr. Madison’s War” (after U.S. President James Madison). It’s also been called the War that Both Sides Won, “a curious little war,” “a silly little war” fought between creaking sailing ships, inexperienced armies and bumbling generals.
Whatever the name, it remains the only real war, said the great historian J.M.S. Careless, fought in English Canada in defence of the country’s own soil.
Thinking, doubtless, of Brock, the great chief Tecumseh and the heroine Laura Secord, Careless wrote that “the very creation of heroes and legends out of the conflict reveals the impact that it made on popular consciousness.”...
Name of source: Lee White at the National Coalition for History
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee this week announced it would markup a bill reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) on October 18. Sen. Tom Harkin, (D-IA), the committee chairman, and Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY) the ranking Republican have been engaged in negotiations since early this year in crafting the bill.
While the legislation has yet to be introduced, according to Education Week, it will be a comprehensive bill. House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman Rep. John Kline (R-MN) has taken the opposite approach passing a series of smaller bills targeted at specific issues and sections of the ESEA. For example, his committee earlier this year approved H.R. 1891 the “Setting New Priorities in Education Act.” This bill would eliminate 43 programs at the Department of Education including Teaching American History (TAH) grants.
In a statement, Sen. Harkin said: “The legislation that I will bring before the HELP Committee reflects two years of bipartisan hearings, discussions, and negotiations and almost a decade of learning from teachers and parents about the strengths and weaknesses of the No Child Left Behind Act. Our bill will take important steps to advance the state, local and federal partnership that is needed to improve educational equity and ensure all students graduate from high school prepared for success in college and careers.”
Despite the apparent bi-partisan support of Harkin and Enzi, restless Republicans in the Senate have moved forward introducing targeted bills, much like the approach taken in the House.
For example, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) recently introduced the “Empowering Local Educational Decision Making Act of 2011” (S. 1569). The bill streamlines 59 programs into 2 flexible foundational block grants – the Fund for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning and the Safe and Healthy Students Block Grant. The Fund for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning consolidates 34 programs into one flexible, formula-driven program to fund locally-determined needs and initiatives. This would result in the elimination of targeted programs such as Teaching American History grants.
It remains to be seen in the current hyper-partisan atmosphere in Washington whether ESEA reform, either in comprehensive or piecemeal form, can be enacted especially in a presidential election year.
On Sept. 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a Fiscal Year 2012 funding bill (S. 1599) that includes $46 million for the Teaching American History (TAH) grants program at the Department of Education. However a draft House Appropriations Committee version of the bill released on Sept. 29 would eliminate funding for TAH.
The Teaching American History Grants program received $46 million in FY 11, but that funding went to existing TAH grantees.
The Senate Appropriations Committee also recently marked up the Fiscal Year 2012 Financial Services and General Government (FS&GG) funding bill (S. 1573) that includes $5 million for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).
This amount is $1.986 million less than the NHPRC received in FY ’11. However, it is the amount the Obama administration requested for FY ’12. As passed earlier this year the House Appropriations Committee’s version of the FS&GG FY ’12 bill only provides $1 million for the NHPRC.
The federal government continues to function on a week-long continuing resolution (CR) since the current fiscal year expires on September 30. When it returns from recess next week Congress is expected to consider a longer CR that will run until November 18.
The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) has signed a cooperative agreement with the University of Virginia and its Virginia Foundation for the Humanities to provide pre-publication access to 68,000 historical papers of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington that have not yet been published in authoritative documentary editions.
The agreement provides up to $2.5 million for the project.
Documents Compass, a program of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, affiliated with the University of Virginia, is carrying out this three-year project. Documents Compass, a program specializing in documentary editing in the electronic age, will update and improve existing transcriptions of the papers of the Founders of the Nation and make them available online through a new website. This work builds on its successful 2009 pilot project, funded through an NHPRC grant, which put online 5,000 unpublished documents from the Papers of James Madison and the Papers of John Adams.
This project expedites availability of the unpublished papers, giving scholars and the general public access to these primary source materials before they appear in the official print editions produced by six separate documentary editing projects. As new authoritative volumes are published in future, the final transcriptions with explanatory notes will replace the pre-publication transcriptions. “This is a remarkable opportunity to make available to the public these very important historical documents in a timely and easily accessible manner,” says Rob Vaughan, president of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.
Providing access to the unpublished transcriptions is the second stage of the Founders Online Initiative undertaken by NHPRC in 2010. The first stage, currently underway, is being carried out by the University of Virginia Press to provide free online access to over 120,000 historical documents included in the published documentary editions for these key figures of the U.S. founding era. Users will be able to access both the published, annotated documents and the unpublished transcriptions through the Founders Online website.
On September 29, the National Archives and Records Administration announced that it has selected IBM to provide operations and maintenance of the Electronic Records Archives system (ERA).
This award represents the achievement of a goal established by the Archivist of the United States and is consistent with guidance from the Office of Management and Budget to conclude development of the ERA System by the end of September 2011.
ERA is designed to receive, preserve, and provide access to the permanently-valuable electronic records created by the Federal government. Deployed in five increments, ERA has multiple instances to handle the unique needs of electronic records from Federal agencies, Presidential Administrations, and the U.S. Congress.
As a central part of the National Archives mission to provide access to records documenting the actions of the Federal government, the ERA system has an Online Public Access component to make these electronic records searchable and accessible to the general public.
The contract award is for one base year with nine one-year options. Performance of the contract will take place in Gaithersburg and College Park, Maryland and Rocket Center, West Virginia.
On September 15, the White House released an Open Government Status Report detailing a series of changes they have made to make the Executive branch more open since the beginning of the Obama Administration in January 2009.
The report focuses on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Open Government Directive, Data.gov, spending transparency, White House transparency, and efforts to limit the use of security restrictions to keep information secret. Notably, the report acknowledges that the Administration has more work to do to meet the level of unprecedented openness the President committed to creating on his first day in office, and includes a description of the Administration’s plans to build on their transparency initiatives.
The report focuses on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Open Government Directive, Data.gov, spending transparency, White House transparency, and efforts to limit the use of security restrictions to keep information secret.
The National Archives and Records Administration is completing a multi-year nationwide reappraisal of the historical significance of our nation’s court records. Recent articles and postings have led to some confusion on what is occurring. In reality, the National Archives has developed objective criteria by which District Court case files are identified for permanent retention.
Archives appraisal staff led a nationwide project, meeting with District Court judges and clerks, legal scholars and historians, reviewing files for each type of civil case to determine the value, having the scholars and historians review the appraisal and recommended disposition, and publishing the schedule in the Federal Register seeking public comment.
Under the previous schedule for District Court civil case files, only the case files that went to trial were scheduled as permanent records. Non-trial cases were appraised as temporary unless they were specifically identified to be “historically significant.” The National Archives believed that non-trial cases often had historical significance, but were not being identified.
Under this new revised schedule, there are now a large number of non-trial case files that are permanent, which previously would have had a temporary designation. Among these are cases involving civil rights, the environment, state reapportionment, patents, selective service, the death penalty, and numerous other categories. In addition, all class action cases and multi-district litigation cases are now permanent, as well as other cases specifically identified by the Courts or by the National Archives. The remaining non-trial case files are temporary with a 15-year retention.
The new schedule will result in a significantly larger number of cases being retained as permanent. For the period of 1970-2009, 1.4 million new cases will now be preserved that would have been classified as temporary under the old system. This represents a 300% increase of permanent records over the old records schedule.
On September 8, the National Coalition for History joined OpenTheGovernment.org, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) and other groups in sending a letter urging the Administration to create a Presidential Advisory Committee on Open Government under the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (FACA).
The hope is this committee will be a key objective in the initial U.S. OGP Action Plan scheduled to be announced today as part of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).The OGP is an initiative that will bring together partners from many countries and sectors to support governments’ efforts to become more transparent, accountable, and participation.
This Committee would help raise the profile of open government on the international stage, throughout the U.S. federal government, and set an example for other countries. A Presidential Advisory Committee on Open Government, subject to the constraints and responsibilities of FACA, is a good model for effectively developing an action plan and can help build a stronger foundation for open government work. Learn more about the proposal here.
On August 18, 2011, the National Archives released the statement below, addressing an allegation that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had been destroying documents it wasn’t authorized to destroy.
“In July 2010, the National Archives contacted the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding an allegation that the SEC had been destroying files pertaining to Matters Under Inquiry (MUI) for the past 17 years. Because a NARA-approved disposition schedule did not exist for these records, the SEC did not have authority to dispose of them per the Federal Records Act, 44 USC 3314 and 36 CFR 1220.18.
In the last year, the National Archives has continued to work with the SEC to prevent future unauthorized destruction of MUI files. While the National Archives is satisfied that the destruction has stopped, NARA remains concerned that the SEC has been slow in creating records schedules for review and approval by the Archivist of the United States that will ultimately determine how long these MUI records need to be retained.
On a regular basis, the National Archives works closely with Federal Agencies, to resolve allegations of unauthorized destruction of Federal records, again consistent with the Federal Records Act, 44 USC Chapter 31 and 36 CFR Part 1230 (Unlawful or Accidental Removal, Defacing, Alteration, or Destruction of Records).
The National Archives is always concerned about unauthorized disposal of records and works closely with agencies to adopt best practices to properly manage their records. This is a very high priority for the agency because effective records management is central to assuring citizen rights and government accountability, and ensuring that the subset of Federal records that have permanent value is identified and preserved in the National Archives to document the American Experience.”
OpenTheGovernment.org recently released the 2011 Secrecy Report, a quantitative report on indicators of government secrecy. This year’s report chronicles positive changes in some indicators of secrecy as a result of the Obama Administration’s openness directives.
The indicators tracked by the report also show a national security bureaucracy that continues to expand the size of the secret government. Formerly known as the Secrecy Report Card, this year’s edition includes a “Progress Report on Openness and Secrecy in the Obama Administration” that shows success, although uneven, in carrying through on past commitments and some troubling trends.
One more significant addition to the 2011 Secrecy Report is the inclusion of FOIA data from users’ perspectives. The report analyzes the often inexplicably long delays users face in receiving information they request from the government and brings attention to other issues that continually complicate users’ attempts to get government information.
According to Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, “We are not as yet at the level of ‘unprecedented transparency’ the Obama Administration promises, but we are beginning to see signs that at least some of the Administration’s openness efforts are paying off.” For example, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) backlogs government-wide were reduced by 10% in Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 compared to FY 2009.
Name of source: The Hollywood Reporter
SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter (10-10-11)
NEW DELHI – History Channel launched in India Sunday, promoted by AETN18, a joint venture between History parent A+E Networks and leading Indian broadcasting group Network18.
The high definition channel roped in top Bollywood star Salman Khan as its brand ambassador, who features in the channel's launch campaign. AETN18 claims the channel is already available in over 40 million households distributed via various cable and direct to home (DTH) platforms. In addition, History is available in six languages, including English....
Name of source: Ynet News
SOURCE: Ynet News (10-11-11)
Palestinians are using archeology to advance their statehood bid. Prominent archaeologist Gabriel Barkai called it "cultural Intifada."
The PA will seek World Heritage status for the birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem, once the UN’s cultural agency (UNESCO) admits them as a full member. Hamdan Taha, the Palestinian Authority minister who deals with antiquities and culture, also listed Nablus and Hebron among 20 cultural heritage sites which he said could be nominated as World Heritage Sites....
Taha's bid at UNESCO is supported by the Vatican Custody of the Holy Land, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Church. As th UN bid brings the Palestinians closer to an independent state, the historical and archeological claims are playing an increasingly prominent role in the building of the national consciousness.
Taha, who did his undergraduate work in Berlin, worked in Jericho with Paolo Matthiae, an Italian scholar who discovered Ebla, the Syrian site that is most famous for the “Ebla tablets.” In Herodion (Herod’s fortress in the Judean hills), Taha worked with Michele Piccirillo, a Fransciscan priest who has been one of the most famous Italian archaeologists. Taha gets funds and support from UNESCO, European governments and societies like the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, a major Catholic association in Jerusalem....
Name of source: The Star Phoenix
SOURCE: The Star Phoenix (10-10-11)
EDINBURGH -- An exhibition devoted to one of Scotland's most colourful sailors, and inspiration for such fictional heroes of the Napoleonic wars as Horatio Hornblower and Jack Aubrey, is giving visitors a taste of a bygone age at the national museum in Edinburgh.
The exhibition devoted to Admiral Lord Cochrane (1775-1860) has brought together a number of documents and memorabilia never seen in public before, and includes portraits, weaponry and charts from the Napoleonic wars. It runs to next February 19.
Through a turbulent career, Fife-born Thomas Cochrane went from naval hero as a famed frigate commander and a Radical member of parliament to scandal and disgrace over an 1814 stock market fraud.
He reinvented himself to command Chile's rebel navy in its fight to overthrow Spanish colonial rule - he remains a national hero in Chile to this day - and finally to participate in the Greek war of independence from Turkish rule....
Name of source: Discovery News
SOURCE: Discovery News (10-10-11)
They had endured months of cold and hunger. The Donner-Reed party had set out for California in 1846 in a journey that normally took four to six months. But after trying a new route, called Hastings Cutoff, rugged terrain left the group snowbound in the Sierra Nevada.
Now a new book analyzing one of the most spectacular tragedies in American history reveals what the 81 pioneers ate before resorting to eating each other in a desperate attempt to survive. On the menu: family pets, bones, twigs, a concoction described as "glue," strings and, eventually, human remains.
The book, "An Archaeology of Desperation: Exploring the Donner Party's Alder Creek Camp," centers on recent archaeological investigations at that campsite near Truckee, Calif., where one quarter of the 81 emigrants spent their nightmarish winter of 1846-47.
No human bone was identified in the fragments analyzed from the extensive bone sample at Alder Creek, but the researchers conclude that "some Donner Party members participated in cannibalism" during the last week of February 1847....
Name of source: LA Times
SOURCE: LA Times (10-7-11)
Coral reefs have been dying off at alarming rates because of modern human activity, and conservationists struggle to preserve them. Now scientists have found such efforts have a long history.
By the beginning of the 15th century, native Hawaiian islanders were engaging in sustainable practices to preserve their reefs — ushering in 400 years of recovery.
The research, published Monday in the journal PLoS One, shows that sustainable practices go back a long way and that coral reefs may be better able to regenerate than previously thought.
Coral reefs are some of the world's richest ecosystems, supporting a diverse array of marine life, including reef fish and mollusks. But they're highly susceptible to modern-day threats such as changing water temperatures, pollution and aggressive fishing practices....
Name of source: Sydney Morning Herald
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald (10-7-11)
The Taj Mahal will collapse within five years unless urgent work is carried out at the site of the famous domed building, an Indian historian says.
The 358-year-old mausoleum, one of the wonders of the world which attracts some four million visitors each year, is suffering the consequences of a drying nearby Yamuna River, Britain's Daily Express newspaper reports.
Mahogany posts driven into wells which form the main support for the construction are drying and cracking and causing sections of the building to tilt.
"If the crisis is not tackled on a war-footing, the Taj Mahal will collapse in between two and five years," said MP Ramshankar Katheria, who is leading a campaign to build a STG71 million ($114 million) dam to preserve water levels....
Name of source: Star Tribune (MN)
SOURCE: Star Tribune (MN) (10-10-11)
In the early 1960s, Minnesota Rep. John Blatnik lobbied for a new national holiday, Leif Erikson Day. The farthest he got was an annual presidential proclamation to commemorate the Norwegian explorer's accomplishments on Oct. 9, but Erikson's supporters might be getting the last laugh.
Columbus Day -- originally Oct. 12 but now the second Monday in October -- has become largely ignored....
But while Scandinavians take credit for undermining Columbus' celebrity status with their insistence that Erikson was the first European to reach North America, there's more to the holiday's falling profile.
Increasing numbers of people consider paying homage to Columbus an insult to the nation's indigenous populations....
Name of source: CBS News
SOURCE: CBS News (10-6-11)
MEXICO CITY - Archaeologists found a round Aztec ceremonial platform studded with stone carvings of serpent heads at Mexico City's Templo Mayor ruin, raising hopes in the search for an emperor's tomb, authorities said Thursday.
No Aztec ruler's tomb has ever been located and researchers have been on a five-year quest to find a royal tomb in the area of the Templo Mayor, a complex of two huge pyramids and numerous smaller structures that contained the ceremonial and spiritual heart of the pre-Hispanic Aztec empire.
Mexico's National Institute of History and Anthropology said the stone platform is about 15 yards (meters) in diameter and probably built around A.D. 1469. The site lies in downtown Mexico City, which was built by Spanish conquerors atop the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan.
"The historical records say that the rulers were cremated at the foot of the Templo Mayor, and it is believed to be on this same structure — the 'cuauhxicalco' — that the rulers were cremated," said archaeologist Raul Barrera....
Name of source: LiveScience
SOURCE: LiveScience (10-7-11)
A miniature airborne drone has helped archaeologists capture images for creating a 3-D model of an ancient burial mound in Russia, scientists say.
Archaeological sites are often in remote and rugged areas. As such, it can be hard to reach and map them with the limited budgets archaeologists typically have. Scientists are now using drones to extend their view into these hard-to-reach spots.
"There are a lot possibilities with this method," said researcher Marijn Hendrickx, a geographer at the University of Ghent in Belgium....
Name of source: The Australian
SOURCE: The Australian (10-5-11)
ORGANISERS of an auction of Adolf Hitler's reading glasses and other personal effects were on the verge of abandoning the sale last night after an outcry over profiting from Germany's Nazi past.
The Fuhrer's glasses were due to be put up for auction for a reserve price of €4800 ($A6700) at a Munich auction house this month, while bidding for a silver cigarette case monogrammed with the initials of the non-smoking dictator was set to begin at €10,000.
Stung by accusations that the sale was a "stain" on modern Germany, Hermann Historica, the auction house, issued a statement last night insisting that it never intended to cause offence and had not sought publicity for the items on sale.
But it refused to confirm who would receive the money, although some items, such as a fob watch starting at €10,000, were believed to originate from the estate of Rudolf Hess, Hitler's former deputy....
Name of source: Jacksonville (NC) News
SOURCE: Jacksonville (NC) News (10-4-11)
CARTERET COUNTY — A four-week fall expedition at the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck site is under way, and the first look at the wreck site since Hurricane Irene brought good news.
The hurricane swept the North Carolina coast in late August without causing major disruption to the shipwreck site, said QAR Project Director Mark Wilde-Ramsing.
A sand berm placed near the site several years ago seems to be helping protect the site from storm damage, including minimizing scour, where sand is washed away and exposes artifacts.
“Last week we did a check of the site. We were very concerned after Hurricane Irene, but the site seems to have weathered the storm pretty well,” Wilde-Ramsing said. “It was not scoured out and, also, it was not completely covered up (by sand).”...
Name of source: AFP
SOURCE: AFP (10-5-11)
A monument to former US President Woodrow Wilson was unveiled in central Prague on Wednesday, 70 years after the occupying Nazis tore down a nearby statue during World War II.
About five hundred people gathered outside Prague's main railway station -- once dubbed Wilson Station -- for the unveiling of the 3.5-metre (12-foot) statue commissioned by the American Friends of the Czech Republic society.
"Much of the damage that the Nazis caused can never be undone, but returning the monument of Woodrow Wilson to its proper place is a direct reply to Hitler," Prague-born former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright said at the unveiling.
Wilson, born in 1856, was US president from 1913 to 1921. He died in 1924.
He is celebrated in the Czech Republic and Slovakia for his role in the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia in 1918 as World War I brought down the Austro-Hungarian empire.
His landmark "Fourteen Points" speech to the US Congress in early 1918 backed freedom for peoples under the rule of that empire as well as imperial German and Russia....