Name of source: WaPo
Gregg Schwarz frowned as he positioned himself, just so, in front of the wrought iron fence surrounding John Edgar Hoover’s grave, a place he has visited countless times but never before in anger.
A retired FBI agent who joined the agency in 1972, the year Hoover died, Schwarz had hired a videographer to film him for YouTube expressing his displeasure with a movie that depicted Hoover as a repressed homosexual. In a dig at Clint Eastwood, the director of “J. Edgar,” Schwarz titled his video response, “Dirty Harry to Filthy Harry.”
“Mr. Hoover was portrayed as an individual who had homosexual tendencies and was a tyrannical monster,” Schwarz said into the camera, as the sun glinted off his FBI cuff links and FBI lapel pin. “That is simply not true.”
Many former FBI agents share Schwartz’s pique with the film’s dropped hints of an abiding love between Hoover and aide Clyde Tolson, who is buried a few grave sites away. Historians agree that there is no evidence that either man was gay, and a request for comment from either Eastwood or screenwriter Dustin Lance Black was declined....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 16:02
Name of source: Kerryman.ie
A CAUSEWAY man is facing a possible five-year jail term after he was prosecuted for demolishing an ancient ring fort on land belonging to his family.
In the first case of its kind to be heard in an Irish Court, John O'mahony with an address at Clashmealcon, Causeway appeared at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court last where he pleaded guilty to carrying out unauthorised work near a monument on his family's farmland in Causeway in 2008.
The court heard that the family of Mr O'mahony, a 64-year-old farmer, owned lands which contained a ring fort and a series of underground tunnels, or souterrains, which dated back to between 500 and 100AD.
The ring fort and souterrain system were deemed to be national monuments of historic importance and had been placed on a national register....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 13:05
Name of source: WSJ
ALBANY, N.Y. — They ranged in age from 20 to 45, stood between just over 5 feet 3 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, and most of them were male and intact, except for the one missing its skull.
Five years after human skeletons were uncovered on a historic island in the upper Hudson River by a husband-and-wife team of amateur archaeologists, New York state officials are revealing what professional archaeologists learned from the remains.
Evidence found in seven unmarked graves unearthed on Rogers Island in 2006 suggests the site was a military cemetery during the French and Indian War, according to archaeologists at the New York State Museum, which was contracted by the property's owner to examine the remains. The state Department of Education, which operates the museum, recently released the archaeologists' findings to The Associated Press.
Christina Rieth, the state's chief archaeologist, believes the site in the village of Fort Edward likely contains a large cemetery dating back to the 1750s, when Britain established its largest fortification in North America on the east bank of the upper Hudson, 45 miles north of Albany. Lisa Anderson, one of the state archaeologists who examined the remains, agreed....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 12:25
Lana Peters's life was a battle with history.
Ms. Peters was born Svetlana Alliluyeva Stalina and she was the only daughter of Joseph Stalin. Her life was spent in the shadow of the man who helped to forge Soviet communism, led the nation to victory in World War II, and was held responsible for killing more people than Hitler.
Much-married, restless, quarrelsome and elusive, she wrote best-selling memoirs, defected to the U.S., returned to the U.S.S.R., and finally settled in rural Wisconsin. She died there Nov. 22 of colon cancer, Richland County Coroner Mary Turner announced....
Monday, November 28, 2011 - 19:23
MOSCOW — The leader of Russia’s Communist Party defended his party’s use of Josef Stalin on election posters.
“Under Stalin, we lived 30 years without corruption. This is our history,” Gennady Zyuganov said in an interview on Friday.
As December parliamentary elections approach, billboards in Russia’s Far East displayed the Soviet hammer-and-sickle emblem and the slogan “time to change the power,” along with a portrait of of Stalin, the Soviet leader who ruled with terror from 1922 to his death in 1953....
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 19:57
Name of source: Today's Zaman
The Boğazköy Sphinx, one of two sphinxes that were taken to Germany for restoration during World War I, has finally returned home. After being away for 94 years and following many diplomatic struggles, both of the sphinxes, the first of which was returned by Germany some time between 1924 and 1937, are now on display at Boğazköy Museum. Ertuğrul Günay, the minister of culture and tourism, has said he places great importance on the return of the sphinx to its homeland, saying, “This is a historic day for archeology in Turkey.”
Turkey, being a very rich country archeologically, is among the leading countries that have been spending the most on archeology in recent years, and continues to make efforts toward the return of artifacts belonging to civilizations that lived in what is today’s Turkey. Nearly 1,900 artifacts have been returned to Turkey this year and over 3,000 relics have been returned since 2007, more than 1,000 of which were coins....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 12:24
Name of source: LiveScience
Artificial-intelligence networks could help pinpoint new fossil sites across thousands of square miles of desert, scientists have found.
The new fossil-hunting computer program relies on the fact it can learn and incorporate a broad swath of information from its "experiences" to know what to look for when scanning for fossil sites. As such, the intelligent machine has a big advantage over traditional methods, in which fossil-hunters often could only make educated guesses as to where fossils might lie — for instance, walking down dried-up riverbeds to look for bones that erosion might have uncovered on the slopes.
"So much when it comes to discovery of fossils is based on luck and serendipity," paleoanthropologist Glenn Conroy at Washington University in St. Louis told LiveScience. A team he led in 1991 discovered the fossils of the first-known — and still the only known — pre-human ape ever found south of the equator, in a limestone cave in Namibia....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 12:21
The Dead Sea Scrolls may have been written, at least in part, by a sectarian group called the Essenes, according to nearly 200 textiles discovered in caves at Qumran, in the West Bank, where the religious texts had been stored.
Scholars are divided about who authored the Dead Sea Scrolls and how the texts got to Qumran, and so the new finding could help clear up this long-standing mystery.
The research reveals that all the textiles were made of linen, rather than wool, which was the preferred textile used in ancient Israel. Also they lack decoration, some actually being bleached white, even though fabrics from the period often have vivid colours. Altogether, researchers say these finds suggest that the Essenes, an ancient Jewish sect, "penned" some of the scrolls....
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 19:47
Name of source: Discovery News
American politics has long been rocked with scandal, but none are more potent than the presidential sex scandal.
Since the dawn of the United States, there have been rumors and conjecture about everyone from President Thomas Jefferson to presidential candidates like Herman Cain or John Edwards. The campaign for the office of the president is a difficult road, even more so with media scrutiny, but when the public discover a sexual mishap, those involved feel the fallout.
Presidential candidates' sexual indiscretions, once known, are widely publicized, and often politicized, but how many have there been? Suffice it to say a lot. Here are five presidential, or presidential candidate, sex scandals that we at Discovery News find most interesting.
#5 Presidential Candidate Wilbur Mills
Representative Wilbur Mills (D-Ark.) was a powerful Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee for 18 years (1957-1975). His position made him very a powerful figure in the U.S. House of Representatives, which made him well known in the District of Columbia.
In 1974, a car was pulled over by U.S. Park Police driving without headlights on at 2 AM. When the police came to the vehicle they discovered Mills severely intoxicated and transporting Annabelle Battistella, a stripper from Argentina whose stage name was Fanne Foxe. As police approached, Battistella lept from the car and into the Tidal Basin to escape. Mills stepped down from his post a year later to treat his admitted alcoholism....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 12:20
Autumn festivals, including American Thanksgiving, East Asian Mid-Autumn Festival and Jewish Sukkot, celebrate family and the Earth's bounty in similar ways despite cultural differences.
Of those three, Thanksgiving is the newcomer.
The Pilgrims celebrated a harvest festival with the Native Americans in 1621. And their ancient Anglo-Saxon ancestors also celebrated autumn harvest festivals.
"Our word 'harvest' is a direct reflex of the Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, word 'hærfest,' which ... only meant 'autumn.' By extension, the word came to refer to the fruits of the field, brought home for processing," John Niles, emeritus professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison told Discovery News.
But Thanksgiving wasn't an official annual event until 1863 when president Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, "...set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."...
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 19:54
Astronomer Edwin Hubble's landmark paper on the rate of expansion of the universe was published in 1929, overturning the long-held belief among scientists that the universe was static and unchanging.
That's why the Hubble Constant (the number that describes the rate of expansion) is named after him, not to mention the Hubble Space Telescope.
Less well known is that Hubble might not have been the first the person to make this momentous discovery.
A Belgian priest and cosmologist named Georges Lemaitre published a paper reaching very similar conclusions two years earlier. It's a contentious issue among cosmologists, needless to say.
The problem was, Lemaitre's paper was in French, and appeared in a rather obscure journal: Annals of the Brussels Scientific Society. This limited its distribution throughout the scientific community (at least initially).
Yet even when his paper was finally translated and broadly disseminated, certain key elements went missing, sparking rumors that prominent scientists -- Sir Arthur Eddington, perhaps, or even Hubble himself -- had deliberately "censored" Lemaitre's paper to ensure Hubble's scientific legacy....
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 19:52
A series of crude graffiti drawn on the walls of a London flat are the "Lascaux of Punk," according to a controversial claim made by two British archaeologists who compared the rude markings to Paleolithic cave art.
Found behind cupboards in the upper room of a two-storey 19th-century house at 6 Denmark Street in London, the intact graffiti was drawn by the Sex Pistols' John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten). The Sex Pistols ushered in an era of punk in the United Kingdom in the 1970s.
According to John Schofield, of the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, and independent researcher Dr Paul Graves-Brown, the Pistols "cave art" is worthy of being reviewed in the same way archaeologists examine prehistoric art. While Lydon drew the pictures, other members of the band wrote some text on the walls....
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 19:50
Name of source: Egypt Independent
One of Egypt’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Wael Shawky, makes work of a grand and complicated scale. His recent half-hour long film “Cabaret Crusade: The Horror File” is the first installment in what he plans will be a four-part video narrative of the Crusades, starring marionettes.
It was recently exhibited at the 12th Istanbul Biennale alongside large-scale, glossy photographs of the marionettes that raise them to the status of movie stars, and drawn and sculptural elements built out of the film’s visual language. Shawky has said that in his work he seeks to create a “hybridized society,” and he often presents familiar historical events, with altered rules and jarring pairings, employing child actors – or in this case puppets – to generate questions about contemporary social and cultural issues through contrasts.
The artist has of late been showered with grants and awards, most notably the Abraaj Capital Art Prize, a Dubai-based prize through which artists receive funding for proposed projects to be exhibited at Art Dubai in March. Shawky was not at liberty to discuss from Marseille his plans for the Abraaj Capital exhibition. Yet, he spoke to us his current projects, including the next installment of “Cabaret Crusade.”...
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 12:05
Name of source: Spiegel Online
Preparations have already been made for Ernst Uhrlau's retirement party next Wednesday when he steps down from his post as the head of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany's foreign intelligence agency, on his 65th birthday. The office of the chancellor has selected a posh location in Berlin for his farewell party and Angela Merkel herself is expected to attend. Uhrlau, a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), will be turning over his post to Gerhard Schindler, a member of the business-friendly Free Democratic Party.
At events like this, the successes of the person retiring are usually celebrated. In Uhrlau's case, topping the list are his efforts to review the problematic history of the BND's creation after World War II. It has long been known that around 10 percent of the employees at the BND and its predecessor organization once served under SS chief Heinrich Himmler in Nazi Germany. In 2011, Uhrlau appointed an independent commission of historians to research the agency's Nazi roots.
Now, only one week before Uhrlau's retirement, the commission has uncovered what is a true historical scandal. The researchers have found that the BND destroyed the personnel files of around 250 BND officials in 2007. The agency has confirmed that this happened.
The commission claims that the destroyed documents include papers on people who were "in significant intelligence positions in the SS, the SD (the intelligence agency of the SS and the Nazi Party) or the Gestapo." They added that some of the individuals had even been investigated after 1945 for possible war crimes. Historian Klaus-Dietmar Henke, spokesman for the commission, told SPIEGEL ONLINE he was "somewhat stunned" by the occurrence....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 12:04
The wreath is still quite fresh. It was laid on the war memorial on Nov. 13, Germany's day of national mourning for the victims of war, to commemorate the fallen of World War II, whose names are engraved on stone slabs. According to the community's official history, the war took "a very high toll in blood" in the municipality.
But it is not the slabs with the names of the fallen soldiers that are attracting visitors' attention at this war memorial in Tümlauer-Koog, located on the Eiderstedt peninsula near the Danish border in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein. Instead, it is a massive bell that dominates the memorial -- and it is dedicated to Nazi leader Hermann Göring, Adolf Hitler's second-in-command.
The small settlement of Tümlauer-Koog is built on land reclaimed from the sea ("Koog" is a northern German word for polder) during the Nazi period, under the influence of Hitler's "blood and soil" ideology, which glorified rural living and promoted the idea of Lebensraum ("living space"). Up until 1945, the community was known as Hermann-Göring-Koog. Göring himself traveled to the newly reclaimed polder in 1935 to inaugurate it.
The Göring bell has been part of the war memorial since 2008, where it stands next to a misleading explanatory plaque. For three years, nobody took offense to the monument, probably because there are few visitors to the memorial and even fewer take the trouble to read the inscription on the plaque. That changed a few days ago, when a holidaymaker wrote to Peter Harry Carstensen, the governor of Schleswig-Holstein, to inform him about the bell. Carstensen responded by writing to the local mayor demanding that the bell be removed and the inscription changed....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 11:57
Name of source: BBC News
Investigators have found that in 2007 the German Intelligence Service (BND) destroyed files of 250 BND employees who had been in the Nazi SS or Gestapo.
The BND confirmed the loss, calling it "regrettable and annoying".
Four independent historians are investigating the BND's old links with the Nazis. They say some of the missing papers concern suspected war criminals.
The historians did not allege a deliberate cover-up, but they urged the BND not to destroy any more files.
They said the BND should consult them before shredding any more documents, and called for a full investigation into the 2007 incident....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 12:03
Like thousands of women, Steven Sinclair's mother took Thalidomide to ease morning sickness.
"She was suffering very badly with morning sickness," he said.
"They called the family doctor and he gave her three pills out of his bag. They didn't make much difference and she didn't bother asking for more.
"Three pills, and she's lived with the guilt all these years."
This weekend marks 50 years since Thalidomide was withdrawn from sale, 12 days after two doctors voiced suspicions that the drug was to blame for a spate of deformities....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 11:58
Name of source: StAugustine.com
MIAMI — A congresswoman from Florida is pressuring National Public Radio stations, the cable television network CNBC and others to stop airing sponsorships and advertising by a giant German insurer that collaborated with the Nazis.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is pushing legislation that would allow Holocaust survivors to sue Allianz AG, has launched a letter-writing campaign aimed at blocking the insurer from advertising with any U.S. media until it pays off all Holocaust survivors’ life insurance claims. During World War II, Allianz insured concentration camp facilities and sent money to the Nazis instead of rightful Jewish beneficiaries.
“Allianz is no ordinary insurance conglomerate,” Ros-Lehtinen recently wrote to the media companies. “This company was involved in one of the greatest atrocities in recent history and has gone to great lengths to dodge acceptance of responsibility for its actions....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 12:00
Name of source: CNN.com
(CNN) -- Alison Shein considers herself an amateur genealogist, spending hours online searching for information about family members she never knew.
Among them: Alison's great-great-grandmother Bella Shein, who died in the Holocaust. The circumstances surrounding her death are still murky.
"They were living in this town called Volkovysk, which is currently in Belarus, and when the Germans were coming, some of her children and her grandchildren said, 'OK, we're going to leave. We're going to go with the Russian army.' And she said, 'I'm too old. I'm going to stay behind.' And that was the last they saw of her."...
Shein is one of more than 2,100 volunteers around the world who have signed on to the World Memory Project, a joint effort by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Ancestry.com, a family research website, to create the world's largest online searchable database of records related to victims of the Holocaust....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 11:59
Los Angeles (CNN) -- Sirhan Sirhan, convicted of the 1968 assassination of presidential candidate Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, should be freed from prison or granted a new trial based on "formidable evidence" asserting his innocence and "horrendous violations" of his rights, defense attorneys said in federal court papers filed this week.
In a U.S. District Court brief, Sirhan's lawyers also say that an expert analysis of recently uncovered evidence shows two guns were fired in the assassination and that Sirhan's revolver was not the gun that shot Kennedy.
Attorneys William F. Pepper and Laurie D. Dusek also allege that fraud was committed in Sirhan's 1969 trial when the court allowed a substitute bullet to be admitted as evidence for a real bullet removed from Kennedy's neck.
The attorneys further assert that Sirhan was hypno-programmed to be a diversion for the real assassin and allege that Sirhan would be easily blamed for the assassination because he is an Arab. Sirhan, 67, is a Christian Palestinian born in Jerusalem whose parents brought him and his siblings to America in the 1950s....
Sunday, November 27, 2011 - 15:51
Name of source: Yahoo News
Archeologists have discovered two new pits at the mysterious Stonehenge site that shed potential light on its ritual use. The pits are aligned in a celestial pattern, suggesting that they could have been used for sunrise and sunset rituals; the pits pre-date the construction of the famous rock formations more than 5,000 years ago....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 11:56
Name of source: Fox News
Serving a life sentence for his role in the Oklahoma City Bombing, Terry Nichols has a lot of time to think and write about the decisions he made.
"It was just so wrong as to what happened," Nichols wrote in April 2010. "There was actually no justification for it. And my heart breaks and grieves daily knowing that I had a part in such a devastating tragedy."
Nichols, 56, is locked up in a small prison cell in Florence, Colo. He has no chance of parole. Several of his letters, published Monday in The Oklahoman newspaper, were written to Jannie Coverdale, who lost two young grandsons in the bombing....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 11:55
Name of source: Penn State Press
The state of North Carolina unveiled a commemorative license plate for the Civil War yesterday, promoting the official themes of the state's sesquicentennial observance: Freedom, Sacrifice, and Memory. While some state legislatures established official commissions to guide their commemorative programs, North Carolina's did not. Instead, the state's Office of Archives and History in the Department of Cultural Resources formed a Civil War 150 committee to devise programs to mark the sesquicentennial. The office ought to be commended for consciously choosing themes that cover a wide range of subjects and engage a variety of perspectives on the war, from men and women to secessionists and unionists, soldiers and non-combatants, and slaves and freedpeople, among others....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 11:53
Name of source: AFP
JAMESTOWN, Virginia — Archeologist William Kelso is certain he's discovered the remains of the oldest Protestant church in the United States, standing between two holes he insists once held wooden posts.
In 1614, Pocahontas was "married right here, I guarantee," Kelso told AFP at the Jamestown, Virginia archeological site southeast of the nation's capital.
Near the James River, on May 14, 1607, a group of about a hundred men landed on commission from England to form the first colony in the Americas.
"It's fantastically exciting and significant because Jamestown is usually depicted -- the whole early settlement depicted -- as it was carried out by lazy gentlemen who wanted to get rich quick, and go right back to England."
The area was carefully excavated to reveal several large post holes 6.5 feet (two meters) deep and the trace remnants of four graves....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 11:51
Name of source: Richmond Times-Dispatch
Because of incomplete records or categorization errors, those searching for black or Native American ancestors may hit a wall.
Slave records often were incomplete, and American Indians often were described as negro or black.
The Virginia Historical Society recently launched Unknown No Longer, a database of Virginia slave names. The database builds on work of the Historical Society's "Guide to African American Manuscripts," said Lauranett Lee, curator of African American history at the Virginia Historical Society....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 11:49
Name of source: NYT
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — To step into the Tin & Lint bar here is to be surrounded by stories. Carved into the wooden walls, booths and benches are 30 years of names, dates and declared loves: Mike was here; Don loves Joanna 4EVER; Amy and Jennifer, 1989.
But the biggest story, nearly as much a part of this upstate city’s lore as its racetrack and mineral waters, is revealed on a small, worn plaque above the third booth from the door: “American Pie written by Don McLean, Summer 1970.”
With its low tin ceilings and stained-glass lamps, the bar seems like the type of place where Mr. McLean would have written his generational anthem of rock’s lost innocence.
Or, maybe not.
Mr. McLean put the legend to rest last weekend in an article in The Post-Star of Glens Falls, N.Y. He also debunked a parallel tale that claimed he first performed the song at Caffè Lena around the corner from the Tin & Lint....
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 11:00
Hidden in the coral terraces that line the eastern shores of East Timor are troves of artifacts and skeletal remains that tell a story of coastal activity going back tens of thousands of years — to the time when humans first settled nearby Australia.
Recently, in a terrace cave called Jerimalai, a team of archaeologists discovered pieces of what are now the oldest known fishhooks in the world — dating from 16,000 to 23,000 years ago and made of shell. While these old samples are too incomplete to reveal exactly how they were used, the team also found fishhooks that are more intact from 11,000 years ago. These newer ones are classic baited jabbing fishhooks: They were most likely tied to a line, loaded with bait and thrown into the water.
The archaeologists, whose findings appear in Science, also uncovered 42,000-year-old fish remains, including bones from tuna, which live only in deep water....
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 10:02
SACKETS HARBOR, N.Y. — Clayton F. Nans, a 57-year-old retired Marine colonel, halted his Chevrolet pickup truck near Lake Ontario recently and pointed to a grassy embankment. It was the very spot, he said, where British troops first made landfall in this upstate village, before American soldiers fought off their invasion.
That engagement was two centuries ago, in the Second Battle of Sackets Harbor, a key New York moment in the War of 1812, whose bicentennial is fast approaching. And Mr. Nans, who periodically dons the blue woolen coat of an early 19th-century Marine as a War of 1812 re-enactor, is upset that New York State is not doing anything to commemorate it....
Around North America, local and national governments are preparing to mark the anniversary. The Canadian government has earmarked $28 million to support as many as 100 battle re-enactments and commemorative events, as well as a new monument in the Ottawa area and the restoration of historic sites, and even an iPhone app that teaches about the war. American states from Michigan to Virginia have been planning for the milestone for years, setting up fireworks displays and war-themed license plates and educational programs.
But for three years in a row, governors of New York have vetoed legislation to set up a statewide bicentennial commission to plan events for the anniversary of the war, which has long been overshadowed by the more celebrated Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Gov. David A. Paterson, who vetoed the measure in 2009 and 2010, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who vetoed it in September, said New York’s tight finances meant the state could not afford to mount its own effort....
Saturday, November 26, 2011 - 20:00
Name of source: AP
SALT LAKE CITY — Museum-goers are taking in the sounds, smell and feel of ancient life and landscapes at a new $100 million building in Salt Lake City.
The Natural History Museum of Utah engages the senses, allowing visitors to mingle inside exhibits, touch artifacts, get a whiff of desert plants or rotting flesh and hear the soft warbling of birds.
People are even walking on top of exhibits, with glass-panel floors covering fossil dig sites. Over the years, they’ll also be able to watch paleontologists separate fossils from rock in a glass-walled working laboratory.
The museum, which opened Nov. 18, is located in the Rio Tinto Center on the University of Utah campus. The center’s copper and stone exterior is designed to blend into the high foothills of the Wasatch Range, and it’s named for the mining company that donated the copper — 100,000 pounds of it — for the outside panels. The center was also designed to meet specifications for top ratings from the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building systems, with features like a planted roof and parking tiers that percolate rainwater. Rooftop solar panels will satisfy a quarter of the building’s energy demands....
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 19:49
OYSTER BAY, N.Y. (AP) — Theodore Roosevelt had a lot of stuff.
There's the massive head of a 2,000-pound African cape buffalo hanging over a fireplace near the front entrance of his home, Sagamore Hill, on the north shore of Long Island. Next to a large desk in the North Room sits a wastepaper basket made from the hollowed foot of an elephant. Nearby, there's an inkwell crafted from part of a rhino. More than four dozen rugs made from bearskins and other creatures taken down by the noted big game hunter adorn nearly every room.
There are 8,000 books, and thousands of items from flags to furniture, busts to baubles and medals to mementoes.
Everything must go.
The entire contents of Sagamore Hill are being packed up and put in storage as the National Park Service prepares for a three-year, $6.2 million renovation of the 28-room, Queen Anne-Shingle style mansion in Oyster Bay. The 26th president of the United States, who had the home built for him in 1885, lived there until his death in 1919. He used Sagamore Hill as a "summer White House" during his presidency from 1901-1909....
Sunday, November 27, 2011 - 15:52
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's archaeology institute downplays theories that the ancient Mayas predicted some sort of apocalypse would occur in 2012, but on Thursday it acknowledged that a second reference to the date exists on a carved fragment found at a southern Mexico ruin site.
Most experts had cited only one surviving reference to the date in Mayan glyphs, a stone tablet from the Tortuguero site in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco.
But the National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a statement that there is in fact another apparent reference to the date at the nearby Comalcalco ruin. The inscription is on the carved or molded face of a brick. Comalcalco is unusual among Mayan temples in that it was constructed of bricks....
Saturday, November 26, 2011 - 19:58
Name of source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., went out needling in announcing his retirement on Monday, taking delight in digs at Republican presidential candidate ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
“I will be neither a lobbyist nor a historian,” Frank, former chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told reporters.
It was a dig at Gingrich, who took $1.8 million from Freddie Mac — the troubled federal mortgage giant — for what Gingrich described as his services “as a historian.”
Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae have served as favorite Republican targets. During one debate — before his gig as a “historian” came to light — Gingrich said that Frank should go to jail because of his ties to Freddie Mac....
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 19:46
Name of source: LA Times
Director D.W. Griffith once said of French filmmaker Georges Méliès, "I owe him everything." Charlie Chaplin described him as "the alchemist of light."
Méliès built the first movie studio in Europe and was the first filmmaker to use production sketches and storyboards. Film historians consider him the "father of special effects" — he created the first double exposure on screen, the split screen and the dissolve. Not to mention that he was one of the first filmmakers to have nudity in his films — he was French, after all.
And thanks to Martin Scorsese's critically acclaimed 3-D family film, "Hugo," contemporary audiences are being lovingly introduced to the silent film pioneer. "Hugo" is a fanciful tale about a young boy, Hugo (Asa Butterworth), who lives in the Paris train station in the early 1930s and discovers that the curmudgeonly old man (Ben Kingsley) operating a toy shop in the station is Georges Méliès....
When cinema was in its infancy, Méliès made about 500 films filled with wonder, humor and outrageous effects. A trained magician who captivated audiences with his illusions at the Theatre Robert Houdin, he happened to be in the audience on Dec. 28, 1895, when the Lumière brothers premiered their Cinematographie to the public....
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 15:37
Name of source: PBS NewsHour
It's hard to imagine an American president in this intensely security-conscious age leaving the White House in the middle of the night to meet protesters on their turf.
It happened in May 1970. President Richard Nixon was under intense criticism for widening the Vietnam War to Cambodia. Four Kent State University students had been killed by National Guardsmen just days before. Thousands of young protesters quickly mobilized and headed to Washington, D.C.
Around 4:00 a.m. on May 9, Mr. Nixon abruptly decided to surprise a group gathered at the Lincoln Memorial. The Nixon Presidential Library and Museum has released a series of recordings, including dictation from President Nixon to his chief staff, H.R. Haldeman, describing his version of that night's events....
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 15:34
Name of source: Reuters
(Reuters) - Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi stole ancient Roman artefacts when they fled Tripoli, bundled them into sacks and planned to sell them abroad, Libya's new rulers said on Saturday as they displayed the haul for the first time since its recovery.
The artefacts -- a collection of 17 stone heads, most the size of tennis balls, and terracotta fragments dating from the second or third centuries A.D. -- were recovered on August 23 when anti-Gaddafi fighters intercepted a convoy of loyalists heading south from Tripoli.
"All of them (the artefacts) date back to Roman times but with very strong local influence," said Saleh Algabe, director of the Antiquities Department in the new Libyan government....
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 15:29
Name of source: CBS News
(AP) BOSTON — Step into the sanctuary of the African Meeting House and you will walk on the same ancient floorboards where Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison and other prominent abolitionists railed against slavery in the 19th century, and where free black men gathered to shape the famed 54th Massachusetts Civil War regiment.
Following a painstaking, $9 million restoration, the nation's oldest black church building is set to reopen to the public early next month. Beverly Morgan-Welch, who has spent more than a decade spearheading the project, calls the three-story brick building the nation's most important African American historic landmark.
"This space has the echo of so many of the greats of their time ... who were trying to figure out a way to end slavery," said Morgan-Welch, executive director of the Museum of African American History....
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 15:28
Name of source: Nature
The beautifully preserved leather trappings of an ancient Egyptian chariot have been rediscovered in a storeroom of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Researchers say that the find, which includes intact harnesses, gauntlets and a bow case, is unique, and will help them to reconstruct how such chariots were made and used.
The ancient Egyptians used chariots — typically with one or two riders and pulled by two horses — for hunting and warfare as well as in processions. They are frequently shown in ancient Egyptian art, and several examples of the wooden frames survive, including six dismantled chariots found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb, dating to around 3,300 years ago.
But researchers knew little about the leather trappings and harnesses used with such chariots, as leather decomposes quickly if any moisture is present. Barely any leather survives on the chariots from Tutankhamun’s tomb, though some fragments are known from chariots found in other tombs, such as that of Yuya and Thuya, Tutankhamun’s great-grandparents....
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 15:27
Name of source: National Geographic
Long before the dinosaurs, a bleak environment of widespread fires and oxygen-poor coastal seawater killed off some 90 percent of all Earth's living species. The whole process took less than 200,000 years, according to a new study of the planet's most catastrophic mass-extinction event.
The end-Permian extinction probably isn't as well known as the Cretaceous extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago. But the end-Permian collapse nearly spelled the end of life on Earth.
Now scientists have painted a picture of just how fast the "Great Dying" unfolded 252 million years ago (prehistoric time line).
While the causes of the Permian extinction remain a mystery, from here on out, any theory must be compatible with a 200,000-year time frame centered around 252.28 million years ago, the authors assert. This time span is span indicated by analysis of fossils and chemical evidence of changes in Earth's carbon cycle in rocks from southern China to Tibet....
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 15:26
The nobility of Renaissance Venice may have been among the first to hear music in stereo, according to new acoustics research. Architectural innovations in churches may have been intended to clearly separate the sounds from a split choir, audio engineers announced this week.
The researchers used computer models to simulate what concerts in some of the city's churches—including tourist staples such as the Basilica of San Marco—sounded like 400 years ago.
"First, we modeled the acoustics for the churches as they are now," explained Braxton Boren, a student in music technology at New York University.
"Once we were sure that the models were functioning correctly, we consulted with architectural historians and professional acousticians to tweak the models" to simulate how the churches might have sounded during the Renaissance, said Boren, who presented the findings this week at an Acoustical Society of America meeting in San Diego, California....
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 19:56
Name of source: Hudson Heritage
Doodles on the wall of a London flat where the Sex Pistols used to live has been unearthed by historians. The graffiti, drawn by frontman John Lydon, was discovered in the upper room of a two-storey 19th century property at 6 Denmark Street, which was known as Tin Pan Alley in the 60s, and consists of eight cartoons depicting members of the band and their manager, the late Malcolm McLaren (pictured).
The building is now used as offices, and while historians have know of its previous residents, the drawings were only unearthed following a chance remark on a BBC 6 Music programme, which led to the discovery by Dr John Schofield, from the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, and Paul Graves-Brown, an archaeologist specialising in the contemporary past.
In the spirit of the punk frontrunners, Dr Schofield has courted his own controversy by claiming that the markings discovered on the walls of the flat the group rented in the mid-1970s lend themselves to archaeological investigation as much as drawings made by early humans in the caves of Lascaux in southern France....
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 15:22
Name of source: AtlanticWire
Forty-one years after he was convicted for the murder of Robert Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan's lawyers have filed a new appeal claiming that he's the victim of a setup and that he didn't fire the shots that killed the Senator. The filing includes a new report that claims to show through "sophisticated" audio tests that there were 13 shots (more than could be held in Sirhan's pistol) fired from multiple guns that night, as well as a further claim that one of the bullets taken from Kennedy's body was switched out before the trial, because it did not match his gun....
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 - 09:48
Name of source: ScienceNow
In a shallow cave on an island north of Australia, researchers have made a surprising discovery: the 42,000-year-old bones of tuna and sharks that were clearly brought there by human hands. The find, reported online today in Science, provides the strongest evidence yet that people were deep-sea fishing so long ago. And those maritime skills may have allowed the inhabitants of this region to colonize lands far and wide.
The earliest known boats, found in France and the Netherlands, are only 10,000 years old, but archaeologists know they don't tell the whole story. Wood and other common boat-building materials don't preserve well in the archaeological record. And the colonization of Australia and the nearby islands of Southeast Asia, which began at least 45,000 years ago, required sea crossings of at least 30 kilometers. Yet whether these early migrants put out to sea deliberately in boats or simply drifted with the tides in rafts meant for near-shore exploration has been a matter of fierce debate.
Indeed, direct evidence for early seafaring skills has been lacking. Although modern humans were exploiting near-shore resources, such as mussels and abalone, by 165,000 years ago, only a few controversial sites suggest that our early ancestors fished deep waters by 45,000 years ago. (The earliest sure sites are only about 12,000 years old.) Among the skeptics was Susan O'Connor, an archaeologist at the Australian National University in Canberra. "The evidence was pretty slim," she says....
Saturday, November 26, 2011 - 14:16
Name of source: Dunya News
Suspects accused of collaborating with Pakistani forces in Bangladesh's war of independence are now on trial, but claims of appalling crimes are also tarnishing the "heroes" of that bloody struggle.
Migrant families who moved to what was then East Pakistan after the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947 say they were targeted as outsiders during the 1971 fight to become the independent nation of Bangladesh.
Thrown out of their homes and often murdered during the country s bloody birth, they believe their suffering at the hands of native Bengalis has been forgotten as Bangladesh focuses instead on alleged collaborators with Pakistan.
The day after Bangladesh declared independence from Pakistan on December 16, 1971, Sairun Nesa survived a massacre in which 15 of her family -- including her husband, son and daughter -- were killed by "freedom fighters"...
Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 15:32
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
A drought in Germany has brought water levels in the Rhine to dangerous lows, exposing ships to unexploded Second World War munitions.
Bomb disposal experts have already had to blow up an incendiary bomb near Cologne and have yet to decide how to deal with a larger bomb spotted lying in 16 inches of water near Koblenz.
River traffic was also disrupted earlier this week after a hand grenade was spotted on the banks of the Rhine near Bonn, and authorities along the course of the river have asked people to report any suspicious objects.
During the Second World War the Rhine saw intensive fighting as German troops used it as a barrier to stem the eastern advance of Allied forces....
Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 15:31
In 1911 she furiously penned a strongly worded letter against the testing of a Britain's first successful sea plane, called 'Waterbird', over and on her treasured Lake Windermere, in the Lake District, blasting: "Those who want noise go to Blackpool."
Despite her loud opposition the tests went ahead on 25th November 1911 after Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, ignored her pleas and pressed on with Edward Wakefield's unique aircraft.
But plans to celebrate the centenary of that maiden flight and landing this Friday using a different sea plane were sunk when air enthusiasts lost a council application to temporarily lift Windermere's 10mph speed limit - which was introduced in 2005 and inspired by Potter's years of conservation campaigning....
Wednesday, November 23, 2011 - 13:30
Name of source: National Parks Traveler
The National Park Service has recognized the historic significance of gay rights activist Dr. Franklin E. Kameny by listing his home in the National Register of Historic Places.
“Dr. Kameny led a newly militant activism in the fledgling gay civil rights of the 1960s,” said NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “He was a landmark figure in articulating and achieving gay civil rights in federal employment and security clearance cases, and in reversing the medical community’s view on homosexuality as a mental disorder.” Dr. Kameny’s efforts in the civil rights movement, modeled in part on African American civil rights strategies and tactics, significantly altered the rights, perceptions, and role of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people in American society, a Park Service release said.
Franklin Kameny (1925-2011) was a Harvard trained astronomer and World War II veteran. In 1957, Dr. Kameny was fired from his job with the Army Map Service for refusing to answer questions about his sexual orientation. Based upon an Executive Order issued by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, thousands of men and women lost their federal civil service jobs solely due to their sexual orientation, based upon a belief that homosexuality posed a security risk. Dr. Kameny waged a four-year legal fight against the idea that sexual orientation could make one unfit for federal service....
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 20:00
Name of source: BBC
A healed fracture discovered on an ancient skull from China may be the oldest documented evidence of violence between humans, a study has shown.
The individual, who lived 150,000-200,000 years ago, suffered blunt force trauma to the right temple - possibly from being hit with a projectile.
But the ancient hunter-gatherer - whose sex is unclear - survived to tell the tale: the injury was completely healed by the time of the person's death.
Details are published in PNAS journal.
"There are older cases of bumps and bruises - and cases of trauma," said co-author Erik Trinkaus from Washington University in St Louis, US....
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 19:47
A Warwickshire man has described the moment builders found human bones under his patio.
Stephen and Nicky West were having their home redeveloped when one of the builders unearthed the remains.
Mr West said: "There was a tap on the door and the builder said 'Stephen, I think there's something you need to see'.
"He had a skull in his hand and I thought 'oh my goodness'."...
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 19:45
Name of source: Science Magazine
When humans turned from hunting and gathering to farming some 10,000 years ago, they set our species on the road to civilization. Agricultural surpluses led to division of labor, the rise of cities, and technological innovation. But civilization has had both its blessings and its curses. One downside of farming, a new study demonstrates, was a shortening of the human jaw that has left precious little room for our teeth and sends many of us to an orthodontist's chair.
Although all living humans belong to one species, Homo sapiens, there are recognizable differences in the shapes of our skulls and faces across the world. In recent years, anthropologists have concluded that most of this geographic variation in skull shape is due to chance, so-called genetic drift, rather than natural selection. But some features of our faces, including the shape of our lower jaws, don't seem to follow this random pattern....
Tuesday, November 22, 2011 - 19:44
Name of source: Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star
There’s nothing like seeing hallowed ground in the company of a good historian.
But for those times when an in-person interpreter is unavailable, or time is short, a second-best alternative has just hit the Web: the latest “battle app” created by the Civil War Trust and its Colorado technology partner, Neotreks....
Monday, November 21, 2011 - 18:49