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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: BBC News
SOURCE: BBC News (1-22-12)
The remains of a 300-year-old warship are to be raised from the sea bed, according to reports.
The wreck of HMS Victory, a predecessor of Nelson's famous flagship, was found near the Channel Islands in 2008.
The British warship, which went down in a storm in 1744 killing more than 1,000 sailors, could contain gold coins worth an estimated £500m.
The Sunday Times says the Maritime Heritage Foundation is set to manage the wreck's raising.
It also reports that the charity will employ Odyssey Marine Exploration to carry out the recovery....
SOURCE: BBC News (1-24-12)
The first international drug treaty was signed a century ago this week. So what was the war on drugs like in 1912?
Today it is taken for granted that governments will co-operate in the fight against the heroin and cocaine trade.
But 100 years ago, narcotics passed from country to country with minimal interference from the authorities. That all changed with the 1912 International Opium Convention, which committed countries to stopping the trade in opium, morphine and cocaine.
Then, as now, the US stood in the vanguard against narcotics. While the UK's position is unequivocal today, a century ago it was an unenthusiastic signatory, says Mike Jay, author of Emperors of Dreams: Drugs in the Nineteenth Century.
The real concern a century ago was over alcohol, he argues. "There was a big debate over intoxication as there was concern about the heavy, heavy drinking culture of the 19th Century."...
SOURCE: BBC News (1-23-12)
It's exactly 40 years since a Japanese soldier was found in the jungles of Guam, having survived there for nearly three decades after the end of World War II. He was given a hero's welcome on his return to Japan - but never quite felt at home in modern society.
For most of the 28 years that Shoichi Yokoi, a lance corporal in the Japanese Army of world War II, was hiding in the jungles of Guam, he firmly believed his former comrades would one day return for him.
And even when he was eventually discovered by local hunters on the Pacific island, on 24 January 1972, the 57-year-old former soldier still clung to the notion that his life was in danger.
"He really panicked," says Omi Hatashin, Yokoi's nephew.
Startled by the sight of other humans after so many years on his own, Yokoi tried to grab one of the hunter's rifles, but weakened by years of poor diet, he was no match for the local men....
SOURCE: BBC News (1-23-12)
Anti-Jewish feeling is "significantly" entrenched in German society, according to a report by experts appointed by the Bundestag (parliament).
They say the internet has played a key role in spreading Holocaust denial, far-right and extreme Islamist views, according to the DPA news agency.
They also speak of "a wider acceptance in mainstream society of day-to-day anti-Jewish tirades and actions".
The expert group, set up in 2009, is to report regularly on anti-Semitism.
The findings of their report, due to be presented on Monday, were that anti-Jewish sentiment was "based on widespread prejudice, deeply-rooted cliches and also on plain ignorance of Jews and Judaism"....
SOURCE: BBC News (1-18-12)
A dark chapter of Swiss history is getting increased attention, with the release of a feature film about "Verdingkinder" or "contract children" and an exhibition about them which is touring the country.
A common feature of Swiss life until the mid-1950s, Verdingkinder were primarily children from poor families in the cities, forcibly removed from their parents by the authorities and sent to work on farms.
There, many of them were regularly beaten and even sexually abused. They had little education and consequently, as adults, little chance of making careers for themselves.
Many also found that the abuse experienced in their childhood made it difficult to establish relationships as adults - former Verdingkinder have high rates of divorce and many now live alone....
SOURCE: BBC News (1-19-12)
An Oxford academic has uncovered letters by Voltaire which reveal how much this icon of French writing profited financially and intellectually from a stay in England.
They include a signed acceptance from the 18th Century writer for a £200 grant from the Royal Family.
The writer abandoned the French spelling of his first name, Francois, styling himself "Francis".
Professor Nicholas Cronk says Voltaire was "hugely opportunistic".
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (1-24-12)
Tony Blair agreed to a secret deal to hand joint sovereignty of Gibraltar to Spain, according to explosive claims by a former Labour cabinet minister.
Peter Hain reveals in his memoirs that he struck the deal with the Spanish government in 2002 to end the UK's 300-year control of the vital strategic outpost.
He makes clear that he and Mr Blair were both prepared to ride roughshod over the objections of the people of Gibraltar in order to get their way, describing Mr Blair's attitude to the inhabitants as 'contemptuous'....
The former Europe Minister revealed Mr Blair sanctioned the deal because he wanted to win the backing of the Spanish government – then led by Jose Maria Aznar – to help Britain take on France and Germany in EU negotiations.
The agreement was only shelved when what he called 'hardliners' in the Spanish government – who wanted only full sovereignty – objected....
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (1-23-12)
Robert F Kennedy feared his children would be blinded by the mafia in an acid attack as revenge attack for investigating them, his widow has revealed.
Speaking out for the first time in 30 years, Ethel Kennedy said that her late husband was anxious they would be targeted as retaliation for his probe into mafia racketeering.
He saw a report about an American journalist who had been blinded in an acid attack by the mob and feared they would do the same to him.
The disclosure will add to conspiracy theories that the mafia may have been responsible for Kennedy’s death.
He was shot dead by Sirhan Sirhan in 1968 but speculation has raged that his crusade against the mob whilst serving as U.S. Attorney General may have be the root of his demise....
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (1-18-12)
A cast taken from the face of William Shakespeare is to go on display for the first time later this month.
The bard's death mask will be shown at the University of Edinburgh's Anatomy Museum from January 28, when it unveils a macabre collection of medical artefacts to the public.
Presently on loan from the William Ramsay Henderson Collection, the famous face will soon find a permanent home at the museum.
Visitors can also cast an eye over the death masks of Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott, world-famous physicist Sir Isaac Newton, and King George III....
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (1-19-12)
Adolf Hitler's secret 'Wolf Lair' set deep in the heart of a forest in north-eastern Poland is to be turned into a major tourist attraction.
Forestry workers are looking for an investor to help make the Nazi leader's ruined fortress more accessible to holidaymakers.
The camouflaged complex in the woodlands of what was once German East Prussia was one of Hitler's key military headquarters during World War II.
It is famed as the site of a dramatic assassination attempt on the dictator by Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg in 1944....
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (1-24-12)
BOSTON – President John F. Kennedy's library is releasing 45 hours of privately recorded meetings and phone calls, providing a window into the final months of his life.
The tapes include discussions of conflict in Vietnam, Soviet relations and the race to space, plans for the 1964 Democratic Convention and re-election strategy. There also are moments with his children.
On one recording, made days before Kennedy's assassination, he asks staffers to schedule a meeting in a week. He tells them he's booked for the weekend, with no time to meet with an Indonesian general then, either.
"I'm going to be up at the Cape on Friday, but I'll see him Tuesday," JFK tells staffers....
SOURCE: AP (1-19-12)
BALTIMORE -- Edgar Allan Poe fans waited long past a midnight dreary, but it appears annual visits to the writer's grave in Baltimore by a mysterious figure called the "Poe Toaster" shall occur nevermore.
Poe House and Museum Curator Jeff Jerome said early Thursday that die-hard fans waited hours past when the tribute bearer normally arrives. But the "Poe Toaster" was a no-show for a third year in a row, leaving another unanswered question in a mystery worthy of the writer's legacy. Poe fans had said they would hold one last vigil this year before calling an end to the tradition.
"It's over with," Jerome said wearily. "It will probably hit me later, but I'm too tired now to feel anything else."
It is thought that the tributes of an anonymous man wearing black clothes with a white scarf and a wide-brimmed hat, who leaves three roses and a half-empty bottle of cognac at Poe's original grave on the writer's birthday, date to at least the 1940s. Late Wednesday, a crowd gathered outside the gates of the burial ground surrounding Westminster Hall to watch for the mysterious visitor, yet only three impersonators appeared, Jerome said....
SOURCE: AP (1-17-12)
LONDON (AP) — British scientists have found scores of fossils the great evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin and his peers collected but that had been lost for more than 150 years.
Dr. Howard Falcon-Lang, a paleontologist at Royal Holloway, University of London, said Tuesday that he stumbled upon the glass slides containing the fossils in an old wooden cabinet that had been shoved in a "gloomy corner" of the massive, drafty British Geological Survey.
Using a flashlight to peer into the drawers and hold up a slide, Falcon-Lang saw one of the first specimens he had picked up was labeled 'C. Darwin Esq."
"It took me a while just to convince myself that it was Darwin's signature on the slide," the paleontologist said, adding he soon realized it was a "quite important and overlooked" specimen....
Name of source: York Press (UK)
SOURCE: York Press (UK) (1-23-12)
MEN with Viking surnames filled the meeting room of New Earswick Folk Hall and queued to help research into the ethnic origins of the British people.
Academics were collecting DNA from men with Viking names to see if they are directly descended from the Scandanavian traders and seaman who once ruled York and Yorkshire.
It was the first of four gatherings across northern England and followed a public appeal for people with Viking surnames to come forward.
The project will feature in a future BBC eight-part documentary series on the history of ordinary British people – the Great British Story – and BBC photographers were at the event....
Name of source: Spiegel Online (DE)
SOURCE: Spiegel Online (DE) (1-19-12)
Prior to World War II, the Ardeatine Caves were mined for the volcanic material known as tuff for use in cement production. But by March 24, 1944, production had long since ceased. On that day, torches inside the cave's corridors and hollows provided makeshift lighting. Outside, in the afternoon sun, trucks were hauling prisoners to the site -- a total of 335 men, the youngest of whom was only 15. They were all Italian.
The German occupiers wanted to avenge an attack that communist partisans had carried out a day earlier on a German police unit in Rome's Via Rasella. The victims of this retaliatory act were chosen at random. Most of them had been imprisoned in a Gestapo jail in the Italian capital or were being detained by the Wehrmacht, Germany's Nazi-era military. None of them had been involved in the attack....
[E]ven if it continues to be publicly commemorated to this day, neither German nor Italian officials had any interest in bringing its perpetrators to justice. Indeed, the only person to be punished for it was Herbert Kappler, the SS officer in charge of German police and security services in Rome during the war. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1948.
While researching why officials have been so reluctant to punish these crimes in the political archives of Germany's Foreign Ministry, Berlin-based historian Felix Bohr stumbled upon a spectacular set of documents, which he published earlier this week on an Internet portal for historians.
The documents entail an exchange of letters begun in 1959 between officials at the German Embassy in Rome and their counterparts at the Foreign Ministry in Bonn, Germany's capital at the time. With unprecedented clarity, the documents testify to how German diplomats and Italian officials cooperated in shielding the soldiers in Kappler's charge from criminal prosecution. As embassy adviser Kurt von Tannstein put it, the goal was a "putting (the affair) to rest, as desired by both the German and Italian side."...
SOURCE: Spiegel Online (DE) (1-20-12)
Germany somberly marked the 70th anniversary of the infamous Wannsee Conference on Friday, with the country's president saying the meeting that laid out plans for the Holocaust still caused "anger and shame."
At the same villa on the shore of Berlin's Wannsee lake where the original meeting took place, now a museum, President Christian Wulff told an audience that even though many years have passed, Germany should never be allowed to forget its responsibility for the genocide of some 6 million European Jews. "Therefore it is important and a national task to keep the memory alive," he said....
Name of source: NY Daily News
SOURCE: NY Daily News (1-10-12)
LABADIE, Mo. — It was bravery at the highest level: William Shemin defied German machine gun fire to sprint across a World War I battlefield and pull wounded comrades to safety. And he did so no fewer than three times.
Then, with the platoon’s senior soldiers wounded or killed, the 19-year-old American took over command of his unit and led it to safety, even after a bullet pierced his helmet and lodged behind an ear.
Yet Shemin never earned the nation’s highest military citation, the Medal of Honor — a result, many suspected, of the fact that he was Jewish at a time when discrimination ran rampant throughout the U.S. military....
Name of source: Washington Times
SOURCE: Washington Times (1-23-12)
Officials in the District are accustomed to asking Congress for full voting rights on behalf of the city’s 600,000 residents or for greater control of city finances - and getting no satisfaction.
So when members of Congress proposed the “nationalization” of the District of Columbia World War I Memorial — the only memorial on the Mall exclusively for D.C. veterans — city officials did not jump to support the plan.
“The District of Columbia Memorial is for the people of the District of Columbia and it will never be otherwise,” Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting member of Congress, said Monday....
Name of source: Think Progress
SOURCE: Think Progress (1-23-12)
In 2010, the conservatives who controlled the Texas Board of Education caused an uproar when they made radical changes to the history curriculum for the state’s 4.8 million public school students. The changes included referring to the country’s first black president as “Barack Hussein Obama,” and requiring students to “contrast” Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address with Abraham Lincoln’s philosophical views.
To whitewash one of the darkest practices in America history, conservatives proposed that textbooks refer to the slave trade as the “Atlantic triangular trade.”
Now Tennessee Tea Party members are taking their efforts a step further and trying to eliminate references to slavery in American history textbooks. Salon reports that Tea Partiers who fetishize America’s founders are “demanding” that students not be taught that many of them owned sla
At a press conference, two dozen activists presented their proposals — I’m sorry, their “demands” — for the new state legislative session. Among them are sweeping changes to school materials that they probably have not actually read. [...]
Fayette County attorney Hal Rounds, the group’s lead spokesman during the news conference, said the group wants to address “an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another.”...
Name of source: The Daily Caller
SOURCE: The Daily Caller (1-22-12)
CORAL SPRINGS, Fl. — The most exciting part of former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s rally Sunday was the soul band that opened for him.
Mixing anti-Democratic Party and anti-Obama diatribes with soul classics, “Michael the black man” (as he introduced himself) and his band provided entertainment and smooth tunes both before and after Santorum spoke.
During his act, Michael Warns (“Michael the black man’s” real name, according to an associate) urged support for the Republican Party while comparing Democrats to slave masters....
Name of source: The Blaze
SOURCE: The Blaze (1-23-12)
There have been many accusations made against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney from conservative opponents, liberals and the media, in regards to his record at Bain, record on abortion, and record on Romneycare.
But few have questioned the immigration record of his ancestors.
On The Chris Matthews Show Sunday, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell went there:
"And looking ahead to the next primary in Florida, 30 percent of the Hispanic community is Cuban-American. That’s a smaller proportion, and so the Hispanic community there is different. And they are less prone to be susceptible to Mitt Romney’s really hard line on immigration, more prone to the Newt Gingrich approach to immigration. The other interesting little fact is about the Mexican Romneys, those looking back at all of those records say that Mitt Romney should look back at the records because the Romneys that came back from Mexico to the United States, they crossed the border illegally."
NewsBusters Noel Sheppard first speculated that Mitchell's claim could have come from a Sunday NPR report on the Romney's Mexican relatives, however Sheppard notes that the story said nothing about any of his relatives coming to America illegally. NPR's John Burnett told James Crugnale of Mediaite that he did not come across any documents indicating that the Gaskell Romney family came to the United States illegally, noting that they were part of an exodus of 1,200 Mormons from Mexico.
Miles Park Romney was Mitt's great grandfather, who fled the United States and crossed into Mexico in 1885 to escape religious persecution. There he helped build the Mormon enclave of Colonia Juarez in Chihuahua-- while having four wives and 30 children....
Name of source: LiveScience
SOURCE: LiveScience (1-23-12)
A recently discovered mysterious "winged" structure in England, which in the Roman period may have been used as a temple, presents a puzzle for archaeologists, who say the building has no known parallels.
Built around 1,800 years ago, the structure was discovered in Norfolk, in eastern England, just to the south of the ancient town of Venta Icenorum. The structure has two wings radiating out from a rectangular room that in turn leads to a central room.
"Generally speaking, [during] the Roman Empire people built within a fixed repertoire of architectural forms," said William Bowden, a professor at the University of Nottingham, who reported the find in the most recent edition of the Journal of Roman Archaeology. The investigation was carried out in conjunction with the Norfolk Archaeological and Historical Research Group.
The winged shape of the building appears to be unique in the Roman Empire, with no other example known. "It's very unusual to find a building like this where you have no known parallels for it," Bowden told LiveScience. "What they were trying to achieve by using this design is really very difficult to say."...
The fermented cereal beverage enjoyed by Sumerians, so-called Sumerian beer, may have been alcohol-free, suggests a recent review of ancient Sumerian practices.
While ancient writings and vessel remnants show that Mesopotamia's inhabitants were fond of fermented cereal juice, how the brew was actually made is still a mystery.
To investigate the brewing technologies of Mesopotamia, the late Peter Damerow, a historian of science and cuneiform-writing scholar at the Max Planck Institute in Germany, reviewed archaeological finds of ancient beer production and consumption, as well as 4000-year-old cuneiform writings, which included Sumerian administrative documents and literary texts dealing with myths and legislation....
The hectic evacuation of the sinking cruise liner Costa Concordia has been compared with the likes of the disastrous Titanic disaster. In fact, Swiss survivors even told the newspaper La Tribune de Genève that Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On," the theme song to the 1997 film "Titanic," was playing in their dining room as the ship hit the rocks.
So how do the two shipwrecks match up? While the loss of life on the Titanic was much worse than on the Costa Concordia, even the Titanic's poorly planned evacuation may have been less chaotic than the one off the Tuscan coast. By the numbers, here's a side-by-side look at the two cruise ship disasters:
Date of wrecks: The Titanic went down on April 15, 1912. The Costa Concordia capsized on Jan.13, 2012....
In 1850s America, most people relied on privies and outhouses for their bathroom needs. But the Davis family of Natchez, Miss., had something few other Americans did: indoor hot-and-cold running water and an indoor toilet.
Now this marvel of 19th-century technology is getting a new home, moving from the Dunleith Historical Inn to another mansion nearby operated by the National Park Service. The new lodging will give the public a chance to see a pre-Civil War version of a luxurious lavatory, complete with shower/bath combo....
SOURCE: LiveScience (1-17-12)
On this day (Jan. 17) 100 years ago, British explorer Robert Falcon Scott and four weary companions reached their long-sought goal — the South Pole. It was a bittersweet day for the party, perhaps more bitter than sweet, and a milestone that would eventually prove to be their undoing.
Not only had their two-and-a-half month march across a glacier, over the Transantarctic Mountains, and through blinding snow taken a toll on the men, but only the day before, on Jan. 16, the team discovered that what Scott had long dreaded had come true....
SOURCE: LiveScience (1-17-12)
What will likely never be forgotten about the Italian cruise liner disaster is the quickness with which the captain of the Costa Concordia abandoned the sinking ship.
According to investigators, captain Francesco Schettino maneuvered the ship, which was carrying more than 4,200 passengers and crew, too close to shore of the Tuscan Island of Giglio to "make a bow" to the locals. The "significant human error," as described by the ship's owner, Costa Cruises, caused the 114,500-ton liner to capsize just 500 feet from the shore, killing at least 11 people, while 24 remain missing.
According to the Italian police, who have detained Schettino on charges of manslaughter, failure to offer assistance and abandonment of the ship, the captain and some of the crew were among the first to bail into lifeboats....
Name of source: Reuters
SOURCE: Reuters (1-23-12)
KABUL (Reuters) - A cache of ancient Jewish scrolls from northern Afghanistan that has only recently come to light is creating a storm among scholars who say the landmark find could reveal an undiscovered side of medieval Jewry.
The 150 or so documents, dated from the 11th century, were found in Afghanistan's Samangan province and most likely smuggled out -- a sorry but common fate for the impoverished and war-torn country's antiquities.
Israeli emeritus professor Shaul Shaked, who has examined some of the poems, commercial records and judicial agreements that make up the treasure, said while the existence of ancient Afghan Jewry is known, their culture was still a mystery....
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (1-22-12)
PARIS — The French Senate is scheduled to vote on Monday on a law that would penalize those who deny genocide, taking another step along a path that has already damaged France’s relations with Turkey.
The draft law, passed in December by the National Assembly, France’s lower house, does not specifically mention the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915. But those killings were formally labeled genocide by the French Parliament in 2001, leading to an angry reaction from the Turkish government, which insists that there was no deliberate campaign to massacre the Armenians. About 1.5 million Armenians are estimated to have died from shootings, exposure and starvation.
The Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said Friday at a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, that the law, if passed, would “remain as a black stain in France’s intellectual history, and we will always remind them of this black stain.” He asked the senators to reject it....
SOURCE: NYT (1-23-12)
Here, along a seamless stretch of small-city blight, a deserted storefront had held its own. With 9 of its 10 front windows broken, it fit in among the two boarded-up bank buildings, last used as houses of worship, and the abandoned Jimmy’s Custom Cleaners, whose claim to being open remained true, since you could stroll right into the emptiness.
Finally, a year or two ago, demolition workers knocked down this Highland Avenue building in a municipal act filed somewhere between reclamation and surrender. But in doing so, they uncovered a rare portal to the faraway past, when boys wore knickers and Highland Park was the vibrant home of the Ford Motor Company’s first moving assembly line.
The demolition revealed two colorful, well-preserved advertisements that had adorned the brick side of the adjacent building for nearly a century. Their two-story assumptions of endless prosperity are particularly conspicuous in the Highland Park of today, a city so economically distressed that it recently removed most of its streetlights.
One of the ads spells out the long-gone clothing brand of Honor Bright in bold red letters floating in sky blue, along with the blurb: “Boys Blouses, Shirts and Playsuits for Real Boys From Morn ’Till Night.” It depicts two youngsters, both in ties. One, holding schoolbooks, wears knickers and a newsboy cap; the other, riding a bicycle, wears a faintly maniacal grin.
Nearby is another ad, for “A Thoro-Bred Work Shirt” called Black Beauty. Against its golden backdrop stands an older boy in his late teens, exuding the confidence to take his place in the assembly lines of Highland Park or, perhaps, the front lines of the Great War....
SOURCE: NYT (1-21-12)
A DEMOCRATIC president running in a bitterly disputed presidential race faces a fateful national security decision: whether to approve an airstrike to thwart an adversary bent on becoming a nuclear-weapons state.
Conservative hawks deride the president as weak. In the West Wing, advisers debate the risks: a strike could lead to open conflict, but doing nothing would change the balance of power in a volatile, war-prone region.
The president was Lyndon B. Johnson, and less than three weeks before Election Day in 1964, the Chinese rendered the White House discussion moot by setting off their first nuclear test. “China will commit neither the error of adventurism, nor the error of capitulation,” the government of Mao Zedong told the world that morning, heralding the first Asian nation to get the bomb.
Johnson defeated Barry Goldwater in the election anyway, after a campaign in which — oddly enough, given the attack being contemplated — he tarred the Arizona conservative as a warmonger in the infamous black-and-white “daisy” television spot, featuring a young girl counting the petals of a flower, unaware of impending nuclear doom....
First thing Saturday, Pierette Domenica Simpson’s boyfriend called and said, “Go online. You’ll be interested.”
She checked the headlines. Something about an Italian ocean liner in trouble. The way the ship was listing, the report that it was taking on water, the light from the cabins reflecting in the water, the passengers’ struggle to clamber into lifeboats — everything seemed so familiar. “I thought, ‘How can this be? It’s 56 years later,’ ” Ms. Simpson said.
For Ms. Simpson, the wreck of the Costa Concordia brought back memories of one of the most famous disasters in maritime history, an accident that she survived as a 9-year-old girl: The collision on July 25, 1956, that left the Italian ship Andrea Doria, bound for New York City, listing in the Atlantic after being struck by a Swedish ocean liner, the Stockholm.
“It was unreal and surreal, the fact that they were both leaning on the starboard side,” she said. “If you put the two photographs together of the night scene of the Concordia and the night scene of the Andrea Doria with the incline on the starboard side and the lights coming from the portholes, you cannot tell the difference.”...
It seems like a classic case of closing the barn door after the horses have gotten out.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission voted on Tuesday to declare a row of 26 19th-century town houses and tenements on the north side of Tompkins Square Park in the East Village a historic district. But there was just one problem: A building project that the designation was intended to prevent received a permit from a different New York City agency just hours before and now, essentially, cannot be stopped.
Preservationists had pressed the commission to move quickly to designate the north side of East 10th Street between Avenues A and B a historic district. The street has what the commission itself said is “an unusually intact row of single family row houses, including some dating to the 1840s, mid-to-late 19th Century tenements and the circa 1904 Tompkins Square branch of the New York Public Library, already a city landmark.”...
The effective federal income tax rate paid by the wealthiest Americans has dropped significantly during the last several decades, largely because of tax cuts on investment income.
The last major overhaul of the tax code, signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, set tax rates on capital gains at the same level as the rates on ordinary income like salaries and wages, with both topping out at 28 percent. But that link was uncoupled by his successor, President George Bush, and the rates on capital gains were reduced by President Bill Clinton. President George W. Bush then lowered the rates on capital gains and dividends to a high of 15 percent — less than half the 35 percent top rate on ordinary income.
While rates for all American taxpayers have fallen to near 50-year lows, the wealthy have reaped the most savings from the changes because they derive a larger proportion of their income from investments.
Between 1985 and 2008, the wealthiest 400 Americans saw the percentage of their income paid in federal income taxes drop from 29 percent to 18 percent, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service....
Name of source:
“Napoleonland”, the brainchild of former French minister and history buff Yves Jégo, is being touted as a rival to Disneyland – assuming, that is, it can gather the £180 million needed to leave the drawing board.
The plan is to build the unlikely amusement park on the site of the brilliant but doomed French leader’s final victory against the Austrians in the Battle of Montereau in 1814 just south of Paris.
The 1815 Battle of Waterloo, in which the Duke of Wellington ended Napoleon's rule in France, could be recreated on a daily basis with visitors perhaps even able be able to take part in the reenactments....
Name of source: Salon
SOURCE: Salon (1-18-12)
WASHINGTON — North Korea faces the danger of an unguided missile strike, aimed right at the center of power from a direction both near and far.
That would be the newly installed supreme leader’s elder half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, who has made some skeptical comments about the weakness of the bloodline that show an unusual insight into what’s going on in Pyongyang even though he’s a few thousand miles away.
The wires are abuzz with news of a soon-to-be-released book based on emails and interviews between Kim Jong Nam and a Japanese journalist Yoji Gomi over a seven year period. In the book, which is called “My father Kim Jong Il and Me,” Jong Nam reportedly said that North Korea is bound for collapse and called his half-brother, Kim Jong Un, a figurehead.
What “a joke to the outside world,” Jong Nam is purported to have said of the ascent of Jong Un, whom he admitted he has never actually met. More seriously, Jong Nam predicted, “The Kim Jong Un regime will not last long” and “without reform … the regime will collapse.”
The ruling elite in Pyongyang, the ones who are really in control, must be wondering what to do about a problem like Kim Jong Nam, a man who is, it seems, unafraid to speak his mind from where he lives in China....
Name of source: Boston Herald
SOURCE: Boston Herald (1-19-12)
LOS ANGELES - At three o’clock on a cold December morning, a team of researchers huddled together on scaffolding 25 feet high in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio, holding a tablet computer up to a huge 16th century fresco.
But the researchers weren’t interested in the dramatic battle scene, the work of Renaissance artist Georgio Vasari.
Their goal was to solve one of art history’s greatest mysteries - whether Vasari preserved a long-lost work of Leonardo Da Vinci, "The Battle of Anghiari," behind his own....
Name of source: National Geographic
SOURCE: National Geographic (1-19-12)
Coastal peoples were preparing corn-based foods up to 6,700 years ago, according to analysis of ancient corncobs, husks, tassels, and stalks recently unearthed at the Paredones and Huaca Prieta archaeological sites on Peru's northern coast.
Previously, evidence of corn as a food before about 5,000 years ago had mostly come from what are called microfossils—microscopic remains too tiny to offer much information.
But the newfound corn remains revealed a lot, via radiocarbon dating and other tests. For instance, the oldest cobs can be identified as popcorn, said study co-author Dolores Piperno, curator of New World archaeology at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and emerita staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama....
Name of source: New Scientist
SOURCE: New Scientist (1-18-12)
What would have made them laugh? Or cry? Did they love home more than we do? Meet the real Neanderthals
A NEANDERTHAL walks into a bar and says... well, not a lot, probably. Certainly he or she could never have delivered a full-blown joke of the type modern humans would recognise because a joke hinges on surprise juxtapositions of unexpected or impossible events. Cognitively, it requires quite an advanced theory of mind to put oneself in the position of one or more of the actors in that joke - and enough working memory (the ability to actively hold information in your mind and use it in various ways).
So does that mean our Neanderthal had no sense of humour? No: humans also recognise the physical humour used to mitigate painful episodes - tripping, hitting our heads and so on - which does not depend on language or symbols. So while we could have sat down with Neanderthals and enjoyed the slapstick of The Three Stooges or Lee Evans, the verbal complexities of Twelfth Night would have been lost on them....
Name of source: ANSA med
SOURCE: ANSA med (1-19-12)
(ANSAmed) - ATHENS, JANUARY 19 - There are enough significant archaeological discoveries made every year in Greece to fill entire museums. This was also the case in 2011, despite a drop in financing for research as a result of the economic crisis. The authoritative weekly To Vima (The Tribune) has drawn up a list of the ten most important archaeological discoveries of 2011.
The works, the publication says, were not listed according to their importance as this will only be established after further studies.
The discoveries listed are as follows: 1) A small 2,500-year old wooden statue in perfect conditions. The impressive find was made in the Sanctuary of Artemis in Vravrona during building works on the archaeological site's drainage well. Other objects were found alongside the statuette, all of them dating from the 5th century BC.
Name of source: WaPo
SOURCE: WaPo (1-19-12)
The repairs on the shuttered monument are unlikely to start until late summer at the earliest, the National Park Service said.
The work is expected to take up to a year, and the monument will likely be closed most of that time. The structure, which was entered by about 1,700 visitors a day, has been closed since Aug. 23, when it was damaged by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the Washington area.
Details of the repair plans were announced at a Thursday news conference called to mark the donation of $7.5 million to the $15 million repair project by David M. Rubenstein, a billionaire Bethesda philanthropist.
The gift confirmed Rubenstein’s status as a generous repeat benefactor for Washington’s endangered national icons....
Name of source: Boston College
SOURCE: Boston College (1-19-12)
Boston College is awaiting the decision of a federal appeals court in Boston that will determine its obligation to turn over to the US Attorney’s Office an interview with former IRA member Delours Price, which was conducted as part of the University’s oral history archive on The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
The oral history project, which was directed by author and former Irish Times journalist Ed Moloney, and overseen by Executive Director of Irish Programs and University Professor of History Thomas E. Hachey and Burns Librarian Robert K. O’Neill, contains dozens of personal accounts of individuals from the predominantly Catholic nationalist movement and the largely Protestant loyalist cause in Northern Ireland.
Last spring, Boston College was served a subpoena by the US Attorney’s Office on behalf of an undisclosed law enforcement agency in the United Kingdom requesting the interviews of two individuals who participated in the project....
Name of source: Washingtonian
SOURCE: Washingtonian (1-18-12)
When it comes to presidential families, the Eisenhower family is among the quietest. Rarely do they speak up about anything, but that has changed dramatically as plans are finalized for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial adjacent to the Mall. Last week the family members joined forces to protest the design by architect Frank Gehry and the speed with which the Eisenhower Memorial Commission is moving the project forward.
A letter sent to the National Capital Planning Commission read, “We are calling for an indefinite delay in the approval process and an indefinite postponement for the groundbreaking for the memorial until there is a thorough review of the design.” It was signed by Anne Eisenhower with the note: “representing all members of the Eisenhower family.”
Anne’s brother is David Eisenhower, who resigned from the Eisenhower Memorial Commission in December. Susan Eisenhower, who is an author and an expert on international security and US-Russian relations, is another vocal opponent of the design. We talked with Susan about the memorial, the controversy, and what the family hopes to achieve.
The Eisenhower family does not strike me as a family that seeks out controversy. How did this happen?
There’s been a long process, going back to 1999, in identifying architects and the site. The site selection was one of the first jobs. The controversy began emerging this summer when there was a change in concept. Originally the plan was to put Dwight Eisenhower’s image on these metal tapestries. By summer, the approach changed to focusing on Eisenhower as a young boy. We had some concerns about that approach, and the more we looked into it the more we became concerned about other elements of the design—some fairly basic issues of scale, scope, and sustainability.
Name of source: Fox News
SOURCE: Fox News (1-19-12)
WASHINGTON – An international group seeking to preserve the legacy of Winston Churchill is announcing plans Thursday to create the first U.S. research center devoted to the longtime British leader.
The new National Churchill Library and Center will be established between 2013 and 2015 at George Washington University with an $8 million pledge from the Chicago-based Churchill Centre. Rare books and research materials will be transferred to the university's library and housed in a new street-front center with exhibit space, officials told The Associated Press.
University President Steven Knapp said the center will become a destination for scholars and students of the former British prime minister along with Washington's many museums, archives and libraries. Churchill is widely admired for his leadership of Britain during World War II....
Name of source: BBC History Magazine
SOURCE: BBC History Magazine (1-12-12)
Name of source: Mother Jones
SOURCE: Mother Jones (1-17-12)
Richard Nixon thought that doing it would make him look like a "jerk." Geraldine Ferraro said it spread germs and lipstick, but did it anyway. Andrew Jackson suckered his secretary of war into doing it for him. Davy Crockett did it so much it should have been mentioned in his theme song. We're talking about kissing babies, that revered yet reviled, much-analyzed yet meaningless American political custom.
Few candidates dare avoid it, yet no one can point to a case of a politician's failure to do it (or to do it well) causing an electoral defeat. As we head into the thick of another hotly contested baby-smooching season, here's a short history of our love-hate relationship with a campaign-trail cliché.
1833: Andrew Jackson's lips are sealed
The first politician to lay lips on an unsuspecting infant is unknown, though President Andrew Jackson is credited with the first use of a supporter's baby as a political prop. As recounted in an 1888 issue of Cosmopolitan (no, not that one), during an 1833 tour of the eastern states, the president was approached by a "poor bareheaded woman with a little baby under her arm" who said she wished to see him...
Name of source: Jeff Biggers in Salon
SOURCE: Jeff Biggers in Salon (1-18-12)
Jeff Biggers, the author most recently of "Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland," is currently at work on a new book on Arizona politics and history
In a clarification of last Friday’s announcement of a list of Mexican-American studies books to “be cleared from all classrooms” in order to comply with a state ban on ethnic studies, the Tucson Unified School District declared Tuesday that it ”has not banned any books as has been widely and incorrectly reported.”
Salon reported last week that TUSD had “banned” seven textbooks and forbidden the teaching of Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest” in Mexican-American literature classes, a story that was picked up by two Arizona newspapers as well as Democracy Now radio program.
“Seven books that were used as supporting materials for curriculum in Mexican American Studies classes have been moved to the district storage facility,” the statement read, “because the classes have been suspended as per the ruling by Arizona Superintendent for Public Instruction John Huppenthal.” District spokesperson Cara Rene added that “the books may be considered for future use as new curriculums are created going forward. We are seeking assistance from the Arizona Department of Education to help us create new classes for the 2012/13 school year.”
Huppenthal, who campaigned in 2010 to stop the Mexican-American studies program, overruled an independent audit that praised the curriculum and ruled last month that it violated the state ban....
Name of source: CNN.com
SOURCE: CNN.com (1-17-12)
London (CNN) -- The year 2012 is a significant one in the Maya calendar.
The ancient long count calendar of the Maya, a Mesoamerican civilization that flourished across Mexico and Central America from 2000 BC to the time of the Spanish Conquistadores, states that on the 12th December, 2012, the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in approximately 26,000 years.
And 21 December, 2012, is said to mark the end of the 13th Maya Calendar, a 144,000-day cycle or "b'ak'tun" since the mythical Maya day of creation 5,200 years ago.
Though popularly interpreted as signifying the "end of the world as we know it," scholars stress that the end of the "b'ak'tun" does not mean apocalypse....
Name of source: Foreign Policy
SOURCE: Foreign Policy (1-17-12)
Let's face it. When Millard Fillmore, the undistinguished, uninspiring 13th president of the United States, comes up in political conversation these days, it's usually as the butt of jokes....
But last night, during the GOP debate in South Carolina, Ron Paul issued a full-throated endorsement of Fillmore's approach to foreign policy, whether he realized it or not. "If another country does to us what we do to others, we aren't going to like it very much," Paul explained in the context of his opposition to war with Iran. "So I would say maybe we ought to consider a Golden Rule in foreign policy."...
OK, but what does all this have to do with Millard Fillmore? The former president, it turns out, expressed nearly the same sentiments in 1850 during his first State of the Union address, in a formulation of foreign policy that sounds an awful lot like Paul's noninterventionist, empire-shunning worldview....
Name of source: CBS News
SOURCE: CBS News (1-17-12)
In 1945, Carl Clark saved the Navy destroyer ship Aaron Ward from Japanese Kamikaze pilots. But he was not recognized for his heroism because of his race. Now, 66 years later, Clark was awarded his Medal for Distinguished Service in Combat. John Blackstone reports.