Name of source: Guardian (UK)
He was one of the men who laid the foundations for God's own country, but Thomas Jefferson had his own revolutionary ideas about the Bible.
The third US president's unwillingness to swallow miracles such as the virgin birth led him to cut out parts of the Gospels he did not agree with and compile his own version.
The result, known informally as The Jefferson Bible, has been published in a new edition by Tarcher, part of Penguin USA, this month.
The original, which has been painstakingly restored by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, where it is on display, was created by Jefferson in 1820 by cutting out passages from six other volumes with razors. He then pasted them into a book of his own, which he had bound.
During Jefferson's life the book's existence was known only to his friends and family. His great-granddaughter sold it to the Smithsonian Institution in 1895 and it was finally published in 1904, 78 years after his death....
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 14:30
The eldest son of North Korea's late leader Kim Jong-il has predicted the regime would soon fail, with or without reforms, according to a new book that the author says is based on emails and interviews with Kim Jong-nam.
The book says that Kim Jong-nam – who has never met the new leader, his half-brother Kim Jong-un – described the dynastic succession as "a joke to the outside world", and said even his father had originally opposed the hereditary transfer of power.
"The Kim Jong-un regime will not last long," Kim Jong-nam is said to have written, forecasting a power struggle. "Without reforms, North Korea will collapse, and when such changes take place, the regime will collapse."...
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 14:29
A quote carved in stone on the new Martin Luther King Jr memorial in Washington will be changed after the inscription was criticised for not accurately reflecting the civil rights leader's words.
The inscription currently reads: "I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness." The phrase is chiselled into one side of a massive block of granite that includes King's likeness emerging from the stone. It became a point of controversy after the memorial opened in August.
Ken Salazar, secretary of the US department of the interior, has decided to have the quote changed, said a department spokesman on Friday.
The phrase is modified from a sermon known as the Drum Major Instinct, in which the 39-year-old King explained to his Atlanta congregation how he would like to be remembered at his funeral. He made the February 1968 speech just two months before he was assassinated in Memphis.
In the speech, King's words seem more modest than the paraphrased inscription: "Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter."...
Saturday, January 14, 2012 - 17:56
Name of source: NYT
The British explorer Robert Falcon Scott finally reached his destination a century ago, Jan. 17, 1912, more than a month too late to claim victory in the race to be first to the South Pole. But the triumphant Norwegian Roald Amundsen could not deny him at least one distinction: Scott was the founder of The South Polar Times, the first magazine to be produced on the Antarctic continent.
Just about anything done in Antarctica on Scott’s first expedition, beginning in 1902, had a good chance of being a first. When his ship Discovery entered McMurdo Sound, among the gear in its hold was a typewriter, lots of typing paper and art supplies. Scott had decided, in the tradition of other Royal Navy long voyages, that there should be a monthly periodical to entertain and help the explorers keep their chins up.
Keepers of journalism’s flame should take note. The illustrious publication saturated its market. The single handmade copy of each issue, neatly typed and illustrated with photographs, watercolors and playful sketches, was passed around and read aloud to one and all, icebound during the darkness of the austral winter, April to August....
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 12:48
A City Room post recently about a town house on the Upper East Side that blew up in 2006 brought to mind another town house, another era and another explosion — the town house in Greenwich Village that became a bomb factory for the radical group the Weathermen.
Unlike with the physician on the Upper East Side who apparently intended to destroy his town house, the explosion on West 11th Street in Greenwich Village, in 1970, was an accident.
Charles Lockwood remembers how loud it was. He was down the street, taking pictures.
He was a senior at Princeton. He and a classmate with a new camera had driven to Manhattan to take photographs for Mr. Lockwood’s senior thesis. It served as the basis for his book “Bricks and Brownstone: The New York Row House,” published in 1972 and reissued by Rizzoli in 2003....
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 12:47
...The deforestation that has stripped the Amazon since the 1970s has also exposed a long-hidden secret lurking underneath thick rain forest: flawlessly designed geometric shapes spanning hundreds of yards in diameter.
Alceu Ranzi, a Brazilian scholar who helped discover the squares, octagons, circles, rectangles and ovals that make up the land carvings, said these geoglyphs found on deforested land were as significant as the famous Nazca lines, the enigmatic animal symbols visible from the air in southern Peru.
“What impressed me the most about these geoglyphs was their geometric precision, and how they emerged from forest we had all been taught was untouched except by a few nomadic tribes,” said Mr. Ranzi, a paleontologist who first saw the geoglyphs in the 1970s and, years later, surveyed them by plane.
For some scholars of human history in Amazonia, the geoglyphs in the Brazilian state of Acre and other archaeological sites suggest that the forests of the western Amazon, previously considered uninhabitable for sophisticated societies partly because of the quality of their soils, may not have been as “Edenic” as some environmentalists contend....
Sunday, January 15, 2012 - 15:48
I’m not throwin’ away my shot.
Hey yo, I’m just like my country.
I’m young, scrappy and hungry.
That verbal fusillade delivered by Lin-Manuel Miranda, playing Alexander Hamilton, began the sensational performance of Mr. Miranda’s project, “The Hamilton Mixtape,” on Wednesday evening at the Allen Room, where it opened the new season of Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series....
Who would have thought of comparing America’s founding fathers to contemporary rappers? But “The Hamilton Mixtape,” inspired by Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton, finds him furiously quarreling with Thomas Jefferson (Jon Rua), James Madison (James Monroe Iglehart), and Aaron Burr (Utkarsh Ambudkar), in cabinet debates moderated by George Washington (Christopher Jackson)....
Friday, January 13, 2012 - 11:18
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Thursday that it would place the body of Kim Jong-il on permanent display in a Pyongyang mausoleum and install his statues, portraits and memorial towers across the country.
Mr. Kim, who died on Dec. 17 at age 69, is the second North Korean leader whose embalmed body will be on public display. His father, the North’s founding president, Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994, was embalmed with the help of Russian experts and is in the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang.
Mr. Kim’s body will be on display there too, the Politburo of the ruling Workers’ Party said on Thursday in a report carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. There was no indication of how much the impoverished North Korean government planned to spend on the memorials.
The sprawling Kumsusan Palace, its mausoleum lined with expensive marble, is thought to have cost hundreds of millions of dollars, factoring in extensive renovations and an expansion during the 1990s, when tens of thousands of North Korean died of famine. During the same period, bronze statues of Kim Il-sung and “towers of eternal life” in his memory were erected in almost every North Korean city....
Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 14:21
CAMBRIDGE, England — For scale, they were no match for the Great Pyramids of Giza or the Panama Canal. The labor took months rather than years and a work force of barely 100 men. As for materials, there were none, beyond what the captured Royal Air Force fliers who built them could scavenge, scrounge or improvise.
But by the measures of ingenuity, courage and persistence, the tunnels built almost 70 years ago in sandy scrubland near the small town of Zagan, 130 miles southeast of Berlin in what was then Hitler’s Germany and is today western Poland, were a legendary feat of engineering, although on a miniature scale.
Chronicled by the 1963 movie “The Great Escape,” the tunnel building is one of World War II’s great stories. In the decades since, the legend of the allied fliers’ mass breakout on the night of March 24, 1944, together with the ingenious planning and the Nazi retribution that followed — 73 of the 76 escapers recaptured, and 50 of them summarily executed on Hitler’s orders — has, in a way, eclipsed reality....
Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 12:26
Name of source: My Fox Phoenix
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - On a bluff overlooking a sweep of Southern California beach, scientists in 1976 unearthed what were among the oldest skeletal remains ever found in the Western Hemisphere.
Researchers would come to herald the bones - dating back nearly 10,000 years - as a potential treasure trove for understanding the earliest human history of the continental United States. But a local tribal group called the Kumeyaay Nation claimed that the bones, representing at least two people, were their ancestors and demanded them back several years ago.
For decades, fights like this over the provenance and treatment of human bones have played out across the nation. Yet new federal protections could mean that the vast majority of the remains of an estimated 160,000 Native Americans held by universities, museums and federal government agencies, including those sought by the Kumeyaay, may soon be transferred to tribes.
A recent federal regulation addresses what should happen to any remains that cannot be positively traced to the ancestors of modern-day tribes. Museums and agencies are required to notify tribes whose current or ancestral lands harbored the remains, then the tribe is entitled to have them back....
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 10:59
Name of source: AP
Crews of scientists with wooden spoons and small metal picks dig carefully around bones embedded in a dry lake bed, excavating what is believed to be the remains of freed slaves and their children buried in a long-forgotten cemetery.
More than two dozen graves were exposed this summer in a section of a reservoir that dried up in the severe Texas drought. Officials later organized a thorough excavation effort and were recently embroiled in a brief legal battle over where to rebury the bones.
With the legal issues resolved and the excavation effort two weeks from completion, the unidentified skeletal remains then will be moved to a cemetery in Navarro County where other black families have been laid to rest.
"I'm pleased that we're able to finally move them to a place of dignity and honor," said Bruce McManus, chairman of the county's historical commission....
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 10:57
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- Rick Santorum is running for president but his campaign speeches sometimes sound like he's working toward tenure.
The Republican quotes Irish statesmen and French historians, traces word origins and explains Islam to the Christian conservatives who have great sway in South Carolina's Saturday GOP primary. He recommends books, cites academic studies and doesn't shy from footnoting his own unscripted remarks.
At times, Santorum's events more closely resemble a somber college lecture than a raucous political rally -- informative, if not always inspirational....
Often, Santorum commends one of his recent reads, David Hackett Fischer's "Washington Crossing," to his audiences. He mentions Edmund Burke, the 18th Century historian. He quotes Alexis de Tocqueville's study of American democracy....
Monday, January 16, 2012 - 11:17
BROOKLYN, Ohio (AP) — A personal check that Abraham Lincoln wrote the day before he was assassinated is among those that were rediscovered by an Ohio bank.
The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reports that 70 checks were found in a vault at Huntington Bank's Columbus headquarters....
Sunday, January 15, 2012 - 15:55
The Czech government agreed Wednesday to pay billions of dollars in compensation to churches for property seized by the former Communist government. The deal threatened to topple the coalition government earlier this week after a junior partner voiced anger at the thought of huge sums being paid to churches in the middle of the European debt crisis....
Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 12:26
Name of source: LiveScience
A research team has discovered what may be the oldest astrologer's board, engraved with zodiac signs and used to determine a person's horoscope.
Dating back more than 2,000 years, the board was discovered in Croatia, in a cave overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The surviving portion of the board consists of 30 ivory fragments engraved with signs of the zodiac. Researchers spent years digging them up and putting them back together. Inscribed in a Greco-Roman style, they include images of Cancer, Gemini and Pisces.
The board fragments were discovered next to a phallic-shaped stalagmite amid thousands of pieces of ancient Hellenistic (Greek style) drinking vessels.
An ancient astrologer, trying to determine a person's horoscope, could have used the board to show the position of the planets, sun and moon at the time the person was born....
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 10:54
Name of source: AFP
Gazing down a frozen New York field, the statue of a Mohawk girl about to become the first Native American saint exudes calm. Yet the real Kateri Tekakwitha had a brutal existence -- and ghosts from her dramatic life still haunt these hills.
The 17th-century figure will make history when the Vatican canonizes her later this year, although the joy among America's indigenous tribes will be mixed with some painful historical memories.
No other "Indian", as the original inhabitants of the United States and Canada are widely, but wrongly, called, has made sainthood. Following centuries of being dispossessed, caricatured, or ignored, Native Americans will soon have the unusual experience of appearing in a positive light.
Mark Steed, the Franciscan friar heading the Kateri Shrine on the banks of the Mohawk River, said that after more than 30 years of working among Native Americans, he is happy to see them win this boost....
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 10:52
Name of source: Yahoo News
ISLA NEGRA, Chile (AP) — The suspicions have lingered for decades.
Pablo Neruda, Chile's Nobel Prize-winning poet, would have been a powerful voice in exile against the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. But that all changed just 24 hours before Neruda was to flee the country in the chaos following the 1973 military coup.
He was 69 years old and suffering from prostate cancer when he died, exactly 12 days after the brutal coup that ended the life of his close friend, socialist President Salvador Allende.
The official version was that he died of natural causes brought on by the trauma of witnessing the coup and the lethal persecution of many of his friends.
Some Chileans have questioned that official telling of Neruda's death and instead suspected foul play at the hands of Pinochet's regime. Those doubts could get a public airing as Chile's Communist Party asks that Neruda's body be exhumed for testing to address long-simmering suspicions that the poet was poisoned.
The judge investigating his death could rule at any moment that the exhumation go forward....
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 10:51
Name of source: Fox News
LONDON – 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....
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 10:48
Name of source: Irish Independent
A FORENSIC archaeologist has unearthed fresh evidence to prove the existence of mass graves at the Nazi death camp Treblinka.
Some 800,000 Jews were killed at the site, in north east Poland, during the Second World War but a lack of physical evidence at the site has been exploited by Holocaust deniers.
British forensic archaeologist Caroline Sturdy Colls has now undertaken the first co-ordinated scientific attempt to locate the graves, according to an interview in the Radio Times.
As Jewish religious law forbids disturbing burial sites, she and her team from the University of Birmingham have used "ground-penetrating radar"....
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 10:46
Name of source: National Post
BERLIN – Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, banned from German bookstores, will soon be available from newspaper kiosks after a British publisher said he would print excerpts from the text in Germany.
But the state of Bavaria, which owns the copyrights to the Nazi vision of Aryan racial supremacy, said it was considering legal steps to block publication.
Reprinting the Nazi dictator’s autobiography, which outlines his ambitions to seize vast areas of land in eastern Europe to provide living space for the so-called master race, is outlawed in Germany except for academic study.
The first of three 16-page extracts from the book, accompanied by a critical commentary, will be published later this month with a print run of 100,000 each, Peter McGee, head of London-based publishing firm Albertas Ltd told Reuters....
Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 10:45
Name of source: CBS News
Over 50 years ago, a group of students from the local NAACP chapter sat down at the counter at Dockum's Drug Store in Wichita, Kansas. Jim Axelrod spoke with a few members of the group on how that day changed history in the civil rights movement.
Monday, January 16, 2012 - 23:38
Name of source: NPR
Legal challenges and demonstrations were cracking the foundations of segregation, but a black person still couldn't sit down and eat a hamburger or a piece of pie in a store that was all too willing to take his money for a tube of toothpaste.
Those four freshmen at North Carolina A&T College — Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair Jr. and David Richmond — sat until the store closed, but they still didn't get their coffee.
But that day helped spark other sit-in protests — led by young people like themselves — that spread throughout the South in 1960, energizing the civil rights movement. And the Greensboro Woolworth desegregated its lunch counter later that year.
It wasn't the first time that food, or the lack thereof, figured large in the movement....
Monday, January 16, 2012 - 13:02
Name of source: Huffington Post
There's been a lot of interest in Machu Picchu lately. Huffington Post travel readers recently ranked it Number One on the "1,000 Places To See Before You Die" bracket.
Last July 25 marked the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the "Lost City" by Hiram Bingham.
I visited Machu Picchu in March 1986 as a W.K. Kellogg National Leadership Fellow. It was a memorable experience because I felt I touched the hand of God there and understood my smallness in the immensity of Creation. Here is an excerpt from my journal.
We rode the train from Cuzco to Machu Picchu trekking through the Andes Mountains, which are full of terraced agricultural land. Sometimes we'd see Indian farmers working, sometimes a village of adobe-brick houses. The colors were greens of many hues from very different looking plants....
Monday, January 16, 2012 - 13:01
STOCKHOLM — A newly found Swedish document shows how the KGB intervened in the early 1990s to stop an investigation into World War II hero Raoul Wallenberg's fate, two U.S.-based researchers said Monday.
The Swedish diplomat, who would have turned 100 this year, is credited with rescuing tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis. He disappeared after being arrested in Hungary by the Soviet Red Army in 1945.
The Russians have said he was executed on July 17, 1947, but unverified witness accounts and newly uncovered evidence suggest he may have lived beyond that date.
Wallenberg researchers were hoping that key pieces of the puzzle would emerge when an international commission was granted access to Soviet prison records as the communist rule was heading toward its end....
Monday, January 16, 2012 - 11:38
Name of source: CS Monitor
It’s that time of year again, and we don’t mean the NFL postseason. Yes, Martin Luther King Day is upon us.
As many Americans know, the King commemoration is an unusual holiday in a number of respects. It’s one of only three federally authorized celebrations of individuals, the others being Washington’s Birthday and Columbus Day. It’s the newest US holiday, created in 1983. It’s been bolstered for 2012 by the opening of the new King memorial on the National Mall in Washington.
But here’s something many citizens may not know: It is really two holidays in one.
There’s the overall King Day, set in ’83 when President Reagan signed a bill putting it in federal law. And there’s the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, established when President Clinton signed the King Holiday and Service Act of 1994. King Service Day is meant to be a day of personal action in Dr. King’s memory on or near his holiday – as its boosters say, a day on, not a day off. It’s promoted by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that also runs AmeriCorps and similar initiatives....
Monday, January 16, 2012 - 11:49
Name of source: Free Malaysia Today
PETALING JAYA: According to history, Chinese Princess Hang Li Po was the fifth wife of Malaccan Sultan Mansur Shah who reigned from 1456-1477.
During this period, there was also the legend of the Sultan’s five famous warriors, Hang Tuah, Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi, Hang Lekir and Hang Lekiu. It is a tale of friendship and loyalty, which every Malaysian had heard.
However, renowned historian Prof Khoo Kay Kim told radio station BFM this morning that Hang Li Po and the five warriors never existed.
Speaking to FMT later, he explained: “The Chinese Ming dynasty of the 16th century does not have records on them. These are very well preserved records.”
Monday, January 16, 2012 - 11:40
Name of source: Slate
For most people in their eighties, life is a gradual winding down. For Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the key architects of America’s cold war strategy – “Jimmy Carter’s Kissinger”, as he was once called – being 83 isn’t much different from 43. Brzezinski plays singles tennis every day – “one of my partners is older than me,” he tells me with some amusement. At the crack of dawn he is often found opining trenchantly on Morning Joe, the MSNBC daily news show co-hosted by his daughter Mika. And he remains a much sought-after adviser to secretaries of state and presidential candidates, including Barack Obama, though nowadays Brzezinski finds it hard to conceal his disappointment with his former mentee. “I’m all in favour of grand important speeches but the president then has to link his sermons to a strategy,” Brzezinski says. “Obama still has some way to go.”...
Monday, January 16, 2012 - 11:18
Name of source: WaPo
Washington and Lee University will hold classes Monday over the objections of David Knoespel and some of his law school classmates, who unsuccessfully petitioned their institution to shut down for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
They are concerned, in part, that the day commemorating King will be overshadowed by events three days later to mark the birthday of Robert E. Lee.
The proximity of the two occasions poses a particular challenge for Virginia and for the university in Lexington named in equal parts for the founding father and the Confederate commander. Lee served as the school’s president after the Civil War and set it on a course toward national prestige in the liberal arts.
For more than a decade after the 1986 advent of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Virginians celebrated the births of the civil rights icon and Confederate generals Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson on the same day. (Jackson, too, was born in mid-January.) In 2000, Lee-Jackson-King Day was split into two holidays, one for the generals on a Friday, the other for the civil rights leader on the following Monday....
Sunday, January 15, 2012 - 19:52
NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley will be in clear view for the first time in nearly 150 years once a truss weighing more than eight tons surrounding it is removed in South Carolina.
The work is scheduled for Thursday at a conservation lab in North Charleston....
Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 12:39
Name of source: The American Interest
Since Vaclav Havel's death this past December, Czech mourners have celebrated his legacy and reflected on the Velvet Revolution that he helped lead. One of his oldest allies was Pavel Bratinka, who served with Havel on the Civic Forum, the umbrella group that unified anti-Communist forces. Bratinka was also one of the founders of the Civic Democratic Alliance (a center-right party) and was elected to the legislatures of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic.
Born in 1946 in Bratislava, Bratinka studied solid state physics but was prevented from defending his thesis when he refused to join the Communist-dominated Youth Union. Bratinka was active in numerous “in-home” or underground seminars—including the famous gathering at Kampa island (“Kampademie”) with Havel, his brother Ivan and Radim and Martin Palouš. He was also a translator of Friedrich Hayek and Eric Voegelin and the organizer of the underground publishing house “Edice Svíce” (Candle Edition). In 1998 he co-founded Euroffice, a Czech and European public affairs consultancy, where he has worked ever since.
Flagg Taylor recently spoke with Bratinka for the American Interest.
Flagg Taylor: What is the legacy of totalitarianism in Czech society today?
Pavel Bratinka: There are many remnants of the totalitarian past. First, people are still, for better or worse, politically passive. We have elections and the turnout is relatively high, but there is little expression of opinion beyond voting—say, by demonstrating or organizing political action committees. People resign themselves to talking in pubs and condemning politicians for this or that. They tolerate corruption and a certain political aloofness that is characteristic of some politicians here. Somehow, disquietingly, the fact that politicians lie or steal is considered normal. There is little politically relevant outrage about these things.
FT: Are there opportunities to participate politically at the local level?
Pavel Bratinka: There are countless opportunities. One can field oneself in local elections, in one’s village, almost at no personal cost. But there are few takers because it involves work, dealing with bureaucratic obstacles, talking with quarreling neighbors and other unpleasantries. Then you have politics at the level of bigger cities and regions. Here there are many more takers, those who want to be in the regional parliaments or city councils because they consider it an opportunity to get rich with public contracts and that sort of thing. This toleration of corruption, in particular, seems to be a vestige of the past....
Friday, January 13, 2012 - 18:18
Name of source: Newsweek
In the winter of 1937, the Japanese army stormed Nanjing, then China’s capital, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of people in what is now known as the Nanjing Massacre. The incident remains the most emotionally wrenching chapter in the history of Sino-Japanese relations. But unlike the Holocaust and other acts of mass violence during World War II, creative attempts to represent the massacre have been few and far between.
Over the past few years, however, there has been an outpouring of dramatizations of Nanjing in literature and film, as a new generation of Chinese auteurs attempt to grapple with the tragedy, and juggle the demands of their audience, their censors, and their own artistic conscience. Last fall, for instance, National Book Award–winning author Ha Jin published the English-language novel, Nanjing Requiem, which explores the role foreigners played in trying to save the Chinese. And last month brought Zhang Yimou’s The Flowers of War, the most expensive film ever made in China, which tells the story of a priest, played by Christian Bale, who tries to shelter schoolchildren and prostitutes from the Japanese.
Such reflection on tragedy wasn’t always common. For years, after the Communists came to power, the state wanted to bury the massacre entirely and maintain good relations with the new Japanese government, which could help support China’s struggling economy. Nanjing was the capital of the hated nationalist regime, and the Communists played no role in defending the Chinese from brutality. The massacre did not fit into the Communist Party’s history, and since the state did not tolerate dissenting views, very little was published about it....
Friday, January 13, 2012 - 17:56
Name of source: BBC News
Martin McGuinness has said he was 'disturbed' to learn that documents detailing paramilitary decommissioning are held in a Boston College archive.
The deputy first minister made his remarks at the British Irish Summit in Dublin Castle on Friday.
Boston College has said that documents in its archive will remain confidential for 30 years.
The body which oversaw paramilitary decommissioning in Northern Ireland presented its final report in 2011.
The entire process was monitored by the International Independent Commission on Decommissioning (IICD)....
Friday, January 13, 2012 - 17:01
It was a decade of drama - miner's strikes, the Falklands war, IRA terrorism and the discovery of Aids.
But life on a more domestic level in the 1980s will be opened up for further study this summer.
First hand accounts, written by volunteers, of their daily lives and views were collected throughout the decade as part of the Mass Observation Archive.
The ambitious project, which ran from the 1930s to 1950s and then from the 1980s onwards, recorded personal details about life in Britain, through diaries and observations....
Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 17:41
Five thousand Irish soldiers who swapped uniforms to fight for the British against Hitler went on to suffer years of persecution.
One of them, 92-year-old Phil Farrington, took part in the D-Day landings and helped liberate the German death camp at Bergen-Belsen - but he wears his medals in secret....
He was one of about 5,000 Irish soldiers who deserted their own neutral army to join the war against fascism and who were brutally punished on their return home as a result.
They were formally dismissed from the Irish army, stripped of all pay and pension rights, and prevented from finding work by being banned for seven years from any employment paid for by state or government funds....
"They didn't understand why we did what we did. A lot of Irish people wanted Germany to win the war - they were dead up against the British."
It was only 20 years since Ireland had won its independence after many years of rule from London, and the Irish list of grievances against Britain was long - as Gerald Morgan, long-time professor of history at Trinity College, Dublin, explains....
Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 12:14
The Charles Dickens Museum in central London has defended its decision to close for a revamp during the 200th anniversary year of the author's birth.
The author's former home will shut on 10 April, also ahead of the Olympic Games when many tourist attractions are expecting boosted visitor numbers.
The museum has been awarded a Heritage Lottery grant of £2m.
Museum manager Shannon Hermes said the money was only available for a limited time and they had to seize the chance....
Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 12:10
A grenade which sparked an emergency when it was handed to a police officer dated from World War II, the Army has said.
Residents in Dura Street, Dundee, were told to stay indoors and the road closed after the device was passed to an officer on Tuesday afternoon.
Army bomb disposal experts were called in and took the badly-corroded grenade away to destroy it elsewhere.
It had been dug up several years ago by a man in the local area, police said....
Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 12:09
In 1900, an American civil engineer called John Elfreth Watkins made a number of predictions about what the world would be like in 2000. How did he do?
As is customary at the start of a new year, the media have been full of predictions about what may happen in the months ahead.
But a much longer forecast made in 1900 by a relatively unknown engineer has been recirculating in the past few days.
In December of that year, at the start of the 20th Century, John Elfreth Watkins wrote a piece published on page eight of an American women's magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, entitled What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years....
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 15:18
A manuscript possibly written by Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper is to be published worldwide.
The document was unearthed at the Montacute TV and Radio museum, Somerset, in October 2009 among the possessions of children's author SG Hulme Beaman.
It is thought to have been written in the 1920s and is entitled The Autobiography of James Carnac.
Ripper historian Paul Begg has read the whole manuscript and said it could not be dismissed as a piece of fiction as "you find all sorts of questions and lots of niggles" about its content and provenance....
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 13:34
Name of source: Mother Jones
Last February, activists pitched a fit when it was announced that, for the second consecutive year, the gay Republican group GOProud would be a cosponsor of Washington's biggest right-wing confab, the Conservative Political Action Conference....
CPAC isn't so discerning about the rest of its cosponsors, though. As Right Wing Watch notes, one of the sponsors at February's conference will be Youth For Western Civilization, a group dedicated to, as the name suggests, preventing the "extinction" of Western Civilization at the hands of multiculturalism. Per its mission statement, the group boasts that, "in spite of the continual assault and hatred it endures from the radical left, we wish to revive the West, rather than see our civilization be sent to the graveyard of history."
How does that manifest itself? Among other things, the group is a passionate defender of South Africa's white heritage. A recent blog post featured at the site accuses the African National Congress, the nation's ruling party, of waging a "genocide" against Afrikaners, and pins much of the blame on revered former president Nelson Mandela....
Friday, January 13, 2012 - 16:58
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
President Abraham Lincoln is widely portrayed in film and TV delivering speeches in an authoritative, booming voice.
The performance of Gregory Peck with his rich bass tones in mini-series The Blue and the Gray, in particular, no doubt helped to cement that perception.
But according to one historian, this could not be further from the truth.
Leading Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer believes the 16th U.S. President, the man who successfully led his country through the American Civil War with his famous speech, The Gettysburg Address, did so in a 'shrill and high' voice.
This would have been in stark contrast to the bass vocals which tended to dominate oratory in the 1850s and also against the artistic licence employed more recently by those who cast Peck and, among others, Sam Waterston as the great man himself....
Friday, January 13, 2012 - 16:45
A medieval fishing village is believed to have been found in the Outer Hebrides after a tip-off from an islander.
The site is among potential new historic finds made along the islands’ coasts following information from members of the public.
Archaeologists said they were told about the village after bumping into local man JJ MacDonald. The possible fishing station was discovered near Loch Euport, on North Uist.
The project team said on Ordnance Survey maps the area is called Havn, the Norse word for harbour.
Last year, fishermen, beachcombers, divers and islanders in the Hebrides were asked for information on where archaeologists might find ancient sites along shorelines.
The project involves the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), WA Coastal and Marine, Historic Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council)....
Friday, January 13, 2012 - 11:27
The newly-discovered diaries of a wealthy country squire show he spent the majority of his time painting scenes of Victorian life rather than working.
Solicitor George Cooper's journals are full of incredibly detailed sketches and paintings and give a fascinating insight into Victorian life.
But the diaries have also provided a new enlightening picture of the wealthy Somerset landowner - and show he very rarely went to work.
Typical entries include descriptions of his favourite pastimes of shooting, fishing, hunting, cycling and cricket, around the town of Wincanton, with regular mentions of dinners with friends....
Friday, January 13, 2012 - 11:25
Name of source: Examiner
About 3,500 years ago, when the Bronze Age was ending in Europe and the Olmec civilization was thriving in Mexico, natives in San Antonio were living off the land using primitive tools, as they had been for thousands of years.
Signs of ancient human settlements have been found elsewhere in Texas, some more than 10,000 years old. And now there's evidence that about 1500 B.C. — three millennia before the Spanish Conquest — natives were building structures along the San Antonio River.
Last month, workers preparing Mission County Park for construction found evidence of one such building while searching for a previous location of nearby Mission San Jose, which they never located.
What they did uncover — and then reburied after preliminary investigation — were remains of a prehistoric hut that burned down but left significant clues....
Friday, January 13, 2012 - 11:31
Name of source: EurActiv
Estonia rejects accusations that it plans to honour Estonians who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II as "freedom fighters", as reported by various European media, EurActiv has learned.
“Estonian government can guarantee, that nobody would be honoured in Estonia for fighting in nazi uniform or belonging to Waffen-SS”, a government spokesperson told Euractiv.
Last December, the Delfi news website in Estonia reported that the Defence Ministry wants Parliament to consider a bill that would recognise World War II fighters against Soviet troops as Estonian freedom fighters. Attempts to pass such legislation failed in 2006 and in 2010....
Friday, January 13, 2012 - 11:29
Name of source: LA Times
REPORTING FROM MEXICO CITY -- Two years have passed since a ferocious earthquake leveled much of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, and killed about a quarter-million people. It was, as The Times put it, "one of modern times' worst natural disasters," striking "one of modern times' poorest nations."
Today there is progress, including the election and seating of a new government, the clearing of much rubble, the rebuilding of some housing and other infrastructure, the expansion of access to healthcare.
Yet, more than half a million Haitians who lost their homes still live in often-squalid camps, where women and children are especially vulnerable to sexual attack and other violence. Jobs remain scarce; the vast majority of Haitians barely scrape by. Much of the billions of dollars in promised aid has yet to penetrate. And a post-quake cholera epidemic continues to kill....
Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 12:45
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
A POW wiling away the war in a German prison camp delivered a defiant message insulting Hitler through the apparently innocuous skill of embroidery.
Major Alexis Casdagli, who was taken prisoner in 1941, had turned to embroidery as a way of protecting his sanity against the tedium of POW life but he also found it provided a means of covert resistance.
An innocent looking tapestry stitched by the officer in December 1941 bears the rather bland text stating the name and location of its creator and the date. But in a border surrounding the text Major Casdagli also stitched a series of dots and dashes, which in Morse code spelt out "God Save the King" and "---- Hitler"....
Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 12:08
The wartime diary of Private Ross Taylor, a British prisoner of war whose daily jottings never exceeded 140 characters, is to be broadcast on Twitter.
Private Taylor, a driver in the Royal Army Service Corps, kept a meticulous daily diary thoughout 1940 as he was captured at Albert during the Battle for France and held at Stalag VIIIB in Poland.
His meticulous entries in the leather AA drivers' journal, a gift from his girlfriend Florence, detail spending New Year's Day in a drill hall in Chesterfield, being trapped in an ambush and the tortuous march 200-mile march into Germany.
He recorded watching German fighter planes massacre columns of French refugees, and how starvation rations, forced labour and dysentry pushed him to the brink of death.
Chris Ayres, his grandson, realised each entry was no more than the length of an update on the Twitter microblogging site....
Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 12:01
Name of source: Reuters
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's parliament gave initial approval on Wednesday to laws to curb public use of Nazi symbols after ultra-Orthodox protesters caused outrage by calling police Nazis and wearing concentration camp garb.
Four bills swiftly passed one of five rounds of voting needed to become law, even though a spectrum of critics denounced them as a violation of free speech.
The laws call for up to a year in jail and stiff fines for anyone convicted of visually or verbally misusing symbols such as swastikas, the term Nazi or epithets related to the killing of six million Jews before and during World War Two.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet approved the bills before they went to parliament, seizing on public outrage at devout Jews who dressed last month as Holocaust victims to show they felt persecuted by objections to their efforts to achieve gender segregation in public....
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 16:43
Name of source: RFI English
A Paris court has rejected a bid by heirs of the founder of French carmaker Renault to be compensated for the nationalisation of the company at the end of World War II when their grandfather was dubbed a Nazi collaborator.
The court rejected a challenge to the 1945 nationalisation under a new judicial procedure that allows plaintiffs to challenge the constitutionality of legislation.
They claimed that the state takeover was a "violation of fundamental legal and property rights".
The seven grandchildren of founder Louis Renault said they would appeal against the decision.
Louis Renault founded Renault with his brothers in 1898. During the Nazi occupation the company was placed under German control and made equipment for German forces, leading to allied planes bombing its factories....
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 16:42
Name of source: CzechPosition.com
A new opinion poll indicates more Czechs are now in favor of abolishing decrees issued by post-war Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš, which provided the legal basis after WWII for the expulsion and confiscation of property of Sudeten Germans who could not prove they did not support the Nazis. More respondents have no clear opinion on the issue.
According to the poll conducted by Czech Academy of Science’s public research center (CVVM) at the end of 2011, 49% of Czechs are in favor of preserving the Beneš Decrees. The previous poll conducted in 2009 showed 65% were in favor of preserving the decrees, which are fiercely opposed by movements in Germany and Austria representing Sudeten Germans and their descendents.
The latest CVVM poll thus suggests Czech public opinion is swaying back towards abolishing the decrees: in 2006 and 2007 polls, just over 50% of respondents were in favor. Now 17% of respondents said the decrees should be abolished, whereas in 2009, the figure was 8%....
Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 16:40