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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: NY Daily News
SOURCE: NY Daily News (2-1-12)
OK, they aren't exactly knee-slappers, but 3,500 years ago, the six riddles found on an ancient tablet in Iraq could well have been quite the howlers — and may even contain the oldest "Yo Mama" joke known to man.
The cuneiform chucklers, believed to be written by a Babylonian student circa 1,500 B.C., were carved on a damaged tablet, discovered in 1976 by an archaeologist, J.J. van Dijk. The tablet has since vanished, but van Dijk preserved what was written on it. Michael Streck and Nathan Wasserman studied the riddles and published their findings in the noted journal Iraq, published by the British Institute for the Study of Iraq.
The riddles' subject matter is earthy - sex, beer, and, of course, humor at the expense of mom....
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (1-31-12)
The tip of a girl’s 40,000-year-old pinky finger found in a cold Siberian cave, paired with faster and cheaper genetic sequencing technology, is helping scientists draw a surprisingly complex new picture of human origins.
The new view is fast supplanting the traditional idea that modern humans triumphantly marched out of Africa about 50,000 years ago, replacing all other types that had gone before.
Instead, the genetic analysis shows, modern humans encountered and bred with at least two groups of ancient humans in relatively recent times: the Neanderthals, who lived in Europe and Asia, dying out roughly 30,000 years ago, and a mysterious group known as the Denisovans, who lived in Asia and most likely vanished around the same time....
Name of source: Reuters
SOURCE: Reuters (1-31-12)
(Reuters) - Germany this week returned an ancient pre-Islamic sculpture looted during Afghanistan's civil war, giving hope to Kabul's cultural mavens that the rest of its stolen treasures will also make their way home.
Eight figures, one missing a torso and others without noses, make up the 30-cm high (12 inches) limestone antiquity from the second century AD, a reminder of Afghanistan's rich classical past as a confluence of cultures on the crossroads of Asia.
Faces turned to their left, they are believed to be audience members watching Buddha on his throne in the ancient kingdom of Gandhara, which stretched across part of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Foreign Ministry said....
SOURCE: Reuters (2-1-12)
BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Steps away from Budapest's ornate Parliament building, hidden in a basement studio on a leafy street, art dealer Peter Pinter was holding the third of his hugely successful auctions, entitled 'Going once, going twice... gone for good.'
What Pinter is offering - communist-era art, paintings, sculptures and posters - has gone beyond tourist kitsch and become popular with serious collectors, including locals. Price tags in the thousands of dollars are not uncommon.
"It's retro, it's fashionable," Pinter told Reuters before the auction. "Some people have an urge to do away with this part of their past. Others harbor strong nostalgia toward these objects... You can see people are very intrigued by them."...
Name of source: Discovery News
SOURCE: Discovery News (1-30-12)
In a recent debate Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said that he would like to beat the Chinese back to the moon. He has even been so bold as to propose setting up a manned base by 2020, driven by empowering private industry to take the initiative.
It's ironic to hear moon travel still being debated 40 years after the last Apollo landing in 1972. Between then and now, NASA's small space shuttle fleet filled in for space travel, but astronauts could only venture as far a low earth orbit -- at an altitude much shorter than the distance the early pioneers covered in settling the West.
If there were no Apollo crash program to beat the Soviets to the moon, would we have planned to go to the moon eventually? But this time with a commitment of staying? Or would we never go?...
In the 1960s the X-15 experimental rocket planes were already flying to the edge of space. This would have evolved into a fleet of orbital planes and lifting bodies and the next logical step in aerospace history.
Ideally this would have lead to a single-stage-to orbit vehicle. NASA unsuccessfully tried to build one a decade ago as the X-33. Or perhaps there would have been a mothership acting as piggyback carrier for an orbital space plane, as is now being pursued by Microsoft’s Paul Allen....
SOURCE: Discovery News (1-27-12)
NASA marked a trio of space tragedies with ceremonies at the Kennedy Space Center on Friday and at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday, commemorating the astronauts who lost their lives in accidents.
Forty-five years ago, Apollo 1 astronauts Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee climbed aboard their capsule for a routine pre-launch test. A fire broke out in the cabin, dooming the astronauts. The accident, traced to a design flaw, delayed America's foray to the moon for almost two years.
Saturday marks the 26th anniversary of the Challenger disaster. Astronauts Dick Scobee, Michael Smith, Judy Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, Greg Jarvis and schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe died following the breakup of the space shuttle 73 seconds after liftoff on the cold winter morning of Jan. 28, 1986....
Tragedy struck again on Feb. 1, 2003, when the shuttle Columbia was destroyed 16 minutes before its scheduled touchdown in Florida following a 16-day research mission. The shuttle had been damaged by a piece of insulation that fell off the fuel tank during liftoff and damaged the ship's left wing....
Name of source: Yahoo News
SOURCE: Yahoo News (1-31-12)
A newly discovered letter from a freed former slave to his onetime master is creating a buzz. Letters of Note explains that in August of 1865, a Colonel P.H. Anderson of Big Spring, Tennessee wrote to his former slave Jourdan Anderson, requesting that Jourdan return to work on his farm.
In the time since escaping from slavery, Anderson had become emancipated, moved to Ohio where he found paid work and was now supporting his family. The letter turned up in the August 22 edition of the New York Daily Tribune. Some excerpts:
Sir: I got your letter, and was glad to find that you had not forgotten Jourdon, and that you wanted me to come back and live with you again, promising to do better for me than anybody else can. I have often felt uneasy about you. I thought the Yankees would have hung you long before this, for harboring Rebs they found at your house. I suppose they never heard about your going to Colonel Martin's to kill the Union soldier that was left by his company in their stable. Although you shot at me twice before I left you, I did not want to hear of your being hurt, and am glad you are still living. It would do me good to go back to the dear old home again, and see Miss Mary and Miss Martha and Allen, Esther, Green, and Lee. Give my love to them all, and tell them I hope we will meet in the better world, if not in this. I would have gone back to see you all when I was working in the Nashville Hospital, but one of the neighbors told me that Henry intended to shoot me if he ever got a chance.
SOURCE: Yahoo News (1-30-12)
George Washington wasn't only America's first president, he was also almost its first zombie. After Washington died from an illness in December 1799, his family nearly accepted an offer from a physician who believed he could bring America's first commander in chief back to life.
The website io9 writes that physician William Thornton is best remembered as the first designer of the U.S. Capitol. But he also proposed reviving George Washington's deceased body using a combination of blankets, an air pump and lamb's blood....
Name of source: Guardian (UK)
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (1-31-12)
Archaeologists are notoriously nervous of attributing ritual significance to anything (the old joke used to be that if you found an artefact and couldn't identify it, it had to have ritual significance), yet they still like to do so whenever possible. I used to work on a site in the mid-1980s – a hill fort in Gloucestershire – where items of potential religious note occasionally turned up (a horse skull buried at the entrance, for example) and this was always cause for some excitement, and also some gnashing of teeth at the prospect of other people who weren't archaeologists getting excited about it ("And now I suppose we'll have druids turning up").
The Brodgar complex has, however, got everyone excited. It ticks all the boxes that make archaeologists, other academics, lay historians and pagans jump up and down. Its age is significant: it's around 800 years older than Stonehenge (although lately, having had to do some research into ancient Britain, I've been exercised by just how widely dates for sites vary, so perhaps some caution is called for). Pottery found at Stonehenge apparently originated in Orkney, or was modelled on pottery that did....
Name of source: BBC News
SOURCE: BBC News (1-31-12)
The Sheriff of Nottingham has said he is confident a £25m medieval village tourist attraction could still be built at the foot of Nottingham Castle.
Plans were put forward as part of the Sheriff's Commission two years ago.
The aim of the commission was to suggest how the city could make more of the legend of Robin Hood.
Several investors registered an initial interest in the plans but everything went on hold when the country entered a recession, Councillor Leon Unczer said....
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (2-1-12)
The discovery, hailed as one of the most remarkable in recent times, was made during conservation work and is believed to reveal how the famous sitter would have looked at the time.
"This sensational find will transform our understanding of the world's most famous picture," said Art Newspaper which published the findings.
The Prado painting was long thought to be one of dozens surviving replicas of the masterpiece made after Leonardo's death but it is now believed to have been painted by one of his key pupils working alongside the master.
The Louvre original, displayed behind glass, is obscured by cracked darkened varnish, making the woman appear much older than her true age. Because of its fragility, cleaning and restoration is thought to be too risky....
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (1-31-12)
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentina said it doesn't seek another war over the Falkland Islands, and accused Britain of militarizing their sovereignty dispute by announcing Tuesday that it is sending an advanced warship to the islands along with Prince William "in the uniform of a conquistador."
The assignment of Prince William, a Royal Air Force helicopter pilot, for a six-week military mission in the Falklands in February and March has been a sore point for Argentina. It has sought to reclaim the South Atlantic archipelago that it calls the Malvinas Islands ever since Britain seized the islands some 180 years ago.
Both countries have engaged in a war of words in recent weeks ahead of the 30th anniversary of Argentina's failed attempt to take the islands back. Its invasion ended with more than 600 Argentine soldiers killed and 200 British dead in an international humiliation for Argentina's military junta....
SOURCE: AP (1-31-12)
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service says it will re-authorize a permit for a 57-year-old statue of Jesus that had been facing eviction from a northwestern Montana ski resort.
The agency faced a firestorm of criticism from religious groups, the state's congressman and residents after it decided last fall to boot the Jesus statue from its hillside perch in the trees....