Name of source: NYT
FRANCE and the United States have different notions of liberty, equality and fraternity, though the words look roughly the same in both languages. Methods of combating homegrown terrorism — another French word dating from 1789 — are also quite different, stemming from different histories, legal systems and conceptions of the state....
The French state is highly centralized, not federal. Fed up with a series of bombings in the 1980s, France tried to better coordinate domestic and foreign intelligence with the establishment in 1984 of the Unité de coordination de la lutte anti-terroriste (the coordination unit of the anti-terrorist struggle), or Uclat, and tried something similar within the Justice Ministry.
French law governing intelligence was reformed in 1986 and refined again after 1995 and 2001, with another reform in 2006 by Nicolas Sarkozy, then interior minister, to give even more margin of maneuver to the investigating judges and the police. The Central Directorate of Domestic Intelligence was founded in 2008 as a merger of the intelligence services of the Interior Ministry, which were responsible for counterterrorism and counterespionage, and of the state police....
Saturday, March 31, 2012 - 08:31
The National Archives announced Tuesday that two new leather-bound volumes of an infamous catalog of looted art compiled for Hitler during World War II had been discovered among the possessions of former American soldiers. The albums were compiled by a special Nazi task force, the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg, to document the plundering of French museums and private collections undertaken in part for a museum Hitler planned to build in his hometown, Linz, Austria....
Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 10:05
DAKAR, Senegal — After 50 years of independence, the path to democracy does not follow an obvious, straight line in this region, just as it did not in the West — the model for most citizens here — where it was centuries in the making.
That is the most obvious lesson from the sharply contrasting experiences of two West African nations over the past week: Senegal, where power is being transferred peacefully after a fair election on Sunday, and Mali, where after two decades of relative success, democracy was snuffed out in a military coup on Thursday.
Across the region, democracy, even amid setbacks, seemed to inch forward. In Niger and in Guinea, military rulers gave up power to the people over the last 18 months, while any subsequent encroachments were vigorously resisted. In Ivory Coast, a power grab provoked a citizen uprising, later amplified by foreign firepower. In Liberia, a losing opposition candidate cried foul last fall after an election widely seen as credible, hoping that citizens would follow him, but few did. And in Nigeria, even the chaotic and bloody election of last spring is celebrated as an improvement.
What remained constant is both the aspiration and the discernment of the people. The ordinary citizens wanted a voice, and seemed to know — even in the most depressed slums of Conakry, Niamey, Bamako or Dakar — that democracy was the best way to get it....
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 10:08
Two flags tell much of the story. One is the familiar stars and stripes, spangled with only 34 stars. It’s smudged with dirt and dotted with the bullet holes it acquired in 1863, when it flew over a Union ironclad trying to pierce the defenses of Charleston harbor. The second flag is in even worse shape: a shredded, grimy Confederate banner with holes a cannonball could pass through and several of its 11 stars missing one or more of their points. It was captured 150 years ago this month, when Union soldiers defeated a contingent of Confederates at New Bern, N.C.
Both flags landed in Hartford, where the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art has put its Civil War holdings on display under the title “Colts & Quilts: The Civil War Remembered.” The title is somewhat misleading: there’s only one quilt, and there are only two pistols on view, unless you count the one in William Harnett’s 1890 trompe l’oeil painting “The Faithful Colt.” But this eclectic array, part art exhibit, part history lesson and part fashion show, has an unsettling way of getting under your skin....
Sunday, March 25, 2012 - 09:57
BOSTON — When Gov. Mitt Romney signed legislation in April 2006 requiring most Massachusetts residents to have health coverage, Senator Edward M. Kennedy stood by his side, beaming like a proud father. They were onstage at historic Faneuil Hall in Boston, a setting that had a special resonance for the two.
Twelve years earlier, they shared that stage as opponents in a bitter Senate race. Back then, Mr. Romney accused Mr. Kennedy of waging “untrue, unfair and sleazy” personal attacks. Now, the Republican governor was introducing the liberal Democratic senator as “my collaborator and friend.”
Mr. Romney’s complicated relationship with Mr. Kennedy, from campaign foe to health care partner, helped shape both his political career and his image. Today, as a Republican candidate for president, he is courting conservative voters, a constituency that does not look kindly upon Mr. Kennedy or the Romney approach to health care, which will come under scrutiny again this week when the Supreme Court takes up challenges to a similar measure championed by President Obama.
But try as he might to distance himself, Mr. Romney cannot escape Mr. Kennedy’s influence. On the campaign trail, he uses the senator, who died in 2009, as a foil, denouncing Mr. Kennedy’s “liberal welfare state” policies and boasting of how Mr. Kennedy “had to take out a mortgage on his house to make sure he could defeat me.”...
Sunday, March 25, 2012 - 09:49
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — On the campaign trail, Roy Moore wears a metal pin of a cross on his suit jackets, praises “almighty God” and refers to the United States as a “Christian nation.”
But there is one demonstration of his faith that Mr. Moore, the Republican nominee for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, promises not to make.
“No, I won’t bring back the Ten Commandments,” he said. “Not again.”
It has been nearly a decade since Mr. Moore, then chief justice, became a focus in the national debate over religious liberty by defying a federal order to remove a 5,000-pound granite statue of the holy tablets from his Montgomery courthouse. He lost the fight and was removed from the bench by a state ethics panel in 2003.
But Mr. Moore, 65, is on the verge of a political comeback. In an upset two weeks ago, he won the Republican nomination without a runoff, against two far better financed opponents, including the current chief justice....
Sunday, March 25, 2012 - 09:39
With barely a peep from preservationists, another piece of Texas history was razed in mid-January as bulldozers unceremoniously demolished the prison rodeo arena in Huntsville.
The brick-and-concrete building, which had not held a prison rodeo since 1986, had structural problems, and prison officials determined that repairs to the unsafe stands would be too costly. Representatives from the city offered to help pay for the repairs, but as with all similar entreaties involving the arena over the years, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which oversees the state prison system, turned down the offer.
“They just weren’t interested,” said Jim Willett, director of the Texas Prison Museum and a former warden. The criminal justice department “just doesn’t want to be in the rodeo business.”...
Sunday, March 25, 2012 - 09:33
...In a certain sense, wealthy people could live with a justifiable guiltlessness in “Mad Men” New York. Not because they were blind to the city’s mounting racial crisis or to the perils of smoking or sexism, but rather because, fiscally speaking, they were paying their due. In 1966, which is where the new season finds us, the federal income tax topped out at 70 percent on income over $100,000 (approximately $700,000 in present-day dollars), a figure reduced from 90 percent in a tax cut enacted two years earlier.
Absent were any obvious incentives for amassing perverse amounts of money (and thus there was more time for the languorous lunch). In April 1968, Fortune magazine published a list of those Americans whose net worth exceeded $100 million; the list ended at 153. Today, those in the highest federal income tax bracket will pay 35 percent.
Long-term capital gains taxes were higher than they are today, and so were New York State income taxes: the richest paid 14 percent in 1966; today they pay 8.82 percent, and current law has that figure reverting to 6.85 percent in three years. Moreover, beginning his mayoral tenure in 1966, John Lindsay delivered the city’s first personal income tax....
Sunday, March 25, 2012 - 09:32
HAVANA — Just in the past few days, with a visit here by Pope Benedict XVI looming, the Rev. Roberto Betancourt has witnessed firsthand the difficult position Cuba’s Roman Catholic Church finds itself in as it wields its newfound influence but still struggles to fill its pews....
Benedict faces an odd paradox in what is the first visit by a pope since John Paul II’s in 1998. The church’s profile as an institution has risen sharply in recent years amid a burst of religious tolerance not seen since the 1959 revolution, with church leaders advocating for political and economic freedoms, negotiating the release of dozens of political prisoners in 2010 and counseling the government on plans for re-engineering the economy.
At the same time, the church has struggled to attract more worshipers and faces criticism that it has grown too cozy with Cuba’s tight circle of decision makers....
Friday, March 23, 2012 - 11:12
Modern campaigns are often scientifically plotted operations that leave little to chance. Nowhere is this more obvious than with advertising, which is carefully fashioned from polling, focus groups and demographic research.
But sometimes even the best-laid plans go awry. Consider the story of Ben Stein, George W. Bush and the commercial that never aired.
Late in the summer of 2000, Mr. Bush’s campaign strategists saw their position in the polls improving and got a little cocky. They arranged for Mr. Stein, a comedian and former speechwriter for Richard M. Nixon, to reprise his breakout role as the economics teacher in the film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” for a commercial mocking Al Gore....
Every presidential campaign has commercials that are relegated to the dustbin before they are broadcast. Sometimes, after a second look, the message seems not quite right. Other times, new developments can intervene, forcing a shift in political tactics. And occasionally, the boss just says no....
Friday, March 23, 2012 - 11:06
On an April night 100 years ago, a ship of the Cunard lines called the R.M.S. Carpathia moved up the Hudson River in a ferocious rain, sailing past the line’s home berth at Pier 54, instead going north to Pier 59, near 18th Street.
Today, the pier is home to a golf driving range, a digital studio and a microbrewery. In 1912, it was the pier for ships of the White Star line.
The Carpathia stopped at Pier 59 to drop off White Star property: lifeboats from the R.M.S. Titanic, which it had collected from the North Atlantic three days earlier, when the Carpathia rescued 705 passengers and crew members. The lifeboats were all that was left of the unsinkable Titanic.
Then the Carpathia turned back to its own pier, 54, just south of 14th Street. Thousands of people had gathered to watch it come in and find relatives, or in the case of newspaper reporters, to find stories....
Friday, March 23, 2012 - 11:03
In Gettysburg, Pa., on Tuesday night, Rick Santorum stood on the grounds where more lives were lost than in any other Civil War battle, and where Abraham Lincoln issued his stirring call for unity and democracy. Mr. Santorum, who had just lost the Republican primary in Illinois, called the presidential race the “most important election since the election of 1860.”
Numbers like 1776 and 1860 increasingly pepper his speeches as he stresses the historical urgency of his candidacy. He speaks of his campaign as bearing a torch of freedom and honor first lighted by the signers of the Declaration of Independence. While his supporters need not risk life and fortune as John Hancock and his compatriots did, Mr. Santorum tells his audiences, they can fulfill their own duty by posting pictures with the candidate on Facebook.
As he traveled around Illinois, Mr. Santorum cast himself as the defender of America’s history....
Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 12:37
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
Today, March 29th, should be a significant and melancholy date in the English calendar, known and marked by all schoolchildren. For on Palm Sunday, March 29th 1461, as church bells rang out across the land, two vast armies met on a bleak, snow-swept Yorkshire plateau near the village of Towton to fight what was to be our country's biggest, bloodiest and longest battle.
When it comes to superlatives, Towton has them all. Even England's other epochal, history-changing clashes, Hastings in 1066 and the Somme in 1916, for example, cannot challenge Towton for the butcher's bill of the slain. Hastings was a battle that changed the ethnic, political, and linguistic culture of the land forever, and lasted across an autumn day until dark. Yet neither the numbers that fought there (7/8,000 on each side) nor the casualties inflicted, approach anywhere near the later medieval battle. The first day on the Somme, July 1st 1916, when almost 20,000 died, is generally seen as Britain's greatest military disaster, cutting the flower of the nation down like summer corn. Yet Towton trumped even that bloody day in carnage and sheer savagery. As the Civil War battle of Antietam, America's bloodiest single day, is to the US, so Towton is to England. Why, then, is it not better remembered?...
Friday, March 30, 2012 - 22:00
Anti-semitism campaigners have described a Turkish shampoo commercial featuring Hitler as a 'deplorable marketing ploy'.
The 12-second advert for Biomen shampoo shows the Nazi leader gesticulating wildly during a speech, before the commercial urges customers to buy the '100 per cent male shampoo'.
Underneath the footage of Hitler from an undated speech, there is a caption which translates as, 'If you are not wearing a woman's dress, you should not use her shampoo either'....
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 10:45
An Indiana Jones-style expedition has been launched in Germany to recover £500million worth of missing artworks looted by the Nazis in World War Two.
Monets, Manets, Cezannes and masterpieces by other artists, along with sculptures, carpets and tapestries, are believed to be buried in an old silver mine near the Czech-German border, 90 minutes' drive from the city of Dresden.
The paintings formed the bulk of the Hatvany collection, the property of Baron Ferenc Hatvany, who was a leading Hungarian-Jewish industrialist and art patron....
Monday, March 26, 2012 - 19:42
Name of source: LiveScience
On this day (March 29) 100 years ago, Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott scrawled his last entry into the diary the British navy man had faithfully kept since the start of his ill-fated expedition to the South Pole.
He and his two remaining companions, Henry "Birdie" Bowers, a lieutenant, and Scott's dear friend Edward Wilson, a doctor and artist charged with documenting the uncharted continent's geography, had known death was near....
Friday, March 30, 2012 - 20:14
Manmade mounds shaped like orcas, condors and even a duck may be the oldest evidence of animal mounds outside of North America, according to former University of Missouri anthropologist.
Writing in the magazine Antiquity, Robert Benfer, a professor emeritus, describes a series of mounds, some more than 1,300 feet (400 meters) across, in coastal valleys in Peru. Archaeological evidence at the sites pegs some at more than 4,000 years old.
"It's going to shake everybody's views," Benfer told LiveScience. "The previous oldest animal figures were at Nazca and they're 2,000 years old."...
Friday, March 30, 2012 - 20:14
...The East African Rift Valley, as the region is known, formed where the Somalian and Nubian plates are pulling away from the Arabian Plate. The eastern branch of the rift passes through Ethiopia and Kenya, and the western branch forms a giant arc from Uganda to Malawi.
The eastern branch formed around 25 to 30 million years ago, whereas the western branch formed only 10 to 15 million years ago — or at least that's what scientists thought. Now, new evidence points to an earlier birth date for the western branch, too. [Have There Always Been Continents?]...
Friday, March 30, 2012 - 20:12
Fierce dinosaurs may not have had to contend with many predators, but intense and frequent wildfires may have been a real threat during their reign, new research suggests. Wildfires seem to have left their mark on the archeological record in the form of charcoal deposits.
The researchers discovered these abundant and widespread fires by analyzing the amount of charcoal in the fossil record. They created a global database of charcoal deposits during the Cretaceous Period (the period from 145 million to 65 million years ago). Many of these charcoal deposits were associated with beds of dinosaur fossils.
"Charcoal is the remnant of the plants that were burnt and is easily preserved in the fossil record," study researcher Andrew C. Scott, a professor from Royal Holloway University of London, said in a statement....
Friday, March 30, 2012 - 19:58
Millennia before modern-day military recruiters talked up potential soldiers in shopping malls or put up posters, one Roman city took a rather different approach to recruiting soldiers for the emperor's army.
A newly translated inscription, dating back about 1,800 years, reveals that Oinoanda, a Roman city in southwest Turkey, turned to a mixed martial art champion to recruit for the Roman army and bring the new soldiers to a city named Hierapolis, located hundreds of miles to the east, in Syria.
His name was Lucius Septimius Flavianus Flavillianus and he was a champion at wrestling and pankration, the latter a bloody, and at times lethal, mixed martial art where contestants would try to pound each other unconscious or into submission....
Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 21:08
Name of source: BBC News
The tombstone marking the grave of Adolf Hitler's parents in Austria has been removed, officials say, to end its use as a pilgrimage site for right-wing extremists.
The grave is in Leonding, 10km (six miles), from the city of Linz.
A descendant of the family made the decision, the mayor of Leonding, Walter Brunner, said....
Friday, March 30, 2012 - 19:59
Archaeologists believe they have uncovered the remains of the earliest stringed instrument to be found so far in western Europe.
The small burnt and broken piece of carved piece of wood was found during an excavation in a cave on Skye.
Archaeologists said it was likely to be part of the bridge of a lyre dating to more than 2,300 years ago.
Music archaeologist Dr Graeme Lawson said the discovery marked a "step change" in music history....
Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 21:09
Name of source: adnkronos
Naples, 30 March (AKI) - The European Union has given the green light to a plan to join forces with Italy to jointly spend 105 million euros to keep Pompeii from crumbling.
"We gave our approval to this important restoration work that is not only in the interest of Italy, but for all of Europe's historic patrimony," said European Union Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, on Thursday.
Hahn's commission and Italy from 2000 to 2006 together spent 7.7 million euros on 22 restoration projects at Pompeii.
Highly-publicised collapses of ancient buildings at the UNESCO World Heritage site has prompted an outcry that Italy is neglecting the world's largest archeological site....
Friday, March 30, 2012 - 19:56
Name of source: Victor Fic in the Asia Times
Victor Fic is a veteran journalist on East Asia now living in Toronto.
American William Stearman shot raccoons as a cowboy, fought imperial Japan, outfoxed the KGB in Vienna, predicted the rise of the Berlin Wall, warned Henry Kissinger against unwise concessions to Hanoi - and lived in a haunted Washington house. He recalls the highlights of his storied career as a US foreign service officer and national security council member in this exclusive interview with Asia Times Online contributor Victor Fic based on his recent memoir, An American Adventure: From Early Years Through Three Wars to the White House.
Stearman's academic experience includes part-time service as professor of international relations, faculty of law, University of Saigon, Vietnam (1965-1967) and adjunct professor of international affairs at Georgetown University, Washington, DC (1977-1993). He became a Foreign Service officer after serving in the navy during World War II and was stationed in Austria, Germany and Vietnam. Stearman joined the National Security Council Staff in February 1981 after serving as a member of governor Ronald Reagan's foreign policy advisory team.
Victor Fic: Why do you assert that your dad "quite rightly" is in the aviation hall of fame?
William Stearman: He designed and guided production of the U.S.'s first production-line civilian aircraft, the Swallow. He founded the Stearman Aircraft Company that became Boeing Wichita and there designed, among other planes, the prototype of the primary trainer that most U.S. Army Air Force, U.S. Navy and Royal Navy pilots learned to fly in during World War II. Hundreds still fly today. He was the first president of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, now Lockheed Martin, one of the world's largest defense contractors, and basically designed, with considerable input from others, the Electra 10 airliner...
VF: What is your inside account of the Kennedy-Khrushchev summit?
WS: The June 1961 Vienna summit meeting between President Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was a disaster. Kennedy made a weak and indecisive impression on Khrushchev who was acting the bully. I was privy to the meetings in that I was with our delegation in Vienna. When I started to teach students of international relations at Georgetown University in 1977, I characterized it as "Little Boy Blue meets [gangster] Al Capone." I am convinced that Khrushchev's assessment of Kennedy led him to install missiles in Cuba in 1962, thus bringing us to the brink of World War III. The lesson is summit meetings with hostile leaders can be dangerous or counter productive. But during the Cuban crisis, JFK showed considerable skill in resolving it peacefully....
Friday, March 30, 2012 - 19:49
Name of source: WaPo
Sen. John Kerry warns in a new fundraising appeal that Republicans are intent on “swiftboating” President Obama in the same way that Kerry was attacked when he ran for president in 2004.
In an e-mail plea sent to Obama supporters Thursday, the Massachusetts Democrat points to a $3 million donation to a super PAC supporting Republican Mitt Romney from Bob Perry, a Texas homebuilder who helped fund the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” ads that questioned Kerry’s war record in 2004.
“I know all too clearly that these guys will do or say anything to win. They’ll stop at nothing,” Kerry says in the e-mail. “But forewarned is forearmed. Their multimillion-dollar smear tactics were new in 2004; in 2012 we know their playbook, and shame on us if we don’t tear it into shreds. Join me and we will stop the ‘swiftboating’ of President Obama.”...
Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 21:27
There’s nothing hotter than a hot microphone. Despite decades of cautionary tales, politicians persist in falling into the trap of having their not-made-for-public-consumption words broadcast to the world.
The latest installation in the anthology of live-microphone moments came Monday, when President Obama told Russian President Dmitry Medvedev he’d have “more flexibility” on nuclear missiles after his presidential election. But this was hardly a first.
●President Ronald Reagan may be known as the Great Communicator, but he wasn’t immune to a microphone gaffe. During a sound check before a 1984 radio interview, he warmed up: “My fellow Americans . . . I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever,” he said. “We begin bombing in five minutes.”...
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 17:29
They are joining the Trayvon Martin crusade by the hour now.
It feels like an echo from another era — when there was racial injustice in the headlines, when federal troops were dispatched to comb Southern swamps to look for blacks who had vanished....
“It reminds you of Emmett Till,” said Bernadette Pruitt, an associate professor of history at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Tex., who has written about Southern racial history and can’t stop thinking of Trayvon Martin and his family. “This so-called post-racialism is a figment of our imagination. Race, unfortunately, is still the barometer by which everyone is measured.”
Investigating the killing of the 17-year-old Martin, who was black, by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, is now a top priority for the FBI, senior law enforcement officials said Wednesday....
Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 13:12
Name of source: Discovery News
An ancient stone monolith in England was likely an astronomical marker, according to new archaeological evidence.
The 4,000-year-old stone is triangular in shape and angles up toward geographic south. Its orientation and slant angle are aligned with the altitude of the sun at midsummer, researchers said.
And new evidence shows that there are packing stones around the base of the 7.2-foot tall (2.2-meter) monolith, indicating that it was placed carefully in its location and position, they added....
Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 21:22
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and founder of the private spaceflight company Blue Origin, has announced that he's located the F-1 engines that launched Apollo 11 to the moon.
In the privately funded venture, Bezos' team used state-of-the-art deep sea sonar to hunt for the space artifacts that have sat 14,000 feet (4.2 kilometers) under the Atlantic Ocean for over 40 years.
The five powerful engines of the most famous Saturn V rocket burned for only a few minutes on July 16, 1969, sending Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to an altitude of 38 miles (61 kilometers) before the first stage of the rocket separated and the second-stage engines took over (pictured top). First stage, plus empty fuel tanks and engines, fell back to Earth for a splashdown in the ocean.
Once used, they were expendable, forgotten in their underwater junkyard. In the early days of space exploration, sustainability wasn't high on the list of priorities, so dumping spent rocket engines into the sea was the norm....
Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 15:46
Madagascar was first settled and founded by approximately 30 women, mostly of Indonesian descent, who may have sailed off course in a wayward vessel 1200 years ago.
The discovery negates a prior theory that a large, planned settlement process took place on the island of Madagascar, located off the east coast of Africa. Traditionally it was thought to have been settled by Indonesian traders moving along the coasts of the Indian Ocean.
Most native Madagascar people today, called Malagasy, can trace their ancestry back to the founding 30 mothers, according to an extensive new DNA study published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society B,. Researchers focused on mitochondrial DNA, passed down from mothers to their offspring. Scientists assume some men were with the women....
Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 15:57
Name of source: News 24
Washington - Litter bugs on the high seas are fouling the Titanic's watery grave with beer cans, plastic cups, even soap boxes, a century after the "unsinkable" luxury liner went down, experts said.
Contrary to popular belief, the wreck of history's greatest maritime disaster is not swiftly rusting away 3 780m under the North Atlantic. In fact, it looks likely to stay intact for many decades to come.
"The basic hull remains very strong and very solid," said James Delgado, director of the marine heritage program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a US federal agency....
Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 21:10
Name of source: National Geographic
...April Fools' Day Origins a Mystery
The origins of April Fools' Day are shrouded in mystery, experts say.
The most popular theory is that France changed its calendar in the 1500s so that the New Year would begin in January to match the Roman calendar instead of beginning at the start of spring, in late March or early April.
However, word of the change traveled slowly, and many people in rural areas continued to celebrate the New Year in the spring. These country dwellers became known as "April fools," the story goes....
Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 21:06
Name of source: Fox News
CLEVELAND – Ancient foot bones discovered in Ethiopia point to the existence of a previously-unknown human ancestor whose feet were specially adapted to tree climbing.
U.S. and Ethiopian scientists said that a 3.4 million-year-old partial foot found in Burtele, in the remote Afar region of Ethiopia, belonged to a prehuman who coexisted with the famous "Lucy" species, Australopithecus afarensis.
Scientists have long argued that there was only one prehuman species between three and four million years ago, but the fossilized foot bones provide the first indisputable evidence that at least two prehuman species with different modes of movement lived at the same time in East Africa....
Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 13:05
Name of source: 3-27-12
The opening scenes of the Season 5 premiere of “Mad Men,” set in 1966, depicted a sort of knucklehead-racism at work, when young men from the advertising agency Young & Rubicam dropped bags filled with water on protesters picketing on the Madison Avenue sidewalk below. Wet and angry, several protesters came upstairs to demand to know who at the firm had dropped the water bombs.
One protester said in disgust, “And they call us savages.”
Some critics found the scene, broadcast on Sunday, a bit too on-the-nose. “It’s a terrible line that should have been red-penciled,” wrote Matt Zoller Seitz for New York magazine. Mike Hale of The New York Times called it “unfortunately ham-handed.”
But no writer is to blame.
Everything in the scene really happened, written almost verbatim from an article on Page 1 of The Times on May 28, 1966....
Thursday, March 29, 2012 - 10:05
Name of source: ABC 7 Chicago
March 26, 2012 (HAVANA, Cuba) (WLS) -- Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Cuba Monday after a three-day trip to Mexico. He will travel to Havana on Tuesday for meetings, events and an outdoor Mass.
The pope is on the final leg of his Latin American tour. The visit to Cuba comes 14 years after John Paul II's historic visit.
Cuba's communist government never outlawed religion, but it expelled priests and closed religious schools after Fidel Castro's takeover in 1959....
Unlike Chicago which has made a concerted effort to rid the city of its gangland history, the Chicago Outfit is part of the city's fabric in Havana.
Just 90 miles from the tip of Florida, American mobsters began using Cuba as their headquarters for offshore rackets in the early 1920s running rum, loan-sharking, prostitution and gambling and eventually the mob's initial cocaine trade....
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 17:30
Name of source: AP
WASHINGTON (AP) — The three days of arguments beginning before the Supreme Court on Monday may mark a turning point in a century of debate over what role the government should play in helping all Americans afford medical care. A look at the issue through the years:
Former President Theodore Roosevelt champions national health insurance as he tries to ride his progressive Bull Moose party back to the White House. It's an idea ahead of its time; health insurance is a rarity and medical fees are relatively low because doctors cannot do much for most patients. But medical breakthroughs are beginning to revolutionize hospitals and drive up costs. Roosevelt loses the race.
Baylor Hospital in Texas originates group health insurance. Dallas teachers pay 50 cents a month to cover up to 21 days of hospital care per year. The plan grows into Blue Cross....
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 17:27
Name of source: MSNBC
A Virginia man convicted of taking more than 9,000 artifacts from a Civil War battlefield was engaged in "heartbreaking" destruction of American history, experts say.
John Jeffrey Santo, 52, has been sentenced to 366 days in prison and must also pay $7,346 restitution to the Petersburg National Battlefield for damage caused by his excavations, according to the decision handed down Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge James Spencer....
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, investigators recovered more than 9,000 relics, including bullets, buckles, cannonballs, breastplates and buttons when they caught up with Santo last year. Authorities also found a handwritten journal the man kept of his illegal excavation trips, which happened regularly between 2006 and 2010....
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 16:35
Name of source: The Slovak Spectator
A special train was dispatched from the Poprad railway station to Auschwitz, Poland on March 23 to mark the 70th anniversary of the first transport of Jewish women from Slovakia to the Nazi concentration camp on March 25, 1942. In addition to students, historians and philosophers, the event was attended by outgoing Prime Minister Iveta Radičová, the SITA newswire reported.
The event was attended by Edita Grosmanová, who was among the thousand young women on the train in 1942. Grosmanová, the wife of the author of book which later became the blueprint for Oscar-awarded film Obchod na korze (The Shop on Main Street), returned to Auschwitz after 70 years, saying that “the God wanted it like this”, the Sme daily reported.
“If I were talking for 24 hours, it would not be even a percentage of the things that I have experienced,” she said, as quoted by Sme. “Millions of seconds of fear; I ask all [people], especially the young ones, to talk, talk, talk.”...
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 16:32
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
For centuries the Turin Shroud, regarded by some as the burial cloth of Jesus, by others as the most elaborate hoax in history, has inspired extraordinary and conflicting passions. Popes, princes and paupers have for 700 years been making pilgrimages the length of Europe to stand in its presence while scientists have dedicated their whole working lives to trying to explain rationally how the ghostly image on the cloth, even more striking when seen as a photographic negative, and matching in every last detail the crucifixion narrative, could have been created. And still a final, commonly agreed answer remains elusive, despite carbon-dating in 1988 having pronounced it a forgery.
“That’s what first attracted me,” says Thomas de Wesselow, an engagingly serious 40-year-old Cambridge academic. “I’ve always loved a mystery ever since I was a boy.” And so he became the latest in a long line to abandon everything to try to solve the riddle of the Shroud.
Eight years ago, de Wesselow was a successful art historian, based at King’s College, making a name for himself in scholarly circles by taking a fresh look at centuries-old disputes over the attribution of masterpieces of Renaissance painting. Today, he still lives in the university city – we are sitting in its Fitzwilliam Museum café – but de Wesselow has thrown up his conventional career and any hopes of a professorial chair to join the ranks of what he laughingly calls “shroudies”.
“In academia, the subject of the Shroud is seen as toxic,” he reports, “and no one wants to open the can of worms, but try as I might I just couldn’t resist it as an intellectual puzzle.”...
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 14:08
Name of source: CBS Baltimore
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — More than a dozen historic landmarks in Baltimore may be up for sale soon.
But as Gigi Barnett reports, the city first wants to know how much they will bring in first.
The city says its historic buildings are a liability, an eyesore and a drain on its pockets.
Baltimore’s Shot Tower was the tallest building in the nation back in 1828 and became a national historic landmark in the early 1970s. The city says it wants to know how much the Shot Tower is worth to a private developer....
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 09:48
Name of source: WTOP
WASHINGTON - You may think of the National Mall or the C&O Canal as a nice place to have lunch or spend a quiet Sunday afternoon, but those locations are also part of some big business for the National Capitol Region.
National parks in D.C., Maryland and Virginia generated more than $1.8 billion in revenue in 2010 from 58 million visitors and supported more than 22,000 related jobs.
National Parks Service Spokesman Bill Line says that includes spending on all kinds of things.
"Hotels, restaurants, souvenirs, books, photography items, taxi cabs, pedi-cabs," he says....
Tuesday, March 27, 2012 - 09:47
Name of source: National Parks Traveler
History, both protecting vestiges of it and interpreting it, is one of the central missions of the National Park Service. But a new report says the agency is largely failing that mission, both from a lack of investment as well as from an approach to telling history almost with blinders on. As a result, the report says history in the parks is considered to be "endangered."
Those findings, reached by the Organization of American Historians, come in the wake of a similar report from the National Parks Conservation Association that also said the Park Service's history programs and resources were suffering from problems ranging from landscapes being impacted by development and artifacts affected by “decay and damage" to even "outdated scholarship."
The latest study, Imperiled Promise, The State Of History in the National Park Service, was performed at the request of the Park Service. It was prepared by Anne Mitchell Whisnant (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Marla Miller (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), Gary Nash (University of California, Los Angeles), and David Thelen (Indiana University). They reached out to more than 1,500 Park Service staff with some responsibility for history with a questionaire that was completed by 544. Additionally, the study was prepared with insights from retired and current NPS administrators, managers, and "official" historians....
Monday, March 26, 2012 - 19:41
Name of source: Salon
The Cuban intelligence service, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, connived in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, according to a new book by a retired CIA analyst. Coming from Brian Latell, the Agency’s former national intelligence officer for Latin America, the charge is both sensational and uncorroborated, yet still important.
Latell says flatly that Castro played a role in Kennedy’s murder in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.
“Castro and a small number of Cuban intelligence officers were complicit in Kennedy’s death but … their involvement fell short of an organized assassination plot,” he writes in “Castro’s Secrets: The CIA and Cuba’s Intelligence Machine,” a well-footnoted polemic about Cuba’s General Directorate of Intelligence to be published next month. Latell says accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald told Cuban diplomats in Mexico City in September 1963 that he might kill JFK. Latell also speculates, without any direct evidence, that Oswald kept the Cubans apprised of his plans as he made his way to Dallas.
The charge is sensational because Latell is the highest-ranking former CIA official to ever accuse the Cuban leader of personal responsibility for JFK’s death. It is uncorroborated because much of the evidence Latell cites in the book is not in the public record or available to JFK scholars. Even the CIA is keeping its distance. When I asked the Agency to comment on Latell’s thesis on Wednesday, a spokesperson replied, “You can report the CIA declined comment.”...
Friday, March 23, 2012 - 11:57
Name of source: Southern California Public Radio
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — The Woody Guthrie Centennial celebrates the life and music of the iconic folk singer, who was probably best known for his simple, vocal-heavy songs -- most notably, "This land is your land."
Guthrie was born in 1912 and died in 1967, and next month, the Grammy Museum and the Guthrie archives are hosting a series of events to celebrate his widespread cultural impact on the 100th anniversary of his birthday.
From April 9th to the 14th, the Centennial will include an educational conference at USC titled, "This Great And Crowded City: Woody Guthrie’s Los Angeles," a plaque dedication and a finale tribute performance by a variety of musical heavyweights....
Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 14:30
Name of source: Irish Times
Hill of Tara What is it? The Hill of Tara, near Navan, Co Meath, is a limestone ridge that holds a wealth of historic detail in its mounds and earthworks.
It was the seat of the high kings of Ireland, making it the most important centre of political and religious power in pre-Christian Ireland. Here the five roads of ancient Ireland converged; from the top you can understand its strategic position better, as you can see up to 12 counties.
Why visit? If you don’t like the parades on St Patrick’s Day, it’s the perfect place to go for a sense of history, fresh air and open space. The most important thing to take with you (apart from warm and waterproof clothing) is an interest in how people lived thousands of years ago. Thirty monuments are visible on the hill itself, with more than 100 others underground. The most significant ones include the 5,000-year-old passage tomb called the Mound of the Hostages, which was a burial ground and pagan sanctuary for 1,500 years. The Fort of the Kings, or Royal Enclosure, is an Iron Age hill fort where enthronements and other ceremonies took place. The Hill of Tara was also the location for Daniel O’Connell’s last Monster Meeting, in 1843, at which he campaigned for home rule and repeal of the Act of Union....
Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 13:33
This incongruously elegant jewelled pendant was recovered from the wreck site of the Spanish galleass ‘Girona’, which sank off Lacada Point, on the north Antrim coast, in the autumn of 1588.
‘Girona’ was part of the largest invasion fleet yet assembled, the great armada of 130 ships that set sail from Lisbon on May 30th, 1588. Its aim, as part of Philip II’s crusade against Protestant “heretics”, was to take control of England, depose Elizabeth I and re-establish a Catholic monarchy. (Philip had been married to Elizabeth’s sister and predecessor, Mary.) Spain and England were already fighting a proxy war in the Low Countries; Philip was now intent on a comprehensive victory.
On board the ships was a vast store of ordnance, including the massive siege guns intended to batter down the walls of London....
Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 13:32
Name of source: CS Monitor
Belfast was a byword for gloom during the Troubles that spanned from the late 1960s to late 1990s, but it is experiencing a new vitality.
Ironically this coincides with the anniversary of the tragedy of the RMS Titanic, which sank 100 years ago on April 15 with a loss of more than 1,500 lives. Belfast is set to commemorate this sad milestone with church services and other events....
Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 13:23
Name of source: Spiegel Online
What did a medieval stonemason do when heavy rainfall interrupted his work? Umbrellas are impractical at construction sites. Gore-Tex jackets weren't yet invented, nor were plastic rain jackets. "He donned a jacket made of felted loden cloth," says Bert Geurten, the man who plans to build an authentic monastery town the old-fashioned way.
Felted loden jackets will also be present on rainy days at Geurten's building site, which is located near Messkirch, in the southwestern German state of Baden-Württemberg, between the Danube River and Lake Constance. Beginning in 2013, a Carolingian monastery town will be built here using only the materials and techniques of the 9th century. From the mortar to the walls, the rain jackets to the menu, every aspect of the operation will be carried out as just as it was in the days of Charlemagne. "We want to work as authentically as possible," says Geurten.
The building contractor from the Rhineland region has long dreamt of carrying out his plan. When he was a teenager, the now 62-year-old was inspired by a model of the St. Gallen monastery plan in an exhibition in his home city of Aachen. The plan, dating from the beginning of the 9th century, shows the ideal monastery, as envisioned by Abbot Haito of Reichenau....
Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 11:10
Name of source: CNN.com
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- It's unlikely that a Revolutionary War rifle will save Harrisburg, Pa., but it could help.
The financially troubled capital of Pennsylvania is hosting an auction of artifacts this summer in hopes of raising enough money to close the gap between the city's revenue and operating costs.
The loot is the end result of a failed plan to open several new museums in the city after it made substantial acquisitions of art and artifacts.
Former Mayor Stephen Reed, who served from 1981 to 2009, hoped new museums would spur tourism and economic growth in this town of just under 50,000 residents. But while one Civil War museum was built, institutes devoted to sports history, African-American history and the Wild West that were planned never got off the ground....
Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 11:09
Name of source: Weymouth People (UK)
The Princess Royal came face to face with another royal with a remarkably good seat on a horse when she inspected a newly restored Dorset landmark.
The gigantic figure of King George III on horseback was carved out of a steep chalk hillside at Osmington, near Weymouth in 1808, as a 'thank you' to the king who put Weymouth on the holiday map.
Over the years the 260ft figure's outline had become distorted and it has taken three years for local volunteers and organisations, including Dorset County Council, the Osmington Society and English Heritage to return it to its original glory.
The Royal Engineers and Dorset Army Cadets also helped remove the Portland stone chippings which had been used in recent years to cover the King and his white horse, Adonis, revealing the original chalky bedrock. Engineers from 702 Naval Air Squadron, based at Yeovilton, helped out....
Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 11:05