Name of source: NYT
A potentially explosive re-examination of the circumstances behind the death of Yasir Arafat, the symbol of thePalestinian national struggle, has galvanized Palestinian suspicions that he was poisoned and led the Palestinian Authority to agree in principle on Wednesday to an exhumation of his remains, possibly within days.
Mr. Arafat’s widow, Suha, called for the exhumation a day earlier in an interview with Al Jazeera, the Arabic television channel based in Qatar, after it reported that Mr. Arafat might have been poisoned with polonium, a rare radioactive isotope associated with K.G.B.-style assassination intrigues.
Saeb Erekat, a close aide of the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, said by telephone that once the religious authorities and Mr. Arafat’s relatives had given the go-ahead, an exhumation could take place “in the coming days.”
Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - 19:51
Fragments of ancient pottery found in southern China turn out to date back 20,000 years, making them the world’s oldest known pottery — 2,000 to 3,000 years older than examples found in East Asia and elsewhere.
The ceramics probably consisted of simple concave vessels that were likely used for cooking food, said Ofer Bar-Yosef, an archaeologist at Harvard and an author of the study, which appears in the journal Science.
“What it seems is that in China, the making of pottery started 20,000 years ago and never stopped,” he said. “The Chinese kitchen was always based on cooking and steaming; they never made, as in other parts of Asia, breads.”
The crockery, found in Xianrendong Cave in Jiangxi Province, belonged to a group of mobile foragers, Dr. Bar-Yosef said. They were a hunting and gathering community; plant cultivation and agriculture probably did not arrive until about 10,000 years later....
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 10:32
AHMEDABAD, India — The police stood by as Hindu mobs slaughtered nearly 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, in massacres that evidence suggests were an election-year ploy by state officials to garner votes. Mothers were skewered, children set afire and fathers hacked to pieces.
That was 10 years ago. A decade later, the riots in Gujarat State may be remembered less for the horrors they unleashed, however, than that such sectarian carnage, which once struck India as often as a heavy monsoon, has not been repeated since. There are many reasons for this astonishing quiescence, but technology has played a crucial role. The killers made cellphone calls, and records of those calls became evidence.
After years of dithering, India’s creaky justice system lurched into action. Hundreds of rioters have been convicted, and more cases are pending. On Saturday, a judge trying 61 defendants — including a former state education minister — delayed issuing verdicts until Aug. 29 in a case that involves about 94 deaths. A total of 327 people testified, but the crucial evidence, again, was the phone records contradicting claims by some of the accused that they were nowhere near the scene of the crimes....
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 10:11
GALVESTON — Jack Johnson stood on a pedestal behind Old Central Cultural Center, ready to throw a left hook and then come back with a right.
On the grounds surrounding the life-size bronze statue of Mr. Johnson, the first black heavyweight boxing champion, workers dug trenches in preparation for the opening of what will be Jack Johnson Park, Galveston’s latest effort to reclaim its most famous son since turning its back on him a century ago....
Not until Jack Johnson Park has there been a concerted effort to lionize Mr. Johnson.
“The city paid $150,000 to do this park” because some Galvestonians “want to apologize for what the city officials didn’t do back then,” Douglas W. Matthews, the coordinator of the project, said in a phone interview....
Monday, July 2, 2012 - 10:32
The “Star Trek” shuttle craft from the U.S.S. Enterprise sold Thursday at auction for more than $70,000 after a bidding war, the Associated Press reported....
Monday, July 2, 2012 - 10:26
The Park Avenue Armory’s Board of Officers Room is to be restored by the architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron with a $15 million gift from the Thompson Family Foundation. The gift — from Angela Thompson and the family of Wade F. B. Thompson, the founding chairman of Park Avenue Armory, who died in 2009 — brings the family’s total Armory donations to $50 million....
Monday, July 2, 2012 - 10:26
MOSCOW — On one jasmine-shaded block in the Syrian port city of Latakia, Natalya lives three doors away from Nina, two from Olga, across a narrow alley from Tatyana, and a short walk from Yelena, Faina and Nadezhda. They are all women from the former Soviet Union who married Syrian men. Pan out to the greater expanse of Syria and the number of Russian wives grows to 20,000, the human legacy of a cold war alliance that, starting in the 1960s, mingled its young elites in Soviet dormitories and classrooms.
This unusual diaspora offers some insight into the many-stranded relationship between the two countries, one that makes the Kremlin reluctant to cast off Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. Russia has strategic interests in Syria, including arms contracts that amount to $700 million a year, and a tiny port on the Mediterranean Sea that is its last military base outside the former Soviet Union.
But there is also a human factor, set in motion 50 years ago when social ties were forged among young people who met in college. Walk into any government ministry or corporate headquarters in Syria and you will almost certainly find men who spent their 20s in Russia; many brought home wives and raised children in Russian-speaking households....
Monday, July 2, 2012 - 10:18
BAMAKO, Mali (Reuters) — Islamist militants, wielding pickaxes, began destroying the mausoleums of Muslim saints in the northern city of Timbuktu on Saturday, witnesses said.
The militants from the group Ansar Dine, which controls much of northern Mali, adhere to a strict version of Islamic law and consider the shrines of the local Sufi version of Islam idolatrous.
Just days ago, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or Unesco, put Timbuktu on its list of endangered world heritage sites, fearing damage to landmarks and cultural treasures in the wake of a coup that ousted Mali’s government in March....
Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 16:51
Name of source: Reuters
The Codex Calixtinus, a 12th century collection of sermons and liturgical passages, vanished from a safe deposit box in the cathedral, the endpoint of the ancient pilgrimage route the Camino de Santiago.
The elaborately illustrated manuscript, considered an important part of Spain's cultural and religious heritage, has yet to be found, though the police say they are close.
The key suspect is a man who was sacked after working for the cathedral as a caretaker, electrician and odd job man for more than 25 years, police said in a statement.
Police said they had also recovered at least 1.2 million euros ($1.5 million), eight copies of the Codex and other ancient books that had also disappeared from the cathedral, during searches of garages, houses and storage rooms.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - 18:45
Name of source: AP
A $2.2 million expedition is hoping to finally solve one of America's most enduring mysteries: What exactly happened to famed aviator Amelia Earhart when she went missing over the South Pacific 75 years ago?
A group of scientists, historians and salvagers think they have a good idea, and they began a trek Tuesday from Honolulu to a remote island in the Pacific nation of Kiribati in hopes of finding wreckage of Earhart's Lockheed Electra plane in nearby waters.
Their working theory is that Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan landed on a reef near the Kiribati atoll of Nikumaroro, then survived a short time.
"Everything has pointed to the airplane having gone over the edge of that reef in a particular spot, and the wreckage ought to be right down there," said Ric Gillespie, the founder and executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery, the group leading the search....
Previous visits to the island have recovered artifacts that could have belonged to Earhart and Noonan, and experts say an October 1937 photo of the shoreline of the island could include a blurry image of the strut and wheel of a Lockheed Electra landing gear....
Wednesday, July 4, 2012 - 00:47
The construction of Julian Sellers' bungalow in St. Paul, Minn., was started in 1926 and finished in early 1927. The builder was a Swedish immigrant. The family who first lived there included a married couple, their 6-year-old daughter and the wife's mother.
Sellers learned all this by sorting through building permits, tax records, city directories, maps, old newspapers on microfilm and more. A retired software engineer and a member of the Twin Cities Bungalow Club, he has chronicled the history of the structure, its environs and the people who lived in it. He even met that 6-year-old daughter when she was in her late 80s.
"It's fun to know that other families have lived here — children have grown up and been nurtured in this house," said Sellers. "Each family makes it their own and has their own life and experiences here. It's fun to get that feeling of continuity."...
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 10:57
Israel's national Holocaust memorial has toned down its account of Pope Pius XII's conduct toward the massacre of Jews during of World War II, following a long diplomatic dispute with the Vatican.
Critics have long contended that Pius, who was pope from 1939 to 1958, could have done more to stop the Holocaust, when 6 million Jews were killed. Before his election as pope, he also served as the Vatican's No. 2 and before that as the papal envoy to Germany.
Given his deep involvement in the Vatican's diplomatic affairs with the Nazis, what Pius did or didn't do during the war has become the single most divisive issue in Vatican-Jewish relations.
A wall panel at the Yad Vashem memorial installed on Sunday still lists occasions when the wartime pontiff did not protest the slaughter of Europe's Jews. But it also offers the views of defenders who say the church's "neutrality" helped to save lives...
Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 23:44
Islamist rebels said Sunday they will continue to destroy historic sites in Mali's northern city of Timbuktu before they implement strict Shariah law, as Mali's government compared the destruction to "war crimes" and said they would seek international justice.
resident Bouya Ould Sidi Mohamed said the historic city has long had Muslim roots.
"Timbuktu was an Islamic city since the 12th century, and we know what the religion says about the saints' tombs," he said. "Contrary to what the Islamists or the Wahabis of Ansar Dine say, here in Timbuktu, the people don't love the saints like God, but just seek the saints' blessings because they are our spiritual guides."
"The council of ministers has just approved, in principle, the referral to the International Criminal Court and a working group is working to this end," the government said in a statement.
The U.N. cultural agency on Saturday called for an immediate halt to the destruction of three sacred Muslim tombs. Irina Bokova, who heads the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, cited in a statement Saturday reports the centuries-old mausoleums of Sidi Mahmoud, Sidi, Moctar and Alpha Moya had been destroyed.
On Thursday, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, placed the mausoleums of Muslim saints on its list of sites in danger at the request of Mali's government....
Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 23:42
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
'Britain's Atlantis' - a hidden underwater world swallowed by the North Sea - has been discovered by divers working with science teams from the University of St Andrews.
Doggerland, a huge area of dry land that stretched from Scotland to Denmark was slowly submerged by water between 18,000 BC and 5,500 BC.
Divers from oil companies have found remains of a 'drowned world' with a population of tens of thousands - which might once have been the 'real heartland' of Europe.
A team of climatologists, archaeologists and geophysicists has now mapped the area using new data from oil companies - and revealed the full extent of a 'lost land' once roamed by mammoths....
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 11:13
Name of source: Yahoo News
A glittering mosaic of colored stones once decorated an ancient synagogue floor with scenes of the Biblical hero Samson getting revenge on the Philistines.
This newly excavated discovery in the ancient Jewish village of Huqoq not only depicts an unusual scene — Samson tying torches to foxes' tails in order to burn his enemies' crops — it's also remarkably high-quality, said dig archaeologist Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
In a mosaic, "the smaller the cubes, the finer the work," Magness told LiveScience. "Our cubes are very small and fine."...
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 11:05
Name of source: KARE 11 (MN)
ST. PAUL, Minn. - The U.S.-Dakota War of 1862 lasted six weeks.
The Minnesota History Center has been intensely researching the topic for the better part of two years talking to dozens of direct descendents of settlers and native people who have spread out across the nation and into Canada. Researchers work will be on display beginning June 30.
"There aren't two sides to this story. This is like a mosaic," History Center Director Dan Spock said.
This divisive war has been a very controversial topic for decades for hundreds of people on the home front in Minnesota. The Dakota Sioux hope to rewrite history hoping the story is told from beginning to end. Tribal historians have been trying to educate people on what happened that led up to the conflict and what happened to the native people afterwards....
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 10:55
Name of source: WaPo
Venice — The once-majestic 17th-century Palazzo Manfrin, one of this city’s most important architectural sites, is falling apart. Its white neoclassical facade is crumbling, several wooden doors are splintering, and its floor-to-ceiling frescoes have faded from age and water damage.
The dire condition of the building has catapulted it to the top of the local government’s list for restorations. But after multiple rounds of cuts to its budget, there simply isn’t enough money.
So this year, local leaders made a painful decision. They put the palace up for sale.
Two years into Europe’s financial crisis, which has governments slashing spending in a bid to tame runaway debts, the region is facing a cultural calamity for which there is no emergency bailout fund. Historical buildings, churches, monuments, bridges, barracks, archaeological ruins and other sites are disintegrating from neglect. Local governments, desperate to find a way to preserve these sites before it is too late, are making up for budget shortfalls by hanging ads, selling usage rights and, in some cases, putting the structures themselves on the market....
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 10:35
Name of source: NBC Nightly News (with video)
It’s one of the most perplexing mysteries of our time – what happened to the famed aviator who set out to circle the globe? It’s believed that her plane went down near a group of small islands in the Pacific and now researchers are planning to scan the depths of the ocean near where her plane may have crashed. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 00:16
Name of source: Irish Times
MARTIN McGUINNESS told Queen Elizabeth that he recognised her family was directly affected by the Troubles in the IRA killing of Lord Louis Mountbatten, he disclosed at the weekend.
Sinn Féin Deputy First Minister and former IRA commander Mr McGuinness also linked speculation about a possible apology, from the former IRA leadership for the deaths and injuries it was responsible for, to a Sinn Féin project seeking reconciliation with unionists.
Mr McGuinness, in an RTÉ television interview with Miriam O’Callaghan on Saturday night, revealed how, during his private meeting with the queen and Prince Philip in the Lyric Theatre in Belfast on Wednesday, he spoke of the killing of Lord Mountbatten in Co Sligo in 1979....
Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 23:51
Name of source: Bend Bulletin
The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the traditional birthplace of Christ, was added (along with the Pilgrimage Route) to UNESCO’s World Heritage List on Friday, a move that was celebrated by Palestinians who hailed it as a significant political and diplomatic achievement as much as a cultural one.
Perhaps the biggest tourist attraction in the West Bank, the shrine is administered by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian churches. It is run according to a 19th-century codex that assigns responsibilities for upkeep that are jealously guarded by each denomination.
The move is not untainted by politics. The venerated church is in what is now a Palestinian-administered part of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. It was the first such site to be nominated since Palestine was granted full membership in UNESCO eight months ago. Israel and the United States lobbied strongly against the church’s listing. The vote was 13-6. The Palestinians argued that the church is in urgent need of repairs, particularly a leaky wooden roof. The church is also the site that Palestinian gunmen, clerics and civilians occupied in 2002, taking refuge as Israeli tanks and troops pushed into Bethlehem....
Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 18:52
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
For almost a century, the sinking of the passenger liner RMS Lusitania has remained shrouded in secrecy, with claims that the British bore some of the responsibility for the disaster by hiding a secret cargo of high explosives on board.
But new research has established the facts behind vessel's loss and cleared the British government of the charges against it.
The Cunard liner was torpedoed on 7 May 1915 by a German submarine, U-20, while on route from New York to London. It sank in just 18 minutes, eight miles off the coast of Ireland, with the loss of 1,198 civilian lives. Most of the dead were British although 114 Americans were also killed....
Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 16:49
Name of source: Fox News
In what is considered to be one of the most significant hieroglyphic discoveries in decades, archaeologists in Guatemala, announced the uncovering of panels reportedly showing the second-known reference to the Mayan 2012 "end date."
The 1,300 year-old panels uncovered in Guatemala City, Guatemala, featured inscriptions showing a military victory visit to the city La Corona by the ruler of the Mayan city of Calakmul, Reuters reports.
"I was very amazed and amused yesterday to notice that that panel records the date of the end of the 13th baktun (20 cycles of the Mayan long count calendar), which for us is coming up in just a few months time in December of 2012," Dr. David Stuart of the University of Texas at Austin told Reuters....
Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 16:46
Name of source: CBS
"Twelve different doctors inserted unsterilized fingers and instruments in Garfield's back probing for this bullet," Millard recounted, "and the first examination took place on the train station floor. I mean, you can't imagine a more germ-infested environment."
American doctors at the time didn't believe germs existed at all. And according to Dr. Jeffrey Reznick of the National Library of Medicine, they rejected the use of antiseptics pioneered by British surgeon Joseph Lister, for whom Listerine would later be named "Lister, an Englishman, embraced this theory in the early 1860s," said Reznick. "American doctors did not believe in the Listerian Theory because they subscribed to the miasma theory, the fact that bad air caused disease and illness, not germs. They didn't believe in germs - germs you couldn't see."...
Sunday, July 1, 2012 - 14:23