Name of source: Fox News
ALBANY, N.Y. – The upstate New York village that bills itself as the birthplace of the U.S. Navy hasn't done much to preserve one of the service's oldest warship relics: the hull of a schooner that was the first in a long line of American vessels to carry the name Ticonderoga.
The wooden remains of the War of 1812 ship are displayed in a long, open-sided shed on the grounds of the Skenesborough Museum in Whitehall. They've been stored there since being raised from the southern end of Lake Champlain by a local historical group more than 50 years ago. Now, with the approach of 200th anniversary of the battle at which the first Ticonderoga gained its fame, a maritime historian is hoping something can be done to stem the deterioration of a rare naval artifact....
Monday, December 31, 2012 - 18:34
Name of source: UCLA
A metal detector received as a Christmas gift led a young boy to find a WWII bomb buried in a British field.
Parents do not typically expect a stocking stuffer, this one a metal detector from National Geographic, to make the headlines. This holiday present is worthy of attention for leading to the discovery of a WWII bomb buried in a field in Norfolk, England.
During his first jaunt with the detector, seven-year-old Sonny Cater was scanning a field near his home when he discovered the metal capsule. The boy, accompanied by his parents and brother, was alerted to the buried object when the metal detector began beeping....
Monday, December 31, 2012 - 13:58
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
It has stood the test of time for 3,000 years - enduring harsh winters and millennia of use.
But the recent deluge of rain has become too much for one of Britain's oldest bridges and it has been swept away by a raging river.
The 180ft iconic clapper bridge Tarr Steps in Exmoor, Somerset, which dates back to around 1000 B.C., is the latest landmark to be hit by the aftermath of weeks of relentless downpours....
Monday, December 31, 2012 - 13:56
A poignant account of the German general Erwin Rommel being led away to his death told by his teenage son has been discovered.
In a revealing letter written by Manfred Rommel, he tells of his father's last moments after he was ordered to commit suicide by Adolf Hitler.
His father explained to him he had to poison himself after being implicated in a plot to assassinate the Nazi dictator.
The 15-year-old described watching Rommel, known as the 'Desert Fox', being led into a staff car by two German generals minutes later....
Monday, December 31, 2012 - 13:54
She is regarded as our greatest black Briton, a woman who did more to advance the cause of nursing - and race relations - than almost any other individual.
On the Crimea's bloody battlefields, she is said to have saved the lives of countless wounded soldiers and nursed them to health in a clinic paid for out of her own pocket.
Her name was Mary Seacole, and today she is almost as famous as that other nursing heroine, Florence Nightingale.
For decades after her death in 1881, Seacole's story was largely overlooked, but for the past 15 years her reputation and exploits have undergone a remarkable rehabilitation....
Monday, December 31, 2012 - 12:54
A photograph taken during a royal visit to Bethlehem to prove the biblical city's existence will be going on display among photographs and diary extracts from a royal tour 150 years ago.
Queen Victoria's eldest son King Edward VII, then Prince of Wales, was sent on an educational trip to the Middle East in 1862, accompanied by Francis Bedford - the first photographer on a royal tour.
His previously unseen photos include a view of Bethlehem from the roof of the Church of the Nativity, said to be built on the spot where Jesus was born....
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 12:38
Name of source: AP
As New Year's Day approached 150 years ago, all eyes were on President Abraham Lincoln in expectation of what he warned 100 days earlier would be coming - his final proclamation declaring all slaves in states rebelling against the Union to be "forever free."
A tradition began Dec. 31, 1862, as many black churches held Watch Night services, awaiting word that Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation would take effect amid a bloody Civil War. Later, congregations listened as the president's historic words were read aloud.
The proclamation would not end slavery outright and at the time couldn't be enforced by Lincoln in areas under Confederate control. But the president made clear from that day forward that his forces would be fighting to bring the Union back together without the institution of slavery...
This year, the Watch Night tradition will follow the historic document to its home at the National Archives with a special midnight display planned with readings, songs and bell ringing among the nation's founding documents.
The official document bears Lincoln's signature and the United States seal, setting it apart from copies and drafts. It will make a rare public appearance from Sunday to Tuesday - New Year's Day - for thousands of visitors to mark its anniversary. On New Year's Eve, the display will remain open past midnight as 2013 arrives...
Saturday, December 29, 2012 - 18:33
FBI files on Marilyn Monroe that could not be located earlier this year have been found and re-issued, revealing the names of some of the movie star's communist-leaning friends who drew concern from government officials and her own entourage.
But the records, which previously had been heavily redacted, do not contain any new information about Monroe's death 50 years ago. Letters and news clippings included in the files show the bureau was aware of theories the actress had been killed, but they do not show that any effort was undertaken to investigate the claims. Los Angeles authorities concluded Monroe's death was a probable suicide.
Recently obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, the updated FBI files do show the extent the agency was monitoring Monroe for ties to communism in the years before her death in August 1962...
Saturday, December 29, 2012 - 18:22
The case of an 87-year-old Philadelphia man accused by Germany of serving as an SS guard at Auschwitz has largely centered on whether he was stationed at the part of the death camp used as a killing machine for Jews.
Johann "Hans" Breyer — while admitting he was an Auschwitz guard — insists he was never there.
World-War II-era documents obtained by The Associated Press indicate otherwise.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 14:41
Though the Mayans never really predicted that the world would end on Friday, some New Agers are convinced that humanity’s demise is indeed imminent. Or at least that it’s a good excuse for a party.
Believers are being drawn to spots where they think their chances of survival will be better, and accompanying them are the curious, the party-lovers and people wanting to make some money.
Here are some of the world’s key doomsday destinations and other places marked by fear and fascination:...
For $1,500, a museum is offering salvation from the world’s end in former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s underground bunker in central Moscow -- with a 50 percent refund if nothing happens.
The bunker, located 65 meters (210 feet) below ground, was designed to withstand a nuclear attack. Now home to a small museum, it has an independent electricity supply, water and food — but no more room, because the museum has already sold out all 1,000 tickets....
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 17:43
AUSTIN, Texas — The United States is fighting a messy war alongside an unreliable ally in Asia, residents are deeply divided between conservatives and liberals, a new health care law just took effect and the nation is struggling with racial and ethnic divisions.
What’s happening in the United States in 2012 could just as easily describe the nation in the 1960s: President Lyndon Baines Johnson escalating the war in Vietnam, defeating conservative Republican nominee Barry Goldwater, passing Medicare and pushing through landmark civil rights legislation.
An insider’s look at how the Texan dealt with those challenges is on display at the newly remodeled LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, where the old 1970s-style exhibits now use 21st century technology to put visitors in Johnson’s shoes. Mark Updegrove, the library’s director, said the reopening comes as historians take a fresh look at Johnson’s efforts to fight poverty and improve the health of the nation by creating a Great Society....
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 17:41
Name of source: Special to HNN
According to documents released under the 30-year rule, U.S. President Ronald Reagan delayed accepting formal invitations to visit the UK.
The two-month delay in responding to invites from both Margaret Thatcher and the Queen risked creating, said Britain's Ambassador to Washington Sir Nicholas Henderson, the "worst possible impression on London."
The White House was determined to make a good impression, though, and asked what the Commander-in-Chief should wear to go horse riding at Windsor Castle.
The aforementioned fashion inquiry is but one gem within a 485-page treasure-trove of hitherto confidential documents surrounding Reagan's 48-hour, 1982 visit made public by the National Archives.
Saturday, December 29, 2012 - 13:40
A memorial to a war hero whose exploits helped shorten WWII has just been unveiled.
Captain Albert Laver, from Birkenhead, was one of the Second World War "Cockleshell Heroes" whose audacious raid on German ships is now commemorated with a plaque at Woodside waterfront, in Wirral, across the River Mersey from Liverpool.
Laver was part of a 10-man Royal Navy team and is believed to have either drowned or been executed after successfully sinking a number of enemy merchant ships.
Operation Frankton involved commandoes canoeing 70 miles up the Gironde estuary, paddling by night and hiding by day until they reached the Nazi-occupied harbour of Bordeaux, some 60 miles from the sea.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 15:20
The Museum of Liverpool has been awarded the European Museum Prize for 2013 by the Council of Europe.
The human rights watchdog said that the museum traced the history of one of the most socially diverse cities in the UK and encourages local community members and faraway visitors alike to live together in dignity by promoting mutual respect between different ethnicities.
The £72m museum, which is part of the National Museums Liverpool and built on a Unesco World Heirtage Site, will receive a bronze statuette by Joan Miro and will be on display for one year.
The Council of Europe Museum Prize has been awarded annually since 1977 to a museum adjudged to have made an outstanding cultural contribution.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 11:28
The 70th Anniversary of the Battle of the Atlantic will be commemorated next year with a series of events in London and Londonderry.
The final national commemoration, however, will be hosted by the city of Liverpool over the bank holiday weekend of May 24-27, 2013.
Around 5,000 veterans are expected to attend the parade led by the Band of the Royal Marines and HMS Eaglet guards after a thanksgiving service at the Anglican Cathedral.
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign in the Second World War and the port of Liverpool played a pivot role directing the battle's strategy from the Western Approaches HQ.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 09:50
The BBC's Letter from America archive has recently been replenished after a British enthusiast answered the Corporation's plea for recordings of Alistair Cooke's "Letters."
David Henderson provided an astonishing 620 "missing" episodes and follows in the footsteps of Roy Whittaker, another Cooke enthusiast, who supplied 470 on cassettes in November.
The 920-programme online archive covers some of the seminal events in post-war American history up until Cooke's death in 2004 and went live earlier this year.
Broadcast on Radio 4 between 1946 and 2004, it was one of the world's longest-running speech radio programmes with 2,869 "Letters" recorded.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 07:15
A new effort is currently underway to answer some of the outstanding questions surrounding the world's worst-ever chemical attack on civilians at Halabja.
Returning to the Kurdish town 25 years on from the 1988 attack, the BBC's world affairs editor John Simpson interviewed those in search of identifying the original chemicals for the mustard gas used and the European companies suspected of supplying Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
The mastermind behind the operation, Saddam's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, previously known as "Chemical Ali," was tried and executed in 2010.
Thursday, December 27, 2012 - 13:23
Name of source: Huff Post
On Wednesday, archeologists revealed the remains of an ancient arts center underneath Rome dating back to 123 AD, according to the Guardian.
Emperor Hadrian is believed to have funded "the Athenaeum," as it was known at the time; it was a 900-seat complex created to promote arts and culture, CBS News reports. Archeologists discovered the arts center during excavations for a new subway line to run through the Italian capital.
"Hadrian's auditorium is the biggest find in Rome since the Forum was uncovered in the 1920s," said Rossella Rea, an archeologist working on the project.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 14:47
Name of source: Daily Mail
There was ... trouble with the 'special relationship' during the Falklands when the US threatened to tell Argentina that UK troops were landing on South Georgia.
Newly declassified files reveal that Britain's historic allies wanted to tell Argentina that the task force was planning to retake South Georgia, the first of the islands to be invaded by Argentina, on April 21.
The operation on South Georgia was the first stage of the campaign to retake the Falklands and it would have been disastrous had Argentina been forewarned.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 14:45
The Soviet Union used civil airliners to conduct secret Cold War spying missions over Britain, according to newly published Government files.
Some aircraft would switch off their transponders, alerting air traffic controllers to their position before veering off their approved flight paths to carry out aerial intelligence-gathering missions over sensitive targets, papers released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule show.
In a memorandum marked Secret for UK US Eyes Only, Defence Secretary John Nott informed prime minister Margaret Thatcher in December 1981 that the RAF was monitoring the hundreds of monthly flights through UK airspace by Warsaw Pact airliners.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 13:24
Name of source: Yahoo News
While on his death bed, the brilliant Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan cryptically wrote down functions he said came to him in dreams, with a hunch about how they behaved. Now 100 years later, researchers say they've proved he was right.
"We've solved the problems from his last mysterious letters. For people who work in this area of math, the problem has been open for 90 years," Emory University mathematician Ken Ono said.
Ramanujan, a self-taught mathematician born in a rural village in South India, spent so much time thinking about math that he flunked out of college in India twice, Ono said.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 14:40
Israeli archeologists have discovered the remains of an ancient temple that is nearly 3,000 years old and was once home to a ritual cult.
"The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple," excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz said in a statement released by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The temple remains were discovered at the Tel Motza site, located to the west of Jerusalem. The Israeli Antiquities Authority has been conducting excavation efforts at the site and says that along with the temple remains itself, the findings include a “cache of sacred vessels” estimated to be 2,750 years old.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 14:38
Name of source: Telegraph
The Queen was asked to intervene to stop the dean of St Paul's Cathedral from including a Spanish translation of the Lord's Prayer during the Falklands memorial service, according to official records.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 14:37
The disclosure emerged in a previously-unseen letter describing the famous match.
Staff sergeant Clement Barker sent the letter home four days after Christmas 1914 when the British and German troops emerged from their trenches in peace.
He described how the truce began after a German messenger walked across No Man's Land on Christmas Eve to broker the temporary cease-fire agreement.
British soldiers went out and recovered 69 dead comrades and buried them.
Sgt Barker said the impromptu football match then broke out between the two sides when a ball was kicked out from the British lines into No Man's Land.
Thursday, December 27, 2012 - 15:49
Name of source: Guardian
Margaret Thatcher repeatedly agonised over Gibraltar's vulnerability to attack from the Spain during the 1982 Falkland's conflict, newly released cabinet papers reveal.
"I understand that the prime minister has expressed concern about the implications of the Falklands Islands crisis for Gibraltar," one of her private secretaries recorded in papers released to the National Archives under the 20 year rule, adding: "particularly in the light of reports of the jubilant reaction in the Spanish press."
A British military review of Gibraltar's position gave "a rather more reassuring picture", he remarked, adding: "We have no reason to believe that there is an increased military threat to Gibraltar from the Spanish government.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 14:35
Name of source: Tennessean
The Civil War Trust has finalized purchase of a shopping strip center in Franklin that will help eventually to restore the land to its Civil War battlefield appearance.
A Washington, D.C.-based charitable organization whose focus it is to preserve American battlefields, the Civil War Trust was able to complete the sale last week through a partnership with Franklin’s Charge and generous donations, according to a press release issued Monday.
The trust purchased what’s been called the “Domino’s” strip on Columbia Avenue for $1.85 million from local businessmen Donnie and Tim Cameron. The site was also the location of the Carter House’s cotton gin. Potential plans for the location include rebuilding the cotton gin.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 14:33
Name of source: Yahoo
FBI files on Marilyn Monroe that could not be located earlier this year have been found and re-issued, revealing the names of some of the movie star's communist-leaning acquaintances who drew concern from government officials and her own entourage.
But the files, which previously had been heavily redacted, do not contain any new information about Monroe's death 50 years ago. Letters and news clippings included in the file show the bureau was aware of theories the actress had been killed, but they do not show that any effort was undertaken to investigate the claims. Los Angeles authorities concluded Monroe's death was a probable suicide.
Recently obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, the updated FBI files do show the extent the agency was monitoring Monroe for ties to communism in the years before her death in August 1962.
Friday, December 28, 2012 - 13:22
Name of source: WSJ
DALLAS—Officials in the city where President John F. Kennedy was gunned down Nov. 22, 1963, want to observe the 50th anniversary of that day with a celebration of his life.
The city plans a ceremony that would include readings from Kennedy speeches by historian David McCullough and military jets flying over Dealey Plaza, where the 35th president was shot.
But some who believe the assassination was a conspiracy involving high-ranking U.S. officials say their views shouldn't be excluded from the commemoration.
"It's absurd to move the discussion of his death to another moment," said John Judge, executive director of the Coalition on Political Assassinations, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that studies 1960s murders of public figures. "Our First Amendment rights are being violated."
Thursday, December 27, 2012 - 18:19
We all know the story well: On a cold morning, a troubled man armed with legally purchased guns and a large supply of ammunition walks into a small-town school.
He happens upon some of the youngest children in the school, opens fire on them and their teachers, then kills himself. Panicked parents rush to the scene; the nation beyond reacts in horror; two days later, the nation's leader arrives to share in the grief.
Newtown, Conn., in 2012? No, Dunblane, Scotland, in 1996.
But the parallels between the two massacres are haunting. The victims in the Dunblane school attack were 5- and 6-year-olds, while in Newtown they were 6- and 7-year-olds. Sixteen students died in Dunblane, 20 in Newtown. In both cases, teachers went down with their students. One died in Dunblane; six adults perished at the Newtown school....
Monday, December 17, 2012 - 15:36
Name of source: Jon Wiener at The Nation website
December 26, 1862: thirty-eight Dakota Indians were hung in Mankato, Minnesota, in the largest mass execution in US history–on orders of President Abraham Lincoln. Their crime: killing 490 white settlers, including women and children, in the Santee Sioux uprising the previous August.
The execution took place on a giant square scaffold in the center of town, in front of an audience of hundreds of white people. The thirty-eight Dakota men “wailed and danced atop the gallows,” according to Robert K. Elder of the New York Times, “waiting for the trapdoors to drop beneath them.” A witness reported that, “as the last moment rapidly approached, they each called out their name and shouted in their native language: ‘I’m here! I’m here!’”
Lincoln’s treatment of defeated Indian rebels against the US stood in sharp contrast to his treatment of Confederate rebels. He never ordered the executions of any Confederate officials or generals after the Civil War, even though they killed more than 400,000 Union soldiers. The only Confederate executed was the commander of Andersonville Prison—and for what we would call war crimes, not rebellion....
Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 16:59
Name of source: Teachers College Record Volume 114 Number 7, 2012
Contemporary data indicate that, on average across a wide range of schools, A’s represent 43% of all letter grades, an increase of 28 percentage points since 1960 and 12 percentage points since 1988. D’s and F’s total typically less than 10% of all letter grades. Private colleges and universities give, on average, significantly more A’s and B’s combined than public institutions with equal student selectivity.
Southern schools grade more harshly than those in other regions, and science and engineering-focused schools grade more stringently than those emphasizing the liberal arts.
At schools with modest selectivity, grading is as generous as it was in the mid-1980s at highly selective schools. These prestigious schools have, in turn, continued to ramp up their grades.
It is likely that at many selective and highly selective schools, undergraduate GPAs are now so saturated at the high end that they have little use as a motivator of students and as an evaluation tool for graduate and professional schools and employers.
Conclusions/Recommendations: As a result of instructors gradually lowering their standards, A has become the most common grade on American college campuses. Without regulation, or at least strong grading guidelines, grades at American institutions of higher learning likely will continue to have less and less meaning.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012 - 22:09
Name of source: Chicago Trib
Chicago. The site where Michael Reese Hospital once stood isn't much to look at, just a 37-acre swath of overgrown land in Bronzeville, behind a shoddy chain-link fence.
Developers are itching to build a casino or perhaps a sports entertainment complex on the city-owned property located in the shadows of downtown near the south lakefront. But residents of this historic African-American community have something grander in mind.
They envision a Barack Obama presidential library.
"This area tells the story of Chess Records, gospel music, blues and jazz, electrified by Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters," said Harold Lucas, president of the Black Metropolis Convention & Tourism Council in Bronzeville. "When people come to Chicago, that's what they want to see. They want to see the birthplace of Mr. Obama's political career."
Though Obama has not commented publicly about his plans for a library, every president since Herbert Hoover has established an archive in his home state to house papers from his White House tenure. That means the race could come down to Chicago — the city Obama most recently called home — and Honolulu — the city where he was born.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012 - 16:38
Name of source: Newsweek
It was the story of a lifetime—and he couldn’t publish it. In Newsweek’s final print issue, former staff reporter Michael Isikoff gives the inside tale of how he uncovered President Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in early 1998. Isikoff had been talking to Linda Tripp—a confidante of Lewinsky's—for months, and a source tipped him off that Tripp was cooperating with a Justice Department investigation. Isikoff and his Newsweek bosses got hold of some juicy tapes, but they just didn’t have enough time to do the reporting legwork before the weekly deadline—and the website Drudge Report ran with it days later. “I would have preferred we had it first,” Isikoff writes. “But we settled for having it better than anybody else.”
Monday, December 24, 2012 - 12:47
Name of source: British Library
This decree (farmān) of Babur is dated 13 (or possibly 30) Zu’l-Qaʻdah 933 (August 1527), just a few months after his decisive victory over Rana Sanga of Mewar and his confederates at the battle of Khanwa in March 1527. It was issued in the name of Ẓahīr al-Dīn Muḥammad Bābur Ghāzī (‘holy warrior’, a title he had assumed after his recent victory) and confirms the grant of a village, Panchal Gul Pinduri (the exact form of the name is uncertain!) in the Pargana of Batala, Punjab, as a hereditary grant (suyurghāl) to the Qazi (magistrate) Jalāl al-Dīn. The revenue of this village amounted to 5,000 copper coins (tankah-i siyāh) and was tax-free. The beneficiary was not required to petition annually for the renewal of this grant....
Friday, December 21, 2012 - 09:55
Name of source: Baltimore Sun
The DNA of a battle that helped turn the tide of a war going horribly wrong for America lay buried just six inches below the surface in a Kent County cornfield.
For nearly two centuries, the musket balls, canister shot and other artifacts from intense fighting at Caulk's Field waited to tell the story of a sweltering August night in 1814, when militiamen sprang a trap on a British raiding party bent on destruction.
How did the citizen-soldiers best their battle-tested foes at Caulk's Field?...
Friday, December 21, 2012 - 09:47
Name of source: Raw Story
A Joseph Stalin statue went back up in the Georgian village of Alvani on Friday in a sign of the slipping authority of President Mikheil Saakashvili, who had ordered its removal.
The pro-Western president is serving out what some are calling a lame-duck term ahead of elections next year from which he is barred on account of the end of his 10-year constitutional mandate.
Saakashvili’s powers were weakened still further in October when the Georgian Dream party of his great rival, the tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, won parliamentary elections and appointed Ivanishvili as prime minister....
Friday, December 21, 2012 - 09:46
Name of source: Bloomberg News
Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- French President Francois Hollande called France’s 132-year colonial rule in Algeria “brutal and unjust,” stopping short of an outright apology, as he seeks to improve relations that have been troubled ever since the North African country won its independence 50 years ago.
Citing France’s postwar reconciliation with Germany, Hollande told Algeria’s parliament during a two-day visit that he wants “a new age in relations” based on “recognition of the truth.”
Hollande is the third French president to struggle how to frame relations with Algeria since the country’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, demanded in 2003 that France apologize for its “long, brutal and genocidal” rule. Bouteflika and other Algerian leaders have lately backed off those demands, and Hollande has already taken some steps toward Algeria, such as this year being the first French president to recognize the killings of 100 Algerian protesters in Paris in 1961....
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 17:49
Name of source: WaPo
Sixty years ago this month (December), London was enveloped under a toxic mix of dense fog and sooty black smoke for four days. This episode of polluted air is among the deadliest environmental disasters in recorded history.
The event became known as the Great Smog of 1952. Over 4,000 more people died than usual for that time of year with an estimated 8,000 more fatalities in the following weeks from exposure to the noxious air pollution.
While not as deadly – and not as well-known - hundreds of deaths have been attributed directly to episodes of severe smog in the U.S. over the 60 intervening years - including three killer smog events in New York City....
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 17:48
...Even if the world doesn’t end up exploding, [Dec. 21] still has some darker meaning for China, and not just because some people seem to be taking the prediction surprisingly seriously. Wong also wrote on Twitter, “Many Chinese have been buying candles because of rumors of a 3-day power outage to start on Dec. 21.” Chinese authorities recently arrested 500 members of a doomsday cult that was noisily predicting Dec. 21 as the day. The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos writes that “China is more taken with doomsday talk than you might expect,” something the government takes very seriously. “China has a long history of religion-infused political rebellions,” he writes.
A new, award-winning book by historian Stephen Platt documents the Taiping Rebellion, a 19th-century religious insurrection that ended in tens of millions of deaths. Osnos writes, “But these days the Party is especially uncomfortable with obscure religious beliefs because, in the post-Socialist era, many in China have begun to hunt for something to believe.”...
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 17:47
THESSALONIKI, Greece — In a find that local Jewish groups have described as highly significant, Greek police said Thursday that hundreds of marble headstones and other fragments from Jewish graves destroyed during the Nazi occupation in World War II have been recovered.
The 668 fragments were found buried in a plot of land in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, following a 70-year search for the remains of graves smashed when the city’s main Jewish cemetery was destroyed.
The head of the city’s Jewish community, David Saltiel, said most of the gravestones found dated from the mid-1800s up until World War II....
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 17:44
JOHANNESBURG — Nelson Mandela was seriously ill but has steadily improved over the last few days after being diagnosed with a lung infection and undergoing gallstone surgery, South African President Jacob Zuma said Thursday.
It was the first official acknowledgement that Mandela’s condition had been grave, and came 13 days after the anti-apartheid icon was brought to a hospital in the capital, Pretoria. The government initially said 94-year-old Mandela was undergoing medical tests, and the information that followed was terse and sometimes contradictory.
“His condition was serious but he is responding well to treatment and he steadily improved over the last few days,” Zuma said at the close of a conference of the African National Congress, the governing political party....
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 17:40
WASHINGTON — Sen. Daniel Inouye, the second-longest serving senator in U.S. history, was remembered Thursday as a man who gallantly defended his country on the battlefield and gracefully sought to better it during the 50-plus years he represented his beloved state of Hawaii.
Colleagues and aides lined the Capitol rotunda five deep to say farewell. The rare ceremony demonstrated the respect and good will he generated over the years. Only 31 people have lain in the Capitol rotunda; the last was former President Gerald R. Ford nearly six years ago. The last senator who died in office and was accorded the honor was Democrat Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota, in 1978.
“Daniel Inouye was an institution, and he deserved to spend at least another day in this beautiful building to which he dedicated his life,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev....
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 17:39
A Danish architect named Jan Gehl has been hired to create a vision of Moscow 15 years down the road. At a conference here the other day, he waxed enthusiastic about the beautiful possibilities for Europe’s largest city:
Traffic cut down to two lanes in each direction. Sidewalks wide enough for strolling, shaded by millions of trees. Trams zipping this way and that, no more dank underground street crossings. With the noble skyline intact, and Tverskaya Street reconfigured as a “fabulous boulevard, the Champs Élysées of the East,” there would be parks along the 104 miles of riverfront (if you count both sides of the river) and a citywide feeling of uplift to inspire residents — an end, in short, to all the Sovietesquerie that weighs so heavily on Moscow today.
Oh, and no fewer than 200 neighborhood squares, to create anchors of local identity....
Monday, December 17, 2012 - 14:56
Name of source: NYT
More than two decades before Newtown, there was Stockton.
In January 1989, a troubled drifter in his 20s opened fire with a semiautomatic rifle on a California elementary school yard packed with students. Five children, ages 6 to 9, were killed in the fusillade of bullets; 29 others were wounded, along with one teacher.
The resulting national shock and outrage plunged Congress into a debate over whether to ban military-style assault weapons.
“The American people are fed up with the death and violence brought on by these assault weapons,” Senator Howard M. Metzenbaum, an Ohio Democrat, declared on the Senate floor. “They demand action.”...
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 13:25
Robert H. Bork, a former solicitor general, federal judge and conservative legal theorist whose 1987 nomination to the United States Supreme Court was rejected by the Senate in a historic political battle whose impact is still being felt, died on Wednesday in Arlington, Va. He was 85.
His death, of complications of heart disease, was confirmed by his son Robert Jr.
Judge Bork, who was senior judicial adviser this year to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, played a small but crucial role in the Watergate crisis as the solicitor general under President Richard M. Nixon. He carried out orders to fire a special prosecutor in what became known as “the Saturday Night Massacre.” He also handed down notable decisions from the federal appeals court bench. But it was as a symbol of the nation’s culture wars that Judge Bork made his name....
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 10:31
Since their publication in 1971 the Pentagon Papers have been examined seemingly from every possible historical, political, legal and ethical angle.
But to Lisa Gitelman, a professor of English and media studies at New York University, there’s at least one aspect of Daniel Ellsberg’s leaking of top-secret Defense Department documents that scholars have failed to consider adequately: the Xerox technology that allowed him to copy them in the first place.
Actually, make that “copy and recopy.” In a chapter of her book in progress about the history of documents Ms. Gitelman describes the way Mr. Ellsberg obsessively made copies of his copies, even enlisting the help of his children in what she describes as an act of radical self-publishing....
Monday, December 17, 2012 - 15:56
Name of source: USGS
Four previously undiscovered photos of undocumented Russian Crown Jewels were recently discovered in the USGS library. The photos appear in a 1922 album called “Russian Diamond Fund,” that was uncovered in the rare book room of the library.
The four unique photos were originally part of the personal collection of George F. Kunz (1856-1932), a mineralogist and gemologist, gentleman explorer, and employee of the USGS and Tiffany & Co. These four photos are unique because they are not included in the official documentation of the Russian Crown Jewels, “Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones,” published in 1925. The USGS also has a copy of this 1925 publication in Kunz’s collection.
“Russia’s Treasure of Diamonds and Precious Stones” is considered the most complete inventory of the Russian Crown Jewels and 22 of the photographs from Kunz’s 1922 album appear to be the same images used in the official Russian 1925 publication. The four pieces portrayed in the album discovered by the USGS that do not appear in the later publication include a sapphire and diamond tiara, a sapphire bracelet, an emerald necklace, and a sapphire brooch in the shape of a bow....
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 12:39
Name of source: CNN.com
(CNN) -- Forget old conspiracy theories about snake bites and fatal poisons. Egyptian King Ramesses III died after a brutal throat slashing, a new study says.
The study provides the latest twist in a mystery that has long perplexed researchers.
Did a venomous viper take him out? Poison? An assassination plot in a reign tainted by war?
And if it were the latter, who did it?...
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 12:20
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
The festive act of reconciliation was made possible after the letters, hidden away in a grand piano since the theft in 1941, were handed in to archivists.
A gang of youths, all aged 15 or 16, had stolen the 90 letters from a Wehrmacht field post office in St Helier, in a perhaps rash bid to give the hated occupiers a bloody nose. They would have faced severe penalties if caught.
Fearing discovery, the youths handed them to a friend, who stashed them in a grand piano for 66 years, before taking them to the official Jersey Archive....
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 12:20
Name of source: Jewish Tribune
(JTA) – Human Rights Watch has removed Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, from one of its local committees.
Falk, who has compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the actions of the Nazis and suggested that the US government may have had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks, was removed last Tuesday from the international non-governmental organization’s local committee in Santa Barbara, CA....
Thursday, December 20, 2012 - 12:03