Join our mailing list

* indicates required

Tags Matching:

AP


  • Originally published 08/22/2013

    Legacy Of Nixon tapes: Skepticism, distrust endure

    WASHINGTON (AP) — It's a good thing Richard Nixon was such a klutz.The president's ineptness at all things mechanical is what prompted his aides to install a voice-activated recording system that didn't require Nixon to push an on-off button, ensuring that every word he spoke in the Oval Office and other key locations was caught on tape.With the secret taping system on autopilot — seven microphones planted in wall sconces and the president's desk — Nixon largely forgot about it, and let loose with the raw, gossipy, conniving and too-clever words that ultimately toppled his presidency and forever changed the way Americans think about their presidents and their government.The tapes — the last installment of them released Wednesday — are like the black box in an increasingly out-of-control airplane, recording right up to the crash.In the tapes, Americans began to see their presidents as "less glorious, less heroic, less romantic — either more like us, or more like people we don't like," says presidential historian Julian Zelizer of Princeton University....

  • Originally published 08/20/2013

    Egypt's Malawi Museum looted

    CAIRO — As violent clashes roiled Egypt, looters made away with a prized 3,500-year-old limestone statue, ancient beaded jewelry and more than 1,000 other artifacts in the biggest theft to hit an Egyptian museum in living memory.The scale of the looting of the Malawi Museum in the southern Nile River city of Minya laid bare the security vacuum that has taken hold in cities outside Cairo, where police have all but disappeared from the streets. It also exposed how bruised and battered the violence has left Egypt.For days after vandals ransacked the building Wednesday, there were no police or soldiers in sight as groups of teenage boys burned mummies and broke limestone sculptures too heavy for the thieves to carry away. The security situation remained precarious Monday as gunmen atop nearby buildings fired on a police station near the museum....

  • Originally published 08/20/2013

    What would compel a black American to move to Stalinist Russia?

    WASHINGTON — The oil painting of a black Russian man lay quietly for years in a back corner of an antique shop in a dingy walking mall in Moscow.Andy Leddy, a white American working on a U.S. government contract for a refugee program in 1992, a year after the Communist Party lost power, pulled the canvas out and unrolled it.“Why would there be a portrait of a black man in Russia?” Leddy recalls thinking. “They treated people of color horribly here. But look at it. It’s heroic and romantic. It is odd to see a black subject in a heroic pose.”The clerks told him the unsigned painting depicted a man named Patterson who had starred in a classic Russian movie, but that was all they could tell him....

  • Originally published 08/20/2013

    Warsaw Uprising brought to life in film

    ...The scenes are as riveting as any Hollywood war movie. But they are snippets of historical footage from the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, enhanced by modern coloring and sound techniques — and turned into a film.The only purely fictional elements are voiceovers presenting an imagined narrative that stitches together the footage: Two brothers scour the streets of the Polish city tasked with filming the 1944 rebellion of Warsaw residents against their Nazi occupiers, commenting on what they witness, from soup kitchens to scenes of destruction.It makes for a mesmerizing account of the fierce house-to-house fighting against the German army that began on Aug. 1 and ended 63 days later with the insurgents surrendering, following the deaths of some 200,000 rebels and residents. “Warsaw Rising” is cobbled together from black-and-white silent footage of crews that the Polish resistance Home Army sent fanning through the city to chronicle the uprising. Cinematographers hired by the Warsaw Rising Museum added coloration and sound that give a real-life feel, while modern editing techniques provide a polished, fast-paced narrative....

  • Originally published 08/13/2013

    In ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler,’ history told through a black lens

    NEW YORK — History in the movies has often been seen through white eyes: civil rights-era tales with white protagonists reacting to a changing world.“I’ve been in some of those movies,” says David Oyelowo, a star in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” ‘’I was in the ‘The Help.’”The viewpoint of “The Butler,” though, is refreshingly colorful. In it, Forest Whitaker plays Cecil Gaines, a man born to sharecroppers who’s turned into a domestic servant. After fleeing north, he rises to serve as a butler in the White House for seven successive presidents, spanning from Eisenhower to Reagan, from Jim Crow to Barack Obama....

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Va. NAACP head criticizes group’s plan to fly Confederate flag along I-95 outside Richmond

    RICHMOND, Va. — A heritage group’s plan to fly a large Confederate flag along Interstate 95 outside Richmond is drawing criticism from the head of the NAACP’s Virginia chapter.The Virginia Flaggers plans to fly the 10-by-15-foot flag on a 50-foot pole just south of Richmond. It’s tentatively scheduled to go up Sept. 28 and will be visible from the northbound lanes of the interstate, although organizers haven’t said exactly where it will be located.Virginia NAACP Executive Director King Salim Khalfani told the Richmond Times-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/14iwLLJ ) that the flag would make Richmond look like a “backwater, trailer park, hick town.”...

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    NH auction offers Schindler documents, including letter paving way for Jewish workers’ rescue

    CONCORD, N.H. — A New Hampshire auction house is offering a collection of documents from Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who saved more than 1,000 Jewish workers at his factories during World War II, including a letter he signed that paved the way for the rescue chronicled in the 1993 movie “Schindler’s List.”The letter, dated Aug. 22, 1944, describes permission to move his enamelware factory, workers included, out of Krakow, Poland, to Czechoslovakia, a move that historians say allowed him to save the workers....

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    NIH, family of Henrietta Lacks reach deal on access to DNA code

    NEW YORK — Some 60 years ago, a doctor in Baltimore removed cancer cells from a poor black patient named Henrietta Lacks without her knowledge or consent. Those cells eventually helped lead to a multitude of medical treatments and laid the groundwork for the multibillion-dollar biotech industry.It’s a saga made famous by the 2010 bestseller “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”Now, for the first time, the Lacks family has been given a say over some research involving her cells....

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    NYC becomes archaeological site: 18th-century bone toothbrush, old champagne bottles unearthed

    NEW YORK — The city has become an archaeological site, with thousands of artifacts such as an 18th-century bone toothbrush with animal hair bristles and wine and champagne bottles corked centuries ago unearthed to prove it.A copper half-penny and a pair of children’s shoes are some of the other remnants of early New York life workers discovered in lower Manhattan while digging to install new utilities for the growing residential and business South Street Seaport area....

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Archaeologists make once-in-a-lifetime find of Mayan frieze in northern Guatemala

    GUATEMALA CITY — Archaeologists have found an “extraordinary” Mayan frieze richly decorated with images of deities and rulers and a long dedicatory inscription, the Guatemalan government said Wednesday.The frieze was discovered by Guatemalan archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli, a professor at Tulane University’s Anthropology Department, and his team in the northern Province of Peten, the government said in a joint statement with Estrada-Belli....

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Work on new railway line unearths layers of London history

    LONDON — Jewelry, pieces of ships, medieval ice skates, centuries-old skulls — some fascinating pieces of London’s history aren’t in museums, but underground.More often than not, they stay there, but work on a new railway line under the British capital is bringing centuries of that buried history to light.The 118-kilometer (73-mile) Crossrail line is Britain’s biggest construction project and the largest archaeological dig in London for decades. In the city’s busy business core, archaeologists have struck pay dirt, uncovering everything from a chunk of Roman road to dozens of 2,000-year-old horseshoes, some golden 16th-century bling — and the bones of long-dead Londoners....

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    25 years on, ripples of Myanmar’s tumultuous 1988 summer still linger

    YANGON, Myanmar — Twenty-five years later, you can still see the fear in the eyes of the doctors — two young men carrying a schoolgirl, her blouse drenched in blood, through streets where soldiers were brutally crushing pro-democracy protests.The photograph, thrust to prominence when it ran on the cover of Newsweek, came to symbolize the defeat of a 1988 uprising in the nation then called Burma. The revolt’s end cemented the power of the military, sent thousands of activists to prison and helped bring a future Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, to prominence....

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    In search for stolen art, Romania finds traces of 19th-, 20th-century paint in ash from oven

    BUCHAREST, Romania — A Romanian museum official says some of the paint pigments recovered from an oven of a woman whose son is charged with stealing seven multimillion-dollar paintings in the Netherlands contain chemicals from colors used in the 19th and 20th century, but aren’t commonly used anymore.Forensic scientists at Romania’s National History Museum examined ash from the stove of Olga Dogaru, whose son is the chief suspect in last year’s theft of paintings, which include a Matisse, a Picasso and a Monet.Authorities said Dogaru initially admitted burning the paintings to protect her son, but later denied it....

  • Originally published 08/02/2013

    Artifacts from Virginia-area museums in running for top 10 ‘endangered’ designation

    RICHMOND, Va. — At the William King Museum in the heart of Appalachia, a panel of 16 small paintings depicting water mills along the region’s landscape is deteriorating, and along with it, important chronicles of southwest Virginia’s rural culture.The series of canvases taped to flimsy wood paneling is flaking and curators at the Abingdon museum are hoping to conserve it through a program has helped some of those previously involved apply for grants and help with fundraising efforts....

  • Originally published 07/31/2013

    Congress lawmakers plan new legislation for Latino museum

    Lawmakers are introducing new legislation in Congress to create a national Latino American history museum.Two years ago, a presidential commission called for the creation of a Smithsonian American Latino Museum. But the effort has stalled in Congress....

  • Originally published 07/30/2013

    Detroit-area plant where Rosie the Riveter worked facing demolition

    YPSILANTI TOWNSHIP, MICH.—The Detroit-area factory where Rosie the Riveter showed that a woman could do a “man’s work” by building Second World War-era bombers, making her an enduring symbol of American female empowerment, will be demolished if money can’t be found to save it.The Willow Run Bomber Plant, a 135-hectare former Ford Motor Co. factory west of Detroit that churned out nearly 9,000 B-24 Liberator bombers during the Second World War, is slated to be torn down unless a group can raise $3.5 million by Thursday to convert at least some of the structure into a new, expanded home for the nearby Yankee Air Museum.“The younger generation needs to know what people went through and be able to go and see what they did and how they did it for our country,” Larry Doe, a 70-year-old Ypsilanti Township resident who has given to the cause, said recently before joining other donors for a trip on a B-17....

  • Originally published 07/28/2013

    Maryland dig seeks proof of 1st free black community

    EASTON, Md. (AP) — Archaeology students have been sifting through a little patch of ground on Maryland’s Eastern Shore this summer, seeking evidence that it was home to the nation’s first free African-American community.Historians say hundreds of free blacks once lived in the area, while plantations flourished with hundreds of black slaves not far away.The students from the University of Maryland, College Park, and Morgan State University have been digging behind what is now the Women’s Club of Talbot County. The building, part of which dates to at least 1793, was home to three free non-white residents, according to the 1800 Census....

  • Originally published 07/28/2013

    Austrian flap over bell dedicated to Hitler

    VIENNA (AP) — Like many others in Austria's countryside, a tower bell above the red-tiled rooftops of Wolfpassing village marks the passing of each hour with an unspectacular "bong." But this bell is unique: It is embossed with a swastika and praise to Adolf Hitler.And unlike more visible remnants of the Nazi era, the bell was apparently overlooked by official Austria up to now.Ensconced in the belfry of an ancient castle where it was mounted by fans of the Nazi dictator in 1939, the bell has tolled on for nearly 80 years. It survived the defeat of Hitler's Germany, a decade of post-war Soviet occupation that saw Red Army soldiers lodge in the castle and more recent efforts by Austria's government to acknowledge the country's complicity in crimes of that era and make amends....

  • Originally published 07/22/2013

    Tom Sugrue, Kevin Boyle, and Daniel Okrent on the Decline and Fall of Their Hometown, Detroit

    In 1945, Detroit was the American Dream.During World War II, the Detroit region was the center of American wartime production. The Willow Run factory near Ypsilanti, a few miles outside of Detroit proper, produced nearly half of the some 18,500 B-24 Liberator bombers built during the war. Ninety-one percent of all G.I. helmets were produced in Detroit. The city was home to the nation's first tank plant; a quarter of the nearly 90,000 tanks produced by the United States during the war were built in Detroit.That was the Detroit Tom Sugrue's parents and grandparents knew. But it was a city largely built on quicksand, reliant on the postwar auto industry for continued growth and which dealt with the large wartime influx of African American workers with discriminatory housing policies and at times brutal violence.The good times wouldn't last.

  • Originally published 07/22/2013

    Auto troubles, race at root of Detroit collapse

    Blue-collar workers poured into the cavernous auto plants of Detroit for generations, confident that a sturdy back and strong work ethic would bring them a house, a car and economic security. It was a place where the American dream came true.It came true in cities across the industrial heartland, from Chicago's meatpacking plants to the fire-belching steel mills of Cleveland and Pittsburgh. It came true for decades, as manufacturing brought prosperity to big cities in states around the Great Lakes and those who called them home. Detroit was the affluent capital, a city with its own emblematic musical sound and a storied union movement that drew Democratic presidential candidates to Cadillac Square every four years to kick off campaigns at Labor Day rallies.The good times would not last forever. As the nation's economy began to shift from the business of making things, that line of work met the force of foreign competition. Good-paying assembly line jobs dried up as factories that made the cars and supplied the steel closed their doors. The survivors of the decline, especially whites, fled the cities to pursue new dreams in the suburbs....

  • Originally published 07/21/2013

    Israeli archeologists say they have discovered King David’s palace

    JERUSALEM — A team of Israeli archeologists believes it has discovered the ruins of a palace belonging to the biblical King David, but other Israeli experts dispute the claim.Archeologists from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Israel’s Antiquities Authority said their find, a large fortified complex west of Jerusalem at a site called Khirbet Qeiyafa, is the first palace of the biblical king ever to be discovered.“Khirbet Qeiyafa is the best example exposed to date of a fortified city from the time of King David,” said Yossi Garfinkel, a Hebrew University archeologist, suggesting that David himself would have used the site. Garfinkel led the seven-year dig with Saar Ganor of Israel’s Antiquities Authority....

  • Originally published 07/18/2013

    Nazi-themed cafe stirs controversy in Indonesia

    BANDUNG, Indonesia (AP) — Authorities in central Indonesia will ask a restaurant owner to explain his reasons for opening a Nazi-themed cafe that has sparked controversy among locals and tourists, an official said Thursday.Soldatenkaffee includes a red wall of Nazi-related memorabilia, including a large flag with the swastika and a giant picture of Adolf Hitler. Its wait staff dresses in SS, or Schutzstaffel, military uniforms, and can be seen posing in front of the cafe on its Facebook page.The cafe, located in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung, one of Indonesia’s tourist destination cities, has been open since April 2011. But a recent article in a local English-language newspaper has prompted angry responses from some foreigners and Indonesians on social networking sites....

  • Originally published 07/18/2013

    'Glory': Civil War fight by black troops recalled

    SULLIVANS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Dozens of Civil War re-enactors gathered Thursday to commemorate the 150th anniversary of a famed attack by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry — a battle in South Carolina that showed the world black soldiers could fight and was chronicled in the movie ‘‘Glory.’’Re-enactors portraying members of the black Union regiment as well as Confederate counterparts defending Battery Wagner in Charleston Harbor planned to travel Thursday afternoon by boat to Morris Island, site of the battle, to lay a wreath and fire a salute.Speeches and Civil War period music also were planned on nearby Sullivans Island — an inhabited barrier island near the harbor entrance — about the time of the evening attack 150 years ago. Luminaries were to be lit by nightfall in memory of the dead....

  • Originally published 07/18/2013

    1st Air Force One plane decaying in Arizona field

    TUCSON — The first plane to be designated as Air Force One now sits in a southern Arizona field that’s part of Marana Regional Airport.The aircraft that once spirited President Dwight D. Eisenhower on cross-country voyages is nearly forgotten on a 10-acre parcel, decaying under the relentless glare of the sun.“I think it’s one of these big secrets that, really, few people know that it’s out there,” airport manager Steve Miller told The Arizona Daily Star. “It’s sad that it’s just sitting out there, considering its history over the past 70 years.”...

  • Originally published 07/15/2013

    Public invited to visit archaeology dig in Buffalo

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — Archaeology buffs are invited to watch diggers uncovering history this summer on the Buffalo waterfront.A group of archaeologists and University at Buffalo graduate students is working near a construction site along Main Street at Canalside. They hope to uncover artifacts dating back to Buffalo's 18th century heyday as the terminus of the Erie Canal....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Efforts continue to save USS Olympia

    PHILADELPHIA — Caretakers of a deteriorating piece of maritime military history hope to have its future secured by next summer and continue working to ensure it stays afloat in the meantime.The USS Olympia, a one-of-a-kind steel cruiser from the Spanish-American War, ideally would have been dry-docked every 20 years for maintenance but has not been out of the water since 1945. Since taking stewardship of the National Historic Landmark from a cash-strapped nonprofit in 1996, the Independence Seaport Museum has spent about $5 million on short-term repairs, inspections and maintenance but cannot afford to keep the ship.A field of six organizations initially vying for the Olympia has been narrowed to two preservation groups — one in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the 5,500-ton warship was launched in 1892, and one in Port Royal, S.C., a strategic support post for the Atlantic fleet during the Spanish-American War....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Up for auction, Frank Miller’s cover of ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ No. 2; near-mint ‘Batman’ 1

    PHILADELPHIA — It is the comic book cover that captured the grim visage of an older, wiser — and meaner — Batman.Now, the 1986 pen and ink creation — drawn by writer/artist Frank Miller — that is the cover to “The Dark Knight Returns” No. 2 will be sold next month in Dallas by Heritage Auctions.It’s the first cover from DC Comics’ 1986 four-issue “Dark Knight” miniseries to be sold and is expected to go for more than $500,000.Miller’s story “radically altered the direction of comics,” said Todd Hignite, Heritage’s vice president....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Md. historical society begins project to create authentic reproduction of Star-Spangled Banner

    BALTIMORE — The Maryland Historical Society is embarking on a special Independence Day project this year.The society on Thursday began recreating the original Star-Spangled Banner Flag, which flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore during the War of 1812 and inspired the writing of the national anthem.Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake sewed the first stitch at a July 4 ceremony kicking off the project.The historical society says it expects its authentic reproduction to take six weeks to complete and will involve more than 100 volunteers to help stitch....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    National Trust for Historic Preservation moving to Watergate

    WASHINGTON — The National Trust for Historic Preservation was looking for a building with a story to it, and it found one — the Watergate.In February, the trust — a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect historical buildings — announced that it was selling its Dupont Circle headquarters, which was built in 1917 and once served as a luxury apartment building for the likes of then-Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon.The search began for another historical building in town, and the group announced last month that it had settled on the Watergate office building, home to Washington’s most famous burglary....

  • Originally published 06/28/2013

    Was first curveball thrown 2 million years ago?

    NEW YORK —It's a big year for throwing. The greatest closer in baseball history, Mariano Rivera of the Yankees, is retiring. Aroldis Chapman, the overpowering Cincinnati Reds reliever, continues to fire fastballs beyond 100 mph.And now some scientists say they've figured out when our human ancestors first started throwing with accuracy and fire power, as only people can: Nearly 2 million years ago.That's what researchers conclude in a study released Wednesday by the journal Nature. There's plenty of skepticism about their conclusion. But the new paper contends that this throwing ability probably helped our ancient ancestor Homo erectus hunt, allowing him to toss weapons — probably rocks and sharpened wooden spears....

  • Originally published 06/27/2013

    Apps mix history with technology at the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg

    PHILADELPHIA — At the 150th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Gettysburg, many Civil War re-enactors will eschew the use of modern technology, but scores of tourists will embrace it.More than 5,700 Foursquare users have checked in at sites in the historic borough; more than 16,000 Facebook users have liked it. And in the weeks leading up to the anniversary, apps that offer maps and information about key battle spots have surged in popularity.Garry Adelman has been a licensed Gettysburg battlefield guide for 19 years and has recently moved his high-energy tour into the realm of the smartphone. The project was initiated four years ago by the Civil War Trust, a nonprofit battlefield preservation group where Adelman is the director of history and education....

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    Minn. lawmaker apologizes for ‘Uncle Thomas’ tweet after Supreme Court voting rights ruling

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Democratic legislator from Minnesota swiftly apologized Tuesday for a tweet he sent that referred to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as “Uncle Thomas” following a major ruling on the nation’s landmark voting rights law.Thomas, who is black, was part of a 5-4 majority that invalidated part of the Voting Rights Act meant to deter racial discrimination in elections. The ruling makes it tougher for federal officials to prevent states and localities, primarily in the South, from adopting policies that add barriers to voting.In response, state Rep. Ryan Winkler tweeted: “#SCOTUS VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas. Marriage decision may blur Court’s backsliding.”...

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    Gettysburg residents seek black history museum

    GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Gettysburg’s small African-American community proudly tells stories of ancestors who fought in the Civil War, of a young woman who shook President Abraham Lincoln’s hand and of the men who buried thousands of bodies after the battle.But they also speak of a struggle to preserve that history and of discrimination that continued long after the war ended — even where Lincoln himself reminded Americans of our defining ideal: that all men are created equal.‘‘Our story here in this town, and in this state, and in this country has not been told,’’ said Mary Alice Nutter, 68, who has been working to fulfill her mother’s dying wish for an African-American history museum in the town where Union soldiers turned the tide of the Civil War, helping to end slavery in the United States....

  • Originally published 06/25/2013

    Shaped by history, Gettysburg celebrates milestone

    GETTYSBURG, Pa. –  Gettysburg changed the direction of American history 150 years ago, and the town hasn't been the same since.The couple of hundred thousand visitors expected at events to mark the anniversary of the 1863 clash won't have to look far to find remnants of the pivotal campaign of the Civil War, even outside the grounds of the meticulously maintained national park.Cannonballs and shrapnel remain embedded in a few of the roughly 200 buildings that remain from the period.Many of the businesses in the rural county seat cater to the throngs of tourists that stream into one of the country's most historic places, from General Pickett's Buffet to Abraham's Lady, a battle-era clothing shop....

  • Originally published 06/24/2013

    CU launches diversity study

    BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — University of Colorado regents are conducting a survey to determine whether the school respects diversity for people who disagree on politics, race, gender and sexual orientation.The survey, which was approved Thursday by University of Colorado regents, is planned for the upcoming school year on all campuses.Some conservatives have expressed concern that many educators are too liberal, while other critics have complained that some school officials are intolerant of social differences.In March, the university hired a history professor to be the resident conservative at the Boulder campus. Steven Hayward will serve as the school's first visiting scholar in conservative thought and policy, a temporary position paid by more than $1 million in private funds....

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    W.Va celebrates 150th anniversary

    CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia got its 150th birthday party started Thursday with a bell-ringing ceremony, festivals, speeches, concerts — and lots of cake.On the state Capitol steps, hundreds of people watched as a bell rang 35 times to honor West Virginia’s entrance as the 35th state on June 20, 1863.“This is not just an important day in our state history,” Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said. “It’s a great day in American history.”The state Culture Center also was bustling with activity as visitors listened to folk music, bought West Virginia Forever birthday stamps that debuted Thursday and attended the Charleston Light Opera Guild’s free performance of the Broadway musical “Civil War.”...

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Latvia’s medieval Riga Castle, a museum and presidential residence, damaged by fire

    RIGA, Latvia — A major fire has caused extensive damage to Riga Castle, the medieval fortress that houses the National History Museum of Latvia.Viktorija Sembele, a spokeswoman for the State Fire and Rescue Service, said Friday that the overnight fire damaged the roof and the second and third floors of the castle.She says some significant items in the museum suffered water damage but none was destroyed....

  • Originally published 06/13/2013

    Netanyahu warns of another Holocaust

    WARSAW, Poland — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began his two-day visit to Poland, which Germany’s Nazis occupied during World War II and where they committed the worst crimes ever against the Jewish people, with a stern warning about a potential Holocaust from Iran.Netanyahu said Wednesday the upcoming “so-called” Iranian presidential election will “change nothing” in the Islamic republic’s quest for nuclear weapons and that the regime will continue to pursue a bomb aimed at destroying Israel. Iran insists its uranium enrichment program has only peaceful goals.Iran’s election overseers have approved a list of would-be hopefuls, most of them loyalists favored by both the theocracy and the military, and any future president will likely side with the supreme leadership’s nuclear aspirations....

  • Originally published 06/13/2013

    George Wallace’s daughter lives in shadow of his segregationist stand

    For 50 years Peggy Wallace Kennedy has lived in the shadow cast by her father, Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace, when he stood in a doorway and tried to stop two black students from integrating the University of Alabama.That single episode in the American civil rights movement — his infamous “stand in the schoolhouse door” — attached an asterisk to her name, she says. It’s a permanent mark she can never erase, despite her own history as a moderate Democrat who gave early support to candidate Barack Obama for president in 2008.“If you’re George Wallace’s daughter, people think the asterisk will always be there. ‘Oh, your father stood in the schoolhouse door,’” she said in a recent interview.Kennedy was just 13 at the time. Her mother, Lurleen Wallace, had whisked her away to a lake fishing cabin with her three siblings that day, so they would be nowhere near the wrenching historic drama in which her father played a leading role....

  • Originally published 06/11/2013

    Oprah giving $12M to new African-American museum

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Oprah Winfrey is giving $12 million to a museum being built on Washington's National Mall that will document African-American history, officials said Tuesday.The media mogul and former talk-show host previously gave $1 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the museum says her $13 million total contribution is its largest to date. As a result, the museum's 350-seat theater will be named after Winfrey, who is also a member of its advisory council.Construction on the $500 million museum began in early 2012. When it's finished in 2015, the museum will be the 19th Smithsonian museum. The U.S. government is providing half of the funding. To date, about $140 million has been raised in private funds....

  • Originally published 06/10/2013

    UNESCO team says destruction to Mali’s fabled Timbuktu is more alarming that first estimates

    UNITED NATIONS — A team of experts led by UNESCO said Friday it has found far more serious damage to Mali’s cultural heritage in the fabled city of Timbuktu than initially estimated, with 16 mausoleums totally destroyed and over 4,000 ancient manuscripts lost.Lazare Eloundou Assomo of UNESCO’s World Heritage Center, who led the mission, said a visit to the damaged and destroyed sites on Thursday revealed that the destruction by Islamist rebels who occupied Timbuktu and the rest of the north until early this year “is even more alarming than we thought.”“We discovered that 14 of Timbuktu’s mausoleums, including those that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage sites, were totally destroyed, along with two others at the Djingareyber Mosque,” a famous learning center built in 1327 which also needs to be repaired, he said....

  • Originally published 06/10/2013

    Over 50 years, local activists helped gay-rights movement surmount setbacks, make huge gains

    Go back 50 years in time.Homosexuality was deemed a mental disorder by the nation’s psychiatric authorities, and gay sex was a crime in every state but Illinois. Federal workers could be fired merely for being gay.Today, gays serve openly in the military, work as TV news anchors and federal judges, win elections as big-city mayors and members of Congress. Popular TV shows have gay protagonists.And now the gay-rights movement may be on the cusp of momentous legal breakthroughs. Later this month, a Supreme Court ruling could lead to legalization of same-sex marriage in California, and there’s a good chance the court will require the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages in all U.S. jurisdictions where they are legal — as of now, 12 states and Washington, D.C....

  • Originally published 06/10/2013

    Richard G. Doty, money expert and Smithsonian curator, dies at 71

    Richard G. Doty, a scholar of money who helped humanize coins and currency by showing how the objects might reflect the culture, values and history of a society, died June 2 at the Powhatan Nursing Home in Falls Church. He was 71.The cause was complications from lymphoma, said his wife, Cindi Roden.At the time of his death, Dr. Doty was the senior numismatic curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. “He was really a historian, more than a numismatic,” said Ute Wartenberg Kagan, executive director of the American Numismatic Society. “He interpreted the coins, and that made him very special.”...

  • Originally published 06/10/2013

    NH governor signs bill granting freedom request made by slaves in 1779

    PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Fourteen slaves who petitioned the New Hampshire Legislature for their freedom during the Revolutionary War were granted posthumous emancipation Friday when the governor signed a largely symbolic bill that supporters hope will encourage future generations to pursue social justice.A group of 20 slaves who had fought in the war submitted a petition to the New Hampshire General Assembly on Nov. 12, 1779, while the war was still being fought. They argued that the freedom being sought by colonists should be extended to them, as well, and maintained that “public tyranny and slavery are alike detestable to minds conscious of the equal dignity of human nature.”...

  • Originally published 06/07/2013

    Trinidad panel looks at 1990 coup attempt

    PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad — The Muslim cleric who led a small army that stormed Trinidad & Tobago’s parliament in a blaze of gunfire is a free man. Never convicted of any charges, he cheerfully presides over a mosque and school complex in the country’s bustling capital and shares time among his four wives, the maximum Islam allows.Yasin Abu Bakr and his followers were jailed for two years after the 1990 attempt to overthrow the government of one of the Caribbean’s most prosperous countries. But they were freed under an amnesty and attempts to prosecute them failed even though 24 people were killed. More than 50 people were taken hostage, including the prime minister, who was bound and shot in the leg.After years of lingering questions about the attempted coup by Bakr and 113 armed rebels, a commission appointed by the government in 2010 has been taking a fresh look into the only Islamic revolt in the Western Hemisphere. The commission has held more than a dozen sessions over three years in an effort to understand better how and why the violent upheaval occurred. But the panel has no subpoena power and the findings are unlikely to lead to any arrests....

  • Originally published 06/07/2013

    Galambos, Striner, and van Ee recommend Ike quotes for memorial

    WASHINGTON — Three historians are recommending the use of passages from key speeches by President Dwight D. Eisenhower — including his message to troops during the D-Day invasion — to help represent the 34th president in a planned memorial in the nation’s capital.On Wednesday night, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission hosted a public forum on which of Ike’s words should be included in the memorial planned for a site near the National Mall. The design of the planned memorial has been hotly debated.Professor Louis Galambos of Johns Hopkins University, Professor Richard Striner of Washington College in Maryland and former Library of Congress historian Daun van Ee studied Eisenhower’s speeches to recommend six for consideration. Two are from Eisenhower’s tenure as World War II general and four come from his presidency....

  • Originally published 05/29/2013

    Jewish fund, Germany agree on aid for Nazi victims

    BERLIN (AP) -- A fund for Jewish victims of Nazi crimes says it has reached an agreement with the German government for Berlin to provide some $1 billion in homecare for victims.A spokeswoman for the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany said Tuesday that about 56,000 survivors in about 46 different countries will receive financial support under the agreement for a four-year-period from 2014-2017.Hillary Kessler-Godin, speaking by phone from the fund's New York office, said the amount of financial aid for each person will depend on individual needs and circumstances....

  • Originally published 05/28/2013

    Granville Automatic works to save Civil War battlefield sites

    ATLANTA — Atlanta band Granville Automatic is preparing to release a music video filmed at an ice cream shop on the site of the 1864 battle that left the city in flames during the Civil War.The project is part of an effort to raise awareness about Civil War battlefields across the country, focusing particularly on those that lack the fame of places such as Gettysburg.The 150th anniversary of the war has led to renewed interest in preserving the battlefields and protecting them from development, said Mary Koik, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Civil War Trust....Granville Automatic partnered with the trust to produce a collection of songs about Civil War history across the nation. In “Copenhill,” the song about the Atlanta battle, lyrics recall how the city was burned by Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s federal army: “Burn, burn, burn till the flames hit the sky ...”...

  • Originally published 05/28/2013

    Serbia holds funeral for last Yugoslav king

    BELGRADE, Serbia — Serbia held a funeral on Sunday for Yugoslavia’s last king, Peter II Karadjordjevic, who had fled the country at the start of World War II and died in the U.S. in 1970.The former king’s remains, and those of his wife, mother and brother, were interred in the family tomb at St. George church in Oplenac, central Serbia, in a ceremony aired live on the state television.The funeral was attended by top state officials, who described it as an act of reconciliation and unity....

  • Originally published 05/28/2013

    Gettysburg readies for anniversary

    GETTYSBURG, Pa. — The commemoration of this year’s milestone anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg will include amenities that soldiers would have relished 150 years ago.A groomed path to the top of Little Round Top. Expanded cellphone coverage. Dozens of portable toilets.The National Park Service and a cadre of community organizers are busily putting the finishing touches on preparations for the commemoration of the pivotal battle of the American Civil War that cemented this small Pennsylvania town’s place in U.S history. Tens of thousands of visitors are expected for a 10-day schedule of events that begin June 29.“I think we’re ready,” Bob Kirby, superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park, said in a recent interview . “We’re ready for what the world would like to see.”...

  • Originally published 05/23/2013

    First lady lauds preservation of slave quarters

    WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama said Wednesday that stories of toil and sweat by slaves once held at a historic home within sight of the White House are an important part of U.S. history, including her own personal story, and are “as vital to our national memory as any other.”The first lady commented as American Express announced its donation of $1 million to the White House Historical Association to preserve Decatur House and pay for education programs for children. The nearly 200-year-old house is owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and operated by the association.Most of the money will be spent to preserve the building’s former slave quarters, where about 20 men and women “spent their days serving those who came and went from this house” and their nights “jammed together on the second floor of the slave quarters, all the while holding onto a quiet hope, a quiet prayer that they, too, and perhaps their children, would someday be free,” Mrs. Obama said....

  • Originally published 05/21/2013

    Smithsonian crowdsourcing yoga exhibit funding

    WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian is asking for the public to help fund an exhibit about the history of yoga.The first-ever exhibition on the visual history of yoga is scheduled to debut this fall at the Sackler Gallery....

  • Originally published 05/21/2013

    Group raising money for memorial to black Civil War veterans in Hagerstown

    HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Soldiers in Hagerstown were among the first black men in Maryland to join the ranks of the Union during the Civil War, and were involved in the siege of Petersburg, Va., during the conflict.Among the first local blacks who joined the Union were members of Moxley’s Band, a Hagerstown-based black brass band that became known as the 1st Brigade Band, U.S. Colored Troops, according to local historian Steve Bockmiller....

  • Originally published 05/14/2013

    Papers shed light on Thomas Jefferson

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Manuscripts and other materials that offer new perspectives on Thomas Jefferson are being donated to the foundation that owns his estate.The Thomas Jefferson Foundation was to formally accept 2,500 manuscripts, works of art and decorative objects at a reception Tuesday afternoon at the Jefferson Library at Monticello. The items donated by Sister Margherita Marchione are related to Jefferson’s longtime friend, Philip Mazzei.“The materials shed new light from different angles on Jefferson, Monticello, and the whole founding generation,” Jack Robertson, Monticello’s foundation librarian, told The Daily Progress (http://bit.ly/10UNnTC )....

  • Originally published 05/14/2013

    Candida Moss debunks the ‘myth’ of Christian persecution

    Growing up Catholic in England, Candida Moss felt secure in life, yet was told in church that Christians have been persecuted since the dawn of Christianity. Now, as an adult and a theologian, she wants to set the record straight.Too many modern Christians invoke, to lamentable effect, an ancient history of persecution that didn’t exist, Moss argues in her newly published book, “The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented A Story of Martyrdom.”Although anti-Christian prejudice was fairly widespread in the church’s first 300 years, she writes, “the prosecution of Christians was rare, and the persecution of Christians was limited to no more than a handful of years.”...

  • Originally published 05/14/2013

    NARA returns Landau docs

    BALTIMORE — FBI and National Archive officials are returning to their rightful owners more than 10,000 important historical documents seized during a massive theft investigation involving a well-known collector of presidential memorabilia.Barry Landau and assistant Jason Savedoff were caught stealing documents from the Maryland Historical Society almost two years ago. An investigation led authorities to a cache of thousands of stolen documents in Landau’s New York City apartment, including some containing a who’s who of American and international history. Both men pleaded guilty to their crimes and are serving prison sentences.Now, officials are returning the documents to 24 identified victims nationwide, including university libraries and historical societies in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. On Monday, they returned 21 items to the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore....

  • Originally published 05/14/2013

    Japanese mayor: Comfort women necessary

    TOKYO (AP) — An outspoken nationalist mayor said the Japanese military's forced prostitution of Asian women before and during World War II was necessary to "maintain discipline" in the ranks and provide rest for soldiers who risked their lives in battle.The comments made Monday are already raising ire in neighboring countries that bore the brunt of Japan's wartime aggression and have long complained that Japan has failed to fully atone for wartime atrocities.Toru Hashimoto, the young, brash mayor of Osaka who is co-leader of an emerging conservative political party, also said that U.S. troops currently based in southern Japan should patronize the local sex industry more to help reduce rapes and other assaults....

  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    90-year-old NJ veteran reunited with dog tag he lost in southern France during World War II

    NEWARK, N.J. — Carol Wilkins leaned over the side of her father’s wheelchair and handed him the small red box, a heart-shaped cutout revealing its contents: a weathered, bent silver dog tag.“Oh, Daddy, look,” Wilkins exclaimed as her 90-year-old father opened it, his eyes beaming and smile wide. “They’re back.”Sixty-nine years after losing his dog tag on the battlefields of southern France, Willie Wilkins reclaimed it Wednesday after a trans-Atlantic effort to return it to him. It started more than a decade ago in a French backyard and ended with a surprise ceremony in Newark City Hall....

  • Originally published 05/08/2013

    Israeli Holocaust memorial seeks to preserve memory of the 6 million victims, a name at a time

    REHOVOT, Israel — With a hand on her chest, 82-year-old Rivka Fringeru battled back tears as she reeled off a list of names she has rarely voiced in the past 70 years: her father, Moshe, then her mother, Hava, and finally her two older brothers, Michael and Yisrael.All perished in the Holocaust after the Harabju family from Dorohoi, Romania, was rounded up in 1944 and sent to ghettos and camps. Only Rivka and her brother Marco survived, and like many others, they spent the rest of their lives trying to move on and forget.Now, Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial and museum, is asking them to remember.Decades after the Holocaust, experts have documented the names of about 4.2 million of the roughly 6 million Jews who were killed by the Nazis in World War II, and officials are going door-to-door in a race to record the memories of elderly survivors before their stories are lost forever....

  • Originally published 05/08/2013

    Rare Hawaiian surfing book expected to sell for $40,000

    COSTA MESA, Calif. — A book about surfers in the early 1900s is expected to sell for about $40,000.A copy of “The Surf Riders of Hawaii” will go before bidders Saturday at the Surfing Heritage Vintage Surf Auction. The auction will include more than 60 vintage surfboards and other items.The book is one of eight made by hand by A.R. Gurrey Jr. between 1911 and 1915. Gurrey is considered the father of surf photography. The book helped spread surfing’s appeal from Hawaii to the mainland.It is composed of six leaves of heavy brown woven paper, with eight mounted gelatin-silver photographs of native Hawaiians surfing Waikiki. Among them is Duke Kahanamoku, the Olympic medalist swimmer who helped popularize the sport....

  • Originally published 05/08/2013

    Japan says it will honor apologies for WWII

    TOKYO — Japan does not plan to revise past apologies to neighboring countries for atrocities committed by its Imperial Army before and during World War II, top government officials said Wednesday.The comments by the chief government spokesman and the foreign minister appear intended to allay criticisms of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s earlier vows to revise the apologies, including an acknowledgement of sexual slavery during the war.Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Japan recognizes the harm it caused during its invasion and occupation of much of Asia, and that it has repeatedly and clearly stated that position.“The Abe government has expressed sincere condolences to all victims of the war, in and out of the country, and there is no change in that,” Suga told reporters. “We have repeatedly said we have no intention of making this a diplomatic and political issue, but I’m afraid this may not be fully understood.”...

  • Originally published 05/08/2013

    Producer seeks funds online for documentary on Antietam battlefield illumination

    SHARPSBURG, Md. — A Maryland producer is hoping an online campaign will help him create a documentary about annual Antietam National Battlefield Memorial IlluminationMichael Wicklein recently started a campaign to raise $23,110 to help fund the documentary through the website Kickstarter. The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown reports (http://bit.ly/13yIK6e) that “Gods and Generals” author Jeff Shaara announced this week that he plans to match up to $5,000 in contributions to help fund the documentary.Wicklein hopes to finish early next year after filming the 25th annual illumination. During the December event, volunteers place 23,000 luminarias at the battlefield to represent the casualties from the bloodiest single-day battle on American soil....

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    Smuggled dinosaur skeleton returned to Mongolia

    NEW YORK — It may be the first time a dead dinosaur is flying for free.U.S. authorities in New York are returning a 70-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus skeleton to the Mongolian government this week.The artifact will be flown to its native land free of charge via Korean Air, U.S. and Mongolian officials said Monday while announcing the repatriation of the priceless artifact."We are very pleased to have played a pivotal role in returning Mongolia's million-dollar baby," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said. "Of course, that million-dollar price tag, as high as it is, doesn't begin to describe the true value of an ancient artifact that is part of the fabric of a country's natural history and cultural heritage."...

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    1 of postwar Italy’s most powerful men, 7-time Premier Giulio Andreotti, dies at 94

    ROME — Giulio Andreotti personified the nation he helped shape, the good and the bad.One of Italy’s most important postwar figures, he helped draft the country’s constitution after World War II, served seven times as premier and spent 60 years in Parliament.But the Christian Democrat who was friends with popes and cardinals was also a controversial figure who survived corruption scandals and allegations of aiding the Mafia: Andreotti was accused of exchanging a “kiss of honor” with the mob’s longtime No. 1 boss and was indicted in what was called “the trial of the century” in Palermo.He was eventually cleared, but his legacy was forever marred....

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    9/11 museum officials say admission fee needed

    NEW YORK (AP) — Faced with hefty operating costs, the foundation building the 9/11 museum at the World Trade Center has decided to charge an admission fee of $20 to $25 when the site opens next year.The exact cost of the mandatory fee has not yet been decided.Entry to the memorial plaza with its twin reflecting pools still will be free.The decision to charge for the underground museum housing relics of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks has been greeted with dismay by some relatives of 9/11 victims....

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    Frontier Fort From Revolutionary War Found in Ga.

    Less than two months after British forces captured Savannah in December 1778, patriot militiamen scored a rare Revolutionary War victory in Georgia after a short but violent gunbattle forced British loyalists to abandon a small fort built on a frontiersman's cattle farm.More than 234 years later, archaeologists say they've pinpointed the location of Carr's Fort in northeastern Georgia after a search with metal detectors covering more than 4 square miles turned up musket balls and rifle parts as well as horse shoes and old frying pans.The February 1779 shootout at Carr's Fort turned back men sent to Wilkes County to recruit colonists loyal to the British army. It was also a prelude to the more prominent battle of Kettle Creek, where the same patriot fighters who attacked the fort went on to ambush and decimate an advancing British force of roughly 800 men....

  • Originally published 05/04/2013

    Work ahead for Scottsboro Boys pardons

    Though the Alabama Legislature has cleared the way for posthumous pardons of the Scottsboro Boys, much work — from legal documents to public hearings — remains before the names of the nine black teens wrongly convicted more than 80 years ago are officially cleared.The Scottsboro Boys were convicted by all-white juries of raping two white women on a train in Alabama in 1931. All but the youngest were sentenced to death, even though one of the women recanted her story. All eventually got out of prison. Only one received a pardon before he died.The case became a symbol of the tragedies wrought by racial injustice. It inspired songs, books and films. A Broadway musical was staged in 2010, the same year Washington opened a museum dedicated to the case. The Scottsboro Boys' appeals resulted in U.S. Supreme Court decisions that criminal defendants are entitled to effective counsel and that blacks can't be systematically excluded from criminal juries....

  • Originally published 05/02/2013

    Hitler’s food taster talks of Fuhrer's diet

    BERLIN — They were feasts of sublime asparagus — laced with fear. And for more than half a century, Margot Woelk kept her secret hidden from the world, even from her husband. Then, a few months after her 95th birthday, she revealed the truth about her wartime role: Adolf Hitler’s food taster.Woelk, then in her mid-twenties, spent two and a half years as one of 15 young women who sampled Hitler’s food to make sure it wasn’t poisoned before it was served to the Nazi leader in his “Wolf’s Lair,” the heavily guarded command center in what is now Poland, where he spent much of his time in the final years of World War II.“He was a vegetarian. He never ate any meat during the entire time I was there,” Woelk said of the Nazi leader. “And Hitler was so paranoid that the British would poison him — that’s why he had 15 girls taste the food before he ate it himself.”...

  • Originally published 05/02/2013

    9/11 plane part removed from building

    NEW YORK — Using a pulley system and sheer brawn, police removed a suspected 9/11 plane part from between two buildings near the World Trade Center site, and the medical examiner said no potential human remains had been found there.About a dozen officers raised the jagged, 255-pound metal piece, which contains cranks, levers and bolts from the ground. They took it over a three-story wall, lowered it into a courtyard and they carried it through the basement of a planned mosque, where it was discovered by an inspector last week.Onlookers across the street took pictures as they heaved it onto a truck taking it to a Brooklyn police facility. The process took about two hours....

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    Detroit wall dividing whites and blacks in 1940s remains, spurs art, jobs and object lessons

    DETROIT — When Eva Nelson-McClendon first moved to Detroit’s Birwood Street in 1959, she didn’t know much about the wall across the street. At 6 feet tall and a foot thick, it wasn’t so imposing, running as it did between houses on her street and one over. Then she started to hear the talk.Neighbors told her the wall was built two decades earlier with a simple aim: to separate homes planned for middle-class whites from blacks who had already built small houses or owned land with plans to build.“That was the division line,” Nelson-McClendon, now, 79, says from the kitchen of her tidy, one-story home on the city’s northwest side. “Blacks lived on this side, whites was living on the other side. ... That was the way it was.”That’s not the way it is anymore. But the wall remains, a physical embodiment of racial attitudes that the country long ago started trying to move beyond....

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    SD tribe faces deadline, $4.9M price to block development near Wounded Knee massacre site

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A small patch of prairie sits largely unnoticed off a desolate road in southwestern South Dakota, tucked amid gently rolling hills and surrounded by dilapidated structures and hundreds of gravesites — many belonging to Native Americans massacred more than a century earlier.The assessed value of the property: less than $14,000. The seller’s asking price: $4.9 million.Tribal members say the man who owns a piece of the Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is trying to profit from their suffering. It was there, on Dec. 29, 1890, that 300 Native American men, women and children were killed by the 7th Cavalry in the final battle of the American Indian Wars....

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    Gun billboards featuring Native Americans draws criticism

    GREELEY, Colo. — Two billboards in which images of Native Americans are used to make a gun rights argument are causing a stir with some Colorado residents who say the image is offensive and insensitive.The billboards in this northern Colorado city show three men dressed in traditional Native American attire and the words “Turn in your arms. The government will take care of you.”Matt Wells, an account executive with Lamar Advertising in Denver, said Monday that a group of local residents purchased the space.“They have asked to remain anonymous,” he said....

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    National Slavery Museum facing deadline

    FREDERICKSBURG, Va. — Attorneys for L. Douglas Wilder have a week to respond to the city of Fredericksburg’s attempt to sell 38 acres where the former governor wants to build the National Slavery Museum.The deadline is the latest back-and-forth over Wilder’s quest to build a museum telling the nation’s history of slavery. But first he must settle a large tax bill on the land and get fundraising back on track....

  • Originally published 04/25/2013

    Alexander Graham Bell’s voice recorded

    WASHINGTON — Researchers have identified the voice of Alexander Graham Bell for the first time in some of the earliest audio recordings held at the Smithsonian Institution.The National Museum of American History announced Wednesday that Bell’s voice was identified with help from technicians at the Library of Congress and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. The museum holds some of the earliest audio recordings ever made.Researchers found a transcript of one recording signed by Bell. It was matched to a wax disc recording from April 15, 1885.“Hear my voice, Alexander Graham Bell,” the inventor said.The experimental recording also includes a series of numbers. The transcript notes the record was made at Bell’s Volta Laboratory in Washington. Other recordings from the time include lines from Shakespeare....

  • Originally published 04/25/2013

    Berlin show offers a glimpse of the history of Uruk, pioneering metropolis in present-day Iraq

    BERLIN — Berlin’s Pergamon Museum is offering visitors a glimpse of perhaps the world’s first real metropolis in a new exhibition that traces the long history of Uruk, in present-day Iraq.Artifacts, including clay masks of demons, figurines of rulers, limestone ducks used as weights, a prism listing Sumerian kings and clay vessels used as water pipes, grace the exhibition “Uruk — 5,000 Years of the Megacity.” They date back as far as the 4th millennium B.C.The show marks a century of excavations at Uruk in which German experts have played a prominent part. But even now, organizers say, less than 5 percent of the sprawling site in the Iraqi desert about 260 kilometers (160 miles) south of Baghdad has been explored.Michael Eissenhauer, the director of Berlin’s city museums, said Wednesday the exhibition aims to illustrate the importance of Uruk, “the first identifiable major city in the history of mankind” — believed to have had about 40,000 inhabitants in the 4th millennium B.C. and city walls more than 9 kilometers (5 1/2 miles) long....

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams testifies against brother over charges he raped own daughter

    DUBLIN — The leader of the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein testified Monday in a Belfast court against his own brother, who faces criminal charges of raping his daughter — an alleged crime that Adams himself admitted he’d kept secret within the family.Gerry Adams, a reputed longtime commander of the outlawed Irish Republican Army and party leader for 30 years, insisted under cross-examination that he didn’t delay telling police to preserve his own political career atop Irish republicanism....

  • Originally published 04/18/2013

    American Indian tribes turn to technology in race to save endangered languages

    LAS VEGAS — In a windowless conference room in a Las Vegas casino, about three dozen people are swishing their fingers across iPads, trying out test versions of new apps and screening for glitches.But these are no Silicon Valley techies in town for one of the city’s massive electronics shows. Many are from far-flung American Indian reservations, and their high-tech devices are serving a decidedly old-school purpose: trying to save their languages from the brink of extinction.Experts say a growing number of tribes are trying to revitalize their languages, which in some cases are spoken by only a small handful of people. And increasingly, they’re enlisting technology in the effort....

  • Originally published 04/18/2013

    Robert Caro wins $10,000 Mark Lynton History prize

    NEW YORK — Historian and author Robert Caro has won yet another award.Caro’s latest Lyndon Johnson book, “The Passage of Power,” has received the Mark Lynton History prize. Caro, whose many honors during the past 40 years have included the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, will receive $10,000....

  • Originally published 04/18/2013

    Egyptian Jewish leader buried in rundown cemetery she sought to preserve

    CAIRO — The late leader of Egypt’s dwindling and aging Jewish community was buried Thursday in one the oldest cemeteries in Egypt, the once-sprawling burial ground she tirelessly worked to restore but which has now suffered looting and is drenched in sewage water and strewn with trash.Because of the sewage water that recently seeped up from underground, Carmen Weinstein, who died at the age of 82 in her Cairo home Saturday, was not buried near her mother Esther, but at the other end of the Jewish cemetery in the Bassatine district of Cairo....

  • Originally published 04/17/2013

    Va. Group Looks to Preserve Monticello’s View

    CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The foundation that owns Thomas Jefferson’s estate hopes to take efforts to preserve Monticello’s spectacular mountain views a step further, an idea that worries some developers.A request the group filed with the Albemarle County Planning Commission calls for nearly quadrupling the size of what’s known as the Monticello viewshed and expanding voluntary guidelines for developers in the region.“There’s a reason we’re up there with the pyramids and the Great Wall,” said Leslie Greene Bowman , president of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. “It has a lot do with Jefferson’s vision, not only figuratively but literally.”...

  • Originally published 04/07/2013

    Pennsylvania field holds secrets of 1780s British POW camp

    YORK, Pa. –  The mud of a south-central Pennsylvania cornfield may soon produce answers about the fate of British prisoners of war -- and the newly independent Americans who guarded them -- during the waning years of the American Revolution.A few miles east of York, the city that briefly served as the fledgling nation's capital after the Continental Congress fled Philadelphia, more than a thousand English, Scottish and Canadian soldiers were imprisoned at what was then known as Camp Security.The fight to preserve the plot where those soldiers and their captors worked and lived has lasted almost twice as long as the Revolutionary War itself. And the end is in sight -- if its backers can raise the last few hundred thousand dollars needed to pay for it....

  • Originally published 04/05/2013

    Why Jackie Robinson still matters

    LOS ANGELES — There’s a scene in “42” in which Jackie Robinson, the first black player in modern Major League Baseball, endures intolerably cruel racial slurs from the Philadelphia Phillies’ manager.It’s early in the 1947 season. Each time the Brooklyn Dodgers’ first baseman comes up to bat, manager Ben Chapman emerges from the dugout, stands on the field and taunts him with increasingly personal and vitriolic attacks. It’s a visible struggle, but No. 42 maintains his composure before a crowd of thousands.As a viewer, it’s uncomfortable to watch — although as writer-director Brian Helgeland points out, “if anything, the language we have in that scene was cleaned up from what it was.”...

  • Originally published 04/05/2013

    TX looks at Hispanic history

    CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — For most residents from bigger Texas cities, the South Texas city of Corpus Christi has always been a day-trip destination for a quick beach getaway. But often overlooked are the coastal city’s deep roots in Mexican-American history, some of it wrapped up in the civil rights movement.And while Corpus Christi doesn’t have a huge number of museums or landmarks connected to Latino history, visitors can find plenty of interesting things to see, from an exhibit about a physician and civil rights leader to a statue of the late Tejano star Selena....

  • Originally published 04/05/2013

    Hidden WWII photos inspire doc

    BOSTON — Matthew Nash’s grandfather only mentioned the photographs to him once.Twenty-five-years later, they are the subject of a new documentary on the Holocaust that Nash spent three years making after finding the pictures his grandfather took while serving as an Army medic in World War II.Kept hidden from Nash and others in the family, the photos were not something Nash’s grandfather seemed to want to talk about with relatives. But they were something he could never forget....

  • Originally published 04/05/2013

    'Renoir Girl' unmasked

    She called herself “Renoir Girl,” refusing to reveal her identity and offering few details about her biography. She lived in Northern Virginia, once taught in Washington area schools and was well-known in her community.What made her irresistible to reporters wasn’t who she was, but what she said she’d found: A bona-fide painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir in a $7 box of trinkets purchased at a West Virginia flea market.The story generated worldwide attention and, for a time, promised to produce a six-figure windfall at auction for its accidental owner. But late last year, the FBI seized the painting, called “On the Shore of the Seine,” after the Baltimore Museum of Art learned it had been stolen in 1951....

  • Originally published 04/05/2013

    Haitian historian Georges Corvington, who chronicled the country’s capital, dies at age 88

    PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Georges Corvington, a prominent Haitian historian best known for his exhaustive study of the Caribbean nation’s capital of Port-au-Prince, died Wednesday at age 88, a close friend said.Fellow historian and longtime friend Georges Michel said that Corvington died peacefully in his sleep at his home in the capital he wrote so much about. Michel said Covington had recently spent a few weeks in the hospital and the cause of death was heart failure.“He’s a giant that has fallen,” said Michel, who is also a physician. “He was the greatest living Haitian historian.”...

  • Originally published 04/03/2013

    45 years after King was killed supporting them, Memphis sanitation workers fighting for jobs

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. — They rode the streets of Memphis in creaky, dangerous garbage trucks, picking up trash from home after home, toiling for a sanitation department that treated them with indifference bordering on disdain. In 1968 those workers took to the streets, marching with civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to demand better working conditions, higher pay and union protection.Forty-five years after King was killed supporting their historic strike, some of the same men who marched with him still pick up Memphis’ garbage — and now they are fighting to hold on to jobs that some city leaders want to hand over to a private company....

  • Originally published 04/03/2013

    Al Green, William Bell, Mavis Staples, others to help celebrate Memphis soul at White House

    WASHINGTON — The White House is going to sway to the sounds of soul next week.A dozen music legends and contemporary artists ranging from William Bell and Mavis Staples to Cyndi Lauper and Justin Timberlake will be on hand Tuesday to help President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama celebrate Memphis soul music.Performers will also participate in a workshop on the history of Memphis soul for students from around the country....

  • Originally published 04/01/2013

    A post-racial US? Supreme Court may nullify civil rights policies as outdated in era of Obama

    WASHINGTON — Has the nation lived down its history of racism and should the law become colorblind?Addressing two pivotal legal issues, one on affirmative action and a second on voting rights, a divided Supreme Court is poised to answer those questions.In one case, the issue is whether race preferences in university admissions undermine equal opportunity more than they promote the benefits of racial diversity. Just this past week, justices signaled their interest in scrutinizing affirmative action very intensely, expanding their review as well to a Michigan law passed by voters that bars “preferential treatment” to students based on race. Separately in a second case, the court must decide whether race relations — in the South, particularly — have improved to the point that federal laws protecting minority voting rights are no longer warranted....

  • Originally published 03/29/2013

    Pope washes women's feet in break with church law

    ROME (AP) — In his most significant break with tradition yet, Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of two young women at a juvenile detention center — a surprising departure from church rules that restrict the Holy Thursday ritual to men.No pope has ever washed the feet of a woman before, and Francis' gesture sparked a debate among some conservatives and liturgical purists, who lamented he had set a "questionable example." Liberals welcomed the move as a sign of greater inclusiveness in the church.Speaking to the young offenders, including Muslims and Orthodox Christians, Francis said that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples on the eve of his crucifixion in a gesture of love and service....

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    China's First Lady was crooner to troops who suppressed Tiananmen Square protests

    BEIJING — A photo of China’s new first lady Peng Liyuan in younger days, singing to martial-law troops following the 1989 bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, flickered across Chinese cyberspace this week.It was swiftly scrubbed from China’s Internet before it could generate discussion online. But the image — seen and shared by outside observers — revived a memory the leadership prefers to suppress and shows one of the challenges in presenting Peng on the world stage as the softer side of China.The country has no recent precedent for the role of first lady, and also faces a tricky balance at home. The leadership wants Peng to show the human side of the new No. 1 leader, Xi Jinping, while not exposing too many perks of the elite. And it must balance popular support for the first couple with an acute wariness of personality cults that could skew the consensus rule among the Chinese Communist Party’s top leaders....

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    Gun supporters use of Nazi, Hitler references irritates historians

    When the president of Ohio's state school board posted her opposition to gun control, she used a powerful symbol to make her point: a picture of Adolf Hitler. When a well-known conservative commentator decried efforts to restrict guns, he argued that if only Jews in Poland had been better armed, many more would have survived the Holocaust.In the months since the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, some gun rights supporters have repeatedly compared U.S. gun control efforts to Nazi restrictions on firearms, arguing that limiting weapons ownership could leave Americans defenseless against homegrown tyrants.But some experts say that argument distorts a complex and contrary history. In reality, scholars say, Hitler loosened the tight gun laws that governed Germany after World War I, even as he barred Jews from owning weapons and moved to confiscate them.

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    What makes a Latino?

    He is being hailed with pride and wonder as the “first Latino pope,” a native Spanish speaker born and raised in the South American nation of Argentina. But for some Latinos in the United States, there’s a catch: Pope Francis’ parents were born in Italy.Such recent European heritage is reviving debate in the United States about what makes someone a Latino. Those questioning whether their idea of Latino identity applies to Pope Francis acknowledge that he is Latin American, and that he is a special inspiration to Spanish-speaking Catholics around the world. Yet that, in their eyes, does not mean the pope is “Latino.”These views seem to be in the minority. But they have become a distinct part of the conversation in the United States as the Latino world contemplates this unique man and moment.—”Are Italians Latino? No,” says Eric Cortes, who has been debating the issue with his friends....

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Slavery, Holocaust never OK as political fodder, but Cuccinelli’s history on faith was right

    RICHMOND, Va. — Ken Cuccinelli learned last week that it’s foolhardy to invoke slavery to make a political point.The presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee set off a furor when Democratic Party video surfaced of him comparing the 19th century abolition struggle that triggered the nation’s deadliest war with today’s anti-abortion movement.In remarks made in June 2012 to a Family Foundation gathering of Christian conservatives in Williamsburg, Cuccinelli connected the dots between the role of churches in the early 19th century played in fomenting the movement to contain and eradicate slavery to that of evangelicals in today’s moral crusade against abortion....

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Saplings from tree outside Anne Frank’s hiding spot take root at schools, museums, parks in U.S.

    INDIANAPOLIS — Saplings from the chestnut tree that stood as a symbol of hope for Anne Frank as she hid from the Nazis for two years in Amsterdam are being distributed to 11 locations in the United States as part of a project that aims to preserve her legacy and promote tolerance.The tree, one of the Jewish teenager’s only connections to nature while she hid with her family in a Secret Annex in her father’s company building, was diseased and rotted through the trunk when wind and heavy rain toppled it in August 2010. But saplings grown from its seeds will be planted starting in April, when the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis will put the first one in the ground....

  • Originally published 03/20/2013

    Researchers publish Neanderthal genome

    Researchers in Germany have completed the first high-quality sequencing of a Neanderthal genome.The scientific data gleaned from remains of a Neanderthal toe bone found in a Siberian cave are being made freely available online. The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig said in a statement Tuesday the high quality of the genome meant its scientists were already able to determine which parts of DNA were inherited from its mother and father....

  • Originally published 03/19/2013

    U.S. war costs last for more than a century, monthly payments to Civil War vet families

    OLYMPIA, Wash. — If history is any judge, the U.S. government will be paying for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for the next century as service members and their families grapple with the sacrifices of combat.An Associated Press analysis of federal payment records found that the government is still making monthly payments to relatives of Civil War veterans — 148 years after the conflict ended.At the 10 year anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, more than $40 billion a year are going to compensate veterans and survivors from the Spanish-American War from 1898, World War I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the two Iraq campaigns and the Afghanistan conflict. And those costs are rising rapidly....

  • Originally published 03/19/2013

    Smithsonian’s American history museum begins creating archive on US farming, innovation

    WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is collecting stories about agriculture innovations for a future exhibition on American business.The museum is launching a web portal Tuesday for people to share stories, photographs and materials about innovations that changed farming. The museum also is accepting items already donated by farmers in Illinois, Tennessee and California for a new agriculture archive....

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    Khmer Rouge co-founder dies

    Ieng Sary, who co-founded Cambodia's brutal Khmer Rouge movement in 1970s, was its public face abroad and decades later became one of its few leaders to be put on trial for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people, died Thursday morning. He was 87.His death, however, came before any verdict was reached in his case, dashing hopes among survivors and court prosecutors that he would ever be punished for his alleged war crimes stemming from the darkest chapter in the country's history.

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    Latvia commemorates Waffen-SS

    RIGA, Latvia — Over a thousand Latvians on Saturday commemorated Nazi-allied World War II soldiers while police used force to prevent violence from erupting between participants and ethnic Russians, who are a minority in the country.Many Latvians consider March 16, or Legionnaires Day, an opportunity to commemorate war veterans, while Russians see it as an attempt to glorify fascism and whitewash a black chapter in Latvia’s history.Latvia, which gained its independence after World War I, was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940, then by Nazi Germany a year later, and again by the Soviets in 1944. During the Nazi occupation thousands of Latvians were forcibly conscripted into the Waffen SS divisions, and many Latvians consider them to be heroes who fought for independence from communism.Some 250,000 Latvians fought alongside either the Germans or the Soviets, with approximately 150,000 eventually dying in battles....

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    Convicted terrorist set to be released from prison in 1982 airline attack that killed teen

    WASHINGTON — Mohammed Rashed slipped a bomb beneath the jetliner seat cushion, set the timer and disembarked with his wife and child when the plane landed in Tokyo. The device exploded as Pan Am Flight 830 continued on to Honolulu, killing a Japanese teenager in a 1982 attack that investigators linked to a terrorist organization known for making sophisticated bombs.It would be 20 years before the bomber — and one-time apprentice to Abu Ibrahim, currently featured on the FBI list of most wanted terrorists — would admit guilt in an American courtroom.Now, credited for his cooperation against associates, Rashed will be released from federal prison within days after more than two decades in custody in Greece and the United States....

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    Saddam’s specter lives on in Iraqi landmarks

    BAGHDAD — The soaring half domes of the Martyr Monument stand out against the drabness of eastern Baghdad, not far from where Saddam Hussein’s feared eldest son was said to torture underperforming athletes.Saddam built the split teardrop-shaped sculpture in the middle of a manmade lake in the early 1980s to commemorate Iraqis killed in the Iran-Iraq War. The names of hundreds of thousands of fallen Iraqi soldiers are inscribed in simple Arabic script around the base.Today the monument stands as a memorial to a different sort of martyr. In recent years, the Shiite-led government has begun turning it into a museum honoring the overwhelmingly Shiite and Kurdish victims of Saddam’s Sunni-dominated regime....

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    Saddam’s specter lives on in Iraqi landmarks

    BAGHDAD — The soaring half domes of the Martyr Monument stand out against the drabness of eastern Baghdad, not far from where Saddam Hussein’s feared eldest son was said to torture underperforming athletes.Saddam built the split teardrop-shaped sculpture in the middle of a manmade lake in the early 1980s to commemorate Iraqis killed in the Iran-Iraq War. The names of hundreds of thousands of fallen Iraqi soldiers are inscribed in simple Arabic script around the base.Today the monument stands as a memorial to a different sort of martyr. In recent years, the Shiite-led government has begun turning it into a museum honoring the overwhelmingly Shiite and Kurdish victims of Saddam’s Sunni-dominated regime....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Benedict’s Obedience to New Pope Part of Tradition

    (VATICAN CITY) — He slipped it in at the end of his speech, and said it so quickly and softly it almost sounded like an afterthought.But in pledging his “unconditional reverence and obedience” to the next pope, Benedict XVI took a critical step toward ensuring that his decision to break with 600 years of tradition and retire as pope doesn’t create a schism within the church.It was also a very personal expression of one of the tenets of Christian tradition that dates back to Jesus’ crucifixion: obedience to a higher authority....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Local History Buffs Munch on Muskrat in Michigan

    (MONROE, Mich.) — Most of the menu read like a typical buffet, with soup, salad, turkey, pork and potatoes. But the first offering at the annual Muskrat Dinner in Michigan was distinctive: a pot of the rodent’s meat mixed with creamed corn.“Most beginners are a little hesitant to dive in, especially when they see the carcass laid out on the plate,” said Ralph Naveaux, who helped organize the event. “But those of us that have been raised on it, we just adore them. It’s almost an addiction.”Members of the Algonquin Club of Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, and other muskrat aficionados — about 80 in all — made their way to the Monroe Boat Club, 40 miles south of Detroit, for the recent event....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    ATF honors 4 agents killed in botched 1993 raid on Branch Davidians compound near Waco

    WACO, Texas — The 20th anniversary of the disastrous raid on the Branch Davidians compound near Waco passed quietly Thursday, as colleagues of the four agents who died gathered in private and local officials made no plans to mark the day.The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives held a ceremony in Waco to honor agents Conway LeBleu, Todd McKeehan, Robert John Williams and Steven Willis, the four agents who died in the Feb. 28, 1993 raid. Six Davidian members also died in that raid, which began a 51-day standoff that ended with the compound burning and the deaths of about 80 more sect members, including two dozen children.The incident cast an international spotlight on Waco and Central Texas, as well as the ATF, which was criticized in a later government review for not calling off the raid after sect members found out about it....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    New Hampshire to consider honoring a 233-year-old petition from slaves seeking freedom

    CONCORD, N.H. — When 20 slaves petitioned New Hampshire two centuries ago seeking their freedom, lawmakers decided the time wasn’t right and delayed action.Now, 233 years later, legislators in one of the nation’s whitest states have decided the time is right to consider the request. A Senate committee on Wednesday unanimously recommended the full body posthumously emancipate the 14 petitioners who never were granted freedom.Woullard Lett, a member of the Manchester NAACP, said it’s never too late to right a wrong....

  • Originally published 03/07/2013

    Filibuster has long Senate history

    WASHINGTON — The filibuster — used this week by Republican Sen. Rand Paul to oppose John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director — is a parliamentary tactic used to block or delay legislative action.Using a filibuster, a senator can essentially hold the floor to prevent a bill from coming to a vote.Filibusters — from the Dutch word for “pirate” — were popularized in the 1850s and continue today in the Senate on the thinking that any senator should be able to speak as long as necessary on an issue, according to Senate historians. Paul’s filibuster lasted nearly 13 hours, ending early Thursday....

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    Park service says budget cuts won’t derail 150th anniversary events at Gettysburg

    GETTYSBURG, Pa. — The National Park Service says federal budget cuts won’t derail the events planned for the Battle of Gettysburg’s 150th anniversary.Bob Kirby, the superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park, says Friday that an extensive series of special programs will take place as planned this summer, though the budget cuts will have some impacts.Kirby says the non-profit Gettysburg Foundation is also providing some extra support this year....

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    North Korea vows to cancel cease-fire

    SEOUL, South Korea –  North Korea vowed Tuesday to cancel the 1953 cease-fire that ended the Korean War, citing a U.S.-led push for punishing U.N. sanctions over its recent nuclear test and ongoing U.S.-South Korean joint military drills.Without elaborating, the Korean People's Army Supreme Command warned of "surgical strikes" meant to unify the divided Korean Peninsula and of an indigenous, "precision nuclear striking tool." The statement came amid reports that Washington and North Korean ally Beijing have approved a draft of a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for sanctions in response to North Korea's Feb. 12 nuclear test. The draft is expected to be circulated at the U.N. this week.Such heated military rhetoric and threats are common from North Korea as tensions rise on the Korean Peninsula, and Pyongyang's recent nuclear test and rocket launches, and the push for U.N. punishment that have followed, have increased already high animosity between the North and Washington and ally Seoul....

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    Demolition of Gettysburg Cyclorama building begins

    GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Demolition work has begun on the Cyclorama building at the Gettysburg National Military Park that used to house the 377-foot painting depicting a pivotal moment in the Civil War battle.Workers began tearing down the building last week, and park superintendent Bob Kirby told The (Hanover) Evening Sun that the demolition is scheduled to be completed by the end of April.The park service has planned to tear down the building since 1999 but the architect’s son and a preservation group opposed the decision, and a court battle ensued that lasted more than three times the length of the Civil War. A court-ordered study last year concluded that demolition was the best course of action....

  • Originally published 03/03/2013

    Ceremony for Monitor sailors stirs familial ties

    A century and a half after USS Monitor sank, the interment of two unknown crewmen found in the Civil War ironclad's turret is bringing together people from across the country with distant but powerful ties to those who died aboard.The ceremony Friday at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington will include Monitor kin who believe the two sailors — whose remains were discovered in 2002 — are their ancestors, despite DNA testing that has failed to make a conclusive link. But the families stress that the interment pays homage to all 16 Union sailors who died when the ship went down, and nearly 100 people from Maine to California are expected to attend."When I learned they were going to do a memorial and have the burial at Arlington, it was like, 'I can't miss that,'" said Andy Bryan of Holden, Maine, who will travel with his daughter Margaret to the capital. He said DNA testing found a 50 percent likelihood that Monitor crewman William Bryan, his great-great-great-uncle, was one of the two found in the summer of 2002, when the 150-ton turret was raised from the ocean floor off Cape Hatteras, N.C."If it's not William Bryan, I'm OK with that," Bryan said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I feel like I should be there."...

  • Originally published 03/03/2013

    Developer pledges to continue Berlin Wall removal

    A German property developer has rejected calls to halt work to remove one of the last remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall, despite angry protests against the plan.Maik Uwe Hinkel says work to move a 22-meter (yard) section of the 1.3 kilometer (3/4 mile) section of the wall will resume next week...

  • Originally published 02/28/2013

    Universities, theaters in 4 cities to join in creating new theatrical productions on Civil War

    WASHINGTON — Four major universities are joining theater companies in Boston, Baltimore, Washington and Atlanta in a project to commission new plays, music and dance compositions about the Civil War and its lasting legacy.The National Civil War Project announced Thursday in Washington will involve programming over the next two years to mark the 150th anniversary of the war between North and South. Beyond commissioning new works, organizers plan for university faculty to integrate the arts into their academic programs on campus....

  • Originally published 02/28/2013

    WWII Doolittle Raider Tom Griffin dies at 96

    CINCINNATI — Maj. Thomas C. “Tom” Griffin, a B-25 bomber navigator in the audacious Doolittle’s Raid attack on mainland Japan during World War II, has died.His death at age 96 leaves four surviving Raiders.Griffin died Tuesday in a veterans nursing home in northern Kentucky. He was among the 80 original volunteers for the daring April 18, 1942, mission. When they began training, they were told only it would be “extremely hazardous,” coming in the aftermath of Japan’s devastating attack on Pearl Harbor and a string of other Japanese military successes....

  • Originally published 02/28/2013

    Lionheart has heart of potpourri

    PARIS — King Richard I, the 12th-century warrior whose bravery during the Third Crusade gained him the moniker Lionheart, ended up with a heart full of daisies, as well as myrtle, mint and frankincense.Those were among the findings of a French study, announced Thursday, which analyzed the embalmed heart of the English king more than 810 years after he died.The biomedical analysis also uncovered less flowery and spicy elements like creosote, mercury and perhaps lime in the heart, which has been in the western French city of Rouen since his death in 1199.Despite the embalming ingredients, the heart turned to powder long ago, doubtless because the lead box cradling it wasn’t airtight. It’s so unsightly now that it’s kept from public view....

  • Originally published 02/28/2013

    Swiss Guards central in papal retirement

    VATICAN CITY — In their plumed helmets and striped uniforms, the Swiss Guards are one of the most beloved traditions of the Vatican — and on Thursday take a central role in the pope’s historic resignation. The bodyguards will stand at attention as the pope arrives by helicopter at his summer retreat in his last hours as pontiff. When they walk off duty, it will be one of the few visible signs that Benedict XVI is no longer pope. A look at the Swiss guards and their colorful history.ORIGINS:The corps, which some historians consider the oldest standing army in the world, was founded in 1506 by Pope Giulio II. Tradition has it that he was so impressed by the bravery of Swiss mercenaries that he asked them to defend the Vatican. Ever since, for more than 500 years, Switzerland has been supplying soldiers to the Vatican. The Swiss Guards swear an oath to give up their lives to protect the pope — and in centuries past, they have. In 1527, 147 of them died protecting Pope Clement VII as he fled to safety when the troops of Emperor Charles V sacked Rome....

  • Originally published 02/28/2013

    Benedict becomes 1st pope in 600 years to resign

    CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (AP) -- Benedict XVI has become the first pope in 600 years to resign, ending an eight-year pontificate shaped by struggles to move the church past sex abuse scandals and to reawaken Christianity in an indifferent world.The Swiss Guards standing at attention in Castel Gandolfo shut the gates of the palazzo shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday (2 p.m. EST), symbolically closing the doors on a papacy whose legacy will be most marked by the way it ended - a resignation instead of a death.In a final farewell to his cardinals as pope, Benedict tried to dispel concerns about the unprecedented future awaiting the Catholic Church, with one reigning and one retired pope living side-by-side. He pledged his "unconditional reverence and obedience" to his successor....

  • Originally published 02/26/2013

    As atrocities mount, Syrians collect evidence of war crimes with an eye toward future trials

    BEIRUT — Syrian activist Yashar hopes the security agents who tormented him during five months of detention will one day be put on trial. In detention, he says, he was locked naked in a tiny box for a week, beaten daily during marathon interrogations and blindfolded for 45 days.A whole range of groups have accelerated a campaign to gather evidence of war crimes including torture, massacres and indiscriminate killings in the Syrian regime’s war against rebels, hoping to find justice if President Bashar Assad falls. Some talk about referring the cases to the International Criminal Court or forming a special tribunal, but many in Syria hope that it’s all laid out in the country’s own courtrooms.“I want to take my case to a Syrian court and a Syrian judge who will put my torturers in the same jail where I was held,” Yashar, 28, told The Associated Press. He declined to give his full name for security reasons....

  • Originally published 02/23/2013

    Anti-communist oaths persist despite court rulings

    It has been just shy of 50 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Washington state law barring members of the Communist Party from voting or holding public-sector jobs is unconstitutional.Evidently, that is not enough time to remove it from the books.Washington is one of a handful of states with similar laws still in existence despite their having been declared unconstitutional decades ago.With few exceptions - most notably Georgia, where an anti-communist oath was administered to incoming Dunwoody City Councilmembers as recently as last year - the laws are treated as part of a bygone era, not unlike state statutes prohibiting interracial marriage, the last of which was removed from Alabama's books in 2001 even though the Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional in 1967.

  • Originally published 02/23/2013

    Mandela family launches wine collection in Miami

    For decades, Nelson Mandela's name has been synonymous with political reform and the struggle against South African apartheid.Now with the launch of House of Mandela Wines, his daughter and granddaughter hope to add fine wine to the list of associations.It's a sign of just how far both the wine industry and the country have come since 1994, when apartheid was dismantled and Mandela was elected the nation's first black president...

  • Originally published 02/23/2013

    National park cuts detailed in memo

    The towering giant sequoias at Yosemite National Park would go unprotected from visitors who might trample their shallow roots. At Cape Cod National Seashore, large sections of the Great Beach would close to keep eggs from being destroyed if natural resource managers are cut.Gettysburg would decrease by one-fifth the numbers of school children who learn about the historic Pennsylvania battle that was a turning point in the Civil War.As America's financial clock ticks toward forced spending cuts to countless government agencies, The Associated Press has obtained a National Park Service memo that compiles a list of potential effects at the nation's most beautiful and historic places just as spring vacation season begins......Even Declaration House in Pennsylvania, the place where Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, wouldn't be spared. Nor would comfort stations on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi...

  • Originally published 02/23/2013

    German police return smuggled artifacts to Kosovo

    Seven artifacts dating as far back as 4,000 B.C. have been returned to Kosovo after German police stumbled on them in an unrelated raid, the country's culture minister said Friday.The artifacts date to the Neolithic period and are believed to belong to the Vinca, a prehistoric culture that traces back to 5,500 B.C. in southern Europe. Police in central Germany found them in 2005 during a separate undisclosed investigation, discovering the pieces in a sports bag belonging to two Serbs...

  • Originally published 02/23/2013

    Emory president's essay draws criticisms

    In recent years, Emory University made a point to acknowledge how the school was once led by slave owners, but an essay by the school president has renewed debate about racial sensitivity on campus.Emory President James Wagner recently wrote about the three-fifths compromise on slavery in 1787 to talk about the value of finding common ground in politics. In the compromise, northern and southern states agreed that three-fifths of the slave population would count toward representation in Congress, giving southerners more power in the House of Representatives.A faculty group voted to censure Wagner and students planned a protest next week...

  • Originally published 02/22/2013

    Robert Caro wins $50,000 history prize

    Robert Caro has won yet another literary prize, this one worth $50,000.The New-York Historical Society announced Thursday that Caro had won its American History Book Prize for the fourth volume of his Lyndon Johnson series, "The Passage of Power."...

  • Originally published 02/22/2013

    Putin's idea to house Jewish collections rejected

    A U.S.-based Jewish group Thursday rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin's suggestion to house disputed historical collections of books and documents at a Jewish museum in Moscow.Nathan Lewin, a lawyer for the Jewish group Chabad, said in a statement provided to The Associated Press that Chabad is the rightful owner and Putin's proposal is not acceptable.

  • Originally published 02/21/2013

    Putin's idea to house Jewish collections rejected

    A U.S.-based Jewish group Thursday rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin's suggestion to house disputed historical collections of books and documents at a Jewish museum in Moscow.Nathan Lewin, a lawyer for the Jewish group Chabad, said in a statement provided to The Associated Press that Chabad is the rightful owner and Putin's proposal is not acceptable.

  • Originally published 02/21/2013

    Ireland apologizes to women of Catholic laundries

    DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland ignored the mistreatment of thousands of women who were incarcerated within Catholic nun-operated laundries and must pay the survivors compensation, Prime Minister Enda Kenny said Tuesday in an emotional state apology for the decades of abuses in the so-called Magdalene Laundries."By any standards it was a cruel, pitiless Ireland, distinctly lacking in a quality of mercy," Kenny said, as dozens of former Magdalenes watched tearfully from parliament's public gallery overhead.Kenny told lawmakers his government has appointed a senior judge to recommend an aid program for the approximately 1,000 women still living from the residential workhouses, the last of which closed in 1996. He also pledged government funding for the erection of a national memorial "to remind us all of this dark part of our history."...

  • Originally published 02/15/2013

    France to return 7 paintings looted during WWII

    PARIS (AP) — France is returning seven paintings taken from their Jewish owners during World War II, part of an ongoing effort to give back hundreds of looted artworks that still hang in the Louvre and other museums.The works were stolen or sold under duress up to seven decades ago as their Jewish owners fled Nazi-occupied Europe. All seven were destined for display in the art gallery Adolf Hitler wanted to build in his birthplace of Linz, Austria, according to a catalog for the planned museum....

  • Originally published 02/14/2013

    2 USS Monitor sailors to be interred at Arlington

    Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says the remains of two unknown Union sailors recovered from the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery on March 8.In an announcement Tuesday, Mabus said they could be the last Navy personnel from the Civil War buried at Arlington...

  • Originally published 02/14/2013

    Wrestling ousted from Olympics

    ...International Olympic Committee leaders dropped wrestling from the Summer Games on Tuesday. The move is set to take effect for the 2020 Olympics and eliminates a sport that has been a staple of both the ancient and modern games. Though wrestling's chances of making it back onto the Olympic program by 2020 are considered slim, the sport has two chances left to stop the drop.Wrestling was voted out from a final group that also included modern pentathlon, taekwondo and field hockey, officials familiar with the vote told The Associated Press. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the voting details were not made public.But the IOC executive board will meet in May in St. Petersburg, Russia, to decide which sport or sports to propose for 2020 inclusion. The final vote will be made at the IOC session, or general assembly, in September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  • Originally published 02/14/2013

    Landowner trying to sell portion of Wounded Knee

    One of the country's poorest Native American tribes wants to buy a historically significant piece of land where 300 of their ancestors were killed, but tribal leaders say the nearly $4 million price tag for a property appraised at less than $7,000 is just too much.James Czywczynski is trying to sell a 40-acre fraction of the Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The land sits adjacent to a gravesite where about 150 of the 300 Lakota men, women and children killed by the 7th Cavalry in 1890 are buried.Czywczynski, whose family has owned the property since 1968, recently gave the tribe an ultimatum: purchase the land for $3.9 million or he will open up bidding to non-Native Americans. He said he has been trying to sell the land to the tribe for years...

  • Originally published 02/13/2013

    Syrian official warns of trafficking in antiquities

    AMMAN, Jordan — A Syrian government official warned Wednesday of rampant trafficking in antiquities from his country and appealed for U.N. help in halting the illicit trade that has flourished during the nearly 23-month-long civil war.Syria’s turmoil has increasingly threatened the country’s rich archaeological heritage but the issue of smuggling artifacts has taken a back seat to more dramatic images as some of the most significant sites got caught in the crossfire between regime forces and rebels.President Bashar Assad’s troops have shelled rebel-held neighborhoods, smashing historic mosques, churches and souks, or markets. Looters have stolen artifacts from archaeological excavations and, to a lesser extent, museums....

  • Originally published 02/12/2013

    Eisenhower Library's ambitious exhibit

    TOPEKA, Kan. — A new World War II exhibit starting this summer at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum will pay tribute to the millions who fought, but organizers also have another purpose for the ambitious three-year project: getting young people engaged in the war’s relevance.Karl Weissenbach, executive director of the library and museum in Abilene, said the “Leaders, Battles and Heroes” exhibit will be directed at younger generations that often know little about the war, its significance in world history or the impact of its outcome.“It’s amazing how little information and understanding they have about World War II,” Weissenbach said. “You ask them questions and often you get a blank stare. That’s really unsettling.”...

  • Originally published 02/11/2013

    Confederate flag mistakenly raised over Mississippi Supreme Court building

    The Confederate flag was mistakenly raised for a few hours over the Mississippi Supreme Court in Jackson on Friday.A replacement was needed a Mississippi state flag that was tattered and torn, Kym Wiggins, public information officer for the state Department of Fiance and Administration told the Clarion-Ledger.Calling the incident, "highly unusual," Wiggins explained to the paper that a local vendor was tasked with the job of purchasing new state flags to replace the one that was torn. Wiggins claims they were given two boxes labeled "Mississippi State Flag," but the boxes actually contained Confederate battle flags. After a maintenance worker raised the flag, the mistake went unnoticed for a couple of hours....

  • Originally published 02/07/2013

    Educators push to bring Haiti’s native Creole language to the front of the class

    ...[L]ess than 10 percent of [Haiti]’s 10 million people speak French fluently, and in most schools, even the teachers don’t understand it very well although they’re asked to teach in it.The private Louverture Cleary School has already broken from that linguistic tradition and is instead emphasizing the Haitian Creole children speak at home. The school is also introducing students to Spanish from other parts of the Caribbean and the English they will likely need in the future....Haiti’s 1805 Constitution declared that tuition would be free and attendance compulsory for primary students. But the quality of education lagged through the years, and plunged during the 29-year-long dynasty of Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier and his son Jean-Claude, or “Baby Doc,” which ended in 1986. Haiti’s professionals fled into exile to escape political repression, spawning a major brain drain the country has never bounced back from....

  • Originally published 02/07/2013

    Smithsonian museums host series of programs to mark Black History Month

    WASHINGTON — The Smithsonian is celebrating Black History Month with a series of programs in February.Throughout the month, the National Museum of American History will present performances by historical characters in “Join the Student Sit-Ins.” Visitors will meet a civil rights activist from 1960 and take part in a training session based on an actual civil rights manual to prepare for a sit-in. The performance is presented Tuesdays through Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.On Monday, the National Museum of American History will mark the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation by hosting a webcast for high school students. Scholars will reflect on the abolition movement of the 19th century....

  • Originally published 02/07/2013

    In Memphis, discord over renaming parks and dropping their associations to past Confederacy

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The legacy of onetime Confederate fighter and slave trader Nathan Bedford Forrest has sparked new discord in Memphis amid moves to rename parks whose very names recall the Old South.Fresh division arose before the Memphis City Council voted recently to rename Nathan Bedford Forrest Park in Memphis, where a statue of Forrest stands and the general is buried. The council also voted to rename two other parks whose names evoke the Confederate Civil War heritage.The fight over Forrest highlights a broader debate over what Confederate figures should represent in the 21st century. Other U.S. cities also have wrestled with the issue of naming parks and buildings after Confederate figures....

  • Originally published 02/06/2013

    Montana lawmakers reject Winchester as state rifle

    Montana lawmakers have rejected a proposal to name the Winchester Model 1873 the state rifle after Native American legislators said they couldn't honor a weapon that "devastated" their ancestors...

  • Originally published 02/06/2013

    Conn. congressman sees factual flaw in 'Lincoln'

    As Rep. Joe Courtney watched the Oscar-nominated "Lincoln" over the weekend, something didn't seem right to him.He said Tuesday he was shocked that the Oscar-nominated film, about President Abraham Lincoln's political struggle to abolish slavery, includes a scene in which two Connecticut congressmen vote against the 13th amendment to the Constitution, outlawing slavery...Courtney, who majored in history at Tufts University, asked that the movie, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln, be corrected before its release on DVD...

  • Originally published 02/05/2013

    New Notre Dame bells make harmonious history in Paris’ storied Cathedral

    PARIS — The cathedral of Notre Dame — French for “our lady” — has finally got the prima donna worthy of its name.Weighing in at six and a half tons or 6,000 kilograms of glistening bronze, this lady is no ordinary person: she’s a bell named Mary.Mary is in fact the largest — and loudest — of nine new, gargantuan Notre Dame bells being blessed Saturday in the cathedral’s nave by Archbishop Andre Armand Vingt-Trois....

  • Originally published 02/05/2013

    Relocation of Frederick Douglass statue to Capitol

    WASHINGTON — A statue of Frederick Douglass will soon be moved to the United States Capitol alongside statues of luminaries from the 50 states, and District of Columbia leaders are planning to celebrate the move.Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents the district in Congress, will host an event Monday evening to call attention to the statue’s upcoming relocation....

  • Originally published 02/05/2013

    New Dutch queen daughter of junta minister

    BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Prince Willem-Alexander’s ascension to the Dutch throne in April promises to be a shining moment on the world stage for his wife, Maxima, and her home country of Argentina. But there will be a glaring absence at the ceremony.Queen Beatrix’s announcement this week that she’ll step aside and let her son become king raised new questions about the future queen’s father, Jorge Zorreguieta, one of the longest-serving civilian ministers in Argentina’s 1976-1983 military dictatorship.Maxima’s parents already missed out on their daughter’s 2002 wedding to avoid offending Dutch sensibilities about human rights violations by the South American junta. Anticipating more unpleasant questions, Maxima told the prime minister that her parents won’t attend her swearing-in as queen, either....

  • Originally published 02/05/2013

    Bill to clear Scottsboro Boys in Ala.

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. — In 1931, Alabama wanted to execute the black Scottsboro Boys because two white women claimed they were gang-raped. Now, state officials are trying to exonerate them in a famous case from the segregated South that some consider the beginning of the modern civil rights movement.Two Democratic and two Republican legislators unveiled proposals Monday for the legislative session starting Tuesday. A resolution labels the Scottsboro Boys as “victims of a series of gross injustice” and declares them exonerated. A companion bill gives the state parole board the power to issue posthumous pardons....

  • Originally published 02/05/2013

    Accused of violating 1985 court settlement, NYPD defends surveillance of Muslim communities

    NEW YORK — Civil rights lawyers urged a judge Monday to stop the New York Police Department from routinely observing Muslims in restaurants, bookstores and mosques, saying the practice violates a landmark 1985 court settlement that restricted the kind of surveillance used against war protesters in the 1960s and ‘70s.The city responded by saying it follows the law, but some legal experts say it might be time to look more closely at police practices as the Sept. 11 attacks fade into history....

  • Originally published 02/05/2013

    Knights of Malta marks 900 years

    ROME — Matthew Festing — aka His Most Eminent Highness The Prince and Grand Master of the Knights of Malta — bounds into the sitting room of his magnificent Renaissance palazzo sweaty and somewhat disheveled, and asks an aide if he should take off his sweater to be photographed.Garrulous and self-effacing, Festing embodies some of the paradoxes of a fabled Catholic religious order that dates from the medieval Crusades: Steeped in European nobility and mystique, the order’s mission is humility and charity — running hospitals, ambulance services and old folks’ homes around the globe. It has many trappings of a country, printing its own stamps, coins, license plates and passports, and yet — a stateless state — it rules over no territory....

  • Originally published 02/04/2013

    Richard III's body found

    LEICESTER, England (AP) — He wore the English crown, but he ended up defeated, humiliated and reviled.Now things are looking up for King Richard III. Scientists announced Monday that they had found the monarch's 500-year-old remains under a parking lot in the city of Leicester — a discovery Richard's fans say will inspire new research into his maligned history.University of Leicester researchers say tests on a battle-scarred skeleton unearthed last year prove "beyond reasonable doubt" that it is the king, who died at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, and whose remains have been missing for centuries....

  • Originally published 02/04/2013

    Most popular page visited after arriving at War of 1812 website? The exit

    OTTAWA - The splashy home pages for the Harper government's elaborate War of 1812 website were by far the most popular feature for visitors who crowded into the online museum last year, thanks to an ad blitz during the Olympics.The next most popular page? The exit.The government spent upwards of $28 million to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, billing it as an under-appreciated piece of Canadian history.Indeed, polls conducted in the years prior to the anniversary suggested most Canadians had little knowledge or interest in the conflict that some argue lay the groundwork for Confederation....

  • Originally published 01/31/2013

    Plans to destroy prewar building in former Warsaw ghetto set off struggle to save it

    WARSAW, Poland — It was the place where Jewish women did their ritual bathing. It was a tuberculosis clinic. It survived the German onslaught and became a gathering point for Holocaust survivors.Now “the white building,” the headquarters of the Jewish community and one of the few surviving remnants of the infamous Warsaw Ghetto, could be torn down to make way for a multistory tower that would fit seamlessly into a modern city skyline.The building’s fate will soon be determined by the Culture Ministry, which has been asked by advocates of historic preservation to declare it a historical monument, a classification that would ban its destruction. It’s not yet clear how officials will decide, though previous rulings by other state offices had declared the building not worth saving. Now those for and against destroying the old building are anxiously awaiting a verdict....

  • Originally published 01/31/2013

    Tensions linger in U.S. over ‘comfort women’ memorials

    HACKENSACK, N.J. — Four years ago, noticing plaques at the county courthouse commemorating slavery, the Holocaust and other atrocities, Korean-American community leader Chejin Park struck upon the idea of adding a tribute to the “comfort women” of World War II.To his surprise, the seemingly small, local gesture — to honor the more than 200,000 mostly Korean and Chinese women forced to provide sex for Japanese soldiers — would make a tiny northern New Jersey town a flashpoint in an international controversy.Local officials would rebuff a request by Japanese officials to take down the first plaque put up just over two years ago in the town of Palisades Park, a square-mile borough outside New York where a majority of residents are of Korean descent....

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    New British citizenship test puts emphasis on history, culture and even humor

    LONDON — What does it mean to be British? Monarchs, Margaret Thatcher and Monty Python are all important parts of the nation’s heritage, according to a new guide for immigrants introduced Monday.The government is revising the “Life in the U.K.” handbook and test taken by those seeking to become British citizens or settle here permanently.While the previous version — created under the former Labour government — included some practical questions about daily life, the emphasis is now firmly on British history and culture. There are questions on sports, music and historical figures from William Shakespeare to Winston Churchill....

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    Rare 1913 Liberty Head nickel to fetch millions at auction

    RICHMOND, Va. — A humble 5-cent coin with a storied past is headed to auction and bidding expected to top $2 million a century after it was mysteriously minted.The 1913 Liberty Head nickel is one of only five known to exist, but it’s the coin’s back story that adds to its cachet: It was surreptitiously and illegally cast, discovered in a car wreck that killed its owner, declared a fake, forgotten in a closet for decades and then found to be the real deal.It all adds up to an expected sale of $2.5 million or more when it goes on the auction block April 25 in suburban Chicago....

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    Timbuktu: ancient seat of Islamic learning

    SEVARE, Mali — Timbuktu, the fabled desert city where retreating Muslim extremists destroyed ancient manuscripts, was a center of Islamic learning hundreds of years before Columbus landed in the Americas.It is not known how many of the priceless documents were destroyed by al Qaida-linked fighters who set ablaze a state-of-the-art library built with South African funding to conserve the brittle, camel-hide bound manuscripts from the harshness of the Sahara Desert climate and preserve them so researchers can study them.News of the destruction came Monday from the mayor of Timbuktu. With its Islamic treasures and centuries-old mud-walled buildings including an iconic mosque, Timbuktu is a U.N.-designated World Heritage Site....

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    Queen Elizabeth II not expected to follow Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands into retirement

    LONDON — One European queen has announced her retirement. Any chance Europe’s most famous queen — Elizabeth II of Britain — might join her?Not likely, experts say....Author Robert Lacey, who has written several books about the British monarchy, said Beatrix’s decision would likely firm up Elizabeth’s resolve.“It would reinforce her feeling that the Dutch don’t know what monarchy is about, and that she should go on forever,” he said. “The crown is a job for life in the British system.”...

  • Originally published 01/28/2013

    Berlusconi’s praise of Mussolini leads to calls for prosecution

    ROME (AP) — Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy praised the Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini for having been a good leader in many respects, despite his responsibility for anti-Jewish laws, immediately prompting expressions of outrage on Sunday as Europeans held Holocaust remembrances.Mr. Berlusconi also defended the dictator for allying himself with Hitler, saying that Mussolini probably reasoned that it would be better to be on what he thought would be the winning side.

  • Originally published 01/24/2013

    Family, friends honor Nigerians who fought in Burma during WWII

    LAGOS, Nigeria — At 16, Isaac Fadoyebo ran away from his home in southwest Nigeria and signed up to fight for Britain in World War II, a decision made from youthful exuberance that saw him sent to Burma to fight and nearly die.Courage and luck kept him alive behind enemy lines as local farmers protected him for months until the British broke through and found him. When he returned home to Nigeria, his story and those of his fellow veterans largely fell away from the public’s mind as independence swept through the country and a devastating civil war and political unrest later followed.Fadoyebo, who died in November at the age of 86, represents one of the last so-called “Burma Boys” in West and East Africa. On Thursday, his family and friends gathered for a final worship service and celebration of his life, as new attention has been paid to his sacrifices and those of other Africans drawn into the fighting....

  • Originally published 01/24/2013

    Cardinal Jozef Glemp, longtime leader of Poland’s Roman Catholic church, dies at 83

    WARSAW, Poland — Cardinal Jozef Glemp, the longtime head of Poland’s influential Roman Catholic church at a time when it played a key role in the fight against communism, has died. He was 83.Jozef Kloch, a church spokesman, said in a statement that Glemp died Wednesday evening in Warsaw. Glemp had been ill for many years, and the Polish news agency PAP said he had lung cancer. Earlier in the day Warsaw Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz had asked the faithful to pray for Glemp, noting that his condition was deteriorating.Glemp oversaw the church at a critical time in its history and in that of Poland, a largely Catholic nation....

  • Originally published 01/24/2013

    Far more filibusters in recent years

    WASHINGTON — From Jimmy Stewart’s fictional all-night talkathon to real-life dramas over World War I and civil rights, the Senate’s filibuster has played a notable — sometimes reviled — role in the nation’s history. Now the slow-moving, famously deliberative chamber is on the verge of dialing it back — modestly.Filibusters are procedural delays that outnumbered lawmakers use to try killing bills and nominations. But they seldom look like the speech delivered by the exhausted, devoted senator portrayed by Stewart in the film, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”In fact, the Senate has more filibusters than ever these days. But you’d hardly know it by watching the chamber on C-SPAN television....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Shifting sands yield mystery shipwreck in GA that dates to 1800s

    SAVANNAH, Ga. — The odd skeleton of wooden beams barely poked above the sands, exposed just enough by wind and tides for a beachcomber to report the curious find.Fred Boyles, National Park Service superintendent on Georgia’s Cumberland Island, says the buried beams could have easily been overlooked as ordinary flotsam washed ashore on the beach. But archaeologists called to the remote Atlantic coastal island spent days last week unearthing an astonishing find: an old wooden shipwreck held together with wooden pegs, its backstory lost in time.“Someone had the foresight to say that doesn’t just look like normal wood, and thank goodness they called us,” Boyles said of the island resident, who stumbled on the wreck around Christmas. “Frankly, had I been driving on the beach, I would’ve ridden right by.”This 80-foot-long fragment of history, with some of its wooden siding still intact, is believed to date to the mid-1800s based on its construction, said Michael Steiber, a National Park Service archaeologist trying to crack the mystery of the ship’s origin....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Debate swirls over Martin Luther King’s monumental ‘content of their character’ quote

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”This sentence spoken by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has been quoted countless times as expressing one of America’s bedrock values, its language almost sounding like a constitutional amendment on equality.Yet today, 50 years after King shared this vision during his most famous speech, there is considerable disagreement over what it means.The quote is used to support opposing views on politics, affirmative action and programs intended to help the disadvantaged. Just as the words of the nation’s founders are parsed for modern meanings on guns and abortion, so are King’s words used in debates over the proper place of race in America....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    African-American baby doll tradition is undergoing a revival in New Orleans for Mardi Gras

    NEW ORLEANS — The “baby dolls,” an on-again, off-again Mardi Gras tradition of New Orleans’ African-American community, are on again.The troupes of women strutting and prancing in bonnets, garters, and skimpy or short, ruffled dresses on Fat Tuesday also are being spotlighted in a new book and museum exhibit that trace their history and modern rebirth.When the predominantly African-American Zulu krewe hits the streets on Fat Tuesday — Feb. 12 — its marchers will include the Baby Doll Ladies, a troupe formed after Hurricane Katrina. They play tambourines and cowbells to accompany their dance, a hip-hop style called bounce.Though Mardi Gras celebrations date from the city’s French founding in 1718, historians say the baby doll tradition started in 1912 when black prostitutes who worked just outside the legal red-light district called Storyville dressed up on Mardi Gras to outdo their legal rivals....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    At memorial, former players urge Marvin Miller be put in baseball Hall of Fame

    NEW YORK — Baseball players urged that Marvin Miller be put in the Hall of Fame as they spoke Monday night during a memorial for the union leader.In an auditorium filled with Hall of Famers, dozens of retired and current players, baseball officials, agents and labor lawyers, 13 speakers praised the former baseball union head, who helped players gain free agency in the 1970s and created the path to multimillion-dollar salaries. Miller died in November at 95.“It is a travesty he is not in the Hall of Fame,” former major league player and manager Buck Martinez said during the two-hour program....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Martin Luther King Jr. honored as Obama, nation’s first black president, sworn in to new term

    ATLANTA — The youngest daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. hailed the inauguration of the nation’s first black president to a new term as one of the achievements made possible by the civil rights struggle her father helped lead decades ago.Bernice King spoke at an Atlanta service Monday on the federal King holiday, urging Americans to draw inspiration from her slain father’s nonviolent campaign after a difficult year of military conflicts abroad and natural disasters at home.“We pray that this day will be the beginning of a new day in America,” she said. “It will be a day when people draw inspiration from the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. It will be a day when people realize and recognize that if it were not for Dr. King and those who fought the fight fought in that movement, we would not be celebrating this presidency.”...

  • Originally published 01/18/2013

    Detective says Robert Wagner not interviewed in new Natalie Wood investigation

    LOS ANGELES — Robert Wagner has declined to be interviewed by detectives in a renewed inquiry into the drowning death of his wife Natalie Wood three decades ago, an investigator said Thursday.Wagner was interviewed by authorities soon after Wood’s drowning in 1981, but the actor is the only person who was on the yacht the night Wood died who has not spoken to detectives as part of the latest inquiry, despite repeated requests and attempts, sheriff’s Lt. John Corina said.Blair Berk, an attorney for Wagner and his family, said the actor had cooperated with authorities since his wife died....

History News Network