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This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used.
This page features brief excerpts of news stories published by the mainstream media and, less frequently, blogs, alternative media, and even obviously biased sources. The excerpts are taken directly from the websites cited in each source note. Quotation marks are not used. Because most of our readers read the NYT we usually do not include the paper's stories in HIGHLIGHTS.
Name of source: Courthouse News Service
SOURCE: Courthouse News Service (5-4-10)
Jeanne Marchig claims she told Christie's that her late husband, Giannino, "a well-known art restorer with considerable expertise in Renaissance art," suspected the pen-and-ink portrait was drawn by Domenico Ghirlandaio, a teacher of Michelangelo. Ghirlandaio was apprenticed under the same master at the same time as Leonardo da Vinci, according to the complaint.
Francois Borne, Christie's resident expert for Old Master drawings, examined the piece for 15 minutes and "summarily rejected" the Renaissance provenance, according to the complaint.
Marchig's attorney, Richard Altman, translated the letter in French that Borne wrote to Marchig, in which he claims the drawing was done in the 19th century by an anonymous German artist....
Name of source: Guardian (UK)
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (5-6-10)
Andy Powell hopes to find funds for DNA tests that might help demonstrate Bideford's "pivotal" role in the history of modern America. If he can find the proof, the town might find itself at the centre of a tourism boom.
At the centre of the saga is the story of the "lost colony", a tale better known in the US than in Britain. In 1587 Sir Walter Raleigh organised a colonial expedition of settlers including a governor, John White. Powell said it was thought that the fleet set sail from Bideford on 8 May and reached Roanoke Island, just off the coast of what is now North Carolina, in July.
Friendly relations were established with the Croatoan Native Americans, and the fleet sailed back to England. The following year a new fleet was preparing to return to Roanoke when it was diverted to fight the Spanish armada. When White finally returned in 1590 the settlement was deserted, with no sign of a struggle or battle....
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (5-7-10)
Doubt over the last few results, which are still trickling in, means it remains to be seen what sort of hung parliament we will get. The difference between the Conservatives having 314 and 306 seats is a crucial one: if their numbers manage to tick up to 314, there is really no prospect of forming a non-Conservative government. The combined forces of Labour and Liberal Democrats would still be outnumbered by the Tories, and the prospect of a deal spanning Labour, Lib Dem, SNP, Plaid Cymru and one or more flavours of Northern Ireland MP lacks credibility. The only option would be for Gordon Brown to resign and David Cameron to form a minority government before parliament meets.
However, if the Conservatives fall short in the remaining marginal seats being counted and end up at around 306, then the combined Labour and Lib Dem benches would outnumber them. Though Labour and the Lib Dems would still be short of an outright majority, they could probably govern if the political will were there. The constitutional position is clear: Gordon Brown is entitled to stay in Downing Street and explore his options, even if the situation appears unpromising and the rightwing press is keen to push him out.
Name of source: Daily Press
SOURCE: Daily Press (5-6-10)
A judge ruled last week that a preservation group and residents who live near the Wilderness Battlefield in northern Virginia can challenge Orange County's approval of the store last August.
While Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was not a party to that legal challenge, an attorney representing the plaintiffs wants to add the retailer as a defendant in the trial. Robert Rosenbaum filed a motion with Orange County Circuit Court on Thursday. He also wants to add the developer and property owner as defendants.
"Wal-Mart and these other parties are an important part of the dispute to be litigated so they should not be permitted to remain on the sidelines," Rosenbaum said....
SOURCE: Daily Press (5-7-10)
The estimate is the most concrete figure revealed since the Department of Defense announced in 2005 that it would shutter the historic post. Previous estimates had the cost as high as $700 million.
Those figures were "widely outrageous," said Robert Reali, who, as the environmental coordinator with Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, leads the cleanup effort.
Reali, who addressed the base's Restoration Advisory Board on Thursday, said the cleanup is two-thirds complete. Crews spent the past year scouring the base finding everything from a Civil War-era cannon to a potato masher.
About half the cleanup cost will come from scrubbing weapon ranges that extended off the post into the Chesapeake Bay, Reali said. The area, which has been widely used by the Army and Navy, contains artillery that dates to the 19th century....
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (5-7-10)
The literary classic, which features characters such as Sinbad the Sailor, Aladdin and Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, was described by the group as a call to "vice and sin".
Known in the original Arabic as One Thousand And One Nights, the collection of folk tales and short stories was first published in medieval times.
But a recent republication triggered controversy and calls to ban the new version on the basis of depiction of sexuality and use of offensive language, according to Al Arabiya....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (4-29-10)
During the war, Ida Grinspan, now 79, was deported to the Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland in 1944 but was one of the few survivors to make it back to France.
She wrote a letter about her wartime experiences to children at a school in Parthenay, western France.
But when the town's deputy mayor, Michel Birault, a former policeman, found out she was to tell the children it was "gendarmes" who arrested her aged 14, it was censored.
Mayor Xavier Argenton then said she could only speak to the teenagers if she referred to the police simply as 'men'....
Without backing up the claim, the Iranian leader said he had "heard" that bin Laden was in the US capital.
He added that, at any rate, US officials ought to know the extremist Islamic leaders whereabouts
Dorota Rabczewska, famed for an unabashed attitude when it comes to flaunting her flesh, and a string of hits, has been charged by Warsaw prosecutors with insulting religious feeling for comments she made in a television interview a year ago.
Instead canvas plimsolls will replace uncomfortable and "environmentally hazardous" leather shoes.
The move by the country's school boards follows a campaign by Maneka Gandhi, Indira Gandhi's widowed daughter-in-law, who is now an member of parliament for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. She is one of India's leading animal rights campaigners and a fierce opponent of slaughtering cows, which are revered among Hindus....
Black leather shoes were introduced as mandatory items in Indian school uniforms during British colonial rule and have continued unchallenged ever since. Their widespread use has made schoolchildren the country's largest consumers of leather products, according to the People for Animals (PFA) campaign.
Sixteen schools in Madras have already banned leather footwear in response to their campaign and protesters have since been lobbying schools in Chandigarh, Punjab....
The Soviet Union nearly lost the war in 1941 and suffered from poor planning, according to Marshal Georgy Zhukov in the frank television interview that has been banned since it was recorded in 1966.
Zhukov, the most decorated general in the history of both Russia and the Soviet Union, admitted that Soviet generals were not confident that they could hold the German forces at the Mozhaisk defence line outside Moscow.
"Did the commanders have confidence we would hold that line of defence and be able to halt the enemy? I have to say frankly that we did not have complete certainty.
"It would have been possible to contain the initial units of the opponent but if he quickly sent in his main group, he would have been difficult to stop," he told the interviewer, the Soviet writer Konstantin Simonov.
Zhukov also revealed details of his exchanges with Joseph Stalin, the wartime leader, in the interview broadcast on state-run Channel One.
He recalled that a flu-struck Stalin summoned him to Moscow in October 1941 to salvage what until then had been a stuttering defence on the Western front outside Moscow.
After arriving at the front, Zhukov found that the defences in place were "absolutely insufficient".
"It was an extremely dangerous situation. In essence, all the approaches to Moscow were open," he said. "Our troops on the Mozhaisk defence line could not have stopped the enemy if he moved on Moscow."
"I telephoned Stalin. I said the most urgent thing is to occupy the Mozhaisk defence line as in parts of the Western front in essence there are no (Soviet) troops.
Shortly afterwards, Stalin phoned Zhukov back to inform him he had been made commander of the Western Front.
The relationship between the two men would end in acrimony when Stalin became suspicious of Zhukov's popularity after the war, giving him obscure posts in Odessa and the Urals.
Zhukov had been given the honour of leading the Red Army victory parade in 1945, riding into Red Square on a white stallion, and some historians believe Stalin feared he was being upstaged by the charismatic general.
After Stalin's death, Zhukov served as defence minister but remained a controversial figure and the Soviet authorities ordered the tape of his interview with Simonov to be destroyed. However one archive copy survived.
Ultimately, Russia's notorious weather played a major part in the defeat of Nazi Germany, but the Wehrmacht "overestimated themselves and underestimated Soviet troops," said Zhukov.
In giving the reasons for the Soviet victory, Zhukov made no mention of Stalin, who was taken unawares by the Nazi invasion of Russia.
The broadcast of the banned interview came ahead of a huge parade on May 9 to mark the 65th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany and as Russia appears to be cautiously eroding several taboos surrounding its war victory.
Notably, Russia recently posted online documents about the Katyn massacre of Polish officers by Soviet forces in 1940.
Dozens of museums worldwide, though not all, have agreed to return them. Maori, the island nation's indigenous people, believe their ancestors' remains should be respected in their home area without being disturbed.
France's National Assembly voted 437-8 on Tuesday to give back the 16 heads counted in France, including seven kept in storage at Paris' Quai Branly museum for the primitive arts. The Senate has already OKed the move.
It was unclear when the heads might be sent home, but authorities can now begin negotiating the move.
The heads' repatriation is a "matter of great significance for Maori," New Zealand's culture and Maori affairs minister Pita Sharples said.
"Maori believe that, through their ancestors' return to their original homeland, their dignity is restored, and they can be put to rest in peace among their families."...
Name of source: Irish Central
SOURCE: Irish Central (5-4-10)
John Doyle, from The Globe and Mail, believes O'Brien is running down the Irish by blaming all his problems on his Gaelic heritage.
Doyle was enraged when he watched Conan O’Brien’s whiney interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”
“On behalf of the people of Ireland, the Irish-born everywhere and descendants of Irish emigrants around the world, I hereby issue a plea: Conan O’Brien, shut up,” said Doyle....
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (5-3-10)
Larry Wiese, executive director of Kappa Alpha, said such a display at the fraternity house would violate the fraternity's bylaws....
SOURCE: AP (5-4-10)
A cemetery visitor on Monday reported that a grave appeared to have been unearthed, police Sgt. John Thomas said. The corpse of "Baby John" has not been recovered, he said.
The mummified body had been kept for years by Charles Peavey. He had said the family had the mummy, possibly the stillborn son of a great-great-uncle, for 80 to 90 years and considered it a family heirloom.
SOURCE: AP (5-2-10)
During a visit to the Shroud in the northern Italian city of Turin, Benedict didn't raise the scientific questions that surround the linen and whether it might be a medieval forgery. Instead, he delivered a powerful meditation on the faith that holds that the Shroud is indeed Christ's burial cloth.
"This is a burial cloth that wrapped the remains of a crucified man in full correspondence with what the Gospels tell us of Jesus," Benedict said. He said the relic — one of the most important in Christianity — should be seen as a photographic document of the "darkest mystery of faith" — that of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.
The 14-foot-long, 3.5-foot-wide (4.3-meter-long, 1 meter-wide) cloth has gone on public display for the first time since the 2000 Millennium celebrations and a subsequent 2002 restoration. Kept in a bulletproof, climate-controlled case in Turin's cathedral, it has drawn nearly 2 million reservations from pilgrims and tourists eager to spend three to five minutes viewing it....
SOURCE: AP (5-4-10)
Tuesday's statement by the Supreme Council of Antiquities says an Egyptian-Dominican team made the discovery at the temple of Taposiris Magna, west of the coastal city of Alexandria.
Archaeology chief Zahi Hawass says the well-preserved statue may be among the most beautiful carvings in the ancient Egyptian style. He says the statue could belong to King Ptolemy IV.
Name of source: UPI.com
SOURCE: UPI.com (5-7-10)
Almost one-third support a ban on public displays of Confederate symbols, while 43 percent oppose a ban, Angus Reid Public Opinion said Tuesday.
Governors in several Southern states issue proclamations of Confederate History Month. This year, Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell's proclamation became controversial because the original document omitted any mention of slavery and because the Republican revived the celebration after two Democratic governors did not recognize it....
Name of source: Gulf Times (Qatar)
SOURCE: Gulf Times (Qatar) (5-7-10)
In a moving speech, Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Poland’s current state secretary for international affairs and a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp, called for people “to deal with the past - especially its tragic aspects - responsibly.”
“Indifference to evil is the biggest sin,” he told the audience, including Austrian President Heinz Fischer, Chancellor Werner Faymann and top members of the government. “Twenty-first century man... needs one thing above all else: a clear conscience. And there is no clear conscience without fundamental truth.”
Bartoszewski, 88, a former resistant and foreign minister who was named “Righteous Among the Nations” by Israel for helping rescue Jews from the Warsaw ghetto and is upheld in Poland as a moral authority, put the onus on younger generations to continue remembering Nazi crimes and honour their victims....
Name of source: Ria Novosti
SOURCE: Ria Novosti (5-6-10)
The city council specially introduced the status of honorary citizen shortly before taking the decision....
Name of source: Haaretz.com
SOURCE: Haaretz.com (4-27-10)
This week, six of those former babies are to gather for an emotional reunion at Dachau on the outskirts of Munich.
German television is to air a television documentary which explores the miracle of how these three infant boys and four infant girls slipped through the cracks of the Nazi killing machine.
George, Jossi, Leslie, Marika, Agnes, Judit and Szuzi spent the first months of their lives in Kaufering I, a camp 50 kilometres west of Munich.
Marika Novakova, 65, never understood when she was growing up in the Slovakian small town of Dunajska Streda why her birth certificate said she had been born in Kaufering, a village in Bavaria. It did not make sense, but her mother refused to explain why.
A couple of documentary makers employed by German broadcaster WDR, Eva Gruberova and Martina Gawaz, asked the mother for an interview, but Eva Fleischmanova refused. Finally she re-considered. As the cameras filmed, she unveiled her past....
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (4-30-10)
Vladimir Gumenyuk, a 73 year old retired KGB officer, vowed to take his secret to his grave so that the location in the countryside around Magdeburg would not become the focus of pilgrimages by neo-Nazis.
The veteran is said to be the last man alive from a team of three who were secretly tasked in 1970 by Yuri Andropov - then KGB leader and later head of the Soviet Union - with digging up the bones of Hitler, his mistress Eva Braun along with the remains of Joseph Goebbels and his family.
He told a Russian newspaper that having burned the bones of the Nazi leader and his entourage, he and two colleagues drove the ashes to the top of 'a cliff on a small unnamed stream' before they were released to the wind.
It was a pre-determined location decided by Moscow. 'No-one was there,' he said. 'Twenty seconds - and job was done. It was just the last flight of the Fuhrer.'
Gumenyuk's role was first claimed by Moscow in revelations from the secret services in 2001.
Yesterday he gave a few additional details but said he had turned down large sums from the German media to identify the exact spot he disposed of Hitler.
'I believe that the coverage of this subject is not appropriate,' he said....
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (5-5-10)
Rarely seen photographs, revealing letters, his engagement diary from the Second World War and even an unsmoked cigar all form part of this astonishing private collection of memorabilia.
Amassed over 30 years by American Malcolm S Forbes Jr, grandson of Forbes magazine founder BC Forbes, it is expected to raise well over £1million when sold at auction.
Announcing the sale yesterday auctioneers Christie's described it as 'the most important and comprehensive private collection of letters and books related to Winston Churchill ever assembled.'
The most sought-after lot is his war diary that could fetch up to £120,000.
But many items date from the adventurous days before he became a politician. A letter Churchill wrote gives a dramatic account of taking part in the last ever cavalry charge by the British army at the Battle of Omdurman in the Sudan in 1898.
In the letter written in September 1898, he says that having been faced with an enemy of 'at the very least 40,000 men - five miles long with great humps and squares at intervals,' and having been shot at and returned to rejoin his squadron: 'It was, I suppose, the most dangerous two minutes I should live to see'.
The next year, Churchill was captured during his service in the Boer War and sent to prison in Pretoria. He escaped by vaulting a wall behind the latrines and waiting in an outer garden.
He then left the prison, walked confidently down the road humming a tune and jumped on a moving train.
The auction will offer the telegram sent by the Boer police as they attempted to track him down. It describes him as 'Englishman 25 years old about 5 foot 8 inches tall medium build walks with a slight stoop. Pale features.
Reddish-brown hair almost invisible small moustache. Speaks through his nose and cannot pronounce the letter S.'
The fame Churchill gained from the escape helped him become an MP and the telegram is expected to fetch £6,000 to £8,000. The collection is be sold at three auctions, the first in London on June 2, the second in New York and the third in London next year.
Churchill's engagement diary gives daily details of the Prime Minister's appointments from September 1939 to June 1945.
The diary was kept by his private secretaries and summits with leaders including Roosevelt and Stalin are recorded, as well as his regular Tuesday meeting with the king.
The cards also record leisurely pursuits, including a football match at Wembley in October 1941 and occasional theatre jaunts.
Thomas Venning, director of books and manuscripts at Christie's, London, said: 'Winston Churchill is one of the most famous historical figures of the 20th century and his feats as a politician, and as the wartime prime minister of Great Britain in particular, continue to attract great attention and admiration.
'This outstanding collection presents an exceptional and fascinating insight into his personality, character, sharp wit and his distinctive way with words, with letters, photographs and books spanning his entire life, from his first portrait photo as a baby to correspondence from his last years.'
Further highlights include:
A first edition, presentation copy of Churchill's book Arms And The Covenant, set to fetch £12,000 to £18,000. The book was presented to Guy Burgess, the infamous double agent who worked for MI5 during the war and who was later revealed to have been recruited as a Soviet spy. The book is inscribed: 'To Guy Burgess, from Winston S Churchill, to confirm his admirable sentiments'.
A letter discussing religion written in January 1899 to his cousin, Ivor, later 1st Viscount Wimborne, expected to realise £6,000 to £9,000. Churchill states: 'All religion is a delicious narcotic' and that 'Catholicism - all religion if you like, but particularly Catholicism, is a delicious narcotic. It may soothe the pains and chase our worries, but it checks our growth and saps our strength.'
Name of source: National Security Archive at GWU
SOURCE: National Security Archive at GWU (5-6-10)
The documents, first disclosed in a new book by David E. Hoffman, The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy, are being posted in English translation today by the National Security Archive.
The records, along with other evidence reported in the book, show how the Kremlin rebuffed the protests from the West over the massive germ warfare effort. Even after a top Soviet scientist defected to Britain in 1989 and began to reveal details of the program, the Soviet officials decided to continue the concealment. The Soviet program was a violation of the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, which Moscow had signed....
Name of source: Newsweek
SOURCE: Newsweek (5-4-10)
Unsurprisingly, Russian liberals are not taking Stalin's rehabilitation well. Yan Rachinsky, the chairman of the Memorial human-rights center, suggests that this is an excuse for the Kremlin to legitimize Russia's authoritarian past in order to justify its current government. "The powerful are using the V-day anniversary as a reason to pull Stalin's dusty ghost into the light and pack him up in holiday wrapping," says Rachinsky. "They say he was the one who won that war…[but] close to 12 million people fell victim to Soviet repressions, most of them killed by Stalin's regime. In 1937 and 1938 alone, Stalin ordered the execution of 700,000—half a million of them were draft age."
Even some veterans are not thrilled about this turn of events. Vasily Reshetnikov piloted 307 missions in his Antonov during the war and was later declared a Hero of the Soviet Union. "I remember: Stalin killed most of the Soviet army commandership," he says. "There's only one word for him—despot." Almost 70 years have passed, but Reshetnikov remembers the day in 1937 when a handsome and heroic commander called Yakov Alksnis landed his shining R-5 at Reshetnikov's pilot school to speak to his future airmen. A year later, Alksnis was accused of homosexuality and espionage and shot by NKVD, the KGB's predecessor. That was only the beginning, Reshetnikov says: "Then the director of our school disappeared. And then the commander of our escadrille vanished. The heroic Soviet people won the war despite Stalin destroying more than 80 percent of the army commandership right before the war," Reshetnikov says....
Name of source: Press Release
SOURCE: Press Release (5-6-10)
“History lies at the very core of our publishing program and mission, and we therefore welcome the pre-eminent journal in American history and the innovative Magazine of History with open arms, and with many ideas about how we can work together to increase their already formidable influence,” noted Niko Pfund, VP/Publisher for Academic, Trade, and Journals in the US. “Furthermore, at a time of some instability in publishing, as business models are changing, and predictions of another wave of publisher consolidation fill the air, it is essential that publications as important as these enjoy a stable home at a publisher that shares its vision and values.”
David A. Hollinger, OAH President, stated that “The Organization of American Historians is pleased to be partnering with Oxford University Press and is confident that this alliance will ensure consistent excellence in the production and distribution of the Journal of American History and the Magazine of History.”
The full publishing partnership will begin in 2011, with on-line hosting beginning in July 2010.
OUP continues to strengthen its publishing programme with the addition of the Journal of American History and the Magazine of History to its journal collection. Other acquisitions so far in 2010 include the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s Clinical Infectious Disease and The Journal of Infectious Diseases as well as the Quarterly Journal of Economics and The Review of Economic Studies.
Name of source: PSU
SOURCE: PSU (5-4-10)
The feature, first identified in 1999 during a mapping survey of the area, while similar to the aqueducts that flow beneath the plazas of the city, was also unlike them. In 2006, an archaeologist returned to Palenque with a hydrologist to examine the unusual water feature. The area of Palenque was first occupied about the year 100 but grew to its largest during the Classic Maya period 250 to 600. The city was abandoned around 800.
Underground water features such as aqueducts are not unusual at Palenque. Because the Maya built the city in a constricted area in a break in an escarpment, inhabitants were unable to spread out. To make as much land available for living, the Maya at Palenque routed streams beneath plazas via aqueducts.
Name of source: BBC
The body of Joan Rendell MBE, 89, was found after her bungalow at Yeolmbridge caught fire on Tuesday.
Miss Rendell wrote more than 30 books and was appointed a Cornish bard by Gorseth Kernow, the organisation which promotes the study of Cornish literature, art, music and history.
She was also an avid collector of matchbox covers and had an estimated collection of 300,000.
Staff from the UU's maritime archaeology centre conducted a 10-day training workshop for 15 archaeologists from north and east Africa who wanted an insight into the challenges of working underwater.
During their stay the UU divers were granted a rare opportunity to explore the underwater remains of the famous Pharos lighthouse - one of the wonders of the ancient world.
Work on the great lighthouse began in 290 BC and when it was completed 20 years later, it was the first lighthouse in the world and the tallest building in existence with the exception of the Great Pyramid.
For the last year pupils at five schools have studied the Bronze Age landscape and artefacts of north Wales.
It includes the Golden Cape which was discovered in Mold in 1833.
The resulting short film was shown at the Scala cinema in Prestatyn, helping to explain the life and landscape in north east Wales 4,000 years ago.
The centrepiece of the film is the Golden Cape, which is now housed in the British Museum and the children have used it as a key part of their story.
The ceremonial artefact is thought to date to the early Bronze Age, at around 1950-1550 BC.
Sir Keith commanded RAF squadrons that defended London and the South East from World War II Luftwaffe attacks in 1940.
The 16.4ft (5m) tall glass-fibre sculpture had been on the plinth in central London for the past six months.
A permanent, bronze statue of Sir Keith will now be erected in Waterloo Place on the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain on 15 September 2010.
The wide-brimmed felt hat, with leather headband and buckle, is being auctioned as part of a collection of memorabilia owned by sculptor Bryan Mickleburgh.
Other items in the collection include a white Stetson and gloves which belonged to cowboy actor Roy Rogers.
The sale is being held on Thursday at Wallis and Wallis auctioneers in Lewes.
SOURCE: BBC (5-4-10)
The dig, which took place over a decade in front of Carlisle Castle, has uncovered about 80,000 Roman artefacts.
The evidence provides Carlisle with almost 2,000 years of documented history.
Experts say the city is now ranked as one of the most important settlements in the north of England.
Name of source: Baltimore Examiner
SOURCE: Baltimore Examiner (4-29-10)
The state of Maryland played a significant role in the War of 1812. The battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore inspired Francis Scott Key to write what would become our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Other battles in Maryland lay on the British route from the Chesapeake Bay to Washington, D. C. During the War, the British laid siege to our Capital, even burning the White House before eventually being defeated.
Pension files constitute one of the most genealogically rich record groups. In addition to details concerning military service, often including affidavits from both the applicant and other members of his regiment, many pension files contain personal information about the lives of the these soldiers. For example, when a veteran’s widow applied for a pension, she was required to prove her marriage and one will often find marriage records, copies of family Bible pages, or affidavits from the minister or witnesses to the marriage. A wealth of other information can also be found in these wonderful records....
Name of source: Art Daily
SOURCE: Art Daily (5-5-10)
Created more than 2,300 years ago, these sculptures remind the Olmeca style, which represented deities with jaguar faces, revealing the adoption by Maya of elements from earliest cultures.
Intervention to figureheads made out of stucco, clay and stone is coordinated by Gerardo Calderon and conducted by specialists from the INAH National Coordination of Cultural Heritage Conservation (CNCPC).
“A team of restorers will begin an integral cleaning in May 2010, followed by plastering and reintegration of small missing parts, as well as consolidation”, informed archaeologist Fernando Cortes, in charge of the archaeological zone.
He added that during conservation work, restorers will take samples of the black pigment used to emphasize the face features, to determine its origin and restore it, since sun, rain, wind and time have damaged it.
Cortes mentioned that these figureheads were found 15 years ago beside the staircase of the main temple known as Nohochbalam. “They sizes vary; the smallest is 2 meters high and 3 wide, while the biggest is 3 meters high and 10 wide.
“We calculate these sculptures were made near 350 BC, becoming the antecedent of those impressive ones found at Kohunlich and other Maya sites”.
These monuments have great Olmeca influence: “When you look at them they seem Olmeca heads with Maya elements; Maya adopted elements and this allowed them to develop their own iconography”.
Besides the great resemblance to Olmeca heads, the figureheads were decorated on their sides in a Maya style, pointed out Cortes. “If it was not for the ear ornaments, we would think they are Olmeca sculptures”, he commented.
“As other Maya sculptures, the ears are completely decorated with symbols; these have figures related to flaying and serpents”, concluded archaeologist Cortes.
Name of source: Der Spiegel (Germany)
SOURCE: Der Spiegel (Germany) (5-4-10)
It was the first crime William E. Jones had ever committed, which was probably why he could still remember it well so many years later. He and other soldiers in the 4th Infantry Division had captured a small hill. "It was pretty rough," Jones later wrote, describing the bloody battle.
At some point, the GIs lost all self-control. As Jones wrote: "(The Germans) were baffled and they were crazy. There were quite a few of them still in their foxholes. Then I saw quite a few of them shot right in the foxholes. We didn't take prisoners and there was nothing to do but kill them, and we did, and I had never shot one like that. Even our lieutenant did and some of the non coms (non-commissioned officers)."
The dead will most likely never be identified by name, but one thing is clear: The victims of this war crime were German soldiers killed in Normandy in the summer of 1944.
At daybreak on June 6, the Americans, British and their allies launched "Operation Overlord," the biggest amphibious landing of all time. During the operation, Allied and German troops fought each other in one of the fiercest battles of World War II, first on the beaches and then in the countryside of Normandy. When it was over, more than 250,000 soldiers and civilians had been killed or wounded, and Normandy itself was ravaged.
The Only Good German Is a Dead German
There is no shortage of books on the Battle of Normandy, which also goes by the name of D-Day. And the same can be said about films, such as Steven Spielberg's award-winning film "Saving Private Ryan," which was a global success. Indeed, it would almost seem that everything that could be said about the battle has been said.
Still, that didn't deter British historian and best-selling author Antony Beevor from taking another stab at the material. While conducting research for his newest book, "D-Day: The Battle for Normandy," Beevor stumbled upon something that is currently a matter of much debate among experts. If some of these scholars are correct, Allied soldiers committed war crimes in Normandy to a much greater extent than was previously realized.
Beevor extensively quotes reports and memoirs of those who took part in the invasion, many of whom state that American, British and Canadian troops killed German POWs and wounded soldiers. They also reportedly used soldiers belonging to the German Wehrmacht or Waffen SS as human shields and forced them to walk through minefields.
For example, one recounts the tale of a private named Smith, who was fighting with the 79th US Infantry Division. Smith allegedly discovered a room full of wounded Germans in a fortification while he was drunk on Calvados, a local apple brandy. According to the official report: "Declaring to all and sundry that the only good German was a dead one, Smith made good Germans out of several of them before he could be stopped."
In another account, Staff Sergeant Lester Zick reportedly encountered an American soldier on a white horse who was herding 11 prisoners in front of him. He called out to Zick and his men and told them that the prisoners were all Poles, except for two Germans. Then, according to Zick, the soldier took out his pistol "and shot both of them in the back of the head. And we just stood there."
Beevor also quotes John Troy, a soldier with the 8th Infantry Division, who writes of finding the body of an American officer the Germans had tied up and killed because he had been caught carrying a captured German P-38 pistol. Troy describes his reaction in the following way: "When I saw that, I said no souvenirs for me. But, of course, we did it too when we caught (Germans) with American cigarettes on them, or American wristwatches they had on their arms."
Rage and Violence
The issue of war crimes is an incredibly sensitive one. But, in this case, the evidence is overwhelming.
Given the high number of casualties they suffered, Allied paratroopers were particularly determined to exact bloody revenge. Near one village, Audouville-la-Hubert, they massacred 30 captured Wehrmacht soldiers in a single killing spree.
On the beaches, soldiers in an engineering brigade had to protect German prisoners from enraged paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division, who shouted: "Turn those prisoners over to us. Turn them over to us. We know what to do to them."
When the same LSTs (landing ship tanks) were used to evacuate both German POWs and Allied wounded, the wounded attacked the Germans, and it was only through the intervention of a pharmacist's mate that nothing more serious happened.
Part 2: A New Approach to Writing History
Beevor frequently quotes from personal memoirs of Allied soldiers that have been available to historians for years. But could it be that they were ignored by them until now because they didn't support the image of the "greatest generation," the term that Americans have liked to use to describe their victorious soldiers from 1945? It would seem that no shadows were to be cast on the war that gave the Americans, in particular, the moral right to have a say in shaping Europe's postwar future as well as creating the practical conditions for it to do so.
Still, that approach has recently been revised. In his 2007 book "The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1934-1944" Pulitzer Prize-winning author Rick Atkinson described various war crimes committed by the Allies. And now we have the same thing with Normandy.
Beevor primarily attributes the Allied crimes to the epic ferocity of the battles. The Germans themselves called it a "dirty bush war," a reference to the bushes and hedgerows, ranging in height between one and three meters (three and ten feet), used to demarcate the fields in Normandy's bocage landscape.
Indeed, Normandy's terrain is ideally suited for ambushes and booby traps. For example, German units stretched thin steel cables across roads at head level, so that when an American Jeep came roaring down the road, its driver and passengers would be decapitated. They also attached hand grenades to the dog tags of dead GIs, so that anyone who tried to remove the dog tags was blown up. Likewise, it is an established fact that German soldiers, and particularly those in the Waffen SS, shot prisoners.
Allied Behavior Doesn't Forgive Germany 's
The artillery fire from both sides and the Allied bombing attacks transformed Normandy into a moonscape. Beevor writes about soldiers who huddled in the craters screaming and weeping, while others walked around as if in a trance picking flowers in the midst of explosions. Indeed, American physicians reported 30,000 cases of combat neurosis among their troops alone.
In a letter to his family in Minnesota, a US infantryman wrote that he had never hated anything quite as much, adding: "And it's not because of some blustery speech of a brass hat."
But such "blustery speeches" did exist. According to the findings of German historian Peter Lieb, many Canadian and American units were given orders on D-Day to take no prisoners. If true, that might help explain the mystery of how only 66 of the 130 Germans the Americans took prisoner on Omaha Beach made it to collecting points for the captured on the beach.
It is also conspicuous that the Allies rarely captured members of the Waffen SS. Was it because the members of this organization -- with its Totenkopf (death's head) insignia -- had sworn allegiance to Hitler until death and often fought to the last man? Or did the Allied propaganda about the SS have its desired effect on soldiers? "Many of them probably deserved to be shot in any case and know it," a British XXX Corps report bluntly stated.
Of course, for German apologists, this new information shouldn't be something to make them feel better about their own side's behavior. In fact, although the extent of Allied war crimes may have been greater than previously known, it cannot be compared with the scope of German crimes against civilians. For example, shooting innocent hostages was part of the German strategy for fighting the French partisans who struck out after D-Day. Up to 16,000 French citizens -- men, women and children -- fell victim to the terror of the Wehrmacht and the SS.
Name of source: BBC News
SOURCE: BBC News (5-5-10)
Six days earlier, Met police Ch Insp Max Vernon had received a phone call summoning his hostage negotiation skills. Here, he relives the events of 30 years ago:
"I was part of the fraud squad in Holborn at the time the siege started but I had done the negotiation course and so it happened that I was pulled in.
"I had no idea what had happened until I got there. The local commander had been using a loud hailer to talk to the gunmen but that was replaced with a military field telephone and we cut off all other telephone lines to stop them communicating with the outside world."
Mr Vernon was one of six negotiators working shifts around-the-clock trying to achieve a peaceful end to the siege.
"Our job was to get the gunmen to walk out without anyone dying or giving into their demands. We had to buy time for both sides. It was rotten. We would be pushed by the gunmen to get them their demands and we were pushed by our bosses to talk them out without giving up anything.
"I only ever talked to one gunman, Salim. He was educated and very polite. He was the only one who spoke English. He demanded a translator and we got one for him but in hindsight it was a real mistake.
"We later found out she was saying things we hadn't said, like they were all going to die. After two days we stopped using her."
The negotiators never asked to speak to any of the hostages but Salim would force them to talk to the police.
"It put pressure on us and created huge tension by putting hostages on our line. It was very unhelpful because we would have to lie to them and if a negotiator is caught lying they lose all credibility. When they were on the line it was our job to get them off as soon as possible."
On Saturday, 5 May, the embassy's press attache, Abbas Lavasani, was executed by the gunmen. It signalled the beginning of the end of the siege.
"Our bosses kept a lot of information away from us because that way nothing could slip out inadvertently. But once the Iranian diplomat was shot we knew it was all over and the SAS were going in. Salim also knew they had crossed the line. He didn't do the shooting which made him even more depressed.
"At that point we started lying our heads off. We told Salim he would get all his demands. The important thing for us was to keep him occupied. At one point he heard a window break and said, 'Something's going on,' but I told him it wasn't and asked who he wanted to drive him away. Then all hell broke loose. We sat back and listened to it all.
"How anybody came out of that place alive I will never know."
The former negotiator, now 74, said the sudden, bloody ending to the siege left him feeling like a tightly-wound elastic band which had suddenly been cut loose.
"At the end I sat down in the corner and cried. I suspect my colleagues were doing the same.
"I felt I had failed. People had died. We were meant to talk them out without any shooting. I was in abject misery but the next day I was back at my desk. I was in a deep depression for months.
"There has been nothing like it before or since. We learned while we were working on it and people are still learning from what we did, right and wrong."
Later a police psychiatrist helped Mr Vernon understand he had not failed and that he should have been warned to expect the inevitable depression that followed the siege.
Mr Vernon went on to run the Met's negotiation course from 1983 to 1986.
SOURCE: BBC News (5-5-10)
The Spanish artist's 1932 picture Nude, Green Leaves and Bust was sold at Christie's auction house in New York.
It had belonged to the late Los Angeles collectors Frances and Sidney Brody since the 1950s.
The winning bid was made by an unnamed telephone bidder. It breaks the record held by Giacometti's Walking Man I, which sold in February for $104.3m.
Another work by Picasso, Garcon a la Pipe, had previously held the record when it sold for $104.1m in 2004.
Nude, Green Leaves and Bust had been expected to sell for $70m-$90m.
The record-breaking sum, which includes Christie's commission, is being taken as a sign that the art market has recovered from the global financial crisis.
"The Brodys bought it in the 50s. It was only exhibited once in 1961," said Conor Jordan, the head of Christie's impressionist department.
"When we got into Brody's house in November it was quite an experience," he was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (5-4-10)
British elections generally produce clear winners in Parliament. But this time, polls suggest that the voting Thursday is unlikely to result in a legislative majority for any of the three main parties — the Conservatives, Labour or the Liberal Democrats.
That would be a ho-hum outcome in many other parliamentary democracies, where the parties would sit down to hash out a governing coalition. But in Britain, where there is limited precedent for so-called hung Parliaments, the prospect has prompted a frenzy of tactical feints and parries this week as the three parties position themselves for the maneuvering that could follow....
Name of source: Reuters
SOURCE: Reuters (5-4-10)
Venezuela's leftist president rejects the traditional account that Bolivar, a brilliant Venezuelan military tactician who liberated much of South America from centuries of Spanish rule, died of tuberculosis in Colombia in 1830.
Now, Paul Auwaerter of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says his death was most likely caused by arsenic -- either from drinking contaminated water or using the naturally occurring poison to try to cure headaches and hemorrhoids....
Name of source: Medieval News
SOURCE: Medieval News (5-3-10)
The Archaeology of the East Kent Access Road project is a survey being done in preparation for a new road being built on the Isle of Thanet on the eastern coast of England. The road runs close to the mouth of the Wantsum Sea Channel, an important route that was a gateway for ancient peoples into Kent used by ships until medieval times.
The finds include twelve Bronze Age ring ditches (the remains of burial mounds) dating back over 3,500 years, Iron Age enclosures and a village which lasted into Roman times at Ebbsfleet.
There are also areas of Roman settlements, their fields and track ways, Roman and Saxon cemeteries, Saxon buildings, and a large Saxon enclosure with huge quantities of shellfish, evidence of the preparation of a feast or processing later provisions.
More recent finds include the remains of trenches excavated to defend Manston airfield during the Second World War.
Kent County Council principal archaeological officer Simon Mason, said, “Thanet was the gateway to England in ancient times and it’s no surprise that this dig has unearthed so many valuable remains. What is impressive is the story it tells us about how people were living here.”
Oxford Wessex Archaeology, a joint venture of Oxford Archaeology and Wessex Archaeology, is carrying out the research, which will be completed in mid-summer.
Local people are being invited to get involved with the big dig. Volunteers can work alongside professional archaeologists during a community excavation from 10 May until 4 June, and school visits are being arranged. Archaeologists are also available to talk to schools, societies and local organisations.
Name of source: WaPo
SOURCE: WaPo (5-4-10)
Then there was news that the state Education Department had ordered school districts to remove from classrooms teachers who speak English with a very heavy accent or whose speech is ungrammatical. Of course nobody would want a teacher to stay in the classroom if students can’t understand them, but determining who that is can be tricky.
The move was apparently aimed at Spanish-speaking teachers who had been hired in the 1990s during the state’s era of bilingual education, which, incidentally, ended in 2000, according to the Wall Street Journal. Curious that it took 10 years for officials to realize that students, apparently, were having trouble with heavily accented teachers.
And there is this: State lawmakers have passed legislation that prohibits any classes that:
* Promote the overthrow of the United States government.
* Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.
* Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
* Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.
Name of source: Lee White at the National Coalition for History
“Discovering the Civil War” will be shown in two parts in Washington, D.C. Part One, “Beginnings,” will run from April 30, 2010, through September 6, 2010, in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery in the National Archives Building. Part Two, “Consequences,” will open in the O’Brien Gallery on November 10, 2010. After the Washington venue closes on April 17, 2011, the two parts of “Discovering the Civil War” will be combined and travel to seven additional venues around the country beginning in June 2011.
Reviews of the exhibit by the Washington Post and New York Times can be seen by clicking on the link to each publication.
The “Preserving the American Historical Record Act (PAHR)” (S. 3227) was recently introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Carl Levin (D-MI). The PAHR legislation would establish a new federal program of formula grants to the states and territories to support archives and the preservation of historical records at the state and local level.
The bill is identical to legislation (H.R. 2256) introduced last year in the House by Representatives Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22) and John McHugh (R-NY-23). Nearly 60 Members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors. Senators Bennett, Gillibrand, Schumer, Kerry and Shaheen were original co-sponsors in the Senate.
The Council of State Archivists and, the Society of American Archivists (SAA), and the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administration have been working for many years seeking the introduction and passage of the PAHR bill. To learn more about the PAHR effort, visit a special section of the SAA website by clicking here.
The National Coalition for History has endorsed the PAHR bill and urges you to contact your Senators and House members to ask that they co-sponsor the bills.
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) would administer the Preserving the American Historical Records program. The legislation authorizes $50 million a year for five years for the initiative to preserve and provide access to historical records by supporting:
- The creation of a wide variety of access tools, including archival finding aids, documentary editions, indexes, and images of key records online;
- Preservation actions to protect historical records from harm, prolong their life, and preserve them for public use, including digitization projects, electronic records initiatives, and disaster preparedness and recovery;
- Initiatives to use historical records in new and creative ways to convey the importance of state, territorial, and community history, including the development of teaching materials for K-12 and college students, active participation in National History Day, and support for life-long learning opportunities; and
- Programs to provide education and training to archivists and others who care for historical records, ensuring that they have the necessary knowledge and skills to fulfill their important responsibilities.
Base funding would be provided to each state or territory, with the remainder of funding distributed using a population/area-based formula. A 50 percent match for any funding awards would be required of state and local partners.
In September 2009, NARA issued a mandatory records management self-assessment to 245 Federal cabinet-level agencies and their components, and independent agencies. The goal of the initial self-assessment was to gather data to determine how effective Federal agencies are in meeting the statutory and regulatory requirements for records management.
Ninety-one percent of agencies responded to the self-assessment; 21 agencies did not. The responses indicate that 21 percent of Federal records management programs are at low risk of improper disposition of records. However, the National Archives found that 79% of agencies are at either a High (36%) or Moderate (43%) risk of improper destruction of records. These findings indicate that Federal agencies are falling short in carrying out their records management responsibilities, particularly regarding the exponential use and growth of electronic records.
A ranking of agencies’ Open Government Plans compiled during an independent audit reveals the strongest and weakest agency plans, with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at the top of the list and the Department of Justice (DOJ) at the bottom. Strikingly, the audit also found that several agencies that are supposed to lead by example on the government openness front failed to do so in their Open Government Plans.
The audit was organized by OpenTheGovernment.org and conducted by volunteers from nonprofit groups, academia, and other organizations that serve the public interest who have experience working with the agencies and evaluating information policies.
The Obama administration’s December 8, 2009, Open Government Directive (OGD) required executive agencies to develop and post Open Government Plans by April 7, 2010. The OGD specified elements related to transparency, participation, and collaboration that must be included in the plans. The audit acknowledges that all the agencies required to produce a plan completed them within the four month deadline. This alone is an important indicator of the administration’s commitment to openness.
The evaluation forms used for the audit rate the extent to which agencies meet the administration’s standards as spelled out in the OGD and provide bonus points for the types of actions that are included in a rigorous set of standards under development by good government groups, which includes measures such as regularly posting inspector general reports and agency visitor logs. In some instances, the results of these evaluations differ significantly from evaluations recently released by the White House. The differences are to be expected given our evaluators’ perspectives as independent non-governmental organizations and our awarding of bonus points.
Including the bonus points, NASA, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency created plans that serve as models for other agencies by going beyond all the OGD requirements.
Many agencies have taken innovative steps in their plans. For example, HHS has made specific commitments for identifying and publishing high value data sets this year. NASA is inviting the public to collaborate in the development of technologies that are core to its mission. And agencies have already begun to implement commitments made in their plans, such as Labor’s Online Enforcement Database on workplace safety, and to improve on work in place, like DOE’s Open Energy Information platform.
The five lowest scores went to the Department of Treasury, Department of Defense, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Department of Energy, and the Department of Justice.
Of particular disappointment to many of the evaluators is the low ranking of plans developed by OMB and DOJ. Given that OMB has responsibility overseeing portions of the OGD, the evaluators expected the agency to seize this opportunity to lead by example. For example, OMB easily could have taken this opportunity to make its new contractor accountability database – the Federal Award Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) – accessible to the public. Similarly, DOJ’s ranking at the bottom of the stack is disappointing given its charge to implement the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), America’s oldest public access law, and Attorney General Eric Holder’s guidance to federal agencies in 2009, which stated his strong support for President Obama’s commitment to open government.
The evaluators view these plans and the audit as the beginning of a process to make government more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. Many of the weakness noted in the plans can, and should, be easily addressed if agencies live up to their commitments to treat these plans as “first drafts” and “living documents.”
Agencies have been asked to revise their plans by the end of May. OpenTheGovernment.org will revisit those plans in early June to see how agencies have responded to this audit. According to Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, “The level of interest from agencies in our feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of their plans is exciting. We look forward to working with agencies not only to strengthen the plans and ensure their full implementation, but also to encourage the agencies to challenge themselves to go beyond the plans to build openness into their processes and practices going forward.” In the final analysis, an open government plan is really only as strong as its execution, and there is much work left to do to make sure agencies live up to their promises.
Evaluators: American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Center for Democracy and Technology, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, OMB Watch, OpenTheGovernment.org, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Project on Government Oversight, Sunlight Foundation, Union of Concerned Scientists, faculty and students at the University of Maryland College of Information Studies, and a volunteer, Ted Smith (Health Central, for identification purposes only).
The SAT program awards competitive, matching grants to federal, state, local, and tribal government entities, and nonprofit organizations for preservation and/or conservation work on nationally significant historic properties and collections. Applications and more information are available on the NPS website.
SAT is administered in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers.
The Obama administration proposed the elimination of the Saving America’s Treasures and Preserve America programs at the NPS in its fiscal year 2011 budget request to Congress.
Name of source: Discovery News
SOURCE: Discovery News (5-3-10)
Nearly everyone thought he was nuts.
Science, however, is now proving Nopsca's theories to be valid.
The latest proof, described in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has to do with the structure of the dinosaur bone fossils found on the Transylvania islands. (Transylvania is an historical region in present-day Romania.) The bones help to shoot down the biggest argument against dwarf dinosaurs, which is that the fossils found for them just belonged to younger dinos.
SOURCE: Discovery News (5-3-10)
More than 98 percent of the river's flow has been diverted by Israel, Syria and Jordan over the years.
Every year, thousands of pilgrims take the plunge in the biblical river despite alarmingly high pollution.
Israeli, Jordanian and Palestinian communities along the lower Jordan river -- about 340,000 people in all -- dump raw sewage into the river.
Name of source: AFP
SOURCE: AFP (5-4-10)
Next week, activists are to send a letter to the leaders of Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain asking them to recognise the trade as an historic injustice a century and a half after it ended.
They have already convinced France to do so.