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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: Discovery News
SOURCE: Discovery News (5-4-11)
What was thought to be a cousin turns out to be parent on the human evolutionary family tree.
The last common ancestor of humans and Neanderthals was a tall, well-traveled species called Heidelberg Man, according to a new PLoS One study.
The determination is based on the remains of a single Heidelberg Man (Homo heidelbergensis) known as "Ceprano," named after the town near Rome, Italy, where his fossil -- a partial cranium -- was found.
Previously, this 400,000-year-old fossil was thought to represent a new species of human, Homo cepranensis. The latest study, however, identifies Ceprano as being an archaic member of Homo heidelbergensis.
The finding may shed light on what the species that gave rise to both Neanderthals and Homo sapiens looked like. .......
Name of source: BBC
SOURCE: BBC (5-6-11)
Bosnia is facing its worst crisis since the war ended in 1995, a leading international think tank has warned.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) said political crises were threatening to tear the state apart.
But it urged the international community not to try to block a forthcoming Bosnian Serb referendum.
The referendum aims to gauge support for the presence of an international high representative, imposed under the Dayton Accords after the war. ...
SOURCE: BBC (5-5-11)
North Korea has handed over the remains of a British pilot who died in the Korean War nearly 60 years ago.
The remains are believed to be those of RAF Flight Lieutenant Desmond Hinton whose plane was shot down.
British ambassador Peter Hughes received the fighter pilot's remains at a ceremony in the demilitarised zone.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office confirmed that the remains had been handed over but was able to add few further details. ...
Following the established protocol for any remains of possible UN servicemen found in Korea, these remains will now be transferred to the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command in the US for analysis....
Two "new" novels by Scots author DE Stevenson are being published nearly 40 years after her death.
The manuscripts were found by one of the writer's granddaughters among family belongings stored in an attic.
One of the stories, The Fair Miss Fortune, was submitted to publishers Hodder and Stoughton in 1938.
It was rejected, apparently because the subject matter - the antics of identical twins - was considered too old fashioned.
The other manuscript is thought to date back to the 1920s. Stevenson's title for it was The Strong Thing but it has been re-named Emily Dennistoun after the main character.
Publisher Shirley Neilson, of Greyladies Books in Edinburgh, snapped up the rights to both novels....
SOURCE: BBC (5-5-11)
An Austrian museum is to sell a prized Egon Schiele painting to cover the $19m (£11.5m) cost of recovering another of the artist's works.
The Leopold Museum says proceeds of the 1914 Houses with Colourful Laundry (Suburb II) will pay the loan it took out to recover Portrait of Wally.
The museum paid the money to a Jewish art dealer's estate as the painting had been stolen from her by the Nazis.
The settlement last year ended a 12-year-long US legal battle.
The museum, in Vienna, has always insisted it acquired the painting in good faith from legitimate postwar owners. ...
The trial of two Rwandan Hutu leaders accused of masterminding atrocities in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has started in Stuttgart in Germany.
Ignace Murwanashyaka, head of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and his deputy Straton Musoni both live there.
They face 26 counts of crimes against humanity and 39 of war crimes.
The trial comes under a new law which allows the prosecution of foreigners for crimes committed outside Germany.
They are accused of ordering militias to commit mass murder and rape between January 2008 and the date of their arrest in Germany in November 2009.
A third suspect, Callixte Mbarushimana, who had been living in France, has been extradited to face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). ...
Osama Bin Laden's body was buried at sea to deny his followers a shrine, it has been widely reported. But why do the graves of leaders matter so much?
For a man who had been the world's most wanted, it was a deeply undistinguished final resting place.
The remains of Osama Bin Laden met an inauspicious fate - his body dropped into the ocean from an American aircraft carrier ..
It's a motive with clear historical antecedents. Victorious regimes, particularly when confronted with ideological movements with charismatic leaders, have often been anxious to deny their defeated enemies a rallying point, a place where sympathisers can gather to venerate their dead.
The partially-cremated corpse of Adolf Hitler was dug up by invading Soviet forces from its initial burial site in Berlin before being moved several times - its ultimate fate being shrouded in mystery, with some accounts claiming his skull and jawbone were taken to Moscow.
The Berghof, the dictator's home in the Bavarian alps, was demolished in the early 1950s by the West German government, who feared it would become a focal point for neo-Nazis. Other Nazi leaders executed at the Nuremberg trials by the Allies were cremated and their ashes were scattered in the Conwentzbach river to frustrate any attempt to by latter-day sympathisers to commemorate them. .....
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (5-6-11)
Spain's government has dropped plans to exhume remains of victims of the Civil War that are buried alongside General Francisco Franco at his mausoleum in the hills near Madrid.
A study of the crypts at the Valley of the Fallen, which contains the remains of more than 30,000 people from both sides of the conflict, has concluded it would be "impossible" to match bones to relatives.
At least eleven families of people who died fighting on the Republican side of the 1936-39 Civil War had requested that the bones of their relatives be returned for burial elsewhere.
But a forensic team sent by Spain socialist government said such a request was "impossible to fulfill"....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (5-5-11)
Before devoting his time to defeating the British in the Revolutionary War and being the first president of the United States, George Washington enjoyed brewing his own beer.
A handwritten recipe for "small beer" created by Washington in 1757, while serving in the Virginia militia, has been published by the New York Public Library.
The recipe, which was found in Washington's "Notebook as a Virginia Colonel", lists the ingredients as bran hops, yeast and molasses – an addition that may explain his infamously rotten teeth.
A 15-gallon batch of Washington's beer is to be made to mark the library's centenary by the Coney Island Brewing Company, under the name "Fortitude's Founding Father Brew". .....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (5-5-11)
France is only belatedly accepting the extent to which Britain masterminded its wartime resistance operations, according to one of Winston Churchill's last remaining French secret agents.
Captain Robert (Bob) Maloubier was an agent of the French section of the Special Operations Executive, or SOE. Churchill's "secret army" was created to "set Europe ablaze" by encouraging and facilitating espionage and sabotage behind enemy lines during the Second World War.
Mr Maloubier, then only 20, took part in a string of daring missions in occupied France as a weapons trainer and demolitions expert, helping blow up a power station, a steel plant, and a submarine tender as well as preparing the ground for D-Day.
He gives his first full-blown account of his wartime operations in "Winston Churchill's Secret Agent", released in France today.
"The French are a bit jingoistic; they think they freed themselves all alone. One always hears about the French resistance," Mr Maloubier, 88, told the Daily Telegraph. "The influence of the SOE, experts who came over to train the French, has had very little coverage in France....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (5-2-11)
“The physics of bouncing something on water is relatively simple,” says Dr Hugh Hunt, breezily. “But actually doing it, at scale, under a plane, building a dam and blowing it up, is much more of an engineering exercise than a science exercise.”
There are few more memorable stories in the history of Britain’s Armed Forces than that of Operation Chastise – better known, of course, as the Dam Busters raid. The bravery of the pilots who flew Lancaster bombers at the great dams of West Germany is the stuff of Second World War legend.
But while the pilots, understandably, have held the public imagination, what is sometimes forgotten is what a huge engineering challenge the raid – employing the famous “Upkeep” bouncing bomb – constituted. Barnes Wallis, the aeronautical engineer behind the idea, spent four years developing the bombs before the attack took place.
Now Dr Hunt, a senior engineering lecturer at the Dynamics and Vibration Research Group (“I specialise in spinning things”) at the University of Cambridge, has taken on that challenge again for television. He wants to give a more scientific account of the raid than the 1955 film The Dam Busters....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (5-3-11)
China is making final preparations to stage a "Red Olympics" to mark the 90th anniversary since the founding of the ruling Communist Party and boost the nation's "revolutionary spirit" at a time or rising social tensions.
Youth teams from all over China will compete in events such as 'Storming the blockhouse', 'rescuing the dying man', and the '40m grenade toss' designed to rekindle the memories of the heroic exploits of their Revolutionary forefathers in bringing the Communists to power in 1949.
The event, which will be staged outside the city of Qingyang in the central North province of Gansu next month, is a symbol of the growing revival of Mao-era nostalgia in China as the government seeks to provide social cohesion to a society riven by wealth inequalities and social pressures.
In 2010 the inaugural Red Games was held outside the city of Linyi in the eastern province of Shandong, with an opening ceremony at which Mao's portly grandson, Mao Xinyu, a major-general in the People's Liberation Army, was guest of honour.
This year, organisers said they expected some 50 teams – up from 38 last year – to attend the event which has been backed by the provincial-level government of Gansu, up from a county-level endorsement last year, in a sign of the event's growing stature....
Name of source: 5-6-11
SOURCE: 5-6-11 (Telegraph (UK))
The leader of Majorca has become the first government official to apologise for the execution of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition – centuries after the events.
Francesc Antich, the regional president of the Balearic Islands, issued an official condemnation of the killings in what was heralded by Jewish groups as the first of its kind in Spain.
At the end of the 15th century King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella set up the Spanish Inquisition to root out remnants of Islam and Judaism after the reconquest of Spain. Over the following two centuries thousands of so-called heretics were burned at the stake.
Following the order to convert or leave the country, the majority of Spain's Jews fled to safer shores while many of those left behind publicly converted to Roman Catholicism yet practised their true faith in secret.
Thirty-four Jews were garroted and their bodies thrown on to bonfires in 1691. Three others, including a rabbi, were burned alive.....
Name of source: BBC News
Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of medieval industry on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds town centre.
The clay ovens and leather tanneries appear to date from the 12th-16th Centuries.
Housing developers called county historians after they found mortar and flint footings for wooden buildings.
Andrew Tester, project officer for Suffolk County Council, said: "We know a lot about the centre of the town, but not about this part."
The precise location of the site is not being publicised to protect the dig.
The Warren Map of 1740 showed the area to be fields - so this is the first evidence of previous development....
The name Elvis was not among the top 1,000 US baby names in 2010, the first year it had not made the list since 1954, the US government said.
Jacob and Isabella topped the list for the second year in a row, the Social Security Administration said.
And Aiden was the only new name among the top 10 for either gender.
Tiana - the name of the main character in the 2009 Disney movie The Princess and the Frog - was one of the biggest gainers, the agency said on Thursday.
Names that were popular in the early to mid-20th Century - Isabella, Ava and Chloe - have made a resurgence in recent years, suggesting mothers are naming babies after their own grandmothers, the Social Security Administration said....
The famed Musee Picasso in the heart of Paris, and home of the personal collection of Pablo Picasso, has closed for a three-year renovation.
And where is all the art? Forget New York or Chicago, some of Picasso's most highly regarded works have gone to the heart of Virginia.
In this First Person account, the director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Alex Nyerges explains how he brought Picasso to Richmond, and why he's giving big city museums a run for their money....
The US assault on Osama Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan has been hailed as a brilliant example of its kind. By taking big risks, special forces operations can achieve goals that few would have believed possible - or they can turn into bloody disasters.
Here are 10 notable examples from the last four decades....
Nasa's Gravity Probe B has produced remarkable new confirmation of some key predictions by Albert Einstein.
The satellite's observations show the massive body of the Earth is very subtly warping space and time, and even pulling them around with it.
Scientists were able to see these effects by studying the behaviour of four perfectly engineered spinning balls carried inside the probe.
The results will be published online in the journal Physical Review Letters.
They are significant because they underline once again the genius of the great German-born scientist, but also because they provide more refined tools to understand the physics that drives the cosmos....
The extinct Australian carnivore known as a thylacine was an ambush predator that could not outrun its prey over long distances, a new analysis shows.
The thylacine has been variously described as a "marsupial wolf" or a "Tasmanian tiger".
This study suggests the latter term might be more appropriate; the animal's hunting strategy was more like that of a big cat than that of a wolf.
Details appear in Biology Letters journal.
Thylacines once roamed mainland Australia, but their numbers declined as humans settled the continent from around 40,000 years ago and as the dingo was introduced around 4,000 years ago.
Eventually, they were confined to the island of Tasmania, which was dingo-free. The species was eventually wiped out during a large-scale eradication effort in the 19th Century and 20th centuries....
A 97-year-old Hungarian accused of massacring civilians in Serbia in 1942 has gone on trial in Hungary.
Sandor Kepiro was listed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center as the world's most wanted Nazi war crimes suspect.
More than 1,200 Jewish, Serb and Roma civilians were murdered over three days by Hungarian forces in a notorious massacre in the city of Novi Sad.
As Mr Kepiro arrived at court he told reporters he was "completely innocent" and called the trial a "circus".
After using a walking stick on his way into the court in Budapest, he took his seat and displayed a printed sheet of paper stating: "Murderers of a 97-year-old man!"
The former police captain is accused of "complicity in war crimes".
Prosecutor Zsolt Falvai detailed the charges. He said Mr Kepiro was directly responsible for the death of 36 Jews and Serbs - including 30 who were put on a lorry on the defendant's orders and taken away and shot....
The world's last known combat veteran of World War I, Claude Choules, has died in Australia aged 110.
Known to his comrades as Chuckles, British-born Mr Choules joined the Royal Navy at 15 and went on to serve on HMS Revenge.
He moved to Australia in the 1920s and served in the military until 1956.
Mr Choules, who had been married to his wife Ethel for 76 years, was reported to have died in his sleep at a nursing home in his adopted city of Perth.
He is survived by three children and 11 grandchildren. His wife died three years ago.
Mr Choules' 84-year-old daughter, Daphne Edinger, told the Associated Press news agency: "We all loved him. It's going to be sad to think of him not being here any longer, but that's the way things go."...
Green, incredibly alcoholic and some say mind-altering - these are the qualities that led to absinthe being banned in France almost 100 years ago. But all that's about to change, after the government voted to allow sales of the drink nicknamed the "green fairy".
"I will not be seen as a drug addict anymore," says Clement Arnoux, an absinthe drinker and enthusiast.
"It changes everything from the point of view of my friends and family," he said.
The green, anise-flavoured spirit is associated with many of the country's most famous and esteemed artists and writers - like Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec and Paul Verlaine - but it was banned in France in 1915 for its alleged harmful effect....
Absinthe's heyday was in the mid-to-late 1800s.
"Absinthe was the queen of the Parisian boulevards," says Marie-Claude Delahaye, director and founder of the Museum of Absinthe in Auvers-sur-Oise.
Artists would hang out in the Parisian cafes to escape the chill of their studios, and a whole social scene developed around the drink, which was nicknamed la fee verte, meaning the green fairy.
Absinthe conveniently filled a gap left by the wine industry, which had been decimated in previous years by the vine disease phylloxera - but it also had its own attractions.
"It was cheap, it was an industrial alcohol, and it was very easy to buy," says Jad Adams, author of Hideous Absinthe: History of the Devil in a Bottle.
"It was the drink of the poor, and if you were a poor artist, like Vincent Van Gogh, you were going to take the cheapest kind of alcohol you could."...
Name of source: Guardian (UK)
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (5-5-11)
Catalogue launched to help historians and families trace art looted during Hitler era.
Despite a reputation for reaching for their revolvers at the merest mention of culture, the Nazis were among the most ruthless, avaricious and methodical art collectors ever to cast a greedy eye and thieving hand over other people's property.
"Use every means of transport to get all works of art out of Florence … [save] works of art from English and Americans," ran one of Heinrich Himmler's orders. "In fine get anything away that you can get hold of. Heil Hitler."
That appetite for the most beautiful and precious works of European art saw thousands of pieces stolen from their owners between 1933 and 1945 and entire collections raided, scattered and lost.
The quest to recover them and, where possible, return them to their rightful places has been under way for almost seven decades.
Now, thanks to a deal between some of the world's leading archives and museums, an online catalogue of documents has been created to help families, historians and researchers track down the missing artworks....
Name of source: Life
SOURCE: Life (5-5-11)
On May 5, 1961, 37-year-old Alan Shepard blasted off from Cape Canaveral on a historic flight that marked the moment the U.S. caught up to Russia in the Space Race. Here, rare and never-seen photographs from LIFE of that amazing era.
President John Kennedy pins NASA's Distinguished Service Medal on Shepard's chest, May 8, 1961. Two weeks later, JFK famously declared: "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth."...
Name of source: 5-5-11
SOURCE: 5-5-11 (BBC)
Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of medieval industry on the outskirts of Bury St Edmunds town centre.
The clay ovens and leather tanneries appear to date from the 12th-16th Centuries.
Housing developers called county historians after they found mortar and flint footings for wooden buildings.
The precise location of the site is not being publicised to protect the dig.
The Warren Map of 1740 showed the area to be fields - so this is the first evidence of previous development.
Alongside the clay ovens, the archaeologists have found a series of sunken barrels. ...
Name of source: AP
SOURCE: AP (5-5-11)
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum is releasing some 56,000 pages of documents from the files of Richard Bissell, a former director of plans for the CIA.
The collection is located in the Eisenhower archives in Abilene.
The documents reveal Bissell's thoughts on covert activities and national defense strategy, his education, his work as an economist with the Marshall Plan, and his years in private industry. ...
SOURCE: AP (5-2-11)
Nutcracker Man didn't eat nuts after all. After a half-century of referring to an ancient pre-human as "Nutcracker Man" because of his large teeth and powerful jaw, scientists now conclude that he actually chewed grasses instead.
The study "reminds us that in paleontology, things are not always as they seem," commented Peter S. Ungar, chairman of anthropology at the University of Arkansas.
The new report, by Thure E. Cerling of the University of Utah and colleagues, is published in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences....
Legal and human rights groups say they fear Cambodia's U.N.- backed genocide tribunal will shut its doors prematurely without prosecuting former second-tier Khmer Rouge officials accused of atrocities.
Lawyers for the regime's aging former foreign minister, meanwhile, pressed Wednesday for his release from prison, saying he should be held under house arrest instead until his trial later this year.
Ieng Sary's lawyers argued that his three years of pretrial imprisonment was illegal. A ruling on the appeal is expected later. ...
John Demjanjuk's attorney argued Wednesday for his client's acquittal on 28,060 counts of accessory to murder, saying he never served as a Nazi guard and was a victim himself of both the Soviet regime and the Germans.
Ulrich Busch said in his second day of closing remarks that Ukrainian-born Demjanjuk had suffered under the Soviet regime of Josef Stalin before he was captured while serving with the Red Army and then imprisoned by the Nazis.
The 91-year-old is accused of agreeing to serve as a death camp guard after he was captured ....
The leader of Apache warrior Geronimo's tribe is asking President Barack Obama for a formal apology for the government's use of the revered figure's moniker as a code name for Osama bin Laden.
Fort Sill Apache Tribal Chairman Jeff Houser sent a letter to the president Tuesday, saying equating the legendary Apache warrior to a "mass murderer and cowardly terrorist" was painful and offensive to all Native Americans.
The letter was posted Wednesday morning on the Oklahoma tribe's website.
Name of source: CNN
SOURCE: CNN (5-5-11)
One of the world's most wanted Nazi war suspects, Sandor Kepiro, 97, went on trial Thursday, in Hungary charged with the murder of 36 Jews and Serbs in Novi Sad, Serbia in 1942.
Kepiro, a former officer in the Hungarian gendarmerie, protested his innocence in the Budapest municipal court saying, "I am not guilty and I have always lived a decent life."
He denied having killed anyone during a raid on Novi Sad, instead claiming to have saved the lives of five people.
And he said he did not know Jews or Serbs were the targets of the raid, saying that as far as he knew it was against anti-Nazi "partisans."
Hungary sided with the Nazis early in World War II and in January 1942, its troops murdered about 3,000 Jews and Serbs in Novi Sad, according to the Holocaust Encyclopedia. Hungary had annexed the territory at the time.
Kepiro said he never participated in or saw any deportation of Jews. ...
Name of source: NYT
SOURCE: NYT (4-17-11)
Once they were the shipshape town houses of the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s senior officers, but now the gray buildings sit like ruins encountered in a jungle, their facades, roofs and interiors overgrown with ivy, weeds, even saplings.
The punched-out windows and doors, rusted railings and vandalized rooms of Admiral’s Row have become a blight in an invigorated pocket of Downtown Brooklyn — the cluster of homes are within walking distance of Borough Hall and the expensive condos and brownstones of Dumbo and Fort Greene. So neighbors and preservationists have tried to stem the neglect of the structures that make up the strip — 10 buildings from the 19th century and a timber shed built before the Civil War, once used for drying hardwood beams for sailing ships with tall masts and perhaps the last structure of its kind in the country.
But Admiral’s Row has been caught in a long-running dispute involving preservationists, the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation and the Army National Guard, which manages the six-acre property for the federal government.
In recent months, preservationists and some advocates in the neighborhood have embraced the Navy Yard corporation’s plan, agreeing to save the shed and just one town house — Quarters B, the oldest, but the one in the best condition — and tear down the remaining buildings. The cleared land would then make way for a supermarket that the 13,000 residents of the three nearby housing projects have long desired, a retail plaza and a new light-industry building....
SOURCE: NYT (5-5-11)
CASTIGLIONE A CASAURIA, Italy — A little more than two years after an earthquake destroyed broad stretches of Italy’s central Abruzzo region, this normally low-buzz community of some 900 souls was a beehive of activity.
Under sunny April skies, residents both wizened and young gathered for the much awaited reopening of the medieval Abbey of San Clemente, a beloved local landmark that was shattered by the April 6, 2009, temblor that killed more than 300 and left tens of thousands homeless.
Many were thrilled that after two years of celebrating Mass in tents, they would return to more decorous surroundings. Other reasons were more personal. “This used to be our favorite place to study,” Domenico Cantamaglia, a 19-year-old in his last year of high school, said of the lawn surrounding the church. “And in summer, it’s one of the freshest places to hang out.”
Vincenza Di Benedetto, a local woman who mused that the formerly brisk pace in wedding ceremonies would soon pick up, said: “Let’s face it, if it weren’t for the abbey, Castiglione would hardly be on the map; it’s the town’s calling card. Couples would come from all over, at least they used to.”...
SOURCE: NYT (5-4-11)
ALASEHIR, TURKEY — Knapsacks shouldered and bibles in hand, a group of Christian pilgrims from Indonesia, China and the United States trooped into the remains of a fourth-century church in ancient Philadelphia last month. Gazing up at the columns that tower over what is today the Turkish market town of Alasehir, the pilgrims listened as their Australian guide read from the Apostle John’s letter to the early Christians of this city, one of the biblical Seven Churches of Revelation.
“It makes you see the Bible in 3-D and color,” the guide, Dan Fennell, said of his tour of historical Christian sites around western Turkey.
Mr. Fennell, who is based in Jakarta, has been leading pilgrimages to Anatolia for close to a decade. But these visits have become richer and more rewarding, he said, because Turkey has been cultivating the historical sites of Christianity.
“In Laodicea, for example, where we are headed next, you can now see things you could not see five years ago,” Mr. Fennell said of the ruins of the seventh city addressed by the Apostle John....
SOURCE: NYT (5-4-11)
Researchers studying the various dialects of Japanese have concluded that all are descended from a founding language taken to the Japanese islands about 2,200 years ago. The finding sheds new light on the origin of the Japanese people, suggesting that their language is descended from that of the rice-growing farmers who arrived in Japan from the Korean Peninsula, and not from the hunter-gatherers who first inhabited the islands some 30,000 years ago.
The result provides support for a wider picture, controversial among linguists, that the distribution of many language families today reflects the spread of agriculture in the distant past when farming populations, carrying their languages with them, grew in numbers and expanded at the expense of hunter-gatherers. Under this theory, the Indo-European family of languages, which includes English, was spread by the first farmers who expanded into Europe from the Middle East some 8,000 years ago, largely replacing the existing population of hunter-gatherers.
SOURCE: NYT (4-29-11)
This land is still your land, pretty much the way it was for most Americans in 1940 when Woody Guthrie immortalized the gamut of the United States, from California to the New York Island and all the redwood forests, diamond deserts, wheat fields and golden valleys in between.
Except for one thing: There’s less of it. Officially, the nation’s land mass has been shrinking almost steadily ever since 1940.
According to the Census Bureau, the land area peaked that year at 3,554,608 square miles. By 1990, it had declined to 3,536,278 square miles. In 2000, a slight increase was recorded of about 1,200 square miles. But since then, the bureau estimates, this land has shrunk by about 5,500 square miles (a larger area than Connecticut and five times the size of Rhode Island), to 3,531,905.
SOURCE: NYT (5-2-11)
As millions of Israelis paused in reflection on Monday at the sound of the siren marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Internet here was buzzing. The first online database of more than half a million pieces of property lost by Holocaust victims, many in Eastern Europe, had just been uploaded as a first step toward restitution.
After years of quiet diplomacy that accomplished little, organizers of the new project, financed by the Israeli government, said the idea was to harness technology in the struggle for restitution and to make as much noise as possible.
“This is an activist approach,” said Bobby Brown, executive director of the Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce, known by its acronym, Project Heart. “We believe there are no secrets anymore about the Holocaust.”
Pointing to the success of public drives in the past, like the campaign for Soviet Jewry and the settlement of claims of Holocaust victims by Swiss banks, Mr. Brown said the issue of property restitution had to be out there on Twitter and Facebook, although negotiations with countries where properties were located “do not have to be made public right away.”
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
SOURCE: Daily Mail (UK) (5-4-11)
The Polish Resistance fighter nervously crawled through the dank underground tunnel in desperate wartime Warsaw. But Jan Karski was not an escaper on his way to freedom. Quite the opposite.
When he emerged into the sunlight of a summer’s day in August 1942, he was inside an unimaginable hell-hole — the walled-up Jewish ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland’s capital.
He had crossed, he would recall with horror, from ‘the world of the living to the world of the dead’.
The patrician young man — a devout Catholic and a high-flying diplomat before the war — had gone there of his own free will. He was smuggled inside to see the Warsaw Ghetto for himself, an eyewitness to the Holocaust long before that epithet was widely used or the full extent of Hitler’s genocidal ambitions grasped.
What he saw that day would make him one of the first outside observers to witness Hitler’s evil plan to exterminate the Jews in action.
His intention was to report his findings to a world that was sceptical of rumours that such a massive atrocity was really happening under its nose....
Name of source: The Root
SOURCE: The Root (5-2-11)
"This is a fiction," Fergus M. Bordewich, renowned historian and author of five nonfiction books, told The Root about the latest rancorous debate about black Confederates that comes as the nation's commemoration of the Civil War's 150th anniversary continues.
"It's a myth," continued Bordewich, author of Washington: The Making of the American Capital and Bound for Canaan: The Underground Railroad and the War for the Soul of America. "It is nonsense. I could be blunter than that, but you get the drift. It's a meaningless term, 'black Confederates.' There is no evidence whatsoever from any responsible source that there was more than the occasional slave who was forced to serve in the war."
Bordewich is not alone in his position. Top-ranking scholars have repeatedly torpedoed the myth, including Bruce Levine, the renowned professor of African-American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Edwin Bearss, historian emeritus at the National Park Service; and Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, editor-in-chief of The Root and chair of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois Institute. Yet it persists.
Gates weighed in on the issue in a quote that appeared in a column by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor and blogger at Atlantic Magazine, several weeks ago. " 'I would worry if anything I wrote lent credence to the notion that tens of thousands of black men served as soldiers in the Confederate Army,' " Gates said of the bloody four-year battle, fought from 1861 to 1865. "No black rebel units ever fought Union forces, although many slaves fought alongside their owners, and thousands more were compelled to labor for the Confederacy, rebuilding rail lines or construction fortifications."...
Name of source: CBS News
SOURCE: CBS News (5-4-11)
Fifty years ago, the Freedom Riders challenged Jim Crow's travel rules, divided buses, separate waiting depots and race-based rest rooms.
It was the spring of 1961, when the first 13 Freedom Riders planned a two week trek from Washington, D.C. They would take two buses through the deep South.
Hank Thomas was just 19 when he boarded the bus. "We had no thought of any kind of violence," he said.
Name of source: 5-4-11
SOURCE: 5-4-11 (BBC)
A university lecturer is calling for the rejection of a plan to build houses next to the site of a Roman settlement in Nottinghamshire.
Caunton Properties Ltd, who were unavailable for comment, want to create 29 homes on Church Street in Southwell.
Dr Will Bowden said the discovery of "rare" archaeological remains dating to the 7th or 8th Century made the site "wholly inappropriate" for development.
Newark and Sherwood District Council will consider the plan after 28 June.
The site is next to a scheduled monument - potentially one of the largest Roman villas in the UK, according to the University of Nottingham lecturer.
An investigation of the area the planning application covers found a Roman wall and archaeological remains. ...
SOURCE: 5-4-11 (Fox News)
This September names will be unveiled at the National September 11th Memorial in New York City. The names of those killed in 1993. The names of those killed at the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania and at the Twin Towers themselves will line the pools that mark the buildings footprints.
It isn’t an uncommon way to memorialize those we lose too soon. The Vietnam Memorial and The National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington DC as well as the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial in Colorado all list the names of those who have sacrificed their lives for us.
The memorial received over 1200 adjacency requests and Daniels says they were able to grant them all.
Within the panels names are grouped with the companies where they worked. The passengers on flights are together. And the first responders are also listed by their agency and unit. ........
SOURCE: 5-4-11 (CNN)
Last June an American construction worker was picked up in Pakistan on a one-man mission to capture Osama bin Laden.
Gary Faulkner was armed with a dagger, some biblical literature, a pistol, night-vision goggles and a sword, news reports said.
What's more, the man was even on dialysis, CNN reported at the time. And yet somehow he managed to end up in Chitral, a mountainous district in the northern tip of the country.
Chitral was as logical a place as any to hunt for the most wanted terrorist in the world. News reports in the years since the 9/11 attacks had put bin Laden in fortress-like environs along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Chitral fit the bill. It was connected to the rest of the country by a strip of land so treacherous that it is often closed because of weather conditions.
On Sunday night, the world received news that bin Laden was killed in his compound in Abbottabad, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) north of the Pakistani capital of Islamabad..... ......
Name of source: Fox News
SOURCE: Fox News (5-4-11)
Much like his great uncle, revolutionary leader Pancho Villa, retired Mexican army Gen. Carlos Bibiano Villa Castillo isn't easily frightened.
Even before Villa started his job last month as top cop in the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo, he'd received a grisly welcome from Mexico's most ruthless drug cartel, the Zetas.
The 62-year-old Villa, who shares the intense stare and strong features of his famous relative, is undeterred. He started his new job on April 5. ...
SOURCE: Fox News (4-24-11)
Strange hammerlike teeth seen in two newfound species of ancient marsupials -- teeth unknown in any other mammal -- were the weapons they once used to smash open snail shells.
Oddly, a bizarre group of lizards alive today in the rain forests of eastern Australia possess extraordinarily similar teeth, and their ancestors might have driven those snail-eating marsupials to extinction struggling over their sluggish prey. [Image of fossil marsupial]
The fossil marsupials, discovered in semi-arid northern Australia, are 10 million to 17 million years old, and lived back when the area was a temperate lowland forest. The ferret-sized species are named Malleodectes mirabilis and Malleodectes moenia -- Latin and Greek for "extraordinary hammer-biter" and "fortified hammer-biter," respectively.
These creatures each had enormous premolars, which in humans would be located between the canines and molars. The specimen they first investigated "appeared so odd that initially none of the team could work out exactly what it was," researcher Rick Arena, a paleontologist at the University of New South Wales in Australia, told LiveScience. "The teeth were unlike any we had ever seen before in a mammal, so we were scratching our heads."
Name of source: History.com
SOURCE: History.com (5-4-11)
After a century-long ban, French legislators voted in mid-April to legalize absinthe, the legendary potion prized by 19th-century bohemians for its hallucinogenic and inspirational effects. Find out more about the spirit’s heyday in the 19th century, its fall from grace in the early 1900s and why it’s once again becoming a drink of choice.
The Origins of Absinthe
Absinthe’s long history dates back to the ancient Egyptians, who used the drink’s most famous ingredient, the flavorful plant known as wormwood, for medicinal purposes as early as 1550 B.C. Ancient Greek texts also make reference to wormwood-based remedies, as well as a wormwood-flavored wine called absinthites oinos that may have been the predecessor of modern absinthe.
Absinthe as we know it was first distilled in Switzerland by the French doctor Pierre Ordinaire in 1792; five years later, a distillery began producing the spirit for medicinal use. French soldiers fighting in Algeria in the 1840s were administered absinthe to ward off malaria and dysentery, which it appears to have successfully prevented in some cases. (Wormwood is believed to act as a mild antiparasitic.) Returning home from the front, these men sought out the potent cure-all in the bars and cafes of Paris, where it had gained a following among bohemians and the bourgeoisie.
Absinthe’s Cup Runs Over
Throughout the second half of the 19th century, a parasite ravaged the France’s vineyards, sending wine prices skyrocketing and further kindling the growing rage for absinthe. By 1910, France was knocking back 36 million liters of absinthe per year. Savvy drinkers poured the spirit through a sugar cube placed on a slotted spoon and mixed it with ice-cold water, creating a milky green concoction; though trendy bars around the world now offer absinthe-based cocktails, this is still seen as the traditional method of preparation....
Name of source: WSJ
SOURCE: WSJ (4-27-11)
'Images of U.S. Grant" has arrived at the Galena-Jo Daviess County Historical Society & Museum in time to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (and Grant's birthday on Wednesday). But this exhibition, in the picturesque historic village that the Union general and American president briefly called home, is designed to draw repeat visits from history buffs over the course of its four-year run.
The first year's installment is subtitled "Soldier," to be followed in subsequent Aprils by segments on "Family," "Presidency" and "Death"—all featuring never-before-displayed portraits, artifacts and memorabilia. Most of the items on display come from the private collection of Bill Margeson, a Chicago radio personality and Grant devotee. "He simply called us up and said: 'Hey, I have all this great Grant stuff. Would you like to display it?" said Nicole L. Louis, the museum's assistant director....
Name of source: The Hot Word
SOURCE: The Hot Word (5-2-11)
Imagine this: your beloved great uncle bequeaths to you an old book; so old that it is literally coming apart at the seams. You tuck away the tattered tome in the attic, where it will stay for decades. One day you decide to unearth the inherited manuscript and have it appraised. To your astonishment, your great uncle left you a highly coveted artifact that dates back to the 15th century. This biblio-fairy tale turned into a true story for one Sandy, Utah resident.
The discovery of the partial copy of the 500-year-old Nuremberg Chronicle left antique book dealer, Ken Sanders, flabbergasted. “You don’t expect to see one of the oldest printed books pop up in Sandy, Utah” Sanders said. It’s a long journey indeed; one that begins in Nuremberg, Germany.
Originally published in Latin in July of 1493 and referred to by Latin scholars as the Liber Chronicarum (Book of Chronicles), the text was translated into German five months later and called the Nuremberg Chronicle – a reference to the city in which it was published. To honor its author, Hartmann Schedel, German speakers refer to the text as Die Schedelshe Weltchronic or Schedel’s World History. The pages describe a version of human history segmented into seven chapters or “ages,” beginning with the Biblical Creation and ending at the Last Judgment....
Name of source: USA Today
SOURCE: USA Today (5-3-11)
He later became one of only a dozen men to walk on the moon, where he hit a golf shot that became perhaps the most memorable moment of the Apollo 14 mission he commanded.
Kennedy Space Center, where both those missions were launched, will celebrate the anniversary of Shepard's first flight as one of the key moments in human spaceflight, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said....
Name of source: The Atlantic
SOURCE: The Atlantic (5-2-11)
Osama bin Laden is dead, but the U-S-A chant lives on. One of the strangest things about the Al-Qaeda leader's death has been the patriotic and at least a little absurd celebrations that have taken place from last night's Phillies-Mets game at Citizens Bank Park to the campus of Iowa State University and beyond, and especially at the White House, where my colleague Alexis Madrigal captured an atmosphere of "aimless celebrating" in which Washington Capitals hockey fans formed a mob alongside college kids and other onlookers. And perhaps stranger still is that all of these scenes gave rise to cheers of "U-S-A! U-S-A!".
How did this utterance, with its odd mix of sporting-event fervor and borderline nativist patriotism, make its way to the mouths of countless Americans last night? Here at The Atlantic, we've pieced together the story of the U-S-A chant, a cultural saga spanning three decades and encompassing everything from professional hockey to Jerry Springer to 9/11....