Name of source: NYT
Members of Albert Fritsch’s family descended on Grand Central Terminal on Friday to visit a family heirloom (and 45-pound tchotchke) that is now the three-dimensional centerpiece of the exhibition “The Once and Future Pennsylvania Station.”
What’s that you say? Why is their heirloom-tchotchke-lawn ornament on display at the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex?
Because theirs is a boldly handsome eagle head by the sculptor Adolph A. Weinman that adorned the cornice of the original Pennsylvania Station. Mr. Fritsch, a mechanic for the Pennsylvania Railroad, salvaged the head in the early 1960s when the station was being demolished and its stonework dumped in New Jersey. He placed it on his canal-side lawn in Freeport, N.Y. After he died in 1992, the head was moved to Poughkeepsie to be kept by his daughters, Mary Fritsch and Margaret Flitsch (she married a man whose last name was only one letter different than her maiden name, thereby confounding generations of bureaucrats)....
Wednesday, July 6, 2011 - 07:42
To the list of things that J.D. Salinger found hard to bear, we can now add these: pompous graduation ceremonies and shlepping overseas to see tulips.
“I’ve been going to graduations, and there isn’t much that I find more pretentious or irksome than the sight of ‘faculty’ and graduates in their academic get-ups,’’ he wrote a friend in June 1982, mentioning that it took self-control at one point “not to gag.”
He had an equally visceral and unprintable response to the barrage of tulips that greeted him on a three-week spin through Europe in 1994. Writing to the same friend, he expressed relief that Kafka was not alive to see what “a tourist trap” town fathers had made of his house in Prague. Salinger also complained about the time he spent in Europe prowling for restaurants that offered “a decent, huge green salad.”...
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 14:21
SNOWMASS, Colo. — Two different time scales collided in this place.
More than 130,000 years ago in the chilled depths of the Illinoian ice age, an errant glacier left a hole atop a 9,000-foot-high ridge near what would become the town of Aspen in the central Colorado Rockies. The depression filled with snowmelt, and for tens of thousands of years, the little lake attracted the giants of the Pleistocene — mammoths, mastodons, ground sloths half again the size of grizzly bears, supersize bison, camels and horses — that came to drink, and in many cases to die, in the high alpine mud.
The second time scale was more like a runner’s sprint. Scientists had only 70 days — a number framed by mountain winter weather and lawyerly fine print — to search the old lake bed sediments for remnants of these ancient animals.
That was from Oct. 14, when workers on a reservoir dam turned over the first fossil bones (of a young female mammoth, promptly nicknamed Snowy) to last weekend, when work on the reservoir resumed. A tight contract schedule dictates that the reservoir, which will supply the condos and ski lodges of Snowmass, must be completed by late this year. The result was a frantic race to find and catalog everything possible before the site was entombed once more by water....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 14:20
ALBERESE, Italy — On a recent dewy morning on this flat stretch near the Tuscan coast, a man rode his horse with the reins in one hand and a long, hooked, wooden stick in the other.
The man, Stefano Pavin, is one of a dwindling handful of what are known as butteri, Italian cowboys, who for centuries have roamed the marshes of the Maremma, a coastal area that stretches across parts of the Tuscany and Lazio regions, herding “maremmana” cattle, a local breed famous for their large bellies and long, lyre-shaped horns....
The modern world, while slow to seep in here, has not been kind to the Maremma and its cattle (a large breed, with bulls reaching more than 2,500 pounds). Much pastureland is required for the cattle to breed in the wild, but after World War I the state confiscated and carved up many of the large landed estates that had provided that space.
In the 1930s, Mussolini drained much of the swampland, and in the 1950s tractors replaced the cattle, which were raised for farm work as well as for meat....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 14:18
MUMBAI, India — A court-ordered search of vaults beneath a south Indian temple has unearthed gold, jewels and statues worth an estimated $22 billion, government officials said Monday.
The treasure trove, at the 16th century Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple, is widely believed to be the largest find of its kind in India, catching officials in the state of Kerala by surprise and forcing the government to send two dozen police officers to the previously unguarded shrine for round-the-clock security....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 14:17
Name of source: Salon
Hoop skirts and washboards don't appeal much to Joyce Henry, so she found another way to relive the Civil War -- as a man.
With her breasts tightly bound, shoulder-length red hair tucked under a shaggy auburn wig and upper lip hidden by a drooping mustache, Henry impersonates Lt. Harry T. Buford, a real-life Confederate soldier.
The impression could hardly be more accurate since Buford, too, was a woman. He was invented by Loreta Janeta Velazquez, a Cuban-born woman from New Orleans who fought as a man in a series of Civil War battles including the First Battle of Bull Run, according to her autobiography.
Researchers have documented more than 200 such cases. And today, a small number of women follow suit by donning blue and gray uniforms as Civil War re-enactors....
Wednesday, July 6, 2011 - 07:25
Name of source: AP
A British coroner has closed the case on a 130-year-old London murder mystery, ruling that a skull recently found in a garden belonged to a woman killed in 1879.
West London Coroner Alison Thompson confirmed Tuesday that the skull found in the neighborhood of Richmond was that of Julia Thomas, a wealthy widow who was murdered by her housekeeper very close to the site.
Thompson ruled that Thomas was unlawfully killed and that the cause of death was asphyxiation and head injury....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 22:08
The Vatican will display 100 select documents from its Secret Archives at an unprecedented exhibit next year that includes previously unpublished papers from its World War II papacy.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 21:57
Walking along the rows of tombstones here offers a glimpse of the wars America has fought and the men and women who waged them. But most of the grave markers have been half-buried for 20 years, and there is little hope that the volcanic ash obscuring names, dates and epitaphs will be cleared any time soon.
Clark Veterans Cemetery was consigned to oblivion in 1991, when Mount Pinatubo's gigantic eruption forced the U.S. to abandon the sprawling air base surrounding it. Retired U.S. soldiers, Marines and sailors volunteer to keep watch, relying on donations to try to maintain the grounds, but they lament that they're helplessly short on funds to fix things, and that Washington is unwilling to help.
As America marks Independence Day, the U.S. veterans who collect funds to care for the cemetery renewed their calls for Washington to fund and take charge of the work....
Monday, July 4, 2011 - 14:03
Name of source: BBC
A 13th Century pottery vessel found in the Vale of Glamorgan could indicate a thriving local craft in medieval times.
Several fragments of the aquamanile, decorated with a ram's head, were discovered at the site of a manor house at Cosmeston, near Penarth.
The vessels were used by guests to wash their hands at the dinner table.
Professor John Hines from Cardiff University, leader of the dig, said they had never found such an elegant piece made from the local Vale Ware.
The 20-strong team from the university's school of history, archaeology and religion has been digging at the Cosmeston medieval village for the last 4 years.
They have been exploring the site of a manor house, which had not been excavated when archaeology work was first carried out in the area in the 1980s....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 22:05
Mass graves found in York contained the skeletons of English Civil War soldiers, according to a new investigation.
Mass graves containing 113 male skeletons were unearthed just outside the city walls in 2008.
It is thought the men had fought for the Parliamentarians during the siege of York in 1644.
An investigation for the BBC series History Cold Case has concluded the men probably died from typhus fever.
The programme features a team from the Centre of Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 22:03
A skull recovered in the back garden of broadcaster Sir David Attenborough in south-west London belonged to a woman murdered in 1879, a coroner has ruled.
Julia Martha Thomas was killed by her maid, Kate Webster, but her head remained missing. The case became known as "the Barnes mystery".
The skull was found during building work in Richmond last October.
The coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing and the cause of death as asphyxiation and a head injury....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 22:02
Inspectors unearthing priceless treasures from a South Indian temple have had to halt their search because the final vault cannot be opened.
Five vaults replete with precious stones, gold and silver have already been opened in Kerala state's Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple.
The haul's value is now thought to have risen from 25 billion rupees ($500m) to 900 billion rupees ($20.3bn).
Historians say assessing the treasure's true value will be very difficult.
The goods have not been officially valued and inspectors are merely taking an inventory.
The inspectors managed to open the outer doors of the sixth vault but found an iron wall inside it. The vault was last opened 136 years ago, according to temple records....
Monday, July 4, 2011 - 14:41
Name of source: CNN
The New York Times store is selling an exceptionally rare version of the Declaration of Independence, a broadside printed about July 13, 1776, in Salem, Massachusetts. One of only six copies in existence, it can be yours for $1.6 million.
The store is selling it in conjunction with the Caren Archive, which according to its website has the most significant private collection of rare newspapers and broadsides in the United States.
Mones said the Caren Archives and the Times store decided on the price of $1.6 million based on the document's rarity and historical value. The seller is not being identified, and the only other copy not in a public institution is privately owned....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 21:53
Name of source: Marist Poll
Just in time for the July 4th weekend, the Marist Poll has asked Americans in which year the United States declared its independence. And, the result is many Americans need to brush up on their American history.
Click Here for Complete July 1, 2011 USA Poll Release and Tables
Only 58% of residents know that the United States declared its independence in 1776. 26% are unsure, and 16% mentioned another date.
There are age differences on this question. Younger Americans are the least likely to know the correct answer. Only 31% of adults younger than 30 say that 1776 is the year in which the United States broke away from Great Britain. 59% of residents between 30 and 44 report the same. Americans 45 to 59 — 75% — are the age group most likely to have the correct answer. Among those 60 and older, 60% report that 1776 is the year in which the United States declared its independence....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 21:33
Name of source: NPR
On Monday, New York's Coney Island will host Nathan's Famous annual hot dog eating contest. The contest is in its 96th year.
But the origin of the popular summer food is still cloudy.
Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the online magazine Visual Thesaurus, says there are a lot of myths about the name "hot dog." One is about a New York Evening Journal cartoonist, Tad Dorgan.
"Around 1901, Tad Dorgan was at the Polo Grounds in Upper Manhattan; it's where New York's baseball Giants used to play. He was at the ball game [and] one of the concessionaires was selling red-hots, these frankfurter sandwiches, and he had the idea to make a cartoon with a dachshund in a roll, and so he drew this picture for this cartoon," he tells Morning Edition's Renee Montagne....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 21:31
Name of source: LA Times
Abdullah Saadi fingers the fine brown leather belt with holsters for thimble-sized coffee cups and a dagger. He is a keeper of customs, Baghdad's professional server of coffee.
He sits in a brick house behind an iron gate in the cramped warrens of Sadr City. The room is painted bright lemon in contrast to the gray street outside. His mother walks through the room, half-embarrassed, singing for guests, "I am the mother of the coffee maker." She thumps her chest and laughs at her son.
In Iraq, coffee isn't merely a matter of ordering a grande to go from Starbucks. Here, in a country where people blend modern and tribal identities freely, the beverage links people to their history, to their ancient hospitality. It serves as an entry to small talk when a man visits his tribal sheik's house, as a way to gather with friends and mourn in times of death, as an excuse to sit and argue and gossip.
"Coffee means generosity," Saadi says, explaining the delicate customs he presides over, keeping alive the old ways in the big city.
His late father, a porter, smashed coffee beans in a mortar and pestle and had his own special blend of spice that he offered to his guests....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 21:30
Name of source: Chicago Sun-Times
On March 4, 2012, Chicago will celebrate the 175th anniversary of its incorporation as a city — and the City Council’s resident historian doesn’t want the “important historical milestone” to pass unnoticed.
At the behest of Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th), the City Council’s Finance and Special Events committees approved a resolution Tuesday urging City Hall to start planning the appropriate celebration.
Burke said he has no particular celebration in mind. In fact, he’s wide open.
“I would envision, perhaps, an essay contest in the schools or a contest to have a piece of public art dedicated or a symposium to bring leaders from around the world to Chicago or a lecture series where historians — some of the authors of Chicago books — can shed light on how Chicago developed into this great metropolis,” the alderman said.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 21:18
Name of source: AOL News
The Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa is eager to attract tourists, but is torn about the creation of a Nazi museum in the nearby bunker where Hitler stayed several times during WWII, which they say could be a magnet for neo-Nazis.
According to the BBC,
Communist Party leaders are particularly worried about the opening of the Wehrwolf
command center because the new attraction's operators plan on allowing visitors to dress up in Nazi uniforms and pose with swastika flags. Hitler used this bunker while helping to plan the expansion of the Eastern Front.
German soldiers destroyed most of the sprawling site, which was built largely by forced Ukrainian labor, as they retreated in 1944, but left three large bunkers and most of a swimming pool, which is the sites most obvious marker. A mass grave was also left behind, filled with the more than 10,000 POWs and locals who were forced to build Wehrwolf
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 21:12
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
John Gordon, who in 1845 was the last person to be executed in the state of Rhode Island, was hanged for supposedly murdering Amasa Sprague, a wealthy mill-owner from an important local family.
Lincoln Chafee, the Governor of Rhode Island, said that Mr Gordon had been “put to death after a highly questionable judicial process and based on no concrete evidence”.
Mr Sprague was the brother of the one-time state governor and US Senator William Sprague. His killing inflamed tensions between Rhode Island's ‘Yankee’ protestant majority and the newly-arrived Irish population.
After Mr Sprague's body was found brutally beaten on a snowy road on New Year's Day 1844, Mr Gordon and his two brothers, Nicholas and William, were quickly placed in the frame....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 21:11
A 1,400-year-old fresco of St Paul has been discovered in an ancient Roman catacomb.
The fresco was found during restoration work at the Catacombs of San Gennaro (Saint Januarius) in the southern port city of Naples by experts from the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Art.
The announcement was made on the feast day of St Peter and Paul which is traditionally a bank holiday in Rome and details of the discovery were disclosed in the Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.
A photograph released by the Vatican shows the apostle, famous for his conversion to Christianity from Judaism, with a long neck, a slightly pink complexion, thinning hair, a beard and big eyes that give his face a "spiritual air."....
Monday, July 4, 2011 - 14:44
Name of source: Guardian (UK)
The inventory of every gun, bullet, rocket launcher, grenade and explosive put beyond use by the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries will not be made public, the body that oversaw the disarmament process in Northern Ireland has said.
In the final report of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, it said files on the weapons and explosives decommissioned by the paramilitary organisations will instead be held by the US state department in Washington.
The commission said part of the reason behind its decision was to avoid discouraging future acts of decommissioning by other terror groups in Ireland. This would include those anti-ceasefire republicans such as the Real IRA who are still engaged in "armed struggle"....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 20:50
The fashion for dental bling goes back 1,000 years, according to a new discovery by archaeologists. Long before contemporary trends for gold dental caps or teeth inlaid with diamonds became popular, young Viking warriors were having patterns filed into their teeth.
If their intention was to intimidate the enemy, they failed: the evidence has come from front teeth from a pit full of decapitated skeletons, found during roadworks in Dorset and now believed to be victims of a massacre of Viking invaders by local Britons.
The front teeth have horizontal lines that were so neatly filed, archaeologists believe it must have been done by a skilled craftsman rather than by their owners, and the process undoubtedly would have been excruciating....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 20:45
Name of source: Discovery News
Hundreds of bodies stacked one of top of the other emerged during restoration work in the church of Roccapelago, a remote mountain village in north-central Italy.
About one-third of the mass grave, consisting of 281 bodies of adults, infants and children, turned out to be mummies....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 20:46
Stone Age barbecue consumers first went for the bone marrow and then for the ribs, suggest the leftovers of an outdoor 7,700-year-old meaty feast described in the July issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.
The remains, found in the valley of the River Tjonger, Netherlands, provide direct evidence for a prehistoric hunting, butchering, cooking and feasting event. The meal occurred more than 1,000 years before the first farmers with domestic cattle arrived in the region.
Although basic BBQ technology hasn't changed much over the millennia, this prehistoric meal centered around the flesh of an aurochs, a wild Eurasian ox that was larger than today's cows. It sported distinctive curved horns....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 20:44
Name of source: Bloomberg News
For a 90-year-old, China’s Communist Party is hanging with a young crowd.
The organization that has ruled China since Mao Zedong’s forces won a civil war in 1949 added 1.24 million university students as members last year, an 8.2 percent increase from 2009. Founded 90 years ago today to build a socialist Utopia for the laboring classes, the party has become a ticket to elite jobs in government and state-owned businesses that offer security, power and a path to wealth.
“I joined because it’ll help when looking for jobs,” said Ling, a 24-year-old student at Beijing’s Renmin University who declined to be identified by her full name because of concern that she faces retribution from the government. “Getting a government job is so hard, but if I got an offer I’d definitely jump for it. My second choice would be state-owned companies.”...
It wasn’t for about four decades after the party’s founding that Mao’s famous book of quotations, known as The Little Red Book, was published. Among his sayings: “The socialist system will eventually replace the capitalist system; this is an objective law independent of man’s will.”
In a bid to appeal to younger people, Chow Yun-fat and Andy Lau are among actors starring in “Beginning of the Great Revival,” which charts the party’s foundation in 1921.
At the Shanghai IFC Palace Cinema, demand for “Great Revival” has eclipsed that for the four other films showing, including DreamWorks Animation’s “Kung Fu Panda 2.”...
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 18:23
Name of source: WaPo
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — He put on a cap, defying the rules of the courtroom. He gestured to the packed public gallery despite a judge ordering him not to. He threatened a boycott because his chosen lawyers weren’t there.
A belligerent Ratko Mladic repeatedly disobeyed and shouted at judges Monday during an arraignment at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal. Finally, the former Serb general was thrown out of the hearing and the court entered not guilty pleas on his behalf to 11 charges of masterminding the worst atrocities of the Bosnian war.
The 69-year-old’s courtroom theatrics came at the start of a solemn week for survivors of the massacre he is accused of orchestrating — the killing of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995 in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica.
Officials are preparing to rebury 600 people whose remains were dug out of mass graves in the past year and identified using DNA tests. The bodies unearthed in the hills surrounding Srebrenica will be laid to rest July 11 at a cemetery for victims of the mass killings....
Tuesday, July 5, 2011 - 14:32
Name of source: The Huffington Post
An old Turkish prison in Jerusalem is briefly opening to the public this weekend, allowing visitors a rare glimpse inside an infamous local landmark.
The Kishle prison in Jerusalem's Old City was built by the Ottoman Turks in the mid-1800s. It later served the British as a jail, housing Jewish and Arab prisoners in the stormy years leading up to Israel's creation in 1948.
One of those prisoners, Samuel Matza, who was a member of a Jewish underground group as a young man, recalled sleeping on rags on the jail's floor after British police arrested him on weapons charges 64 years ago.
Matza, now 84, said Friday he hoped to visit the building again.
The old lockup has remained closed because of a lack of funds for restoration and refurbishment. It will open on Saturday for three weeks, having been temporarily transformed into a concert space for a visiting troupe of Swedish musicians...
Monday, July 4, 2011 - 14:51
Name of source: Live Science
Human remains discovered beneath the floors of mud-brick houses at one of the world's first permanent settlements, were not biologically related to one another, a finding that paints a new picture of life 9,000 years ago on a marshy plain in central Turkey.
Even children as young as 8 were not buried alongside their parents or other relatives at the site called Çatalhöyük, the researchers found.
Çatalhöyük covered 26 acres (10.5 hectares), and its people — estimated to be as many as 10,000 — would have made a living by growing crops and herding domesticated animals. It was built on a marshy plain in central Turkey.
Before Çatalhöyük, most people on the planet made their living as hunter-gatherers, moving around the landscape in order to survive. In the period after Çatalhöyük was founded, more agricultural settlements were created in the Middle East, paving the way for large cities and the birth of the first civilizations.
When archaeologists first dug up the site in the 1950s and '60s, they found that the settlement contained no streets. Its plastered mud-brick houses were bunched up against each other, and the inhabitants entered them by way of a ladder on the roof. Inside the homes, the people drew art on the walls and created spear points and pottery.
They also buried their dead (up to 30 of them per house) beneath the floors....
Monday, July 4, 2011 - 14:48
Name of source: Fox News
A 10-foot bronze statue of former President Ronald Reagan to commemorate 100 years since his birth has been unveiled in London, the Independent newspaper reports.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined British Foreign Secretary William Hague in paying tribute to Reagan Monday at the U.S. Embassy in London.
According to the paper, the statue of Reagan was commissioned as part of a year of celebrations to mark what would have been the 100th birthday of the former U.S. president....
Monday, July 4, 2011 - 14:00