Name of source: LiveScience
Some 5,200 years ago, in the mountains of western Iran, people may have used takeout windows to get food and weapons, newly presented research suggests.
But rather than the greasy hamburgers and fries, it appears the inhabitants of the site ordered up goat, grain and even bullets, among other items.
The find was made at Godin Tepe, an archaeological site that was excavated in the 1960s and 1970s by a team led by T. Cuyler Young Jr., a curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, who died in 2006....
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 18:43
Name of source: CBS News
It's like something out of "The Da Vinci Code": Hundreds of thousands of fragments from medieval religious scrolls are scattered across the globe. How will scholars put them back together?
The answer, according to scientists at Tel Aviv University, is to use computer software based on facial recognition technology. But instead of recognizing faces, this software recognizes fragments thought to be part of the same work. Then, the program virtually "glues" the pieces back together.
This enables researchers to digitally join a collection of more than 200,000 fragmentary Jewish texts, called the Cairo Genizah, found in the late 1800s in the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo. The Cairo Genizah texts date from the ninth to the 19th centuries, and they're dispersed amongst more than 70 libraries worldwide. Researchers will report on their progress in digitally reuniting the Cairo Genizah during the second week in November at the 2011 IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision in Barcelona....
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 14:55
Name of source: N-YHS Press Release
NEW YORK, NY, October 26, 2011 – Rare and centuries-old liturgical objects, manuscripts, maps and other historic artifacts—including a Torah scroll rescued from the hands of British troops during the American Revolution—will be on loan to the New-York Historical Society beginning November 11, 2011, for the installations The Resilient City and Treasures of Shearith Israel. The presentations of Treasures of Shearith Israel and The Resilient City at the renovated and transformed New-York Historical highlight the history of religious freedom in New York City and honor the first Jewish congregation to have been established in North America—a congregation that remains vibrant and active today, and is a neighbor of New-York Historical.
Congregation Shearith Israel, the Spanish-Portuguese Synagogue, was founded in 1654 by the first Jews to settle in North America: a group of 23 immigrants who came to New Amsterdam from their previous place of residence in Recife, Brazil. From 1654 through 1825, Shearith Israel was the only Jewish congregation in New York City. The congregation met in rented quarters until 1730, when it constructed its first building, which was located in downtown Manhattan on Mill Street (now known as South William Street). Many of the furnishings from the 1730 building are now installed in an intimate chapel, called the Little Synagogue, in Shearith Israel’s current home, consecrated in 1897, on the Upper West Side.
The Torah Scroll will be on display in the Judith and Howard Berkowitz Sculpture Court in the Rotunda of the New-York Historical Society, where it will be surrounded by four late-20th-century views of the New York cityscape by artist Richard Haas. This installation will establish a dialogue between the city’s past and present and help reinforce the underlying themes of diversity, tolerance and resilience that are also addressed in inaugural installations presented in New-York Historical’s new Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History, where visitors may explore the history of the United States as seen through the lens of New York. The many other significant objects on loan to New-York Historical from Shearith Israel will be displayed in the Henry Luce III Center for the Study of American Culture.
These loans have been facilitated Norman S. Benzaquen.
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 13:12
Name of source: San Diego News
Jack-o'-Lanterns, those carved up, hollowed out pumpkins, often with candles inside of them, have been the face of Halloween for centuries. But when it comes to the history of the venerable o'-Lantern, most people don't know, well, jack. Jack-o'-Lanterns first surfaced in Ireland, where Halloween originated.
The tradition came out of an Irish myth about a man called "Stingy Jack.'' The tale says that Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him, and when Jack decided he didn't want to pay for his libation, he coaxed the Devil to turn himself into a coin. Jack claimed he would use the coin to pay for the drinks. That turned out to be a falsehood, the story goes. Once the Devil became a coin, Jack elected to keep the money and put it in his pocket next to a cross, precluding the Devil from reverting to his original self....
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 12:30
Name of source: eTaiwan News
It was a project so audacious that it took 100 curators four years to complete it. The goal: to tell the history of the world through 100 objects culled from the British Museum’s sprawling collections. The result of endless scholarly debates was unveiled, object by chronological object, on a BBC Radio 4 program in early 2010, narrated by Neil MacGregor, director of the museum. Millions of listeners tuned in to hear his colorful stories – so many listeners that the BBC, together with the British Museum, published a hit book of the series, “The History of the World in 100 Objects,” which is being published in the United States on Monday.
These objects, some humble, some glorious, embody intriguing tales of politics and power, social history and human behavior. The oldest – a 2 million-year-old chopping tool made from stone found in the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania – was “the beginning of the toolbox,” MacGregor said. About a bird-shaped pestle found by the Aikora River in New Guinea around 6000-2000 B.C., he wrote, “The history of our most modern cereals and vegetables begins around 10,000 years ago,” adding, “It was a time of newly domesticated animals, powerful gods, dangerous weather, good sex and even better food.”
Discussing David Hockney’s 1966 etching of two men lying in bed side by side, MacGregor notes, “It raises perplexing questions about what societies find acceptable or unacceptable, about the limits of tolerance and individual freedom, and about shifting moral structures over thousands of years of human history.”...
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 12:28
Name of source: The Examiner
Halloween 2011 is finally here. To get into the spirit of the spook-tacular holiday, here are some interesting facts about the history of Halloween, ten fun trivia facts, and Halloween trick-or-treating details at Atlanta malls.
The History of Halloween:
- Halloween, referred to as All Hallows Eve, was originally a pagan holiday for which the dead were honored. It was celebrated on October 31st since this was the last day of the Celtic calendar. The celebration dates back some 2,000 years.
- The ancient Celts thought that spirits and ghosts wandered the streets on All Hallows Eve so they began wearing masks and costumes in order to not be recognized as human....
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 12:28
The Washington Monument is not the national capital's only iconic structure closed because of earthquake damage. Arlington House, also known as the Custis-Lee Mansion in Arlington National Cemetery, was structurally damaged during August’s 5.8 earthquake. Examination revealed numerous ceiling and wall cracks plus a partial wall separation with a split down one corner in the rear of the house.
As a result, the National Park Service has closed the second floor and basement of the mansion to all visitors.
Built by George Washington Parke Custis between 1802 and 1817, Custis hired George Hadfield, a young English architect, to design the residence on the more than 1,100 acres he had inherited from his father, John Parke Custis. Raised by his grandmother and her second husband, George Washington, after his father’s death, young George Custis wanted the house to also become a “treasury” of Washington heirlooms, open to visitation by the public. Only one child of his marriage to Mary Lee Fitzhugh--Mary Anna Randolph Custis, born in 1808--survived to adulthood … and she would marry Lieutenant Robert E. Lee in the parlor of Arlington House on June 30, 1831....
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 11:00
Name of source: Seattle Times
It's not unusual for an archaeologist to get stuck in the past, but Carl Gustafson may be the only one consumed by events on the Olympic Peninsula in 1977.
That summer, while sifting through earth in Sequim, the young Gustafson uncovered something extraordinary — a mastodon bone with a shaft jammed in it. This appeared to be a weapon that had been thrust into the beast's ribs, a sign that humans had been around and hunting far earlier than anyone suspected.
Unfortunately for Gustafson, few scientists agreed. He was challenging orthodoxy with less-than-perfect evidence.
For almost 35 years, his find was ridiculed or ignored, the site dismissed as curious but not significant.
But earlier this month, a team that re-examined his discovery using new technology concluded in the prestigious journal Science that Gustafson had been right all along....
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 12:25
Name of source: Huffington Post
WASHINGTON -- A presidential call to service that inspired generations of Main Street Americans originated, ironically, in the privileged world of a New England prep school.
"Ask not what your country can do for you," President John F. Kennedy famously declared in his inaugural address of 1961. "Ask what you can do for your country."
In his new book, "Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero," talk show host and author Chris Matthews presents new evidence that Kennedy had heard that language in chapel exhortations delivered by the headmaster of the Choate School in Connecticut when he was a student there in the 1930s.
Its elitist origins notwithstanding, Matthews writes, Kennedy's call moved millions of Americans to a sense of civic duty and an optimistic view of national mission, both of which seem missing in our own time. ...
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 11:50
A billboard in Costa Mesa, Calif., is getting some attention, but it's certainly not the kind its sponsors were hoping for.
The sign, paid for by atheist group Backyard Skeptics, includes a quote about Christianity attributed to Thomas Jefferson. But further research reveals there's no solid evidence that Jefferson ever uttered or wrote the words, the Orange County Register first reported.
The billboard includes a picture of Jefferson with the quote: "I do not find in Christianity one redeeming feature. It is founded on fables and mythology."...
Jefferson kept a personal book containing certain verses from the New Testament and the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the Los Angeles Times points out. He arranged the snippets into a small "scrapbook," which left out mentions of the virgin birth, Jesus' resurrection, and other forms of divinity and miracles. He called it, "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth," but it later came to be known as the "Jefferson Bible."...
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 11:49
Name of source: Early Modern England (Blog)
The amazing chance discovery of a manuscript hidden among papers in an ancient family archive is shedding new light on the legendary career of William Shakespeare’s biggest rival, the poet and playwright, Ben Jonson.
As portrayed in the new Hollywood Shakespeare movie Anonymous, out in cinemas this Friday 28th October, Jonson was the leading wit of his time and lived a life full of notoriety and intrigue. Weighing in at just under 20 stone, he famously completed a walk from London to Scotland in 1618 but because his own account of the journey was destroyed in a fire at his house a few years later, no direct record of the trip has existed… until now.
Researchers from The University of Nottingham and The University of Edinburgh are now examining the anonymous 41-page journal in a major research project which will reconstruct a large missing piece of the colourful jigsaw of Ben Jonson’s life story. Dr James Loxley, Head of the Department of English at the University of Edinburgh, and Professor Julie Sanders, Head of the School of English Studies at The University of Nottingham, are working with a postdoctoral fellow, Dr Anna Groundwater to unlock the meanings and significance of this intriguing document....
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 11:46
Name of source: WUSA 9
WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA)-- Jackson Davis V is a 6th grader on a mission.
He wants the world to honor York, William Clark's slave.
Jackson wrote the United States Postal Service Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee to ask them to honor York on a Heritage stamp....
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 11:45
Name of source: Science Daily
ScienceDaily (Oct. 26, 2011) — Plans to reopen Spain’s Altamira caves are stirring controversy over the possibility that tourists’ visits will further damage the 20,000-year old wall paintings that changed views about the intellectual ability of prehistoric people. That’s the topic of an article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS’ weekly newsmagazine. The caves are the site of Stone Age paintings so magnificent that experts have called them the “Sistine Chapel of Paleolithic Art.”...
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 11:44
ScienceDaily (Oct. 5, 2011) — A University of Colorado Boulder-led team excavating a Maya village in El Salvador buried by a volcanic eruption 1,400 years ago has unexpectedly hit an ancient white road that appears to lead to and from the town, which was frozen in time by a blanket of ash.
The road, known as a "sacbe," is roughly 6 feet across and is made from white volcanic ash from a previous eruption that was packed down and shored up along its edges by residents living there in roughly A.D. 600, said CU-Boulder Professor Payson Sheets, who discovered the buried village known as Ceren near the city of San Salvador in 1978. In Yucatan Maya, the word "sacbe" (SOCK'-bay) literally means "white way" or "white road" and is used to describe elevated ancient roads typically lined with stone and paved with white lime plaster and that sometimes connected temples, plazas and towns.
The sacbe at the buried village of Ceren -- which had canals of water running on each side -- is the first ever discovered at a Maya archaeology site that was built without bordering paving stones, said Sheets. The road was serendipitously discovered by the team while digging a test pit through 17 feet of volcanic ash in July to analyze agricultural activity on the edges of Ceren, considered the best preserved Maya village in Central America....
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 11:43
ScienceDaily (Oct. 28, 2011) — The diaspora of Afro-descendants in Mexico and Central America takes on many guises, as reflected in names used such as Colonial Blacks, Afro-Antilleans, Garifuna. Status and levels of social recognition and integration are highly diverse and this distinguishes the countries of this region from the rest of the Latin-American continent. Researchers from the IRD and their partners(1) involved in the programmes AFRODESC and EURESCL(2) are studying the historical construction of these communities, which developed from successive waves of migrations, and of their identities.
Three hundred years of slavery, from the 16th to 19th Centuries, have left their scars. After abolition, there was exclusion, which drove descendants of slaves to migrate to the major centres of employment around the Caribbean rim. Now they represent a second diaspora and experience persisting inequality and stigmatization. Unlike Brazil and Colombia, symbols of multiculturalism, the "Black question" in Mexico and Central America has not attracted the strong interest of politicians and researchers.
From the 16th to the end of the 19th Centuries, slave ships plied the Atlantic Ocean to serve the triangular trade between Europe, Africa and the Americas. This slave trade deported millions of Africans across the Atlantic. The progressive abolition of slavery during the 19th Century emancipated men and freed consciences. However, 300 years of the slave trade left scars still visible today. These traumatic events firmly shaped the historical construction and contemporary evolution of societies rife with inequality and exclusion, as in Latin America. The social status the Black Atlantic, the term used for this diaspora of Afro descendants, is a core issue in political debate, to a background of persisting racism and discrimination and questions of inter-racial mixing, multiculturalism and identity. Going beyond western societies' feelings of guilt, IRD researchers and their partners(1) involved in the AFRODESC and EURESCL programmes (2) are studying how slavery and its abolition have shaped present nations, recognition of black communities and the policies implemented in each country....
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 11:10
ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2011) — An archaeological excavation at Poggio Colla, the site of a 2,700-year-old Etruscan settlement in Italy's Mugello Valley, has turned up a surprising and unique find: two images of a woman giving birth to a child.
Researchers from the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project, which oversees the Poggio Colla excavation site some 20 miles northeast of Florence, discovered the images on a small fragment from a ceramic vessel that is more than 2,600 years old.
The images show the head and shoulders of a baby emerging from a mother represented with her knees raised and her face shown in profile, one arm raised, and a long ponytail running down her back.
The excavation is a project of Southern Methodist University, Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Penn., and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, in collaboration with The Open University in Milton Keynes, England....
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 08:13
Name of source: Telegraph (UK)
A wreck found under water in a Papua New Guinea harbour likely was a Japanese midget submarine from the Second World War.
Australian and New Zealand warships found it while working in the area to clear WWII-era explosives Thursday. Simpson Harbour is in the town of Rabaul, which was a major Japanese military base on the northeast coast of the South Pacific nation.
New Zealand Navy Lt. Commander Matthew Ray told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio the find was initially identified as "a 20-metre (66-feet) long solid, man-made object." Closer inspection confirmed it was a submarine, although its nationality was not yet known, he said....
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 11:24
Historians believe the camp, once home to an estimated 1,000 legionaries and located on the River Lippe near the town of Olfen, may well have been served as a key base for the Roman General Drusus, who waged a long and bloody war against the tribes that once inhabited what is now western Germany.
The find comes 100 years after the discovery of a bronze Roman helmet near Olfen indicated the presence of ancient remains but it took a century of searching to finally discover the exact location of the camp.
"It's a sensational discovery for Roman research in Westphalia," Wolfgang Kirsch, one of the archaeologists involved in the discovery, said in a statement, adding that the camp was the "last missing link" in the chain of Roman defences in western Germany.
Researchers dug up Roman coins, fragments of pottery and the remains of old defences, while aerial photography revealed the course of mote that once protected the camp from German tribes eager to drive the invaders out of their land....
Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 15:48
Name of source: AP
JERUSALEM (AP) — A tiny, exquisitely made box found on an excavated street in Jerusalem is a token of Christian faith from 1,400 years ago, Israeli archaeologists said Sunday.
The box, carved from the bone of a cow, horse or camel, decorated with a cross on the lid and measuring only 0.8 inches by 0.6 inches (2 centimeter by 1.5 centimeter), was likely carried by a Christian believer around the end of the 6th century A.D, according to Yana Tchekhanovets of the Israel Antiquities Authority, one of the directors of the dig where the box was found....
Monday, October 31, 2011 - 11:13
MALVERN, Pa. (AP) — The Irish immigrants building a stretch of railroad near Philadelphia in 1832 had been in the U.S. only a few weeks when they died — ostensibly of cholera — and were unceremoniously dumped in a mass grave. Their families never knew what happened to them.
Nearly 180 years later, local researchers say they have a clearer picture of the men's fate. But their massive effort to unearth, identify and properly re-inter the workers' remains will not be realized; the grave is inaccessible, they say, and will remain undisturbed.
Still, enough evidence exists to prove that some laborers were victims of murder, not disease, according to historians Frank and Bill Watson. And while it's likely the unrecovered bones may have been too degraded to yield testable DNA, one set of remains found apart from the main ossuary might still be positively identified and returned to Ireland.
"Since the beginning, we have seen it as our job to get their story out of folklore and into actual history, and we hope we have done that," Bill Watson said....
Sunday, October 30, 2011 - 19:15
LONDON — First came love, then came marriage. But what if — someday — it's a girl in Kate Middleton's baby carriage?
If she's the royal couple's eldest child, new rules could push the princess to a prime place in history: the first girl to accede to the throne and beat out any younger brothers.
The Commonwealth countries agreed Friday to change centuries-old rules of succession that put male heirs on the throne ahead of any older sisters, following nations such as Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway that have scrapped male primogeniture.
The move is a baby step — the changes must still be approved by the legislatures of the 16 nations where she is head of state before they could take effect — but is seen as a triumph over outdated, sexist practices....
Friday, October 28, 2011 - 13:28
BALTIMORE — A presidential historian’s assistant pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to steal valuable documents from archives throughout the Northeast.
Jason Savedoff, 24, entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Savedoff and historian Barry Landau were charged in July with stealing historical documents from the Maryland Historical Society and conspiring to steal documents from other archives. Both initially pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors alleged that Landau and Savedoff had about 80 documents when they were arrested at the historical society in Baltimore in July. About 60 belonged to the society, including papers signed by President Abraham Lincoln worth $300,000 and presidential inaugural ball invitations and programs worth $500,000....
Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 18:51
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday he opposes his state allowing specialty license plates featuring the Confederate flag — despite his past defense of the historical value of Confederacy symbols.
The Republican presidential hopeful was in Florida for a fundraiser and told Bay News 9’s “Political Connections” and the St. Petersburg Times that, “we don’t need to be opening old wounds.”
The plates have been requested by the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a nonprofit Perry has supported over the years. They show the group’s logo, which is derived from the Confederate battle flag....
Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 13:33
Name of source: NYT
IN 1801 a composer and cellist named Andreas Romberg decided to dedicate a set of string quartets to Haydn. “This dedication will surely not be unappreciated by you,” Romberg wrote excitedly to his publisher, “as it will doubtless promote the sale of the work. Now tell me if we don’t understand our public — or rather, the world!”
The poor sap. Today Romberg’s quartets are performed less often than Boccherini’s. Is it just that he was a sellout? Mozart, we might be tempted to think, would never have tailored his dedications to appeal to the public.
If Romberg’s remarks appear cynical it is because we assume that dedications, particularly those between composers, are not sources of pecuniary profit but “expressions of respect.” The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, in fact, uses those words to promote its fall festival, Dedications, inviting listeners to consider works dedicated by Mozart to Haydn and by Schumann to Mendelssohn.
Two ensembles will present thoughtful programs at Alice Tully Hall, billed as demonstrations of “creative synergy between legendary composers.” On Friday the Orion String Quartet will pair two Mozart quartets with two of Haydn’s, and next Sunday the Escher String Quartet will offer two Schumann quartets alongside works by Mendelssohn....
Sunday, October 30, 2011 - 17:21
Q. Is it true that New Yorkers were considered fast-talking and rude as far back as the 1700s?
A. “Of course it’s true!” said Michael Miscione, Manhattan’s borough historian.
“My favorite quote on the topic comes from that somewhat fussy Massachusetts statesman — and eventual president of the United States — John Adams,” Mr. Miscione said by e-mail. He referred to Adams’s entry in his diary for Tuesday, Aug. 23, 1774, not long before the Revolution:
“With all the opulence and splendor of this city, there is very little good breeding to be found. We have been treated with an assiduous respect but I have not seen one real gentleman, one well-bred man, since I came to town. At their entertainments there is no conversation that is agreeable; there is no modesty, no attention to one another. They talk very loud, very fast and altogether. If they ask you a question, before you can utter three words of your answer they will break out upon you again and talk away.”...
Sunday, October 30, 2011 - 17:20
For 40 years, Bill Lavicka fought noisily to save old Chicago churches, houses and other neighborhood architecture from the wrecking ball. He worked quietly to restore buildings all over the city, rehabilitating dozens in his whimsical style.
One day in 2004, Mr. Lavicka lamented that for 17 years he had been maintaining his odd and out-of-the-way Vietnam Survivors Memorial on Oakley Boulevard, and he was starting to worry about who would look after it when he was gone.
“How many more 17 years do you think I got left?” he said.
This year Mr. Lavicka, an outspoken Chicago activist, artist and real estate developer, now 66, received a diagnosis of Stage 4 colon cancer, and he is counting time in far smaller increments....
Sunday, October 30, 2011 - 17:19
POLITICS aside, the Occupy Wall Street movement has given us some memorable imagery: electric-blue tarps, various graphic riffs on 99 percent, the hipster cop.
But in this new iconography, one image has emerged as particularly bedeviling (and just in time for Halloween): a grinning, somewhat sinister mask of the English folk hero Guy Fawkes.
The stark-white mask, with a Mephistophelian upturned mustache and dagger-thin goatee, was worn by V, the faceless leader in the comic book “V for Vendetta,” who overthrows a future totalitarian society. The anti-establishment message has been embraced by the Wall Street occupiers.
At Zuccotti Park last week, a half-dozen occupiers wore the mask. “This is a leaderless movement,” said Julio Rolon, 36, a chef from Puerto Rico, who wore the mask, like many people, on the back of his head. “People in power don’t know who they’re going to have to take down first.”...
Sunday, October 30, 2011 - 17:18
The Palestinian president said Friday that the Arab world had erred in rejecting the United Nations’ 1947 plan to partition Palestine into a Palestinian and a Jewish state....
Saturday, October 29, 2011 - 10:27
GALWAY, Ireland — On an autumn evening beside the storied beauty of Galway Bay, with a chilly gust blowing off the Atlantic, Martin McGuinness breezed into a popular tourist hotel that looks out across the bay with the air of a man who has found a measure of peace after a lifetime gripped by Ireland’s troubled past.
And so, in effect, he has. He was an Irish Republican Army gunman at the age of 18, and by 21 an I.R.A. commander on Bloody Sunday, the grim day in 1972 when British troops killed 14 protesters in his native Derry, in Northern Ireland. Now 61 and deputy first minister in the power-sharing government in Belfast, Mr. McGuinness has set his sights on a new job — a goal that has him disavowing the violence of the past, and refuting accusations that he was responsible for ordering murders in his I.R.A. days.
On Thursday, after a 40-day campaign as the candidate of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Republican movement, Mr. McGuinness will be one of seven candidates in an election for the largely ceremonial post of president of the Irish Republic. Although he is unlikely to win, his success in attracting significant levels of support — about 15 percent in last weekend’s surveys, down from close to 20 percent in polls earlier in the campaign — has been taken by many in Ireland as a new sign of the winds of reconciliation blowing across the island....
Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 13:29
...Making precise comparisons to earlier periods can be difficult: Some income and wealth numbers are estimates, and income is only one way of measuring wealth. Still, there are some notable ways to measure gilded ages.
In the late 1890s, when the average American worker’s weekly wage was less than $10, John D. Rockefeller was earning about $192,000 a week. When he died in 1937, the estimated annual investment return on his $1.4 billion wealth produced an income equal to that of about 116,000 American workers, according to Branko Milanovic, lead economist for the World Bank research group and the author of “The Haves and the Have-Nots.” Today, Bill Gates’s annual income equals that of about 75,000 workers.
“If you compare Rockefeller’s income and the average income in the United States, then the gap was even greater in those days,” Dr. Milanovic said. “In the 1920s, though, the overall distribution of income is about the same as now in terms of inequality — very high.”
J. Bradford DeLong, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, largely agreed. “Because the economy was smaller back then, fewer people — John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J. P. Morgan — were more powerful in the country,” he said....
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 13:13
MISURATA, Libya — After four days on public display in a meat locker here, the slowly decomposing corpses of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, one of his sons and his former defense minister were buried in a predawn funeral at a secret location on Tuesday, a top military official said.
The official, Ibrahim Beitalmal, leader of the military intelligence branch in Misurata, said relatives of the three men, including a nephew of Colonel Qaddafi, Mahmoud Hamid, were permitted to attend the burials. Cellphone photos of the ceremony showed three bodies wrapped in white shrouds and placed in coffins of thin wood.
Mr. Beitalmal declined to specify where the bodies of Colonel Qaddafi; his son Muatassim; and the former defense minister, Abu Bakr Younes, had been interred....
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 12:58
Name of source: BBC
After Prime Minister David Cameron announced the return of the British Empire Medal (BEM), we tell the stories of some of the local heroes who were honoured the first time round.
Sometimes seen as a "working-class gong", the BEM was founded in 1917 and was awarded for "meritorious" actions whether by civilians or military personnel.
But the honour was scrapped in 1993 by former Conservative premier John Major, as part of his drive towards a "classless" society.
However, nearly two decades on, the prime minister has announced its revival, and from next year, to coincide with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, about 300 will be awarded annually to community volunteers.
The families of those who received the honour the first time round have welcomed the move - as long as it remains the "unsung heroes" who are recognised....
Sunday, October 30, 2011 - 13:29
The classic novel that coined the term describing impossible situations is celebrating its 50th birthday. So how close does Catch-22 come to accurately portraying today's military?
Most people will have uttered a remark about being caught between a rock and a hard place, in a Catch-22 situation. A no-win dilemma where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.
But fewer people will have read the 1961 novel of the same name that propelled the phrase into the English language.
Catch-22 was published 50 years ago. Written by Joseph Heller, it describes the wartime experiences of B-25 bombardier, Captain John Yossarian. Heller himself had served as a US Air Force bombardier in World War II....
Friday, October 28, 2011 - 13:31
Name of source: WaPo
WARSAW, Poland — Polish authorities have reopened an investigation into World War II crimes committed at Auschwitz and its satellite camps that was closed in the 1980s because of the country’s isolation behind the Iron Curtain.
One aim of the new probe is to track down any living Nazi perpetrators, according to an announcement Thursday by the Institute of National Remembrance, a state body that investigates Nazi and communist-era crimes.
Nazi Germany opened Auschwitz in 1940, months after it invaded and occupied Poland. Over the next five years of war, German and Austrian Nazis murdered up to 1.5 million people there at the expanded Auschwitz-Birkenau camp complex, most of them Jews from across Europe, but also Poles, Roma, gays and others.
The investigation was opened by a branch of the remembrance institute in Krakow, which is located near Auschwitz. Germany also operated other death camps across Poland — like Chelmno, Treblinka and Belzec — and it was not immediately clear if new investigations into them are also planned....
Friday, October 28, 2011 - 13:47
WASHINGTON — Wal-Mart donated $5 million Tuesday to help build the Smithsonian Institution’s planned National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall.
The gift makes the world’s largest retailer one of the project’s “founding donors” who have given more than $1 million.
Construction is scheduled to begin next year for a $500 million museum on a five-acre site near the Washington Monument next year. The project is on track to open in fall 2015, Museum Director Lonnie Bunch said Tuesday.
“This opens the door for even more corporations to give money and give support,” Bunch said of Wal-Mart’s gift. “We’re looking for entities that care about questions of diversity and education in America’s history.”...
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 08:19
Name of source: Jewish Daily Forward
Although Nobel Prize-winning author Samuel Beckett is known for his tragicomically inert characters, he himself was an anti-Nazi activist during World War II. Unlike the ever-absent Godot, the bedridden vagrant protagonist of his novel “Molloy” or the despairing characters in his play “Endgame” who lack legs and the ability to stand, Beckett — though painfully shy and prone to melancholy — was a dynamic member of the French Résistance. His surprising wartime actions are detailed, if not fully explained, in the 2004 biography from Grove Press, “Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett” by James Knowlson.
Like his mentor, James Joyce, Beckett was unusually philo-Semitic among European modernist writers, and he joined the Résistance, Knowlson notes, soon after Joyce’s Jewish friend and amanuensis, Paul Léon, was arrested in Paris (Léon would later be murdered in Auschwitz). A fuller understanding of Beckett’s motivation for his pro-Jewish and anti-Nazi activism had to wait until two new books appeared.
Taking us from wartime to the early part of the author’s great achievements, Cambridge University Press has just published “The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume 2, 1941–1956” following the first volume in 2009. This adds to insight gleaned from “Samuel Beckett’s German Diaries 1936–1937,” released in June by Continuum. Author Mark Nixon, analyzing still-unpublished journals by Beckett, describes the latter’s reactions to a sojourn in Germany intended to improve his grasp of the language and knowledge of the visual arts....
Friday, October 28, 2011 - 13:45
Name of source: Science Magazine
Ancient affliction. A high-resolution CT scan of the lumbar spine region of a 2150-year-old Egyptian mummy has just revealed small, round lesions—the oldest case of metastatic prostate cancer in ancient Egyptians.
Some 2250 years ago in Egypt, a man known today only as M1 struggled with a long, painful, progressive illness. A dull pain throbbed in his lower back, then spread to other parts of his body, making most movements a misery. When M1 finally succumbed to the mysterious ailment between the ages of 51 and 60, his family paid for him to be mummified so that he could be reborn and relish the pleasures of the afterworld.
Now an international research team has diagnosed what ailed M1: the oldest known case of prostate cancer in ancient Egypt and the second oldest case in the world. (The earliest diagnosis of prostate cancer came from the 2700-year-old skeleton of a Scythian king in Russia.) Moreover, the new study now in press in the International Journal of Paleopathology, suggests that earlier investigators may have underestimated the prevalence of cancer in ancient populations because high-resolution computerized tomography (CT) scanners capable of finding tumors measuring just 1 to 2 millimeters in diameter only became available in 2005. "I think earlier researchers probably missed a lot without this technology," says team leader Carlos Prates, a radiologist in private practice at Imagens Médicas Integradas in Lisbon....
Friday, October 28, 2011 - 13:42
Name of source: Discovery News
A three-ton stone from Jerusalem's Western Wall, hundreds of biblical era artifacts, and a collection of 20 Dead Sea Scrolls will make their debut tomorrow in New York's Discovery Times Square Exposition.
The largest collection of biblical artifacts ever displayed outside Israel, the exhibition "Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times," aims to take visitors on a "fascinating archaeological journey through the Holy Land."
The show's centerpiece is 20 Dead Sea Scrolls, containing sections from the biblical books of Genesis, Psalms, Exodus, Isaiah, and others. The scrolls include four pieces which have never been available for public viewing.
Considered one of the greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th century, the parchment and papyrus scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves around the ruins of the ancient settlement of Qumran on the Dead Sea....
Friday, October 28, 2011 - 13:35
About 252 million years ago, Earth experienced its most devastating extinction in the history of life on our planet. And while scientists have long known that more than 80 percent of ocean-dwelling species disappeared, they have long debated what happened on land.
Now, researchers are reporting that land-dwelling species were equally decimated during the extinction, which ended an era called the Permian period. After the massive wave of devastation swept through, just a few "disaster" species remained, including a handful of large four-legged creatures, a new study found.
Recovery, the study also found, was slow. Animals that survived the near-apocalypse remained on the edge of collapse for the next eight million years, before the food supply stabilized again.
As we enter what appears to be the Earth’s sixth major extinction event, the new findings emphasize the value of having a wide range of creatures around, and more warnings of the danger of letting too many species disappear....
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 08:12
Name of source: Spiegel Online
Archaeologists in France recently discovered the remains of 21 German soldiers from World War I in an underground shelter that hasn't been touched since the day it was destroyed by French shells 93 years ago. Pocket books and prayer beads tell stories of life in the trenches -- but Germany doesn't want to hear them.
Archaeologists in northern France have unearthed the bodies of 21 German soldiers from World War One in an elaborate underground shelter that was destroyed in a French attack in March 1918, and hasn't been opened since.
Individual war casualties are still frequently found during construction work on the former Western front battlefields of France and Belgium, but the discovery of so many soldiers in one location is rare.
The tomb, poignant and grisly, sheds light on the lives of the soldiers who died in explosions from heavy shells that penetrated the tunnel.
"It's a bit like Pompeii," Michaël Landolt, the French archaeologist leading the dig, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Everything collapsed in seconds and is just the way it was at the time. This is an extraordinary find."...
Friday, October 28, 2011 - 13:33
Name of source: Inside Higher Ed
David Barnard, president of the University of Manitoba, on Thursday became the first Canadian university president to formally apologize for the residential schools that were formerly used in the country to educate many Native Canadians, with the goal of assimilating them into the dominant white culture....
Friday, October 28, 2011 - 10:01
Name of source: Dorset Echo
HISTORIANS have been thrilled by the discovery of a historic room-dividing screen decorated by author Charles Dickens.
And now a conservationist at Dorset History Centre in Dorchester is so intent on preserving the original piece and taking off 160 years of grime and dirt that she is using her own saliva to remove the dirt.
The reason for this is that it contains dirt-fighting enzymes should not damage the artwork.
It is thought that in 1850 Dickens spent hours gluing more than 800 images, etchings and prints on to the 7ft tall divider in the home of his actor friend William Macready....
Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 15:06
Name of source: Yahoo News
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Archaeologists at Cambodia's famous Angkor Wat temple complex say they have unearthed the largest Buddhist statues there in eight decades....
Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 15:05
Name of source: LA Times
Among those closely watching the Occupy Wall Street protests: the Smithsonian.
The National Museum of American History has dispatched representatives to collect materials, such as protest signs, from the demonstrations.
It is in pursuit of the museum's mission to "document the spirit of American democracy and the American political process, including how people express their points of view through political rallies, demonstrations and protests," the institution said in a statement....
Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 12:51
Name of source: Daily Mail (UK)
A metal detecting enthusiast unearthed 'the find of a lifetime' when he discovered a Viking treasure hoard including 200 pieces of silver jewellery.
Darren Webster dug up a 1,000-year-old casket that also held coins, hacksilver and ingots while scouring at an undisclosed location on the border between Cumbria and North Lancashire.
Experts at the British Museum in London say the find is of 'national significance'.
'It's a find of a lifetime,' said Mr Webster, from Carnforth, Cumbria....
Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 12:51
Name of source: USA Today
For all the political hubbub over Mormonism, you might have thought Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are the first Mormons to run for president.
In fact, 11 Latter-day Saints have campaigned for the White House, including the faith's founder, Joseph Smith.
A barrage of bullets cut short Smiths campaign in 1844. He was the first presidential candidate to be assassinated, according to historian Newell G. Bringhurst....
...A study of his short-lived campaign demonstrates that anti-Mormon sentiment is rooted deep in American history.
"Quite ordinary people were roused to levels of hatred and fear they never reached at any other time, writes historian Richard Lyman Bushman in Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling: A Cultural Biography of Mormonisms Founder.
Six months into his presidential campaign, Smith was murdered by an angry mob in Carthage, Ill. Some historians believe his White House run incited fears of a looming Mormon theocracy.
"It was not a hatred of the alien, writes Bushman. "It was more a fear of the familiar gone awry.
Then, as now, it was theological — not political — disagreements that agitated many of Mormonisms opponents, said Adam Christing, director of a documentary about Smiths campaign....
Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 12:49
Name of source: BBC News
Former Argentine naval officer Alfredo Astiz has been jailed for life for crimes against humanity during military rule in 1976-83.
Astiz - known as the "Blond Angel of Death" - was found guilty of torture, murder and forced disappearance.
Among his victims were two French nuns and the founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group.
Eleven other former military and police officers were also given life sentences for crimes against humanity.
Four others were jailed for between 18 and 25 years.
All worked at the Naval Mechanical School in Buenos Aires - known as Esma - which was the biggest secret torture and killing centre set up by the military during what became known as the "Dirty War"....
Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 12:12
At the end of the Korean War, thousands of prisoners from both sides faced a choice - whether to return home or remain with their captors. David Hawkins was one of a handful of American GIs who chose to go to China.
"I don't think it ever occurred to the US or the army that there would be GIs that would choose to go somewhere other than their own country," Mr Hawkins says, more than six decades after he fought communist Korean and Chinese soldiers in the frozen mud along the 38th Parallel.
When the war ended in 1953, tens of thousands of Korean and Chinese prisoners of war chose life in the US over their own homelands.
But America, in the grip of anti-communist fervour, was shocked when 20 of its own young soldiers defected to China....
Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 12:10
Name of source: ABC News
A 2,000-pound cannon pulled from the waters near Beaufort Wednesday will give archeologists and historians more ammunition for separating fact from legend surrounding the infamous pirate Blackbeard.
The Queen Anne's Revenge Project brought the massive gun ashore and displayed it to the public before taking to a laboratory at East Carolina University. Onlookers cheered as the 8-foot-long gun was raised above the water's surface.
"The last people who saw this were pirates," QAR project director Mark Wilde-Ramsing told more than 100 spectators who later gathered in front of Beaufort's Maritime Museum for a closer look at the 18th century weapon.
Dozens of local residents turned out, while some Blackbeard enthusiasts drove in from other parts of the state....
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 18:16
Name of source: Guardian (UK)
The last of the nation's biggest nuclear bombs, a Cold War relic 600 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, has been dismantled in what one energy official called a milestone in President Barack Obama's mission to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
Workers in Texas separated the roughly 300lb (136kg) of high explosives inside from the special nuclear material – uranium – known as the pit.
The work was done outside of public view for security reasons, but explosives from a bomb taken apart earlier were detonated as officials and reporters watched from less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) away.
The deputy secretary of energy, Daniel Poneman, called the disassembly "a milestone accomplishment." The completion of the dismantling programme is a year ahead of schedule, according to the US Department of Energy's national nuclear security administration, and aligns with Obama's goal of reducing the number of nuclear weapons.
Put into service in 1962, when Cold War tensions peaked during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the B53 weighed 10,000lb (4,500 kg) and was the size of a minivan. Many of the bombs were disassembled in the 1980s, but a significant number remained in the US arsenal until they were retired from the stockpile in 1997....
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 08:17