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  • Originally published 07/26/2013

    Lincoln Memorial vandalized

    The Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. was vandalized overnight.According to NBCWashington, green paint was splattered inside the chamber of the memorial, on Lincoln and on the floor around it.The monument will be closed while National Park Service crews clean up the mess, The Associated Press reported.There's no word yet on who desecrated the monument or what their motive was for doing so....

  • Originally published 07/10/2013

    Jim Sleeper: How Spitzer's Fall Showed He Deserves a Second Chance

    Jim Sleeper lectures in political science at Yale and posts frequently at TPM.New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's fall from office and public grace in 2008 was a tragedy in the strictest classical sense: The substance of his offenses paled before the shock of his stupidity and hypocrisy in committing them. You had to worry even more about his mentality than about his morality.What made the fall so stunning was not his infidelity and how he committed it but the sheer folly of one as tough and experienced as he'd proven himself to be in pursuit of others' far-more-consequential wrongdoings. That very toughness and experience made his tragedy a public one, because New Yorkers and all Americans at that time needed a real fighter -- one as good as Spitzer was on offense as well as defense -- against the casino-finance, corporate-welfare regime that would soon throw millions of people out of their homes and jobs.

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    Jim Sleeper: Don't Panic About the Voting Rights Ruling. Re-Strategize.

    Yes, the Supreme Court, in Shelby v. Holder, has gutted the Voting Rights Act's requirement that state and local jurisdictions with histories of racial discrimination obtain federal approval before they can alter an election-district line, move a polling place, or impose voter-registration requirements, such as photo I.D.'s.(I applaud Lani Guinier's suggestion yesterday, seconding Alabama civil-rights attorney James Blackshire, that, under the circumstances, every U. S. Attorney should deputize an assistant to litigate abuses that the Justice Department was empowered to prevent administratively until now.)

  • Originally published 06/25/2013

    James Ruddick: History? Culture? Send for the Bulldozers

    James Ruddick is the author of several books including Death at the Priory, nominated for a Non-Fiction Edgar Award in the US. He has worked in radio and television as a broadcast journalist.Only in England could this happen: in a few days' time a judicial review will decide whether the countryside immediately surrounding Anne Hathaway's Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon can be torn up to make way for a new housing estate. No, seriously.The local government minister, Eric Pickles, has already ruled in favour of the development, backing Bloor Homes, and unless his decision is reversed, which few expect, one of the most popular heritage sites in Europe will be swamped by 800 new houses - not half a mile away, not even down the road, but rammed so tightly against its sides and rear that the tourists will find the little thatched building garlanded by satellite dishes, chrome barbecues and washing lines. Mr Pickles agreed that there were "material considerations weighing against the development", including "the harm to heritage assets". But he rubber-stamped it anyway.

  • Originally published 06/06/2013

    Jim Downs: The History of Mrs. Obama's Heckler, or Caught Between Civil Rights and a Hard Place

    Jim Downs is an associate professor of history and American Studies at Connecticut College, specializing in African-American studies and nineteenth-century American history. His book, Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction, was just published by Oxford University Press.On June 4, 2013, Ellen Sturtz, a gay rights activist, heckled first lady Michelle Obama at a meeting of the Democratic National Convention. Ms. Obama allegedly responded by saying that she would leave if the heckler did not stop. The audience, however, cajoled the first lady to stay and the gay rights activist was purportedly escorted out of the venue. Mrs. Obama continued her speech by talking about the future of children.

  • Originally published 05/03/2013

    Vatican uncovers first known European depiction of Native Americans

    VATICAN CITY (RNS) Preservationists working on a Renaissance fresco in the Vatican have uncovered what experts believe is the first European representation of Native Americans, from 1494.Writing on April 27 in the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, the director of the Vatican Museum, Antonio Paolucci, said the previously unnoticed detail was discovered in a Resurrection scene painted by the Renaissance master Pinturicchio.Covered by centuries of soot, the restoration of the painting revealed a small depiction of naked men with feathered headdresses who appear to be dancing. A man on horseback is also visible....

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Steven Conn: The Fetish of States' Rights

    Steven Conn, editor of To Promote the General Welfare: The Case for Big Government (Oxford University Press USA/2012), is professor and director of Public History at Ohio State University. Ronald Reagan kicked off his presidential campaign in 1980 with a speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi. It's worth remembering, especially in light of several recent events, why that was so important.Philadelphia was a small sleepy town like dozens of others in the South, brutally segregated according to Mississippi law and customs, just like dozens of others. It became nationally famous -- and symbolic -- when three civil rights workers doing advance work for Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964 were murdered by some of the local white supremacists. They instantly became martyrs to a heroic cause.Sixteen years later, candidate Reagan didn't mention James Cheney, Andrew Goodman or Michael Schwerner in his speech. Instead, Reagan announced: "I believe in states' rights," and he promised the all-white Mississippi crowd that he would "restore to states and local governments the power that properly belongs to them."

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Edward Berenson: Historians and Collective Memory

    Edward Berenson is professor of history and director of the Institute of French Studies at NYU. He is the author, most recently, of The Statue of Liberty. A Transatlantic Story (2012) and Heroes of Empire (2010). From 2008 to 2012, he directed, with Denis Peschanski and the leaders of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum and the Memorial de Caen in France, an international research project on the history and memorialization of traumatic events.Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post.Joshua Foer shows that even ordinary people can perform extraordinary feats of memory. He cites the historical precedent of the ancient Romans who didn't have printing presses and couldn't look things up. They had to rely on memory.The Roman example is telling, but historians nowadays tend to be interested in different facets of memory, especially "collective memory" and its mirror image, forgetting. Among other things, we want to know how a society or community's memory of important events changes over time. Those changes often involve forgetting what we once knew -- or thought we knew.

  • Originally published 02/07/2013

    What's Still Missing From the Gun Control Debate

    Image via Shutterstock.Originally appeared on the Huffington Post.Behind the gun control debate lies a deeper one that we need to have. It would show that the danger to our freedom isn't coming from government censors and conspiracies but from marketing sensors that are bypassing our brains and hearts on the way to our gut instincts and wallets.

  • Originally published 01/25/2013

    Jim Sleeper: Israel's Election: Sea Change, or Mood Swing?

    Jim Sleeper lectures in political science at Yale and posts frequently at TPM. He has been a New York newspaper columnist and is the author of The Closest of Strangers and Liberal Racism. His website is www.jimsleeper.com."In the space of a few hours, Netanyahu watched as the American people formally gave their president four more years, and the people of Israel gave their prime minister six more weeks. That is the prime minister's deadline for forming a new coalition based on a Knesset majority, and it is going to be one long row," writes Bradley Burston of the liberal Haaretz, Israel's equivalent of Britain's The Guardian.In Burston's judgment, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won a mostly Pyrrhic victory in the recent elections not only because he'd tried to offset religious rightists' defections from his coalition by moving farther right himself; his big mistake was to assume "that the center was as dead as the left. [But] the center, unimaginably, woke from years of suspended animation."